Monday, December 9, 2013

Tempeh Broccoli Bowl

I've been meaning to give tempeh another try for a while now. (I liked it the first time, but I wasn't yet completely sold on it.) This particular tempeh had been sitting in my fridge for about a month now. Recently, I discovered a nice smoky little marinade from Bonzai Aphrodite. She calls it her "bacon" recipe. So I decided to make a nice little veggie bowl with brown rice, marinated tempeh, broccoli, and bell pepper.

First order of business: get that brown rice started. The brown rice takes the longest to cook. I have a rice cooker, so it's a bit faster, but it still takes quite a while.

Now you have to steam your tempeh. I just added some water to a skillet and steamed it for about 10 minutes. This helps make the tempeh less bitter.

Next marinate your tempeh. The marinade consists of tamari (or soy sauce, if you prefer), apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and liquid smoke. If you don't have liquid smoke, it will still taste delicious, so don't worry. Pour all of those ingredients into a dish and add your tempeh. Cut it up into smaller pieces so that it will absorb the marinade better. Don't forget to flip the pieces over halfway through so that they're coated on all sides!

Next, chop up your broccoli and bell pepper. You can use different vegetables if you prefer, but I had some pre-chopped broccoli handy from a previous meal and added an orange bell pepper for variety. Steam your veggies in water. Feel free to add a splash or two of tamari or soy sauce while they are steaming to cook in some extra flavor. Once your veggies are done, cover them to keep them warm while your rice and tempeh cook.

Add a little bit of oil to another skillet and drop your tempeh pieces into the oil. Cook until browned. They'll turn a nice dark shade of coppery brown.

Final step, assemble your bowl with brown rice, topped with the veggies and tempeh, and drizzle some of the leftover marinade over the veggies and tempeh for more flavor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I was all smug about Thanksgiving before it happened. I thought it would be super easy to stay on track with healthy eating because most things at the meal weren't vegan. (My cousin hosted and the only things that were vegan were the two dishes I brought.) She's super cool about it and was really excited to try the food I brought. I was planning on bringing 3-4 dishes so that I could have more variety and told her that she didn't need to do anything special, but I didn't have time to make the Lentil Loaf. So I ended up bringing Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie Brownies.

The recipe I used for the Pumpkin Pie Brownies is from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Follow the directions! I thought the pumpkin pie layer looked too liquidy before it was cooked and added some extra pumpkin puree, but it wasn't necessary. It still tasted great, anyway. My cousin said it was really rich, and she was surprisingly the only one who asked any questions about my new dietary preference. (And they were nice questions, none of them concerning my protein intake.)

The previous weekend, I went to see the other side of the family for my grandpa's birthday. My uncle was very persistant in his questioning, but that's just part of his personality. He's very nosey and likes to know all of the gossip. He does this to every single one of my cousins, usually about significant others. He also isn't afraid to question the significant other and tell embarassing stories if they're in attendance. I felt like it was a good discussion, though, and he wasn't defensively asking questions. It was more curiousity since they've all known that I've been vegetarian for years, but they hadn't seen me since the switch. (Technically, I was flexitarian for most of that time, but only in relation to the farmer's market and eating fish sometimes at restaurants. So it was easier to tell them vegetarian.) I also didn't give prior warning about the change since it was a pitch-in affair, and I'm trying to keep a low profile. My uncle brought me out of the closet when cake was served, though.

Anyway, so Thanksgiving was fine. I ate fairly healthy and ate a little bit more when I got home that evening since I didn't have many vegan options at Thanksgiving. It was the 3 free days after that really did me in. I don't do the whole Black Friday thing, especially since I live right next to the 5th largest mall in the U.S., and it's just a hot mess there during the entire season between mid-November and January 1st. I sat around on the couch and watched Netflix and snacked on the food from the Second Thanksgiving that I made for my husband (since he had to work during Thanksgiving). There weren't many vegetables or fruits left in the house at that point, and I didn't feel like going to the store since there was already plenty of food. Bad idea. I kept telling myself I would go exercise or at least get out of the house and go to the store, but then another show would come on. I did walk my dog, but when you eat that much food and remain sedentary for the majority of the day, a dog walk doesn't really count as exercise. Also, it just ruins your mood. I was feeling pretty happy during the beginning of the week, but I was majorly depressed and upset over the weekend. It was just a vicious cycle of overeating --> sitting still and feeling tired because I ate too much --> eating more.

