Tag Archives: vegan

Mushroom Spinach Risotto

I admit I’ve been delinquent in my duties as a blogger. We had to move (our former land lady disagreed with us on an appropriate time frame for air conditioner repair in Florida in the summer). I can’t find my camera, but that’s no excuse. I’ve got a phone. Brent is pretty awesome and cooks for both of us when I’m too exhausted from work or moving or all the bologna that goes with all of that, so I wanted to treat him for being so proactive in the kitchen with some comfort food.

I started by making some creamy cashew cheese.

3/4 cup of dry cashews soaked overnight in water (hemp hearts can be a suitable substitute if you’ve got a nut allergy)

juice from 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp herbes de provence

1 pinch salt

I blended this up until it was creamy and put it into the fridge until I was ready to make my risotto. We ate a lot of it with crackers. Oopsie!

To make the risotto I assembled the following additional ingredients.

1/2 cup arborio rice (this is more than enough for 2 people)

2 cups spinach (our was frozen)

1 and 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 cup of white wine (I like chardonnay for this recipe, but I used pinot grigio because we had it)

1/2 tsp herbes de provence

1 quart of water

1 cube of vegetable bouillon

1 onion, diced

1/2 tsp garlic paste or chopped garlic

1 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

I started by microwaving the bouillon and water, stirring to dissolve the bouillon cube.


I then put the rice into my pan with the wine and herbes de provence over low heat until the wine cooked off and some of the liquid was absorbed. I continued to add the broth while I started to sautee the onion in the olive oil.

After the onion was soft I added the mushrooms. Once they started to soften, I added the spinach and turned off the heat once it was wilted.

Once the rice had absorbed most of the broth and was mostly translucent except for a little opaque bit in the middle of the rice grain, I added the nutritional yeast, garlic paste and then combined that with the sauteed vegetables.

Then I stirred in 1/2 cup of my cashew cheese and adjusted the salt and pepper to taste. Hey, guess what… it’s ready. The addition of cashew cheese makes this dish more reminiscent of the cheesy delightful artery clogging dairy rich dish but it’s way better for you and super ultra mega tasty.

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is “Vegan”?

Typically something is vegan if it’s not an animal product. Vegans usually rationalize this choice by offering any or all of three justifications:

1. It’s better for the planet.

2. It’s better for the animal.

3. It’s better for my body.

Nothing is ever so grey as real life, even in the face of something that can seem very black and white. A question I’ve been pondering is “what about farmed shellfish?”

1. Is it better for the planet? After some research, I’ve learned that clams, oysters and mussels when farmed actually have a positive impact on their local environment when farmed. These organisms filter water of microscopic algae, plankton and other particulate from the water, leaving it cleaner than it was before the addition of the creatures. Because removing impurities from water is their food source, they require no outside food source like fish or corn meal, making them sustainable in terms of their nutritional requirements during farming. They can also be seeded on posts in shallow water, ropes in open water and bags in deeper water. These are retrieved when the bivalves are ready for consumption without bycatch or damage to the ocean floor (as opposed to dredging – the ocean’s environmental equivalent of clear-cutting a forest).

2. Is it better for the animals? Because I doubt the sentience of these organisms because of their highly simplified nervous systems. I subsequently doubt that they can suffer the was a suffocating fish can. If they’re also responsible for cleaning water, this improves the lives of other marine animals.

3. Is it better for my body? Molluscs offer a suite of nutrients that vegans often have trouble getting, including zinc and B12. The nutritional profiles of clams, mussels and oysters include copious omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, iron and protein. Unfortunately they’re also rich in cholesterol which I consider to be their only drawback.

Would I stop being a vegan if I decided to start occasionally including these organisms as food in my diet? I admit I would eat ants, grasshoppers, worms and snails if they were readily available so maybe this was inevitable. I’m curious as to what other vegans think.

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin, Sundried Tomato Bread!

I’ve been working on my baking with encouragement and inspiration from Somer at VegedOut and Annie of An Unrefined Vegan. These two ladies are ace bakers and manage to survive without eggs, milk and sometimes even wheat. Pastries are a little easier since lower protein flours have a good texture for cakes and cookies, but not bread. Bread is the one thing we can’t reliably get that’s gluten-free, vegan and tasty. Usually commercially available breads fit one or two of those three criteria. Therein lies my quest.

