E2 Week: Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

Of course, these pancakes are beautiful. Bright yellow, smothered in wild blueberries–there is no way to go wrong with that.

See what I mean? There’s a problem, though, and it comes from adapting a recipe too far. Oh, Engine 2 Diet, you can’t take all the sugar out of a recipe with the juice and zest of two full lemons! Since this recipe is adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance, I could check the original–eliminating the oil is one thing (since pancakes sort of don’t need it, if you grease your pan appropriately) but the sugar? THE SUGAR? It’s sort of like thinking you’re going to drink a big glass of lemonade, and what you get is a fresh glass of straight lemon juice. With salt in it.

My husband called these “bitter cakes” for a very good reason. Next time I make them–and I’m determined to make them again!–I’ll add only 1 or 2 teaspoons of zest, the same amount of lemon juice (it’s about 1/4 of a cup), and a tablespoon of raw sugar.

There were two exciting discoveries that came from this breakfast, though: 1. I LOVE soy yogurt. I think I tried it early on, when my tastes were still changing, and it seemed weird. But I ate a bit of the vanilla yogurt that went into these and it was amazing. So, yay! 2. Blueberry Syrup. I made this recipe off the top of my head, and then discovered that it was nearly identical to the one in VwaV. How do I do it?

Blueberry Syrup (makes enough for 4 servings of pancakes, used sparingly):

  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries (the small kind)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 or 2 tsp vanilla (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. The syrup should come together in the time it takes to make all your pancakes, and be gently warm–not burning hot. So, about 15 minutes.

E2 Week: Veggie Stir Fry

You know how Stir Fry is one of those really easy things to make…except when it’s not? Like the veggies are super mushy and the sauce is too salty or overpowering or gooey or bland?

This is not that Stir Fry.

This the basic Veggie Stir Fry from the Engine 2 Diet. Lots of seitan, simple flavors, tons of veggies. PS, I also cheated. It says to add things in one at a time–but I have a GIANT bag of stir fry veggies from Costco, so I just chucked a few handfuls into the pan. Also, I used twice as much garlic. Also, I added a tablespoon of sweet garlic chili sauce. Also, I put some Sriracha on it at the end. Blam! Delicious.

E2 Week: Sweet Potato Bowl

You have to admit, even if this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet didn’t taste good, it looks beautiful. Also, I got to eat an entire half of an avocado! I haven’t had that much avocado in one sitting in ages…so good. I partially decided to make this because it sounded so strange. Mango? Sweet potato? Balsamic Vinegar? Lime juice? Cilantro? It was a weird mishmash of different textures and tastes–mostly sweet and sour–that ended up working really well together. The only problem–too much cilantro. Normally I love the stuff, but it fought with the other flavors. Still–for a dish with no seasoning–this was amazingly flavorful. I’d for sure make it again, but I’d cut back on the pepper (so much bell pepper!) and, of course, the cilantro. Nice job, E2!

 

E2 Week: Enchiladas

It was only a matter of time before I started looking into the Engine 2 Diet, right? For one, I like them because they aren’t all vegany vegan, wanting you to give up honey and such. I also enjoy that they are all super manly, which helps get my supportive but occasionally reluctant husband more fired up about our plant-based diet.

For a long time, I thought E2 was just a weird fad diet, like the vegan Atkins, or Zone, or any of that nonsense. But we watched Forks Over Knives (you have to, or they take away your vegan card), and Rip convinced me to look into the book a little more. That, and my husband actually being able to climb a pole (at the playground) using only his hands while saying, “Real men eat plants!” If you’ve seen Forks Over Knives, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I’ve picked out a few recipes to showcase this week (though we’ll probably cook more from it, I’ll note when we do). The first is enchiladas, because it seemed delicious and somewhat representative of most of the recipes in the book.

You’ll probably be able to tell that I added black beans to the original E2 recipe. I happened to have some on hand, and I was slightly worried about the protein content of this dish, because it’s mainly spinach. Is spinach protein-y? I’m still not sure. Anyway, this was both easy and awesome. My only slight complaint is the hash browns, and it’s because I know better. You can’t just throw hash browns into a skillet and expect them not to stick. Especially when you don’t use oil. I mean–it won’t work. I should have just baked them for 10 minutes while the oven was warming anyway.

I also found it very difficult to locate vegan enchilada sauce. I located one from Frontera, but many of their products are not vegan. Carefully check the label! If you’re a vegan you know that already. That’s like saying, “hey, you! Remember to breathe!”

Southwest Pizza

After long debates with myself about calling this “Mexi-corn Pizza” I decided that was a) too racist, and b) too…corny to be posted on the blog. So, Southwest Pizza it is! Which is really more honest, anyway, since this doesn’t exactly resemble Mexican food in any fundamental way. Except for the cilantro and corn. And avocado.

This was one of those meals where I thought, “vegans get to eat this? And it’s healthy?” but it totally is. It’s weird when something feels sinfully good, but is also incredibly good for you. I suppose that’s what veganism is all about.

