Vibrant Wellness Supper Club

A few weeks ago I hosted a supper club for ten friends. A supper club, or underground restaurant, is a way for aspiring chefs (or home cooks) to cook up a semi-professional meal while making a bit of money- like a dinner party with an entrance fee. Cooking for a crowd is a daunting task, and my friends generously paid to be my test subjects. But they were all happy with the meal, and I think the night went wonderfully: good food, fun drinks, great people, gorgeous food photos, and only a few mishaps- sorry about the salted truffles, friends! Many of the photos you see here on ManisKitchenworks were taken that great evening, captured by my talented friend Tyler of The Intire Project.

Find the recipes for Black Rice with Mushrooms and Cilantro and Coconut Ginger Tempeh here on Vibrant Wellness Journal.

Black Rice, braised greens, Coconut Ginger Tempeh (topped with some cabbage slaw!)

Black Rice  with cilantro, carrots, onions, and mushrooms. Delicious, but stunning too!

Enough tempeh for 10 hungry friends. Coconut Ginger Tempeh!

granola muffins

These little vegan muffins were part of a cooking class featuring my favorite homemade granola. This class featured one of the best flavor variations- maple, pecan, and cinnamon. I learned the original granola recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, but I’ve adapted it many times over. These muffins feature your own homemade granola, should you be so ambitious, but they work perfectly well with store-bought granola if that is what you have. These treats are another way to add some healthy, clean snacks to your day. These are very simple muffins; add nuts, raisins, cacao nibs, or other yummy mix-ins as you see fit!

granola muffins

Homemade Granola Muffins

1½ cups homemade granola, divided
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
¼ cup vanilla soy yogurt
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds
¾ cup vanilla flavored non-dairy milk
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a muffin pan with coconut oil, or use muffins liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix ¾ cup granola with the Earth Balance. Gently press together using a fork, until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk yogurt and flax together. Let stand one minute, then stir in milk, oil, agave, vanilla, and almond extract. Whisk until smooth.
  4. In another bowl sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir gently until well combined. Gently stir in remaining ¾ cup granola.
  6. Fill muffin cups evenly, and top with a sprinkle of granola/Earth Balance mixture. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

whole-grain white bean soup

I realize this is an relatively vague name for a dish, but it’s because it is just so very versatile! I’ve made two versions of this simple vegan soup, using cannelini beans and barley, and the other using great northern beans with quinoa. This recipe was created for an in-store demo about the virtues of plant-based protein. Beans are the easy answer to the inevitable ‘where to you get your protein’ question, but many people are still learning that whole-grains (and vegetables too!) are great sources of protein as well. Need more convincing? Check out this post about plant-based sources of iron, calcium, protein, and flavor.

clearly, this is a huge recipe; make it for your next party!

Whole-Grain White Bean Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
½ cup diced yellow onion
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1 cup diced celery
1 Tablespoon dry yellow mustard
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary (fresh or dried)
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 cups cooked white beans, any type (home-cooked works, but canned makes for a creamier soup)
2-3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water (more to taste)
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups cooked barley, quinoa, or other whole grain goodness

saute your veggies until soft and squishy

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil until bubbling. Add onions, mushrooms, and celery. Cook until vegetables are soft, about ten minutes.
  2. Add mustard, rosemary, salt, pepper, beans, stock, and water. Bring mixture to a low boil. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Let cool slightly and then add mixture to food processor or blender. Puree until smooth (blend only some of the mixture for a chunkier soup).
  4. Return to saucepan and add juice and quinoa, stirring to combine. Drizzle with olive oil before serving, if desired.

one small serving of this soup is very filling!

quick meals: carrot quinoa fritters

Sad but true: I’ve been significantly less inspired to cook creatively now that I am living alone. This doesn’t mean that I am eating poorly- I am actually eating quite well- but I eat the same things all the time now! Tight scheduling and an even tighter budget means that I am making the most of all my foods, recycling staple grains and veggies into two or three similar meals throughout the week (sometimes even twice in the same day- kale is so very versatile!). This makes food blogging nearly impossible– I’ve already written multiple times about my favorite single girl meals like cozy comfort foods and just-for-one noodle dishes. But inspiration does strike, and this past weekend it came in the form of Carrot-Quinoa Fritters.

The inspiration for these hearty little treats came from a few places: last week my coworker made some deliciously whole-grain (vegan) Vegetable & Quinoa Patties for her cooking class (recipe will be posted soon!), which reminded me about Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Fritters that I had made a few months ago. Both patties/fritters were so easy and amazingly addictive! I’ve also been totally addicted to different versions of this crazy good yogurt-tahini sauce after making it last week to impress a handsome dinner guest.

