Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red Star Chinese Restaurant - Dearborn, MI

On our way home from the health food store on Saturday, Brian and I drove by some hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that had certainly seen better days.  The kind that probably has a reputation for questionable meat and reusing their vegetable garnishes. Not the type of place that makes you crave Chinese food . . . yet at the same time totally makes you crave Chinese food.  Just not from there.  

Suddenly we both wanted Chinese food for dinner.

We realized that it's been years since either of us has eaten Chinese food (unless you count P.F. Chang's - which I don't know if I do), since we generally tend toward Thai food.  That's when I remembered Red Star in East Dearborn, which is a place I've been wanting to go to for years and for one reason or another we've never gone.  

First off, let me say that the ambiance of this place is weird and unlike any Chinese restaurant I've ever been in before.  The walls and carpeting are kind of drab and gray and there aren't many decorations, paintings, or wall hangings.  It has mirrors and chandeliers and seems more like a small banquet room than a Chinese restaurant.  

What's great about Red Star is that, although there are only a handful of vegan menu items, they will replace any meat on their menu with vegan chicken or beef.  This really opens up a whole world of possibilities and doesn't limit vegan diners to the usual mixed vegetable plate with tofu.  Granted, I'm not necessarily all about the vegan meats but every once in a while it's a nice treat.  (When I first heard about the place I was mistrustful but VegMichigan vouches for them.) 

So there are a couple of options there.  Basically, you can either choose an entree, which is one dish or you can choose a combo, which is smaller portions of two dishes.  The entree comes with veggie soup and the combo comes with a veggie spring roll or veggie egg roll.  Both come with white instead of shrimp fried rice.  (No brown, bummer.)

I ordered the combo with sweet and sour chicken and mixed vegetables.  I told our server I was vegan so she asked if I wanted the veggie spring roll or veggie egg roll (wasn't sure how the egg roll was vegan so I went spring) and said it would come with the vegan meat and white rice.  Although I like spring rolls, I'm really not a fan of fried food.  The smell is nauseating and the food usually doesn't sit well with me.  Plus I know it's not good for my body and the fat content scares me.  However, I don't eat it often so I threw caution to the wind with both the spring roll and the sweet and sour chicken.  (And in all honesty, I didn't know sweet and sour chicken is deep fried.  Damn.)

Veggie spring roll

Sweet and sour vegan chicken, mixed vegetables w/ white rice

Overall, the food was pretty good.  The chicken was definitely vegan, so that was good.  I liked the vegetables, even if the sauce was a little gelatinous.  I'm assuming it was some agar or cornstarch-thickened broth mixture.  Brian ordered the sesame chicken (real chicken) and liked it a lot.  I might try that next time with vegan chicken and the veggie soup.  There is definitely a lot on the menu so we'll be making a return trip to Red Star.

My combo with vegan meat and veggie spring roll cost $11.95.

They don't have a website but you can view their menu online here.

Red Star Chinese Restaurant is located at 13944 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn
Open Sunday 2 p.m.-10 p.m.; Monday - Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m.-11 p.m.

What's your favorite Chinese dish?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatless Mondays from 2 Edgy Veggies to Go

Last Monday was my last Meatless Monday Meal from 2 Edgy Veggies to Go for November.  The meal had an Asian theme and consisted of fresh rolls with peanut dipping sauce, soup, and rice pudding for dessert.  It was a nice lite, fresh meal. 

Vietnamese Fresh Rolls w/ sprouted tofu and orange-scented peanut dipping sauce

Thai Curried Potato Soup w/ fresh cilantro garnish

Coconut Jasmine Rice Pudding w/ toasted coconut and cashew topping

Go to the Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe blog for recipes:

Thai Curried Potato Soup
Vietnamese Fresh Rolls
Coconut Jasmine Rice Pudding

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Healthy Homemade Chips and Guacamole

Brian and I like to take extra time on Sundays to make dinner together.  It's the only night of the week that we really feel we have the time and energy to do so.  During the week it's always too late to spend much time so we usually turn to or one-pot meals like pastas, stir-fries, or tofu scrambles (or leftovers from said one-pot meals).  By Friday we're too tired to cook so we pick up sushi or sandwiches and then on Saturday we like to go out.

On Sundays we like to get more creative, try out new recipes, or make things that require more prep time.  Last Sunday we decided to have burritos (Brian) and taco salad (me), Admittedly, this is one of the easiest meals to make.  Since it was Sunday we had to kick it up a notch so we made chips and guacamole to go with it. 

Yogi Guacamole from Peas and Thank You w/ low-fat baked tortilla chips

That's right.  We made chips.  Well . . . okay, not like from scratch.  We took a major shortcut.  We actually just cut up some leftover corn tortillas and baked them in the oven.  But it was way more homemade than opening up a bag of Tostidos.  They were simple, crispy, and still much healthier than most chips we'd buy at the store.  

The guacamole recipe we made was also lighter than traditional guacamole because it had white beans along with the avocado.  It's "Yogi Guacamole" from the Peas and Thank You cookbook.  The same recipe is also on the Peas and Thank You blog, although it's titled "White Bean Guacamole."  It's a snap to make (I used my Vitamix but a food processor would work), plus it's healthy and super delicious.  Ole!

Low-Fat Baked Tortilla Chips
(printable recipe)


Corn tortillas (however many you want to make!)
Olive oil spray
Sea salt 


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut corn tortillas into 6-8 triangles.

3. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Spray evenly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Flip and repeat with other side.

4. Bake for 5 minutes.  Flip and bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes to crisp even more.

I never used to like guacamole.  Now I love it!  (Perhaps little too much...)  Do you like guacamole?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's in Your Meat Drawer?

This weekend when Brian was putting away the groceries, he said, "I'm putting the cilantro in the meat drawer."  He was being totally serious but I burst out laughing because I suddenly thought about how ridiculous the contents of our "meat" drawer would seem to most people.  Granted, produce doesn't usually go in there but everything else in there makes perfect sense to us.  I thought I'd give you a peek inside.

Flax seeds
Smart Ground meatless ground beef

Sometimes there are other meatless meat products or Daiya cheese in there.  Brian definitely has a block of some actual cheese hiding in the back of the drawer but for the most part, this is it! 

Why do we still call it the meat drawer then?  Old habits die hard, I guess.  And "Prune Drawer" just hasn't quite caught on...yet.

So, what's in your meat drawer?