Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sweet Zen Popcorn

Sweet Zen Popcorn

Popcorn is my new obsession, along with all kinds of green tea! 

Sweet Zen Popcorn
Sweet Zen Popcorn

As I've decided to give up coffee in the mornings (again!), I have been replacing my morning cup of joe with a cup or two of green tea and a splash of almond milk. This was just the way I used to have my coffee...so tasty...even the green tea is great with a splash of almond milk. On this third day, I'm finally back to normal and not feeling lethargic all day. A big hooray for that! Part of that was also my crazy schedule over the weekend but the lack of coffee sure didn't help to get back on track. I'm lucky to not have had any headaches this time around either and hope the luck continues. I'm sure the small amount of caffeine in the green tea has helped offset that. Hooray again! If you've ever gone through the process of giving up coffee, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. ;)

Now, let's talk about this popcorn and green tea mashup. It's very zen!

Two of the green teas I've used most lately are a green tea with matcha and the Zen green tea from Tazo. The Zen tea is a 'harmonious' blend of green tea, lemongrass and spearmint which made for a really interesting twist on my new popcorn obsession. My mind was thinking kettle corn and so I added a bit of sugar to the mix giving it a subtle sweetness as well. I also added a smidge of salt, but be careful with the salt as too much will ruin this lovely combination..so much that I have just left it out of the recipe. Add salt to your discretion. The result of the recipe below was delicious and unusual! A recipe I will come back to time and time again. I also tried the green tea with matcha which of course was super too but decided to use the Zen Tazo Tea here because it's a bit more unique with the lemongrass and spearmint flavors. So today I leave you with a fun recipe to try. Who knows, maybe you, or I, will find other tea flavors to try out taking popcorn to a new level! 

Sweet Zen Popcorn
Sweet Zen Popcorn

Sweet Zen Popcorn

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 Tazo Zen tea bags (or your favorite green tea or matcha blend)
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons coconut or organic pure cane sugar

Cut open the tea bags, place tea in a mortar or small bowl along with the sugar, grind to a fine grind. You can also use a small blender/ coffee grinder for the job. Set aside.

Stock pot: In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium high to high heat (four me my gas stove was set between 4 & 5...adjust as necessary. I went through two batches with not so good results, a little lower heat worked best for me). Once the oil has melted, add popcorn kernels, swirl the pot to coat the kernels. Cover, shake every 10 seconds or so to move the kernels around. You want to move them around so they don't burn on the bottom. You should here continual popping about 3 minutes in, at this time you can stop shaking, listen for the slow down of popping. Turn heat off, uncover, add seasoning, cover and carefully shake the pot every which way to coat your popcorn.

Popcorn maker: Add popcorn, cook as directed and move to a large bowl. In a small bowl, melt coconut oil. Once popcorn is done, drizzle with oil and top with seasoning, toss to coat well.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 8 cups.


Notes:

Using the oil in the stock pot will not make the popcorn oily at all. Using the oil with the popcorn maker method may leave an oily residue on your popcorn and fingers.

You may like to add a smidge of mineral salt. FYI, too much will ruin the flavor combination which is why I left it out. I learned from experience and much prefer the soft subtle of the sweet with the flavors in the Zen tea. Add salt to your discretion.

Sweet Zen Popcorn

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tempeh Chow Mein

Tempeh Chow Mein

This recipe has been on the back burner for a while. I shared a version of this on Instagram back in January of this year and meant to put together a recipe sooner. I find myself getting side tracked often as a food blogger. There are seriously 1000+ recipes that I have in mind and sometimes can't figure which one to do next. All in due time! Fortunately, the time has come and I'm happy to add this to the recipe collection. It's a classic dish and a very welcome addition! It's absolutely delicious and I polished the whole thing off by the end of the day...yes, it was lunch and dinner...no leftovers. ;) You can keep this simple or go all out with a few extra vegetables if you like. If you're not a fan of tempeh, omit it altogether or add some cubed tofu instead. This simple chow mein can be ready for the dinner table in less than 30 minutes for your enjoyment.

