Tag Archives: sauces/dips

Meatless Monday: Vegan Sushi


courtesy of Meatless Monday

I’m sitting in the chemistry lab right now. Not doing any chemistry, but that’s probably for the best.

I can’t really think, mainly because the Sri Lank-an kid asked me to play Indian music and so now my computer is blasting “Hindi filmi” songs. How am I supposed to think with Shah Rukh Khan music playing in the background?!

For anyone following the trend, today is Meatless Monday, which is the main reason I am posting.

Please excuse the incongruence of the post. Anyone who speaks two languages (or more) might understand the brain confusion that results from writing in one while listening to another. It’s all I can do to not writing in Hindi.

It’s ironic that today’s meatless (vegan and budget-friendly) recipe is from an entirely different country.


It's sushi time!

Easy Vegan Sushi (with and Indian twist)

makes about 6 rolls (depending on how you cut it)

  • Nori sheets (available in some grocery stores and  most ethnic foods stores)
  • Sushi rice, cooked (I cheated and used the sprouted brown sushi rice I had leftover from an Annie Chun’s meal)
  • Baby corn
  • Sliced mini bella mushrooms
  • Vinegar (I went with a mix of apple cider and red wine)
  • Dipping sauce

Dipping Sauce

  • Soy sauce
  • A few pinches garam masala
  • Garlic powder or minced garlic cloves
  • Ginger paste or, even better, fresh grated ginger

→Make the dipping sauce by mixing the ingredients and letting it sit, covered, for at least half an hour or, even better, overnight.

If you have time, marinate the mushrooms in the vinegar overnight. If not, “quick marinate” them by placing them in a bowl with the vinegar and microwaving for about a minute (covered).

Place the nori on a clean, dry surface rough side up. If you have a bamboo mat, that’s great, but I didn’t so I put mine on a cutting board.

Spread the sushi rice evenly over the nori sheet, leaving an inch or two at once end (this will be the “sealing” part). Place the baby corn and “marinated” mushrooms in a thin line across one side of the sushi (the side farthest from the side without rice).

Roll the sushi and slice it. I would try to explain the rolling process but it was my first time, so I’m not sure I’m qualified. For a step-by-step (with pictures!) on rolling sushi, check out Make My Sushi’s illustrated guide.

If you’re brave, attempt chopsticks. Or do it Indian-style and get your hands dirty.


Breakfast of Champions: Lemon-Raspberry Parfait

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I have a confession to make: I’ve been eating a lot of cake/brownies/cookies lately. It makes me feel incredibly guilty, which, from a logical standpoint, doesn’t make much sense. If one were to take into account all the ingredients, they wouldn’t find a single guilt-worthy one. After all, what makes a plate of steamed broccoli “healthier” than pureed steamed broccoli in a cake?

I suppose it’s more about the psychological connections we have with certain foods. I remember my friend telling me once that, every time he ate something “unhealthy,” he would follow it up with something “healthy” like “broccoli”. Of course, being the kind of person that puts broccoli in my cake, my first question was what he would do if the cake was made out of something “healthy” (like broccoli). Not being one to obsess over every bite of food, he shrugged and let the issue pass, but I haven’t been able to let go of it since.

Whenever I eat a “healthy” version of a typically “unhealthy” food, my id and superego begin to battle it out in a dialogue reminiscent of the 1930s comedy sketch, “Who’s on First?” It seems neither one can understand the other and neither one cares to try. As a result, I am left guilty and confused about whether or not I should consider my baked goods “unhealthy” or “healthy”.

I guess the only question that really needs to be answered is why I care so much.

Things to think about:

  1. How do you define healthy? Is it macronutrient composition? Raw food? Calories? Is it more a “feeling” based on what you associate the food with?
  2. Based on your definition, how do you (or how don’t you) moderate unhealthy vs. healthy foods?
  3. Where would you put a cake made out of broccoli on the spectrum?

