Tag Archives: tofu

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I have something to confess- I hate holidays. I mean I LOVE Halloween, but I am not fond of the food traditions for American holidays. Unless I am making my own spread, I am not a fan of Thanksgiving. It usually involves me asking my husband what he wants, and then making it. My family on the other hand- seems to love it. But if you left it to me, I would rather be eating Chinese take out. I am pretty sure last year we had no Christmas dinner planned with family members and I told Jon all I wanted to Chinese take out. He thought I was kidding. I WAS NOT. We got home from his parents, and I sulked that it was too late to get general tso tofu, and he just stared at me in disbelief. He offered to get Chinese the next day, and it is never the same.

So my happy vegan memory was when I was able to get that Chinese take out. I can’t remember the exact year, but at some point in high school, I remember spending the 4th of July with my Mother. It was pretty un-American. We ordered Chinese food, watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, then watched the fireworks from our front yard (barely.) *sigh* Those days are over. Especially my favorite thing about the 4th of July, the fireworks display in Red Bank has been stopped, which is shame.

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I don’t know what I got that night, but there is a good chance it was spring rolls, various apps, and possibly moo shu. I don’t know when I first discovered this dish, but it is one of my take out favorites. For starters you get SO much of it. It is pretty much a veggie stir fry that you serve in little pancakes with hoisin sauce. Traditionally you use pork, but any Chinese take out place will make it vegan, or any meat of choice. 

I rarely get it anymore, mostly because I might get Chinese take out once or twice a year. But making it at home is super easy. In fact, it is much faster when you use a food processor to shred all the veggies. Make prep easy, and the clean up mostly just a food processor, wok, and cutting board. To make the recipe easier I used pre-baked tofu from a local tofu factory. But you can make your own 5-spice baked tofu.

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Most everything is cheap and easily accessible in an American super market. But there are two ingredients that might be hard. The American version of this dish is served with a thin Chinese pancake called a spring pancake. I’ve read reviews saying you can find these in the refridgerator section of Asian food markets. You can use a flour tortilla that you would use for a taco (that’s what I did) or you can serve it next to rice, which is the traditional Chinese way of serving the dish.

I used small oyster mushrooms for this dish, but you can use any type of mushrooms you like. I would try and stick to something like button mushrooms, shiitake, or baby bellas. Thinly slice the mushrooms so they are small and fit well in the wraps.

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Goodness, today just flew by. I went for my appointment (ugh, now I go to the doctors EVERY week) and did some shopping/errands, then when I got home ate, then my parents texted me that they were coming over to bring my sister’s old rocking chair. Which led to talking with my parents, then eating out, and now I am rushing to get this vegan mofo out there. Sorry I am not going to be as detailed as normal.

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For my monochrome meal I am making gimbap. I know what you are thinking- Jen this just sushi. WRONG! This is Korean rice rolls. Well, not really. See gimbap is often described as Korean sandwich sushi, which seems pretty accurate. See these are really common to find in Korea. Basically you take a nori wrap and add unseasoned rice and fill it with various namuls (aka think about using your leftover veggie sides from dinner) Traditionally gimbap uses pickled radish, carrots, spinach, cucumber, egg, or cheap seafood. But over the years, the fillings have gotten to be much more “american” with additions like mayo (you actually get this often in modern gimbap), potted meats, and cheese

Unlike sushi, gimbap isn’t an artistry. How pretty it looks isn’t important. If you watch Korean dramas you will often see kids and adult main characters eating gimbap that their parents made (Pst… I suggest reading our Korean Food 101 from last year’s vegan mofo for my context.) I remember a bonding scene where to female characters talked about how they always picked the spinach out of their rolls. I personally like slicing mine, but sometimes people leave the rolled nori uncut like a long skinny burrito.

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It is funny because I remember getting a homework assignment similar to this. I am not sure if it is still up, or what the name was, but there were various artistic experiments that Yoko Ono posted online. It was a really interesting interactive artist think piece, and the homework assignment was to do one of the prompts. I don’t remember what I did, but I remember there was one that was to make a monochrome meal. A lot of students did this, and almost all soon found out how hard it was. 

So when I saw this vegan mofo prompt I was a little more prepared, but I was kind-of lazy. I don’t like making several dishes, but I felt like cheating saying something was monochrome if it covered in a sauce. Enter my green gimbap. The end result wasn’t nearly as green as I hoped, but still very green overall! I also fought the temptation to use a dye, and try and use all flavors. Okay, so the rice didn’t get a green as I hoped from the spirulina, and yeah the mayo and tofu is white, but hey can’t be perfect right?

