Category Archives: Becoming a vegetarian

I’m always looking for recipes to make with chickpeas, after all they’re so healthy for you.  But I do find that much of the time they’re just something I add to a recipe so I can feel righteously healthy.  But (swoon) here’s a recipe where the chickpeas (garbonzos by any name can taste as sweet) take the  starring role, and kudos…they’re delicious!

Chickpea Picatta

by IsaChandra

Picatta is like an instant fancy dinner. One second you’re just sitting there, all normal like, but the instant that first forkful of lemony wine bliss touches your tongue you’re transported to candlelight and tablecloths, even if you’re sitting in front of the TV watching Dancing With The Stars. This version is made with chickpeas which make it superfast, and it’s served over arugula for some green. I know lots of people are accustomed to picatta with pasta, and that is the Italian tradition, but my first picatta was as a vegan and we vegans loved our mashed potatoes, so that is what I suggest serving it with. If you’d like to bulk it up even further, try a grilled or roasted portobello. Nutritional info is listed down below.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 scant cup thinly sliced shallots
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
A few dashes fresh black pepper
Generous pinch of dried thyme
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers with a little brine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cups arugula

Cooking spray

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the breadcrumbs and toast them by stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. They should turn a few shades darker.

Add the vegetable broth and wine, salt, black pepper and thyme. Turn up heat and bring to a rolling boil and let the sauce reduce by 1/2, it should take about 7 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and capers to heat through, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon and turn off the heat.

If serving with mashed potatoes, place the arugula in a wide bowl. Place mashed potatoes on top, and ladle picatta over the potatoes. The arugula will wilt and it will be lovely. If you are serving solo, just pour right over the arugula.

Servings per recipe-4
Cal from fat-30
Total fat-3.5g
Saturated fat-0g
Trans fat-0g
Cholesterol- 0mg
Vitamin A-20%
Vitamin C-25%


Cold Sesame Noodles

I’m a huge fan of cold sesame noodles.  I have two packages of it sitting in my fridge right now, courtesy of my local Asian market.  Those have peanut butter as a main ingredient.  Fine with me, but the debate rages on as to peanut butter versus sesame paste.  Most recipes do feature peanut butter, but here’s one today with nary a peanut in sight courtesy of Serious Eats.

Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Cold Sesame Noodles

Posted by Blake Royer, June 2, 2011

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

While many of you could recognize cold sesame noodles and have probably eaten them more than a couple times, there seems to be little consensus about what goes into this popular dish. It should be a simple affair, but many recipes tend to overcomplicate things and lose the appeal of the dish’s simplicity. It should be made with Chinese noodles—the kind that retain more chewiness than regular Italian pasta—and the sauce should be creamy, salty, tart, and fiery.

I’m particularly taken with this version from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn,which is the first I’ve seen that relies completely on tahini rather than using peanut butter and excessive amounts of sesame oil. The result isn’t heavy or gummy—it’s lighter and creamier than any version I’ve tried. Along with the usual suspects in this dish—soy sauce, ginger, garlic—it’s got the hallmark balance of flavors that make cold sesame noodles so pleasing.


serves serves 4, active time 5 minutes, total time 15 minutes

  • 1 pound Chinese egg noodles, such as lo mein
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 3/4 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • Sriracha hot sauce or chili oil (to taste)


  1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the noodles. When the water returns to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until just tender according to package directions. Drain well, rinse with cold water, then toss with sesame oil.

  2.  In the meantime, combine the sesame paste with water and whisk to combine, thinning into the consistency of thick cream. In a second bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and garlic until the sugar is dissolved. Combine the mixtures, then stir in the ginger and almost all the scallion.

  3.  Toss noodles with sauce and season to taste with more soy sauce and hot sauce or chile oil. Garnish with remaining scallion.

Printed from

© Serious Eats

Tofu and Broccoli with Peanut Sauce from Molly Katzen

I don’t mind Tofu.  I don’t crave it either.  But I do love Peanut Sauce so I decided, in the spirit of having more vegetarian meals per week to give this a try.  Even the husband liked it!  Served with Brown Rice it makes a tasty meal.

