Category Archives: Cooked Food

How to Make Sushi – An Easy Tutorial!

sushi

I’ve had this sushi tutorial on my old domain from college for years. I’ve been thinking for a long time that since I have a proper food blog (which is now over two years old!), that I ought to migrate that content over here. 

I’m going to teach you how to make sushi. It might sound intimidating, but it’s actually pretty easy once you practice a few times. The best part is that it is so much cheaper to make it at home, and you can often find the ingredients in bulk at very reasonable prices at your local Asian market.

raw vegan sushi

Tools

There are some really handy tools I recommend for making sushi at home, which will make your life much easier. You might find them at your local grocery store or big box store since making sushi at home has become trendy in recent years, or you might find a better deal online. Here is what you will need, along with some handy Amazon links to purchase them (and I am very grateful for any purchases you make there, since it helps to keep the virtual lights on for this blog). 

raw vegan sushi

Sushi Related Japanese Words and Phrases 

…And before we get started with the instructions, here are some fun sushi vocabulary words, so you can sound like a pro when telling all of your friends how to make sushi. 

  • Sushi – Literally, “sticky rice,” but in general, refers to anything made from the sticky vinegared rice. 
  • Nori – Dried and pressed sheets of seaweed. 
  • Maki OR “norimaki“- Regular old seaweed on the outside sushi roll.
  • Futomaki – Super big maki roll using a whole piece of Nori, rather than half.
  • Ura Maki – Inside out roll.
  • Temaki – Cone shaped hand roll.
  • Nigiri – A topping laid over a small bed of rice. Usually, this is fish, but you can use any veggie you like. 😉
  • Onigiri – A plain old rice ball filled with fun stuffin’s. 
  • Kappa – Cucumber (Kappa maki = cucumber roll).
  • Kombu – Kelp

Visual Reference for Rolling

Here is a series of images from the original (and very vintage, I might add, because they are so not my usual professional quality) blog post showing how to roll up your sushi. 

sushi-tutorial-13-add-rice-to-nori
sushi-tutorial-14-how-to-roll-sushi
sushi-tutorial-15-how-to-roll-sushisushi-tutorial-16-how-to-roll-sushisushi-tutorial-17-how-to-roll-sushisushi-tutorial-19-how-to-cut-a-sushi-roll

How to Make Sushi
Learn how to make sushi at home with this easy sushi tutorial. With the right tools, you'll be 'on a roll' in no time! This instructional guide uses vegetable rolls, so it's 100% vegan friendly!
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Rice
  1. 2 cups uncooked sushi rice
  2. 2.5 cups water (for cooking)
  3. 1/4 cup sushi vinegar
Wraps
  1. 4-6 sheets nori (assuming we are making maki rolls with the rice on the inside)
Fillings
  1. Cucumber
  2. Carrot
  3. Avocado
  4. Scallions
  5. Bell pepper
  6. Sunflower sprouts
  7. Pickled vegetables
  8. Marinaded tofu strips, tempeh, or other faux meats, if you're into that kind of thing
Preparing and Cooking the Rice
  1. Rinse the sushi rice until the rinse water runs clear, not cloudy. This is starch you are washing off. You can put the rice into a strainer under a faucet, but I find it's handy to put the strainer with the rice directly into a bowl of water, and then swish it around with my hands. You'll have to change the water a couple times, but you can see when it's "clean" a lot easier.
  2. Bring cooking water to a boil in a pot. Add rice. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low/simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the water is all absorbed. Alternatively, you can be lazy like me and use a rice cooker.
Preparing the Fillings
  1. While the rice is cooking, cut your fillings into long even strips. For cucumbers and carrots, use a julienne peeler to make the perfect squared edge strips that you see in a Japanese restaurant. They turn out so professional looking and it's much faster than chopping by hand. If you are including avocado, cut into thin wedges.
Seasoning the Rice
  1. When the rice is done cooking, fluff it a bit in the pot, so that it won't dump out into your bowl into one big clump. Sushi rice is sticky, and it will want to hold together.
  2. Transfer the rice to a non-metallic bowl. Metal will interact negatively with the vinegar that the rice is seasoned with. Add the vinegar and stir with your rice paddle or large non-metallic spoon.
Rolling the Sushi (Reference the blog post for some illustrations on what the rolling process looks like)
  1. For maki rolls, you need half a sheet of nori. Cut it in half so that the fold runs parallel with the perforated lines on the sheet. You can also just fold it and tear it gently along the fold.
  2. Lay the half sheet of nori on your sushi mat, again with the perforated lines running parallel to the bamboo strips on the mat.
  3. Cover the sheet with a thin even layer of the rice. It's VERY sticky. Leave about a 1/2 - 3/4 inch uncovered on the edge that is farthest away from you. Keep a small bowl of water nearby to dip your hands into if you don't want the rice to stick to them.
  4. Place some of the veggies on top the rice. Don't overfill. When you roll it together, the edges of the rice should touch together. It helps to run a wet finger along the un-riced edge so it will stick and seal the roll closed.
  5. Make sure the edge of the seaweed (closest to you) is lined up with the edge of the mat. Hold the veggies with your fingertips and use your thumbs to start curling the mat up. Guide the veggies firmly toward the center of the roll as you bring the edge of the mat up and over to start forming the roll.
  6. As you start rolling the mat up and over the veggies, the tube will start to form.
  7. When the mat hits the edge as you are rolling, then just peel it back, fold it under a bit, and start rolling again so that the edge of the mat will come over the roll. Once the maki is rolled all the way, put your fingers over the roll and give it a good squeeze and tug to make sure it's nice and firm, and round out the shape.
  8. If you have veggie pieces sticking out from the ends, just give them a trim with a good SHARP knife to make the ends flat.
Cutting the Sushi
  1. Use a VERY SHARP knife and slice it into about 6 pieces. A sharp knife is very important to making sure the roll has straight even edges and won't rip when cutting. It helps to dip the knife into some water before cutting the roll. Make sure there is no rice on the edge of the blade from cutting previous rolls.
Ura Maki Variation (Rice on the Outside)
  1. To make url maki, cover the entire half sheet of nori with rice and flip it over.
  2. Place the veggies on the seaweed. Since there is no rice taking up room, you can use more to fill the center.
  3. Roll in the same manner as the regular maki, ensuring that the edges of the rice overlap slightly so that the roll will stick closed.
  4. Garnish with some sesame seeds, if desired.
Hand Roll Variation (Low Carb)
  1. You can also use your half sheet of nori to make a hand roll (a sushi cone that you can hold in your hand). Cover it with a tender lettuce leaf, skip the rice, add your fillings on a 45 degree angle from one of the corners, and then roll it on a diagonal, wrapping the extra around and using a little water to seal the edges shut.
Notes
  1. Cook as much rice as you want using a ratio of 1:1.25 (rice:water).
  2. Each cup of uncooked rice will make 4-6 sushi rolls.
  3. For every cup of uncooked rice that you started with, use 2TB vinegar to season.
  4. "Sushi Vinegar" is rice vinegar with the addition of salt and sugar.
  5. Some sushi vinegars are malted, which means they may not be gluten free. If you are sensitive to gluten, make sure you read the labels carefully to find a product that meets your dietary standards.
  6. If you cannot find a sushi vinegar that is unsalted, you can make your own sushi vinegar using this formula - ½ cup of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt (it will be enough for 3 cups uncooked rice). You could try using a natural liquid sweetener here in place of the sugar. Just make sure to check substitution ratios, as some are more or less sweet than sugar.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Red Beans and Rice Stuffed Peppers – Vegan and Oil Free

