I mentioned a few posts ago that I’m giving the vegetarian diet a try. I’m going strong after three weeks and so far, I’m feeling good. I did have to fudge one time because I was at a Pho (Vietnamese soup – delicious!) restaurant and while the majority of these places have a vegetarian option, this one did not. So, I got the beef soup but just kept the beef on the side and had the rest of the soup (which includes a scrumptious beef broth, rice noodles, bean sprouts, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, and lots of other stuff … and in my bowl, it’s all topped with a few splashes of spicy Saracha chili sauce). If you have the chance to try Pho, give it a go! It does depend on the place, so if you don’t like it one place, try the place next door—and in Seattle, they literally can be right next to each other!

Anyway … that was a bit of a Pho tangent! Back to veggie! I have been quite successful in narrowing my diet to the plant variety. I’ve made a 3-Bean Chili with lentils, tomatoes and onions along with homemade cornbread. (I’ll pass on the recipe one of these days.) But I want to talk about last night’s meal, because I’m quite proud of it!

A few weeks ago I was in Portland–an experience that was great since I saw this guy but not so great because my car got broken into! Anyway, more importantly, I went to dinner with my cousin, Todd, at the Tin Shed Garden Café and had the fantastic Fungus Among Us sandwich. From the menu: Sauteed Portobello mushrooms, sweet onion and garlic on grilled sourdough with pepperjack, chipotle aioli and avocado. YUM! I got it sans pepperjack, and it was still delicious! So, I had Portobello on the mind when I was thinking about this week’s menu: Portobello Mushrooms with Onions, Peppers and Quinoa with a side of Kale Chips.

I adapted the mushroom recipe from the cookbook: The No Tofu Vegetarian Cookbook and came across the Kale Chips’ recipe over the internet.

Portobello Mushrooms with Onions, Peppers and Quinoa

½ cup rinsed quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut thin
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Large Portobello Mushrooms
½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
½ Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

  • Start quinoa by following directions on package, just substituting the vegetable broth for the water. (The vegetable broth adds a ton more flavor to the overall quinoa as making it with plain water leaves it a little bland. If you don’t have the broth, water works too — you just may want to add a few spices to give it more flavor.)
  • Heat oil in large, nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook stirring frequently until firm-tender (5-7 minutes). Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Remove stems from mushroom caps. (But keep the gills.)
  • Push the onions and pepper to one side of the skillet and place mushroom caps, right side up, in the skillet. Drizzle soy and balsamic over the mushrooms and reduce heat to low. Cook 2-3 minutes. Turn mushrooms over and cook covered an additional 2-3 min.
  • Layer quinoa and onions/peppers mixture on top of the mushroom cap. Enjoy!

Now onto the Kale Chips. These sound weird, yes. But they are fantastic! I think the kids would like these too … there is a sense of a potato chip with kind of a popcorn taste. I think they are delicious. I’d rather be snacking on this healthy snack than the oil-laden potato variety!

NOTE: these are best right out of the oven. They do last a day, but are not quite as tasty.

Kale Chips

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium bunch kale (12 ounces), washed, stemmed, and chopped into 1-inch pieces

  • Preheat oven to 350. Place rack in center of oven
  • Whisk all ingredients except kale in a small dish. Place kale in a large bowl and toss with dressing to coat. Spread kale onto a large baking sheet in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches) Bake for 8-10 minutes. Toss chips with a wooden spatula and return to oven for another 7-8 minutes, until crispy throughout.
  • Note: This made too much dressing for me, so just eyeball as to how much you want to add to it.

Let me know if you try (and/or like) any of these recipes! I’ve been impressed with the vegetarian recipes that are out there, so who knows, I may end up sticking to this diet for longer than a month! I’ll keep you posted.