Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Crispy Baked Gojuchang Tofu

It seems that all things Korean are ruling the planet right now, and gojuchang is no exception. This wonderful fermented chili paste condiment has crept into the popularity level that sriracha has long enjoyed, and for good reason. It’s spicy, sweet, savory, and spicy all at once, and seems to make everything it touches turn delicious.

This recipe for crispy baked gojuchang tofu combines two of my very favorite things: crispy tofu and a complex spicy, sweet, savory sauce that features gochujang as its base flavor. While tofu certainly tastes awesome fried, this baked version is significantly healthier. When the crispy baked tofu is mixed with the gojuchang sauce right before serving, it actually tastes like it has been fried. Isn’t it funny how you can trick yourself into believing something is much naughtier than it actually is, even if you cooked it? I love when that happens.

Ingredients:

Tofu:

1 block of extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. cornstarch 

Salt and pepper

Gochujang sauce:

¼ c. gojuchang

2 Tbsp. ketchup

2 Tbsp. honey or agave

2 Tbsp. mirin

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

Serve with: Steamed broccoli, rice or brown rice, green onions, sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. About 30 minutes before cooking, drain the tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and press it. You can do this by placing a plate on top of the tofu, and then a heavy item, like a stock pot, on top of the plate for about 10 minutes. This will help remove excess water from the tofu. 

In a large bowl, mix the tofu with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add cornstarch. Mix together carefully, coating the tofu evenly with the cornstarch. Spread out the tofu on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, flip over, and bake for 15 more minutes or until tofu is lightly browned and crispy. 

While the tofu is cooking, combine the ingredients for the gojuchang sauce in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Continue to allow the sauce to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

When the tofu is finished cooking, place it in a large bowl. Add the gojuchang sauce and coat to your preference. I don’t use all of it, so pour and stir until the tofu is “sauced” the way you like it. 

Top with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.

Categories
Soups Vegan Vegetarian

Body-Warming Thai Red Curry Noodle Soup with Veggies

Over the past few weeks, everyone in Colorado has been complaining about how unseasonably warm it has been this winter. All we have wished and hoped for is snow – lots of it. We have longed to ski, and sit under a blanket to watch TV, and eat warm soup. And obviously, we really want to break out our heavy sweaters, hats, and mittens. This week, our winter weather wishes were finally granted. It’s finally cold and snowy, and it’s pretty wonderful – mostly because I get to cook winter meals. 

Is there anything better than a hot meal after coming home from a snowy drive home from work? I think not. It doesn’t get much more soothing than this body-warming Thai red curry noodle soup with veggies. It’s jam-packed with tender noodles and immune-boosting veggies in a fragrant curry broth, making it ideal for blustery days like today that have, thankfully,  finally arrived for winter.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced

2 Tbsp. red curry paste

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 c. cabbage, shredded

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 15 oz. can of coconut milk

7 oz. rice noodles

2 Tbsp. fish sauce or vegan fish sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

Salt to taste

Toppings:

Green onions, sliced

Cilantro, chopped

Lime juice

Sriracha sauce

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse them, and set aside. 

Heat the avocado oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the curry paste, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the sweet potato cubes and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Add the cabbage and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Stir to combine and heat through. Add salt.

Top with green onions, cilantro, lime juice, and sriracha sauce.

Categories
Salads Vegan Vegetarian

Vegan Chickpea and Avocado Salad

If you’re anything like me, you ate full force over the holidays and now it’s time to make better eating choices. Eating clean and healthy food doesn’t have to equal suffering, thankfully. Sometimes it’s even a huge relief to begin a healthy eating regimen after gorging yourself for a month – am I right?

This vegan chickpea and avocado salad is delicious and filling, and is a perfect back-to-work packable lunch that will help to clear out those heavy holiday foods from your body. I enjoy eating this salad wrapped up in large collard green leaves, but it also tastes great alone, on top of a green salad, or on a sandwich. Eat like this and you’ll shed some of those holiday pounds. No suffering required. 

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ avocado, diced

2 green onions, sliced

2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp. Mexican crema or vegan sour cream

½  jalapeno or serrano pepper, chopped

1 tsp. cumin 

1 tsp. red chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

Squeeze of lime

Salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a bowl. Mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until they are mashed, but still a little chunky. Add the avocado and mash in with the chickpeas. Add the crema, green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, spices, and lime and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve on sandwich bread, inside of a collard green wrap, on a salad, or all alone!

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Aloo Palak (Spinach and Potato Curry)

Warm, satisfying, and comforting, aloo palak is a vegan favorite of Indian food lovers around the world for a reason. It’s absolutely delicious and incredibly healthy. This spinach-forward dish is a great way to squeeze in lots of extra greens into your diet. 

The really nice thing about this meal is that it is actually very filling and comforting, despite the fact that it packs in an entire pound of greens! The added spices and potatoes make this meal a winner for cold winter nights and will leave you feeling warm all over. 

While many people eat aloo palak as a side dish, I prefer it as a main dish served alongside warm naan and basmati and brown rice. An extra bonus is that leftover aloo palak tastes even better the next day. Next time you have extra spinach around, make this! 

Ingredients:

16 oz. spinach

1 large russet potato

1 medium onion, finely diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 large tomato, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. avocado oil

1 Tbsp. butter or ghee

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 serrano pepper, finely diced

1 tsp. coriander

2 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. red chili powder

1 tsp. garam masala

Salt to taste

Peel the potato and cut it into small cubes. Boil the cubes, along with salt, until they are tender. Drain and set aside. 

Process the spinach leaves in the food processor using the pulse function until they are very finely chopped. Set aside in a large bowl. 

Heat the avocado oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir for a few seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the serrano, garlic, and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato and spices. Allow the mixture to cook for 3-4 minutes so the flavors can meld together. 

Add the spinach to the pan, along with about ¼ cup of water, and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until it is cooked through and most of the liquid is cooked off. Add the potatoes and stir to mix. 

Season with salt to taste and enjoy topped with yogurt, if desired, and serve with rice, naan, or roti.

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Takeout-Style Veggie Lo Mein Noodles

Next time you’re craving Chinese takeout, try to remember that this recipe exists. Before you pick up the phone to order delivery, stop and think. Do you really want to spend money ordering something that you can make yourself that will (seriously) taste every bit as delicious as the lo mein from your neighborhood Chinese restaurant AND will be ready in less time than the delivery person could possibly make it to your house?  Of course not, silly! 

This takeout-style lo mein is so yummy and is packed with healthy veggies. The noodles are bathed in a truly delicious sauce, and these lo mein noodles genuinely taste just like the ones you get at Chinese restaurants, thanks to the dark soy sauce and hefty dose of garlic and ginger. Don’t skip the dark soy sauce. It’s one of the Chinese cooks’ best secrets. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  

Noodles:

1 8 oz. package of lo mein noodles or vegan lo mein noodles

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

½ c. shredded carrots

2 c. cabbage, chopped

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. light soy sauce

2 tsp. sriracha sauce (or more if you like)

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. sugar

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water (to prevent sticking), drain and set aside. 

Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil over medium high heat in a large wok or skillet. Add the bell pepper, cabbage, and carrots and cook until they are soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the green onions and cook for about 2 more minutes. 

Add the noodles to the wok and pour in the sauce. Cook, tossing and mixing continuously, until the garlic and ginger are fragrant. Serve immediately!

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Coconut Curry with Chickpeas and Zucchini

In today’s episode of the overly-scheduled teacher/mom/friend show, our heroine (me, of course) needs to whip up a delicious, healthy, and lightning-fast dinner. Something that can be eaten between school pickups, volleyball games, high-school football games, homework, and all of the other craziness that goes on when school is in full swing. Enter this amazing vegan coconut curry with chickpeas and zucchini. It’s scrumptious and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. 

Not only is this meal incredibly easy to prepare, it’s healthy, warm, and is even more delicious the next day when you get to eat it for lunch. Who says leftovers aren’t the best thing ever? Not me! Just don’t tell my kids or they’ll start taking my secret stash of amazing leftovers. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

2 tomatoes, pureed 

1 Tbsp. garam masala

1 tsp. turmeric

½  tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 15 oz. can of coconut milk

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas

1 small zucchini, cut into small pieces

Salt to taste

Serve with:

Lime wedges

Chopped cilantro

Steamed basmati rice

Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, being sure to stir frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, and black pepper and cook for 30 seconds. 

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes and stir until combined. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft. Stir in the coconut milk and combine. Add the chickpeas and zucchini, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes so that the flavors and meld together. Season with salt to taste. 

Serve with steamed rice, lime wedges, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Sesame Tofu with Steamed Broccoli

This healthy, baked version of sesame tofu is perfect for those hectic weeknights when you need to come up with a dinner that is both simple-to-make and tasty. In this version of sesame tofu, no animal-based products are included in the recipe, making it an all-vegan meal that is substantial, flavor-packed, and super satisfying.

Ingredients:

Baked tofu:

2 blocks of extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. corn starch

Sesame Sauce:

½. soy sauce or tamari

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. maple syrup 

¼ c. rice vinegar

¼ c. water

1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce

2 Tbsp. corn starch

2 tsp. sesame oil 

Serve with:

Steamed rice 

Steamed broccoli

Green onions

Sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. About 30 minutes before cooking, drain the tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and press it. You can do this by placing a plate on top of the tofu, and then a heavy item, like a stock pot, on top of the plate for about 10 minutes. This will help remove excess water from the tofu. 

Cut the tofu into cubes and place them in a large glass bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, corn starch, and mix together carefully with your hands. Spread the tofu cubes evenly on a lined baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until browned and crispy. 

Combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, rice vinegar and sriracha in a large skillet and allow it to simmer. Combine the water and corn starch in a small bowl and combine to make a slurry. Add the mixture to the sauce in the skillet and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the sesame oil and remove from heat. 

Toss the baked tofu in the sesame sauce until it is coated. Serve with rice, steamed broccoli, green onions, and sesame seeds. 

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Classic Provençal Ratatouille

Ratatouille is an old-school French dish that is made of stewed late-summer vegetables and served with crusty, country bread. It’s comforting, rich, and harkens back to a time when slow-cooked food was the norm. Ratatouille is what your French grandma would have made especially for you as a child because she knew you loved it, even though it took a very long time and lots of labor to make. 

