Tabouli-esque Salad with Quinoa and Chick Peas

tabouli

I love traditional tabouli salad made with bulghur and with the traditional ingredients, but as a vegan, I try to incorporate plant-based proteins in my diet, and quinoa is a good one for that.   I’m also following Bright Line eating and grains are only allowed in the morning BUT quinoa (albeit a grain) is counted as a protein which means I can make this tabouli salad for lunch or dinner and still stay on track!  YAY!  So it’s Tabouli-esque… or tabouli inspired.  I added a few other non-traditional ingredients too, and the result was great.

 

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. quinoa
  • 1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped (no stems)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 large green onions, thinly sliced
  • a handful of shredded carrots (for color and crunch)
  • and a 1/2 can of chick peas, drained
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)

In a saucepan, add 2/3 c quinoa with 1 1/3 c water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover with a lid, and lower the flame to low.  Allow the water to absorb into the quinoa.  When the water is almost all absorbed, turn off the flame, keep the lid on and allow the quinoa to finish cooking by steam.

Prep your veggies.  In a large bowl combine the finely chopped parsley, diced tomatoes, shredded carrots, green onions.

Using a strainer, add water to your cooked quinoa and pour it all into a metal strainer, rinsing with cold water (gently) to cool your quinoa for immediate use.  Add the quinoa to the veggies.  Add in the drained and rinsed chick peas. Mix it up.  Add the olive oil and the juice of one large lemon, salt and pepper to taste.  You line your serving bowl with romaine lettuce leaves (the middle leaves (not too large, not too small) and use the leaves to scoop and eat the tabouli salad.  That’s all there is to it.

I’d love to hear how you liked this recipe so feel free to leave me comments.  Enjoy!

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Vegan Rice Pudding – It’s what’s for dessert!

Need to take dessert to a potluck and don’t know what to take?  I’ve made this rice pudding recipe time and time again, and even my non-vegan friends are surprised at it’s creamy yumminess!

This recipe will make a 9″ x 13″ cassserole size….so about 16 servings.rice pudding

  • 1 cup of short grain (Calrose) rice
  • 1/2 gallon of almond milk (plain or vanilla)
  • 1 cup water
  • Doterra Wild Orange or Tangerine oil (optional) or vanilla flavoring (optional)
  • Sugar to taste (optional)

I’ll start by saying that I modify this recipe depending on the crowd I’m serving.  The sugar makes it sweet…but if you’re using vanilla almond milk, it’s sweet enough (for me).  So that’s why we add the sugar after the pudding has reached it’s thickness.

Start off with a large soup pot.  Add your rice and water and bring it to a boil.  All you’re doing is allowing the rice to “open” and be partially cooked.  You want to be present and stir it as it boils to keep it from sticking to the bottom. You want the rice to just be partially cooked (still crunchy but definitely softened).  Next, add the full 1/2 gallon container to your rice and stir.  Given that your almond milk would be cold…you’ll want to heat this up until it gets hot not boiling, and then you have to be watchful.  Turn the heat down to low and let it cook.  Every 5 minutes or so, give it a stir.  It’s going to take a good 40 minutes for this to get thick and creamy…and as it thickens you’ll need to be more watchful stirring more often.  A skin will form on the top between stirrings.  Just stir it back in.  When it gets creamy thick (it’s going to thicken as it cools), turn off the heat.

Taste it.  Is it sweet enough?  If not, add a little sugar.  I also like to flavor mine with a little DoTerra wild orange or tangerine oils (these are certified pure therapeutic grade oils that are ingestible – not all are, so be careful).  3 drops per the 1/2 gallon of milk.  Mix it all up.

Pour the thickened pudding into your casserole dish.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  You can make it ahead of time, cover and refrigerate.  Or you can serve it room temperature or warm.

If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear what you thought.  Enjoy!

