One of the things people often say when they hear I’m vegetarian (and have been trying vegan on for size over the past month) – is how it must take up a lot of my time. It’s true that I like to cook for myself to ensure I’m getting the proper nutrients, am prepared with healthy snacks if I get peckish on-the-go and am getting bits of my food groups throughout the day. But I also, aside from vegetarianism, like to know exactly what goes into my meal – a plus that comes with any home cooking and recipes from scratch.
Like all healthy eating, it’s of course beneficial to buy groceries instead of eat out and be very aware of what you’re consuming. I’m not talking calorie-counting, because frankly, I’m not big on that. I mean knowing the ingredients – hidden, obvious, good and bad – that are in your meals. Regardless of what store-bought things say about “reduced fat”, “organic”, “diet-friendly” or “low-sodium” – flip over the label and take a glance. In some cases, you might be disappointed to find that there is a scary and long list of unpronounceable ingredients that you’ve never heard of or a handful of tricky chemicals that are the reason the item can claim to have fewer calories. I used to love the less-sugary taste of diet pop, but now only have it on a very rare occasion because I finally snapped into understanding all of the things that made it diet. Not very nice things.
So, what better fun than to cook at home – make your own sauces, marinades, soups, experiment, succeed and skip all of that junk that goes into some labels! Sure, it might take a few hours and dollars to commit to buying good groceries and cooking decent meals for yourself. Vegetarian or not, this is inevitable. But it’s worth it – you absolutely will save money, won’t go hungry, you’ll feel great about what you’re feeding your body and be able to cook fabulous meals for your friends. Also, a lovely new thing I’ve found is that in buying proper groceries and cooking at home, I’ll often look at a recipe and immediately assume I won’t have any of the ingredients – before realizing, “Hey! I have more than half of them”, because I’ve committed to stocking the cupboards and fridge when needed.
This recipe is a great example of putting simple ingredients together yourself – adding in or leaving out what you don’t have or want – and ending with a restaurant-quality dish to show for it. Easy, delicious and not requiring any additional flavouring aside from what you’ve blended yourself – this recipe shows that it doesn’t get much better than home cooking… in a nutshell.
*Recipe courtesy of http://peasandthankyou.com
Vegan and Gluten-Free Asian Noodle Dish with Peanut ‘Mmmm’ Sauce
Peanut Mmmm Sauce:
1/2 cup light coconut milk, 1/2 cup tomatoes in juice (I used fresh), 1/4 cup natural peanut butter, 3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp of lime juice, 2 tsp minced ginger (optional but delish), 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup, sriracha thai chili sauce to taste (again, optional but delish)
Noodle Salad: 8 oz. rice noodles, 1 chopped red pepper, 2 cups chopped bok choy (my favourite cooked veggie), 2 cups edamame, 1/4 cups chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Garnish: 1/4 c. peanuts, chopped
- For the sauce, combine coconut milk, tomatoes, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, syrup in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a food blender, you can heat all of this in a skillet – it will take more time with a slightly different consistency, but same idea.
- Adjust the heat to taste by adding more sriracha.
- Meanwhile, I prepared the whole package of rice noodles on a separate element. Drain and set aside.
- Add cooking spray or a little oil to a large skillet and place over medium high heat. Add bell pepper, bok choy and edamame and stir fry until a little tender for about 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add drained noodles directly to the pan.
- And then add the sauce, toss to coat the noodles and veggies.
- Serve hot if you want the sauce fresh and creamy, or refrigerate for a flavourful cold noodle salad!