I shared a tasty recipe for slow cooked apple butter on Sofab Foods. This super simple recipe infuses classic apple pie spices into one of my very favorite homemade preserves. Visit Sofab Food for the recipe!
If you're looking to kick sugary or gluten-heavy breakfasts to the curb I encourage you to consider the sweet potato bowl. Slightly starchy root veggies provide a deeply satisfying base for a morning meal that is both hearty and delicious - especially with the help of few flavorful accoutrements.
For me, breakfast has long been a challenging meal. I grew up reaching for bagels or bowls of cereal, and even after spending my adulthood surrounded by brilliant food people I still struggle with finding ways to get away from that morning carb habit. It wasn't until I started leaning on sweet potatoes that I really got into a healthier breakfast groove.
It isn't always easy to set aside the time to make (or even eat!) a hot breakfast, but I almost always feel better when I do. I've managed to streamline the process a bit by cheating with frozen veggies, but you can make this even better by throwing some fresh kale into the steamer or roasting your own sweet potatoes ahead of time. Try swapping out kale for any other green vegetable. Chard, spinach, or asparagus would be great.
The sweet potatoes could also be replaced with another root veggie. Beets, turnips, or red potatoes would all be delicious ways to mix this recipe up. If frying an egg in the morning turns out to be too big a hassle, try using hard-boiled eggs instead or swapping the egg for a quicker pre-cooked protein like tofu, black beans, or grilled chicken.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
Makes one big serving
- 1 cup sweet potato, peeled, diced, and roasted (recipe here)
- 1/2 cup spinach, steamed
- 1/2 cup avocado, diced
- 1 egg, fried
- Optional garnish: lime juice, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, or Japanese mayo
- Prepare the sweet potato and spinach ahead of time in large batches. You can roast your own sweet potatoes at 350F for about an hour and steam your own spinach over simmering water for about 2 minutes. If available, you can use frozen pre-cooked sweet potato and spinach instead.
- When you are ready to eat, quickly heat the sweet potato and spinach in a microwave or toaster oven.
- Meanwhile, fry up a fresh egg (directions here) and dice up half an avocado.
- Throw it all together in a bowl and top with whatever garnishes you like. My personal favorite combination is lime, soy sauce, and a splash of hot sauce.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #NewWayToSparkle #CollectiveBias
There is something special about kicking up one's heals with a glass full of something sweet and bubbly. For those who choose to forego the typical fizzy libations the holiday season can present somewhat of a challenge. Creative soft drinks, like the recipe I'm sharing today, are a great way to include guests of all ages and all beverage preferences to participate in the revelry of holiday parties, social gatherings, and simple celebrations.
It's a new way to sparkle.
This recipe combines Lime flavored DASANI® Sparkling with a sweet and tart homemade cranberry lime sorbetto. DASANI® Sparkling has a mild natural flavor, plenty of peppy carbonation, and most importantly for this recipe, no added sugar. That gives you the ability to modify the drink to your own taste as far as sweetness goes. Add as much or as little sorbetto as you please to craft a quick custom mocktail that is light, refreshing, and completely party-worthy.
I've included a recipe for handmade sorbetto but store bought sorbetto or sorbet will work nicely too. Try making this recipe your own by using a different flavor of sorbetto or another flavor of DASANI® Sparkling.
Cranberry Lime Sorbetto
Makes about 3 cups
- 1 10-oz (284g) bag frozen whole cranberries
- 4 cups water, divided
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 cup sugar
- Combine cranberries with 3 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove cranberries and cooking liquid from saucepan and set aside to cool.
- Add remaining 1 cup water and sugar to saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, stir, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Let ingredients cool for about 15 minutes. Place cranberries with cooking liquid in blender and puree for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
- Push pureed cranberries through fine mesh strainer to remove seeds and solid portions. Discard solids and combine liquid with water and sugar mixture (simple syrup).
- Chill mixture in refrigerator for at least one hour before pouring into ice cream maker. Churn 45 minutes, or according to machine directions.
- Freeze churned sorbetto for at least 4 hours before using/serving.
Cranberry Lime Sorbetto Fizz
Makes two small servings
- 2-4 scoops cranberry lime sorbetto
- 1 12-ounce can DASANI® Sparkling Lime
- 2 slices lime, for garnish (optional)
- 6 fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
- Scoop 1 or 2 scoops cranberry lime sorbetto into highball glasses. 1 scoop will lend mild sweetness. Add 2 for a sweeter drink.