Southwest Pizza (makes 1 large pizza):

  • 1/2 recipe of pizza dough from Vegan with a Vengeance, or any kind of premade or other recipe dough you like.
  • 1 jar salsa (use as much as you like. I’d recommend getting something that seems saucy, as opposed to fresh salsa. I like Trader Joe’s.)
  • 1 small summer squash, sliced VERY thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 of a small onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s fake ground beef (it’s awesome) or any brand you like. You need about 1/2 cup of total fake meat.
  • 1/3 cup daiya pepperjack flavor (you can omit this, but it is delicious!)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish. And flavor!
  • hot sauce (I recommend Tapatio for this)

Now, roll out your dough. Have I given instructions about how to make pizza before? Yes! The real difference between this pizza and the link is that you order the toppings different: salsa, onions, garlic, squash, corn, then beef. Bake until the squash is done, being careful not to overcook the crust (so if you need to turn down the temp a little, that’s fine). Add the daiya, and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, until it’s nice and melted. Let the pizza cool and add the cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce.

Other toppings that would taste great: black olives, green onions (sprinkled on with the cilantro), green peppers, and diced green chilies.

My husband gave this pizza a rating of: “It made both my stomach and mouth happy.” Good enough for me!

 

Swedish Meetballs

Man, back in the day Swedish Meatballs were my jam. I used to make them all the time, with a recipe that would horrify anyone, not just vegans. First–bag of premade frozen meatballs. Add to that a jar (A JAR) of premade beef gravy, and a cup of sour cream. Throw in some instant rice and you have yourself a meal. Also, please let me state that I was a teenager when I was doing this, so I obviously didn’t know better. And you should be happy that I was at home making hideous Swedish Meatballs instead of…whatever it is normal teenagers do.

Anyway, now I’m a vegan and I know better, so I’ve made delicious Swedish Meetballs for you to enjoy guilt-free. No cans of gravy for you, mister!

Swedish Meetballs (serves 4):

  • One half recipe of Happy Herbivore’s Meatless Balls (teehee) or any recipe you like that makes 12 meatballs. You can even just cook some undoctored Gimme Lean in ball form and call it a day.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth (or more, if you like a thinner sauce)
  • 1 T liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 T vegan Worcestershire sauce (I usually make the Happy Herbivore version)
  • 2 T cashews (they don’t need to be raw, you can use whatever)
  • 2 T onion flakes
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T vegan mayo
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T cornstarch (use two for a SUPER THICK sauce)
  • 3/4 cup water

First, make your meatballs. I usually just make a ton and then freeze them in useable amounts, so I already had meatballs ready when I started this tonight. Easy!

Now, assemble the sour creamy secret sauce: take the cashews, onion flakes, and water, and place them in your food processor/blender. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Now, add the red wine vinegar, mayo, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch. Blend until really smooth. The sauce should still be quite thin, that’s what you want. It’ll thicken when you add it to the mushrooms.

Okay! Now start your mushrooms. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large-ish skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, until soft. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Now, add in your mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the veggie broth and liquid aminos and lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes. With the heat on low, add the creamy sauce to the mushroom sauce and stir until thickened to your liking.

Serve over rice or noodles, with the meatballs on top. I like to have asparagus with this dish, too, or some bread. Or if you’re feeling all IKEA that night, have some lingonberries!

Oktoberfesting

I love October. It is easily my favorite month of the year, followed only by December because it has my birthday in it. And because I’m still delighted by snow in December, not horrified by it and shaking my fist at the sky like I am in February.

Anyway, October is also the one time of year I drink beer. I don’t really care for beer, but out of due respect to Oktoberfest, and the one and a half years of German I took in college, I down half a bottle and call it a day.

I made Beer and Cheese Bratwurst! Well, obviously not really bratwurst, but it was still plenty delicious. My only possible complaint about them was that they were too sweet, but I find a lot of vegan meat to be sweeter than it’s evil meaty counterpart. Anyway, here’s the recipe:

Beer & Cheese Bratwurst (makes 4 large sausages):

  • 1/2 cup white or pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup TVP
  • 2 T daiya (or other vegan) cheddar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground marjoram
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch caraway seeds
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 cup of vegan beer, cider, or ale
  • 1 T soy sauce or liquid aminos

First, mash the beans really well with a fork, then add all the dry ingredients (including fake cheese). Mix them together really well before adding in the wet–the vital wheat gluten will make it come together super fast. Roll your sausages up in foil (see these directions) and place in your steaming apparatus. Steam sausages for 40 minutes, then let rest for at least an hour in the fridge. Reheat by baking (in a conventional or toaster) oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Or grill!

As delicious Oktoberfesty sides to the sausages, I made baby potatoes roasted with onion powder and garlic powder (it makes a delicious crust on the outside) and some braised cabbage (basically following the recipe for seitan and cabbage from Appetite for Reduction but with no seitan). I didn’t know you could cook red cabbage the same as green–but you can! And it’s just as good! If not better!

So get your Oktoberfest on!