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Vegan spaghetti carbonara with cultured cream, smokey shiitake, and black salt

Traditional carbonara is a hot pasta dish made with pork, cream, eggs, and pepper. Here I veganized the recipe, also making it a lot healthier, using a base of baked zucchini, cauliflower, and cultured soy yogurt for the cream sauce.

What you need-

Cream sauce

  • one small head cauliflower
  • three-four zucchini
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • one tablespoon tamari
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 easy soy yogurt
  • one teaspoon black salt
  • one small onion
  • one teaspoon lemon juice

Shiitake bacun

  • 1/2 to one pound shiitake mushrooms
  • tamari (drizzled)
  • olive oil (drizzled)
  • one tablespoon liquid smoke

Pasta

  • one package spaghetti of choice
  • salted water

I ran across this vegan parmesan cheese at Whole Foods the other day and WOW! It’s really good. I used it at the end of the recipe as the “hard cheese” component of traditional carbonara.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop up the zucchini and cauliflower, put it on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil, tamari, and black pepper. Put it in the oven.

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Chop the shiitakes into slices and drizzle with tamari, olive oil, and liquid smoke on a sheet pan. Put in oven with the vegetables.

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You’ll need to check and flip both the veggies and the mushrooms several times to avoid burning them. When the veggies are finished they should be soft and browned. The bacun should be chewy and NOT burned to a blackened crisp ūüôā They will get crunchier as they cool.

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Put the salted water on to boil once the veggies and bacun are finished.

Put the roasted veggies and the rest of the cream sauce ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth and warmed through. If the vegetables are still hot from the oven you can blend them for a shorter period. This sauce doesn’t get cooked again though and will need to be warm enough to cook the onion. It doesn’t have to be smoking hot, but definitely warm.

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Cook your pasta and plate everything up. I use more black pepper, Italian herbs, and a little Frank’s hot sauce to finish the plate. Delicious!!

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Prairie Fire bean dip with vegan cheese sauce

In the late 90’s, one of our most favorite things to do was to go to Don Pablo’s Mexican restaurant and order a bowl of prairie fire bean dip. It was sooooo good and soooo cheap. They made fresh flour tortillas to dip in it and it was awesome. Alas, Don Pablo’s closed and we moved away. Recently my little sister mentioned this dip and oh dang, I couldn’t stop thinking about it!! So I went about making a vegan version…I think I did pretty well, though admittedly, it’s been about a decade.

What you need-

Cheezy sauce-

  • one small onion
  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/4 c nutrition yeast
  • 1/4 c salsa
  • one jalepe√Īo
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 c water

Place this all in your blender and blend til heated through (around one minute).

For beans-

  • two cans refried beans
  • one can green chilis
  • one cup easy soy yogurt
  • Tortillas (flour or corn) oven heated in foil for 10 minutes.

Heat the beans, add as much cheese sauce as you like, salt and season as desired. If you like it chunky, leave it as is. I prefer the the smooth creamy like Don Pablo’s used to do, so I put it all back in the blender and blended it smooth. Add sour cream yogurt, salsa, garnishes and serve!

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Fettuccini with cultured cream sauce, shallots, chanterelles and parsley.

What you need:

For the Alfredo

  • 1 c easy soy yogurt
  • 1/3 c pine nuts or cashews
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/3 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic

For the pasta

If you’re using baked tofu, put your oven at 400 degrees and crumble up the tofu. Drizzle with olive oil and tamari. Bake for around 10 minutes stirring often.

Place all the Alfredo sauce ingredients into the blender and blend on high for one minute.

Cook pasta according to directions.

Dry sauté the chanterelles first to cook off the water.

Add chopped shallots and olive oil.

Chop up your parsley. Once all the elements are done, place a scoop of pasta, a scoop of tofu (if using), a scoop of mushrooms, and pour Alfredo to taste. Garnish with parsley!

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Baked potato with shiitake bacun and easy cultured cheeze sauce

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What you need:

Cultured cheese sauce

  • 1/2 c easy soy yogurt
  • 1/2 c cashews
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/4 favorite salsa (I use Trader Joe’s salsa especial-medium spice)
  • Jalape√Īo or canned chilis
  • Salt to taste

Shiitake bacun

  • 2 c thinly sliced shiitake
  • Drizzle olive oil
  • Drizzle liquid smoke
  • Drizzle tamari
  • Preheated oven at 375 degrees

Other

Spread the shiitake out on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, liquid smoke, and tamari. Bake at 375 degrees, stirring well every five minutes for the first fifteen minutes, then every three minutes until done.

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The bacun will seem almost burned but will still be chewy after twenty minutes or so. Once you take it out it will get crunchy like bacon as it cools.

For the cultured cheese sauce, put all the ingredients into the blender and blend well for two minutes.

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Bake the potatoes and steam the broccoli as preferred. Plate them up and mow them down!! The savory umami of the bacun is perfectly paired with the creamy cultured cheese sauce. Zam! You won’t be disappointed.

I baked up some Brussels Sprouts as well as the steamed broccoli and added a little plain easy soy yogurt in place of sour cream. A few dots of hot sauce and you’re ready to take on the world.

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Cauliflower roast with lime cream sauce

What you’ll need for the sauce:

As an aside, you can use this versatile onion, pine nut, sunflower seed and yogurt sauce as a base for many different kinds of cream sauce- sriracha, curry, cilantro-jalepe√Īo, etc.)

What you’ll need for the rest of the meal:

  • One head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 1/3 teaspoon cayenne or Berbere (I prefer Berbere because of it’s rich flavor with the lime and cream sauce)
  • Baby potatoes (optional)
  • Asparagus (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Blend the sauce ingredients except the lime on high until smooth and creamy. I like to blend until the sauce is slightly steamy, to cook the onion a little bit so that some of the spice level and onion flavor comes down.

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Squeeze the lime into the cream sauce and mix well.

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Remove the leaves and stem of the cauliflower as best you can without separating the florets.

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Slather the cauliflower with cream sauce and place on a cookie sheet or skillet.

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Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. I quartered the potatoes and baked them with a diced onion, olive oil, and Italian herb spice at the same time. Adding the diced onion brings the flavor and texture up infinitely, because the onion caramelizes in the process of baking. I finished the potatoes with a healthy sprinkling of flake salt.

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Uncover and bake for 45 more minutes to an hour. Check for desired level of browning. I put a little more cream sauce on mine and baked for five more minutes. I used this five minutes to steam up the asparagus with a little water and a little olive oil.

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Sprinkle with Italian herb and cayenne or berbere.

Slice the cauliflower into quarters (large slices helps keep it from falling apart into florets). Spread a little more cream sauce onto the cauliflower and serve!

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Portobello stroganoff with cultured vegan cream sauce

What you need-

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari
  • 2 cups easy soy yogurt or garbanzo cashew yogurt-well stirred!
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Slice the portobellos, the onion, and the garlic. Sauté them in the onions and garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.

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Add the vegetable broth and Italian herbs. Bring to a low simmer, and cover for twenty minutes.

In a medium bowl add cornstarch and Tamari. Stir into a smooth paste. img_6054

Mix this into the mushroom mix and bring back to a simmer for around 4-5 minutes. The sauce should begin to thicken. It will thicken more as the sauce cools a bit as well.

Add well stirred yogurt into this mix. If you don’t whip it up well, the yogurt will remain in little clumps once you stir it into the mushroom mix.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve over wide noodles or rice.

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Oyster mushroom and green bean with garlic cream sauce

What you need:

Creamy garlic sauce

  • one cup easy soy yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • one clove garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste

Green beans and mushrooms

  • 8 ounces of oyster mushrooms
  • 1 lb. trimmed green beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • rock salt
  • two cups cooked basmati rice (I mix cauliflower rice with cooked basmati for extra flavor and less calories)
  • sesame seed to garnish
  • chili flakes to garnish (optional)

How to-

Whisk together the yogurt, sesame oil, garlic, and salt. Set aside.

Heat up the olive oil and add the trimmed green beans and mushrooms. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the tarragon, thyme, maple syrup, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Stir fry for another two minutes. Add rock salt and cover. Leave on low heat until green beans are cooked to slightly crunchy and mushrooms are turning golden and rock salt is melting just a little bit. You want to keep the salt a little bit whole to add a crunchy kick of flavor.

Plate up a 1/2 cup of rice, a scoop of green beans and mushrooms, and a dollop of cream sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Voila! Umami galore.

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Cultured tofu rotisserie chickun dinner

This is a fun dinner idea! It doesn’t take that long, if you’re ok with things being a little rough around the edges. It’s easy to get distracted by trying to make things perfect, so if you’re type A, practice letting go of the perfect shaped chicken leg.

The cultured tofu bakes up with a super delicious crunchy crust. I imagine you could bread them too, and make a good fried chicken if you wanted to.

What you need:

Start by making little lines on your cultured tofu. Decide how you want to cut it to make them into the right shape.

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Start to cut out your shapes.

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Save the little pieces to bake into ground beef alternative.

