When I was a kid, the sight of few human beings made me as happy as a vision of Betty Crocker’s anthropomorphic meal-time-in-a-box mascot, Lefty the Helping Hand, hanging out on our kitchen counter. Because that meant only one glorious thing: Helper was coming!
As I’ve mentioned before, my mom is not a fan of the kitchen. So Helpers were a common sight in our house — much to the joy of little Bridget. They were so gooey. So noodely. So salty. So yum.
In particular, I adored the 1990 version that featured Lefty wearing a Russian hat:
The Berlin wall is down! Creamy noodley goodness for all!
Anyway, that was 24 years ago. Flash forward through slap bracelets, Tamogotchis, Britney and Justin’s matching denim ensembles, MySpace and the resurgence of all things Apple, and while 29-year-old Bridget no longer eats animal foods, I still cherish the hell out of some Helper memories.
So, not too long ago, I decided I was going to turn this most-dear childhood staple into something a little healthier. The first step? Way less salt. And, obviously, no artificial preservatives. Easy peasy.
Now, your typical stroganoff sauce consists of sour cream, oil, butter, beef broth, onion, garlic powder and salt and pepper. As you know, I don’t play with those first four items. So I improvised. I traded out cashews for the artery-clogging trifecta of cream, oil and butter, added apple cider vinegar for the sour tang, and replaced the beef with a combo of vegan, meatless soy crumble and vitamin-D-packed mushrooms. Mmm, shrooms.
I also felt the need to squeeze some green into my ode to a healthier Lefty. I went with a cup or so of frozen peas, but spinach or kale would be a good plan, too.
The results did not disappoint.
Before I give you the play-by-play on how to whip this up, here’s a little info on why cashews are so awesome:
Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.
While they’re not fat free by any stretch of the imagination, cashews certainly kick butter, cream and plain old olive oil’s asses. First of all, they’re actually less fatty than some of their other nut brethren, and they boast unsaturated fat (the kind that’s good for you). They’re also made up of a bunch of minerals, which make your skin, hair and nails all pretty-like. Plus, cashews provide B vitamins, and they contain several antioxidant compounds regarded as anticancer agents. Also, they’re actually a seed (Mr. Seed to you). Who knew?
And now, let’s pig out!…
Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper
Sauce (makes about 3 cups)
- 2 cups non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
- 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup soaked raw cashews
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- A generous shake of dried parsley
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 oz. non-egg noodles
- 6 oz. vegan meatless crumbles (I used Gardein)
- 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas (or other veggies, such as kale, spinach, etc.)
- To make them as creamy as possible, soak your cashews for at least a half an hour. If you are lucky enough to own a Vitamix or similarly turbo-powered blender/food processor, then you can skip this step.
- Combine all your sauce ingredients in your blender/food processor, and whiz until smooth.
- In a non-stick skillet, combine noodles, sauce, mushrooms and peas and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
- When mixture bubbles, turn heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Dig in!
Not pictured: drool.
Sure, I could have used a fork to crush the crackers. But this was so much more fun.
Did you know that Ritz Crackers are vegan? It’s true. I’m not saying they are in any way nutritious, in fact I’m sure they’re not, but goddamnit they are yummy and made of zero animal bits.
And sometimes, as Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford have taught me, you need to treat yo’ self.
That’s why I was so excited when, while scrolling through the resplendent sea of possibilities we call Pinterest, I happened upon this recipe for crab-cake balls made with Ritz.
“I can soooo sub out chickpeas for crab,” I said to myself, steepling my fingers like Mr. Burns, before adding the image to my “Make it Vegan Challenge” board. “This is going to be awesomesauce.”
And it really was.
In addition to subbing out the crab and egg, I also added in some veggies: onion and celery.
