Monday, July 4, 2016

Family Breakfast ~ Vegan Style

I ate a vegan diet for several years. This breakfast is a meal I cooked for my husband when we first started dating. We frequently still make the "sausage" crumbles, but pair them with diced sweet potato as a type of hash. Last weekend though, I decided to go all out and make the biscuits and gravy as well. This meal is full of satisfying plant protein from the tempeh and a whole can of white beans. 

I can't take credit for the recipes, Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen has a fantastic website and several cookbooks.
Great Vegan Cookbooks!
The "sausage" crumbles and gravy come from her book Vegan with a Vengeance and the biscuits are from her Appetite for Reduction. You can also find the recipe here for her Tempeh Sausage Crumbles. Normally I modify the recipe and add a whole tablespoon of red chili flakes to the sausage crumbles, but since I was feeding this to Henry too, I omitted that ingredient. Otherwise, the recipes were perfect for a toddler!

I mixed up the biscuits first and dropped them by the spoonful onto a baking sheet sprayed with coconut oil. The original recipe calls for sweet potatoes puree, but I didn't have any prepared sweet potatoes so I substituted canned pumpkin. I also used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour. I've made these with only whole wheat flour before and the biscuits baked up pretty dense. I prefer a lighter biscuit. I used the following recipe: 1 cup canned pumpkin, 3 tbsp canola oil, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp water and baked in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake. You can find it in the refrigerator section near the tofu. I have tried several brands and not found anything distinguishable between them. Tempeh should be simmered in water prior to using for 2 reasons: this removes any bitter flavor and also preps the tempeh to accept other flavors.

I crumbled the tempeh into a pan and added a little water (covering the bottom of the pan but not covering the tempeh). I let it simmer for around 15 minutes until the water was gone.

Conveniently, my biscuits also baked for 15 minutes. During this time, I finished the rest of the prep work: blended the gravy (I usually add a good pinch of black pepper but I omitted that to make it toddler friendly) and mixed together the spice mixture for the tempeh. I used the following recipe for the gravy: 1 can cannellini beans, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 10 fresh chopped sage leaves, pinch salt and blended it in my Nutribullet. I've used dried sage before, but I happen to have a sage plant in my kitchen which is still alive (for the moment!).

Isa Chandra Moskowitz's spice mixture is what makes this dish! As mentioned above, I left out the red chili flakes and I also substituted lime juice for the lemon juice because I didn't have any lemons.

Seasoned Tempeh "Sausage" Crumbles
The last step I do isn't in the recipe, but I add the gravy to the tempeh pan and allow it to heat through. Mix gently to avoid breaking up the tempeh crumbles any further. This lets the flavor of the spice mix marry into the gravy - delicious!

White Bean Gravy

Plate it up just like biscuits with sausage and gravy!
Breakfast is served!
Henry was a fan! He also had 1/2 of a chopped organic nectarine to round out his breakfast!
Thanks Mom! Vegan cooking is delicious!

It could be argued that tempeh is one of the healthiest soybean products. Tempeh is high in protein, B vitamins, and other minerals. It contains probiotics from the fermentation process and is minimally processed when compared to tofu or soy milk. It is not a low calorie food, but if you are using it as a meat replacement, your calorie count should end up comparable.

In the dietary world there tend to be two camps when it comes to soy: love it or hate it. There are arguments that the estrogen mimicking compounds found in soy are dangerous to your health, but I would simply point out that there are many cultures who consumed soy in moderation for hundreds of years with no ill effects. I personally believe soy products can safely be enjoyed in moderation as part of a varied diet.

Here are a few other great ways to use tempeh:
  1. Simmer the cake whole for 15 minutes, then submerge in a marinade for at least an hour, flipping if needed. Cut the cake into wedges and grill or bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. A mixture of hot sauce and barbecue sauce works well! 
  2. Crumble the tempeh and simmer it for 15 minutes. Allow it to cool. Make "chicken" salad by adding mayonnaise (Veganaise for vegan option), mustard, pickle relish, etc. Make a sandwich, spread on crackers, or eat with sliced bell peppers and carrots.

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