Tag Archives: kale

Produce on the Edge

You know that random produce that you find in the drawer that needs to be used right now before it goes bad? We worked with that this week, and also came up with a new taco filling.

tempeh burrito

I had a four-day weekend the past week due to a day off to prepare food for my niece’s birthday party on Friday, and Martin Luther King Day on Monday. I finally got around to making some tempeh taco filling. I’ve been meaning to try this for a while. I didn’t really follow a recipe. I simmered the tempeh loaf in a shallow pan for about 20 minutes, cooled it a bit, then broke it up with a fork. In the same pan while it was cooling, I sauteed some onions, and added Penzeys Arizona Dreaming seasoning (one of my favorite spice blends ever), smoked paprika, salt, and some vegetable broth. I think it could have used some tomato paste, but I didn’t have any on hand. I tried to approximate the proportions of water and seasonings that one would get using a dry packet of taco seasoning.

Our tacos had lettuce, onions, salsa, and cilantro.

tofu scramble

Lance requested scrambled tofu for breakfast, with mushrooms. I was using the last of the mushroom blend that I chopped and cooked up before the mushrooms went past their prime. I like this technique for vegetables that are about to go bad. I can always cook them up and freeze them to add to soup later, or to blend into something like a sauce or even a smoothie. I’m getting better at not wasting produce. We also added spinach and mini sweet peppers to the scramble. It seemed like the right thing to do.

golden beet and pomegranate salad

This salad is made with some lovely Blue Moon Farms golden beets, apples, dinosaur kale, romaine lettuce, chickpeas, and pomegranate seeds. I’m a fan of fruits and vegetables in a salad, and chickpeas go with everything. It’s not pictured, but I topped this with a simple honey dijon dressing (dijon mustard, agave syrup, a bit of onion powder, and black pepper.)

chickpea salad and starfruit

The leftover chickpeas were made into chickpea salad, in which I used the remainder of the green onions before they went bad. (See the theme here?) I was going for a chicken salad-like version this time with fresh celery, onions, and some Penzeys BBQ 3000 seasoning. We picked up a few new spices over the holidays and are trying some of the blends.

This is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed star fruit. I bought it as a garnish for a fruit salad, but it’s tasty when it’s properly ripened. Here we had it with sliced kiwis and a banana that needed to be eaten that day.

On Sunday, Lance was our special guest on Food for Thought Radio, with Vegan Linda and myself. (A 7-year-old on live radio… what could possibly go wrong?) He did a good job talking about things he likes to eat, and packing lunches for school. For some reason known only in the mind of a 7-year-old boy, he also dreamed up a race in which the participants run 100 miles and drink beer. (I know a few people who would actually attempt something like that.)

Lance on Food For Thought

Lance on Food For Thought Radio

 

 

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake: A Review

I’m not a huge fan of frozen dinners. But when I saw these Kashi dinners on sale at Meijer for $1.70 each (50% off!), I thought I would give them a try. They’re clearly marked “vegan” too. Thanks Kashi!

The Mayan Harvest Bake is advertised as “plantains, black beans, sweet potato & kale, Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf, amaranth & polenta, and spicy ancho sauce.” There’s a lot going on here. The photo on the front of the box depicts a neatly-arranged square of layered ingredients, but we all know that’s not what reality holds inside the box (see second photo below). There is no such thing as artful presentation when it comes to frozen dinners.

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

Despite the conglomerated presentation, I enjoyed the flavors in this dish. I would love to create my own dish with similar ingredients, especially plantains and the enchilada-type sauce. From the top down:

  • plantains: delicious any way you prepare them, really.
  • black beans: see above. Can’t go wrong.
  • sweet potatoes & kale: yes, please.
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf: hearty, grainy. Might be better as a side dish.
  • amaranth polenta: worth making at home, since I love polenta. Yay for new grains!
  • spicy ancho sauce: tasty, reminiscent of the sauce on Amy’s enchiladas.
  • pumpkin seed garnish: very nice.

