Vegan miso ramen with brown rice + buckwheat noodles and mushrooms

veganramenWell, already on day five of doing my plant based cleanse and I feel really good and am down 4lbs! The one problem I have is that after reading “Eat to live” I found the recipes pretty blah….of course I like to expand on the basics and trying to feed my family the same thing I eat, I had to innovate. So today’s recipe is based on things my fam already loves, while sticking to Dr. Furhman’s advice. I went to the Vietnamese market by my house and found all kinds of great stuff! If you do your homework, you can find amazing and healthy Eastern products on the cheap. Asian cookery is a good one to look on when one is pondering a vegan lifestyle, as they don’t really eat any dairy, and they seem to have vegetarian products really dialed. Like in the China study, eating plant based is necessity in some regions, and a side effect is great health plus Asian cultures been doing it a lot longer than Western diet experts were preaching it, that is for sure. Plus going to the Asian market is fun, the kids love it, and it’s almost like travelling to another place, depending on how deep routed the community is, that your store is located, mine happens to be awesome, like “I don’t know what this is” awesome. Try it and this, I think you’ll like em!
You will need
1 package or four bundles buckwheat noodles, mine had brown rice added, never had em’ thought I’d try them. If you aren’t familiar with these noodles google it, they are loaded with health benefits.
4 Tbsp. Miso paste, I used Japanese Nagano, and it is a blend of both white and red.
8 cups of water
1 Tbsp. Soy sauce
4 large shitake mushroom
½ lb. firm tofu, sliced
1 bunch enoki mushrooms, if you can’t find these use a different variety, these are just super cool, and can be added on top without cooking
4 green onions, sliced thin
1 cup shelled edamame, I get mine at Trader Joe’s already cooked and shelled.
Optional stuff: Sesame seed, nori, carrots shredded, or use anything you like to add on top. All my toppings were vegan of course.
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Method:
First things first, I did not use dashi stock which is traditional in miso soup, it’s totally delish, but it contains bonito, which is dried tuna flakes, so I left it out to maintain vegan status. I first cooked my noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes, rinsed with cold water and set aside. Next, in a medium pot, I put my water with the soy, shitake mushrooms, and white parts of onions, bring to a boil reduce to medium, add tofu and cook 10 minutes. After researching I learned that miso should never be boiled, it will reduce its nutritional power, I never knew this, so make sure if you have anything that needs to be boiled to add that first. Add your miso, making sure that it all gets dissolved. In four bowls, divide noodles evenly, take mushrooms out of broth and slice, add those to bowls, add tofu, and other toppings of choice, with a bit of prep this is an incredible meal, which can be done in 30 minutes or less! Domo arigato Mr. roboto!

Golden beets with amaranth and raw hazelnut pesto

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Whoa Nelly, it’s basil season! Green herbage in general is exceptional this time of year in the Pacific Northwest. I scored today at the farmer’s market I really did! I got some gorgeous “loose” meaning not “perfect” golden beets, whatever a perfect beet is, for $1 dollar a lb! I got the most gorgeous bunch of amaranth and basil for $2 dollar a bunch, which basically looks like an herbal bridal bouquet. Of course our friends at the hazelnut booth had their wonderful raw hazelnuts, so I was set. In my never ending quest to lose 30 lbs. and be free of my ever annoying body issues, I have been trying to adhere to Dr. Furhman’s 6 week all plant based, non-processed diet. Well actually I am on day two, and gotta say it isn’t so bad, it’s kinda great, I am of course not cutting my coffee consumption, and only reducing my beer, we went to the Oregon brewer’s fest yesterday…haha! So today’s recipe is entirely VEGAN! My friend Jenn finally convinced me to give it try after we discussed our similar baby weight, retaining weight while nursing trials, she finally lost her remaining lbs. by doing Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, which she still quite strictly adheres to. Don’t be fooled this salad is delicious, healthy, plant based, oil free, and local! It would be great topped with goat cheese or grilled chicken or fish.
You will need:
2 medium beets, I used golden, I boiled them skin on for about 25 minutes, if you cut them first it will take less time to cook them. Cool, peel, slice.
2 cups of amaranth leaves or greens of choice, arugula would be great
¼ cup diced red peppers, mainly for color, use tomatoes if you prefer
Hazelnut pesto dressing:
¼ cup raw hazelnuts, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water
¼ red wine vinegar
¼ water
2tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
Ground black pepper
Blend like the dickens, meaning till smooth, if you have a vitamix that is easy…if you have a stick blender like me it takes a bit of effort but this is totally amazing, considering its low on salt and only has the natural unprocessed oils from the hazelnuts.
Assemble anyway you like and eat! Serves two as a meal.
As for my quest for health, I will keep you updated, but I do like learning all types of cookery and I think the more you know about each genre the better you get, and I am very new to this type of cooking but thus far I find it fascinating!
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Cornflake semi-fried chicken tenders

