Cheesy Vegan Tofu Scramble

When people find out I don’t eat meat, the most common question I get asked is “how do you get your protein?”  Once people discover that I pretty much don’t eat dairy either, the next question is asked with the same suspicious voice that detectives probably use to interrogate criminals, “but…how do you live without cheese?”

The answer is ever-changing, because I like to switch it up.

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Variety is the spice of life, no?

I usually mess with a lot of tofu, tempeh, beans, and quinoa.

Most of the time I prepare this low-fat protein source by marinating it and putting it into a stir fry…I’m sure I’ll post that recipe at some point because it’s so easy and a go-to mid-week meal I often resort to.  However, this traditional breakfast recipe is one that you can actually eat for any meal.  One of the many advantages a tofu scramble has over a regular ole egg scramble is that the tofu will keep for several days but would anyone enjoy leftover eggs 2 days after a Sunday morning breakfast?!

…If you answered Yes to this question you are a total weirdo and we can’t be friends.

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Just kidding, I always win the weirdo award. My refrigerator is frequently overflowing with mysterious concoctions that are perpetually on the brink of edible/might poison you to death.

But don’t piss in my cheerios. That’s the way I like it.

This is a simple and yet sophisticated dish made with tofu, vegetables, and, as customary with my recipes, a hefty amount of spices and seasoning.  Tofu comes from soybeans and is an excellent way to meat your non-meat (see what I did there?) protein necessities, as well as sneak in calcium, vitamin E, and a bunch of anti oxidant isoflavones. For all you tofu n00bz, I will explain how to prepare this strange block of hippy bean curd. I may not be as cool as Lennon but all I am saying is give tofu a chance.

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Cheesy Vegan Tofu Scramble

  • 1 package organic firm tofu
  • 3 T low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 3 T tahini paste
  • 1 8 oz package (or about a cup and a half) cremini or button mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 5 green onion stalks/scallions
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast *optional*
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt/pepper
  1. First, young grasshopper, you will prepare that tofu.  You have to press the tofu to remove the excess moisture before cooking it, so adhere to my strange rules or else. Remove block from packaging and place on a paper towel on a plate.  Put another plate on top (this is seriously how I do it).  Place something heavy on top like a couple of cans and let it drain for 10-20 minutes.  The paper towel should be wet at the end.
  2. While the tofu is doin its thang’, slice mushrooms thinly, dice up the red pepper, and dice the green onions.
  3. Once the tofu is pressed, heat up 2 T oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add in the mushrooms and saute until tender and mushrooms begin to let off moisture.  When they begin to sizzle, add in the pepper and onions and let them cook for another couple minutes.
  4. Once veggies are tender, place them in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Crank up the stovetop to medium high and heat up the remaining 2 T oil in the same saucepan.  Crumble the tofu into the oil with your hands and let it sit and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add in the soy sauce/tamari, tahini paste, and all the spices. Stir the veggies back into the saucepan and stir up the entire scramble, cooking it for a few minutes more until the tofu begins to brown very slightly.
  7. *Although I put nutritional yeast in the ingredient column as optional, I love this stuff and always cook with it.  It’s worth buying some in the bulk bin section of your grocery store and this is what imparts the cheesy flavor to this “egg” dish.  Add in the salt and pepper as you like.
  8. Garnish with more green onions, and add in some hot sauce too if you fancy it spicier!  I do, I do!
  9. This dish goes great with potatoes, toast, and avocado.  Mimosa also optional. Take my word(s) for it.

 

I love cooking breakfast after a long bicycle ride, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it has been lately.  I loved cooking this up and getting my day going while dancing around to this happy energetic and rhythmic jam. I just heard Wye Oak’s new album and this song, “Shriek” is definitely killing it. I have never seen them live but I have a pretty good idea that they would rock my knee socks off.  Here is “Shriek” by an indie rock folk duo from Baltimore, MD.

Sesame Asparagus with Sweet Soy Sauce

Usually around my house we abide by: if it’s yellow, leave it mellow.  Let’s save water here, okay? I’m trying to save the Earth, okay? However, this rule is completely ignored when asparagus is eaten.  TMI, I’m sorry. What is it about asparagus that makes our shi-shi smell funky?  If you have ever wondered, it happens to be due to asparagusic acid, which our body breaks down into sulfur containing compounds.  These, much like rotten eggs, don’t smell so fresh.  Anyways, food for thought.

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This recipe is pretty simple, and makes for a terrific side dish.  Even though it feels much like purgatory when I step outside, the bottoms of my flip flops almost melting into the concrete, it technically still is Spring.  Spring means asparagus is at its prime, my friends. It’s sweet, crunchy, fresh, and full of folate as well as vitamins E, K, C, and A.

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A friend of mine introduced me to Kecap Manis recently, it’s basically an Indonesian sweet take on soy sauce. When combined with roasted veggies….Hallelujah.  I could eat veggies for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner if it’s perpetually smothered in this.

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So simple, and yet, so YUM.  Another testament to the fact that good cooking doesn’t have to mean fancy cooking.  I mean I wore my apron while cooking today, and that’s about as fancy as I got. Whether or not I was wearing gym shorts underneath is negotiable and irrelevant.

