Recipes

Chickpea and Date Tagine

This dish is an amazing vegetarian stew that is full of incredible flavors. I mentioned it yesterday, but I made this dish the weekend before last and it was so good that I decided to make it again this past weekend, which I NEVER do. I even ended up going to two different stores to get the ingredients since I couldn’t find dates at the first stop, but it was worth it!

Besides the incredible balance of savory and sweet, this dish comes together and on the table in about 25 minutes, so is perfect for a weeknight meal. It also works really well as leftovers for lunch over a bed of spinach, and all your coworkers will be jealous of how delicious it smells when you heat it up… I promise.

Chickpea and Date Tagine

      • Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine
      • Prep Time: 5 minutes
      • Cook Time: 20 minutes
      • Yields: 4-1.5 cup servings, 7 pts+ each
      • Printable version here.

Ingredients:

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    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 onion
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon corriander
    • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 14 oz. can of diced or crushed tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 10 dates, chopped
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • Cilantro for garnish, if desired

First, chop your onion.

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Once that is chopped, heat up a pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, and then add the onion once it’s hot.

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Cook for about 10 minutes until the onion starts to brown. Meanwhile, chop up the four cloves of garlic.

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Once the onion is starting to get brown, get ready to add more ingredients to the pan.

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Add in your garlic, crushed tomatoes (with the juices), water, and all the spices

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Then stir to combine and let sit for another 10 minutes so the flavors mesh together.

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Last step – add in the chickpeas, dates, and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper if desired.

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Leave on the stove until heated through – about 2-3 minutes.

And then you’re ready to eat!

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That serving probably looks pretty small, but when I went back and calculated the PointsPlus for the recipe, I realized the whole pan made 4, 7pt+ servings, so I ended up doubling the amount in the dish after the picture and it was a good amount – about 1.5 cups. For lunches, I added a handful of spinach and heated it up in the microwave for an extra veggie kick, and practically licked the bowl clean every time.

Also, make sure you really chop up those dates. The recipe called for them just to be halved which I did the first time, but when I made it the second time around I chopped them up instead and it was much better. The sweetness from the dates was spread throughout the dish much better and the whole dish tasted more balanced.

I imagine you could switch up a lot of things in here – maybe using golden raisins, apricots, or dried cherries instead of the dates to give it a different twist. I am SURE I will be making this again soon!

What’s the best dinner you’ve made or eaten lately? Feel free to leave links in the comments!!

Spaghetti [Squash] with Kale, Feta and Poached Egg

This dish just screams fall to me. When I got back from the weekend craziness on Sunday afternoon, I had a spaghetti squash and bunch of kale that needed to be used stat. I had come across a recipe in Clean Eating Magazine a month or two ago for Spaghetti with Kale, Feta, and Poached Egg, and I thought why not try it out with spaghetti squash?

I tweaked the recipe a bit because I am such a volume eater, and it turned out AMAZING. The dish is so delicious and just loaded with different textures, flavors and is extremely satisfying.

Spaghetti [Squash] with Kale, Feta, and Poached Egg

    • Prep Time: 20 mins
    • Cook Time: 15 mins
    • PointsPlus: 12 for entire recipe, 2-6pt+ servings

Here’s what you need for success:

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    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 bunch kale
    • 1 red onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups veggie stock
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1 tbsp vinegar (for poaching)
    • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
    • 4 cups cooked spaghetti squash (Bake at 400º for 1 hour)

To start, prep your kale. First, you want to chop the ends of the stems off.

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Then, you want to pull the leaves loose from the stems to separate the two.

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You’ll have a pile of stems and a pile of leafy greens.

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For the stems, chop them thinly – you’ll be using them!

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For the greens, tear them into smallish pieces, rinse them well, and then steam them for 4-5 minutes.

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I have this awesome silicone steamer that is heat resistant and fits right into the pot and pulls up easily once things are done steaming. LOVE.

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Once your kale is cooked, heat up 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

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Once that is heated, add in your red onion, chopped kale stems and salt.

