Cold Soba Noodle Salad

I have no idea if I got this recipe from somewhere. Maybe I made it up! I don’t recall, but it’s similar to many other Asian noodle salads. But I’ve made it for years. It’s light but satisfying. Especially on a hot summer day (though it’s September and I really over this hot weather now). Very simple to make and tastes better the longer it sits, so make a big batch for leftovers.

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, a grain that looks like a seed. It’s also gluten free so soba is great alternative to for those with a gluten allergy. Buckwheat is high in fiber and manganese, and is overall a very nutritious food. Soba noodles can be served cold like in this recipe, or hot like in a soup. I’ve tried them both ways, but I prefer cold.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1 bag (12.8 oz) of Soba noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
Other options:
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup steam shelled edamame
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 tbs toasted nori

Cook the soba noodles according the directions on the package. When done, drain well and rinse with cold water immediately. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mixed together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes to make the dressing. Set aside.

Chop your veggies and add to a large bowl.

Add the soba noodles to the veggie bowl.

Add the dressing and mix together well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Top with some toasted nori and enjoy!

My favorite way to make this is adding all the optional ingredients, but that will have to wait until Jack’s older. I left my basic because I was sharing with my little son. We have started to introduce solids through baby-led weaning. I didn’t think he was quite ready for tofu or edamame yet.

Baby approved!
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Curry Vegetable Quinoa


One day I wanted fried rice, but I had no rice. But I had quinoa though. Then I realized I had no soy sauce. But I had a ton of Indian spices. So I looked up what I could make and came across a recipe from Manjula’s Kitchen called Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf. It looked good so I decided to make my own version.

Curry Vegetable Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Dash of salt
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 piece of ginger, pealed and minced
1 small white onion
Kernels from 2 ears of corn 
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces 
3/4 cup tomato juice
1 jalapeno, minced
Dash of asafetida
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilnatro

In a small pot, add the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. 

While that cooks, heat the coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. 

Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, curry powder, and chili powder. Cook for a minute, just until it becomes fragrant. 

Add the ginger and onions. Cook until the onions are soft. 

Add the corn kernels, bell pepper, and broccoli. Cook until the veggies are tender. 

Once the quinoa is done, fluffy gently with a fork and let it sit for a minute. 

Add the quinoa to the skillet. 

Add the tomato juice, jalapeno, and asafetida. Stir well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with cilantro.

A flavorful Indian version of fried rice, with plenty of protein from the quinoa. No need for meat or egg!And don’t be afraid to make a big batch of this, the flavors get even better the longer it sits.

Tofu Nuggets and Sunchoke Fries

Last Sunday afternoon was dedicated to watching the 49ners, so I decided to make Michael something to munch on while he became engrossed in the game. I had a craving for nuggets and fries, but was out of my usually Gardien  nuggets and frozen fries. Tofu nuggets are easy to make, but I sadly only found one small potato for fries. Then I remembered that a bag of sunchokes came in my organic veggie box. I had no idea what to do with them, but knew they can be cooked like potatoes so I used them for fries.

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are a root vegetable related to sunflowers. They are high in Vitamin C and iron. They look like a mix between ginger root and a potato. But taste oddly like artichoke hearts. It’s nice alternative to the usual potato.

This recipes makes two servings of each.

Tofu Nuggets and Sunchoke Fries
Sunchoke Fries:
6 sunchokes (I threw in my lonely potato too), washed, cleaned and cut into disks
Cold Water
2 tbs salt
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Tofu Nuggets:
1/2 block of firm tofu, frozen drained and cut into bit-sized cubes
1/2 cup Bisquick (plain flour is fine too)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
Dash of Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Once you wash, clean and cut your sunchokes, place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water.

Add the 2 tbs of salt and let them sit for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Make sure your tofu is properly drained—get as much water out as possible. Make sure when you cut into to cubes, you cut them as uniform as possible so they cook evenly.

In a large bowl add the tofu, Bisquick, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the tofu evenly.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and evenly space out your coated tofu.

Drain your sunchokes (do not rinse). Pat dry with a paper towel gently.

Return them to the bowl and coat with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Now spread evenly them on another baking sheet.

Pop both baking sheets in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The nuggets will be slightly golden and the sunchokes should be slightly crispy. You can adjust the times and temps if you like yours softer or crunchier.

