Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A few of my (current) favorite things

Some vegan things I'm thankful for this year:
Clementines. Tart and sweet and oh so orange-y. I pop 'em like candy.

Frozen fruit. Since I have a smoothie almost every day, I keep a wide variety of fruit in my freezer so I can make whatever suits my fancy. Blueberry cherry, cherry banana, strawberry mango, I could go on and on and on.

I've blogged about this stuff before. It's really awesome. I like it in blended up oatmeal, but it also makes a mean pumpkin pie.

In defiance of the Whole Paycheck theory, WF brand shampoo, conditioner and bodywash are the cheapest I've found anywhere (about $2.50 a bottle). They're also free of animal products and parabens, have not been tested on animals, and work pretty darn well.

Oatmeal! Sometimes I have it twice a day.

I make my own chai tea lattes, without the honey (or $3+ price tag).

So flavorful. Compare this to Libby's and it's night and day.

A scoop a day keeps the protein deficiency away.

Simple ingredients, really good.

I thought I hated almond milk, I actually just hated Almond Breeze. This is creamy and pleasantly almond-y.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yet more cheap and easy stuff

First off, a shout-out for Happy Herbivore's new cookbook Pudge Free
Holidays. If you haven't gotten it, or the last Sneak Peak book, go
right now! They're both full of awesome, healthy recipes (several of
which I've happily tested). I really need to make that pumpkin bread again...

Another blog shout-out for the Chocolate Covered Vegan. Her recipes
are so clever, I ended up eating two of them yesterday! I've been
blending up my oatmeal all the time since this post, and I adore it in all
kinds of ways. I've always liked oatmeal as-is, but now that I can make
it into a rich creamy pudding I've become a full-on oatmeal addict. A
couple weeks ago I was making dessert oatmeal with cocoa powder and
MimicCreme. Yesterday for breakfast I cooked the oats in unsweetend
almond milk and blended them up with a big dollop of pumpkin, half a
banana, and some pumpkin pie spice. Wowza. For dessert, I tried my
hand at apple pie pudding. I've never used agar before, and was a bit
skeptical that this would work, but it really does! Another yummy,
creamy (and super healthy) treat. I made two servings and had one for
breakfast this morning. CCV gets my undying admiration for coming up
with two dishes that reach that elusive goal of being both healthy
enough and tasty enough to qualify as both breakfast and dessert.
Since I've told you so much about what I ate yesterday, I might as well
tell you about lunch. I've had a can of small white beans sitting on my
shelf for too long, so I made a salad out of them. I mashed up the
beans with 2 tsp of flax oil and added dried basil, salt, rosemary,
garlic and onion powder to taste. Plus a handful of dried cranberries,
this actually makes a really good sandwich on whole wheat bread with
lettuce. Economical, too!I brought my sandwich and cup o' raw veggies (organic celery, tomatoes
and carrots this week) to work, and ended up taking it with me to a
restaurant with my co-workers. It made me realize how far I've come
since going vegan back in January. I didn't feel self conscious at all,
and certainly not deprived - watching them eat their super-greasy pizza
(with pepperoni, blech) just made me feel a little queasy. Not too long
ago the situation would have raised some anxieties for me, but I'm much
more comfortable now. Yay! I like that I've been vegan for long enough
now that people accept that it's not just some phase I'm going through.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saturday in the kitchen

I was trying to remember what I did this weekend, and then realized, right, I spent most of Saturday cooking. I felt sorta gipped - I didn't end up with a lot of leftover food in my fridge to show for all of it - but everything was very good.

The day started off with my new favorite pancakes - banana-berry breakfast cakes from Ricki. These are everything I've been looking for in a vegan pancake. They're super big and fluffy (my picture doesn't do them justice), really flavorful, AND healthy. I was just blown away by them, I'll definitely be trying out more of Ricki's recipes (and the cookbook when it comes out).
Next, I ended up making a mini-Thanksgiving dinner. Woops. This will be my first Thanksgiving as a vegan, and my mom and sister banded together and created a menu to please everyone. I have been assigned to make the stuffing, and was given a recipe to follow. I feel like I've been given marching orders! Since everyone is taking this meal so seriously, I wanted to test out the recipe in advance. I hate when I make something for company and end up thinking "next time I'll put more of (whatever) in and it'll be even better." Turns out the recipe is great on its own, I just need to chop up everything a little smaller next time! My mom got it from Prevention, I think. It's a basic whole-wheat, low-fat stuffing with chopped hazelnuts, dried cherries, and dried apricots.

