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How to make a healthy Chinese dinner at home

Shabbat in an Hour and Healthy Chinese Food that actually tastes good!

2014-05-16 19.05.22

My carnivorous husband asks so little as I experiment on him night after vegan night. So when he asked me to make him Chinese broccoli in garlic sauce I quickly planned a Chinese Shabbat dinner. He even said that I should make it with tofu instead of chicken so that we could both try it together. What a guy!

In the time it would have taken me to order and pick up Chinese, I made it. Not only that, but I felt great after I ate it, not like the crap I usually do after I’ve feasted on Chinese food from a restaurant. Even eating vegetarian, I don’t want to know the oil and MSG I must be consuming. I just know how badly I feel. That’s enough information for me and enough motivation to try to do it differently. I hope you’ll agree it is worth the effort.

After you make this complete meal the first time, it will be a breeze from then on and Chinese night can take on a healthier meaning at your house. In addition, I hear people say they’ll give you “Shabbat in an hour” and it is never true. This is! I promise!

Here is the “easy peasy lemon squeezey” (as my daughter says) menu:

Broccoli in Garlic Sauce

Sticky Rice

Orange Tofu

Parisian Carrots

Total Time, approximately 30-40 minutes.

Serves 4

-First, take the tofu out of the package to drain and press it. [Caveat: If you're new to tofu and it is too much, just buy the kind that comes already cubed and call it a day!] Place a dish towel or several paper towels on top of a salad sized plate. Drain the tofu and place it on the paper towels. Place several more towels on top of the tofu and then place a heavy pot on top. This will cause the remaining liquid from the tofu to become absorbed by the paper towels, leaving the tofu firmer. Ideally you can leave it “pressing” for 30 minutes, but even 10 will make a big difference. You can do this right when you walk in the door from work/carpool or you can do it in the morning and just leave it in the fridge all day.

Sticky Rice

Ingredients

1 cup sushi rice

1 1/4 cups

Directions

Place both ingredients into your rice cooker, turn it on and move on!

(If you don’t have a rice cooker, get one. I got mine for $20 at a discount store and it also steams vegetables. In a pinch, follow the stove top directions on the back of the package.)

-Take the frozen broccoli out of the packages and defrost it in a glass bowl in the microwave (or be a superstar and steam it on the cook top).

-Next, move on to finishing the tofu preparation.

Orange Tofu

Ingredients

15 oz tofu, pressed and cubed

3 Tablespoons agave nectar

1 orange, juice and zest

2 Tablespoons Braggs liquid aminos

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Remove the tofu from the paper towels and drain any remaining liquid from it. Cube the tofu and place it in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Things will get sticky so you may want to line the dish with parchment paper.

To make the sauce: Combine remaining ingredients, except sesame seeds, stir and pour over the tofu in the baking dish. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the tofu and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes total. Stir the tofu at the 20 minute mark to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed.

After you’ve placed the tofu in the oven, get started on the broccoli.

Broccoli in Garlic Sauce

Ingredients

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large bags frozen broccoli

1 teaspoon ginger powder

dash of cayenne pepper

3 Tablespoons corn starch

1/4 cup Braggs liquid aminos (or low sodium tamari or soy sauce)

1 cup water

Directions

Cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a deep saute pan for approximately 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add water if the pan gets dry.

-While the onion and garlic cook, microwave or steam the carrots.

After the onions have cooked, add the ginger and cayenne to the pan and mix it into the onions and garlic. Add the broccoli and mix thoroughly. Combine corn starch, Braggs and water, mix until the corn starch is dissolved and then pour into the pot. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until the flavors have had a chance to meld together and the sauce has thickened.

Parisian Carrots

Ingredients

1 bag frozen Parisian Carrots from Trader Joe’s, or another bag of fancy frozen carrots

Directions

Microwave or steam the carrots. Done!

To make it look fancy:

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I took the little pan out of my rice cooker and flipped it over onto a serving plate so that it looked like rice in the shape of a pie. If your rice cooker doesn’t work that way, don’t worry about it! Just place the rice in the middle of a dish and it will be fine. Place the broccoli, tofu and carrots on top in their own stripes. (see picture)

Now, go enjoy your dinner! No MSG stomachaches or headaches at your house tonight!

New Brunch Recipe: Spanish Frittata

New Brunch Recipe!

