Guest post by Amanda Spinosa
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Place all mozzarella pieces into the ziplock bag with the flour and give it a good shake to ensure they’re all evenly coated.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Post by Megan Stulberg
One of the most common things I hear when I tell people I’m vegan is something along the lines of, “I want to go vegan too, but I can’t afford it”. I hate to call people out, but that just doesn’t make any sense! My diet isn’t a luxury, or the sign of a lavish lifestyle. Truth be told (and despite what our Instagram feed looks like) I eat very basic dishes 90% of the time. Meat and cheeses are expensive, tofu and veggies are not. Sure, if you’re buying organic cold-pressed juices and take-out vegan meals every day, then yeah. It’ll be expensive. But it’s not hard to do at all, as long as you do it right. Think of it like skipping a step — instead of feeding cows and pigs what they need to get big enough to be slaughtered and eaten, why not eat what the cows and pigs are eating instead? That way you save energy, water, money, and oh yeah. Lives.
Anyways, what I’m saying is stop making excuses. I went vegan when I was a broke ass university student, and you can too. Here are some staple recipe ideas to get you started that are balanced, cost-efficient and able to be prepared in bulk.
Still have questions? You can always ask us! Here to help. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIMPLE PASTA BOLOGNESE:
- Pasta (I use corn-based)
- Jar marinara sauce
- Beyond Meat “beef” crumbles
- Go Veggie vegan parmesan “cheese”
- Dried herbs and spices like basil, thyme, garlic powder, onion, black pepper
- Make the pasta.
- Heat the sauce, sauté the “beef” crumbles. Combine.
- Coat pasta evenly, top with parmesan and serve.
- White rice
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can coconut milk
- Frozen veggies (optional)
- Curry powder, chill powder, garlic, onion, salt, black pepper — whatever spices you like pretty much, the only one you really need here is the curry powder.
- Make the rice. I am not going to write step-by-step instructions out for you. You should know how to make rice. If you don’t, well…*gestures to door*.
- Heat the coconut milk on stovetop. Add the spices.
- Heat the chickpeas, sauté the veggies in olive oil, dump everything together and serve.
- Sticky rice
- Avocado (optional)
- Gluten-free or regular soy sauce (optional)
Follow our existing recipe here and just omit the meat substitute.
Servings: 2 servings, approximately 4 rolls.
SIMPLE MAC & CHEESE:
- Pasta (I used corn-based)
- Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
- Nutritional yeast
- Almond, soy or coconut milk
- Garlic, onion, thyme, salt, pepper
- Cook pasta.
- Heat non-dairy milk on stovetop. Add Daiya shreds and wait for it to start melting, stir until completely combined into pourable sauce. Add nutritional yeast and spices, stir until mixed.
- Combine pasta and sauce. Serve with topping of your choice (ketchup, coconut bacon, veggies)
SIMPLE EVERYTHING-BUT-THE-KITCHEN-SINK BOWL:
- A grain or starch (white rice, brown rice, potatoes, quinoa, pasta, whatever you have)
- A protein (fake meat, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh)
- A vegetable (lettuce, peas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, kale)
- A sauce/oil (marinara, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice)
- A seasoning (nutritional yeast, garlic, onion, chill flakes, rosemary, basil, salt)
Don’t worry about it! Cook whatever you have, in the way that you think is best. Sometimes it might seem a bit strange, but sometimes you’ll come up with something super amazing that’ll become a staple in your weekly meals. I mean, that’s how I figured out you can make personal pizzas by baking corn tortillas. Keep an open mind and embrace the experimental process.
- Ants On A Log. But modified, because nobody likes celery. Apple slices, peanut butter (I buy organic, sugar-free jars of this at Whole Foods for $2.50 — seriously, such a kitchen staple) and raisins.
- Smoothies. Seriously! This isn’t a dumb thing to say is a snack! Healthy, filling and cheap. Buy those marked down, bruised bananas on sale in bulk. Chop them up, freeze them, and blend them with frozen spinach, almond milk, and a touch of maple syrup (optional). You can do this to make nana ice cream as well.
- Popcorn. Buy the actual kernels and not the microwavable bags, it’s a much better deal this way. Add coconut oil and salt, maybe a little nutritional yeast, you can even do something crazy like melt chocolate on there.
- Instead of buying fresh garlic, fresh onion, etc. — opt for the powdered versions. They won’t go bad and will basically last forever.
- Buy frozen produce whenever possible, unless you’re really really really really good at eating everything in your fridge before it goes bad. Which I doubt. Sorry for the lack of trust, but I’m probably right.
- Stock up on “cheap” proteins. Beans, lentils, tofu and peanut butter make the world go round.
- Buy nutritional yeast in bulk. It’s super high in B12 and has a great cheesy taste to it. You’ll start putting it on everything, trust me.
Post by Megan Stulberg
Now I’m not necessarily one to brag, but I have to say that this was one of the best meals I’ve ever made. Not only did everything taste great, but I also managed not to burn anything! I served this with three side dishes that I’ve already posted the recipes for on Vegan Girlfriend — convenient, eh? You can find the kale Caesar salad here, the sweet potato mash here, and the lemon coconut berry tarts here.
LENTIL MUSHROOM MEATBALLS
- 1.5 standard cans of lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups vegetable broth (make sure it’s a gluten-free brand)
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup flaxseed
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- Dash of cold-pressed EVOO
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In large saucepan, saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil and red wine at medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
- Boil water in medium pot. Add lentils and all listed seasonings, then let cook covered on low-heat for 5 minutes. Be sure to under-cook at this stage. Remove from heat and drain lentils.
- In a high-speed food processor/blender combine lentils, mushrooms, flax seed, nutritional yeast, broth and soy sauce. Add broth slowly in case no more liquid is needed. Blend until a thick, chunky mixture has been created.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil on the foil. Wet hands and mold mixture into small balls, then place directly onto foil. Repeat with the rest of mixture.
- Bake balls in oven for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check regularly to ensure balls are cooking evenly.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately with tofu gravy.
- 1 standard package soft tofu (organic)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
- 1/4 cup dried thyme
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1. In a large saucepan, saute garlic and onion on medium heat until golden brown in colour.
2. Break tofu up into small chunks with a fork. Blend tofu and almond milk together in blender until liquid in consistency.
3. Add blended tofu to sauce pan with nutritional yeast, soy sauce, thyme, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Reduce to low heat and leave uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid gravy from becoming too thick.
4. Remove from heat and pour sauce directly onto meatballs. Serve immediately.