Oh well, now I'm getting back on track, and I know that next time I should probably volunteer for overtime, plan on going out somewhere, make an exercise date or attend a class when I have that much time off in a row. Everyone has times that they fall off the wagon, but I certainly fell off the wagon a little harder than most. I feel so much better yesterday and today since I exercised and ate better. I didn't realize how much I'd gotten used to the routine of work and exercise. I probably should make a game plan for Christmas break because I'm taking a whole week off to visit family.

It's amazing how much of a mood boost you get from doing something as simple as using an elliptical machine! You don't even have to go outside! I like to run outside, but I hate treadmills! I'm a wimp when it comes to rain, snow, and cold weather. (The fact that it is dark outside before I even leave work doesn't help matters.) However, I really enjoy the elliptical because I can read while I'm doing it. Yeah, I'm not working as hard, but I like to read and stay on the machine longer when I'm really into a story. I also listen to music to block out the sound of the television and other exercise machines. I know that's a lot going on, but it helps me to concentrate and speed up when a new, fast song comes on. I prefer to set the program to hill or intervals so that the incline is constantly changing, too. That way you can't just stay at a steady pace, and you'll probably work a little harder.

If you want to use the elliptical and think that you'd like to read on it, I'd recommend starting with a magazine because they're usually easier to read while exercising. Short snippets, less attention needed. I also have a friend who watches TV shows on her iPhone. Most ellipticals have a small stand for reading materials that will hold a smart phone, magazine, e-book reader, or small paperback at eye level. Sometimes you can find one of those clear plastic holders to hold a larger book, depending on where you are.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Willy Wonka Vegan Meme

Willy Wonka I came across this vegan meme the other day on, and I thought it was pretty witty. A lot of dudes are worried that being vegetarian is socially awkward because eating burgers and steak is a sign of manliness. I disagree.

My hubbie still eats meat, but he isn't scared to try (and enjoy) my vegan foods and meals. He even eats them sometimes when I'm not around pushing them on him or cooking them for him. Gasp! As Rip Esselstein of The Engine 2 Diet says "Real Men Eat Plants"!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Very First Tofu Scramble!

Yes, I've been eating (99.5%) vegan for about 2 1/2 months now (and vegetarian for about 3 years), but I have never attempted to make a tofu scramble.  Shame on me!

Well, here is my first attempt.  It was pretty scrumptious if I do say so myself.  Next time, I would probably use more tofu (only had less than half a pack leftover) and probably not use the pre-cubed kind, but all in all, I have to say that it turned out well.

Tofu Scramble


1 pack extra firm Tofu (Don't use pre-cubed because it will not scramble as well.)
About 1/3-1/2 of a head of broccoli (chopped into bite size florets and pieces)
2-3 bell peppers (I used red, yellow & orange for more color and flavor variety.)
2 tbsp. of olive oil
1/2 tbsp. (or more to taste) of Soy Sauce, Tamari (gluten-free option) or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1-2 tsp. of Vinegar, depending on your preference
*I don't usually measure my spices when I cook, I just shake liberally to taste.  So I've put them in order of amount used from most to least.*
Nutritional Yeast
Chili powder (or crushed red pepper)
Garlic powder**

**If you want to chop up some actual garlic cloves or add some onions, I'm all for it, but this morning I was going for ease in preparation.

Spices and ingredients I used.  (No penguins were harmed in the making of this scramble!)

First, chop up all of your veggies into bite-size pieces, just like you're doing a stir fry.  Add 1 tbsp. of the olive oil to a large skillet or saucepan.  Heat to medium and add all of the chopped broccoli and bell peppers.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes stirring regularly.  Season with some cumin and turmeric.

Turn the heat to medium-low and add remaining tbsp. of olive oil.  Push the veggies to one side and add the tofu to the other side of the skillet.  Use a spatula to break apart the tofu into little pieces. Mix the tofu and veggies back together.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Then add soy sauce, vinegar, and the rest of the spices.  Feel free to add more cumin and turmeric if you like.

This recipe feeds 2, but if there is only one of you, the leftovers would also be really good wrapped up in a tortilla for an easy lunch or dinner.  Maybe add some hot sauce, Tofutti Better than Sour Cream, and/or vegan shredded "cheddar" to make it seem more like a taco/burrito.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

If You Give a Girl a Food Processor. ..

