Tofu Pad Thai

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This is a quick and easy recipe for a Thai restaurant favorite. I like to make this dish at home, because I can choose the ingredients. I think it tastes even better than traditionally prepared. Most Thai restaurants season with fish sauce– a real bummer for vegans.

I also like to press and freeze my tofu, then thaw it completely before using in dishes where I want more texture. This method also helps tofu absorb marinade more readily. I just wrap it airtight, freeze overnight, then when thawed, I squeeze it out one more time, and use as desired.

prep

Tofu Pad Thai

from “Big Vegan” by Robin Asnell

  • ¼ cup Vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. Lime Juice (or more, to taste)
  • ¼ cup Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. Canola oil
  • 12 ounces Firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, minced, peeled
  • 2 cloves Minced garlic
  • 8 ounces Rice noodles, banh pho
  • 4 Scallions, Cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 ounces Bean sprouts
  • ½ cup Roasted peanuts, chopped
  • ½ cup Cilantro

Method:

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a cup, mix together the stock, lime juice, tamari, sugar and cornstarch.
2.Heat the oil over high heat, and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the pepper flakes and fry until the tofu is browned, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute.
3.Meanwhile, cook the noodles in the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain them. Stir and add the stock mixture to the pan with tofu. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice if desired. If too strong, add more stock or a bit a of water. If too sour add a bit more sweetener. Balance the flavors to your taste.
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4.Stir and quickly add the noodles, scallions and sprouts. Stir-fry gently until the liquids are thickened and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

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Vegan Mushroom Gravy

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Low-fat gravy?? How could that be? How about no-fat gravy? This gravy is so smooth and savory, but also light, therefore you can really feel good about pouring it over your favorite loaf or patty, mashers, biscuits or rice.

I am a firm believer in simplicity. I don’t get too fussy with small details and have little patience for long-winded recipes. So, I love The Happy Herbivore cookbook by Lindsay Nixon. The recipes are quick and easy, vegan and low-fat. Best of all, I downloaded the book to my Kindle for only five bucks!

Everyday Gravy

from “The Happy Herbivore” by Lindsay Nixon

1 cup water

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, divided

1/4 teaspoon of each: garlic powder, onion powder, ground ginger

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered

1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1/2 cup soy milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the first five ingredients in a non-stick skillet and bring to a boil. Add the garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasoning and saute until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.

Shrooms

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 Picatta

Tempeh Picatta

Tangy lemon and capers in a savory butter garlic sauce over pan-seared tempeh. A very easy, enlightened version of the restaurant classic!

Tempeh has been a staple in Indonesia for over 2000 years. It is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat. It is found next to the tofu in the grocery store. I like to use it in recipes that call for a “meatier” texture like for loaves and faux meatballs.

This recipe makes plenty of sauce, so it goes great with pasta or rice on the side.

Tempeh Picatta

from “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli

1 8-ounce package tempeh, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons vegan margarine

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

*In a large pot, place the tempeh in a steamer basket over enough water to reach the bottom of the basket. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, checking the water level periodically and adding more if needed.

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In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat and cook tempeh on each side for 5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

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In the same skillet, heat remaining oil and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and let cook a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly add broth to skillet so the oil doesn’t spatter. Reduce heat to medium and let the broth bubble down for 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl and slowly drizzle it into the skillet, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low. Add lemon juice and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the tempeh back into the pan and turn over to coat and heat through. Turn off the heat and stir in margarine, capers and parsley until margarine is melted and well incorporated. Check for seasoning and serve immediately.

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*Note: Use this steaming method to remove any bitterness from the tempeh. If you use West Soy Brand tempeh, however, bitterness will not be an issue and you can skip this step!

Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

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Flipping through the pages of  Fitness Magazine I was  delighted to find a vegan recipe. I was also happy to find the recipe quick and easy (crock-pot), with familiar, easy-to find ingredients. Not only that–the ingredients are easy to substitute–say, for instance, bok choy for the spinach or Creminis for Shitakes, etc.

