July 3, 2015 By This Vegan Girl
I used to think that spring rolls were too intricate for an amateur cook like me to make. It turns out that assumption was false; spring rolls are actually a fancy imposter. A spiffy poser, if you will. A sophisticated con artist.
Despite what the spring roll’s bright colors and flawless presentation lead you to believe, spring rolls are incredibly easy to make. You can assemble 8 spring rolls in about 20 minutes from start to finish if you’re working alone. Although rice paper isn’t raw, the veggies inside will be, making this a mostly raw delight.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 spring rolls
- a package of rice paper / spring roll paper (found in the International aisle or Asian section of your grocery store)
- nori sheets (found in the International aisle or sushi-wrapping section of your grocery store)
- 1/2 large cucumber, cut into strips
- 2 carrots, skinned and cut into strips
- 1-2 hass avocados, cut into strips
- 5-10 green onions, cut in half to shorten length
- one bunch of sprouts or frisée
- 8 romaine lettuce or cabbage leaves, cutting out thick ribs
- vegan cream cheese (optional)
- sesame seeds (as garnish)
- 6 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Wasabi powder
Step 1: Prepare the veggies.
For the nori flakes, I take a package of nori sheets, put it in a blender/food processor, and blend until the nori is milled. These flakes make a great seasoning!
Cut your cucumbers, carrots, and avocados into 3-4 inch (7-10 cm) strips. The green onions can stay intact. Cut out the thick ribs from the lettuce; if you leave them in, your roll might look like it has weird bones sticking out of the sides, making it harder to assemble.
Step 2: Assemble the spring rolls.
Have an assembly station ready: rice paper, a large bowl or pie pan filled with warm water, a plate for creating/rolling the wraps, and a plate to place your rolls when they are done.
When ready, place a sheet of rice paper in the warm water for 10 seconds. The paper will start to soften. Next, place the softened rice paper on the assembly plate. In the middle of the paper, spread your cream cheese (optional), sprinkle a pinchful of nori flakes, and place on your cucumbers, carrots, green onion, avocado, and sprouts. As for the lettuce, if you are using romaine, try to compact it on top of your veggies as much as possible to make rolling easier.
Roll your spring roll like a wrap; take a horizontal edge and wrap it around the vegetables, fold the sides in, and continue to wrap until everything is secure. I always thought rice paper would be delicate, but it actually can take a slight beating. Rice paper is clumsy finger approved!
Tip: The rice paper should be wet, yet sticky. If it takes more than a minute to assemble your roll, you’ll find that your rice paper will start to become DRY and sticky, which makes it impossible to wrap. In other words, don’t drag your ass.
You can choose to cut them in half to see the beautiful contents in the middle, or leave them whole for easier eating!
Step 3: Make the dipping sauce.
I find a lot of Asian sauces to be too much, so I make something simple: Wasabi powder, minced garlic, and Tamari (or soy sauce). Whisk together and place in a bowl.
Step 4: Garnish and enjoy!
Sprinkle those sesame seeds on your savory blankets of rainbows and chow the f down.
They see me rollin’. They hatin’.
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December 23, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
This dish took years to perfect. Yes, YEARS. I’ve been so annoyingly critical of this dish every time I’ve sat down to eat it. Too salty. Not enough flavor. The wrong flavor.
I think I’ve finally found it, though. The secret ingredient is nori, otherwise known as the seaweed that keeps your sushi tucked in so nicely. I bought a pack of nori, milled it up in my blender, and sprinkled some in this sauce. The result was nothing short of a vegan miracle; I was tasting that glorious flavor of the ocean that I haven’t tasted in years. As someone who used to love seafood, it was marvelous to acquire that taste again without harming any of our ocean friends.
Combining the fishy taste of nori, the natural sweetness from coconut oil, and the saltiness of Tamari (or soy sauce), you’ll be on your way to making this delicious vegan lo mein!
Vegetable Lo Mein
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
For the Sauce:
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of nori, milled
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 cup of carrots, diced
- 1 cup of celery, diced
- 8oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pound of rice noodles
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped, for garnish
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
Step 1: Chop and cook your vegetables.
