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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Rainbow Crunch Asian Slaw

rainbow crunch raw slaw

As the weather heats up, I always start to crave raw food. Something light, crunchy, and flavorful that comes together easily without bustling around in a hot kitchen. This slaw has it all, protein, fiber, anti-oxidants, sweet and spicy flavors, and a nice big crunch. It’s also mayo-free so it’s less fattening and can survive a cook out a bit longer than most cole slaws. It’s great to make ahead of time and have ready for lunch everyday, or bring it to your next barbecue to add some color to the table.

Rainbow Crunch Asian Slaw

Makes 8 servings

2 cups purple cabbage, shredded

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup shelled edamame (optional)

1 bunch chives, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 serrano pepper, minced

1 fresh organic ear of corn, shucked and cut off the cob

Dressing:

1/2 cup white rice vinegar

1/4 cup raw agave

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbs chili sesame oil

2 tbs soy sauce or nama shoyu or coconut aminos

1 tsp sesame seeds

optional: add some crushed peanuts on top

Note: A mandolin helps shred the cabbage and carrots in seconds. Combine all the slaw ingredients in one big mixing bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Then mix them together to thoroughly coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

This goes well with a big teriyaki grilled tofu steak! You can also use the dressing ingredients for any asian salad or even as a marinade!

French Lentil, Arugula, and Avocado Salad with Pecan Pesto

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It’s Earth Day tomorrow! Well, really everyday is Earth Day am I right? Eh? But tomorrow’s the official one. My friends and I did a beach clean up this weekend, and tomorrow, I’m going to plant some herbs and vegetables in the yard. One of the easiest ways you can honor Earth Day is to try a plant-based diet, even if it’s just for the day.(Actually did you know that it’a also Earth Month? Just throwing that out there!)  Especially if you are in the drought-stricken state of California like me, it’s so important for us all to actively find solutions and make little sacrifices to better our environment. A salad is the perfect place to start.

To be honest, I stole this salad recipe from the Le Pain Quotidien menu, because I really loved the combination of ingredients, but I can make it at home for a whole lot less money. The thing I like about this salad is that it contains a couple things that I’m not generally fond of (radishes, fennel, yuck) but somehow when it’s all mixed together the flavors are fantastic! This salad has more than 12 different vegetables and herbs, so it’s a nutrient powerhouse. Plus the lentils contribute tons of protein, fiber, and iron.

I used a mandolin to slice the radishes, fennel, and cucumber into paper thin shavings, and I’d like to take a moment to remind you that cooking is dangerous! There’s fire, sharp objects, scalding oil– you have to be very careful. Or else, you end up like me and slice your finger open on the mandolin and have to prepare the rest of your meal with one hand. And type with one hand. And where a rubber glove to wash your hair. So yeah, don’t cut your fingers open like I do, it hurts a lot.

French Lentil, Arugula, and Avocado Salad

Makes 2 entree salads or 4 small salads

4 cups arugula

6 grape tomatoes, diced

4 tbs finely diced red bell pepper

3 green onions, sliced

1 sprig dill, finely chopped

1/3 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced

1 radish, thinly sliced

1/3 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated with a fine cheese grater

1 cup cooked French green lentils

1 avocado, sliced

Pecan Pesto Dressing:

1/3 cup raw pecans

1/2 cup first cold pressed olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

5 cloves garlic

a generous sprinkling of salt

1 bunch basil leaves

Combine all salad ingredients in a big bowl. Put all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I sometimes replace half the oil with water, just to make it a little lighter, but the oil tastes richer, naturally. Poor the dressing on and toss. This would also be great with some toasted sunflower seeds on top. Happy Earth Day!

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B.L.A.T. Salad

B.L.A.T. Salad

Behold, a truly awesome, delicious salad! I have taken the last month off from blogging, both for the holidays and to just relax my mind a bit, but I knew when I made this that it would be the perfect recipe to kick off the new year! The flavor dynamics of a B.L.T. are pretty flawless. I think we can all agree on that. But if you are trying to live a healthier life and tackle some resolutions, whether it be low cholesterol, paleo, vegan, high raw, or low calorie, that traditional sandwich is not going to do you any favors. But it tastes so good! That’s where this salad comes in. All the amazing flavor, none of the meat sweats. Plus I’m sure you will find plenty of other uses for the delicious portobello bacon.

I always like to make about 10 resolutions every year, that way if even 3 of them stick, I’ll have made a lot more progress than if I had just made 1 resolution. 2014 was hands down the best and busiest year of my whole life, so I think my resolution strategy worked pretty well. Last year I traveled a lot (Nicaragua, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, North Carolina, New York) I volunteered at the farm sanctuary and fostered and re-homed a bunch of stray kittens. I explored my city like never before, and worked out more that 2012 and 2013 combined!

