Chipotle Sofritas

Last week Michael and I stopped by the mall after work to browse for some stuff. I suddenly got that horrible pregnancy hunger—the one like “IF I DON’T EAT NOW I WILL TURN INTO GODZILLA AND DESTROY THIS WHOLE BUILDING!!!” So Michael suggested we eat before continued. I saw Chipotle and thought of how those warm burritos saved my life after hours of studying in college. As we entered, I saw the sign for sofritas! I totally forgot they added a vegan protein option to the menu! I thought I died and went to heaven!

The sofritas are braised organic tofu  marinated in a blend of spices and peppers. It’s was very tender and very flavorful. It had a bit of a kick, but was not overly hot. I wouldn’t say it tasted exactly like meat (a meat eater would probably be able to tell the difference), but the texture was pretty close.
While I love Chipotle, they can be very high in calories. Even if you make it all vegan. Let’s compare the burrito I used to order in college:

Do you see that? 1505 calories in a burrito and side of chips & salsa. With no meat or dairy! It’s all the carbs and fat. Proof you can still be vegan and eat unhealthy. Let’s make some reasonable variations, like adding the new sofritas and cutting out the chips & salsa:

Just buy cutting out the chips& salsa, you save 590 calories alone. The carbs drop from 215 to 147, and the total fat from 60 to 43. Getting better, but let’s look at what I ordered last week:
A total of 660 calories, way more reasonable. I switched to tacos instead, which saves about 50 calories from the tortilla. I also cut out the rice. Yes, you can get brown rice for added nutrition, but that is still a lot of carbs for one meal, so skip it. I also cut out the guacamole. It is a healthy fat, but it’s high in calories and still is a fat. I add it as treat every one and awhile, but not every time. I also always pick black beans over pinto beans because they have less sodium and more fiber. But load it up with all the salsas you want! They are lower in calories and you get more veggies in for the day.
If you are really cutting calories try this:
A salad with sofritas, only 440 calories. More nutrition from the added lettuce. The black beans still provide some carbs to make it a balanced meal. No dressing (215 calories), but all the salsas will provide enough liquid/flavor to take it’s place at a less than half the calories.
I really suggest trying the sofritas next time, they are really delicious. Just make wise decisions on what you add to your meal. Even healthy and organic food in the wrong amounts can become unhealthy. And if you are pregnant like me, make sure you get enough protein (likes sofritas) with every meal to keep you full so you don’t end up wanting calorie-packed extras like chips. No one want to be losing a ton of baby weight because you didn’t balance meals properly.
ol
I couldn’t get a good shot of just the sofritas without
it falling apart, but it pretty much looks like tofu pieces.
By the way, all the images I used are screen captures from Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator on its website. I really suggest checking to see if you favorite chain restaurants have this feature before you go. You can see what vegan options they have or how you can make things vegans. You can also figure out how to get what you really want, without going overboard.

Potato and Leek Hash

I wanted a hot and tasty breakfast when I woke up this morning. Something filling, but not heavy. I had a few potatoes that needed to be eaten so I thought a hash was in order.

I got another organic vegetable box delivered the other day so I decided to add some veggies for more nutrition. The box came with two giant leeks. I think leeks are a seriously underrated food. They have the texture of a very soft celery mixed with a shallot. The flavor is like a mid onion and garlic. They are high in vitamin K and vitamin A. Like their cousin garlic, it also helps support the cardiovascular system. I love leeks because they provide that garlic/onion flavor, but with a bit more crunch.

This recipe makes one large serving (that is surprising low in calories!).

Potato and Leek Hash
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup water
1/2 of a leek stalk (the lower, whiter part—I have a recipe for the leafy part coming up), sliced thin
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 of a broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a skillet with a little oil (I used coconut) over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and cook until slightly golden on the outside.

Add water and cover. The steam will cook the inside of the potatoes. Stir occasionally so they do no burn.

Once the water is evaporated, remove the lid. Add all remaining veggies. Cook until the carrots and broccoli are soft, and the leeks are slightly golden.

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served mine over some basic scrambled tofu with some hot sauce on top.

A healthy and easy breakfast, great way to start off my day of cleaning and laundry :-/

Deep Dish Pizza

Do you know how to make a food blogger very happy? Buy her a new stove!!!!

As you can see from the rust ring, the old
stove hadn’t been moved in over 60 years.

