Wednesday, April 29, 2015

tofu musubi + ginger turmeric teriyaki sauce

I think I am going to add a new category to my blog pages; vegan version. Take something that is not at all vegan and make a vegan version of it. I have a head start because I have a some vegan versions on the blog already; my vegan "meat" ballsvegan nachos, and vegan tofu quiche, just to name a few.

But this one is my new favorite. No, its not bursting with nutrients and leafy greens, but it is a super fun and much healthier version of a popular Hawaiian convenience food; the spam musubi. If you aren't familiar with the original spam musubi it consists of a block of white rice topped with teriyaki marinated and fried spam, wrapped in a strip of nori seaweed. It's not something that I have eaten in at lease five years, nor have I ever craved one since. But I have always wanted to recreate it in a healthy vegan way.

There are actually little devices to shape musubis, but a small rectangular container (or a spam can) and a bit if plastic wrap or parchment paper will get the job done!

To start with, you are going to need some brown sushi rice.
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp water
Cook the rice normally (2:1 water to rice) and add the rice vinegar and extra water at the end, cook until moisture has been absorbed by the rice and is nice and sticky. Chill to room temp.

Now for the tofu. Cut tofu into pieces about 1/4 inch thick and the size of a piece of spam, or the size of the rectangular container you are using to shape your rice. Basically, you want the tofu to be the same shape as your rice block. This recipe made 5 rice blocks, so I fried 5 pieces of tofu.

I just dipped the pieces of tofu in soy sauce and then coated them in a little mixture of nutritional yeast, chili powder, and garlic powder. Fry the tofu in a little bit of coconut oil until crispy and set aside to cool.

Now make the sauce. This is not really "teriyaki", but it is perfect for dipping tofu musubis! It is also packed with anti-inflammatory powers from ginger and turmeric.
  • 1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1" piece of fresh turmeric (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • chili flakes (to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp Bragg's amino acids or soy sauce (or one Tbsp of each)
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 2 dates
  • 3/4 cup water
blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender. Done.

Now the fun part, the construction!

Line your container with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Spoon a large scoop of rice into the container and press down with your fingers, dipping your fingers in water so the rice doesn't stick to them. Firmly pack the rice down until you have a block about 1 1/4" tall. Repeat to make 5 rice blocks.

1 rice block + 1 piece of tofu + 1 strip of nori. Layer the tofu on the rice and then center the nori on top. Pinch down the sides so the nori sticks to the rice.

Flip your musubi. Now wet both ends of the nori strip with wet finger and seal them together. Repeat until you have 5 tofu musubis. Dip 'em in da sauce for eat local kine grinds, mmmm.

*A note about nori: because of the symbiotic organisms that live on/in/around nori, it is considered a to have substantial amounts of vitamin B12. This is great news for vegans because vitamin B12 can be hard to get without consuming animal products. So eat your seaweed! (and your musubis :))

Monday, April 27, 2015

lemony fresh mac nut pesto

This is a fresh twist on a traditional pesto. Fresh dill and plenty of lemon make it taste like spring while the creamy macadamia nuts hold it together, perfect for spreading. Other nuts could be substituted but may give the pesto a darker, oily texture. But that is the beauty of pesto, anything goes as long as you have herbs, an oil, and some kind of nut or seed! Be creative!

To start, place these into food processor,
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup mac nuts
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
blend until liquidy. Now add the rest,
  • 1/2 cup dill
  • 2 cups packed basil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
and process until fully broken down. 

* tip: the more you process the runnier it will get because all of the water is being released from the greens, so don't over process unless thats what you are looking for! 

Pesto is a great thing to have around. It's super easy to make and oh so versatile. Spread it on a pizza instead of sauce, toss it with some pasta and veggies, or throw it in hummus, salad dressings or other sauces to change up their flavor. And one of my personal favorites is pesto on toast with slices of fresh tomato and cucumber. So fresh! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

tabouli salad

Okay, so you can look up a tabouli salad recipe anywhere on the internet and it will pretty much be exactly like this one. It's not a new recipe, it's not a creative idea, it's just a super healthy traditional meal that I want to inspire you to make!

Tabouli, or tabouleh, is traditionally from the Levant region, more specifically Lebanon. It consists of chopped parsley and mint, tomatoes, onion, and bulgar wheat dressed with lemon juice, salt, and olive oil (I added some chopped cucumber). It's simple, fresh, easy, adaptable, and seriously delicious!

  • 1/2 cup bulgar wheat 
    • boiling water, enough to cover by 1/2 inch
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, chopped (1-2 Tbsp)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

To cook the bulgar, place it in a bowl and pour in enough boiling water to cover by 1/2 inch. Cover bowl with a tea towel and let stand for 30 minutes. All of the water should absorb, but if it doesn't, just drain it out.

Chop herbs and veggies. Dress bulgar in lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Toss bulgar with prepared veggies and herbs. And, well, you're done!

This is the ultimate picnic salad. I love it with roasted or grilled portabello mushrooms, a side a to a veggie burger, or just an afternoon snack! You can also bean it up with chickpeas or red kidney beans for added fiber and protein.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

matcha + greens smoothie

Here's a quick little smoothie recipe for you! It's bursting with antioxidants, flavor, and a caffeine boost!

Matcha green tea has ten times the antioxidants as regular green tea because instead of just steeping the leaves and drinking the water, you are actually ingesting the whole leaf! Matcha green tea comes from the same plant as all other teas, but it is covered at a certain stage of growth to enhance the green color. It is then ground into a fine powder and is the center of Japanese tea ceremony.

matcha + greens smoothie

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • about 3 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp matcha powder
  • 2 dates
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • about 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop greens powder (I use Garden of Life's Perfect Food)

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender and enjoy! I have estimated the amounts of ice and milk because this way you can personalize it to your liking!

