What a busy, vegan college student eats . . .

I love to cook and bake, but oftentimes I get too busy to make things that are kind of time-consuming.

I’m a junior in college, and this semester has been especially crazy – I’ve been taking microbiology, anatomy, Scientific Principles of Food, Nutrition Through the Lifecycle, Applied General Nutrition (can you tell I’m a nutrition major?), as well as 4 labs. I feel like I live on campus, even though I commute!

Of course, work just makes everything extra-crazy. I work at a local Dunkin’ Donuts  – the perfect place for a Nutrition major to work, right? At least coffee (which I can’t drink!) has antioxidants, and we offer multi-grain bagels . . .  It’s not really the most vegan-friendly establishment, but it’s not a bad job – although portioning out the meat can be a little . . . disturbing for someone who abstains from animal products. But someday – SOMEDAY – I’ll have a job that I love, although I’m not quite sure what that is yet.

Anyways, back to the topic: what DOES a busy, vegan college student eat? Here’s a list of my favorite super-quick, super-healthy meals and snacks:

Meals – Breakfast
Oatmeal! I cannot say enough good things about oatmeal – especially when I’m feeling a little creative and add a multitude of ingredients to it. Recipes to come.
Tofu Shakes: I use silken tofu as the base of many of my breakfast shakes, and add things like bananas, berries, additional protein powder (if I’m really hungry!), PB2, flavor extracts, etc. etc. Recipes to come.
Chocolate-Covered Katie’s breakfast recipesthis girl is amazing! If you’re staring into your cereal bowl with pure boredom and haven’t checked out her website, PLEASE do; you’ll never look at breakfast the same!
Fruit salad: my favorite combo is 1 apple + 1 pear + 1 banana + lots of strawberries. I usually have this with some Sunwarrior Protein powder (mixed with almond milk, cinnamon, and stevia) to hold me over longer.

Meals – Lunch/Dinner
Impromptu Chinese: I try to ALWAYS have pre-cut, pre-washed frozen veggies in my freezer; tofu and store-bought Chinese sauces – preferably lower-sugar ones; I really like the La Choy Orange Ginger sauce – a little goes a long way! Then, when I want Chinese but am pressed for time (or tired after a long school/work day, I just saute the veggies with soy sauce and a little water in one pan, and heat the tofu with 1-2 TBSP of the sauce in another. It takes maybe a whole 10 minutes, and I have an AWESOME healthy dinner.
Sandwiches: Okay, there are really so many different kinds of sandwiches to make. My favorites are vegan tuna and egg salad (to make an authentic-tasting egg salad, I bought this stuff – it makes the most amazing no-egg salad ever). However, I also love veggie sandwiches. Actually, my VERY favorite (probably not super-substantial, but whatever) sandwich consists of MANY lettuce leaves (like 7-8; I like love lettuce) rolled up in a Joseph’s lavash with my “secret sauce” (2 TBSP Nayonaise + 1 TBSP ketchup + 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning + 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika). Simple. Amazing.
One-Pot Wonders: Crockpot meals are always good – especially stews (I made a beef-less stew with Gardein beef-less tips, carrots, potatoes, and onions – OUT OF THIS WORLD), soups (chunky tomato soup and lentil soup are both yummy), and slow-cooker vegetables.
Homemade Seitan: On a low-key day, make a bunch freeze it up, and you can use it to make sandwiches, stir-fry, or just about any recipe that calls for meat (or something meat-like). It’s really quite easy! Check out my recipe for Smokey Seitan – it’s so good!

