Late night study snack – Spicy sweet potato fries with vegan curry cashew cream

chilisweetpotatofriesandcurrycreamsauceThe life of a working grad student is certainly not a luxurious one.  Long days, late nights, and a hectic schedule are a daily occurrence. It is easy to fall into a rut with food choices when your mind is occupied by exam dates and papers that are due. Sometimes all you want is something quick and easy. But I’ve found that if you think outside of the box a little bit, items that on the surface may seem time consuming and difficult to make, can actually fit into your schedule pretty nicely.

Last night when I got home from class, I knew I was in for a late evening. I had a film to watch, a paper to write about the film and other general homework assignments that are due each week. Yes, I procrastinated, it happens. I knew I would want a late night snack to get me through the night, and nighttime is when my sweet tooth kicks in the worst. My solution: sweet potatoes.  They’re sweet and creamy and I love to add another dimension with a hint of spice.  Cut them up into fries and they’re the perfect snacking food.  And of course, every fry needs a dipping sauce; it’s pretty much a rule.  I have been experimenting with vegan cashew cream sauces, and I wanted to try a different spin on one this time…curry.  For me, nothing says comfort like warming spices, and with the season of cool, dark nights upon us, spicy sweet potato fries and a curry cream sauce makes perfect sense.

This is one of my recipes that has quick, easy prep, and gives you time to be productive while it does the hard part all by itself.  I got home, turned the oven on, sliced, tossed and threw in the sweet potatoes, put some cashews in a bowl of water and got to my homework.  When I was ready for a break from my assignments, my snack was ready for its final finishing touches.  I then promptly devoured it as I got back to my late night of studying.

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

2 small or 1 medium to large sweet potato

1 TBS olive oil

Cinnamon – to taste

Chili powder – to taste

Sprinkle of salt

Raw vegan curry cashew cream

½ cup raw, organic, cashews

¼ cup water

½ -1 tbs lemon juice

½ teaspoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon dried basil

To start: preheat the oven to 400 and put the cashews in a bowl of water to soak for at least 30 minutes

  • Cut the sweet potato(es) into long fry-like pieces.  I like mine to have some crunch, so I cut them on the thinner side.  A trick I use here is to cut the pieces at an angle, so one end gets crunchy while the other end has more potato to it.
  • Drizzle the olive oil, sprinkle on the cinnamon and chili powder to taste (I prefer a lot of cinnamon and only a little spice, so I do about ½-1 teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash to ¼  teaspoon of chili powder, but of course, adjust how you like it) and toss it all together to coat evenly
  • Spread out on a foil lined baking sheet in one layer and bake
  • Bake for 30-45 mins depending on how well you liked them cooked; toss the pieces about half way through to even out the cooking

To make the sauce:

  • Drain the soaked cashews and discard the soaking water
  • Put them in a blender or food processor with water, lemon juice and seasonings
  • Blend until creamy (you may want to add more water if it’s too thick)

Always TASTE your food as you cook!! Maybe you want more curry, or more lemon, or more cinnamon or more spice! …experiment until you find what balance is right for you!!

Spicy white bean, sweet potato and kale soup

“Well the weather outside is frightful”….ok ok I won’t start singing winter wonderland songs but it’s really quite true lately.  It’s been chilly and rainy for days with the exception of one nice day…where is the nice weather?!! So I decided to give in and cook myself something warm and comforting to cozy up on my couch with and embrace this crappy weather….and what’s better than soup?!! I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe on the blog, because for me, soup is EXTRA hard to pay attention to what I’m putting in it.  It gets a little of this and a little of that, and oh, no wait, a little more of that…soup is about tasting as you go and tweaking it to perfection by building the flavors.  But this was so simply delicious, I will do my best to explain it all 😉 and please, tweak as you go too! Start with little dashes and add more if you like the way it’s going, it’s a great way to introduce new flavors to your palate.

Spicy white bean, sweet potato, and kale soup

The basic ingredients:

2 TBS EVOO

½ white onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

About 2 cups of organic kale

1 medium sweet potato, diced into small cubes (I like to leave the skins on)

Organic vegetable broth, low sodium (I used about 3/4 of a quart container)

Seasonings:

Salt and pepper

Cardamom

Cinnamon

Ground cayenne red pepper

 

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium and cook the onion until translucent
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute, then add the kale and sautee until wilted
  • Add the beans and sweet potato and stir to combine
  • Pour the vegetable broth over everything until you have a little more broth than you would want if you want it soupy, or a little less if you want it thicker.  The broth will cook down and thicken up some so keep that in mind.
  •  Now I add my seasonings.  Like I said, dash and taste and figure out what works for you.  With the cayenne I started out with just a little bit and built it up to make sure it wasn’t too hot.  The cardamom and cinnamon, I did a couple dashes of each since I love those flavors together, especially with sweet potatoes! And as always, season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring up to a boil, cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, check your seasonings again.  You want a balance between the sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon and the heat from the cayenne.  Adjust as needed and ENJOY!!

