International Foods & TVP Rock!

It is amazing how I have gone from someone who rarely cooked anything for my family, to having a passion for making good food and an excitement about trying new recipes. I can’t say enough how amazing it is that I was earnestly praying for something to get me excited about cooking, and this all came about as an answer to prayer.

Dear Vegan Yum Yum,
Have you ever made a recipe that wasn’t de-freaking-licious? 🙂 I’m loving this recipe book because everything we’ve made so far has been amazing, the steps are perfectly explained, and the pictures are mouthwatering and get me excited about cooking.

Even if you’re not vegan, having an excellent recipe book like this will still show you how to make the most delicious vegetable dishes you’ve ever made.

For example, this awesome Apple Cider Brussels Sprouts recipe we tried from her book was awesome!

We’re having sort of an International week here, as I’ve been trying dishes from different countries every day this week! Have I mentioned how much I love international foods? They tend to be so much healthier than the average American diet of white flour and meat, and you can see how many more diseases we as Americans have when you consider the rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in this country.

Here are some of the great meals we’ve tried from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook! Some of them are on her website for you to enjoy! For the others, you’ll have to get the book! And I’m not even getting paid to tell you that, I just know you’ll love it too!

Italian
First we had several tomatoes that were about to go bad and so I decided to find a recipe that used all of them. What better dish than a pasta to use up tomatoes? We made her Rigatoni with Fresh Grape Tomato Sauce (only we used regular tomatoes). Basically you dice up the tomatoes and add some olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, basil, balsalmic vinegar, and salt. Then just toss it with some whole wheat pasta and you’re done! I don’t see this recipe on her site, but if you’re craving Italian, try this Tomato Basil Cream Pasta on her site that looks excellent!
(And her picture of the pasta cuz I haven’t made it yet!)

Asian
I also made these beautiful potstickers by hand, with a spinach TVP filling.

The recipe I used was the Sesame Ginger Seitan Dumplings recipe in her book. But I used TVP and spinach and it was excellent.

I made a double batch of these so I could freeze some for next time too! This saves me so much time in the kitchen to have all these meals ready to pull out! The kids liked helping me put the wrap circles down, and then putting the finished dumplings in the big ziplock bag for the freezer.

She has a recipe for potstickers with a different filling on her site, with step by step instructions on filling them.

And I have to stop here and mention all the reasons I love TVP! Textured Vegetable Protein is available in bulk at Maceys in their food storage section. It’s a soy-based vegetarian meat crumble that works in EVERYTHING you ever wanted to put meat in.
This is what TVP generally looks like.

Why I love TVP:
1. TVP has the flavor and texture of meat without all the crap
2. I never liked cutting up raw chicken into tiny pieces. This stuff is already in pieces!
3. I always hated browning ground beef from the freezer and trying to chop it into little bits, and draining the oil
4. All you do with TVP is add water and you’re done!!

I used TVP and chopped spinach in my potstickers, and they were delicious! And I didn’t have to feel like I was eating random ground up animal parts like I always did when I used to eat potstickers.

Italian
I also bought some boxed gnnochi so I can try this gnocchi recipe next! Here’s her picture of it:

If you checkout that link you’ll see the complicated process of making the gnocchi by hand, but I think some things are better pre-made, if it’s going to save you 3 hours in the kitchen and it only costs $2! So I bought this:

Asian
Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles

I love the restaurant Noodles, and wanted to try some different Medditeranean/Asian pastas that are similar to theirs. I’d never tried Tahini before – it’s a seseame seed butter you can find next to the peanut butter at the store. This was so different and delicious! I spent a few hours in the kitchen and made a double batch so I could freeze some for later!

I was thinking about how many ingredients I’m using now that I never knew existed before, and it’s really exciting how much I’m learning about food. I’m totally passionate about cooking and trying new recipes and flavors, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Here are some of my favorite ingredients I never knew existed before!
Tahini – A sesame nut butter found by the peanut butter
Mirin – A Japanese sweet rice wine (you can substitute dry sherry and add a dash of sugar)
Nutritional Yeast – A supplement found in whole foods, sunflower market, natural stores
Miso – An Asian fermented soybean paste found by the Tofu (by the bagged salads) in natural markets
Tamari – A low sodium soy sauce found in the Asian aisle
Balsalmic Vinegar – An amazing Italian vinegar that adds beautiful flavor to pastas & salads
Cooking Wines – White cooking wine, Marsala, and Sherry are in my fridge right now.
TVP – An amazingly easy soy-based meat substitute that goes in everything! Just add water!
Seitan – A gluten-based meat substitute that’s versatile and delicious – way better texture & flavor than tofu 😉
Almond Milk – A creamy, healthy milk-substitute that works in everything. Better than dairy milk in every way!

What are some of the ingredients you’re using now that you never knew about before?

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