Un-crabby Cakes with Ritz Crackers
- 1 can drained chickpeas
- 1 vegan egg replacement (I used this chia-water goop)
- 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp parsley
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (if you don’t have any)
Bella and Leo were fooled by the seafood-like smell, and kept trying to sneak off with some cakes. Here they are post discipline, and rightly ashamed of themselves.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Crush drained chickpeas with a fork or potato masher in a large mixing bowl.
- Add crushed crackers, Old Bay, parsley, onion and celery to the chickpeas.
- In a separate bowl, combine your chia-water goop, mustard, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the liquid mixture over the chickpea and cracker mix, and gently combine.
- Mold your mixture into golf-ball sized lumps and bake on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper for 30 minutes. I also sprayed the balls lightly with some oil before baking, but you could skip that step if you want to stay oil free.
I can’t speak to how long these hold up in the fridge, because Miles and I (mostly me) ate them all within 24 hours. I can, however, tell you they are bomb-ass on salad — particularly when paired with the Deity Dressing from “Everyday Happy Herbivore” (pg. 128). So much noms.
There’s no point in slicing it. I’m eating the whole thing. In one bite.
We all seem to really like puppies, too. But, sadly, this post has nothing to do with them.
There are very few things everyone agrees on. A casual perusal of your Facebook wall ought to make that evident. But one of those rare nouns that can bring us all together in agreement — think Pepsi lovers and cat ladies joining hands with Coca-Cola worshipers and dog people — is pizza. Thanks, Italy!
Pizza is marvelous and simple and brings a smile to peoples’ faces from Japan to Africa to Uncle Sam’s Land.
Of course, there are tons of ways to doctor yourself up a plant-based pie. But this gem is a little non-traditional, using (to die for) cashew alfredo sauce instead of the traditional red, as well as bright and beautiful — and crazy good for you — kale and summer squash, as well as baby bella mushrooms.
Fun facts time. Did you know that mushrooms are the only plant source of vitamin D? And did you also know that summer squash is a rich source of Vitamin A and C, plus magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium and Vitamin B6? Aaaaand did you know that kale is a demi god? Okay, well not quite, but it can do some amazing stuff for your body.
Alls I’m saying is, this pizza not only tastes faboosh, it’s also good for you. You could amp up the nutrition level by cutting the vegan cheese and using a whole wheat crust, but I chose to go the regular, unbleached white flour route this time, and sprinkle on some Daiya.
FYI, the sauce is also amazing on pasta. Nomnomnom. And it’ll keep in the fridge, covered in an airtight container, for a few days. You can also freeze it for months.
- 1 prepared pizza crust (my favorite recipe from Veggieful.com)
- A handful of baby bella mushrooms (or any kind you like), washed and sliced
- One summer squash, sliced into bite-size pieces
- A big handful of kale, ripped into bite-size pieces
- 1/4 cup vegan mozzarella, if you like
- 1/2 cup cashew cream (recipe below)
- A splash of grapeseed oil or olive oil (about a tablespoon)
- A tsp of lemon juice or so (to taste)
- Garlic powder, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Dried parsley flakes, to taste
- 2 Tbsps corn meal
As you can see from the ingredient list, I really eyeball this sauce. I didn’t use any measuring cups, but just mixed as I went and kept taste testing. If you think you’d like some other herbs, throw ‘em in! Want more pepper? You add that pepper, gal or guy! But here’s the gist:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Roll out your dough onto your pie pan, and lift up the edges to sprinkle the corn meal underneath. I also sprinkle a little bit on the top, too.
- To make your alfredo sauce, mix together your 1/2 cup of cashew cream and the oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley, taste testing as you go, until you have a sauce you like. Then spread it out over your dough.
- Top with the sliced veggies, and cheese if you like, and bake for 30 minutes, until the crusts are browned.
Cashew Cream Recipe
- 1 cup raw, whole cashews
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Soak your cashews in cold water for six to eight hours, then strain them.
- Place the strained cashews in a food process with 1/4 cup of cold water, and blend, blend, blend some more, until it’s smooth as silk — no bits left. If you want your cream to be thinner, just add a bit more water.
That’s it! This will make you a whole cup, but you can store what’s leftover from the alfredo sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. It makes for a very tasty dill dip for veggies, or salad dressing, too. Just add lemon juice, grapeseed oil, parlsey, a bit of salt and lots of dill.
You guys, I have good news: It’s totally possible to enjoy the savory and sweet flavors of a meal with the Colonel, minus the part where you actually consume a bucket of fried animal appendages bursting with artery-clogging cholesterol and fat. Because that’s gross.
But you know what’s not gross? Plants. Chickpeas, for example, are super good for you. They’re full of fiber, protein, vitamins, antioxidants and other goodies. And they also lay the foundation for a damn fine chickun patty.
Plus, coleslaw definitely doesn’t require cows’ milk and chicken eggs to do a tasty and cool cabbage-and-carrot dance on your pallet.
And, as it turns out, you can easily whip up a flufftastic buttermilk biscuit without the use of any animals at all. Not a one.
Chickpea Chickun Patties
This recipe is an adaptation of Happy Herbivore Lindsay Nixon’s Chickpea Tenders, which you can find in her fabulous book, “The Everyday Happy Herbivore.” I opted to throw in some paprika and liquid smoke to amp up the flavor. And while I used Lindsay’s poultry seasoning recipe (below), I use a different chicken-style broth powder.
- 1 15oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 Tbsp chicken-style broth powder
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning (recipe below)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp low-sodium tamari (or regular soy sauce)
- 4-5 drops of liquid smoke
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 3 Tbsp water
Poultry Seasoning Ingredients
Grind up the 1 Tbsp of each of the following dried herbs with a mortar and pestle until they’re course, but not powdered:
- Marjoram (or oregano)
- Parsley (or basil)
- Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a potato masher or a strong fork (my fork kept bending. I am clearly not wealthy), smash up your chickpeas in a large bowl until they’re totally broken down. You don’t want to see any whole peas.
- Add in all your ingredients, except the vital wheat gluten and water, and stir until combined.
- Stir in the vital wheat gluten and water, until a gooey dough forms.
- Knead the dough with your hands for a minute or two, shape it into a ball, and then let it rest for about 10 minutes.
- Form the dough into four equal-sized patties, and space them evenly on your cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes on each size, twice, to cook for a total of 40 minutes (so, you flip them over four times).
I wholeheartedly agree with Lindsay that these are great served warm, but they’re even better cold on a sammich with some barbecue sauce or mayo. Nomnom. They would also make fabulous nuggets, I just wouldn’t cook them as long (probably about 20 minutes).
Simple Vegan Slaw
- 3 carrots, shredded
- 1 head of cabbage, shredded
- 3 radishes, shredded
- 1 cup vegan mayo (I used Veganaise)
- 4 Tbsp vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp almond or soy milk
- A dash of salt and pepper
- In a large bowl (seriously, go big, because you need room to toss your slaw), combine the mayo, vinegar, sugar, milk and spices, and whisk them together until you have a smooth sauce.
- Add in your shredded veggies, and gently toss until they’re all coated.
- Cover the dish in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
I cannot overstake the flaky yumminess of these biscuits. You will be amazed, and have an instant desire to buy stock in coconut oil. I found these little gems over at Chez Bettay: The Vegan Gourmet, but I thought the directions were a little hard to follow when broken up by all the delicious pictures, so they’re reprinted here with some notes from B.
- 2 cups sifted flour (I used unbleached white all purpose flour)
- 3 tsps baking powder
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
- 2 Tbsps solid coconut oil for glazing
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse a few times until the flour forms pea-sized clumps. Be sure not to over process.
- In a separate cup, stir the vinegar into the milk (this makes the mock buttermilk).
- Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the processor as you pluse, until it starts to form a dough ball — then stop. You’ll have a sticky lump, and not all the ingredients will be combined, but that’s how it should be.
