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!!!