Basic Veggie Stir-fry

IMG_6291If you’re like me, nothing tastes better than vegetables that you prepare yourself because you can control the spices, oil, and how much the food is cooked. That’s why I often take vegetables from my school’s dining hall and make myself stir-frys. I’ve made countless of these colorful meals while I’ve been at school, each time with slightly different ingredients but all equally delicious.

The Recipe:

Since each one I make is different, there isn’t necessarily one way to do this, and I encourage you to be creative with ingredients. However, a few things have stayed consistent with all my stir-frys: onions, olive oil, and broccoli, but of course, these are just personal preferences. IMG_5491Anyway, start by putting a pan over medium heat, and add a generous dash of oil. Next, put in the onions and a dash of salt to help with browning. Cartelized onions give the dish flavor, especially while working with limited spices, and also add sweetness. Once the onions have softened and browned a bit, add in your other ingredients. Always add the ingredients that need the most cooking first and save softer, quicker cooking ingredients for last (for example, add things like carrots, mushrooms and broccoli sooner, and save things like kale, spinach and beans for last). Again, you can add any vegetables and to give you an idea, these are the vegetables I’ve tried to far: kale, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, bok choy, red peppers, mushrooms, and carrots. Make sure that you add more oil if veggies start sticking to the bottom, and keep adding salt too (I usually add a pinch of salt with each veggie that I add). Once the veggies are cooked to the point you want them, remove from heat and eat!

Other options:

IMG_5106Sometimes, just veggies aren’t enough. One idea is to serve them over a bowl of quinoa or rice for a little added fiber and protein. I have also added black beans, edamame, garbanzo beans, or sesame seeds to my mixture. Another idea it to quickly fry up some tofu. I do this by taking plain, cubed tofu from my school’s salad bar and dousing it in balsamic vinegar or soy sauce. For a sweeter tofu, mix balsamic vinegar or soy sauce with a little honey or maple syrup. Let the tofu marinade for a few minutes in this mixture (the longer the better). Then, put a little oil in the pan and cook tofu on low-medium heat. Be sure to stir a few times and try to get all four sides of the cubes golden brown. While adding tofu takes longer, it’s totally worth it! Enjoy.

 

Review: Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

IMG_6392I bet you’ve heard that Ben and Jerry’s recently came out with four non-dairy ice cream flavors! Yippee! I recently got a hold of the non-dairy Chunky Monkey flavor, a banana ice cream with chocolate chunks and walnuts pieces. Sounds good, right? It is! The ice cream base is very rich in it’s banana flavor, and the walnuts add a nice crunch. They also use almond milk, which makes the texture spot on. Would I say it’s my favorite ice cream? Probably not. To be honest, if I’m going to indulge, I’d opt for a coconut base ice cream and one that is much lower in sugar. While the B&J’s is iconic, it certainly contains more “crap” so to speak as far as ingredients. But, it is a great step forward in the industry, and I hope to try all the other flavors soon.

This is a picture of my deconstructed banana split 🙂 My secret to not overeating ice cream is to put fruit in the bottom of my bowl first to fill up space, leaving less room for the ice cream on top. In this case I sliced a banana and topped it off with extra walnuts. Enjoy.

Nutty Quinoa Cookie Balls

While looking through recipes for bliss balls (sweet energy balls usually containing dates and other healthy alternatives), I found that most of them called for medjool dates, something that I don’t have access to here at school. However, I decided to get creative and came up with my own delicious and protein-packed bliss ball.

The Recipe:

IMG_6374Begin by gathering ingredients: about 2 cups plain cooked quinoa, 3-4 tbsp. almond butter, a few handfuls mixed nuts and dried fruit (I used Back to Nature’s “Harvest Blend” which included: raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and pecans), small handful chia seeds, generous dash of cinnamon, and a half cup baby chocolate chips. I got the quinoa, cinnamon, and chocolate chips from my dining hall’s buffet and the rest from my school’s convenience store. Like any of my recipes, the amounts are only a suggestion, and I can’t promise that they’re perfect since I have no measuring utensils 🙂 Chop the nuts and dried fruit coarsely, although try and get them as fine as you can (or as fine as patience allows). Combine all the ingredients and use your hands to kneed it into a lumpy dough, IMG_6380making sure that the almond butter is evenly distributed since it acts as the glue to hold the balls together. The amount of almond butter especially may need to be altered, and I realized after making the balls that mine may have been better if I had added a bit more. Anyway, shape into little balls and put into the fridge or freezer for at least an hour to set.

Honestly, the most problem ingredient was the chocolate chips, and you can always nix them all together (the dough still tastes fine without them). But I had to include them because I love chocolate too much..You could also try freezing the balls and then dipping them in chocolate. And like I always say, try other things too! Including dried fruit is nice because they acted as a natural sweetener, but if you have no access to them you could always add a little maple syrup or honey and extra nuts. Things like cocoa powder and shaved coconut would also be great, just explore your options! Enjoy.

Curry Quinoa Chickpea Fritters

I really just did this to see if it was possible 😉 And it is! Getting fritters or patties to stick together is much more difficult when you aren’t using eggs, but chickpeas can act as a good replacer if their mashed.

