Grilled Tofu with Creamed Spinach and Sweet Potato Cakes

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You can still get some use out of your grill if you’re vegetarian. In fact, the grill is an awesome way of adding some depth of flavour and smokiness to your vegetables and meat substitutes. In this recipe, I’m using smoked tofu because I think that it lends an extra hand with flavour. Tofu tastes like anything you put near it. It’s like a sponge. But at least by using smoked tofu, your flavour sponge will already be less bland! My serving size made an obscene amount of potato cakes so please adjust the recipe to how many you want. My measurements made about 30.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 7-8 cups of spinach
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of ricotta or parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • smoked tofu
  • 1 tablespoon Barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of rosemary or sage
  • 1 tablespoon of your favourite steak spice

Prep

First, peel and wash 4 large sweet potatoes. Cut into chunks that will cook quickly and place in a bowl. Next, finely chop your onion and garlic and place in a separate bowl. For the tofu, we’re going to marinate it so that it has time to suck up all the flavour. Mix together your barbecue sauce, maple syrup and soy sauce. Coat both sides of the tofu with your favourite steak spice (I used Montreal steak spice). Next, place each piece of tofu into the marinade and coat evenly. Place in the fridge until needed.

Sweet Potato Cakes

For the sweet potato cakes, you have to boil your sweet potatoes first. Cook them until they are super tender and slightly falling apart. Drain the sweet potatoes and place them back in the pot. Mash with your ricotta or parmesan cheese. This helps lighten the batter. Sweet potatoes are very dense, so the cheese helps make it fluffier. You can also use regular potatoes for this recipe, but sweet potatoes have so many amazing health benefits that I would definitely recommend using them. Gradually add your flour until it forms a loose dough. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I used rosemary in this as well, but sage would be just as tasty.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Use a spoon to create little cake type of form on the paper. Once your form all your cakes, place them under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes of until the top of them are brown and crusty, then flip them and broil again on the other side. Both sides of the cakes should be crisp and browned but the inside will remain fluffy. You can also preheat your oven to 425 if you prefer that over the broiler.

Creamed Spinach

Creamed Spinach is a traditional barbecue side dish. I wanted to lighten it up. First, I softened my onions and my garlic in a bit of water. You can use oil for this but I prefer to keep this whole meal as oil free as I can. Once the onions and garlic are fragrant and softened, add your milk and cream cheese to the pan. With a whisk, work the cream cheese and milk together until there are no lumps and the cream cheese is melted. Then, add your spinach to the sauce. Let the spinach wilt down all the way, then turn your heat on medium low and let it simmer and reduce for about 15 minutes. Spinach contains a lot of water which will water down your sauce. Reducing the sauce for about 15 minutes will evaporate the excess water in the sauce.

Smoked Tofu and Glaze

The last step is to grill your tofu. Tofu just needs to be cooked so that its warmed all the way through. I like a char on the top as well, so throw it on your grill and cook the tofu for about 1o minutes of until its warmed through the inside and the top is nice and crusty like a steak would be. Watch your tofu carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Because the marinade had maple syrup in it, the sugar may cause caramelization.

The sauce that it was marinating in makes a great glaze! Pour it into a pan with 1/2 a tablespoon of ketchup and let it come up to a simmer. The ketchup will balance out the sweetness from the maple syrup. Taste for salt and pepper. Once it’s come up to a simmer, take off the heat.

 

I hope that this recipe shows you that you can still have a classic barbecue without the meat! For all the vegetarians out there, you don’t have to stay away from the grill because you don’t eat steak or burgers. The tofu steaks are meaty and a great source of protein. Plus, the smokiness from the smoked tofu and the grill replicate all the flavours you love in a good barbecue.

Oil Free, Vegan Potato and Leek Soup

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This hearty, leek and potato soup is dairy free, oil-free and still delicious! You won’t miss the cream, I promise. This soup is so satisfying and filling, but also guilt free. I made some substitutions to make this soup extra healthy, which I will explain below! My measurements served about 10 large bowls of soup and comes together super quick! This recipe is Vegan but feel free to add anything you want to this! Use this as inspiration and create something that you feel good eating. If that means adding some dairy or some olive oil, you go for it.

Ingredients

  • 6 Leeks
  • 1 large onion
  • 6-7 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large sticks of carrot
  • Half a head of Cauliflower
  • 1 large potato (or 2 small ones)
  • 6-8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste

The prep for this soup is very simple and pretty much the same as the prep for every soup. Starting with your vegetables, cut up your onion, carrot, and leeks into a fine chop. We’re going to blend the soup at the end so it really doesn’t matter if the cutting isn’t perfect. 6 Leeks may seem like a lot but if you’re making Leek and Potato soup, you want that sweetness of the leeks to come through. Place all your cut up onion, carrot and leeks into a bowl and grab your garlic.

Garlic has so many health benefits. If you haven’t noticed, most of my recipes include a hefty amount of garlic. Garlic is not only detoxifying and great for the inside of your body but its also great for your skin, and for healing scars and blemishes. So, don’t skip on the garlic! Slice your garlic thinly and place in another bowl. We’re going to cook the garlic after the vegetables so don’t mix them.

The last step of prep is the cauliflower and the potatoes. Dice your potatoes into one inch cubes and just roughly cut up your cauliflower. Place that into a separate bowl as well. These are going to be added in after the liquid has been simmering so we don’t want to add this right away. This is what is going to make the soup creamy and thick without the dairy.

To start the soup, Place a large pot with high sides on medium-high heat. Add your carrots, leeks and onion to it and add your 2 cups of water. The water is going to help the vegetables break down and soften. Also, the water will take on the flavours of the vegetables, creating its own quick little stock. You don’t need oil when you’re cooking down vegetables for a soup! The vegetables will infuse the broth with flavour when you’re simmering it, so no need for the extra fat. Once your onions are translucent and your carrots are beginning to become tender, add in your garlic. Garlic only takes about a minute to cook, so stir it around for about 60 seconds then add in your stock. You can use as much vegetable stock as you need. I used about 7 cups for my soup, but if you use 6, your soup will be a thicker. If you use 8, your soup will be thinner. Adjust the broth level depending on what consistency you want your soup to have.

Simmer this on medium-high heat for about 25 minutes to let the flavours get to know each other. Once its been simmering for that long, toss in your potatoes and your cauliflower. I chose to do half potato and half cauliflower because I wanted this soup to be a little lighter and also a little healthier. Adding cauliflower still makes it creamy, but adds a bit more vegetable to this soup. You can add all potatoes if you wish, but I found the cauliflower really did the trick and also made this soup even more guilt free than it already was, which i’m all for!

Cook the soup until the potatoes and cauliflower are breaking down and almost falling apart.

The last step is to blend the soup smooth. This soup, even though lacks the creaminess in colour, makes up for it in the texture. It is both smooth and creamy.

Once your soup is blended, taste for salt and pepper and season to your taste. I find this soup is best with a good helping of black pepper, but if you’re not into that, by all means, put less!

To finish it off, I added some sliced chili on mine because I love the heat, and some scallions for freshness!

It’s great to indulge in food once in a while, but if you can avoid using oils in your food, you should. Oils can be a bad fat if used too sparingly. If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, the first thing to cut down on should be your oil intake. It makes a big difference. Also, whenever you’re making creamy soups, I suggest using the trick of half potatoes and half cauliflower. It keeps the creaminess but is just a tad better for you than using all starchy potato.

I hope you all enjoy this hearty soup, even though it’s not needed in this hot weather!