- Dump your dough out onto a floured surface and sprinkle with some more flour.
- Roll the dough into a ball, and use your palms to flatten it to a 3/4″-thick circle.
- Using a biscuit cutter (or a glass) cut out as many biscuits as you can. (With a 3″ biscuit cutter, I made six).
- Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet, and brush with the remaining coconut oil and then bake for 10-ish minutes (until they’re fluffy and golden).
And there you have it, a delicious one-piece meal with slaw and a biscuit, all based solely upon the wonder that is plants.
Anyone got a chip? Or a spoon?
Nothing completes a sunny summer day (or any day ending in ‘y’) like a glorious heap of guacamole perched upon a perfectly crunchy tortilla chip. And if you want to make your green dip of the gods even more summery, I suggest adding in some sweet and tart mango chunks.
Mmm, mango. As much as I heart avocados, I may love my mangos even more. And they love me right back. A close relative of the cashew and pistachio (somehow), mangos are not just packed with a buttload of vitamin A and C, they also help prevent cancer, they’re good for fighting pimples, and bad cholesterol and diabetes. Check it.
Added bonus: the mango juices also seem to help keep the guac from turning that lovely, unappetizing shade of brown it tends toward.
- 3 ripe avocados
- 2 small mangos, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
- 2 Tbsps red onion, diced
- A handful of cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Lime juice, to taste
- Throw away the pits and scoop the flesh of the avocados into a bowl.
- Add about a tablespoon of the lime juice, and smash it up until it’s as smooth as you prefer.
- Carefully stir in your remaining ingredients and taste test. If you like, add in more lime juice.
- Max on your yummy dip and bask in your culinary victory.
Thanks for taking pictures of, and eating, my dip even though avocados make your tongue itch, Miles Pfefferle. You’re the bestest.
Calling all sweet teeth.
What do you do when your man buys a five-pound bag of carrots (because he was on a carrot kick), but is unable to consume them fast enough, thus leaving the produce drawer filled with root vegetables on the verge of ruin?
Have you guys met my boyfriend?
Some less neurotic souls might let the carrots falter and move on with their lives. But not Aunt B. Because throwing away food makes me irrationally miserable.
So, instead, I made and froze a huge vat of carrot soup, which I plan to consume when it’s not surface-of-the-sun hot outside (recipe coming later), shredded multiple bags of carrots for salads, and whipped up way more carrot cake cupcakes than a household of two requires.
This was not only my first vegan carrot cake, but my first carrot cake attempt period, and also my first go at homemade frosting. So I was a little wary. Luckily, I followed two fantastic recipes from Jannequin Bennet’s “The Complete Vegan Kitchen,” a birthday present from my lovely friend Alex (thanks, Al!), and all was well.
Based on the ingredients I had on hand, I had to make a few slight alterations. But the end result was delightful. These little cakes are not only really moist and flavorful — they’re also a yummy, cool treat on a hot day when you eat one right out of the fridge. Plus, making tiny, adorable frosting carrot decorations was super fun.
Not-a-Pro-Tip: Don’t have a piping bag? No problem. Fill up a sandwich bag with icing and cut off one of the corners. Bingo. You are now authorized to ice.
Big ups to my main squeeze, Miles Pfefferle, for taking pics of my food and really liking carrots. Smooch.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes (or two 9-inch round cakes or one 9×13-inch cake)
- 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour (Ms. Bennet calls for soy flour)
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 allspice
- 1 tsp lemon juice (Ms. Bennet uses the zest of one lemon)
- 3 Tbsp apple sauce (or canola oil)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 2 1/2 cups grated carrots (I shredded and the diced mine in a food processor because ain’t nobody got time for grating)
Patty cake, patty cake, baker people…
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray your cupcake pan (or cake pans).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.
- In another bowl, combine the raisins, carrots and liquids, and whisk until the mixture is light and bubbly.
