Vegan Concert: Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO

Last night we saw Ray LaMontagne and David Gray at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, CO—just west of Denver. If you’re never been to a show at Red Rocks, you have to make a trip; it’s one of the BEST venues around to see a concert.  It just doesn’t get any better. The weather was phenomenal and with a view of the Denver lights, there’s not a bad seat in the place. Then the moon came out. It was like an orange slice in the sky:

We went with another couple, who also happen to vegan, and since you’re allowed to bring outside food in, it was easy to throw together a picnic. Before we left for the 1 to 1-1/2 drive, I made up some hummus wraps:

On a garlic and herb tortilla, I spread on some hummus, added cucumber, tomato, and sprouts. I also brought along some extra hummus and some very delicious multi-grain flax seed crackers.

Our friends brought fruit, cookies, and some amazing banana cake/brownies that were so delicious! (I will definitely get the recipe)! There is nothing like going to Red Rocks and seeing some of your favorite musicians, while enjoying some awesome vegan food! It can be done!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are delicious—just like Mom’s. The recipe is from The Joy of Vegan Baking and doesn’t disappoint! It called for 1 cup of nuts, but I left them out since we’re kind of opposed to nuts in cookies and brownies, with the exception of macadamia nut cookies. . .anyway. . .these are yummy. The recipe calls for brown sugar and I have found that storing it in the freezer is the way to go–it only takes about 20 minutes to thaw and once it does, it’s always soft. Just remember to pull it out of the freezer to thaw before using it.

INGREDIENTS:

4-1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer

6 Tbs water

1 C Earth Balance margarine

3/4 C granulated sugar

3/4 C firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2-1/4 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1-2 C nondairy semisweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli is great)

1 C chopped nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor or blender, whip the egg replacer and water together until its thick and creamy. The recipe recommends this for better consistency that what you’d get by doing it by hand. In a large bowl, cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg replacer mixture to this wet mixture and thoroughly combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the wet mixture until it begins to form a dough. When it is almost thoroughly combined, stir in the chips and nuts, if using.

Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of batter onto a nonstick baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper) and bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. The recipe says it makes 1 dozen, but they must have been BIG cookies because I got 35. Enjoy!

Pesto Pizza with Artichokes and Sun-dried Tomatoes

This is an easy pizza to make and will please even the non vegans–I guarantee. The recipe makes about 6 personal-sized pizzas so I tend to either refrigerate/freeze half the dough for another night, or make up all 6 pizzas for the next day’s lunch.

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

2 C flour

1 C whole wheat flour

1 pkg quick-rise dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried rosemary

3/4 C hot tap water, divided

2 Tbs olive oil

The rest:

1-14oz can artichokes, chopped

6-oz jar sun-dried tomatoes, diced

8-oz vegan mozzarella, shredded

1-1/2 C pesto

Optional toppings: mushrooms, olives, spinach, roasted red peppers

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine yeast with 1/4 C of the hot tap water; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, and rosemary. Add yeast and olive oil to the flour mixture and combine, adding the remaining 1/2 C of hot tap water. You may need a little more. Once ingredients are thoroughly combined, place in a large greased bowl and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400. Punch the dough down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide into 6 sections; roll out each section and place on a greased pizza pan or baking sheet. Using a fork, stick each piece of dough several times. Bake for 4 minutes.

Spread each baked crust with a layer of pesto, then top with cheese, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Bake 8-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Feast On This!

Rampant Recalls

There are a plethora of reasons I’m glad my family and I are vegans. One of them is the number of meat and dairy recalls—and we only hear about a few. Obviously, the big one right now is eggs. Half a billion eggs are recalled due to Salmonella.. Half a billion!! How does this happen? I’m so glad that I don’t put my trust into these companies, especially in “Wright Country Eggs” who is owned by Jack DeCoster. 13 years ago, he was fined $2 million for serious workplace violations. Read about this idiot HERE. It’s his business that has distributed the tainted eggs.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspectors Service has issued nearly 40 recalls of eggs, poultry, and other meat. This doesn’t even include milk and milk products. As we know, even vegetables, fruits and other plants are not immune to Salmonella—all because of the meat and dairy industry. Salmonella is a bacteria is normally found in animal’s intestines. It doesn’t stay there. From slate.com:

“Manure, runoff and wild animals— Livestock animals, especially when kept in large numbers in confined spaces, can contract salmonella and carry the bug without showing any symptoms at all. Infected cows, pigs, and chickens shed the bacteria in their waste, which is sometimes used to fertilize nearby fields. The heat generated when manure is composted kills off most, but not all, disease-causing bacteria. Contaminated water supplies can also put salmonella on your tomatoes. Runoff from livestock pastures, or from leaky or overtopped waste lagoons at industrial farming sites, can dirty streams, groundwater, and other bodies of water farmers draw on for irrigation.”

The 2006 outbreak of E. coli in spinach, for example, was traced to a pack of wandering wild boars. The swine had picked up tainted cow manure on their hooves before breaking through the fence of a nearby spinach field to graze.