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This dish is delicious. I’ve already made it twice in one week! The tofu really offers a rich protein source and the veggies lend great flavor, while the coconut milk and peanut butter give it a creamy sauce with just a little red curry kick!

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Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

 from Fitness Magazine

 Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup low-sodium veggie broth

¼ cup natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon red curry paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy or tamari sauce

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 14-ounce package firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced (or white, cremini, etc.)

1 cup light coconut milk

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

6 cups baby spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces

4 lime wedges, optional

4 servings hot cooked brown rice

1. Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine cornstarch and broth in cooker until cornstarch is dissolved.; stir in peanut butter, curry paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Add peppers and mushrooms and toss gently. Cook on low 4 hours.

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2. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice and spinach, turn slow cooker to high; cook 15 minutes more.

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Serve wth rice and garnish with lime wedges if desired.

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Arepas (gluten and soy free)

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Arepa is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It has a great variety of uses and is often eaten for breakfast with jam or split for sandwiches.

I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and seeing that it was vegan, gluten and soy free I just had to try it. I really liked the simplicity of the recipe and the result was a nice little corncake, a lot like an English muffin, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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I stuffed mine with a spicy Mexican bean and cheese filling, but I imagine you could serve them with just about anything.

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Arepas

recipe courtesy Bon Appetit magazine

2 cups masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, not masa harina or corn flour, this is very important)

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix masarepa with salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the water with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Allow to sit for five minutes to hydrate the mixture. Knead mixture a few times then divide into 8 portions, forming each into a ball then patting into a small cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large non-stick skillet and place four arepas to cook, covered, until brown, about 6-8 minutes. Turn and cook the other side, uncovered about 6-8 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with 1 tbsp oil and remaining arepas. When cool enough to handle, split and fill as desired.

Roasted Carrots with Cumin and Dill

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I admit I often overlook the humble carrot when deciding on a vegetable side dish. Let’s face it, they are cheap and always available, so I tend to take them for granted.

I forgot how a simple vegetable can be so deliciously sweet and yet substantial and healthful and nourishing when gently oven-roasted with a few basic seasonings.

I found this recipe while skimming through a local Portland, OR magazine called “MIX”. It is so easy to prepare and the recipe is simple enough to remember that I know it will become a staple side in my repetoire.

Warning, though, make sure you purchase enough carrots, because I can eat half a pound of these no problem. So, I would say a standard bunch of organic California carrots such as Cal-Organic brand would provide 2-3 servings.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Roasted Carrots

                                                  –From Anne Parker

2 bunches carrots, with the tops removed, sliced in half lengthwise

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt (or less, depending on your taste)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 handful fresh dill, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange carrots in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.

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Toss to coat. Season with salt, cumin and fresh dill.

the cutBake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and beginning to brown.

IMG_9622“Be Vegan Make Peace”  Aaaah….Portland

Five Minute Asian Peanut Noodles

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Noodles are high on my list of favorite foods. There is something so comforting in the simplicity of just noodles and sauce. And they are fun to eat.

This recipe is quick, quick, quick. You can dress it up or dress it down to its basics. Either way it’s a very simple no-cook sauce with three main ingredients, and easy to remember ratios. That’s my very favorite part.

ingredients

Ingredients:

1/3 of a 10 oz package authentic Chinese dried noodles

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce ( or liquid aminos)

Dash of garlic powder

Dash of ground ginger

Optional Ingredients:

Shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions or other fresh veggies

Fresh cilantro, torn or chopped

Toasted sesame seeds or Gomasio

Asian Chili Sauce or crushed red pepper

Chopped peanuts

Noodles

Method:

Place noodles in a microwave safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for five minutes. While noodles are working, blend sauce ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick. Drain noodles and add to sauce. Toss noodles to coat and add any optional ingredients, chili sauce (if you like it spicy) or other garnishes.

prepYield:

One large or 2 small servings

 

Two Bean and Bulgar Chili

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I came across this recipe, while sifting through a drawer. It was a page torn from one of those little paperback supermarket cookbooks at the register called “Meatless Meals”.

