StrangeBut Good: Curry Sweet Potato Burger

Sometimes you just need a good burger.

 

I’m not one to deny myself.

The craving has hit me hard toward the end of this prep.  The beef is easy – most grocers sell some form of “super lean” grass-fed ground beef (my veggie friends could use a bean burger or tempeh here).

curry sweet potato burger

 

The bun is a bit harder to replicate… until I remembered my eggplant chips!  They are delicious alone, but they also make for a perfect burger vehicle.

For my eggplant bun I cut the slices a bit thicker so that they were hearty enough to stand up to a festive fall spread.  Festive in color… perhaps a little nontraditional flavor-wise.  Some might call it strange, but I call it good.

Curry Sweet Potato Burger bite

During my meal prep each week, I bake a few sweet potatoes.  I mashed up part of one with nutritional yeast, curry powder, and smoked paprika to make a pleasantly sweet, Indian-spiced cheesy spread.

Craving = satisfied.

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Curry Sweet Potato Burger

Curry Sweet Potato Burger

  • Burger patty (or protein of your choosing)
  • Eggplant chips
  • 1/4 C sweet potato, mashed
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • Smoked paprika, to taste

 

Prepare burger and chips.

Meanwhile, prepare your sweet potato spread by mixing sweet potato, nutritional yeast, spices, and lime in a small bowl.  You may need to add water depending on the moisture content of your sweet potato.

Construct your burger and enjoy!

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


***

I eat a TON of orange food.  How my palms are glowing in the dark yet it beyond me!

What was the best costume you saw this Halloween? 

Are you a curry fan?  Have you ever used it with sweet potato?

 

A 50 K, a 50 mile, and Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Wise, insightful posts are so inspiring.

 

I so admire people who can write them.

Kat wrote one such post today in her bi-weekly guest spot below.  I am forever grateful to her for bringing a mature different voice to this blog.

It make me feel less guilty for sharing crap interesting tidbits like this:

hello kitty beer

 

Hello Kitty beer.  It’s a real thing in China.  Apparently it comes in lime and peach flavors… and there are 4 more coming.  Like banana.  *gag*

Rather than making about a million inappropriate jokes, I going to stop and let Kat take over.  Her Vegan Eggplant Parm recipe certainly tastes better than Hello Kitty fruity beer.

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A 50 K, a 50 mile, and Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

 

The rest of my West Coast Trip ROCKED! I finished 3rd in my age group at the Mount Tam 50K, and it was such a beautiful race!  However, I wore the wrong shoes, and my feet ACHED!  I wore the Saucony Kinvara trail shoes (which I love, but only for about 15-18 miles or so).  I got new shoes as soon as I got home (to wear in my 50 miler last Sunday).

Mount Tam 50k

Mount Tam 50k

 

Then I went zip lining through the redwoods!  I highly recommend this!  (Editor’s note: I’ll pass on the 50K but sign me up for this!!!)

I learned so much about the trees and how adaptive they are.  They really are super cool, and the zip lining is a blast, too.

Zip lining redwoods

 

After 10 days, getting back to “normal,” has been a slow process, at best, but I’m so happy to be home with all of my babies – the three kitties and the three puppies!  (Editor’s note: I always feel that way too – even after the most amazing of trips.)

I also was super excited to run the Yeti Snakebite 50/50 on Sunday, September 1.  So many of my friends were there to either run 50K or 50 miles, and it was awesome to see all the friendly faces.  Unfortunately, it was a much harder race and hotter day than most anticipated, so tons of people were unable to complete the race (and I was super slow). However, I finished the 50 miler, a little over 12 hours after I started.

Snakebite 50/50

 

Krista gave up her whole day to crew for me. She showed up at every aid station to bring me things I needed and wanted and to help me though.  I am humbled and grateful to have people in my life who care about me and are willing to support me in my (crazy) endeavors.

 

My new Innov8 Trail Roc shoes also ROCKED! I was a little nervous, having only run in them once (for about 6 miles), to wear them in such a long race, but I highly recommend them.  They are lightweight, but have a beastly cleat (Editor’s note: Best description ever) on the bottom to help you on the trails, while not hurting your feet for short spurts on pavement.

The Race itself was extremely difficult, and when it rained (POURED) on us, it was slippery and dangerous.  EEK! I also got off-trail for a bit, which reminded me to just smile through it and eventually cross the finish line!  The volunteers were amazing, and kept us going even when super frustrated.

Do What You Fear

 

It helps to step back after a race like that and ask yourself, “Why?” Why do we do this? Why do we intentionally do things that we know will hurt, that will push us to our physical and mental limits?”

