Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving compromise

I've accepted that my close friends, family, and husband can enjoy vegan food but will never be vegan. To some, this may seem impossible. To others, you totally understand where I'm coming from. I'm not pushy and I'm patient. When asked, I explain why I'm vegan; I never tell my story without being asked.

Over the years, my family and I have had growing pains about my veganism. However, I'd say it is at its best right now!

This Thanksgiving I will be celebrating with my mom, sister, a co-worker from India, and an aunt and uncle (one pair out of four). We finally discussed what will be served, and I'm proud to present that more than 75% of it is vegan, some from Appetite For Reduction and some from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blog, which I love dearly. Here's the list:

Chickpea Cutlets
Caulipots (mashed potatoes and cauliflower, AfR)
Chickpea Gravy (AfR)
Green Bean Casserole (FFVK)
Coconut Butternut Squash (AfR)
Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake (FFVK)
Dressing aka Stuffing (veganizing my grandmother's recipe)
Pecan Pie (Oey, we're going to try to veganize my mom's recipe this year)
A "relish tray" - this is what my mom calls a veggie tray with dip (We'll be making the dip with Tofutti's sour cream!)
Dinner rolls that are accidentally vegan
A couple of turkey breasts (I feel defeated, but it is not a whole turkey!)
My aunt is going to a side dish, but I'm not sure what it is

I talked my mom out of creamed corn (my least favorite vegetable), Jell-o, Jell-o with fruit in it salad, a regular salad (come on! it is Thanksgiving! I eat salads almost everyday), and candied yams.

Overall, this is a success this year for me. Compared to the first Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, this is amazing. At the first one, I could only eat the pie and side dish I brought.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? If you have omni friends or family that you're celebrating with, how are you compromising with them (or do you not compromise)?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Product review: Gardien Seven Grain Crispy Tenders

I've tried a few different kinds of Gardien, but these are the one I like the best: Seven Grain Crispy Tenders. I use the traditional method of the conventional oven, so they do take a bit longer to make. My thoughts: yeah, they're good. I can eat the whole bag in one sitting. However, I can't eat them without some kind of bar-b-que sauce (more calories).
When I eat the whole bag, it is a guilty pleasure that comes back to bite me in the butt. literary. One bag is what? 5 servings? omg. Okay, so about 450 calories. When I pair them with baked tater tots or tater triangles, then eat the whole bag with bbq sauce, that's about a 1000 calories. A girl needs to know her limits, and I don't. And can't resist.
My rating:
Taste (with bbq sauce): 9/10
Taste (without bbq sauce): 2/10
Nutritional profile: 8/10 (they are decent for you)
Texture: 7/10
Convenience: 10/10
Works well with weight-loss diet: 0/10 (no restraint, remember?)
Overall: 5/10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 14: Cookbook Challenge

Two posts, one day? Yes, I was inspired to cook again! I love the ideas that spew from Vegan MoFo. I'm taking on a challenge, initialized by I too have a lot of cookbooks that I've barely touched. To make me feel like I use all of my cookbooks, the rest of MoFo, I'll be doing this challenge (optimally it will be every other day, but I'm shooting for everyday)!

A piece of paper for every cookbook that I want to use more goes into hat. I draw a piece of paper, then use to generate 2 numbers (sorry, I just can't do three like Jojo!) I make the recipes on the corresponding pages, and post 'em. Also, I'm just going to use one cookbook instead of a couple. Since I plan on doing this for the remaining half of MoFo, I don't feel too bad about only using one cookbook at a time.

Here we go! Today's cookbook is The Kind Diet (don't judge me, I really like Alicia Silverstone!) and the random numbers generated were 151 and 208. Tonight's menu consists of Hot Rice with Cold Lemon, Basil, and Tomato along with Egg Salad Sandwiches.

The hot rice dish is a nice side dish. I definitely was tempted to open a can of beans to go with it! It is a simple dish to make, especially with my rice cooker. The ingredients are easy to obtain, which is a plus in my book. The recipe is easy to remember too! It reminds me of risotto that I make in my rice cooker, except I like my risotto better. In a pinch, it is a really quick and easy way to spice up rice. Since I eat rice a lot, this actually might make it back in the rotation.

The second recipe is Egg Salad Sandwiches made with tofu (not eggs). I halved the recipe, but there's enough tofu mixture to make at least 4 sandwiches, so I don't understand how many sandwiches equals a serving. After adding the ingredients and tasted it, I ended up doubling the spices; it was really bland. I also ended up adding some garlic powder, and then I liked the mixture.

Random side note: due to its name in health food stores (apparently), Alicia calls soy sauce by its other name: shoyu. This is really annoying to me. I've never seen soy sauce called shoyu.

