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Friday, April 28, 2017

Spicy Tempeh Tacos, Time Management, and the Impending Long Weekend

Guys, I done good. The week's been a bit hectic (mostly self-inflicted, but busy just the same), and I've managed to come out on top. Getting up early, baking off loaves, fast-paced grocery store rides, prepping food ahead of time, running through the heat, and taking care of business. You know what I'm talking about. Just like you, I've got my own Little Life and all of its unique opportunities and challenges, both of which I'm working to increase all the time, whenever possible. I'm pushing the clock more than ever. Running against time and daylight.* It's worth stopping for a minute when the product of my efforts rises to the surface. When something gives us pause, if only for a few minutes of crazed face-stuffing before the kids self-destruct or whisk us off in separate directions. Yep. Taking time to appreciate is all I'm doing. And lately where I envision this blog going. Maybe less is more? I'm not sure. What I am sure about though are the completely underappreciated effects of homemade custom tempeh tacos as a prelude to a fabulous weekend. Guys, this is what it's all about. We're off on our standard paradisiacal Pacific long weekend with boards pre-waxed, food pre-made, and plans prefigured. All that's left to do is take it way down to the basics, strip it away to home-style, submerged to the waists, engaged to the fullest, watching that gigantic fireball go down over the horizon. Slowly and surely. That's the magic time. And it always will be. Whatever I can manage to accomplish in the kitchen is merely simulacrum, reconfigurations of nature's finest offerings in the best manner possible. It's noble work, but it's only food.

I suppose in a basic sense I go to the water for inspiration, for those challenges and opportunities I crave. Lie around and sip cocktails on the beach? Hell no! I've got things to do and lessons to learn. Family and friends to enjoy. Experiences to share. Guys, let's be clear: there's surfing to be done! Always, surfing to be done down here. And that's some kind of special magic in and of itself. I've got a new board, some even newer fancy fins, and about as much stoke as anybody to get out there. If you're wondering why the food's pre-made, well, there you go. See here's the thing. I love cooking. You know that already. Of all the things that I must do throughout my day, that's pretty high on my list of favorites. Great, right? Expert custom food's what we all need, AND what I want to be making. Win win win! Except, and here's the thing part, there are lots of OTHER things I love to be doing, of which surfing's just one. Things that come into conflict with the time needed for food prep and creation. So until I figure out a successful time manipulation strategy, I've gotta take sides and make plans. It's quite hectic sometimes. Getting stretched thin and that. But at the end of the day,** when the tacos come together, the bread's cooling, the guac's mixed, the pasta salad's chilling, the pizza dough's rising, the table's set, the coffee's on, the mango's diced, the rice is steamed, the cooler's stocked, the boards are packed, the family's happy, and the sun goes down? Dudes. I've done it. That's the time to rejoice.

That's the time we love. (By the way, what kind of I & I Most High Selassie I mango is that anyway! Incredible!)

But until we get that time, we've got enough going on to keep us busy, engaged. Taking full advantage of each moment we have, with what we have, the best way we know how.

So, let's review.

1. We make tempeh.

2. We make tacos.

3. And then we go surfing.

And after surfing?

Well, we eat tempeh. But it's not a big hassle because it's all pre-made.

Hey, do something rad out there this weekend! I'm trying my best to really cut those rails in, working my bottom turns, and being there.

Really there. You know what I mean?

* Not to mention that devil sun. Man, it's hot.
** In a figurative sense. I don't drink coffee after dark. Ever.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Garlic Miso Lo Mein with Roasted Butternut Squash, Cherry Tomatoes & Kale

Simplicity rules right now at VMT. I've got lots on the table. The weather's been heinous. And food preparation's been feeling like a chore rather than a privilege. I'm not sure what's changed really. I'm always busy, mostly by design. Racing the clock keep me productive and, in most cases, content. But lately time's been extra compressed. I get up early, come to work, teach my classes, sweat it all out on my ride home, play with the boys, sometimes go for a run, always a swim, and then I'm deep into dinner prep. This week's bicycle transmission rebuild, 4 year old birthday party, and long weekend trip prep have pushed me into hyper speed. But, not to worry. I can make it happen. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve yet. One of those tricks is old school efficiency: doubling up on dinner ideas to serve us for two nights. Supper Redux! Clutch. Such a good call. And the best part? Most food improves on the second day! Yep. It's true. So, these days, at least once a week, I'm trying to plan for two nights at once. This way the second day gets freed up for that Wednesday run, a blast to the grocery store, ironing out that pesky 5th cog clicking issue (so annoying), or simply clearing off the schedule for some extra kid reading time. We've got a great kids' Shakespeare* that we rotate through, as well as some new Star Wars Lego books. Lots to do and learn. Always. 