Tempeh Chow Mein

For the tempeh, I used this three grain tempeh that is available locally. Tempeh is a great source of protein for the plant based eater. It contains 19 grams of protein per serving (4 oz.) and 13 grams of fiber. It's also an excellent source of manganese, copper, phosphorus and vitamin B2. If you can't find tempeh, this recipe will do just fine without it. For me, I have added the tempeh primarily for protein purposes but I do love the flavor as well. Tofu would work here too, just be sure to use extra firm so it doesn't fall apart while cooking. Or omit the tempeh/tofu altogether and make yourself a nice protein shake or smoothie later. 

The noodles I chose are a Japanese version of Chinese egg noodles, but without the eggs. Chuka soba noodles are great for soups, stir fry’s and cold noodles salads. They cook up fast, about 4 minutes, making things go a little quicker. They shouldn't be confused with the Japanese soba noodles that are tan colored, straight and made from buckwheat flour. Ingredients for the shuka soba noodles are: wheat, water, salt & turmeric. Those looking to go gluten free should use rice noodles or 100% soba noodles. If you're not gluten intolerant feel free to use any thin spaghetti noodles or vegan chow mein noodles. The chuka soba and chow mein noodles can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store, at your local Asian grocery stores or purchased online.

Tempeh Chow Mein

The vegetables here can vary to suit your taste. You can add in bean sprouts, sliced shitake mushrooms, green onions, broccoli florets, etc. Lots of cabbage is a must for me. I could just as well use a whole head of cabbage in this recipe but decided to only call for 1/2 head. Feel free to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking. 

Tempeh Chow Mein

Super easy to put together! Cook your noodles, rinse and set aside.

Tempeh Chow Mein

 Next, start your stir fry by first adding the tempeh, celery, onion and some of the sauce. Cook a few minutes. Then add the carrots and cabbage, cook until everything is softened, add the noodles, remaining sauce and toss well. Continue cooking until noodles are warmed through amd serve.

Tempeh Chow Mein

Tempeh Chow MeinTempeh Chow Mein

Once served, I topped with sliced scallions, red pepper flakes and cilantro. I'm a huge fan of these last ingredients but feel free to omit anything you don't care for. Toasted sesame seeds would be a great topper too! 


Tempeh Chow Mein

Ingredients
  • 8 oz. package chow mein noodles
  • 2 (8oz.) packages tempeh
  • 1 tablespoon sesame or grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 head green cabbage (about 4 cups), shredded
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced diagonally
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
Sauce
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, optional
  • 1- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, grated or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • mineral salt and pepper to taste (white pepper would be great here)

If using chuka soba or chow mein noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil, add noodles, reduce heat to medium and cook for 4 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside. If using other noodles, cook as directed on package.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce, set aside.

In a large wok, heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat, add tempeh, crumbling it between your fingers, onion and celery, cook 1 minute. Add a couple tablespoons of sauce mixture, continue to cook for another 2 -3 minutes. Add in cabbage and carrot, stir to mix, cover and cook another 5 - 7minutes, stirring occasionally until cabbage has shrunk down and softened. Add in noodles and remaining sauce, toss to coat, continue cooking until noodles are warmed through. Add additional tamari or other seasoning to taste.

Serve warm topped with scallions, red pepper flakes and cilantro. Sesame seeds and/or chili sauce would also be great!

Serves four.

Notes:

Feel free to use only one package of tempeh instead of two. The two packages does serve four but one package will still add a fair amount of protein to each serving.

