Why cheat just because it’s a holiday….

A lot of people use the excuse that it’s a holiday to cheat. Summer holidays are always hard because everyone wants to enjoy BBQ or have a cookout. Becoming vegan has been a little bit of a struggle particularly with the cookout category. I love hotdogs and hamburgers but let’s face it, the vegan options at the grocery store are still terribly processed and bad for you. So how do you enjoy cookout food and still eat healthy food? The answer is taking some chances and venturing to make your own. I made a great Labor Day feast this weekend by taking taking some risks and learning some more great new tricks. I was not disappointed at all by the outcomes. Our menu consisted of Mac salad, baked beans, and hotdogs (or in this case carrot dogs.) An entirely plant based meal and had me thinking I was enjoying all the cookout foods I used to, this time a lot healthier and with no meat or dairy.


Carrot Dogs:

8 large carrots

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbs Liquid smoke

1 Tbs canola oil

8 gluten free hotdog buns

  1. Peel the carrots, cut off ends and cut them to bun length. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the carrots until the are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain them and run them under cool water to stop the cooking.
  2. In an air tight storage container, mix the soy sauce, water, vinegar, garlic powder and liquid smoke. Marinate the carrots in the fridge for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Remove the carrots from the marinade and arrange them in the skillet in a single layer. Add a few spoons of the marinade and cook until they begin to caramelize. Rotate often.
  4. Serve on buns with your favorite toppings.

My toppings were Red Onion Sauce and Pickle Relish

Red Onion Sauce:

1 cup water

1 tsp corn starch

3/4 cup ketchup

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbs brown sugar

1 tsp hot sauce

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs canola oil

2 large onions thinly sliced

1 tsp garlic powder

  1. In a bowl combine the corn starch and water. Whisk until it’s smooth
  2. Add in the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and hot sauce
  3. Mix in the cinnamon, chili powder, salt, pepper. Whisk until smooth
  4. In a large skillet, heat the oi over medium high heat
  5. Add the onions to the skillet. Add the garlic
  6. Cook the onions until softened but not browned, about 8 minutes
  7. Add the sauce to the pan and toss to coat
  8. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the onions are tender, about 25 minutes

Pickle Relish:

1 large cucumber

3/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 cup cane sugar

2 tsp salt

1 green bell pepper

1 small white onion

  1. Trim the ends of the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, seed, and finely chop.
  2. Bring the vinegar to a boil in a saucepan. Add the cucumber and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until it is just starting to lose color and is tender but still crunchy.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the cucumber out of the vinegar and set aside. Add the mustard seeds and coriander seeds to the vinegar and bring back to a boil. Stir in the sugar and salt and reduce heat to simmering.
  4. Finely chop the pepper and onion. Mix with the cooked cucumber. Pour the vinegar over the vegetables and stir to combine.

Vegan Macaroni Salad:

1 pound of your favorite pasta

1/4 cup iced celery

1/4 cup minced onion

2 carrots, shredded and chopped. (I used 1 yellow and 1 purple for color)

Vegan Mayo (recipe to follow)

1 Tbs mustard

1 1/2 tsp cane sugar

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool off.
  2. In a large bowl add pasta, celery, onion, and carrots.
  3. Mix in mayo, sugar, salt and pepper

Vegan Mayo:

1/2 cup soy or almond mild (unsweetened)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground mustard

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp agave

1 cup canola oil

  1. Place milk, sea salt, ground mustard, garlic powder, vinegar, and agave in a food processor. Place lid on and turn to slow.
  2. Take the middle part of the lid out while blending and slowly pour in oil.
  3. Place lid back on and blend until thick and creamy.
  4. Allow to sit over night

Slow cooker baked beans:

1 lb dried beans

1 large onion finely diced

1 cup water

1 6 oz can tomato paste

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

4 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (if you care make sure it is a vegetarian version)

1 1/2 tbsp salt

1 tsp ground mustard

1/4 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

  1. The night before, soak beans with enough water to cover by 2 inches. Soak overnight
  2. In the morning, mix together all ingredients except beans and onion.
  3. In the bottom of your slow cooker layer the diced onion then top with beans.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture over the beans then add up to an additional 3 cups of water until the tops of the beans are just submerged.
  5. Cook the beans on low for 12 hours or on high for 6-8.

That way my meal and I loved it. If your feeling adventurous I suggest trying one or all of these. Enjoy!

-Chef Drew


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