Tag Archives: vegan

Vegan Chicken Curry

Last week in my Instagram account some of you may have seen a photo I posted of a vegan chicken curry recipe I had made. I have been wanting to share this recipe for the past week!

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The recipe is my take on my dad’s chicken curry recipe which he used to make when I was a kid. We didn’t eat a lot of meat in the house (like ever, since my mom is a vegetarian and did the majority of cooking) but every now and then he would bust out the pressure cooker, some chicken, his spices and spend hours making this delicious curry.

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Daddio!

My dad is incredibly charismatic, hardworking, serious but still has his silly and fun side and he instilled so many characteristics my sister and I carry with us today.

My parents are now jet-setters. I think I might have mentioned that once or twice before, but they are. My dad is a professor of engineering at a private technical school up here in Michigan and he takes a sabbatical every year and teaches overseas. My mom, retired from secondary education, goes with him because, well, why would she stay here in the cold by herself? So I pretty much don’t see my parents from about December-June each year. It’s hard, sure, but I just think of how they finally get to have time together, seeing the world! Plus he gets to teach in a far more relaxed environment every where else in the world than America where stress and long hours are the norm.

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Parents at my wedding

I miss my parents a lot – a little more than usual – and realized that I missed just having a comfort meal with them. My sister and I can each probably name off 10 things my mom makes that we absolutely love that we consider comfort food. But for both of us, my dad’s chicken curry was by far our favorite thing he made for us (well, ok aside from his famous Sunday French Toast).

I emailed my dad and asked for his recipe, but he’s been so busy teaching, so I decided to try to take a stab at making his curry with vegan chicken. And I have to say, it turned out pretty well! I used Gardein Chicken Scallopini as the protein, but you could easily use tofu if that isn’t your thing. Meatatarians can of course use chicken.

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Just a few simple ingredients and this was ready to eat in about 45 min., including inactive time. I remember it took my dad a few hours to put his chicken curry together since he’d let the chicken marinade, then cook in the pressure cooker, he’d also make the garam masala fresh. I always make a giant batch of masala so I had that on hand, and using vegan chicken meant no pressure cooker!

So my version might not be exactly like his, but it certainly was comfort food for me and reminded me of Saturday night dinners at home.

And, it felt like maybe all of us weren’t so far away from each other.

Vegan “Chicken” Curry
 
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A vegan take on South Indian chicken curry
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups meatless chicken breast protein (Gardein Chicken Scallopini or similar; about four scallopini pieces), thawed slightly and cut into cubes/pieces
  • 2 tbsp lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • ½-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped (1 small onion or ½ medium onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp (or more if you desire!) garam masala (make your own or buy store bought)
  • 1¼ cup tomato sauce (3/4 of a 15-oz. can)
  • ½ cup lite coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. For the marinade:
  2. Combine chicken pieces, garlic and ginger paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt into a small bowl. Stir to coat all pieces. Cover bowl with saran wrap and set aside for 15-20 min.
  3. For the curry:
  4. Add olive oil in a saucepan or large skillet until heated. Add onion and sprinkle with pinch of salt to help sweat them out. Cook until 2-3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Next add the garlic and ginger and cook 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add tomato sauce and garam masala. Cover and cook 5 minutes until simmering. Give it a quick taste, add more garam masala if needed.
  7. Add chicken pieces back in, leftover marinade and all, stir, cover and cook 5-8
  8. minutes.
  9. Add the coconut milk, stir, give it another taste and add more salt or spices as needed. Leave uncovered and cook another 5 minutes.
  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve over rice, quinoa or grain of choice.
Notes
Could substitute Greek yogurt instead of using coconut milk if you want it vegetarian vs. vegan
Could use chicken instead of vegan chicken for the carnivores!

What comfort foods remind you of home?

“Chicken” Noodle Soup

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Polar Vortex 2.0 is in full force! Again. It’s rather annoying and inconvenient if you ask me. People who start giving me the “Well, you live in Michigan, Aparna. What do you expect?” crap will get my death stare. I realize where I live, thank you, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it any more or less. However, I do realize that complaining about it doesn’t change the fact that we probably haven’t seen the worst of winter yet in Michigan. Please, don’t throw things at me for saying that.

