Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Experiment #1: "Chorizo" tofu and potato breakfast burritos.

Brinner is my favorite meal. For those of you who've never watched Scrubs, brinner is the delicious portmanteau of breakfast and dinner. We usually have a brinner night at my house once a week, and living in New Mexico, that often means breakfast burritos.

The standard breakfast burrito is as follows:
- The largest flour tortilla you can find (there are restaurants that use 14" tortillas but I usually stick with 10" at home)
- 2 eggs, scrambled
- Potatoes - pan-fried if you want to be authentic, hashbrowns or tater tots from the freezer if you're lazy.
- A fatty meat: bacon, sausage, carne adovada (slow roasted pork in red chile), or (my personal favorite) Mexican chorizo (a sausage made from pork fat and..uh..parts...in an addictive spice mixture).
- a mountain of shredded cheddar cheese.
- green or red chile

They're delicious, they're about 900 calories a piece, and they leave me in a bloated, indigestion-ridden food coma. I knew I had to create a breakfast burrito that was just as satisfying without the side effects. Here's the result:

"Chorizo" tofu and potato breakfast burritos - serves 4

  • canola oil for cooking
  • 1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 16 oz block tofu, drained (no need to press)
  • 1 tsp salt, separated
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, separated
  • 1 tbsp red chile powder (available outside NM at http://www.madeinnewmexico.com/southwest-foods.html) - if you don't like spicy food, use less but don't leave it out! You need the flavor!
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tps onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp liquid smoke
  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • Red or green chile - I used 505 Southwestern green chile sauce (not available online yet but their website says coming soon!). I can't recommend a red sauce yet because my old favorite, Munroe's, uses butter in it. 
In a skillet, heat 1/4" of oil for frying. Fry the diced potatoes on medium-high heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half of each of the salt and pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Let the potatoes cook while you prepare the tofu.

In another skillet (I prefer cast-iron for this), heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add the tofu, spices, mustard, tomato paste, and liquid smoke. Use a spatula to break the tofu into crumbles and distribute the spice mix evenly. Cook until most of the water is cooked out of the tofu (a scrambled-egg consistency), about 5 minutes. 

Check the potatoes for tenderness, and cook longer if necessary. When they're done, assemble your burritos! Warm the tortillas and fill them with the potatoes, tofu mix, and chile. You can add "cheeze" at this point if you like, but I haven't had great experiences with it. Fold, eat, and enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hello, Blogosphere!

Hi folks!
I'm Sam, and these are my adventures in adopting a healthier, more humane lifestyle. My carnivorous-but-understanding husband B, I live in Albuquerque, NM. ABQ's not the easiest place to be a vegan--New Mexican cuisine is both meat- and cheese- centric and deliciously addictive--but the availability of grocery and dining options is improving. Through this blog, I'll be sharing tips, recipes, and resources for creating healthy, affordable, and delicious cruelty-free food.

Why Vegan?
The transition from omnivore to vegan isn't an easy one (and isn't complete for me yet--for now I'm still eating meat and dairy occasionally), but it's one that is greatly improving my quality of life. I've struggled with an inflammatory digestive condition for the past seven years, and not until I cut animal products from my diet and did my symptoms dramatically improve. My energy is up (probably because I'm absorbing nutrients a lot better now), my sleep has improved, and my ability to focus has improved. Now, I'm neither a doctor nor a nutritionist (in fact, I'm a grad student in math education), so my experiences shouldn't be treated like medical advice. However, as an educator, I understand that it is my responsibility to publish information based on sound scientific research and not on fad. If something I post doesn't seem right or if you have any questions in general, please feel free to contact me!

I also felt like a hypocrite for much of my meat-eating years. I've always been disgusted by many meat and dairy farming practices as well as industrial animal testing. Feeling disgusted by disgusting things is great, but without actions against them, disgusting acts continue to be validated. I'm ready to take action. I finally have the knowledge, confidence, and resources to educate others about how to improve their own lives as well as the lives of the creatures with whom they share this world.

How Vegan?
Remember my carnivorous-but-understanding husband? I was worried that his distaste for many vegetables and resistance to trying new foods would create conflict. Fortunately, I'm having fun finding new ways to prepare old favorites and making dishes that convert from vegan to omni. B's being an enthusiastic taste tester (he even tried my crispy orange tofu stir-fry!) and helping me discover and create new recipes.

Additionally, several vegetarian/vegan friends have turned me on to great local and online resources. I'll be highlighting many of them in my posts, but here are a few favorites to get started:

Local Favorites:

  • Sprouts Farmer's Market (http://www.sprouts.com/) - fantastic produce prices compared to other stores in my area, and an excellent selection of vegan products.
  • Thai Vegan (http://www.thaivegannm.com/) - while I love to cook, I still have a favorite take-out spot! One location is a few minutes from my house, and the other is a few minutes from my work. Both are amazing! I highly recommend the spicy eggplant with tofu.
Online Favorites:
  • Olives for Dinner (http://www.olivesfordinner.com/) - Delicious recipes with even more delicious photography!
  • Post Punk Kitchen (http://www.theppk.com/) - A go-to source for all things vegan, with a healthy dose of Jewish humor. I can't wait to try her matzoh ball soup next Passover (or heck, next week. I love soup!)