For the parfait:

  • Lemon Cake: Sponge cake seasoned with lemon zest
  • Whipped Cream: Try my version made with sugar-free, fat-free pudding
  • Raspberry Sauce: Mix low-calorie raspberry yogurt with water until it forms a saucy consistency

Low-Calorie Whipped Cream

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“What’s in the Freezer” Veggie Dip

dip and nori

Topped with chopped tomatoes! Mmmm

I was watching a cooking show today while I worked out. It made me kind of happy and kind of sad all at once, because watching the “chef” explain how innovative it is to BAKE onion rings made me feel like I deserve my own cooking show (or at least my own cooking short). Then I got really sad because I realized I never would.

Then I changed the channel, which made me feel a little better, but not really. But I guess that’s just life, isn’t it?

The show, which was about “healthified” fast food, did make me think about dips, which in turn made me come up with this cheesy spinach dip. There was also the fact that I was/am completely out of fresh vegetables and, if I wanted anything other than a peanut butter sandwich or a brownie, I was going to have to go to my freezer.

So out came the bag of frozen cut leaf spinach and then the 3 pepper/onion blend (as always); toss some garlic in there too, why not?; then saute a little and add a bit of fat-free cheese. Seriously, nothing could be easier.

Nori with dip

Toasted Nori with Cheesy Dip

Ooey, Gooey Cheesy Dip That Doubles as a Vegetable Serving
servings variable

  • Frozen chopped leaf spinach
  • Frozen 3 pepper/onion blend
  • Minced garlic cloves
  • Fat-free cream cheese
  • Fat-free mozzarella cheese
  • salt, pepper and spices of choice (garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasoning, etc)
  • Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Veggie Beef-style Crumbles, optional

→Spray a pan with nonstick spray. Dump the veggies and garlic into this pan. Saute them for a little bit until garlic is fragrant and onions are lightly browned.

Put this in a bowl. To this bowl, add a handful (good size pinch?) of fat-free mozzarella cheese and little bit of fat-free cream cheese. Mix it around. Keep adding cream cheese (or mozzarella) and mixing until it reaches the consistency you want. The cream cheese just helps the veggies stick together to form a “dip”.

Add a couple pinches of spices and seasonings of choice. You know what to do now.

Serve with chips, nachos or, as I did, toasted nori (which holds up surprisingly well considering the thinness).

Popeye would be jealous.

The Back of My Freezer: Seitan

Can you imagine a better salad?

For the record, I’m not exactly sure when I bought this package. Or why, for that matter. Really, I’m not even exactly sure what seitan is. According to the back of the package, it’s made out of wheat gluten and has the “mouth feel” of chicken. I can’t say if that’s true or not because I don’t remember what chicken tastes like but, well, there it is.

All I know is that, when this 2-serving, $5 mass was defrosted, it looked like something my cat hacked up at 2 AM last night. (Unrelated side note: For those of you who’ve never heard the sound coming out of a cat as a hair-ball is viciously expelled from their body, I can only describe it as akin to one you would imagine the boogie man making).

Either way, at $5 for such a small box, I wasn’t about to throw it in the trash. That and my growling stomach made me even more inclined to using it. The taste was actually pretty bland, so I figured it might not be that bad if I could spice it up a bit. Meyer Lemon? Balsamic Vinegar? Garlic? Sure why, not. (Funny thing, I used to hate vinegar but I’ve been obsessed with sniffing it lately…I think it’s probably my horribly clogged sinuses).

For extra kicks, throw in some lettuce.

Close up of seitan

Simple Salad Made Inspiring with Lemon-Balsamic Seitan and Sauteed Mixed Peppers
makes 1 salad

  • Lettuce of choice (“Seven Lettuce” or Mediterranean blends would would nicely for this)
  • Tomatoes, chopped or, even better, sun-dried tomatoes
  • Unseasoned seitan
  • 3 pepper onion blend + mushrooms

For the sauce/dressing:

  • 1-2 meyer lemons, juice, pulp and rind (or just juice)
  • Few squirts balsamic vinegar
  • Garlic powder + onion powder + italian seasoning
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried mint leaves
  • Salt and pepper

→For the sauce/dressing, mix the sauce ingredients together, whisking well. Note that all dry ingredients were measured in pinches (I added about a few pinches of each).

Put the lettuce in a bowl/salad plate. Put the tomatoes on top.

In a small frying pan sprayed with nonstick spray, “saute” the 3 pepper onion blend with the mushrooms. Put this on top of the salad.

