• Yummy Recipes

    Mediterranean Salad Recipe

    It’s been quite some time since I shared a recipe, but it’s not because I’m not cooking. I haven’t shared any recipes because I haven’t been doing my own spin on meals I prepare lately. This salad is the exception — I didn’t follow a recipe for this, I created it myself!

    This Mediterranean salad is inspired by a salad my parents and I enjoyed at an Afghan restaurant we discovered last weekend. The waiter gave us each a big plate full of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers swimming in a pool of light, acidic, and tangy dressing. I’ve had a strong craving for Mediterranean food lately, so I thought it’d be fun to make it at home! Below is the recipe.

    My Version of a Mediterranean-Inspired Salad (modify as desired!)

    Ingredients

    • 2 large cucumbers
    • 4 small/medium-sized tomatoes
    • A lot of fresh parsley
    • Many mint leaves
    • Several sprigs of fresh dill
    • One lemon
    • Apple cider vinegar (optional)
    • Two garlic cloves
    • Garlic powder (optional)
    • 1/2 red onion
    • Feta cheese
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    1. Peel and julienne large cucumbers (the mandolin my dad got me for Christmas worked wonders for this) and put in a large bowl
    2. Dice the tomatoes and toss in the bowl. Try to keep the guts of the tomato intact so it can add to the dressing.
    3. Chop up more fresh parsley than you think you need, and add it
    4. Chop a ton of fresh mint
    5. I plucked the dill right off of the stem and threw them into the bowl…I don’t know if there’s an “official” way to prepare fresh dill.
    6. Squeeze one lemon over the mixture
    7. Option to add some apple cider vinegar as well. I would’ve added another lemon but I didn’t have any, so I used the vinegar to provide more acidity
    8. Mince the garlic and add
    9. If raw garlic is irritating to your digestive system, I recommend using garlic powder instead. I used both garlic powder and raw garlic
    10. Chop the red onion and add
    11. Season with salt and pepper to taste
    12. The night before you serve, or even right before you eat it, add as much feta as you would like. I added it as late as possible because I think it would dissolve into the dressing otherwise.

    That’s it! It’s quite simple but so satisfying.

    One more note- it’s best to prepare this at least the night before so everything can soak overnight.

    If you make this at home, let me know what your take on the recipe is.

    Happy eating!

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Sugar-free & Dairy-free Cinnamon Dark Hot Chocolate

    It only makes sense to offer a sugar and dairy-free beverage recipe after criticizing Starbucks for its lack of options. Ironically, I’m writing this while sitting in Starbucks drinking a black blond roast that unfortunately kept me up all last night. The solution to my exhaustion due to the four hours of broken sleep I got? Drink another black blond roast from Starbucks, of course.

    Anyway…this recipe is very simple and you can modify it as much as you want!

    Ingredients for one serving:

    • A mug of 3/4 water and 1/4 nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
    • A generous tablespoon of unsweetened baking cocoa powder
    • Dashes of cinnamon
    • Coconut whipped cream (I didn’t know this was a thing until recently, but it changed my life!!)

    Directions:

    Pour the mug of water/nondairy milk into a small pot. Set to medium heat and allow it to heat up.

    Once it’s hot, but before it starts to boil, take it off of the stove. Add the baking cocoa powder and as much cinnamon as you’d like. Stir.

    Then pour the hot cocoa into your mug and top with coconut whipped cream and more cinnamon.

    That’s it!

    You can use sweetened nondairy milk and/or natural sweeteners such as maple syrup or coconut sugar.

    If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it!

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Pumpkin-Apple Pie Oatmeal

    I’ve been greatly enjoying this little breakfast concoction a ton lately. It’s the perfect tasty recipe to satisfy you until you enjoy the large Thanksgiving feast later in the day. This meal evokes the scents and flavors of autumn, but it can be enjoyed year-round.