Tofu and Broccoli with Peanut Sauce from Molly Katzen

By Carol Bullock on June 02, 2001

PhotoPhoto by spatchcock
43 Reviews
  • timer
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Servings: 6

About This Recipe

“The combination of ingredients in this recipe I have to say is perfect. Really delicious and nutritious. This is a Mollie Katzen recipe. ”


The Sauce

      • 1/2 cup unprocessed peanut butter
      • 1/2 cup hot water
      • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons tamari
      • 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
      • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

The Saute

    • 1 (1 lb) bunch fresh broccoli ( frozen will do)
    • 3 tablespoons oil
    • 8 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 lb tofu, cut into small cubes
    • 3 dashes salt
    • 2 cups thinly-sliced onions
    • 1 cup coarsely-chopped raw peanuts
    • 2 -3 tablespoons tamari


  1. ———–TheSauce———–.
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the peanut butter and hot water until uniform in consistency.
  3. Whisk in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Set aside.
  5. ——-TheSaute————-.
  6. Cut off the bottom half-inch of the broccoli stems.
  7. Shave off the tough outer skins of the stalks with a sharp paring knife or a vegetable peeler.
Page 2 of 3Tofu and Broccoli with Peanut Sauce (cont.)

Directions (cont.)

  1. Cut the stalks diagonally into thin slices.
  2. Coarsely chop the flowerettes.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Begin heating the large skillet.
  5. When it is hot add 1 tbsp of the oil.
  6. Add half the garlic.
  7. Salt lightly.
  8. Sauté over medium heat for 1 minute, then add the tofu chunks.
  9. Turn the heat up a little, and stir-fry the tofu for 5-8 minutes.
  10. Transfer it, including whatever liquid it might have expressed, to the saucepanful of peanut sauce.
  11. Mix together gently.
  12. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel, and return it to the stove to begin heating once again.
  13. Add the remaining garlic.
  14. Salt lightly.
  15. Add the onions, and some black pepper.
  16. Sauté, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the onions are soft.
  17. On another burner, begin heating the peanut-tofu sauce on a low heat.
  18. It shouldn’t actually cook-it only needs to be warmed through.
  19. Add the broccoli and the chopped peanuts to the skillet.
  20. Add 2-3 tbsp tamari and stir-fry over medium-high heat until the broccoli is bright green and just tender.
  21. Pour the heated peanut sauce over the sauté.
  22. Toss everything gently until everything is coated with everything else.
  23. Serve over long-grained white or brown rice (basmati is good).

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

There I was in Whole Foods when I spied this mound of beautiful white Acorn Squash.  Enthusiastically, I bought two.  The first one I just baked with a little maple syrup and served as a side dish.  But last night I wanted to make the second one the star of dinner, and rather than do a bread crumb/celery/nut stuffing, I decided to play with a Quinoa stuffing.  The result was delicious!

Quinoa isn’t the first grain that comes to mind when I am preparing dinner.  But every time I do remember to make it, I enjoy it’s crunchy, nutty flavor.  It’s particularly excellent in a vegetarian meal since it is a relatively complete protein source.  I’m always looking for interesting ways to use it.


1 acorn squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
Olive oil
2/3 cup of water
1/2 tsp salt (I use sea salt, kosher salt is good too)
1/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup whatever nuts you have on hand (I used pecans), chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 TBS dried fruits (I prefer dried cherries or cranberries, but you can also use apricots, raisins, even a mix of dried fruits), chopped if the pieces are large
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 TBS maple syrup

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Rub squash with olive oil on both cut side and skin.  Place skin side down in a glass baking dish. Bake for approximately an hour.
  • Combine water, salt and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Reduce temperature and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside.
  • Toast nuts in a saute pan for a few minutes (don’t let them burn).  Remove and set aside.
  • Add about 1 TBS of olive oil in the same pan.  Saute onion and garlic until soft and translucent.
  • Add dried fruits, nuts, cinnamon, chili powder, salt and cumin. Stir.
  • Add the cooked quinoa.  Stir and taste to adjust seasonings.
  • Remove acorn squash from the oven and fill with the quinoa mixture. Drizzle with maple syrup.
  • Return to the oven for about 10 minutes.

