Tag Archives: plant based living

General Tso’s Cauliflower

Do you ever just CRAVE Chinese takeout?

Of course you do. It’s savory, sweet, universally loved, and straight up addictive.

Since the vegan days I haven’t gotten to enjoy that greasy, sticky Chinese chicken, I saw a few inspiration pictures of how to make it yourself around the internet and came up with this!

This General Tso’s Cauliflower is approved by my omnivorous husband, tastes great as leftovers, and completely cured all of my cravings. Although it still has a quite a bit of sodium from the soy sauce and some added sugar to give it that General Tso’s taste, it and has a FAR lower fat content (NO deep frying for this one) and much less salt and sugar than what actual Chinese takeout would have!

General Tso's Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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As easy vegan version of your favorite Chinese takeout

I absolutely love serving this with rice and steamed edamame to balance the powerful flavor of the cauliflower and for protein. You can buy bags of pre-shelled edamame in the frozen section of the grocery store. Just steam for five minutes, sprinkle some salt and you’re good to go!

Ingredients

  • 1 large head or 2 small heads of cauliflower
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 pounds vine ripened tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger minced (or 1tbsp pre minced ginger)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Juice of one orange (or lemon or lime, if you don’t have citrus on hand, increase the rice vinegar to 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • Optional: if you like it spicy can add 1 tsp Chinese chili garlic sauce or 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes!
  • For the batter:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/ 3cup corn starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup plant based milk

Directions

  1. Prepare the cauliflower by cutting florets into bite sized pieces and keeping the stems cut short so that it is easy to coat in batter
  2. In a large sauce pan or skillet, start the sauce. Turn the stove top to a medium heat and add the sesame oil. When the oil is warm, add the garlic, ginger, and tomato paste. Sauté until fragrant (approx 2 min)
  3. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, orange juice, water, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally while you prepare the batter (approx 20 min).
  4. Pre heat your oven or air fryer to 400 degrees. Prepare the batter in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, dry corn starch, salt, and slowly add the milk, 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is watery to submerge the cauliflower but thick enough to stick! I find that 3/4 cup is usually the right amount.
  5. Dump your cauliflower florets into the batter and cover completely. Spray a baking sheet or a flat pan in your air fryer with a high smoke point oil like avocado, grape seed, or canola oil. Don’t use a mesh basket for this, you will need a flat surface for it to cook on! Lightly spray the cauliflower once on the sheet. Cook the cauliflower in the air fryer for 7 minutes on each side, or bake for 10 minutes each side in the oven. The batter will become lightly golden brown at the end and your cauliflower will be nice and soft in the middle. Remember to keep stirring your sauce! If you’re cooking rice and edamame, now is a good time to start making those as well.
  6. Add the corn starch/water mixture to the general tso’s sauce to thicken it. Continue to stir until the cauliflower is cooked. Once the cauliflower is done, add to the general tso’s sauce, turn off the heat, and toss to coat. I had some sesame seeds on hand so I sprinkled some of them in at the end as well! Enjoy!

Let me know what you guys think! Drop a comment below if you have any other takeout suggestions you want me to try to create!

Jackfruit “Pulled Pork”

You have to try this one. Really. When I was eating meat, pulled pork was one of my favorite dishes. I was excited to read about how fantastic jackfruit was for making it, but when I tried it at restaurants or bought the jackfruit pulled pork kits at Whole Foods…I HATED IT! The problem is, barbecue is very personal to people who love barbecue. Some people prefer it smokey, some prefer it tangy, some prefer it sweet. I think a lot of the packets have too much of a vinegar punch to them. Take my advice, doing it yourself is extremely easy and can be personalized to your liking with minimal effort. Before you turn your nose up to jackfruit, just try it this way one time.

The key to making a good pulled jackfruit is making it easy for yourself to pull it! I used to try to pull it right out of the can. It works…but takes a lot of work! Boiling it first softens it quickly and makes the pulling process painless.

What type should you get? It doesn’t matter much if you get it canned or in a box, just make sure you are buying UN-ripened jackfruit. Not the bright yellow fruity kind. Lots of health food stores, asian grocery stores, and even mainstream stores have it, but you can also buy it online. My favorite brand actually comes in a box by Edward & Sons. The box says “Organic Young Jackfruit Meatless Alternative Unseasoned Pieces.” This recipe is actually adapted from the recipe on the back of the box! Thanks Edward & Sons!

Jackfruit Pulled Pork

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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A summertime favorite, incredibly easy to make, meat eater approved.


Keep in mind, jackfruit is NOT high in protein, and therefore will NOT be as filling as actual pulled pork. Plan your sides accordingly!
My favorite way to make this is to top with vegan coleslaw and avocado. I also really love putting this directly on top of a baked sweet potato for a super filling meal with really powerful flavor. It pairs great with baked or grilled asparagus as well!

Ingredients

  • 1 can or box of unripened jackfruit
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of your favorite vegan BBQ sauce
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or vinegar of choice)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: to make sweeter, 1-2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
  • optional: for added protein, I love to add 3 tbsp of hemp seeds! It adds a nice texture and pumps up the nutrition power of this meal!

Directions

  1. Take the jackfruit (drain first if canned kind) and put in a large sauce pan. Cover the jackfruit with water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  2. While the jackfruit is boiling, mince the garlic and onion.
  3. Check on the jackfruit. Take a fork and see if it can be shredded apart easily. If not easy to shred, wait another few minutes and try again. Drain the jackfruit and place on a separate plate or bowl and shred apart by using two forks.
  4. Return to saucepan to the stove, set to medium heat, and place oil in bottom of pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until fragrant, then add the garlic and jackfruit back into the pan.
  5. Add barbecue sauce, vinegar, water, salt, and pepper. Turn down to low heat and simmer until the liquid reduces. After the liquid reduces take a taste. Add barbecue sauce, water, or sugar if needed.
  6. Enjoy!

This recipe is so great because you can constantly change the sauce to give it any kind of flavor you want! Think about Mexican seasonings for pulled pork tacos, asian seasonings for bao buns, or Caribbean seasonings for “Jamaican jerk pork.” The sky is the limit!

PS: I used my leftovers to make a great meal prep for the next two days. Pulled jackfruit + roasted asparagus + vegan coleslaw = PERFECT packable work lunch.

Let me know what you think! Drop a comment if you like it, have tried it, or have any suggestions for something I should try!

Edamame Buddha Bowl

I was inspired to make this “Buddha Bowl” after coming back from my trip to Austin! It was INSANELY challenging to eat healthy and I came back craving vegetables in a way I never thought possible! After my trip I went straight into working a long shift so I needed a decent meal prep to get me through the next few work days. Out came this! My favorite part is that you can easily enjoy it hot or cold- I love being able to have it either way on these hot summer days!

This bowl was super easy to make. It’s easily customizable and doesn’t require a fancy dressing recipe (although I do make an awesome home made Thai peanut dressing from scratch, this time I just got one pre made from Sprouts). It took me about 35 minutes including final assembly.

Edamame Buddha Bowl

  • Difficulty: easy
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A fresh, light, Asian inspired recipe for an easy weekday dinner or meal prep



For this bowl, I used a Thai peanut dressing I bought from the store, feel free to just sprinkle on some soy or teriyaki sauce, or just go for a squeeze of lime!

Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 cups of shelled edamame
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 cup of chopped or shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • cilantro, lime, dressing of choice for garnishing and flavoring

Directions

  1. Begin by cooking the brown rice. In a medium saucepan, bring at least 6 cups of water to a boil and add the rice. Continue to boil for 30 minutes, then drain the water, cover, and let sit in its steam for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the rice is boiling, cook the edamame. Try to buy edamame already shelled to save time. Then you just have to boil for 5 minutes! Pop another sauce pan full of water on the stove and boil the edamame for 5 minutes. Drain the water when finished and set aside.
  3. While the rice and edamame are cooking, chop the broccoli into bite sized pieces. Then, steam the broccoli in the stove top or microwave to desired tenderness (I like to keep mine barely cooked and on the crunchy side for this specific recipe). I just took a third pan and put about a cup of water on the bottom, threw the florets on top, covered with a lid and simmered for five minutes.
  4. While the rice and broccoli are cooking, chop up the rest of the veggies. I chopped up my cucumber and used a veggie peeler for the carrots, but cut them up any way you prefer. For the red cabbage I do recommend using a food processor for shredding, but I actually just cut up about 1/4 of the head of the cabbage and plan to use the rest to make a coleslaw this weekend.
  5. Assemble the ingredients and garnish with chopped cilantro, a wedge of lime, and your favorite asian dressing (all of which are optional of course)!

I hope you enjoy! Drop a comment and let me know what you link. What are some of your favorite bowl ideas?

Easy Lemon Tahini Dressing

Lemon Tahini Dressing on my Paprika Chickpea Meal Prep

I’ve mentioned my lemon tahini a few times, I thought it might be nice if I actually posted a recipe for it! This lemon tahini dressing is so good on salads, over roasted veggies, or drizzled over almost anything! It’s so easy to make, healthy, and freezes well. What’s not to love?

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It’s used in recipes for home made hummus, baba ganoush, as well as salad dressings!

I found a super easy tahini paste recipe online, but you can also buy the paste already made in almost any grocery store. You might just need to ask for help finding it! I love making it from scratch because buying in bulk saves money and really cuts down on the plastic packaging waste in our home. Plus, it always tastes better and is super satisfying to when you’re done!

The base for the tahini paste recipe comes from inspiredtaste.net. I’ll include a summary in my lemon tahini dressing recipe below!

  • Difficulty: easy
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Feel free to skip making your own paste if you prefer store bought.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled sesame seeds
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil (or other neutral oil of choice)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 to 1 whole lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

    For the paste:
  1. If making your own paste, I highly recommend toasting the sesame seeds. To do so, take a dry sauce pan and heat on medium. Add sesame seeds and stir for about 3 minutes until fragrant and lightly colored (can burn easily so watch closely and stir frequently!)
  2. Add sesame seeds to a food processor and process until a crumbly paste forms (1min)
  3. Add oil (I used 3 tbsp like suggested in original recipe) and blend until smooth. If too thick, add another tbsp oil.
  4. The tahini paste is done! I set aside about half of the paste to freeze for other recipes. Then I used the other half for the dressing…
  5. To turn into dressing, add spices and the juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tbsp if using concentrate) to the tahini and mix! You can do it with a spoon or right in the food processor. I used this ratio of spices for a half batch of paste. If you want to turn the whole batch into dressing, just double the spice quantity and use the whole lemon (or 2 tbsp concentrate)!

Easy right? Do you have any other plant based dressings you make at home? I would love to try it! Drop a comment below!

Paprika Roasted Chickpea Meal Prep

I’m a little late on posting this…but I promised a second meal prep recipe! This was made in about 45 minutes, mainly due to how long it takes to cook brown rice. Short on time? Pick another grain that cooks quicker! Or skip the grain and add more roasted veggies!

My meal preps have to be simple, easy, healthy, and quick. This one is based on seasoned, roasted chickpeas paired with roasted broccoli and brown rice. I paired this with a home made lemon tahini dressing that I keep in the freezer, but feel free to use just a squeeze of fresh lemon instead or pour some of your favorite pre made dressing on the side.

An easy, flavorful, quick meal prep for a weekday lunch or dinner.

I used chickpeas, broccoli, and brown rice. Feel free to swap out the broccoli for another veggie or add more veggies. Brown rice can take a while to make, so if you’re short on time consider something quicker like couscous.

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 crown of broccoli
  • 1 cup of dry brown rice
  • 2 tsp paprike
  • 1 cup of dry brown rice
  • 1 cup of dry brown rice
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees while you begin the brown rice.
  2. To cook brown rice, add the rice to a large pot of water (about 6 cups of water), bring to a boil and allow to boil uncovered for about 30 minutes. Drain the rice, then return to pot and cover with lid. Allow to rest off heat for another 5-10 minutes.
  3. While the rice is coming to a boil, rinse and chop the broccoli to the size you prefer. Put the broccoli in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with about 1 tbsp of olive oil (or other preferred cooking oil). Toss to lightly and evenly coat the broccoli. Transfer to an uncreased baking sheet and sprinkle salt and pepper over broccoli. Cook in oven for 10 minutes, then flip and cook another 10 minutes for crispy broccoli.
  4. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In the same bowl you used for the broccoli, go ahead and toss the chickpeas in. Add another tablespoon of oil, then the paprika, onion, garlic, plus salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a separate baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, then stir and flip chickpeas and bake for another 5 minutes. If you overcook the chickpeas, they will turn out extremely crunchy, almost like a crouton. These can be great for snacking. For this meal, however, I like them just a little crisp. Bake longer or shorter to your desired level of crunch!
  5. When everything is done cooking, combine! Drizzle on your favorite dressing, a squeeze of lemon, or both!

Do you have any favorite meal preps or plant based dressing recipes you’d like to share? Drop a comment below, I’d love to try them!

Mexican Quinoa Meal Prep

Hey everyone! This is a super busy week for me, I am working two 13 hour shifts and one 14 hour shift (which is pretty typical), but my day off between shifts is going to be taken up my errands, packing, and cleaning and on Friday I’m off to Austin, TX!

I’m still working on convincing my husband that vegan food can be something he enjoys eating all the time, daily. He really loves simple, plain food and I love food with bold, rich flavors. Don’t get me wrong, he’s open minded, super supportive of my plant based lifestyle, and happily eats whatever I put in front of him…but along the course of my adventurous experiments, I think I accidentally convinced him that vegan food is spicy, rich, and heavy. If he could eat lunchables for the rest of his life, he would, so some of these experiments have scared him a little. This week I needed to make a big enough meal prep that would supply lunches for both of us since I’m working on brainwashing him.

The key to ANY good meal prep is simplicity. My favorite way to do it is to pick two-three veggies that go together and a grain. I often roast the veggies and cover with the same seasoning while the grain is cooking stove top. Combine and throw a wedge of lemon, lime, or pour a little vegan dressing on the side to make it interesting. The combinations are endless and the sky is the limit.

Here is one of my favorites! The base recipe is a super simple Mexican Quinoa Bowl. Sometimes during the week we turn it into a burrito or make it a super fancy bowl and add lots of ingredients. When it comes to weekday survival though, simplicity is the name of the game. This recipe is super simple. It’s designed to please the pickiest eaters, the vegan doubters, and the busiest people.

Yes, food CAN be healthy, quick, easy, compassionate, AND delicious.

Mexican Quinoa Meal Prep

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Incredibly easy, two pan dish, no chopping required (unless you want to, of course!)

This is the base recipe for a quick, easy meal prep. If you want to add more veggies like fresh diced tomatoes, red onions, and avocado, you won’t be disappointed with the extra time spent!

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: salsa, tofutti (“sour cream”), vegan cheddar, fresh lime wedge, cilantro

Directions

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a strainer. Place in a sauce pan with 2 cups of water or veggie broth for extra flavor, bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer until the water is absorbed (approx 15-20 min). Turn the heat off, leave the cover on and let it sit in its steam 5 min before taking the lid off to fluff quinoa.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, coat the bottom of a pan with 1-2 tbsp oil and put the stove top on medium heat. If you are cooking with onion, add it when the oil is hot and cook until onion is fragrant and translucent (2min). If you didn’t feel like chopping an onion, go straight to the next step.
  3. Add the corn, black beans, and spices. Sauté until veggies until the spices are fragrant and the veggies are warmed (approx 10 min)
  4. That’s it! I almost always top with salsa, cilantro, tofutti, and lime. Sometimes we get wild and wrap it in a tortilla or add avocado. Enjoy!

Let me know what you think! There are a million ways to do this recipe. Drop a comment below and let me know your favorite version!

Tofu, tricks, tips, and dispelling soy myths

Before I dive into cooking…

You might be thinking: that’s great that you can make crisp tofu but, should we even be eating soy??

When I began my plant based journey, I was avoiding soy at all costs because I had heard that soy has estrogen-like effects in the body which theoretically increases the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. It was unfortunate because soy is used in a lot of meat alternatives and is an excellent source of plant based protein. I was getting frustrated by not being able to use soy in my cooking so I began to do some deeper research on how safe is soy, really? I found really mixed answers from my google searches, so I settled on having extremely limited amounts of soy in my diet.

Recently, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with my husband’s aunt who is a professor of nutrition at a major university. She’s brilliant and sincere, and I really trust her opinions. I asked her what her thoughts on soy were and she directed me to a website called NutritionFacts.org and a book by Michael Greger, M.D. called How Not to Die. I love this website and book because I work in health care and am not easily fooled by doctors on TV disguising product advertisements in fake science. I believe in using evidence-based practice when I take care of my patients, so I need some damn good evidence when making decisions for my own health and wellness. Dr. Greger turned out to be an excellent resource.

It turns out that I was given incorrect information all along! I’m not going to explain the science because Dr Greger does an excellent job speaking in plain terms, but here’s the breakdown: Soy does NOT cause cancer, may IMPROVE survival for women who have breast cancer, and also has the benefit of increasing bone density! If you want to know more, I encourage you to watch his videos, read the transcripts, and check out his sources yourself. This is an excellent video to start with.

*And no, this is NOT an advertisement and I did NOT receive compensation for saying this*

Okay so soy is back…now what?

Now that we have welcomed soy back into our kitchen, what do we do with it? When I tried to make tofu in the past, I was never able to firm it up and always found the inside extremely bland and mushy…yuck. That’s because tofu has a super high water content. You need to squeeze it out!

For tofu going in a stir fry, on the grill, or really any time that you want it firm or crispy, here’s what you do:

Tofu-Towel “Sandwich”
  1. Start with purchasing the firmest tofu you can find. Extra firm is pretty much always what I buy. Open the package and drain the water.
  2. Make a tofu-towel “sandwich” like the one pictured above:
    • Take two plates and two dish towels, fold each towel into small rectangles (I fold mine in half about 3x). Put the first towel on top of one plate, then the tofu, then cover it with the second towel and the other plate. Squeeze the plates toward each other to get the liquid out:
    • A new tip I just learned was that right after purchasing, you can drain the tofu package freeze the tofu for a firmer, chewier texture. I still recommend squeezing out some liquid first with my sandwich method.
  3. If you’re like me and rarely plan your meals more than a few hours in advance, here’s your plan B. Take your tofu-towel sandwich, stack something heavy on top and let it sit for at least two hours for ideal moisture drainage. Put the “sandwich” back in the fridge while the tofu drains. Don’t ask me why, but the cold seems to really aid in keeping it firm! (Still didn’t plan far enough ahead? Yeah…I usually don’t either. Just do the same process and pop it in the fridge as long as you can while you measure your spices, chop your veggies, and prep your other steps).
  4. After the block is drained, cut it up into the size and shape desired for your recipe. If you want the tofu crisp and crunchy, I really like how it comes out by tossing in corn starch. Feel free to add seasoning to the corn starch as the first layer of flavor. I have also subbed the corn starch for flour in the past and it still works.
  5. Bake at a high heat to ensure crisping. If you have a convection oven, this is a good time to use that setting. This is also a great time to use that air fryer if you have one! Preheat your oven or air fryer to 400 degrees. Spray a flat baking tray with a light coating of cooking spray that can tolerate a high smoke point (canola, avocado, grape seed oils all work). Place the tofu on the tray, give it another light coat of spray to get the top of the tofu.
  6. The main difference between the air fryer, convection oven, and regular oven is cooking time. In the air fryer I need only 5 minutes per side. In the regular oven I generally leave it in for 10 minutes, check on the tofu, flip, and leave it in for another 7-10 minutes. The tofu will be a light golden color when it’s done. If the color is lighter than you expect, just touch it with a fork to make sure it’s crisp and firm. The color will deepen a little after you take it out of the oven as it cools.

That’s it!

Do you have any other tofu tips you want to share? Drop a comment below, I would love to try them!