How My Zero Waste Life is Coming Along

So far, going zero waste has been an interesting journey. It’s been a mixture of trying to incorporate new things into my life that I know will bring about small changes, but also trying to adapt my new mindset to my existing life.

That means a lot of different things.

I’ve sort of grouped them into different areas of my life– for example, there’s my “work life” and my “personal life”. Both of these areas require a different amount of adherence to my commitment and sensitivity regarding leading a zero waste life.

Work Life

I currently work in an industry that can be deemed as somewhat wasteful. Hospitality and food service is not the most eco-friendly area– a lot of food is often thrown out for various reasons, but one of the most common is that people may not finish meals. I’ve also seen guests order food that they don’t even touch. It pains me to throw these things away, but I really have no choice in the matter. There’s also the behind the scenes action. In the kitchen, foods have to be rotated; if all of something hasn’t been used and it’s starting to spoil or isn’t high quality enough to use in dishes, then, of course, they throw those items out. Cringe. If only I could take all of it home and make dump skillet meals for everyone– a girl can dream.*

Aside from the food, kitchens aren’t really designed (yet!) to be filled with less wasteful materials. There’s plastic everywhere. In fact, one of our sous chefs recently made a point to state that it’s impossible for a kitchen to run efficiently without plastic– then he went through the kitchen pointing out all the necessary tools, machines and fixtures of a kitchen that we would not have if we didn’t use plastics. Touché chef.

Personal Life

However, outside of work, there is a stark contrast. I try my hardest to not be wasteful and to not contribute to waste. For the most part, I buy fresh produce in small batches so it doesn’t go bad. Sometimes, life and my schedule get in the way, and that is how I came up with the dump skill meals — because every now and then, before I know it, a week has passed, and I still haven’t used the box of mushrooms I bought and was planning on making several dishes with! I also try to recycle whenever possible and I try not to use a lot of plastic or non-biodegradable materials.

This was difficult at first. Not the idea of course, because things are always ideal in theory. But actually becoming and remaining conscious of how much waste I was creating and how much plastic I used was eye-opening. If I got food on-the-go, I would grab about two handfuls of napkins without even thinking about it. I don’t even wanna think about how many straws I’ve gone through each summer buying cold or frozen drinks. I also sweat a lot in the summer, and I was no stranger to buying the liter bottles of water throughout my busier days if I was running around a lot. One. Two. Three bottles, easily.

How I’m Trying to Make a Change

Understanding all of this was was my first step; I had to assess all the waste I personally created or contributed to. After that is when I started to implement the small steps I could, in the hopes that it would serve as a catalyst for change. Funny enough, I didn’t start taking all of these steps post-vegan. I’ve been utilizing reusable silverware for over a year now, but I didn’t do it to help reduce waste. I bought a random bento-box sidekick set of silverware in a popular chain store one day because it was on sale,  looked really cool, and was placed in the impulse-purchase zone while I was waiting on their very long line. I wasn’t aware at the time of how much of an impact utilizing that reusable silverware could really have. The set was also plastic. This wasn’t horrible — I was still cutting down on using plastic overall because I carried that set with me everywhere. But now, I’ve upgraded to a stainless steel set.** Getting the stainless steel silverware was awesome– it was like upgrading from your Fisher-Price playhouse silverware to the silverware you buy when you actually have a house. Now, I was the real-deal. Also, upgrading was actually extremely helpful because it’s kinda difficult to pick up some things with a thick, plastic fork, although I managed to push through it for some time — I don’t know why I didn’t think of getting a stainless steel set earlier!

I also carry a reusable water bottle.^ This is a great way to lessen the amount of waste one produces, and it’s even better if you can spring for a glass or stainless steel one, because again–less plastic! I will warn you that glass bottles can be a little heavier and more bulky, but I guess that’s to be expected. I have a glass bottle but am considering switching to stainless steel, if for no other reason than to have a lighter weight bottle. Anyhow, even if you get a plastic one, there are still less wasteful routes you can take — some bottles use less plastic in their construction. Do some research and see what’s available; there are so many options these days!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have forgotten my water bottle on more than one occasion– when that happens, I have to buy water because I can’t stand not being hydrated, especially in the summer months! Not to mention it’s dangerous to be dehydrated when it’s really hot outside. In these cases, I try to get an eco-friendly brand of water whenever possible. Two of my favs are Just Water and Boxed Water. Both of these companies have a focus on sustainability — Just Water is sourced ethically, and their bottle construction is paper-based, while the cap is plant-based. Their bottle is also reusable. Boxed Water uses a 100% recyclable bottle, and in 2015, they started a project to plant 1 million trees in U.S National Forests within five years — to help with this goal, subscribe to their new newsletter and they will plant two trees on your behalf!

