When we first went into Colorado during our journey, we headed straight for the Mountain ExtraVEGANza hosted by Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary and Piante Pizzaria. Here, we heard stories of how they rescued animals and how these very animals were being treated at farms. We also saw examples of some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and it was VEGAN and PIZZA! Before we visited, we had been vegetarian for health reasons but also to really push our dollars in the direction we’d like to see our civilization progress. After hearing their stories and tasting the amazing possibilities of vegan foods, my mouth waters for that mushroom pizza; all collectively pushed us into actually becoming vegan. Finding the meals to replace the cravings you seek, especially cheese, is key in keeping these new habits in order to restructure our foundations of eating.
Here are some of the meals we prepare often in order to keep ourselves healthy. These are easy to make and taste very good. The biggest improvement is not feeling bloated after you eat but instead just feeling the satisfaction of being full.
Fried Tofu – Ingredient List
- Extra Firm Tofu
- Olive or Canola Oil
- Hot Sauce
- Vegan Mayo
- Garlic Powder
- Sage Powder
- Ginger Powder
Fried Tofu – Cooking Instructions
Prep your tofu – You want to make sure that you first drain you tofu using a tofu press. If you don’t have a tofu press, you can makeshift a nice one like they do on YouTube. Leaving your tofu here for about 15 minutes to make sure the water drains out. Thereafter, you can cut small cubes from the block which you can then coat in the cornstarch. Caroline has come up with the great method of using a bowl with a lid filled with cornstarch and several cubes to shake allowing all surfaces to be covered by the starch. This is important for maximum crispiness.
Cooking your tofu – Filling a pan with 1/4 inch of oil and preheating it is important. Allow a minute or two for this preheating to happen so the starch doesn’t stick to the pan, otherwise things will get messy. After preheating, place the cubes in the pan and flip after 1 -2 minutes. After another couple of minutes check to see once the bottom side is crispy yellow, then flip again. Cook until you see this last side turn slightly yellow, but not too dark and then start removing the cubes onto a paper towel covered plate. This helps soak out any extra oil. Let sit for a minute, remove the oil from the pan and turn off the heat.
Finishing and serving your tofu– Mixing about one or two tablespoons of vegan mayo, teaspoon of olive oil, teaspoon of hot sauce, garlic, sage, and ginger powders to make a small batch of sauce by stirring. Those powders are hard to go over on so chose your liking. You can pour the cubes back into the pan and then place the sauce over them stirring in the heated pan. You can also serve it dry and sauce it in a salad or pasta sauce.
This tofu can be paired with pasta, salads, rice, beans, and other sides as a meat replacement to create a well rounded meal. You want to ideally add a bit more protein elsewhere in your meal as well.. It has great texture, crunchiness, and is filling. I do recommend not letting it soak in the sauce until you are ready to eat to keep the tofu from getting soggy and keeping it crispy. Adding no sauce and putting into pasta sauce keeps it nice and crunchy as well. Eating half of this block of tofu gets you 20g of protein. We cook an entire block at a time and usually eat half a block per person.
Our next segment goes into additional proteins and replacement proteins for our cooking. Using plant based pastas that have different types of proteins will allow our bodies to attain all of the amino acids necessary for thriving. Some proteins don’t have all of these properties so it’s essential we are aware of what we intake in order to produce clean and efficient energy within our own bodies. Let’s see some meat replacements next.
Plant Based Pasta
There are many plants that are being made into pasta including chickpea, lentil, and even mixtures of different vegetables. The best approach is to intake different types of these proteins in order for your body to intake the variety of amino acids required.
Plant-based proteins that do meet the requirements for essential amino acids include soy (27%), brown rice (28%), pea (30%), corn (32%), and potato (37%)NIH – National Library of Medicine – Amino Acids
We normally get lentil and chickpea pasta as they not only taste great but fulfill a great chunk of our protein requirements. While traveling, we sometimes find it hard to actually get that type of pasta so we sometimes settle for other kinds of pasta as well like pictured here.
With a 42g of additional protein per box of pasta, which we usually eat almost an entire box per dinner meal, would add 21g per person making a 41g of protein meal. With this pasta, sometimes we like to add an alternative meat solution in order to bring in some of that old meat like texture and umami flavor. This has been done with Beyond Burger for us.
Alternative Meat Solutions – Beyond Burger Pasta Sauce
We personally like Beyond Burger better than Impossible not only because of the taste but also the type of protein. The only thing I dislike about these solutions is the saturated fat you find in them . Oddly, this one pasta variant has much lower saturated fat (almost zero?) than the block solution as pictured here. The beef crumbles taste great and provide 70g of protein per bag. We get the red bag where we find it! BEYOND MEAT ARE YOU LISTENING!? We can’t always find it.
Beyond Burger Pasta Sauce Ingredients
- Beyond Beef Crumbles or Ground Meat (Vegan) [Impossible version is ok too]
- Pasta Sauce
- Riced Cauliflower or Broccoli
Optional Spicing / Saucing
- Garlic Powder
- Garlic Clove
- Sage Powder
- Ginger Powder
- Turmeric Powder
- Cumin Powder
Beyond Burger Pasta Sauce Instructions
We first start off with a small amount of oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan, and low heat. If you’d like, you can take a clove or five of garlic and pre fry them in the pan. Letting them crisp up, even get a little burnt, let’s the flavor melt into the oil and release some garlic flavor–yum. Next, we add in the zucchini chopped up into little whole or half dollars, as you like. You want them not too thick so they do cook a little. After flipping them over for a couple of minutes, add your Beyond Meat of choice and stir well as it starts to fry. Make sure to thoroughly thaw your ground block before cooking but the crumbles you can throw right in.
After about a minute of stirring our meat into the pan with oil, I like to add in our sauce to slow down the cooking and allow flavors to seep in. Stirring the mixture together I then start to add some spices. Oregano, basil, sage powder, ginger, turmeric, and cumin. About a teaspoon of each except oregano, sage, and ginger which get a generous serving. Once I’ve mixed this in and the sauce starts to boil, the riced cauliflower or brocoli can be thrown in. This is normally frozen and its best to either break up the giant chunk by shashing it inside its packaging before opening or letting it thaw.
Letting this mixture cook on low heat in the pot, stirring every 30 seconds to keep the bottom from sticking, it should be done within about 5 to 7 minutes. I let this sauce sit in the pan with the heat off as I finish off the pasta as the heat really seeps in and needs time to cool before eating. This sauce can be a great leftover specialty for next day pasta re-heat and meal preps!
Of course, you can add more to these recipes but these are meant to be achievable and every day cooking. Things to make it easy to go into the vegan eating lifestyle while staying healthy and avoid fatty meals. Next time, we will be addressing some lunch and breakfast meals so we can really hit the entire day. Make sure to follow along, eat healthy and drink more water!