Monday, February 27, 2012

Hankering for "Meat"

I am becoming more adventurous when it comes to the category of meats, fake meats that is (did you think I was turning back to a carnivore?).  Before, the Tofurky and “meat crumbles” just kind of repulsed me.  And don’t get me wrong, I definitely don’t think that replacing meat with fake meat means you are eating healthy.  It’s still processed food and not whole food, meaning it’s probably lacking in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and likely loaded with sodium and preservatives.  But sometimes a girl just gets a hankering for a corn dog, or a delicious piece of sausage pizza.

A week ago I spent a fabulous three day weekend in KC with two of my dear friends.  The first night there we hit up a great restaurant and brewery called The Foundry.  They had bar food, and not just any bar food, but VEGAN BAR FOOD.  From my limited experience in Nebraska it is extremely difficult to find a credible bar that also serves a plethora of vegetarian and vegan dishes.  I took full advantage and ordered the “cheat lover’s pizza”…vegan Italian sausage, vegan cheese, ratatouille vegetables, wild mushrooms, basil, and red sauce.  It was nothing short of amazing!

On the same trip we went to RA, a sushi restaurant with a lot of vegetarian options.  I ended up getting the vegetarian rolls and Dengaku Tofu.  The tofu was deep fried and delicious…so hot and creamy.  I had not had tofu like this before!   

Maybe all of this tofu and vegan sausage wasn’t so disgusting after all.

This KC getaway led me to be a little more daring at my trip to Trader Joe’s last week.  I went on a week night while Jason was at class…which created the perfect storm.  I was:

1)      At Trader Joe’s on a slow night
2)      Not rushed
3)      ALONE

Yeah, I went a little crazy.  I picked up a few new items that I had not tried or seen there before; the soy corn dogs, soy chorizo and some firm tofu for good measure (along with numerous other items I will not bore you with).  I’ll admit I was still craving bar food at the time, but I managed to turn most of these items into fairly healthy meals (save the corn dogs).

For breakfast on Saturday I tried my hand at a tofu scramble that I had been reading about in so many vegan cookbooks and blogs.  The premise is that firm tofu crumbles into a consistency similar to scrambled eggs.  I also wanted to try out my chorizo for something a little different (spicy food for breakfast, what?).

I crumbled half of the container of firm tofu and added about an eighth of the chorizo, which also crumbled once the casing was removed.

Next I chopped half of a zucchini, 4 sundried tomatoes (comes in a huge jar from Costco), and a teaspoon full of chopped garlic (also from a huge jar from Costco).

I started by sautéing the veggies for a minute or two in a little olive oil.  Once softened, I added the tofu/chorizo mixture, a handful of torn spinach leaves, and then stir fried everything for a few minutes. 

I ate only half of the scramble Saturday along with my vegan almond butter waffle and a much needed cup of coffee.

I honestly kept forgetting that I was eating tofu, the consistency is that close to eggs…couldn’t tell a difference.  Jason even tried a bite, he said it didn’t have the flavor of eggs but the texture was the same.  The chorizo wasn’t super obvious as far as texture, it mainly added flavor to the dish as I didn’t need to add any additional spices.  Overall, I’d say it’s worth repeating for me, especially if I’m craving a big greasy breakfast (it really wasn't greasy).

To use up the remaining chorizo I decided to make a taco filling last night.  We made two taco fillings to be precise as Jason is not quite on board with the fake meats as of yet.  I started by chopping half of a red bell pepper, a quarter of an onion, and the remaining zucchini half from breakfast Saturday.

I boiled 1 cup of dry quinoa with 2 cups of water in the rice cooker.

Oh, and here’s proof I was cooking meat for the hubby.  I still don't miss meat itself, just the idea of meat.  Surprisingly the smell of ground turkey cooking really bothers me now.

The chopped veggies were sautéed in a little olive oil along with a teaspoon of chopped garlic.

Next I added the remaining chorizo (7/8 of a package to be precise).

Then, the cooked quinoa was added along with 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans.

Just so you know I had no clue what I was doing, completely flying by the seat of my pants.  But, it kind of resembled a sort of taco filling, right?  My goal was, protein, protein and more protein…hence the soy chorizo, quinoa AND black beans.

So my dear husband had come across this idea to make your own mini taco bowls.  I’m still wondering why I had not found this on Pinterest before?!  I think it’s totally Pinterest worthy (I'll fix that!).  Please refer to it for details on the bowl making.

We had mini taco bowls with our respective taco fillings, topped with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados, served with a side of Spanish rice.

I really liked the taco filling!  The chorizo gave it all the spice it needed while the quinoa and beans helped add more bulk to the recipe.  I have plenty of leftovers (which reheated well at lunch today) and I even froze a bag of taco filling for down the road.

Operation Fake Meats was a success overall.  I’ll admit, it’s sometimes hard to stick to a completely vegan diet.  Especially when everyone else around you is still indulging in cheese burgers (i.e. my patient’s lunch today, it smelled awesome), which is why I choose my battles.  I feel like the world of fake meat is good for the occasional splurge as a vegetarian.  It gives me a little of what I am missing without feeling completely crummy afterward.

Vegan Chorizo Tofu Scramble
(Makes 2 Servings)


½ package firm tofu, crumbled
1/8-1/4 package Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo, removed from casing and crumbled
½ zucchini, chopped
4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic or 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 handful torn spinach leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil


Heat olive oil in skillet.  Add veggies and sauté until softened.  Mix crumbled tofu and chorizo together in bowl and add to skillet.  Add torn spinach leaves. Stir fry for several minutes until desired texture achieved (I like my tofu slightly browned).

Vegan Chorizo Taco Filling
(Makes a lot, no clue on servings here)


1 package Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo, removed from casing and crumbled
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ zucchini, chopped
¼ onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic or 1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed


Heat oil in large skillet.  Cook quinoa according to directions (1 cup dry quinoa with 2 cups of water).  Add chopped vegetables to skillet, sauté until softened.  Add crumbled chorizo to skillet.  Add cooked quinoa and black beans to skillet.  Cook until heated through.

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