But the thing is that simple isn't necessarily bad. In fact, dinners have been remarkably tasty lately in all of their whole food goodness. I made a homemade quinoa/black bean grilled veggie burger with a green wreath of various savory veggies. That was really good. Check it.

People have been chowing down. Even Asa. He's been getting into some potatoes and noodles. And me? I've freed up a bit of time to work on the other stuff. I figure that if stress becomes too high, the food I'm eating (and banking on for my health) may not be enough. It's time to chill. This lo mein dish is perfect example. With a few key prep steps...20 minutes. Seriously high-quality food in a nice compact block of time. Here's the plan...

Get some of those thick, short lo mein noodles, and stash them away for nights like these. I opted for butternut squash, chard, and cherry tomatoes, but you could use almost any veggies you have. Truth is, I used these ingredients precisely because anything else would have necessitated a grocery store trip--something I was not in the mood for. So, we make due with what we have. Pre-roast the squash. That's easy. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and lay the pieces face down in an inch of water. Bake for 35-40 at 300 F. Check it frequently to make sure you don't overcook it. It will continue to soften after it's out of the oven, so remove it when it's still quite firm.

Saute the chard with garlic, sea salt and olive oil. When it's wilted, add the cubed squash to just barely brown. Some cracked black pepper? Definitely. The saaauuuce is, of course,where you're going to need to focus. I'm a big fan of miso, but you could use standard broth. Get 2 c. of either going, whisk in 2 T. of flour, some minced garlic and onion powder, a bit of 5-spice, and some a bitty blast of agave nectar and stir it into the warm noodles until thickened. Boom! Instant goodness. Some sriracha on the side's a good call. But at this point you're a regular hero. You've got a solid, mostly whole foods dish on the table without disrupting the balance. You know what I'm talking about. The kids are screaming for food, or at each other for reasons of insignificant aggression, time's sliding by at rapid speed, tomorrow's encroaching. Just want to sit down and read something for pleasure? Talk to your spouse without constant interruption? Guys, dream on. You've got responsibilities and very few breaks. But the good news? You're highly adaptable. And capable.

I take comfort in that. And lo mein, too. There's a small bit of solace in these bowls. If I take a deep breath and eat slowly and deliberately, I can get there.

Cook fast. Eat slowly.

This is it.


* Hamlet appears to be their favorite. I've never been much of a fan. I'm looking forward to when they're old enough for Titus Andronicus.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pina Calala Crepes with Fresh Mango

Hey, when you get onto something that works you gotta run with it, right? These two yellowy orange fruits were made for each other, so I'm really just doing nature's own intended work here by fixing them up a bit and reuniting them in delicious, righteous configurations. Good work, I must say. These were a real treat this weekend. Everybody ate two for a late morning snack before bike riding.

Pineapple~Passion fruit Coulis (makes 2 c.)
  • 6 fresh passion fruit
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 3 T. tapioca flour

Scoop out the passion fruit, including the seeds, into your food processor's mixing bowl. Then pulse it up a few times to finely chop the fruit--mostly just trying to pulverize any extraneous pith. Strain through a fine metal sieve to remove the seeds. Reserve some for a sexy plate photo shoot or simply discard them. (They're perfectly edible, by the way.) In the meantime add the pineapple and the strained passion fruit juice back to the processor and run until well-combined. Add 1/4 c. agave nectar and pour into a small saucepan. I like to remove a bit of the juice to mix the tapioca flour in, whisking well before adding it to the saucepan. Now raise the heat on the pan and simmer for a few minutes, adding the starch and whisking well. When it begins to thicken, turn off the heat, and set it aside until it's crepe time. (If you can wait. This stuff goes down pretty easy right off a spoon, btw.)

