This is the easiest, tastiest recipe ever for vegan, gluten free bread. It’s made with yeast, and only 3 kinds of flour, and there’s no kneading needed (or even possible!) Find the recipe in the Positively Vegan Recipe Box!
Have you been a vegetarian/vegan your whole life? I'm training for my second marathon, and I'm thinking about cutting meat/animal products for my diet for it. what are your views on it? What steps should I take?
Hi - I’ve been vegan for a little over 3 years. Ran two half marathons vegan, and after age 50. I KNOW I could not have done it without the plant based diet. I’m no expert, but check out Brendan Brazier’s books, as well as the No Meat Athlete site. You’ll find all you need. Good luck!
For over a year now I’ve been writing my blog on Blogger, and then self-syndicating my posts here on Tumblr, as well as on BlogHer. I’ve been trying to learn more about SEO lately, and have started to wonder if using the same content on 3 platforms might be hurting me more than it’s helping. So… for a while at least, I’m only going to post on Blogger and see what happens. If you’ve been following me here, it’s an easy hop over to my Blogger page. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and my new YouTube Channel.
I had the nicest birthday dinner with Rick and a few friends earlier this week, at one of the best restaurants in Taos. Getting a good vegan meal in a restaurant in New Mexico is no easy thing, but with a little planning it all worked out beautifully. There’s a trick to dining out that vegans need to get comfortable with, and that’s simply calling ahead and asking for what you want. More often than not a restaurant with a good chef will be more than willing to either modify an existing dish for you, or come up with something new. And the more we ask for vegan fare, the more restaurants will realize there are lots of us out here, hungry and looking for someplace to spend our money. The smart ones will feed us!
Lambert’s of Taos is a well established local favorite, recently moved into a larger space once occupied by the Apple Tree. When I checked to see if the chef might possibly consider making something vegan for Rick and me, the instant answer was yes. I should admit here that my daughter used to work for the owners in a different restaurant, so we sort of had an “in” with the kitchen. But I’m fairly sure they would be just as happy to accommodate other vegans who drop in for lunch or dinner. It’s that kind of place.
We reserved a table on the patio, and were treated to a beautiful warm Taos evening, free of the blustering thunderstorms that are common here this time of year. We settled in with good friends, tasty beverages, and pleasant and helpful servers.
Basically we ordered off the menu, with only small modifications. The beet salad was excellent, and leaving off the goat cheese wasn’t a problem at all. Rick had a green salad that only needed the cheese left off too, so again, we didn’t cause too much of a kitchen fuss.
We both ordered the risotto, and they were ready to make it vegan style for us because we’d called ahead. It was rich and creamy and wonderful with vegetable broth, fresh vegetables, and of course no butter or cheese. I wouldn’t have changed a thing, and couldn’t have asked for a better birthday feast.
The moral of the story: Don’t think that because there are no vegan restaurants in reach you can’t go out to eat. Be brave. Make a phone call. Ask for vegan food, and expect a yes because you’re likely to get it. I know for sure you’ll be well fed in Taos if you find your way to Lambert’s.
I’ve made a lot of spring rolls in the past year, ever since I learned the secrets of the spring roll universe from Mark Reinfeld in his fantastic Vegan Fusion 10 Day Immersion. Since then I’ve been fine-tuning and streamlining the process to suit my simplistic sensibilities, and to make it easier to demystify the technique for others. The way I make them now is so easy I really think anyone can do it. And you should! Spring rolls are a fun way to eat lots of fresh veggies. They’re great for parties too because they look so fancy and are the perfect finger food. Some people call them Summer Rolls, and that seems like the perfect name for them now, since summer just happens to be in full bloom. I made these the other night for friends, as a pre-birthday celebration for myself! They’re a slightly different twist on the average Spring Roll, and we all really, really liked them.
Make the Smoky Baked Tofu early in the day, or better yet, the day before. Cut it into 1/2 inch sticks.
Prep all your ingredients and set them out in the order you’ll be using them, along with two cutting boards to work on, and a shallow dish of very hot water for dipping the wrappers in.
Soak one rice paper wrapper in the hot water for about 20-30 seconds, until it’s soft but not soggy. There should still be a little bit of a crinkle to it when you remove it from the water, and it will be stretchy and elastic.
Lay the wrapper on a cutting board and quickly fill it with a little bit of each ingredient. Go easy. Over-filling makes for difficult rolling! Start with a strip of lettuce running most of the length of the wrapper. Add the other fillings in the order given, ending with two sticks of tofu, running sideways so you can easily roll around them.
This might be more filling than you want to start with… ;o)
Now lift the side of the wrapper closest to you, and gently wrap it over the sideways fillings (not all the lettuce). Pull the fillings toward you, tucking them in as tightly as you can. Fold the ends in toward the center, and continue rolling until you reach the end. The bare piece of wrapper will stick itself to the roll, sealing it all up.
Set the finished roll on the other cutting board, and repeat the process to make as many rolls as you want. When you’re finished, cut the rolls in half at a slight diagonal and arrange on a platter with some Chipotle Cranberry Dipping Sauce. Instant party!
Chipotle Cranberry Dipping Sauce
Mix equal parts cranberry and mayo in a small bowl. Season with chipotle to taste.
A funny thing happens when I’m chatting with a new acquaintance, and they find out that I’m vegan. They almost always say, Oh… I need to eat more vegetables… And then they shuffle their feet and avoid eye contact, I suppose because they’re afraid I’m going to try to recruit them into the Vegan Army. As far as I know, nobody ever wants to go vegan simply because they’ve just met a vegan. But something about coming face to face with a full-time plant eater seems to nudge people into realizing that maybe they don’t eat quite enough plants for their own good.
Do you need to eat more vegetables? Great! Eat more vegetables! Problem solved, right? Well, I wish it was that easy. When most people think of “eating vegetables,” they have dull visions of pale dinner salads, woody carrot sticks, and maybe some overcooked bell peppers on their meat-laden pizza. I can’t blame anybody for not getting excited over that.
But still, the key to eating more vegetables actually is to eat more vegetables. In some ways, it really is that simple. Look for ways of sneaking vegetables into your meals. Grate or blend vegetables into soups and sauces. Add chopped veggies to casseroles. Make grilled vegetable sandwiches and pizzas. Get crazy with exotic, hearty salads. Make a carrot cake for dessert. Have a green smoothie for breakfast. Without making a big deal over it, you can pack a lot of veggies into your day without ever having to suffer through a plain bowl of lettuce.
When you do this, and make it into a habit, sooner or later the vegetables will begin to displace some of the less healthy foods you’re eating. You can only eat so much, right? Eat the veggies first, and let them crowd out some of the other stuff. Then, the next time you meet a vegan, instead of feeling uncomfortable, you might even have a few recipes to share!
Happy July! It’s my Birth Month, and I celebrate all month long, which of course calls for special food! This is my own personal Birthday Sandwich, and of course it comes with a story. When I was born, the first thing my Mom asked for after the delivery was a turkey sandwich. For years and years it was my tradition to have a turkey sandwich on my birthday in her honor. That kind of fell by the wayside for a while, for obvious reasons, but this year I have this new version of my old favorite, and it tastes amazingly like the turkey sandwiches of my earlier years, only way better.
I’ve teamed up with the nice folks at Nasoya for this. I met them at VidaVeganCon, and they graciously asked me to sample their new vegan Nayonaise and Nayo Whipped. I love them both, and either one is great on this sandwich. The one you choose will depend on whether you were raised in a Mayo Family or a Miracle Whip Family. The Nayonaise is a delicious vegan mayo, and the Nayo Whipped is fluffy and sweet like Miracle Whip. Pretty amazing. Both are vegan, and although it doesn’t say it on the labels, they are made with non-GMO soybeans, which is important to me!
