Lebanese Moussaka

11212141_644431038992203_3172295891959256073_oThe Boyfriend and I went out to eat at a Lebanese joint a while back and I ordered Moussaka. I had only ever had (vegetarian) Greek Moussaka, and given that this was the only plant-based main dishe on the menu, I ordered it expecting the Greek version of layered eggplant and chickpeas in this case. I was definitely surprised when the dish came out as more of an eggplant stew. You learn something new everyday!

I liked the dish, but it was really heavy on the oil and did not contain any chickpeas. I was pretty bummed, because I would never, ever order eggplant as a main dish. Rice and veggies do not make a meal in my world; I need protein in the form of beans, tofu, tempeh,  or seitan in order to feel like it is worth the calories/money of a “main dish”.

That being said, I liked the flavor of the dish, so I decided to create what I wish I had been served at the restaurant.

Eggplant soaks up oil, so I choose to use very little when I cook with it. I like to get the cast iron screaming hot and “dry fry” the eggplant, then set it aside. This is my version of deep frying, very similar to dry frying tofu. Then, I soak it in the beautiful sauce and the eggplant gets all velvety and soft and decadent. It’s so much better than eating oil soaked food.

I created the sauce with onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, za’taar, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, parsley, and some other spices.

I love creating beautiful, tasty, healthy food, and am thankful for the inspiration.

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My love of spicy foods knows no bounds! You can’t go wrong with a ton of garlic, dry fried tofu, and greens. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil and slowly caramelized the garlic, then added the previously dry fried tofu, some marinated shitake mushrooms, and the greens, then finished it off with a bunch of homemade chili-garlic lime sauce and a tsp. of toasted sesame oil.

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This chili sauce is one of my favorites to make. The lime, garlic, and heat compliment so many dishes. It’s a cross between Sriracha and Sambal Oelek; the best of both worlds, in my opinion!

Sugar-Free Aloe Lime Ginger Slushie

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This has been one of my favorite refreshing drinks for years. I started drinking Aloe Juice over ice (usually in a wine glass) as a teen in Iowa. The summers were SOOOOO HOT there.

To make this simple mocktail, just add 1 cup aloe juice, 1 cup water,1 cup ice cubes, the juice of 3 limes, 1 inch of ginger and a scoop of Kal Stevia powder and blend in a blender. If you want an electrolyte drink, you can add 1/4 tsp. NuSalt (potassium).

Grilled Eggplant Caprese Wheat berry Salad

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I developed this recipe years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite salads. It can be easily veganized by using smoked tofu instead of the smoked mozzarella, and frankly, I prefer the tofu version. I’m going to share the recipe with you, but first I want to talk a little bit about how I like to stock my freezer with cooked grains and legumes. I usually cook two different grains and two different legumes a week, and freeze the leftovers in single or double size portions. That way I can always pull something out of my freezer for a quick meal by adding whatever veggies I have on hand and one of the many sauces I keep on hand. (I also make the sauces in a big batch and freeze them too.)

For breakfast this morning, I used my cooked wheatberries and white beans, added some zucchini, spinach, and cilantro-mint chutney and had a great breakfast in under 10 minutes! It may not look great, but the mint chutney pulled it all together and gave it a great, cooked all day flavor.

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I’m a huge lover of leftovers for breakfast!

Now, onto the recipe for this awesome salad:

Grilled Eggplant Caprese Wheat berry Saladwheatberryeggplant-019-M

Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 1 c wheat berries
  • 4 c water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 2 inch rounds
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves pressed garlic, divided (around 4 teaspoons)
  • 4 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, washed and dried (around 1 ½ cups loosely packed), hand torn
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of 1 lemon (around ¼ cup)
  • 4 ounces fresh smoked mozzarella* or smoked tofu cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, bring wheat berries, water and ½ teaspoon salt to a boil. Cover, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the wheat berries are tender. Drain in a colander, rinse and set aside. This can be done the night before
  • Slice eggplant, place in a gallon size ziplock bag with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 pressed garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt. Let this marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  • Grill eggplant over medium heat for around 4 minutes a side, set aside
  • In a bowl, add the cooked wheat berries, the rest of the vinegar and olive oil, tomatoes, basil, herbs, lemon zest and juice and smoked mozzarella.
  • Chop eggplant and add to bowl, toss and add smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

*Smoked Tofu is a great alternative to smoked mozzarella for those wishing to avoid dairy. You can find it in many Chinese markets and in some supermarkets.

Vegan Panang Curry

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One of my favorite dishes to get at Thai restaurants is definitely Panang Curry with tofu. It is really easy to make at home using whatever veggies you have on hand. This time I used zucchini, red peppers, daikon, onion, and baby corn, and dry fried tofu.  The sauce is sweet and salty and pungent full of lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal, coriander,  natural peanut butter, tamari,and coconut milk. I added some turmeric for color as well. Basil, cilantro, and lime juice finish it off. A lot of restaurants add sugar to their curry, but I don’t think it’s necessary, nor is the fish sauce. A bit of miso mixed with tamari is a great substitution for fish sauce.

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The Boyfriend and I enjoyed this for lunch today, and the rest of it is going in the freezer for another time. Cook once, eat twice!

Vegan Almond ‘Parmesan’

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This is my favorite vegan ‘Parmesan’ recipe. This recipe is meant to mimic the shaky cheese we all group up with, not the authentic stuff. Blanched almonds are my favorite nut. You could also use almonds with skin, but the visuals won’t be the same and it will have a slight bitterness to it. This ‘cheese’and my Roasted Garlic Marinara go really well together.

Almond Parmesan   paasta 014

  • 1.5 cups blanched almonds
  • 1 tbsp. white miso
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. garlic salt
  • Optional: 1 probiotic capsule

Method:

  • Pulse everything together in a food processor until it reaches the consistency of grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

 

Mostly Raw Eggless Salad (Vegan)

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This is one of my most popular recipes. It was featured years ago on Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Life blog. 

Way back in 2008, I was working as a Vegan and Raw Food Chef in a restaurant in NH. I was creating amazing dishes, but most of them relied so much on nuts and seeds. I was doing a 30 day Raw Challenge at the time, and created this recipe at home. It was so good that I served it at the restaurant and people loved it!

I despise eggs, and have only tasted egg salad once or twice in my life. This recipe is my raw stand in for tofu salad!

  • 3 cups cauliflower, pulsed in food processor
  • 1/2 cups sunflower seeds soaked for 4 hours, drained then pulsed in food processor
  • 1 cups diced celery
  • 1 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cups scallions or 2 T diced red onion or shallot
  • 1/2 cups nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons relish
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black salt (or sea salt)
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cups water
  1. Pulse the cauliflower in processor and set aside in large mixing bowl.
  2. Pulse the sunflower seeds and add to the cauliflower. Add the celery, carrots, scallions nutritional yeast and spices (not the salt or pepper).
  3. In a small bowl, add the tahini, mustard, relish, chia seeds, salt and pepper along with 1/2 cup of water.
  4. Whisk well and pour over the veggies. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Allow mixture to chill for an hour before serving. This actually keeps for around 3 days and does not get watery because of the chia seeds.

It’s great as is, on toast, or however you would enjoy egg or tofu salad!