Normally in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I’d be excitedly planning a menu, bookmarking recipes and testing desserts (quality control, right?).
This year, because of the DI, the holiday will be abbreviated, and if I’m being honest, days of cooking beforehand will be the last thing I want to do. Mom and I are going to Candle79 for our meal, and if I can take the rest of the day to put my feet up on her sofa and watch something silly on TV, I’ll call it a holiday very well spent.
This doesn’t mean that I can’t allow the holiday excitement to wash over me a bit beforehand: it just needs to happen in small waves. In the next couple week, I plan to work some festive and traditional recipes into my usual weekly batch cooking routine, so that even if I don’t cook up a feast of my own on Thanksgiving day, I still take the time to commemorate the holiday in my kitchen. This wild rice vegan stuffing with roasted sweet potato & apple is where I’m starting.
I’ve been thinking about the combination of roasted sweet potatoes and apples in a stuffing dish since I made this hash. I’ve got a huge weakness for sweet and savory food, and when I made that dish, I quickly fell in love with the combination of stovetop cooked onions and roasted root veggies/fruit.
Here, there’s also rice for texture and heft, fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme, but sage would also be good), and the addition of pomegranate arils at the very end for some festive holiday color.
You can see some Thanksgiving-friendly sides—roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted root vegetables—peeking out in the background! These were pre-cut and ready to bake, thanks to the prepared vegetable options at my local Whole Foods Market 365 in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.
I love shopping at this place. It’s the same experience as shopping at a regular Whole Foods Market, but with a few key differences: the store is a little smaller and easier to navigate, and the focus is on the 365 line of products, which maintains an affordable price point. Plus, there are always a ton of products on sale or available at special discounts. Amazon Prime members get exclusive savings, as well as an extra 10% off hundreds of items every day; shoppers can just download the Whole Foods Market app and start saving. When I shop at WFM I tend to gravitate toward the 365 line of products anyway, so the Ft. Greene store gives me a simplified shopping trip, and it features some local business and products (like Bread Alone and Orwasher’s breads).
The only downside? Most of the time, Fort Greene is well out of my way, which makes it hard to head out there for weekly grocery hauls! Right now, though, the store is on my way home; I’ve got a long commute from the hospital I’m working at in East Brooklyn to my place. A trip to Whole Foods Market 365 is a great way to break it up.
The store, as well as sister WFM stores in the city, will be featuring grab n’ go holiday sides that are already pre-cooked, as well as prepared vegan pumpkin pie (!). For me, the cut, seasoned, and ready-to-roast veggies are already a terrific time-saver, for holiday cooking just as much for weekly DI batch cooking, and I was thrilled to have them in my fridge this week. Along with my new favorite stuffing.
|Wild Rice Vegan Stuffing with Roasted Sweet Potato & Apple||
Recipe type: main dish, holidays, side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Serves: 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower or grapeseed)
- 1 pound scrubbed sweet potatoes, cut into ~1/2 inch cubes
- 1 pound apples (any flavor), cut into ~1/2 inch cubes/pieces
- 1 cup (dry) wild rice or a wild rice blend (I used the 365 wild rice blend, which is a combination of wild rice and brown basmati)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
- 3 large (or 4 smaller) stalks celery, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dry)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
- ¾ cup vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra to season the roasted potatoes/apple
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, to taste
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Toss the potatoes and apple with the vegetable oil and transfer to the baking sheets. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are browning and tender. Remove the vegetables from heat.
- While the vegetables roast (or beforehand if it’s easier), cook the rice according to package instructions.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and shallot. Cook, stirring often, for 5-8 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Stir in the rosemary and thyme. Fold in the cooked rice, sweet potatoes, and apple. Add the ½ teaspoon salt and the vegetable broth. Heat everything through, stirring as you go.
- Add the sherry vinegar and a big pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Transfer the stuffing to a serving dish and top with the pomegranate arils. Enjoy!
In addition to being tasty and perfectly in keeping with the flavors of the season and holiday, the stuffing is really easy to make. If I were to make it again before Thanksgiving—which I probably will—I’d cook the rice ahead of time, and maybe even roast the veggies beforehand, so that it could all come together on the stovetop quickly.
Speaking of piecemeal cooking processes and advance prep, I’ve gotten a few requests for a comprehensive post on my batch cooking process. It may take me a while to pull together, but I’d love to follow up on that! Batch cooking has made the DI experience smooth sailing from a food perspective, and it would be fun to share what I’ve learned (and to answer any questions you have).
I’ve had years where I made a scratch cooked feast for my mom and me, and it was a pleasure. There’s a time and place for that, and there are also years to take a break from cooking, or to let some handy culinary helpers (like pre-cut veggie sides, or particularly low-key recipes) do the work. This is one of those years, and I think it’s going to be a sweet holiday.
