Browse Tag by Dinner
< 5 ingredients, Budget, Camp Stove, Frugal

Cooking Smart: Brussels Sprouts + Greens

brussels sprouts green kale

One thing you can do to significantly reduce your bill = cook smart. Whether your stove is gas or electric, or if you’re in a tent in the woods with only one match: here’s how you do it.

Object Lesson A: Brussel sprouts and greens
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Let’s say you have brussels sprouts and some greens that have wilted slightly and/or would taste much more satisfying cooked. You have a pot to cook in with a lid, and a knife of some sort.

Trim brussels sprouts of any soiled leaves. If you have a knife, chop off the base of the sprouts (which can tend to be dirty).

Boil sprouts in enough water to cover them. Cover with lid to bring water to a boil more quickly. Once the water begins to boil, lift the lid and add a few shakes of salt if you have it. This will help tenderize the sprouts and reduce overall cooking time. Boil covered for 6-12 minutes. If you like them a bit softer, err on the side of 12.




Turn off heat and remove sprouts with a spoon or strainer, leaving the vegetable water in the pot. Immediately throw your greens into the pot. Cover with lid, allowing the heat from the water/vapor to cook the greens. The salt in the water will also tenderize the greens, allowing them to cook quickly and serve while the brussels sprouts are still warm. Serve with the broth/leftover water to warm your insides and to maximize nutrient intake. The brussels sprouts and broth taste taste delicious as is, but also when lightly seasoned with lemon juice and black pepper.

brussels sprouts greens brussels sprouts and kale brussels sprouts and greens

More Cooking Smart recipes to follow…

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Budget, Cleanse, Detox, Holiday, Lunch, Main Dishes, Salads, Sides

Romaine and Cucumber Salad with Pepitas, Cranberries, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

pumpkin seed romaine cucumber salad
To follow my 5 Salad Dressings ≤ 5 ingredients post, here is a salad ≦ 5. Most ingredients can be found at your average run-of-the-mill grocery store, and the salad as a whole tastes great with my oil-free balsamic vinaigrette.<--more-->
I just now realize how holiday-ish this recipe is. Pumpkin seeds, cranberries…Thanksgiving, anyone? Bookmark it for next fall. Tell your friends.

for the Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Ingredients

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried basil
Juice of 1 meyer lemon




This should make enough for two to three meal-size portions of salad. Ingredients in the salad i.e. dried cranberries and garlic have distinct flavor profiles and are meant to stand out. In other words, excess dressing might throw off the balance.

for the Salad:

Ingredients

1 head romaine lettuce, shredded or chopped
2/3 cup shelled pepitas/pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cucumber, finely chopped
1 tsp granulated garlic, or more to taste.

Mix. *Tip: throw all ingredients into a large pyrex container with lid. Cover tightly and shake. Remove lid, add dressing, and shake again. This method works well, and doubles as an arm workout.

*Things to consider: The recipe calls for granulated garlic, not garlic salt. Be sure to observe the difference. Granulated garlic is sold for under $1 per ounce, on the spice rack at Mexican markets or the “Hispanic Foods” section at grocery stores. Look for ajo in 1 or 2 oz plastic packets.

If you buy unsalted pepitas/pumpkin seeds, you might want to add a bit of salt to taste. I used salted pepitas for this recipe, so naturally I didn’t need any extra. To stay on the safe side, avoid the task of determining the perfect ratio. Just provide a salt shaker and everyone can doctor the salad to their liking.




I think this salad is genius, but I’d like to hear other opinions. If you try the recipe, please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

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Budget, Detox, Global Fusion, Lunch, Main Dishes, Mediterranean, Salads, Seaweed, Sides

5 Salad Dressing Recipes ≤ 5 ingredients

perfect salad
I’ve traveled a lot, in many situations where access to a blender was nil. Whether it was a motel room with a mini fridge, or a hospedaje with bars on the widows; a hostel dorm with a shared kitchen, a tent, or my car, I’ve managed to make every salad dressing on this list with as little as a pocket knife and a mason jar. That’s not to say they’re simplistic. These recipes can transform something as basic as shredded cabbage into a flavorful and satisfying meal.
Continue Reading

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Jamaican, Main Dishes, Sides

Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

DSC_0506

Originated from the Quechua ch’arki, the term “jerk” refers to dried protein. In the Andes aka the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the protein in question was alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) meat.

