Sweet and Spicy Tomato and Kidney Bean Salad

One of the best things about not eating meat is that you can make meals without having to actually cook anything. Just cut, combine and stir. Whether you're in a hurry, feeling lazy or just want that fresh crunch, a plant based diet gives you the freedom to cook without literally cooking. 

Especially as the weather gets warmer, it's convenient to just cut and combine. It's also surprisingly tasty to keep those fresh ingredients in their natural state. 

The textures and flavors are vibrant and exciting. 

A little salt, a little acid, some  fat, a spice or two and you're all set with a delicious meal. 

1 can dark red kidney beans
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 long hot pepper, diced
1 serrano, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbls olive oil
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps crushed pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. 

That's it. You're done. Enjoy your not so hard work.

Tofu Protein Bagels Recipe

Fresh made bagels are pretty much the best thing you can put in your mouth.

Fresh bagels packed with additional protein are orders of magnitude better!

Ingredients
1/2 package silken firm tofu
1 packet dry yeast
2 1/2 cups ap flour, more for kneading
1/4 cup ground almonds or almond flour
2 spoonfuls ground flax seed
2 spoonfuls nutritional yeast
1 tbl baking powder
2 tbls olive oil, more for brushing
2 tsps garlic powder
2 tsps pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 tsps salt
2 tsps sugar
1/2 cup warm water (95-110 F)

Bloom the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water and sugar. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. I like to use glass. It's much easier to clean afterward.

Break the tofu into small pieces and add to the dry mix. Use your hands to incorporate the tofu into the dry mixture. Similar to cutting cold butter into biscuit or pie dough. This serves two purposes. It evenly distributes the tofu and it also warms it up so the yeast won't go dormant.

When the tofu is evenly mixed in, add olive oil and the yeast mix. Combine and knead into a moderately firm dough, adding flour as needed to keep it from going too sticky. Knead for several minutes to produce some gluten.

The addition of the tofu, flax and nutritional yeast will create a softer dough than is typical of bread dough, but don't worry. It'll turn out great just the same.

Shape into a dome and return to the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise to 90 minutes.

Add a little more flour. Punch down. Knead a few minutes more. Shape into a dome again.

Divide dough into 6 or 8 equal parts. Shape each part into balls and then create a hole in the center. Place on a baking sheet lightly greased with cooking spray. I like to cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease that. It makes clean up so much easier.

Recover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow to rise again for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Bring a skillet or small pot of water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook bagels for 30 second on each side and then return to the baking sheet.

Brush to olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes.

A huge part of making bread doughs is experience. The more bread you make the better you'll get at being able to see and feel when a dough is where you want it to be.

It's unusual to use baking powder in a yeast risen dough. This was to compensate for the density of the tofu. You could omit the baking powder for a denser finished product. These bagels are crisp on the outside, yet slightly chewy and mostly tender inside.

The additional proteins really make these vegan bagels satisfying and filling. I prefer to put my seasonings directly into my bread doughs. That way they don't fall off and they are present in every single bite.

To retain the crisp outer texture store on the counter in a container draped with a kitchen towel.

For more than a day or two of storage transfer to airtight and the fridge. Toast to regain crispness on the outside.