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Chinese Takeout

15 Mar

Who doesn’t like Chinese food? I practically lived on it while I was in college. My favorite meals were always the ones that were saucy and had lots of mushrooms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don’t get as much joy from Chinese takeout as I once did. Since I started eating healthy foods consistently I have found that the greasiness of Chinese food does not make my belly happy.

Interesting fact: By eating a whole food, plant-based diet I was able to cure my tummy troubles. For at least a year I would have a belly ache after eating (every meal) and lived on Tums and Pepto. I was popping antacids so often that I couldn’t leave home without them; I kept some in my car, in my desk at work, and had to take them on long trips. I never anticipated that my diet was causing all of this discomfort, in fact, I was doing research online about Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a desperate attempt to understand what was going on. Within about a month of changing my diet I realized that I wasn’t taking Tums or Pepto EVER! Since then I rarely have a belly ache, and every time I do I can tie it to an unhealthy meal that I ate (especially dairy). And now, instead of popping something pastel and chalky I have a ginger chew which is delicious and is just the thing I need to settle my stomach.

such cute packaging, don't you think?

But I digress; let’s get back to the Chinese food.

Although I don’t much care for Chinese takeout any longer, I do love all of the flavors of Chinese cuisine – and what’s great, is that you can whip up your own takeout in just minutes and make a very flavorful meal.  This meal came together in under 30 minutes, less time than it takes for you to read a takeout menu, fight over who is going to call it in, and wait for delivery.

 

Tonight I made Broccoli & Red Pepper Stir Fry which had a wonderful sauce and could easily be customized by swapping in your favorite veggies. I also made Miso Soup for the first time… it was the best soup I have ever made! This meal was enough to feed two so make sure to double the recipe if you are cooking for a family or want leftovers.

Shitake Miso Soup (adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore)

1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (about one handful, stems removed)

3 green onions, whites and light green part sliced

2 cups water

1 Tbsp miso

1 tsp kelp

  1.  Sauté mushrooms in water in a medium pot.
  2. Once softened stir in miso adding a small amount of water if necessary to prevent clumps.
  3. Add green onions and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.
  4. Add kelp and simmer until soup is warm. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to enhance.
  5. Note: Feel free to add addition miso, soy sauce, or other veggies/flavorings along with the kelp to make your own customized soup.

I suppose now would be a good time to clue you in on what kelp is.

Kelp is a variety of seaweed and is often used in Asian cuisine. According to Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier, “sea vegetables are among the most nutritionally dense foods, containing about 10 times the calcium of cow’s milk and several times more iron than red meat, sea vegetables are easily digestible, chlorophyll rich, and alkaline forming. Packed with minerals, sea vegetables are the richest source of naturally occurring electrolytes know.”

Kelp comes in a variety of forms (powder, granules, strips) – I have larger strips and toss them in a coffee grinder when I need it ground up. You can find kelp at your neighborhood Asian Food store, health food store, or in the international aisle of many supermarkets. I use kelp (and other sea vegetables) in soups and to make a mock-tuna salad, it adds just the right about of flavor to replicate recipes that use seafood.

Did you know that by throwing in a piece of Kombu (another sea vegetable) when you are cooking beans will add nutrients, improve digestibility, and reduce flatulence?  Surely I couldn’t keep that tip to myself… let’s start making the world a little less stinky 😉

Broccoli & Red Pepper Stir-Fry (adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore)

2 cups water

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets

1 tsp cornstarch

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

  1. In a pickle jar combine water, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, mustard, spices, and Worcestershire sauce and shake vigorously. If you don’t have a pickle jar you could do this in a bowl with a whisk.
  2. Pour half of the sauce into a large skillet and bring to a boil.
  3. Add broccoli and cook over medium heat until most of the sauce cooks down.
  4. Add cornstarch* to remaining broth and shake until combined. Pour over broccoli.
  5. Add peppers and cook over high heat until the broccoli is dark green, the peppers are crisp-tender, and the sauce has reduced down.
  6. Serve veggies and sauce over brown rice.

Don’t worry if you think you have too much sauce, this recipe makes a lot to drown your veggies and rice in J

*Note: If you are concerned about lumps (from the cornstarch) you can pour the sauce through a sieve when adding to the broccoli.

 

I am thinking that the next time I make Chinese Takeout I’ll have a party and I make customized stir-fries for my friends and serve them in Chinese takeout food containers with chopsticks and make homemade fortune cookies. How cute would that be?

 

~Happy & Healthy Eating

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Anti-Vegan Thoughts About Bacon

9 Jan

This week’s anti-vegan thoughts also happen to be anti-kosher…….. BACON!

Many people cannot fathom eating a plant-based diet because they could never give up bacon.

Bacon is has become so popular in recent years you can now:

Dress Your Wounds With Bacon

Store Important Electronic Data With Bacon

Tell Time With Bacon

And Even Pucker Up For A Juicy Kiss Tasting Just Like Bacon

I will not be joining you in these endeavours though, so instead of buying me a shirt that reads I Heart Bacon, please get me a shirt with the whole pig on it instead.

In the meantime, while I am patiently awaiting my new apparel, I will make something that is almost as good as bacon and reminds me of the Bacos that were stashed in the cupboard of the kosher home I grew up in. What kid grows up in a kosher home that has keeps artificial bacon flavored bits on hand??

I’ll tell you, my childhood was anything but normal.