In the Caribbean and in Afro-Caribbean culture, the term “jerk” generally refers to a spice blend used to season protein. On the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Belize, you can sometimes find jerk tofu on the menu at local restaurants. From personal experience I can vouch for the existence of jerk-seasoned tofu cooked by locals as opposed to vegan expats in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and in Punta Gorda, Belize.

jerk tofu2

Etymology of jerk:
jerk (v.2) as a method of preserving meat, 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.

jerky (n.) 1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui “jerked meat,” from Quechua (Inca) ch’arki “dried flesh.”

Spanish spellings include charque and charqui, from which the English word jerky derives.



Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

Ingredients

1 x 16oz package vacuum packed super-firm or extra-firm tofu *I used Nasoya, but in the past I’ve used Wildwood (I recommend using one of these brands for this recipe, if possible. I don’t have experience with other brands of vacuum-packed tofu). Tofu packed in water, or in any other sort of packaging other than vacuum-sealed, even when the label reads ‘super’ or ‘extra’ firm, has an entirely different texture and will not work for this recipe.
½ tsp curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s brand; ingredients: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron)
½ tsp garam masala (I used Whole Foods’ brand; ingredients: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 drops stevia liquid or 1/16 tsp pure stevia powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt, but if I’d had it on hand I would have used pink Himalayan salt; that said, regular table salt would work just fine).
½ cup water

for the cranberry-pepper relish
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp red pepper flakes



Method

In a jar, combine all ingredients except for the tofu. Seal the jar, and shake to combine. Set aside.

Slice tofu into slabs of approximately 1cm thickness. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Shake the jar before pouring 1/2 the marinade over the tofu cutlets. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn on the broiler to low, and proceed to cook the tofu. After 5-7 minutes, remove the tofu from the oven, flip, and evenly disperse the remaining marinade. Return tofu to the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tofu to absorb the residual heat for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or let cool for no less than 10 minutes before storing in the refrigerator. In a tightly-sealed container, these jerk tofu cutlets will last 1 week approx.

jerk tofu

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Brunch, Detox, Main Dishes, Salads, Sides

Thai-inspired Paleo Bowl

This post is inspired by the many Thai restaurants I have dined at in the United States. Of all the options available in those circumstances, I always felt torn between eggplant and peanut-based dishes. Since I’ve had great difficulty finding eggplant lately, I decided to invent a Pad Thai-influenced low-carb dish without the tofu (since it’s not sold in the proximity of my current abode) and obviously without egg or noodles. Green beans aka string beans work swimmingly as a replacement for pasta/noodles in my experience, and kale increases not only nutrition but also adds to the flavor profile of most dishes. I’d write more, but the WiFi isn’t exactly ideal.

thai-paleovegan (2)

Thai-inspired Paleo Bowl

Ingredients

1 cup green beans, stemmed and cut into thirds
1 cup dino kale, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, shelled
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/4 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp thai-style chili garlic sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
thai-paleovegan (1)

Method

Place shelled peanuts into a plastic ziplock bag and crush with the back of a can opener or similar device. Remove from bag and set aside.

Add chopped kale and green beans to a small or medium pot and boil in 3 cups water. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes.




Add crushed peanuts to a wok or skillet with the 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp minced ginger, diced onion, 1 tsp maple syrup, and 1 Tbsp thai chili garlic sauce. Heat for 1 minute on medium, to sauté.

Reduce heat to low. Add 1/4 teaspoon tamari and stir.