Since I didn't want to have stuffing by itself for dinner, I figured I'd finally try my hand at making seitan. I really don't like the stuff that comes in a box, and I've had mixed reactions to seitan entrees at restaurants, but I like the idea of another non-soy protein source. I made V'con's simple seitan, and I really like it! After the simmering I baked it for 20 minutes with some orange juice and agave nectar (that's how my mom always cooked chicken, except with honey). Quite good. While it certainly is simple, it ain't fast - the hour of simmering means I probably won't be making seitan very often, but I plan to make a double batch sometime soon and freeze it.

So now we've got orange "chicken," stuffing, why not add some steamed green beans?
None of this was particularly hard to make, but the stuffing and seitan were time consuming. Also dish consuming - think I used every pot and pan and baking dish about three times.

I didn't get a picture of it, but I went even further with the T-day theme and made Susan V's double-layer pumpkin cheesecake. I've been wanting to try out this recipe for a long time and I'm so glad I did, it's yummy! I brought it to a birthday party and didn't tell anyone it was vegan until they started asking me for the recipe. Hee.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Pumpkin Smoothie

It's a veggie for breakfast! It's healthy but tastes like dessert! It'll give your blender fits, but really, the exercise it good for it.
Blend until smooth:
-1 cup unsweetened soymilk
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-half of a frozen banana
-1 or 2 tsp maple syrup
-1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
-4 ice cubes

Mmmm. Trader Joe's canned pumpkin is spectacular - it's the only canned pumpkin I could happily eat as-is. I'm going to try and stock up, since they only offer it seasonally.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Green Festival

Last weekend (I'm way behind in my blogging, eek) I volunteered with COK (I know, the acronym is unfortunate!) at the DC Green Festival. It was a really cool event with tons of different things to check out - sustainable clothing and gifts, bath products, travel agencies, charitable organizations and lots of different food vendors. I got samples of products ranging from dish soap to gluten free crackers. I even got a free can of pureed sweet potatoes!

It was nice to be speaking about veganism to such a receptive audience for a change. Nearly all of the people who came by our table were vegan, vegetarian, or open to the idea. We gave out lots of veg guides to DC, vegetarian starter kits, and easy recipe pamphlets. We also talked to a lot of vegetarians and omnivores about the realities of the dairy industry. For a visual aid, we had an actual battery cage on our table, showing how awful conditions are for the 5-8 birds who spend their lives crammed into one.

In addition to all the food-types that were tabling, there was food for sale from Java Green, Soul Vegetarian, Nirvana, and a bunch of other local places. I got a plate from Soul Vegetarian with veggie pot roast, mac & cheese, collards, and cornbread. Their mac & cheese is unbelievably rich and creamy, I don't know how they do it.
The big treat, though, was Wheeler's Black Label ice cream. Sooooo good. It was almost cruel of them to introduce us to it, since there's no place to buy it anywhere near here. I got rocky road and maple pecan (the maple pecan is hiding at the bottom of the cup). Absoultely amazing.

Berry Energy Bowl

At three different cafe's around town now, I've seen acai energy bowls on offer. I had one at Mint, and liked it a lot, but felt like a sucker paying $7 for something so simple.

This simple version, even paying through the nose for the berries at my corner store, is half the price and just as good. OB says it's like cold, fruity yogurt and is a big fan.
To make one serving, blend a cup of non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened soy) with about a cup of frozen berries (i.e. blueberries and cherries, blackberries and strawberries, etc.) until smooth. Add more berries if you want it thicker, or put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up. Top with 1/4 cup of granola and banana slices. Ta da!

If you use blueberries, it'll turn your tongue blue.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Vegan a Go-Go Party with COK

On Monday, COK held a great event at Science Club. There were samples from their new vegan menu offerings, and Sarah Kramer mingling and signing copies of her new book (which everyone got a copy of). It was so cool to be surrounded by 100 like-minded people. I even met someone who was interested in my blog - hi Michelle!

