Step aside Wheaties, this new sammie and side have got the spotlight now. If you are looking for a new breakfast idea that will meet damn near every nutritional need your beautiful bod is screaming for; then keep reading.
This tofu scramble begins with a quick saute of leeks, ‘shrooms and a bit of garlic. Break apart a block of extra firm tofu, keep the heat up, add in a spice mixture, top with nutritional yeast and in between two toasted slices of (a new favorite) One Degree Organic Veganic (yes, a word) Sesame Sunflower Bread, and. you’re. done.
Want to really push your nutritional limits? Add a side of steamed kale.
And, because I can, ladies: might I suggest you serve this to your man; breakfast in bed is usually a sure bet for more hanky panky; not that he won’t be all over you anyway.
And, because I will, men: we know you have two brains, if you’re in the sack and those two organs are not in agreement, I have news for you… A plant-based diet has PROVEN to reverse that “issue”. But don’t take my word for it. You can read this, and this, and this, and this.
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp black salt
3 TBS water
2 TBS olive oil
1 large leek, sliced into thin rings (white part only)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb extra firm tofu, drained
½ C nutritional yeast
Blend spices together, add water and mix well. Set aside
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the leeks until they soften a bit, add in mushrooms and once they begin to releases their juices, add in the garlic and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Break apart the tofu into bite sized pieces and sauté for 10-12 minutes. Stir often. (You’ll want to use a metal spatula to get under the entire tofu to get the crispy part). Continue to cook until the tofu browns up a bit. At this point add the spice mixture and incorporate well. Add the nutritional yeast and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and serve warm either alone or as a sandwich. YUM!
Ok, you know when as a kid, you are forced to eat something so often that sooner or later you are totally turned off by it, for like, umm…EVER?! I recently had this conversation with someone who had this experience with beets (too bad, they really are delicious when roasted).
Well, my too much of a good thing comes not in the form one single food, but rather an entire meal; and that is Chicken Tetrazzini. Had it? Heard of it? No? Yeah, probably not many have, as spell check even has the red squiggly line under Tetrazzini as I type this, indicating to me that not enough people have used that word enough to garner it common place and worthy of no squiggles.
Chicken Tetrazzini or ‘Tet!’ as my dad used to call it in grand anticipation, (I’m still not sure how that man did not tire of it) is a casserole complied of noodles, heavy cream, chicken and Parmesan as it’s main ingredients. Even today as I strictly adhere to my plant-based (vegan) diet, it doesn’t sound really that bad. But, again, too much of a good thing, is well, not good.
Now, for whatever reason that still baffles me, I have been thinking about that dish a lot lately. I love a good challenge, one where I am the underdog and come out swinging (Sounds dreamy, huh? Yeah, it doesn’t happen too often). With the handful of non-vegan ingredients, I challenged myself to not only make Tet, but make it just like moms; I wanted to be transported back (mumble mumble) years ago and fill the house with the scent of Tet AND it had to look like it, too.
I started swapping. The butter was now Earth Balance. The original called for all-purpose flour, so I substituted in One Degree Organic’s Whole Wheat Flour (read about them!). Noodles were now egg free, heavy cream was swapped for non-dairy plain coffee creamer (I used So Delicious) and the chicken was now, non other than St. Louis based Match Meat. I added in a little dried rosemary and made my own Parmesan using nutritional yeast, walnuts and a bit of sea salt.
As the Tet cooked, the house slowly filled with that familiar scent. And when I pulled it from the oven, I’ll admit, I was nervous. Why? Many reasons: Did I do as well as mom, did I want to do as well as mom?, what if it totally sucks and I really can’t veganize this - I would have failed.
I took a bite and almost began to cry as the memories came flooding back. The house was filled with the old familiar scent and I was tasting flavors of years ago. Next, the husband test. Passed that one too as he went back for seconds, and no, I did not starve him for two days prior. However, the ULTIMATE test was mom. Again, I was a little apprehensive as I served it up to her, and damn if that woman didn’t inhale it! Now I can call the recipe a success.
Vegan Chicken Tetrazzini
1 C Earth Balance buttery spread
¼ C whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ TB dried rosemary
1 ¼ C vegetable broth
1 C dairy free plain creamer
7 oz egg free spaghetti noodles
8 oz Match Meat, chicken flavor
8 oz jarred sliced mushrooms
½ C vegan Parmesan (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 °. Melt the Earth Balance in a large sauce pan over low heat. Blend in the salt, pepper and rosemary. Stir until well mixed. Mix in broth and creamer and continue to stir. Add noodles, Match Meat and mushrooms. Once well integrated, pour mixture into an 8 X 8 casserole dish, top with vegan Parmesan and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Broil for 1 minute for a browned crispy top.