VMT Whole Wheat Crepes (makes upward of 12 @ 8")
  • 3 c. cold rice milk (almond or soy work, too)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 T. arrowroot powder
  • 1 t. sea salt

These go sweet or savory, guys. Your call. Blend all the ingredients together and set in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking. Overnight's probably better. When you're ready, spray a well-seasoned 9" cast iron or non-stick pan (with sides) with a bit of cooking spray. Then lay down a 1/3 c. of batter. Swirl it around so it's evenly distributed. Let it sizzle for a few minutes until the edges JUST start to peel up, then carefully flip it over with a metal spatula, cooking the other side for half a minute or so. Set these aside in a neat little stack covered with a towel or foil.

These ones I rolled up with fresh mango pieces and then hit them with the saaauuuce! Asa isn't too keen on the calala, so he opted for banana~mango, a noble choice, I must say. We all had a couple, and then took a break to do other stuff. Later on we enjoyed the remaining crepes, some with chocolate, and others with avocado and tahini dressing. Anything goes with these, guys. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Easy Vegan Falafel with Homemade Sourdough Pita Bread

Guys, hey. How was it? The big weekend? Well, it was kind of a standard weekend I suppose, but one I was really looking forward to for various reasons. I hope you got out and about, made some food, maybe an adventure of some sort? I was fortunate to get all of these things accomplished myself, despite some really truly heinous weather down here. Oven-esque is the best way to describe the weather in Managua right now. Just no kind of air moving and heavy, hot air. It's the worst. Blah~! But it doesn't stop us. Nope, extra water, extra sunscreen, electrolyte pills, sports drinks, pools, ocean, darkness, I've got all kinds of ways to mitigate these conditions to which, quite frankly, I've really become quite accustomed. My main man Michael and I got things started right on Saturday morning with a dawn mission to the coast. How early? What was once the middle of the night (or, at one point long ago, a late bedtime) is now the norm...

With a responsible bedtime and self-timed drip coffee, these 0300 wake-ups (sometimes earlier) are really pretty easy. I suppose it all started for me back in Senegal, 7 or 8 years ago, when I first learned about real oppressive heat. We'd do our long runs before dawn along the ocean, and it became part of my DNA. Since then I've lived in a bunch of much cooler places, and I can't bear to sleep in much later. Here though? It's truly necessary. And might I say even a bit fun. The world's quiet, and we can get ours before most people even wake up.

In any event, surfing was good. I caught two of the best rights of my career so far (N.B. short career, small waves). And it was great to hang with Michael, a much more experienced and knowledgeable water man. We met up, caught up, caught some waves, schooled ourselves, saw a bit of the countryside, and were back home before 10:00. The rest of the day was filled with errands and kid stuff. Quite tiring actually. But I ripped out a falafel meal to really write home about. And, of course, I've got all the details for you. But the key, guys? Pitas! Not sure how I've missed this for so long. Super easy. Super delicious. Check it.

I've even got some step-by-step shots for you, too. Helpful, right? You may not have a dope little mini-size purple roller like I do (thanks a million, Em), so just imagine whatever kind of rolling pin you have, K?

VMT Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread (makes 8)
  • 1 c. active sourdough starter
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. ap flour
  • 1 c. ww flour
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 t.+ sea salt

Mix it, knead it, leave it. I allowed mine to rise for about 4 hours, then shaped it into one big ball and put it in the fridge for about 5 days. You don't need this amount of time whatsoever, but I do think that at least a day or so in the fridge does wonders for that gluten activity. Sourdough's a thing of patience and time. If you haven't already figured that out, then this might be a good time to do so. If you want fast and easy, simply add a package of instant yeast and forget about it. (Not recommended.) 

In any event, divide it into 8 equal portions, roll them into balls, and eventually into flat pancakes, an 1/8" or so thick (see first two photos). Bake each of them on a hot cast iron surface at 475 F. for about 2 minutes on side 1 and 1 minute for side 2, flipping with a spatula. TIP: If you attempt to flip them with tongs, you're likely to puncture and deflate the bread. If you're lucky the little guys will puff right up, and you'll have that pocket action you're so crazy about. If you're not lucky, well, you'll have like a tortilla, which is still pretty rad. You can see them just out of the oven below. I used the cookie sheet just to store them. I think the cast iron cooking surface is pretty important.

