August 25, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
I’m back after a two-week hiatus! It’s been a crazy time for me: BACK TO SCHOOL!
For teachers, back to school week can be a whirlwind of never-ending to do lists that never seem to get finished, questions without answers, and yawn-induced trainings/meetings.
It’s not all bad, though. It’s also an exciting time to get creative, get organized, and start anew!
Speaking of starting anew, I am in need of fresh, cutting-edge lunch ideas. Canned soup and PB&J’s should NOT be on my lunch menu everyday this school year. Being vegan means I mostly take leftovers from the night before, but sometimes, no leftovers are to be had. I need an easy lunch that is nutritious, will fill me up, and most importantly, can be made in a snap.
I decided to remake a restaurant favorite: Coconut Curry Wrap.
Matt, my gluten-free boyfriend, and I both indulged in this flavor-packed wrap! His wrap contained egg, so I enjoyed a spinach wrap. This wrap can be enjoyed hot or cold, which is perfect for a great lunch for work.
Coconut Curry Wrap
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Yield: 2 wraps
- wrap (Goodbye Gluten! wraps are a yummy GF option, however, not vegan)
- about 10oz of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 handful of leafy greens
- 1/2 cup Veganaise
- 1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened coconut shreds
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
STEP 1: Cut up your tofu into cubes.
I cooked my tofu cubes on a tabletop George Foreman grill. I sprayed the grill with olive oil and cooked the cubes for about 8 minutes, flipping the cubes occasionally.
Since my George Foreman acts like a giant panini press, it helped drain out some of the inner tofu juices while cooking. If you plan on pan-frying your tofu, I suggest lightly pressing your tofu with a paper towel before cooking in order to infuse it with olive oil instead.
STEP 2: While your tofu snaps, crackles, and pops, combine your glorious creamy mixture of Veganaise, a garlic clove, coconut shreds, curry powder, agave nectar, and salt. When the tofu is finished grilling, add it to your Veganaise bowl and mix it all together. Set aside.
STEP 3: Cut up your celery, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
STEP 4: Begin to build your tasty creation! Lay out your wrap and add your tofu, celery, walnuts, and cranberries, while topping it all of with your leafy greens. (I topped mine with kale, my personal favorite.)
Wrap it all up tightly and cut in half so you can enjoy the satisfying visual of the inner contents!
August 6, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Oh, the mushroom. So juicy, so versatile, and so delicious.
And yet, so easy to mess up when it comes to something like a sandwich/burger.
You don’t want it too juicy, as it will turn your bread into undesirable mush. You don’t want to undercook it, as it has a dry texture and a lack of succulent flavor. Not to mention that portobellos have a habit of breaking, which can just ruin the presentation. (Don’t laugh… It’s important to me!)
Portobello mushrooms make a great meat substitute for sandwiches. They’re filling, luscious, and omit such a wonderful, one-of-a-kind flavor! I was determined to make the perfect portobello sandwich, but first, I had to think of the best way to cook those problematic portobellos.
And then, it hit me: I have a George Foreman grill! It sits out on my back porch and it’s a hassle to clean, so it barely gets any love. However, I knew that the grill would be the ultimate solution to my over-juicy mushroom problem.
OOOOH, a solution indeed. This sandwich is fantastic.
This sandwich is hearty, succulent, and tangy. It’s stacked high with flavors that complement each other beautifully. The mushrooms have just the right amount of juice & flavor without doing unpleasant things to the bread. It’s like a burger with class. It’s the perfect thing to pack for lunch, or could be a delightful addition to a vegan barbeque.
Portobello Sandwich with Spicy Garlic Mayo
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5-7 minutes
Yield: 1 sandwich
- 2 slices of hearty bread (GF people, I’d recommend an Udi’s bagel)
- 4-5 portobello slices (or 1 portobello mushroom, sliced)
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup alfafa sprouts
- 1/4 spinach
- 2 Dill pickle slices
- 1 tbs olive oil
- salt/pepper to taste
- mustard (optional)
Spicy Garlic Mayo Ingredients:
- 2 tbs Veganaise
- 2 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 garlic clove, miced
- 1/2 tsp salt
STEP 1: Begin by heating up your grill to a medium high heat. On my grill, I put my setting on 4, with 5 being the highest setting. Basically, you want to hear your mushrooms sizzle.
