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.