Snacks
Fresh fruit
Veggie sticks with hummus, nut/seed butter, or plain
Homemade coleslaw: (recipe near the bottom of the page; I sub agave nectar for the honey and I don’t use the grill seasoning because I never have any) I make a HUGE bowl on low-key days, and it can last for up to a week (unless I decide to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then maybe not as long – it’s that good!)
Salad. I’m a salad addict . . . especially when there’s nutritional yeast on it!
Luna Bars
Pumpkin puree right from the can, mixed with stevia, pumpkin pie spice, and a little almond milk (I’m weird, I know)

Well, that’s all for now – but I WILL be posting more recipes, SOON! I’m done with school in a week and a half . . . get ready for a recipe storm. ;)

Smokey Seitan

seitan-yum

Juicy, meaty, smoky, and satisfying – with no guilt, since no little animals were used to make it.

You’re house will smell like a smokehouse when you make this insanely yummy seitan.

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Don’t let the red juice scare you – it’s just the paprika from the broth!

Please don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients; it’s likely stuff you just have around your house, and it’s mostly spices. It will take about 2 hours or so from start to finish (including prep and clean-up), but a good majority of that time is really just waiting for the seitan to cook. It takes longer than that to roast a turkey! Hand-on time is only about 25-30 minutes.

It really isn’t hard to make your own wheat meat – the biggest challenge is just maintaining the proper balance of wet and dry ingredients. My only advice for this recipe, after “follow it as closely as you can,” is “trust your own judgement” (see paragraph on kneading).

Smoky Seitan – makes about 15 ounces
(Click here for nutrition info, calculated using Calorie Count).

Simmering Broth:
4 cups vegetable broth
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup Bragg’s liquid aminos
3 TBSP molasses
1 TBSP pure maple syrup
2 TBSP minced garlic, jarred or fresh
2 TBSP smoked paprika
2 TBSP liquid smoke
1/2 TBSP salt

Combine all simmering broth ingredients in a large pot, turn on stove to high heat, and cover until boiling. In the meantime, make the gluten mixture:

Gluten Mixture:
Dry
1 1/8 cup vital wheat gluten (I used about 160 grams)
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 TBSP smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Wet
1/4 cup Bragg’s liquid aminos
2 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a glass measuring cup, combine the wet ingredients. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon (NOT A WHISK-the gluten will get all stuck in it) to mix until it’s as incorporated as you can make it; it should almost look like a paste, but it should be sticking together. If there’s a little wheat gluten left in the bowl that wasn’t able to get mixed in with the rest of the gluten, that’s okay (about 1 TBSP of my gluten was left behind). You can then use your hands to knead the gluten “ball” it on the counter or a cutting board for about 3 minutes, until everything is combined. READ BELOW BEFORE KNEADING.

//While you’re kneading:
– If you notice that the mixture is too dry, that’s okay; it is a little tough and hard to knead. However, if it’s ridiculously dry, just sprinkle a teaspoon or so (but NOT too much; see next paragraph) of water over it and continue kneading. Remember: your gluten “ball” won’t look absolutely beautiful while its “raw,” but it will look much nicer after it simmers.
– If your mixture is wet and spongy, it WILL FALL APART in the simmering broth (trust me, I know). So, if water is coming out of the ball as you knead it, you need to sprinkle about 1 TBSP of vital wheat gluten on the gluten ball and another TBSP the surface on which you’re kneading.//

When you’re done kneading, form the gluten unto something like a rectangle, about 4 X 6 inches and 1 1/2 – 2 inches high. Turn the heat of the simmering broth to LOW, carefully put your gluten rectangle into the pot, and replace the lid, keeping it cracked so that steam can escape. Simmer for 45 minutes.

After the 45 minutes, CAREFULLY remove the gluten from the pot and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the gluten into thin slices (see my pictures), about 1/4 inch thick (something like thick strips of bacon). When you can’t cut anymore strips (I couldn’t due to irregular shape of my rectangle), you can just cut  the remaining gluten into chunks, about 2 x 1/2 inch, 1/2 inch thick, or something like that.

Add the strips back to the pot and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Store seitan in its broth in the fridge (I’ve heard that it will keep for about a week) or the freezer.

Pumpkin Pie Layered Oatmeal

It’s staring at you.

My yummy bowl piled deep and wide with layers of fluffy oats-‘n-bran and creamy spiced pumpkin . . .

I present Pumpkin Pie Layered Oatmeal:

SANY0033

You know you want it (despite the fact that it is April).

Do you have oats, pumpkin, milk, and a couple of spices in your cupboard?

Do you have 15 minutes?

Then you can make this!

* * * * *

Serves 1 – click here for nutrition information

Oat layer
1 1/2 cups (360 g) water
1/2 cup (48 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup (15 g) wheat bran
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
a pinch of cinnamon
optional: sweetener to taste  (I used stevia, but you can use any sweetener you want – maple syrup, agave nectar, regular sugar, etc.)

Oat directions: Boil water in a small pan. When it begins to boil, add your oats and bran. Turn the heat to medium and allow the oats to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed (it may look a little soupy in the early stages, but that’s okay; the water WILL get soaked up!). Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait that long for the oats to cook, you could reduce the water to 1 cup (240 g) and keep an eye on the oats (I’d guess they’d be done in about 5-6 minutes). When the oats are done cooking, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, cinnamon, and sweetener (if using). Set aside.

Pumpkin layer
3/4 cup (180 g) pure pumpkin puree
1/4 cup (60 g) milk of choice (I used flax seed milk)
a pinch or so (to taste) of each of the following spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
optional: sweetener to taste

Pumpkin directionsCombine all ingredients in a blender (I used my Magic Bullet) and blend until well combined. If you don’t have/don’t want to use a blender/Magic Bullet, you could put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until they’re well combined.

To assemble, simply layer the oats and pumpkin alternately in a bowl or parfait glass (I got about 3 layers of oats and 4 layers of pumpkin). Enjoy – preferably with a cup of tea. ;)

Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese

You may have noticed that tofu seems to be a popular ingredient in many of my recipes. Well, that’s because I LOVE tofu. I also love coconut. In this recipe, you’ll find BOTH of these ingredients. Even if you don’t like either, never fear: you may still like this recipe, as it doesn’t really taste like coconut or tofu, rather a wonderful different flavor.

Tofutti – or rather, not buyingTofutti – inspired me to make create this “cream cheese” recipe. The only kind of Tofutti available in my area is loaded with trans fats and artificial ingredients . . . not exactly what I’d like to put into my body. My recipe is smooth and spreadable, and it works well in my “cheesecake” recipes (soon to come!). However, it does not have the exact same creaminess or super-firm texture that commercial vegan cream cheeses have; I still have to work on the creamy factor. The good news is, there’s no hydrogenated oils, weird fats, or artificial ANYTHING in this recipe, and it takes about ten minutes to make. So it’s a good starting point. Oh, and it tastes pretty much amazing. Interested?

“What does it taste like?” you ask. Well . .  . it has a hint of buttery coconut flavor, but it’s not too detectable. It tastes a bit like tofu (since that’s what it’s mostly made up of!), but in a delicious, jazzed-up kind of way. The texture is kind of similar to ricotta as well. In a lot of ways, the taste reminds me of cream cheese – you can smear on a cracker, dip veggies in it, or go really crazy and add fresh basil and nutritional yeast to it to make a delicious spread. Personally, I think that a dollop of this stuff is just heavenly on a ripe strawberry.

Oh, and did I mention that this stuff has only 20 calories per tablespoon? So feel free to load it on whatever you’d normally put cream cheese on. You’ll feel like a cheater, only you won’t actually be cheating. Seriously, you’ll have to try it for yourself! The recipe:

Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese – Makes about 2 1/2 cups (20 oz.)

1 14 package firm or extra firm (lite or regular; I use Nasoya Light Firm Tofu)

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBSP lemon juice

1 TBSP agave nectar

60g* raw, unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut -or- 4 TBSP coconut butter (such as Artisana or homemade, à la Chocolate Covered Katie)

6 TBSP non-dairy yogurt (I use Silk Live! Plain)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until well combined and creamy (it is possible to make the cream cheese more creamy than mine, which were a tad lumpy in the pictures). Although it can be eaten immediately, chill before using for best results.