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This dish right here is probably one of the reasons I have been married so long! This hands down is my husband’s favorite meal ever. I learned this early on in our relationship, his mom makes her own version, and this is what my husband would choose when it was his birthday to eat ever year. Mine is similar but different as I add cornflakes to the mix. My Dad used to make cornflake chicken for us when I was little for dinner when my mom was working the grill at our restaurant and it was dad’s turn to watch us. I love cornflakes in general but they take on a whole new identity when used in chicken breading. A very well-known biscuit shop here in pdx puts cornflakes on their famous breasts that lie between their homemade biscuits. Never underestimate this cold cereal its uses go far beyond a bowl and milk. I call this “semi-fried” since I shallow fry it and then put it in the oven, this cuts way down on the grease factor but still has all the flavor of its full fried friends.
You will need:
2 lbs chicken tenders, trimmed, you can use full breasts just remove the tender then cut the rest to a similar size for even cooking
½ cup AP flour
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
Dash of hot sauce
½ cup cornflakes, crushed
½ bread crumbs
1 tsp salt and pep
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp dried herbs of choice
½ tsp Spanish paprika
½ cup cooking oil, high smoke point such as peanut
First thing first, after your chicken is trimmed and ready season all with the spices, both sides, don’t be stingy. Next in a medium bowl whip your egg with the milk and hot sauce, set aside. Next combine bread crumbs with cornflakes on a large plate. Set up a breading station, first the flour, then the egg wash, and finally a good dunk in the bread/flakes. Repeat until all the pieces of chicken are well coated. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat, add half of your oil, when shimmering add two pieces of chicken at a time, cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side then put on a cookie sheet in the oven set to 300 degrees. When your oil starts to look low add the remaining oil and finish frying the rest of your chicken, then place in oven. While your chicken is in the oven prepare gravy if you like, I use the oil I fried the chicken in, if there is more than about 2 tbsp left drain the excess, add two tbsp. of your flour you used to dredge your chicken in. Over medium heat, cook your oil and flour till golden, add two cups of chicken stock, bring to a boil and you have gravy! My mom always called this “crackling” gravy, as it utilized the crackins from frying your chicken. I served ours with Yukon gold mashers and fresh, local, steamed green beans. So good the colonel himself would second guess his recipe! Since it is without skin and full fry it is a healthier option when you have that craving…..not health food by any means….but an improvement…a delicious, crowd pleasing improvement. All things in moderation my friends.
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Better than having a V-8, 8 veggie Bolognese

