Let me start by saying the holidays should not merely be a time to drain your bank accounts in the name of generosity. It should be a time for gratitude, for taking care of ourselves by relaxing and indulging, and for spending time with the people we love. But this is ‘Merica, and here, we like to buy things.

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I have mentioned previously that one of the best features on the backend of SexyTofu.com is the ability to see what people plugged into Google to stumble across us (and by us, I mean me!). To sample just a few, today I got “women flashing truck drivers,” “vegan nightmares,” “sex pesto” (mmm..?), “fat girl eating chocolate banana” and “crazy sexy dumper.” Funnies aside, I did get one person who was searching for “how to be vegan without tofu.”

This struck a real chord with me. I was a vegetarian for a very long time before I ever developed a taste for tofu, or any soy product really. I was also very young, and perhaps not very smart about how to successfully maintain a plant-based diet. Now that I am vegan (and a full supporter of the soy council!), I was interested in this mystery fan’s (okay fan is a bit much..) query of not only how to be vegan without tofu, but how to be vegan without soy at all.

With a family history of breast cancer, I used to think I should avoid eating soy on a daily basis, and therefore limited consumption of direct soy products (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.). However, my doctor recently told me that the avoidance of soy in relation to breast cancer—as it contains high levels of estrogen—is unnecessary. We produce far more estrogen in our bodies than we could possibly get from soy products (says doc!).

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This super easy and delicious dinner is something my mom made for me growing up all the time. While her versions weren’t vegan, they were a great and healthy way to use up the leftovers from the previous week. You simply layer grains, veggies, beans, salsa, guacamole and anything else you want between layers of tortillas (I like whole grain) for a mexican fiesta you can impress your friends with. Throw in left-over stir fry, cooked grains, or veggies that are about to go bad. Add vegan sour cream, nutritional yeast, hot peppers or anything else you want. Try drizzling the creation with a batch of Veganomicon‘s Cheezy Sauce. Bake it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes until all the flavors have merged together and everything is heated through. When it comes out, slice it into pieces (like cake) and serve alongside a simple salad. To keep it looking pretty, create your layers in a spring-form pan. Not worried about presentation? Stacking it on a cookie sheet works as a messy alternative.

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Whenever I tell people I am vegan, I always get the obligatory but what do you eat?! questions thrown at me. You don’t eat eggs? No. No fish? No. Cheese? No. Pizza!? Why, yes!! Nothing could stand in the way of my love for a gooey slice of pizza. Being vegan only means my pizza is yes, dairy free, and actually pretty healthy.

You can buy all sorts of vegan cheese to  slather your pie in, but I have found my all time favorite way to dress a pizza is in Veganomicon’s cashew ricotta. The stuff is like crack. Plus, it’s full of protein! I pile it on my pizza, add some sauce, a garden’s worth of veggies, and top it off with a little nutritional yeast for a parmesany finish.

Voila! A healthy, tasty, vegan creation that even my carnivorous boyfriend enjoys. I get to have my pizza, and eat it too!

Although we often like to make our own dough, Ben and I were feeling lazy. We decided to make our pizzas on whole wheat tortillas for a quick pizza fix. I cut mine into slices, and he rolled his into a pizza burrito. It made a mess, but he looked pretty happy with himself.

Ben's pizza, pre burrito roll...

This particular pizza was piled high with caramelized onions, mushrooms. spinach and jalapenos. Delish! How do you like your vegan pizza?

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In all of its faux-cheesy glory...

Say what? In case you’re not a super-trendy lover of vegetables who likes to talk in hip vegan slang (hah!) I’m about to break into a rant about my love for nutritional yeast. Hey, wait a minute – stop scrolling down to find that picture of the Olsen twins wearing pasties and bear with me here!! Like many weird vegan ingredients, nutritional yeast kind of freaked me out for a while and I stayed away from it for my first month or two of veganism. That is until I went to visit my mama in Hawaii and she talked me into it. (Just like she talked me into doing lots of things, like visiting a nude beach and drinking Kava.)

High in protein and  b-complex vitamins (some brands are fortified with b12), and low in fat and sodium, nutritional yeast pretty much gets super-hero status in my hat of vegan magic. Since it has a salty flavor, it is versatile and does wonderful things when added to recipes. Paired alongside fresh basil, it takes my vegan pesto from “oh..” to “Oh!” My mom sprinkles nooch on popcorn with spirulina–another nutritional bad-ass– for a super-fibery, super-green, B12alicious movie treat. At Health in a Hurry, we put it in our Chickpea of the Sea, a faux-tuna concoction that is completely over-the-moon. (I can’t tell you that recipe though, cause then I would have to kill you, and as a general rule of thumb vegans are usually pretty non-violent.) I also like putting nooch in my  tofu scrambles, and although I have never made it I have a friend who swears she uses it to make a vegan mac-n-cheese that will fool anybody.  I am considering buying the Nutritional Yeast Cookbook, but until I stop finding the majority of my spending money between couch cushions, I will continue doing what I do now: going to Barnes N Nobles and sitting for three hours straight copying recipes from books I want to own but am too poor to buy. One day I will get there!

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