Inspired by a recipe in Dr. Neil Barnard’s, “Get Healthy, Go Vegan,” cookbook, I went to town preparing for Mother’s Day Brunch. I hope you all enjoyed your Mother’s Day, but also didn’t feel yucky after eating brunch, lunch or dinner. It’s always my goal to create recipes that will fill you up without making you feel bad, mentally or physically.

This does the trick! Also, the reception by my all non-vegan crowd was great. Phew! Way to experiment on company and non-vegan company at that!

This dish serves 6-8. In fact, I ate the leftovers post-workout this morning and it was perfect: filling but not heavy.

spanish frittata

Spanish Frittata (vegan and healthy!)

Ingredients

1 1b mixed greens (I used kale, spinach and arugula)

2 teaspoons vegi zest (Dr. Fuhrman’s soup base) and 1/2 cup water

or 1/2 cup veggie broth

2 tsp ground garlic from a jar or 2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup soy or coconut vegan creamer

Leaves from 2 stalks fresh oregano (or use 1 tsp dried oregano)

4 oz shitake mushrooms

3 small cooked white potatoes, diced

14 oz container firm tofu

1/8 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp kelp granules (optional)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Using a wide and deep sauté pan, combine greens, veggie zest and water or broth, and soy creamer. Cover pan and cook on medium high heat until greens are wilted. Add garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and oregano to cook. In the meantime, crumble half the tofu and add it to the pan. Take the other half of the tofu and puree it (I used an immersion blender but you can also use a blender) with the turmeric, kelp granules, sea salt, pepper, paprika and nutritional yeast. Add the pureed mixture to the pan and mix all ingredients together.

Grease an 8 x 8 casserole dish with olive oil. Add the mixture from the sauté pan and bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Do you have any brunch recipes you want health-ified or ones that you’ve created and want to share? Just let me know!

Healthy Spanish Rice & Fajitas for the Family!

Healthy Spanish Rice Recipe & Fajitas for the Family!

I don’t know about you, but I love meals where everyone can choose what they want to add to their own dish. Last week I saw a recipe for “Anything Goes Fajitas” on www.JewishFoodExperience.com and decided that was the feast I was going to make for my peeps that evening. We ended up with so many leftovers I didn’t need to cook the next two nights. The recipe was supposed to feed a big crowd and I didn’t have one. However, I did have a happy me when I didn’t have to cook for the next couple nights!

There are several parts to this recipe, so it isn’t a five minute prep. However, like most things, you can simplify or make it bigger/fancier and more of an effort. There are also several steps that can be done ahead of time. It’s really a great recipe when you are having a lot of people and only want to make one dish. I mean, one dish with 5 parts…. Still, it’s all mental. This still feels easier than coming up with ideas for and cooking multiple dishes.

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The parts of the feast included:

1. The Marinade (Majorly simplified if you buy fajita spice mix in the store, which, of course, I did not).

2. The Protein (The recipe calls for chicken, beef and tofu. I made the beef for my hubby because I’m just occasionally awesome like that. I made the tofu of course and he also loved that.)

3. The Fajita Vegetables (Onions, peppers, etc….I happened to already have roasted red onion so I didn’t take time to saute yellow onion as the recipe suggested. I also roasted the peppers instead of sauteing which cut down on active cooking time. I’d just bought sliced portabella caps and roasted those too).

4. For Serving (Little-prep necessary items like tortillas, Tofutti sour cream, lettuce, cucumbers, guacamole, tomatoes and salsa). I also “mandolined” sweet potatoes and roasted those to serve on the side.

5. For me, the piece de resistance, was my accidental invention: Healthy Spanish Rice!

I made a microwave steam bag of brown rice. (Yes, of course it is healthier to use your rice cooker instead of microwaving in plastic, but I used what I had and it was so easy!). Then I made and mixed in my own recipe for homemade vegan nacho cheese sauce. A little diced red pepper and tomatoes and there you have it: creamy and healthy Spanish rice). I love Spanish rice, but have never been able to make it myself, so this was thrilling.

Recipe

Healthy Spanish Rice

Ingredients

Approximately 3 cups cooked brown rice (the amount depends on how large your crowd is)

1 Red pepper, diced

1 pint Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Optional: 1 can black beans

Cheese Sauce Ingredients

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked in water for at least an hour

1 roasted red pepper (can be from a jar!)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup almond milk

Cheese Sauce Directions

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend. Done! The recipe makes approximately 2 cups.

Rice directions
Mix cheese sauce into rice and vegetables, a quarter cup at a time, until desired creaminess is achieved.
Optional: Add black beans (and maybe even corn?) to make a main dish. Add salad and you’re done!

 

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