I admit, I am kind of glad the holiday’s are over.
Don’t get me wrong, I am loving my week off from work, catching up with family & friends I haven’t seen all year, but I’m a little over the excess that happens every November & December.
What is it about coming home that turns me into a teenager again? You would think I had never had my mother’s cooking before!
Since I only return to Virginia about once a year, I try to cram as many things into one week as I can. This notion also applies to food. Making sure I hit all of my favorite spots, all in one week, is no easy feat.
Somehow though, I manage to do it year after year.
Gah! I’m full just thinking about it.
And that’s about the time I return to green smoothies & kale.
I mentioned a few weeks ago the magic of kale, and it is just as fitting as I write this today. There is something so nourishing about this little leafy green that wakes me up from too much junk and snaps me right back into place. Better than any pill or cure-all tea, I feel instantly better after incorporating more kale salads into my diet.
The nice thing about this salad is while it’s so very healthy for you, it also feels a bit naughty. Almost like I’m easing back into my clean eating plan for January. Baby steps.
I call this my protein-kale salad because it is loaded with satisfying protein. Crispy bits of tempeh, sesame seeds, and lentils. This salad will keep you full for hours- perfect for lunch after days of grazing.
Make extra of the dressing, you will want to put it on tofu, brown rice, or as a dip for vegetables. I sometimes even make it a little thicker and smear it on sprouted bagels & toast.
Creamy Kale Salad
6 cups kale
1 cup shredded carrots
1/8 cup dried cranberries
1 avocado, diced
1/8 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup cooked french lentils
8 oz. tempeh, cubed
1 tbsp. oil
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. tahini
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. white miso paste
2 tbsp. water- or more if you like a thinner dressing
To make crispy tempeh: Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large skillet. Add tempeh and spices. Stir occasionally, until most sides become golden brown and crispy. Line a plate with a dish cloth or paper towel. Spoon the tempeh onto the towel to absorb excess oil. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a small blender or whisk by hand. Taste before serving- depending on the brand of tahini and miso you might need more/less salt.
To assemble: Combine kale, cabbage, & carrots for salad in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. With clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale. Don’t be afraid to get messy! Massaging by hand helps to break down the tough kale! Add cranberries, avocado, sesame seeds and lentils. Toss together and let sit for 5 minutes. Top with crispy tempeh and serve!
Stir-frys are my go-to weeknight meal. Easy to throw together, packed with vegetables & protein, they make for a nutrient-dense, filling dinner.
I like the green beans to still have some crunch to them. You can stir-fry them longer if you enjoy them more tender.
Spicy Green Bean Stir-Fry
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and cut in 1/2
8 oz. tempeh, finely chopped
2 tsp. Asian chili paste (Sambal Oelek)
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. corn starch
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice, stir, cover and boil until tender about 20 minutes. Drain well.
Preheat your broiler. Toss the green beans, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, and sugar together. Place onto baking sheet and boiled until beans are slightly charred, about 10 minutes.
Heat the remaining tbsp. of oil into a skillet. Add the tempeh and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic, chili paste and cook 5 minutes more.
Whisk the vegetable broth, cornstarch soy sauce & rice vinegar together. Add the charred beans to the skillet and the broth. Cook, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 more minutes. Serve over rice.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Our garden is still producing massive amounts of peppers, cherry tomatoes and basil. Not that I’m complaining. I’m Italian- I never get tired of eating pesto on just about everything. I usually chop our peppers up for quick fajitas, soups, or sauces but loved the idea of stuffing them with roasted corn, quinoa, and seitan. It’s the perfect meal to finish up our summer garden, and hearty enough for the colder temperatures outside.
If you can’t find seitan or want to make this gluten-free, add another pound of mushrooms instead. Don’t skip the cilantro cream, the added sauce is totally worth it, especially against the heat from the peppers.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Cilantro-Tofu Cream
Stuffed Pepper Ingredients:
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 cups roasted corn kernels
1/2 lb. (80z) seitan, diced
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 serrano chili, minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
salt/pepper to taste
3 large poblano peppers
1 recipe Cilantro Tofu Cream, recipe below
Prep the peppers: slice in half and remove the seeds and white rib. Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil. Add the peppers and cook until soft. Carefully remove, drain any water from the inside, and set in a baking pan.
While the water is boiling, prep the filling. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, chili pepper and dried oregano and cook until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms in a single layer and let sit for 5 minutes until crispy on the underside. Stir and let cook a few more minutes. If the mushrooms stick to the skillet, add some water or vegetable broth. Add the chopped seitan, corn kernels, and serrano pepper. Season with salt/pepper and cook for another few minutes, stir in the cooked quinoa.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spoon the filling into the cooked peppers. Slowly add 1/2″-1″ layer of water into the baking dish making sure not to let the water touch the filling. Bake for 25 minutes. If the top layer gets too crispy, cover the dish with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and top with cilantro-cream.
Cilantro Tofu Cream:
1 bunch cilantro
12 oz. silken tofu
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender/food processor until smooth.
This week, I am celebrating one of my favorite foods- tofu! A staple ingredient in my house, tofu is the perfect addition for a healthy diet. Rich in protein, calcium, and low in fat, try replacing tofu for a lighter version of your favorite dip. Curious on more benefits of tofu? Head over to yesterdays post which discussed soy foods and their role in reducing risk of breast cancer.
This is one of those recipes that takes no time to put together and is always a hit at parties. I make this pretty often, to take to a potluck at work, or wine nights with girlfriends. Either way, no one knows that tofu is what makes this dip so creamy and light tasting. Most dips rely on sour cream and heavy mayo, and a meager 2 tbsp. serving size can well be over 100 calories. This dip is satisfying but low in both calories and fat. It also makes a great sandwich spread.
Creamy Spinach Dip
1 package silken firm tofu, rinsed and drained
1 package frozen spinach, drained
3 tbsp. mayo (Veganaise is my favorite)
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 can water chestnuts, drained
1 scant tbsp. vegetable broth concentrate
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a few times until combined.
Don’t forget to enter the Tofu Cookbook Contest!
By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.