Crispy on the outside, tender on the side.

Get some of your favorite BBQ sauce or natural ketchup, then dig in! A healthy game day snack while you watch your team in the playoffs. Michael was so fixed on the game he didn’t notice the fries were not potatoes until I said something 😛

Looks like potatoes, but taste like a artichoke. 

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.

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…

Corn Chowder

One of the best things at the restaurant I used to work at was the Corn Chowder. Creamy, sweet, a little spicy and tons of flavor. So I decided to make my own version at home since I had lovely fresh organic corn from my vegetable box delivery.

This recipe makes 4 servings.
Corn Chowder
4 ears of fresh corn (frozen will not work for this)
Olive oil
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cups soy milk
2 to 4 cups water
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder
Cilantro, chopped
Avocado, optional
Salsa, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the husks and clean off all the silk.
Remove the kernels from cob. I did this by holding the cobs vertical and cutting straight down with a knife over a plate. You can leave the kernels for roasting and cut them off later, but I think this is easier.
Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil and spread the kernels down in an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Some might go a little blacks, that is totally fine.
Set aside and let the kernels cool completely.
Meanwhile, remove the stem from the poblano and chop into small pieces.
Peal the onion and chop as well.
Remove the stem (and sees if you want less heat) from the jalapeno and chop too.
In pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil and saute the chopped veggies until softened. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Next, get out your blender or food processor. Add the corn, soy milk, and two cups of water. It should be smooth, but with a little texture. Add additional water as needed.
Once you get the desired texture, add the puree to the pot with the veggies. Turn on the heat to low.
Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Once it is heated through, remove from the heat and add some cilantro.
I topped mine with some sliced avocado and salsa. Serve it with a warm tortilla or chips on the side too. So good and pretty light on calories too. In fact, you can probably skip the olive oil all together and it would still be great.

In and Out Veggie Burger

source

A few months ago a deal came up on Groupon for the Pitbull and Ke$sha concert in Mountain View. I do not really know why, but I LOVE Ke$ha’s music. I find her as a person a bit annoying though. I guess I like her “be yourself, even if you are a freak” musical message. Must be the Oregonian in me. And, how can anyone not love Pitbull? My mom even things he is sexy. I asked Michael to go with me—more as a courtesy though, he knew he was going no matter what. We had a really fun night. We drank some beers, laughed at the 14-year-old’s dressed like hookers, sang, and danced together.

After dancing to Mr. Worldwide for 2 hours, we were starving. And as a Californian now, that usually means In and Out. I normally get a tray of fries and just watch everyone happily eat their burgers. Now, I do not really crave meat ever, but I do love burgers (veggies ones now that is). I had read an article awhile about that In and Out toyed with the idea of doing a veggie patty burger, but, they do not want to deviate too much from the original menu. So, I assumed I would always munch fries in jealousy.

But I was wrong. I knew In and Out had a secret menu. Michael introduced it to me when I was visiting here and he ordered Animal Fries. However, last week we watched an episode of California’s Gold about In and Out, and someone ordered a Veggie Burger. I instantly searched the internet to find if it was true. And it is true….but not quite.

An In and Out Veggie Burger is simply the hamburger with no meat. Just the bun, lettuce, tomato, sauce, and onion or cheese if you want it. Simply order it with no sauce, ketchup/ mustard instead, and no cheese to make it vegan.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “A bun with veggies on it? Seriously? I can make that at home, what’s the point!” I thought the same thing. But Michael really wanted In and Out after the concert, so I thought I would give it a try. IT WAS AMAZING. The spongy bun, the crisp lettuce, the juicy tomato, the slightly tangy onion, and just the right amount of condiments…I want another one right now, it is that good.

Besides wanting to share the delicious discovery, the reason I posted this to show that you can be vegan and eat at normal restaurants. You can live a normal life and not be alienated by your lifestyle choice.

Seriously, try one next time you at In and Out. SO GOOD! It’s like heaven on a bun.