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    Serving Size: 1

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats
    • 1 cup of water
    • 2+ generous spoonfuls of pumpkin puree
    • Turmeric
    • Ground cloves
    • Ground cinnamon
    • Ground nutmeg
    • One apple diced (save one half of diced apple for later)
    • Raw pumpkin seeds

    In a small pot, add old fashioned oats, water, and half of the diced apple**. Set to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Stir occasionally.

    Once oatmeal is simmering, add the desired amount of pumpkin puree. Stir. Then sprinkle in a generous amount (to taste) of the spices and stir them in.

    When the oatmeal has thickened, turn off the stove and serve with the other half of the diced apple and pumpkin seeds. You can also sprinkle more cinnamon on top.

    **Adding the apples with the oatmeal will soften them but still leave them a teeny bit crunchy. If you want softer apples, cook them with some water before adding the oatmeal.

    If you try this recipe, let me know how you enjoy it! Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

    xx Vic

  • Pumpkin Chai Smoothie with Pumpkin Seeds
    Yummy Recipes

    Pumpkin Chai Smoothie

    I have become quite the smoothie queen lately, especially when it comes to breakfast. I love breakfast, but my relationship with it has become a little strained since I quit eating my trusty Limited Edition Cheerio varieties (the banana nut flavor is by far the best).

    Over the summer I mostly ate toast with goat cheese and fruit, but after eating it nearly daily for two months, I needed to switch it up. That’s when YouTube saved the day!

    A former lesbian couple I follow on YouTube makes videos and books of raw vegan recipes. Through their videos, I went down the rabbit hole of raw vegan life and raw vegans seem to enjoy their smoothies quite a bit. So, I got some of the ingredients that they like to use in their smoothies, and now I start my day off with the comforting sound of the blender.

    Pumpkin Chai Smoothie

    Ingredients:

    • 1 large banana or two baby bananas
    • 2-3 generous tablespoons of pumpkin puree
    • 1/4 hemp protein powder (or one serving size of another protein powder)
    • 1 tbs of chia seeds
    • 1-2 tbs of flax seeds (serving size is 2tbs but I add one)
    • about thumb-size of fresh ginger, peeled
    • a bunch of ground cinnamon
    • a dash or two of ground nutmeg
    • some dashes of black pepper
    • some dashes of ground turmeric
    • pumpkin seeds to top
    • enough non-dairy milk/water/a combo of both to get the consistency you want

    All you have to do is throw it all (minus the pumpkin seeds) in the blender, pour into a glass, top with pumpkin seeds, and you’re good to go! You can mess around the quantity of each ingredient to suit your palate.

    If you make this, let me know your thoughts in the comments! What do you usually eat for breakfast?

    xx Vic

     

     

  • Speaking My Mind,  Yummy Recipes

    Drink Me: London Fog Tea

    My favorite season is now in full swing, as evident by the plethora of Halloween and autumn decorations in stores as well as on people’s lawns. Although I’ve been rocking Halloween/autumn-esque attire since August, I got a little extra in the spirit by using my Bath and Body Work’s Marshmallow Pumpkin Latte lotion and body spray. I smell like a sweet cinnamon pumpkin, and I love it!

    Another thing that I’ve been loving lately is the beverage I’ve been starting my mornings with: London Fog Tea!

    I have become obsessed with making myself London Fog Teas. I was inspired to make it when I was looking at the ingredients in different Starbucks beverages, and I saw that they offered this unique tea. I had heard of it before, probably from an English YouTuber, so I was intrigued to see what was in it. I was surprised to realize that I had all of the ingredients: Earl Grey tea, lavender, vanilla, milk, and sugar. Thus, I made it immediately and I’ve been making it daily since.

    Here’s how I make it:

    In a small pot, I boil water for a minute. Then I add a generous teaspoon of loose Earl Grey tea I got during my first trip to London, hence why the tea is inside a London bus container as pictured above. I add about a teaspoon of dried lavender that I got from a farmer’s market last November (you have to get dried lavender if you don’t have it!! It’s so delicious!). Then I add almond milk and let it boil for about 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Afterward, I turn off the stove and remove the pot from the hot burner to allow it to cool a little bit. Finally, I pour the delicious beverage through a tea strainer and into my beautiful Alice in Wonderland teacup mug! It’s very fitting for this English beverage.

