What I’m Eating These Days

Quick veggie fried rice with raw kimchi

Since becoming what I like to call a “real person” and working full-time (ugh, not to mention beginning a course of extensive Lyme disease treatment), it’s been somewhat difficult to keep up with blogging as much as I’d like. I honestly do NOT understand how so many bloggers that I read and admire have other jobs — not to mention kids! — and yet can post on a regular, sometimes daily, basis. Whew. I got tired just thinking about that.

But as much as I haven’t been able to blog consistently lately, my blogging gene is still in full-force. Which is to say, I can’t stop taking pictures of my food! Eating for me these days is more quick and less recipe-based (i.e. I’m throwing together what I have in the fridge), but I still try and create things that are healthy, colorful, and most importantly, exciting to eat! So I thought I would share with you some of the iPhone photos I’ve been taking of my “thrown together” meals (those that haven’t already been instagram-ed, that is). These represent in large part what I have been eating lately when I’m not trying to create recipes. Hopefully they will provide some inspiration to my readers. Oh, and please excuse the photo quality as, like I said, most of these were taken on my phone!

Boiled baby potatoes, green beans, hummus and raw sauerkraut

As you can see, my quick meals still involve lots of greens, whole grains, and of course, raw sauerkraut, which has become a staple in my diet. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve become a huge fan of nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, whose new book Beauty Detox Foods has inspired even more of my go-to meals. However, as you can see, I still do eat organic tofu (which is an apparent Beauty Detox no-no), and other things such as white potatoes on occasion. I feel that the key to good health is to vary your diet enough so that lots of fresh and colorful vegetables are incorporated, and to minimize processed foods and animals products (duh!) as much as possible.

Stuffed peppers with sweet potato salad and mixed baby greens

Here are some of my go-to, healthy meals (no recipe necessary):

  • Quick veggie fried rice with raw kimchi: Saute tofu, garlic, ginger and veggies of choice in olive oil or vegetable broth. Add cooked rice (I sometimes even just use Trader Joe’s pre-cooked frozen brown rice for a super quick meal), wheat-free tamari sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos to taste, and frozen peas. I also add some crushed red pepper to taste. Serve hot topped with raw fermented kimchi on the side.
  • Stuffed Peppers: I make stuffed peppers a lot, usually mixing in different grains with sauteed veggies, then baking in the oven, covered, until peppers are soft. This particular photo had short grain brown rice, corn, sauteed zucchini, garlic and baby portobellos. I added cumin, coriander, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and sea salt for flavor. The only reason you don’t see them topped with salsa in this picture is because I had run out! I love Mexican flavored stuffed peppers topped with salsa and avocado. I either bake them in the salsa or add it after.
  • Sweet potato salad: I like to boil sweet potatoes until tender (with skins!) and toss with cider vinegar, cilantro, sea salt (to taste) and reduced fat Vegenaise. I got the inspiration for this recipe from Dr. Barnard’s book Power Foods for the Brain, which is also amazing and another frequent healthy eating reference for me.
  • Mixed Greens Salad: Toss pre-packaged mixed greens with your choice of a combination of lemon juice, olive oil, Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s (just a dash or two), apple cider vinegar, sea salt and nutritional yeast. So healthy and easy — a great way to get your greens!
  • Potato-hummus-kraut plate: Topping baked or boiled potatoes with hummus is one of my new favorite things, and something that my mom definitely got me hooked on. The plate shown in the above photo was taken on a day when I was tempted to order out because I had “nothing” in my fridge. Just goes to show you what can be made from “nothing”! I boiled Trader Joe’s “teeny tiny” potatoes (one of my guilty pleasures) until tender, then added green beans during the last minute. Drained. Added some nutritional yeast (totally optional), a healthy dollop of hummus (ok, I may have gone back after this photo to add more) and just a tiny pinch of salt. Then I topped with a heaping pile (as you can see) of raw sauerkraut (yum!). This was one of my favorite creations from my fridge full of “nothing”.
  • Sauteed beans, grains and greens (below): To prepare for busy weeks, I like to cook up a big pot of beans in my pressure cooker (aduki is a new favorite for me), and a big pot of grains such as millet or quinoa. Then, during the week, I can simply saute everything together and add some greens or other veggies, seasoning, and enjoy a meal without having to do a lot of prep. The photo below was millet and aduki/black beans, packaged baby spinach, sliced baby bell peppers (I forget what they’re called…), cumin, olive oil, cider vinegar, coriander, chili powder and some cayenne for heat. It was delicious!

