Comfort Foods

Mashed potatoes and gravy. Chocolate brownies. Chicken noodle soup. Holiday foods. Potato chips and sour cream dip. Cheese and pepperoni pizza, beef burritos, spaghetti and meatballs.

Everyone grows up with some sort of comfort food recipe collection, even if we’re not aware of it.

These three recipes are very easy. If you like to cook, you can easily play around with them and improvise. If you don’t like to cook, the basic recipes will give you tasty results. They’re also good dishes for the non-vegetarians in your life.

Breakfast Pizzas
Scramble Seasoning Mix
Rice Crispy Treats (Peanut Butter and Chocolate)

Our comfort food may differ dramatically from our neighbor’s (growing up in Valdez, Alaska I lived next to a family who cheered when moose meat pizza was put on the table) (seriously), but we all have them.

These are great recipes to veganize.

Try it for yourself, to give yourself a treat and make it easier to go veg, and for the meat-eaters in your life. Feeding meat-eaters rich, salty, creamy, familiar tastes can take away their fear of veg food, and thus, leave them more open to hear the vegan information.

When I had Sparks Restaurant up in Sonoma County, I used to enjoy experimenting with new food ideas, fancy wine country produce, and different ethnic recipes. But Sparks was created with advocacy in mind—we wanted to feed meat-eaters good vegan food, not just cater to the already-vegan crowd. We succeeded in that the majority of our customers were not vegetarian (at least, not at first!). Over time I noticed something: I could not take comfort foods off the menu, no matter how hard I tried. Our veg customers loved trying new things, but the non-veg folks always ordered comfort foods. The tempeh pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy—I never, ever took it off the menu. I was so sick of that dish by the time I sold Sparks! Same with the chocolate-peanut butter pie and the BLT salad (chopped romaine, tomatoes, fried “bacon,” red onion, and a creamy dill dressing similar to Ranch).

The kitchen staff may have been bored, but those dishes did amazing things for the animals. Time after time we watched meat-eaters eat the three courses described above, then tell their server how shocked they were that vegan food could taste like that, and then they would take a Vegetarian Starter Kit or Why Vegan with them as they left. When they came into the restaurant before their meal, they avoided the literatures stands as though the paper might carry the plague.

These three recipes are very easy. If you like to cook, you can easily play around with them and improvise. If you don’t like to cook, the basic recipes will give you tasty results. They’re all good dishes for the non-vegetarians in your life.

Breakfast Pizzas

1 package corn tortillas
1 large Yukon Gold potato, boiled until almost done, and diced (or you can use it raw, but leave extra cooking time).
1 box Mori-Nu silken tofu

1 container fresh, firm tofu
½ onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups chopped vegetables: Mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, etc
6 Tb scramble seasoning mix (recipe included below, make first).
1 can vegetarian refried beans
1 jar salsa
1 Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, cheddar, optional

Oil to sauté, or water if you’re doing McDougall

-Heat oven to 400 degrees.
-Heat ½ cup of water or 1 Tb vegetable oil in a big sauté pan or sauce pot.
-Add the potato, garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add more water or stock if you need to.
-Add the vegetables and cook for 3 minutes.

-Add the tofu and the seasoning mix. Stir everything very well and cook for 7-10 minutes. Smash the tofu with your spoon so it has the consistency of scrambled eggs.
-Turn the burner off. Spread a layer of beans on each tortilla. Place the tortillas on cookie sheets. Top each tortilla with a layer of the tofu scramble, and top with grated Follow Your Heart if you’re including that in your diet.
-Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.
-Eat with salsa and enjoy!

Other additions: Tofu sour cream, guacamole, chopped jalapeños if you like spicy foods.

You can also crumble sausage-style Gimme Lean into the pan at the beginning of cooking (with the potatoes and onions).

Scramble Seasoning Mix

Make a big batch and keep in your cupboard—also makes a great tofu egg salad sandwich seasoning, or better yet, add it to pureed, cooked white beans for a super low-fat (but filling) “egg salad!”

2 and 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tb onion powder
2 Tb paprika
1 tsp celery seed
1 Tb turmeric
3 Tb salt

1 tsp pepper

-Mix and store in a sealed container. Keeps indefinitely.

Rice Crispy Treats (Peanut Butter and Chocolate)

These are healthy rice crispy treats, but don’t let that turn you off. They are rich and gooey enough to serve to the junk-food junkies in your life. It’s a great recipe, and it’s a fun one to make with kids. Highly addictive.

1 cup creamy, all-natural peanut butter

1 cup brown rice syrup
5 cups crispy brown rice cereal. You can use conventional Rice Crispy cereal, too, but the natural version works very well.
1 heaping cup vegan chocolate chips
2 Tb soy or rice milk

-Gently heat the peanut butter and rice syrup, in a microwave or on the stovetop. You can heat them together. Don’t cook, just warm them so they’re easier to mix.
-In a very large bowl, mix the peanut butter and rice syrup very well.
-Gently fold in the cereal.

-Press firmly into a cake pan or spring form pan.
-Gently and carefully melt the chocolate and soymilk together, in a microwave or in a double-boiler on the stove top. When warm and liquid, frost the cereal.
-Cool for about an hour. Slice and eat. Tastes even better the next day.