Vegan MoFo 2017 Day 8: Salad!

Hey, Fluffy here.

Though I am all for eating desserts myself, today I’m sharing a Fluffy approved salad. Actually, any salad can be Fluffy approved, with a bit of creativity.

Today Laura took a unicorn cookie cutter, two pieces of Follow Your Heart vegan cheese (the smoked Gouda is our fave), placed them side by side, and made a unicorn silhouette out of cheese!

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The salad is pretty simple. It contains all my favorite vegetables (lettuce, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions). For the final touches, we put some leftover crispy chickpeas and Gardein chickun tenders, topped with the unicorn shaped cheese!

The dressing (not pictured) was a sweet maple mustard made with maple syrup, Just Mayo, and yellow mustard. Laura has always believed in the magic of a creamy sweet mustardy dressing.

Whew, I’m glad this week is over. All this writing has gotten me tired and a bit overwhelmed. I’m sure Laura will still be stressed with all the cooking and baking she’s about to do for the coming weeks, but hopefully, her belly will be happy with it. I know mine will be!

Stay tuned for next week’s theme, behind the scenes! We will be sharing some hot unicorn tips, must-haves, tricks, tools, kitchen magic, etc.

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Vegan Mofo Day 27: Soup, Sandwich, and Salad Saturday: Salad tips

So far this Saturday theme has been all about soups and sandwiches, like my recipe for Jackfruit Chicken Noodle Soup, California Club Sandwich with Nori Bac’non, and Easy Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil Grilled Cheese. Today, I’m going to finally address some salads.

I have been trying to eat a salad almost daily for a meal for over a year now. At first, I figured I’d just put as many vegetables as I could possibly chop and cram into a large bowl with not much else, but there was so much chewing involved that I ended up eating it for over an hour. That wasn’t too fun.

Eventually I started getting the hang of it. To make a good meal salad, you typically need more than veggies. Although protein isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be, we still need a minimum amount each day at least. That can be hard if you eat one meal a day without any substantial source of it.

For a long time I was obsessed with Boca Chick’n patties on my salads. I’d cook them in the oven, cut them up and toss them in. Nowadays, not so much. They’re a bit expensive and I’m not really a fan of them for other reasons as well. Sometimes I will get them as a treat, though or if they’re on sale.

Here’s a few salads I have made in the past:

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This is I believe the Thanksgiving salad I had blogged about awhile back.

IMG_1348Here is the Burrito Explosion salad, also made awhile back.

Anyways, I think I’ve developed a bit of a formula for the perfect meal salad. It requires a delicate balance of textures and ingredients.

I’ve composed a little menu of different types of ingredients and things you can choose from to create the perfect salad. Each heading has the explanation of how many you should include…

The Base (2-3 cups)-Greens of some type:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Mixed spring greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

(You get the idea, you can mix say, 1 cup of spinach with 2 cups of romaine, or any other combination you desire here)

The Protein- Usually soft (1-2 servings):

  • Some type of your favorite veggie burger, chopped up
  • Beans of any type
  • Edamame
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Seitan
  • Marinated and grilled tofu (or even plain tofu)
  • Tempeh
  • Tofurky slices
  • Gardein Products
  • Any other meat substitutes, like Beyond Meat

The crunchy element (1-3 things):

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Carrot rounds
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Croutons
  • Crunchy Tortillas
  • Potato chips (yes, I’ve done this!)
  • Crispy fried vegetables like onions (or I like these crispy fried red pepper strips that I get in the salad supplies in the grocery store)
  • Wontons or crispy lo mein noodles
  • Water chestnuts
  • Pickles

Other optional additions:

  • Baby corn
  • Regular corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Dried Cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, like goji berries or whatever
  • Red onion
  • Olives
  • Beets
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Vegan Cottage Cheese (my recipe can be found here)
  • Basically anything you desire and think up!

The Smooth (dressing):

I try to base the dressing I select on the rest of the ingredients I have used. If it has a certain area of the world associated with the flavors, I will try to honor that. For example, maybe a salad with spinach and napa cabbage, tofu, sesame seeds, water chestnuts, wontons, and baby corn with have an Asian Ginger Sesame dressing. Or a salad with romaine, black beans, tortillas, carrots, red onion, and salsa will have a spicy South American style dressing, maybe by combining salsa with vegan sour cream and some hot sauce, even.

Avocados are also a great thing to add if you don’t want to add dressing, or if you want to make a dressing with them!

Here’s a good big list of no oil dressings you can make yourself that are easy and I’ve tried many of them. I really liked E2 Basics recipe for a long time…

I also wanted to share two of my favorite salads I have made through other vegan blogs that seem to fit my expectations:

Donut Salad from Bake And Destroy

Aloha Salad from Healthy Happy Life

There ya go! What are some of your favorite salad ingredients? Tell me in the comments.

