Sunday, April 20, 2014

Curry Tempeh Tacos

I have yet to share a recipe with you where tempeh is the main ingredient. To be honest, I don't typically use tempeh to make something specific, though it can be turned into everything from veggie burgers to meatless meatballs to something like tofu scramble. It is versatile, but many people, myself included, just like grilling or sauteing it. It has a unique and pleasurable flavor that is just fine by itself, thank you very much.

But there's no reason not to try new things! After having tempeh burgers and tempeh scramble, I decided to try using tempeh in a different way at home. Whenever I feel like trying something new I always seem to gravitate toward tacos. I dunno! I just love wrapping something up in a corn tortilla.

This is another oil-free recipe that's healthy without sacrificing flavor. It is mildly spiced so don't be wary. If, however, spices are your BFF, feel free to add more to your liking!

1 package of tempeh (I used 5-grain), cut into cubes
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A few dashes of Liquid Smoke (optional)
Freshly ground salt
Taco fixins (grated carrot, fresh lettuce, sauteed greens, onions, freshly cut tomatoes, etc.)
Corn or flour tortillas

In a small bowl, combine the vegetable broth and the spices to make a sauce. Whisk well to combine.

Pre-heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook the tempeh cubes for several minutes on each side until they start to brown. Flip the pieces over, browning each side as you go. 

When the tempeh has browned to your liking, add the sauce mixture. Mix well and cook off the liquid. This won't take long. Assemble your tacos and eat!

Makes 3-4 servings.

In the photo above, I used sauteed spinach and scallions for most of the taco filling. I cooked them in a small amount of vegetable broth with salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of pineapple balsamic, and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. They went really well with the tempeh! And, yes, that is diced fresh pineapple on the side. It was great.

This post was created in honor of National Soy Foods Month. For more soy-based recipes, browse my Tofu category. Also, for more taco recipes, take a gander at the Tex Mex one! Check back next week when I share with you a soy-focused recipe round-up!

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Seapoint Farms Roasted Edamame Review

There are so many things that can be done with soy beans. April is National Soy Foods Month and I've been devoting the majority of my posts to sharing my love of soy based items with my readers. One of the simplest ways that we can consume soy beans is as edamame. Edamame are soy beans. They can be eaten in a number of ways including boiled or roasted. Seapoint Farms, for instance, produces a number of varieties of roasted edamame. They contacted me a couple of weeks ago to see if I would be interested in reviewing their products. When I said, "yes!" I quickly received three flavors to try.

First up, traditional dry roasted edamame. If you've tried roasted soy nuts before you should expect a similar but lighter flavor. Roasted edamame are crunchy, dry, and have a flavor like peanuts though noticeably different. I have had regular dry roasted soy nuts before and I much preferred the roasted edamame Seapoint makes.

Next, I tried out their "Crunchy Coated" black edamame. These were, by far, my favorite! They are a bit saltier. The crunchy coating gives it a bit of richness, too. Coconut oil is one of the ingredients, which may explain why I enjoyed them so much (it makes everything taste better!). Unlike the two other varieties they provided, the black "Crunchy Coated" edamame did not have any skins or flakes floating around in the bag. I liked that aspect of the experience a lot, though the flavor really was the best of the three.

Lastly, the berry blend is a trail mix style variety with dried pomegranate infused cranberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and edamame. The sweetness of the fruit mixed well with the savoriness of the edamame. Imagine eating traditional peanut based trail mix but with more flavor. This variety does have added sugar (my new fiend) but when enjoyed in small amounts anything with added sugar can be okay. At 8 grams of sugar per serving, enjoy in moderation. I really enjoyed the fruity pieces, though. Sometimes infused cranberries still taste a lot like cranberries, or they taste like chemicals, but these were very nice. The pomegranate flavor was really spot on.

As Chris and I are gung-ho about working out, weightlifting, etc. (she just signed up for her first 5K!), we were both considerably impressed with the amount of protein in one serving of edamame. Compared, for instance, to the same amount of almonds, the edamame offers twice the protein with about a third of the fat. That's really killer, but expected with something that's soy-based. We enjoyed our samples so much that she just bought a bag of their Wasabi flavored edamame to try out!