This year I have intentions to build on last year: I want to work out even more, (more yoga and hiking!) I hope to learn a couple musical instruments. I want to travel and see more live music. I want to donate all my unnecessary stuff and feel more organized. I want to be kinder and more patient with loved ones and strangers. I want to save money and grow some plants. I want to tackle what I call: Laundry Mountain (a project that I hope to accomplish by 2017 haha) And as always, I want to make and share as much vibrant, cruelty-free, delicious food as possible! Those are just a few of the top items on my list. So far, so good! What are your intentions for the year? I hope you had some great holiday family time, and are starting 2015 with a bang!

B.L.A.T. Salad

makes 2 servings

2 portobello mushroom caps

2 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or first cold pressed olive oil or

1.5 tbs coconut sugar (or brown sugar, or 2 tbs maple syrup)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbs mesquite salt (or bacon salt, yes it’s vegan!)

a tiny pinch of garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika (for color)

1 head of romaine

2 roma tomatoes

1 avocado

2 tbs thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup pesto

more black pepper

Scrape out most of the gills from the mushrooms, it’s ok to leave a bit of the darker stuff behind, it even makes it look more bacon-like when it’s cooked, just scrape away 3/4 of gills. Remove stems and cut into very thin (1/4″-1/8″) slices, like bacon.

Spread the sliced mushrooms out in a big shallow bowl and drizzle evenly with the oil, then sprinkle on the sugar and spices. Use your hands to gently rub the marinade in there. You will see the paprika turn the mushrooms into a deep rich red. If you taste it, it should be overwhelmingly salty and smoky and sweet (the flavors dull a bit when cooking so you really want to coat these slices in a greasy spice crust.)

For raw ‘bacon’: set your dehydrator to 115 degrees and lay them on a dehydrator rack, dehydrate about 8 hours.

For baked ‘bacon’ (bakon?): preheat your oven for 350 degrees and lay the mushrooms on a lightly greased pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once. It’s ok if the get a tiny bit burnt around the edges, it really contributes to the authentic flavor. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, as this helps it set and get a bit crunchier.

Meanwhile, finely shred your romaine lettuce.

Dice the tomatoes and avocados and combine with the lettuce and sliced onions. Then drizzle with some pesto.

Chop the bacon and sprinkle it on top. Sprinkle some more pepper on top and serve immediately. Tossing is recommended, but it looks prettier right before you toss it. 🙂

Option: for a different dressing idea: combine 4 tbs of maple syrup, 4 tbs mustard, 2 tbs of vegan mayo (like Just Mayo or Veganaise) and 1 tbs apple cider vinegar. Or dare I say, use BOTH of these dressings together. Throw on some croutons for a truly authentic and deconstructed B.L.A.T.

Dig in!

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Winter Bliss Bowl

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Winter is coming. Brace yourselves!

Just kidding, it’s still 80 degrees here. But still, the holidays are coming. One of the reasons people tend to get the flu and gain weight around this time of year is that they turn to hot comfort foods as the weather cools. Not to mention the marathon of holiday feasts we lovingly prepare for eachother. This increase in warm bowls of steamy goodness correlates to a direct decrease in fresh, raw, nutrient-dense fruits and veggie consumption. While it’s natural and beneficial to adjust your food choices with the seasons, things can get out of hand- we’ve all been there!

This winter bliss bowl is just the thing to get you the cold-fighting nutrients your immune system craves, while filling that void in your soul that demands potatoes and biscuits and gravy. It comes together in less than 30 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or a Thanksgiving side dish.  One serving is about 500 hearty calories, 12 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber.

Winter Bliss Bowl

makes 2 servings

1 small yam, chopped into little 1/4″ chunks

1 tbs olive oil

a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and cinnamon (tiny pinch)

4 big kale leaves, stemmed and julienned (about 3 cups)

2 dates, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup cooked tricolor quinoa

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 green onions, thinly sliced

4 tbs balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the chopped yam, 1 tbs olive oil and spices on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside to cool while you chop everything else.

Combine the kale, dates, garlic, quinoa, pine nuts, and green onions, and baked yam in a big bowl and toss well. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss one more time.

For another cozy but healthy salad, try the Harvest Bliss Bowl!

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Sweet and Spicy Curry Sauce

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Wow my 50th recipe! This is a pretty simple one, but oh so versatile. Unlike my Authentic Thai Curry Paste  recipe, which is meant as a cooking base, this recipe is great raw on salads or as a vegetable dip. It’s especially delicious with shredded carrots for a curry carrot slaw!

 

Sweet n’ Spicy Curry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or at least a few hours

juice of 1 big lime

2 pitted dates, or 1 tbs maple syrup

4 cloves garlic

1 tbs curry powder

tsp turmeric

1 tsp chili pepper flakes

1 heaping tbs coconut oil

1/3 cup fresh raw coconut water (or just water)

a big pinch of salt

Put everything except the coconut water into a food processor and get it blending. Once everything is more or less broken down and incorporated, slowly start adding the coconut water, a little at a time. Blend until smooth and creamy.