My early attempts at gluten-free vegan bread were unreliable and didn’t always rise properly so things have come up a few notches since then.

One of the big things was getting a stand mixer with a dough hook. I can knead bread myself, but this makes mixing much more consistent. I got a cheap used $55 3.5 quart stand mixer. I’ll probably get something nicer when this one goes, but for now it’s perfect for experimenting.

The biggest issues I find with gluten-free vegan bread is that it’s usually dry, crumbly and/or dense. I’m still struggling with these issues, but things are improving slowly but surely.

My ever evolving bread recipe is currently as follows.

1 cup garbanzo flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup teff flour

1/2 cup chopped sundried tomato

1/2 cup chopped nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin pits (shelled)

1 tsp herbes de provence

1 tsp salt

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp yeast (or one packet)

1/4 cup flax meal

1 cup water, warmed slightly in the microwave

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup tinned unsweetened pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C. I combine the dry ingredients (except for the yeast in a bowl. Mix them lightly.

IMG_2561

I combine the water (warmed) and dissolve the yeast in it and then put that and the rest of the wet ingredients including the pumpkin in the bowl of my trusty stand mixer and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting. Then I wait for 3-5 minutes until the yeast starts to activate and look bubbly.

IMG_2575

After that I start to add the dry ingredients one cup at a time until it’s all mixed and doughy. It’s usually pretty sticky but holds its form well. I plop that onto a floured baking sheet and quickly mold it into a loaf form. (I haven’t tried any other formation, but you’ll know when I do!)

IMG_2576

I slash the top of the loaf to allow some of the steam to escape. When I tried skipping that step I ended up with a loaf of bread that looks like it exploded in the oven. I baked this for 2 hours and then started checking every 5 minutes to see if it was cooked all the way through by checking to see if a knife inserted into the middle of the loaf came out clean.

IMG_2577

This bread is still a little dense, but the flavor and texture are getting there fast. We’ve been enjoying it for simple things like grilled ‘cheese’ or toast with jam or vegan cream cheese.

 

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dining Out: Duke’s Alehouse & Kitchen

I spent this past weekend with dear friends of mine in Crystal Lake, which is about 45 miles northwest of Chicago. It was a staycation of sorts. It was relaxing, but not “sit on the couch and be lazy” relaxing. It was fun, but not “let’s get wasted and go crazy” fun. It was far away from the noise and the city and my real life, but not “where in the world am I, is that a cow in your backyard” far. The best part was the company.

I really like Crystal Lake. On the drive there from either my home or my work, it gets scenic. It’s becoming more and more rare to drive for awhile and only see trees. It’s also not a short drive. There’s a general feeling that you might drive right into someone’s backyard silo or get lost on a dark road with no surrounding civilization. But then, you get to Crystal Lake, and everything you need is there. Even better, Crystal Lake has a great vegan-friendly restaurant: Duke’s Alehouse & Kitchen.

photo 2

Duke’s is located across the street from the Metra station, so I would imagine that those who commute back home from the city stop by here for a pint before heading home. It’s cozy and open and family-friendly. It was a bit rainy when we were there, so they didn’t have any tables outside, but my understanding is that the outdoor seating is popular on a nice day.

The fact that Duke’s is vegan-friendly is great, but what impressed me most about is that everything is locally sourced. They have a large board which I first assumed was a list of beer specials, but it was actually a list of where they got all their meat and vegetables. For carnivores who care about where their meat comes from, this is the place for you.

photo 1

Duke’s straightforward vegan options include Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Pizza, Raw Spaghetti Salad (Sun-dried tomato pesto tossed with zucchini “noodles” and served with olive tapenade), Vegan Chili, and Coconut Curried Butternut Squash (Nichols Farm squash braised with onions and golden raisins in a coconut-curry broth, served with roasted antique apples, toasted almonds, brown rice, and fresh cilantro).  I opted for the pizza.

photo 3

Look at that arugula!!! The one downfall with flatbread is that it can get soggy pretty quickly, but this crust stayed crisp and held up hours later when I ate the leftovers. The vegetables were grilled and seasoned well. Maybe it’s because I’m turning veganese, but I can tell a fresh vegetable from one that’s been sitting in a cooler somewhere, and these veggies were FRESH. Duke’s doesn’t specify the vegan cheese they use, but this had the taste and texture of Daiya shredded mozzarella.

