Easiest BBQ Tofu Ever!

This is one of those fool-proof recipes that’s so easy to make and adults and kids both seem to love it! The two things that will ensure success are to press as much moisture out of the tofu that you can, and to use a good-quality store-bought BBQ sauce (i.e. no high fructose corn syrup or additives/preservatives). Stubb’s and Nature’s Promise are both good (as well as others). As far as the tofu goes, I usually buy Nasoya or Nature’s Promise Extra-Firm Tofu. The nice thing about this recipe is that you don’t need to marinate the tofu ahead of time. It absorbs the sauce as it simmers!

HCV_BBQTofu - 1 (1)1 block extra-firm tofu (the type that comes in water in a plastic tub)
1/2-1 Tblsp oil (or cooking spray)

Sauce:
1/4 cup veggie broth
3 Tblsp BBQ sauce
2 Tblsp teriyaki or soy sauce
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

Mix sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup and set aside.

HCV_BBQTofu - 1 (6)Press as much moisture from tofu as you can. You can place a dish and weight on top (and wait until water drain out) or try my quick-press method.

Here’s what I do:
Remove tofu from tub and rinse. Slice into appox 8 slices (1/4-1/2″ thick)
Pick up half the slices at a time and press/squeeze together over sink. Press firmly on both sides without crushing the slices too much. You can remove a lot of moisture this way by applying even pressure.

HCV_BBQTofu - 1Okay, time to saute tofu:
First cut tofu slices into cubes or triangles.
Add a little oil or cooking spray to a skillet (I use ceramic non-stick).
When pan is hot, carefully add tofu.
Cook on med heat for about 5 min or until it starts to lightly brown.
Flip pieces of tofu and brown on other side.
Pour in sauce and let simmer about 15 min.
(The sauce will seem thin at first, but it will reduce and thicken up as it simmers!)
You can also add a little more broth/water if needed.

This tofu is great served over rice or with mashed potatoes!

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

Let me first say that my goal when making a dessert is to try to make something delicious that’s relatively healthy, and doesn’t contain a lot of unhealthy fat and sugar. I think this satisfies that criteria!

Every spring, I look forward to getting rhubarb in my CSA shares because I love to make strawberry-rhubarb crumble with it! The tartness of the rhubarb and sweetness of the strawberries balance each other and are a perfect match. I only add a little sugar to the fruit filling because I like the tartness of the rhubarb. Plus the crumbled topping has some brown sugar in it as well. You can adjust the sweetness level to your liking! (This dish can also easily be made gluten-free. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand for GF rolled oats and 1-for-1 GF flour)
P.S. This dessert can be made with any combo of fruit… I’ve made it with apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, etc. It’s best to use whatever fruit is in season!

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Filling:
2 cups rhubarb, peeled and diced small
2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
1 Tblsp sugar
1 Tblsp flour

 

Crumble topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flourHCV_StrawberryRhubarbCrumble - 1 (7)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 Tblsp vegan margarine, melted

 

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Spray 8″x8″ or 9″x9″ pan with cooking sprayHCV_StrawberryRhubarbCrumble - 1 (8)

 

Toss rhubarb and strawberries with sugar and flour in a mixing bowl and set aside.

To make crumble topping, mix rolled oats, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir in melted margarine gently until well-combined.

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Place fruit mixture in bottom of pan.
Place crumble topping evenly over the top of the fruit.
Bake for 35 min (plus a few min under the broiler to brown top)

 

 

Serve warm or cold!
It’s delicious on its own or with some dairy-free vanilla ice cream!

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Fresh Pesto

Pesto is one of those things that I always forget that I love! Its flavor is intense and a little goes a long way. It can be simply tossed with pasta or added to other dishes as an accompaniment. Sometimes I’ll serve it alongside a simple red sauce, or if I’m feeling really ambitious, I’ll add it to a baked pasta or lasagna dish. You may not always have basil and pine nuts on hand, but luckily you can get them at most grocery stores. If you want to substitute for the pine nuts, cashews or walnuts will work well too. If you want to add a little cheesi-ness, you can also add a little nutritional yeast. Pesto is also great on grilled veggies, pizza or baked tofu!
(This recipe makes about 1 cup of pesto. You can also freeze it!)

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Ingredients:
2 cups basil leaves, washed and rough chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic
3 Tblsp olive oil
Salt

 

 

Before getting started making the pesto, lightly toast the pine nuts. Heat a dry skillet, add pine nuts and toast for a few minutes. Move pine nuts around occasionally to toast all sides. This step really makes a difference. It brings out a nice toasted, nutty flavor and some of the oils in the pine nuts!

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Now you’re ready to add the ingredients to the food processor (or blender). Add basil, pine nuts, lemon juice. garlic cloves and salt, and blend/puree. Next, slowly add oil until mixture is well-blended and becomes creamy. Taste and adjust salt if necessary and blend a few seconds more!

 

Toss with hot pasta and serve!
Sprinkle with fresh herbs or nutritional yeast if desired!

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The Beauty of the Local CSA

This is my third year joining a local, organic CSA! If you’re not familiar with CSA’s (community supported agriculture), it’s something that you might want to investigate. You basically join for a season, pay for your “share” up front, and then each week, you receive a beautiful box of local vegetables and/or fruit! My CSA is Lancaster Farm Fresh, which services many areas in the Mid-Atlantic East Coast!

My CSA 26-week spring/summer season started last week, and here’s what I got in my first box (cucumbers, kale, radishes, rhubarb, onions, chard, arugula):

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Here are some reasons why I love my CSA:

  1. Everything is local and organic. ‘Nuf said… you had me at “local and organic”, but there are even more reasons!
  2. I believe that we should be eating many of our vegetables and fruits when they’re in season where we live.
  3. The vegetables and fruits are picked when they’re ripe at the peak of their season. This is possible since they are being transported locally in the same week. The nutrient content is at its peak and the taste is fantastic because of this!
  4. It’s affordable – only a little over $20 for approx seven vegetables each week.
  5. It forces you to try new things you otherwise might not try! You might surprise yourself when you realize you like things you thought you didn’t like. You will also get a chance to see an assortment of different varieties of fruits and vegetables that you wont see anywhere else!
  6. It’s exciting to see how the contents of the box change week to week.
  7. We support our local farmers! This is so important these days, when so muxch agriculture is being taken over by corporate farming.
  8. P.S. All of the photos below were from my CSA shares last season!

 

1_ - 1 (95)Here are some other important things to know about CSA’s. Some CSA’s don’t offer a choice in what items you get every week. Although my CSA is like this, when I pick up my share, there is a “swap box” where I can trade one item for something else. Also, some CSA’s actually let you go online each week and choose item that you would like each week.

 

1_ - 1 (93)If you think that a share is too much for you to use up, I know people who share a “share” with someone else! Since I cook a lot, it’s not usually a problem from me to use all of my items, but obviously, you don’t want to feel like you are wasting food, so sharing is a great idea for some people!

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You can search online for a CSA in your area. My CSA has a drop-off point a few minutes from where I live. Each CSA website will list where their drop-off sites are, or if it is a small farm in your area, you might go directly to the farm to pickup your share.

This link might help your search too: Local Harvest

If you’ve been on the fence about CSA’s, I encourage you to give it a try! Most CSA’s are still offering shares and will prorate the price for you if you’ve already missed a week or two. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

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Avocado Toast

I have to admit I’m a complete “avocado toast” convert! Once I discovered avocado toast, it became my go-to breakfast just about every day. It’s a pretty basic concept… a piece of toast with some mashed avocado on top and maybe a little sea salt. It’s so filling and satisfying and super-easy (assuming that you have ripe avocados on hand).

Here are a few tips when buying and storing avocados:
– Try to choose avocados that are somewhat soft to the feel (not mushy and not rock-hard)
Keep at room temperature on a counter at home for a few days (I keep mine in my fruit bowl) until they are nice and ripe, but not mushy. (If they are near other ripe fruit, like bananas, they will ripen even faster)
Store ripe avocados in the fridge. This will stop the ripening process and you have a much longer window of time to use them.
– Once you cut into an avocado, you can store the remainder of the avocado in the fridge as long as the pit is intact. One avocado might make two or three servings of avocado toast and you can just keep storing it in the fridge for two or three days.

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Four easy steps!HCV_AvocadoToast - 1
1. Make toast (Any type of bread will do!)
2. Slice some avocado and lay on toast (I just cut a large wedge, peel off skin and slice)
3. Mash avocado slices with a fork
4. Sprinkle with a little salt and add toppings if desired

 

 

HCV_AvocadoToast - 1 (3)Recently, I saw an online post depicting many beautiful variations of avocado toast and toppings, so I decided to start jazzing up my own avocado toast! I’ve been experimenting with many different toppings lately, especially since a lot of beautiful produce is coming into season! Here are some recent variations I’ve made. (clockwise)
– Arugula and chopped tomato
– Cucumber, radish and parsley
– Heirloom tomato and cilantro
– Strawberries and mint

Get creative and enjoy!

White Bean, Mushroom & Kale Soup

I was trying to come up with a soup with bold, deep flavors, and this fits the bill! The combination of the white beans, mushrooms and kale lends a rustic earthiness to this soup. Plus this soup is loaded with protein, B vitamins and minerals. I used a wild rice blend in my version, but any grain (like white rice, brown rice or barley) can be substituted. Also, you can add any dried herbs that you like… Italian herbs, parsley, thyme, sage, etc instead. This recipe serves four, but can be easily doubled!

HCV_WhiteBeanAndKaleSoup - 1 (1)2 cups veggie broth + 2 cups water
2 cups cremini (babybella) mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
2 cups kale, tough stems removed, and chopped
1 can navy beans (or cannellini beans)
1/2 cup wild rice blend (or white/brown rice, or barley)
2 Tblsp tamari or soy sauce
Onion powder, garlic powder, powdered ginger
Dried herbs

HCV_WhiteBeanAndKaleSoup - 1 (2)Saute mushrooms in 1 Tblsp olive oil or vegan margarine.
Saute 5 -10 min.

Start cooking rice (or any other grain you like) according to directions.

In soup pot, add broth, water and tamari/soy sauce.
Bring to boil.
Add chopped kale.
Add navy beans.
Add sauteed mushrooms.
Add spices and herbs.
HCV_WhiteBeanAndKaleSoup - 1 (3)Simmer 10-12 min until kale is tender
Add cooked rice and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Simmer a few more min.

 

Enjoy!

This soup is great served with a green salad and some crusty bread!

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