    Since I am sensitive to sugar, I omit it. I also have not made it with vanilla yet, but I would add less than a teaspoon of that.

    Cheers to fancy teas! Let me know if you try it and what you think about it in the comments below!

    xx Vic

     

     

     

  • Yummy Recipes

    Summer is for Soup! – 2 Recipes Reviewed

    Perhaps it’s unusual to be cooking up soup in the summer, but I was tired of making just chicken or salmon and pairing it with other food groups. Soup, on the other hand, is a great way to get all of your nutrients in one pot!

    I’m a little tired of soup now that I’ve eaten it for two or three weeks straight though…but I thought I’d share what I made because it was so delicious!

    Today I am reviewing for you two soups: a vegan lentil and veggie soup from The Minimalist Baker and a Portuguese soup from Rachael Ray’s old show, 30-Minute Meals.

    Let’s get started!

    1. The Minimalist Baker’s 1-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup

    The reason I decided to make this recipe was due to the whole bag of lentils I had from the last dish I made! Plus, the recipe was simple enough because it used spices I had and it also called for common soup ingredients such as celery, carrots, and potatoes. I actually had leftover celery from buying it to eat as a snack, and it was going to go bad. My grandma is a big fan of using leftovers and whatever is going to go bad in a delicious soup. It’s much better to repurpose it and eat it than to throw it away!

    The lentils were the main ingredient, so here’s a picture of the green lentils I had so you can see what they look like. Apparently, you don’t need to soak them, you just need to rinse them. Without soaking, they take a while to cook. It’s not like an hour or anything, but it takes a little longer than pasta to cook. Lentils have way more nutritional value than pasta though, so I think it’s worth it!

    The How:

    All you need to do is sautee the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery for a little bit with some salt and pepper. Then you add the potatoes, veggie broth, and season it all a little more. Once the broth is boiling, you add the lentils and simmer until the lentils soften. Once the lentils soften, you can add greens. I added kale because that was what the recipe called for and I don’t ever cook with kale. One time I tried making kale chips, but I overseasoned them and burned them…it was a sad time.

    Below is a picture of what it looks like when it’s finished! It smelled so good and my parents were fans. My mom had gotten a sinus infection from sleeping in her dusty room from the construction, so she really appreciated the comforting and soothing properties of a healthy soup.

    The Review:

    This recipe was definitely a favorite! I can easily see myself making this a staple in my diet, especially when it gets chillier outside. It has protein, veggies, and healthy starch!

    I think what really made me love this recipe was the suggestion to add rosemary and thyme to the broth. I’ve never cooked with fresh rosemary or thyme before, but I learned that the aromas and flavors are divine. I didn’t use all of the fresh herbs that I had bought so I have been using them in tea to alleviate menstrual cramps. I’ll add that recipe another time!

    The only somewhat negative thing I have to say about this recipe isn’t really negative but I feel like it took longer to cook than the recipe stated. Granted, I may not have been following the boiling directions properly.

    The issue was that I feel like the lentils took longer than 20 minutes to become tender. As I mentioned in my previous lentil recipe post, I had undercooked the lentils before, so when I cooked them this time, I waited until they were very soft. This took more than 20 minutes for me, but perhaps with soaking them, it would take less time. I haven’t tried soaking lentils yet.

    Since I cooked the soup for longer than the recipe called for, a lot of the broth evaporated, as you can see in the picture above. I only had one box of broth though (I used Rachael Ray’s veggie broth), so the soup was more like a…stew. Which was perfectly fine to me, but next time I’ll be buying two boxes of broth to make this soup.

