Punchy Dill Flavored Stuffed Peppers (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Spring is coming.

Right?

I have a feeling that I’m not the only one yearning for some sunshine, mild temperatures, and sing –songy birds flying by our open windows.  I am truly a person who genuinely enjoys each and every season for what it brings.  Growing up in the desert, I didn’t have much exposure to real, honest to goodness season changes like I do here in the Pacific Northwest.   After nearly 5 years here, I still get excited for all the firsts of the seasons: each fresh burst of summer sun, each time I notice that the skyline has been taken over by the earthy, fiery colors of fall, every first winter morning when I realize I underestimated the cold and need to better bundle up against the frigid air, and for those first blossoms of spring.

with top on 2 - edited

I’ve loved the madness of this year’s winter, but am ready to shed some layers and see some color peeking out from the earth.  My fingers are crossed I’ll be able to enjoy this soon.

in pan close up 2 - edited

In the meantime, I’ll eat this dish.  Well, I already did eat this dish, but perhaps I shall do so again.  Something about dill (one of my favorite herbs) reminds me of spring.  It’s that punchy taste that sort of coats your palette and infiltrates all the senses that I love.  It tastes fresh and new and full of possibilities, just like spring does for me.

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Punchy Dill Flavored Stuffed Peppers (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Serves 4 with sauce and top - edited

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry brown rice
  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • ½ tblspn olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small-medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup packed spinach, chopped
  • 2 tblspns tomato paste
  • 1 tblspn red wine vinegar
  • 3 tblspns Italian parsley, minced
  • 3 tblspns fresh dill, minced
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a baking dish by coating with cooking spray or a light coating of oil.  Set aside.
  3. Slice the tops of the peppers off and clean out the insides, removing veins and seeds.  Place into a baking dish, cut side up and tops removed, and bake for 20 minutes.  If the peppers are uneven on the bottom and will not stand up in your baking dish, you can even them out, by trimming the bottom edges (though be careful not to cut holes in the bottom, as the filling will leak out).  After 20 minutes, remove from oven and set aside until filling is prepared.
  4. Meanwhile, warm a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  When hot, add onion, garlic, and carrot to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-6 minutes or until the onions turn translucent.
  5. Add zucchini and spinach to the pan and stir to combine.  Cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  6. Finally, add the cooked rice, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper to the vegetable mixture.  Stir well to incorporate all ingredients.  Taste and adjust for seasonings.
  7. Spoon filling into the each partially cooked pepper base until full.  Feel free to pack it in well – there should be plenty of filling!  Carefully sit the removed tops back on to the peppers, place back into the oven (still at 350 degrees) and bake for 20-25 more minutes.
  8. Serve alone, or if you prefer, drizzle an easy sauce over the top.  I served mine with a simple can of tomato sauce, sprinkled with oregano and pepper, warmed up on the stove top.

My Snowy Weekend In Pictures

I realize that there have been oh-so-many posts about the wacky winter weather we’ve all been having this year, but here’s one more for you, anyway.  I had to write it, as it includes my VERY FIRST SNOW DAY!  Exciting, right?

RIGHT?!

Totally.

As you may recall, I live in Portland, OR and I’m originally from Phoenix, AZ.  My geography has left my exposure to snowy conditions quite rare and I have never in my life had an official snow day.  On Thursday, however, the snow started to fall and I headed out of work a few hours early – knowing it was going to wreak havoc on my bus ride back across the Willamette River.  By Friday morning, the snow was starting to accumulate and it wasn’t letting up.  I was thankful to the powers that be whom opted to close down my office for the day, thus letting my snow day began!  Snowlandia continued throughout the weekend – culminating in thick, dense layers of ice which starting FALLING FROM THE SKY (or, you know, tree tops and buildings and such).

It’s all been very eventful.  Here’s a peek:

I’ve always wanted to make a snow angel and finally got my opportunity on Thursday evening!  My first one ever:

snow angel collage

On Friday (my official snow day from work) the weather compelled me to spend time in the kitchen.  I drank lots of coffee and baked this vegan, gluten free chocolate chip banana bread from The Healthy Maven, which was absolutely delicious:

Slice with mug - edited

I did some running on the treadmill throughout the weekend, because in all honesty, running in the snow was a bit confounding to me.  I know people do it, but how, exactly?  I found myself feeling cooped up, though, and headed out for a couple of walks over the course of the weekend.  It was gorgeous!

Snowlandia 2014 - collage

I stopped for a few snow selfies along the way (and, yes, this IS the first time I’ve actually used the term selfie in regards to any photos of myself – another first!):

Day 3 - Snow Selfie 4 - edited

How was your weekend?  Any snow-filled festivities come your way?