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

broccoli soupI read a recipe online for a non-dairy creamy broccoli soup that got me thinking of creating this recipe vegan.  I tried it for the first time today and it was great, super easy, and filling.  Here’s the recipe:

You’ll need either a blender or a hand blender to puree.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large broccoli stalks/crowns
  • 2 small or 1 large brown onion, sliced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can of white beans
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Use a big soup pot.  Start off by heating your olive oil in the pan.  Add in sliced onion and garlic.  Put a lid on it and let it cook/steam for a while.  In the meantime, wash and prep the broccoli.  Slice the thick stalks in half lengthwise, and rough chop into pieces along with the florets.  Add to the onions and garlic with about 3 cups of vegetable broth.  Cover.  Cook on stovetop fo about 20-30 minutes until the broccoli is super soft and well cooked.

When adding hot food to the blender, be careful to start it off on a low setting and build up to high.  Add broccoli, onions and garlic to your blender, or use your hand blender and puree.  Add one full can of white beans with liquid.  Puree.  When the texture is smooth, transfer it back into the pot to heat and mix in the seasoning.  The addition of the beans gives the soup more body and adds protein.

 

I seasoned with salt, pepper, no-salt seasoning (from Costco), and some cayenne pepper just to give it a little punch. Serve with a sprinkling of sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Served 5 good-sized portions.

I would love to hear how you liked it so please feel free to leave comments.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Soy Milk Yogurt (Vegan)

I grew up in an Armenian household.  Although we are Armenian Americans, my parents raised us to keep our language and our culture alive.  Along with that were the music, arts, and cooking of our people.  One of the things I remember distinctly about my childhood was that my mother would make yogurt nearly every Saturday.  We always had yogurt in the house, plain, custardy.  I used to love eating mine for breakfast with piece of toast in it along with sugar and cinnamon.

There were no fancy yogurt makers back then.  Nor were there all the varieties and flavors of yogurt that there are today.  The Armenian way was to keep a little bit of the old batch of yogurt.  Heat a quart of milk in a corningware covered dish.  Scald the milk but don’t let it boil.  And when you could dip your pinky into it and have it feel like it was luke warm, you would add your starter, stir, cover, wrap in a towel and put the whole thing on my stove top, preferable over the pilot light for the good 8 hours and you had yogurt.

We also held the religious traditions of our Armenian Orthodoxy.  During the lenten season we give up all meat and animal products for 40 days.  This allows us to live simply and focus on the goodness life has to offer.  My past lenten experiences were what paved the way to my vegetarianism…and later veganism today.  I never found the 40 days to be all that difficult.  And as I grew up and started trying to live a more peaceful existence, I decided to go plant based.

Giving up meat was not a big deal.  But one thing that I truly missed was yogurt.  Creamy, tart, plain.  So I started experimenting.   I’ve tried using almond and coconut milks, but the most successful yogurt I have made to date is using Organic Soy Milk.  Whereas the other plant-based yogurt results were hit-or-miss, I continue to get successful results usng soy milk, so I thought I’d share the recipe.

Anush’s Essential Soy Milk Yogurt

What you’ll need:

  • 1 carton Organic Soy Milk – one quart.  I use Westsoy because the only ingredients are soybeans and water.  No fillers or additives.
  • A food or candy thermometer
  • Vegan Yogurt Culture.  I buy this online from Cultures For Health, a great site for learning how to make cultured and fermented foods.
  • Either a 1 quart mason/ball jar or 4 eight-ounce jam jars with lids
  • Just a small amount of sugar (like a 1/2 tsp to feed the culture)
  • A crock pot or something to keep the yogurt warm in.  Even a heating pad will do.

Start off by making sure that your jars are clean.  Wash in warm, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher.  Turn on your crockpot on to high.   Pour your soy milk into a clean saucepan.  Put your thermometer on the side of the pan and heat the milk to 160 degrees.  Once it’s at the right temperature, turn off the flame and allow it to cool.

Once the temp reads 110 degrees it’s time to add your starter.  Do this by putting some of the warm milk in a small bowl (about a 1/2 cup) and then adding in the contents of one of the culture packets.  Stir it in, and then add that 1/2 cup plus the 1/2 tsp of sugar into your warm milk, and stir.

