Pumpkin Chili

I walked into Trader Joe’s and it was as if I had transcended Los Angeles and entered into October-land.  Pumpkin cream cheese.  Pumpkin scones.  Pumpkin coffee.  Might as well sell pumpkin spice toilet paper.  It’s like a pumpkin patch hayride you can’t get off of.

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But I have to jump on the wagon (pun intended) because, let’s face it. What’s Halloween without pumpkin carving?  Sad, so sad. And what’s Halloween without pumpkin ale?  Depressing, that’s what. And what gives punkin’ its bright orange color?  It is loaded with beta carotene, a terpenoid hydrocarbon which gets converted into vitamin A in the body…yessir, the same thing you find in derrrricious carrots.

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Well I thought I was being so productive.  I popped my pumpkin into the oven before my hike and figured it would be perfectly roasted upon my return…

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 I got home, flung open the oven door, put that sucker on the counter, and gave it a quick stab with my knife.  The whole thing made this weird kind of gurgle sound, wilted, shrank, and then completely collapsed into the pan.  Needless to say, it was a multi-tasking kitchen fail.  Ya win some, ya lose some, I suppose.

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Round 2 was considerably more successful…as I have discovered through self experimentation, it turns out the cooking times for pumpkins vary a lot and you really need to just keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven.

 I first concocted this recipe last Fall, pre-The Savvy Sweet Potato blog and I loved it so much, I had to bring it on back.  Sup, pumpkin chili. I missed you. This is such a creative and unique way to serve yummy chili; with each scoop of delectable spicy soup, a chunk of pumpkin flesh comes with it…and the combination is out of this world.

Ps. This recipe has a secret ingredient that balances the heat wit’ a lil sweetness 😉

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 Pumpkin Chili

makes 5-6 servings of soup

  • 1 medium pumpkin, preferably with a flatter bottom. Kim Kardashian pumpkins, get outta’ here.
  • 1 15 oz can (or 1.5 cups cooked and drained) kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can (or 1.5 cups cooked and drained) black beans
  • 1 15 oz can (or 1.5 cups cooked and drained) pinto beans
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet yellow corn
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp *unsweetened* cocoa powder 😉
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it on the spicy side…)
  • a couple splashes of soy sauce or tamari
  • salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste
  1. Begin by roasting the pumpkin.  If you’ve never done this before, don’t be scurrrred.  It’s so easy and the best way to scoop out the insides without all the arm work.  Simply stab the top of the pumpkin a few times with a large knife (gently…don’t get all 1996 and go Scream on it), place in a baking dish or cookie sheet with about 1/4-1/2″ water in it, and place in the oven at 425 degrees for….the amount of time really varies!  It could take as little as 30 minutes or as much as an hour and half, depending on the size and variety of pumpkin.  I would check on it every 20 minutes or so!  The pumpkin is done when it turns a darker color and when you poke it with a knife, the flesh feels like an old school r&b song…so soft and tender. Mmmm. Yes.
  2. When the punkin’ is cooked through, take it out of the oven and let it cool!  Sever the top off by just slicing it open and tearing it off.  It should be relatively easy, if it’s not, it may mean the pumpkin isn’t done yet.  Once the top is off, scoop out the insides (not the flesh, but the seeds and strings) with a metal spoon.  Try to get as much out as possible, being careful not to puncture the flesh too much. You can save the seeds and get crafty with them later; maybe roast them with some pepper & garlic salt…oooo look at you, all domesticated! Watch out.
  3. While the pumpkin is roasting up nicely, you can work on dat chili.  Begin by dicing the bell peppers and onions into small bite sized pieces and mincing the garlic really well.  Throw the onions and garlic in a large pot with the olive oil over medium heat and saute until tender and fragrant.  Then add in the bell peppers and cook until tender.
  4. While the veggies are sizzling, rinse the canned beans under cool water in a colander (skip this step if you cooked the beans yourself) and add to the pot along with the veggie broth, corn, and tomatoes.  Stir, stir, stir.  Stir until you feel like you can skip arm day at the gym.  Leg day, not so much.  That schmuck’s still comin’ for you.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil, and cook the soup for about 35-45 minutes until it’s nice and thick.  When it’s almost done, add in all the spices, soy sauce and cocoa.  Taste it and see if it needs more spice, salt, etc.  Hint: If it tastes at all bland, simply add salt…and then if it still needs more flavor, move onto the other spices!
  6. When it’s to your liking, take the soup off the stove and pour into the cooled pumpkin.  When serving, use a soup ladle and gently scoop out some of the pumpkin flesh along with the chili.  Garnish with seeds if you really want to impress your date. Or your mom. Or your cat, in my case. Aaaaaand, Happy Fall 🙂

Southwestern Tempeh Salad

If you know me at all, you know I love my salad.