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

The verdict: tasty. Not sure I would purchase this if it had not been on sale. At least I have some new plantain ideas that don’t involve frying! With an apple for dessert, I’m full.

It’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodDid you know that a machine has been invented with the sole purpose of turning your frozen bananas into frozen desserts? What specialty gadget will they think of next?

[youtube]mwvTXNPuaRA[/youtube]

 

I’m all for this healthy idea, but I have a machine that does this already. It’s called a 13-year-old blender. I guess I’m not a specialty kitchen gadget kind of person.

brown smoothie

My blender made this oddly-colored smoothie many times last week. It has a base of frozen bananas and SoDelicious Vanilla coconut milk, plus kale, dark red cherries (or strawberries, I can’t remember), cocoa powder, and hemp oil. It tastes very much like a chocolate shake, has no refined sugar, and is completely kid-approved. Lance asked for it every day last week. We’ve been plowing through bananas like a herd of wild apes around here.

sausage muffin

When I’m not in the mood for a drinkable breakfast, I’ve been heating up some Herbed Breakfast Sausage patties from the freezer and eating them on toasted English muffins, along with some vegetable juice or a piece of fruit. The patties are from Vegan Diner. Like bananas, they also freeze well.

When it comes to breakfast, the freezer is your friend. It’s easy to keep a few containers of frozen fruit on hand, and a container of non-dairy milk in the fridge to make smoothies. My frequent mix-ins like cocoa powder, agave nectar, cinnamon, and ginger are all within an arm’s reach of my blender. And kale is an easy addition. Just rinse it off, strip off the stem, and place it in the blender. I have the best results when I add the milk first, then put the kale on top of that, then top it off with frozen ingredients. The kale seems to blend more finely when it’s on top of the heavy frozen stuff.

Are you eating breakfast? Did you know that eating breakfast is a characteristic common to successful weight loss maintainers and may be a factor in their success?

 

This Week’s Random Food

Here’s another installment of random things I have eaten this week.

vegan curry udon with tofu and vegetablesBest photo first! This is Curry Udon Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables, from Cravings Restaurant in Champaign. “Meat-Free” Mike from Food For Thought suggested this, and it was excellent. I love the shape of the carrots. Thanks, Mike!

vegan macaroni and cheese with beer cheese sauceNext on the carb parade: Macaroni with Beer Cheese Sauce. We made fondue last weekend, and I tossed the leftover vegan beer cheese sauce with some hot pasta and seasoned it with black pepper. The beer cheese sauce is based on Classic Fondue from The Uncheese Cookbook. It was delicious as a fondue, but subbing all beer for the wine in the original recipe meant the beer flavor was a bit too strong. Next time I’ll go with half veg broth and half beer. Very creamy, cheesy, and easy to make in a blender.

vegan tofu, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with olive saladHere’s a version of one of my favorite vegetarian sandwiches, the Tofulatta from Strawberry Fields in Urbana. The original sandwich contains grilled tofu, lettuce, tomato, provolone, and olive salad. No provolone here, but plenty of yummy olive salad. It’s the Tofuletta!

I am thrilled to have successfully grilled tofu. And now I can’t stop eating it. I used an indoor panini maker, and it was fast and easy.

tofu on the grill

The Best Tofu In The World is from the deli case at Common Ground Food Co-Op, sold in bulk. Thank you to Sarah, my vegetarian friend and colleague, for the suggestion. It’s the perfect firmness, and requires very little pressing. I slice it about 1/2 inch thick, press it briefly between towels, spread it out on a plate, and brush it with a soy/garlic marinade, then grill for about 3 minutes. The texture is great for sandwiches: chewy and a little crisp on the edges. I’m working on a post featuring several marinades. I prefer these a lot over vegan deli slices.

vegan smoky white beans and kaleThese smoky white beans and kale were awesome, and so easy to prepare. I started with roughly-torn kale, sauteed in some olive oil, with garlic and black pepper. When the kale was slightly wilted, I added about 2 cups of leftover canellini beans I had slow-cooked earlier this week, and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth with a few drops of liquid smoke mixed in. I also added vegan bacon bits. In about 10-15 minutes, the kale was tender but not completely mushy – just right.

vegan zucchini pasta with white bean basil sauceThis is a weird late-summer combination resulting from excessive heat and too many produce odds and ends.

