Category Archives: Meals

Crispy Baked Tofu

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crispytofu

I love tofu and I try to eat it between one and three times per week. There is a fair amount of anti-soy hype, which much like the anti-gluten hype, I mainly just ignore. I believe in listening to how our individual bodies respond to what we feed them and following that “internal advice” first and foremost in all things. Of course, I do read assorted health and nutritional studies, and I am very careful to buy non-gmo and organic as much as possible.

I’ve been eating tofu since I was 16 and have found a ton of really satisfying ways to prepare it. This crispy baked version is one of my favourites. I used to use an egg bath prior to applying the coating, but eggs aren’t something I consume anymore, and I now use a chickpea batter in their place.

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Marinaded tofu, chickpea bath, breading mixture.

Marinade:

  • Vegan BBQ Sauce, teryaki or other sauce you enjoy
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Agave Nectar
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Liquid smoke (optional, but delicious)
  • Water
  • Any other flavours which appeal to you (be creative, it’s your mouth that’s going to be eating this)

How to Marinade:

  1. Cut some pressed tofu (pressed under a heavy object for 20 minutes to remove extra water) into slices, cubes, triangles or whatever shape most appeals to you, then place in a container with a lid.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together until they reach a flavour profile and texture which appeals to you.
  3. Pour the marinade over your pressed tofu and leave marinade for a minimum of twenty  minutes (I usually marinade overnight)

Coating:

  • Chickpea flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Cornmeal (optional)
  • Brown rice flour (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Seasonings/herbs
  • Water

How to Make the Chickpea Bath:

  1. Add chickpea flour to one cup of water  and whisk until it is the consistency of runny pancake batter or whisked egg. This usually takes about 1/8 of a cup of the chickpea flour, but it’s really an intuitive process and you should be able to tell by feel how you’re doing.
  2. Add any seasonings you with to the bath (I used a touch of sea salt and a touch of Chinese Five Spice in mine).
  3. Set aside.

How to Make the Breading Mixture:

  1. Add equal parts of wholewheat flour, and bread crumbs to a bowl, mix in  your cornmeal and brown rice flour if you’re using them.
  2. Add any seasonings you wish. I just added some fresh ground pepper and a touch of sea salt.
  3. Pour well mixed ingredients onto a plate and set aside.

How to Put it all Together:

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

  1. Drain tofu of marinade.
  2. Dip each tofu piece into the chickpea bath, shake off excess bath.
  3. Dip and roll each piece in your breading mixture.
  4. Place pieces one by one onto cookie sheet.
  5. Spray each piece with a fine mist of cooking spray or oil (I have a refillable oil misting bottle).
  6. Cook in oven 15 minutes, turn over, spray again then repeat cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

As you can see, my cooking process is usually quite intuitive, which makes recipes hard to share, but once you figure out the basic techniques, there is so much fun to be had with creating new meals.

I served this with brown rice steamed with both dried and fresh diced mushrooms, a vinegar marinaded cucumber salad (marinade is 1/8 c rice vinegar, a splash of agave, a touch of sea-salt, 1 cup water and a bunch of dill), and a pile of stir-fried carrots and zucchini. A very simple but very satisfying meal on a summer day. Tofu prepared this way is reminiscent of baked chicken, without the cruelty and cholesterol.

Tofu is rapidly becoming one of the things I cook which my mom looks forward to trying. A year ago she would run the other way if I told her I was serving tofu.

Vegan Aioli Pizza

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aioli

Vegan Whole Wheat Aioli and balsamic pizza

I made a vegan whole wheat pizza tonight for supper. This is the same crust recipe which I’ve used in previous pizza attempts, but I used the Veganomicon’s white bean aioli as a base instead of traditional pizza sauce. My toppings include kalamata olives, sautéed onions, mushrooms, and garlic, oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar. I really don’t miss the cheese on pizzas so long as I have a variety of creative and tasty toppings.

Cold Black Bean and Millet Salad

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milletbeansalad

I don’t know what any of your grocery budgets look like, but right now mine is pretty darn seriously small. I have roughly 20 dollars a week to spend on fresh produce, so I’m pretty careful about what I buy, use and waste. This of course means that I’m also very carefully managing my pantry staples as well, so I try to make grains and beans ahead and incorporate them into multiple meals. Today I had leftover millet from yesterday and I’m not feeling much like cooking, so I made a really simple cold grain salad, loosely based off of this recipe. By “loosely based off” I mean I used the basic concept, and totally stole the dressing recipe.

My version has millet,corn, black beans, some salsa verde and kalamata olives I’m trying to use up, pepitas, cucumber, a ton of fresh parsley, and some frozen corn. I copied the dressing recipe exactly, but I suspect that the addition of the salsa verde will change the flavour profile pretty significantly. Accompanying this is a healthy dollop of The Veganomicon’s white bean aioli, which I am completely and utterly noming with every meal this week (holy garlic fix batdog).

 

A Return to Balance and a Big Bowl of Brown Rice.

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Well, the time has come for me to get back into cooking the way I normally do for myself when I’m on track and balanced. I mainly focus my meals around whole grains (primarily brown, long grain rice), with a strong emphasis on vegetables, and a small amount of simple protein (beans, tofu, seeds, nuts, seitan) and some fermented/pickled foods to act as condiments. Basically, my usual diet is pretty heavily influenced by Asian style cooking (from all parts of Asia) and has a pretty firm leaning toward macrobiotic style eating. I find that when I follow many of the basic macrobiotic principals I  have very few cravings for sweets or fats, and that my blood sugar stays pretty much in the perfect range (I have type two diabetes).

