Maple-Balsamic Tofu & Spinach with Saffron Quinoa Pilaf

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I have always valued a quick and delicious meal but now it is more important than ever! This was a great meal where I could cut and marinate the tofu in just a few minutes while the kiddos were playing and then whip this all up as soon as they went to sleep. Perfect! I was also able to use the marinade twice; cooking the spinach quickly after the tofu. I have always loved Saffron Rice Pilaf  and thought a quinoa twist on it would be fun!

Maple-Balsamic Tofu & Spinach with Saffron Quinoa

Tofu & Spinach

  • 1 block of tofu, pressed to remove water and cut in triangles
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • dash of salt
  • 6 ounces of baby spinach

Combine and marinate anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. Heat a frying pan and sear the tofu for a few minutes on both sides. Remove from pan and add spinach and any remaining marinade. Stir for just a few brief moments to wilt spinach and coat in the sauce. Remove and serve.

Quinoa Pilaf

  • 2 cups quinoa (4 cups water or stock)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • lemon juice to taste
  • sriracha, to taste (optional) (I love that extra kick!)

Combine water and quinoa in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, add saffron, tumeric and salt, and cover to cook for 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Stir in other ingredients and serve.

Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagne with Basil-Pistachio Pesto

I have made this dish many times over the last couple of years, sorry for waiting so long to share it with you! It is one of my faves!! And you can use each component on its own in other dishes as well 🙂 SO versatile and deelish! A total crowd pleaser – beautiful and amazing! Plus it has been one of their top sellers at the restaurant for years!

Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagne with Basil-Pistachio Pesto
Recipe by Matthew Kenney of Pure Food and Wine
Serves 6

Lemon-Pignoli “Ricotta”

2 cups raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons water

Place the pignoli, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times, until thoroughly combined. Gradually add water, and pulse until the texture becomes fluffy, like ricotta. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
Tomato Sauce
2 cups good-quality sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), soaked in water for at least 2 hours
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
1/4 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon agave
2 teaspoons sea salt
Pinch hot-pepper flakes

Place all ingredients in a Vita-mix or high speed blender, and process until smooth.
Basil-Pistachio Pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a Vita-mix or food processor and process until well combined but still slightly chunky.

Lasagne
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
3 medium green-zebra tomatoes (or other heirloom variety)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper

Garnish: whole basil leaves

  1. Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, shave zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices, then cut in half crosswise. Cut the tomatoes in half, and each half into thin slices.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with two layers of zucchini slices. Brush the zucchini lightly with olive oil, spread 1/3 of the tomato sauce over it, and top with small dollops of “ricotta” and pesto, using 1/3 of each. Layer on 1/3 of the tomato slices, and sprinkle with 1/3 of the oregano and thyme. Add another double layer of zucchini and repeat twice more with the tomato sauce, pesto, ricotta, tomato slices, and herbs. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature for a few hours. Garnish with basil. (or make individual portions by layering into square shapes on plates)

One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf

I love one pot meals! SO easy! This one uses quinoa and kale; two of our favorite foods ever makes this one even more perfect! YUM!

One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf
adapted from Food52
Serves 2-4

2 cups salted water
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch (any type) kale, washed and chopped into 1″ lengths
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon toasted walnut, grapeseed or olive oil
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the quinoa, cover, and lower the heat until it is just enough to maintain a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then top with the kale and re-cover. Simmer another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to steam for 5 more minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, take a large serving bowl and combine half of the lemon juice (reserving the other half), all of the lemon zest, scallions, oil, and pine nuts.
  3. Check the quinoa and kale when the cooking time has completed — the water should have absorbed, and the quinoa will be tender but firm, and the kale tender and bright green. If the quinoa still has a hard white center, you can steam a bit longer (adding more water if needed). When the quinoa and kale are done, fluff the pilaf, and tip it into the waiting bowl with the remaining ingredients. As the hot quinoa hits the scallions and lemon it should smell lovely. Toss to combine, seasoning with salt and pepper, and the remaining lemon juice if needed.

Raw Kale and Pear Salad – Kale Salad Challenge #2

We LOVE raw kale! It is great because any other salad with dressing would get all wilted when left with dressing in the fridge, where as kale just gets better, so this is a great leftover salad! The cooked onions and pears added so much goodness to this too. YUM!