Organic Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad with Lemon Quinoa

I decided that Michael and I need to eat more organic vegetables. I wish we could afford to buy all organic, especially from a farmers’ market so we could support the local agriculture. Unfortunately, for a young couple just starting out, that is out of our budget. Then I randomly thought of farm delivery service. Most of them allow you to select a package within your price range and it comes right to your door. So I simply Googled “organic produce delivery Bay Area” and a bunch came up. I decided to go with Farm Fresh to You. I like how professional the website is (I hate when business have website’s that look like 1995) and thought the farm’s story was nice. I also thought the prices were reasonable and I liked that you could chose the frequency of delivery. And you can customize your deliveries by adding produce to your exclude list. For  example, I am not a fan of peaches, so I added peaches to my exclusion list. Now I will open the box and go “Ick, peaches!”

I selected the Veggies Only box every other week. Friday morning when I stepped out the door to go work, there was the box. When I came home from work I checked out all the lovely produce. Sweet peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, avocados, eggplant, nectarines (I modified my order because I did not want something), baby beets, and carrots. It all looked good, but the minute I saw the beets and carrots, I thought only one thing: roasted salad. I LOVE roasted beets. So good and so easy to make. And, roasted carrots are so sweet. Nothing not to love.

Now I would just eat the salad for dinner, but Michael would not be happy. “I know all you eat is vegetables, but I need more food!” Our lemon tree had a brunch of ripe lemons, so made him lemon chicken. Since I had so many, I thought I would make lemon quinoa as well.

Another side note, I also decided Michael and I are going to eat only healthy fats. So only olive oil and coconut oil from now on. Obviously Michael still eats meat so he has animal fat too. That is his life choice and I respect that.

Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad:
4 beets (I had one large and 3 medium)
1 bunch of carrots (I had Nantes specifically)
1 tbs olive oil, divided
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 squirt of fresh lemon juice

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Alternately, you can do this on the grill. But you REALLY need to watch them and turn them regularly. They tend to go from uncooked to burned-beyond-all-recognition in an instant.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the beets. Wash well. Cut a small silt in the top of the each beet. Place each beet in it’s own piece of foil. Sprinkle each with salt and pepper.Wrap each beet up with the foil so it is covered completely. *Side note: I do not put olive oil on them before roasting. You are going to be peeling the skin off later, so I feel it is just a waste and add excess calories.

Cut the greens off the top and the root strings off the bottom of the carrots. Wash well. Cut into 1/4 of inch sized pieces. In a small pan or baking sheet, toss together will 1/2 tbs of olive oil. Then season with salt and pepper. *I do add olive oil to the carrots for roasting since they will not be peeled and loosing the flavor.

Place beets in the oven right-side-up. Cook for 30-40 minutes. They will be ready when a knife can be inserted in the middle with no resistance.

When the beets have 20 minutes left, add the carrots to the oven. When the timer goes the carrots should be   golden (it is okay if they are a little black) and soften,  and the beets will black on the outside but soft on the inside.

Set both the beets and the carrots aside to cool. This salad is served chilled or room temperature.

Once the beets are completely cooled (unless you like burning your hands on hot beet juice), take a spoon or a peeler (or your hands if you do not mind pink fingers) and peel off the charred skin.

Cut the beets into bite-sized cubes.

In a small serving bowl, add the beets, carrots, remaining olive oil, Italian seasoning, and a squirt of lemon juice. Mix together well. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Lemon Quinoa:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp Italian Seasoning
Salt and pepper

In a small pot, add the quinoa, water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.

Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

I let mine cool for a bit, that way the flavors could set in more. Plus, it was hot and I did not want to eat a lot of hot food.

A lovely summer dinner. The beets and carrots were so good. Organic really does make all the difference. I really encourage everyone to not only eat more vegetables, but eat organic ones. Good for you, supports the local economy, and support sustainable agriculture. Another cool thing about Farm Fresh to You, you can adjust your delivery dates. We are going to a wedding in Tahoe in two weeks, when the next box delivery will come. I do not want my veggies to spoil, so I adjusted the delivery to this week instead. So look out for some more organic recipes soon!

Roasted Bell Pepper and Spinach Sandwhich

This is the sandwich to go with my gazpacho recipe. Not too complicated but tasty!

This recipe makes 2 sandwiches, but can easily be multiplied.


