Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

If you want to make your dog mad, strap a monkey to their back and take their picture.

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Seriously mom, you are SO annoying.

Go to youtube and look up “baby monkey (backwards on a pig)” and this will be much funnier.

Why were we here again…? Oh yeah, food.

I had never tried butternut squash before making this soup. I was afraid of anything called squash (and most vegetables for that matter). So I understand some people will cringe at the thought of pureed squash. My boyfriend is terrified of butternut squash. I think maybe he was attacked my a giant squash when he was a kid. It must have been pretty traumatizing…he can hardly stand the sight of the stuff now. Poor guy 😦

The thing I love about this soup, besides it being really yummy, is that it is so cheap to make! Pretty much all you need to buy is squash, an onion, a small pepper and some ginger. And this soup will last you allllllll week and then some.

I purchased pre-cut up squash to save some time (costco has pre-cut squash!). The best way to prepare a whole squash for this recipe is to use a serrated peeler to peel the entire squash, then cut the long part from the bulbous part, then cut each half in half. Then scrape the seeds out. Then cut the squash into large chunks for roasting.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Taken from Vegan with a Vengeance

5 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into large pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 hot chili, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, mined
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3-6 tablespoons lime juice

Preheat oven to 425˚. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray. Place the cut squash on the baking sheet and spread a little olive oil them. I use a high-tech method of pouring oil on my hands and rubbing my hands on the squash. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted.
In the meantime, in a large stockpot over medium heat sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the chilies and sauté 5 more minutes. Last, add the ginger, garlic and salt and sauté for 2 more minutes.
Here is the tricky part where you need patience or else you will end up with a big mess. This is when I wish I had a vitamix blender. Get your blender or food processor out. Place the onion mixture in the food processor along with some of the squash and some broth. Puree until smooth and then pour into the stockpot. Repeat with remaining broth and squash in small batches until it’s all in the stockpot. Add maple syrup and lime juice.

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Roasted squash

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Pureed squash

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Squash soup!

Have a lovely fall weekend!

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Seems like you can’t look at pinterest for 1 minute without seeing about a dozen “cookie dough” recipes these days. I have been itching to make some of this yummy looking dough and since one of my best friends just had a baby I figured that was a good excuse to make some! Nothing says congratulations on giving birth like cookie dough, am I right?!

Well maybe not but she’s getting cookie dough anyway.

I tried a recipe I found on pinterest but it was kind of a bust so it turned into a recipe very similar to what I’ve made on here before. This time though, I opted to leave the dough in a more natural state so it looked more cookie-dough-esque instead of rolling it into balls.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup oats
1/2 cup flour of your choice (more or less)
3 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chocolate chips

In a food processor, process the cashews, oats, flour and salt to a fine consistency. Add the agave, maple syrup and vanilla. Process again until a dough ball forms. If it’s too dry add more agave or syrup. If it’s too wet add more flour. Add the chocolate chips and stir with a spatula to incorporate.
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, form the dough into balls or bites, whatever floats your boat. Store in the fridge or freezer.

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As promised, here is a Lilly update. Lilly is 100% back to her old self.

Here she is on a walk.

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Now I know you are thinking, Laura, it doesn’t look like she’s walking. That looks like she is laying on the ground in some bark. You would be right. I took Lilly on a walk and all she wanted to do was lay in the dirty bark. Look closely at that face.

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That face says, Stop telling me to get up mother. I’m sun bathing. Deal with it. I tell you, she is the sassiest dog.

I’m baaack! And I have a Vegan Cheese Sauce Recipe!

I’ve been a baaaaaaaad blogger. Believe me, I know.

Last week I went to North Carolina for work (also my first time in NC, so exciting!). It was just for a few days but because I was gone over the weekend that meant no time for making new recipes. Nope. It was scrounge out of the freezer week for me. It hasn’t been pretty.

Plus I am STIIIILLLLLL on that cleanse. Seriously, right? So I’ve just been eating the same ol’ stuff week after week. But like all good things, the cleanse is coming to an end, hehehe! :):):) I have another week and a half left and when I am done I will post my final thoughts on the ongoing science experiment that is my life. 🙂

I have a lot of new recipes to post in the next couple weeks so stay tuned!

