Asian style quinoa

Friends, I have a few staples that I love to make a lot – pasta, pizza, soup, tofu, and quinoa. I just love this fancy superfood that is so easy to make into so many different dishes. The classic vegetarian staple is often grains + veggies, and quinoa is definitely my grain of choice. I’m not a huge rice person, so quinoa is pretty much where it’s at for me.

I have been looking into experimenting with different grains in future recipes though, did you know there are so many grains that people hardly ever talk about? There’s millet, farro, barley, buckwheat, the list goes on. I want to try them all! So, stay tuned for that happening. 🙂

Anyway, it’s about time I made another Asian dish, so here you go! This one is simple & delicious – hardly any prep time required.

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Asian style quinoa (adapted from Overtime Cook)
1 1/2 cups raw quinoa
1 pound stir fry vegetables (I used a frozen mix that I left defrost on the counter)
1/4 cup sesame oil (or just use olive oil with 2 tsp sesame seeds, though the flavor is different)
2 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey or agave
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Cook quinoa – 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa + 3 cups water.
  2. Meanwhile, mix all other ingredients (except veggies) to make the sauce.
  3. After quinoa is done, add in veggies and sauce. Heat over low for just a few minutes or until vegetables are warm.
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New & improved potato pizza

So, awhile ago I made a vegan version of my favorite Toppers pizza.

It was pretty yummy, but I’ve learned a lot since then! Introducing, the new & improved potato pizza. =)

This recipe is certainly not quick & easy, but I promise you the delicious end result is totally worth it! Stick with me, and you will understand what I mean. Mmmm.

Feel free to buy vegan cheese or pizza crust to speed this up, as making everything by hand does take a bit of time. You could also make some of these things ahead of time! Whatever works best for you.

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Potato topping
2 medium potatoes, cooked in the microwave
Olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 tsp dried minced onion
Salt & pepper to taste

2 green onions, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 500 F.
  2. Cut cooked potatoes into small cubes.
  3. Combine potatoes with olive oil and seasonings.
  4. On a prepared pizza crust, layer coconut milk cheese, followed by this potato topping. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melty and crust is a golden brown. Top with chopped green onions and eggplant bacon. Serve with vegan sour cream.

Eggplant “bacon” (adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)
1 medium eggplant
2 tbsp honey or agave or maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp smoked paprika (or just regular paprika will suffice)
pinch black pepper

  1. Prepare eggplant for baking by salting it to remove moisture & increase crispiness — cut it into slices, put slices in colander over sink and salt generously. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Mix sauce ingredients and pour in a small pan.
  3. Rinse eggplant with cold water and press with towels to get out any extra moisture.
  4. Layer eggplant in pan filled with sauce and let sit for several minutes to absorb flavor.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  6. Spray cookie sheet with lots of olive oil. Layer marinated eggplant slices on sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes, flipping over halfway through. You want them to be super crispy. It’s okay if a few spots get burnt, they will still taste quite good!

Vegan sour cream (adapted from food.com)
1 package of silken tofu
3 tbsp olive oil
3-5 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch of sugar or honey (optional)

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Start with the minimum amounts of lemon juice & ACV, then add more slowly if desired.

Super simple black bean soup

So, I’ve made a lot of crazy complicated recipes in the past. But, I’ve had a busy/stressful week, so decided it was time to scale back a bit. Recipes can be both delicious & easy!

This soup was probably the simplest thing I’ve ever made. Just, wow. And it was quite yummy for the 20 minutes or so it took to make!

Fun fact- apparently you can freeze avocados! I bought my avocado a few days before I wanted to make this soup and it got ripe very quickly. I was worried about it going bad before I had a chance to make this soup, so I threw the whole avocado in the freezer, just to see what would happen. And hey, it didn’t go bad! I just pulled it out of the freezer an hour before making dinner & used it as usual. I can’t believe that worked. Ha. =)

Also, bonus recipe: instant healthy garlic bread. This is a perfect quick side when you need just a bit more to fill you up!

A note on buying bread – make sure to buy 100% whole wheat bread! Phrases like “wheat bread” or “multigrain” sound nice, but aren’t necessarily healthy. If you aren’t sure, check the label. You want “whole wheat flour” to be listed as the first ingredient. “Enriched flour” of any sort is not very good. Stick with the whole grains for the healthiest choice!

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Garlic bread
A few slices of whole wheat bread
Olive oil
Minced garlic
Dried minced onion
Italian seasoning
Salt (if desired)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil. Lay slices of bread on it.
  3. Drizzle olive oil generously on slices of bread.
  4. Sprinkle bread with spices & garlic.
  5. Bake a few minutes until crispy!

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Black bean soup (adapted from One Ingredient Chef)
2 15 oz cans of black beans
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 medium tomatoes
2 green onions, sliced
1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
1 avocado

  1. Drain beans but don’t rinse. Pour into large sauce pan.
  2. Mash beans lightly with potato masher. You just want some of them mashed, but some of them intact.
  3. Add broth and heat over medium heat for a minute or two.
  4. Chop other ingredients and add in everything else (except avocado). Simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Top with slices of avocado when serving!

Stuffed tomatoes with quinoa & mushrooms

When I was in France, my host mom made this wonderful dish with baked tomatoes. I just loved the texture of tomatoes cooked in the oven like this, so of course I had to find a healthier, veggie version of this dish. =)

The last time I went shopping, I realized quinoa was slightly cheaper if I bought it in bulk as opposed to a box, so I filled up a bag… and bought $14 worth of quinoa. I clearly have no concept of how much quinoa I actually need. But it’s not going to go bad anytime soon so I’m not too concerned. This just means there’s going to be a lot of quinoa dishes coming up! Tehee.

I also was really excited to make this recipe because it was an excuse to use up some of my herbs I’ve been growing! I’ve never grown anything myself before, but I’ve always loved the idea of a small herb garden. Despite my black thumb, they’ve been growing okay and I was pretty pumped to try some fresh herbs! They were quite yummy indeed. Of course, you can use dried parsley in this recipe, but the flavor of fresh herbs really is a special treat. =)

Enjoy this simple but yummy dish!

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Stuffed tomatoes with quinoa & mushrooms (adapted from Honey & Milk)
6 medium tomatoes
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp dried minced onion
3/4 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (or 2 tsp dried parsley)
Pepper & salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and set aside.
  3. Remove the insides of the tomatoes with a spoon and toss insides in food processor. Arrange the hollowed tomatoes in a 13×9 baking dish, sprayed lightly with olive oil.
  4. Blend tomato insides until smooth.
  5. Heat garlic in a pan with a little olive oil, just until fragrant (30 seconds). Add in mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid is gone.
  6. Add in all remaining ingredients, including water, tomato puree, and dried spices. Cook until much of the liquid is gone. If the quinoa is not yet fluffy, add more water & cook until it is a fluffy, light texture.
  7. Stir in fresh chopped parsley. Fill tomatoes with tomato puree/quinoa/mushroom mixture. Place tomato tops on stuffed tomatoes. Spray lightly with more olive oil.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until tomatoes are very wrinkled and soft.

Honey baked tofu

I have been wrestling with the best way to make tofu for awhile now. Whenever I try to pan fry it, it always gets all gross & crumbly. I think if I used a thin layer of oil that would work better than just spraying the pan, but that just feels a bit too unhealthy for me.

So, on to baking tofu! After this recipe, I have decided that I will no longer pan fry tofu again. The baked tofu turned out far better than any tofu I’ve ever made!

I totally ate this whole block of tofu by myself, so I would recommend either making more or serving it over rice, quinoa, etc. But then again, I was pretty hungry so maybe two moderately hungry people could share!