For my cozy (solo) Saturday night dinner I cooked up some brown rice, steamed some kale, mixed in some black beans, and served them alongside these yummy fritters and an adapted version of the tahini-yogurt dip. I really want to do a vegan version of these fritters, so do stay tuned, my egg-free friends!


I love the combination of soft quinoa and slightly crunchy carrots!

Carrot-Quinoa Fritters

1 organic egg
a few generous pinches of salt and pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
1½- 2 cups shredded carrots
½ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)

  1. Whisk the egg in a large bowl. Toss in salt, pepper, caraway, and whisk again to combine. Add carrots and quinoa and stir to coat. Sprinkle in flour (you may need less than 1/2 cup) until mixture will stick together in 2-inch patties, though there may be a few loose carrot shreds. Make all patties before proceeding.
  2. Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a cast iron pan (my favorite oil is Rice Bran Oil, which can stand the high heat of cast iron on gas stoves). Add a few patties to the pan, and flatten slightly with the spatula. Do not crowd pan. Cook until both sides are nicely browned, then layer on a plate with paper towel to absorb some of the oil.
  3. Serve alongside the dipping sauce, or just eat them straight off the plate. These will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Yield: about 10-12 fritters, or 2-3 servings

Zesty Yogurt & Tahini Sauce

(inspired by 101 Cookbooks; her version with cumin and coriander is fabulous too!)

a few tablespoons plain yogurt
a few tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon lemon zest
2 tsp fresh or dried dill
a few drops of honey
pinch each salt and pepper
water to taste

  1. Whisk all ingredients together until sauce is smooth and creamy, adding water to achieve the perfect texture. Taste for sweet/sour/salty flavors, adding more of any ingredient until it’s perfect!
  2. I’ve also used this sauce on kale salad, noodles, and on rice! Make a quadruple batch and love it all week long.


    yogurt sauce with zucchini fritters

quick meals: three-grain polenta

If you have not tried the teeny-tiny super-grain Teff yet, now might be the time. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, but a serious little powerhouse of nutrition. This brown grain has a grassy flavor similar to millet and amaranth, and it’s full of iron, fiber, protein, and calcium. It also falls  into the category of ancient grains, which generally means that the grains available now are essentially the same food that folks ate thousands of years ago- in contrast to over-hybridized corn and wheat strains. Teff grains, which range in color from ivory to brown, can also be ground into a flour and used for muffins and breads. It is most commonly used in Ethopian foods, specifically injera bread, which I have yet to sample. Teff is also gluten-free, and so is this recipe.

served with roasted Kabocha pumpkin!

This is a great recipe to begin cooking with Teff, which has a seedy, grassy flavor that might require some time to appreciate. I find that mixing new grains into more-common foods (in this case, brown rice and corn) makes it more palatable. And whether or not you graduate onto eating Teff plain is besides the point: teff adds nutrition and flavor to this dish or others, even in small amounts. Try cooking up this Three-Grain Polenta, which is an extra whole-grainy version of my Brown Rice Polenta; you could even go crazy and add quinoa for a four-grain version! The vegan version of this recipe is also delicious, but do add some Earth Balance or olive oil to replace the creaminess of the cheese. Serve alongside greens, roasted veggies, or smothered with a hearty black bean stew for a seriously quick, warm, and filling winter meal.

whole grain goodness

Three-Grain Polenta

1/4 cup teff
1/2 cup polenta (course-ground cornmeal)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cubed sharp cheddar or Paremesan cheese
1/2 cup soymilk (more to taste)
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Lower heat to lowest setting, and add teff and polenta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
  2. Remove cover, add brown rice, soymilk, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and add extra liquid (water or soymilk) if necessary- the polenta should be very creamy and a bit runny. Taste to ensure that polenta is soft and not at all crunchy. Add cheese (or olive oil) and stir until melted. Serve warm; but know that this also makes great leftovers!

For more Teff inspiration, check out 101 cookbooks; Heidi’s recipe for Polenta-style Teff Squares was the inspiration for my Teff purchases. She has many recipes for Teff in her books, and one online for a corn quiche with teff crust (with eggs) that looks gorgeous. Also, the Gluten-Free Girl wrote a great post about Teff, and included a recipe for chocolate banana bread with Teff flour (with eggs). Check out Bob’s Red Mill if you cannot find teff locally.

Enjoy the whole grain goodness!