Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cardamom Oat Bars!

It's no secret that I love well-spiced anything as long as it's vegan! Lately my favorite smoothie has been a creamy treat made of raw coconut, dates, spinach, and a heaping spoonful of freshly ground cardamom.  (Thanks Naturewell!) Inspired by this new favorite treat, and my recent increase in appetite due to daily yoga and long-distance cycling, I decided to make a sweet post-workout treat in the form of these chewy not-quite cookies and not-quite granola bars. Cut the bars the small, like 3 bites small so you can enjoy one batch all week!

Cardamom is an amazing spice, not just because of it's ability to make savory dishes earthy and complex and sweets aromatic, but because it's an incredible detoxifier, that supports digestion and soothes the stomach. In Ayurveda cardamom is used to balance all three doshas (not many foods are considered this balancing!) and who doesn't need a little help to feel more balanced? These bars also contain almonds and dates, hemp and flax seeds, and organic coconut-- all great sources of heart healthy fats and fiber.

Make these as an afternoon treat and let me know what you think! They're nice with a mild tea (lemongrass and mint perhaps?) or big glass of frosty cold almond milk on the side.

Cardamom Oat Bars (Makes 12 2" bars)
1 1/3 cups organic rolled oats
1/6 cup ground flax seed
1/6 cup ground hemp seed
1/3 cup organic almond meal
1/3 cup + 2 T organic, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped raw organic almonds (chop them using a heavy knife, not in the food processor for more crunch in the bars)
6 organic noor dates, finely chopped
1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup organic maple syrup
1/3 cup organic almond butter
1/4 cup organic unsweetened and unflavored almond milk
1 teaspoon high quality vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a small baking dish with a parchment paper sling so that you can easily slide the finished bars our of the dish.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, ground flax and hemp, almond meal, coconut, almonds, cardamom, and salt. Once well combined, work the chopped dates in until they are evenly distributed in the dry mixture.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry and work the mixture until it is sticky, but not wet and all ingredients are well-combined and evenly distributed. Press the mixture into the lined baking dish so that it is an even 1/2" thick and shape the edges with a spatula or your fingers so that the dough forms a neat rectangle that doesn't quite touch the edges of the dish. Score the top of the uncooked bars to make them easier to cut when they are done baking and bake them at 350 for thirty minutes.

Allow the bars to cool completely on a baking rack before cutting. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, if they last that long!

In other news, I'm working on launching a supper club in Los Angeles that will combine my love of music, literature, art, and vegan food! Stay tuned for news, and beware that I'll be moving this blog to very, very soon.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Core Work

A friend sent this to me. I'm not sure where credit is due, but in the wide world of inspirational jpegs, I'm quite fond of this one!

So, yes, I've been discouraged. I've made HUGE strides with my anxiety and my eating disorder. I feel like I am swinging less between normal eating habits and weird binges on "new" and exciting, previously restricted foods, I'm not punishing myself for spending hot summer nights drinking margaritas and eating tacos with my babe... But, I find that every time I take a step forward in one area, I take two back in another! So, all this great, great work aside, I'm in constant career bum out mode, and it is great to have a reason to refocus, and show some loved ones their light, so I can remember where mine is!

Chris left for 3 weeks in the Midwest this morning and on the way to the airport I resolved to practice yoga for a minimum of 60- 90 minutes everyday until he returns. 21 days. Yoga every day. For the last year or so I've been practicing primarily with teachers who always seem to have a theme for class, so as I was sitting on the 110, crying like a baby wishing it were the end of the month already, I decided to chin up and sit up, and work on my discipline.

So, August will be about core work.

My physical core has always been my weakest link, and it results in lots of injuries, pain, and is just a disheartening and constant reminder of my lack of discipline in certain areas of my life. At work, when I'm working, no problem, I'm all discipline all the time. But, I, like a lot of others, have a hard time disciplining myself to do my own work. Discipline, of course, is even harder to maintain when I've spent more than a year un(der)employed and doing overtime (and making real strides!) on my eating disorder and anxiety. The looking for work and the doing of tough emotional work is exhausting and makes it easy to lose sight of the light sometimes. But, when I look at myself now, compared to last fall and winter, I may not look as svelte as I'd like, but I have muscles again, and a glow and a tan and a smile that I'd like to hold up with my heart out. And... I'm writing, and making art, and conceiving of (and actually starting!) projects... So, ab work, here we go!