For those of you in the Austin area, you can find Seapoint Farms' edamame at Sprouts for less than $2 per bag. That's where we picked up the Wasabi variety. And where we will likely grab another bag of the Crunchy Coated ones whenever we run out!

If you'd like to find out more about Seapoint Farms' products, visit their website. And for a retail outlet selling their edamame near you, consult their Store Locations page.

Want more soy? Check out my latest recipe, Miso Soup with Tofu, Soba, and Cabbage. You can also take a look at all of my tofu based items by clicking here. And check back later this month for another soy-based recipe, this time using tempeh. Thanks for reading! And, don't forget, if you have a soy-based recipe you really enjoy, feel free to share it with me by leaving a comment. I may include it in my final soy-related post, a recipe round-up at the end of April!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Donovan Clan Visit Texas

My mother turned 50 in December. She and her sisters have been celebrating all of their 50th birthdays by going on trips with one another. Instead of going on a cruise or to a more touristy destination, Mom chose to spend her birthday vacation with Chris and I. Well, with her sisters and brother and nieces as well. Hahaha. They're an energetic group and watching them plan and prepare via Facebook was quite fun. Saturday morning, for instance, I woke up to see a photo of them getting ready to leave all posing in their cowgirl hats.

They came in on Saturday but we didn't meet up until Sunday morning. Long flight, trouble finding a restaurant, long wait to eat, etc. Travel issues. Not fun. They came to pick us up Sunday morning. We got to see the crazy house they rented in South Austin. It was built by a couple of architects and had a lot of neat features. I didn't like it very much, though. Kind of had the funhouse effect going on. And there were SO MANY doors. If I lived there I would feel extremely insecure about so many ways through which a burglar could get into my residence. But anyway.

Crazy rental house interior. I am imagining sneaky ninja thieves peering through each of those windows.
Sunday was wine touring day. We drove out to Spicewood and my family tasted wine at two different wineries. Neither Chris nor I participated but we did enjoy the company of my family very much. My mother discovered that the operators of Spicewood Vineyards don't use animal finings or clearing agents in production so if I ever wanted to drink something locally made then they products be a great choice. The woman she spoke to also indicated that they are working on getting an organic certification. Very cool.

The drive back seemed a lot longer than I'm sure it was. We stopped at our place so the fam could meet the dog. He was excited that we did that, for sure. We headed out shortly thereafter and had dinner at Hula Hut on Lake Austin Blvd. Chris and I split some vegetarian fajitas. It was okay. Nothing special. The ambiance is great, though. We spent time at their rental house after that and went home after that.

We got a late start Monday morning. All of us headed down to San Antonio. They had to see the Alamo and do the Riverwalk thing. It's imperative for first time visitors, you know? Chris and I have lived in Texas for about five years now and we still enjoy going there.

Our gang separated for lunch. The fam went to Cafe Ole on the Riverwalk while Chris and I shot up to a new juice bar on Commerce Street. Juice Central has been in business for a few months with that location opening just a few weeks before now. It smelled very new inside! She and I loaded up on healthy food and drink. It tasted great but ended up being pretty pricey. My medium sized juice was about $2 more than it would have been in Austin at Juiceland. Either way, I enjoyed it a lot and was thankful we could find something healthy to eat with all of the treats we had eaten since VegFest a few days before.

Sweet Green and Heart Beet juices from Juice Central with a to-go salad.
When we met back up with the clan at Cafe Ole it started to hail. I didn't expect them to get such an iconic Texas experience while they were in town! Kind of like a special treat!

We walked the Riverwalk after that. Bought souvenirs. You know the deal.

Then we went to GREEN for dinner! If you're a vegetarian in San Antonio it's almost required that you eat there. Every time I go I am impressed by something new. This time I ordered the Italian Enchiladas. The combination of coconut rice, smoky refried black beans, and sweet tomato sauce was unique but so awesomely good. I had a bite of Chris's BBQ sandwich. Their faux meat dripping with spicy, sweet sauce is to die for. I can't resist dessert there, either, so I ordered something different than my norm; a chocolate brownie. Literally, this was the best vegan brownie I had ever eaten. And I don't know how Chris and I missed it before, but apparently they've been serving vegan soft serve for years. She got herself a bowl of the flavor of the day (chocolate peanut butter). This stuff kicks the pants off of every vegan ice cream I've had. It hurts me to say it, believe me, but it's true. I didn't think I could like anything more than Sweet Ritual but Green's vegan soft serve is exquisite. 