- Pour 6 ounces DASANI® Sparkling Lime into each glass.
- Garnish with lime and cranberries. Serve immediately.
I purchased the ingredients for this recipe at my local Target. You can find plenty of flavors of DASANI® Sparkling in their soft drink section. Dasani recently added a 20-ounce can of DASANI® Sparkling to their line which you'll find over near the checkout. That's the perfect size for grabbing on your way out the door.
C and I spend quite a lot of time at Target these days. Being able to make one stop to pick up groceries, go clothes shopping, or even scope out art supplies is pretty key to our existence right now. It helps that C loves exploring the store too - so it isn't a battle to get him to come with me.
Getting him to leave the toy section? That's another story.
Have fun with your mocktails! I hope this recipe will help make your celebrations a little sweeter! You can find even more fun recipes using DASANI® Sparkling here.
Once upon a time my husband and I went on a juice cleanse. Being the types of people who enjoy taking things past the point of reason, we decided that a 30-day cleanse would be a great way to start off our relationship with vegetable juice. If you're going to do something a little crazy, why not go all the way, right?
The first week was awful. My head hurt. My stomach ached. I saw stars, used curse words a lot, and spent most of my time sleeping. Then, after six or seven days without solid food a fire lit beneath me. Suddenly I felt full of life. I was light on my feet and totally energized - a total juice convert. That energy kept up for a while, and as I became more and more inventive with my juice recipes I started to wonder if I'd ever go back to eating solid food again!
But then, a little less than a week from my thirty-day goal my juice cleanse was foiled. One might expect that I would have fallen victim to the usual troublemakers - like ice cream, cheeseburgers, or PIZZA! The truth was far less sexy. Of the many temptations I had encountered during my fast, the siren that finally slayed me was a simple one - a plain old steamed head of broccoli.
I was prepping the broccoli from our CSA delivery to be frozen when hunger struck. Glistening with steam and fresh from the pot, that luscious green vegetable just looked so good to me. I figured that just one bite couldn't hurt. Then I though, well, maybe even two would be OK. It wouldn't kill me to add a little salt and lemon, would it? Maybe a squirt of olive oil?
Ten minutes later the entire head of broccoli had disappeared and I didn't even want to think the word juice ever again. Since that day I've had a much more sincere appreciation for the delicious simplicity of cruciferous vegetables. While they are unforgettable steamed with salt and lemon, roasting these hearty veggies on a sheet pan is my very favorite way to enjoy them. In fact, they are so good this way that I could probably devour an entire sheet pan even without being on the hungry end of a juice cleanse.
Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
Makes around six 1-cup servings
This simple method for preparing broccoli and cauliflower can easily be dressed up or customized by adjusting the seasoning. For example, you might try adding garlic, ginger and red pepper to give the veggies and Asian flavor. A sprinkle of thyme, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper is a great way to give it an Italian flair.
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 lemon (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Toss the broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Spread the veggies over a sheet pan, then roast until tender (about 10 - 15 minutes)
- Remove from oven and squirt with lemon.
Oh avocado. You are a marvelous thing, aren't you? Mashed and swirled with lime you become a tasty chippable dip. Blended into soups or smoothies you lend a smooth richness on par with butter or cream. Spread on toast you are better than butter - adept at matching nearly any flavor you choose to accompany.
I think I love you, avocado. And so today I spread you, like the aforementioned dairy-based treat, over a hunk of grainy toast before covering you in black eyed peas. They are good luck, you know - particularly at New Years.
Texas Caviar Toast
Makes five 1-slice servings
- 5 large slices of whole grain bread
- 1 medium or large sized avocado, ripe (medium-soft)
- 1 1/2 cups Texas Caviar (recipe here)
- Salt, lime juice, or hot sauce, to taste (optional)
- Toast bread slices until golden-brown.
- Cut open avocado, remove pit, then score into thin slices using a butter knife. Scoop out flesh using a spoon, then spread over the toast slices with the butter knife.
- Divide the Texas Caviar evenly over the six slices of bread. Squirt with lime or hot sauce and sprinkle with salt if you so choose.
