Curry Zucchini Pasta (Vegan & Gluten-free)

I have been in love with fresh curry leaves recently and had purchased an entire case of zucchini so I needed to get a bit more creative than my typical zucchini recipes.

I still had some of my vegan meatballs leftover and knew I wanted a pasta so zoodles where a must. I knew I didn’t want a nightshade (pepper or tomato) sauce but wanted something creamy.

I decided to wing it and just start making food and see where it would take me.

I dry roasted fresh ginger, turmeric, black pepper, a chuck of cinnamon stick, and curry leaves. I added in diced zucchini and let it simmer, adding water as needed. to soften the zucchini.

Once the zucchini was soft, I took half of the mixture and puréed it in my Vitamix. I poured the sauce over zoodles, added in the remaining sautéed zucchini, topped it with fresh baby arugula and vegan meatballs.

For some reason, the dish turned out a bit sweater than I was anticipating, but nonetheless, I still enjoyed it.

Gluten-Free & Vegan Meatballs

Having moved closer to the family this past winter, I have been immersed in traditional Italian comfort food all around me.

When I lived on my own, it was a rare thing to see me prepare any traditional Italian food. Instead, I found myself exploring as many new cultural cuisines as possible. 

I think some of my favorites turned out to be vegan rice paper rolls, Indian pumpkin, Miso Soups, and African Peanut Sauces.

I find that when I attend a family or friend's events, I try to essentially mimic my foods to their offerings. Meaning, if they are serving pasta, I too am whipping up some sort of Nicole-Friendly pasta dish.

Therefore, it was only a matter of time before I would be experimenting with some traditional Italian dishes.

This weekend blessed us with a gorgeous spring day and then BAM back to winter-like temperatures, freezing rain, and gusty winds. Making it the perfect day to bake until my heart is content.

I choose to make "meatballs". I mean, you can't real…

Sri Lankan Easter Dinner (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

Mango Dahl (Indian Twist):
- Garlic
- Ginger
- Lentils (1 cup)
- Cinnamon Stick
- Turmeric
- 4 1/2 + cups of water
- Cumin
- Green Chillies
- Mustard Seeds
- Fresh Curry Leaves
- Raw Mango

While it seems the traditional Sri Lankan dahl would include red lentils, I happen to have a mix of red, black, and green lentils on hand - so I winged it.

I added the lentils to my pot and covered with water and increased the water to have about 2 inches above the lentils. I did add more water later on in the process, as I like my dahl extra creamy. 

While the lentils were cooking, I dry sauteed my seasonings and then added in the mango to cook for about 10 minutes before adding to the prepared lentils.

How it turned out:
It was not the creamy yellow dahl (This would be why they use red lentils?) I recall having in Sri Lanka but I really enjoyed the heat from the chilies and the fresh curry leaves! 

Beet Curry (Dry / Coconut Free):
- Turmeric
- Fresh Curry Leaves
- Beets
- Onion
- Ginger


Meeting with the Food Mood Girl

The Food Mood Girl made her way to the big old city of Harrisburg PA all the way from her home-base of Pittsburgh, PA.

Okay, so in reality, it is not that far or difficult of a trip to make, but since moving back to the Harrisburg area, I still find myself surprised when I find an awesome event (especially one that pertains to good wholesome food).

The event was hosted at Absolute Pilates, Mechanicsburg PA Location. Which, as it turns out, Food Mood Girl (Lindsey) and Allison (owner of Absolute Pilates) actually know one another from their school days.  What a small world, eh?

Lindsey is one of the most authentic people I have met. She is who she is and she is... and she is powerful!

While not adhering to any one diet (gluten-free, vegan, keto, low-carb, plant-based....) she does adhere to what her body is asking for on that particular day.

What an amazing gift she has given to herself, to not only honor her body's needs but to be able to define what it is her body is truly in need…

Banana Flour Brownies (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

As promised, I have been doing some recipe experimenting with the banana flour. While some recipes have sort of come out as planned, others failed. I sort of love when recipes fail, as it keeps me determined and adventurous.

