Baked Apple and Tempeh Stuffed Squash

Fall is the season to stuff things.

Stuff your grocery cart with yummies.

Stuff your turkey with stuffing.

Stuff your face with pumpkin.

Acorn squash is one of my favorite fall eats because it doesn’t require an intense arm workout when you hack it open. It also tastes delicious and the seeds are fabulous when roasted.

Usually I just slice it in half, add a dab of butter + a hefty dose of cinnamon and maple syrup and bake it.  But since it looks like a bowl, I figure I should use it as such and stuff it with some crispy tempeh and baked apples.  Because why not? Sweet, salty, savory.

Go ahead, stuff your squash with tempeh.  Your jeans won’t mind a bit.

Baked Apple and Tempeh Stuffed Squash

-serves two (tempeh inspired by Post Punk Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 8 oz package of tempeh
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried  fennel (ground)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice your squash in half  and scoop out seeds. Place in a glass baking dish filled with 1/4 inch of water (so squash doesn’t burn).
  2. Fill each half with a small spoonful of butter or coconut oil, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup or brown sugar.
  3. Bake for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, dice apple and spread onto a sprayed baking sheet. Toss with cinnamon and maple syrup.  Bake for about 15 minutes (you can bake the apples while the squash is baking as well).
  5. While the apples and squash are cooking, heat a bit of oil in a medium pan over medium heat.  Crumble tempeh and add to pan.
  6. Add in all the rest of the tempeh ingredients and sautee for about ten to twelve minutes or until browned and fragrant.  Add in apple mixture and stir to combine.
  7. Once squash is done, fill each half with tempeh apple mixture.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Stuff your jeans with your big happy belly.

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Smoky Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers

I’m a big fan of veggie burgers. Would you have EVER thought?

My all time favorite is the Northstar burger, no question. God only knows how they master that perfectly smoky beet, brown rice and black bean heaven in a meatless burger. It’s nothing short of magical.

I’m not always in the mood to give an arm and a leg and $12.50 for that burger… unless it’s Earth Day AND after 3:00pm in which the burgers are free and the never-ending line makes you wonder if it’s worth it.

On normal days, I make one of my favorite burgs: double bean burgers or Greek veggie burgers. I also love the homemade veggie burgers at Whole World. Amy’s frozen ones aren’t bad in a pinch either.  I avoid most frozen veggie burgers because they usually have 20 gazillion ingredients with highly processed soy protein isolate as one of the top few ingredients.

Veggie burgers aren’t  super hard to make. The formula is typically a can of beans, some veggies, 1/2 cup flour or breadcrumbs, an egg or flax-seed to bind it and some spices.  I find that refrigerating the mixture for a while prior to cooking helps them to stay together better once cooked.

One of the happier moments in my life when I was at Heinen’s in Cleveland and stumbled upon canned organic lentils.  Lentils are kind of a pain to cook because they take 30 minutes.  Pre-cooked lentils are definitely the way to go for these burgers.  Trader Joe’s sells pre-cooked ones as well. You could also just whip up a big batch of lentils and have them throughout the week to throw on salads, in soups or mashed on toast with avocado, egg and hot sauce. Uh, yum.

I’m mildy obsessed with putting smoked paprika in everything I make. I highly advise that you invest in some.  The natural smoky flavor it lends to savory dishes is amazing.  I saw that they’re now carrying it at Trader Joe’s!

These burgers are a quick one-bowl deal and they make fabulous leftovers.

Smoky Sweet Potato Lentil Burgers

-makes 4 burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups cooked lentils (one can, drained)
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup cooked sweet potato flesh (one small sweet potato, or even pumpkin/squash)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup chopped greens
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup corn (I used TJ’s frozen roasted corn)
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Poke sweet potato with a fork a few times.  Wrap loosely in a paper towel and microwave for 4 minutes, or until soft.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mashing lentils with a fork as you stir.
  3. Form mixture into 4 patties.
  4. Refrigerate patties for at least 30 minutes (I kept mine in the fridge overnight).
  5. Cook over medium heat in a bit of olive oil until browned on both sides.

