National Vegan Month: Q & A with Flower Child’s Brad Borchardt

In honor of National Vegan Month, Brad Borchardt, director of Culinary Standards at Flower Child, talks about ways you can infuse vegan dining into your everyday eats and for your holiday table. (Plus, Flower Child is dishing up a delish Vegan Ramen Bowl in honor of this special month that you won’t want to miss!)
What are some easy-to-find vegan-friendly ingredients to keep stocked in the pantry or fridge?
I like to have nutritional yeast, coconut aminos, premium Japanese soy sauce, aged balsamic and a few of my favorite hot sauces. These are all vegan flavor boosters for savory foods.
What do you consider the most nutritious vegan ingredients?
Seaweed is my super food of choice! It’s an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, nutritional yeast, tofu and nut and seed butters are close behind.
What are some ways to make vegan dishes appealing to meat eaters?
I like to make vegetables the star of the show and often prepare them as you would meat dishes.  Grilled butternut squash “steaks” are a fall time favorite of mine. In the case of our Vegan Ramen Bowl, a November special at Flower Child, I decided to replace the traditional ground pork with tofu.  To accomplish this, I grind the tofu, and cook it in a sauté pan to caramelize. Then I add green onions, garlic and ginger. Once aromatic, I add tamari and sake. The resulting crumble is packed with umami and texture – you won’t even miss the pork!
How do you make tofu delicious?
Tofu is easy to make delicious because it takes on flavor so well. My favorite preparation is to grill extra firm tofu and baste it with Korean BBQ sauce. I then use that in tacos or to top rice bowls. The result of this process is deep charred smoky goodness!
How can traditional holiday dishes be made vegan?
There are some great recipes for simple side dishes that are full of flavor. Vegan mashed potatoes, for instance – made with vegan butter, coconut cream and olive oil – are still rich and creamy. However, for one of my favorite holiday vegan dishes, you can take a whole kobocha squash, split in half, and stuff with a vegan chestnut stuffing. Roast whole and carve just as you would a turkey. You can make a gravy from mushroom stock thickened with potato starch and chopped fresh herbs. It’s show stopping!
How do you create decadent holiday desserts sans dairy?
Spiced tofu pumpkin pie is as satisfying as the traditional dish. Or, try this spin on apple pie: cinnamon baked apples stuffed with walnuts, dates, and top with pomegranate syrup and fresh pomegranate seeds.

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