Add a portion of the kale/green bean mix to a serving dish. Top with the sauteed peanut/onion mixture. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Serve.

Nutritional Info

Per serving: 100 Calories, 10g Fat, 200mg Potassium, 3g Sugar, 3g Carbs, 3g Fiber, 5g Protein.

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Main Dishes, Snacks

Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

vegetable-pizza-cauliflower-crust-small

Day 4 in the paleo vegan mono diet challenge, I ventured outside my original plan to focus on cauliflower as the key ingredient or the “star” in recipes I develop this week. Today I decided to mix it up a little…but later realized I hadn’t strayed as far from the rules as I’d originally thought.

In theory, this recipe still adheres to the guidelines; the cauliflower crust is literally the foundation of the dish. I still managed to limit the ingredients to 5, if you count “grilled vegetables” as one ingredient. For this recipe I grilled 5 different vegetables including tomatoes (technically not a vegetable, but it functions as one in this recipe), all of which I used merely because I had them on hand. I encourage experimentation with different combinations of vegetables.

Considering my current goal of minimalist cooking (with 5 ingredients or fewer) I wish I’d limited the toppings to grilled tomatoes and a little basil. Anyway, whichever vegetable topping or combination you try–I hope you enjoy working with this virtually hassle-free recipe. As long as you have the cauliflower and dry ingredients for the crust, with 1 or more vegetables to grill for toppings; olive oil, garlic, and some herbs–I think it could serve as a reliable go-to recipe. Let me know of combinations you try. Take photos! Send them to me, and I’ll feature them here. Tell me about your blog or other endeavors so I can credit you and perhaps talk about guest blogging on paleoveganista.com, if you’re interested.

I used frozen cauliflower because I predicted that raw cauliflower might yield too grainy a texture. When I’ve tried to make cauliflower “rice” with cooked cauliflower, the blender quickly turned it into a puree. The crust for this recipe requires a rice-like (but not too grainy) texture, so as I predicted the frozen variety worked best.

Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

For the crust

1 pound frozen cauliflower florets, left to thaw in the fridge overnight
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds or flax seeds (flax meal)
6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Grilled Vegetables

Toppings

3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced. *Tip: Crimini is merely a fancy term for brown mushrooms–the type sold at chain grocery stores. These tend to cost less than half the price per pound of portabella mushrooms–yet they’re the same thing, only smaller.
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1 small zucchini and/or yellow squash, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 tsp crushed basil leaves
1 tsp oregano

Method

Add 3 Tbsp ground chia or flax seeds to 1/3 cup warm water and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a small bowl or container. Add the garlic, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Set aside. Lightly salt the vegetables and let sit while you make the crust. This will help absorb excess moisture as they cook.

Remove cauliflower from the refrigerator and pulse in a food processor until a rice-like texture is achieved.

Use a cheesecloth or thin towel to squeeze out excess moisture from the cauliflower “rice”. Then transfer to a large bowl and add the chia/flax “egg”, the almond meal, the extra tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, salt, and garlic. Stir well to mix until it forms a dough. If it is too crumbly, add an additional tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons water. Press the mixture into the parchment-lined 8″ round cake pan. If you don’t have a round cake pan, press the crust into a baking sheet or oven pan and use your hands to create a rounded or whatever shape you like. Make sure the crust is at least 1/4″ thick throughout. *Note: the parchment paper is important for removing the crust from the pan so it doesn’t fall apart.

Bake for 25 minutes at 400*F or until slightly golden around the edges. While the crust cooks, place the sliced, salted vegetables on a sheet pan, and brush with the garlic-herb infused olive oil. Next, turn them over and brush the other side.

