Monday, May 27, 2013

Big Salad: Sea Vegetable Edition

My friends Brock and Heather threw a charming garden party this Memorial Day weekend. Thanks guys! Like me, they get a CSA vegetable box and I remember Brock mentioning to me that they have “Big Salad” for dinner once a week. I like the idea of salad being a meal, rather than something that only gets eaten as an appetizer, or relegated to the status of a “side” (like, vegetables couldn't possibly be an entree or something). That said, if you want salad to be a satisfying meal, you have to go to town with it.

This salad has a special place in my heart because it's similar to a dish that I used to eat when I worked at Cafe Gratitude. It tastes like the ocean because of the sea vegetables, which I like. It's also satisfying because of the creamy dressing and avocado, which make it rich and decadent. Wait, can a salad be decadent? Perhaps not, but this comes pretty close.

This recipe makes one meal-size serving which is convenient, and it also makes use of brown rice which is a good way to use up leftovers. I recommend making it right before you eat it, rather than prepping it ahead of time. The greens get soggy if they sit in the dressing for too long.

1 ½ cups arugula, or whatever greens you like
¾ cup brown rice, hot or cold
2 scallions
½ avocado
1 tbsp dried hijiki
Handful or nori pieces, equivalent to 2 or 3 sheets
2 tbsp Annie's Goddess dressing
1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds

Ten minutes before you want to eat, soak 1 tablespoon of dried hijiki in cold water. I like to reheat my rice for this recipe, but you can use it cold if you prefer. Next, chop your spring onions and avocado. When your hijiki is fully rehydrated and your rice is warm, toss together the greens, rice, scallions, avocado, hijiki, nori and dressing. Top with the sunflower and sesame seeds. 

570 calories. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies 

I'm still kind of confused by the American love affair with peanut butter. I can't stand PB&J, or understand the appeal of Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. The closest I've ever come to sharing this national obsession was when I tried this recipe. It showcases peanut butter at its absolute best. This recipe will be popular with kids and adults, and really anyone who has a sweet tooth. Again, I can't claim credit for this invention; it's adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero. The original recipe has peanuts on top, but I think chocolate chips are better. Follow your heart and use whatever topping is fun for you.

This is what it looks like before it goes into the oven:

3/4 cup peanut butter*
1/3 oil
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy milk, or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips, approx (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 X 8 baking dish (Pyrex or metal will be fine). Mix together the peanut butter, oil, sugar, milk and vanilla using a fork – this part can be pretty hard work! When the batter is smooth, sift the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. It will form a thick mixture. Put this into the pan, then spread it around and smooth it down, making sure that it reaches the edges – I recommend using your hands to do this. Put your nuts or chocolate chips on top and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before attempting to cut it. Cut it 3 by 3 to make 9 servings. Or, if you don't mind it crumbling, you can dig into it right away.

After it comes out of the oven: 

* You can use whatever kind of peanut butter you like. I used Safeway Organics Crunchy, which worked out really well. I tend to buy peanut butter without added sugar because I like to have something slightly healthier and not-too-sweet to snack on. If yours has sugar, you might want to reduce the amount you add to the recipe by a tablespoon or two. 

360 calories per serving, approx. 

Sweet Chili Stir Fry with Beyond Meat

My friend Kedar works for Beyond Meat. For those who haven't tried it, Beyond Meat is a new vegan chicken-type product. It is significantly better than other mock chicken options, mostly because of the wonderful texture. The developers spent years working with soy and pea protein, trying to get the bite just right. Their work paid off, because this product is delicious.

Beyond Meat was originally available only in the deli counter at Whole Foods. Now it's available pre-packaged, also at Whole Foods, so you can take it home and make your own recipes with it. It currently comes in three styles; lightly seasoned, grilled, or Southwest. Find it in the refrigerator along with the seitan, tempeh, veggies sausages, etc.

This recipe uses 2/3 of a package of Beyond Meat. I used the rest to make a really simple sandwich; just wholewheat bread, Beyond Meat and honey mustard. I meant to photograph it, but it was so damn good that I ate it all before I could reach for my camera. 

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 red onion

3 carrots

1 green bell pepper

6 radishes

2/3 package of Beyond Meat, equivalent to 8oz

4 tbsp sweet chili sauce*

2 tsp soy sauce

Chop your veggies. Try cutting the carrots diagonally to make them look cute, and slice the radishes lengthways into four. I don't peel my carrots; it seems like a waste of valuable time and I heard that the skins are extra healthy. Heat up the oil in a pan. Add the onion and carrots and cook for five to ten minutes, until the carrots have softened slightly. Add the soy sauce and bell pepper and cook for another two minutes. Then add the radishes and Beyond Meat. Continue to cook until the Beyond Meat has warmed through, about three minutes. Stir in the sweet chili sauce. Serve with brown rice or noodles. 

This recipe makes 3 servings, each with 255. 

* I'm using Safeway Select Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. It's more sweet than spicy; good for stir frying and dipping. Probably not the healthiest product ever. Feel free to make your own sauce if you want to cut back on the sugar a bit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Parsley Salad with Tempeh and Grilled Apricots

Parsley, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and apricots are all in season, and this recipe combines all of them. An excellent way to use your seasonal veggies. The parsley, in particular, gives this salad an incredibly fresh and healthy flavor which is very refreshing on a hot day.

For the parsley salad:
2 bunches parsley
Pint of cherry tomatoes
1 zucchini
½ jar kalamata olives
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Generous pinch of salt

Chop everything up and mix it together in a big salad bowl. It makes four ample servings and keeps well in the fridge for several days. I made it for dinner on Sunday evening and ate it for lunch on Monday and Tuesday as well, which worked perfectly.

For dinner, I served it with tempeh and grilled apricots. I sauteed the tempeh in olive oil with a little bit of sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce, and popped the apricots under the grill after cutting them in half and rubbing them with olive oil. Today, I tried serving the same salad with chick peas and avocado tossed in for a wholesome lunch.