Red beans and rice stuffed peppers

I had been wanting to do a variation on red beans and rice for a while. I found some bell peppers on sale at the grocery store, so I thought it might be fun to incorporate the bell pepper as an external component and make stuffed peppers instead of chopping the peppers up and mixing them into the rice and beans. 

red beans and rice stuffed peppers - vegan and oil free

This stuffed peppers recipe came together quite nicely and worked out really well for my meal planning because I was able to pre-stuff all of the peppers and then just line them up on a baking pan in my refrigerator. The ones that wouldn’t stand up on their own were situated in some small ramekin bowls. They stayed fresh for the whole work week, and all I had to do was put them into a bread pan to bake them two at a time (or you could use a 9×9 pan to bake four at a time) when I came home from work. Alternatively, these would also work well if you wanted to create some freezer meals from them while peppers are in season and the prices are a bit lower. 

red beans and rice stuffed peppers - vegan and oil free

 

Red Beans and Rice Stuffed Peppers - Vegan and Oil Free
Serves 4
Smokey and spicy, this flavorful recipe is simple to prepare and works well to make ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator or freezer until it is time to cook them.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Stuffed Pepper Base Ingredients
  1. 5-6 bell peppers in any color
  2. 2 cups cooked whole grain brown rice (you can do this ahead of time in a rice cooker)
  3. 2 cups cooked kidney beans (you can do this ahead of time in a crock pot or use canned beans)
Sauté Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  2. 1/2 sweet onion
  3. 2 stalks celery
  4. 2 clove garlic
  5. 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  6. 2 tsp smoked paprika
  7. couple pinches black pepper
  8. pinch white pepper (very small pinch - it is potent)
  9. pinch cayenne pepper (optional - omit if you don't like spicy)
  10. pinch sea salt as needed (this really depends on your broth)
Instructions
  1. Cut tops off of bell peppers and remove seeds and innards. Set aside.
  2. Put cooked rice and beans into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the vegetable broth to a large sauce pan and simmer at medium heat.
  4. Sauté all ingredients listed under "Sauté Ingredients" section in the sauce pan.
  5. When vegetables are cooked and soft, pour entire contents of sauce pan into the large mixing bowl and stir until evenly mixed into rice and beans.
  6. Add mixture to bell peppers until even with cut top.
  7. Put tops on peppers and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  8. When ready to bake, put in a glass pan with raised sides (to keep them from tipping over) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until peppers are soft and easily pierced with a fork.
Notes
  1. If you decide to freeze them, the bake time might be a little longer than 45 minutes, perhaps closer to 60 minutes.
  2. The number of peppers required will depend on the size and variety of peppers you are using.
  3. Rather than cutting the tops off, you could slice the peppers in half vertically and make half stuffed peppers. When you bake them, the stuffing will be open to the hot air in the oven and get crispy on the top.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Summer Succotash Salad & Peas Vs. Lima Beans

Summer Succotash Salad

As my caloric needs have gone up with more intense workouts, I’ve been experimenting with different food sources that can offer greater nutritional density per serving size. I’ve also been experimenting with eliminating protein powder from my daily regimen, in favor of a purely whole food approach.

PeasI noticed that pea protein seemed to be pretty popular as a supplement, so I set out to investigate the humble pea. I wanted to see what all the commotion was about, and also compare it to some other similar vegetables, to see if there was room for improvement.