I didn't have my camera with me, so all I've got is a crappy phone pic of Sarah. She was extremely friendly and easy to talk to, and she made a nice little speech.
Science Club hasn't updated it's menu online yet, but the vegan food is available now. We sampled black bean burgers, quinoa tabbouleh, and stuffed mushrooms. The food was flying off the plates as fast as the servers could bring it out, and it was all great! I heard a couple times that the tofu skewers were amazing, but couldn't get my hands on one. For desert there were giant trays of cookies and brownies from Sticky Fingers. Ugg. So good.

My signed copy of Vegan a Go-Go:
I don't have any of Sarah's other books, though I've flipped through them a couple times. Having read through this one, I really like it! It's definitely my kind of cookbook - everything is quick and easy, with mostly cheap ingredients. It's teeny-tiny so you can bring it with you anywhere, which is a great idea. Next time I visit my parents I won't have to plan ahead and copy recipes out on paper. There are lots of things I want to try out, but I made this first:It's Fresh & Fancy Raw-Slaw. I've been bringing soup to work for lunch for weeks now, this is a nice change of pace. I've never had raw sweet potato before, it's surprisingly good!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dr. Cow is coming to town

I've been hearing about Dr. Cow's vegan cheese for months now, but figured I wouldn't get to try it until I took a trip to New York. Then I found out I could get it just a couple miles from OB, and promptly made him take me to the weekend-only public storefront for The Vegan Store.

I think all the hype about this stuff is the equivalent of hearing how scary a movie is - you always end up disappointed. OB actually opened up the little wheel and bit into it before we left the store (the shopkeeper seemed alarmed). While this is definitely eat-as-is cheese, it's not eat-on-it's-own-in-big-bites cheese, at least for me. It has an acidic, Parmesan flavor. Or at least this variation does - there's many varieties, but The Vegan Store only carries the aged cashew (for now).We took it home and put it on crackers, with pomegranate seeds. Much much better. Actually really really good. It grew on both of us as we were eating it. It's definitely good enough to serve to company and would be great to put out with appetizers at a dinner party. I think you could fool a lot of people if you don't mention it's vegan.

I still can't believe I didn't know how close by The Vegan Store was all this time! I'll have to go back prepared with a list - they have a tiny storefront with a few products out, but if you know what you want they'll bring anything available on the website out from the warehouse for you. Any suggestions on things to try?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Let's go Phillies!

This past weekend my dad took me to game three of the World Series. I'm originally from Philly and my family still lives there, so I've been a Phillies fan all my life. The last time they made it to the big show I was in 6th grade, we are so due! Despite a two hour rain delay and generally miserable weather, we had a great time. There's nothing quite like being part of a happy mob of 45,000+.

Adding to the fun - vegan cheesesteak! As this article notes, the Phillie's ballpark has lots of vegan food offerings, so many that it was named North America's Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballpark. Sweeet. While I think it's great that they have vegan burgers and hotdogs (the sign at the concessions stand even says that they're vegan!) a vegan cheesesteak sounded like more fun. The Rick's steaks stand offers vegan chickensteak and regular steak (sadly no soy cheese, so it's really a steak sandwhich, not a cheesesteak). My dad was awesome enough to wait in line with me, in the rain, for the better part of an hour so I could get mine. Not like there's anything better to do during a rain delay, right?
The last time I went to a game I got the regular steak, so this time I tried the chicken. They're both yummy, but I think the chicken has the edge. You can customize your sandwhich and I piled it all on - onions, mushrooms, peppers and pizza sauce (aka The Works). All on the classic Philly steak sandwhich roll.
The perfect food to get me through to 2 am, cheering my lungs out!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jaime's peanut butter cookies

I got the best surprise ever in the mail yesterday - a box of vegan peanut butter cookies, baked by my best friend! She moved across the country a few months ago, and I miss her terribly. She wrapped these up tightly and they stayed moist and yummy on their journey.
She included the recipe, and since these are crazy good I'll share it with you:

Combine 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt. In another bowl mix 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup olive oil, and 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix the wet and dry together until just combined. Let sit 5 minutes. Give it two quick stirs and spoon onto parchment covered cookie sheets. Bake 10-11 minutes at 350.

She dusted the tops with brown sugar, very fancy. These are quite possibly the best vegan cookies I've ever had!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Give a girl a sugar pumpkin...

...and she'll be eating pumpkin all week. One little pumpkin goes a long way!

