Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fruit Sticks

My week of vegan was a huge success. Lots of people visited the blog, and some folks emailed with questions about recipes. One person asked if I could recommend some vegan cookbooks and, as always, I recommended anything by Isa Chandra Moscowitz. 

In the wake of my week of vegan, I'm gearing up to participate in Vegan Mofo, which is a full month of vegan food blogging vaguely inspired by NaNoWriMo. It begins October 1st.

In the meantime here are some fruit sticks. Melon, mango, banana and raspberries on a stick. 

Avocado and salsa on crackers.

Gardein Crispy Tenders with salad.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week of Vegan. Day 7. 

- avocado sandwich
- honeydew melon
- tea

- vegetable soup
- maple syrup cookies

- eggplant and chickpea curry* with brown rice
- glass of wine 
- banana

This curry makes two servings, and is easy enough for a weeknight dinner. First, take half of a large eggplant and cut it into chunks. I recommend salting eggplant to take away the bitterness, so put the eggplant chunks in a colander and toss them with plenty of salt. Leave to sit, preferably in the sink so that any excess liquid can drain off. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan and fry 1/4 of an onion, diced. When the onion is beginning to brown, add a chopped tomato and half a bell pepper (any color is great). If you have an additional vegetables that you need to use use, you can add them at this point. Continue to sauté for five minutes before rinsing the salt off the eggplant and adding to the pan. Allow another five minutes of cooking time before adding 3/4 cup chickpeas (equivalent of about 1/2 a can), 1/2 can of coconut milk, garam masala and salt. I recommend getting pretty liberal with the garam masala. I think I used about a tablespoon in this recipe, but yours will vary depending on how spicy your mixture is and what your preferences are. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week of Vegan. Day 6. 

- fluffy pancake with nectarines*
- tea

- leftover salad (last night's quinoa, mango, red bell pepper salad mixed with red cabbage slaw)
- honeydew melon with mint

- dark chocolate almond milk (in a juice box!)
- Maple creme cookies from Safeway

- peanut sauce tempeh* with salad
- glass of zinfandel

Wow, I'm loving this fluffy pancake situation. The recipe makes one big, thick pancake - enough for a breakfast serving. Top it with whatever fruit you have on hand. I used a chopped nectarine which I mixed with 1 tbsp of brown sugar and microwaved for 2 minutes to create a nice sugary caramel-type fruity sauce. While that's happening, pre-heat a small skillet with plenty of oil. For the batter, mix 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, 1 tbsp oil, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, pinch of salt. Pour the batter into the pan and cook on one side for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for another minute or two. 

To make one serving of peanut sauce, mix 2 tbsp peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar. You can add something sugary, such as mirin, if you prefer it a bit sweeter. Next, heat a little oil in a pan and cook the tempeh until it's beginning to brown on each side, then stir in the sauce and let it heat through before serving. Peanut sauce works well on stir-fried vegetables or noodles, too. It also keeps really well in the fridge, so feel free to store it for weeks or even months at a time. 

And, I discovered these maple creme cookies at Safeway, that just happen to be vegan. They're super sugary, but pretty good. I was also pleasantly surprised to find these juice box-size servings of chocolate almond milk in the dairy aisle. This almond milk is great cold, but even better served hot!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week of Vegan. Day 5. 

- raisin bran cereal with soy milk
- tea

- baby greens with balsamic dressing, topped with dried apricots and sunflower seeds
- spaghetti with garlic, fresh herbs and breadcrumbs*
- iced pomegranate tea
- dark chocolate

- quinoa, mango and red bell pepper salad* on a bed of greens with black beans and red cabbage slaw

To make the pasta, cook and drain one serving of spaghetti. Set it aside in the colander. Then heat 1tbsp of Earth Balance or olive oil in a pan and sauté two crushed cloves of garlic for a minute or two. Add 2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used parsley and thyme), 1 tbsp breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt. Next, stir in the spaghetti, making sure that the whole thing gets properly mixed before serving. 

For the quinoa salad, I tossed together 3/4 cup of leftover quinoa, 1/4 of a red bell pepper, 1/4 mango, 2tsp olive oil, 1 tsp Cholula chili lime sauce, and a pinch of salt. The flavor is really fresh, I love the combination of crisp pepper and the sweet mango with a hint of spiciness. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week of Vegan. Day 4, Friday.

