Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Lentil Salad

After a busy summer filled with gymnastics practice, cheerleading practice, vacationing, and LOTS of boating, I'm back! We had a HOT summer, with a LONG stretch of days with temperatures soaring above the 100 degree mark, so cooking was the last thing I felt like doing at the end of a sweltering day. All summer we had a lot of simple meals, salads, and home-made sausages cooked on the grill. We're still experiencing above average temperatures, with the day time temperatures rising to near 80. So, while the calendar says it's fall, Mother Nature hasn't quite agreed. Usually by now I've been bit by the fall cooking bug....casseroles, soups, stews and good, hardy warming meals. Needless to say, I've not been bit by that "warm meal" bug yet.
I did however have a burst of inspiration over the weekend, and created this fall lentil salad. It's best served warm or at room temperature, perfect for the cool, but not yet cold evenings we've been having. This salad will delight you with a combination of sweet and savory.
Fall Lentil Salad
1 1/4 cup dry green lentils
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 Tbs Earth Balance
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced shallor
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup diced winter squash, I used delicata
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs Cold pressed olive oil
Preheat oven to 375. Toss diced winter squash in a Tbs of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on a baking sheet until tender. In the meantime, cook lentils in broth until broth is absorbed and lentil are tender (may need to add more broth or water). In a large skillet, melt Earth Balance and saute celery, carrot and shallots until tender. Add salt and thyme to sauted veggies. When all components are finished, in a large bowl, combine lentils, squash, sauted veggies, pumpkin seeds and cranberries and stir to combine well.
Prepare dressing by whisking balsamic, maple, dijon and olive oil. Drizzle over lentil saland and toss to coat evenly.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Avocado-Pesto Potato Salad

Ahhh summer-time. Kidlets home from school, endless hours spent in the sun and at the pool, vacation, trips to the park.........never a dull moment. Indeed, all of the summer-time activity has left me starving by the end of the day, and rather uninspired in the kitchen. Additionally, we have been receiving quite a bounty from our CSA, and when food is from farm to table fresh I really can't bear to do anything to alter it. Hence, we've been eating a lot of salads, and simple dishes highlighting the freshness of the summer's bounty. It just doesn't seem right to alter the flavor of incredibly fresh fruits, veggies, and berries!

In the past 3 weeks we've been inundated with potatoes and basil. I've grilled potatoes, baked potatoes, made fries and potato salad. I've made pesto, my vegan version of caprese salad, used basil in my salads, on my pastas, and on my sandwiches. While trying to come up with something new for last night's dinner, and faced with yet more potatoes and basil, the only things that came to mind were potato salad and pesto. Then it struck me, why not combine the two?!? It was a pure stroke of genius (although I'm sure someone has come up with this idea before, as it's really not that creative!!).

Avocado-Pesto Potato Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes (I used a mix of Yukon Gold and Red Norlunds)
1/2 cup avocado, diced
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 tsp liquid aminos
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 - 1 tsp water
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and dice potatoes into bite sized pieces. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes until tender (yet still firm, you don't want them to be mushy). Pour into a colander and set aside to drain while you prepare pesto.

In the bowl of a food processor combine avocado, basil leave, liquid aminos, garlic, red pepper and lemon juice. Process until well combined, adding small amounts of water if mixture seems too thick.

In a large serving bowl fold together potatoes and pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature, or chill until ready to serve.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Meatless Monday: Pizza Sausage

We love pizza. Who doesn't right? Now that our local Whole Foods is finally selling Daiya Cheese (pronounced "day-a" according to the company) pizza has been making a rather frequent appearance on our weekly menu.

I start with a homemade, whole-wheat crust, Muir Glen organic pizza sauce, and various toppings depending on our mood. Sometimes we do a more "gourmet" style pizza with fancy veggies like artichoke hearts, arugula, and others. Other times we like to do a Hawaiian pizza, with home-made vegan pepperoni, pineapple, basil and red onion. Then there's the Cuban Black Bean Pizza I've blogged about before. Still other times we are in the mood for a good old sausage pizza. Typically I use Gimme Lean Sausage Style to top my pizzas, and we've always enjoyed it very much. Last week, however, I decided at the last minute to throw a pizza together, and had nothing to top it with except sauce, olives, and cheese. I was really in the mood for a sausage pizza, so I decided to have a look around the kitchen and see what I could come up with. What resulted was the most incredible pizza sausage I think I've ever had. I for one will never use Gimme Lean again!!

Pizza Sausage

1 cup TVP
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 3/4 cup water
2 Tbs Soy sauce

In a small saucepan combine all ingredients, stir together, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, and TVP is tender. Add more water by the Tbs if necessary to fully reconstitute TVP.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Memorial Day Round Up

Memorial Day is just around the corner, the official start of summer. Time to throw on your bathing suit, slather on the sunscreen, grab a good book and head for the sun. Of course, this wildly anticipated holiday to celebrate all things summer also means it's bar-b-que and picnic season.

Here you'll find a run-down of the Happy Vegan Yogini recipes that are sure to make your summer kick off bash a hit with both the vegans and omnivores alike. And don't forget, Memorial Day will also be Meatless Monday...... so start your summer off right with this delicious vegan menu!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Shortcake

For the past few weeks we've finally been able to enjoy some strawberries. I buy almost everything organic, but I do compromise from time to time (check out the 2010 Dirty Dozen). However, strawberries are one thing I WILL NOT compromise on (and now there's even better reason to stick to organic). Because organic strawberries are only around for a limited time it makes them such a special treat for us.

Whole Foods has had their organic strawberries in for a few weeks now, and they've been pretty good. At least I thought they were good. That was before I tasted the beautiful, fresh, ripe organic strawberries that came in my CSA share this week. Wow! Tender, sweet, and bursting with flavor these berries were just calling out to be paired with a shortcake.

Ms. M's been on me to make some chocolate dipped strawberries, but these were just too tender and too delicious to drowned in chocolate. Shortcake was all that would do. Taking Ms. M's request into consideration, I thought "why not put chocolate in the shortcake", and make us all happy. The result was a deliciously moist shortcake, speckled with melty chocolate chips.

Here's my recipe for Chocolate Chip Shortcake. Enjoy!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Shortcake

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3 Tbs raw sugar

1/2 Tbs baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips

1/4 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)

1/2 cup plain So-Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (or other non-dairy milk of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a rectangular cake pan or a small loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Cut in margarine using a pastry cutter or knives. Stir in coconut milk and combine well. Pour into prepared cake dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely and serve topped with fresh organic strawberries.

Refreshing Fresh Mint Pesto Pasta

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I had my first CSA pick-up of the season today, and among many other great things, I was inundated with mint. More mint than I could ever begin to imagine what to do with. I could make Mojitos, but aside from drinking myself silly, what else could I use all of this for? I put the question out there on Twitter and within minutes received so many fantastic ideas I was feeling sure I would get through all of the mint before next week. I plan on making most, if not all of the ideas that were sent my way, but the one that really intrigued me, and became tonight's dinner was Mint Pesto, suggested by Megan E.