During the week, I drool over all of these blogs with beautiful pictures of food and usually recipes for how to make it yourself. I cook more often than the average person, but I still choose lots of convenience foods during the week. Over the weekend, I have a little more time and freedom to cook for myself. The first item is something I found on a fun vegan blog.

Coconut Butter:

Check out the recipe here:
It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

My food processor took a little bit longer. I'm actually kind of a nerd, so I timed it. It took 12 minutes. I mixed the finished product with some pumpkin butter (for a sweeter taste) and spread it on my toast.  Yum!

The second was inspired by a fruit and veggie strip that I found at a natural foods store. I thought, "I can make that, and it will not cost $1.20 for a tiny little bar." I didn't end up making it into a dehydrated strip. It's more like a mashed potatoes/pie filling/baby food kind of consistency, but still plenty delicious.

Healthy Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potatoes
Spices (to taste):
Ground Cloves

Preheat your oven to 350 F. You could probably use a higher temperature if you're in a hurry, but I've found that slow food tastes better.

I'd recommend using slightly more apples than sweet potatoes for a sweeter taste. Also, sweeter apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp, etc.) would probably be better, but I used the red ones I got from my CSA share and added a little agave nectar. Maple syrup or brown sugar would be a nice sweetener to add to this dish, too. I was unfortunately, all out of maple. Also, if you're an omnivore or find a veg*n brand you like, bacon bits might make a nice garnish for this dish.

First, peel the sweet potatoes and cut, core, and peel the apples. I just cut the apples with my apple cutter so diving the apple into six bakeable slices is plenty of cutting if you're using a knife. Stick all of your peeled apple slices in a baking dish (preferably glass) and splash a little bit of water in the bottom. I chose to wrap my sweet potatoes in aluminum foil, but a baking dish would work, too, if you sliced them.

Set your timer for about 45 minutes and do a load of laundry or watch an hour-long TV show on DVD. (Hour-long shows usually only last about 40-45 minutes without all of the commercials.) Really you can anything you like. You could also make a nice dish to accompany this side dish and make a meal out of it. Seitan slices with curry sauce, green beans, and a side salad maybe? I just made this as a healthy snack/future side dish.

When your timer goes off, use a fork to see if your potatoes and apples are ready. If they squish easily, then they're ready. If not, add 5-10 more minutes and check again. Repeat this step as necessary *You might have to cook one longer than the other, so feel free to take one out while the other keeps cooking.*

When they're ready, squish all the apple slices and sweet potatoes. You'll want to add the apples and sweet potatoes to your blender a little bit at a time and stir regularly. And by "stir" I mean scoop all of the blended stuff on the bottom to the top layer. I added spices while blending. I just added a lot of spices at the beginning and did taste tests as I blended.

I used a regular old blender. It took a little longer than a fancy-pants Vitamix, but still works. Just give it some time. Also, I found that it is better to start on a lower setting and just work your way up slowly.

If you have an old blender, make sure that you stop the blender completely for about 20-30 seconds for every minute you spend blending because sometimes they overheat. I heard a horror story from a friend who blew out the motor on her blender, and it started smoking. So I'm just trying to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

I have a lot of leftovers, and I'm thinking of making some little sweet potato pies in my ramekins. Ramekins are those tiny little dishes that people make creme brulee and individual pot pies in. I'm adding this not because I think my readers are stupid, but because I had no idea what they were called before I bought them. I wanted to make tofu pot pies and I was at the store asking the clerk for "those little dishes that you make pot pies in", which isn't very descriptive to someone who cannot see the mental pictures of the item. Heck, there are plenty of different dishes you could use to make a pot pie!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Curried Cauliflower & Eggplant

Here are some quick and easy ways to fit more veggies into your diet. I don't usually eat either of these vegetables, but I'm trying to have more variety in my diet.

Orange Cauliflower from my 2nd to last CSA share:

I added some oil, curry spices (ginger, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, crushed red pepper, garlic), and a little bit of sweetener (agave nectar). I let it simmer and made sure the move the florets (little sections of cauliflower) around a little bit to get all of the sides cooked evenly. Apparently, orange cauliflower has more Vitamin A than other types. Score!

I always thought cauliflower was kind of bland, but this dish was anything but!

I did pretty much the same thing with the eggplant. I sauteed some onions in the dish first to give it some extra flavor. The eggplant was a different texture. It reminded me of stir-fried mushrooms.