- Combine the two mixtures (dry and wet) in one bowl, and stir until just combined. Be sure not to over mix.
- Spoon the batter evenly into your cupcake wells, and bake for 20 minutes (30 to 40 if you’re making a cake).
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then carefully flip the pan over and dump them out onto a plate to finish cooling.
- Once they’re cool, frost them with the recipe below…
Tofu Walnut Frosting
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbps walnuts
- 1/2 pound tofu, drained
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp shredded coconut
- 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
How to frosting
- Whir the walnuts around in a food processor until they’re a fine powder.
- Add the tofu and blend until combined.
- Add the maple syrup, coconut and vanilla and blend until combined.
- If the frosting seems too thick, add in a little almond or soy milk.
- Let the frosting cool off in the fridge for a few minutes before use.
Note: If you’re frosting two 9-inch round cakes or one 9X13-inch cake, double the amounts above.
Brunch is served!
Allow me to introduce you to what may just become your new favorite way to start the day at noon: hashbrown tartlets and cheesy herb drop biscuits.
Although “tartlet” may hold some dessert-y connotations, versus the obviously eggy “quiche,” I went with it for three reasons:
- It sounds adorable.
- It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, “Friends.” (For those of you who don’t recall, Jon Lovitz guest-starred in an early episode and wore the word out in a very humorous fashion. Video below for your viewing pleasure).
- Whateva whateva. I do what I want.
Remember when Jon Lovitz was Monica’s stoned almost-employer?
Anyhoo, the cool thing about these
crustless mini quiches tartlets is that they’re very customizable. You can throw in any veggies, herbs or faux meats you have sitting around. My favorites so far are the fresh chopped dill and mushrooms version, the veggie sausage, red onions and spinach combo (below) and the green pepper and soyrizo version pictured above. You could also add a little Daiya or Teese for some extra cheesetastic oomph.
Serves six (use six half-cup ramekins or one 9″ pie dish)
- 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 2 large potatoes, shredded
- 1/4 small red onion, diced
- 14 oz. veggie sausage (I used Gimme Lean)
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 Tbsps almond milk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp dried dill (or 1 tsp fresh, chopped)
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley (or 1 tsp fresh, chopped)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp black salt
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your ramekins (or 9″ pie dish).
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Break up the veggie sausage into the skillet, add in the red onions, and cook until the sausage is browned and the onions are soft. Remove from heat.
- To make your eggy casserole base, start by taking the drained tofu for a spin in a blender or food processor until it’s broken up into small crumbles.
- Start slowly pouring the almond milk into the liquid feeder, until the mixture is the consistency of frosting.
- Add in the nutritional yeast, salts, herbs and spices, and pulse a few times until it’s all combined.
- Dump the lot into a large mixing bowl, and add in the sausage and onions, shredded potatoes and spinach.
- Once the mixture is well combined, scoop equal portions into your ramekins and smooth the tops with a spatula.
- Place the ramekins on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes. 45 to 50 if you’re using a pie plate.
- Let the tartlets cool for before serving.
Cheesy Herb Drop Biscuits
- 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup all purpose, unbleached white flour
- 1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup vegan butter, melted (or vegetable oil)
- 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Tbsp dried dill
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Drop it like it’s hot!
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and whisk together.
- Combine the melted butter (or oil) and milk in a separate little bowl, then slowly stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, as your biscuits won’t be as fluffy! Don’t worry, the dough is supposed to be super sticky.
- Space eight little equally sized lumps of dough onto the cookie sheet and bake at 475 for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake for another five minutes (until the biscuits are starting to brown on top).
- That’s it. Eat up!
The One with The Bonus Recipe: Spareparts Breakfast Sammy
The day after your successful brunchapalooza (or later that day), just slice a biscuit in half and top it with a half tarlet popped out of a ramekin. You can also freeze them and heat them up later (thaw then wrap them in foil and bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes).
You want me. You need me.
