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When I got my braces on in middle school, my orthodontist gave me a rather long list of foods I’d have to strike from my diet for two or so years – it included, but was not limited to, bubble gum, pizza and corn on the cob. Quite a price to pay for straight choppers – especially when summertime barbecues rolled around. If it wasn’t bad enough that I had to eat pizza with a fork and knife, backyard picnics weren’t quite the same now that corn and I couldn’t be together anymore.
Eventually though, my mom came to the rescue – instead of chewing the corn straight off the cob, she used a knife to slice it off the cob off in beautiful yellow slabs. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this “new” delicacy – in fact, I’ve been braces-free for almost a decade now, but this is still my preferred method when it comes to corn.
With Memorial Day weekend in progress and summer on the horizon, the time for corn is now. Make sure you get fresh, sweet corn for this recipe – canned corn has a tendency to get mushy. To make sure you pick a winner, pull the husk and silk back slightly and prick one of the kernels with your nail. It it squirts millky white juice, you’re good to go!
I roasted my corn, but this would be fabulous with grilled corn as well! Either of these methods will highlight the corn’s natural sweetness.
Enjoy as side dish at a barbecue, or add some crumbled pressed tofu to make it a substantial lunch.
Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad
2 ears fresh white or yellow corn, husks on
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt & Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Place corn directly on oven rack and roast for 30 minutes, or until corn is soft. Let cool slightly before removing husks and silks. Holding the cob vertically at a slight angle, slice corn off in large slabs. Place kernels in a large bowl.
2. Add the beans, bell pepper, green onions and cilantro to the corn and mix thoroughly.
3. In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, oil, spices, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Dress salad and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.
Nutrition per Serving: 148 calories, 1g fat, 32g carbohydrates, 9g protein.
Seitan with Peppers and Gravy is the dish to make for the skeptics in your life – your “steak-and-potatoes” boyfriend, your traditional grandmother, that one co-worker that makes a lame twigs-and-leaves comment when you heat up your lunch. Think of this dish as the friendly ambassador of vegan cooking – it’s familiar, comforting and all-around delicious.
I only discovered seitan recently, but ever since, I’ve been absolutely hooked. Also known as “wheat meat”, seitan is high in protein, low in calories and an almost spot-on substitute for tender, juicy chunks of meat.
I adapted this dish from my grandmother’s recipe for Pepper Steak, using a batch of homemade seitan from this recipe at The Post-Punk Kitchen, but you can use store-bought seitan if you’re pressed for time. If you do decide to go the store-bought route, however, you’ll need to make the gravy separately.
Even I was shocked at how close the finished product came to the original – I think Grandma would be proud.
There are two big keys in the success of this dish – the first is to cook the green peppers until they are very soft, almost mushy. The second key is to serve this over white rice. I know, I know, brown rice is generally the healthier option, lower in carbohydrates and lower on the glycemic index, but it just doesn’t absorb the gravy the way good ol’ white rice does. In fact, I would argue that the best part of the whole thing is the gravy-soaked rice at the bottom of the bowl. It just isn’t complete without it – you gotta trust me on this one.
Seitan with Peppers and Gravy
1 lb. seitan, sliced and lightly browned
1 large onion, cut in half-moons
5 green bell peppers, cut into strips
Reserved simmering broth from seitan*
Corn starch + cold water
Garlic powder, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste
*If using store-bought seitan, make the gravy from 4 cups water, 4 cups vegetable broth and 1/4 cup soy sauce.
1. In a very large pan, cook the onion until golden brown and softened.
2. Add the simmering broth and green pepper strips, adding water if broth does not completely cover the peppers and onions. Bring to a simmer and cover.
3. Cook until the green peppers are very soft and almost falling apart. In a cup, combine corn starch and cold water to form a thick liquid, and pour in slowly, being sure to break up any lumps. The gravy will lighten and gradually thicken.
4. Reduce heat and add browned seitan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce if desired.
5. Serve in a bowl or plate over white rice.
Nutrition per 1/4 Recipe, without rice: 281 calories, 5g fat, 32g carbohydrates, 30g protein.
Nutrition per 1/6 Recipe, without rice: 187 calories, 3g fat, 21g carbohydrates, 20g protein.
But for a lot of vegans, breakfast – especially a quick, easy breakfast – can be something of a challenge. Of course, tofu scramble is a popular favorite, but when it’s still dark out and I’m getting ready for work, I like being able to reach into the fridge, grab a few things and head out the door – bonus points if it’s something I can feel good about by lunch.
I make a big batch of these mini frittatas in the beginning of the week so that I have them waiting and ready in the refrigerator for breakfast, or a protein-packed snack. And, as with most of the dishes I make, the recipe is a great fridge-cleaner. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand (or whatever tickles your fancy).
By themselves, these mini frittatas make for a low-calorie (but filling!) breakfast – two frittatas packs 21 grams of protein into 222 little calories. However, when I look at these little colorful muffins, I can’t help but imagine them piled on an english muffin with soy cheese and a vegan sausage patty to assemble – dare I say it? – a McVegan.
And you thought your breakfast sandwich days were over!
Mini Tofu Frittatas
Vegan & Gluten-Free
16oz. extra-firm tofu, drained
1 10oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced finely
1/2 red onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 stalks scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons brown mustard
Salt & Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375º.
2. In a small skillet, sweat the onion, garlic, bell pepper and scallions until they are just softened and have not yet started to brown.
3. While the veggies soften, use your hands to crumble the tofu in a mixing bowl until it resembles ricotta cheese – the finer the better.
4. Add the spinach, cooked veggies, soy sauce, turmeric, mustard and nutritional yeast to the tofu and mix until well-incorporated. Press the mixture into a well-greased muffin tin.
5. Bake mini frittatas for 25-30 minutes. They should be slightly browned on top and start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Nutrition per Serving: 111 calories, 4g fat, 6g carbohydrates, 10g protein.