Start with precooked rice, like Annie Chun's sprouted brown sticky rice. Add steamed shrimp, shelled edamame (frozen ones will cook in the microwave in minutes) and slices of cucumber, avocado and scallion. Top with a dash of soy sauce and rice vinegar; wasabi optional.
6. The Simplest Stir-Fry
You can use chopped onions, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, diced carrots or practically any other vegetable you've seen in Chinese takeout. Stir-fry them in a tablespoon of oil, adding harder produce such as broccoli and carrots a few minutes before quick-cooking mushrooms. When a sharp knife can be easily inserted in the vegetables, add a tablespoon each of chopped garlic and ginger, plus cubes of chicken, shrimp or tofu, or thinly sliced beef or pork, seasoned with black pepper. When the protein is almost cooked (5 to 7 minutes for meat, 2 to 3 minutes for seafood or tofu), pour in a half-cup of water and a few spoonfuls of soy sauce. Once everything is hot and bubbling, pour it over rice or lo mein noodles.
7. Roasted Pepper-Tomato Soup
Put two jars of roasted red peppers (minus the liquid) and a can of whole tomatoes (we like Muir Glen Organic fire-roasted tomatoes for their rich flavor) in a blender. Toss in a few cloves of garlic and—the secret ingredient—a spoonful of brown sugar. Whirl until smooth, then warm on the stove. Bonus points for serving this with cheesy garlic bread.
8. Veggie Chili
Sauté an onion and some garlic in a saucepan; add a can each of black beans, red kidney beans and diced tomatoes (if you can find one with green chilies, even better). Sprinkle with chili powder, paprika, salt and black pepper, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and cornbread.
9. Fish Tacos
Either pan-fry frozen fish fillets that you've defrosted in a bowl of cold water and broken into chunks, or follow the cooking directions on a package of frozen fish sticks. Pile them into whole wheat tortillas with shredded lettuce and Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese, chopped tomatoes, salsa and sour cream. If you have a lime, add a squirt; if you have a ripe avocado, layer a few slices on top.
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