1 C nutritional yeast
¼ C walnuts
1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients in a mini food processor and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
They’re Here! The much anticipated Vegan Chocolate Truffles brought to you by the collaboration of Bittersweet Artisan Chocolates and STLVegGirl are now on the shelves at Parkers Table in St. Louis. Currently you can choose from a blast from the past Chocolate Cookie Dough or a smooth velvety Chocolate Coconut Ganache. They can also be mail ordered to you directly by contacting Bittersweet.
You can learn more about the collaboration here.
Here’s your inexpensive, seasonal and TASTY Meatless Monday dish:
Spicy Simple Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash, poked several times with a fork
1 tsp sea salt
2 C marinara sauce
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
½ C fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a shallow baking dish filled with 1” water, roast the squash for one hour. Once the squash is soft, Cut it in half, de-seed and scrape out the insides with a fork to create “spaghetti noodles”. Top with salt, marinara, hot sauce and basil.
Two years ago my now cooking assistant walked into one of our classes as a student. Little did I know she was on a mission to save her husband’s life. Below is his story on how and why he adopted a vegan diet.
So there I was sitting in my cardiologist office, and after running every test under the sun, the Dr. looks at me and says, “David, you’re going to die! You’re headed down a one way street towards disaster, and if you don’t turn around and find a new path, you’re soon going to die.”
Now let me set this scene for you: I had just turned 30 years old. My wife and I were happily married with two kids (both under the age of 3), and like most every other young family, food was not the priority in life. Meals generally consisted of which drive-thru would be least likely to recognize us, and when we did cook at home it was usually a combination of the quickest foods we could get to the table (lots of frozen goods, or chicken on the grill). Anything fast and easy!
But one night I found myself lying in bed and my left arm started to go numb a bit, and my fingers started to tingle. It was pretty sporadic, and I was quite confident that I wasn’t having a heart attack, but it got my attention for sure.
The next day I got up and headed off to work. I was talking to my Dad and told him what I experienced the night before, and he told me to call right away and see if I could get in to see the doctor.
I saw the cardiologist and he looked me over – up down – left right – even did an exploratory surgical heart catheter (let me tell you, it wasn’t fun). Long story short, the test results concluded that I didn’t have a heart attach (YET), but I did have a rare heart defect from birth. It was fairly slight, and only became unmasked because of the weight my body was carrying, and the amount of work my heart had to do to support myself.
The Dr. told me I needed to quickly find a way to not only drop some weight, but more importantly to get HEART HEALTHY. He said “David, if you want to be here to see your kids grow up, and live to old age with your wife, you need to find what will work for you and get at it.”
I WAS TERRIFIED!
All I could think about was my family (who I love more than anything in the whole world), and at the same time I had all these questions floating around in my head: How was I going to go home and tell my wife this news? Where do I begin to find information? What does “heart healthy” even mean??
That night my wife and I talked, and she was awesome! She’s always been my biggest cheerleader, and advocate in everything in life, and she truly shined here!! She put her nose to the grindstone and set about finding what to do while I on the other hand did what any guy in my situation would do - I jetted off to Las Vegas on a boys trip for the weekend.
When I returned she sat me down (my life kind of felt like a mafia movie with all the “sit-downs”), and told me everything she’s read, and all the information she can find, keeps pointing back to a plant-based lifestyle. She explained to me everything it was – all the things it wasn’t – and said becoming vegan is the most heart healthy way of living! She said: It’s not just for people fighting cancer, and not just for people with heart issues, it’s for anyone who wants to live a long healthy life, and we’re going to do it together!!
I said “F that!! I’m a man! I need to eat meat! I love milk way too much to give up! Thanks, but we’re going to have to find something else because that’s not me.”
She looked at me (with that look only wives and mothers can give) and asked softly, “David do you trust me?” I said, “of course I do.” She replied, “Then SHUT UP. Eat what I feed you for the next 30 days, and don’t say a word about it until the 30 days is up!”
I said OK! What could I do? Besides I had been a yoyo dieter my whole life so what’s another 30 days of something. No sweat I thought.
Well, the transition to veganism didn’t get off to an amazing start. There were a number of recipes that met the garbage disposal, and a few meals out that we would have liked to of dined & dashed on, but we we’re committed to giving it a chance, and quickly found some new foods we really did like, and eventually found our groove. Then a crazy thing happened. About three weeks into that 30 days we were eating dinner together (I had been eating what she told me to eat, and reading what she told me to read), and I turned to my wife and said “if this is really what being vegan is, then I’m all in.” And I never turned back!
It was 2 years ago that I walked out of that Dr. office (scared, with five expensive medial prescriptions, and tipping the scales at 315lbs).
And, here I am today: More than 100 lbs lighter. A proud, healthy, vegan man!
In that first year alone my cholesterol went from 290 – 107, and I lost about 60lbs. The most amazing part about it was that my Dr. had put me under orders for zero physical activity (for almost all of that 1st year so he could monitor my heart due to the abnormality). So those numbers were strictly (I repeat STRICTLY) a result of the foods I was eating.
