Falafel From Scratch + Vegan Rooftop Dinner

Over the weekend, I helped host a friend’s Bachelorette party on the roof of an apartment building in Midtown Detroit. My food contribution was a homemade falafel recipe that I had made once before with success. [Others I’ve tried were not nearly as successful (can we say “falafel waffle”?)] Since we were expecting 20+ girls, I doubled the recipe. It did end up being just the right amount of food, but please beware, DO NOT double the recipe unless you are feeding 20 people. Even one batch is quite a lot of falafel ūüôā

Falafel

Now, two days later, people are still asking me for the falafel recipe, so I wanted to publicly share it, and give credit to its author, Elephantastic Vegan.

Ingredients:

  • 2¬Ĺ cups / 500g¬†dried chickpeas
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon cumin
  • lemon juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon baking powder
  • ‚Öď cup / 30g¬†besan/chickpea flour
  • ‚Öõ cup / 30ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
 Method:
  1. Put the dry chickpeas in a large bowl, cover with enough water (the chickpeas will double in size!) and let them sit covered overnight.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400¬įF/200¬įC.
  3. Peel the onions and garlic cloves. Put them in a food processor and chop.
  4. In a pan with a teaspoon of canola oil, add the chopped onions, garlic & cumin and let it cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until they starten to brown.
  5. Drain the chickpeas and then work in batches by adding the first batch into the food processor and chop until the pieces are really small (you don’t want to make hummus). In one batch add in the parsley to chop it as well. Repeat until all the chickpeas are used. Transfer everything to a huge bowl.
  6. Add the lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt, ground pepper, baking powder and the onions and garlic. Mix well.
  7. Add in the chickpea flour and olive oil. Mix the chickpea mixture well and form little balls. If the dough does not stick together enough, add more chickpea flour and oil.
  8. Put the falafel on a baking tray and put them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they turn golden.
  9. You can eat the falafel like that or put them in a pan with a little oil for re-heating when you need them. They freeze very well, so you will have a nice stash of homemade falafel in your freezer, which is super convenient ūüėČ

Note: For this party, I did fry them in a pan instead of baking them. It was a special occasion ūüôā

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Photo credit: Royce Mathew

The beautiful bride-to-be!

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Filed under Dinner Ideas, Gluten Free, Lunch, Potluck, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

No-Bake Choco Coco Oat Cookies

IMG_0796

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 4 T cocoa powder
  • 1 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup raw cinnamon honey [or regular raw honey (+ cinnamon if you please)]
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 t vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Take a 2-cup glass measuring cup, and fill it with coconut oil, melting it slightly in the microwave, until you reach the 1/2 cup mark. Add honey until you reach the 1 cup mark. Add peanut butter until you reach the 2 cup mark.
  2. Pour this mixture into a medium pot on medium heat, and stir until well combined.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the oats, coconut flakes, cocoa powder and flaxseed.
  4. Take the pot off of the stove and add the dry ingredients and the vanilla. Stir until combined.
  5. Drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or equivalent.
  6. Freeze for 15 minutes, and then remove from cookie sheet, and store in a tupperware container in the freezer.
  7. You can eat them right out of the freezer, or let them thaw for 10 minutes before serving.

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Feel free to make substitutions to suit your tastes/what you have on hand. It would be hard to screw these up!

Adapted from Dr. Axe

 

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten Free, Snacks, Vegetarian

Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili

Chipotle Turkey Apple Chili | real food. home made.

I need to take more time on my food photography. The hard part is, once it’s ready, you just want to eat it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (from a local farm)
  • 2 granny smith apples, 1 peeled and both chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of free range chicken broth
  • 1 cup of bock beer (TJ’s Josephsbrau Heller Bock or Shiner or any other beer you fancy, really)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 can of beans, any variety (I use Kroger’s tri-bean blend)
  • shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
  • 1 loaf of Everyday Crusty Bread, for serving

Method:

  1.  Add a bit of EVOO to a large pot over medium-high heat. Add your ground turkey, peeled chopped apple, diced onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until turkey is no longer pink.
  2. Add garlic, chipotle peppers, chili powder and cumin, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, beer, cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes, adding the beans in during the last minutes.
  5. Remove cinnamon stick, scoop into bowls, top with raw chopped granny smith apple, shredded cheddar cheese and serve with a slice of homemade bread.