At the moment, I don’t see these brands everywhere (they’re are much easier to find in the city that in other boroughs which are more residential — it depends on where you are), but I spring for them if I do see them. If you don’t see either of these brands, you can take some comfort in knowing that many water companies are at least making an attempt to construct their bottles with less plastic — this is usually indicated somewhere on the bottle.

And again, focus on small steps and don’t beat yourself up if (and in my case when) you ever do forget your reusable bottle. The first time I forgot mine, I cringed and felt like a failure. How did I buy a reusable water bottle only to leave it at home and then have to spend money on a plastic bottle?! But that’s life, so we have to be adaptable. I doubt I’ll forget it much as it gets warmer outside, but just in case, I plan on putting a reminder on my phone until it becomes a habit that is drilled into my head.

My last and most recent addition to my reusable family of tools is a stainless steel straw– best. purchase. ever.^^ Honestly, everyone should get a reusable straw! It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce the waste we produce. Every day, Americans use approximately 500 million straws, although that figure is debated as far as accuracy goes.^^^ But honestly, I don’t think it’s far from reality. That’s an insane amount of plastic. So think about it: just by bringing your own straw, you can help reduce the 38,000 straws you will likely use in your life between the ages of 5 and 65, solely through drinking beverages!^^^ It’s also always a good idea to think about paying things forward and realizing the trickle-down effect that our actions have. If everyone brings their own straw, companies will save money on their end because they can purchase less straws. And, when they purchase less straws, they are also helping to create less plastic waste. It’s a win/win for everyone!

So these are some of the steps I’ve been taking to become less wasteful. I hope to continue to incorporate ways into my daily life that are feasible and sustainable. It’s exciting to learn what I can do, and how it can impact the world around me. And it will impact the world around me. You should keep that it mind too! Any steps you take can have a ripple effect on how others view the environment, and this is how change happens. You may inspire others to be less wasteful as well, or bare minimum, you’ll just look really cool whipping out your stainless steel straw and fork.

Cutlery and Water Bottle Pic
No, I’m not a surgeon. But these are still important tools in my (reusable) arsenal. Pictured (from left) are my reusable straw with silicone tip, my stainless steel cutlery set, and my glass water bottle.
Cutlery and Water Bottle Pic II
Sturdy, efficient, and reusable. Aren’t they beautiful?

 

* And speaking of food waste — please, please check out the awesome documentary Wasted!: The Story of Food Waste. It was made in 2017 and the Executive Producer was the amazing Anthony Bourdain. The world lost this awesome chef and travel extraordinaire on June 8, 2018. If you were a fan of his then you should watch this documentary. But even if you weren’t, it is super relevant to the topics discussed in this post, and it looks at the silver lining of what can be done with food waste as opposed to only looking at the gloomy reality of it’s existence in society.

** I purchased my reusable, stainless steel silverware set from a company called Mizu. You can find it here.

I purchased my reusable water bottle on Amazon.com. You can find it here.

^^ I purchased my stainless steel straw from an Etsy shop. You can find the shop and the straws here.

^^^ Sources: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/plastic-straws-ocean-trash-environment/

http://www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree/faqs

Seared Steak. Green Beans with Fried Onions and Thyme. Medley of Potatoes. Mushroom Thyme Gravy.

This is my third creation in the #veganclocktowerchallenge. I went vegan after I started working there, and practically everyone in the kitchen knows I’m vegan– so after starting this blog, I thought it would be fun to recreate some of the dishes they serve in a fine-dining restaurant. The steaks there are served with triple-cooked chips and a side salad. I made my own sides but I tried to plate the steak the way we plate it at the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at the final result — not to mention my folks loved it also (I made extra for them to try). Follow me on Instagram to see everything I make from the menu!