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I don’t know how many times I hear or see folks rushing over to their local Italian chain restaurant to pay way too much to eat microwaved pasta that is easily replicated (or made better) at home for a much more modest price tag, not only in price but in quality ingredients. Let’s face it, Italian food isn’t the most health conscious but it is one of the most popular genres when dining out. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of amazing places to eat Italian that are totally worth it, but if you want spaghetti and meat sauce, it is a great thing to make at home from scratch, not to mention it is ridiculously easy to sneak loads of healthy veggies in and no one notices….I can’t really express the amount of joy I feel as I watch my six year old munching noodles with sauce on her face, she has no idea that she is eating 8 veggies 4 of which she normally won’t touch. So here is a great and fast Bolognese for anytime, this makes a big batch so you can split it and use the other half in a lasagna to freeze or even a topping for easy French bread pizza. So toss out the jar of sugar laden spaghetti sauce and try this!
You will need:
1 lb of ground meat, you choose, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, whatever your heart desires.
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib o’ celery, diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms or button, or whatever you like, diced
1 cup eggplant, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 6oz can tomato paste (full of lycopene, google those health benefits)
½ cup dry wine, I use pinot grigio, but you could use chianti
1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp each fresh basil and flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
Whatever pasta, cous cous, quinoa, rice noodles, spaghetti squash that you want as a base for this yummy witches’ brew of yum.
In a large dutch oven (I use a le creuset) over medium heat brown your meat, you may need a bit of olive oil to start it, especially if it is lean. Drain if necessary, add onion and garlic, cook till onions are translucent about 7 minutes, add carrot, celery, eggplant, sauté 5 minutes, add zucchini, both tomato products, wine, and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes, add a bit of water if it is too thick. Turn heat down to low and cook an additional 20 minutes, at that point you can blend to get a smooth texture, I use a hand held blender, but you can put have of your sauce in a blender and pulse a few times. That is optional, I do it to make a smooth consistency, but I don’t blend the whole mixture, I want some texture, after this last step I like to add the fresh herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Use sauce to top whatever you like, on more eggplant, or whole wheat pasta, or ravioli, the choice is yours, top with parmesano reggiano or pecorino romano and dig it……you won’t ever need to order it out again!
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Greek salad “Horitaki”

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Way back in 1999, the fall after I graduated high school, I got to go to Greece with my Mom, Dad, and sisters. We landed in Athens and stayed at a quaint little hotel right in the middle of the action. The plaka was full of life, exotic products, and restaurants. One thing I noticed at every restaurant was always a plate of horitaki next to carafes of delicious local wine. We later got to visit the town where my dad’s relatives lived called Akrata, it is a fisherman’s village on the coast and unencumbered by the mobs of tourist, full of culture it was like taking a walk back in time, the salad however was the same, Greek olive oil is so amazing, its fruity, aromatic and totally amazing, I remember wishing I could take home one of the five gallon drums they sold in the tiny stores where the even tinier widows would look at me with as much curiosity and I had for them. Until I actually went to Greece, I thought Greek salad had lettuce, I was mistaken. A proper Greek salad contains; tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, feta, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and usual dried oregano and maybe some fresh parsley. For my version today I used:
1 large heirloom tomato, any type will do as long as it is ripe, I sliced mine thin but traditionally it is chopped into large chunks.
1/2 English cucumber sliced thin, can also be chopped
a few thin slices of onion
2 oz of feta crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 kalamata olives
salt and pepper
pinch dried oregano
tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley
1 pepperoncini sliced (optional)
Serves two
There are many variations on this classic, but I think it is best in its simplest and purest form, when the produce is fresh this salad is at its best and Summer is the prime time to serve this. Best really to not over complicate it, it can also easily be turned into a main if you serve it with some rustic bread or mix it with pasta for a great pasta salad. Want to send it over the top? Invest in Greek olive oil, as wonderful as Italian or California olive oil is, there is something special about the oil of my heritagegreeksal1….opa!