Sesame Asparagus with Sweet Soy Sauce

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 8 oz fresh cremini or button mushrooms (shitake would also be good if you’re willing to pay a bit more)
  • 1 T sesame oil (olive works as well)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce/gluten-free tamari
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • white/black sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse asparagus and snap off the ends by holding each spear and breaking off the bottom 1″
  3. Rinse mushrooms and slice evenly
  4. Spread asparagus and ‘shrooms on a baking dish.  Add oil and roll veggies around until they’re all smothered.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 9-10 minutes…until you can easily pierce the asparagus with a fork.  Don’t start watching Desperate Housewives and walk away…pay attention because no body likes mushy asparagus.  Except my great aunt Mildred but Mildred has no teeth so…
  5. While the veggies are roasting, throw brown sugar and soy sauce in a pot over low heat.  Stir frequently (about 10 minutes) until it thickens into the consistency of maple syrup.  Don’t let it boil or burn! Be patient.  The Housewives can wait, so can you.  Stir in garlic powder once it’s the correct thickness.
  6. When you have the sauce ready, drizzle it over the veggies and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Voila.  How easy.  Que delicioso 😉

 

Oh this song is just so great I had to sharesies.  It’s fun and something you can’t help but sing along to.  Even though I am about 98% sure I am singing the wrong words…it’s so catchy I just don’t care.  Besides, how can you shy away from a song by a band called Magic City Hippies?  Brilliant.  Here is “Bust.”  Head to the farmer’s market for some fresh asparagus, roast, roast, roast away and crank up the Magic City Hippies!

Broccoli Tahini Salad

 Let’s get real.

I know the word ‘broccoli’ doesn’t always whip you into a ravenous frenzy, but this fresh twist on that little cruciferous vegetable is so worth raving about!   I went very light on the dressing for these photographs because I didn’t want to scare you away with vegetables soaked in all this brown liquid and…they did turn out pretty.  But I smothered it in sauce afterwards and was 100%  satisfied in doing so. Don’t be afraid to get saucy on a Tuesday night, guys.

This festive crunchy little salad tosses fresh bite sized crispy veggies in a savory creamy dressing.  You’re probably like, “Vegetables worth drooling over?….Chyeah right.”

But this salad…

Such wow.

Much green.

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And….umami!  Some people have heard this word but don’t know the full definition.  It’s science!  Umami is a taste that is basically found in foods rich in the amino acid glutamate.  Commonly referred to as “the fifth flavor,” umami is abundant in foods like beef, chicken, and pork and is commonly described as savory and salty.  This is why some people go bonkers for bacon.  Like I said, science, baby.

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Anyways, the point of this nerdy rambling is that this salad evokes some of the pleasurable sensations we feel when we taste umami. I have many friends who tell me they don’t feel satisfied after eating a meal made without meat.  And this is totally valid!  Along with other likable qualities (likable to some…), meat has such high levels of this umami flavor that the tastebuds become accustomed to this. Dare I say it again, it’s science.  Man, Bill Nye would be SO proud. It’s unbelievably satisfying, but made without a trace of umami-rich meat.  My meat-eating friends helped themselves to seconds, and thirds of this salad.  The dressing contains yummy nutty tahini (basically nut butter made out of sesame seeds and a main ingredient in hummus) with a zing of fresh ginger and the salad features creamy avocado and crunchy cabbage and broccoli.  A perfect and blissful blend of vegetable power, healthy fats from the avocados and seeds, and protein from the beans.

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This is a very fresh salad, and one that should be (and normally tends to be) devoured quickly.  Once made, eat it that day or save it for one more day. After that, you run the risk of harboring a big bowl of very sad, soggy salad.  Ohhh avocados, you temperamental little rascals, you.

This is an absolutely perfect dish to bring to a BBQ, a picnic, or some other social function where you can impress your friends with an absolutely amazing and healthy salad, and beat out that boring bowl of macaroni salad we have all had 85 million times.

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Broccoli Tahini Salad

For the salad:

  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup diced red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 4 T tahini paste
  • 4 T soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T fresh grated ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3-5 T water, depending on thickness desired
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Start by getting all ninja in the kitchen and slicing and dicing those veggies into small bite sized pieces.  Once the broccoli is chopped, blanch it: boil it in salted water for 2-3 minutes.  Then drain and submerge in icy water.  Drain again and pat dry. This will cook the broccoli but preserve its crunch!
  2. Toss all veggies, the beans, cilantro, and the sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  Save the avocado and lemon for last.  This way you cut down the chances of the avocado getting smashed.  Avocado….why you so sensitive?
  3. Now for the dressing, whisk tahini paste and soy sauce/tamari in a small bowl.  By the way, for those that are mildly interested or curious, tamari is a wheat-free version of soy sauce (and thus a favorite among a gluten-free-sushi-loving crowd).
  4. Whisk in the water, garlic powder, and ginger.  Taste it and add in the appropriate amounts of salt and pepper. Everyone is different in how salty or peppery they prefer their food so I thought I’d leave this one open to self experimentation.
  5. Gently mix the dressing in the veggies.  Once served, keep salad in the refrigerator. Salad, how you so tasty?