Enjoy one on a bed of greens or on a whole wheat bun with loads of mustard.

Tonight’s post-dinner snackage included egg whites with hot sauce, mini Triscuits with kalamata olive hummus (recipe coming soon) and granola with soymilk.

Snack much?  Eeeee!

Pesto Sweet Potato Chickpeatza + Life Before Hummusapien

Today I’d like to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, I ate quite differently than I do now.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a “healthy” eater.  Growing up, we ate dinner as a family of five at a set time and those dinners usually included an entree, salad, some kind of bread and a fruit salad.  I looked forward to eating dinner with my family at night and to this day I think that family meal time is immensely important.

I remember begging my mom to ditch the healthy, seedy all-natural blah blah blah wheat bread she packed my sandwiches on for those soft super-market breads with dough conditioners and high fructose corn syrup.  I asked her to get me the “normal” peanut butter, ya know, the super smooth kind made with partially hydrogenated oil to keep the natural oils from settling at the top.  I didn’t want the kind that was freshly ground at the store and contained only peanuts.  Waaaay too healthy for my 12-year-old taste buds.

I remember telling my mom I wanted a bagel for breakfast and her telling me that there was no nutrition in a bagel.  I sighed, told her I didn’t care, and ate half a bagel with cream cheese.  But she was right.  I really didn’t need to fuel my body with 350 calories of fiber-less white flour.

I always thought my mom raised us with the perfect ideals of “healthiness.”  She bought real food.   Now keep in mind, we ate plenty of cookies, but these cookies didn’t have artificial colors and trans fat.  They had less than 10 ingredients and I could pronounce every one.  It was a cookie made with flour, butter, sugar and baking soda. It was what a cookie should be.

I remember my mom calling Sweet-N-Low “chemicals” because that’s what it was.  I didn’t understand it at the time, but she was just trying to teach me to eat real food.  Looking back on it now, I couldn’t be more thankful.  She didn’t deprive us.  We came home from school greeted at the door with the scent of homemade brownies and chicken paprikash.  We happily ate her delicious food as a family, discussed how our days went, and indulged in a brownie.  She rarely made us anything from a box.  There was never anything fake.  It wasn’t always organic whole wheat and it wasn’t always low-fat, but it was home-cooked with love and real ingredients.  Nothing tastes better than that.

As I grew older, my interest in food and nutrition grew exponentially.  I decided I wanted to study dietetics in school and spend the rest of my life counseling people on embracing a healthy lifestyle.  I still had never tried almond milk, chia seeds, coconut flour and almond butter.  I ate well, but I didn’t go out of my comfort zone.  I put splenda and cream in my coffee.  I had a completely different definition of “healthy.”

Then I went to Israel and met a girl who was vegan.  I was fascinated by her diet and her ridiculous consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I was in the holy land surrounded my amazing produce, fresh juice stands at every corner and vegetarian restaurants galore.  I always ate meat growing up and I never considered for a second being a vegetarian. In fact the thought was completely foreign to me.  As a fun little healthy challenge for myself, I decided to try being vegetarian.  I remember reading Skinny Bitch when I was in Hilton Head with my friends and looking up from my book saying confidently, “I mean I understand the point, but I’d still never be a vegetarian.”  Little did I know, that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

And then something dramatic happened my sophomore year of college. I discovered food blogs that literally changed my life.

Peas and Thank You. Oh She Glows.  Happy Herbivore.  I discovered not only these amazingly inspiring plant-based cooking blogs, but a giant network of people united by a genuine passion for healthy and delicious cuisine.  I had never been so inspired by anything in my entire life.  I woke up every morning looking forward to reading five different blogs.  I know for a fact that I would have never been able to learn about the incredible versatility of food if I hadn’t discovered these blogs.  I had never cooked tofu in my entire life.  It was a mushy, weird white thing that my dad ordered at Chinese restaurants.  Then before I even knew it, I was eating tofu twice a week and it was beyond delicious. Months later, my roommates were doing the same.  It was a magnificent chain reaction of inspiration.  Infectious inspiration.

