The Daily Dish: Asian Rice Salad

It’s been so darned hot here in Florida, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. I’m constantly looking for fast, filling food that doesn’t require a whole lotta cooking. After taking a peek in the fridge to see what I had on hand (ok, I might have done more than peek – that refrigerator sure feels good!), I then searched for recipes using leftover rice and some fresh veggies that were languishing in the produce drawer. To my delight, I discovered this recipe for Asian Rice Salad, and was inspired to create my own vegan, oil-free version.

Asian Rice Salad

 


Asian Rice Salad

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Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha red chili sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
  • 15 ounces garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed & drained
  • 11 ounces mandarin oranges in water, drained
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper — chopped
  • 3 scallions — sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped, optional
  • salt and pepper — to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds — for garnish
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce — for serving

In a bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients & set aside.

Toss together rice, veggies & cilantro if using.

Gently stir in dressing, serve plated on a bed of lettuce. Top with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of Sriracha for more heat.

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Makes 6 Servings; Nutrition per Serving as calculated by Mastercook: 351 Calories; 4g Fat (9.7% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 365mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

8 Weight Watchers SmartPoints as calculated on the recipe builder.

NOTES : This recipe is quite versatile; you could add sliced almonds or avocado, sub mango for the oranges, peas for edamame, or even top with chow mein noodles for more crunch!

 

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. At the moment I am also using Weight Watchers to help me reach goal weight.

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The Daily Dish: Bread is the Devil

devilbread

I have a confession:  after yesterday’s biscuit nirvana, I didn’t feel well.  Even though the meal was vegan and lowfat and technically “healthy,” it wasn’t good for me.  You see, white flour and I don’t get along.   We have a long history, a complicated relationship full of temptation, indulgence and inevitable guilt.  I can’t just have one bite, or one biscuit..one slice of Italian bread, one cup of pasta.  One leads to two which leads to an empty bread basket and a giant tummy ache.  I have tried & tried over the years to break up with Mr. White Flour, knowing that we are not good for each other, but somehow he pulls me back in.

So, I did some deep thinking and some soul searching.  Though I know lots of people can, and do, enjoy pastas and breads on a plant-based diet, I’m simply not one of them.  Maybe someday I can tip my toe in, perhaps flirt with whole grain varieties and my beloved Ezekiel bread, but for now I’m going cold turkey.  I’m leaving you,  Mr. Dough Boy.  Cute as you are, we are simply not right for each other.  Please don’t tempt me any longer, don’t invade my dreams with fluffy biscuits and crunchy French bread.  Just leave me alone, ok?  Because there’s a new guy in town, and he is named John McDougall, MD.  He’s taking me on a date, promises me a good time without tummy aches, guilt and remorse.  This new adventure is one I’ve been on before, and it was good.  I lost weight, I had more energy, I was content.  I was healthy, in body and mind.  He even has a side kick, Dr. Neal Barnard, and they are going to help me reach my goals, for once and for all.

Books

For the next month I’m challenging myself to a whole foods, plant-based, no oil, no processed foods way of eating,  ala The Maximum Weight Loss Diet.  I’ll be using all of the MWL-compliant recipes I can find, along with some from Dr. Barnard and colleagues.  I’m going to follow the program as closely as I can, but I’m admitting right now that I will likely have an occasional glass of wine, and my morning coffee is not negotiable.  Progress, not perfection, as they say.

I hope you’ll follow along with me, would love the support and camaraderie! I’ll pop in later with my weekly menu, am going to pore over a few cookbooks and websites for a little while.

Have a wonderful day!

Note: My daughter Kristyn designed the dough boy devil graphic years ago, isn’t he adorable?!

The Daily Dish: Biscuits on My Mind

D

This morning I woke up craving biscuits, which is a problem because 1) most ready-made biscuits are not vegan and 2) I don’t know how to make them myself.  Over the years I have tried & tried, recipe after recipe, method after method, yet I have never been able to master the art.  Those innocent little balls of dough refuse to rise the way they’re supposed to, or they get brown on the bottom while the inside is still mushy.  I finally gave, threw my flour-covered hands in the air and admitted defeat! It wasn’t pretty, and I hated knowing that I was bested by the dough but I had no choice.

So, I’ve lived a biscuit-free life since going vegan.  It’s not been easy, ignoring the call of the dough boy.  Occasionally we’d drive by McDonald’s and I’d get a whiff of them baking, that heavenly smell wafting through the air..sigh…was I meant to live out the rest of my life this way?  What a cruel fate!  Wait, what is that?  Browsing through the McDougall Friends board, what is that I saw?  Fluffy Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits? Could it be? Should I try to make them and risk failure once again?  I decided to sleep on it, to see if I woke up brave enough to give it another go.  I did.