For dinner the other night I made Curried Pumpkin Cream Sauce. It came out super rich and creamy, like an autumnal vegan alfredo.

-flesh from 1/2 of a roasted sugar pumpkin (about 2 cups)
-1 cup unsweetened MimicCreme (you could substitute any non-dairy milk, but you'll lose the richness)
-1 tbsp curry powder
-1/2 tsp ground coriander
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp salt
-dash black pepper
-1 lb. fettuccine (I used whole wheat)
-4 vegan sausage patties (I used Whole Food's brand)

1. Slice the pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds and stringy stuff and put on a lightly greased baking sheet, cut side down. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, until very soft.
2. Scoop out flesh from one half and place in a medium saucepan(save the other half for another time).
3. Add all other ingredients and blend with an immersion blender. Add more creme if you want it thinner.
4. Simmer the sauce at medium-low for about ten minutes, till heated through.
4. While the sauce is cooking, boil pasta and heat sausages in a pan.
5. Mix sauce with pasta. Crumble sausage with a fork and mix in.It kind of looks like barf, I know. But I swear it tasted awesome. And MimicCreme is my new favorite thing - so so rich with such simple ingredients!

With the leftover pumpkin I tested an iced pumpkin bread recipe for an upcoming Happy Herbivore cookbook. If I didn't know better I'd swear this had a cup of oil in it. Way too good to still be so healthy!Slice being devoured. Hee.

I still have about 1/2 a cup of pumpkin left!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I know I'm behind the times, but how awesome are Lindsay's carrot cake cupcakes?
Sooo yummy, with gobs of cream cheese icing. It really doesn't seem possible that these are vegan, whole wheat, and low fat. Can't wait to make them again!

Sheese-y breakfast

Thanks to My Organic Market, I got to try Sheese. Definitely the best vegan cheese I've tried so far - blows the FYH cheddar out of the water, in my opinion. It's good on all its own, right from the package.
I made a sheese-themed breakfast featuring sheese-y tofu scramble (grated on top at the end) and sheese-y black beans (put a can of beans in a pan, added grated sheese, heated through). Mmmmm. OB went a step further and had sliced sheese on toast alongside.

Isn't he cute?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

is it lunch time yet?

Here's what I've packed for lunch tomorrow, using my nifty new stainless steel lunch kit.
In the main bowl, a whole lot of carrots and grape tomatoes with a drizzle of flax oil, a big shake of nootch, and a pinch of kosher salt. I love having all kinds of raw veggies this way - covers the omega-3 and B-12 bases while adding great flavor. In the top tray, some whole wheat pita bread cut up small. Off to the side, a cup of french lentil soup from a V'con recipe (but of course). I've made this soup so many times now I don't even have to think about it, and it's great to play around with a vary. This time I used brown lentils instead of french, since that's what I had on hand, and it's still awesome. The apple is local - yay for apple season!

I need to find a cuter container for the soup...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad Blogger

I've been cooking (and eating, yay!) but not photographing. Oops. Here are some words about food, at least.

For a potluck dinner this past weekend, Omnivorous Boyfriend and I made Veganomicon's eggplant potato moussaka with pine nut cream. It was a huge hit. We both liked it and got lots of complements at the party - even after people knew it was vegan. The whole tray disappeared quickly.

We got all the vegetables that morning from the neighborhood farmer's market, which made it extra good. It's a lot more involved that my standard cooking - roasting tons of vegetables, making sauce, making the cream, then assembling and baking the casserole. I was very glad to have a sous-chef on hand and to be working in a nice big kitchen with lots of counter space. I wouldn't dare make this in my little kitchen. So lot's of effort involved in this one, but worth it, I'd say. It makes an impressive dish to share. The one issue was a lack of eggplant - we used a pound, as directed, but two pounds would be better to cover all the layers evenly.

Next up was Sunday brunch - Veganomicon's (again, I know!) banana walnut waffles. I gave OB a waffle iron for his birthday and am now reaping the rewards. These were fast and easy to put together using mostly stuff we had around. They came out very tasty, and I like that they're not major sugar bombs.

Sunday night dinner was a bit of a fiasco. I had bought some fresh black eyes peas from the farmer's market, intending to boil them and then stir-fry with sweet potatoes and broccoli. I didn't realize how quickly fresh beans spoil! I left them out on the counter and by Sunday night they smelled reallly funky. I ran to the corner store to replace them with the canned variety but the closest thing I could find was Cranberry beans. Whatever.

