I think as vegans, we can all relate to Lisa Simpson on one level or another. Whether you're at work, with friends or family, or at a wedding (ugh), you can bet that you will be in the dietary minority (unless you're only around fellow vegans all the time, which, congrats). I get strange looks all the time from people when I politely decline their food and start to drink green juice instead. I've also gotten positive reactions from chefs willing to accommodate me to acquaintances asking insightful questions pertaining to the reasons why I went vegan, etc. Navigating social landscapes is definitely something that can be challenging but also rewarding as someone who lives this unique lifestyle.
The most challenging dish to sell to people who aren't keen on vegan (or just "healthy" food in general) is plain old salad. Hence this...
Yep. I feel her pain. (#same)
The funny thing about salad is, though, it can be just as easily mind-blowing as it can be boring and unappetizing. This rule applies to every food, though, in my humble opinion. Omnivores throw fried meat, potatoes and tons of cheese on their salads and say it makes them "tasty", so why can't vegans do their equivalent of the same?
I love salads. They're great all year round. I love that they can consist of cooked and raw vegetables alike. I also like to mix pickled and fermented vegetables in mine to add flavor, texture and nutrition. A great, quick and easy lunch is some salad greens, chopped seasonal vegetables and some make-ahead protein to throw on top. When I'm feeling lazy, I'll throw beans on top that are barely seasoned. However, for VeganMofo, I decided to do something a little more involved and special...
I made some oven-fried cornmeal crusted tofu. Not only did I make delicious and crispy tofu, but I made a Japanese bulldog sauce to go on top of it. What's bulldog sauce, you ask? Well, it's basically a sweet and sticky BBQ sauce that's usually served with tonkatsu (or fried pork cutlets). This is a classic and homey Japanese meal that I enjoyed as a young kid. I definitely recommend making a vegan version of the cutlets if you can (Here are a few ideas from some fellow bloggers: Vegan Ronin | Lazy Cat Kitchen). They're coated in panko breadcrumbs and are wonderfully addictive.
The sauce itself is interesting because it has fruit purees in it that lend their sweetness. Along with the fruit, bulldog sauce has tomato paste in it as well as carrot. Instead of trying to automatically recreate the sauce itself, I decided to create my own vegan version with household ingredients that most people have already or can find easily at the store. I added a kick to mine by throwing some Frank's Red Hot sauce in there! You can definitely sub sriracha and that would be an excellent idea. The resulting sauce is slightly spicy, tangy, thick with a depth of sweetness from molasses and mirin.
If you can't find mirin, you can always sub maple syrup or your favorite liquid sweetener. This sauce goes very well with the tofu and works as a dressing for the salad on its own. You can also dress your veggies with your favorite dressing if you'd like. I don't care for a lot of dressing so I left mine alone with the exception of a splash of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper!
The only thing I will tell you is this: if you're trying to impress someone with tofu, salad and your sauce making skills, use this recipe! There's no way anyone can deny that eating a vegan salad is a good time if you serve them this. (If they don't like it, then more for you!) Go out there and make some friends! 👯🥗
Bulldog BBQ Tofu Salad
Yield: About 5 Servings
Free from: Nuts, Gluten
Preheat oven 400 F.
I'm finally back into the blog grind! After the holidays, I needed a break from everything. Although I didn't stop making delicious food, I just didn't have the energy to post. Fortunately, I have some more free time and the will to eat healthy foods for the new year.
I always thought of myself as a generally healthy eater, but when the weather gets cold I tend to get lazy. I always fall back on easy, warm meals. Lately, I've been noticing that I've been eating more processed vegan foods than I really want to. Although they're delicious and easy, they aren't a good "all the time" food. So, to remedy my poor choices, I've started eating more whole plant foods. I've been making sure to stock my kitchen with as much produce as I can. In the winter months (it's almost spring, but still pretty chilly here), I usually choose produce that has a longer shelf life. My favorites as of late have been root veggies, onions, apples and pears, and so on. When I buy more delicate vegetables like greens, I try to eat them as quickly as possible so they don't go to waste. Salads for days, in other words.
Anyway, I've made my own salad dressing for a very long time. For the most part, I always hated buying dressing from the store because it was always too much. Am I every going to really use all of that ranch? No. And now, I don't even like ranch.
There were always at least 3 bottles of old, opened salad dressing in my fridge growing up. My mom would buy some when we needed it, and then we would eat salad for a while and it would sit. Forever. When I moved, I swear I threw away 8+ year old dressing. 😷😖
After that, I made a promise to myself that I would just make dressing if I ever needed it. The great thing about salad dressing is that it literally takes 2-3 ingredients to make (plus salt and pepper if you're doing it right). Those ingredients are staples every kitchen should have: fat (oil/nut butter/"mayo"/non-dairy product) + acid (vinegar/citrus juice) + binder (mustard/seeds/nuts/pureed fruit or veg).