It looks kind of gross*, but it tasted great!

I'd definitely make both of these dishes again. They could be nice side dishes or you could add some rice and tofu (or seitan) to make either one a good meal.

*I'd like to get a nicer camera to take prettier pictures of my food. If anyone has any recommendations for cheap, good cameras, let me know!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Homemade Miso Soup


Today, I have delicious miso soup for you. Now, I'd never made it from scratch before, but I bought a container of miso at the store. I figured I'd give it a whirl.


These ingredients are for a single serving.  You can double or triple the ingredients depending on how many people you are serving.

1-2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion or 1/4 of a large onion (diced)
2 carrots (also diced)
2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
sushi nori (seaweed)  torn into small pieces -*optional*
1 1/2 tbsp. miso (I used red miso.)
10-20 pieces of cubed tofu (I used the pre-cut kind.)

First, sauté your diced onions in the olive oil until they are translucent, then add your carrots and continue to sauté until the carrots are cooked.

Next, add the vegetable broth and tofu. Simmer for about 4 minutes, add miso and nori and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.  Then, woila!  Your miso soup is ready!

Can be a light lunch or add some sushi to make it a full meal.
This is my sushi that I made a while back. White rice, sweet potato tempura, avocado, and cucumber. It was delicious. I also made extra sweet potato tempura and my own little dipping sauce by mixing Sweet Chili Sauce with apricot preserves (on the left). It makes a sweet and spicy sauce that goes really well with the tempura.  On the right is Soy Ginger sauce.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Breakfast Idea from Happy Herbivore

I'm a big fan of Happy Herbivore's blog and website.  I recently checked out her meal plans to get some fresh ideas.  On the 3-day sample meal plan, I found an awesome recipe for Berry Berry Quinoa.  Now, I like quinoa (small grain with lots of protein, pronounced keen-wa), but I've always made it for dinner, and I never thought of making it as a breakfast dish.

In her recipe, Happy Herbivore uses two types of berries (preferably strawberries and blueberries), quinoa, cinnamon, and sweetener (maple syrup or agave nectar).  It's delicious!  In the picture below, I used red quinoa because I thought it would look good together with the berry colors, and I also used frozen blueberries.  I don't have permission to include her recipe, but it's in her free 3-day meal plan.  I also just bought a weekly meal plan to get some new ideas and because I loved the recipes from the free plan.  There're only $5 for a week-long meal plan, and they include a handy shopping list, so that you don't end up wasting money or time at the grocery store.  Also, you can cook all your meals for the week ahead of time if you prefer!

Happy Herbivore Meal Plans - If you'd like to try the Berry Berry Quinoa recipe (and others) go to this website and click on the free "3-day Sample Meal Plan".

I'm excited to try out my weekly meal plan and learn some new vegan, low-fat recipes this week!

***I also should probably mention that I paid for the meal plan, and my review is my personal opinion, not driven by anything else. (You can probably tell that because I don't have very many readers or followers of my blog.) Companies aren't exactly clamoring to get in on the action of my famous blog. That's okay because I don't blog for them. I write for me. :)***

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Weekday Quick Meal & Garden Pictures!

My weeks have been very busy lately, and I haven't quite been keeping up with my blog. I've been running, playing soccer, working on my garden, and just plain running around. This meal idea is actually from Tuesday night, and I'm just now getting around to posting it on Saturday. :) Hey, at least I'm posting it! It's very easy to make, fairly quick (about 20 minutes to make), and quite delicious.

This idea isn't entirely original, and it is partially stolen from a soup commercial and partially part of following the meal plan advocated by Alicia Silverstone in The Kind Diet. She says that at every meal, 1/2 your plate should be veggies, 1/4 whole grains, and 1/4 protein. I've been trying to include all three in each meal and making an effort to try new whole grains and to eat a variety of different foods.

So for this particular dinner, I cooked a can of Amy's Spicy Chili, some jasmine rice, and a bag of frozen Ranchero style vegetables. If you don't have Ranchero Style Vegetables, you can also just use a bag of mixed vegetables and add some spices (such as red pepper, cumin, and turmeric).

Tip: Start cooking your rice first because it will take the longest. (I used a rice cooker.) You then can wait about 8-15 before you need to start cooking your veggies and chili. Take that time to check your email, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, whatever needs to be done around the house, or just sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or something!