Heat your grill to its highest setting and make sure it’s fully preheated before adding the vegetables. Turn the vegetables as they start to get grill marks or until the edges begin to darken.

grilled-vegetable-pizza-cauliflower

Approximate cooking times:
Tomatoes, quartered: 4 to 5 minutes
Zucchini strips: 5 to 7 minutes
Mushrooms: 5 to 7 minutes
Onion, sliced: 5 to 7 minutes
Bell pepper strips: 6 to 8 minutes
Carrot slices: 10 to 12 minutes

Once vegetables have cooked, brush the cauliflower crust with the remaining garlic-herb olive oil and layer with grilled veggies. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

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Breakfast, Brunch, Main Dishes

Seared Purple Cauliflower “Steaks” with pea purée and rainbow chard

seared-purple-cauliflower-steaks-pea-puree-rainbow-chard
Day 3 in the paleoveganista mono-diet challenge. At the grocery store I spotted purple cauliflower and organic rainbow chard. The ease of availability [of everything one could ever want from the vegetable kingdom] is a privilege I formerly took for granted when I worked at Whole Foods Market and saw things like purple cauliflower, orange cauliflower, and romenesco (my favorite vegetable, hence the Paleoveganista logo) multiple times during every shift. It wasn’t until I lived in places where the only available cruciferous vegetables took the form of anemic broccoli or canned collard greens that I began to understand how lucky I once was.

Despite my enthusiasm for the vibrant color of the purple cauliflower in itself, I began to research it after moving back to the states to determine how its nutritional value compares with standard *white* cauliflower.

As it turns out, purple cauliflower contains anthocyanins, a subtype of flavinoid compound that studies show may be very useful in regulating blood sugar levels, improving brain function, and promoting weight control. It makes sense that purple cauliflower would be a step up from white cauliflower in terms of nutritional benefits. I can’t be bothered by over-analyzing the vitamin content of the vegetables I eat, however. The one golden rule I keep in mind is: the more color it has, the higher the quality+quantity of absorbable nutrients it contains.

**Update: Shortly after writing this post I learned that multicolored (purple, orange) cauliflower resulted from breeding experiments conducted at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. in which scientists effectively bred caronetene into the cauliflower plant, turning it orange and 100 times richer in Vitamin A than white cauliflower. Apparently Dr. Micahel Dickenson achieved this by accident. Interestingly, the orange shade of the mutant cauliflower was derived from a process similar to that by which humans convert vitamin A (manifesting in darker skin or a “tan”). According to the documentation I read, Dr. Dickenson’s mutant orange cauliflower led to experimentation resulting in subsequent strains with pigments manifesting in different colors i.e. purple. By the year 2003, orange and purple cauliflower became available commercially. 11+ years later: nearly everyone in the states has seen a colorful cauliflower, so the novelty might have dissipated but demand is as high as ever.**

Unlike yesterday’s recipe and the two others before it, this one is more entree-like and the vibrant seared cauliflower looks gorgeous atop the pea puree alongside the rainbow chard. Unfortunately the pictures I took of this dish went missing, so I’ll have to add them later when I find them or try this again at a later date. I want to stay consistent in posting my recipes/meals plan during this mono-diet experiment, so I’ll post this now despite the lack of photographic representation.seared-purple-cauliflower-steaks-paleo

Seared Purple Cauliflower “Steaks” with pea purée and rainbow chard

Ingredients

1 head purple cauliflower
1 x 16oz bag organic frozen peas (I wish I’d had the time to find them fresh and shell them myself, but unfortunately my day job wouldn’t permit it).
1 bunch rainbow chard
2-4 garlic cloves (2 if you tolerate garlic; 3 if you like it, 4 if you love it)
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Remove the leaves and the tough core from the cauliflower, and transfer to a bowl filled with warm water to loosen any dirt or debris. Yes, the leaves and core are part of this recipe. I’ll explain later.

Pre-heat oven to 450* F

Remove skins from the garlic cloves in 20 seconds or less using back of a knife to press each clove. This might be very common knowledge, but since I didn’t learn it until 19 I thought I’d mention it just in case.