I just happen to use Nasoya tofu all the time because it’s my favorite, and again because it’s non-GMO. They aren’t paying me to plug their products, but I really do like them!
Kim’s Happy Birthday Sandwich
whole grain bread
Smokey Baked Tofu (recipe below)
Nayonaise or Nayo Whipped
My ultimate birthday lunch is this sandwich served with “crack chips” - Kettle Organic Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper Potato Chips. I’m just so happy to be here!
Smokey Baked Tofu
1 package extra firm tofu
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup agave or maple syrup
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
Drain the water off the tofu and leave the tofu in the package. Cut it into 8 slices. Set the tofu package in a bowl or plate to catch marinade overflow.
Mix the tamari, agave, and paprika together, and pour the sauce slowly over the tofu, making sure to let it seep in between all the slices. All of the marinade should fit, filling the tofu package right up to the top.
Cover the tofu and let it marinate in the refrigerator for several hours, preferably overnight.
To bake, line a small (10x10-ish) baking dish with foil, and lay the tofu slices out in one layer. Spoon a little bit of the marinade on top of each slice. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Flip the tofu slices over, spoon on the remaining marinade, and bake for another 30 minutes.
This tofu is also excellent in stir-fries, noodle dishes, salads, and wraps. Enjoy!
I’ve been wanting to eat at Blossoming Lotus for over a year now - ever since I took a 10 day cooking immersion with Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion, who was part owner of the place at the time. We finally had the chance to go while visiting Portland this week, and it was well worth the wait, even though Mark is no longer involved. I don’t care what kind of food you favor. If you like delicious, creative, beautiful food, and you find yourself in Portland, go to Blossoming Lotus.
We were with our friends, Jim and Lani, so we ordered all sorts of dishes to share and taste. There were moments when I just wanted to go in a corner and be alone with what was on my plate. That’s my version of “two thumbs up” or “5 stars.”
Crispy Artichoke Fritters
Polenta special with trumpet mushrooms
Caribbean Phyllo Roulade
Wok Tossed Tofu and Greens
There was dessert too, and I have no idea why I forgot to take pictures of it. I guess we were all so caught up in conversation and good food, we lost sight of the assignment at hand - to document every morsel. You’ll just have to visit Blossoming Lotus yourself, and see what sweet delights are on the menu that evening. You can’t go wrong. Just order everything and eat it all up.
One of the reasons we’re so enamored with Portland is the food. There are so many vegan restaurants here, and others that are quite vegan-friendly. I love to cook, but we also love to eat out and see what other people are cooking. That doesn’t work out so well in Taos, but it sure does here, in sunny Portland, Oregon. (OK, I fibbed about the sunny part. It’s been mostly rainy and grey the whole time we’ve been here, but we really don’t mind.)
One of the most talked about places in our many restaurant discussions at VidaVeganCon was Sizzle Pie, a pizza place across the street from world famous Powell’s Books. I’ve been yearning for pizza lately, so we headed there for lunch yesterday. So glad we did. It’s every bit as good as people were talking it up to be, and I’m now totally inspired to create my own version of their caramelized onion sauce, and smear it all over everything that will stand still.
We started with a big, generous salad, which we really felt the need for after a weekend’s worth of conference food.
Rick always waits so patiently while I snap pics of our food.
I love a place that will do 1/2 and 1/2.
Yep, we liked it.
Sitting there looking out the window, I could totally imagine us living here, maybe up there in that nice apartment building, looking out over Portland from our balcony. City life, and all it has to offer, is really alluring right now. On with the exploration!
We finished up VidaVeganCon yesterday with another terrific round of classes, and more delicious food. I ended up taking a total of 3 food photography classes, so I really hope to see some improvements in my pictures. And my last class of the day was on SEO optimization, which has always completely kerbobbled me, but now I think I understand it a little bit better. We’ll see. I want huge numbers of readers. I know they’re out there, hungry for some good food news!
Throughout the weekend, I also came to view my own blog and work somewhat differently, and I began to see some changes I’d like to make in the whole structure. I feel the need to redefine, for myself, and for my readers, what vegan means to me, and where I place myself in the grand vegan scheme of things. It’s still gelling in my mind, so we’ll see what comes of it. Basically, I want to find ways to be more inclusive to non-vegans. Vegan food is good food, but it doesn’t require a membership card to enjoy it.
I’m also getting closer to completing the book I’ve been working on. It’s a cooking book for new vegans, dabblers, and anyone who wants to eat whole, healthy foods without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. And again, I want to somehow make it ok to eat tasty vegan chow without feeling obligated to make any huge life changes or commitments.
Here are a few more pics from the conference and out after-celebration. I’m already looking forward to the next VidaVeganCon! Thanks everybody! It was a blast!
Our last-day lunch was a wonderful sandwich bar, sponsored by Nasoya.
Later, a ride on the ferris wheel that’s right outside out window. I’m not as afraid of them as I used to be…
Lots of pretty bridges in Portland.
We have three more days in Portland, to explore, relax, and see if it feels like someplace we might want to move to eventually. I’m also glad we have time to try more of the dazzling selection of restaurants here. I’ll keep you posted!
Rick and I are heading for Portland, OR, to attend VidaVeganCon. I’ve been looking forward to this for months! I’ll be on the road for 2 weeks, going from Portland to Seattle to see my kids, and then to San Jose to see my family and run the See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon in Alameda on June 8th.
It’s a lot to do in 2 weeks, but this is exactly how I visualize my “perfect life” - traveling, exploring the awesome vegan-ness of the world, running, meeting people, eating great food, and blogging about all of it as I go. All I need now is to get paid buckets of money for doing it, and I trust it will happen!
Stay tuned as I take you along with me. We’re going to have so much fun!!!
PS - I made it again for a potluck, only this time substituted brown rice pasta for the greens. They cleaned out the bowl! Fortunately, I left some at home, and it’s great layered on top of some greens for a full meal salad.
This is not a post about the evils of too much power… It’s about food, of course!
With only a few short weeks until the See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon in Alameda, CA, I’m starting to think about what sort of fuel I’ll want to carry with me on race day. I don’t want anything to do with packaged bars, gels, or drinks. Yuck. I want something real. This recipe is a cross between the more complicated Power Balls and the super simple almond-stuffed-dates I sometimes take with me on longer runs. Of course you don’t have to go running to eat them. They make a great snack any time!
makes about 20
1 (packed) cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped into halves or thirds
1/2 cup almonds, soaked in water overnight and drained
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well chopped.
Form small 1-2 bite sized “pellets”.
Cut small squares of waxed paper, and roll the Bites up, twisting the ends of the paper in the same direction (like candy) for easy un-spinning on the move.
These don’t really need to be refrigerated, but I keep them cold anyway, stored in a glass bowl with a lid.
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Stew is Perfect for a Busy Meatless Monday
This easy dish was inspired by a big, lonely sweet potato, a busy day with no time to cook, and a neglected slow-cooker. It’s perfect for a busy Meatless Monday! To cook it on the stove, I think I’d steam the sweet potato chunks first, and then throw it all together.
Sweet Potato Stew
1/2 onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, cut into bite-size pieces
2-4 cups chopped kale
1 can lite coconut milk
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
4 cups vegetable broth
2 T tamari
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 T curry powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
Stir everything together in the slow-cooker. Cook on high heat for about 4 hours, or until the sweet potatoes are soft. This was extra good the second night, served over brown rice.
I’m so excited this morning! I just launched the new Positive Motion page on my website! It’s designed to help you get up off the couch, get moving, and keep moving. We all need a little extra motivation sometimes, and I’m here to be your very own Personal Motivator. Come check out Positive Motion! We’re going to have a lot of fun!
Now, to get you going on a new healthy habit right this minute, here’s a terrific little recipe for super healthy cookies that will satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your fitness goals. It’s adapted from one I saw on Facebook, but can’t seem to locate now that I want to give credit for it. I will gladly post a link if somebody knows where it is.
