The Karate Kids

We like to try to introduce the kids to new, fun activities when we can. Over the summer they did soccer and had a great time with it. We also did swimming lessons at the Y. They enjoy doing yoga with mommy. This time we wanted to mix it up, so we asked them if they wanted to do karate.

It was only after a few days of them going absolutely nuts at the prospect that we realized they had no idea what karate actually was. Parenting includes some unforeseen pitfalls, like presuming your kids know what they’re talking about.

This week they had their second class together, and Google is also telling me it’s actually Tae Kwon Do. I mean, I guess at their age it’s not technically anything other than barely controlled chaos, but they have a lot of fun doing it.

Watson takes a little while to warm up, and then once he does, he gets really into everything and doesn’t want to leave. Vivian wants to hold my hand through everything, even exercises where she’s supposed to use the hand I’m holding to punch something. And poor Freddy’s just along for the ride, grumbling as I lug him around while helping the older two with their class.

It’s a challenge to wrangle three young kids at a martial arts class by myself, but the instructors are really helpful, and Watson’s friend’s parents help out too, and the kids make it really a joy even when it’s frustrating and hard.

A Surfeit of Sauces

We, like you, eat food. Sometimes that food needs a little accompaniment to spruce it up. We can’t just eat plain pasta, right? Who does that? Here, then, are three of our favorite healthy vegan sauces/spreads.

Kale Pesto

We used this vegan pesto to top our tofu and chickpea flour pasta the other night, and it was great. Sometimes Hungry Harvest gives us more kale than we know what to do with, and this is a nice healthy way to use up a good little bit of it.


Ingredients:

1 avocado
1 1/2 cup kale, shredded
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Blitz avocado, kale, nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt in the food processor until well combined. Then drizzle olive oil in very slowly while the food processor is running until it is all incorporated and the texture is, you know, pesto texture.

White Bean Caesar Dip

This dip tastes like you’re eating a bowl of Caesar dressing, which feels super decadent. But it’s vegan and super healthy, so you can do it without the guilt you normally feel when you chug a bottle of Newman’s Own. I mean, wait. I don’t do that. Who does that? Never mind.


Ingredients:

2/3 cup dried white beans (normally I’m all about canned beans to save time, but these were on sale at Target…used canned if you didn’t go crazy and buy 10 bags of dried beans)
2 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 Tsp nutritional yeast
Salt to taste
Water to reach desired consistency

Directions:

Boil a medium saucepan of water and add the beans. Cook until they are soft. You know what beans are supposed to be like. Drain and place in a food processor. Add capers, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast, and salt. Blitz until everything is well combined. Slowly add water and process more, stopping when the dip has your preferred consistency.

Smoky Almond Butter Sauce

Nut butters are the unsung heroes of the healthy vegan sauce game. If I’m going into sauce battle, I want nut butters in my sauce army. Even if we lose the sauce war, we lose it fighting the good healthy fight. This metaphor may have gotten away from me.


Ingredients:

1/2 cup smoked almond butter (if you can’t find smoked almond butter, just put some smoked salt in your regular almond butter)
Juice of one grapefruit
1 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

Directions:

Put all of these things in a food processor. That’s it. Put it on burgers, bowls, salads, whatever you feel like.

Tofu and Chickpea Flour Pasta

We love pasta, but since going mostly vegan and mostly gluten free, it’s been an indulgence that we rarely enjoy, since it’s not quite as healthy as we’d like. One day we wondered if there was a way to make good pasta that was healthy and both vegan and gluten free. We wound up adapting a recipe from Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook, and it came out well! The flavor was great, and the texture was only a little bit more crumbly than run of the mill pasta. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 oz firm tofu (the recipe called for silken, but all we had was regular and it worked fine)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 Tsp salt

3 cups chickpea flour, plus more for dusting

Directions:

Place all ingredients, and 3 Tbsp room temperature water, in a food processor and combine. The mixture will become loose and crumbly, and then it will quickly form a sticky ball. Process for a minute or two. If the ball is overly sticky, break it up and add extra flour, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. If it is too dry, add a small amount of water, 1 Tsp or so, at a time and process. Once the ball is formed with the right consistency, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. You can refrigerate it this way for up to a day, or freeze it for up to a month.

When ready, take the dough out and process it using a pasta machine of your choice. We used our KitchenAid Pasta Extruder to make spaghetti out of half of the dough, and we froze the other half. Once the pasta is made, cook quickly and briefly in salted boiling water, about 3-4 minutes, and serve. We served ours with kale pesto (watch for that recipe tomorrow!) green beans, and spiralized zucchini noodles. Enjoy!

Veggie Breakfast Tacos

It’s lettuce week here at Our Chaotic Kitchen, thanks to the four heads of iceberg lettuce that came in our Hungry Harvest, so everything this week has been healthy lettuce wraps. We’ve been trying to do a reset on our diet and use tons of vegetables after getting off course a little, so these breakfast tacos are chock full of healthy vegetable goodness. I know we keep saying it, but these are surprisingly good! A dash of salt, a sprinkle of hot sauce, and you’ll be wearing a chef’s hat and gently kissing your fingertips, they’re so good.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 peppers, diced (we used Anaheim, but bell or jalapeño would work too)

1 package grape tomatoes, quartered

1 zucchini, sliced

1/2 package tofu, crumbled

1 15-oz can beans of your choice

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Salt to taste

Iceberg lettuce leaves

Directions:

Heat oil on medium high heat. Once hot, add peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Sauté about 5 minutes, then add tofu. Sauté another 5 minutes, then add beans, nutritional yeast, and salt. Sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Serve immediately with lettuce wraps, or transfer to fridge and eat it when you damn well please.