My carnivore husband loved this meal, especially the vegan chili! He did, however, add some shredded cheddar cheese to his chili and make his dish not entirely vegan. But if that's your thing, go for it. I'm sure it was just as tasty.

Also, I promised you guys that I would post some pictures of my garden plot. So I took some for you. These were taken at night because it's been getting dark so early lately. I plan to take a few better ones after I mulch tomorrow.

Cantaloupe: I got both my cantaloupe plants on sale from the garden store at the end of the season for super cheap. They were half dead, and I didn't expect much from them, but I managed to nurse them back to health and Look! A cute little baby cantaloupe! Maybe it'll be big enough to eat before the frost hits us...

Kale: I planted this about a week and a half ago, and it's really shot up since then. I've heard that kale actually tastes best after the first frost. So this is one of my fall plants that I'm really looking forward to.

Carrots!: I love carrots!  I actually planted about five rows and two different varieties, so I'll have plenty to spare and share with friends. ( 4 rows and 2 varieties of kale, too.) I'm excited for when these babies are ready to harvest!

Strawberries?: I planted 8 of these plants with the hopes to have some next year since I didn't get my garden plot until pretty much the end of the summer. But lookie here, I have another strawberry fruit. In October! I hope they do this well next summer.

Blueberries: I also bought 9 blueberry bushes and 1 raspberry bush to be harvested next summer. They're hanging in there. The leaves have been changing colors due to the fall weather, but I've been told that as long as there are green branches, I will have lots of blueberries next year!

If you have any ideas for any over winter plants that I can add to my garden, let me know in the comments.  I'm new to this gardening business, and I'm just figuring out how much work and fun it can be.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte!

I know a lot of bloggers and people in the vegan community are really bummed about the fact that they can't order a Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte from Starbucks (or Caribou Coffee, I checked) because they use condensed milk to flavor the drink. So what's a vegan (or poseur vegan, like me) supposed to do to enjoy a tasty fall beverage?

Never fear, trusty readers (all one of you), I have found a recipe to satisfy your pumpkin spice cravings! Check out this awesome recipe from Artichokes and Anecdotes: Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte!

Also, if you prefer chai (or black tea) to coffee, like I do, this recipe can be simply modified by using chai prepared with two tea bags so that it's extra strong. I prefer Tazo brand Organic Chai, but any chai will do: Rooibos Chai, Maharaja Chai, I'm craving a chai. Did you know that in Russian, chai is the word for tea? That is why you'll almost never see me write chai tea. It just sounds repetitive to me, but enough about me and my chai addition. Go forth and make delicious Pumpkin Spice Beverages!!!

Doesn't that look delicious and fall-inspired! I couldn't get the cinnamon stick to sit right. It kept sinking.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gluten Free Vegan Cookie Dough (and Bacon)

After a long day at work and an hour commute home on Friday evening instead of going straight home to veg out on the couch, I went to my community garden plot to continue my mulching project. I'm sick and tired of all the damn weeds in my garden, so I've decided that I need to mulch strategically (and also plant more plants) so that there are less weeds to pull in the first place.

So after weeding vigorously and unloading 3 totes full of mulch to form a lovely little path around the edge of my garden*, I decided to make a stop at my local Whole Foods store to pick up something quick and easy for dinner (Amy's No Cheese Vegan Pizza?). I also decided to get my groceries for the week. I mean, I might as well, it was Friday night and the store was easy to navigate since not many other people were there. I'm not going to go into too much detail on the groceries because I love food and could go on forever about the food choices and what I got. However, I picked up some fancy new vegan convenience products: Tofutti mint ice cream bars, (vegan) sandwich thins (Score!), Tempeh "Bacon", and a jar of Gluten Free Vegan Cookie Dough that was staring me down!

Gluten Free and Vegan? I was sold. I checked the ingredients and although there are quite a few, they're pretty basic. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the dough is made from a mix of chickpea and brown rice. I've heard that some people make vegan cookies with chickpeas, but I haven't had the chance (or felt the urge) to bake cookies since I started this challenge.

I ate it straight out of the jar, and I ate about 2 1/2 cookies before stopping myself. It's delicious (and slightly more nutritious)! I didn't get a chance to bake any because I had some more and my husband finished off the rest (about a dozen cookies worth!) on Sunday morning, but I bet the cookies would be amazing, too! One thing that I really like about this cookie dough is that it has less fat, less calories, and healthier ingredients than regular cookie dough! Score one for the vegans. Also, carnivores will like it too (evidenced by the fact that my husband finished off a dozen cookies all by himself)!

