By Unrulykale

Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

We all have those recipes that pull you back to childhood, right? Most of my family grew up in the country and biscuits and gravy was a staple breakfast food on the weekend. I was appalled to find out some of my “city folk” friends had no clue what I meant by biscuits and gravy. A common response was “you put turkey gravy on your biscuit and eat it for breakfast”. Bless your soul and all your vital organs, no…BUT I will smother a buttery biscuit in some homemade sausage gravy and eat it until my stomach and esophagus are at full capacity.

During my vegan days, I decided to take a crack at making vegan biscuits and gravy because I was just missing the fat and salt on a Sunday. Slowly, overtime, I adjusted my recipe for the gravy and I believe I have finally mastered it.

I flip flop on what kind of biscuits I use. Sometimes I am craving flaky biscuits you can peel layer by layer and other times I want a dense biscuit that will hold its own against the gravy. And other times….I just eat the gravy (shhhhh).

Recipe: About 4-5 Servings

Ingredients:
1 Package Lightlife Gimme Lean Meatless Veggie Sausage
1/2 Jalapeno
1/2 Medium Onion, Diced
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1-3 Tablespoons Flour
2-3 Cups Original Soy Milk
Salt + Pepper (To Taste)
Oregano (To Taste)

Served over biscuits.

  1. Combine jalapeno, onion, oregano and garlic in a skillet with a small amount of butter. Place over medium heat until onions are tender.
  2. Add veggie sausage and heat until lightly browned.
  3. Melt Vegan Butter into sausage and then add enough flour to coat the sausage. Heat for about 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add soy milk into sausage mixture while continuously stirring. Over medium-low heat bring mixture to a simmer and cook until thickened. Add seasoning.
  5. Remove from heat, pour over biscuits, and enjoy!

Spirulina Spirulina

(I hope the majority of you just said the title of this in the mouse’s voice from Cinderella)

Spiru- what? Spiru- who? Spiru- where have you been all my life?!  But seriously… what is spirulina, you ask? It is a type of blue-green microalgae (stay with me now) that is packed with nutrients and known for it’s health benefits. Spirulina has been around for a very long time… think Aztecs. It can be found in most health food stores in the form of tablets, capsules, flakes or dark green powder.  Before it makes its way to the store, it is first found in very alkaline freshwater and saltwater sources, where it is grown and harvested.

Spirulina is used in many different cuisines, but is probably used the most by those who follow a plant-based diet due to it’s bioavailable, easy-to-digest proteins (4 grams per tablespoon).  Not only is it an excellent protein source but it is also a great source of other nutrients.  One tablespoon (7 grams) of spirulina contains:

 

  • 20 calories
  • 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrate
  • All essential amino acids, making it a complete protein!
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Omega-6 fatty acids
  • Antioxidants
  • Chlorophyll
  • Copper (21% of RDA)
  • Significant amounts of Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, Zinc and small amounts of most other nutrients needed by the human body such as Calcium, Niacin, Iron and B Vitamins.

But that’s not all!  Spirulina has other health benefits.  One of those is in the area of heart health.  Studies have shown that spirulina can lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and sometimes may raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. Other studies have shown spirulina reduces blood pressure.

In addition to heart health, another potential benefit of spirulina is blood sugar control.  With more than 29 million of adults being Diabetic in America, this could prove to be a very important supplement.

Spirulina is also a great source of antioxidants such as phycocyanin, which help protect our bodies from oxidative damage.  Oxidative damage contributes to inflammation, cancer and other diseases. Spirulina is specifically well studied in the area of oral cancer and has been shown to have positive effects on cancerous lesions in the mouth.

Studies have shown improved symptoms of allergic rhinitis with spirulina use. What the heck is allergic rhinitis? If you suffer from this you may know but for those that don’t, allergic rhinitis is also known as hay fever.

Because of the strong smell and taste of spirulina, some prefer to take it in tablet/capsule form, but most people use the powder in smoothies. Bananas do a great job of masking the earthy flavor of Spirulina. Others have added it to things such as pesto, energy balls, tea and even… (wait for it…) no-bake cheesecake!

Browned Butter and Rosemary Butternut Squash with Zoodles

Until two years ago I was a pretty strict vegetarian, but after years and years of studying nutrition, I couldn’t deny the health benefits of eating fish. So one evening when I was out with one of besties, I dove mouth first into a fish taco. Ever since that day I have had fish almost daily and honestly, I feel a sense of mental clarity and maybe a bit more energetic. Now, whenever we go out to eat I search for good fish dishes to recreate at home and salmon is always one of my favorite choices.  This past New Year’s Eve I was lucky enough to have dinner with some of my very best of friends before going out. We decided on a cute little place in Dayton’s Oregon District so I scoured the menu for salmon. The salmon was good, don’t get me wrong, but the side that came with it made me want to ditch all sense of dignity and lick the plate when I was finished. It came with pureed butternut squash (aka adult baby food). Since that day (approximately 3 months exactly) I have been wanting to recreate the magic. Ladies and gentlemen here it is!