The vegetables don’t HAVE to be the ones mentioned above. In fact, use this opportunity to get rid of whatever you have available. I like to use this dish as a fridge-clearer. Nonetheless, the ingredients above are my favorite ones to use.
Set 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok/deep skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is melted, add in the celery, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir occasionally. After about 5-7 minutes, your vegetables should be cooked down properly. Reduce to low heat.
Step 2: Create the sauce in a blender.
While your veggies are cooking down, start by milling up the nori into a pulp in your blender or food processor. I usually mill the entire nori package at once and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for future uses.
Once the nori is milled, combine all the sauce ingredients in the blender until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add this sauce to the vegetables on low heat. Cover the wok/skillet.
Step 3: Cook the rice noodles.
Boiling the noodles isn’t normally the final step, but lo mein is a little different. The noodles need a chance to cook in the sauce for a bit; therefore, the sauce already needs to be ready. This will ensure that your noodles will be full of all the delicious flavors of the vegetables and sauce.
Start a pot of boiling water on the stove. Once the water is boiling, place in your noodles. Whatever the package of your noodles recommends for cook time, think about reducing that time by a few minutes. Drain, add the noodles to the wok, stir, cover, and let it cook for another few minutes. The idea is to start cooking the noodles in boiling water and to finish them off by having them soak up the flavors in your wok.
Step 4: Garnish, serve, and enjoy!
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September 14, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
When I first became vegan, I tried to substitute a lot of food I was previously addicted to (namely cheese). I bought all the fake cheeses at the store, and almost every single one disappointed me. I tried to substitute the taste I missed so much.
Here I am, a year and a half later, and I don’t have those cravings anymore. I guess you can say I’ve weaned myself off of my former addiction to cheese. Although I make cashew cheese now (my latest obsession), I’ve accepted that they are two different tastes. In fact, I love the way my cashew cheese tastes, and I feel good about the benefits.
This recipe is an upgrade from my last macaroni and cheese entry, which I deemed to be “The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese.” No, lol. Just no. It was not the best macaroni and cheese. I know this now because THIS is the best macaroni and cheese.
Here is a picture of my former macaroni and cheese, including a list of why it wasn’t the best:
- It was sticky. Macaroni and cheese shouldn’t have the consistency of white rice. It should be oozy.
- It was processed. Adding the Tofutti cream cheese gave the mac n’ cheese a processed flair that I didn’t care for.
- The flavor still had room for improvement. It could still afford to be cheesier.
Rest assured that this entry right here is the cure to all of your vegan mac ‘n cheese woes, including the ones listed above. To make the dish more oozy, I added more oil and milk and took away the water completely. I formerly used Tofutti cream cheese to improve texture, but it turns out that if I added more cashew cream, Tofutti wasn’t at all necessary. Finally, to improve flavor, I used some different spices, which includes a perfected medley of nutritional yeast, sea salt, and smoked paprika.
So come on down and try the best vegan mac ‘n cheese you will ever try in your life. Yeah, performed that song and dance before, but that was then and this is now. I guarantee you that this is the last time I will ever change this recipe, because now, it’s perfect the way it is.
The Best Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese!
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 full servings or 8 side-dish servings
In the skillet:
- 1 cup russet potatoes, chopped (any white variety will do)
- 1/3 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
- 2 tsp grape seed oil
For the cashew cream:
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked** for 8 hours prior to use OR milled)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbs of grape seed oil
- 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbs nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 pound of your favorite noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa pasta from Ancient Harvest)
- 1 head of broccoli, de-stemmed and chopped
** If you soak your cashews, use 3/4 cup of raw cashews instead of 1 cup, as the cashews will expand.
Step 1: Cook the skillet ingredients.
Cut up the potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in skillet with the 2 tablespoons of oil. Initially, place the items on medium heat. Once the contents start crackling, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Boil the macaroni noodles.
Don’t worry about cooking them al dente. I have found that the al dente noodles tend to get a little crunchy in the oven, so I always cook my noodles until they are squishy, but not mushy. Nobody likes mushy.
Once you strain the noodles, rinse them off with cold water. This prevents the noodles from cooking themselves longer from the heat they retain during boiling.
Step 3: Prepare the cashew cream.
