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Totally Tubular Tofu Scramble!

15 Feb

If I said you had the body of an all-natural, organic-living, animal-loving, environment-nurturing, whale-saving sex machine,
would you hold it against me? Please?

-Vegetarian pickup lines, via VegNews Magazine

tofu scramble

Oh my goddess… I am in love with this breakfast. And this video:

Shit New Age Girls Say

Actually I love all the videos in this series, but making a tofu scramble for breakfast is something my five-years-ago self never thought I’d do, and makes me feel well on my way to becoming a New Age Girl.

Even worse, I’ve taken to adding kale to this scramble. KALE! I know, right? This is the green I’ve been seeing touted everywhere, and diligently avoiding. It’s bitter and thick and ruffly and way too nutritious to taste good. But in this scramble, it’s actually not half bad. So… baby steps.

kale, mushrooms, onion

I like to start out by sauteing whatever veggies I have on-hand. Current favorites for this scramble are kale, mushrooms, onion and garlic, but you can add in whatever veggies, herbs and spices sound good to you.

Next, I brown some extra-firm tofu, like so:

browned tofulooks like chikkin

Then I mix it all up with a sauce of nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor and a kickin’ dose of nutrients), cumin, thyme, turmeric, salt and pepper, and garnish with fresh tomato and avocado.

tofu scramble

This scramble makes a hearty and satisfying meal any time of day. So get crazy, mix it up, and let me know what you think!

RECIPE – Tofu Scramble

Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Sauce:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons water

Tofu:
2-3 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
1/2 red onion
1 pkg mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3-4 leaves kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

Garnishes:
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2 avocado, cubed
handful of sliced almonds

First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Saute the onion and mushrooms for about five minutes, then add in kale and garlic and saute for another two minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

In the same pan, break the tofu apart into bite-sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Brown the tofu as uniformly as possible.

Add the sauce and stir gently to incorporate. Add the veggies back into the pan and cook to warm through. Serve hot.

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Kuri Squash & Garlic Soup

2 Nov

Last weekend, I had a group of friends over to carve pumpkins. So naturally, we sat around cooking, eating, and talking instead. These are my favorite elements of any party, the only things I really care about. I made a “spooky” playlist for the iPod and a bunch of brand-new, perfect-for-Fall dishes. But I’m not blogging about any of those today. Because my fantastic, whimsical friend Lori showed up that day with a pumpkin to carve and a red kuri squash for me to try, because it looked cool.

kuri squashI’ve never seen one of these before, have you?

I opted to roast it and turn it into a soup with a few ingredients I already had lying around. Here’s how you, too, can make Friendship Squash Soup!

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Halve squash and place in a glass baking dish, cut sides down. Roast for 1 hour, until squash is soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven, let cool, then peel and discard skin. Scrape out seeds and set aside to roast, if desired.* Resist the urge to taste gooey, marshallowey black stuff that has oozed from the squash, as it tastes horrible and is likely carcinogenic. No really – don’t eat it. Mash the squash into a Tupperware container and refrigerate for two days, until you can get around to finishing this very simple soup.

2) Roughly chop 1/2 red or white onion leftover in your fridge. Saute with 1 clove of elephant garlic or 2-3 cloves of regular garlic, and about 2 tsp roughly chopped ginger root until the onions are translucent and soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in mashed, cooked squash.

elephant garlic

3) Transfer mixture to a food processor and squeeze in the juice of 1 lime. With the processor running, slowly pour in 2 cups vegetable stock. Season to taste. Then, because the soup isn’t spicy enough and you are obsessed with garlic, roughly chop and add in some raw garlic (1/2 elephant clove or 1 regular). Key point!

4) Serve warm and garnish with toasted pine nuts or roasted squash seeds. Serves 4.

kuri squash & garlic soup

*And as an added bonus, check out this recipe roundup from The Kitchn: 12 Things To Do with Pumpkin Seeds

Such a lovely snack for work! I could get addicted to these…

roasted squash seeds

VegWeek Day 5, Mexican-inspired Vegan Rice & Beans

29 Sep

“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”
-Hippocrates

VegWeek_2011Welcome to Day 5 of VegWeek – we’re almost to the end! There are a number of great documentaries out on the state of our food system, and if you have Netflix, many of these are available on-demand. There’s a new documentary that just came out this year, called Forks Over Knives. It promotes a vegan diet from the health perspective. As I mentioned on Monday, health concerns are one of the reasons many people opt to reduce or eliminate animal products from their diet.

Forks-Over-Knives

Meat-eating has been linked to a plethora of diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. According to the film’s stats, a person is killed by heart disease every minute in the United States, and 1500 a day die from cancer – over one million combined a year. A third of people born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Forks Over Knives tells the story of two doctors, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., whose independent research ultimately brought them to the same conclusion: the simple prescription of a whole foods, plant-based diet could reverse the leading causes of death in the world today. Specifically, this diet includes whole, minimally refined fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, and avoidance of animal-based foods such as meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as processed foods like bleached flour, refined sugars, and oil.