These cookies are vegan (of course!), sugar free, oil free, wheat free, and can be gluten free if you use certified GF oats. Miraculously, they’re still really good! And because they’re mostly made of bananas and oats, they’re super healthy. I think they bake up more like little flat cakes or muffins. I would classify them more as a “real food treat” than a “real cookie.” If you’re not expecting a Mrs. Fields sort of experience, you’ll love them! In our house, big man Rick and little man Jacob both gobble them up. As for me, I’m just a few short weeks away from the See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon in California, and these make a great pre-run snack!
I changed a few things to make these work better at high altitude, so if you’re in the lowlands, you might need to make adjustments the other way. These are so simple though, I think they’ll work pretty much anywhere. Try them at sea level and let us know how it goes!
Banana Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 1 dozen cookies
3 very ripe bananas
2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup toasted, slated sunflower seeds - optional
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment, silicone liners, or a light coating of oil.
Mash the bananas, and stir in all the other ingredients.
Place large tablespoon sized cookies on the prepared cookie sheets, and flatten them slightly. They will not spread or rise as they bake.
Press about a teaspoon of sunflower seeds into the top of each cookie before baking (optional).
Calabacitas are a particular type of squash, similar to zucchini. A favorite restaurant here serves up a mix of zucchini, yellow squash, onions, and other goo things, and calls it “calabacitas.” I usually order it because I like saying the name. And because they’re delicious! These tacos are easy to throw together on a week night, and fun for a weekend gathering. Use sprouted organic cord tortillas if you can find them. They’re amazing.
Tacos with Calabacitas
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 a block extra firm tofu, crumbled
2 medium zucchini - halved lengthwise, and sliced into little half moons
1 yellow crooked neck squash, sliced like the zucchini (or yellow bell pepper or corn)
1/2 a large red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
1 or 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2-3 tsp chili powder
2-3 tsp cumin
salt to taste
1 can refried beans, warmed and spiced with cumin and chili powder
Daiya shreds, any flavor
Throw the onion and tofu into a hot skillet (no oil), and cook for about 3 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the other chopped veggies, chili powder, and cumin, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
While the vegetables are cooking, heat the refried beans in a small saucepan and season to taste.
When the calabacitas (veggies) are done, either keep them warm in the pan, or transfer them into a bowl so you can use the same pan to warm the tortillas.
Dampen the tortillas with water one at a time, and heat for 10-15 seconds per side in a dry pan, over medium heat. Keep them warm in a towel until you have enough for at least the first round of tacos.
To serve, spread a layer of beans on a tortilla, followed by a little Daiya, calabacitas, lettuce, and hot sauce. We like to eat one or two, and then heat more tortillas if we need seconds, which we usually do.
I have wonderful-fun news! I’ve just found out that I’ve been selected as a See Jane Run Ambassador! What the heck is that, you ask? In a nutshell, from the SJR website, ”An ambassador is someone who is all “Jane”. A Jane can be someone who embraces fitness as a lifestyle and brings it into all aspects of their life. Ambassadors include bloggers, trainers, teachers, fitness club owners, health professionals and athletes (professional and other).”
So now I’m a Vegan Ambassador, and a See Jane Run Ambassador. Double ambassadorship makes me smile. If I could get a gig as a Swimming Pool Ambassador in some exotic, tropical paradise, I think I’d pretty much have it made. I do love drinks with those little umbrellas in them.
See Jane Run is all about running, but as you might already know, I haven’t always been a runner. Mostly I’ve been non-exerciser, which I was never happy about, but couldn’t quite figure out what to do about it. I’d go through spurts of wanting to get in shape, and come up with terrific plans for doing it. Most of the time, about three days in, I’d find some excuse to take a day off, which of course turned into more excuses and eventual abandonment of yet another get-fit-fast scheme. I think I can hear a lot of sighing… So many of us have been there, right?
Then something that seems kind of magical happened. A year ago February, my gorgeous, athletic, 26 year old daughter challenged me to join her in a Disneyland 1/2 Marathon. For some insane reason, I said yes, and registered for the race before I had a chance to change my mind. I bought some running shoes, and started training a couple of days later. I kept my expectations low. All I wanted to do was finish on my own two feet, and not get “swept” by the van that picks up the slowpokes.
I would be 55 by race day - the same age my mother was when she died. I guess I had something to prove. I needed to know that it’s not required to surrender to bad health and unhappy aging. I needed to do whatever I could to live to see 56. I know it sounds sort of irrational, but that’s how I felt. I knew I needed to turn things around for myself while I still could, and setting a big goal, like a 1/2 marathon, was what finally made it possible for me to get myself moving, and to keep at it. It was not an option for me to let myself down, or my daughter, or Mom, or Mickey Mouse for that matter.
I started really, really slow, and worked my way up to a respectable pace. I did a ton of research online, and learned how to “run right.” Chi Running caught my attention, and it worked for me. I adjusted my already healthy vegan diet to give myself the most possible energy. I found the perfect running shoes. I started a running journal. I gathered up a few key bits of gear. And more and more I found that I looked forward to getting out there to run.
Rather than beat myself up, I decided to let it be okay to run/walk. Living at this crazy 7,000 foot elevation makes it hard to get enough oxygen. Since my goal was to finish the race, I felt all I really needed to do was keep moving and put the miles in. By the time September came around, I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I was in much better shape than I’d been in February, and I’d lost about 20 pounds. Unexpectedly, my high altitude training really paid off, and I found that running at sea level was easier than I’d ever imagined it could be. Gulping oxygen and pumping adrenaline, I ran most of the first 7 miles before deciding I’d better calm down a little bit and pace myself. I finished the race about 20 minutes behind my daughter, and right about in the middle of the 17,000 or so runner pack. I was so happy I cried like a baby at the finish line.
I had no immediate plans to run another race of any kind after that, but I kept running anyway. I found it harder though, to stay motivated without an event to work towards. So when one of my longest-time (certainly not old) friends told me that she was inspired by what I’d accomplished, and wanted to run with me the next time, I was excited to sign on for my second 1/2 marathon. She lives in Oakland, so we decided on the See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon coming up on June 8th.
This was what I needed. Another goal, and another reason not to get lazy. My sister and at least one other friend are joining us. And now the whole thing feels like a party! I’m hoping to see a few more friends out there, so if you’re interested in joining us, go sign up right now! Run or walk the 1/2 marathon, or do the 5K. I’ll even be happy just to see your smiling face somewhere along the route, cheering us on.
So now, as your very happy, over-50 SJR Ambassador, I encourage you to get off the couch, and go outside and move your bones. I’m on my way to do the same, and I know for sure that it’s never too late to do more than we think we can.
I took another stroll down Recipe Lane, flipping through my ancient recipe box, and pulling out an old favorite I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Mom used to make Sour Chili Chicken for the family back in the 70’s. It’s one of those good old meat-and-diary-bombs we used to think of as “healthy.” Clearly there was no health whatsoever in recipes like these, for the humans who ate them, or the animals involved in creating the ingredients. Isn’t it just so nice that we now have much healthier choices for all of us, and the intelligence and compassion to use them? I think so!
I’m not normally a big fan of fake meats. But as I see more and more of them hitting the market, and gaining popularity, I’m realizing that a lot of people are fond of them, particularly when it comes to “transitional dishes” that take a person from meat-eater to plant-eater in a familiar and tasty way. And in a recipe like this, mock-chicken is just the right thing. Sitting down to a plate of this spicy, creamy delight, I was positively transported back to the family table in 1973. I should call it Time Travel Casserole. It’s that good.
Sour Chili Chick’n
serves 4 - made in a small 8x6x2 inch pan
1 1/2 cups vegan sour cream, store bought, or blend: 1 cup raw cashews that have been soaked 20 minutes, juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup nut milk
As I mentioned in my last post, we were able to find a wonderful abundance of vegan food in Las Vegas. I’m now quite certain that with a few polite questions and a willing server, a hungry vegan can find a good meal almost anywhere. We have to ask though. They can’t read our minds.
