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Slow Cooker Red Beans, Rice & Tofu

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My slow cooker has been a very good friend to me throughout the last twelve weeks of clinical work. I rarely use it overnight on weeknights the way I used to, mostly because I have to rush in the morning (and don’t want to clean it). But it’s a wonderful helper on weekends, when I’m batch cooking: one less thing that needs careful monitoring, and great for cooking/freezing in bulk.

Since rice and beans are one of my staples, I recently got to thinking whether or not I could prep them in my slow cooker for a change. The answer is yes, and this recipe for slow cooker red beans, rice & tofu is my first try.

I’ve mentioned in past posts that I love adding tofu to rice & beans: it gives the dish extra plant protein, heft, and texture. In this recipe, extra firm tofu plays the role that sausage might play in an authentic red rice & beans recipe, except that, with my schedule these days, I didn’t do anything fancy to season the tofu beforehand. I just threw it into the slow cooker with all of the other ingredients and allowed it to soak up flavor—which is what tofu is great at doing!

My extra firm tofu of choice is from Nasoya, makers of awesome, organic soy foods that are accessible all over the country. I love the texture of this tofu, which is firm enough (in my opinion) to resist the need for pressing. If you do want to press it, it gets even denser. I’ve used it both ways, but in this recipe, I just patted it and squeezed it gently between paper towels before adding, without any time in my press.

When I add the Nasoya extra firm tofu to recipes, I usually cube it into pieces that are about 3/4-1″ big. When I cut the block up evenly, it’s 32 pieces (invariably they end up a little uneven, but it’s all good.

When I want the best flavor from a slow cooker recipe, I sauté the onions and other veggies (peppers, celery, etc) in some olive oil before turning the slow cooker on (my current slow cooker allows me to sear/sauté in the device, but in the past I’d just do it in a pan). For this recipe, you can skip that step or roll with it: it adds a bit more depth of flavor, but the dish will be perfectly spicy and flavorful no matter what, thanks to the spice mix.

Note that, for this recipe, rice gets added after the other ingredients have cooked for a while, so if you’re cooking overnight, you’ll want to plan to add in the morning. I cooked for 4 hours and added the rice 1 hour before cook time was done.

Slow Cooker Red Beans, Rice & Tofu

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Recipe type: main dish

Cuisine: slow cooker, vegan, gluten free, tree nut free, no oil option

Author:

Prep time:

Cook time:

Total time:

Serves: 8-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb kidney beans, soaked overnight or for 8 hours and drained/rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, diced
  • 3 large stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 14 ounces Nasoya extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 cups water + 1 vegan, chicken style bouillon cube or 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoons fine salt (more as needed; the bouillon or broth will plenty of salt as well, but you can increase the starting amount to 1½-2 teaspoons if you use low-sodium broth)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (this is very mild, which is my style, but feel free to ramp it up if you like a lot of heat!)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1¼ cups long-grain white or brown rice*
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • Hot sauce and chopped green onions, for topping

Instructions

  1. Optional: heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is gently browning. Add these ingredients to the slow cooker.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients except for rice and vinegar to the slow cooker. If you don’t choose to sauté the vegetables, you can skip the olive oil and dump everything but the rice and vinegar into the slow cooker now!
  3. Cook the ingredients on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Add the rice. Continue cooking for 2 more hours on low or 1 hour on high (1½ hours if you use brown rice instead of white). Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the vinegar and add additional salt as needed. Serve, with plenty of hot sauce and chopped green onions if desired.

3.5.3251

This is, as so many of my recent recipes are these days, a staple that can be dressed up in a ton of ways. With a good squeeze of hot sauce it’s a light lunch. With a big salad or a couple veggie sides, it’s dinner. Stuffed into some corn or whole wheat tacos, it’s a perfect breakfast. I’m so happy to still have a ton of it in my freezer.

And, speaking of how voluminous the recipe is, it’s totally OK to cut the whole thing in half if you like—and it’s an especially good idea to do that if you have a smaller sized slow cooker.

Rice and beans is a perfect combination of foods in just about every way: nutritionally, texturally, economically. Tofu makes it all the better and all the more nutrient-dense, and I can’t wait to make this one again.

Wishing you a nourishing end to the week, and I’ll see you this weekend.

xo

This post is sponsored by Nasoya. All opinions are my own, and I love this go-to brand of tofu and other creative soy products! Thanks for your support.

