Beyond Meat: Chicken-free strips

I spiced things up in the kitchen recently with Southwest style chicken-free strips by Beyond Meat.

I first learned about this company when I read a blog post about the future of food by Bill Gates. Gates is financially backing Beyond Meat, in part because he recognizes that increasing meat consumption is bad for the environment. The global population is growing, and as people become more affluent, they often transition to western-style diets. That’s neither healthy nor sustainable.

I searched for Beyond Meat at my local Whole Foods and ended up getting a couple of ready-made wraps for a picnic. So yummy! Until now, I hadn’t cooked with it, so I gave it a whirl.

ingredients

I made a simple stir-fry using red pepper, broccoli and zucchini, added spices and the Beyond Chicken strips, which I’d cut into cubes.

stir-fry in progress

Beyond Chicken is made primarily with non-GMO soy and peas. It’s a complete protein, has plenty of fiber, and isn’t loaded with fat or cholesterol (in fact, it has no cholesterol, saturated or trans-fat and is just 5% fat).

I served my stir-fry over a rice pilaf for a quick, simple, and delicious meal. I’m going to try their beef-free crumble next for a taco meal!

simple dinner

I like that technology is helping reinvent meat and that through technology we can harness plants to create healthy delicious meat alternatives. It has a lot of potential in developing nations too, not just on the plates of people in the developed world.

Biz Stone, vegan and founder of Twitter, is also financially invested in Beyond Meat. Perhaps the future of meat is vegan.

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Instead of eggs

I’ve written about the inherent cruelty of the egg industry and why vegans don’t eat eggs. When I nix one item, I like to offer a vegan substitute, so let’s look at other ingredients that you can use instead of eggs.

Baking: To get baked goods to stick together, use applesauce, flax seeds, or a banana. Applesauce is sweet and keeps foods moist. Use 1/4 cup instead of one egg. Bananas hold baked goods together and add sweetness too. Use one small banana instead of an egg. Flax seeds will bind without the added flavor of apple or banana. Mix one tablespoon of ground flax seeds with three tablespoons of warm water and stir until it gets thick and sticky.

Ener-G Egg Replacer is a powdered product (of potato starch, tapioca and other ingredients) that has leavening properties and is a great egg alternative. 1-1/2 teaspoons of egg replacer and 2 tablespoons of water mixed together is the perfect amount to replace one egg.

Using vegan recipes will help you get the right substitutions and ratios, but after you get the hang of it, you can veganize almost any recipe. Use the ideas on this page from PETA for more substitutes.tofu scramble

Cooking: If you crave scrambled eggs, you can crumble firm tofu into a pan with onion, mushrooms, peppers, or whatever else you’d like. Add the tofu after all the other ingredients are cooked. It doesn’t need to be heated up for long. It’s ready to eat and just needs warming up really.

Tofu is bland, which means you can add your own flavor and color with turmeric, soy sauce and a touch of kala namak (Indian salt that adds an eggy flavor). Add a little Daiya vegan cheese, and you’ll never miss a traditional scramble.

I recently made a grits casserole using tofu instead of eggs and it was great! You can use tofu to make egg salad too.

I made a mock tuna salad using garbanzo beans. It was more like an egg salad. I wasn’t going to fool anyone (it didn’t completely mimic eggs), but it was a very satisfying meal. Veganaise or Nayonaise are great mayo substitutes–for salads or on sandwiches.deviled potatoes

I have yet to make vegan French toast, but I’ve ordered it in restaurants and I know if can be made with a batter of non-dairy milk, flour, cinnamon and sugar.

The heavenly potatoes I make are a delicious devilled egg substitute. If you’re really ambitious, try this version of deviled eggs.

A new product called the Vegg is on the market now. When I try it, I’ll review it here. It’s used to make vegan cakes, custard, French toast and Hollandaise sauce (and more).

More info:

Is there anything egg-related you’re craving? Do you have other egg replacement ideas?

Cheddar beer bread

When I was a university student, I made the easiest bread–but the recipe wasn’t vegan. After going vegan, I missed that bread, but I never thought to veganize it. So imagine my delight when I found a vegan version on the Daiya website.

