Vegan MoFo Day 7: Meal Inspired by a Book

VW maintenance not required

VW maintenance not required

What first came to mind, as I was laying under my VW Bus clamping together the cooling system again, was Brad and Sheena’s epic journey in their similar VW, named “Nacho.” Short for Ignacio . Because all old, distinguished vehicles need a name. For three years they guided Nacho from Flagstaff, AZ to Tierra del Fuego, the shipped him to Asia, and overhanded back through Europe before shipping back stateside.

Drive Nacho Drive, is the story, a blog and two books.

So, when Brad wasn’t hunkered under his bus replacing wheel bearings, they ate all kinds of local stuff. It seems that  first leg of their journey through Mexico and Baja especially, was a never-ending buffet of tacos. Especially fish tacos.

Well, what would the Nach crew eat if they were vegan?

Vegan Fish Tacos!

Of course.

Now, I’ve done the McDougall version with tofu a few times. Pretty good. Even my SAD eating family can dig it. But I wanted to change it up, so I went for tempeh. And added beer to the marinade. Maybe next time, tequila, we’ll see. I also pressed the salted and vinegared cabbage with some minced pickled jalapeño, which I’ve never done before. I only slacked on the tofu lime crema because I didn’t have any cilantro.

Marinated Tempeh:

1 block tempeh

1/4 C Mexican beer

2-3 t chili powder

1 t cumin

2-3 T lime juice

2-3 cloves minced garlic

Simmer or steam tempeh for 10 minutes while preparing marinade in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add tempeh to bowl, turn to coat, and set aside. Marinate for at least an hour, more is better.

Cabbage Slaw:

green and purple cabbage, shredded

carrot, shredded

1-2 T minced pickled jalapeno

1 t salt

2 T cider vinegar

Mix all slaw ingredients. Cover with plastic, a smaller lid, or plate, and weight down. Let sit at room temp at least an hour, more is better.

Lime Crema:

buy or make some tofu sour cream. Blend in one clove minced garlic, and lime juice and cilantro to taste.

Assemble ingredients into your favorite tortillas and enjoy. Be happy you don’t have to replace your rear wheel bearings. I do.

 

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Vegan MoFo Day 6: Recreate a Restaurant Meal

Very Verdure over Polenta

Very Verdure over Polenta

Pasta Pomodoro used to have a veggie rich dish I liked called “Verdure.” Like the name implies it’s a huge plate of green veggies like asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, zucchini, and spinach with some mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes for flavor. When I checked the website to see if I remembered it correctly, I found they no longer serve it. So I made my own.

The problems with this dish as they made it was that it was served either with garlic and olive oil, which is not healthy, or with a pomodoro sauce that was probably also drenched in olive oil. So naturally I eliminated those options. I don’t like the idea of drowning all those bright green veggies in tomato sauce, so I just used dried herbs, s&p, and a little balsamic. And plenty of fresh garlic.

The other problem is that the dish as served was main dish sized, but had no starch. You had to order the starch as an extra. You could add penne, faro, or white beans. Weird. But I guess too many people are still afraid of starch, and think the more green veggies the quicker they reach nirvana.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb brussel sprouts halved or quartered, depending on size

1 broccoli crown, separated into florets

2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced

1 C sliced mushrooms

1-2 C chopped asparagus

1 C baby spinach

1/4 C chopped rehydrated sun dried tomato

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can white beans drained and rinsed

balsamic vinegar to taste

Optional: pinch red pepper flakes, sliced kalamata olives, a spoonful of capers

Starch of choice for serving: potatoes, pilaf, polenta

Directions:

In a large skillet or wok, steam fry the broccoli and brussels sprouts covered for a couple of minutes. When they’re almost done, add the zucchini and asparagus and continue cooking.   When the veggies are cooked to your preference, add the spinach, beans, garlic, balsamic, and optional seasonings and heat through. Serve over or alongside the starch of choice.

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Vegan MoFo Day 5: Ultimate Sandwich

As a teenager, I worked in a sandwich shop. I went veg, and that restricted my options a lot. But I’ve always liked the idea of tasty things squeezed between two slices of good bread. There are two go-to sandwiches I love over and over:

Jeff Burgers

Bean Spread

A burger is a sandwich after all, and Jeff Novick’s burger recipe makes awesome sandwiches cold. Hummus is the obvious bean spread, but currently I prefer white beans with artichoke hearts and greens.

Jeff’s Burgers were designed by the incomparable Jeff Novick, and can be varied to suit any taste. Several examples are demonstrated in his Burgers and Fries DVD. To make a sandwich out of one, vary the patty shape a little if desired, and put it on your favorite bread. I prefer Ezekiel or Alvarado St. whole grain bread, or ciabatta from a local bakery.

