Things I learned this week:
- I can get the husband to eat and like tofu as long as I don’t tell him he’s eating it.
- Tofu pureed with nutritional yeast, garlic, and basil makes an excellent ricotta cheese substitute, especially for stuffed shells.
- Soaked cashews pureed with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt makes an amazing soft cheese. Perfect on crackers.
- Black beans are the best substitute for beef when making burgers.
I’ve made black bean burgers before, but always following someone else’s recipe. This time I had a beef burger recipe that had a really fun combination of ingredients that I wanted to try out, only without the beef.
Black Bean “Cheese” Burgers
Adapted from the “Kreator Burger” recipe, Clean Eating, Aug/Sept 2011
- 1 cup cooked black beans, roughly mashed
- 2 T instant oats
- 1 T diced green bell pepper
- 2 small mushrooms, chopped
- 1/4 c diced sweet onion
- 1 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove)
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 T chia seeds
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 2 T non-dairy cheddar cheese, such as Daiya
- Burger buns and toppings of choice
- Finely chop pepper, mushrooms, onion, and garlic in a food processor. Place mixture in a medium bowl. Stir in thyme, salt, pepper, mashed beans, and oats.
- Divide bean mixture in half. Form each half into a patty, then place on a non-stick baking sheet and chill for 1-2 hours.
- Take each patty in your hands, place 1 T of cheese in the middle, and fold patty over the cheese, completely covering it.
- Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Burgers are done when they’re no longer soft and start to brown on top.
And since fries always go with burgers: slice 3-4 baseball sized red potatoes into wedges, toss with olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika, garlic powder, parsley, and salt, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Since I don’t like buying a whole package of burger buns and only using two of them, I usually end up using frozen dinner rolls instead. So I made 4 sliders instead of 2 burgers so they’d fit on the buns. Worked out perfectly!
After being out of town for most of the week, I ended up making a grocery run Friday evening before I had a menu or a list. Navigating through Whole Foods is definitely hard without a plan! The husband had suggested making a pizza, so I tried to remember all the ingredients as I randomly pushed through the aisles. He had even told me he wanted a veggie pizza – maybe my lack of purchasing any animal products lately has rubbed off in a positive way? I can hope. 🙂
The pizza we ended up with was surprisingly delicious without any cheese whatsoever. I was very thankful – I have tried many vegan cheeses and they all have a weird taste to me. And considering they are all processed, fake cheese really does not have a place in my diet anyway. The husband insisted on cheese, and since we were sharing the pizza, he was kind enough to leave 1/3 of it free of dairy just for me. 🙂
Hawaiian Veggie Pizza
- 1 12-inch pizza crust
- 1/2 sweet yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup marinara or pizza sauce
- 1 can diced pineapple
- Dice onion and pepper. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan and cook veggies until the onions caramelize and the peppers are soft.
- Spread sauce evenly on crust. Top with veggies and pineapple.
- For you cheese lovers, top with shredded cheddar and Monterrey jack (the things I do to make my husband happy!)
- Bake pizza directly on oven rack or on a pizza pan for 8 minutes, or until heated through. Enjoy!
I think it was the sweetness of the pineapple and the onions that made me not miss having any gooey cheese, fake or not. Definitely one to make again!
Tonight’s menu was a staple in our house: nachos! It is really easy to cook up anything Mexican and have it suit both of our tastes and diets. I pretty much make the basics and we assemble them into nachos, tacos, burritos, salads, you name it!
Classic Vegan Nachos
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup salsa
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- organic yellow or blue corn tortilla chips
- 2 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped fine
- Mix beans with 1/4 cup salsa and cumin. Heat on stove or in microwave until warm. Mash with a fork until they reach the consistency of thick refried beans.
- Mash avocado in a bowl with a fork. Mix with a spoonful of salsa to make a quick guacamole (or sub with your favorite guac).
- Spread chips evenly on a plate. Top with bean mixture. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on beans and chips. Add guacamole and salsa. Garnish with lettuce and juice of half a lime, if desired.
Nutritional yeast is amazing. It has a mild cheddar taste and is one of the few natural plant sources of vitamin B12. Since I am determined to get all my nutrition from whole foods and not supplements, I am trying to incorporate this wonder food into my diet more. It can be tossed into anything for a little cheesy goodness. Mixed into hummus, sprinkled on pizza, or made into a pasta sauce, nutritional yeast can be easily added in to any diet.
These recipes are not earth-shattering. They’re not fancy. But they are easy, cheap, and delicious. So if you need some quick and healthy meals on a budget, give them a shot. They are definitely favorites in our house!