Takeout Fakeout: Veggie Lo Mein

While some of us count down the days ’til Christmas morning, are others counting down the days until Chinese restaurants and a day at the movies? For my non-Christian readers, I have a special treat just for you. After hearing for ages that Chinese restaurants are packed on Christmas day, I thought I’d offer you an at-home version of my favorite dish: Vegetable Lo Mein. Typically serves 4 (all depends on how many veggies you add!)

Ingredients

  • ∞  1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ∞  4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ∞  2 tbsp canola oil
  • ∞  1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ∞  1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ∞  1 package white mushrooms, sliced to your liking
  • ∞  1 baby bok choy (both stalks and leafy tips), thinly sliced on an angle
  • ∞  5-8 baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • ∞  1 cup snow peas (trim the ends, first)
  • ∞  1 cup mung bean sprouts
  • ∞  1 package lo mein noodles (you will use half)

Sauce Ingredients

  • ∞  3 tsp grated ginger (I buy this tube instead of grating fresh ginger)
  • ∞  2 tbsp vegan fish sauce
  • ∞  2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • ∞  1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • ∞  Sriracha hot sauce to taste

  1. Prep your ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet saute the onion and garlic in canola oil until onions are translucent.
  3. Add only the crunchy veggies to the skillet. They take the longest to cook, so cook ’em first! This would be all bell peppers, bok choy stems + leaves, carrots, and snow peas. Cook until carrots are tender.
  4. In a separate sauce pot, bring half a pot of water to a boil. Since Roland’s brand of lo mein noodles comes in bunches of 4 per package, use 2 bunches. Cook according to package instructions. Set aside.
  5. In skillet, add in the softer ingredients: mushrooms + bean sprouts. Before mushrooms are fully cooked, add the cooked lo mein noodles to your skillet. NOTE: Be careful, your skillet will be VERY full.
  6. Add in sauce ingredients one by one. I never pre-make a sauce and add it; I always add each ingredient then taste-test to adjust. The measurements I’ve listed above are generally what I do (sometimes I like it more ginger-y or spicier). Thoroughly stir all ingredients in the skillet after each addition to ensure that everything gets coated.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

There are so many variations you can try, it’s all in the ingredients! To try your own variation, consult the list below or come up with your own. You may know of/prefer ingredients I haven’t listed!

Other Additional Ingredients

  • ∞  1/2 can green peas
  • ∞  Broccoli florets
  • ∞  Cauliflower florets
  • ∞  Water chestnuts
  • ∞  Bamboo
  • ∞  Sriracha
  • ∞  Meat substitutes: cubed tofu, seitan strips
  • ∞  Meat: chicken, pork, beef, shrimp

Enjoy!

 

 

Instagrams are my own

 

Vegan Hot Chocolate Recipe

The stress of final exams, the minor stress when realizing senior year of college is half over, and remembering “Sh*#—I’m still not done Christmas shopping” just makes me want to crawl into bed with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Today’s post can achieve half of that! I present you with…my new favorite Vegan Hot Chocolate recipe! I made my version with sweetened almond milk, but feel free to try sweetened soy milk, cashew milk, etc. if you prefer.  I recommend making this in a pot on the stove so the cocoa powder can fully mix and dissolve in the liquid. [NOTE:] The following ingredient list contains vague measurements because when you’re in the mood for hot chocolate it’s all about taste testing to get it just right 🙂 This recipe makes 1 serving:

  • Ingredients
  • ∞  1 1/2 – 2 cups sweetened almond milk
  • ∞  1 spoonful vanilla extract
  • ∞  2-3 spoonfuls of cocoa powder (I used unsweetened)
  • ∞  1/2 – 1 spoonful of sugar (adjust according to your taste)
  • ∞  Sprinkling of ground cinnamon (adjust according to your taste)

Pics L->R: My size “spoonful” of cocoa powder, The ingredients I used, The amount of sugar in my “spoonful of sugar”. CLICK ON PICS TO ENLARGE
  1. Pour almond milk into small pot over medium heat on the stove. Stir in vanilla extract.
  2. Add in cocoa powder, making sure each spoonful is thoroughly mixed before adding the next.
  3. Mix in a spoonful of sugar based on your taste, and a sprinkling of cinnamon if you’d like.
  4. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until ingredients are thoroughly mixed and liquid is at ideal temperature.
  5. Pour into favorite mug. Sit, sip, enjoy!

