Day 74 – Recipe: Eggplant and Fresh Herb Quinoa Tabbouleh (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free)

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I’m getting a little confused about which day I’m on but I think it’s day 74. I wish it was day 364. When I’m home or when I’m at a vegan restaurant I don’t mind being on this diet, but whenever I’m out at a restaurant that has amazing smelling meat or pizza or waffles or bacon – you get the picture – I just can’t stand it, I get depressed. I love food so much, and being restrictive in my diet feels so unnatural to me. Sometimes I just want to say screw it and eat some boneless wings. The last couple weeks have been really hard. I’ve definitely eaten some things I shouldn’t have eaten (they were vegan, but processed) and I feel guilty about it. I hate feeling guilty. I wish this diet was easy. It’s not. I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing it because I don’t want someone to take a scalpel to my throat and cut me open. God that really sounds horrible.

Anyways, for about 2 months we had fresh basil and mint growing in our kitchen and I rarely used it. About a month and a half into it we started having a severe gnat issue and I couldn’t take it anymore – my boyfriend took the herbs to his parent’s house in Sedona to plant in their garden. Less than a week later I came across this recipe with copious amounts of both fresh mint and basil and was like Damn The Irony! Fortunately we were going to see his parents over the weekend and they brought us a bunch of herbs so I could make the dish. Yay!

So I found this recipe in Shape magazine, I changed it a lot but the original recipe is from Clotilde Dusoulier’s new vegetarian cookbook, The French Market Cookbook. She used whole wheat couscous in her recipe, to make it gluten-free I opted for quinoa. I think it turned out really good. The herbs kind of overpowered the eggplant, mostly because I used spearmint which is too strong for this recipe, I would suggest using Mojito mint which is much milder. Also her recipe called for harissa, which I couldn’t find anywhere, so I used an Asian chili paste instead, I think it worked just as well. So here is my version:

Eggplant and Fresh Herb Quinoa Tabbouleh

Serves 8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Lbs small Italian eggplants
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups white quinoa
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T tahini
  • 1 T harissa or Asian chili paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mojito mint leaves, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, sliced

Directions:

  1. Cut eggplant into small 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt, then toss to coat; let rest 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly. Turn onto a clean kitchen towel, roll up, and squeeze gently to absorb liquid.
  2. While eggplant is resting, mince the onion. Place minced onion, quinoa, 1 tsp sea salt, and 3 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool. (To cool faster, spread onto a baking sheet and chill in the fridge.)
  3. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Place eggplant cubes in skillet and toss well, until coated in oil. When eggplant is hot, cover and let steam in skillet for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Eggplant should be very tender. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk tahini and harissa or chili paste. Whisk in lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure it is incorporated before adding more to prevent curdling. Whisk til smooth.
  5. Pour the dressing over cooled quinoa and toss to combine. Fold in eggplant, mint, basil and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Enjoy!

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I served this dish with another Greek-inspired salad that I will post tomorrow. You can serve it with falafels, dolmas, hummus, pretty much any Mediterranean food, or just eat it by itself.

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It has a hint of spice to it but overall is pretty mild. If you want more spice, add more chili paste.

 

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Day 72 – Recipe: Tanzanian Green Banana and Yam Stew (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free)

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While flipping through a vegetarian cookbook at a restaurant, I came across this recipe for Banana and Yam Stew and instantly was intrigued. At first I thought it sounded really gross but the more I read I became extremely curious. I must’ve read the recipe over at least 4 times, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Bananas in a stew? I decided I had to make it, even though it is not stew weather at all right now, it sounded so interesting – and I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

Thankfully it turned out really good. And it took less time than I expected, which is always a bonus. My boyfriend wasn’t as crazy about it as I was – he doesn’t really like cloves (which I didn’t know beforehand), and truthfully the cloves were a bit overpowering. When I make this again I will adjust the spices (this is reflected in the recipe below). I can definitely see eating it when it’s cooler outside, it’s a great winter stew, very hearty, warming, and slightly sweet. The recipe makes enough for about 12 people, I ended up freezing half of it because there was so much. I won’t make my boyfriend eat it again though, Mom and Dad I hope you like cloves!