Wishing you a great rest of the week. “See” you this weekend!
This post is sponsored by Whole Foods Market 365. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!
Easy Vegan Sausage Mushroom Marinara Pasta
Sending you into the weekend with one of those meal starter ideas that I keep mentioning this month. This easy vegan sausage mushroom marinara pasta isn’t a recipe (and I’m not sure that this share even constitutes a proper blog post!), but it’s one of the re-heatable dinners I’ve made most often for sustenance and comfort food during my DI. On the chance that one of you might come to enjoy it as much as I do, it’s worth writing down the process.
This meal definitely gets filed in the “semi-homemade” category. Within that, you’re encouraged to use any of the store-bought staples you like: your favorite marinara, your favorite vegan sausage (or you could use crumbled and sautéed tempeh, or cooked lentils), your pasta of choice (I used regular; go ahead and use gluten-free, bean pasta, whole grain—whatever suits you), and your favorite pasta topper. For me, that’s this walnut herb parm.
By the time the dish comes together, it’s filling, rich in plant-protein, packed with vegetables for nutritional heft, and—I think—pretty tasty for all of its simplicity. Here’s how I make it.
|Easy Vegan Sausage Mushroom Marinara Pasta||
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free, no oil option, tree nut free option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
- 8 ounces pasta of choice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (or a few tablespoons vegetable broth)
- 10 ounces sliced mushrooms (you can use button, portobello, or cremini)
- 2 vegan sausages of choice (I used Field Roast Italian style), sliced, or 1½ cups vegan beef-style crumbles, tempeh crumbles, or cooked lentils
- 1 lb bite-sized broccoli florets (or a 1 lb bag of frozen broccoli florets, defrosted according to instructions, which is what I used)
- 1 25-ounce jar marinara of choice
- Vegan parmesan, for topping
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- While the pasta boils, heat the oil or broth in a large, roomy, deep skillet. Add the mushrooms and sausage slices. Cook, stirring often, for 7-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their juices and are completely tender. Add the broccoli (if fresh) to the skillet, cover, and allow it to steam cook for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. If using defrosted, add the broccoli to the skillet and heat through.
- Add the marinara sauce and pasta to the skillet. Mix everything and heat through. Divide into 4-5 portions and top with vegan parmesan of choice.
This may well be a lot less inspiring than many of you need, in which case don’t worry: I have another easy recipe planned for next week, but it’s a little more original than this one!
As I said, for those of you who might love this combination but not necessarily think to throw it together, I hope it’s a winning weeknight supper. Thanks for letting me share a low-key favorite with you.
And I’ll be back soon, for weekend reading.
Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentils | The Full Helping
As I mentioned not too long ago, this month of blog posts is dedicated to simple recipes, meal planning, and recipes that aren’t really recipes at all: in other words, ways of throwing together ingredients for the sake of quick, tasty, nutritious meals. These slow cooker chipotle lentils are a recipe, but because they’re made in the slow cooker, they couldn’t be easier.
What you do with the lentils? That can absolutely qualify as a non-recipe recipe. I made these over a month ago (I’ve just been really slow in posting them), and once I had them, I used them in bowls, tacos, on toast, and even tossed them with pasta and some cashew cream to create a quick chili mac.
Of everything I made with the lentils (and with the leftovers, some of which I froze right away, and defrosted in the coming weeks), these quick and easy tacos were my favorite. Lentils, roasted brussels sprouts (steamed would be fine, too), and some of the hemp chimichurri sauce from Power Plates. Easy. Peasy.
I’m used to adding cabbage slaw or kale to tacos, but I may be a Brussels-sprouts-in-tacos convert! The sprouts are toothsome and hearty, which makes them a good counterpoint to the soft lentils. With that said, you could make something similar with whatever vegetables you’ve got and would like to use: I think sautéed mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, and any kind of leafy green would be lovely.
Or, if you’re not in a taco mood, the lentils work perfectly with any whole grain and green you like. I’m a big fan of the grain + green + bean planning method for super simple vegan meals, and these legumes are a perfectly spicy, flavorful component.
|Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentils||
Recipe type: side dish, main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free, no oil option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Serves: 8-12 servings (recipe can be halved)
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower or grapeseed)*
- 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 4 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 lb brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (use 2 tablespoons if you prefer less spicy food)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt, more as needed
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave syrup (or brown sugar)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- For most depth of flavor, begin by heating the oil in a roomy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are gently browning. Add the garlic and sauteé for one minute more. Add this mixture to the slow cooker (or a multi-cooker with a slow cooking function), then add all of the remaining ingredients.
- Alternately, add everything but the oil to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. If the lentils are too thick, add extra water to thin them to your liking (I like them to be thick, rather than soupy). Taste and adjust vinegar and salt to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 6 weeks.
