Happy New Year!
One of my goals this year is to re-think my cooking and eating so that I am eating 80% vegan. I’ve tried many times to eat 100% vegan and find that it is not sustainable because I am just craving too many delicious ingredients that I love.
Take last night, for instance.
Although I normally throw a huge party on New Year’s Day (see past posts on my annual New Year’s Day Good Luck Dinner), my hip resurfacing surgery on December 23rd meant that this year would be a quieter celebration.
So, I scaled back my recipe for 60-80 to meet the needs of our little family of three.
In the process, I tried out a new product (which may be a keeper in my Hoppin’ John). I used Artisan Tofurky Andouille Sausage. I liked their spicy, smokey favor and thought that they had a good texture and consistency. We cut them into slices to distribute their meaty flavor throughout my vegan Hoppin’John. I love the fact that each sausage has 29 grams of plant-based protein, no cholesterol, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of carbohydrates, and 12 grams of total fat. The sausage is principally made from vital wheat gluten, organic tofu, non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil, wheat flour, wheat berries, poblano peppers, soy sauce, garlic, and spices. I think that the wheat berries may be what gave the sausage pieces the mouth-feel that was so believable.
Now, to all the folks who ask why I don’t just make my Hoppin’ John without adding “fake sausage”, I have two thoughts. I’m trying for greater authenticity in the taste of my vegan recipes, and I want to help vegans get good-quality plant based protein without going overboard eating tons of beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, and nuts (the normal go-to protein sources for vegans). For example, a cup of my cooked, organic black-eyed peas yields 13 grams of protein, and there is probably about 2/3 of a cup of cooked peas in the servings represented in my photos (or roughly 9 grams of protein). If my serving contained roughly 2/3 of a Tofurky sausage, I would be getting an additional 20 grams of protein, to which I’d add 5 grams of protein in the cup of brown rice that accompanied my Hoppin John. To make the same dish and get to 34 grams of protein per serving without adding the Tofurky Andouille Sausage, I’d have to ingest two cups of cooked beans (about 26 grams of protein) and close to 1 3/4 cups of cooked brown rice. I don’t know about you, but that is way too large a portion for me!
My other key change this year was taking a temporary hiatus from traditional collard greens, and experimenting instead with kale. I used three different kinds of kale (baby Red Russian River, Lacianto (or Dinosaur kale) , and green curly kale.) Although both kale and collards are super nutritious, kale has more significantly more Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C. Kale also contains more calcium and iron than collards, so I think that probably gives kale the nutritional edge for vegans, who need to rely on plant-based sources for these two essential minerals. All of my kale was organic (thank you, Earth Fare, for putting this essential green on sale this week for 99 cents per pound!), and when cooked thoroughly to please my hubby’s “Southern tongue”, it almost made him forgive me for not making my traditional collards.
So, what does it mean to be 80% vegan? If the average person eats 21 meals per week, that means that 17 meals could be vegan, and 4 could be non-vegan. Or it could mean that 80% of the food on your plate is plant-based. That’s how it worked out yesterday for me. I was not going to abandon my traditional skillet corn bread, just because the entire pan of corn bread contained one egg, buttermilk, and unsalted butter. (Yes, I promise to work on developing a vegan corn bread recipe in the very near future!)
So, even though this recipe didn’t make it to you in time for New Year’s Day, if you want to try to eat vegan meals more often in 2016, I think it’s a winner any day of the year!
- 2 10-ounce containers of fresh organic black-eyed peas or 3 cups of dried organic black-eyed peas
- 3–4 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon sea salt (only if you are using fresh black eyed-peas)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 4 Artisian Tofurky Andouille Sausage, sliced
- 4–5 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 4–5 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely minced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cooked brown rice
- In a pot with a cover, cook the fresh black-eyed peas, whole garlic cloves, and bay leaves in boiling water, salted with 1 tablespoon of sea salt, for 50–60 minutes until tender. If you are using dried black-eyed peas, you need to first soak them overnight. Drain and rinse well. Put the soaked black-eyed peas, garlic cloves, and bay leaves in a large pot or Dutch oven with just enough water to cover. Do not add salt to the water if you are cooking dried beans. Cook for at least 2 hours until tender, and then add a little sea salt to taste.
- While the black-eyed peas are cooking, heat a large skillet. Add the olive oil, and sauté the onion until translucent. Follow with the garlic, bay leaves, celery, and red bell pepper. After about 10 minutes, add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and, cloves. Continue cooking for about 5–10 more minutes. Put everything except the black-eyed peas in a slow cooker.
- Cook on high for about 2 hours. Add the black-eyed peas and continue cooking for another hour.
- About thirty minutes before you're ready to serve, turn the slow cooker to low, and add the sliced sausage.
- Right before serving, add the thyme leaves and parsley, adjust for seasoning and serve over brown rice.