Edamame Guacamole

Edamame Guacamole -- Epicurean VeganI think I may have just replaced my favorite guacamole . . . well, maybe I won’t go that far, but this is pretty darn delish. The addition of edamame is ideal–for taste and for the fact that there are 16 grams of protein per cup of these cute, little soybeans. This is great for dipping or for using as a sandwich condiment . . . or grab a spoon and start eating—I won’t judge! :)

1 C edamame, thawed if frozen
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
1/3 C white onion, chopped
1/8 C lime juice (you may need a little more for thinning the dip)
1 C packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Throw it all in the food processor! That’s about it. You can add more lime juice if it’s too thick. Enjoy!

Edamame Guacamole -- Epicurean Vegan

Spinach Fettuccine with Creamy Pesto Sauce

Spinach Fettuccine with Creamy Pesto Sauce -- Epicurean VeganThis is such an easy meal to whip up when you have very little time. I typically keep prepared pesto in the freezer for such times and of course, I still I have the huge block of cashew cheese that is conveniently stored in the freezer as well. Done in less than 25 minutes!

12-14 oz spinach fettuccine, cooked
1-1/2 Tbs cornstarch
2/3 C non dairy milk (not rice milk–too thin)
1/3 + 1 tsp vegetable broth
1/3 C prepared basil pesto
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cashew cheese, shredded (Optional)

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Whisk in cornstarch, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in milk and broth. Add pesto and whisk thoroughly. Return to low to medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. I added the 1 teaspoon of broth here to thin out the sauce just a little. Ladle sauce over individual bowls of pasta and top with cashew cheese. Enjoy!

Almond Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Almond Sour Cream Coffee Cake -- Epicurean VeganI love almond anything. I even love anything almond-scented. This cake was a breeze to make and has a cake/cookie consistency. In fact, the dough is very cookie dough-like, so don’t be alarmed–it’s supposed to be that way! A slice of this is perfect for dessert or with that morning tea or coffee.

1/2 C  Earth Balance margarine
1 C sugar
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
4 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp  almond extract
1/4 C Tofutti sour cream
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C brown sugar
1 Tbs flour
2 Tbs butter
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
2-3 tsp non dairy milk

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and water; set aside. In a large bowl, cream together margarine and sugar. Add “egg” mixture to butter mixture and combine well. Add vanilla and almond extracts and stir well to combine. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour and sour cream to the butter mixture, but do it alternatively; starting and ending with the flour. The mixture will resemble cookie dough.

For the strudel, chop up the butter, add the brown sugar and flour and use a pastry blender to make it crumbly. Grease a bundt pan and sprinkle 1/3 of strudel in the pan. Next, take take 1/2 of the dough and using your hands, spread it somewhat evenly in the pan, on top of the strudel. Add another 1/3 of the strudel, then the other half of the dough. Sprinkle with remaining strudel.

Almond Sour Cream Coffee Cake -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Almond Sour Cream Coffee Cake -- Epicurean Vegan

Meanwhile, to make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, almond extract, and the nondairy milk. Drizzle over warm cake and enjoy!

Almond Sour Cream Coffee Cake -- Epicurean Vegan

(It will most-likely look like an over-grown doughnut)!

Recipe: Adapted from cooks.com

Feast On This!

How to NEVER Get Cancer

I know I’m not alone when I say that I have seen way too many friends and loved-ones die of cancer. It needs to stop. Can it? The origin of many cancers are unknown. So how do you avoid getting it, or seeing another family member be taken away because of it? According to Prevention and Dr. Thomas Sellers, PhD, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, “As many as 70% of known causes of cancers are avoidable.” Here’s a list of ways to never get cancer–in addition to exercising and avoidance of tobacco products, of course (from the President’s Cancer Panel):

1. Filter Your Tap Water: It’s considered safer than even bottled water. Be sure to store the filtered water in stainless steel or glass containers since BPA can leach from plastic bottles.

