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Tofu Scramble

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Life is a lot like tofu… it is what you make it!!!

Mmmm I just love tofu. I love it fried, baked, sautéed… in sandwiches, as spreads, as a side or as a main course. When it comes to cooking tofu, there are literally so many ways to cook it since it basically takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with, the possibilities are endless. It is an incredible source of protein & is incredibly easy to use in the kitchen. (Plus, no need to worry about salmonella!)

Most of the time, when people say they don’t like tofu, I find it is basically because they had no idea what to do with it or how to cook it and they ended up with something… wierd. Here’s my advice: Start simple. Try a few recipes and you will come to love this versatile protein! A few of my favorites using “regular tofu”  are sesame sweet tofu, golden tofu, & v’egg salad. (When I say regular tofu I just mean not silken tofu -you can find “regular tofu” in the refrigerated part of the healthy foods section of your grocery store –  I almost always use extra -firm or firm tofu unless a recipe calls otherwise.)

Now… onto breakfast & scrambles! My kids & I really love Fantastic Foods Tofu Scramble mix. They will eat it for any meal, any day of the week. It is a great addition to any pantry for a super quick breakfast that requires no thinking. However, I love to occasionally cook my own tofu scramble, but as you will find, flavor can vary greatly depending, which is hit or miss if you have kids. Unfortunately, my kids aren’t much like “Mikey”. (You remember -” Mikey will eat anything!” Sorry Life Cereal, but that’s not really a good marketing slogan! Its like Checker’s “You gotta eat”… you know, since you have to eat something, eat this! lol!)

The fun thing about making a homemade tofu scramble, is that you can go Indian (curry), southwestern (add salsa, hot sauce, peppers), Italian (add pesto and olives)… its all up to your mood! What mood are you in?

Usually when I make a scramble I just add some of this and some of that until it turns out just the way I want it. I don’t really have a recipe with measurements figured out. This morning, I wanted that to change, so we decided to have ourselves a little homemade tofu scramble taste test – I basically wanted to try two different scramble bases, to find one the kids liked best so that we could build on and add veggies to…  Today we used a curry-based recipe from the book ‘Vegan Brunch’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The other was a quick one I threw together (with similar flavors in our favorite fried tofu) using sesame oil, soy sauce & nutritional yeast.

I started out by sauting some onion and garlic in some olive oil. Then I added the tofu, crumbled into big chunks. Once it browned a little, I split the mixture into two pans and  seasoned them separately.

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This is only ONE block of tofu, divided equally, the top is the curry blend.

Results: My son LOVED the curry based tofu, which was a total surprise! I thought maybe it would be too heavily flavored for the kids. I actually preferred the sesame/soy one. My daughter was a little pickier about her tofu this morning… she tends to prefer my “old fashioned” scramble – this is when I just go for broke into my spice cabinet, adding dry herbs (dashes of basil, oregano, thyme), heavy on the dry mustard, dashes of soy sauce, nutritional yeast (and that onion/garlic mixture – shhh! don’t tell her!)… see what I mean about no measurements? 😉 Anyway, Id love to hear which one YOU like the best!

The recipes below are for a full portion (using 1 full block of tofu each).

Basic Scramble #1, Curry-Style, compliments of ‘Vegan Brunch’

F0r the spice blend:

  • 2 tps ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tablespoons water

For the tofu:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb tofu, extra firm, drained
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1) Mix the spices together in a small cup. Add the water. Set aside.

2) Preheat a large pan, sauté the garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Break the tofu apart into bite sized pieces and sauté about 10 minutes, until it starts to brown. (Keep it moist by adding a splash of water occasionally if necessary.)

3) Add the spice blend mix and incorporate. Add the nutritional yeast and cook about 5 more min. Serve warm.  (Feel free to add other veggies or make alterations – there are a bunch of great variations/add-ins in the book!)

Basic Scramble #2 – Super Simple Sesame & Soy Sauce

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp soysauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 block tofu, extra firm, drained
  • nutritional yeast (a couple tablespoons)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small-medium onion, chopped to your liking (minced or crescents)
  • 3-4 cloves of minced garlic

1) Saute a small/medium onion (I like mine minced so my kids wont know they are eating it!) and 3-4 cloves of garlic (minced) in a little olive oil. Cook about 5 minutes until onion turns translucent. Set aside.