*Tip: I buy cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, throw the whole thing into the food processor, and puree it smooth. I store it in my fridge, practically indefinitely (well let’s just say, I use it before it goes bad). I use approximately 1 T for every diced chipotle in adobo called for in a recipe.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats!

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Spaghetti Squash with Fennel, Kale, Lemon & Italian Chicken Sausage

SpaghettiSquash

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bulb of fennel plus herby tops
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh minced rosemary
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 bunch of kale, torn
  • 1 package italian chicken/turkey sausage (from a local farm or al fresco brand), cut into coins
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • shaved parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375¬ļ
  2. Halve and de-seed your spaghetti squash. Brush with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Bake, cut side up, for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, dice up your onion, pepper, and thinly slice an equal amount of fennel. Reserve the herby tops in a small bowl for serving.
  4. Mince your garlic and rosemary, and put them aside in a separate bowl.
  5. Heat some EVOO on medium heat in a large pan, and sautée the onion, pepper and fennel bulb pieces.
  6. When they are softened, add in the garlic, rosemary and kale, and cook until fragrant and kale is wilted.
  7. Remove this mixture from the pan, and place in a large bowl. Squeeze one half of the lemon on top, and add your sunflower seeds.
  8. In the same pan, add a bit more EVOO and cook your sausage coins. Add these to the bowl once browned.
  9. When the squash is done, use 2 forks to pull it apart. Squeeze the second half of the lemon on top, and then incorporate into the rest of the ingredients.
  10. To serve, scoop mixture into bowls, and add parmesan cheese and fennel herby tops.

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Filed under Dinner Ideas, Gluten Free, Lunch, Paleo

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Red Pepper Dip (The Best 3 Ingredient Appetizer)

This is an appetizer I bring to many a potluck. It is so easy to throw together, having¬†only 3 ingredients. Today’s potluck is a block party on my street, the Vester Festifall. We will be carving pumpkins, jumping on a bounce house, drinking hot toddies, and listening to a collaborative playlist of Halloween music.

Eliza Bounce House

Eliza is not enthused.

Yesterday, my neighbor Eliza and I made posters for the event. She is an absolute doll. Now, onto the recipe.

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Red Pepper Dip

Ingredients:

  • goat cheese log
  • jar of pesto (home made or store bought)
  • red pepper(s)

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Red Pepper Dip (The Best 3 Ingredient Appetizer) | real food. home made.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325¬ļ
  2. Spread the pesto over the bottom of a baking dish.
  3. Chop up the goat cheese and arrange it down the middle.
  4. Dice your red pepper(s) and place them along the sides.
  5. Bake for 15-30 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favourite crackers, pita chips, or baguette slices.

Note: You can either make this in a smaller baking dish, with a small goat cheese log, a small jar of pesto, and one red pepper. Today, however, I am using a monster cheese log, a lot of pesto and 2 red peppers.

In the oven, the pesto will sautée the pepper, and the cheese will melt. Yum yum yum! What a gorgeous Fall day for a block party. Gotta go!

Recipe source: The Polohouse

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Easy Acorn Squash with Mushrooms & Roasted Onions

Easy Acorn Squash with Mushrooms & Roasted Onions | real food. home made.

I love dinners that are practically all vegetables, yet have enough different colours, textures and tastes where you might not even notice. You might even say: “it has meal appeal out the wazoo!” And did I mention it’s quick? I¬†got off work at 4:30 and have already swung by the¬†post office and bank, stopped at the grocery store for my ingredients, made dinner, did the dishes AND wrote this blog entry and it is only 7:00pm.