In the same frying pan (sprayed with some more spray), saute the seitan. Once it looks a little brown, add about half of the sauce/dressing you made. Put this on top of the lettuce/peppers.

Pour the rest of the dressing over the top of the salad.

Serve with some thinly sliced meyer lemons if you want.

Yet another side note: I just realized how completely disjointed this post sounds (and how much the recipe title resembles a newspaper heading). I blame the sinuses. And the fact that I’m currently sniffing lab fumes.

Snow Day Concoctions: Super Easy Jelly

I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the fact that I already knew there was no CHANCE I could go in to the lab today (given the however many feet of snow and all). Maybe it was just stupid Monday and its stupid meeting, which always messes up my schedule. Whatever it was, I didn’t get out of bed today till 2. Yes, that’s right-TWO PM.

I was greeted by my cat’s meow and altogether too bright rays of sun. Curious as to how much snow had actually fallen (and, moreover, how long it would take me to clean my car off tomorrow), I looked out the upstairs window to find my car completely devoid of snow. And they said it was going to snow over a foot!, I naively laughed to myself. Little did I know what was waiting downstairs.

Either way, I figured it must have snowed a little…maybe even enough to make a small snowman. I went downstairs, put my coffee in, and walked toward the door. As I moved to turn the doorknob, a strange feeling overcame me, as if I already knew it was a bad idea. Ignoring the (oh so correct) feeling, I swung the door open and was immediately covered in a mess of moist, white dust. There would be no venturing outside today much less any making of snowmen. The however many inch thick block of snow in front of my doorway ensured that.

At least my car is clean.

2 PM Breakfast: Pancakes with Berry-Peach Jelly

Cranberry-Cherry Jello Jelly
makes 2 jars (13 oz)

  • 3 cups cranberries
  • 1.5 (3 oz) packages Cherry flavor sugar-free gelatin mix
  • 1.5 cups water

Version 2: Mixed Berry-Peach Jello Jelly
makes 2 jars (13 oz)

  • 3 cups mixed berries
  • 1.5 (3 oz) packages Peach flavor sugar-free gelatin mix
  • 1.5 cups water

→Mash the cranberries in a saucepan. Mine were frozen so I had to leave them out to defrost for a bit. Add the water and the Jello. Mix well.

Boil this mixture once then simmer for a few minutes, stirring continuously.

Pour into jars, cool, cover and refrigerate.

Use on pancakes, toast, peanut butter sandwiches or eat it off a spoon.

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My friend went to Korea and all I got was pictures of food

Ok, well, that’s not entirely true. But aren’t there T-shirts that say something like that?

All of the pictures and descriptions in the slideshow were taken by my good friend, Susannah Hope. All I did was “enhance” them in iPhoto and crop some of them to remove background. Since this is a vegetarian blog, I removed all the photos of meat. (Sorry, Susannah, I love you, but I can’t approve of you eating animals!)

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I’m actually a little jealous because, judging by these pictures, she has a much better camera than my puny cell phone one.

A healthy, multicultural stir-fry with zing, zest and zip! In 10 minutes!

It’s late, you’re hungry, you want Chinese, but that’s just so bad for you. You open the fridge, tap your fingers on the top, searching for something sweet but salty, chewy but with a crunch, meaty but light at the same time. It may seem like a lot for one dish to live up to, but you’re confident and relentless; you will find a way to make it happen.

Wait, you’re also hungry though, so it’s going to have to happen quick. Very quick.

You start poking around in the fridge. Hmmmm….there’s quinoa, some broccoli….there’s peppers/onions in the freezer…oh! And veggie meat. You take everything out and cook it up really quick in a frying pan.

Now what?

Now we add sauce. Sweet, but sour. Didn’t you make a sweet and sour sauce awhile ago. Ok, so now we have a sauce. You should taste it, though before you put it on all this stuff you just cooked……..*taste*

It needs something. Something chatpata. With zing. Like vinegar, but a little sweeter. Something that makes all the molecules on your tongue dance around a little because of all the extra saliva being produced, something like…..

Chat masala!

*taste* Mmmmmm….perfect.

