Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meat Lovers Leatless Lasagna

I see people all of the time in 'real life' and on TV (Oprah for example) attempt to go vegan or eat healthier and most have the same complaint: The food is gross!  Not always false!  Going from a carnivorous, fast-food guzzling, steak and potato loving junkie to eating quinoa and cranberries or tofu scramble is quite a jump and not one most people care to take.  First of all, for anyone looking to change your diet: The food you eat does have mild addictive properties.  Dairy, MSG, fast food....its all been shown to actually be addictive.  To break the habit takes time and patience.  It takes at least 3 weeks to change your taste buds and I swear it works.  I forced myself to and all of a sudden food I used to hate were like new adventures in the kitchen for me.  The tomatoes that Taco Bell would so generously pile on my Nacho Cheese Chalupa would cause me to go into fits of rage.  Jicama, Kale and CousCous were foreign to me.  I only ate salads made with Iceberg lettuce and drenched it in so much creamy ranch dressing that it looked like soup.  I would eat a block of cheese in one sitting.  Literally.  Ultra-sharp cheddar, sliced up.  Hold the crackers.

So this was drastic for me.  I loved dairy and all of its delicious goodness.  But if you can push through it heroin-addict style, you won't regret it.  You may relapse, but jump back on the wagon and you wont look back.  Foods I used to hate, after changing those lovely little sensory receptor taste buds of mine, I now can't get enough of.  Tomatoes: My former arch rival.  Now?  I love them! 

The thing is when people try to change and jump from meat and potatoes and lonely nights devouring blocks of cheese to eating 'rabbit food', its not going to last.  You need to convert gradually.  One of the ways to do this is meat and cheese substitutes.  They are far better for you than meat and cheese, laden with artery clogging saturated fat and cancer causing casein; But they are definitely not quite 'health food'.  They are perfect for transitioning to a heathier lifestyle.  I like to call it Vegan Junk Food. 

So Here it is!  My Meat Lovers Meatless Lasagna.  My husband went back for seconds, which does not happen often whether we eat vegan or not.   Remember all non-vegans: Dairy free cheese is Casein-Free.  Veggies Slices won't cut it....they secretly harbor dairy protein.  Use Vegan Rella or Follow Your Heart brand cheese.  Or you can use most people favorite, Daiya cheese which comes already shredded and melts like real cheese....but I've found the flavor to be a little inconsistent.  Vegan Rella is by far my favorite vegan cheese if you can find it.  If at any time you have trouble finding any ingredients, google them.  You can always buy it online and unlike a dead animal carcass or bovine breast milk, it wont go bad as fast!

Meat Lovers Meatless Lasagna
1lb        Firm Tofu (not silken)
1 tbsp   garlic powder
1 tbsp   parsley
1 tbsp   nutritional yeast
1 tsp     oregano
1 tsp     basil
1 tsp     olive oil
1 tsp     lemon juice
            s & p to taste
3 Tbsp  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ cup   finely chopped onion
2          garlic cloves, minced
1          Roll Gimmee Lean Sausage
1          Bag Boca meat crumbles
¼ tsp    Sage
½ tsp    Fennel Seeds
2          Jars Favorite Pasta Sauce
12         Whole Grain or Gluten-Free Lasagna Noodles
1          Package Vegan Rella (or other vegan *Casein Free non-dairy mozzarella cheese)
3 Tbsp  Nutritional Yeast
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drain tofu and pulse in food processor.  Add garlic powder, parsley, nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and salt & pepper. Pulse until just combined.  Set aside.
Meat Sauce
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  .  Add onion and garlic.  Gimmee Lean can be sticky and difficult to break apart, so use a knife to slice/dice until chopped.  Sausage will still be sticky and will break more easily after being cut.  Lightly brown sausage in skillet and add Boca crumbles.  Season with sage, fennel and salt and pepper.  Cook for 5-8 minutes until browned and heated through.  Add sauce and let simmer for 30-60 minutes.  Set aside.
Cook noodles to package directions. 
Vegan Rella cheese can also be difficult as it is also sticky.  Slice thinly and set aside.

To Assemble:
Layer as shown in diagram.  Note: Diagram is off a little.  Add some sauce underneath top layer of ‘cheese’ to soften noodles below.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an another 10 minutes.  Remove from over and use spatula to spread vegan cheese if needed on the top, as vegan cheese does not melt like dairy cheese.  Return to over for an additional 15 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving to set.


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