I was driving home and passed Bulan – a vegan thai joint that I love but rarely have a chance to frequent. My first thought was that I should call my hubby and ask him if I should get some take out for tonight. My second thought was, I am on a whole food challenge – what could I eat that would really be worth it? My favorite dishes are made of wheat gluten, soy and other ingredients I can’t eat. Even if I ordered a coconut curry, I am not sure I would enjoy it without the starches I am used to eating.
Which brought my mind to Chinese take out. Hmmmm, noodles. I could not get them out of my mind.
Do you know what time it is? It’s time for recipe creation. I refuse to deprive myself of the food I want, leaving that craving lingering in me until I give in and eat something that does not make me feel good. (what you resist persists)
How can I make what I want to eat and make it healthy?
I have been using a sprializer for a very long time now. I make noodles out of a lot of different veg, but since I mostly use zucchini, I call it our zoodler. If you haven’t yet tried to substitute your wheat or rice noodles with a veg, you are missing out. Save that indulgence for a proper italian place that makes the perfect pasta like Bucato or for the perfect bowl of ramen. That is difficult to achieve at home, so maintain your health and use veg noodles at home. I typically top the zoodle with a pesto or tomato sauce or just butter, garlic and parm, but what if I tried to stirfry them into a lo mein?
I love that I can have my cravings at home, in a healthier version, and save that meal out for times I when I am out with friends, for work events or date night.
While on this Whole30-like challenge, I can’t eat tempeh or tofu, so I added egg for some protein, but it is not needed.
I have Chinese take out containers I use to give friends food. I love the idea of food from a take out container – I think that comes from TV and movies. There is something so satisfying about eating noodles from the container.
Noodles with veg and egg are good, but I really do like to have something else to bite into. Many of these vegan thai and chinese food places use wheat gluten based mock meats or tofu to add that extra texture and flavor. I remembered a trip I took with a good friend to Thailand – we were hungry and randomly happened upon a vegetarian restaurant. I can’t remember much about it but what I do remember is my taste buds and brain being blown away by the mock meat they made. I was surprised to find out that it was made of dried shiitake mushroom stems.
Shiitakes are rich in flavor and are a key ingredient for robust flavor in vegetarian East Asian cuisine. They are relatively high in nutrients, low in fat and calories and have some dietary fiber and protein to leave you feeling full. They are one of the highest non-meat sources of iron. Interestingly, dried shiitake mushrooms are lower in protein and fiber than raw shiitake mushrooms. Shiitakes are being studied for their medicinal properties in Western medicine and have long been used in Chinese medicine.
It will take a while before I can figure out how to reproduce that mind blowing shiitake steak I had in Thailand, but for now, I will make Shiitake bacon to add in. (yes you can make bacon out of almost anything! It’s all about the sweet smoky salty flavor)
I forgot how good shiitake tastes and while I use them to make consommes and veggie broths, I will now be adding them to various dishes including eggs, wraps, and skewers and just for bacon on the side (maybe a sBLT – shiitake bacon lettuce tomato – sandwich using the lettuce as bread). I think they would add a beautiful smoky saltiness on top of the curried coconut butternut squash soup or a savory version of the flourless butternut squash almond butter cake I previously posted.
I realized that I need to make triple this bacon recipe because I just love them in the lo mein and ate it all in one serving – I will have to make more for the family. The little one loves to help me mix the marinade and coat the shiitake, so I don’t think she’ll mind.
And I just found this recipe from The Wicked Good Vegan for shiitake jerky. For those of you needing a snack and tired of hearing about your friends snacking on various forms of jerky, you finally have an option.
- 3 large Shiitake caps thinly sliced ( roughly 5 oz or 2 cups) Save the stems for a stock or miso.
- 1 Tbs melted coconut oil (you can use safflower as coconut may seize up during marination. I marinated under warm conditions. Also olive is possible but the smoke point of EVOO is 375 degrees F so I would bake for longer at a lower temp)
- 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
- 1.5 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp coconut aminos (coconut aminos are paleo/whole30 friendly. If using Bragg’s remember it is more salty so adjust accordingly)
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400. Combine all of the ingredients except for the sliced shiitake and whisk together. Add the sliced shiitake and use hands to thoroughly coat. Marinate for 20 min.
Place the shiitake in a single layer onto a oiled baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 10 minutes. Keep an eye that they do not burn. The thinner they are sliced, the less they need to cook. Make sure they are cooked through so they are crispy once cool, rather than chewy.
Remove from the oven and place on paper towels. As remaining liquid is drained, they will continue to crisp.
Vegetable Lo Mein
- 3 large zucchini, spiralized into noodles
- coconut oil
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbs minced fresh ginger (I like ginger, you can reduce amount)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 eggs beaten (optional)
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms sliced (shiitakes will add more flavor but I wanted to have variety)
- 1 carrot, julienned or diced
- 1 celery stalk, julienned or dices
- 3/4 cup broccoli florets and chopped stem (cut off the outside thick skin and the center is sweet and tasty)
- 1 bunch spinach or baby bok choy chopped
- 2 soaked dates blended (or 1 tsp honey if not trying to be Whole30 compliant)
- 6 Tbs Coconut Aminos + extra
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar
- 1/2 tsp of cayenne or 1 small freshly chopped chili pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbs arrowroot powder (optional, used to thicken the sauce)
- Bean sprouts and cilantro for garnish
Place a wok or large skillet over medium heat and coat lightly with coconut oil. Add the egg and a couple of drops of coconut aminos, scramble and set aside
Add in the garlic, ginger and scallion and cook until fragrant (about 1-2 min). Add the crimini mushrooms and cook until juices come out. Add the veggies and cook for about 3-4 min, until veggies are soft and cooked.
While cooking, combine the liquids and dates/honey, salt pepper and chili to make a sauce. Arrowroot powder can be used to thicken the sauce if desired. If using, heat the liquid. Separately warm a small amount of water – about 1 Tbs and dissolve arrowroot with constant quick stirring. Add solution to flavored liquid and stir constantly until the liquid starts to become glossy and thick.
Add the zucchini noodles, egg and sauce to veg in wok. combine and stir. Heat until noodles are to desired texture, only takes a few min to cook through. Salt and pepper and coconut aminos to taste. Serve garnished with bean sprouts and cilantro. Top with shiitake bacon.