Banh mi (vegan)

This is the vegan’s version of a barbecue sandwich. Layers upon layers of flavor and absolutely impossible to eat without making a mess. But you won’t care cuz it’s just that good.

I tried a different technique with the tofu–slicing into 1/2 inch, marinating and then baking it. It got a little texture on the outside but still plenty moist. It has the appearance of something other than tofu, which may be important to some folks.

I also used a readymade cabbage slaw for the pickled vegetables. That’s speeds things up too. I had black currant vinegar on hand which blended the tart/sweet punch perfectly!

You can pretty much accessorize with any crunchy vegetables you have though. I had radishes, daikon radish sprouts and a jalapeño. I thought about slicing a cucumber too but it was already too fat to fold 😉

Fresh herbs–mint and cilantro–and a Sriracha mayo finish it up. Round 2 was open-face sandwich style.

Creating this feels like creating art: between the colors and flavors it turns out differently each time, but always delicious! Easily my favorite sandwich and WAY better than barbecue.

Banh mi (vegan)

  • Baguette
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2″
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    2 tbsp Sriracha, divided
    Juice of 1/2 lime
    1/2 cup vegan mayo
    1 cup coleslaw blend
    1/2 cup vinegar–apple cider or another fruit based cider works well
    2 tbsp sugar
    Sliced radishes
    Sliced jalapeño
    Sprouts or lettuce
    Cucumbers
    Mint and cilantro leaves

Drain and slice tofu. Mix tamari, sesame oil and 1 tbsp Sriracha. Coat tofu and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Microwave vinegar about 1 minute until just warm enough to dissolve sugar. Cool, then add coleslaw and allow to soften for about 30 minutes.

Bake tofu on tinfoil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. An ambitious person would flip it halfway through.

Mix mayo with remaining Sriracha and lime juice. Adjust heat to your preferences.

Slice cucumbers, radishes and jalapeño. Prep mint and cilantro leaves.

Assemble sandwich by putting mayo, herbs, vegetables and tofu on one side, slaw on the other.

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Roasted Shishito peppers (vegan)

We first had these little gems–Shishito peppers–in Phoenix. Wow. Who knew I could eat an entire bowl of peppers!

That answers your first question: No, they’re not spicy. Well they say 1 in 10 is actually spicy and that’s consistent with my experience too. But not jalapeño spicy even. Just enough to keep eating for the random wildcard surprise.

They’re super easy to prepare and make a great app or side to anything from southwest cuisine to burgers. The long stems are ideal for snack ready eating–many places serve them with dips, but honestly I find that unnecessary.

The skins are very thin so it’s not even like a red pepper, you barely notice it, which is also a win for a roasted/blackened technique so you don’t end up with that giant mess of exterior to cleanup.

They can be difficult to find so if you run across them as I recently did in the coop or your farmer’s market, by all means buy them!!!

Roasted Shishito peppers (vegan)

  • Shishito peppers (8 oz is a good amount)
  • Olive oil
  • Juice of a lime
  • Salt

Toss in olive oil, cook on a vegetable grate on the grill over medium heat, about 5 minutes until slightly blackened. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime juice over and sprinkle generously in salt.

Green curry noodle bowls

Green for Glory. (A few of my readers will understand that inside reference 😉).

We’re still trying out new vegan options, some hits, some misses. I’m particularly surprised by Av who is actually adjusting to it, including the no lunch meat. He’s eating massive amounts of fruit (usually 2 or 3 pieces at lunch alone). The Açaí bowls and almondmilk yogurt are his favorites, particularly with Bubba’s Fine Foods granola.

Eating out is getting easier too, as I have found most restaurants have some good vegetarian options which can easily be modified to be vegan by holding the cheese or mayo, etc. We still have eggs, butter and parmesan cheese as occasional “treats”.

Quorn chicken patties/tenders have become a weekly staple, getting used in a variety of ways (the version in our store unfortunately contains milk, eggs but again, moderation in diet “compliance” works for us). It’s fun to stretch our food knowledge and try new things. I do realize we’re unique in that regard.

Several people have asked how we’re getting enough protein. I have tracked my calories for almost 5 years now in an app, which includes nutrient analysis. I set a goal so I can easily see how I’m doing–between 10-35% of daily calories from protein. I’m averaging around 15% protein and regularly hitting my 19g daily fiber goal, with most of the protein coming from ancient grains (quinoa, farro, bulgur) and beans (garbanzo, pinto, black and bean burgers as recurring sources). Of course vegs have protein too!

The historical data on my app shows that my protein has actually gone UP. I attribute that to being more intentional about it. And all in all I just feel better! Matt looks and feels great too, having lost weight in the process 😊

This recipe was easy and has a nice fresh flavor for midwinter. I was using up green stuff, but any veg will do and no reason to cook those ahead, just let the broth do it.

Green curry noodle bowls 8 oz rice noodles, cooked

  • 1 package extra firm tofu, sliced and marinated in soy sauce
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 1 tsp lemongrass purée(I buy the tube, which lasts longer)
  • 1 tbsp ginger purée
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (omit this to keep fully vegan, thanks Esme!)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • Zucchini, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • Lime slices

Slice and marinate tofu in soy for about 30 minutes. Cook noodles. Purée 1 chile, garlic and herbs/seasonings with coconut milk. Heat broth and add coconut mixture, allow to simmer and blend flavors. Sauté tofu in coconut oil until browned on both sides, drain on paper towels. Assemble bowls with vegs, noodles and tofu, top with curry broth mixture and a few herb leaves and remaining sliced chile.

