“Pulled Pork” AKA BBQ Sweet Potato Sammies with All of the Slaws!

This sandwich, as the post title states, is a vegetarian take on pulled pork.  Personally, I find it just as delicious and it’s super easy to make.  It makes a great lunch because you can simply make it the night before and you’ll have plenty to bring for a few days of lunches.  Plus, it’s great because it goes great with a variety of different slaws, which I’ll include below too.

BBQ Sweet Potato Sammies

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
BBQ sauce of your choosing (4-5 tbsp is good – feel free to add more/less. I like more.)
Olive Oil cooking spray
Buns (for sandwich)
Some kind of slaw (directions below)

Directions:

  1. Wash and skin sweet potatoes.  I usually just like to cut off the top/bottom of the potatoes and remove any weird spots from the skin.
  2. Shred potatoes.  You can either use a cheese grater for this, or you can use a spiralizer machine.  The spiralizer machine will cut your potatoes into curls, but I usually just take the curls and chop them up a little.  This is the easiest way, but the cheese grater method makes it a little more like a pulled pork texture.  I’d say if you’re making this for a party, use the cheese grater.  If you’re making it for yourself, use the spiralizer.

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  3. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Once it’s heated up, cook your potatoes for 10 minutes.  Stirring semi-constantly.
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  4. After the 10 minutes, add your BBQ sauce and cook while stirring for another  5 minutes.
  5. You’re done!  Time to make the slaw.

For the slaw, I’m not the biggest fan of regular coleslaw (too much mayo), but I’m sure this will taste just fine with that.  I prefer vinegar based slaws, so here are a few I’ve made and I think taste really great with the BBQ sweet potatoes.

Clean Eating Mango Slaw

This slaw adds a nice sweet and salty flavor to your sammy.  I found this recipe on iFoodReal.

Ingredients:
1 lb white cabbage, shredded (thinly sliced is fine too)
1 large mango, diced
3 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp white vinegar (or 2 if you’re like me and love vinegar)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:  Combine all ingredients and toss in a large bowl!

Red Cabbage Slaw

This is a nice crunchy and colorful slaw to add to your BBQ sweet potatoes.  I found this recipe on Real Housemoms.

Ingredients:
1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Directions: Toss ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for at least one hour.

Ginger Lime Asian Slaw

This slaw adds a nice sweet, but tangy flavor.  It’s a bit more involved than the first two, but it’s worth it.  I found this recipe on Real Food Real Deals.

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Ingredients:
8 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp rice vinegar

Directions:

    1. Combine cabbage, carrots, apple, salt, and lime juice into a large bowl.
    2. In a medium skillet, cook the onion, in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add ginger and cook for another 30 seconds.
    3. In a bowl, mix together remaining tbsp of olive oil, honey, and rice vinegar.  Add the veggies from the pan.
    4. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and mix.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
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Vegan Orange “Chicken” (Cauliflower)…or not vegan if you want!

Recently I’ve been trying to eat less meat, eggs, and dairy.  It’s very hard to completely cut out eggs and dairy (shoutout to the vegans out there), but the cutting out meat has been pretty easy, especially since I’ve been a vegetarian before.  My boyfriend isn’t a vegetarian, but I find it pretty easy to make us both the same dinner and just sub out my portion of meat for tofu or veggies.  I’m not picky about using the same pan or having them touch, so that makes things a lot easier.  Anyway, I came across this recipe and was very excited to make it.  By no means is it healthy, but I guess it’s slightly healthier than if you used chicken.  No matter how you slice it, you’re still deep frying something.

HOWEVER, the great part about this recipe is that if you don’t fry the cauliflower, the orange sauce is actually pretty healthy.  So, if you’re in the mood for something Chinese food-esque, I’d recommend frying the cauliflower.  If you’re looking for a quick vegan stir fry, just cook up some tofu (1/2 package) and add some frozen broccoli (170 oz for one).  If you want some legit orange chicken, just cook up some chicken (6 oz) and add some broccoli. Don’t use any cauliflower or batter. It’s that simple!

