Hi, I'm Elyse. Poke around the site to see the results of my explorations in vegan cooking often inspired by local, seasonal, organic produce.
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Yes, this is a VEGAN blog! And this is my cat Luna (which is short for Lunatic). Despite this picture of a cat in a stock pot, all the recipes on this site are free of any animal products. That includes poultry, red meat, fish, cheese, dairy, eggs...and cats.
The Latest and Greatest
March 10, 2014
Green & Gluten-Free Falafel
After a tough HIIT workout on Sunday morning, I was craving something full of good carbs, protein, and powerful flavor. I also wanted a meal that would complement a good workout, something that was filling but still healthy and wholesome. A big stash of parsley in the fridge led me to choose falafels as the workout recovery food of choice.
Entrees with Middle Eastern influences are some of my all-time favorite dishes. Many dishes are naturally vegetarian and even gluten-free. I adore hummus, tabouleh, fattoush, meatless kibbee, and so many other staples in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Some notes on the ingredients: Although I don’t personally have an aversion towards wheat products, I do recognize the benefits of using a diverse array of flour choices. There are so many amazing, protein-rich, and fiber-filled flours that don’t include gluten that are fun to experiment with. Some of my favorites include lentil flour, brown rice flour, amaranth flour, millet flour, and chickpea flour which is featured in this recipe. I also find that some of my more popular recipes are the ones which cater to those with food allergies or gluten intolerance. Since many traditional falafel recipes call for wheat, I decided to go for a non-gluten option.
I added red onion to the party along with lots of garlic to give these lots of flavor. You can certainly use a white or yellow onion if the red onion is too strong for your taste. Same goes for the garlic, if that’s too much for you – or you really love vampires, feel free to reduce. I kept the parsley at a rough chop so that the bright green color can really shine through. Although this dish is inspired by Middle Eastern staples, the color just screams Spring and seemed appropriate for the upcoming St. Patty’s day holiday. These would be great served at a party alongside a tall mug of beer! They are definitely satisfying for snacking with their crispy outer layer and warm, creamy center. Add some of the tahini lemon dressing and you’ll be a very happy diner.
The Zatar spice mix in the dressing can be purchased pre-mixed at Middle Eastern markets. When we aren’t making ours from scratch, we purchase it at a lovely local Lebanese market and deli. If you’re feeling ambitious, make a big batch using my recipe in my tabouleh recipe here.
Lastly, I’m sure you noticed that they aren’t fried or rolled into any extra breadcrumbs. I was able to achieve a crisp outer texture without added fat and calories. What’s not to love about that?!
Let me know what you think of these! They are definitely more “rustic” than your average falafel which tends to be mixed into a less chunky texture. I actually prefer mine this way because you can taste and see each and every ingredient. I think it makes for a fun presentation and tasting experience, but would love to hear your thoughts.
Green & Gluten-Free Falafel
Keywords: bake appetizer entree snack side gluten-free nut-free
Ingredients (Makes 4-6 Servings)
1. Preheat oven to 350˚ and line baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Place oven safe drying rack above the prepared pan. You’ll be cooking the falafel on top of the drying rack to ensure each side of the falafel balls gets heated equally.
2. Prepare the dressing by blending all ingredients. Set aside.
3. After rinsing the chickpeas, place in large bowl and mash until each bean is at least mashed in half and flattened. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and parsley. Mix well.
4. Add 2/3 cup of the dressing, salt, cayenne, and flour to the mixture and stir well to combine. Use your hands as needed.
5. Once mixed, form small balls out of chickpeas. I made mine about 1” in diameter. Place on top of the drying rack on prepared baking sheet.
6. Once all balls are formed, baking for 30 minutes or until crisp on the outside.
7. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve with the remaining dressing as dip or as salad dressing.
March 8, 2014
I was never one to order alfredo sauces at restaurants, even in the days I was eating dairy with regularity. Although I've never been a big person (minus those awkward middle school years) I have always found myself steering away from rich, oily, and fatty meal items. I didn't steer away because of worry of my weight, it was that it never left me feeling satisfied in the way it appears others think rich, creamy foods leave them. Fact is, anytime I'd eat some rich cheesy sauce, I felt pretty crappy afterwards. Until now!
Surf around the Internet and it will become clear they are a hot new topic in the foodie community. Although reluctant to be that person to make ANOTHER cauli-fredo recipe, I decided that I needed to join in. This was mostly because I had a giant head of cauliflower sitting in the back of the fridge (readily available in winter), but-hey, might as well jump on the bandwagon.
So here's the thing: aside from the concept, I haven't actually read any cauliflower alfredo recipes. I based mine off of my typical "cheese-like" sauces that have plenty of nutritional yeast (nooch) and soaked cashews. The cashew/nooch combo certainly WAS inspired by plenty of other vegan chefs around.
To make it more like an alfredo than a cheeze sauce, I added lots and lots of garlic, black pepper, and wine. Well...hold on. I WANTED to add white wine. After a long work week, I was a little lazy and didn't feel like running to the liquor store for only cooking wine, so I improvised. If you don't want to make my applesauce, vinegar, broth concoction, you can totally use white wine instead (add just over 1/4 cup), otherwise, this recipe will be agreeable to those with any opposition to alcohol in food (I don't personally know anybody like that...but they MUST be out there right?).
So now comes the cauliflower. I was pretty worried as I wrote out the ingredients and amounts. I feared that cauliflower would make the alfredo too watery and gritty. Nope! Pure, creamy bliss. I am fortunate enough to have a Vitamix blender, but I believe that enough time in a standard blender should do the trick. I left the Vitamix on for at least 2 solid minutes, so I suggest more for a non-super-powered bender.
I served my alfredo over gluten free spaghetti. You can do whatever you wish. In fact, instead of a second heaping bowl of pasta, I just steamed some kale and peas and added a big dollop of alfredo on top. It was magnificent. You can make the sauce ahead and store in the fridge until ready to re-heat as well. It should keep for a week in airtight storage.
Hope you enjoy this one! Let me know if you make it. How do you feel about cauliflower as a base for a cream sauce?
Keywords: blender saute entree gluten-free sugar-free soy-free
Ingredients (4 Servings)
Fill medium sized pot with water, bring to boil.
1. Steam cauliflower and set aside. You can do this however you like, but if you’re strapped for time, go for the microwave. Throw some plastic wrap over a bowl of freshly rinsed cauliflower. Be sure to allow the steam to exit from the edge of the bowl (don’t cover tightly!). Microwave on full power for 3-4 min.
2. Saute onion and oil until onion is caramelized, soft/brown (7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally). Add minced garlic and cook another 1 minute.
3. Lower heat and add broth, applesauce, and vinegar. Stir well to combine and cook until reduced (about 3 minutes). Turn off heat and set aside.
4. Drain soaked cashews and put in blender or food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, almond milk, salt, water and cauliflower. Add the garlic/onion reduction last so it has cooled at least 5 minutes. Blend until smooth and creamy.
5. During this time, once water is boiling, add your noodles and cook according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain and add sauce from blender. Serve immediately.