Tofu Nuggets and Sunchoke Fries

Last Sunday afternoon was dedicated to watching the 49ners, so I decided to make Michael something to munch on while he became engrossed in the game. I had a craving for nuggets and fries, but was out of my usually Gardien  nuggets and frozen fries. Tofu nuggets are easy to make, but I sadly only found one small potato for fries. Then I remembered that a bag of sunchokes came in my organic veggie box. I had no idea what to do with them, but knew they can be cooked like potatoes so I used them for fries.

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes, are a root vegetable related to sunflowers. They are high in Vitamin C and iron. They look like a mix between ginger root and a potato. But taste oddly like artichoke hearts. It’s nice alternative to the usual potato.

This recipes makes two servings of each.

Tofu Nuggets and Sunchoke Fries
Sunchoke Fries:
6 sunchokes (I threw in my lonely potato too), washed, cleaned and cut into disks
Cold Water
2 tbs salt
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Tofu Nuggets:
1/2 block of firm tofu, frozen drained and cut into bit-sized cubes
1/2 cup Bisquick (plain flour is fine too)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
Dash of Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Once you wash, clean and cut your sunchokes, place them in a large bowl and cover with cold water.

Add the 2 tbs of salt and let them sit for an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Make sure your tofu is properly drained—get as much water out as possible. Make sure when you cut into to cubes, you cut them as uniform as possible so they cook evenly.

In a large bowl add the tofu, Bisquick, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the tofu evenly.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and evenly space out your coated tofu.

Drain your sunchokes (do not rinse). Pat dry with a paper towel gently.

Return them to the bowl and coat with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Now spread evenly them on another baking sheet.

Pop both baking sheets in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The nuggets will be slightly golden and the sunchokes should be slightly crispy. You can adjust the times and temps if you like yours softer or crunchier.

Crispy on the outside, tender on the side.

Get some of your favorite BBQ sauce or natural ketchup, then dig in! A healthy game day snack while you watch your team in the playoffs. Michael was so fixed on the game he didn’t notice the fries were not potatoes until I said something 😛

Looks like potatoes, but taste like a artichoke. 

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili

In celebration of the Giants making it to the World Series, I told Michael I would make him whatever he wanted to eat during the game. He eagerly requested I make a version of Wienerschnitzel‘s chili cheese dog and chili cheese fries. So I did some research on the web and found a copy cat recipe. I made a few small changes, and used soy protein crumbles instead of ground beef for mine. This recipe is proof that vegans don’t just eat boring salads!

This make 4 servings of chili, enough for chili cheese fries and a chili dog for two people.

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili
1/2 of tube of Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
3 cups of water
1/8 cup corn starch
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs tomato paste
4 tbs chili powder
5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs white vinegar2

In a skillet over medium heat, crumble up and brown the ground beef.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, corn starch, flour, and tomato paste.

Add to the browned ground beef crumbles.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the sauce is at desired thickness.

Put the chili on some fries and a hot dog—or anything else you want! And don’t forget to add a little vegan cheese too.

This was soooo good. And WAY healthier than the real stuff.

Lentil Burgers and Homemade French Fries

As awesome and convenient as frozen, pre-made veggie burgers are, they are still a processed food. Just because something is meat and dairy free, doesn’t mean it still doesn’t have preservatives and fillers. On occasion when you are working late or in a hurry, they can make a fine dinner. But, the best way to get a good meat-free burger is to make it yourself. My favorite alternative burger is lentil. I first had one in this little restaurant by the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. It had great flavor and a meat-like texture. Like beef, it will take on the flavor of whatever you season it with, so you can make Southwest burgers with chili and cilantro, Indian with cumin and curry—or any other flavors you like. These are just basic burgers, so feel free to experiments with the spices. This recipe makes about 2 burgers and can be easily multiplied.

And what would a good burger be without fries. Making your own fries is just as easy as opening up a bag of processed frozen ones. Just cut, soak, season, and bake. And yes bake, not fry. Baking is so much healthier, no one needs to be eating deep fried foods. This recipe makes one serving and be easily multiplied as well.

Lentil Burgers

1 cup dried lentils
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italians ones, but it plain is fine)
1/4 cup onion, pealed 
2 cloves garlic, pealed 
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp house seasoning

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse and pick through the lentils.

Cooking the lentils according to the directions on the package.

Drain the lentils and let them cool for a bit.

In a food processor or blender, at the lentils and remaining ingredients. Process until blender and fairly smooth. It’s okay if there are some big chunks.

Form into patties and let them chill in the fridge for a few hours. This allows them to firm up and hold up better while cooking.