Soba noodle bowls


Noodles always go over well after swim practice. These vitamin-packed soba bowls are also easy to make ahead and let people eat as they get home without worrying about a cold dinner. 

Lots of room to improvise with whatever you have in the fridge too! Peppers, pea pods, edamame, even protein–ahi tuna would be killer!! You could also go the other way and omit the egg. 😉
Soba noodle bowls

  • 8 oz soba noodles, cooked
  • 12 oz extra firm tofu
  • Soy and sesame oil
  • Cornstarch 
  • 1 small head napa cabbage, chopped 
  • 1/2 c matchstick carrots
  • 3 green onions, chopped 
  • Hard boiled egg, 1 per bowl
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeno, sliced
  • Cashews and peanuts, chopped 
  • Juice of 1/2lime
  • 1/4c low sodium soy sauce
  • Crushed red pepper 
  • Lime wedges 

Drain tofu. Slice brick into 1/2″ slices. Lay flat on plate, cover with paper towels and weight with saute pan. After 30 minutes the towels will be soaked. Dice tofu into cubes, toss with soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil. Marinate for 30 minutes. Coat in cornstarch. Heat several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan, sauté tofu until golden on each side, about 10 minutes total.

Mix soy, lime juice and pepper together and toss noodles in dressing. Assemble bowls.

Pineapple red curry for meatless Monday


I’m trying to honor the idea of Meatless Monday, which is to say that one day of the week we don’t eat meat. It’s a philosophical notion for me mostly, as I realize growing up in the American Midwest, the “norm” is red meat and potatoes. I like to think of those foods as a splurge rather than everyday eating.

For growing boys looking to build muscle, that definitely requires some creativity to add in protein on those days. (Most of the time I don’t tell them we’re doing this and they don’t notice). 😉

Here’s a few tips to add meatless protein:

  • Breakfast: Whole oat granola with seeds and nuts (flax, pepito, almonds, walnuts) over greek yogurt, which has nearly 2x the protein as regular. Or add ricotta cheese to your favorite boxed pancake mix. It makes them fluffier too!
  • Lunch: Beans and old world grains. A favorite lately is farro with garbanzos, kale, olives and tomatoes in a greek vinaigrette. Even just adding beans to a pre-made pasta salad helps bulk it up.
  • Snacks: Smoothies with protein powder or the old standby of apples and peanut butter.
  • Dinner: This meatless dish always gets raves and is super fast for weeknight cooking:

Pineapple red curry 

  • 8oz can crushed pineapple 
  • 1 red pepper, chopped 
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped 
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste, more or less depending on how spicy you like it 
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsbp sugar
  • Extra firm tofu, pressed to remove excess water, cubed. Or shrimp if you insist 😉
  • Cilantro and coconut flakes for garnish 
  • Rice

Sauté fresh pineapple and red pepper 2-3 minutes until softened. Add coconut milk, crushed pineapple, and curry paste, stir, add in sugar and fish sauce. Simmer 10 minutes until thickened. Sauté tofu cubes in 2tbsp oil until browned. Mix into curry. Garnish with coconut and cilantro. Serve over rice or rice noodles. 

Asian Meatballs

This is a versatile recipe either as a cocktail finger food app or as a main dish paired with a side such as Chinese noodles. 

My trick with meatballs is to bake on high heat to start and then lower temp to cook fully. They get a nice crust, yet stay moist. Way easier and less mess than pan sauté. 

Serve these with a readymade condiment of your choice–Sriracha, Szechuan sauce, chili-garlic sauce. No leftovers in our house!
Asian meatballs

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 slice white bread, torn into pieces
  • 3tbsp milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 3 tbsp chopped ginger (Ginger paste is a new fav of mine, so easy!)
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic 
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 1/3c chopped cilantro

Soak the bread in milk–it should crumble easily but not be soggy. Squeeze out excess milk if necessary. Mix in remaining ingredients by hand, do not overmix! Add sesame oil and/or Sriracha if you like a bit of heat. Roll into 1 inch balls. Make a bit smaller for app size. Or a bit bigger if you just get lazy or impatient hungry boys pressure you to hurry up.

Line a large baking pan with tinfoil, bake meatballs at 500 degrees for 5 min, turn the heat down to 350 (keep the meatballs in the oven) and cook another 15 min. Let them set a bit to cool.

  

Better the second time peanut butter noodles

My darling 16-year-old graciously offered to make spaghetti one night last week when I was late getting home. His version of portion sizes for 3 adults: 2 lbs of noodles. Needless to say, I had to figure out a couple ways to use up the leftovers! 

This recipe is great for that because it’s got a different flavor profile (Asian), and it’s very flexible–you can add whatever veggies you have on hand, and it can be served warm or chilled.

Peanut butter noodles

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 3/4c creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3c low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp hot chili oil or 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/2c chopped cilantro
  • Veggies of your choice: I threw in sauteed napa cabbage, cucumber, shredded carrots. Pea pods, peppers and broccoli are also good!

Chop garlic in food processor. Add remaining dressing ingredients (through sesame oil) and puree until smooth. Cook noodles. Toss noodles in sauce, thinning sauce with pasta water as needed. Add veggies, top with green onions and cilantro. Drizzle with more sesame oil if desired. We serve with chili-garlic sauce for the half of our family that likes spice.