Green Banana and Yam Stew
Adapted From Linda McCartney on Tour

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

  • 2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped

  • 1 large tomato, chopped roughly

  • 1 large carrot, sliced into thin rounds

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 2 tablespoons water

  • 2 green bananas, sliced

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the yams or sweet potatoes and cook until slightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate or bowl. In the same pot, heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the jalapeno, cilantro, onion, tomato, carrot, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaves and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir in the arrowroot mixture. Add the bananas and yams/sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve alone or with quinoa or couscous. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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Not the most appetizing color, I promise it tastes better than it looks here.

 

 

 

Day 22 – Recipe: M Café’s Scarlet Quinoa Salad

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After I found M Café’s Kale Salad recipe, I wanted to see if I could find any of their other recipes online. To my surprise I found quite a few! Their Scarlet Quinoa Salad is another one of my favorites. I remember trying to copy it years ago and it didn’t turn out anything like the real thing. This time, it was perfect! And thankfully it didn’t take as long to make as the Kale Salad, it was pretty quick and easy.

The pink color comes from cooking the quinoa with diced beets. Above I served it with Umeboshi Radishes (I’ll have that recipe tomorrow), the flavor went perfectly with the Umeboshi-lemon dressing on the salad. I found the recipe on the LA Times website.

M Café’s Scarlet Quinoa Salad

Umeboshi-Lemon Dressing

  • 2 teaspoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar (I used Eden Foods brand)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
  • 1 Tablespoon best-quality olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes one-fourth cup dressing.

Scarlet Quinoa Salad and Assembly

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red beets
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup diced seedless or Persian cucumber
  • 2 teaspoons chopped scallions or chives
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • Umeboshi-lemon dressing
  • Sea Salt

1. Wash the quinoa under cold running water in a fine strainer. Drain well.

2. In a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the beets, vegetable broth, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Turn off burner and keep the pot on hot burner for 10 more minutes to finish cooking.

3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the grains, uncovered, until cool.

4. Fluff the cooled grains and place them in a large bowl. Gently stir in the cucumber, scallions, dill and lemon zest. Stir in half of the dressing, then taste the salad and add additional dressing or salt as desired.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

Fluffed Quinoa:

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Cooling Quinoa:

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Chopped cucumber, scallions, dill and lemon zest:

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Finished Salad:

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I ended using all of the finished dressing on the salad.

You don’t have to use a baking sheet to cool the quinoa, but I found that using one cooled it much faster than if I had just left it in the pot.

Eat cold or room temperature and enjoy!!

 

Day 2 – Quinoa Loaf

Well, it was bound to happen and I’m sure it’s going to happen again – I’m starting to feel deprived. And it’s only the second day! Oy.

So I decided to make Quinoa Loaf. It isn’t exactly the perfect dinner for my specific diet, but it’s Vegan and delicious and well I could have done worse. This is a dish I have been making for quite a long time, the original recipe came off of a box of red quinoa that I bought 6 years ago, this is my own updated version.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa (1 cup dry red quinoa cooked with 2 cups filtered water)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 green onions – chopped
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (red, orange or yellow) – diced
  • 1/2 cup organic celery – diced (about 3 ribs)
  • 2 T Thyme
  • 1 T ground sage
  • 1 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (this is a fermented soy product)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almond butter (Trader Joe’s is the cheapest)

Directions

Boil quinoa with 2 cups filtered water for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Heat oven to 375. Put quinoa in a large mixing bowl and mix all ingredients in. I usually add the walnuts, green onions, red pepper, celery and herbs first, then add the Braggs, then the almond butter last. Mix it all together until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of almond butter.

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Oil a loaf pan and press mixture into the pan. Flatten the top with a spatula.

Cover the top of the loaf with a piece of parchment paper so the crust doesn’t get too hard. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.Image

Voila! I like it just how it is but my boyfriend likes to pour ketchup or bbq sauce over it. I served it with roasted asparagus. Yum!! I feel a little better now 🙂 I just have to keep reminding myself what I’m doing this diet for. And more than anything, I want to keep my thyroid. It’s going to get easier, right?

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