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Plant-Based Possibilities

By Nancy Eisman
Image of Spicy & Sweet Soybean Salad
There’s a big misconception that when you eat a plant-based diet your food choices are severely limited. Au contraire! Even though you eliminate animal products from your repertoire, your awareness and options of plant-based ingredients goes up exponentially. A desire for variety, a born-again palate seeking new experiences, and a willingness to try many different ingredients results in a much longer list of foods the plant-based eater eats when compared to the typical American diet. When presented with a never before tried food, there’s more “sure I’ll try it” than “yuck, no thanks”, because an open mind can lead to wonderful things. Try it, you’ll like it, is true more often than not.

Another benefit of a plant-based creative and curious attitude is the willingness to cook outside the box and combine ingredients that would seem cray cray to others. For example, fruit and vegetables in one recipe – oh dear; spicy and sweet together – oh my; warm with cold – are you kidding? No, I’m not, and here’s a recipe that proves all of these points.

Adapted from Christina Pirello’s book “Glow”, I first tried her “Fresh Soybean Salad” recipe a few years back and was in awe of how the ingredients seemed so contrary but were actually so deliciously balanced. This recipe really opened my mind to throwing convention out the kitchen window.

Of course I’ve tweaked Christina’s original recipe to reflect my personal POV, but the basic rules of plant-based recipes apply. There are no rules!

Spicy & Sweet Soybean Salad:
1 cup Shelled Edamame
1 cup Daikon, small cubes
½ cup small Carrot rounds
1 cup Jicama, small cubes
1 cup Orange Flesh Melon, small cubes
1 cup Fennel Heart, chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds, lightly toasted
2 cups Quinoa, cooked

2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
1 Red Fresno Chile, seeded and minced
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
2½ tablespoons Brown Rice Syrup, Agave, or Maple Syrup
1½ tablespoons Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1½ tablespoons Soy Sauce
  1. Blanch the edamame, carrots, and daikon in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice cold water, drain again, and set aside.
  2. Make the dressing by heating the oil in a small pan until sizzling. Add the lemon zest and minced chile, sauté for 1 minute, and then add the brown rice syrup, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Stir to combine and turn off the heat.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the edamame, daikon, carrots, jicama, melon, fennel, and lemon juice. Pour the dressing into the bowl and stir to coat. Make a bed of quinoa on a platter, top with the salad mixture, garnish with the chia seeds, and serve.
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