My focus was on a few key areas:

  • Can I get a greater caloric value in the same volume of food? On a whole food plant based diet with a daily intake of 3,000+ calories, this becomes very important because plant food is very bulky, and sometimes the sheer volume of food that I have to eat can become uncomfortable if I am not making the right choices. 
  • Can I increase my fiber intake? I am a big fan of fiber. The more, the better. Various types of fibers and starches feed our microbiome. The more we eat, the healthier our gut flora is. Jeff Leach, Founder of the Human Food Project talks in depth about the eating habits of the Hadza, one of the few hunter-gather tribes left on the planet; their daily fiber intake is 75-100g, which is 7 times what the average American eats. I aim for 100g a day. 
  • Can I improve the omega fatty acid ratio? A healthy dietary omega fatty acid ratio is very important not only for overall good health, but for dropping fat and building muscle because a healthy ratio increases insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, and supports a healthy metabolism by protecting the liver.
  • Can I improve my intake of nutrients that are harder to come by on a plant-based diet, such as iron and selenium?

After a little searching, I found a viable candidate: the mighty lima bean! I put them side-by-side in this cute little infographic to illustrate the factors in my decision to eat more lima beans!

Peas Vs Lima Beans

Naturally, after I came upon this, I had to put some lima bean recipes together. Since it is summer time, I decided on a light succotash recipe with fresh herbs from my garden and bell peppers, which are in peak season right now. 

Please enjoy. 🙂

Summer Succotash Salad
Serves 4
This summer succotash salad is simple and quick to make, and full of plant-based protein. It is rich with texture and flavor, yet light without overpowering. It is a delightful dish to serve as a side at a summer picnic or gathering.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups lima beans, thawed from frozen
  2. 2 cups organic corn, thawed from frozen (best option to find organic non-gmo)
  3. 1 red or orange bell pepper, small dice
  4. 4 scallions, chopped
  5. 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped (I used purple since that's what I'm growing)
  6. 2 TB spearmint, finely chopped
  7. 3 TB fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  9. couple pinches sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and allow to marinade in the refrigerator overnight for the best flavor.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

German Potato Salad – Vegan and Oil Free

German Potato Salad - Oil Free and Vegan

I realize that I haven’t updated this blog with new recipes in a while. There is a very good reason for that. I’ve been making some big changes. After spending my entire adult life sitting in a cubicle, being sedentary with the exception of a few times I tried to start an exercise habit, I started to get some weird aches and pains, and decided it might be a good idea to force myself to stick with it this time. I committed to a gym membership, which would be difficult to walk away from because one of my friends worked there!

I’ve been weight lifting and practicing some Yoga for the last six months. During that time, I’ve also been tinkering with my diet a bit more in order to maximize my lean gains and fat losses. These photos are from about six months into my journey, but as of now, I am up about 12 lbs of lean mass and down about 6 lbs of fat. Most of these changes have been since the beginning of May, once I really figured out what I was doing with my diet and my workout plans (thanks to a little help from my super awesome trainer). 

6 Months whole food plant based diet and weight training

Practicing Yoga Crow Pose

So, now that I’ve got my approach figured out, I’ve been actively working to put meal plans together and to compile a book about building muscle and cutting fat on a whole food plant based diet. My diet was pretty utilitarian for a while, but I’ve made it a point to carve out some time to put some basic recipes together again. They are healthful, flavorful, and fit 100% within the whole food plant based approach as outlined by T. Colin Campbell in his latest book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.

German Potato Salad - Oil Free and Vegan

I do include a lot of resistant starches and different types of fiber in my diet because they are prebiotics, meaning they are food for our gut flora. The whole-food plant based diet is naturally high in carbohydrates and low in fat, and as I am now consuming 3,000+ calories a day, I get plenty of fiber and fuel for my workouts. One of the recipes that I recently put together was this German potato salad with multi-colored potatoes. It was light and delicious, even without bacon or oil, which are included in most other variations. 

As an added bonus, the parsley came from my porch garden. 🙂

German Potato Salad - Vegan and Oil Free
Serves 5
This easy German potato salad recipe adheres to the low fat whole food plant based diet guidelines. It is oil free, and full of color and flavor! It makes a very large batch, which would be perfect for a picnic or your next family gathering.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 35 small red/blue/yellow potatoes of 50-70g each
  2. 1 sweet onion, diced (I love onion, cut back on the onion if you don't)
  3. 5 stalk celery, diced
  4. 1 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  5. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  6. 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  7. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  8. Sea salt to taste (optional, depending if your broth has added salt or not)
Instructions
  1. Bake the potatoes at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  2. After potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into small wedges or cubes.
  3. Chop celery, onions, and parsley.
  4. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight to really let the flavors mingle together.
Notes
  1. I made this large batch of potato salad to serve as one of the 6 "meals" that I eat throughout the day. It made 5 portions that I would describe as "large snack sized". The recipe is easily sized up or down, depending on how much you'd like to make.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Easy Gluten Free Vegan Sourdough Bread Recipe

simple gluten free sourdough bread

This is an easy gluten free vegan sourdough bread recipe that you can make at home without a lot of complicated ingredients. It is soft and airy, yet moist and flexible – the perfect sandwich bread! It took a few tries to perfect the process, but I am consistently getting good results from this recipe and method now, so I feel confident that it is ready to share with everyone!

I have only found one gluten free vegan bread available for purchase (from a local bakery, and it was really expensive) that even resembled the taste and texture of the gluten-filled, egg laden breads I used to eat. Most of the gluten free breads out there are terrible, to be honest. The taste and texture just aren’t the same. When the egg and dairy are also removed, they often end up dense and dry, or both. They are hardly suitable for sandwiches. 

