Orange Veggie “Beef”

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Thanks goodness. Thank goodness. Thank goodness. I said it on Wednesday afternoon after my first friend texted me and asked, “Are your people in Springfield ok?” I said it Wednesday night before I went to bed. I said it Thursday morning after the magnitude of the situation set in, after I watched the Youtube videos and read the articles in the Times and on and in the Huffington Post. I said it yesterday afternoon after I learned that my greataunt had been driving in the storm and that my little cousin, at football practice with his teammates, frantically ran from the storm for cover…

I am from Springfield, MA, the town in Western Massachusetts that was hit by a tornado on Wednesday afternoon. And as Nana recounted, “You see this stuff on t.v., the devastation, the sadness, the wrath, but you never, ever think it will happen in your town. You just never think it will happen to you.

Luckily, although it did happen to my family, they are all–ALL–o.k. And it seems rather unbelievable to me. There was only a ten minute warning before the tornado hit. And it hit in the middle of rush hour traffic. Major parts of our city, one of the more impoverished towns in Western Mass as it is, have been “annihilated” to use my brother’s word. My heart goes out to the families and business owners who have to rebuild. My heart goes out to every person who witnessed the scene that I imagine must have absolutely terrifying (my greatgrandmother said she’s never–in all of her years–seen a storm like this). And my heart goes out to every person–everywhere–who has been privy to destruction–either man-made or natural.

This tornado also came on the heels of two other strange occurrences this week. First, my friend was on a bus trip from DC to NC and her bus driver had a seizure while driving. Amazingly, no one was hurt. That evening, a sick friend in NY was hospitalized after miraculously getting himself to the hospital in time for the doctors to confirm that he had an infection in his brain. If he would have waited just an hour longer, he may not be with us today.

As I write this, I’m tearing up. Life is so unpredictable. And on the one hand, that makes life pretty scary. But on the other hand, it makes me want to scream from the mountaintops, “I love you!” to all of my family and friends and to replay my blessings in my head and in my heart over and over and over again.

One of my friends claims, “Tiffany, there’s not a message in everything!” But, I am respectfully, and publicly, going to disagree with her. I truly believe if you listen, listen with your eyes, and your heart, and your ears, and your feelings, listen to the patterns in your life, you can hear a higher message. Right now, I’m hearing a reminder to express gratitude, for and in, every facet of my life and to encourage others to do the same. Because as the old saying goes, “tomorrow is not promised.” After the past seven days, I’m thinking the adage should be, “the next moment is not promised.”

Now Onto la comida! This Orange Veggie “Beef” is the next dish in my Friday Lightlife series. Although I haven’t actually had beef since 1994, I was craving orange beef as soon as I saw the package of Lightlife steak strips. I am not sure if my version is authentically Chinese, but it’s tasty, so I think it’s ok :D. I served it with rice cooked in vegetable broth and beer-braised sugar snap peas. And in the spirit of appreciating friends, I am dedicating this and my next post to two of my most awesome foodies friends–Nami and Manu. This one’s dedicated to Nami. She is the queen of Japanese and other pan-Asian food… Stay tuned to my next post, which will be dedicated to Manu (the queen of Italian food!).

Orange Veggie “Beef” (Printable Recipe)


1 package Lightlife Steak Strips

juice from 1 orange

zest from 1 orange

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Tamari (or soy sauce)

2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

2 cloves garlic–minced

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 dry chile

1-inch chunk fresh ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce


*Add veggie meat strips to a medium sized bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add steak strips. Saute for 5 minutes until warmed all the way through. Set aside.

*In the same frying pan, turn the heat to medium low. Add the dried chile and the ginger. Infuse the oil with the flavors, by letting the chile and ginger steep in the oil while you prepare the sauce. Turn periodically.

*In a small bowl, mix orange juice, Tamari, vinegar, and remaining cornstarch. Set aside. Add minced garlic to frying pan. Saute until soft. Remove chile and ginger from oil. Stir orange juice mixture into the oil and garlic. Stir until the sauce thickens and gets shiny. Stir in the zest and the sweet chili sauce (reserve some for garnish). Stir in the veggie beef. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice and veggies (I served with beer-braised sugar snap peas!).

Written by

Tiffany M. Griffin is the woman behind Como Water, Washington DC’s premiere veg-centric cuisine consulting company. Through cooking classes, demonstrations, catering, and consultations, Como Water gives people the opportunity to learn how to prepare veg-centric cuisine that boasts maximum flavor, with minimal effort. Tiffany is quickly becoming a go-to expert on the future of veg-centric cuisine, and is a regular contributor to Como Water, the blog, as well as to vegetarian and vegan sites across the Internet. For over a decade, this self-taught, entrepreneurial expert has developed a set of tried and true techniques for making simple, delicious, and sometimes decadent veg-centric dishes. Featured on the Steve Harvey Show and other leading media outlets, Tiffany was born and raised in Springfield, MA. She then earned Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Communications from Boston College and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. She now resides in Washington DC, where she has worked in the US Senate and at a federal agency on issues around health, food, nutrition, and international food aid/development, and of course, as the owner of Como Water. Tiffany gets culinary inspiration from the food she grew up eating, and from her travels throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. She is dedicated to sharing her wealth of knowledge on veg-centric cuisine with others and to help others live by her mantra—love life, live long, and eat veg-centric cuisine!