So in and effort to ensure we are warmed to the soul and don’t end up looking like this…:

…we’ve been eating a lot of soup. Now, this can get challenging and tricky when you’re like me and want to make sure everything you’re currently cooking – soup included – fits into the whole “let’s be friggan’ healthy” lifestyle.

Let’s not forget that I live with someone who, like any normal person would, gets bored with certain recipes when they go on repeat each week, so I need to keep things interesting. While I don’t mind having a hot bowl of chili or minestrone or Pho every night, REB isn’t as inclined or excited by it. I don’t think. I’m sure he’s starting to get to his limit of “Seriously? No carbs or cheese again tonight?”, but he’s being a good sport and he’s also being highly supportive. Then again I do most, if not all, of the cooking so is he really in a position to complain? I keed, I keed! I appreciate his feedback and input probably the most out of everyone since he has to eat whatever I end up making. Or at least try to. I’m getting off point.

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He made a very good point to me earlier in the week though. He told me to quit trying to be all food-bloggy-fancy-schmancy and just make something simple but flavorful and filling. I said to myself, “Hey I can’t do that!” and that’s how this soup came to be. Yes, it was yet another soup recipe I made during the week, but it was simple, full of flavor and actually pretty OK for you in terms of fiber, protein, fat, etc.The biggest factor: it was filling and good enough that if you went back for seconds or thirds, you wouldn’t feel so guilty doing so. Plus it’s a classic! Whenever I think of chicken noodle soup I think of the Campbell’s soup commercial with the kid who turns into a snowman from playing outside but a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup from his mom warms him right up!

I listened to him and kept this soup and its ingredients pretty simple but it was perfect. And while we are no where near the end of winter here in Michigan, we at least have some options to help keep us warm and satiated. With that in mind, my complaints about the cold will get toned down a bit.

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But don’t worry. I’ll probably complain a whole bunch about the heat once we get into the dead of July. I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

“Chicken” Noodle Soup
 
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Beat the cold winter blues with a hot bowl of this classic soup fit for vegetarians and vegans alike!
Author:
Recipe type: soup, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ small white onion, diced
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into discs
  • 2 celery stalks, wiped clean, halved length-wise and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon (about 4-5 sprigs) thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 cups (32-oz. carton) low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 oz. whole wheat wide egg noodles
  • 1½ cups (about 24 strips) frozen meatless chicken strips (Simple Truth brand or similar), thawed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. tart by heating olive oil in a stock pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme and stir well
  3. Cook until softened but not browned
  4. Next add vegetable broth, stock and water and stir
  5. Bring soup to a boil, will take about 10-12 minutes to bring to boil
  6. While soup is coming to boil, take the frozen meatless griller strips, place in microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds-to-1 minute or until thawed. Cut strips into bite size pieces
  7. Once soup is boiling, add the meatless chicken and noodles and cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Ladle 1 or 1½ cups into bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy!

 

Lentil Chili

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One my best friends, Allison, lives 752 miles away in Oxford, MS (home of Ole Miss, the Manning’s and my Rebels. Hotty Toddy!). She and I have been friends since we were 12 years old when training bras were a big deal, school supplies translated to Lisa Frank, three-way calling was the “in” thing,  and our crushes on boys only lasted one week.

I hate that she lives so far away! It’s pretty dumb. Then again, she probably thinks it’s pretty dumb I chose to live in a state shaped like a mitten where it gets colder than ever, while she gets to maintain a garden in February like it’s no big deal – pretty badass if you ask me.

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The point is, she’s one of my rocks. I talk to her every. single. day. You heard that right.

Friends are essential. Especially ones you’ve known more than half your life. I was in her wedding, she was in mine. She’s heard me cry, I’ve heard her cry. She’s vented to me about what upsets her and I’ve vented to her (sometimes multiple times a day) about what’s bothering me.

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One thing she and I definitely do is exchange recipes. We’re both big foodies and literally spend hours talking about food, coming up with recipes, giving each other tips or suggestions on how to alter a recipe, what flavors would work and more. We’ve even thought about starting a blog together. She’s all classic-southern-comfort-cooking-but-also-healthy-ethnic-dish (or feasts as I call ‘em) gal, and I’ve got the vegetarian-health-nut-freak-thing on my end. Together, our kitchens are unstoppable!