Today’s song is amazing.  What I really love about it is that it almost sounds like something that would have been made 50 or 60 years ago, but the album just came out in 2014!  So, not only does it sound legit, the artist is actually still alive and you could go see him on tour if you wanted to!! What a concept! Double score.  This smokey bluesy gem is called “Your love will blow me away” by Son Little. Check it ooooooooout.

Spicy Coconut Red Curry

It was an unassuming restaurant.  Neither littered with elaborate decor nor teeming with fancily-clad waiters wearing bow ties.

Okay, okay fine, it was a bar.  And we stopped in for a quick bite to eat and a brew.  Now, this place was an all American joint…burgers, fries, the whole shebang.   The only thing on the menu sans meat was a random red curry and rice dish.  Seeing as how my options were limited and my stomach was beginning to growl something fierce, I began to order the probably Americanized, bland, and doubtfully tasty dish.  My waitress stopped me mid sentence and began to gush about how delicious it was, about how it was her favorite thing on the menu. I raised an eyebrow but seeing as how it was the only thing I could eat, I went ahead and ordered it!

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I have this strange aversion to ordering dishes that are from one culture at a place that boasts a menu of a different culture.  I don’t know why…I just feel that it can’t be done as well.  Take for instance, when you see a burger on the menu of a chinese restaurant.  Stick to what you know.  With this mentality, I went to take my first bite of the curry dish and was overwhelmed with surprise.  It had hints of coconut, and lemongrass, and paired so well with the rice nestled underneath it.  Who’da thunk?  I took half home and devoured the rest for lunch the next day.

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I usually order mushroom mutter (matar..mattar…? someone help a sistah out here) or chana masala at an Indian restaurant.  The chana masala includes chickpeas simmered in tomatoes and the mutter is green peas and mushrooms in a creamy sauce.  When eating Thai, I love the spicy red curries over rice.  Being the culinary dare devil that I am, I set out to marry the two.  Thai food…welcome, welcome! And in the words of Alanis Morissette, thank you India.

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If you’re not a fan of spice, I would probably recommend that you seek a recipe elsewhere or retreat to the playground swings where you belong.  Just kidding. But in all seriousness, I love spicy food.  I even sprinkled on red pepper flakes after the fact because apparently I was a dragon in a previous life and would like to again try to breathe fire.  The coconut milk adds an element of creamy sweetness to this dish and it is (of course) jam packed with tons of fresh veggies.  The chickpeas are optional but I added them in for extra protein!

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I would start on the rice before anything else.  Thai Kitchen makes a great red curry paste and this paste can be found in just about any grocery store (Note: Trader Joe’s is slackin’ and does not carry it).  I would also recommend using full-fat coconut milk.  Don’t worry, this isn’t the same fat dripping off of your Krispy Kreme.  All Trader Joe’s had was low fat so I used that and wished I would have taken the extra 10 steps across the street to purchase the other version. What can I say, it was raining and my hair was already looking like Mufasa’s mane.

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Spicy Coconut Red Curry

  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • 2 T red curry paste
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T soy sauce or tamari if gluten free
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 1 cup brown rice (or white)
  1. Start by cooking the rice.  Combine in a large pot (or just use a rice cooker) 1 cup rice with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed.  Set aside, still covered, for about 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
  2. While the rice is bubblin’ start another pot full of boiling water.  Cut the cauliflower head into slightly larger than bite sized florets, about 3 cups worth.  Blanch the cauliflower. Blanching? What the S#$*?! Fear not!  It’s just one way to partially cook something and simply means boiling the florets in the water with a little salt for about 3-4 minutes.  Then run the florets under cold water until completely cooled. Pat dry and set aside.
  3. Chop the onion into bite sized pieces and thinly slice the shrooms.
  4. Add the olive oil to a skillet and saute the onion and mushrooms for 5-7 minutes, until brown and tender.
  5. In a wide saucepan over medium heat, mix together the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, and soy sauce/tamari along with the water.
  6. Add in the cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, frozen peas, and if feeling turned on by the thought of oligosaccharides, the chickpeas.
  7. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, throw some red pepper flakes on top if you’re seeking a dinner/nasal decongestant all rolled into one, and serve over hot brown rice. Enjoy this tasty multi cultural union.

 

Musically speaking, I’m going to have to do a little self promotion. I just love this song and think it’s really beautiful.  It’s been rainy and overcast and I have been so incredibly busy with work, school, and traveling all over, sometimes it’s nice to hear yourself and again be reminded why you fell in love with music in the first place.  This song was written and recorded this summer in Los Angeles right before an epic night where we ran through the city like renegades and watched the sun rise over the Santa Monica boardwalk.  I am dreaming of summer.  Can you tell?  It’s called Lullabye and it’s by myself and the talented and wonderful Kyle Graber. Spin this while you simmer up a hot creamy pot of rice and spices.