Cooking is my therapy

Cooking is my therapy

To me, summer means the time for cooking, the time to explore all of my culinary ambitions that have accumulated throughout the school year.

So, everyday, I cook dinner for my family, and there are always a couple of essentials (ingredients, kitchen tools, etc.) and things I keep in mind.

When I first step into the kitchen, I always venture into the fridge to figure out what it is that I want to cook. My dinners typically consist of some kind of soup, starch (usually rice), and two main/side dishes: veggies and protein or sometimes more veggies. So, I’ll make the rice first in a rice cooker (takes about an hour) so that the rice will be finished when I’m finished cooking.

Then, with the veggies and/or protein that I’ve selected for the meal, I search for recipes. My go-to resources have been The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, New York Times Cooking, and Food and Wine. If there’s a recipe that I love, I’ll remember it and make slight modifications to ingredients if necessary. I love going to the farmer’s market and buying exotic vegetables so that I can try out recipes on my family!

My favorite recipes have been these caramelized broccoli “steaks” (so soft and delicious!), brocollini, veggie gratin (minus the cheese, I used nutritional yeast instead), and mashed potatoes with root vegetables.

I find that searching for new recipes every night actually helps me be more adventurous in the kitchen. Now, I’m less intimidated by baking vegetables instead of stir frying, broiling instead of baking, and using a variety of spices.

By the time I’m done with my main dishes, the rice is ready. I simply heat up the soup that my dad makes every weekend for the week, and dinner is done! Cooking every night is the most therapeutic part of the day for me, and I can’t wait to try more cooking techniques for the rest of the summer! I’m thinking of experimenting with more beans and grains.

What are YOU cooking??

Love,

Serena

 

Asparagus for Any Day

Asparagus for Any Day

I’ve always loved asparagus because of how fun it is to eat! Asparagus isn’t like spinach or lettuce where I feel like a cow eating it with stems and leaves sticking stubbornly out of my mouth. Instead, asparagus is crunchy and texturally satisfying. Also, fun fact, 1 cup of asparagus has 100% of the daily value of Vitamin K for blood clotting and bone support.

If you follow our Avolicious Instagram, you’ll know that I was sick this past week. I had a fever and I still have a sore throat, but I made this delicious asparagus dish that was both healthy and satisfying. My recipe was based off of my spiced fried rice recipe in that I used similar super healthy spices.

Here’s the simple recipe and I hope you give it a try!


Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 pound Asparagus (duh)

1 tbsp Minced garlic/garlic powder

1/2 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

(That’s it!! only 4 ingredients!!)

Process:

1.) Wash asparagus and chop into 1.5 inch pieces.

2.) Heat 1 tbsp. water in a pan and add minced garlic if using

3.) Once water is hot, add asparagus and cook for 2 minutes

4.) Add turmeric and black pepper

Yay!! All done. This recipe is easy easy you really don’t need to have many cooking skills for it! Plus, the turmeric is amazing for fighting inflammation, and black pepper helps the body absorb the nutrients from the turmeric.

Enjoy!

-Serena 

Quick and Easy Fried Rice

Quick and Easy Fried Rice

Sometimes, I’m just too tired to cook. I know, shocking, but after a long afternoon of shopping, all I want to do is lay down. So, on these days, I usually  just take whatever I have in the fridge. throw it all together, and call it a meal. But there are times when these haphazard cooking days actually turn out amazing. One example of this is my spiced fried rice.

I’m not going to lie, there were a lot of ingredients I used (mainly from spices) as this is a spiced Fried Rice. But trust me, it is good. Especially when you’re tired because the heartiness of this dish just warms you right up.

Also, each spice that I use has a plethora of health benefits associated with it. For example, turmeric is strongly anti0inflammatory, has powerful antioxidant effects, and prevents common diseases overall. I use pepper in this recipe because it helps the body absorb the turmeric more effectively.