Travel days can be a little bit more challenging. Airports still have pretty limited options, although we can always find something, even if it’s a fruit cup from Starbucks. It’s a good idea to bring our own snacks, but when that just doesn’t happen, check out the VeganXpress app. I consider it $1.99 well spent. When you click on the Menu Guide, you get a long list of common fast food and chain restaurants. Click on whatever happens to be near you in the airport, and you’ll get a list of all the vegan options at that place.
Example: At the Auntie Annes’s Pretzels in our terminal yesterday, we could have gotten five different varieties of pretzels. We didn’t, but we could have. Burger King offers vegan fries, some vegan breads, vegetables, apple fries, Oreo cookie crumbles, and a garden salad without cheese or croutons. Again, not terribly tempting, but in a pinch we wouldn’t have starved. We settled on green smoothies from Jamba Juice, and a bag of popped corn chips. It was a short flight.
The drive home from the Albuquerque “Sunport” was longer than the flight, so we stopped at the Whole Foods in Santa Fe for provisions. Whole Foods is way more amazing than I’ve given it credit for. We don’t have one in Taos, so I rarely get to wander the aisles, exploring a bigger world of vegan delights than I’m used to at home. For me, this was almost as much fun as our time in Vegas…
We kept this Whole Foods visit short, just picking up a few things to get us through one dinner and breakfast, and we needed a snack. We found everything we wanted, plus smart, friendly, helpful people. We got some hot soup and bread from the cafe section, and some fruit and veggies. Easy enough. For the last part of the drive home, I spotted the Earth Balance Cheese Puffs I’ve been seeing ads for in magazines. Yes, vegan cheese puffs! And no, they do not taste like Cheetos - or look like them either. No scary orange color. Yuck. They do taste very, very good, and cheesy. I would like them to be just a little bit saltier, but that’s probably just me.
The other snack we got was a ready made BBQ Chick’n Wrap, made with Beyond Meat Chick’n. I’ve been hearing some buzz about Beyond Meat, but this was my first sampling of it. It was really good, and also kind of scary. The Chick’n looked, tasted, and felt so real I almost couldn’t eat it. After one bite I re-checked the label to make sure I’d picked up the right thing. Once I was convinced, I dug in and enjoyed it. I don’t know how they make soy and pea protein into a faux meat that I’m positive could fool the most devoted animal-eater, but they do. Go get some and let me know what you think.
Back in Taos today, I’m unpacking and all that, and also planning for our next trip. We leave for the VidaVeganCon in Portland in just about four weeks. I can’t wait! And even though I know we’ll be well fed there, I’m still going to take along a few snacks for the trip. I’ll also find a Whole Foods when we get there, because well, it’s all about the food. And the fun. And the food…
There’s a new book on the e-shelves I think you should know about. Paul Graham’s Eating Vegan in Vegas is the e-book extension of his super-popular blog by the same name. Paul spent an entire year eating at least one meal a day in Las Vegas restaurants, in search of every tasty morsel of vegan fare he could find. And, surprisingly, at least to me, he found more than plenty! Paul’s theory is that if this can be done in Vegas, it can be done anywhere. It makes me want to dig deeper in my own little part of the world.
In the e-book, Paul condenses his year-long project, making it easy to find vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in various sections of town. He takes us bite by bite through some of his favorite places, describing wonderful dishes throughout. I found myself wanting not only to travel to Vegas for a few good meals, but also to hit the kitchen and try to recreate some of the dishes he describes.
The second part of the book is a restaurant guide. This makes me particularly giddy, because I actually am going to Vegas for the weekend, to meet up with my decidedly non-vegan family. With the help of Paul’s insights and listings, I can now gently steer the group to restaurants that will make all of us happy. This is a first, and I hope that more books like this will come out for cities all across the country.
Paul Graham is a relatively new friend of mine, but a long-time acquaintance. We went to high school together, but only became friends as adults, when thanks to the internet, we discovered that we had veganism in common. Paul does a lot of good work to raise awareness, to speak for the animals, and to build bridges that we all can cross and meet on, over the troubled waters of our crumbling food system. Please support him by buying your own copy of his wonderful e-book, Eating Vegan in Vegas, over at Sullivan Street Press. You’ll find all new reasons to plan a trip to Vegas!
My pancake-lovin’ sweetie fell hard for these, and didn’t even think to ask if they were gluten free until he’d polished off a huge stack of them and gone back for seconds. You could serve these to anyone, whether they care about them being vegan or gluten free or not. Everyone at the table will be happy.
Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Stir mashed banana and other wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Pour the wet into the dry and mix well.
Stir in the blueberries and walnuts last.
Cook on a hot griddle or non-stick pan until about an inch around the edges looks dry. Flip and cook the other side for a minute or so, depending on your griddle. Serve with maple syrup and sliced bananas.
I’ve only been vegan for three years but it feels like much longer. In a good way. I’m remembering back to when I “attempted vegan” the first time, and failed pretty miserably within about two weeks. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to be vegan, or because I felt unwell, or because I didn’t know what to cook or eat. I failed for social reasons, which I suspect isn’t all that uncommon.
Leading up to that first failed venture into veganism, I had been known to say that I could never go vegan because life without cheese would not be worth living. I said it, and I believed it, and for a while it seemed like a personal truth. What I quickly discovered when I first tried to live without cheese was that not eating it made me socially unacceptable. Friends had always known me as a vegetarian, and were used to my not eating meat. But cheese was a common ground that we could gather over with a glass of wine. When I eliminated that, nobody, including me, knew what to do with me. It seems kind of silly to me now. Certainly I could have come up with some wonderful foods that we all would have enjoyed. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years. But for some reason I guess I just wasn’t ready for it then. I crumbled under the pressure, reverting back to my old diet, heavy on the cheese, please.
When I decided to try going vegan again, three years ago this month, I was more ready for the change. My reasons for eliminating animal products from my diet were clearer, and I was more committed. Rick was willing to try too, but really mostly because I was so excited about the whole thing. We started by committing to one month, and then we’d see how we felt about it. We both noticed within a few days that we were feeling much better physically, and mentally clearer as well. Two weeks in, and I was in for good.
But as with the first time, it was socially very awkward. Once again, friends didn’t know what to do with us. Also, this time we had more information on the virtues of veganism, and as so often happens with new converts to anything, we wanted to share. We wanted everyone to see the light, and abandon their meat-eating ways just because we said so. Obviously, that never works, and relationships were damaged, at least temporarily, not only over our food choices, but also over our evangelical enthusiasm.
I soon learned that I needed to shut my mouth and just feed people. I still can’t help but spout a few well placed facts about health, environment, or animal rights now and then, but for the most part, I’ve realized that it’s best to keep quiet, keep cooking, and be the best example of a happy healthy vegan I can be.
Rick was a few steps behind me in total committment though, and would sometimes snack on cheese, or non-vegan bakes goodies at work or parties. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, and joked that he was “vegan between parties.” Now he’s all vegan, (almost) all the time, which will just have to be good enough for me. He does a lot, and he cares a lot, so if he takes a bite of non-vegan cake now and then, the world probably won’t spin off its axis.
The point is, he stuck with plant based eating because he wanted to, not because he had to, and not because I nagged at him to do it. Successful Vegan Ambassadors don’t nag. I’m still perfecting my approach, but I’m getting better all the time!