Next up: Tempeh Bacon!

Saturday morning, I tried out this tempeh bacon. After hearing about eggplant bacon and other vegan bacon varieties on some other blogs, I figured it was worth a try. So, I purchased some Litelife Tempeh Bacon while I was picking up some tofu. First off, I'm not the biggest fan of tempeh. I still prefer tofu and seitan to the texture and taste of tempeh, so that may have some bearing on my opinion of this product. It does have a nice smokey flavor, and like bacon, I dipped it in some maple syrup. (That's the way I've always liked to eat my bacon and sausage (veggie or otherwise in the past), with syrup. Yes, it's a little weird, but the sweet and salty combination is delicious!) Findings: It was okay. The flavor was smoky and right, but it didn't really have the same texture or crunch as bacon. I'd give it a C+ for effort, but if you're looking for a bacon substitute, this is not it.

However, if you've a vegan, you probably aren't looking to eat anything that even remotely resembles the look or taste of meat. I'm not sure why there are so many meat substitute products out there. Maybe for all the transitioning vegetarians or also just for convenience in social situations. I know that when I go to a cookout and bring my own veggie burgers, it's much less of a hassle for me and my hosts. As a vegetarian, I don't ever want anyone to feel like they have to do or make anything special, so I usually bring a dish to share whenever I go to any food-focused get-togethers.

As a vegan (in the past 30 days), I haven't been to any restaurants yet where there wasn't at least one or two vegan friendly options on the menu. Some of my friends who know I'm doing this 90-day vegan challenge have been looking out for me to make sure that when we go out places, they have vegan food. I appreciate this effort, but so far it hasn't been that necessary. It's been a happy surprise to discover that most places already serve something vegan, even if it's just a salad or a couple of appetizers or side dishes. I thought that it would be a lot harder to eat at restaurants and go out while on this challenge, but it really hasn't!

*I promise to post some pictures of my garden plot once I finish planting the rest of my blueberry and raspberry bushes. It's nothing much right now. (I got it a little late in the season to do too much with it, and I don't have as much extra time and energy to spend on it as I'd like.) However, as of this week, I have 7 strawberry plants, 2 rows of carrots, 2 cantaloupe plants, 9 blueberry bushes and 1 raspberry bush. I ordered some kale, salad mix, and more carrot seeds that are supposed to come in on Thursday, so I will have a little bit more going on soon.

I also have some mint that won't go away. I guess the last guy planted it and didn't realize what an invasive weed it is. I let a few of the mint plants continue to grow because they smell nice and I thought they might be good to keep around for tea (as long as I keep pulling them before they try to invade again).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Vegan MOFO (Month of Food)

September is officially Vegan MoFO! Now if you haven't heard of it, yet, Vegan MoFO = Vegan Month of Food. You can also learn more about it here: VeganMofo So technically I missed the deadline (August 28th), and I didn't "officially" sign up for it on time, but I'm still going to do it anyway because I'm a rebel! All my favorite vegan blogs have been doing it, and I'm going to post some links to some awesome, mouth-watering recipes that I've seen around the interwebs so far! I also plan on doing some more posts on my own personal recipes and the usual.

A few of my 2013 Vegan Month of Food favorites so far:

Fork and Beans: Homemade Vegan Honeycomb

Vegan Candy!!! Yums!

Post Punk Kitchen: Vegan Challah

Challah is one of my favorite breads. Unfortunately, due to the eggs and honey, my usual recipe is not quite vegan, but Isa Chandra has an awesome vegan recipe that I just can't wait to try out!

Vegan Richa: Chana Masala

I love me some Chana Masala, but I've never made it myself (except from one of those pre-prepared packages)!

Check back here for some original recipes by yours truly and more links to other delectable delicacies!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

So this recipe is adapted from Alicia Silverstone's recipe in The Kind Diet. It's a great book, and she has a lot of yummy healthy vegan recipes (including desserts!) Also, if you're interested in going vegan (or "flirting" as she calls it), she has a great website: The Kind Life.  So check it out!

