Daily Vegan Lunch for 31 December, 2013: Eggplant Parmesan

It’s the last Daily Vegan Lunch!  No. 365!!

vegan eggplant parmesan IMG_3932
This recipe uses a modified version of tofu parmesan from Jo Stephaniak’s Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, which I highly recommend.

“Normal” eggplant parmagiana at Olive Garden is 850 calories per serving, which is fairly staggering. It gets worse because there are 35 grams of fat in that serving, the majority of which are coming from carcinogenic cheese!  Now we see the reason vegans are an average of 40 pounds lighter than everyone else.

This recipe only gets fat from tahini (sesame seed butter) and from greasing the pan for the crunchy eggplant cutlets, which you don’t technically need to do.


1 medium sized eggplant, cut into slices

1 tablespoon egg replacer plus 1/4 cup water OR 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal and 1/2 cup of water.  If using flaxseed meal, blend it in the food processor for a smoother consistency.

1.5 cups breadcrumbs or panko
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt to taste


1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1 cup firm tofu
2 tablespoons tahini or cashew butter
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste


Mix the egg replacer or flaxseed meal with water, set aside in a small bowl.

Mix the breadcrumbs, parsley, herbs, and salt and spread the mixture on a plate.

Cut the eggplant into 3/4 inch slices and coat first in egg-replacer or flaxseed wash, then coat with breadcrumbs as thickly as possible.

Lay the cutlets on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the parmesan sauce.  Combine onions, arrowroot, tofu, tahini, nutritional yeast, water, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until liquified and completely smooth.

Transfer the liquid to a small pan and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, 3 – 5 minutes.

Take the eggplant cutlets out of the oven, flip them over, and spoon thickened parmesan on them.  Put them back into the oven for about 10 more minutes.

Serve with cooked spaghetti and marinara sauce.

My husband said he really liked these.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 23 November, 2013: Broccoli and Cheez Potato

vegan broccoli cheez potato IMG_3711

Per potato

1 potato of any kind, washed
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped small
1 cup cashew cheez


Make the cheez sauce in the blender from this recipe, which refrigerates well and can be used on everything from nachos to cheez fries to mac and cheez.

Pierce potato with fork several times and microwave it on high for approximately 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  How long you microwave depends on the size of the potato and the type.  I find red potatoes like the one here cook the slowest whereas golden potatoes cook fast no matter what their size.  Russets are also on the slow side.  Alternately, pierce the potato and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes.

Combine the onion and broccoli florets in a small bowl and a tablespoon of water.  Microwave 30 seconds.  Alternately, cook the broccoli and onion on the stovetop in a small pan with a tablespoon of water on medium-high heat until water boils off and broccoli is bright green, about 3 minutes. Strain off any remaining water.

Let the potato cool and split it down the middle.  Mix in the room temperature cheez sauce and broccoli onion mixture into the potato as you mash it; salt to taste.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 20 November, 2013: Grilled Pepper, Spinach, and Cashew Cheez Sandwich

grilled pepper and spinach cheez sandwich IMG_3705

Per sandwich

2 slices bread (I used sourdough)
1.5 cups roasted red bell pepper (I used Italian ones from a can) or fresh tomato slices
2 cups fresh spinach leaves

3/4 cup cashew cheez

Oil for frying


3/4 cups cashew pieces
1/4 cup raw onion
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 a lemon’s juice
1 cup oats
2 cups water
1 roasted red bell pepper (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons miso


Combine cheez ingredients in a high speed blender OR if you don’t have a high speed blender, use cashew butter instead of cashew pieces and pre-cook oats in water in microwave for 2 minutes, then combine and blend in normal blender.

This makes enough cheez for 4 servings.

Put spinach in a bowl and microwave 30 seconds.  Alternately, wilt it in a small pan on medium heat with a teaspoon of water for 3 minutes.

Spread both slices of sandwich bread with about 1/4 cup or so of cheez.  Add slices of bell pepper and wilted spinach.