I love the added sweet from the maple syrup using 2 tablespoons. Feel free to use 1 tablespoon instead of 2 and add more vinegar or tamari in it's place.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

Lately, I've been completely loving steamed vegetables with chili paste as my sole seasoning. Usually I'll add some sort of noodle and tofu to really make it hearty. I wanted to do something a little different and decided to add a spicy miso broth to the mix. Well, the result was super! I love a good miso broth and a spicy one is even better for me, but of course the spice can be an option for you. I know not everyone is as fond of spicy as I am but if you love some added heat you'll find this miso noodle bowl to be right up your alley. It's fairly quick to pull together and should be ready for your dinner table, couch or wherever you eat within 30 minutes. It's a versatile recipe allowing you to use items you may have on hand or can find fairly easily. The miso and chili paste may be the only ingredient that some, in certain parts, may have trouble with. Alas, there is the internet to fill that gap. You'll be able to use these items in more recipes than just here, so I encourage you to source them and start enjoying their flavors and benefits.

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

I used mung bean threads here, aka glass or cellophane noodles. They come in these cute little nest bundles. This is my first time experimenting with mung bean noodles. I love the thinness and light texture they have once softened. They're easy to prepare, needing only to be soaked in warm water for about 15 - 20 minutes. I started these after prepping my vegetables and they were ready when everything was done.  Feel free to use any noodle you prefer or is available to you. Soba, rice, ramen and udon noodles would all be great here. If you're gluten intolerant, stick with the bean thread, 100% soba and rice noodles. You can find out about more gluten free noodles in this article from The Kitchn: 11 Gluten Free Asian Noodles. Most of these noodles can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store, and all can be found in your local Asian grocery store or purchased online. 

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl
Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

I used a red miso, but you can use your favorite miso. Even a combination of two different miso's would be great...ie, red and white miso. The red miso is a bit more robust in flavor and slightly saltier than the mellow white miso I generally use. I enjoyed the stronger flavor here, especially with the addition of the chili paste which is pronounced as well. The miso soup is fantanstic on it's own, maybe adding some cubed tofu, sliced scallions and wakame for simplicity. I usually use Miso Master but found this brand at the Asian store while buying the bean threads and thought I'd give it a try. I was pleased all around. Find out more about the different types of Miso in this article from Bon Appetit: Know your Miso

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

For the heat in this recipe I've used this chili paste from Huy Fong. It's on my favorites list right now. You can also sub in sriracha if you prefer. If you're not a fan of too much spice, start with a smaller amount than listed and work your way up at serving time. You can also use 1 - 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes in place of the chili paste.

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

Your vegetable choices can be anything you like. I happen to have all of this on hand and threw in a little of everything. My favorite was the sugar snap peas. They gave a perfect sweet contrast to the spicy! I would highly recommend adding those in if you have them available. Play around with different vegetables using asparagus, baby corn, wild mushrooms, bell peppers, bambo shoots, etc...any combination that suits your taste.

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

Red Hot Miso Noodle Bowl

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • bean thread noodles, 2 nests or 4 oz. (or noodles of choice)
  • 1 - 2 bok choy
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • handful sugar snap peas
  • 4 oz. cubed organic firm tofu
  • 4 cups water, vegan dashi or vegetable broth
  • 3 - 4  tablespoons miso
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste or sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger, optional
  • 1 - 2 scallions, sliced thin, to garnish
  • small bunch cilantro, to garnish
  • toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Prepare your vegetables, set aside.

If using bean threads. In small saucepan, heat enough water to cover bean threads, remove from heat, let sit 15 - 20 minutes, or until nicely softened. In hind site: You could heat water, place one nest of bean threads in your serving bowl, pour enough water to almost cover the bean threads and let set for 15 - 20 minutes. Gently tilt to drain dish of the water before adding vegetables and broth. If using other noodles, cook according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Next, steam your vegetables and tofu. I used a bamboo steamer here along with the wok but you can use any pot you like. Fill wok/pot 1/3 of the way with water. Heat water over high heat, place bamboo steamer over top, add steamer lid and steam until al dente, about 4 - 5 minutes. Remove steamer, keep lid on and set aside. Empty wok/pot of water.

In same wok/pot, place 4 cups water and heat over high heat until nicely warmed (do not boil). Turn heat to low, add miso, chili paste and ginger, mix well dissolving any clumps of miso. Remove from heat.