The film details the history of the American diet and shows how the rise in processed foods and meat consumption directly correlated with a rise in heart disease and cancer. These findings were common throughout the world, in places where the American diet is new, as well as places where meats and dairy have been scarce for a time due to war and poverty. When the meat is gone, disease decreases. When it’s back, disease is on the rise.

To further explore this idea, Dr. Campbell conducted a test with rats, to see how they responded to casein, the main protein in dairy products. The rats’ intake of casein was adjusted between of 5% and 20% of overall diet – the increase our culture has seen – at three-week intervals. Rates of cancer followed this single change, down and up and down again. “This was so provocative, this information,” says Campbell. “We could turn on and off cancer growth just by adjusting the level of that protein.”

There’s so much more valuable information in this documentary, but you’ll have to watch it to learn the rest. I hope you will. Do your research – decide for yourself.

Everyone knows the old adage, “you are what you eat.” If I think of myself being a cow or a chicken or a goat, that might not be so bad. There’s kind of a cool, reincarnationey feeling about it. When I think of myself being a frightened, abused, diseased cow or chicken or goat, it gets a bit harder to stomach. But then, think of this – you are what you eat and everything that you ate, ate. What comes to mind when you think about grazing cattle? Grass, bugs… dandelions? How about feathers, hair, skin, hooves, and blood? Manure? Plastic? All these and more get digested by factory farmed animals and show up in their meat. Chew on that next time you’re craving a burger. [Source: Union of Concerned Scientists]

you are what you eatAnother problem with our diet is the cost of food. Fast food is cheap, loaded with instantly gratifying flavor including massive amounts of sodium, which we’ve our palates adjust to, and, well – it’s fast. Convenient. Logical… There is a distinct correlation between obesity and economic status. But education and awareness could be factors, too. Here is a great article to debunk this commonly held, woe-to-us idea. Food for thought, if you will.
New York Times: Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

Still not convinced? Eat a vegan diet and you, too, can be buff!

Vegan bodybuilders Derek Tresize and Robert Cheeke debunking the myth about plant foods and building muscle. Image via Forks Over Knives.

Mexican-inspired Vegan Rice and Beans

Rice and beans is a humble, staple kind of dish, but I never thought to make it until I caught a quick glimpse of the hottie firemen in Forks Over Knives making it. I love jasmine rice and black beans, and had a host of great companion veggies on-hand, so I decided to try it.

Rip EsselstynHonestly, though, this guy could convince me to eat almost anything.

I love how versatile this dish is, and that it’s a one-dish meal. It’s perfect for workweek lunches. Last week, I made my rice and beans with garlic, red onion, bell pepper, lime juice, avocado, and cilantro.

rice & beans

This week, I decided to try out some “El Burrito Soyrizo.” (Man, I love the name! Had to buy it.) Veggies included were shallot, bell pepper, tomatillo, tomato, lime juice, avocado, and cilantro.

soyrizo rice & beans

My preparation from the first night is below. But go ahead and experiment with this dish, and whatever veggies you have. Olives? Jalapenos? Spices? Vegan cheese crumbles? The sky is the limit!

1 cup jasmine or other rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 (14 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as safflower
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, sliced into cubes and scooped
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Prepare rice according to package directions. Saute garlic until just lightly browned, then add in onion and bell pepper. Cook until slightly softened, between 5 and 10 minutes, then add black beans and rice to warm through. Garnish with lime juice, avocado, and cilantro.

VegWeek Day 4, Spicy-Sweet Butternut Chili

28 Sep

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
-Albert Einstein

VegWeek_2011 Aside from being cruel to animals, the grand-scale farming practices of today are destroying the earth. A few stats for you, courtesy of Peta:

*According to the United Nations, raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops) now uses a staggering 30 percent of the Earth’s land mass. More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals, and according to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed worldwide every minute to create more room for farmed animals.

*Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient. While people around the world are starving, more than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that we grow in this country are fed to farmed animals. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and even fish on fish farms must be fed up to 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish flesh.

*It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months! A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.

*It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.

*According to Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.

*According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the runoff from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined. There are no meaningful federal guidelines that regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement they produce each year. This waste may be left to rot in huge lagoons or sprayed over crop fields; both of these disposal methods result in runoff that contaminates the soil and water and kills fish and other wildlife. The concentration of parasites, bacteria, and chemical contaminants in animal excrement can wreak havoc on the ecosystems affected by farm runoff and can sicken people who live near these farms.