Anyway, the bread was really delicious, so it was important to get something equally righteous inside them. Easy, low-fat vegan falafel's my thing!* I don't make it too terribly often, but this recipe's pretty dialed.

VMT Falafel (serves 4-6)
  • 2, 15 oz. cans chick peas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 T. flax meal with equal part water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 T. sesame seeds
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. coarse sea salt
  • 1 t. sumac (don't stress if you don't have this; use more lemon instead)
  • 1/3 c. loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 3 T. ap flour

Rinse and drain the beans and set them aside. Make your flax eggs and allow them to rest for a few minutes. Then pour them into your food processor along with the rest of the ingredients except the flour and pulse until everything's well chopped and mixed. Then add in the chick peas and do the same until you have a chunky mixture. Then add the flour, one tablespoon at a time until the mixture sticks together well but doesn't stick to your hands. Then make small balls with a mini ice cream scoop (2 T.), press them flat and pan-fry for about 5 minutes/side in hot peanut oil.

Dressing these up was simple with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro, and diced onion. Lemon tahini dressing? Yep. All that goodness packed into one first-class homemade pocket. Perfect fuel for Sunday's suffer fest in the hills with my buddy James, a talented young ultra-runner with a thirst for self-destruction. Yep, we suffered out there. Big time. Hey, what am I to do? We have this extraordinarily cruel 100k coming up next month, a course that seems deliberately catered for widespread suffering. And both of us need the heat miles. We got them out there Sunday, man. And more. These photos can probably tell you more of the experience than I can.

Scorched earth, boy. Char, dirt, dust, crust. Tropical apocalypse. We went for it. 4 or 5 hours' worth. But, the upshot is that I feel really good now. The miles did what they were supposed to. The training's payed off. And my focus on race day is now a lot clearer. Nobody knows just why we do these things. We talk about it sometimes, but the answers are always different and uncertain. There's adversity and impracticality to overcome, a raw undercurrent of desire and drive. We can get into all that. Becoming stronger along the way.

As much as I complain about it, running has taken me into spectacular scenarios in more places than I can now recall.** There's comfort in that. And when my body agrees to go along with these harebrained ideas, and everything synchronizes? Well, that's a magical thing. Sports and psychology and nutrition and discipline.

We go big even when it's hot. I can make sense of it when it's over.

Of course, I have this to come home to.

I hope things synced up for you, too. It's all we can ever hope for. 

A fine balance. 

Hey, have a great week! Until next time, 

Be well.

* Sorry to bum you out, but most falafel in restaurants is made with egg
** Naturally occurring memory loss notwithstanding

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coconut-Crusted Chikkin and Waffles, Y'all!

Home-style is my style. That much is clear. Of course, I cook and eat almost exclusively at home, so it stands to reason. But home-style means something more, doesn't it? It seems roughly synonymous with comfort food, another term I've long been intrigued by. And reflective of a certain ethos. A way of interacting with food. Home-style at VMT is about making the very best food I can with my very best people. Every day. Whenever possible. The priority is celebration and nourishment. Sometimes food time is the ONLY time we have to be together with the same task. It isn't always pretty either. Folks get tired, crawl under the table, throw food at their brother, or, in some infrequent scenarios, their father or, gulp... mother. Guys, it's tough out there. We're out in the world all day. It's hot as sh!t. When we come home, folks need to chill. They need refreshment and nourishment. And in some cases, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I can't help that. So we were four days into the first week back after a vacation. Tempers were building. It was time to chef up some soul food. Straight from the SOUL! I'm about as far from Southern as one can be, so bear with me here...

I can make a waffle though. And some mean seitan. But what you might not know is that I can also do make an amazing gravy. A, like, sitting-at-the-table-spoon-feeding-myself-the-leftovers-after-dinner kind of gravy. I'm not ashamed to admit it. You ever have gravy like that? It's powerful. You get to drizzling that gravy AND the maple syrup up, spritzed over with some Louisiana hot sauce, scallions, sliced fresh jalapenos, and black finishing salt? Look out! We chowed this meal. And I've got all the details recorded and organized for the next full-scale Southern taste bud assault. Check it out.

