Cashew Cauliflower

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We have been taught since early childhood that animal protein is essential to a nutritionally balanced diet, but Dr. Joel Fuhrman of his national best seller Eat To Live argues that the common food pyramid is grossly outdated and misunderstands the nutritional value of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts. These essential foods provide a more valuable balance of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals by caloric intake that your body needs and craves than animal protein does, and thus are dubbed Nutrient Dense Foods. For instance, you get twice as much protein from 100 calories of broccoli than you would from 100 calories of steak. It also provides your daily needs of Vitamin A, C, K, fiber, and is even rich in kaempferol if you are following a hypoallergenic diet. In addition, 100 calories of broccoli provides more calcium than one glass of whole milk! Dr. Fuhrman does of course leave room for animal protein intake, but the evidence about nutrition in fruits and vegetables is impossible to ignore in today’s modern world if medicine.

Unfortunately, the concept of meat and potatoes as a dinner staple has left a lasting impression on many Americans. I struggle every day to pack substitute lunches for Asher’s preschool lunch, and I cringe at what they consider a balanced meal for children. Apparently these caretakers would prefer that I let my children subsist on fish sticks and Ragin’ Roast Beef Friday than teach them to eat salad!

But enough about broccoli and the failed school food system, it’s time for some cauliflower! Today I’m sharing a Cashew Cauliflower dish that I got from Veg Kitchen with Nava Atlas which is mind-blowingly tasty. Even my roofing contractor walked in today to fix a roof leak and remarked how good it smelled!

CASHEW CAULIFLOWER
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small red bell pepper, roughly chopped with seeds and veins removed
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely diced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup whole roasted and unsalted cashews
1 cup diced pineapple
1⁄3 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

In a small bowl, whisk 1⁄4 cup water with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside. Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the sesame oil, garlic, and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute. Turn heat high and add the cauliflower, bell pepper, and soy sauce and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the cornstarch and the cashews and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the florets have softened. Stir in the pineapple and cook about 5 minutes longer. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately.

This photo of Asher was not staged! He stole my broccoli from the refrigerator. Most likely to get a rise out of me. Proud mama!

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Asian Salad stand-by, and Asher’s 3rd Birthday

birthday Well folks, it happened. Asher turned 3! The day before his birthday party we decided to visit the Kohl Children’s Museum where within the first hour he stumbled off one step from an exhibit, grabbed his leg crying, and screamed all the way downtown to the hospital. Where we strapped him down for x-rays. Where we learned that he had fractured his leg. And bandaged him up amongst a sea of doctors. While my mother stayed in the ER waiting room with our 8-month old, Everett. Then we found out we would need to give him sponge baths for a month. And I cried. And then we debated whether we should continue with the birthday celebrations. When I decided that a $70 pre-ordered cake is reason enough to continue with the partry. And then the next day, despite his pain and exhaustion and our lack of sanity, we celebrated anyway with a glorious Curious George-themed birthday party complete with cake, decor, party favors, and all of Asher’s favorite people in the world at his favorite playroom Kid City. Well it was a huge success, and Asher was so happy!

I will joyfully bookend this story with the fact that they now make water-proof casts.

asian salad When my mother arrived from Los Angeles that weekend I had to throw together a quick post-airport arrival dinner, and I opted for this delicious and easy Asian Salad which can be made up to a day in advance without the dressing. I opted for the Trader Joe’s Asian Dressing but you can also make your own salad dressing.

ASIAN SALAD

1 head Napa cabbage, roughly diced
1 bunch cilantro, roughly diced
1 bunch radishes, quartered
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed

Dressing
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
Pinch of salt

birthday morning Birthday morning snuggles

Pho, Pho and Away!

tentOn Friday, Asher woke up with a high fever and a cold sore on his mouth so naturally we built a camping tent in our living room. That’s him in the background playing on his toy laptop and moaning, while Everett wonders what’s going on. Today, he finally ate his comfort food of crappy Kraft mac and cheese, which inspired me to share my most favorite sick day soup – Vegan Pho!

I am very proud to say this is actually my husband’s recipe and is one of my all-time favorite foods. The broth is full of sweet and spicy exotic spices, and the udon noodles mixed with the crunch of fresh herbs make this a soul satisfying dish. And because this recipe requires whomever in your household is least likely to burn themselves to roast the ginger over a fire, your house will have the added perk of smelling like sweet delicious roasted ginger!

VEGAN PHO
1/2 bag of udon noodles
6 quarts of vegetable broth OR 6 quarts of water with 2-3 bullion cubes
1 bunch scallions
8 cloves of garlic
3” ginger root in skin
6 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole bay leaves
1 container extra firm tofu
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Toppings
1/2 head of napa cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 head of purple cabbage, roughly chopped
1 cup roughly chopped peanuts
1 container of bean sprouts
1 bunch of Thai basil, whole leaves
1 bunch of cilantro, whole leaves
1/2 jalapeno sliced into circles, seeds removed
1 lime sliced into quarters
Sriracha sauce

Bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook for 15 minutes. Drain noodles and run under cold water for 2 minutes, then toss with sesame oil to prevent sticking. Cook tofu according to my previous post Roasted Tofu Special Treat. Using stainless steel tongs, roast the whole ginger over your stove’s open flame about 5-7 minutes then set aside. In a large pot, bring vegetable broth to a boil then add whole ginger, scallions, garlic, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, star anise, and soy sauce. Boil on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove all solids from the broth so it is a clear, light brown color. In serving bowls, combine two parts broth to one part noodles. Arrange toppings side by side on a large serving plate and allow guests to add desired amounts fresh to their pho. Heaven! Serves 4 -6.