Fill your jar/jars with the soy milk mixture.  Your crock pot should be hot by now.  Turn it off.   Put a hot pad on the bottom of your crock and then line the inside of the pot with a dishtowel.  Put your jars into the crockput, cover with the towel, put the lid on and then leave it for 6-8 hours to incubate.  The longer you leave it, the more tart the taste.  I like it around 6 -7 hours.  Once the time is up, you carefully remove it from the crock and you’ll notice that it should be set…in other words, a small tip of the jar is going to show a thick, custardy yogurt that is no longer thin like milk.  Refrigerate andr use enjoy when cold.

Now let’s say you don’t have a crock pot.  You can put a heating pad into a shallow baking pan…turn it on, get it warm….turn it off.  Lay the jars on top of your heating pad and wrap the whole thing in a towel.  The reason to wrap is to keep it warm and insulated…keeping the warmth constant.  It’s important that your yogurt stays undisturbed during the incubation.

Serve with fruit and nuts/seeds or use as a milk substitute for cold cereal.  Makes 4 cups/1 quart.

Note:  I read that you cannot use plant-based yogurt starter from your previous batch as starter for your new batch.  I’ve tried it a couple times but was not successful…my yogurt just never set.  My results with the vegan yogurt starter have been consistent.  I’ve also read that some people have results using probiotic capsules (opened and the priobiotic sprinkled into the milk as culture too.)

As a 2x breast cancer survivor, I’m cautious on eating too much soy, so I’ll be experimenting with cashew milk next.  I’ll make sure to report my results.

I’d love to hear your your yogurt turned out and if you have any questions or comments just leave a comment below.

 

 

The Journey of 39.3 miles began a long time ago…

handsI am a survivor.  Not only once, not twice, but three times.  I was only the 34 the first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  My children were young.  My son was 12, my daughter 6.  We had no health insurance. My husband was working freelance, as was I.  We simply couldn’t afford it.  We were young and didn’t ever think of cancer as something we’d have to deal with.  But there it was.  The disease is difficult as it is.  Add in young children, the fear of the financial aspect of it and feeling a burden on the family(they wouldn’t even admit me to the hospital for surgery until we put $2K down on the credit card) – that’s because I didn’t want to go to the county hospital.  And a few years prior we had adopted our son whose bio mom had died of cancer – imagine how he was feeling.  Emotional and scary stuff.

The second and third diagnoses –  breast cancer and colon cancer – was 19 years later.  My children had grown, and I had moved on to another job where insurance was provided.  My “pre-existing condition” was far enough in the past.  I was diagnosed after my first colonoscopy….and while recuperating from surgery went for my annual mammogram.  The very day I went back to work I got the call that I needed to come in for a biopsy.  The found cancer again.  The following week we scheduled the mastectomy and reconstruction.  It was still scary, and stressful, but only this time I had insurance.  And just having that made it so much easier to bear.  It was easier to breathe, easier to heal.

After my first 5 years of being cancer free, I celebrated by walking in the first Avon Walk.  This was back in ’98 when it was a 3 day.  We walked from Santa Barbara to Malibu a fundraiser for breast cancer.  The following year, I did it again….and again. I took a break from fundraising for a little while..and for a few years I worked on the crew.  But this year I’ll be walking again.  It’s my 12th year participating.  I can’t stop walking.

In September, I’ll be walking 39.3 miles…again in the Avon 39 Walk for Breast Cancer.  I do this because the money raised helps those who have been diagnosed and have no insurance (just like me back then), or have no access to mammography.  It puts food on the tables of underprivileged cancer patients and their family, and it funds the necessary research to advance ourselves toward a cure.

Each of us who walks has  committed to raising $1800.  I started my fundraising 2 days ago with my Avon 39 fundraising page.  Please check it out and read who I’ll be walking for.  I hope you’ll consider partnering with me.  Any amount is truly appreciated and if you have been touched by cancer, send me the name of your loved one and I will carry them with me every step of the way.

This year’s 39.3 mile journey began for me back in 1993 when I was first diagnosed.  I have been blessed with a full life, with children and now grandchildren.  I’m walking in memory of those who have lost that battle; in honor of those who are battling ALL CANCERS; and in celebration of those who have survived.  Walk with me!

 

 

White Bean Soup (Vegan)

It’s been raining here in So. Cal, more than usual.  I think maybe even the drought is over, but they’d never tell us that.  In any case, one of the things that I love to make are soups.  And Sunday morning I woke up thinking a white bean soup would be the perfect fit for a Sunday afternoon.