The recipe Megan shared had an ungodly amount of oil in it (a half cup), so I knew immediately this was going to take some tweaking......I've never used a half a cup of oil for anything in my life, and I didn't plan to start tonight. Below you'll find my mildly tweaked, and outrageously delicious adaptation. This dish is so refreshing. We ate it as our meal with a side of mixed greens salad, but it would be a perfect accompaniment to grilled or blackened tofu.

Fresh Mint Pesto

1 cup fresh parsley leaves

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

3 Tbs Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil

8 oz. Whole Wheat Pasta

1 pint sugar snap peas, cut in half

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse in cold water and set aside. In a food processor place parsley, mint, sunflower seeds, and olive oil. Process until well blended into a paste. Toss sugar snap peas with pasta, mix in pesto. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Almost Raw Hummus

Like traditional hummus this version is make with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), tahini, garlic, and lemon. Unlike traditional hummus, my version uses raw, sprouted garbanzo beans. Sprouted beans offer many nutritional benefits and are also easier to digest without the *ahem* side effects that often come with eating beans. Sprouted beans, seeds, and nuts are full of life giving energy. I was unable to find raw tahini at the market I shop at, so I had to use my regular tahini, but if you can find raw tahini, by all means, use it in this recipe to create and entirely raw hummus.

Almost Raw Hummus

1 cup sprouted garbanzo beans

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbs. Tahini

1/4 cup water

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander.

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a food processor combine all ingredients through coriander. Process until desired consistency. Add cilantro and pulse a few times to distribute cilantro. Serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Meatless Monday: Black Bean-Quinoa Fiesta Patties

Need a meal for your Meatless Monday dinner tonight? Try this quick and easy Fiesta Patty. Made from pantry staples, you won't even need to run to the store to throw this delicious meal together.

Black Bean-Quinoa Fiesta Patties
Makes 10 patties

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 C. cooked quinoa
1/2 C. frozen organic corn
1/2 onion, diced small
1 roasted red pepper, diced small
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried cilantro
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
2 T. whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, smash beans with a fork until no whole beans are left. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Mash all ingredients together using hands until gluten becomes active and is beginning to hold patties together. Shape measure out 1/4 cup of mixture and shape into a small patty. Continue forming patties until all mixture is used (I got 10 patties from this). Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium heat. Lightly fry each patty until browning, flip and brown other side.

I served the patties on top of a whole wheat tortilla then topped each with a dollop of Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream and a drizzle of salsa. You could also wrap the patties in a tortilla and eat like a taco. Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meatless Monday: Just do it already.

Today is Meatless Monday, a campaign to reduce meat consumption to improve our nations health, and the health of our planet. By eliminating animal products from your diet you begin to reduce your amount of saturated fat intake, eliminate cholesterol intake, and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers. Nixing the animal products from your diet will also have a huge impact on the health of our planet; conserving water and improving it's quality, reducing the amount of harmful greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere, and reducing your dependence on fossil fuels. Not only is eliminating animal products best for your health and the health of our ailing planet, but it's best for the health and lives of the countless beings you will save by not contributing the industry of animal agriculture.

While I obviously think that we should be meat free EVERYDAY, I think Meatless Monday is a good place to start, and we all have to start somewhere, right? It's easier than ever to eat a plant based diet. Not only are there countless blogs, recipe sites and cookbooks that can help you get started, there's more and more pre-made vegan convenience foods popping up every day.....even in your regular, local grocery store. With a little planning, eating meat free is easy. Give it a try, pick a Monday, plan an entire day of meals free of animal products, see how good you feel and how easy it was. Maybe next week it will carry over into Tuesday!!

Tried Meatless Monday already and found out that it's really not that hard? Considering the switch to a more healthful, more green, and more compassionate way of life? Not sure how? Click here to read more about making veganism a lasting change in your life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clean up your diet, clean up the Earth.

April 22, 2010 we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Now more than ever it's important for people to recognize our Mother Earth and the damage we are doing to her. Climate Change is quite possibly one of the most critical issues facing us today. Climate change is responsible for hurricanes, tornadoes, extreme heat and cold, and many other extreme weather events. It's undeniable that human actions are directly responsible for a vast majority of climate change, and it's becoming more and more evident that we hold the key to healing the planet and that key is our dinner plate. As Danielle Nierenberg from Worldwatch Institute stated in the newly released book Gristle, "When it comes to our food, reducing or eliminating animal products is one of the most effective ways individuals can fight climate change."

So, what exactly is it about meat that's contributing to climate change? In a word, shit. That's right all of that shit that piles up from intensive factory farming. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 500 million tons of shit each year. That's THREE TIMES the amount of waste produced by humans. As a matter of fact, one CAFO (factory farm) can produce more waste in a year than an entire city full of people. All of that shit isn't only polluting the air with methane and nitrous oxide (which has 300 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide!!), but it's also polluting the surface and ground water. As a matter of fact, the EPA states that the agriculture sector is "the leading contributor to identified water quality impairments in the nations rivers and streams, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs."

Animal agriculture is actually the leader in green house gas emissions. First, even before the transportation sector including all cars, trucks, buses, planes and trains. Forty-one MILLION tons of carbon dioxide is contributed annually by fertilizer production for feed crops. This isn't including the CO2 emissions from the transportation of these crops, and the operation of these intensive agriculture operations.

In addition to water pollution and air pollution, intensive animal agriculture also contributes to the destruction of the rain forests, particularly in Brazil. In the year 200o 58.7 million hectacres of the Brazilian rain forest were lost to graze cattle and grow feed crops. To make matters worse, the Brazilian rain forest isn't being depleted to feed hungry Brazilians, it's being depleted to feed overweight, gluttonous Americans. Destruction of the rain forests has resulted in irreversible loss of plant and animal species and loss of biodiversity of this delicate ecosystem.

These are only a few of the environmental concerns when it comes to our intensive consumption of animals and animal products. If we are really going to make a difference in climate change we MUST change the way we eat. Adopting a "green" lifestyle is significant, but we will not be able to sustain our meat consumption much longer, the time to act is now! For the sake of future generations, we have NO CHOICE but to change the way we feed ourselves.

This Earth Day, make a commitment to begin eliminating animal products from your diet. Do what REALLY counts to heal our planet, and then celebrate the many joys of being vegan on Earth Day 2011!!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

It's taken me a long time as a vegetarian to warm up to tempeh. I've wanted to like it for so long, and for some reason I just couldn't. I tried everything, including steaming before I cooked it and I (other than Fakin' Bacon crumbled into guacamole......). I had long ago decided I'd stop trying to like tempeh and just give up on it.

Last week when I was doing my shopping the tempeh just seemed to be calling out to me, so I decided I'd give it another shot. I created this sweet and sour version, and lo and behold, tempeh love! You could of course sub in some tofu if you too are tempeh-phobic. This makes a ton of food, enough to feed 6 easily, so scale it back to feed less, or invite a few friends, grab a bottle of sparkling wine (Gruet is vegan) and call it a dinner party.

