Let’s face it: chickens have it rough. Many people trying to eat healthier switch from beef to chicken, unfamiliar with the horrors of chicken factory farming. Chickens raised for meat are bred to grow very large very fast and thus live short lives, many dropping dead of heart attacks, their organs unable to keep up with the pressures of their overgrown bodies. On top of that, many trying to eat healthy don’t realize that chicken meat still contains cholesterol and saturated fat.
The great news is there are loads of delicious foods we can nosh on sans chicken that offer the flavors we love. Here’s a favorite recipe, plus a list of some of my favorite chicken-free meats.
Napa Valley Chicken-Free Salad
Serve this chicken-free salad on a bed of greens or sandwiched between whole wheat bread for a delicious, filling meal. It’s ideal for a picnic or an easy workweek lunch.
Time: 10 minutes
1 9-ounce package chicken-free strips, like Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Strips, Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick’n, diced into small pieces
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions or chives
1/2 cup halved seedless red grapes
1/2 cup egg-free mayonnaise, like Just Mayo
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped
1 teaspoon poppy seeds, optional
Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined well. Best chilled for at least an hour.
To serve, layer your favorite sandwich bread with lettuce and chicken-free salad or serve on a bed of greens.
Five of my Favorite Chicken-Free Plant-Based Meats
These flaky, yet soft scones are perfect for impressing friends with a fancy brunch or tea party, or a bring-along breakfast for a road trip. The lemon complements the berries adding a hint of citrus. You can freeze the dough and bake later for a quick, yet decadent weekday breakfast.
Makes 6-8 scones
Time: 35 minutes, 15 minutes active
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dairy-free margarine, like Earth Balance
3/4 cup plain unsweetened soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
If using frozen berries, thaw them in warm water and strain well.
In a large bowl, mix together both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Separate margarine into 6 pieces and add to flour mixture using a fork or pastry cutter to cut in until margarine is evenly distributed, with no pieces larger than a pea.
Combine soy or almond milk, vanilla or lemon extract, and zest and pour into dry mixture. Stir until dough comes together. Add berries and gently fold into the dough. Some berries may get squashed and add a hint of purple—that’s okay.
Once dough is thoroughly mix with berries, place on a lightly floured surface, and flatten to about 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or the mouth of a tumbler, cut into 6-8 scones. You may need to reform the dough into a ball and press out again to make all the scones. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with additional sugar, optionally. Bake for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
Pro-Tip: You can substitute berries with your favorite fruit. Or go crazy and use chocolate chips. If you do that, use the vanilla extract rather than the lemon.
Did you know that eating more plant-based meals and less meat is not just good for us, but good for the planet too? In this video produced by World of Vegan, I share five ways eating plant-based helps our planet.
Who doesn’t love a good macaroni and cheese? It’s the quintessential comfort food. This macaroni and cashew cheese doesn’t have the same neon orange color of the food of my childhood, but it’s way more delicious. The surprise is that not only is it tasty and comforting; it’s also healthy, with cashews offering the creaminess of cheese. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, but bright green broccoli makes a nice contrast. This recipe appears in my book, MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live — One Meal at a Time, published by Da Capo Press, 2017.
Serves 4 Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients: 1 pound of your favorite pasta (macaroni or shells work great)
1 head broccoli, cauliflower, or your favorite vegetable, cut into florets or small pieces
Cheese sauce ingredients: 1-1/4 cups raw cashews (if you have time to prepare in advance, soak them for an hour to overnight for a creamier sauce)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1-1/2 cups plain, unsweetened soy or almond milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup yellow miso
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions. When 5 minutes remain in cook time, add in broccoli, cauliflower, or other vegetables. Drain, rinse, and pour into a casserole dish. Set aside.
Meanwhile grind the cashews into a powder in a high speed blender or food processor. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, and garlic powder and blend thoroughly.
Add the soy or almond milk, oil, miso, and lemon juice and blend until smooth, scraping sides to ensure it’s thoroughly combined.
Toss cheese sauce over pasta and veggies and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Pro-Tip: Crumble crushed walnuts or panko bread crumbs over the top before baking for a fancier mac.
Are you a college student frustrated with your dining experience? A parent paying for a meal plan that’s being unused due to a lack of options? I can help! Here are some simple suggestions for getting more vegan options on your school’s menus.