Over time, the “between parties” joke has actually turned into something that I think is a really good idea for new vegans. I’m going to start recommending it to people who are struggling with making the vegan switch. Be vegan at home, and out in the world as much as you can. And when you can’t, don’t beat yourself up. You’ll still be doing wonderful things for yourself, and the animals, and the whole wide world. That’s not nothin’. Go ahead and proclaim yourself Vegan Between Parties when someone asks. It’s a great conversation starter, and gives you the opportunity to do a little evangelizing of your own. Be gentle though. Aside from religion and politics, nothing freaks people out more than differences in food. Once the people who love you start to understand that you really do want to go all-vegan, they’ll probably stop being so freaked out, and start looking for ways to make it easier for you. Remember that it’s baby steps, not perfection. And vegan between parties is certainly better than vegan between meals.
Lentils. Yum. They’re one of my favorites. One of my favorite recipes comes from Chris Maher, and a wonderful Middle Eastern cooking class I took with him last year. The original recipe is drowning in oil, so I took it upon myself to health it up, and simplify it while I was at it. The result was nothing short of clean-your-plate goodness. This is not only vegan, gluten free, and oil free, it’s a delicious, comforting protein bomb!
Lentils and Onions
1 cup green lentils, washed and soaked all day if possible (lentils do not need to be soaked at all, but an all day bath will wake them up, begin the sprouting process, and make them more nutritious than ever)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin
2 T oregano, tarragon, or basil, dried or fresh
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T tamari, or to taste
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
1-2 cups cooked quinoa
2 T Sriracha (rooster) sauce
2 T maple syrup
In a large pot, cover the soaked lentils with water and bring to a boil. After 5 minutes, drain the rinse the foamy stuff off of the lentils and rinse the pot. (This does wonders to help remove the “gas” from the lentils. The same trick works for beans too.)
Place the lentils back in the pot, cover with water about 2 inches above the lentils.
Add the garlic, cumin (also a gas reducer), herbs, and red pepper flakes.
Bring to a boil, and continue to boil gently, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.
After the lentils have been cooking for about 30 minutes, start the quinoa. (If you don’t know how to do this, it’s much like rice. Rinse it very well, to remove the bitter coating. Bring quinoa to a boil with twice as much water as quinoa. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat, stir the quinoa to fluff, cover the pan again, and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.)
Once the quinoa is cooking away, heat a dry non-stick skillet to medium-high.
Toss the sliced onions into the hot skillet and stir frequently as they caramelize. Add a little bit of water now and then if the onions start to stick. You do not need oil. Really.
When the lentils are cooked, but not mushy, turn up the heat to boil off any extra water, and add tamari to taste. (Adding salt to cooking legumes of any kind toughens the surface of them, and slows down the cooking process. The same thing happens if you add acids, like tomatoes. Thank you Tassajara for that tidbit!)
Make a quick sauce by stirring together the Sriracha and maple syrup.
To serve, spread a layer of quinoa on each plate, topped with lentils, and then onions. Drizzle a little bit of sauce on to taste. It’s a hot one, but we kept going back for more!
If you’ve been enjoying a vegan diet for a while, you’re probably pretty well in tune with what foods are vegan, and which ones aren’t. Most of the time it’s fairly obvious, and we learn to spot the sneaky non-veg ingredients in things like mock cheeses and meats, packaged foods, and even wine and beer as we go along. Like I always say, it’s all baby steps, and we’re all on the Learn As You Go Plan, not only as vegans, but as Life Scholars.
When it comes to truly living a vegan lifestyle, there are other, non-food, issues to consider. Being vegan, as in doing it for the welfare of all concerned, and often most specifically for the animals, means to look beyond our food, to the things we use and consume in other ways on a regular basis. Leather is often the first to come up and the first to be eliminated. Clearly not vegan, leather is a byproduct of the meat and dairy industries, and buying it, even though it’s “already dead,” supports those industries. Same with shearling, exotic skins, and of course, fur. We vote loud and clear with our dollars, and when we buy something, the message we send is, make more of this.
When you start to look around, an amazing number of non-vegan things in everyday use start to show up. Down and feathers come not only from factory farmed birds, but also from live birds. Imagine what that must feel like. Wool, angora, pashmina, and all other animal fibers are not technically vegan, and many of us stop buying them because the same cruel practices are used on factory farmed fiber animals as on food animals. I’m not going into it here, because it’s not my purpose to bully you into changing. The goal is to shine a little light on something you might not have thought of yet. You can Google the specifics, and I urge you to do so.
Commonly overlooked, potentially non-vegan, non-food “products” include skin and hair care products, and cosmetics, many of which contain animal ingredients, or are tested on animals. Nail polish is on the list too, as well as most polish removers, which almost always contain gelatin. And don’t forget the makeup brushes, which are generally made from very soft animal fur. Yes, fur, which we already know we won’t wear as a coat, right?
Finally, take a close look the next time you consider a new piece of jewelry. Leather is trendy, and easy to spot. But what about pearls and shells, and those big resin bracelets with brightly colored beetles encased in them? You might think of them as “lesser creatures” than cows and pigs and chickens, but still, they are living beings, and to many vegans, products coming from them are no longer something we want to “vote for.”
It can be sort of overwhelming, I know. But I’m not suggesting that you rampage through your house, throwing out shoes, furniture, purses, jewelry, and all your favorite makeup. In fact I think that’s a very bad idea, as it’s even more disrespectful to the animals involved than to use, honor, and value what you have. My suggestion, and my personal practice, is to replace these things slowly, as they wear out, are used up, or I find someone to pass them along to. I’m still in the process to disbursing beloved leather boots and handbags to people I know will love them. The leather couch in my living room is third-hand already, but I still feel terribly guilty about having it, and will find it a new home as soon as I can afford to get something else. Baby steps, indeed, and a daily reminder that even though I’ve made some great progress in just three years of being vegan, I’m not perfect, and probably never will be. It’s okay. I’m doing more than most people will ever even consider doing, and I’m learning all the time.
There are plenty of places to buy animal/cruelty-free products, with more coming to the market all the time. While some companies are dedicated to only making vegan products, others offer maybe a few mixed in with other non-veg items. I like to support both types of companies, both large and small. The all vegan businesses deserve to be rewarded for what they do. The partial-veg companies need to be encouraged to do more. when I buy from them, I often write a note thanking them for the beautiful vegan shoes, clothes, face cream, or whatever. The people making the stuff we buy need to know what we want. Tell them!
Here are a few places to get you started on your search for the coolest vegan products available. Happy (Cruelty Free) Shopping!
The Vegan Cuts Shop is filled with all sorts of good things, including food, skin care, fashion, handbags, and art.
PETA offers an extensive listing of shops, products, and services for your cruelty-free pleasure.
There's No Such Thing as Too Many Cheese Sauce Recipes
It’s Meatless Monday, and our gluten free month of March has come to a close. It was a good experiment for Rick and me, and we’ve decided to stick to eating mostly gluten free - particularly wheat free - here at home, saving our gluten for special times out on the town. Since when did gluten become a “special” sort of food? Well, there we are. And here we are in April.
I hesitate to write at all on April Fool’s Day, but you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that this cheesy sauce is just wonderful. It was excellent the other night over mashed potatoes and broccoli. And the leftover, reheated sauce was equally good with macaroni, served up kind of retro-style with sliced Smart Dogs (not gluten free), corn, and lima beans. Mmmm… comfort food.
Easy Cheesy Sauce
1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 20 minutes (the longer the soak, the smoother the sauce)
Rinse the soaked cashews, and place them in a blender or food processor with all other ingredients. Blend until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a sauce pan, and warm over med-low heat, adding more milk if necessary. Told you it was easy.
Grilled Eggplant Roulades with Vegan Hollandaise for Easter Brunch
I know some of you are planning a nice Easter Brunch for this weekend. Here’s a dish you might want to consider adding to your menu. Eggplant fills in quite nicely in place of meat in this elegant rolled-up dish. It’s perfect for brunch with hollandaise sauce, and would be just as nice for dinner with a marinara or vegan alfredo sauce. I served it up this time with oven roasted potatoes… mostly so we’d have another vehicle for the hollandaise.