Healthy Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

I’ve been having really hectic weekends lately.  Between the semester almost ending and all the presentations and school work that go along with that, and all of the friends in my life having babies and getting married, I haven’t had much time to prep my weekday meals like I usually do.  What this means for me is I’ve been eating a lot of salads and tuna haha. 

Luckily, last night I finally had some free time to get back in my favorite place, the kitchen.  I wanted to make a dish that I knew would yield a lot of food for me, but wouldn’t be a lot of work because I was exhausted! I love this dish because it’s not only packed with veggies, but it’s simple and easy to make!! I’m not a huge fan of take-out food, but if you’re a fried rice lover, I highly suggest trying this instead.  It’s a much healthier and more nutritious option and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much it tastes like you’re actually eating fried rice!

cauliflower fried rice

You can really throw whatever veggies you want into it, but here’s what I used:

  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • ½ yellow bell pepper diced
  • Hand grated 5 baby carrots (because that’s what I had in my fridge!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • Fresh grated ginger

You’ll also need:

  • 1TBS oil (I use extra virgin coconut oil)
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 TBS low sodium soy sauce
  • Any protein you may want to add
  • salt and pepper of course 😉

Start by sautéing your onions in 1 TBS of oil until translucent.  Then add the garlic, ginger, and other veggies and cook through.

While the veggies are cooking, cut off the florets of the head of cauliflower.  Some stem is ok, just not big pieces of it as it doesn’t process as nicely as the florets do.  Pulse them in your food processor until you get a rice-like consistency.

Add the cauliflower rice to the pot of veggies and stir to combine.

While the added cauliflower is cooking through, I whisked together the 2 eggs and scrambled them in a separate small pan. 

To finish, add the soy sauce and scrambled eggs, (add whatever cooked protein you would like at this step too) mix it all together and voila! Dinner is served! This made 4 servings for me, but really I wanted to eat it ALL! I served it with some hand cut chili spice sweet potato fries that I made also, but that’s another post! Hope you enjoy!!

cauliflower fried rice and chili spice sweet potato fries

Sweet Potato Hash

hash

Breakfast is a great time to get creative with your food.  Making the same old bowl of cereal or oatmeal can get boring after a while, and even the staples like eggs and potatoes, can use a little twist to keep things interesting.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent healthy alternative to regular potatoes.  Not only are they high in nutrients like B6 and potassium, they also have twice the fiber that regular potatoes have.  And even better still, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that prevents certain types of cancer, and Vitamins C and E which combined are great for your hair and skin.    Sweet potatoes also  have a low glycemic index, meaning that they won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike like regular potatoes do.   Plus they’re delicious!  

This is my “recipe” for the hash.  I don’t have measurements since this was pre-blog days, but the proportions are pretty easy to just estimate visually based on your preferences and how much you want to make.

The potatoes: Start by washing off and dicing up a sweet potato into small, equal-sized cubes.  Leave the skin on, as that’s where a lot of the nutrients come from and it crisps up nicely when sauteing.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook the potatoes for 3-5 minutes (depending on how big your cubes are) until they are cooked through and can be pierced easily with a fork.  Drain and gently pat them dry.  Season the potatoes with cinnamon and crushed red cayanne pepper.  Sweet and spicy always goes well together!  In a large skillet heat your oil over medium (I use virgin organic coconut oil) and add the potatoes letting them brown up nicely on all sides.  To get a good color on the potatoes, try not to move them around too much as you might end up steaming them instead of letting them brown.  Once browned, remove from the pan and set aside.

The veggies: Using the same skillet, add a little bit more oil if necessary and throw in a  diced mixture of onion and red, green and yellow bell pepper.  I season this with some salt and pepper, and saute until the mixture is almost cooked, where the onions would be translucent and the peppers soft.

The hash: When the veggies are about done I add the potatoes back to the pan and toss it all together.  Having the cooking finish as a whole allows the flavors to blend and make every bite delicious.  Also, this lets the potatoes crisp up some more and get extra browned, since that’s how I enjoy my hash 🙂

And there you have it!  I served mine along size a green bean and spinach, egg white omelette with grapefruit and blueberries on the side.  With of course a nice big cup of organic fair trade coffee with almond milk.  Yumm!