Deli Style Tuna Salad (Fish-Free)

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Having gone plant-based about eight years ago, I had actually forgotten about fish as food. But, when I read about this new product, well–I must admit, the food memories come flooding back:

A Subway 6-inch tuna (just albacore and mayo) on whole wheat roll with a bag of Doritos, my reward after working a long lunch shift behind the counter as a ‘sandwich artist’. Scoops of  deli tuna salad piled high on toasted English muffins, smothered in melted cheddar, shared with my best friend, Terri–at the local diner when we were kids. Tuna salad at home–studded with finely diced onion, celery and sweet pickle relish, first my Nana’s recipe and then, later, my best attempt at recreation. But it was never quite as good.

Then there were the Tuna Helper days. So many combinations of silky noodles, macaroni and savory sauce. Later, I would come up with my own creamy béchamel and whole grain pasta creations, folding in frozen baby peas for color.

So, yeah, the memories are there if I reach back far enough. Good memories. So, I thought, what the heck–if nothing else, trying this latest fish analog will give me something to write about.

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First impressions:

Upon opening the package I found the scent mild, briny, but not like seafood. No fishy smell at all. More like hearts of palm or artichokes from a can. That, to be honest, was kind of a disappointment. Not to say I wanted to smell fish, but I wanted to smell the sea, like the strands of seaweed floating in my miso soup. Just a hint. But, no–I didn’t get that here.

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Not unlike other vegan protein products, the bits are kind of hard and crumbly. From experience, I know this won’t bode well for incorporation with mayo. So, I take it for a spin in the food processor to break it down into more of a shredded paste-like consistency, yet still retain some texture.

The Sarno brothers would most likely frown on this, but, hey–I paid my five bucks, so I’m gonna make it mine.

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Now, we’re talkin’. The grinding actually released a bit more moisture, helping it combine quite nicely without being too wet. Here, I added mayo, celery, onion and pickle relish, 1 tablespoon each.

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The flavor was quite nice, the texture spot-on–even with that kind of dry, edgy mouth feel one expects from flake tuna. Of course, without the add-ins I wouldn’t find it as favorable to be sure.

The final analysis:

Would I buy the product again? I have to say no, I wouldn’t. At $5 per package and each package offering one hearty serving (or two conservative portions) it’s a high price/ low-yield way to spend your lunch money.

I have said this before, when it comes to deli sandwich fillings it’s really about the mayo, onion, celery and relish combination for me. You could basically grind up anything, mix it with these ingredients and it would make a delicious sando, in my opinion.

Take chickpeas, tempeh or white beans and mash em up. Take crumbled pressed tofu sprinkled with a bit of turmeric for color–bam! Eggless salad. So many creative ways to include less processed and whole foods in the equation and we know laboratory-produced protein isolates are not the best source of protein for our bodies.

Have you tried this product? What do you think?

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Why Wait?

 

 

My usual lunch at home: veggie salad with black beans, miso-tahini dressing, rice cake, hot tea.

My father-in-law suffered a cardiac event right after Christmas. One of his arteries was almost fully blocked. He is not overweight, he doesn’t smoke or drink. He maintains a high level of physical activity, even wears a pedometer. But he does consume meat, almost every day.

My mother’s carotod artery is 50% blocked on both sides. Over the past two decades she has been on high blood pressure medication, and now she takes a statin pill every day. She is about 25 pounds over her healthy weight, doesn’t exercise regularly and eats meat and dairy every day.


We went to dinner at my in-laws’ home on New Year’s Day. The talk was mostly of the upcoming heart surgery. A valve replacement for Pop. My mother-in-law hands me a sheet of paper:

“I know you’ll be happy to see this…” she smiles, and waits for my reaction.

Where did you get this?” I ask incredulously.

“From the cardiologist,” She says.

I give a big whoop. “Yes!! Finally…it’s starting to make sense.”

Whether they adopt a new diet remains to be seen, but over dinner Pops asked me about how I replace meat in meals. Although they know I am a personal chef and that we have both been vegan for the past 8 years, and they always cook a pan of roasted vegetables when they invite us to dinner, they NEVER ask about what I cook. So, I see the questions as a positive sign.