Now in case you want to take the easy way out and just by Bacos, please take a look at the ingredient list.

http://www.generalmills.com/ColorBoxImage.aspx?ImageId={F52B3FC3-726B-4892-A768-A381090D9519}&Width=760&Height=421

If you don’t know how to read an ingredient list or interpret nutritional facts here are some tips (I will also point out the ingredient in this product that I am specifically speaking of).

  1. If you don’t know what it is, it probably isn’t food (Defatted Soy Flour and Tocopherol)
  2. Stay away from anything hydrogenated, hydrogenation is a chemical process and eating hydrogenated food is very bad for your body and should ALWAYS be avoided (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil)
  3. Only eat foods that contain real ingredients (Artificial Flavor)
  4. Do not eat products that list sugar as an ingredient, sugar is like a drug and is added unnecessarily to a number of foods that you wouldn’t even imagine have sugar in them. Eliminating refined sugar from your diet is, in my opinion, the single most healthful way you can change your diet and your body. (Sugar)
  5. Artificial coloring agents have been reported as having a number of unsavory effects on adults and children, stay away from them, they are not real foods (Caramel Color and Red 40)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way we can step into the kitchen and make some delicious REAL food (please don’t judge me for the title of this recipe).

Fakin’ Bakin’ Bits (adapted from Vegan Diner)

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp liquid smoke

1 cup dried TVP or TSP granules

3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil

In a saucepan add 7/8 cup water and salt, bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add liquid smoke and mix well.

Stir in TVP. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in saucepan. Add reconstituted TVP and cook to desired crispness (about 10 minutes). Cool completely before serving.

The reason I made the Fakin’ Bakin’ Bits in the first place was so I could make some soup. I love soup! Sadly, I do not know where I got this recipe from so I am unable to give credit (shame on me), if it looks familiar to you please let me know so I can update this page and give credit where credit is due. By the way, this soup is AWESOME!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2 medium russet potatoes

2 cups broth

1 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 tsp liquid smoke

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 cup non-dairy cheddar cheese

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp non-dairy sour cream

3 Tbsp chives

2 Tbsp Fakin’ Bakin’ Bits

Peel potatoes and microwave on high for 2-1/2 minutes. Flip potato over and microwave for another 2-1/2 minutes. Allow potatoes to cool then dice.

Combine potatoes, broth, milk, liquid smoke, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Puree all of the mixture.

Remove soup from heat and stir in 1/4 cup cheese, sour cream, and 1-1/2 Tbsp chives.

Garnish with remaining ingredients.

Note: I don’t particularly enjoy non-dairy cheese so I only added 1/4 cup to the soup and did not garnish with additional cheese.  Also, I found 1/4 cup of sour cream to be plenty.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe for your family.

Happy & Healthy Eating!

Curry Soup For The Soul

7 Jan

Once in a while I will eat something that has such an amazing depth of flavor that I just can’t get enough. My top three favorites are (1) Medicine Soup  from Angkor in Providence, RI  (2) Mole Sauce from Algusto’s in Tampa, FL, and  (3) Thai Red Curry from my own kitchen.

I’m am sad to report that according to the world wide web both Angkor and Algusto’s have both closed. Looks like I have no choice but to learn how to make medicine soup and mole sauce in my own kitchen. Hopefully my culinary prowess will yield results as delicious as my Thai Red Curry.

Even if you think you don’t like curry or thai food I insist that you try making this just once, you will be amazed. This recipe was inspired by the Red Curry Soup with Rice & Purple Kale located on the Post Punk Kitchen website.

Thai Red Curry

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

3c broth

1c water

1tsp salt

2Tbsp red curry paste

1 bunch kale, chopped

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sizes

1/2 can stir fry mushrooms

1/2 can baby corn

1/2 can bamboo

1 can light coconut milk

1Tbsp agave

handful snowpeas

Saute onion in a soup pot with a splash of water* and pinch of salt until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and saute for one more minute.

Add in broth, water, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Mix in red curry paste until disolved.

Add kale, cauliflower, mushrooms, corn, bamboo. Cover and simmer 15 minutes until cauliflower is tender.

Stir in coconut milk, agave, and snow peas.

Add salt and additional curry paste to taste.

Let sit 10 minutes then serve over jasmine rice.

* I’ve begun sauteing vegetables in water rather than oil with great results. It took some practice getting the hang of this but now I am a pro and use the water similar to how you would use a liquid to deglaze the pan. Just a splash of water at a time, adding more to prevent vegetables from sticking.

If you are new to cooking don’t let the long list of ingredients disuade you from trying this. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • You’ll find the curry paste, mushrooms, corn, and bamboo in cans with the other Asian ingredients in your supermarket.
  • If you don’t like the vegetables that I’ve used swap in your favorites.
  • Red curry paste is spicy so start with less than 2 Tbsp if you are nervous and increase the amount slowly until you reach your optimal spice level.
  • To make the rice all you do is measure out 1c of rice and 2c of water, place in a pot and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for ~45 minutes.
  • If you can’t find jasmine rice try basmati or short-grain brown rice.
  • DO NOT store leftover curry and rice in the same container or you will wind up with a goopey  rice pudding-like mess. Be certain to store the rice separate and spoon the curry over the rice when you are ready to serve or reheat.

Note: I love this so much that I save all of the leftover ingredients (the remaining cauliflower, curry paste, mushrooms, corn, and bamboo) and make this recipe two weeks in a row.  Delicious!

Happy & Healthy Eating!