S.M.A.R.T : Tacos Week (Faylina’s Vegan Tacos)

So for this weeks SMART meal we were given the topic of tacos. YAY! I love eating tacos, they’re a great way to full up on healthy carbs and tons of fresh vegetables. Although these aren’t my typical tacos, I found they were still super tasty and amazing.
Best of all, this WHOLE meal (including the leftovers) only cost me… you ready for it?…: $11.00! Sure that seems like a lot, but you must figure I’ll get probably 6 meals out of this for my husband and myself so that breaks down to only $1.83 per meal. Not bad at all.
I used:
A homemade multi-grain flour tortilla – click HERE for my recipe
homemade re-fried pinto beans
romaine lettuce
green bell pepper
spring onions
guacamole
medium spicy salsa

For two of these tacos I calculated 1220 calories. That may seem like alot however I skipped lunch, oops!

How could I have improved them? Well, nothing beats fresh tomatoes on a taco, unfortunately since its the end of the month I already ate most of my produce, and what was left (2 romas) went bad to the point I couldn’t trim the bad bits so we had to toss them. Never-fear, this is why I keep salsa in the fridge. I also really like olives on my tacos, I’m not sure why It was just something I was raised with. I know that’s not traditional, but I still like them. I think next time I have tacos I’ll get some from the olive bar at Whole Foods. All in all, this meal was freaking amazing. I was so full after two tacos and the cron-o-meter showed I received almost 100% of my vitamins and minerals. Oh yeah, talk about healthy and delicious!

Better yet, I had left-overs for my husband’s lunch. I packaged the vegetables and salsa in a seperate container than the tortilla shells and pinto beans. That way he can warm up the beans without cooking the veggies, and the shells stay fresh and not soggy.
Don’t know what smart is? Click HERE for my explanation of it.

Homemade Peanut Butter


Homemade Peanut Butter
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 16 tablespoons
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces peanuts dry roasted (unsalted is better, if you cannot find unsalted see notes**)
  • 1 teaspoon good quality olive oil or grape-seed oil
  • 1 pinch salt (see note*)
  • *Optionally* you can add 1 tablespoon sugar for sweetened peanut butter
Equipment:
  • You will need either a decent quality food processor or a high powered blender. Vitamix or Blendtec blenders are perfect for this! If you use a processor, make sure you scrap the sides down often.
Instructions
  1. Place 16 ounces of roasted peanut into your blender (or food processor). If using a vitamix, you will need the tamper otherwise you will need a spatula to scrape down the sides. Add a pinch of salt if you're using unsalted peanuts. Process on high while tamping down the peanuts, OR blend on high until you notice the peanuts "climbing" up the sides of the container, then stop the blender (or food processor) and scrape the sides down and repeat. When you're almost to your desired smoothness, add the oil and any optional sweetener. Continue to blend, repeating the scraping process until you reach your desired texture.
  2. Scrape your peanut butter into a container, I suggest glass. Place a tight fitting lid on and you're done! Homemade peanut butter will last 2 or so weeks in the fridge, however this stuff is so good, I doubt you'll make it that long!
Notes
Note: if you're using salted peanuts or do not want any salt in your peanut butter, omit the extra salt!

If you cannot find unsalted dry roasted peanuts, don't worry! You can wash half the peanuts in warm water and let air dry on a tray or cotton cloth overnight at room temperature, or in an oven at 300 for 15-30 minutes. Why should you do this? Because using salted peanuts will make the peanut butter WAY too salty. Not only will it tasted weird, we shouldn't eat all that sodium.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 tablespoon (28g) Calories: 165 Fat: 14 Saturated fat: 2 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 6 Sugar: 1 Sodium: 12 Fiber: 2 Protein: 7 Cholesterol: 0
 

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! ūüėČ

**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)

Homemade Tofu – vegan friendly

 

You guys asked for it, so here it is. This is my how to made Tofu, homemade from scratch!

Tofu is probably one of the easiest things I make, you will seriously be shocked at how simple this is, not to mention cost effective. It requires 2 piece of “special” equipment. Cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or a cut up flour sack and a tofu press. You can get the ” old fashioned” small plastic types, they’re about 10-20 dollars on the internet and thats what I used for many years or you can buy what I’m using, its called the Tofu-Xpress (not a sponsered ad but if you guys are reading this, we could work something out LOL), I like this because it does the “hard” work for me, plus it cuts the pressing time ¬†by over half.

Ingredients:

6 cups of FRESH HOT soymilk, plain
2.5g magnesium chloride, gypsum, nigari, or epsom salt

Tofu press
cheesecloth or the like
Weights** if not using spring press**
glass container to set tofu in & plate to fit ontop

Directions:

The first thing you need to do is brew up a fresh batch of soymilk. Its very important that it be plain soymilk (water and soybeans nothing else!) aswell as HOT. If you just got done using a soymilk machine it will be hot enough, otherwise somewhere around 180 degrees farighheit is about right.

Strain your milk of its pulp, don’t throw the pulp out there, save it and we’ll make stuff with it later, its called Okara and its tasty stuff!

Add your coagulator. This can either be sodium choloride (like what I used) , nigari, gypsum, or epsom salt. If using epsom salt dissolve it completely in 2 tablespoons of nearly boiling water. This your coagulator in quickly, give it no more than 5 quick stirs and set a lid ontop of the container.

Let it sit anywhere from 20-30 minutes to firm up. If using epsom salt you might require up to 60 minutes, it just depends. You want your soymilk to seperate into “curds and whey” the curds being what gets pressed into tofu, and the whey meaning the yellowish liquid you can discard when you’re done, or some people water their plants with it (I personally don’t advise this as I killed a house plant doing this once.. too much salt)

After your milk has seperated, remove the plate, and ready your mold. Line your tofu mold with a piece of cheesecloth thats atleast 2 inches wider than the mold is high on all sides, this is a good estimate for size. You want to make sure you have enough cloth or you’ll spill the curd and waste a batch of unpressed tofu. Gently scoop the soymilk pudding into your mold until its full. If you can’t fit it all in at once thats fine, just press out some of the liquid, drain, and keep filling the mold until its full of curd. Pay attention to how you fold your cloth, fold the two long sides down first, then the two short and make sure to reverse the order correctly, this help with less curd sticking to the cloth (less waste). This took me 3 batches, however yours will vary. ¬†After you’ve got all the curd in, set your tofu up for the final press.

Depending on the type of press you’re using, you’ll either let its spring push against the tofu or you’ll need to place weights ontop, usually 5-10lbs of weight is good enough. Now you’ll need to let this set at room temp until it reaches your desired firmness. I like mine firm so I let mine press for about 30 minutes in my press (a non-spring press is about 2-3 hours) ¬†however you will need to adjust it. If you want silken tofu you’ll want to press for maybe 10-30 minutes and put in the fridge.

Once your tofu is done pressing, remove it from the mold and admire its beauty. Once done admiring, put your block of tofu into a container and cover with cold water, and store in fridge. ¬†Fresh tofu will last anywhere from 7-21 days. Most people would say 7 is the max however I’ve had mine store MUCH longer.

Makes : ABOUT 7 ounce block of extra firm tofu, results will vary. Preparation:  30-60 minutes + Press time

Dietary notes: vegan friendly, gluten free, high protein, low calorie, does contain soy (obviously)