Black and aduki beans, millet and greens

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Lentil-Sweet Potato-Kale Enchiladas

As I write this, I am nurturing severe jet-lag and sleep-deprivation after a four-day wedding weekend in Chicago, for one of Gennaro’s best friend’s weddings. Not only was the weekend jam-packed with activities, but we spent all day yesterday in the car and lost an hour coming back to EST. Not to mention the fact that, although I ate very well all weekend — visiting such famous vegan joints such as Chicago Diner, Karyn’s and Native Foods —  I still did not have the benefit of my usual green smoothies, kale salads or probiotic-filled raw sauerkraut to keep my immunity high.

Needless to say, I am TIRED. And in times like these, the last thing I want to do is cook a complicated meal when I come home from work, or do many dishes. Yet I am equally not into the idea of ordering out yet again after a weekend of eating out. I want home-cooked, healthy and easy. Yet these things don’t always go hand-in-hand.

I developed this recipe several weeks back when trying to address what I find to be one of the most difficult things about working full-time and trying to eat well at home – time! This recipe is also very cheap to make – especially if you’re buying and cooking your lentils in bulk and shopping local for your kale (or any other greens you may want to use here). You could easily top with a vegan cheese of choice, but since Gennaro does not like vegan cheese, I just sprinkled a bit of nutritional yeast over the top and it was not lacking in flavor. I hope you enjoy not only this dish, but whatever you’ll be doing during the free time you save from not having to be in the kitchen all night!

Ingredients:

Please note: this recipe does not require an exact science, so feel free to play around with the ingredients and amounts to your liking.

1 large sweet potato, unpeeled, diced

1/2 cup water, or more as needed

2 cups cooked lentils (either canned or cooked at home)

2 large handfuls curly kale, chopped (about 1/2 a bunch of kale)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

salt to taste

1 jar salsa of choice (I used Trader Joe’s organic Tomatillo and Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa), divided

1 package corn tortillas (I used organic sprouted corn tortillas)

vegan cheese or nutritional yeast for sprinking (optional)

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, add sweet potato and water. Cover and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sweet potato is soft (about 10-15 minutes). Add additional water (about 1/4 cup) if water is absorbed before sweet potato is fully cooked.

2. Once sweet potato is soft, add lentils, kale, 3 tablespoons salsa and cumin. Stir together, cooking over medium heat until kale is just wilted and everything warmed through, about 4-5 minutes. Add salt to taste (I just added a pinch because I used salt to cook my lentils).

3. If desired to soften, heat tortillas over separate skillet, wrapped in foil in the oven, or in the microwave until soft and pliable. Add about 1/4 cup filling to each warm tortilla and roll, placing in a 9×13″ baking dish seam-down across dish. You may have additional filling left over. Cover tortillas with remaining salsa, using a spoon to spread evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkle with desired amount of vegan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional).

4. Bake enchiladas covered in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until salsa is bubbling and enchiladas are heated through. Serve topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado or onion and alongside your favorite Mexican sides.

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No-Boil Gluten-Free, Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Not my most polished photo, but it does capture the delicious gooeyness that is this lasagna

While lasagna is probably high on my list of favorite comfort foods, there is something very un-comforting about slaving away over the stove all night, especially after an 8+ hour workday. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and find it therapeutic in some ways, but the thought of multi-step preparation, several pots and pans and a sink full of dishes has often dissuaded me from preparing labor-intensive meals on weeknights, however comforting or satisfying those meals may turn out to be.