I found this recipe on Yummily Yours.  I adapted it slightly.

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Ingredients (serves one):

One serving of rice

6-8 florets of cauliflower

1/2 cup sliced into strips bell peppers of various colors

1/3 cup & 2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup all purpose flower

1/4-1/2 cup water (to make batter)

Oil for frying

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon orange zest

3/4 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp Sriracha

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Sprinkle of green onions

 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare rice – this can cook while you are making everything else.
  2. Heat oil for frying
  3. In another small frying pan, saute peppers for about 2-3 minutes.  Don’t overcook.  Set aside when done.
  4. Mix the corn starch, flour, and water to make a thick batter.  It should be thick enough to coat each cauliflower floret evenly.
  5. Coat each floret in batter and dip into the oil.
  6. Once the batter is crisp, remove the florets from the oil and place them on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.  You want them to remain crisp, so while they are cooking, you’ll want to make the sauce.
  7. Heat up the minced ginger and garlic for about a minute.  You can do this in the same pan you cooked the peppers in.
  8. Add in the orange zest.  Cook for another 30-60 seconds.
  9. Add broth, orange juice, sriracha, soy sauce, sugar and stir together.
  10. While that is heating up, mix together the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in some cold water.
  11. Once the broth/orange juice/soy sauce/etc mixture comes to a boil, lower heat.
  12. Add in the corn starch slowly to mixture while stirring constantly.  The mixture should be very thick.
  13. Once it is thick, add in the peppers and cauliflower (or chicken/tofu + broccoli if you’re not using cauliflower).
  14. Mix well and heat everything in the pan for about 2 minutes.
  15. Put rice on a plate, and put your orange cauliflower on top. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions on top.

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust!

The time has come… Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust is here!  This recipe is nothing short of a modern day pizza miracle.  Seriously.  While slightly labor intensive, this low calorie, low carb, high fiber crust will make your pizza become everything you want and more.  Just take my word for it and make it.  Inspired by: Delighted Momma

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of spaghetti squash (about 1 very large spaghetti squash or two smaller sized ones)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of flax meal

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook your spaghetti squash however you prefer (see my post on cooking spaghetti squash).
  3. Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, use a fork scrape out the insides.  You will now need to squeeze out as much water from the spaghetti squash as possible.  This is very important if you do not want a mushy pizza crust (it is also the most time consuming part of the recipe).  I have found that placing the spaghetti squash in a strainer as it cools is helpful, as well as using two cutting boards to squeeze the squash, just squeezing it with my hands in fist fulls, and using paper towels to absorb extra moisture.
  4. Combine the spaghetti squash and all the other ingredients listed above with your hands.
  5. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper and evenly spread your mixture on it. Make sure you keep the dough pressed together firmly as you spread.
  6. Bake your pizza crust for 25- 30 minutes or until you notice the edges starting to brown.  At the end of the 30 minutes carefully flip your crust and continue to bake for additional 25-30 minutes until pizza is no longer mushy and fully baked through.
  7. Take your crust out and spread on pizza sauce and whatever toppings you love.  Place it back it the oven for a few more minutes to let everything melt and get all bubbly.

Fall Chickpea Squash Chili

Fall recipe time!  I would definitely consider this chili a fall recipe since it uses butternut squash (for some reason squash equates to fall and winter in my mind).  I waited to post this until fall for this reason because I actually made it this summer (breaking all the rules!).  We had leftover butternut squash from this mac & cheese recipe I made a few days earlier.  I originally followed the “seasonality rules” with this two falls ago when I was living in Boston and wanted to make a fall dish (which was a surprise to myself since I wasn’t big on complicated recipes).  Similar with baking, I was never super into cooking elaborate dishes, but for some reason I saw the squash at a farmer’s market and found this particular recipe for Chickpea Chili calling to me.  It turns out that I really enjoyed cooking it and suddenly cooking became a lot less scary and a lot more interesting.  The original recipe can be found from Cooking Light and requires a crock pot and around 9 hours of simmering, but it can definitely be made in a medium-large pot with 3-5 hours of simmering.  It’s a great dish to make on a Sunday afternoon when you don’t have any plans and it fills the entire house up with a lovely aroma of spices.  It also keeps well and tastes excellent heated up!  And the great part is that you WILL have leftovers from this recipe!