VMT Coconut Vanilla Belgian Waffles (makes 6-7)
  • 3 T. flax meal and equal parts water: whisk together and let it rest
  • 1 c. ap flour
  • 1 c. ww flour
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 2 t. each baking soda, powder
  • 1 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 3 T. raw sugar
  • 3 T. canola oil or melted butter

You want a simple waffle for this meal. Don't go about mixing in any fruit or anything. Coconut & vanilla are the ticket! Trust me. Mix the flax/water and let it rest. Meanwhile, heat up your iron! Then add in the remaining ingredients. Scoop about 1/2 c. into each square of your pre-greased iron and cook for desired doneness. Serve with only authentic maple syrup!

While the waffles are going you can get on with prepping the seitan. The cutlets themselves you should definitely pre-make. I do mine in the morning before work. It only takes about 45 minutes, including 30 minutes of inactive cook time. That way when you get home, dinner prep's a snap. This whole meal took me about 30 minutes to prepare and serve. You can access my go-to seitan recipe here. I breaded and pan-fried the cutlets for this dish. There's no other way that's gonna cut it here. I do an almond milk bath and then a shredded coconut/panko/flour mix with salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. These get about 5 minutes/side in hot oil and a fresh paper towel to drain. It's magic, kids. Better than chicken, on all fronts. Trust me.

And the gravy? Guys, I'm on it. Start with the roux and follow it up with liquid. It makes a huge difference. Into a hot skillet I add Earth Balance butter, 3-4 T. and 2-3 T. flour, whisking until it becomes a paste. Then whisk in about 1-1 1/2 c. of veggie stock, seasoned up with liquid aminos and whatever spices you've got on hand. I like to use sage and herbs de Provence. Whisked for a few minutes over low heat, this mixture turns into an amazing gravy really fast! Perfect flavor and consistency with minimal kind of deal.

At the end of it all grill some of that sweet corn or collards or whatever, but a little color's nice. Otherwise you're dealing a heavy hand of beige, and we all know about that. So, mix the textures, and be sure to mix the accoutrement around on your plate. Once that fork starts stabbing things up, clear the room. You're in for it.

Deep Southern vegan love from the most Northern of all transplanted tropical foodies around.

Confusing? Maybe. Delicious? No doubt.

Set yourself up now!

So we're about to launch into an action packed home-style weekend around here. As usual, lots to do and limited time to do. My buddy James is coming down on Sunday to help motivate me for one last excruciatingly hot, long trail run to prep for next month's 100k here in Nicaragua. Remember the 21,000' of climbing I was mentioning? Yeah, so that one. It's impending.

I'm also psyched to get to the coast with Michael first thing in the morning. I got smart and scrapped the morning's running plans (which I was dreading) to go surfing instead. I must be getting smarter in my old age. More fun = better. It's simple math.

I guess in the end math always wins.

I was thinking about getting the local mango and calala together with my classic crepe recipe this weekend, too. Some fresh fruity treats to look forward to.

Hey, enjoy it. Whatever's on the docket...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fresh Mango, Carrot & Raisin Scones

Guys, of the things I've learned about breakfast over the years, few are as universal as the success of scones. As far as I know everybody loves them. And because they're remarkably easy to make, they should be pretty high up on your weekly breakfast rotation. Getting sick of that same old cereal? I feel you. You can rise pretty fast to apotheosis-level scone production with a few simple ingredients and a little sexy drizzle on top. Go for it! You deserve a break. And with all that fresh carrot you're well into the guilt-free zone.

I've got you hooked up with a few tweaks on my standard arrangement.

VMT Mango & Carrot Scones (makes 8-10)
  • 3 c. flour (50% ap & 50% whole wheat)
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. allspice
  • 1/4 c. raw sugar
  • 2 T. tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 4 T. firm coconut oil or cold vegan butter
  • 1 1/2 c. coconut milk (sub other vegan milk)
  • 1/2 t. lemon extract
  • 1 c.+ fresh diced mango (small chunks)
  • 1/2 t. turmeric (color) 
  • 1/2 medium carrot, grated finely 
  • 2/3 c. raisins

Preheat to 425 F. Mix together the first seven ingredients, then mix in the fat by hand or with pastry knives. Once it's well mixed, add the remaining ingredients, saving the mango, carrot, and raisins for last. Bake for 13-15 minutes on parchment paper or in a fancypants cast iron scone pan for a bit longer.