Easy Acorn Squash with Mushrooms & Roasted Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 10 oz baby bella mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh thyme
  • 1 T fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • splash of balsamic vinegar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 475¬ļ
  2. Toss squash and onion pieces with EVOO and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast on an even layer for 15-18 minutes, until squash is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium heat, add EVOO, your chopped mushrooms, garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until mushrooms are tender (adding a splash of balsamic vinegar halfway through cooking), then turn heat to warm and add parmesan and parsley.
  6. Arrange squash and onion pieces in a radial manner, add mushroom/parmesan mixture on top, and serve immediately!

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Filed under Dinner Ideas, Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Lunchtime at Work: Discussions About Food with Average Americans

Lunchtime at work regularly tends to bring up various discussions about food. ¬†I find these conversations very insightful, as I regard my coworkers as “Average Americans”, and I like to analyze their perspectives. ¬†I also like to help them see food in a new way, which unfortunately tends to fall on deaf ears.

During one¬†memorable¬†lunchtime discussion, a coworker said that he feeds his dog this expensive dog food because his¬†veterinarian¬†said it’s better for him. But while he is saying this, he is feeding himself $1 Campbell’s soup!¬†Probably because his doctor doesn’t recommend anything different. Isn’t that strange?

Lunchtime at Work: Discussions About Food with Average Americans | real food. home made.

So many humans think we are not animals and therefore we have different rules to live by, which is not true.

On a different day, another coworker made a reference to the few of us in the lunchroom who were eating “rabbit food” (referring to fruits and vegetables) and I wanted to say “This is just called food. ¬†We are animals just like rabbits.” Or something like that, but I couldn’t find the right words.

On¬†my Dad’s birthday, I brought in my¬†Black Bean &¬†Avocado Brownies. ¬†I received 2 positive comments, and the rest were a varying degree of negative, including: “I took one bite and then slam dunked it into the garbage”, and “I ate the whole thing, I’ll eat anything”, etc.

This was by far my favourite remark:

“I wish all desserts tasted like this, because then I wouldn’t want to eat as many.”

How insightful! ¬†Desserts ARE supposed to taste like this! And we AREN’T wired to want to eat¬†them in excess! ¬†What a revelation.

By the way, this month I am celebrating the 1 year anniversary of my blog. I would love to post more often, so please tell me, what kinds of things do you wish to see? Recipes? Musings? Anything in particular?

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Check the Ingredients, Not the Marketing Claims

Zero-calorie, gluten-free, fat-free, vegan.

So many people are more concerned with what’s NOT in their food than what IS in it!

Does it really matter that your faux cheese has no trace of anything derived from animals or wheat, when it’s ingredient list looks more like a chemistry thesis paper?

Let’s think about this logically…

The way I like to look at it, is…Can you go outside and find this item in nature? Then it’s real food. Meant for consumption. Ideally, every food item you buy would only have one ingredient, itself. However, there are certainly times when you need convenience, in which case I urge you to carefully read the ingredient list. Do all of the ingredients naturally occur on the Earth? Are these the ingredients you would use to make a home made version? Or, as a lot of people like to ask: “are all the ingredients things that Grandma would recognize”? which is a pretty good rule of thumb.

Do not get so caught up in Calories, Fat Grams, Carbs, Sodium, blah blah blah. Simply stated, checking the “Nutrition Facts” is a waste of time.

The big companies have gotten extremely good at tricking us into thinking their products are healthy. Gluten free, All-Natural, Low Fat, well DAMN! This is surely a snack my doctor would recommend. “Diet” and “Light” are terms often used to make people think they are making healthier choices. But please think for yourself and actually read the ingredients.