    2. Rachael Ray’s Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

    I had a ton of leftover kale (pretty much 1lb of kale), so I found this soup recipe which called for kale! I also had leftover potatoes, which were needed for this recipe. The only ingredient I had to buy was chourico and chicken broth.

    This recipe required less preparation than The Minimalist Baker one because I only had to chop up the potatoes and chorizo, whereas the other one I had to peel and cut the carrots, cut the celery, cut the potatoes, etc. In the video of this recipe, Rachael Ray literally throws everything into the pot, which I felt was very accurate. I recommend watching the video by the way because it’s such an old video of her, it’s great!

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    The How:

    Doesn’t the picture above look fantastic?! It smelled and tasted as good as it looks too. Anyway, this recipe was simple. You saute the onions and potatoes, then once those ingredients are cooked a little, you add the garlic, bay leaves, and all the kale. I left about two handfuls of kale in the bag to use for omelets.

    Once the kale wilts, which took longer than 2 minutes for me probably because the stove was too low, but once that did happen, I added the canned garbanzo beans, which I rinsed unlike what she does in the video, tomatoes, and broth. I didn’t have canned tomatoes so I just chopped up two fresh tomatoes. Once again, I used Rachael Ray’s broth, but I used her chicken one this time.

    Once the potatoes are cooked, you are done!

    The Review:

    I was the only one that ate this soup, so I can’t speak on how anyone else felt about it, but I loved it! I’ve never had soup with chorizo before but I loved it because it added heat that most soups I’ve eaten lack. It was also more filling than the previous soup because the protein wasn’t just lentils. This soup had chickpeas, which are super filling, and chorizo, thus it was a more well-rounded meal for me!

    I will just say that the original recipe called for waxy potatoes, which I did not use so that may have allowed the cooking time to be about 30 minutes for me. Instead, I used the regular baking potatoes that I had bought for the vegan soup recipe, which were soft even when raw. I also did not peel the potatoes for this recipe because who has time for that??

    I made the same mistake I made previously with the insufficient amount of broth in this recipe too, despite making it several days later and realizing my initial mistake! The reason I made this one wrong too was that the recipe specifically called for one quart of broth, so that’s what I bought. Again, always get another container of broth, unless you don’t mind stew-ish soups.

    The last thing I have to say about this recipe is that it required you remove the casing from the chorizo. I didn’t do this and I don’t think Rachael did it in the video, but if casing bothers you, feel free to do it.

    So, that’s it for me on soups! I am definitely taking a break from the soup world for a bit, but when I do want more soup, I can reheat the leftover Portuguese soup I stored in the freezer.

    Do you enjoy soup in the summer? What is your favorite soup recipe? Tell me in the comments below!

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Lentil-Lovin’! – Spiced Moroccan Lentil Recipe Review

    A couple of years ago, my step-grandmother introduced me to the world of lentils. She had shown me a lentil soup recipe that I then cooked on my own until high school consumed my life and I temporarily stopped cooking. I forgot about lentils after that since it’s not a staple in my mom’s Puerto Rican- cooking, or in any other heritage that I am regularly exposed to. It wasn’t until my girlfriend, who is Indian, brought Indian cuisine into my everyday life that I remembered my love for lentils.

    Plus, since I want to make more vegetarian dishes, it’s a great ingredient for a variety of meals!

    I decided to make spiced lentils that I hoped would be similar to a delicious Indian lentil dish I had had. They were not very similar because this lentil dish is Moroccan-inspired, but they were still fantastic! I got this recipe from Minimalist Baker, which is my favorite recipe site as of late. I love this website because they make vegan/vegetarian meals, and many of them are very simple to make. They usually require only a couple of ingredients, most of which I have at home, and they aren’t time-consuming either. I definitely recommend checking them out!

    This recipe called for green lentils specifically…I’m unsure why honestly. I don’t know the difference between lentils. Perhaps it’s akin to differences in beans? I’m a lentil-novice still, so my apologies that I don’t know more.

