The next step in the never-ending quest to make work lunches interesting, I made up some spicy, crunchy, filling cold soba noodle salads. This past week’s incarnation was vegetarian, but you could toss in chicken or pork should you so desire.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it will last up to 5 days in your fridge and nothing goes soggy, assuming you don’t add something highly perishable like bean sprouts. That means you can prep a week’s worth of meals all at once and not have to think about it again til the weekend!
To make a less spicy version, cut the sambal oelek in half. Unlike the soup jars, you won’t add any liquid to these so the sauce won’t get watered down at all.
Makes 4 jars.
2 tb peanut butter
2 tb sambal oelek
4 ts soy sauce
3 ts rice wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 ts sesame oil
2 bundles soba noodles
1 sweet pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup corn
1 cup edamame
1 ts sesame seeds
1. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, sambael oelek, soy sauce and rice win vinegar. Slowly add in the oil and whisk til smooth. Set aside.
2. Cook the soba noodles according to the package. Remove from water, rinse til the noodles are cold and lightly toss with sesame oil.
3. Spoon the sauce into the bottoms of the jars. Add in the noodles, peppers, carrots, corn and edamame. Top each with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
4. Close up the jars, toss ’em in the fridge and grab as needed for a tasty lunch.
My 2016 resolution is to make at least two new recipes every month. I felt like I’d fallen into a rut, making the same five or six dinners over and over. I needed some motivation to try my hand at something new that would be enjoyed by everyone at the table. Soup is kind of perfect for this sort of challenge: it’s an easy, diverse, hearty option that can be anywhere between light and brothy or heavy and creamy. Wherever it may fall on that spectrum, it has got to be satisfying and the one I made this weekend was fantastic. It only took 30 minutes from start to finish – there really isn’t much prep at all. The flavour definitely improved overnight, so I’d recommend making the soup the night before and enjoying it the next day.
The recipe calls for butter but if you happen to be looking for a vegan recipe, you could certainly substitute the butter for oil.
1 tb butter
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ts coriander
1 ts fresh ginger, grated
1 cup red lentils
1 can coconut milk
2 c water
1 796ml can diced tomatoes
2 ts honey
1 ts salt
1 ts black pepper
1. In a large pot, heat the butter over medium heat and toss in the onions. Cook til soft, roughly 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt.
2. Add in the garlic, coriander and ginger. Sauté til aromatic, 1 minute.
3. Pour in the lentils, coconut milk and water. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are very soft.
4. Remove from the heat. Add in the tomatoes, honey, salt and pepper and blend . (I used my immersion blender, but you can certainly pour it all directly into a blender.)
5. Season to taste!
It’s cold out there in the big city. There’s snow on the ground, icicles hanging from eavestroughs and lots of grumpy, bundled up people. By the time you get home from a long day and maybe long commute, you want to get warm and eat something good. And quickly. I came across something perfect for just this scenario that has the added bonus of being really healthy. Vegan, even! It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and is full of flavour, textures and fantastic ingredients. Give it a try and I think you’ll quite enjoy it.
1b vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ts cumin
1 ts coriander
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
1/3 c quinoa, rinsed
2c vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth if that’s what you’ve got)
1 can white kidneybeans, drained and rinsed
2c baby spinach or 1c frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1. In a medium pot, heat the oil to medium. Add in the onion and carrot, cooking til the onion becomes translucent (3-4 minutes).
2. Add in the garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and quinoa. Stir to combine, cooking for 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and water, bringing everything to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook partially covered for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in beans and spinach until heated through, just a couple more minutes and you’re done!
In an attempt to make some healthier choices (I’m even back at the gym after a prolonged absence. Helllooooo, muscles I’d forgotten about!), I’ve been ransacking some cookbooks I haven’t opened in a while for inspiration. In the book Get Naked in the Kitchen, there is a pretty great recipe for a Mexican taco salad bowl. I made minor adjustments to the original to suit both my taste and what was in my cupboard. The end result had everything you could want in a healthy meal: it was filling, it was easy, it had lots of flavour, it was balanced, it came together in 25 minutes and it’s 100% adaptable. You can substitute the lemon juice for any vinegar, the brown rice for white or quinoa, the flavouring of the black beans or the black beans for another kind be it white, pinto, black-eyed peas…whatever you like. You could also throw in some tortilla chips for extra crunch. Give it a go!
