Recipes

Easy Creamy Tofu and Pea Curry (aka Matar Paneer) – Vegan, WFPB

 

As life gets busier (between quarantine ending and closing on a house), my BIGGEST cooking goal these days is to come up with super simple recipes that are both healthy and easy to make in bulk. And my latest favorite creation that fits the bill is this super simple tofu & pea curry!

It has all the creamy, comforting goodness of the authentic Indian version (called Matar or Mutter Paneer), but without any of the cheese, cream or oil. The only source of fat in this recipe, in fact, are cashews! (And if you want to get fat free with it, you could omit the cashew cream. But then… it wouldn’t be creamy anymore. 😉 )

And bonus, this version is high in protein!

This recipe is super simple, because the ONLY chopping required is cubing the tofu–everything else is just chucked into the blender.

I also cook this in bulk by doubling the recipe below (cooking times are the same)–it takes me about 30 mins of prep time for 8 meals’ worth of food!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 16oz block super firm tofu, cubed
  • 1.5 cups frozen peas
  • 1 white or yellow onion
  • 1″ ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 green chili pepper (can also use ~1 tbsp canned)
  • 3/8 cup water
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or sub powder)
  • Half a 15oz can tomato sauce (or pureed fresh tomato)
  • 1 + 1/4 tsp coriander
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder, or to taste*

Cashew cream:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 1/2 cup water

*This will depend on the chili you use. When I use my spicier homegrown chilis, I omit the cayenne. If you use canned mild chilis, you’ll probably want to keep the cayenne in.

Directions:

  1. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, and 3/8c water to your blender, and blend until smooth. Let sit for a minute or two before opening it, as the chili will be airborne for a moment!
  2. Meanwhile, saute the cumin seeds with a splash of water until they start to turn brown, 1-2 minutes. Add the pureed onion mixture, and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, coriander, turmeric, and salt, and boil for another ~5 minutes.
  4. Add the cubed tofu and peas and stir them in gently, just as much as needed to combine everything, so as not to break the tofu.
  5. Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 2 mins, and let it release naturally for 10-15 minutes. (For stovetop version: simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the peas are tender but not mushy. Stir it occasionally.)
  6. While the curry is cooking, blend the cashew cream ingredients, and set aside. Once the curry is done cooking, gently stir in the cashew cream.
  7. Serve with rice, paratha, or naan, and enjoy!

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Recipes

4 Ingredient Iron-boosting Bars (Vegan)

Did you know that about 20% of women in the US are iron deficient? (Thanks largely to Aunt Flo)

I know I’ve been slacking on making sure I’m getting enough, so I’ve been researching the iron content of a ton of different ingredients, and coming up with recipes that are super high in iron.

I figured my high-iron recipes wouldn’t necessarily be the next great taste sensation given my main focus is on their nutrient content, but on day 2 of my new iron-finding kick, these bars proved me oh so wrong. They are incredibly delicious–for breakfast, snacks, or even dessert.

Just 100 calories of them provides 13% of your recommended daily intake of iron, and a breakfast-sized amount (let’s say 500 calories), satisfies a whopping 65% of your daily iron needs. (See below for more nutrition notes)

To put it in more exciting terms… calorie for calorie, these bars have 4x as much iron as chicken, and twice as much iron as STEAK!

In good news, my husband tried them and loves them so much that he keeps asking for them, and has even dubbed them “the perfect breakfast.” In bad news, a batch doesn’t last me nearly as long as I thought it would, because I had originally expected to be the only one eating them… 😛

Makes 16 bars; each 100-calorie bar has 13% of the female RDA for iron (26% of the male RDA).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups puffed amaranth (requires about 2/3-1 cup dry amaranth)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup*
  • 1/8 tsp salt (optional)
*You can sub out the maple syrup for agave, or more molasses

Directions:

  1. Preheat a pot over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Make sure the bottom of the pot is the same size or smaller than your burner.
  2. Pop the amaranth: add one tablespoon of dry amaranth to the pot; it should start popping almost immediately (it looks like mini popcorn). Shake or stir the pot consistently while the amaranth pops. Once most of the grains have popped, or once the remaining unpopped ones starts to get a darker brown, pour out the amaranth into a separate bowl. Then repeat the process with the rest of the dried amaranth until you have 1 cup. It sounds difficult, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and honestly pretty fun. I found this video to be useful! (but no need to sieve it)
  3. Once cooled, add the popped amaranth to a 9″ square (or round) pan, and add all the other ingredients. Stir until well combined. (If it seems dry/crumbly, add more molasses–the consistency will depend on what % of your amaranth ended up being puffed.)
  4. Press mixture into pan, refrigerate, cut into bars, and enjoy!

Extra nutrition notes:

  • With the ingredients I use, the entire recipe contains 36mg of iron; a premenopausal woman’s daily RDA of iron is 18mg! For men and postmenopausal women, the RDA is 8mg.
  • For my tahini, I use Artisana Tahini. I’ve noticed that the iron content of tahini can vary somewhat, and Artisana is one of the highest iron contents I’ve found.
  • For amaranth, I use Bob’s Red Mill from Amazon.
  • For molasses, I use Grandma’s.

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Recipes

Easy Thai Red Curry Lentils (Vegan, WFPB)

In my neverending quest to find recipes that are quick & easy to make, super healthy, AND also budget-friendly, I’ve found that lentil-based recipes often check all those boxes. Especially for bulk cooking, which really cuts down on the time needed per meal.

These lentils may be one of my easiest recipes yet… especially considering how flavorful they are. I know it sounds unusual to use Thai curry paste with lentils, but they taste really good together. These lentils work well on their own as a stew, or paired with rice to make them last even longer.

(I will admit, I have made even faster meals on occasion: when I needed a 5-minute lunch to bring to work on especially busy weeks, I used to just toss lentils and rice in my rice cooker, and add frozen spinach and seasoning salt. But that’s not delicious enough to write a whole post about 😉 )

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry brown or red lentils, washed
  • 5 cups water
  • 15oz can coconut milk
  • 10oz bag frozen spinach
  • 10oz sliced mushrooms; I used frozen
  • 4 tbsp red curry paste (make sure it’s vegan–I use this kind)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the lentils and water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer until the lentils are soft and most of the water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
  2. Optional: sauté mushrooms in a separate pan with a splash of soy sauce (or water + salt) until they start to get tender. (If you don’t feel like sautéing them, you can just add the mushrooms raw in the next step)
  3. Stir in the coconut milk, frozen spinach, mushrooms, curry paste, and tomato paste to the pot with the lentils. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and it’s a curry-like texture, for about 20 minutes.
  4. Serve on its own or with rice, and enjoy!

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Recipes

Baked Bean Mac n Cheese Bowls (Vegan)

I’m working on building a repertoire of recipes that my more junk-food-vegan leaning husband loves and that fit in with my unprocessed preferences. They tend to take a little more effort, but are as delicious as junk food while also being healthy.

This recipe is our favorite hybrid so far. (In case you can’t tell, I generally only share my favorite recipes with y’all!)

It’s a southern-inspired feast that has 3 parts, and they go SO well together. It takes me about two hours to make, which isn’t bad given it results in 5 nights’ worth of dinner for two–and given it tastes as good as our favorite restaurant food and is packed full of veggies & beans. It also happens to be low fat, with the only overt fat being some cashews in the sauce.

Want to make it fat-free, and skip the macaroni? Try the baked beans + kale over a baked potato. That was actually the original version of this recipe for us!

(This recipe is for a bulk amount because feeding my 6’6″ bodybuilding husband with low-calorie-density food requires a LOT of food.)

Serves 8-12

Baked beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 4 cans navy beans, rinsed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add onion to a pot over medium-high heat, and saute for a few minutes until they start to get translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat, and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into a 13×9″ pan, cover with tinfoil, and bake for 45 minutes.

Cheese sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups roughly chopped gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • Dash of cayenne (optional)

Directions:

  1. Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion until tender.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more salt and lemon to taste.

Pasta & Kale

Ingredients:

  • 24oz dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions
  • 32oz frozen kale (or use raw kale that is about 32oz when cooked)
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the kale and garlic to a pot over medium heat. Saute, stirring regularly, until the kale is tender. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
  2. Make the final bowl: put the macaroni in a bowl, top with cheese sauce, then baked beans, then kale, and enjoy! (And, possibly, become as addicted to it as we are)

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