Basic Recipe:

1 can kidney beans

1 can additional beans of choice, this time I used black eyed peas

1 C cooked rice

1 C oats, old fashioned or quick

2-4 T tomato product, tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa, or a combination

seasonings of choice: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or pre made blend

Directions:

Drain and rinse the beans and place in a large mixing bowl. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they break up. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. I like to get in there and really squeeze it all with my bare hands until I get the right consistency. Smooth it out and chill for about 1/2 an hour. Divide into 8 equal pieces, then form into balls and squeeze out into patties. Cook in a skillet for 5-8 minutes a side. They freeze well and make hot or cold sandwiches equally well.

White Bean Spread

1 can white beans

1 can water packed artichoke hearts

1 clove garlic

a couple handfuls leafy greens of choice, I prefer spinach and arugula

lemon juice and salt to taste

Directions:

In a food processor, combine beans, artichoke hearts, greens, and garlic and puree until smooth. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

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Vegan MoFo Day 4: Weird Food

 

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I don’t think I do any really weird food combinations that are unique to me.

 

 

 

But I do like some combinations that may seem strange to most Americans, but not so much elsewhere.

Number 1:

Watermelon with chili powder.

The first time I saw someone do this I was intrigued. Totally normal in Mexico, intact Tajin is a chili based seasoning intended specifically for fruit. I thought that hot and sweet and fruity would be weird. But it’s really tasty! Chili and mango is also really good.

Number 2:

Natto and Avocado

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Natto is a weird fermented soybean dish that is slimy and gooey all at once. It’s really weird, and most non-Japanese run in horror. It has a very distinctive smell, taste and texture that most find appalling. I like it. Traditionally it is mixed with a little Asian hot mustard and soy sauce and served over rice. Not so traditionally, you can add slices of avocado. Rich food not appropriate fro every day or everybody, but an odd sort of tastiness.

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Vegan MoFo Day 3: Simple, Easy, Delicious

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A common criticism people have of a vegan diet is that it is too difficult. Too time consuming. Too much chopping. Blah, blah.

That’s why I like The Starch Solution.

Simple:

Pick a staple starch you enjoy, like potatoes, or rice. Add some veggies you like, season as you like, done!

Easy:

Boiling or baking potatoes is easy. Cooking rice is easy, though brown rice takes longer. Sauteeing veggies is easy. Seasoning is easy.

Delicious:

That’s on the tongue of the beholder. There’s a world of spices and spice combinations to add tremendous flavor to the mild flavor of starches. No fat needed.

The undisputed heavyweight champ of simple, easy and delicious is Jeff Novick. He outlines the plan in his DVD Fast Food.

The format is simple:

  • A can of no salt tomatoes
  • A can of no salt beans
  • A bag or two of frozen veggies
  • Seasoning
  • A starch as the base

He makes a simple curry, Mexican beans and rice, Cajun beans and rice, and pasta primavera using this template.

I use this often, sometimes using fresh instead of frozen veggies, or combining the two. One of my favorite is Breakfast Potatoes, though they could be eaten any time of day. The only thing that is time consuming is cooking potatoes, but if you’re a die hard McDougaller, you probably always have cooked potatoes on hand. A substitute could be boil in a bag brown rice.

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen peppers and onion mix (or use fresh equivalent)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lb (or more) cooked, chunked potatoes

Seasonings: salt, pepper, onion/garlic powder, chili powder, cumin

Optional Garnishes: diced tomato, salsa, or hot sauce

Directions:

Dump the frozen veggies in a large skillet or pot and heat through. If using fresh, sauté in some water until as done as you like. Add the seasonings. Use chili powder and cumin for a Mexican flavor, or omit. When the veggies are done, add the beans and potatoes and heat through. Top with whatever garnishes you like. Or wrap in a tortilla. Or serve over rice. Whatever you like, just get that starch!

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Vegan MoFo Day 2: Recreate a Childhood Meal

Nothing at all like what Mom used to make!

Nothing at all like what Mom used to make!

During Vegan MoFo 2013, one of the recurring prompts was retro cooking. So I created some retro casseroles, trying as best as I could to follow the guidelines of Dr. McDougall. I remember a lot of casseroles as a kid. My mom still likes them because you do the prep, stick it in the oven and sit down and relax while it cooks. Then it’s done, yay!

So this year I had to up the challenge a bit.