2013: A Look Back At Some of My Highlights

New Year’s Eve & Day are my favorite holidays.  I get a little sappy and a lot introspective around this time.  While I believe in regular reflection and goal setting throughout the year, I can’t help but find this to be an appropriate time to take stock of where I am, how I am doing, what I’ve done, and what is next.

santa ornament - editedThere was a time when this process was primarily a negative one for me.  I would stop to reflect on what I didn’t accomplish or what goals and dreams were out of my reach.  In recent years, however, I’ve taken to heart just how important it is to give equal billing to what I have done.  Rather then quickly glossing over accomplishments or milestones in order to continue moving upward and onward, I now recognize the value in celebrating the victories (large and small) that are behind me.  And, while some believe that you gain wisdom mostly by rehashing your mistakes and failures, I also see the learning that presents itself in evaluating what has gone well.

To this end, here are some of the highlights, milestones, and victories that took place for me in 2013:

  • 26.2 miles = Done! – The experience of running my first marathon have been shared in depth here and here, so I won’t say Me with medal 3 - editedmuch more other than that it stands as one of the single best days of my life.  I can’t wait for many more!
  • Goodbye, Gluten – Going gluten-free was not something that I ever intended to do.  It was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult for me, but 7 months later, my vastly improved health stands as evidence that it was what I absolutely needed to do.
  • 1500 miles – It took me nearly right up until the end of the year to do so, but as of last weekend, I have run over 1500 miles for the year.  So cool.
  • 71 books – I love to read and always have.  For me, books are a never-ending source of education, escapism, and inspiration all in one.  I track my literary adventures over at Goodreads.  If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been reading, please head over and say hello (username: srrose).
  • Facing down an old fear . . .  The dentist! – I’ll admit that, prior to 2013, it had been quite some time since I’d dragged myself to the dreaded chair.  It is an experience that long struck fear in my heart.  Having little or poor dental insurance for a long time had supported me in running away from this fear, but I finally did it.  After several trips to get all caught up, my teeth are happy and healthy!
  • Cultivating creative confidence – This year saw me take some big strides in levels of self-confidence related to creativity and pasta with italian peppers - editedcooking.  I can’t say that I produced the largest quantity of creatively driven output this year, but I found myself trusting my instincts more, feeling stronger in my skills, and being open to experimentation.
  • Keeping THIS going – I know that I’ve had periods recently of reduced posting, but I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to keep this site going.  I love it.  I love the process of it and that I get to connect with so many incredible people around the world because of it.

I’m certain that I could go on a bit longer, but I will end my list on that note.  So, thank you to every person out there who has been a part of all of this with me in 2013.  I’m looking forward to seeing what next year will bring.

Happy New Year!

May I Have Your Vote?

This past Saturday, I participated for the second time in the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Annie at An Unrefined Vegan was once our host and organizer and did an amazing job at it!  It truly is a fun and exciting feeling to be connected to so many bloggers from so many different places.  Plus, my meal-making inspiration is now overflowing with ideas from all the other delicious looking dishes that were shared!

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

Now, I don’t do much self-promotion, but I am here today to ask you for your vote.  You see, for the potluck, I made and virtually brought this Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze.  Remember it?  I’ve been wishing I had some more of it myself!  While it may be long gone (for now), it is time to honor those potluckers who made everyone’s favorite dishes.  If you liked my cake, you can vote for me here under the desserts category.  If you are also inclined, head on over to the Virtual Vegan Potluck’s featured ingredient page and re-pin my cake.  The dish featuring the secret ingredient with the most re-pins is also a winner.

Thank you for your vote (or for just reading this far) and for joining me in another blogging adventure!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple-Caramel Glaze

One of my favorite things to do these days is to spend an afternoon home alone baking, feed the finished product to Mr. Move Eat Create when he returns, and then ask, “Do you know what was in that???”

Whole on cake stand from above - edited

Of course, I know that its unlikely he’ll guess correctly, but I wait and anticipate his answer.  Then, I excitedly share what the secret ingredient actually was, basking in my sneakiness and healthy baking subterfuge.

I first discovered the odd fun of this little game when I made zucchini brownies.  I reached new levels of enjoyment with it after sharing my batch of Chocolate Covered Katie’s black bean brownies, and totally had a blast with it after making this creation here.

Close Up - glaze and sliced into - edited

This cake was a perfect opportunity for me to:  a) practice my gluten free baking skills, b) use nutritious ingredients (like vegetables) to make something traditionally lacking in health promoting properties, and c) eat chocolate.

As an added bonus, I was already in the process of fine-tuning this recipe when the Virtual Vegan Potluck sign-up and announcement came out, indicating they’d be featuring a key ingredient this time around and that the key ingredient was beets!

Perfect!  I had clearly earned some good food blogging karma somewhere.

slice on plate - edited

For this final version I added a maple-caramel frosting which was so good that I may have scooped up and eaten much of the excess drizzle with my fingertips.  And it may have made me so happy and weak in the knees that I had to sit down.

