Spicy Szechuan Eggplant with Mushrooms & Almonds

 

 

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 large (about 1lb 4 oz) globe eggplant, or 10 small round Indian eggplants, or 3 long Japanese eggplants cut into irregular shapes. (Video on how to cut eggplants)

1 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)

1 large red onion, julienned (Video on how to julienne onions)

1 large (8-9oz) green bell pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips (Video on how to cut bell peppers)

6 (3-4 oz) 1 16 oz 1/2 cup small mulit-colored peppers, quartered (optional)

1 16-oz package portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced (may substitute button mushrooms or baby bellas) (Video on cutting portobello mushrooms)

toasted slivered almonds (or cashews) (Video on toasting almonds)

 

Sauce:

2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup organic tamari (may substitute soy sauce)
Enough water or vegetable stock to make 2 cups along with the previous three ingredients

 

METHOD:

Yield: 7 cups/3 lbs 11 oz

In a large sauté pan, sauté onions until wilted adding water or vegetable stock to prevent scorching. Stir in garlic, mushrooms and peppers. (If using crushed red peppers, reserve for later.)

Add about 1/2 cup liquid, cover and cook on medium heat until veggies are fork tender, stirring frequently. Once the mushrooms have released their liquid (signifying the veggies are nearly done) begin making your sauce.

For the sauce, pour 1/2 cup boiling water into a 2-cup measuring cup. With a whisk, stir in brown sugar until completely dissolved. Add molasses and stir until dissolved. Whisk in tamari and set aside to cool.

Check your vegetables and see if the eggplants are fork tender. This is the one vegetable that you really want to be cooked through. If that is ready, finish making your sauce.

Note: I don’t like adding cornstarch until I’m ready to use it. Note that the sauce mixture doesn’t have to be completely cooled, just not hot. If it is hot, the cornstarch will start to thicken prematurely and may clump. If the sauce is still too hot, add a half-cup cold water or veggie stock.

When the eggplants are ready, stir in the almonds or cashews. If you are using crushed red peppers, add this now.

Finish your sauce by whisking 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch into the sweetened tamari mixture. Add enough liquid to bring the total amount to 2 cups. Stir to make sure the cornstarch is fully incorporated with no lumps.

Stir sauce into vegetable mixture. Cover and allow to come to a soft boil, stirring frequently. You will notice that the cornstarch mixture was rather cloudy when you first added it to the vegetables. In a minute or two, the mixture will become dark and clear. Allow this mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes for the flavors to incorporate, the sauce to thicken and become a clear, rich color.

Serve over brown or red rice. (Video on how to cook brown rice)

Note: If you prefer your veggies to have more of a crunchy texture, sauté the mushrooms and eggplants first and after the mushrooms have released their liquid, stir in the peppers, onion and garlic. Then add the nuts, crushed peppers, and sauce.

 

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. When you buy something through my links, Veggin’ Out and About! receives a small commission that helps support this site, which is greatly appreciated. It does not increase the cost of your purchase, and it helps us to continue to serve you. I post links only to products I use myself, have been highly recommended by a trusted source (which I will always disclose), or are very similar to my own products that are no longer available. Click on product to view link.

 

 

 

Frontier brand organics and Wholesome Organic Molasses are products I like to use and can attest to their quality. Light brown sugar and organic tamari can usually be found at your local markets, Asian markets and health food stores.

 

 

I’ve not personally tried these particular brands of blanched slivered almonds and whole organic cashews. They have good ratings on Amazon and are reasonably good prices, and also offer free shipping. I recommend purchasing the 2-pound bags to begin with to see if you like them. They offer a better value than the 1-pound bags. Freeze or refrigerate what you are not using right away. You may also be able to find these at your local grocers.

 

 

I’m a big fan of Lundberg Organic Rices. They go through rigorous testing processes and have been found to have safer arsenic levels than some other brands. I’ve recently quite fallen in love with short-grain rice. It’s got more body and texture than long-grain rice and it is excellent for making Sushi. Studies have shown that while nutritionally deficient white rice raises blood-sugar levels, brown rice actually reduces them! I also use brown long-grain, brown jasmine, brown basmati, wild and brown rice blends, black, and red rices when I want to mix things up! Remember, the more colorful, the more antioxidants, and the more healthy!