With that mindset, I set out to prepare a version of lasagna that I could feasibly prepare in under 30 minutes (with a little added baking time) — and one that would not sacrifice on flavor for it. I determined that my first step in executing such a plan would be to prepare a lasagna where the noodles do not need to be boiled first. Sure, there are recipes out there for no-boil lasagna…for vegan lasagna…for gluten-free lasagna…but how would this work with all three components in play? And on top of that, the only lasagna noodles I seem to regularly find in my area are Tinkyada noodles, which are not specifically no-boil. But guess what? It worked!

I think you will find this no-boil lasagna hearty and satisfying. The trick, I found, is to use a lot of sauce. The bottom noodles came out perfectly cooked — the top layer was slightly more chewy but still done throughout, though they did curl up a bit. To counteract the curling, I would suggest using a slightly smaller than 9×13″ pan — one that is no more than slightly longer than the noodles themselves. I found that the pan I used was significantly larger than the actual length of the noodles, causing the top layer of sauce to run off into the sides. While the noodles were still cooked through on top, and I actually liked the slightly chewier texture, I think a smaller dish would have probably relieved the slight problem. On the other hand, if you only have a 9×13″ dish, it is not the end of the world. The noodles still cooked through and a pizza cutter worked to cut everything without making a mess.

The choice of filling in this lasagna was also largely influenced by my effort to save time while still creating something that evoked “real” lasagna (I would argue that vegan lasagna is, of course, “real” lasagna, but you know what I mean…). Spinach lasagna, even in my pre-vegan days, has always been a favorite. This filling involved little more than opening a bag of frozen spinach and crumbling up some tofu. But it was delicious.

On a final note: the sauce I used for this recipe is a take on Chloe Coscarelli’s  mac and cheese sauce from Chloe’s Kitchen, one of my favorite vegan cookbooks. I tweaked the original recipe by adding crushed tomatoes and oregano and playing with some of the other ingredient amounts to make it suited more to a lasagna than a mac and cheese. I also, of course, made it gluten-free. It turned out really delicious! You could definitely use this sauce for any type of baked pasta dish.

No-Boil Spinach Lasagna:

Note: while the bottom layer of noodles cooks perfectly, the top noodles layer may be a little chewier in this recipe because of the no-boil factor. To combat this, you can either split up the filling into 3 parts and spread some more on top along with the sauce (so there would be no noodles on top), or simply boil the noodles if you really don’t want to deal with it. However, I have made this recipe a few times and feel that the noodles cook perfectly when underneath something, so I think splitting the filling and adding more on top is the best solution. Of course, I have also made this several times with a chewier top layer, which I am fine with. I use a pizza cutter to make sure everything slices easily. 

Serves: 5-7

Ingredients:

1 pkg. Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles (or other gluten-free lasagna) -totals 12 lasagna noodles

Filling:

1 pkg. (about 8 oz.) firm tofu

10 oz. bag frozen cut spinach

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Sauce:

3 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour (another gluten-free all-purpose flour should also work)

3 cups soy or almond milk, plain, unsweetened

1 cup organic crushed tomatoes (preferably no salt added)

1 teaspoon sea salt (if used tomatoes with salt added, reduce sea salt and add in more to taste)

1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes (plus more for top, if desired)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. For Filling: Place tofu and frozen spinach in a medium-sized glass or other mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Prepare Sauce: In a large saucepan, melt buttery spread over medium heat. When butter is melted, add flour and whisk until a paste is formed. Add remaining ingredients and whisk. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

4. Return to Filling: Using your hands, squeeze out excess water from tofu and spinach mixture over the sink, about 4-5 times.You may wish to do this over a colander in case you lose any tofu or spinach. Return the tofu and spinach to bowl and add cider vinegar and salt. Mix well.