Also, my recipe has a few noted differences.  She makes two different mixes: a peanut butter and a chocolate topping.  As you might be able to tell from the photo, I added them both together.  The first time I made them (following Alicia's receipe, the chocolate seemed to separate easily from the peanut butter cup when you ate them and broke into brittle little pieces.  I figured:  I like chocolate, so why don't I combine it throughout the peanut butter mixture.  Also, less pans = less mess!

Also, I realize that my muffin pans are kind of old and not the prettiest pans, but they get the job done!



-4 graham crackers (I didn't have any, so I used some wheat crackers instead, and they still turned out great!)
-1/2 cup Earth Balance butter (or other vegan buttery spread)
-3/4 unsweetened peanut butter (Alicia recommends crunchy, but I'm not a fan and already had two jars of creamy)
-1/4 maple sugar
- 1 1/3 cup of grain-sweetened, nondairy chocolate (or carob) chips
-1/4 cup of almond milk
-1/4 cup chopped almonds (peanuts or pecans are fine, too)

You'll also need a muffin pan or two.  The first time, I made them in a mini-muffin tin, which was the perfect size for sweet snacks!  I highly recommend using paper liners or some kind of non-stick spray.  I didn't use the liners on my first attempt, and I had to scoop them out with a spoon!  This meant they weren't very pretty when I brought them to work to share with some of my friends.

First, put your graham crackers (or regular crackers) a food processor or blender.  Grind them to crumbs.

In a saucepan, melt your vegan butter and peanut butter.  Stir it up and add your chocolate chips and almond milk.  Next, slowly stir in your cracker crumbs and maple sugar.  Once it's well mixed and melted, turn off the heat and add it to your muffin cups.  You can also top it with your chopped nuts (or food processed, powdered nuts, like mine).  I also think shredded coconut might be good, but I was worried it might be too many flavors, so I didn't add any.  If you try the coconut, leave a comment and let me know how it is!

With the nut topping: 
Or leave it plain: 

Now, you're almost done.  Stick your muffin tins in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours and enjoy!  Or if you're impatient, like me, you can put your tins in the freezer and you only have to wait about 20-30 minutes.

I should mention that I made a dozen of these on Saturday, and I only have 3 left!  (Despite the fact that my husband isn't a big dessert person and has not eaten any of them, yet.)  So, they're quite delicious! You have my word on that.


Stay tuned for more on Vegan MOFO!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tofu & 5 Color Pepper Fajitas

So, to expound upon my earlier fajita post, I'm going to describe my less-lazy fajita process. Also, I tried Agent Dana Scully's favorite veggie-friendly brand of creamy products: Tofutti!

X-Files Tofutti Quotes:

Mulder: Did you bring enough ice cream to share with the rest of the class?
Scully: It's not ice cream... it's non-fat tofutti rice dreamsicle.
Mulder: Ugh... I bet the air in my mouth tastes better than that.

Scully: I don't care. Mulder, this is a needle in a haystack. These poor souls have been dead for 50 years. Let them rest in peace. Let sleeping dogs lie.
Mulder: Well, I won't sit idly by as you hurl cliches at me. Preparation is the father of inspiration.
Scully: Necessity is the mother of invention.
Mulder: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Scully: Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.
Mulder: I scream, you scream, we all scream for non-fat tofutti rice dreamsicles.
"The X-Files: The Unnatural (#6.19)" (1999)

See! Also, Mulder, you are dead wrong, just like you were with quite a few of your alien theories...but we love you anyway!

Oh, yeah, yummy fajitas. So...feel free to add some variety (or to have less variety with the peppers if you can't find all the colors). Squash and sweet potatoes are also excellent for a fall fajita, but we're still feeling the dog days of summer down here in the not-so-deep South (Virginia). My opinion is that the more colors you add to your mix, the more healthful and pretty your fajita becomes. Seeing 5 different colors of bell peppers just makes me happy. My favorites in order of taste are: 1) red (sweet) 2) orange 3) yellow 4) green 5) purple. I have yet to see a blue bell pepper, but if I ever do, I'll have to change the name of this fajita!

My Ingredients:
Soft tortillas (I prefer whole wheat, but white flour is fine, too.)
Broccoli heads, about one stalk, washed, chopped, and ready
5 small or medium-sized peppers of your choice (I used red, orange, yellow, green and purple.)
1/4 medium yellow or purple onion (substitution: onion powder*)
1 diced clove of garlic (substitution: garlic powder*)
1/2 pack of organic extra firm tofu
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 splashes of water
Spices: (I don't measure. Feel free to use your own discretion.)
Chili powder
Crushed red pepper
*Onion powder (provided you didn't already use fresh onions)
*Garlic powder (provided you didn't already use fresh garlic)

Cook tofu until crispy and golden brown.  (A little longer than this picture below.)

