vegan diet

old saint patrick the brit / spinach tempeh burgers

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DSC_0227In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, I will supply you with a green recipe – not just in color, but in healthy plant-powered goodness! But first, a little history on our good friend Pat. Did you know that he wasn’t even Irish? He was a Brit who was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish pagans, but apparently he came to like his captors and, when he escaped, vowed to return. Fast forward thirty years and old Pat had become a Christian, converting people left and right, and was ultimately responsible for converting that little island called Ireland to Catholicism. So in homage to this great non-Irishman, we drink copious amounts of alcohol, dance around with shamrocks on our heads and pretend to be Irish. God, I love holidays…

Now that you understand the meaning of Saint Patrick’s Day so well, why not show your Irish pride by whipping up some spinach tempeh burgers? Tempeh is made from fermented whole soybeans, and is one of the best ways to consume soy because the fermentation process breaks down some of the phytic acid found in unfermented soy (like tofu). This is beneficial for maximum nutrient absorption and healthy digestion, not to mention you’ll be getting a truckload of protein! Combined with brown rice, toasted sunflower seeds, and spinach and you’ll be satiated until that drunken 2am I-need-food-to-absorb-some-of-this-guinness attack.

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DSC_0235Spinach Tempeh Burgers

1 T cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 package tempeh, crumbled (I recommend SoyBoy)

1 small onion, diced

3 T dried herb seasoning (I recommend Penzey’s Bouquet Garni, or a mixture of savory, rosemary, thyme, Turkish oregano, basil, dill weed, marjoram, sage and tarragon)

Pinch of chili powder

2 tsp garlic powder or 4 cloves minced garlic

Generous splash of white wine, any variety

1 tsp tamari

1/2 cup + stock (I recommend Imagine Foods No-Chicken Stock)

Pinch of smoked sea salt (optional, but delicious – I recommend alder smoked sea salt)

1 tsp arrowroot powder

2 cups packed baby spinach leaves

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Handful of nutritional yeast

3/4 cup short grain brown rice, cooked in 2 cups of stock

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds + 2 T, toasted

1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (to coat patties)

Add brown rice and stock to a saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down flame and simmer for about 40 minutes. In a big saute pan (I use cast iron), heat oil over medium flame and add onions. Cook until soft, about 2 minutes, then stir in crumbled tempeh, chili powder, herbs, and garlic powder. Cook for another 4 minutes or so, until tempeh is beginning to brown. Now deglaze with a sizable splash of wine, carefully scraping up any pieces of tempeh that might have become stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add tamari, stock, and smoked sea salt, then stir to incorporate into mixture. Add more stock if needed (you want to almost submerge the mixture in liquid). Dump spinach on top of bubbling tempeh and lower the flame to a lively simmer. Once half of the liquid has been absorbed, stir and add nutritional yeast and cooked brown rice. Turn off flame and set aside.

Toast sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over low heat until brown and fragrant. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt. Pour 1/4 cup of seeds into a food processor along with tempeh mixture, and pulse about 20 times, or until mixture is combined but still has texture. Pour into a mixing bowl and add remaining sunflower seeds. Time permitting, allow burger mixture to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Form into patties, then coat with flour. In a saute pan, heat 2 T refined coconut oil over a medium high flame. Add patties (depending on size of pan, you may have to do this in batches). Cook until brown and crispy on bottom side, then flip and repeat, until both sides are golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. To serve, toast some whole grain sprouted bread or lay atop a bed of greens with your favorite burger toppings! I recommend pickles, avocado and dijon mustard. Makes enough for 6-8 drunken unicorns guilty of using Saint Patty’s Day as an excuse to get inebriated.DSC_0246

protein & the vegan elephant in the room / soba noodle veggie bowl in coconut ginger broth

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“How do you get your protein?” says everyone I’ve spoken to about veganism, ever. Yes, it’s repetitive and sometimes I have to find my happy place (translation: sparkly cave with unicorns) before I can calmly reply without cursing the popular media, western doctors and nutritionists across the globe that have brainwashed our culture into equating veganism with kwashiorkor syndrome. “Wait, what is that?” asks those same people. Oh, never heard of it? I respond coyly. Hmm, maybe that’s because it’s the name for severe protein deficiency and it’s never been documented in this country. Hooray! If you’re vegan or vegetarian you will survive after all! I don’t mean to sound cynical, and at one time I asked the same question to my sister when she first went vegan. Unfortunately, It’s the result of repeated whisperings that blow into our innocent ears from social media, parents, doctors, pretend doctors, and friends that over time harden into an accepted truth without personal investigation. It’s the same reason you think that milk is good for your bones, that cane sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup, that meat is the richest protein & B12 source on the planet, and that all soy is bad for you and will cause breast cancer. In a nutshell, you can thank the meat & dairy industries for brainwashing you, little by little, through clever advertising that we don’t even realize is affecting our opinions. So instead of marketing propaganda, let’s turn to plain old common sense.

Take a look at our fellow plant-based animal friends: elephants, giraffes, gorillas, bison, and hippos. These are some of the largest and strongest mammals on the planet, but they don’t look like they’re having any problems with protein intake do they? Gorilla5

And it just so happens that vegetables and grains are chock full of protein: spinach, broccoli, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, lentils, oatmeal, whole grain breads, cacao, quinoa, seitan, beans, and artichokes to name a few! In fact, nearly all vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts contain protein in them. Fruits, alcohol and sugars on the other hand, are low in protein so if you plan on being an alcoholic fruitarian, then yeah, you’ll risk becoming deficient in protein (and friends), but if you eat lots of vegetables and whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds you’ll be a veggie-powered superhuman! So next time someone asks you where you get your protein, gently point out the literal vegan elephant in the room…

Now that you’re armed with confidence and gorilla strength about your protein intake, why not rub it in a little more and make a cozy, protein-filled soba noodle bowl in a coconut peanut broth! Peanut butter, chickpeas, broccoli and whole grain soba noodles are great sources of protein. This dish is perfect on a day like today – a freshly snowed, gray skied wintry heaven.
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Veggie Soba Noodle Bowl with Coconut-Peanut Sauce

1 package soba noodles (I recommend Eden)

1 T refined coconut oil

1 small yellow onion or 4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 inch knob of ginger root, peeled

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 head of broccoli, chopped

1 T mirin

1 T tamari or shoyu

2 tsp brown rice vinegar

1 T maple syrup

1 can coconut milk 

1/4 cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter

1 aseptic package or can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper

Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Top with sriracha or favorite hot sauce (optional)

Cook soba noodles according to package directions in a large pot of salted, gently boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside. In a deep saute pan, heat coconut oil on medium to high heat, and add onions or scallions. Cook for a few minutes, then add garlic and use a microplane grater to add ginger knob. Toss in broccoli, peppers, and carrot and continue to saute until veggies are bright and beginning to soften. Deglaze with mirin and use a wooden spoon to scrap up any pieces of food stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the coconut milk in and bring to a lively simmer, then reduce heat to low and add brown rice vinegar, tamari, maple syrup, peanut butter, chickpeas and chili powder. Simmer and stir occasionally until ingredients are well mixed and peanut butter has melted into the coconut broth. Remove from flame and toss mixture with soba noodles and cilantro. Drizzle with sriracha or hot sauce. Makes enough for 4 unicorns with shiny, flowing manes and rippling muscles from their protein fabulous vegan diets.

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