{Vegan MoFo} A gluten-free, vegan lunchbox

Yesterday, I showed you what my kids ate for breakfast.

Today, I show you their lunchboxes.

More specifically, the lunches of my school-aged children.

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One of the valuable aspects of posting (almost) daily during Vegan MoFo, is the opportunity it provides to feature foods that we eat on a day-to-day basis.

I wouldn’t want regular readers to think that we live on cheesecake and cupcakes. ūüôā

Although….

I don’t think these lunchboxes help alleviate that impression. Muffins make an appearance. Do they count as cake?

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lunchintroBasmati brown rice with broccoli florets, snowpeas, carrot, tatsoi leaves, tofu, coriander, and a maple-tamari sauce.

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I used a gluten-free recipe called banana scented vanilla cake to make the vanilla banana muffins. The recipe is available here.

I reduced the amount of sugar specified in the recipe by a quarter of a cup, and poured the batter into 15 silicone baking cups. I baked the muffins on 160C (fan forced oven) for 16 minutes.

I think this recipe will become my ‘go to’ gluten-free muffin. I anticipate experimenting with flavour combinations in the near future – chocolate chai sounds appealing. ūüôā

The (biggest) Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

We can ascertain their ‘verdicts’ based on the remnants that returned home in the lunchboxes.

My daughter’s mandarin segments made the trip home. My son’s lunchbox still contained a few pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes. And all of the rockmelon chunks. But, I won’t hold that against him. During the morning rush (and the lunchbox photography session!), I forgot that he doesn’t like rockmelon.

Ally

{Recipe} Pistachio, Carrot and Red Capsicum Pilaf |Crumbed Tofu

Pistachio, Carrot and Red Capsicum Pilaf is tasty, colourful, and simple to prepare.

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The fragrant medley of cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and freshly-picked parsley is enhanced by the subtle crunch of  dry-roasted pistachios. Turmeric adds health-giving properties and a vibrant yellow tone.

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(Pilaf is inspired by this recipe.)

Serves – 5

* Ingredients *

1 large brown onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, grated (equates to about 1 cup)

1 cup red capsicum (bell pepper), diced

1 1/2 cups basmati rice, uncooked

1/3 cup raw whole pistachio nuts, shelled

1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Method

1. In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of water on a low heat. Add onion and saute for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if the onion begins to stick to the saucepan. Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes.

2. Add turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir well, and cook for about 1 minute.

3.  Add the rice to the saucepan, and mix well to coat the rice.

4. Add the vegetable stock to the saucepan. Mix well. Cover the saucepan, and increase the heat to medium. Once the liquid is boiling, lower the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed (about 2o minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat, and use a fork to mix (separate) the grains of rice. Cover the saucepan and let it sit for 10 minutes.

5. Dry roast the pistachios in a non-stick fry pan for a few minutes. Roughly chop the pistachios.

6. Put a large wok or fry pan on a low heat, then add the rice, carrot, capsicum, parsley, pistachios, and lime juice. Mix well.  Heat the pilaf for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally during this time.

7. Serve with a garden salad and crumbed tofu (recipe below).

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Mat assures me that leftover pilaf on wholemeal wheat toast is a satisfying lunchtime combination.

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Pilaf with crumbed tofu

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Crumbed Tofu

My crumbed tofu is inspired by a recipe at¬†Earthgiven Kitchen, called¬†Crispy Breaded Tofu Strips.¬†If you are not familiar with Sarina’s blog, I suggest you check it out. Her crispy breaded tofu strips are scrumptious!

I decided to serve a tofu accompaniment with the pilaf ¬†– and Sarina’s recipe came to mind. I made a few changes to the recipe on this occasion – not because I thought I could improve the recipe, but due to the fact that I was in a bit of a hurry and had a smaller quantity of tofu to work with. For example, ¬†I omitted sesame oil from the marinade and added a couple of teaspoons of sesame seeds to the ‘crumbs’.

Four-year-old Tiny Vegan assisted me to prepare the marinade, and he was unable to resist ‘taste-tasting’ it several times.

Ingredients

250g of firm tofu

marinade:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp applesauce

2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tbsp water

1/8 tsp salt

Crumbed coating:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp corn flour

2 tsp sesame seeds

a pinch of salt

pepper to taste

Method

1. Cut the tofu into sticks, then place the pieces in a container, side-by-side. Set aside.

2. In a jug , add the marinade ingredients. Whisk with a fork. Then pour the marinade over the tofu sticks. Ensure that all of the tofu is well coated. Cover the container and place it in the fridge. Ideally, allow the tofu to marinade overnight, or for a couple of hours. Do not be perturbed if you do not have that much time! Any amount of marination time will be sufficient.

