Asian Broccoli Bowls

We love ethnic food in our house and since transitioning to a predominately vegetarian diet, we love it even more! So many ethnic dishes are already tailored towards plant-based eating. This dish was inspired by the Peas and Thank You recipe Szechuan Broccoli and Quinoa. I made a few minor adjustments to the sauce and added several ingredients to make this a main-dish meal for us. It’s so tasty that I’ve made it twice in the last week! And the leftovers are delicious too!

Feel free to substitute your veggies of choice, just adjust cooking times as needed.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and instructions deter you from trying this. Once you get your veggies prepped, this meal comes together quite quickly.

Asian Broccoli Bowls

ASIAN BROCCOLI BOWLS
(adapted from peasandthankyou.com)
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Cooked Quinoa or Brown Rice (use half broth for the cooking liquid)

1-1/2 lbs broccoli florets
1/2 lb mushrooms, cut into chunks
1-2 onions, cut into chunks
sesame oil and/or olive oil for drizzling
season to taste

1/2 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
sesame oil and tamari sauce for drizzling
season to taste

Sauce
1/4 c. tamari
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1 Tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce, such as Thai Kitchen Brand (opt.)
1/4 tsp ginger powder
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook the quinoa or brown rice according to package instructions.

Cut the tofu into cubes. Lay a clean towel on a cutting board and place the tofu on top. Either fold over that towel to cover or lay a second towel on top. Place another cutting board or baking sheet on top and stack a few heavy items to create a tofu “press.” (Cookbooks work well.) Leave the tofu to press for 30-60 minutes.

Cut up veggies.

Preheat the broiler.

Arrange mushrooms and onions on a medium baking sheet and drizzle with a little sesame oil or olive oil; if desired, sprinkle with a little salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder, if desired. Arrange pressed tofu cubes onto another medium baking sheet, drizzle with a little sesame oil and tamari sauce; if desired, season with a little salt, ginger powder, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Arrange broccoli florets on a large baking sheet and drizzle with a little sesame oil.

If your oven size allows, broil the mushrooms and onions alongside the tofu for 10-15 minutes, stirring once. Then place on the bottom rack to keep warm while you broil the broccoli for 6-9 minutes, stirring once and making sure not to burn.

While the veggies and tofu are broiling, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Lower heat and simmer for a minute or two, until thickened. Remove from heat.

Scoop quinoa or rice into each bowl, top with the roasted veggies and tofu, drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

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CSA

Our family is participating in a Community Supported Agriculture share this summer/fall. We had our first share this week and I am so excited! It is wonderfully fresh and beautiful produce that will stretch my creativity. This week, we are enjoying fresh herbs, peas (2 kinds!), onions, swiss chard, strawberries, garlic scapes, asparagus, and lettuce. I made creamed peas & potatoes last night and topped it with fresh chives and just had to make strawberry shortcake. We LOVED both (I’ll post the recipes in coming posts). Anyway, check out CSAs in your area – buying local is awesome!

Organic Fruit & Vegetables

Here’s to a summer full of fresh, local, and delicious produce and all of the recipes that will follow!

Molasses Syrup

Our family LOVES pancakes and it’s my husband’s specialty! Last week I made some (mostly forgettable) banana nut pancakes and was searching for a quick syrup to make to serve with them. We try to make our own most of the time since I’m not crazy about all the additives in store bought syrup. We do use pure maple syrup (but sometimes at an alarming and therefore expensive rate), however, we usually top pancakes with yogurt, fruit syrups, and/or homemade syrups. So, while I can’t take credit for coming up with this yummy syrup recipe, I was very excited to find it! I doubled Simple Bites Recipe because if I’m going to the trouble I want some leftover for other meals.

In short, this was DELICIOUS! We love molasses cookies and the flavor was very reminiscent of the warm, spicy flavors of a fresh cookie. A few notes – 1) a little goes a long way, 2) this was amazing on hot cereal like oatmeal and cream of wheat, and 3) it stores well and would probably be quite good on vanilla ice cream or gingerbread.

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MOLASSES SYRUP
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1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
3/4 c. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tb. salted butter

In a small pot, whisk together sugar, molasses, water, and cinnamon over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil and continue stirring until ingredients are fully incorporated and syrup thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Cool slightly. Transfer to a pitcher for serving or a glass jar for storing.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups syrup

**Of note, Simple Bites has 4 other great-looking syrups in this post!

Dairy-free Queso

I cannot in the least take credit for this recipe. When it comes to homemade, vegan cheese alternatives, I am still very much in the learning stage. But, as I explore the dairy-free world, I’m always happy to find a good recipe. And maybe before too long I’ll be adept enough to create my own dairy-free “cheese” recipes.

