Friday FAQs: The lowdown on nutritional yeast, savoury snacks, freezing veggie burgers, feeding a wedding, and more

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Friday FAQs is a new series on Oh She Glows featuring your questions about OSG recipes, substitution ideas, cooking methods, ingredients, and tools. My goal for this series is to share what I’ve learned in my kitchen over the past 8 years, and hopefully inspire you to try new plant-based ingredients, cooking methods, recipes, and more! Feel free to shoot your questions my way via social media or the blog and I’ll select a handful each week to feature. See my first Friday FAQs post here.

Happy Earth Day, everyone! I hope this week’s Friday FAQs inspires you to whip up some plant-based meals in honour of Earth Day. Today’s feature is jam-packed, so let’s get right to it!

Q1: I just bought your cookbook and my very first recipe is your veggie burgers. I am doubling the batch…with the extra, do you prefer to cook them and freeze or freeze the patties then cook them?

A: Hi Laurie, Oh how exciting! I prefer to freeze the cooked and cooled patties. Once the cooked burgers have cooled completely, I wrap each burger individually, then place them all into a large freezer-safe zip bag. I press out as much air as I can, zip it up, and freeze for up to 4 weeks. You can thaw individual burgers in the fridge or on the counter and then reheat in a skillet. If I know I’ll be freezing the burgers, sometimes I’ll cook them a few minutes less just to ensure they don’t dry out during the freezing/reheating process. I hope you enjoy the cookbook—let me know how you like the burgers!

Q2: I just recently got put on a diet and it is gluten-free/paleo. I am struggling with finding recipes for snacks that are not sweet. I love sweets and chocolate, but that is all I have been eating lately because those are the recipes that I am finding. Do you have ideas for salty snacks? Also, I recently bought chia seeds and other than having them as oatmeal with almond milk and fruit, I have no clue what to do with them.

A: My go-to savoury snacks are hummus with crackers or veggies, avocado toast, or roasted chickpeas (such as my Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas). As for chia seed recipes, I recommend trying out my Endurance Crackers for a super easy (and paleo-friendly) recipe that packs in a ton of chia seeds. They are great with dips or simply topped with sliced avocado and pink salt! For non-savoury options, you could try making my (Almost) Instant Chocolate Chia Pudding, Raspberry Chia Seed Jam, or Chia Fresca.

Q3: Hi Angela, I was wondering if I could go out on a limb and ask a huge favor. I am getting married in August and my family is helping with the food. I would really like all or most of the side dishes to be vegan but with the price of food lately I also want to be budget conscious. There will be around 150 guests. I’m wondering if you could suggest a few of your recipes that might suit my requirements? I know you are very busy so I will totally understand if this is not doable for you. Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful recipes in the blog and your cookbook.

A: Congrats Michelle! It’s so great that your family is helping out with the food for the wedding. In terms of choosing budget-friendly vegan sides, my best advice would be to stick with dishes featuring in-season produce: fruits and veggies are often a bit less expensive when they’re in season, so it’s a great way to save a little on the cost of ingredients. Since your wedding is in August you can take advantage of having so many local vegetables and fruits in season! Also, if there are ingredients you know you’ll need and that you can stock up on further in advance, keep an eye out for coupons and sales. A few recipes I’d recommend are my Creamy Avocado Potato Salad (p. 107 from The Oh She Glows Cookbook), Long Weekend Grilled Salad (p. 115), The Best Shredded Kale Salad, Mashed Potatoes with Easy Mushroom Gravy (p. 207), and Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad. You could also roast and season vegetables, like in my Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fingerling Potatoes and Rosemary recipe, or my Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Cumin-Coriander Tahini Sauce (p. 191)—but some of those might get tricky, depending on oven space. Also, don’t forget the simplicity (and great flavour!) of a homemade gazpacho. You can definitely make that one ahead. I’d imagine that some of the side dishes can be made in larger batches to accommodate the size of your wedding, and can be partially prepped in advance (for example, the salad dressings and vegan parm can be done ahead) so there’s less to do day-of. I hope this helps get the wheels turning! Have a great wedding.

Q4: Hi Angela, I’m having trouble keeping the Glo Bars together. I don’t have brown rice syrup, so I’ve been using maple syrup. Is that why they won’t stay together?

A: Hi Lisa, Unfortunately maple syrup doesn’t work great as a binder in this recipe (I’ve tried it many times using different combos…oh how I wish it did!). The only binder I’ve had success with is brown rice syrup. Its super thick and sticky consistency really helps the bars stick together. I hope you enjoyed the Glo Bar pieces anyway! I sure wouldn’t pass them up if I saw some crumbles on a tray. ;)

Q5: What is nutritional yeast? Is it the same as yeast for bread?

A: Great question! The two types of yeast are actually quite different: The yeast used in bread is what’s known as “active”  yeast, and it works as a leavening agent (helping your baked goods to rise and become lighter); nutritional yeast, on the other hand, is “inactive,” dead-form yeast. Nutritional yeast is great for lending a cheesy, nutty flavour to vegan recipes, and is often fortified with B vitamins. I love adding it to sauces, gravies, and dressings, or sprinkling it on popcorn or garlic bread. A few of my favourite recipes using nutritional yeast are my Luxurious 7-Vegetable and “Cheese” Soup, Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip (p. 83 of The Oh She Glows Cookbook), and Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burrito (p. 159).