I would love to go back and try out every other vegan option that Duke’s has. The squash sounded really good, but seemed too heavy for lunch, especially before an activity-filled afternoon. I eavesdropped on a couple of ladies going over the menu, and one commented that the squash was really good.

Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen has a great vibe, a large beer menu, and is vegan-friendly. The service was friendly and it’s in a great location. Definitely check it out if you find yourself in the area. Or, plan a trip out there!

Visit Duke’s online at http://thedukeabides.com–Melissa

Tagged , , , , ,

Hail Merry Grawnola

I’m not often vocal about my decision to turn veganese for a few reasons. One, I’m not often in the mood to get into a discussion about why/how I made my choice. Two, once people know I’m vegan, my food choices get scrutinized (“PIZZA ISN’T VEGAN, YOU KNOW” or “That’s all you’re eating? How sad.”). A lot of the time, though, opening up about being vegan (or trying to be) can be a beautiful thing. I learn a lot, I get asked a lot of smart questions, and I get introduced to foods and products and other vegany things.

One of the people I enjoy discussing food with is someone I’ve mentioned before, my friend Joelen (read her blog already, it’s not vegan, but it’s great). She introduced me to my new favorite vegan snack, which I will now introduce to you:

photo (8)

Hail Merry Grawnola!

I posted about Hail Merry’s Miracle Tart before. It was good, but I wasn’t really left wanting more. They have definitely hit it out of the ballpark with their Grawnola product, though.

Joelen brought me a couple bags of their orange cranberry blend. As you can see on the package, it’s raw, gluten-free, and vegan.
3.5_orangegraw_nutr_1The mix contains almonds, buckwheat groats, pecans, dried apples and cranberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts, flax seeds… and it’s flavored with maple syrup, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt. It occurs to me that one would easily make this mix on their own, but I’m going to leave the mixing and dehydrating to the experts.

The Grawnola is much more exciting than plain nuts, satisfies my sweet cravings that usually have me reaching for chocolate, and is just plain fun to eat. I’ve only tried it straight out of the bag, but I imagine that it would be awesome with mixed in with vegan yogurt or ice cream.

Yum… ice cream… ahem.

It’s great when I’m having a snack attack or as a quick pick-me-up after an intense work out (read: leisurely walk on the treadmill).

Look for Hail Merry Grawnola in stores or buy directly from them on their web site. Hail Merry also has a great presence on Facebook, so go Like them.

Have you tried Hail Merry Grawnola? What do you think? –Melissa

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Vegan Kare Kare 2.0

I haven’t cooked in awhile (I’m a lazy vegan, remember?) but I had a serious craving for kare kare last week. I think it was triggered by seeing the beginnings of my Dad’s garden this summer, particularly the eggplant. I’m so spoiled by the garden! Alas, there are no veggies yet. Thank goodness for grocery stores.

I previously made kare kare using soy curls and it was good, but I wanted to try something different this time. I didn’t want to drop a meat substitute altogether even though all-veggie kare kare would be satisfactory. I didn’t want to use tofu. I didn’t want to use mushrooms. I didn’t want to use squash.

So I used jackfruit — young, unripe jackfruit.

photo (8)

You can find canned young green jackfruit at any Asian grocery store. Make sure you get the jackfruit in brine, not syrup! It’s not to be confused with ripe yellow jackfruit, which is sweet (and delicious in halo halo… yum). I’ve seen unripe jackfruit used in savory dishes. Luminous Vegans has a great BBQ Jackfruit recipe that’s like a vegan pulled pork sandwich. My Mom adds it to dishes. There is a plethora of vegan Jackfruit ‘Carnitas’ Taco recipes on the Internet. With the shred-like texture of the jackfruit, some imagination and an open mind, the possibilities are endless.

Kare kare always seemed really complicated to me when I was younger and I realize now that it’s because of the meat component. You need to boil the oxtail. Sometimes, you need to boil it forever or use a pressure cooker, otherwise it won’t get tender and it’s just nasty. You need to skim out the garbage that shows up when you boil meat. And it takes a long time!

For vegan kare kare, you’re looking at maybe 15 minutes of prep time and 15 minutes of cook time.

