Breakfast: A smoothie of 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen pineapple, a handful of cilantro, 4 large leaves of red russian kale straight from my garden, 1 tbsp chia seeds, about 1/2 tsp each of spirulina and wheatgrass powders, and 1 cup almond milk kefir, all topped with 3 fresh apricots and served alongside a Matcha Morning Muffin from Kathy Palasky.
Yes, you read correctly: I planted, cultivated, and harvested that Red Russian Kale with my own two hands from my community garden plot in Eagle Heights. My entire body emnated with pride as I twisted the first purple-stemmed, glossy-leafed stalk off of the plant, recalling the previous weeks when I doubted that a tiny green seedling would ever blossom into an edible kale plant.
A quick word about the muffins: somehow I committed a deplorable baking crime by leaving them in the oven a smidge too long, resulting in a dry, crumbly texture. Thankfully, the smoky flavor of the matcha still mingled well with the tropical sweetness of the banana, texturally complimented by the crunchy pistachios, despite the muffins’ prolonged visit to the oven. My changes to the original recipe: omitted the sugar and oil, substituted apple juice for the orange juice.
Breakfast Checklist: Protein—almond milk kefir, chia seeds, pistachios in muffin. Whole Grain—sweet white sorghum flour in muffin. Fruit—banana, pineapple, apricots, apple juice in muffin. Leafy Green—kale. “Super Food”—chia seeds, spirulina, wheat grass, matcha powder, flaxseed meal (last two in muffins). Added Veggie Bonus!—cilantro.
Morning Tea: Organic White Peony Tea from Rishi.
Lunch: My usual family-sized salad of mixed lettuces, two chiffonaded collard leaves freshly harvested from my garden, a stubby little carrot, a handful of peak-season cherry tomatoes, a small nub of cucumber, a heaping helping of basil, and a sprinkling of both alfalfa and mixed bean sprouts, tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with a small dollop of kimchi, served alongside a Gluten-Free Burger Bun from Green Kitchen Stories slathered in a mash of 1/4 cup azuki beans, 1/4 of an avocado, and 1 tbsp dulse flakes (a rendition of my Chickpea-Avocado-Dulse Mash).
Though admitting this frightens me a bit, the Gluten-Free Buns from Green Kitchen Stories catapult my tastebud memory back to my preteen gymnastics dinners at Rocky Roccoco’s pizza (these events obviously took place long before my vegan/gluten-free/health-conscious days). Oddly enough, the yeasty, nutty flavor and the pull-apart texture of the toasted buns resemble Rocky’s fluffy breadsticks—though in an infinitely healthier, more animal-friendly manner. I’d highly recommend playing with this recipe, though prepare yourself for a possible shock when you find yourself suddenly craving a cup of marinana sauce for dipping…This recipe also served as my first experimentation with psyllium husks—a powerful binding agent often used in gluten-free baking. My changes to the original recipe: used an even ratio of buckwheat flour and quinoa flour instead of the amaranth flour, threw in pumpkin and sesame seeds for the seeds called for, implemented dried thyme for the spice, omitted the poppy seeds.
Meal Checklist: Protein—azuki beans, pumpkin and sesame seeds in buns. Whole Grain—brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, and quina flour in buns. Vegetables—carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, basil, alfalfa and mixed bean sprouts, kimchi veggies, avocado. Leafy Greens—mixed lettuce, collard greens, dulse seaweed, cabbage in kimchi.
Local Ingredients: Collard greens from my very own community garden plot!, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from the Westside Community Market, basil from Sprout People (no website), alfalfa and mixed bean sprouts from Troy Community Farm, kimchi from Fizzeology.
After-Lunch Beverage: A tall glass of NessAlla Kombucha in Peach Blush flavor (pardon me for constantly relying on this particular picture to display my daily afternoon drink).
Though the collard roulade harbored an even, pleasantly spiced flavor and a nicely chewy texture, I found myself yearning for more of the tomato sauce to coat the slightly dry chickpea flour filling. However, I quite enjoyed the method of filling collard leaves and rolling them up—I intend to experiment with it in the future. My changes to the original recipe: replaced 1/2 cup of the chickpea flour with teff flour; omitted the coconut sugar, tamarind, and asafoetida (I never have the last two ingredients on hand); subsituted curry powder for the curry leaves.
As for the falafel, I found them oddly spiced, as can often occur when a recipe boasts a lengthy recipe list full of Indian spices. They also harbored a rather dry texture, even though Adrienne insists that the mixture should feel dry, not wet, in the food processor. Sigh. A rather mediocre Middle Eastern dinner.
Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas, pistachios, almonds, chickpea flour. Whole Grain—teff flour. Vegetables—red onion, garlic, basil, mint, ginger, tomato, cilantro. Leafy Greens—swiss chard, collard greens.
Local Ingredients: Red onion from Driftless Organics, garlic from Brantmeier Family Farm, swiss chardfrom the Willy Street Co-op (they label their produce as locally sourced, but I can’t recall from which specific farm), basil from Sprout People (no website), mint from Troy Community Farm, collard greens from my very own community garden plot!, tomatoes from the Westside Community Market.
Comment Provoking Questions: Do you grow your own vegetables? Have you ever tasted something vegan/gluten-free/healthy that has reminded you frighteningly of a non-vegan/gluten-filled/unhealthy food? Any tips for Indian/Middle Eastern cooking newbies?
Until next time, Ali.