Servings:2
Ingredients:
-2 eggs
– 2 cloves garlic minced
-1 tsp ginger
-1 carrot chopped
-1 stalk celery chopped
– 2 handfuls dark leafy greens
– 1 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1/2 tsp pepper
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
-2 tsp olive oil
-1/4 cup broth or water as needed
-1/4 cup cashews
– 2 tbsp sesame seeds
-2 cups brown rice
– optional: any type of meat/meat substitute leftover, I used 2 scallops, chopped up
Note: These ingredients can be substituted for other similar ingredients! This recipe is meant to be a clean-out-the-fridge, whatever-you-have-on-hand type of recipe. For example, you can switch out brown rice for white rice, or the dark leafy greens for broccoli. The possibilities are endless.
Procedure:
1.) Heat half of the olive oil (1tsp) in a pan, and then scramble the two eggs. Remove from pan.
2.) Heat the remaining olive oil on high heat with the minced garlic and ginger
3.) Once the aromatics smell fragrant, add the chopped carrot, celery, and meat leftover and sautée everything for about 2 minutes. The meat should be heated through, and the carrots and celery should be a bit crunchy
4.) Add the leafy greens and sautée until wilted. Meanwhile, add the scrambled eggs, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, and Chinese five spice
5.) Add the rice, and some liquid to help break up any clumps. I used bone broth that I of course had leftover, but you can also use water or another type of broth. Add the soy sauce, cashews, and sesame seeds.
6.) Give everything a good mix and you’re done!
What is your favorite leftover recipe?
Love,
Serena
3 Overnight Oats Recipes

3 Overnight Oats Recipes

Whenever I have a really late night spent doing homework, I know I won’t be able to sit down and enjoy a long breakfast in the morning because I’ll likely wake up late. My solution used to be to make a really simple breakfast that morning to eat in the car, like an almond butter banana sandwich. But that still took too much time in the mornings. So, my solution this year has been to make overnight oats!

Most of the time, I’ll make chocolate banana oats. I love the banana chocolate combination so much!

Ingredients:

2/3 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 banana mashed

1 tsp sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.)

1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all of the ingredients in a mason jar or Tupperware and leave in the fridge overnight. The oats will soak in the almond milk, making them soft. In the morning, you can grab it and go, or you can heat it up too. Also, you can add additional toppings. Some of my favorites include  pomegranate seeds, dark chocolate, almond shavings, and blueberries.

  


Sometimes I even mix in chia seed pudding (3/4 cup almond milk with 1/4 cup chia seeds 1 tsp vanilla and sweetener of choice.

When I don’t have banana or cocoa powder at home, I  make vanilla overnight oats.

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Here I layered chia seed pudding, chocolate banana overnight oats, strawberries, vanilla overnight oats, and blueberries.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup almond milk

2/3 cup rolled oats

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp apple sauce

Procedure:

Same as above! I add applesauce to bind the oats, but they’re optional. I also add cinnamon because it’s a nutrient-packed super food! It’s filled with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins, minerals, and so much more. Even 1 tsp can have positive impacts on your body!

Finally, chocolate peanut butter overnight oats.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, agave, etc.)

1 tsp cinnamon

Procedure:

Again, same as above, so easy!!

Overnight oats are my GO-TO breakfast. They’re fast, simple, and nutritious, and they give me something to look forward to in the morning!

What is your favorite flavor of overnight oats??

Love,

Serena

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

After trying my raw vegan brownie recipe many many times, I think I’ve perfected it! These brownies are a lot like my bliss ball recipe. It is adapted from Minimalist Baker’s recipe.

soak dates to make it easier for your food processer!

dirty hands? no problem!

Ingredients

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup cocoa/cacao powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup of dates pitted and soaked

1 tbsp or more of water (see step 4)

Optional:

Cacao nibs, more nuts, chia seeds and other add-ins!

Steps:

1.) Process walnuts

2.) Add almond meal, cacao powder and salt and mix

3.) Transfer dry mixture to a bowl and process dates

4.) Combine dates and dry mixture using your hands-it gets sticky! Add water as necessary

5.) Press brownie mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper and press in the optional ingredients as desired.

6.) Refrigerate for 1 hour and enjoy!!😋😋

This recipe only takes 15 minutes to prep. The finished brownies and be stored in the fridge or at room temperature in a sealed container.

So much Love,

Serena

Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

Tofu with Teriyaki Sauce

Tofu is one of those comfort foods I enjoy so much. And, there’s an added bonus:it’s healthy. Packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats, it’s my go-to substitute for meat.

While pan frying it is a quick and easy preparation, I decided to amp up the flavor with a homemade “teriyaki” sauce. Here’s the recipe…

1.) Start with a block of firm tofu. Drain the tofu, using paper towels to soak up the moisture. Cut into small cubes and pan fry. (I used half a block here)

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2.) Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by heating half a cup of mirin and half a cup of soy sauce in a small pan. Add half a teaspoon of garlic, ginger, and scallion to the mixture when simmering, and incorporate the cooked tofu cubes.


3.) Enjoy!!

This recipe is super easy and I hope you’ll give it a try.

What is your favorite way to make tofu?