Trying to stick to the original plan, I diced up the sweet potatoes and roasted them in the oven for about 15 minutes. I toasted some cumin and black mustard seeds in a pot, along with a little ginger.

And then I made a mistake.

One stand at the farmer's market had three bins of hot peppers, with a sign labelling them hot-hotter-hottest. I took two little orange ones from the 'hotter' bin, figuring they'd be a medium-high heat. I've only cooked with jalapeno peppers before, and I've always found the heat level dissapointingly mild. I diced up the two little guys and threw them in the pot with the spices. After sauteeing for a few minutes I added the sweet potatoes, beans and some frozen broccoli.

Now, I like spicy food, but this was just painful. Numbingly, awfully hot. And sadly, the heat masked every other flavor. You could have been eating super-spicy oatmeal; the only sensation was HOT. As luck would have it we checked out My Oraganic Market on Sunday and I grabbed a big tub of Wildwoood plain unsweetened soy yogurt. OB and I doused the stir-fry with the yogurt and made it through dinner without having to resort to take-out. As an aside, Wildwood is very very good. The first soy yogurt I've had that has a tang to it and seems almost like 'real' yogurt.

Fortunately I was very careful when I cut the peppers up and didn't get any on my hands, but I must have been leaning too closely over the pot because the inside of my nose burned for hours. Sheesh! Next time I'll just stick to red pepper flakes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

back in action

I'm back! Took a long time - a bit longer than I expected - but I am recovered and (98%) back to normal. It seemed like I would never want to eat anything again!

Thankfully, my appetite is back, and my strength is coming back. I'm feeling so happy be living life on my on terms again and the freedom to move around (mostly) as I want. This was a great weekend, including my first venture into the kitchen in months.

For Saturday brunch I made the greek tofu benedict from Veganomicon. Two thumbs way up. Interesting flavors and a nice combination of textures. I made the sauce and roasted the peppers the night before, so all I had to do in the morning was broil the tofu. (A programming note - post surgery, after consulting with my doctors, I am low-soy but not *no* soy. I'm aiming for no more than one serving a day and no soy protein isolate. Another huge relief.) I toasted some whole-wheat english muffins for these and cut up an orange and a grapefruit for the side. Easier morning-of than making pancakes, and more impressive too.
For dinner, continued working through my freezer full of food. Re-heated some chickpea cutlets and put jarred tomato sauce on top, with whole wheat spaghetti and a little vegan parmesan. Roasted tomatoes and eggplants from the farmer's market on the side. They had white eggplant, which I've never seen before. It looked almost identical to the purple one after roasting, but had a little more firmness. Great dinner all around. I really like having the cutlets in the freezer - this came together in about 20 minutes.
In case anyone's still out there, hi! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hiatus (but I'll be back!)

My surgery is tomorrow, so I won't be cooking (or eating much, I fear) for a while. I think I'll be back in around 6 weeks. I won't be commenting on your blogs either, probably. But I will return! Larry the liver tumor is going bye bye, and after the initial discomfort I expect to be feeling better than ever.

I'll be recovering at my parent's house for about 4 weeks, and then returning to my apartment. I figure that getting groceries and cooking won't be feasible for a while, so I've been loading up my freezer. Behold!
I'm stocked with Basic Kale Soup (with kidney beans and potatoes ) from Alternative Vegan, a double batch of Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon, Mac & Cheeze from Susan V, Atar Allecha from Kittee, Carrot Muffins from COK, Chickpea and Broccoli Casserole from VwaV, frozen bananas for smoothies, and lots of frozen berries and vegetables. Whew!

Happy cooking, all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vegan Zombie T-shirt

I want this shirt!

Mac & Cheeze

When I tell people that I'm vegan, 9 times out of 10 the response is something like "I could never give up cheese." I must have just been meant to be a vegan, because I never really liked cheese that much in the first place. As a kid I mostly refused to eat it. Going vegan was easy in general, but giving up cheese was beyond easy.

