Thai Peanut Noodles With Sugar Snap Peas, Shiitakes, and Tofu or Plant-based Chicken

The great thing about noodle dishes is that it’s a meal in itself. This dish is a favorite because it’s tasty, and the sauce has protein because it’s made with peanuts.

This Thai peanut noodles dish is versatile because for a main protein, you can go with a high-protein fried or baked tofu, or a plant-based chicken like Gardein Chik’n Strips (minus the Teriyaki sauce) or Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips which I used in the photo.

The easiest noodle to use is spaghetti. Trader Joe’s has a great gluten-free spaghetti noodle made from brown rice which is what I used. For a little more protein, TJ’s also has a brown rice and quinoa spaghetti noodle with 5g of protein per serving and 2g of fiber.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of cooked spaghetti noodles
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms sliced into slivers
  • Shred 1 small carrot with a grater
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 cup of cubed fried or baked tofu, or plant-based chicken cut into cubes*
  • (optional) Sesame seeds or flax seeds for garnish

*If using plant-based chicken, pan cook the cubed chicken in a little oil for a few minutes to brown it and crisp the edges a bit. Put to the side until ready to add to the noodles.

* One of my favorite pre-baked tofus to use for this dish is Nasoya Sesame Ginger Tofu Baked.

The peanut sauce (options):

Pre-made peanut sauce

For quick ease, you can just buy the peanut sauce in a bottle like Thai Kitchen Peanut Satay Sauce. To thin the sauce so it’s easier to stir into the noodles, use some left over water from your cooked noodles.

Put a few tablespoons of the peanut sauce into a small mixing bowl. Slowly pour a little of the warm spaghetti water like a tablespoon into the sauce then stir to start thinning the peanut sauce. Repeat this process until you get to the thickness you like.

Homemade peanut sauce

If you want to make the peanut sauce at home it is pretty easy. Here are the ingredients.

  • 1/3 cup (5 tablespoons) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 – 1″ piece of ginger grated
  • 1 small garlic clove minced
  • Red pepper flakes (if you want to add heat)

Put the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for like 20 seconds. Not long. You just want to melt the peanut butter a bit.

Put the rest of the ingredients into the bowl with the melted peanut butter. Mix really well.

Use some left over water from your cooked noodles and slowly pour a little of the warm water like a tablespoon into the sauce then stir to start thinning the peanut sauce. Repeat this process until you get to the thickness you like.

 

In a small wok or pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil or avocado oil.

Sautee the chopped onion in oil until the onion is softened.

Toss in the shiitake mushrooms, and sugar snap peas, and continue to stir fry until the mushrooms soften.

Toss in the shredded carrot, and mix in well. Cook for a quick minute just to soften the carrot a bit.

Start with a small amount of peanut sauce and pour into the noodles. Mix well to coat the noodles in sauce. Continue to mix in more peanut sauce until you reach the amount of coating to your liking.

Toss in the cooked tofu or plant-based chicken, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and snap peas in with the noodles and mix well.

Place noodles on plate and top with chopped green onion and sesame seeds or flax seeds like I did in the photo.

Enjoy!

Video: Highlights of the 2018 Sacramento Vegfest

I went to the Sacramento 2018 Vegfest and it was a fun event! I’m trying to go to more vegan and veg events this year so I can meet new plant-eating friends and discover new foods. Sacramento is not known to be a huge veg town so it’s great to see that in its third year, the crowds were pretty big for something like Vegfest.

I thought it was particularly wonderful to see so many families and kids. In fact, there was a whole area just for kids to play games and learn more about vegan living.

Some of my favorite vegan foods had a booth there like Cultured Kitchen who makes a vegan butter called “Better Buttah.” There Garlic Chive buttah is so good and makes an amazing garlic bread!

Jada Spices who makes a vegan Chicken seasoning salt in various flavors that has a remarkable chicken-like flavoring. The salt is great for the flexitarians who are transitioning away from meat yet still want some meat tastes.

There was also a vegan Ethiopian food booth, and I wanted to get a plate but the line was so long the whole time I was there.  You’ll see their food in the video. The line for vegan Soul Food was three times as long. Wow!

It’s exciting to see people here in Sacramento lining up for delicious vegan food.

Added Facts About Meat Marketing Related to the New PETA Commercial Featuring Emmy Award Winning Actor James Cromwell

Normally, even for a plant-based eater, I cringe when I see PETA commercials because they usually go too far with the condemnation and gore. It doesn’t help the image of the vegan movement.