Clocktower Steak dish

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 vegan steak — I used a pre-marinated seitan steak (see pictured below!)*
  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 2/3 cup crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 bag of baby potatoes (I used the organic mini medley of potatoes from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 1/4 cup fried onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (I used Grill Mates Montreal steak seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon essential seasoning mix**
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons steak sauce (make sure it’s vegan! I used a generic store brand of steak sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon browning sauce (I used Gravy Master seasoning and browning sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons prepared cornstarch***
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or 4 tablespoons avocado oil and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • cast iron skillet for steak (optional)

** I wrote this recipe so that all items can be prepared and served together as opposed to writing out the directions for each component. If you follow the recipe as is, the entire dish should be finished around the same time so you don’t have to wait!**

What to Do:

  1. Sprinkle steak seasoning on either side of steak and set aside until ready to sear.*
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add baby potatoes and continue to boil.
  3. While potatoes boil, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet on low heat.
  4. Once hot, add green beans and stir to mix with olive oil. Saute green beans for approximately 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add fried onions, about 3-4 sprigs of thyme (remove the herbs from the stems) and approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir.
  6. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally– fried onions should become slightly browned but be careful not to brown or burn the green beans. Remove green beans from heat and set aside, but leave in skillet.
  7. Check potatoes — boil for approximately 3-4 more minutes, or until fork-tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  8. Place prepared green beans on serving dish or in a separate container and set aside. Leave any remnants  of oil in the skillet.
  9. Return the skillet to low-medium heat and add mushrooms.
  10. Saute mushrooms for approximately 4 minutes, until slightly browned.
  11. Turn to high heat and add 1 cup of vegetable broth. Bring broth to a boil.
  12. Once broth is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.
  13. Add steak sauce, browning sauce and essential seasoning blend. Stir vigorously until steak sauce has completely dissolved into broth.
  14. Let sauce continue to simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add 4-5 sprigs of thyme to sauce (remove herbs from stems) and stir.
  15. Continue to simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  16. Add prepared cornstarch to sauce one tablespoon at a time, stirring vigorously after tablespoon and waiting approximately 1-2 minutes between tablespoons.**
  17. Let sauce fully thicken, about 4-5 minutes.
  18. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat.****
  19. Once hot, add steak to skillet (be careful of oil splatter!)
  20. Sear steak for about 3 minutes on one side. Steak should move freely in skillet after 3 minutes.
  21. Turn steak and sear on the other side for 3 minutes. If necessary, add about 1 tablespoon of additional oil before searing on the other side if most of the oil has been absorbed by the steak from the first sear.
  22. Turn steak again and sear for another 3 minutes.
  23. Turn steak once more and sear for another 3 minutes. Steak should be browned on each side– be careful not to burn steak unless you prefer it to be darker or “crisper” (remember this is seitan, not beef!)
  24. Remove steak from heat.
  25. Repeat steps 18-23 if you have another steak to sear.
  26. Transfer steak to a serving dish.
  27. Transfer green beans to serving dish.
  28. Transfer potatoes to serving dish.
  29. Drizzle potatoes with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  30. Serve mushroom and thyme gravy on the side or drizzle on top of steak. Bon appetit!

 

 

* Here is the steak I used, in the packaging. You can make your own steaks of course — I wanted to try these that were being sold at a vegan cheese shop I went to. As you can see, they were pre-marinated in the packaging. If your steaks are pre-marinated, you can ditch the dry steak seasoning all-together. I added it to the recipe for extra flavor. If your steak aren’t pre-marinated, up the amount to 1 teaspoon of seasoning for each side instead of 1 teaspoon for both sides.

vegan steak package

** Essential seasoning blend can be found on the recipes page.

*** To make the prepared cornstarch, add approximately 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water (so equal parts of each ingredient). You can not add cornstarch directly to hot sauces to thicken them– the cornstarch will become clumpy. When this recipe calls for adding prepared cornstarch, it’s this mixture of cornstarch mixed with water. Remember, the ratios are equal!

**** Avocado oil has a higher heat tolerance than olive oil. For searing in a cast iron skillet it is recommended to use an oil with a higher heat tolerance– however, those are the rules when searing a beef steak. I used olive oil, but it might still be helpful to sear a seitan steak using an oil with a higher heat tolerance. The next time, I’m going to use avocado oil — I’m an amateur cook, so you guys can learn from my mistakes with me! But these steaks turned out pretty well using the olive oil, however, they might be even better using avocado oil.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 6/7/18

Hazelnut and Cacao Milkshake

I recently got a container of vegan protein to start making shakes with. I barely liked protein shakes before I was vegan, but I was curious as to how this one would taste and also to see if it was truly filling (it has 20 grams of protein per serving). The flavor is amazing and it doesn’t have a slightly weird after-taste which I remember other non plant-based protein shakes having. And it does keep me pretty full. Because the flavor was so on-point, I thought– why not make a milkshake? You kill two bird with one stone– you get a sweet, flavorful dessert, and also filling protein that’s healthy for you. Yep, I’m a genius. This was also my first time trying Elmhurst brand’s hazelnut milk. So. good. The idea here was to make a Nutella shake– it was a fail. But the outcome was still tasty!

