Vegan Tofu “Feta” + Homemade Lemon Vodka

Feta “cheese” made out of tofu? Blasphemy!

I, too, was skeptical that bland, mushy tofu could be turned into the deliciousness that is feta cheese. Luckily, I was also curious as to what it would taste like. I can’t take credit for the vegan tofu feta — it was of course something I stumbled across on Pinterest. However, I did upgrade the original recipe a bit, which I think made all the difference here. Here’s the original recipe link for reference.

tofu_feta_salad

But really, does anyone actually like tofu? I mean I’ve added the soft version to smoothies — and then gotten grossed out that I was drinking tofu (regardless of whether or not I could taste it) and promptly thrown my smoothie out.

And while I love tofu from Thai restaurants, that’s probably because it’s fried and smothered in curry sauce. Let’s face it, anything that is fried and smothered in sauce — especially curry sauce — is going to be delicious.

Okay, so back to tofu “cheese.” The trick here is to let this baby marinate for at least a day (the longer, the better). Once you’ve squeezed out the lemons and have all of those leftover lemon peels, you should definitely do as I did and make lemon-infused vodka.

Just throw lemon peels into a mason jar (or other lidded jar), add vodka — as much as you’d like, cover and let sit a few days. Let me tell you, that was the most refreshing and tasty vodka soda I’ve ever had.

homemade_lemon_vodka

Annndddd back to tofu…

Recipe: Vegan Tofu Feta

This “feta” is perfect for tossing into a Greek salad, crumbling onto a sandwich, or eating straight. Even better is that it contains no cholesterol and is high in fiber and protein, so you can eat it on everything and feel good about it. You can find white miso paste at Whole Foods or Asian markets.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tofu (one package)
  • Juice of 3 medium-size lemons
  • 2 tablespoons olive juice (I used the juice from my jar of Kalamata olives)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed (left whole)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

tofu

Directions:

  1. Drain water out of tofu by sandwiching block of tofu between paper towels and placing a pot or heavy object on top (see above). *Be very careful when setting up the pot on top of the tofu. I apparently didn’t balance mine very well and the pot came crashing down — very scary.
  2. Cut tofu into sticks (pictured) or cubes. Add to a large zip-top bag.tofu_feta
  3. Squeeze lemons into bag and add remaining ingredients. Zip up the top of the bag and mix everything around, being sure to “mash up” the miso paste so that it is evenly distributed throughout the marinade.
  4. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least one day, and up to four days. When you’re ready to eat, simply remove desired about of tofu “feta” from bag and crumble over your dish.

The feta is delicious over a Greek salad, or skewer it with tomatoes, basil and olives for a tasty and protein-packed Mediterranean treat!

vegan_greek_salad_with_feta

Quinoa Power Breakfast: Gluten, Dairy and Egg-Free

Quinoa is often praised by dietitians and other health professionals as a super-food. While I find the term “super-food” a little gimmicky, it is mostly true in the case of quinoa. A grain, quinoa (pronounced KENN-wah) is a good source of both fiber (with more than 5 grams/cup) AND protein (more than 8 grams/cup). While we know that whole grains, like quinoa, generally contain fiber, we don’t always get that one-two punch of fiber and protein.

The best part? Quinoa’s amino acid profile is considered complete, meaning it doesn’t lack an amino acid like many other grain products do. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins for our body. Our body can make ten of the 20 amino acids we need to make proteins in our bodies, but the other ten — considered essential amino acids — must be supplied by the foods we eat. Most plant sources of protein don’t provide all of the essential amino acids, so it’s even more impressive that quinoa does.

I find that most people view quinoa as a savory food, often mixed with veggies and beans (and meat/poultry too) to create a quinoa salad. Think about it, though, quinoa is really just a bland-tasting grain when you get down to it. Thus, you can use it in sweeter preparations as well. Alas, Breakfast Quinoa! It’s a terrific option for when you have leftover quinoa from the night before (assuming you didn’t use broth or savory herbs to make it). Just mix with whatever fruit and nuts you have on hand, plus some cinnamon or other sweeter spices. It’s more filling than oatmeal, because it contains more protein and fiber (the satiety dynamic duo, if you will). Check out my delicious Banana Coconut Quinoa below!

Banana Coconut Power Breakfast Quinoa:

Breakfast_Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • One cup quinoa, cooked (1/2 cup dry)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp organic virgin coconut oil
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp)

Directions:

Cook quinoa according to package directions or heat up leftover quinoa. Stir in coconut oil when hot, then top with sliced banana, sunflower seeds and cinnamon.

 

 

Vegan Pesto Made With Farmed Here’s Sweet Basil

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Farmed Here‘s vertical farm – a magical place sprouting with delicious basil and arugula. Their indoor aquaponic and aeroponic growing systems are extremely innovative and I feel truly are the future of farming.

