Happy Year of the Snake! Recipes #4. Fat-Free Vegan Chicken “Firecracker” Spicy Rolls

100_4880Here is where the fat-free vegan Chinese theme and my experiments with green jackfruit intersect. Really, I wanted to see what would happen if I baked eggroll wrappers with no fat. I discovered that they are delicious and crispy, and the resulting rolls make excellent appies or lunchbox nibbles.
Continue reading

Three Magic Vegan Foods- Part 3 (Cauliflower)

Time for my second magic food- cauliflower. Disappointed that I would call such a common food magic? Don’t be- I’ve got a long, full post today. This bland white food is suddenly being discovered by calorie-counters because of its magical transformational properties. From cauliflower, you can make rice, popcorn, potatoes, pizza, and even chicken. It is the Isaiah Mustafa of the vegetable world (maybe it should be called chameleonflower).

Easy, peasy cauliflower recipes are made one of two ways, depending on the texture you are going for: either chop up the cauliflower to the size you want and then cook it, or cook it and then chop it/blend it up. There you are- that’s the secret in a nutshell. Now the recipes:

Cauliflower Rice– Put raw cauliflower in a blender and chop it up until it is about the size of rice grains. Microwave it for about 5 minutes (just the cauliflower- don’t add water or oil while microwaving), fluff with a fork and add any seasonings you would add to rice. Alternatively, you can fry the cauliflower with a bit of oil (and perhaps chopped onion and carrot, maybe some garlic, celery, etc). And there you are- low-carb rice.

Cauliflower Popcorn– This is the name many recipes give to roasted caramelized cauliflower. Break the cauliflower up into florets (popcorn sized or larger). Put it on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir and season any way you would season popcorn. Cook at a high temperature (425 degrees at least), and shake or stir once or twice to brown evenly. The browner the cauliflower gets, the more caramelization is happening, and you will get a delicious sweet-salty result that is quite addictive.

Mashed Cauliflower– Many calorie-counters have caught on to a new way to take care of their mashed potato comfort food cravings. Simply steam or boil a head of cauliflower, then blend it until it is the consistency of mashed potatoes. You can experiment with seaonings. I’ve seen non-vegan recipes that add butter and sour cream (sort of defeats the low-calorie quest if you ask me), but you can also add roasted garlic, silken tofu (the previous magic food!), soymilk, chives, broth, and even gravy.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust– Begin with a cup or more of your cooked cauliflower rice, then mix in:
1 egg worth of egg substitute (more about this to come- soon- hint, hint). Or, for you non-vegans, 1 henfruit.
Garlic to taste
Onion salt
Oregano
3/4 cup almond or cashew flour or paste.
Combine all ingredients well and shape into a crust on a lightly oiled cookie sheet.
Cook for 15 minutes at 450 degrees
When done add sauce and toppings
Broil for around 5 minutes to cook toppings

And finally, Screamin’ Hot Buffalo Florets (well, buffalo sure don’t have wings, and Ferdinand liked flowers, so this fits better anyway).
For these, I started with the recipe off the Peta site (http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/spicy-buffalo-cauliflower-wings.aspx), so I will give that recipe first. But of course I can never leave well enough alone, so below that I will tell you the changes I made.

Original Version:
1 cup water or soy milk
1 cup flour (any kind will work—even gluten-free!)
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces
1 cup buffalo or hot sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil or melted vegan margarine

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Combine the water or soy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo sauce and olive oil or margarine in a small bowl.
  • Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.

OK- My Version (changes to the original recipe):

First, I added a little more garlic powder to the flour, as well as other spices (a dash or two of cumin, hot mix, & Mrs. Dash extra spicy). I also added 1/4 cup of ground flax seed, a few tablespoons of engevita yeast, and 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds (pulsed in my grinder to slightly break them up). I find that just flour and soymilk makes the batter a bit gluey and these add texture. I’m also a bit of a chili-head, so I like the extra spice.

Batter the cauliflower florets and put them on a greased baking dish, or use a silpat mat.

I haven’t tried this yet, but one of these times I may sprinkle them with Panko bread crumbs for more crunch.

The original recipe says to put the wing sauce on and return them to the oven. I tend to use a lot of the hot sauce, so adding it to the entire batch can make them soggy. Instead, I just brown them as they are and wait to add sauce as we eat them. I also do not use nearly as much margarine in the hot sauce as the original recipe calls for, and nobody has noticed yet.

And there they are- YUM! Of course they would not fool anyone, but they do have a similar mouth-feel to chicken wings, and you save about a cajillion fat calories (and many chickens) by eating these ones. You don’t have to cut up slippery chicken and worry about salmonella, either. What are wings, anyway, but a vehicle for getting the hot sauce into you?

So, that’s the last magical trick for today. I rarely make these the same way twice- try your own variations, too. I can imagine they’d be good with pineapple sweet and sour sauce, or BBQ sauce, too.

But after all this there is always the question- other than the (obvious) chicken wing recipe, why would you want to use cauliflower as a substitute for all these things? Well, how about this? Cauliflower is a superfood like its more colorful cruciferous cousins, broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale. It is low in fat, low in carbohydrates, high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C. It also contains several phytochemicals, like indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane which have been shown to protect against cancer. Pretty magical.