Vegan “Meat” Balls

These vegan “meat” balls pack a whole lot of flavor and protein without using egg or any animal by-products. Textured vegetable protein (TVP) and kidney beans make a great, meaty base for these vegan meatless meat balls. These can also easily be formed into patties to make veggie burgers! Makes about 12 meatless meatballs.

What you will need:
a food processor, mixing bowl and skillet
about 4 oz crimini mushrooms
1/2 red onion
1 can kidney beans
2/3 c TVP
1 tbsp bruschetta seasoning (pictured below)
sea salt to taste
oil for sauteing

Clean mushrooms and onions and chop into small pieces. In a large skillet, heat oil on a medium heat and add mushrooms and onions. They should sizzle once they hit the pan. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, reconstitute the TVP by adding about a 1/3 c hot water and set aside. It should only take about 7 minutes to reconstitute. Once mushrooms and onions are done sauteing and the TVP is reconstituted; in food processor, add drained and rinsed kidney beans, half of the onion and mushroom mix and half of the TVP and blend until smooth. Then, in the large mixing bowl, mix in the rest of the TVP, sauteed mushrooms and onions, blended kidney bean mix, seasonings and salt and mix. Start forming your bean ball mix into balls while heating oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add balls to skillet (you want them to sizzle when they hit the pan, or else they will start to fall apart) and cook until brown on all sides. Use them along with your favorite pasta, or make a meatless meatball sandwich. Freeze any extra for later use.

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Grilled Pineapple and Portobello Mushroom Sandwich with Fresh Avocado Spread and Kale

Grilled Pineapple and Portobello Mushroom Sandwich

This vegetarian sandwich combines the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with the use of grilled, sweet pineapple and grilled, savory portobello mushrooms. This might just be my new favorite sandwich ever.

What you will need:
a George Forman grill
pineapple, sliced about 1/3 inch thick
portobello mushroom
cheddar cheese
avocado
kale
bread (I used 7 grain sprouted bread)
a little bit of butter for grilling the portobello mushroom

On a heated, non-greased, George Forman grill, take your pineapple slice and place it on the grill for 2-3 minutes. Remove it and use butter to grease the grill. Then, place your portobello mushroom on the grill for about 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, toast your bread. Once the mushroom is done cooking, arrange it on the bottom half of the bread, then layer cheddar cheese and pineapple on top of it. Use the avocado as a spread and spread it across the top half of the bread and place kale on top as your lettuce. Serve with fries, chips or tomato soup.

Side note: if you don’t have a George Forman grill, you can make this on your stove top in a skillet.  Just cook your pineapple on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, and cook your mushrooms on medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side.

Vegan Eats In Downtown Cleveland

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There’s a great little restaurant in the heart of downtown Cleveland, where everything on the menu is vegan. That’s right. Completely vegan. At The Flaming Ice Cube, you can order anything from gooey, “cheesy” quesadillas, to vegan bakery. They even have a page filled with their handmade veggie burgers, voted one of America’s top veggie burgers by VegNews. I jumped at the chance to go there today when one of my fellow vegetarian friends said she wanted to try it out for the first time. I decided to try one of America’s best veggie burgers, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint! I ordered the Hula Burger, topped with grilled pineapple (yum!), green peppers, “cheese”, and vegan mayo. My friend, Lena, ordered the Pesto Burger and she was equally impressed.

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Whether you’re a vegan or a carnivore, I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll like! If you live in the Cleveland, Ohio area and haven’t checked out The Flaming Ice Cube, I highly recommend it!

Mini Shiitake Mushroom and Black Bean Chipotle Hummus Sliders

Mini Shiitake Mushroom and Black Bean Chipotle Hummus Sliders

If you made yesterday’s spicy black bean chipotle hummus, you might be wondering what to do with the leftovers (if there are any!). Here’s a simple, quick and delicious gourmet vegan dish you can make in under 10 minutes.
With pita, I’ll keep it in the freezer and when I’m ready to use it, I’ll use tongs to toast it over an open flame on my stove top. Otherwise, I’d forget I even had it and let it all go stale (it happens too often).

What you will need:
shiitake mushrooms
mini pita rounds
spicy black bean chipotle hummus
red onion
cucumber
kale (i used red kale because it’s so darn pretty)
earth balance buttery spread for sauteing (or olive oil)

Clean and remove stems from shiitake mushrooms. In medium size pan, heat earth balance on a medium/low heat and add shiitake mushrooms. Cook for about 8 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Toast pita on the stove top and spread the chipotle black bean hummus on it, then layer the shiitake mushrooms, red onion, kale and cucumber on top. Great to share with friends or have as a meal all to yourself.

How to Freeze and Press Extra Firm Tofu for its Best Texture and Flavor Absorption

How to Freeze and Press Tofu for its Best Texture and Flavor Absorption

Freezing and pressing tofu gives it its best texture and ability to absorb all the flavors of what you cook it with. It will change your view on tofu forever!

What to do:
Take an unopened package of extra firm tofu and freeze for at least 24hrs. Let it thaw by leaving it out or you can speed up the process by putting the unopened package in a bowl of hot (not boiling!) water. Keep changing out the water until package is completely thawed. Open your package of tofu and start squeezing all the excess water out of your block of tofu without crumbling it. Cut into your preferred shape (I love doing tofu triangles!) and you’re ready to pan fry or bake your tofu!