Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwiches

vegantuna
It’s been about a month now, and our diet in the Le household has made more changes to become more vegetarian, sometimes vegan, and we feel absolutely great! It started when I was gearing up our meals to reflect even more of a plant-based diet than what we usually ate (in attempts to lower my husband’s cholesterol), but then we found out that when we did eat out on the weekends and had meat, it wasn’t “hitting the spot” anymore. Our tastebuds, we think, have been transformed, and the fact that I’ve been making a lot of really delicious vegetarian foods doesn’t hurt, either!

I do have to admit that I’ve been kind of obsessed with making things vegetarian. I always like to make dishes to know that I know how to make them, but with vegetarian food, I can really be creative and it’s so fun exploring new foods, flavor combinations, and techniques.

So, over the weekend, we chose vegetarian options when we ate at an Indian restaurant, and my husband found a restaurant called “Busboys and Poets” in Washington, DC. This place was awesome! With lots of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, the whole vibe was full of cool, artsy peeps. There were huge portraits of poets, writers, human rights activists, and there was a bookstore in the back near the bar and cafe. Anyways, my husband ordered the vegan tuna salad sandwich, which was made out of chickpeas. I had the avocado, havarti, and roasted red bell pepper sandwich. Both were A-MA-ZING.

I sought a recipe for vegan tuna salad sandwiches right when we got home, made a few changes to what I found, and I must say, I hit the jackpot on this one! I made a double portion, and gave some to our friend Matt. “This tastes just like tuna salad and I haven’t eaten it since before I became vegan!” My friend Grace was over yesterday, and tried some too. “I LOVE IT!” she said in all seriousness. If she made some for lunch today, I take it that she liked it!

I really urge you to try this recipe. I like it even more than real tuna salad because it doesn’t become watery like real tuna salad tends to be (gross). Not only is it full of fiber (chickpeas), you get to have your tuna salad fix – without worrying about the consumption of high levels of mercury that accumulates in tuna.

Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwiches
recipe adapted from “The Kitchn,” makes 4-8 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1/2 sheet of roasted nori seaweed (sushi wrapper), cut into a few smaller pieces
2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2-3 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 celery ribs, diced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup vegan mayonnaise (or use regular/canola/olive oil mayonnaise if you don’t care about it being vegan)
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, optional

serve with:
tomato slices
whole grain bread
green lettuce leaves

Preparation:

In a food processor, process the nori seaweed until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas, and pulse 3-4 times. Add the red onion, celery, and green onion, pulsing about 2-3 more times until desired consistency. Place contents into a large bowl. Add the mayo, mustard, celery seed, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper, if using. Mix all the ingredients together until uniform throughout.

Serve with whole grain bread, green lettuce leaves, and tomato.

Posted in sandwiches, vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

chia
If you like tapioca, basil seed drink, or squishy boba, I think you’ll like the texture of chia seeds. I personally do, and love how these little bad boys are nutritional all-stars. They pack in a serious punch – omega-3 fats (which are essential fatty acids that your body cannot make, but have to get through food sources), fiber, calcium, and more.

Chia seeds have been used as egg replacers, forming a gel with water. I have yet to try it, and probably will do this when I run out of eggs for baking! Chia seed puddings are super easy – just put all the ingredients in a mason jar, shake, shake, shake, wait a few hours, and serve! I like to serve it with some nuts, a sprinkle of unsweetened, shredded coconut, and strawberries.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
makes about 2 1/2 cups, about 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups original unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chia seeds

toppings:
sliced strawberries
candied walnuts
unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes

Preparation:

Heat up the almond milk in the microwave for 1 minute to a minute and a half, until it is a little warm.

In a large bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Slowly pour in the almond milk, all the while whisking the cocoa mixture into the milk. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the chia seeds until incorporated. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Whisk the mixture again, and then pour into a 32-ounce mason jar. Put the lid on and shake several times; place in the refrigerator overnight. Shake it again before you eat it the next day, and top your individual servings with sliced strawberries, unsweetened, shredded coconut, and candied walnuts.

Posted in desserts, vegetarian | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Miso-roasted root vegetables

rootveg
It’s been over three years since I made miso-ANYTHING, because I think I traumatized myself when I was going through that morning sickness phase of pregnancy. All those gross instant miso packets I quickly made for my husband, because I couldn’t stomach any smells or make any kind of soup, so this was the best I could do at the time. Thank goodness he was a good sport and slurped down those bowls anyways, because he didn’t have much of a choice. I guess it was either that, or orange juice with bagels.

Well it’s been over three years, and I haven’t touched the stuff ever since. That miso-honey salad dressing I used to make when we lived in Hawaii? No thank you. Miso-glazed fish? Not even that. So I made a little step today, and that was making miso-roasted root vegetables. They are really, really good, and taste nothing like those instant miso packets. :)

Miso-roasted Root Vegetables
serves 4-6

2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 lbs root vegetables (I used a mixture of parsnips, carrots, and sweet potato), peeled and cubed
black sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, maple syrup, mirin, soy sauce, and canola oil. Toss with all the root vegetables, and pour the vegetables into a large baking pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip vegetables over and roast for 15 minutes more, until vegetables are caramelized. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds before serving.

Posted in vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Warm Farro Pilaf with Dried Cranberries

farropilaf
We’ve always eaten lots of vegetables, but now I have to step it up a notch, because my husband’s cholesterol is high. It’s mostly genetics (because he runs and walks everywhere!), but I’m going to do what I can because my family’s health is in my hands! We’re eating more plant-based foods and not eliminating meat, but eating it just a couple times a week. We went on a date night a couple nights ago, ordered a couple of meat dishes, and could barely finish half of our plates. This is a good thing, because it means we are getting more satisfied with our plant-based diet!

I realize the reason I have failed in the past with making vegetarian meals is that I didn’t bulk up on beans, legumes, and fiber-rich foods. My husband would get hungry 20 minutes after eating a tofu, carrot, and chayote squash stir-fry with rice, and I would too. I’m proud to say that he’s not craving a burger after all these vegetarian meals this week! Another fun note – our friends came over for lunch over the weekend (my friend’s husband eats meat EVERY meal), and I served a salad with cranberries and almonds, and baked orzo with eggplant and mozzarella. They both loved it! Yes!

I’ve been having lots of fun researching vegetarian foods, finding things that are high in protein and fiber at the same time. Things that will get and keep you full, and this strategy is totally working. Here’s a recipe from the Vegetarian Times – a warm farro pilaf with dried cranberries. I love this resource and made just one addition – just the zest and juice from one lemon. It really brightened up the flavors. Farro is a great grain – kind of like barley. We had a friend come over for lunch today who’s vegan, and I served this with a really yummy broiled tofu sandwich with basil oil, avocado, greens, and roasted bell pepper on baguette bread. It was such a hit!

Posted in fruits, grains, salads, vegetables, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Berry Mint Smoothie

mintsmoothie
I love the flavors in this smoothie. It feels so refreshing and the addition of mint makes it cleansing. Just be sure to enjoy this right away because the mint and spinach in it will turn brown over time (I doubt you could pass this on to your kids as a “chocolate” smoothie!).

When you can, use frozen fruits, because they make your smoothie super cold and you can just grab them whenever you need them!

Berry Mint Smoothie
serves 1-2 (makes 400 ml)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup packed spinach leaves
1/4 cup packed mint leaves
1/2 banana
1/4 cup wild blueberries, frozen
1/4 cup mango
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 cup cold water

Preparation:

Blend all ingredients and serve!

Posted in beverages, breakfast, Drinks, fruits, vegetables, vegetarian | Leave a comment