Meatless Monday: 4 Additions to a Heartier Salad

Salads sometimes get a bad rap for being nothing more than a sad serving of wilted iceberg lettuce topped with shreds of carrot–but they sure don’t have to be! Try one of these tips this Meatless Monday and you’ll surely change your mind about the potential of salads.

Here are four additions to build a heartier salad:

1. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds add a nice crunch to your favorite salad. The protein in nuts and seeds will help you stay full from your salad longer.

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Arranging my almonds in a neat way

2. Beans: My go to meal is always some sort of bean served on a bed of greens. For a Mexican style salad, try pinto or black beans with romaine lettuce and salsa. For Mediterranean flavors, try garbanzo beans with mixed greens and a touch of olive oil.

3. Tofu: Tofu is a perfect addition to virtually any dish that needs an extra boost. From blending it into smoothies to crumbling it into tacos–tofu always serves a plant-based eater very well. And that’s no different for salads. Simply chop up some extra-firm tofu and top over your favorite blend of leaves. You can even saute the pieces slightly to add a bit more flavor. Wait till the tofu is cool to add to your salad.

4. Cheese: If you eat dairy, a sprinkle of your favorite shredded cheese adds a nice flavor to your salad. Some say that the fat in dairy can help you digest leaves a bit better. Just a tiny sprinkle of cheese will go a long way.

What’s your favorite addition to salad? Do you eat them often?

Meatless Monday: 4 Easy Substitutes to Make Your Meals Greener

1. Hummus for Mayonnaise
I love hummus. My love for hummus requires a post of its own. Packed with protein and flavor–I think hummus makes a fabulous sub for mayo. Hummus is made with a tahini base rather than oil, which makes it a healthier (and in my opinion, tastier!) option for spreads and dips.

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Pile on the hummus!

2. Avocado for Cheese
Avocado’s richness makes it a fabulous substitute for cheese. It works especially well in dishes like sandwiches and tacos, when cheese doesn’t need to be melted. Instead of sliced cheese in your next sandwich, why not try some sliced avocado? Throw in some cubed avocado, or definitely guacamole, in Mexican dishes and you won’t even miss the shredded cheese.

3. Tofu for Steak
Tofu is a wonder food because of the infinite ways it can be transformed. You can bake, it fry it, blend it into a smoothie. You can even grill it just as you would a steak! The beauty of tofu is that its pretty much non-existent taste and variety of texture options ranging from soft to extra firm allows you to prepare it the same way you would prepare a meat dish. Substituting a plant-based meal for a meat-based dish gives you the chance to make a healthier choice for animals, the planet, and yourself.

4. Chickpeas for Tuna
This may not seem like a natural substitute but the other day I tried a really yummy mock tuna salad–and found out that the “tuna” was made out of chickpeas! Usually imitation dishes are made with fake meat products, but the chickpeas are really neat take on this dish. Simply mash up your cooked chickpeas with a little bit of seasoning (I love this recipe!) and you have a delicious “tuna” dish.

Meatless Monday: Kale in Pictures

The abundance of local fruits and vegetables was one of the best things about my trip to California this past weekend. My eyes first landed on the CA-grown, organic kale and I knew this leafy green wouldn’t need much more than a simple steam.

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Here’s the process in action:

Tear off the amount of kale you plan to eat

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Wash and rinse in colander

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Rip kale into small pieces

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Bring water to a boil in the base pot

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Place kale into the steam-insert on top of boiling water

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Remove after 3-5 minutes

Enjoy! I ate mine with some salt, pepper and minced garlic. Do you like kale? What’s your favorite way of eating it?

Meatless Monday: Neat Tool for Comparison Shopping

Seems like I’ve been on full-on econ nerd mode these last few days but I just couldn’t help myself! A few weeks ago, the Economics Research Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released a really neat interactive data visualization tool.

This tool allows you to compare the average price for practically any fruit or vegetable you can imagine, including dry fruits and fruit-based products like applesauce.

I had fun playing around with this tool and thought it could be of use when you’re planning your shopping trip. Produce can be one of the most expensive items on a veg*ns shopping list, but this comparison chart hopefully can help you get the most bang for your buck!

