Meatless Monday – Spicy Coconut Noodles

Happy Halloween!pumpkins-1642289_960_720

Chili on Halloween has become something of a tradition for our family, mostly because it’s healthy comfort food to warm up your insides on a cool fall evening but also because you can make a BIG pot and share it with friends.

We have enjoyed Halloween parties with friends most of Tween’s school years. This year, however, Halloween is a Monday, a bummer day for a party. And Tween is in middle school, which comes with increased independence in our safe small town, and less need for parental gathering. Not to mention an important school project due tomorrow for Teen and a friend (both were at a smashing party last year–how time changes priorities! And what teacher assigns a big project due the day after Halloween? Seriously!).

So we’ll enjoy chili at home and actually be here to answer the doorbell and pass out candy to cute kiddos in costume. Not a bad option.

If you haven’t tried my veggie chili, please do: easy, quick, oil-and-salt free, healthy and, best of all, Delicious! AND I want to share with you a recipe that has become one of my weeknight go-to quick-fix meals. It’s super-easy and flexible, a good whatever’s-in-the-crisper recipe.

The genesis for this recipe came from Real Simple, an absolute gem of a magazine and a hit-or-miss recipe source, IMHO. If the recipe looks good I’m willing to try and, though the misses occur, the keepers seem always worth keeping.

I wasn’t sure the first time I made Spicy Coconut Noodles. But by the third time–having added my own twists–I knew this would stay in rotation.coconut-noodles

Spicy Coconut Noodles
Serves 4-6

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti (I prefer Trader Joe’s Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti)

13.5 oz unsweetened coconut milk (I buy it by the box at Trader Joe’s)
3 Tbsp tomato paste (tomato sauce will do in a pinch)
1 tsp chili powder (or to taste – Guy always wants it hotter but, for the sake of others, sriracha…)
1 Tbsp chili-garlic paste

Add-ins (all optional – go with what you like//what you’ve got, but definitely GO for it!)
1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c unsalted peanuts/cashews (chopped if desired) or sesame seeds
1/2 c edamame
1/2 c peas
1/2 c diced carrot
1/2 c bell pepper, any color, diced (I always have mini red, orange, and yellow bell peppers)
1 package Trader Joe’s vegetarian gyoza, prepared according to directions
3 green onions, diced
other options: basil leaves, mint leaves, sprouts, celery (diced), zucchini…you name it!

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk, tomato paste, chili powder, and chili paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

If using (please do!), saute coconut in a dry pan until toasted (take care – it goes slow at first and fast at the end); empty into a bowl and use the same pan to toast nuts/seeds (sassy turn: add a few drops of low-sodium soy sauce to the pan). Set aside for serving.

If using, prepare gyoza according to package directions.

Defrost vegetables (I always have frozen peas/edamame); chop vegetables (carrots/bell peppers). Toss add-ins to sauce as it simmers.

Add (gyoza, if using, and) noodles to sauce. Toss well in pan. Top with toasted coconut, nuts/seeds, and green onions. Serve immediately.

Meatless Monday – July 4th Ice Cream

Tween had cake for breakfast. To be fair, it was packaged and presented as a “muffin,” but I say we should call a chocolate-chocolate chip “muffin” with cream cheese filling by its true name: cake.

Whatever. He’s 12 and it’s a holiday.

Full disclosure, I had ice cream for breakfast.

Actually, I had coffee before my morning run, and couldn’t make my usual post-run green smoothie because my blender was full of ice cream base. I’d hoped to complete the ice cream making process last night, but got a late start and the ice cream maker hadn’t fully frozen. So I stuck the blender of base + the prepared swirl in the fridge overnight.

Which meant I had to get things going post-run, and so of course I had to dip a spoon. The recipe suggests the churning time will be 45 minutes, but mine went much faster, less than 25 minutes. So there was more spooning and stirring and churning to get the swirl mixed in. And then there was the transferring of ice cream to container, and it didn’t all fit, so…

Enough excuses already. It was delicious!

I used Minimalist Baker’s recipe for Raspberry Ripple Coconut Ice Cream and couldn’t be happier. Although I’d call it Coconut-Berry Ice Cream. It reminds me of one of my childhood happy food traditions, frozen yogurt for lunch after Sunday church. If it was available, I always got coconut, and then swirled it up side-by-side with either a fruit or chocolate flavor–YUM!ice cream

Some thoughts on the recipe: I used a can of Trader Joe’s coconut cream which I chilled in the fridge prior to opening. I also used less than 1/4 c natural sugar and less than 1/4 c maple syrup for sweeteners–I figured the fruit would add its own sweetness so I didn’t want to overdo it. And I used the coconut oil since I’m all about the coconut.

The base is delicious on its own and I think you could vary your swirls to include chocolate, chocolate-mint, nuts, you name it. I used just under a cup of mixed berries, frozen and defrosted, + topped off the 1c mark with unsweetened coconut flakes. Some people like their ice cream smooth, but I like mine with chunks (same goes for nut butters).

When Guy and I were first married, we’d make ice cream for each warm warm weather holiday. Eventually our ice cream maker broke and we fell out of the habit. The more I’ve leaned into a plant-based lifestyle, the less I have wanted ice cream (tastes change, and these days I find myself more inclined to a savory snack); and when I have wanted it, it has been less available. Thankfully, ice cream manufacturers are catching on that there is, in fact, a market for vegan ice cream, and yet it’s expensive. One more great thing about this recipe is that I already had all the ingredients on hand.

I’m thrilled to have an easy-to-make warm weather holiday treat as we celebrate the gift of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Happy 4th of July!fireworks