2. Stop Topping Your Tank Off: One last squirt from the pump after the nozzle clicks off can spill fuel and foil the pump’s vapor recovery system, designed to keep toxic, cancer-causing chemicals out of the air and your lungs.

3. Marinate Meat Before Grilling: Well, first off, this reiterates why we shouldn’t eat meat. I include this one because not only is it on the list, but to hopefully let my wonderful non-vegan friends and family see my point (because I love them)! Processed, charred, well-done meats can contain cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, which form when meat is seared at a high temperature, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which get into the food when it’s charcoal broiled. “The recommendation to cut down on grilled meat has really solid scientific evidence behind it,” says Cheryl Lyn Walker, PhD. If you do grill (boo! hiss!) add rosemary and thyme to the poor dead animal’s marinade for an hour before cooking. Rich in antioxidants, the spices cut the HCAs by as much as 87%. Just remember, that’s not a 100%, nor just red meat. It goes for poultry, pork and other meats.

4. Caffeinate Every Day: Now this one I can really get used to! I do love me an almond milk latte often. People who drank 5+ cups of coffee a day had a 40% decreased risk of brain cancer, compared to people who drank less in a 2010 British study. (Better trade that tea for coffee, Brits)!  It was also found that it reduced risks of cancers of the pharynx and mouth by nearly 50%. Start brewing!

5. Water Down Your Risks: Drink at least 8 cups of water or other liquids to reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer causing agents in urine.

6. Load up on REALLY Green Greens: I really love this one, too! The greener the veggie, the more magnesium you’ll absorb. It has been shown to lower the risk of colon cancer in women. Munch on 1/2 C of cooked spinach and get 75 mg of magnesium–20% of your daily allowance.

7. Snack on Brazil Nuts: A great source of selenium, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of bladder cancer in women.

8. Burn Off This Breast Cancer Risk Factor: Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week cuts risk of breast cancer 18%. Fat produces its own estrogen (a known contributor to cancer), so fat-burning exercise is vital!

9. Ask Your Doc About Breast Density: Women whose mammograms have revealed breast density reading of 75% or more have a cancer risk 4-5 times higher than women with low density scores. Researchers think that the denser the breast, higher levels of estrogen are present. This also goes back to #8–exercise.

10. Skip the Dry Cleaner: So that favorite silk blouse of yours? Yea, learn to either hand wash it or spot clean it with white vinegar. A solvent known as perchlorpethylene that dry cleaners often use, may cause liver and kidney cancers and leukemia.

11. Head Off Cell Phone Risks: Another good reasons to use your hands-free device. It keeps the radio frequency energy away from your noggin, however, evidence as to whether or not cell phones cause an increase in brain cancer risk is inconclusive. Despite this, a number of review studies suggest there’s a link.

12. Block The Sun With Color: When it comes to avoiding skin cancer, it was found that blue and red fabrics offered significantly better sun protection against the sun’s UV rays than white or yellow ones did. And wear a hat! It has been found that those with melanoma on the scalp or neck die at almost twice the rate of people with the cancer on other areas of the body.

13. Eat Clean Foods: How often have you heard this one? Well, it’s a biggie. Hormones and antibiotics in meat are suspected of causing endocrine problems, including cancer. Make sure you buy organic fruits and veggies as much as possible, too. “At least 40 known carcinogens are found in pesticides and we should absolutely try to reduce exposure,” says Sellers.

Wise Words from a Fellow Vegan

I came across this lovely blog by Dr. Stanley Sapon who has been a vegan since 1976. He put together A Philosophy of Vegan Values that I thought I’d share with all of you.

