Quinoa with taco like Seasoning – ShayLoss inspired!

So I was watching my Youtube subscriptions today and there was a new video from ShayLoss. For those who have never seen his videos, its a channel of this guy named Shay who used to be really obese and now hes lost a bunch of weight. He gives tips for healthy living and weight loss, etc. He is not a vegan, but he gives good advice. His video today was a recipe, click HERE for the video, but warned though its 23 minutes long. The gist of this video was a recipe for a quinoa salsa/taco filling sorta thing. It was good sounding, but you know me, I had to change it a bit. It tasted SO good I knew I had to share. So please try this. Everything you need for it is in season right now!

Ingredients:

2 cups white quinoa, rinsed VERY well
3 cups water
3 large tomatoes , diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 medium white onion, diced finely
1 bunch cilantro, minced
1 hot pepper (optional), minced and seeded
3 tablespoons garlic, minced finely
1-2 limes, juiced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed VERY well
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (no more than 20% sodium per tablespoon, less is better)
1 tablespoon cumin powder

Directions:

Start out by rinsing your quinoa very well. The easiest way to do this is use a large bowl and place the quinoa in it. Fill with very warm/hot water and use your hands to kinda squeeze the quinoa. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt it! Drain the water by slightly tipping the bowl, I do this over a fine mesh strainer in-case I spill some. Repeat this until the water is clean and the qunioa does not feel slimy or has lots of bubbles.

Bring your 3 cups of water to a boil in a larger sized pot with a lid. Add in your quinoa when the water is vigorously boiling. Stir well to ensure there are no clumps. Reduce the heat to a simmer (that’s a 2 or 3 on electric stoves). Cover with the lid and let cook for 5 minutes. Stir and recover. Let cook for 10 more minutes. Stir again making sure to scrap the bottom. If all your water has been absorbed, recover and turn off the heat and let set 10 minutes. If it still needs time to cook off the water, give it 5 more minutes. (after a total of 20 minutes, if you still have water left, you’ll need to strain it because you probably added too much, don’t worry its still fine!)

While your quinoa is resting for 10 minutes, prepare all your other ingredients. Keep in mind you want your veggies in smaller sized pieces. Core your tomatoes and dice them. Seed a bell pepper and finely dice. Mince a medium onion or thinly slice. Mince your garlic and wash in warm water to remove bitterness. Finely mince your cilantro, I choose not to use the stems since they are tough, but you can if you want. If you want a little extra flavor, add a FINELY minced chili pepper. I suggest removing the seeds, but if you want super spicy you can leave them in. I used a Fresno pepper, they’re red in color and have a nice spice and flavor. Open a can of chickpeas and rinse them very well, there should be no bubbles left and no slimy texture.

After your quinoa has rested, add all your prepared vegetables. Stir well and break up any clumps of quinoa. Now juice your limes into the mixture. I used a HUGE lime (it was the size of a lemon, no joking!) so I only needed one, however you might need two. Taste as you go and adjust the flavor. Stir well again.

In a small bowl, add your oils, soy sauce, and cumin powder. Whisk this together well and then add it into the quinoa. Stir VERY well. This is your sauce so you want to ensure you get it on all the pieces.

Try it now, if it needs more salt, add more soy sauce or use coarse salt. If it needs more tangyness, add more lime juice. Serve warm with tortillas or chip. OR Serve cold and mix with lettuce or cooked pasta for a new flavor.

I honestly have no clue how much this makes since I didn’t measure it, however I ended up with a large dutch oven full of it! I’m guessing around 10 cups. This is an amazing recipe and I think one that everyone should try, even if you’re not sure about the quinoa. If you cannot find quinoa for some reason I would suggest trying this with couscous if you can eat gluten or buckwheat groats if you cannot. The nutritional information is for quinoa and all the ingredients listed above. Serving size I gave was 100g, however in the picture above that is a small 5 inch plate with 312g on it. While it still does have fat added to it, its far less than the original recipe and honestly it adds to the flavor. I ate this with a little bit of chipotle salsa on-top. Enjoy! (and yes, as you can see this is a kitty approved recipe!)

Vegan Pizza – a must have!

Do you miss pizza because you either can’t find a decent vegan pizza or because you’re on a diet? Well no more my friends, this pizza is lower calorie than traditional pizza, lower in fat, and completely vegan! If you have gluten issues, please see my gluten free pizza recipe and use the crust, or use your own. This recipe is for 3 personal pan size or mini size pizzas. These will feed 3 grown people easily.

Ingredients:

1 whole recipe – Basic Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
1 whole recipe – Basic Marinara or Pizza Sauce
6 ounces nondairy cheese – I suggest Daiya half mozzarella half cheddar
your choice of toppings, I suggest:
1 bell pepper, sliced thin
1 tomato, sliced
spring onion, minced
vegan pepperoni sliced – Yves makes a great tasting brand at only 50 calories per 10 slices too!

Directions:

Preheat your oven with your pizza stone at 425 for at-least 15 minutes. If you’re not using a pizza stone, only preheat until your oven is hot.

Divide your pizza dough into 3 equal pieces, and roll to your desired thickness. I choose a medium-thin style crust that got real crispy when baked. Rub corn meal into the pizza crust and flip over. If you’re using my pizza crust recipe, there is no need to prebake, otherwise follow directions that come with your crust. Spread 1/3rd of your pizza sauce onto the dough. For a traditional look, leave a ring around the outside of the crust, otherwise spread the sauce to the edge to help with drying and add extra flavor. Now spread most of 2 ounces of daiya cheese on your pizza, I left just a little bit for the top of the pizza. Arrange your desired toppings on your pizza. As you can see in the photo, my personal pizza was half veggie pepperoni, and half tomato. Don’t be afraid to mix and match your desired toppings!

Assuming your oven is hot, transfer your pizza on the stone (or pan) and bake. Time will vary and I suggest you start checking on the color of your crust at 15 minutes. A deep golden color will tell you if its done or not:

thin crust: 15 minutes
“Medium” – thin crust: 18 minutes
thicker crust 20-25 minutes

Remove from the oven and cut into 4-6 pieces and enjoy. This recipe makes 3 mini size pizzas , although they aren’t that mini. If you make a pizza like the one shown above it will have about 540 calories. If you use different brands of cheese of faux meat products, calories will vary. Also keep in mind the typical pizza has almost 1000 calories in it. Enjoy!

Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Pizza (It’s what was for dinner!)

So I bought a new product the other day at Whole Foods; this vegan gluten free cheese called Daiya. I’ve seen many a vegan rave about this stuff claiming it tastes “EXACTLY” like real mozzarella cheese. Well I won’t go into huge detail about it (review coming soon!); however I will say its much better cooked than not. I started out making a crust which is hard to see since I like thin crust. Sauteing some soy chorizo, prepped all the veggies. Rolled out my crust on a silpat, flipped into a pan. Pre Baked at 375 for 6 minutes, and ladies and gentlemen the rest was history. Now, in my house I have 1 die hard meat eater, and my husband who is more of a flexitarian like myself, however, this pizza has my step son fooled it was meat and my husband shocked it was gluten free AND vegan. Best of all, my stomach didn’t freak out from the milk or the gluten and at the end of the day we were all happy people. The following is the recipe as close as I could guess (I freehand all my recipes) because originally, I didn’t plan to post this, but it was so amazing I couldn’t resist. Depending on your flour brand and climate you might need more water or more flour.

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 cups gluten free flour mix (I suggest using my recipe, click HERE , however any brand will work that’s made for dough)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 pinches salt
1 1/2 tablespoons oil ( I used grape-seed)
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
heavy pinch corn flour for dusting, optional

Pizza:
1 pre baked crust (listed above)
1 medium (or 3/4 Large) bell pepper, I used red
1 cup green onion tops
small handful cilantro leaves
1/2 can of black olives, drained and rinsed well
1 bag Daiya mozzarella flavor cheese shreds
1 tube Cacique soy-chorizo (or 8-10oz any vegetarian chorizo)
1-2 cups your favorite pasta sauce or see note below**

Directions:

I started with the chorizo. You’ll want to follow the directions on the package because they vary, but you want to cook it over medium to medium high until the color darkens and it gets crispy. You might have to go a few extra minutes. Great thing is, you can precook this an hour in advance or a few minutes like I did.

For the crust: In a food processor put your water, salt, yeast, sugar, and oil. Pulse until the yeast is blended in well and let set 5 minutes giving it time to “bloom”. We will not be letting this dough rise, however, blooming the yeast will give it the traditional taste of pizza crust without the hassle.

Once your yeast starts to bubble and look like a science experiment. Take 1 1/2 cups of flour and add it to your food processor. Turn it on and let it blend. Slowly add more flour until the mixture comes together and looks like dough. You might need 2 cups or 3 cups of flour, it just varies. If you add a bit too much, don’t worry you can always add a splash of water.

At this point, preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Get a silpat or a piece of parchment or wax paper and put it on your counter. Put your dough on the counter and roll it to your desired thickness. We went for thin crust which only needs to prebake for 6 minutes, however; if you want something thicker you’ll want to 2X or 1.5X this recipe and prebake it for 12 minutes. Optionally you can take a pinch of corn meal at this point and dust on-top of the dough all over, this will prevent sticking later. If you prefer you can use nonstick spray on the pan. A good tip for transferring the dough is to put the pizza pan ontop of the counter with the dough sheet, slide your hand under the paper (silpat) and center it. Now in a rather quick, but smooth motion, flip the pan right-side up while holding the dough in place. Carefully peel off the paper or silpat and its that simple. Prebake your pizza until the top starts to firm up.

While crust is prebaking, prepare the toppings. Cut up bell pepper into 1/4 inch pieces. Halve the black olives, slice the tops off green onions, finely mince cilantro leaves, take the cheese out of the fridge, get your pasta sauce (see note if you don’t have**), and let your chorizo warm up if pre-made.

Take out the crust; spread your sauce on. I don’t like a lot of sauce, but use more if you want. Add the bell pepper, half the green onions, cheese, chorizo, other half of green onion tops, black olives, and cilantro. Adding the toppings in that order ensures the veggies cook enough to be tender and the chorizo is still crisp.

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes depending on how well you want the crust and the toppings cooked. If your oven runs hot, starting checking at 15 minutes. When done you’ll have what I nicknamed the “Monster Pizza”. Over flowing with melted gooey cheese, “sausage”, lots of veggies and crazy amounts of flavor. You can’t tell its vegan, you can’t tell its gluten free, but you can tell its awesome, and kid approved! 😉

**Note: If you don’t have pre-made pasta sauce an easy substitute is to keep canned tomatoes on hand. I prefer any fire roasted canned tomato product. Take chopped roasted tomatoes, strain liquid, and pulse in food processor a few times to blend part of it up and then use that in-place of sauce. Its super simple and quick for those pizza emergencies. (this also works as a tasty quick pasta sauce!)

*Also: If you don’t happen to like the toppings I’ve chosen, feel free to change them. I was just using what I had in the fridge at the time.

PLEASE TAKE NOTE: If you are making this and/or cooking for someone with gluten allergies or celiacs disease. Make sure to purchase ingredients that are certified gluten free, and clean your utensils very well. Better safe than sorry.

TIME SAVING TIP: You ever tempted by those ready-bake pizzas you buy at the grocery store, well never again! Make the crust, prebake and let cool down. Top with all your toppings and shrink wrap and store in freezer. Pizza will keep for 3-6 months. To bake just add 5-10 extra minutes onto cooking time. Try making mini pizzas and let your kids top their own, fun for the whole family!

(Nutritional information assume you used the same ingredients and serving size is 1/8th)

Healthy Snack Idea – Bell Pepper Strips w/ Dressing

Have you ever wanted something sweet and salty to snack on? I had that craving tonight. Unfortunately, we usually go for the less healthy options. Here is what I came up with, and It was really good. This would be especially good in late spring when bell peppers are in season and extra sweet.

Ingredients:

2 medium sized bell peppers or 10 mini bell peppers
2 tablespoons of fat free Italian dressing
1/4 tablespoon vegan mayonaise or your favorite mayonaise
a few dashes of tobassco (I use chipotle flavor), amount is up to you

Directions:

Cut the bell peppers into strips. In a small bowl add dressing, mayo, and tobassco and mix until combined.

That’s it, super simple! Makes 1 serving in a few minutes. I suggest using different colors of bell pepper:
Red is the sweetest, followed by orange, then yellow, and finally green, purple, and white.
I used mini bell peppers which look like this:

Peanut Butter Chicken

Peanut butter chicken is another one of those dishes that everyone and their mother seems to have a recipe for. I, however, am not one of them! Everytime I’ve made this dish, I’ve  never wrote it down. Well, with website in mind, I wrote this down while cooking it! This probably isn’t traditional, or what you’re used to. However, this version is pretty healthy for you and in my own honest opinion, really flipping tasty! =D You can veganize this very easy by using vegan peanut butter, and tofu instead of chicken. (you could also use a chicken type faux meat product) With all that being said, lets get this recipe rollin!

Ingredients:

2 ounces chicken, sliced or minced
1 1/2 tablespoons carrot, minced
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon celery (optional, i just had some extra)
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1 red chili snapped in half (if you don’t have whole red chilies use approx heavy pinch chili flakes, or to taste)
1 – 2 teaspoons ginger grated, fiber & juice
1 tablespoon peas
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce (if you don’t have low sodium you could use 1 teaspoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon water to lessen the salt content)
2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup peanut sauce *****
extra peanuts for garnish (**optional**)

Rice or noodles to toss with your chicken mix

Directions:

Prepare all your vegetables, this will cook really quick (less than 5 minutes) so you don’t want to be chopping while attempting to cook.

Add your oil to a nonstick skillet and let it become pretty hot on medium flame. While oil is hot, add your garlic and onion to the pot. Stir fry this for 30 seconds then add the red chili and celery. Stir fry this for another 20 seconds, add the chicken pieces. Stir fry this another 30-45 seconds or until you see the outside cooked. (this quick cooking method works for really fine cooked chicken, i minced mine) Next, add the carrot, bell pepper, ginger, and peas. I cooked it for an additional minute, however you should cook it to your desired texture. Add your soy sauce, stir for 15 more seconds. When you’re done add the peanut sauce. Cook for 20 more seconds, stirring quickly.

Serve this on-top of fresh rice or toss with Chinese noodles like I did.

Makes 1 serving, Preparation time: >5 minutes, Cook time >5 minutes

Dietary Notes: Contains meat, moderate sodium content (those with sensitives should take caution), contains peanuts (this recipe COULD be made with cashews however), contains soy and possibly wheat. (check your soy sauce to see if it contains wheat, most do)

***Peanut sauce***
I will be posting this Peanut Sauce recipe separate, as its a great calorie buster, however! I figured I should post it here too. Essentially, you take a natural peanut butter. Natural meaning just peanuts ground into a butter, no additives or salts. Mix it with 3 times its amount in water. Add honey or another sweetener to your desired taste. I also add some ground psyllium husk to thicken it back up, but this is totally optional. This cuts the calories into a third of what it normally is, naturally!