There are so many important environmental and ethical reasons to adopt a plant-based diet, and I strongly support them– but my main goals are to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent chronic disease. So far it’s working. Neither of us have any health problems and neither of us take any medications. We rarely even catch a cold. And we are both over 50.

Here’s the other side:

I am very impressed with this handout. It really marks a breakthrough, I think, in de-stigmatizing veganism and helping to show that a whole food, plant-based diet is not a trend. It is a solid (and simple) healthful way of eating.

But, why wait until a health crisis forces us to shift to a more mindful way of eating? Why not start right now, where we are, in this moment–taking steps to improve our health and the way we feel today?

Roasted Pumpkin Mousse

 

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Here’s a little something special to spice up your next vegan feast!

Roasted Pumpkin Mousse

15 ounces PUMPKIN PUREE
1 tbsp. SUGAR,CANE
⅔ cup BROWN SUGAR, LIGHT, packed
1 tbsp. ARROWROOT POWDER
1 tsp. CINNAMON, GROUND
½ tsp. AGAR-AGAR POWDER
⅛ tsp. GINGER, GROUND
⅛ tsp. SALT, KOSHER
⅛ tsp. BLACK PEPPER, GROUND
¼ tsp. LEMON ZEST, FINE
pinch NUTMEG
pinch CLOVES
pinch CARDOMOM
15 ounces COCONUT MILK
½ tsp. VANILLA

1.Preheat oven to 325. Spread pumpkin on parchment-lined sheet tray. Sprinkle cane sugar over top and bake 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin has dried on surface and has cracked appearance.:

2.Spoon pumpkin into food processor. Let cool to room temperature.:

3.Combine brown sugar, arrowroot, cinnamon, agar-agar, ginger, salt, pepper, lemon zest, nutmeg, cloves, and cardomom in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Stir in the coconut milk and vanilla.:

4. Set pan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly. Cook to thicken, until the mixture is thick and gel-like, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to bowl of food processor with pumpkin. Scoop into large bowl and chill.:

5. Serve with whipped cream and candied pecans (optional)

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Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

 

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These spring rolls are a refreshing, healthy change of pace from the usual baked or fried spring rolls. Chock full of crunchy vegetables and tangy sesame-marinated shiitakes, they set the stage nicely for your next Asian themed meal or can be eaten alone as a light meal or party finger food.

Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

Recipe courtesy Selene Vakharia  www.rawfoodrecipes.com

(Servings: 4)

8 leaves Collard greens, de-stemmed
2 sheets Seaweed (optional)
4 ounces Shittake mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces Snow peas, julienned
4 ounces Carrots, julienned
4 ounces Napa cabbage leaves, julienned
½ Cucumber, julienned

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. Ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. Tamari
  • 4 tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp. Sesame oil

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  • Marinate the sliced mushrooms for 15-30 minutes. Squeeze marinade back into bowl. Set aside to use for dipping.

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  • Put ingredients in the middle of the collard leaf and roll. Wrap and secure the roll with a strip of seaweed, if desired.

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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

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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.

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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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Tempeh-Walnut Meatballs

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I have tried various combinations of grains, beans and nuts that call themselves meatballs, but these actually taste like the real deal.

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Sure, you can go to your local Whole Foods and pick up frozen Gardein meatballs which are pretty tasty, but they are highly processed. When you have a little extra time, this recipe is worth the bit of effort it takes to create a tasty whole food, plant-based meatball that pairs perfectly with your favorite marinara sauce.

Tempeh-Walnut Meatballs

  • 8 ounces Tempeh
  • 1 cup Walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp. Parsley, fresh
  • ½ tsp. Oregano, dried
  • ½ tsp. Basil, dried
  • ½ tsp. Thyme, dried
  • 4 cloves Garlic , rough chopped
  • ½ cup Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Water
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees:
2. Steam tempeh: Using a steamer basket, steam tempeh for 25 minutes to soften. Let it cool.
3. Process ingredients: In food processor, combine walnuts and remaining ingredients until you have a semi-moist meal.
4. In a bowl, crumble the steamed tempeh with your hands until there are no big chunks left.
5. Add the mixture from the food processor into the bowl with the tempeh and mash together with your hands.
6. Form into balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. : Oil a baking sheet. Place balls and coat with a bit more oil and bake for 30 minutes.
Servings/Yield: 5 servings | 20 balls
Source: Sexy Vegan
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