Coconut + Citrus = Back on Blog

If the blog had been blocked before, consider it back now. Last night was the first time in a month I had time to get creative in the kitchen, and my body appreciated it. To me, eating a plant-based diet is only easy if you are down for making your own food, which I am, but it has been a pain with strapped time. I’ve been doing a lot of pre-made salads, pita and hummus, pieces of fruit on the go, but that has been getting a little boring. I’ve been craving a punch of creativity, so last night, while still on short time, I made a quick and easy tofu stir fry with brown rice.

I love simple food just as much as I love complex food. How awesome is it when you can build a somewhat complex flavor with simple ingredients? The breakdown:

Ingredients

  • 1 Valencia orange
  • 1 small lemon or half a large lemon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • handful of firm tofu cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups veggies of choice, chopped (I did asparagus, carrots, zucchini, and grape tomatoes (fruit, vegetable…I know…))
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

If solid, let the coconut oil melt in a saucepan. Once melted, add the juice of the orange and lemon, the soy sauce, and the garlic powder into the saucepan. Give a quick mix. With the stovetop on medium high heat, add the minced garlic and let the flavors seep for a minute. Put the tofu cubes in and let them pan fry until the edges are golden. Flip the tofu and add in the asparagus and carrots. Let them soften slightly before throwing in the zucchini and grape tomatoes. Toss everything in the light sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. I wait for at least one tomato to break open, and then I pull the saucepan off the heat. Lay stir fry on top of a bed of rice and enjoy a ridiculously easy dish.

I don’t know how other people eat, but for me, this was one serving.

Posted in Dinner, Healthy, Stir Fries, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shopped Computer + Start of School = Bumped Blog

It’s been a bit crazy over her for the last few weeks. As many know, I’ve been trying to find a permanent teaching position this school year, which takes a lot of work… which produces little results. With that bit of stress and my computer being in the shop, I’ve been off my blogs. Of course, there is tons of good news. First, I am in a classroom now, for a bit anyway, until placement gets figured out – hopefully I’ll be here longer than a bit.  Second, after taking my computer to Best Buy right before my three-year warranty ran out to get a new battery and charger and the slight crack on the bottom fixed, they told me it had been approved for replacement. Say what?! Yep, they gave me a beautiful new MacBook Pro to replace my old one for the grand total of … $0! I mean, really, who gets lucky like that? Not me! Except this time. In actuality, I had purchased a $400 warranty when I bought the computer, but I’ve already had them replace my charger twice and work out a few other kinks, so that definitely paid for itself. The message here, kids, is…it’s a pricey piece of equipment; buy the warranty.

Anyway, lest anyone think I’ve perished, I am still eating… a lot, and I can’t wait to get some yummy new recipes up. Here’s a teaser…

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Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Tempeh Bacon + Basil Spread = Wicked Wraps

I had my first tempeh bacon experience about a month ago at True Food in San Diego. I wrote about its glory here. It was a salivating happiness. In my current cash-strapped state, tempeh bacon would not be something I would purchase for myself, but my mom, who is probably the best person I know, bought me some, in addition to some other specialty foods I had that spoiled in San Diego’s recent heat wave. I could go on and on in a tearful gush of how grateful I am to her for helping me stick to my food commitments, but I’ll save that for another time and leave it at, “Mom, I love you.”

So! I have some tempeh bacon! The directions of the box say to fry it, but I didn’t want to do that, so instead I placed four slices on a foil lined baking sheet and baked them at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes on one side and 5-6 on the other. The retained all their mapley bacony goodness, but I didn’t have to add the fat. Thumbs up.

I prepped all my other ingredients – couple thick tomato slices, some thinly sliced red onion and cucumber, and a little handful of alfalfa sprouts. I piled them up on doubled up romaine leaves, topped with the tempeh bacon and made my spread, which I am calling a spread because I think it would be awesome on a sandwich, but let’s be honest, in this case, it’s kind of more of a sauce or even dressing :P. I’m still calling it a spread.

Ingredients

Basil Spread

  • 1/8 cup plain soy yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Everything goes into the blender, except the chia seeds and mixes until smooth. I add the chia seeds in once I pour it into a jar for two reasons. 1. I like each seed to stay whole, and 2. They seem to stay behind in the blender when I pour the mixture out, and chia seeds are expensive, so I want to make sure I get them all. Once the chia seeds hang out in the spread for a bit, it thickens up to a much more spread-like consistency.

This was a surprisingly mild topper – just very cool and fresh, and could be used on a variety of dishes – sandwiches, pasta, quinoa or cous cous salad – totally versatile and very yummy.

Posted in Dressing, Healthy, Lunch, Sauces, Vegan, Wraps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Peanut Sauce + Stir Fry = Thai Time

I know, real Thai sauce is made with real peanuts, but in the absence of such luxuries, I used peanut butter. As I’ve mentioned before, I am quite terrible about writing down recipes, so what I’ve learned is that if I’m not going to write it down, keeping it simple and in equal parts helps me remember what I did. Worked out great here.

This dish was super quick and easy. I’ll put down what I used, but like with most salads or stir fries, use what you have.

Ingredients

Stir Fry

  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, sliced about 1/8″ thick, cut into 1″ x 1″ (roughly) pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms of your choice, sliced
  • half a red pepper, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup broccoli florets, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa (great use for leftovers)
  • 1/3 seeded cucumber, sliced into spears
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, chopped

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/8 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup Nakano Roasted Garlic Rice Vinegar*
  • 1/8 cup Vegetable stock
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • zest of half a lime
  • juice of half a lime
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

*I found this in the pantry, and it worked out beautifully, but if you don’t have this, just use rice vinegar and a chopped clove of garlic (or you can even just smash the clove and let it infuse as the sauce cooks and then take it out). You may also need a little bit of agave nectar – test it out to see if it needs some sweetness.