The Recipe:

IMG_6312Start by obtaining your ingredients: cooked quinoa, raw garbanzo beans, a handful of baby spinach, curry powder, salt, and coconut oil. Like most of my recipes, I got these things from my school’s salad bar, so alter as needed. The amounts for this recipe are also hard to say, you may just have to play with it? Probably a little more chickpeas than quinoa, and curry powder and salt to taste. Start by quickly wilting your spinach. Put a little oil in a pan on medium heat, plop in the spinach, and stir for about 30 seconds (it really doesn’t take long!). Then mix all the ingredients together with a fork, focusing on mashing the chickpeas as if you were making hummus. I added a little olive oil to this just to get the consistency more of what I wanted, so you may have to add something here and there. Then use your fingers (or a IMG_6318.jpgspoon) to form the mixture into little balls and press into flatter disks. You don’t want them to be too thin though, otherwise they will fall apart. Then put them on a pan over medium to low heat, and make sure there’s enough coconut oil on the pan to prevent sticking. Leave them on the pan until golden brown and flip.

As I always point out, these can be varied. You can add any vegetable to these, such as kale, chard, roasted red peppers, corn, etc. in place of the spinach, and other spices besides curry would work well too. I did not have the right ingredients, but these fritters would go great with a mango chutney, or other sweet sauce. Or, just plain as a protein-rich snack or side dish. Enjoy.

Fancy Yogurt

IMG_6281I just found that my school has a selection of Silk and Daiya brand non-dairy yogurts! But since yogurt, in my opinion, can be boring, I wanted to get creative with it. I cut up and mixed one ripe banana and into a Black Cherry Daiya yogurt, and topped with cocoa nibs, chopped almonds, and chia seeds. Of course, any other toppings would work such as, like coconut, walnuts, pistachios, flaxseed, berries, etc.

But what about yogurt’s nutritional value? Well, it certainly qualifies as a treat: yogurt cups like these generally contain a lot of sugar unless they’re plain flavored. However, this treat does have a significant amount of protein and probiotics to make it worthy of a breakfast item. Probiotics are live “good” bacteria that help keep the digestion system healthy. While we don’t need these bacteria, they can be helpful, especially when experiencing stomach upset. And isn’t it nice that vegans can get in on these benefits?! Enjoy.

Cucumber-Hummus Quesadillas

IMG_6266.jpgRecently I have been craving the toasted, crunchy texture of tortillas after they’ve been sitting on a hot pan, the taste that comes from crispy quesadillas. I don’t know about you, but there isn’t really any vegan cheese available to me so to satisfy my craving I decided to get creative in my quesadilla making.

The Recipe:
I started by going to my salad bar and filling one container with sliced cucumbers and another container with raw garbanzo beans. In my dining hall, salad bar ingredients can be put IMG_6259into disposable to-go containers, but if that is not possible you may have to bring a container with you in your bag and transfer the ingredients once you pay. Then, I went over to the spice area (at my school we have a spice selection next to the condiments) and generously sprinkled dill and basil leaves on the garbanzo beans before taking
everything back to my dorm room. As far as portions go, you’ll have to just decide how much you want to make. I took about 1/3 cup of cucumbers and about 1 cup of beans, but you don;t have to be very exact with this. Next, add a little salt and olive oil to the garbanzo beans and spices, and mash everything together using a fork or spoon until smooth (or smoother). Spread a thick layer of the hummus over one half of a tortilla and arrange the cucumbers on the hummus. Then, to help the sides of the tortilla stick to one another, put a little IMG_6262dollop of hummus on each cucumber slice and fold the tortilla over. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and leave the quesadilla on the pan until golden brown and flip. And that’s it!

Variations:

Of course, there may be some of you that cannot achieve this because of the resources you have. Peppers, broccolis, mushrooms, or spinach could always replace cucumbers, and two slices of bread could replace the tortillas. I also recently made an excellent almond butter-banana quesadilla with cinnamon and shaved coconut, so really the possibilities are endless! Enjoy.

Chia Seed Pudding

fn_chia-seeds-thinkstock_s4x3_lgI bought a bag of chia seeds recently, and have been incorporating them into my diet when I can because I have heard rumors of their health benefits. For those unfamiliar with chia, they are small seeds that form a gel around them when put into liquid. And they’re super good for us! Chia, like flaxseed, contains high levels of Omega-3s; in fact chia, seeds’ lipid profile is made up of 60% omega-3 (refer to post titled “The F-Word of Nutrition” for more info). These seeds also contain fiber, antioxidants, and a host of minerals such as manganese, calcium and phosphorus, making chia a true super food of the seed world.

Because of their gelatinous texture when submerged in liquid, chia seed pudding is a great way to eat them!

The Recipe:

IMG_5999.jpgThere are really only two essential ingredients here: chia seeds and a non-dairy milk of your choice. I got my chia seeds from my school’s little convenience store, but they should be available at most natural foods stores. There are countless toppings and spices that can easily be added to your pudding once it’s finished, so you’ll just have to see what is available to you, but I will share what I added. First, combine your milk and chia seeds (I used plain soy milk). The ratio that worked best for me was about 3 tbsp. of seeds for every 1 cup of milk. The nice thing is that you can always add more seeds if the consistency isn’t thick enough (so you can’t really mess up!). I added 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon to this mixture, and stirred it well to avoid clumping. It will only take IMG_6005around 5-10 minutes for the seeds to form their gel, and then your pudding is basically done. If you have the time, it can be nice to prepare the pudding the night before and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Then just add your toppings! I cut up a banana and some strawberries, and topped it off with shaved coconut and chopped almonds. All of these I was able to “steal” from my school’s dining hall buffet, but really any combination of fruit and nuts will be delicious! Some ideas: cinnamon, turmeric, blueberries, cashews, maple syrup, pears, apples, walnuts, or cocoa nibs. The great thing about this breakfast, aside from it being very tasty, is that it’s rich in fiber so it fills you up! I actually only ate half for breakfast, putting the other half in the fridge for another meal. Enjoy.