Crusted Tofu, Mashed Potatoes with White Bean Gravy and Massaged Collard Greens: Recipe #251

We learned recently how to make one of the best dinners you can imagine. You make a satisfying crusted tofu and pair it with cauliflower mashed potatoes, rich white bean gravy and a lemony collard salad. It’s a bit of effort but totally worth it. The tofu really tastes like chicken or fish when prepared this way, and mashed potatoes with gravy are always comforting. Deep thanks to Isa for inspiring this recipe.

Today’s insight comes from watching the Dalai Lama Summit: when you’re having a hard time with someone, you can generate compassion for them by remembering that they were once a little child, they grew up with conditioning that may be causing them to act harmfully, and they are a living being trying to be happy and not suffer, just like you.

You can still protect yourself of course, but you don’t have to feel so angry or resentful towards them if you have understanding and compassion for their suffering.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, which is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and yours.

Ingredients ($13 total)

Crusted tofu:
3/4 cup breadcrumbs – $0.17
1 tbsp garlic powder – $0.28
1 tbsp nutritional yeast – $0.10
3 tbsp soy sauce – $0.30
1 block of extra-firm tofu, patted dry and sliced into 8 slabs – $3.69
1 tbsp olive oil – $0.10

Cauliflower mashed potatoes:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets – $2.49
3-4 medium potatoes, cut into chunks – $0.90
2 tbsp vegan butter – $0.31
1 1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
Freshly ground pepper to taste

White bean gravy:
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth – $0.50
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour – $0.06
2 cloves garlic, minced – $0.08
1 tbsp olive oil – $0.10
1 tsp thyme – $0.28
1 tsp sage – $0.28
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (from can or from dry) – $0.79
2 tbsp soy sauce – $0.20
Salt and pepper to taste

Collard greens:
1 tbsp olive oil – $0.10
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice – $0.10
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
6 cups collard greens, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons – $1.79

Directions for Crusted Tofu, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Collards

1. Make the tofu. On a large plate, mix the breadcrumbs, garlic powder and nutritional yeast together. On another plate, pour the soy sauce. Dredge each piece of tofu first in the soy sauce and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the breadcrumbs into the tofu so it gets a nice coating.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add in 4 pieces of the tofu at a time. Cook for 4 minutes on one side, carefully flip with a metal spatula, then cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Add more oil if needed, and remove from the pan when it’s nicely browned on both sides. Cover with foil to keep them warm while you’re cooking the second batch.

2. Make the veggies. Put the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring it to a boil, then add the cauliflower. Boil for 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender, then drain the water, add the vegan butter and salt, and mash together.

In a large bowl, mix the collards, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together. Rub it all together with your hands until the greens are soft and wilted.

3. Make the gravy. In a small bowl, add the vegetable broth and flour, and stir into a thick mixture. In a small pan, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic, thyme, and sage together for 3-4 minutes until the garlic is golden.

In a blender, add the beans, thickened broth, garlic mixture, and soy sauce. Blend until very smooth, taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed, then return to the pot. Cook and stir for at least 10 minutes until the gravy is nice and thick.

Assemble your plate with a piece of crusted tofu, a scoop of cauliflower mashed potatoes covered in gravy, and a spoonful of lemony collard greens. Enjoy your own slice of blissful comfort!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Plant-Based Mac & Cheese: Recipe #250

This is a quick, easy, yummy dinner to throw together. You toss some cashews and cheesy sauce ingredients into a blender, boil the pasta and broccoli in the same pot, and then mix it all together. Plant-based mac & cheese is a new favorite at our house! It’s also comforting for people who used to eat dairy. Thanks to Isa for inspiration.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, which is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and yours.

Ingredients ($9 for a large pot)

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours or overnight – $2.00
1 cup vegetable broth – $0.50
1/4 cup nutritional yeast – $0.40
1/4 tsp turmeric – $0.07
1 tbsp lemon juice – $0.10
1/4 tsp paprika – $0.07
1 tsp garlic powder – $0.28
3/4 tsp salt – $0.04
1 pound curly pasta (or your favorite shape) – $2.99
1 bunch broccoli or baby broccoli, chopped – $2.79

Directions for Plant-Based Mac & Cheese

1. In a blender, measure out the soaked cashews, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, turmeric, lemon juice, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Blend until the sauce is very smooth.

