More than once, I’ve been asked by non-vegans why I would want to eat something that tastes like meat if I don’t want to eat actual meat. For instance, a veggie dog at a BBQ or soyrizo in a tofu scramble instead of chorizo and eggs. My answer is that it tastes good! I’ll be the first one to tell you that bacon tastes good. For reasons I won’t go into here, I choose not to eat animals. Avoiding animal products while still eating great-tasting food IS possible and sometimes it takes a little thinking outside the box.
I love the creative process of developing new recipes, especially when I’m trying to replicate a non-vegan meal. In the past, I’ve focused this creative energy toward creating vegan meatballs, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and even vegan crab cakes! Last weekend, my friend challenged me to create a vegan frittata that non-vegans would love. I’ve already begun developing that recipe and I can’t wait to share it with you!
To me, creating vegan versions of “traditional” foods is not just about the love of eating, it is in itself an act of love. Utilizing all plant-based (and almost all organic) ingredients is healthier for our bodies and for the environment. Choosing to avoid meat and dairy is choosing to save the lives of billions of animals each year. And the work I put into creating yummy recipes like these helps others to give vegan foods a try and possibly start to incorporate changes into their lives that will affect the world in a positive way.
I generally aim to eat a whole foods based diet with a focus on minimizing processed products. Though I could hardly claim these sandwiches are “healthy,” their nutritional facts are much easier to swallow than their original counterpart. Tempeh is naturally low in fat, but still high in plant-based proteins. It’s also minimally processed and is considered by many to be a whole food. If you’re trying to avoid overly processed foods, than perhaps skip the vegan cheese. Though the vegan thousand island dressing will make the sandwich taste more authentic, you could also opt for a cashew queso instead which you can make from scratch with whole food ingredients. You can also skip the earth balance on the bread, or perhaps opting to brush a bit of coconut or olive oil instead.
But bottom line is, sometimes you need a delicious sandwich to sink your teeth into. And when that time comes, here is the recipe for you! Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
- (or tamari)
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 4 tsp black pepper
- 4 tsp mustard seed
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup Vegenaise
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
- 2 8oz packages of organic tempeh
- 16 slices of rye or whole wheat bread
- 1 cup of sauerkraut
- 4 slices of vegan cheese (or Cashew nacho cheese)
- 2 tbsp of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
- Cut each tempeh block in half and cut it into thin slices. Steam the tempeh slices for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the marinade ingredients together.
- Once the tempeh has cooled, place it in a plastic bag and pour the marinade in. Squeeze the air out of the bag and close it tightly so that the marinade is surrounding the tempeh. Place in the fridge overnight, or at least an hour.
- Brush a baking sheet with a little olive oil and spread the tempeh slices out. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, turning after 10. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, slice the onions and sauté in large skillet over medium heat until golden.
- Spread the butter evenly on one side of each bread slice. Place butter side down on the baking sheet. Top 4 of the slices with tempeh bacon, grilled onions and vegan cheese. Bake for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and the bread is toasted on the bottom side.
- Remove from the oven and top with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing. Place the other piece of bread on top, cut in half and serve immediately.
- Serve with pickles, chips, soup or salad.