In each serving dish, place one nest of noodles, half of the vegetables & tofu and fill with spicy miso broth. Top with cilantro sprigs, scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Add more chili paste or sriracha to taste.

Notes:

Use a vegan dashi or light vegetable broth in place of water for more flavor. Or use part water and part dashi/vegetable broth.

Use your favorite miso paste.

Change up the vegetables. Try using asparagus, baby corn, spinach, bell peppers, bambo shoots, wild mushrooms, etc...mixing and matching to suit your taste.

Change up the noodles using ramen, soba, rice or udon. For gluten free, use 100% soba, rice or bean thread noodles.

Use 1 - 2 teaspoons or red pepper flakes in place of chili paste if needed.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Spicy Tahini Sauce

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Tahini Sauce

You may be familiar with the Spicy Lentil Wraps from Trader Joe's. They are one of four vegan wraps available at the moment, the other's being a Veggie Wrap, Falafel Wrap and Eggplant Wrap. I love all of these wraps with the Spicy Lentil Wrap and Falafel Wrap being my favorites. Out of them all the Spicy Lentil Wrap has the highest protein amount with 14 grams and is the one I usually grab for. Lentils are an excellent additon to your diet. Not only are they a great source of protein but also fiber, vitamin B and a few essential trace minerals your body needs to function well, all of this with very low fat. If you have a local Trader Joe's near you, check out the lentil wrap and the other wraps too. Also, take a look at this list of vegan products they have to offer. Items do change from time to time but this is a great list to get you started. A few other favorite grab-n-go items I love at Trader Joe's are the Lentil Soup with Ancient Grains, Black Bean and Corn Enchilada's, Tofu Spring Rolls and a few various salads.

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wrap with Tahini Sauce

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wrap with Tahini Sauce

I've wanted to do my own version of their Spicy Lentil Wrap and finally got around to it. I started with the ingredient list using lentils and bulgur wheat but really wanted to create a recipe that was gluten free. I was going to try an all lentil mix but once I shared my testing on Instagram, someone suggested that I use quinoa. Brilliant idea! Why didn't I think of that? ;) After trying a few batches with and without the quinoa, the quinoa was a keeper as it had the preferred texture. The mix is super versatile, easy to put together and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or frozen if needed. I'm very happy to say that even my 'picky eater' daughter loved this. I actually made her a wrap using flour tortillas with no greens, only avocado, which she ate with no complaints. That is something of a miracle around here as we tend to be very different eaters!

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wrap with Tahini Sauce

As for the tahini sauce and chili paste, the sauce is pretty straight forward and is meant to be on the thin side. It can be used as a drizzle for each bite. It can also double as a salad dressing, or drizzled on steamed or roasted vegetables! The Trader Joe's chili paste uses a recipe that is made up of red pepper flakes that I just didn't get around to recreating, maybe I'll come back to it later, but rather decided to use ready made chili paste that I've been loving lately. I use the Huy Fong, Garlic Chili Paste or their plain Chili Paste. I love this stuff and have been steaming vegetables topping it with either of the chili paste as all the flavoring I need, maybe a dash of pink salt too. I definitely love my spicy food! If you haven't given it a try, I highly recommend it. It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store or bought online. There's more to love about chili peppers than just the flavor, they are good for clearing congestion, fighting inflammation, boosting immunity, act as a topical pain reliever, help with weight loss and can stop cancer cells. If you can take the heat, get your spicy on!

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Tahini Sauce

Make yourself a wrap using lavash bread or go gluten free using warmed corn tortillas for tacos.

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Spicy Tahini Sauce

 Both are super hearty and filling!

