Vegan Gumbo with Homemade Andouille, A Passion Project

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Every once in awhile I find myself overwhelmed by the urge to make something I know will be complicated. And I make it. Because it’s worth the extra time and effort.

And because I know there’s nowhere else I can get it but in my own little kitchen.

So, here it is. If you have a bit of extra time on your hands I highly recommend this savory, warming, stick-to-your-ribs recipe for gumbo that tastes every bit as good as what they make down on the bayou.

Just two notes right up front: There is no okra in my gumbo. Because I don’t like it. Feel free to add as liberally as you like, though. The other thing…although I chose to make my own sausage, there are packaged versions of andouille or similar sausage you may want to pick up instead.

Vegan Gumbo

Recipe courtesy eatfigsnotpigs.com (with slight modifications)

(Servings: 4)

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Canola oil
½  Not Beef stock cube (or veggie, if you can’t find it in your store)
¾ cup Yellow Onion, chopped
½ cup Green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup Celery, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance
2 cups Not Beef Stock (or veggie)
1 cup Stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Hot sauce
2 each Vegan andouille, sliced

1 cup white or red kidney beans
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Emeril’s Essence)
1 tsp. Gumbo File powder (ground sassafras leaves), optional
2  Scallions, sliced
3 cups Rice, Basmati, cooked

Method:

Start with your roux. Heat the oil and 1/2 bouillon cube over medium-low heat, preferably in a cast-iron dutch oven or deep skillet. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture changes color from light to medium brown.  Be careful not to burn it!

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From this color…

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To this color!

Remove the roux from the pan into a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

Saute the veggies. Melting the margarine in the skillet, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion, celery and green peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until veggies are softened, about 8 minutes or so. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Now the easy part. Add the stock and tomatoes. With a rubber spatula, scrape all that lovely roux back into the pan. Over medium heat, cook and stir until well incorporated and thickened. If it gets too thick, add a bit more water or stock until the consistency is right.

Now the seasonings. Add the thyme, bay leaf, hot sauce and cajun spice and let simmer for a good 10 minutes on low. Give it a taste. Add a bit more spice or salt if you like.

Finish. Take your andouille slices and brown them off in a little oil in a separate skillet. This is an optional step, but I like the crisp outside that keeps the sausage from getting soggy too fast and the browned edges add color to the dish.

Drop the slices into your gumbo along with the kidney beans and allow to heat through while you chop up your garnishes–scallions and parsley. Add these right before serving and they will retain their color and fresh flavor.

The gumbo file powder is added after cooking, just a sprinkle for flavor. Serve over hot, cooked rice with a few more scallion slices.

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Friend or Faux: What You Need to Know About Fake Meats

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Vegan Chili Dog       Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

My husband reported this morning, upon returning from our nearby Whole Foods Market that Beyond Meat has added bratwurst and breakfast sausages to their lineup of meat-free alternatives.

My first thought:  “Great! A triumph for animal activism!!”

My second thought: “Either meat-free or meat-full, sausage is a food high in calories, salt and fat and low in nutritional value, no matter how you slice it.”

The Plant-based Diet is receiving a lot of press these days, due in part to recent documentaries like “What The Health” currently streaming to billions of homes through services like Netflix. It’s being heavily promoted in best-selling books like Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die”. The idea is catching on. At least in theory.

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Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

It is easy to understand why so many would-be vegetarians declare “I can’t afford to go plant-based!” and just keep on doing what they’re doing. No, you can’t afford to go plant-based if you are simply switching out your meats and cheeses for plant-based/vegan meats and cheeses. Because they cost three to four times more than real meats and cheeses. And the real goal is to get off the meats and cheeses and eat more plants, for real. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts.

A food product can be labeled vegan, the ingredients all free of animal-derived components and yet be about the unhealthiest thing you could eat. Oreo cookies are a good example of vegan junk food. Oreos are plant-based!

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Plant-Based Baked Goods                   Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The common argument for faux meats is that they are a “transitional” food for those new to meat-free eating. After conducting my own personal studies over the course of the past five years, I have come to the conclusion that they do nothing to ease the transition to a healthy, whole foods diet.

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What they actually do is become an obstacle to healthier whole-food protein choices such as beans, legumes and potatoes.  Because they taste so damned good! And as technology moves on, they just keep tasting better and better. These products are highly processed, high in fat and salt in most cases–manipulating our taste buds with artificially engineered flavors. Consequently, simple natural foods taste dull in comparison.

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If you want to improve your health, reclaim your naturally balanced weight, increase energy and focus…all of this is possible with a whole food plant-based diet. Whole food being the important factor. This means buying and consuming foods that have five ingredients or less. Yes, you read right. Check your cupboard, your fridge, your desk drawer at work. How do your plant-based food choices stack up?

There are really no shortcuts to better health. There are no super foods. Sustainable health is attained by a lifestyle balance between the foods we eat and the way we treat our bodies and minds every day.

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Should we never eat faux meats? Do I sometimes eat them? Absolutely. Most dieticians and nutritionists agree that a ratio of 80% natural, whole foods to 20% “discretionary” foods is a good balance for sustainable health. That’s what I’m shooting for. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

 

 

Spicy Red Bean and Tofu Jambalaya

IMG_3393This dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. My secret is a homemade cajun spice mix I always keep on hand for a quick kick of flavor! You can also use Emeril’s Essence right off the shelf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix, homemade or store-bought (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 3/4 cup canned, undrained)
  • 1 14-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hot cayenne pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare the tofu. Cut block horizontally across to make two slabs. Sprinkle both sides liberally with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Sear in a hot pan coated lightly with a bit of canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side (cast iron is ideal). Remove from pan and set aside. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips.

Add canola oil to the pan and sauté scallions, celery and bell pepper until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and margarine, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium low. Toss in the rice and beans and heat through. Lastly, add the tofu back into the pan and stir occasionally until heated through. Adjust seasoning, adding more Cajun spice as desired. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve hot sauce on the side.

Cajun Spice Mix

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.

David Lynch’s Quinoa With Broccoli

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I found myself inspired the other night by David Lynch’s short film, Quinoa, included as a special feature on his Inland Empire DVD. Filmed in black and white, in his own kitchen, the innovative filmmaker and artist leads us step-by- step through the preparation of one of his favorite dinners, quinoa with broccoli.

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While the dish cooks, Lynch takes a break on his porch with a glass of wine and a cigarette and tells us a story about his 1965 train ride from Yugoslavia to Italy. So random, yet so fascinating. So Lynch.

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Quinoa with Broccoli

from the short film, Quinoa by David Lynch

 

Ingredients:

A scant 1/2 cup quinoa, dry

Water for cooking

pinch of salt

1 small vegetable bouillon cube, cut into pieces

3/4 cup organic broccoli florets

Braggs liquid aminos, to taste

Olive oil, extra virgin, to taste

Method:

Fill a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with about an inch of fresh water. Set it over a nice, hot flame and bring to the boil with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in the quinoa and reduce flame to low. Cover and simmer for 9 minutes.

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After 9 minutes, lift the lid and add the broccoli. Cover and continue to steam over low heat for another 8 minutes.

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Remove from heat and add the cut up bouillon cube directly into quinoa and stir until dissolved.

Taste for salt, then add liquid aminos and a splash of olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.

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Makes 1 large portion.

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Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

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Have I ever mentioned how crazy I am for jerk? This wildly flavorful balance of hot peppers, herbs, spices, brown sugar and tangy onions is so crazy good–and I never even tried it at home until I went vegan. I like it homemade better than any other way.

With this recipe, I suggest you make it worth your while and double or even quadruple the ingredients to either freeze some marinade for later, or do what I did: roast up a ton of tempeh in the oven and store in the freezer for a quick supper or crumbled in dirty rice. Yum!

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

8 ounces tempeh (Westsoy Brand is preferable), cut crosswise into 8 slices

Marinade: 

2 scallions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded (or if you can take the heat, level up with scotch bonnets)

2 T lime juice

1 T soy sauce

1 1/2 T olive oil

2/4 T sea salt

1/2 T brown sugar

1/2 T fresh thyme leaves

1 t allspice, ground

1 t black pepper, ground

1/4 t fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

Method:

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Puree all marinade ingredients in blender until smooth.

