Biscuits and gravy, traditionally heavy on dairy and pork, is no one’s idea of a heart-healthy meal. “To lower cholesterol, you really want to focus on cutting back on animal fats,” says Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Swapping fiber-rich beans for the usual sausage is a move that subtracts ingredients that raise cholesterol while adding ones that help lower it.
“There’s so much flavor and protein in white beans and tempeh, and they can mimic the texture of meat,” Derocha notes. Using nondairy milk, vegan butter, and whole wheat flour helps cut saturated fat and cholesterol further. (If you don’t want to cook the tempeh, though, you can substitute your favorite store-bought plant-based breakfast sausage.)
Derocha notes that just because a butter is vegan doesn’t make it healthy; it still contains saturated fat, which can increase cholesterol. But a little goes a long way toward creating the flavor and texture you want from a biscuit. And when thinking about nutrition, it’s important to consider how a dish compares to what it’s replacing. This version of the classic still feels right for a celebratory brunch; its hearty flavor profile makes it a good candidate for Father’s Day.
The vegan gravy uses vegan chicken broth, such as Better Than Bouillon No Chicken, but you can also use water. Some vegetable broths add a grassy, vegetal flavor that’s less appealing here, though a mushroom broth can work. A small amount of salt balances the flavors in this dish—and you can adjust to your taste—but if your doctor has advised that you adjust your sodium intake, reduce as needed.
Note: You can make the gravy and tempeh ahead of time, but don’t mix them together until you are about to warm and serve. If the gravy has thickened too much, add a little water after it’s warmed. It’s best to make the biscuits just before serving, but you can double the recipe if you want to have extras on hand.
Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 425°.
Stir ½ cup soy milk and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar in a small mixing bowl to combine. Set aside.
Whisk ¾ cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup all-purpose flour, 1½ tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. sugar, ¼ tsp.baking soda, and ¼ tsp. kosher salt in a medium bowl to combine. Grate 4 Tbsp. frozen stick-style vegan butter into dry ingredients using the large holes of a box-style grater and mix with a fork until butter has broken into smaller bits and is well coated. Add soy milk mixture and continue stirring with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out onto a floured cutting board and shape into a roughly 5" square with a bench scraper. Cut dough into 4 square biscuits.
Arrange on a baking sheet, brush with soy milk, and bake until golden brown on bottom, 18–20 minutes.
Vegan white bean gravy
Purée one 15-oz. can Great Northern beans, rinsed, 1 cup vegan chicken broth, mushroom broth, or water, ½ cup soy milk, 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, and 1 Tbsp. white miso in a large liquid measuring cup with a stick blender until smooth (or use a regular blender).
Heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 small shallot, chopped, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 1 garlic clove, chopped, and 1 Tbsp. finely chopped sage and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add puréed bean mixture, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring and lowering heat as needed, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper and ¼ tsp. apple cider vinegar and season with salt. Keep warm while you make the tempeh crumbles.
Heat 1 Tbsp. canola oil in a 12" cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add one 8-oz. package tempeh, crumbled into ½" pieces, and cook, undisturbed, until well browned in some spots, 5–7 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, ¼ tsp. dried sage, ¼ tsp. dried thyme, ¼ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. onion powder, and ¼ tsp. smoked paprika and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until tempeh is well coated in the spices, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat, add 2 tsp. maple syrup, and stir to coat. Add crumbles to gravy and stir gently.
Cut biscuits in half. Arrange biscuit bottoms on a plate and top with gravy and tempeh mixture. Finish with biscuit tops, sprinkle with ¼ cup finely choppedchives and season with pepper.