As I mentioned before, we moved into Michael’s grandparent’s old house and inherited all the old stuff that came with it. Including the original stove from the the 50s. It’s a nice stove and still works, but as Michael put it, “People have landed on the moon since this stove was made.” There was a good sale on end of the year clearance stuff at a local appliance store so we checked it out.

We got a GE 30″ Free-Standing Gas Convection Range, for around 45% off. It was delivered Friday and I was so excited! Finally burners that don’t need a lighter to light! A stove with a digital display and a working timer!

So for our inaugural meal, I decided to make a vegan deep dish pizza. I used a lot Daiya mozzarella, Tofurky Italian sausage, and lot of veggies. I made it in a 9×9 casserole pan since I don’t have a deep dish pan (and couldn’t find my cake pan). I like the square shape, the corner pieces had a crunchier crust.

Deep Dish Pizza
1 red onion, diced
1 cup white mushrooms, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 meatless Italian sausage, diced (I used Tofurky)
1 ball of pizza dough (try my recipe)
1 cup of pizza sauce
1/4 cup cilantro leafs optional
1 cup fresh Spinach
1 cup dairy-free mozzarella cheese ( I used Daiya)
Red pepper flakes, optional

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree.

Saute the red onions in a little olive oil until they soften.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release their water.

Add the bell peppers. Cook until all the veggies are soft and slightly golden. Set the veggies aside.

Lightly brown the diced Italian sausage, set aside when done.

Lightly oil your baking pan.

Roll the pizza dough the shape of our pan (big enough to have it go at least half way up the sides too) and about 1/8 inch thick.

Place the dough in the pan and work it in gentle so it covers the bottom and the sides.

Spoon half the pizza sauce on to the dough.

Sprinkle on the cilantro, if using (it’s Michael loves it on everything).

Place the spinach in an even layer on top.

Now evenly spread the veggie mixture.

Then the diced sausage.

Pour on the rest of the sauce.

Lastly, sprinkle on the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble.

Turn the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes or so, until the cheese starts to get slightly golden (remember that vegan cheese does not get all bubbly, it will just burn).

Let this cool for a few minutes before you cut, it will be so much easier and stay in one piece.

Sprinkle with a little more cilantro and red peppers flakes if desired.

It’s not quite like an authentic Chicago deep dish, but that is probably for the best. As good as they are, they are insanely unhealthy. Michael pretty much inhaled this pizza, didn’t care that it was vegan at all. He was sad when I told him we finished the whole pan!

This was a great inaugural dish for my new stove. Can’t wait to make more delicious vegan food with it!

Haluski: Polish Noodles And Cabbage

Today would have been my Grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away in February (see my Polish Barley Soup post) and I miss her everyday.  I am sad that my baby will never get to know what beautiful and loving person his Great Grandma was, but I am happy her bloodline gets to live on through him. I promise to make him (healthier versions of) Pierogi and kapusta while telling him the stories about her life on the farm in upstate New York and how our family came over from Poland. That is the best way I can honor her memory. I will make sure he is proud little Polish boy, just like she taught me be a proud little Polish girl.

I decided to make a healthier version of a traditional Polish dish, Haluski. It is a simple pan-fried noodle and cabbage dish common in most Slavic countries. I do remember my grandma making this for me once, but she never mentioned it was Polish. The dish varies a bit between the Slavic countries, but most call for a lot of butter and a giant glob of sour cream. Not vegan or healthy. So I cut out the sour cream, and used far less vegan butter. Also, I used a cabbage/kale mix and added some carrots for extra nutrition.  To be very traditional, you should make your own noodles, called Kulski. I have tried a few times to make them, but have yet to master a vegan version yet, so look out for that recipe at a later date. If you aren’t making your own noodles, normally you use egg noodles, which are not vegan. So I used normal pasta (well actually broken up lasagna noodles because that is what I had on hand).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Haluski
3 cups dry noodles or pasta (used a smaller, ribbon pasta)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cabbage/kale mix (I used Costco’s Sweet Kale Mix)
1/2 large carrots, shredded or peeled into ribbons with a peeler
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the noodles according the directions.  Drain and set aside

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Add the cabbage/kale mix and the carrots ribbons. Cook until slightly softened.

Reduce the heat to low.

Add the cooked noodles and caraway seeds.

Stir everything together well. Cook until it is all heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can enjoy this a light main dish, or pair it with some Tofurky Kielbasa to make it complete Polish meal.

I couldn’t help but smile as I ate this, makes me happy to honor my grandma.

Thanksgiving 2013: Thanksgiving Casserole

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved ones. We had a wonderful time in Tracy, thank you so much Lori and James for having us!