Southwestern style chopped salad with homemade tomatillo ranch

IMG_5499Yes I shamelessly love shopping at the grocery outlet in my neighborhood….their beer selection is better than anywhere not to mention cheaper, the same stuff can cost you upwards of $1 + at the Wholefoods, unless wholefoods is running a promo. They carry tons of local produce, milk (dairy and non-dairy) organics, and cage free, organic eggs. Occasionally I will get really fabulous foreign imports or Earth friendly cleaning products. Also they have one of my favorite cashiers ever, he only works weekends and he makes everyone (even drunkards on motorized scooters) feel like family. Getting rung up by him can take upwards of 7 minutes or so….hard to wait sometimes, but always worth it, he may be wearing an ascot that day or a bandana, always bold in his fashion prowess he is a kindred spirit and I like his style, he makes a cashier job much more….he makes it a performance, and we patrons a captive audience. If he ever reads this, he knows who he is….Thank you for brightening mine and everyone else’s day. I remember when we first moved here and I knew nothing and nobody it was one of the first places I went to shop and I was wearing my son (he was 8 weeks old) and Ava who was 4 and he helped us feel at home and even “Welcomed” us to Portland. So today most of my food was bought at the GC, in the Hollywood district in PDX. Ava wanted chicken legs so made the recipe for my Wings?! We don’t want no stinking wings! (poulet “Legs” aux Buffalo stylie). I decided these would be great deboned, as like a Southwestern chopped salad, one like I order, when we are at our local pub….mine of course will be better since I can pick exactly what I want in it!
There was a plethora of treasures today at my store and besides the hassle of the prep work this salad is easy! So what I got is the chicken of course (recipe above). Two hearts of romaine, cleaned, chopped, ½ cup each diced jicama, carrot, celery, red pepper, corn, ¼ cup each radish, thin, green onions, avocado, 1 can black beans, rinsed, ¼ cup diced olives, shredded cheese (I used cabot’s chipotle cheddar)use what you like though, leave out what you don’t! I made a creamy cilantro style dressing, 1 clove garlic, ½ small onion, diced, 4 tbsp balsamic, ½ juice one lime, 1 tsp salt, ½ bunch cilantro, pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, ½ cup Mexican crema, or sour cream, or yogurt…..blend till smooth. Top salad with tortilla chips if you like em’. Serves four as an entrée, eight as a side dish.
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Faki (Greek Lentil Soup), also known as don’t “faki” with the old man’s soup!

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Yep another install of lentil soup, but this is no run of mill “something I think up” soup. This is the real deal Greek style lentil soup that is simple yet outrageously good. You need nothing particularly special for this, more important it is the process that deems the desired result. I have a little story for you… about this soup, my dad, Nick, he loves the stuff….we didn’t eat it that often growing up but when we would have it or eat it at a restaurant and it was done to pop’s specifications it was always a work of art, and seemed to bring him more joy than the most expensive steak house meal. Lentils, aren’t art you say? Well try this then decide that. One brazen afternoon after I had finished my tenure at culinary tech college I decided I would whip up a “new” and “improved” version that I was sure would please my dad and he would never want to go back to the “old” way again. Knowing his longstanding love affair with Campbell soup’s bean with bacon, I added BACON! Bacon makes everything better right? WRONG, dead wrong….he ate a bite and his face fell, “did you add bacon?” “Yep, I did”. “It doesn’t have bacon, it never has meat in it.” He turned his Grecian nose up at it and never asked me to make it again…I have since gone back to the original and even made a few batches for him to try and I finally came up to with right formula. This experience taught me a valuable lesson, not everything is better with bacon, in fact the really good stuff needs nothing superfluous at all. Some things are about tradition, culture, nostalgia, there are some things my friends that we just can’t improve on. So today is my faki style lentil soup redemption, and if you’ve never had them this way, you are in for a treat.

My dad on the right, with his uncles and my grandfather (middle in the plaid).  Never mess with tradition
My dad on the right, with his uncles and my grandfather (middle in the plaid). Never mess with tradition

1 lb bag of dried brown lentils, yep old run o’ mill $1 a bag kind
1 large onion, diced
5 yes 5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
10 cups of stock or water or both, I used 5 cups chicken stock and 5 cups of water
1 6oz can tomato paste
6 whole cloves
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp red pepper flake
¼ cup olive oil, extra for drizzling
4tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic till translucent, add carrots, celery, red pepper flakes and tomato paste, cook 2 minutes, add all of your liquid, rinsed and inspected lentils (you don’t want tiny rocks in your soup), bring to a boil, then simmer 1 ½ hours. Add salt (adjust to taste, depending on how salty your cooking liquid is), pepper, and oregano, add vinegar. Drizzle with a bit more oil and serve, you can add chopped parsley to beautify it, but not if you are serving it to my dad…maybe just a bit more dried oregano and maybe a drizzle of hot sauce (go with personal preference). This is great with a rustic bread or even your pantry staple saltines.
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Asian persuasion cold noodle salad