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Marinate tempeh slices overnight

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Roast in 400 degree oven on a greased, foil-lined pan  for 15 minutes. Turn over and roast another 10 minutes or so, until marinade is absorbed and exterior is crisp and dry.

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Enjoy!

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The Best Plant-Based Cookbook is Waiting For You, And It’s Free!

 

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“Do you cook a lot?” asks the librarian behind the counter.

It’s after work, I’m in my chef jacket, stuffing a reusable shopping bag full of plant-based cookbooks I placed on hold a week or so ago.  A regular ritual for me.

“Um, yeah…I sure do. I’m a personal chef and I do a lot of recipe research here at the library!” I smile broadly as he helps me place yet one more gorgeously photographed hardback on my pile.

At home with my stack, I sit down in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and flip through one book at a time.

But I am not just looking at pretty pictures. I am on a mission. Seeking inspiration and also solid, no-nonsense recipes that I can modify or add to my regular repertoire.

What makes a good recipe, in my opinion?

  1. Reasonable number of ingredients. Reading a long list of stuff I need to buy/prep makes me exhausted before I even get started, so less is definitely better.
  2. Accessibility of ingredients. Can I find the items at my local grocery on a regular basis or are they seasonal or hard-to-find?
  3. Ease of preparation. Are there so many complicated recipe components that one dish takes two hours to cook? Unless it’s Christmas or I have committed my day to bread-baking or ravioli-making, that’s a deal-breaker for me.
  4. Recognition. Yes, familiarity. I have found for my clients, and for my family, we like to return to dishes and flavors again and again that are familiar to our experience. What says comfort to you?
  5. Cost. Some ingredients are just ridiculously expensive. Here is where you have to use your instinctual higher judgement. Some cookbook authors assume that money is no object on the quest for the perfect plant-based meal. Next.

Here are a couple highlights from this week’s haul:

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The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston (2016)

Why? This cookbook offers simple, economical no-nonsense recipes and lots of great everyday advice on making the transition to a vegan, plant-based lifestyle. I especially appreciate the relaxed language and easy-to-read page layouts with colorful images and text boxes throughout. A great starter book.

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Natural Feasts by Ella Mills (2017)

Why? First, a disclaimer. When you open it up you know you are stepping into a world. It’s easy to lose your way amidst the lush, natural light, the soft-focus images of radiantly healthy women and men beaming lovingly at one another over rustically styled food and furnishings and hand-picked botanicals. You get the sense that everyone loves Ella. And by the end, you realize you want to be Ella.

But behind all the window-dressing, Ella puts out quality recipes. I enjoyed her previous and more basic “Simply Ella” cookbook because she really focuses on creative combinations of whole foods in her recipes. Most of her dishes are low in sugar and oil and include simple, easy to find and afford ingredients, like butterbeans. Yes, butterbeans!

I highly recommend exploring your local library’s inventory of cookbooks to discover the right one(s) for you. Key words really matter when researching the database. Try vegan, plant-based, whole food, vegetarian, healthy, meatless, for example. And don’t give up entirely on conventional cookbooks and magazines for recipe inspiration. There are many recipes that are incidentally plant-based (like salad dressings, barbecue and other condiments).

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The book business being what it is, publishers are looking to appeal to the widest audience, so don’t get hung up on labels. I have found many excellent vegan recipes hiding between the pages of lacto-ovo vegetarian cookbooks.

I have read that folks are cooking less nowadays, opting instead for grab n’ go meals, food delivery services, personal chefs (yay), restaurant dining and takeout  more often than not.

Nevertheless, for those of us who read them (and need them) as well as those of us who just like the pretty pictures, the plant-based cookbooks keep flying off the presses. And thank goodness for that!

 

 

 

 

Thai Curry in a Hurry

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I just love when a dinner idea sparks my imagination and I happen to have everything on hand to create exactly what I envision. Inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant, I set out to make a sweet, spicy, creamy curry filled with fresh, delicious veggies.

This dish is quick and easy to prepare and works great with green or red curry pastes.  And it only takes a few minutes if you cook the rice ahead to warm at service time.

Thai Coconut Curry with Vegetables

¼ cup Thai green or red curry paste
4 ounces Mushrooms
4 ounces Carrot, sliced thinly
8 ounces Broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 Red bell pepper, cut into chunks

1/2 cup frozen peas

Note:  Substitute any vegetables for those listed.

13 ounces Coconut milk
1 tbsp. sweetener (optional, but tasty)
¾ cup Vegetable broth
2 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce

Squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)
¼ cup Cilantro, for garnish
2 cups brown rice, cooked

Method:

Take your hard vegetables, like carrots, celery, onions, peppers, broccoli and gently simmer them in the broth until crisp-tender. Now add all the other sauce ingredients and the soft veggies like mushrooms and peas. Bring it up to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more soy sauce for salty-ness if desired, a squeeze of lime for a mild sour influence or more sweetener, if desired. Balance the flavors. Finish with chopped cilantro.

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Note: If you have an Asian grocery in your town, check out their curry pastes. The one on the left costs $1.49 and tasted better than the one on the right from my local Whole Foods Market at $4.00! A little spicier, but hey, I like it that way!

The Vegan Meal Builder

 

Whether for my clients or for my family, I hear the same question almost every day: “What’s for dinner?”

A plant-based diet offers so many choices and  possible combinations, answering this query can leave my head spinning. So, I’ve come up with a method for putting together delicious,  creative, nutritionally balanced vegan meals with enough variety to please everyone!

I think of the meal as a construction project and I visualize it from the ground up. Consulting my menu builder blueprint, I start with the foundation.

  1. The base. I like to include grains, pasta, potatoes, steamed greens, raw or roasted veggies in this group.
  1. The protein. I choose a hearty bean or pulse, a soy product such as edamame, tofu or tempeh; seitan (a product made from wheat gluten) or a pea protein-based meat analog such as Gardein.

Grilled Sesame Tofu with Forbidden Rice and Grilled Baby Bok Choy https://veganflavorista.org/2016/09/22/meaty-grilled-tofu/

  1. The sauce. This category can make the difference between a boring meal and an amazing one. This component should not be overlooked. Here is where the real creativity happens. I decide whether  I want a light or hearty sauce, whether I am looking for spicy, sweet, savory and/or zesty flavors. The variety is endless.

Broccoli Stuffed Potato with Cheesy Sauce and Greek Chopped Salad https://veganflavorista.org/2014/05/22/ultimate-cheezy-sauce/

  1. The veggies. This category speaks for itself and basically I choose those that go best with the sauce and flavors I am introducing (example: for an Italian-inspired dish I would choose mushrooms, onion, peppers, tomatoes).

Pasta Primavera

https://veganflavorista.org/2012/09/20/pasta-primavera/

This structure serves as a guideline-a jumping off point for inspiration to create recipe variations as limitless as the imagination!

In upcoming posts, I will share my tried and true components and techniques for creating the meals  I serve to my clients and my family throughout the week.

Stay tuned!

 

 

John Legend’s Chili, Plant-Based Version

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I came across this recipe for chili in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings”. I decided to follow the recipe exactly (with a slight variation) just to find out what ole John is up to in the kitchen when he’s not at the piano working on another chart-topping single.

It’s super-simple if you’ve ever cooked a pot of soup. The recipe follows what I call standard procedure: saute the aromatics and vegetables, add seasonings and liquid, simmer and adjust seasonings. In this case I always save the beans for last, which I have pre-cooked, so they don’t fall apart.

I substituted Gardein meatless crumbles for the ground beef in John’s recipe and I would suggest taking it easy on the seasoning salt, depending on how much salt is in your tomato sauce. I also cut the original recipe’s measurement of 1 teaspoon ground red pepper down to 1/4 teaspoon, but you do you 🙂

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John Legend’s Chili

1 1/2 – 2 cups Gardein Meatless Crumbles
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. seasoning salt (preferably Lawry’s)
3 tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
2 tbsp. garlic,minced
2 cans tomato sauce, 14.5 ounces each

2 cups water
2 cans Kidney beans, 14.5 ounces each
2 tbsp. brown sugar, light

Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in a bit of oil or water.

Add seasonings, crumbles, tomato sauce and water. Bring to simmer until thickened.

Add beans and taste, adding more salt or spice as desired.