I have a lot to be thankful for this year:
  • I am thankful to have married the man of dreams two months ago. Thank you for taking care of me this past few months, I know I have not been the easiest pregnant lady.
  • I am so thankful for my unborn son (I keep forgetting to make a gender reveal post….). This pregnancy has not been very fun so far, but I know he will be worth it. I can’t wait kiss his sweet little face in April.
  • I am thankful for my amazing parents. Thank you for always supporting me and loving me. We all might be crazy, but at least we can be crazy together!
  • I am thankful for all my amazing in-laws.  Thank you to my wonderful parents-in-law for being so kind and supportive through these crazy few months. And thank you to my wonderful sisters-in-laws for being so open and accepting from moment Michael brought me home.
  • I am thankful for my cats. Penny makes me smile everyday with her antics (Did you know a cat can be condescending?). And, I am grateful for Zoey’s snuggles. I am so happy my kama’aina kitties came to California.
So, as I said in my menu post, I made a layered casserole thing. I wanted baked tofu, stuffing, and mashed potatoes—but I did not want to bring 3 separate dishes. So I just combined them into one. It’s not that complicated to make, but a little time consuming.
Thanksgiving Casserole

Tofu Turkey Layer:
28 oz (2 blocks) of firm tofu, frozen then thawed
7 oz (1/2 block) silken tofu
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs herb de Provence
1/2 tps pepper
Stuffing Layer:
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tbs celery leaf
1 tbs herb de Provence
1 tbs sugar
4 cups vegan stuffing mix (just check the label, it’s not that hard to find)
1 medium carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup onion, chopped finely
Mashed Potato Layer:
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tbs vegan butter
2 tbs vegan cream cheese
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a dutch oven pot or a deep casserole pan lightly with olive oil.
Tofu Turkey Layer:
In a colander, drain the firm tofu very well. I mean get it as dry as you possibly can. Squeeze it out with your hands. Don’t worry about crumbling it.
Drain off the liquid the packaging liquid from the silken tofu, but leave this tofu still moist.
In a food processor, all the tofu, soy sauce, garlic, herb de Provence, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Pour into the dutch oven and smooth so the top is even. It will only cover an inch or so on the bottom.
Cover with foil and bake for one hour.
In the mean time…
Stuffing layer:
In a small sauce pan, bring the vegetable broth, cranberries, celery leaves, herb de Provence, and sugar to a boil over.
Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the cranberries burst open and soften.
Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add the chopped stuffing mix, carrots, celery, and onion. Pour the broth/cranberry liquid in slowly, stirring gently.
Once the tofu has cooked for an hour, remove from the oven and spread the stuffing over top (without burning yourself on the hot pan).
Cover with the foil again and bake for 45 minutes.
And while that cooks….
 
Mashed Potato Layer:
Once your potatoes are peeled and quartered, add them to a large pot of cold water.
Cover and bring to boil.
Remove the lid and let them boil until tender (when a fork can be easily inserted).
Drain and return back to the pot.
Add the butter and cream cheese. Mash very well.
Slowly add a little bit of vegetable broth at a time until the potatoes come to a creamy but firm consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the stuffing layer has cooked for 45 minutes, remove the oven and spread the mashed potatoes on evenly (again, be careful).
Turn up the heat to 425 degrees.
Cover with foil and bake for another 30 minutes.
I served this with some simple gravy. I also had some cranberry sauce and corn. It was so delicious, all the flavors of Thanksgiving all rolled into one. Everyone else tried it too and said it was good! I would totally make this again next year.

Thanksgiving 2013: Slow Cooker Seitan Roast

As I mentioned in my previous post I was going to make a seitan roast in my crockpot for my work’s Thanksgiving potluck. It came out awesome!!! This is my new favorite way to make seitan. So easy, very little mess, and it was so juicy!

Crockpot Seitan Roast
2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 soy sauce
1 tbs herb de Provence
1 garlic, minced
1 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 stalks of celery,  cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into quarters

4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large blow, mix together the vital wheat gluten, 2 cups vegetable broth, soy sauce, herb de Provence, and garlic. It should form a moist—but not sticky-dough.

Knead the dough gently for a minute or two.

(I made my dough the night before and left it in the fridge overnight. I don’t think this changes the flavor or texture, so this step is optional).

Shape the dough into a loaf.

Place in your slow cooker.

Cover the loaf with the cut carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion.

Cover the loaf and veggies with the remaining vegetable broth.

