#Vegan Recipe: BBQ Tofu Salad (Perfect leftover use!)

It all starts with Cross Country. It is upon us.

Starting tomorrow and continuing for the next two months, I will be traveling on an un-air conditioned yellow school bus to various invitational cross country meets in Southern California. Let me change that slightly to make you feel even sorrier for me. I will be traveling on that bus with 31 teenagers.

Actually I jest. I love my team and actually enjoy the bus ride (pillows are key!). This week our meet is at Cal Poly in Pomona, so we’re looking at a two hour drive. Add the actual races and the lunch stop in there, you’re saying goodbye to Saturday. Not to mention the bus leaves from the school at 5:00 am. Yes, you read that right.

That brings me, finally, to my point. I love coaching cross country but it is very time consuming. We have practice daily (except Sunday, thank goodness), the meet on Saturday, plus I have rosters to type, results to compile, etc. Of course, I have a full time job, and this whole blogging thing. Plus, you know, I like to exercise a bit here and there. I am fortunate that my husband is my co-coach, so at least we get to see each other during cross country season.

I am time challenged! There are not enough hours in the day. Something’s got to give!

What seems to give first is food preparation. Generally, I cook at home almost all the time. I do that for many reasons. I love to cook, it is obviously much healthier, restaurant food is expensive, plus the lack of vegan restaurants in my area discourages eating out.

Just because I’m busy, I don’t want to give up healthy eating. I am not and never will be organized enough to prepare a full week’s worth of dinners on Sunday. Plus, I’d be spending my only real day off in the kitchen. Instead, I think BIG. Instead of using my small bit of leftovers for lunch, I prepare enough food for at least two meals. Alan’s happy as long as there is one day in between the same dish. And I’m happy to have an easy meal to prepare (can you say “reheat?”)

The other way to think BIG is to use the leftovers to create an entirely different dish. Think of the variations on leftover Thanksgiving turkey. That is what I did for this BBQ Tofu Salad. The other night, I prepared the barbecued tofu (I should say BBQ-style because I cooked it in the oven), and served it with corn. I made an extra portion knowing that I would do something with it later on in the week. This salad is the result.

Before we get to the recipe, check out my video of my Cross Country team rockin’ a gym workout!

Cross Country


BBQ Tofu Salad with Arugula and Smoky & Spicy Ranch Dressing

The BBQ tofu was leftovers, but I originally prepared it by slicing a drained block of tofu into three slices, marinating in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce), 1 teaspoon liquid smoke. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for about a half hour. We had two of the slices for dinner and I refrigerated the third slice.

Since the leftover tofu is cold, you might want to warm it up a bit before putting it in the salad. Cut it into small cubes. Combine arugula (or other favorite greens), tomato, yellow pepper, green onions, kidney beans (or other beans of choice), radishes, avocado, and tofu. Toss together with Smoky and Spicy Ranch Dressing (I used the dressing from this recipe and added 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke). Feel free to switch up veggies, add some nuts or seeds, etc. It’s your salad. Enjoy.

One nice thing about those long bus rides. If I bring my computer, they’re perfect for getting some writing done!


Enjoy my last free weekend for a while last week in Idyllwild.

How do you manage eating healthy in spite of your busy schedule? Any tips to share?

#Vegan Recipe: Quinoa, Avocado, and Mandarin Orange “Chicken” Salad

“Here she is with yet another quinoa recipe,” you may be saying. And you’d be right. I’ve certainly expressed my love of quinoa both here and on numerous other recipe blogs. This high protein, power packed grain is the perfect addition to salads, can be served as a side dish on its own, tastes delicious either hot or cold, and is quick and easy to prepare. What’s not to like?

I eat a lot of salads. A lot of salads. Salads are cool (literally), salads are fast, making a salad doesn’t heat up your house. All this stuff in important during the summer in La Quinta, where we generally say goodbye to two digit temperatures from June through September.

Just because they’re called salads, don’t be thinking that they are some kind of wimpy lettuce and tomato concoction designed to create fast weight loss. My salads have substance. They have oomph. They are hearty. I’d say this is because I have to please a man, my husband, but I’d be lying. I’m the one with the appetite, and my salads satisfy.

Quinoa, Avocado, and Mandarin Orange “Chicken” Salad

1 package Mandarin Orange “Chicken” (Both Gardein and Trader Joes have excellent choices)
1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions, cooled or chilled
3 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
8 oz can mandarin oranges, drained and split (half for the salad, half for the dressing)
1/4 cup sliced almonds, roasted
1/2 cup edamame, cooked and chilled
1 avocado, cut into small chunks
Mango/Mandarin Vinaigrette (see below)


Prepare the Mandarin Orange “Chicken” according to package directions. (In spite of the heat, I chose the baked method because they come out crispier that way). I let them cool a little.

Prepare the quinoa and set aside to cool, or refrigerate for an hour to chill.

Combine all the ingredients and toss together. Serve.

Mandarin Mango Vinaigrette

1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 can (8 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/8 cup agave syrup
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

There you have it. Another quinoa/summer salad. Around here we’ve got another two months of hot weather. Stay tuned, I’ll probably be serving up some more.

