Herbaceous Babe is going to be a little less regular in the days to come as the author gets launched in her professional career. Keep checking back, because there's no telling when a new post will appear!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Linguine with Lemon-Garlic Cashew Cream

It had been one of those weeks. There was almost literally no real food left in the house. Crackers. Applesauce. And Asparagus. The first two don't really qualify as dinner, but who wants to eat nothing but an entire bundle of asparagus in one sitting? Not I. So after a long while of pondering and a short trip to the grocery store, I had a frozen burrito for dinner. That's what I get for not planning. I mean, I know that cashews don't have to soak nearly as long as some other nuts, but 2-4 hours (compared to 8-12 for almonds) is still too long to wait for dinner.

Fast-forward to tomorrow. Let's talk about the sauce. I drained my cashews, rinsed and drained again for good measure, then threw it into a blender with a bit of water (water prevents motor burn-out, but the nuts grind finer with less water). A bit of salt, a touch of pepper, some parsley and thyme, maybe some nutritional yeast, and of course lemon juice (or fresh-squeezed lemon and/or zest, if you wanna be fancy), then dilute to desired thickness. I minced and pan-fried the garlic in a bit of olive oil before throwing it in, but you could either add it to the sauce raw for more bite, or cook it with the veggies.

Get your water boiling for the pasta, then cut and sauté the veggies (I used asparagus and baby bellas, but you do you). At this point, the sauce (except for the garlic) is raw. I chose to heat mine a smidgen so the whole meal was warm and cozy, but you don't have to. As for plating/serving - I believe in you ;)

Don't want to guess at the proportions? Well.. I did (totally "wung it," in fact), but I'll try to estimate for you.

1 cup cashews
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or 1/2 lemon?)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
Salt & pepper to taste

16 oz linguine (dry)
1 bundle of asparagus
8 oz baby bella mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Tomato Pesto Sandwich, and Cheese Review

Y'all, I think I'm in love. Follow Your Heart provolone-style slices are not only vegan - they're soy free too! But it doesn't stop there. It tastes just like actual provolone (I can say this because, and don't shun me, I am not living 100% vegan at the moment). AND it melts just like provolone (which isn't very much, but it's something). I could eat it by the slice... if it cost less.

For my first trick, I made this lovely toasted tomato pesto and cheese sandwich.I may have also made a grilled cheese sandwich at some point, but I can't remember.

The label doesn't explicitly say nut-free on it, but I didn't see any nut ingredients on the list. Turns out their website has a friendly FAQ chart about allergens in their products, and HOORAY - no nuts! In fact, the VeganEgg is the only product with a nut warning, and they have a rigorous process to prevent cross-contamination, which is outlined in the chart.

To be honest, I wasn't that hot on their mozzarella. It looked like mozza, felt kinda like mozza, sliced kinda like mozza, and even tasted kinda like mozza. But it was just "kinda" enough to not be convincing. Plus it's soy-based. They do also have soy-free american, pepperjack, and gouda that I have not tried yet, as well as a soy-based cheddar. I may have to give it a shot, just so I can report back to you ;)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Rainbow Curry

Look, I did a thing! Seriously people, this is probably THE prettiest thing I have ever cooked. Unfortunately, my photography game was not the best that day, but in real life, it looks (and tastes) as vibrant as it sounds.

This was the first time cooking for a certain significant human in my life, who is (happily) vegan, so I was out to impress. The purple cauliflower was the perfect surprise, and aesthetically, I think it pulls the dish together in a way that white cauliflower will never do.

Thai cuisine is the human's favourite, so that was my original plan, but the ready-made curry sauce that caught my attention was of the Indian variety. Pretty sure it would have worked either way.

Okay, so this recipe I have to approximate, because this may or may not have been two months ago:

  • 1 head purple cauliflower
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 orange carrots
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 head bok choy
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 package of thai basil

With the heat on medium, cut all the veggies into bite-sized pieces (except the carrots, which I peeled into ribbons; the garlic, which was minced; and the basil, which was "chiffonaded") and throw it in the pan as each veggie is done. When the cauliflower looks about half-done, add two cans (25oz total) of curry sauce. Reduce to a simmer until the sauce is warm enough.

The human is a weird sort of vegan and is "indifferent" to quinoa (weirdo), and neither of us particularly like rice. So I made quinoa, but I was the only one who ate it. You don't really need it, but if you believe that all Asian dishes must be served with rice, quinoa can be marketed as a guiltless complete protein (it's not all that much protein per serving, but it's there).

Want to know more about the difference between Thai and Indian curries? Anthony at YoExpert can tell you all about it! Click here.

Some of the other veggies I've considered throwing into a curry are below, though I'm sure there are others that could be used:

  • Eggplant (get the little chinese variety, they're less bitter)
  • Green Beans
  • Potato
  • Broccoli

Friday, July 14, 2017

Chap Che(?) Asian-style noodles and stir-fry anyway....

I don't mean to brag, but this is probably one of the most delicious things I've ever made....

I used to live in this community where once a week, this group of Korean ladies would show up and make dinner for everybody. It was great (who doesn't love a night off?). One of their signature dishes was fried tofu and chap che. Now, that can mean a lot of different things, as many Asian countries have their own version (jap che in Japan), but for them, it meant zucchini, summer squash, and white onion. As I write this, I suddenly can't remember if they served it with rice or noodles. But no matter.

