Products We Love: Pre-Chopped Ginger

Yes, this Product We Love costs money (about $3.00 a jar).  But every time I bust it out for a recipe I think to myself “damn I am one savvy chef, I am saving so much time right now.”  Not to mention saving my fingertips and knuckles.  Cause whether the recipe calls for chopped or grated, dealing with fresh ginger is hazardous to my hands.  I’ve just never had good knife skills- what can I say.

In addition to whipping up stir fries and curries in no time, keeping chopped ginger on hand is great for bellyaches or a sore throat.  Just simmer in water for a while til it smells great, and strain it into a mug with some honey and lemon.  Aren’t you smart?

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Flipper Approved Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

This is a great one for when you are super unmotivated but find yourself with a family to feed.   Or superunmotivated with just yourself to feed.  Either way, it will take you about 10 minutes to throw together and my unscientific uncontrolled studies have shown than 100% of tuna-eaters find this to be a great substitution (without Flipper’s friends on your conscience).  I invented it while on a 3 week vegan, gluten-free, animal-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free cleanse (don’t ask).
My kid likes this, my omnivorous huband likes this, even my dog likes this.  Mash it together, throw it on some bread on in a bowl of lettuce and you’ve got yourself a nutritious meal packed with calcium, iron, fiber, B vitamins, and protein.
FLIPPER APPROVED CHICKPEA “TUNA” SALAD – serves 4

 Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 There isn’t much you can do to make this recipe easier.  Whip up a batch and use it in sandwiches for work and school.  r, make a tuna melt and enjoy with a bowl of soup.
Ingredients
  • 2 14 oz cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup vegan or regular mayonaise
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

How to make it

  1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the mayo and smash with a potato masher or a fork.  You will be very effective at this if you’ve had a long day at work or your kid is screaming in the background.
  2. Once the texture is to your liking, add in all the other ingredients, adjust the flavor as  needed, and you’re done.  See?  I told you it was easy.

Secret Mission Cauliflower Soup

 
The thing about veggies is that veggie haters assume they are all green, and therefore easily identifiable.  The thing about cheese is, it makes everything awesome.  So there you have it.  The Secret Mission that this soup is named after is “Mission: Get-Vegetable-Hater-to-Consume-a-Full-Day’s-Worth-of-Vitamin-C-Plus-Lots-of-Fiber-Folate-Calcium-and-Phytonutrients.”  Now that mission is important, as evidenced by the sheer number of syllables in its name.
 
If the blue cheese varieties are too strong, I think this would work quite well with just about any type of cheese.  I also think you could mix n’ match veggies (broccoli and carrots come to mind).  Be sure to let us know what you try!  Serve it up with some braised greens and bread (shown- and don’t bother making the veggie hater eat the greens.  You’ve got to pick your battles) for a well-rounded and fast dinner.
 
SECRET MISSION CAULIFLOWER SOUP – serves 8
 

Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 Make this soup a few days in advance and slowly heat it back up when you are ready to eat it.  Some folks don’t like freezing dairy based soups but I find they freeze just fine.  Be sure to freeze it from room temperature and re-heat slowly, stirring often.
 
Ingredients
    • 3 Tbs butter or olive oil
    • 2 onions, chopped
    •  4 celery stalks, chopped
    • 4 cups cauliflower, roughly chopped
    • 4 cups veggie broth
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 oz (2/3 cup) cheese from the blue family (Stilton, Gorgonzola, etc.)
    • 1 cup cream
    • salt and pepper to taste

How to make it

    1. Melt butter in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
    2. Add onion, celery and cauliflower and cook about 10 minutes
    3. Add broth, reduce heat  and simmer until cauliflower is very soft- about half an hour
    4. Stir in 2 cups of the milk and use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender to puree the soup (be very careful as hot liquids can explode in the blender!).
    5. Return to pot, add cheese, cream, salt, and pepper.

Sesame Ginger Bok Choy with Tofu

 

When researching interesting facts about bok choy (which, incidentally, is a member of the cabbage family), I learned that in Chinese medicine bok choy is considered to have a cold energy, and it should always be served with something with a hot energy- such as ginger.  Well, I don’t know about the medicinal effects of this meal, but I do know it looks darn pretty and tastes fantastic.
 
Bok Choy has all the benefits of a leafy green- calcium, magnesium, Vitamins A, C, Folate.  Ginger tastes fantastic and is great for digestion.  Indian traditional medicine believes sesame oil to be calming.  So basically what I’m telling you is that this dish will make you feel GOOD.
 
