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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

During our lovely vacation in Hawaii, my husband and I enjoyed a tasty meal at a café inside a health food market on the sunny Kona coast. We ordered a delicious Asian entrée that featured tofu and coconut milk garnished with a generous sprinkle of roasted peanuts. The rich blend of flavors left such a pleasant memory that I attempted to recreate the dish shortly after we returned from the islands.

The easy stir-fry is a colorful and super-flavorful main dish that uses familiar items from the pantry, so you won't have to spend valuable time searching exotic markets. It's also an ideal weekday meal that's quickly assembled. Funny thing is, it's so delicious, it disappears almost as quickly. Serve the dish over steamed brown rice or other whole grains like quinoa or buckwheat to soak up the richness of the coconut milk sauce.

Coconut milk has been available in cans for years. Recently it can be found packaged in 1-quart (1 liter) milk-carton containers in the refrigerated section of most markets. The first pressing of fresh coconut is known as coconut cream. It's thick, ultra-rich tasting, and very high in total and fat--about 17 to 21g.

The second pressing called coconut milk is still very tasty but considerably lower in total fat--about 7 to 9g. Low Fat coconut milk contains about 3 to 5g total fat, yet offers plenty of flavor.

Kona Coconut Stir Fry


Yield: 4 hearty servings

    2 medium broccoli crowns, cut into bite-size florets, stems sliced
    1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin julienne, about 2-inches (5 cm) long
    1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
    1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes
    1/4 cup (60 ml) water

    1/2 pound (226g) extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes

    1 1/4 cups (300 ml) coconut milk
    1 cup (240 ml) dried shredded coconut
    3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    1 teaspoon maple syrup
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    Pinch cayenne
    Pepper to taste

    2 to 3 tablespoons roasted crushed peanuts

  1. Combine the broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and water in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over high heat until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to keep the mixture from drying out.
  2. Add the tofu cubes. Decrease the heat to medium high and add the coconut milk, dried coconut, Bragg Liquid Aminos, vinegar, sesame oil, maple syrup, salt, cayenne, and pepper. Stir frequently and adjust seasonings if needed.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish, and sprinkle with roasted peanuts.

For good flavor, use coconut milk with about 7 to 9 grams of fat. Higher fat coconut milk will make the sauce too heavy, while the lower fat version tastes a little watery. However, if you are concerned about high fat, the very low fat coconut milk with 3 to 5 grams of fat will still contribute flavor and richness to the dish.

For a more dramatic presentation and appealing color contrast, serve over mahogany brown rice or any of the many varieties of dark brown rice available in natural food markets and some Asian groceries.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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