2) Heat 1 Tbsp or so toasted sesame oil in a pan over medium heat until hot. Add the tofu and cook until tofu starts to brown lightly.

3) Add 2 Tbsp soy sauce and mix gently, trying not to turn all your chunks into crumbles. Sprinkle generously with nutritional yeast, sauté about 5 more minutes before serving.  You can drizzle a little more sesame oil over the top if you so desire.

Again, feel free to add veggies or anything you’d like! Toasted sesame seeds, some leafy greens like kale, even some minced ginger. Get creative and then… DEVOUR!!  

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Looks like we needed TWO protein sections this morning! 🙂

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

“WHAAAAAAAT?!” I cant help but laugh every time i think about Ralphie’s friends mother, from the Christmas Story, in that scene on the phone, where Ralphie’s mom called the mother of his friend – the one who had supposedly taught Ralphie the dreaded “f” word.  Well, that’s exactly how I feel whenever I think about Thanksgiving being tomorrow and Christmas fast closing in! WHAAAAAAT?!?!?!

Man, I have been so busy recuperating from being sick the last 2 weeks and taking care of my kids (who were also sick) & working that I haven’t really had time to do much else.  We all caught an awful respiratory/sinus infection. Oh I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It took days to get better!! I had to skip work for 3 days, which is a big deal this time of year in retail! Now I remember why I had the rule to always eat a raw clove of garlic every day! It works! Do it!

I have been looking forward to this Thanksgiving since last Thanksgiving. I just love watching my family devour delicious vegan food. My super-mom takes on the task of making food for all 20 of us – the majority of which are vegan and gluten-free (the dishes, not the folks)- which is no easy feat. Thanks momma!

When we gather as a large group, we have all kinds of eaters, including those of meat. SO, yes, I usually do have to sit at the table with a turkey, or sometimes 2 😦  I would love it to not have a turkey at the table, but I feel that Thanksgiving isn’t about judging each other or giving each other a hard time, nor is it the time to “lecture” one about eating meat, which only turns those people I am trying to reach farther away. The secret is this: I find that if you bring delicious vegan food to the table, it will impress even the most devout meat eaters and bring the vegan way to light in a positive way rather than a negative one. No one likes a preachy vegan and I try my damndest to not be one, no matter how passionate I am (and believe me, I am VERY passionate about veganism!).

In my opinion, with a table full of delicious sides to choose from, a centerpiece dish (such as a turkey or tofurkey) is not even necessary!   Vegetable dishes are probably the easiest things to make vegan. I’ll take a great veggie plate ANY day!! And there are so many different ways to cook vegetables! You can readily replace butter with soy margarine, milk with soymilk, etc.in most recipes. You can find many traditional dishes that are vegan “on accident!”

I also find that if you just serve food without making a huge fuss about it being vegan, more people try it. In fact, sometimes I think it is best if you don’t say anything about it being vegan. Then, after your guests are complimenting the terrific food, saying it is absolutely the best whatever-it-was that they ever had, THAT is the time to say “Yeah, it IS awesome huh?! And guess what… its 100% VEGAN!” I have literally seen eyes pop out of heads with that method.

Despite being sick, I had some terrifically awesome news this week. I was invited to show my art at a popular restaurant that is opening a new location on Friday… Viva Argentina. I am so excited because I have been wanting to display my art for several years, and just haven’t found the time. Well, somehow, in the last 3 days, I have found time to make this happen! Needless to say, I have been running around like a Tasmanian devil ever since I was propositioned… working, framing, matting, and figuring things out! My blog kinda got put on the back-burner for the last 3 weeks due to these factors, which is a SHAME since Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow.  So, the least I could do was to share a few amazing links with you all!

This one is Buzzfeeds 2013 Thanksgiving recipe compilation. It is full of great stuff!  Also, Buzzfeeds 2012 list  has even more great selections!!  Don’t forget to scroll through my vegetable & holiday dishes! I make a mean pumpkin pie (without even using tofu!), and my cauliflower-mashed potatoes, butternut squash  soup and agave glazed carrots are also good choices for holiday dining!

No matter what you are faced with this Thanksgiving, try to do one thing: remember to be grateful for the family you have, regardless of their food choices. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that being respectful (even if you don’t agree) brings people together and  makes more open minds than closed ones. Some people are very defense about their right to eat meat. Some people will have a million and one reasons to argue with you. Don’t do it!! The best way to win an argument about veganism is to simply bring it to the table – the food, not the debate! In fact, I just found this awesome article about just that & other concerns you may have on the Vegetarian Institutes Site.

Now go rest up and have yourself a holiday chocolate peppermint martini!!  Christmas is only 28 days away!!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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VOTE FOR YOUR VEGAN NEIGHBOR!!

I hope you all have been enjoying reading about my family’s vegan lifestyle on my blog. I’d love to make it into “The Top 25 Vegan & Vegetarian Mom Blogs” this year! Please help me achieve that goal! Just click the button above – That’s it! No signing up required!  PLEASE NOTE:  you can vote once every 24 hours through February 7th!

UPDATE: So, I think I finished at #27 or 28 this year… I’ll make it next year! I have really enjoyed sharing meals and my tidbits about my life with you all and I hope to see the number of my followers continue to grow! Hopefully just being on the list brought more viewers to my blog… and towards a kinder diet. Afterall, the whole point of my blog is to encourage you to bring more vegetables (& less or no meat) into your life!

Happy Vegan Cinco de Mayo

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo which means most of you are probably getting together for a good time in one way or another.  We like to have a vegan taco night at our house once a week or so… it’s one of our favorite (& easiest) dinners!   My kids are extremely fond of dipping chips into refried beans and guacamole.  They could literally make a meal of that if I let them! Their favorite tacos are simple soft-shelled tacos with beans &  lettuce with a mild sauce, or burritos with the same filling.  I usually like throwing a few more veggies (like olives green pepper & onions) & rice into my burritos… and sometimes tofu!

Most store-bought guacamole and tortilla chips are vegan – just read the ingredients!  I prefer to buy organic when possible.

This meal is a good example of something quick (and mostly store-bought) that you can easily throw together. It can be made start to finish in under 20 minutes. If you have extra time, it is nice to make beans & rice or some kind of  pan-fried tofu cubes to add some home-made quality to this meal. If you are lucky, you can go outside and pluck many of these ingredients from your own garden (like lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper and cilantro) or get them from your local farmers market.

Making tacos is such a deliciously easy way celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I think most of these brands should be easily found in your grocery store, some (or all) items maybe found in the “healthy” section. 

If you can find this stuff, you will quickly be in vegan taco heaven!

My favorite taco shells are made by Bearitos.  They have blue or yellow corn taco shells. We also use their vegetarian refried beans.  The low-fat and the fat-free are both great!   Fantastic Foods makes a “taco filling” that I absolutely love – It comes in a box and you simply mix it with water. Easy and yummy!

And who can eat tacos without sour cream? Not me! I like Tofutti brand the best. 

Best store-bought vegan sour cream ever!

If you are a lover of cheese… shredded Vegan Gourmet cheddar or Daiya cheddar are both good for this occasion.

And of coarse, on taco night, frozen margaritas are always a welcome addition to the table! And to keep the kids from feeling left out, you can easily freeze some lemonade in ice-cube trays and blend it up for their very own slushy!

We just had taco night a few nights ago but we are ready to eat it all over again tomorrow! Yum!

Here is the spread from our last taco night fiesta!

Vegan ground beef, refried beans & rice… the base of an excellent taco or burrito.

Oh yeeeaaahhh….

To be or Not to Be… Vegan

Ever wonder why or how someone came to choose a vegan lifestyle? Check out my personal story at To Be Or Not To Be… Vegan

Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits

Some days, we all need something we love to give us some comfort or to give us relaxation. Maybe for you its wrapping up in your favorite super snuggly blanket and watching a movie… maybe it’s something warm, like a really great cup of coffee or tea… or maybe it’s reading a good book with a glass of wine.  With all the hurry and running around that life throws at us on a daily basis, we all need to feel taken care of sometimes (yes, all of us, whether or not we want to admit it).  One thing that does it for me is eating some good-old comfort food.