I’m not trying to “toot my own horn”, but this bread is amazing. 

easy gluten free sourdough bread

It is moist in the center and cooked all the way through. There are not gummy or dry patches. It has nice air pockets, and a good “squishy” texture. It cuts without crumbling and falling apart. I can bend it a good amount without breaking, so it holds together well. It has even passed “the sandwich test”. Yes, this is a glorious sandwich bread. 

I really hope that you enjoy it. I have put a lot of time, energy, and experimentation into coming up with something that is amazing, so I can share it with everyone else out there who might have as many food allergies and intolerances as I do. It is nice to eat real food again.

gluten free sourdough bread recipe easy gluten free sourdough bread recipe simple gluten free sourdough bread recipe

Simple Gluten Free Sourdough Bread Recipe
Yields 1
This easy gluten free vegan sourdough bread recipe with simple ingredients produces a bread that is airy, moist, flexible, and absolutely perfect for making sandwiches.
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Starter Ingredients
  1. 3 cups brown rice flour
  2. 3 cups water kefir, kombucha, fermented coconut water, or any other yeasty fermented beverage
  3. 1/2 gallon glass jar or other large glass container
Bread Ingredients
  1. 3 cups sourdough starter
  2. 3/4 cup millet flour
  3. 2 TB psyllium
  4. 2 TB Ener-g egg replacer (or 2 TB of flax seed)
  5. 1 tsp salt
  6. 1/2 cup liquid (nut milk preferred, but a fermented beverage adds a more "sour" flavor to the bread)
Starter Instructions
  1. Add 1 cup of brown rice flour and 1 cup of the fermented beverage to a large glass container. Stir to mix well. Cover with cheesecloth and let it sit for 24 hours. You should start to see a little bubbling or some "puffiness".
  2. Once a day for the next 4 days, add 1/2 cup each of the flour and fermented liquid and stir to mix well. Some people say that it is better to do 1/4 each twice a day for GF starters, but I have had equally good results just "feeding" it once a day.
  3. After this point, you should have a fragrant and airy GF sourdough starter!
Bread Directions
  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients (everything except starter and liquid) together in a bowl. Whisk or sift so they are well-combined.
  2. Add the liquid and the starter and mix with a large spoon until everything is just combined. Don't over-mix so you won't let the air out.
  3. Grease a stoneware pan with coconut oil OR line a glass pan with foil OR use a non-stick pan (there are some good ones made from silicon).
  4. Proof the bread with your preferred method. Please refer to "Notes" section for options.
  5. After the batter has risen, bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Test that a toothpick comes out clean from the middle.
  6. When the bread is done, let it cool completely in the pan, covered with a towel. I put mine into a very large stockpot with a lid or in the microwave and just let it cool overnight (to keep the cats away from it). We want the steam inside to keep cooking the center of the bread.
  7. After the bread has completely cooled, carefully remove it (and remove the foil if you used that method) and transfer to a cutting board, to slice however you'd like. Don't forget that the end pieces are the best part! =D
Notes
  1. For the bread batter liquid, I have used fresh and fermented nut milk, as well as fermented coconut water. The final product has been great for all of them. You could probably even use a GF beer if you wanted to.
  2. When using a glass pan, I have tried greasing the pan generously, but the bread still sticks. Foil seems to be the best method of easily getting the loaf out while not ripping it apart in the process. You could maybe try two pieces of parchment paper, one horizontal and one vertical if you are opposed to foil. I haven't tried this method, but to prevent the batter from going beneath the paper, I'd recommend greasing the pan so that the paper sticks to it.
  3. I have used just millet and also blends of millet and white rice flour in the batter, and it turns out about the same. The only thing I use in my starter, however, is brown rice flour. When I use other flours in the starter, the bread quality isn't the same.
  4. I have been using the same starter for several batches of bread now. When you aren't feeding it, it keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks. I was able to revive mine with no problem. I wouldn't leave it in the fridge longer than that though after some additional experimentation. Traditional starters will last a long time when refrigerated, but GF starters can be finicky.
Proofing Options
  1. OVEN METHOD 1: You may be lucky enough to have a "proof" setting on your oven. I do!
  2. OVEN METHOD 2: Turn oven on to lowest setting for just a few minutes to warm it, then turn it off. Put the bread pan in the center and allow it to rise for a few hours or until the bread puffs up over the edge of the bread pan a bit.
  3. OVEN METHOD 3: http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/01/turn-your-oven-into-proofing-oven.html
  4. DEHYDRATOR METHOD: Cover your bread pan tightly with plastic wrap or insert it into a larger container with a lid to keep it from drying out. Set the dehydrator to 110-5 and proof for 2-3 hours. If the batter is not sealed into the pan completely, the bread will dry out.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Vegan Chipotle Chili Stew

vegan chipotle chili

Mmmmmmm, chili! We had a little “cold front” here in central Florida recently. It dropped down into the mid-high 40s for about 3 days in a row. It’s practically shorts and flip flops weather again, but we needed something with a little heat to warm us up. My husband hinted that it was great weather for chili, so we took out the crock put and put this fabulously spicy and smoky chipotle chili stew together! 

vegan chipotle chili

I get really excited about cold weather because it gives me excuses to experiment with various vegan chilis and stews. They’re also hearty enough that my husband will happily eat them without missing the meat, so that makes me happy. 