If you liked having this for breakfast check out my other matcha breakfast: overnight matcha muesli!

As you can see I paired my smoothie with a few slices of seedy toast spread with coconut oil. Sometimes a smoothie just isn't enough to fuel a long day! Complex carbs are your friends! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

chocolate + tahini energy balls

These are my new favorite snack. Sweet enough to satisfy, hearty enough to fuel, and easy enough to devour. As you may know by now, I am in love with tahini and I am always looking for good, on-the-go snacks! So these are perfect!

The original genius recipe from Dishing Up the Dirt turned out a little sticky for me, so I had to make a few adjustments. Keep that in mind when you are making anything with dates or tahini, as different brands or types can change a recipe completely! I also used a bit less maple syrup in my balls because dates alone are sweet enough for me! If you like your balls a little sweeter just add a bit more maple, but that might mean that you need some more oats to soak it up! Being creative and innovative in the kitchen is half the fun (the other half being the eating part of course).

chocolate + tahini energy balls

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup soaked dates
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp cacao powder + more for rolling

Grind coconut, 1 cup oats, and salt in food processor until it is a course meal. Set aside. Add dates, maple syrup, cacao, cinnamon, and tahini to food processor and blend until smooth. This is a good time to taste test to see if you want to add any more maple syrup. Transfer to a mixing bowl with oat and coconut meal. Roughly mix with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of oats and combine thoroughly, mixing with your hands if necessary.

Roll into balls and coat with extra cacao powder. These are so tasty and convenient! They hold up and travel well so you can have a sweet and healthy snack wherever you are; we are bringing some to the movies tonight!

Monday, April 6, 2015

veggie packed spring rolls + creamy thai sunseed dipping sauce

It's spring and I am feeling so fresh! I have been loading up on raw veggies lately and feeling amazing! Fresh spring rolls are an awesome way to get your fill of veggies; all rolled up in a pretty little package.

This is a nut-free version of a creamy peanut sauce. If you want to make it peanutty just use 1/4 cup peanut butter in place of the sunflower seeds. This dipping sauce is adapted from the Detoxinista, and is so tasty, I'm going to eat it on everything!

creamy Thai sunseed dipping sauce:

  • 1/3 cup soaked sunflower seeds, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup water

Throw all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. If you haven't soaked your sunflower seeds, just give them a rinse and maybe use 1/4 cup to start out. Allow sauce to set while you construct your rolls. If it gets too thick, thin it with a little water.

My veggies included:

  • grated carrots
  • shredded purple cabbage
  • green beans
  • golden beet, cut julienne 
  • sprouts
  • mints leaves
  • cilantro leaves

I like to use a veggie of every color! Be creative with your veggie choices, or just use what you have in the fridge! I also rolled some tofu spears in with mine to pack in some protein.

You'll need some rice paper for rolling, I made 8 rolls. A package usually gives you about 30 sheets so you'll have plenty of extra!

To roll:

Pour about an inch of hot water into a shallow baking dish, I used a 9X9 glass dish. Place one sheet of rice paper in water and fully submerge. The water should be hot but not too hot, you should be able to put your fingers in it and handle the rice paper, no problem. Let rice paper soak for about ten seconds, making sure all areas get wet, transfer to a wet surface (a wet cutting board works really well) and flatten out into a circle.

Pile on the fillings and fold like a burrito, starting with the two sides (left and right) and rolling away from you. If you are having trouble just try rolling one with less filling to get the hang of it, it's not easy!

Now; dip, bite, repeat.

Fresh spring rolls are always best if eaten immediately! If you are taking them for lunch, keep them from sticking together in a container with a bit of parchment paper. If you have extra sauce, make some quinoa nori wraps for lunch tomorrow! 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

killer lentil tacos

After being a vegetarian for almost four years now, I have no desire to eat meat. It seriously weirds me out, and if you haven't had it in a while, you'll understand where I'm coming from. Something that I really don't understand is why a vegetarian would want a non-meat product that has the taste and texture of meat. For example, at a Mexican restaurant they served vegetarian nachos with some sort of soy "taco meat". I thought, sure, I'll give it a try! Well, it was so close in taste, texture, and color to ground beef that I couldn't even eat it! Out of all the meats, the last one on my list is ground beef! The logic behind the "fake meat" is lost on me. I don't eat meat for lots of reasons, the main one being I DON'T LIKE IT! So why would I want something that was almost exactly identical?!

Anyway, enough ranting! One thing I do like is tacos! Bean tacos, sweet potato tacos, tofu tacos, mushroom tacos, there are so many opportunities for little veggie Mexican masterpieces. And I LOVE lentils; they are versatile, protein packed, and nutrient dense.

This recipe is easy, adaptable, hearty, and fun!

Lentil taco filling (not "meat"):

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils, soaked overnight (will swell into more than 1/2 a cup)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, blended for a quick second
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • at least 1 cup thinly shredded dino kale

Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add onions and peppers. Cook a few minutes and add drained lentils (it ends up being over a cup of soaked lentils). Cook for a few minutes to heat through and add tomatoes (if you like chunks of tomatoes, don't blend them as much or at all), spices and water. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the water is mostly absorbed, add the kale. Cook for five more minutes.

Make sure to taste the lentils to see if they are cooked and soft, if they are too crunchy, add a little more water and cook until done.

Other taco fixings:

This recipe makes 8-10 tacos, maybe more if you are conservative on the filling. Heat tortillas in the oven for a few minutes, layer on the filling and fixings, and enjoy!