Best pick I could get with my shaking hands

Super-quick Pseudo Chinese-Indian Stir Fry with Quinoa
makes 1 plate

  • Cooked quinoa
  • 2 Morningstar Farms Original Sausage Patties (feel free to substitute with any other veggie meat (or non-veggie if you go that way))
  • 3 pepper onion blend
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet and sour sauce

→Spray a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray. “Saute” the 3 pepper onion blend and broccoli until the onion is brown on this pan (I steamed the broccoli a little first to make it go faster).

Cook the veggie meat according to package directions.

Make THIS sweet and sour sauce. Add a couple good pinches of chat masala  to it (depending on how much you make). Mix it all together and enjoy.

Look at my pretty new placemats!

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Clinging to 2010: Low Calorie Cookies #4

As it nears the end of January, I find myself still clinging to the bits of the previous year. Anyone who knows me or who’s read this blog for awhile knows I have trouble with change, trouble letting things go…I can cling to my shoes, so filled with holes they are more swiss cheese than anything else; I can keep my jacket, so devoid of stuffing it is no longer warm; but even I cannot stop the sun from setting or the passage of time it brings.

I’m sure some part of me believes, wholly and naively, that if I refuse to buy a new calendar, refuse to stop drinking pumpkin coffee or eating pumpkin cookies, time will have stopped and it will be November again. Maybe, if I try hard enough, time will even rewind and it will be last January or better, five Januarys ago.

What a curious thing it is that, on one hand, I always pray for time to go faster: I want it to be over with, I want to be different from what I am now, I want my life to change…but, on the other hand, I’m always willing it to go backward. I suppose there’s an absolute value sign around my desire.

I’m not even particularly fond of pumpkin: its dull orange color, its rotten egg smell, its bland taste that does anything but compliment its creamy texture. But still, despite my lack of love for this vegetable, I used it to make cookies. Such is the strength of my hold on the past.

In their defense, though, these cookies (which are yet ANOTHER version of the low-calorie cookies I did awhile back) could hold their own in both flavor and texture. The cardamom flavor is just strong enough to flatter the creaminess of the bland pumpkin. The orange yogurt dip adds a little punch to the depth of the cardamom, resulting in a dessert with an tangy introduction and a slowly fading comfort. All while maintaing a low-calorie level.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
makes 10-12 cookies

  • 1/4 c. mashed Fiber One Original Bran (mash it till it has the consistency of flour)
  • 1/8 c. (2T.) wheat bran (or germ, if you prefer)
  • 1/4 t. baking SODA
  • 1/4 t. baking POWDER
  • a couple pinches cardamom
  • 1/4 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1/8 c. egg or egg substitute
  • 1/2 capful vanilla extract
  • 2 T. light butter, melted
  • 3 T. sugar substitute/sugar (the sugar doesn’t really play a part in the texture here so feel free to use sugar substitute packets)
  • 1 t. equivalent brown sugar (I used Splenda Brown Sugar blend for baking)

→Preheat the oven to 350*F.

In a bowl, mix the butter with the sugars. Add the pumpkin, vanilla and egg (the wet). Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

In another bowl, mix the fiber one, wheat bran/germ, cardamom, baking soda and baking powder (the dry).

Add the wet to the dry and mix well. My dough was VERY thick so I added a little water as well, which is why it made more cookies.

Drop by spoonfuls on cookie sheet sprayed well with nonstick spray and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Unlike the chocolate ones, you can watch these ones for doneness. When the edges are lightly browned, take them out.

These were delicious without the dip, but my first reaction was still hmmmm….missing something. I had read somewhere that pumpkin tastes good with orange so I grabbed the sugar-free orange marmalade out of the fridge and tried it with that. Unfortunately, the texture of the marmalade felt like slime on the cookie, completely negating the chewy goodness with a subtle crunch. Yogurt to the rescue!

Orange Yogurt Dip
makes a small bowl full

  • Yogurt (greek would be best due to its thickness)
  • (Sugar-free) orange marmalade
  • Sugar or sugar substitute, optional
  • Orange zest, for serving

→Mix the yogurt so it’s smooth. Stir in marmalade. Add sweetener if desired.

Dip cookies in yogurt dip while watching It’s a Wonderful Life and pretending tomorrow is Christmas all over again.

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