Creamy Guacamole with a Kick

This past week has been pretty rough on me. About two weeks ago, I got home from London and the next day my grandfather passed away. Because of all of the commotion surrounding his death, I didn’t have time or room in my head to miss Mark or think about the fact that I just had to say goodbye to him yet again. This week though, it crept up on me. I thought that I was doing fine and that I just went straight back to how I had been right before I left for London– immune and almost happy. However, I realize now that that is definitely not the case. I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness from not only missing Mark, but also missing my grandfather. The combination of these two blows to the heart has taken a toll on me both emotionally and physically. I haven’t had much of an appetite, and I when I do, I eat everything in sight (as long as it’s vegan!) But I also am just feeling really down. I know that all I need to do is get my tush to spinning and everything will get sorted out, but I’m struggling to get out of bed in the morning, let alone get myself out of the house and all the way to the gym 😉

The one thing that has helped me keep my head above water is my drive home from work every day. This week, we have had beautiful 75 degree weather in Philly. I roll my windows down, open my sunroof, and blast feel-good music. Having the warm wind on my face is, oddly enough, what’s been getting me through this. I’ve been working on starting my gratitude lists again, and every day this week I mention the weather and driving with my windows down. For some reason, that’s what helps. Speaking of beautiful weather…

To me, nothing says summer quite like avocado and tomato. When the sun gets hot and the days are long, I find myself snacking on this combination almost every day. So when I saw that the forecast for this week was full of sun and 70 degree weather… I knew what I had to do.

Guacamole is one of the easiest dishes to whip up, with only a few ingredients and many of them household staples.

Creamy Guacamole with a Kick

Ingredients:

3 Avocados

1 Large Tomato

A 1″ Thick Slice of Red Onion

1 tsp Lime Juice

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Begin by prepping your vegetables– slice the avocados, dice the tomato, and chop the onion.

In a mixing bowl, mash avocado with a fork, leaving a few chunks. Add onion, tomato lime juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and mix until combined.

The red onion adds beautiful color and a kick of flavor that compliments the avocado well.

Gaucamole is an extremely versatile dish and can be served many ways (my favorite of which is straight from a spoon.)

Try it spread on bread or scooped up with chips and salsa.

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Easy Spanish Rice

I hadn’t had Spanish Rice in years. In fact, it wasn’t something that I ever ate growing up– it wasn’t until I started dating Mark that I ever had it. It was one of his favorites, and we would have it for dinner often. However, since we went vegan and starting cooking more, the easiness of Uncle Ben’s Spanish Rice fell by the wayside, allowing for experiments with seitan stir fries and stuffed mushrooms.

The weather in Philadelphia was incredible today- 70 degrees!! Yet, even though there was such warm weather, I was craving a warm bowl of gooey, creamy rice all day. I came home from work and immediately got to work on my dinner.

Simple Spanish Rice

Makes 3-4 servings (depending on how hungry you are 😉 )

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C Basmati Rice

3 C Vegetable Broth

2 Tbsp Earth Balance or other Vegan Margarine

1/2 an Onion, Diced

3/4 a Can of Diced Tomatoes

1 Clove Garlic, Minced

Dash of Cayenne

Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a saucepan, melt the Earth Balance on low heat. Meanwhile, dice the onion and mince the garlic.

Once margarine has melted, toss your garlic and onion into the pan and saute for a few minutes– until onion is translucent. Throw tomatoes into the pan and add vegetable broth.

Add rice and cover the pot, letting simmer for about 25 minutes. Check on the rice about 15 minutes in– if the liquid is all absorbed, add 1/2 a cup more vegetable broth.

Once done, add cayenne, salt, and pepper and mix in. Serve in bowls with a healthy side of red wine 😉

To me, this is serious comfort food.

Creamy rice with garlic, onion, tomatoes, and a little kick from the cayenne? I’m sold.

Eat up and enjoy!

PS– did you watch Awake last night? It’s my new tv obsession… if you haven’t watched it yet, catch up!

Vegan Mac and Cheese 101

Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you are alone today, make the most of it. Do something kind for yourself! Make time for you! Paint your toenails, take a nap, or make some vegan mac and cheese 😉

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Squash and Spinach

makes two servings

Ingredients:

2 servings of your pasta of choice

1/4 C Earth Balance

1/4 C Unsweetened Plain Soymilk

1 C Vegetable Broth

2Tbsp + 1 Tsp Flour

3/4 C Nutritional Yeast

1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 Tsp Onion Powder

1/2 of a Yellow Squash, cut into cubes

1 C of Raw Spinach

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Boil water for your pasta, and cook according to package instructions. The choice of pasta shape is crucial here! You want to buy a shape that holds onto sauce really well. I usually use elbows, fusilli, or gobletti. While your water is boiling and your pasta is cooking, melt the Earth Balance in a sauce pan. In a small bowl, mix together flour and soymilk until all clumps are gone. Add to melted Earth Balance. Add the vegetable broth and stir well. Mix in nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder. Continue to stir occasionally as the sauce thickens. In a frying pan, saute cubed squash in olive oil until just cooked (the white middle will become translucent). Add spinach and continue to saute until spinach is lightly cooked. Once your sauce has reached desired thickness, pour in drained, cooked pasta and cooked veggies. Combine everything and enjoy!

[NOTE: If you have a lot of time or have anything against garlic powder or onion powder, put 2 cloves of garlic and a chopped half of an onion into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add this before you add the flour soymilk mixture and saute on low heat for a few minutes. However, you will get better texture with the powder that the whole vegetables. ]

I am obsessed with this meal. I make it at least once a week, normally. I would advise not eating this if you have a date coming up, as it does have a lot of garlic and onion. However, sometimes you just have to make sacrifices 😉 This cheese sauce is creamy, gooey, and absolutely delicious over pasta and vegetables. It’s really good poured over broccoli, and makes a great addition to a creamy potato-based soup. I usually add in a little cayenne and salt and pepper to give this sauce some more pizzazz.

Memorize this recipe and use it often. And treat yourself to some as-good-as-the-real-thing vegan mac and cheese this V-day 🙂