Asian, Local Finds, Vegetarian

Welcome to East Cambridge, Bon Me!

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Bon Me’s new East Cambridge store is so cute! Bon Me is a mix of food trucks and permanent restaurants throughout the greater Boston area serving delicious Vietnamese-inspired food. I was lucky enough to be invited to a store preview. Each table is decorated with succulents in colorful pots and dainty origami cranes with (fake) tea light candles. Weather permitting, there’s even an outdoor patio and seating area. With a few high tops and plenty of bench seating, the industrial, yet colorful inside was inviting, but to be honest, I was focused more on the food than the decor. I would most definitely get the Bon Me Bap Bowl, a vegetarian take on Korean Bibimbap bowls with pickled vegetables that seem surprisingly fresh. I’m a big fan of veggies and thought this was just enough of a balance. With my old roomie, Dee, as my guest, who’s also obsessed with Bon Me, we ate our way through their new menu, sipped Lamplighter beer and had a grand ol’ time for a Tuesday night. (If you enjoy local finds, check out more here.)

— Bon Me’s East Cambridge Grand Opening is October 19th! —

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Lightened Up, Meal Prep

Killin’ It with These Korean Rice Bowls

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Happy meal prep with these popping flavors! The spiciness from the meat, the sesame from the spinach, the acidity of the kimchi . . . Although seemingly complicated, I really enjoyed the simplicity of this Korean Bibimbap Bowl. Bibimbap is a Korean rice dish served with seasonal fresh or sautéed vegetables, a red chili paste and an egg. Here’s a healthy (but definitely not authentic) twist using ground turkey, jasmine brown rice and fresh veggies. This is not your traditional bibimbap, since I swapped ground turkey for ground beef. I added a poached egg because I was lazy about cleaning another pan by frying an egg, and I’m trying to perfect my patching technique in the microwave. I found jarred kimchi at Trader Joe’s for quite cheap. Plus, you have it on hand and you’re not fussing about pickling napa cabbage and making something extra.

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Dairy-Free, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Lightened Up, Meal Prep, One Pot Dish

Mad for this Homemade Massaman Curry

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Not my prettiest of shots, but man, the flavors are there. I love ordering Chicken Massaman Curry when I’m feeling Thai takeout (or the original version of Basil Drunken Noodles or No Fish Sauce Pad Thai), but sometimes, you need all the flavors without the delivery fees. It’s savory, a bit peanut buttery and just plain good curry. Compared to takeout, this curry is less salty, swaps brown for the usual white rice and cuts the fat by using less oil and light coconut milk. I also added a bit more nutrients and flavor with sweet potato instead of potatoes. I saved time using pantry staples like pre-made red curry paste and canned diced tomatoes. I also had rotisserie chicken to use for the week, but I may have to try this with tofu next time. This curry dish is really quite easy using what you probably have in your pantry. Plus, it’s a fun dump-and-run kind of dish, which lets the flavors meld and heighten all on their own.

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Dairy-Free, Entrée, Lightened Up, Meal Prep

Homemade (Almost) Better-than-Takeout Curry Noodles

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This may not be my most photogenic dish, but it’s one I made to satisfy my Thai take-out craving (and my wallet), and I found myself looking forward to my leftovers. These Curry Chicken Noodles are so easy to tailor based on any curry or veggies that you use. The same goes for noodles; you can use boring spaghetti for the same effect or wide rice noodles or thick udon or ramen-like Chinese noodles.

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Dairy-Free, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Lightened Up, Meal Prep, One Pot Dish, Seafood, Vegetarian

Peanutty “I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Kelp Noodles” Bowl

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I’m on a kelp noodle kick. This time I switched it up and made a version with shrimp and edamame in a peanut sauce. Yummmm. Even though it’s pretty low-carb, these bowls are packed with protein to keep you feeling full. (If you’re like omg that’s it? Split between 2 servings instead of 3 or add another pack of noodles.) I really like how these noodles have a distinct crunch and adopt whatever flavor profile you’re using. They’re perfect for a Thai-inspired dish, so have at it and dig in to Peanut Shrimp Kelp Noodle Bowls.

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Dairy-Free, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Lightened Up, Seafood, Vegetarian

Stoked for Sushi Stacks

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I’ve died and gone to sushi heaven. These Tuna Sushi Stacks are to die for. I’ve been eyeing this recipe on Skinny Taste since last summer and have always made a deconstructed version, since the stack never quite works out for me. This time, I went for the full deal — still obviously struggled with keeping the stack neat — and added mango and carrots to my top layer. The sweet addition from the mango was a great decision. I’ve stocked up on mangos lately since Whole Foods has had the 5 for $5 sale. Swapping brown for white rice and adding rice vinegar allows the rice to get “sticky” like you find in sushi restaurants without adding sugar to achieve the same effect. Overall, the sushi stack was tangy, sweet, savory and salty. Also, it’s light, yet filling and satisfies all of your sushi cravings while being homemade and on a budget.

