Now before you poo poo this dish because it has tofu, take a moment, relax, do your deep breathing exercise and settle in for something you'll thank me for! Trust me, this dish is super delicious.
I know when you think of tofu you think of mush or something a lot of you would never eat in a million years. But since I've been eating (mostly) vegetarian the past couple of years I've started incorporating tofu into my "meatless" dishes here and there and I have really come to enjoy it. It's very versatile and can really take on different textures and flavors.
While in Chicago visiting friends last month we took a trip (okay a few trips) to Whole Foods where we spent a good hour or so gathering goodies to prepare and decided to have lunch while there. We had heard they had a few vegan options and wanted to give them a go. We came upon their version of General Tso Tofu and sat and munched on it and it was super yummy. Of course I thought, "I have to find a way to make this when I return to my kitchen" and I quickly went to work. It took a couple of recipes and adjustments to get the tofu crispy like I like but in the end it came out way better than I had anticipated.
The trick to getting a crispy tofu is marinating it first. Here is the entire process:
Crispy Tofu - without baking or deep frying!
General Tso Tofu: The Recipe
Now that the weather has started to turn cooler, we're all at the pumpkin patch and it's almost Halloween! We've been dying to start cooking with butternut squash, pumpkin and our fall veggies so I of course, could not wait to make chili and make it vegetarian, cause sometimes (okay most of the times) I don't eat meat. I can live on veggies, legumes and the like but I occasionally have meat. And I cannot nor will I be the meat police to others. To each his own.
Anywho, I decided to make this chili with what I had in the fridge, cause most of the time I'm cooking for others and forget about eating. That's right. I forget to eat. I'm always at the grocery store, the farmers markets, seafood markets for others and hardly have time (or make time) to prepare my own meals these days.
I just happen to have a butternut squash, 1 sweet potato, a few organic carrots, a can of corn, black beans, onion and garlic and spices. Viola! The makings of a perfect vegetarian chili, if I do say so myself. May I say, this chili messed with our (my families mostly) heads because the flavors and veggies were way out there when we think of traditional chili. But sometimes I like to go out in left field and do something different. And it really did work. It was a little spicy from the turmeric and chili seasonings, yet the squash, carrots and sweet potato calmed it down, along with the sour cream. I seared the corn at the last minute and threw that on for good measure. It seemed to give it another texture and flavor dimension as well.
So, if you're feeling a little risky and want to try something super flavorful for Fall this is one great recipe you'll want to try! I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. And, it's so easy to make you can whip it up in no time. Don't forget to comment below and let me know if you're going to make it, or come back and let me know how you liked it or hated it, for that matter :)
AUTUMN CHILI RECIPE
1 small Butternut Squash (peeled and cubed)
1 Sweet Potato (peeled and cubed)
1 - 2 med Carrots (sliced)
(1) 14 oz can of Tomatoes with juice
(1) 14 oz. can of Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
(1) 14 oz. can of Corn (drained)
4 cups of veggie broth
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 small - med onion (chopped)
1 clove of garlic (minced) more if you like garlic
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of coriander
1 tsp of turmeric
1 Tbsp of chili powder
Top: with sour cream, cheese, and whatever - serve with tortilla chips
Heat your oil in a medium to large dutch oven or soup pot, add your onion saute until translucent, then add garlic for about 5 minutes. Add your seasonings, cook this for about 2 - 3 minutes then add your veggies. Saute this for a few minutes then add your tomatoes, then your beans, then add your veggie stock and bring to a boil. Then turn down to a simmer and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, you don't want to overcook your veggies, you will want them to have a little crunch but to be cooked. While this is cooking, sear your corn in one tablespoon of butter (or coconut oil) on med to high heat to char it. Add your chili to bowl, your cheese, sour cream, and serve with tortilla chips or cracker.
If you are lazy, you can opt to roast all the veggies with a little oil and salt in the oven at 425 degrees beforehand. Once the veggies are roasted, you can start the chili as above and then add the veggies at the last minute, then cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. You will get a nice roasted flavor but be careful not to overcook as your veggies may come out mushy when you put them with the stock and cook. But, it still works either way. I chose the lazy way (ha ha).
One of my goals to getting healthy was to cut out caffeine! HOLD UP, NOW! I know some of you are saying, "Wait a minute, didn't they just tell us that coffee is now good for us?"
In small, occasional cups there is possibly a case to be made for some benefits to coffee. If it’s fresh, high-quality and ideally organic (regular coffee is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world) then studies have shown that it can improve alertness and long term it may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, gallstones, and even kidney stones for heavy drinkers. On the other hand, it has also been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
I'm not going to debate these issues with you. I know for me personally, caffeine is not my friend. It makes me anxious and jittery if I have too much of it and I don't sleep at night. For me, it's just not worth it. And, my doc has told me to cut back.
Though I haven't cut it out completely, I have been able to cut back to one cup of really good organic coffee in the morning. For me, an avid coffee drinker, I think this is quite the achievement. Seeing how at one point I was at 3 - 4 cups (That's an average of 500 mg of caffeine a day - give or take) a day.