- buckwheat pancakes with banana and maple syrup*
- tea

- big salad (salad greens, quinoa, nori, smoked almonds, sesame seeds, dressing)*
- nectarine

- corn tortillas, red cabbage slaw*, black beans, sautéed kale and salsa fresca
- mango

There's a bag of buckwheat pancake and waffle mix that I'm fairly certain has been at the back of my baking supplies cupboard since I moved into my house over 8 years ago. Today I decided it was time to throw it out or use it, so I used it. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I got a well-formed pancake that only stuck to the pan in the way that all of my pancakes stick to the pan. It had a dark color and a rich flavor, perfect with bananas and ample syrup. Begin by heating a small skillet with plenty of cooking oil (I used canola). Measure and stir 1 cup of pancake mix, 1 cup non-dairy milk, 2 tbsp canola oil, 1 tbsp sugar, pinch of salt. If you don't have pancake mix, used 1 cup of flour and 2 tbsp of baking powder. Make sure that the batter isn't lumpy, then pour it into the skillet and spread it to the edges with a spatula. My pancakes needed to be cooked on on side for about 3 minutes before flipping and cooking for an additional minute on the other side. Makes two thick pancakes. 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my friends Brock and Heather told me that they make a point of eating a big salad for dinner at least once a week. So, I always think of them when I'm figuring out which combination of veggies I can throw together to make a satisfying meal. Todays salad was really quick to prepare. Toss together 1 cup of salad greens, 1 cup of quinoa, 2 sheets of torn nori, 2 tsp of toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp rice wine vinegar and 2 tsp of soy sauce. Top with sesame seeds and smoked almonds. 

Red cabbage slaw has to be an all-time easy favorite for getting some color on your plate. Chop the cabbage, sprinkle with salt and vinegar, and leave it in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This goes with all kinds of meals an keeps in the fridge up ages, up to 5 days. Feel free to add carrots and onions, or get creative by adding fruit or jalapeños.  

After thought: I stayed up much later than I meant to and ended up getting hungry for something sugary around midnight. I figured it would be a good time to try out a quick new recipe for microwave coconut pudding cake. Unfortunately, it did not turn out well. It didn't look attractive and the texture was all wrong. Don't try this at home. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Week of Vegan. Day 3, Thursday.

- toasted Alvarado Street California Complete Protein bread, Earth Balance
- tea

- tacos (corn tortillas with salad greens, black beans and salsa fresca)
- banana berry smoothie*

- nectarine
- tea

- sauteed collard greens, black beans and quinoa with garlic tahini sauce*
- orange dark chocolate
- sauvignon blanc

My standard smoothie recipe is super easy; just 3/4 cup non-dairy milk, one large banana and 3/4 cup of frozen fruit. Today I made my smoothie with unsweetened soy milk and mixed frozen berries (including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries).

Garlic tahini sauce makes one generous serving. Vigorously mix together 1 crushed garlic clove, 1.5 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, pinch salt, 1 to 2 tbsp water.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Week of Vegan. Day 2, Wednesday.

In answer to the question about supplements, yes, I take some supplements. However, I went for many years as a vegan without taking any and I felt great and don't think I had any deficiencies. Now, I take algae-based Omega 3 every day, and I take B12 and calcium whenever I remember (which is probably a couple of times a week). I tend not to get too hung up about supplements because I feel that my diet is sufficiently balanced to take care of most of my needs. And, of course, I eat a ton of nutritional yeast, which is delicious and one of the few vegan sources of B12. 


- toasted Alvarado Street California Complete Protein Bread with Earth Balance
- nectarine
- coffee

- homemade split pea soup*, corn tortilla
- banana drizzled with maple syrup

- Gardein Crispy Tenders with sweet chili sauce, crinkle cut fries, green salad in balsamic dressing 
- glass of chardonnay
- mango

I made the split pea soup in a crock pot. I am totally, 100%, digging the crock pot. An old housemate left it here my mistake when he moved to the east coast, unused and still in the box. For a long time I didn't even bother to open it because I didn't really know what to do with it. Then I was bored one day and decided to clean out the kitchen cupboards. I came across it, busted it out, and the rest is history. I use it to cook all sorts of things overnight, typically beans, soups and stews. Everything I have ever made in it has come out perfectly. For this soup, I just put the ingredients in the pot and left it on the high setting for about 9 hours. You will need one pound of split peas, a chopped onion, one teaspoon of vegetable bouillon, generous amounts of garam masala, modest amounts of salt. That's it. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week of Vegan! Day 1, Tuesday.