Love,

Serena

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

Lettuce Wraps and Leftovers

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Now that I’m finally on summer break, I have been cooking every meal for my family. So, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different recipes and ways to use leftovers. It’s safe to say that my parents can’t live without meat, so I’ve been challenging them to be more adventurous with their veggies. Last night, I made this lettuce wrap “bar” complete with Romaine hearts, chickpeas, carrots, red bell pepper, and oyster mushrooms. Also, (not shown here), I used a tiny bit of tartar sauce to amp up the flavors. To appease my parents, I did sear some salmon that I seasoned with only salt and pepper. It turned out perfect, no need to season it any more. Also in the picture was soup that my dad made in bulk on the weekend, some leftover turkey, and leftover brown rice.

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Green tea ice cream mochi. So good!!

Since my mom and I went on a Trader Joe’s run earlier that day, we purchased a lot of frozen desserts, and of course, I had to have some of them after dinner!

 

We did have some leftovers after the dinner-salmon, bell peppers, carrots, and chickpeas. I simply incorporated these ingredients into my meals the next day.

 

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My breakfast omelet had bell peppers and carrots. Then, for lunch, I made a salad with a green medley (arugula, spinach, kale, romaine) with yellow bell pepper, the leftover chickpeas, and the leftover salmon. I also drizzled some Miso-Ginger Dressing (also leftover from a while ago :))

What are your favorite lettuce wrap ingredients? Lmk in the comments 🙂

With Love,

Serena

Summer Food Go-To’s

Summer Food Go-To’s

As school ends and summer break rolls in, I’ve started thinking about all the recipes I’ll bring back from last summer, and new ones that I’m excited to try.

First, I am definitely making my quinoa bowl. Last summer after my half day math camp, I would come home and make this lunch everyday. The bowl consists of quinoa with spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, minced garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil.

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This bowl is very filling, healthy, and bright. Perfect for a long day at camp!

Next, I will be making nice cream! I made a post about it a while back 🙂

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This isn’t my pic, but it’s so pretty!

I definitely want to make some bliss balls for an energizing snack.

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Of course, lots of FRUIT! I also love putting lemon and orange slices in my water.

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I stole this from insta 🙂

I’m also super looking forward to grilling some mangoes! This may sound weird, but mangoes develop an amazing sweetness when there are some lovely grill marks.

What are you excited to make this summer?

With Love,

Serena

Healthiness Compilation

Healthiness Compilation

I will bombard you with a bunch of healthy things because I (for once) took pictures of a lot of the things I ate! Eye-candy!

First, this beet juice that I made! It was so refreshing and delicious, and it only took a few ingredients : beets, carrots, apples, pears, ginger, water.

Next, an on-the-go breakfast that I had recently when I was running late to classes 🙂

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Chobani greek yogurt (banana+oats) and Chia seed pudding with raspberries and agave

This breakfast was healthy, satisfying, and filling, which is exactly what I needed before a long day at school!

I also had numerous bowls of healthy goodness.

First up, my go-to bowl that I made everyday for lunch last summer:

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Quinoa with cherry tomatoes, spinach, half an avocado, and pine nuts mixed with minced garlic and olive oil.

And then this one:

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I ate this for dinner and it was inspired by all the vegan Youtubers that I have been watching lately. It had potatoes, broccoli, tofu, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes.

I hope you enjoyed those healthy pics! What is your favorite bowl combo?

With Love,

Serena

Healthy Eating “Detox”

Healthy Eating “Detox”

Do detoxes really work?

Yesterday, my family and I celebrated Mother’s Day at a pancake house for breakfast, at a fair where we drank a lot of bubble tea, and then in Philly for a midnight snack-eating congee and crepes. Today, we’ll be eating at a Chinese restaurant for dinner.

In between these heavy comfort foods, I tried to “detox”- or reverse the adverse affects of the pancakes, etc. with healthy foods. For lunch, I had a spinach salad with couscous and avocados, then for dinner we had tofu, salmon, and asparagus. Today, I had veggie scrambled eggs, raw vegan bliss balls, a pomegranate, a load of pineapple, a lot of water, and a lovely beet smoothie before dinner.

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This isn’t my picture, but the result looked the same 🙂 I blended water with a beet, a carrot, a pear, an apple, and a small knob of ginger and ran the smoothie through a sieve to result in a juice!

Eating all of these healthy foods and drinks made me wonder if this “detox” was working, or if it was just a way to make me feel better about my diet…However, I did notice that I was feeling a lot drowsier after eating the pancakes and bubble tea. The healthy foods gave me a lot more energy.

So, do “detoxes” (eating unhealthy and then trying to balance it with extremely healthy) work? I can say that the healthy made me feel a lot better-mentally and physically. What do you think?

Happy Mother’s Day to all the hardworking mothers out there!

Love,

Serena