Vegan Mac and “Cheese”

img_5784“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It’s a popular saying, and many people feel this way about the idea of vegan “cheese”. Cheese is perfect the way it is, right? Why should we cook up a substitute for cheese? How could a vegan cheese substitute ever compare to the real thing?

Well, don’t get me wrong; cheese is awesome. But so is vegan “cheese”!

Admittedly, I was also very skeptical that vegan “cheese” could be tasty. Now, I am a total fan of the thick, flavorful, and nutritious sauce. In fact, I fully believe that anyone who has yet to try it is missing out.

Vegan “cheese” is full of whole ingredients and naturally transforms macaroni and cheese into a nutrient-dense meal. Comparatively, other macaroni and cheese recipes made using cream, butter, and cheese are high in saturated fat and calories and low in vitamins. The difference is due to the use of nutritional yeast instead of the fatty dairy ingredients. Nutritional yeast is a flaky deactivated yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses. It is full of protein and fiber and rich in vitamins like riboflavin, folate, and zinc. One of the biggest health benefits of nutritional yeast is that it is high in B12 which is a vitamin that many people are deficient in.

Nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy, and savory flavor. It tastes amazing sprinkled over roasted vegetables, salads, soups, stews, popcorn, scrambled eggs or tofu, and even on bread. It adds a phenomenal dimension to many different foods. In this recipe, nutritional yeast gives the sauce a cheesy taste while complementing the flavors of curry and cumin. You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk foods section of Friendly City.


Ingredients

1 16 oz. package of macaroni (or whatever pasta you’d like)
1 ½ c. carrots, chopped (about 2 large carrots)
½ c. sweet onion, chopped (approx. 1 med onion)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & chopped
¾ c. cashews, chopped
¼ c. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. curry powder
garnish: pinch of paprika & parsley

  1. Chop sweet potato, sweet onion, and carrots. Add to 2 cups of boiling water in a pot. Cook until tender or about 10 minutes. Do not drain the veggies.
  2. Transfer soft veggies & liquid to a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add chopped cashews, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and spices. Pulse and swipe the sides with a spatula. Continue pulsing and swiping the walls of the blender until the sauce is smooth.
  4. Add water as needed if the sauce is too thick. I added about ¼ cup of water to the blender.
  5. Cook pasta, and mix with the “cheese” sauce. Serve with paprika & parsley as garnish.

May this recipe set aside skepticism of vegan “cheese” and showcase the surprises of nutritional yeast.

Happy cooking!

 

Madeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a senior at James Madison University, studying to be a registered dietitian. She loves exploring recipes with fresh and nutrition ingredients. As a native to the Shenandoah Valley, she passionately supports the local food economy in Harrisonburg.

Veggie Sushi (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

img_6876-croppedBy Tiffany Wu – Makes about 48 total 

This veggie sushi recipe is one of my all time favorites. It is simple to make, tastes amazing, and has a nourishing ingredient list. You can easily customize these rolls by adding your favorite veggies. My personal favorite is the combination of creamy avocado, refreshing cucumber, and crisp carrot. Friendly City Food Co-op has an amazing array of Asian ingredients and I was so excited to see nori and rice vinegar in their Asian section. Nori is a large, rectangular sheet of seaweed ideal for making sushi and the rice vinegar gives the sushi rice a rich, tangy flavor. These sushi rolls are a great lunch option to take to work or school, because they are portable and healthy.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups white jasmine rice
3 cups water
4 tbsp. rice vinegar
6 sheets nori
1 avocado, sliced
¾ cup cucumber, shredded
¾ cup carrot, shredded

Directions:

  1. Rinse rice with water 2-3 times until water runs clear. Add rice to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Once the rice reaches a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes until water is completely absorbed.
  2. When rice is done cooking allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Once rice is cooled, add in rice vinegar. Mix well to combine.
  3. To begin assembling the sushi rolls, get a sushi mat and lay out one sheet of nori. Add a thin layer of rice (about ½ cup) on top of the nori and gently spread it out over the nori. Next, layer your cucumber, carrot, and avocado in a horizontal line on top of the rice. Make sure you put your veggies towards the bottom ½ of the rice closest to you.
  4. To begin rolling your sushi, use the bamboo mat to fold over the roll. Pull the bamboo mat tightly towards you as you roll more. Make sure to press tightly each time you roll to keep all ingredients together.
  5. Cut the sushi using a sharp knife into eight pieces. Enjoy!

img_6877-cropped

Note: If you don’t have a sushi mat, you can roll the sushi on a clean surface using your hands. Roll the sushi up like you would a burrito or sandwich wrap (just don’t tuck in the corners)

 

 

 

 

By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.

