Sometimes Asian food really lends itself to vegetarian, and then vegan, dishes. I didn’t quite know what to make for dinner tonight and I had 1,000,000 green beans, so I came up with this Thai-inspired dish. It was really quick and easy for a Monday night. Not necessarily the most fat-free dish with the peanut butter and coconut oil, but INCREDIBLY delicious. Ben helped and he enjoyed it.
Vegan Thai Noodles
(20 minutes, serves 3-4)
8 oz. firm tofu, cut into cubes of about a ½ inch
2 Tb coconut oil, divided
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder, divided
half onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lb green beans, cut in half and blanched
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup fresh corn
½ lb rice noodles, softened according to package directions (mine said to
leave it in warm water for 5-8 minutes)
2 Tb peanut butter
¼ soy sauce
1 Tb Sriracha (or less, depending on your spice liking)
juice of two limes
2 cloves garlic, diced
½ tsp dried ginger
- In a large wok, heat 1 Tb of coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and season with the garlic powder and ginger. Stir-fry until golden brown, then set aside.
- When the tofu is out, add in the other Tb of coconut oil, the onions and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the vegetables. Stir-fry until they become tender.
- While the veggies are cooking, mix all of the ingredients of the sauce together in a small bowl. Whisk them together until they become a thick-ish sauce. If it’s too thick to your liking, add in a little water from the rice noodles to thin it out.
- Once the vegetables are tender and the noodles are soft, add the noodles to the pan along with the tofu. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds before adding in the sauce. Add the sauce gradually and continue to stir-fry until everything is covered. You can add a little water from the noodles to ensure that the sauce is coating everything.
- After about 3 minutes of stir-frying the noodles, tofu, veggies and sauce, remove from heat and serve. You can serve with some crushed peanuts, cilantro, and/or limes. All would be delicious!
Gluten free and vegan? What?!
Before we left for summer, one of my colleagues turned down a delicious baked good because she claimed that she has a hard time keeping weight off in the summer. I was shocked. Summer is the only time I can maintain/lose weight. She said she has a hard time at cook-outs, which makes sense. Cook-outs can be delicious, but are often laden with a bunch of decadence. One of Ben’s friends recently had a birthday, so I offered to bring something to the party. I was assigned salad, so I decided to make a pasta salad. Because of the many food allergens in the world (gluten and nuts) and the vegetarian set, I came across a lovely pasta salad that I jazzed up a little. This, my friends, is a tasty gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegetarian summer salad.
No, this salad is not an oxymoron. Those who know me know how much I love gluten and gluten-based products, so I was very skeptical about trying gluten-free pasta. The Safeway “Eating Right” brand of pasta was pretty darn good. It’s slightly more chewy than regular pasta, but you can’t really tell the difference. So, if you have a Safeway or a Safeway-related store near you, I’d recommend their gluten-free pasta. Regardless, this salad has protein, healthy fats, greens, and citrus. AND! It tastes good without being ridiculously fat-laden with my nemesis, mayonnaise. What more could you ask for in a barbecue food?
Pasta Salad with Spinach and Cilantro Pesto
18 oz. gluten-free pasta (I used penne)
1 bunch cilantro
4 cups spinach
1/4 cup onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 avocados, diced
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 can cannellini beans (or other white legumes like chickpeas)
splash of olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons (approximately 1/2 cup)
zest of 1.5 lemons (approximately 1.5 Tb)
1.5 Tb olive oil
2 Tb Dijon mustard
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
reserved pasta water (as needed)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Be diligent with the timing. Gluten-free pasta can go horribly wrong if you’re not paying attention.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the cilantro, spinach and dash of olive oil. Pulse until the greens are finely chopped, but not totally paste-like. Pour into a large bowl.
- Fold in the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and white beans. Then toss with the noodles.
- In a small bowl (I used the bowl for the juicer), add the zest, lemon juice, mustard, cumin, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil to combine. If the dressing seems to thick, add in some of the reserved pasta water. The dressing should be somewhat runny (not like a ranch or honey mustard dressing), more like a vinaigrette. Pour over the whole mixture and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
If you want to make it less “-free”, some good additions would be feta, crab, chicken, or Italian sausage.
Day 2 of getting back on the bandwagon involved a very yummy salad. Ever since Husband discovered a love for Brussels sprouts last Thanksgiving via a Bobby Flay recipe that involved pancetta (what isn’t good with pancetta?), we usually have fresh or frozen Brussels Sprouts somewhere in our house. Additionally, I recently learned that beets are magnificent. The forces of beets and Brussels sprouts combined to make this healthy dish. For the ENTIRE meal, it is roughly 1,000 calories, including the optional dressing. Without the dressing, you’re looking at a much lower calorie count. Thus, on the high end, split between 2 people, this filling salad is only 500 calories per serving.
Chicken, Beet, and Brussels Sprout Salad
Serves 2-3 (depending on how hungry you are!)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 medium-sized beets
1.5 cups sliced Brussels Sprouts (fresh or frozen)
4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4 Olive oil
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
Dressing (Optional. The cooked off marinade and juices from beets and sprouts are pretty good.)
1 Tb lemon zest
juice from one lemon
3 Tb olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
- Either the night before or a couple of hours before you cook the chicken, pour the Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper into a tightly sealing plastic bag. Marinate the chicken for at least one hour prior to cooking.
- While the chicken is marinading, preheat the oven to 425 and peel the beets. Place them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. I highly recommend using aluminum foil as it will make clean up 1,000 times easier.
- Roast the beets for approximately 1 hour or until fork-tender.