Hazelnut and Cacao Shake top

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 scoops of a vanilla flavored, plant-based protein powder (I used Kos Naturals)
  • 12 ounces of hazelnut milk (I used Elmhurst brand)
  • 1 medium-sized banana, cut into four pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 3-4 ice cubes

What to Do:

  1. Place milk into blender along with protein powder, banana slices and ice cubes.
  2. Blend (on medium speed if your blender has different speeds) for about 15-20 seconds.
  3. Remove lid and add cacao nibs.
  4. Replace lid and blend again for about 20 seconds.
  5. Pour shake into a glass.
  6. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon of cacao nibs on top of shake to garnish, and serve. Bon appetit!

Date posted on Instagram: 6/4/18

*Product Review*: The Beyond Meat Burger is BEYOND Amazing!

So, I’m a little weird– or at least my eating habits can be. When I used to eat what I considered to be “unhealthy” foods, I had a very limited diet. I didn’t eat a diverse array of foods at all; instead I ate large amounts of the bad foods with limited variety. If you check out my recipe for broccoli in garlic sauce, you’ll see in the blurb before the recipe where I mention that dish was one of the few I got from Chinese takeout. Actually, it was probably 1 of 3 dishes I ever got. Well, another familiar food was burgers. Burgers were practically the only thing I got when I went out to eat with my parents as a kid. Seriously, ask them. No matter what type of restaurant it was, if they had burgers, I got a burger– with fries. Specialty burgers, plain Jane cheeseburgers, but always a burger.

Now, fast forward years later– I eat relatively healthy now, and I eat a huge variety of foods with all types of preparation–not just sautéed veggies — although I eat a lot of (sautéed) veggies these days — but all sorts fried stuff, baked stuff, stuff I’m still not sure how to pronounce (is it SAY-TAN, SEE-TAN, or SAY-TON??), and international fare. The past me would fall over dead if it saw the future me, like “who are you and where is your burger?!”

Of course, in my limited vegan world knowledge, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to foods like burgers. I never stopped loving them– even before going vegan I started eating healthier, and for me, that included eating a lot less meat, but I always loved a good burger every now and then.

But in my vegan exploratory stage (which is still happening actually), I discovered the amazing company Beyond Meat. Then, I discovered the Beyond Meat burger. Then, I discovered true happiness. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating, but seriously, I finally got my hands on some Beyond Meat burgers, which started being sold to the public in May 2016.

Beyond Burger Instagram Screenshot
Screenshot from my Instagram story showcasing the excitement that Homer and I shared over these burgers!

It’s 100% plant-based protein, has under 300 calories in one 1/4 pound patty, and contains no soy or GMO’s. It also has (drum-roll please!) 30% of the daily recommended value of Iron! The only downside is it does have a lot of fat– probably as much as a beef burger patty– but a full-fat burger is an indulgence that is completely allowed. And anyway, I rather my fat come from plants than cows.

Grill pan
The aftermath– the grill pan I cooked the burgers in!

But maybe its the fat that adds to the flavor. The amazing flavor of these burgers is insane! I don’t really like comparing vegan items to meat– I can’t speak for all vegans, but the only reason I do it is to try to convince meat-eaters that they won’t be missing out on much if they ditch meat. But I really couldn’t tell the difference between this burger and some meat burgers I’ve eaten in the past. The flavor and texture are spot on.

Although I just had burgers on my birthday a few days ago, making these came about because I really wanted sweet potato fries– then that made me want burgers again. And I had forgotten that I bought these a couple of weeks ago anyway, and I never froze them so I didn’t want them to go bad. Its a good thing I had that sweet potato fries craving. But that’s another amazing thing about vegan food– being that everything is plant-based, it usually lasts a lot longer. Can you imagine forgetting about beef burgers in the fridge for over a week? The smell would probably remind you before you remembered!