This chili ended up a little runnier than I was hoping because I haven’t used my crockpot in so long. I was a little rusty on which dishes need extra liquid for different cook times, etc. It turned out more like a cross between a chili and a Mexican stew, which was just fine with me! We served it over whole grain brown rice, and it turned out just wonderful! 

vegan chipotle chili

This chili has a variety of beans, bell peppers, mushrooms, and corn. I normally like to add black olives too, but I was so excited about the cold weather and the opportunity to make a batch of chili that I completely forgot. There are a lot of spices in this too for extra flavor: a few spicy peppers along with smoked paprika and chipotle, garlic etc. It has a really rich, smoky, and spicy flavor profile. If you don’t like spicy, feel free to omit the ingredients which are obviously added for extra heat, like the cayenne pepper. My mother would not go near this chili. 😉

I also wanted to make a cream sauce to go on top of it, but my husband wasn’t in the mood for sour cream, so I whipped up an onion hemp cream sauce to drizzle over the top. Most of the flavor comes from onion powder. This worked out really well since I did not have enough fresh onion to use in the actual chili. It was a nice flavor compliment to the other vegetables and the smoky flavors in the dish. 

vegan chipotle chili

 

Chipotle Chili Stew w/Onion Hemp Cream
Serves 8
Looking for something warm and smoky to warm you up this winter? This spicy chipotle chili is an easy vegan meal. Served over whole grain rice with an onion hemp cream sauce.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 10 min
Chili Ingredients
  1. 56 oz crushed tomatoes (2-28 oz cans)
  2. 15 oz each (appx 1 can or make from dried): black, pinto, kidney, and chickpeas
  3. 10 oz fresh or frozen corn
  4. 8-10 oz chopped fresh white button mushrooms
  5. 8-10 oz fresh or frozen chopped bell peppers
  6. 2 TB dried cilantro
  7. 1 TB chili powder
  8. 1 TB cumin
  9. 1 TB chipotle chili (omit if you do not want it spicy)
  10. 1 TB smoked paprika
  11. 1-2 tsp smoked sea salt (to taste - there is no other salt in the recipe)
  12. 1 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if you do not want it spicy)
  13. 1 tsp red pepper flake (omit if you do not want it spicy)
  14. 1 tsp garlic powder
  15. 1-2 cups water (2 for a thinner "stew" and 1/2-1 for a thicker "chili")
Onion Hemp Cream Ingredients
  1. 1/4-1/2 cup water (depending upon desired thickness)
  2. 1/2 cup hemp seed
  3. 1 tsp onion powder
  4. 2 TB nutritional yeast
  5. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  6. juice of 1/2 a lemon (add to taste)
Base Grain Ingredients
  1. whole grain brown rice - 3 cups uncooked
Instructions
  1. Put all chili ingredients in a 6 qt. crockpot and mix until well combined. Set it on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.
  2. Prepare rice as indicated on package before serving. We use a rice cooker, and it takes appx. 45-50 minutes.
  3. Blend all onion cream ingredient in a high speed blender until well combined.
  4. To assemble, place some rice in the bottom of a shallow bowl, spoon chili on top, and drizzle a little onion cream sauce on top. You can also top with some micro greens if you'd like. I really enjoyed the slight textural crunch and fresh flavor that they added.
Notes
  1. All of the ingredients for this recipe were organic. Please look for organic ingredients when possible.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Quinoa Collard Wraps (Vegan)

raw vegan quinoa collard wraps

In response to all of the intricate raw food posts I’ve made over the last several months, I’ve been hearing a common question: “When do you have time to do all of that?!” Well, the truth is that I don’t, and I often had to sacrifice my sleep to complete everything on time. The learning experience was fantastic, but I need a little break, so I’m taking the month of November off to rest and do some traveling.

Like most other full time working professionals, my free time is limited to evenings and weekends, and many times after a long day, I’m just tired and don’t want to put a lot of effort info food preparation. Of course, I always want to make sure that I’m not sacrificing the quality or nutritional value of my food when I do so. I still shop almost exclusively in the produce department and make everything from scratch.

So, what was on my dinner plate this evening? Quinoa collard wraps! There is a local restaurant here where we live that makes wraps, which my husband is very fond of (I’ve never tried them). Today, he mentioned swinging by there for lunch, and I suggested that since he liked wraps so much, we should just pick up some ingredients at the grocery store to make our own much more affordably. Big thumbs up from Mr. Frugal. =D

raw vegan quinoa collard wraps

We obviously have much different tastes in food (hence the name of this blog). While he is using whole wheat tortillas and turkey in his, I love to use gigantic collard greens as wraps and fill them with vegetables. Quinoa also makes a really hearty filling for wraps. While many traditional wraps put the grains on the outside and greens on the inside, I like to reverse it! I get a lot more green in my diet this way. 

These were really easy to make. I cooked some quinoa and seasoned it like a tuna salad with celery and onion. Something that I also really love to add to quinoa is a good quality mustard. In this case, I used a 100% homemade curry honey mustard! A little of this stuff goes a long way. Use it sparingly!

curry honey mustard

Of course, you can use any kind that you like, but but seasoning the quinoa with any sauce or spread you might put in a sandwich, you don’t have to worry about it dripping out of your wrap while you’re trying to eat it.

I also added tomato, some yellow bell pepper, some spicy radish sprouts, and a few slices of homemade pickles from cucumbers that I grew on my porch. 

dill pickles

Cucumbers in brine, at the start of the pickling process.