I made a batch of this cashew queso recipe, with two notable alterations: I did not add the miso because I didn’t have it on hand and I added a 1/2 tsp of chipotle chile powder for a smoky undertone. Additionally, I made sure to include the optional nutritional yeast. While the recipe is a little labor intensive, I felt like it was worth the effort. Plus the queso keeps and re-heats well. (Note: if you do use the miso, check to make sure it is gluten-free if you need that. As I understand it, not all miso is gluten-free.)

Cashew Queso Nachos

For a quick weeknight meal I made nachos (something we rarely eat, but certainly enjoy) by topping tortilla chips with a spiced pepper, onion, and bean mixture and some queso. I broiled it all for a couple of minutes and then added some guacamole (makes any Mexican dish tastier!) and green onions. It was delicious!

Collard Green Wrap

Today’s post is not really a recipe, but rather a concept. 🙂 Overall, being gluten-free isn’t altogether difficult, but there are times when I miss the ease of everyday breads, tortillas, and other baked goods. It takes more effort to make or more financial investment to purchase adequate alternatives.

My pantry typically includes corn tortillas for soft tacos or enchiladas, rice cakes for snacks, and Rudi’s Multigrain GF Bread for toast, garlic bread, and pb&j sandwiches.  Occasionally I splurge on gluten-free tortillas (other than the corn variety) so I can make hummus veggie wraps or bean and grain wraps.

Recently I tried using blanched collard greens for wraps and it worked out quite well. Once blanched the greens do not have a strong flavor, so you’re able to enjoy the filling. Not only does it save some money to use collard greens, but it also facilitates eating more leafy green veggies, which is excellent for all of us. I’ve seen this idea on a few healthy eating oriented blogs, but I followed the directions in the Nourishing Meals cookbook (are you getting the idea that I used this cookbook all of the time?!).

Collard Green Wraps

BLANCHED COLLARD GREEN WRAPS

To prepare the collard greens for wrapping: Wash the greens and cut the stem off the bottom of each leaf. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the collard greens by submerging them in the boiling water for about a minutes. Gently remove them with tongs and place them on a plate to cool.

To assemble your collard green wrap: Place a collard green on a cutting board. Spoon your desired filling near the stem end of the the green. Fold in the long ends of the collard green about 1 inch on each side and then tightly roll.

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

These pita pockets can be made in about 25 minutes. They are dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free, and gluten-free. And despite all that “free-ness” they are delicious. We enjoy them dipped in hummus, as mini pizza crusts, or as pockets to stuff with veggies for a sandwich.

I have found that these don’t create their own “pockets” very well, which just means I have to cut them open myself, not a big deal to me. I also love that these freeze well, so I often make a double batch and freeze half. I like to freeze some in pocket form and some just whole.

The original recipe calls for using just sorghum flour and sweet rice flour. I have successfully replaced up to a 1/4 cup of the sorghum flour with teff flour or brown rice flour. I also sometimes add some herbs or spices depending on what I plan to use the pitas for (ie adding Italian seasonings when I use them for pizza crusts).

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

GLUTEN-FREE PITA BREAD
(from Nourishing Meals)
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1 1/4 c. warm water
6 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 — 3/4 c. sweet rice flour (in the mountains here I always have to add the larger amount of flour, but start with the lesser amount first)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Herbs or spices, opt.

Preheat the oven to broil/550°F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven, not right underneath the broiler.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm water and ground flax seed. Let rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Then whisk in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a fork to mix together. You should be able to form a ball of dough that is not too sticky or too dry. If the dough is sticky add in extra sweet rice flour (up to the additional 1/4 cup). If the dough is dry, add a little water.

Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (I’ve done 6 smaller pitas or 4 larger pitas too, depending on what I’m using them for). Using wet hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and then flatten with your hands until they are 5-6 inch circles. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you’re using a large baking sheet, you should be able to fit all the pitas on there (they don’t spread much). Otherwise use two baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping each pita after 6 minutes. The pitas bubble slightly and get golden around the edges when done. After they are cooled, slice them in half and cut the bread to form a pocket.

If not using right away, layer these between waxed paper and store in a sealed container. Or freeze.

Baked Pasta Chee

This recipe hearkens back to my childhood. My mom used to make this and we all loved it. It’s a healthy, tasty, baked, non-dairy mac-n-cheese-type recipe. And it has become a staple dinner at our house. I make it every couple of weeks and we enjoy the leftovers for lunches.

The original recipe comes from an unusual cookbook called Ten Talents. To add extra healthful benefits I’ve altered the recipe to include veggies. Any chance I can get to add more veggies to a dish, I’ll take. I’ve listed the veggies I most often use, but feel free to substitute with your favorites, or what you have on hand.