In a large pot, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add in the pasta and broccoli. Cook for about 10 minutes or according to package directions, then drain the pasta/broccoli and return to the pot.

Pour the blender sauce onto the hot pasta.

2. Stir it all together in the pot and serve immediately, topped with plant-based parmesan cheese if you like. Enjoy your bowl of plant-based mac & cheese, so easy and filled with love!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Lemon Blueberry Drizzle Cake: Recipe #245

When I was lucky enough to still have my British grandmother alive, I would go over to visit her every Friday afternoon for tea time and puzzles and a chat. She always had some home-baked treats waiting for me. This recipe is a plant-based spin on her lemon blueberry drizzle cake: a classic English tea time treat.

And now for today’s mindfulness insight: it’s a good reminder that whenever people are being unkind or less than wonderful to us, it is only because they are in some kind of pain themselves. If I can generate compassion inside myself for their suffering, I am more likely to appreciate their struggle instead of reacting and getting angry with them.

We all want to be wonderful to each other. Sometimes we’re just too caught up in our own pain to be able to do that. My grandma was remarkably tolerant about other people’s emotions, and I keep trying to learn from her.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, which is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and yours.

Ingredients ($5 for one loaf)

Cake:
1 cup white whole wheat flour – $0.18
1/2 cup almond flour – $0.63
1 tsp baking powder – $0.02
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
1/2 cup canola oil – $0.37
3/4 cup brown sugar – $0.39
1 flax “egg” (mix 1 tbsp ground flax + 2 1/2 tbsp water in the fridge for 5 minutes) – $0.15
2/3 cup soy milk – $0.25
2 whole lemons (1 1/2 tbsp squeezed juice + 2 tsp grated zest) – $0.40
1 cup frozen blueberries – $1.25

Icing:
1 cup icing sugar – $0.88
1/2 cup orange or lemon juice – $0.38

Directions for Lemon Blueberry Drizzle Cake

1. In a small bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a separate larger bowl, mix the canola oil, brown sugar, flax “egg”, soy milk, lemon juice and zest. Beat the wet ingredients with a whisk until they’re foamy.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until there are no lumps. Then gently fold in the frozen blueberries.

Pour into a parchment-lined loaf pan, add a few extra blueberries on top if you like, then bake at 350F for 55-60 minutes until the top is golden and a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

2. While the cake is baking, mix the icing ingredients together until they’re nice and smooth. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, use a chopstick to poke holes into the cake and then drizzle the icing all over the top and sides of the cake.

Enjoy a lovely slice of your lemon blueberry drizzle cake with a good cup of English tea or a cold glass of soy milk. Have a wonderful day! 🤗

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes: Recipe #244

This is the kind of dish where you say “how can it taste THIS good?” Layered potatoes in creamy sauce with a crunchy topping. What’s not to like? I will now be making vegan scalloped potatoes for every family holiday feast. Thanks to Isa for this particularly special gem.

As I wash the potatoes, I say a mindfulness verse to myself that reminds me of how interconnected we are with the Earth and other living beings:

In these potatoes I see the sunshine, the rain, the soil, the bugs, and the farmers. This food is a gift of the whole universe coming together to make our meal possible.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, which is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and yours.

Ingredients ($7 for a large pan)

4 large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds), thinly sliced – $2.70
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
1/2 cup breadcrumbs – $0.13
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water overnight – $2.00
1/4 cup nutritional yeast – $0.40
2 cups vegetable broth – $1.00
2 tbsp lemon juice, squeezed from 1 medium lemon – $0.20
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

1. Arrange your sliced potatoes in an oiled, rectangular, glass baking dish.

In a medium pan, cook the onions in the olive oil over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes until they’re brown, stirring frequently. Add in 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and stir into the onions, cooking for 2-3 more minutes to darken them up.

Drain the cashews and put them in a blender with the nutritional yeast and vegetable broth. Blend until the mixture is very smooth, then pour it into the pan with the onions. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, to thicken up the sauce.

2. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and lift up the potato slices with a fork to let the sauce get in between all the layers. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over the top and give the top of the casserole a quick spray with olive oil cooking spray (if you have it).

