Saturday, April 26, 2014

Adventures in Eating

A plant-based diet does not have to equal bland or boring.  Whenever I feel a food rut coming on, I look up a new recipe or pick up some interesting ingredients at the store and figure out how to work them into a meal.  I also love going to the farmers market and trying new foods that look appealing - fresh, in-season veggies are the best tasting kinds!

This week, a few new items sparked my interest in the produce department.  Here's what I found:

Okinawa Sweet Potatoes
Jay and I are very intrigued by unusually colored foods.  (To clarify, I am referring to natural colors - Fruit Loops don't count!)  It's normal to find yellow tomatoes, purple potatoes, white eggplants, and black rice, to name a few, in our kitchen.  We can't resist trying things that are out of the ordinary, and veggies packed full of color always seem so much more flavorful, nutrient-rich, and fun!

At our most recent trip to Sprouts, we came across a new type of sweet potato that we had never seen before.  This is an unusual occurrence, because, when it comes to sweet potatoes, we are quite experienced.  These small, lumpy Okinawa potatoes were imported from Japan and had light brown skin with an unusual dark purple flesh.  
The Okinawa potatoes were extra sweet, even for sweet potatoes.  In fact, I read that the people of Okinawa and Hawaii often serve them boiled and cut into chunks at the end of a meal - for dessert!  I chose to bake mine in the oven and then top with some coconut oil and sea salt.  They were a great compliment to our spicy sauteed kale and beer-battered tempeh bites (more on that recipe to come!). 

My mom and I recently tried out a new plant-based Mexican restaurant in town, and we ordered jicama wraps as an appetizer.  The crispy root vegetable (similar to a turnip) was thinly sliced and used to wrap up fresh tomato, avocado, and sprouts.  It was topped with a delicious mango salsa.  
I loved the wraps so much that, when I saw jicama on sale at the grocery store, I immediately snagged one to make at home.  
Jimaca is nice and crunchy when eaten raw, and it makes a great addition to all sorts of salads and slaws.

I almost used our jicama as a salad topper, but then I came across some various recipes online for baked jicama fries.  I had no idea what jicama would taste like cooked, but I was eager to find out!

I used a vegetable peeler to remove the skin and then cut the jicama into french-fry shaped pieces.
The fries were then tossed with some olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.
I couldn't resist snacking on a few of the raw fries, and they were delicious!  They would have made a great crunchy side dish or appetizer right then and there.

I still wanted to know what the cooked fries would taste like, so I restrained myself from eating them all and popped the rest into the oven for about 30 minutes at 400, stirring once.
The cooked fries tasted very similar to the raw version, just hotter (duh) and slightly more "fry-like."  I was glad that they didn't lose their crunch.  The fries were the perfect side dish with our tempeh lentil sloppy joes.
You can learn more about jicama and how to use it here

Have you tried any unusual foods lately?  I'd love to hear about it!

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