Vegan Recipe Reviews: Forks Over Knives

18 Jul

My friend Elizabeth over at Just One Step More turned me on to the documentary, Forks Over Knives, and I have to say it’s completely changed my thinking about the way we eat.  One of reasons the documentary is so compelling is that it has doctors and medical facts from major universities to back up its claims.  According to the Forks Over Knives website synopsis:


FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.  The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.


This film should be seen by every single person all over the world, particularly those who live in Westernized countries.  We are dying from diseases that we shouldn’t be dying from.  We are grossly obese, lazy, and uneducated about food and where our food comes from (I also recommend seeing Food, Inc.).  We have heart disease, diabetes, thyroid diseases, gallbladder issues, kidney stones, cancer, dementia, osteoporosis, etc.  We also drink 48oz. sodas, cook with lard, eat processed foods, McDonald’s, Frankenstein animal products such as hormone-filled meat and chicken that has been “washed” at the plant in amonia!  Do I want to eat chicken that has been washed in amonia?  That’s an easy no.


Back in January, I went gluten-free for health reasons, and if you’ve been following me here or on Facebook, you knoe the tremendous success I’ve had with that — fewer migraines, fewer digestive issues, and my allergies have been reduced by at least 70%.  When my friend Elizabeth went vegan, I supported her because I knew she was doing what she needed to do for herself, but I secretly thought going vegan — and vegan dishes — sounded nasty.


I am a product of growing up in SE Texas, home of big steaks, big enchiladas, piles of nachos, Dr. Pepper, and chain restaurants as far as the eye can see.  Now, I have never been an over-eater.  I’ve never eaten for comfort (except, sometimes, a handful of Haribo Gummi Bears — until now, when I found out that gelatin is made from animal fat — talk about gross!) or because I was bored.  I have been a generally healthy eater — yogurt and fruit in the morning (which replaced the less healthy biscuit when I went GF), homemade sandwiches piled high with veggies and skim cheese and low-sodium turkey, salads with dinner 3-4 times a week, and vegetables with every dinner.  However, I love cheeseburgers and Mexican food.  A lot.  I am ashamed to admit this, but I would have a Wendy’s Jr. cheeseburger deluxe (sans bacon) and a small fry (no soda — I gave up soda about 3 years ago) once a week.  I would also about 2-3 times a month have a Chik-fil-a meal (with the sweet iced tea).  About once a month, I would have a Carls, Jr. $6 burger meal.  It was bad and the pounds started creeping up.  I’m not obese or even really fat, but I’m about 10 lbs. over what I should be.  I started worrying about my heath when I had several blood pressure readings that were 130/90.  This was NOT okay with me.


In came Forks Over Knives.  Jeff and I watched it the day before yesterday and in a moment, our lives changed.  Here’s how much:  Jeff is a meat-and-potatoes Texan.  He loves mac and cheese, sausage, burgers, Taco Bell.  After watching FOK, he started talking vegan.  Seriously.  Like hard core.  “Quinoa” became his new favorite word  these past few days (we’ve been eating quinoa on and off for about a year, now).  After we watched Food, Inc., it sealed the deal.


Yesterday was our first major foray into vegan cooking.  I think (for now) we’re going to be vege-vegans (my word for vegetarian/vegans), because I’m having a hard time giving up cheese entirely.  I don’t eat a lot of dairy and I’ve switched  the greek yogurt for soy yogurt (and the Horizon Organics milk for soy milk) with no problem, but it’s the actual cheese I’m having a time with (not that I’ve even eaten cheese in a week, but the idea of not having it freaks me out).  I don’t eat eggs because I’m allergic, so that’s not a problem.  I’m going to the store to get the much-touted, apparently award-winning Diaya vegan cheese (that’s supposed to be great and taste miraculously like real cheddar, jack, or mozzarella), so we shall see.


Here are the two recipes we made yesterday, the methods, and outcomes.  The recipes are c/o Forks Over Knives.


Fiesta Quinoa Salad



• 1 cup white quinoa, plus 1/4 cup red quinoa, washed and drained • 1 cup fresh corn, off the cob • 2 cups filtered water • Pinch sea salt • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow pepper (we used a mix of red and green for more color) • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

For the Dressing:

• 2 teaspoons lime zest • 2 tablespoons lime juice • 2 teaspoons cumin • 2 teaspoons chili powder • 2 tablespoons tamari • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar



Place quinoa, corn, and water in a medium saucepan with pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered for 20 minutes over low flame.


Quinoa is a seed-like grain that is high in protein and can be used in place of rice.


Meanwhile, whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.


This dressing was so delicious!


Fluff quinoa with fork, place in medium bowl, and stir in the black beans, veggies, dressing, and cilantro.  Season with sea salt if needed. Serve warm or cold the next day.


Quinoa Salad


Outcome:  This salad was delicious!  I was actually surprised at how good it was.  It was easy to make and incredibly flavorful.  We served it warm in corn tortillas (for me) and soft flour tortillas (for Jeff, who can’t abide by corn tortillas because they fall apart).  The blend of flavors was wonderful and this is by far one of the BEST Mexican-fusion dishes I’ve ever had.


Mushroom Stroganoff



• 2 large shallots, peeled and minced • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced • 2 teaspoons minced thyme • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed and cut into large pieces • 1 ounce porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes • ½ cup dry white wine • 1 pound whole-grain fettuccine, cooked according to package directions, drained, and kept warm (we used gluten-free rice fettuccine) • 1 cup Tofu Sour Cream (recipe follows) • Chopped parsley




Place the shallots in a large skillet and sauté over a medium heat for 8 minutes.  Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep them from sticking.  Add the garlic and thyme, and cook for another minute.

Stir in the salt and pepper, rosemary, and the portobello mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the porcini mushrooms, and their soaking liquid, and the wine.




Stir, and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. When the stroganoff is finished cooking, stir in the sour cream.


Stroganoff Sauce


Add the cooked noodles and toss well.  Serve garnished with the parsley.


It tasted better than it looks!


Tofu Sour Cream  Makes 1½ cups



• 1 package extra firm lite silken tofu, drained• 1 tablespoon lemon juice • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar




Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and creamy.  Chill until ready to serve.  Salt to taste.


Outcome: This was a pretty good dish, thought not as good as the Quinoa Salad.  The flavors worked well together, but the rice noodles kept sticking together, so I don’t think this was a recipe issue, but a product issue that we’re going to try to resolve when we make this again.  It is a recipe that we plan to try again (with different pasta).  However, the tofu sour cream was a pain to make!   Draining the tofu was not a problem, but the blending of the ingredients in the blender was a challenge.  The tofu didn’t want to blend and I had to do a scrape, blend, scrape, blend (and on and on) for at least 10 minutes before the mixture came anywhere near “creamy” in its consistency.  I had to add a bit (1-2 Tbsps.) of water as well.  The mixture came out slightly crumbly and to be honest, we were kind of scared how the meal would taste when it was all said and done.  However, the tofu sour cream melted (reasonably) into the mushrooms and pasta (thought still a bit crumbly) and the flavors of the herbs, mushrooms, white wine, and so on blended very well to make a satisfactory meal.  As I am not a tofu expert, I don’t know if the tofu was supposed to be crumbly or if it was my fault of the product’s fault.  I’m willing to take tips on how to blend a smooth tofu sour cream.  Final note: you have to soak the porcini mushrooms for 30 minutes before using.  Don’t forget this (as we did when we wanted to make this the night before and read that in the directions and decided to scrap it until the next day because it was late).   All in all, we enjoyed  this dish and think that you (even you, non-vegans!) will, too!






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