I love rice, but I don’t have a rice cooker, and making it the old-fashioned way just takes too damn long for this baby of the 80s. I want what I want when I want it, which was 10 seconds ago and why are you so slooooooow?!
Much like this little pony, I want it NOW!
But this dish is lickety split fast. If you have the bouillon and soup mixes on hand, it takes less than 10 minutes to throw together. If you don’t have those at the ready, never fear. Just click the links below for some easy make-it-yourself recipes that will only add about five more minutes to the process. You are welcome.
The other great thing about this meal is that it’s a real refrigerator cleaner. Got some veggies that are getting long in the tooth? Throw ‘em in here. An old sock you’ll never find the mate to? Toss it in — broth makes everything delicious!
I found this recipe on Food.com, courtesy of TheDancingCook. As it was practically perfect already, I only made one change: add some yummy tofu.
Veggieful Oven-Fried Rice
- 2 cups whole grain brown rice
- A buttload of chopped vegetables, your pick (mushrooms, carrots, celery, green peppers, onions, frozen peas, frozen corn, broccoli, onions, etc., etc., etc.)
- 1/2 pound tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes
- 1 packet or preparation of onion soup mix
- 3 tablespoons vegan chicken bouillon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cups boiling water
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (for a soy free dish)
Oven-Fry it Up
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients in a 2-quart casserole dish.
- Bake uncovered for one hour.
Scarf it all down in one sittingLet it cool and serve.
Vegan junk food lives.
As is the case with many recipes, this one was born out of a need to clean my refrigerator. I had some barbecue sauce leftover after making a dish of tofubacue, and an almost-empty bag of Daiya mozzarella shreds that didn’t get used up when I last made Alfredo sauce. What was I to do? Squeeze them into a burger, of course.
The result is a sweet, tangy burger (no cow required) that pairs nicely with a toasted bun or bread and a topping of baby spinach or kale. Added plant-based bonus: black beans are a low-sodium, low-fat source of protein, and they contain bunches of essential minerals, including iron. Get wise to some more rad black bean benefits here.
Plus you can also make a bunch of these and freeze them (uncooked) for postponed munching (like say perhaps at a July 4 shindig, my fellow Americans).
BBQ Mozzarella Black Bean Burger
- 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup vegan mozzarella cheese shreds (I use Daiya), plus a wee bit more for sprinkling
- Rolled oats, or breadcrumbs, as needed (probably 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup)
- 1/4 small to medium onion, finely diced
- 1 Tbsp barbecue sauce
- 4 drops Liquid Smoke
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- A dash of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 4 tsps dried cilantro (or 1/4 cup fresh, minced)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
An uncooked patty awaits its fate.
Ready? Set? Patty!
- Combine your liquid smoke, herbs, spices, cheese shreds, onions and black beans in a large mixing bowl, and smush the lot together until they’re combined, but the beans aren’t completely broken down.
- Add breadcrumbs to the mixture until it’s firm enough (and not too sticky) to shape into three patties.
To cook these little guys, you have two options. You can either go low-oil and bake them, or add a little bit more oil to the equation and fry them. Either way, your last step is to sprinkle a bit more cheese on top for the last couple minutes of cooking. I find they get much crisper when you fry them, but they taste great no matter the method.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper (foil will aid crispiness more so than paper).
- Spray the patties lightly with cooking spray (I use olive oil), and bake for 7 to 10 minutes on each side (be sure to spray them again when you flip), until they’re slightly crunchy on the inside and warmed through.
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.
- Add the patties to the pan and fry them over medium-high heat until their bottoms are browned and crispy (should take about five minutes).
- Flip the patties and cook them for another three to five minutes until they’re crunchy on either side and warmed through.
And what good is a burger without a side of chips or fries? If you muttered “worthless” to your computer monitor, you’d be correct.
