Vegan Food is Yummy!

Breaking Out of the Rut

-By Nora Jo

It has happened to us all at one point. No matter what the reason(s) may be, you ended up eating the same foods at mealtimes and snacks. Vegetarians and vegans may find themselves falling into this trap more often. When I first went vegan (8 years ago) I was new to cooking and the lifestyle. It was easy to rely on veggie burgers and other convenience products, but something was missing. There wasn’t any exciting variety or new flavors.

That was when I bought my first cookbook- “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskovitz. I still remember the first recipe I made, the “Chickpea Broccoli Casserole.” It wasn’t overly hard to make or time consuming, and it tasted delicious. Today, this recipe continues to be one of my favorites.  The beauty of it is how much you can customize the dish, by adding spices or using different beans or vegetables.

Breakfast is often the one meal that falls into a rut. We don’t give breakfast its due in our fast-paced society; we often rely on what we can grab on the go. Incidentally, it is also my favorite meal of the day. Again, Moskovitz to the rescue! I picked up a copy of her book “Vegan Brunch.” The book is full of brilliant ideas, with spins on old favorites and new ideas. It helps to make a big batch of your desired breakfast ahead of time, and store it so you can heat and serve on busy mornings. Two of my staples are included in this book: the “Tofu Scramble” and “Tempeh Bacon.” Again, I love the ability to customize these recipes. I have come up with my own tempeh bacon marinade using beer- talk about the perfect morning after treat! The beauty of the tofu scramble and tempeh bacon is that they can be used for many meals, and you can play with the different spices you add (and vegetables, in case of the scramble).

Last but certainly not least, desserts. There is nothing like a delicious homemade dessert, warm out of the oven. I always enjoy having a good “base” that I can use- for brownies, cookies, cakes and granola- that I can customize to add different ingredients.

Chickpea Broccoli Casserole

(from “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskovitz)

Servings: 4-6

3 (16 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced

3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup vegetable broth

1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In large bowl, mash the chickpeas well, using a potato masher or a firm fork; it takes about 2 minutes to get the right consistency. Add vegetables and mix well. Add the bread crumbs and mix, then add the oil and mix again. Finally, add the vegetable broth and salt, mix one last time. Transfer all ingredients to a 9 x 13 casserole dish (glass or ceramic is best). Press the mixture firmly into the casserole. Cover with foil, bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve it hot the day you cook it, but it tastes good cold as well.

Tofu Scramble

(from “Vegan Brunch” by Isa Chandra Moskovitz)

Ingredients

1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium chopped white onion (about a cup)

2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

juice of 1/2 a lime

1 carrot (this is optional, I grate it in at the end, mostly for color)

Spice Blend

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon thyme, crushed with your fingers

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high. Sauté onions 3 minutes, until softened. Add mushrooms, sauté 5 minutes more. Add garlic, sauté 2 minutes more. Add spice blend and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup water and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.

Crumble in tofu and mix well. Don’t crush the tofu, just kind of lift it and mix it around. You want it to remain chunky. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find that it is sticking. Add lime juice. Add nutritional yeast and mix it up. If it seems too dry add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it. Grate the carrot into it and fold.

Tempeh Bacon

(based on the recipe in “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskovitz)

3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or tamari or soy sauce

1/3 cup beer

1 tsp maple syrup

1 teaspoon ketchup

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 (8-ounce) package tempeh

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil

Directions

To make the marinade, combine the Bragg, cider, tomato paste, and liquid smoke in a wide, shallow bowl and mix with a fork until the tomato paste is fully dissolved. Set aside.

Cut the tempeh into thin strips (less than 1/4 inch thick) lengthwise. You should be able to get about twelve strips. Rub the strips with the crushed garlic, then toss the garlic cloves into the marinade. Submerge the tempeh strips in the marinade and let sit, turning occasionally, for at least an hour and up to overnight. After marinating, discard the garlic.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh strips and cook for 4 minutes on one side; the bottom should be nicely browned. Flip the strips over and pour the remainder of the marinade over them; if there isn’t much marinade left add a splash of water. Cover and let cook for 3 more minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Uncover and check for doneness; if necessary, keep cooking uncovered until all sides are nicely browned. Remove from heat and serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegan margarine

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Replacement for 2 eggs (I use 3 tbsp water with 2 tsp milled flax seed for each egg)

2 cups vegan chocolate chips (Ghiardelli Semisweet chocolate chips are vegan)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour and baking soda in small bowl. Beat margarine, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add “eggs”, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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