Soup Magic: Hearty Lentil

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Lentil is one of my favorite high-protein meal soups. It’s simple and low maintenance, and comes together in just a few minutes.

 I enjoy cooking soup on the stove—that aromatic slow-simmering, stirring, tending, nurturing activity.

But, during the work week I usually don’t have that kind of time. The last thing I want to read in a crockpot recipe is the direction to sauté vegetables before adding them to the crockpot. If I had time to do that, well I would probably take it all the way on the stove!

Instead, I left my crock pot in charge this morning, and brisked out the door for work. By lunch time I had a rich, satisfying stew, and lots of it. I think about what a prepared cup of soup costs, about $3. For less than that, I could feed a family of four, dinner sized portions of this hearty, healthful, tasty meal. Just saying…

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Hearty Lentil Soup

1 ½ cups raw brown lentils, rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 or 3 stalks celery, diced

Handful of celery tops (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Big sprig of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. ground)

5-6 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Prepare all ingredients and add to crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir and check for seasonings. Depending on your broth, you may wish to add salt. With a pair of tongs or a fork, fish out and discard the bay leaves, thyme stems and celery tops, if used. Add a generous grind of pepper and add broth if needed, depending on how “soupy” you like it.

Yield:  4-6 big servings

Tofu Black Bean Quesadillas

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I’ve been working pretty hard the past couple of weeks, planning for a big upcoming event. This is where my diet tends to break down and food choices get kind of lax. Too tired to even think about dinner by the time I get to Sunday evening.

Sometimes, however, while rummaging around in the fridge I am hit with that second wind of inspiration. I thought about how I really enjoy scrambled tofu and how easy it is to flavor up with Indian spices and garlic. Tofu absorbs whatever you add to it. So I decided to flavor it with Mexican spices and see if I could make it like taco filling. It worked really well!

 I put it together with whole grain tortillas, leftover black beans, faux cheese, cilantro and green onions. This will make a great filling for tacos, casseroles, nachos or salads too. Dinner crisis averted!

Tofu Taco Filling

1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed or squeezed well and crumbled

2 tsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt ( or less depending on your taste)

1/2 cup water

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add tofu and sauté for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add spices, salt and water to combine well. Cook and stir over low heat until moisture is absorbed. Check for seasoning and serve hot.

Soup Magic: Spicy Black Bean

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Another weeknight meal I pulled off with minimal work! This soup didn’t even require any vegetable chopping! Can it get any easier?

I fired up the crockpot and added a few ingredients and let it cook on low for four hours. Dinner. Done.

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Spicy Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked black beans

3 cups vegetable broth

16 ounces of your favorite tomato salsa

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Method:

Place all ingredients in crockpot and cook, covered, on low for 4 hours. Feel free to add a cup or so of frozen corn or other vegetables near the end of the cook time. Make it your own!

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Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

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Where I am getting my lean, mean protein lately? Why lentils, of course! These friendly little legumes pack 18 grams of protein per cup. Here is a delicious way to prepare them!
Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette
from The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (or water)
  • ½ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup curry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Method:
Saute celery, onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger in oil (or water) until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in lentils, water, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender, but still whole.
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Remove the lentils from the heat, draining any excess water if necessary. Set aside and allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
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Curry Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup olive oil (see note below)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. shallots
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
Method: Whisk together the vinegar, spices and sugar. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking constantly. When oil and vinegar are well incorporated, whisk in the shallots, jalapeño and garlic.
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While still warm, toss the lentils with 1/4 cup dressing and garnish with cilantro and scallions. Can be served warm or cold. Yield: about 4 servings.
Note:  If you are cutting back on oil, feel free to substitute water for some of the oil. The dressing will still taste great.

Barbecue Tofu with Baked Beans and Cheesy Mash

TofuBarbequeWith daylight savings time and the longer evenings, I just can’t wait for those summer cookouts. It’s fun to pull out the grill on a regular old weeknight and turn out some great barbecue!

Whether you like it smoky or spicy, savory or sweet, there’s no reason to give up your favorite barbeque flavors as a vegetarian or vegan. Tofu has a wonderfully absorbent quality when it comes to flavors. It’s especially so when it is frozen, thawed and pressed  beforehand.

Here’s a basic barbecue flavored marinade, that can be used by itself or along with your favorite barbecue sauce at grill time.