So this lentil chili was born as a result of one of our chats. It’s her lentil soup recipe and my vegetarian chili recipe. Together they’re married in soup harmony. Equal soup rights, y’all. Support it.

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It turned out boss, and made enough to feed an army. And if I could, I’d fly her up here to eat it with me. Then we could laugh, eat good soup together, talk for hours and it wouldn’t seem like she’s 752 miles away.

Lentil Chili
 
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My best friends lentil soup recipe combined with my vegetarian chili recipe. Together, it’s an unstoppable force of flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Chili, Soups
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can fire roasted diced tomato
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked through, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 15-oz. can peeled, crushed tomato
  • ½ cup meatless crumbles (Boca brand or similar)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start by heating olive oil in a large stock pot.
  2. When heated, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
  3. Then add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Next add carrot, green and red bell peppers and cook until peppers and carrot are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the drained beans and vegetable stock and cook another 10 minutes.
  6. Then add in the lentils, cover and let the soup come to simmer, another 8-10 minutes.
  7. Add your spices: cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and also add in the frozen corn kernels. Give the whole soup a good stir.
  8. Finally add the crushed tomato, meatless crumbles, salt and pepper and stir well.
  9. Cover and bring to small bubble and then simmer 30-35 minutes.
  10. Top with your favorite garnishes and enjoy!

 

Grilled Tempeh Reubens

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I was sick last week.

I hate admitting when that happens. I hate being sick. I hate feeling useless, not being able to work out, not sleeping well because I can’t breathe, taking half or full sick days and feeling useless at work. The whole thing is just dumb and inconvenient.

I had not been sick since before the wedding. That would be early 2011 – maybe earlier. Remember how I used to travel every two weeks for work and I would be gone for two weeks? Airplanes are the best place for your immune system when you travel a lot. My immune system was amazing and I think now that I’m not traveling as frequently it finally caught up with me and was all, “Trololol. I’m gonna stop working!”

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My immune system was a hag.

No amount of medicine, daily vitamins and water I drank could prevent the nast when coworkers and everyone else don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.

So I’ll get to the point of this post. I made tempeh reubens right before I got sick, but knew my being sick was inevitable. I had a feeling I would lose my sense of taste, smell and lose my appetite.

But on the up side, it was another Meatless Monday success, that’s for sure.

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I loosely followed a recipe from meatlessmondays.com and it was more work than it should have been, but overall they tasted good. You can definitely make necessary shortcuts if you’re pressed on time, because there’s a lot of “combine and chill for 2 hours” crap happening in this recipe.

And when I’m sick, patience is the last thing I have.

I will say this: I have a small issue with tempeh. I realize this was probably the best vegetarian protein to use, but it really is not my favorite or top choice. It’s the taste. I kind of dislike the taste of it. The texture is weird, it looks weird and it has a weird after taste. I might try making these with portobello mushroom caps or something next time just so they taste more meaty than…weird.

Man, I’m making this recipe sound like a whole lot of win, aren’t I? :P
At least REB liked them. In the end, that’s what mattered.