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Plant-Based: On The Cheap

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“I would try the plant-based diet, but I can’t afford it!” A phrase I have heard often. But, it’s a myth that a plant-based lifestyle has to blow your grocery budget. And it doesn’t have to include strange ingredients you’ve never heard of. A healthy, whole food diet can actually be totally the opposite. A simplification.

Keeping in mind the basic foods your body needs  makes shopping so much easier:

  1. Protein (beans, peas and lentils, nuts, nut butters). Remember that one type of bean, legume or nut choice in combination with a grain or healthful vegetables provides enough protein in a meal. There’s no need to overdo it.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains).
  3. Fats. The health benefits of processed oils is still a controversial subject in the science of nutrition, so I will simply offer that many foods contain naturally occurring fats such as nuts, coconuts and avocado. Choose oils conscientiously and use  sparingly if you are concerned about calories.

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Here’s a list of healthy and inexpensive foods to get you started:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Brown rice
  4. Creamy natural peanut butter (multi-purpose protein for toast, sandwiches and sauces)
  5. Dried black or other beans (easier to cook than you think. Google it)
  6. Dried lentils (even easier and quicker than beans)
  7. Frozen fruit
  8. Frozen mixed vegetables
  9. Hummus (homemade tastes best and is cheaper if you sub peanut butter for tahini)
  10. Rolled Oats (they micro cook in two minutes)
  11. Russet Potatoes (let me count the ways to prepare this cheap and filling vegetable)

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Although a constantly rotating variety of produce (eating the rainbow, as they say) is ideal, it is not within everyone’s budget. It’s okay to eat apples and bananas all week. The point is, you are eating fruit! You are getting vitamins and fiber, water and minerals. All good stuff!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Sometimes you will splurge on the raspberries or juicy peaches in season. And it will actually be a treat, because your flavor palate is now accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit sugar, as opposed to all the jacked-up laboratory produced sweeteners in processed snacks. It actually prefers it.

IMG_0852.jpgThe food industry is always coming out with new products. And that’s just what they are. Products, that are processed. Not whole and healthy foods in their natural state. There’s nothing wrong with these products as long as they are kept in perspective–as only the smallest part of our overall caloric intake.

Upcoming posts will feature recipes and ideas for simple and delicious meals that make going plant-based a sustainable choice without breaking the bank!

 

 

April 2018 Menu!

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I have moved to an all-in-one, meal-in-a-box format this Spring. It seems to be the best way to keep reheating as simple as possible for my clients. I used to offer the mains with choice of soups and sides, but I think it got too complicated that way–too many menu choices to make and then the assembly later– and most of my families are time-starved to begin with!

What do you think??

Coconut Chana Saag

Chickpeas, tomatoes, Lacinato kale, ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, coconut milk, lime, cilantro, basmati rice

 

Portobello Stroganoff

Organic Portobello caps, garden peas, onions, garlic, tamari, sour cream, touch of sherry, GF pasta

 

Thai Green Curry Bowl

Coconut-roasted tofu, mixed vegetables, herbs, green curry, coconut milk, Florida organic brown rice

 

Scaloppini Marsala

Scaloppini, cremini mushrooms, onion, garlic, Marsala sauce, steamed spinach, mashed sweet potatoes

 

Adzuki Quinoa Bowl

Adzuki beans, mixed peppers, onions, garlic, chili and cumin, tri-colored quinoa, cilantro-lime chimichurri

 

Franks and Beans

Smoky, hand-crafted and steamed franks, baked beans, homemade barbecue sauce, creamy coleslaw

 

Sesame-Grilled Tofu

Organic pressed tofu, tamari, toasted sesame oil, Szechuan broccoli, red peppers, onions, black rice

 

Black Bean Burgers

Black beans, cilantro, cumin, green onions, cilantro-lime mayo, honey-mustard kale salad on side

 

Grits, Greens and Beans

Sauteed green kale, shallots, garlic, simmered black-eyed peas, tomatoes, smoky grilled polenta cakes

 

Firehouse Chili with Gluten-Free Corn Muffins

Red beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, chili powder, lime sour cream, GF corn muffins

 

Mushroom Lentil Sloppy Joes

Cremini mushrooms, French lentils, onions, green peppers, rich tomato sauce, Ezekiel whole-grain buns, creamy coleslaw on the side

 

Barbecue Tempeh

Smoky oven-roasted tempeh with homemade barbecue sauce, sweet corn, zucchini, bell peppers, GF cornbread

 

Hearts of Palm Cakes

Hearts of palm, mirepoix, bell peppers, parsley, roasted sweet potatoes, Creole remoulade

Vegan Brunch Execution, Start to Finish

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I love to cook big breakfast on the weekend! Here’s a fairly easy menu I pulled off this morning in about two hours:

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Cinnamon Baked Apples

Smoky Golden Corn Grits

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

 Roasted Redskin Potatoes with Onions

Yeah, I know it sounds like a lot, but it’s all about strategy and timing. I start with the dish that takes the longest to cook: the apples. I turn on the oven to preheat to 350 degrees fahrenheit while peeling and slicing.

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Rule of thumb in my kitchen: Always Be Prepping! While one thing is cooking, be working on the next thing until you have them all going at once, regulating temperature and quality to make sure everything is served hot.

If you think you are all caught up and have run out of stuff to do–think again! There are always dishes to wash and counters to clear, while setting the table, pulling out condiments, etc. I will admit, with this menu I had the advantage of tagging my husband for dish duty! That saved me some time, most definitely.

So, my apples are working in the oven while I am scrubbing and dicing my potatoes and onions, panning them up to slide right in when the apples come out. That’s when the temp will increase to 425 to get them nice and toasty. Note: the smaller you dice the potatoes the faster they cook. Seems like a no-brainer, but I sometimes forget myself, because the larger I dice the faster I am done dicing, ha ha.

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I do my sausage crumbles  and leave them in the iron skillet basking in the residual heat while heating my veggie stock for the grits.

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I get my grits working and cover them to finish, stirring with a whisk every so often to prevent sticking.

Okay, I’m free to give my full attention to the pumpkin spice pancakes, which do require babysitting as I cook them one at a time. But, I’m cool, because everything else is working or done and just staying warm.

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I set up a small sheet pan on the side and place each pancake there as I remove them from the griddle. I cover the pan with foil to hold in the heat.

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Meanwhile, the potatoes are just about done roasting. Great! I turn off the oven and everything that fits goes in there  to stay hot until the guests arrive. Don’t worry, the oven is off and the temperature is rapidly decreasing, so nothing is going to overheat. Trust me on this, not like they will if you leave them on the stovetop on low. This tends to burn the bottoms of everything!

So, into the oven with my:

 Iron skillet of tempeh sausage crumbles

Covered pot of grits

Potatoes are already in there

Apples (optional) they may be still warm from the oven anyway or you may wish to serve them at room temp

What I did leave on the stovetop: the iron pancake griddle, set to low, with the sheet tray full of pancakes resting on top, covered loosely with foil. This keeps the cakes nice and steamy hot.

Now, everything is ready and everything will be served hot, the way it was intended.

Finally, I fix myself a fresh, hot cup of coffee and sit down with my guests to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

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The Vegan Reuben Project

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I enjoy a personal culinary challenge. Especially one that results in good eats! I set out to create an old favorite from my pre-vegan days and I nailed it, if I do say so myself!

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This was a great opportunity to try my hand at baking my own rye bread as well as the corned “beef” recipe I’ve been meaning to try ever since I came across it in Brian McCarthy’s, “The Professional Vegan Cookbook”. The roast was easier than expected and turned out juicy and flavorful. The spices are on point!

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Baking my own bread is a favorite activity (when time allows) and rye was definitely a challenge. Even after three tries I don’t think I got the rise exactly as high I wanted, but it turned out delicious anyway!

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The thousand island dressing was a no-brainer to make, but is a crucial element in building the perfect Rueben!

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Vegan Corned Beef 

2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tbsp. Granulated onion
2 tbsp. Paprika
2 tbsp. Whole Fennel Seed, coarsely ground
2 tbsp. Caraway seeds, coarsely ground
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Black pepper
1 cup Vegetable broth
½ cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Molasses
1 tbsp. Vinegar (white or ac)
Cheesecloth
String or twine

1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon water to a simmer.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in separate bowl. Combine wet with the dry until well combined.