I fell in love with my new plant-based  lifestyle.  Forks Over Knives and In Defense of Food were my anthem. I was exploring  new foods that I never even knew existed.  I figured out how to cook tofu and tempeh in ways that made me come home from class craving them.  I discovered how much I loved reading about recipes and found myself staring at my phone during class just to find a recipe for that night’s dinner.   I couldn’t wait to get off work so I could go home and experiment in the kitchen.

I started drinking green smoothies with frozen bananas, chia seeds, spinach, almond butter and almond milk regularly.  I learned to make pizza crust out of chickpea flour.  I used flaxseed and water instead of eggs in baking.  I was slowly learning about these incredible alternatives that I couldn’t believe I had lived my whole life without.  Farmer’s markets, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s became my second home.

Then, after the realization that nearly every one of the 1,000 + pictures on my phone were of food, I started my own blog. I needed to channel my passion and enthusiasm.  To this day, Hummusapien is by far my biggest accomplishment.  I  have finally found an effective way to personify my love of writing, humor, food, nutrition and delicious recipes.  As silly as it sounds, I felt as if I were destined to inspire everyone around me to embrace whole foods, cooking, and a healthy lifestyle.

It was never about eating or not eating meat or dairy or eating exclusively organic or any other controversial ethical issue.  It was, and has always been about showcasing my passion for the versatility of food and exploring a world of once foreign ingredients that come together to create culinary magic.

Now I’m the one pointing out to my mom that though her bread is organic, the first ingredient is unbleached wheat flour (ahem, white flour).  I’m the one buying Ezekiel bread that has to be frozen because it has no preservatives and topping it with the most natural of natural peanut butters. Ohhhhh the irony.

In honor of foreign ingredients that kick butt, let’s talk about chickpea flour.

It’s just dried, ground chickpeas that we conveinely call flour because it looks like flour.  There’s no wheat; in fact it’s gluten-free just like almond flour and coconut flour.

To answer the question I know will be asked, no, it really isn’t a fancy expensive flour. I got mine at Whole Foods for under three dollars.  You can’t use it as a direct substitute for regular flour because it does have a but of a beany (though delicious) taste.  Playing with the ratios is a challenge, but a fun one.  The best part is that you’re really just eating chickpeas, which means tons of healthy protein and fiber.  It’s a win win situation.

I love using chickpea flour as a base for pizza.  It doesn’t taste like pizza crust but it has a wonderful texture and is also a fabulous way to eat pizza that’s not void of fiber.  It’s just so darn versatile!

Pesto Sweet Potato Chickpeatza

-serves one

Ingredients: 

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Spread pesto onto crust followed by the cheese.
  3. Broil, watching closely to avoid burning, until the cheese is slightly browned.
  4. Remove from oven and top with sweet potatoes and green onions.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp cornmeal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine.
  2.  Pour batter into a medium-sized pan sprayed liberally with cooking spray over medium heat.
  3. Cook for about five minutes and then carefully flip and cook for a couple minutes more.  It should be lightly browned on both sides!

Check out these recipes for more chickpea flour inspiration:

Real food tastes so.darn.good.

Coconut Pancakes for One

My mouth was exploding with happiness tonight.Seriously, people.  Exploding.

I had an awkward amount of coconut milk left and I’m not one to let all that deliciousness go to waste.  I wanted something sweet and coconnuty and man, these delivered. 

 They taste like coconut cake doughnuts with a warm crispy crust. Complete and utter perfection.  This is actually my favorite recipe on the blog to date.  Whole wheat, vegan, and nothing short of fabulosity.

Pretty please go to Trader Joe’s and get coconut oil.  It’ll only set you back six dollars.  Plus, you can use it as a natural moisturizer, eye makeup remover, and high heat cooking oil… pretty much the best six dollars you’ll ever spend.