I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. If you place the raw cashews in a strong food processor, blender, or coffee grinder, it will probably work. The result you’re looking for is the cashew pulp, seen below. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
For most of you, you will need to soak your cashews for 8 hours prior to making this meal. Once the soaking is over, drain your cashews. Make sure you have a strong blender or food processor to avoid chunks of wet cashews (ew). For the soakers, you’ll probably need blend the cashews and coconut milk first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Once you have blended the cashews, add the rest of the cashew cream ingredients. It will look something like this:
Step 4: Blend the skillet and cashew cream ingredients in a food processor.
Your skillet time should be up. Dump both the skillet ingredients and cashew cream ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
Step 5: Mix the noodles, cheese, and broccoli together. Cook.
I cook for only two, so this recipe is excessive for us. We are huge leftover fans, so I put half of the noodles in one baking dish and half in another. I do the same with the cheese and broccoli. One dish will be cooked now; the other will be placed in the fridge and will be cooked tomorrow.
If you live in a house of 4 or more, you’re probably intent on cooking all of it at once, and that is a splendid idea! Oil your favorite baking dish(es) first. Place your noodles in the baking dish. Dump the cheese on top, sprinkle your broccoli pieces, and stir it all up.
Place your dish(es) in the oven at 350º for 30 minutes.
See? No more sticky noodles. Only the yums.
Also, as always, make sure you let me know how your dish turned out! You can comment below, tell me on Facebook, or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl on Instagram. I update the blog once a week, but I post on Instagram several times a day. Also, you can follow my board on Pinterest. I post my own recipes there, but I also post other recipes that tickle my fancy.
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August 31, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
If you care about something, you want to improve it and make yourself better, right? For me, this blog is a constant reminder of that. I get to see how far I’ve come with not only vegan cooking, but cooking in general. In fact, some of my earlier posts are a bit embarrassing for me to look at.
On that note, here is a specific recipe in particular that I’ve made slight improvements to over the past year, and that’s the Buffalo Quinoa Salad recipe. This is a staple recipe in our household, as it’s one of Matt’s favorites. This version is less processed, less work, and more delicious. You can’t argue with that!
Buffalo Quinoa Salad
Prep Time: 15 minutes (mostly completed during cook time)
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For the Tempeh Tenders
- 1 8oz package of tempeh, diced
- 4 tbs Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce
- 1/3 cup GF vegan breadcrumbs
- 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1/2 cup white onion, diced
- 1 cup quinoa
- your favorite hummus
- Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce (for drizzling and such)
Step 1: Prepare and roast chickpeas.
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain the chickpeas and pat them dry. Get an oven pan oiled and ready, place chickpeas onto the pan, and dress them with 1 tbs of olive oil. The ONE TABLESPOON is crucial, people. If you add more, your chickpeas will turn out either too mushy or burnt. Move your fingers along the tops of the chickpeas until every chickpea is coated with a bit of oil.
Now, you’re ready to place them in the oven for about 50 minutes. Your result should be crunchy, roasted chickpeas. It’s a great GF crouton, and way more nutritious!
Step 2: Prepare and cook tempeh tenders.
Here is a step that I’ve changed about the previous recipe that will save you lots of time, is less messy, and produces better-quality results. Plus, it’s more fun this way, as dancing with food is involved.
Take your diced tempeh and place it in a tupperware container. Next, pour in the buffalo wing sauce and GF bread crumbs. Put the top on the tupperware container and shake it up! Dance and have fun with your tenders.
When you open up your container, perfectly-coated nuggets will be revealed, without getting a single finger messy!
Grease a baking sheet, pour the tempeh tenders on top, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. It’s okay to share the oven with the chickpeas. I do it all the time.
Step 3: Cook the quinoa.
Two cups of water and one cup of quinoa will go into a pot. Bring the pot to a bowl, lower the heat to simmer, and cover the pot for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Cut the vegetables.
With three things cooking at once, you’ll have one more task: cutting the vegetables. CHEF STATUS! Lol, just kidding. Real chefs start prepping their food at 8am.
Step 5: Combine ingredients in a big bowl.
As things start finishing up, start placing them in a big bowl. Mix it all together.
I like to save the hummus for “garnish” in my own bowl. I like to use Publix’s Jalapeño Cilantro hummus in this dish, as it amps up the kick. However, I’m sure every hummus, store-bought or homemade, works just fine here. Add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite hummus in your own bowl, mix, drizzle some hot sauce on top, and enjoy this heavenly dish.
Add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite hummus in your own bowl, mix, drizzle some hot sauce on top, and enjoy this heavenly dish.
I hope you all give this improved version a try!
April 20, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I have improved this recipe! If you want to see it (trust me, you do), click here!
Vegan cheese is famous for sucking horribly. I wholeheartedly agree with the stereotype vegan cheese has unfortunately made for itself. Known for its texture of rubber and taste of plastic, vegan cheese doesn’t deserve to be called cheese at all. “BUT IT MELTS NOW!” Awesome. You know what else melts? Wax. Which is what vegan cheese tastes like.
In my opinion, the only acceptable vegan cheese is vegan cream cheese. Spot-on texture and accurate taste.
What’s worse is that vegan cheese is being used to make awful renditions of vegan macaroni and cheese. 99% of what you see on Pinterest labeled at Vegan Macaroni and Cheese is pure crap. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’m sorry, but nutritional yeast cannot perform vegan miracles.
I was in a dark vegan macaroni and cheese place. That is, until I finally found what I was looking for. No Daiya. No nutritional yeast. It was a vegan miracle. It was made by Alisa in Alaska. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
I’ve been making the recipe above for about six months, but the more I ate it, the more I realized that something was missing. It just wasn’t cheesy enough. Maybe it was a little too lemony. Whatever it was, I just needed to tweak it a bit.
It was then that I realized that I bet I could achieve the cheesiness I craved through vegan cream cheese. At that moment, the clouds separated and the sun shone through. I finally achieved the greatness I had chased for over a year.
Here is my rendition of vegan mac and cheese. It’s the best homemade vegan macaroni and cheese out there, guaranteed.
The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings
- 1 8oz box of elbow noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa noodles)
- 1 cup sweet potatoes, chopped (russet potatoes are yummy, too!)
- 1/3 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 carrots, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 cayenne pepper
- 1/3 tub vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup broccoli, chopped (optional)
- gluten free bread crumbs (optional)
STEP 1: Cut up the sweet potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your sweet potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in a pot with the 1 cup of water. Bring items to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
STEP 2: Boil the macaroni noodles. When finished, strain and rinse with cold water.
STEP 3: Mill/process the cashews, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
STEP 4: When your pot of veggies is done, pour the contents into a food processor (including the water). Grind until pureed. Add the cashew mixture and vegan cheese and continue to puree until fully incorporated.
STEP 5: Get out your favorite macaroni dish, line with cooking oil, and add the noodles, “cheese”, and broccoli. Mix contents with a spoon.
I’ve heard that breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese is a southern thing. If so, it’s the best southern tradition I know. Sprinkle on your bread crumbs before sending your dish into the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes later…
Mmmm, finally. Edible vegan macaroni and cheese.
February 9, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Central Florida. After a rainy, disgusting week, it’s sunny and beautiful, with a high of 71 degrees. Oh Florida, it’s great to have you back!
After a stellar morning involving a morning run, yoga in the park, and some partner yoga with my best friend, I came home wanting a great lunch. We haven’t had a big grocery run in about a week, and we need to clear out the ripe veggies in the fridge to make way for the new ones. “Perfect for soup!” I thought.
Much to my dismay (initially), I realized that my stash of vegetable bouillon was all gone. What started out as a soupy defeat quickly turned into a chance to be creative. I didn’t have an hour to simmer my veggies to make stock (who does?), so I decided to use the same approach as I did to make my instant cashew cream: mill it up!
In order to successfully make this soup, you’ll need a really powerful food processor, or some type of milling device. If not, you’ll end up with a chunky broth, and nobody wants that.
This soup was tasty, quick, fridge-clearing, packed with nutrition, and didn’t take a lot of ingredients!
Lentil Soup in a Homemade Veggie Broth
Prep and Cook Time: 20 minutes combined
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 cups ripe tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes that were getting a bit wrinkly)
- 4 celery stalks
- 3 large carrots
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbs sea salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 cans of organic lentils, strained and rinsed
- 8oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup white onion, chopped
- 4oz quinoa pasta – OPTIONAL – (I used Ancient Harvest Garden Pagoda quinoa pasta)
STEP 1: Create the broth.
