Toasted quinoa salad with jalapeno-lime dressing

Toasted quinoa salad with jalapeno-lime dressing

Today is Tomato Tuesday, and bloggers all throughout blog world are dedicating their tomato based posts to raise awareness about slavery in America. That’s right, I said slavery. In America. On tomato fields in Florida, to be exact.

For years, industrial tomato farmers have skirted their way around antiquated US labor laws, and have utilized practices that abuse basic human rights – like the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in 1865. ALMOST 150 YEARS AGO. Yet, over 1,000 people have been freed from slavery in US tomato fields over the course of the past 15 years. And there are still more to be freed. Together, we can halt this injustice and put an end to the exploitation of tomato farmworkers in Florida.

Toasted quinoa salad with jalapeno-lime dressing

All we have to do is convince major supermarket chains to join the Fair Food Program. When they do, they’ll agree to pay a mere one and a half cents more (per pound) for tomatoes that are harvested under ethical conditions. One and a half cents, that’s all it costs. Once there is no longer a demand for tomatoes from farms that refuse to follow basic human rights laws, they will have no choice but to adhere to the new standards – fair wages and working conditions for all. Slave-free tomatoes.
Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are doing their part, and now it’s our job to convince Ahold, Publix and Kroger to do the same. Act now and send a message asking major US supermarket chains to join the Fair Food Program. Or download the petition and join those in your community in telling local supermarkets that you will not accept anything less than slave-free tomatoes on the shelves. Together, we have the capacity to make a difference and end slavery in US tomato fields.

Toasted quinoa salad with jalapeno-lime dressing

As much as I’d like to take credit for this recipe, I can’t – this was one of the side dishes my incredibly handsome man served at my birthday dinner a few months back. If you can’t get your hands on rainbow quinoa, just use regular quinoa (or brown rice). And if you can’t find grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes would be a great substitute. To amp up this salad, throw in some black beans and a few handfuls of lettuce, and you’ve got yourself a burrito bowl.

TOASTED QUINOA SALAD WITH JALAPENO-LIME DRESSING (AND SLAVE-FREE TOMATOES)

1 cup rainbow quinoa, rinsed
2 cups filtered water
Juice and zest of one lime
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
15 slave-free grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup fresh corn
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced

Add the quinoa to a saucepan set over medium heat. Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes, until the quinoa releases a nutty aroma. Stir for another minute then add the water and cover. Once the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Allow the quinoa to boil for 20 minutes (or until all of the water has been absorbed) then remove from heat and let to cool.
While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice and zest, oil, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, paprika and salt. Set aside until ready to use. Once the quinoa has cooled, stir in the dressing, then mix in the tomatoes, onions, corn and cilantro. Mix in the avocados immideately before serving. If desired, add sprouted lentils or black beans. Store salad in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Yield: 4 side servings
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Roasted blueberry frozen yogurt

Roasted blueberry frozen yogurt

Life has been nothing but a steady stream of good, lately. Nothing necessarily exciting has happened (ok, nothing exciting has happened) (at all), but I wake up every morning feeling happy. Energized. Motivated to be the best person I can. Because I’ve discovered that making it a priority to be a good person – to every single human I encounter – has changed my view on life. Not to mention, it’s changed my purpose in life. It is now my perogative to be a good-doer. No matter what. No matter if I’m having the shittiest day of my week, I will do good for someone else. Because maybe they’re having a shitty day, too. And maybe a glass of ice cold lemonade will make their problems seems a little less terrible. Even if it is just a glass of ice cold lemonade.
Going with the theme of being a good person, I started doing good for a homeless man who sleeps on a bench across the street from my bedroom window. I’ve spent a countless number of nights peering out said window, looking down at the man as he tries to get comfortable on a wooden bench that is much too small for his lengthy body. I cry. Then I laugh. Because life is so funny sometimes. There’s a grown man trying to sleep on a tiny bench. Ha ha ha! THAT’S NOT FUNNY. Sob. Sob hard. Repeat cycle. I watch him as he attempts to jimmy his backpack into a pillow. As he takes off his combat boots and places them neatly under the bench. And I cry. Then I try to wipe my tears and hurry into bed before Thom comes in to tell me goodnight.

The good ranges. I don’t think that what I do is important – nor do I think it’s necessary to talk about the good you do (it kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?) – but I’ve noticed that it’s a growing trend in our society to be complete assholes to one another. When someone smiles at you, you smile back. When someone holds a door for you, you say thank you. And when someone is sitting on a bench all day, in triple digit heat, you take them a glass of something cold. Because that’s what Jesus would freaking do.