- Devour promptly.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Whole Foods Market
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but if you ask me, it is equally the most challenging. That is, it becomes challenging when you try to make sure it meets all of your very particular requirements for nutrition, speed, and taste. I actually have a very easy time eating breakfast - as long as it involves cream cheese and excessive carbohydrates. I know! I KNOW!
So I need to do better at breakfast. Another area that could use improvement is my overall nutrition. In my pre-baby life I ate well - like REALLY well. So well that I knew without a doubt that my nutritional needs were being met regularly and in the best possible way - through real food. These days I don't eat so well. I'm still adjusting to my new life as a mother and well, to be frank, still struggling to get my recently widened rear-end back in the kitchen!
Enter supplements, modern life's little shortcut to making sure that I DO get everything I need on a daily basis. I was invited to my local Whole Foods earlier this week to discuss what supplements might help get me back on track. With their resident Whole Body expert, Terri, I found a brand new probiotic and a solid multi-vitamin before delving into the world of fatty acid and antioxidant supplements, which are available in both pill and liquid form, and are present in food ingredients like flax oil and chia seeds.
If you'd like to create or revamp a supplement regimen I highly recommend visiting your local Whole Foods and speaking with someone in their Whole Body section to help get you started. It just so happens that this weekend is a great time to do so as Whole Foods is having a huge 3-Day sale on supplements. Between Friday, January 8 and Sunday, January 10 Whole Foods will be offering their entire selection of supplements at 25% off. I even have a $25 gift card to get one lucky reader started. (Giveaway widget below.)
So, back to breakfast. I know enough about health to realize that popping a few pills every morning is not enough. I need breakfast! I took advantage of this supplement education to work on a breakfast recipe that would be filling, nutritious, and most importantly really quick and easy to make. What better vehicle for protein, antioxidants, and soluble fiber is there than the great and powerful smoothie? And just to mix things up a little, this particular smoothie is meant to be enjoyed hot.
Hot smoothies. It's a thing.
Being new to protein powders I took Terri's recommendation to try out Whole Food's new Plant-Based Fit Protein in the Vanilla Cinnamon flavor. It's unsweetened and contains a few extra goodies, like green coffee extract, in addition to the totally vegan protein. I also used my own homemade Almond Milk in this recipe. When heated, it thickens the smoothie nicely and, of course, tastes way better than almond milk from the store. You can, however, use plain or sweetened store-bought Almond Milk and whatever variety of protein powder you like to make your smoothie.
Vanilla Almond Hot Breakfast Smoothie
Makes one 10-oz serving (or two 5-oz servings)
This hot smoothie recipe is packed with protein, antioxidants, and deliciousness. It can be enjoyed cold but in my opinion is much much better served hot. Try making a double or triple batch to keep in the fridge and heat on demand for instant breakfasts all week.
A note on sweetness: This was very sweet (like a dessert) when I added five dates along with my homemade Almond Milk which is also mildly sweet. You can add more or less dates and sweet or unsweetened Almond Milk to suit your own personal taste.
- 10 ounces (1 1/4 cup) Vanilla Almond Milk (recipe here)
- 1 scoop Whole Foods Plant-Based Fit Protein in Vanilla Cinnamon
- 2 to 5 pitted dates
- 1 tablespoon filtered virgin flax seed oil
- Combine ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth. (About three minutes)
- Transfer mixture to a saucepan and heat to taste. This drink can also be microwaved in a heat-safe mug in quick 30-second bursts until heated through.
I have a $25 gift card to share! Use the widget below to enter.
Not really. What happened next is that I ate them. That's all. Not too surprising really, but I thought now was as good a time as any to jump on the ridiculous post title wagon train.
Next week: Twenty Five Things You Didn't Know Could Be Done With Kale. Number Seven Will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
But seriously, I eat some or another combination of grains, green, sweet potato and avocado pretty much every week. Usually I throw everything in a rice bowl. Sometimes I even put an egg on top. While I was muching my favored lunch recently I wondered if there might be a fancier way to combine all of these ingredients.
Well folks, it's official. I'm on a butternut squash kick. It started innocently enough, with a slightly cheesey experiment in baked macaroni. Before I knew it I was roasting up a second squash, then another and another!
They are just so creamy, and nutty and... orange.