Grilled Tempeh Reubens
 
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A vegetarian twist on a classic deli sandwich. Recipe adapted from meatlessmonday.com
Author:
Recipe type: sandwiches
Cuisine: vegetarian, sandwiches
Serves: Makes 4 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • RUSSIAN DRESSING:
  • ¼ cup Vegenaise (I used this because I don’t like mayo. Never have, never will. You can use mayo if you’d prefer though. Or, use Greek yogurt as a great substitute)
  • 1 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1½ tablespoons capers, drained and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet whole pickles, finely chopped
  • ½ whole lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE SLAW:
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • *Note: you can buy prepared coleslaw or sauerkraut if you prefer
  • FOR THE TEMPEH MARINADE
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • FOR THE SANDWICHES:
  • 8 oz. tempeh (I used Lightlife brand in the Soy variety), sliced in ½ inch thick slices
  • 8 slices Rye bread (2 slices per sandwich)
  • Nonstick spray
  • ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 slices Provolone or Swiss cheese (or vegan cheese of your choice)
  • Vegan butter (or regular if you prefer) to help brown sandwiches
Instructions
  1. SLAW:
  2. combine the vinegar, cabbage and salt. Stir, cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (this will help break down the cabbage)
  3. DRESSING:
  4. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours
  5. TEMPEH:
  6. Slice the tempeh into ½ inch thick slices
  7. Bring 8 cups of water to boil on stove. Add a pinch of salt when boiling then add tempeh and boil for 10 minutes.
  8. MARINADE:
  9. While the tempeh is boiling, combine all spices (coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, allspice, cinnamon, garlic salt, ground ginger) in a freezer bag or large bag. Zip close, and shake to combine. Add water and oil to bag. Once tempeh is done boiling, add to marinade, shake to coat each slice then chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.
  10. TO MAKE THE SANDWICHES:
  11. Heat your stove top grill or pan with nonstick spray over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the tempeh and cook 3-4 minutes on each side until browned and warmed through. Transfer to plate and set aside.
  12. ASSEMBLING SANDWICHES:
  13. Layer a slice of bread with dressing, slaw, cheese (optional), cooked tempeh. Take another slice of bread, spread some of the dressing and close sandwich together. Heat pan again with nonstick spray, or vegan butter. Place sandwich in pan and grill until browned. Or, if you have added cheese, until the cheese is melted. Repeat with the other three sandwiches until all are made.
  14. Additional notes:
  15. You can make the slaw and dressing the night before or well ahead of time and keep in the fridge to keep cool. You can also marinade the tempeh a day in advance to help speed up the process when you want to prepare your sandwiches.

 

 

Sesame Tofu

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So I’ve been kind of bummed the past few days. It’s nothing major, but it still has me bummed. Due to class schedules of both REB and my sister-in-law, looks like the Vermont trip won’t be happening this year.

My in-laws have their time share every year during the 14th week of the year, which in normal cases would be April 1-5. That’s what we originally planned for. However, the time share folks consider a week to be a full Sunday-to-Sunday week, which in the case of 2013, was Jan 6-13. So long story short, week 14 of 2013 in their eyes is actually April 8-12. That’s REB’s last week of classes for his first term and my sister-in-law’s professor grades based on attendance and that week is a big one for her, too.

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I think REB and I might go some where else the first week of April though, just he and I, so we can still have time together (although we can’t seem to agree on any destination at this point :\). That part doesn’t have me bummed. What mostly had me kind of sad is that I wouldn’t get to see Vermont in the winter or have a full week with my family-in-law since my parents are overseas until mid-April. I’ve seen the place during peak week in the fall, but I’ve heard winters are just as gorgeous. But the great thing about time shares is we can go any year we want.

So the point of this post? I wanted something delicious to eat for dinner after my workout, and I was bored of wallowing, so I decided to make sesame tofu. REB and I have made variations of Asian dishes before, and we usually replace the meat with tofu. So far we’ve been pretty successful; the General’s tofu being the biggest successor.

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I think the sesame tofu either comes in first or ties for first. I see myself making this recipe more. It was slightly sweet, had a hint of spice and that dark smokey taste of the sesame oil really rounded out the whole dish.

The combination of flavors plus the fact I used a pretty new plate I found at Home Goods instantly made me feel better and stop having first world problems. The hug from REB when he got home from class didn’t hurt either.

Sesame Tofu
 
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Slightly sweet, a hint of spice and a dark smokey taste of sesame oil bring this whole dish together.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish, tofu
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 block 14-oz., extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup Lite soy sauce (or you can use tamari)
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda no calorie sweetener (or regular or brown sugar is fine; agave nectar or honey would be good too)
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons whole sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup scallion, chopped (about 2 or 3 stalks)
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2½ teaspoons grated ginger (use less if ginger isn’t your thing)
  • 1½ cups broccoli florets
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili paste (Sambal Oelek brand or similar)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of tofu marinade
Instructions
  1. For the tofu:
  2. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and mirin in a shallow bowl until combined. Add cubed tofu and stir to coat each piece. Set aside and let marinade for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a dry pan, add sesame seeds and heat until toasted and aromatic (about 3-5 minutes). Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. When tofu is ready, reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade, drain the rest and lightly pat the tofu to dry.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large deep skillet and wait for it to get hot. Add tofu cubes in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to bowl of sesame seeds and toss to coat, and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add the other tablespoon of oil and cook scallion, garlic and ginger until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the broccoli, chili paste and water and cook another 3-5 minutes.
  8. Toss the tofu back into the pan with the reserved marinade and cook everything together for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately over brown rice or quinoa.
  10. Optional garnish: finely chopped scallion, parsley or sesame seeds

 

Cookbook Challenge #2 – Quinoa Pilaf

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I brought Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction cookbook to work with me and read through it as I had my morning cup of coffee. I ended up looking at her recipe for cranberry-cashew biryani and knew I needed to make it.