However, PETA is learning, and they created this commercial called, “Redemption” featuring Oscar nominated and Emmy winning actor James Cromwell as a priest giving confession to a meat industry marketing executive.

This one is worth watching because there are many truths about the marketing of meat, and the casting of Cromwell as the priest is brilliant! I would view this commercial as one of those “If priests said what they really want to,” or “if the meat industry really was honest.”

Most know James as an animal rights activist, and as an actor from the movie Babe where he played farmer Arthur Hoggett and was nominated for an Oscar. Doing Babe motivated James to go vegan. He won the Emmy for his role as Dr. Arthur Arden in American Horror Story. James has even played the Pope twice in the movies, “Pope Pius XII” and “Pope John Paul II.”

PETA wanted to buy air time for this commercial for the 2018 Super Bowl but were told they had to pay $10+ million up front before it was even considered. The going rate for Super Bowl ad spots is $5 million. You do the math here.

I think it’s also good to have some data to backup this Redemption commercial so consumers can have a better understanding with really how much they are being spun about the meat they buy.

Here are some of the facts:

The phrase “Humanely raised” is a marketing term. It’s subjective. There is no legal or federal definition of “humanely raised.” If you go to the USDA site’s section on food definitions, you will not find “humanely raised.” There are third party labels like “Certified Humane” but the standards for third party labeling are not federally determined or regulated.

There is not ONE federal law that protects farm animals during their life. Some states have their own laws. In fact, there are only four Animal Welfare laws at the federal level. Two of those four laws protect farm animals at the end of their life: the first one is called the 28-Hour Law which covers the animals during transport from farm to slaughter, and the second is the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act which surprisingly only covers cows, pigs, veal, and lamb but does not cover chickens, turkeys, ducks, or any other birds.

Broiler chickens raised in factory farms, the “healthy meat,” on average only live 6 weeks and are fed primarily a GMO corn and soy diet because it’s the cheapest protein along with synthetic amino acids that can help them grow the fastest in a short period of time. In human terms, that rotisserie chicken from the grocery store you are eating is a newborn. A regular chicken can live 20 years.

99% of farm animals in the US are raised in factory farms. In 2017, over 9 BILLION animals were slaughtered for food. That image of happy cows, chickens and pigs roaming in lush green open fields represents only 1% of meat which primarily comes from small family owned farms which are sadly struggling, going under or being bought out by the large meatpacking corporations.

Just FOUR corporations control the bulk of the US meatpacking industry: Tyson, JBS USA, Cargill, and Smithfield. Tyson on average slaughters 125,000 cows per week. This is the human population equivalent of the city of Berkeley, CA. Tyson has the capacity to slaughter 175,000 cows per week.

Our government is funding most commercials and marketing campaigns you see that feature beef, pork, dairy, and eggs through Commodity Check-off programs. There is not one Check-off program for vegetables, whole grains, or legumes (other than soy mostly for livestock feed). There is a check-off program for Christmas trees.

And lastly, when you hear someone go on about the “vegan agenda” remember there is no Big Kale, United Council of Veggie Burger Manufacturers, or the Concerned Scientists for Beans where meat, dairy, and eggs special interest groups spend millions of dollars on lobbying and contribute millions to political campaigns.

Low Carb: Roasted Butternut Squash Riced Cauliflower Risotto

I workout using Daily Burn, which I LOVE, and last week after the #DB365 workout, they had on chef Rocco DiSpirito to share some of his most popular plant-based recipes from his new cookbook. One of the dishes he shared was a risotto made with riced cauliflower instead of Arborio rice.

I was so intrigued by making a risotto out of cauliflower because it’s much lower carb than the Arborio rice version. The dish looked so good I wanted to try out the recipe. I am trying to like riced cauliflower but find it challenging because the Asian in me is like cauliflower in rice form is still not rice. Nope. Hard stop.

However….

I love cauliflower and I have been working on cutting down on my rice consumption because I do eat too much and the high glycemic index of white rice is not great in my body. I do eat brown Jasmine rice at home but eating out it’s always white.

I looked online, and fortunately, Rocco’s risotto recipe is available online at Epicurious.

I modified Rocco’s recipe because:

  1. I do not have the patience to “rice” cauliflower from scratch so I went to Trader Joe’s and bought their pre-made cauliflower rice in a 16 oz. bag.
  2. I had some leftover roasted butternut squash from dinner the other night. Butternut squash risotto is my favorite!
  3. I made my risotto vegan using Violife parmesan wedge. This stuff is AWESOME!!