The first time I had a cauliflower steak was when Austin's Hyde Park Bar & Grill released a new menu at their South location. It's hard to find a good veggie main dish at most places, let alone one that is completely vegan. I was really surprised (and impressed) with how satisfying a thick chop of cauliflower could be, especially seasoned well and seated over a bed of spicy lentils. After becoming totally enamoured with Hyde Park's dish, I knew I had to come up with my own version.
Last week I finished my recipe for homemade spaghettios. Not to toot my own horn, but it was pretty stinking fantastic. Somehow, amidst the excitement of slurping down ring-shaped pasta bathed in cheesy tomato soup I misplaced the actual recipe. Can you believe that?
I have this yellow notebook that I keep all my handwritten recipes and notes in. I have searched my entire house, high and low, but there is no sign of the precious yellow notebook anywhere. Can you believe that? And on CHRISTMAS too. (hehe) Oh well, you'll just have to wait until I find the wily thing to get your reinvented junk food on. For now, you must settle for a healthy salad, packed with green vitamins and protein.
I know that not everyone is the biggest fan of kale, and while I might not be inclined to sprinkle it over my Wheaties, it certainly has its place. Kale is much tougher and heartier than spinach, but has an easier and more pleasant bite than something intense like brussels greens. That makes it pretty much perfect for a recipe like this one. I didn't want the greens to be too soggy, but I wanted them to be easy to chew, and hearty enough to keep up with the chickpeas. In this case, kale is king.
I used lacinato kale, but any variety will do. Lacinato is a little bit softer than regular kale, and it isn't spiky or curly, two characteristics that the kale haters in my life often complain about. If you are dealing with the kale wary, I recommend checking out lacinato next time you whip up a batch. You might not convert them, but you will hear less complaints.
A note on the Lemon Tahini Dressing: This salad would taste just as good with a drizzle of premade goddess dressing. Basically, anything with tahini and a nice tart flavor will do nicely. If you don't want to invest in a can of tahini, you're crazy because tahini is the shizzle grab a bottle of goddess dressing instead. Annie's makes a good one.
Roasted Kale and Chickpea Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 2 heads lacinato kale (dino kale)
- 1 18-oz. can (or 1 1/2 cups) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 lemon, juiced
- water, as needed
- salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse the kale and pat it dry. Remove the stems by pulling the leaves off of the middle. Discard the stems, then chop the leaves into 1 inch pieces.
- Combine the cooking oil and sesame oil in a small bowl.
- Combine the salt and spices together in another small bowl.
- Toss about two teaspoons of oil with the chickpeas, followed by about 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mix. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat mats.
- Toss the remaining oil with the kale, followed by the remaining spice mix. Rub the spices and oil together with the kale using your hands. "Massage" the oil into the leaves to soften them. Spread the kale out on two baking sheets, lined with parchment or silpat mats.
- Roast the chickpeas for about 20 minutes, and the kale for about 10 minutes. The chickpeas should change in color slightly, but don't let them completely dry out. The kale should shrivel and crisp up around the edges. Give it an extra 5 minutes if needed.
- Mix the tahini and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Add a little salt to taste, and a little water if the mixture is too thick.
- Toss the roasted kale and chickpeas together. Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the mixture.
Sometimes I'm incredibly lazy. Now and then, those instances coincide with an undeniable craving for sushi. Today, was one of those days. The last thing I felt like doing was making sushi rice. All that rinsing and soaking and seasoning. Don't get me wrong, the process is well worth it, but sometimes a girl gets tired. Should she still be denied sushi? Not on my watch.
Two things to love about the South:
As you might imagine, I think fried pickles are just about the most brilliant invention of all time. When I was thinking about how to amp up basic tempura, I remembered these delightful dill-flavored crunchers. I could have just dipped regular old dill pickles in tempura and called it a day, but I thought that seemed a little too dull. Instead, I raided my fridge and pantry for some homemade, briney treats.
My family always seemed to have a thing for Japanese restaurants. As kids, my Dad would take us to the little sushi bar near his office, where we'd slurp up slices of sashimi, nibble on bite-sized nigiri, and gobble California Rolls. It didn't seem strange at all to us that you would eat fish raw. In fact, I've always preferred sushi to cooked fish. You might imagine how much that annoyed my thrifty, down-to-earth Mom.