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However, as much as I love her recipes and love that in this cookbook everything is 400 calories or less per serving, I wanted to change the recipe to fit my taste buds better.

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My sister and I were emailing each other all day talking about recipes, our mom’s recipes, cooking and planning my visit to Chicago in March (hooray!). I told her about this recipe and how I wanted to change it to fit my dietary needs. She reminded me that “biryani” is actually all spice. It does not usually have dried fruit in it, and I wanted to use some kind of dried fruit. So we both realized what I wanted to make, was really a pulao or pilaf.

The biggest changes I made were the cooking process in general, using quinoa over Basmati rice to help keep it low-carb for me, and using dried apricots instead of cranberries.

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garam masala made fresh

If you didn’t know, apricots and cumin are two of the most yummy flavors when combined. Next time you make a curry dish with cumin, add a little dried apricot in there – your world will change completely.

This dish turned out amazing. How do I know that? When REB got home from class and had it for dinner, he said, and I quote, “Whole Foods should have this in their hot bar.”

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This is how I know this recipe is a keeper. And how I know he’s a keeper too ;)

Quinoa Pilaf
 
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A low-carb twist on classic Vegetable Pulao that uses Indian spices, mixed vegetables and dried fruit. Adapted from Isa Chandra (and my mom)!
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Indian, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetable blend (my blend has carrots, peas, green beans and corn kernels)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (I make mine fresh, but you can use store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup unsalted whole cashews, toasted
  • Cilantro (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a rice cooker or medium pot, cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. I used ¾ cup quinoa, with 1½ cups water in my rice cooker.
  2. Add the chopped dried apricots directly to the quinoa so they cook together — the quinoa took about 20-25 minutes to cook in the cooker. May take longer on stovetop.
  3. When the quinoa is cooked, pour into a bowl and set aside
  4. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.
  5. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, cover the pot with a lid and let the seeds start to pop.
  6. Next add the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for one minute.
  7. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, garam masala, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes and stir well for one minute.
  8. Add the tomato paste and water and stir.
  9. Cover the dish and let it come to a boil and reduce so the curry is slightly thickened and most of the water is gone- about 3-5 minutes.
  10. While the curry is boiling away, toast the cashews in a small, dry pan until golden
  11. When the curry has reduced, add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir well to combine all the flavors. Give it a taste and adjust your spices if needed.
  12. Toss in the toasted cashews.
  13. Serve immediately with pickle, chutney or additional curry dish.
  14. Optional garnish: chopped cilantro

 

After doing the math, I found that this recipe was only 229 calories per serving, almost 5g of fiber and almost 8g of protein. I think next time I might add some garbanzo beans or mushrooms to up the ante on the protein.

What are some of your favorite cookbook recipes?

Resolutioner No More

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I didn’t make any resolutions for 2013. I have that list of things I want to do before I’m 30 (9 months and counting. I need to step up my game and get crack-a-lacking!) and while some health related items are on there, I think that list is sufficient and as close to resolutions as I’ll get.

I used to be one of those “resolutioners” are the gym. You know, the one who signs up for a membership at big, corporate gym on January 1 and says to themselves, “I’m going to work out every single day, not eat and I’ll lose weight. Hooray!”

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Not so much hooray. It would only last about a month. I have a gym membership now at a much smaller, locally-owned place, sure, but I haven’t been there since the holidays. I’ve been working out at home in our basement gym, attending Russa yoga classes downtown near my work, and trying to change things up to keep the workouts interesting. I am definitely one of those people who gets bored very easily. If I change it up, it actually makes working out tolerable and fun ;)

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I know it’s not easy to get your butt to the gym. One of my friends once told me, “The hardest part is lacing up your shoes.” and once you do that, you’re set. How I feel about working out, especially at a gym now, is a complete 180 from before.