Italian Enchiladas from Green at Pearl Brewery.
While I'm talking about them, I should mention that the folks at Green are putting together a vegetarian fast food restaurant called Earth Burger. I feel like if any meat-free endeavor has the possibility to succeed it's one created by this company. They have three Green eateries now and will be opening Earth Burger later this year. They haven't said anything about expanding this idea to anywhere beyond San Antonio but, man, it would be huge. I dream of it happening. If you'd like to help them make this a reality, they're accepting pledges via Kickstarter. More photos from Green and other Texas restaurants can be found in my Texas Restaurants album on Google+.
Here I am, trying on dresses. This is one of those
that I indulged my family in wearing. I think you
can tell by my face that I think I look pretty silly!

My family's visit ended with us spending Tuesday together, too. I worked a half day before meeting them for lunch. They had grilled, kebab style veggies waiting for me when I got there. After we ate we headed over to David's Bridal where they helped me pick out my wedding attire. They all knew going into the experience that I would not come out of it ordering a huge bridal gown. I tried a few on to humor them (see the enclosed photo) and I left having purchased something I really like. I'm not going to show it to you but I will tell you that it's going to be a nice light green color. Which will fit perfectly into our foresty theme!

I am grateful to have had the experience. I don't feel like I'm a very conventional bride necessarily and I don't think there will be many opportunities for me to have a genuine bridal experience considering a) we're having a destination wedding and b) I don't foresee us participating in many heterosexual wedding traditions. This doesn't leave me with much to work with if I want to partake in some sort of wedding custom. I was also very pleased with the staff at David's and my attendant, too. She made some recommendations for me that I didn't necessarily like but she listen and seemed truly interested in what I had to say, what I wanted, etc. She didn't hesitate when I told her I wasn't there for something traditional and immediately asked about colors instead of trying to pressure me into something white, sparkly, and expensive. Bravo.

Some more images from playing dress up.
Honestly, a part of me was not looking forward to it. I've had some body issues in the past and they all stem from being told I'm too skinny for about all of eternity. I hate being told I am too skinny. I have also, until recently, disliked looking at myself in the mirror because I'm not comfortable being so thin (what, with everyone constantly bringing it up). I'm not trying to sound like one of those girls who complains about eating whatever I want and not being able to gain weight. I'm not condescending like that. But skinny shaming used to bother me a lot. Perhaps because I also thought I was too skinny. These weird issues were why I decided to start lifting weights when Chris started running. There were a few instances during the dress shopping experience that I felt like I was being teased regarding my size, but for once in my life I found myself looking at my body and actually appreciating what I saw. If you would like to read about the other stuff I've been doing to get ready for my vegan wedding, click here.

The trip culminated with my making dinner for them back at the house. Or rather, I created the menu and mom, Chris, and I prepared the food. Nothing hugely special. Bruschetta with vegan cheese, pasta with homemade marinara sauce, grilled asparagus, and drunk berries for dessert. They all seemed to like it though Chris and I felt like it wasn't our best work. But so long as they liked it I guess I liked it, too.

While I very much liked seeing my family this week it was exhausting having them here. We were constantly going somewhere or doing something. It's like I worked or volunteered over the weekend instead of taking time off. Chris and I are both looking forward to doing nothing this weekend. I'm sure Rusty is, too. And by nothing I mean I'll be cooking all weekend. I spotted Field Roast's new breakfast sausage links at Whole Foods on Tuesday. They will go most excellently with the pancakes I'll be making to photograph for my next submission to All About Vegan Food. I'm creating another recipe for them this weekend, too, a bonus for their monthly newsletter. We also need another loaf of bread made up and have a ton of veggies leftover from our CSA box from last week! Sounds like a wonderful way to spend the weekend, don't you think?