Turn your cooker on medium-low and let it cook for 4-6 hours (I put mine in at 8 AM and it was ready around 12:45).

It’s ready when the seitan firm (but not hard) and no longer chewy….and obviously when vegetables are soft. There should be a little broth left (which should have tons of flavor by now and will make a great thin gravy).

I found a nice platter in the cabinet at work, so I sliced up the seitan and plated everything nicely. The president of the company—who is a big meat eater—took a sliced and liked it! I had to go back to work so I forgot to see if any was left afterwards….so  I am going to imagine it was all gone 🙂

This is a seriously awesome and easy meal, any time of the year.

Apple Walnut Salad with Tofu

Part of my prenatal care includes a nutritionist, which I think all prenatal programs should have. An expert separate from your OB/GYN that just focuses on how you are eating and proper weight gain. As knowledgeable and beneficial my nutritionist is, I am kind of annoyed with her. I told her I was vegan—no animal products, honey, or eggs. Then we went over my diet. She said it was one of the healthiest she has seen in awhile. Then she went over my blood work. Again, is was amazing. And she had no complaints about my weight gain so far. Then she hits me, “I am sorry, but legally I need to classify you as nutritionally high risk.”

WHAT? High risk nutritionally? Because I chose to break from the standard American diet and not to eat meat loaded with fat and antibiotics? Or dairy loaded with hormones?

Then she reassured me that I am healthy and the baby is healthy, so all that matters. It’s just a legal term. Her only suggestion was I eat one more serving of leafy greens every day. So I have made this giant, veggie-packed salad for lunch most days now.

And yes, this salad has plain tofu. If you do not like the taste of plain tofu (I actually do), you can marinade and cooked it first. But honestly, with all the dressing and veggies, you don’t even notice the tofu.

Apple Walnut Salad with Tofu
3 cups leafy greens (any combination of dark lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, etc.), washed and dried
1/4 cup carrots, chopped or shredded
1 Fuji apple, chopped
1/4 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
3 oz extra firm tofu,  drained and cubed
2 tbs Annie’s Lite Goddess Dressing
Cracked black pepper, to taste

In a big bowl, mix together all the ingredients. It’s that easy!

You can use any dressing you like, but Lite Goddess is amazing! This is just not for pregnancy, but make a great lunch for everybody. The nutrients of the dark green vegetables, vitamin C from the apples, vitamin A in the carrots, and healthy fat from the walnuts. I even suggest throwing in some avocado chunks too. High risk pregnancy my ass…

Thai Pumpkin Curry

I have professed my love for Fall and pumpkins before (check out my pumpkin carving and Pumpkin Waffles posts).  This past weekend Michael and I went back to the Half Moon Bay area to pick pumpkins. We decided to skip the Pumpkin Festival and all the traffic/chaos this year.

We went Arata’s Pumpkin patch, a cute little place just south of Half Moon Bay on Highway 1. It was pretty busy, but not as crowded as the Pumpkin Festival would have been. We picked our pumpkins and smiled at all the cute babies running in the patch and climbing the hay bails. It got us excited to take our little pumpkin next year.

The bump has started to appear

We each got a pumpkin to carve. Plus, we bought an extra little pumpkin and butternut squash to cook with later. I am not sure what to do with the butternut yet, but I knew the little pumpkin was destined for Thai curry. Roasted pumpkin adds another layer of flavor to a creamy and spicy curry. This is variation of my Yellow Vegetable Curry, trying to make it more authentic tasting.  I decided to make it in the crockpot so it could have plenty of time for all the flavors to mend.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Thai Pumpkin Curry
1 small pumpkin
1/2 tbs coconut oil
1 small white onion, chopped
1 half inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic
1 eggplant, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of broccolini (normal broccoli is fine), cut into half inch pieces
1 large carrot (or 15 baby carrots), chopped
1/2 cup snap peas
1 can of coconut milk
4 cups water
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs Sriracha
1/2 tbs tamarind chutney (or paste)
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
1 bundle of lemongrass
3 cardamom pods
10 large basil leaves, chopped
6 mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Carefully cut the crown off the top of your pumpkin (see my pumpkin carving post for more details).

Now carefully cut the pumpkin in half.

Scoop out all the seeds and membranes.

Lightly spray the insides of the pumpkin halves with cooking spray.

Place skin side down into a baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until soft and tender.

Set aside to cool.

Once cool, remove the meat from the skin (I suggest a small knife and just cut away the skin and rind).

Cut it into cubes.

Plug in your crockpot and set to low.