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Happy Election Day! At least for the Americans. I have an exit strategy if Trump wins. I’ll dig a hole and living in the country on the other side. Sadly, New Jersey ends up in an ocean with no islands nearby. Plan busted. The closest one is Australia, and I thought that there are plenty of Vegan MOFOers from Australia. They probably all posted about local dishes yesterday. So I thought I would pick another country nearby- Indonesia (technically that would be opposite of Brazil… SOOOO not close to New Jersey XD)

I haven’t cooked much of their cuisine, but I have three cookbooks that have food from the area (or at least inspired food from the area.) One is Ani Phyo’s Raw Asian cookbook, okay so the authenticity is a stretch! The other is a cookbook that goes through the culture of Southeast Asian food in detail. It isn’t vegan, at all, so finding recipes were hard. But it is really interesting as they give information about the local produce and customs, so it was interesting to flip through it again.

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So I took most of the recipe’s inspiration from The Asian Vegan Kitchen. Overall, I find the recipes too oily and bland. In fact the Indonesian recipe I reviewed was way too oily from two cans of coconut milk. Yuck. I kind-of took the hint with this recipe, and balanced the recipe out. So you might be thinking what makes an Indonesian curry different from other curries?

Well, it is similar to any of the Thai Red Curry recipes you’ve might of made. But this is super easy and fast to make. For starters the veggies, tempeh, and tofu are chopped in very large pieces. This makes prep time very minimal. Also the curry paste (or lodeh paste) uses candlenuts. I remember seeing them once at an Asian Food Market, but I wasn’t going to make another stop for the recipe. You can use macadamia, brazil, or cashew nuts. I used cashews.

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The recipe also uses salam leaves and galangal. I have never seen any of these ingredients in a store before. I omitted it from the recipe, but if you find powdered galangal, try sprinkling into the recipe. As for salam leaves, I subbed it with some curry leaves. It isn’t authentic, but I am sure many Indonesian immigrants are making similar substitutes.

Nutrition? Yeah, I’ve been really into counting the nutritional information about food lately. Sorry. A quarter of a recipe is roughly 41 grams of carbs (9 grams of fiber), 31 grams of fat (hello coconuts and cashews!), and 28 grams of protein. I have a feeling the fat counts are a little high, and will depend on what type of fried tofu you buy. You can sub it with baked tofu as well.

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As a quick reminder, these percentages are based off of my current pregnant state. You maybe getting a larger amount. If you are actually tracking your nutrition, I suggest looking at the mg units. The obvious thing that will fill more of your nutritional needs is the iron. I am pregnant so I need a minimum of 27 mg while most menstruating women need 18 mg, men more like 8mg.

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Last Monday I was able to hang out with Alexa and try out two new restaurants. It was amazing. But one thing we talked about was our diets, cuz that is what vegans and weight lifters do. Alexa mentioned how she is eating a high protein diet, trying to get about 113 grams of protein and 150 grams of carbs. It made me think about my diet, as I have started to shift towards a very carb-veggie heavy diet. I hit my protein requirements, but I like trying out new recipes. One thing I learned in art school is that sometime making rules for your art can actually help you creatively. So you might see more protein heavy recipes on the blog. 

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This recipe was already slated to be posted on here, but it fits Alexa’s dietary requirements. High protein and low fat. I used tofu originally in the recipe, but you can sauté some seitan and stir it with the noodles, mushrooms, and bean sprouts at the end. So how much protein? Well I actually shocked myself a little once I crunched the numbers- 52 grams of protein, 63 grams carbs, and 10 grams fat!  That means 44% of the dish protein, 30% is fat, and 26% are carbs. The numbers will shift a little depending on the tofu brand you use or if you use seitan instead of tofu. The dish is pretty hearty, and is 550 calories, which might be a little too big for one person to eat in one sitting, as I can imagine with Alexa (I am usually the one cleaning a plate while she tends to just save it for later)

So where is the protein coming from? Well it is comes partly from the Explore Asian bean noodles. These noodles have particular texture so you might not want to just sub them for normal pasta. But they work well with lots of asian style dishes where they use noodles that aren’t made with wheat. That is why I think they work so well with this hot pot. A quarter of a package has a total of 25 grams of protein, making it the highest protein noodles out there…. well the same protein content as Banza chickpea noodles. I used the adzuki bean noodles, since I like the taste of red beans. The prices I am finding online are around $5 a pack, but I was able to get them at Wegman’s for $3.50, making each serving around 88¢, about 50¢ for the tofu, and $1 for the mushrooms (less if you sub for carrots or a cheaper mushroom). I am not really sure how much the rest would cost as I made the kimchi and broth at home. The other ingredients might cost a bit at first, but the last for a long time.