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Salad of the week: Thanksgiving Salad!

Okay, so I have to admit I have been making so many pumpkin things lately I’m starting to get a bit pumpkin’d out.

Today for my Salad of the week I made a salad that reminds me of those thanksgiving sandwiches. The ones with like, leftover Tofurky, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and whatever. It doesn’t have stuffing in it unfortunately. But it still tastes super good with breaded vegan chickun patties (I used a cut up Boca patty).

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I made my own creamy poultry seasoning dressing as well. It sounds weird but it tastes pretty good all together!

Here’s what I did:

To make the dressing: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lite silken tofu (the kind that is refrigerated in a pack like regular tofu, not the small vacuumed pack Nori Nu kind
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp vegan poultry spice/seasoning blend (or make your own…there should be tons of them if you google it)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and pulse until fully combined. You can adjust seasoning to your liking as you go or afterwards as needed.

To make the salad:

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp jelly cranberry sauce (the kind I found at my local grocery store IS vegan…but here is a recipe from a vegan blog if you cannot find that near you, or prefer to make it from scratch)
  • Vegan chicken or turkey cut into pieces (You can use whatever! Would be good with leftover Tofurky roast, or Tofurky slices, but I used Boca fake chicken breaded patties to give it a breaded kind of flavor reminiscent of stuffing)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup pecans
  • As much dressing (above) as desired.
  • Roasted butternut squash chunks (Optional)

Directions:

It’s kind of obvious! Make a salad with these ingredients! I found that this was one of those salads that taste extra good when you really mix up the ingredients well instead of leaving them separate. Sometimes I want to put my salad dressing on before I finish putting all the ingredients together, but I always refrain because then everything gets too soggy.

I haven’t tried it with the butternut squash yet but I think it will be amazing and am going to roast it now and put it in tomorrow! Yum!

I actually veganized it! My Family’s favorite. Tarragon Grape Unchicken (soy curls) Salad!

First of all, most of the credit for this recipe’s delicious flavors go to my mother, who makes the non-vegan version. I just basically veganized it.

Second, I want to rave about how awesome soy curls are. I don’t know if any other companies make them besides the Butler brand, and whether I can find them locally (I usually buy them online when I make a veganessentials purchase) but they are the best. They have the best texture, taste, and are so versatile to work with.

I’ve made them breaded and broiled, in buffalo tarts, and probably other things I can’t remember prior to this. All were delicious.

This time I thought, hmm, I bet they’d make a good faux chicken salad!

So I put a vegan spin on one of the rest of my family’s all time non-vegan favorite recipes, so now I can eat it too!

tarragon grape unchicken salad

 

This makes a lot, you can half it pretty easily I bet.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • Water
  • Whole package Butler Soy Curls
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (the one I found is various spices and herbs and some salt and pepper in it–completely vegan)
  • 21 grams (a small package at my grocery store in the produce section) of fresh tarragon
  • 1 cup vegenaise
  • 3 medium stalks raw celery, chopped
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes cut into halves

Directions:

  1. First, re-hydrate the soy curls. Basically what I did was pour the whole package of those weird looking things into a medium sized mixing bowl, and then poured in the vegetable broth. The vegetable broth didn’t cover them completely, so I added enough water after that to cover them. I think you could use just water for the whole thing, but the soy curls absorb some of the flavor of the broth which makes it extra tasty.
  2. Let the soy curls sit in the bowl and broth/water mixture for 10-15 mins until soft.
  3. Drain most of the liquid out with a strainer. You still want them wet but you don’t want a lot of extra liquid, maybe only like 3 tbsp extra at most.
  4. Take out your food processor. Pour the soy curls into it.
  5. Add the poultry seasoning.
  6. Pulse several times until the soy curls are chopped and the seasoning is combined into them. You do not want them mushy or pureed-like at all. Just kind of flaky and still a little rough.  Keep your food processor out because you’ll need it again.
  7. Place the soy curls back in the mixing bowl.
  8. Add vegenaise and combine.
  9. Remove the stems from the tarragon, and place into the food processor.
  10. Chop them finely but leave them still slightly whole.
  11. With a spatula, fold into the soy curls and vegenaise mixture.
  12. Add chopped celery and grapes, fold.
  13. And voila! It’s done! Gobble it up and tell me how it is!

I’m going to place this unchicken salad over lettuce and add some raw almonds and eat this for my salad this week, so this is essentially my salad of the week post.

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Salad of the Week! Burrito Explosion Salad!

It’s a good thing I was craving burritos when I planned this salad. I think this is my favorite salad creation so far!

