Alan and I recently celebrated our 6th year as vegetarians, and soon it will be three years as vegans. Over the years, my plant based diet has changed quite a bit. As a new vegetarian, I ate a lot of meat substitutes, simply following my favorite recipes and substituting faux chicken for the real thing (even before I went veg I didn’t eat red meat and now have no urge for the fake version). In my post, Resources for New (or Wannabe) Vegans, I discussed how this can make the transition easier. When I became a vegan, I did the same thing for cheese (one of the hardest things for many people to give up). To be honest, just because I gave up animal foods doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the taste of meat and cheese.
Of course, eating a plant based diet also means finding a substitute for dairy milk. Never a huge fan of drinking milk by the glass, I nevertheless used it in cereal, coffee, baking, and cooking. I was happy to find that there were many milk alternatives available, made from rice, soy, coconut, and hemp among others. I tried many, enjoyed most, but finally tried and stuck with almond milk. Specifically Silk Pure Almond Milk (Unsweetened Original is my favorite), which, at 30 calories per serving has 50 fewer calories than fat free milk, just as much Vitamin D and more calcium.
As time has gone by, I have found less need to have a fake meat as a mainstay of my meals. I enjoyed learning to make creative, nutritious meals using beans, nuts, seeds, and a variety of vegetables and greens. I still use and enjoy my Silk Almond Milk, though, and use it for everything that calls for milk. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes and I was recently fortunate to find Silk’s 30 Recipes page on Facebook. Silk asked nutrition and fitness bloggers to rethink their favorite recipes (sound familiar?) using Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Original or Vanilla. The result is 30 recipes that are deliciously original and dairy-free.
Silk’s Facebook page inspired me to post my own recipe too. I’m here to let you know that “cheese” sauce is something you can still make and enjoy as a vegan. Potato Tornadoes are a fun transition recipe that use a chicken substitute, cheese substitute, and Silk Pure Almond Milk to make a cheesy, creamy stuffed potato.
- 2 large baking potatoes
- 4 ounces vegan chicken strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 1 Serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Original
- 1/2 cup vegan cheese
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Hot sauce
- Bake potatoes until fully cooked. Allow to cool enough to handle. Scoop out carefully (you’ll be using the skin shells to serve). Set aside.
- In a medium skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add vegan chicken and cook until brown. Set aside.
- Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and chiles and cook until soft. Stir in the potato, chicken and 1/2 cup cheese sauce (see below) and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through.
- Cheese sauce: Melt vegan butter over medium low heat. Add flour and stir until mixed. Add Silk Almond Milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add salt and vegan cheese and stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is thick and creamy.
- To serve: Fill each potato skin with half of the filling. Top each with half of the cheese sauce. Serve with hot sauce.