I keep coming back to the answer that it shows me that I can push through the most difficult feelings, and survive when I want to quit.  Applying this lesson to life, I keep wanting to also show myself I can do it with a smile.  (Editor’s note: That, and you’re a little crazy.  Which is why we get along. ;) )

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Cold Life

At my house, we recently started getting fruit and vegetable delivery, once a week, from Cold Life Organics. They have several options for boxes, and you can add on to any box, skip a shipment, or change which box you need or want.  It’s only $40 for one week for two people!  It’s been awesome, and with the variety they bring, it encourages me to try new things and think outside the box. ;) (Yes, that was a cheesy pun. You’re welcome!)

Last week we got eggplant.  I wanted to have friends over, rather than going out and spending more money, so I decided to get creative for my vegan friend, Ann.  I ended up doing a play on Eggplant Parmesan, sans the Parmesan… and it was SO GOOD!  (Editor’s note: Holla at this friend!!!)

Vegan Eggplant Parm prep

It was super crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside, and perfectly delicious. Using the pecan meal with the nutritional yeast gave it the perfect amount of nuttiness that we didn’t get from the real Parmesan, and the garlic gave it an awesome little kick with some sweetness.  And I would not do this without the fresh basil!  Try this recipe!

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Vegan Eggplant Parm

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 Medium eggplant
  • 1/2 T org. buckwheat flour
  • 1 T almond meal
  • 2 T pecan meal
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • Big pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Large fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Plenty of coconut oil
  • 16 oz jar of tomato sauce, or homemade tomato sauce (I made my own)

 

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

Mix your buckwheat, almond and pecan meal, parsley, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and fresh basil in a bowl with a fork.  In another bowl, pour some melted coconut oil.

Cut eggplant into ¼ – ½ inch rounds.  First dip them in the dry mixture, then into the coconut oil, then back into the dry mixture.  Make sure it gets a good coating on there.  Repeat with the whole eggplant.

Place on baking sheet lined with foil and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy on top (I had to broil mine an extra 2-3 minutes after).

Let some of the oil drip onto a towel/paper towel and let cool for about 3-5 minutes. Then serve with sauce!

Makes 3-4 servings.

***

I think Kat nailed it this week with a #strangebutgood recipe!  And I am adding this to the list of things to beg her to make me…

What do you do for self-improvement?  How do your workouts help?  It clears my mind and helps me remain more focused on goals!

Do you have organic veggie delivery!?  Would you look into it?

 

Babaganoush Soup

Happy National Soup Month!

 

I’d really like to know who comes up with the stuff.  I’m going to declare next month National Wine Month.  I kid… I’m eating cleaner.. less wine, more water.  Unless I figure out how to turn it into wine… hmmm…

 

Did you know that the first soup can be dated back to ~6,000 BC and was made of hippopotamus?

 

 

As much fun as it is to say, I can’t imagine hippopotamus being fun to eat.  Seems like it would be chewy.

 

No hippos were harmed in the making to this Babaganoush Soup.  In fact, it’s vegan.

The nutty tahini in this make it reminiscent of a hummus or chickpea soup.  But it’s better – the flavors from the roasted red pepper and onion take this soup to a whole new level.

 

 

You will taste it before blending and think it’s too strong.  Blend it before adjusting… the purred veggies do balance it out.

Then you’ll think it’s missing something but you won’t know what… but you’ll ladle the soup and squeeze the lemon juice in it and realize this soup has reached perfection.

 

 

Don’t be scared of the fats from the tahini – sesame seeds are good fats!  They are a great source of copper, manganese, and calcium.  And – at the risk of sounding like a grandma9g of fiber in a bowl is pretty awesome.  Two of sesame’s more unique properties - sesamin and sesamolin - are special fibers called lignans, that can lower cholesterol and prevent blood pressure.

Creamy and satisfying, this one left me licking the bowl.

 

 

Save some leftovers – most soups taste even better on day two after the flavors have a chance to meld and this soup is no exception!

Recipe inspired by this one from Cara @ Cara’s Cravings.

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Babaganoush Soup

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 San Marzano tomatoes (or 1 large regular tomato)
  •  1 1/2 C vegetable stock
  • 1 C water
  • 2 tsp ras al hanout*
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Lemon
  • S+P, to taste
  • Optional Garnish: red pepper flakes, cilantro

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut eggplant into 1/3 in slices and lay on foil-lined baking sheet (spray with cooking spray if not anti-stick foil).  Salt generously and allow to rest 10-20 mins. (this draw out moisture and helps to remove bitterness).  When done, wipe away moisture with paper towel.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, add red pepper and onion slices to sheet, and roast for 25 mins.