Comments of the week:

“To be honest, I’ve been struggling a bit with your blog as of late. What I love about my favorite blogs (which used to include OSG!) is that it feels like having a friend in your life with all sorts of interesting stories, pictures, or recipes. The ones that truly stick with me have a presence in my life and it’s a fun ride to tag along as life changes.

I bought the first cookbook and will probably buy the second cookbook but I feel as though I’ve really lost my connection here. You were updating the blog through being pregnant and moving and releasing a cookbook, even updating monthly when you had your daughter, lately it’s been basically silent.

I hate to admit it, but I’m really disappointed. I knew you were working on this app and that was a big reason it was so quiet. After all the waiting, I can’t even buy the app because I’m an Android user. I know you have a lot going on in your family and I’m excited for the next step for your family, but I feel as though this community has taken, not even a backseat, but like the spare car left at home. I’m hoping that isn’t the case, but it certainly doesn’t feel like the connection I used to feel to the plant based community here.

Good luck with all your endeavors, I’m glad to have been a part of it for awhile and truly wish you well!”

Hi there, I can tell from your comment that you care a lot, and I really appreciate your honesty. I have to be honest with you too; I felt a rush of guilt, sadness, and embarrassment as I read your comment. I think the hard part is that it’s impossible to see someone’s entire life and what they are going through from a blog or social media.

I can tell you one thing I’ve realized over the past few years: I’m not perfect at juggling big life changes/demands and work projects, especially when they happen all at once. Creativity is a funny thing at times; I can pour everything into a single project when I need to, but then I feel burned out in other areas. I’m not very good at switching back and forth among several demanding creative pursuits.

I can, however, promise you that every day, I’m trying my absolute best and putting 100% into everything I do. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely!! I know this more than anyone; I’m incredibly tough on myself and strive for progress daily. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and know I’ve dropped the ball in various areas of my life as I’ve tried to balance motherhood, writing and completing a second cookbook, creating an app, a second pregnancy, blogging, and starting up a newsletter over the past 1 1/2 years. If I can’t give 100% into a blog post, I will not post, because I want to give everything I can into each post and recipe, even though it may mean my content slows. I never publish something “just to get a post up” or to meet a quota.

I totally agree with you that the blog has had to take a backseat at various times (just like other things have in my life too), but I didn’t have another solution at the time. As I mentioned, sometimes I have to focus all my creative energy into one project to meet deadlines. It’s just how my brain works the most efficiently. Trust me that no one feels as much conflict over this as I do. I do think that I can develop better strategies in the future, though!

As I reflected on your comment this week, I also had a bit of an epiphany. I realized that I never give myself credit for all of the things I am doing successfully. Eric mentioned that I never once stopped to appreciate or celebrate the things I accomplished as a new mother. All I could think about each time was how behind I was with other things. How many of us don’t stop to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come? I bet it’s a lot of us.

I also feel like our community has spread far beyond the blog. I connect with thousands of readers a week on social media, reply to dozens of comments and questions daily, share behind the scenes on Snapchat, and more. I hope anyone who subscribes to my newsletter also sees the passion I put into it. I write a personal letter in each issue (among other content such as a Q+A and recipe flashbacks) talking about what’s going on in my life. I’m always trying to connect with my readers in diverse ways, even though I may miss the mark at times!

Despite the conflicting feelings I’ve had in recent years (and probably should’ve talked about more openly, but I feared it would come across as ungrateful), I’ve never once regretted pursuing new projects, taking risks, and especially, taking the time to focus on my family these past 19 months. Many times, I’ve delayed blog posts or other work in favour of spending time with my daughter and I’m more than ok with that. I have one shot at my time here and I have to trust my heart, even if it doesn’t work out perfectly in the end or please everyone all the time.

I can’t promise you that my blog will be everything you’re looking for or need, but I can promise that I continue to give 100% of myself into each post and project, even if it’s sometimes hard to see. And of course, I will take your feedback to heart and try to improve. I’ve never for a second thought that I had this whole thing figured out.

I’m sorry that after waiting all winter you were not able to download our app. I can promise you if we had the budget to develop across multiple platforms simultaneously, we definitely would have. Our intent was never to leave anyone out, but to begin this new journey and hope we have the means to grow in the future.

I so appreciate your support for my cookbooks, and even if you don’t continue to read my blog, I’m very thankful that you enjoy my work!

Take care, Angela

~~~~~~~~

“Hello, Ms. Liddon,

I am an interpretive park ranger at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. I prepare lunches for our park’s living history program volunteers once a month during living history day. Since I switched to a completely plant-based diet a few years ago, I started making vegan lunches for our volunteers and staff, normally 15 to 25 people each month. I found your blog and it has become one of my favorite “go to” places for recipes. I didn’t know how the volunteers would react to this change in lunches, as only one of them is vegetarian. It turned out that every one of them loves and compliments the lunches and I’m happy to say that every month there are virtually no leftovers. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration! I’ve told them about your blog.

Sincerely,

Peter K., Oakland, CA”

Hi Peter, This is so fantastic to hear! I’m honoured that you use my recipes for your lunches, and even more so that they are such a hit with your group. What a great way to spread the plant-based love. I hope you all enjoy many delicious meals to come!

Oh She Glows

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