If using a food processor or blender, add the peeled garlic cloves to the pitcher along with the non-dairy milk, lime juice, salt, and pepper. *Note: I personally can’t stand the taste of over-salted foods, so I add salt in increments of a “pinch” (about 1/16 teaspoon). Blend until a smooth liquid is achieved. Transfer to a container of some sort, and set aside.

In the absence of a food processor or blender: mince the garlic cloves as finely as possible. Then mix with the non-dairy milk and salt/pepper, using a whisk or a fork.

*Note: Both methods yield similar results; the main difference is that in the latter (manual) method the garlic will not pulverize completely.

Use a colander/strainer to drain the water from the soaking cauliflower leaves and stem/core. Check for any residual dirt, and rinse until clean. Slice thinly.

In a medium soup pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the cauliflower leaves and stem/core pieces. Boil for 5 minutes before adding the 2 cups frozen or fresh green peas.

Cover and let simmer on medium for 10 minutes.

As the cauliflower trimmings and green peas simmer, transfer the whole cauliflower head to a shallow oven pan and coat with garlic-lemon-nondairy-milk-blend using a basting brush if you have one. Otherwise. wing it by rotating the caulflower and gently pouring on the sauce to coat each side.

Oven temp should have reached 450* F by now. Place cauliflower in the oven. While it cooks, remove the green pea and cauliflower leaf blend from heat. Drain all liquid into a jar or other container. Set aside. After it cools for a few moments, transfer the pea-cauliflower leaf blend to the blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. It should resemble a very thick potato soup but not quite as thick as mashed potatoes.

Check the cauliflower. At this point it should need about 10 more minutes to fully “sear”. At this point the outer edges should look golden.

Pour the reserved [pea and cauliflower leaf] liquid into a saucepan. Meanwhile, chop the rainbow chard into bite-sized pieces. Sautee the chard in the vegetable water until tender. By this point, the cauliflower should be ready. It should look golden brown at the top but still distinctively purple throughout. Turn off oven and let cauliflower cool before creating the “steaks”.

Slice into the seared cauliflower to create pieces of approximately 1cm thickness. Plate atop a generous smear of pea puree and finish with a heaping spoonful of rainbow chard next to it. It looks really gorgeous. Let’s hope I find those pictures.

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Korean, Main Dishes, Sides, Skinny Pasta

Raw Vegan Japchae

skinny-japchae-featured (1)

Japchae?

Japchae, jabchae, chapchae, chop chae, or chap chae is a Korean dish traditionally made with sweet potato noodles aka dangmyeon (Korean: 당면) stir-fried in sesame oil with very thinly sliced aka julienne-cut carrots mixed with fresh spinach and thinly sliced shitake mushrooms and onion…topped with toasted sesame seeds and garnished with hot chili flakes. Served hot or cold depending on the season, japchae is vitamin-rich and considered medicine in a number of cultures within Korean society. The flavor profile of japchae is important, so I adapted it to the best of my ability to suit the diet(s) of raw foodists and the paleo inclined.

Developing this recipe proved less challenging than I’d expected, since shirataki noodles easily replicate sweet potato noodles* or vermicelli** (bean thread) in all recipes. The noodles I used for this particular recipe do not contain certain additives present in commercial brands of shiratakI. The type I buy fresh costs approx. $1.25 USD per 8oz package fresh–so for this recipe, if you choose to use fresh as opposed to dry shirataki you will spend $5 on noodles if cooking for 4-6 people. Obviously, all ingredients are vegan.

*The nearly carb-free noodles used in this recipe are made from Konjac yams as opposed to conventional yams or sweet potatoes–and often at Korean or Vietnamese grocery stores the labels do not provide translations in other languages. For this reason, I have provided the following images to assist you:

clear-shirataki-noodle clear-shirataki-noodle1 konjac-yam

**Also called bean thread noodle, vermicelli is as high in calories as sweet potato noodle but looks the same and tastes the same. For those with an aversion [regarding flavor] or lack of availability [to purchase] shirataki noodles I recommend kelp noodles as an alternative.

Now that we’ve established* that…let’s get on with it, shall we?

