Archive | December, 2011

The Most Important Money Saving Thing You Will EVER Read As a Vegan

31 Dec

YOU CAN FREEZE DAIYA CHEESE.

Yes, the Vegan choice of cheese can be frozen. The bag it comes in is mighty fancy looking but the company refuses to put a resealable zipper on it because they think you won’t have it laying around in your kitchen long. Here is how I remedy this issue.

When I buy my Daiya, I cut the whole top off the bag and dump half into a zip lock bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. THIS BAG GOES IMMEDIATELY IN THE FREEZER. I fill another bag with the rest of the cheese and squeeze out all the air. It helps it last longer in the fridge.

The best part about freezing daiya is it does not take long to thaw out, and you can even just crumble it onto whatever you’re about to put into the oven and it will bake just fine. They company recommends not re-freezing the cheese once thawed but I’m a rebel and have done this with no issues.

Recipe: Tofu Scampi

28 Dec

My first vegan Christmas. My family is Italian American so we do the whole fish extravaganza on Christmas Eve, and I only recently started partaking in it. As a child I was very picky and didn’t eat a bit of fish. My tradition was to get a Whopper from Burger King. Yuck. My mother makes amazing Shrimp Scampi, and creamy scallop bake every year. I wanted something similar, and figured the scampi would be a lot easier to emulate.

I found a recipe for tofu scampi from The Vegan Foodie, and sat with my mother, comparing our ingredients. They were pretty much the same, except the butter and shrimp of course. I cut down the recipe to feed 1-2 people. I only ate a fraction of it though because I overdid myself and made a few different dishes which I will also post about later. This was pretty quick and simple to make, with most ingredients being things I had around the house.

  • 1/2 a block of tofu, drained and pressed.
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp earth balance or your favorite vegan margarine
  • Juice of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Drain and press the tofu ahead of time and cut into small triangles. Preheat a large, NONSTICK skillet on medium to high heat, and add the oil. I made the mistake of using a stainless steel pan at first and it burned and stuck to the bottom of it. Idiot. Fry the tofu until it is nice and golden on both sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels while preparing the sauce. Using the same pan, add a little more olive oil if needed, to saute chopped garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the white whine and lemon and let the sauce reduce for about 2 minutes. In the mean time, roughly chop parsley, pulled from stems. Add to the pan, along with salt and pepper. Stir and add in the tofu. Then add the earth balance and let it simmer for about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and pour into a baking dish. The original recipe didn’t go this far but I wanted it to be like my mother’s. Coat the top with italian style breadcrumbs and bake in the oven until golden and bubbling. This kind of dried out the liquid so the only change to this recipe I would make is, instead of adding the butter while cooking on the stove, melt about 4-5 tbsp in the microwave and pour over scampi, THEN put it in the oven at the standard 350. The buttery juice is fantastic when served over rice.Because the juice was kind of absorbed into the tofu while baking, it gave it an excellent lemon flavor, more like a marsala.

I also made theppk.com’s pierogies, and their Crab Cakes. Everything came out amazing and I did not feel left out on Christmas Eve!

Raw Cilantro Pesto

20 Dec

I had a bunch of left over fresh cilantro from the Pico recipe, and I didn’t want to throw it away. I found out you can use it instead of Basil in a Pesto Sauce. I only had a few days left of raw and making one more recipe couldn’t hurt. I kind of ended up throwing it all together in a food processor.

  • 2 cups of fresh cilantro, with the stems removed
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon’s juice
  • 1 small clove of garlic ,roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp vegan parmesan (I used ground up cashews but you can use Parma! brand)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • splash of warm water

Throw the cilantro, garlic, almonds, and parmesan into the food processor. Blend for about 15-30 seconds until the almonds are less “clonkly” in the machine. Add the lemon juice and blend. While blending, slowly pour in the olive oil. It will seem kind of pasty at this point. Now add the water. You’re going to have to scrape the sides down a couple times after this step because the water is going to make the paste splash around a bit. Blend until smooth.

I spiralized a zucchini and let it drain to put this on top of, but I just don’t have luck with zucchini. Draining it just made it clump up and get more watery. I’m kind of over zucchini pasta at this point, it’s just too watery if you don’t make it, and immediately scarf it down. I did do a little taste test, and it’s pretty close to the real deal. It also smells amazing.