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Cook until onion starts to brown, about 8-10 minutes.

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Next, add in your kale leaves, veggie stock, and garlic cloves and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the flavors have combined and the sauce is reduced.

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While the kale mixture is finishing up, it’s time to poach your eggs, which I know can be scary – but its really quite simple if you know a few tricks! The method I use is to bring a pot with about two inches of water to boil, then down to a simmer. Add in one tablespoon of white vinegar – this helps the egg to stay together.

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The only other trick is to make sure you crack your egg into a separate bowl to pour it into the boiling water, rather than directly into the water.

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Cook the egg until poached through, about 3-4 minutes total. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pot.

Second to last step is to add the cooked spaghetti squash (or regular pasta if you so choose, but this will change the PointsPlus value!) to the kale mixture.

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Final step – assembly! Add half of the spaghetti squash, kale, and red onion mixture to a bowl, top with half of the feta and one of the poached eggs.

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When you cut into the yolk, it’ll create a creamy sauce and add a punch of protein to the dish for extra staying power.

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This recipe yields a LOT of food and a lot of flavor. There is a nice saltiness from the feta and creaminess from the egg and they work so well against the different veggies in this dish. It works awesome as leftovers the next day, too, but I added chickpeas rather than an egg since day-old poached egg probably wouldn’t work so well. 😉

Are you a fan of spaghetti squash? What’s your favorite way to have it? If not a fan, what’s your favorite fall veggie?

Crispy Tofu Parmesan

Today’s recipe is good. Really good. I had been trying to figure out something simple yet creative to do with tofu since I found the Nasoya Lite blocks of tofu on sale at Whole Foods (2/$5) and stocked up. I googled some recipes for ideas and came across tofu nuggets, which was my original plan, but I wanted to add some extra flavors, so these were born. They are super crunchy, delicious, and taste way more indulgent then they actually are! Win-win-win.

Crispy Tofu Parmesan

    • Prep Time: 5 minutes
    • Cook Time: 40 minutes
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • PointsPlus: 12 for entire recipe

Ingredients:

    • 1 block tofu, pressed (works best with this)
    • 1/3 cup liquid egg whites
    • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp panko bread crumbs (5 tbsp total)
    • 1.5 teaspoons dried parsley
    • salt and pepper, to taste

To start, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tofu into chunks of your desired size.

I made 14 cubes out of the entire cube, but I’d recommend you make 16. Pat it dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.

Next, get two bowls. In one, place the egg whites, and in the other, add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix the dry ingredients together (panko, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper)

One by one, add the pieces of tofu to the egg whites

Then over to the dry ingredient mixture to coat

This works best with the wet hand, dry hand technique. This basically means that you use your left hand to pick up the piece of tofu, place it in the egg wash and mix it around, and then use the same hand to drop it into the dry mixture. Now, switch to your right hand and use only your right hand to mix it around (keeping it dry) and making sure the tofu is coated in the breadcrumb mixture. Once it’s coated, use your right (dry) hand to move it to a greased baking sheet.

Repeat with each piece of tofu until they are all breaded.

Now, it’s time to bake and your oven should be preheated by now. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Then flip each piece of tofu over and bake for another 20 or until golden brown all around.

That’s it!

Half of this recipe is just 6 pts+ and a perfect serving for lunch or dinner. I served mine with some marinara sauce for dipping.

The tofu is crispy, flavorful, and totally delicious, especially dipped in the sauce.

It’s pretty amazing how crunchy and delicious these tofu “nuggets” are. I think they would work really well on a sub with sauce and cheese as a tofu parmesan sub, similar to chicken or eggplant parm. They are totally delicious and super crunchy. I will say, they didn’t hold up as well as I was hoping for leftovers, though I imagine if you heated them in a toaster the next day they would be just as good (rather than in the microwave like I did). Yum!

Tofu – love it or hate it? What’s your favorite way to have it?

