Veganized BK Zesty Sauce

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Every Thanksgiving Eve, my friends and I meet up for dinner and then go out to the bars in our hometown. It’s a tradition that’s identical to that of many  20 somethings (ew, I just said that) across the nation, including most of my graduating class. This year, my friends and I decided to change things up a bit and do tapas for Friendsgiving. Being the only vegan in the bunch, I decided to bring three dishes instead of just one. The challenge was to make them appealing to my meat eating friends. We’ll find out tomorrow night what my friends think but, as far as I’m concerned, all three dishes were a success.

The first dish I’ll share with you is this vegan copy cat version of Burger King’s zesty sauce. Typically paired with onion rings, this tangy, spicy sauce is also amazing on veggie burgs and asparagus fries.

Veganized BK Zesty Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup veganaise
  • 1/3 cup organic ketchup
  • 1/3 cup vegan prepare horseradish (found some at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 2 Tsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes so the flavors can mesh. You can store this delicious condiment in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to a week.

Hope you all enjoy your Thanksgivings!

Sunday Night Comfort Food: Vegan Teriyaki & Sriracha “Steak & Cheese” Sub

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When I’m craving comfort food, it’s usually greasy, carb-ridden American fare that has me ditching my steamed veggies and quinoa for something much more regrettable. Last night my boyfriend was noshing on his favorite local delicacy: a “teri-sriracha” steak and cheese sub. The smell was enough to make me run to the market and  promptly pick up a few items to make my own vegan version. By modifying the directions for boxed vegan sloppy joes, I was able to quickly whip up a plant-based alternative that was delicious, comforting, and exactly what I needed.

The part of last night’s meal that made me feel the guiltiest was the white french baguette. I’ve been trying (and succeeding for the most part) to stay away from food made with wheat flour, especially the processed white kind.  Was this sub super delicious and worth every bite? Yes. Would I eat one every night? Definitely not. That being said, the “steak and cheese” sandwich filling would be great over a salad or with a cooked grain like brown rice or quinoa.

In other news, I signed up for my first 5k, which takes place in about four weeks. Around this time last year, I was running 3-4 times a week and averaging around 5 miles per run. I’ve been dreaming of getting back into the great habit of early morning exercise and I thought that signing up for a fun 5k race with my friends would be the perfect motivation. This morning, I went running for the first time in six weeks. I ran the slowest 3 mile loop ever and by the end of it, I was out of breath and sore. Looks like I’ve got some work to do.

Vegan Terri-Sriracha Steak And Cheese

Follow the directions on the back of the Sloppy Joe box. Replace the tomato paste that the directions call for with teriyaki sauce and sriracha. Add the chopped onions when mixing in the box’s contents. Once your “meat” is done, remove from heat and stir in your vegan queso. Spoon into a sliced baguette. Set your alarm clock for an early morning run.

You want to be a breakfast champion?

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Oatmeal.

Chia seeds.

Flax seeds.

Cinnamon.

Fruit of your choice (pomegranate).

BOOM.

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If you’re interested in pomegranates or have questions about how to eat them, my advice is this:

1. Peel them off individually because if you try what this lifehacker video is suggesting, you’ll have a pomegranate juice disaster. Unless you’re trying to make a salad dressing or something, then it’s fine. What you’re missing out in is the ability to eat pomegranate seeds and pretend they’re rubies that burst open with fruit juice when you bite into them.

Nature’s gushers.

2. You’ll need to ignore the seed things in each, well, seed. Just forget about it.

3. Officially secure them as #1 on the list of best fruits ever.

Have a great day!

-Irene

Go To Breakfast: Tofu Scramble

A basic tofu scramble is one of those dishes that can be created and recreated a thousand times to include whatever ingredients you have on hand. That’s why this protein packed breakfast is one of my go-tos for a quick, no brainer meal. This morning, after a long overdue trip to the grocery store, I made a tofu scramble that was too good not to share. I usually make some variation of this version to include mushrooms, nutritional yeast and a wilted green. This time, I tried topping it off with some very yummy store-bought vegan queso and I was not disappointed.

tofuscramble

Here’s what I used:

  • 1/5 block of organic firm tofu
  • 1 tsp of truffle oil (olive oil will do just fine)
  • 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • 2 cups shredded kale
  • 5 chopped asparagus spears
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Sprinkled chia seeds
  • Drizzled Nacho Mom’s Ultimate Vegan Queso

Want to give it a try? Here’s what to do:

Heat your oil in a medium sized frying pan over the stovetop. Once the oil is hot, throw in your chopped garlic. You don’t want it to burn so I usually just wait until it smells really good and then throw in the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for a bit and then add a 1/3 cups of water and your kale and asparagus. Let the kale cook down in the pan, then crumble in your tofu. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast with some s&p to taste and mix it all up. Once the excess water in the pan has been cooked off, your scramble is almost done! Plate it, sprinkle it with some chia seeds and drizzle with Nacho Mom’s Ultimate Vegan Queso to serve.