Drizzle your portobellos with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After that, throw them on the grill. After 5 minutes, flip them over and let them cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
STEP 2: While the ‘bellas are sizzling away, start cutting up your veggies and creating your mayonnaise by mixing the mayo ingredients in a small bowl. I was surprised at how simple it was to make the mayo fit the desired taste I was looking for! Go me!
Take out the bread, spread on the mayo, and… ohp! The mushrooms are ready!
STEP 3: Gather your mushrooms and start building your masterpiece! The order of your stack can be the crucial difference between a firm sandwich and a jumbled mess, so choose your order wisely.
I started off with a spinach base with the mushrooms on top. (In hindsight, the tomato would’ve fit nicely underneath the portobellos, but that’s up to you to decide.)
Next, I went with the avocado, followed by the tomatoes and onion. I only had grape tomatoes on-hand, which made things a bit more topple-y than I wanted, but whatever. Tomato, tomata.
Finally, I added the alfalfa sprouts and topped it with the sliced pickle. NO REGRETS WHATSOEVER.
I added mustard on the top slice before completing the sandwich, but it’s optional. The sandwich is still amazing without it.
And voila! In 3 easy steps, you’ve got yourself a lovely gourmet sandwich.
August 1, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Orlando has an, uh, unique farmer’s market scene. It seems that the produce stands at Orlando farmer’s markets sell products that aren’t even cultivated in Florida. Huh? Needless to say, I do not support these phony farmers.
Luckily, there was local farmer’s market in our Mississippi town that we were excited to visit. It wasn’t a large one, but there were several produce stands that would fulfill our daily/weekly nutritional needs, amongst other things.
We purchased blueberries from a woman whose teeth implied that she had been dabbling with methamphetamines for quite some time. We also purchased some delicious jams that I’m determined to duplicate when they run out. We also couldn’t resist buying a watermelon the size of both of our heads, along with a small box full of juicy peaches. Mmmmm!
There’s always a small wish I make to myself when I go to a place like this: “Pleeeeease let there be a vegan and/or gluten-free stand!” At the very end of the lot, sure enough, there was a small, discreet stand with an elementary sign that read Gluten-Free Cakes. It was so unnoticeable that Matt walked right by. I pulled him back and said, “What are you doing?! LOOK!”
Long story short, Matt tried a banana cake with cream cheese frosting that he HAD to buy after 1 bite. During his heavenly bite, his eyes rolled back, he started nodded his head, and then looked at me with urgency in his eyes. So now, there’s a massive $35 cake in our fridge. It was quite a splurge, but worth it; how often does this boy get to buy a delicious treat like this? J
Unfortunately, it contained eggs and cream cheese, so I didn’t partake. I was determined to make this cake myself, though, and to veganize it. Here was my best shot at it.
Oh, and it was a damn good shot.
Gluten-Free Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30-60 minutes
Yield: 72 mini cupcakes
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 1/4 teff flour
- 1/4 millet flour
- 1/4 potato starch
- 1/4 tapioca flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- chopped walnuts, optional
- 7 ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice
- 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup Sweet Cinnamon Earth Balance
- Powdered sugar
STEP 1: I used 7 ripe bananas for this recipe. The browner, the better. In fact, you want them NAST. I wish my bananas had been more ripe, but it takes too much patience! Peel them, place them in a bowl, and squish them between your fingers until it’s a liquid form.
After that, place the rest of the wet ingredients in the bowl and whisk it up.
STEP 2: In a different bowl, combine and whisk your dry ingredients together. After that, slowly add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl, continuing to mix until all of the ingredients are fully blended.
STEP 3: I just bought an adorable mini heart-shaped silicone cupcake mold! Place these in the oven at 350°F for 15-17 minutes.
STEP 4: While the cupcakes are baking, start whipping your icing. In Tallahassee, I found this AMAZING Sweet Cinnamon Earth Balance butter, perfect for baking! If this gem is not in your town, I’d use the original Earth Balance and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Mix the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl. Using a mixer, add a little bit of powdered sugar at a time until you have reached your desired taste.
STEP 6: Wait until the cupcakes cool, frost those babies, top with a walnut, and enjoy!