I have been wanting to make a vegan cheese sauce since before I started this cleanse nearly two months ago. But cashews and miso were outlawed on the cleanse so my cheese project has been on hold.

Well the wait is over! Cheese lovers rejoice!!

First, one observation. Taking pictures of brown leaves is very easy. Fall colors are so beautiful, you can do no wrong.

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Taken from my trail run today in Millcreek Canyon

Taking pictures of brown/orange/fall colored food is VERY HARD.

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This is vegan cheese sauce over pasta. Delicious but not beautiful.

This was my first attempt at vegan cheese and I’m really pleased with the way it turned out. It makes the perfect amount of sauce for 1 pound of pasta but it would be really good on vegetables or as a queso dip. This recipe calls for nutritional yeast. I have never been a huge fan of “nooch” as vegans call it, but in this sauce I like it quite a lot. You can purchase nutritional yeast in the bulk section at Whole Foods. This recipe also calls for white miso. I am no miso expert but I would guess if you can’t find white miso, brown miso would work just as well…? Try it and let me know. 🙂

Vegan Cheese Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup cashews, soaked in water overnight
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons white miso
2 teaspoons tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves mince garlic
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Drain the cashews and place them in a blender along with the broth, miso and tapioca starch. Blend for several minutes until very smooth. The smoother the better.
Preheat a sauce pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil until it starts to brown and is very soft. Add the garlic and salt and saute another minute.
Transfer the pepper/onion mixture to the blender. Add the nutritional yeast and puree until very, very smooth.
Transfer the mixture back to the sauce pan and turn the heat up to medium. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring often with a whisk. Once the sauce is boiling, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. The sauce will thicken nicely and if it gets too thick whisk in a little water.
Add the lemon juice and serve hot.
For more of a nacho cheese sauce add a hot red pepper when cooking the pepper and onion.

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This is what miso paste looks like. It’s in the refrigerated section.

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And while I’m taking pictures of items in my fridge, this is my favorite vegetable broth. It lasts a long time, has a great flavor and doesn’t take up much space.

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And just in case you’ve missed Lilly…check back Wednesday for a new picture! Have a great week!!!

Vega Protein Dessert Treats 2 Ways!

I am in the biggest food rut! It’s not really a rut though, it’s just that I’m still on my cleanse and I am honestly enjoying the same ol’ foods day after day! Combine that with a busy, fun filled schedule and that means I haven’t had much time to experiment in the kitchen.

I couldn’t face doing a post here without a new recipe though.

I thought about just posting pictures of Lilly instead.

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She has put a little weight on since her brush with death and is looking much better 🙂
Oh, and there has been speculation recently that my “boyfriend” I speak of is not real. Well he is, and if you look closely in this picture you can see his feet! Almost proof of his existence 🙂

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Mama’s lil hillbilly

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Worn out from a craaaaazy day of sleeping

Back to the cleanse. It’s been 6 weeks already! I fell off the wagon last weekend and had a brownie. It was delicious! But afterward my stomach was very angry with me. So that motivated me to keep on this sugar-less, pancake-less, chocolate-less path.

The good news is, I have perfected beet chips! I know everyone is excited to hear that. This weekend I used gold beets. Ooh la la! Here is the method I now use. Heat oven to 350˚, slice beets as thin as possible. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with non-cook spray. Line beets on tray as close as possible without overlapping. Spray beets with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt or season salt. Bake for 30-50 minutes aiming for somewhere between soggy and burnt to a crisp.

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To say I do not miss sweets would be a lie. I do miss them. I often think about what I will introduce back into my life first. I have been pinning desserts on pinterest like crazy! Since I can’t eat dessert I just look at pictures of it? What a weirdo.

As I was craving dessert late at night I went foraging in my kitchen and whipped up a nearly cleanse worthy treat. The only thing I cheated on was a tiny bit of agave nectar. I needed something sticky to hold the ball together and agave nectar was close by. These aren’t by any means going to replace real cookies but if you are looking for a healthy, nearly sugar free “treat” then look no further. The mint version is my favorite.