All you have to do is layer in your ingredients and then wrap it up just like a burrito. After that, slice it in half (on the diagonal to be a little fancier), and voila!

raw vegan quinoa collard wraps

I ate two of these for dinner, and I feel very satisfied. I also met my requirement of adding something leafy and green to every meal. 😉

This is an incredibly healthy meal for several reasons:

  • Quinoa is a great plant-based source of protein, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. It is one of the only grains which can be considered a “complete protein”, and it also contains more minerals than other grains.
  • Quinoa contains a bioflavanoid called “quercetin”, which is also found in the skins of apples and onions. It helps to stabilize mast cells and prevent the release of histamine. If you have allergies, this is a great food to incorporate into your diet. 
  • Leafy greens are a great source of calcium in general, but collards are the best source of calcium among all leafy greens, or any other vegetable for that matter!
  • Collards are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, and vitamin C. 2 cups of chopped collards give you 92% of all the RDA for vitamin C. The leaves in this recipe are so large, they easily blow that out of the water. 
  • Collard greens are also a source of ALA (omega-3). Combined with vitamin K, they are a highly anti-inflammatory food.
  • Collard greens are effective at lowering cholesterol! Their high fiber content and the nutrients they contain bind to the bile acids that are released by our gallbladders after eating a fatty meal. Instead of getting reabsorbed into the body along with the fat, they pass through the intestines and existing cholesterol must be broken down to make more bile acids. This is actually the same mechanism by which some cholesterol drugs work. (Source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138)

Please enjoy this recipe!

Quinoa Collard Wraps
Serves 1
These quinoa collard wraps are not only easy and quick to make, they are also delicious and nutritious!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
Wrap Ingredients
  1. 2 giant collard leaves - washed, dried, and stems shaved down flat
Quinoa Ingredients
  1. 1 cup cooked quinoa
  2. 1/2-1tsp honey mustard
  3. 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  4. 2-3 tsp red onion, finely chopped
  5. pinch or two of salt, to taste
  6. twist or two of black pepper, to taste
Other Wrap Fillings
  1. 1/4 bell pepper, cut into strips
  2. 1/2 tomato, thinly sliced
  3. 6-8 small dill pickle slices (don't skip these!)
  4. sprouts of your choice (optional for extra "green")
Instructions
  1. If you have leftover quinoa, this is a great use for it! Just mix in the "Quinoa Ingredients".
  2. If you need to cook the quinoa, follow the instructions on the package or just throw it in a rice cooker if you can't be bothered to read such things (guilty). Just make sure you rinse it first to remove residue which can result in bitterness.
  3. Chop the vegetables. If you had to cook your quinoa, mix the celery and onion in while it's still warm to soften them a bit. They are also good crunchy!
  4. Lay your prepared collard leaves down on a flat surface. Don't forget to shave the stems down with a sharp knife so the leaves can be rolled easily.
  5. Depending on the size of your collard greens, add appx 1/4 cup of quinoa (or maybe a little more or less) to the center of the leaf.
  6. Add any other wrap fillings that you'd like.
  7. Roll it up like a burrito.
  8. Slice it up and eat it!
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Quinoa & Lentils, Simple Salad, and Sauerkraut

A simple vegan meal for two of both cooked and raw foods: germinated quinoa and lentils, salad of romaine and cucumber, homemade sauerkraut

Dear Internet,

I have great news! In an effort to be more frugal, I am now preparing all of the meals for both my husband and I from scratch. We’ve been all about simplifying our lives (even more) and “getting rid of (even more) stuff” lately. As I am the cook, he’s been eating vegan food. It’s a lot cheaper and better for the planet to eat good quality plant based foods than to eat animal proteins. He’s dropped a few pounds and is looking even hotter than usual. Hooray for easy vegan meals. 😉 

sauerkraut

We also rearranged the furniture at about the same time that we started to implement this, so now we get to sit down every night and share a nice meal and some conversation together. It’s really been wonderful, though I will have to admit, it is more time consuming than I thought it would be. In an attempt to not keep him waiting too long for dinner, I haven’t been as diligent at recording my recipes, and I haven’t really been using recipes, so much as throwing together simple, healthy, and very affordable meals with items we already have on hand.

quinoa and lentils

While I prefer more raw food, he prefers more cooked food, and I want to be able to accommodate both of us, and also make sure he’s still getting some “roughage” since cooking destroys certain heat-sensitive vitamins, like vitamin C (which, as a friendly reminder, humans are unable to produce on their own like most other animals on the planet – we must consume it from our food). 

romaine and cucumber salad

After struggling over whether or not to post these ridiculously easy vegan meals, it struck me that this very thing was the original premise of my blog. My husband is actually eating and enjoying the vegan meals that I’m preparing. It truly is a “taste of two plates” now! =D

By incorporating some of my own dietary tweaks (which I also feed to my husband), I’ve seen additional improvements to my health as well. Since I cut oils (except for a little flax) out of my diet and started to treat nuts and seeds as condiments rather than snacks or main ingredients, I’ve dropped about 2% body fat (no lean tissue loss), have very sound sleep with minimal disturbances, have been getting up earlier, and have been feeling rested on less sleep. This is nothing short of a miracle for me. For all the health issues I’ve managed to reverse, I’ve still always needed a lot of sleep.

simple vegan meals

This evening’s dinner consisted of a large romaine and cucumber salad, some homemade sauerkraut (love the bugs!), and some sprouted lentils and quinoa with parsley and a honey mustard sauce (the only cooked part of the meal). Yes, I use local raw honey (to build immunity against local pollen), but you may use any natural sweetener you like (such as a fruit puree). I’ve been buying dried lentils, beans, and seeds, so I can soak and germinate them before eating, whether they will end up being cooked or eaten raw. This reduces the phytic acid content and makes them more digestible. Less phytic acid means you can absorb more nutrients from the rest of your food too. 