If all that extra sweet drizzle isn’t you’re thing, I also made a version that was topped with a simple dusting of vegan powdered sugar.  It, too, was wonderful.

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Double Chocolate Beet Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Glaze

Makes one bundt cake

A Move Eat Create original recipe

(but inspired by various recipes throughout the Internet)
                                                      Sliced into on cake stand - edited

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 medium beets, diced
  • 2 ¼ cups gluten free all purpose flour (I like Pure Pantry for baking)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup ground flax seed
  • 1 ½ tspn baking powder
  • ½ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup vanilla (or plain) coconut milk
  • 1 tblspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 small very ripe mashed bananas
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

For the glaze:

  • ½ cup vegan brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance
  • 2 tblspns coconut milk
  • ½ tspn vanilla extract
  • ½ tspn maple extract (optional: If you don’t want the maple flavor, sub additional vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup vegan powdered sugar

Directions:

To make the cake:

  1. Place diced beets in a pot and fill with enough water to cover by an extra inch or two.  Bring to a boil.  Let beets boil for approximately 7-8 minutes to soften.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or oil your bundt pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients.  Place flour, cocoa powder, flax seed, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.
  4. Place boiled, drained beets in a food processor or good blender.  Add coconut milk and apple cider vinegar.  Puree until smooth.
  5. Pour beet mixture into a medium bowl.  Stir in vanilla extract, turbinado sugar, and mashed bananas.  Mix well to combine.
  6. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in.  Mix well by hand to combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Pour in your chocolate chips and stir a couple more times to distribute them throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

To make the frosting:

  1. Melt brown sugar, Earth Balance, and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk/stir frequently during this process.  Once they melt, the mixture should turn a nice shade of brown.  This should only take 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and maple extract.  Let sit to cool for a few minutes.
  2. After the sauce has cooled for about 5 minutes, stir in the powdered sugar.  This will thicken the sauce, making it a more substantial frosting/glaze.  Stir/whisk well until all powdered sugar has been incorporated into the sauce.  Let cool completely before drizzling over cake.

And now, please check out other dishes in the potluck!

To visit the dish presented before mine click this link:  go_bck-300x257

To visit the dish next in the line up click through here:  go_forward-300x243

 

** I am also submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Friday, hosted over at The Veggie Nook.  A wonderful weekly gathering of delicious vegan recipes!

Recipe: Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash

I can’t believe that it’s the middle of November and I haven’t waxed poetic about fall yet.  I haven’t even extolled the beauty of Portland this time of year or praised the glorious weather we’ve been having, because we absolutely have been having the most glorious season.

Filled Squash Half on plate with broccolini

We’re known for our rain and gray skies, of course, but they’ve been few and far between the last couple of months.  It’s been perfect.  Perfect for running and strolling.  Perfect for sightseeing and adventuring.  Perfect for autumnal baking and for hard apple ciders enjoyed while firing up the oven for a good meal.

As cheesy as it may sound, I frequently find myself being struck by the beauty of the nature that lies right outside my door.  Very often these last few weeks, I have been out on a seemingly ordinary run only to turn a street corner or look up from making sure I don’t trip over fallen branches and I have felt taken aback by just how gorgeous it all is.  And, let me tell you, there’s nothing like a breathtaking view to rejuvenate tired legs.

Whole Squash

I know that it’s common for many people to think of spring as a season of rejuvenation and hope, but I think differently.  For me, it’s that magical time between mid-September and December, when cooler temperatures refresh me and warm foods nourish me.  It is this time of year when I feel the most in touch with my own sense of optimism, accomplishment, hope, and gratitude.  I hope this dish conveys even a bit of that to you.

Stuffed squash recipes abound, but what makes this one a bit different for me is its straightforward savory nature.  Rather than playing up the sweetness of the squash with fruit or similar ingredients, I’ve countered it with a bit of spice and bundles of warm, comforting flavors.  It is a meal best enjoyed with a view of the leaves and the laughter of others.  A crackling fire and a bottle of wine wouldn’t hurt, either.