This is the 2nd Salad in the Kale Salad Challenge 🙂


Raw Kale and Pear Salad
inspired by Chef Rachel Greenspan

1 lb Lacinato kale, cut crosswise in very thin slices
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup basil, diced
1 red onion, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon agave
2 pears, diced – carefully take onions out and leave some agave to sautee pear in
cinnamon, to taste
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
handful of pepitas, toasted

  1. Place kale, garlic, and herbs into a large bowl.
  2. Sweat onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add agave and continue cooking until nicely caramelized, another 10-15 minutes.
  3. Carefully take cooked onions (place in the bowl with kale) out of the skillet, leaving some agave liquid in the pan. In the same pan, saute diced pear until tender but still firm (add a dash or two of cinnamon to the pears). Once cooked, add to the kale and mix through.
  4. To dress salad, add remaining 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, all to taste. Let the salad sit for about 30 minutes to 24 hours to tenderize the kale without having to cook it. The salad should be vinegary and delicious.

Italian Potluck Night!!

As you know I LOVE Potlucks! And now we have a pretty regular Vegan Themed Potluck Party happening 🙂 Last nights theme was Italian Night! (last month was Asian) SUPER YUM! Not kidding this meal was out of control. We didn’t end up having dessert, but we all happily had seconds of the deelish food!

Lisa Dawn made this OUT of this world lasagna! We have seen her amazing Ricotta Cheese in her Stuffed Shells, but to taste this you would think that this was gourmet ricotta cheese made in Italy. But happily it was Vegan (but still super gourmet :)) And the homemade tomato sauce was also deelish!

Joey made this amazing pesto pasta sans cheese of course. It was so gorgeous with the fresh grape tomatoes and basil! Beautiful and super tasty!

I made my favorite Raw Crisp Caesar Salad with Pinenut parmesan and Artichoke Guacamole with mulit-grain pita chips. Yum!!!

On a side note, I can’t help but brag about Lisa & Paul’s overly impressive and adorable son Luke! Lisa had this great deck of cards with all the US Presidents pictures on them. Luke was able to go through all of them and name them!!! SO CUTE!! And he is under 2 years old!

Such a super great night with friends and deelish vegan food!

Amazing photo courtesy of Lisa's fabulous husband Paul!

Spring/Summer Cleanse 2011: Week 1

It is that time of year, cleansing time! I love to do fasts and detoxes a few times a year. I have done so many different cleanses ranging from green smoothie cleanses, to juice cleanses, to the master cleanse and even gallbladder and liver cleanses. I decided this time around to embark on a longer more sustainable cleanse. It is a combo elimination diet and detox. This is helping me cleanse easily and effectively while I am continuing to eat. But I have cut out foods that would interfere with the cleansing process and that I feel I rely too much on in my diet. I used Dr. Alejandro Junger’s, Clean Program as a loose guideline. I am hoping to maintain eating primarily the foods of the Elimination Diet even after I finish the cleanse, while occasionally enjoying some of the other foods.

My Plan for the Cleanse:

Weeks 1-3 (21 days): (I plan on doing this part for 4 weeks)

  • Breakfast: Smoothie/Juice or Protein Shake
  • Lunch: Clean meal made of detox friendly foods (see list below)
  • Dinner: Smoothie/Juice/Soup/Blended Foods
  • Snacks: anything from the approved list, but only snack when truly hungry, not just bored. (I can certainly relate to this!)
  • Drink A LOT of water and/or herbal tea.
  • Also ideally lunch should be the real food meal, but of course since this is an extended cleanse, if you need to switch lunch and dinner sometimes it is fine, BUT make sure you keep
    a 12 hour window between dinner and breakfast free of food for optimal digestion and detoxing. (This actually makes this so much easier to sustain for weeks at a time, knowing that you can still go out for dinner sometimes!)
  • The shakes/smoothies/juices are meant to help decrease the amount of work your digestive system has to do so it can rest and  restore.

The general list of foods to remove for Elimination Diet includes: grains with gluten, anything processed (including all soy products), fatty nuts, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant), condiments, sugar and obviously no dairy, animal products, alcohol, caffeine or soda. Click here to see Elimination List. and here to see the Shopping List.

Weeks 4: Juice Cleanse

I love my juice cleanses! See this post for more details.

Weeks 5: Back to the Elimination Diet Cleanse detailed above

With all stages I will include lots of Yoga of course and some cardio exercises.

Here is my first week of the cleanse broken down meal by meal to make it super easy for you to cleanse! Of course adjust times and recipes for your life and preferences. Meals in Bold have recipes listed below. I will post a few more recipes next week to add more variety 🙂

DAY ONE

8am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
10am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Morning Green Smoothie
1:30pm (lunch): Romaine with Caesar Dressing and Capers
8pm (dinner): Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

DAY TWO

8am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
10am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Morning Green Smoothie
2:00pm (lunch): Kitchari from JivamukTea Cafe (they use brown rice instead of white basmati! perfect!)
4pm (snack): A handful of mixed seeds and nuts
7pm (dinner): Shake: 1 serving UltraClear and MetaFiber mixed with water