For example, the peanut butter I buy has 2 ingredients: roasted peanuts and salt (exactly what I would use to make a home made version, if my time was abundant). Contrastingly, Jif peanut butter is MADE FROM ROASTED PEANUTS¬†AND SUGAR, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: MOLASSES, FULLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (RAPESEED AND SOYBEAN), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SALT. Sure, it’s vegan. Gluten-free too. But that does not make it right! Recently they’ve come out with¬†Jif Natural (which I’m sure has tricked thousands) that¬†is¬†MADE FROM PEANUTS, SUGAR, PALM OIL, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SALT, MOLASSES (Source: www.jif.com). Completely un-necessary, and only slightly more “natural”. I know that all of the ingredients naturally occur on the Earth, but the addition of sugar to every food product is one of our nation’s largest problems. Keep an extremely watchful eye on added sugars. They are everywhere.

The first time you go to the grocery store (with no time constraints), and browse through the ingredient lists of your (once) favourite foods, you will be absolutely shocked.

Check the Ingredients, Not the Marketing Claims | real food. home made.

Stay away from anything that looks like this. Even if it is a “Good Source of 7 Vitamins and Minerals”.

It is SO possible to make easy and delicious meals at home using only ingredients that are one ingredient (themselves). Try not to feel overwhelmed. We are so used to “convenience” foods like grab-and-go pop tarts, but do you know what is naturally grab-and-go? Fruit!

It is only during recent history that our concept of “food” has transitioned from what you would find at a Farmer’s Market to what ¬†you would find in the “Grocery” aisle of Walgreens. For millions of years, humans had figured out a way to feed themselves without microwave pop corn and hamburger helper, so I am confident that you can do it too!

*Disclaimer: of course, if you are allergic to wheat or dairy, or have an ethical stance against animal products, you will know to avoid these things. But please, don’t settle for engineered¬†wanna-be¬†versions.

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Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1

Hi guys,

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. We have been caught in the eye of a Friends watching tornado and gosh, it’s been great! I haven’t been working on any new recipes to post, but I have been cooking up some delicious¬†meals. When a recipe I find really stands out, I add it to my “Recipe Hall of Fame”. Here are some Hall-of-Famers that I sincerely suggest you try!

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Strawberry Basil Smashed Avocado Toast from Love & Lemons

Jeanine’s recipes never cease to amaze me. I love her simplicity and elegance. Most (if not all) of her recipes are vegetarian. Check out her blog – you can even search by ingredient, season, special diet and meal type. But first! Run (do not walk) to the nearest market and grab the ingredients for this toast.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Crispy Chickpea and Butternut Squash Salad by Mountain Mama Cooks

This is a wonderful salad. It’s got it all.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Salmon with Fennel, Oranges, Bell Pepper & Olives by Martha Stewart

This dinner I thought was a work of genius! Throw everything onto a sheet pan, Broil for 8-10 minutes, and you’re done!¬†The final product is so impressive, one would assume much more effort went into it’s making. Make this one for the guy or gal you are seeing, on about the 5th date.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

One Pan Farro with Tomatoes by Smitten Kitchen

This recipe is also made in one pan! You simply add each ingredient to the pan after preparing it, and it all cooks together. Make sure to check the cooking time on your farro, because some is quick-cooking and you could easily end up with a pile of mush. If you haven’t tried farro, it’s a wonderful ingredient. It can be hard to find, though, so check your specialty markets.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa by Sarcastic Cooking

This recipe is absolutely gorgeous. Sure, there are three separate components to prepare, but it really comes together rather quickly. Make this A.S.A.P.

Recipe Hall-of-Fame: Volume 1 | real food home made.

Coconut Flour Waffles by Unrefined Kitchen

This is my go-to waffle recipe. I looooooooove them. And they love me too.

So, hopefully I’ve introduced you to some new recipes to try and some new bloggers to follow! REAL FOOD RULES!!!

