Nutritious Camp Meals (& a Trip to Pacific City, OR!)

Cape Kiwanda, OR | scottileona.com

Hello!  How is summer treating you so far?  I hope well!  It has been unusually hot here in Portland and it seems that everyone is melting.  I love the heat but it leaves me feeling super lethargic and lazy so by the time I get home from work, I don’t feel like turning on the stove and cooking.  I see many salads in my future 🙂

Last weekend, Nick and I went camping in Pacific City, OR.  We camped at a Tillamook County campground called Whalen Island.  It was a cute little, family friendly campground surrounded by an estuary that remains fairly shallow even at higher tide.  The campground is located near great places to go crabbing and fishing, bird watch, hike, and kayak.  We went out there to explore Cape Kiwanda and escape the heat of the city for a few days.

Camping at Whalen Island, OR | scottileona.com

On Saturday, we spent the day at Cape Kiwanda and all I can say is, wow.  That place is seriously beautiful.  I loved all the nooks and crannies where the ocean rushed through the rocks and made dramatic splashes that literally made us cheer.  The rock formations were intricate and gorgeously colored with various shades of tans, browns and reds.  We hiked all over the rocks and enjoyed some snacks while watching boats drive around Haystack Rock.  Reymie also really enjoyed her time running up and down the large sand dunes 🙂

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Cape Kiwanda, OR | scottileona.com

Cape Kiwanda, OR | scottileona.com

Cape Kiwanda, OR | scottileona.com

I wanted to keep this trip as low budget and healthy as possible, so I prepped and packed our meals for the weekend.  Because we were in a regular campground (not one we hiked in to), we had our car nearby the entire time and were able to pack an ice chest.  We also have a great picnic basket with all the necessary dishes, a tablecloth, and a great side pocket for wine that makes it really easy to have fabulous outdoor meals.  Here is what we made and links to some of the recipes:

Saturday breakfast:

Flourless Almond Butter Banana Muffins | scottileona.com

Saturday lunch:

  • Tuna salad on rosemary bread (from Trader Joe’s) with avocado and spinach

Saturday dinner (my fave!):

Vegan Cream of Celery Soup | scottileona.com

Snacks:

  • Pita crackers, cheese, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, almonds and cashews, and of course, wine 🙂

To keep things simple at the campsite, I chopped the strawberries and cucumbers for the salad and prepped the dressing in a separate container at home.  The tuna salad, muffins, hard boiled eggs and the soup was also made beforehand.  With a little prep work at home, it is totally possible to get outside, explore, and still eat well and save some moo-la.

We drove home Sunday morning and opted for a drive-through coffee stand breakfast.  We were hoping to find a cute diner in one of the small coastal towns, but we quickly realized just how spoiled Portland has made us in our expectations for fantastic brunch options on a Sunday morning!

I hope you are gearing up for a safe and healthy 4th of July ❤

Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup

Springtime in Portland

Spring is in full swing, which means the flowers are blooming and filling the city with bright colors!  It also means the weather is wildly unpredictable and the sun is a huge tease.  Yesterday the weather alternated between sunshine and clear skies to hail.  It’s also still cold enough in the evenings that hail remained on the ground in our yard when I left for work this morning!

I have continued to keep the majority of my workouts indoors because of the continued chill.  I am still loving the 21 Day Fix Extreme program and have been mixing in a little more Brazil Butt Lift since, hey it’s almost summer 🙂  Additionally, I have slowly started to integrate running into my weekly routine again.  After the Portland Marathon, I took a long vacation from running but I have started to miss it!  I am still debating whether I want to race this year and which races I will do, but getting back out there in the early mornings is such a nice way to wake up and prepare for a hectic work day.  However, without a race deadline looming over me, if I wake up and hear rain I am definitely not putting on my running shoes.  It’s fair weather running for now.

Despite the continued wetness of the Northwest, our seasonal produce is evolving and we are getting closer to my favorite season for eating: Summer!  Right now, asparagus is in season and we have been getting plenty in our Organics to You delivery boxes.  Asparagus is a great anti-inflammatory food and also contains a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Beta-carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Selenium

Asparagus is also great for digestive support because it contains inulin, fiber and protein.  Lastly, asparagus contains B vitamins which are beneficial for blood sugar management.  So, eat up those green spears even if they do make your pee smell weird 😉

The chilly Spring evenings are keeping soup in style, so I whipped up this asparagus soup using potatoes and coconut milk to make it nice and creamy.  Topped with a little hemp oil for an Omega-3 and 6 boost and served with a salad or a fancy grilled cheese, this soup will keep you cozy and healthy 🙂  This recipe makes a large batch of soup.  We had enough for dinner for 2, plus at least three additional lunches to bring to work that week.

Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup | scottileona.com

Vegan Cream of Asparagus Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ~2 pounds of asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces with stem ends trimmed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Method:

  1. In a large pot, cook onion, celery and garlic in coconut oil until onion is translucent
  2. Add the potatoes, asparagus, vegetable stock, thyme, salt and pepper.  Simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are just tender.
  3. Transfer the soup to a blender (you may need to do this in two batches).  Blend until smooth.
  4. Return to the pot and stir in the coconut milk.
  5. Serve with a drizzle of hemp oil and coconut milk.