Meatless Monday: Gov. Brown on Veggie Burgers

You might have heard about the California drought in the news lately. California and neighboring states in the southwest (where I’m from) have been suffering years from a prolonged fresh water shortage.

Last week, Governor Brown took the time to talk with the LA Times about the water crisis.
You can watch it all here:

http://www.latimes.com/local/drought/la-me-water-in-the-west-live-htmlstory.html

Gov. Brown states that one of the best things we can do is to eat veggie burgers, rather than burgers made from beef. Producing a single burger requires thousands of gallons of water. Rather than pouring our all of our precious water into the beef industry, we can stretch it much farther by choosing a plant-based diet.

Meatless Monday: Guacamole

You might remember from this post that I live for avocados. For today’s Meatless Monday, I want to share with you my favorite way to eat these alligator pears: guacamole.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

2 ripe avocados–I know an avocado is ripe when it’s skin is mostly black rather than green and feels slightly squishy
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
one stem of green onion, chopped
chili powder, to taste
chopped cilantro, to taste

Instructions

Peel avocados, remove pits, and place in bowl
Add lemon juice, salt, garlic, onion, and chili powder (if using) to bowl
Mash the mixture with a fork, or potato masher to your preferred consistency (I like mine slightly chunky, and tend to go easy with the mashing)
Sprinkle in cilantro, if using and mix gently

Serve with your favorite tortilla chips, black bean burritos, or tacos.

Guacamole is one of my favorite sides to bring to summer gatherings–it’s so easy to make, and it’s vegan/gluten-free.

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I brought this to my friend M’s house last night and it went well with the completely vegan and super tasty dinner he made.

Do you have a go-to guacamole recipe you love?

Meatless Monday: 4 Ways to Try Kale

Kale is often touted by experts as one of the best foods for your health. Nutritionists, though, haven’t yet agreed upon an optimal preparation method for our bodies to maximize all of kale’s fantastic benefits. Switch up your routine with these 4 different and simple ways to enjoy kale, and ensure you make the most of this versatile vegetable.

1. Chips. Baking kale gives it a nice texture, akin to potato chips without the carbs. To make kale chips, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, wash and dry your kale leaves. Rip kale off of its stem into 1 inch pieces. Place kale pieces into a mixing bowl and toss with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Then, place kale onto baking sheet, taking care to evenly spread the pieces. Place tray into oven and let bake for 10-15 minutes. Kale chips are done when pieces are crisp. If you prefer your chips to be extra crispy, take the tray out of the oven, and flip each piece of kale over. Place tray back into oven, bake in oven for 10 minutes and remove.

2. Salad. You can never go wrong with a kale salad, and this one really lets the kale shine. First, wash and dry your kale leaves. Rip kale off from stem and shred very finely. Place finely shredded kale into salad bowl and toss with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for extra kick.

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3. Steamed. Steaming kale makes the tough green softer and easier to digest. Steam also unlocks nutrients that are difficult for your body to benefit from when eating raw kale. To steam kale, first wash and dry your leaves. Rip kale into 1 inch pieces and depending on your preferences, leave stem attached, or discard. If you have a steamer, bring water in the pot to boil and place the kale pieces in the steamer basket. Close lid and let steam for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. If you don’t have a steamer, no worries! Simply fill a pot with a few inches of water. Bring water to boil and place kale into pot. Cover with lid and let steam for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve steamed kale with crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Juice. Juicing vegetables is a growing trend among the health conscious. Juicing kale helps your body absorb nutrients that you might miss from chewing it. First, wash and dry your kale leaves. Another benefit of juicing is that juicers are able to handle both the tough stem and the leaves of kale, doubling the nutrition you gain. Combining greens with Vitamin C aids digestion, and I love to juice my kale with pineapple and carrots. Experiment with the proportions of your favorite fruits and vegetables with kale to make your favorite, customized juice!

By mixing up the way you use kale—eating it raw or cooked, and drinking it, you ensure that your body has plenty of opportunity to make the most of this green powerhouse. Preparing kale is easy in any form, tasty and offers many of the vitamins and minerals vital to your health.