Zemco Industries of Buffalo, N.Y., has voluntarily recalled nearly half-a-million pounds of deli meat products distributed nationwide to Walmart stores because of possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, a potentially deadly disease. If we can get our sources of protein, calcium, and vitamins from non-animals sources, why take these risks? Especially considering this:

“In 1999, produce was responsible for 40 separate food poisoning incidents in the United States. In 2004, that number climbed to 86. There have been 13 major outbreaks involving tomatoes alone since 1990.

Why the shift? One factor is a lack of inspections of farms and packing plants by the Food and Drug Administration, which means that more contaminated produce slips into the market undetected. The U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects every meatpacking plant in the country each day, keeping close tabs on safety conditions. By contrast, the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with regulating produce, might inspect a vegetable packing facility once a year, and the number of inspections is shrinking. In 1972, the FDA inspected 50,000 farms and plants. By 2006, that number had dwindled to 10,000. Meanwhile, having increasingly centralized packing plants means that crops from a single contaminated field can mingle with clean produce and be shipped across a wider swath of the country than ever before.”

-slate.com

Vegans are not immune to product recalls and contaminated food—no one is, but at least we have choices of where to get our vegetables and we know where most of them come from, especially if we buy local.


Now, Why Didn’t I Think of This?

So this has nothing to do with food, but it’s so brilliant, I wanted to share it everyone. The Husband sent me a link to The Conscious Mind Network. I was enthralled because it’s just so cool. Scott Brusaw and his wife Julie have this amazing idea to create solar powered roadways. I don’t even know where to begin to explain this idea because well, I was an art major, not an engineer. I am humbled by these brilliant minds. What the Brusaws propose is that solar paneled roadways would not only pay for themselves over time, but create 3 times the energy that the world uses on a daily basis. How cool is that?

Check out this amazing project at Solar Roadways and watch a video explaining the project (in terms that most of us non-engineers can understand) and vote for Brusaw’s vision at GE’s Ecomagination Challenge.


Think of me tonite
For that which you savor
Did it give you something real,
or could you taste the pain of my death in its flavor?

-Wayne K. Tolson, from “Food Forethought”

Tempeh and Peanut Stir-fry

This is another quick meal to make when you’re short on time. You can substitute the soba noodles with rice if you’d like and add other ingredients such as bamboo shoots or Chinese snow peas.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pkg tempeh, diced

1 Tbs olive oil

1 med zucchini, sliced then quartered

1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces

1/2 a med onion, cut into large pieces

8-10 mushrooms, quartered

1/2 C lightly salted peanuts

12-14 oz soba noodles or 2 C cooked rice

Sauce:

1 Tbs cornstarch

1/8 C water

1/2 C shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce

1 tsp mirin

1/2 tsp brown rice vinegar

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp ginger

2 Tbs Hoisin sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. In the meantime, cook the noodles or rice. Add the zucchini, tempeh, onion, and bell pepper to the pan and saute for about 15 minutes. Drizzle with a little mirin. While these are cooking, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients, then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce mixture. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook just a few minutes–I don’t like shriveled mushrooms, so I always add them last. Stir in the sauce and the peanuts and combine well. Let it simmer a couple of minutes, then serve on the noodles or rice. Enjoy!

Pasta with “Meat” Sauce

It really doesn’t get much easier than this, especially when you’re short on time to make dinner. It was my night to host writer’s group, so I needed something quick to whip up. I used Boca Crumbles, but Field Roast makes an Italian “sausage” that I think would work nicely as well.

INGREDIENTS:

14-16oz pasta, cooked

1 jar spaghetti or marinara sauce

1 bag Boca Meatless Crumbles (use as much as you want–depending on how “meaty” you want it)

Vegan mozzarella, shredded

Optional: 6-8 mushrooms, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

I added the frozen  Boca Crumbles directing into the pan with the sauce, warming them together. I also added some sliced mushrooms and simmered everything for about 10-15 minutes. Top pasta with the sauce and cheese and you’re done! This is a great combination of carbohydrates and protein and perfect for the night before a hike or activity when you need some extra umph. Even for my morning run, I tend to go further, longer. Never a bad thing. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

So I finally got The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, author of my other favorite cookbook, The Vegan Table, and as you can see . . . I’ve already picked out some recipes to try.

Ideal timing for the coming fall and winter! The 6th Grader was craving coffee cake, so that’s where we started and it didn’t disappoint. The recipe is quite easy and perfect for throwing together for last minute guests.

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

1 C nondairy milk (I used almond milk)

1/3 C canola oil

1 Tbs white distilled vinegar

1 C unbleached, all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour (I used all purpose)

1/2 C granulated sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

Crumble:

3/4 C unbleached all purpose flour, or whole wheat pastry flour (again, I used all purpose)

1/4 C granulated or brown sugar (I used brown sugar)

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 C chopped walnuts (I used pecans as I was out of walnuts)

1/3 C canola oil or nondairy butter, melted (I used Earth Balance butter)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9″ square baking dish/cake pan. To make cake, combine milk, oil, and vinegar in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

To make the crumble, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and walnuts. Add the butter or oil and use your hands to thoroughly work it into the dry ingredients. Spoon on top of the batter (I found sprinkling with my hands worked better) and covering the entire area.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature. I think this would also be yummy if drizzled with some some icing once it cooled completely. . . Enjoy!

Steamed Broccoli with Craisins and Pine Nuts

The flavors in this side dish mingled beautifully together and was a nice change from just plain old steamed broccoli! If you’re not a big broccoli fan, try this with other veggies like chard, spinach or asparagus.

INGREDIENTS:

2 heads of broccoli, trimmed

Handful of craisins

Handful of pine nuts

1 Tbs Earth Balance margarine

Truffle oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Steam the broccoli for about 10-12 minutes. Add the craisins and pine nuts and mix them well with the broccoli; steam another 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the margarine. Drizzle with truffle oil and stir to combine. Add a little salt and pepper, if desired and enjoy!

Feast On This!

Chloe Coscarelli, the (vegan) Cupcake Champ!


Ms. Coscarelli, a vegan chef beat out some very stiff competition on Cupcake Wars, on the Food Network. I am so glad that not only did Chloe prove that vegan food can beat out all others, but that Food Network is starting to recognize vegan food. It’s about time. I am waiting (im)patiently for them to finally get a vegan-based cooking show–I have a feeling it will be soon. In the meantime, check out Coscarelli’s site—there are lots of delicious recipes!


World Vegan Day: November 1st!


Mark your calendars! What a great opportunity to invite your friends, family, and neighbors to your humble abode for a delicious vegan feast! In the process, spread the word that not only is going vegan the best thing to do for your health (and for the animals), but healthy for the environment as well. This annual event began in 1994 by Louise Wallis, then President & Chair of the The Vegan Society, which has been around for nearly 66 years.

Check out World Vegan Day 2010 for more information and lots of great tips, recipes and links!


No Such Thing as a “Late Bloomer” Anymore. . .

. . .thanks to the hormones in milk—at least that’s a theory. For the last  ten years or so, researchers and physicians have been seeing huge jumps in development in girls (not to mention obesity) and speculate that milk could be partly to blame. Every sip of cow’s milk contains 59 different bioactive hormones, according to endocrinologist, Clark Grosvenor in the Journal of Endocrine Reviews. Yuck! What’s more, is that milk also contains traces of the reproductive hormones estradiol, testosterone, and something called IGF-1 which may raise the risk of certain kinds of prostate cancer. Check out preventcancer.com for more on that…

However, we can’t lay ALL the blame on souped up cow’s milk. Soy milk, with it’s natural estrogen is also being investigated as a culprit of early puberty. Still, at least the soybean isn’t tortured, pumped full of hormones and subjected to a life of hell.

There are lots of different theories and lots of different variables, but why take chances? Pass me some almond milk, please.

Comic thanks to Bizarro.com and Dan Piraro


“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”

-Plutarch, Greek philosopher

Zucchini-Tofu Scramble with Roasted Red Peppers

I love tofu scrambles—as you have probably already gathered, but they’re so easy to change up and are perfect for those times when you need to clean out the produce drawer of on-the-verge-veggies. You can pile it into a wrap or a toasted English muffin, or just eat it as it is. I had half a package of tofu just waiting for me to use it, so it was easy to figure out what to make. A great protein-packed breakfast to start the day.

INGREDIENTS:

7-8oz tofu, extra firm, drained and pressed

1 small zucchini, sliced, then quartered

1 jarred roasted red pepper, diced

1/3 C salsa

3 green onions, sliced

1/3 C fresh cilantro, chopped

1/3-1/2 C Vegan cheese, shredded (any kind you like: cheddar, pepper jack, Monterrey Jack, etc)

1 avocado, diced

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

A few dashes cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet. Add zucchini and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper and saute another 5 minutes. In a small bowl, break up the tofu to resemble scrambled eggs. Add turmeric, cumin, and cayenne; stir to combine. Add tofu and green onions; combine well with the veggies. Saute for about 4 minutes and then stir in the salsa, cilantro, and cheese. Finish off with salt and pepper and then top individual servings with some avocado. Enjoy!

Quinoa Wraps

My favorite vegan restaurant, Tasty Harmony, makes the best quinoa wraps and I wanted to duplicate it at home. I think I did a pretty good job, but theirs are just plain awesome and hard to totally copy.  You can serve these warm or cold and ordinarily I would use whole wheat wraps, but I didn’t have any. I served these with a spinach salad and it made a quick and healthy meal (especially after all those cupcakes)! They are also ideal to pack for a picnic–don’t forget, quinoa is a great source of protein!

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

1 avocado, diced

1/2 pkg baked tofu, such as from Westsoy, diced

1 plum tomato, diced

Sandwich wraps

Caesar dressing:

1 Tbs Vegenaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp vegan Worchestershire sauce

1/4 C olive oil

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Add quinoa to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. If you want a cold wrap, make this earlier and keep refrigerated. If you’re in a rush, place pan of quinoa in a sink of cold water. To make dressing: Whisk together all ingredients. Pile on the quinoa, avocado, baked tofu, and tomato onto a wrap and drizzle with the dressing. Enjoy!

Lemon Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

These are perfect little, squatty, tasty, cute cupcakes. The outside is crispy, slightly sticky with lemon cake goodness on the inside. They are easy to make and once frosted, gone in seconds!

INGREDIENTS:

1 C soft Silken tofu

4 heaping tsp egg replacer powder mixed with 10 Tbs water

3/4 C granulated sugar

2 Tbs lemon juice

Rind of 1 lemon, grated

1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Frosting:

1/2 C vegan margarine

2 C confectioners’ sugar

1 Tbs plain or vanilla soy milk

3/4 tsp pure lemon extract, or vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325. Using a mixer, mix the tofu until smooth. Add sugar, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Mix until thick, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Slowly add to the tofu mixture and mix until smooth and thick.

In the medium bowl with the egg replacer and water, add the cream of tartar and mix for about 5 minutes until it is well combined and a little fluffy. Fold it into the tofu and flour mixture. Grease a muffin tin and fill each one with a 1/4 cup of the mixture. I got 11 cupcakes. . .why not a dozen? I have no idea. Oh well.

Bake for 35-40 minutes–the edges will get a little brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before removing them from the pan and frosting them.

To make frosting: Let margarine sit out until room temperature. Using a mixer, mix the margarine until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, soy milk and flavoring. Combine thoroughly. You may need to adjust the consistency to how you’d like it by adding more milk or more sugar. Since all I could find was one lonely frosting tip and no pastry bag, I snipped off the corner of a zip lock back as a substitute. It worked lovely. Enjoy!

Asian Coleslaw

We received another head of cabbage from our CSA this week and I wanted to try making an Asian version of coleslaw.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cone-headed cabbage before. . .anyway, this is would great as a side dish, in a wrap with Asian-spiced seitan, baked tofu strips, or with plum sauce and sauteed tempeh.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head of cabbage, sliced thin/shredded

3 Tbs rice vinegar

3 Tbs vegetable oil

1-1/2 Tbs Shoyu (you can also use tamari or soy sauce)

1-1/2 Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs grated ginger root

1 tsp garic, minced

1 large carrot, grated

1 yellow or red bell pepper, sliced thin

1/2 C fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/8 C Vegenaise

3 green onions, sliced thin

1/4 C sunflower seeds

1/4 C slivered almonds

DIRECTIONS:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, vegetable oil, shoyu, brown sugar, ginger root, Vegenaise, and garlic. Add cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, sunflower seeds, and slivered almonds. With a rubber spatula, fold and stir all the ingredients together until well combined. Enjoy!

For this, I layered on some plum sauce, the coleslaw and some teriyaki baked tofu on a tortilla, then warmed it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Fold in half and enjoy a quick and tasty lunch or dinner!

Spinach and Pesto Lasagna

Oh, man. Have you ever made it to vegan food nirvana? Well, this lasagna will take you there. Of course, you’ll have to come back, but you can always go back for seconds. It looked so good as I assembled it, I wanted to eat it right then and there. I used my previous pesto recipe as well as my “ricotta” cheese recipe that I use for the stuffed shells and vegetable lasagna. To make things easier, I made those earlier in the day. I also decided to use regular lasagna noodles instead of the no-boil variety, and I was a little weary, but not only were they easy to use, we preferred them over the no-boil ones.  I just cooked them very al dente since they will continue to cook later in the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

3 Tbs Earth Balance Margarine

2 shallots, minced

1/4 C all purpose flour

2-1/2 C almond milk

1/2 C white wine

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

2 portobellos, diced

“Ricotta Cheese”:

1-14oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 C fresh basil leaves

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 to 3/4 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

Pesto:

2-1/2 C fresh basil leaves

1/2 C parsley

1 C pine nuts

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/8 C lemon juice

1/3 C olive oil

3 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

The rest:

2-1/2 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

4-5 C baby spinach

12 lasagna noodles

DIRECTIONS:

I recommend making the “ricotta” mixture and pesto earlier. To make pesto, combine the basil leaves, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and process until well combine and smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To make the tofu mixture, combine all ingredients except the mozzarella cheese in a food processor. Process until smooth and then transfer to a bowl. Stir in the cheese and again, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil the noodles until al dente–don’t have to cook them like regular pasta. While these are boiling, start the sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the margarine over medium to high heat. Add the shallots and saute for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the flour and white wine. Add the almond milk and lower heat; cook until it begins to thicken, stirring often. Add salt, portobellos, and Parmesan cheese.

Spread a ladle full of sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.  Make sure you rinse the noodles with water to keep them separated—you may have to do this a few times throughout the process. Layer 3 noodles on the bottom of the pan, on top of the sauce. Next, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the tofu mixture onto each noodle. Do the same with the pesto. Then add a later of spinach, then sprinkle on some cheese.

Top with 3 more noodles and then another 1-2 ladles of sauce on top. Repeat layers 2 more times and then top with remaining 3 noodles, the rest of the sauce, and the cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes. For the last 5-7 minutes of baking, you can remove the foil and continue baking in order to melt the cheese on top. Let sit a couple of minutes before slicing up. Next stop: vegan food nirvana.