Mexican Pizza

Mexican food is one of my all time favorite cuisines. There are so many things I love including burritos, nachos, enchiladas, tacos… I could go on. It also happens to be one of my favorite kinds of food to make at home, because it is SO easy to make delicious, fresh, and healthy versions in my own kitchen.

This past Sunday, I made a huge batch of those Black Beans that Will Change Your Life, and have been using them in taco salads, burritos, and rice and beans for lunches and dinners all week. Monday night, I tried a new experiment in the kitchen, and it turned out so great I just had to share!

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Mexican Pizza

    • Prep Time: 5 minutes
    • Cook Time: 10 minutes
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • 7 pts+ for entire recipe

Ingredients:

    • Cooking spray
    • 2 corn tortillas
    • 1/2 cup beans of choice (you can use refried, black, pinto, etc)
    • 1 oz. shredded mozz (I used the kind from Trader Joe’s)
    • Toppings of choice:
      • sliced black olives
      • 1 oz. avocado
      • red onion
      • cilantro
    • Salsa

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Directions:

First, preheat your oven to 350º.

Next, heat up a pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.

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Heat up your corn tortillas one by one, spraying each side with cooking spray before flipping.

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Once both sides are heated (about 1-2 minutes per side), transfer one tortilla to your baking vehicle. I just used tin foil for this.

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If you’re not using refried beans, mash your beans with a fork and heat them for 30 seconds in the microwave. If you’re using plain canned beans, spice them up a little bit with some cumin and/or spices of choice. If you’re using the black beans I used, nothing else is needed.

Next, spread them on the tortilla, keeping them a little away from the edge like so:

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Sprinkle with about half of the cheese.

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And then top it with the second corn tortilla.

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Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

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And add your toppings of choice, for me just the olives and red onions at this point.

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If I could go back and do it again, I’d add a thin layer of salsa underneath the cheese, so I recommend you do that!

Next, bake it for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cheese is bubbly and melted.

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Finally, add fresh toppings of choice – cilantro and avocado for me!

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Cut into triangles.

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And enjoy!

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I served mine with a nice serving of salsa for dipping and orange pepper strips on the side, and this was a delicious and super satisfying dinner. I’m not sure how well it would hold up as leftovers, but the same ingredients are very easily turned into a taco salad, which is what I’m having for lunch today! This is super simple, so it’s hard to even call it a recipe, but I think the concept is fun and totally transformable based on your preferences and what’s in your kitchen. Enjoy!

What is your favorite type of cuisine?

Mine is a three way tie between Japanese (sushi), Mexican, and Vietnamese.

Curried Coconut Veggie Soup

One of my favorite parts about the cooler weather is making hearty soups that both warm me up and leave me feeling satisfied. This recipe inspiration came from a can of light coconut milk I picked up at Whole Foods last week. I’d been toying with the idea of making a curry dish or making coconut rice, when I couldn’t get the idea of how good sweet potato combined with coconut milk sounded.

From that idea, this soup was born in my kitchen on Monday night, and I cannot even begin to tell you how delicious it is.  The flavors are spot on, and the creamy coconut milk makes it taste so indulgent and provides the perfect contrast against the slight spicy from the jalapeno.This is one of my favorite original recipes and is just as good the next day as leftovers! Enjoy!

Curried Coconut Veggie Soup

Ingredients:

    • 1 extra-large sweet potato, cubed
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 onion, chopped

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    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
    • 1 tablespoon fresh jalapeno, minced (optional)
    • 1 tbsp curry powder

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    • 1 tbsp coconut oil (freebie from HLS, but you can use canola or another type here)
    • 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 1 cup light coconut milk

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Plus…

    • 2 cups veggie stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt, to taste

Directions:

Heat coconut oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, and then add in your onion (plus a few pieces of green pepper if you have them in the same bowl…)

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Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the onion starts to get translucent, and then add in the bell pepper, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno.

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Cook for another 3-4 minutes until the bell pepper is starting to get soft, and then add in your curry powder.