We all have our list of favorite comfort foods, and one of mine is (simply)… biscuits. I love biscuits because they are so versatile. You can make a breakfast biscuit by layering it with veggie cheese and “soysage” or fakin’ bacon.  You can stuff it with tofu scramble. You can serve it up with gravy.  You can serve it up with some grits & tempeh, or you can just eat it all by itself with some jam.   A good biscuit can multi-task as well as some of us parents 😉

These biscuits are my current favorites.  Sometimes I add garlic, veggie cheese and oregano to the batter when I know I will be eating them with tempeh, soysage or making a tofu scramble.  Other times I like to leave that stuff out so I can spread them with my favorite jelly.  Busy morning?… Heat up some tofu-chicken (I suggest Gardein vegan chicken tenders) for a yummy quick faux chicken-breakfast-biscuit (cheese optional) that you can eat on the run (even in the car). The biscuit-ilities are endless!

~Old-School Vegan Buttermilk Biscuits~

  • 1  1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • heaping 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1  3/4 tsp sugar (omit if making the garlic & cheese biscuits)
  • > 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 2 Tbsp soy margarine, chilled and chopped into bits
  • > 3/4 cup soymilk
  • < 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

If making garlic & cheese biscuits, add to dry ingredients:

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • (set aside to add in last) 1/2 cup vegan cheddar cheese, chopped (I prefer follow your heart vegan gourmet cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Cut in the shortening and margarine with a fork until the mixture resembles crumbs.

Whisk together the soymilk & lemon juice (this makes “buttermilk”).  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Next, add the vinegar.  Form a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the liquids. Gently fold together – don’t overmix! (At this point, add cheese if using.)

With floured hands, consolidate the dough into a ball (if it feels too sticky, give it a light dusting of flour) and move the dough ball onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle dough lightly with flour and flatten gently into a big round circle until about 1/2″ – 2/3″ thick.  Use the rim of a glass or a biscuit cutter and make 9-12 biscuits, depending on how thick you have them.  (I usually shoot for 9 biscuits that are about 2″across.)  Place them in the center of a baking sheet with the sides just touching.  Bake 12 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown. If desired, you can brown the tops lightly under the broiler.

Garlic-Cheddar Biscuits with Grits & Tempeh Bacon... this dish should be called "the southern delight!"

( I included these biscuits in the category “childs play” because my little girl LOVES to help stamp out the biscuits with a round cookie cutter!)

Today's Tempeh & Grits made a "flower"... sometimes we eat the "tempeh graveyard" - that's when we put vertical tempeh pieces in the grits like gravestones... Aww man, maybe I should have shared that idea before Halloween! Oh well!

Butternut Squash Soup

Lately time has been passing by so quickly.  I really can’t believe that Halloween is almost here and then we will be heading towards Thanksgiving… & then Christmas!! Well, I’m glad the holidays are coming up.  I am definitely the kind of person that actually enjoys being with family for the holidays.  In that sense, the holidays can’t come fast enough. Speaking of holiday gatherings, I made this soup at my family’s last Thanksgiving feast. Need I say, it was a huge hit.  I think this soup is perfect for holiday gatherings.  The kids loved it, it is easy and can be made rather quickly. If you have a emulsion blender (the stick-like blender you “stir” with, if you will) it is even faster to make this as you wont have to dirty up your food processor to purée.  One thing you surely won’t have to wash are the serving bowls – they will be licked clean!

~Butternut Squash Soup~

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • olive oil (2-3 Tbsp)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups soymilk
  • 2-3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour

First, cut the butternut squash in half, de-seed it & lay it flat side down on a baking sheet (I usually cover the baking sheet with tin foil and lightly oil it first).  Roast at 400 F for 50-60 minutes until soft. Once it is done, remove the squash from the oven and let it cool while you assemble the rest of the soup.

Saute the onion in 2-3 Tbsp oil in a large stockpot & set aside.  Add the broth to the stockpot.  (NOTE * If you do not have an emulsion blender, you will want to puree the sautéed onion first in the food processor with about 1-2 cups of broth.) Next, add all the other ingredients (except the squash) to the stockpot.

When the butternut squash is cool enough,  scoop the yummy out of the shell. If you are using a food processor, puree the squash before adding it to the stockpot.  If you are using an emulsion blender, just plop the butternut squash into the stockpot, & puree away.  Heat until ready to serve & ENJOY!

Mmmmm... I think I can hear it calling me!

This soup is gluten-free and can be made soy-free as well if you use a different non-dairy milk, such as almond milk. Honestly, I haven’t ever tried it that way, but I’m sure it would be just as delicious! Oh – I almost forgot to tell you – this soup freezes well… and yes, I suppose I have ‘a thing’ for orange soup! 🙂