Chickpea & Squash Chili - cooking edit

 

Ingredients:
1 cup canned chickpeas
2 tbs olive oil (or cooking spray if you want to keep it very healthy)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
2 1/2 cups fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (undrained)
4 cups chopped butternut squash
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
6 cups hot couscous
8 lime wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan (or cooking spray). Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through turmeric); sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add onion mixture to slow cooker.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a large pot (which is what I used).   Add broth and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes); cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours.  Or, if you are using a pot, 4-5 hours.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add squash and sauté 5 minutes. Add squash to slow cooker/pot. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour, or low-medium heat.  Stir in peas. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve over couscous with lime wedges!

Chickpea & Squash Chili - plate 2!Chickpea & Squash Chili - plate!

The Greatest Not-So-Bad-For-You Mac & Cheese

This is quite possibly the best mac & cheese recipe I’ve come across.  AND it’s not THAT bad for you.  The original recipe is labeled as “light” and it’s from Cooking Light, but of course all cheese is pretty fattening, so I don’t really like to label any type of mac & cheese dish “light” … hence the “not-so-bad-for-you” label.  This recipe combines some cheese with squash and Greek yogurt, so you still get that creamy texture, but not as bad as traditional mac & cheese.  If you’d like to make it even healthier, you can make it with spaghetti squash like I did here. Original recipe can be found here.

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Ingredients:
3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup grated Romano cheese
1/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 spaghetti squash or 1 pound cavatappi pasta

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Combine butternut squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 25 minutes).
3. Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper, and Greek yogurt and blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.
4. Cook pasta according to package directions OR cook spaghetti squash.  (If you’re unfamiliar about how to cook spaghetti squash, please see my past post here).  Add pasta/spaghetti squash to butternut squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
5. Heat a small pan coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta or spaghetti squash mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve!

mac cheese

Spring Rolls + PB2 Peanut Sauce

Spring Rolls are the greatest thing ever and if you live anywhere near Worcester, MA, I’d definitely recommend trying out Dalat on Park Ave. I went to college right around the corner and this little Vietnamese place has the best spring rolls quite possibly ever.  That’s where my love affair of Vietnamese Spring Rolls (and Vietnamese food in general) began.  Now that I’m on the other side of the country, one of the greatest things about living in San Francisco is that there are spring rolls basically everywhere.  I decided one day that I wanted to try to make these myself (or perhaps it was my boyfriend’s idea – he is obsessed), and it turned out to be a success!  They are fairly time consuming to make, but require no oven and if you make enough, they can be an entire dinner.  I combined a few different recipes to come up with the below recipe and matching peanut sauce, so this is my take on Vietnamese Spring Rolls.  They’re great as an appetizer or if you make 4-5 per person, you’ll have a dinner.  I used this stuff called PB2 for the sauce (which is amazing – basically powdered peanut butter that you add water to – and only about 45 calories and 13 calories from fat) and it makes the sauce recipe a lot healthier.

