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Easy Dinners with Vegan Protein

Whether you are a strict vegan or an omnivore looking to add more vegetarian meals to your dinner routines, a Vegan Pad Thai will satisfy your checklist for an easy, satisfying, and delicious weeknight dinner.

Early on in my journey as a vegetarian, I was unaware that Pad Thai—one of my favorite dishes—is traditionally made with fish sauce. I will confess that I continued to indulge in an occasional plate of my favorite Thai food when dining out! Years later when I learned I need to be 100 percent gluten free to protect my health, I realized that fish sauce is routinely made with gluten, so I abandoned restaurant Pad Thai forever.

I have missed the particular blend of flavors that makes a good Pad Thai so delicious: peanuts, cilantro, and lime, to be exact. Finally, I decided to create my own version of Vegan Pad Thai, one that satisfies my tastebuds while not being overly high in carbs (like the traditional rice noodles). I selected Andean Quinoa Pasta, which is made with rice, to provide some protein for the 30-minute version of this recipe. Alternatively, of course, you can use rice noodles. You may also want to sauté some tofu cubes to toss into your dish, which may add another 10 to 15 minutes to your cooking but adds significantly more protein per serving.

Vegan bloggers like to say that most foods have protein, which is undeniably true. However, the richest sources of vegan protein are legumes—lentils and beans of all kinds, including soybeans, from which tofu is made. Proteins are the building blocks of life, essential to forming and repairing all the body’s tissues and necessary to patching up cells and to creating enzymes, hormones, and other essential chemicals. Most days I eat a protein-rich meal with a legume-based dish at lunch and dinner. Occasionally during summer, for lunch I’ll eat a salad with nuts and seeds instead. But a meal with only vegetables is not sufficiently grounding for me, and I would guess that’s true for anyone who has vata issues. Although you don’t want to eat heavy meals at night, I find that a protein-rich dinner is a key to good sleep.

You can certainly find recipes for vegan “fish” sauce online that you may want to try, but these seem to require several steps and extra time I don’t often want to invest in dinner. I decided to take a quicker route with today’s recipe—a peanut butter sauce that definitely meets my high standard for delicious! If you avoid peanuts, you can also try the sauce with almond butter or sunflower butter instead.

Enjoy this Vegan Pad Thai the next time you want to wow your family or guests with an easy meal!

 

 

 

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VEGAN PAD THAI

Preparation time: 30 to 50 minutes
Serves 4

I use more vegetables than any Pad Thai I’ve ever had in a restaurant but suit yourself! I purchased an 8-ounce bag of organic broccoli florets as a prepping time-saver. Add ½ hour to prep time if you plan to press the tofu in advance. Feel free to substitute other favorite vegetables. 

Optional Tofu
14 ounces tofu (optional)
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon onion or garlic granules
1 tablespoon avocado oil or coconut oil

For the noodles and vegetables
8 to 12 ounces of gluten-free quinoa/rice pasta
1 teaspoon mineral salt, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons avocado oil or coconut oil, divided
4 small to medium carrots, sliced
1 medium to large leek, sliced (about ½ cup)
3 to 4 cups chopped broccoli
¼ cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ to ½ cup chopped peanuts
1 large juicy lime, cut into sections

For the sauce
½ cup peanut butter (or almond butter or sunflower butter)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1. If you plan to use tofu, press the tofu between two plates. Place a large potato or two on the top plate. Press 15 to 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of water with 1 teaspoon salt to boil. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook it for 10 minutes. Test the pasta before straining to ensure that it’s tender.

2. While waiting on the tofu and heating water, prepare the vegetables. Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the carrots; then cover the pan for about 5 minutes. Uncover then and add the leeks and broccoli along with the Bragg’s. Cover the pan again and reduce the heat to medium-low, cooking until the vegetables soften without getting mushy (about another 5 minutes).

3. When ready to cook the tofu, pour off the water and cut the tofu into small bite-sized squares. Sprinkle the Bragg’s and spice flavoring over the top of the tofu squares. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and cook the tofu squares 3 to 5 minutes on each side until slightly browned.

4. Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Once you strain and rinse the pasta, put all the cooked ingredients into a large mixing bowl and toss with the sauce. Taste and add mineral salt, if needed. Serve with generous portions of cilantro (for cilantro lovers), chopped peanuts, and a wedge of lime. You may want some extra lime wedges on the table.

 

This dish will increase kapha. Quinoa pasta is excellent for kapha.

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