Most kids might ask to go to McDonalds or Chuck E. Cheese for their birthdays, but my tastes were more exotic. When I turned fifteen I begged my parents to take me to Sushi Yoshi, a traditional Japanese restaurant in a nearby town. Unleashed with the full menu at my disposal, I went ahead and ordered the weirdest thing I could find, Unagi-Don, a broiled eel, slathered in sweet sticky sauce, over a bed of white rice.
It wasn't exactly what I expected. No sharp teeth or slithering serpents, just a dark piece of fish in a small laquered box. Despite its mild appearance, I made the most of my meal by teasing my sisters as I ate. My Dad helped too, reminiscing about catching freshwater eels at our family camp in Maine. Stories of eels wrapping around ankles were the best deterrant for keeping children out of the water at night.
Mostly our Japanese restaurant favorites were pretty predictable. Seaweed Salad was a staple, and still one of my favorites. My Dad is fond of ordering sushi boats, so a round of miso soup and salad with ginger dressing was usually in order. We were never big on the other staples, Tempura, Shumai, or Edamame, though we did sometimes indulge in an order of Hamachi Kama.
My sisters and I started ordering Age Dofu at some point during our teenage years, and it quickly became one of our favorites. Fried tofu might not sound all that alluring, but the combination of soft, silky bean curd, crispy batter, and sweet-salty tempura sauce makes Age Dofu hard to resist. The best places top the dish with grated daikon and sliced scallion. In my experience, Age Dofu isn't quite the same without that last little garnish.
Makes four servings
16 ounces silken tofu
oil for deep frying
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup ice water
1/2 cup dashi (or water)
2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated daikon radish
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
- Drain the tofu on paper towel or clean kitchen towels for about thirty minutes. You can marinade the tofu, or you can leave it plain. Either way works fine for Age Dofu. Cut the tofu into 2 inch cubes.
- Heat the oil to around 350 degrees in a medium sized pot with tall sides. Don't fill the oil more than half-way up the pot.
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the ice water until just mixed, leaving the batter slightly lumpy.
- Coat the cubes of tofu with the batter, then drop them into the hot oil, one at a time. Give each cube a moment to firm up before adding the next one. Stir them gently to make sure they don't stick together.
- Fry until the cubes are golden brown, then remove them from the oil and drain them on a paper towel or clean (and dry) kitchen towel.
- Mix the dashi, ponzu sauce and soy sauce in a small bowl. Taste, and add salt if needed.
- Split the sauce between two or four small bowls. Add tofu to each bowl, then top with the radish and scallion.
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I'm teaching a demo on Vegan Sushi at the Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair tomorrow. I thought it might be nice to go over some of the basics of vegan sushi here on Mary Makes Dinner too. Do you have a favorite vegan sushi roll? If so, I'd love to hear all about it. Leave me a comment!
Start with Rice
Whatever kind of rice you are using, you'll want to rinse it well before cooking. Short grain white rice is the easiest to work with, but short grain brown rice, wild rice blends, and even alternative grains like quinoa can work well in sushi. To make working with other kinds of grains easier, I recommend blending them half and half with short grain white rice.
After rinsing your rice, cook it according to the usual directions. As soon as its done, turn it out into a wide mixing bowl.
Season the Rice
Rice should be seasoned to help make it nice and sticky, and to add a touch of sweet/salty flavor. This recipe makes a basic rice seasoning. Add just enough seasoning to coat your rice. You don't want it to be sticky, but not too wet.
Directions: Warm rice vinegar, then whisk in salt and sugar until fully dissolved.
Cut Your Veggies
Slice veggies into match sticks or long, thin slices. Have fun mixing and matching your veggies to create custom rolls.
Raw Fruits & Veggies
Add Some Condiments
While wasabi is the classic ingredient for adding heat to sushi, sriracha sauce can also be used to make your rolls a little more lively. Vegan mayo or cashew cheese is a great way to add a touch of creamy sweetness. Try mixing sriracha and vegan mayo half and half to make a delicious spicy mayo! Don't forget to have some soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free) handy for dipping.
Roll it Up
Place half a sheet of nori on your bamboo roller, wet your hands, then place about 1/4 cup of rice onto the sheet. Gently spread the rice across the sheet, re-wetting your fingers as needed (if they get too sticky). Place the veggies in the center of the roll, then use the mat to gently tuck the bottom of the roll into the center. Continue rolling the rest of the sheet over, then go back and forth until you have a snug roll. Wet a sharp knife, and slice the roll into six or eight pieces.