Spinach Souffle

I remember this one a lot. My mom still makes it regularly, but with all the eggs, milk, cheese, and oil, not healthy at all. It dupes people because of the spinach. They think it’s heathy because hey, it’s got leafy greens! And loads of fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, no bueno. Plus, it has no starch. Extra no bueno. Grande no bueno.

So What To Do?

I recalled from my previous vegan casserole experiments that tofu bakes up custard like and is somewhat similar to eggs in that regard. So I consulted Chef Google and found a few  examples of what I’m trying to achieve. But it is still not a starch based dish. A tofu and cashew based sauce  is very rich. A separate potato dish would compliment this nicely, like a gratin. But is there a way to make a one dish casserole meal?

I decided to try.

I cooked some red potatoes and let them cool. If you’re a real McDougaller, you might already have these on hand. I didn’t have enough, so I cooked some more. When they were cool enough to handle, I chunked them and spread them in a layer on the bottom of a casserole dish.

Cooked spinach/mushroom and potatoes awaiting sauce and assembly.

Cooked spinach/mushroom and potatoes awaiting sauce and assembly.

Meanwhile I cooked a package of frozen spinach with about 1/2 lb of mushrooms. It’s best to thaw the spinach first as my mom always did, but I faked it this time.

To make the sauce, I soaked some cashews in water in the Vitamix, then blended them. Then I added tofu and the seasonings I use to get a “cheesy” taste. Blended some more. Added the spinach/mushroom mixture and blended some more …

Oops.

Blended it way too much! Spinach soufflé is supposed to be chunky. Mine was not. I got green tofu sauce. Oh well. Poured it over the potatoes and baked them in the oven until done.

Well, it looks wrong, and the texture is wrong, but that’s because the silly Vitamix has more horsepower than my VW bus, and I overdid it. But, the taste works. I may or may not try to repeat it. Due to the cashews and tofu, this is a rich dish not really appropriate very often. But it might appeal to SAD eaters, or be fun once in a while. The addition of potatoes was a big chance, but it worked well. Kind of like an aloo saag in Indian cooking, and much better as a main dish than straight tofu and spinach.

Ingredients:

1 pakcage frozen spinach, thawed

1/2 lb sliced mushrooms

3/4 lb cooked, chunked red potatoes

1 block firm tofu

1/2 C cashews

1 C water

1 T lemon juice

1-2 t white miso

1-2 t mustard, any kind

2 t onion powder

salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Saute mushrooms with salt and pepper until they release their juices. Add spinach and cook for a few minutes more. Remove from heat. Spread potatoes in an even layer in a casserole dish. Season if you like with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, or another seasoning blend.

Meanwhile, in a high speed blender or food processor, blend cashews and water until smooth. Add tofu and remaining ingredients except spinach mixture and blend again. Add the spinach/mushroom mixture and CAREFULLY blend so that veggies are incorporated, but still a bit chunky. Do  not make a green sauce like I did!

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and bake 30-45 minutes until done.

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Rise ‘N’ Shine, It’s Mofo Time!

Except that Vegan Mofo 2015 came and left without me.  I forgot to get on the bus. Last week as I researched it, I could not find a deadline for signing up, so, I went on my merry way. Apparently there WAS a deadline, and I missed it.

Boo.

But I’ll do it anyway and just tag everything, even though I won’t be on the official blogroll. Sorta like poaching. But not really.

I’ve already blogged my typical McDougall-ish breakfast of oats, so for the Day 1 Breakfast theme, I’ll go with a more race ready approach, and describe my super simple race day breakfast:

Cold cooked, spiced sweet potato.

Spiced Japanese Sweet Potato

Spiced Japanese Sweet Potato

Doesn’t get much simpler than that. Since race morning typically has me getting up super early and driving for awhile, I usually stick to this because I can easily eat it while driving. Breakfast isn’t really necessary for races, the muscles should be well stocked with glycogen from the day before. You can just show up, and start the regular fueling once underway. But if I have a couple of hours before the gun goes off, I like a little snack to restock the liver glycogen. A sweet potato is perfect.

Here’s hw I do it:

Cook up a couple sweet potatoes of any variety and color the night before. You can bake them, microwave them, boil, or steam them. Then chill them in the fridge until morning. You can eat the plain, out of hand, or for a little more flavor, cut in half and sprinkle with some spice.

  • Cinnamon and cloves for a sweet pumpkin pie taste
  • Curry powder
  • Chili and lime
  • Hot sauce
  • Miso
  • Currently, I like this Mexican fruit seasoning, which is chili, lime and salt.

That’s it. It also makes a good snack, and I always have another one hand for the drive home. It’s also a good breakfast for any kind of travel, especially if you don’t know if there will be compliant food.

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