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Cook for about 1 minute to toast the curry powder, before adding in the sweet potato.

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Now is time to add the veggie stock and water (2 cups of each).

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Bring the mixture to a boil, then down to a simmer. Cover it and cook for 25 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the flavors have blended.

Final step – stir in the coconut milk and the chickpeas, and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the soup is heated through. Add salt to taste. Then, serve and enjoy!

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You get a very hearty serving if you divide it into four portions, and you won’t even believe how delicious it is OR that it is actually good for you. Each bite is full of veggies and loaded with flavor, and the broth alone is so good you’ll want to drink it right from the bowl.

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Yum!

If you had to pick just one, what is your favorite kind of soup?

I think I’d pick chili, especially sweet potato black bean! I also love veggie tortilla soup.

Tofu Ricotta Lasagna

Let’s start by saying that never in a MILLION years did I think I would make a vegan version of lasagna. I just love cheese far too much to consider it, but I’ve been toying with the idea of making tofu ricotta for quite some time, and last night was finally the night.

The concept is pretty simple – you press the tofu, crumble it with a fork, add in some seasonings of your choice (I used garlic, chives, and salt) and then use it in place of ricotta in lasagna, stuffed shells, or calzones. The execution was also super simple, but what I wasn’t sure about was the taste.

And let me tell you – it is DELICIOUS. If you didn’t tell someone it was tofu, they would never know. The texture and flavor are spot on, and the amount of “ricotta” you get compared to what you would get with regular or part-skim will blow your mind. Since I used light tofu, the whole block, which crumbled into about 2 cups, was only 6pts+!

Tofu Ricotta Lasagna

    • Prep time: 15 minutes
    • Cook time: 45 minutes
    • Entire recipe yields 28 pts+, or four 7pt+ servings
    • Printable recipe here.

Ingredients:

    • 1 jar marinara sauce
    • 4 oz. no boil lasagna noodles (2 servings)
    • 1 package spinach
    • ~ 1/4 cup chopped chives
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 block firm lite tofu, pressed
    • 2 oz. light mozzarella cheese

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, take your pressed tofu and get ready to crumble it with a fork.

It is easier than I expected it to be – the tofu crumbles very easily and basically falls apart.

After the tofu is crumbled, add in the garlic, chives and salt.

And then mix it until it’s combined.

And your tofu ricotta is done. Set it aside.

The last step before layering the lasagna is to cook the spinach. I don’t have a microwave yet, otherwise I would have done it in there, so I used a pan instead.

It never ceases to amaze me how a whole bag of spinach cooks down to this:

Crazy. Now you’re ready for the fun part – assembling the lasagna.

I always put sauce at the bottom.

Then noodles and spinach.

Then ricotta.

Then repeat until it’s all done. Top with 2 oz of part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese. I picked up this vegan ALMOND cheese the other day at Whole Foods, because it was on sale for $1.99 and the regular cheese was way more expensive.

It’s not bad and melts really well considering. Vegan cheese does kind of skeeve me out though, not going to lie. Smile

Cover the lasagna with tin foil.

And bake it at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn the heat up to 425 and bake for another 10-15 until the top is golden brown.. or as brown as vegan cheese will get.

If you can bare it, let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it sets before digging in. 1/4 of it is a LARGE serving, so you can definitely break it into more if you you feel it.

Honestly, I was shocked with how good it is. If you served it to someone without telling them it had tofu in it, they would have no idea. OR, if you have someone who swears they hate tofu, make this, and don’t tell them until they’re asking for seconds.

Have you ever tried vegan cheese before? Love it, hate it, can’t get enough? Which kind did you try?

I’ve heard Daiya is the best, but it’s always way too expensive for me at the store. If I were sensitive to dairy I’m sure I could make due, especially now that I discovered tofu ricotta!

