Lemon Ginger Dressing

As you may all know by now, I love salads. Because of that, you may have also figured out that I love salad dressings. Well, I guess one doesn’t automatically equal the other, but in this case, it’s true. I love salad dressings and all dressings and sauces in general. I feel like they can really make a meal if used correctly (or break a meal if used incorrectly!). During my week on a raw diet, I created a sauce for the first time and it was really fun and exciting knowing I made it entirely from scratch — dressings are actually one of my favorite things to experiment with in the kitchen now. It’s kinda fun putting a bunch of stuff in a blender and seeing how it all turns out, especially when you have certain flavors in mind that you want to achieve. The flavors in this dressing are are inspired by Trader Joe’s Almond Butter Turmeric Salad Dressing. I’ve never tasted the TJ’s version, so the only thing that is spot-on about this recipe is the color, but whether or not it tastes as good as the TJ’s version, it definitely holds its own flavor-wise. Making dressings has also taught me a certain level of discipline– I know it sounds weird, but let me explain. I can be impatient and don’t usually like to wait for things, even when I’m making it– so I had to learn patience when blending ingredients together because creating the flavors forced me to add ingredients in small increments to see if the flavor was there yet and not overdo it; I also had to learn to wait for dressings to settle for a few minutes so the ingredients could “mesh” together–sometimes even waiting overnight for the full flavor profile to develop. So yes, making dressing has taught me patience and understanding. Who needs therapy when you can just cook?

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice*
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (almond butter can be used instead)

What to Do:

  1. Place about half the lemon juice, turmeric, peanut butter, ginger and black pepper in a blender.
  2. Blend until ingredients are smooth, adding the remainder of the liquid in small increments until all the lemon juice has been added.
  3. If the dressing does not blend fully, stop blending and remove the dressing from the sides of the blender, placing it back in the center using a spatula or similar thin kitchen utensil. Continue to blend until dressing has reached a smooth, creamy consistency.

* The dressing will have a tart lemon flavor with this recipe. I loved it but if you want less of a tart flavor, you can substitute the 1/2 cup lemon juice for 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1/4 cup room temperature water. Or play around with the measurements to reach the desired flavor, but be careful of adding too much liquid or the dressing will be very runny.

Date posted on Instagram: 10/24/18

Spanish Tofu Salad

I’ve almost come full circle in the year that I’ve been vegan. I started making big and delicious salads again, but the difference is I slightly refined the flavors and ingredients just a bit, or at least it feels that way. In all of my cooking and experimenting over this past year, I like to tell myself that the recipe for this salad uses seasoned tofu in a much cooler way than I would have used it when I first became vegan and when I first started making big salads as main meals. But the goal isn’t to be cooler, it’s to be a more informed amateur chef that makes delicious and nutritious food that people will want to eat. With maybe just a little bit of cool factor thrown in 😉

Spanish tofu salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 block firm organic tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1 can pinto beans, water drained with about 1/4-1/2 a can of liquid*
  • Approximately 3 cups of mustard greens, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large salad tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 medium avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (removed from stems)
  • 2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1 pack Goya sazon seasoning
  • 2-3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

What to Do:

  1. Heat a medium-sized non-stick skillet over low heat.
  2. Add water-drained beans to skillet and heat for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add entire pack of sazon seasoning and stir into beans thoroughly. Continue to heat beans, stirring frequently, until the beans are heated through.
  4. Once beans are warm, remove skillet from heat and transfer beans to a bowl, spooning them into the dish and draining as much liquid as possible with each spoonful to keep inside the skillet. Set beans aside and keep the skillet with the liquid in it.
  5. Return the skillet to heat and raise heat to medium. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the skillet and let heat for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add cubed tofu to skillet and stir into olive oil and left over liquid, mixing the sazon seasoned liquid thoroughly into the tofu so it absorbs the color and flavor (carefully so you don’t tear the tofu pieces!).
  7. Add red chili pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley and adobo seasonings to tofu. Mix well and continue to pan-fry tofu, pressing the pieces down with a spatula every so often to create a little bit of a golden brown layer on the pieces. Remove from heat.
  8. In a large mixing bowl, add mustard greens, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, 2 tbsp olive oil and vinegar. Mix together well and transfer to your serving bowl.
  9. Spoon about half the beans around the salad mix.
  10. Top with seasoned tofu and garnish with avocado slices and serve.

*  Here is my water-draining technique, which is basically a way to mix water with the thicker water in the can so that you have a slightly thick liquid to work with that is somewhere in the middle of water and the juice in the can. In my opinion it’s better to use when you want to add water to beans when heating them on the stove top.

