Meatless Monday: Quinoa stirfry with broccoli, mango, cashews and spicy ginger sauce

Meatless Monday!

Let’s talk quinoa, a great addition to any meatless diet. Pronounced KEEN-wah, in case you were wondering. But what is it? It’s actually a seed, but is considered a whole grain. Most importantly, quinoa is the only plant-based source of complete protein. Whoa, what’s that? Yes – there is a plant that contains all 9 essential amino acids: quinoa! And it packs 7g of protein per serving compared to brown rice’s 4g. So it’s got more of a better quality protein. I love it. I will admit it took me a little while to come around to it. I’m much more of a fan of a hot quinoa dish than a cold quinoa salad, though. (Quinoa can replace other grains in soups, stirfries, or Mexican dishes, OR try it in place of oatmeal for breakfast.)

One particular amino acid that quinoa is high in is lysine, which is missing from wheat and rice. Lysine aids in tissue growth and repair, aiding the immune system. (Lysine is often used as a supplement to quickly banish cold sores.) Quinoa also is packed with fiber and minerals. It’s gluten-free, and considered an easily digested grain. Win-win-win.

This dish is vegan, gluten-free*,with no added salt, no added refined sugars, no extracted oils. It’s packed with fiber and healthy fats.

*contains no added gluten ingredients, but make sure you double check all brands of products like vegetable broth or soy sauce that you are using, as many will contain gluten or wheat ingredients.


  • 1cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups water or reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks (this would work well with pineapple too)
  • 6 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 2 cups frozen diced pepper/onion mix
  • 1 cup raw cashews


  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup raw agave nectar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 ½ Tbsp Bragg’s (or reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • ½ Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch


  1. Prepare quinoa according to package. (Typically, add 2 cups water or reduced-sodium vegetable broth and 1 cup quinoa. Bring to boil. Cover, and lower for a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Quinoa will be done when grain is translucent and has little spirals coming out of it.)
  2. While quinoa is simmering, steam broccoli in covered pot for approx 10 minutes.
  3. Add mango and pepper/onion mix to broccoli and steam for approx 5-7 minutes until heated thoroughly.
  4. Stir in cashews and remove from heat.
  5. To prepare sauce, add all ingredients except corn starch to a small sauce pan and bring to low boil.
  6. Whisk in corn starch until thickened and thoroughly dissolved.
  7. Once quinoa is finished, add quinoa to broccoli/mango/cashew mixture and stir in sauce.
  8. Simmer all ingredients together above medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3-4 minutes to reduce sauce slightly and meld flavors.


Other quinoa recipe posts you might like:

Sopa de Quinua or Quinoa Soup (

Quinoa: breakfast of champions (

Thai Fried Quinoa (


Vegan low-fat, low-sodium apple pecan oatmeal cookies (YUM!)

So, I don’t cook sweets that often, especially not cookies, but every now and again it strikes my fancy. I checked out my pantry to see what I had and decided that I’d Google pecan cookies and see what kinds of combinations came up. I came across this Low Fat Apple-Pecan Oatmeal Cookie recipe on I decided to adapt it to be vegan.


  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick oats!)
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice (I used almond)
  • 1 chopped apple (I used organic Fuji)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp luke warm water
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps apple pie spice –OR– 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp ginger


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Mix together oats, milk, chopped apple, and pecans in a bowl and set aside.

3. Whisk together flax seed and water until slightly frothy (similar to what an egg would be like.)

4. Mix together brown sugar, flax seed mixture, apple sauce, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.

5. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir well to combine.

6. Drop batter by Tbsp full onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten each cookie slightly with fork.

7. Bake for 12 minutes. You will know cookies are done when they can be lifted from parchment without gushing apart in your hands or sticking to the paper. They will be soft, almost spongy. Cookies do not really firm after cooling, this is definitely a soft vs. crisp oatmeal cookie recipe – which I like better anyway!

This recipe yielded 39 cookies for me, and a bunch got eaten by my roommates and I before I could take a photo. 🙂 They tasted GREAT. Not too sweet, these would make an awesome, wholesome breakfast. No dairy, no eggs, no added fat, minimal sugar. Brown sugar may sub out easily for maple syrup to reduce the recipe to no refined sugars. Oh yea, and trust me on this – you’re gonna wanna scoop up a couple while they’re still warm.

A little bit on the nutrition….

For 4 cookies (That’s right – you get to eat FOUR of these bad boys for probably what one traditional chocolate chip cookie might be….)


Calories: 232

Calories from fat: 53

Fat: 6 g

Sodium: 132 mg

Potassium: 62 mg

Carbohydrates: 41 g

Fiber: 5 g

Sugar: 15 g

Protein: 5 g


So these cookies are not only cholesterol free (vegan!), low fat, low in sodium, but they also offer a nutritional punch of fiber and protein! 5 grams each per serving!

In conclusion, I guess I impressed myself tonight…

Refined oils: cut down by using pumpkin in baked goods

I baked a cake for my brother’s 27th birthday yesterday. Ignore the way it looks, I got carried away in the decorating. 😀

Since it contains sprouted grains, you can find the recipe over at my sprouted foods blog. Vegan chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

I was particularly excited about the outcome of this recipe because of how rich, moist, and flavorful it remained even without animal products or refined oils. I eliminated the canola oil in the original recipe and replaced it with canned pumpkin. I love this trick. Especially in chocolate or fall flavored treats. It adds kind of a sophisticated undertone to the flavor.