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Tahini SauceSpicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Tahini Sauce
Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Spicy Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

Lentil & Quinoa Mix
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed 
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water, + more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, optional
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 scallion, sliced

Spicy Tahini Sauce
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup water, + more as needed 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tablespoon
  • pinch of pink salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

to serve
  • shredded cabbage or micro greens
  • lavash bread or corn tortillas (flour tortillas work too)
  • chili paste or sriracha (may fav chili paste)
  • sliced avocado, for tacos (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, bring water, lentils, quinoa and oil to a boil, reduce heat to low, add in cumin, garlic & onion powder, salt and optional red pepper flakes, stir to combine, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, add in chopped parsley and scallions, let rest for 10 minutes. If you feel it's too dry, add a couple tablespoons of water. Mixture should be creamy, not dry. Add extra spices to taste.

While lentil & quinoa mix is cooking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.

For the wrap, lay your lavash bread on a flat surface. Spread a tablespoon or so of chili paste about 1 1/2 inches from the edge on the first 1/3 portion from top to bottom, leaving an inch on both ends. Layer with about 1/4 cup lentil & quinoa mix and cabbage, fold over and roll. Slice in half and serve with a drizzle of tahini sauce on each bite.

For tacos, warm your tortillas, layer with lentil & quinoa mix, mirco greens or cabbage, add chili paste and tahini dressing to taste and sliced avocado.

Notes:

Feel free to use all cabbage, or any greens that you like. I have used micro greens here because I had them on hand and for variation.

Lentil & quinoa mix makes about 3 cups. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for longer.

Tahini sauce makes about 3/4 cup. Store in refrigerator for up to a week. Great on salads, steamed or roasted vegetables too! If you prefer it to be thicker, use less water.

If you don't have quinoa available you can still pull this together using all lentils. 1 cup lentils to 2 1/4 cups water. If using brown/green lentils, cook at least 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

You may remember a few posts back that I mentioned buying loads of strawberries each week, I shared with you all a Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake.  Not only have I been buying strawberries each week, and freezing most of them, I've also been buying mangoes. We have a local farmer who comes around selling them and I scoop them up as much as I can. Some have been chopped and stored in the freezer along with the strawberries for smoothies, others eaten with a sprinkle of cayenne or as is. I love mangoes with their sweet yellow/orange flesh  and have been wanting to put them to different uses. I've always wanted to try a mango dressing but just never felt like using the food processor, one more thing to have to wash...I'm all about keeping things easy. But sometimes you just have to give and the little extra cleaning was all worth it. This spicy mango dressing with it's beautiful color is the perfect accompaniment to this colorful salad. And, it's a nice mix up to all the peanut dressings that I usually tend to use. Light, bright and refreshing, this colorful salad is another welcome addition to the recipe collection!

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango DressingAsian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Start with your spicy mango dressing. Add ingredients to food processor/blender, process until smooth. Set aside so flavors can develop.

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Chop and shred your lettuce and cabbages, add to large bowl.

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Add bell peppers, scallions and cilantro, toss and serve! 

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Asian Rainbow Salad + Spicy Mango Dressing

Ingredients
  • 1 head romaine, sliced
  • 1 small head cabbage, or 1/2 head large, sliced
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced, to serve
  • black sesame seeds, to serve
  • slivered almonds, to serve

Spicy Mango Dressing
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and seed removed
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water, or more vinegar if you like
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • pinch of pink salt

Start with the mango dressing by adding all ingredients to food processor/blender and blend until smooth. Set aside to let the flavors develop.

Add salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss. Serve in individual dishes, top with diced avocado and spicy mango dressing. Add a sprinkle of black sesame seeds & slivered almonds over top. If eating this as a monster salad, simply enjoy straight from the large bowl! 

Makes one very large salad or four smaller salads.

Notes:

Feel free to add cucumbers, carrots, broccoli....whatever you like.

Add some cubed plain, baked or crispy fried tofu for added protein if you like. 