Vega Protein Dessert Balls
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
3 tablespoons chocolate vega sport protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
a drizzle of agave nectar
shredded coconut for rolling

Mix the almond butter, coconut, vega and ground flax in a small bowl. Drizzle agave nectar in to make the mixture stick together.
Roll the mixture into 7 – 8 balls. Roll each ball in coconut. Store in the freezer.

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Vega Peppermint Patties
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
3 tablespoons chocolate vega sport protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract/flavor
a drizzle of agave nectar
shredded coconut for rolling

Mix the almond butter, coconut, vega, cacao, peppermint and ground flax in a small bowl. Drizzle agave nectar in to make the mixture stick together.
Roll the mixture into 7 – 8 patties. Press the patties into coconut on both sides. Store in the freezer.

Black Bean Sliders

Veggie burger alert!! These sliders are AMAZING!!!!!

I believe these are my new favorite burger and I will definitely be making sure my freezer stays stocked with them at all times. They were easy to make and the texture and consistency is just right. Not mushy or soggy at all.

They are delicious eaten alone or topped with avocado or eaten as a burger of course.

I got this recipe out of my Thrive cookbook but changed a few ingredients in order to make it more “supermarket friendly”. I personally do not enjoy going on scavenger hunts throughout the city trying to find rare ingredients.

Makes 25 small burger patties

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves minced garlic
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
6 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (probably optional but I think it adds good flavor)
Sea salt to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)

In a large frying pan sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in the olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.

While the veggies cook, get a very large mixing bowl out. In the mixing bowl, combine the flax seed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chili powder, cumin, nutritional yeast and salt.

I used a food processor for the next part but if you don’t have one you can just use a fork or your hands. The goal is basically to get the beans mushed up. Not puréed, just to the point where there are some whole beans and some smashed beans.

In a food processor, combine the rice and one can of beans. Pulse a few times to smash the beans a little, then transfer to the large mixing bowl full of spices. Then, take the remaining can of beans and the sautéed vegetables and pulse them together a few times in the food processor, again just to smash the beans a tad. Not puréed. Transfer to the mixing bowl.

Stir everything together in the mixing bowl. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. This part is key because the flax seed will absorb moisture and give the dough a good texture.

After 30 minutes, get out 2 baking sheets and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Do not use parchment paper as it will catch on fire when the oven is on broil. I learned that the hard way.

Form the dough into small patties, aka sliders, and place them on the baking sheets. Or make large patties, it’s up to you. Set the oven to broil. Broil for 5-8 minutes or until sliders start to brown a little.

Eat some right away and freeze the rest for later.

Enjoy!

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Tomatillo Avocado Soup

This is kind of a funny recipe. I found it in Runners World magazine and it just had real vague instructions and ingredient amounts. It looked good to me though since it had avocados, lime and cilantro in it-a winning combination for any recipe! Plus I have been in the mood for soup lately but it’s still too hot and this is a soup you eat cold. I have never been a fan of cold soup, or most cold foods for that matter but this soup is really good! The other reason I say it’s funny is because it’s like eating a bowl of green salsa/guacamole which doesn’t seem right at first. This soup would also make a great salad dressing, dip or burger topping. It is very refreshing and perfect for a summer day. I will definitely be making it again!

Adapted from Runners World

Ingredients:
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 avocados
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1/2 of a red bell pepper
1/4 of a red onion
1/2 – 1 bunch of cilantro (I used almost a full bunch)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse the sticky residue off. Roughly chop them (they will be getting puréed later so don’t waste time chopping them all pretty). In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped tomatillos and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add the vegetable broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and place mixture in the fridge until it is nice and cool.
Once the tomatillo mixture is cool, transfer it to a blender or food processor. Add the avocados, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, lime and salt and purée.
Serve cool. Store in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed into the top so it doesn’t turn brown.
Makes about 6 servings.
Eat alone, served over beans and rice, in a salad, on a burger or whatever way you can think of!

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