Not-Yet-Oven-Fried Potato Chips
Oven-Fried Potato Chips
- 1 large or 2 medium sized potatos
- Oil spray
- Salt and pepper, to taste
How to Chip
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Using a mandolin, food processor, or your own skilled hand, slice your potato into thin chips (pick a thickness you like. I prefer mine to be about 1/16 of a inch thick. Note that skinnier chips will cook faster, so keep an eye on them).
- Place the chips on a baking sheet, spray them lightly with oil, and bake for about 10 minutes on each side, turning half-way through (yes, this part is a beyotch). Keep an eye on them to make sure they’re not burning.
- Transfer the cooked chips to a paper-towel covered plate to cool off for a moment or two before you start chomping away.
Delicious. No cows required.
If you’re responsible for feeding one or more finicky children (or child-like adults), listen up, because these recipes are made for you.
My chili mac casserole and chocolate milk are omnivore requested, tested and approved, and possibly my most kid-friendly recipes to date. Plus, they both have the added benefit of being stupid easy to throw together, whilst harboring zero animal products or gluten. And, oh yeah, they taste fantastic. Amazing, I know. (Full disclosure time: I grabbed the gluten-free pasta off the store shelf on accident. But, you know what, it turned out yummy. So, there you go).
But before I launch into the recipes, allow me to drop some knowledge about one of the star ingredients in both.
When people find out someone in their vicinity no longer eats animal products, one of the most common concerns they feel the
right need to voice is, “but where oh where do you get your calcium?!” (Because it makes complete sense to pipe up with nutrition advice when a fellow human is noshing salads and tofu, but when they watch you scarf down McGarbage on your way to a triple by-pass at 30, your diet is totally none of their business…) “Never fear,” I tell these folks, “well-rounded plant-based diets contain plenty of calcium. And one of my favorite sources is almond milk.”
It’s creamy, can be used exactly like you’d use cow’s milk in any recipe, and is devoid of lactose (an enemy of many tummies), growth hormones, cholesterol, and sneakily hidden sweeteners. Plus, unlike cow’s milk, almond milk is a rich source of magnesium and vitamin E, as well as selenium, and manganese. And calcium-fortified, unsweetened almond milk has 50 percent more calcium per serving than regular cow’s milk — yet only 30 calories per serving, compared to 90 calories in skim cow’s milk and 150 calories in fat cow’s milk.
Now, some of you might be wondering why I didn’t just drop a blob of Hershey’s chocolate syrup into my milk and call it a day. Because I think high fructose corn syrup is the devil’s sweetener, that’s why.
So let’s all calm down, eat some calcium-rich casserole, and wash it down with a nice, frothy glass of calci-yummy, better-than-moosual chocolate milk.
Chili Mac Casserole
Mmm. I wish I could embed scents. You’re missing out.
- 2 cans vegan chili (I used Amy’s, medium-level spice. But if you’re less lazy than me, you can use about three cups of your homemade chili)
- 3 cups spinach, chopped (you could use kale here, too)
- 8 oz. pasta (I used gluten-free penne, but really, whatever floats your boat will work)
- 1 batch of Aunt B’s Cheese Sauce (recipe here)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumb topping (optional)
‘Role it Up
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Follow the package instructions to cook your pasta (gluten-free pasta usually has a shorter cook time).
- While your pasta is cooking, mix up all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender or food processor.
- Dump your drained pasta back in the pot and pour in the cheese sauce, chili, and spinach, and stir until combined.
- Pour the whole mixture into a lightly greased (I used olive oil spray) casserole dish.
- If you like, top with breadcrumbs for an added crunch factor.
- Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
- If you can drum up enough patience, allow the casserole to cool a bit before serving. Or let the kids burn their tongues out of their skulls. That’ll teach ‘em!
Non-Dairy Chocolate Milk
- 2 Tbsps organic, pure maple syrup
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 4 drops vanilla
- 2 heaping tsps pure cocoa powder
Simply blend all the ingredients together and chill in the fridge. If you don’t have a blender of food processor, you can use it whisk, but it might take a while.