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

cups fresh squeezed pineapple juice (bottled will work too, but it's not as tasty)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 Tbs. tamari, shoyo, or liquid aminos

2 pkg. plain tempeh (steamed for 15 minutes, then cubed)

1 red bell pepper, large dice

1/2 large yellow onion, large dice

1 bunch baby bok choy, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 9x11 baking dish combine juice, sugar, and tamari. Whisk to combine. Add in temepeh, pepper and onion, stir to combine and ensure everything is covered with pineapple juice mixture. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover, add chopped bok choy, stir to combine and continue to cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. Serve hot over basmati rice.

I served this over pineapple coconut rice. 2 cups of brown basmati cooked in one can coconut milk plus 1 cup of water. After liquid is absorbed stir in 1/2 cup diced pineapple and heat through.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hippity Hoppity

Easter's just around the corner, and as a vegan parent that can make you nearly as frightened as Halloween and Valentine's Day. From school parties to well meaning family members, candy centered holidays mean constant vigilance about what your child puts into her mouth. You'll be on a constant watch for Cadbury eggs and Peeps that find their way into your house, hoping to find and toss them before your kidlets realize you've taken away their booty.

Fortunately, as veganism makes it's way into the consciousness of more people, our vegan children can enjoy the holiday in a chocolate and sugar induced mania along with the rest of their friends. With vegan versions of chocolate bunnies, Peeps, and other traditional Easter candies, vegan children needn't miss any of the special treats that traditionally fill Easter baskets. Check out some of these great items to fill your child's basket this year:

Sweet and Sara: Makers of deliciously addicting vegan marshmallows bring to you Marshmallow Chicks and Bunnies (Peepers and Skippers) as well as chocolate decorated marshmallow Easter Eggs.

Divvies: In addition to being vegan, all Divvies treats are made in a dedicated allergen free facility. For Easter they offer 4 oz chocolate bunnies and pastel Easter Jelly Beans. The chocolate bunnies are made in limited supply, so order soon to get one before they are gone.

Peanut Free Planet: Because of Teeny's allergies, I spend a lot of time around candy based holidays researching and finding safe treats for her. Not all of the products on Peanut Free Planet are vegan, but many of them are. These adorable chocolate baby bunnies for instance are completely vegan, as are these totally sweet Easter Egg Lollipops.

There are, of course, many other vegan candies that will fill an Easter basket nicely. Or, if you are so inclined you could try your hand at this veganized version of the famous Cadbury Creme Eggs. I haven't tried this recipe personally (this might be the year), but I've read many people's absolute ravings on their success, so if you are feeling ambitious give it a go. Or better yet, create your own new, favorite, vegan Easter candy.

And let's not forget, a chocolate bunny, or a few cute Peepers and Skippers will be more than enough candy in the kidlets' baskets. I often fill baskets with stickers, temporary tattoos, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, crayons, coloring books, etc. Point is, an Easter basket can and will be just as fun sans oodles of teeth rotting sweets.

In addition to dealing with the barrage of non vegan candy making it's way into your kidlets grubby little hands, there's the extra special bonus that Easter provides.............the opportunity to be the freaky family that denies their children the opportunity to turn hard boiled eggs a multitude of pastels. Don't fret, it's not a big deal, in my pre-vegan experience children bore quickly of dunking eggs in food dye anyway, so there's really nothing lost. Replace this tradition with a new one that you create. Last year we made these "clay" eggs and painted them. Not only was it great fun, we now have keepsakes for years to come.

Holiday's as a vegan don't have to be stressful, with a little thought and a little organization your vegan holiday will be as special and rewarding as your vegan lifestyle. You can celebrate this Easter season and revel in the knowledge that you are celebrating this holiday of new life in a caring, kind, and compassionate way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pizza Crackers

It's pizza. It's a cracker. It's almost raw; and it's delicious. Unfortunately I can't take credit for this genius idea. You see, the amazing Lindsay at Cook.Vegan.Lover came up with this awesome raw cracker recipe, and as soon as she posted it I new I had to try it. And that's no lie. I read this post at about 8:00am and immediately ran to the kitchen to start the quinoa sprouting. I had both red and white, and decided to give the red a go just to add some color to the crackers. Well, after 24 hours NOTHING had happened (perhaps old quinoa.....we don't eat it much and it had been around for awhile). So much for the red. I cleaned out the sprouter and started on the white, pizza crackers would just have to wait another day. Twenty-four hours later, NOTHING. White quinoa was a bust as well. Not wanting to wait until I could get to the store for more quinoa I set about adapting the recipe to accommodate what I had. The result was brilliant. The aroma from the dehydrator was just as if you'd stepped foot in a pizza parlor. The crackers taste exactly like pizza.....maybe even better!!

I will be giving Lindsay's recipe a try as soon as I get some more quinoa, but in the meantime this recipe will suffice:

Pizza Crackers

2 oz chopped sun dried tomatoes, soaked 1 hour

2 cups raw sunflower seeds, hulled

1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 Tbs. Nama Shoyu (can sub tamari or soy sauce)

4 Tbs. Cold Pressed Olive Oil

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup flax meal

1 tsp dried onion flakes

Put all ingredients through olive oil into bowl of a food processor and process until combined into a thick paste. Remove into a large bowl, add basil, oregano, onion flakes and flax meal and stir to combine completely. Spread thin on parchment paper or teflex sheet designed for your dehydrator, and place in dehydrator. Dehydrate for 2 hours at 115 degrees, then lower temperature to 105 and dehydrate for 10-12 hours, until desired crispness.

Store these crackers in an airtight container. They will last for about 4 days at room temperature (although I guarantee you won't have them around that long!!).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Sprouted Mung Bean Wraps

The days are getting noticeably longer, the temperature is getting noticeably higher, and the last bit of snow is quickly melting away. I couldn't be more thrilled that Spring is on its way. With the sun high and bright in the sky my thoughts quickly turn to the tasty, fresh salads and wraps that are often my lunch in the warmer months.

Inspired by a weekend of absolutely gorgeous weather, and a rather large jar of freshly sprouted mung beans I threw together this quick and easy wrap to celebrate the first signs of spring.

Sweet and Spicy Sprouted Mung Bean Wraps

1 tsp mirin
2 tsp tamari
2 tsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp olive oil 1/4 tsp red chile sauce
1 1/2 cups sprouted mung beans
2 medium sized collard leaves

Optional garnish:
Alfalfa sprouts
shredded carrot
shredded broccoli
chopped peanuts
sunflower seeds

Remove tough stem from collard leaves, wash remaining leaves and set aside to dry. In a medium bowl whisk together mirin, tamari, hoisin, olive oil and chile sauce. Add bean sprouts to mixture and stir to combine well.

Lay out collard leaves and place half of bean sprouts in middle of each collard leaf. Top with additional toppings of choice. Fold collard leaves burrito style and secure with a toothpick.

Serves 2.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cheezy Teese-y Au Gratin Potatoes

I fell in love with Chicago Soy Dairy a few years back when I sampled Temptation Chocolate Ice Cream and found out that not only are they vegan, they are also dedicated nut free, which means Teeny can partake safely in their ice-cream. As a matter of fact, Temptation is the only ice-cream she's ever had the pleasure of eating outside of our house. We love Chicago Soy Dairy so much that Chicago is Teeny's all time favorite place to visit because she can get ice cream cones from The Chicago Diner!! She asks us almost daily if we can drive to Chicago (it's a FOUR hour drive!!).