The traditional method of cooking ratatouille requires the slow cooking of each ingredient in separate pans in order to cook each ingredient perfectly. Those ingredients are then combined and stewed together to meld the flavors. You can imagine that this process is extremely time-consuming and requires constant babysitting. Ain’t nobody got time for that in today’s world.

My version of ratatouille deviates a bit from the traditional method because I roast the veggies and then allow them to stew together. The result is a balanced and delicious ratatouille that takes much less time and attention to prepare, which is always a good thing. I think grandma would actually approve. 

Ingredients:

5 large heirloom tomatoes

1 medium eggplant, or two small, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 large yellow squash, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and pulse them in a food processor until they are saucy, but still a bit chunky (think the consistency of a chunky salsa). 

Place the eggplant on one baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash on the other baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place both baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. 

While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, organo, rosemary and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to low, and allow the sauce to simmer. 

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir. Place them back into the oven, and cook the eggplant for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Remove the eggplant and add to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. 

Roast the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash for another 10 minutes while the sauce simmers. Remove from the oven and add to the sauce. Allow the ratatouille to simmer for 10 more minutes so that all of the flavors can meld together nicely. 

Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a little olive oil. 

Serve in a bowl topped with Parmesan with a baguette, on top of polenta, or mixed into pasta.  

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Crispy Harissa Tofu with Almond-Mint Quinoa and Feta

While tofu has gained a lot of popularity in the last decade or so, many people still shy away from making it on a regular basis. I’m guessing that some people just can’t get over the fact (yes, fact) that the white, jiggly cube of wet stuff that is tofu can actually be one of the best-tasting foods ever if it’s prepared well. 

Enter this crispy harissa-coated tofu with almond-mint quinoa and feta. If I was going to write a song about tofu, this would definitely be my muse. This perfectly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside tofu is so flavorful, full of exotic spices, and FUN. Yes, fun! The depth and spiciness of the harissa tofu is balanced by the fresh-tasting, mint-essenced quinoa, fresh cucumbers, and feta cheese; and what results is one of the best meals you can even imagine. So go buy yourself a jiggly white block of tofu and make some magic with it!

Ingredients:

Tofu:

1 package of extra-firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

¼ c. harissa sauce (store-bought or homemade)

Quinoa:

1 c. quinoa, uncooked

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 clove of garlic, minced

Juice from ½ lemon

3 green onions, sliced

¼ c. fresh mint leaves, torn

¼ c. almonds, chopped or whole (your preference)

Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Toppings:

Feta cheese (or vegan feta)

Sliced cucumbers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. About 30 minutes before cooking, drain the tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and press it. You can do this by placing a plate on top of the tofu, and then a heavy item, like a stock pot, on top of the plate for about 10 minutes. This will help remove excess water from the tofu. 

Combine the cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. Combine the coconut oil and tofu in another bowl and mix together until the oil coats the tofu. Then, add the oil-coated tofu to the bowl with the cornstarch and salt and coat the tofu cubes evenly. 

Spread out the tofu on a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tofu is crispy and golden. Remove the tofu from the oven, place in a large mixing bowl and toss with harissa (you control the amount of harissa, it’s a taste preference thing). Place the tofu back onto the baking sheet and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are nice and crispy. 

Cook the quinoa according to directions, but add the olive oil and garlic when you begin cooking the quinoa. When the quinoa is finished cooking, remove from the heat and place in a serving bowl. Add the lemon juice, green onions, mint, salt and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. 

Divide the quinoa among two bowls. Top with the tofu, and serve with cucumbers and feta cheese. Enjoy!

Categories
Sandwiches Vegan Vegetarian

Chickpea Summer Wraps with Hummus Dressing

If you’re craving a super-fresh veggie wrap that is satisfying, flavorful, healthy, and takes basically no time to make, skip the trip to the expensive sandwich shop and make this instead. The warm, soft tortilla and the crisp, clean veggies are perfectly married thanks to the meaty, hummus-flavored chickpeas and tangy cheese that tie all of the flavors and textures together. 

This vegetarian wrap is perfect for a work-ready lunch or a quick and easy dinner that would be great with a side salad or some hot, salty french fries. If you prefer a vegan version, just omit the cheese. With or without cheese, these hummus-coated, garlicky chickpeas are divine and make this wrap very special indeed.

Ingredients:

2 large tortillas or wraps

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 small tomatoes, diced

2 green onions, sliced

1 avocado, sliced into thin strips

½ cucumber, chopped

Handful of spinach 

¼ c. hummus dressing

2 slices of baby swiss cheese or vegan cheese

Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine the chickpeas with the hummus dressing. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Heat the tortillas or wraps until they are warm and pliable. 

Cut each cheese slice in half and spread out over the middle of the tortilla. Place the chickpeas lengthwise in the center of each tortilla. Top with tomatoes, onions, avocado, and spinach. 

Add more hummus dressing and season with salt and pepper, if desired. 

Fold the sides in and then roll like a burrito. Cut in half and enjoy!