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400F for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes until the potatoes are soft and the top is brown and crunchy.

Cut into it and enjoy your feast of vegan scalloped potatoes! We enjoyed ours with some balsamic maple glazed tempeh and some veggies. Leftovers are fantastic the next day too.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Homemade Creamed Corn: Recipe #238

I remember eating creamed corn out of a can as a kid, especially when we were at the cottage or on a road trip. It had never occurred to me to make homemade creamed corn, but here’s a yummy plant-based way to do just that!

And for today’s Plum Village inspiration side dish, here are four things you can say to yourself as you breathe in and out for a few mindful seconds…

I don’t want to suffer anymore. (breathe in)
If I am peaceful, the world can be peaceful. (breathe out)
I want to enjoy my life. (breathe in)
If I am happy, the world can be happy. (breathe out)

Thanks to Isa for this recipe’s inspiration and to all of you for being part of our delicious, mindful, planet-saving family!

Ingredients ($4.50 for a big panful)

2 tbsp coconut oil – $1.10
2 tbsp flour – $0.04
1 1/4 cups coconut milk – $1.31
1 x 16 oz package of frozen corn – $1.99
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Homemade Creamed Corn

1. In a large pan, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk it in. Cook and whisk constantly for a couple of minutes until the mixture turns a toasted color. Next, slowly add the coconut milk, whisking as you go. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes to thicken it up nicely into a creamy sauce.

2. Finally, add in the corn, salt and pepper. Stir well to cover all the corn with the sauce, and let it cook for a few minutes until the corn is warm. Serve your homemade creamed corn as a side dish to Korean lentils or whatever other dinner you’re enjoying. May you have a happy and peaceful meal! ❤️

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Sunflower Mac & Cheese (Vegan): Recipe #226

Sunflower seed cheese? Don’t laugh. Even our most fanatical mac & cheese fan was going back for thirds of this ingenious and tasty creation. Paired with green beans and plant-based meatballs, sunflower mac & cheese makes a completely delicious and nutritious dinner. We will definitely be making this one again and again. Thanks once more to the brilliant Isa Does It!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($7.50 for a large pot)

1 or 1 1/4 cups raw sunflower seeds, soaked in water overnight – $0.99
1 tbsp olive oil – $0.10
1/2 cup carrots, sliced thinly – $0.46
1/2 onion, chopped – $0.25
2 tsp salt – $0.10
4 cloves garlic, chopped – $0.15
3 cups vegetable broth – $1.50
2 tbsp cornstarch – $0.20
1/4 cup nutritional yeast – $0.40
2 tbsp tomato paste – $0.22
1 tbsp lemon juice – $0.10
1 pound elbows or small shell pasta – $2.99

Green beans and plant-based meatballs on the side (optional)

Directions for Sunflower Mac & Cheese

1. Cover the sunflower seeds in water and soak overnight at room temperature in a small bowl.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the carrots, onions, and salt together for about 10 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Scoop the carrot-onion-garlic mix into your blender and add the sunflower seeds, broth, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste. Blend until it’s very smooth, then transfer it back to your pot.

Cook the sauce for about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until it’s nice and thick. Add in the lemon juice and adjust salt/pepper as needed.

2. While the sauce is thickening, cook up your plant-based meatballs in a pan and bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook your pasta with the green beans together (a nifty pro tip!) for however many minutes the pasta package says.

3. Drain the pasta and green beans, then mix in all the sauce to create a thick cheesy delicious dinner. Serve your sunflower mac & cheese hot in bowls with meatballs on the side, if desired. It’s also wonderful as leftovers the next day!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Strawberry Coconut Bread Pudding: Recipe #225

I had never tasted bread pudding before this, and now it’s one of my new favorite treats. This strawberry coconut bread pudding is a plant-based version that uses coconut milk for extra creaminess. It was inspired by a recipe in Isa Does It, a loaf of homemade challah bread, and some extra strawberries we had in the fridge.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($7.50 for 9 servings in a 8×8″ pan)

6 cups cubed challah bread – $3
1 cup soy milk – $0.37
1 cup coconut milk – $1.49
3 tbsp cornstarch – $0.30
1/2 cup brown sugar – $0.26
2 tbsp lemon juice – $0.20
1 tsp vanilla – $0.20
2 cups sliced strawberries – $2.49

Glaze:
1 cup icing sugar – $0.88
1 tbsp soy milk – $0.02
1-2 tsp vanilla – $0.20
1 tbsp coconut oil – $0.55

Directions for Strawberry Coconut Bread Pudding

1. Cut up the bread and put it in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the soy milk, coconut milk, cornstarch, brown sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla, then pour this over the bread and mix to coat. Let it sit for 15 minutes to soak in and get all soft and moist. Then mix in the strawberries.

2. Press the mixture into an 8×8″ pan greased with a bit of margarine, then bake at 350F for 30 minutes. The top will be a nice golden brown.

3. In a small bowl, mix the icing sugar, soy milk, vanilla, and coconut oil, then drizzle over the pudding when it has cooled for a few minutes. Serve your strawberry coconut bread pudding warm, and savor each marvelous mouthful! 🙂

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Homemade Poutine (Fries + Plant-Based Gravy + Vegan Cheese): Recipe #224

When I was pregnant in Canada (close to 20 years ago now!) the two things I incredibly enjoyed eating were poutine and veal sandwiches. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish of french fries with cheese curds on top and covered in gravy, so the cheese gets all gooey. It’s hard to imagine until you actually taste it. The plant-based gravy for this homemade poutine is inspired by Sam, and the french fries are from our recipe here.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($7 for 4 good servings)

8 Yukon Gold potatoes – $1.44
Water – free
1/4 cup olive oil – $0.40
Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup margarine or vegan butter – $0.62
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp flour – $0.02
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth – $0.75
Soy sauce to taste

Your favorite dairy-free cheese (feel free to try different ones!) – $2.99
Basil garnish (optional)

Directions for Homemade Poutine

1. Make the fries according to this recipe, or prepare frozen french fries according to the package if you don’t have 2 hours to spare.

2. Make the gravy: In a large pan over medium high heat, melt the margarine, then stirfry the onion for about 10 minutes until it starts to get nice and golden. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then slowly pour in the broth while you whisk constantly, so it doesn’t get lumpy. Keep whisking and cooking until it’s nice and thick, then turn off the heat. Add soy sauce to taste, which also gives it a nice rich color.

3. Assemble your homemade poutine: Put your fries in a bowl first, then sprinkle a generous helping of dairy-free cheese, then smother the whole thing in gravy. Add a basil leaf on top for flair if you like, then dig into your comforting bowl of Canadian goodness.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Maple Apple Butter: Recipe #223

This is a sweet apple topping for your favorite ice cream that comes from the Canadian Museum of Nature in honor of Canada Day, and summer, and apples. Maple apple butter is also great to eat on its own, like a thick applesauce. Next time you have some extra apples lying around, give it a try!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($3.50 for 4 good servings)

4 apples, chopped up – $1.20
3 tbsp margarine – $0.47
1/2 cup water – free
1/2 cup maple syrup – $1.90
1/4 tsp cinnamon – $0.07

Non-dairy vanilla ice cream to serve (optional)

Directions for Maple Apple Butter

1. Put the chopped apples, margarine, and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then cook for 5 minutes on medium high after it starts to boil, stirring occasionally. Then drop the heat to medium low and add the maple syrup and cinnamon. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the apples are very tender. Give it a good stir every couple of minutes.

2. When the apples are very nice and soft, pour everything from the pot into a glass blender and puree it until it’s really nice and smooth. Serve warm or cold over your favorite ice cream, or eat it as is for a lovely thick applesauce treat.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Dairy-Free Caesar Salad Dressing: Recipe #218

We have salad almost every day for lunch, so it’s nice every now and then to try a different dressing to go on top. This dairy-free caesar salad has a lovely, garlicky, lemony dressing without the animal products you might find in a traditional version. Happy munching!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($2 to dress 4 individual salads)

1 tsp garlic powder – $0.28
1/4 cup tahini – $1.15
2 tbsp olive oil – $0.20
1 lemon, juiced – $0.20
2 tbsp honey – $0.28
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Dairy-Free Caesar Salad Dressing

1. In a small bowl, mix together all the dressing ingredients until smooth. It’s really as easy as that. Pour over your favorite salad and enjoy your dairy-free Caesar salad!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy=ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!