In yoga, pretty much every pose and transition, executed properly, uses all the strength of your core. When you're not using those wrapping, lifting muscles, asanas feel heavy and crunched, your back or hips will start to strain because you aren't lifting up and supporting yourself. The same is true when you're not practicing... If you lose the support of your core, your joyful heart, your stable connection to yourself, you crunch down and get heavy, moving is laborious, goals become obscured.

So, I am confident that making this temporary commitment to intensive daily discipline will be rewarding, and illustrate that discipline doesn't have to be a vacation from my modus operandi. Instead of being a sacrifice, or something that is overwhelming, daily discipline can add levity to challenges, bring a smile to my face, and help keep things like a year of un(der)employment in perspective!

In addition to the daily yoga I'm also going to focus on revisiting the core of my other daily practices by eating simply, restricting alcohol to 1- 2 drinks / week, and dedicating time to meditation and reflection on my values, goals, and current projects every day. Having been vegan for several years, making compassionate choices for food, cosmetics, and other consumables is easy, but as these choices become automatized, the awareness they used to bring to my other activities-- the way I share the sidewalk, or my thoughts, or express my concerns, affections, or frustrations-- has diminished. At the core of myself there is an active joy, a powerful belief in a kindness that stems from active thought, creativity, and awareness, but this core can be obscured by ways of being that are "less work," like laziness, poor listening, and a short tempered response. These responses seem like less work in the present, but create more work in the future! It's the same with yoga-- work the part of the pose you can now, actively imagine yourself coming into the full pose, even if your body isn't ready. Your mind will get you there before your biceps bulge, as long as you hold your center :)

While this is usually a recipe blog, it's been so hot, and I've honestly been feeling so bummed and discouraged, that I haven't been cooking too much lately. I'm afraid the next several weeks will be equally dry in terms of exciting recipes as I'm trying to not only eat simply, but also to save money for a trip to the redwoods and a friend's wedding over Labor Day weekend. So, expect yoga updates, and lentils, and breakdown trips to cafe gratitude!

In the meantime, I made this soup, with only minor adjustments, last week and we loved it! I definitely recommend shelling out for the Rancho Gordo beans if you can (these are amazing and so creamy and beautiful, and in the bulk bins in our whole foods!!!), but I'm equally sure that black eyed peas or great northern beans would be really good in this as well. It makes a ton of soup, freezes well, and yes, you definitely are going to use two heads of garlic in this recipe. Don't skimp! I added a drizzle of equal parts parsley purée and olive oil with a bit of lemon zest and sea salt when serving, and have been reheating the soup with cubed zucchini to stretch it out and amp up the veggie component. Enjoy.

With wishes for love and lightness, and strong centers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The best intentions lead to sushi

When I started updating this blog again, I fully intended to update weekly. I have been cooking like a grandmother who survived a war and needs to sustain her entire extended family on 3,500 calories a day, but I've been too busy to document! Last week we had potato and kale enchiladas, a riff on a Veganomicon recipe with green sauce and cashew cheese served with black beans and "Mexican" quinoa, spicy peanut noodle salad, Chickpea Picatta (the first thing I've made from Appetite for Reduction...I never use cookbooks, but I'm trying to get more protein in our dinners at the request of the gentleman in the house), pounds of peaches and strawberries, lemony massaged kale with cranberries and walnuts...And the list goes on, but I always fail to take a picture and keep track of what I'm making. I'm sorry, I'll do better in July, I hope!

June was a full month of road-tripping through the Southwest, family time with family I don't really know in Southern IL, too much work and some big life changes. I was given an amazing gift in the form of a scholarship to my yoga studio! Yay Urth! The beloved is now member number 3 of the loveshack household, trying to be as veg as possible (Amazing, people, it's amazing and inspirational and driven by his own desires and it makes my heart sing, even when he mentions probably, maybe being OK eating "happy" meat...For the record, this girl doesn't believe in "happy meat, but she believes in people going at their own pace and doing the best they can and also really loves this person, whether he believes in "happy meat" or not.), and requesting a more calorie and protein dense meal plan. I am really, really loving being able to cook for someone else and am finding trying to balance my desires for the über healthy and low-cal/fat meals and his need for fat, protein, and carbs a useful exercise in my ED recovery. It's definitely easier to feel very comfortable actually eating meals with veganaise, or some cashew cheese, or whatever, when you have the love, support, and enthusiastic "yumming" of  a happy partner! Guys, I ate half of a vegan chocolate croissant today and did not freak out and did not spend the rest of the day planning how far I should run to burn it off. I AM MAKING SERIOUS PROGRESS OVER HERE.