 

 

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Carrot Curry Slaw

makes 1 serving

1/2 cup Sweet n’ Spicy Curry Sauce

2 tbs tahini

1 cup shredded carrots

two green onions, thinly sliced

1 date, finely chopped

A pinch of lime zest

Mix the sauce and tahini together, then toss it with the shredded carrots, dates, and chopped green onions. If you have them on hand, try adding some golden raisins and chopped peanuts.

But wait, there’s more!

This sauce makes the perfect dressing for a kale and avocado salad. Just add some cucumber, and bell pepper for a delicious combo. I topped it with some crunchy sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and lime zest. Yum!!

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Tropical Bliss Bowl

Tropical Bliss Bowl

This is a spin off of the avocado mango salad that you can typically find at Thai or sometimes Japanese restaurants. This flavorful version offers a tropical twist with coconut quinoa and a vanilla champagne vinaigrette. I know vanilla sounds a little crazy, but give it a try, and tell me what you think!

Tropical Bliss Bowl

Makes one large serving

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

dash of salt

1/2 vanilla bean pod (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

4 tbs champagne vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1 tbs first cold pressed olive oil

2 tsp agave nectar

1/2 mango, thinly sliced

1 avocado, thinly sliced

2 cups shredded kale (I used Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch)

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tbs cucumber, cut into matchsticks

1 tsp raw sesame seeds

Toss the coconut oil with the warm cooked quinoa and a sprinkle of salt and put this at the bottom of your salad bowl. Next, in a small bowl, scrape out the tiny black seeds from half of a vanilla bean pod. Mix in the champagne vinegar, olive oil, and agave nectar. Taste it and adjust if necessary. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded kale, green onions, and cucumber, and toss with the dressing. Then lay this mixture on top of your quinoa. Finally, lay your slices of mango and avocado on top of the salad mixture in an alternating pattern. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. For a lighter salad, you can use butter lettuce instead of kale, and for a Caribbean spin, try adding some cooked black beans. I had a difficult mango so it’s not exactly the prettiest thing in the world, but I promise this flavor combo won’t let you down!

Rainbow Bliss Bowl

Rainbow Bliss Bowl

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, a great day to taste the rainbow! This salad is fun to make, beautiful to look at, chalk full of healthy nutrients, and magically delicious. You can play with your food like me and make it into a rainbow as shown here, or you can just serve it as a traditional bliss bowl, with quinoa at the bottom and veggies tossed with the dressing on top. It’s pretty uncanny how much the maple-mustard dressing resembles a pot of gold isn’t it? I made the fluffy quinoa clouds by just piling up little tablespoons of cooked quinoa, but you could also make this dish completely raw and use cauliflower florets for clouds.

Rainbow Bliss Bowl

Serves 2 

1 cup of cooked quinoa (or raw cauliflower florets)

10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 small avocado, sliced thinly

2 tbs roughly chopped cilantro

2tbs roughly chopped parsley

1/2 cup purple kale, sliced thinly

1/2 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced

3 Tbs maple syrup

3 tbs stone ground mustard

Start by scooping little spoonfuls of your quinoa into a pile to form the clouds, then arrange your veggies in neat rows across the plate. In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup and mustard to make the dressing. After marveling at your lovely creation, pour the dressing evenly over the veggies and dig in. Enjoy with a big mug of green beer. Cheers!

Pot of Gold

Harvest Bliss Bowl

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A good salad is a work of art. While I love a big green salad with every color of the raw rainbow, there is no reason why a salad can’t also be a rich and decadent comfort food, making you feel full and cozy on a cold day. The Harvest Bliss Bowl is just such a salad. With an array of textures and flavors, this sweet and savory bowl is like being wrapped in a warm blanket of yum.

Plus, I have a bonus tip for you about the beloved vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which we all know leads to stronger bones. It also helps prevent cancer, improves your immune system, and prevents aging. If you are eating a well rounded whole foods plant based diet, you are already on your way to having much stronger bones that your dairy drinking friends. Crazy you say? Actually the newest research on dairy has shown that it creates an acidic environment in the body. Your body does not want to be acidic, so it draws calcium OUT of your bones to neutralize the acidity. This is why osteoporosis is so much higher in regions around the world that depend heavily on dairy, like the UK and North America; whereas in places where they do not consume dairy, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Think about who is telling you that milk ‘does a body good’, the company selling you milk? The government approved food pyramid created by representatives with ties to the dairy industry? Sorry to burst your yogurt bubble guys, but dairy is making swiss cheese out of your femurs.

Feel free to google it on your own. Here’s a  start.