The trip left me craving more basil, especially their delicious Sweet Basil variety. And what better way to honor basil than to make it into pesto. When life gives you basil, make pesto?? For the best pesto recipe, I went to my biggest (and best) cooking influence: my Mom. I tweaked her tried and true recipe just a bit to make it vegan, substituting nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese and adding in the juice of a lemon to freshen it up and counteract the yeasty taste.

Next on my list is to make this recipe using Farmed Here’s Lemon Basil, which has the most amazing and bright lemon flavor.

Vegan Sweet Basil Pesto

Vegan_Pesto

Farmed Here’s box actually keeps the basil extra-fresh. I used it as a house for my jar of pesto.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoon pepitas, toasted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth and consistent.

 

Tasted scrumptious on roasted cauliflower…

Roasted_Cauliflower_with_Pesto

 

 

Tandoori Tempeh Kabobs with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Tempeh is hands-down my favorite soy product. Pronounced temp-ay, tempeh is a fermented soybean product that also contains whole grains (I love the Organic 3 Grain Tempeh from Trader Joe’s, which includes millet, barley and brown rice), giving it a nice texture and crunchiness. High in protein and fiber and with mostly unsaturated fat, tempeh is a wonderful vegan/vegetarian protein.

What I like most about tempeh, however, is its versatility. I can cut it into strips, cube it, halve it and even mash it to incorporate it into various recipes. Tempeh originated in Indonesia and naturally pairs well with Asian flavors, however, I love using it for other types of cuisine: rustic, with carrots and onions and earthy herbs like rosemary, “down-home,” with BBQ sauce, corn and greens and even sweetened up with roasted acorn squash, nuts and dried fruit. Here’s my latest concoction: tempeh skewers (who doesn’t love food on a stick??) with peanut dipping sauce. You can also see some of my other tempeh creations below (blog posts to follow).

Tandoori Tempeh Kabobs with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

Tandoori_Tempeh_Kabobs

Ingredients:

Tempeh Kabobs:

  • 1/2 block of tempeh (I used the aforementioned TJ Organic 3 Grain Tempeh), cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots, preferable organic
  • 1 Tbsp tandoori spice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sriracha sauce, to taste
  • 2 skewers (can you tell I used chopsticks??)

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp low sodium teriyaki sauce (I like the Island Teriyaki version from TJ, which contains yummy sesame seeds)
  • Sriracha, to taste

Directions:

In medium saute pan, heat olive oil for 1 minute. Add carrots and saute 5 minutes. While carrots are cooking, toss tempeh with tandoori spice (or if you’re lazy, sprinkle tandoori over tempeh) and skewer. When carrots are done, transfer from pan to plate and add tandoori tempeh skewers to pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until you get a nice sear on all sides of tempeh. Serve skewers over cooked carrots and garnish with Sriracha sauce.

For dipping sauce, heat peanut butter for 20-30 seconds in microwave, or until the peanut butter is nice and melty. Add teriyaki sauce and Sriracha to taste.

 

More tempeh favorites:

Tempeh and Eggplant “Ratatouille:”

Tempeh_Eggplant_Ratatouille

 

Tempeh-Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Tempeh_Stuffed_Acorn_Squash

 

Butternut Squash Tastes Like Butta

Butternut squash, with its creamy texture, is the perfect comfort food. Like butta, some might say. Plus, because it has both sweet and savory notes and is extremely versatile; not to mention it is loaded with nutrients. Nutrition breakdown: half a cup of butternut squash is only 50 calories and provides a whopping 260% your daily need for vitamin A, plus 40% your daily need for vitamin C (vitamins A and C boost immunity, can decrease inflammation and contribute to healthier skin, eyes and an overall healthier body). You’ll even get a little iron and calcium in that 1/2 cup serving, though you’ll probably want to eat more than half a cup!

My one issue with butternut squash, however, is that can take 45-60 minutes to cook. Thus, I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter for several weeks before I got around to making it. Did I mention I made it in 30 minutes? The key is to cut it up small. With a VERY sharp knife. Butternut squash doesn’t play around…you have to put major – at least for me – muscle into cutting that baby up. That expression, “no pain, no gain,” can absolutely be used here. Completely worth the minor hassle to get a deliciously cooked butternut squash, though. Check out how I used it several ways!

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

Arugula, White Bean and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash*
  • 1/2 cup white beans
  • 2 Tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp cracked pepper

Directions: Toss all ingredients together. Yep- it’s that simple!

*To roast butternut squash, peel it and cut it into 1.5″ cubes. Drizzle with olive oil or use cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Note: the smaller the pieces you cut, the faster it will cook.