Enjoy!

Vegan Jackfruit “Pulled Pork” and Baked Rutabaga Fries

Howdy!  We have been so spoiled with sunshine-y early Spring days here in Portland and it has been hard to sit at a computer and write a blog post!  I don’t know what I would do if I was still in school 🙂  Nick and I have also dived head first in to hunting for our first home and that has been incredibly time consuming!  Despite its ups and downs so far, I think it has been interesting for both of us to take stock of what is important to us (location, bedroom sizes, yard size, amount of work the house needs, etc) and where we are willing to be flexible.  More to come on that in the near future!

The other night, we tried out a vegan “pulled pork” recipe I have seen floating around the internet and paired it with baked rutabaga fries.  I was prompted to try it after stopping by our local Asian Supermarket, where I found young Jackfruit in a can.  Jackfruit is a native fruit to parts of South and Southeast Asia and is related to the Mulberry family.  It is low in calories and rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • And the seeds are high in protein

You can purchase Jackfruit whole or in cans – I have seen canned versions that are ripe in syrup or young in brine.  For this recipe, make sure you grab the canned version of young Jackfruit in brine.

Now on to rutabaga!  It’s not the prettiest vegetable, but this root is nutritious just the same.  It is also low in calories per serving and provides:

  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Fiber
  • Thiamin
  • Vitamin B6

When roasted, a rutabaga has a texture similar to a roasted potato, making it a great alternative/option for healthier French fries!  Throw a chopped rutabaga in the oven while you prepare your pulled Jackfruit or other burger, and you won’t have to put too much thought into your side dish.

Since becoming pescaterian several years ago I have not craved meat, although I have heard of many people who do crave it.  I have never really been a fan of the texture of meat so I think that is why I don’t miss it.  However, if you are one of those people that miss the texture, OR you are cooking in a combo vegetarian/meat eating household like we are, OR you just want to find more fun ways to incorporate plant based meals into your dinner rotation, this is the next recipe for you to try out!

As I mentioned above, there are several versions of this recipe featured on fabulous blogs, but I used this one from the seriously beautiful blog Blissful Basil.

We served the pulled jackfruit on cabbage with grated carrot and avocado and a side of rutabaga fries.  A super veggie-filled, gluten free plate that tasted like good ‘ol diner food!

Vegan “Pulled Pork” Recipe

Serves 3-4

Adapted from the Blissful Basil

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 can of green, young Jackfruit in water or brine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (we used Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce – a recent favorite find!!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Buns, cabbage, romaine – whatever carrier you would like to transport the goods to your mouth!

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic on a skillet over medium heat with olive oil until tender (about 5-7 minutes)
  3. Drain and rinse the Jackfruit in a strainer.  Cut the harder, triangular tip from the Jackfruit pieces and discard the core.
  4. Mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and brown sugar in a bowl.  Toss in the Jackfruit flesh and coat the pieces well.
  5. Add the seasoned Jackfruit to the skillet and saute for 5 minutes.
  6. Whisk the water and BBQ sauce together and add to the skillet.  Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  7. Remove the lid and use two forks to shred the Jackfruit a bit.  Let it continue to simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until the BBQ sauce is reduced.
  8. Spread the Jackfruit on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and stick in the oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy on cabbage (or buns) with toppings of choice.  We used grated carrots and avocado.  The Blissful Basil recommends pickled red onion, which sounds amazing!

Rutabaga Fries Recipe

Serves 3 (depending on side of rutabaga)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large rutabaga
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F (if roasting at the same time as the pulled Jackfruit, it’s fine to cook at 350*F, they will just take longer so put the fries in first)
  2. Peel and chop the rutabaga into long rectangles (or whatever shape you like your heart desires)
  3. Toss on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper.  These are also great seasoned with rosemary, thyme, or add some spice with cayenne or smoked paprika!
  4. Bake until lightly browned and crispy – about 30-45 minutes depending on oven temperature.

Ground Mushroom Tacos

Nick and I have an interesting and evolving balance of eating preferences in our house.  Nick is allergic to peanuts and other related legumes, such as lentils, garbanzo beans and soy.  (Thankfully, this allergy doesn’t include all nuts or beans!)  He also appears to have an intolerance to gluten so we are cutting that out.  He eats meat and I occasionally eat fish, but prefer to eat vegetarian the majority of the time.  So we have a range of things to balance around meal times, from allergies that could cause death, intolerance that causes discomfort/illness, to preferred eating styles.  Although it sounds really complicated, it doesn’t have to be and we have found ways to make it work.