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So let’s talk about the soup outside of nutritional content. Let’s talk about the cultural context. So many people know that kimchi is a korean pickled cabbage. There is also a popular korean stew called kimchi jjigae. Kimchi jjigae has become so iconic and has become a popular dish in Japan- translating into kimchi nabe. The differences are subtle, but my vegan version is a little bit more like the Japanese version… with protein noodles. If you are interested about the differences, Just One Cookbook does a good job explaining all the differences.

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I’ve mentioned how I love my individual sized hot pots, or donabe have been a life saver. I admit, they are kind-of pricey. You can use other types of pots, and you can find similar things in Asian food markets for a discounted price. Take a look around. But since the dish is designed to be eaten by one person, the recipe is small. So if you are using a normal pot for everyone, adjust accordingly. It is easy enough to double or triple the recipe for however many people will be eating with you.

If you do buy a donabe for this recipe, I found a blog post about seasoning your pot! Most pots don’t come with manuals, so I had no idea this was something that needed to be done a day in advance. It will make your pots last longer and doesn’t take much effort to do.

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It has been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe on the blog. I guess I needed a break from Vegan MOFO, where I posted a whopping 14 recipes, that is almost a new recipe every other day! And there is the holidays where I get a little scared of breaking out the new recipes and try to stick with the classics. And I really haven’t been feeling like cooking as of late. I think my new house set up seems like such a bigger commitment to either be in the kitchen or be on the computer. In the old apartment the computer was so close to the kitchen I could hear if something would overflow and hear timers, etc. Now the computer is on the second floor, and I just get anxious that something bad would happen.

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But before I talk about this hot pot, can I stop and talk about mourning someone who died awhile ago? Last night I noticed that my husband has been really preoccupied, and more stressed than normal. Sure work might of been really crazy, but something seemed different. Turned out he found out one of the girls he dated in high school died, but it happened several months ago and he was just finding out.

I know this can suck, and can happen often in smaller town. It has happened to me, with my friend Pete. We were friends senior year of high school and he wanted to hang out during our breaks during college, but I was sadly in another state and couldn’t hang out. I made some comment about his brother with Alexa, then proceeded to ask about Pete. She was dumbfounded and told me he past away, like 2 years ago. Nobody mentioned it to me because everyone thought someone else told me.

It was weird, because I couldn’t really talk to many people about it, because everyone already knew for such a long time. They had already passed the different grieving phases, so I was kind-of left alone with my feelings. I felt terrible for not being able to go to the funeral, not being able to hang out when we could of, and I felt bad for his brother, who under the circumstances of the death, felt responsible. Where do you turn? Luckily I could talk to Alexa about it, and I had a friend in my area who actually went to college with Pete, and also thought I knew about the death. So it we talked about awesome he was.

For my husband this girl got his by a car while running, so maybe it hit him on a closer level since we both go running. So now I am a little nervous what my next run will do to his nerves. But it is bound to happen. I don’t know, it is such a weird feeling about finding out someone passed away so long after it happened, it can feel embarrassing and isolating on top of all the feeling you get from mourning.

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But this post is about soup, so we will change the topic. This curry hot pot is one of my favorite weeknight dinners. It is super simple to make, and probably only need 10 minutes of prep time. Just chop, add broth, and boil. No sautéing, or prepping the protein. And even better, it is super easy to customize! That can be great when your partner doesn’t totally jive with your palette. In this case it is my husband not wanting his soup as spicy as mine. And if they don’t want tofu, it is easy to sauté some meat or faux meat for them. One wants a gluten-free diet? Use some other noodle (I’ve tried bean noodles, it is bitchin)

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It is worth noting the star of this recipe are individual hot pots. It was something I never bought because I thought it was silly and maybe a waste of money. It went on a wishlist for our wedding, and my sister and brother in law bought them for us. I mean it is an expensive item- $36 a pot, and you need to buy TWO for a couple. But I can safely say this is the greatest thing for two people living with each other. It is nice to have our own bowls for own meals. I’ve already posted recipes for dolsot bibimbap and mushroom hot pots with these pots. Again, this made it so I could have my super spicy bibimbap, while my husband could have his whimpy version. If you in a serious relationship and living with your significant other, I totally recommend buying them. You get the satisfaction of making what you want but sharing a similar experience.