Here’s what it looks like. Tempted? Read on!

cheddar beer bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 bottle of beer, room temperature (341 mL lager or light ale)
  • 2 tbsp. dairy-free margarine, melted

ingredients

First, preheat your oven to 375 F and grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan. This is a good time to melt the margarine.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl and then stir in the cheese. Pour the bottle of beer into the bowl and stir just until batter is moistened. I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s a vegan beer! Don’t overmix. The batter will be lumpy. That’s okay.

Spread the batter in your loaf pan and pour melted margarine evenly over top.

Bake loaf for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

finished bread

The bread is easy to make, foolproof, and delicious! I ate it with a hearty vegan stew. Perfect for dipping! It’s great on its own too. A yummy snack.

Grits Casserole

When I was in Georgia, I visited the Savannah farmers market, where I bought a bag of grits. Quintessential southern cuisine, I thought. I’d had grits as a kid when I was on a family a road trip through the South. I enjoyed the grits this time too (hubby added salt and margarine, I had mine with agave and a dollop of peanut butter).

grits

The real treat, however, was the recipe for grits casserole that I found on the back of the package. It called for sausage, eggs and two kinds of cheese. I knew I could veganize it. I did, and it was delicious!

The company, Carolina Plantation Rice, carries a lot of great kitchen staples like cornmeal, grits, rice flour and, well, rice. I plan to order some soon. Bonus: They’re a green-certified, renewable-energy company!

My ingredients

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked grits
Half a brick of firm tofu (instead of eggs)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp kala namak (black salt)
2 Field Roast vegan sausages
1/2 cup Daiya vegan Swiss, grated
1 cup Daiya vegan cheddar, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

First I added the cooked grits to a 9″ casserole dish. Then I browned the sausage, broke it up, and added it to the grits.

Field Roast and grits

Next, I drained and crumbled the tofu into a pan and heated it up, while mixing in the turmeric (for flavor and color) and kala namak (for eggy flavor). These last two ingredients weren’t in the original recipe, but it’s what I did to veganize it. Be careful not to overcook the tofu. In theory, it (and the sausage) doesn’t need to be cooked. Field Roast is pre-cooked and tofu is fine in any state. Plus, the whole shebang gets baked anyway.

tofu scramble

Finally, add the Swiss and cheddar, stir, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

grits casserole - before

My husband and I loved this dish! I’m definitely going to make it again soon. It’s almost quiche-like. Next time, I’ll add onion, broccoli and red pepper. And more cheese!

Grits casserole - out of the oven

Have you veganized any recipes lately?

Heavenly potatoes

When a vegan friend of mine told me that she misses deviled eggs, I saw an opportunity. I believe in the saying, “anything you can eat, I can eat vegan” so I set off to find a vegan recipe. Sure enough, I found one on the Post Punk Kitchen–and it’s divine! Maybe these should be called angelic potatoes. No matter what, they’re a fantastic vegan deviled egg alternative.

deviled potatoes

First, I sliced a bunch of baby potatoes in half. I put them on a baking sheet and baked them in a bit of olive oil and salt, flat side down, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I didn’t put them on parchment paper first (like I was supposed to) and they came out slightly crispy.

No worries! As I cut out the centers with a grapefruit knife, I ate, or gave to my dog, the crispy “skins.” I saved the potato “innards” because I needed to add it to the filling.

Filling:

  • 1/2 a cup of cashews, soaked in water for at least two hours
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth (I used 1/2 a bullion cube to make the broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (for flavor and color)
  • 1 teaspoon kala manak black salt (very important if you want an eggy flavor)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon
  • a pinch of black pepper

I drained the cashews and blended them with my electric mixer, along with the broth and tumeric, until it was creamy. I added the lemon, salt and pepper and the potato centers and mixed it well. I chilled the mixture in the fridge for half an hour and then scooped it into the potatoes. If you have a pastry tool, you can get fancy.

deviled potato collage

Finally, top with paprika and a bit of dill.

I brought these to a vegan Christmas dinner and they were a huge hit! We ate them at room temperature while the main dishes–green bean and mushroom casserole, “beef” fried rice, and a fiesta bake with Daiya vegan cheese–were cooking. Everyone loved them an I’ll definitely make them again! I’ll be sure to serve them to my deviled-egg-craving friend too.