One note, the sauce includes an uncommon ingredient, nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast flakes are often used to add a “cheesy” taste to non-dairy “cheese” recipes. It can be found at a health food store and there really isn’t any substitute for it. (Active dry yeast and brewer’s yeast are not anything like nutritional yeast.) I hope you might consider trying this dish despite the ingredient list, it’s worth the effort.

(Finally, I realize this is not the prettiest of pictures. But I promise it tastes delicious!)

Baked Pasta Chee

BAKED PASTA CHEE
(adapted from Ten Talents)
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1 lb pasta of choice (use brown rice pasta for gluten-free)
1 c. raw cashew pieces
1 c. water
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (opt.)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
4 mushrooms
1/2-1 bell pepper
1 big handful baby kale
1 c. diced tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. In a blender add cashews, water, lemon juice, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, salt, and spices. Blend until smooth while slowly adding the olive oil through the top. Then add the veggies and canned tomatoes and blend again.

Mix the drained pasta and sauce together and pour into greased baking dish. If desired, top with seasoned bread crumbs. Bake for 30-40 minutes to heat through.

Serve with a salad for a satisfying meal.

Savory Spiced Nuts

Nuts are a staple snack in our house. In the interest of health, I’ve been avoiding buying the pre-roasted, salted varieties. So, I buy raw nuts and toast and spice them myself. This is our favorite savory spiced nut recipe thus far. It’s also quite easy as it’s all made on the stovetop. Once completely cooled, store the nuts in a glass jar.

Savory Spiced Nuts

SAVORY SPICED NUTS
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1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. raw walnuts
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add all the spices and stir to make a paste. Add almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds and stir to coat evenly. Continue stirring the nuts, toasting until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool in the pan.

Baked Falafel

I love falafels because of my dad. He instilled a love of ethnic foods in all of us. My first falafel memory is an amazing falafel sandwich at a little mom and pop restaurant with my dad. Now when I have the chance to visit home again, my dad and I enjoy sharing conversation over a falafel lunch.

Traditional falafels are fried which makes them crunchy on the outside (and oh so delicious!). This baked version is much more tender, but the flavor is fantastic. My husband and I enjoyed these falafels piled on top of pita with veggies and homemade hummus.

Baked Falafel

BAKED FALAFEL
(from Parents Need to Eat Too)
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1-15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 Tbsp flour or rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, divided
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
Mixture of salad veggies (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mushroom, bell pepper)
Pitas
Hummus, tzatziki, tahini

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Grease or line 2 baking sheets.

In a food processor combine the chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley or cilantro, spices, flour, baking powder, half of the lemon juice, 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until well combined but mixture is still relatively coarse, you don’t want a puree.

Using your hands or a small cookie scoop, shape the mixture into 18-24 balls (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Arrange on the baking sheets and flatten each slightly. Brush the tops with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, then turn patties (rotating trays); bake for another 10-12 minutes. The patties are tender so be careful when turning.

Toss the salad veggies with the remaining lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the falafels with veggies, pita, and hummus (or tzatziki or tahini).

Vegetarian Enchiladas

In our quest for new vegetarian main dishes, my creativity is being pushed into high gear. Very frequently I turn to Alissa Segersten’s two cookbooks, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. Every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. A plus for me is that the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and some are also egg-free. (If you have a chance to peruse her cookbooks through the library, I’d strongly suggest you do. There are plenty of non-vegetarian recipes in there as well.)

Last night I tried my hand at making vegetarian enchiladas from Nourishing Meals. I did make several changes to the recipe, but the essence of it doesn’t belong to me. I love enchiladas and these were delicious! The made-from-scratch enchilada sauce is incredibly tasty and not too labor intensive. While topping them with cheese would be amazing, we just went the route of guacamole (my husband is sensitive to dairy, so we in general avoid it).

Vegetarian Enchiladas

VEGETARIAN ENCHILADAS
(adapted from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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Sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1/4 c. arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Enchiladas:
12 to 16 corn tortillas (I used only 12)
2 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes (feel free to spice these with your favorite Mexican spices)
3 c. cooked black beans
2 c. baby spinach leaves

Guacamole for topping

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper; saute for 7 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; saute a few minutes more. Then add the water and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour sauce into a blender, add arrowroot power or cornstarch; blend until smooth.

To make the enchiladas, first be sure to heat up each tortilla so they are pliable for filling and rolling. Lightly grease a hot skillet; heat each tortilla for about 10 seconds on each side. You can fill one enchilada while the next tortilla is heating. Add a few small spoonfuls of mashed sweet potato, then beans, and finally a small handful of spinach leaves. Roll tightly and place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, pushing the filled enchiladas closely together. Once the pan is filled, top with the sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Garnish with guacamole.