Tag Archives: vegetarian

Phoenix Inspired Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad (Vegetarian)

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I went to Arizona during the holidays and my-oh-my was it an adventure.  We hiked the Grand Canyon, climbed a few red rocks, and played golf till sunset.  It was absolutely beautiful in the desert.  It was surreal.  Here’s a glimpse of the Canyons:

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After an intense hike at Camelback Mountain, we came across this little pizzeria restaurant in Phoenix.  I had their farmer’s market salad and just had to make it.  It was so fresh and hardy.  Who knew that Arizona had such fresh produce?  Seriously that’s all I ate there – fresh salads and fruits.  This salad had salami, but I wanted to make it vegetarian. We need that punch of saltiness that the salami gave to the salad, so I took unsalted chickpeas and added black truffle salt.  Bam!  Let me tell you that the vegetarian version is even better.  My husband had his salad with salami but he preferred the vegetarian version.

Ingredients

  • 1 stock of fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp of quality olive oil
  • ½ cup of Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 can of no salt added chickpeas
  • ½ shredded red onion
  • Pepper
  • Black truffle salt or Sea salt

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • 5 tbsp of honey
  • 4 tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ squeezed lemon

Instructions:

1.  Cut Brussels sprouts in fine slices or use a mandolin shredder.  If you use a knife, cut the stem, then in half, and cut the Brussels sprouts in thin slices.

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2.  Cut your red onion in very thin slices.  I actually used a spiral shredder on 1 whole red onion and placed it in a separate container.

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3  Take a handful of red onion from your container and add to the Brussels sprouts.  Then add olive oil, pepper, and a pinch of salt.  Massage your salad and set aside.

4.  Rinse your chickpeas with water.  Allow it to dry.  Then add about 3 pinches of black truffle salt or sea salt.  My sister got me black truffle salt from NYC and it’s simply divine for the chickpeas.  You can also get this at Williams Sonoma or a local gourmet shop.  Sea salt works fine too.

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5.  Make your dressing in a separate bowl.  Mix honey, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and lemon.  I placed my dressing in a mason jar.

6.  Now add chickpeas and Gorgonzola cheese in your salad and mix.

7.  Don’t mix dressing in the salad bowl.  Allow your guests to add their dressing to their heart’s content. I did not add a lot of dressing to my salad, maybe one spoonful.

*Make it vegan: Omit cheese and use agave instead of honey.  I tried it and it’s just as good.*

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Holiday Green-tings

Most holiday parties consist of meat, starches, and sugar.  Be a rebel and bring over the healthy greens for a holiday potluck/party.  Here are two recipes for this blog – Roasted Brussels Sprouts and this Holiday Salad.  You’ll notice one important ingredient – Olive Oil.  When your dishes are quite simple good quality olive oil is a must.

Easy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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I got these Brussels sprouts by the stock.  Aren’t they beautiful?  By the way I’ve been eating a lot of these because I’ve been training for a few races.  Brussels sprouts are an excellent source for energy

  • 1 Brussels sprout stalk
  • 3 tbsp of really good olive oil
  • ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ½ tsp of pepper or more if you like
  1. Preheat at 400 degrees
  2. Cut the ends of the stem and cut the Brussels sprout in half
  3. Massage Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  4. Place them in the pan and heat for 35 mins.  Turn them over midway to heat the other side

They are just like French fries, so eat them while their hot

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Holiday Salad (Vegetarian)

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I got the salad recipe from Oh She Glows, but I modified it as a vegetarian version.  If you want to see the vegan version check out her amazing recipe

Salad

  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale
  • ½ cup of dried cranberries
  • 1 fuji apple

Dressing

  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 juiced lemon
  • 3 tbsp of good olive oil

Pecans

  • ½ cup of toasted pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of good parmesan reggiano cheese (I used Whole Foods)
  • ¼ tsp of salt

Salad Instructions:

  1. Cut kale in small bite size pieces
  2. Cut dried cranberries in half
  3. Cut apple in bit size pieces.  Mama Chiang taught me a trick to keep the apples from browning.  Fill a bowl with water and sprinkle some salt then place the apples in the bowl while you’re making the rest of the salad
  4. In a separate bowl for your dressing mix your minced garlic, olive oil, and juiced lemon all together
  5. Now add kale, cranberries, apple in a bowl and mix the dressing in.  Massage the salad, so dressing is evenly distributed

Pecans Instructions:

  1. Toast pecans and chop them in pieces
  2. In a bowl add the pecans, olive oil, and salt
  3. Grate your parmesan reggiano to your pecans and mix.  Continue to grate more parmesan to your liking

To serve:  Have your guest add the pecans to their salad.  I have a few relatives that are allergic to nuts so I keep that aside.  It also prevent your pecans from getting soft

Award Winning Vegan Pumpkin Chili

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It’s been a while.  Things have been a little crazy, but wanted to share this recipe.  If you plan to cook to a big crowd for Halloween or Thanksgiving chili is the way to go.  I got a prize at work for entering my vegan pumpkin chili to a Chili Cook-off contest.  It starts out a little sweet and ends with a kick.  I added pumpkin flavors to give it an autumn twist.  The level of hotness is fiery hot, so adjust the recipe to your spice level.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 zucchini (cut in cubes)
  • 1 red pepper (cut into cubes)
  • 1 cubanelle pepper (cut into cubes)
  • 2 serrano peppers (remove seeds and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (remove seeds and cut into small cubes)
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of organic pumpkin (It has to be a can of pure pumpkin.  Don’t use pumpkin pie.)
  • 1 ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of cayenne
  • ½ tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of vegan worcestershire sauce (I used Wizard’s Organic sauce and you can get this at Whole Foods.)
  • ¼ bottle of Sam Adam’s Pumpkin Beer
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 1 15 oz can of cannellini beans
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans
  • 1 ½ cups of veggie broth
  • spring onions (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil under medium heat in a large pot
  2. Sauté onion and garlic
  3. Once onions are slightly caramelized sauté zucchini, red pepper, cubanelle pepper, jalapeno, and serrano pepper until soft
  4. Add crushed tomatoes, pumpkin, beer, chili, cumin, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, and cayenne.  Cover pot and cook for 15 minutes on medium low heat
  5. Add cannellini beans, black beans, and corn
  6. Add veggie broth as needed to create the thickness you need.  I used all 1 ½ cups of veggie broth
  7. Cook on low heat for 45 minutes
  8. It gets better overnight if you transfer the chili into a slow cooker and keep the temperature on warm
  9. Dress it with spring onions before you serve
  10. Sprinkle mild shredded cheddar if you like to make it vegetarian

Eating and Running “Chi”

Two meanings of “Chi” in this post – Chi as in “energy” and in Chi-town (aka Chicago).  There’s amazing energy in the windy city, but with a relaxed vibe than the East Coast.  I definitely appreciate the wind since we’ve been suffering from crazy heat back at home, so coming to Chicago was a breath of fresh air.   Last time I was in Chicago the weather was hot with patches of thunderstorms, but lady luck was on my side this time around and the weather was gorgeous.  I was itching for a run but first things first when I arrive – food!

Chicago main staple digs are its deep dish pizzas, Chicago dogs, and Italian sandwiches.  A few people stressed this and thought it might be difficult for me to find good vegan eats around the city but au contraire.  There’s always options especially in Chi-Town.  About every menu had vegan/vegetarian eats.

I was craving for a big leafy green salad and something quick because I had a busy day ahead of me.  I was at the Willis Tower (also known as Sears Tower), so there were tons of restaurants all around me.  I made my way to Market Creations since there was a huge salad bar. Got myself spinach, red onions, tomatoes, cranberries, cucumbers, Moroccan chickpeas, bowtie pasta with artichoke and olive salad.  I only had a few minutes, but found a table where I can baste myself in the sun.  I couldn’t do that back home, so I enjoyed the little time I had with my salad and the beautiful weather.