Now back to that bonus tip I started to tell you about! We know that your body can create it’s own vitamin D just by getting a little sunshine, but guess what else does that? Mushrooms! If you leave 100 grams of fresh mushrooms out in a sunny spot, gills up, for 8 hours, they will increase there vitamin D content from 40 IU to 46ooo IU!!! Do you know what the average daily recommendation is? Only 800 IU a day! All the vitamin D you could ever ask for, just waiting to be activated in that cute little mushroom cap. This also means that leaving them out in the sun for even 10 minutes will give them a boost. And on top of that, mushrooms create an alkaline environment in your body, so not only do they not throw your PH off balance, they actually make it better!

I like to make all the parts of this salad ahead of time, then assembly is only a two minute process. This is great even if everything is served cold!

Harvest Bliss Bowl

Makes about 4 servings

for the quinoa:

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup rinsed quinoa

Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, cook for approx. 15 minutes. Fluff and set aside or refrigerate.

for the roasted veggies:

2 portobello mushroom caps (vitamin D turbo-charged preferred) cut into 1/2 inch cubes

8 ounces butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

8 cloves garlic, cut in half

1/2 sweet vidalia onion, roughly quartered

3 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp each of crushed dried rosemary, dried thyme, black pepper, dried oregano (or just a couple tsp of italian seasoning)

salt to taste

For the garlic croutons:

3 slices crusty bread, chopped into small cubes

1 tbs olive oil

a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder

for the roasted pecans:

1/2 cup raw pecans

2 tbs maple syrup,

salt to taste

1 tsp black pepper

Everything else:

3 cups of rocket arugula

2 tbs first cold pressed olive oil

a little squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1 tbs balsamic vinegar reduction per portion, for drizzling (directions for reducing balsamic here.)

Assuming that you have already made your quinoa and it is waiting for you in the fridge, preheat the oven to 400. Toss all the roasting vegetables in a big bowl with the herbs, salt, and olive oil until evenly coated. Lay them out on a foil lined pan. The more you space them apart, the more they will caramelize, the more you cram them together, the more they will steam. I was in a hurry so I crammed, and they still came out great. Put the veggies in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, giving them a good stir every 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temp to 375. In a small bowl toss all of the crouton ingredients until they are well coated. In a separate bowl, toss all your pecan ingredients until well coated. These can go in the oven together on separate sides of a big foil lined roasting pan to save you time. Check on them about every 3 minutes and give them a toss. Both of these items toast up fast and burn easily, so I just commit to standing there watching and tossing until they are perfect, about 8 minutes.

Finally, in another bowl, toss the arugula and oil and lemon juice until well coated.

To assemble, scoop a big pile of quinoa into the bottom of your salad bowl. Top with the arugula, and then scatter the roasted vegetables, pecans, and croutons on top. Drizzle with balsamic reduction or eat as is. Cozy and delicious!

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Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl

Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl

Do you like alliteration? Oh good, you do! Great, because just when you thought the title of this post couldn’t get any longer, I thought I’d share that the full description of this dish is the Sunny Curry Cruciferous Crunch Bliss Bowl, with Coconut Quinoa. And it’s C-C-Crazy good! I found a new salad mix at Trader Joe’s that I got probably way too excited about-  the Cruciferous Crunch mix. I was actually feeling silly for how pleased I was, but then the cashier at the register was like, ‘How exciting is this new salad mix?!’, and proceeded to tell me 3 different recipes he’s used it in so far, unsolicited. So at least I’m not completely alone in my enthusiasm. Thanks cashier guy. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, that’s fine, below I’ll tell you how to recreate it. The main thing I got excited about was the 20 minutes of chopping it saves me from. When you eat as much salad as I do, chopping is a big part of your life. This salad dressing is like a sweet and tangy cole slaw dressing, and the slaw part of this bowl itself would also be great in a raw wrap or in a pita.

Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl

Serves 2

1 cup quinoa, cooked

2 tbs coconut oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon curry

1.5 cups of Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch Mix

or

2 brussel sprouts, finely shredded

1/2 cup kale, finely shredded

1/4 cup red cabbage finely shredded

1/4 cup green cabbage finely shredded

about 6 matchstick-size slices each of yellow and orange bell pepper

a sprinkle of raw sesame seeds

1 tbs hemp hearts (don’t leave home without ’em)

Gently heat the quinoa and coconut oil, either in the microwave or on the stove, just enough to melt the oil and warm it through. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir it up to evenly coat the quinoa with the oil. (I say gently because I think it’s wierd to have a piping hot ingredient under a purposefully cool/raw ingredient, but I do like it a little warm) Put this in the bottom of your salad bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the tahini, vinegar, agave, and curry until well combined. then throw in all your shredded cruciferous veggies and toss to coat thoroughly. Put this on top of your quinoa.

Add the bell peppers and seeds, and voila! Curry coconut bliss.