But anyway, these were all good reasons to make burgers, so that’s what I did. I had them for dinner tonight and I literally could not contain my excitement– they were SO. FRICKIN. AMAZING. I used a grilling pan also, which I think added to the flavor, not to mention gave the patties some cool grill marks (see inset above). I am more excited everyday as I discover all of the food I am not missing out on because it exists in my new vegan world. In fact, I have yet to find food that can’t be “veganized”!

Scroll down to see awesome pics of the burger, which I served with sweet potato fries– not from scratch, but still delish.

A few deets on the burger: I seasoned them with a little bit of salt and pepper before grilling. Then, I decked them out with some kale, tomato, red onion, and coconut herb vegan cheese slices. The sauce is Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ sauce from, of course, Trader Joe’s.

And by the way, this cheese is so dope– I also used it in my roasted corn and fava bean salad.

PRO Tip: The buns I used were basic, store-brand, cheap (but vegan!) hamburger buns. But they look all glossy and brioche-like don’t they? All I did was smooth a tiny layer of olive oil over the top and threw them in a warm oven for about 3 minutes. I don’t know the exact temperature the oven was at because it was cooling down from the sweet potato fries, but it might have been about 300 degrees or so. After you take them out, not only are they a little toasty, but you get that glossy “egg-wash” effect on the top bun!

Beyond Meat burger II
So much burger-licious-ness.

 

Beyond Meat Burger I
The Beyond Meat burger in all its glory.

Vegan Chili Bread Bowl

I decided to make chili in the Spring for two reasons: 1. A pal suggested it and I didn’t want to wait all the way until it was cold outside to follow through with such a great idea. 2. After some thought, I figured it made perfect sense, because people often think about foods from the opposite season they’re in — it’s the whole, “the grass is always greener” effect. So I made chili! It was a fun recipe to make because I’ve never made anything in a bread bowl before. In fact, I haven’t made many dishes in bowls, period. I need to start using bowls more.

Vegan chili bread bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 circular loaf of bread — I used an IPA beer bread loaf, but there are many types of bread you can find that have been baked in a circle. Check your local (or not so local) markets and of  course, bakeries.
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, with their juice (I used TJ’s diced and fire-roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles)
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium salad tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs of cilantro (for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon of scallion (for garnish)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream (I used tofutti better than sour cream– so good!)
  • 3-4 tablespoons prepared cornstarch*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Carefully trace a circle around the top of the circular loaf with a knife. You want at least about 1/2-1 inch of space around the circumference of the bread so that it can literally act as a bowl!
  2. Cut around the circle with a bread knife, and remove the top.
  3. Scoop the center of the bread out, leaving a thicker layer at the bottom so the chili doesn’t soak right through the bottom of the bread. Set bread bowl aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large saute pan on low-medium heat (you will need at least a 5 quart pan for this recipe!)
  5. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots, bell pepper, celery and onions. Saute until onions are translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add chopped garlic, and all spices (chili powder, paprika, salt and cumin and oregano); stir spices into sauteed vegetables continuously for about 30 seconds until well mixed.
  7. Add chopped tomato, both cans of diced tomatoes with their juice, pinto beans, black beans and vegetable broth.
  8. Stir and lower heat to a simmer.
  9. Simmer chili for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add red wine vinegar.
  10. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally (so chili will simmer for approximately 30-35 minutes total).
  11. Remove chili from heat.
  12. Add prepared cornstarch* 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring and waiting for approximately 1-2 minutes after each tablespoon. Sauce will thicken as you add the cornstarch.
  13. Let chili sit for about 5 minutes so sauce can fully thicken.
  14. Transfer some of chili to bread bowl.
  15. Garnish with sour cream, scallion and cilantro. Bon appetit!

 

* To make the prepared cornstarch, add approximately 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water (so equal parts of each ingredient). You can not add cornstarch directly to hot sauces to thicken them– the cornstarch will become clumpy and that’s no bueno. When this recipe calls for adding prepared cornstarch, it’s this mixture of cornstarch mixed with water. You might need more cornstarch for this recipe, so up the ratios of cornstarch to water, remember, the ratios are equal!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 5/29/18

“Seafood” Stir-fry

I finally got my hands on some kelp granules, and so this will be the first of many seafood-y dishes I’ll be making (hellooooo ceviche!). The flavors that many people associate with the sea are, in actuality, derived from some plant-based items such as kelp and algae. Yes, I get that everything that people eat that comes out of the water doesn’t taste exactly like plants, but if you taste the granules you’ll see what I mean. And it makes sense because the creatures of the sea consume the algae and kelp both intentionally and as part of their existence within that habitat– which just goes to further prove the saying: “you are what you eat”. Thanks for helping us vegans prove a point Mother Nature.