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Keeping with the idea of customizing, this recipe is super flexible. I posted what I made in these photos, but I’ve switched around the ingredients. I’ve made this with seitan sausage instead of tofu, grilling the seitan and adding it in with the ramen. I switched noodles, switched the veggies (using sautéd onions, raw celery, potatoes, etc), this is a forgiving recipe. If you are thinking of different veggies to use, I usually use winter vegetables that last long in the fridge. Celery, radish, root veggies, cabbage, nappa, green onions, carrots, heck try out some beets. Go crazy. That is what I love about hot pots. Super simple stuff here. 

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If you are wondering where to get vegan ramen there are a few places. Some of the style of mainstream American ramen (oriental and chili) are vegan, and you can just toss the flavor packets. But that seems a little wasteful, but easy to find at your local supermarket. There is an organic all vegan ramen line called Koyo Natural Foods. They sell organic ramen noodles that are plain and have no flavoring. They also sell packets with powders, but I think my hot pot packs more flavor. Your next bet is to check out an Asian Market and look down their aisles. Look under the noodles aisle, ramen package aisle, and refrigerated sections. Read ingredients as egg can be a common ingredient in some of the fresh noodles. I found a package of noodles that came in round dried blocks, and came in one bag. So it saved money and packaging. Once you find a ramen source, you will likely go nuts for it. Continue reading


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Sadly I couldn’t exicute the original plan for this post. Alexa and I were going to do a joint post of us having a debate on tacos vs burritos. Alexa was all set to make a drawing of us and all. BUUUUT…. she had some issues at work where they were suddenly down a person. We’ve all been there with small businesses, someone is fired, has to leave suddenly, or your boss refuses to replace someone and you find yourself working over 40 hours. So she worked a lot of days in a row and needed a break. Then my husband had to work on an emergency project over the weekend and hogged the computer so I really didn’t touch it. I actually had to plug our old computer in to make the post on Saturday. But luckily I’ve been meaning to post this recipe on this tomatillo tofu burrito.

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I might be a little biased in the Taco and Burrito debate. I worked at Animo in the past, and their specialty is burritos. They get pretty creative with it, pretty much pushing boundaries between wrap and burrito. Hey I am cool with that because there is something very satisfying about having hot beans mixed with cold lettuce. I do like tacos, but oddly I don’t make them often. Maybe because I usually don’t plan a meal, and just kind-of pile stuff on. So the end results are too many flavors. But some days I get my shit together and hold back on making too many fillings with my Kohlrabi Kimchi & Adzuki Bean Tacos and Miso-Harissa Acorn Squash Tacos. Burritos are a little hard to add too much. Just rice, beans, salsa, and an add in (tofu in this case, but roasted veggies are pretty good too!)

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And what I love about burritos is the portability! If I wanted to have tacos for lunch I would have to store everything in their own containers. Then build them like a homemade lunchables. I wasn’t into them when I was little, so I am still not into it as an adult. But burritos are all wrapped up and ready to go. Just roll in tin foil and twist the ends. Burritos work with a lot of leftovers to hide them as something much more interesting. For example a lot of leftover stews and curries I wrap up in a burrito with leftover rice. That’s it! You can sometimes switch it up. For example I leftover chili and made various types of burritos using different leftovers, sometimes rice, sometimes with lettuce, sometimes with tofu, sometimes different salsa, etc. It makes the lunch fun and interesting.

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The secret to a good burrito is portions. If you are using rice and beans, I keep the ratio 43% rice, 52% beans, 5% salsa. Just a slight bit more beans than rice, and a little bit of salsa so the rice isn’t too dry. When you are having a filling like tofu or veggies I make it about 32% rice, 32% beans, 32% filling, 4% salsa. You will get a burrito that isn’t going to leak all over your hands. And there is enough rice to keep the burrito form. Check out that photo below! Keeping to the almost equal portions equation!

