Everything Salad

Two common comments I hear about a vegan diet is that cooking vegan takes more time than carnivorous meals, and that it is hard to get enough protein. In my opinion these things are not true. In the past few month Tom and I have discovered some recipes that have become staples in our diet for quick meals, and they just so happen to be packed with protein. Here is one of the recipes, which I am going to call an Eveything Salad because there are so many possibilities for what you can put in it.

Ingredients
1 or 2 cups quinoa, cooked with 2 or 4 cups water or vegetable broth, and cooled (I ate this salad warm too, and it was delicious)
x amount shredded carrots
x amount roughly chopped spinach, kale, or arugula
x amount corn (canned, or stripped from a cooked ear of corn)
amount red onion
amount toasted almonds*

Maple Dijon Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper

Basically, just toss all the veggies together with the quinoa, mix the dressing in a container and toss with the salad, and you’ve got yourself a delicious lunch or dinner (especially good on a hot day). The amount of dressing needed may vary on your taste buds; there may be too much dressing depending on how big the salad is.

I also really enjoy adding about 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast to add a cheesy flavour  and some extra nutrition (1/4 cup of nutritional yeast is 300% of your daily intake of vitamin B12, which is most commonly found in animal products).

Suggestions for other add-ons: raisins, dried cranberries, other toasted nuts, cucumber, tomato, cooked and cubed sweet potatoes, and fried tofu for the warm salad. You can also substitute other salad dressings, or just use olive oil and salt. The possibilities are endless.

Cooking quinoa takes 20 minutes, and chopping the veggies can be done during this time. If you eat the salad warm, it could take you 20 minutes to make. Furthermore, 1 cup of uncooked quinoa (which is the minimum amount in this recipe) has 24g of protein, and 1 cup of almonds has 30g of protein. Enough protein for you?!

* To toast almonds, place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until a smell comes from the oven, about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely before eating.

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Vegan Tacos with Quinoa and Beans

I hadn’t really used Pinterest all that much until I realized that I could pin vegan recipes to have as a reference for the vegan cooking I will be doing this summer. On my last night in Ottawa I made a Mexican meal for my dad and our friend Paula, which included vegan soft-shell tacos, homemade salsa, quinoa and beans, and vegan chocolate pudding for dessert; the linked recipes are the ones I got from Pinterest, and I can assure you that they are excellent recipes, even for a non-vegan (I left out the coffee and orange oil for the pudding). 

I filled the tacos with the bean filling, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and vegan cheese (which was pretty good). Though, with all the textures and flavours, cheese is not necessary. 

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The Quinoa and Beans recipe is one that I learned from Tom a couple years ago, and it has become one of my favorites. 

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 can corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a pot, I sauteed the onion and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes, then added the quinoa and vegetable broth, and let the quinoa cook at a simmer for about 20 minutes. I added the corn and black beans, letting them cook for about five minutes, then added the spices and cilantro.

Easy peasy, mighty delicious, and extremely healthy. If you have never cooked with quinoa, I highly suggest this recipe to give it a try – use it either as a side dish, or inside of a taco. 

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The salsa I made involved the chopping and mixing together of a red onion, a few tomatoes, one mango, a couple cloves of garlic, one jalapeno pepper, and salt and pepper. Letting salsa sit for a few hours makes it come together very nicely. 

To finish off, I just wanted to say that one of the main reasons why I am trying out a vegan diet is because I love to cook, and I love discovering new ways of making dishes. I learned from making this meal that I absolutely love pinto beans! But, if you’re curious about the other reasons to be come vegan, I strongly urge watching the documentary Vegucated that convinced me – I will at least eat vegan as much as I can, and perhaps one day I will be able to be one full-time. But, for now, it’s fun to experiment with some new recipes. 

Greek Chicken with Quinoa Salad

This meal came from two different cookbooks: Chicken with Onion, Chilli, and Greek Yoghurt, from “How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food” by Nigella Lawson, and Couscous Saladfrom”The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking” by Linda Fraser.

First I made the couscous salad, but I substituted couscous with quinoa:

Ingredients

3 tbs olive oil

5 green onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 cup quinoa

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 fresh chili, seeded and chopped

2 tbs lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan, then add the green onions, garlic, and cumin. Cook for a minute, then add the vegetable stock.

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Bring stock to a boil, then add the quinoa. Reduce heat to low and let quinoa cook for 15 minutes, partly covered. If using couscous, remove pot from the heat when adding couscous, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Place couscous, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, chili, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together, cover in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge. Hint: press plastic wrap so it touches the salad to avoid excess condensation dripping on the salad. Image

Next, I made the chicken. I realized after that I could have cut the recipe in half, since it makes a lot.

Ingredients

6 skinless chicken breasts

Juice of 2 lemons

6 tbs olive oil

4-5 green onions, chopped

1 green chili, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 cucumber, chopped into cubes

4 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

400g tub Greek yogurt

Start off by smashing the chicken so it is flat, then marinade it in the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Add green onions, chili, garlic, cucumber, coriander, and parsley to Greek yogurt.

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Remove liquid from chicken marinade and set aside. Fry chicken in oil, about 5 minutes on each side. They should look golden brown, but make sure they are cooked all the way through. I had to add on a few minutes of cooking time, probably because I did not smash the chicken flat enough. In the last minute of cooking, add the lemon marinade. Serve the Greek yogurt on top of the chicken.

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Easy, eh? It turned out delicious, too!