 

 

 

Local Vendor – Teeny Tiny Spice Company

nick-thora-ed-maddy-squareBy Colleen Lyons
Connecticut native Thora Pomicter never planned to start a company; she was an English major in college and a stay at home mom for years. Always passionate about cooking, she wanted to make the process simpler. This lead Thora to making pre-made spice blends, and after many compliments from her friends, she, and her husband Ed, decided to create Teeny Tiny Spice Company. Now, Teeny Tiny Spice Company products are available in roughly 140 stores around the United States and on Amazon.

This past year, Thora and her family relocated from Vermont, where she spent 30 years, to Harrisonburg, where they set up shop next door to the Friendly City Food Co-op, and the partnership has worked very well since. She raves about how supportive Friendly City Co-op has always been of Teeny Tiny Spices and credits them for playing a huge part of integrating her family’s company into the Harrisonburg community.

Thora says her favorite part of owning Teeny Tiny Spice Company is tapping into her creative side when creating new spice blends, even though it can sometimes come with a lot of trial and error. The blends work great on everything– burgers, meats, fish, any type of vegetarian dish– in casseroles, egg dishes, chilies, bean, soups, and sauces. You are only limited by your imagination.

She recommends the Ethiopian Berberé blend, since it is her favorite with the heat and richness. It’s particularly tasty on sweet potatoes because the combination of hot and sweet is so tasty.

A visit to the Teeny Tiny Spice Company website recipe page will give a dash of inspiration to your cooking. Here is a recipe the Pomicter’s say is a favorite of theirs. You may want to add less spice the first time, depending on your heat preference.

 

Quick Barbeque Sauce

Better than anything in a bottle, you can quickly whip together as much of this barbeque sauce as you need. It can be used on fish, meats, or even tofu. Vary the spice blend to bring an exotic influence to your grill or smoker. Makes 2 cups.

Ingredients

6 oz. Tomato paste

½ C Cider vinegar

½ C Water

1/3 C Maple syrup

2 T. Teeny Tiny Spice Co. of Vermont® Ethiopian Berberé (or your spice blend of choice)

  • Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer together for 10 minutes to meld the flavors.
  • Add more water if needed to achieve desired consistency.
  • Season with salt to taste.

 

Colleen Lyons / Guest Blogger
Colleen majored in communication studies at James Madison University. She graduated in May of 2016 and plans to move to Boston and work at a public relations agency. She enjoys writing, travelling and spending time on the beach.

 

 

 

 

Cannellini Beans with Lemony Kale

Both kale and cannellini beans are highly nutrient dense foods. This dish is high in fiber, healthy fats, protein, and micronutrients that will fill your body with energy. I particularly appreciate how well the kale and cannellini beans absorb flavor. Red pepper flakes, garlic, and the reliable salt-and-pepper combo work flavorful wonders in this recipe. Take note of the addition of lemon juice and zest as well. Adding a bit of vitamin C to dark, leafy greens allows the plant-sourced iron of greens like kale to be readily absorbed by your body. The ingredients for this recipe are available at Friendly City Food Co-op.

Ingredients
1 bunch curly kale
15 oz. cannellini beans
½ medium lemon, juice & zest
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 T. olive oil
¼ c. parmesan cheese, grated

Strip kale from the stems, and set aside in a large bowl. Heat olive oil over high heat in a large sauce pan. Sauté minced garlic and red pepper for 2 minutes. Add kale and lemon juice. Stir until mostly wilted, then add the cannellini beans. Allow the beans to warm and absorb flavor for about a minute or two. Serve warm topped with grated parmesan.

Happy Cooking!

 

Madeleine Wirth
Madeleine is a senior at James Madison University, studying to be a registered dietitian. She loves exploring recipes with fresh and nutritious ingredients. As a native to the Shenandoah Valley, she passionately supports the local food economy in Harrisonburg!

Chickpea Dill Salad

IMG_5519Chickpeas are a fabulous legume used in all sorts of recipes. Used in vegetarian burgers, soups, dips, and salads, chickpeas could win an award for their versatility and nutrients. Chickpeas are high in fiber and a great source of plant-based protein. Incorporating fiber and protein-rich foods like chickpeas into your diet is a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs. Your body will feel the difference.

This chickpea-dill salad recipe is awesome because it is a more affordable and nutritious version of chicken salad. Substituting plant-based proteins like beans for animal proteins like chicken, is a great way to lower the cost without altering the nutrition. Fresh cucumber, onion, and dill give a cool refreshment to every bite.

The combination of lemon-dill dressing with cucumber and chickpeas mixes for a really special salad recipe.

