Monday, January 29, 2007

Vegetable Lo Mein

After writing my review of Lunch Lessons I decided to try out the authors' recipe for Vegetable Lo Mein. Boiled, drained Chinese noodles are stir-fried with carrots, celery, bean sprouts, hoisin and soy sauce (I left out the onions and added snow peas). "It is an excellent choice for the lunch box," the book explains, "because it can be eaten warm or at room temperature and extra marinating will only make the noodles more flavorful."

Most lo mein noodles contain egg, but I was able to find a package of egg-free "Chow Mein Udon" noodles at my local grocery store; Italian linguini or fettucini would also be a fine vegan substitute.

Speaking of egg, I hate to say it but almost all fortune cookies are made with egg. For many years fortune cookies were one of my "don't ask don't tell" foods; I just loved the ritual of cracking open crispy cookies and sharing our fortunes after a stir-fry dinner, so I decided not to look into what they were made of. It wasn't until I started creating lunch menus that I braced myself and turned to face the fortune cookie; sure enough, fortune cookies usually rely on egg whites to create a thin, flat dough that is flexible enough after baking to fold into shape.

But the gods have smiled on us, because the "Supreme Kitchen" has come to our rescue with egg-free fortune cookies! Yes! Each cookie is filled, not with eggs and butter, but with spiritual words of wisdom from "Supreme Master Ching Hai" (those of you in San Jose or Phoenix might recognize her name from the Vegetarian House restaurants her followers have founded.)

Alongside the two enlightening cookies are golden fried cubes of tofu packed with a bamboo appetizer pick; shmoo can toss them with the lo mein or eat them separately. The fruit today is a mix of cantaloupe balls and fresh blueberries packed with a slice of lime.

Verdict: The cantaloupe and blueberries were the biggest hit of the lunch, followed closely by the lo mein. The lo mein was delicious, but I would recommend tripling or even quadrupling the vegetables in this recipe; we wished for more vegetables in every bite.

One of shmoo's fortunes struck us as being particularly appropriate for a school day: "Be meticulous in your work; do not let other thoughts or other matters disturb you." 5 stars.

27 comments:

DDawnC said...

I can't even express how much I want to eat what's in that lunchbox!!! Beautiful!

hyphen_helena said...

This looks delicious! I haven't had lo mein since becoming vegetarian. I had completely forgotten about it, but this post is making me want some right now! I'm definately looking for egg-free lo mein noodles next time I shop! Great work!

And fried tofu is so good. I don't eat it often because it seems sacreligious to me-- to deep fry soy goodness, but I can get over it ever now and then! :)

La Crabe said...

hi jennifer,
just wondering if you will be selling the vegan lunch box cookbook on amazon.com again at some point, since i have an amazon.com gift certificate and was hoping to purchase the vlb with it. it's so impressive how quickly it sold out, and i can't wait to have my own copy! thanks,
fleur de la lune

SweetGeorge said...

Looks amazing! I'm so glad you bloging regularly again:)

Jennifershmoo said...

Yes -- as soon as the new printing arrives we'll be putting it back up on amazon. Should be here by the end of next week!

chanale said...

Wow, that looks delicious!

My favorite noodles are organic soba noodles by Hakubaku - they're at Whole Foods Market and also the Asian markets here. They have just 3 ingredients - 70% whole wheat flour, 30% buckwheat flour, and water (no egg, although they're manufactured on shared equipment with soy and egg). These noodles have just the right amount of buckwheat to add personality (and nutritional variety) without scaring away my 2.5-year-old. :)

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

I had a feeling that the fortune cookies wouldn't be vegan - I, too, have "not questioned" them for years! Good to know!

La Crabe said...

thank you so much, Jennifer! can't wait to buy the book!

auburngrl said...

hi jennifer --
just wanted to pipe in and say i've followed your blog for months, and am also a happy customer with your cookbook - so thanks!

also - i recently came across the following website and wondered if you'd heard of them. i tried their morrocan vegetable hot pot this weekend and its fabulous - although i know how your shmoo has issues with some orange veggies:

http://fatfreevegan.com/

thanks again for the food inspiration,
nicole

bazu said...

Yay-Master Ching Hai! I ate at the San Jose restaurant and it was, easily, one of the top 3 vegan meals I've ever had.