This is a particularly good price for this short-grained brown rice and includes free shipping for prime members. Bulk orders are usually a better buy and this will last you along time. You may also find it at your local grocers and health food stores as well as other brands that may serve you just as well.

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Healthy Vegan Sushi

The second part of our video for our friend Omowale Adewale’s children Rayne, Aziza and Chi, shows how to make healthy vegan sushi rolls

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Vegan Summer Rolls

    

Our friend, vegan super-middleweight boxing champion, Omowale Adewale, is always looking for new ways to engage his children, Rayne, Aziza and Chi, in the kitchen. Danielle created these videos to teach them how to make summer rolls with a spicy Thai peanut sauce. So easy, anyone can do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Woks Cool Sushi – Super-Charged Sushi In Chicago!

 

 

To celebrate a wonderful week filled with friendship, family and sport we went out to Hot Woks Cool Sushi to celebrate. Combining the philosophy of balancing Ying and Yang in our bodies, the restaurant has two separate kitchens: one for cold dishes (Ying) and another for the hot dishes (Yang.

Kate Strong-9 Menu

 

Hot Woks Cool Sushi offers many choices for vegans and omnivores – a good compromise for my family as I am currently the only plant-powered person. Introducing my family to spicy edamame beans was a big hit with my (very food-stubborn) father declaring that these are now his favorite pre-dinner nibble!

Kate Strong-10 Edamame

(more…)

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Coconut Curry With Indian Spices

by Danielle Bussone

 

 

Watch this video to learn how to make Coconut Curry with Indian Spices! This recipe is from my new book, “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health!” It is a perfect food for transitioning to a plant-based diet. It is deliciously decadent and filled with health-promoting antioxidants and phytonutrients.  YUM!

 

Hi, Y’all!

 

What? You expect perfection?

What? You expect perfection?

There seems to be a learning curve to this business of making cooking videos. I made lots of mistakes in the production of this one, but the ladies from ElderSpirit were very forgiving and a lot of fun. Rather than cut out the mistakes or redo the video, I’m sharing it with you blunders and all hoping you will be equally forgiving. We did cut out a lot in the interest of time and clarity.

I started to explain about how healthy garlic is and I managed to botch that section of the video. Here is the lowdown as explained by Dr. Michael Gregor of NutritionFacts.org. Garlic is the number one cancer fighting food. However, the protective effect of garlic may be destroyed in the cooking process so it is better to eat it raw or to crush it ten minutes before cooking. Crushing the garlic allows the compound alliin and the enzyme alliinase, which are located in different parts of the garlic’s cells, to combine and form the powerful enzyme allicin. This enzyme, once created, is resistant to heat. It takes ten minutes for that enzymatic process to take place.

 

Hmmm... How do I fix this?

Hmmm… How do I fix this?

Another gaffe I made is I forgot to put the spices in towards the end of sautéing the onions. This allows the flavor of the spices to develop and adding them at the end of the sautéing process prevents scorching. Usually, spices are tempered in a little oil when cooking Indian and Thai dishes. Since we want to avoid using oil, which damages our endothelial cells and restricts blood flow, we add the spices at this point.

Adding the spices later didn’t noticeably affect the flavor at all, however, try to remember to add them earlier. Just the fragrance of the dish while cooking will make everyone scramble to find a seat at your table.

 

And there you have it!

And there you have it!

Also, because I was cooking for a crowd who did not care for spicy foods, I eliminated the chili pepper from this recipe. I really love it with the ground chili pepper but it’s fine to eliminate it if you wish. For simplicity I used a five-ounce package of organic spinach for this recipe, however you can add as much as eight ounces if you want to add more of this delicious phytonutrient. The original recipe calls for six ounces.

 

Coconut Curry With Indian Spices

 

This dish smells as good as it tastes. The aromas will drive your family and dinner guests wild while they are awaiting this treat. Again, don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients needed. You’ll use these spices over and over. Measuring them out in advance into small bowls will prevent mistakes. It is easy to forget a spice if it isn’t handy. If you prepare the rice in advance, it will save you some time when you are scrambling to get food on the table. It is also very good served with French whole wheat couscous, which only takes 10 minutes to prepare. It is also excellent served over linguini.