*Ask in the comments or shoot me an email if certain things don’t make sense.

Raw Vegan Japchae Recipe

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

8 ounces dried shirataki noodles or
8oz pkg fresh or reconstituted shirataki noodles
4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
1/4 tsp stevia powdered extract or 6 to 9 drops liquid extract
4oz fresh or reconstituted shiitake mushroom, stems trimmed, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh raw carrot, very thinly sliced (julienne-cut)
1/2 cup baby spinach or chopped spinach leaves
1/2 cup scallion or green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

skinny-japchae-featured (2)

Method

Step 1: reconstitute and/or marinade:

*To reconstitute dried shiitake mushrooms: Cover 1 ounce dried whole shiitake mushrooms with warm tap water. Let sit until softened, at least 6 hours or overnight.

**To reconstitute dried shirataki noodles: See above.

In a small bowl, combine the tamari/soy sauce with the stevia powder or extract, lemon juice, and chili garlic-sauce. Consult the stevia conversion chart. If using powder or granules, stir until dissolved.

Soak the sliced onion, carrot, scallion, fresh shiitake mushrooms, and baby spinach with the tamari/stevia blend for 2 hours or overnight. If using reconstituted shiitake mushrooms, you can do this step overnight at the same time. Just add the mushrooms to the mix after they hydrate.

Step 2: Drain shirataki noodles and return to bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil. Drain excess stevia/soy sauce marinade from vegetables and toss with noodles. Top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
skinny-japchae

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Main Dishes, Skinny Pasta, Soups

Vegetable Broth + Paleo Vegan Pho

National Blog Posting Month, Nov 10 prompt: What knowledge do you have that others don’t? Write a “how to” post about anything you’ve got skills for, small or large.vegetable-broth-101Sure, you can buy it by the carton. It’s less of a hassle than running around the produce department, gathering carrots, parsnips, celery, etc., only to return home and realize you’ve forgotten the onions or another key ingredient. We’ve all been there with some recipe or another. However, store-bought vegetable broth contains too much salt in my opinion–while the low-sodium kind lacks flavor. With a bit of planning and mere minutes of prep time, it’s easy to make your own. I guarantee you’ll notice an improvement in the flavor and body of soups and stews. More elaborate recipes might have ingredients you don’t recognize (which won’t be the case at the end of this tutorial. More on that later). We’ll start with a basic, unintimidating recipe that utilizes everyday ingredients for use as a prototype for more complex broths and stocks in the future. When I’m short on time, this is my go-to recipe:

Basic Vegetable Broth

Makes approximately 2 quarts
Tip: Don’t peel anything or discard the scraps. Things like the tops of carrots or celery, stems, etc. contribute to the flavor and nutritional value of the broth/stock. Obviously, discard any spoiled or rotten parts.

Ingredients

1 gallon water
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 cups tomato, quartered
1 medium bell pepper, cut
2 cups parsnip, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 whole peppercorn
1 tsp red pepper flakes (like the kind they give you at pizza restaurants)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients to a large stock pot. Bring to a full boil and reduce to simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low to continue cooking (covered, to maintain the flavors and vitamin content of the vegetables) until the liquid is reduced by half.

Pour broth through a filter/sieve/colander, with a bowl or pot underneath it that is larger than the circumference of the filter (to avoid wasting any broth).

Asian-Style Vegetable Broth

asian-style-soup-broth
Using the basic vegetable broth recipe as a base, you only need a few more ingredients to emulate the flavors of a Chinese-style noodle soup or traditional Vietnamese pho. You can experiment with combinations of different ingredients, so the following are merely suggestions or guidelines. I recommend using ginger in all combinations if you can. As with any broth recipe–you don’t need to peel the root since you’ll remove it before serving/adding the noodles and toppings.

