April 2016 Plant Based Cooking Class

April 10, 2016

 

April mealThe theme for this month’s plant based cooking class was Cooking with Tofu. The 16 participants enjoyed a green smoothie, fried rice with scrambled tofu, stir fried veggies in Chinese Brown Sauce topped with marinated tofu, and a granola bar. All the items were whole, food plant based and no oil was used. The recipes for the class are below.

Digestive Green Smoothie

I believe one of the most important things you can do to improve your diet is to add more dark leafy greens to your diet, and one the best ways to do that is by consuming a green smoothie every day. Challenge yourself to a 30 day trial and see the difference it makes.

This green smoothie uses ingredients that are good for digestion – parsley, pineapple and ginger. It follows the basic green smoothie recipe from the Raw Family (see there website for great information on the importance of greens in your diet) of 2 cups greens, 2 cups fruit and 2 cups water.

SmoothieThe parsley makes this a stronger green tasting smoothie, so if you are new to green smoothies, feel free to substitute half the parlsey with spinach.

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup banana chunks, fresh or frozen
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
  • 2 cups parsley
  • 2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Scrambled Tofu

TofuScrambled tofu can be part of a hearty breakfast or lunch (served with pan fried potatoes and veggies) or can be added to a grain dish like fried rice for an extra protein punch. If using on its own for a meal, a little tofu goes a long way, so be sure to add lots of veggies to tofu.

For the class, we were using the scrambled tofu in the fried rice dish. Since the rice was already chock full of veggies, we didn’t add the kale or mushrooms to the scrambled tofu.

Feel free to use any combination of veggies you like. Asparagus would be great for a spring breakfast meal.

As demonstrated in class, dry frying without oil is not difficult. We used a non-stick electric frying pan and did not need to add any water to prevent sticking.

  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 1 red pepper, diced fine
  • 1 ½ cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups kale or spinach, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch turmeric
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (350 gram) package firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the tofu into small cubes and break apart with your hands (or rub on a grater or metal sieve) or a food processor into crumbles (do not puree).

Sauté onion and pepper, and mushrooms until tender in a frying pan on medium heat, without any oil. If mixture begins to stick, add a tablespoon of water at a time to keep it from sticking. Add kale, garlic, smoked paprika, turmeric and chilli flakes (if using) and mix well.  Add crumbled tofu and nutritional yeast and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.

The tofu scramble will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, or in the freezer for about a month. If freezing, spread on a baking sheet and freeze then transfer to a air proof bag or container then when you need a scoopful for a stir fry you can just scoop out what you need.

Adapted from Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, and from her Breakfast Burrito post.

Marinated Tofu

Marinated tofuI have been making this marinated tofu for over 30 years and it has always been a favorite with the kids as well as adults. You might even win over the most ardent tofu hater with these. They are great as toppings for a rice, grain or veggie dish. For the class, we topped the Veggies in Chinese Brown Sauce with it.

Note you can change up the spices in the marinade to your liking – add crushed chilies or cayenne for a spicier tofu.

For a bacon substitute, slice your tofu into 1 inch by 4 inch strips and add 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (or 1/4 tsp chipotle chili for a spicier option) to the marinade. These are great in sandwiches.

  • 1 (350 gram) package of extra firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp dry ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup water

Drain tofu and slice into ¼ inch sticks. Place tamari, ginger, garlic and water in a non-stick frying pan and mix well. Add tofu and coat thoroughly in marinade. Slowly cook on very low heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid absorbed by the tofu. (this will take about 30 minutes depending on the amount of heat used) Place tofu strips on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake in a low oven (250F) for about 40 to 60 minutes or until desired firmness. (Give them a stir every 15 minutes. ) Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Also freezes well.

Fried Rice with Scrambled Tofu

Fried RiceThe whole grain, or brown, basmati rice is my favorite. Cooked as directed below, you get a light fluffy rice that kids and white rice lovers will enjoy. Remember, rice also freezes well, so cook up a big batch and freeze the left overs for a quick supper. (Freeze on a baking sheet and then transfer to a air tight bag or container. That way you can easily scoop out whatever you need.)

  • 1 cup whole grain basmati rice, uncooked
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • ½ cup scrambled tofu (optional)

To Cook Rice – Bring approximately 6 cups of water to boil in a saucepan. Add salt, if using. Add rice and boil uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan, add onion, peppers, celery and carrot and stir fry until almost done. Add garlic, kale and soy sauce and cook a few minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Just before serving,, unthaw green peas by running under hot water. Add to the rice just before serving. If adding scrambled tofu, add just before serving.

Note, fried rice is also good with added marinated tofu pieces instead of the scrambled tofu.