July is off to a great start with a potential October internship at Animal Place, an interview to do some home-cooking, and the much anticipated quitting of the job at the not-vegan restaurant I shall not name that serves not vegan food and labels it vegan, and soon I'll never have to say "would you like bacon with that?' again unless I am referring to Tempeh! Yahoo! I will say, that I am already feeling a little bit of missing for my amazing co-workers though, seriously, I work with the nicest, most driven and funny and sweet-hearted folks at that place. But, as I said to C-- Ditch the crap job, keep the lovely friends. Best of both worlds.

C is not much of a kitchen-lover, but this past weekend he cheerily chipped in to help me make a sushi "labyrinth" for our much anticipated viewing of The Labyrinth at Hollywood Forever with our delightful (newish, yay!!!) friends, Dana and Paxton, who I've just realized share initials with another couple I love (and miss) Danica and Peter. (Come visit LA guys!) Even though Saturday was vegan pizza day, the hot weather found me craving sushi and C and I's addiction to all things Vietnamese threw me the idea of pairing maki with spring rolls for a delightful "labyrinthine" platter. (Or, actually 2...See that paragraph about me cooking like someone who lived through a war!) D&P brought some amazing picnic foods (like that spinach /phyllo thing you see below) including the most ridiculous spicy maple almonds, ever and a fabulous fairytale time was had by all!

The thing about sushi is that there are a lot of steps, but if you prep ahead, you can make a lot of rolls with not too much time spent laboring in the kitchen. Brown rice sushi has always been my favorite way to go and I like to keep my home-made rolls simple (unless I make some spicy tempeh "tuna")-- blanched veggies, avocado, maybe some almond butter. But, I'll give you my tips below and my recipe for sriracha citrus tofu spring rolls with peanut sauce...An easy crowd pleaser that will solve your Vietnamese cravings without any worries about creepy non-vegan food contamination.

Did I mention I got food poisoning in Southern IL and am back on the NO NON VEG RESTAURANTS path... Nothing like barfing on an airplane my friends, nothing. 

Brown Rice Sushi "Buddha Belly Rolls"

A friend used to make these for me and they've become my favorite combo for at home sushi. Make the rice and slice and blanch the veggies the day before while you're making dinner or prepping for the week and the rolls take a lot less time when you're hungry and ready to eat, or running late getting ready to party!


1 cup short grain brown rice
1 T sugar
1 T rice vinegar
1 T mirin
1/2 t sea salt

1 head broccoli sliced into long skinnies, you want to keep a lot of stem here as the florets can really only be used to poke out the ends of your rolls
3 carrots (peeled) and sliced into long skinnies
1 bell pepper, sliced into long skinnies
1/2 mango sliced into (you guessed it, long skinnies!)
1 avocado sliced into long skinies
1/2 c raw almond butter
** We also made some using some leftover minced cilantro, basil, and mint from the spring rolls and they were extra, super amazing, so I recommend making some like this if you're chopping herbs already !

nori sheets (this makes about 12 rolls, so you'll need about 12 sheets)

pickled ginger

To make the sticky rice, cook the brown rice in 1.5 cups of water and stir in the the sugar, rice vinegar, mirin and sea salt while it's still very warm. Chill in the fridge and let come to room temperature before using. You can make your rice a day ahead NO PROBLEM. In fact, I recommend doing so!

Blanch the broccoli and carrots and then dry them well. To do this I steam these guys for about 3 minutes MAX and then immediately dump them into a big bowl of ice water. You want them to keep most of their crunch. I also usually do this ahead of time.

When you're ready to make your rolls have all of the components assembled on separate plates / bowls so you can grab things easily. Keep a clean kitchen towel and bowl of cool filtered water at your side.

Spread about 1/4 cup of rice evenly over the bottom third of one piece of nori. Wet your fingers and take about 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter in your hands and work it carefully into a little snake. Press it into the center of the rice. Neatly arrange slices of mango, carrot, broccoli, red pepper and avocado over the almond butter. You want just one "line" of each component running the entire width of the nori. Keep your filling contained and sparse. Wipe your hands. Lift the bottom of the nori and pull it over all of the rice and fillings, using your thumbs to guide the nori and your fingers to keep the rice, etc. tucked in neatly. Pull back on your edge and then roll your maki as tightly as you can. Use wet fingers to seal the roll and then set aside. Repeat until you run out of rice! 