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3. Form into a 5-inch by 8-inch loaf that will be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Place on cheesecloth and roll up like a big flat rectangle tootsie roll (not too tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.

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4. Place in simmering water, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Take roast out of liquid and remove cheese cloth.:

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Serve warm in thin slices or chill for later. I froze half of my roast to enjoy another day.

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Vegan Andouille Sausage

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Here’s just the companion to my gumbo recipe, a tasty, spicy sausage to enhance the dish or slice up and fry with your morning tofu, your choice.

There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but trust me, the resulting flavor is well worth all the gathering! I would recommend doubling this recipe for your trouble and storing a few links in the freezer for later on.

Vegan Andouille Sausage

adapted from a recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups Vital Wheat Gluten
¼ cup Nutritional yeast
½ cup White beans
1 cup Veg stock
4 tsp. Garlic
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tbsp. Tomato paste
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Smoked paprika
1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
1 tsp. Sage, rubbed
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Liquid smoke
¼ tsp. Black pepper
¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Mash beans with fork until smooth. Add veg broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, and all spices and mix well. With a fork, mix in nutritional yeast and vital wheat gluten until a dough forms.
    2. Knead dough for a minute or two then cut into 4 equal pieces. Stretch and roll each piece into sausage shape and wrap in foil, twisting ends. Steam for 45 minutes.

Crispy Marinated Tofu with Braised Kale

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I can’t emphasize enough how tasty, simple and quick this recipe is. So much flavor, from so few ingredients!

Crispy Marinated Tofu with Braised Kale

Ingredients:

1 package extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce

1 bunch green kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

1-2 tbsp. Olive oil

Method:

Prepare marinade. Mix soy sauce and brown sugar together and set aside. Slice tofu 1/2 inch thick slabs and then into squares. Place into container with marinade to cover. Marinate for  20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Salute tofu until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to plate and keep warm.

In hot skillet, add kale and saute until wilted, stirring constantly, adding remaining marinade halfway through and coating greens until mostly evaporated.

Plate and top with sautéed tofu. Serve immediately.

 

 

Soup Magic: Hearty Lentil

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Lentil is one of my favorite high-protein meal soups. It’s simple and low maintenance, and comes together in just a few minutes.

 I enjoy cooking soup on the stove—that aromatic slow-simmering, stirring, tending, nurturing activity.

But, during the work week I usually don’t have that kind of time. The last thing I want to read in a crockpot recipe is the direction to sauté vegetables before adding them to the crockpot. If I had time to do that, well I would probably take it all the way on the stove!

Instead, I left my crock pot in charge this morning, and brisked out the door for work. By lunch time I had a rich, satisfying stew, and lots of it. I think about what a prepared cup of soup costs, about $3. For less than that, I could feed a family of four, dinner sized portions of this hearty, healthful, tasty meal. Just saying…

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Hearty Lentil Soup

1 ½ cups raw brown lentils, rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 or 3 stalks celery, diced

Handful of celery tops (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Big sprig of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. ground)

5-6 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Prepare all ingredients and add to crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir and check for seasonings. Depending on your broth, you may wish to add salt. With a pair of tongs or a fork, fish out and discard the bay leaves, thyme stems and celery tops, if used. Add a generous grind of pepper and add broth if needed, depending on how “soupy” you like it.

Yield:  4-6 big servings

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

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What can I say? I grew up like most American kids. Hot dogs were most definitely on the menu. Nowadays, they are definitely not. The conventional version anyway. Every once in awhile I get a hankering for that good old-fashioned frank on a bun experience. There are various brands of vegan dogs on the market, but I thought I would try this recipe because it is quite simple and natural and uses pantry items I have on hand.

These are quite good and easy to make, with a pleasant background flavor of cornmeal, reminiscent of corn dogs (another old favorite). We both actually like them better than any brand I’ve tried. Definitely cheaper than store-bought and you can adjust the sodium and flavorings to your liking.

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

recipe courtesy Heather Bell and Jenny Engel of Spork Foods

as published in Veg News magazine, July-August 2017

Ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) package extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled

1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

2 tbsp safflower oil ( I used canola)

3/4 tsp liquid smoke

1 1/2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground mace

1/2 tsp mustard powder

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Method:

In large food processor add all ingredients and process until a dough forms.

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Cut eight 4 x 6 inch pieces or parchment paper and eight pieces of aluminum foil the same size.

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Roll the dough into a ball on a clean surface and flatten slightly. Cut into 8 equal pieces then form each piece into a hot dog shape.

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Roll each dog in parchment and twist ends. Then roll each piece in foil, twist and trim ends if necessary.

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Place rolls in an electric steamer or a colander over a simmering pot of water on the stove to create a steamer (covered). Steam 45 minutes.

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Don’t forget the buns!

 

 

 

Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers with Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

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Okay, so I didn’t think about posting this recipe until I was plating it up for service. This was our dinner tonight. What I love about these burgers is that they come together so quickly and with pantry staples I always have hanging around. Bonus!

I don’t have any step-by-step process photos for this one, but I’ll throw in an extra recipe, just for fun, okay?

Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers

recipe courtesy Lindsay Nixon (Happy Herbivore)

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup cooked quinoa

1 14.5 ounce can kidney beans

2 tbsp. barbecue sauce

2 tbsp. ketchup

2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

1 tbsp. yellow mustard

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

½ tsp. paprika

1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain and mash beans then add remaining ingredients in the order listed. Mix together well and form into six patties. Bake on parchment-lined sheet tray for 8 minutes, then flip and bake another 5 minutes. The patties will firm up a bit more as they cool.

 

 

Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce (no-cook)

Ingredients:

½ cup ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

 

 

 

 

Simple Italian Sausage

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Going vegan doesn’t mean giving up comfort foods, oh no! No way. Although I have tried various vegan sausage brands such as Tofurky and Field Roast, and I especially like Field Roast, I have a client who doesn’t like spicy. So, I learned to make my own!

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I like this simple recipe and having the control over the spices. I particularly like lots of fennel seed and garlic in mine.

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Vegan Italian sausage has so many versatile uses AND best of all it freezes well, so you can just grab and thaw when you need it.

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Click HERE for the recipe:  Simple Italian Sausage

from Isa Chandra Moskowitz

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Vegan Baked Ziti

 

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This recipe is more about method than it is about the ingredients. You could simply layer sauce, pasta and and some kind of dairy-free cheesy substance and bake. Or you could kick it up a notch like I have done in this particular version.

First, start with your favorite marinara. Then find a good cheesy sauce or vegan cheese substance you like. Here’s the special part:

Cook your pasta in nice sea-salted water. The water should taste salty. While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet at medium-high heat and add a generous quantity of olive oil.

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Thinly slice or chop several cloves of fresh garlic and add them to the hot oil, letting them sizzle until they just start to turn golden. Don’t let them burn.

When the garlic turns golden, add a couple ladles of pasta water and let it boil with the garlic and oil until reduced by half. The starch in the pasta water will help add body to your sauce. Next, add a couple ladles of marinara and let that simmer 2 minutes or so.

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Now add the drained pasta, cooked at a firm al dente, not quite done. The pasta will finish cooking over the next few minutes of simmering in the sauce and absorb all that fantastic flavor!

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Now that your pasta has picked up all this tasty garlic broth and sauce,  you are ready to layer and bake.

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Baked, uncovered at 375 degrees, until heated through and whatever cheese substance you use is melted and/or picking up a bit of color to let you know it is ready.

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Finish with a bit of hemp seed parmesan and serve immediately to adoring dining companion(s)! You won’t regret taking this little extra step that works like magic for any pasta dish.

Easy Mozzarella Cheeze Sauce

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So, you reach a point when you stop trying to replace cheese with processed substitutes like Daiya or Follow Your Heart. Your palate can finally appreciate the pure flavors of the tomatoes, the onions, the garlic against the sprinkling of herbs simmered into the sauce.

And yet, there is that missing element. You are looking for a light, creamy counterpoint to the tangy, savory marinara in your lasagna or pasta bake or fresh vegan pizza. This quick and easy recipe is just the solution.

Made with basic pantry staples, this no-cook, tofu-based cheesy sauce comes together lickety-split, faster than the time it takes to boil pasta.