*Many of the millions of pounds of excrement and other bodily waste produced by farmed animals every day in the U.S. are stored in sprawling, brown lagoons. These lagoons often seep or spill into surrounding waterways and kill massive numbers of fish and other animals. The massive amounts of feces, fish carcasses, and antibiotic-laced fish food that settle below fish farm cages also contribute to water pollution and have actually caused the ocean floor to rot in some areas.

*A Consumers Union study in Texas found that animal feedlots in the state produce more than 14 million pounds of particulate dust every year and that the dust “contains biologically active organisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungi from the feces and the feed.” The massive amounts of excrement produced by these farms emit toxic gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia into the air.

animal planet
Responsibility as spirituality – we are all connected.

“This food is the gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that is worthy of this food. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially that of greed. May we eat only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love.”

-The Five Contemplations
Thich Nhat Hanh
Living Buddha, Living Christ

A few years ago, I had the good luck to hear Thich Nhat Hanh speak at USD. The subject of his talk was how to create peace in the world, but for the first half of it, he talked about mindfulness in everyday life. He talked about walking barefoot and feeling the ground under your feet. He talked about eating slowly, with attention, without distractions. He talked about meditation. He spoke softly, and people were leaving the auditorium in droves. But then, almost imperceptibly, his message became exponentially larger. He said that when we eat slowly and contemplate our food, we think about where it comes from, and we touch the suffering of the world. When we eat a cow, we see how that cow suffered. We see the enormous amounts of food and water that were spent to raise it, and all the starving people in the world who do not have food or water. Our awareness then informs our choices.

His call was for personal responsibility, and many people missed the message. I think that’s a good illustration for the world at large. Most change happens slowly, in small ways, and it begins with you and me.

for the children

Vegan Butternut Squash Chili

Recipe Source: Adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess

This chili is a much more colorful and varied version of the typical meat-and-beans version you may be used to. It’s also a bit on the brothy side, kind of a cross between chili and soup.

Personally, I felt it was a bit too sweet, especially considering that the fire-roasted tomatoes and butternut squash add a little natural sweetness of their own. So I’ve omitted the agave nectar and balsamic vinegar from the original recipe, and doubled the spices. I used a poblano pepper and then ended up dumping in some Tabasco, so a combination of peppers (maybe poblano + jalapeno?) might be a good idea. And if you’re not into the heat, of course, you can try it the original way!

I also omitted the celery because I didn’t have any on-hand and don’t particularly like it, and used some fresh ginger to supplement the powdered when I ran out. Next time, I think I’ll use a trio of black, red, and white beans, rather than two cans of black. Basically – there’s a lot going on in this soup, so feel free to experiment!

vegan butternut chili

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
3-6 cloves garlic, to taste, minced
2 teaspoons each: cumin, chili powder, and ginger
1 medium red or white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
3 cups gluten-free broth
1 (28-oz) can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Whole Tomatoes , diced or broken up, with juice
1 cup chopped green chiles, mild or hot, as you prefer
2 (14-oz) cans black beans , rinsed, drained
1 (14-oz) can white Northern beans , or red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
lime juice, avocado, and cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the spices, and stir to heat through for a minute. Add onions and stir for 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients except the lime. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally until chili has reached the desired consistency. Add a little more broth if needed, to thin. Cook for an hour or so until all the flavors have combined and the sauce is thickened and rich.

Before serving, squeeze in the juice from half a lime; stir. Taste test for seasoning adjustments – more lime? A pinch of salt? More heat? A touch of agave? You decide.

Serves 8-10.

Veggie Roundup!

23 Sep

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember the series of all-vegetarian recipes I posted during VegWeek last year. This past month I’ve been researching and gearing up for Round Two, and this time I’m going for the real nitty-gritty! I’m going to share some great vegan recipes with you as well as reviews of books and documentaries, information on factory farming and health, and even some controversy for good measure!

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to recap some of my favorite veggie recipes from blogging days past. If you missed these, or are just looking for some new inspiration, enjoy!

Clockwise from left:

1. Easy Breakfast Frittata
2. Jicama Slaw with Herbacious Spicy Lime Vinaigrette
3. Roasted Vegetable Soup
4. Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich
5. Warm Red Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Spinach
6. Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli

12 Sep

Recipe Source: CopyKat Recipes

As a busy blogger, it sometimes happens that I cook and photograph a dish, only to store it on my computer for a year before blogging it. This happens to be such a recipe, going back to my pre-vegetarian days. I haven’t made it lately, but suspect it would be just as delicious with the ground beef left out, or a meatless substitute.

colorful Pasta e Fagioli

This soup is wonderful and hearty, perfect for a cold day, even a light lunch. I’ve ordered it, along with a salad, many times in an attempt to control my portion size at Olive Garden – the only Italian restaurant in my small hometown.

I like that this soup can serve as a one-dish meal, as it combines vegetables, protein and pasta all-in-one. Throw in a side salad and piece of crusty bread, and it’s very satisfying. This is the first “CopyKat” recipe I’ve made, and it’s pretty spot-on from what I remember ordering in the restaurant. I scaled down the ingredients to make this more manageable for home cooking.

Pasta e FagioliBon Appetit! Or as they’d say on an Italian plate, Buon Appetito!

RECIPE – Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli

2 teaspoons vegetable Oil
1 pound Ground beef
6 ounces Onion; chopped
7 ounces Carrots; slivered
7 ounces Celery; diced
24 ounces Tomatoes; canned, diced
1 cup cooked Red Kidney beans
1 cup cooked White kidney beans
44 ounces Beef stock
2 teaspoons Oregano
2 teaspoons Pepper
3 teaspoons Parsley; (fresh chopped)
1 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
24 ounces Marina Style Spaghetti sauce
4 ounces dry pasta Shell macaroni; or other pasta

Saute beef in oil in large 10-qt. pot until beef starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and noodles. Add chopped parsley. Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 minutes.

Makes about 5 qts, serves 6.

Tip: If you want to freeze this soup, it is best when you don’t add the pasta, cooked pasta doesn’t freeze very well. If you freeze the soup you can always cook up some fresh pasta and stir it in when you are ready to serve your family.

Spicy Chickpea Stew with Roasted Cauliflower

17 Aug

Recipe Source: Herbivoracious via The Kitchn

I love coincidences. In general, I tend to shy away from hippy-dippy assumptions about the cosmos being on my side, or the universe having conscious thoughts about my life. But when I notice little connections – wherever they may come from, whatever they might mean – I can’t help but smile.

This recipe brought about such a smile. I found it while I was pissing away time on facebook, posted by The Kitchn. As I skimmed through it, I thought, “mmm, yes, I am making this soon!” And then I got to the ingredients list and saw preserved lemons – an exciting discovery, because I had a jar of them hanging out in my fridge at that very moment, unsure of what their destiny would be.

I’d first learned about preserved lemons a few months earlier, via my favorite little Moroccan restaurant, Kous Kous. For fun, I’d decided to make them, then do nothing with them. I was thrilled to give them a purpose with this recipe!

preserved lemonsDon’t they look scientific?

Despite the dauntingly long list of ingredients, this recipe came together pretty easily. And while it’s not a fast thing to make, it makes enough to feed an army! (Seriously… the recipe says it serves 4, but I got 10-12 servings out of it. I’d like to know what these 4 people look like.)

roasted cauliflower

First, you start by roasting a whole cauliflower until the florets are tender and beginning to caramelize. I don’t think I left these in the oven long enough because I was afraid of them burning.

spice mixture

Next you’ll sautee onions and add the spices. I’m categorizing this recipe as a curry, but it doesn’t contain any curry powder. Instead, it uses a palate-awakening mixture of cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cayenne, salt, and pepper. The cinnamon and fennel seed were my favorites – so complex, so lovely!

chickpea & roasted cauliflower stew

The chickpeas and cauliflower are added next, along with the preserved lemon.

preserved lemon

I found that the lemon flavor intensified quite a bit as my leftover stew comingled in the fridge the next few days – to the point where it became unbalanced. If you plan to eat this all right away, preserved lemons are a nice way to go. But really, I don’t think it would be bad to use fresh lemons, and it might be better.

chickpea & roasted cauliflower stew

To serve, you can pour this stew over rice, couscous, quinoa, or any other base you might use in a curry or stir-fry. A fresh cilantro garnish adds yet another layer of complexity.

 Spicy Chickpea Stew with Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 10-12 as a main course over couscous (or 4 Texans)

4 cups cooked chickpeas – drained and rinsed, or soak 2 cups dry overnight and boil until tender
2 heads cauliflower
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium white onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
Anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons cayenne depending on your heat preference
1 preserved lemon, minced (or juice from 2 fresh lemons and zest from 1)
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
Flat leaf parsley or cilantro to garnish
Optional: dry harissa, zatar or other spice power to garnish

Cut the cauliflower into moderate sized florets, and cube the stalks. Toss with 1/4 c. olive oil and a little salt, and roast at 400 F (using convection if available) until quite tender and starting to caramelize.

In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, fennel seeds, and cayenne and stir rapidly. When the spices are fragrant (maybe 30 seconds), add the chickpeas and some water and turn down to a simmer.

When the cauliflower is done, add it to the pot, along with the lemon.

Start with 1 T. kosher salt, and keep adding until it tastes right. Add more water if needed to achieve a stew-like consistency. Simmer awhile longer so that some of the chickpeas dissolve a little. Be sure not to let them scorch!

At the end, add the black pepper and do a final check on the salt, spices, and acid. Serve over couscous, garnished with the parsley or cilantro. Dust the plate with the dry harissa or zatar if using. Pass a yogurt based sauce (with cucumber or mint or dill) and a hot sauce (preferably wet harissa).