You can even get away with leaving the binder out. I like it because it thickens the dressing and helps it bind to whatever your putting it over. In this recipe's case, I used chia seeds because they're delicious, healthful, and add some texture to the salad. They helped thicken the dressing really well after sitting for only 10 minutes. If you don't have them, ground up flax would also work. You can also omit them if you want. They're pretty optional.
These are the basics of my dressing: apple cider vinegar (which I lovingly refer to as ACV, the miracle liquid), pomegranate juice (you can sub any other juice if you wish), and Just Mayo (or any preferred vegan mayo option/non-dairy yogurt). Then, the chia!
If you sub the vegan mayo for non-dairy yogurt, you may want to scale back the vinegar. The vinegar makes this dressing taste like yogurt when it's completed, so if you add the entire amount, it may be too "tangy" for your liking. If you like tang, dump that ACV in there! 💃
I used this dressing for a simple apple salad with mixed organic greens topped with cranberries and nuts. It was perfect for a light lunch. The dressing made it look adorably pink. Feel free to use it on any salad you desire and enjoy! 💝
Chia Pomegranate Salad Dressing
Yield: 1 serving
Free from: Gluten, Nuts, Refined Sugar, Soy*
*Use a soy-free product
Today's recipe is a simple one that I love. I almost never make Korean inspired food. I also can't really go out to get it since Korean restaurants are typically not vegan friendly. When I was younger, I ate at a few Korean BBQ restaurants with my family. One of those restaurants was in Japan, believe it or not! There was a big beautiful yellow lab parked outside to greet customers. She was their mascot and the inspiration for their name, too.
My favorite part about Korean BBQ is the marinade, which is the case for many people, I would assume. For those who eat meat, they may feel differently. I took the simple yet flavorful marinade and slathered it on some tofu for a quick and absolutely delicious meal. No need for meat here. 😉
I served the tofu with some rice and pajeori. Pajeori is a dish I had never heard of before. It's a beautiful salad of julienned scallion and spiced with Korean chili flakes. If you don't have the Korean variety, just substitute regular dried chili flakes.
I cooked my tofu in a pan with some coconut oil. You can absolutely bake or grill it for a sightly charred effect. I wish I could grill mine, but it is quite chilly where I live! (Also, no grill. 😅
Any way you cook it, give it a try! Tofu is good any way you cut it, so spice it up next time you need a quick meal. Let's begin a love affair with Korean food together! What d'ya say? 😍🌶🍚
Korean BBQ Tofu with Pajeori
Free from: gluten, nuts, refined sugar
Yield: about 4 servings
Adapted from My Korean Kitchen
Where do I want to eat when I want someone else to cook for me?
The answer for this post didn't come easily at all, but if I had to pick...
I would absolutely have to pick The Tasty. Debuting earlier this year as a highly anticipated Philly vegan diner, The Tasty has gained momentum and is now traveling at warp speed into the realms of plant based deliciousness. They've expanded their already amazing offerings to specialty coffee drinks, baked goods, and seasonal specials. Everything on their menu echoes what one would find at a regular diner in and around the area: sandwiches, waffles, omelets, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, salads and appetizers. It's immensely satisfying to be able to go eat brunch or breakfast somewhere when, as a vegan, eating those meals out is very difficult at mainstream restaurants.
I can only picture my sad breakfast options at other diners: fruit cups, dry toast, bagels, and maybe oatmeal if it's made without milk or butter. I guess you can technically count hash browns, but they are so often contaminated by shared cooking surfaces that they don't really appeal to me anymore. 😥
So when I visit The Tasty (pretty often), I usually go for veganized omelets or tofu scrambles of delicious veggies, non-dairy cheese and vegan meat subs. These aren't items I use at home very often, so I figure why not go all out if I'm not cooking? 😏
I snapped a photo for you of their spinach and soysauge omelet. It's absolutely to die for if you like savory spices, caramelized onions, and fresh spinach glued together by vegan mozzarella and pillowed by the most soft and fluffy egg-free omelet you've ever dreamed of. I think it's a mixture of chickpea flour and tofu judging by the texture, but I could be wrong! 😜
If the omelet isn't enough food, they pile home fries on the other half of the plate for good measure. They're crispy and soft at the same time, just the way I like them. They're also seasoned with something wonderful, so every bite you take is going to be a good one. There are many more amazing dishes on the menu that I've had before. Here are a few of them to tempt you: vegan mozzarella sticks, Caesar salad, breakfast burrito, PB&J french toast, biscuits and gravy, tater tots...you get the idea.
Heading over to Philly yet? I'll be back next week. 😉🐷
I had to give you some close ups...mmmm.