Enjoy! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans

Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans

This is my first time ever having collard greens. I know I'm not alone in this and if you haven't yet tried these leafy greens, I think it's high time you do. This dish may not look super exciting but let me tell you it is a very welcome addition to the recipe collection! I surely have been missing out and am happy to share with you this very easy collard dish that will win your heart! I most definitely prefer my collards lightly cooked versus raw. They are far too bitter for me raw but once lightly sautéed they lend a beautiful smoky flavor that I find myself craving. The lemon is essential in this recipe so please be sure to have a couple lemons on hand, or bottled lemon juice if need be. This is a super simple, full of flavor dish that can easily act as a meal. Pair it with some warmed corn tortillas, naan or a slice of artisan bread and you're good to go. I've chosen to use cannellini beans here as they are mild, creamy and pair well with the other ingredients. Feel free to use another white bean of choice. Adding a tomato or two lends a bit more juices and color rounding out the dish perfectly.

Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans

Collard greens in a recent study outshined steamed kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts & mustard greens in its ability to aid the digestive tract helping to reduce the body's cholesterol levels. There is not a lot of scientific literature on collards themselves, they are usually lumped together with other cruciferous vegetables, but they hold many benefits to your health as the world is finding out. Three of the major benefits include: detox support, antioxidant powers and anti-inflammatory benefits. They are an excellent source of vitamin K, A, C, manganese, fiber and calcium. If you haven't given these leafy greens a try, this recipe is a great way to add them into your diet.

Collard Greens & Cannellini BeansCollard Greens & Cannellini Beans

Ultra simple and super delicious...

Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans

I promise! ♥

Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans

Collard Greens & Cannellini Beans

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch collard greens, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, draind and rinsed
  • 2 small heirloom tomatoes, sliced or diced
  • 1 shallot, sliced or 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 large or 2 small lemons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large wok over medium heat, add shallots and sauté 4 minutes or so, just until softened. Add collards, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt & pepper, cook another 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and beans, cook, stirring occasionally, until collards are lightly wilted or until beans and tomatoes are heated through. I like my collards al dente if you will and cooked for about 5 extra minutes. Ending cooking time will vary depending on how soft you like your collards. 

Serve in individual bowls. Top with a squeeze of lemon and lemon-pepper seasoning if on hand. IF not using lemon pepper, try adding a light dusting of almond parmesan on top. Pair with warmed corn tortillas, naan or crusty bread and a tall glass of lemon water. 

Serves 2.

Notes:

If your bunch of collard greens is on the larger side, you may consider adding another can of beans.

Feel free to use sliced grape tomatoes, or sliced tomatoes on the vine. Whatever tomatoes you prefer or have on hand.

Add more garlic powder if you like, I didn't measure and am guessing this is about how much I used.

Enjoy this simple and flavorful dish!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chinese Chop Salad + Peanut Sesame Dressing

Chinese Chop Salad + Peanut Sesame Dressing

Light, fresh foods are my inspiration these days. Fresh is back in my kitchen as I crave the lighter fare with the changing season. Today I share with you this Chinese chop salad which is meant to be enjoyed in abundance! It will make quite a bit so you can either graze on it throughout the day or simply have some, saving the rest for later if not making for a group, or simply half the recipe. It's meant to be versatile as well, using whatever ingredients you prefer or have on hand. I have used red and green cabbage along with romaine lettuce here. Feel free to use any combination if you don't want to use all three. The vegetables are in abundance too, I didn't add any carrots so that my be something you might like to add to yours. I have also included lightly grilled tofu on top of my salad but this is an option. The dressing will add a little extra protein to the salad. It's another peanut dressing. What can I say?! I love the creaminess as well as the little extra protein and nutrition it gives...and this one is a little different from the others. I used quite a bit of vinegar in this one giving it a nice bright zestiness. If your not a fan of vinegar, like I once was, you'll see a substitution for you in the notes. As Tim Gunn from Project Runway liked to say, 'Make it work!'...that's exactly how we'll approach this salad with the various tastes we all have. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers to the changing seasons and new adventures in vegan fare!

Chinese Chop Salad + Peanut Sesame Dressing

Chinese Chop Salad + Peanut Sesame Dressing

Light, fresh and delicious! 