Replacing oil with pumpkin was one of the first experiences I had with creating a low-fat dessert, even before I realized the bigger picture about food. When I was in my yo-yo dieting phases, I would take a box of brownie mix (any would work really) and skip the box instructions of adding milk, oil, and eggs and just add a can of pumpkin. I don’t remember where I had heard of this trick and I certainly didn’t research into why or how it worked. I remember it resulted in a “crappier” brownie (drier, less rich, and a bit less chocolatey than the box brownies intended.) A friend of mine would not really even eat them, but she was pretty picky. At the time, they were NOT ENOUGH to satisfy the obnoxious dependence I had formed on sugar, salt, and oil. So I’d eat these brownies, then head out to get some junk food somewhere else. Kind of defeats the purpose! So I ended up forgetting about the pumpkin substitution, and just continued shoving my face with whatever foods I wanted.

Once I went vegan, I started using Earth Balance and canola oil in all my baking. But now it was HEALTHY because it was vegan, right? Oh, so wrong. It’s true that a plant-based butter or oil would be cholesterol-free. That, yes, is healthier. However, it’s still a refined oil. As my veganism began to transform into part vegan, part nutritarian, I learned more and more about oil and the effect it has on our body. I wrote this today in response to a reader’s comment, but wanted to reblog it as an entry, especially since its so valid to this specific entry:

… fat content does not have as much effect on weight loss/weight gain as sugar content do. However, the source of the fat certainly affects overall health and the ease of losing/maintaining weight. You mentioned nutrient-rich foods. Well, oil is the LEAST nutrient-rich food you can have. Refined oil, which is what I was commenting on that made the Field Roast sausages so heavy in fat, contains only one item on the nutritional label: Fat. Refined oils are 100% fat. Certain low or no heat processed oils like flax or coconut may still contain beneficial EFA’s and omegas, but processed and refined oils like palm, canola, or even olive oil, lose many of these nutrients in the heating/refining process.

So in order to get fat and all the good stuff that comes with it, replace these refined oils with WHOLE FOOD sources like nuts, seeds, and avocados (fat from animal products would prove to be more difficult to break down and negate the benefits of the fats contained). The whole food source of healthy fats will result in more energy than the refined oils because your body will expend less energy digesting them. And that to me is the real goal when eating. Food is fuel.

Spending 120-140 calories on one tablespoon of oil is significantly less satisfying than mowing down on 1/4 cup of cashews or walnuts with 160-180 calories, even though both items are high in fat. The nuts might even contain more fat but its different and more complete. Basically, the end game is to spend every calorie on the most nutrient-dense foods (WHOLE FOOD). So logically, getting your healthy fats from a food that provides other and more efficient nutrition, is the more effective way to health. My bottom line is not just to lose weight but to eat to allow my body to reach its own peak performance, which will be my natural and correct weight. I’m not counting calories, I’m eating to live. Whole foods and nutrient dense for the win! I’ll eat carbs and fats all day long. I have never avoided either. The healthiest I’ve ever felt was when consuming an all-raw diet with some days up to 80% of my calories coming from nuts, seeds, and avocados.

The best reads on the subject that I’ve come across are “The Thrive Diet” by Brendan Brazier and “Eat to Live” by Dr Joel Fuhrman. The first one is particularly fascinating and easy to understand the stress that refined foods put on our bodies, including to pH levels.

When replacing oil, the first thing to remember is that oil is used to moisten. You want something with a smooth, moist texture. Pumpkin works well to add a distinct flavor (some people may honestly not like it, but if making a pumpkin flavored dessert, you’ll never notice the difference.) I find it works best in chocolate, I like the flavor it lends. It is true that the texture of a baked good will change when eliminating oil, but that does not mean it will be ruined! Oil is used as a ‘barrier’ so that the water is not completely absorbed into the flour and cooked off, and that the baked good remain moists.

Pumpkin (or apple sauce, pureed fruits, even zucchini) are great substitutes because they partially bind with the flour but not completely. It’s a different texture that will result, but it shouldn’t be dry and crumbly. The cake recipe above actually came out very moist. If you are worried about texture, start with substituting half the fat for pumpkin in the first take of a recipe. A slow, gradual change will allow your taste buds to relate to the new flavor and texture. The added nutrients will prove to be endearing to your taste buds (and body!) and you’ll find yourself craving this healthier version of any baked good in no time at all.

It’s true for me. I do not have canola oil in my house. I very rarely use olive oil. I do use Earth Balance and Daiya cheese pretty often, depending on what I’m making, but that’s usually the only incorporation of oil into my diet. I could do without it if I spent some more time planning and cooking. Limiting refined oils was what really kickstarted my weight loss. I lost a good amount of weight when I first went vegan, naturally. A lot of my calories were decreased by eliminating high-calorie, high-fat foods (specifically cheese!) and I was forced to do almost all my own cooking. This forced me out of my worst habit: fast food (which will be a whole different subject that I’ll probably spend days talking about my addiction and struggle with.)

I began to cook for myself, mostly vegetables. Stir fried in oil, roasted in oil, covered in salad dressing made with oil. There was always so much oil! I was easily consuming thousands of calories a week on refined oils. By cutting down, my energy and weight loss rebooted, and I began to explore the flavors of different foods instead of relying on the taste of oil to make things taste good. Now, I actually dislike the taste and texture of olive oil.

I don’t want to cause any ruffled feathers by saying eliminating refined oils is 100% necessary and correct for everyone’s dietary path. Nutrition is personal and subjective, food is an opinion. My opinion is that my body feels better with less oils. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. 🙂