Grilled Eggplant Roulades
makes 6 rolls - serves 2-3
1 medium eggplant, washed and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices, lengthwise
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
24 thin asparagus stalks
toasted pine nuts for garnish
Make the Hollandaise Sauce first. Lightly toast the pine nuts called for in the recipe, and reserve a few for the garnish. Warm the sauce slowly while you make the roulades.
Preheat oven to 350º
Grill the eggplant slices on a grill pan or outdoor grill. When using smaller sized eggplants, there’s really no need to peel or salt them before cooking. I used my heavy cast iron skillet as a weight, and the slices cooked perfectly, with nice grill marks.
Set the cooked eggplant aside, and cook the asparagus in the grill pan with a little bit of garlic powder and a light spray of olive oil if you like.
Lay a slice of eggplant on a plate or cutting board, and spread a thin layer of quinoa over it. Drizzle a little bit of hollandaise over the quinoa. Add a bit of basil, a few slices of sun dried tomato, and (4 or more) pieces of asparagus. Roll the eggplant around the fillings, so the asparagus spears peek artfully out of the sides.
Place the finished roulades in a baking pan, and place in a 350º oven for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the hot roulades to plates, and ladle hollandaise over them. Garnish with extra basil and a few toasted pine nuts.
One of the first things that comes up in a conversation about gluten free (GF) eating is the lack of really good bread. I’ve been pretty unimpressed with commercial GF breads, and many of them are not vegan. So the obvious solution - other than giving up on bread completely - is to make my own.
Gluten free baking is not exactly like “regular” baking. It takes a lot of blending of different types of flours, which might be a bit daunting at first, but the actual process is really much simpler and easier. I’ve been stocking up on different flours and grains, and even had to clear a shelf on my kitchen island, just for all the jars. I bought the book, Gluten Free and Vegan Bread, by Jennifer Katzinger, which I’ve had mixed results from. There are lots of gorgeous recipes in the book, and I’ll keep exploring it, but I think I’m having some issues with altitude, since I’m baking in Taos, at an elevation of 7,000 feet. If you live at a more normal elevation, I think you’ll love the book.
The recipe I’m sharing with you here originally comes from the Aprovechar blog. And while I fell madly in love with it the first time I tried it, I’ve been messing with it for a couple of weeks now, ever since my friend Patty sent it to me. I’ve streamlined it a bit, made some changes that suit our tastes better, and even kicked out the oil. What we have here is my go-to bread recipe. This bread is moist and light, but dense enough to hold together for toast or sandwiches. The flavor is just divine, and the crust is firm but not too hard.
I’ve tried every trick I can find to get this bread to rise to a “normal” height, but so far nothing has worked, with this recipe, or any of the others I’ve tried from Katzinger’s book. I’m blaming the altitude, and sharing this recipe anyway because it tastes so wonderful. I’ve surrendered to making two little sandwiches if I’m wanting a “whole” sandwich. No problem.
Because there’s no gluten to develop, GF bread doesn’t require all the kneading that wheat bread does. This means that even with yeast breads, like this one, the work time is cut down significantly. In this case, it’s just a matter of stirring it all up and letting it rise in the pans before baking. Count me in. I’m suddenly an avid bread baker.
Easy Vegan Gluten Free Bread
makes 2 loaves
1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch (potato flour is not the same)
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup flax meal
1/4 cup xanthan gum (or guar gum)
1 T salt
1 T baking powder
3 packets yeast
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 T apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
3 1/2 cups warm water
Oil 2 bread pans.
Mix all of the dry ingredients, including the yeast, together in a large bowl.
Stir the maple syrup and vinegar into the warm water, and then stir the water into the flour mixture. Stir vigorously for about 2 minutes, to wake the yeast up.
This will be a sloppy dough, actually more like a batter, and there’s no need to add more flour.
Spoon the dough into the bread pans, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour. The loaves should about double in height - even though they don’t do it for me…
Bake in a preheated 350º oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.
If the crust starts to brown too much before the bread is ready, cover it with foil and continue baking.
Remove from pans as soon as they come out of the oven, and cool on a rack. It will slice perfectly after it’s cooled off, but it tastes amazing right out of the oven. I can never resist…
Vegan, Plant Based, and Plant Strong are all terms for more or less the same thing - someone who eats plants and not animals. But it’s possible to be plant based without being really vegan, or vegan without being plant strong. Confusing, I know. But I’m going to try to help you sort all this out. The simplest explanation is this: vegan is about what we don’t eat, and plant strong is about what we do eat. But let’s go a little deeper than that.
Let’s start with Vegan, since it’s what I consider myself to be, and it encompasses the other two. A vegan is someone who eats plants, plants, and only plants. No meat, no fish, no chicken, no eggs, no dairy. Vegans do not knowingly, willingly eat animals or animal products or ingredients of any kind. That’s easy to grasp after a few minutes for most people, and maybe a weird question or two like, “Well, what about chicken broth? There’s no meat in it.” We answer those as gently as possible, and explain that chicken broth does indeed come from chickens, so no, we don’t eat that. What is negotiable in a vegan diet is the quality of the food. Some vegans eat a super healthy, whole-foods diet, while others are happy with processed vegan convenience foods, which can include a lot of junk. The mere fact that a food is technically vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
But being vegan goes deeper than just diet. Most of us are in it for the personal health benefits, at least to some extent, but we’re also interested in animal rights and the environmental (and human) impact of factory farming. There are a lot of activists in these areas, and they’re doing a lot of hard work to raise awareness in the mainstream population.
Vegans see their food choices as a lifestyle, taking further steps to eliminate all animal products from their lives. Leather shoes, clothing, and furniture are easily replaced with non-animal fabrics. Cosmetics and cleaning products can be found that are not made with animal ingredients, and are not tested on animals. Even things like wine and beer are often made using animal products, although a growing number of socially conscious brands are producing wonderful vegan-friendly beverages. Cause for cheer, indeed. We all add our own little twists to the theme, but basically, someone who calls themselves a vegan is doing what they do in a big picture sort of way.
Plant Based is kind of a more generic term for vegan, but it’s really all about the food. A plant based eater has a very similar diet to a vegan, but may or may not choose to get into the social issues associated with veganism. As with a vegan diet, a plant based diet may or may not be healthy, although someone who goes plant based generally does it for health reasons.
The term Plant Strong has been popularized by the Engine 2 Diet, and is on the extreme end of healthy vegan diet. A plant strong diet is a whole food plants based diet that almost completely excludes processed and packaged foods of all kinds. Those doing the plant strong thing may or may not be big-picture vegans. Some are really just trying to save their own lives, and others are interested in the same social issues that vegans are.
As you can see, there’s a lot of overlap going on here, and generalizing is difficult. I hope I’ve helped, and not muddied the waters further. When it comes to labeling yourself, don’t feel like you have to. We’re all doing the best we can with what we know, and the way we see ourselves will change, and continue to change, as we do. And to most of us, no matter what we call ourselves, we’re all on the same team, with similar goals. We all want to make things better, and choosing plant based foods over animal based foods will always be a winning situation for all concerned. As for me, I’m a vegan, positively.
Yes, I said Glam, not Clam, because this is a very glamorous sauce, and because it is not made with clams. For this recipe, use any kind of fancy mushrooms you like, or just plain old white ones if that’s all you can get. I particularly like the addition of the oyster mushrooms, because they have a nice firm texture that’s a little bit, well… clam-ish. And if you’d rather not make zucchini noodles, go ahead and boil up some brown rice linguini instead. Enjoy!
4 oz fresh oyster mushrooms, cut into half inch pieces
1 oz dry shitake mushrooms, soaked 30 minutes in water, cut into half inch pieces
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fancy olives of your choice, coarsely chopped (I picked an assortment from the olive bar)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and black pepper to taste
2 large zucchini
Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, and place them in a blender or food processor with the nutritional yeast and milk. Blend until very smooth.