This morning, armed with a big mug of coffee and my trusty rolling pin, I got down to business.  I followed the recipe exactly, and while they were baking I decided to mix up a batch of gravy as well, thinking that even failed biscuits could be hidden in a sea of gravy.  Well, guess what?  They were wonderful!  Ok, not perfect, a little chewy and dense but that’s because I overworked the dough a tiny bit and I know that biscuits enjoy a light touch.  But seriously, they were yummy!  Ta-da! I heard trumpets sounding and my grandma in heaven clapping because I have finally learned the most basic skill of any good country cook.  It was a proud moment. The gravy was amazing as well, would definitely recommend both of these recipes!

Biscuits

We are off to (hopefully) view the eclipse and the big Super Moon over the ocean, seems a lovely way to end the weekend.

Have a nice evening!

The Daily Dish: Cheese

GrilledCheese1

If you ask a vegan what was the hardest part of going plant based, what he/she found the most difficult to give up, 90% of them will answer the same way: Cheese.  We love it.  We crave it.  I daresay, we are addicted to it.  And there are scientific reasons for that, something called casomorphins.  Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM explains it much better than I can in this Youtube video, take a look/listen when you have time.

There’s lots more info out there if you’re interested, but suffice it to say: we humans have a soft spot for cheese, and though we know the reasons for avoiding and would never go back to consuming it, most vegans miss it.  To fill this void, there are many veg-friendly substitutes for the stuff, but most of it is highly processed and not very good for us.  Those of us who follow a whole-foods-plant-based-no-oil diet tend to eschew it completely, having learned that it’s better to live without it. I agree, for the most part.  I’m not perfect and I’m not a purist, so there are times when I give in to the craving, when I want something ooey and gooey and warm and comforting and nothing does that better than cheese.  Many of the substitutions out there just don’t cut it for me, I don’t like the texture or the aftertaste, something is always just a little bit “off.”  However, I found one product that meets my standards, that is so close to the real deal that I have to double-check the ingredients to assure myself that it’s not dairy: Chao.  Made by the Field Roast company, these slices are the bomb!  They make a perfect grilled cheese sandwich or, my favorite, a “toasted cheese,” basically toasted Ezekiel bread with a smear of Veganaise, slice or two of Chao, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. Yum! I am really glad that the one distributor in my area prices them so high that I can’t afford to indulge very often, because otherwise I could get into a lot of trouble.

Chao

Of course, you can also make your own as Miyoko Schinner has done in her popular book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, but I have yet to try it.

So, bottom line: I avoid cheesy-type meals most of the time but when the craving hits hard and I decide to indulge, I go for it in a big way.  This past week I did so with this Chili Fiesta Mac ‘n Cheese recipe by Vegan Yack Attack.

Fiesta Mac

Cook’s Note: As usual, I eliminated the coconut oil and used vegetable broth for sauteeing. I figured there was quite enough fat in this dish, no need to add more.

Approximately 4 large Servings – Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:   569 Calories; 21g Fat (32.4% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 83g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1069mg Sodium

The Verdict:  Follow Your Heart shreds are good on tacos, but I have never tried to melt them.  I had misgivings, but wanted to follow the recipe as written, so I did just that.  Once again, there was a strange aftertaste, and though it was okay, I wouldn’t use this product again for mac ‘n cheese.  The chili, however, was delicious! I doled out portions for my kids and advised them to use a box of Earth Balance as a base instead. As for myself, this is way too high in fat & calories, yikes!  I decided to have just the chili served over rice, with a little avocado on top, and enjoyed that much more!

Fiesta Mac2

Look at the difference in nutrition: Per Serving: 259 Calories; 2g Fat (6.6% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 51g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 316mg Sodium.  And that is why I don’t suggest eating cheese on a regular basis!  For a healthier version of Chili Mac, I recommend FatFree Vegan Kitchen’s wonderful recipe. 

Today I’ll be making a Chipotle Corn Chowder, can’t wait to try it!

Have a wonderful day!

The Daily Dish: Italian Noodle Soup

Italian Noodle Soup

As I mentioned, I did some batch cooking over the weekend and one of the dishes I prepared was this Italian Noodle Soup.  The recipe reminded me of a family favorite I made often when my children were small, Tortellini Soup.  It consisted of a bag of frozen tortellini, frozen spinach, broth and some spices.  It was delicious and so easy, I could throw it together with a baby balanced on one hip and a toddler at my feet!  Of course, this was before we went vegan and since I’ve yet to discover a good veg-friendly tortellini, I had to find a substitute.

This recipe from Your Cup of Cake is just as easy to prepare and if topped with some dairy-free Parmesan, I get the same cheesy flavor as the original we knew and loved!  It was so good that I packed up the leftovers and brought them to my daughter’s house where we feasted once again!

09.22 Lunch

Along with a (vegan) Antipasto, kale salad and garlic bread, this was a wonderful meal, made even better by the company I got to share it with.

Cook’s Note: I used about 2 cups more vegetable broth than suggested as the finished product was a little too thick for my taste. I threw in a chopped zucchini that I had on hand for more veggie goodness! I sprinkled dairy-free Parmesan on top of each bowl before serving. This made a generous amount of soup, at least 8 servings, especially if you accompany it with salad and bread as we did. I’d probably use a different kind of pasta next time as the long noodles made it a bit sloppy (but fun!) to eat.

Approximately 8 Servings – Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:  224 Calories; 1g Fat (5.3% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 1071mg Sodium.

The Verdict: Delicious! So simple to make and the mild flavors make it perfect for children.

Today I’ll say a reluctant goodbye to my girls as we load up the car and head back home.  I’ll be leaving containers of food in my wake, though, some of Mom’s cooking to tide them over til the next visit!

Have a wonderful day!

The Daily Dish: Ethics with a Side of Curry

ethics

When I created my first blog, the whole blogging thing was in its heyday.  People were jumping at the chance to publish their own sites, to put their thoughts/feelings/ideas out there for the masses!  Some were trained writers, but most of us were just your average Joe/Josephine puttering around on the internet, doing it for fun. That was me.  I was just winging it, learning as I went along, posting pics and telling stories, sharing anything and everything that interested me..including recipes.  Back then, there were no rules or even guidelines about what could, or should, be posted on one’s personal blog.  No one talked about copyright infringement.  We just posted what we wanted and it was all good.

Well, here I am eight years later and I’ve learned a thing or two.  I now know that it’s really not cool to post other people’s original content unless you have express permission.  You shouldn’t copy recipes, ver batim, from a cookbook, even if you give credit to the author.  And while it’s not technically illegal, it’s not nice or ethical to “adapt” someone else’s recipe and call it your own.  I have done both of these things in the past, out of pure ignorance, and I am sorry.  Though I’ve never been a big-wig blogger with tons of followers so I doubt I “cost” a cookbook author any money, it still wasn’t right.  Unfortunately, this is all-too common out there in blog-land and the internet in general, and it really infuriates me when I see it.  Some folks, like me, don’t know any better but others..well, let’s just say that professionals should act as such.  No one should be making money or gaining notoriety on someone else’s hard work.

So, you will rarely see an actual recipe on this blog. Unless it’s been passed down from my family or one I’ve tweaked, modified and/or have simply lost the original origin, I won’t be sharing.  I have the utmost respect for the authors who work tirelessly developing wonderful vegan dishes and I will show my appreciation and support by linking to his/her site where he/she has published the recipe or to a store where you can purchase the cookbook.  Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way..grin..how about we talk about food?!

Chip and I have a Friday night routine: happy hour at our favorite tavern, followed by take-out dinner on the way home. We often opt for Thai food as that’s my absolute favorite! I go for a spicy curry while Chip leans toward more milder fare. Well, this past Friday night I decided to save money and calories my making my own dinner. This  Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry recipe is from Chop Chop, a magazine geared toward cooking with children! As a result, it contained only a few ingredients, was very easy to prepare and mild in flavor, perfect for sharing with the spice-averse family members.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry ingredients

While the ingredients were simmering, I loaded my rice cooker and had brown rice cooking as well. I then portioned out our servings (taking a little taste, yum!) so that when we came home all I had to do was scoop, reheat and plate!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

Cook’s Note: The only change I made was subbing vegetable broth for the vegetable oil.

Nutritional info (provided by Mastercook) per serving:  352 Calories; 9g Fat (21.7% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 58g Carbohydrate; 13g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 420mg Sodium.

The Verdict: Fantastic! I’d definitely give this one four stars! This wasn’t a complicated dish and though the flavors weren’t complex, it was a good solid curry that satisfied my craving.  This is an easily-adaptable recipe, some baked tofu would be a nice addition!

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did.

Have a wonderful day!