 

Easy Mozzarella Cheeze Sauce

From VegNews magazine

 

1 pkg Tofu, firm silken, 12.3 ounce (shelf-stable type, like Mori-Nu, not water-packed)
¼ cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
1 ½ tbsp. Miso, white
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Lemon juice
1 tsp. Cornstarch
½ tsp. Onion powder
¾ tsp. Salt

 

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Store refrigerated up to 5 days.

 

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Vegan Barbecue Ribz

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Fire up the grill this weekend and prepare your favorite barbecue sauce for these super-easy and super-tasty seitan ribz!

This recipe, direct from my archive, comes together faster than a batch of brownies. You can double up and freeze for later and also to slice  thin and fry up like bacon. Yum!

BARBECUE RIBZ

recipe courtesy Brian McCarthy

4 cups VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN
¼ cup PAPRIKA
2 tablespoons GRANULATED GARLIC
2 tablespoons GRANULATED ONION
2 tablespoons KOSHER SALT
3 cups ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER
¾ cups CANOLA OIL
2 teaspoons LIQUID SMOKE

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all wet ingredients in a pourable container. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour wet into dry and mix well. Press into 13 x 9 greased pan. Bake 350 for 45-55 minutes, until no longer soft in center and has a dry appearance.
2. Slice into 1.5 ounce servings. Grill slices for marks if desired. Serve with barbecue sauce.
Servings/Yield: 14 servings

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Restaurant-Style Marinara

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The secret for marinara sauce that tastes like it’s been simmering all day? Tomato paste. The savory-sweet intensity adds depth and richness without the hours of slow-cooking.

What I like best about this recipe? It’s simple and quick to prepare. Oh, and no chopping, except for a little clove of garlic, for which you can substitute 1/4 tsp of granulated garlic if you choose.

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Best Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Oregano, dried
¼ teaspoon Thyme, dried
½ teaspoon Salt
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon Tomato paste

1. Saute garlic in oil over medium-low heat about 2 minutes.

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Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper all at once stirring together until tomato paste is incorporated.

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2. Increase the heat a bit and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and crushing the tomatoes as you go.

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If you like a smoother sauce, just scoop out about half, run it through the blender then return to the pot. Easy!

Top Ten Everyday Vegan Recipes

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I have certain recipes in my home kitchen’s steady rotation week after week, month after month. These are my go-to staples because we enjoy them so much. Some  are featured here on the blog, and the rest will be featured in upcoming posts!

  1. Tofu Scramble
  2. Cheezy Sauce
  3. Marinara Sauce
  4. Buffalo Sauce
  5. Peanut Sauce
  6. Tofu Ricotta
  7. Italian Dressing
  8. Taco “Beef”
  9. Thai Coconut Curry Sauce (red or green)
  10. Hummus

 

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Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

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Another super simple recipe! This one comes from one of my favorite blogs, Vegan Monologue. I’ve made this recipe for my family, not all of whom are vegan and I’ve made it for  newly transitioned clients. It’s unanimous–they all love it!

Big chunks of earthy portobello mushrooms and onions in a savory, creamy gravy that tastes almost identical to its traditional counterpart.

Check out the recipe and this exceptional blog here

Korean Gochujang Barbecue Bowl

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You may have noticed a condiment called gochujang popping up in your neighborhood grocery recently. It’s basically a spicy Korean ketchup that has made its way into the mainstream and it’s delicious! But why buy it when you can make it so easily?? Try your local Asian market for Korean chili powder, or buy it here through Amazon.com. The rest of the ingredients are already in your pantry!

 

KOREAN BARBECUE BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

1 CUP TOFU, EXTRA FIRM, PRESSED, CUT INTO SMALL TRIANGLES 1/4 INCH THICK
2 CUPS CREMINI MUSHROOMS, HALVED
1 CUP ONION, YELLOW, SLICED

MARINADE:
¼ CUP LOW SODIUM TAMARI
¼ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
2 TBSP SESAME OIL
1 TBSP WHITE WINE
2 TSP MINCED GARLIC
4 CHOPPED SCALLIONS
1 TBSP KOREAN CHILI POWDER

GRAIN:
1 CUP JASMINE RICE, UNCOOKED
2 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, WHITE, TOASTED
1 SCALLIONS, JULIENNED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE MARINADE: MIX ALL MARINADE INGREDIENTS AND POUR OVER TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. MARINATE UNTIL COOK TIME.:
2.PREPARE RICE: COOK USING DESIRED METHOD, THEN FINISH WITH TOASTED SESAME SEEDS, RESERVING A PINCH FOR GARNISH.:
3.TO COOK: HEAT A SMALL AMOUNT OF OIL IN SAUTE PAN OVER MEDIUM-HIGH FLAME AND ADD DESIRED PORTION OF TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. :
4.SAUTE UNTIL BROWNED AND SAUCE IS THICKENED. SERVE OVER RICE, WITH GOCHUJANG CHILI SAUCE (RECIPE BELOW).

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

KOREAN CHILI SAUCE (GOCHUJANG)

2 TSP SESAME OIL
¾ TSP GRANULATED GARLIC
⅓ CUP KETCHUP
¼ CUP MAPLE SYRUP
¼ CUP KOREAN CHILI POWDER
2 TSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
1 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, TOASTED
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS IN SAUCEPAN AND SIMMER OVER LOW HEAT ABOUT 7 MINUTES UNTIL FLAVORS ARE WELL BLENDED.
Servings/Yield: 8 servings

Homestyle Veggie Loaf with Sweet Tomato Glaze

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This is a client favorite and a recipe I swear by, having grown up eating traditional meatloaf. This version has a firm slice without being dry or being soggy. It bakes up perfect, time after time. The glaze really makes it taste just like Mom made, back in the day.

Homestyle Veggie Loaf 

adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber (eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green or brown
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
1 parchment paper

1.Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.
2.Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.
3.Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.
4.Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.
5.Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

 

 

 

Fancy Potatoes

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Okay, we’ve established potatoes are cheap, vegan eats. They are also whole and perfect in their natural state. Although I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw, they cook up in so many delicious ways.

A plain old baked potato is fine, but if you’re looking to elevate your side dish a bit, this recipe can really spice things up at the table. It’s actually easier than it looks!

Hassleback Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 tbsp. dairy-free butter or margarine, melted

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic granules or powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a small baking tray with aluminum foil.

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut a series of horizontal slices about 1/8 inch wide and going only 2/3 of the way through the potato, so it holds together, but the gaps open wide enough to slip the seasoning in between.

Mix together the seasonings and the butter and oil, then rub the potatoes all over with the mixture, getting it in between the slices well.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, uncovered, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You may wish to serve with a bit more seasoned butter, as potatoes are very absorbent.

 

 

 

Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

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I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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Never-Fail Brown Rice

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I know, it seems simple, right? What could be easier than rice and water? You’d be surprised at how many ways there are to mess up rice cookery. I know, because that was me, before I found the best method outside of a rice cooker for preparing perfectly cooked brown rice.

It’s called the pasta method, and it’s just like it sounds. Fill up a big pot with salted water  like you are getting ready to boil spaghetti. When the water comes to a full rolling boil, stir in your brown rice and let it continue to boil, careful to regulate the heat so it doesn’t boil over!

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I always use my windup timer. Set for 30-35 minutes. Check a few grains after 30.

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Just like pasta, after checking for doneness, drain and use immediately or rinse with cool water and refrigerate for later use.

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So easy!! The grains are perfectly cooked, tender, separate and never sticky.

Use this method and I promise you will never over or under-cook brown rice again!

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

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These tasty sausage crumbles are versatile, lending a satisfying umami flavor and a chewy  bite to gravy, sauces, rice or other grain dishes–even pizza!

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

adapted from a recipe by Lindsay Nixon

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 8-oz pkg tempeh

2 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce

1 tsp rubbed sage (not powdered)

1 tsp onion powder (granulated)

1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

dash of black pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Grind fennel seeds into a fine powder using mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and set aside.

Shred tempeh using a cheese grater and mix with soy or tamari sauce and spices (add fennel last)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat then add tempeh mixture to saute, stirring constantly until browned and crisp.

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Use immediately or store refrigerated in airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Note: You can adjust the seasonings, such as leaving out the sage and adding basil and a pinch of crushed red pepper for an Italian flavor. For a sweeter breakfast style sausage, add a bit of maple syrup.