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And if you know me really well, you also know that that I make a GIANT pot of it every Sunday night and eat it all week.  Okay I guess only my roommate knows that.  It takes up like our entire fridge.  Basically, she’s a saint.

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A couple weeks ago I visited my brother in San Diego and on Saturday night we decided to cook together instead of go out to eat. He told me he and his wife have recently been cooking primarily vegetarian dinners and they have been working off a great site called www.ohmyveggies.com.  Naturally, I was pretty stoked to hear this and so we cracked open a couple beers that my brother brewed (yes, he is that cool), cranked up Led Zeppelin, and got down to bidness.

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This recipe was inspired by the delicious dinner that we made in his kitchen.  The tempeh is marinated in soy sauce and sriracha, doused with lime, and oven baked into a spicy crispy salad topping.  And don’t think for one minute in real life I actually take the time to sprinkle sesame seeds on my food before I woof it down. HA. Oh the joys of a recipe blog.

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If you’ve never cooked tempeh before, this is a great recipe to start with.  It’s easy, cheap, and oh sooo yum.  Try it out to impress your carnivorous friends.  They’ll be like, “whaaaaat the…wait, this sh*t is sickwitit.”

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Southwestern Tempeh Salad

makes 3 servings of tempeh, and 7-8 servings of salad

  • mixed greens and veggies for salad (I use 3 hearts of romaine, 1 red bell pepper, 2 carrots, and 1 cucumber)
  • 1 cup sweet yellow corn
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 package tempeh
  • 3 T soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 1 T Sriracha (or 2 T if you like it spicy like me!)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Start by getting the marinade ready to rock n roll.  Give the garlic a good mincing, then combine it with the soy sauce, Sriracha, lime juice, maple syrup, pepper, and cumin in a small bowl.  Make sure all ingredients are whisked together and fully incorporated into each other.
  2. Take the tempeh out of the package and crumble it into a small baking dish (mine is 9.25×5.25×2.75). Then pour the marinade over it, making sure each crumble gets drenched.  Mmmm.  Let it soak for at least an hour!
  3. While the tempeh is a soakin’ you can assemble the salad.  The salad items listed above make for a pretty huge salad, but when you’re done eating the tempeh you can use it for other meals.  Efficient right? That’s how I roll.  I shred the lettuce, dice the red bell pepper, thinly slice the cucumber, and shred the carrots into a large bowl and toss it all together.
  4. Add the corn to the salad.  If using caned corn, simply drain and add in.  If frozen, prepare according to the bag and then add it in.  If you’re using fresh corn, cook however your little heart desires and then throw it in.
  5. After sufficiently marinated, bake the tempeh at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  It should be browned and a wee bit crispy.  Sprinkle sesame seeds over it if you’re feelin classy. Then scoop out some salad into a bowl, add some bites of tempeh, slice avocado over it, grab whatever dressing be chillin’ in your fridge, and chow down. Que bueno:)

One Pot Vegetarian Lentil Soup

When it comes to comfort food, sure you can grab a bag of chips and go to china town on some Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.  But I can’t guarantee you’re going to feel GREAT after said comfort-seeking venture.  In my humble opinion, there is something amazingly therapeutic about a souper big steamy, creamy bowl of homemade soup.

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Especially when the soup can be easily concocted in one large pot.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

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I’ve got finals this week and you better bet I will be slurping this soup for the next 5 days straight.  It’s a great dish to make on the weekend and just reheat throughout the week.

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 You can sloppily throw it together on a weary Sunday night by adding in fiber-protein-zinc-calcium-niacin-packed lentils, vitamin-A-rich carrots, and vitamin-D-containing mushrooms.  It’s loaded with spices that impart incredible flavor and bursting with fresh heart-healthy veggies and legumes.  What’s not to adore?