What I have tried lately is switching to tea in the afternoons. Though still caffeine, tea has only about 25 - 30 mg (half that of coffee) of caffeine. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
In the beginning, I started ordering these out and about at either Starbucks or a local coffee shop in town. I noticed they were TOO sweet for me. I also noticed they were using a premixed coffee liquid. I get it, it makes life easier. You can even save time and buy these in Target and other stores (TJ MAXX has an organic blend) and cut down the time it takes to make one old school. But I will tell you, there's nothing like the taste you get when you make it from scratch!
I hope you'll try it. I think once you do, you'll never want to have another relaxing afternoon without it!
This post was written by Susan Avello, Personal Chef at Lean Bean Chef Personal Chef Services in Dothan Alabama - offering Healthy Meal Prep, Meal Planning, Private Cooking Classes, Private Dinner Parties and Education on Healthy Eating.
One of the first things that threw me for a loop when being diagnosed GLUTEN INTOLERANT was the fact that my best friend BREAD was out, as I knew it! When I say I love bread, that's an understatement. I love making my own bread and smelling that beautiful aroma as it bakes in my kitchen. Knowing that when it comes out of the oven I am going to slather it with butter and jam it in my mouth!
When I realized I could no longer eat regular bread or bake my own bread, the thought of never having another piece to dip into homemade sauce with pasta that you can't eat either? Well, you think "I might as well die!" But you don't and you learn to adjust. You find ways to adapt.
Thanks to Al Gore and the internet there are so many (a holy crap load, really) people out there willing to share their journey and their amazing recipes especially as it relates to dietary restrictions, and that includes gluten-free. And now, we can find a zillion ways to make gluten-free bread. Heck, we can even make CLOUD bread, straight from heaven.
After having made this beautiful roasted beet hummus earlier this week I was really having a craving for some Naan - which is basically Middle Eastern Flatbread, kind of like Pita Bread - that if lucky enough, can have beautiful flavors of garlic and onion incorporated into it. I wanted to make a dish with the hummus and flatbread and somehow make something I haven't had in while. Not to mention I cannot find a gluten-free version anywhere. And for those of you who asked me to help you find it in your supermarkets, I was unable to. Google did not come through for me. And what's better than making it yourself anywho?
I came across this recipe online and gave it a go, but I really had to make some adjustments - so I didn't want to link to it because it's totally changed now. Often, I find myself having to do this when using other recipes and that's okay. You take something and make it your own. You may have to do this here, and hey - whatever works!
Typically, naan is cooked in a tandoor or clay pot and cooked in the oven. But this recipe is cooked on the stove.
DISCLAIMER: I would have had more on the plate to showcase but I kept eating it while cooking. It was that good! I wouldn't say it's an EASY recipe, but it's not too difficult either.
The trick would be to make sure to get the right consistency in the batter, keep flipping it in the pan (for Pete's sake, don't leave it and go watch TV), and perhaps use a cast iron skillet. It seemed to work great!
I guess most of all I would say it just takes a little patience. You will get to the end of the batter, I promise and you will be so glad you did.
This Recipe is Gluten-free, Dairy Free and Soy Free
GLUTEN-FREE NAAN (FLATBREAD)
Combine warm water, warm milk, yeast and sugar in a small bowl; set aside. While yeast is sitting and doing its thing, in a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, seasonings (if using); whisk to blend.
Add liquid yeast mixture and egg to dry ingredients; stir by hand until mixture forms a rather thin batter. Try not to over-stir. This is not going to be a thick dough that you can make with your hands. It is more like a pancake batter.
Cover bowl of batter with a damp, clean kitchen towel and let sit for 25 minutes. In the meantime, grab your cast iron skillet that you will heat over medium-high heat on the stove top and have your coconut oil on standby, a spatula for turning, and if you have an ice cream scoop, use this to spoon the batter into the middle of the pan when your batter is ready.
When 25 minutes is up, heat the skillet to med (or according to your stove top, mine runs hot) be careful not to burn them, add a small portion of coconut oil (about 1/2 teaspoon for each naan as you cook it) and when it is sizzling hot, add about 3 T. (one ice cream scoop) of the batter in the center of the skillet. Because the batter is on the thin side but still a little thick, the ice cream scoop makes this easy and less messy. You may have to use the back of the scoop to flatten out the batter just a bit. Cook 2 or 3 minutes per side until the naan is cooked through and pliable. You will have to flip a couple of times and press down to flatten. Drain on a paper towel. Eat as you go (just kidding).
Above: You have your dry ingredients, your yeast mixture, and your batter (which looks a little like a pancake batter).
In the end, it really came out nicely and I definitely will be making this again. I could not wait to put that beautiful purple beet hummus on this naan and make a veggie sammich!
For the roasted beet hummus recipe go HERE!
by Chef Susan Avello
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