  1. Thanks for this tasty post, I like sesame beef but was kind of getting tired of that dish. You also flavored up your rice, which is an extra bonus. Buzzed this.

  2. First, your dish does look fantastic. What a great combination of flavors. Of course, anything with garlic and ginger always perks my interest.

    Second, thank goodness your family is ok and no one experienced the devastation first-hand, though now they have to support friends who have lost a lot, I’m sure. And how hard that must be. My cousin has a cabin on Wilbraham Mountain and it’s just gone, all gone. At least no one was there.

  3. Goodness girl! I’m so SO glad all your people are okay. I grew up in Oklahoma and have witnessed a nasty tornado or two so I know just how scary they can be. I’m also glad to hear you’re friends are okay as well…weird stuff!

    Awesome recipe, you’re the queen of ninja ‘veggie’ dishes 🙂

  4. So glad you’re okay! You’re right, life can change in an instant. I keep trying harder and harder to tell the ones I love how I feel, focus on the present and be grateful for every moment I’m alive and well.

  5. I just want to tell you how happy I am to hear that your family is ok. I live only 20 minutes away from Springfield and it was quite a scary experience. Luckily my town wasn’t in the storms direct path though. My heart goes out to your family and all of our fellow neighbors in the effected areas!

    On another note – thank you for your fabulous recipe once again! You surprise me every week with what you create 🙂

    Lightlife Team Member

    • I didn’t know you were in Western MA! And so glad you liked the dish!

  6. I’ve never tried Veggie Beef Strips but I have to say your pictures makes it look very appetizing! I always see them in the store and never tried them but this makes me want to!

    As for the tornado I’m glad to read everyone is O.K. I know a whole group of people out there that are struggling with power outages etc. My one gf’s work building is no longer there. They are so bad this year. Every tornado that has hit I’ve either had friends or family affected.

  7. I’m glad your friends and family are okay. We’ve been really worried about the communities there, and it’s so close to home.

    Have a good weekend.

  8. Oh my! You’re having a hum dinger of a week too! If you lived down the street, I’d invite you over for some of that ice cream I made at midnight the other night. Hope your weekend is calm and uneventful.

  9. Hi Tiffany! First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about the disaster. I am still recovering my depressed feelings from the Tsunami/Earthquake in Japan and my sincere sympathy goes to people in the area and their family & friends. I’m glad your family & friends are safe. Thank goodness. Your Nana is right. We never know. We appreciate our life more from these unfortunate events. Secondly, your orange veggie beef looks delicious! I’m bookmarking for this delicious orange sauce! Hey I don’t even have Tamari in my house! Hehee. I like finding cool Japanese condiment there. And lastly, you are so sweet Tiffany. I’m so touched by your kind thoughts and mention of me. Thank you so much from bottom of my heart.

  10. Oh wow, this looks sooo good! On another note, so glad your fam & friends are safe and I totally agree – there is always a message if you listen closely!

  11. This sounds hearty and wonderful, I love the recipe!

  12. Whew, I’m so glad your family in Springfield is OK…I agree with your message…we must live each day to the fullest. Now on to your recipe! It just makes my mouth water…of course, I would most likely tweak the protein…but it is truly a gorgeous and inspiring dish!

  13. Tiff, I think your Orange Veggie “Beef’ is amazing. But I have to concur with you about a message in everything. You are 1000% right. Horrendous things happen all the time and I think it’s a reminder to all of us to sieze the moment, count our blessings and live life to the fullest. I’m so happy that your friends and family are OK. Never lose sight of that blessing. Connect with them as often as you can and live your life with no regrets. Get to work on that bucket list girl!

  14. I am so sorry to read about the tornado that hit your town. It must have been a terrifying experience for the people there and you must have been so worried for your family and friends! 10 minutes is such a short notice to take cover!!! You are so right… we often take important things and people for granted and then everything could be over in a few minutes! Scary thought isn’t it???
    I am so glad that all your loved ones are ok and I feel close to all the people who have to rebuild!!!

    As for the above recipe… it looks so yummy… I love tangy food and citrus! And now I am soooooo excited to read your next post!!! I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!! Thanks for thinking of me Tiff! Have a great weekend my friend! <3

  15. A more thing… there’s something waiting for you here:

    Have a great weekend!