  • Vegans see life as a phenomenon to be treasured, revered and respected. We do not see animals as either “The Enemy” to be subdued, or the Materials for Food, Fabric or Fun that were put on Earth for human use.
  • Vegans see themselves as a part of the natural world, rather than its owners or its masters.
  • Veganism recognizes no expendable or superfluous species that humans are free to hurt or destroy. Species of life-forms need not justify their existence, nor plead for protection from extinction on the grounds of their potential usefulness as food or medicine for humans. We continue to be burdened and misguided by adages such as “A weed is a plant we have not yet found a use for.”
  • Veganism acknowledges the intrinsic legitimacy of all life. It rejects any hierarchy of acceptable suffering among sentient creatures. It is no more acceptable to torment or kill creatures with “primitive nervous systems” than those with “highly developed nervous systems.” The value of life to its possessor is the same, whether it be the life of a clam, a crayfish, a carp, a cow, a chicken, or a child.

  • Veganism understands that gentleness cannot be a product of violence, harmony cannot be a product of strife, and peace cannot be a product of contention and conflict.
  • Vegan ideals encompass much more than advocacy of a diet free of animal products, or a fervent defense of animal rights. Veganism excludes no sentient being–animal or human– from its commitment to compassionate, gentle benevolence. To show tender regard for the suffering of animals, yet treat humans with callous contempt, is a disheartening contradiction of Vegan principles.
  • John Muir, talking about the natural environment, once observed “Every time I bend down to pick something up, I find it is connected to something else.” There is an equivalent “ecology” to our behavior. Everything we do connects to something else; every action touches on the world around us, either close at hand and noticeable, or far away and unperceived, immediate in its effect or distant in time.
  • If Veganism has a prime value, it is simply that life-respecting compassion overrides individual issues of custom, convenience, comfort or cuisine.
  • If there is a single article of faith, it is that commitment to Vegan values will bring us closer to a world in which the fate and fortune of a planet and all its life forms do not hang on the judgment or the generosity of one species.
  • If there is one single concept that both generates and sustains the meaning and the power of the Vegan world-view, it is found in the word mindfulness. As Vegans, we strive to be thoughtful, aware and concerned about the impact of our choices, our actions and our decisions. The fruit of this awareness is inner peace, the quiet strength of ethical confidence, and an uplifting sense of fulfillment.

“The human body has no more need for cows’ milk than it does for dogs’ milk, horses’ milk, or giraffes’ milk.”

-Michael Klaper

Savory Tofu and Sauteed Apples

Savory Tofu and Sauteed Apples -- Epicurean VeganThis was a very sweet and savory meal—the flavors meshed so beautifully together. I made enough for leftovers, but the recipe can easily be split in half. The original recipe is from Whole Foods, but I deviated off their version a little.

4 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs agave
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
The rest:
2-14 ounce pkgs extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 med onion, sliced thin
5 large mushrooms, cut quartered
1 large carrot, sliced thin
2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
5 Grannie-Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Parsley, garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, agave nectar, garlic, oregano, thyme, sea salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

Cut tofu into 16 equal slices.

Savory Tofu and Sauteed Apples -- Epicurean Vegan

Pierce the tofu in several places with a fork to allow the flavor of the marinade to penetrate. Pour balsamic mixture over tofu and marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
Savory Tofu and Sauteed Apples -- Epicurean Vegan
Transfer tofu to a shallow 15-inch baking pan. Add onion, mushrooms and carrots. Pour balsamic marinade over tofu and vegetables, brushing to coat everything.

Savory Tofu and Sauteed Apples -- Epicurean VeganCover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the tofu and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare apples. In a skillet over medium heat, heat the margarine. Add the apple slices and sauté until tender and lightly browned but not mushy, about 10 to 15 minutes.

The original recipe says to serve apples alongside the tofu as a side, but I highly recommend eating them together–very, very good! I also served Near East brand pilaf, Mushroom and Herb flavor:


Vegan New England Chowder

Vegan New England Chowder -- Epicurean VeganI have had this recipe from Weekly Vegan Menu bookmarked for some time now, and since today was drizzly and cold, it was about time I made it. I changed a couple of things like using button mushrooms instead of oyster and pureeing 1/2 the soup for a more chowder consistency. The flavors in this soup are spectacular and was perfect for a day like today.