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“Meaty” Grilled Tofu

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One the fundamental building blocks of my weekly meals is tofu. Through much trial and error over the years, I have come to a great appreciation and respect for its versatility and its ability to absorb flavors and even change texture with the right method of preparation.

  1. Buy the right tofu. This seems like a no-brainer, but  it can be confusing, with all the brands and styles: silken, firm, extra-firm, etc. For this recipe, we need to start with the firmest tofu we can find, packed in water, found in the refrigerator section. If you stumble upon the Woodstock brand, extra-firm, know that you have found the holy grail of tofu. This brand is available only in select stores in my area and in limited quantity, so when I find it I buy it up!

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2. Dry, dry, dry! The secret to good texture with grilled tofu is to press out as much water as possible. Either press it with a pressing apparatus, or wrap it in paper towels and lay a cutting board on top, then add some weight to it. I have used heavy books, canned goods, even hand-weights. Let the tofu press for a good 20 minutes or so.

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3. Fabricate! Cut the tofu in the shape that fits the dish you are making. For grilling, obviously, you want nice strips that fit on the grill and not too thick, so as to absorb the flavorings. I cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again and so on, until I have 8 planks

4. Marinate! This step is crucial. If you want flavor in your tofu, you have to apply it yourself. My go-to marinade for grilling is 3 tbsp. tamari sauce to 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Simple and delicious! When you press the tofu well, it will be thirsty for the marinade, so you won’t need to soak it too long. Twenty minutes is plenty of time for this one, although, you can marinate longer or overnight if you like.

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5. Grill! Get your grill searing hot and you will have a nice, brown sealed outside on your tofu. You can also fry in a dry non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, for a crisp, brown exterior.

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6. Optional step. Another way to alter the texture of tofu is to wrap it after pressing and freeze it until solid, then thaw it out. Press the liquid out again, then marinate and grill or pan-fry. This gives the tofu more of a chewy and porous texture. It’s worth a try. I like it both ways.

Homestyle Veggie Loaf with Tomato Glaze

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Having been raised on American classics such as meatloaf, I’ve tried a lot of veggie loaf recipes, looking for that familiar texture and flavor. This one nails it! A tight slice without being dry or crumbly, this loaf is full of protein-rich lentils and tender vegetables with a hint of herbs. It’s topped with a tangy sweet tomato glaze, just like mom used to make!

Homestyle Veggie Loaf with Tomato Glaze

(adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber, eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
parchment paper
1. Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.
2. Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.
3. Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.
4. Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.
5. Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

Here’s a little video I made, demonstrating the recipe:

 

Coconut Chana Saag

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Here I am turning out a lovely pot full of Indian goodness called Coconut Chana Saag. Super simple when you have the spices handy. The rest is just basic cookery, like any other dish.

Coconut Chana Saag

1 tablespoon Coconut oil
½ med Onion, yellow, diced
1 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Curry powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper
¼ teaspoon Anise seeds or fennel
⅛ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Cumin
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
12 ounces Tomatoes,whole, canned
30 ounces Chickpeas
4 ounces Lacinto Kale, chopped
7 ounces Coconut milk
1 tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons Cilantro, for garnish

Method:

Saute the aromatics and spices:

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Add tomatoes and simmer to blend flavors:

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Add the other stuff and simmer until heated through:

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That really wasn’t hard…and the flavor is phenomenal. Home-cooked Indian food can be way more delicious and fresh tasting than what you purchase from a restaurant. You control the oil, the salt and the level of heat you prefer. What’s better than that?

The full recipe, courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz via theguardian.

 

Soup and Bread

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It occurs to me that there are two foods I can simply never do without–soup and bread.  I will never tire of a hot, comforting bowl–be it a thick, hearty stew or a thin, savory broth as long as I have a nice chunk of bread to sop in it.

The best soups and the best breads are those made at home. Here are a couple simple recipes worth trying for yourself.

Easy Olive Oil Bread

Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

from EpicureanVegan.Wordpress.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
5 C vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 C vegan sour cream
3 Tbs flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast, seasonings and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Mushroom Bourguignon

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Well, isn’t this fancy? A classical French dish turned vegan!

Warm, savory and satisfying– this rich stew is filled with vegetables, potatoes and hearty mushrooms, simmered with red wine and fresh thyme leaves.

If you really want to go top shelf, bake a nice little puff pastry top hat!

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 ½ Carrots, diced
½ large Onion, yellow, diced
½ cup Onions, pearl, peeled
1 cup Mushrooms, cremini, halved
½ cup Mushrooms, button, halved
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
½ 1 large Potato, russet, diced
½ cup Peas, frozen
2 cloves Garlic, roasted
1 ½ cups Red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
¼ cup Vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
3 sprigs Thyme, fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper, black
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened
1.5 tablespoons Flour, all purpose
1 tablespoon Brown rice syrup ( I used agave nectar)

Method:
1.Heat oil and add carrots, yellow onion and pearl onions, cook for about 3 minutes to start browning. Add mushrooms and walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes.:

2.Add potato, peas and garlic and stir. Add wine, vegetable broth, tomato paste, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.:

3.While vegetable mixture is cooking, whisk together room temperature butter and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.:

4.After about 30 minutes of cooking add brown rice syrup and buter and flour mixture to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low heat. Let cook for up to an hour if you have time.:

Recipe Source:  The Spork-Fed Cookbook by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldsmith

General Tso’s Tofu with Green Tea Soba

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I am always looking to veganize recipes. Any recipe. Some of them traditionally feature meat. That doesn’t stop me from subbing out for tofu or tempeh or any other protein…even beans or legumes if the sauce sounds legit.

Here is one such recipe I actually picked up from my daughter Kat’s Facebook timeline. She is not vegan, but enjoys plant-based dishes and loves to cook. We share recipes and ideas all the time. This one looked so good, I simply couldn’t resist.

All I did was switch out the chicken for pressed, cubed tofu. I also would recommend skipping the crock pot and just making the sauce on the stove, because tofu, as it cooks down, does not provide moisture the way chicken does.  I also opted to make my own hoisin sauce, which turned out delicious, by the way 🙂 Just double it, and you will be all set.

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I was so proud of my dish, I packed some up to share with Kat :;-)

Here’s the original recipe from ChefSavvy.com: General Tso’s Tofu.

Balsamic-Roasted Mushrooms

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This dish makes a great appetizer or a light meal. Mushrooms have that satisfying umami flavor and a lovely “meaty” texture. The sauce is savory with a touch of sweetness. Here, I serve them over grilled polenta, but they go well over any grain or even with a crusty baguette.

BALSAMIC ROASTED MUSHROOMS

1 LB MUSHROOMS, MIXED, QUARTERED
2 SHALLOTS, HALVED LENGTHWISE AND QUARTERED
1.5 TBSP OLIVE OIL
¼ CUP BALSAMIC REDUCTION, DIVIDED (recipe follows)
⅛ TSP. RED PEPPER FLAKES
KOSHER SALT, TO TASTE
BLACK PEPPER, GROUND, TO TASTE
2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
2 TBSP. PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED

1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. DRIZZLE MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS WITH OIL IN LARGE BOWL.:

2. POUR IN 2 TBSP BALSAMIC REDUCTION, SALT AND PEPPER AND CRUSHED RED PEPPER. SPREAD ON PARCHMENT LINED SHEET TRAY AND ROAST FOR 20-25 MINUTES, UNTIL THEY ARE TENDER AND DEEP BROWN.:

3. FOR SERVICE, SAUTE GARLIC IN OLIVE OIL, THEN ADD MUSHROOMS AND 1-2 MORE TBSP BALSAMIC REDUCTION. HEAT THROUGHLY AND SERVE OVER POLENTA.:

(Servings: 2)

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

½ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
1 CUP BALSAMIC VINEGAR
1 SHALLOTS, HALVED
KOSHER SALT, TO TASTE
BLACK PEPPER, GROUND, TO TASTE

1.HEAT AGAVE IN SMALL SAUCEPAN OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT UNTIL IT THINS OUT AND IS WARMED, ABOUT 5 MINUTES.:

2.ADD VINEGAR AND SHALLOT AND SIMMER GENTLY, SWIRLING THE PAN A FEW TIMES, UNTIL SAUCE HAVE REDUCED AND THICKENED TO THE CONSISTENCY OF MAPLE SYRUP AND COATS THE BACK OF A SPOON, ABOUT 50 MINUTES.:

3.STORE COVERED, UP TO 3 MONTHS, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.:

Yield: 1/2 cup

Tempeh Meatloaf

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One of my very favorite comfort foods is meatloaf. It is not easy to duplicate in vegan cookery, although recipes abound for variations of this classic main dish.  I have been on a quest for four years to find the texture and flavor I am looking for. I think I have found the one with this hearty loaf from Anne Gentry, owner of Real Food Daily restaurant.

