A Kick in the Vegan Pants

By:  Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg – Guest Contributor’s
Contributor’s Website:  Spork Foods

If you’ve read Skinny Bitch or The China Study, watched “Food Inc.,” or just caught the last five minutes of Bill Clinton on CNN, you’ve probably been introduced to the concept of being vegan. Once your curiosity has been piqued, a transition into this vegan lifestyle that everyone’s talking about may still seem tricky. Every life-change starts with a tiny first step, and we’re here to get you on your way to a delicious start! Even if your goal is just to incorporate more healthy meals into your life on occasion, you’ll still want the tools to make those healthy meals taste amazing so you’ll love sticking with it!

We’ve been vegan for more than 12 years and we’ve never felt like we’re sacrificing, and that means you don’t have to either! We’ve all walked by a salad bar and shuddered at the thought of putting those cold cubes of bland tofu on top of our salad. Trust us – there’s more to a vegan life than a cold tofu salad! You can have all the flavor, texture, and comfort of traditional foods without the guilt or cholesterol.

OK, now that you’re thinking, I can do this!, your fridge and pantry need a little vegan makeover. Stock up on these ingredients and you’ll be ready to roll. A trip to your local Whole Foods or Natural Market may be in order, and it’ll be well worth the effort! These are some ingredients that will help satisfy you, keep you healthy, AND thin:

*Miso Paste (We like Mellow White Miso for sauces, in pesto instead of parmesan, and as a sub in just about any cheese sauce.)

*Beans (Canned beans are okay, but watch the sodium and rinse them before using. Our fave brand is Eden, because they add kombu to the beans, which makes them more digestible!)

*Nutritional Yeast (We know this doesn’t sound delish, but it has a cheesy taste and contains tons of minerals and viteys which give the pep you need to stay energized throughout the day!)

*Flax Oil (Omega-3s are really important for brain function and overall health. Flax oil is a natural source of Omega 3s that you can drizzle on salads or use to finish off many dishes. It should never be used for cooking, because it is a sensitive oil with a super-low smoke point.)

*Cashews, Walnuts, Almonds, or any nuts you like! (Nuts keep you satisfied for a while when incorporated into different recipes. The fat in nuts is a good fat and digests well in the bod.)

*Tempeh Bacon (This has the smoky feel of bacon, but we won’t lie – the texture is different. It makes a killer BLT and it’s fermented so it digests like a dream.)

*Fruits and Veggies are the main staples of our diet. Go to a farmer’s market, or get a produce box delivered and go to town! When wondering what to do with some funky veggie that you’ve never heard of – chop them up, throw on herbs, spices, lemon, and some coconut oil, and roast away!

To get you motivated, let’s give you a recipe from our new cookbook, Spork-Fed! It’s sophisticated, easy-to-make, tastes amazing – and uses tofu – just to get you excited about all that tofu can be!

Cornmeal and Herb-Crusted Tofu Feta Croquettes (gluten-free)
Yields about 15 small croquettes

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons neutral tasting high-heat oil
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
1⁄4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper 1 tablespoon light miso paste (non-barley)
1 heaping tablespoon vegan cream cheese
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1⁄2 cup yellow cornmeal, plus 11⁄2 cups
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons neutral tasting high-heat oil

In a large bowl, crumble tofu with your hands. Add oregano, thyme, brown rice syrup, lemon juice and zest, oil, sea salt, black pepper, miso, cream cheese, vinegar and 1⁄2 cup cornmeal. Stir until well mixed.

In a separate shallow dish, add remaining 11⁄2 cup cornmeal, oregano, basil, sea salt and black pepper. Mix until uniform.

Using hands, form tofu-feta mixture into small patties and coat each patty in cornmeal mixture. Pat off any excess cornmeal.
Heat a large sauté pan and add 2 tablespoons high-heat oil. Add croquettes and over medium heat, cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, or until browned and crisp. 
© Spork Foods, 2010

Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg. They offer live cooking classes in Los Angeles at Spork Foods, online vegan cooking classes at Spork Online, one-on-one in-home healthy pantry makeovers, and recipe development/trainings for chefs, food companies and colleges. Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, was released in October 2011, with a foreword by fellow fans and sisters, Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

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Contributor’s Website:  Spork Foods

Image Credits:  Spork Foods

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