So there you have it! How do YOU make your tofu scramble?

Realigning Myself With Veganism

About a year and a half ago, I left the country by myself for the first time ever. I was 24 years old, managing a customer service call center and had been going back and forth between a vegetarian and vegan diet for six years. Feeling very disconnected from myself and the people around me, I jumped at the chance to to spend a month at a rural artist residency in Canada. I intended to spend my time there doing yoga, taking long walks, and dedicating myself to my art, a clean, vegan diet and exploring the depths of my spiritual being. But, as it turned out, I wasn’t really ready for any of that.

I stayed in a renovated farmhouse with four other artists and an adorable little dog. The landscape was breathtaking. Green, open farms with happy animals and flower covered hills that rolled on forever. It was a huge difference from the life I knew in Boston and, as I rode my bike around the small town in my black denim jacket, I felt like an outsider. I had a great time getting to know the people that I shared that space with and a much harder time getting to know myself. The hours I spent alone felt like a spiritual detox. I was scared, emotional, unsure of my path and very, very cruel to myself. I felt off balance.  I slept a lot, because I’m the type, and before I knew it I was leaving, and sad to be leaving, and unhappy with what little art I had managed to make.

My happier times (and don’t be mistaken, they were plenty) were spent with my new friends, who I witnessed cook their own meals in the communal kitchen. Simple poached eggs and buttered toast for breakfast (with lots of coffee). Baked salmon with spinach. A gorgeous blueberry cheesecake. And, bacon.

The smell of bacon seemed to filled the home with a kind of familial warmth. It brought quick footsteps across the hardwood floor and exciting, smiling faces to the kitchen. At that time, I thought perhaps the rigidity of my vegan diet was holding me back from enjoying myself. So I ate the bacon.

And then I ate the poutine. And that fall, back in Boston, I put grass fed beef in my homemade chili. For the first time in six years, I ate the turkey at Thanksgiving. I stayed warm through the winter with Vietnamese Pho. But no later than the first signs of spring, a year from my month spent in Canada, something shifted. It started out as a whisper of a thought, the voice of my true conscious, speaking to myself. It said, “I don’t eat meat” as I browsed the menu at a local burger joint. And not long after that, I was saying it out loud.

So here I am, 25 years old, eating a vegan diet and feeling, a least on the subject of food, a little bit truer to myself. My time spent eating meat was important, if only because it put me in touch with my inner voice which I had struggled so hard to find a year earlier.

2. Cupcakes!

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Working in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston rules. In a few weeks I’ll be starting a new job outside of the city and it’s days like today that make me a little sad to be leaving. Today was the perfect cool, clear, gorgeous fall day. My coworker and I had lunch in the Public Garden and afterwards we walked down Newbury Street and I noshed on one of my favorite vegan treats.

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You may have heard of Georgetown Cupcake. It was founded by two badass sisters who are the stars of TLC’s DC Cupcakes. Although it started in Washington DC, they now have locations in Maryland, Soho, LA and, of course, Boston. Needless to say, Georgetown Cupcake is one of my favorite places to stop on my lunch break.

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Georgetown Cupcake isn’t a vegan bakeshop, but they do offer one vegan option each day. It alternates daily between apple cinnamon, carrot, and, my personal favorite, cranberry spice. Today I was thrilled to find out it was cranberry spice day. The cranberries offer an ideal amount of tartness to the cake and the sweet cream-cheese-like frosting  balances it out perfectly.

22Here’s me right before I scarfed down my delicious cranberry spice cupcake. As my  last day in Back Bay draws near, you can be sure I’ll be stopping into Georgetown Cupcakes at least a few more times.

1.

Thanks for visiting The Good Picnic. For my first post, I’d like to tell you a little bit about what you can expect from this blog in the future. My love for good food and desire for great health has very naturally lead me to a a vegetarian diet. Here, I’ll share my original vegan recipes, nerd out about my favorite plant based restaurants and review products. Hope to see you again soon!

-J