Tofu Rice Bowls

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Everyone is familiar with memes, I’m sure. One of my favorite memes pertains to a tofu one that reads: “How to prepare tofu: Step one: Throw it in the trash. Step two: Grill some meat.” I loved that meme when I first saw it many years ago because I agreed, nothing could be better than a fresh grilled steak. Although tofu doesn’t have much flavor to it, I never disliked. Could just be a texture thing as to why some people dislike this protein. Meal prep has become popular among many Americans looking to live a healthier lifestyle and help in a grab and go for work lunch or a quick dinner. With the addition of Asian flavors in this recipe, it’s a meal you’ll want to prep often. First I want to give you a little bit of a background on why I’m working with Tofu.

Since July, I have made the decision to slowly decrease my consumption of meat. I’m not a vegan, nor am I a vegetarian but a Pescatarian. Food has been such a huge role in my life, I mean I went to Culinary school for Pete’s sake! Did I mention I’m also married to a Chef? So yeah, avoiding meat is by no means easy for me. I have a few reasons why I’ve made the decision to not eat (Processed) meat but the number one reason is health. I want to diminish my chances of heart disease, I want to lose weight and avoid any and all cancers, many of which are formed due to meat & dairy consumption. Trust me, I’ve done a lot of reading on this before I made the choice to switch my diet. I still continue to eat eggs (in a small amount), I drink Almond Milk over Milk (however if I am stuck drinking milk, it’s going to be whole milk) & maybe once a week I’ll sneak in a bite of pork or chicken off my husbands plate.

With the cutback on meat protein, I hadn’t noticed any bodily changes until recently. Pros: My energy levels are the same, If anything I have a little more energy.

I find my thoughts & memory have increased a bit.

I don’t feel like a pile of shit after I eat a meal. I’m happily satisfied. I’m able to eat less and get full faster. I’ve discovered that eating small healthy snacks (granola bar, nuts, fresh fruit & vegetables) through out the day helps keep me full so I’m not overeating later.

My clothes have definitely become baggy on my body. So something is working!

Cons:ย ย My digestion is getting used to the new protein intake finally, so I’ve been very gassy and bloated for a couple of weeks.

My taste buds seem to be a little off (might be lacking zinc) luckily that’s an easy fix with supplements.

Depending on where I’m eating, my choices can be very limited. Good thing I don’t do fast food!

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that what I’m doing with not eating meat isn’t healthy and that I’m not getting the correct proteins and vitamins needed to stay healthy. I’m sorry to break it to ya’ll but yes I am! The meat you eat has the protein you need because of what it eats (plants!). The only difference is my food doesn’t have crazy hormones injected into it, and is not only good for Humans but for the planet too. I am aware that a plant based diet may decrease the risk of cancer & disease, I know nothing is certain it will work.ย So I ask everyone that thinks I’m crazy and wrong for doing what I’m doing to take the time to do the research on the food you eat vs what I’m eating now and then tell me how my diet is gross.ย With all this said, any posts I put up from now on will be focused more on plant protein based meals. I would love to work on avoiding processed foods next, but one step at a time!

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Mise En Place:

  • 1 Cup Brown Rice
  • 1 Piece Fresh Ginger, sliced
  • 1 Pack Firm Tofu
  • 1/2 Cucumber, sliced 1″ cuts then cut in half
  • 1 Carrot, peeled then julienne
  • 2 Radish’s, sliced thin
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, julienne thin
  • 1 Scallion, sliced thin
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 1 Garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 Eggs
  • S&P, TT
  • 2 T Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 T Oyster Sauce
  • 1 T Sesame Oil
  • 1 T Rice Vinegar
  • 2 T Sambal
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 3 T Butter
  • Canola Oil

Method of Prep:

  • Cook Rice according to directions on the bag. Add fresh ginger into pot as it cooks. Once rice is finished, spread on a sheet tray and place in the refrigerator to cool (I find this prevents overcooking).
  • Mix together in a bowl, sauces for the tofu Marinade: fish sauce, soy, oyster sauce, sambal, brown sugar. Slice tofu to preferred cuts, I chose thick matchstick shapes. Add marinade to tofu and let sit for 30 minutes before cooking.
  • In a bowl add cucumber, carrot, radish and onion. Mix together with rice vinegar and sesame oil. Season with S&P, TT, set aside.
  • Saute spinach in a little bit of oil & garlic, set aside.
  • Over medium heat, add a small amount of oil to a pan and begin cooking Tofu. About 4 minutes on all sides until lightly browned. Save the leftover marinade in bowl to be used as a sauce.
  • Once all the tofu is cooked, using the same pan, add reserved Tofu marinade. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside. Using the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and scramble the eggs.

How to Assemble:

  • First add rice, next eggs, then tofu. Pour a little bit of marinade over entire bowl. Garnish with pickled vegetables and sliced scallion.
  • Enjoy!

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Lentil Bobotie

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I have no idea what I just made. My house smells fantastic and this dish tastes excellent, good enough for me. I had a bag of lentils I was looking to get rid of so I hopped on the internet to do some recipe searching. I don’t cook with lentils often which is a shame because I love them. I came across the original version for Bobotie which is actually a meat dish from South Africa. This recipe is most commonly made with beef and lamb. I have ground beef but was looking to do something with lentils so I decided to make this a vegetarian dish and replace the meat with green lentils. This recipe is so yummy that I kinda want to go back and make it the real way and see the difference. If you decide to go with the meat version of this recipe, just substitute the lentils for 1 pound of ground beef.

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This recipe also has a curry fare to it which makes it all the more wonderful. I think that’s why I enjoy this recipe so much. It’s very versatile and you can incorporate so many alternatives into the recipe to suit your taste or diet. (I don’t understand the mushy bread or egg topping relation to this recipe but I did it anyways.) I happened to have some cornmeal cake batter leftover from yesterdays lunch that I made areapas with. I cooked off a few more (this time plain, no cheese or eggs) and placed a spoonful of the lentil mix on top…it was awesome.

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Active Time: 20 MInutes

Total Time: 50 Minutes

MIse en Place:

-1 Cup Uncooked Lentils (I used green)

-3 Slices Bread, crusts removed

-1/2 Cup Soy MIlk

-1 Onion, small dice

-2 Garlic cloves, minced

-3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

-3 Teaspoons Yellow Curry Powder

-1 Teaspoon Turmeric

-1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander

-1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

-3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

-4 Tablespoons Chutney (See end note)

-1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

-4 Tablespoons Raisins (Golden work fine)

-1/4 Cup Slivered Almonds

-S&P, TT

Bobotie Topping:

-1 Egg

-1/2 Cup Soy Milk

Other Tools:

-Frying pan

-Sauce Pot

-Baking dish

Method of Prep:

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease baking dish.

-Place lentils in a pot with enough water to cover them. Add a pinch of salt and boil the lentils until they are soft. Be careful not to overcook them, they will become mushy. Once cooked, drain and rinse lentils and place in a large bowl.

-While lentils are cooking, soak the bread slices in milk. Mash it up with your hands or fork.

-Saute the chopped onions and garlic in the oil until they are soft. Add in curry powder, turmeric, ground coriander and ground cumin. Cook for about one minute over medium heat, stirring constantly.

-Add the remaining ingredients, the vinegar, chutney, Worcestershire, almonds, raisins salt and pepper. Stir them together until warmed through no more than 2 minutes.

-Add the mashed bread and curry mixture to the lentils and stir everything until it is well mixed.

-Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

-Make the topping by beating the egg and milk together. Pour over Bobotie mix.

-Place dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Make certain the egg and milk mixture has set and it looks great with a few golden tinges here and there.

Enjoy!

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***Notes: I used the chutney that I had made a while back which worked great. You can also find chutneys at international markets or in the international cooking isle of the grocery stores. I also find that pine nuts work great instead of almonds in this recipe. If your GF you can omit the soggy bread or just substitute a GF bread! If vegan You can go without the topping. This dish is still fantastic without a top!

Serving Suggestions:

This dish is great on its own, however I really enjoyed it with areapas (Venezuelan corn meal cakes). Traditionally when I made arepas I add cheese, jalapenos, scrambled eggs, and black beans with them. I just wanted something to serve with the Bobotie andย  plain cornmeal cakes worked great!

Apple & Sweet Potato Hash

 

Apples and sweet potatoes, you really can’t go wrong with either of them. When you put the two together its a pleasing and tasteful alliance made in heaven. I took two popular autumn foods and mixed them together with my favorite grain, err seed and topped it off with a runny fried egg to make a fantastic breakfast/lunch/dinner.

If you are unfamiliar with quinoa or haven’t cooked with it, you need to read about it and go buy some right now. This is not only one of the healthiest grains, but it is packed 9 essential amino acids which makes it a protein all on its own. Its very versatile and cooks the same way as rice and only takes 5 minutes! It’s almost always organic and is gluten free, kosher, and cholesterol free. Seriously, whats not to love about this!?! I added a little twist on the cooking of the quinoa this time. While the quinoa was cooking in the water, I added two cinnamon sticks into the pot to scent the quinoa. The cinnamon smell ties in well with the apple and sweet potato. A wonderful thing about this dish is you can eat hot or cold. This has is a very enjoyable fall item, both sweet and savory at the same time.

 

Active Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Granny Smith Apple, small dice (peel if you wish)

-1 Small Sweet Potato, peeled, small dice

-1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, or 2 sprigs with thyme removed from the stem

-1 Egg

-1 Yellow Onion, small dice

-2 Tablespoons butter

-Salt & Pepper, TT

-1 Teaspoon Allspice

-1 Cup Cinnamon Quinoa, cooked

 

Preparation:

-Heat a large skillet up on medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter.

-Once butter is melted, add in onion, sweet potato, and apple. Season with S&P.

-Saute until sweet potato becomes soft, about 10 minutes.

-Add in thyme, allspice, and the last tablespoon of butter.

-Continue to saute on medium heat until sweet potato and apple are cooked. Approximately another 5 minutes.

-Remove hash from pan and set aside.

-Using the same pan, fry your egg to an over easy consistency. Season egg with S&P.

-Place quinoa in a bowl, spoon hash on top, and crown the hash with your fried egg.

-Break open egg with a fork and ENJOY! ๐Ÿ™‚

**Note: This hash is delicious hot, but I enjoy eating it cold. It makes an excellent breakfast!

**Recipe Note: To make the scented quinoa, Cook quinoa according to directions on the box and add 2 cinnamon sticks to the pot. When quinoa is ready, remove cinnamon sticks and enjoy. You can use ground cinnamon if you don’t have whole. Just stir 1 teaspoon into the quinoa in the last few minutes of cooking.