I use the method where you hold the beans in a boil for 10-15 minutes, and then turn off the heat and let them sit for a couple hours.   So while getting ready for church, I put the beans on to boil, turned off the heat right before I left, and let them sit til I returned.

Here’s what to do after your beans are pre-soaked:

1 pound white navy beans

2 quarts vegetable broth

1 large 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 large onion, diced

3 tbsp. olive oil

5 large cloved garlic, minced or pressed

5 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (optional)

1 bunch organic lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped

In a pressure cooker, sauté the onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, and carrots in olive oil until the onions are transparent.  Rinse your beans and add them to the mixture.  Add 2 quarts of vegetable broth (cartons) – or – you can add 2 quarts of water and use vegetable bouillon.  Add another 2 cups water and the can of tomatoes.  Mix together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Close the lid on your pressure cooker and watch for the valve to pop up.  Once pressure is established, cook for 40 minutes.  Turn off and let the steam subside on it’s own (this takes about another 30 minutes or so) or you can just release the steam.  When cooking beans, I’ve found that allowing the steam to subside itself makes for a creamier texture in the beans.  But if you’re hungry, release the steam!

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning adding salt and pepper.

Serve with fresh lemon squeezed on top!

This recipe makes enough for a family and easily serves a large portion to 8 people.

 

 

 

 

Essential

“How did I get here?”  It’s a question we all ask ourselves, and for me, it’s a question that I ponder a lot when I’m sitting at my desk at my “day job”.  I grew up encouraged by my parents to be creative.  My father was a smart man: a pharmacist, a violinist, a free-thinker and my daddy.  My mom a self-taught artist who loves to write who brought love and beauty to our lives.  Our home was always filled with family and friends (old and just met) who were welcome to come by to share a meal, stay if they didn’t have a place to stay.  There were students who needed study help, musicians, poets.  There was food and music, laughter and friendship, ideas and art.

I have always been interested in art.  As I child I would fill up books and papers with drawings.  Cut-away houses and castles with detailed rooms.  Princesses and fairies and eyes.  I always drew eyes.   And I remember whenever we would read about something new that looked interesting, my father would say, “Let’s try it!” and off we’d go to learn something new.  Bead shops, stained glass stores, oriental rug weaving shops.  He opened new avenues for me.  New endeavors.  Some succeeded…some didn’t.  But it instilled in me the desire to continue to learn and to not be afraid of failure.

And through the years and onto adulthood, I have continued with my desire to create.  It’s Essential.  Necessary.  If I am not creating, I am not happy or fulfilled.  And so this year, this 2017, I have decided that I am spreading my wings.  Taking that leap of faith in myself.  In my art.  In my creative desire to be who God intended me to be.  An artist.  A dreamer.  Impulsive.  A creater of beauty.  And fun.  It’s a declaration to myself.  I am who I am.  And creativity is essential to my existence.

And so here it is.  I’m throwing myself out there to the world. My blog will encompass all my creative endeavors:

  • Art – my illustrations and drawings
  • Jewelry -my line of jewelry – Pomegranate & Eye – where I create unique pieces of jewelry with metal clays and eye beads
  • Health & Wellness- through healthy living and natural solutions using DoTerra essential oils – I teach classes in using these amazing oils to
  • Cancer Awareness – I am a 3 x cancer survivor and an advocate for cancer issues
  • Food – I am a vegan and love to create in the kitchen – so I’ll have recipes to share
  • Love, Faith & Compassion – I am a woman of faith and I try my best to put my beliefs into action.
  • Family -I am a mom, a wife, a gramma (lovingly known as Menee to our grandsons and Noonoo to our granddaughter), a daughter, a sister, a crazy auntie …
  • Myself – I put this here because I am constantly creating and re-creating myself.  I am on a path to health through BrightLine eating, yoga, prayer, and more activity.

And so lately when I ponder, “How DID I get here?”  I also ask myself, “How long am I staying?”  It’s that answer that I’m working on!  I KNOW it lies ahead,  and I’m excited to dream that dream, put it into action, and make it real!

Welcome to me – Essentially Anush!