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Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash Filled Squash Halves

Serves 4

A Move Eat Create Original Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 cup uncooked brown wild rice mix
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tblspn olive oil + extra for brushing squash
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 1 medium leek, white part only, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup diced parsnips (or other root vegetable)
  • ½ tspn each salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
  • 1 tspn each dried oregano and basil
  • Cayenne pepper (optional for those that like a little bit of heat)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place squash (cut side down) on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray or oil and bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Place rice in a small pot with the water.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and continue cooking, covered and undisturbed, for approximately 30 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  When water is absorbed, turn off heat and let rice sit for 10-15 minutes before uncovering and fluffing with a fork.
  3. Warm ½ tblspn olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onion and leek.  Saute for 5-7 minutes, until they are translucent.
  4. Add garlic, bell peppers, parsnips, herbs, and spices to the pan.  Stir well and continue to cook for 5-7 minutes, until all vegetables have softened.
  5. Turn off heat.  Stir cooked rice into the vegetable mixture and toss to combine well.  Taste for seasoning.
  6. After the squash halves have cooked for 30 minutes, flip them over on the baking sheet.  Brush the flesh lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, if using.  Spoon prepared rice and vegetable filling into the squash generously.  Return filled squash to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Non-GMO Goodies Courtesy of Bestowed

When the kind folks at Bestowed contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their snack boxes, I initially put up a mild protest.  With my food intolerances, I have stopped receiving any such subscription boxes because I just don’t know what I’ll be able to enjoy.  Understanding my limitations, Bestowed’s team assured me I could enjoy and review the items that were safe for me and gift the other items.  Plus, October (the box of the month they sent me) was non-GMO month, which meant all products included were non-GMO verified.  Since I am a sucker for non-GMO products, I was in!

Provided box photo

And I really am, you know.  A sucker for non-GMO products, I mean.  The issue of genetically modified organisms, and most importantly, of clear and accurate labeling and identification of GMO products is one I care a great deal about.  I personally do my best to avoid GMO items, but beyond that I strongly believe that consumers should be able to identify GMOs and make those informed decisions for themselves.  So taking the opportunity to learn more about and support companies in alignment with these values seemed like the right thing to do.

As you likely have gathered by now, Bestowed is a subscription snack box service that delivers packages directly to your door each month.  One thing that makes Bestowed unique from other similar services is that the company was founded by a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, Heather Bauer.  Heather draws upon her knowledge and passion for nutrition to guide the selection of Bestowed’s featured products.

Provided item photo

Let’s take a look at what I received in my non-GMO Bestowed box:

  1. UNREAL Peanut Butter Cups – I gifted these to Mr. Move Eat Create since they did contain quite a bit of dairy and I’m trying my best to live dairy-free these days.  He thought they were delicious (and he is somewhat of a peanut butter cup aficionado).  I love the concept that the UNREAL company is working with – recreations of classic candy made with natural ingredients.  It’s certainly something I can get behind.
  2. Enjoy Life Seed & Fruit Mix – Yum!!  I am a huge fan of Enjoy Life products.  This brand is made for people like me (people with food intolerances) and is always satisfying.  This mix was a terrifically healthy snack by a brand I already trusted.  Score!
  3. FiberLove Cinnamon Raisin Bar (Gnu Foods) – I’ve got to admit this made me a little sad.  I actually used to eat these bars all the time in my pre-gluten free days and it made me nostalgic.  Needless to say, it was gifted.  However, I can attest from good, recent memory that these bars are delicious, satisfying, and make for a great afternoon bite on the go.
  4. The Good Bean Smoky Chili & Lime Chickpea Snacks – Eh.  I don’t understand the thrill of roasted chickpeas.  If you like this sort of thing, they’re great – they’re just not my favorite.
  5. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Powder – Fantastic.  Love it.  Hemp powder is amazing.
  6. Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate Macaroon Granola – Sigh.  Something else I used to love, but sadly this granola is not gluten-free.  If you can eat gluten, I do highly recommend Nature’s Path Love Crunch products.  They’re excellent on their own, in yogurt, soy or almond milk, et cetera.  It’s good stuff.
  7. Ultima Replenisher – Always an excellent choice for a runner, such as myself.  Makes a great drink on a long run kind of day.
  8. Way Better Snacks Black Bean Tortilla Chips – These got me very excited.  I recently discovered Way Better Snacks and am a big fan.  These come as close to clean eating as you can get in a chip and I really love these when I’m craving something salty.  Delicious and packed with super foods.
  9. Bonuses: A recipe and a Women’s Health Magazine voucher.

Overall, I was impressed by the contents of the Bestowed box.  There was a variety of quality products and I loved that the box came with a printed booklet that included information about each of the items and the companies featured.  I also appreciate that most of the items are available for individual purchase through the Bestowed website in case you love something that you can’t find available locally.  For me personally, solely because of my food restrictions, it wouldn’t be a good idea to invest in a monthly service.  I feel it might be a bit risky and am afraid I wouldn’t get to enjoy all of the items.  If I didn’t have those restrictions, however, I would most definitely consider joining up with Bestowed on a regular basis.

Of course, when I do a review of a product or service I support, I want to be sure that you all can benefit, too.  So, if you are interested in trying out Bestowed for yourself, you can do so with a discount of 50% off your first box!  To order your own shipment, visit Bestowed here and enter coupon code HELLOTEN103 (offer valid only until 11/20).  Happy snacking!