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Bringing Side Dishes To Center Stage

For a simple meal, turn a side dish or appetizer into a complete meal.

Ultimate Bruschetta

Whole grain bread loaf
Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Jar of mushrooms
Westsoy baked Italian style tofu, cut into cubes
Garlic salt
Fresh baby spinach, chopped
Garlic olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Avocado, sliced thin
Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds
2 large tomatoes, diced
Dried Italian seasoning or dried basil

Cut bread into thick slices and spread a thin layer of Earth Balance Buttery Spread on each slice. Sprinkle with garlic salt and toast in toaster oven or under oven broiler. Sauté baked tofu, onion, mushrooms and chopped spinach just until heated through and spinach starts to wilt. Top toasted bread with cooked ingredients. Top immediately with Daiya cheese shreds. Then add fresh tomatoes, sliced avocado, and a sprinkle of dried herbs. Served here with steamed broccoli. Grab a knife and fork!

The Potato King

Large baking potato
Kosher salt
Jar of mushrooms
Westsoy Seitan Strips, chopped
Garlic olive oil
Minced garlic
Onion, diced
Simply Organic Mushroom Sauce packet
Simply Organic Vegetarian Brown Gravy packet

Baked potatoes get a bad wrap because they are usually loaded with butter, sour cream and cheese. These toppings not only turn a potentially nutritious food into a saturated fat bomb, but it’s hard to taste the actual potato when covered in fat. Potatoes are sugar. Therefore, I advise balancing out the sugar with fiber. The best way is to eat the skin of the potato. The skin is the best part if you cook to get that restaurant quality outer layer.

Poke the potato with a fork 2 or 3 times. Rub the outside with a little garlic olive oil and kosher salt. Bake the potato at 425F for 1 hour directly on the rack. Do not wrap in foil (unless you want a very soft skin).

Sauté the diced onion in a little olive oil for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Add in chopped seitan strips and mushrooms. Cook until the seitan starts to brown. Toward the end of cooking, add in minced garlic to your liking. 

In a separate stock pot, mix both gravy packets together with water per instructions provided. Whisk out any lumps. Slice open the steaming potato and top with skillet mixture and a ladle or two of prepared gravy. Serve with grilled corn on the cob.

Over Stuffed Squash Cups

Squash of your choice
Firm tofu, cubed
1 can of black beans, rinsed
Daiya mozzarella cheese shreds
Vegan Worcestershire sauce
Olive oil
Dried basil
Salt & pepper
3 T water

Squash is not the most popular vegetable because it can taste bland. Very low calorie and super water rich, squash of all kinds should be a dietary staple. If you’re not a fan, don’t give up on this “vegetable” that is technically a “fruit.”  There are so many varieties and their mild flavor opens the door to creative cooking. Zucchini, acorn, butternut and spaghetti squashes are my favorites. Keep your eye out for mini squashes, like the ones I used here. They cook quickly and their shape forms a perfect bowl. If you prefer, stuff zucchini by slicing length wise and hollowing out some of the flesh to create “zucchini boats.”  These ideas are great for entertaining as a side dish stuffed with other colorful veggies.

You can carve out the squash bowls first and then cook or if you choose a firmer squash, you may want to cook it first so it will be easier to carve out the flesh. I carved these mini yellow squashes out first and turned them upside down in about 3 tablespoons water. I cooked in microwave for about 5-8 minutes until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly and sprinkle insides with a dash of salt and pepper.

In a teaspoon of olive oil, I sautéed the tofu and black beans in a few dashes of Worcestershire. The strong flavor of Worcestershire sauce works well with the blandness of the squash. Stuff the cooked bowls with the protein and fiber and sprinkle liberally with dried basil. These were yummy and fun to eat!

"Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose." Tom Krause


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