Spork Foods: Kitchen Must Haves, Favorite Ingredients and Recipes


Spork Foods: Kitchen Must Haves, Favorite Ingredients and Recipes and Why They Went Vegan Sixteen Years ago

Interview with Los Angeles-based Spork Foods Founders Heather Bell and Jenny Engel on their kitchen must haves!

Q: What can’t you live without in the kitchen?

A: A great sharp knife! It allows you to cut things properly, be comfortable, and not waste a lot of time in the kitchen. A flimsy knife causes you to do a lot more work and be way less effective. Also, a dull knife causes you to cut yourself more often, and we want none of that! It can sound counterintuitive, but that’s really what happens. When knife shopping, what you’re looking for is that the blade goes through the entire knife, even into the handle. Usually, you can see it on the handle on the other end if it’s not one solid piece of steel.

Q: Five of your favorite ingredients?

A: The VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart, Worcestershire Sauce by The Wizard’s, any and all spices by Frontier because they are organic and non-irradiated, Sherry Vinegar by Napa Valley Naturals, and Brown Rice Syrup by Lundberg.

Q: How long have you both been vegan?

A: We’ve been vegan for 16 years and counting. Loving every second of it!

Q: Why is it important to you?

A: We were both motivated to go vegan in college, while studying environmental studies. We first made the connection between our food choices and how leading a non-vegan lifestyle was devastating to the environment. From there we went on to learn even more about how going vegan was also an incredible statement about animal welfare/anti-cruelty and was great for our health while supporting our core ethical beliefs. We love animals, ourselves, and the planet—those are the biggest reasons why this lifestyle is important to us. Los Angeles-based Spork Foods is a gourmet vegan food company owned and operated by sisters Heather Bell and Jenny Engel. They offer vegan organic cooking classes, chef trainings, recipe development, and private chef work in Los Angeles and worldwide. Their cookbook, Spork-Fed, is currently in stores. They teach all over the country and the world reaching over 10,000 people a year. One of the best parts about traveling, in our humble opinion, is tasting new foods! When Jenny traveled to Jamaica, she loved trying traditional Rastafarian Ital food—fresh coconuts, and plantains galore. But the one dish no one had veganized was the jerk coleslaw. We had to get to work creating our own version when she got back. We’ve been told it’s very authentic and delish, with a little vegan West Hollywood spin!

jerk coleslaw

Jerk Coleslaw with Plantain Strips

Serves 6-8


½ large head purple cabbage

½ large head green cabbage

Dressing Ingredients

3 cloves roasted garlic

1 cup vegan mayonnaise

2 tbsp fresh lime juice, plus grated zest of 1 lime

2 tsp fresh chives, finely chopped

2 heaping teaspoons jerk seasoning blend

½ tsp sea salt, plus to taste

½ tsp finely ground black pepper, plus to taste

Plantain Strip Ingredients

2 tablespoons neutral tasting high-heat oil

1 large green plantain

Dash garlic powder


Slice purple cabbage in half. Shred by placing flat portion on cutting board. Make even, small slices into cabbage until well chopped. Repeat for green cabbage. Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

For the Dressing

Chop garlic and place in a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, chives, jerk seasoning, sea salt, and black pepper. Whisk until uniform.

For the Plantain Strips

Heat a sauté pan and add oil. Remove plantain from peel. Using a peeler, make long strips lengthwise along plantain. Add strips to oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until crisp. Place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Season to taste with sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Toss cabbage with dressing until well coated. To serve, top with plantain strips.

Note: Shred cabbage quickly in a food processor using the slicing blade attachment.


Southwest Black Bean and Corn Mini Burgers with a Smoky Paprika Cashew Cheese


Black Bean Burger Ingredients

1 tbsp neutral tasting high-heat oil, plus 2 tbsp

½ large onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

½ cup corn, fresh or frozen

½ large red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped

Dash sea salt, plus ½ teaspoon

¼ tsp finely ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed

¼ tsp chipotle powder

1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp agave nectar

¾ cup rolled oats

1 cup bread crumbs or 2 slices spelt bread

Whole grain mini burger buns

Ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, tomato, and lettuce (optional)

Cashew Cheese Ingredients *Optional (Gluten-Free)

¾ cup cashews

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp sea salt

2 tsp agave nectar

½ tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp neutral tasting oil

¼ cup unsweetened almond or soymilk

1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and finely chopped


Preheat large (6-quart) pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add corn, bell pepper, dash of sea salt, and black pepper. Cook until mixture is slightly browned,about 3-4 minutes, and set aside.

In a food processor, combine black beans, chipotle powder, ½ teaspoon sea salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and agave. Pulse together 5-8 times. Add oats and bread crumbs or spelt bread. Pulse until uniform, scraping down sides to further incorporate into food processor. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add cooked onion and pepper mixture to bowl and fold into veggie burger mixture. 

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add remaining oil. With damp hands, form burgers into patties and place in heated pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Serve on a toasted mini bun with cashew cheese, if using, and desired toppings!

For the cashew cheese: In a large food processor or high-powered blender, pulse cashews, garlic powder, sea salt, agave, paprika, oil, almond or soymilk and lemon juice. Blend until smooth and uniform, scraping down sides of machine as needed. Fold in thyme once mixture is creamy.

Strawberry Shortcakes with a Coconut Whipped Cream Topping (gluten-free)

Serves 6-7


Strawberry Ingredients

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced, plus more for garnish

¹/³ cup evaporated cane sugar

1 tsp lemon juice, plus grated zest of ½ lemon

½ tsp vanilla extract

Shortcake Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp non-aluminum baking powder

1 tbsp egg replacer, dry (Ener-g brand)

2 tbsp evaporated cane sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners brand)

¼ tsp sea salt

¹/³ cup non-hydrogenated buttery spread (Earth Balance brand)

¾ cup unsweetened almond milk, plus 1 teaspoon

unfiltered apple cider vinegar, curdled

2 tbsp maple syrup, for brushing

Coconut Whipped Cream Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can regular coconut milk (not light),

refrigerated overnight

2 tsp maple syrup

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss together strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Set aside.

For the Shortcakes

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, egg replacer, sugar, and sea salt. Use a pastry cutter to incorporate butter until mixture is coarse and crumbly. Create a well in center of dough and add curdled almond or soymilk. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.

On a floured cutting board, roll out dough, and use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (or use cooking spray), and brush with maple syrup. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the Coconut Whipped Cream 

Refrigerating the can overnight allows the coconut cream to separate from the coconut water. So when you open it, hold the can steady and be careful not to shake it.

With a spatula or spoon, remove only cream from top and discard coconut water. Place coconut cream, maple syrup, sea salt, and vanilla extract in a standing mixer and mix on high for about 1 minute, or mix by hand vigorously whisking for 4½ minutes. 

Let shortcakes cool partially and slice each in half horizontally, creating two layers, like a hamburger bun. Place tablespoon strawberries on bottom layer of biscuit. Dollop with coconut whipped cream and place, “lid” portion of shortcake on top. Garnish with strawberries, if desired.