Pics L->R: Make sure to stir the cocoa often, WARNING: If you let the cocoa simmer, it has a tendency to overflow, Enjoy your creamy hot treat in your favorite mug. CLICK ON PICS TO ENLARGE

 

If you like this recipe, make a batch with your own spin on it! Try adding:

  • ∞  Marshmallows
  • ∞  Chocolate chips
  • ∞  Mint leaves
  • ∞  Pumpkin Spice
  • ∞  Coffee (flavored or not)
  • ∞  Cayenne Pepper + Cinnamon
  • ∞  Alcohol of your choice

 

Other Hot Chocolate Recipes to Try:

 

Banner photo via, Instagram pics are my own. My variation was based on this original recipe.

Not So Thankful: Holiday Pounds

Sitting down at the table with family and friends, your aim is to enjoy your day not to over think what you eat. To help you lovely ladies mindfully munch this Thursday, here are a few suggestions on what to choose while loading your plate. While I don’t enjoy stating actual calorie counts, I’ve provided them below (in the drinks section only) as a general guideline. Why I don’t provide calorie counts: they’re simply not accurate. Yes, they may be accurate for the sample recipe, but most readers prepare a recipe they know and love, expecting it to equate to the same nutritional values and it doesn’t. Instead of misleading all of you, I would rather provide general reasons for choosing THIS vs. THAT so you understand the healthier option. Enjoy!

Drinks

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Martini (135 calories)                                         ∞  Irish Coffee (200 calories)
  • ∞  Vodka & Soda (100 calories)                             ∞  Mulled Wine (300 calories)

Why: Opting for the classic martini or a simple vodka + soda will save you on calories and from a stealthy sugar source. Just make sure to choose the original over the fruitier martini varieties—those are loaded with syrups and sugary flavor enhancers. // As for the vodka and soda, you can’t go wrong with a zero calorie soda; juice or tonic will add unnecessary sugars. // Irish coffee is purely decadent with its heavy cream and whipped cream topping. Unless you’re looking to drink your dessert before even sitting down to your meal, be my guest. Otherwise, opt for coffee spiked with a little whiskey. // While the base of mulled wine is indeed antioxidant-rich red wine, the drink itself is only reminiscent of the taste. It’s cut with sugar, brandy, and choice fruit juices, adding calories you don’t even realize are there.

The Feast

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  4 oz White meat                                                  ∞  4 oz Dark meat

Why: Not only is dark meat just about twice as fatty as white meat, but your white meat selection also has significantly less cholesterol (only 69mg!).


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Mashed potatoes w/                                          ∞  Candied sweet potatoes w/
  • Turkey gravy (1/2 cup)                                            Marshmallow topping (1/2 cup)

Why: Normally sweet potatoes would win the battle over normal spuds any day, nutritionally, but sweet potatoes lose their nutritional edge once they’re covered in marshmallows and candied.


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Homemade Cranberry Sauce                             ∞  Canned Jelly Cranberry Sauce

Why: Anything homemade is generally better because you can control what goes into it! According to Self, canned sweetened cranberry sauce is mostly comprised of carbs in the form of sugar. This will leave you feeling hungry and lead to raised sugar levels that will only add to your dreaded food coma.


Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Dinner roll w/ butter                                           ∞  Cornbread w/ butter

Why: Cornbread is sweeter, saltier, and fatter than a regular roll. A regular dinner roll with a smear of butter will leave you with a bit less of a spike in blood sugar, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level.

Desserts

Choose this:                                                           Over that:

  • ∞  Pumpkin pie (1 medium slice)                                 ∞  Pecan pie (1 medium slice)

Why: Yes, pecans are healthy, but the extra load of corn syrup surpasses any health benefits that this pie may have once had. Your best bet will almost always be to choose pumpkin pie because it ranks among one of the lower-calorie slices of heaven.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

General tips for Turkey Day:

1. Eat a light breakfast: While you may think it’s a smart idea to just “save up” your calories for the big feast, eating a small meal will keep your cravings in check and prevent you from over eating.

2. If you’re the head chef for the day, or just a contributing attendee, make your dishes less caloric by swapping out butter for vegetable oil or olive oil. Also consider:

  • ∞  Reducing the amount of sugar in recipes
  • ∞  Using low-sodium + low-cal broth
  • ∞  Subbing in yogurt when recipes call for sour cream

3. Portion Control: This is a day when you typically want to try all of the dishes. Not once, but again and again. That reason alone should tell you that you should limit your first round to 1 spoonful of each. If you’re still wanting more of Grandma’s stuffing, this leaves you with room in your tummy for seconds instead of the usual secretive unbuttoning of your pants under the table. Also, think of the potential leftovers! That alone is a great incentive to limit your portions.

4. Count your Drinks: Don’t forget that drinks are liquid calories. Mind your sips to prevent alcohol AND tryptophan hangovers.

5. Don’t over think it! Thanksgiving is not the time to be nervously counting calories! Instead, mingle and enjoy your time with the ones you love. Not only will you be able to enjoy the day more, but you’ll feel less stressed! And what is better than that?

 

Source 1,2,3, Photo via

Early Planning: What to Contribute to Your Holiday Meal

Every year my mom puts me in charge of making 3 dishes to contribute to our holiday meal: 1 side dish, 1 dessert, and 1 intended for my “main course.” For those that don’t know, I follow a vegan diet. As you can imagine, that would make any mother want to pull her hair out trying to accommodate for the holidays. My mother’s simple solution: have me make the dishes to add to our meal for all to try. Much less stress, much less screaming, and much more mother-daughter bonding time in the kitchen.

This year, I’ve been checking out recipes from one of my favorite food blogs, Oh She Glows. The author, Angela, has the most scrumptious recipes — I’ve been having trouble making my final picks! So far my top 4 picks are (drum roll please)…

  1. Green Bean Casserole
  2. Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad
  3. High-Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  4. This Ain’t Grandma’s Sweet Potato Casserole

The best (and worst) part about Thanksgiving as a vegan is making sure that everyone else at the table will enjoy what you’ve made (and they are willing to actually try what you’ve made). For my family that means nothing explicitly labeled “vegan,” nothing with soy, nothing with nuts (for allergen purposes), nothing too foreign, nothing too spicy…nothing I would normally make myself. It’s more of a culinary quest for me to accommodate both my family and my own dietary needs.

What are you ladies and gents planning on making this Thanksgiving? Feel free to share all vegan and non-vegan recipes + links in your comments!

Just in case you’re curious or need a few more suggestions, these are a few other dishes that I’ve made in the past:

Photo via

Sweet Fix: Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Ever have an insatiable sweet craving that just won’t quit? This is the perfect solution: Chia Seed Pudding. I’m sure you all remember “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!” commercials–yes, these are those seeds. Who would’ve thought they’re so good for you: two tablespoons of chia seeds contain over 40% of the recommended daily amount for fiber and 18% of your daily calcium needs. Not to mention they’re low-glycemic and anti-inflammatory (click here for complete chia seed nutritional facts). Anywho, because of their high fiber content you feel fuller faster after eating them, and that fullness lasts longer than other sugary sweet solutions. This was the answer to my craving prayers–I could satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard. Plus there are so many varieties!! Below is the recipe for a simple Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding.

Makes a generous serving for 2

  • Ingredients:
  • ∞ 1 cup Sweetened Almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
  • ∞ 1/3 cup Chia seeds
  • ∞ 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • ∞  Maple syrup to taste
  • ∞  Additional almond milk may be added if you prefer a thinner/runnier consistency

Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl. Let stand for 20-30mins, stirring occasionally. If you prefer it chilled, let stand in fridge and continue to stir every 10mins. You may need to alter the flavorings to your liking, but these measurements were perfect for me.

NOTE: When Chia seeds are soaked in liquid they form a gelatinous coating over their shells resembling a tapioca pearl. I recommend using a nut-based milk such as almond milk or cashew milk because it will produce a much sweeter pudding than dairy milk or soy milk. [side]NOTE: I have never tried this with actual milk, so I was biased in that statement. For those who do not know, I follow a vegan diet–if drinking a nut “milk” weirds you out, by all means try this recipe with dairy milk!! But be sure to post in the comments section how it came out, so other non-lactose intolerant readers can try it out 🙂

  • Variations to ^^This Recipe^^:
  • ∞  1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • ∞  1/4 tsp each Cocoa/Cacao Powder
  • ∞  Chocolate Chips
  • ∞  Peanut Butter & Banana
  • ∞  Banana & Cinnamon
  • ∞  Fresh Berries, Granola & Oats
  • ∞  Shredded Coconut
  • ∞  Agave Nectar, Stevia, or other natural sweeteners instead of Maple Syrup

Banner Image via, Instagrams are my own