Enjoy!

Quick Szechuan Stir-Fry

CAUTION: this can get hot very quickly—that is, when I make it. I tend to get a little heavy handed with the hot spices, much to the dismay of the rest of family. Once again, I put a little too much heat on this stir-fry, earning a few glares from the Husband and 6th Grader. They agreed that it was really tasty and liked the udon noodles a lot, but the numb lips interfered a little. Next time I’ll go easy on the szechuan sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

1-8oz pkg Koyo Organic round udon noodles

1/4-1/2 C szechuan sauce like San-J brand

1/4-1/3 C tamari sauce

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

1 garlic clove, minced

1-2 Tbs olive oil

1 small summer squash, cut into small pieces

1 can sliced water chestnuts

8-10 mushrooms, sliced

4-5 green onions, sliced

Toasted sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS:

Cook noodles according to package instructions (they take about 7-8 minutes). Heat olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Add bell pepper, water chestnuts, and squash; saute for about 15 minutes, or until softened. Add mushrooms, green onions, tamari, and szechuan sauce. I’d start with about a 1/4 cup of the szechuan sauce and go from there. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, then add the cooked noodles to the pan and stir to combine everything. Top with sesame seeds. Depending on how hot you make it, serve it with a hankie to wipe the brow! Enjoy!

“Tuna” Salad Sandwich

This recipe is from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone who says this recipe doesn’t exactly replicate tuna, but isn’t necessarily trying to. It has a taste all its own and she’s correct. It’s delicious in its own right. I recommend making this ahead of time as it requires steaming tempeh and marinating onions, as well as chilling time—all worth it.

INGREDIENTS:

1-8oz pkg tempeh

1 red onion, minced

1/4 C umeboshi vinegar

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 carrot, chopped (I used a full carrot as I usually don’t have a use for 1/2 a carrot)

1/2 C frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/3 C frozen peas, thawed

1/2 small cucumber, chopped

1/4 C chopped kosher dill pickles

1 Tbs Vegenaise

1/2 tbs Dijon mustard

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs chopped fresh dill, or to taste

1 Tbs drained capers (I left these out–not a big fan)

2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Optional ingredients: I added about 2 tablespoons of Tofutti sour cream for extra creaminess and also some salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cut tempeh in half and steam for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the onion and boil for 10-15 seconds. Used a strainer or slotted spoon to transfer onion to a mixing bowl. Keep water boiling on the stove. Add the vinegar to the onions and let marinate for 30 minutes.

Blanch the celery, carrots, corn, and peas in the reserved boiling water for 10 seconds each, scooping them into a mixing bowl as each veggie is done. Set aside to cool.

Drain the marinated onions on a sieve, and rinse quickly under running water. Squeeze the excess liquid from the onions, and add to the bowl with the vegetables. Cut the cooled tempeh into small cubes, and add to the bowl along with the cucumber, pickles, Vegenaise, mustard, lemon juice and dill. This is also were I added the sour cream and salt and pepper. Serve topped with capers and parsley. (I stirred parsley in with the other ingredients). Enjoy!

Vegetable Soup

I have been craving soup for two days now and since I’m not big on the canned variety, I finally made my own fresh batch. It was exactly what I’ve been needing. This has got me all geared up for fall soup season!

INGREDIENTS:

8 C vegetable broth (you can substitute up to 3 cups with water if you wish)

3 organic potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin

3 celery stalks, sliced thin

1 small onion, diced

6 mushrooms, sliced thin

1/2 C white wine

1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbs fresh chives, chopped

1-1/2 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp dried tarragon

1 Tbs dried minced onion

1 Tbs garlic powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion and celery. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes, carrots, and celery soften. Add the mushrooms, fresh herbs, tarragon, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and wine; cook another 5-8 minutes. Voila! You’re done and ready to enjoy!

Breakfast Burritos

I love lazy Sunday mornings. The Husband and I decided to combine forces and throw together a tasty breakfast. He loves hasbhbrowns, so he fired those up and I worked on the rest of the ingredients in another pan. It was a lovely joint venture.

INGREDIENTS:

1 16-oz bag hashbrowns

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

4 green onions, sliced thin

2 Field Roast sausages (Chipotle flavor)

1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped

Olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Flour tortillas, warmed

Optional ingredients: Tofutti sour cream, vegan shredded cheddar, salsa

DIRECTIONS:

Pretty easy: The Husband seasoned the hashbrowns with salt and pepper and cooked them in one skillet, while I sauteed the peppers in some olive oil for about 10-15 minutes in another skillet. I then added the sausage, which just needs to be heated through–no “cooking” involved. I had two leftover sausages from the casserole, so this was perfect.  Then I added the green onions and cooked them a few more minutes until they began to soften. Once the hashbrowns were browned, about 25 minutes, we combined the two pans and stirred in the cilantro. Spoon onto a tortilla, adding the optional ingredients, if using. Enjoy!

Sauteed Tofu with Shallots, Almonds, and Amaretto

This recipe, from Vegan Planet, was certainly yummy, but it struck us as more of a breakfast than a dinner meal. The tofu had a pancake-like texture and the amaretto gave it a sweet, syrup-y taste. It was delicious, but I could see serving it for breakfast or brunch, rather than dinner.