The most important technical factor in a loaf, for me, is that is MUST hold together tightly and slice well. Loaf recipes can be tricky l and I will admit, I messed up on my first try.

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Not a problem, though, because I just crumbled the whole loaf and froze it to use later in a Shepherd’s Pie! Never waste good tasting food!

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I tried again and followed the directions explicitly and the second loaf turned out perfectly. I think I overcooked the tempeh the first time around. Yes, the recipe is a bit fussy, but the results are worth it– a substantial, tasty tempeh loaf, great paired with your favorite gravy or cold the next day on a sandwich, just like Mom used to make–well, sorta.

Tempeh Meatloaf

from The Real Food Daily Cookbook

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil

1 ½ pounds tempeh

1/3 cup organic ketchup

1/3 cup yellow miso

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tbsp. unsweetened soy milk

¾ cup gluten flour

1 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup finely chopped peeled carrot

1 tomato, finely chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 ½ tsp. dried

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 ½ tsp. dried

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. sesame oil

shred

Preheat oven to 375. Coat the inside of a 9 inch loaf pan with 1 tsp. sesame oil and set aside. Shred tempeh with the shredder blade of a food processor or a hand grater.  In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, miso, nutritional yeast and soy milk. Add the tempeh and stir just to coat. Sprinkle gluten flour over mixture and combine. Mixture will be moist.

mix

Transfer to sheet pan oiled with 1 tsp. canola oil. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in 1 tbsp. canola oil until soft (about 8 minutes). Add tomato, spices, salt and pepper and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add tempeh mixture to hot vegetable mixture and mix well. Note: vegetable mixture must be hot when adding together. Transfer to loaf pan and pack tightly. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 more minutes or until brown. Allow to cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing. Slice and serve hot with your favorite gravy.

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Tofu Curry

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This recipe is a client favorite! It’s a north Indian style curry, filled with aromatic spices and baked tofu.

The recipe comes from the cookbook “Vegan Indian Cooking” by Anupy Singla. Ms. Singla generously provides the recipe on her website as well. You can find it here.

With authentic Indian cooking, it’s all about the spices. Once you gather them together, the process runs pretty smooth and simple.

grindThe recipe starts with the grinding of the aromatics which will be folded into soy yogurt and a few spices then added to fried spices in the saucepan.

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blend

The scent is heavenly as the spices and flavors blend together. The big flavor comes from the mingling of these many aromatics and spices as they simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes. As with most curries it will taste better the next day, but even fresh from the stove it is delicious!

Basil-Spinach Pesto

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Yes, of course vegans can enjoy pesto!! I think it tastes even better without the cheese usually present in most traditional recipes. This recipe is pretty great because it stays green longer, due to the addition of fresh spinach! Great flavor and awesome with pasta and on pizza as well!

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Basil-Spinach Pesto

½ cup Olive oil
3 ounces Basil, fresh
½ bunch Spinach, fresh, Large handful
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
1 tsp. Lemon juice
3 cloves Garlic
¼ tsp. Sea salt
¼ tsp. Black pepper

Method:

Pulse basil, spinach, nuts and garlic until well chopped, but still with texture. With machine running, drizzle olive oil slowly to emulsify, scraping down the bowl as needed to blend well.

Stop the machine as soon as olive oil is incorporated. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Run another second just until blended.

Serve immediately or store in airtight container, refrigerated. Adding a thin layer of olive oil on top, keeps the pesto green longer.

Servings/Yield: Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Source: avocadopest.com

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How To Make Lentils Taste Good

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If you hate lentils, chances are you have eaten them from a can. The first time I tried them was long before becoming vegan. The lentils were floating in a dirty, brown broth labeled by the Progresso company as soup. I was unimpressed, to say the least.

Today I revere lentils for the clean, lean, whole food protein powerhouses they are, boasting 18 grams per cup. Not too shabby! Through experience, I have learned that the best lentils I’ve ever tasted are always cooked fresh.  Only by controlling the cooking and flavoring process can you truly have the best lentil experience.

Here is a simple, tasty recipe  for  lentils you can spoon over rice and say dinner is done.

 Lentils For Dinner

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup Carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh–grated or finely chopped

1 cup Lentils, brown–rinsed, removing any stones or foreign matter

1 Bay leaf
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Heat large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat and sauté onion, carrots and celery in olive oil with a pinch of salt until onion is translucent and carrots are crisp-tender (about 7 minutes).

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Add ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

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Pour 2 cups of water into the vegetable mixture along with the rinsed lentils, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until lentils are tender, but not mushy *(about 20-25 minutes), with most or all of the water absorbed. You want them to simmer–bubbling nicely,  not to boil like crazy. This will make them break apart and get mushy.

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Taste for salt and add more if needed, along with a generous grind of fresh, black pepper.

*Note: Cooking time can vary slightly from brand to brand, so it’s a good idea to check in periodically and see how the lentils are coming along, giving them a little stir. Pull one out and bite into it at about the 20 minute mark. The last thing you want is to overcook them. Al dente (firm to the bite) is my goal, so I can toss any leftovers into a cold salad the next day.

 

Smoky Pulled Jackfruit

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When I first heard that jackfruit can imitate the texture of shredded meat classically prepared as barbecue, I could hardly believe it. I was challenged by the prospect. I thought, how can a soft, canned fruit  make this transition?

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I researched recipes and the overall consensus seemed to be that the fruit must be cooked down with a sauce or flavorings in order to make it break apart and shred. I tried this technique and was sorely disappointed. The jackfruit did not have the texture I was looking for. Instead, it was like eating a mouthful of soft, wet dishrags.

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I put on my thinking cap and came to the conclusion that in order to get that meaty, pulled texture, the fruit must be relieved of much of its moisture and the sauce applied in finishing. Here’s my technique. It’s quick, easy and foolproof.

Pulled Jackfruit

2 cans young green jackfruit in *brine

Barbecue sauce, to taste (bottled or homemade, your choice)

1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fabricate! Drain the jackfruit and cut out the hard, triangular core pieces (similar to pineapple) then tear the fruit into shreds with your fingers.IMG_3697.jpg
  3. Marinate! With a paper towel, press out as much moisture as possible and then apply the liquid smoke, if using and 2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce, for  just a touch of flavor. Toss the fruit to coat.IMG_3701.jpg
  4. Bake on dry parchment-lined sheet tray (no oil) for 20-25 minutes, stirring at around the 10 minute mark, until the edges are browned and the fruit has a dried appearance.IMG_3706.jpg
  5. Finish! Then and only then, apply the sauce of your choice and serve immediately.img_3711

Yield: 2 cups

Notes: In addition to traditional barbecue presentation, pulled jack fruit goes well in Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas and nachos.

*Do not use the jackfruit in syrup, only in brine. There is a big difference.

 

15 Minute Farro

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When it comes to choosing a whole grain foundation for plant-based meals, I like to mix it up for variety’s sake, but I also like to get the most nutritional bang for my buck.

Farro is a type of wheat often referred to an “ancient grain” and nutritionally, it outperforms even brown rice and whole-grain pasta. Per ½-cup serving, farro delivers more protein (about 3.5 g) and fiber (about 3.5 g) than brown rice.

But the main reason I add farro to meals is because it is EASY,  QUICK to prepare and it tastes great!

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15 Minute Farro

1 cup farro

3 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt (optional)

Rinse grains in cold water and place in saucepan with water (and salt, if using).

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Cover and bring to low boil for fifteen minutes or until al dente or chewy.

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Drain off any remaining water if necessary and serve as is or toss with sautéed aromatics or veggies such as onion, celery and carrots and fresh chopped parsley–pilaf style.

