Nugget of Wisdom

I’ve never met a plant-based nugget I didn’t like. While the war over fast food nuggets wages on, I’m perfectly content to stay home and indulge my love for these savory snacks quietly, without controversy. No matter the “meat” of the matter, homemade will always win this fight. From nutrition to flavor, there’s just no comparison.

That said, I do have a clear favorite among the multitudes of contenders. Protein-packed organic tofu might seem like an old fashioned choice, but that’s certainly not the case when Hodo is in the kitchen. Slow-cooked in bold spice blends to infuse incredible flavor before frying them up for a chewy texture, both the Chinese 5 Spice and Thai Curry Nuggets are ready to eat right out of the package. Of course, there are even greater rewards in store with a little extra prep work.

These crispy, crunchy, compulsively munchable morsels will convince anyone that Hodo is the only way to go. Simple pantry staples transform into restaurant-quality breading for an amber brown, boldly seasoned crust. Thick and satisfying yet surprisingly light, that exterior coating reveals an impossibly moist and juicy golden nugget within.

Just what makes them so meaty? They’re close relatives to tofu puffs, which have been fried as a way to push excess water out, creating an incredibly chewy, dense structure within. This also makes them incredibly absorbent, which is why the flavors of curry or 5-spice make such a bold impact in any dish, even after they’ve been simmered or stewed with other ingredients, or in this case, encased in a shatteringly crisp shell of seasoned breadcrumbs.

Plus, they’re shockingly low fat. Just a light spritz of olive oil will set the finish like a sheer lacquer will seal in the fine details on a masterful work of art. Piping hot and fresh out of the air fryer, it’s hard to believe but these beauties are baked for a grease-free finish. Aside from just eating them straight up as perfectly poppable finger food, the options for adornment are endless. Consider the following:

  • Dipping options: maple mustard, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, marinara, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, sour cream and onion dip
  • Serving options: sandwiches, tacos, pizza, wraps/burritos, waffle toppers, salad mix-ins
  • Plated entree accompaniments: rice pilaf, steamed vegetables, roasted potatoes, buttered noodles, sauteed greens

That’s just the start! Make them your own with your favorite flavors. There’s truly nothing that doesn’t pair well with a such universally satisfying taste sensation.

Picky kids, tofu-haters, staunch omnivores, and health food vegans alike will be won over with one bite. Who needs takeout when you can much do better at home?

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Caring is Sharing

Sometimes, being vegan is easier said than done, especially depending on where you live. Even as veganism rises in popularity, many restaurants and grocery stores still have only a small selection of plant-based options. However, this movement has been continuously on the rise and wider varieties of food and cosmetic items have popped up, particularly online. The accessibility of these virtual shopping ops mean that it’s effortless to spoil that special vegan in your life with thoughtful, cruelty-free gifts shipped directly to their door.

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Smart Sweets

March is National Nutritional Month, which focuses not on good or bad foods, but emphasizes the importance of making informed food choices. This is an approach I can fully support. As a vegan with a huge sweet tooth, alimentary harmony is all about balance, which isn’t black and white. No single diet is best for everyone, but society at large would no doubt be happier and healthier with greater awareness of exactly what they’re eating. That all starts with simply reading the label!

Plant-based eaters are already seasoned pros at packaging interrogations, but it’s a skill that everyone can benefit from. Knowing which nasties to avoid goes a long way. Questionable ingredients like artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and trans-fats should be on the permanent no-fly list for every conscious consumer. It might surprise you which brands do and don’t fit the bill. Voortman has been baking treats tirelessly since before superfoods were trendy or keto was a thing, but their consistent commitment to quality makes their cookies an ideal example of healthy indulgence.

Speaking of trends, charcuterie boards are all the rage these days, capitalizing on human nature to snack, graze, and nibble through the day. It’s a simple approach to hosting friends without putting out a full dinner menu, while still satisfying with a wide range of delights. Of course, there’s the stunning visual impact made by so many shapes, colors, and textures. Composed of simple staples that may not wow by themselves, the collection of complementary bites add up to far more than you would expect.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be all about meat and cheese. Dessert boards are where it’s at!

Dessert charcuterie is the new fun way to serve dessert. You don’t need to be a baker, spend a ton of money, or squander your precious time to assemble your own. In fact, you probably have everything you need already on hand!

Balance is the key, like anything else in life. Truly anything goes, and having a wide array of options ensures there’s something for everyone. Crisp wafer cookies are the most important feature for me, which guides the selections that follow. Voortman has so many bold flavors, I like to use one or two to get the party started. From there, I’ll match corresponding fresh fruits, pair dips that both contrast and heighten those flavors, and fill in the gaps with some additional treats. Your only limit is the size of your board!

In truth, you don’t need to spend a minute in the kitchen for this show-stopping composition. Just remember, it’s all about balance! Wholesome fresh ingredients, decadent chocolates, and healthy treats create a harmonious, natural union.

There’s a lot to be said for chocolate hummus if you wanted to go all-in on desserts with benefits, but I’m a fan of darker cacao endowment here, given the other lighter components. You can whip up this dip in one minute flat, and it’s great on ice cream, too.

Another crowd-pleaser is cheesecake, which graciously accommodates any flavors you can throw at it, while still retaining a tart, tangy vigor. More than just vanilla, it provides the light and lemony contrast to the darker, earthier additions.

Rounding it all out with something nutty, peanut sauce is often seen as a spicy topper for Thai food, but makes a rich addition to the final course, too. A touch of maple syrup and a pinch of salt is all it takes to flip the script over to the sweeter side.

A lot is said about the path towards health and wellness, but for me, it’s one that must still lead to dessert. At the end of the day, I’ll always crave something sweet, so I’m careful to stock only smarter choices. It’s all about creating a happy balance that starts on the plate, or in this case, charcuterie board!

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