*I gave this measurement in grams because, depending on the size of the coconut (finely shredded, flaked, etc).), a measured amount could vary. If you do not have a kitchen scale to measure grams, use about ¾ cup of shredded coconut – just be sure NOT to pack it. I tend to use kitchen scales for many recipes, as I feel that they are more accurate and provide consistent results. They are available for as little as $10-15 at common stores such as Walmart.

Virgin Rose Cocktail

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One of the prettiest ways to serve a drink woud have to be in the form of a cocktail. There’s just something about a clear glass filled with a simple (or complex!) drink, garnished with fruit or berries, herbs or vegetables, etc. etc. I personally like mildly sweet, fruity drinks. However, being underage (with less than a year to go!), I will have to settle with virgin drinks – which is fine by me because I can drink them at any time of day, during any activity. It works.

What’s great about THIS particular drink is its sophistication; you won’t even miss the booze a single bit. The lemon is tart, the rose adds a lovely floral note, and the pink color . . . well, it’s just lovely, that’s what! In fact, I think I’ll make one of these later on today:

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Virgin Rose Cocktail ~ Serves 1

1/2 cup water (preferable distilled or purified, for a cleaner taste)

1 large, ripe strawberry*

2 TBSP lemon juice

1/2 – 1 TBSP agave nectar, to taste (you could also try substituting liquid sugar, stevia, or monk fruit extract)

1-2 drops (scant 1/16 tsp.) rose water

1 small strawberry, for decoration

In a small blender or Magic Bullet, blend the water with the large strawberry, until strawberry chunks cannot be seen (or are incredibly tiny). UNLESS YOU LIKE PULP, strain mixture into a liquid measuring cup (or cocktail shaker; I just use a measuring cup), and discard strawberry pulp (I’m personally not fond of pulp, so I strain; if you like it, by all means, keep it in! :)). Add lemon juice, rose water, and sweetener to the strawberry-water mixutre, and stir/shake well. Transfer to a cocktail glass and serve with a small strawberry for decoration. Enjoy!

*Substitution Note: The strawberry is used purely for color, so if you don’t have any strawberries, it’s fine to omit without it affecting the flavor. Alternately, if you have another red fruit on hand, such as cherries, raspberries, or even pomegranite, you can use them in the same way. Also, a splash of vibrant-red juice – such as black cherry, beet, or pomegranite – could be used to lend a pink hue to the drink. A drop of all-natural or organic food dye could work here, too.

Sweet ‘n Sour Stir-fry – With a Lime-y Twist

Sweet ‘n Sour. Mmmm . . . such a delicious combination. When I got home from work today, I was craving the flavors of my favorite Chinese dish. I have a bottle of sweet ‘n sour sauce in my pantry, but unfortunately, it has a flavor reminiscent of Spaghetti-O’s – yummy in their own right (though I have not eaten them in years), but definitely NOT a flavor to be desired in a Chinese dish! What I DID have was a bottle of Maple Groves Wasabi Dijon dressing. Weeks ago, I had the idea to mix a bit of the Wasabi Dijon with some lime juice, and noticed that it had a similar taste to a sweet ‘n sour dish; fortunately, I remembered to use the two together today – and the results were nothing short of amazing (at least to my tastebuds!).

I also made a quick cauliflower-golden beet “rice,” sprinkled with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, to serve alongside the main dish.

About halfway through the meal, I mixed the “rice” into the tofu mixture, and it reminded me a bit of fried rice. Is it terrible that, before I was even finished eating, I was already planning to make it again? Yes, it’s good. If you’d like the recipe, here you go!