The best part of this challenge: the leftovers. I've been trying to reduce the number of containers I take to work. Here, I've packed the rice and tofu-salad sandwich into one container - Bento Box Style!

I'm glad that I did this challenge. I don't think I would have made this dishes due to the "shoyu" - it just sounded complicated! I really enjoy how easy it was to put these two recipes together. However, I don't think I'll be turning to The Kind Diet anytime soon (unless chosen out of the hat!)

My favorite sandwich

I'm a simple person. I guess you already figured that out; my favorite weeknight dinner is beans and rice. Really? Yeah, I know.

Here's my simple sandwich cure for the weekdays: an avocado sandwich. Dress it up simple with some vegenaise. Or make it fancy: puree the avocados into a spread (while you're at it, add some vegenaise to that avocado to skip the step of adding it later. Or better yet, use a magic bullet and add onion, garlic, and lime!).

Additional toppings for me vary, based on what's in available in my fridge. If I have nothing but vegenaise, bread, and an avocado, then I'm not opposed to eating just that (pictured left). However, my favorite version of the avocado sandwich includes the blended avocado (with onion, garlic, and lime mixed in), alfalfa sprouts, tomato, red onion, and romaine lettuce.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vegan MoFo 2010 Survey

I'm still pretty new to VeganMoFo, even though I wandered aimless around in blogs last year without posting. Anyways, there are usually surveys floating around; I saw this on (Mandee) Cupcake Kitteh's site, and thought I should participate in this too!

What is one food you thought you'd miss when you went vegan, but don't?

What is a food or dish that you wouldn't touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Brussel Sprouts! However, I should be honest: I've only found two recipes that I love, both found in Appetite for Reduction.

What vegan food or dish do you feel like you should like but you don't?
Rice milk (or any rice milk products). It just feels too grainy to me and reminds me of skim milk.

What beverage do you consume the most of each day?

What dish are you famous for bringing to gatherings?
For my work outings, it is either double layered pumpkin cheesecake or quinoa salad both from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen Blog (if you haven't checked it out, you should do so!) For other gatherings, cookies!

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
Whenever possible, use the cast iron skillet!

What's one food or dish that you eat too much off when it's in your home?
Chips and salsa

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available repackaged?
Guacamole. I now have my family eating guacamole, so I can't really complain!

What ingredient or food is worth spending extra money on to get the good stuff?
Berries, broccoli, and oranges

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favourite snacks?
Snacking is my nemesis! If it is in the house, always chips and salsa. However, I eat a lot of hummus and crackers, yogurt and berries (raspberries or blueberries preferably), or peanut butter and celery.

What are your favourite vegan pizza toppings?
Basil, mushrooms, tomatoes, veggie pepperoni, green peppers, onions, garlic, and black olives. And if we have any fresh pineapple, that gets tossed on as well!

What's your favourite fruit and vegetable?
Broccoli has always been my favorite vegetable since I was a kid. My favorite fruit, boring as it sounds, is the orange.

What is the best salad dressing?
Cashew-based Caesar salad dressing. Oh. I might need to go make some and eat a salad.

What is your favourite thing to put on toasted bread?
Earth Balance Butter. However, lately I've been making tofu breakfast sandwiches with fried tofu, tomatoes, sprouts, and vegenaise, and that's pretty fantastic!

What kind of soup do you turn to on a chilly day or when you don't feel well?
Potato soup on a chilly day. Amy's No-chicken soup when I don't feel well (because I can open a can of soup but I won't want to make something from scratch!)

What is your favourite cupcake and icing flavour?
Tough question. I love the Tiramisu cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. However, I really like the Carrot Cupcakes from that book too! But my friend Erin makes these killer chocolate mousse cupcakes - I'm going to need to ask her for the recipe!

What is your favourite type of cookie?
Mexican snickerdoodle from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. My childhood favorite was No-Bake Cookies that my grandmother made all the time. I need to get a hold of that recipe to veganize it as well!

What is your most-loved weeknight meal?
I love cannellini beans with basmati rice and steamed veggies (preferred veggie is broccoli). It is super fast and simple to make!

What is one food or dish you enjoy but can't get anyone else in your house to eat?
My husband claims to hate tofu. We're opposites, you see.

How long on average do you spend in the kitchen each day?
1-3 hours, depending on the day.

As Mandee suggests, if you haven't done a survey yet, there's no time like the present! You should try one out too!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I like your bundt.

Many of you follow theppk on facebook, so this is old news for you. For those of you who haven't tasted this fabulous bundt cake, I command you to add theppk on facebook and make the Triple Apple Cider Bundt Cake.

Obviously, Isa's pictures are way better than my cell phone picture of the cake straight out of the oven (no frosting on it, as you can see in the photo. Here it is, sorta a proof of baking thing.

I made this cake for a co-worker's birthday. It was gone in about four hours. It goes well with coffee, tea, or a glass of soymilk (or whatever milk you prefer, I'm sure). My boss and co-workers give this cake 5 stars! And coming from all omnis, that's really awesome.

I ended up making 2 cups of the apple filling (...accidentally? I love apple pie, so probably not an accident). I ended up plopping some of that deliciousness onto toast - amazing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Eating with mi madre.

I don't know how difficult transitioning your family into your veganism has been for you. For me, it was terrible. For the first year, my sister would invite me over for a "special" dinner then try to get me to eat meatballs. She has come a long way (she'll talk about her sister being vegan to anyone), but she won't eat anything with chickpeas or seitan in it.

My mom, being allergic to poultry, was a bit better. Plus, she's watched me get sick after eating food throughout my life. I will spare you the details of the sickness, but note that I'm like a perfect radar for knowing if something really has dairy in it or not.

Let's reverse to about 5 years ago: I was trying to save money and figure out what I was going to do with my life. Living with my mom for the last year of college went like this: you [mom] can't eat poultry and hate seafood, I can't eat red meat or dairy. What shall we eat? Insert: Vegan with a Vengeance and a some of the vegetarian recipes from my mom's random cookbook collection.

We came up with "standby" meals. These were easy to put together and are comfort foods for me. This includes: frozen vegetable mixes (California veggie mix is my favorite), several kinds of beans, several kinds of rice or quinoa, and potatoes. When in doubt, my mother also will make me a baked potato!

Flash forward to this weekend! I dropped by my mom's house to say hi, and we enjoyed my standby meal together. Rice, cannellini beans, and steamed california mixed veggies.

Besides potatoes, I can always count on her having ginger ale and earth balance sticks as well!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Product review: Dr. McDougall's Ramen Bowl

When I work on the weekends, the last thing I want to do is make lunch and dinner to eat at work. At my local Hy-Vee (grocery store), I recently found Dr. McDougall's right food big cups. Today's review is for the Ramen variety.

Q: How easy is this to make?
A: Very easy! It takes about 2 minutes in the microwave after adding the spice packet (included) and water.

Q: What would you compare this to?
A: don't really need to know what I ate in college. But since you're curious, (pre-veg) I used to eat the chicken flavored ramen with a quarter bag of frozen "peas and carrots" dumped into it. (no, Jen-nay Forrest Gump references, please!). But this is exactly what it tastes like to me: freshman year of college. I just need to not gain that fifteen pounds again!

Q: How's the sodium level on that?
A: Not too shabby! This is a big cup of ramen - definitely 2 servings, as suggested on the cup. However, for one serving, there is only 320mg of sodium. For a ramen-replicate and for being completely processed food, I'd say that's not bad.

Q: Did it fill you up?
A: Honestly? YES! I didn't realize that the cup was 2 servings, so about 3/4 of the way through the bowl, I pushed it aside because I was super full. Then, I realized that I'm an idiot and didn't read the nutritional facts.

Q: Would you buy this again?
A: Yes. And I plan to in the near future. This is great for my desk drawer at work - I'll keep a couple in there for emergency needs or "I forgot to grab my lunch off the kitchen table" kinds of days.

P.S. If your local store doesn't stock this, you can purchase the ramen bowl (and other soup bowls) on Dr. McDougall's website.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sharing the love of tofu with non-vegans!

I'm not too outspoken, in fact I think I might have the quietest voice in Omaha. I'm also not the vegan police. However, this doesn't stop me from sharing my love of delicious [vegan] food with others! Especially when I get to share it with someone who isn't vegan and has never tried tofu. In this case, I've told my friend Erin I would cook for her anytime.

One of my favorite recipes comes from Vegan Brunch. No, I've never tried the omelets. I'm still stuck on the Tofu Bennys! I love hashbrowns and home fries, so I haven't tried making the english muffins.

For breakfast, a Tofu Benny on its own will fill me up. For dinner, I wanted more. I'm greedy. I had my friend pick out another recipe from Vegan Brunch. Miraculously, I had everything to make the Pumpkin French Toast.

To this wonderful pair, I made us soy lattes. Every morning, I made 4 cups of coffee (this is only two servings for me). I enjoy one serving hot with Silk soy creamer and store the other serving in a quart-sized mason jar in the fridge. When I need a pick-me-up or to impress someone, I make a cold soy latte using one of those protein shake containers. I use a 3:1 ratio of coffee to creamer, add the lid, and shake, shake, shake. This mixes and adds froth!
Verdict: Amazing! We have another tofu-lover in the world!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Aloo Gobi: North Indian style

One of my co-workers Parul is from North India - actually, about a quarter of the Indians in my department are from North India. The rest of mostly from South India.

Tonight's feature: Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potato dish)

I'm told that aloo gobi is the first thing that girls are taught to cook. This recipe is simple and hearty and will satisfy your cravings for Indian, even if you've never cooked Indian food before. It also happens to be my favorite meal ever [currently], so I begged Parul to show me how to make it.

This recipe calls for cumin seeds. Yes, the seeds. No, not the powder. You can go to Whole Foods and pay $5 for a small bag of cumin seeds that may be split. Or you could go to your local Indian shop and grab a giant bag of cumin seeds for about $4. Either way, just don't use the powder in this recipe!

Aloo Gobi - serves 4 (or 3 really hungry people)
2 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
2 tsp red chili powder (or more if you like it spicy)
1 Tbsp turmeric
1 Tbsp coriander powder (powder, not seeds)
1 small white or yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2" cube of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 head of cauliflower, florets pulled* apart into 1" pieces
4 small potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces (I used new potatoes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (more if you like the vegetables crispier)
1/2 cup water

Heat 1/3 cup of the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok on medium-high temperature. When the oil is hot, turn down the setting to medium and add cumin seeds for about a minute. Add the turmeric and coriander powder and let cook for about another minute. Add the garlic and ginger and stir to avoid burning the garlic. When the fragrance is taking you back to India (about 3 minutes), add the onion. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and cook until the onion is browned. Add the rest of the oil and the cauliflower; cook for about another minute. Now add the potatoes, turmeric, and water. Place a lid over the skillet (or wok) and cook for about twenty minutes.

If you have a nice recipe for roti or a nice Indian friend who happened to bring over the dough for roti, now would be the perfect time to make about 4-6 roti. This would also go well with basmati rice or tortillas.

Stir every 10 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Serve with roti or rice.

*Parul's mother taught her to pull/break off the florets instead of cutting them. According to her mother, it helps with the flavor and texture. Because Parul and her mother do it this way, I will continue this tradition.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I love sushi. I would eat it everyday if I wasn't so lazy! Most favorite sushi rolls are avocado cucumber rolls. And when I have tempeh and carrots, those get tossed into my sushi too. Why not! What can I say? Carrot-cucumber-avocado-tempeh rolls! So, I'm kinda boring. and pretty lazy. Speaking of lazy, have you checked out the laziest vegans in the world blog? Yeah, you should do that!

Being a poor grad student that is also lazy, I can't afford to go out for sushi too much, but I do enjoy a properly rolled sushi roll. Here's my quick-and-dirty way of how to make sushi rolls, Nebraskan style:

1. Get a rice cooker. Seriously, it will make life easier. Plus, you are probably super efficient, right? You want to chop and not have to babysit the boiling water on the stove! In the rice cooker, for quinoa and most rice, I do a 2:1 ratio of water to rice. 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice. Sushi rice is no different. Get that rice cooking! It is the rate-limiting-step!

2. Cut all ingredients that are going into your rolls into thin strips. For me, it is usually sauteed tempeh, carrots, cauliflower, and avocados.

3. Make a thick creamy sauce for the inside the rolls. I use a couple of spoonfuls of vegenaise and a small spoonful of thai chili sauce. If you like some spice to your sushi, go ahead and add your favorite hot sauce. I have a farmer's palate, so I keep things boring, unspicy, and uncomplicated.

4. Once that rice is done cooking, add a couple of splashes of white rice vinegar and a pinch or two of sugar and mix that all up.

5. Set up your assembly line: a bowl of water for your fingers, bowl of rice, sheets of nori, your thinly sliced fillings, and that amazing creamy sauce. Also grab a really sharp knife.

6. With dry hands, lay your nori sheet on a dry cutting board or plate. Dip your fingers into the bowl of water, then grab a handful of rice. Fill 2/3 to 3/4 of the nori sheet with a thin layer of rice.

7. In the middle of that rice, add the creamy sauce and filings.

8. Begin rolling up the sheet as tightly as possible, starting on the side of the nori sheet full of rice.

9. When you get to end of the paper, re-dip your finger into the bowl of water and dampen the edge of the nori sheet. This is going to help "glue" the nori together.

10. Place the seam facing down on the cutting board.

11. Dampen your really sharp knife with the water.

12. Cut your rolled up nori filled with goodness in half. Then cut those halves in half. Then cut those in half. You should get 8 sushi rolls out of the sheet of nori (or maybe I just like my sushi to be thin!)

13. Serve with a small bowl of soy sauce. Enjoy!