INGREDIENTS:

1-16 oz (I used 14 oz) pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed and cut into 1/4″ thick slices

1/4 C all purpose flour

Salt and black pepper

3 Tbs olive oil

4 shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 C vegetable broth

1/4 C amaretto or other other almond-flavored liqueur

1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted

1 Tbs minced fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Dredge the tofu in the flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook until brown on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side. Remove from skillet, transfer to a plate; set aside.

Add the shallots to the skillet, cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and liqueur and heat almost to boiling. Reduce the heat to low, return the tofu to the pan, add the almonds and parsley, and simmer to infuse the tofu with the flavor of the sauce and heat through.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Quinoa with Shallots and Pine Nuts

This is one of those easy side dishes that is not only versatile, but hard to screw up. Quinoa is such a great source of protein and inexpensive. I decided to just throw together different ingredients and came up with this uncomplicated accompaniment to any main dish.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

2 C vegetable broth

2 shallots, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/4 C fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp truffle oil

1 Tbs olive oil

1/2 C pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add the shallots. Saute them a about 5 minutes until they soften. Add the quinoa and toast it for a couple of minutes until they begin to pop and brown. Add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, in a small saute pan, heat the truffle oil. Add the pine nuts and toast them until they begin to brown. Stir in the parsley and pine nuts into the quinoa and serve. Enjoy!

Feast On This!

Would You Serve an All Vegan Wedding or Party?

This question came up onYumSugar, prompted by the recent wedding of Chelsea Clinton, a fellow vegan. She threw an all-vegan wedding, however, did offer a grass-fed beef. Allergic to gluten, she had a gluten-free cake, as well. The responses were mixed. Some people felt that the bride and groom were obligated to offer different types of food for their guests and make their guests comfortable. (How can veggies make someone uncomfortable)? Others felt that if the bride and groom are paying for it, they should serve whatever they like.

I was surprised by the amount of people who expected meat at a wedding. It’s ONE meal. And it’s free! I think serving an all vegan wedding would be such a fabulous opportunity to show people how amazing vegan food is. The problem is, (I think) is that people have a preconceived notion that vegan food is boring and tasteless, so they’ll hate it before they even taste it. VegNews highlighted several different vegan weddings that would inspire anyone!

What do you think? Do you feel obligated to serve meat at a party or wedding?


Veggie Power!

Urban Veganista did a great post on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recent report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. You can read the report here.  As Urban Veganista pointed out (and what got me so excited) is that the Dietary Guideline Committee suggests that Americans should transition to a plant -based diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains., but fell short of promoting a vegan/vegetarian diet. Still, it’s awesome news.

“Our review indicated that intake of vegetable protein is generally linked to lower blood pressure, but this could be due to other components in plant foods, such as fiber, or other nutrients. Individual sources of vegetable protein have no unique health benefits so choice of plant protein sources can come from a wide range of plant-based foods.”

However, when I read, or should I say, tried to decipher, the report, I was a little frustrated. Studies they cited throughout the report were all “inconclusive”, especially regarding soy protein vs. animal protein. Luckily, there were some studies that helped propel a vegan view point:

  • Processed meat is linked to cancer, particularly breast, prostrate and colorectal cancers
  • Consumption of total meat and red and processed meat (combined) was linked to developing elevated blood pressure and hypertension
  • Increase plant-based foods in order to combat obesity

The report clearly shows that there needs to be more research and studies done, but it’s a positive start and step in the right direction.


“I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.”

- Gandhi

Vegan Sausage Breakfast Casserole

It was a beautiful, lazy morning, and I love to cook in the morning, however, it seems I usually don’t have the time. It was also a good opportunity to clean out the fridge of the on-the-verge veggies that I just couldn’t see get thrown away. This casserole was creamy, spicy and a great way to start the day. (And to satisfy my morning-cooking-craving). The 6th Grader even said, “Dad better not eat it all before tomorrow morning.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 Field Roast Sausages, Mexican Chipotle flavor, crumbled

1/4 of a head of cabbage, any variety, shredded

1/2 a large red bell pepper, diced

1 large leek, chopped

6-8 mushrooms, diced

1 small zucchini, diced

2 C crackers, broken into large crumbles (herbed crackers would be nice for added flavor)

1 C Tofutti sour cream

1-3/4 C vegan cheddar, shredded and divided

Dashes of cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Spread cracker crumbles on the bottom of a 9×13″ pan; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add bell pepper, cabbage, leek, and sausage. Saute about 10-12 minutes until vegetables are just beginning to soften and turn brown. Add mushrooms, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper; cook another 3 minutes, or so.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream with about 3/4 cup of the cheddar. Layer on top of the cracker “crust”. You want to avoid dropping big clumps of it because you want it to be evenly spread on top of the crackers. Try and spread it around as best you can.

Layer with sausage mixture and spread it out evenly. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

Let it sit a couple of minutes before slicing it up. Enjoy!