Saute the mushrooms and garlic in the wine for about 5 minutes, over medium-high heat, until they start to dry out. Do not add extra liquid.
Remove mushrooms from heat for a few minutes.
Make your zucchini noodles using a spiralizer, mandoline, or vegetable peeler. This should not be done too far ahead, because the noodles will quickly start to “wilt” as they lose water.
Steam the noodles for 1-2 minutes, just to heat them up. (I place them in a large wire strainer, set in the top of a big covered soup pot with about an inch of boiling water in the bottom. See the noodles and steaming method here.)
You can order this dandy spiralizer on Amazon for about $30.
While the noodles steam, place the mushrooms back on the stove, over medium heat, and pour in the cashew sauce.
Add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and basil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, and adding more milk, wine, or water if it gets too thick. (This should be a fairly thick sauce though, because it tends to thin a bit when poured over the zucchini noodles.)
Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in the lemon juice just before serving.
Place steamed noodles in a shallow bowl, and spoon the sauce over the top. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil, and maybe a little sprinkle of nutritional yeast and fresh ground black pepper.
We’ve been on a hollandaise binge around here lately. After trying it on asparagus and rice, the next logical step was a Veggie Benny. We used to order this at a favorite breakfast spot in Seattle, but it was only vegetarian, not vegan, and had regular hollandaise on it. Once I went vegan, I thought I’d never enjoy my beloved Veggie Benny again. Happily I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I was so excited to make this, I forgot to make potatoes to go with. We never missed them. But next time I’ll bake up a batch of spuds just so we have something else to dunk in the sauce.
English muffins - (we like Food For Life's brown rice, gluten free variety)
portobello mushrooms - one for each person
fresh spinach - about 1-2 cups
10 sun dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for about 30 minutes, and sliced (or the kind on a jar with oil)
Earth Balance buttery spread - optional
sweet smoked paprika - optional
Make the sauce first, and warm it slowly in a saucepan while you prepare the rest.
Peel the dark skin off the mushrooms with your fingers (or not - it just makes them prettier), trim the stems, and slice the mushrooms in half sideways, so you have two large rounds from each.
Grill the mushroom slices on both sides, in a grill pan if you have one, on an outdoor grill, or in a frying pan.
Place a mound of spinach on each mushroom slice, and top with some strips of sun dried tomato. Sprinkle on a bit of smoked paprika. Turn off the heat, and cover to steam the spinach for a few minutes.
While the spinach steams, toast the English muffins, and butter them with Earth Balance spread if you like. Layer the mushroom stacks on top of the muffins, and pour on the warmed hollandaise. Garnish with a little more paprika if you have it. And of course, mimosas are the suggested beverage to go with this!
I can’t believe how good this is. No really. Like I just want to eat this same meal over and over, every day. I actually did make it two nights in a row, just to be sure I wasn’t mouth-halucinating when we ate it the first time, and no, I wasn’t. This is officially one of my favorite things to eat, ever.
You have to make all three parts of this dish, but they’re all simple to put together, and much of it can be done ahead of time. Make the sauce early in the day, or the day before, and just let it wait in the fridge until show time. Mix up the dry ingredients for the pancakes, and set them aside until it’s time to cook them. Then all you have to do is add the water and vinegar and stir it up. And veggies can all be prepped any old time, and kept chilled until you break out the skillet.
This recipe makes enough for dinner for 3 or 4. You’ll get about 24 small (1/8 cup) pancakes, almost 3/4 cup of sauce, and as many veggies as you choose to cook. This dish is vegan (of course), gluten free, and oil-free. Yes, there is fat in the nut butters used in the sauce, but we need some fat, and it’s best to get it from whole foods, rather than extracted oils, which are pure fat with very little nutritional value.
2 T peanut butter
2 T sesame tahini
1/4 low sodium tamari
1 T molasses
1 T maple syrup
1 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or hot sauce
Whisk all ingredients together and store in a jar in the refrigerator. The sauce will thicken a little when it’s chilled.
You can buy hoisin sauce, but this is easy to make, and really, really tasty.
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1 T baking powder
1 T vinegar
2-2 1/2 cups water
Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the vinegar, and stir in the water gradually until you have a very thin batter. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes, then add more water as necessary. You want thin, fast-cooking pancakes.
A non-stick griddle makes fast work of these, but you can use a non-stick pan if that’s what you have. Heat the griddle to 400º, or the pan to medium-high. If you have a good smooth non-stick surface, there’s no need for oil. If you have some sticking, use your Misto for a very light coating of oil on the pan.
Use a measuring cup to pour about 1/8 cup for each pancake. They will sizzle and bubble instantly. Flip them when they look dry on top. It only takes about 1 minute. Cook the other side for 20-30 seconds. The pancakes will only brown a little bit, and they’ll be nice and soft and flexible.
Layer them in a spiral, rather than piled directly on top of each other, inside a folded dish towel, and keep them warm in a barely heated oven while you cook the veggies.
If you stack the pancakes like this, they’ll stick together a little bit.
(But see how nice and flexible they are?)
It’s better to arrange them in a spiral, overlapping about half of each pancake.
Cover them with a towel to keep them warm and moist.
Mu Shu Veggies
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
2 carrots, sliced
3 green onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger root, minced or grated
4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
1 cup bean sprouts
1 T tamari
This is really just a simple steam-fry. The flavor in this dish comes from the hoisin sauce. The mushrooms are the super-star ingredient here, giving the dish body and a wonderful richness. Use any kind of mushrooms you like, and throw in some fancy ones if you can get them.
Pre-heat the skillet or wok to medium-high. Throw in the mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger, and cook stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes. You can add a tiny bit of water if the veggies start to stick, but it shouldn’t be necessary since there’s so much water in the mushrooms. (Alternately, you can cook them in very hot oil if you prefer.) If the mixture is very wet, cook most of the water off before adding the cabbage and sprouts.
Add the cabbage, bean sprouts, and tamari, and continue to cook for about 1 minute.
You’ll get a lot of steam because these are very wet vegetables.
If you need to pour some water off at the end, that’s okay.
To serve, make little tacos with the pancakes, veggies, and a spoonful of sauce, and prepare to stuff yourself.
The secret to this simple recipe is the rice wrappers, which I use rather than pasta. These are the thin, dry wrappers you can usually find in the Asian section of your market. Different from egg roll wrappers, which need to be refrigerated, rice wrappers need to be soaked before using them, and can be eaten raw or cooked once they’re stuffed. And because they’re made from rice, they’re gluten free.
Rick and his sister, Vicki, made these the other day, while I coached, and they had no trouble at all.
Easy Rice Ravioli
makes about 2 dozen large ravioli
rice wrappers (also called rice papers and spring roll wrappers)
store bought or homemade tomato pasta sauce, warmed
Saute the onions and garlic in a little bit of water over medium heat.
Add the crumbled tofu and herbs, and stir for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the tamari, nutritional yeast, and herbs.
Add the spinach a little at a time, and let it wilt into the mixture.
Remove from heat.
If using Daiya, stir it into the spinach mixture.
Set out two cutting boards or large plates, or you might want to cover a larger surface with waxed paper to lay the filled ravioli on before cooking.
Fill a baking dish (or other shallow dish large enough to hold the rice wrappers) with very hot tap water.
One at a time, soak the rice wrappers in the hot water for about 20-30 seconds, until they’re soft and flexible, but not mushy. They should still have a slight “crinkle” to them.
Lay the wet wrapper on a cutting board.
If using Cashew Cheese, place a small dollop in the center of the wrapper.
Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling into the center of the wrapper.
Fold the side of the wrapper closest to you over the filling, followed by the side opposite you.
Fold one of the ends over the center.