Chicago Soy Dairy doesn't limit their genius to just ice cream either. They are also the creators of the fabulous (and addictive) Dandies Vegan Marshmallows and the popular cheese alternative Teese. I've used all of these products and can say from experience that they really are outstanding.

A few weeks ago on Twitter Chicago Soy Dairy was offering free Teese to bloggers who would create something beyond the typical pizza and lasagna. Always up for a challenge, I contacted them and they sent me one tube of Teese Cheddar Sauce, and one tube of Teese Cheddar.

Last night I used the Cheddar Sauce to recreate a childhood favorite of mine.....cheesy au gratin potatoes. The result was exactly like I remember my mom making. Cheesy and gooey -- comfort food at it's best.

Cheezy Teese-y Au Gratin Potatoes

10 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 tube Teese Cheddar Sauce
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground mustard seed
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Spray 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Line bottom of dish with slices of potatoes, layer on onions, then another layer of potatoes. In a small sauce pan combine Teese, non-dairy milk, garlic, mustard seed, dijon, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and heat to a gentle boil. Pour hot cheese sauce over potatoes and with wooden spoon gently lift layers of potatoes to allow cheese sauce to combine through all veggies. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly on top. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 15 minutes until top is browned lightly and cheese sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven, cool 5-10 minutes allowing cheese sauce to thicken slightly. Serve warm!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Field Roast: Review and Giveaway

***WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Congratulations Kelly (with a Y) and Vegan Wheekers you were both chosen by as the winners of a coupon for free Field Roast Sausages. Send your address to and I'll get your coupon in the mail ASAP!!

My first experience with Field Roast was at GreenFestival Chicago a few years back. I had a huge Italian Sausage topped with grilled veggies and mustard, and my love affair had begun. I love their sausages for the convenience. There are plenty of recipes for making your own, but let's face it, even those among us who delight in cooking still appreciate the convenience of packaged vegan food. While convenience is great, what I really love about Field Roast products is their ingredients. Their list of ingredients is short, and it's all real food, nothing that sounds as if it came from a science experiment.

Another great thing about Field Roast is that they've taken back the language. They don't call their products "fake meat" or "faux meat" or "meat analog". They call it meat.....plain and simple, grain meat. Meat literally means, solid food, the edible part of anything. The animal products industry does not own the word meat, and Field Roast proudly stands up to that. Field Roast doesn't make fake or faux anything. It's real food, period. Meat (solid food) made from grain. I love supporting companies that go above and beyond creating healthful conscious food for vegan consumers.

But sausage isn't the only thing that Field Roast makes. I'd be remiss if I didn't say that a Celebration Roast or two has saved us from starvation at family holiday meals. I've recently just learned of Field Roast Deli Slices. I can't believe it took me this long to learn that Field Roast made this incredible product. I always very diligently scan the vegetarian meat section at Whole Foods looking for new products (which is where I discovered Gardein, but that's a different story). In all the times that I've looked in this section I'd never seen these deli slices. So, after hearing about them, I contacted the company and they told me I could purchase them at our local health food store, Rainbow Blossom, and that they'd send me some coupons to try out some free products. I was thrilled, and added Rainbow Blossom to my list of places to shop for groceries next time. To my surprise, the next time I was at Whole Foods, there they were, Field Roast Deli Slices displayed proudly front and center in the vegetarian meat case. Wow, talk about ask and you shall receive!!

Of course, I grabbed a few packages, and couldn't wait to get home and try them. I have had the lentil sage and wild mushroom flavor. Honestly, between the two I couldn't even begin to pick a favorite. They are both outstanding (so much better than soy based deli slices). I love that you can see chunks of real food (carrots, lentils, mushrooms) right there in the slices. And these little slices are flavorful enough to stand up to the strongest of condiments. I had one on a slice of toast with hummus, rather sure that the garlicky hummus would overpower the one tiny deli slice I used, but sure enough Field Roast didn't let me down, and the delicious flavor of the lentil sage slice came shining through.

Because I'm already a dedicated fan, and because Valentine's day is coming up and I want to share my love of Field Roast with you I've decided to giveaway two coupons, each for one FREE package of Field Roast Sausage!!

Here's how to enter:

1. Visit the Field Roast website and leave a comment here telling me something you learned while visiting.

2. For a second chance to win, leave a comment here telling me your favorite way to enjoy Field Roast products.

3. For a third chance to win, Tweet "I want to win Field Roast from @veganyogini" with a link to this post. Be sure to include the tag @veganyogini so I know you tweeted.

This giveaway will be open through mid-night Eastern Time February 14th. Two lucky winners will be drawn at random on Monday February 15. Good luck!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How are food and yoga related?

If you keep up with the social networking sites and you follow anyone who is in anyway involved with yoga, chances are you saw the New York Times article last week titled When Chocolate and Chakras Collide. This little article moved through the internet like a wild fire through a dry forest. Food is always a big issue when it comes to yoga, it's one thing that no one can seem to agree on. What should we eat, when should we eat, does it all even matter?

This particular article put a new spin on the whole yoga/food debate. Should yoga and food be combined? Is the mat a place to share a meal or is it just a sweaty piece of equipment, a tool of the trade? Can sharing a meal after a yoga class be a sensual experience? Should it be? These were all questions raised by the article and discussed amongst the yoga community.

The thing that struck me first about this article wasn't really about the article at all. What I first noticed was that this was posted on Facebook pages, and tweeted on Twitter innumerable times throughout the day , and everyone seemed to want to know everyone else's opinion on the subject, but no one seemed to want to give their own. Things like yoga and food are taboo, but why? Food is a part of our lives, an important part of our lives. The foods we eat, how we prepare them and how they effect us physically and energetically are as important to our yoga practice as asana. However, for many of us we are either uncomfortable with some aspect of our food intake, and therefore avoid talking about it. Or, we are too comfortable with it and don't want to be forced to look at our habits differently. Discussions about food are often seen as judgemental, sort of a “who's yogi-er than who” contest. That's simply not the case. Speaking about food, our choices and why we choose them is just another form of practicing satya with one another. If we are truthful with ourselves and others no conversations are uncomfortable.

But, I digress, back to this article........can food and yoga be mixed? And, does it matter what we eat?

Yoga and food can most definitely be mixed, in my opinion. Both food and yoga are nourishing physically and spiritually. Food that is prepared in a mindful, compassionate, and loving way fills a person with compassionate, loving energy. After all, food is energy, both physically in the form of fuel for our bodies, but also energetically in the form of Prana. Food is also a way of community building. Community is an important means of support for our spiritual growth. Growing is hard and it's best done with the support and guidance of others.

