During my time this winter cooking at a retreat center in Costa Rica I realized how many people don't know how to create a healthy well balanced MEAL (especially one without meat!).
"Meal" meaning not just one dish, but two to three foods that create a well balanced and full meal. Or in other words...side dishes to accompany a main course.
As a retreat chef and nutritionist that plans meals (and a passionate foodie!) I have learned how to take a main course and combine it with sides to make a healthy vibrant meal.
It is not a lot of extra work and makes a plate more nutritious, colorful, and delicious! So if you want to impress your family (or yourself!) here are a few plant based meal ideas for you to try. The recipes are linked from some of my favorite bloggers that I think you will enjoy.
PRO TIP: do a batch cook night so that you have ingredients on hand throughout the week. For example boil sweet potatoes, roast veggies, cook brown rice and quinoa, make your fav salad dressing, and cut up any veggies on hand to make week night prep easier!
PLANT BASED MEAL IDEAS
Creamy carrot soup with vegan Thai salad in peanut sauce and optional brown rice.
Sweet potato black bean quesadillas with mango salsa and cole slaw.
Lentil soup with brown rice or quinoa and Moroccan carrot raisin salad.
Soba noodle bowl with cucumber side salad.
Fattoush salad with Baba Ganoush and toasted pita chips.
And just for fun, here is an incredibly easy dessert that received rave reviews at the retreat center in Costa Rica...
Banana nice cream with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
Put the nice cream in a pretty glass dish, top with a drizzle of agave syrup, and then wedge in a cinnamon sugar tortilla triangle. It looks so fancy, but is oh so simple!
Do you have any favorite entree and side ideas? Please comment below!
PHOTO by Stacey Hamblett (me!) at Kindred Spirits in Costa Rica.
When it's late at night and I realize I need to prep a healthy lunch for the next day I think of soba noodles!
They are packed with nutrients, taste delish cold, and are ridiculously easy to make.
You can make endless variations of cold soba noodles or simply eat them with just soy sauce, sesame oil, and a dusting of crushed red chili pepper flakes.
When creating, use what you have in your fridge, freezer, or pantry. Examples include:
This is exactly what I did the other night and when I busted out my cold soba noodles for lunch I made everyone around me drool! And I tell you it took less than 10 minutes to chop up the veggies, boil the noodles, assemble, pop in container and into the fridge.
Give this recipe a try. Or create your own in under 10 minutes and tell us what you used!
Quick & Easy Cold Soba Noodles - makes 1 serving
1 bundle of your favorite soba noodle (I love Organic Planet)
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/3 (or more) cup of fried tofu (I have this on hand so I can just eat it as is with soy sauce and tamari or to pop into meals. Always found in fridge at Asian Markets. Here is ex.)
1/2 cup chopped bok choy
2 Tbsp chopped cashews
1 green onion, chopped
handful of fresh cilantro chopped
Optional sliced jalapenos or a sprinkle of crushed red chili pepper flakes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I prefer tamari)
1 tsp agave
1/4 of a lime, juiced (I love using ume plum vinegar, so if you have that try it instead!)
In a small sauce pot bring about 3 cups of water to boil. Add soba noodles and the frozen peas. Cook about 3-5 minutes or until noodles are al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.
Add sesame oil, soy sauce, lime and agave, and stir to cover noodles thoroughly. The noodles will soak up the dressing so don't worry if it looks soupy at all.
Add the rest of the ingredients and season to taste. Place in fridge overnight and enjoy how the flavors have come together the next day!
I hear so many people say "I am not a chef" and I tell them "You can be."
We all cook every day for ourselves, our families, and our friends so every single one of us has the ability to be an amazing chef. All it takes is a little training and a lot of playing....Oh and passion is important too.
I am not one of those chefs who went to culinary school, or had a parent/grandparent who taught me how to cook, or who grew up in a kitchen. I just liked food and I liked to create, so I began playing.
An old college boyfriend who is now a good friend still makes fun of me because of a chocolate peanut butter cake that I baked for him in college which was lopsized. I kept trying to tell him it was because of my tiny oven, but he didn't believe me. I didn't let that get me down. I kept playing.
And because of my passion for food and the nourishing art of it, I kept finding work in the field. I got a job as a bread baker and never once baked a loaf of bread, helped open a vegetarian cafe in a foreign country when my main background was only in baking, became a pastry chef at a fancy pants restaurant when I was only a casual baker, and recently created a successful line of To-Go foods for a company with 9 locations thus somehow making me an Executive Chef.
