One of my favorite kitchen appliances is my panini press, it was a Christmas gift quite a few years ago, and it has been well used since. It’s a versatile appliance, I often use it as an indoor grill when we are going through cold Canadian winters, I love using it to cook zucchini and of course it has been well used for sandwiches. I believe any sandwich is made better by adding a few grill marks and warming it up by a press.
One day I decided to try and see what other types of sandwiches I could put into the panini press and that is when I first made my heavenly vegetarian black bean burritos. I added a few things I normally keep on hand, cheese that has the best melt, black beans that add plenty of protein for a vegetarian diet, and perfect for southwestern flavors, spinach my favorite green and nutrient dense brown rice. Black Bean Burritos
2 large whole wheat tortillas
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup black beans
1/3 cup Monterrey jack cheese
Place down spinach leaves, black beans, rice and sprinkle with cheese in middle of tortilla.
Tuck in ends of tortilla and roll into burrito form
Use an indoor grill or panini press to heat burrito through and melting the cheese until it browns on each side.
When warmer weather comes my search through cookbooks begin to change, were during the cold months I would look for casseroles, stews and soups during the warmer weather of spring and summer I look for marinades and side dishes mostly. I love putting anything on the grill, chicken, tofu, portobello mushrooms and burgers. Instead of spending my time cooking a full out meal on hot days I prefer to make a simple marinade and let my protein just soak in it all day, then pick a recipe for a side dish and prepare that. If you have a couple of side dish recipes in your back pocket summers meals can be simple and quick.
When looking through one of my vegetarian cookbooks I came across a photo of a delicious salad, an apple and bulgur wheat salad to be exact. Though I find it hard to enjoy a more savory dish with fruit (I look at fruit as a dessert so it is hard to wrap my mind around savory fruit) I liked the idea of the salad, I omitted the apples and a few other ingredients, added my own preferences and then switched up some of the dressing to make it to my liking, and that is when this delicious and fiber rich Cucumber and Bulgur wheat salad was born.
Cucumber And Bulgur Wheat Salad
1 cup Bulgur Wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 cup cubed cucumber pieces
1 bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup carrot coins
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise (or vegannaise)
to rehydrate the bulgur wheat stir the bulgur wheat into boiling water, simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover until all of the water is absorbed, it will take around 15-20 minutes.
In a salad bowl mix together the bulgur wheat, cucumber, carrots and bell pepper
To make the dressing whisk together the mustard, honey, vinegar and mayonnaise, sprinkle with pepper to taste. Add the dressing to the bulgur wheat mixture, cover and refrigerate until needed.
You may never have heard of the term flexitarian before but you may have heard the term vegetarian, meat eater and vegan. Flexitarian is another term coined recently that allows someone that does eat a mostly vegetarian diet (no meat, no fish, but able to drink milk and eat eggs if you wish to) but you are able to indulge once in awhile with meat products such as poultry and fish. Some vegetarians and vegans are against this term but in my opinion a flexitarian diet is just one more way to gradually become a vegetarian or vegan one day in the future.
Back in 2012 I became a vegetarian. It was a choice I made to help me with my mental and physical health. I was not in a good place back in 2012 and I was trying many different things to create a more balanced life. I began noticing the first few weeks that I was paying more attention to eating healthier foods, it created a sense of pride in myself, and I stopped being as sluggish. One day quite a few months in though I began to feel worse, I had low energy, I couldn’t concentrate and my body was starting to have pain. I sadly gave up my vegetarian diet because I realized I did not do enough research and was not balancing my diet once I took out the meat products, I wasn’t given my body the nutrients it needed and once I realized that I also was pregnant, I decided to take a break and one day return to vegetarianism once I did my research and felt comfortable to take the step without harming my body and possibly my daughters if she also choices to be a vegetarian.
My love for tofu has not diminished these past few years, maybe it has even grown since I have not been able to eat it when living with my daughters father since he refused to eat it. I love using portobello mushrooms instead of using meat patties for burgers, I hope to make myself one of those Buddha bowls I’ve been reading so much about, and I can not wait to try a vegetarian restaurant with my friend later in May. One of my favorite fast recipes from my days of being a vegetarian was this quick Hoison tofu stir fry that I would eat after a day biking or at the gym (I was a lot more active back then)
Hoison Tofu Stir-Fry
Extra firm tofu
Rice Noodles (I mostly eye ball it because some days I like more, some days I like less)
Fresh vegetables (I like baby corn on the cobs, green beans, carrots, broccoli)
Garlic Hoison (Or regular hoison) Eyeball how much you would like
I normally begin this recipe two days in advance, or really early the day before. I begin by pressing my tofu, which I normally do by unwrapping the tofu brick, wrapping it in damp paper towels and wrapping that in a dish towel (to collect the water in tofu) put on a plate and on top of the tofu bundle put a heavy pan (I use a cast iron pot) and place in your fridge. I like doing this 24 hours in advance but if you are strapped for time, half a day should do fine.
The night before, or morning of cube the pressed tofu and place in a Ziploc bag and pour in hoison sauce to marinate.
When ready to cook the dinner, in an oiled saucepan pour in cubed tofu and sear.
In a pot boil the water for the rice noodles and cook the noodles. (I find that if you strain the rice noodles they just mold together, so I leave the noodles in the water until I need them and just scoop the noodles out of the pot right into the tofu frying pan)
Cut your chosen vegetables into bite size pieces
When tofu is seared pour in your vegetables and sear them also. (Sometimes I like to add a little tsp. of hoison sauce to the tofu and vegetables just to add a little bit more flavor!)
Add the noodles into the frying pan and pour in the wanted amount of hoison sauce. Cook all together for a minute or so stirring occasionally and then plate and enjoy!