Are you a salad eater? Do you have a favorite? Isn’t quinoa the most awesomest food ever?

Mandarin Orange “Chicken” Salad. Vegan. Transition Recipe

The other day, when I posted my Vegan Resource article (which included an easy “Chicken” Piccata recipe), I promised another “beginner vegan” recipe. As I mentioned in that post, giving up meat, whatever your reasons, can be challenging. When you’ve based your meals around a meat entree for years, you might be left wondering what you can eat.

I suggest making the transition to a plant based diet by taking baby steps toward learning how to prepare tasty vegan meals. Meat substitutes can help with this transition, allowing you to create dishes that you are comfortable with. As time goes on, you will probably find, as I did, how much fun and how delicious it is to cook with whole, unprocessed foods, and you will gradually move away from the mock meats.

For this recipe I used Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken-less Morsels and Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. Gardein also makes a great Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n, but I was at TJ’s so that’s what I used. I was originally going to use a Mango Lime Vinaigrette, but I was shopping, this sounded good, so there you go.

Mandarin Orange “Chicken” Salad

One Package Mandarin Orange “Chicken” Nuggets (either Trader Joe’s or Gardein)
1/4 cup toasted almonds
Three cups mixed greens
1/2 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 cup snow or snap peas
1/2 cup edamame, shelled
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (if you don’t like cilantro, you can skip it)
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/4 cup spicy peanut vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pepper to taste

Prepare the “chicken” according to package directions (they give you cooking options, I prefer to bake them for extra crispiness). Allow to cool, but don’t chill.

Spread the almonds in a small pan and toast (at the same temp as the chicken is fine) for a few minutes.

Measure out 1/4 cup of the spicy peanut vinaigrette. Mix in the ginger and pepper to taste.

Toss the greens, tomatoes, onions, peas, cilantro, and edamame in a large bowl. Add the dressing, avocado, and almonds and toss gently. Add the “chicken” and toss lightly.

Serves 2-3.

If you are a “new” vegan, a vegetarian thinking about switching to a plant based diet, or an omnivore exploring options or trying to eat less meat, check out my Vegan Resources for lots of information and links for blogs, recipes, cookbooks, and more.

Are you vegan? How did you make the switch?

Do you have a favorite blog, book, movie, or cookbook that I didn’t list? Share!

Triple Protein Packed Salad. Recipe. Vegan.

As any vegetarian or vegan knows, the most frequent question that we are asked is, “Where do you get your protein?”

And the vegan standard answer is, “everywhere. Most food has protein and if you are eating enough calories, you are probably getting enough protein.”

The need for protein is seriously over-exaggerated in the minds of most Americans. If you ask a random person off the street why humans need meat, chances are he will say, “for the protein.” In actuality, we need less than we think. Even for body builders, serious weight lifters, boxers, and endurance athletes, it is not difficult to get plenty of protein on a vegan diet. Check out Robert Cheeke, Ryan Wilson, Tim Bradley, and Scott Jurek.

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

Basically, depending on your activity level, you need .36-.81 grams of protein per pound of body weight (source). Suggested numbers can vary, though. In this article, vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke discusses his diet and uses the suggested amount of 1.0-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight for athletes and bodybuilders. For myself, when I do the calculations I need about 78 grams of protein per day.

Just because I can easily get enough protein doesn’t mean I should just take it for granted. Because plant proteins are absorbed differently than animal sources, I must make sure that I get my protein from a variety of foods and possibly aim for a slightly higher ratio of protein grams to body weight (source) .

This salad is triple packed with protein. In addition to the greens and vegetables, which contain from 1-5 grams of protein per serving, plus an avocado which has about 7 grams, it also contains some super vegan protein sources: Tofu = 8 grams protein/3 ounces (I actually used Trader Joes High Protein tofu with 14 grams protein per 3 ounces), kidney beans = 7 grams per 1/2 cup and Quinoa = 5 grams per 1/2 cup.

You can compare the above to beef which has about 7 grams of protein per ounce.

Now, if you’re a vegan who has felt somewhat stumped by the “where do you get your protein” question, or an omnivore who has always wondered, I hope that you have a better understanding of our protein requirements and resources.

Triple Protein Packed Salad

8 ounces tofu, drained and pressed
2 Tablespoons tamari
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions and chilled
1 can kidney beans (or beans of your choice), drained and rinsed
3 cups mixed greens
1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup jicama, chopped
1/2 cup snow peas
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 avocado, cut into medium chunks
Vinaigrette Dressing of your choice – I used Mango Lime Vinaigrette from this recipe.

After pressing the tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine the tamari, broth, and Sriracha and marinate the tofu for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the tofu on all sides (reserving the marinade). When the tofu is brown, add the marinade, stir, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Remove the tofu from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Combine the greens, quinoa, beans, carrots, tomatoes, jicama, peas, and onions and toss lightly. Add the tofu and toss gently. You can serve now or chill. Add the avocado and dressing to taste right before serving.

Makes 2-3 “big salad” servings.