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Use a sharp knife to smooth off the edges. Once you bake this, the tofu will puff a bit and change shape, so don’t go too crazy making it perfect. The less you mess with it the better because it’s pretty dry and will crumble. Once it crumbles it won’t go back on. Drizzle these with olive oil and sprinkle some Italian herb seasoning all over them.

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Bake it for around 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Check it to make sure it doesn’t burn.

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Plate it up! If you want to be able to pick up the chickun legs and they are too wobbly, you can stick a kebab skewer through the middle.

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Bonus! Super easy gravy recipe-

  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 Tablespoons Braggs
  • 1Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • unsweetened soy milk

Stir the top 4 ingredients together. Add in the boiling water (I use water from boiling potatoes because if I’m making gravy, I’m making potatoes!!). Thin the gravy with unsweetened soy (or other non dairy) milk.

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Stuffed peppers with cultured soy ‚Äúmeat‚ÄĚ

What you’ll need:

  • Two cups cooked rice
  • One bag of cauliflower rice (optional-if you don’t use, double your rice)
  • A large block of cultured tofu-easy or from scratch
  • Six peppers (I prefer green but only had red)
  • One eight oz. package of white mushrooms
  • One jar of tomato sauce
  • One onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic

How to make it:

Crumble your cultured tofu (or regular tofu if you prefer that) and sprinkle around one tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of salt. Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned. You’ll need to stir it every couple minutes so that it doesn’t stick.

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Put your chopped onion in a pot with a small amount of water or olive oil and cook for a minute or two.

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Chop the mushrooms and add them in along with the crushed or minced garlic.

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Cut the tops off of your peppers and put them into a deep pan that can be covered. You can cut the bottoms off too, if they are wobbly.

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Your tofu should be browning after ten minutes or so!

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Cook up your rice. Once it’s done, I just pour the riced cauliflower into the pot and let it steam. Stir them together and add to your mushrooms and onion.

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Add in a quarter of the jar of tomato sauce and the browned cultured tofu. I put kalamata olives in mine this time.  Taste the filling to see if it needs salt or other spices to balance it out.

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Stuff your peppers with the filling. Top the tomato sauce jar off with water to thin the sauce. Shake it up and pour it over your peppers.

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Cover and bake at 400 degrees until your peppers are the desired softness. I like mine really soft! Really soft takes an hour or so.

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This dish is low calorie and so delicious. Between the immune building garlic, the peppers, and the cultured tofu, it also really packs a healthy punch!

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Cultured Peanut Sauce with veggies and noodles

I was once a decidedly BAD cook. I tried. I made raviolis from scratch! They sucked and we had to go out to eat. Then I found a book called On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. It was all about the science behind food and what makes it good. I was pretty fascinated by this, though I will admit, the only thing I still remember (I checked it out from the library five years ago) is the five flavors rule. When you are cooking, you gotta understand the six flavors-sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and umami. Each of the flavors has its inverse operator. Here’s a nifty chart to help. Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 7.50.52 PM

(from cooksmarts.com)

This idea saved my cooking. I didn’t suddenly become good at ravioli (I tried them again literally two days ago and we ended up ordering out) but I did begin to understand what makes food taste good, once I started tasting things and trying to understand what they needed to become balanced. This recipe is going to need a little of that adventurous spirit on your part!! Don’t worry, it’s hard to go wrong with these ingredients:

  • some peanut milk cheese (umami and sour)
  • sriratcha (spicy! and sour)
  • maple syrup (sweet)
  • garlic (bitter)
  • salt (duh)
  • veggies of choice (I used onion, corn, red pepper, and broccoli)
  • noodles of choice (I used my favorite Lotus pad thai noodles)
  1. This is the peanut cheese. If you’re making this from scratch, just don’t drip the peanut protein out as much. Drip it out until it is a nice saucy texture. If you’ve already made the cheese, mix in sriratcha¬†to taste, four tablespoons of non-dairy yogurt (or 2 T non-dairy milk if you don’t have any yogurt), two-three tablespoons of maple syrup, and salt (start slow, like 1/4 teaspoon, and move up from there SLOWLY. Understand that things will get saltier as the salt dissolves, so wait before you add more salt. Salt is my nemesis.) ¬†Taste it a million times and start to try to understand what it wants to be good and balanced! It’s fun, once you get the hang of it.

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This is the peanut cheese. ^

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  1. Ingredients whisked in.  ^

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2. Don’t forget the maple syrup! Its super important to balance out the double sours from peanut cheese culture and the sriratcha vinegar.

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3. Steam or stir fry your veggies.

4. Cook up your noodles. I love these. 

5. I usually cook up a little tofu too.

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