I have a 7 quart slow cooker, so this recipe, like all of my recipes, makes a ton of food. If you have a 2 or 4 quart slow cooker or multi-cooker, feel free to cut the recipe in half! Or put your freezer to good use 😉
Life around here is slow and steady this week. I’m still recovering from a cold, but I’m in a nice place of taking good, mindful, restful care of my body. Sniffles and sleepiness aside, it feels good to move slowly, tune in, and allow myself to truly savor and inhabit the time off. I’ve got some tasty things planned for next week, including a tasty no-recipe pasta recipe, and a nutritious snack cookie that I can’t get enough of these days.
Sending you all love and warmth this week.
Caribbean Black Eyed Pea & Collard Green Curry
Happy new year, everyone! Hoping that 2019 has gotten off to a gentle start for you all.
As the Eve approached–right after sharing these thoughts about resilience–I found myself feeling a little tender. No amount of resistance to NYE hype stops me from feeling lonely for companionship at this time of year. I started to wonder if maybe my buoyant words had been a stretch.
Then I woke up yesterday, on an unusually warm and winter morning in NYC. I felt keenly aware of how lucky I was to be in the city, facing a new day and even a whole new year. I watched the sunrise–it looked like someone had painted a watercolor outside my window–and took time to reflect on all of the good stuff: family, friendship, connection, words, food. I thought back to some wise words that a close friend had offered me about patience the night before, and to a particularly sweet text exchange I’d had with Ashley. Everything seemed different than it had the night before, which isn’t to say that both set of feelings weren’t equally OK, or equally true. It felt like resilience in action.
This morning, I got a hilarious comment on my last weekend reading post from a friend and reader who mentioned having a “mini meltdown” over “cornbread technical difficulties.” I laughed so hard that I nearly spit out my coffee, thinking back to the many times when cooking glitches have sent me into panic mode. It was such a good reminder that resilience and flexibility are things that many of us have to practice–and that we’re all in it together.
Anyway, moving to the topic of food, this is a recipe that I made over the weekend, so that I’d have it for Jan 1 and beyond (since collards and black-eyed peas are traditional good luck food for a new year, at least in the American South). I wanted to treat the ingredients a little differently this year, so I settled on the idea of a curry. It’s a Caribbean inspired curry, which I made with Jamaican curry powder (any curry powder you have is just fine), coconut milk, coriander, and a touch of cinnamon and allspice.
The dish is perfect served over rice, which is how I’ve been eating it, but like most stew-like food, you could scoop it over any favorite grain, or even serve it over a baked potato (or sweet potato) or with some sort of flatbread. It’s flavorful, easy to make more or less hot depending on the type of peppers you used (I used jalapeno) and whether you’d like to add a pinch of cayenne. And it’s a one pot dish that freezes well, which, when I recently did an IG poll to see what type of recipe people wanted more of in the new year, was the clear winner. That’s good news for me, as it’s the type of meal I need most when the DI hours are in full swing!
Here it is.
|Caribbean Black Eyed Pea and Collard Green Curry||
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: gluten free, tree nut free, soy free, no oil option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
- 2 teaspoons neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower or grapeseed)*
- 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (you can use serrano instead, for more heat)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Jamaican curry (or whatever curry powder you have)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 cups cooked black-eyed peas (2 cans, drained and rinsed)
- 1 14.5-ounce can regular or fire roasted, diced tomatoes (substitute 1 large, fresh tomato, chopped)
- 1 russet potato, peeled and chopped (about 6-7 ounces)
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
- ½-3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Pinch of ground cayenne pepper, if desired
- 1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and sliced into ribbons
- 1 cup full-fat, canned coconut milk or cashew cream
- Fresh lime juice, to taste
- Rice, millet, quinoa, or another favorite grain, for serving
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and peppers. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and clear. Add the garlic, curry, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, and a few tablespoons water. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic and spices are very fragrant.
- Add the black-eyed peas, tomatoes, potato, and broth or water to the pot, along with salt to taste (I used ¾ teaspoon) and cayenne if you’d like. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and collards to the pot. Stir everything well, then re-cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste, add lime juice as desired, and serve over rice or your favorite grain!
*Substitute a few tablespoons vegetable broth for a no oil version.
It’s been so nice to start 2019 with this flavorful meal (a few servings of which are already in the freezer, where they’ll keep for up to six weeks). I haven’t been putting much pressure on myself to cook since my hospital rotation wrapped up, but–maybe unsurprisingly–I’ve been aching to be in the kitchen, especially since I have more time and more space in which to dream up recipe ideas. Hoping I’ll be able to revisit some favorites from Power Plates in the next few weeks, along with other, new meals.
Wishing you a wonderful first week of the year, friends. Till Sunday.
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