Weird But Good Vegan Recipes: Spicy Tofu & Sauerkraut

Let’s keep it real, when it comes to cooking not every meal can be a gourmet masterpiece or the very definition of healthy and nutritious. We hope for one of those of two, but sometimes you just want what you want. Right?

That’s pretty much how this easy vegan meal came about. I felt like having something spicy but I didn’t want to go crazy with calories and I didn’t want to make something that would cost too much time in the kitchen because I was furiously trying to get my book properly formatted so the paperback could be completed.

Update/Shameless promotion: How Could I Forget is finally ready to order in paperback and digital!

Luckily for me, I found some leftover sauerkraut and decided…why the heck not? I love sauerkraut actually. I spent a part of my childhood in Wisconsin where I experienced many Oktoberfest celebrations and learned a lot about German and Polish culture. Then, I went on to spend about 8 years living in Germany, so yeah, sauerkraut is my jam! But, I’ve never used it out side of my seitan & kraut style recipes. So I did what any internet savvy home cook does, I consulted Google to find out other ways to use sauerkraut and what to pair it with.

Turns out, it makes an excellent side dish, with only a little prep time.

Since we’ve talked so much about the kraut, let’s start with that. I like to rinse it a little just so the taste isn’t quite so vinegar-y, then drain and set aside. Chop up one onion and a few cloves of garlic to saute (in oil or water) and when they start to crisp and turn brown, add the kraut. Cook until warm OR you can just turn off the stove and stir together if you want the full health benefits of fermented foods.

While the onions & garlic are cooking, you should re-hydrate your soya (TVP) if that’s what you’re using because that’s why I used in this easy vegan recipe, but you can always use whatever vegan protein floats your boat. I used the big pieces because there’s a lot of surface to cover in yummy spicy sauce and because I wanted a reason to break out my new air fryer!

While the soy chunks are in the air fryer, I added a bunch of spices to a bowl along with soy sauce and just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste/sauce that would work for a tossed coating. My spices: smoky & spicy paprika, garlic granules, ground ginger, harissa powder, piri piri, turmeric and cumin. When the timer beeps, remove the crispy vegan tofu wings and toss in the spice mixture.

If you’re my kind of vegan home cook and you tend to make foods a little on the spicier side, consider adding a cooling sauce for those in your home who don’t love spicy vegan foods the way you do.

I opted for a veggiegurt sauce with lemon juice, cumin, parsley and oregano. The hubs said it helped with the heat…a lot.

If you’re in the market for quick and easy vegan recipes, you will be happy to know that this recipe took about 30 minutes and that includes entering the ingredients into Cronometer.

What do you like to pair with your vegan hot wings?

A Vegan Twist on Twice Baked Potatoes & Cheesy Broccoli

People always ask me if I feel like I’m missing on out something because I don’t eat or use any products derived from animals. It’s as if they think Beyond Burger doesn’t exist, or tofu or seitan or tempeh. Or vegetables and grains, beans…legumes.

I think I’ve made my point here, right?

The truth is that trying to lose weight can often be super restrictive, but not on a #vegan diet. You see, I can request that the Hubs whip up twice baked potatoes and feel confident that he can bring the meal in under 600 calories because there is no animal cheese, no bacon, no butter…no dairy to increase my inflammation and my butt size.

Now if you’re a particularly determined vegan, then yeah, you can make this as calorie crazy as the animal eaters. But why would you want to?

The best thing about a recipe like this is that it is incredibly easy to customize. Rather than going for vegan bacon, we opted for sauteed onions de-glazed with balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of smoky paprika and you’ll get that smoky flavor you think you need with bacon, vegan or otherwise.

For the broccoli, just steam or boil for 3 to 5 minutes and then give an ice bath to keep it bright green and beautiful. The cheese is a simple almond milk, corn starch, mustard, nutritional yeast and vegan cheese sauce. It’s quick thanks to the cornstarch, which is also why you don’t need to had several fist fulls of cheese. I learned my lesson from this calorie bomb masquerading as #vegan mac & cheese.