Smoky BBQ Tofu Marinade

¼ cup soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or mirin)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika or chili powder

Blend all ingredients and pour over tofu. Makes about 1/2 cup, enough for 1 pound.

There are so many sides to choose from, but on a weeknight, I choose the easiest to prepare. Here is a quick and easy baked bean recipe that can be baking in the oven while you prepare the rest of the meal. It is sweet and tangy with a rich tomato flavor.

Homemade Baked Beans

courtesy of Jenna Weber (www.eatliverun.com)

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp hot sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 350
In a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes or until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.
Add the maple syrup, tomato sauce, salt, ground mustard, hot sauce and ketchup and simmer for five minutes.
Add the beans and bay leaf, stir, then cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, stirring once during the baking process.
Allow to cool and serve warm.

Serves 4

Cheesy mashed potatoes is the simplest side dish of all, provided you have some leftover cheesy sauce hanging around in the fridge, which I think everyone should! https://veganflavorista.wordpress.com/2012/11/23/sexy-cheezy-sauce/

Cheesy Mash

courtesy of Vegan Flavorista

Wash and dry four big potatoes. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave 10 minutes. Mash with unsweetened non-dairy milk until desired consistency is reached. Stir in a big dollop of Dijon mustard, then season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Take about 4 scallions, washed and dried, and snip them with kitchen shears right into the potatoes. Stir to blend.

Gently reheat cheesy sauce and drizzle over warm mashed potatoes. Heavenly!

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

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A vegan’s life is such bliss! To enjoy the bounty of the earth, without guilt, without hesitation, with compassion. Most vegans, in my experience, are very much in love with food.

As someone who has wrestled with weight and body image issues for most of my life, I can tell you, it is so gratifying to let that go–finally. As I become more fully conscious, through my yoga and meditation practice, more in touch with and in tune with my body’s needs, I begin to have a sense of what to eat and what not to eat, based on how it makes me feel–before and after.

One thing I have realized, my body does not like a high-fat diet. But, my palate enjoys a sweet tasting chocolate treat at regular intervals. Enter, the low-fat, vegan muffin. A nice compromise when deciding whether that vegan cupcake from Whole Foods, slathered with the greasy, weirdly dry icing is really worth it.

This, I can live with. These muffins are lightly sweet and wholesome tasting. Go ahead, eat two. It’s still gonna be less calories than the alternative. Please enjoy this recipe, borrowed from Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking http://www.egglesscooking.com.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins
5.0 from 3 reviews
Print
Prep time:20 Mins
Cook time:25 Mins
Yields:8 Muffins
Very easy to bake, these vegan chocolate chip muffins will become your “go-to” vegan muffin recipe.

WET INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 CupAlmond Milk
  • 1 TeaspoonApple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 CupUnsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 CupCoconut Oil
  • 1 TeaspoonVanilla Extract
DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 CupsWhole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 CupWhite Sugar
  • 1 TablespoonBaking Powder
  • 1/2 TeaspoonSalt
ADD-ONS:
  • 1/2 CupVegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 CupChopped Nuts (Optional)
SUBSTITUTES:
PROCEDURE:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside for about 5 minutes or until it curdles.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
  4. To it add the milk mixture, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Mix together until the batter is just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  5. Scoop out about 1/3rd cup of batter in each muffin cup. Bake for about 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Mine was done in 25 minute
Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins
5.0 from 3 reviews
Print
Prep time:20 Mins
Cook time:25 Mins
Yields:8 Muffins
Very easy to bake, these vegan chocolate chip muffins will become your “go-to” vegan muffin recipe.

WET INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 CupAlmond Milk
  • 1 TeaspoonApple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 CupUnsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 CupCoconut Oil
  • 1 TeaspoonVanilla Extract
DRY INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 CupsWhole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 CupWhite Sugar
  • 1 TablespoonBaking Powder
  • 1/2 TeaspoonSalt
ADD-ONS:
  • 1/2 CupVegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 CupChopped Nuts (Optional)
SUBSTITUTES:
PROCEDURE:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C for 15 minutes. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside for about 5 minutes or until it curdles.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
  4. To it add the milk mixture, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Mix together until the batter is just moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  5. Scoop out about 1/3rd cup of batter in each muffin cup. Bake for about 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Mine was done in 25 minutes.