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broccoli

Sheet Pan Tamari Glazed Tempeh & Broccoli

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The other day, I took a little Instagram poll to figure out what sort of recipes you’d like to see more of, or which things you’d be curious to see me veganize. I did this partly for your sake and mostly for mine: I’ve been low on recipe ideas lately, and readers are always my best source of inspiration.

Here’s a sampling of what was requested:

  • Pizza
  • Lasagna
  • Eggplant parmesan
  • Simple, take-to-work lunches
  • Anything with lentils
  • Pretzel bites
  • Cannoli filling (first I’ll need to figure out how to make cannolis 😉)
  • Anything quick and/or easy
  • Stir fries
  • Vegan sandwiches

I loved getting requests. It was a reminder that I should ask for advice when coming up with my meal plans more often.

For now, I’m checking the “anything quick and/or easy” box with this recipe for tamari glazed tempeh and broccoli. On its own, it’s a quick way to a vegan protein + vegetable combo, which you could eat the way it is or add to a salad/bowl. If you have some cooked or frozen rice at the ready, or some soba or udon noodles to boil up, it’s a perfectly satisfying dinner. And while it’s not exactly a 20-minute recipe, it’s practically hands-off.

The recipe starts with giving tempeh a marinade in tamari, vinegar, and maple syrup (along with some crushed red pepper flakes for heat). You can do this in the fridge overnight, or for a couple hours, depending on what works for your schedule.

You can also choose to steam the tempeh first, or not. I didn’t use to do this, but I’ve been getting into the habit lately. I do it less to decrease bitterness—the usual rationale—than to tenderize the tempeh, which I think it really does. And that’s especially nice when tempeh gets baked, because it can dry out a bit in the oven.

After this is done, you spray a lined baking sheet with oil, place the tempeh cubes and some broccoli florets on it, and pour the marinade over everything. Bake for 35 minutes, and a protein-rich meal awaits!

Sheet Pan Tamari Glazed Tempeh & Broccoli

Servings: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons tamari (regular or reduced sodium, according to your preference)
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (substitute apple cider or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated or minced ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • generous dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cut into cubes (about 1″, or 16 cubes per 8-ounce block)
  • 3 cups bite-sized broccoli florets and/or stems
  • avocado or canola oil spray (optional)
  • brown rice or noodles, for serving (optional)
  • sesame seeds, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • If you’d like to, steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.

  • Whisk together the tamari, vinegar, syrup, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Place the tempeh cubes in a rectangular or square glasslock container and pour the marinade over them. Cover the container and allow the tempeh to marinate for a couple hours, or overnight in the fridge.

  • Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and coat it with vegetable oil spray. Remove the tempeh cubes from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and arrange them on half of the baking sheet. Arrange the broccoli on the other half. Pour the marinade over the tempeh and vegetables. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the tempeh and broccoli are browning, flipping the tempeh cubes once halfway through cooking.

  • Serve the tempeh and broccoli over rice, noodles, a salad, or whatever you like. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

I love that this dish doesn’t require any stovetop babysitting, that it’s flavorful without a complicated ingredient list, and that the leftovers taste great for days (which I’m discovering right now).

For the record, I’ve made it twice now, and the powdered garlic/ginger version is really good. If not having to mince anything is an additional selling point, don’t shy away from that option.

Hope this dish might bring some ease to your batch cooking or weeknight meals, just the way it has mine. It’s a keeper. And feel free to share more recipe requests if you’ve got ’em.

Happy Tuesday!

xo

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Curried Potatoes, Lentils & Peas

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I had a first yesterday afternoon: I drew a complete blank on batch cooking. I needed to make at least two meals for dinners this week, and I couldn’t settle on anything. Looks like my meal prep stamina is starting to flag.

Since it was Cinco de Mayo, I made the enchiladas from Power Plates, which are a favorite at home. But I needed something else. This dish of curried potatoes, lentils and peas was my answer. It’s not markedly different from a lot of other curries and Indian-inspired stews I made, but it’s simpler and probably more versatile. The texture is just soupy enough that you can mop it up with flatbread or pita or serve it over rice, but the potatoes give it a lot of texture and heft if you’d prefer to eat it on its own.

No matter how many times I make a dish like this—something starchy, creamy, and richly spiced—I never seem to tire of the formula. I added cashew cream to the mix, which is my go-to, but you can most definitely use coconut milk instead. I like the use of russet potatoes here, but for a sweeter version, sweet potatoes or even Japanese yams would be pretty great, too.