As you can see, the plate was a lot lighter than it usually is which is how he managed to make it tasty and calorie friendly.

This is one of the key points we all need to remember when we enjoy indulgent meals like this, the best way to not go overboard is to make sure you adhere to serving sizes. I would have loved a bigger portion of this, but the medium dress I just bought reminds me why I skip it!

Here’s my tip for enjoying this cheesy vegan dish: eat it on your workout day!

Any vegan cheese recommendations? I’m always in search of something new so tell me, what’s new in your part of the vegan world?

Fast & Easy Roasted Veggie & Tofu Dip

One of the first things I had to learn to do when I began my health and weight loss journey was to find healthier ways to enjoy a snack here and here. We’re humans, at least that’s what I keep telling my husband I am, and snacking is sometimes inevitable. But instead of using a heap of coconut oil to make too much popcorn on a daily basis, or my absolute favorite, salt & vinegar chips…or anything that you should be having in moderation, I decided you can’t go wrong with dips.

My favorite vegan dip is hummus but some day really soon I’m going to share my newest obsession, falafel dip so you can see just how yummy it is. But today we’re not talking beans, we are talking vegetables.

My original plan had been to make spinach artichoke dip because the Hubs had been asking for it for a while so I bought frozen spinach, got some red peppers to roast up and prepared all of my ingredients…only to realize the jar of artichoke hearts had gone bad.

Take two.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that spinach is not my most favorite vegetable of all time. It’s not even my favorite of the dark leafy green family. At best I would say that I tolerate spinach because of it’s many health benefits, so the idea of a mostly spinach dip was…no bueno. So I had to improvise with sauteed onions, bell pepper, garlic and scallions. There may even be a carrot in there, I’m not sure at this point.

With my veggies sauteed and cool I added the thawed spinach and set aside.

It was time to assemble.

For the main part of this vegan vegetable dip, you’ll need tofu in brine. Because it is easily available here, I go for Inedit brand but feel free to use what you prefer or what’s available in your area. Cut up the brick of tofu and pop it into a food processor with roasted garlic and scallions. Run until you get the dip texture you’re looking for and then fold it in to the sauteed veggies.

A few of the spices I added include: smoky paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, curry, ground fennel and chili powder plus a pinch (or two) of nutritional yeast flakes for that cheesy umami flavor.

Next comes the vegan cheese! Sprinkle as little or as much as you need for your dip, just make sure you measure it out first.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C/400°F for 25 to 45 minutes, until it is crisp and bubbly on the edges and slightly brown on top.

As you can see I added some extra smoky paprika to the top because I just can’t get enough of the stuff!

Because of the current state of the world, I didn’t want to run around to a bunch of grocery stories in search of pita breads so I improvised with flour tortilla shells. Next time, I plan to go for corn tortilla chips in lieu of pita. What’s your favorite dip vessel?

Of course we had to pair it with an icy cocktail.

I made a white wine sangria with mint, lemon and lime. It was…okay. I’m not a fan of white wine but it was a nice lesson learned…and my mother-in-law loved the cocktail. And she ‘really liked’ the dip.

It’s a start, right? What other dips would you like to see?

 

Beyond Animal Fries!!!

Happy 2020!! Things have been crazy around here with editing my book, sending it out to beta readers and all of that, so I’ve been neglecting The Spicy Spatula terribly. I hope you’re still around and ready for another year of easy, healthy, vegan home cooking.

I spent nearly a decade living in Los Angeles and I even ate at In n Out burger a few times, but I must admit that I’ve never eaten their animal fries. I wasn’t on a health kick and I wouldn’t go vegan for nearly a decade. The truth is that it was one of my least favorite fast food restaurants, which is saying something because I pretty much dislike them all, and so I didn’t explore their menu as much as I might have.

But recently I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with Beyond Burger, chickpeas, tofu and dehydrated soy protein and I figured it was time that I added a few not so healthy recipes to this site…right?

So today we’re having vegan animal style fries made with, (drum roll please), the Beyond Burger!

