My name is Amore. Maria Amore and I cook with love. I’ve always had a knack for cooking (it’s the Italian background – I was born in the kitchen!), but working as a corporate lawyer wasn’t exactly conducive to putting together nutritious meals that took longer to prepare than popping toasts. Most of the time, I didn’t know whether it was day or night, weekday or weekend, nor what the weather was like outdoors, because, conveniently, my desk and chair were facing away from my office window on the 22nd floor. I still loved it: the adrenaline pumping all the time, the intellectual stimulation, the sense of importance, my ego-self replete with pride; it was, I thought, my dream life.
Then I got sick. I struggled for a while, trying to hide my devastating exhaustion from everyone, but it became almost impossible for me to get out of bed. The medical doctors at a loss for how to help me, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started learning about nutrition.
“Let food be thy medicine.”
Man, Hippocrates was a genius! It made perfect sense to me! I learned that a vegan diet was not only healthiest for us and kindest to the animals, but also best for the whole planet. Quickly, actually overnight, I became a vegan, which means, I cut out all animal products from my diet. Not only meat, but also fish, eggs, cheese, milk – all of it – gone. That was almost 3 years ago. Kathy Freston’s Quantum Wellness was the first book I read, and that’s all I needed to convince me ethically, but I continued researching and became positive I had made the right decision.
This weekly column won’t be as much about me, as about you. You living a healthier lifestyle; you learning delicious and nutritious ways to substitute animal products in your recipes; you making informed decisions that intuitively feel right.
This week I set out to veganize a classic recipe, Shepherd’s Pie. What to use instead of meat was not a challenge at all – that was actually the easy part, once marinating the tofu was properly mastered (or kidney beans for those of you who avoid soy). The big dilemma for me was: what do I use instead of creamed corn? I tried making the dish without it, using only corn. Some liked it, but it just didn’t do it for me! So, I got to work. I had a secret ingredient up my sleeve that I could add to corn for increased deliciousness. I’ve recently discovered the creamy wonders that cashews bring to recipes and subsequently developed a successful cashew-creamy mushroom sauce just the week before. I modified my mushroom recipe by adding corn instead of mushrooms and it worked!
Here you are: a scrumptious vegan Shepherd’s Pie, complete with the secret ingredient: cashew-cream of corn! Below you will also learn a versatile recipe for marinating tofu, tempeh or beans. Enjoy, in joy and in health!
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
4 to 5 servings
3 cups organic corn (preferably frozen corn, boiled)
1 cup cashew-cream of corn (recipe follows)
5 medium potatoes and 1 medium sweet potato
1 package firm organic tofu OR 3 cups cooked kidney beans (marinated as per recipe which follows)
1 package mushrooms
2 cups spinach
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons paprika OR cayenne
- Marinate tofu or kidney beans according to the recipe below. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours.
- Chop potatoes and sweet potato. Boil in water with sea salt and garlic until soft (20 – 30 minutes). Once cooked, mash potatoes. Add nutritional yeast and vegan butter. Set aside.
- Add grapeseed oil to pan and heat for 1 -2 minutes. Add marinated tofu and mushrooms. Stir fry at low to medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add spinach. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
- Place cooked tofu, mushrooms and spinach as bottom layer in a large rectangular glass casserole dish.
- Add corn and cashew-cream of corn (recipe follows) as second layer.
- Add mashed potatoes as top layer, spreading evenly with a fork. Sprinkle paprika or cayenne on top.
- Place casserole in oven and bake at 350˚ F for 15-20 minutes.
How to Marinate Tofu or Tempeh:
This is a versatile technique to marinate tofu, tempeh or beans. In a large glass container, place tofu, beans or tempeh (crumbled for Shepherd’s Pie or chopped for other recipes) and the ingredients which follow. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours prior to cooking.
2 gloves of garlic – minced
3 tablespoons olive OR grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons unsalted Montreal steak spice
1 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons minced parsley
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
1 bay leaf
1 chopped onion (optional)
Cashew-Cream of Corn
½ cup raw cashews, pre-soaked for 2 hours, drained
1 cup water
1 garlic – minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon white or yellow miso
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cups organic corn (blended) and ¼ cup organic corn (whole)
- Blend all ingredients until creamy. Stir in remaining ¼ cup corn to creamy mixture.
- Add to Shepherd’s Pie or other recipe.
“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends”. ~George Bernard Shaw