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Yep, they are as good as they look! They are also simple to make and you can either grill them or bake them in the oven. I went the oven route as I was afraid they’d fall apart on the grill. These go great with the cole slaw that I made earlier today, which can also be easily thrown together while the burgers are baking.

INGREDIENTS:

1-15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tsp egg replacer powder

1 C cooked brown rice (1/2 cup dried with 1/2 cup water)

1 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs cumin

2 tsp garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1/8-1/4 C bread crumbs

Hamburger buns

Optional ingredients: sliced avocado, sliced tomato, iceberg lettuce, Tofutti cheese slices

DIRECTIONS:

If using the oven, preheat it to 375, otherwise, heat the grill. Also, this is a good time to get the brown rice cooking—I used the instant stuff. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans. (I find that a pastry blender works great for this). Mash them up as much as you’d like—I prefer to have some chunkiness to the burger, so I don’t go overboard with the mashing.

In a food processor, combine the green pepper, onion, and garlic. Just pulse it a couple of times, otherwise it’ll turn soupy and you don’t want that! Add to the black beans and mix in. Then add the cooked rice, egg replacer, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and bread crumbs. Stir well to combine.

Shape into patties. (I got 5 large patties). If using the oven, place patties on a baking sheet lined with greased foil.

Bake about 12-15 minutes on each side. If grilling, cook about 8-10 minutes per side over medium heat.If using cheese, add slice for the last minute of baking, or until it melts a bit.

Top with your favorite burger ingredients and enjoy!

Easy Cole Slaw

We received a head of cabbage in our CSA this week, and as I stared at it, wondering what to do with it, I ended up with the obvious: cole slaw. The original recipe is from Bobby Flay and all I had to do was veganize it—pretty simple. I really like the flavors in this slaw—not too tangy, but not bland like some slaws tend to be.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head green cabbage, finely shredded ( I think a combo of red and green would be great)

2 large carrots, finely shredded

3/4 cup Vegenaise

2 tablespoons Tofutti sour cream

2 tablespoons grated Spanish onion

2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

2 teaspoons celery salt,

Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

Add to the cabbage mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired. Enjoy!

Product Review: Tofutti Yours Truly Cones

I have come to learn that thankfully, going vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up ice cream. I may not be able to grab a cone at the downtown ice cream shop, but thanks to Tofutti, I can enjoy it at home. I was actually going to pick up some Tofutti Cuties but my heart went aflutter when I spotted these. I can’t remember the cost (under $4.50 for 4) but who cares. They were worth it.

The scoop of ice cream is coated in a thick dark dark chocolate that is then sprinkled with chunks of cookie crunchies–delicious!! Then the ice cream. It’s smooth and cream vanilla (the outside of the box tells you all this) and the inside of the cone is lined with a thin layer of chocolate.

Now the cone is a little on the chewy/soft side and I don’t know if that’s how most frozen ice cream cones are because it’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve had one, so it could be the norm for such desserts. So don’t expect a real crunchy cone. I wasn’t complaining too much though–the thin layer of chocolate in the cone made up for that.

Each cone comes with 220 calories and 13 grams of fat, 3 of which are saturated. We’re also looking at 24 grams of carbs and 21 grams of sugar, but it’s still less than the real deal. So indulge every once in a while and enjoy!

Vegan Vacation: Jackson Hole, WY

I’m definitely still in vacation mode–this was probably one of the most relaxing trips we’ve been on. After an 8 to 9 hour drive, we arrived in Kelly, Wyoming in the beautiful Tetons National Park. We stayed in Budge’s Slide Lake Cabins just outside Kelly and about 20 minutes north of Jackson Hole.

This was absolutely a great location for us—secluded, close to Jackson Hole, and not far at all from both the Tetons National Park and Yellowstone. The Gros Ventre River flows out of Slide Lake as well and a short trek along the lake gave us a spectacular view of the Tetons:

(Sunset)

(Sunrise)

Since the cabins are located right on the lake, we spent lots of time lounging around on the patio taking in the sun, watching the kayakers, and reading.

Currently, I’m reading The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard:

Having access to a full kitchen was really great—it saved us some money and we didn’t have to drive into Jackson for every meal. I was able to make a few things ahead of time like granola, vegan ranch dressing, tofu spread, and the filling for lasagna. We arrived around 6:30, so we went with easy spaghetti for dinner.

(View from the kitchen)

The next morning I went for a run along the lake and then had a breakfast of granola and English muffins with peanut butter. Another morning, I also made a tofu scramble with some tempeh bacon I made ahead of time. With some Tofutti sour cream in a warmed tortilla, it was delicious, especially when you need something to stick to your ribs for a big day of hiking. We decided to go to Jenny Lake, only about a half hour drive from the cabin and a must see when visiting the Tetons. We made this trek before about 3 years ago and knew what to expect. The most popular hike is fairly easy and after 2 miles, you’ll come to the Cascade Falls:

By the time we got here, it was time for a snack. Lara bars are a yummy vegan energy bar that I love. My mom, her friend, and The 6th Grader took the ferry back to the trail head ($6.50/person one-way). The Husband and I made the hike back and met them for a picnic along the lake–which is right at the base of the Tetons.