One of the things I always have to check myself on is trying to be too strict with a recipe. There are a lot of ingredients in animal fries and I don’t know about you, but my weight loss goals can’t take it and this dish is super delicious, but it ain’t worth all that. My point is to go as far as you’re comfortable going and stop there.

For example I kept the fries but I baked them because I always do. This is partially for health reasons but mostly it’s because I’m lazy and I hate to deep fry things. And my tiny Euro-kitchen has no room for anything as big as a fritteuse (that’s German for deep fryer!).

So for my vegan animal fries I used:

Potatoes, 2 Beyond Burger patties, onions, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno peppers, veggiegurt (vegan yogurt), Sriracha, lime juice, cumin, pickles and herbs & spices. And that’s it, your ingredient list.

Once the Beyond Burger is thawed, I just diced it in a grid fashion because once you toss it in the skillet you can break it apart with a wooden spoon. I added the onions and bell peppers first because the burger “meat” cooks very fast and then added the garlic and burgers at the same time.

Tip: Don’t add oil to the skillet since the burger will release a ton of it during cooking!

When you season this, add burger-seasonings like Worcestershire, cumin powder, smoked paprika and garlic granules. It’ll give you the flavor you’re looking for.

Your potatoes are baking in the oven and your toppings are just about done, which means it is time to make the sauce!

Take a pickle or two and finely dice it up along with a few slices of jarred jalapeno peppers, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, and measure out your veggiegurt. Stir and you’ve got a fun sauce for your vegan animal fries.

If you love spicy foods like I do or if you’re just feeling adventurous, add more diced jalapeno peppers on top and enjoy!

And if you feel inclined, wash it down with an ice cold beverage. I opted for water but I’d love to hear/see what you’d pair with this plate.

Quick & Easy Vegan Dips

Things have been a little hectic around here because–yay!!!!–I’ve finally finished my next novel. I’m feeling good but that’s only the first step so my work load had kind of tripled so I’m keeping today’s post pretty simple.

Dips, for me, are the perfect low calorie snack that can easily be made to fit a vegan diet. I never really gave dips much thought when I consumed animals or really until I started taking my weight loss seriously. But in my search for something more than salt & vinegar potato chips which are my absolute favorite to eat when I get a snack attack, I turned more and more to vegan dips.

I’ve got two easy dips, a garlicky hummus and a anti-pasti dip.

These recipes are really easy as long as you have a semi-decent food processor, and you can mix up herbs and spices to your own liking and play with them as you get more comfortable making them.

For the hummus, drain a can of chickpeas (or grab 2 cups of cooked dry beans) and rinse them, setting aside the liquid in case you need it to thin out the dip later. Add in any of the following: tahini paste (I think this is a must but do what you like), 1 head of roasted garlic, pine nuts, roasted red pepper, a few drops of hot sauce, 1/2 lemon, juiced, and run it until smooth. Add salt, pepper and cumin powder. I also added some tikka masala pepper powder for some extra smokiness.

Season it until you’re satisfied, adding water if you want a thinner hummus that’s perfect for dipping.

The anti-pasti dip, as named by me, was kind of an on the fly thing. The hummus was made and I had quite a bit of roasted red pepper left over, which got me to thinking what else could throw together for a–likely–delicious dip?

From the fridge, I grabbed: capers, black olives, green olives, basil leaves, scallions and garlic.

Toss everything in the food processor and pulse until the pieces are nice and small. Keep going if you want a full-on paste, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Season it to taste and top with a swirl of balsamic vinegar. And the best part? It’s less than 60 calories per 100 grams, which is a snack-a-licious dip that puts a smile on my face.

Now let’s talk about dippers, what do you prefer? I like crackers, just about any kind but my favorite are the regular unsalted Saltine crackers. But I also like water crackers, rice crisps and all the rest. Carrots and celery also make excellent dippers. Or pita bread. Naan bread. Sandwich bread even, if you toast it up a little.

My husband will tell you that you can eat dip with a spoon but if you listen to him then you’d both be wrong.

Happy dipping!