That night I met up with a few friends who happen to stop in Chi-Town from their cross country trip.  We went to concert at Millennium Park and headed to dinner at The Purple Pig.  The ambiance there was spectacular.  There’s a patio strip where you can have wine delivered to you as you wait for your table.  We got a table outside which made it perfect.  You’re probably wondering what I was able to eat.  There’s actually a variety.  To begin my friends treated me with some champagna.

I started with Tomato Bread with garlic, olive oil, and sea salt.  This was phenomenal and new to their menu.  I also had the charred green  onions with romesco sauce.  Romesco sauce is a nut and red pepper base sauce from Spain.  It went perfect with the charred green onions.  We ended the night with another toast to their travels.

The day after I went to a very hip restaurant for dinner – Revolution Brewery near Logan square.  They are known for their awesome hometown beers.  I had a cool refreshing Bottom Up Wit – Belgian-style wheat beer spiced with coriander and orange peel.  I heard the Anti-IPA is also a favorite.  That hit the spot after a long day.  I was thrilled to see so many vegetarian/vegan options on the menu.  I had the tempeh reuben with sauerkraut and vegan Russian dressing on dry rye bread – held off the cheese.   I love digs like this because they offer vegan, vegetarian, non-vegan plates, and great beer – a place to satisfy everyone.

I had to take advantage of the weather, so my last day I woke up early and went for a run.  Let me just say it was incredible.  Chicago is actually known for one of the best running places in the US.  I had so much energy running through the morning crowd/traffic and tall skylines around me.  It was bustling.

As I made it to Lakefront by the Navy Pier, it was calm and peaceful with little boats swaying against the wind.  You can see the beautiful Chicago buildings and architecture from a far.  I wish I had more time but there’s always next time.  What a experience!

Before I left for my flight, I walked over to this place called Raw in the French Market.  Raw was started by two women – Polly and Carole – who is raising their awareness around health and nutrition from raw and 100% plant-based foods.  They even have sessions to show you how to creatively prepare/cook raw dishes.  I actually met Carole and she was super nice.  She let me try all sorts of tasting samples.  I had a sample of their apple pie and I totally should have gotten that.  It was so delicious and RAW.  They also had their signature hummus and garlic sticks that were also very yummy.  I decided to grab the Kale salad since people raved about this.  They weren’t wrong.  This salad was amazing.  There was a ton of super foods in this, which I believe helped me with my long run the next day.  The salad consisted of fresh kale, cucumber, zucchini, onion, red pepper, lemon, EVOO, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, jalapeno, herbs, spices, gojiberry for sweetness, and avocados so creamy that it melts in your mouth. A delicious lunch before I headed home.

The visit to the windy city left on a good note.  A couple days of beautiful weather, great company, and a bit of Chi runs & eats.

Mama Chiang

Meet my mom.  She’s so adorable. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I wanted to dedicate this post and Yum-o section to my mom aka Mama Chiang.  I get my foodie inspiration from her.

Before we get into all the yummy food we had for Mother’s day, here’s a couple things to know about my mom that will make you think of eating and cooking food differently.  Every time I’m home I’m amazed to discover something new in Mama Chiang’s kitchen:

My mom is very intricate about her cooking.  She made me a lotus salad and I had no idea she peeled a lotus root piece by piece with an itty bitty knife.  She taught me that cooking requires patience, which is why her meals are made with lots of love.

She measures by eye and taste.  You will not see any measuring cups or spoons in her kitchen, but she’ll use Chinese bowls and soup spoons to measure.  When she teaches me how to cook she’ll tell me something like, “Cut the ginger as big as your pinky finger.”