I ended up putting this sauce in the freezer, to spread over homemade pizza crust and make a pesto crusted pizza when I’m eating cooked foods again!

The Essential Nutritional Yeast Sauce

19 Dec

I haven’t had to cook in a few days because I have SO many leftovers from the raw dishes I’ve shared. But I don’t want to make it look like I gave up on this blog already! Anyone starting out on a vegan diet who finds giving up the cheese the hardest part, NEEDS this recipe. Nutritional Yeast Sauce, or Nooch, as some people call it, is going to save your soul! Use it as mac and cheese sauce, or to top a fake steak sandwich, or anywhere else you would use a saucy dip. This recipe is from Sparkpeople.com, a great website for anyone looking for a healthier lifestyle or to drop a few pounds.

  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsp oil (olive preferred)
  Mix together in a small pot.  Cook on medium heat, stirring often until boiling.  Let boil and stir until sauce thickens a bit then take off heat.  You can add different seasonings to this, like taco seasonings to make a Mexican style dip for chips. When I put this on mac and cheese, I prefer to add about 1/2 cup of Daiya for added texture and cheesiness.

Raw Nachos Supreme

17 Dec

These raw nachos include every kind of topping under the sun. They’re inspired by Good Karma Cafe‘s raw nachos, an amazing organic vegan restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. Their menu describes the nachos as “House made crispy dehydrated nacho chips topped with Mexican sunflower crumble, creamy cashew sour cream, romaine lettuce, guacamole and fresh pico.” They are so delicious, and fresh, and really taste like nachos you’d get at a Mexican restaurant but without all the greasy tortillas.

Because there are so many different parts to this dish, I started a couple days ahead of time. I made my batch of Cashew Sour Cream the same day I made the Chicken Salad, so I could soak all my nuts at the same time. This recipe was very quick and easy, with minimal ingredients. I used a recipe from Food.com

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 -2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • juice of one small lemon
  1. Cover cashews with water and soak for a few hours, or overnight.
  2. Pour off all water, and place nuts in food processor.
  3. Add 1/4 cup cold water, salt, vinegar and lemon juice.
  4. Puree for 3-4 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy in consistency.

I soaked the cashews for about 4 hours. I probably should have let them soak overnight but you live and you learn.

Store that in the fridge overnight so it gets nice and chilly. The next day I started working on the pico de gallo. I deseeded and chopped 3 roma tomatoes and put them in a container. Then chopped about 2 tbsp of white onion and added it to the mix. I found already chopped red onion as a “managers special” at the store, so I got it to add to this and my guac. Only put in 1 tbsp in the pico, since I already have white onion. I personally like things onion-y, so if you want to omit the white onion and do 2 tbsp of red onion, that’s your prerogative Bobby Brown. I added about a tablespoon of fresh lime juice, closed the container, and shook it up. Store in the refrigerator.

The same night that I made the Chicken Salad, I soaked some sunflower seeds overnight to make the sunflower crumble. This recipe was a little tough to find and I halved what the recipe I did find called for since I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not.

Raw Sunflower crumble

  • 1/2 c raw sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
  • 1tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 seeded jalapeno
  • a splash of water

Throw everything into your food processor and give it a whirl til it is combined and clumpy. The original recipe called for braggs liquid aminos, and additional cumin. I don’t have braggs so I subbed coconut aminos, and I don’t have cumin so I just left it out completely. Store in the fridge, and it will last 4-5 days.

The final major component of this dish is the Guacamole. Guac can be made a million different ways, to suit your taste and textures. This is how I like it

Fresh Guacamole

  • 1 Ripe Haas Avocado
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced small
  • tbsp fresh lime juice
  • tbsp chopped red onion
  • small garlic clove, minced small

Mash the avocado to the best of your ability with a fork or knife. Add all other ingredients and continue to mash til combined. If you like a smoother guac, you can run this all through a food processor.

I took one heart of Romaine lettuce, and chopped off the end, releasing the leaves. Cut all the leaves off the tough “vein”, and give it a rough chop or hand shred. Pile into a bowl. I also took this time to add some fresh chopped cilantro to the pico I made the day before. Now it’s time to put it all together!!