Protein-Packed-Salad-Vegan Recipe

Approximate Nutrition Data (based on 3 servings):

This chart does not include the extra protein that is in the high protein tofu. That would increase the amount to about 25 grams of protein per serving. If you are reducing calories in your diet, you can use a lower calorie dressing (or just use a little lemon–there is a lot of flavor in the salad already). You can also skip or reduce the amount of avocado. While avocados are delicious and very good for you, they do contain a lot of fat, albeit a good fat, so take that into consideration.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about protein needs and a vegetarian or vegan diet. If you have more questions, please ask in the comments. I will be happy to answer (or find the answer if I don’t know).

Quinoa, Kale, and Avocado Salad with Tarragon Lime Vinaigrette. Vegan

Quinoa is the new black!

Quinoa recipes are all over the place. And for a very good reason. Quinoa, which looks like a grain, is actually a seed, and is more closely related to leafy green vegetables like spinach or Swiss chard. Although it seems to be a fairly new addition to the American diet, the history of quinoa spans all the way back to the ancient Incas.

Quinoa is loaded with all sorts of healthful nutrients. A four ounce serving has about five grams of protein, more than any other grain. The protein it provides is complete, meaning that it has all nine of the essential amino acids. The carbohydrates in quinoa are complex, low-glycemic (35), gluten free, and have about 3 grams of fiber in a four ounce serving. Quinoa is a good source of folate, magnesium, and phosphorus, and a very good source of manganese.

To top that off, quinoa is quick and easy to prepare, and has a delicious, nutty flavor that tastes great all on its own or can be combined with other ingredients to make either a simple side salad or a filling one-dish meal that can be served hot or cold. I find that when the weather warms up, my quinoa recipes cool down, and its very simplicity and lightness make it perfect for summer dining.

Quinoa, Kale, and Avocado Salad with Tarragon Lime Vinaigrette


1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions. Can be used either warm or cold.
1/4 cup yellow or orange peppers, chopped.
1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup toasted almonds, sliced
1 cup kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1 lime
Tarragon Lime Vinaigrette (see below)


Combine the peppers, cucumber, green onions, almonds, and kale. Toss lightly. Toss in the quinoa. Add the avocado on top of the salad and squeeze some lime juice over the top before mixing carefully with the rest of the salad. Add the Tarragon Lime Vinaigrette slowly, tossing it gently with the salad, until lightly coated, but not heavy (you may not need all of the dressing). Serve right away or chill for 1-2 hours.

Tarragon Lime Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/8 cup white wine or tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk together all ingredients.

Can’t get enough of quinoa? Check out my other quinoa recipes:

Quinoa, Black Bean, and Kale Bowl

Salad with Quinoa, Kale, and Tarragon Dressing

Asparagus, Avocado, and Quinoa Salad with Mango Lime Vinaigrette

Do you have a favorite quinoa recipe? Share the link or the recipe! Please!

Asparagus, Avocado, and Quinoa Salad. Mango Lime Vinaigrette. Vegan

I have this problem. When I make salad I tend to load it up with too many ingredients. Like an artist who can’t tell when their painting is finished, I just keep on adding things, a few nuts and seeds here, some fruit there, until there are so many flavors it is hard to distinguish one from the other.

As I was driving home from work yesterday, planning this salad in my head, I was determined not to let it happen this time. The weather is warming up here in the desert and the thought of a chilled asparagus salad sounded delicious. I mentally started my shopping list, and right away I decided: none of my standard salad ingredients, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers; no nuts or seeds, no fruit, no tofu.

Avocado was allowed, because it is healthful and, well, I love it. I wasn’t going to use peppers, because, frankly, I don’t care for them, but the yellow and orange peppers looked so lovely I changed my mind. Beans were good, I chose white Great Northern beans. Oh, and a few scallions, maybe some edamame. See what’s already happening here? That was before I decided that adding quinoa would be just the thing.


It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I hadn’t thought about a dressing. A quick search through the refrigerator and I came up with some frozen mangoes and a couple limes. That sounded cool and refreshing, perfect for the salad I had in mind.

Asparagus, Avocado, and Quinoa Salad with Mango Lime Vinaigrette
(The recipe makes enough for four meal sized salads. )

2 cups quinoa, prepared according to package directions and allowed to cool
16-20 spears asparagus, steamed and chilled
Mixed lettuce greens
1 can white beans (I used Great Northern), rinsed, drained, and chilled
1 cup cooked edamame
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 avocado, sliced
A few slices each of yellow and orange peppers per salad
Lime juice

For each salad arrange about a cup of greens on a large salad plate. Sprinkle 1/2 cup quinoa over the lettuce. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of beans, 1/4 cup of edamame, and 2 tablespoons of scallions over the quinoa. Lay 4-5 spears of asparagus, pepper slices and avocado across the top. Drizzle with Mango Lime Vinaigrette (recipe below).

Asparagus Salad

Mango Lime Vinaigrette

1 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/8 cup agave syrup
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. It will be thick at first because of the frozen mango. Allow it to sit while you assemble the salads and it should be just the right consistency.

With the exception of the quinoa (which can be room temperature or slightly warm), everything should be served chilled. That is what makes this the perfect summer salad!