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner Ideas, Hall of Fame, Lunch, Potluck, Salads, Vegetarian

Things To Do In Nashville & Louisville

Nashville:

When you visit¬†The Pharmacy¬†at 731 McFerrin Ave. you will have the best burger of your life! I got the “Farm Burger” and it was life-changing. ¬†Their outdoor Biergarten is fabulous, and I would recommend sitting there if the wait is doable.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Check out Exit/In at 2208 Elliston Place for live music. You have a good shot at catching a local or touring up-and-coming band in an intimate setting for a reasonable price.

Katy K Designs at 2407 12th Ave. South is a lovely store Рfun for browsing vintage clothing and unique jewelry and accessories.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles¬†at 2911 12th Ave. South is in the same neighborhood, and definitely worth a stop. It might not seem like much at first glance, but this place breathes a new life into the term “popsicle”. ¬†I got a yogurt-based popsicle with fruits and nuts inside. ¬†The park across the street is perfect for a leisurely stroll while you enjoy your treat. ¬†Good location for a first date.

At Centennial Park (2600 West End Ave.) there is a life-size replica of the Greek Parthenon. ¬†Why? Nobody knows. ¬†Bring a frisbee and perhaps a blanket, book and/or picnic, and spend an afternoon at Nashville’s most famous park.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

The Johnny Cash Museum at 119 Third Ave. South was collectively our favourite destination on our trip this week. This relatively small museum is jam packed with memorabilia, video footage, and well-worth the admission fee.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint ¬†at¬†3108 Belmont Blvd. was such a great spot for lunch (or dinner!) The Hillbilly Taco (pulled pork with BBQ sauce on top of a cornbread pancake) blew my mind and went down in the books as one of the best flavour combinations I’ve experienced. One of the few joints that has truly mastered the cornbread recipe.

The Patterson House¬†at¬†1711 Division St. is a Speakeasy that tries to keep itself exclusive with it’s discreet signage, but just walk up the stairs at the Catbird Seat and pull back the curtains to experience a hand-crafted cocktail. ¬†Every drink is $12, cell phone¬†use is discouraged, and your bill is given to you inside of an old library book.

Grimey’s Records¬†at 1604 8th Ave. South is the best record store I found in Nashville. ¬†I would have bought some records here, but since I was traveling, I bought a cassette tape instead.

Louisville:

When I first got to Louisville, I arrived 3 hours before my Airbnb was ready, so I camped out at Highland Coffee at 1140 Bardstown Rd. It was the perfect place to relax, have a latte and a frittata, and play Words with Friends. I felt very welcome here.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

I then took an Uber and checked into the house I was renting in Germantown through Airbnb at 1120 Samuel St. I would recommend staying at this exact house if available, or somewhere nearby. Germantown is a great neighborhood with walkable bars & restaurants, a Kroger nearby, and an overall central location.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Walking through Downtown Louisville’s Main Street on a Friday night, you will be underwhelmed with the amount of activity.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

However, two things I would recommend checking out are the¬†Kentucky Science Center¬†and the “funhouse mirror” outside of it, and looking in the windows of the expansive Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.¬†If you are visiting during the day, I would imagine both of these places to be well worth a visit inside as well.

 

Guestroom Records¬†at 1806 Frankfort Ave. is the best record store I’ve ever been to! It’s like they went out of their way to make sure to have everything you would ever want.

Fat Rabbit Thrift & Vintage + Astro Black Records at 1000 E. Oak St. was one of my favourite stores this entire trip!  I bought a record, a cassette tape, a CD, a DVD, some magnets and some stickers. This store offers an eclectic array of items in tons of different mediums. I loved it.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

Pitaya at 955 Baxter Ave. is a boutique store we have at home too. I just love this store. The prices are very reasonable and all of the clothes and accessories are very cute.

Things to do in Nashville & Louisville | real food. home made.

These are some of the souvenirs I bought at the aforementioned places on my week-long trip to the South. I hope this post¬†might help as a guide the next time you are visiting either Nashville or Louisville! ¬†It is always a pain finding recommendations for things to do, because you can’t easily Google “Things to do in _____” but I am hoping now you can ūüôā

 

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