Seafood Stir-fry

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 3 teaspoons kelp granules (I used Main Coast Seasoning Organic Kelp granules)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (I used Kikkoman’s teriyaki baste and glaze)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce ( I didn’t use low-sodium because I didn’t add any extra salt)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Prepare rice in a small saucepan (boil water, add rice, stir and bring to a boil again, turn heat to a low simmer, cover and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes or so– use approximately 1 3/4 cup of water for every one cup of rice). Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet on low-medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, add carrots and saute for approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Add broccoli and continue saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring carrots and broccoli occasionally.
  5. Add green beans to veggie mix, stir, and let saute for approximately 5 minutes.
  6. Add onion and ginger powder and stir.
  7. Add soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and kelp granules; stir. Saute for a few more minutes, until onions have become translucent. Remove from heat.
  8. Transfer stir-fry to serving dish.
  9. Transfer rice to serving dish and sprinkle remaining teaspoon of kelp granules on rice. Bon appetit!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 5/20/18

Chili-lime Tofu with a Roasted Corn and Fava Bean Salad

One thing I wanted to try my hand at as an amateur chef was cooking with seasonal ingredients — not only is it cheaper, but it’s also a great way to expand your palette and try new foods because you’re forced to try new things at least 4 times a year. With this recipe, I tried to think outside of the box — I started tracking the seasonality of more unique foods and then thought about what I could make with them. The result? This ridiculous and amazingly tasty tofu and chilled salad dish. I included a coconut herb cheese in the salad to add even more of a warm-weather flavor to it. No lie, the tofu legit tasted like fried mozzarella, so if that’s something anyone misses from their dairy-eating days, then try this recipe ASAP!

chili lime tofu with fava bean and corn salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 block of medium-firm organic tofu
  • 1 can of fava beans, drained
  • 1 pack of Field Roast Chao vegan slices – coconut herb with black pepper flavor
  • 1 full stalk of fresh corn
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s chili-lime seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • airtight container with lid (to marinate the tofu in)

What to Do:

Marinate the Tofu

  1. Press the tofu with a paper towel or cloth to remove a decent amount of water (the tofu doesn’t have to be fully “dry”).
  2. Cut the tofu block into 4 even slices.
  3. Place the slices in the container and put all 3 tablespoons of the chili-lime seasoning in the container a little at a time, covering the tofu pieces entirely on each side.
  4. Cover container with lid and place in fridge to marinate for at least an hour.

For the Salad

  1. Peel stalk of corn and clean.
  2. Turn a stove burner on medium heat and use a pair of metal tongs to hold corn stalk over heat to roast. Be careful not to leave the stalk in one position for too long; turn often, or when you hear a popping sound start– similar to fresh seeds that are turning into popcorn when cooked on a stove top.*
  3. Once entire stalk has darkened from roasting, on a cutting board hold stalk upright and slice all of the corn from the cob.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, place roasted corn and entire can of drained fava beans and cilantro.
  5. Slice lemon and lime in half and squeeze the juice from each into the bowl.
  6. Add rice vinegar.
  7. open entire pack of chao vegan slices**, and use a vegetable peeler to slice small slivers of the cheese block directly into the bowl. Add as much as you like but I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup worth of cheese slivers.
  8. Mix the salad together, cover,  and place in the fridge to chill.

Chili-lime Tofu

  1. Remove marinated tofu from fridge and leave out to become room temperature.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, add tofu pieces (careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side of each piece of tofu until a slightly hard and crispy crust forms on the outside (the tofu will still be soft inside).
  4. If desired, place tofu pieces on a dry cloth to release excess oil.
  5. Transfer tofu slices to serving dish.
  6. Transfer some of the salad to serving dish. Bon appetit!

* You can also roast the corn on the grill or on a grill plate that goes on the stove if you have one, but I found it quicker and easier to just do it directly over the stove top flame– just be careful!

** this method will likely ruin the pack from being used “by the slice” but you can use the rest of the cheese for something that doesn’t require slices!

Date posted on Instagram: 5/21/18