Before coming to Mama Chiang’s house, she will ask a million questions on what you like to eat, what you can’t eat, or what you are allergic to.  It brings her joy when people are enjoying her food.  This is such good practice for anyone.  People are always grateful when you ask.  It means they’re thinking of you.

Every time I’m home I see exotic vegetables or fruits on the dining table, like these miniature mangos.  They’re smaller than my palm, but so very sweet.

My mom will make use of every ingredient she has.  Nothing goes to waste.  For instance, she will lay orange peels across the kitchen window to ward off any insects.

There’s a smorgasbord of treats when you come to Mama Chiang’s Household.  I found this Vietnamese dessert known as Che Bau Mau in the fridge the other day waiting for me to nosh.  It consists of mung beans, red azuki beans, tapioca pearls, peanuts, and coconut milk.  A blend of salty and sweet flavors.  I just have a small helping because there’s a lot sugar in this.

Now for Mother’s day – We didn’t want my mom in the kitchen, so we ventured to some cool digs.  For brunch we went to Eden Center, the mecca of Vietnamese cuisine in the DMV area.  We went to Lacay Cholon where I got this veggie spring roll – shiitake mushrooms, vermicelli noodles, lettuce and tofu wrapped in rice paper with a side of peanut sauce.

When we got back from shopping I found another exotic item on the dining table – dried red mangos from Hawaii. They’re very different from regular dried mangos.  First of all they’re a vibrant red color, not yellow, and they are slightly sour.

After some gardening and house chores, my mom and I noshed on Chinese crepes (Chang Fun) from China Boy in DC.  You typically see these on dim sum carts and it could be wrapped with a variety of different ingredients.  I like mine plain.  One of the best Chinese crepes I had growing up – soft and chewy.  I like to cut them up and season it with tamari sauce.

Then we shared a vegetarian bun my mom got from Phuoc Loc Bakery & Deli.  This one had cellophane noodles, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu.  Delish!

For dinner we went to Duangrat’s Thai Restaurant.  It has a funny name, but it’s been there since 1987 and they received several awards.  We had no idea this restaurant existed, but now it tops my Thai food list.  We started with Plantain Tempura (coconut & sesame batter).  I’m not a big fan of tempura or plantain, but loved this one.  It was crispy on the outside centered with a warm and soft plantain.

I ordered the vegetarian drunken noodles.  We all enjoyed it.  By the way, every time I go out with my family we always make it family style.  I love this because we are sharing our entrees with each other so we are getting a little bit of everything.

It was a glorious day with good eats around town.  I’m so lucky to have an amazing mom.   It warms my heart to see her happy on this beautiful Mother’s day.  You’ll see more posts on Mama Chiang.  I’ll even document what’s cooking in Mama Chiang’s Kitchen, so you’ll know her unique cooking techniques.  My mom is also prepping her garden, so I can’t wait show the vegetables, herbs, and fruits she planted.

April NYC Digs

It was a gorgeous spring weekend visiting my sister in nyc.  My sister took us around of course and I looked up a couple places I’ve been dying to try.  I go to nyc often but we were only able to hit a few places from our research. I think we were very successful this time around.  We stayed in East Village – a place full of organic markets and vegetarian restaurants. We also ventured out to the meatpacking district and Brooklyn to discover a couple new digs.  If your vegan/vegetarian I’ll show you how to order at restaurants that mainly serve meat.  There’s always an option. You just have to be a little creative like Sally from the movie When Harry Met Sally.

Before heading to dinner my sister came over and gave me the most beautiful flowers.

My sister took us to Scared Chow, a very trendy vegan restaurant in Greenwich Village. We got a perfect seat by the window.  This adorable dig is known for their vegan tapas.  We ordered six delightful plates – a combo of 3 for $18.  The portions are quite large and heavy for tapas, so choose wisely.