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Since I usually cook a fair amount of food each week, and have a salad every day, I’m somewhat lazy when it comes to making the ingredients of this salad. Most of them were store bought or really easy.  If you want to, I’d recommend making a mango salsa and maybe the tortilla crisps on your own. I was able to find both these pre-made and vegan very easily, so I didn’t see the point, but that’s just me.

First, you need to make the dressing. I used the recipe for The Healthy Librarian’s Creamy Chipotle Dressing in this list of oil-free or low oil dressings online. I did add a ton more extra nutritional yeast to the recipe (I think like 3-4 more tablespoons?) and ended up adding a tbsp of water because that thickens it up a lot.

Then, you make the salad.

I use:

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2 cups lettuce

1/2 cup black beans

1/4 an avocado, chopped

4 tbsp crunchy tortilla strips

5 tbsp mango salsa

and 4 tbsp of the dressing

According to my calculations this salad is 348 calories with the ingredients I use, so that’s the perfect healthy lunch for me! It seems like a really luxurious and fattening salad, but really isn’t, as most of the fat is the healthy kind!

See you tomorrow for the recap of all my cooking adventures in Food Porn Friday!

Vegan Salad of the week: Vegan Mediterranean “Chicken” Salad with vegan Caesar dressing

Okay, so I’m setting a goal again to eat a large salad for one meal a day as part of my health goals. This easily helps me get enough (or more than enough) servings of veggies daily, and keeps my caloric intake for trying to lose weight easier to manage.

I’ve been experimenting with healthy salad dressings and somewhere down the line someone clued me into this online list of oil free dressings: here. I’m going to experiment with salads based on some of these dressing recipes in the next couple of weeks.

At first when I started making salads, I would stick as many vegetables in it as I could but it took me about 45 minutes to chop everything myself, and was sometimes difficult to force myself to eat with full servings or more of cucumber slices, carrots, etc. It would take me an hour or longer to chew everything, as well, haha. So eventually I reduced the amount of vegetables and went for easier salads.

My favorite salad for the longest time was 2 cups of lettuce, 3-4 sliced sweet gherkin pickles, 4 sliced pickled beets chopped up even smaller, a baked boca “chicken” patty, 1/8 cup raw almonds, and this dressing. But eventually I ate that salad so many times that I’m probably not going to eat it any time soon!

So that’s what lead me to decide to try and invent a new salad every week! Here’s this week’s creation.

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First I made the Caesar dressing from Sexy Tofu, except I added 2 extra tbsp of nutritional yeast because I’m having difficulty meeting my b-12 intake without extra nooch. I try to add more whenever I can, and I don’t think it made it taste bad or anything, it’s still super delicious.

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I’m posing with the croutons while being photographed making the salad, haha

I was going to make my own croutons, but in my search for a good vegan bread to make them out of I got discouraged and also was hungry and planning to make the salad for my next meal, so I gave up and bought some Mediterranean herb flavored croutons that happen to be vegan. I got them from a local grocery store called East Side Market in Providence, it seems to have a good selection of kosher and middle eastern type foods, I think this is why they carry them and that they’re vegan too. They’re actually a product of Israel. They have a distinct taste, are a great, crunchy texture and the spices really give it that distinct kind of Mediterranean taste. I put 4 tbsp of the croutons (they’re very small making it possible to fit them in a tablespoon easily) in the salad.

Basically, the salad is:

2 cups chopped lettuce

2 tbsp of the caesar dressing

4 tbsp mini Mediterranean herbed croutons (if you can’t find this style of crouton, it’d be awesome to make your own croutons, and it’s really easy and delicious. All you do is take a half a loaf of bread of your choice–rye or pumpernickel or a mix works really well, or any bread that isn’t really soft–Cut it up into small chunks, stick in a plastic bag, drizzle some olive oil into the bag, shake to coat the bread with oil, add whatever herbs and spices you like, shake the bag of bread and oil again to coat, and stick in a 275 degree oven, checking every 15 mins until the croutons are completely crunchy!)

1 roasted red pepper chopped small

8 whole black olives

Fake chicken of some type. I bet beyond meat would be really good. I just use a baked boca chicken patty that I cut up small

1/2 tsp vegan parmesan (Okay, so you can make your own in various recipes found in cookbooks and online but I really doubt any of those will taste as parmesan-y as Galaxy Food’s Go Veggie Vegan alternative. I don’t know how they do it but it really does have that sharp parmesan flavor. It’s also a really fine texture which I believe would be difficult to duplicate on your own. But yeah, if you’ve found a good homemade version, let me know! Here’s what it looks like:

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make sure you see the yellow “vegan” text in the right hand corner, because I believe they do make other kinds that are dairy free but not vegan

So that’s my salad I’m eating for this week.

Stay tuned next week to see what new salad creation I come up with. It’ll probably get posted on Monday or Wednesday, but I’m not completely sure yet.