Flip the ravioli over, and fold the other end over the other side of the ravioli, so that both sides have several layers of wrapper covering the filling.
Place the finished ravioli, uncovered, on a cutting board, plate, or waxed paper.
They will begin to dry out, which is good, as it toughens up the wrappers and makes them easier to handle. After a few minutes, flip them over so both sides will firm up a bit.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil.
Place only a few ravioli at a time into the boiling water - only as many as will float together on the surface without overlapping.
Boil for one minute. They should puff up just a little bit at about the one minute mark.
Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon or small mesh strainer, and place on a plate, without overlapping.
Ladle a small amount of warmed sauce onto plates, or into wide, shallow bowls.
Carefully arrange several ravioli onto the sauce.
Spoon more sauce over the top.
Sprinkle with nutritional yeast or store-bought vegan parmesan.
Variations: Add mushrooms, whole grains, fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, or vegan sausage to the filling. Use kale instead of spinach. Leave out the tofu if you prefer not to eat soy. Try vegan pesto or alfredo sauce instead of the tomato-based sauce. And for a really decadent treat or appetizer, these are awfully good fried - but you didn’t hear it from me.
I’ve already done two versions of Kung Pao on this blog (Kung Powerful Tempeh, and Everyday Kung Pao), but I wanted one that was super fast and easy to make, and that had no oil in it. I had this on the table in no time the other night, because I already had some cooked rice to throw in. You could substitute quinoa if you don’t want to take the time to cook rice, or make the dish without the grain. The veggies and sauce alone are really satisfying.
Super Simple Oil-Free Kung Pao
If you need to cook grains for this, start with 1 cup dry brown rice or quinoa, and get the cooking going first, while you make the sauce and chopping the vegetables.
1 T arrowroot
1/2 cup water
1 T fresh grated ginger
1 T fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup roasted sesame tahini
3 T tamari - or to taste (use the low sodium kind if you can get it)
Did you know you can make ice cream out of frozen bananas? I knew it could be done, but for some silly reason I though I needed a Vitamix to make the magic happen. I’m still waiting patiently for my Vitamix to appear, but maybe it’s a good thing I don’t have one yet, so I can show you that you don’t need to spend $500 on a blender just so you can make the world’s easiest, and dare I say, most delightful ice cream.
If you have a food processor, you can whip up this treat in mere minutes. I have to say, it was a little bit like riding a mechanical bull (which, yes, I have in fact done - once). The food processor jumped all over the counter while I held on tight. But unlike the bull, after a little bit of coaxing, the bananas and berries surrendered, and low and behold, we had the most luscious, smooth, creamy bowl of ice cream you could ever imagine. We ate it all up, right there on the spot, forgetting that we had chocolate sauce to pour over it. Dang. I guess I’ll just have to make some more.
Banana-Berry Ice Cream
2 bananas, sliced and frozen
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 pitted dates, soaked in about 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes or more (keep a jar of dates soaking in the fridge, so you’ll have them for emergency ice cream binges)
Place the bananas, berries, vanilla, and dates in the food processor, saving the date water to add if needed. Blend until smooth (or leave it a little chunky if you like), stopping frequently to scrape the sides of the bowl. If it seems too thick to blend, add the date water a little at a time. The finished ice cream will be kind of a soft serve consistency.
This ice cream can be frozen for later, but I think it’s best eaten right away. And since it’s all fruit, there’s zero guilt. Eat it for breakfast if you want to. I won’t say a thing.
Variations: Try any kind of frozen berries or fruit in place of the strawberries. Add nuts. Add cocoa or cacao powder and extra dates for more sweetness. Add chia seeds for extra nutrition. Stir in chunks of chocolate, fruit, or nuts.
Rick and I ate buckets of hollandaise last week, all in the name of research and good recipe development. Not exactly a terrible thing to have to do, and a whole lot healthier than if I were making the stuff out of butter and eggs. The recipe is ready to share, so in preparation for our Gluten Free March, here’s a lovely sauce that can dress up darn near anything you choose to drown in it… I mean, serve it with. Test this recipe, and make any changes that suit you, so you’ll have it ready to roll forevermore. Maybe a little more turmeric or lemon, or less salt, or even extra cashews in place of the tofu, for those who are anti-soy. (If you’re not sure why you’re anti-soy, re-visit my post from October of last year, What About Soy?) Every day’s a holiday with hollandaise! Watch for my upcoming recipe for the fabulous Veggie Benny!
Vegan Hollandaise Sauce
8 oz. (1/2 block) silken tofu
1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked 1 hour or more
1/4 cup raw pine nuts, soaked with the cashews
4 T nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp herbs de provence or basil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Place all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until very smooth. Warm over low heat in a saucepan. This sauce is so good on so many things, and it won’t send you into cardiac arrest. Enjoy! No eggs + no butter = no guilt.
I will probably always cringe when I hear the words, “bikini season,” but I know a lot of people are starting to think about showing more skin soon, and for some, the post-holiday shape-up is still underway. One of the reasons I decided to try a vegan diet in the first place was to lose weight. I was over 50, and on the fast train to Frumpsville. I had almost resigned myself to just letting it all go, nearly convinced that it was inevitable to gain weight and slow down as I got older. I’m glad I was only nearly convinced, because in fact, I was absolutely wrong about all that. Since going vegan, with the help of exercise, which I added later, I’ve lost somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds. I don’t know exactly how much because I refused to own a scale for years. But when I started running last year, I decided to allow one back into the bathroom, to help me keep track of my progress. As it turns out, the scale actually began to help cheer me on, rather than discourage me, because adding the running to my already healthy diet really started to change my body. I have noticed that “over 50” it’s more of a work in progress than it would have been in my younger years, but it’s still working, and I’m still working at it.
A common misconception is that all vegans are skinny, even emaciated, weaklings, although just a little bit of research will turn up loads of well-known vegan athletes who disprove that stereotype in one fell bench press. At the other end of the spectrum, it’s completely possible to be a chubby or even fat vegan. Just because a food is plant based doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. Fritos and Oreos are vegan, but a steady diet of them won’t get you into swimsuit shape. The point is, we’re all different, we can all be better, and a vegan diet can help us with everything from weight loss to disease prevention and reversal.
After I lost enough poundage to feel pretty good about myself, I came across the idea of checking out my BMI. Body Mass Index estimates the amount of fat in our bodies, based on a simple calculation using height and weight. It’s not precise, but it is a good tool for helping to get real about our health and goals. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re “just big boned,” or “a little chubby,” when in fact we might be officially obese, which of course leads to all sorts of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and “bad” knees and backs. A quick BMI calculation might be just the nudge a “slightly heavy” person needs to get out of denial and on to a healthier life track. A reality check can be an uncomfortable thing, but it’s not as uncomfortable as a heart attack.
For me, having been what I would call fat (see my Before picture on the My Story page of my website), it was good to find out that I’m now smack in the middle of the “healthy” range of weight for my height. Having struggled with my weight for years, I had a hard time really seeing my new and improved body accurately. I still want to lose a few more pounds before the next half marathon in June, but now it’s simply because when I have less to haul, the running is easier.
There are lots of online BMI calculators out there, but the one I like best is on the Mayo Clinic site. They offer a version for adults, as well as one for children, explain briefly what BMI is all about, and offer simple suggestions for making improvements, such as eating fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. More and more, eating a plant based diet is just what the doctor orders. Bikini or no bikini, it just makes sense to do all we can to take good care of these lovely bags of skin we’ve been given to live in. And whatever your choice of swimwear, I’d much rather see you on the beach than in the hospital.
Ready for another PV Giveaway? Me too! Enter to win this super happy, sterling silver necklace by leaving a comment on my blog. Comment on any, and as many posts as you like. I’ll randomly pick the winner next Tuesday, February 26th. Please be sure to sign your name to your comments. If I don’t know who you are, I can’t announce you as the winner!