Okay. So. You decided to take on a vegan, gluten-free diet. Here are three things you don’t get to have anymore:
Bread (mostly, unless you can find a really good brand that isn’t cardboard and gross)
Cheese (mostly, unless you can find a really good brand that isn’t rubbery and decidedly not food, as it resembles a petroleum by-product more than dairy)
Bacon (which we shouldn’t be eating anyway and seitan bacon is basically 100% gluten and smoke flavor and just a really bad idea)
So, suppose one day, you find yourself desperately craving the epitome of junky comfort food... grilled cheese with bacon?
(Am I the only person who used to love these? They were totally a treat in our house growing up, but man alive, I was a fan. A great big fan. A really big fan. Do you know what I’m saying? #BadChoices.) We also used to have Cheese Dreams*, which Michael recently informed me wasn’t a thing where he grew up. Do you remember these things? Like, open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches done in a broiler with tomato and bacon?
*sidebar: this is the first time I have ever typed the words ‘Cheese Dream’ together and I’m so grossed out, I’m laughing at how ridiculous a food it is. Who came up with this name?! Oh, and… I just Googled Cheese Dreams and learned you can also top them with pineapple and eggs. WTF.
OKAY. SO. This is not a Cheese Dream. It’s better. It’s vegan, it’s gluten-free, and it’s probably the most packaged, most processed thing on this blog. I’m okay with that. I’m not saying we should eat these daily (like, don’t swap out your smoothie for a grilled cheese), but this is a delicious way to get your bread and cheese (and meat?) on without feeling super icky.
Brand-wise, I’m a little loyal to Daiya when it comes to vegan cheese (not only are their ingredients pretty okay and the meltability is great, they’re Canadian!). We used Lite Life Tempeh Bacon in this version, but if you’re keen to make your own tempeh bacon, this recipe from Kathy Patalsky is one of my favorites. When it comes to gluten-free breads, I like any of the Foods for Life breads, particularly the Black Rice, Brown Rice or Millet Flour breads. I think it says something that their products need to live in the freezer (as opposed on the shelf like the Udi’s brand): they’re made without preservatives, which means their shelf life is shorter. And let’s be real: if bacteria can’t thrive on something, why should we think we can?
I used coconut oil to ‘butter’ either side of the bread, which also lends a tiny burst of rich flavor. If you don’t dig coconut oil, no worries: use whatever butter substitute you like (or olive oil), just please please please avoid margarine. Deal? Deal.
Make these as you would a traditional grilled cheese: ‘butter’ one side of each of your slices of bread. Place one, ‘buttered’ side down in a hot pan. Sprinkle on your cheese and layer in the tempeh bacon. Place second piece of bread on top. Press down with a spatula. Cook for 2-3 minutes on first side, and 2 minutes on second side until bread is browned and cheese is wonderfully gooey.
Have this with a blended carrot soup or green soup if you’re feeling like you want to balance it out with some nutrients; otherwise, just dig in and feel great that at least your grilled cheese comes without an animal price tag (and includes a bonus happier tummy).
- 2 slices gluten-free bread
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 4 slices tempeh bacon
- 1 tbsp Daiya cheese
- Make these as you would a traditional grilled cheese: ‘butter’ one side of each of your slices of bread. Place one, ‘buttered’ side down in a hot pan. Sprinkle on your cheese and layer in the tempeh bacon. Place second piece of bread on top. Press down with a spatula. Cook for 2-3 minutes on first side, and 2 minutes on second side until bread is browned and cheese is wonderfully gooey.