Tag Archives: easy vegan dinner

Chia, Quinoa & Greens Salad

 

For an awesome, easy lunch/side dish/snack that you can take on the go or whip up without heating the kitchen on a smoldering summer day, try this salad packed with power players. This would easily be layer-able in a mason jar, to take to work or school or anywhere on the go, or throw together right out of the fridge. It also tastes good made in advance if you use hardy greens that are amenable to some marinating.

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The base of any good green salad is of course the greens. Leafy greens are the super-veggies of the plant kingdom, and it is REALLY tough to have too much. There are plenty of species whose only food is leafy greens. We should try to emulate that as much as possible.

According to author, dietitian, and nutritional educator Jill Nussinow MS, RD, “Greens are the number 1 food you can eat regularly to help increase your health” (WebMD). Leafy greens are packed with vitamins & minerals, as well as heart- and gut-healthy fiber and plant-based chemicals, many of which we haven’t even discovered yet.

Leafy greens include kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, romaine, spinach, arugula or rocket, swiss chard, broccoli,  cabbage, and even iceberg. Start with a big heaping handful, at least 1-2 cups.

Next up is the buzz-worthy quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa was domesticated 3,000-4,000 years ago in South America. It is a psuedocereal with edible  seeds, closely related to amaranth and buckwheat.  Quinoa contains essential amino acids (which our body cannot make on its own) like lysine, as well as an exceptionally high protein content, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is also gluten-free, making it a great “grain-like” choice for those with Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance.

The raw seeds have a soapy coating (called saponins) that make them unpalatable to birds. This is handy because the crops need less protection. However, that means most quinoa crops must be processed before sale for humans, so that we are able to eat it without feeling like we just licked a Dawn dish soap dispenser.

And our final power player here is the chia seeds. Chia seeds are a massive nutrition powerhouse, with just one ounce (2 tablespoons) containing 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, and about 100 calories while also providing about 1/3 your recommended manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. There are claims that some ancient cultures would survive solely on chia seeds in times of duress.

Chia is easy to incorporate into baking, simply sprinkle a tbsp or two into any batter, from pancakes to muffins to oatmeal. You could also try a refreshing Chia Fresca as a beverage to get some chia in your life. While a little weird at first, it is a great habit to start to get enough water every day.

And finally, we top it off with whatever fresh veggies you are partial to. Just make sure to incorporate a variety, and at least 1/2-1 cup total. A tbsp of other nuts or seeds is also a great addition. Steer clear of too-high-fat toppings like cheese, meats, or even eggs. Add spices to taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrot & cucumber
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp vinaigrette

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Step 1: Lay down your greens. Mix in your quinoa. (To cook: mix 1 cup with 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat. Let stand 10 minutes, fluff with a fork.)

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Step 2: Add in your vegetables, sprinkle chia on top.

Step 3: Whip up a fresh, super-simple vinaigrette by mixing 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp vinegar in a bottle, then shaking. Or drizzle on 1-2 tbsp of bottled dressing.

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If you want to make a portable layered salad, add ingredients in the exact opposite order: dressing on the bottom, then hard veggies, soft veggies, quinoa & greens.

Vegan Tofu-Sauerkraut Lettuce Wraps

 

As I’ve been diving into the world of vegan food options, it has made me more creative with my meals, how they are cooked, what is in them, and what I can mix together.

One meal option I have fallen in love with is lettuce wraps. It is just like a taco, only completely gluten-free (depending on what you put inside), no added carbs, and very healthy. You get a dose of greens de facto because of the lettuce leaves, and skip the extra calories and added who-knows-what in the typical tortilla (refined & bleached white flour, leaveners, softeners, added sugar, GMOs, etc etc).

And, like a regular taco, you can put just about anything inside! Wraps are a great catch-all for veggies you need to use up, leftover half-batches of grains, and anything else you can think of. Here I use some of my homemade sauerkraut (which is so mind-blowingly easy to make, and delicious!), fried tofu, and mushrooms as my umami base, then load on top of it cooked rice & black beans, diced avocado & fresh salsa. Ah-maz-ing.

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And the best part is, you can’t really over-eat these! There is so much veggie goodness and nutrition packed into every wrap, you can have three or four, no problem. This recipe makes enough for 4 large wraps.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large outer leaves of romaine (plus more shredded)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu, drained
  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut or raw cabbage
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 large avocado
  • 4 tbsp salsa of choice

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Step 1: I made my black beans from dried (much cheaper than canned!) by taking 1 cup of beans per 2 cups water and putting them in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. This makes the beans nice and tender and ready to eat. Cook the rice according to package directions.

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Step 2: Drain and press the tofu by placing it on a folded paper towel with another on top. Press firmly, or place a heavy object on top, for a few minutes. Then add the tofu, mushrooms, and sauerkraut to a medium-hot frying pan, and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are moist and browned. Add a tbsp of water or vegetable stock if it dries out at any time.

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Step 3: Assemble the lettuce wraps. Take a large leaf of Romaine or other head lettuce and hold it in the palm of one hand. Add a tbsp or two of rice and cooked beans, then a heap of the cooked tofu-mushroom-sauerkraut mixture.

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Step 4: Add optional toppings like the diced avocado and salsa, or try sliced olives, juilenned carrot, zucchini, or radish, or shredded cheese. You could add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, sriracha, refried beans, or any other taco topping your heart desires.

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Above all, make it your own and enjoy!

 

Vegan Tofu-Sauerkraut Lettuce Wraps

Vegan Tofu-Sauerkraut Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • 4 large outer leaves of romaine (plus more shredded)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu, drained
  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut or raw cabbage
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 large avocado
  • 4 tbsp salsa of choice

Instructions

  1. I made my black beans from dried (much cheaper than canned!) by taking 1 cup of beans per 2 cups water and putting them in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. This makes the beans nice and tender and ready to eat. Cook the rice according to package directions.
  2. Drain and press the tofu by placing it on a folded paper towel with another on top. Press firmly, or place a heavy object on top, for a few minutes. Then add the tofu, mushrooms, and sauerkraut to a medium-hot frying pan, and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are moist and browned. Add a tbsp of water or vegetable stock if it dries out at any time.
  3. Assemble the lettuce wraps. Take a large leaf of Romaine or other head lettuce and hold it in the palm of one hand. Add a tbsp or two of rice and cooked beans, then a heap of the cooked tofu-mushroom-sauerkraut mixture.
  4. Add optional toppings like the diced avocado and salsa, or try sliced olives, juilenned carrot, zucchini, or radish, shredded lettuce, or shredded cheese. You could add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, sriracha, refried beans, or any other taco topping your heart desires.
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