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These burritos take a good bit of time to make, but need very little actual active time. Sometimes I double the beans and rice so I can make leftovers with it. But this amount should be enough for about 4-5 burritos, depending on how much you stuff your flour tortillas. Learning how to wrap a solid burrito might take some time, but when you figure it out, you will really impress people, making this a great dinner for guests.

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I didn’t grow up with the “normal” childhood foods. My mother is very open to new types of foods and loved to cook. I remember when we would make a list of food for the week, and being asked what I wanted. I blurt something out like lasagna, then be shut down “We already have a pasta dish” or “We are already having Italian on Tuesday.” Variety was a huge priority. I guess it still is. When I ask my husband if there is something he wants to eat, his response is usually “We have so many things, I don’t remember all the dishes.”

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I remember couscous, falafels, pancake dinners (which I hated), tuna casseroles, rice and beans, and seafood quiches. Not the normal kid foods like mac and cheese, hotdogs, and hamburger helper. Actually funny story, I tried making the tempeh helper in Appetite for Reduction and wondering what the hell to do with the cheese sauce. I am still not sure what to do with it- I just mix it all in with everything else.

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We did get excited for pizza night. It is possibly the only thing I liked that my father would make. He rolled out huge square thin crust pizzas. The gold mine were the middle pieces since they had no crusts. Then we would get even more excited about calzone night when my older sister was feeling up for it. My perception of calzones is shaped by the ones we made at home. In fact whenever I would go out, I felt so disappointed by the restaurant versions. Too much cheese, not enough ricotta.

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Even today I am still not sure how other people perceive calzones. My husband asked if I was going to put our recently made homemade tomato sauce (he picked 22 pounds of tomatoes last weekend) in the calzone and I flipped out on him. Tomato sauce is strictly for dipping! Sure you could add FRESH tomatoes to the inside, but never the sauce. Pretty much I like my calzones to be big giant white pizzas that are rolled up.

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Pretty much anything can go in a calzone. Sky’s the limit. Leftover tofu, seitan, and facon-bacon are great meat replacement options. I usually keep it simple, red pepper oil, and sautéed veggies. I used sautéed red italia pepper and green bell pepper, then sliced raw shiitake mushrooms and marinated them in soy sauce and a little oil. But sun dried and fresh tomatoes, olives, canned mushrooms, broccoli, roasted garlic, and spinach (or any other green really) all make great fillings

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So if you haven’t herd of red pepper oil yet, you are missing out. It is our secret weapon in the recipe. You can use Giada’s fancy recipe, or do what I do- mix oil and red pepper flakes and let sit for several hours. The longer it sits, the most intense the flavor. So if you are making calzones for dinner on Sunday, the hot pepper oil should be the first thing you make in the morning. There isn’t any official ratio to follow, but tend to do one tablespoon oil to one teaspoon red pepper flakes.

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A lot of my “recreating” with this recipe was mostly just getting ratios right. I’ve made vegan versions in the past, but pretty much just making a tofu-ricotta filling for myself, and the original recipe for everyone else. I think I tried making a vegan version when I was in Philadelphia, but our oven was broken and we were left with raw dough covered in black smoke. I curse and was pissed by the wasted money. I probably would of thrown them out of the window if my husband wasn’t there. We weren’t married yet at the time, so I couldn’t let him see how freakin crazy I am.

So make sure your oven works so you aren’t tempted to throw these delicious calzones out the window.

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The recipe takes awhile… really. Probably 2 hours overall including cleaning up and such. But it is well worth the time since I’ve never eaten a calzone that is similar in restaurants. The recipe makes 4 reasonable sized calzones, or 2 massive calzones. I made the smaller ones, but realistically, when I make them, we eat the massively sized calzones.

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Welcome to Vegan MOFO 2015! The first prompt is talk about what you ate for breakfast. Most people get confused about what to serve a vegan for breakfast. Who can blame them? Pancakes, bacon, sausage, yogurt, milk, eggs, french toast, what is left to eat? Orange juice and toast? So we thought it would be a good idea to show a sample of what a typical breakfast is for us, including my husband.

Jennifer

Like a true (hippie-dippie) vegan, I start my breakfast off with a glass of homemade kombucha. I like adding the gut friendly bacteria to my diet each morning, and they are supposedly most helpful when consumed on an empty stomach. So I always pour myself a glass right away in the morning and drink it while I get some chores done, like putting away the clean dishes, washing any remaining pots and pans from the night before, or prepping a lunch for my husband and myself.

