Tag Archives: gluten free

Say Pseudo Cheese! Gluten-free, Low-Fat, Vegan Broccoli Rabe & Sundried Tomatoes Mac n’ Cheese

mac

Mac n’ Cheese is one of my favorite foods.  I get crazy over this stuff.  When I became more plant-based mac n’ cheese was not on my menu.   Although I missed it (especially my uncle’s mac n’ cheese) my body didn’t miss what it did to me afterwards, so I searched for a healthier version.  I went to a couple vegan restaurants, but didn’t find one I was crazy about.  This prompted me to make my own.  Plus I’m trying to go more gluten-free these days, so the best way to meet my criteria was in the Stay Classy & Fit kitchen.

Servings 8, Inspired by Oh She Glows Cheeze Sauce 

Ingredients

  • 1 8oz box of Quinoa Pasta Shells

Cheese Sauce

  • ½ cup nutritional yeast (The main ingredient for your cheese sauce.  You can find this at Whole Foods)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp sea salt (add more if needed)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup pasta water (from cooked pasta)

Optional – You can add any of your favorite veggies and seasonings, but this mix is a winner.

  • 1 cup of frozen broccoli rabe
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • ¼ cup of sundried tomatoes
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Boil quinoa pasta.  Drain the pasta when it’s al dente, but reserve about 2 cups of pasta water and set aside. 
  2. Sautee garlic, broccoli rabe, and sundried tomatoes over medium heat.  Set aside when cooked. 
  3. Blend all cheese ingredients in the blender to make it extra creamy including 1 ¼ cup of pasta water (save the rest of the pasta water for later).
  4. Then heat cheese sauce over medium-low heat.  Stir until the sauce thickens.
  5. Add pasta and stir.  If you want to put more moisture add a little bit of pasta water and stir. 
  6. Then add sautéed broccoli rabe and sundried tomatoes. 
  7. Sprinkle oregano and red pepper flakes
  8. Say Pseudo Cheese!

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

Oh Thanksgiving – a day for family, football, and lots of feasting.  I attended typical Thanksgiving dinners with turkey, stuffing, and gravy.  What on earth did I eat then?  Rule #1 if you’re a vegetarian or vegan attending a party – eat before you go or bring a vegetarian dish.  Trust me – people will appreciate a healthy dish in the mix.

The first Thanksgiving meal was at Richmond VA.  I made a pumpkin cheesecake that happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free.  Tastes like the real deal.  This was so easy to make.  I got the recipe from this video.  Give it a try!  You’ll be impressed.  My family absolutely loved it.  They didn’t believe it was a cheesecake without cheese.

pumpkin

I brought over eggplants I had in the fridge.  Forgot to take a photo, but I basically placed them in the oven for about 20 minutes and had it with sauce.  My mother-in-law then turned it into a sweet and sour eggplant salad for me. It was delish!

The next day I had my second Thanksgiving meal at my Uncle Mark’s lovely home.  They had turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and all of the above except for a vegetable dish.  I had a feeling about this, so I brought over a big dish of roasted vegetables with  beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, and white potatoes.  It’s seasoned with fresh thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sea salt, olive oil, and pepper.  They were soft in the inside but crispy on the outside.  Let’s just say there was nothing left at the end of the night.

veg

I was going to make a lentil loaf with cranberry sauce as another vegan dish, but there was so much food.  I’ll table that for another blog post, maybe for Christmas.

And then there are Chinese dishes.  One of Mama Chiang’s famous appetizers is her pork stuffed vegetables with oyster sauce.  Of course she wouldn’t leave out her plant-eating daughter, so she made me a special dish.  Instead of meat, she stuffed the vegetables with a secret tofu mix.  It’s better than the meat version.  It’s like a light hors d’oeuvre.  The slightly sweet topping was a perfect combo with peppers, tofu, eggplant, and even bitter melon.  I don’t like bitter melon, so my mom didn’t want to torture me.  She also made me yummy green beans, so I didn’t feel left out from the fam digging into the green bean casserole.  Mama Chiang is always so thoughtful.

stuffedtofu

Being aware of what I eat this year made me appreciate the time with my family.  When I was a kid and up until now, my uncle always made an American Thanksgiving dinner.  I always looked forward to it because I pretty much ate Chinese food every day.  I realized it’s more than the American meal.  It’s an American tradition where I can really catch up with my family and be thankful.

My Super Duper Foods

There are a couple foods that I eat religiously to give me super powers.  Well, super powers as in energy and strength. I feel like Mario when he gets invincible powers from a starman.  So what are superfoods?  Superfood is really a marketing term used for describing foods that are high in nutrients to give you superior health benefits.  Here are a few super duper foods that help me stay classy and fit:

KALE – Remember when Popeye eats a can of spinach he gets ginormous arms that are too big for his body.  First off, you won’t get a lot of nutrients if your veggies are in a can.  Raw is the way to go. Secondly, Kale can give you as much or more benefits than spinach.  I eat about two servings of kale 2-3 times a week.  I incorporate kale in my meals, soups, and snacks.  Kale chips are delicious, so replace those bags of potato chips and Doritos with kale chips.  Kids love them!  I can tell you I eat a big bowl of raw kale a day before a race.  No pasta for me.  With kale, I feel 100 times lighter but it still gives me the stamina I need for a race.  If you’re looking to build calcium Kale can give you more per calorie than milk.  As for iron, it gives you more per calorie than beef.  Kale is the new beef.  It’s also an anti-inflammatory food that fights against inflammatory-related issues such as arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.  I can rave on and on about kale, but this infographic says it all.