Crispy Buffalo Tofu w/Blue Cheese Dressing

Confession: The texture and taste of tofu used to totally creep me out. I loved that it was a low calorie source of protein, but I was preparing it all wrong and didn’t do it any justice so would have to choke it down. Luckily for me, I learned how to prepare it the right way, and now it’s a big staple in my diet that I absolutely love – what a difference!

Tofu has a really mild flavor, so it basically soaks up any flavor you cook it with, and if you prepare it the right way, the texture is actually really satisfying and not creepy at all. =)

It all starts with pressing the tofu. You can press a block of tofu by wrapping it in lots of paper towels or a kitchen towel and placing it on a plate with heavy objects on top to get the liquid out, or you can use this genius creation, a Tofu Xpress (aff).

Full disclosure, I received this tofu express for free a long time ago and already wrote a review on here and therefore don’t have to talk about it ever again, but let me tell you – one year later, it’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances. I’s something I would highly recommend buying if you eat tofu at all regularly, or you want to start since it’s such a cheap and versatile form of protein.

The base is made perfectly to fit a whole block of tofu straight from the package.

Which starts out very thick and packed with liquid.

The top part of the press goes on with a spring and starts extracting the liquid right away.

After about an hour, the tofu is fully pressed and check out how much liquid came out:

Crazy, right?

If you don’t feel like waiting an hour to eat, I have put a block of tofu in there in the morning before work, placed it in the fridge, and let it press all day many, many times before and it works just as well.

Once it’s pressed, you pour off the liquid and are left with your pressed block of tofu, ready to be cooked any way you desire.

I used to always bake tofu, which is definitely a good option, but frying it in a pan is so much quicker and it turns out just as good if not better since it gets browned and crispy! Because a whole block of regular tofu is 12 pts+, I usually divide it into three 4 point servings, with 8 pieces each.

I heat up a pan with nonstick spray, and place the pieces in an even layer in the pan once its hot over medium heat.

Now is where patience comes into play. Let the pieces sit until they are browned, about 5-7 minutes per side. Find something to do with yourself so you’re not tempted to turn them over sooner because the less you interrupt the cooking, the better they will turn out.

Now let the other side cook for about the same, and you will have the perfect tofu ready to be flavored however you like.

This week, I did buffalo tofu, so I took 2/3 of the block (for dinner and lunch the next day) and put them into a plastic container.

Topped with a generous amount of Frank’s Red Hot.

Shake it up, and you’ve got delicious, crispy buffalo tofu.

To go with the buffalo tofu, I made an awesome healthy version of creamy blue cheese dressing. Start by adding 1/3 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt and 1 oz. of blue cheese crumbles to a bowl.

Next add about 1/2 tbsp water (more or less until it reaches your desired consistency) plus a sprinkle of salt, and you have an amazing, HEALTHY version of chunky blue cheese dressing that you can use in so many ways.

The whole bowl (which is a large amount!) is 4 pts+, so I used half for each of two meals.

How delicious does that look!?

Served with broccoli, and you’ve got yourself a super satisfying and delicious 6 pt+ dinner.

Yum.

I ended up having the third serving of tofu for lunch again the day after, and that time I brought BBQ sauce to dip it in, and it was DELICIOUS. 3 meals out of 1 block of tofu that cost less than $2? Score!

What’s your favorite kind of salad dressing?

I love ginger dressing that you get at Japanese restaurants, but blue cheese is definitely one of my favorites. That said, I rarely if ever get it because its so calorie dense, but this version tastes the same and is JUST as good!

Spicy Tempeh Chili

If you’re new to tempeh, this is an amazing and easy first recipe to try. It’s also a great recipe for tempeh veterans just looking to spice it up and try something new. It’s extremely satisfying and pleases vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. If you didn’t tell someone it was tempeh chili, they’d never know, but the tempeh adds a heartiness and level of satisfaction to the chili that it wouldn’t have without it. Enjoy!

Spicy Tempeh Chili

 Entire recipe yields 31 pts+ (with corn, 28 pts+ without), or five 6pt+ servings. Printable version here.

