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.