We packed a picnic of Boca “chicken” wraps, fruit, and chips. It was so relaxing and a great place to relax after the hike.

Other dinners at the cabin: Grilled veggie burgers and I made lasagna. We also had an appetizer night serving the tofu spread, Can’t Say it’s Cheese spread, avocado bruschetta, salad and rice.

The Husband, being the manly-man he is, grilled a Smart Dog over a campfire and said it was quite delicious.

The next day we decided to drive north about an hour to the south entrance of Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake where he started with a lakeside picnic.

We packed bagels with Tofutti cream cheese, avocado, and tomato. They were fresh and delicious and perfect for a picnic.

After a warm and sunny picnic, we braved the roads with hundreds of others to visit the other amazing sights of Yellowstone: Old Faithful, Midway Geyser, Biscuit Basin, and the Fountain Mud Pots.

 

OK…On to Jackson Hole—what you’re all probably more interested than my family photos. So I was pretty apprehensive about finding vegan options in a place that is surrounded by cattle and buffalo.

(Who’d want to eat this cute guy)?!

I was looking on my iphone for vegan options in Jackson, particularly, Harvest Natural Foods Cafe, which is vegetarian, but in the meantime, we came across Lotus Cafe, just a block from the town square on a quiet street.

It was around 1pm and were able to score a patio table in some shade (actually, they let us move a table into the shade). It didn’t appear to be air conditioned inside, so it proved to be cooler on the patio. We were really impressed with the many vegetarian/vegan options on the menu–it was so hard to decide. I opted for the Thai Curry Bowl with tofu for $12.99.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get one bite of it. After finding about 5 bugs in in, I took it back. I was told that the greens were fresh from the farm that morning and probably did not get rinsed well. They are an organic cafe, so it’s to be expected, but I sure the hell didn’t want it in my meal. They were very apologetic about it and I decided to order the same thing The Husband got: The Aztec Enchiladas for $12.99. They are corn tortillas stuffed with quinoa and served with enchilada sauce and avocados, lentils, and steamed kale.

I believe it was also served with creme fraiche but I obviously didn’t use any. Anyhow, I had to wait again for a my meal and while The Husband loved the enchiladas, I wasn’t as moved as he was. They were good, but not great. I didn’t like the lentils and the kale tasted funny. I would definitely like to try making my own quinoa stuffed enchiladas because they were good. I was hoping they were comp me my meal but, they didn’t. Oh well. I certainly would eat at Lotus Cafe again–they have lots of other vegan options that I would love to try.

For our last night, we wanted to have dinner in Jackson. I looked through a Jackson Hole 2010 Dining Guide that was in the cabin. We picked Nani’s Cucina Italiana:

What drew me in was that on their advertisement in the dining guide, they accommodate to various dietary needs, including veganism. I was ecstatic.  Since we were also with two nonvegans, there were options for everyone. We sat on the patio that faced the quiet street, just off of the town square.

It was certainly on the pricey side, but we figured since it was our last night and this was only our 2nd restaurant meal of the trip, we could splurge. The Husband and 6th Grader ordered regular spaghetti, each for $13.99.

They both loved it. They said it was amazing, so I guess that means spaghetti at home will be a disappointment. My mom went vegetarian with fresh linguine with pistachio cream sauce for $18 and said it was outstanding. For my meal, I went pasta-less. For vegetarians/vegans, Nani’s offers an entree for $19 where you can choose from three of the following:  roasted tomatoes or potatoes, soft polenta, grilled zucchini, peas sautéed with onion, chard sautéed with pine nuts & raisins, sautéed oyster mushrooms, vegetable & chickpea salad, sautéed broccolletti, or braised green beans. I went with the roasted potatoes, sauteed oyster mushrooms, and the chard sauteed with pine nuts and raisins.

I was blown away. This was by far one of the BEST restaurant meals I have had in a long time. The flavors of everything was fresh and savory. The chard was amazing. It was the perfect amount for one meal, but I would have loved to have had leftovers. Oh my gosh, it was amazing. Everyone loved their meals and agreed that it was the perfect place for a farewell dinner—or any dinner for that matter.

The 6th Grader’s dessert stomach was of course empty, so he ordered the sorbet sampler:

He loved it and after a taste test of each, I wish I had ordered my own.  Overall, it was a fabulous choice for dinner and is clearly a popular place, as it was getting packed as we were leaving. I highly recommend Nani’s for the food and great service.

According to the dining guide, there are other places offering vegan/vegetarian options. A previous guest of the cabin wrote in the guest book that Jackson Lake Lodge, about a half hour north of Kelly, had lots of vegetarian/vegan options and the place overall, has been highly rated.

Other places worth looking into: Betty Rock Cafe, Bon Appe Thai, Chinatown Restaurant, or Ocean City Chinese Bistro. We also found Jackson Whole Grocer, a natural and organic grocery store that everything we could possibly need as vegans.

It was an amazing vacation, especially since my mom had never seen the Tetons or been to Yellowstone, so it was great to share this with her. Anyway, hope I haven’t bored you to pieces with my trip photos and food ramblings.