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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 13: I Want to Help People Eat More Plants

For a while now, I’ve fiddled with the notion of offering my time and energy–for money, of course–to help people go vegan or at least incorporate more vegan food in their diet. Some people are intimidated by cooking; others by vegetable prep. Some simply don’t know where to begin or how to put the pieces together. I’m no dietitian or experienced chef, but I have been cooking since I was a kid, and I spend time every single day thinking about, making, and eating food. I love helping people, and some of my friends already ask me for cooking advice. Why not expand on that and see if it’s a way to make some cash?

Well, I’m not there yet. Though I did start a (free) mailing list/newsletter where I field cooking questions. It’s small for now. If you’re interested, I’d love to have you in the audience. Subscribe at Eat More Plants @ tinyletter.com.

For the purposes of today’s prompt, however, I took a slightly different tack on the “eat more plants” business model and created a meal kit out of one of my go-to meals. Now, I’ve never actually gotten a meal kit–what’s the fun in that? Menu-planning and grocery shopping are basically my hobbies–but I can make up a recipe card. Why not? It’s an excuse to do a bunch of weird photo-editing and layout work, both of which I’m EXTREMELY RUSTY at. (And by “rusty,” I mean it was something I fiddled with in high school, which was almost 20 years ago. Some things have changed.)

Since I can’t actually make you a meal kit, I gotta tell you what to get so you can follow the instructions!

You will need:

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • salt
  • 1 package of tofu
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • tahini
  • hot sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • nutritional yeast
  • water

Tools:

  • Saucepan with lid or rice cooker
  • Saute pan or skillet with lid
  • Baking dish
  • Citrus reamer (or another way to strain out lemon seeds)
  • Dressing shaker or a cup/small bowl and a whisk
  • Measuring cups
  • Spatula
  • Spoon or rice paddle
  • Tongs
  • Knife
  • Microplane zester or garlic press (optional, but very handy)

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 3: I Read an Article About Protein-Packed Vegan Foods So You Don’t Have to (But You Probably Will Anyway If That’s Your Thing)

A.K.A. I Am Not A Nutritionist, But I Know How to Google

Listen, if you’re here, you probably already know that getting your protein as a vegan, like, ain’t a problem. That shit’s in everything. It’s B12 you gotta look out for, but let’s not get into that. But I went ahead and looked up some allegedly high-protein ingredients and picked a few to invent a meal out of. It’s like Chopped! But without the egos and arbitrary time limits and referring to dead animal parts as “proteins” (noun)!

  • Tofu – 10g protein / ½ cup
  • Quinoa – 4g protein / ½ cup
  • Spinach – 5g protein / 1 cup cooked
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – 6g protein / 1 cup
  • Lentils – 18g protein / cup
  • Pepitas – 9g protein / 1 oz.

From this, I propose: Baked tofu with a sun-dried tomato and pepita pesto, garlicky sauteed spinach, and a quinoa-lentil pilaf. Oooh. That sounds pretty good. Pantry ingredients include: garlic, onion, lemon, parsley, olive oil. I WILL NOT BE UNDERSEASONED. DON’T BORE NINA. (Wait. That last one is a different show.)

image

Pesto: Throw all of this in a food processor and make a paste.

  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, patted dry
  • ⅔ cup pepitas, toasted
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Small handful of parsley, torn
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

Smear half the pesto in the bottom of a baking dish, spray with olive oil, add tofu slices to fit, then spray with more olive oil and cover with the rest of the pesto. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes on each side (I used my toaster oven).

Pilaf: Saute the onion in olive oil, add bouillon, then add washed lentils and quinoa until a bit toasty. Transfer to multicooker, add 3 cups of water, and cook for about an hour. (I used the brown rice setting on my VitaClay.)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • ~1 Tbsp. vegetable bouillon
  • ¾ cup French green lentils
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Spinach: Wilt spinach in a big pan with a little olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and minced or microplaned garlic to your heart’s content. Splash with a good vinegar of your choosing. Serve.

  • 2 bags baby spinach (12 oz. total)
  • At least 4 cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
  • Olive oil, salt, and your favorite vinegar (I used balsamic)

The result is not the most photogenic dish I’ve made, but it’s pretty tasty. It could use a sauce, though. Why didn’t I make my usual tahini sauce?!

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Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 1: Enter the Bowl

I have a hard time playing favorites. Favorite band? Favorite TV show? Favorite movie? Don’t make me choose, But food is the hardest of all. Indian food? Tacos? Thai? Vietnamese? Korean? Ethiopian? Falafel? Artisanal, creative, farm-to-table masterpieces? Bread and (cashew) cheese? Almost anything with sugar? I mean. I love food, period. Making it, eating it, thinking about it, talking about it, shopping for it, reading about it.