Oil a griddle on medium heat and fry the sandwich for about 2 minutes on one side or until golden brown and toasty.  Then flip and fry for 1 more minute.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 7 November, 2013: Taco Casserole

I made this for my How Do We Get A Vegan Restaurant in Naperville informal potluck. It was a big hit.

vegan taco casserole



1 bag of corn chips (I also used some regular corn tortillas briefly fried in oil)
1 large tomato, chopped or 1.5 cups
1.5 cups black olives, sliced
1.5 cups onion

Bean stew

Cashew-oat nacho cheez


About 2 cups black, kidney, pinto, or chili beans from a can, not drained
1.5 cups vegetable broth or V8
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons taco seasoning


3/4 cups cashew pieces
1/4 cup raw onion
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 a lemon’s juice
1 cup oats
2 cups water
1 roasted red bell pepper
2 teaspoons taco seasoning


Prepare the nacho cheez: combine all nacho cheez ingredients in a high speed blender OR if you don’t have a high speed blender, use cashew butter instead of cashew pieces and pre-cook oats in water in microwave for 2 minutes, then combine and blend in normal blender.

For the bean stew, combine beans and onions in a small pan with taco seasoning. Fry until onions are translucent and taco seasoning is fragrant. Mix broth with 1/4 cup flour. Pour over bean mixture and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Grease a casserole dish or dishes by wiping with olive oil. Layer chips, nacho cheese, bean stew, onions, olives, and tomatoes in one large casserole dish or two small ones, I used my big 13 x 9 casserole. How many layers depends on how thin you spread each one. I ended up with 3 layers of chips, 2 layers of beans, and 2 layers of nacho cheez. It’s not an exact science.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Pour 1.5 cups of veggie broth or V8 into the casserole and bake for 20 more minutes.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 7 October, 2013: Tempeh Bacon and Cream Cheese Sandwich

vegan tempeh bacon cream cheese sandwich


1 package of tempeh, sliced thinly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
5 drops liquid smoke

Oil for frying


Mix soy sauce, maple syrup, and liquid smoke in a bowl. Soak each piece of tempeh in the liquid for a few seconds and turn over, soaking for a few more seconds. Fry the tempeh bacon slices in a little oil on medium heat. Turn over after they brown, about 2 minutes each side.

I used homemade vegan cream cheese made of cashews and almond yogurt to assemble this sandwich with a little chopped onion. There are also good store brands of vegan cream cheese like Tofutti’s one.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 22 September, 2013: Loaded Baked Potato Skins

vegan baked potato skins


6 medium-sized Yukon Gold or russet potatoes (russets require longer cooking time)
1 recipe Best Ever Cheez
1.5 cups chopped green onion or chives
Liberal sprinkles of vegan baco-bits


Wash and prick potatoes with a fork several times (to avoid exploding potatoes) and bake potatoes for 30 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees. Alternately, prick the potatoes and microwave them for 3 – 5 minutes per potato depending on the potato’s size.

Allow the potatoes to cool and make the cheez sauce.

Once potatoes are cool, cut them in half and carefully scoop out the insides of the potato, leaving about 3/4 inch of potato and the skin. Save the inside potato mash for later use. I put mine in soup. Broil the potato skins at 400 degrees for 5 minutes on each side, scooped hollow side and normal skin side.

Fill each potato with a heaping tablespoon or so of cheez sauce. Sprinkle with chives or green onion and baco-bits.

Daily Vegan Lunch for September 9, 2013: Caprese Salad

vegan caprese salad


6 cups kale (I used baby kale) massaged or fresh spinach leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup olives, pitted and sliced

2 cups basil leaves

6 blobs buffalo mozzarella, chopped roughly


1/2 cup balsamic vinegar plus 2 tablespoons olive oil or

2/3 cup prepared balsamic vinaigrette

Salt and pepper


Chop basil leaves.  Massage and shred kale and toss to mix thoroughly with basil.  Mix with chopped tomatoes and olives, then gently add buffalo mozzarella balls and sprinkle with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper before serving.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 8 September, 2013: Portabella Mushroom Burger

portabella burger with chipotle mayonnaise IMG_3390


1 bun (I used a bagel)
1 portabella mushroom, washed and stem cut off
1 teaspoon oil

Sliced tomato
Sliced onion
1 tablespoon chipotle sauce from can of chipotles plus 1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise

Slices of buffalo mozzarella, optional


Cook mushroom by frying it in one teaspoon oil on medium heat for about 3 – 5 minutes. Flip and fry for a minute more: mushroom will shrink and give off a little juice.

Mix chipotle mayo (mayo plus chipotle can sauce) in a small bowl. Assemble burger with bun, mushroom, chipotle mayonnaise, tomato, and onion. If I made this again I might grill the onion.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 7 September, 2013: Vegan Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese Salad

What to do with so many end of summer tomatoes?  I made Miyoko Schinner’s brilliant buffalo mozzarella out of cashews!  You CANNOT tell the difference between it and real cheese.



1 cup plain (unsweetened) almond yogurt or other plant-based yogurt such as coconut or soy
1 cup cashews, soaked for 8 hours and drained

1 cup water, divided

1.5 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons tapioca powder

1 tablespoon agar powder


Bowl of ice water


Handful of fresh basil leaves
1 ripe tomato per serving
4 – 5 blobs of cheese

1 teaspoon olive oil plus 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar per serving
Salt and pepper


Make the cheese base by combining soaked cashews, yogurt, and 1/2 cup water in a blender until very, very smooth and creamy.  If 1/2 cup isn’t enough water to get the cashews to blend, add water by 2 Tablespoonfuls at a time until it blends.  Scrape down the sides of the blender frequently during  the process.  Alternately, use cashew butter in the place of soaked cashews.

Scoop into a bowl and allow the mixture to ferment from anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.  It will thicken into cream cheese and you can stop right there if cream cheese is what you wanted.   Stir tapioca flour into the cashew mixture.

I did this: made a big double batch of 2 cups worth of cashews and yogurt, then fermented half for cream cheese (no tapioca flour) and half for buffalo mozzarella.  My blender blends large amounts better than it does small ones so this was a winning strategy.

In a small pot, heat reserved 1/2 cup of water and agar, bringing to a boil.  Once it boils, turn the heat to medium-high and simmer the agar water for 3 – 4 minutes.   Add the tapioca floured cream cheese.  Whisk in and stir continuously until the mixture thickens dramatically and takes on a glossy, stretchy texture.  When it seems as thick as it is going to get,  scoop out the mixture with an ice cream scoop into the ice water.

Allow the cheese balls to set up for about 20 minutes.


Assemble cheese balls, basil, and chopped fresh tomatoes on a plate, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Daily Vegan Lunch for 5 September, 2013: Smoky Cream Cheese, Avocado, & Cucumber Sandwich

vegan smoky cream cheese and cucumber sandwich
This cream cheese is so realistic, if I had not made it myself, I would swear it was made with cow’s milk.  I learned the secret from Miyoko Schinner and her Artisan Vegan Life recipes and Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook.  Just blending soaked cashews with a little water, lemon juice, and salt makes a very convincing cream cheese to begin with, however, if you add Miyoko’s stroke of genius a.k.a. almond milk yogurt and allow the cream cheese to culture/ferment over the course of a day, the results are a dead ringer for dairy cream cheese.

This is a godsend for the lactose intolerant as well as vegans.  I recently wrote Panera Bread about carrying more vegan options — imagine if Panera provided vegan cream cheese!

Which begs the question, why does anyone ever need to torture a cow and take away her babies for cream cheese when you can just make an exact replica cholesterol-free out of cashews and vegan yogurt?

cow and calf

1 cup cashews soaked in water 9 – 24 hours
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 drops liquid smoke
1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy yogurt, plain flavor
1/4 cup water
Salt, to taste

1 green onion, minced


1-2 tablespoons vegan smoky onion cream cheese
2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 a small avocado, sliced thinly or smashed
4 slices of cucumber, peeled and seeded


Soak cashews and drain.  I have noticed that with my Vitamix blender, it is far easier to blend cashews in large batches of 2 cups or more.   A good strategy is to make this cream cheese in bulk by doubling the recipe and then freezing the excess.  I used the cream cheese without onions as a base for Mozzarella Basil Caprese Salad from Artisan Vegan Life.

Combine cashews, lemon juice, liquid smoke, water,salt, and yogurt in a blender and blend until very, very smooth.  Alternately, save the blending altogether by replacing the cashews with cashew butter.  Blending soaked cashews into a smooth paste will take longer in a non-high speed blender, however, it can be done.  No matter what kind of blender you have, the sides will have to be repeatedly scraped down.  I use a rubber spatula.    Add water by the tablespoon to get the consistency you want, keeping in mind it will thicken dramatically once it sits out for a day.  Add the minced green onions to the blender and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated.

Transfer the cream cheese to a container and allow it to sit on the counter for anywhere from 12 – 36 hours.  The yogurt will help the mixture to ferment/culture.  The mixture will thicken as it sits.  The longer you leave it to sit, the more tangy your cream cheese will be.

Chill the cream cheese.  Toast the bread and assemble the sandwich!