Date Posted on Instagram: 10/22/18

Chili-Lime Cauliflower Rice Bowl (Raw)

This bowl was so refreshing. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to use cauliflower rice for a raw recipe, but I knew I wanted to try something different so I decided to incorporate fruit into the mix. It was delicious, partially due to the mango, but also because of the chili-lime seasoning which has become one of my favorite seasoning blends. It’s a quick and simple dish with tons of flavor!

chili lime cauliflower rice and mango bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • About 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower rice
  • 1 mango, cut into slivers (or cubed)
  • The juice of 1/2 of one lime
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 teaspoons chili-lime seasoning (I use the one from Trader Joe’s)
  • **OPTIONAL**: 1 tablespoon olive oil

What to Do:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, toss cauliflower rice, olive oil and chili-lime seasoning together.
  2. Squeeze lime juice into cauliflower rice mixture and toss again until well mixed.
  3. In a serving dish or bowl, make a bed of baby spinach. Place dressed cauliflower rice on top of spinach.
  4. Place salsa in the center of the cauliflower rice.
  5. Spread slivers (or cubes) of mango on top of rice.
  6. Garnish with cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Date posted on Instagram: 7/18/18

Taco Salad

Who doesn’t love tacos? After I thought about it, I realized that since going vegan, I hadn’t actually had any tacos or burritos — seriously! I’ve had variations of taco salads (this one included), but I haven’t made or bought any true, delicious, Mexican tacos or burritos. I haven’t even had any fast-food goodies from Taco Bell (hello bean burrito!) or Chipotle (mas sofritas por favor!). This made me both elated and concerned. I was elated when I realized I hadn’t eaten Chipotle or Taco Bell in a year. But I was concerned because what kind of normal, functioning human being goes one full year without having any tacos or burritos??

Taco salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/4 cup of Beyond Meat beefy crumbles
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained (frozen corn can also be used)
  • About 2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded or chopped
  • 1/2 large avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 large salad tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup So Delicious cheddar jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti‘s better than sour cream)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • **OPTIONAL**: 1 tablespoon white vinegar

 

What to Do:

  1.  Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Once hot, add onion and let saute for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add black beans and corn to skillet and continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add in beefy crumbles, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir seasoning and crumbles into beans and corn thoroughly and continue to saute all ingredients until crumbles are heated and cooked through and onion becomes completely translucent. Remove from heat.
  5. If using vinegar, place romaine in a medium sized mixing bowl and add vinegar. Mix vinegar into lettuce until coated. Transfer lettuce to serving bowl.
  6. Spread cubed avocado and chopped tomato on top of the bed of lettuce.
  7. Spoon some of the taco mixture into the center of the salad, and sprinkle with the cheddar jack.
  8. Serve with salsa and sour cream as the dressing or add your own dressing.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 7/20/2018

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

Pan-Fried Tofu and Charred Pineapple Salad

This was my first Spring seasonal salad. As the weather warms up, I want to start incorporating fresh, warm weather seasonal ingredients. I also love salads so this was a win/win. I used pineapple and tropical nuts to liven up this colorful and lively salad.

Pan-Seared Tofu with Charred Pineapple Salad

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 of a block of firm organic tofu, cubed
  • 5-6 full leaves of kale, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, slivered*
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple pieces
  • 1/8 cup of macadamia nuts
  • 1/8 cup of almonds
  • 3 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, add cubed tofu and pan-fry for 7-8 minutes, or until cubes are golden brown.
  3. Remove tofu from skillet, and lay on a dry cloth to remove excess oil (if desired). Place slivered carrots in oil and reduce heat to low.
  4. Saute carrots for approximately 2-3 minutes, leaving them crisp.
  5.  Set carrots and tofu aside.
  6. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet on low-medium heat.
  7. Once hot, add pineapple pieces and saute until a nice char forms on the pieces, being sure to stir consistently so that the pieces don’t burn.
  8. Place kale, carrot slivers, macadamia nuts, almonds and tofu in a large mixing bowl.
  9. Add vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss salad to mix dressing and add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Transfer salad to serving bowl and top with charred pineapple. Bon appetit!

 

* I used a vegetable peeler to sliver the carrot but use whatever kitchen tool works best for you or whatever you have at your disposal to achieve carrot slivers.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 5/12/18

Charred Brussel Sprout and Carrot Salad with Raspberry Dressing

This was the last salad I made (and second to last that I posted) using seasonal winter veggies — specifically brussel sprouts and carrots. I wanted to make a salad that had a hearty feel and flavor to it but also still felt light in feel and flavor. My solution? Char some hearty veggies, but use a sweetly flavored, light dressing. Mission accomplished.

Charred Brussel Sprout Salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup spring mix greens
  • 1 cup of brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium avocado, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (link below to see the type I used!*)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, add brussel sprouts and carrots (be careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 8-9 minutes or until the sprouts  and carrots are mostly tender and get a crispy, charred coating on the outer layer. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add spinach and spring mix.
  4. Add charred brussel sprouts and carrots to salad mix.
  5. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and raspberry vinegar and toss salad to cover in oil and vinegar dressing.
  6. Transfer salad to serving bowl and top with avocado cubes. Bon appetit!

 

 

* Alessi white balsamic vinegar, raspberry blush:

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 4/11/18