I hated going to the gym back then, and quickly realized that I had signed up for something I wasn’t 100% committed to doing. I wanted to lose the weight, but wasn’t prepared to do anything that comes with wanting that to happen. I wasn’t prepared to up the intensity of my workouts, do both cardio and strength training to get a full body workout, eat healthier, cut out junk, etc. So like a lot of people, I stopped going and then bitched and moaned that they were ripping me off.

A lot of you have read my journey to wanting to be healthy. It wasn’t easy but I’m finally in a place I can appreciate. Do I have bad days? Yes. Do I have great days? Yes. Do I sometimes get too obsessed about caloric intake, lack of protein, fat and carbs consumed and calories burned? Absolutely. BUT! I don’t stop. I work out. I cut out the junk. And I definitely eat better and as a result, feel better. I also know results won’t happen overnight. It took me a LONG time to figure that one out ;)

One way of keeping healthy is one of my favorite things to do: making new recipes that are healthier forms or vegetarian/vegan forms of a classic recipe.

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So now onto the food and real purpose of this post. Stuffed peppers are a classic recipe in my opinion. We have made them before, but we kind of made them blindly and didn’t really measure out ingredients, or think about what kinds of healthy ingredients we could put into them.

I lightened up this newer recipe and it ended up being completely vegan. And delicious.

Stuffed Peppers with Curry-Spiced Quinoa
 
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A healthy twist on a classic recipe using quinoa, meatless crumbles and spices! This can easily be made into a meat dish or just vegetarian with the addition of cheese.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Entree
Cuisine: vegetarian, vegan, main dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 whole medium-sized red bell peppers, halved lengthwise
  • Non-stick spray
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups vegan meatless crumbles (I used Boca brand)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, warmed or thawed
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons vegan worchestershire sauce (I use Wizards brand found at Whole Foods)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 dashes Franks red hot sauce (or Tobasco if you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Parlsey (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on package (I cooked mine the night before) and set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 350°
  3. Fill a large pot with water and let it come to a boil
  4. Stand the bell peppers up and cut down the middle, lengthwise so they are halved. Take out the seeds and membranes. Arrange all 8 halves in a 9 x 13 baking dish
  5. Once the water is boiling add the bell pepper halves (4 at a time) into the water and blanch for 3-5 minutes. Remove, drain the water out and arrange back in the dish. Set aside.
  6. In a large skillet, spray the non-stick spray and let it heat over medium heat.
  7. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly tender.
  8. Next add the meatless crumbles and let them warm through in the pan.
  9. Add the water and stir. Let the whole thing cook away for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Add the tomatoes and corn, followed by the garlic, Worcestershire sauce and all the spices.
  11. Lastly, add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine.
  12. If the mixture gets too dried out, you can add a little more water.
  13. When everything is well mixed, give it a taste and adjust your spices and add salt and pepper accordingly (if needed).
  14. Remove from heat and distribute evenly among the halved bell pepper boats
  15. Bake the dish at 350°F for 20 minutes then heat under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned and crisped.

The best thing about this dish is that it’s under 300 calories per bell pepper. You really can’t beat that! So if you are a resolutioner, start the year off right with this healthy, low calorie recipes that is incredibly filling!

And while I’m not quite the “resolutioner” now as I was way back when, I do still set goals for myself. I just know I can’t expect them to be achieved, or see the results overnight. What I do know is that I plan to make 2013 rock as much as 2012 did!


Do/Did you set any resolutions or goals for yourself for 2013?

Soup Sunday: Very Vegetarian Chili

 

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I had a weekend of cooking, relaxing and all around happiness. I’m mostly happy about this thing I’ve decided to start.
I’m starting what I’m calling Soup Sunday. As many of you might already know, I eat soup almost every day for lunch. It’s quick and easy, low carb, healthy and filling! Last week I made the Spiced Vegetable Lentil Soup and the entire thing lasted a week for my lunch (one cup per day). I decided to try making another soup on Sunday and this time I made vegetarian chili.