  16. You did a fabulous job with this dish. I mean it looks like you got it from a restaurant. WOW! I don’t eat beef so I will definitely give this one a go. Wonderful!!! : )

  17. I agree with you on all counts. Today is a gift. Enjoy it, while I am enjoying your orange beef. It looks wonderful. I bookmarked it. I think my family will love it.

  18. Hi Tiffany, Just saw your post via Nami’s facebook. I am so sorry that you have to go through storm, but I am so glad that your family is alright! My thoughts and prayers are going in hope for the fast recovery!!!!
    I do also agree with you on every level, it is so true that you can always hear something higher! And I do agree that both Nami and Manu are queens of their cousins! Your orange beef looks fantastic, very tempting and I can’t believe that you had cravings after so many years!!!

  19. Mmmmm this looks so delicious! I wish we had these kind of beef strips here (perhaps there is something similar, you never know). In any case, I could definitely do this with seitan and I’m sure it would be delicious. Thanks for sharing! I’m also happy to hear that all is OK with your family.

  20. I’m flabbergasted at how active this season has been for tornadoes. Thank goodness you were not affected. Life is precious and thanks for reminding us that we need to be grateful for all our blessings, and share that with those nearest and dearest to us. Your stir fry looks so appetizing to this omnivore!

  21. THANK GOD your family is OK! I can’t believe just how fast you can lose everything that you’ve got. :(( My prayers and thoughts are with all the victims.

    The dish looks fabulous!! I love the combo of flavors…chile sauce, garlic, orange…. that’s a fantastic blend!

  22. My thoughts go out to you, and your family! I am so happy to hear you are okay! My family lives in a town that does not get tornado’s normally, and yet the other day they got tornado’s. My family is okay, but it was scary to hear of course. You never know, so the way I live my life every day, is to the fullest! I live my life like it may be my last, and enjoy every moment I am given:-)

    You recipe sounds divine! I haven’t had orange chicken or beef in awhile, so may need to try it again soon!

    Sending love and hugs,

  23. Tiffany, happy to hear that your family is ok….
    Recipe sound fantastic and I have to try it. Love your rice and how you add peppers….nice photo presentation as always:)

  24. I just love orange and this looks fantastic!

  25. I am not a vegetarian, but this looks simply delicious…! Veggie meats are getting better and better nowadays…:)!

  26. I’m so glad everyone in your family is ok. I live close to NYC, and I’m always thinking ‘I’m so glad it’s virtually natural disaster free here’. Well..the Springfield tornado proves it can happen anywhere!

    On a disaster free note, your orange beef looks spectacular, so glad to find your blog via my guest post!

  27. So happy to hear that everyone is okay! It’s amazing how unpredictable life is… in an instant a life can be lost or gained. But it’s good to know that it’s a-okay in your part of the world =)

    This meal looks super tasty by the way

  28. Hi, really relieving to know that all is well with your family! Life is precious, so we should try and enjoy life to its fullest with those who matter for us!
    Tiffany, great recipe and I loved the photographs!!

  29. I can’t believe all of the natural disasters that have been occurring lately. My heart goes out to all those affected.

    On a happier note, I’m loving these traditional meat-y recipes re-created with Lightlife! I’ve explored the “chicken” products but have been hesitant about trying the “beef.” This looks like a great place for me to start! 🙂

  30. I’m so glad you’re all ok down there. It seems never ending, like one disaster after another! I agree with you life is one big message that you can choose to ignore or be part of. Thanks for my birthday song! And that “beef” looks so sticky sweet & delish!! 😀

  31. This looks really good. I recommended your site to a friend Thursday. She was telling me she used to vegetarian, but stopped because she couldn’t find any good recipes. She said that she was going to start again she just needed a couple of sites for recipes. When I showed her your site she was drooling. Kept saying I am going to make that and this too. Keep up the good work

    • WOAH! This is a HUGE! compliment! 😀 Thanks!!!

  32. I am glad that your family and friends are OK…so frightening.
    As for the dish…my youngest son is a fiend for orange chicken and eats red meat once in awhile, so I am sure he will want to see this 🙂

  33. Wow!! So glad to hear that everyone is OK. How scary!
    This dinner looks great!

  34. Simply delicious. Very nice, and I like the rice as well!

  35. Thank goodness your family and friends are all alright!! I really was so shocked about the tornado as well. All day Wednesday I kept joking about the tornado warning in our area, but who knew it would really happen?? Life (and nature) can be really un-funny sometimes.

  36. this looks amazing. i love your photos!!

  37. Beautiful! I’m in love with this!

  38. Thank you everyone for your comments!

  39. Tiffany this sounds amazing! So much better than regular beef ;)! I love all of the flavor elements you have added to this, I need to try it!

  40. The sauce on this looks so delicious! I’m glad everyone you know and love (including yourself!) is safe. Theresa

  41. Yum! looks delicious! Very “beef”like 🙂

  42. This is very creative and looks yummy…