Pan-Fried Tofu

I had some tofu in the fridge that was about to expire and I wanted to do something quick and easy with it. This super-simple recipe is perfect as a protein on your plate with some veggies and a starch or it can be stored and used for sandwiches – along with numerous other recipes. Even though you don’t have to sprinkle on the nutritional yeast before frying, I think you’ll enjoy the crunch you get from it. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 package Extra Firm Tofu

2 tbsp Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acid

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1 tsp Ground Cayenne

1 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Paprika

Nutritional Yeast for added crunch

Oil for frying

Directions:

1) Combine all marinade ingredients into a large plastic storage bag with a zipper. Cut the tofu lengthwise into approximately eight 1/4″ thick slices. Put slices of tofu into marinade and be sure each piece is coated. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.

2) Put about 1/4″ of oil (can be vegetable, canola, olive oil, etc) in the bottom of a large frying pan. Warm on medium heat until oil pops when water is sprinkled on it.

3) Take the tofu out of the marinade and sprinkle each side with nutritional yeast. When the oil is hot enough, place four pieces of tofu in the pan at a time. Cook approximately 10 minutes on each side. You can use your judgement here as to the crispiness that you’d like – cook longer for a crispier texture. Repeat with the remaining four slices.

Makes 4 servings. Approximately 120 calories per serving.


I Love Facon

One of the (very) few things I’ve missed since becoming a vegetarian is bacon. Of course it is, that’s what all vegetarians say they miss. And why wouldn’t we? Bacon makes everything better. Whether it’s the crunch, the saltiness, just the flavor itself, bacon adds something to a dish that just always seems to take it to the next level of yumminess.

When I realized I no longer had a soy allergy, I headed right for my grocery store’s freezer section and picked up some Morningstar Farms soy ‘bacon’. While it looked nothing like bacon, it definitely tasted just like bacon, and so I made due with that for Sunday morning breakfast and other bacon emergencies. But unlike bacon, the soy bacon had no natural juices so I couldn’t really use it in recipes and get the same effect as real bacon.

Tempeh Bacon

Image from the Lunch Box Bunch.

As I searched the net for another bacon substitute, I stumbled upon a recipe for tempeh ‘bacon’. I’ve talked at length on this blog about how much I love tempeh, but I’d really only cooked it one way: on the grill. After looking at a few recipes for this concoction, I decided to combine the recipes together to create my own facon.

The result was beyond words. The tempeh bacon was crispy and crunch just like bacon and it even looked a bit like bacon. Also

, since you have to marinate the tempeh you get a lot of juices out of it when you cook it, meaning you can use it in whatever recipe you’d like as a bacon substitute while still get the same consistency you would from real bacon.

So, if you’ve been craving bacon but the store-bought ‘bacon’ just doesn’t cut it, just do a search for ‘tempeh bacon recipe’ and put together your own version of facon. You won’t be disappointed!


Vegan Almond Feta ‘Cheese’

This recipe is very wait-time intensive, but is very easy and doesn’t take too much actual time to prepare. Be sure to start this recipe at least 2 days before you want to enjoy it. This recipe is adapted from one that was originally published in Vegetarian Times. This is a great substitute for feta cheese and is totally worth the wait time. You can add this cheese to black bean tacos, sandwiches, and pastas for a little extra tang and texture. If you want something smooth and spreadable just skip the baking step. Unbaked this cheese can also be a substitute for ricotta in lasagna and other stuffed pastas.

Ingredients:

1 cup Whole Blanched Almonds

1/4 cup Lemon Juice

3 tbsp Olive Oil

1 1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 tbsp Ground Thyme

1/2 tbsp Dill Weed

Directions:

1) If your almonds aren’t blanched you will want to start by bringing a saucepan filled about halfway with water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add your almonds. Let them soak for about a minute and then drain them. Let the almonds cool. The skins should now be loose on the almond so you can use your fingers to squeeze the almond out of the skin. Repeat this process with all of your almonds.

2) Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with about 3 inches of cold water. Let the almonds soak for about 24 hours. Drain the liquid and rinse under cold water.

Crumbled Vegan Almond Feta Cheese

3) Puree the almonds along with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor for about 6-10 minutes or until the mixture is very smooth and creamy.

4) Place a large strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth. Pour the almond mixture into the cheesecloth and then bring the corners and sides of cheesecloth together and twist around the cheese to remove excess moisture. The ball of cheese should be about the size of an orange when you are done squeezing out the liquid. Discard the excess liquid. Please note that this process does take a bit of time but it’s worth it to get all of the moisture out that you can.

5) Secure the cheesecloth around the cheese with cooking twine or a rubber band and chill overnight or for at least 12 hours.

6) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Unwrap the cheese and form into a 6 inch disc that’s about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top of the disc is firm. Cool and then you can either leave it in the disc form or you can crumble the cheese and put in a container to chill. It will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!