I am still amazed that I am a professional in the culinary world simply because I love food and I love creating. I don't make perfect cuts in my veggie prepping, my knife skills aren't that of Julia Child, there are some foods I still don't know how to cook, and I tend to make a total mess in the kitchen, but again that doesn't stop me.
I love food and everything about it. It nourishes my body, my mind, and my soul. It connects me to nature, to my community, and to the world. It nourishes, it heals, and it allows me to express love and gratitude. And that is how I am a Chef.
So if you want to bring out your inner chef (because you definitely have one), but you just need some training, then join me in cooking classes in 2018. Together we will learn this playful, fun and nourishing art of cooking. And combined with skills, play, and learning to tap into your intuition, I will guide you into finding your passion in the kitchen and harnessing that amazing Chef within.
Currently I have a few classes on the schedule at the Frinklepod Farm Cooking School in Arundel, Maine. Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Instagram or Facebook to stay tuned for upcoming classes. Classes will also be posted on my website too. If you have any questions or are interested in a private class please contact me!
Now LETS COOK!
The gratification one gets from creating a fresh, warm, comforting loaf of bread from scratch is one of indescribable measure.
Amazingly hard working yeasts, fluffy flour, sweet maple syrup, soothing oats, and a little salt of the earth are the basic ingredients in one of the culinary delights of man. Combine these with the raw element of hand mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough, and one feels like a true creator.
Slicing into the bread yields a gentle puff of steam and a whiff of that insanely delicious fresh bread smell. One taste makes your mind stop for a moment to enjoy this simple pleasure of life. Ahhh, and this is the end result of your love, patience, and hard work.
To try your hand at bread baking simply follow the recipe written on the back of a King Arthur bread flour bag, or you can check out their website at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/. They are a great resource for all things baking.
Bread is easy to make. It just takes a little love and patience.
Baking bread from scratch, and I mean no bread makers or Kitchen Aids, is something that everyone should try at least once. The main issues are to make sure your yeast is alive and fresh, that the water you use to dissolve the yeast in is the proper temperature, and that you have patience.
After you mix the ingredients you have to knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes as smooth as a baby's bum. Then you let it rest and rise. Next you may have to punch it down and knead it again or simply shape it into a loaf and put it in your bread pan.
Then you let it rest and rise. Once it has risen about two inches over your loaf pan it is ready to bake.
Don't be scared of the dough. Just follow the directions, experiment, release some stress, and most of all have fun!
There are many products on the market that are pre-made for our convenience and budget, but not for our health. These foods generally contain preservatives, food colorings, added salt and sugars, low quality ingredients and many other miscellaneous additives in order to make them tasty and inexpensive.
Most of these pre-made foods are actually quite easy to prepare, and all it takes is little bit of time, initiative, and knowledge. So, let me educate you on some common pre-made foods that are incredibly ease to make and will leave your body, tastebuds, and wallet happy.
Store bought salad dressing is a common item that I see at many friends and families homes. Have you ever stopped to look at the ingredients label in one of these?
One commercial raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette had the following ingredients in it: water, raspberry juice, soybean and olive oil, sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, salt, hazelnuts, onion powder, xanthum gum, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, propylene glycol alginate, citric acid, caramel powder, natural flavor, red #40 and blue #1.
Do you really want to be eating this stuff when you can make your own at home with all natural ingredients?
There are many recipes available on the Internet but one recipe for this dressing is as simple as mixing olive oil, a vinegar, and raspberry jam. Salad dressing is silly simple to make. The Italians simply dress a salad with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and I must say that it is divine.
Basically salad dressing is made with olive oil, a vinegar, maybe Dijon mustard or lemon juice, spices, and a pinch of sugar. Why ingest chemicals to save a few minutes?
Another item I see in a lot of pantries is pre-made trail mix which contains added sugar and salt, food coloring, artificial flavors, and even added oils. Save your body and make your own by purchasing the ingredients separately, from bulk bins at the grocery store, and mixing them together.
It takes a couple more minutes, but you can make a big batch and it will keep for a while. Try mixing nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and high quality chocolate chips for the sweet tooth. Simple and healthy.
I could blog for days on make your own pre-made foods, but that is another project. There are many recipes available on line for easy to make foods such as hummus, pesto, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza, hot cocoa, granola, frosting, and cake just to name a few.
I hope to one day have a searchable database on this subject. Until then, feel free to email any questions you have regarding recipes for pre-made foods and I will be happy to help.
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.