GOJI BERRIES – Growing up, Mama Chiang used to make me a nice bowl of soup with goji berries.  Sometimes she’ll make desserts or drinks with goji berries.  As a child I was told this is good for your vision and it keeps you looking young.  Well, fast forward a couple years later, I found out that it does a lot more.  Goji berries are packed with vitamins, protein with 18 amino acids, and antioxidants.  I love sprinkling these berries over salads and oatmeal.  I especially love to eat these by itself as a snack.  You’ll find that it curbs your appetite, gives you energy, and keeps your mind sharp (definitely brain food).

QUINOA – I heard that this is “God’s gift to vegans” and I totally agree.  Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein with 8 essential amino acids and it’s gluten-free.  This is definitely the type of grain you want to incorporate in your diet.  I’m slowly getting my parents to replace white rice with quinoa.  It’s versatile, so you can make just about anything with quinoa.  You can make stuffed red peppers, quinoa crackers, breakfast quinoa porridge, or throw quinoa into your salads.  The possibilities are endless.

CHIA SEEDS – Chia Seeds are tiny black seeds that are grown from a flowering plant known as Salvia hispanica.  One tablespoon of these seeds punches in a good amount of Omega-3.  For vegetarians that don’t eat fish chia seeds will give you the Omega-3 oil that you need for your body.  Athletes – chia seeds can hydrate your body longer and provides the protein that you need for intense workouts.  Simply soak the chia seeds in water and it becomes a gel like the image below.  The gel allows your body to absorb carbohydrates to slowly covert them into simple sugars, so it controls your blood sugar.  They make you feel fuller because they absorb 10 times their weight of water.  It doesn’t have any flavor, so I love to sprinkle these over my salads and soups.  I particularly like to coat my bananas with chia seeds.  There are plenty of dessert recipes that incorporate chia seeds such as pudding or baked goods.

HEMP – There are three types of hemp that I like – hemp milk, hemp seeds, and hemp oil.  It works just like Chia Seeds providing you plenty of protein with essential amino acids, calcium, and Omega-3.  It curbs your appetite, it prevents inflammation, and it’s good for your skin.  It has a nutty taste, so I love sprinkling hemp seeds in fruit such as bananas and kiwis.  They are good in breakfast bars and oatmeal.  I found blending hemp milk with smoothies help me recover faster after intense workouts.  Instead of using too much olive oil I use hemp oil for cooking and salads.

KOMBUCHA – When I was younger, I found these odd-looking jars in the basement.  From time to time, my grandpa would drink these for breakfast.  I thought it was one of his strange Chinese medicinal drinks.  I found out it was Kombucha.  Kombucha is a fermentation of a sweetened tea with cultures such as good bacteria and yeast.  This is actually known to detoxify your body, increase your immunity, alkaline your PH, and increase your metabolism.  It’s full of probiotics to help you with digestion.  Vegans – since you’re not getting probiotics from yogurt you can sure get it from Kombucha.  I love the Synergy Drinks.  My favorite flavors are Strawberry Serenity and Multi-Green.  This is a great replacement for soda and coffee.  I have soda once in a blue moon, but if you are a heavy soda drinker this is 100 times better for you.  As for coffee, it gives you the pick-me-upper you need in the morning. Amazingly this also curbs my appetite, so I tend to have a swig of this closer to 4 pm when I get hungry.

These items are found in Whole Foods, your local organic market, and Amazon.  Try it out!  I hope you feel the super duper benefits I do with these superfoods.

Quinoa Party Boats

Endives are great for any appetizer combination. I like to call endives party boats because they’re a perfect dish to serve at a party. I always have endives handy in my fridge because they last for long time, so if someone plans to come over for a visit or if a potluck comes up I can whip up a quick app. You can simply put any ingredient in your party boat like hummus or marinated vegetables. Today I’m going to use quinoa (pronounced keen-wah).

I was at Costco the other day and came across a tasting station. My ears perked up when I heard “Try a sample of this delicious quinoa.” I can’t tell you how healthy quinoa is. People ask me where do you get your protein and quinoa is on my list. First of all, it’s a complete protein which includes all nine essential amino acids. Secondly, it has low glycemic index – a food rate based on how much they make your blood sugar rise. Its gluten free, diary free, and complicated cooking free. They call it the “gold of the Incas” and indeed it is. I typically season plain quinoa, but this Nature’s Earthly Choice Quinoa is easy peasy and cooks in 15 minutes. There’s a variety of flavors you can choose from: garden vegetable, sundried tomato, roasted garlic & olive oil, and mushroom. I happen to taste all of them, but I decided to get garden vegetable and roasted garlic & olive oil. I’m using garden vegetable for the party boats.

Makes about 12 party boats

Ingredients
1 box of Nature’s Earthly Choice Quinoa Garden Vegetable (stove top instructions are listed on the box)
1/3 cup mushrooms in cubes
1/3 cup orange bell pepper in cubes
1/3 cup yellow heirloom tomatoes in cubes
2-3 endives (depending on size)

Quinoa

1. I wanted to add more texture to the quinoa mix, so I chopped up a few vegetables I had in the fridge – mushrooms, orange bell pepper, and yellow tomatoes. You can mix any vegetables you want.

2. As you can see it’s very simple and fast.

3. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, and tomatoes 10 minutes into cooking the quinoa.

4. It should take 15 minutes to cook. My rule of thumb is waiting till the quinoa is translucent enough so you can see the rings.

Endives

1. Cut the core about 1/2 inch and a few leaves will fall. Remove the leaves from the outside, which are the bitter ones, and take the leaves that fell from the inside. The leaves in the inside are your party boats.

2. If there are a few leaves attached to the core, then you may have to cut a few inches of the core again. Gather the leaves that fall for your party boats.

Party Boats

1. Take a spoonful of quinoa and place it on your endive

2. Enjoy the party!