I don't really think there's much debate on whether food and yoga can be mixed. I think the real issue presented in this article is this, should food and yoga be mixed as a means to draw more people to yoga, and to essentially make money. As David Romanelli, founder of the “Yoga for Foodies” series puts it, “It’s a way of getting people in the door,” he said in an interview. “The world is a better place if people do yoga. And if they come because chocolate or wine is involved, I’m fine with it.” I don't disagree that the World would indeed be a better place if more people did yoga, but I don't believe that's the motivation here. Bringing someone to yoga under false pretenses, doesn't serve the yoga community as a whole. People will find yoga when they are ready, and they will find it for the right reasons, not because someone gave them a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of wine when they were finished. Indeed, Mr. Romanelli even admits in the article that he saw yoga as a business opportunity before a spiritual one. “The “yoga industry” now represents about $6 billion in annual spending by American consumers on classes, videos, mats and apparel like the $158 Apres Yoga jacket at the upscale chain Lululemon, according to Yoga Journal magazine”. Yoga is not an industry, you don't need special apparel, special equipment, or any other material things to follow a yogic lifestyle. This article is just another commentary on the American bastardization of what yoga really is.

This article goes on to discuss what has most definitely become a hot button issue in yoga communities. What foods should a yogi eat? Can a person practice yoga and continue to eat meat? I guess the answer to that question is both yes, and no.

I believe that a person can indeed practice yoga, and eat meat. However, I don't believe that you can fully embrace and understand the true liberation, the true freedom that yoga offers if you are yourself enslaving other beings. We must liberate others in order to experience liberation ourselves.

There are some rather “famous” yogis who openly admit to eating meat. One such yogi, Sadie Nardini is quoted in this article as saying, “Nowhere is it written that only vegetarians can do yoga,” she said in an interview. “We do not live in the time of the founding fathers of yoga, and we don’t know what they wanted us to eat.” Indeed, we don't know what foods the founding fathers of yoga prescribed. However, we know quite clearly that they prescribed ahimsa, non-violence. Ahimsa is viewed by many to be the cornerstone of the yoga practice. Given the modern methods of farming and meat production anyone would be hard pressed to say that it wasn't a violent industry. Whether someone realizes it or not, if they participate in eating meat they are contributing to and encouraging this violence. Not ahimsa by any stretch of the imagination.

This doesn't mean that I think one can't or shouldn't practice yoga if they eat meat. I think everyone should practice yoga. I do however think that one should see this for what it is and stop kidding themselves into believing it's something it's not. Excuses only hold us back from growth. Yoga after all is about refining ourselves and getting closer to god. If one isn't doing the hard work of self examination, and admitting his faults, then it seems wrong to call himself a yogi. You can't live yoga and still keep all of your old habits. Words have definitions for a reason, and we can't just change the definition of ahimsa to suit our meat eating. Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence. Slaughtering animals for unnecessary food is violent. Period.

We have no problem noticing, admitting to, and attempting to change our other faults. Take satya, truthfulness, for instance. None of us would try to change what satya means in order to keep telling non-truths. Instead, we admit that we are human, we recognize and admit that we've made mistakes, and we try our best next time to do the right thing. This doesn't seem to be the case with meat eating. This is a habit so deeply ingrained in us that we can't even detach from it enough to admit that it may not jive with our chosen path.

Speaking of satya, you could examine the meat eating habit as it relates to any number of the yamas and niyamas and see that eating meat is contrary to these important precepts that have been given to us.

Let's look. Satya, truthfulness. We are not being honest with ourselves or others when we refuse to do the self examination necessary to see our meat eating as wrong. Asteya, non-stealing. When we eat animals we not only steal from them parts of their bodies, their babies (in the case of the dairy industry), and their lives. We steal from them their very life purpose. Animals are sentient beings. They all have a life that matters to them. Bramacharya, conservation or redirection of vital energy, or moderation. Our meat eating, and indeed our eating in general, is anything but moderate. Meat is an absolutely unnecessary part of our diets. If we are eating in moderation, following bramacharya, we eat only what we need. Eating the flesh of stressed and scared animals also steals from us our prana (vital life force). Aparigraha, non-greed. If we really examine the reasons why we eat meat we will see that what it all boils down to is greed. We like the way animals taste, we like the way cheese tastes, and therefore we continue to consume them, no matter what the cost. Saucha, purity. Saucha is about purifying our bodies through mindfulness. It's an opportunity for us to consider the foods we put in our bodies. Our food should nourish and sustain us, not weigh us down and fill us with the stressed and terrified energy that we take in when we consume the meat of a slaughtered animal. Santosha, contentment. This refers to appreciating the qualities of our life without greedy desires. Again, taking us back to Aparigraha, the practice of non-greed. Tapas, self-discipline. Breaking old habits is hard. Avoiding animal products and living outside the status quo is a practice in self discipline. Swadhyaya, self study. In order to reach samadhi we must embark on a journey of self study and refinement. Examining the attachment to meat and why we are so reluctant to give it up is in itself a practice of swadhyaya.

So, yes, while we may never know exactly what the founding fathers wanted us to eat, we do know the way in which they wanted us to behave. Eating animal flesh, especially in this day and age is certainly not a behavior that aligns with the founding fathers intentions.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Tuesday was a snow day for my daughter. The roads were icy and slick, and it was COLD outside. I love snow days just as much as the kids do. It means lazy mornings spent in our pajamas, and extra special treats for breakfast. This particular snow day the kids were asking for muffins, and I always treat with something chocolate-y chip-y on snow days!! But don't worry, you'll be happy to feed these to your kids any day of the week. They are whole wheat and virtually fat free.

Chocolate-y Chip-y Muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups fat free soy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

Preheat oven 350. Spray muffin tins with canola oil spray (spray inside of paper cups if you are using). In a small bowl combine soy milk and vinegar, stir well, and set aside to curdle. In a larger bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and chocolate chips. Add applesauce to milk mixture and then pour into dry ingredients. Mix gently until just combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean and tops are golden brown.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy Herbivore Cookbook Testing: Our Favorites

You'll recall that in November I told you that I'd been testing recipes for the upcoming Happy Herbivore Cookbook. The deadline is drawing near and the recipe testing is sadly winding down. I've been so spoiled over the last few months. It took next to no effort to plan my weekly menus, just checkout what The Happy Herbivore had been up to and add it to my grocery list. Even better, it took next to no effort to prepare my nightly meals. Lindsay's recipes are quick and easy to prepare, use ingredients that you can readily fin in any well stocked pantry, and are all whole wheat and mostly fat-free to boot.

The book will be out in late 2010 or early 2011 and I STRONGLY suggest that you buy it! This will book is filled with recipes that are sure to become your "go-to" recipes. While we simply loved every recipe I tested, below are a few of our standout favorites:

Tofu Egg and Cheeze Sandwich

This Tofu Egg will be ready in minutes. Delicious eaten on it's own, folded over some sauteed vegetables as an omelet, or on a whole wheat bagel with a slice of cheeze.

Banana French Toast

This ingenious french toast recipe comes together almost instantly without the use of any obscure flours that you might not have on hand. A delicious and filling breakfast, even on the mornings when you're running behind.

Cheeze Pizza

This quick, melty cheeze sauce will allow you to fix a pizza anytime the craving hits. These personal sized pizzas also make a quick and delicious lunch for your children.