For the brownies, I did not measure ingredients and instead just started mixing things until it looked like the right texture.

- banana flour
- mashed ripe bananas
- cinnamon
- water

I mixed well and cooked for about an hour at 375.

It came out moist, chocolate-like taste and a bit addicting.

Banana Flour Fruit Perogies (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

I have no idea what I am doing with all this banana flour that I created on a whim, but I know that one will only learn from experimenting.

This coming Friday evening is the last Lenten Church fish dinner of the season and the family and I will be getting together to celebrate. I know one of the many menu options will be perogies so I figured I would give this banana flour a try and create a Nicole-Friendly perogie. For some reason, I wasn't in the mood to make savory perogies, instead, I am going with a strawberry filling.

I used about 2 cups banana flour, some water, and a mashed banana to create the "dough", then rolled it fairly thin, added some sliced strawberries into the center and folded these babies shut.

The next step is to freeze the perogies prior to baking them - I don't think the dough will actually hold to a boil....?

I will top with some sort of nut butter and honey sauce or a mixture of jam and nut butter.

Plantain Burger & Plantain Burger Bun (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

It is burger night with the family and I needed to get creative quickly!
I looked inside my fridge and found plantains, red pepper, beets, and some other odds and ends and figured I would make it work.

I searched my parents' hose and found a good old George Forman Grill and felt like I was already winning.

I steamed the plantain while I prepped some quick pickled beets and prepped some seasonings for my burger (freshly grated turmeric, ginger, and a garlic).

When the plantain was steamed, I placed the red pepper on the grill, figuring it would need slightly more time than the "burger".

I took half the plantain and mashed it into a patty-like substance, adding some flavoring (pepper, ginger, garlic, turmeric....) and then placed that on the grill.

Lastly, I split the remaining plantain into halves and placed it on the grill to resemble a long bun.

I let everything grill for about 8 minutes and then assembled my burger: adding some lettuce, picked beets, scallions, and a t…

Sweet Potato Burger with an Elderberry Hot Sauce (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients: -1 medium sweet potato -2 small bananas -some backing soda -Cinnamon -salt and pepper -lettuce -elderberry jam -hot sauce
Instructions: -steam the sweet potato, peel it. -mash the sweet potato with warmed banana (I heated mine in the microwave for 1 minute) -mix all ingredients together (except for lettuce, jam and hot sauce) -roll into a patty-like shape -heat in a sauté pan
To serve, place patties on a lettuce leaf, add your elderberry hot sauce (just combine equal parts hot sauce and jam), roll together and enjoy!

Beets Beet Beets

When the farmer practically gives you a case of beets, you make beet juice!
I think I have officially made every variety of beet juice I could think of - some of the additional ingredients added during my juicing are: -celery -ginger -turmeric -cucumber -sweet potato -apple -strawberry -carrot -green papaya -whatever else might have been lurking in my fridge.
I juiced in bulk. Packed them into freezer-friendly Ziploc bags and will enjoy fresh juice as needed.

Banana Flour

I've been hearing a good bit about banana flour and how versatile it is and all of its nutritional benefits.
Having not yet tried it, merely due to the fact that I couldn't bring myself to pay $8+ for a small portion and being allergy-free, you really need to choose wisely which "specialty item" you purchase, I was eager to explore just how versatile it is. I mean, I have seen posts on banana flour pasta, banana flour pizza crust, breads, muffins, waffles and so much more.
I purchase bananas by the case rather often. I typically eat a good 4-5 bunches during the week, bake with some and freeze the others for later use or for my favorite, banana whips.
I thought to myself, why wouldn't I be able to make my own banana flour? I have a commercial size dehydrator and a powerful Vitamix blender….So off to experiment I go.
I did a little bit of research and it seems to be split 50/50 between those that use the banana peel and those that do not. I am all about wasti…