Chinese Brown Sauce

Rather than buying low sodium soy sauce (which is about the same price as regular), I buy the regular and dilute it by about 1/2 for each recipe.

This sauce recipe, from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook, has become a staple in our household and I often use it for company dinners. I generally triple the recipe and keep a jar in the fridge for fast suppers.  For the class, we served this veggie dish topped with marinated tofu and alongside stir fried rice.  However, it is also fabulous as a topping on noodles. Feel free to change up the veggies and even use as a sauce with frozen veggie mixtures.

  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup, honey, agave or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder or corn starch

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Store in fridge in airtight container for up to 1 week.  Use with vegetable stir fries with grains or noodles.

Five Spice Sauce

 The Five Spice Sauce, from Forks Over Knives, The Cookbook, is our favorite takeoff on the Chinese Brown Sauce. It is especially good over noodles and veggies.

  • ½ cup Chinese Brown Sauce
  • ¾ tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • ¼ tsp crushed red chillies

Combine spices with the brown sauce. Use with stir fried veggies and grains or noodles.

Stir Fry Veggies

VeggiesFor the class, we used a simple combination of onion, red pepper, mushrooms and broccoli but any vegetable combination would do.  For a dish alongside rice, I like to dice the onion and pepper in large 1 inch square pieces and leave the mushrooms large by cutting them into quarters. But if I am serving this over noodles, I like to cut the onion and red peppers into thin strips and slice the mushrooms.

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 6 large mushrooms, cut into quarters (cremini or button mushrooms)
  • 1 head broccoli, stems removed and separated into small florets
  • Chinese brown sauce
  • Toppings – marinated tofu, roasted cashews or toasted sesame seeds

Peel broccoli stems and slice inner core into slices or match stick size pieces. In a large frying pan, non-stick preferred, add onion, peppers, mushrooms and broccoli stem pieces. Over medium heat, stir fry until almost done, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary to prevent sticking.  Add Chinese Brown Sauce and broccoli. Steam until broccoli is just bright green and tender crisp.  Serve topped with marinated tofu pieces, roasted cashews or toasted sesame seeds.

Veggie options – snow peas, cauliflower, carrots, gai lan, etc.

Oil-Free Granola Bars

Granola bar ingredientsThis is a very versatile recipe you make so many different ways. And unlike my previously posted granola bars, this one contains no oil and requires no baking time. Be sure to pack the mixture firmly into your pan to ensure the bars hold together well.

Granola barsThese bars have just the right amount of sweetness. They are perfect for a breakfast on the go (pair up with a green smoothie), a snack, for the lunchbox, or as a dessert.

  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 ¼ cup rice crisp cereal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup add-ins of your choice (see example list below)
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ¼ cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add-In Examples:

  • Seeds – Hemp, Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame or Flax seeds
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chocolate – Cocoa nibs or small dark chocolate chips
  • Dried Fruit – Cranberries, Raisins, currants or chopped apricots
  • Chopped Nuts – pecans, almonds, peanuts or cashews

For the class I used ½ cup sliced almonds, ¼ cup currants, ¼ cup cocoa nibs.

Line a 9 inch square cake pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, rice crisps, cinnamon and add-ins. (If using chocolate chips, add in later)

In a small saucepan, combine brown rice syrup and nut butter. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour hot nut butter mixture over oat mixture, using a spatula to remove everything from the saucepan. Mix well until everything is evenly coated. If using chocolate chips, add once mixture has cooled slightly, or they will just melt. (It helps to freeze the chocolate chips) Transfer mixture onto the prepared pan and pack down well using wet hands (careful, it might be very hot). Using a rolling pin, pastry roller or your hands, compact the mixture firmly and evenly. Use your fingers to press the edges well. (This will help the bars stick together).

Place the pan, uncovered, in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes or until firm enough to cut.  Using the parchment as a handle, lift the mixture out of the pan and cut into bars. Return the bars to the freezer or fridge for storage. If desired, you can individually wrap each bar for on the go snacks.

Double the recipe and pack into a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

From the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon

 

Bonus Recipe – Singapore Noodles

We didn’t make this recipe in the class, but it is one I often serve to company alongside fried rice and stir fried veggies in Chinese Brown Sauce.

  • 1 onion, cut into slices
  • 2 carrots, cut into match sticks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • 4 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder, or to taste
  • ¼ pound brown rice noodles, cooked
  • Ground black pepper

Stir fry onion, carrots, pepper and mushrooms in large skillet without any oil for 3 to 4 minutes. If necessary, add water 1 tbsp at a time to prevent sticking. Add vegetable broth, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and curry powder and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add cooked noodles and season with black pepper.

Change it up by substituting your favourite veggies.

From Forks Over Knives, The Cookbook

 

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