The second photo shows a huge glorious piece of caramelized onion. 😍👄
There are also lots of awesome things to look at inside and outside of The Tasty. Their sandwich board is always on point, which you can see from the first photo I featured. They also have a parade of dogs walking outside when it's nice out. You can't beat that.
Inside, there are whimsical decorations that seem to be things that you may find in either your grandmother's house or your friendly punk's house. There are also some cute handmade art pieces like this adorable clock.
The winking toast is everywhere, too. I like to think that they're congratulating me on my meal decision. 🍞😉
They also serve coffee in mismatched mugs that you might find in your own cupboard, which is a nice homey touch. The staff and owners are very friendly too, so make sure you say hi and ask for their recommendations! This place is just about as comfortable as going to a friend's place for brunch (or whatever meal you choose).
Next time you're in Philly, make sure to give The Tasty a try. Try not to order the whole menu at once. 😜
I'm. Finally. Back!
I apologize for my absence these past few months, but I've been very preoccupied with moving! The process was not as extensive as I expected, although it still took me over a month to finally get everything from point A to point B. Luckily, I'm just about settled.
Not being able to cook in my own kitchen has been tough, but I am slowly adapting to my new one. I definitely like the layout (plus it has an island!). I do miss having a gas range, but I actually don't mind my new stove. The change in temp is pretty immediate, which is all I ever need!
Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I'm going to make my come back with a fusion taco recipe. I was going to feature another dessert, but I'm not really sure I can top last year's Tres Leches Cake! No, I wanted to go savory and simple this year. Tacos are indeed a Cinco de Mayo staple, but they rarely ever look like these.
I filled organic taco shells (which you can always use soft, if you prefer) with a curried tempeh filling. The tempeh is crumbled into a stew of veggies and spices and resembles "beef" when it is fully cooked. The vegetables are those that you may find in a basic curry, such as potatoes, carrots, peas...I added some corn in for sweetness as well.
Japanese curry, in my experience, has always been slightly sweeter and more earthy than Indian or Thai curry. I gave the filling this flavor by adding in a bit of cinnamon and mirin to offset the savory garlic and cumin-based curry spice. The resulting flavor is rich, but not hot. Feel free to add chilies or red pepper flakes to increase the hotness. I left this batch mild to accompany the slightly sweet and acidic cabbage slaw I made as a topping!
Enjoy these with any and all taco fixings, a festive drink, and maybe some guac and chips if you're extra hungry. ;)
It's good to be back! <3
Japanese Curry Tempeh Tacos
Free of: Gluten, Oil (dressing only)
Yield: about 6 servings
Curried Tempeh Filling
Apple Slaw Ingredients
My post for today is brief: simple & sweet.
When I eat fresh produce at the end of the summer, I like to keep my recipes uncomplicated. I like to use the late summer fruits and vegetables as quickly as I can. This way, my dishes stay fresh and flavorful and nutritious. The chill of autumn is already in air where I live, so I'm glad I could savor a little bit of summer before I transition into more hearty cooking methods.
This stacked salad that I made is just a hodge podge of fresh ingredients that I found: local organic heirloom tomatoes (they're wonderful!), olive oil marinated baby kale, raw red onion and raw garlic all nestled in between layers of the easiest chickpea salad I've ever made. Chickpea salad is one of those recipes that vegans love to bring to summer barbeques or picnics because it's easy, fast and totally versatile! It's also an easy sell to those who aren't vegan: it's chickpeas in a may-like dressing with some diced veggies! Who could say no?
Well, people who don't like chickpeas, I guess...
My chickpea salad is only 4 ingredients! Well, it's technically 5 if you count water.
This recipe calls for no super-processed ingredients and is very healthy! It's also oil-free but still super creamy. I love the base dressing. I first learned how to make it from binge watching Naturally Delicious by Ann Gentry when I first became vegan. I found her show on television one day and was so stoked that I had "discovered" a vegan cooking show. Little did I know, Ann Gentry is a huge deal. I did learn quite a bit from her instructions. This recipe is my top take-away!
It's a bit of a "dressing hack", if I can say those two words together without sounding too dorky. ^_^'
Easy Chickpea Salad
Serves: approx 4-6 people
Free of: nuts, sugar, oil, gluten, soy*
*Use chickpea miso if you need! The more chickpea, the better, right?
Late Summer Sangria
Yield: Approx. 5 cups
You may sub the red wine for an alcohol-free wine, grape juice, or other juice of your choice!
Feel free to mix up the fruits, too!
If President Obama came over for a meal, I'd like to think I'd keep it real. (Sorry, didn't mean to rhyme!)