In the event you need convincing of the magical powers of doing good – I ran into him on the bus one day last week. When he finally got around to realizing who I was, he came over and told me how much he appreciated me taking time out of my day to make sure he had a glass of cold lemonade. He told me how much he looked forward to me coming around with a bag of treats, and how every time he saw me out, my half-smile (you know, the one sans chompers) made his day. I started crying. A wave of feel-good emotions rushed over me and I just sat there, laughing and crying in harmony. He just stood there and looked at me like I was crazy.
I was. But up until then, I never realized the impact even the smallest act of kindness can have on a person. It didn’t take much for me to grab him a lemonade from the restaurant across the street. Or wrap up some treats on my way out. So be nice. Smile at people. And when you get the opportunity to do something good – do it. Don’t hesitate. Just do it. Because we’re all humans, and we all deserve to be treated with kindness and a little something special every once in a while. Like frozen yogurt. With roasted blueberries. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Roasted blueberry frozen yogurt

If you want to replace the soy products with coconut yogurt and coconut milk, you can do that. And if you want to replace the frozen blueberries with fresh, you can also do that. Costco has had crazy good deals on organic frozen fruit lately (blueberries! cherries! raspberries! oh my!) so I’ve been trying to include them in things other than my smoothies. I didn’t use the xanthan gum trick this time, but if you want to eliminate the formation of icicles in your frozen yogurt, add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the yogurt base. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, try this method via David Lebovitz.

ROASTED BLUEBERRY FROZEN YOGURT

3 cups soy yogurt
1/4 cup soy cream
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the yogurt, cream, sugar and almond extract. Bring to a boil and continue whisking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate until cooled. While the mixture is cooling, roast the blueberries at 425˚F for 20 minutes. If desired, sprinkle them with a bit of sugar prior to roasting. Once the yogurt mixture has cooled, pour it into the bowl of your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the roasted blueberries (and juice) once the mixture has been churning for 20 minutes. Eat ice cream immideately (it will be somewhat soft) or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Five steps to making a good salad

Big ass salad

It’s been brought to my attention that my ice cream recipes have convinced a few of you that you’re going to need to invest in new wardrobes. So, I have a solution to counteract that problem: raw vegetables. And lots of ’em. Even if you get bored with eating vegetables, I’m fairly certain you’ll learn to love them if you follow the requirements to building a filling, big ass salad, listed below.

. . . . .

1. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: chop all of your ingredients. Don’t like mushrooms? Chop ’em! Can’t stand avocados? Chop those, too. Chopping the vegetables allows you to easily mask the flavors of the vegetables you don’t like. Not to mention, it packs a variety of flavors= into each bite.
2. Eliminate the need for dressing by bagging your toppings. Place all of your chopped, fresh produce (except for the lettuce) into a plastic bag. Add a pinch of salt, seal, toss and let sit for 30 minutes – the vegetables will produce a liquid, which will act as your dressing. But if you absolutely have to use dressing, dilute it. I’m a sucker for Brianna’s poppy seed dressing – and when I use it, it takes about 1/4 cup to coat my salad. That’s a lot of unnecessary sugar, so I dilute the dressing using one part water to one part dressing. Works like a charm!
3. Always add fruit. Always. I’m partial to apples, berries and currants (or raisins) (or dates). Getting a bite of something sweet makes eating a big ass salad a lot more tolerable.
4. Use an entire serving of each vegetable.  I start with 4-6 cups of chopped greens then add 1/2-1 cup servings of each vegetable. Carrots, celery and tomatoes always get the full 1 cup, while vegetables such as cabbage, avocado and broccoli may only get 1/2 cup. When all is said and done, your salad should be so big that you have to eat it out of a mixing bowl.
5. Drink water. Lots of it. Yeah, this isn’t necessarily a step to making a good salad – but I’ve come to find that the only way to guarantee a salad keeps me full for hours is to drink at least 32 ounces of water while I’m consuming it. Yes, this means you’re going to have to empty your bladder a few times, but it’s better than getting hungry two hours later.

Peanut butter chocolate chunk ice cream

Peanut butter chocolate chunk ice cream

DISCLAIMER: THERE’S GOING TO BE AN INFLUX OF ICE CREAM RECIPES UNTIL THE END OF SUMMER.

There’s something to be said about a spoonful of ice cream; sweating in the sun, melting in their mouths. I never realized it until we got an ice cream machine – and started making it regularly – but ice cream makes people happy. Giddy. Ecstatic, even. Walking the bowls from the kitchen to the dining area, their eyes got wide; fingers got excited. They sat as patiently as they could for the five seconds it took me to transport the bowls to the table surrounded by their quivering fingers. And then they dug in. Like scavengers that hadn’t eaten in months. Like a tiny human at it’s first birthday, shoving cake into it’s mouth. If you’ve ever witnessed it, you know what I’m talking about. And that feeling – watching them get so excited over something as simple as cream and sugar? It gives me an indescribable sense of happiness. Happy as they are, scooping the melty goodness into their faces. Happy to be able to witness something so genuine, over something as uncomplicated as ice cream. This is the good stuff, folks. This is what keeps me going.