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Chili is one of those quintessential winter-time foods for me. It’s so easy to make and you can basically let it simmer all day either on the stove or in your crock pot and you can throw whatever you want into it. I guess that’s true with most any soup really.

Here’s what I used to make it:
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1/2 cup red onion, chopped
•2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves. Add more if you want!)
•1 carrot, peeled and diced
•1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced (that’s about half the pepper)
•1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced (that’s about half the pepper)
•1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes w/ green chilies (liquid and all)
•1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
•1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
•1/2 can (15 oz.) corn kernels, drained and rinsed
•1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
•2 cups vegetable stock
•2 tablespoons tomato paste
•1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
•1 teaspoon chili powder
•1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1 teaspoon paprika
•1 teaspoon ground cumin
•1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
•1/2 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
•1 cup Boca Ground Meatless Crumbles (or you could use tempeh or even tofu I’m sure!)

Lots of ingredients for a lot of soup!

Start by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add the onion and carrots and cook until soft (5-8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for one minute so it doesn’t burn. Next add the bell peppers to start cooking those down. Once they’re a little soft, add the can of tomatoes and the two types of beans and corn. Then add the vegetable stock, tomato paste, spices and stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Then uncover and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes. Near the end of the cooking process, add the crushed tomatoes, stir, and then add the Boca crumbles. Cook another 15-20 minutes or until the Boca is warmed through and the soup is thick like a chili should be (well for me anyway -ha!). You can adjust the spices before serving.


You can garnish with the usual: cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream. But both REB and I wanted to keep it healthy so we just added a small dollop of Greek yogurt (a great substitute for sour cream in my opinion) and some cilantro. You could also cut out the yogurt to make this entire soup vegan! It was the perfect garnish to cool us down since parts of the chili had quite a bit of kick! Just how I like it!


This made quite a bit, but again, that was kind of the point. The best thing? I cup is under 200 calories!

I can’t wait to try another soup recipe next week for Soup Sunday! Enjoy!

Is there a soup recipe you have that you think I should try?
Send me a link and maybe I’ll give it a try!

Presidents Day Soup

I think I’ve mentioned before that I started a new job this year. In my previous job, I traveled almost every two weeks and was away a lot. While it was fun and a perfect time in my life to travel and see the country, near the end, I was ready to just be home and actually live my life. I started a new job in September working for a not-for-profit company located right downtown in Ann Arbor. The job is great, pretty laid back, I can take the bus to work and I’m home for dinner every night with my favorites! It’s been working out so well. Another added benefit? Having random days off in observance of holidays, like President’s Day today! I spent the day catching up on sleep, hanging out with the pup, and making a most fabulous soup for lunch.

One of my best friends, who lives in Mississippi, made a lentil soup last week and was nice enough to share her recipe with me. I made a few changes to fit my needs a little better, and I also scaled it down so I wouldn’t have a ton of leftovers.


The only lentils I’ve ever cooked with is for Indian cooking to make dal. I’ve actually never made a lentil soup with brown lentil that needed to really cook for a long time. The other star ingredients?


Fire roasted tomatoes and ground cumin! That plus other spices made this soup spicy, hearty, filling and full of flavor! You’re sure to love it. The great thing about soup is that you can throw anything you want into it. If you have leftover veggies, throw them in! I kept this soup simple with just some root veggies, though.

Here’s what you need:
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1/2 cup brown lentils, picked through and rinsed under cold water
•1 carrot, diced
•1/2 cup red onion, diced
•1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and cubed
•1 teaspoon garlic, minced
•1 14.5-oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (you can use the kind with roasted garlic, or any flavor you want)
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1/2 teaspoon paprika
•1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
•1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1/2 teaspoon pepper
•2 cups vegetable stock
•1/2 cup water (more as needed)

In a large pot, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. When it’s hot, add in the onions, carrots and potatoes. Cook about 5-8 minutes until so they start to cook and get a little soft (the potatoes will take longer to soften, but they’ll cook completely through the duration of the recipe). Add the minced garlic and stir for 1 minute to allow it to cook and blend in with the flavors.