Prep your stove by setting your pot on medium-low heat. That way, when your broth is ready, you can make it instantly hot.
Take the broth ingredients, except the water and salt, and put them in your food processor. Mill those ingredients together until it has become completely smooth liquid.
Once your veggies are smooth, pour your soup onto the pot. Add the water and salt.
STEP 2: Strain and rinse your lentils.
Add the lentils to the pot.
Why the canned lentils? I’ve tried raw lentils a countless amount of times through soaking, simmering, adding baking soda, and a combination of all three. No matter what I did, I couldn’t ever seem to get my lentils to be that puffy, soft consistency. They would ALWAYS turn out a bit crunchy. I finally gave in and bought organic lentils, and I haven’t looked back since! It doesn’t hurt that they’re also quick and easy.
STEP 3 (optional): Prepare the pasta.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in 4oz of quinoa pasta to boiling water, allowing the pasta to boil for 6 minutes. Strain and add to the pot when ready.
STEP 4: Add chopped veggies to the pot.
While the pasta water is heating up, increase the stove to medium heat. Chop the onion and mushrooms and add the two to the pot. Cover with a lid until you add in the pasta, about 6-8 minutes.
STEP 5: Ready to eat!
We prepared Schar Gluten-free Ciabatta Rolls to dip into our soup.
By the way, it’s REALLY difficult to get a great picture of soup. Here is my best attempt.
July 17, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
There is a new and improved version of this recipe. To view it, click here!
The idea for this recipe developed from two inspirations: my favorite local vegan restaurant & Pinterest.
At Dandelion Communitea Cafe in Orlando, FL, they have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options. I try to avoid getting in the rut of ordering the same thing every time, so recently, I ordered the Buffalo 66, a quinoa salad with tempeh tenders, veggies, and “blue cheese” dressing. When I tried this dish, my mouth was exploding in a flavor-war between the heat of the buffalo and the chill from the blue cheese. You know the devil & angel on your shoulders, pulling you in either direction? It was like that… but in my mouth, and delicious. The freshness of the veggies and the absorbency of the quinoa really pulled this dish together to make a truly exquisite dish.
Afterward, I told myself, “I have to make this!”
Flash forward to last night. It was time.
As for Pinterest, who isn’t inspired by the ideas people bring into this world on a daily basis? It took a bit of research to find a good “blue cheese” dressing. It wasn’t until this popular pin by PETA that I felt like I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, with a combination of ideas, as well as specific options that were found in my local grocery store, I created this mouth-watering, scarf-worthy, and heavenly dish! Seriously guys, it might be the best thing I’ve ever made. Oh yeah, and Matt helped, and his help made this dish even more awesome! It’s true that it takes one to have a good idea, but 2+ to make a good idea great!
Buffalo Quinoa Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Prep Time: 30 minutes (can be done during cook time)
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Yield: 3-4 servings
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water (to boil quinoa in)
- 1 bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce (use as needed)
- 1 cup GF Seasoned Coating Mix
- 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (will become roasted, drizzle with Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce)
- 1 package of tempeh, sliced (8oz)
- 1 cup of carrots
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- ½ small onion
For Blue Cheese Dressing:
- 1 cup vegan sour cream
- 1 lemon, squeezed
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp tahini
- 1/4 tsp agave nectar
- a dash of garlic powder
- 1/8 block of firm tofu, drained and pressed
STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain chickpeas and pat dry. Get an oven pan oiled and ready, place chickpeas onto the pan, and dress them with 3-4 tbs of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce. Move your fingers along the tops of the chickpeas and place them in the oven for about 60 minutes.
STEP 2: Tempeh time! After slicing your tempeh, gather 2 bowls and an oiled oven tray to create an assembly line. In the first bowl, pour some buffalo wing sauce. In the second bowl, pour some GF Seasoned Coating Mix. When everything is ready, dip your tempeh into the buffalo wing sauce, followed by the seasoning, and place it on the tray. Place in the oven with the chickpeas. They should cook for about 30-35 minutes.