I spy the infamous Corn Jicama salad in the background! They give you such a huge container, it goes for days. Plop a ice cream scoop of each ingredient onto the lettuce and sprinkle the corn and pico around. But what about the chips??

Like I said I don’t have a dehydrator, so I picked up a bag of Foods Alive brand Mexican Harvest Flax Crackers  , for $5.99 at 14 Carrot. They’ll have to do for now, but they weren’t bad!

Ahh, the fruits of my labor! Amazing! And very spicy! The pico probably turned out to be my favorite part of it, along with the sour cream. The guac was good too but something about that fresh cilantro was just so yummy. It gives enough ingredients to make a few of these, I’d say 4. Since I halved the recipe of the sunflower crumble though, I probably only have enough for one more including that ingredient. If you want enough to make 4 full servings, double that recipe. Enjoy!

Raw Mock Chicken Salad and Roma Tomato Avocado Side Salad

15 Dec

Last night I made the mock Chicken Salad ahead of time, to let the ingredients “marry” in the fridge. I used a recipe I found on vegweb.com, but tweaked it a little.

Mock Chicken Salad

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 3 hours
1/2 cup cashews, soaked 3 hours
2″ piece cucumber
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1/2 celery stick
1/4 cup pecans pieces
1 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice from 1/2 lemon
lots of ground black pepper
1/2 carrot, optional

Instead of adding the optional carrot, I mixed in a handful of raisins and 1/4 of an apple, chopped. Everything else gets thrown into the food processor and blended until a chunky consistency. Then fold in the raisins and apples. I also like to keep it in the fridge overnight because the blade from the food processor tends to heat up things, and hot chicken salad doesn’t sound very appetizing.

I had gone to 14 Carrot Whole Foods, a health food store in Lexington, SC a couple nights earlier. They offer many different raw options for take home and even a few at their fresh deli. They sell in their chilled aisle a few different kinds of flax seed “breads”, and I went with an onion flax bread. I should have tried the regular flax bread they had because it had a softer appearance. The onion bread was a little too crunchy and broke in half when I pushed the top of the sandwich on.

It really does taste like chicken-less chicken salad, but the apples help the texture. The dill is the star of the show, and the raisins bring a little sweetness to this savory dish. I topped it with sliced roma tomatoes, bibb lettuce, and avocado slices.

I had some left over tomato slices and avocado, so not being one to waste, I made a little side salad out of it. I topped it with some leftover corn jicama salad from Good Life., and seasoned with salt and pepper. Gotta say, I think I liked the salad more than my main course! It was crisp, fresh and tasty.

The recipe makes enough mixture for probably 3-4 sandwiches of this size. It actually turned out to be a lot of food and I have a whole half a sandwich left on my plate. This would even be perfect in a lettuce or cabbage leaf if you don’t want the “bread”. I will probably continue to make this even when I’m done doing raw, it’d be a perfect summer picnic sandwich.

Product Review: Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips

15 Dec

I picked up these Kale Chips at Earthfare tonight, for the “surprisingly low price” of $5.99. I’ve seen bags of Kale Chips for as high as 9 dollars, so for 6, I had to snatch them up. They had them in two flavors, Zesty Nacho and Bombay Curry. I went with the cheese because I honestly have never had a curry dish, so might as well go with a familiar flavor. It comes in a 2 oz resealable pouch, with a 1 oz serving size and one serving being 106 calories. So you can scarf down the whole bag and not feel guilty…or feel guilty because you just ate 6 bucks worth of SNACK FOOD.

When they say Zesty, they mean it! These chips were spicier than my Tacos! They also have a very strong smell, but if you enjoy the smell of Kale or a super green smoothie, it won’t hinder you. Gotta say though, they are tasty, as long as you have a bottle of water by your side. They’re crunchy, cheesy, and with 2g of fiber, 5g of protein and 9% of your daily iron, a pretty healthy snack!

Will I continue to buy these when I’m not doing raw? Probably not, unless my store started carrying the Kool Ranch flavor. However,  it makes for a nice snack when trying to incorporate more raw and more KALE into your diet! Thumbs Up! Check out their website for even more Kale Chips flavors!