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Ingredients for spring rolls:
1 lb small shrimp
Bunch of basil
Bunch of mint
Bunch of cilantro
Rice papers
Rice vermicelli (or 1/2 spaghetti squash – you can make it with this!)
Shredded carrots
Head of butter lettuce

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Ingredients for peanut sauce:
3/4 cup PB2 (or 3 tbsp peanut butter)
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp lime juice (or rice vinegar)
4 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp white sugar
2 1/4 tsp garlic chili sauce (I’d recommend this one by Sriracha)
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup water (if it’s already a little watery or not enough, you can omit this or add more)

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Directions:
1. Prepare peanut sauce by mixing together all the sauce ingredients.
2. Cook about 1/3 of vermicelli package according to the package instructions (very easy, only takes about 10-15 mins total to cook).  You can also sub this with some spaghetti squash (as pictured) if you’d like.
3. Let peanut sauce and vermicelli cool in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Once everything is “prepped” you can start making the rolls.  Fill a big bowl with water and dip the rice paper in one at a time for about 15-20 seconds until it is soft and pliable.  Remove from the water, shake it out gently, and place it on a damp plate.
5. Add a leaf of lettuce, some basil, mint, cilantro, shredded carrots, vermicelli, and shrimp all on top of each other. Pictures below.
6. Tightly roll the ingredients into a  cigar shape and close in the sides.  This step takes a a few tries!  It will be pretty sticky, and you might get a tear or two, but you’ll get the hang of it!
7.  Serve with sauce!

(Please excuse the Christmas tree plate!)

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Chicken Pineapple Fajita Lettuce Cups

Back in my Boston days I came across these skillet sauces by Rick Bayless at the Star Market near my apartment.  I don’t know what prompted me to try it out, but I instantly fell in love.  The Star Market only carried two, the New Mexico Taco Skillet Sauce with roasted tomato + mild red chilies for chicken and the Key Lime Cilantro Taco Skillet Sauce with roasted tomatillo + green chile for shrimp.  I tried both, and the red sauce instantly became my favorite because it tastes really great with chicken (as it was meant for).  I made the Key Lime Cilantro with chicken and it was definitely good (but probably a ton better with shrimp), but the red one really became my favorite and a staple for me.  I’ve never really seen these anywhere outside of that Star Market on Beacon Street.  That is, UNTIL LAST WEEK.  ANNOUNCEMENT: SAFEWAY IN SAN FRANCISCO NOW CARRIES THESE.  I REPEAT – AS OF LAST WEEK, SAFEWAY IN SAN FRANCISCO NOW CARRIES THESE.  At least, the one in Duboce Triangle.  I know most of you don’t live around here, but I’d definitely recommend taking a look at your local grocery store and see if they have these because I really enjoy them!  They are better than the classic dry taco seasoning and pretty low calorie (25 cal & 5 cals from fat per two tablespoons).  This recipe is one I came up with in Boston using the New Mexico Taco Skillet Sauce with roasted tomato + mild red chilies.  It’s a really great summer dish and goes great with lettuce cups instead of tortillas if you want to keep it super low-cal and carb free.  Feel free to use tortillas instead, though!  Also tastes great with some guac and salsa (particularly Newman’s Own Peach Salsa – my favorite, which, unfortunately, I have yet to find in San Francisco) and even a side of chips!

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Ingredients (serves two):
12 oz chicken
One red pepper
One green pepper
1/2 of a large onion (or enough to match the amount of each pepper)
1/2 a bag of New Mexico Taco Skillet Sauce with roasted tomato + mild red chilies for chicken
8 oz pineapple chunks
Cooking spray
Iceberg lettuce (or tortillas)
Guac + Salsa (optional)

Instructions:
1. Cut up peppers and onions and spray cooking spray into a large skillet.
2. Cook peppers and onions until soft, but still a little crispy (approx 10-15 minutes).  About half way through, add a little bit of skillet sauce to veggies (enough to coat them).

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3. Place peppers and onions aside and spray pan with cooking spray again.  Cook chicken all the way through, adding a little more skillet sauce when chicken is almost finished cooking.

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4. When chicken is finished, put veggies back in the skillet with the chicken and add the rest of the skillet sauce (1/2 the bag!).  Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

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5. Add in pineapples to skillet a minute or two you are ready to plate.
6. Plate and eat with lettuce cups (or tortillas) and your sides (guac, salsa, and maybe some chips!!).

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