STEP 3: Time to create the dressing! Gather your ingredients and mix them all into a small bowl, except for the tofu. You will drain and press your tofu, then crumble it up (I did this by taking a spoon and flattening out the tofu). Mix in with the dressing, cover, and place into the fridge until ready.
STEP 4: With 20 minutes left on the chickpeas/tempeh, get your quinoa ready. I used 1 cup of quinoa. Use the 2 cups of water to boil your quinoa, then let it simmer (covered) for 15 minutes.
STEP 5: You’re cooking 3 things at once, yet you have one more task! Get a big bowl ready, cut up the carrots, celery, and onion, and place them in the bowl.
STEP 6: When everything is done cooking, mix the steaming-hot quinoa and chickpeas in the bowl with the veggies. Gather your rather large helping (your stomach won’t let you get a small one, I promise you), place your tempeh tenders on top, and garnish with a little more buffalo sauce and your dressing.
The tempeh tenders were fantastic. In fact, they’re amazing by themselves! I might make them as a finger food one day… hmm, perhaps the Superbowl…
Anyway, this dish is tantalizing and all-out amazing. Stop what you’re doing and make this today. Your tastebuds, and your audience, will thank you.
July 11, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Growing up, my mom made two things that really rocked: meatballs and chili. Surprisingly, she wasn’t even a beef person, really, but she cooked it damn well. Her ingredients were simple and her recipes weren’t complicated. I think the secret to her success was her crockpot.
Oh, the crockpot. It was such a glorious day when I inherited that crockpot from her (when I moved out). Along with it, she gave me her recipes for those two marvelous things she made. And soon, I too became good at cooking meatballs and chili.
But the day came when I became vegan, and I gave up my meatball and chili dreams…
… until now.
I had lost all hope until I visited one of my favorite local vegan restaurants, Dandelion Communitea Café. They feature a “famous chili,” vegan of course, yet it had a curious ingredient I had never had before: ~TEMPEH~
At the time, I was baffled. Especially when I went to the store and checked the packaging. What the heck (keeping it nice) is this stuff? It looks like a brain, I thought.
Of course, now, I know tempeh pretty well, as most vegans do. It’s a great beef substitute. It’s firm, has a nutty flavor, and can be sliced into strips, diced into chunks, or ground up. It’s perfect for chili.
Unfortunately for me, since I’m in Mississippi on vacation, I don’t have my crockpot. ☹
So I did it the old-fashioned way and put a big pot on the stove, which is OKAY, I GUESS. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a crockpot, lug that thing out of the shadows and put it to work!
Gluten-Free Tempeh Chili
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time – 4 hours
Yield – 4-6 servings
- 1 package of tempeh (8oz)
- 1 15oz can stewed tomatoes, halved
- 1 can of white beans
- 1 can of kidney beans (dark or light)
- 1 cup of onions, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 packet/mix of chili
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs fresh or dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- salt/pepper to taste
- ¼ cup celery
- ¼ cup carrots
- ½ cup green/yellow/red pepper
- 1 avocado, sliced (garnish)
- a dollop of vegan sour cream (garnish)
- tortilla chips (as a pairing)
STEP 1: Start cutting up your tempeh into diced pieces. I love cutting tempeh because I feel like I can make the perfect little squares out of it! Throw it in a bowl with 2 tbs olive oil and the oregano, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Mix it up with your hands.
STEP 2: Heat a skillet to medium-low heat with 2 tbs olive oil. Once heated, throw the tempeh in the skillet for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Watch it carefully, as it can burn easily. When finished, place chili in your crockpot or a big pot on your stove.
WARNING: Tempeh tends to get a bit crumbly when you’re cooking. Those little crumbles will become burnt while the rest of your tempeh is still cooking. Do NOT add those burnt pieces to your chili, as it will give your chili a bitter taste.
STEP 3: Rinse and drain your beans.
As for your stewed tomatoes, we want those tomato juices in our chili, so don’t drain the stewed tomatoes! A personal preference of mine is to cut them in half, but my mother would tell you otherwise. Do as you want with them.
Dump everything in the pot when finished. Use your stewed tomato can to add water to your chili. Fill up your can twice and pour it in the pot.
STEP 4: Cut up your garlic, onion, & optionals!