- Meanwhile, you can slice the Brussels sprouts and prepare the optional dressing. The dressing is nice because it adds a little more acidity to the dish and brings out some nice flavors. To make the dressing, add the lemon zest and lemon to a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Add spices to taste.
- When the beets have 20-25 minutes remaining to cook, add the chicken and the Brussels sprouts to the pan. Poor the marinade over the meat and vegetables and add some more salt and pepper (to taste). Return the tray to the oven and continue roast for the remaining 20-25 minutes.
- After everything has finished, take the pan out of the oven and let the chicken rest for a tick as you chop up the beets and add them to a giant salad bowl filled with your Romaine lettuce. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and throw them into the bowl as well. The tricky part comes next. Remove the aluminum foil from the cookie sheet and pour the contents (Brussels sprouts, remaining marinade, and beet juices) into the bowl. Toss and serve with the dressing on the side.
Voilà! If you add in everything while it’s warm, you get a nice contrast between the crisp lettuce leaves and the roasted vegetables. It is a lovely salad for dinner. If you want, you can add some goat cheese. This will up the calorie count, but it will also be awesome.
After a week of YOLO-eating while on vacation (for those who don’t deal with teenagers all day, YOLO stands for “You Only Live Once”), our family was hurting. What is YOLO-eating? YOLO-eating is indulging with reckless abandon. It’s not necessarily eating bad things all the time, it’s eating a lot of them. Some example conversations from vacation include: Person 1 asks, “Should I have another brownie?” Person 2 responds, “YOLO.” Person 2 states, “How about a chip sampler for lunch?” Person 3 exclaims, “YOLO!” Person 4 announces, “Beer before noon…YOLO!” Thus, when we got home, neither Husband nor I was super stoked for more cholesterol, which is usually how we indulge for holiday meals. I asked Husband what he wanted for his Father’s Day Dinner. We had been so decadent (and loved every second of it), but it was time to pull it together. His response was, “Maybe scallops and spinach and sweet potatoes.” Done, my love.
Seared Scallops, Sauteed Spinach, and Smashed Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2.5 (baby approved!)
1 lb wild “caught” sea scallops
1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 Tb butter, divided
juice from one lemon, divided
1.25 lb sweet potatoes
1/2 cup natural applesauce
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 lb spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb olive oil
- Chop sweet potatoes into roughly the same-sized pieces. Steam for 15 minutes then drain. Steaming works better than boiling because you don’t lose all of the nutrients.
- In the same pot you cooked the sweet potatoes in, add in the applesauce, cinnamon, chili powder and 1 Tb of butter. Mash together. It’s better to mash in the same pot because it’s still warm which allows everything to combine better. Set aside. You can reheat if the rest of the meal takes longer than expected.
- Meanwhile, rinse and pat dry the scallops. You need to make sure that the scallops are fairly dry because they won’t sear properly if you don’t. Season the scallops on both sides with lemon pepper and garlic seasoning.
- In a stainless steel skillet (you don’t want to use non-stick here), heat over medium-high heat. Melt the butter. If it starts to burn, start over.
- Add the scallops to the pan while it is hot and the butter has melted. Cook for three minutes or until golden brown (time varies based on the thickness of the scallop) on the first side. Squeeze in the juice of half of a lemon and flip. Cook for three minutes on the other side.
- Heat another large-ish pan over medium heat. Add in the olive oil and heat. Add in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds to release the flavor. Add in the spinach. As it starts to wilt, add the juice of the other half of the lemon.
This whole meal (NOT per serving) is roughly 1200 calories. Divided among 2-3 people, you’re looking at about 400-600 calories for a filling meal. Enjoy!
Recently, Ben has decided that he is a “big boy”. He has decided that trying to crawl is for chumps and prefers to “walk” around with you holding his hands. He could literally do laps around our house for hours if our backs didn’t give out. I’m short, but hunching over doing laps from living room to kitchen over and over again gets very old very quickly. In addition, he has decided that he will only eat from a spoon if it is a “baby treat”. By baby treat I mean either pureed berries mixed with cereal and yogurt or peanut butter and yogurt. Those foods cannot be shoveled into his face fast enough. As a result of this new penchant for grown-up things, I decided to try just giving him food that Husband and I were eating. My friend Nikki over at FantasticImaginings wrote a fantastic post in which she describes giving her little guy grown-up food. And thus tonight began Ben’s first dinner with the grown-ups, aka Jack the dog’s “Dear Diary, today was the greatest day ever!!!” moment.
This evening I made my black bean and rice dish. It’s in no way authentic, but it’s tasty. Ben thought so too, but the best part was smooshing it with his hands (so much texture!) and throwing it off of his tray to the dog (hence, Jack’s “Dear Diary” moment).
Black Beans and Rice (baby approved)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey (I used 94% fat-free, but you can use ground turkey breast for something leaner)
1-15 oz can of black beans
1 Tb olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (roughly) apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (can be omitted if you’re not a heat fan)
Hot sauce to taste
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for about a minute.
- Add the turkey and brown.
- As the turkey is browning, add in the spices to ensure that the spices get into the meat.
- Once the meat is browned, add half of the beans (liquid and all) into the meat. Crush the other half of the beans in the can and add to the pot. The crushed beans will allow the mixture to thicken.
- I’m super imprecise when I cook, so before you throw your can into the recycling bin, fill it half-way with water and dump that water into the pot.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 10 minutes, add in the vegetables and adjust seasonings by adding hot sauce and other spices accordingly.
- Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt. We eat ours with rice that I cook in the rice cooker (one of the greatest appliances), but it’s fine by itself.
Ben gobbled this up like it was going out of style. He generally likes black beans, but this was his first experience with ground turkey, onions and garlic. It seemed to go well, so we’ll be adding these to his repertoire!