5. Put it together: Spread 1/3 cup sauce on the bottom of a 7×11″ pan. Layer 4 dry lasagna noodles evenly over the sauce. Spread about 1/2 of the tofu-spinach mixture evenly over the noodles. You can gently press down with your hands to pack it on. Cover with 1 cup of the sauce. Add another layer of 4 lasagna noodles and cover with the remaining tofu-ricotta mixture. Cover with another cup of sauce. Add remaining layer of lasagna noodles and cover with remaining sauce. If desired, sprinkle top evenly with nutritional yeast (about 2 tablespoons).

6. Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for about 35 to 40 minutes; sauce should be bubbling. Remove from oven and serve.

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Adzuki-Millet Cakes

Like many great things in life, this recipe happened by accident. Well, at least the final product was an accident, as I had originally intended these to be a homemade answer to my Hilary’s Adzuki Bean Burger obsession (am I alone here?). While I wanted to mimic the original burger as much as possible, I also wanted to make this recipe easy and accessible. So, I decided to use only one of the two grains used in the Hilary’s burger. I decided on millet for its consistency when cooked. I also did not want to create anything that necessitated the use of a food processor — a great culinary tool, in my opinion, but one that can also incur unnecessary cleanup in many instances.

These tweaks probably led to a somewhat “looser” consistency than the original burger, one that was reminiscent of a savory cake rather than a burger. Not that I complained. As I shoved down two of these babies, I started wondering why I was ever looking for a veggie burger recipe in the first place, when there was a perfectly delicious version available in the frozen section of my local Whole Foods (ok, there were several reason I was doing so — money, trying to avoid processed foods, trying to cut down on the fat content of the original recipe — but those were soon forgotten). I also remembered that I had unsuccessfully gone through a string of attempts at a homemade bean cake recipe a while back. It seems I found the answer to whatever was plaguing my previous bean cake attempts — even if I had ended up forgetting the question.

I’m filing these cakes under “appetizer”, “side” or “main course” recipes, as I can see them as all three. Slightly cooled, they could top a dinner salad. Still warm, I imagine them over a heaping bed of steamed or sauteed greens — maybe kale or spinach — and  maybe drizzled with some oil and vinegar. I also served them to Gennaro inside of a warm pita with greens, chipotle Vegenaise spread and hot sauce (unfortunately, the pita was not gluten-free, or I certainly would have tried this version). And while we’re labeling these, I have to admit they also make a great snack. I like them cold, right out of the refrigerator, for a protein-packed and healthy, non-processed snack.

Adzuki-Millet Cakes:

Please note: You will likely have remaining millet left over. You can use it in salads or try it anywhere else you would use quinoa or — if you eat it — couscous. I also give it to my dog, Woodley, for a fun change-up to his usual nighttime snack, which was vet-recommended for gastrointestinal issues he was having — see, he is like his mom!

Yield: 6-8 cakes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked dry millet

1 1/2 cups well cooked adzuki beans (I used my pressure cooker to cook 1 cup dried beans according to the instructions found here. I had some leftover, which I ate over some cooked quinoa with spinach. Canned adzuki beans, drained, would also work)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for cooking cakes

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 scallion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Directions:

1. Add millet to a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook on medium heat until the water is just absorbed (watch carefully after about 10 minutes of boiling to see where it’s at). You can try stirring it to check on water content/consistency before removing from heat — the final consistency should be somewhat lumpy and not as “fork-fluffable” as quinoa is when cooked. You want this consistency for the cakes.

2. As millet cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a separate skillet. Add red pepper and scallion and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside.

3. Once millet has cooked (i.e. once the water is absorbed), add 1 1/2 cups of the warm millet, adzuki beans, chia, spices, salt and water together in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well, while mashing everything together with the back of your spoon. Add red peppers, scallion and garlic and mix well.

4. You can use the same saute pan as used for the red peppers (no need to wash). Heat additional teaspoon of coconut oil (if needed) in the pan. Meanwhile, measure out 1/3 cup amounts of adzuki-millet mixture and roll in the palm of your hands before pressing into patties. Add patties to hot saute pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side, or until crispy and lightly browned on the outside. Repeat this step to cook the remaining patties.

