Dragon Bowl

The Dragon Bowl is a menu staple at New York City’s Angelica Kitchen. It’s hearty, delicious, and colorful.  After a holiday of binge eating and too many sweets, this is a clean meal that makes you feel healthier just looking at it. Choose whatever steamed vegetables and beans you have on hand or are in season.

Dragon Bowl

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 bunch greens, i.e. kale, collards, or chard
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed or 2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or bean of your choice)
2 cups cooked seasonal vegetables. We used sweet potatoes. Other options include broccoli, squash, cauliflower, etc.

Miso tahini dressing
1 T tahini
1 T miso
3/4 cup warm water
1 t dill

Instructions:
Wash and cut greens into bite sized pieces. Steam about 5 minutes until bright green.

Cook your seasonal vegetables. If using sweet potatoes, poke holes in them using a fork and microwave on high for about 5 minutes, turning once at 3 minutes. If using broccoli, cauliflower or summer squash, steam until tender, about 5 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine miso and tahini then slowly add warm water. The sauce will thicken at first. Smooth out lumps, then add remaining water and dill.

Fill two bowls with half of the rice, greens, beans, and seasonal vegetables, then pour dressing over to taste.

Vegetarian Chicken & Dumplings

When I was a little girl, chicken and dumplings were my favorite. Mostly it was the dumplings. While that’s still the best part, adding some frozen vegetables makes this comfort food a little healthier.

Vegetarian Chicken & Dumplings

Based on this recipe from PETA

For the Dumplings:
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) margarine
3/4 cup soy milk

For the Soup:
1 T oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
8 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (half a bag)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. pepper
8 cups vegetarian “no” chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup diced vegetarian chicken (We used gardein chick’n scallopini. MorningStar Farms® Meal Starters® Chik’n Strips would also work well)

• Combine the dry ingredients for the dumplings in a bowl.
• Mix the margarine with the dry mixture until crumbly. Add the soy milk, stirring until moistened. Add more soy milk, as needed, if the mixture is too dry.
• Knead the dough for 30 seconds, then pinch and roll into 1/2-inch balls.
• Meanwhile, sauté the oil and onion for the soup in a large saucepan until the onion is translucent.
• Add the frozen vegetables and cook until soft.
• Add the flour, salt, sage, and pepper to make a thick paste. Slowly mix in the broth and bring to a boil.
• Add the vegetarian chicken, then add the dumplings one at a time, stirring gently. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.
• Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Tropical French Toast

Years ago there was a restaurant in my town that did a great vegan brunch menu. Hands down the best thing on the menu was its Hawaiian French Toast. French toast is delicious, but it’s also really easy to mess up. This morning I decided to try to recreate the French toast I enjoyed so many years ago.

I used this recipe and substituted 1/2 cup of the soy milk with pineapple juice strained from a can of pineapple chunks. After cooking the French toast until browned, I put it on a baking dish and kept warm in an oven on 350 while I made the topping. I put a can of pineapple chunks — including the remainder of the juice — in a pan on medium heat. Once the juice started bubbling, I added 1 tablespoon of flour to thicken up the sauce.

Next, I removed the toast from the oven and topped with the pineapple reduction and toasted coconut. Now I just need a tropical breeze and a vegan pina colada to top the day off.

Mean Greens: The nation’s first all-vegan dining hall

In a move that shook up college dining services in 2011, the University of North Texas in Denton became the first institution in the country to have an all-vegan dining hall. You read that right, a vegan dining hall deep in the heart of Texas.

The decision was driven in part by student demand for healthier food. And it’s been good for business too. UNT’s executive director of dining Bill McNeace has said that since opening Mean Greens, voluntary meal plans have gone up by 30 percent and opening the vegan dining hall was the only big change the school made.

What’s even more unique about Mean Greens is that all the food is made from scratch: no processed meat alternatives here. Executive chef Wanda White had to learn how to cook vegan and has done an exceptional job. On the day I visited, students could choose from chili mac, shepherd’s pie, polenta, gluten-free Mexican pizza, stir fries, pasta, and much more.  Not to mention the desserts: vegan rice crispy treats, lemon meringue pie, and an ever-present vegan soft serve ice cream machine.

The success of Mean Greens is no surprise given that more and more people, especially young people, are embracing veg eating. And it’s not just vegans who are looking for more vegan meals. More and more people are looking to eat plant-based meals even if they’re not vegetarian or vegan, as this article that just appeared in Columbus Alive reports. We’re at an important time when people realize they don’t need to eat meat, eggs, or dairy at every meal and that there are delicious alternatives to those products. I couldn’t be happier that Mean Greens is blazing the trail for university dining. It’s a good thing I don’t live close though!

Squash scones?

We’re being overrun with squash, which is not a bad thing, but coming up with ideas for different ways to use it is not always easy. I used to work at Starbucks and gazed longingly for hours at their pumpkin scones. Frosted to perfection the fact that they weren’t vegan was my only saving grace. Using that as my inspiration, I went on a quest this morning to make my own vegan version using slightly less icing. I found this recipe online and used it as the basis for my recipe.

Instead of pumpkin, I used kabocha squash which is sweet and a great replacement. I used whole wheat flour instead of spelt and had to increase the milk (I used soymilk) by about ½ cup. Add it gradually until the dry mixture is moist enough to stick together. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you add too much, so do it a little at a time.  The verdict:  Probably not as sweet as Starbucks’, but they’re fresher and healthier. 10 out of 10 say they’d eat them again. Or at least two of us.

And hey, we’re down 1/3 cup of squash. Now what to do with the rest of it?