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (15oz.)
1 large cucumber, diced
¼ c. fresh dill, chopped
½ small red onion, diced

Lemon-Dill Dressing
¼ c. tahini
¼ c. water
1 tsp. black pepper
¼ c. fresh dill
2 tbsps. parsley
½ lemon, squeezed & zested (OR about 2.5 tbsps. of lemon juice)
2 large garlic cloves, minced (OR about 1.5 tbsp. garlic powder)
Pinch of salt and crushed red pepper

Combine chickpeas, diced cucumber, diced onion, and fresh dill in a large bowl. In a large food processor blend the dressing ingredients until smooth and saucy. Taste as you add ingredients, and add more of what you think the dressing needs. I liked the flavors of extra lemon and dill in this dressing. Add the lemon-dill dressing from the food processor to the chickpea mixture, and stir to combine with a large spoon.

I found that this chickpea salad is amazing stuffed in pita pockets with freshly diced tomatoes. It tastes great served in lettuce wraps too.

Happy Cooking!

 

Madeleine Wirth

Madeleine is a senior at James Madison University, studying to be a registered dietitian. She loves exploring recipes with fresh and nutritious ingredients. As a native to the Shenandoah Valley, she passionately supports the local food economy in Harrisonburg

Chocolate Smoothie Bowl (Vegan)

Chocolate Smoothie BowlBy Tiffany Wu– Makes 1 Serving
On a hot summer day, this rich and creamy chocolate smoothie bowl is the perfect treat to cool down with. With only three wholesome ingredients, you can enjoy this smoothie for a healthy breakfast, snack, or dessert. I have found that using frozen bananas is the key to achieving a smooth and creamy ice cream like consistency. Cacao powder transforms this smoothie into a chocolate lover’s dream and unlike cocoa powder; cacao powder has been treated with low heat so most of its nutrients remain intact. One quarter cup of Cacao powder is loaded with magnesium, iron, antioxidants, 4 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.

Ingredients:

3 frozen Bananas
¼ cup Cacao Powder
½ cup Almond Milk

Toppings (Optional):

Granola
Cereal
Sliced Bananas
Sliced Strawberries

Directions:

  1. Place cacao powder, frozen bananas, and almond milk in a blender and blend until you get a thick smoothie consistency. Depending on how strong your blender is, you may need to add more almond milk to achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Transfer chocolate smoothie mixture into a bowl and place your favorite toppings on top.

 

By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.

Veggie Pasta

IMG_5437.croppedWith garden surpluses and beautiful vegetable picks at the Food Co-op, produce is abundant in late summer. Veggie Pasta is a resourceful way to make a highly nutritious meal using some of the sweetest vegetables out there.

I picked up a few vegetables of different colors for this recipe: green zucchini, purple onion, and red, orange, and dark crimson tomatoes. Depending on what you have available in your refrigerator, this recipe can incorporate a combination of different veggies like yellow squash, green zucchini, green peas, or sweet peppers! With a few simple herbs and rich creamy cheese, this meal is high in vitamins, fiber, and protein.

Ingredients
1 cup parmesan, grated
5.3 oz. Basil & Olive Oil Asiago cheese, grated (available at the coop)
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small purple onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 T. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 T. red pepper flakes, crushed
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. whole wheat pasta (farfalle, penne or rotini)

Boil pasta for approx. 11 minutes or until al dente. In a large sauté pan, sauté zucchini for about 3 minutes before adding onion, basil, pepper, salt, and parsley. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Turn heat to low, and add diced tomatoes. Allow tomatoes to absorb flavor for about 2 minutes, then turn stove off. Avoid simmering the tomatoes too long (tomatoes will turn soupy if cooked too long). Add the vegetables to the pot of pasta, but avoid adding much tomato juice to the pasta. Toss pasta with grated cheese and red pepper flakes.

I love this recipe. I prepare a big bowl of it, and pack up for lunch during the week! This dish is also great for potluck parties.

Happy cooking!

 

Madeleine Wirth

Madeleine is a senior at James Madison University, studying to be a registered dietitian. She loves exploring recipes with fresh and nutritious ingredients. As a native to the Shenandoah Valley, she passionately supports the local food economy in Harrisonburg!

Asian Peanut Noodles (vegan and gluten-free)

Asian Peanut NoodlesBy Tiffany Wu–  Makes 4-6 Servings
Growing up, my mom always used to make her delicious peanut butter noodles when the weather got warmer. The creamy peanut sauce combined with crisp veggies always made for a satisfying meal. This dish reminds me of my childhood and is so simple and easy to make.