Note that the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and cardamom pods are for flavor and should not be eaten. Pick the cinnamon and bay leaf out before serving; the cardamom pods will be harder to find so just warn your guests that they are not to be eaten. They won’t hurt them, but the seeds are very fibrous and have a woody texture. Plus, biting into them may give your guests a jolt of cardamom flavor that could be overpowering.

 

Coconut Curry With Indian Spices

Coconut Curry With Indian Spices

Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Yield: 7 cups, plus rice

 

Ingredients:

Prepare in advance:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat French Couscous
2 1/4 cups mirepoix vegetable stock or filtered water
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one can organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained

 

Spice Blend:

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground hot chili powder (You can substitute cayenne.)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

 

Main Ingredients:

2 cups diced onion (1 large onion)
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 can organic coconut milk
6 ounces baby spinach, washed and spun dry
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half (1 3/4 cups or about 40)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Preparation: about 20 minutes

Prepare vegetables.

Transfer drained, cooked chickpeas to a bowl. Set aside.

Set aside cinnamon stick and cardamon pods. Measure remaining spices into a small bowl. Set aside.

Method: 15 to 20 minutes

In a dry skillet, sauté onion with bay leaves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon until soft and translucent, stirring frequently (about 10 minutes).

Stir in ginger and garlic. Sauté 2 minutes, adding a little water a tablespoon or two at a time if necessary to prevent scorching.

Add turmeric, garam masala, ground chili powder, and black pepper. Stir until spices are fully incorporated with the onion mixture.

Stir in coconut milk, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Cook for 5 minutes or so on medium heat until sauce is bubbling and tomatoes have wilted. Adjust spices to taste.

Just prior to serving, remove saucepan from heat and fold spinach** into mixture until wilted.

Stir in lemon juice and serve immediately over rice, couscous, pasta or grain of choice.

*You can cook chickpeas on your stovetop if you don’t have a pressure cooker, though it will take longer. Or you can substitute canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed.

**Don’t over-cook the spinach. It should be added no more than 5 minutes before serving. Spinach becomes a little slimy if allowed to cook for too long. Heat it only until it is wilted.

Note:

In cooking demonstrations I often substitute couscous for rice, simply because of time limitations. Actually, couscous is very delicious with this dish. Coconut Curry With Indian Spices can also be served over linguini or angel hair pasta.  Please refer to my book, Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health!, for instructions on cooking beans, vegetable stock much more.

 

French Couscous

 

French couscous is a tiny crumble-shaped pasta that looks a lot like cracked wheat and its precooked form, bulgar wheat. If you store your grains and pastas in jars, be sure to label them. More than once I’ve had to call the large health-food chain in the next city to ask them to look up the bin number on the items I just purchased because I couldn’t tell the difference between cracked wheat and French couscous. When I buy them in bulk, I’ve learned to write not only the bin number but the name of the item on the package.

French couscous is one of the quickest and least labor-intensive foods you will find. It only needs rehydrating in hot water. Boil the water, stir in the couscous, let it absorb the water and fluff. That’s all there is to it! It is a wonderful quick substitution for rice when you’re in a hurry or have forgotten to put rice on to cook in time for dinner.

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 3 cups

 

Ingredients:

1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups homemade vegetable stock or water

Preparation and Method:

In a small saucepan bring 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water to a boil.

Stir in couscous, making sure it all becomes wet.

Remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.

Fluff with a fork and serve. It is important to fluff couscous because otherwise it will become compact as it absorbs the liquid.

 

Co-founder and editor of Veggin’ Out and About!, Danielle writes restaurant reviews, profiles and interviews of people making a difference in the plant-based community. She is author of “Time For Change: Whole Foods For Whole Health,” released January 1, 2015

Danielle’s region is SW Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina, and anywhere she happens to stop for sustenance along the road. Contact Danielle directly to share your restaurant finds, to make comments or just to say hello.

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Serving It Up Vegan At Lemongrass Cuisine of Thailand, Jacksonville, Florida!

 

by Michael Wilkins

Lemongrass Thai Exterior

 

Lemongrass Cuisine of Thailand is a great place to find something deliciously vegan in Jacksonville, Florida. The restaurant was easy to get to, reasonably quiet and had great options. The wait staff was courteous and friendly while taking care of our needs. The restaurant is located on Old Bay Meadows Road on the south side of Jacksonville. It has been in this area for quite a while and seems to do pretty well. Most of the entrées had tofu choices as a replacement for the carniverous options.

(more…)

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