Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Peanut-Coconut Rice Noodles with Edamame and Green Veggies

Hey everybody! I'm a vegetarian now! Well... not forever; the two week vegetarian challenge started yesterday. Isaac, Isabel, Annika and I are participating, and the rest of the team members are going to share recipes with us here and there. For the next two weeks, you'll be seeing vegetarian recipes and updates from everyone participating in the challenge. We've all been filling out meal logs every day to track our protein intake, progress and feelings, and we'll be sharing a few of those meal logs with you so you have a sense for how we're doing.

Today's recipe is an Asian-inspired rice noodle dish. I have wanted rice noodles with peanut sauce for such a long time, but unfortunately, my mom is pretty sensitive to peanuts, so I didn't have the chance to make it until yesterday. This dish actually has a decent amount of protein per serving (I estimate about 13g, but that wasn't too carefully calculated). That's not as much as 4 oz of meat, but if you eat other sources of protein during the day, you can get the amount you need. 46g for women and 56g for men are the recommended amounts of protein that you need each day. If you added tofu to this, the amount of protein would drastically increase. Enjoy this recipe!

Peanut-Coconut Rice Noodles with Edamame and Green Veggies
Serves 4 

1 (14 oz) pack of 5mm dry rice noodles 
1 pack of frozen edamame beans (with shells) 
1 tbsp sesame oil 
3 or 4 green onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
The zest of 1 lime 
1 tbsp Braggs liquid aminos (substitute soy sauce, hot sauce, or any other favorite Asian condiments) 
2 cups snap peas
3 cups pre-washed baby spinach  
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges 
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

For peanut sauce: 
3/4 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce 
1 tsp Braggs liquid aminos (optional) 
1 tsp sesame oil 
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 
3/4 cup - 1 cup lowfat coconut milk (from a can - not a dairy milk substitute!) 

1. Put the noodles in a large bowl. Try to not to snap them in half if you can. Boil about 4 - 6 cups of water and pour the water over the noodles. Stir every 2 minutes or so to ensure that the noodles don't stick to each other. Soak for about 10 - 15 minutes, testing the noodles frequently until they are tender and cooked through. Be careful about the noodles - if they sit for too long, they'll get mushy. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

2. While the noodles are soaking, combine all the peanut sauce ingredients. Use a whisk to ensure a smooth texture. The consistency should be very thin - not quite watery, but still very thin. Add more coconut milk or water if you want it thinner. If the sauce seems thinner than what you prefer, go with it! It will thicken when you stir it into the veggies later, and once it thickens, its consistency is perfect. 

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the frozen edamame. Wait for reboil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Pop the edamame out of their shells by pushing down the bean. Discard the shells and set the beans aside. 

4. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or 13-inch diameter non-stick pan. Any type of pan will do as long as its walls are fairly tall. Add the green onions, garlic, lime zest, and liquid aminos. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the snap peas and edamame, sauteing for about 3 minutes. Add the peanut sauce, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes, until the spinach is slightly wilted. Note: you probably won't need much salt because the sauce has soy sauce in it. Give it a taste and determine whether you need any salt at all. 

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the noodles and stir until completely coated in sauce and veggies. Serve in individual bowls. Top each serving with peanuts and cilantro, along with a lime wedge on the side so each person can squirt lime juice on their noodles. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed that recipe! Please share your recreations with me using #teenscancooktoo, and share all other vegetarian recipes that you love with me on Instagram and Twitter too! 

As I said before, the team has been updating each other with meal logs. I won't be sharing them all, but I'll be sharing the ones that are most interesting. Some will also be shared on Instagram and Facebook, so make sure you're staying up to date! This week, I'm sharing Isaac's meal log from day 1. Isaac has a really good idea of how to keep his meals balanced and healthy, and he has been most successful with getting enough protein. His dad has also experimented with lots of ways to eat (vegetarian, vegan, and more!), so he has a lot of knowledge about how a person makes a lifestyle change like this. Enjoy what he had to say!

Day 1:
Breakfast: Cheerios/oats with chocolate hemp milk
Lunch: Qdoba (Rice, beans, chips, salsa)
Dinner: Beans/Lentils with salad dressing, grilled zucchini and asparagus, quinoa
Snacks: Apple, banana, orange juice, vegan protein powder after waking up and before bed
Estimated Protein: 85g
Did you get enough fruits and vegetables today? yep!
What were some challenges you faced today? Trying to get enough protein in comparison to usual diet is difficult, I will need to take advantage of nuts, and maintain protein shake regiment.
Do you feel physically different? More tired, more energized, etc.? Nothing so far, a little hungry.
What is something that has been going really well for you? support from my family, Dad in specific because he is vegetarian/vegan, I don’t really miss eating meat so far
How can you make tomorrow better? We made a big batch of quinoa and beans/lentils tonight so I could use them as snacks for the rest of the week, which is good because they are high protein, and good substantial carbs.

Other Comments: My dad says the first “changes” happen within the first 3 days with a new diet, mentally and physically, which I have noticed when he has dabbled with new diets can drastically affect someone's mood/energy etc… I'm interested to see how or if I develop similar symptoms, especially during finals week, yay, we will certainly see.

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to follow us at all the social media sites below: 

Stay healthy!
- Madeline, Isaac, Annika and Isabel

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chipotle-Inspired Sofritas Bowl

Hey, everyone! Happy summer! I know most people are in school and that it's technically still springtime, but I am done with school, so I guess I can say it's summer. I'm so excited to have all this time to cook and get the team together to share fun recipes with you guys.

Everyone loves Chipotle, right? I mean, who doesn't? It's one of my favorite restaurants because it's tasty, fast, AND they are so careful about where their ingredients are coming from. I love that a place centered around bettering the food system has become so incredibly popular internationally. Unfortunately, I live 15 minutes away from the closest Chipotle. That means that I can't satisfy my Chipotle cravings 24/7. This recipe for Sofritas will teach you how to make a Chipotle-inspired vegetarian meal at home that will satisfy the whole family! This doesn't taste exactly like what you can order at Chipotle, but it's as close as I could get it with the resources I had. This recipe just includes the toppings I used, but you can always try making your own version of Chipotle's guacamole or salsa verde or whatever else you like in your order. 

Chipotle-Inspired Sofritas Bowl
Serves 4

2 (15 oz) cans black or pinto beans 
1 romaine heart, loosely chopped 
1/2 cup rBST-free shredded Mexican cheese blend 

Cilantro-lime rice: 
2 cups white rice (use brown rice if that's what you usually order) 
The juice of 2 limes 
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Corn salsa: 
2 small ears of corn, shucked and silk removed
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup tomato, finely diced
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
The juice of 3/4 of a lime 
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

2 (10 oz) packages extra-firm tofu 
1/4 cup chipotle in adobo sauce OR 1/4 cup chipotle salsa 
2 small poblano peppers OR 1 large green bell pepper with 1 jalapeño pepper 
1/2 tsp cumin
The zest of 1 lime 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
*I used the chipotle salsa, green bell pepper and jalapeño pepper in mine. Chipotle says in their description of Sofritas that they use poblano peppers, but I didn't have any. Try it both ways and decide which one you think tastes closer to the actual Chipotle version. 

1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. 

2. Remove the tofu from the packages and set them on a slanted surface to drain. I like to set a cutting board on the counter and the sink so that the tofu can drain into the sink. Let drain completely. 

3. Combine the chipotle in adobo/chipotle salsa, poblano peppers/green bell pepper and jalapeño pepper, cumin, lime zest, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse for about a minute, until very smooth and sauce-like. 

4. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel. Using your hands, crumble the tofu up into small crumbles. It should look somewhat like crumbled feta cheese. Transfer the sauce from the food processor to the bowl with the crumbled tofu and stir well. It should look like what is pictured below. Let marinate for about 10 - 15 minutes. This doesn't need to be exact - just prepare the corn salsa while it sits to kill some time. 
5. While the sofritas are marinating, take your shucked corn and remove the stems. This will create a flat surface on the bottom for the corn to stand on. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice down the side of the corn, removing a strip of corn kernels. Turn the corn and remove another strip until all the kernels have been removed. Repeat this process with the other ears of corn. Put the kernels in a bowl and add the rest of the salsa ingredients. Mix well and adjust seasonings accordingly. 

6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sofritas. Stirring fairly frequently, cook for about 5 - 7 minutes. While the sofritas are cooking, heat the beans in a saucepan on a different burner until heated through. Remove the sofritas and beans from heat.

7. When the rice is finished cooking, fluff it with a fork and add the remaining cilantro-lime rice ingredients. Stir well and adjust seasonings accordingly. 

8. To assemble a bowl, add the ingredients in the following order: rice, beans, sofritas, corn salsa, cheese and lettuce. You can always add any other toppings that you like. This order is crucial because it's the same order that they go in at Chipotle! Serve and enjoy. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please give it a try so you can have a little taste of Chipotle in your own home, and share your recreations with me using #teenscancooktoo on Instagram. Hey, you could even share them with Chipotle on Instagram or Twitter! 

Finally, I want to talk to you about the Teens Can Cook, Too vegetarian challenge that is starting THIS SUNDAY! Isabel, Isaac, Annika and I will be going vegetarian from June 15th to 28th, and the other team members will be testing out our vegetarian recipes here and there. We want all of you to participate if you're up for it! The whole point is to get a taste of the challenges vegetarians face as well as experiencing the benefits of being a vegetarian. You must eat at least 1.5 cups of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit and get a decent amount of protein each day so you can assure that your body isn't deprived of the nutrients it needs. Those of us who are participating will be sharing meal logs and comments from each day here on the blog. If you want to participate, send me pictures on Twitter and Instagram using #teenscancooktoo of your vegetarian meals so we can see what you're up to. This will be a really fun way for the team to interact with the readers, but it will only work if you participate along with us! Keep up with us on all the social media sites below so you can interact: 

Stay healthy!  
- Madeline 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tofu Parmesan

Hey everybody! First, I'd like to apologize for neglecting this blog lately. This spring has been so busy, but now that school is almost over, I will have more than enough time to dedicate myself to this blog! The team and I have some very exciting themes and projects coming up this summer that you won't want to miss.

The theme this month is... Vegetarian Meals! Since there are so many vegetarians out there, I figured I would dedicate a whole month to giving you guys some great recipes. Of course, you don't have to be a vegetarian in order to enjoy these; I highly recommend that meat eaters give these recipes a try. Start having a Meatless Monday and try these recipes out! 

Why go vegetarian? I'm sure you've all heard the arguments against being a vegetarian, mainly the concern that you won't be getting enough protein. However, you can find protein in lots of other food sources! Tofu, beans, and even some whole grains (like quinoa) contain the protein that your body needs. Make sure you are eating a variety of foods so that your body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Lots of fruits, veggies, protein, nuts, and seeds will make your body very happy. A lot of people go vegetarian and end up with problems, like anemia, because they aren't getting the nutrients they need. It's really easy to cut out meat and just eat carbohydrates, but that is not the way to go! The more colors and variety you have, the better.

Have you wanted to go vegetarian for awhile but never had the time? Have you ever wanted to try it out just to see what it's like? Then you are the person to join the Teens Can Cook, Too team on a vegetarian two-week challenge! From June 15th to June 28th, a few members of the Teens Can Cook, Too team will be going vegetarian and blogging about their experiences. We invite you to join us for those 14 days and interact with us via social networking so we can provide tips and inspiration. We've set a few guidelines so that we all try being a vegetarian in the healthiest way possible, and they are as follows:
- No meat (including fish) in any form
- Eat at least 1.5 cups of vegetables and 1 cup of fruit each day 
- Have at least one source of protein per day
- Keep track of all your meals and write a few comments about each day 
We will be posting our thoughts, comments and meals every Sunday with each recipe so that you guys can see how we've been enjoying the new change. I strongly suggest that all my readers participate. From people who eat meat in every meal to pescatarians that want to try giving up fish for two weeks, this challenge will be accessible and valuable! Plus, it's during the summer, so you don't have to worry about juggling a change in diet with schoolwork. If you're already a vegetarian, don't worry - there will be a challenge just like this next month, only we'll be going vegan! 

Onto the recipe! So... tofu. Oh tofu. So many people hate tofu, and I honestly don't blame them. Most of the tofu I've had has been prepared terribly, but there are definitely ways to make it tasty! So far, my favorite methods of preparation are tofu in an Asian stir-fry and marinated tofu that has been grilled or pan-seared. I also love Chipotle's sofritas, which is a scrambled tofu option that they offer. It's my new favorite thing and I think it tastes exactly like ground turkey! Give these things a try as a starter. I've never had tofu outside of Asian or Mexican food, so I figured I would branch out with my recipe and go the Italian route. 

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "This is GROSS! Parmesan tofu? Yuck!" But I promise you that it is better than it looks! The basis for the method of preparation comes from my mom's way of making homemade chicken strips. Hey, there's something you're probably familiar with! The preparation is easy and you will satisfy a family of four easily with this. 

Mozzarella and basil not pictured - I didn't have any. Use these ingredients and I'm sure it will be tastier than mine! 
Tofu Parmesan
Serves 4 

1 (16 oz) package extra-firm tofu 
2 free-range eggs 
2 tbsp rBST-free milk 
About 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs 
4 medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled and minced 
1/4 cup rBST-free shredded parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish 
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp lemon pepper 
2 small zucchini 
3 red bell peppers
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil cooking spray
1/2 cup rBST-free shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved vertically 
1/2 cup julienned basil 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

1. Remove the tofu from the package. Set a cutting board on a slanted surface and place the tofu brick onto the cutting board. Let the tofu drain for at least 15 minutes, catching the drippings in a sink or trash can. Slice the brick into 1/2-inch slices vertically. 

2. While the tofu is draining, prepare the veggies. Slice the top off of the pepper, and turn it so that the hunk of seeds in the middle is facing the ceiling. Carefully cut perpendicular to each piece of white membrane, creating four sections. Throw out the hunk of seeds. Then, slice each pepper segment in half vertically. Repeat this step with the other peppers. For the zucchini, slice the top and bottom off. Cut into 3-inch sections and slice into 1/8-inch slices vertically. Put the zucchini, red bell pepper, balsamic, 2 tbsp of the extra-virgin olive oil, lemon pepper, 1/4 tsp of the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well and let marinate while you complete steps 3 and 4. 

3. Put the breadcrumbs, cheese, half of the minced garlic, remaining Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until the crumbs and cheese become a very fine, crumbly mixture. Pour into a shallow bowl and set aside. Mix the flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in another shallow bowl, and beat the eggs and milk together in another shallow bowl.

4. Take a tofu slice and coat in the flour mixture. Coat generously in the egg mixture, and then completely cover in the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat this step with the remaining tofu slices.

5. Spray a griddle or large skillet with a bit of olive oil spray. Heat to medium-high heat (about 350 degrees Fahrenheit on a griddle). Add the tofu slices and marinated veggies. Try to fit as many of the veggies as you can, but if there are too many, prepare them in two batches. Cook the tofu and vegetables for about 3 minutes on each side. When you flip the tofu, sprinkle mozzarella over all the slices and let it melt as it finishes cooking.

6. While the tofu and veggies are cooking, put the cherry tomatoes, remaining garlic, remaining extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Heat to medium heat and saute for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and heated through. Remove from heat.

7. To serve, place a bed of veggies in the center of the plate. Top with a few slices of cheesy tofu. Garnish the tofu with a spoonful of the cherry tomatoes, 2 tbsp of basil and extra parmesan cheese. Enjoy! 

Enjoy this recipe! This was a fun experiment for me, and I'd love it if you gave it a try. Please share your recreations with me using #teenscancooktoo on Instagram! Follow Teens Can Cook, Too at all the social media sites below: 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdiKFPsBoLhYw2W42P7LvKQ 

Stay healthy!
- Madeline