Ingredients:

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 8 oz package of mushrooms, chopped

    • 1 package tempeh, crumbled
    • 1 packet taco seasoning
    • 3/4 cup corn (optional)
    • 1 can diced tomatoes
    • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Side note – the taco seasoning from Trader Joe’s is the best ever and only 79 cents by me!

Directions

To start, heat a soup pot over medium heat and then add in your oil. Toss in your chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Next, add in your bell pepper and mushrooms.

Cook until the veggies are all cooked through and soft, about 4-5 more minutes, so about 10 mins total for the veggies. Next, add in your crumbled tempeh.

Tempeh crumbles effortlessly in a food processor, by the way.

Stir to combine.

And then add in your taco seasoning, and cook until you can smell the spices getting toasty, about 3 minutes.

Now it’s time to add in everything else – the beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Stir to combine.

And then add in one can of water.

Look how colorful it is!

Bring the chili up to a boil, then down to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 30-40 minutes, until the flavors have meshed well and the chili is thick and delicious.

Now it’s ready to eat!

I’ve been topping mine with cheddar cheese and greek yogurt (sour creamish), and also using it on top of baked potatoes and for chili cheese fries. It also holds up REALLY well as leftovers, which I’ve had for lunch almost every day this week!

So that’s it! Even though this recipe takes longer than most of mine, the more than half of the time is just waiting while it cooks down. The wait is totally worth it though, I promise.

Do you tend to stick with recipes only when they are in season, like lighter things in the summer and heavier things in the winter?

I don’t at all. I usually just go with what I’m craving, and even though chili is traditionally a winter dish because it’s so hearty and warm, I love it year round!

Veggie Fried Brown Rice

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I once read this cute book called The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Love, and there is one particular passage about fried rice that stuck with me for some reason. A little background on the book… a couple who come from very different backgrounds, one from a traditional Chinese family and the other from a traditional American family, fall in love and experience their lives together over the dinner table. I do really recommend the book, but I don’t want to go into too much detail because I just wanted to set the stage for this exchange:

“Sitting back now, he asks, “Do white people know that fried rice is made with leftover rice?”
“I don’t know,” I answer on behalf of all white people. “It’s not really something you think about until you try to make it.”
“White people order fried rice as an entrée,” he continues, explanatorily. “It’s only on the menu for them. Chinese people order white rice with their entrée – a real entrée – and then take home the leftovers and make fried rice.”

So I’m not sure which side of the fence I fall on with this one since I made brown rice specifically because I have been loving making fried rice for a quick, easy, and healthy dinner lately. But since I’m not really sure where I stand with it, let’s just get right into the recipe, shall we?

This dish comes together in less than 10 minutes if you have your rice cooked ahead of time. It’s an awesome weekday meal when you want to get dinner on the table fast and is such an easy meal to change around based on what’s in your kitchen. I use brown rice here because it’s healthier, but you can easily experiment with white rice or any other grain. You can also certainly go traditional and just use anything you have leftover in the fridge, including cooked veggies, meats, beans, tofu, etc. It is seriously delicious and filling, and is so simple it’s barely considered a recipe!

Veggie Fried Brown Rice

Entire recipe yields 12 pts+. 2 servings at 6 pts+ each.

Ingredients:
– 1 bag of mixed frozen veggies (or fresh)
– 1.5 cups of cooked brown rice
– 2 eggs
– 1 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
– 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger (or a sprinkle of ginger powder if you don’t have fresh!)

To start, heat up a pan and spray it with nonstick spray. Once it’s hot, add in your frozen veggies.

Cover and cook for about 4 minutes, until they are defrosted and warm. Next up, add in your cooked brown rice and stir into the veggies.

Now, crack your eggs directly on top of the rice and veggie mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon constantly until eggs are cooked and spread evenly throughout the rice. Make sure you use your spoon to mix in the rice around the edge of the pan so it all gets equally delicious.

Last step – add in your soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chopped or powdered ginger. Stir to combine, and you’re done!