Vegan Kare Kare with Jackfruit

1 can young green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
eggplant, cut into 2″ chunks (enough to make approx 2 cups, any eggplant will do)
1 cup sitaw (Chinese long beans), cut into about 2 inch pieces — regular green beans are fine, too
bok choy (3 babies or 1 adult)
2-3 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 tsp achiote powder (optional)
oil
salt, to taste

Rinse and chop up all your veggies. for the jackfruit, I cut the chunks that came out of the can in half or in thirds, depending on how big they were. I made them about the same size as the eggplant pieces.

Heat up the pan and saute the onion and garlic in oil. When it gets fragrant, add the jackfruit, eggplant, and 1 cup of water. Mix it a bit, cover, and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Add the sitaw/beans and bok choy, cover, and let it all cook for another 3-5 minutes.

IMG_9466

Isn’t it pretty? The thing in the bottom middle is a piece of jackfruit.

When the veggies are just about cooked, stir things up a bit, being careful not to mash up any of the veggies. Then, make a well in the center of the pot and put in the peanut butter. The PB should melt completely. Add salt to taste. Add achiote if you want. It will give the dish a more reddish color. I didn’t add it this time around.

IMG_9469

Serve with white rice and bagoong (not vegan!) or a bagoong substitute. If you have the green-floral-border Corelle plates that every Filipino-American seems to have, use that for sentimental value. Follow it up with some halo halo with sweet jackfruit if you can. I’m so hungry now.

I’m pleased with my kare kare and jackfruit experiment, but I have to say that I think jackfruit would work better in sinigang (another Filipino dish) instead. I have yet to try it as BBQ or in a taco. Looks like I’ve got a lot of cooking to do! –Melissa

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lemon Sorrel!

Whenever fiddleheads and ramps come into season, I can’t help myself. They’re so tasty! We’re revisiting a favorite, fiddlehead and ramp salad but this time we’re doing wraps instead of on top of toasted bread and including a new twist – lemon sorrel.
IMG_2579
This particular vegetable has a light herbal fragrance and a mellow lemony flavor that compliment the savory earthy salad well. We prepared the salad as before and then combined it with the lemon sorrel in a wrap. It was DIVINE! This particular leafy green was grown here in Florida. If you find it in your local market, TRY IT!

 

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Buffalo Cauliflower!

It was a holiday weekend and something decadent and reminiscent of junk food was an order. Most people are BBQ and Buffalo wings. We had Buffalo cauliflower. You’ll need the following:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup of flour (we used garbanzo bean flour)
4 tbsp onion powder
1 pinch paprika
1 pinch garlic salt
1 cup of almond milk (you can use soy if you’ve got a nut allergy)
1 1/2 cups of your favorite vegan Buffalo sauce
corn oil spray
IMG_2580
For the batter, combine the flour, milk, garlic salt, paprika and onion powder and mix well. Coat all the cauliflower with batter and place it into a lightly oiled glass baking dish. Cover it with a baking sheet so the cauliflower won’t touch the cover.

IMG_2573

Bake at 450F/230C for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, toss the cauliflower, spraying lightly with corn oil and bake for 5 more minutes. Now toss to coat it with Buffalo sauce and bake for 10 more minutes. Watch it closely in case it starts to blacken around the edges.

IMG_2574

This is a much lower calorie alternative to Buffalo wings and it’s great with vegan sour cream (or the creamy cilantro lime sauce we make) and celery. If you get to try it, let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Apple Bake!

This was something that happened because I wanted to lighter breakfast and didn’t want to fuss with it too much. Did you know apples have almost the exact same nutritional value cooked as raw? I guess that makes sense.

IMG_2534

I cut up 2 pounds of apples and tossed them with 2 cups of Cascadian Farms Berry Cobbler granola. I baked it for 30 minutes at 350F and then set it out to cool a little before we ate it. This is just as good for breakfast as it is for dessert!

IMG_2258

If you’re wondering why the apples look so pink, it’s because they’re mountain rose apples. I love them because they’re visually stunning and taste like honey crisp apples. Yay!

 

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Epic Vegan Queso

We decided to take queso to the next level. Fortunately the preparation wasn’t epic; it is incredibly simple to make your own awesome queso at home.

You can start with Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso or any other pre-made vegan queso or make your own.

Take your vegan queso and combine it with the following:
1 15 ounce tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced and microwaved until soft
1 15 ounce tin of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 package of Tofurkey soy Chorizo
IMG_2501

Then we microwave it until it’s hot, stirring every thirty seconds. This is perfect for a gathering with friends, even omnivores!

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: