Chinese Chick’n Salad: A Flavor Explosion

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Sometimes you get a very serious craving and nothing else can get done until it’s satisfied. That happened to me with this Chinese Chick’n salad. Whether you chose to use faux chicken, some sesame baked tofu, or no protein at all, the salad itself also shines bright all on its own. I just love Gardein crispy tenders. They are like crack. Trader Joe’s makes a version of them as well. What can I say, I’m a sucker for vegan junk food.

I swapped out the traditional romaine for lacinato kale to give it some richer color and a formidable CRUNCH! The great thing about this salad as well, is that it holds up in the fridge, even if it’s already been dressed. This makes it a great leftovers-for-lunch-the-next-day meal. It’s also quick to throw together. And since we already have the faux chicken strips, this salad needed some healthy upgrades to off-set the greasy breaded tenders. This updated version of the salad gets a lot of added pizazz with a generous amount of fresh herbs. Gone are the canned syrup-soaked mandarin oranges and deep fried wonton strips. In their place we have fresh tangerine segments and crushed peanuts. Spicy, cool, nutty, crunchy, tangy, sweet, and refreshing, try the flavor explosion for yourself!

Chinese Chick’n Salad: A Flavor Explosion

Makes about 4 servings

1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded

10 leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and finely shredded

1 cup shredded carrots

1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and leaves chopped (about 12 sprigs)

1 bunch mint, stems removed and leaves chopped (about 12 sprigs)

1/2 bell, finely chopped

1/2 cup peanuts, crushed

12 gardein crispy tenders, or protein of your choice

1-2 tangerines, peeled and sectioned

Chinese Chick’n Salad Dressing:

1/3 cup rice vinegar

2.5 tbs peanut butter

2 tsp hot sesame oil

2.5 tb agave

1 tb coconut oil

Cook the Gardein strips according to the package. I put mine on a foil lined pan in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste it and adjust any flavors as needed. Pour the sauce over the salad and toss really well. The salad will shrink a bit in size as you toss so don’t worry if it seems like a huge amount of veggies when you start!

Once cooked, slice up the chicken strips.

To serve, put a big heap of salad on each plate. Top with chicken strips and tangerine segments. Sprinkle the crushed peanuts on top. DIG IN!

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Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Hummus

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With the full wrath of summer upon us, I’m trying to eat as many cooling raw veggies as possible. But what to dip them in? Something light, healthy, and full of protein? Something delicious? I have just the ticket. I’m not too crazy for your run of the mill store bought hummus, it tends to be really high in calories for the tiniest bit, and made with things like canola oil. Even the better ones out there have some protein, but not a great amount. So I went about making this recipe that is light and delicious, with no added oil, and a lot more protein! Lentils are a great improvement on chickpeas in my opinion, more nutrient dense and less mealy. Lentils are also packed with folate- 1 cooked cup provides 90% of the required amount- and they are high in protein, potassium, fiber, and iron. So go ahead and cut up some carrots and broccoli, and feel free to snack to your heart’s content!

Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Hummus

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups broth or water
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
2 red jalapeños
1/3 cup tahini
6 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
Garnish: Sriracha, a spoonful of pine nuts, and a pinch of paprika

Bring the lentils and water to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until soft. It’s ok to over cook them a bit since they will be blended anyway. I used about 1.5 cups of the cooked lentils for the hummus, so you might have a bit leftover.
Turn the broiler on in the oven and lay all the peppers on a foil lined pan. Broil the peppers until blackened on all sides, turning with tongs every few minutes to get all the sides. Once blackened, removed the peppers and place in a colander until cool enough to touch. Remove the blackened skins, stems and seeds. Add cooked lentils, peppers, and all remaining ingredients to a blender (except garnishes) and blend until smooth. Taste to see if you need to adjust the flavor. Top with a swirl of sriracha, pine nuts, and paprika, and serve with cut veggies and/or crackers.

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Scrumptious Lentil Loaf

lentilloaf3Mmmm…. Loaf. Ok, so the word ‘loaf’ is not the most delicious sounding thing in the world, BUT if you are craving traditional meatloaf, this plant-based version will definitely hit the spot! The flavor and the glaze particularly are a home run in the nostalgia department. A quick note on the EnerG egg replacements: this stuff is a really great staple to have around. It’s a very inexpensive blend of basically baking soda and tapioca flour. It’s just a baking mix that you add a little water too, and voila, stuff holds together. Follow the directions on the box for how to make an ‘egg’. You could also use a flax or chia ‘egg’ if you like. Two slices of this Lentil Loaf will provide you with about 200 calories, 10 grams of protein, and 20% of your daily recommendation for iron, plus a healthy dose of Lycopene!  Serve this with some mashed potatoes and roasted carrots for a dinner straight out of 1950’s American suburbia. Grandma would approve.

Scrumptious Lentil Loaf

Makes about 12 slices

2.25 cups water

1/2 vegetable bullion cube

2 +1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

10 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red bell, minced

2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

1/2 large carrot, grated

3 packed tbs chopped fresh parsley

1 cup dry red split lentils

3 tbs tomato paste

A big pinch thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper

A smaller pinch of cumin

1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats

2 EnerG egg replacers

Glaze:

1 tbs tomato paste

2 tbs brown sugar

2 tsp mustard

3/4 cup ketchup

In a medium pot, boil the 2.25 cups of water and the 1/2 bullion cube over hight heat. Use a spoon to breakdown and dissolve the cube. (Or you can just use 2.25 cups of vegetable stock, I just found that the vegetable bullion had a meatloaf-ier flavor)

Preheat oven to 400.

Once the water is boiling, add the dry lentils, reduce heat to low, and cover. Do not over-cook the lentils, they will turn to liquid mush! The directions on my package said 12 minutes, but check them at about 9 minutes. You don’t want them to have any crunch left, but you don’t want mush. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 2 tbs of the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan.

Add 1/2 of the chopped red onion, the garlic, the bell pepper,  1 cup of the chopped mushrooms, and the grated carrot to the pan.

Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and spices and heat another minute or until all the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, or right in the pan if it’s big enough, combine the sautéed veggie mixture with the tomato paste, oats, egg replacers, remaining 1/2 of the chopped onion, remaining 1 cup of chopped mushrooms, and lentils. Stir everything until evenly combined. Give it a taste to see if it needs any seasoning adjustment.

Take a medium baking sheet and grease it with remaining tbs of olive oil. (You can also use a loaf pan.) Scoop all of the loaf mixture and mold it into a loaf shape on the pan. You can make it kind of tall, because it will settle down as it bakes.

In a small bowl, combine the 1 tbs tomato paste, brown sugar, mustard, and ketchup, and stir well. Pour this over the top of the loaf, coating the loaf evenly, and especially piling it high on top, so it can drip all around.

Pop your loaf in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. When you take it out, let it rest for about 8 minutes before slicing.

This was particularly good the next day, as it was easier to slice after being refrigerated overnight. Put a slice on a crusty roll and toast it in the toaster oven for a seriously yummy meatloaf sandwich.lentilloaf1