Kale Salad with Quinoa and Cranberries

There are few things I love more than a new food discovery. Whether it be a new restaurant, a new product (I almost died and went to heaven when I discovered Purely Decadent ice cream in Whole Foods one hot summer day), or a new ingredient, it’s always exciting bringing some variety into your food world. So imagine my excitement when I found coconut amino at my local health food store when I went to re-up on my bottle of wheat-free tamari. There, in the section where it seemed only fermented soy products were destined to reside, was this soy-free, dairy-free, vegan product. I turned around the label. I must have been missing something. Would there be some disclaimer on the back — some small print concession that this product contains a trace amount of soy? Nope. Just more to make me want to buy the stuff. It was high in healthy amino acids. Lower in sodium than soy sauce or liquid amino and very low on the glycemic index. Plus, it was relatively inexpensive. Here is my inaugural recipe using coconut aminos: a simple, satisfying kale salad with quinoa for protein (an homage to the cafe at the Detroit Zen Center, a Delectably Free fave), and dried cranberries for a tart, sweet addition.

Kale Salad:

1 bunch kale, washed, chopped and tough ribs removed

1 cup cooked quinoa, kept warm

1/2 cup fruit sweetened dried cranberries

Dressing:

3 tablespoons coconut aminos

3 tablespoons sesame tahini

3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons water

Directions:

1. Prepare dressing in a blender or, alternately, combine ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.

2. Toss salad ingredients with dressing in a large bowl until kale is covered. Some dressing may be left over.

Share

Salad with Tahini Dressing and Stevia Candied Walnuts

I’m packing up and headed to Michigan for a few days to visit my family, so I’ll make this one quick. It’s fitting, actually, because this hearty salad would make a relatively quick and healthy dinner. It’s also very amendable to variation, though you simply must give these sweet yet guilt-free candied walnuts a shot. The tahini dressing is a creamy, tangy and satisfying addition to salads. I imagine it would also make a great sauce for chicken kabobs. Other possible variations to the salad: chopped avocado, chickpeas, dried cherries or goat cheese.

Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoons sea salt (or more to taste)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

1-3 tablespoons water, as needed

Truvia Candied Walnuts:

1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread

1/2 cup walnuts

2 packets truvia (I don’t like to use Truvia anymore; try your favorite stevia and start with one packet then add more as needed)

pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Other Additions:

Bibb lettuce, spinach or romaine

Cooked beets

Cooked Lentils (I cook mine with a pinch of salt and a pinch of allspice)

Directions:

1. To make dressing: blend all ingredients in a blender, minus the water. If dressing is too thick, add water as needed to reach desired consistency. Season with more salt or pepper to taste.

2. To make candied walnuts: In a small saute pan, heat buttery spread over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Add walnuts and toss to coat. Saute for about a minute in the butter. Add truvia and salt — when added to the butter, the coating will begin to brown. Continue to toss walnuts in coating and saute for about 4 minutes, or until walnuts begin to brown. Cool walnuts on a flat sheet of parchment paper until hardened.

3. Assemble salad. Garnish with walnuts and drizzle with dressing.

Share

Turkish Shepherd’s Salad

This is a healthy — yet addictive — salad that goes great as a side with any Middle Eastern dish, such as mujadarah. A single recipe makes enough to serve 2-4 (depending on how many other items are on your menu), but I like to make a triple recipe and have it on hand over a few days for a healthy meal or snack. I got the idea for this Shepherd’s salad from a wonderful version I enjoyed at the Turkish Kitchen in New York. They serve great Turkish food in a very trendy, nightclubish atmoshpere. The Turkish salad is a must-order there. I love the burst of flavor from the briney kalamata olives, a lovely contrast to the fresh, crunchy vegetables and parsley.

Shepherd’s Salad:

1 1/2 cups diced persian cucumber

1 cup diced roma tomato

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained

1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped

1/3 cup minced red onion

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Toss all ingredients in a medium bowl to combine.

Share

Carrot Ginger Dressing

I’m busy early in the week this semester. When the days are long and I’m getting tired, I’m always tempted to order in or hit the salad bar at Whole Foods. Just a little Sunday night preparation, however, goes a long way. Last night, for example, I washed and cut up some romaine, roasted some tofu, and sliced some red onion. By adding some sprouts and this dressing I had a simple and healthy lunch and dinner, and one that will last me at least a couple of days. Despite the very low calorie content of this dressing, it’s amazingly flavorful. Prepare a batch for yourself and let it brighten up your busy week as well.

Ingredients:

1 cup diced carrot (about 2 carrots)

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon wheat free tamari

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

pinch salt to taste

Directions:

Blend everything in a blender until fairly smooth. Dressing will be thick and carrots will still have some texture, but no crunch. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

Share

Peanutty Stir-Fry Salad

food 031I think one of my favorite flavor combinations in the whole world is peanut butter with soy sauce, sesame oil and chile flakes. Peanut butter is rich and creamy, and seems to perfectly compliment the heat and saltiness of the rest of the ingredients. You sometimes see this combination over noodles, or in some sort of Szechuan stir fry. One of my biggest problems with preparing stir-frys, however, is the fact that my kitchen equipment — and just about everyone else’s in America — is not equipped to make them. The heat needed to make the perfect stir fry requires special burners — something I definitely don’t have on my way outdated oven. For something different, I decided to make a cold salad uses the same ingredients and flavors of a stir-fry.

I just got back to New York after a 10-day trip to visit my family in Michigan. For my last day there, my aunt (another food allergy vitctim) and I decided to prepare a vegan feast. A picture of our spread is below. My aunt’s quinoa stuffed peppers came from Susan O’brien’s Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking, a go-to cookbook for my family. The kale salad is raw and dressed in an almond butter dressing. I will post the recipe soon. While at home, my family and I ate at the Living Zen Cafe in the Detroit Zen Center: http://www.detroitzencenter.org/index.htm. The raw kale salad they serve singlehandedly had me transformed from a kale hater (something I’ve never before admitted) to a kale enthusiast. I have been working on a similar recipe ever since.

food 044This peanutty salad can be served with any number of vegetables or proteins. The sauce would also be great on rice noodles or for dipping. My favorite part is the way the broccoli absorbs all of the wonderful flavors of the sauce. One word of advice is to make sure that the blanched vegetables are very well drained. Maybe the only downfall of the dish when I made it was that some of the water from the vegetables diluted the sauce slightly. It was still tasty, but this sauce is too good to be at all watered down.

Ingredients:

1 package firm or medium firm tofu, pressed with a paper towel to absorb water, then cubed

florets from 1 head broccoli (use the stems for coleslaw)

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

1 green pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

Cooking spray or a little vegetable oil

Sauce:

3 tablespoons peanut butter (or almond butter)

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari (Bragg’s liquid amino would also work)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno

3 tablespoons yellow onion, minced

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Lay tofu flat on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray or drizzle with oil. Bake for 45 minutes at 350, tossing once halfway through.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare another bowl filled with ice water to cool vegetables. Salt the boiling water and ice water if desired. Add broccoli, pepper and carrot to boiling water. After 1 minute, remove to ice bath to stop cooking process. Leave in ice water for another minute, then drain vegetables well.

4. Prepare peanut sauce: add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Toss with vegetables and tofu to serve.

Share