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Put on that Snuggie, dig in with a spoon, and get yo’ comfy on.

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One Pot Vegetarian Lentil Soup

  • 2 cups dried lentils (any variety)
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cups (16 oz) mushrooms
  • 3 T nutritional yeast (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 T thyme
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Begin by chopping up all the veggies first.  This mean dicing the onion, tomato, and carrots.  Finely mince the garlic cloves and slice them mushrooms up.
  2. Set a large pot on the stove on medium-high heat.  Add in olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, and carrot in the oil until the onion becomes translucent and they begin to give off a nice aroma.
  3. Now add in the dry lentils and mix to coat.  Pour in the vegetable broth and mix.
  4. Toss in the mushrooms, tomatoes, and all the spices and stir.  Reduce heat to medium.
  5. Let the soup simmer for 30-45 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Adjust spices by taste testing, add more salt/pepper/thyme/italian seasoning/cumin/or nutritional yeast if it tastes bland.  Eeeees so easy!  This soup will serve 6-8 bowls 🙂

Vegan Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas

This recipe was my first stab at healthy enchiladas.

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There have been plenty of times in my life when I helped my dad make this mexican favorite.  However, our version was, like most, smothered in so much cheddar that the Kraft Cheesasaurus Rex who floats down a cheese river on a rather frequent basis would be jealous.

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Here is a healthy recipe for enchiladas, where creamy avocado sauce substitutes healthy fats for all that dairy.

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I have made these several times now.  In one version, I used zucchini instead of butternut squash but afterwards concluded that the butternut squash is a necessity.  PS most grocery stores have bags of pre cut squash if you don’t want to whack the thing open and dice it yourself.  You do you.

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The recipe below is the tried and true absolute best ever.

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Vegan Avocado and Black Bean Enchiladas

  • 5-6 whole wheat tortillas (or plain white flour/GF tortillas)
  • enchilada sauce (about 2 1/2 cups worth)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can or about 2 cups of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped butternut squash
  • 2 T nutritional yeast (option but recommended…)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • Avocado Cream Sauce (recipe below)
  • diced green onion and chopped cilantro (to garnish)
  1. Begin by cooking the squash.  If you’re getting all fancy and you have a whole one, simply peel it, chop it up, and cover and steam for about 7-9 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  If you bought a bag of it pre-chopped, steam/boil it according to package.
  2. Next, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium to low for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion pieces become translucent.  Now add in the garlic and reduce heat to low.  Cook for a couple more minutes until fragrant.  Next add in the bell pepper, cooked squash, black beans, and spinach.  Cook another 6-7 minutes.
  3. Next, squeeze in the lime juice and pour most of the enchilada sauce into the mixture (but save a little for later!) and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.  Sauce should be thick but a little runny.
  4. Now, taste it and see how salty/flavorful/bland it tastes.  I am not sure which enchilada sauce you are using so it’s up to you to determine how much of the spices it needs, but you can definitely use the above as a guide.  This is where the cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast come into play.
  5. When it’s just right (guess I’m goldilocks now?) take a baking dish large enough to fit 5 or 6 rolled tortillas into it and grease it very lightly.  Spread about a cup of the mixture on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Place one tortilla on a plate and spoon about 3 T of the mixture onto each one.  Roll each tortilla up and place it, crease side down, on one end of the baking dish.  Repeat for the remaining tortillas.  You should have extra mixture left.  Pour the rest and the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas and bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Check after 20 to be safe… tortillas should be slightly browned on top.
  7. Spread the avocado cream sauce over the enchiladas once they have cooled for about 10 minutes and sprinkle with green onion and cilantro.

 

Avocado Cream Sauce

  • 3/4 cup avocado flesh
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1 T of water (maybe a little more if you need to thin it out)
  • 1/2 tsp salt/pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • crushed red chili pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until a creamy consistency develops.  Add more water if it’s too thick.  Um…so yeah that’s it.
  2. If you don’t have a food processor, with (a lot) more patience, you can do this in a blender by stirring and pulsing frequently.
  3. If you want to try by hand, make sure to mince the cilantro very finely and then just mash all ingredients together.  Mixture will look a lot like guacamole and be a chunkier consistency but fear not…the taste remains intact 😉

Recipe adapted from Angela Liddon.