Now, you can fry them in a pan but I get better results baking in the oven. Lightly spray a baking sheet and place the patties on. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping half way through.

Since you have the oven all hot, might as well be efficient and throw some fries on the pan too.

Homemade French Fries
1 small russet potatoes
Water
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp house seasoning, depending on taste

Wash the potato very well.

Cut the potato in 1/4 inch strips.

In the small bowl, add enough water to submerge the potatoes and then stir in the salt. Add the potatoes and soak for 15 minutes. This will add some flavor and remove some of the starch.

Drain the potatoes well and lightly dry.

In small bowl, add the potato sticks and house seasoning. Coat the sticks well.

You can cook them at the same time as the burgers on the same baking sheet. Spread the sticks in an even layer on part of the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, same as the burgers, until golden.


I didn’t have any buns, so I just ate mine plain. But I suggest a nice whole wheat bun, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a good pickle on the side. I dipped my fries in some mustard and sweet chili sauce mix. If you go for ketchup, get the unsweetened all natural stuff. A lot of the big commercial brands are loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

A classic American meal with a fantastic healthy twist. Loves it!

Here Comes Summer: Brats, Fries and Coleslaw

The semester is almost over, which means soon it will be summer. I am staying for summer classes so I will miss the lovely summer back home in Oregon.  So I decided to bring a little of an Oregon summer to me with a Tofurkey brat, sweet potato fries and an light coleslaw.

Tofurkey is made by the Hood River, Oregon-based company Turtle Island Foods Inc, —and one of the best vegan brands out there. Not only is their name-sake product, Tofurkey amazing (even my carnivorous dad and brother look forward to some every Thanksgiving), they also make delicious brats and sausages too. Their Beer Brats are my favorite. They make me think of home because they are made with Full Sail Ale (another fine Oregon product). The texture and taste are perfect, and they are even juicy and sizzle on the grill. I put mine in a whole wheat bun, and topped it with ketchup and mustard. Doesn’t get much more summer-y than a big juicy brat. And you will live to enjoy more summers since this brat has zero cholesterol.

Sweet potatoes are not only sweet, but super as well. They are a superfood, which means they have a lot of vital vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. I love them in curries and stews, but they make great fries. I have always liked them better than regular fries, especially when seasoned with herbs. They are easy to make, but I had a few Alexia Sweet Potato Julienne Fries in the freezer that needed to be eaten.

I had some cabbage and apple that needed to be eaten as well, so I made a simple light coleslaw. I hated coleslaw as a kid because they were the traditional “more-mayo-than-anything-else” style. I like mayonnaise, just in moderation. Veganaise is hands down the best mayonnaise ever, vegan or otherwise. Please try it, it’s soooooo creamy. I sadly don’t have any Veganaise so I used Annie’s Goddess Dressing. I also suggest adding raisins, nuts, and carrots to the coleslaw for some sweetness and crunch.

Not only is this meal delicious and healthy, it is also easy. The only hard part is waiting for the coleslaw to chill. This is proof that healthy food can be fast food.

Here Comes Summer Dinner:
Light Coleslaw:
2 cups cabbage, shredded (any kind is fine, I used Chinese)
1 large red apple, chopped (I used golden delicious)
1/2 to 1 cup, depending on taste, Annie’s Goddess Dressing
1 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 tbs mirin
salt and pepper to taste

Brats and Fries:
Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Garlic salt
Tofurkey Beer Brats
Whole wheat hoagie rolls (the brats are too big for a simple hot dog bun)
Plenty of ketchup, mustard or other condiments

Sweet, crispy, and a little tangy.

To make the coleslaw, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until the cabbage is thoroughly coated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. I made mine the night before. Makes about 4 servings.

 Actual serving size. Don’t let your eyes fool you, it was plenty.

Cook your fries according to the directions on the package. Or, you can always make your own. To cut down on fat, use cooking spray instead of oil to grease your cooking tray. Sprinkle with garlic salt for a nice contrasting flavor to the sweetness.

I fed one of these to an ex once and he had no idea it was tofu.

I microwaved my brat for one minute, but they do come out better on the grill. See the package for proper cooking instructions.

Pop the brat into the bun and top with as much ketchup, mustard or any other condiments you like.

Plate up your brat, a serving of fries, and generous scoop of slaw and enjoy a little taste of summer (and Oregon!)

Glass of Reed’s Cherry Ginger Brew and Animal House
to re-live my UO days, can’t believe it’s almost been a
year since I graduated!

After I left the store, I realized this would have been a perfect Oregon summer dinner if I made a marion berry pie for dessert, but I didn’t feel like going back to the store. I will make it for another post soon.