I really did enjoy this risotto. Besides using the Violife parm, what made this dish the tops was using Better than Bouillon No Chicken base for the stock. I cannot believe this buillion is vegan because it tastes just like chicken stock. It really is incredible. I would also try a mushroom stock for this risotto.

I didn’t feel like I was missing the rice too much, and instead felt like I discovered  a new way to enjoy cauliflower.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower or 2-cups (16 oz) of riced cauliflower from scratch
  • 1-2/3 cup plant-based stock*
  • 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese

*I recommend using the Better Than Bouillon vegan No Chicken base, but a vegetable or mushroom stock is good too.

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent
  • Add the cauliflower and stock, and mix well.
  • Stirring occasionally, cook until the cauliflower softens but still has a little crunch, and where enough liquid has evaporated to make the mixture creamy which could take about 8-9 minutes. At 6 minutes in, stir in the butternut squash.
  • Take the skillet off the burner and let the risotto sit for about 10-15 minutes and then mix in the parmesan. In that time, the broth will continue to absorb into the cauliflower a little bit more.

Later, I also added in some sweet peas for extra protein. The butternut squash cauliflower risotto is fabulous with the peas too!

 

Life of an Advocate: MLK Jr. Reminds Me “You Died When You Refused to Stand Up for Truth”

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr day, below is a quote from his “But If Not…” speech that is often shared, but the last paragraph is most often left out which I think is actually the most powerful and poignant point of the whole piece. Here is the missing piece.

“You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

These compelling words from MLK and the fears he speaks of in this speech are timely for me because this is the exact fear that has been holding me back. If you are a changemaker, an activist, an idealist, a lightworker, you most likely have held similar fears. Recently, what MLK speaks of is the personal issue I have been consciously working on reconciling.

You know that thing you resist the most is actually the thing you need to work on the most. This is mine.

 

Will you choose courage for truth, justice, and the higher good of all, or will you choose regret. Because that is what will happen if you continue to hide and suppress that calling in the name of the safety of silence.

This specific wisdom and call for action from MLK is so needed right now especially for those of you who have been feeling a calling inside of you for a long time and you have yet to move forward on it because of fear.

You are needed, now, my fellow changemakers.

To hear these words in MLK’s voice will shift you. Listen to the video.

He was killed one year after giving this speech, at the young age of 39. MLK was most definitely an old, wise soul. I can almost imagine if we could talk to him on the other side, he’d say that he has no regret for standing up for what he believed in and not letting fear stop him from his purpose work.

Can you imagine if MLK let fear hold him back and he stayed quiet, and we never heard from him?

What a great loss to the advancement of humanity. And no doubt, he had no idea what the impact of standing in his truth, and shining his light would have years beyond his physical time on earth.

My bestie and I were having a conversation all weekend about the life of a lightworker, and how I have been struggling harmonizing my spirit life, and my earthbound life. I associate joy with one, and brutality with the other, and that’s a problem because this spirit is contained in an earthbound human body.

I do not fear failure or success. I’ve experienced both and understand its the ups and downs of the process, the delight and suspense of the journey. I have deep seated fears and anxiety because I have experienced painful loss and physical violence when I speak truth and step into my light and shine that light on the dark.

I’ve been hiding, staying off the radar for a long time, and for good reason. Time for healing is important too. I won’t diminish the significance and need for that time.

But, there comes a time when hiding no longer serves the higher good for me. My need for safety which does serve me well also inhibits, refrains, this deep calling that burns inside me and aches for release. It also inhibits me in my relationships and developing new ones, more specifically in love and work co-collaborators.

The last paragraph in this MLK quote makes me see that in my perceived sense of safety, at this point, I choose an internal death.

I cannot live like that, but I also do not know how to reconcile this calling for truth and justice with paralyzing fear and need for safety because the idea of being literally beaten and assaulted again mitigates me. I live with PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks so it’s very real.

My biggest lesson in this has been learning self care, compassion, and patience but also tenacity, perseverance, and strength.

On the upside, I am fully conscious of what currently holds me back, and I can observe it and no longer make it a part of my identity like I have for a long time. That evolution I feel good about. The work now is to figure out how to move forward because I have work to do. At The Flexi 21, my boss is Mother Nature, and I have signed up to be of service for the higher good of all.