Chili is awesome because you can really throw in any kind of vegetable you’ve got laying around. I like seeing a few colors in my chili, so I try to include a pepper and something green. Corn is a nice addition, too, if you have it. Get creative!
Place everything in the pot when finished.
STEP 5: Mix in chili mix and get this party started.
I had always used your basic 99¢ chili mix in my pre-Matt days, but all of those have gluten in them. Hmm… who knew?
So now, I use Carroll Shelby Chili Kit. I’ve seen it at most grocery stores for a little over $2, but it’s so worth the extra money. The ingredients aren’t scary and don’t leave anything to the imagination. Also, you have the power to make your chili as salty, spicy, and thick as you want!
Included in the kit are packages of Chili Spice, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, and Corn Masa Flour (for thickness).
Since I like things hot and Matt likes things salty, I threw in all of the chili spice, salt, and cayenne pepper. I even threw in a little additional salt for safe measure. Save the corn masa flour for the end, when the chili is done cooking.
STEP 5: Stir up your pot, cover it, and let your chili cook on low heat for at least 4 hours. Some crockpots get extremely hot even on low heat; if this is the case with yours, you might want to add a little extra water for some added measure, as you don’t want all of your liquid to evaporate and your contents to burn.
STEP 6: There should be an amazing aroma wafting through your house right about now. Unveil your chili, marvel at it, and add your corn masa flour to desired thickness. I added half of my packet, but you decide. Cover your chili and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
STEP 7: Have some sliced avocado and vegan sour cream ready. Unveil your chili again, marvel at it again, and spoon it in a bowl. Top with your garnishes and enjoy!
NO FLEEGLE, you may not have any.
July 3, 2013 By This Vegan Girl
Ever since turning vegan, there are certain foods that I find myself gravitating toward time and time again. For me, that food is the chickpea. Can we agree that chickpeas are the #1 vegan food?
I find myself using chickpeas to create a multitude of substitutions. Whether mashed, cooked, or raw, these beans are something I can always count on for good texture.
I don’t know about you, but every now and again, I find myself craving a salad sandwich. You know, egg salad or tuna salad. It’s not an every day craving, but its one I have maybe about once every 2 months or so. Well, leave it to chickpeas – once again – to save the day in a time of a vegan craving crisis.
Here’s my take on a chickpea salad sandwich. It’s gluten-free, so Celiacs can use GF bread or GF crackers to make this thing happen for them, too.
Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Yield: 3-4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained, washed, and patted dry
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 5 petite pickles, thinly sliced
- 8 baby carrots, thinly sliced
- ¼ – ½ sweet or white onion, diced
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- 1 cup Veganaise*
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- ½ of a lemon, squeezed for juice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- dash of sweetener (if using Veganaise, in order to really make those flavors pop!)
- fresh spinach (optional)
- your favorite vegan and/or gluten free bread (make sure it’s thick… this sandwich can get heavy!)
*SIDE NOTE: I’m visiting my boyfriend in Mississippi, and there was NO Veganaise to be found at the local grocery store! If you are in this predicament as well, I substituted So Delicious Coconut Milk Plain yogurt. It’s a bit on the sweet side, so I used lots of tart spices in the yogurt to even out the taste.
STEP 1: Have a really cute animal nearby to help you out and brighten your spirit.
This is my baby Fleegle. He’s a one year-old cockatiel, and he’s my sunshine. He injured his little foot recently, so that’s why his foot is sticking up like that :(. Don’t worry though; with the help of my vet, Fleegle is on the road to recovery!
STEP 2: Cut chickpeas in half.
You see why you need an animal to brighten your spirits? It’s because cutting these little chickpeas is tedious and annoying. A whole chickpea is a bit thick, so cutting them in half really helps to spread that taste throughout. This step alone takes about 10 minutes, but I promise you it’s worth it!
STEP 3: Cut up the rest of your vegetables.
STEP 4: Using the spices and vegan mayo, create your Veganaise mixture. Sample the mixture throughout and cater to your own personal taste!
STEP 5: Mix everything together.
STEP 6: Place some fresh spinach at the bottom of one of your bread slices. Then, scoop some chickpea salad and place it on top of the spinach layer. Finally, top of your sandwich with your other bread slice.
MMMMMM! Perfect for summer and outdoor adventures!