That’s it! This dish is so delicious that I ended up making it again last night after writing this post! It’s a great staple meal for me during the week, and also CHEAP and good for using up things in your fridge/pantry! I usually divide it into two servings immediately, saving half for lunch the next day and eating half right then and there.

Are you a fan of Chinese food? What’s your favorite thing to order off the menu?

I loooooove dumplings, egg drop soup, and sesame tofu if I’m feeling frisky. If I’m behaving myself, I usually order the steamed jumbo shrimp with veggies, which is actually completely delicious, if a little boring!

Lentil Bolognese Sauce

When I was a kid, pasta with Bolognese sauce was always a favorite of mine and one of my go-to’s at any Italian restaurant. The thick, hearty sauce felt like a meal in itself, so when ordered with pasta, it was like getting two for one in my mind. It felt like such a step up from regular sauce and I could not understand why anyone would conceivably choose plain old marinara when they could have Bolognese.

That said, I haven’t had Bolognese sauce in a long time.  When I was toying with what to make for dinner last night, I went through the protein options I had on hand – tofu, tempeh, quinoa… and then I spotted the lentils.

I absolutely love lentils. They are delicious, hearty, and cheap, plus are the only dried bean that not only requires no soaking, but also cooks in 15-20 minutes. Lentils make an awesome substitute for ground meat (see my Lentil Loaf and Spiced Lentil Mushroom Tacos) because the texture and satisfaction is there and you can barely tell the difference from the “real thing”. After toying with a few ideas in my head, I decided exactly what I would make for dinner.

Lentil Bolognese Sauce

This sauce is delicious and satisfying, plus much healthier than its counterpart. A cup of regular Bolognese sauce clocks in at 13 pts+, whereas my version has just 3 pts+ per generous one cup serving. This would be a great recipe to make for a crowd because it will please the meatiest of eaters – and you don’t even have to tell them it’s vegan. It freezes well, and can be used anywhere you’d use regular Bolognese sauce – on pasta, in lasagna, with gnocchi, or as pictured below with polenta.

Yields 8, 1 cup servings. 3 pts+ each.

Here’s what you need for success:

  • 1 cup dried lentils (any variety)
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped

Plus…

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup veggie stock (or chicken)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

First, cook your lentils. Rinse them and then add them to a pot with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. (You can chop your veggies up while the lentils are cooking if you haven’t done so already.)

Heat up the oil in a pot or dutch oven and then add in your onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Once that’s soft, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Next, add in your celery and carrots.

And cook until all veggies are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Now, add in the rest of your ingredients – the mushrooms, canned tomatoes (with their juice), cooked lentils, and stock.

Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil.

Cover and then turn down the heat and let cook for 20-25 minutes.

Finally, using a stick blender or a regular blender (but be careful and do it in small batches since the sauce is very hot if you use a regular blender!), blend until desired consistency.

I blended mine until the consistency was uniform, and eerily like meat sauce!

Season with salt and pepper if desired and enjoy!

I froze one quart of the sauce, and kept the other quart out to use.

I wasn’t really in the mood for pasta, so when I spotted this tube of polenta from Trader Joe’s in my cupboard I grabbed it.

The entire thing has 9 pts+, so I divided it into 3, and cooked 2 of the servings in a pan with nonstick spray (one for dinner, one for lunch).

Once that was done, I topped half with a generous serving of the Lentil Bolognese sauce and to un-veganize it, added 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese.

The sauce was so thick and delicious and stood up to my fork!

It really packs a punch since its so hearty with the lentils, but I had trouble stopping at just one serving because its so delicious! I see vegetarian lasagna in my near future!

Do you ever make your own sauce or mostly use canned/jarred sauces? What’s your favorite kind of pasta sauce? I love Bolognese (obviously) but vodka sauce is a close second! I usually use jarred sauce, but spice it up by adding my own veggies/spices. This was super easy and delicious though, so I imagine you’ll be seeing this again on here!

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