Recipe: Creamy Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

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Ever since I came to Berkeley three years ago, the biggest obstacle to being 100% vegan was an Indian restaurant called Biryani house. Berkeley is teeming with vegan options, but this place had the absolute best food I’d ever tasted in my life. And that’s a big deal for me, because I’ve had the good fortune of eating at a lot of great restaurants.

I used to go there with friends a couple of times a month to gorge myself on their freshly baked aloo naan, perfectly spiced vegetable biryani, and most importantly, their decadent paneer tikka masala. Unfortunately, my vegan aspirations were dashed due to the fact that their tikka masala not only sported paneer (cubes of Indian cottage cheese), but was also likely drowned in heavy cream.

(Fun fact: my weight seemed to fluctuate along with how often I went there.)

When I finally got more serious about being 100% vegan last year, I had to stop going there. And as if to enforce my self-discipline, it actually closed just a few weeks ago for unknown reasons. A bittersweet moment.

Anyways, getting to the point: I’ve been trying to recreate that tikka masala for quite awhile now. After a few tries–all of which were delicious, but not decadent like theirs–I finally came up with a recipe that tasted almost the same. It’s creamy, spicy, much healthier than its restaurant counterpart, and most importantly, vegan. And I’m pretty darn excited about it.

Now to work on aloo naan recipes!

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Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 400-500g super firm tofu (the kind that is vacuum sealed instead of water packed, and has the density of a block of cheese–I use Tofu Yu. If you can’t find that, try freezing an extra firm block then thawing it out and using it as you would super firm.)
  • 80g cashews (a little less than 3/4 cup), soaked overnight or for a few hours
  • 15oz can of plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 + cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk (as needed)
  • Handful cilantro
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (more as desired)
  • 1/4 tsp paprika (more as desired)
  • 2 pinches of amchur powder

Directions:

1. Cut up the onion and garlic, and combine them with the tomato sauce in a large pan over medium heat. Add in the cumin, cardamom, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne, paprika, and amchur powder, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

2. While the sauce is simmering, cut your tofu into cubes, and fry until golden (I used a teaspoon of coconut oil, but you could also do it dry). Remove from heat once golden.

3. After 15 minutes, remove the sauce from heat. Allow to cool (if necessary; I didn’t have to for my vitamix) and blend with the drained cashews until smooth and creamy. Add unsweetened almond or cashew milk as needed to get it to your desired consistency.

4. Combine tofu with sauce in a serving bowl, and serve it with jasmine rice, naan, your preferred grain, or enjoy it solo!

Nutrition info: 

  • Calories per 1/5 of recipe: 230 calories
  • Carbs: 17g (3g fiber)| Protein: 15g | Fat: 13g

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Thanks for reading!

Michelle

 

Recipe: Piñata Burrito Bowl [Vegan]

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I’m starting to fall in love with bulk cooking. Not only am I free from prepping food and dish-washing each and every night, but it leaves me more time and energy for the gym. Talk about a win-win!

For my second bulk dish, I went with a burrito bowl since I’d had burrito cravings for days. The reason I’m calling this particular recipe a piñata bowl is because it’s a bit of an explosion of color–with lots of green, red, and yellow–and is rather pretty to look at. And more importantly, it tasted AMAZING. It lasted me five nights, and I found myself looking forward to it every night. I was sure I’d get bored of eating the same thing even three nights in a row, let alone 5, but this bowl has proven me wrong!

Not only is it delicious, but it’s got plenty of protein and fiber and can be made nearly fat free if you omit the avocado. Perfect for those on a high carb lifestyle, and for those looking to eat a giant burrito equivalent for way fewer calories!

It’s also versatile, since you can substitute veggies as you’d like, as well as brown rice for the quinoa, or other types of bean/protein for the black beans.

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Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dry (uncooked) quinoa
  • 1 cup dry black beans (or a can of black beans)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of one medium lime
  • 3 small summer squashes
  • 2 small zucchinis
  • 2/3 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5 big kale leaves
  • 6 fire roasted red peppers (I used piquillo)
  • 1 – 15oz can corn
  • Cumin, salt and pepper
  • Chili powder/cayenne/paprika/chipotle powder (only need one)
  • Avocado, tomato, shredded romaine, and hot sauce/salsa for topping

Directions:

1. Prepare the lime-cilantro quinoa: cook the quinoa according to instructions on the package. It should take less than 15 minutes. Also, rinsing before cooking is recommended to wash off the saponin, which can cause reactions in sensitive people. As it cooks, chop up the cilantro. Once the quinoa is done, combine it with the cilantro and half of the lime juice and salt to taste. Set aside.

2. Prepare the black beans according to instructions on the package. For dried beans, this generally calls for soaking them overnight, draining them an hour before dinnertime, covering them with an inch of water and bringing them to a boil, and gently simmering for one hour. You can also try quick-soaking or just cooking without soaking, but it will take longer. Season with salt.

3. Prepare the veggies: chop up the squash, zucchinis, onion, kale, and peppers. Mince the garlic, and sautee it in a medium-large pot with onion until it begins to turn translucent, over medium heat. Then add the squash, zucchini, and kale. Sautee until tender. Add the peppers and corn, and remove from heat. Add the juice from the other half of the lime, along with 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2-1 tsp of either chili powder, cayenne, paprika, or chipotle powder. (Or mix and match as you like!) Season with salt and pepper.

4. Prepare toppings: slice up 1/2 avocado and 1 small roma tomato per serving; if serving all at once, use 2.5 avocados and 5 roma tomatoes. Chopped/shredded romaine is also a nice addition, about 1/4-1/3 cup per bowl. Add hot sauce or salsa as desired.

5. Combine the the quinoa, black beans, veggies, and add the toppings. Eat them separately or mix them all up–it tastes great either way!

Nutrition info: 

  • Calories per 1/5 of recipe: 350 calories (450 with 1/2 avocado)
  • Carbs: 65g (14g fiber)| Protein: 16g | Fat: 3g (13g with avocado)

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Bolognese (with lots of veggies)

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Lately, I’ve been on a mission to simplify my life in the food department. As much as I’ve loved coming up with new recipes every day, it can get exhausting and takes up a lot of time. So a few weeks ago, I decided to do something drastic: make a dinner that would last me for more than one night, rather than making some whole other new dish the next night like I usually would.

And it was a success! Instead of spending an hour cooking an entirely new dinner the next day, I spent that time reading a book and relaxing after a day of midterms. I could get used to this.

The pilot meal was a pasta bolognese, and it was delicious! It’s a super simple weeknight dinner, with leftovers that seem to keep getting better and better. I stored the pasta and veggies separately, and each night just had to combine them with the marinara and “beef” crumbles.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4oz dry pasta (I used ancient grain penne)
  • Mushrooms, garlic, kale, broccoli, and any other veggies you’d like
  • 1.5 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup Beyond Meat beef crumbles

Directions:

1. Prepare pasta according to directions on the package–will vary by type.

2. Prepare your veggies as you’d like: I roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli in the oven at 400 degrees for ~10-15 mins, and sauteed mushrooms and kale together with garlic.

3. Combine cooked pasta and veggies, marinara sauce, and Beyond meat beef crumbles, and serve hot.

Nutrition info: (using 2 cups of broccoli and kale)

  • Calories per 1/2 of recipe: 420 calories
  • Carbs: 67g (9g fiber)| Protein: 25g | Fat: 7g

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Enjoy your quick and easy weeknight dinner!