Blizzard-Worthy Vegan Sweet Potato & Quinoa Chili

So by now, many of you know of Nemo as not just a cute clownfish, but as a massive storm that hit the Northeast. Despite the build-up and the hype (and school closing),  I was not as personally affected by Nemo as anticipated. Yesterday, after braving the wind, freezing rain, and snow for a good 8-mile elliptical/treadmill workout at the gym, I planned on going to Trader Joe’s to gather the remaining ingredients I needed to create a vegan chili masterpiece in an attempt to survive the blizzard. Apparently, everyone else in Manhattan had the same thought – the line outside of Trader Joe’s was enough for me to change my mind, that and the fact that I didn’t even have an umbrella to shield me from the increasingly painful bursts of freezing rain/snow. Defeated, I bought some fresh produce from a street vendor and went home, hoping that my chili wouldn’t disappoint me as much as my attempted trip to Trader Joe’s did.

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A bundled up Alena slightly resembles Cheburashka, an old Russian cartoon character, don’t you think?

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Luckily, I had the main staples in my cupboard at home, and would only have to make a few substitutions for the chili.

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Quite the spread, huh?

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Blizzard-Worthy Vegan Sweet Potato & Quinoa Chili:

Adapted from http://www.milkfreemom.com/vegan-quinoa-sweet-potato-chili/

Makes 6 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

one 6 oz can organic tomato paste

1 Tbsp oregano

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp chili powder

one 15 oz can black beans(low-sodium), rinsed and drained

one 15 oz can Great Northern white beans (low-sodium), rinsed and drained

32 oz vegetable stock (I used “Better than Bouillon” – try to find low-sodium version if possible)

2 large tomatoes, chopped in thick chunks

1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 cup dry quinoa

salt and pepper to taste

cilantro (for garnish)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for 8-10 minutes until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste, oregano, paprika, and chili powder, then cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the beans, vegetable stock, tomatoes, and sweet potato chunks and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the quinoa and then season with salt and pepper. Stir, stir, stir, and keep cooking the fragrant mixture about 25-30 minutes, until the quinoa and sweet potato chunks are cooked thoroughly (the quinoa should form rings around the seeds and the sweet potato should be soft), and the chili has thickened (as chili should). Garnish with the cilantro and enjoy!

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A few tips to make this chili-making experience (and most any cooking experiences) exciting and not stressful:

  1. Read the recipe thoroughly before you start cooking.
  2. Gather all the ingredients and cooking utensils/pots/pans that you will need for the recipe. This saves you from panicking later when you’re frantically searching for the oregano.
  3. Put the ingredients in the order that the recipe calls for.
  4. Chop/dice/slice all the vegetables/produce that your recipe calls for before you even heat the oil. Also, open any cans and drain if necessary. TRUST ME.
  5. Create rhythm. If you’ve followed the steps/tips I’ve listed, the process should be fun and rhythmical, almost like dancing!

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Now, although I hope you don’t have a blizzard to worry about, I do hope that you’ll have a reason to make this delicious chili. Not only is it vegan, but it is PACKED with protein, fiber, vitamins, and FLAVOR.

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Bon appetit!

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Lean Green Omelette

Let me start this off by saying…my boyfriend makes the BEST omelettes. I’m not kidding, they are to die for. We went to the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago on vacation and ate omelettes EVERY SINGLE DAY. Probably not the healthiest choice either of us have made, but man were they delicious. And we were on vacation. The same man made them every morning and it was fascinating to watch – he made it seem as if were an art form. Omelette making an art form? You probably think I’m crazy, if you didn’t already. 

P1020846Beach bums in the D.R. – watch out!

Well, anyways Chase adopted these omelette-making skills and perfected them…and now he is the best omelette-maker I know. I know, I know, you’re probably jealous of me now (and you should be).

So today, after my 90 minute cardio workout (insane!), I was, to say the least, STARVING. And not only was I hungry, but I wanted to refuel myself. I’m usually not the one to eat more than one egg in a sitting but I felt it was necessary.

And I missed Chase. So I whipped up an omelette (literally). And yes, it was the right choice.

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In order to incorporate all of these delicious vegetables (and to satisfy my grumbling stomach), I decided to make a 2-egg omelette. Yes, I know there has been much debate on the unhealthiness of eggs, and their contributing role in raising cholesterol levels…however, there has been more recent research done on how dietary cholesterol actually does not significantly raise blood cholesterol levels, and that only a small amount of the cholesterol you consume passes into the bloodstream. Blood cholesterol levels are impacted much more by consuming saturated fats and trans fats. That being said, those with heart disease or cholesterol problems should still limit their intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 200mg/day. If you don’t believe me, check out this awesome article by the Harvard Medical School: www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/egg-nutrition. If you still don’t believe me or if you do have high cholesterol or are at risk for heart disease, use egg whites instead of whole eggs. I promise it will be just as delicious.

Anyways, nutrition facts aside, back to the omelette-making business. The key is to cook the vegetables first, then combine them with the egg(s), whip, and cook.

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Lean Green Omelette:

Makes 1 omelette

1/4 medium red onion

1/2 large green bell pepper

1 cup spinach leaves

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

2 eggs (or 2 egg whites for the cholesterol-friendly version)

sea salt (to taste)

black peppercorn (to taste)

garlic pepper (to taste)

Chop the onion, bell pepper, and place in a bowl with spinach. Heat 1/4 Tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Toss in the vegetables, and let them cook for about a minute or two (until the spinach has wilted). In a bowl, combine the cooked vegetables with 2 eggs, whip with a fork, put the remainder of the oil (1/4 Tbsp) on the pan, and pour the vegetable/egg mixture in until it covers the entire pan. When the bottom is golden in color, flip it over onto the other side (bonus points if you get it flipped over in one piece!). Let the other side cook until it too is golden, fold the omelette and transfer to your plate.

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Talk about green!

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If you’re enjoying this for breakfast, you could accompany your omelette with a small piece of toast. However, if you’re like me and want to make it a full meal (and have a Trader Joe’s conveniently located within walking distance to your home), I suggest you pair it with a piece of whole wheat bread smothered with Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic. 

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It is absolutely delicious. And addicting. And pairs great with this fabulous omelette.

What’s your opinion on the egg/cholesterol debate?