I rarely cook Asian cuisine (or eat it, for that matter), because I don't like rice. Even rice noodles are... meh. But I had some leftover mung bean vermicelli and was feeling nostalgic. But standing in the produce section of the grocery store, instead of grabbing a summer squash, I reached for a red bell pepper. I also don't remember the last time I cooked with white onion - it's usually yellow. To choose the right onion for the job, click here.

Boil water. Chop, chop, chop. Fry in olive oil. Salt and pepper. Loads of garlic. Might have used some chili powder. Give the noodles a little bath (3-5 min), drain well, then add to the skillet. Soy sauce or liquid aminos. Bowl. Chop sticks. Enjoy. 

Seriously y'all, I feel like everything I cook contains zucchini, bell pepper, and/or tomato. But sauces. If you can figure out sauces, that is where it's at. And if someone can unlock the difference between szechuan and teriyaki, I'd be eternally grateful (seriously, I'm useless at this stuff....).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Raw Tarragon Beet Ravioli & Roasted Asparagus

Sure, I've made beet ravioli before. But I hope that in four years I've maybe learned and improved a little bit... yes? Yes.

 This week's ravioli was entirely improvised. And it turned out better than I had dared to hope.

Soak 1 cup raw cashews overnight. 

Massage asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.

Drain cashews, then cover with fresh water. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or probiotic), 1 large garlic clove, 2-3 tbsp tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Wash and peel beets, then slice thinly. Spoon cashew cream between slices.

Yields 3-4 servings.

First of all, if you have a good kitchen knife (I have the 9-inch Cutco "french chef") and decent dexterity, I recommend hand-slicing the beets. My mandoline slicer cuts unevenly and much too thick for my tastes, even on the lowest setting. But please, do not lose a finger on my account.

The raw garlic in the cashew cream really brightens the overall flavour of the dish, but not in a pungent "garlicky" way. I had actually forgotten the tarragon the first time around, and let me tell you, it balances beautifully with the garlic. Don't be afraid to mess with the lemon juice and nutritional yeast quantities either; it takes a lot to overpower the taste of cashews. Honestly, I wish I had put some fresh lemon, or at least lemon pepper, on the asparagus to tie everything together.

This dish actually passed a peer review - a dear friend who does not mince words and has been a vegan for fifteen years! I did not put this to the "carnivore test" as I had no standard-diet people to feed it to. But I'm pretty confident that if your favourite carnivore doesn't completely abhor vegetables, they might actually enjoy this one. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pasta Primavera

Google "Pasta Primavera" and you're sure to get a million varieties. The good news is it's actually default vegan. Any pasta, any combination of vegetables, sauces and herbs optional. Easy. And so very tasty.

Honestly, I was going to make chap chae (name varies country-to-country), but I had the wrong kind of onion. But I had zuchinni. I had red bell pepper. I had olives. And I had campanelle pasta. Hmm - I'd say this is a win-win. (There's always time for Asian food later.) Toss in a bit of olive oil, and Voila!

Okay, so I may have made a ridiculous amount of food for just one person. But I'm pretty sure this is going to taste just as good cold tomorrow, which is perfect for a summer lunch.

I had wanted a special noodle for date night - spaghetti is too commonplace, and farfalle is a little tacky (ironically, the pasta of choice for my first date ever). But Campanelle (literally, bellflower) was absolutely perfect for the occasion - and surprisingly easy to get just right. I used the conventional pasta, but any old GF pasta could easily suffice. Or you could turn that zucchini into noodles and throw in an extra veggie for good measure.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Orthorexia and Recovery

Let me take a minute and dispel the myth that all eating disorders stem from a desire to be thinner.

Orthorexia nervorsa: an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food.

Exhibit A: When I was in high school, almost everything my family ate was organic. At 19, I became a vegetarian because the taste of meat no longer appealed to me. By 21, I had started exhibiting signs of dairy sensitivity, with flatulence being the primary symptom (much to my roommates' chagrin). In March 2012, my digestive tract underwent a full-system shutdown, making every meal a keel-over-and-die kind of experience. It was easier to list the things I could eat rather than what I couldn't. That was when I became a gluten-free vegan, and with the help of recipes like the ones on this blog and supplements from, I eventually regained the ability to eat starches and beans and acidic fruits first, then was able to get away with eggs, greek yogurt, and a little chicken or fish on occasion without any major reactions. Then by and by, I was able to return to a "normal" diet.

I was a gluten-free vegan for two and a half years. My diet was my daily prison, and salads became the bane of my existence - I have actually, literally stared at a restaurant menu and wept. There were times that even the "safe" foods would set me off. It has now been just over five years since the initial shut-down, and about two years since a meal has ended with traumatic consequences, but I still feel a bit wary when I eat sometimes.

BUT - things are finally coming full-circle! I have two amazing vegans in my life, and every time we eat together, I think about going back. I don't even like meat or eggs all that much, and dairy is really easy to replace.... Salmon. That's probably the only thing I'd miss. But I'm ready, y'all. And you get to join me once again on that journey. And this time, it's not a prison. It is an adventure in wellness.

And by the way, flexitarian is totally a thing, but a thing that requires personal discipline to maintain. It's really easy to go from "a vegan that occasionally eats animal products" to "a carnivore who sometimes eats fruit." Do what is right for your body, I'm never gonna tell you to eat a certain way just because I do. And also, being a vegan with a social life and a busy schedule is not easy. Give yourself a break sometimes - and don't sweat it.

Consume food; don't let it consume you.