Chinese Chop Salad + Peanut Sesame Dressing

Chinese Chop Salad + Peanut Sesame Dressing

Ingredients
  • 1 small head green, savoy or napa cabbage, sliced
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, sliced
  • 1/3 head red cabbage, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 Persian cucumbers or 1 small cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, garnish
  • small handful slivered almonds, garnish
  • 8 oz. plain or grilled firm or extra firm tofu, cubed (optional)
Peanut Sesame Dressing
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (2 if using raw almond butter)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame or toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 inch knob ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha, optional
  • pinch of pink salt or splash of tamari

In a small bowl, mix your dressing and set aside letting the flavors develop. Taste before serving adding anything you feel it needs.

Prepare your vegetables, place in a large bowl. Here you can either add the dressing and toss to coat then serve in individual dishes. OR, you can toss and serve adding a drizzle of dressing over top once plated. Top with tofu, sesame seeds and slivered almonds.

Serves 4.

Notes:

Use whatever ingredients you like here. There is plenty so if you don't have access to a few of the items you can sub in something else or omit it all together. Make this a rainbow salad by adding in some julienned or grated carrots. You may like to add in some small brocolli florets, sliced scallions or zucchini too.

If you don't care for vinegar, I would suggest replacing the 1/3 cup of  vinegar with water or unsweetened almond milk and maybe a splash of vinegar for the extra zest it gives. This dressing is meant to be somewhat on the thin side. If you prefer it thicker add a bit more nut butter, to thin add a tad more of the liquids.

For the tofu, you can use uncooked or grilled. I lightly cooked mine using sesame seed oil and a cast iron griddle, about 6 minutes on each side. But it is perfectly fine with tofu from the package, just press if needed and cube it. If your looking to use cooked tofu here is tutorial from Olives for Dinner that you can reference: 15-Minute Quick and Easy Tofu

Enjoy the lighter side!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

Its strawberry season here in California signaling that spring is right around the corner. It's one of my favorite times of year, next to fall. I've been buying strawberries like crazy, freezing them just for times like these when I feel like making a shake. I don't about you but spring happens to be the season when I naturally tend to start eating a bit lighter, making shakes and smoothies a perfect way to get in a quick meal or healthy dessert. Full of good things in this milkshake, you can be sure you're giving your body lots of L-O-V-E...because you deserve it! 

 Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

Strawberries are full of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. These sweet ruby red fruits hold three major benefits to your health: they have the ability to protect and support the cardiovascular system, regulate blood sugar helping to prevent diabetes and protect certain forms of cancer from developing. They are also a rich source of vitamin C, manganese and fiber! It is recommeded that you eat at least one cup of strawberries for the full benefit of their nutritiousness. 

 Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

Cocoa is full of powerful anti-oxidants that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and aging effects. It can also be beneficial as an antidepressant with its natural 'happy' opiate effects giving you a feeling of elation. I have actually felt this myself after having a shake made with cocoa powder....feels pretty good! It is recommended that you purchase your cocoa/cacao powder 'organic' as it's less processed and contains more of the beneficial nutrients to keep you at your best. Just a note that cocoa is not included on the World's Healthiest Food List but is still beneficial and can be enjoyed in moderation.

 Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

  Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake

Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa/cacao powder
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or liquid sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop protein powder, optional 

optional toppings
  • shredded coconut
  • cacao nibs

Place ingredients in blender and blend until combined. Top with optional toppings. Serves one.

Notes:

Depending on the size or cut of your strawberries, you may need to add a little extra milk. Sometimes I have to add an extra 1/4 -1/2 cup.

Adjust the cocoa/cacao powder to suit your taste or protein powder. If using chocolate protein powder you may want to use less cocoa/cacao powder. Same goes for the sweetener. I use a Garden of Life Raw Protein Powder at the moment that doesn't contain any sweetener so I added a bit to mine (sometimes I use hemp protein powder instead). If your strawberries are super sweet you may not need any extra sweetener. With all this in mind, adjust ingredients depending on your circumstances.


Enjoy!