We started out with the Sunflower Lentil Pate with crostinis (plate pictured on the bottom).  The consistency was very much like pate – thick and rich.  It was full of flavor with a crunchy bite.  My top 3 favorite plates of the night: Sautéed Shiitake Mushroom w/South Indian Dip (middle left) – The sauce made this dish.  It almost had a buttery taste.  Growing up I ate plenty of shiitake, but never with such a unique sauce.  Root Vegetable Latkes w/Indonesian Date Butter (top right) – Ok, so this is hands down my favorite of the night.  It was perfectly cooked – crispy on the outside but you can still taste the flavors of the vegetable root.  Korean Tofu Cutlets w/steamed kale (top left) – It was sweet and spicy, but not over-powering flavors like most Korean dishes.

We were much too full for dessert but we walked to St. Mark’s where my sister purchased the best gummy bears ever – Crown Natural Gummy Bears from Saint Mark’s Market.  They were soft and chewy tropical flavors.

The next morning my sister took us to a French bistro for brunch, Patis, located in the meatpacking district.  The brunch menu contained mostly diary and eggs, but here’s where you can get creative if you are vegan.  I opted for the granola and berries w/o yogurt, which was absolutely delish even without yogurt.  They gave us a fresh bread basket and jam.

Ok, so this is the highlight of my trip.  I always been a fan of Top Chef and when I heard that one of my favorite chefs opened a new restaurant I had to go.  Dale Talde was from season 4 and made an amazing comeback on Top Chef Masters.  He’s known for his Asian Fusion cuisine.  I went to Buddakan last year to look for him, but no luck.  Everything happens for a reason.  It just so happens he opened his own restaurant – Talde in Brooklyn.  Let me just say it was phenomenal.

What an experience!  We headed to Brooklyn early because the wait can be up to two hours.  Got there 5 minutes before it opened and the restaurant filled up quickly.

The place is bigger than I expected and we were seated at the best spot, right in front of Dale.  I love restaurants that open the kitchen up so you can see the chefs cooking.

Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings with spicy mustard – Heard it really does taste like pretzels.

Perilla Leaf – Perfect dish to cleanse your palette before the main course.

Hawaiian Bread Buns – There were three: Filipino Pork, Crispy Long Island Fluke, and the Market Vegetable.  The Market Vegetable bun melted in my mouth.  My sister claims that the vegetable bun was actually the best one.

Tofu & Kale Salad – The best salad I ever had in my life.  It was a bed of kale served with beets, tofu, and fresh water chestnuts mixed with cider ponzo dressing.  Every bite had a subtle and creamy crunch.  I still dream about it.

Short Ribs – My husband couldn’t find anyone that can make short ribs like his dad, until now.

Halo-Halo – I had halo-halo before, but not like this.  This one was special.  I heard people guess what’s in this dessert.  Here’s what I think it is: shaved ice, coconut milk, bananas, mangos, pear, jelly cubes, tapioca pearl, and drum roll….Captain Crunch cereal.

As you can see my sister thoroughly enjoyed this.

The finale – Dale came over to our table to greet us.  I was such a creepers staring at him all night, so I was star struck when he headed to our table.  He is such a humble person and appreciated how we enjoyed his food, nothing like what he seems on TV.

Later in the night we passed by Pommes Frits.  I heard this on the food network and didn’t mind a late night snack.  We got the sweet mango chutney.  Seriously, the best fries I ever had.  When I took a bite for the first time there was complete silence.

Our last day in NYC – My husband wanted to get a pastrami sandwich from Katz Deli for lunch, so we decided to go there first and then go to this vegan café afterwards.

His lunch came with pickles, so I was noshing on that while my husband finishes his sandwich on a bench we found outside.

My turn – we went to Altas Café.  This is a hole in the wall, and the menu caters to all vegan/vegetarians.  I got the Vegan Mediterranean Crepe.

What’s inside is full of deliciousness – tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, onions, tofu cheese.  I savored every bite.

I also ordered the peanut better layered bomb cake to-go.  It was so good I didn’t even notice it was vegan.  A perfect way to end my trip.