Easy Veggie Udon for Ramen Lovers

Earlier this week, I needed something to go with two salmon filets I was baking. Since I was craving some carbs, and it was a little too late to whip up a batch of bread … and I wasn’t patient enough to wait for brown rice to cook, I decided pasta was the way to go. The salmon was marinated in a sesame-soy concoction, generally Asian inspired, so I was excited when I spotted some udon noodles in the cupboard (to keep with the theme of course!).

I literally threw the noodles together with a simple veggie saute I created, and it turned out to be the star of the meal. We both agreed that the noodles had a Ramen-esque flavor, taking us back to the MSG-rich days of our childhoods. Obviously, I used a fair dose of sodium, between the wee bit of soy sauce and those few dashes of salt, but I dare say the dish was pretty healthy overall.

Easy Veggie Udon

After the success of that throw together dish, my cravings lingered on … so much so that I had to attempt a re-creation just two nights later.  Don’t misunderstand, this is a very basic dish, not earth-shattering in creativity by any means. But as mentioned before, it is often the simple flavors that get me most!

I ate this as a meal, it was rather filling, but yes, no “protein.” Sometimes I just crave veggies and carbs. If you want to add some protein, be my guest … meat, eggs, tofu, sliced almonds, chopped peanuts, whatever works for you! Hmm, I didn’t think to sprinkle on some toasted sesame seeds, that might be nice too.

Easy Veggie Udon

This recipe is Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Protein-Free, and Optional Gluten-Free

  • 8 Ounces Udon Noodles (may substitute other noodles in a pinch; for gluten-free I recommend Eden’s all buckwheat soba noodles or rice noodles)
  • 3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil, divided
  • 3 Carrots, peeled into large shreds using a vegetable peeler
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 12 Ounces Mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 5-Ounce Bag Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Wheat-Free Tamari, divided
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • Salt to taste (I used around 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, but I would start with a dash or two and work your way up)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste or a Few Pinches of Crushed Red Pepper

Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

While those are boiling, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil over medium-low heat (I do a lower heat to protect the flavor of the oil, but you can up it to medium if you are really hungry).

Add the carrots and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute just until the mushrooms begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach and 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, and saute for just a couple of minutes, until those leavese start to wilt.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the noodles, garlic powder, remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and any add-ins (see below), tossing well to ensure everything is coated with those flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in big bowls.

Add-ins: I steamed 12 oz of broccoli florets (about 7 minutes; until crisp tender) and tossed them in along with the noodles. The second time I made it, I also added about 1/2 lb of steamed baby carrots, merely because I didn’t have any whole carrots to shred. I recommend the peeled or shredded carrots (in the recipe) over the steamed chunks, but personal preference.

Yields 3 meal-sized servings

veggieudon4

Blog Events: I am submitting this recipe for Presto Pasta Nights # 110 being held at Chew on That. It is my first contribution to that blogging event; hopefully more to come!

Taste & Create: Sautéed Lemon-Garlic Broccoli(ni)

Is there such a thing as too much broccoli? No seriously. The fact that I ate half a pound of broccoli in one sitting doesn’t indicate that I have a problem does it?  Perhaps I have a slight love for those little green trees, or perhaps this recipe was just too darn good.

Let me start from the beginning to work this out …

tasteandcreatelogoSo I signed up for Taste & Create. I have been hesitant on joining any of the blogger cooking/baking events, as I kind of panic when it comes to having to cook a specific recipe. But, I liked the idea of picking a recipe from an assigned blog (with some options) to try out. You see, when it comes to trying new recipes, I tend to be a commitment-phobe. I bookmark and clip a bazillion recipes, but my execution rate, well, it’s pretty dismal. This blogging event would force me out of my little box.

For my first Taste & Create event, I was assigned to LET THEM EAT CAKE … and all things baked! She is a relatively new blogger, launching her inaugural post in January of this year, but already a veteran in the blogger event world. I hope I don’t disappoint, but contrary to the blog name, I, for once, did not choose a baking recipe. Nope. I went for a humble, yet insanely delicious, broccoli side dish. This recipe is from her participation in the Barefoot Bloggers events, tributes to all recipes Ina Garten. It was my first recipe from Ms. Ina, and she definitely did not let me down.

lemongarlicbroccoli

While broccoli may not seem adventurous to some, I really hadn’t ventured beyond steamed and sprinkled with salt, so a new flavor or two was in order. The original recipe called for Broccolini. I realize this baby vegetable has become quite hot on the internet, but I could only find it at Whole Foods … at $2.49 for a pitiful little bunch! But… beautiful broccoli crowns were on sale at my local grocer for just $.78 per pound! Come on, which would you choose? On my behalf, I cut the broccoli into strips using more of the stem, so they looked kind of like broccolini … well, sort of.

I made a few little changes to the recipe to make it my own and to keep it dairy-free. I also found, that if you wanted to go lower in fat, you should be able to get away with just a wee bit less oil … perhaps 1-1/2 tablespoons or 4 teaspoons. Though I wouldn’t go lighter than that, and I did like it with the full amount (I used coconut oil … just love the rich flavor).

Sautéed Lemon-Garlic Broccoli(ni)
Taste & Create recipe idea from: LET THEM EAT CAKE … and all things baked!
Recipe adapted from: The Food Network / Ina Garten
This Recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan

  • 1 lb (16oz / 454g) Broccolini, Broccoli Florets, or Broccoli cut into Broccolini-like Strips
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, plus a dash for the boiling water
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • 1 Heaping Teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest + 1 Tablespoon Juice from that Lemon
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil with a dash of salt. Add the broccoli and allow it to cook for 2 minutes. Drain the broccoli immediately, and submerge it in a bowl of ice water to quickly stop the cooking process.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the lemon zest and garlic and give it a quick stir.  Drain the broccoli well, and add it to the sauté pan. Sauté the broccoli for just 2 minutes or until it is heated through. Add the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper, and toss well before serving.

Yields 4 Servings (or 2 if you eat as much broccoli as I do)

lemongarlicbroccoli2

Sugar-Free, Guilt-Free Banana Bread

The Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread recipe is now viewable in a new post for you to trial!

With a couple of over-ripe bananas beckoning from the counter, I knew it was time to take some baking action.  Luckily, blogging buddy Ricki reminded me of the “Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread” in Go Dairy Free. Though I was a banana shy of a full loaf, the recipe could easily be halved to make 2 mini loaves! (The original recipe will make 4 mini loaves or 1 9×5-inch loaf) 

About a year ago, I found myself a bit lost when faced with yet another mound of darkening bananas. With piles of cookies and sugary treats lingering in our house, a sweet banana loaf was the last thing we needed.  But then, I began to wonder what a quick bread would turn out like with no sugar at all.  After all, aren’t overripe bananas sweet enough on their own?  As it turns out, the bananas add just a hint of sweetness to the bread making it perfect to enjoy with jam in the morning, or any time of day really … and best of all, it is virtually guilt-free … no added sugars AND made with whole grain flour (the one pictured below is 100% spelt)!

Of course, you can add a pinch of stevia or some sugar if you please, but I recommend just a tablespoon or two, and certainly no more than 1/4 cup for the whole recipe.  It isn’t intended to be a dessert, but rather a nutricious quick bread that you can enjoy anytime of day, topped with jam, honey, or your favorite spread.

So, for those of you who have my book, the mini loaves seem to take 22-24 minutes at 350º to bake to perfection. I was out of vanilla extract (I know, and I call myself a baker!), so I subbed in almond extract (about 3/4 teaspoon), topped each little loaf with a generous tablespoon of sliced almonds, and slathered my first slice with … I am a bit predictable aren’t I? … almond butter!

Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

Whether you use my recipe, or prefer to tinker with your own banana bread recipe, try cutting way back on the sugar for banana bread that isn’t made for gifting, but rather for a quick, tasty, and healthy breakfast or snack!