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Red Lentil Dahl

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Vegucated giveaway contest! The winners were lucky commenters #7 and 8, which were chosen at random, funnily enough. I hope Melanie and Ashley enjoy Vegucated as much as I did and share their newfound knowledge with many others.

I also so much appreciated everyone’s comments. I considered responding to a few individually, but decided to hold off and address a multitude of your thoughts, stories and concerns in this post.

I would first like to say that in reading many of the comments, I recognized so many of my own thoughts when I was first considering a vegan diet — words like “scary,” “life changing” and “restrictive” floated around in my head on a constant basis. For awhile it was all I thought about. I would jealously ogle meat-eating restaurant patrons as I gazed into crowded restaurant dining rooms, street after street. I imagined I would  never get to be “one of them” again. I watched Top Chef on repeat just to get it “out of my system” (or is that just because Bravo happened to always run Top Chef marathons when there was never anything else on?) I passed the cheese section at Whole Foods for weeks on end, guiltily taking whiffs of the delicious Parmesano-Reggiano air. If I told people I was going vegan, there was no turning back, I thought. I would get called out for simply being found in the cheese section, let alone eating the stuff. I would be crucified if one night I “slipped” and caved to my seemingly endless sushi cravings. If I go vegan, I thought, it’s all or nothing.

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Vegan Chorizo Chili and Giveaway

* Scroll down to see giveaway info.

By now I’m sure it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Marisa Miller Wolfson and everything she does for the vegan (and non-vegan, and animal, and environmentalist) community. I first heard of Marisa when she a guest speaker at my law school for my animal law course (a life-changing class, indeed). My peers and I were honored with the privilege of being able to watch clips of her new documentary, Vegucated, years (OK, a year and half, to be sort of exact) prior to its initial release. As militant as I may have become over the course of my own “vegucation” (and inherent transformation), it’s always refreshing to see a film or read a book that is informative without being preachy; disturbingly real while still providing comic relief. Vegucated is just that and more.*

Well, it’s been over a year and a half since I watched my first clips from Vegucated, and since then I’ve gone vegan and gotten my parents on board as well (they saw Vegucated at the Vegetarian Summerfest in July and were big fans). I am noting all of this because today marks the official launch of the Vegucated DVD. Whoo!

In honor of its launch, I’m doing a giveaway with two prizes. One will be a copy of the DVD, of course. The other will be an amazing “Get Vegucated” t-shirt**, as I was so proud to model after getting one myself (my newly vegucated parents couldn’t resist the Vegfest souvenir).

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Chana Masala

Well, the 2nd annual gluten-free, vegan Thanksgiving was a success. Minus, of course, the Lions loss. Which is really nothing new for us Detroiters, except that this year, everyone was thinking (but not saying) that we actually had a chance. Turns out, we didn’t. And so, while the Lions’ defeats have been a constant in my recollection of recent Thanksgivings, my Thanksgiving plate has altogether done a 180 from the once dark meat and gravy-laden plates Thanksgivings in the past.

Ironically, I was the most stuffed this year than I have been in recent memory. I guess I have my willpower to thank for that. Or lack thereof…

There was also the problem of my menu planning. Two types of stuffing? Sure! Baked vegan mac and cheese? Why not? Cornbread and focaccia? Sounds good to me!

But I had absolutely nothing to do with my absolute favorite part of my meal. A wonderful Aloo Matar (Indian peas and potatoes) which was contributed by my aunt’s friend, an amazing Indian home cook. It was just too good, especially over mashed potatoes (who needs gravy when you can have Aloo Matar?).

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Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Well, the number of meat eaters in my family is slowly dwindling to a minuscule number. Soon, they’ll be brandished to another room altogether, forced to eat their meat in silence and shame, wishing they could one day break their nasty habit.

Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. But seriously, if our extended family dinner Friday night was any indication, eating meat is so, like, 2010. After successfully converting my parents to a full-fledged vegan lifestyle, I’ve now witnessed my grandparents reassess their diets, swapping tofu and veggies for their meat -and-potato  dinners. Then recently my cousin — a professional tennis player, mind you — announced that he had gone vegan after watching the movie Forks over Knives. Even my meat-loving husband has changed his ways, if subtly. Last week, for example, he ordered an all-veggie pizza instead of his usual pepperoni and olive. And he’s been buying Amy’s organic frozen meals to sustain him throughout the week when I’m not cooking (I’ll pretend I didn’t see the Egg McMuffin receipt floating around our car last week).

Anyways, in honor of all of the recent converts in my family, I’ve decided to make a convert of Mr. Sloppy Joe — taking a formerly meat and butter-ladden dish and swapping in healthy tempeh and fresh vegetables for a much healthier meal. Eat your heart out, old Sloppy Joe.

Makes: approximately 4-6 servings

Tempeh Sloppy Joes:

1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread (or olive oil)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 small-medium zucchini, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups baby bella mushrooms, diced

1 package soy tempeh, boiled or steamed for 10 minutes, then crumbled

¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

¾ cup organic ketchup

½ cup water

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried mustard powder

2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon dried celery seed

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Boil or steam tempeh cubes for approximately 10 minutes to remove smell. Drain and rinse, set aside

2. In a large shallow pan or Dutch Oven, melt buttery spread over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and saute over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent and water is released from vegetables. Add mushrooms and tempeh and cook until mushrooms begin to soften.

3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook until water is reduced and desired consistency is reached, about 10 minutes. Serve over your favorite gluten-free hamburger buns or bread, toasted. Serve with homemade sweet potato chips or fries for a healthy side.

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Miso-Ginger Stir-Fry

I have a confession: I actually made this recipe months ago. I wanted to post it then. But it was hot out. I mean, really hot. And I kept thinking that no one in their right mind would want to make stir-fry in the middle of July. At a time when other bloggers were posting salads and grilled vegetables, I was making stir-fry. And so, as much as I was in love with this dish, I decided to sit on it and wait for a time when this recipe was a bit more suited to the weather.

You’ll notice that for a stir-fry, this recipe uses very little oil. Again, it was July when I made this. My parents had just returned from the vegetarian summerfest and were influenced by the many doctors and health experts singing the praises of a low-fat vegan diet. I learned that wine is a great cooking tool for braising or making sauces, as it adds a lot of flavor without added fat. For me, this is especially true in stir-fries. My mom took a Chinese cooking class when I was younger at an amazing Chinese restaurant my family still frequents. One of the revelations from that experience was that almost every stir-fry sauce at that restaurant utilized white cooking wine, lots of garlic and very little if any soy sauce. True Hong Kong style Chinese sauces are light and clear, not thick and brown, as is so common in Americanized Chinese places would have us believe. (For those interested in eating at the best Chinese Restaurant, in my opinion, in North America: Harvey Lo’s Yummy House in Windsor Ontario. It’s divine).

Of course, with the addition of miso, this is more of a Japanese-Chinese fusion dish. I love miso for flavor in dressings and sauces. It makes a really great stir-fry here — tangy, almost sweet and salty combination of flavors. And finally, it’s that time of year where I can make this without losing 5 pounds of sweat in the process. Hooray for fall!

Serves: 3-4 with rice

Low Fat Miso-Ginger Stir Fry:

My new secret to a good stir-fry is to bake the tofu before adding it to the rest of the dish. It tends to get crispy on the outside, but remains intact, rather than crumbling like tofu so often does when its cooked in a skillet or wok.

2 tablespoons refrigerated white miso OR 3 tablespoons white shiro miso (not refrigerated)

¼ cup white wine

2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons arrowroot + 2 tablespoons water, whisked together

2 tablespoons vegetable broth

1 head broccoli florets, chopped

1 red bell pepper, julienned

4 shiitake caps, sliced

½ yellow onion, sliced

Baked Tofu:

¼ teaspoon sesame oil (omit oil and use some veggie broth for an oil-free baked tofu option)

2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

1 block firm or extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry. Sliced or cubed.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together sesame oil and tamari in a shallow bowl. Dip slices of tofu into mixture and and then lay flat on non-stick or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together miso, wine, tamari, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Set aside.

