#Vegan Recipe: BBQ Tofu Salad (Perfect leftover use!)

It all starts with Cross Country. It is upon us.

Starting tomorrow and continuing for the next two months, I will be traveling on an un-air conditioned yellow school bus to various invitational cross country meets in Southern California. Let me change that slightly to make you feel even sorrier for me. I will be traveling on that bus with 31 teenagers.

Actually I jest. I love my team and actually enjoy the bus ride (pillows are key!). This week our meet is at Cal Poly in Pomona, so we’re looking at a two hour drive. Add the actual races and the lunch stop in there, you’re saying goodbye to Saturday. Not to mention the bus leaves from the school at 5:00 am. Yes, you read that right.

That brings me, finally, to my point. I love coaching cross country but it is very time consuming. We have practice daily (except Sunday, thank goodness), the meet on Saturday, plus I have rosters to type, results to compile, etc. Of course, I have a full time job, and this whole blogging thing. Plus, you know, I like to exercise a bit here and there. I am fortunate that my husband is my co-coach, so at least we get to see each other during cross country season.

I am time challenged! There are not enough hours in the day. Something’s got to give!

What seems to give first is food preparation. Generally, I cook at home almost all the time. I do that for many reasons. I love to cook, it is obviously much healthier, restaurant food is expensive, plus the lack of vegan restaurants in my area discourages eating out.

Just because I’m busy, I don’t want to give up healthy eating. I am not and never will be organized enough to prepare a full week’s worth of dinners on Sunday. Plus, I’d be spending my only real day off in the kitchen. Instead, I think BIG. Instead of using my small bit of leftovers for lunch, I prepare enough food for at least two meals. Alan’s happy as long as there is one day in between the same dish. And I’m happy to have an easy meal to prepare (can you say “reheat?”)

The other way to think BIG is to use the leftovers to create an entirely different dish. Think of the variations on leftover Thanksgiving turkey. That is what I did for this BBQ Tofu Salad. The other night, I prepared the barbecued tofu (I should say BBQ-style because I cooked it in the oven), and served it with corn. I made an extra portion knowing that I would do something with it later on in the week. This salad is the result.

Before we get to the recipe, check out my video of my Cross Country team rockin’ a gym workout!

Cross Country

 

BBQ Tofu Salad with Arugula and Smoky & Spicy Ranch Dressing

The BBQ tofu was leftovers, but I originally prepared it by slicing a drained block of tofu into three slices, marinating in a mixture of 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon Sriracha (or other hot sauce), 1 teaspoon liquid smoke. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for about a half hour. We had two of the slices for dinner and I refrigerated the third slice.

Since the leftover tofu is cold, you might want to warm it up a bit before putting it in the salad. Cut it into small cubes. Combine arugula (or other favorite greens), tomato, yellow pepper, green onions, kidney beans (or other beans of choice), radishes, avocado, and tofu. Toss together with Smoky and Spicy Ranch Dressing (I used the dressing from this recipe and added 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke). Feel free to switch up veggies, add some nuts or seeds, etc. It’s your salad. Enjoy.

One nice thing about those long bus rides. If I bring my computer, they’re perfect for getting some writing done!

Idyllwild

Enjoy my last free weekend for a while last week in Idyllwild.

How do you manage eating healthy in spite of your busy schedule? Any tips to share?

Tofu Scramble: It’s What’s For Dinner (and Breakfast)

I love me a good tofu scramble.

The problem is, when I want it, like after a long run or bike ride, or a tough yoga class, I want it. I do not want to cook it. I want it NOW!

Since I live in an area that does not have a vegan/vegetarian restaurant and no other restaurants that are progressive enough to think that offering a vegan option for breakfast would be a great idea, I have no one to cook it for me.

So what’s a girl to do?

My solution: Make up a big batch of tofu scramble for dinner. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers, then enjoy later for my favorite meal of the week: Post Workout Breakfast!

I can’t believe I never thought of this before. I am the original pizza for breakfast girl (yes, I am). I always keep leftovers in mind when I’m preparing dinner, usually to take to work for lunch.

So anyway, the lightbulb finally when off in my head this week after my hankering for a tofu scramble breakfast went unrequited once again, and I decided to make it for dinner instead. I thought, what if I double it up?