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

2014 Texas VegFest Recap

Yesterday Austin played host to the 3rd annual Texas VegFest. I am happy to say that I have attended all three. I have fond memories of them all. It was through Texas VegFest that I first had Sweet Ritual ice cream, that I met Terry Hope Romero, and that I discovered Vegeria restaurant from San Antonio.

This year felt a little more laid back than before. Since we're trying to be healthy individuals these days we sampled only things we felt like we couldn't pass up. The same went for the food we bought from the vendors. We couldn't pass up a vegan ham 'n cheese kolache and a maple bacon cupcake from Capital City Bakery, though. Both were exceptionally tasty.

Me and my cupcake. Yummy!

Like in years before, I came across a number of products I was not yet familiar with. Amazing Grass sampled their new Raw Reserve protein powders. It's made with all raw greens from both land and sea, contains probiotics, and has 14 grams of protein per serving. The gentleman at the table said they should be in stores in Austin in less than two weeks. They were being sold at VegFest for $30 each, so about $1 per serving. It was flavorful and not clumpy, which is something I definitely look for in protein powders, lol.

But the two coolest things I encountered had to do with gardening. The first is The Ground Up's vegan compost. Yes, vegan compost! Veganically grown products are the new thing in the retail industry. Well, now you can grow your own herbs and veggies at home without using dirt and compost that are chicken poop, manure, or bloodmeal based. Hooray! And then there is the Tower Garden, an aeroponic gardening system that can grow 20 plants in a very small area. It seems like an excellent value for the investment, currently $525 though they have financing available, too.

I had a great time, as usual, and am now looking forward to Austin's other vegan event, the Lone Star Veggie Chili Championships. November can't come soon enough!

We were supposed to meet up with the Donovan clan (my mother and her siblings) last night after they arrived in Austin but their flight was delayed and they had trouble finding a BBQ joint. They'll be picking us up in a little while. Today will be jam packed with activities including wineries, food trucks, and bars on 6th street. Tomorrow, our gang will be heading down to San Antonio. They'll be seeing the Alamo, walking the Riverwalk, and dining at our favorite vegetarian restaurant, Green. Then, on Tuesday, they'll be coming with me to try on wedding dresses before I entertain them with my culinary skills at the house they're renting. It's going to be fun!

In the meantime, though, below is a slideshow featuring all of the pictures I took (captions included) at VegFest. If you can't see the slideshow, open the album at this link. Thanks for reading! I hope you had a great, time, too. If you went to VegFest and published a write-up yourself, leave me the link in a comment. I'd love to check out your story!

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Miso Soup With Tofu, Soba, and Cabbage

April is National Soy Foods Month and I have taken it upon myself to devote some time to writing about ingredients like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and similar items derived from soy. First up is tofu, which is quite possibly my most favorite protein ever.

If you have been reading my blog or social networking accounts for any length of time you have probably witnessed my adoration of tofu. This hasn't always been the case. Before I learned how to cook I didn't care for the stuff much at all. Whenever I ordered a dish with tofu in it at a restaurant, it was presented without being seasoned, soft and mushy. Bland. Not something I cared for. But that doesn't have to be the case!

Tofu is a soy based bean curd. Sounds great, right? Hahaha. No, really, once you learn how to use tofu it becomes an extremely versatile ingredient capable of taking on any number of flavors. For instance, you can turn silken tofu into chocolate pie, extra firm tofu can easily become a dish similar to scrambled eggs, and marinated and grilled tofu can become the star of your dinner. Which is what we're going to be doing here.

This recipe is easy, flavorful, and extremely healthy. You won't miss the junk, trust me. To make the tofu, you will need a naturally non-stick grill pan. I absolutely LOVE mine. We bought it for $50 from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Totally worth the investment. It cleans in a breeze and grills most things easily without any oil whatsoever. It's like a dream. This is the one I bought, just so you know!

So, let's get to it!

1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 10 minutes
1/4 rice or white vinegar
1 small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced (see directions)
2 bundles of buckwheat (soba) noodles, cooked according to package instructions
Mellow white miso, 1 tablespoon per bowl
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh salt and pepper
1/4 cup oil-free, sugar-free vegetable broth

Begin by slicing the tofu into eight pieces. Marinate in the liquid aminos and vinegar. I do this right inside my tofu press after I drain the water out. Let sit for ten minutes, then flip the tofu slices. Marinate another ten minutes.