For an inside out roll, cover your bamboo mat in plastic wrap, or use a silicone mat instead. Flip the sheet over after adding the rice, and before adding the veggies.
Check out the videos below to see two examples of assembling sushi rolls.
How to Assemble a Sushi Roll
How to Assemble an Inside-Out Roll
One thing that I really miss about living in New England is apple picking. Every year, on some random Fall day with chilly air and a brilliantly blue sky, my friends and I would go visit an orchard. Armed with paper bags and little kids in wagons, we'd wander down the aisles of twisted trees, laden with big round apples. Their colors would range from grass green to deep, wine reds, varying wildly in flavor and texture, but always juicy and crisp, better than anything you could find in the grocery store. An apple off the tree is pure magic.
And kids in wagons? Come on.
These are some photos from one of my favorite apple picking adventures. My best friend's kiddo picked his first apple that day, with just a little help from his Mom. My sister, Heather, caught a fuzzy caterpillar, and I ate so many apples I thought I might just die. In other words, it was a perfect Autumn day in New England.
So, it was with a sentimental heart that I dug into my apple stash for dinner last week. Bok choy (and all cabbages) can be a little skunky or bitter, so combining it with the sweet flavor of apple makes good sense. It will take the edge off for the cabbage haters in your family, and add a little something extra to an otherwise ordinary bowl of noodles. I used a Honeycrisp apple for my recipe. I'd recommend something sweet and tart, like a macintosh or a gala if you can't find a honeycrisp near you.
- 8 ounces Noodles (Udon, Buckwheat, or Rice Noodles)
- 1 batch Ginger Garlic Tofu with marinade reserved
- 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (Grapeseed, Peanut, or Coconut)
- 1 head Bok Choy, chopped (whites and greens separated)
- 1 large Apple, sliced (or two little ones)
- 1 bunch Scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
- Cook noodles according to package instructions. After draining them, rinse them with cold water until they are no longer hot. Set aside.
- Prepare the Ginger Garlic Tofu, reserving the marinade for later.
- Heat a large skillet over medium. When hot, add the oils.
- Saute the white parts of the chopped bok choy for about four minutes, allowing them to brown a little on both sides.
- Add the sliced apple to the pan, and cook for four more minutes, browning the apple as well.
- Remove the apple and bok choy from the pan. You may want to add a dash more oil at this point.
- Saute the bok choy greens and scallions. Add one handful at a time, let it cook for a minute or so, then add the next handful. Repeat until all the greens have wilted.
- Remove the greens and scallions from the pan and set aside.
- Increase the heat on the pan to medium-high, then add the reserved marinade from the tofu. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, then let the mixture come to a boil. Simmer in the pan for two minutes. The sauce should thicken immediately.
- Reduce the heat to low, then add back the apples and bok choy to the pan, followed by the noodles. Toss everything together.
- Turn off the heat, and immediately dish the noodles and veggies into bowls. Top each bowl with a portion of the tofu.
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I like to think that I'm the kind of person who knows how to stick to her guns, to take a belief to heart and run with it. When I look in the mirror, I want to see a woman who knows what she believes in, and refuses to let the world compromise her. A lot of the time I feel like I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of that goal, but even at my best, I still struggle with maintaining a balance between indulging my ideals and accepting the facts of life.
My cell phone, for example, eats at me. I use it all the time. It's a tool for my blog and my job, a favorite toy in moments of boredom, and my golden ticket to an endless library of information. Sometimes I even use it to call or text someone. I can't deny how much I adore my phone, and of course, that bothers me. Such an attachment to a material object goes against the spiritual goals I set as a buddhist. It's very existence, as disposable technology, goes against my beliefs as an environmentalist. Knowing what other human beings are put through in order to supply and dispose of my precious phone strikes a chord with my conscience that is hard to ignore.
Yet, I can't put the damned thing down. I justify it with some vague notion that like my computer, the device allows me to act as a force of good in the world. I remind myself to take that deal seriously and put out content that is more thoughtful, more helpful, and more worthwhile. Similar justifications are made for indulging in the occasional bite of meat or cheaply-made dairy purchase. I tell myself that I am exploring different foods, and Scott often reminds me that we can't afford to "damn the man" at every turn, so I pick my battles one by one, and try to do the right thing more often than not.
