Easy Microwave Spiralized Potato Ramen {gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, vegetarian}

As I mentioned in the “Why Gluten Free?” section of my blog, I was diagnosed with lupus during my senior year of college and have been working on managing it to the best of my ability for the past four years. While I’ve been extremely lucky and have seen a drastic improvement in my health since my initial diagnosis, it still will pop back up when I least expect it, usually in the form of migraines, severe joint pain and overwhelming exhaustion. Unfortunately, some days I push my body a little too far and will regret it the next morning when I wake up to flare ups of my lupus symptoms. For me, these mini-flare ups can last weeks, and pretty much mean that during any “free-time” I’m asleep (and “non-free-time” I wish I was asleep), which drastically cuts back on my cooking and food prep time.

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When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I essentially only left my dorm room to go to class, and would often opt out of walking to the dining hall for meals. This resulted in me eating a lot of contraband peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that my friends stole for me from the dining halls, and a disgusting amount of ramen noodles from the vending machine outside my room. Ramen became my quick and easy comfort food to keep me going during those periods of exhaustion when I didn’t have enough energy for anything else except binging Netflix.

Since then, I have opted to follow a gluten-free, vegan diet which has eliminated ramen from my life. I’m also a lot more aware of how important continuing to eat healthy and exercise is, even when I’m feeling my worst. Despite this, something about flare ups leave me missing that quick and easy comfort food on days when I am just too exhausted to spend time prepping meals. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to come up with an easy alternative for myself, and my Easy Microwave Spiralized Potato Ramen recipe was born. It has been the perfect quick and easy meal for me and has been a life-saver during flares. This recipe can really be as easy or as complicated as you want (or can handle, based on exhaustion level) and is so easy to customize based on what foods you have in your house, for when I’m too tired to make it to the grocery store.

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The basis for this recipe is really just using a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make “noodles” out of potato (I highly recommend the spiralizer, it makes this ridiculously easy). After that you just add the potato to your broth of choice, microwave, and season to taste and the job is done! I’ve also been loading mine up with a bunch of extra vegetables, since it makes it a little more interesting, and I’m a bit more aware now of how eating healthier will help me feel better. For this version, I made up a miso broth using miso paste, but feel free to sub in any vegetable based broth that you have on hand!

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Extra veggies will help bulk up your meal and keep the ramen interesting

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 peeled potato spiralized or julienned
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tbsp miso paste
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Any mix-ins you have on hand (Possible mix-ins include: scallions, hot peppers, red pepper flakes, baby bok choy, cabbage, sliced peppers, sliced carrots, edamame, tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, peanuts, cashews, onions, curry paste, sesame seeds, etc.)

Instructions

  1. In a microwaveable bowl, combine water, miso paste, tamari and sesame oil (or 2 cups of a vegetable based broth broth of your choice)
  2. Add “potato noodles” from one spiralized (or julienned) potato
  3. Cover the bowl and microwave for ~6 minutes, or until “potato noodles” are softened
  4. Add any mix-ins you have on hand. For the bowl pictured I used baby bok choy, red cabbage, thinly sliced peppers, thinly sliced carrots, edamame, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and scallions. You can make it as simple or complicated as you want!
  5. Enjoy lazily while binging Netflix.

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Eggplant “Bacon” {gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free}

After going home for two weeks and buying all of my produce at local farmstands, I realized what I had been missing out on all summer by shopping at grocery stores. Not only is it great to support local farmers, but the food tastes exponentially better fresh off the farms, and it helps limit your carbon footprint by cutting down on the miles the food needs to travel to get to your fridge. Not to mention that you’ll know where your food comes from and, even if it’s not an organic farm, local farms are much less likely to use the extensive pesticides and chemicals that large scale commercial farms are using (or at least you can find out what they are using). Once I got back to Boston I immediately started searching for my best options for buying fresh local produce and decided on a weekly CSA box.

So much produce for only $22!

So much fresh, local produce for only $22!

My cooking routine has gotten a little monotonous recently, so I decided I was going to use these boxes as my own personal “Chopped” challenge. It’s given me a fun way to switch things up and experiment with new recipes, so get ready for a lot of CSA box inspired blog posts in the near future! First up was eggplant “bacon” because something about summer and farm-fresh tomatoes has been giving me major BLT cravings that desperately needed to be remedied.


Eggplant Bacon Strips

While I haven’t had bacon in over 5 years and the idea of most meats repulses me, there is still something alluring about the smell of sizzling bacon. Maybe it’s because I associate it with the smell of breakfast cooking on Christmas morning? Or maybe memories of bagel sandwiches from Bagel Buoy during high school? Something about it still draws me in, and it’s one of the few foods that I still miss since going vegan. But this eggplant bacon filled the house with a smoky delicious aroma that brought those memories flooding back, minus the animal cruelty, fat and cholesterol.

Crispy eggplant "bacon"

Eggplant is a food that I have always struggled to cook properly. Somehow it always either ends up too mushy, undercooked or burned, so I was a little nervous to see it in my CSA box. This recipe has drastically changed my view of it, and now I’m secretly hoping to see another eggplant in my box next Thursday, just so I can create more bacon-y goodness.The strips somehow ended up both crispy and slightly chewy, just like real bacon, and had that smoky, salty barbeque taste. A few slices of this bacon, paired with the fresh tomatoes and mizuna from my CSA box, a couple of slices of gluten-free bread and some Just Mayo and I had perfectly recreated a gluten-free, vegan version of a BLT.

Deconstructed BLT, with some extra crispy strips of eggplant

Deconstructed BLT, with some extra crispy strips of eggplant “bacon”

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce, if you’re ok with gluten)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (plus more for brushing)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8  tsp chili powder

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Remove the stem of the eggplant and quarter it lengthwise, making 4 even long, thin sections.
  3. Slice each piece of the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips. (*See note below* I used a mandolin, but this step can be done carefully by hand.)
  4. Arrange eggplant strips in a single layer on a paper towel and generously sprinkle with salt. Allow this to sit for at least 30 minutes. You’ll see the eggplant start to bead up with water. (The salt here helps to draw the water out of the eggplant, making it taste less bitter, and helping to prevent it from becoming soggy when cooking. – Clearly I’m putting my chemistry degree and my year working in an osmosis lab to good use here).
  5. After 30 minutes, rinse off the eggplant strips to remove the salt added in the previous step and allow the strips to dry on new paper towels.
  6. Brush each strip with olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a well-greased pan (I used a silpat liner and it worked perfectly).
  7. Cook eggplant strips for 14 minutes, flipping half way through.
  8. Remove the strips from the oven and reduce the heat to 350F
  9. Allow the strips to cool while preparing the marinade.
  10. Prepare the marinade by combining balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, tamari, olive oil, liquid smoke, salt, paprika, black pepper and chili powder in a bowl.
  11. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and place a baking rack over it. (The foil is optional, but it certainly makes for an easier clean up).
  12. Dip each strip of eggplant in the marinade and place strips in a single layer on the baking rack.
  13. Bake at 350F for 12 more minutes, or until the strips are nice and crispy.(Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your strips)
  14. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  15. Enjoy along side a tofu scramble, or a delicious BLT.

*When I first started prepping this recipe, I wasn’t exactly sure how thick I should cut the eggplant strips, so I cut half of the eggplant using the thick slice setting of the mandolin (1/4″) , and the other half using the thin slice setting (1/16″). I personally preferred the thinner sliced strips, because they better replicated the well-done extra crispy pieces of bacon that I used to claim at the breakfast table. The thicker slices were still delicious, just a little chewier, and more closely resembled the fattier, rare pieces of bacon that my brother always preferred.*

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