DAY THREE

8am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
10:30am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Morning Green Smoothie
2:00pm (lunch): Raw Sesame Nut-meat salad from Bonobos
7:30pm (dinner): Shake: 1 serving UltraClear and MetaFiber mixed with water

DAY FOUR

5 am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
7:30 am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Morning Green Smoothie
12:00pm (lunch): Kitchari and a kale side from JivamukTea Cafe
4pm (snack): A handful of mixed seeds and nuts
8:30 pm (dinner): Cucumber and Avocado Soup

DAY FIVE

8am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
10am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Shake: 1 serving UltraClear and MetaFiber mixed with water
1:30pm (lunch): Berry Protein Shake
4pm (snack): A handful of mixed seeds and nuts
7pm (dinner): Coconut/Avocado Raw soup & Lover’s Salad from Caravan of Dreams

DAY SIX

9am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
11am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Berry Protein Shake
1:30pm (lunch): Chocolate Protein UN-Milkshake
4pm (snack): A handful of mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
7pm (dinner): Soba Noodle Soup at Souen Ramen

DAY SEVEN

9am Upon Rising: room temperature lemon water &/or herbal tea
11am Breakfast(at least an hour after waking): Mango and Coconut Smoothie
2:30pm (lunch): Leftover Soba Noodle Soup & Small Salad  with Caesar Dressing
5pm (snack): A handful of mixed seeds and nuts
9pm (dinner): Leftover FROZEN Berry Protein Shake (so fun! I was able to eat it like a creamy sorbet instead of drinking it :))

RECIPES

Morning Green Smoothie (2 servings)(We drink this most days as it is now :))

1 cup frozen Blueberries or raspberries
1 cup frozen Mango or Pineapple
big handful of baby spinach or 3 stalks of kale or chard
2 heaping tablespoons Synergy Green Powder, Vitamineral Green or other green powder
1 tablespoon Maca
1 heaping teaspoon Crystal Manna Blue green algae or E3AFA2 heaping tablespoons Psyllium Whole Husks or MetaFiber1 serving of Vegan Protein (soy-free) powder; Vega, UltraClear, Life’s Basics
2 cups Almond, Hemp or Coconut milk
1/2 cup water or coconut water

optional: coconut (unsweetened) or avocado

Blend everything together and Enjoy! Feel free to play around with ingredients (adding or ommitting them) but pay attention to the elimination diet guide (ie no bananas for this smoothie)

Berry Protein Shake
Recipe adapted from Dr. Alejandro Junger

1 cup nut/rice/hempseed milk of your choice (either homemade with 1/2 cup nuts and 1 1/2-2 cups water, or unsweetened)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries (optional)
3 pitted dates
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 serving of Vegan Protein Powder
1 serving of Fiber powder, Psyllium Husks or 2 ounces aloe juice
Handful of Spinach or serving of green powder

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Mango and Coconut Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons agave
  • 12 ounces almond, coconut milk or coconut water
  • handful of baby spinach

Blend and Enjoy!

Chocolate Protein UN-Milkshake

This was out of control deelish! It was so creamy and chocolatey! I would not have it everyday, but for a treat, especially when cleansing, it was amazing!

4 ounces of water
8 ounces of almond milk (unsweetened)
1/2 of an avocado
2 teaspoons organic almond butter
a pinch of sea salt
1 serving Chocolate Protein Powder – Vega Chocolate is Great!
1 serving MetaFiber
1 tablespoon Agave
1 heaping tablespoon raw cacao powder

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe from Clean Book; Dr. Alejandro Junger

2 cups Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
2 stalk celery
2 green apples, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, chopped
4-5 cups water

  1. Blend all ingredients except tarragon in a high speed blender.
  2. Check Seasoning
  3. Add the tarragon and blend again for 10 seconds, just enough to be mixed in.
  4. Serve in a bowl or mug slightly warm or at room temperature.

Cucumber and Avocado Soup
Recipe from Dr. Alejandro Junger
1 serving

zest of 1/2 lime
juice of an entire lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled and roughly chopped

Blend everything together until totally creamy and smooth.

Kale Salad #1

We Kale!! Pretty much all things Kale. So I am taking on another challenge, Kale Salads! Cooked kale is deelish but raw kale salads are amazing. Normal salads you dress and then they wilt, kale just gets more tender and deelish!


Kale Salad #1

1 bunch of kale, any kind
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Nama Shoyu and Tamari
2 tablespoons sesame seeds,  toasted
2 tablespoons pepitas, toasted

  1. Remove kale leaves from stalk. Roll up the leaves up cut into ribbons.
  2. Massage the dressing into the kale and let it sit for 30+ minutes. (this can last a few days in the fridge as is!)
  3. Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan, shaking constantly for a few minutes. Toss in the seeds and serve.

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