Now some will say: David, obviously you had those kind of results. As heavy as you were your numbers were bound to drop. Maybe so, however, one of the things I absolutely love most about being vegan is that while I achieved those kind of results, I didn’t have to diet! I didn’t have to count calories – drink shakes – count Weight Watcher points – I SIMPLY had to be vegan – Truth be told, I didn’t even really practice portion control.
Just recently, my wife and I welcomed our third child (our first “veggie-baby”), and the experience of watching her carry him as a vegan was truly magical. The difference in her pregnancy (compared to her previous ones being non-vegan) was quite unique, and I attribute some of the amazingly blessed health of our new son to the nutrients he consumed (and the foods he didn’t) while in the womb.
There is tremendous power in the foods we eat, and as you can see becoming vegan didn’t just change my life, it prolonged it!
OK, so it is literally one hundred and seven f’ing degrees here in the Gateway City and why I am craving hot soup, I will never know. To turn on the oven, stove or even the microwave for that matter may just be a felony in some books, it also makes me a little sick. That said, I had a refrigerator full of beautiful greens, a ripe avocado, newly picked tomatoes from mom’s garden and various herbs/spices that were calling out my name. I know this says, “make a salad, you fool!” to many, but at least for the next 20 minutes, I am tossing that out the window.
Looking, looking, looking around the kitch…. and there she is: The Vitamix! The VM comes with a soup setting (genius!), so all you do it throw in your ingredients and let it run for a few minutes. And, before you know it, voila! you have SOUP without turning on that pesky (and dreadfully hot) oven/stove.
Here’s what I used for the best dern green tomato soup ever to run down my throat:
3 whole tomatoes (quartered, not seeded)
1 handful of kale
1 handful of spinach
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp each of ::
garlic powder, dried granulated smoked onion, dried oregano, cumin, kelp flakes
1/4 C water
s/p to taste
Yes, I know this looks like something you might serve to your child as a punishment, but please take my word (or don’t and just live dangerously) it tastes like heaven and looks like hell. Next time, I will make a cashew cheese sauce to drizzle on top and garnish with an edible flower.
The good people at Great Day St. Louis actually put up with these antics. I heart Matt Chambers - and really only because he finds me humorous. He has never had anyone walk off his set, much less actually strangle him on live TV. We broke some boundaries today.
Oh yeah, the food? That was good, too.
Jeeze…that’s a mouthful!
OK, who doesn’t love pizza?! In my quest to control ingredients and have a handle on what the heck is in my food, for some reason or another I’ve always been intimidated by making a pizza crust. I’m not necessarily put off by the prospect of defeat, in fact, I often invite it, even poke fun of it. Shoot, if never defeated, how would we learn? I believe Mr. Woodbury said it best:
“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”
This engrained in my head and and constantly eating at me, I took the plunge - HARD. I thought, OK, since I’ve been such a wuss about making a friggin’ crust, why not go balls out and really challenge myself?! All this talk about gluten-free (of which I am mos def. NOT), I decided to try my hand at making a (deep breath here) Homemade Gluten Free Vegan Herb Infused Pizza Crust.
Or, we could just call it HGFVHIPC - OMG, no!
I looked around at A LOT of recipes to familiarize myself a bit with this gluten-free world, while of course keeping the dough vegan and clean. I played around a ton (yes, defeat reared its ugly head, but I gave it my best bitchy look and tried again) and settled (for the moment) on this one. I will say the herbs are pretty interchangeable, but until I get bored (next week) with this combo of herbalicious deliciousness in my mouth, I’ll be piling my pies on this crust.
HOMEMADE GLUTEN FREE VEGAN HERB INFUSED PIZZA CRUST
Preheat your oven to 325°. Combine all ingredients and smooth with your hands onto a flat crust on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. If your hands become too sticky, run them under cold water and continue. Prick with a fork several times and bake for 20 minutes.
Top your crust with any ingredients you like and put back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Looking for a SUPER-DUPER quick and easy one pot meal that you can serve hot (right away) or chilled? It’s incredibly versatile - take it to a picnic or serve it at a dinner party. And, the nutritional value is through the roof! We’ve added organic greens from the farmers’ market, the complete protein compliments of the quinoa add a nutty flavor and the beans round out the texture. This is a winner every time.
Quinoa with Greens and Beans
2 C uncooked quinoa, rinsed
4 C vegetable broth
1 C roasted corn
1 1/2 C red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 C kale, de-stemmed, rinsed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 C watercress, rinsed and de-stemmed
1 1/2 tsp each: ground cumin, coriander, garlic powder, granulated onion powder
s/p to taste
Cook the quinoa in the vegetable broth - about 15 minutes (bring to a boil, then simmer)
Remove from heat and gently fold in greens, beans and corn.
Once integrated add spices, mix well and serve immediately or chill in fridge.