Every once in a while someone dangles something shiny in front of me and I snatch it up without thinking about the strings attached. Let's say, for example, a television production company approaches me about participating in an online event for their popular reality cooking show. I think about how great the exposure would be for my blog, about how many more readers, subscribers, or followers I might get. I even think about how the experience will puff me up, making me look a little bit famous. It's so sparkly!
But then it actually happens, and I feel a knot in my gut. When I'm given a long list of what not to say, not to wear, not to do, the knot gets tighter. I suddenly realize that I am helping to promote something that I don't even like, a show that portrays food and cooking as something difficult and mysterious, as if it only belonged to these shiny special people on TV. I have a personal rule against burning bridges or backing out of things I've committed to, so I go through with it anyway, even though I'm not allowed to mention my blog or my last name, even though the dish we are cooking isn't vegetarian, even though I feel used and stepped on.
Then it is over, and I just feel angry, with the TV people, of course, but also with myself. I just sold myself out for nothing. At least I can say that I learned my lesson: to thyself be true. No more reality shows for this little vegetarian.
Instead of becoming more phoney, I've decided to start getting real. While I will still be sharing plenty of polished and perfect recipes, I'm also going to begin posting about what I'm eating every day. Unless it is for a recipe post, I don't often cook the same thing twice, so these recipes will be shot from the hip. I hope they will inspire you to get in your kitchen and throw something together too.
Go forth and cook, my friends. It's a good day to be yourself.
If you've ever wondered what I actually eat every day, you should probably be following me on Instagram. As my IG followers are acutely aware, veggie rice and noodle bowls are pretty much a staple part of my diet. I eat them mostly for lunch since the hus-beast has been on an anti-vegetable kick lately. (Ask me later how THAT'S working out. Guh.)
Anyway, I like to get at least two colors of veggies in each bowl I make. Greens are almost always color one. The second color rotates between orange sweet potatoes and carrots or red peppers. Yellow squash and purple peppers are also known to pop in now and then. Sometimes I feel like it needs an egg on top. Sometimes I'm not in the mood. Anyway, this is a pretty typical lunch or dinner for me.
I should warn you that this is a pretty intense veggie bowl. I hope you like greens. If not, you might want to start with something a little lighter, like spinach. Chard can be a little earthy, in the same way that beets can, and it's not everyone's cup of tea. Amaranth actually has a really interesting taste, most of which is covered up in this particular recipe. If you've never had amaranth, you might want to just saute it up with some sesame oil, salt, pepper and garlic instead of roasting it with the chard. In that case, I'd also reduce the amount of sauce you use on the chard. By half or so?
I like this bowl with a few squirts of sriracha and kewpie mayo. I have a serious kewpie habit. What can I say? If that isn't your thing, you could sub a few slices of fresh avocado or a drizzle of plain tahini to give this bowl a creamy touch.
- 1 cup cooked rice (I use brown basmati)
- 1 bunch chard, rinsed well and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch amaranth, rinsed well and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 raw carrot, shredded
- 2 eggs, fried
- 1/4 cup Roasted Wild Nori Seaweed Flakes (optional)
- Mayo and Sriracha (optional, to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the greens in the sesame oil until well coated. Mix the soy sauce, syrup or honey, garlic, ginger, and red pepper in a small bowl, then toss with the greens.
- Spread the greens out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast for 5 - 10 minutes, stir, and then roast for another 5 - 10 minutes. For lightly "done" greens, roast for a total of 10 minutes. 20 minutes of roasting will produce well done greens.
- Spoon the rice out between two bowls, then top with a drizzle of kewpie and sriracha. Next, add the greens, followed by the shredded carrot and seaweed, if you are using it.
- I like to top this bowl with an over-easy style fried egg. My husband prefers it sunny-side-up. Someone else might like it scrambled. Do what you feel.
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When my hubby, Scott, started working part-time in the produce section of our local Whole Foods, he developed a sudden (and shocking) interest in obscure produce. Every night he would come home after his shift spinning yarns about exotic fruits or heirloom vegetables. He seemed to take a special pleasure in telling me about varieties that I had never tasted or cooked with.
Being the competitive little brat that I am, I would get my kicks from bursting his bubble. Purple bell peppers? "Please, Scott. Those are so old hat." Yellow carrots? "Ha! I was out pulling them up in the backyard this past October." He really thought he had me with pluots. I laughed in his face. "EVERYBODY knows about plum hybrids."
