Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #5 – Vegetable Stir-Fry with Tofu (for Lunch)

It’s FRIDAY!!!!!! As we head into the weekend, we decided we wanted to have a little fun tonight. We set plans to head into Manhattan’s East Village to try the limited-time by Chloe Vegan Guacamole Burger dumplings at Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings (more on that in a separate post). So, what would happen to our challenge? Well, we decided to make today’s Trader Joe’s 7 Vegan Meals for $30 challenge meal Vegetable Stir-Fry with Tofu and Sesame Ginger Sauce for lunch.

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This recipe was easy-peasy to make. It took less than 15 minutes that Spoon University noted. Microwaveable rice, microwaveable veggies, tofu and sauce. It was simple dish that didn’t require a lot of effort in making it this morning rather than last night. 

BUT… there problems with the recipe: 

  1. The Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette was NOT on the shopping list
  2. The Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette contained HONEY (NOT vegan)
  3. The recipe yielded enough for 2

To modify this for 21 Day Fix, we just replaced the dressing with an oil-free one using items we had in or pantry and fridge: rice wine vinegar, ginger, agave nectar and spices (recipe to follow)

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Despite the issues, the dish was delicious. It held up well in my tiffin and I actually ate it cold. Carlo enjoyed his warm with sriracha. We both liked how everything turned out, especially since it was so easy to make. Stir-fry dishes can be as simple or as complex as you like. We get a kick out of combinations we can put together. 

Another plus is that having pre-packed rice and veggies. No need to wait for water to boil or to chop veggies. If you’ve got a busy lifestyle, you can plan ahead to spend like 10 minutes on this entire dish! HOW GREAT IS THAT?!?!?

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Now, I said we made our own recipe. With stir-fry meals, you can use whatever sauce you like. You buy something like Trader Joe’s Soyaki or just whip up something on your own, like our quick Ginger-Garlic dressing! 

Here’s the recipe! Give it a try and let us know what you think!
 

Ginger Garlic Oil-Free Dressing
Serves 1
This simple dressing can be poured over salad or added to your favorite stir-fry
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Total Time
2 min
Total Time
2 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 c rice wine vinegar
  2. 1 tsp. grated ginger
  3. 2 tsp. agave nectar
  4. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  5. 1/8 tsp. dried oregano
  6. 1/8 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
  7. Pinch of black pepper
Instructions
  1. Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pour over salad or veggies, or toss into stir-fry
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Catch up on yesterday’s recipe!

Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #4 – Protein-Packed Tempeh Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing with a Twist

In preparing for this week’s challenge, we got a heads up that this recipe was the most incomplete. While we love the concept & approach of Spoon University’s recipes, there’s a lot being missed or confused. Nevertheless, we didn’t shy away from their Protein-Packed Kale Salad with Tempeh & Lemon Dressing. Instead, we made it work for us.

We were excited to have tempeh on our shopping list. However, we were taken aback when we saw a photo of the salad and the tempeh looked like it right out of the package. All we could say was “NOOOO” and some in our challenge group had declared they were going to cook their tempeh. Sadly, the recipe had a HUGE miss because the tempeh wasn’t even in the ingredient list. There were no instructions on how to cook it. 

We love tempeh and buy Trader Joe’s Organic 3 Grain weekly (it’s our favorite tempeh). Until we learn to make our own, that’s just how it is. With that said, we don’t recommend eating it right out of the package. It’s too bitter. So, unless bitter is your thing, don’t do it. (Next week, we’ll  have a post all about tempeh with some recipes – Check back!)

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Now, onto how we made this salad. First of all, we steamed, sliced and sauteed the tempeh with salsa (Salsa wasn’t on the ingredient list. We added it). Of course, cooking the tempeh upped the recipe time by 20 minutes. We also modified the lemon dressing recipe by scaling back the oil to 1.5 tsp, upping the lemon to a full one and using a 1 tsp of agave. Rather than pouring the dressing on top of the salad, Carm massaged it into the kale. We included 1/2 can of chickpeas, added 1/2 of an avocado and left out the apple (which we figured would be an entire apple, chopped or cubed).  

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The salad was delicious! We really liked the idea of it, especially when we didn’t want to be bothered to make anything elaborate. However, we were really frustrated by the recipe, because it really was just kale and ingredients to make the recipe, which we found was enough for 2 servings, not just 1. Also, the optional ingredients weren’t on the shopping list and more were in the directions. Hence, we went with our own twist on the recipe. 

Some of our friends doing the challenge decided to use soy sauce and pan-fry their tempeh. That certainly is a good option. We went the salsa route and cut back the olive oil to stay closer to our 21 Day Fix eating plan. Really, you can do whatever you want with the tempeh to make it to your liking. In fact, we may try this again with a lime-cilantro dressing. How bad could that be?

What do you do when a recipe is not quite right? Tell us in the comments!

Check out last night’s dinner!

Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #3 – The Farro Salad that Wasn’t

Did you know that we’re kitchen superheros???? NO?!?!?! Oh, well, we have to tell you about how we saved Dinner #3, Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Apple Farro Salad, in our 7 Vegan Meals for $30 from Trader Joe’s challenge from Spoon University!

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We’ve been following the meal “plan” from Spoon University to make 7 vegan dinners from $30 of Trader Joe’s groceries. The first 2 dinners were FABULOUS! Tonight’s??? Well…we had a bit of a problem.

We were excited to have a dish that included farro. Farro is in the wheat family. It’s a whole grain that is usually made of spelt, emmer of einkorn (all hulled). We love having it in soups and salads. 

Our plan was to make the Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Apple Farro Salad. We actually were going to use barley instead, as we bought Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Barley. However, Carlo was feeling like having farro. We had some, but not a 10-minute variety and not from Trader Joe’s. The one we used required us to soak the farro overnight. Well, that resulted in a milky, lumpy hot mess. We could have just made barley, but our stomachs didn’t want to make the time investment of even 10 more minutes.

The recipe itself was simple. The ingredients were all listed (YEAH!) We could do without the farro since it only needed 1/3 of the noted ingredients. It seemed weird to cook so much to only use a 1/3 of it, but whatever. We’re getting used to Spoon University’s instructions not being clear. It doesn’t mean the dish won’t be good. 

We replaced the sweet potato with butternut squash, and the arugula with spinach. Honestly, this recipe didn’t need the farro. We got plenty with other ingredients. In fact, we both said the texture of the farro would have taken away from the dish. The apples were so nice with the squash and spinach for crunch that we didn’t miss the farro.

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Now, being that we’re following 21 Day Fix, we eliminated the oil. We bumped up the lemon to the juice of 2 small ones. We also went with cumin and black pepper for spice. There was no added salt, but there was some avocado action!

We really liked this recipe and would probably have it again. Next time, we’ll be sure to use Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro!

See last night’s dinner, DIY Sofrita Bowl!

Come back and see how we approach the Protein-Packed Kale Salad With Tempeh and Lemon Dressing.

Trader Joe’s “7 for $30” Dinner #1 – Black Bean & Butternut Squash Tacos

Being vegan doesn’t mean being expensive.

If you read our recent “Trader Joe’s 5 for $20” challenge we did with Power to the Veg last month, you saw us make delicious dinners on a budget of $20. Following a recent Buzzfeed article by Spoon University, we purchased basic, mostly whole food ingredients and we made them stretch over five days. Well, these same fine folks have created another challenge to make a week’s worth of dinners for around $30. Of course, the #p2tv crew was up for it.

Locking ourselves into only buying what we needed for dinner, we stayed with what we already had to make breakfast, lunch and any snacks. Since we’ve been drinking Shakeology for one meal a day, it made things all the easier! Meal planning was a breeze with a shopping list already set

Another bonus is that just about all of these meals can be made in 15 minutes or less. Very little time to make some pretty delicious food to serve 2! Not bad when you spend 8-12 hours a day at work and trying to fit everything else into your day…like this blog post!

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We got pretty close in the range of $30.00 to $31.50, but a couple of things to note:

  • Our Trader Joe’s location was out of taco seasoning mix. Apparently, they don’t restock them often, but when they do, they sell out quick
  • The corn tortillas were listed at $0.99, but they were $1.49 at our Trader Joe’s

All recipes we make will be modified for the 21 Day Fix eating plan! See, we can still have fun with food!! Let’s kick things off with tonight’s dinner of Black Bean & Butternut Squash Tacos!

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These were absolutely delicious! They took no time to make, and were easy to modify without losing flavor. Carlo cooked the butternut squash and black beans in salsa versus oil. There was no added salt. We replaced the taco seasoning with chipotle powder, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. 

We realized that our avocado wasn’t ripe just yet. We went without it, and it wasn’t missed. The chopped tomato, fresh lime juice and cilantro added enough of that refreshing flavor and feeling. Yes, we did add a little hot sauce to the tacos, but that’s how we roll.

Using the corn tortillas was smart. The filling held up nicely and texture went well with everything. 

This recipe is really straightforward, really delicious and a welcome addition to our collection!

Give this a try! Let us know how else you’d use butternut squash and black beans, or tell us a tip on how you save on groceries!

Until tomorrow…when we make DIY Sofrita Bowls (or Tacos)

 

 

Vegan Under Pressure by Jill Nussinow [Book Review + Giveaway]

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Scroll to the bottom to enter our cookbook giveaway to win your very own copy of Vegan Under Pressure!

Wow! It’s been a year since we reviewed Jill Nussinow’s Nutrition Champs! Now, The Veggie Queen™ has a new book, released in January 2016, celebrating what’s she known for…PRESSURE COOKING! We’re very excited to share this book with you, as we have fallen in love with pressure cooking in our home. Read more