    I got these lentils from ShopRite, and I thought that compared to other lentils, the green ones were more expensive. That was also because they only had organic green lentils. I don’t know why they didn’t have nonorganic green lentils, but my girlfriend recommended that next time I go to the Indian store to get lentils.

    Aside from lentils, you also need a whole red pepper, onion (I used yellow), tomato paste, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, and a crap-ton of spices.

    Then, all you have to do is cook the lentils until tender and blend the other ingredients to make a sauce. Once the lentils are cooked, drain the excess water and mix in the blended sauce. Bam, that’s it!

    The cool thing about this recipe is that you can add as much of the required spices as you want so you can make it as spicy, acidic, sweet, and salty as you want! I will forewarn y’all though to taste it as you go…and maybe to slowly add the fresh spices too.

    I personally feel like I added too much garlic and onion to mine. I thought I used the required amount, although I didn’t measure anything…but because you don’t cook the sauce, the bite of the garlic and onion remains pretty intense. If you have sensitive stomachs, and even if you don’t, perhaps cook the onion and garlic a little before you blend it, or cook the sauce after you blend it…or both! I wanted to try cooking it to see how it affected the flavors, but I didn’t get a chance. I expect to make this again so I’ll try it for next time.

    Anyway, here’s the mixture of the sauce with the lentils.

    Below is the dish with my girlfriend’s spicy Indian rice as well as some fresh parsley and cilantro on top. Another time I had this fish with plain jasmine rice and then another time with my girlfriend’s not-spicy Indian rice, and those ways I had it were better. A super flavorful rice competed too much with this spiced lentil dish.

    The last thing I have to say about this recipe is that I find lentils to be a little confusing to make. The only other time I’ve made them has been in soup, which takes awhile to cook so they end up being prepared properly. In this situation, however, my girlfriend felt that I had undercooked them. I ate all six servings myself and I had no idea. I’m going to watch a lentil cooking video next time to ensure that they are prepared properly.

    Do you like lentils? How do you like them prepared?

    I’m going to make a new lentil soup this week so stay tuned for that!

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Satisfying Summer Salad!

    I recently made a salad inspired by a recipe from the Yoga Journal, and it was great! I have mixed feelings about salad because at least when I make it for myself, I don’t feel like I have the greatest skill at combining ingredients that go well together. Therefore, salad recipes, albeit simple, are helpful to me. As per usual with the recipes I prepare, I didn’t have every ingredient required, so I had to improvise. The results were still great though!

    I didn’t measure anything for this recipe so I just threw a couple of handfuls of arugula in a bowl and I added a quarter of an avocado, because I had eaten most of it the previous day. Then I added chopped walnuts, raw sunflower seeds, the rest of the parmesan that I had, and a chopped tomato. Lastly, I squeezed half a lemon, drizzled olive oil, added a bunch of black pepper, and a pinch or two of Kosher salt.

    That was it! It was super simple and it had flavors that I usually don’t add to my salad unless I’m at a salad bar or if the salad is made for me.

    Some of my go-to salad ingredients are canned beets, canned mandarin slices, craisins, and red peppers. Clearly, I like sweet salads.

    What are your favorite ingredients for a salad?

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Trying New Breakfast Recipes: Golden Milk Smoothie

    My typical breakfast consists of a delicious bowl of Cheerios swimming in milk. I’ve since upgraded to various Cheerio flavors such as the Limited Edition Banana Nut Cheerios (RIP, I hope they revive it!!) and Peach Cheerios. I’ve also upgraded from skim milk to non-dairy options like rice or almond milk because I’ve learned that dairy contributes to many of my acne issues, among other things.

    Anyway…since I’ve moved back to my parents’ house, I haven’t had to cook or prepare meals for myself as much as I was doing in school. The only meal I have to prepare nowadays is breakfast, if I even wake up early enough for it. Well, I’ve finished the cereal at home and I haven’t bought more yet so on Monday I decided to check out my latest favorite recipe website, The Minimalist Baker! I made their golden milk smoothie and I wanted to share how I modified it and the results!