Oh, I was having a grand old time.
He came home all hyped up about white sweet potatoes. I was flabbergasted. Having never even laid eyes on such a thing, my only defense was to demand immediate proof of its existence. We consulted the Google, and a quick search revealed the truth.
Aw, crackers. He beat me.
With my head hung low, I admitted that they were new to me, and he proceeded to go on for an hour about all the things that make them SO interesting.
That was just a couple of months ago, so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered PURPLE sweet potatoes today. Huzzah! Oh how the mighty have fallen!! Wait until he gets a load of these. I can see it now. He'll be all "Hey, what are those?"
And I'll be all, "Purple sweet potatoes. In your FACE."
Or at least, that's how I like to imagine it going down. In the interest of preserving my own delusional fantasies I will NOT be sharing the story of Scott ACTUALLY reacted to my discovery of purple sweet potatoes (read: shoulder shrug).
I'll just give you this nice recipe instead. Okey dokey?
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chili & Lime
Makes about six servings
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 large purple sweet potato (or a second regular sweet potato), peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder/granules
- 1 teaspoon chile powder (mild, chipotle, or ancho)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 lime
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the sweet potatoes with salt, spices, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Spread on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until tender. (The purple potatoes may take longer, so check them for doneness. It's OK to overcook the orange ones a little if you have to.)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the remaining oil followed by the garlic. Fry the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the onion.
- Fry the onion for 3 - 5 minutes, or until it browns and clears slightly. Add the bell peppers, and fry for about 2 minutes, just long enough for them to become a bit tender.
- Combine the roasted sweet potatoes with the onion and pepper mixture. Sprinkle with lime juice, and add salt and pepper if needed.
Vacations are fun, but I feel like my last one nearly did me in. Between our teenage nephew visiting, and our family weekend at the beach, my daily intake of junk food got a little out of control. My mom made Whoopie Pies, my husband kept handing me frosty cans of beer, and my Dad kept deep frying things. And that was just the weekend. Before we even arrived in South Padre, my nephew and I had made homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream, thrown a burger party, and eaten tacos for almost every meal in between.
Guys, my tummy hurts. I had a dessert post all lined up for you, but I need a break. I can't even look at something sweet right now. All I really want is fresh, raw veggies. When my CSA delivery showed up this morning I could have kissed the delivery guy. Instead, we exchanged "namaste"s and I ran inside to paw through my box of goodies.
Did I tell you how I got myself a food processer for my birthday? Well, I am officially obsessed with this thing. I'm not sure how I ever lived without it. Today I used it to slice up cucumber, red bell pepper, zuchinni, summer squash, and a handful of fresh basil so that I could devour it all to my heart's content. Of course, if you don't have a food processor, you could just slice everything up, nice and thin, using a mandoline or chef's knife. It will just take you a whole lot longer.
I'll try not brag about how quickly I was able to whip this little beauty up. (Well, I won't try TOO hard.)
Have you tried organic virgin coconut cream oil yet? It smells like my favorite cream pie, but is so much better for you. I have two jars in the house at all times, one in my pantry for cooking, and one in the bathroom for slathering myself head to toe. One of the wonderful and mysterious things about virgin coconut oil is that it is both moisturizing and astringent. It's also chock full of antioxidants and essential fatty acids, making it super nutritious for your body, inside and out.
Health food mumbo-jumbo aside, this stuff smells like someone just cracked open a fresh coconut and poured it into a jug. That delightful aroma will transfer to whatever you cook with it, and since the oil solidifies at less than seventy degrees, it makes a delicious substitute for butter in truffles and tarts.
So yeah, go coconut oil!
Makes about 4 servings
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 small zuchinni
- 1 small summer squash
- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil, melted
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or more for taste)
- 2 tablespoons raw hemp seed hearts or chopped raw nuts
- Slice the veggies as thinly as you can, making them bite-sized.
- Shred, mince, or chiffonade the basil. If you love basil, leave it in larger chunks. If you prefer a more mild touch, mince it all tiny-like.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice and zest, coconut oil, rice vinegar, honey or maple syrup, and sea salt.
- Add the veggies and basil, then toss it all together.
- Serve right away, and sprinkle the hemp seeds or nuts on top. You can also sprinkle an extra pinch of salt over the top of the salad, if you like.
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