Apricot Honey Mustard Quinoa & Lentils, Simple Salad, and Sauerkraut
Serves 2
An easy vegan meal with a lot of raw food, a little cooked food, and a healthy dose of probiotics. The quinoa and lentils are germinated to maximize nutrition and digestibility, and are also hearty and flavorful enough to please the omnivores in your house.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Sauerkraut Ingredients
  1. Easy Sauerkraut Recipe
Quinoa & Lentils Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  2. 1/2 cup dried lentils
  3. large handful fresh parsley, chopped
  4. 2 TB cup organic mustard
  5. 3 TB water
  6. 2 TB ACV
  7. 1 TB naturally sweetened apricot fruit spread (e.g. Polaner's) - optional, but delicious
  8. 2 TB local raw honey (or preferred vegan sweetener - or just add extra apricot spread)
  9. 1/4 tsp sea salt
Salad Ingredients
  1. 1/2 head of romaine
  2. 1 cucumber (peeled if not organic)
  3. 2 TB flax oil
  4. 2 TB raw ACV or lemon juice
  5. Dried herbs of your choice (optional - I used fennel and dill on mine)
  6. Tiny pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Germinating Quinoa and Lentils (Optional)
  1. The night before you want to make this, soak the quinoa and lentils overnight (in separate bowls), drain in the morning, and then leave on the counter, covered loosely with a towel, during the day. If you want instant gratification, you don't need to do this advanced prep work, but it makes them much more nutritious and digestible.
Cooking Quinoa and Lentils
  1. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa, cook the quinoa either in a rice cooker or simmer for appx. 20 minutes on the stove after bringing the water to a boil.
  2. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to lentils, simmer the lentils for appx. 30 minutes on the stove after bringing the water to a boil (test for tenderness).
  3. Combine in a bowl and mix in the parsley (bonus points if you grew it yourself).
  4. Whisk in a bowl until well blended: mustard, water, ACV, apricot spread, honey (or other sweetener), and sea salt.
  5. Pour the sauce over the quinoa and lentil mixture and stir it in.
Salad Directions
  1. Layer greens and veggies on the plate.
  2. Top each salad with 1 TB each flax seed oil and ACV or lemon juice.
  3. Add some dried herbs if you like.
Notes
  1. For best preparation efficiency, start cooking the lentils first, then the quinoa. While those are on the pot, prepare the sauce, chop the salad vegetables, and retrieve your sauerkraut from the fridge.
  2. I use local raw honey because it helps to keep my allergies at bay. You are welcome to use any other natural sweetener that you would like in this recipe if you would like a truly vegan alternative.
  3. You are welcome to use any dressing you like on the salad in order to have a peaceful meal with the omnivores in your life. My husband and I do not use the same salad dressings. 🙂
  4. I like my food a bit on the spicy side. If the mustard is too potent for you in the sauce, feel free to add a little extra water to dilute it. Keep in mind that once it is mixed into the quinoa and lentils, they will soak it up and it will not be as strong.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Italian Pasta Salad (Vegan, cooked w/raw option)

Pasta Primavera Salad - Vegan and Gluten Free

This Italian pasta salad recipe is heart-healthy and easy to make. It is low in fat and full of raw vegetables with a flavorful flax seed oil pesto sauce.

My Dietary Transition

I have been working to transition my diet to that which follows the protocols outlined by Dr. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn for optimal human health. (Check out the health resources link on this blog to find some of their work if you have not already.) Essentially, it is a low fat whole foods plant based diet. I was already eating a whole food plant based diet with a lot of raw food, but still eating far too many nuts and oils with the wrong proportions of omega fatty acids. I am giving their recommended 80-10-10 (carbs-protein-fat) approach a try, which hypothetically should be achieved simply by eating a varied diet of whole plant foods. If I use oil, I am trying to use flax oil exclusively for my cold dishes, as it is the only plant based oil that is higher in omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acid, and using coconut oil occasionally, but sparingly for my occasional cooked dishes (and in large amounts on my skin as a moisturizer!).

The Recipe Origins

As my grandfather recently passed away from heart disease, I’ve been encouraging my family to adopt some more heart-healthy dietary habits by preparing meals for them this week while I am visiting. I was originally going to take this recipe to a vegan potluck dinner with some friends, as I thought it would be a nice light meal that would appeal to most people. When I ended up back home over the news about my grandfather, I made it for my relatives instead. 

A Note About Grains

I chose to include some grains in this recipe to make it more appealing to the audience I was preparing it for. One important thing to note is that when following the heart-healthy protocol, any grains which are consumed should be whole grains. This means that the germ, endosperm, and bran are not removed in processing. Otherwise, the grains lack fiber and nutrients. I found an organic rice pasta at my local grocery store (I LOVE PUBLIX!) that uses whole grain rice flour, which worked out really nice for the recipe. If your local hippy market doesn’t carry any such thing, you can order it from Amazon: Jovial Organic Brown Rice Fusilli.

HOWEVER, I generally prefer to limit my consumption of grains, due to their phytic acid content (which can be reduced by sprouting and fermenting, and offset by a healthy population of lactobacilli in the gut), but I digress. We can discuss that in another post at another time. Until then, EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! 😉

How to Make it Raw

The rice pasta is the only cooked ingredient in the dish, so if you’d like it to be a completely raw vegan meal, you can just make noodles out of the zucchini instead of slicing it as I did for this version of the recipe, and omit the rice pasta all together. This was my original plan for the recipe. However, if sharing with hungry omnivores, the whole grain rice pasta makes the recipe a bit more familiar.