Curried Potatoes, Lentils & Peas

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, such as safflower or grapeseed
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 medium/large russet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 3/4-2 lbs)
  • 1 cup toor dal (split yellow lentils) or red lentils
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (more as needed)
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen & defrosted
  • 4-5 cups chopped spinach or whole baby spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup cashew cream or full-fat, canned coconut milk
  • juice of 1 lime

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a roomy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear.

  • Add the water, potatoes, lentils, curry, turmeric, ginger, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through. 

  • Add the peas and spinach. Cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the cashew cream or coconut milk and lime. Taste the stew and adjust salt and lime as needed. Serve. 

Notes

You can substitute 1/4 cup broth or water for the oil if you like.

Having spent so many years doing my best to make recipes as creative as possible, I’m now sticking to ingredient combinations that are as tried-and-true as they can be. Half the time I cook from Power Plates and Vegan, which isn’t so bad: it allows me to revisit those recipes and be reminded of why I love them.

Still, I can’t pretend that I’m not eager to once again find myself in a place where I’m testing new recipes and feeling inspired while I do it. I’ve fed myself well this year, in spite of the hectic schedule, but creativity feels stalled right now on a lot of fronts. This last stretch, from now through August, feels long, but I know it’ll fly by, and I’m hoping that a renewed sense of energy in the kitchen will follow. In the meantime, if you have any vegan recipe requests, feel free to share! It’ll be good inspiration for me.

In the spirit of not doing or saying more than I need to, I’m keeping this post short and sweet so that I can settle into my first few days of food service. Have a great week, all.

xo

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Gluten Free

Meal Prep Friendly Tofu Tahini Lunch Salad

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Meal Prep Friendly Tofu Tahini Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

My current GI rotation features fast days and a fully packed schedule. It’s not uncommon for my preceptor and I to have new patients on the hour, every hour, for the entirety of our work day. Lunches usually get eaten quickly, often in the spare minutes between appointments.

Lunch breaks have seldom been leisurely this year, but I’ve clung to the time I have as a grounding ritual that allows me to enjoy my batch cooked meals and have a little time to process my work days. Right now, it’s tough to do without this customary break in the day, though I guess it’s a real-life glimpse at how a lot of RDNs (and other busy professionals) operate.

Sandwiches and wraps have, not surprisingly, been lifesavers during this fast-paced rotation. They’re easy to pack, easy to eat quickly, and they fill me up nicely. This tofu tahini lunch salad has been one of my favorite sandwich fillings lately: protein-rich, flavorful, and easy to meal prep over the weekend.

Meal Prep Friendly Tofu Tahini Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

As with chicken salad, chickpea salad, tuna salad, or whatever protein-rich lunch salad you fancy, this one is incredibly adaptable. My go-to has been celery, grapes, and carrots, but chopped apple, green onion tops, or dill would all work beautifully as well.

Meal Prep Friendly Tofu Tahini Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

I often use vegan mayo in salads like this one, but when I developed a chickpea salad sandwich filler for Power Plates, I tried tahini as a wholesome alternative. It worked so well that it’s become a go-to, and that’s what I use here: tahini, mustard, vinegar, and a pinch each of garlic and onion powder.

Meal Prep Friendly Tofu Tahini Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

The tofu that works best in this recipe is extra firm, and I’ve been turning to my favorite, which is Nasoya’s. It’s so versatile—a true staple in my kitchen—and you could either cube it finely or purchase the pre-cubed version to make the recipe. Once the tofu is cubed, it’ll get even more broken down as you mix and fold the salad together, giving you plenty of texture but a soft consistency. The filling is easy to pile onto toast, into wraps, or into sandwiches, but it’s also a great salad topper and a good dip to serve as an appetizer when you have folks over.

Meal Prep Friendly Tofu Tahini Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

As for the meal prep bit, the salad keeps well for up to four days in the fridge. It’s easy enough to make that I can mix it up on Sunday night—although Sundays are a busy day for me, and often leave me tired—and rest easy that my weekly sandwiches will be very tasty and very nutrient dense.

You can head on over to the Nasoya website to check the salad out. I hope you’ll enjoy it, in all its simplicity and ease! Here’s the recipe.

And hope the week has been good to you. Till soon.

xo

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