Bragg’s liquid aminos are a natural alternative to soy sauce and is gluten free with no added preservatives. If you’ve never tried liquid aminos before, I recommend trying them in this recipe. To give the noodles an additional protein boost, I added in some shelled edamame from Friendly City that is non-gmo and grown in the US.

 

Sauce Ingredients:

3/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
2 tbsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Water

Other Ingredients:

16 oz Brown Rice Spaghetti
1 ½ cups shredded Cucumber
¾ cup shredded Carrots
1 cup Fresh Spinach
¾ cup frozen, shelled Edamame, thawed

 

Directions:

  1. Place all sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a spoon until combined. The sauce consistency should be slightly thick. Set aside
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add in your brown rice spaghetti
  3. While the pasta is boiling, shred your cucumber and carrots
  4. When the pasta is done, combine all ingredients and make sure to coat the pasta and veggies evenly with sauce

 

 

By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.

Blueberry Coconut Muffins

By Tiffany Wu – Makes 12 muffins

Friendly City Muffins Post-Oven 3These blueberry coconut muffins take full advantage of blueberry season and are bursting with flavor. The shredded coconut complements the blueberries nicely and adds a tropical twist to the muffins. In place of eggs, I used ground flax seed dissolved in hot water. The flax seed and water mixture is commonly used in vegan baking and binds the muffin batter nicely. I also made my own flour by blending oats on high speed for 30 seconds. You could easily make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free oats.

 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. ground flax seed dissolved in 5 tbsp. hot water

½ cup almond milk

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 cup applesauce

2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 ½ cups oat flour

½ cup shredded coconut, plus more for topping

1 ¼ cup blueberries (can use fresh or frozen)

Coconut Oil Spray

Friendly City Muffin Batter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place ground flax seed into a small bowl and mix with 5 tbsp. hot water.

Mixture should thicken after 5-10 minutes and have a gel like consistency.

  1. Blend oats in a blender until they turn into flour.
  2. Add melted coconut oil to a large bowl. Next, add in applesauce, brown sugar, and flax seed mixture. Mix thoroughly to combine all ingredients. Next, add oat flour, baking soda, shredded coconut, and almond milk and mix all ingredients together.
  3. Gently fold blueberries into the muffin batter.
  4. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners and spray each liner with a touch of coconut oil. Divide batter between the twelve muffin liners. Top each muffin with a bit more shredded coconut. Bake for 20-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  5. Once muffins are done baking, let them cool for 15 minutes before enjoying!

 

 

By Tiffany Wu / Guest Blogger

Tiffany is a student at JMU, majoring in dietetics. Her family owned a Chinese restaurant when she was growing up, so her passion for food and cooking began at an early age. She especially likes creating delicious and healthy plant-based recipes.

Wheat Bran Cranberry Bread

IMG_4430Whether you eat vegan, gluten-free, or simply want to eat nutritiously, there are many varieties of high-quality flours and grains available at Friendly City Food Co-op. The co-op carries an assortment of “Bob’s Mill” products which are a brand famous for pure, unprocessed flours, cereals, grains, and meals. You can find garbanzo bean, almond, and coconut flours as well as xanthum gum (used as a binder in many baking recipes). All of these highly nutritious ingredients are longing for someone to pick them up and explore new recipes!

I baked a delicious cranberry bread using whole wheat flour and wheat bran. Baking with whole grains is an easy way to add fiber and protein to your recipes. Swapping high-quality grains for processed, refined grains nourishes your body and is always a good idea!

Ingredients (Yield 1 loaf)

1 c. wheat bran
1 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. unbleached white flour
½ tsp. salt
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ c. dark brown sugar
1 egg
½ c. milk
1 c. orange juice
Preheat oven to 375°. Mix egg, milk, and orange juice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients including flours, bran, salt, baking powder, baking soda, pecans, and cranberries. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and combine thoroughly. Grease a loaf pan, and pour mixture into pan. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Check doneness by wiggling the pan and sticking the loaf with a toothpick.

This recipe yields a dense and grainy bread that is best enjoyed topped with a pad of salted butter and a cold glass of orange juice. The bread is perfectly sweet, with the cranberries contributing just the right amount of sweetness to balance the dense grain texture.

Serve this cranberry-bran bread as a dessert or a sweet treat. With nutritious ingredients that are high in fiber and low in sugar, this is exactly the kind of baking a health-conscious eater should explore.

Good luck, and happy baking!

 

By Madeleine Wirth / Guest Blogger 

Madeleine is a senior at James Madison University, studying to be a registered dietitian. She loves exploring recipes with fresh and nutritious ingredients. As a native to the Shenandoah Valley, she passionately supports the local food economy in Harrisonburg.