If you don’t like the idea of using coconut milk, you can use equal amounts of soy creamer. But if you want to use soy creamer because you’re worried about the ice cream tasting like coconut, the peanut butter does a good job of masking that. Be generous with the peanut butter. I’m serious. It makes the ice cream super smooth and creamy. And delicious. Also, I’ve been making ice cream with light coconut milk (and the kind from the carton) and it comes out just fine. Not as creamy as ice cream made with full fat coconut milk, but other than there there’s not much of a difference. Use one can of full fat and one can of light and you’ll be golden.

Healthier peanut butter ice cream here.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHUNK ICE CREAM

3 1/3 cups full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (or more)
1/2 cup chocolate chunks

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together 1/4 cup of the milk, sugar and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter has melted then add the remaining milk. Bring to a boil and continue whisking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate until cooled. Once cooled, pour the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the chocolate chunks once the ice cream starts to thicken. It takes 30 minutes for my machine to make ice cream, and I added the chocolate after 10. Eat ice cream immideately (it will be somewhat soft) or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for about 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6 servings

Cinnamon rolls with maple icing

Cinnamon rolls with maple icing

I’ve never been a fan of cinnamon rolls. Or most things normal humans enjoy. But I’m a fan of baking them, and a fan of bringing them over to your house at 9 o’clock at night to surprise you. And the you we’re talking about here is Thom. Not you, you – just so we’re clear. The night I made these, I walked the pan all three blocks over to his house and shoved them into his face as soon as he opened the door. Then I followed him into the kitchen, pan in tow, as he lifted the towel to uncover the steamy buns, drenched in maple goodness. He covered them, as if he wasn’t even phased by the fact that I just surprised him with an entire pan of cinnamon rolls. He walked back into the dining room and proceeded to eat his dinner. Who eats dinner at 9 o’clock at night?
When he finally got around to trying one, his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he passed out. Because they were that good. He laid there unconscious, cinnamon roll still clinched between his fingers, until the paramedics arrived. That wasn’t even remotely true. But I’m pretty sure I did see his eyes roll into the back of his head. Did I mention he ate three (3!) before calling it a night? I mean, I don’t get it. He maintains his svelte figure after binge eating three cinnamon rolls, yet I eat one and it goes straight to my ass.
Cinnamon rolls with maple icing

I’m going to be honest – I used to think cinnamon rolls were some daunting task that required more work than they’re worth. But the truth is, making cinnamon rolls is quite simple. And the outcome wildly rewarding. I bet I spent 20 minutes total working with the actual ingredients; the rest of the time was spent washing dishes and letting the dough rise. And trust me, you need to let it rise. No cheating! You won’t have fluffy buns if you don’t let it rise. Ha, fluffy buns. That just sounds weird

If you’ve ever made cinnamon rolls from scratch, you know how important it is to get your yeast started just right. If the water you use to activate the yeast is too warm, it can kill the yeast. Too cold and it won’t activate properly. Make sure you use warm water. And if the yeast doesn’t look like this, you run the risk of having dense, chewy cinnamon rolls. No one likes dense, chewy cinnamon rolls, FYI. If you want to add more sugar to the filling, be my guest. But I was adding up the cups and realized that Thom and my homeless neighbor (I unofficially adopt the homeless person who sleeps within the closest proximity to my house) could potentially go into a diabetic coma from eating one too many of these. So I took it easy on the sugar filling.

CINNAMON ROLLS WITH MAPLE ICING
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup soy cream (or nondairy milk)
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 3/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tbsp vegan butter
1/2 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp nondairy milk
1/4 tsp pure maple extract

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add the water to a small bowl and lightly stir in the yeast; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until foamy (15-20 minutes). In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar and creamer just until warm; about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Add the salt and 3 cups of flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment; mix for 10-15 seconds. Add the butter and yeast mixture, then mix until combined. Add remaining 3/4 cup of flour and mix on medium-high speed for 6-7 minutes. If the dough is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to the prepared mixing bowl, cover with a towel and store in a warm part of your house for 60 minutes. If the dough doesn’t rise much during this time, don’t worry.
Lightly oil a 9″ square baking pan; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into an 18×12 rectangle.  Spread with butter then cover with sucanat and cinnamon. Starting at the long end, tightly (seriously, I said tightly!) roll the dough into a log, then cut it unto 9 even pieces (each will be about 1.5″ thick). Transfer the rolls to the prepare pan, leaving even spaces in between. Cover pan with a towel and allow the rolls to rise for 45-60 minutes. Bake at 375˚F for 16-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.
While the rolls are cooling, prepare the icing by stirring together the sugar, maple syrup, water and maple extract. Drizzle over cooled cinnamon rolls and serve. You can store the cinnamon rolls in an air tight container for up to three days. After the dough is cut, it can be kept frozen. When ready to use, allow the dough to thaw and rise, then bake according to instructions.
Yield: 9 rolls