Classic Falafels

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Today feels like a day when I need to count my blessings. I was just editing the latest episode of Guinea Pigging Green (out tomorrow!) and when it was over our episode about The Line started playing and I just let it run. (Side note: is it weird to listen to your own podcast? I think the jury’s still out on that one.)

I needed to hear it. I’ve been feeling caught up in my head and stressed out lately, and the idea of the line hasn’t been on my mind very much over the last couple of weeks. I’d also forgotten that we’d talked a lot about practicing gratitude in the episode, and I think I needed that reminder. I’m so grateful for that healthy dose of soul talk and perspective with Laura this morning. Life has been moving really fast lately and it’s been easy to let my automatic reactions carry me along, but being present and refocusing is so much harder. Even so, I have so very much to be grateful for.

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As I was listening to the episode, I was making falafels. They remind me of home: our big wooden kitchen table, my mom’s delicious garlic sauce, people coming and going. I’d never made falafels before today (heretofore I’ve just purchased them premade from Costco or President’s Choice) but they were so easy and really delicious. They aren’t deep-fried, so of course they’re less crunchy-crispy, but since I haven’t had falafels in months, they were perfect.

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I loosely followed this recipe from Oh She Glows, and it worked out perfectly. I substituted bread crumbs for ground flax, plus added maybe a 1/4 cup more breadcrumbs than she called for since I was using an Asian-style breadcrumb (more like Panko) that seemed a bit less dense than what I’d normally use. I also used chives instead of the fresh cilantro and parsley she calls for, because those particular fresh herbs are hard to come by in Korea. The chives gave the falafels such a beautiful green colour!

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On the side, I made a little garlic yogurt sauce and just chopped some tomatoes and cucumbers, mixed together with a bit of salt and lemon juice. I ended up eating some of my falafels in a whole wheat pita with the sauce and salad all mixed in with a bit of extra lemon juice, and it was the perfect lunch.

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Again, the recipe for these yummy falafels is right here. Enjoy!

Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Summer Rolls

I posted a “recipe” for summer rolls – aka non-deep-fried spring rolls – a few years ago, but I recently developed a new favourite ingredient combo (this time fully vegan) so I thought they’d be worth posting about again. I’ve been taking these into work with me lately and even though they often fall apart by dinnertime, they’re so tasty that I usually don’t even mind. It’s like mini packages of salad! So fresh and so clean.

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My current favourite mix of ingredients is tofu, leeks (or green onions), peanuts, red pepper, tofu and sweet chili sauce. I don’t need to handhold you here – just chop them all up! It’s all raw, so this is a very easy meal to prepare. Soak your rice paper wraps in warm water for around ten seconds, then spread them out on a flat surface and pile everything on! Like so:

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Then you want to tuck up the bottom, fold in the sides, and roll it all up like a burrito. It gets easier and tidier with practice, but sometimes I still end up with a floppy mess. One time, I just wrapped the whole mess in another rice paper, which was surprisingly an excellent fix!

DSC_3431I’ve been eating these with a homemade peanut sauce, which really makes them that much better. I usually half this recipe and season it to taste (since I don’t have sesame oil at the moment). It has good proportions though, and the resulting sauce has a great texture.

DSC_3532Yummy, right? This is exactly the kind of food I want to eat when it’s really hot outside. No standing over a hot stove please! My apartment doesn’t need to be stuffier than it already is.

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You could definitely customize this “recipe” in any way you want to! Different vegetables, maybe even some fruit like pineapple or mango, and fresh herbs would of course be wonderful. I’m sure I’ll be mixing it up quite a bit as the summer progresses. Happy eating!

Vegan Cashew Cheese

Vegan Cashew CheeseHoly yummy, batman! Even though it’s true that I can eat the same thing over and over, lately I’ve been getting bored with what I’ve been eating. That’s part of why I love that I made this resolution to try new recipes: it breaks me out of food ruts and keeps my mind open to different meal ideas. The other part of why I love it, of course, is because the results so far have been very tasty. There’s also a third reason, and that is that I really love cooking and puttering around in the kitchen. It makes me feel industrious and healthier. I love that sentiment from Michael Pollan: “Eat anything you want, just cook it yourself.” I’ve been trying to embrace that more lately.

Oh Dear Drea is a blog that makes vegan living look easy. I was opening browser tabs like crazy yesterday, getting so much inspiration for delicious, easy vegan food. I had a huge bag of cashews in my kitchen, so I decided that this cashew cheese recipe would be the first one I’d try. Despite making a few changes to her original recipe, it still turned out great.

Vegan Cashew Cheese 2Cashew Cheese

Adapted from Oh Dear Drea

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in a bowl of water for 1+ hours
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • Herbs

Soak the cashews for an hour or more. Drain them but save the water. Blend together all your ingredients, adding spoonfuls of cashew water until you reach your desired consistency (like a queso sauce). I forgot to pick up lemons so I substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice the original recipe called for. Next time I’ll try with lemons and nutritional yeast because I know that would make it that much more delicious.

20140617-152044.jpgI’d treated myself to a garlic baguette (my first baguette since arriving in Korea!) after my run this morning, and loved eating some pieces of it with this yummy sauce. I think this would be great on a vegan pizza, like it was suggested in the original post. I’m excited to use it in veggie wraps and tacos too! Really it seems like you could just throw it on just about anything. The recipe makes a lot, almost a cup full, so I’m looking forward to discovering all the possibilities.

Yum! Dig in, friends.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

DSC_3350“I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say “nothing”, I mean nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.” – Julie & Julia

Just replace “day” with “week”, “egg yolks” with “chia seeds”, “sugar” with “maple syrup” and add a “soy” to “milk” and voila: you have a quote that represents exactly how I feel right now. Walking home on Monday after getting the news about my school, I actually heard this quote in my head and was struck with the urge to watch the movie for the hundredth time.

And this morning, after I woke up feeling kind of small and defeated and not at all abundant, I made this pudding. I let it set up in the fridge while I went to the park – intending to do yoga but, after realizing that the platforms I usually use for my practice had been taken over by dozens of small Korean children playing, I just sat on a bench thinking instead – and tried it when I got home.

The taste is amazing, just like chocolate pudding but actually healthy, so no guilt required. The texture however needs a little work, my first few bites were too slimy for my liking. Blending in some steel cut oats really helped to give it a more palatable texture, but it could have still been smoother. It probably doesn’t help that my blender isn’t very high-powered so the seeds weren’t broken down much.

Of course, none of that is stopping me from spooning it into my mouth non-stop as I write this. It really is tasty.

DSC_3347Chocolate Chia Pudding

Adapted from Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup soy or nut milk
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp steel cut oats
  • pinch of salt

Blend all your ingredients together until smooth. Let the pudding set in the fridge for about an hour or until it’s the consistency you like. Having a high-powered blender will help make this pudding smoother so that you don’t taste the chia seeds.

And with that, I’m off to (probably) watch Julie and Julia clips until it’s time for me to go to work. If I’m not doing that, you’ll find me at the Korean diner, eating kimchi fried rice and trying my hardest not to worry/cry.

Happy Thursday, friends!