Directions

Make your sauce first. On medium heat, combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Let it sit for about 10 minutes on the heat, stirring occasionally so the flavors meld. Once finished, set aside. If it gets too thick, whisk in a tiny bit of water, but it should be fine.

In a non-stick sauté pan, pour the vegetable stock and drop in the garlic and tofu. This is my way of eliminating oil. Obviously, oil would help the tofu crisp up on the outside, but using stock actually worked pretty well for me. Let the tofu brown a bit on the edges. This only takes a few minutes. Toss in the red pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, and quinoa. Pour the sauce over the stir fry and mix into all the ingredients. Let the flavors get to know each other for 3-4 minutes. Serve into bowls, and garnish with chopped cilantro and cucumber spears.

Makes enough for two people.

Posted in Dinner, Healthy, Sauces, Thai, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Black Bean Quinoa Burger + Practice = Coming Closer

The best veggie burger I have had to date is the quinoa burger from the Burger Lounge here in San Diego. It is seriously so good, and I wish I had one right now. They put cheese in it. Those cheaters. That would be a great binding agent.

I’ve been working on perfecting my own quinoa burger for some time, and I believe I am almost there. I always eat what I make, but I have yet to get the recipe good enough to post. I have three criteria: 1. flavor, 2. texture, and 3. durability. If it tastes great, but falls apart, no good. My last batch, which I made with a little Mexican flare, were my closest yet, but the texture was still a little off. I think my ingredients were all good though, so now it’s just about adjusting the ratios. So close I can taste it…literally, and it tastes good. This isn’t over yet quinoa burger. You will be mine.

They looked all proper and whatnot. Almost like real meat. I totally thought we finally had it. Curse you perfect appearing patties.

Now, the guacamole, I can vouch for – 1 avocado, 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, 1 clove of garlic, a handful of cilantro, spritz of lemon juice, few drops of Sriracha, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend in a food processor until smooth, or if you don’t have a food processor, cut the avocado into chunks and add a finely chopped clove of garlic to it. Mash the avocado with a potato masher until smoothish (who doesn’t like a little chunk?), add in everything else (chop the cilantro first), mix and done. Such a delicious topper for pretty much anything, and once I got the consistency right, I was surprised by how little the lack of sour cream I normally would have added bothered me.

You know, the trick really might just be to pat them down a little more before pan frying or grilling. They were just a touch too soft, but expect a functional recipe soon!

Posted in Burgers, Californian, Dinner, Mexican, Sauces | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Corn & Black Bean Salad + Sriracha = Heat for your Heath

If you’re not using the delectable chili sauce, Sriracha on…you know…kind of everything, then you are definitely missing out. I was introduced to this sauce by my spicy friend, Nicole, quite some time ago, and I haven’t been able to turn away from it since. It does pack a bit of a burn, but don’t we all need a little heat in our lives anyway?

Especially when trying to eat oil free and vegan, simple and delicious flavors, like the garlicy, chili(y?), vinegary pops found in Sriracha are winners. This corn and black bean salad, for example, only has some salt, pepper, and Sriracha to brighten it, and it’s perfect. All the natural flavors are enhanced, and I don’t have to stress about the calories or ingredients in a store bought dressing or the hassle of making my own.

Also, Sriracha is not just a bottle full of empty flavor. It’s good for you ;). Check this out:

Posted in Californian, Dinner, Healthy, Mexican, Salad, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Quinoa Salad + “Honey” Mustard = Substitution Satisfies

I was thisclose to making a pasta salad tonight, but instead, I went power bowl with some quinoa and a three ingredient honey mustard dressing.

Ingredients

Quinoa Salad*

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped or cubed
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cucumber, cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • handful of sprouts
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • salt and pepper

*It really does not matter what goes in here – if you like it, put it in. Unless my salad is supposed to have a specific purpose, I just throw in everything I have in the fridge.

Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons plain soy yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons coarse ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

Directions
Boil the water with a dash of salt and 1 clove of chopped garlic. Add in the dry quinoa. Let boil for a couple minutes and then drop the heat down, put the lid on, and let it steam for 13-15 minutes. When the water is almost gone, remove from the heat, and let it sit with the lid on for about 5 more minutes. Use a fork to fluff it up when the liquid is gone, transfer it to a separate bowl, and put it in the fridge to cool.

Pan “fry” (no oil – nonstick pan) the zucchini with the remainder of the garlic and the mushrooms. This should only take  a few minutes. Once cooked, put it in the fridge to cool.

After the cooked ingredients have cooled, put them in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Thoroughly mix the dressing ingredients – I do it by pouring everything into a jar and shaking the living daylights out of it. Incidentally, this really does taste like honey mustard. Really. And I love honey mustard. And there’s no honey in it! Mwahahaha! Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat.

Makes 3 – 4 servings, depending on how much you are eating.

This is just as easy as it seems, and it is full of delicious nutrition. I had mine with my refreshing spinach-kale-cucumber-pineapple-lemon-apple juice, and my energy levels were glad I went this way rather than pasta. Yay!

Posted in Dressing, Healthy, Homemade, Power Food, Salad | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments