Posts tagged ‘Ashley Morgan’

January 6, 2012

Vegan Zucchini “Pasta” with Tomato and Spinach Cashew Cream Sauce

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan 

My number one goal for our vegan bodybuilding challenge is finding healthy, protein-filled recipes that are fun to eat. This is the only thing that will keep me out of the trans-fat laden cheese and potato chips. I’ve been wanting to make zucchini “pasta” for quite some time now, however just never had the energy to cut it up. If you buy a spiralizer, this process will be much easier. As it is, I used a mandolin to cut the zucchini in strips, and then julienned them into small noodle-like strips.

My fiance is trying to go vegan with me for a while. Although I know he isn’t planning on sticking to it 100%, it is wonderful that he’s learning that every meal does not have to revolve around un-healthy meats and dairy products. His favorite sauce just happens to be vodka sauce, so I decided to make a vegan version, sans the vodka. I originally didn’t have high hopes for this recipe and was debating making a dairy version for him separately, however when I took my first bite it was heavenly. I hope he likes it, it’s all he got in his lunch today =).

You’ll need to start the cashew cream before you can begin on anything else. While the cashews are soaking, cut up the zucchini.

Cashew Cream

1 lb raw cashews (imperative that they be raw, unsalted)

2-3 cups coconut water

Seasoning (optional)

Boil regular water in a medium saucepan, enough to cover the cashews. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat, add cashews and cover. Set aside for 30 minutes. (Now is the time to start cutting your zucchini noodles.)

After 30 minutes, drain cashews in a colander and put into a food processor, blender or Vitamix. I used a food processor and it worked perfectly, however I’m not sure how well this would come out in a regular blender. Of course, the Vitamix is made for this sort of thing – but I haven’t found a huge need for one as of yet.

Add the first cup of coconut water and blend until all water is incorporated. It will probably be pretty thick still, but this is where your tastes come in. To thin out the cream, keep adding coconut water until you reach your desired texture. I like mine pretty creamy, like a sauce, so I added about 2 ½ cups or so.

Once you’ve reached your desired thickness, now is the time to season. If you’re making the zucchini pasta, you’ll want to add some garlic, a little salt, maybe some pepper. Get creative with it. It doesn’t have to hold full flavor by itself, just have a little kick of savory (or sweet if you’re making a dessert).

Makes about 6 cups cream, depending on amount of water added.

 

Zucchini “Pasta” with Tomato and Spinach Cashew Cream Sauce


2 large raw zucchini squash, washed and dried

4 cups fresh baby spinach

2 cans stewed tomatoes (I use the basil/garlic seasoned kind)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¼-1 cup cashew cream (recipe above)

While you were soaking the cashews for the cream, you should have been slicing up your zucchini noodles. This is how it should be done, either use a spiralizer (the easy way out) to make noodles from the fresh zucchini or julienne them into long strips. You can use a mandolin to make it easier, cutting the zucchini first into long, wide strips, and then cutting from there into noodles. Set the zucchini aside once cut. 

In a large sauteé pan, heat the cans of stewed tomatoes, minced garlic and spinach over medium heat until bubbly. The spinach should start to wilt. Make sure to stir frequently. Once the mixture boils for 1-2 minutes, add the first ¼ cup of cashew cream and stir generously to incorporate. Taste and keep adding until there is a nice balance, all according to your tastes. Let simmer for another 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly and making sure you scrape the bottom and sides of the pan.

Once it looks nice and thick, add the zucchini noodles. Stir for about 2 minutes and serve.

Makes about four servings.

 

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July 18, 2011

Samai “Breath of the Rainforest” – Exotic Brand with Wholesome Values

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

I spend a lot of time in Publix’s produce section: wandering the aisles, checking different labels to see where something was grown and looking for inspiration for my next culinary endeavor. While I’m doing all of this, my fiancé is normally either in a different part of the store or standing there playing with his iPhone, bored. But this time he found a treasure for me, something that he originally planned on eating himself until I snatched it away from him once we came home. Samai, a brand that I’d never heard of before this weekend, is now one of my favorite snack brands. Their name enough captivates me, meaning “Breath of the Rainforest” in Quechua (a native language of Ecuador). But it was their values that really caught my attention. They procure all of their produce from independent farms, dedicated to maintaining the rainforest and therefore never cultivating from protected areas. I’ve never been to Ecuador, but I have been around other areas of Latin America and I know that a brand like this, which cultivates solely from small farmers, is a god-send. They also return their produce waste, i.e. plantain peels, to the farmers to use as fertilizer. That is truly thinking full circle.

The great part is that not only do they have an awesome business model, but their product really tastes great. There are many eco-friendly, locally procured and otherwise “greener” companies out there that fail to actually produce a product people want to eat. But Samai’s plantain chips are absolutely delicious. Even my totally omnivore, un-eco-conscientious fiancé picked them up off the shelf, just because he thought they looked tasty! I was nice and I shared the goodies with him. We both thought they were crunchy and had great flavor. He devoured the garlic ones, while I preferred the pacific sea-salt.

I’ve noticed on their website that they also carry other varieties and flavors, including banana and yucca chips. Their products are also 100% vegan and kosher. I applaud Samai for creating such a conscientious company without sacrificing flavor. They are truly one of a kind and I look forward to trying their other varieties.

Visit their site at http://www.theexoticblends.com/

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