Butternut Squash-Stuffed Portabellas

Butternut Squash and Tempeh-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash, mashed
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 oz tempeh (uncooked), finely chopped
  • 4 portabella mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt (smoked salt, if you have it, works really well)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1 oz cheese (parmesan would be ideal, but I didn’t have any, so I used light cheddar instead)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove stems from washed/dried portabellas. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Mix all remaining ingredients (excluding cheese) together and stuff into the prepared mushrooms. Top with shredded or thinly sliced cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked and cheese is browned and bubbly (and thus, delicious).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrots with Red Wine Reduction + New Website

First off, thank you for stopping by and reading my blog! Shop, Eat, Live Well is getting a new name and moving to a new address, danaartinyan.com, so please check out both my new website as well as the many nutrition services I offer.

Now, onto the food…

The other day, I got a present from my coworker: a whole bag full of colorful baby carrots just picked from her garden. Clearly, she knows the way to my heart!

I absolutely love the look of a baby carrot and wanted to keep them whole and intact to highlight their beauty. Besides being pretty, carrots are an excellent source – 110% of your daily needs in just one carrot – of vitamin A (immune functioning, eye health, anti-oxidant properties) and a good source – 10% of your daily needs – of vitamin C (another powerful anti-oxidant, plus it promotes better skin and improved cardiovascular functioning). Carrots are also low in calories (only 30 calories for a large carrot) and surprisingly low in sugar, despite their natural sweetness.

I wanted to bring this sweetness and also lend a bit of earthiness to the carrots with a red wine reduction sauce over the carrots. I paired with some garbanzo beans to give some protein and fiber, and had quite a delicious and filling (thanks to all that fiber!) meal.

Red Wine-Glazed Carrots

Red Wine-Glazed Baby Carrots:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby carrots with stems intact (I used multi-colored), rinsed/scrubbed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt

Directions:

Heat olive oil and minced garlic for about 1 minute. Add carrots and saute for 10 minutes (on medium-high heat). Add wine and remaining ingredients and cook until the red wine has reduced to about 2 Tbsp (will also be thicker).

Serve over grains such as quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat or along with beans (garbanzo, pinto, kidney). Would also make a great side dish to white fish, chicken or pork tenderloin.

See you at danaartinyan.com!

When Life Gives You Celery Root

I like to think of myself as a fruit and veggie expert. I have used lots of interesting, unique produce (see my farmer’s market wtf series) and I am generally good at identifying out-there foods. It all went down the drain, though, yesterday at Whole Foods.

I wanted parsnips because my Grandma used to always make chicken soup with them, and I wanted to see what else they’d be good in.

But alas, I didn’t get parsnips. I got celery root, or celeriac. I won’t lie – I am not that big a fan of celery. I can bear it at times but celery root, which basically tastes just like celery, was not my first choice for vegetables. I’m not even sure how I mixed them up…I know what parsnips look like, dammit, and these were clearly not parsnips (see comparison below).

Celery Root

Celery Root

Parsnips

Parsnips

Well kids, when life hands you celery root, you make…

What do you make? I had to explore. First I found a recipe for celery root remoulade from the blog Wrightfood. This recipe was a creamy, mayo-based salad, however, I wanted something a little lighter. I did like the idea of some sort of celery root slaw, though.

There is one area where I do enjoy the taste of celery: in a stir-fry, when there’s a little teriyaki sauce to offset some of the celery flavor. So I decided to make an Asian celery root slaw. Had some English breakfast radishes to use up, so those had to be a part of the recipe too.

Asian Celery Root Slaw

Asian Celery Root Slaw

Ingredients:

  • Shredded celery root (about 1.5 cups shredded)
  • 1 cup English breakfast radishes, sliced into thin coins
  • 1/4 cup no-salt, no-sugar rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Island Teriyaki (has pineapple juice in it) or standard teriyaki sauce.
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp minced cilantro
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour before eating.

The slaw has a nice crunch and surprisingly didn’t have an overwhelming “celery taste” – a plus in my book! With the sweetness of the Island Teriyaki sauce plus honey, it was the perfect balance of sweet, fresh (celery root), tangy (vinegar) and spicy (radishes/Sriracha). Quite a serendipitous event, mixing up parsnips and celery root, if you ask me.

Plus, one can’t complain about the nutritional perks of celery root (1 cup): only 70 calories, excellent source of vitamins C & K, good source of potassium, fiber, phosphorous and several other nutrients and no cholesterol or fat! AKA celery root is good for eye and bone health, immunity, can help improve blood pressure and will make you feel full with all that fiber.

Hmm what else can I make out of celery root? I’m thinking celery root chips…stay tuned.