Pasta Primavera Salad
Serves 4
This light heart-healthy pasta primavera salad contains an array of colored raw vegetables, marinaded in a flax oil pesto dressing, and a whole grain organic rice pasta. The pasta is a great option for non-raw family members, but can be omitted if you would like the dish to be completely raw vegan. In that case, just spiral cut your zucchini into noodles instead. 🙂
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Pasta Ingredients
  1. 3 spiral cut zucchinis OR 1/2 lb whole grain rice pasta
Salad Ingredients
  1. If using pasta, then chop 2 zucchinis for the salad (don't chop any extra if they are your noodles)
  2. 1/2 heart celery, thinly sliced (appx. 1.25 cups)
  3. 1 cup grated carrot (appx. 3 medium carrots or 4 small organic carrots)
  4. 2 cups chopped grape tomatoes (1 pint package)
  5. 1 cup chopped yellow sweet pepper (appx 3 sweet peppers or 1 yellow bell pepper)
  6. 1/2 cup chopped artichoke heart (appx 5 hearts - marinaded in brine, not oil)
  7. 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (up to 1/2 cup if you love parsley)
  8. 1 cup chopped kalamata olives (reduce to 1/2 cup to reduce the fat - stored in brine, not oil)
  9. 1/2 cup chopped scallions (5-6 stalks)
Dressing Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup flax seed oil
  2. 1/2 cup filtered water
  3. 1 large handful fresh basil
  4. 2 TB apple cider vinegar
  5. 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
  6. 1 tsp oregano
  7. 1 tsp thyme
  8. 1 tsp onion powder
  9. 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  10. 1/4 tsp sea salt
Pasta Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions OR spiral cut zucchini and massage in 1/2 tsp of sea salt and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until soft and pliable, then rinse with cool water.
Salad Directions
  1. Chop all vegetables as indicated and add them to a very large bowl.
  2. If you are using pasta noodles, then chop some zucchini for the salad. If you are using zucchini noodles, then omit zucchini from the salad.
Dressing Directions
  1. Add all dressing ingredients to a high speed blender (Vitamix is my preference) and blend thoroughly until everything is smooth and well incorporated.
Assembly Directions
  1. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and mix until it is evenly distributed. Let the dressing sit on the vegetables for about 10 minutes to allow them to soften and soak in the flavor.
  2. Mix the pasta (either zucchini or rice noodles) into the large bowl with the salad and dressing.
Notes
  1. This pasta salad recipe will feed 4 people as a meal or 6-8 as a side dish. We had 6 at dinner and finished the bowl, but one of us had 3 portions and made a meal of it. 😉
  2. Feel free to double the recipe for an extra large or extra hungry crowd. I made a double batch so that there would be leftovers for lunch the second day.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Stir Fry Lettuce Wraps (Vegan, Cooked)

Vegan Stir Fry Lettuce Wraps

I am on the road this week visiting family members without access to my light box and DSLR camera, so please pardon the smartphone photos of my recipes this week. My grandfather passed away and I have been busy trying to ensure that my family is eating healthy meals that follow the heart healthy protocol of a low fat whole foods plant based diet. 

This stir fry lettuce wraps recipe was quick and easy to prepare and worked out to only 1 TB of coconut oil per serving. I’ve been trying to ween myself and everyone else off of oils in general, the exception being flax oil, as it is the only plant based oil that is higher in omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids. 

I still use coconut oil in moderation as a food. While the omega-6 fatty acids in coconut oil are much lower than in other oils, it is good to keep in mind that coconut oil contains ZERO omega-3 fatty acids, so that technically makes it an inflammatory food, rather than an anti-inflammatory one. I use plenty of it on my skin, though! One good thing about coconut oil is that it doesn’t break down into carcinogenic compounds when cooked because it is an oil with a high smoke point. 

This quick and easy stir fry recipe worked out to only 1TB of coconut oil per serving and it fed 4 adults. Stir fry recipes are an easy way to use up vegetables and they are quick to prepare. Traditionally, the heat exposure is only a few minutes to leave some texture intact for the vegetables. 

This recipe had great reviews from my parents and my husband. It is great for omnivores, as it offers a rich blend of flavors that will not leave them missing the meat.

Stir Fry Lettuce Wraps - Vegan
Serves 4
A quick and healthy vegan stir fry recipe with a rich blend of flavors including coconut, ginger, cinnamon, and anise.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Wrap Ingredients
  1. 1 head iceberg lettuce
Noodle Ingredients
  1. 8 oz rice noodles
Stir Fry Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup coconut oil
  2. 3-4 cloves minced garlic (I love garlic)
  3. 4 carrots, shredded (or a 10 oz bag as a short cut)
  4. 1 celery heart, chopped
  5. 4 sweet peppers, chopped (or 1 bell pepper)
  6. 1/4 cup liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or tamari
  7. Juice of 1 lemon
  8. 1 large bunch scallions, chopped (appx 8 stalks)
  9. 10 oz white button mushrooms, chopped
  10. 1 TB Chinese 5 spice blend (cinnamon, ginger, anise, star anise, cloves)
  11. 1/2 tsp black pepper
Stir Fry Directions
  1. Add the coconut oil to a large pan or wok at high heat. Add the garlic and crunchy ingredients (carrots, celery, peppers).
  2. Stir for 4-5 minutes until fragrant and slightly soft.
  3. Add the aminos, lemon juice, soft ingredients (scallions and mushrooms), and spices.
  4. Stir for another 4-5 minutes.
Noodle Directions
  1. Prepare the rice noodles according to instructions on the package. Most of them cook in about 5 minutes.
Wrap Directions
  1. Separate the leaves from the head of lettuce.
Assembly Directions
  1. Add noodles and stir fry to lettuce leaves, wrap into a burrito, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Two thumbs up from meat eating parents and husband!
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/