If you are feeling this too, and it has stopped you, held you back, I so get it. If you have been able to find a way to move forward, first bravo! and I would love to hear how you did it, how you manage.

**********
From MLK Jr, “But If Not…”

“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right. You died when you refused to stand up for truth. You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps Is Doing Commercials For Plant-based Milk And Why That’s a BIG Deal

It’s not often I get excited about TV commercials, but I think this new advertising campaign from Silk featuring Olympic Gold mega-medalist Michael Phelps is awesome and a BIG deal.

Michael is not vegan or plant-based, but images of the person who has won the most Gold medals in the entire history of the Olympics is a strong and powerful message that plant-based milk does a body better.

This new Phelps campaign is also a big deal because it features two men. Silk is helping to change the perception that real men don’t drink plants. There is in fact a surge in pro athletes going vegan. Now, the main man in the commercial is not macho. In fact, he is the dad bod personified, but he wants to be healthier, be better. More people can relate to this guy’s story.

Meat and cows are often perceived as masculine, and plants are seen as more feminine. Marketing research has found that in the mainstream vegetarian men are no longer perceived as being less masculine than meat-eaters. However, vegan men are still seen as effeminate. Take a look at these vegan bodybuilders who drink plant-based milks. I think most will argee that these guys look like really, strong men.

This campaign from Silk is coming out as the Winter Olympics in South Korea are about to begin. During recent ice skating trials, I noticed a big push for a “Milk Life” campaign with commercials showing winter Olympic athletes powered by cow milk. Looks like Got Milk has evolved to Milk Life where drinking cow milk is a lifestyle not just a beverage.

This Milk Life campaign is funded by America’s Milk Companies and MilkPEP, The Milk Processor Education Program in Washington, D.C. “funded by the nation’s milk companies, and dedicated to educating consumers and increasing consumption of fluid milk. MilkPEP activities are led by a 20-member board and monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service.”

That’s code for “paid for and managed by Check-off program money from our government.”

Milk Life even takes a swing at soy milk pointing out that not drinking cow milk could negatively impact your diet and health. Really? There is more than enough data that the opposite is true. Or could it be that since cow milk sales have been plummeting and plant-based milk sales have been skyrocketing, desperate measures are still in play.

From current marketing research, half of Americans consume plant-based milk which includes 68% of parents and 54% of children under age 18. There is also better profits in plant-based milk. Silk had a profit margin in 2014 of 4.08% versus a 1.94% profit margin on whole milk (Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board‘s January 2014 figures). Does Milk Life mention dairy cows raised on factory farms and their impact on climate change? Yeah, of course not.

It’s awesome that Silk landed Phelps and launched this campaign to push plant-based milk to raise the image and make it look cool to drink milk not from a cow.

Here are a couple of the other spots in the Silk campaign. They are funny!

And this one.

Bravo SILK! Great job with this campaign.

Product Review: The Impossible Burger. The Plant-based Burger That Will Get You To Think Twice About Beef

The geek in me is one of those early adopters who likes to be one of the first to try something new and innovative. When I first heard about the Impossible Burger, I seriously could not wait to try it more because I was intrigued by the way the texture of the burger looked from the photos. The patty looked like ground beef to me.

I was quickly sold on the premise, “High on taste. Low on impact.” Here is a burger that has 1/8 the carbon footprint and tastes like beef. From a marketing perspective, brilliant!

I first tried the Impossible Burger at Cockscomb in SF. Their Impossible burger comes with lettuce, dijon, Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and bread & butter pickles. I didn’t get the cheese because I’m allergic to dairy. Here is a video I did at Cockscomb where you can see the burger and my final opinion on whether the Impossible Burger lives up to the hype.

Spoiler alert. OMG! Is this thing for real? It’s making me see the world differently already.

 

What’s mind blowing about the Impossible Burger is that this isn’t your dad’s veggie burger. If you closed your eyes and took a bite, you’d think it was a regular beef burger. It’s like Impossible re-imagined ground beef using plants instead of cows. It’s like if Mother Nature said okay if we could go back in time and create beef again, we could do it like this. No sentient beings need to be killed. No factory farms required.

The Impossible Burger is a great example of Clean Proteins, protein sources that are akin to Clean Energy. Clean Proteins are proteins that are produced with low carbon and low eco footprints. It’s all about low impact to help stop climate change, further environmental damage, and more threats to human health caused by industrial animal agriculture while having a delicious time doing it.