Cook your veggies until they start getting a little browned on the edges.

Then, add your seasonings and mix well.

Add ingredients to your tortilla and Woila!

*I'm a lazy butt, so I didn't chop up any onion or garlic. I just used the powder, but I bet it would taste even better with fresher ingredients!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

[Insert Lame Excuse About Busy Life Here]

Yes, yes, I've been very bad about posting new things lately. I'm also one of those people who never brings their camera places and only remembers to take pictures when someone else starts taking pictures. (I even take all of my pictures using my camera phone. So, no, there is no good excuse!) Don't worry, I'm still going strong on the plant-based diet.

This past week, I think I was a little too focused on the exercise aspect of this new lifestyle. I did about 15+ miles on the elliptical, joined a Thurday night indoor soccer team, lifted weights twice, and went to my garden almost every night that it didn't rain. (It only rained once!)

I felt lame posting convenience foods, but then I realized that I'm interested in reading about them and eating them. Therefore, it probably makes sense for me to share the knowledge/ my personal opinion on these things.

RECIPE UPDATES: I did find time this weekend to make some more Chickpea Salad, which I like to eat in pita pockets. I'll have to share my recipe soon, but I refuse to share it without the possibility of delicious-looking photos.

I also made the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups from The Kind Diet book, which were delicious, but I think I'm going to tweak the recipe a little to cater to my particular palate before I share them. Also, there aren't any left to take pictures of them. I apologize, but you'll just have to make do with this grocery store impulse buy/experiment:

Chia Pod

What, my dear Watson, is a Chia Pod? Well, I found it near the yogurt section at Whole Foods. It only has four ingredients, so it seems legit. Also, it came in a recyclable container with a cute little spoon. And hippie types also seem to go crazy over Chia seeds, which are the main ingredient.

Consensus: The consistency is more in line with Jello than yogurt. I was never a big fan of gelatin, even during my omnivorous days. So in all truth, I personally wasn't a fan. If you like Jello and want something less sweet than soy or coconut milk yogurt and slightly more substantial, then I'd recommend it. My coworker ate it up. (I ended up giving it away to a yogurt-loving coworker because no one likes to waste food!) I didn't think it was bad, but I just didn't like the texture. Taste was good, but I probably would have added some type of sweetener* because, again, I was expecting yogurt.

More judgements on other veg products:

Amy's Roasted Vegetable No Cheese Pizza
was delightful, unlike another Vegan Pizza I tried (American Flatbread Vegan Harvest: virtually no sauce, no veggies and lots of cheeze, not the kind I like I guess). The sauce was a little sweet, which was a nice surprise and went very well with veggies (artichokes, mushrooms, red peppers, and possibly more than I'm missing). There wasn't any cheeze, and it tasted fine without.

I also sprinkled some cheeze on half the pizza, just to try it out. (See below.) I'm a freakin' mad scientist doing crazy vegan experiments! Also, my husband would be the first to quote me on this gem that I spouted out the other day, "Am I just crazy or is everyone else around me crazy?". Yes, I'm providing the damning evidence because I didn't realize how hilarious it was until he repeated it back to me. Apparently, those are the words of any crazy person or any character in a sci-fi utopian society movie who just started paying attention. I call dibs on the latter. Anyways...

Mozzarella Teese was pretty good. It doesn't have the same creaminess as cheese when it's cold, but it melts well and tastes very similar to mozzarella. I put some of it on my Amy's pizza. I used a fork while it was cold and added little bits and chunks of it like it was feta cheese. I still have some left, but I'm not sure what else I should make with it. Maybe a homemade pizza (dough and all) this weekend? Suggestions are welcome!

*Vegan sweeteners include, but not limited to: Sugar in the Raw, Maple Syrup, Brown Rice Syrup, Agave Nectar (light or dark). Also, Stevia and Monkfruit in the Raw, but I don't like the first and I've never tried the latter.

I put them in order of my personal preference. Sugar in the Raw is good in my almost daily self-made Chai Latte with Almond Milk. Maple Syrup is a good baking sweetener, but make sure to add more of a dry ingredient to balance it out if you're using it as a subsitute for sugar.