Chipotle tempeh tacos with kohlrabi slaw

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Our CSA pickup is one of my favorite things about summer. Due to some scheduling issues with the pickup time, we made a switch this year to First Root Farm, and we’ve been really happy with the quality and variety so far. After years of participating in a CSA, I’ve discovered that our vegetable intake is much higher when we have it than when we don’t, and it also pushes me to be more creative with meal planning.

With this recipe, I was able to use kohlrabi, beets, carrots, and cilantro from the CSA share, and a chili pepper from my garden. The fresh, cool slaw nicely offsets the savory, spicy tempeh, and let me tell you, this tempeh is SPICY. If your tolerance for spice is in the non-masochistic category, you can dial back on the heat by removing the seeds from the chili pepper in the slaw, and by using chipotle powder in place of canned chipotle chilis.

Chipotle tempeh tacos with kohlrabi slaw

Makes 4-6 tacos

The slaw

2 small kohlrabi bulbs, peeled

1 medium beet, peeled

2 carrots, peeled

Juice from 1/2 lime

1 serrano chili pepper, finely diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt, to taste

The tempeh

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 tsp vegetable oil

14.5 oz can tomato sauce (plain)

2-3 chipotle chili peppers in Adobo sauce

2 tbsp white vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey), add more to taste

1 package tempeh

Other

Whole wheat tortillas (taco or fajita-sized)

Fresh avocado or guacamole

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 scallion, sliced

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Prepare the slaw by shredding the kohlrabi, beet, and carrots. If you have a food processor with a shredding disc, this goes very quickly. If you only have a box grater, you may want to delegate to a friend or family member while you get started on the tempeh. Once everything is shredded, place into a large bowl, add the chili, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Toss to combine, and set aside.

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Look how gorgeous it is!

Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, add the shallots, and saute until they begin to brown. Stir in the tomato sauce, chipotles, vinegar, lime juice, garlic powder, and maple syrup. Taste, and add an additional 1-2 tbsp maple syrup if needed. Cook for 2 minutes to combine flavors. Chop the tempeh into cubes, and add to the sauce. Bring to a boil very briefly, then lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until sauce has thickened (about 10 minutes).

Assemble by filling the tortillas with tempeh, slaw, fresh avocado or guacamole, and garnish with some sliced scallion and cilantro leaves. If you try this recipe, feel free to leave me a comment with feedback!

*Note: Your tempeh should look a bit saucier than what is pictured below. I made some tweaks to the recipe, but didn’t get a good picture.

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Edamame-avocado toast with blistered garlicky tomatoes and spicy sauteed greens

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One of the reasons that I was initially drawn to a career in nutrition is because I enjoyed creating meals that were delicious while still being relatively healthy, and I wanted to inspire others to do the same. Ironically, this was one of the first things to go when life got crazy with nutrition school and my job as a personal trainer. Now that I have finished my dietetic internship and found myself unexpectedly unemployed, I am finding my cooking spark again.

Last week, I made avocado toast with an egg on top, and while it was delicious, the richness of it screamed out for some acidity and freshness. This time around, I blended the avocado with edamame for a protein boost, and topped it with sautéed greens and tomatoes for fiber, micronutrient variety, and flavor. A blood orange on the side added sweetness to my meal, and a sunny side up egg was perfect to round out each bite, and to increase the protein content of the meal. I prioritize protein at every meal because:

  1. As a vegetarian, it is too easy to be protein-deficient and carb-excessive. Vegetarian protein sources typically aren’t as simple to make or as protein-dense as meat sources. Adequate protein intake for many vegetarians requires some intention.
  2. Satiety: A meal that is lacking in protein will set me up to feel hungry all day long. Protein is essential to not overdoing it on other foods.
  3. I want a bigger deadlift.

Edamame-avocado toast with blistered garlicky tomatoes and spicy sautéed greens:

Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

1/4 cup cilantro

Juice of 1 lemon

 

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

1 pint tiny tomatoes (grape, cherry, etc.)

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

5 cups greens of your choice (I used baby spinach and arugula)

Water (as needed)

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

6-8 slices of your favorite bread (I used When Pigs Fly sliced sourdough)

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Instructions:

Cook edamame according to package instructions. Transfer into a food processor, add lemon juice and cilantro, and pulse until desired texture is achieved. Transfer to a medium bowl. Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into the bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to blend together the avocado and edamame mixture *(see note). Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. You should have 1.5-2 cups of mixture.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Slice tomatoes into halves, and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Add tomatoes and garlic to the skillet and cook until tomatoes start to brown, tossing frequently. This should only take a couple of minutes. Remove tomatoes and garlic to a plate.

Prepare your greens as needed. I use pre-washed baby greens to reduce prep time. Add the greens to the skillet, add a bit of water to help them cook down, and cook over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes as desired, toss greens, and remove from heat when the greens are wilted. The amount of water needed and total cook time will depend on the greens that you use, so keep an eye on it.IMG_0424

*Note: Alternately, you can reduce the number of steps by adding the avocado to the food processor with the edamame. I like a bit of texture, so I prefer to hand-mash when possible.

Assembly:

  1. Toast your slices of bread. Spread about 1/4 cup edamame-avocado mixture on each slice.

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2. Arrange the greens on top of the edamame-avocado mixture.

