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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sheet Pan Tamari Glazed Tempeh & Broccoli
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:
- 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
- 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)
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.
Curried Potatoes, Lentils & Peas
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
- 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
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.
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.
Grain Free Vegan Coconut Pistachio Lemon Cake
Happy Monday, friends, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed my thoughts on the mini-trip home.
On Friday, I’ll be celebrating Passover with some chosen family: my closest friend from college, Jordan, his parents and his siblings. I felt close to Jordy’s family even back as an undergraduate, in spite of the fact that I only met them a few times. They were warm and kind and easygoing with invitations and overnight stays. I was young enough and only child enough that the fact of Jordy’s having two siblings seemed kind of wonderful to me—three kids under one roof! Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to become close to his sister and brother, too.
Jordan’s parents feel strongly about welcoming, hosting, and building family. Over the years they’ve had me in their home for countless holidays and gatherings, and now they include my mom, too. As someone who has a small nuclear family, the generosity of spirit never goes unnoticed, and it means more than I can say.
An added bonus of holidays with Jordy’s folks is the fact that I’m usually not the only plant-based eater present (his sister-in-law’s family is plant-based), and Jordy’s mom is especially curious and open-minded about preparing dishes that can suit a wide variety of eating styles. She always welcomes me to contribute a vegan recipe to holidays. At Rosh Hashana, this means a crown-shaped loaf of Isa Chandra’s challah. And at Passover, it means the challenge of something plant-based and also grain-free.
Grain free baking is hardly my specialty; I’m a grain-loving gal, and in spite of being pretty dextrous with gluten-free baking, nut and other grain-free flours aren’t my favorite. Still, my love of dessert is much more powerful than my lackluster feelings about baking without grains. I’ve been experimenting in preparation of the holiday this year, and this grain-free vegan pistachio coconut lemon cake is the result.
I owe this recipe—pretty much all of it—to the wonderful Lindsay of Cotter Crunch. She’s one of my go-to resources for recipes that work for a wide variety of specialized eating styles: hers are always gluten-free, but they’re often grain-free and/or plant-based, too.
Not too long ago, Lindsay posted a grain free vegan white cake recipe. As someone who has had very little resounding success with grain and egg-free baking, I was super impressed with how fluffy and delicious it looked.
A couple weeks ago, my preceptor and I were chatting about Passover recipes, and she mentioned this pistachio cake by Julie Powell. It looked beautiful, but I knew I’d need to tweak it considerably to make it vegan. I thought back to Lindsay’s cake, and I wondered if I couldn’t create some sort of amalgam of the two.
In spite of my limited track record with recipes like this, I’m really happy with how the cake turned out—happy enough that I plan to bring it to the seder this week. Yes, it’s got a dense texture, just as I suspected it would. But it’s still light and tender enough to work—not gluey, as some of my vegan grain-free experiments have been. The lemon glaze gives it just the right added layer of sweet tartness, and the flavor of both nuts and coconuts really does shine through. Here’s the recipe.
Grain Free Vegan Coconut Pistachio Lemon Cake
- 3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
- 3/4 cup fine almond flour
- 2/3 cup very finely ground pistachio nuts (or pistachio flour)
- 1/3 cup arrowroot or potato starch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 2/3 cup coconut or cane sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (such as grapeseed, olive, or coconut)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- chopped pistachio nuts, if desired
Preheat your oven to 350F and line an 8″ square or springform round pan with parchment.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, pistachio nuts, arrowroot, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar. Separately, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, syrup, water, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to dry, and whisk together till the batter is smooth. Immediately pour the batter into the baking dish and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
When the cake is ready, allow it to cool for a few hours on a wire rack. When it’s room temperature, whisk together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar. Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it gently with a spatula, if needed. Top with chopped whole pistachio nuts. Transfer the cake to the fridge and allow it to set for another 2-3 hours (or overnight). Cut and serve!
My recipes have been pretty loosey goosey this year, with lots of invitations to modify as you like. I tend to be more precise with baking, but for this recipe—given the considerations of no gluten, egg, or grain—I’d definitely encourage you to follow the recipe precisely if you make it. The one exception is that you can definitely substitute all almond flour for almond+pistachio if that’s what you’d like to do, turning it into a coconut almond lemon cake.
And of course, this is a Passover cake for me, but it would be a lovely Easter offering, too, or a good contribution to any spring gathering: shower, brunch, whatever.
In the spirit of chosen families and holidays, I wish you a wonderful week ahead. And if you make this one, happy baking!
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