When you slice your maki use a sharp serrated knife and clean it and get it wet between every cut. This will keep things looking tidy! Serve with tamari, wasabi, pickled ginger and a smile.

Sriracha-Citrus Tofu Spring rolls

10 oz super firm tofu (I like wildwood, but know this can be a divisive choice!)
2 T sriracha (I use Organic Valley, because it's vegan and organic, but you can use the rooster if you wish!)
Juice from 2 sweet oranges and 2 limes
1 T tamari
1 T maple syrup

1/2 package of raw kelp noodles

1/2 cup of napa cabbage, shredded
1 carrot shredded

1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 cup mint, minced
1/2 cup basil, minced

8 rice paper wrappers

Peanut Sauce

2" ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2/3 c natural peanut butter (meaning there are two ingredients, peanuts and salt) 
2 T sriracha
3 T tamari
1 T mirin
1 T maple syrup
Warm water to thin

To start, press your tofu for about an hour. Blend the sriracha, citrus juice, tamari, and maple in a bowl. Slice the tofu into 8 1/4" thick rectangles and marinate over night (or for at least a couple hours).

Bake the tofu at 375 on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. I like to do about 15 minutes on each side. Slice each rectangle in half length-wise so you have 16 pieces of tofu.

Make the peanut sauce while your 'fu's are baking. In a small food processor, mince the garlic and ginger until very fine. Add the peanut butter, sriracha, tamari, mirin, and maple syrup and blend until creamy. Thin the sauce to your desired consistency by adding warm water 1 T at a time. (I usually use no more than 1/3 cup of water.)

Again, you'll want to assemble your components before you start rolling. You'll need a pie plate full of hot water, a clean flat surface like a large dinner plate, and a clean kitchen towel. 

Soak a sheet of rice paper in the hot water until soft and sticky. Lay it out on the dinner plate and arrange 2 pieces of tofu, a small handfull of kelp noodles, a small handful of napa and carrots, and a generous portion of minced herbs on the botton third of the wrapper like you're making a tiny burrito. I like to stack the components like floors in a building so that when you slice the rolls you can see each layer clearly. Rolling rice wrappers is basically the same as working with a sticky tortilla, so pull the bottom over your fillings, pull back on everything, fold up your ends and roll tightly! Repeat until you're out of tofu.

I like to serve these sliced in half, with the peanut sauce in a big communal bowl! As a note, this makes enough peanut sauce to garnish these rolls and to make a decent portion of peanut noodle salad the next day, or later that night, or whenever you just need more peanut sauce. It's addictive stuff.

xoxo, a

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quinoa Pasta and Farmer's Market Veggies with Red Lentil and Sundried Tomato Sauce

My favorite part of every week is waking up early on Sunday, taking a hike through Griffith Park, and then spending a long hour or two at the Hollywood Farmer's Market, doing my very best to not spend every cent I have to my name on the jewel toned produce, raw nuts that redefine what the flavor of a walnut is, and fermented sourdough bread from Bazan's bakery flecked with seeds, herbs and fruit.

Friends, when I say I have a love affair with plants, I mean it. My relaxation time everyday is watching the bees pollinate my vegetable plants, or visiting my favorite gardens in the neighborhood on a long walk. This pasta highlights simple spring veggies in a high-protein, savory sauce that could easily be adapted to a variety of flavor profiles. I used fresh carrots and broccoli in this batch, but asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, bitter greens, would all be nice additions. The goal here is to have equal parts veggies and pasta. Think of this as a template to add your unplanned veggies to!

Quinoa Pasta with Farmers Marker Veggies and Red Lentil and Sun-dried Tomato Sauce (Serves 4)

For the sauce
2 teaspoons
1 small leek, sliced in half moons
1 large shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon each: dried basil, oregano, thyme
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 cup organic red lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup high quality tomato paste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

For the Pasta
1 box Quinoa spaghetti
2 heads of broccoli sliced into florets
1 bunch carrots, scrubbed and sliced into long thin pieces
2 avocados sliced
2 tablespoons caper berries

Optional Garnish
minced fresh parsley and tarragon
chopped sun-dried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes
crushed red pepper

Heat the oil over low heat in a medium sauce pot and sweat the shallot and leek until fragrant, add the crushed garlic cloves, and cook 3 minutes more. Then add the dried herbs and lentils and cook for 1 more minute. Add the sundried tomatoes and vegetable stock, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and uncover the pot and cook until the lentils break down and there is no excess stock left in the pot (About 30 minutes). Stir periodically to avoid scorching. When the lentils are cooked, add the tomato paste and nutritional yeast and then blend until smooth with either an immersion or traditional blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When you start the lentils, bring 8 cups of water and 1/4 cup of sea salt to a boil in a large pot. When the lentils are almost done, add the pasta (which should take about 8 minutes to cook) to the boiling water. Add the sliced vegetables when you have 3 minutes left on your timer to cook them gently. If you're using greens or mushrooms, cook them separately. If you're using asparagus, you may only want to give them a minute to cook to avoid veggie mush.

Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water and pour it into a large mixing bowl with the finished lentil sauce. Toss the pasta and vegetables with the sauce, capers, and sliced avocado. Serve topped with fresh herbs and tomatoes. Serve immediately. (If you are planning on leftovers, don't toss the avocado with the pasta!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Caviar of Legumes: Black Lentils!

Image from the Earthy Delights Blog:

Black lentils are beautiful, glossy, iron-rich, mild in flavor and hold their shape well when cooked. For this reason, they're often referred to as the "caviar of legumes!" I like black lentils for salads because they hold their shape and soak up whatever flavors you throw at them. I also like them because a single serving contains 20% of your RDV of iron, 13 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber while only costing you 170 calories. In Ayurvedic medicine, black lentils are said to be especially good for athletes, women who've recently given birth, and others who need a boost of nutritional energy. Because of their high iron and fiber content, black lentils move slowly through the digestive system and have some detoxifying properties. All more reasons to add this beautiful lentil to your legume rotation.

With a big glass jar of black lentils smiling in my pantry, many heavy bags of produce from the farmer's market, and a busy, busy week ahead I put together a bright dressing of fresh orange, lemon, mint and tarragon to toss with the lentils, shaved fennel, tart apple, and thinly sliced Persian cucumbers. This salad is a great, high-protein component of a multi-salad lunch-- light enough to avoid the mid-afternoon urge to snack and nap and filling enough to keep you going until dinner. Plus, each one-cup serving clocks in under 200 calories!

Black Lentil Salad with Fennel, Mint, and Fresh Herbs

1 cup organic black lentils, picked over and rinsed
1" piece organic kombu (optional)

1 small bulb fennel
1 medium tart apple
2 small Persian cucumbers
1 small young sweet onion (Like you find at the market, about 1.5- 2" in diameter, and sugar sweet, not spicy. Red onion will work in a pinch, but change the flavor a bit.)

1 fresh organic navel orange, juiced and zested
1 fresh organic lemon, juiced and zested
2 T organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
~ 15- 20 leaves fresh mint
1/3 cup fresh tarragon

sea salt and pepper to taste

Box grater with mandoline
Sharp knife
fine colander
mixing bowl
3 Qt. Pot

Simmer the lentils and kombu in 4 cups filtered water for 20- 25 minutes, or until tender. Drain and place the colander over a large mixing bowl. Place the lentils, in the colander, in the freezer to cool.

Either use a small food processor to combine the orange and lemon juice with the olive oil and fresh herbs, or chop the herbs very fine and toss with the liquid ingredients and set aside. Reserve 1 T of orange zest.

Using the box grater, grate the apple, and shave the fennel bulb, cucumbers, and sweet onion on the mandoline. You can also use a very sharp knife to slice the veggies into thin pieces.

When the lentils are cool, toss with the veggies, dressing, and zest. Let the salad sit and chill for at least one hour before tasting for salt and pepper and serving.

Today I had this salad paired with deep purple kale massaged with a variation on Gena's (From Choosing Raw) "Outstanding Miso Dressing," where I replaced the agave with maple syrup, doubled the ginger, and added a hefty squeeze of lime to finish it off! The kale salad just gets better with the addition of grated beets and sunrise carrots and a handful of chopped scallions. The flavors are very different, but to me, it was a perfect lunch worthy not just of my fancy stainless steel to-go ware, but also of a party platter.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Ok, even though my goal was only to post once a week with something really super delicious, notable, and seasonal, and this will be my third post this week, it's meant as a rejoinder to yesterday's encouragement to RISE!

I think cooking every meal for yourself, especially when single, is a huge challenge. I am responsible for all the buying, prepping, cooking, and cleaning... And, while it's one of my great loves, sometimes I. Just. Don't. Have. Time. / I. Just. Don't. Wanna! Rather than go for vegan pho every time this mood strikes, I have an arsenal of very quick and easy recipes that satisfy my craving for nutrition, color, and tastiness. (Including a Pho recipe in the works! Dudes, I am addicted.) So, tonight I give you a simple plate of Caribbean Tofu with Greens, Yams, and Quick and Dirty Mango Salsa!