Sweet ‘n Sour Stir-Fry and “Rice” ~ Serves 1

Cauliflower-Golden Beet “Rice:

1 small golden beet, ends removed (peeling optional)

4 oz cauliflower

Grate beet with a cheese grater and put into a small mixing bowl. Chop the cauliflower into tiny pieces (see picture), and add to the beets. Toss together, and sprinkle with soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, if desired. Set aside.

Sauteed Veggies:

6 oz. eggplant, cut into bit-size pieces

5 oz. button mushrooms, sliced

2 oz. broccoli

2 oz. cauliflower

3 TBSP water

Sautee veggies in water over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 7-8 minutes, or until tender. While veggies are sauteeing, prepare tofu and sauce. When veggies are finished cooking, remove from heat and place a lid over the top.

Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce & Tofu:

1/2 cup Maple Groves Wasabi Dijon dressing (yes, you’ll need this much; there are many veggies to be smothered in it!)

1/4 cup key lime juice

1 TBSP corn starch

8 oz tofu (I used Nasoya Light Firm)

Combine first three ingredients in a sauce pan, and whisk well to incorperate the corn starch. Heat over high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens a bit. Add tofu and cook over low-medium heat for 2 minutes. While the sauteed veggies are still in the pan that was used to cook them, pour sweet ‘n sour mixture over the top, and stir so that all of the veggies get coated with the sauce.

Enjoy!

~SMS

No-Cook Stuffed Portabellas with Homemade Sauce

I love going grocery shopping; I find it fun to roam about the produce section, imagining what sorts of delicious foods I can create with the various colorful, fresh ingredients. Yesderday was one of those occasions: From a local farm stand, I bought red and golden beets (three bunches all together!), cucmber, and 3 different varieties of eggplant. I have plans for that eggplant in one of tomorrow’s meals . . .

Later, at some local grocery stores, I went crazy: For fruit, I bought a couple each of peaches, pluots, plums, and Pink Lady apples, as well as strawberries, and blueberries. For vegetables, I bought a head of cauliflower, an acorn squash, a bulb of fennel, a head of cabbage, spring mix, and a bunch of other things. Oh, and cashews. I’ve been wanting to get some of those . . .

But I’m probably boring you to death with my love of fruits and veggies. Getting to the main point: I bought a giant, 1/2 pound Portabella mushroom cap. Not to mention basil (and mint, but that’s not important right now), spinach, and tofu – three key ingredients in this afternoon’s lunch.

The green filling was made with tofu, fresh basil, spinach, and garlic, while the chunky red sauce was made with plain tomato sauce, mushroom, basil, red wine, and spices. The vibrant red sauce streaked over the top of the aforementioned fillings (as well as on the plate!) was just the plain tomato sauce; I just thought that it looked pretty! It was good . . .

If you like mushrooms, tofu, italian food, basil, or any combination of those ingredients, you may very well like this recipe:

No-Cook Stuffed Portabellas with Homemade Sauce

1 large portabella mushroom with stem OR 1 large stemless portabella mushroom and 2-3 baby bellas

Green Filling:

6 oz tofu

1/4 cup fresh basil, packed

1/2 cup baby spinach, packed

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp minced garlic

salt, to taste

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. Alternately, a blender woud probably work as well. Set aside.

Mushroom-Wine Red Sauce:

1/3 plain, unseasoned tomato sauce

Stem from the portabella OR the 2-3 baby bellas

1 TBSP red wine

1 TBSP fresh basil, packed

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

1 – 1 1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp lemon juice

salt, to taste

In a small food processor, combine all ingredients and process until mostly smooth, but a little chunky. Alternately, a blender woud probably work as well. Set aside.

To assemble: Place mushroom bottom-side up on a plate, and fill completely with the green filling. Spoon the mushroom-wine red sauce over the green filling on half of the mushroom, so that the green filling is still visible. If desired, use additional plain tomato sauce for decoration. Add spinach leaves, and if you wish, sprinkle with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast. Enjoy!

~SMS