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Summertime and the livin is HOT! No air conditioning, and high humidity can totally change my dinner menu that is for sure. Tonight’s recipe du jour is a delicious, veggie filled, healthy cold noodle salad that basically take having to use the oven completely out of the equation. I don’t know if you would call this fusion necessarily as I just sorta put a bunch of stuff in that I had on hand and mimicked the flavors I love most from a couple different genres of Asian cookery. Either way with a bit of prep work you too can serve this lovely salad at your next event. Gonna have gluten free diners and vegans? We gotcha covered as this salad can be both! I love Asian cultures and cuisines and this is my attempt to combine flavor profiles and ingredients I have on hand to make a great summer salad, I am in no way claiming that this is authentic….it is however super tasty!
You will need:
8 oz Maifun noodles (put in a big bowl and cover with boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water, place back in bowl)
3 cups veggies of choice, I used edamame, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red peppers, cucumbers, green onions, and a few heirloom grape tomatoes that I bought locally. I shredded most of mine or just chopped them. You can use whatever you like, you can even buy coleslaw mix (without dressing) and use that! Add these to noodles.
I made one recipe of my “dippy sauce” from my Lumpia recipe https://lollipopsicle.net/2013/05/16/guam-inspired-lumpia-this-aint-yo-mammas-egg-roll/ , and used the rest of oil from making my fried shallots http://www.thaitable.com/thai/recipe/fried-shallots, for the dressing, if you don’t want to make the shallots just use ¼ cup salad oil. Pour over noodles and veg.
I topped my salad with some sesame seeds, fried shallots (recipe above), and some lime juice. Easy enough! Even better if you make it the day before! Try it…I think you will like it.

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Elote (Mexican corn on the cob) or finding new and interesting things to do with a George Foreman Grill.

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I have a confession….I have a new obsession.  It is Elote!  Elote is a street food from Mexico, basically grilled corn on the cob smothered in mayo (yuckers) or crema which is Mexican table cream (yummers), add some cojita cheese (I used feta, which is a totally reasonable substitution, even Parmesan would work…think salty), sprinkled with hot sauce, or chili powder depending on who’s cookin the grub (preference), top that sucker with some cilantro and a squeeze of lime.  Corn season is on the horizon and I love using it when it’s fresh and delicious, I cut the kernels off the cob, I hate getting corn stuck in my teeth, and served it with corn chips (cornplosion!) but traditionally it is lathered and slathered and eatin right off the old cob.  Great for when you are already gonna fire up the grill this corn is the perfect accompaniment to any grilled main, or as an appetizer.  I wasn’t firing up the grill, so I dusted off my George Foreman grill, and used it to “grill” our cobbers.  Seriously, my George Foreman grill is never used for its original purpose, I think it’s actually real terrible for cooking steaks or chicken, but hotdogs, bratwursts, Panini, or corn, it is quite a useful tool, especially if you don’t want to take the time to fire up the grill (optimal way, in my opinion), or do a boring boil (reduces nutrients).  So if you have one of these, anyone married in the last decade probably received one as a gift, I did, try it for corn on the cob (remove the husk first), it takes about ten minutes to achieve the char I wanted, but it worked great!  So seriously pull out the GF grill and use for corn…weird…yes…..but innovation comes from thinking outside the box!elote1

Grilled tuna steak with mango salsa

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Summer is here! With the season in full swing what is better then a grilled fish recipe? A grilled fish recipe with mango salsa of course! This is one of my favorite recipes of all time and I have been making it for several years, it’s light, tasty, and colorful and perfect if you are having guests over. I made this back in the summer of 2009 for a party with some co-workers and friends at my friend Adam’s house. That was an awesome summer and I have many a great memory from that time of life, so today I share with you a delicious, and easy fish recipe that has a great deal of nostalgia associated with it.

You will need:
4 Tuna steak 4-6 oz each
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Season your fish with salt, pepper and garlic then lightly oil each fillet, over medium high heat on a grill or grill pan, cook fish for about 3-4 minutes on each side (mid rare). Set aside.
Salsa:
2 small mangos or 1 large, chopped into small dice
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
1 jalepeno, diced small
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Mix ingredients together, can be made the day before. Serve on top of fish fillets and serve with lime wedges. The perfect dish for hot summer nights.

cooking this dish for friends back in 2009, Don't exactly know why I was pulling that face or wearing that shirt...haha!
cooking this dish for friends back in 2009, Don’t exactly know why I was pulling that face or wearing that shirt…haha!