As one who grew up in the midwest, I have great difficulty imagining a life without dairy. I have attempted to go vegan (a very ill-advised venture for me at the time), cooked for vegans and generally embrace the idea and practice behind it. I just can’t do it indefinitely.
My dear friend Anna, also a fellow midwesterner, is a new mommy and has to go through a few weeks of dairy-free living. Anna is quite a lady. She is a super author & blogger, super doctoral candidate, super mom, super university lecturer, super wife, and now has to be super dairy free on top of it all (did I mention she’s also super gorgeous?!). She recently asked me for some advice on how to cut out the dairy without feeling completely deprived.
Today we will be covering products and ideas (with a recipe to boot!) on how to still feel satisfied without the milk and cheese. Hope you’re excited. Things are about to get awesome.
On the matter of milk, I am not a big milk drinker to begin with, but I have found that unsweetened almond milk is good to drink straight. I have also had rice milk, which is a bit sweeter, but is good for coffee or those super-healthy grown-up cereals (I’m lookin’ at you, Kashi). For recipes that call for milk, I’m rather fond of using coconut milk. It adds a certain creaminess that I have yet to see with other non-dairy varieties.
There are lots of options out there for milk replacers, it’s the cheese that gets a little tricky. Soy cheese tastes like it’s some sort of proceed food product dressed up as cheese for a masquerade ball. I just can’t get behind imitations. They always make me want the real thing even more. Luckily, there is a suitable replacement for cheese that is not just a mimic…
… when le fromage is not an option, my first go-to replacement is the noble avocado. It is creamy, contains natural fats, can be slice-able or spread-able like many a cheese. In fact, one of its nicknames is “butter pear”–as it is actually a fruit, a member of the berry family.
Today, I stopped by the grocery store after my workout for a few items to make a delicious brunch for Cam and I. After seeing some gorgeous avocados on sale, it dawned on me that a great, filling recipe for Anna would be my vegan breakfast sandwiches!
This is a fantastic prep-ahead recipe that can be made for breakfast or lunch, or even for a quick dinner. It is also easily adaptable, so you can use whatever you have on hand if the core ingredients are already in the fridge.
Here is what you will need:
Serves 2 or one REALLY HUNGRY 1
- A small block (4 oz) of prepared tofu (preferably baked)
- 2 thin bagels or whole wheat English muffins
- 1 avocado –ripe, but still slice-able
- Earth Balance or non-dairy, butter-like spread
- Sandwich veggies (red peppers and sprouts are pictured here, but caramelized onions, pea shoots, leafy greens or tomatoes would all be good choices as well)
Because the ingredients are either pre-cooked or will be eaten raw, there is not a lot of actual cooking that takes place here. The first step is to prepare a pan on the stovetop–I use a nonstick grilling pan (from IKEA where the product name is seriously “grila” which I imagine sounds like “grillah!”) but a few drops of olive oil in a saute pan works just as well.
Then, cut the tofu lengthwise in half and place in the pan like so:
Turn the heat up to medium and cook for a few minutes on either side, until the outside is toasty and it has been warmed all the way through. If you are feeling so inclined, toss in onions or peppers with the tofu so they are a little soft and warm as well.
While the tofu is on the stove, cut up the avocado. I usually cut mine in half, remove the seed, then score the fruit while it is still in the skin and then scoop out with a spoon. This is far easier than attempting to get the whole piece out at once and then slicing it.
At the same time, slice and toast the English muffin or thin bagels. Once they come out, lightly spread Earth Balance on either side and top with the avocado on one side. Place tofu and warm veggies on top of the avocado, place the raw veggies on the other half of the sandwich and then put it all together in veggie bliss. The finished product will look a little something like this:
Today, I used whole wheat thin bagels from Thomas but I usually use whole wheat english muffins. The thin bagels are about 110 calories each (which is at least 150 calories less than a regular bagel), the tofu was about 75 calories per sandwich, I used about 50 calories worth of earth balance and the avocado was about 125 calories. It’s a hearty sandwich that fills you up. Pair it with a small piece of fruit and you’re set for hours.
In the coming days, I will be posting a few more dairy free, vegan delights!