Tofu Scramble Dinner/Breakfast – (makes enough for dinner for two and either one big or two small breakfasts)
16 ounce package of firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed.
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Pepper to taste
1 small onion, chopped
2-4 small red potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 Serrano chili, minced
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
Olive oil (for cooking)

Instructions
Blend your spices, including the nutritional yeast, together. In a small bowl, break up your tofu into small pieces. Sprinkle in the spice blend. You may add a tablespoon of water to help with the blending.

Preheat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for a couple minutes. Add the potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes start to brown. Add the chile and cook one minute more. Add the mushrooms and a little water to the pan, the reduce the heat to medium, cover and let cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 5-8 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.

Remove the lid and add the tomatoes and the tofu. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for five minutes. Tofu might brown a little, but don’t let it stick to the pan.

Serve with toast or tortillas

Other Optional Additions:
1/2 package Soyrizo
Red, yellow, orange, or green peppers – I am not a big fan, so I don’t use them too much, but if you like them, go for it.
Really, any vegetable that you like, spinach, broccoli, etc.
vegan cheese

I happened to have a can of cajun style beans that I had bought by accident (don’t ask me how because I’m such a label reader. I must have looked at the picture, which looked like red beans). I heated those up, adding about a half of a serrano pepper (yes, I love them), and served the beans on the side, with tortillas.

Then, two days later, I enjoyed my work-free, post-workout, tofu scramble breakfast. Better than going out to eat!

What is your favorite post workout and/or weekend meal?

Do you like dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner?

Note: I am definitely getting old. After writing this post, I did a search on my own blog to link to a post I wrote a few months ago when we were in Encinitas and I had a tofu scramble. I found this, which is very similar in content to this post. The recipe is different, though, so I’m going to publish this anyway. I apologize for my memory loss (but at least you get two tofu scramble recipes out of it!).

Easiest Tofu Bake Ever! Vegan Recipe

I love to cook. Even though I work full time, run a few days a week, take a yoga class once or twice, and try to keep up with my writing (plus cross country starts next week, meaning coaching practice 4-5 days per week), I try to prepare a homemade dinner most nights of the week. I enjoy the time in the kitchen, finding it relaxing to be creative with food (the glass of wine in nice, too!).

While I like following recipes from my favorite cookbooks (current faves include Viva Vegan!, by Terry Hope Romero, Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the Indian Vegan Kitchen, by Madhu Gadia, and my all time, the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook, by Tanya Petrovna), I really love making up recipes myself. I have a talent for being able to throw ingredients together, and somehow they taste good. I’m definitely not a trained chef, and my recipes are simple and basic, which is one of the reasons they are very doable for someone with a busy schedule.

With all that being said, I’m like anybody else who works hard. Sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking. Restaurants are an occasional option, but Alan and I really like eating at home. So it was last night when I walked into the kitchen to prepare dinner, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to make.

My first thought was to use up the potato salad from the 4th and grill up some bbq tofu. But when I started to think up a marinade for the tofu, I saw some salsa in the fridge and my mind turned in a different direction. The tofu was already pressed, so I put two slices in a dish and poured the salsa on top.

Now, though, the potato salad didn’t seem to fit. It looked like I was going in a Mexican-like direction, so I pulled out a can of pinto beans, and suddenly had a plan.

Easiest Tofu Bake Ever

Ingredients
8 ounces tofu, pressed and cut into slices or wedges
1 cup salsa
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
2 tablespoons vegan shredded cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400

Place the tofu slices in a small baking dish. Pour the salsa over the top, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Lift the tofu to allow some salsa underneath, making sure to spoon it back over the top of the tofu. Pour the beans around the tofu.  Spoon the cream cheese on top, then spoon on the rest of the salsa. Cover and bake for a half hour or until the beans and salsa are hot and bubbly. Sprinkle on the cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.

Makes two servings

That’s all there is to it. Excluding pressing and baking time, only about 5 minutes of hands on prep work. The tofu absorbs the spicy salsa flavor, the cream cheese makes the sauce, well, creamy, and the beans add a fiber packed punch.

This morning I was well fueled for a four mile run. Last week, my schedule was a little wacky because of the holiday, and I only had time for one short mid-week run. It felt good to get out, even though the temperatures were in the mid eighties by 6:00 this morning. Planning for a little longer run tomorrow, I’m afraid we’re going to have start getting out even earlier in the morning. I’m thinking not only of myself, but my running partner Penny, my Dalmatian. She’s stuck wearing a coat, after all.

I’d planned for yoga class today, but felt tired and unmotivated. Instead, I took a little nap and woke up feeling much better.   I’ll definitely make it tomorrow.

As I was writing this post, my cable internet suddenly went out (television and telephone, too), and I lost the last few paragraphs that I was writing, plus I’ll have to go back and reinsert the last few photos. I try to save my work frequently, but I got caught this time. It never seems the same when you have to go back and rewrite from memory. It loses something. I even have Live Writer, which protects you from this sort of thing, but was I using it? No, I was not.

Hopefully I’ll be up and running before too long (before I have to go back and change the ‘todays’ to ‘yesterdays’ ).

Note: The internet came back on and, wonder of wonders, I was able to get my work back! Hurray! Still, I should use Live Writer.

Note #2: The Internet went down again before I could post, but at least everything was saved. Now I am proofing and finishing up on my phone, so please pardon any typos.

Questions:
If you blog, do you do it online or use an offline program? Which one?
Did you (run, bike, walk, yoga, lift, swim) today? How’d it go?
Do you like to cook? If so, what’s your favorite dish? If not, what’s your favorite restaurant?

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate, and if you click on any of the cookbook links and purchase, I receive a small, and I mean very small, percentage.

Triple Protein Packed Salad. Recipe. Vegan.

As any vegetarian or vegan knows, the most frequent question that we are asked is, “Where do you get your protein?”

And the vegan standard answer is, “everywhere. Most food has protein and if you are eating enough calories, you are probably getting enough protein.”

The need for protein is seriously over-exaggerated in the minds of most Americans. If you ask a random person off the street why humans need meat, chances are he will say, “for the protein.” In actuality, we need less than we think. Even for body builders, serious weight lifters, boxers, and endurance athletes, it is not difficult to get plenty of protein on a vegan diet. Check out Robert Cheeke, Ryan Wilson, Tim Bradley, and Scott Jurek.

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

Basically, depending on your activity level, you need .36-.81 grams of protein per pound of body weight (source). Suggested numbers can vary, though. In this article, vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke discusses his diet and uses the suggested amount of 1.0-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight for athletes and bodybuilders. For myself, when I do the calculations I need about 78 grams of protein per day.

Just because I can easily get enough protein doesn’t mean I should just take it for granted. Because plant proteins are absorbed differently than animal sources, I must make sure that I get my protein from a variety of foods and possibly aim for a slightly higher ratio of protein grams to body weight (source) .

This salad is triple packed with protein. In addition to the greens and vegetables, which contain from 1-5 grams of protein per serving, plus an avocado which has about 7 grams, it also contains some super vegan protein sources: Tofu = 8 grams protein/3 ounces (I actually used Trader Joes High Protein tofu with 14 grams protein per 3 ounces), kidney beans = 7 grams per 1/2 cup and Quinoa = 5 grams per 1/2 cup.

You can compare the above to beef which has about 7 grams of protein per ounce.

Now, if you’re a vegan who has felt somewhat stumped by the “where do you get your protein” question, or an omnivore who has always wondered, I hope that you have a better understanding of our protein requirements and resources.

Triple Protein Packed Salad

Ingredients
8 ounces tofu, drained and pressed
2 Tablespoons tamari
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon Sriracha
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions and chilled
1 can kidney beans (or beans of your choice), drained and rinsed
3 cups mixed greens
1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup jicama, chopped
1/2 cup snow peas
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 avocado, cut into medium chunks
Vinaigrette Dressing of your choice – I used Mango Lime Vinaigrette from this recipe.

After pressing the tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine the tamari, broth, and Sriracha and marinate the tofu for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the tofu on all sides (reserving the marinade). When the tofu is brown, add the marinade, stir, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Remove the tofu from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Combine the greens, quinoa, beans, carrots, tomatoes, jicama, peas, and onions and toss lightly. Add the tofu and toss gently. You can serve now or chill. Add the avocado and dressing to taste right before serving.