3-4 c greens (I used baby arugula)
2 tb olive oil + 2ts for beans
1 tb lemon juice
1 c brown rice, cooked
1 can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 ts cumin
1 ts chili powder
splash of water
1/2 sweet pepper, chopped
Salt & pepper
handful of cilantro, chopped
1. Cook the rice according to directions.
2. In the meantime, heat the 2ts of olive oil in a pan to a medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and sauté until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.
3. Add in the beans, cumin, chili powder. Toss in salt & pepper to taste. Stir together and then add a couple of splashes of water to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook another 5-10 minutes until the water evaporates.
4. Slice the avocado in half. Remove the pit and cut the flesh into cubes. Season with salt, pepper & lemon or lime juice.
5. Toss greens and red pepper in a bowl with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Split evenly on two dishes, making a well in the middle.
6. Plate rice in the well among the greens and then top with beans, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce if you so choose.
The source of inspiration
The final product
Of my non-essential kitchen tools, my slow cooker is the one I use the most. (Maybe I should take it off the non-essential list.) I love it because it can be used to make so many dishes from breakfast right through to dessert. Currently, it’s mostly being used for overnight oatmeal. I’ve tried out a few variations but my favourite is a version of apple cinnamon oatmeal that smells incredible in the morning when you get up. I am in no way a morning person so anything I can do to make those groggy moments a little easier is good for me. Just throw the ingredients in the night before et voilà: healthy, filling, warm breakfast that requires little more than scooping it into a bowl….although you can’t go wrong adding a little bit of quality maple syrup to your oatmeal in the morning. Just sayin’.
I make a double batch so we have enough for several meals. I highly recommend doing this. It’ll keep in the fridge for a few days and you can always freeze it. (If you do decide to make the larger batch, I recommend adding a little bit more than double the cinnamon.) The recipe below is based on one over at The Yummy Life.
3 apples, peeled & cubed
1c uncooked steel cut oats
2 tb brown sugar or maple syrup
2 tb butter, cut into small pieces
1 ts cinnamon
1 tb ground flax seed, optional
1/2 ts salt
1. Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD. You will need a drill to remove the cooked on oats if you don’t coat the slow cooker. Trust me.
2. Add in all the ingredients and stir.
3. Set the slow cooker to to low and cook for 7-8 hours. (If doubling, give it an extra hour.)
4. In the morning, inhale the goodness that awaits you. Scoop some into a bowl, add a little milk, and you’re good to go. You could opt to add more maple syrup, brown sugar, walnuts, raisins or anything else your little heart desires.
Baby, it’s getting cold outside. What’s better than warming up with a spicy, sweet, comforting bowl of soup (perhaps accompanied by a glass of wine a cheese muffin)? This recipe is courtesy of Bon Appétit and it was a cinch to make. Chop, sauté, stir, blend. Ta da!
1/4 c butter
1lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 c low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth
1 13oz can coconut milk
2 tb Thai chile sauce
handful cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and season with salt and pepper. Stirring often, cook until the carrots have softened, roughly 15-20 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk, broth and chile sauce. Bring the whole concoction to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. The liquid should have reduced some and the vegetables should be quite soft.
3. Let the soup cool a bit, then pureé until smooth. (You can use a standing blender, but I just used my hand blender…carefully.) Add a little water if you feel the soup needs to be thinned out.
4. Season with more salt, pepper and/or chile sauce if you like. Split into the bowls and top with cilantro if you’re using it.
Carrot Coconut Soup
As I mentioned in my last post, I received a copy of refresh for my birthday. I have been making my way through it, greatly enjoying the results. After a particularly meat-heavy dinner on Tuesday, I thought it would be a good idea to eat a little lighter the next night. I was craving crunch and when I saw the portobello & walnut salad I knew it would work for me. As I often do, I made a couple of changes to suit my tastes but it was a good jumping off point. It came together in 15 minutes – including prep time – which is a big bonus on top of it being a healthy vegetarian option. (To make it vegan, just omit the cheese.)
4 portobellos, cleaned & sliced
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, scored on the top
1/2 c walnut pieces
2 tb extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greens
2 tb balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
4 c greens
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1. Heat the olive oil in a pan to medium. Toss in the mushrooms and the vinegar. Sauté until the mushrooms soften, roughly 5 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Add in the walnuts and scored tomatoes. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes start to split.
3. Split the greens over two plates & drizzle with olive oil. Place the cooked mushrooms, walnuts and tomatoes over the greens and top with crumbled goat cheese.