Vegan Mofo Day 27: Soup, Sandwich, and Salad Saturday: Salad tips

So far this Saturday theme has been all about soups and sandwiches, like my recipe for Jackfruit Chicken Noodle Soup, California Club Sandwich with Nori Bac’non, and Easy Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil Grilled Cheese. Today, I’m going to finally address some salads.

I have been trying to eat a salad almost daily for a meal for over a year now. At first, I figured I’d just put as many vegetables as I could possibly chop and cram into a large bowl with not much else, but there was so much chewing involved that I ended up eating it for over an hour. That wasn’t too fun.

Eventually I started getting the hang of it. To make a good meal salad, you typically need more than veggies. Although protein isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be, we still need a minimum amount each day at least. That can be hard if you eat one meal a day without any substantial source of it.

For a long time I was obsessed with Boca Chick’n patties on my salads. I’d cook them in the oven, cut them up and toss them in. Nowadays, not so much. They’re a bit expensive and I’m not really a fan of them for other reasons as well. Sometimes I will get them as a treat, though or if they’re on sale.

Here’s a few salads I have made in the past:

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This is I believe the Thanksgiving salad I had blogged about awhile back.

IMG_1348Here is the Burrito Explosion salad, also made awhile back.

Anyways, I think I’ve developed a bit of a formula for the perfect meal salad. It requires a delicate balance of textures and ingredients.

I’ve composed a little menu of different types of ingredients and things you can choose from to create the perfect salad. Each heading has the explanation of how many you should include…

The Base (2-3 cups)-Greens of some type:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Mixed spring greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

(You get the idea, you can mix say, 1 cup of spinach with 2 cups of romaine, or any other combination you desire here)

The Protein- Usually soft (1-2 servings):

  • Some type of your favorite veggie burger, chopped up
  • Beans of any type
  • Edamame
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Seitan
  • Marinated and grilled tofu (or even plain tofu)
  • Tempeh
  • Tofurky slices
  • Gardein Products
  • Any other meat substitutes, like Beyond Meat

The crunchy element (1-3 things):

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Carrot rounds
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Croutons
  • Crunchy Tortillas
  • Potato chips (yes, I’ve done this!)
  • Crispy fried vegetables like onions (or I like these crispy fried red pepper strips that I get in the salad supplies in the grocery store)
  • Wontons or crispy lo mein noodles
  • Water chestnuts
  • Pickles

Other optional additions:

  • Baby corn
  • Regular corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Dried Cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, like goji berries or whatever
  • Red onion
  • Olives
  • Beets
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Vegan Cottage Cheese (my recipe can be found here)
  • Basically anything you desire and think up!

The Smooth (dressing):

I try to base the dressing I select on the rest of the ingredients I have used. If it has a certain area of the world associated with the flavors, I will try to honor that. For example, maybe a salad with spinach and napa cabbage, tofu, sesame seeds, water chestnuts, wontons, and baby corn with have an Asian Ginger Sesame dressing. Or a salad with romaine, black beans, tortillas, carrots, red onion, and salsa will have a spicy South American style dressing, maybe by combining salsa with vegan sour cream and some hot sauce, even.

Avocados are also a great thing to add if you don’t want to add dressing, or if you want to make a dressing with them!

Here’s a good big list of no oil dressings you can make yourself that are easy and I’ve tried many of them. I really liked E2 Basics recipe for a long time…

I also wanted to share two of my favorite salads I have made through other vegan blogs that seem to fit my expectations:

Donut Salad from Bake And Destroy

Aloha Salad from Healthy Happy Life

There ya go! What are some of your favorite salad ingredients? Tell me in the comments.

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Foodie (Photo) Friday! I made a lot! Especially from the cookbook Isa Does It!

This week was a big week for my cooking. Not only did I create my own original recipe for a favorite, typically very non vegan appetizer, but I also tested tons of other people’s recipes.

I mostly tried a bunch of recipes from the Isa Does It cookbook though, which I have not found a single recipe that wasn’t amazing or really yummy yet. My only complaint is that the recipe names are not easy to remember because they are usually named after the ingredients and not that creative/specific so I feel like I sometimes write about them and name them different than what is in the cookbook. So apologies if I am not using the actual recipe names to a T, I am currently too tired and somewhat lazy to go get the book and double check! Woops. How unprofessional of me…

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Brussels Sprouts and Tarragon Cashew Cream Sauce

The most impressive recipe  I have tried  so far was definitely the Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Tarragon Cashew Cream and Brussels Sprouts. I have made my own gnocchi from recipes before, but it seemed so difficult and was such a long process. Maybe my cooking skills have drastically improved over time and I just do things faster and in a more organized time saving manner, but I still think this recipe is by far an easier and simple way of making you own vegan gnocchi from scratch than the previous recipe I tried. It only really takes awhile because you have to bake the sweet potato (or potatoes…but I found a 1 lb sweet potato that worked out very well). The sauce is also simplistic yet has a very fancy flavor/touch to it with the tarragon. And a cashew based sauce makes almost any pasta recipe rich and luxurious. The Brussels Sprouts were the perfect finishing touch, and add to the dish to make it a complete healthful meal.

I love the bowls so far in this cookbook. I think I forgot to post about the cucumber ranch tofu bowl I made New Year’s Eve? Well that was pretty good. Even better was the pizza bowl, though.

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Not the prettiest looking pizza bowls

I used tofurky italian sausages (Which, to my delight, do not contain soy protein isolate in them which I am really trying to avoid as much as possible now.  My nutritionist said she believes that it is that form of soy that causes the most problems for our hormone balance, and it is very highly processed (and typically g.m.o I think?) so it is good to avoid or eat irregularly. Tofu is fine unless you have digestive/other sensitivities to it, whIch I do not.

Anyways, this was absolutely delicious and comforting. The sauce is really, really good. It reminds me of pink (or vodka cream) sauce, which was one of my favorite sauces before I went vegan and I have found difficult to replicate as a vegan despite trying . Actually now this gives me an idea to try and make an even more authentic version of it! Yay!

Paired with the kale (which I actually seemed to cook right for the first time ever…I typically only eat it raw), rice, sausage, garlic, red onions, olives, etc it is just so wonderfully filling and tasty!

My pictures of it are not the prettiest, but believe me, it is so yummy!

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edamame hummus tofu wraps…before I wrapped them 🙂

I also made the tofu wraps with edamame hummus. It somehow tastes kind of like a Japanese-inspired egg salad wrap to me which I thought was pretty cool. I will definitely be making the edamame based (instead of chickpea) hummus on it’s own again multiple times. The tofu was really good too though! I love anything with sesame oil in it, and it crisps the tofu perfectly. Isa Chandra Moscowitz doesa really good job through writing her recipes teaching people the proper methods of cooking her dishes without having them fail horribly. Hopefully I can get there myself too!

I did not use sprouts because when I buy them they seem to go bad too fast, instead I used greens. When I use up the leftovers tomorrow though, I am probably going to use baby arugula. Yum!

Aside from cooking from Isa Does It, I found this recipe on a facebook group I belong to and was intrigued so I gave it a try. Behold, Green Pancakes!

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not the prettiest again but behold green pancakes!

They look kinda gross, but I felt really good about eating them for my breakfast and do not taste too different from unhealthy versions of pancakes…especially when you add some maple syrup, ha, ha. I kept thinking of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham and thinking this would make a good vegan story like that, especially for kids while eating these. So it was fun, healthy, and fed my belly all at once.

Finally, I made a really delicious salad today.

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my delicious salad with chickpea “bacon”

The centerpiece of the salad was the Chickpea Bacon recipe from Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Gosh do I love that book!

I put 2 cups chopped romaine, 1/2 cup baby arugula, 1/3 cup sliced cucumber, 1/3 cup chopped hearts of palm, 1/4 of the chickpea recipe, a slice of red onion that I chopped into smaller bits, 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 2 tbsp Organicville Non Dairy Ranch! I made a similar version for my dad and he really liked it too! He was trying to refuse eating it because of the non-dairy ranch, but now he says I have to make him a salad every day! (Though fat chance…but I will make an extra for him when I have one from now on!)

Ta da! And now you know what I cooked up this week!

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can follow me on these social media outlets where I post related (and unrelated) things to my blog.

Banana Curl, Vegan Girl’s Facebook Page

Follow me on Pinterest (the blog has it’s own board if you just want to follow that)

Twitter

And I think that’s everything for now! I will be adding these to the end of my blog every so often for new people to click on and explore. Also, I love comments and feedback and love it when people spread and share my work I am doing here, so do not be shy about that!