The one form of cheese I did really like is more processed cheese product than actual cheese - the Velveeta type sauce that comes in a pouch with Kraft mac & cheese. It was the first thing my mom let me cook on my own, and it stayed a comfort food through college. I tried Road's End Mac & Chreeze a while back, and found it completely disgusting. I couldn't even eat it, I threw it out. Since then I haven't bothered much with vegan cheese, but tonight I tried Susan V's Easy Macaroni and "Cheeze."It's really good! The sauce looks exactly like the Velveeta stuff, and has the same creamy texture. Doesn't taste like it, of course, but it does taste good. All in all a fast, satisfying and comforting dish, with some nutritional street cred to boot. I used whole wheat rotini pasta. The recipe calls for a pound of pasta but my box had 12 oz, so mine came out extra cheezy. I think I'll stick to this proportion, it's creamy and yummy. I used vanilla hemp milk instead of fat-free soy, which probably made it even richer.

I'm having surgery next week and will be recovering for a long while, so I'm stocking up my freezer. I hope this reheats well! I'm planning on cooking up a storm this week, hopefully I'll follow through.

P.S. Here's some of the yummy, healthy things I've been making as a tester for the Happy Herbivore cookbook. This book is going to rock!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Banana Peanut Boom Muffins

These muffins are really, really good. Seriously, try them, you won't be disappointed. I had this idea that I could use peanut butter instead of oil or margarine, and it totally works. They don't have an overly peanut-y flavor, they're just moist and rich and slightly nutty. Sorry for the bragging, but I'm quite proud if myself with these.
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray.
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour with baking powder and salt. Stir in sugar. (If using granulated sugar, sift it in.)
3. Put the peanut butter in a small bowl and melt it in the microwave. This should take about a minute. You want it to be truly liquid.
4. In a small bowl, mix the mashed bananas together with the peanut butter until well combined. Stir in the rice milk.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.
6. Fold in the chips.
7. Spoon into muffin cups, almost to the top. You'll have a little batter left over after filling 12 cups.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are slightly browned. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on wire rack.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Product Review - NutriBiotic Rice Protein Powder

While I believe in getting nutrition from whole foods, and know that it is possible even as a soy-free vegan to get enough protein, I also know that as an imperfect person I might not get there every day without a little help. So I went shopping for a non-dairy, non-soy protein powder this weekend and settled on this one - rice protein from NutriBiotic.
Of all the varieties at my health food store this one had the best ratio of protein to calories (12 grams per 55) and nothing else added. The protein comes from brown rice. I made a smoothie using one serving of the powder (one tablespoon), a cup of chocolate hemp milk, a banana, and a handful of strawberries. No gritty-ness or bad taste, woo hoo! I really couldn't tell there was anything out of the ordinary in my glass, and the combination was very rich and tasty with a nice texture. I'm going to play around with this - a scoop of coconut-milk ice cream or a tablespoon of peanut butter would both be great, as would frozen fruit. This version, with about 17 grams of protein and 350 calories, was a perfect small meal in a glass.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

QUICK Garbonzo Soup

Instead of wallowing in self-pity I figured I might as well jump into the soy-free pool. (That metaphor doesn't quite work, but I've got a lot on my mind right now, so forgive me.) I realized I already have a cookbook full of soy-free recipes - Alternative Vegan by Dino Sarma. He doesn't use any tofu or tempeh. I got this a while ago and read through it but hadn't tried anything out.For tonight's dinner I made the QUICK garbonzo soup. He's not kidding about the QUICK, it took me about 20 minutes to make from start to finish. It's a very simple, stew-like soup with chickpeas and tomatoes. I followed the suggested variation to add a bag of frozen broccoli. It's a little bland, next time I'll throw a few more spices in there, but it is tasty. It meets pretty much all of my criteria - fast, easy, not a lot of dishes, and cheap ingredients I can buy anywhere. Filling, too. Between this book and all of the (handily marked!) soy-free dishes in Veganomicon, I should stay happy in the kitchen.

bye bye, soy

The bad medical news I mentioned earlier hasn't gotten any better. The more I research and look into things, the more I think I need to cut the soy in my diet. Honestly there's not enough information one way or the other to tell if soy contributed to my current problem or could worsen it, but it's a risk not worth taking. This condition is potentially life-threatening and is going to involve major surgery. I have to take everything into account, and think wisely.

So does anybody have any advice on being a (nearly) soy-free vegan? I'm not too worried about home cooking, since I can substitute soy milk easily with nut or rice milk, and opt for grain and bean dishes instead of tofu or tempeh ones. I'm a little worried about getting enough protein that way, but I know it's possible with planning. What worries me more is eating out. I eat out often, and I don't want to have to change that. Chinese and Thai food are staples for me...I guess I could get the all vegetable dishes, but again, it's going to be tricky to get enough protein.

I'm feeling a little sorry for myself right now.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zucchini Chickpea Muffins

I pulled this off of Vegan Eating for One, shortly before it disappeared. Come back soon, Romina! I'm very happy I saved it, cause these are great. They taste neither fat-free nor sugar-free, just soft and tasty.
They don't taste like chickpeas either. I never would have thought to make muffins with chickpea flour, but it works perfectly and adds some protein to these (plus uses up something I bet most of us have sitting around). I had everything on hand to make them except the zucchini and they came together super easy. So yeah, these rock. I'd post the recipe, but I figure the archive was removed for a reason. I put some blackberry fruit spread on them from Butler's Orchard, where we picked pounds of berries this past weekend. Mmmmm.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Live Green!

Last night, me and my pissy mood attended the Live Green launch party. From the genius behind the DC vegan mecca Java Green, Live Green is a community you can join to get discounts at green businesses in the DC area. The $13 membership is worth it just for the savings on a Zipcar membership, if you're a car-sharing person like me. It's too soon to tell but I'm hoping this turns out to be a good resource for finding green products and services in the city. But I already get a free Java Green cookie, so I can't lose.
The party featured all vegan food, from Java Green's catering menu. I hope this opened the minds of some people in the *huge* crowd about how delicious and "normal" vegan food can be.

Restaurant Review - Mr. Chen's Organic Chinese

I got some bad medical news this week, and though I feel fine physically I've been too out of sorts to cook or eat properly. Last night I basically had a pint of soy ice cream for dinner, which of course made me feel like crap, and today I ate cereal for breakfast and lunch. Ugh. In an effort to snap myself out of it I ordered delivery from Mr. Chen's, who is proving to be a great go-to dinner option when I don't want to cook for whatever reason.

Even though they use all organic vegetables, their prices are actually a bit cheaper than other Chinese places in my neighborhood. They have a big menu, but all I've tried so far is the steamed bean curd with vegetables. They offer various sauces on the side; I've stayed loyal to the ginger garlic cause it's sweet and flavorful (though if I ever order when I'm not feeling cranky I'll try out the kung pao sauce). It's obviously a very basic dish, but it's done right - the vegetables are fresh and steamed the perfect right amount, and there's a decent amount of tofu without it being overwhelming. I like having the sauce on the side so I can dip pieces in instead of drowning the whole thing in glop. Their vegetarian soups have egg but they leave it out for me. I tried the seaweed and tofu soup but it's a little too, uh, seaweed tasting for me. I know, what did I expect? But I love the tofu and spinach soup, so problem solved.

On a non-food note, I'm also trying to get out of my funk with the new Girl Talk album, Feed the Animals. It's available now for whatever price you want to pay here. Pretty darn awesome.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Recipe Reviews and Black Bean Dip

I've been too lazy/hungry to photograph my food lately, but I have to talk about this awesome recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for curried red lentil soup with dandelion greens.

I had some dandelion greens in the fridge and no idea what to do with them, and I got a pressure cooker a couple weeks ago, so this recipe called out to me even though it's a zillion degrees here. I've never had lentils like this before - it was almost like a split pea soup, cause the lentils explode and the whole thing is deliciously creamy. Really simple to make too, I'll definitely be making this again. I had some friends over and it was a big hit, they both went back for seconds.

Less of a hit was the curried tempeh mango salad from VWaV. I liked it, but no one else did. Omnivorous Boyfriend thought it was too sweet (and he's right, it is very sweet) and my brother-in-law said it was "sorta ok." My sister wouldn't even try it. I'm not saying it's my favorite dish ever, but I did enjoy it, and it was nice picnic food. We all went to see R.E.M. last night, a
nd we had beautiful weather for hanging out on the lawn. I also made a quick black bean dip, which everyone liked (yay!):

1 can black beans
2 tbsp water
1 clove garlic
juice from one lemon
1 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp cumin
big pinch cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Puree until smooth.