This Week’s Hungry Harvest

We like to take a nice picture of our Hungry Harvest vegetable spread each week, and this week’s was beautiful. Cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, Anaheim peppers, endives, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, spring greens, green beans, broccolini, and eggplant (including the biggest eggplant we’ve ever seen!

If you’re interested in Hungry Harvest, click our referral link and you and we both will get a little discount!

Peanut Butter Brownie Energy Balls

The diet that we’ve been on is fairly restrictive, so we like to look for ways that we can still find room for healthy vegan treats. The humble energy ball is often the answer. These are little, dense, date-based balls of goodness. They’re full of protein from the cashews and peanut butter, so they help stave off hunger. They’re easy to make and keep well, so you can make a whole bunch of them at once and eat them later. Last but not least, they’re super delicious.


Ingredients:

1 c dates
1/2 c cashews
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/4 c cacao nibs

Directions:

Put all ingredients in the food processor. Process. Form into balls. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Enjoy.

Vegan Mini Ricotta Cheesecake 

We like to dream up desserts that aren’t overly sweet, aren’t too big, and are still pretty healthy, but still satisfy our cravings for a little treat now and then. This mini cheesecake recipe definitely does the trick. It turned out even better than we could have imagined, and it definitely quieted our desire for a dessert that would have been way less healthy. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pretzels

1/4 cup almond meal

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup

1/4 cup almond milk ricotta

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 Tbsp coconut sugar 

1 Tbsp chia seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine pretzels, almond meal, coconut oil, and 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup in food processor until the mix has the texture of bread crumbs. Press into the bottom of ramekins and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place ricotta, cashews, lemon juice, and remaining 1 Tbsp maple syrup in the food processor and process until smooth. Once the crusts are done baking, scoop the ricotta mixture into crusts and bake 18 minutes.

While the cheesecakes bake, cook the blueberries and coconut sugar in a small saucepan until super liquidy and juicy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Let cool completely. The texture should be like really thick jam. Spread as much or as little as you like on the finished cheesecakes. Save any left over for kids to lick off of peanut butter sandwiches or for you to eat with a spoon. 

Vegan Nacho Cheese Stuffed Peppers

We’ve come to absolutely love vegan nacho cheese. We love making vegan nachos, vegan chilaquiles, all sorts of stuff. It doesn’t taste precisely like cheese, but it’s a wonderful healthy thing on its own and we want to share the recipe with you. Here we’ve used it to bind together a stuffed pepper filling, and friends, it’s as healthy as it is delicious. Here goes!

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 15-oz can beans
1 large zucchini, grated
1 cup raw cashews, soaked
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 chipotle
Salt to taste
Red bell peppers (how many you need depends on their size.
Tortilla chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350º F.In a medium bowl, mix the rice, beans, and zucchini. Meanwhile, put the cashews, nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, chipotle, and salt in a blender. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth. This is the “nacho cheese.” When it is done, mix it in with the rice mixture.

Cut the tops off of as many bell peppers as you’ll need to hold all of the rice filling. Place the peppers in a baking dish with about an inch of water around the bottom of the peppers. Crumble tortilla chips over the tops of the peppers and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat as needed throughout the week.

Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Improvise

Sometimes you have grand plans to feed your kids some nice healthy vegan shepherds’ pie when you get home. You’ll let the kids play together and then put them down for a peaceful bedtime, and relax for a few minutes, proud of the parenting you’ve done.

But then sometimes your car breaks down before you get home and you just have to thank your lucky stars that you’re right next to a pizza place.

No waste curry

We all know that parenting can add stresses to our lives. That’s why we like to develop strategies for making it as easy as possible to pack healthy vegan lunches for weekdays. The easier it is to grab an already prepped lunch, the less temptation we have to go out with office mates for what will inevitably be an unhealthy, unsatisfying lunch. If we have healthy, delicious meals ready to go in the fridge, we’ve got no excuse!

The key to this waste free healthy vegan curry recipe is to prep all your ingredients first and save all the scraps and peels from those veggies! It made us six jars, which gives us both lunch for three days. It’s super tasty , super healthy, and surprisingly easy!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 large carrots, chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, diced

2 large red peppers, diced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 package mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 cup red lentils

1 15-oz can coconut milk

Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil in a medium sized pot. In another pot put all the scraps and peels and cover with water (4-6 cups) and bring to a boil. Sauté veggies in the coconut oil and once lightly browned sprinkle with curry powder. Ladle the stock into the veggies until they’re covered by an inch or so (if there’s extra stock, reserve for another use, if there’s not enough, add extra water). Add the lentils and cook until they’re cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and heat until bubbling. Add salt to taste. Serve with rice.