I voted for the guy twice, I think he's a rad dude, and he seems pretty down to Earth. I also think he has a cool family and some cute dogs. =P
Political opinions aside, you have to see what I'm talking about right? I don't think President Obama would be one to expect some fancy five-course meal from me. Well, if he did, he would have to say so. ;)
I came up with a dish that the adults and kids would enjoy. I also wanted to create a flavorful dish that was also healthy, since Michelle seems to promote healthy eating awareness. I thought a nice jackfruit dish would be nice...it's something not a whole lot of people have heard of/eaten in this country and it would be nice to introduce to such an influential family something different yet fairly accessible.
I had never heard of jackfruit being used in vegan cooking until I saw the Seabirds food truck on the Food Network a few years ago. They were serving jackfruit in tacos at the time and I was thinking, "Fruit?! WHAT?".
Then, I finally found out how jackfruit can be prepared to be used as a pulled meat substitute when I attended cooking school. The jackfruit itself is best used from a can, as it is already soft and easy to work with. I found some at my local Asian market, and I'm sure you would be able to purchase it online.
Right out of the can, jackfruit seems pretty bland. However, once you chop it up, season it with spices and cook it, it's pretty delicious! The result is a somewhat light but meaty texture that resembles pulled meat. I like that it isn't very heavy like tempeh or seitan. That way, you can garnish it with all the veggies, non-dairy cheese or beans you want and it isn't overwhelmingly filling! Well, unless you want it to be. ;)
Look out, Mr. President! I've got some jacked up tacos for you! ^_^'
Pulled Jackfruit Tacos
Yield: 2 large soft tacos
Happy Fall, everyone! =D
I would have to say that fall is my favorite season. There is something nostalgic about the first chill of autumn in the air. It reminds me of scarves, hayrides, hot coffee and tea, sleeping under a warm blanket...70
Oh, and I can't forget FALL FOODS!
Usually, everyone thinks of pumpkins around this time of year. Pumpkin spice flavored everything began coming out at the end of August this year, much to my dismay. Although I love pumpkin and spice, I don't think it should be a flavor for everything. I am excited to make some homemade pumpkin pie for the holidays though, don't get me wrong... I just think that August is a wee bit early for it!
I was thinking of a good dish to celebrate the fall equinox with. I love squash and stews and soups, but I still feel that it's a bit early for such heavy fare. The local temperature where I live is pretty warm still. We've had some chilly mornings, but over all our days are within the high 60-low 80 range. I still crave salads; I can't help myself!
In summer, I like to make very light salads that are full of yin energy. I first learned that different foods have either expansive or contractive properties when I attended cooking school. We were taught with some principals of macrobiotics, which I tend to follow now and again. I'm not a die-hard macrobiotic cook, but I definitely identify with many of the macrobiotic principles of food combination and preparation. I find that I gravitate towards macrobiotic foods more during the fall and winter months.
A simple example of a yin food, or a food with expansive (light, outward growth) energy, is baby lettuce. Baby lettuce grows upwards out of the ground, absorbs energy from the sun, and basks in the open air. Eating this lettuce will provide me with light nourishment that will not make me feel weighed down. However, this lettuce benefits me best when it is accompanied by a heartier root vegetable like a carrot. Carrots are more of a yang food since they grow in the ground. They keep our bodies and spirits rooted and steady, as well as satiated.
For me, winter calls for more yang foods. These heartier foods (like root veggies, baked dishes, grains, etc.) keep me full and warm when it's cold out. I like to balance the heartier foods with robust greens, like kale or collard greens. This salad that I've made is the perfect answer to the first calls of autumn: a light salad of substantial root vegetables with an oil-free dressing.
Almost all the vegetables I used for this salad are roots, so they are crunchy and satisfying with slightly sweet flavors. In order to keep the salad light, I shaved the vegetables thinly. The translucent disks are so delicate and reminiscent of fallen leaves! This is definitely a great Japanese side dish for any warm supper. Eating something raw on the side of a cooked main dish is an easy way to balance the yin and yang of your meal.
You can easily substitute some vegetables for others if you don't like them or cannot find them. Daikon and Japanese cucumber are usually difficult to find in a standard grocery store. If you are lucky enough to live near an Asian market, you will probably be able to pick up at least one of them! If you've never tried daikon, I urge you to give it a chance! It's a big carrot-shaped white radish with a slightly pungent bite. I like using raw daikon with sweeter vegetables to balance our their flavor. Some even say that daikon has fat-burning properties...so, why not? =)
Autumn Root Vegetable Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette
**Organic if possible!**
Ginger Dressing Ingredients
Whisk all ingredients together in a dish. Adjust any ingredient to suit your palate!
Happy Fall Cooking! ^_^
This is my very first food blog! I post revised conventional recipes of foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. My cooking here is all gluten-free and cruelty-free, but full of flavor and comfort.