Gandhi Bowl

You'll be able to throw this exciting and delicious meal together even if you haven't been to the store recently. Made with all pantry and freezer staples, it's delicious and heartwarming.

Low Fat Chocolate Cupcakes

You will never miss the fat. These cupcakes aren't only low fat, they are also whole wheat. These have become a frequent dessert around here. I feel no guilt at all when I serve these beautiful cupcakes.

Chicky Seitan

This Chicken Seitan is so easy to make, and turns out perfect every time. It is so versatile too. The Happy Herbivore provides you with a few options for using this "chicken", but it works in any recipe that you would use chicken in. It has quickly become a staple in our home

Chicken Parmesan and Quickie Marinara

Just one of the variations using the above mentioned seitan. This Chicken Parm is so authentic, even your harshest Italian critics will love it. This beautifully breaded and baked seitan cutlet is covered with the simple yet delicious Quickie Marinara.

The Ultimate Dip

It's too bad you won't have the cookbook in time for this year's Super Bowl. This is party food at it's finest. Seven layers of low-fat or fat-free goodness. Included in this dip are no less than 4 of the recipes found in the book: Bac'n bits, homemade sour cream, Nacho Cheeze sauce, and the Happy Herbivore's very own low fat guacamole. I dare you to find an omnivore that doesn't LOVE this dish!!

Chickpeas and Dumplings

Comfort food at it's finest. This is with out a doubt the best "chicken" and dumplings I have ever eaten. What makes it so phenomenal is the delicious broth made from scratch with HH's Mock Chick'n Broth Powder. Be ready to be amazed.

Egg-Nog Pancakes

Pancakes are breakfast here every Sunday. I've tried lost of recipes for pancakes, and this is my absolute favorite ever. I love the warm comfort of the spices. And best of all, these babies are Whole Wheat and Fat Free.

Wendy's Style Chili

I can't say for sure if this actually tastes like Wendy's chili, as it's probably been a good 10 years or so since I've had it. What I can say is that this chili won over my chili ambivalent husband. He's never been much of a chili lover, and this one knocked his socks off. The secret ingredient in this phenomenal chili is going to leave you saying "genius"!

Skyline Chili

Unlike the Wendy's Chili, I can say for sure that this tastes exactly like Skyline Chili. Exactly! You'll even be schooled on the various ways you can eat this chili. If you are a fan of Skyline you won't want to miss this healthy, fat free vegan version.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft, moist and chewy. The only thing missing from these classic cookies is the fat. Your children are sure to think you are the best mom around when you serve these as an after school snack with a glass of soy milk. You won't even feel a tinge of guilt!

Charleston Red Rice with Rustic Yam Fries

You won't believe how easy this rice and fries are to make. I threw them both together as a quick and filling lunch in just a matter of minutes without needing to buy any special ingredients at all.

Sloppy Joes and Onion Rings.

You've probably tried a thousand veggie Joe recipes, but never one as quick and easy as this!! The real star here are those fat free vegan onion rings you see. Just as delicious as the greasy pub variety minus the fat!!

Maple Kissed Sweet Potato Muffins

You'll never know these are fat free and whole wheat. These muffins became a quick favorite of my kids. A totally sweet yet guiltless breakfast!

I am sure that you will enjoy each and every one of the nearly 200 recipes in this book. Keep your eyes peeled to The Happy Herbivore website for the latest news on the cookbooks release.......or better yet, sign up for her newsletter for the most up to date info, and maybe even a teaser recipe or two.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thai Pineapple Curry

Thai is by far one of our favorite cuisines. Among Thai dishes, curries take the cake. The heat, the sweet, and the creamy coconut milk combine to create a veritable party in your mouth. This pineapple curry is one of our favorite Thai dishes. We like this one so much it was even our Thanksgiving meal this year. You'll recall that we were in Hawaii for Thanksgiving, so our curry was made with the freshest, sweetest, juiciest pineapple you can imagine. While Hawaiian pineapple made for a delectable curry, this one is just as delicious, right here in middle American, even in the depths of winter. I recommend that you use a fresh pineapple, but if none are to be found a can of pineapple will do the trick.

If you've never worked with fresh pineapple before it can seem quite intimidating. In reality, it couldn't be easier to work it. Here are a few tips to help you choose and use your pineapple. To choose the ripest pineapple begin by plucking a few leaves off the top. If the leaves give you little to no resistance the pineapple is ripe. Take it home and use within a few days. Store in the refrigerator if you don't plan to use it for awhile. If the leaves resist your pull or don't come off at all, your pineapple is not ripe. Take it home, leave it on the counter, have some patience and it will ripen with time. To use your pineapple, begin by cutting a small slice off the bottom of the fruit. Immediately set the pineapple upright to allow the sweet juices to be reabsorbed into the fruit. After allowing the fruit to sit for a few minutes cut the top off (you can save this leafy top, plant it in soil and grow your own pineapple if you like). Next, cut the fruit in quarters lengthwise. This will leave you with four triangular shaped pieces of fruit. To remove the core simply run your knife down the pointy corner of the triangle. Use your knife to cut away the skin, then cut into bite sized or smaller chunks.

Thai Pineapple Curry

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 package extra firm tofu, well pressed and cubed

1 yellow onion, sliced in half moons

1 small fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks

1 Tbs Thai red curry paste (adjust according to taste)

1 can coconut milk

2 Tbs light brown sugar

2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce

Juice of one lime

1/4 cup cilantro leaves or basil leaves, chopped

Crushed red pepper flake to garnish

In a large saucepan or skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Add tofu and saute until brown on all sides. Add onion and continue to saute until softened. Add pineapple and saute a few minutes more to release juices. Move contents of skillet to edges and add curry paste. Let curry paste warm for a minute or two, then slowly pour coconut milk into skillet, whisking in curry paste as you pour. Add sugar, tamari, and lime juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, simmer covered 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro. Serve over steamed brown basmati rice and sprinkle with red pepper flake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Faking It.

Recently on Twitter there was a Tweet that went something like this......if wearing fur is morally wrong then isn't wearing faux fur and propagating the idea of fur wearing just as wrong? This simple statement then lead naturally to the question of replacing your leather goods with pleather. And not surprisingly it lead to the questioning of the morality of eating fake meats. There is always chatter of this sort going around in the vegan community, sort of like a "how vegan are you" contest. Are you vegan enough that you don't wear clothing resembling animal skins or eat anything that's meant to resemble a hamburger? Perhaps you shouldn't even call yourself a vegan if you do. This crazy idea about which vegans are the most vegan goes on constantly.

I say, enough with the names, enough with the "I'm more vegan than you" attitude, a vegan is a vegan is a vegan. I do believe that veganism is more than a diet. I do believe that veganism is a lifestyle of awareness and compassion. I don't believe that vegans are or should be perfect. If you don't wear or eat animals or their secretions, if you don't use products that were produced through animal testing or with animal ingredients, and if your intent is to cause as little harm to animals, the environment, and yourself as possible then you are a vegan. Let's face it, if your intentions are good but you aren't a "perfect" vegan it doesn't make me any less vegan, so why should I care what you call yourself?

