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?