Make your drizzle by pulsing up some mango in your food processor or blender, say 1 cup's worth. Then add it to a small sauce pan, along with 1/2 t. of lemon extract, 2 T. of agave nectar, and 2 T. of tapioca flour and let it simmer away, all the while whisking like a crazy person. Go for 5 minutes or so and allow it to cool before you do the deed.

If you're pressed for time or some kind of sugar fiend (or both), simply add some mango juice (1-2 t.) to about 3/4 c. of confectioner's sugar and drizzle that crack right on there. People will be happy either way.

I went for the crack attack myself, but when in doubt, go with fruit.

That's some wisdom right there.

Moister than a muthah! Truth is I let the mango run a bit long in the food processor, so the final product was sort of cakey, but they were delicious! Call them whatever you want.


It's all good.

Eat 'em up.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Vegan Zucchini Lasagna with Green Chard & Portobello Mushrooms

We've got a couple picky eaters down here--another way of saying we have kids, I suppose. But it's a constant effort to increase their range of accepted foods, veggies mostly. Why kids steer clear of green things I'll never be sure, but that's the issue with our little dudes. Green apple Jolly Ranchers? Sure! Green skin on zucchini? Fahgettaboutit! As any parents worth their salt we go to great lengths to achieve excellence when it comes to our kids--one of the primary reasons I've committed to vegan life, in fact. Doing the best we can is about all I can ever ask of myself or them, so we press onward, picking out some of the green bits along the way but doing the right thing. Always.

So, I'm sure you can agree that it's pretty key to have a good lasagna recipe in your back pocket, something you can bust out for a potluck or an easy mid-week dinner. Anybody can make one, there's nothing not to like, so everyone's going to love it! Number one rule of food production? Making people happy. You can serve the healthiest, most delicious plates, but if folks aren't into it or it comes at the wrong time or some other such nonsense, you're hosed. All that work for nothing. You've got lots of other things to do, I know. Making food's probably not your top priority, but I sense it creeping to the top. Even so, you've got an hour or less to prep food for the troops? Your special little brood? Lasagna's a good call. Especially when you can get stealthy with some thinly sliced zucchini subbed in for the noods! Yes, indeed! It works and my kids barely noticed the difference. Ha!

Here's my recipe. It'd make me happy if you made it yours. (Remember the happiness tip?)

VMT Zucchini Lasagne with Mushrooms and Chard (9x13")
  • 1 package lasagna noodles, your choice
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1, 32 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 t. herbs de Provence
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 8 oz. portobello mushrooms
  • 4 c. diced green chard or spinach
  • 1 batch silken cashew cheese (recipe here)
  • 2-3 T. olive oil
  • 1 bag Daiya mozzarella (sub any vegan mozzarella. If you don't have access to fancy cheese, you may leave it out. The dish will still be quite good with only the cashew cheese.)

Pre-heat to 400 F. Slice your zucchini lengthwise at 1/4" thickness and set aside. Then saute your mushrooms and chard for a few minutes. Season those as you see fit. Make sure you have silken tofu, garlic, nutritional yeast, and cashews for the cheese recipe above. This only takes a few minutes to make in the food processor but is decidedly lame without any of the aforementioned ingredients. Make a shopping list! So, the basic layering technique of lasagna's all you need to know. Lay down a few tablespoons of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles. Now go with the silken cheese and mushroom/chard mix. More sauce. Then zucchini slices, mimicking the noodle layer below. Repeat until you reach the top where you should finish with another layer of the wheat noodles. Only rules? Make sure to get everything in there and add more cheese than you think you need. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Broil for a few minutes without foil for an extra expert finish.

Serve with green beans (our kids do eat these) or whatever else you might like. Salads work well, of course. 

Making gooey vegan dinners makes me happy because they're unlikely and exceptionally delicious. Plus we get to feel good about the whole ordeal. No weird byproducts, mystery manufacturing, or unwarranted cruelty. 

It's all good, friends. It has been my experience that a good vegan lasagna can win the heart of the most dairy-loving omnivore, so don't be afraid to serve it up for guests. Nobody's going to complain.

Except maybe your kids, so peel that zucchini and apportion some without the mushrooms/chard if you need to!

Thanks for reading! Happy Wednesday!