By default, Nick eats mostly vegetarian and will occasionally buy chicken, ground turkey, and occasionally sausage to have with dinner or lunch throughout the week.  I will also make foods he can’t eat, like lentils or very occasionally tofu, to have for lunch or dinner when he isn’t home.  To save time and money, however, the majority of our meals are comprised of ingredients we can eat.  The meat/no meat thing is easy and I think we have gotten really good at that.  What is proving to be a little more tricky is our new conversion to little-to-no gluten.  It’s only tricky at this point because we have quite a bit to learn, particularly around gluten free baking.  For example, I excitedly purchased a large bag of gluten free all purpose flour and thought, “well that was an easy switch.”  That weekend I made some waffles with it and after one bite Nick asked what type of flours were used (his body reacts quick!).  I looked at the ingredient list and the first one listed was garbanzo bean flour!  Doh!  So begins the process of learning the many different flours and how they work…more to come on that!  Do you have multiple eating styles to balance in your house?  I’d love to hear how you do it 🙂

Mushroom Tacos, scottileona.com

One favorite recipe of ours that is both gluten free and vegan is Ground Mushroom Tacos.  The texture and flavor of the ground mushrooms is similar to ground beef, so these are great for those meat eaters that like their textures!  🙂  Furthermore, mushrooms can act has a faux meat in so many instances (think portobello burgers, mushroom gravy with biscuits, and mushroom marinara sauce) without soy.  They are also quick to prepare and this recipe will have dinner on your plate in 30 minutes or less, making it an ideal mid-week-stressed-to-the-max dinner.  Mushrooms also boost a great number of health benefits, including:

  • Naturally low in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol
  • Rich in B Vitamins
  • Antioxidants
  • Fiber
  • Only vegan, non-fortified source of Vitamin D (important for those of us dwelling in the Pacific Northwest!)

We also topped our tacos with healthful veggies, including kale, grated beets and carrots, and avocado.  Serve them with beans you cooked over the weekend to save time and add protein.  YUM!

Ground Mushroom Tacos, scottileona.com

Recipe

By Scotti Leona

Makes 5 tacos (Serves ~2)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 red onion
  • 4 oz mushrooms (any kind will work, I used shiitake because that is what came in my CSA)
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 corn tortillas
  • Kale
  • Carrots and beets, shredded
  • Avocado

Method:

  1. In a pan, saute the onion in coconut oil until softened
  2. Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped
  3. Add the mushrooms to the onion and continue to cook a little
  4. Add the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and if you want a little spice, throw in some paprika or chilli powder
  5. Divide the mushrooms among warmed tortillas and top with carrots, beets, kale and avocado (or whatever you want!) 🙂

Homemade Graham Crackers

Scottileona-CL2

Last month Nick and I attended a birthday bash at Crater Lake for our bestest bud.  Neither of us had ever been there, although it has been on our list since the day we moved to Oregon!  Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.  It was formed around 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama volcano collapsed and created a large caldera that eventually filled with rain and snow melt.  It is an understatement to call Crater Lake breathtaking.  There are really no words to describe how blue the water is.  I also loved the huge lava rock formations and the trees that surround the lake.

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There is a road that goes around the perimeter of the lake and twice a year the park closes part of that road to cars so cyclists can enjoy it all to themselves!  We enjoyed the 33 mile scenic ride, which included over 3,800′ of climbing, PLUS the 10 mile ride each way from our camp ground that included another 800′ of climbing.  By “enjoyed” I mean our legs and lungs were screaming with each climb.  However, at each break, our minds were BLOWN.  It was awesome in every sense of the word.

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We all took turns preparing the meals for the group and enjoyed a variety of campground gourmet.  The item that really topped my list, though, were homemade graham crackers that my lovely friend Christine brought.  They had a thicker texture than store-bought crackers and were way more flavorful.  An added bonus: we can identify all of the ingredients!  Of course, we took that health train off the tracks by making s’mores with these glorious crackers…but hey, what’s a camping trip without s’mores?

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Christine found her inspiration for these Homemade Graham Crackers from The Post Punk Kitchen, with a few additions and changes.  Below is her recipe.  I can’t wait to make these at home and enjoy as a snack with tea or fruit!

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Homemade Graham Crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Graham Flour
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar (this adds some extra texture and crunch, you can also use regular sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon extract
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the over to 350* F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil, molasses and vanilla and cinnamon extracts. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry until well combined and crumbly.
  3. Add the milk and stir to combine.  Use your hands to knead the dough a few times until it holds together.  Christine recommends if the dough is dry and crumbly to roll out, you can try adding a tbsp or so more milk.
  4. Line your work surface with parchment paper.  Place the dough on the parchment paper and work dough into a rectangle.  Sprinkle with flour and use a rolling pin to flatten out the rectangle until it is about 10 x 14 inches.  The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick.
  5. Trim the edges and cut the dough into 8 crackers.  You may be able to get some more crackers from the trimmed edges, so roll it out and cut them up!  No need to waste good dough, right?  Very carefully transfer the crackers to the baking sheet.  Poke each cookie with a fork a few times.
  6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  12 minutes gives softer cookies, that according to the Post Punk Kitchen, are better for making ice cream sandwiches!  What!  That sounds like something I need to do!  14 minutes gives you crispy cookies.  You decide how you like ’em.
  7. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.

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Nom.  Now let’s go camping!  Oh, wait…it’s winter now.  We can still camp in our living rooms, yeah?  😉