Quick Lunch: Yogurt w/Bananas and Wheat Germ

One of the biggest challenges I face as a vegetarian is finding a quick meal that will fill me up, especially at lunchtime. I used to just take sandwiches or frozen dinners to work, but now that I’m more health conscious and I don’t eat meat, those options are a bit less appealing. One thing that I’ve noticed since I became a vegetarian is that I snack  much more and I think it’s because I’ve had a hard time finding something that is quick enough for lunch but fills me up so I’m not hungry 20 minutes later.

I was at the store the other day and I picked up some plain yogurt for smoothies. However, when I got hungry for lunch, I thought about what I might be able to do with the plain yogurt. So, I took 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, added a small banana sliced up, a few shelled sunflower seeds, and 2 tablespoons of wheat germ and what I got out of it was a filling lunch that was quick and tasted great! This is also a protein-packed lunch so it is beneficial in many ways. So if you are struggling to find the perfect balance of healthy eats that fill you up quickly, try this little concoction out.

Total Calorie Count = 237


Getting to Know Our Grains: Quinoa

Red Quinoa

Cooked Red Quinoa

I made my Southwest Black Bean and Corn Quinoa for Easter this past weekend and the one question I got asked over and over again was, “What is Quinoa?” It made me realize that even though I eat it quite often, even I don’t really know much about what exactly quinoa is. So I decided to do a little research and I thought this would be a good place to share my findings.

At the most basic level, quinoa is grain-like, though not truly a grain. Quinoa is actually a chenopod, which is more closely related to species such as beets and spinach than to cereal family grains. Quinoa has been around for thousands of years, originating in South America and it grows best in somewhat cooler climates.

Incas referred to quinoa as “the mother of all grains” and it was a major staple in the Indian diet. It was such a central part of their diets because Quinoa contains many of the nutrients that are essential to good health. Quinoa contains high percentages of protein (12%-18%) and has a balanced set of amino acids. In addition, quinoa is gluten-free so it’s a great grain for those with allergies.

There are several types of quinoa, including the most prevalent cream-colored quinoa as well as red and black quinoa. In my experience, the red quinoa is a bit smaller and a little crunchier in texture than the cream-colored quinoa. If you have a gluten allergy, you can also find quinoa flour and other quinoa products that make a great replacement for traditional wheat flour.

You can find quinoa in the whole foods or heath foods section of your local grocery store and although it can be fairly expensive, it is definitely worth having around the house for various recipes.


Vegan Banana Pancakes

This is another recipe I came up with this last weekend when I was sick. I’m not really a pancake fan, but my daughter is, so I decided I’d give these a shot. To my surprise, these pancakes were delicious! The banana gives them just enough sweetness that you don’t even need syrup!

Ingredients:

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

1 tbsp Sugar

2 tbsp Baking Powder (seems like a lot, but trust me, it works)

1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 cup Plain Soymilk

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 medium Banana, diced

Directions:

1) Place a large skillet or griddle on the stove over medium heat. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.

2) Add in the wet ingredients and stir well until batter is smooth. Just before making the pancakes, add in the diced banana and mix well.

3) Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mixture on the hot pan or griddle (you can change the amount of batter you use depending on how big or small you like your pancakes). When you see the top of the batter begin to bubble, wait about 30 more seconds and then flip the pancake. Cook for approximately 2 more minutes.

4) Repeat until all of the batter is gone. You can warm up your oven to 200 degrees or so and put the cooked pancakes onto a plate and into the oven to keep them warm while the others are cooking.

Serve warm! (These are also quite tasty cold.)

This recipe yields approximately 10 medium size pancakes.


Strawberry and Goat Cheese Galette

This past weekend I was sick and since I was going stir crazy I decided to get my bake on. Although desserts are (usually) a meatless affair, I thought this recipe was wonderful enough to share. An added bonus is that the crust is vegan (and super simple), so if you take out the goat cheese you’d have a delicious vegan strawberry galette. I also came up with several other delicious recipes over the weekend, so keep checking back this week for more recipes.

Before you begin this recipe, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Crust

Ingredients:

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Vegetable Shortening (Crisco)

1/4 cup Cold Water

Directions:

1) Add the flour to a medium mixing bowl and cut in the vegetable shortening with a knife or fork. Continue to cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like crumbs.

2) Add in the water and stir until well combined. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Filling

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs Fresh Strawberries

2 oz Soft Goat Cheese

2 tbsp Sugar

1 tbsp Cornstarch

Directions:

1) Slice strawberries into thin slices (about 4 slices per strawberry). Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Crumble

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Slivered Almonds

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

2 tbsp Butter or Butter Substitute, Melted

Directions:

1) Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl making sure it is all coming together in a crumble form. Add more melted butter and brown sugar as needed.

Putting it All Together

1) After the dough has refrigerated for at least 20 minutes, roll it out into an 11″ circle and place into a 9″ pie pan. Cover the bottom of the crust with the strawberry and cheese mixture. Spread the mixture evenly and then top it with the almond crumble.

2) Fold the edges of the dough just a barely over the outside edges of the filling. Put the pie into the oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned.

This recipe yields approximately 8 servings at around 250 calories per serving.