Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Cabbage and Chana Dal Curry

It doesn’t get much healthier and cleaner than a huge bowl of warm and comforting cabbage curry. This meal is simple to prepare and is packed with flavor, but not packed with fat and calories. Every time I eat this meal, I truly enjoy every bite and feel completely satisfied after eating it. 

Cabbage and chana dal curry is proof that a meal can be both delicious and nutritious. Thanks to the aromatic garlic, ginger, onions, and spices, a simple pile of chopped veggies becomes a decadent and memorable dish. I like to serve this curry with a side of basmati rice as a vegan entree, but it can also be served as a healthy side dish alongside other Indian dishes. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garam masala

¼ c. chana dal or yellow split peas, cooked

3-4 c. cabbage, chopped

Salt to taste

Chopped cilantro, for topping

Basmati rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat ½ c. water over medium high heat. Add the cabbage and cook for about 3 3-4 minutes, or until slightly tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside on a plate. Dry the skillet quickly.

Using the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and chana dal and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage back into the skillet and cook until the cabbage is tender (but not mushy). Season with salt. Serve with basmati rice. 

Categories
Salads Vegan Vegetarian

Lahpet Thoke (Burmese Fermented Tea Leaf Salad)

Several years ago, I ate a salad while on vacation in northern California that was life changing. This lahpet thoke salad was so divinely different than anything I had ever eaten. It was a tastebud-altering experience, to say the least. My mind was boggled by the combination of the complex flavors and the simplicity of the ingredients. 

While I was still sitting in the unassuming Burmese strip-mall restaurant in which this salad first graced my palate, I vowed that I would learn to make this incredible salad on my own so that I could eat it as often as possible. I went home and got to work on replicating this salad. As it turns out, it wasn’t quite as simple as I thought to create a truly wonderful lahpet thoke. 

After many attempts and a few years of not quite “getting it,” I think I have finally found the right balance of ingredients. I have discovered that the true secret ingredient in a good lahpet thoke is a good quality sencha tea.  If you decide to make this, don’t get the cheapest sencha available. Spend a little more to get big, leafy tea without sticks. I promise it’ll be worth it. You may never eat a “normal American” salad again. 

Ingredients:

Fermented Tea Leaves:

¼ c. sencha tea leaves, loose

1 c. water

1 c. vinegar

¼ c. sesame oil

¼ c. olive oil

1 Tbsp. maggi seasoning or dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. fish sauce or vegan fish sauce

Juice from one lemon

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt to taste

Salad:

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped 

2 roma tomatoes, diced

½ c. peanuts

½ c. sunflower seeds, shelled

¼ c. toasted sesame seeds (I prefer black and white)

½ c. fried chana dal or yellow split peas (see instructions below) 

¼ c. fried garlic, prepared or homemade

Lemon wedges, for serving

The fermented tea leaves will need to be prepared 2-3 days before the salad is served. To prepare the tea leaves, you should first remove any twigs that may be mixed in with the leaves. This is important because you don’t want to bite down on a hard twig when you’re enjoying your divine salad. 

Next, boil the vinegar and water. Remove from the heat and steep tea leaves in the liquid for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse. Then, steep the tea leaves in a bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Drain and squeeze out any extra liquid by pushing the leaves against the strainer. 

Place the tea leaves in a food processor, along with the sesame oil, olive oil, maggi seasoning, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Process until the leaves are finely minced. Season with salt and process quickly again. Place the tea leaves in an airtight glass container and set in a cool dark place. Allow the leaves to ferment for 2-3 days.

To make the chana dal, soak 1 c. of chana dal for 4 hours and then drain. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chana dal to the pan and stir until cooked. Place the cooked chana dal on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Season with a small dash of turmeric, chili powder, salt, and pepper. 

To make the salad, place the ingredients in separate piles around two plates (dividing ingredients equally). Make sure to include a big scoop of the tea leaves in the center. Squeeze lemon on top, if desired, mix together all of the ingredients, and enjoy!

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Chinese Mushroom and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Mushrooms are one of the best foods in the world, in my humble opinion. They come in all shapes, sizes and textures and always taste so earthy, meaty and satisfying. Mushrooms are simple to prepare and never complicated in taste. When cooking mushrooms, my belief is that they should not be overpowered by too many ingredients because they are amazing by nature. 

While the star of the show in this quick and amazing Chinese mushroom and bok choy stir fry is definitely the complex and earthy shimeji and beech mushrooms, this dish is further enhanced by the fresh and clean taste of the tender, but crunchy bok choy. These lovely vegetables are lightly coated in a simple sauce so that their beautifully natural flavors shine though – just like nature intended. 

Ingredients:

½ lb. Shanghai bok choy or very small baby bok choy, cleaned and halved lengthwise 

1 package of seafood  (white beech) mushrooms, hard ends removed 

1 package of shimeji mushrooms (enoki would work too), hard ends removed

4 green onions, sliced

2 tsp. sesame oil 

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ Tbsp. oyster sauce or vegan oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce 

1 tsp. dark soy sauce

Black pepper to taste

Heat the sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the boy choy and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add a bit of water (2 Tbsp. or so) and cook until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions and toss together for about 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms, oyster sauce, and soy sauces and cook, tossing, for about 2 minutes (or until the liquid evaporates). Season with black pepper to taste. 

Serve hot as a side dish or a main course with steamed rice. 

Categories
Soups Vegan Vegetarian

Thick and Hearty Vegan Chili

If you think you need to put meat in chili to make it rib-stickingly delicious and hearty, I hate to break it to you . . . but you’re wrong. Really, really wrong. This vegan version of chili is full of beautifully-colorful and nutritious veggies and protein-packed beans, making it an ideal choice for a meatless dinner that your whole family will love. 

On top of being healthy, this thick and hearty vegan chili is (gasp!) actually even more tasty than traditional, meaty chili, in my humble opinion. Serve this with a thick chunk of cornbread, a side salad, on top of nachos, or all alone. Whatever way you choose to serve and enjoy this chili, I’m guessing you will want to make it a staple at your house from here on out.  

Ingredients:

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium sweet potato, diced

1 4 oz. can of green chiles

1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can of kidney beans

1 15 oz. can of corn

1 c. vegetable broth

2-3 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cumin

2 tsp oregano 

1 tsp. paprika

Salt and pepper

Serve with:

Shredded cheese (or vegan cheese)

Sour cream (or vegan sour cream)

Green onions

Cilantro

Lime

Tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, red bell pepper, sweet potato and green chiles and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the spices, except for salt and pepper, and mix with the cooking vegetables for one minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes so that the flavors have time to infuse. Feel free to add more broth, if necessary, during the cooking process. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite toppings!

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!