Christmas Dinner Collage

To see the original recipe, and pictures of how Isa Chandra made them, check out the details on the PPK.

Vegan alternatives to fish

I’ve found vegan alternatives to most types of meat. We’ve got seitan bacon, veggie burgers and dogs, ground round, chickenless nuggets, Tofurky, deli slices, and “ribs.”

Until recently, I didn’t know of a fish alternative. Sure, I’ve made delicious mock tuna salad, but prepackaged vegan fish? I came up empty-handed.

But then I found a brand called Sophie’s Kitchen at my local Whole Foods. Admittedly, I never was a big seafood (or as I prefer to call it, sealife) eater. Nevertheless, I thought I’d give a few of their products a try. I chose fish sticks, calamari, and crab cakes.

Sophie's Kitchen

Sophie’s Kitchen uses elephant yam root (also called konjac) as the primary ingredient in their products. It’s low-calorie and full of fiber.

I liked the crab cakes the best. They were full of flavor and worked well as one of the items on the dinner plate, along with vegetable fried rice and a little salad. I’ve never had real crab cakes, but my husband has, and he liked these just as much (if not better).

Next up, I tried the fish sticks. They had a mild fishy taste, and I think they made a fine fish stick substitute. They’re easy to prepare and are a fun finger food for kids. Plus, now I can make fish and chips! Trader Joe’s has great fries for the oven.

Finally, I sampled the calamari. I don’t know what calamari is supposed to taste like, and I realize that makes me a horrible reviewer. First impressions: I was surprised that these were “hearty” and a bit chewy. I expected something more like a thin onion ring that falls apart quickly. I liked the breaded coating a lot!

vegan calamari

I’m not sure I’d get the calamari again. I can’t really miss something I’ve never tried. That’s actually why I didn’t buy their shrimp or prawns. But for someone with a hankering for some shrimp, I’d recommend trying it–especially if you make dishes like stir-fries or jambalaya and miss the shrimp. I liked the other two products more, mainly because I can integrate them into my regular cooking.

Harvesting squid, shrimp and some types of cod from the oceans is done with trawling, a process that basically rakes up all life forms the sea floor, killing everything, and creating dead zones. For every one pound of shrimp eaten, 10 pounds of bycatch (species people weren’t trying to catch) are killed.

Farmed fish doesn’t have the bycatch issues but is usually raised in chemically treated water, treated with pesticides, and full of antibiotics. It takes two pounds of wild fish to feed one pound of farmed shrimp.

With that in mind, you can try Sophie’s Kitchen product with a clear conscience.

Making a vegan Egg McMuffin

Da da da da da… I’m lovin’ it!

I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s for eons, but I admit I used to have a weakness for their egg McMuffin. Even after I went vegetarian, I’d order one now and then (and remove the slice of ham).

They might be yummy, but all that ham, cheese and egg is neither cruelty-free nor healthy. So after a bit of Internet research (most of the credit goes to Vegangela), I embarked on a vegan version and look how it turned out:

McMuffin

It was delicious and easy to make. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

  • Whole grain English muffins
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • Tumeric
  • Black pepper
  • Black salt (also called Kala Namak)
  • Daiya vegan cheese
  • Upton Naturals seitan bacon

First, drain the tofu and cut it into slices, about half an inch thick. Use a glass and a knife to cut the slices into a circle (I used the leftovers in a stir fry).

tofu circles

Mix together a bit of turmeric, black salt, and black pepper (I didn’t measure, but you won’t need much–a pinch of each for color and flavor). The black salt has a slightly sulpheric smell, and gives food an eggy flavor. You can find it in Indian grocery stores or online. Rub the mixture on both sides of the tofu.

spicing up the egg

Fry up the “eggs” until warmed.

eggs

Fry up the “bacon” while you toast the muffins. Upton’s makes fantastic seitan bacon–my favorite–but you can use another brand of veggie bacon if you can’t find Upton’s. Or Canadian veggie bacon if you’d like to be more authentic.

Upton's bacon

Slice up the Daiya and assemble the delicious goodness that is the vegan McMuffin.

Daiya

I served mine with a side of home fries and fresh strawberries for a meal even a non-vegan would love!

the final product