 

Sesame Grilled Tofu with Sichuan Vegetables

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Here’s a quick and easy weeknight treat! I do not own a wok and still refuse to buy one. However, I have learned to make do–by creating my Asian-style meal as components and bringing them together in one perfectly cooked meal.

prep

Sesame Grilled Tofu

recipe courtesy “Isa Does It’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 8 planks

1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

3 tbsp. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

grill

Press tofu slices into marinade and flip over to cover all surface area. Marinate while grill heats.

With a tabletop grill on the SEAR setting, grill marinated tofu for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Sichuan Vegetables

recipe adapted from Veg News magazine

2-3 cups assorted vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces or matchsticks (peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms)

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 tbsp. dry sherry (or mirin)

1 tbsp. Chinese black vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)

1 tbsp. water

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

1 tsp. natural sugar

1 tsp. chile-garlic sauce, to taste

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)

1 tsp. cornstarch

*If you have a micro-wave steamer, steam vegetables about about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender and set aside. Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients except cornstarch in a skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch with water to make a slurry and whisk gently into sauce until thick. Add vegetables and grilled tofu, cut into small triangles. Simmer until heated through.

*If you don’t have a micro-steamer, go ahead and stir-fry vegetables in a skillet or wok until crisp-tender then follow sauce instructions.

Rajma Masala (Red Kidney Bean Curry)

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I couldn’t wait to try this recipe I stumbled upon at SpiceyAndSugaryBites. I’ve never made an Indian curry with kidney beans before. It turned out great. I hope you will give it a try as well!

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I pre-cooked the dried kidney beans after soaking overnight.

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Meanwhile I gathered my spices and chopped my aromatics.

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The saute’ smells amazing!

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I love that final stage where everything comes together and all that’s left is the simmer and check for seasoning. My husband walked in and said, “Oh, we are having chili!” And I said, “You’ve never had chili like this before!”

 

Tempeh Meatloaf II

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Image courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

I don’t hear much talk of tempeh these days–but lest it be forgotten, tempeh is a wonderful source of protein and texture for those transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Tempeh is made from whole soybeans and is way less processed than tofu, so it is a great plant-based, whole food product.

Over the years, I have tried  more than a few vegan loaf recipes and I keep coming back to the same few over and over. These are the ones that make it to the blog.

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I don’t know what’s taken me so long to add this one. It comes from the Everyday Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon. It holds together exceptionally well, due to the addition of quick-cooking oats (which also makes it gluten-free, if you buy the gf certified oats).

It has a great flavor and I like to add a tomato glaze, making it more like the kind I grew up with. There is no added oil, so that’s also another plus. This loaf makes great sandwiches as well.

Enjoy!

Tempeh Meatloaf

1 c instant oats

1 8-oz pkg tempeh, shredded, using a cheese grater

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp yellow mustard

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1⁄2 tsp browning sauce (optional)

Tomato glaze (optional, see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a standard bread pan and set aside. Mix all ingredients together and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to the bread pan and pack it down tightly, making sure it gets into the corners. Top with tomato glaze, if using. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until firm and golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before trying to pry it out and cutting slices. The longer you wait, the better it will hold.

Tomato Glaze

2 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

Blend together and spread over top of loaf before baking

Images courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

Mixed Indian Dal with Savory Aromatics

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I have an abiding admiration for and a bit of an obsession with Indian cuisine. I find the complexity of the spices and the aromatics absolutely intoxicating. On any given day I would happily choose a hearty, fragrant bowl of Indian spiced dal for any meal, including breakfast!

Dal, or dhal is a dried pulse (lentil, pea or various types of bean) which has been split. Up until a few weeks ago I didn’t realize just how many varieties and types of these pulses there are–each with its own characteristic texture and flavor.

At the store’s freezer section one day, I read the ingredients on a box of  Amy’s Vegetable Korma and was stunned to find listed several different types of dal I have never heard of. I just had to make a visit to my local Indian grocery to investigate. I brought home several bags of different colors and types of lentils and split peas and beans.

Next stop, the library. I gathered as many Indian cookbooks as I could manage and dove right into the lentils and beans chapters. One book that stands out as offering the most accessible, easy-to-prepare dal recipes turned out to be

“The Indian Vegan Kitchen” by Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D.

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Here is one of several recipes I have prepared from this book (with slight modification) and the journey continues!

Black Gram and Bengal Gram Dal (derived from a recipe by Madhu Gadia)

*3/4 cup urad dal (split, hulled)

*1/4 cup chana dal (split, hulled)

7 cups water (I used only 5 cups, for a more stew-like consistency)

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. salt

Seasoning (chunk)

3 tbsp. coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)

*1/4 tsp. asafetida powder (hing)

1/2 tsp. cumin seeds

1 cup onion, finely chopped

2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. ginger, peeled and grated

2 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste

Lemon wedges

*These items may be hard (or impossible) to find at your local grocery, so if you don’t have an Indian grocer nearby you can find everything you need on amazon.com. However, it will be way less expensive if you can find a local resource.

Method:

I prepared on the stove, but the original recipe gives directions for either stovetop or pressure cooker.

First, wash the lentils in 3 to 4 changes of water. Really wash them well, until the water is clear if possible. Drain and cover with water and allow to soak for at least 2 hours.

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Drain lentils and add with water and salt to saucepan and bring to boil, skimming off any foam that collects on the top. Add turmeric, then cover and cook on low, until soft, about 30-45 minutes.

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Meanwhile, gather the aromatics and seasonings.

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Heat the oil on medium high and add asafetida followed by the cumin seeds.  Allow to sizzle, stirring for a few seconds, then add the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander and cayenne then fry for a few seconds until soft.

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Combine the seasonings and the cooked dal in the same pot and stir gently until well combined. Heat through to serving temperature. Continue to cook, uncovered on low heat for a thicker consistency. Check for salt before serving. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

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This dal has a hearty, yet creamy texture. The flavor is rich and savory. Just delicious!

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Shopping at India Bazaar, West Palm Beach, FL 🙂

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Indian Besan Omelet with Chickpeas,Tomato and Shallots

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Tender and tasty, spiced with garam masala and speckled with fresh tomato and green chiles, these delicious, high-protein Indian pancakes provide the perfect accompaniment to a meal with a smear of good green chutney or they can provide the base for the meal itself!  Way beyond roti or naan bread, these are full of flavor– soft and pliable, great for folding over and stuffing with even more Indian goodness.

I am finally digging into Madhur Jaffrey’s gorgeous cookbook, Vegetarian India: A Journey Through The Best of Indian Home Cooking, and last night I prepared Chickpeas in  Cilantro Sauce and Chickpea Flour (aka besan) and Tomato Pancakes. The meal itself was okay, not quite as intensely flavorful as other dishes I have tried, but I had a whole mess of chickpeas already cooked and ready to go, so I gave the recipe a try. The real star of the show, however, were the pancakes!

This morning I had batter left over and cooked up one for breakfast, omelet style. I reheated chickpeas from last night and mashed them a bit, rolling them up with fresh  sliced tomato and then used that hot skillet to char up a few slices of shallot hanging around in the fridge. Brilliant!!

I can see this versatile bread becoming part of my regular meal rotation. I hope you give it  a try!

Chickpea Flour and Tomato Pancakes (by Madhur Jaffrey)

Note: The method is briefly and loosely translated here and not written true to the original. In other words, this is how I did it and it came out great.

1 cup chickpea flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

1/4 tsp. nice red chili powder

*Generous pinch of ground asafetida (hing powder)

1/4 tsp. garam masala

1 cup tomato, finely diced

1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced

1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped

About 3 tbsp. olive of peanut oil

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients together with a whisk, removing lumps. Pulse fresh tomato, onion and chile to fine dice. Blend dry ingredients along with enough water to make a thin, crepe-like batter, about 1 1/4 cups. Press out any lumps.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tsp. oil. Measure 1/3 cup batter and pour on hot oiled pan, spreading thinly, as in making crepes. The cake will puff a little as it cooks. When dry-looking on the surface, carefully run a thin metal spatula around the edges, then turn and cook on the other side, about 1-2 minutes.

Serve with a meal or stuff with flavorful fillings and fold over, omelet-style.

Yield: 6 servings

*Asafetida, also known as Hing powder is available at Indian Grocery stores and online.  Some Oriental markets may carry it as well. However, it is often way over-priced online. I bought a nice little jar for under $3 at the Indian Grocery.