If you aren’t familiar with the technique of pressing tofu, it is worth doing so before cooking this dish.  It allows it to absorb all the flavors better.  And fry the tofu low and slow- that’s the secret to getting a good texture out of it like they do in restaurants. 
 
 
 SESAME GINGER BOK CHOY WITH TOFU- serves 4 

 

Make Ahead and Make it Easy

If you do a little bit of prep work a few days beforehand, this turns out to be an amazingly easy and impressive recipe to throw together in about 10 minutes (plus cooking the rice- if you don’t have a rice cooker then get one!).
 
First, press the tofu and cook it up good and crispy on your “prep day,” or when the kids are napping, or when you are enjoying a glass of wine after dinner the night before.  Once it is nice and golden store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
 
You should also wash and chop the bok choy.  BAM.  You are a cooking machine!
 
Then make the sauce but do not add the cornstarch until right before you use it, or it will get jelly-like.  Store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge.  I always put the box of cornstarch on top of the sauce in the fridge so I dont forget to whisk it in before use.
 
Finally, making rice in big batches ahead of time is a swell idea because rice freezes well.  To re-heat it just pop it in an airtight container with a bit of water and nuke it.
 
Ingredients
 
 
  • 1 lb firm tofu pressed, dried, and cut into your favorite shape (I like triangles.  They taste sooo good)
  • 2 Tbs high heat oil (peanut or grapeseed)
  • 4 Tbs ginger, chopped (I cheat and buy chopped ginger in a jar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb bok choy, leaves and stems washed and chopped (chop off the stubby end but the stems are great)
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • 2 tsp Sherry or rice-wine
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • steamed rice

How to make it

  1. Heat 1 Tbs of oil in a large skillet and add the tofu.  Cook on medium heat until golden underneah- about 10 minutes.  Then flip it and repeat.  Its best not to stir too much or it’ll get crumbly.  Remove tofu and set aside.
  2. While tofu is cooking, whisk together broth, sherry, soy sauce, sugar , salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil . Add ginger and garlic and stir for 5 seconds. Add bok choy and stir until leaves begin to wilt- justt a minute or two.
  4.  Pour the sauce over the bok choy and cook for about another minute.
  5. Add the tofu and let it get warm.
  6.  Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve over rice topped with sesame seeds  

Adapted from Gourmet; December 2004

“Choose Your Own Adventure” Granola

 

“Breakfast cereals rank third in the list of grocery store items on which Americans spend their money, behind only carbonated beverages and milk…” The Breakfast Cereal Gourmet
 
We all know how expensive breakfast cereals are at the store.  And we all know how much added sugar many of them contain.  But with just one recipe you can turn your nose up to the cereal industry, have endless breakfast possibilities, and continue down the path to good health that you and your family deserve.
 
This recipe, as the name implies, is flexible.  Add what you like, mix n’ match, and come up with your own fancy pants varieties at a fraction of the price of grocery granola.  It’s a great one to make with kids because it allows them to “choose their own adventure” and an empowered kid is a happy kid.
 
The foundation is rolled oats- which have been proven to reduce cholesterol, ward off breast cancer (due to high fiber content), and even reduce childhood asthma symptoms!  One cup of oats has more protein that most veggie burgers AND it is tolerated by many gluten-free friends!
 
 
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE GRANOLA – 8 cups 

Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 If stored in an air tight container this granola will last for a week or more- in the fridge it will stay fresh for- well, I don’t know how long, but long enough for you to finish it all!
 
Ingredients 
  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups unsalted nuts or seeds in any combination: sliced almonds, cashews, walnuts, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut (if you can’t find unsweetened just lower the sweetener amount later by a few Tbs)
  • OPTIONAL: 1 tsp cinnamon
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp additional spice: nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger, etc.)
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup heathy adder: wheat germ, ground flax-seed
  • 1/2 cup honey, agave, brown rice syrup or maple syrup
  • 1-3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • OPTIONAL 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup neutral tasting oil (I use corn but I think coconut would be yummy)
  • 1 cup your favorite dried fruit or other sweet treat that doesn’t like the oven: blueberries, yogurt-raisins, cranberries, raisins, cherries, M&Ms (trail mix, anyone?) apples, candied ginger, pineapple, apricots, you name it!

How to make it

  1. Heat oven to 300F.
  2. In a large jellyroll pan (or roasting pan- anything with an edge to prevent spillage) combine oats, nuts, coconut, spices, and healthy adder if using.
  3. In a small saucepan heat syrup, vanilla, salt, sugar, and oil over medium heat until dissolved.
  4. Pour mixture over oats and stir.
  5. Bake the granola, stirring every 10-15 minutes for 40-60 minutes until it’s as golden brown as you like.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in the dried fruit.  Allow to cool before storing.

“Get Your Kids to Eat Spinach” Fritters

 

For those of you who grew up eating spinach out of a frozen box (or worse, out of a can), I am sorry.  And if you have not yet discovered that spinach can be good, I am really sorry.  Or maybe you are just looking for a way to get your little rugrats to ingest something green.
 
 
 
I got a variation of this recipe from my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farmers and altered it a bit.  The basic idea was the same (lots and lots of iron, calcium, and vitamins from the spinach and protein from the egg) but I added walnuts for Omega 3s and copper (who’d have thunk!?).
 
 
If your kids wont eat them, give ’em a side of ketchup.  Any kid that wont eat food served with ketchup should probably have their head examined.
 
 
 “GET YOUR KIDS TO EAT SPINACH” FRITTERS- serves 2 

 

Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 These do take a bit of time since you’ll need to cook them up in batches.  But they are easy and require very few dishes- just a food processor, a pan, and a spatula.  They are great at room temperature so I make them early and serve as an appetizer, or pack them up as lunch (yes, with ketchup) for the little one to take to school.  Me? I like them served straight up with a sprinkle of coarse salt.
 
After eating a few of these babies you can veg out all day and do nothing- guilt-free.  That’s how healthy they are.
 
Ingredients
  • 3/4   cup breadcrumbs, more as needed
  • 4 cups spinach
  • 4  scallions, chopped or 3 Tbs onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • oil

How to make it

  1. Place the breadcrumbs and scallions or onions in the food processor and pulse until well mixed.
  2. While the processor is running, alternate between adding a couple handfuls of spinach and an egg untill all the spinach and eggs are used up.  You may need to stop and stir a couple of times- it can take a while for all the spinach to get really well blended up.
  3. Add walnuts and salt while food processor is running.  When the mixture is very thick and sticky you are ready to go.  If it is runny at all add more breadcrumbs.
  4. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over LOW heat.
  5. The mixture will be very sticky and will not form nice balls or patties.  Roll it into golf-ball sized amoebas and throw enough in the skillet to leave 2 inches between them
  6. When fritters are brown underneath, flip ’em over, and press down with your spatula.  That’ll give you that nice “I know how to make a patty” shape.  Cook until brown on both sides.
  

Peanuts- Not Just For Elephants and Baseball Anymore: West African Peanut Stew

 

For those of us lucky enough to be born without a deadly allergy to these crunchy legumes, peanuts are relatively underused in cooking considering all of their health benefits.  They are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, are good sources of vitamin E, niacin, folate, protein and manganese. Studies have found peanuts high in antioxidants, and they are helpful in fighting various forms of cancer and Alzheimer’s too.  My two-year old knows best:  peanuts (well, PB&J) are awesome! 
 
The peanuts are just the beginning of this so-rich-you’ll-never-believe-it’s-vegan stew!  Its packed with vitamins A and C too, thanks to the sweet potatoes and red bell pepper.  The chickpeas add an extra shot of protein and fiber.
 
If you have access to a great spice shop, pick up some Zanzibar Curry Powder (yes, I am aware that Zanzibar is not in West Africa) to make this stew really pop.  If you don’t have access, use what you’ve got and start with a little and keep adding until it’s the right spice level for you.
 
This makes enough to freeze half for later.
 
WEST AFRICAN PEANUT STEW – serves 8
 

Make Ahead and Make it Easy

 Depending on how busy you are, you can make this entire dish a few days ahead and freeze or refrigerate  it,  and gently reheat it.  Or, you can do all of the prep work (peeling and chopping) and put the onions in an airtight container with the bell peppers, and use a separate container to store the prepped sweet potato, tomatoes, chickpeas, peanut butter, and curry.  That way all you’ll need to do is thow everything in a pot and wait.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs peanut oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 14 oz. cans chickpeas, drained
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • How to make it
  1. Saute the onion and bell pepper in peanut oil until onion begins to soften- about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and saute about 30 seconds.  Be careful not to burn the garlic!
  3. Add sweet potato, tomatoes, chickpeas, stock or water, peanut butter, curry, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  4. Simmer uncovered until sweet potatoes are soft- 30-45 minutes.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk and serve.