Add the can of tomatoes (liquid and all!), vegetable stock, spices and stir well. Cover and bring to a boil (about 15-20 minutes). Once it’s boiling, simmer partially covered for another 15 minutes. After that, you may need to add more liquid if you notice the soup getting too thick. You can add 1/2 cup water,  then add in the lentils, leave uncovered and cook for 40-45 minutes or until the lentils are soft. If you notice the soup losing too much liquid, you can add more water, 1/2 cup at a time until it’s the soup-y consistency you want.

Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy! Optional garnishes: chopped cilantro or parsley, freshly squeezed lemon juice or drizzle of olive oil. Serve with crusty bread or roll. This should serve about 4 people.

OK so this soup might not be presidential, but I do know it was delicious and perfect for a relaxing day at home.

What are your favorite flavor combinations in soup?

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Tofu Marsala

We had some leftover tofu in our fridge, so we decided to make something with it that wasn’t Asian-themed. Our usual go to is to make General’s Tofu, but we had that last night, so we wanted to find a recipe that used tofu differently.

We found a recipe online for Tofu Marsala and it actually turned out really well! This was the recipe we followed the basic concept from. We didn’t use a whole block of tofu since we were using leftovers, but we made the sauce the same amount. I could have had that sauce entirely on its own, it was so good!

Here’s what you need!
•1 block of firm tofu (we used half a block) – cut into long rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. We actually made our 1 inch thick and it seemed to work fine
•1/4 cup all purpose flour
•1/4 cup corn starch
•1/4 teaspoon S&P each
•1/2 cup dry marsala wine
•1 cup vegetable broth (we used low sodium)
•8 oz. Cremini or Baby ‘Bella mushrooms, sliced (just a small container at the store)
•2 medium shallots, minced
•2-4 tablespoon of olive oil (more or less depending)
•1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (not ground)
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•2 additional teaspoons corn starch (this will be used as a thickener to the sauce, separate from the 1/4 cup earlier)

First preheat your oven to 300F

Then we prepared our ingredients. We minced up the shallots and put them in a bowl. Then with a damp paper towel, we wiped off the mushrooms, took the stalks off, then sliced them up and put them in a bowl. Then we took the leftover tofu we had (half a block) and just it in half so we had two 1-inch pieces. It was kind of thick, but it was all good.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, corn starch and salt and pepper. Rinse the tofu and pat it dry. Then dredge it in the dry mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat up some oil (about 2-3 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium high (our stupid stove required it to be high :P) heat. Once it’s hot, put the tofu into the pan and let it cook on all sides until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes. Ours took about 5-7 minutes since we wanted it extra crispy). Transfer it to a baking dish and put it in the oven to keep warm. This was good we did this because I think it helped cook the tofu a bit more since ours was thicker than suggested.

In the same skillet, reduce the heat (if you need to) add more oil if needed (another tablespoon) and add the shallots and dried thyme leaves. Stir them constantly until they’re soft (about 2-4 minutes). Add in the mushrooms and stirring frequently, cook them until they’re tender and lightly brown (ours took about 5-8 minutes).

Then add in the marsala wine. The smell is unbelievable when it hits the pan. It’s a kind of a sour, pungent smell, but it smells so wonderful with the shallots and mushrooms! Stir and let the pan come to a simmer so the wine can reduce.

In a 2-cup measuring cup (one of those Pyrex thingies) measure out the two teaspoons of corn starch, the tomato paste and the vegetable broth and whisk. This creates a sort of slurry or thickening agent. Once you’ve whisked it, add it to the pan, stirring the mushrooms as you do. Let this sauce reduce and thicken.

We served it up with some store bought vegetable risotto, took the tofu out the oven and spooned the sauce over it.

There are definitely things we would change. While this was ridiculously delicious, I think next time we’re going to try it with tempeh or seitan. Both have more flavor from the get-go than tofu does. I mean, the great thing about tofu is that it will taste like what ever your flavor with it, but we wanted some kind of flavor from the beginning. We also think we’re going to mix in some herbs with the dredging mixture. And also use eggs and breadcrumbs for a more substantial crust. I think this recipe is technically vegan, but I think if we could create a better crust, it would be even more yummy.

But like I said, it was delicious!! Definitely give it a try and if you find some other way to serve it up, come back and share it! I’m just glad we have another recipe we can make to get some good protein!

What are some of your favorite recipes where you substitute the meat with tofu, seitan or tempeh?

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