But I digress, now on to the issues at hand. Is it contradictory, or "unvegan" as it were, to wear faux fur and pleather and to eat meat analogs? Honestly, and maybe unpopularly, I don't think so. I've not ever been one to wear fur or even want to wear fur, so faux fur isn't really a huge draw for me. But if you like the look of fur I don't see anything wrong with wearing the faux variety (that is assuming of course your faux fur isn't made with dog fur; you can read more about that here). Pleather is hard to avoid. I mean, if you want to ever wear anything other than canvas sneakers then you pretty much don't have a choice (and canvas sneakers won't keep your feet too warm or dry in this snow and ice). As for meat analogs, I don't see the big deal. It's not meat so really, why does it matter. I mean if I'm honest, I didn't stop eating meat and wearing leather because I all of a sudden decided I didn't like the taste of a hamburger or that leather was "so last year". I don't avoid these things because I dislike them, I avoid them because I disapprove of them. They are cruel, inhumane, and absolutely unnecessary to my survival. So what if I miss the taste of a cheeseburger or like the look of a sexy pair of black knee high boots. I don't consume them and THAT'S THE POINT. Becoming vegan wasn't about thinking that cheese was the most disgusting tasting thing on the face of the Earth. As a matter of fact, I think cheese tastes pretty darn good. Becoming vegan was about becoming unselfish, it was about putting my own selfish desires aside and living my values.

So, if you want to fake it go for it. Get that faux fur trimmed coat, buy those sexy patent pleather heels, and find the tastiest, juiciest vegan burger you can find. It's your intent that counts. If fake fur, fake leather and fake meat and cheese help someone give up their more cruel counterparts we, the vegan community, should be happy about that. Any means to a less cruel society is still a means to a less cruel society.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vegan Crab Cakes

Yes, I know there are already about a thousand variations of vegan crab cakes floating around in the blogosphere, but you know what, that's ok. I've created my own anyway. Not everyone that reads this blog will have come across crab cakes on other blogs, and even if you have, it shouldn't stop you from trying a new recipe once in awhile.

These are fried, so they aren't completely healthy, but they aren't something you are likely to eat that often anyway, so what the hell, why not indulge a little once in awhile, right?? And besides they are good!!

Vegan Crab Cakes:

1 can chickpeas

1/2 block firm tofu (drained and pressed)

1/2 onion, diced

1/3 green pepper, diced

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tsp baking powder

2 Tbs flour

2 tsp Old bay

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 Tbs dried parsley

3 Tbs Vegenaise

1 Tbs Vegan Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp Kelp Granules

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and green pepper until soft and beginning to brown. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine chickpeas and tofu and smash with a potato masher until no whole beans are visible and tofu and beans are well combined. Add sauteed vegetables to the bean mixture and combine. Add remaining ingredients to beans and veggies and using your hands combine well. Heat a few Tbs of sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Scoop 1/4 servings of "crab cake" mixture and shape into patties. When oil is hot lightly fry patties on both sides until deep, golden brown. Serve warm with vegan tartar sauce. Makes about 10 patties.

****To make a vegan version of tartar sauce combine Vegenaise with sweet pickle relish and sweetener such as agave or raw sugar. Using proportions that are customized to your liking.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Triple Chocolate Threat!

Move over Krispy Kreme, there's a new donut in town. These vegan Triple Chocolate Donuts will not only knock your socks off, they're healthy and nearly fat free to boot. Now you can indulge in that sinful treat we all enjoy with absolutely no guilt!! To make these donuts you'll need a donut pan, which can be bought relatively cheap, and is totally worth the money you'll spend on it. I mean, what could be more fun than surprising your family with chocolate donuts for breakfast, right?? These tasty breakfast confections are baked, not fried, cholesterol free, and nearly fat free (if you ever find a fat free chocolate chip let me know!!). For an even lower fat donut simply leave off the glaze, and for a completely fat free donut leave out the chocolate chips and eat them sans glaze. But, I say, treat yourself, use the chips, use the glaze, and enjoy.

Triple Chocolate Donuts

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

1 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup raw sugar

2/3 cup chocolate chips

2 flax "eggs" **

1/2 cup + 3 Tbs Fat Free soy milk

3 Tbs applesauce

1 recipe Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray donut pan with cooking spray and set aside. Prepare flax "eggs"** and set aside. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients through chocolate chips stirring to combine well (sifting flour and cocoa if clumpy). Add applesauce to soy milk. Add soy milk mixture and flax "eggs" to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fill donut molds 2/3 full and bake in preheated oven for 11 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in donut comes out clean). In the meantime, prepare the Chocolate Glaze. Remove donuts from oven, cool in pan until they are cool enough for you to handle. Once cool enough for you to handle, remove to a cooling rack and cool completely. Re-spray pan and prepare second batch as directed above, filling molds 2/3 full. Spread glaze over donuts with a spoon and serve. Yields 12 donuts.

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup chocolate chips

3 Tbs fat free soy milk

In a small saucepan combine chocolate chips and soy milk, gently heat over low heat stirring constantly until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before using.

** To make flax "eggs" combine 1 heaping Tbs of ground flax seeds with 1/4 cup warm water and blend until frothy for each "egg". You can purchase flax seeds already ground and keep them in the freezer, or grind them yourself using a spice grinder, a coffee grinder or a blender. Making flax "eggs" can be done by hand beating the flax and water together with a whisk. I've found the easiest and most efficient way to do this is by combining the two and blending with an immersion blender.

If you've bought a donut pan you might as well go ahead and try these Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip donuts as well.

Monday, January 4, 2010

7 simple ways to make vegan a lasting change.

Maybe you've seen Tal Ronnen on Oprah, or Jonathan Safran Foer on Ellen. Maybe you saw Alicia Silverstone on The View or Kathy Freston on Extra!. Maybe you saw The China Study's T. Colin Campbell on Larry King Live or you saw Dr. Oz turn a meat loving cowboy vegan. Maybe you say Zooey Deschanel on Top Chef or maybe your daughter bought you The Kind Diet for Christmas (yeah mom, I'm talking to you). And of course, there's probably no one that hasn't heard of or read Skinny Bitch. If you haven't seen or heard about at least one of these things you have probably been living in a hole for the last several months. Veganism has hit the media big time. With all of the mainstream talk about veganism maybe you've decided to give it a try for yourself.

You may have bits and pieces of information that make veganism appealing to you. It's likely you've heard something here or there about a plant based diet being optimal for your health. You've probably been made vaguely aware of the effects our meat eating has on the environment. Chances are you saw the PETA coverage of downer cows on the news and promptly turned the channel. Aside from these snippets that we see on our television or read in our morning papers many of us never take the issue to heart and continue to do our own research. We think veganism is just another "fad diet".....after all wasn't it just a few years ago when Dr. Atkins told us that we should eschew all veggies and carbs and live solely on meat, cheese and dairy (this remember was before he died after suffering a heart attack, congestive heart failure and severe hypertension), surely something easier than quitting meat will come along, right? Sure we think, factory farming may cause pollution, but so what, right, we've got to eat. We've seen the PETA coverage and either don't care, after all they're just stupid animals, or we ignore what we see because we fear that if we "know" we'll actually have to examine our behaviors and attitudes around our diet.