The great thing about this recipe is it is adaptable. I paired it here with zucchini noodles but later in the week I mixed a little bit of cream in it and used it as the sauce for ravioli. It makes sense, really, because if you put browned butter in anything it will automatically taste amazing. No questions about that.

Recipe: Makes 2-4 Servings

Ingredients:
1/2 Butternut Squash
1 Stick of Salted Butter
2 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
Olive Oil
Salt
2 Zucchini

  1. Peal and medium dice butternut squash. Toss in olive oil and salt and place roast in the oven at 400 degrees until very tender.
  2. Place butter and rosemary in a small saucepan over medium heat and slowly brown the butter, being sure not to burn the milk fat solids. The butter will start to be bubbly/foamy at first and then will turn a golden brown and emit a nutty aroma (see picture above for reference).
  3. In a food processor, puree the butternut squash and slowly add 1/2 to 3/4 of browned butter. Season to taste.
  4. Spiralize the zucchini and sauté over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil until tender.
  5. Serve the butternut squash mixture over the zoodles and pair with your favorite protein.
  6. Enjoy!

In the Kitchen with Kids

Becky and I work closely with moms of young ones every day as dietitians and one of the biggest complaints we hear is “they won’t touch anything I make because they are just so picky”. The first thing I say back is “Have you tried letting your son or daughter cook with you or even cook for you?”

This question is usually followed by a blank stare, so let me break it down for you. The last time you made dinner, how many times did you taste the food to see if it was coming along nicely? Personally, I taste my food at least 2 times while I’m cooking. Once to check the seasoning and once after I correct the seasoning. Truthfully, most of the time it’s closer to 10 times I am sure. If your kiddo gets hands on in the kitchen, they are more likely to taste new foods (at least 1 time). Also, after you are finished cooking don’t you feel excited to sit down and eat what you just made? Your kiddo is no different! Kids are far more likely to eat the food that they make themselves.

Another comment that I hear very frequently is “They only eat that kind of food when they are at their grandparents house”. Can you guess why? I don’t know about you but when I was a kid I would be all over the kitchen when my grandma was making dinner. She would let me wash the vegetables, roll out the dough, set the table, and usually make some crazy dessert concoction that everyone HAD TO TRY. Some of my favorite memories in the kitchen are at my grandmas house. I don’t know how many times she had to clean her orange shag carpet after I was done cooking (yes, her kitchen was wall to wall carpet). Thank you, grandma.

Transformations don’t happen over night. Don’t get upset if your kid doesn’t want to eat the food they prepared. Eventually they will. I promise.

Some additional things to try for picky eaters would be have them go grocery shopping with you and pick out which new foods they want to try that week. Also have your kiddo put his/her own food on the plate because you know if it is “their idea” they are way more likely to do it (including eating).

Key Lime Cake Pops

Becky has always been the cake pop master. And I have always been the master of eating said cake pops. Our brains have been focused on St. Patrick’s Day this whole month, so we wanted to try out a green cake pop. These turned out absolutely delicious and so very key limey!

Recipe: Approximately 36 Cake Pops

Ingredients:
1 Box Vanilla Cake Mix ( made with 3 Eggs, 1/2 Cup Key Lime Juice, 1/2 Cup Water + 1/3 Cup Canola Oil)
1/4 to 1/3 Cup Vanilla Icing
1 Tablespoons Key Lime Juice
12 to 16 Ounces-Light Green Candy Melts
Lollipop Sticks
Lime Zest

  1. Prepare vanilla cake recipe per boxes instructions. Our cake recipe called for 3 eggs, 1 cup of water, and 1/3 cup of oil but we traded out half of the water for key lime juice.
  2. Once the cake has baked and cooled, remove from pan and crumble in a medium-large bowl.
  3. Mix cake crumbles with the remainder of key lime juice and enough vanilla icing to easily roll the mixture (we used 1/3 cup). Roll into balls and chill.
  4. Melt candy melts and dip the tip of each of the lollipop sticks. Place the dipped end of the lollipop stick partially into each cake ball and chill.
  5. Once cake balls have been chilled, ensure candy melts are still completely melted and dip entire cake ball into candy.
  6. Sprinkle with lime zest and let the candy melt harden while cake pop is upright.
  7. Eat. Enjoy. Yum.