1 red pepper pepper
Olive oil
1/4 onion, sliced
1 cup fresh spinach (frozen is fine)
2 rolls (I used torta rolls)
Mustard
Horseradish
2 slices of vegan swiss cheese (I used Daiya)

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Rub the pepper with some olive oil. This does not really help with the roasting process, just adds flavor.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the upside is lightly browned.

While the pepper roasts, sautee the slices onions and spinach in a pan over medium heat, with a touch of olive oil. Once the onions are translucent, set aside.

Remove the peppers from the oven and turn them over.

Bake for another 15 minutes.

The skin should be charred now and the pepper should practically be falling apart.

Place your pepper in a zip-lock bag. Let it sit and cool for 5 minutes.

Now the skin will be soft and cool enough to peel off. I usually peel the pepper in the bag, so there is less mess. Just peel off all the charred skin either with your fingers or a small knife.

Now cut the pepper in half. The steam and attached seeds will come out easily.

Wipe away any remaining seeds.

Set the two pepper halves aside.

Now we can assemble….

Heat a pan (the one you did the spinach in is fine) over medium-high heat.

Take spread of mustard and horseradish on each roll.

Add a slice of cheese on one side of each roll.

On half of the bell pepper on top of the cheese for each roll.

Add the spinach mixture on top of the pepper pepper.

Top with the other piece of the roll.

Squish the sandwich down a bit, this will help it all stay together

Place in the hot pan. Cook a few minutes, until the roll is crisp and golden.

Flip over and repeat on the other side.

Now you have a tasty grilled sandwich to go with your soup!

Gazpacho

Before I ever started eating a plant-based diet, I did have a vegetarian roll model: Lisa Simpson. I remember when the The Simpsons Episode “Lisa the Vegetarian” premiered. After snuggling with lamb at a petting zoo, Lisa deicdes to become a vegetarian for Animal Rights. Homer, of course, has a big BBQ, with the main dish being a whole smoked pig. Lisa decides to help out her fellow meat-gorging Springfielders and makes gazpacho. Someone askes what it was, she answered “It’s tomato soup served ice cold!”….no one is really cares.

The other day I wanted grilled cheese and tomato soup. That is not really the most nutrious meal, so I decided to jazz it up a little. I could add some veggies and avocado to my sandwhich to add nutrients, no problem. I could make my own tomato soup, but I wanted some than just cooked tomatoes, espcially because it was a little warm out that day. Then it hit me, “It’s tomato soup served ice cold!” A cool bowl of delcious raw gazpacho would be a lovely compliment to my veggie sandwhich.

I based the recipe on my own knowledge and a bunch of other recipes I saw on Google (I really liked all the veggies in The Pinoneer Woman’s recipe). I added or left out what best suit me. By the way, some recipes will call for worcestershire sauce. It is not vegan or vegetarian, it contains anchoivies. I left it out, but a little bit of soy sauce would be a good replacement.

I will post my sandwhich recipe in a separate post.

The soup recipes make 4-6 servings.

Gazpacho
4 cups diced tomatoes (I used canned, but fresh would be lovely)

2 cloves of garlic
1/2 medium onion, pealed
1 cucumber, cut into quarters
1 zucchini, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed
2 stalks of celery
1 large carrot, cut into quarters
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbs fresh clinatro
1 tbs fresh chives
Water, as needed
Chili powder
Salt and pepper

It is pretty simple, throw everything in a food processor, except the  chili powder, salt, and pepper. I recommend pulsing it slowly at first to break chop the big pieces. I left mine a little chunky. Add water as needed to bring it to a soup-like consistency.

Season with the chili powder, salt, and pepper as desired.

Pour the soup into a big bowl and let it chill. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. I let mine chill while I made my sandwhiches.

Once it is cold, serve it up and garnish with some hot sauce, extra clinatro or chives, or anything you like.

Fresh, healthy, and full of flavor! It is a good thing I am a Simpsons junkie, or I would have missed out on a great dinner. Actually, you would be surprised how often I quote the show. It even helped me in my car accident. There is an espisode where the family’s car is sliding on the ice and everyone is shouting out what to do. My dad told me that Lisa was right, “Tap the breaks and turn away from the slide!” and I always remembered it. When the police officer came to my accident, he said I did the right thing to keep the car from spinning more. Thank you Simpsons!

And hey Mom, “Give me a slice!” (family joke)