2 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 a bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
4-6 C mushrooms, diced
1 C corn
3 C vegetable stock
3 C russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke
2 C nondairy milk (soy or almond)
1/4 C cornstarch
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
Tofutti sour cream (optional)
Vegan cheddar, shredded (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. I recommend having all your ingredients out, chopped, and ready to go before starting:

Vegan New England Chowder -- Epicurean Vegan

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add onion, garlic, bell pepper, thyme, basil, and oregano. Once they are hot and on high heat, add the mushrooms and cook about 10 minutes.

Vegan New England Chowder -- Epicurean Vegan

While this is happening, roast the corn in the oven for 10 minutes.

Vegan New England Chowder -- Epicurean VeganAdd the potatoes, then the stock, Old Bay, Liquid Smoke, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Whisk together the nondairy milk and cornstarch and add to the pot along with the corn. Bring to a simmer, but not a boil. Taste for seasoning. Here, I added (in batches) half of the soup to my food processor and just pureed a little; just enough to still be a bit chunky. I then added it back to the pot and mixed it with the un-pureed soup for the perfect chowder consistency. Top with a bit of cheese and sour cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Waffles with Blueberry Sauce

Waffles with Blueberry Sauce -- Epicurean VeganThe other night I made Field Roast with Blueberry Sauce and had some leftover sauce. That called for morning waffles. This is a healthy, hearty waffle that will stick to the ribs. I highly recommend doubling the recipe if feeding more than 2 people–as it is, it only makes about 4-6 small waffles. It’s a simple recipe where everything just goes in the blender and you’re ready to go!

2 C water
2 Tbs sugar
1 C quick-cooking oats
1/4 C cornmeal
4 Tbs ground flax seed
1/4 C cashews
2 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs white wine
2/3 C blueberry juice
1-2/3 C vegetable broth
3/4 C fresh blueberries
2 Tbs cornstarch

For the waffles: Blend all ingredients in a blender for 1 minute. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to thicken up. Spoon 1/2 cup (or what is recommended for your waffle iron). Spread out a little with a spatula. I had the oven on warm and kept the waffles warm as I made them. In the meantime, I reheated the blueberry sauce in a small saucepan over med-low heat. If you’re using leftover sauce, it will have a jelly like consistency, so add a smidge of water. Stir it occasionally. The sauce itself doesn’t take long to make: In a large saucepan, add sugar and about 1/8 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Add rice vinegar when the sugar changes color. Boil again and add the white wine. Reduce to a syrup, then add the blueberry juice and reduce to half, about 4 minutes. Add broth and boil to desired consistency–you will probably need to mix the cornstarch with about 1/8-1/4 cup of water and then add to the sauce to thicken. Add blueberries and taste for seasoning. The sauce yields about 2 cups. Enjoy!

Waffles with Blueberry Sauce -- Epicurean Vegan

Recipe source: The Joy of Vegan Baking

Feast On This!

Who’s the Happy Vegan?

Just this year, Nutrition Journal published a report that vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states. Huh? That’s right, vegetarians and vegans are apparently happier than omnivores.  Hmmm . . .so that’s why meat-eaters are so groucy. . . 😉 Well, what the researchers found is that vegetarian diets exclude fish, the major dietary source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), critical regulators of brain cell structure and function. Omnivores diets low in EPA and DHA are linked to impaired mood states in observational and experimental studies.

It was thought that meat-eaters would be less prone to depression and low moods because of the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, but veggie-mites scored lower on the tests for depression. So really, they have no idea why. Fascinating. Perhaps its what VegNews theorized in their latest issue: It was the “knowledge that a vegan diet does not contribute to the unnecessary suffering of animals” that contributes to the participants’ good moods. I’ll go with it.

I Love You, Jamie Oliver

I have had quite a crush on British cutie, Jamie Oliver ever since I watched his Food Revolution. I love what he has done to instigate change in school lunches. Even though his meals include animal products, I still have that “bad-boy-I-know-he’s-no-good-for-me” crush on him. He is, after all, the one person who has taken on the daunting challenge of overhauling the atrocious excuses for school lunches.