I’ve also been having an intensely strong craving for sugary things lately. I typically don’t keep any sugary treats in my house, so when this craving hits I tend to eat weird things that I do have. For example, the other day I ate about half a jar of peanut butter with a spoon. While not incredibly healthy, I’m sure, I’d be willing to bet that it’s better than eating a bag of mini donuts. 😉

Anyway, this recipe for tofu is wonderfully sweet with a bit of spice. Feel free to use agave if you are a strict vegan. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Honey baked tofu (adapted from Healthy Tipping Point)
1 block extra firm tofu
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp honey or agave
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
Sesame seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Press tofu until 1 1/4″ in diameter. Cut tofu in small cubes.
  3. Mix all ingredients together except sesame seeds. Microwave for 40 seconds and stir thoroughly.
  4. Spray a cooking sheet with olive oil. Dip the tofu in the marinade and place on cooking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip all pieces over, sprinkle with more sesame seeds, and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  6. If you let them sit for awhile, they will get firmer & crunchier. I just ate mine right away though. 😉

Veggie sloppy joes with homemade barbecue sauce

Have you heard about jackfruit? It’s all the rage on the internet because it’s a great substitute for pulled pork or chicken in terms of texture. It shreds perfectly and is great for so many recipes!

I couldn’t find jackfruit at my normal grocery store, but randomly found a can when I was at an Indian food store looking for Garam Masala. I decided I wanted to first try a sloppy joe recipe with jackfruit. This seems to be one of the most popular uses.

I also wanted to use this opportunity to make my own barbecue sauce. Barbecue sauce is one of those items that you really can’t buy a healthy version of. I discovered this while using my new favorite app, Fooducate! If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a free app that lets you scan items in the store. It then tells you how healthy they are on a A-F scale, and recommends healthier options for you. Barbecue sauce, as well as other condiments like ketchup, really don’t come in very healthy options. So, I plan on posting a few more of these types of recipes for condiments in the future!

The following recipe is perfect and very easy indeed! Enjoy!

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Veggie sloppy joes with homemade barbecue sauce (sauce adapted from Farmgirl Fare)
1 large can jackfruit
1 red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder

4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp onion powder
4 tbsp honey or agave
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cans tomato paste (6 oz)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp miso, mix with water to make a paste
Pepper to taste
3 cups water

  1. Drain and wash the jackfruit. Squeeze out the water in the jackfruit with your hands.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan sprayed with olive oil. Add jackfruit and red pepper. Sprinkle on spices. Cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add in garlic and heat for 30 seconds, or just until fragrant.
  4. Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients to the pan. Stir until sauce & veggies are combined.
  5. Add the water and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thick (about 30 minutes).
  6. Serve on whole wheat buns!

Vegan southwest bake

So, my mom used to make this wonderful southwestern egg bake, and it was one of my favorite dishes. It had eggs, it had cheese, it had sausage, it was nowhere close to vegan. But I decided to mess with this dish dramatically and make something that fits my current diet but tastes just a bit like mom’s cooking. 🙂

Basically, I used the same idea behind the tofu quiche to make this recipe vegan. And while I could have just replaced the sausage with vegan sausage, I prefer using whole vegetables instead of meat substitutes. They are cheaper & better for you, so I changed the entire dish up with a load of veggies!

Warning: I really love the spice in this dish so I went a bit overboard. If intense spices are not your thing, you might want to cut the amount of certain spices down a bit! 😉

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Vegan southwest bake
6 flour tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips
16 oz mushrooms
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 red bell peppers
2 cups spinach
1 can black beans (15 oz)

2 packages extra firm tofu
1/8 tsp black salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 cup milk of choice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
Pepper to taste
Miso to taste

5 roma tomatoes
3 green onions

  1. Cook mushrooms with soy sauce until most of their water is gone. Add in other veggies and seasonings.
  2. In a greased 13×9. baking dish, layer half of the tortilla strips with the veggies on top. Repeat layers.
  3. Blend tofu with black salt, nutritional yeast, milk as needed, and remaining seasonings.
  4. Pour tofu mixture over contents of baking dish.
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 30-50 minutes.
  6. Arrange tomato slices over the top. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  7. Sprinkle green onions on the top & serve!