My meals had to change a fair bit while my ex and I were living together as he didn’t feel comfortable cooking here, and he certainly didn’t have much of a palette for whole foods or many of my staple ingredients and flavor profiles. He was pretty open to trying new things, but I found the whole process of feeding him to be pretty stressful and it kind of crushed my interest in doing much in the way of savory dishes.

Anyway, tonight marks my first day of officially being back on track with my menus, and I thought I’d share some pictures and information with you as I’m preparing my evening meal.

Tonight I’m serving a simple vegetable stir fry with extra firm organic tofu in a spicy peanut sauce, served on a bed of steamed millet. I’ve doubled my tofu portion as my mother has asked to join me (she hates cooking, but she enjoys eating) and I’m hoping to have a few leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.

Toasting My Millet.

Toasting My Millet.

 

My High Tech Tofu Press (plate, cloth napkin, tofu, cutting board, cans of beans, and a rock).

My High Tech Tofu Press (plate, cloth napkin, tofu, cutting board, cans of beans, and a rock).

Pressed Tofu Marinating in Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Pressed Tofu Marinating in Spicy Peanut Sauce.

 

Everything Waiting to Come Together. (I do pre-steam my broccoli slightly as I find it is better to stir fry it a shorter time to avoid mushiness).

Everything Waiting to Come Together. (I do pre-steam my broccoli slightly as I find it is better to stir fry it a shorter time to avoid mushiness).

 

The real trick to making a decent stir-fry is to add your ingredients starting with the longest cooking ones, and working your way down to the shortest cooking ones. You can manipulate this a fair bit by adjusting the size to which you cut things (thinner slicing equals shorter length of cooking time needed).

I serve my stir-fry on a pile of rice/millet/soba/quinoa/whatever, and top with some gomasio (ground, toasted sesame and sea salt). It’s a pretty simple way to cook and eat, but it can be profoundly satisfying and affordable, both of which are big selling points for me.

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BBQ Chickpea Tenders (borrowed from partylikeavegan.com)

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These BBQ Chickpea Tenders   <- (click the link for the original article and recipe)are what I’m making to accompany the oil and vinegar potato salad I posted earlier. I’ll serve this with some chunky cut fresh veggies and an assortment of condiment options, as I’m cooking for both my mother and myself this evening. It’s so cool that my mom has become so interested in plant-based eating! When I first adopted a vegan lifestyle she seemed to really resent it.

 

Chickpeas
Chickpeas (Photo credit: Shlomi Fish)

 

 

 

I’ve made these (both with the BBQ sauce and also with thick teriyaki or no sauce at all instead) and have really gotten good results. I often make the Chickpea cutlets from the Veganomicon (because I FUCKING LOVE THEM), but on the days when those are just not QUITE what I’m craving these are a great option.

 

I’m amazed by how many cool recipes are out there to replace animal products in ones diet. Most of the people who dislike these sort of “fake meats” hate them because they expect them to be like the actual meat item, when in reality if you approach them as new foods you’re trying out instead of substitutions, you’re pretty likely to adore them. Since I’ve started explaining this to my mom before feeding her these veggie items, she’s really grown to love a ton of vegan foods, and her freezer is always stocked with Gardien and Yves items for nights when she’s too busy to cook something complicated.

 

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Vegan Recipe: Falafel Sliders – YouTube

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This recipe sounds amazing. Falafel is TOTALLY one of my favourite foods of all time. I’m constantly looking for a low fat/oil falafel recipe which has the right texture to totally fullfill my craving.

Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus
Serves 4

Make-Ahead Tip:
Uncooked Falafel Sliders can be made in advance and kept refrigerated until ready to cook. Tahini Sauce can be made in advance and kept refrigerated.

FALAFEL SLIDERS
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, divided
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, quartered
5 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
½ cup packed fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup garbanzo flour (or other flour of choice)
2 tablespoons olive oil

AVOCADO HUMMUS
¼ cup chickpeas, reserved from sliders
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1/3 cup packed fresh Italian parsley
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne

TAHINI SAUCE
½ cup tahini
½ cup water
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

14 mini buns or dinner rolls sliced in half, toasted
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

To make the Falafel Sliders: Reserve ¼ cup chickpeas for the Avocado Hummus. Place remaining chickpeas, onions, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, cumin, coriander, salt, and flour in a food processor and pulse until combined, stopping frequently to scrape down sides. Using the palms of your hands, form mixture into 2-inch by ½-inch patties.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and pan-fry patties in batches, letting cook about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Do not crowd the pan. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

To make the Avocado Hummus: Combine ¼ cup chickpeas, avocado, parsley, oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in food processor and puree. Adjust seasoning to taste.

To make the Tahini Sauce: Puree tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, and salt until smooth.

To serve: Layer the Falafel Sliders, Avocado Hummus, Tahini Sauce, and sliced tomato on the buns.”

 

Source:

Vegan Recipe: Falafel Sliders – YouTube.

“Millet Moo-Free Burger” Review

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milletburger

As promised I gave the Millet Moo-free Burger recipe a try this evening and they turned out really well. I didn’t have fresh rosemary or spelt flour, so I used dried oregano in place of the herb and combined 1/2 chick pea and 1/2 whole wheat flour in place of the spelt. I REALLY appreciate the fact that these are baked burgers instead of fried as I do try to keep added oils out of our meals as much as possible.

My mother and my boyfriend are both very picky about veggie foods and both are usually suspicious of new things and both of them LOVED these. My boyfriend actually ate three of these which is basically a standing ovation.

I made a double batch of these and served them with a large green salad and a table-full of condiments. These will be making a frequent appearance on our dinner table.