Makes 2-3 “big salad” servings.

Protein-Packed-Salad-Vegan Recipe

Approximate Nutrition Data (based on 3 servings):

This chart does not include the extra protein that is in the high protein tofu. That would increase the amount to about 25 grams of protein per serving. If you are reducing calories in your diet, you can use a lower calorie dressing (or just use a little lemon–there is a lot of flavor in the salad already). You can also skip or reduce the amount of avocado. While avocados are delicious and very good for you, they do contain a lot of fat, albeit a good fat, so take that into consideration.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about protein needs and a vegetarian or vegan diet. If you have more questions, please ask in the comments. I will be happy to answer (or find the answer if I don’t know).

Easy Bruschetta Caprese (Vegan)

I was inspired to create this dish by a recipe on a so-called fitness blog that I used to follow. It was called grilled beef bruschetta with feta. Obviously, that grosses me out, so I didn’t read the recipe, but it started a little thought rolling in my head. (I stopped following this blog when the next post was about Texas steak and potatoes and talked about some stupid challenge from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. Really? Fit blog? How much more can you sell out? A lot more, apparently because when I checked in on the site as I was writing this paragraph, the most recent post is Taco Time, using, you guessed it, ground beef in the recipe. Complete with tips for purchasing the pink slime ground beef. Bye bye fitness blog, good riddance.)

In my vegan version, I decided to combine the tangy bruschetta with thinly sliced, marinated tofu (which beautifully replaces the fresh mozzarella in caprese) and pile it on a toasted baguette slice. This should be an appetizer, or maybe a side salad, but it was so yummy that Alan and I made it our entree.

Ingredients

1 Package Firm Tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1/4 inch thick squares (about the size of a baguette slice
3 thin slices red onion
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinaigrette
Salt and Pepper to taste

Four medium tomatoes, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh Baguette (vegan)
Olive oil to brush on bread, optional
Vegan mozzarella cheese to sprinkle on bread, optional

Method

Place the sliced tofu in a large dish. Pour the olive oil and vinegar over the top. break up the onion slices and place on top. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and salt and pepper. Stir carefully. Set aside.

Turn on oven to broil

Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Brush lightly on one side with olive oil (optional). Place under broiler until very lightly browned. Remove from oven and turn. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with cheese (optional). Place back under broiler until the cheese is melted.

Build your Bruschetta Caprese: On a slice of toasted baguette, place a slice of tofu with a few onion slices. Top with the bruschetta mixture.

brushetta capreseRecipe makes about 16.

No one died for this delicious appetizer.

Tofu, Potato, and Mushroom Burrito. Vegan Recipe

I have several go-to burrito recipes (including this one), but one of my goals for the new year is to eat more whole food, so I decided to skip the fake meat in this meal. I used tofu, but you can make it without if you like. Try to cut the tofu, potato, and mushroom into like-size cubes. While I used vegan cheese, I used very little and you can skip it if you’d like. I probably should have, since cutting down is one of those aforementioned goals, but I had some in the fridge and I really used very little. Really.

If you are reducing your gluten, you can make this dish gluten-free by substituting gluten free tortillas.

Tofu, Potato, and Mushroom Burrito

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper (seeded if you must)
1 small potato, cut into small cubes
8 oz. extra firm tofu, drained, cut into small cubes
1.5 cups button mushrooms, stemmed, and either halved or quartered, depending on size
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup water

Flour Tortillas (use corn or gluten free tortillas to make this dish gluten free)
Rice (I prepare my rice using salsa to replace some of the water, giving it a nice bite)
Your favorite burrito toppings. I used Daiya cheese, avocados, and salsa fresca.

Preparation

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook for a minute then add the Serrano or Jalapeno pepper.  Cook for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Stir in potatoes and cook for a few more minutes until the potatoes start to brown a little. Reduce the heat to medium, add the tofu and mushrooms. Cook for two or three minutes, stirring often. Stir in cumin, salt and pepper. Return the heat to medium high, add the water and salsa and bring to a slow boil. Stir in the beans. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 10 more minutes or until potatoes are cooked and liquid is reduced.

Heat your tortillas and build your burritos.

Extra bonus: I heated up some of the leftovers and served it mixed with yet another chopped salad for dinner tonight. Excellent!