My notes about the cabbage are as follows. I have prepared this dish with both green cabbage and bok choy. I prefer the cabbage, but the bok choy is nice, too. If using the bok choy, use the whole head. If your green cabbage is massive, consider using less or adding more seasoning after a taste test.

Slice the cabbage thinly and in lengths that are not too long for eating in one bite. Add them to a non-stick pot with the 1/4 cup broth, ground ginger, and white pepper. Also add a few shakes of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about five minutes. Stir and repeat. Cook until the greens are tender. If there is liquid in the pot, remove lid and let evaporate.

Preheat your grill pan over medium heat. Gently lay the tofu slices on top. You don't need much of the liquid at this stage; the tofu will have absorbed much of it. Cook on each side for 4-6 minutes until nice, crisp grill marks have appeared.

To assemble your soup, add a heaping tablespoon of miso to each bowl. Add 3/4 cups boiling water and whisk to dissolve miso. Then add your cooked soba noodles, as much as is your preference (about 1 cup works great), and spoon in some of the cabbage. Stir a little to combine. Top with 2 slices of the grilled tofu per bowl. If you feel like you need more liquid, add a bit more hot water and stir. Eat with a fork and sip the broth as you go!

If you have extra greens and noodles you can prepare leftovers for lunch the next day. Add the noodles, cabbage, tofu, and miso and don't add the water until ready to eat. Or just combine the cabbage, noodles, and leftover tofu and add some more liquid aminos and skip the miso broth. It's nearly just as good.

Chris and I are totally loving this dish. It has replaced my Smoky Kale Tacos as our weekly repeated meal! Sometimes we even have it twice in one week... But I digress. Eat your tofu, and be happy.

Makes 4 servings.

Be on the look out for my next soy devoted post! Do you have a tofu recipe you'd like to share? Leave me a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out! In fact, I just may include it in a recipe round-up devoted to soy foods at the end of this month!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Veganized Recipe: Rachael Ray Chinese Barbecue Lettuce Wraps

This guest post is written by Alexa Krueger, the owner/chef at Vibrant Foodie cooking classes, teaching people to make healthy and delicious whole food, plant based meals. She's been vegan since 2010 and is a RYT200 yoga and meditation instructor. Alexa says, "Wellness is the foundation to happiness, and that begins with respect for ourselves by caring for our mind and body." I invited her to veganize a recipe by a celebrity chef or a non-vegan blogger for my bi-monthly series of Veganized Recipes. Please enjoy her new take on this Rachael Ray dish!

For this dish, I thought it would be fun to veganize a family favorite, lettuce wraps. Rachael Ray's version uses a pre-purchased hoisin sauce. I like to make my own flavoring for the filling and then use a dipping sauce to add a different variation. You can leave out the sriracha if you do not like spicy food and it will still be delicious.

Veganized Rachael Ray Chinese Barbecue Lettuce Wraps

12 oz block of fresh tofu, pressed, then coarsely chopped
6 oz fresh mushrooms coarsely chopped
1 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1" x 1" piece of ginger, grated
3 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
3 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2-1 tsp sriracha or garlic chili paste

4-5 scallions chopped, including white part
1 cup chopped peanuts, optional
1 or 2 heads of iceberg lettuce, cored, cut into halves or thirds

Add the tamari, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha to a small bowl and whisk together, set aside.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, add tofu and mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are soft and the tofu is beginning to brown. Add water chestnuts, bell pepper, garlic and ginger to the pan and saute for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tamari/vinegar/oil/sriracha mixture to the pan and heat through.

Garnish with chopped scallions and/or chopped peanuts. Serve with lettuce and your choice of dipping sauce. We suggest Thai peanut sauce or sweet and sour sauce. Enjoy!

If you are a vegan blogger interested in re-envisioning a non-vegan recipe for the Lizz Delicious blog and this Veganized Recipes column, please contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this page or via email at contact at lizzdelicious dot com.

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