Let cool and rub off any blackened pepper skin.  Rough chop peppers and eggplant.

Heat oil over medium high heat then add garlic. Saute for ~1 minute until just beginning to turn golden.

Add the stock, tomatoes, eggplant, red pepper, and onion. Stir in ras al hanout. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for ~10 mins allowing the flavors to combine.  Remove from heat and add tahini.

Using an immersion blender (or regular blender), puree until smooth.

Ladle into bowls and finish with fresh lemon juice, cilantro, and freshly ground pepper.

Makes 6 cups (3 mains or 6 sides).

Approximate Nutritionals (for main dish serving): 211 calories, 12.6g fat, 1.7g saturated fat, 22.3g carbohydrates, 9.1g fiber, 8.5g sugar, 6.4g protein.

*Ras al Hanout is a spice blend I had not heard of until reading Cara’s blog.  I made her blend with a few modifications.  It’s also delicious with sautéed spinach and onions!

Ras al Hanout

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeic
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

***

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” is now stuck in my head.  Ugh.

What kind of soup are eating for National Soup Month?

 Do you make your own spice blends? Do share!

 

Eggplant Rollatini, Vegan-Style

That fact that I got back from Italy 2 weeks ago and still I cannot get enough Italian food is further proof that I was meant to be Italian.  

 

 

And that I should move there immediately.  Does anyone want to sponsor me?!

I’m not kidding.

 

Italians love eggplant, or melanzana.  It was one of the few readily available veggies on restaurant menus.  We learned the word melanzana quickly!

 

Source: agricultureguide.org

 

Remembering the delicious eggplant meal I had in Friuli, I decided to make a vegan Eggplant Rollatini this week.

 

 

Eggplant is at its prime in September/October, so get yours in ASAP!  To choose a good one, look for the following:

  • Firm and heavy
  • Smooth and glossy, free of blemishes
  • Stem and cap should be bright green
  • Press the skin – if it springs back quickly, it’s ripe

 

 

It’s an under-appreciated vegetable nutritionally speaking.  These pear-shaped, purple pieces of perfection are good sources of:

  • Fiber (you know you need it!)
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Thiamin (B-1)
  • Nasunin (antioxidant)

 

 

For this recipe I used this Tofu Ricotta from my Vegan Ricotta Pasta Bake in place of dairy ricotta.  My only modifications were to add an extra garlic clove, a tsp of red pepper flakes, and I used fresh parsley instead of thyme.

I swear to you Vegan Ricotta is good.  Try it – I dare you.

 

 

As easy as it is to make your own tomato sauce… I have to admit I started with a jarred base.  When I’m feeling especially lazy I add a jar to a warm pot as “doctor” it.  This usually means the additions of herbs (oregano and basil), red pepper flakes (never enough heat!), freshly ground pepper, garlic, and onions.  This time I also added capers for a little salty tang.

 

 

I was thrilled with how this riff on my Friulian meal came out.  The creamy “ricotta” was the perfect texture.  I loved how the lemon flavors from the ricotta came through and complimented the capers in my sauce.  Don’t skip the grilled eggplant.  It’s just as easy as baking and it helps prevent sogginess.

As with many saucy Italian dishes, it was even better the second day as leftovers.  Nom.

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Eggplant Rollatini (Vegan)

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into ~1/3 in slices
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4-5 large kale leaves, lightly sautéed
  • Tofu ricotta
  • Your favorite tomato sauce

 

Preheat oven to 375. 

Arrange eggplant slices onto wax paper.  Sprinkle with sea salt and allow to sit for ~15 mis to help remove excess moisture and bitterness.  Wipe salt off eggplant and pat dry with a towel.

Spray grill pan with vegetable spray and place eggplant slices in pan over medium-high.  Cook ~3 mins per side, until slightly softened and browned.  Remove slices from the grill pan and allow to cool.

Once cooled, line the eggplant slices with the kale and place 2-3T of ricotta on 1 end of each eggplant slice.  Roll up tightly.  Place the roll seam side down into a 8 by 8-inch pyrex dish.  Cover the rollatini with your favorite tomato sauce.  

Bake uncovered 15-20 mins, or until bubbling hot. Drizzle with good-quality extra-virgin olive oil and serve!

***

It’s 40 degrees this morning!  How did I go from getting sunburned Sunday to getting seeing frost today?!

What is your favorite veggie-tized comfort food?

Did the temps drop in your town… and are you ready for it?  I’m not!