But if I have to choose, I choose a choice that’s trying to have it both ways–well, several ways: California-style health food. It’s a goddamn catch-all for anything involving kale, quinoa, and tofu that takes inspiration or steals liberally from all of the above. It’s my true north of home cooking. And what’s more health-foody right now than the almighty bowl? This bowl has everything: Rainbow quinoa. Braised greens and purple cabbage. Baked tofu. Roasted squash. Tahini-lemon sauce with plenty of garlic. I eat this ALL THE TIME. I will try to avoid repeating myself this month…

For the purpose of making a prettier picture, I tweaked the process a little bit. It’s usually a bit simpler.

The quinoa is just quinoa. I cook it in a VitaClay multicooker, which I love. It turns out perfect without any effort. Done.

I usually start the tofu right after I get the quinoa going because I like to bake it for 20 minutes on each side. It’s coated simply and gently in a little olive oil and soy sauce. This gives it a nice, brown, chewy skin. Typically I just cut it into four slices, which fit in a little glass baking dish in my toaster oven, so no pre-heating and easy timing, but today I cubed it and baked it in the oven since I was also cooking some squash. Cubing it, cook time was reduced to about 15 minutes on each side.

Squash isn’t a STANDARD part of this for me, but I’ll use it when I have it. Today I had the top half of a butternut squash, and for funsies, I chopped it at strange angles so it’d have interesting facets. It got a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and roasted for about 20 minutes.

Next I started on the greens. The most basic iteration of this dish is just wilted chopped kale; today I had half a red onion leftover from breakfast, a bunch of collard greens, and some nice purple cabbage, so I threw ‘em all in. The onions were thinly sliced then sauteed in olive oil, then I added a pinch of salt and a generous pour of low-sodium vegetable stock and brought it to a boil before adding the greens. I ended up having to add a little bit more broth to get it cooking (pan was pretty crowded), and also threw in a couple cloves of microplaned garlic for good measure.

Finally, the tahini sauce. I did not diverge from my usual, go-to, reliable recipe one bit: ~¼ cup of tahini (I use the Whole Foods store brand, which pours easily and doesn’t get thick and chalky if you stir it well), a few drops of our favorite hot sauce, one microplaned clove of garlic, juice of one lemon, ~2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, and water as needed. I add all this directly to an OXO dressing shaker and give it several good swings and it’s done.

The black sesame seeds I added just for looks. When you drizzle a beige sauce on your bowl, you kinda lose the colorful veggies, after all.

Happy MoFo!

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Food Blog

Taste the Rainbowl

Ha, ha, ha.

We have here some tri-color quinoa first. Next, a vegetable stir fry with spring onions, mushrooms, green garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, oregano, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, diced fresh tomatoes, a can of black beans, and lime juice. Then, avocado, naturally, and shredded purple cabbage. The final touch: toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Food Blog

Blackened tofu, braised kale in tangy tomato sauce, and coconut quinoa

The tofu is is based on a recipe from Vegan Soul Kitchen–basically, dredged in olive oil, rubbed with spices, and pan-fried (in coconut oil, in my case). To go with, I cooked up some quinoa in the clay cooker, but took the extra step of sauteeing a shallot, bay leaf, and pinch of turmeric in coconut oil, then toasting the dry quinoa with it before adding water. It turned out nice and fluffy and gently flavored. Finally, I made a quick sauce to cook the kale in: half a big white onion, sliced into thin quarter moons, sauteed before adding a dash (maybe ¼ cup?) tomato puree, vegetable broth, apple cider vinegar, a tiny splash of liquid smoke, and two cloves of garlic (microplaned to oblivion, natch). I added some diced tomato to my plate just to jazz it up.

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Food Blog

Tabbouli with warm quinoa, steamed kale, and crumbled almond cheese with aromatic pan fried winter squash and baked tofu

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Food Blog

Baked tofu with balsamic vinegar and green garlic, roasted rainbow carrots with thyme and asparagus, lemon parsley dressing, kale salad, and quinoa

The sauce was a riff on the creamy-cilantro lime dressing from Salad Samurai: lemon instead of lime, parsley instead of cilantro, and fresh spring onion instead of powder. The rest of the recipe includes cashews, a little light miso, garlic, and pepper, just add water and throw in the VitaMix.

Baking tofu in a mix of olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, green garlic, and fresh thyme sprigs is a pretty good base. The same ingredients – sub salt for the soy sauce – makes for good roasted carrots. Kept the asparagus simple with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.