The Best Meat and Dairy Alternatives (all your old recipes need not change)

What an incredible time to be vegan.  My goodness, when I was a vegetarian fresh out on my own there was some weird hotdog/Alpo thing in a can.  That was it.  I ate a lot of burritos and spaghetti.  I learned to be creative and have always loved spices and sauces.  Now that I can add delicious plant based alternatives to dairy and meat into my cooking, my guests, and especially my husband, are always pleasantly surprised and satisfied.  It opens up a lot of opportunities for trying to recipes and expanding dinner options.  And it adds a lot more fun in the kitchen.  I don’t particularly love meat but I do enjoy the added textures and creaminess from some of the animal product alternatives now available.  It also allows us to keep our old tried and true and family recipes because we can just sub out what we need.  Food makes memories, brings people together, and creates comfort.  I have no desire to harm animals (and I am sure you don’t either) and I know that near 100% of ailments can be reversed and prevented with a plant based diet.  We won’t even go into the ecological, economical, and karma benefits.  So, here’s what’s out there!

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English muffin pizzas with Miyoko’s mozzarella, orange peppers, and olives with Caesar salad. (Try Daiya Caesar dressing)

Best Dairy Alternatives

“But I LOVE cheese,” um, everyone says.  Scientific fact that cheese affects the brain the very same as heroin.  Truth.  So, we are all actually addicted to cheese.  There are some companies coming to our rehab rescue.

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Rustic Alpine “cheese” wrapped in pie crust and baked like Brie.  Topped with homemade peach jam and served with crackers and a glass of wine….oh my.

Miyoko’s has many different varieties of cheese.  She has rounds of cheese platter ready cheese, like Rustic Alpine, Smoky Cheddar, and Truffle.  She has cheese spread.  And I love them all, whether I get them from the store or online, but what I really love is her butter.  Oh my, it tastes like the real deal.  Cooks the same, spreads the same, and it’s healthy.  No weird ingredients in any of her products.  Cashews and other delicious ingredients are fermented just like dairy to get the taste.

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Fresh popped popcorn drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with truffle salt, basil, nutritional yeast and Violife parmesan.

Violife is…I have no words….so damn realistic, you could fool a cheese maker.  No kidding.  (I was a cheese maker.)  Made from pea protein and other delicious ingredients, you cannot go wrong. The new cheeses do not have that weird rubber aftertaste and they melt.  Try the cheddar or provolone slices.  Make a grilled cheese on sourdough and spray the outside of the bread lightly with olive oil spray and then top with shredded parmesan.  Fry.  The best grilled cheese ever.  Their parmesan is our favorite.  I sneak it around in my purse when we go to restaurants.

And I can’t forget Kite Hill!  Best cream cheese and ricotta.  Better than dairy.

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Bakes fries with homemade cashew cheese, Beyond Meat, guacamole, and all the fixings.

Best Meat Alternatives

Beyond Meat is so convincing my daughter won’t eat it.  Try their burgers.  Try the ground.  The “chicken” is just okay.  But the beef alternatives are great.  Oh, and try the sausage!

Bob’s Mill TVP.  GMO soy will cause problems.  GMO anything will cause problems.  Soy stops bone loss and balances estrogen levels while supplying calcium and vitamin D.  Bob’s is GMO free and it cooks up in chilies or soups or nachos or whatever just like ground meat.  And it’s super cheap.

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Gardein anything.  Lord, they are good.  Always vegan.  Crab cakes (put in hoagies with homemade slaw), fish sticks (with French fries), meatballs (with Victoria Vegan sauce and pasta), meatloaf (with mashed potatoes and corn), and so much more.

I do tend to say away from the super processed, large company owned, GMO, and not-so-vegan brands like Morningstar and Boca.  Quorn is the best for chicken flavor and they are coming out with vegan options as we speak.

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The “I’ll never go vegan”ers. 

My granddaughter is funny.  Independent.  Funny.  “I don’t like vegan food.”  “I don’t want vegan food.”

We then name off dozens of foods that she likes or loves that are vegan.  Most people do not realize how easy it is and how many things are already vegan or have a vegan-ready counterpart next to it at the store or in your pantry.  Maybe we need a new name for vegan food.  How about GOOD FOOD.  I’m a good foodist.  And with the help of innovative new chefs and companies, it’s that much easier to get good food on the table.

 

Sourdough Making 101

Sourdough is a fermented food, therefore making it easy to digest.  A piece of organic sourdough warm from the toaster with Miyoko’s butter (vegan) smeared across it is divine with a cup of coffee in the morning.  Memories are made around loaves of bread.

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The original starter is from The Amish Cook’s Family Favorite Recipes by Lovina Eicher and is easy to put together.

3 packages of active dry yeast and 1 cup of warm water.  Pour into a small container with a loose fitting lid and refrigerate for 3-5 days.

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Now we add the starter feed. 

Add to that 3/4 cup of sugar (When did everyone get so funny about sugar?  It seems about the time artificial sweeteners came on the market.  Sugar is a plant.  Use organic sugar preferably.)

3 Tb instant potatoes (Bob’s is good, no extra weird ingredients.)

1 cup of warm water

Mix these up and then add the starter in with it.  Keep it on the counter with a loose fitting lid (it has to breathe) for 5-12 hours.  It will get bubbly.

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Use 1 cup of starter and place the rest in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and then feed again, then bake more bread.  I put a note on my calendar every five days.  Pitch the 1 cup if you aren’t making bread.  Sound like a lot of work?  If you have time for Netflix binges, you have ten minutes to work on your sourdough!

Now let’s make some bread!

Dear Lovina was an Amish mama and her recipe that follows the starter is for three loaves of bread.  That is a little much for just me and Pa so I adjusted it to my own tried and true bread recipe.

Mama’s Rosemary Sourdough

Pour one cup of the sourdough starter into a large bowl

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Add 3 cups of white, unbleached, organic flour (You can use 2 cups of white and 1 cup of wheat or other flour but do not exceed that ratio or you will have a cement block.  Been there, done that.)

1 Tb+ of fresh rosemary

1 ts of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of warm water

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Blend well and let sit overnight on the counter or 3ish hours if you are starting in the morning.  Cover with a plate.

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Sprinkle dough with flour and use a wooden spoon to pull the dough into a ball.  Knead 20 times in bowl.  Sprinkle more flour if needed to keep from being terribly sticky.  Cover with plate again for another hour or two.

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Sprinkle dough with a little cornmeal and shape into a ball.  Spray cast iron pan or cookie sheet with oil and then sprinkle with corn meal.  Place dough on sheet or pan.  You can spray the top of the dough with oil then grate some vegan parmesan on top or add a little more garlic powder.  (Violife is the most convincing parmesan in the world.)  Bake for 40 minutes.

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Cool on rack.  Let cool before serving or the steam will make the center doughy.  Store in an airtight bag.  Tastes best with laughter and wine, or in blessed silence with tea.  Really up to you.  Enjoy!