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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orange-Sesame Quinoa with Broccoli, Raisins and Baked Tofu (and a New Direction for the Blog)

Earlier this week, my sister called me because her nearly one year old baby (and my one and only nephew, Sammy), whom she is currently raising vegetarian, has an appointment for a hemoglobin test in a few weeks and she wants to make sure he is consuming enough iron. Reading from my handy resource for vegan nutrition, Get it Ripe by Jae Steele, I told her the following:

sources of iron: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), dried fruit, kidney beans, lentils, blackstrap molasss, navy beans, parsley, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, Swiss chard, thyme, turmeric

(since vitamin C increases absorption of iron) sources of vitamin C: beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, collard greens, grapefruit, guava, kale, papaya, parsley and strawberries

My sister also had questions about preparing quinoa (pronounced: keen-wah). I turned to Get it Ripe's handy chart on grains and discovered that quinoa has the highest protein of any grain, contains more calcium than cow's milk and is a source of vitamins B and E and iron. That's a lot of good stuff.

Let's skip to another conversation I had this week with my husband, Dylan. He asked me what we were going to eat for dinner. My response was, "I was going to make cookies." If making cookies for dinner isn't a wake up call, I don't know what is. So, guess what we had for dinner the very next day? You got it -- QUINOA! Not just any quinoa, either. Quinoa with broccoli, raisins and grilled tofu tossed in an orange-sesame dressing. Dylan praised it as the best meal he's had in a long time (although, let's be honest, A PLATE OF COOKIES was the competition).

Before I give you the recipe, I'm going to do a little nutritional PR for each component of the meal, partly for my sister and nephew, partly for myself and partly for the folks who ask, "where do you get your protein?" (to be fair, I haven't been asked that in a long time).

oranges: vitamins A and C, bioflavonoids
quinoa: high in protein and calcium, vitamins B and E, iron
broccoli: calcium, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin B5, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium
raisins: iron
tofu: iron, protein, calcium

Orange-Sesame Quinoa with Broccoli, Raisins and Baked Tofu:

For the quinoa:
  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 head broccoli, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup raisins

For the orange-sesame dressing (recipe from Appetite for Reduction):
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 2 to 3 oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon Microplaned or finely minced fresh ginger

For the tofu:
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, pressed (wrap tofu in a clean kitchen towel, place 1 or 2 heavy books over wrapped tofu and let sit for at least 1 hour, up to 4)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours and drained**
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Make the quinoa:
In a medium pot, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the water is absorbed. Add raisins and remove from heat. Set aside.

Prepare tofu:
Using a handheld blender or blender/food processor, puree 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, ginger, tamari, water, cashews and toasted sesame oil. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a square casserole dish. Slice tofu into 1-inch wide rectangles. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry tofu for 7-10 minutes on each side. Transfer tofu to prepared casserole dish and pour marinade over tofu. Place lid on dish or tightly cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

While tofu is baking, prepare dressing and broccoli:
Combine orange juice, red wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, salt, hot chili sauce and ginger in a bowl or a glass jar with a lid. Set aside. Chop broccoli into large branches. In same oiled skillet used for tofu, saute broccoli over medium heat for 7-10 minutes.

Put everything together:
When tofu is done baking, add broccoli to quinoa and toss with dressing. Serve warm with baked tofu.

*Information from Get it Ripe, my bible for vegan nutrition. Get yourself this book!
**You can skip soaking the cashews if you don't have time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cashew Queso Tacos with Refried Adzuki Beans and Kale Slaw

All of these recipes come together into one perfect taco. And a colorful, photogenic one at that, which is why it's so sad that I didn't capture a photo. As usual, I was too hungry to wait another moment and the food was hot!

Cashew Queso: I love this recipe and Isa even more than I already did for creating it. It's perfect, even when I used water instead of veg broth and left out the jalapeno and red bell pepper.
Refried Adzuki Beans: Saute diced onion and minced garlic in olive oil. Add 1.5 cups cooked adzuki beans. Roughly puree mixture using a hand blender (or a potato masher), adding water until desired consistency is reached. Add salt, cumin, ground chipotle and lime juice to taste.
Kale Slaw: Cut 1/2 bunch kale chiffonade-style (long thin strips). Toss with lemon juice, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Homemade Tortillas: The key here is to roll them out as thinly as possible.

Tortilla, queso, beans, kale. Eat!

Yield: about 6 tacos

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Easiest Tomato Soup & Soft Polenta

This meal will seriously take you 20 minutes tops to make and only requires a handful of ingredients. I wish I'd gotten a picture, the polenta looks so purty* spooned onto the red soup. Serve with a protein to round out the meal. Some ideas:

  • stir in cashew cream into the soup (1:1 ratio of cashews and water).
  • marinated and baked tofu
  • marinated and baked tempeh
  • add a 15 oz. can of beans (drained and rinsed) or about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans to the soup.
  • simmer 3/4 cup red lentils in the soup until they are tender and start to fall apart -- they'll pretty much blend in with the soup while adding great texture (this should take about 30 minutes).
  • sprinkle walnut gremolata on top of the soup.

tomato soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (optional; I didn't add this and it still tasted great)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz. crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted is my favorite)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups stock or water

Saute garlic in olive oil for just until fragrant. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and stock or water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until polenta is done.

soft polenta: (recipe from here)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/4 cups water
large pinch sea salt
1/2 cup polenta (also called coarse cornmeal)

Bring 2 tablespoons olive oil, water and sea salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add polenta. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula (or whisk) for 15-20 minutes, until it reaches a thick porridge-like consistency. Stir in final tablespoon of olive oil. Serve over soup.

Yield: 2 servings

*Purty is an example of metathesis, a linguistic process in which two adjacent sounds are reversed in order. Metathesis of r and a vowel is common, since the phonetic properties of r are so vowel-like. Apparently third and bird used to be thrid and brid. I know I'm a nerd, but this is really interesting to me.