Maybe with the start of the new year you've decided for the first time (or maybe for the 15th year in a row) to actually examine your diet and examine your attitudes about food and the environment and give up animal products for good. If going vegan was your New Year's resolution (or goal) it's likely that on Day 4 you're still doing pretty well. But with 361 days left in 2010 (and hopefully a lifetime left for your new lifestyle) how do you make this change permanent?

Below are my tips for adopting a vegan diet and making it stick.

1. If you are switching to a vegan diet from a diet of meat transition slowly. Big changes don't happen over night, and you shouldn't set yourself up for failure by eliminating all animal products from your diet in one fell swoop. This works for some people, but doesn't seem to be the case for most. My recommendation is to forgo dairy before all else. It's well documented in Dr. Neal Barnard's book Breaking the Food Seduction that dairy products produce casomorphins when we consume them. A chemical akin to the drug morphine, that causes a physical addiction to dairy products. In order to eliminate dairy from you diet it's best to treat it as you would a serious drug addiction. You wouldn't slowly wean yourself from narcotics, expecting to have a little here or there and actually kick the addiction. The same is true with cheese, milk and yogurt. Every bite serves to feed the addiction. If you are serious about eliminating dairy then by all means, just say no.

Once you've managed to kick the dairy habit (which seems to be the hardest step for anyone adopting this lifestyle) move on to eliminating the flesh foods. This can be done either all at once or in stages. For me, taking it in stages worked best. I eliminated all but chicken and seafood, and then slowly eliminated chicken, and finally seafood. There are many abolitionist vegans who disagree with me claiming that all animal consumption should be eliminated, period. And while that's surely the goal here, I happen to think that some is better than none, and that even slowly reducing your flesh intake raises your consciousness to a level that will eventually lead to the elimination of all animal products. Plus, by not allowing yourself any leniency in the beginning, it's my opinion that you are just setting yourself up for failure. Which, leads me to tip number 2.

2. Don't beat yourself up over your mistakes. Changing the diet you've been eating all of your life isn't always easy, mistakes happen. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and commit again. That said, once you've committed to any one step of eliminating animal products don't give yourself the ok to "cheat" and then call it a mistake. A commitment is a commitment after all, even when it's tough. Reduce mistakes by learning to read labels, learning where animal products are hidden, and being vigilant.

3. Don't let your food choices become an issue in social settings. For instance, you will undoubtedly be invited to a friends house for dinner or out to a restaurant. Don't let your new lifestyle prohibit you from going. Politely let your friends and family know of your diet changes and make sure they know that it isn't necessary for them to go out of their way for you. Ask in advance what the menu is and then offer to bring a dish so that you know you will at least have something to eat. They choose to go to a steakhouse? Assuming you aren't ethically opposed to others having free will to make their food choices go along, you can get salad anywhere. So what if it's not the best meal you've ever eaten, going out to dinner isn't really about eating anyway, it's about socializing, you can eat when you get home. Allow yourself to have fun and not fret over the fact that the menu is seriously lacking in appropriate choices. More often than not you'll find that your friends are more than willing to pick a place that's suitable for you, so lighten up and don't let your lifestyle hold you back. And, speaking of friends.........

4. Know that your friends and family will probably not have the reaction you were hoping for (unless of course your daughter is already vegan and she's so super proud of you....yeah, you again mom!!!). Many of your friends and family are likely to feel attacked and offended by your new choices. They tend to internalize your decision and feel that your veganism is somehow an attack on their choices and their lifestyle. Remind them that your choices are not about them, that what you have chosen is what you feel is the best way for you to live your life. Eventually they will come around, I promise, and if they don't then it's probably worth asking yourself if you need them as a friend anyway.

5. Educate yourself. I think one of the easiest ways to make veganism a lasting change is to educate yourself. My favorite thing to say to people is "Once you know you can't not know", and that "knowing" is all that it takes for me to be committed to a cruelty free way of life every single day. Being educated also won't hurt when you are bombarded with the millions of questions and comments you will undoubtedly receive. The more you know, the more confident you are in your choice and your response, the more effective you are in opening the eyes of others.

There is no lack of information available about the vegan diet and lifestyle. Do a web search, go to the library, check out some blogs. The information is all there for the taking, all you've got to do is open up your eyes, open up your mind, open up your heart and READ!! There are many great books available, following are my recommendations:

For your health:

The China Study
by T. Colin Campbell is absolutely necessary reading. If you ever questioned the role of diet and health this is a must read.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. This is a very easy read and her style of writing is very personable. I have a few issues with this book, but for the most part it is good, with a great message. My only complaint is that she makes veganism seem hard to nearly impossible for people not living in NYC or LA. I live in the midwest and don't have access to some of the ingredients her recipes use, and even so have NEVER had trouble being vegan. So, if you read this book, don't be discouraged by her SuperHero plan.

For the Animals/Environment:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer is a must read. This book is excellent in describing how in order to change the effects of animal agriculture it is absolutely imperative that we stop supporting the animal products industry. He's not necessarily a proponent of veganism, but very clearly makes the point that if you disagree with any aspect of animal agriculture the only way you can change it is by boycotting it.

Diet for a New America by John Robbins. This book really touches on all aspects of veganism, but particularly on Environmental and Animal Cruelty aspects.

For Spiritual Growth:

The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle is an absolutely necessary read if you are interested in how our diet is connected to our behaviors. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

6. Make your choices about something other than yourself. After all of the research you've done you'll know that the Standard American Diet (aptly given the acronym SAD) is killing us, and not only is it killing us it's killing everyone who adopts our Western way of eating. Cancer and diseases of the heart are taking our lives at an alarming rate, an there's very good evidence that all it takes to stop the madness is to stop the consumption of animal products. More importantly you'll know that the meat industry is one of the largest polluting industries (second only to the military) around.......our meat eating habit produces more greenhouse gas than the entire transportation sector combined, this includes cars, buses, trucks, planes and trains! You'll know that the animals are not only born in horrific conditions, but treated in a cruel and brutal manner their entire lives. They are subject to cruel and unusual treatment every single day of their lives. Once you know that by changing your diet you can change so much there's no temptation to ever go back.

For me, being vegan isn't about me, it's not about my health. It's about the health of my children, it's about the health of the planet I want my children to enjoy, the health of the planet that I want future generations to have the pleasure of experiencing. It's about the lives of millions of animals that are needlessly and senselessly abused and killed every single day just for the selfish enjoyment of our tastebuds. It's about knowing in my heart that when I don't fill my body with the fear and violence involved in producing animal products I am in a better place to reduce the amount of fear and violence our world is experiencing. And, with all of these things at stake, how could I ever go back? I've heard from countless other vegans who feel exactly the same way. Make the choice for something bigger than yourself and it will all make sense.

7. Finally, find support. Find vegans in your community. Start a vegan support group. Join the amazing vegan cyber community on Twitter and Facebook. You are not alone in this!!

Go vegan for you, for the animals, for the planet, for PEACE!!!