People think vegans are healthy. They can be. Back when being vegan meant you had to make most things from scratch, you would be hard pressed not to follow a good diet. But like all foods out there now, the processed options are almost endless for vegans too, making it really easy to live a totally gluttonous life as a vegan.
When you have kids, it could go either way. A) You are perpetually tired and reach for the easy food to feed your family or B) You realize how important it is to feed your family healthy food — and this now includes yourself, as you probably want to be around for college graduation. For most, it is a combination of both.
We all want fast, easy and healthy rolled into one steaming burrito. Those of us of the microwave generation who remember being wide-eyed the day that mummy and daddy brought in something that looked like a trash compactor, but cooked food in a few beeps, have this speed-cooking mentality running through our veins. I don’t own a microwave anymore, but that does not mean that I don’t want speedy, easy-peasy and nutritious meals on the fly.
If you grew up in the ’80s, you may remember the Hot Pocket being a necessity of life. How else could you watch Gilligan’s Island re-runs and eat lunch at the same time? Though the hot pocket was invented in the 1970s, it has deeper roots in a survivalist food called a pasty. Hailing from Cornwall, England, and dating back to god knows when (but likely somewhere in the 1100s), pasties arrived in the states in the 1800s along with immigrant miners. They were an essential food, primarily because they were cheap to make and could sustain being dropped 100 feet down a mine shaft.
If your basement feels like a mine shaft, your family will definitely be in good company with the Hot Pocket. (Not that I am recommending tossing food down the stairs and then eating it, but crazier crap happens when you have kids.) But these days, the real beauty of the Hot Pocket is that you can cram it full of just about anything. For picky eaters and vegan families wanting to do a lot of combining of foods to get complete protein or fully absorbable iron (green with orange please), this is awesome. Here is a great basic recipe to get you started, but you can mix it up however it suits your menu plan. No matter how you stuff ‘em, these are sure to be repeat visitors to your dinner table or, er, TV tray.
Dinosaur (Kale) Hot Pockets
These hot pockets are not super speedy to prepare, but make them in batches and freeze for a quick heat up. Makes six so double or triple at will.
1 medium ¾ inch cubed Yukon gold potato (I like the skin on, but go naked if you like)
1 shallot, diced
Dash of salt
2 dinosaur kale leaves, stem removed, sliced into one inch square pieces
½ cup extra firm tofu, cubed into 1/2 in cubes
Place cubed potatoes into a 2 quart pot. Rinse by filling pot and then empty pot. Fill pot with cold water. Cook to a boil over medium heat. Once the water has started to boil, remove the potatoes from the water. While the potatoes are boiling, sauté shallot. When the shallot becomes clear, add the dino kale bits and tofu. Add the potatoes. Sauté until the potatoes are fully cooked and the tofu is lightly browned. Add gravy (recipe below). Cool completely before adding to the crust.
1 tablespoon of flour
1 tablespoon margarine
½ cup of soy, almond, or rice milk
1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
½ tsp. all-purpose seasoning (pepper, basil, garlic powder, onion powder)
¼ cup vegan cheese (We use Daiya mozzarella shredded)
Heat flour over medium heat until lightly toasted. Add the margarine, melt and mix thoroughly with flour. Whisk the vegan milk in with the flour and margarine. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Add the Bragg’s, the all-purpose seasoning and vegan cheese. Mix until cheese has completely melted. Add to filling and mix.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening (Earth Balance sticks are my most recent favorite)
About 6 tablespoons ice water
Mix the flour and salt preferably in a large food processor with the regular blade. You can do this by hand with a pastry blender, fork or even your hands, but I use the food processor. Add the shortening. Pulse until dough has the appearance of small crumbles. Sprinkle a small amount of ice water on top and mix. If you want to go all out, use a sprayer with ice water. This will help to add the water slowly and evenly as you incorporate the water. Keep adding small doses of ice water until the dough forms into a ball in the food processor.
Take the dough out and split in half. Roll each half into a 12 inch square. You can use wax paper on each side so the dough doesn’t stick to your rolling pin. Use a sparing amount of flour if you don’t have wax paper. It is suggested to cool the dough at this point so that the shortening is solidified before you bake it. I find it too difficult to work with and skip this step, but with a little tenacity this should make the crust even flakier.
Lay out one sheet and lightly mark lines by dividing the sheet in half in one direction and in thirds the other. This will mark out six hot pockets. Place approximately a quarter cup of the filling in the six spots. Keep the filling in the center in a ridge leaving about one inch between the filling and the edges of the pockets.
Moisten the edges with water using a pastry brush. Unwrap the second sheet and roll it up in the rolling pin. Unroll the sheet over the first sheet and filling. Press the top sheet down around the edges of each hot pocket. Cut out the hot pockets. Press the edges down with a fork. Slice three one-inch openings at the top. Brush the top with melted margarine. Bake at 375 until the crust is golden brown (about 25 minutes). Remove and serve when cool enough to hold. They should still be piping hot on the inside.