There is a handwritten note beside the recipe, “Steve’s favorite 2005”. This little memory jog took me right back to that year when I first met the man who would become my husband, though neither of us knew it yet.

Neither could we imagine the journey we would share–a winding path filled with surprises, some happy, some sad and some bursting with instantaneous joy and laughter.

Two-Bean and Bulgar Chili

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked bulgar wheat

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Method:

Saute in oil over medium-high heat, carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 minutes.

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Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, until bulgar is tender and flavors are blended, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

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Add drained beans and simmer 5 minutes until heated through. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

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I am really glad this recipe was Steve’s favorite back in 2005, because that was long before we  became vegan. What an evolution together, over time, to a more compassionate lifestyle, a deeper enjoyment of food and a more humble appreciation for nature.

I am ever grateful for my husband’s love and support on my personal journey, and I can’t imagine a better partner with whom to share the ride.

Veggies and Dumplings

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This one will be familiar to those of you who grew up in the south, or grew up enjoying southern food. My Nana taught me to make old-fashioned dumplings and gravy when I was a child, and it still says down-home comfort to me.

Today’s dish reflects a more enlightened approach: more veggies and gluten-free. This recipe, adapted from “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats” by Allyson Kramer is flawless.

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Veggies and Dumplings

Boil 4 cups vegetable broth

 Add:

½ large zucchini, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

½ Vidalia onion, chopped

1 3/4 oz. Shittake mushrooms, chopped

1 1/2 oz. Cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add and return to boil:

½ tablespoon dried sage

½ cup corn kernals, fresh or frozen

1 cup shelled edamame, thawed

Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

 Make dumplings:

2.5 cups bizquix mix (see recipe below)

¾ c non-dairy milk

Make 10 dumplings (golf ball sized) and drop into stew ( I use a small ice cream scoop). Cover and reduce to medium-low.  Cook 10 minutes, until firm.

If the broth does not thicken, you may add a cornstarch slurry, but I found the stew magically thickens on its own.

Slurry:

1 T cornstarch

1/8 cup cold water

Note: When reheating, do not heat to piping hot, as it will turn the dumplings soggy. Heat only until warm enough to be palatable.

Bizquix Mix (Gluten free baking mix) 

3 cups superfine brown rice flour

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

¾ cup potato starch

¼ cup tapioca starch

1 t zanthan gum

½ t sea salt

1 ¼ t baking soda

3 T baking powder

1 cup coconut oil, slightly softened, not liquified.

Mix coconut oil into dry ingredients until crumbly. Cover and chill in fridge for a few hours until cold. Pulse in processor until uniform fine mixture. Store in airtight container up to 3 weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexy Cheezy Sauce

This is a rich, velvety cheez sauce that is simple to create and uses whole food ingredients. No science experiments here, just straightforward steps in an easy to follow recipe.

I picked up a copy of “The Sexy Vegan” and I am impressed with this first recipe I tried. I like the tone of the book–tongue in cheek, with funny recipe titles like

“The Girlfriend’s Favorite Salad That She Constantly Asks Me to Make and Won’t Shut the Hell up About”. Although the vibe is lighthearted, these are solid, real world vegan recipes for the health conscious and the hedonist alike.

There are lots of recipe makeovers for classic American favorites such as New England Clam Chowder, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Buffalo Wings, Jalapeno Poppers and Macaroni and Cheese, just to name a few.

There are also several upscale “dinner party” style dishes like Oyster Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Seitan Caponata with Lemon Pilaf, and Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Fennel.

Brian L. Patton, an L.A.-based professional chef, clearly knows what he is doing. He had me at Hello and I can’t wait to dig in!

“Not Yo Mama’s Cheeze Sauce”

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw cashews

1 12 oz. package soft, silken tofu

1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder and turmeric

1/2 teaspoon yellow miso

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pinch ground chipotle powder

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons canned diced mild green chiles

Method:

In small pot, cover cashews with water and boil about 8 minutes to soften them up. Drain and let cool. In food processor or blender, process until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until very smooth.

Heat gently over low heat and apply liberally anywhere you want to cheez it up!