If I plan on working out, I try and have a very light “breakfast.” In the winter it is usually a small muffin, chia pudding, or a simple oat, water, and banana shake. But since I am swimming in produce, I ate a quarter of a giant yellow watermelon. This gives my tummy something to burn while I do my reps or go for a short run.

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This morning I went for a run, so I had a shake when I got back. I always try to eat some spirulina in the morning to help with allergies and because it has so many good vitamins and minerals in it. There are pretty much two ways I eat spirulina– a chocolate shake or a matcha shake. This morning I ate a matcha shake. It is very simple and easy to put together since by the end of my workout I am always craving a cool drink with lots of calories.

Alexa

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This was a really fun and easy experiment for me. I’ve been seeing one of my coaches at the gym to help me with my nutrition and eating to help aid my work-outs. I told her I was mostly vegetarian in diet (still livin’ that flexetarian lifestyle) so she helped me set up a meal plan based around that. Normally for breakfast I’ll eat 2 egg whites or 1 egg and 1 egg white along with 1/4 cup oatmeal (with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil mixed in) and a 1/2 cup of berries. Jen suggested that I try to make a tofu scramble for Vegan MoFo, which I had always wanted to do because I LOVE a good scramble, but had always been hesitant because I thought mine would never live up to what I’ve had in the past. 

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Well, it was incredibly easy to make this. And it turned out pretty well too! I’ve heard several people say they add nutritional yeast, turmeric or cumin to give the tofu some flavor and that yellow color of an egg scramble. I only had cumin in the house, but I also added a bit of curry powder and chili powder to it (and later I added sriracha…because I live for that sauce). I sautéed some onions, orange bell peppers and tomatoes in with the tofu and spices as well. Normally the eggs are supposed to help with getting some protein into my body post workout, as I’ll normally take a morning class. When Jen pointed out that that tofu has about as much protein as eggs does I felt a little bit better about maybe adding this into my routine a bit more often, but in smaller portions. 

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Oatmeal used to be a very “meh” ideal breakfast item for me. When Karen said I should put coconut oil into it and mix it with berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon I first thought “hmm, that’s interesting…” . Now I’m hooked. The consistency is perfect and I love the flavor of the coconut oil with berries. On occasion, such as today, I’ll substitute the oil for almond butter instead. Both options are great and this breakfast really keeps me full until lunch time, which ranges from about 12:30-1:30 depending on when I ate. 

Jonathan

My husband is a creature of habit. My morning starts with kombucha sure, but each batch is different and I switch between types of tea to create the brew. Then my shakes and “pre-workout” food changes. Not my husband. When we first started dating he use to eat a bagel and cream cheese every single day. Then he found out that his tummy got upset by it, so he switched to oatmeal.

Boring plain oatmeal.

He was so proud of himself, he crunched numbers and found out that he would save so much by using the big container of quick cooking oatmeal. I asked if he wanted some sugar, cinnamon, anything else. Nope. Gross. I thought it might of been a family thing, perhaps his Mother and Father had plain oatmeal? When I asked about it apparently his mother doesn’t like oatmeal and his father was all “WHAT THE HECK THAT SOUNDS GROSS?!” So there is clearly something wrong with my husband.

BUT I did convince him to start adding granola to give a little boost since he was getting hungry too fast (duh, you are just eating oats!) And depending on the season, he will add some berries from our CSA or chopped apples that I prep for him. I didn’t take a picture of his oats because they are disgusting and I figured readers wouldn’t want to see naked mushy oats.

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Then comes his second breakfast. Sure I have three different stages to my breakfast, but that is really just a “workout” thing. If I don’t run or lift, I just have one shake. But my husband is a calorie burning machine and needs to have a shake to drink when he gets to work. He is pretty boring, just chocolate or chocolate peanut butter, or just peanut butter. Lately I’ve been making him peach peanut butter shakes. But today was just chocolate.

The Coffee

We are all coffee people. Jon likes to have his coffee everyday and normally just gets the Wegman’s brand to save money. Jen finds this coffee too fruity for her tastes. But on special occassions Jen will buy him a special roast, like the Royal Mile Nicaragua Mama Mina that she got him for his birthday.