Add the coconut oil.

Once it is melted, add the onions, garlic, ginger. Let is cook for a minute.

Add the chopped eggplant, bell pepper, broccilini, carrots, and snap peas.

Pour in the coconut milk and water. Mix well.

Add all remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper. Mix well.

Cover and cook until the veggies are soft, about 2 hours. You may need to adjust temperature and time for your crockpot.

Serve over jasmine rice. Garnish with basil, mint, and/or cilantro.

Tons of vitamins and flavor! I lovely fall dish.

Green Chili Stew

I fell asleep on the couch last week (one of the joys of being pregnant) while watching Food Network. As I started to wake up, I heard something about roasting hatch chilies for green chili strew. By the time I actually woke up, the show was over so I have no idea what it was or who was making. It still sounded good so I decided to make it for dinner.

This stew came out FANTASTIC. When Michael walked in the door he said it smelled like his grandma was cooking (he is half Hispanic, his grandparents were of Spanish decent born in New Mexico).  He is not a big soup or stew fan, but he asked for a second bowl!

Sadly, I don’t have hatch chilies right now. And, I did not feel like going to the store to by anaheims or some other chili. So I just used the jalapenos already in my fridge. It still came out AMAZING, but would be even better with hatches if you can get them.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Green Chili Stew
6 jalapenos
3 tbs olive oil
1 block of extra firm tofu, cubed
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs flour
4 cups water (or vegetable broth)
1 large tomato, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish

Roast the whole jalapenos. I did this over my gas stove burner. You can also do it in the broiler or over a grill. You want a nice black char on the skins.

Pop the roasted peppers into a zip lock bag and let them cool. The steam will loosen the skins. Once cooled, remove the charred skins and the stems.

Chop the jalapenos.

In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.

Lightly brown the tofu.

Add the chopped onions and carrots, saute until they start to soften.

Add the garlic and cook saute for a minute.

Add the flour and coat the veggies well.

Add the water and mix together well. Break up all the flour clumps.

Stir in the chopped jalapenos.

Turn the heat down the low and let the broth thicken slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Removed from the heat and add the diced tomatoes.

Garnish with a little cilantro and serve.

A warm tortilla on the side and you have a very tasty dinner!

Tofu and Broccoli

I need to say a giant apology for not posting for over a month. I promise I have very good excuse. At the beginning of August I found out I am pregnant! And then a few days later Michael proposed! And we are getting married next weekend in Las Vegas! Told you I had a good excuse.

I am so happy and excited to marry the man I love and start a family with him. But this past month has not been easy. I lost my job, which is probably for the best. It was not a good fit for me and I am not sure how much longer I could have worked due to horrible morning sickness. And do you know how much fun planning a wedding is when you are beyond exhausted all the time? Not at all.  I am so grateful for all love and support from my family and friends. Especially my mom, I could not do this all without you!

I will talk more wedding and baby stuff in later posts…

So, remember that morning sickness I mentioned? Yeah, that phrase is a total misnomer. I have felt nauseous all day and night. Not fun.  Even when I am hungry, my stomach magically cannot hold much food at once. And foods I once loved, I cannot even stand the thought of now. So, as you can imagine I have not done too much cooking lately. However, yesterday I was actually hungry for lunch. So I made up this tasty dish.

I used broccolini, but feel free to us broccoli if you cannot find it. Broccolini is hybrid of broccoli and Chinese broccoli, giving it longer stalks and slightly sweeter flavor. It is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, folate and iron. I love broccolini because the stalks get tender and have an almost asparagus-like flavor.

This recipe makes two servings.

Tofu and Broccoli 
1 block of extra firm tofu, frozen and drained, then cubed
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tps red pepper flakes
1 tps grated ginger
Olive oil
1/2 small white onion, cut into thin strips
1 clove of garlic
1 small head of broccolini (broccoli is fine too), cut into bit-sized pieces
Teriyaki sauce

Check out my previous post about how to freeze and drain tofu.

Cube the tofu and add to small bowl.

Add the soy sauce, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and ginger. Toss together to coat the tofu and let it marinade for at least one hour.

Once the tofu is ready,  heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the chopped onions and cook until soften.

Add the garlic, broccolini pieces, and the tofu with the marinade. Cook until the broccolini is softened and the tofu is slightly golden.

Top with some teriyaki sauce before serving.

I had this over brown rice, but noodles would be delicious too. Simple and high in vitamin C, folate, and iron—all the things a growing baby (and mommy) need.