When I cook, I usually make enough for 2- 4 people... Just in case and out of habit. Leftovers are nice, and with a meal like this one, they're also flexible-- tomorrow the tempeh may make a salad, or tacos... Mmmm, breakfast tacos! (A favorite solution to high-protein leftovers!) This meal actually took me 25 minutes prep to plate, but let's say your less of an efficiency goddess (i.e. control freak) than yours truly, it will take you 30- 35. Not too shabby!

So let's start with some pointers for quick cooking:

1- Prep yourself to multi-task. This means setting out all of your ingredients so they're at hand, ditto the necessary tools and a bowl or a produce bag that can no longer be re-used to gather your garbage in.

2- A stove-top timer helps! Once you actually start cooking, set it for the time you know the meal will take, in this case 30 minutes. It will help you time your steps and stay on track without over / under cooking.

3- Clean as you go. It makes cooking more rewarding when the meal time isn't extended by another 30-minutes spent cleaning. Keep it rinsed, washed, and contained.

Now for the recipe!

Caribbean Tempeh with Greens, Yams, and Quick and Dirty Mango Salsa!

Sharp Knife
Small food processor
1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon
1 teaspoon measuring spoon
sealable glass container for marinating tempeh
Large pot and steam basket (I have a stock pot with a steamer that fits inside, I use it more than any other cooking vessel!)
Tongs (optional, but they're helpful for getting things out of the steam basket!)

Caribbean Tempeh
1 jalepeno
1 large clove garlic
1.5" piece ginger, peeled
2 Tablespoons fresh, raw coconut (optional! I have some lying around from a coconut kefir experiment, but this is totally not necessary, just adds a nice sweet dimension and some extra calories.)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
4 teaspoons nama shoyu
juice of one navel orange (about 4 oz)
juice of one lime (about 2 oz)
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon tumeric

1 package tempeh, cut into 8 triangles (Half it, half it again and then half those slices so they're thinner, not smaller)

For the sides
1 medium sweet potato, washed, and cut into 1" cubes. Don't peel it!
1 bunch collard greens or other green of your choice, washed and sliced into ribbons (different greens will need more or less steam time.) Only prep enough greens for the number of people eating. For just me 6 or so medium-sized collard leaves will do.

Quick and Dirty Mango Salsa
1/2 cup fresh mango, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1- 2 scallions
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
pinch sea salt

Optional Garnishes
Sliced avocado
raw coconut butter or oil
smoked paprika

With your timer set to 30 minutes, set your steamer on the stove. While the water heats up, slice the tempeh. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.

While the tempeh is steaming, make the marinade by pulsing first the solid, then the wet ingredients in a small food processor to combine.

You should have at least 5 minutes left to make your quick and dirty mango salsa and chop the sweet potato before you remove the tempeh from the steamer.

To make the salsa, peel and dice 1/2 cup mango, 1/2 cup cilantro, and 1- 2 scallions. Toss with lime juice, ancho chile powder, and salt. Set aside so the flavors can marry.

When you remove the tempeh from the steamer, place it in your sealable glass container and cover it evenly with the marinade.

Add the sweet potato / yam to the steamer. Note the time, it will need to steam for 10- 12 minutes.

Wash and chop your greens. Clean up your station and start with your dishes.

When the sweet potatoes have steamed for 6 minutes, add the greens and steam for 6 minutes more.

Slice an avocado if you'd like and grab some coconut butter or raw coconut oil to top your greens and sweet potato...I also like a little sprinkle of smoked paprika!

Ok... Your kitchen is more or less clean, your veggies are steamed and your tempeh is marinating and you still have a couple minutes left on the clock! What to do now...?

You can either plate your food as is, or quickly fry your tempeh in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan with a little coconut oil. About 1 minute / side should do it. I usually skip this step to avoid the extra fat, but it is a nice touch!

Plate your salsa, greens, sweet potatoes, and avocado (if using). Drizzle the entirety with a little extra marinade and top your veggies with a little kiss of coconut oil / butter and smoked paprika if so desired. Take more time eating than you spent cooking, and if you can, share with someone you love. Cats count, even if they're eating kibble and not spicy tempeh. (Please don't feed this to your animal companions!)

What's your favorite quick weeknight meal?