As a vegan, I get a lot of questions about my diet. Some classics include "What do you eat?", "How do you get enough protein?", "Don't you get hungry for real food?", "Do you have to take supplements?", "So you don't eat bread, right?", "Are you a fruitarian?". 

So, I'm launching a weeklong project to document the diet of a real-life vegan. Today is day # 1. I think the results will answer people's questions about what I eat and how I meet my nutritional needs. My hope is that people will feel inspired to try a recipe or two, and perhaps even experiment with a couple of meatless meals if that isn't something that's currently in their repertoire. Perhaps I will also be successful in demonstrating that vegan cooking doesn't require more time or preparation than omnivorous alternatives and it can be done relatively inexpensively. It helps to rely on whatever produce is in season, and that will vary depending on where you live. When I'm out shopping, I try to look for fruit and vegetables that are $2 per pound or less as a good rule of thumb. 

The photos were taken on my phone, so they're not the best, but I'm working on it. 

*Recipes are included at the bottom of the page for marked items.


- store-bought English muffin with peanut butter
- nectarine
- coffee

- baked sweet potato with avocado and salsa fresca*
- raspberry banana smoothie*

- red bell pepper with goddess dressing dip
- dried mango slices
- iced pomegranate tea 

Dinner at Cha-Ya, Berkeley's vegan Japanese restaurant: 
- hijiki and wakame salad with tahini dressing
- udon noodles and vegetables in broth
- Sapporo beer
- homemade molten chocolate cake in a mug*

To make the baked sweet potato with avocado and salsa fresca, rap the potato in foil and bake at 400 degrees for an hour. Or, if you're short on time, just pierce it a couple of times and throw it into the microwave for 10 minutes. Cut in half, top with avocado and store-bought salsa fresca. Easiest lunch ever.

For the smoothie, you need to bust out a blender. Add 3/4 cup of non-dairy milk, 3/4 cup frozen raspberries, one banana. Blend.  

I've already shared the recipe for the molten chocolate cake in a mug, but I'll share it again because it's just so good. I mean, it's a chocolate cake that you can make in single serving sized portions in under 3 minutes, including cooking time. It seems too good to be true, but I've tried it again and again and I can confirm that it is, in fact, really true. It's also totally foolproof. If you have a pet monkey, you can probably train them to make this. Get a mug, add 4 tbsp all-purpose flour, 4 tbsp sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tbsp oil, 4 tbsp water and a pinch of salt. Microwave for 60-90 seconds. Bam, that's it.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chocolate Bottom Coconut Macaroons

I hadn't had coconut macaroons since becoming vegan, so I was pretty excited to discover this recipe in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

I think the key to successful coconut macaroons is to use plenty of coconut extract, as well as shredded coconut, so I deviated from the original recipe a bit.

3oz silken tofu
5 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups shredded coconut
½ cup chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease two baking sheets. You will also need two sheets of baking paper, which you should set aside before beginning. In a food processor or blender, zap the silken tofu, oil, milk and flavoring extracts until smooth (I use a Cuisinart). Next, sift the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, then slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using a spatula.

Using a 2oz scoop or a serving spoon, make balls of dough and drop them 2 inches apart onto your baking sheet. There is no need to flatten them down; they should retain their domed shape. Bake for 14 minutes until some of the coconut flakes start to become very slightly golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a pan over a flow flame or in a double boiler. Once the macaroons are cool enough to handle, gently pick them up and dip the bottoms in the melted chocolate. Place them chocolatey-side down on the baking paper and transfer to the refrigerator to cool. This should take about 30 minutes. If it is warm, store the macaroons in a sealed container in the fridge to preserve freshness and prevent the chocolate from melting. Otherwise, store them as you would with any other cookie. Serve with tea!