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Dairy-Free, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Lightened Up, Meal Prep, One Pot Dish

The New Trend: Kelp Noodle Bowls

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Kelp noodles are so fun! I never knew they existed until I saw this recipe on TIU. These noodles are super low in calories and carbs and virtually without fat. The noodles have a crunch, an al dente texture and a nondescript taste. They kind of remind me of tofu in the sense that they take on whatever flavors you’re cooking with. I tried my hand at Chicken Kelp Noodle Bowls. I added fresh ginger root, garlic, scallions, soy sauce and lime juice for a fun Asian flair. Toss kelp noodles with chicken cooked in coconut oil and shiitake mushrooms, you have such a fun and decidedly different weekday meal. I liked these so much that I went back to Whole Foods to grab more, but they’re out. I’ll have to make these next week with shrimp — stay tuned!

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Entrée, Gluten-Free, Lightened Up, Low Sugar, Seafood, Vegetarian

Sushiiiiii (Bowls) at Home

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OMG YUMMMM. At first I was grumbling about buying $16 sushi grade tuna at Whole Foods. (I mean, let’s be real. I’m still a bit bitter about that price tag.) Besides buying the tuna and green onions this week, I generally have the remaining produce in my fridge as staples and all the pantry items on hand. Really, this Tuna Sushi Bowl is about $8-9 per bowl with staples aside and a healthy alternative to sushi take-out. While seemingly healthy, sushi can be packed with sodium and added unknowns. Cough, spicy mayo and rice, I’m looking at you. Apparently you can eat a serving a rice per roll?!? The tuna is packed with protein and extremely low in fat. I purposefully cooked extra quinoa when making Crispy Coconut Tofu Bowls just for these bowls. I grabbed everything you’d see in a sushi roll: cucumbers, carrots, avocado, ginger, a spicy “mayo” and wasabi. Packed in a bowl, you won’t even notice it’s not a true sushi roll. AND! Added bonus — these bowls were also really fun to make!

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Asian, Better Than Takeout, Dairy-Free, Low Sugar, Meal Prep, One Pot Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian

Crispy, Crunchy Coconut Tofu

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You know when you go out in the summer and all you see is coconut shrimp this and coconut shrimp that? Here’s a meatless Monday take on that — Crispy Coconut Tofu Bowls. I got this idea/recipe from Well Vegan and it definitely came from a plant-based protein roundup from either SELF or BuzzFeed. (Obviously I receive biweekly emails for meal, recipe ideas and cooking tips from both.) After coming back from Sanibel Island, I was still feeling the tropical vibes during this rainy weather and this recipe seemed like the perfect solution. I definitely cut down on all of Well Vegan‘s prep time, simplified the tofu process, lightened it up by baking instead of frying and skipped their added sauce. This recipe looks way more complicated than it is and just requires a little foresight to prep the tofu ahead of time. By swapping a can of full-drat coconut milk for So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk, the quinoa still turned out dense, yet fluffy with a very subtle coconut flavor. I must say the best part about this is the toasted coconut flakes and panic that result from the baking process — pure perfection.

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Asian, Dairy-Free, Meal Prep, Vegan, Vegetarian

Protein-Packed Plantbased Stir Fry

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Happy Meatless Monday! This colorful stir fry packs 30 g of protein when using 1 egg and 3 T egg whites. Not bad for eating meatless. I got this idea for a Colorful Veggie Stir Fry with Tofu from PopSugar. I’ve realized I don’t get enough protein a day (like most women), and I’ve been trying to consciously add more protein to dishes when I can. My existing diet seems to revolve mostly around veggies and grains (not a bad thing! But hey, carbs), so I’m trying to make a transition to one of a more balanced “macro” diet, but thus, incorporating more protein. Macronutrients can be broken down into carbs or carbohydrates, protein and fat. A macro diet doesn’t focus on calories alone, but the types of calories you’re eating and the certain percentage of how those calories compare. For the stir fry, I added in eggs and tofu. I tried both a steamed veggie (less oil, i.e. fat) and stir fry veggie option. Honestly, they had about the same in flavor and the steamed option was faster and more convenient using your handy microwave. The flavor really comes from the soy sauce for the tofu and sriracha to top. My favorite method was the steamed veggies with scrambles eggs because it was just SO EASY, but I included both below. (Looks complicated, but I assure you it’s not.) I already know what I’m having for lunch the next two days. Also great for meal prepping!

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