Cheap & Easy | Protein-Packed Vegetable ‘Noodle’ Stir-fry

As a student, there are times when I have to cut my grocery bill way, way down in order to afford life. When I can’t afford to splurge on the more exotic items I want (hello Coconut Bliss Naked Coconut Ice Cream and bubbly wine), I have a couple of go-to recipes that I turn to throughout the week to make sure that I’m not, quite literally, eating through my money. One delightful perk of my new-found vegetarianism is how cheap my meals can be if I just focus on whole foods. When you’re buying nothing but fresh produce and canned lentils, you can watch your grocery bills go from $60+ to quite often less than $30 in the blink of an eye. Still, no one wants to eat nothing but plain, raw veggies all day, so a little creativity is needed to transform them into delicious and nutritious meals that will leave you totally full for hours, while still craving seconds because it’s just that tasty. This particular recipe is chock full of satiating protein which will leave you satisfied until your next meal – without the bloat that comes from gulping down a steak. It’s also delicious, free of refined carbs and can be whipped up in 20 minutes. Read on to find out how to make this plant-based plate of heaven.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large Carrot
  • 2 Large Zucchinis
  • 1/2 Can Beans (I love chickpeas, pinto beans, and black beans the most but the choice is yours!)
  • 1 Cup Extra Firm Tofu (chopped into cubes)
  • 1/2 Cup Tempeh (chopped)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Slices Vegan Cheese
  • * 1 tbsp Peanut Butter (or almond/cashew butter)
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder 
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • Chili Powder (to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/3 Cup Soya Sauce 
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil

DIRECTIONS
1 // Wash and peel the carrot and zucchini. Use a spiralizer (follow the directions depending on which model you have) to cut both vegetables into long, noodle-like strands. Set aside.

2 // Grease a skillet with a little bit of coconut or olive oil and add the vegetable ‘noodles’. Cook on medium heat.

3 // Rinse your beans or lentils and add them to your noodles along with all of your chosen spices. The spices I have listed here are my favorite, but feel free to get creative with flavours of your choice – for example, curry, turmeric, cayenne etc. Toss the ingredients and turn the heat slightly down.

4 // Add the diced tomato, tofu and tempeh to the stir-fry, along with the soya sauce and sesame oil. Stir all of the ingredients together. 

5 // At this point there will be a lot of liquid in your stir-fry because all of the moisture will be cooking out of the vegetable noodles and tomato. One way to thicken it up is to add a bit of peanut butter (or any nut butter). This will also give the dish extra protein and enhance the Asian-inspired flavours. It’s totally optional but I really enjoy the creamy consistency and rich, nutty flavour it gives the stir-fry.

6 // Continue to simmer the mixture on low-heat until all of the extra juices have been reduced. Feel free to add some vegan cheese for a little extra flavour and creaminess! 

7 // Serve on its own or with some brown rice or quinoa for even more bite and protein. This dish is extremely filling (contrary to the popular belief that vegetarian and vegan meals leave you feeling hungry) and this recipe makes enough for two or three portions. Again, this recipe is totally customizable depending on your tastes. Swap out the spices and vegetables for your favorites. Don’t like carrots? Spiralize sweet potato or parsnips instead! Not a fan of tofu? Add some seitan and cut up portobello mushrooms! 

I have really enjoyed cooking vegetarian meals and I find that because they do not have meat, the extra effort and creativity that goes into creating these dishes makes them even more delicious then some of the carnivorous meals I enjoyed in the past. It’s also nice not feeling bloated or lethargic after every meal! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a vegetarian or vegan, keeping at least some of your meals completely plant-based throughout the week will have a powerfully positive effect on your health – as well as your cooking prowess! 

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! Also, as always, I’m always snooping around for new veggie recipes, so please give me a shout my herbivore friends! 

xoxo,

Alicia

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