I served this with a baby greens salad with chopped pears, pignoli nuts and goat cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette.

A Vegetarian by any name….

[picapp src=”7/7/9/8/Veg_with_Edge_619f.jpg?adImageId=5071908&imageId=5607566″ width=”500″ height=”362″ /]I have been reading and having conversations with people about what constitutes being a vegetarian.  Not surprisingly, while there is a definition of vegetarian, there are all kinds of variations.

Strictly speaking, vegetarianism is the practice of following a diet based on plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds.  But there are vegetarians who eat no dairy products or eggs, and those that do include these in their diet.  According to my readings, lacto-ovo-vegetarians are the most common type of vegetarian in the U.S.

But like the old joke, put two vegetarians in a room and get three different definitions of what that means.

Vegans are vegetarians that eat ONLY plant-based foods.  Some go so far as to even avoid honey, choosing instead maple syrup or agave.   And to take it a step further, there are raw-food Vegans, wo don’t cook their foods at all, choosing instead to eat all their food uncooked.

Ovo vegetarians, while they don’t eat dairy products, do include eggs.

Lacto vegetarians, include dairy products, but no eggs or other animal proteins.

Pesca vegetarians eat plant based foods, eggs, dairy foods plus fish and shellfish.

Pollo vegetarians eat plant based foods, eggs, dairy foods, plus poultry.  Some eat fish as well, many don’t.

I guess, at least for now, that makes me a pesca-pollo-lacto-ovo semi-vegetarian (almost.)

Can I become a vegetarian?

Veggies photo by Masahiro IharaI’ll admit it.  I’m a carnivore.  Dad was a butcher.  There’s nothing I like better than a steak dinner.  And yet…from everything I’ve read, red meat just isn’t good for you, while vegetables, legumes and fruits are very good for you.  I know there are lots of other reasons people choose to go vegetarian (or vegan) such as animal protection and the environment, but for me, the main reason is wellness.

I’ll admit that I’m also not quite ready to become a whole-hog (pardon the expression) vegetarian.  But in the interest of health, I am seeking to cut my meat consumption way down, and up the percentage of vegetarian meals (or almost vegetarian meals) I prepare.

Vastly decreasing animal protein consumption has quite a few benefits!   It’s one of the simplest ways to decrease fat consumption…with all the accompanying benefits of decreasing rates of heart disease and cancer.  As a result you are also more likely to lose or maintain weight loss.  If you have high cholesterol, switching to a vegetarian diet will lower it by as much as 20%!  In general, a vegetarian diet costs less than an animal protein diet.  I could go on, but I’m not so much trying to convince you (or me) as I am to just say, switching to an almost vegetarian diet is good for you and me.

Recognizing that many others, like me, are not willing to give up all meat, all poultry and all fish and seafood, my goal is to showcase the foods and recipes out there that will work for vegetarians and almost vegetarians.

Start slowly.  That’s what I’m doing.

Unless you have a compelling reason for diving into becoming vegetarian overnight, take baby steps.  Eliminate animal protein from breakfast and lunch, and start incorporating one veggie meal a week.  Then two…and so on.  For the non veggie meals, start decreasing the portion size to no more than 6 oz., preferably 4.  And make the accompanying vegetables and grains the star of the meal, while the animal protein becomes the garnish or side dish.

Part of going from massive carnivore to [almost] vegetarian is rethinking what a dinner looks like.  It doesn’t have to be an entree and two side dishes as is the custom in most US homes.  More about that later.

For now, make it easy on yourself by starting with familiar meals.

A dinner of eggplant parmesan or vegetable lasagne along with salad is a a familiar and tasty vegetarian meal.  Try that this week!