The corn is topped with mayonnaise and lime juice, like elotes served from a local Mexican food truck. I’m really not a fan of mayonnaise on corn, but at least I tried it. The tomatoes have bacon bits on them, because I really wanted something with tomato and bacon flavors. The zucchini is sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. This is the first time I have tried that, and I found that I liked slicing off the outer part of the zucchini only, just down to the seeds. I sliced the leftover seedy “core” I was left with and saved it for smoothies later. Let no vegetable go to waste, right?

The sauce on the zucchini isn’t very visible, but it’s a leftover white bean and basil dip that I made over the weekend. I will definitely post this recipe later, because it’s AWESOME. I was surprised how well it transformed into a creamy sauce over the warm zucchini. I think serving it over wheat pasta would be too bland, but the zucchini “pasta” really works.

vegan Doodles cup: ramen, tofu, bok choy, marinated carrotsThis cup of noodles is from Doodles in Champaign. It’s a little restaurant on campus serving customized bowls of ramen noodles. You can choose your broth flavor (a few flavors are vegan, most surprisingly the “beef” flavor; must be a hydrolyzed soy-based flavoring) and top it with whatever you want. There are a number of meats, of course, and plenty of vegetable options, including vegetable gyoza (not sure if they’re vegan, though).

Random Eats: Week of July 31

Tofu with Black Bean Garlic Sauce from Cravings Restaurant, Champaign, IL. We love the owner of this place. He will cook us anything. My favorite dish is the green beans with spicy lemongrass. Their szechuan chili oil dishes are served sizzling-hot in little iron kettles, and will make you cough from across the room, they are so extremely spicy.

Black Bean Garlic Tofu

Our regular Channa Masala, cooked on the stove instead of the crock pot, with added cubes of super firm tofu. After marinating in the sauce, the texture is very, very close to paneer. I foresee a lot of vegetable + indian tomato gravy + cubed tofu combinations in my future.

channa masala with tofu

Pita with Cashew Goat Cheese (Vegetarian Times), fresh basil, and local tomatoes. With some fruit and nuts, it was enough to fuel a 9-mile run.

tomato basil pita with vegan goat cheese

Very Red Berry Smoothie. Super thick, almost like a dessert. I think this one contained frozen dark sweet cherries, frozen mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries), kale, golden flax meal, coconut milk, and a little cocoa powder.

red berry smoothie

I didn’t get a picture of the finished product for the ingredients below, but they became sauteed zucchini with Penzeys Greek Seasoning. Lance and I battled over the second helpings.

zucchini with greek seasoning

A Salad Tip

I like to bring big salads to work for lunch. When I ride my bike to work, I can’t always fit everything into a trunk bag. With a lunch, clothes, wallet, keys, and extra shoes, space is a priority. When I don’t have room for a separate salad dressing container, here’s what I do.

kale salad

1. Grab a good-sized salad container.

2. Pour in a serving of your favorite dressing. I used a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

3. Top the dressing with chopped vegetables or other salad ingredients. I used chopped crimini mushrooms, roasted chickpeas, and imitation bacon bits. Chopped raw asparagus would have made this combination even better.

4. Add chopped kale, enough to cover the dressing. You can stir it up a little to get some dressing on the kale, or carry it with you as you ride your bike to work – this will mix it up a bit! The idea is to wilt the kale a bit and marinate the vegetables.

5. Top with the more delicate salad greens of your choice. I used spinach, but any type of lettuce will work. It sits above the dressing, and should remain unwilted and crisp until lunchtime.