3. In a mixing bowl, add the nutritional yeast, corn flour, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

4. Place each piece of the tofu into the mixing bowl and use your fingers or a spoon to coat each piece well. Once all of the pieces are coated,  heat a non-stick fry pan or skillet.

5. Cook the tofu pieces on all sides until the coating becomes browned and crisp.

6. Serve immediately.

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Tofu sticks are a good finger-food option for toddlers.

 Little Baker enjoyed his pilaf and crumbed tofu.

Little Baker enjoyed his pilaf and crumbed tofu.

Each Monday, I feature a couple of delicious vegan recipes that are enjoyed by my family – I hope your family enjoys them too.

Ally

{Recipe} Mujaddara

Mujaddara is a popular dish throughout the Middle East. It consists of rice, brown lentils and onions.

Apparently, mujaddara is the Arab word for small pox! The lentils among the rice are said to resemble pockmarks. But, don’t let that put you off!

Just in case you are thinking of abandoning any plans to make this recipe, I will bestow on you a quote that demonstrates how important this dish is throughout the ‘Arab world’: ‘A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara’. Presumably, hungry women are too smart to sell their souls for a dish that shares its name with a debilitating disease!

Regardless, I am a fan of mujaddara because it is tasty and it uses ingredients that are staple foods in our household. I have only made mujaddara a handful of times, but the success of last night’s dinner has motivated me to consider preparing it more often.

The accompaniments can vary, depending on what you have available. Let’s face it, it is not hard to create side dishes that compliment rice and lentils!

I used a Lebanese mujaddara recipe to inspire me last night. That recipe is available here. I have adapted it by reducing the oil and salt content, and by adding cumin and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the dish.

Last night, upon tasting his mujadarra, our 3 years old announced: ‘You should taste this. It’s yummy’. Moreover, my heart sang to see our 6 year old son, our Least Adventurous Eater, gobble it up enthusiastically. In fact, he stated that he was thankful for the rice and lentils during our dinnertime¬†‘being thankful session’!

I definitely did not share with them the origins of the name of the dish!

I served the mujaddara with Maple Baked Carrots with Sesame Seeds & Rosemary and Steamed Broccoli & Flaked Almonds.

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Mujaddara

Cooking time – 1 hour

Prep time – 30 minutes

Quantity – serves 4-5

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into thin slices

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown (green) lentils, washed and soaked for 30 minutes

1 tsp salt (optional; I left it out)

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups Basmati rice

Method

1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a fry pan (skillet), then add cumin and cinnamon. Stir until fragrant, then add the thinly sliced onion.

2. Fry onion for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelised. Some burnt bits are good! Set aside.

3. In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add lentils, salt (optional) and water. Stir well. Cover saucepan, and bring water to the boil.

4. Once the water is boiling, add the rice, and stir. Allow the water to simmer rapidly for 10 minutes, with the lid off. Stir occasionally. Most of that water will evaporate during this time.

5. Cover the saucepan, turn to a low heat and simmer until the rice and lentils are tender, about 7 minutes (mine was ready after 7 mins). If the lentils and rice are not cooked, simmer for a few minutes longer. You may also need to add more water if the mixture appears very dry.

6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to stand with the lid on for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

7. Scoop the rice mixture onto a large serving platter. I set 2 cups aside to use for school lunches (see below).

8. Top the rice with the sliced onions.  Serve with tomato wedges, fresh parsley, and lemon wedges. Sprinkle the Mujaddara with salt.

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Maple Baked Carrots with Sesame Seeds and Rosemary

Serves 4 as a side dish

Cooking time – 30 minutes

Prep time – 5 minutes

Ingredients:

2 large carrots, washed

1/2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

raw sesame seeds

fresh rosemary, chopped

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C / 350F

2.  Cut the carrots into thick slices, diagonally.

3. Place carrots into a baking dish. Pour maple syrup over the top. Sprinkle with salt. Use a spoon to mix carrots, coating them evenly with the syrup and salt.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove dish from oven. Stir carrots. Return to oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked.

5, Serve on a small patter. Sprinkle carrots with raw sesame seeds and fresh rosemary. Serve immediately.

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Steamed Broccoli and Flaked Almonds

Serves 4 as a side dish

cooking time- 5 mins

Prep time – 3 mins

Ingredients:

2 cups broccoli florets, washed

flaked almonds

Method

1. Lightly steam the broccoli in a stove top steamer for approximately 5 minutes. It should be bright green in colour and still retain its firmness.

2. Place broccoli on a platter and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Serve immediately.

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School Lunches

I used half of the rice and lentil mixture that I set aside at dinner time, to prepare school lunches.

I added cooked peas, grated carrot, chopped parsley and raw pepitas to the rice mixture. I divided it between two lunch boxes. No resemblance to small pox now!

Are there any foods that you enjoy that have less than desirable names?

Each Monday, I feature a couple of delicious vegan recipes that are enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys them too!

Ally

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