We dipped carrots and spicy blue corn chips in this. Then we had watermelon and cherries for dessert. It was a great show and a great night.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Tale of Three Crepes

Omnivorous Boyfriend has been bugging me to post about our crepe adventures, and since he's doing a load of mostly my laundry right now, I shall oblige.

Crepe's are his signature dish, he's been making basic egg ones for years. He was extremely dubious they could be made vegan, but willing to try. I saw this recipe on Vegan Dad's blog and it sounded good. I made the batter and he took up his station over the miniature stove. He even brought his fancy crepe pan and flipper thing over.
I in no way want to bash on Vegan Dad, as his blog is completely made of awesome and I think he's a great chef, but these were a disaster for us. OB couldn't get the batter to pour well or manage to flip them at all. I tried some of the scraped off dough, and it tasted wonderful, but it was clear that this was not turning into crepes for us. I think it was probably the tofu - I see now that it can be subbed with ground flax seed. Perhaps we shall try it again.

Anyways, I was ready to scrap cooking and go out for bagels, but OB was set on crepes. Enter Veganomicon, stage right. I made another round of batter following the whole wheat variation (half whole wheat pastry flour). Voila! Happy crepe time ensued. I have never made 'normal' crepes, so I do not know how they compare, but I really liked these. I didn't notice a bean taste at all from the chickpea flour and the texture was great. OB was quite satisfied with them and started telling everyone how chickpea flour has amazing, magical properties. We filled them with some chocolate spread I'd gotten as a gift and fresh strawberries. So so so good.
A while later, OB cooked me a birthday dinner (aww) and tried yet another crepe recipe, the one from Vegan With a Vengeance. These are made with water instead of soy milk, so they have less density and flavor, but they cooked up great and went very well with the sweet potato filling. That filling is incredibly good - like if Indian food and Thai food had a party and invited sweet potatoes. Just a great mix of flavors. We agreed that these crepes were well suited to it.

They aren't, however, well suited to being made healthier. We tried to repeat the meal for our parents, and I put half whole wheat flour in. Disaster. The texture was all wrong. I'd like to try again with whole wheat pastry, but maybe I should just stick with the Veganomicon version for that. Ended up having to make a second batch of batter, but the parents were all impressed anyway, so no big deal. We made two fillings that time, the second being the basic potato-mushroom filling accompanying the crepe recipe in Veganomicon. Very simple but really good; it was hard to decide which was better.

Oh, OB wants me to add that all variations of vegan crepes require more oil or earth balance to cook than regular ones. Duly noted. And I'd like to add that all crepes taste better if they are made for you by a handsome man.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Low Fat Pumpkin Muffins

These are modified from Vegan With a Vengeance. I made them the original way once and *loved* them. I can't say these are just as good, but they are still very very good, and I feel less guilty eating them. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil, I used just 1 tbsp and added 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened applesauce. I also added a dash of baking soda, and made all the spice measurements heaping.
They taste almost the same, but the texture is a lot different - stickier and denser. They still have a ton of sugar - over a cup - but I didn't want to play around with too many variables at once. I'm thinking about trying agave with these, any suggestions?

I was tagged by the awesome Bianca to name five things about myself, so here goes:

1. I used to be a crazy picky eater. The list of things I would eat was under 20 items, and most of them were white. I didn't branch out until after college, and now there's only a few things I won't eat (not counting all the non-vegan foods, of course).

2. A few months ago I got very sick after traveling to Costa Rica. Turns out it was a parasite - eww!

3. I have a great job with an amazing perk - paid gym time. We can work out for 3 hours a week, on the clock, in the on-site gym.

4. My shower curtain has rubber duckies on it. I have a rather juvenile sense of decor, or so I've been told.

5. I don't like cooking with cast iron. I know it's supposed to be better, but I've always cooked with non-stick and I find anything else traumatic.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kibbeh and Cherry Tofu

I'm back! I've been cooking a lot, but haven't had time to post. Hopefully I'll get through the backlog soon.

Tonight's dinner was Kibbeh from the Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook. Thanks for letting me be on your test squad, Lindsay!
As a side dish/dessert, some cherry tofu (easy fake soy yogurt). Fresh cherries blended with silken tofu, plus a touch of agave and vanilla extract. Next time I'll add a little cherry juice to make it more sour. It's hot and muggy here now, and cherries seem like the perfect thing to eat.