3. In a very hot wok, add broccoli, bell pepper, onion and vegetable broth. Stir over high heat until broth evaporates and vegetables begin to soften. Add in shiitakes and pre-made sauce. Stir until sauce reduces by about 1/2 and vegetables are softened but still crisp. Add in arrowroot and water mixture and pre-baked tofu. Stir until sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.

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3-Bean and Mushroom Veggie Chili

Vegetarian chili comes to mind when I consider the ubiquitous vegetarian menu items of the world, right along with tofu scrambles and veggie burgers (both of which I have on this site). That doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing. Or eating. I was a huge fan of Whole Foods’ vegetarian chili long before I went vegan. Same goes for Curly’s tofu scramble, which I used to order with their vegan pancakes (also wheat-free) when I went for brunch, because I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. Who said vegans can’t enjoy a good brunch? (Oh wait, I think I said that at some point on this blog….and I maintain that it’s true in most eating out situations, when forced to venture into non-veg friendly territory).

In fact, vegetarian chili is such a no-brainer go-to dinner, I should be making it more often. The problem is, much like muffins, I have this “thing” with chili. I can never really get it just right. I’ve made dozens I’d hoped would eventually become part of the Delectably Free family. And most of the time, when I’m making something destined for this site, I don’t stop until I’ve gotten it right (often to the detriment of my loved ones, who have to endure days on end of semi-edible versions of the same dinner or dessert). The problem with chili, though, is that one batch pretty much lasts multiple days — sometimes a week, even — and by the time it’s over the thought of making yet another batch of chili is simply incomprehensible and utterly scary (there are only so many times we can blame the curious odor in the room on the dog). So, usually, I leave it at that.

But, after two years of intermittent trial and error, my mental list of do’s and don’ts finally yielded a blog-worthy recipe. I’m not usually one to praise my own food. Perhaps out of fear or maybe even pride, I usually wait and let others’ reactions dictate whether I am going to post something or not. I rarely declare something “a winner” without a vote of confidence from my taste-testers. But after tinkering with and tweaking this latest batch, I made sure to tell everyone in the family that I had hit on something “really good,” without really caring what anyone else said. But just for the record, I’ll have you know what everyone else in my family liked it, too.

Serves: 8-10

3-Bean and Mushroom Chili:

Don’t be discouraged by the long ingredient list. I promise, most of these are pantry items, with the exception of maybe the mushrooms and the bell pepper. I used Bionaturae jarred strained tomatoes for the “strained tomatoes,” though I’m sure crushed tomatoes would work here as well. When I was younger, my mom used to make chili often and we’d serve it over elbow noodles. I love chili with cornbread (the classic combo), but decided to serve gluten-free noodles with this version and encourage you to do so as well. It’s really good! Finally, the 6-cups of baby bellas will cook down to what seems like a piddily amount, so definitely add the full amount — it really makes a difference in the overall taste.

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

6 cups baby bellas, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 cup strained tomatoes, no salt added (see note, above)*

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice

½ cup water

1 15 0z. can black beans, not drained

1 15 oz. can aduki beans, not drained

1 29-oz. can white cannellini beans, drained

4 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon agave nectar (any other syrupy sweetener would also do)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Directions:

1. To a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, add onion, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Toss to coat with oil. Cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until juices release and onions become translucent.

2. Add remaining ingredients, beginning with the diced tomatoes, strained tomatoes and water and finishing with the agave, olive oil and cider vinegar, plus the additional teaspoon of salt, or enough salt to taste. Make sure not to strain the aduki or black beans, as the juices add flavor to the dish. But do drain the Cannellini beans. Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium-high for about 15-20 minutes to let flavors develop. Serve warm with gluten-free noodles, corn chips or cornbread. Enjoy!

* If you can’t find salt-free strained tomatoes, instead of adding the second teaspoon of salt simply add enough to taste.


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