Well now. . . I have even more reason to drool over him. He’s going to launch a vegetarian/vegan cookbook! Oliver said that 60-65% of his recipes have been vegetarian or vegan but that fans have pushed for a meat-free cookbook.

“Often I get cornered out by vegetarians who are going to knock me out with a cucumber,” said Oliver. “I’m like “dude, look in the back of the book. Open up the index and there’s all these little v’s.” And they’ll go “Oh, right, but we want out own book.” For many years I just felt like, “C’mon, stop being so sensitive.” But actually this year we’re going to bundle all of my vegetarian recipes and vegan recipes into one big massive, mammoth book and give ‘em that book. Because it’s right. You know, in the old days there wasn’t so many vegetarians and now there’s many. Vegetarian as a general concept is a brilliant thing,” Oliver added. “We’ve got to stop eating so much meat. We are eating too much meat.”

I hope he truly feels this way and is not out to just cash in on the growing numbers of vegetarians he’s talking about.  Maybe in the end, it’s all about making a buck. However, in the meantime, I will give my British cutie the benefit of the doubt and be first in line to buy his new cookbook (I know. . .so blinded by my foodie crush).

Check out an interview with Oliver discussing this new and highly anticipated venture at Mother Nature Network.

“We don’t need to eat anyone who would run, swim, or fly away if he could.”

-James Cromwell

Product Review: Amy’s Rice Macaroni with Dairy Free Cheeze

When I saw that this product made it as a readers’ fave in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times, I did a tentative happy-vegan-food dance. It sounded promising, especially since it’s made with Daiya cheese. Plus, it’s gluten-free. So I picked one up for $3.69. It was practically burning a hole through my reusable grocery bag on the way home. I couldn’t get it in the microwave fast enough. Then the moment of truth . . .

I did a full-fledged, unadulterated, happy-vegan-food dance like no other. Never in my life would I have thought there’d be a delicious vegan mac and cheese that rivals that of the real deal. Unbelievable. Even The Husband was hovering, hoping that I would share more than just the one tiny bite I had given him. No way.

Oh, man. Good stuff. It took me a few minutes to recover and wipe the cheeze from my face–I was not above licking the cardboard dish clean, nor am I embarrassed to admit that. It was creamy and tasted just like the real thing. You can cook it in the oven for 25-30 minutes (I had no patience for that) or in the microwave for about 4 minutes.

Alas, like everything delicious, it comes with a price. One 8-ounce container brings with it 520 calories (I better go for another run today), but it’s actually comparable to regular mac n’ cheese. Total fat: 22g, 5g of saturated fat and no trans fat Sodium: 740mg, Carbs: 72g, Protein: 8g, but hey, NO cholesterol! :) Overall, with no dairy, no soy and no gluten, it’s an indulgence I can handle every once in a while. (Glad I bought two)!

Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese

Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean VeganI have been making this dish for years, usually using vegan Parmesan or mozzarella, but since I have a huge hunk of cashew cheese, I decided to use that (which by the way, shreds beautifully). This dish also makes great leftovers for the next day’s lunch. The amounts of each ingredient isn’t specific, but dependent upon how much you want to make.

mushrooms, sliced
tomatoes, chopped
red wine
minced garlic
olive oil
cashew cheese, shredded
Earth Balance margarine
Salt, to taste

Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan

Marinate the mushrooms in some red wine and let sit 15-20 minutes.

Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean VeganCook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile heat olive oil and garlic in a small saute pan, then add mushrooms. Saute a few minutes—I don’t like to cook them until they’re shriveled. You may have to drain some leftover marinade.

Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean VeganDrain pasta and add 1-2 tablespoons of Earth Balance to pasta pot and coat the drained pasta. Add the mushrooms and tomatoes and combine well. Season with salt. Serve with cashew cheese and enjoy!

Pasta with Marinated Mushrooms and Cashew Cheese -- Epicurean Vegan