One thing that surprised me was how good this burger is without ketchup. Sorry, not sorry, but I’m one of those people who puts ketchup on everything. Can’t help it. I LOVE my ketchup! The way the Cockscomb burger is prepared is actually better without ketchup. Never thought I’d say that about a burger.

My only criticism of the Impossible Burger is that it’s primarily being served at high-end restaurants where the going price is averaging almost $20…a burger. At Cockscomb, it was $19 without fries.

But, I get why Impossible is starting with the high-end to make it an aspirational want. It’s a great approach to make plant-based eating cool and desirable. Umami Burger partnered with Jaden Smith for a special Impossible slider trio to help raise donations for Hurricane Relief Efforts.

Fortunately, the Impossible Burger is starting to come down in price because they have opened a new manufacturing facility here in the Bay Area which can crank out 1 million pounds of plant-based meat per month at full capacity, which can supply about 1,000 restaurants.

At Gott’s Roadside, they are selling an Impossible Cheeseburger for $12.99 without fries. Their burger is served with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles & secret sauce on a toasted egg bun. Sadly though, at least to me because I like bread, to make it vegan you have to nix the cheese and order the burger with a lettuce wrap so it ends up looking like the In N’ Out “Protein Style” burger. All of Gott’s buns including their gluten-free bun is made with egg.

Here is the Impossible Burger at Gott’s without cheese. I already knew about the Gott’s egg buns beforehand so I brang a vegan hamburger bun and swapped it after taking the photos so I could eat it. The first photo in the post cover image is the same Gott’s Impossible Burger.

Again, SO GOOD! The patty is a little slimmer than the one at Cockscomb but it’s just as good and meaty. You can see in this closer up photo that the texture of the Impossible Burger looks like ground beef. Gott’s also features Sir Kensington’s Spicy Brown mustard which is amazing!

Here is the FAQs about the Impossible Burger which includes the nutritional information and a locator so you can find out if the Impossible Burger is being offered at a restaurant near you. Impossible does not have any retails sales yet so you cannot buy it at a grocery currently. When that happens, I’ll be one of the first people at the grocery store because I want to make some Impossible spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes.

Have you tried the Impossible Burger? What did you think of it?

 

Roasted Eggplant With Purple Thai Basil Flowers and Peppers

This eggplant dish is so pretty and tasty! I actually stared at my dish for a while just to admire the beauty of Mother Nature’s work. I love all the purple colors and since 2018 is the year Pantone named “Ultra Violet” color of the year, this dish is a perfect fit.

 

I found this beautiful Thai basil bursting with purple flowers at the farmers market. Flowering plants are a fun way to add some beautiful garnish to your dishes. Next to the basil were some cool looking purple Thai peppers. I love me some purple colored foods, and jumped at the chance to make a purple power dish.

For the eggplant, I went with the smaller rounder style eggplant versus the longer skinnier eggplant just to play with some shapes.

I roasted the eggplant because I really love the flavors and textures you get from roasting. Roasting vegetables is not a traditional Asian style of cooking but hey, it’s fun to fuse different styles together, right?

For the sauce, I used gluten-free tamari to make the dish gluten-free.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 pound of round eggplant cut into quarter pieces
  • 12-14 Thai peppers (depending on how spicy you want the dish)
  • 3/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves
  • Thai basil flowers for garnish
  • Chopped red jalapeno (optional for topping)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbs gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tbs organic brown sugar
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Let’s start cooking

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spread the eggplant pieces out and cover the eggplant with olive oil. Sprinkle a few dashes of sea salt over the eggplant pieces. Use just a small amount of salt because the tamari used in the sauce is high in salt.

Roast for 25 minutes. Do not remove the sheet yet. Coat the Thai peppers with some olive oil and toss onto the sheet with the eggplant and roast for an additional 5 minutes. We are basically sweating the peppers a bit so they become a little softer.

Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool down. The eggplant should be soft to the touch, not too mushy.

To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the tamari, brown sugar, garlic and garlic powder, and mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat on medium a wok or large sauce pan. Put the roasted eggplant and peppers into the pan. Toss in the chopped basil leaves and pour the sauce over the eggplant. Mix well.

Cover the wok or pan, and let the eggplant simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Take the pan off the burner and let the eggplant cool down.

When plating your eggplant and pepper dish, garnish on top with some of the beautiful flowers and sprinkle on some chopped red Jalapeno like I did in the photo for some fun burst of color.

Enjoy!

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