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3. Top with tomatoes and garlic.

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4. Add a cooked egg or other protein source, and a side of fruit for a complete meal.

5. Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Lemon Tofu

Things are busy around here. Hubs has been job hunting for the past couple of months, which has involved lots of meet-ups and networking events.  I’ve had regular evening clients at the gym, along with work to do for my dietetics program. To ensure that we have reasonably nutritious dinners, it has become even more important to plan our meals, stock up on groceries, and make dinners that will last more than one night. Combinations of protein, vegetables, and whole grains tend to fit the bill, providing a variety of nutrients, and acting as a palette for herbs and spices. I’m going to explain the thought process in case anyone out there is trying to figure out how to develop a recipe.

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When planning a meal, I usually start with a general idea, and then decide on the specifics as I go along. In this case, I decided on tofu, wild rice, and roasted vegetables. I then decided on cauliflower and carrots, based on textures, flavors, and nutrients. Carrots and cumin are often paired together, which evolved into the decision to use Moroccan spices with the vegetables. I turned to Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty for ideas, and I ended up adapting the flavors used in his “Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad.” I was dry-frying the tofu while the vegetables were roasting, and I decided that some acidity was needed to balance out the sweet, spicy flavors of the vegetables, so I went with fresh lemon juice on the tofu. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it totally did. Sure, I could have done more with the tofu, but I was trying to keep it simple for a weeknight. I tried to find a decent photo of the meal, but I couldn’t. I’m a terrible photographer. You will just have to take my word for it that it is delicious.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Lemon Tofu

14 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu (I use Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu)

1 lemon

1 head of cauliflower

3 large carrots

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

Red bell pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare wild rice, or grain of your choice, according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, drain the water from the tofu, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, and place a bowl or other weight on top to gently squeeze out excess water. While the tofu is pressing, begin preparing the vegetables. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl. Chop the vegetables (excluding cilantro) into bite-sized pieces and place into a shallow baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, mix to combine, add the spices, and mix again. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring the vegetables halfway through. 10 minutes before the vegetables are done, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. It is VERY important to use a nonstick pan for this cooking method since you are not using any oil. Remove the towels from the tofu,  slice the tofu into small triangles or rectangles, and place into the frying pan in a single layer. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, gently pressing down on each piece with a spatula. Once the tofu is golden brown on the bottom, flip over, and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Lower the heat to “low,” and squeeze lemon juice over the tofu, stirring to coat. Serve with wild rice and vegetables, and garnish vegetables with fresh cilantro.

Hearty Salad: 3 Ways

Oh hi. How’s it going?

Here’s a little update on me, for those who don’t already know. The last day of July was also the last day of my former career. You know, the one that I’ve been trying to change for the past 9 years. Since then, I finished my summer anatomy and physiology class (a year’s worth in 12 weeks), finished an online statistics course, pushed through some serious anxiety to attempt some networking, got my NASM personal training certification, started a food science class, started new workouts, achieved my goal of 205lb deadlifts, and got the personal training process started. It has been a complete lifestyle overhaul, which has simultaneously been both terrifying and wonderful. One of the perks is that I’m often home to experiment with lunch ideas.

I’ve never understood the people who say, “Oh, I’ll just have a salad for lunch,” meaning one of those lettuce-tomato-cucumber-and-nothing-else salads. How do they not spend all afternoon with their stomachs growling? To me it’s like eating air. So anyway, when I think about lunch, my mind immediately goes to some kind of sandwich or wrap. I have no problem consuming enough carbs from other sources, so I try to avoid bread when I feel like it’s not worth it. My lunch solution lately has been to convert my sandwich idea to a salad. A delicious, hearty, satisfying salad, with protein and healthy fat! Ooh, exciting!

Salad #1: Morningstar black bean veggie burger, salsa, 1/4 avocado, fried egg, and salad greens.

Black bean veggie burger, egg, avocado, salsa, and greens.

Black bean veggie burger, egg, avocado, salsa, and greens.

Salad #2: Buffalo Chik’n Salad. I cooked a Quorn Naked Cutlet in Frank’s RedHot Original sauce, then sliced it and added it to a bed of baby spinach with crumbled feta cheese and avocado. I will use blue cheese next time. It also would be good over massaged kale instead of spinach.

Quorn cutlet, Frank's RedHot, avocado, feta, and baby spinach.

Quorn cutlet, Frank’s RedHot, avocado, feta, and baby spinach.

Salad #3: Fall Celebration Salad! We picked 32 pounds of apples. We obviously had to have brie on hand to go with our apples and freshly made apple butter. This combination obviously needed to go into a salad. So, I sauteed a serving of Gardein mandarin orange crispy chik’n (but without the orange sauce), and then added about 1 tbsp of apple butter to it. This went over a bed of baby arugula, chopped apple, brie, and hazelnuts. Not the healthiest choice, but sooooo good!

Apple butter chik'n, brie, apple, hazelnuts, and baby arugula.

Apple butter chik’n, brie, apple, hazelnuts, and baby arugula.

So, the lesson learned today is that salads do not have to be boring and unsatisfying.

Enjoy!