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.
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Happy Year of the Snake! Recipes #3. Fat-free Vegan Chicken Balls

100_4599So here was the challenge: chicken balls as good as the old deep fried ones I used to eat, but- they had to be vegan and fat-free. I planned to use jackfruit as the chicken, so it seemed an easy task- simply find a good batter. And, of course, a way to fry them with no fat- which was where I got stuck. Until I suddenly thought of … Continue reading

What Do Vegans With Colds Eat?

100_4449I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for this last little while100_4366– fighting off some cold symptoms- so I when the weekend finally hit I decided it was time for a nice “chicken” soup and early to bed night. Instead of using tofu or dried soy chicken, I naturally turned to my newest experiment- green jackfruit. It worked very well cut into small chunks, with looks and texture remarkably like chicken in the soup.

But- chicken soup has been shown to actually help colds, and I wanted to do more than just soothe myself psychologically, so it was time for a little research into why chicken soup in particular helps a cold. According to Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD’s research, chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine that is released when the soup is made. This amino acid thins mucus in the lungs, aiding in the healing process. So I checked the nutrition charts where I discovered that 100g of chicken contains 42% of the RDA of methionine and cysteine (both are listed as interchangeable in charts) and jackfruit only contains 3-8% of the RDA. However, I also discovered that good plant sources of Cysteine include lentils (21% for 100g), miso (12%), and onions, peppers, and garlic.

Also, Dr Rennard notes that onions in chicken soup “contain protein, calcium, and especially sulfur, which decreases swelling and aids in reducing nasal congestion. Another significant ingredient in chicken soup is carrots. Carrots enable our bodies to produce vitamin A, which strengthens our white blood cells and in turn allows us to better fight off infection”, and “hot soups in general help keep nasal passages moist, thin out mucus, prevent dehydation, and soothe a sore throat”, so “the more ingredients in your soup, the better”.

With all of this new information, I was ready to make my own vegan version of healing “chicken” soup. Feel free to change up the vegetables based on what you have on hand.

“Vegan Penicillin Soup”

Ingredients:
– One onion.
– Two carrots.
– One green pepper.
– 1/2 red pepper, chopped (what I had in the fridge, I’d add more if I had it but I wasn’t feeling like a grocery trip)
– One stalk of celery
– 1/2 cup of snap peas.
– 1/2 cup of pasta noodles- whatever you have.
– 1 cup/1 can of cooked lentils.
– 1/2 can of jackfruit, chopped (again, this is what I had leftover from the last recipe, so feel free to use the whole can and make a larger batch- adjust amounts of ingredients using your culinary discretion and preferences).
– 6-8 cups of vegetable broth.
– 2-4 tablespoons of miso (adjust type and amount to your taste).
– Lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Directions:
– Chop vegetables and jackfruit.100_4401
– Pre-soften the vegetables in the frying pan for a few minutes.
– Put the vegetable broth in a pot, add the miso and vegetables.
– Add the jackfruit, lentils, and pasta, and simmer for at least 1/2 hour- the longer the better to blend the flavours.
– Enjoy hot with some warm bread or a bit of salad.

I found this to be soothing and satisfying, the babying I needed to start feeling better almost immediately.
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What the Heck is Jackfruit? (A Fruit You Can Use as a Meat!)

100_4392I am committed to a plant-based diet now. I have passed the point of no return, as the thought of eating real meat now makes me feel quite squeamish. That is sometimes a problem, as I grew up in Alberta- definitely meat country- and I loved meat. I really get the bacon-flavoured everything craze. So, I am always on the hunt for new ways to satisfy an old craving. I have already posted about meat substitutes, and this week I finally sourced one that I have been wanting to try for a long time. Believe it or not, it is actually a tropical fruit. When ripe I have read that it is sweet and deliciously addictive. In fact some sources said ripe jackfruit was the inspiration for the flavour of Juicy Fruit gum.

Green jackfruit, however, has very little flavour of its own, and it can be shredded and cut to resemble mild-flavoured meats like chicken, pork, and even tuna. Most vegan recipes 100_4366using jackfruit call for jackfruit packed in brine. The fruit I found, however, was packed in water. Better for heart-health anyway, but I suspect I will need to experiment a bit more with seasonings to find the perfect fit. In the meantime, expect quite a few jackfruit recipes as I try out ways to use it. If you are looking for green jackfruit yourself (and it does not grow where you live), try stores that carry Asian or Indian foods.

It cost about $1.50 (Cdn) per can and the nutritional info per 280g (a little over 1 cup) is:
Calories 60                                       Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 g                                 Sodium 1260 mg
Carbohydrate 14g                             Fibre 6g
Protein 2g                                         Sugar 0g
Calcium 4% RDA                             Iron 12% RDA

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I wanted to make a quick lunch with no cooking, so the first thing I did with the jackfruit was to use it in a mock tuna salad. It really does not require a recipe- you can just use your regular tuna salad recipe and substitute the jackfruit for the meat, but I will outline the steps I took and give a few hints about modifications you might want to try. It would work exactly the same if you wanted to make it as a chicken salad- you would just change the seasonings that you use.

Jackfruit Salad Sandwiches

Ingredients:
– Canned jackfruit100_4353
– Mayonnaise or vegan substitute
– Veggies. I used green onion, celery, mini tomatoes in the salad, and lettuce and cucumber in the sandwich. Shredded radish, carrots, peas, even green apple would be good too. If you were to make a curried “chicken” salad, you might add green grapes.
– Chick peas or mild-flavoured beans (I used them whole. To make the salad stick together more, you could mash them before adding. They add protein and body)
– Pickles (I like pickles in my tuna salad, and the vinegar also helps to add some flavour to the jackfruit. You could also try pre-soaking the jackfruit in a teaspoon or so of vinegar and leaving out the pickle if you don’t like it in the salad).
– Pepper, spices, and extras as desired (sometimes I like chicken salad with cumin, other times I like it with a bit of chili powder. Experiment. This time I just added pepper for flavour and some hemp hearts for texture and extra omegas. Flax seed would be good for that too).
– Bread, pita pockets or lettuce for holding and delivering the salad to your eager mouth.

Directions:
– Shred the jackfruit with two forks to 100_4376give it the look of tuna or shredded chicken (It shreds naturally into strings). Soak in vinegar if desired (this would make it more tuna-like. When I made it plain it was more like chicken)
– Chop up veggies, pickles and extras to add to salad, and slice the ones for in the sandwich.
– Mix jackfruit, chopped veggies and extras, and add a Tablespoon or two 100_4390of mayo (to taste). Add pepper and spices (to taste) and stir.
– Pile it all up in your bread and add lettuce and other sliced veggies (you could use sprouts, too).
– Serve with a pickle slice. This was as good as tuna salad any day, and I imagine (like real tuna salad) it would get even better if you let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two so flavours can mix.

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