Vegan Mozzarella Sticks

Guest post by Amanda Spinosa

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One of the first questions I am always asked when someone finds out I’m vegan is “Don’t you miss ____?” And the short answer is no. This is often a surprising answer because A. “How can you live without cheese?!” and B. I am a born and raised New Yorker living in a multi-cultural foodist’s mecca.

However, there are some foods that I don’t miss in a traditional sense, but rather the personal associations I have with them or the feelings I get from eating them, and one of those is mozzarella sticks. It’s one of the ultimate junk foods for people of all ages, and can make the worst marinara sauce taste great. I went to Champ’s Diner in Brooklyn, and to my obnoxious delight, they had mozzarella sticks on the menu! For me, vegan cheese is a hit or miss, so I was skeptical to say the least. To make a long story short, they were out of this world and I knew I had to try to replicate them. Here’s my recipe for delicious vegan mozzarella sticks
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 block vegan mozzarella*
  • 1/2 C flour + 1/4 C
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 C vegan seasoned Italian bread crumbs**
  • 1 C panko
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Neutral frying oil
* Although we all love Miyoko’s mozzarella, it’s too soft so I opted for Follow Your Heart
**Most seasoned Italian breadcrumbs contain milk, so be careful! If you can’t find vegan, just use panko in its place and give it some extra seasoning
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METHOD:

  1. Mix 1/2 C flour, water and corn starch in a large bowl to create a batter, then on a separate plate combine the breadcrumbs, herbs and spices. Place the remaining 1/4 C flour into a ziplock bag and set aside.
  2. Cut the mozzarella block into 1/2 inch sticks – I very annoyingly ended up with nine, so after it was fried I immediately ate it to make it an even number.
  3. Place all mozzarella pieces into the ziplock bag with the flour and give it a good shake to ensure they’re all evenly coated.
  4. Shaking off the excess flour, one at a time, dip each piece into the batter and allow the excess to drip off. Toss it in the breadcrumbs, leaving no breadless spots.
  5. Repeat step four until each mozzarella stick is breaded, lay them out on a small cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for at least one hour. I would imagine these can be prepped the night before.
  6. When it comes time to cook them, if you’re like me and don’t have a deep fryer, heat an inch of neutral oil (I used canola) in a deep pot. To see if it’s hot enough I like to throw in a few bread crumbs to see if they sizzle right away.
  7. Once hot, fry mozzarella sticks in batches for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and a tiny bit of melted cheese peeks out, then place on a paper towel to drain off the excess oil. Keeping the oil hot is what keeps them from falling apart.
Serve immediately with hot marinara sauce. The cheese stretches like the real thing, so you’ll want to show it off to everyone. If you’re like me, it serves one, but I guess it could serve two people if you really want it to.
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Holiday Recipe: “Cheese” Ball Platter (Raw, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

Recipe by Aine Davis

You’re dairy-free, and your cheese cravings over Christmas are getting out of control? No problem!

Note: Be sure to prepare this dish one day in advance.

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Ingredients…

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Directions…

  1. Soak cashews for an hour. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place cashews in food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add garlic, nutritional yeast, rosemary, thyme, and salt. Continue to process.
  4. Add lemon juice. The mixture should be thick and malleable. If the mixture is too wet, add more nutritional yeast.
  5. Scoop mixture out onto large piece of wax paper. With wax paper, use hands to shape mixture into a ball.
  6. Leave cheese ball in the fridge overnight to harden.
  7. Serve on large plate with additional garnish. I paired mine with Mary’s gluten-free seed crackers!

Serves 4 (appetizer-sized portions)

The Girlfriend’s Guide

To me, being vegan is a lifestyle. Take everything I grew up around: big box stores, grocery store “super centres”, prepackaged foods, frozen meals…gross. Food is needed for nutritional purposes, sure, but let’s enjoy it too! By changing our diets we get the chance to start over, refresh our palettes, try new things and find out what really works for our bodies. What you discover from this might actually surprise you! Good food makes for a good body. And vegan food is always good food. Therefore, you should totally go vegan.

Time and time again I’ve heard, “I’d love to go vegan but I just don’t have the time!” Wrong. Wroooooong.

Most people (myself included, I’ll admit) are used to instant gratification for pretty much everything. Our bodies need food multiple times throughout the day and it’s tedious to put in a lot of effort. Everything nowadays seems to be done very hastily. Buying a frozen dinner that was designed to be microwaved to prevent us from needing to what, boil water? Opting for self-checkout at the store in order to skip the cashier’s spiel about donating to a local charity? It’s hard to figure out how to find time to cook, yes, but it really is worth it. Meats and processed foods are bad for both your body and your wallet.

Being a vegan really isn’t as time consuming as people think, but obviously it takes more effort than lining up at a fast food joint for a burger would. I put effort into each meal because I enjoy taking the time to appreciate what I’m doing. What can I say, I like to cook! It’s comforting to be aware of every single ingredient that I’m putting into my body. Vegan food is good for me and the environment.

So what the heck are we babbling about this for anyways? Well, we want others to be able to transition into veganism smoothly and we’re here to help with that. On this website we’ll be providing quick and easy original recipes, shopping tips and more. Being vegan doesn’t mean that you have to spend a bunch of money, or that you can’t eat out with friends! That’s just malarky.

So friends! In honour of Vegan Girlfriend’s launch we have put together a little shopping cheat sheet. Below you can find a chart that lists important staples for vegan cooking that can (and should!) be bought in bulk. This chart compares the prices of three types of stores where you can normally buy these products: bulk food stores, health food stores, and a ‘big brand’ grocery store.

Stick with us and we’ll keep coming up with stuff like this to help you become the health-conscious money-smart vegan that we know you secretly want to be.

Love,

Áine

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