    First though, I just want to say that this is inspired from Golden Milk Tea, also known as “Haldi Doodh” in Hindi which translates to “turmeric milk.” I’ve made turmeric milk before because it is supposed to help with menstrual pain, which I’ve been having quite a bit of since quitting the pill in April. It is quite effective in my experience so if you want to try it yourself, the recipe is very similar, minus a few ingredients that the smoothie calls for.

    The smoothie calls for a frozen banana, coconut/almond milk, ground turmeric, fresh ginger, ground cinnamon, black pepper, and ground nutmeg. It’s optional to add ground clove and cardamom and fresh carrot juice, but I didn’t have any of those. You can also top the smoothie off with hemp seeds, but I didn’t have those either.

    This is what I did have! (Not pictured is the almond milk)

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    I used one banana, although it wasn’t frozen so I added three ice cubes to the blender. Then I eye-balled the rest of the ingredients based on how much I like them. For example, I added about one dash of nutmeg because nutmeg is very strong so I don’t want it to overpower the drink. Conversely, I added three dashes of cinnamon because I love cinnamon. I was also a bit generous with the fresh ginger and black pepper because I love those ingredients!

    The recipe didn’t call for chia seeds but that’s what I had so I blended it in too!

    I made the smoothie again on Tuesday but this time I added fresh mango because I have a lot of it left to eat and I was hoping it would make the smoothie more golden. I feel like I ended up with a grey-ish, green smoothie though…

    It was delicious regardless though! I enjoy this recipe because it can be as sweet or as spicy as you want it, plus it’s a great way to start the day…probably better than Cheerios.

    Please let me know if you try the smoothie or the tea and what you think!

    xx Vic

  • Yummy Recipes

    Chickpea Sandwhich – Healthy Lunch On-The-Go

    This sandwich makes an excellent and satisfying vegan lunch! Plus, it takes only 20-30 min to prepare, and there is no cooking involved! I actually made it for the first time when I was on a time-crunch in the morning, and it was so easy to make. It’s essentially a vegan alternative to tuna sandwiches, which I love deeply but I don’t eat them anymore since my mom told me tuna has high mercury levels so I should refrain from eating it.

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    Aside from this being delicious and akin to a tuna sandwich, I also love it because there is no meat involved yet it is packed with protein! I haven’t been cooking meat lately because the last couple of times I did, most of it ended up in the trash. The meat was not as fresh as it was supposed to be. I have also been finding the preparation of meat severely unpleasant. I’ve since decided that I will primarily eat vegetarian when I am home and when I go out, I will consume meat if I want to. This has been a great solution thus far, but when I move back with my parents in a couple of weeks, I may consume more meat because my mom may prepare it for me. Otherwise, though, I’d like to eat more of a vegetarian diet when I’m responsible for my food.

    Chickpea Sunflower Sandwich Recipe – How I made it:

    I never follow recipes exactly, which may be why I have some mishaps sometimes. For the chickpea mixture though, I followed the recipe to a T except I used regular mayo instead of vegan mayo. This wasn’t due to anything other than being unsure where vegan mayo is in the grocery store and also pretty certain that it would be more expensive than if I just got a giant jar of regular mayo.

    Oh, I also squeezed some lemon and added garlic powder and basil to the mixture because it sounded like a good idea, and it was! So I guess I didn’t follow the recipe exactly…

    The second time I made the mixture is what is pictured above and I didn’t use lettuce because I didn’t have any at the time, but the first time I had kale so I used that in addition to tomatoes. I also didn’t add onions the second time I made it…if you like onions, add them! Otherwise, it’s not necessary. It’s delicious regardless!

    I’ve never made the garlic herb sauce they recommend to try, but I’d like to try it! There wasn’t any dill at the grocery store when I went though, hence why I added lemon and garlic to the mixture instead.

    Please let me know if you decide to try it let me know how it is!

    xx Vic

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