Jennifer on the other hand doesn’t drink coffee first thing in the morning. She drinks her cup around 10 am, probably because she finds coffee too harsh on an empty tummy. Sometimes she makes herself an iced latte before heading out to work using Black Cat Classic Espresso by Intelligentsia

Alexa gets her coffee from Booskerdoo or Rook. She liked to get the big jar of coffee concentrate from Rook when she can, but finds that it actually disappears way faster than she would like, and is trying to limit herself to 1 coffee per day, it used to be up to 4 COFFEES on a bad (good?) day. She also loves everyone who works in her local coffee shops and wants to give them patronage because they are just the sweetest and really know their coffee. 

So that’s it guys. Three vegan breakfasts. There are two shake recipes below if you want to be like us. Anyone else out there is a little freak and eats plain oatmeal? I think my husband needs team oats allies.

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Is anyone else dying from the heat? Nope? No one? I find it a little funny that Jon and I are probably the opposite of the popular view on temperature. Everyone complains about winter, jacks up their heat, and bundle up. While Jon and I are excited that we can keep COLD this winter in our new house. Normal people talk about retiring in Florida where it is warm, we talk about moving more and more up north. Maybe the north pole. Point is that we are horrible people and are very cranky right now because of this lovely heat.

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I also think I know why I started to drink so much. The heat. Nothing is more satisfying than an cold light beer on a hot day. And it probably helped that I would be in a small kitchen sweating bullets, having a bottle of beer would be nice temporary relief. But beer is expensive, and probably not the best thing for me. So these ice pops will have to do.

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These pops aren’t the healthiest, but they are really cheap to make. So they are healthy for your mental health (less stress about money! okay I know I’m pushing it)!  They mostly just use regular sugar, which I find dissolves fine with blender, but I divided the load a little with agave, which also helps prevent ice crystals from forming.

The only thing you’ll need that you might not have is a popsicle mold. I’m not too picky and picked up some molds from a local grocery store. They are plastic jelly belly molds, they aren’t perfect. But I like the shape, they were cheap, and I already own them. There a lots of other options out there including metal molds. But for these molds, this recipe makes enough for 12 popsicles! So I think you save a lot of money by making your own pops instead of buying something else in stores.

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The secret to these pops are leftover coffee. My husband makes coffee every morning with his french press. After he is done there is a small amount of coffee leftover that is thick with coffee soot. I always take this small amount, probably about 1 ounce, and save it in a small container in the fridge. By the end of the week I usually have a cup of really strong coffee to make something with. Even though the coffee is really strong, I am surprised how little you actually taste in these pops!

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I used some silken tofu, but if you don’t want to use that, you can try using 1/2 cup soaked cashews instead. I personally don’t like using them since they have a distinctive odor when you freeze them. It is really odd, and I personally don’t find it as annoying as my husband does. But the fats from the nuts will give a nice creaminess.

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I’ve never been a normal person when it comes to lunches. I don’t just settle for a sandwich. During my youthful meat eating days I remember making oven fried chicken instead of sandwiches. There is nothing depressing to me about having leftovers for lunchtime. Since I have such an open view of lunch, my definition gets muddled. What makes a meal for lunch over dinner?

To me it has to do with portability. Some people that means it can’t be heated up, or needs to be eaten with the hands. This can get tricky with vegan foods. Sure there are vegan sandwich options, but let’s face it, they can get messy since veggies aren’t perfectly square shaped. So what does a vegan do?

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Faux sushi wraps does the trick! You will be surprised what will stay wrapped up happily in nori. The structural stability of sushi has less to do with sticky rice and more about tension and properly sealed nori. The end result is a leak-free lunch that is packed with veggies. Oh and gluten-free, if that is your thing. These wraps are fairly fast to make, and the longest step is cutting the carrots. You can swap out the carrots for any other veggie like bell pepper, cucumber, or even beets!

The tofu, avocado, sprouts and sauce are what you want to keep for sure. The tofu offers a nice chewy texture, the avocado a creamy burst, and the sprouts a slight crunchy texture. The tahini-tamarind sauce gives most of the flavor, and helps soften the nori wraps.

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This recipe serves one and makes two rolls to cut up. It is pretty low calorie, so you will want to have both rolls for yourself. It is pretty easy to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe. But I would recommend not wrapping until the day of since the nori will get soggy and gross overtime.

Another super tip, quickly press the tofu while you get all the components together. Prep the tofu, then start chopping, maybe get other chores done in the morning like dishes, making breakfast, etc. That way you don’t need to wait too long. You only need about 15-20 minutes of pressing.

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