Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peanut Veggie Stir Fry

The other day at work we had our annual holiday potluck. Rather than make something sweet, I decided it would be good to have some vegetables available for myself since potlucks in the past have tended to be rather meat heavy, and I am a vegetarian. To my great surprise, everything on offer at the event was vegetarian!!!

This is a very quick meal to make once your veggies are prepped. If you want to make it during the week and find yourself pressed for time, you could cut up the veggies in advance and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to go.


For the sauce, the only items that might not already be in your pantry and fridge are sesame oil, and Sambal Oelek (Thai red chilli paste). The other magic ingredients are peanut butter and soy sauce.

As you prep your veggies, group them with other veggies that take similar cooking times (for example, celery and carrots together, beans and peas together, peppers and zucchini together). The more organized you are with your mise en place, the faster the cooking process will go.


1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
A large handful of green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
A large handful of snap peas or pea pods, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets (you can also add cauliflower if you like – I didn’t have any on hand)
1 small can water chestnuts
1 small can bamboo shoots, which have been julienned (you can buy them in a can this way)
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 red or yellow pepper, sliced (or ½ a red and ½ a yellow)
You can add mushrooms as well if you like, I don’t care for them so I leave them out J
2 – 3 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
Crushed peanuts (optional)
Cilantro (optional)

Rice or rice noodles (optional)


In a large wok or non stick pan, put 1 – 2 tbsp grapeseed oil and 1 tbsp sesame oil. When it’s hot, add onions and cook for about 5 minutes (you can lower the heat so they don’t burn). Add the garlic and stir for a minute or so. 


Add the celery and carrots. Stir for 2 minutes. 


Then add the beans and peas, broccoli and cauliflower (if using). Stir for 2 minutes. 


Then add the rest of the vegetables. Stir for a couple of minutes – don’t overcook.


Add 1 tsp Sambal Oelek (Thai red chili paste, or if you can’t find Sambal, use another chili sauce). Add 2 – 3 tbsp peanut butter, and 2 tbsp soy sauce (approximately). Salt and pepper. Stir to combine the sauce with the vegetables. Taste it and adjust seasonings as you require.

You can serve it with rice, or rice noodles, or on its own. The julienned bamboo shoots look like noodles and have a similar texture so you might not even notice that the noodles aren’t there. You can add crushed peanuts on top when you serve it, and also cilantro if you have some around.


“Healthy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

A couple of summers ago I took the kids to the US to visit our friends, Karen, Chris, Abby and Bridget. When we arrived, thankfully Karen had baked. It had been quite a long trip and we needed sustenance. One of the Tupperware containers sitting on the counter had her Mom’s tea biscuits in it – yummy and not at all good for you because they are baked with white flour and other bad things.I will share this delicious recipe later with Karen's (and Pat's!) permission.

The other container had these cookies in it. I immediately grabbed one because I have a serious problem with chocolate and I simply cannot pass it up. These cookies looked like regular cookies, but when I took my first bite I realized that there was something different. I thought I detected a hint of maple, but just to be sure, I took another cookie. In the second cookie I confirmed to myself that there was definitely maple in there, but I still could not put my finger on what else was different. So I thought I had better try just one more, just to be certain. I still could not put my finger on it, but knew I could not possibly have a fourth. Instead, I asked Karen for the recipe.

The title was Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies, which I immediately objected to. Who’s fooling who, I thought to myself. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the cookies were made with spelt flour. OK, that’s fine, but that doesn’t make them “healthy”. Then I noticed no eggs – OK, that makes them have low cholesterol, but “healthy”? The recipe also contains oatmeal – so they had extra fibre, maybe that’s a little big healthy. Finally I noticed that instead of sugar, they used maple syrup. So in summary, there is no refined sugar or flour, no eggs, and oatmeal to give extra fibre.

I am still not sure if that is enough to make these cookies “healthy”, but one thing I can tell you for sure is that they are delicious. So here is the recipe, with props to Karen.

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup chocolate chips (the recipe calls for non-dairy chocolate chips; I use regular semi sweet)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional; I don’t use them because my kids don’t like nuts in cookies)
¾ cup rolled oats
½ tsp sea salt
¾ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
2/3 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup grapeseed oil (or safflower, or olive)
2 tbsp filtered water (I use tap water, let’s get real here people)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Combine wet ingredients in another large bowl. Add to dry and mix well. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. (Note: I put it all in one bowl because I don’t like to clean too many dishes. And try not to refrigerate for longer than 15 minutes because the dough gets crumbly.)

Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen.