Tag Archives: nutrition

Hot pot!

When Brent and I are feeling particularly lazy but still want to eat something healthy, we make hot pot. This is an East Asian fun thing that can be enjoyed by small groups of friends or just your family. We use a simple electric wok that’s resistant to tipping over and fill it with our favorite kind of broth. It’s a great way to use just about any vegetables that are available in our refrigerator – broccoli, green beans, baby corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, tofu, tofu skins, mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, noodles (we use thin rice noodles and konjac noodles). Napa cabbage, spinach and Romaine lettuce are favorites.

After that, all you need is some fresh veg chopped into bite sized pieces and maybe some dipping sauces. Our broth recipe is as follows
1-2  liters of water

1-2 cubes of bouillon (we use “chicken” or mushroom)

1 tbsp of Szechuan peppercorns (we like spicy, what can I say)

2 star anise pods

15-20 goji berries

10-15 scallion onions, chopped into 2 inch pieces

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

a pinch of ground cumin

2-3 pods of allspice

1 coin size slice of ginger (optional)

juice from 1/2 lemon (optional)

1 tbsp chili or garlic flavored canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

I combine everything but the scallion onions in my pot and boil for 30 minutes or more until it’s fragrant and steamy. Then I add the spring onions and take the pot to our table. You put the veggies into the soup pot and wait for the liquid to return to a boil. Then we remove the vegetables without chopsticks, wait for them to cool or dip them in sauce or not (I like a home-made chili-lime-peanut sauce, Brent prefers a garlic chili sauce) and DEVOUR! Just be careful that the hot liquid doesn’t splash anyone and that the contents don’t spill onto anyone. It’s HOT (hence the name *hot* pot)! This might not be a dish for the faint of heart, but it is for the hungry, adventurous and lazy. Just put down a towel for all the drips and splashes.

As versatile as this particular dish is, there’s something for everyone. Just don’t get hurt when you realize someone ate your mushroom.

This is Christie, signing off!

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GAZPACHO!

Sounds funny, tastes delicious… This is a simple cold summer soup that is loaded with good nutrients and packed with flavor. It should be a staple in your diet whether you’re vegan or not. Ours is made from the following ingredients:
2 bell peppers, stems and seeds removed (I like 2 different colors, in this case yellow and red)
1/2 cup of cilantro stems
2 cucumbers
juice from 1 lemon
5 tomatoes, stems removed
1 jalapeño (optional for the brave)
6-8 scallion onions, chopped just as the bulb turns green, stems diced
4-5 strawberries (optional)
hot sauce and salt to taste

Brent cut up the vegetables into sizes that fit easily in our food processor. The skins can be left on the cucumber for a richer flavor if they’re organic, otherwise I remove most of it if not all.


The tomato, cucumber, peppers, strawberries, lemon juice, scallion bulbs and cilantro stems all went into the processor and was blended until smooth. Afterward I added salt and hot sauce to taste, garnished with scallion onion (you can use cilantro too, if you like). and served with grilled cashew cheese sammiches. It hit the spot after a day in the muggy Florida heat. Let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Vegan on a Budget

Brent and I have been entertaining the idea of trying a food stamp challenge: that is living on what the average Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP recipient does. This is partly because rising food costs affect us all and are particularly hard on the most vulnerable among us. We’re also interested in demonstrating that being vegan on a budget isn’t impossible or torturous.

The average food stamp recipient gets just $31.50 per week. I realize how much money that is when I think about my favorite oatmeal costing just a few dollars for a supply that will last several weeks. Add the raisins and agave nectar (that will last a little longer than the oats) and you’ve got a nutritious tasty breakfast for a week, for example. I also realize how little money it is when I think about how much Brent and I can spend at a Starbucks.

We’re planning to present you with receipts and nutritional profiles for our meals. I suspect that meeting nutritional requirements will be the most challenging part but I’m prepared for some creative solutions to these problems. We’ll be following B12 and the intake of zinc most closely (since vegans can have trouble getting these nutrients) but iron, calcium and protein will be among the nutrients we follow (for those skeptical carnists among us). Vitamins C, A and D are easy to get if you eat vegetables and leave your house once a day for a few minutes so we’re not too concerned about those but we’ll be watching them anyways.

We’re curious about what you’d like to see as we undertake this challenge. What should our rules reasonably include? Are fruit from local trees and condiments from take-out fair game as ‘free food’ or should we stick to our budgeted foods? Would supplements be cheating if we can budget them? We want to hear from you because you’re the ones we do all this stuff for.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Stock!

This post is about making stock for soup, mashed potatoes, French Onion soup, gravy, risotto or whatever you would normally use soup stock for and it’s crazy simple. Even if you like to compost (or have bunnies to ‘process’ your leftover veggies) this is a great way to get more out of your veggies before you throw them in your bin. Get yourself a big old freezer safe storage container. Every time you peel the skins off onions or garlic, cut the ends of carrots or celery, stems from parsley and other herbs, stumps from mushrooms or broccoli… really anything. I add lemon peel from time to time for certain recipes like pho and orange peel for zesty soy curls. Dump it into the container (I like to use a freezer bag) and store in your freezer.

When your container is full of veggie scraps, dump the contents into a pan, cover with water and simmer for at least 2 hours. Strain the liquid into a container and freeze for whenever. Now the veggies are extra mushy for composting or your sink disposal.

The stock will have no added fat or sodium and full of flavor. I like to store the stock in zippered freezer baggies too. If the bag is full enough for about 1/2 inch thickness when lying on its side, then you’ll be able to thaw it quickly.

This is Christie, signing off.

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Pasta a la Fauxlognese

As a kid, spaghetti bolognese was a favorite. It’s a rich meaty sauce wth lots of tomato and onion served with whatever pasta you tend to fancy. In this case, we’re using shirataki noodles and no meat. Shirataki noodles are great for those who are concerned about gluten and calories. If you use regular noodles, your fauxlognese will be more attractive than ours but just as tasty. You’ll want the following

1 onion, diced

3.4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

1 16oz tin of diced tomato

1 cup of TVP (reconstituted with water) or soy crumbles (Marion tofu crumbles work well here), chopped mushrooms can be substituted for those sensitive to soy

1 cube of “beef bouillon”

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and flake red pepper to taste

olive oil

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Add a dash of olive oil and the onion and garlic to your pan and saute until the onion starts to carmelize, stirring occasionally. Add the tofu crumbles or TVP and the dry spices.

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When everything is hot and fragrant, add the tomato. Mix it all up, stirring occasionally until hot and adjust the seasonings to your taste.

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Your sauce should look deceptively meaty. Top with some vegan parmesan, shredded basil or Daiya or just serve as is.

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This is a very kid friendly preparation of vegan fare, tasty and healthy to boot. I hope you get to try it!

This is Christie, signing off!

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The Cheese Post 5.0

We’ve got a lot of experience with vegan cheeses here at Turning Veganese. This is because I compulsively buy vegan cheese. What can I say; I’m vegan and I’m a hedonist.

As far as vegan cheeses go, some are good. Some are awesome. Some are not. Here’s a quick list of all our previous posts on cheeses we’ve tried.
The Cheese Post 1.1 covers some commonly available vegan cheeses.
The Cheese Post 2.0 includes the cream cheese challenge.
The Cheese Post 3.0 reviews some cheeses that are worth seeking out and some that aren’t.
The Cheese Post 4.0 looks at some sour cream and queso alternatives as well as ricotta and mozzarella substitutes.

So why all this emphasis on vegan cheese? It’s one of the hardest things to kick when you go vegan and probably the best source of saturated fat, cholesterol and bovine (goat or sheep) sex hormones that comes to my mind. I can’t have vegetables sauteed in butter without breaking out in acne. It makes me crazy… except that options are out there. We’re talking about some more options today so get your cheese loving muscles ready.

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at 9.56.13 AM Nutty Cow cheeses come in 3 flavors; garlic herb, maple walnut and ricotta. Before I was vegan I was not a big fan of ricotta and even now “maple walnut” and “cheese” together kind of weirded me out conceptually but the ingredients were unobjectionable (unless you’ve got a nut or soy allergy) and the price was right (free with our regular order from Vegan Essentials) Normally they cost $5.62 for 10 ounces. That’s a big container, for the record and a great price for a vegan cheese. Unfortunately it has a very short shelf life but it does freeze and thaw relatively well (I don’t think this is recommended). The maple pecan was very sweet. It wasn’t what I expected but it’s maple so when I moved on to the garlic herb and ricotta I was surprised to find it was also very sweet. The sweetener in this case is maple sugar which is a personal favorite, just that there was a little too much. It did make a great addition to sauces which was what happened to most of it. It was also somewhat grainy in texture which isn’t a problem for a spread but is a problem for sauces. I’m hoping they reformulate because they’re doing everything else right.

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Parmela is a nut based parmesan that I have to revisit. The first time I reviewed this product, I loved everything about this product except the price EXCEPT that they changed their packaging and reduced the price to about $1.75 per ounce. If you come across it in your search for good vegan cheeses, give this a try. It’s great on pizza, pasta or whatever you’d normally dust with parmesan cheese. There are definitely better values out there but Eat in the Raw parmesan might not convince ardent carnists.

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Pure Market Express has a line of nut cheeses that I got off Vegan Cuts and they were worth E-V-E-R-Y penny. Cheddar, tomato basil, gouda, creamy herb and jalapeño cilantro were all exactly what you’d expect: creamy, cheesy and lightly flavored to mimic (but not ersatz) their intended subject. The texture is prefect for spreading on crackers or toast though the tomato basil was full of welcome pieces of tomato. The ingredients are great (raw, whole foods) and it comes in a  recyclable package. Another bonus is that this product is meant to be stored frozen. I like frozen foods because I don’t feel pressured to eat them before they spoil. On their website you can buy these cheeses at $8 for 8 ounces which is a great value as far as I’m concerned. Ours arrived melted, we refroze it and it thawed creamy and delicious. I recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have a cashew allergy, vegan or not. It was awesome on a teff wrap with spinach, smoky maple tempeh, a touch of mustard and royal gala apple slices.

I’m sad to report that this is all we’ve got for you today. We’re still big on Punk Rawk Labs cheeses for cheese and crackers-type applications, Daiya of all shapes, sizes and flavors for casual cheesiness, Nacho Mom’s Voodoo queso for late night snacking, and a few others including Parmela for our pasta and pizza needs (I got some for cheap on Vegan Cuts; when it runs out I might go back to Eat in the Raw). Pure Market Express might very well replace Punk Rawk Labs (which replaced Dr. Cow’s) given the price and variety of flavors. That about wraps it up.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Adventures in Fruit: Pomegranate!

This seasonal fruit is a personal favorite. As a kid I always imagined I was eating little rubies. I’ve heard a lot of ways to open these up, including submerging the fruit in water and picking the floaty peel off the top but personally I find a paper towel and a bowl are all I need. It’s a meditative act. That’s how I roll.

The Pom Wonderful juice you’ll see at the supermarket doesn’t do this fruit justice. That stuff tastes more like cranberry and pomegranate and part of that is because it doesn’t include the seeds. The seeds make these little gems a great source of fiber and minerals and soften the tartness of the fruit.

They are a great addition to salads, raw cheesecakes, visual interest in a glass of sparking water or wine, or whatever you can dream up; I prefer them all by themselves. I hope you get to try them.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Snips and Snails and Sentience

It happens pretty often when I tell people I’m vegan that people dream up a scenario where I’d have to eat meat. “Would you eat meat if you were stranded in an Arctic wasteland?”


Yes, actually, I would. I would eat Brent if it meant one of us would survive (sorry, Brent). But that’s not what’s happening here. Being vegan is a choice that I make every day, every time I walk into a supermarket, a restaurant or a cafeteria.
I make that choice because it’s better for my body, it’s better for the planet and last but not least it’s better for the animals. Fortunately for those of us who find that thinking and learning feel good, life is full of grey areas.

There are things I don’t eat but not because of my primary reasons for being vegan. Things like honey. I don’t think that bees suffer when we steal their hard earned honey. I doubt their sentience… or at least that they can suffer the way a fish does when it suffocates or a cow does spending her life chained to he wall of a concrete barn as we steal her babies and milk. I simply prefer maple syrup. I’m from the Northeast, what can I say.

I don’t eat shrimp, I also doubt their sentience. I don’t eat them because shrimping destroys seahorse habitat and as a long time SCUBA diver I can assure you that seahorses rock. I guess that fits into my ‘environment’ category. Oh well…

I also don’t eat mussels or escargot but I can’t really justify it in the regard that I don’t think that they are sentient, I don’t believe harvesting them destroys the environment and I don’t think they’re bad for my body (though all molluscs contains cholesterol, so it might fit into my personal health category)

So you might be wondering why I’m going on about things that aren’t vegan that I don’t eat for random reasons. There are 2 things I wanted to throw out there to get an idea of how other vegans respond to these issues. Lab grown meat is a phenomenon that would produce cruelty-free meat. Would you eat it if it were commercially available? I know a lot of vegans who would love to eat bacon from time to time. How does this compare? Would the resources be better spent elsewhere?


The other question is something that comes up when I talk to people who are crazy about the paleo diet. Why does the paleo diet ignore insects, worms and other bugs? Eating bugs is a major component of many diets by domesticated and wild humans alike… except in Westernized cultures. Our closest living relatives (evolutionarily speaking) also eat a diet consisting largely of bugs and foraged fruits and vegetables. I’m talking about chimpanzees. They’re kind of amazing… like seahorses. As a vegan, would you eat bugs? Chocolate covered ants? Fried grasshoppers? Are they as capable of suffering as mice? They’re environmentally friendly and inexpensive to grow relative to meat. They can even be grown on lawn clippings, rotting wood and other things humans often consider to be waste. They’re also nutritious. Personally, I doubt their sentience but that remains up for debate. Thoughts? Recommended reading?

This is Christie, signing off.

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Lighter Green Thai Curry

Brent and I eat too much delicious food apparently and are trying to figure out more ways to enjoy our favorite foods without packing on the pounds. I decided to make some Thai green curry.

To start, Brent chopped this mountain of vegetables. We put just about everything that we had into this bad boy including

1 head of broccoli, cut into florets

1 lb. of green beans

2 portabella caps, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

5 scallions, chopped

4 Thai peppers, sliced

a small knob of ginger

1 tin of bamboo shoots, drained

1 13.5 oz. can of light coconut milk

1.5 cups of almond, soy or coconut milk

1 handful of Thai basil (optional)

1 tbsp green curry paste

juice and zest from a lime (save half for wedges to garnish the dish)

1 drop of lemongrass extract or 1 stalk of lemongrass, pounded to release fragrance

olive oil

1 tsp coconut or turbinado sugar (more if you like it sweet)

salt to taste

Check curry pastes carefully. Many contain shrimp paste which is bad for anyone with an allergy and not suitable for vegans. I started by putting the Thai peppers, lemongrass or extract (remove the lemongrass before serving), onion and ginger into the pan with some olive oil.

I sauteed them until the onion started to brown. Then I added the coconut milk, lime zest, sugar and curry paste. I didn’t get as much zestyness as I wanted from the lime so I added some additional lemon zest (2 pinches) when I was adjusting the sweetness and seasonings.

Then we added the broccoli, green beans, and mushrooms and allowed them to steam lightly for 3-4 minutes while mixing them into the sauce. If you’re interested in adding some protein, a 2.5 cups of chickpeas or some pressed cubed tofu would make an excellent addition. I added the scallions, bamboo shoots and bell pepper about 5 minutes later. I squeezed the lime over it and mixed in the Thai basil. and stirred it until I could smell the basil.

We served it over quinoa with white wine. German style white wines compliment this kind of dish well, particularly riesling or gewurztraminer. It was definitely a spicy green curry but much lighter than I’m used to. I mostly tasted vegetables and peppery coconut which isn’t a bad thing. I’d love to hear how you lighten up your favorite dshes.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Lighter Thai Yellow Curry

Brent and I are still trying to find lighter versions of our favorites and yellow curry is on that list. We recently became acquainted with PB2 thanks to co-author Melissa and have found it to be everything it’s advertised to be: a low-fat full-flavor version of the comfort food I know and love. This made this dish possible along with 2 bags of generic frozen vegetables. As a biochemist I’ve learned that the best ways to preserve labile (that’s how biochemists say ‘unstable’) compounds is by storing them frozen or dried and preferably both. Dried and frozen veggies, nuts and fruits are something I often choose over canned or ‘fresh’ (i.e. not from our farmers’ market). While tinned and fresh produce is often useful and tasty, you never know how long it’s been sitting on a shelf or in the back of a refrigerated truck while the nutrients have been breaking down due to natural processes that can be slowed or stopped by freezing or drying. There is still a lot we don’t know about how our bodies work and scientists discover new compounds that are important to health and nutrition more often than you might think. Variety and well preserved or fresh foods are the best ways to make the most of compounds we don’t know about just yet, as far as I’m concerned.  I digress… lets talk curry. We used the following

1 lb. bag of generic frozen seasoning mix (pepper, onion, celery)

1 lb. bag of generic frozen mixed vegetables (zucchini. carrot, lima beans, cauliflower)

1 13.5 ounce tin of chickpeas, drained OR 1 cup of dried garbanzos, soaked overnight and parboiled

2 generous pinches of cumin seeds

2 tbsp minced ginger

3 Thai chilis, sliced

1 pinch of cayenne (optional)

1 pinch of cinnamon

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp PB2 dissolved in 1/2 cup water

1 tsp coconut or turbinado sugar (more if you like sweeter curry)

salt to taste

We combined the cumin seeds with minced ginger in a deep skillet with the olive oil. We stirred it over medium high heat until it was fragrant. We started the rice at this point because we used brown rice with took about 45 minutes. The curry was ready about 15 minutes before the rice.

To this we added the seasoning mix of vegetables, peppers, cinnamon, PB2 in water and chickpeas. I stirred it until the vegetables were thawed and heated thoroughly.

Then we added the rest of the veggies and sugar and stirred until the vegetables were hot and tender.

This was a lighter curry and tasted divine. Thanks to PB2 we had something light and nutritious and good enough to share though I’ll probably make some tweaks in the future. Let me know if you get to try this and what you’d do to improve on it.

This is Christie, signing off!

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