Ingredients

1 x 4″ piece ginger root, unpeeled, sliced
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
ginger-rootcinnamon-sticksstar-anise
4 cups vegetable stock (see above recipe)
2 cups water

Method

Simmer 20 minutes on medium heat

Paleo Vegan Pho

vegan-pho

Ingredients

6 cups Asian-style vegetable broth (see above recipe)
2 x 8oz package fettuccine-style shirataki noodles.

Toppings

4 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced. Remove the seeds for less heat.
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
4 Tbsp vegetarian “fish sauce”, found in Asian markets, natural food stores, some conventional grocery stores, and online. *However, many of these brands contain preservatives and food coloring/caramel color, and even the natural brands contain sugar. Vegetarian “fish sauce” is very easy to make with all natural ingredients & no added sugar:

Combine 1/4 Tbsp pure powdered stevia extract OR 12-18 drops Stevia Liquid Concentrate (for more info, see the Stevia Conversion Chart) with 1 cup warm water + 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice (if you use fresh, I’m totally impressed) and 1 cup 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari or 1 Tbsp regular tamari. You can also use conventional soy sauce like Kikoman brand if you’re not worried about the additives. When I’m traveling or living abroad it tends to be the only thing available, anyway :)

fresh cilantro, shredded
fresh Thai basil leaves
lime wedges
chili garlic sauce

Method

In a large pot over medium heat, add the ginger, star anise and cinnamon sticks to 4 cups vegetable broth (diluted with 2 cups water) and simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare shirataki noodles according to package instructions.

Reduce heat to low and remove the ginger, star anise, and cinnamon. Stir in 4 Tbsp vegetarian fish sauce and let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain shirataki noodles and divide among 4 bowls. Top with broth, scallions, cilantro, basil leaves, jalapeno, red onion, and bean sprouts. Serve with chili garlic sauce and lime wedges.

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Breakfast, Main Dishes

Low-Carb, Fat Free, Delicious Blended Soups

I’m a huge fan of blended soups, year round. Besides gazpacho and other raw soups, I wasn’t always this way. Between 2005 and 2007 I swore by a 90% raw diet but in February 2008 learned to compromise a bit…and found that hot steamed vegetables and vegetable soups ward off cravings for things like refined carbohydrates and sugar. Also, raw fruit i.e. bananas or avocados transported here from a tropical climate in the middle of winter never did me any favors in terms of staying fit or feeling energized enough to exercise. So over the years of revising my diet (I initally stopped eating raw after an argument with my significant other at the time who had cooked a vegan dinner for me and I dismissed it for not meeting the standards of the way I preferred to eat) I actually ended up losing weight after that fateful evening, since I made the compromise to cut out avocados and nuts if I were to integrate cooked vegetables and beans–and it turns out I “thrive”, so to speak, on a lower fat, reduced carb diet as opposed to a high fat, 95% raw, fruit-laden one. Granted, I always eat at least one raw meal or “snack” per day, even if it’s a handful of carrot sticks, sliced cucumber, or celery. It’s difficult, when you have a full-time job or are a student with a full schedule, to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels–and things like chopped veg or packaged “baby carrots” or cauliflower florettes have been lifesavers for me. When I worked part-time as a full-time student in college, I think most days I started with a quad-shot espresso, a double shot after school and/or before work, snacked on raw vegetables or an apple on the drive between Ashland and Medford (from my work to my night classes), brought a cup of coffee to the night class, and maybe ate some leftover cooked vegetables upon returning home if I had a paper to write for a different class, or some math homework, or something (there was almost always something). On days that I didn’t have night class I rode my bike instead of using my car, and thus burned more calories so I usually relied on something like a soy latte or a bit of trail mix to stay alert whenever there was a lull in the day.

Although I’d abstained from grains for 4 years prior to 2010, I’ve made compromises. For example, in January 2010 when I volunteered in Ecuador I ate quinoa because vegetables were expensive and raw vegetables not always safe to eat (though I did eat a lot of raw cucumbers and cabbage, and other things that come with a “wrapper”), and because quinoa is cheap and budgets for volunteer accomodation in Ecuador are very, very minimal. Ironically, quinoa is considerably cheaper than white rice in markets there, an explanation for which can be summarized as: white rice is a symbol of affluence, associated with developed nations, and quinoa is a symbol of poverty. I also ate oatmeal with chopped mango and papaya for breakfast, because the walk to the school I worked at involved a few miles (much of which was an uphill climb). I didn’t consider myself any less healthy for eating some grain, or any less vegan for eating the vegetables out of a soup made with chicken broth and subtly handing the broth to my ex-boyfriend to make it look as if I ate it all (to avoid offending the person who prepared the soup and so generously offered it to me). Living/volunteering abroad is material for its own article, so moving on…there was also the time when I had to taste-test every item on the menu at the restaurant I worked at in college (as was required of all employees). Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem, since at most restaurants the majority of dishes are not vegan. At this one on the other hand, every single wrap, panini, salad, and beverage could be adapted to accomodate vegan customers. For example, cheese could almost always be replaced with hummus, aoili with veganaise (actually, come to think of it, there was a vegan aoili), milk with soymilk, cream with coconut milk…and all of the breads/wraps were vegan by default. Looking back on that time, I recall my then-significant other coming in handy in this situation also (I would order the wrap or panini to-go, take a bite to say I’d tried it, and he was happy for the free lunch–and I’d eat an apple or have another coffee or something). Thanks, ____, for bailing me out of eating wheat (and chicken broth).

Anyway, I thought this post required a detailed backstory in order to express my deep, profound love for blended vegetable soups. The recipes I’ve created or adapted are very low calorie (to put that in context, I think they’d measure in at 0 Weight Watchers points, or would be considered “negative calories” by some diet philosophies). Sadly, most blended soups offered at restaurants contain unneccessary ingredients like heavy cream, and the vegan ones often have a coconut milk base (which is totally unnecessary, and tastes revolting once you start making your own without it). I cannot stress this enough: a “creamy” texture and body can be achieved very easily through the utilization of cooked carrots and kale or collard greens. Even Indian dahl–which is normally lentil-based, is defined by the spices (FYI–cooked carrots and/or cauliflower or green beans provide the same texture as lentils, + more vitamins, minus the carbs. Get the spice ratio right, and the difference is undecipherable).

Don’t get me wrong–I don’t mean to imply I’m a hater of coconut milk. To the contrary–I wish the rest of the world would jump on the dairy-free alt-cream bandwagon. Even Thai restaurants, bubble-tea shops, and Asian bakeries in Chinatowns in cities across the United States, have abandoned coconut milk in favor of dairy cream (a fact saturated with irony–considering that in the traditional cuisine of most Asian cultures, dairy is nill). Example: my friend took me to a creek-side Thai restaurant in the heart of Ashland, Oregon (where roughly 60% of the population doesn’t eat dairy) for my birthday last year, and we ordered Stoli-infused thai iced teas with coconut milk substituted for heavy cream (my idea, since the presence of coconut milk in the kitchen was a no-brainer) and for each $9 cocktail $3 was added to the bill ($24 for weak cocktails was–even though I wasn’t responsible for the tab–kind of a buzzkill…on principle). After that night, I decided to stop relying on cashews or tahini for a “creamy” texture in the soups and salad dressings I make. Now that I’ve stopped, both seem much too rich…a flavor/texture that leaves me unsatisfied because the “creaminess” dulls the natural richness of the vegetables and the kick provided by the meticulously calculated spice-salt-stevia ratio. To prove this theory, I utilized my NutriBullet (BTW any food processor or blender will work, just maybe not as quickly) to re-create all of the blended soups I’ve tried over the years and loved at restaurants around the world. Each example includes a description of where and when I discovered the soup, and how to eliminate the empty calories (sugar and fat) while achieving the same (if not more satisfying) flavor profile.

Curried Carrot Soup

Paleo Carrot Soup Continue Reading

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