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Tofu Banh Mi

Tofu Banh Mi

I love a good banh mi sandwich. And there are plenty of places to get one in Philadelphia. Each, I enjoy for different reasons, and each I’ve taken away elements for designing my own.

Tofu Banh Mi

The key to a memorable vegetarian version isn’t complicated. You need flavorful tofu — i.e., a marinade before it hits the pan. A sauce or spread to lather the bun. And quality, crusty bread. Pickled veggies are an essential, too, but that can go pretty much unsaid.

Tofu Banh Mi

I’ve given my best attempt to take all of this and wrap it into my own tofu banh mi recipe. It’s fun and incredibly easy to make your own picked daikon, and I’d recommend giving it a try. Feel free to throw some other veggies into the brine, too, like jalapeños or carrots. Also, be generous with the curry mayo spread on your bread. It’ll add that hint of creaminess that goes so well with the fresh veg.

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Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette

Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette

Sorry, no Super Bowl recipes here. Although, depending on your crowd, I bet you could show up with this and it’d get eaten. Or maybe not. But then lucky for you, you’d have a hell of a Monday lunch already made. Touchdown.

Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette

Put anything with a label next to it that says Ginger Curry Lime Vinaigrette, and I’d jump on that faster than any football player moves on the field.

Speaking of fast, did you know the actual time the ball is in play, on average, during a game is 11 minutes? This leaves 174 minutes for everything else. Like walking away from the TV and eating quinoa, yeah?

Winter Squash & Quinoa with Curry Lime Vinaigrette

I’m not football-obsessed. And when the Eagles aren’t in the running, this becomes even more blatant. It reaches the point where I don’t even realize the Super Bowl is  airing until the Tuesday beforehand. So forget planning any game day snacks on Food-Fitness-FreshAir and pretending I’m a fan. In actuality, I’m not really a fan of most Super Bowl snacks, anyway. I’d much rather have a huge bowl of this winter squash and quinoa in front of me. Although, these Cauliflower “Wings” do have me eyeing (and Pinning!) them.

I would love to hear what you’re cooking up this weekend, Super Bowl related or not. Hit me with a curveball so I can get behind all the party food, please.

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Arugula, Apple and Tempeh Bacon Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

Arugula, Apple and Tempeh Bacon Sandwich

Most times of the year, when I go to the grocery store, 75% of my basket is filled with fruit and vedge. However, lately I’ve been swimming in honeycrisps and butternuts and greens from the farmer’s market where I work. My grocery trips have been minimized, and my produce budget even more so.

Now when I go to the store, I end up with a basket that looks nothing like myself.

tempeh_apple (3 of 3)

I am a people-watcher. I love the art of observing others. So when going stir-crazy in the Whole Foods check-out line, I’m watching. I’m analyzing what the people in front of me plan to make for dinner. I’m picking out recipes for them in my mind, and I’m judging — er, I mean guessing — their lifestyle and personality traits. All from the items cruising their way to the cash register.

I, of course, am also seeking out my future husband. I’m scanning the lines in search of the handsome guy who’s buying figs and sweet potatoes, brazil nuts and oatmeal, and ingredients you can actually cook with. If you need to find me, I’ll be in that line. And hopefully exiting it with dinner plans. Just kidding.

Lately, however, trips to the grocery store have been scarce, and the farmer’s market is my new best friend. From it, I was able to pick up the fresh fall arugula and apples that compose this meal. Complimented by the rich flavors of caramelized onion, curry and parsley, this creates a surprising and satisfying sandwich. I love adding a sweet crunch in unexpected places, and here the apples carry this out beautifully. Choose your favorite eating variety, and make sure to thinly slice.

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BBQ Sriracha Tempeh with Black Rice

BBQ Tempeh

When I’m craving meat, I often turn to tempeh. It’s dense, but not dry, with a heartiness that won’t leave your stomach empty. And there’s no antibiotics or hormones ever needed to get it that way. Amen.

As a vegetarian, I’ve found my  “craving for meat”, is often actually a hunger for the sauces and marinades that go with it. I could care less about BBQ ribs. Wanting them on my plate is like saying I’d want Mountain Dew in my cup for breakfast. Gross.

So tempeh works for me (and seitan), especially when there’s BBQ involved. The summer nostalgia of BBQ is what I really want, not the meat on the grill that it often coats. I want the slightly sweet but tangy sauciness, grass on my bare feet, and a cup of mint tea or cold IPA in my hands.

If you want all that too, well, we might make a good fit. But seriously, even if you love a smoky brisket or BBQ pulled pork sandwich, this Srirarcha Tempeh recipe could likely make its way to the top of your summer eating list, too. Especially with all the comforts of a warm spring or summer day.

I’ve kept the sauce for this on the not-so-sweet side because I’m not a huge fan of a super sugary BBQ. I’d rather save that sweetness for dessert. However, if BBQ’s your summer sweetheart, simply add an extra spoonful of honey to the mix. The spiciness and color from the Sriracha lends itself well to a nutty, black rice. However, feel free to put this on bread, lather it with slaw, and call it a meal. A good one at that.

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Skillet Soba, Baked Tofu and Green Bean Salad With Spicy Dressing

Soba with Tofu

This one’s for the tofu lovers. And the tofu haters. A gingery marinade and bake in the oven yields tofu that’s anything but slimy and bland. Perfectly crisped on the edges, this flavorful rendition serves as a great introduction to the ingredient.

I picked this recipe up off of the New York Times Recipes for Health column, which as I’ve expressed before, generally churns out tons of great ideas. It’d been awhile since I made a sesame soba noodle dish, so I decided to give this one a go.

Every time I eat soba noodles, I’m pretty sure I decide that I like them better than traditional Italian pasta. They are extra nutty from the buckwheat in which they’re derived, and have this chewy texture that won’t ache your jaw like an al dente pasta might do. Soba is also unusually smooth on the outside and lends itself well to both cold and hot dishes. For instance, I enjoyed this recipe under both circumstances.

While I’m on this PR pitch for soba noodles, let me also mention the variety is also lower in calories and carbs than traditional wheat pastas, and contains a lower glycemic index. This means your blood sugar is less likely to spike than with wheat pasta (particularly non-whole wheat varieties). Blood sugar spikes ensue energy crashes, the food hangovers we’d all like to avoid.

So have I sold you yet? Do you want to make your own soba noodles and crispy tofu? This New York Times recipe is another winner. For an extra satisfying punch, I recommend topping your plate with a drizzle of sesame tahini and Sriracha if you enjoy some heat.

Soba Noodles

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