Cool that there's a fortune cookie option now. Sigh. Things just keep getting better.

Elizabeth said...

We have the huge mega-Asian supermarket, Uwijimaya here. They have about a jillion kinds of noodles. My two qualifications are that they be vegan, and they contain no artificial coloring. I can find at least a couple of brands that fit the description. I've only gone there twice--I buy a bunch and stock my freezer. We love Chinese noodles!

Stonetree said...

Portland, OR also boasts a Vegetarian House (22 NW 4th) and we love it! Shmoo got the same fortune I did last week!

vegipunk said...

Mmmmm. . . fortune cookies. I never gave em much thought either, but the egg white doesn't surprise me. I did notice that my soba noodles have egg white in them. No more of that brand! Lunch looks so yummy though, and I agree, more veggies!

SallyT said...

I have a question about the lunchbox. Does it have to be kept flat in order to prevent the juices from the fruit or lo mein sauce from leaking out? I wonder if my kids use their lunchboxes for soccer practice sometimes!

Jennifershmoo said...

The back left container has a lid, so that's the spot for wet items like soy yogurt, pudding, and fruit. The other containers don't have lids, but the lid of the lunch box does a good job of holding them in place. Sometimes I will cover the container with plastic wrap just to be safe; I did that with the lo mein.

Elizabeth said...

Hey, Stonetree, thanks for the tip! We'll have to try out Vegetarian House.

Denise said...

Just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much you've inspired me. I have two kids, and it's NOT easy to get them to enjoy healthy foods, especially when their friends are eating fast food! The ideas I'm finding on your site (and on the bento sites you've linked to here and there) are really helping me make lunches with a lot bigger 'wow' factor. Thanks so much!

jdalbernaz said...

Jennifer, I noticed in your comments on the fortune cookie site that you listed all of the ingredients. Thank you! The ingredients contain "yellow margarine". A lot of margarines in the supermarket often contain dairy. Do you know if these cookies are also dairy-free, besides being egg-free?

desert rose said...

I have been following your blog for a while and I wanted to let you know that you are a fantastic cook.

I am being inspired by your great ideas. Very creative!!! Thank you once again.

Jennifershmoo said...

When I contacted them they told me yes, they are vegan. But you're right, sometimes margarine contains dairy ingredients, and it's frustrating that they don't list all the ingredients for the margarine. Since I am not dealing with any dairy allergies, I decided I was willing to take their word for it.

jdalbernaz said...

Thanks Jennifer. If they said the cookies are vegan, I'll take their word for it too! By the way- I love your website, and have used it to show others that vegan doesn't mean boring or bland. Also, my vegan potluck group went wild over the twinkies I made last month, based on your recipe. Your website has made for many happy people- thank you!

Roxy said...

I too, "overlooked" the fortune cookie's vegan-ness. I only recently stopped eating them (also because they contain artificial colorings, flavorings, and trans fat).

I love re-creating my favorite take-out foods to be healthier. This lo mein looks so good!

vko said...

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for such a great & inspirational site- everything is so creative & yummy. Soba noodles are also great- I'm sure you are familiar with them. They are buckwheat noodles that are nutritious- slow releasing carbs & contain selenium & zinc. I toss that with veggies, sesame oil & a little plum vinegar. That's my fast food!

Thanks again for making it fun to be vegan!

Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

OMG! We do this but I do the fried tofu in tiny cubes and throw it right in with the Lo Mein! My kids like the pea pods the best, sometimes we put baby corn in too.

Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

OMG! We do this but I do the fried tofu in tiny cubes and throw it right in with the Lo Mein! My kids like the pea pods the best, sometimes we put baby corn in too.

LadyRachelLynn said...

Portland OR also has a Vege Thai restaurant, located on Hawthorne. They are vegan as well. You'd never know it though, LOL, the food is that good!

Ande said...

For anyone living in New York City, I ate at Vegetarian's Paradise on West 4th street just east of 6th ave. last week and discovered that they give vegan fortune cookies after your meal. YAY! Now I know where I'll be going for my fortune cookie fix! Also, their soul chicken is realy good. Just like yummy little "chicken" nuggets but with lots of spices for so much more flavor! :o)