Topped with toasted coconut, nutmeg and maple syrup, these pancakes are heaven in your mouth.

 I only ask of you three things:

Don’t skip the coconut oil.   Don’t nix the nutmeg.   Don’t change a thing. 

 We don’t want to mess with perfection now, do we?

Coconut Pancakes

-serves one

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour/whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 packet stevia (or 1 tbsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut + more for toasting and garnish
  • dash of sea salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg + more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup lite coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • coconut oil for cooking*

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Melt about a tsp of coconut oil in the pan.  *This gives that fabulous crispy coconutty crust, but if you don’t have any coconut oil, then butter or cooking spray will do.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Pour in wet ingredients (including the tsp of melted coconut oil) and stir until just combined.  Spoon batter onto pan, forming three pancakes.   If the batter doesn’t sizzle, then the pan isn’t hot enough!  Cook until pancakes begin to slightly bubble and lift from pan.  Flip and cook about a minute or so longer, but don’t overcook!

After you remove the pancakes, add a small handful of coconut to the pan.  Toast for about a minute, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Remove from pan once golden brown.Generously sprinkle some nutmeg and coconut onto the plate and then add your pancake stack on top.  Top with more toasted coconut and maple syrup.

The last bite on my plate was really a low point in my life.Who needs pina coladas on the beach in 80 degree weather when you have warm coconut pancakes at your fingertips?

Okay, I wouldn’t mind the beach.

First Pealightful “Recipea”

I didn’t eat lunch today until about 3:30, which is NOT normal.  I usually stare at the clock until 11:30am, when I feel it’s socially acceptable to start noshing on everything in sight.  I scarfed down deeelish leftovers before picking up the kiddies from camp.  Leftover hoisin ginger tofu (courtesy of Mama Pea) with brown rice,  chick peas, steamed broccoli, and mmmm sauce.  AMAZING.  The good thing about cooking for one is that there are leftover for almost a week. 

con Siracha

Broccoli is loaded with folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium. Score!

And hey, when I get sick of them, there’s always Nikki.

me and the bestieroomie (aka Nikki)

When it came to the kiddies, LiaBanana and Saun-Baun wanted hummus after camp.  Sabra roasted red pepper hummus. YUMMUS.

That's my girl!

 The acorns don’t fall far from the nanny-tree.

It was hard to pick a recipe for dinner, but  I wanted something easy, so I flipped through the new cookbook.  Of course Whole Foods was out of whole-wheat hamburger buns, TJ’s was too far away, and although I love Target dearly, they don’t really believe in selling packaged food with less than a hundred ingredients.  I settled on one without HFCS and with only a couple things I couldn’t pronounce.  Beggars can’t be choosers.  Sigh.

I made the “better than ever black bean burgers” with some roasted brussel sprouts and carrot fries.  If you want the recipe, buy the book!! Bestieroomie, bestieroomie’s friend and I ate until we could eat NO more …except for  chocolate-chip zucchini muffins we inhaled for dessert.  Who would have though you could get so full on veggies? Fabulous.

Back up.   The three of us finished off a whole pound of carrots, a feat we could not have accomplished had they not been roasted into the disguise of carrot fries.  The kiddies love these, too.  They are a great way to squeeze in Vitamin A, shine-ifying your skin, bones, hair and eyes. Double score.

Carrot Fries:

-serves three, with the risk of turning orange

  • 1 lb. of organic carrots
  • Canola Oil Spray
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt

These measurements are estimates because I eyeball the spices, so go crazy! Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash carrots.  Using a sharp knife, carefully cut carrots into “fry” spears and spread onto a cookie sheet sprayed liberally with cooking spray or canola oil. Sprinkle with desired seasoning and then spray the fries once more.  Toss to coat.  If you’re feeling sassy, try coconut oil.   Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning if neccesary, until fries look crispy and spotted(or when it’s 9:00 and you told bestieroomie that dinner was at 8:00).  EAT!

Organic Kosher Dill Pickle Spears were on sale at Whole Foods today.  Home run.