Saturday, December 29, 2007

Garden Ranch Pita

This pita sandwich is one of my go-to recipes for when I almost feel like having a salad, but not quite. I love it because it's scrumptious, healthy, and completely simple. I also like it because it's a great substrate for my homemade Vegan Ranch Dressing (VRD). Yum!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

O' Chocolate Cupcakes

Well, so much for being on a roll re: frequent posting!

Like many of you, I've been visiting family and friends for the holidays, which has caused my posts to slow down a bit. However, although I haven't been posting much lately, it actually feels like I've been cooking more than ever...

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes

Pictured here are the other cupcakes that I made for my aunt's b-day. And, just like the chocolate cupcakes in the previous post, these are also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (of course!).

So, I chose these particular cupcakes because I wanted to make something that non-chocolate lovers could enjoy, as well as something that wouldn't visually compete with the O' Chocolate Cupcakes too much.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bubble Tea

Yessss! At long last, the hellish, bi-annual, mental-marathon that makes me question my affinity for law school has come to close. That's right, exams are o-v-e-r, which means that I finally (legitimately) have time to whip up something fun...
Thus, pictured above is one of my all-time favorite drinks - bubble tea. Now, before I get any further, I intend to address the thought that's inevitably running through your head right now (if you've never had bubble tea before, that is).

"What the hell is floating in the bottom of that glass?!"

First, don't be frightened. It's only tapioca balls. And second, they're really delicious, especially when covered with a scrumptious brown-sugary glaze, as they are here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Black Beans + Rice w/ Sweet Potato Cubes

Fortunately or not, I did not grow up eating sweet potatoes. Sure, I may have unknowingly consumed one at some point in time, but I honestly have no recollection of doing so. Thus, I have no preconceived notions about them, or how they're "supposed" to be prepared.

On one hand, that's a bit of a bad thing, if only because it prevents me from commiserating with people who obsess about their love/hate relationships with those sweet potato-marshmallow conglomerations that are often served on Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, it's a really good thing, because it means that I tend to work with sweet potatoes in exactly the same manner as I do with plain ol' white potatoes. And since I LOVE potatoes in general, it's nice to have zero boundaries when it comes to cooking with all varieties of spuds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Olive Lover's Pizza

Since I've been on a bit of a roll regarding frequent posts lately, I figured I'd try to keep up with my newly acquired habit and post a quick one tonight.

And just so you know, the fact that I'm posting this at nearly 1am has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my Estates and Trusts final is tomorrow. I mean, it's not like I've been staying up until nearly 5am to study for several days straight. Nope, not me...

Anyway, if pressed, I'd probably have to name pizza as my ultimate comfort food. And I, like almost everyone else, practically lived off of crappy "pizza" in college. (Don't blame me, it's not like there're a lot of pizza-making options when you live in a dorm.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vegan Ranch Dressing

Oddly, one of the things that I've missed most during my journey toward veganism is Ranch Dressing. Ever since I was little, I've been a huge salad fan, but until about 5 years ago, it didn't even occur to me that other (healthier) salad dressings existed.

Since then, I've enjoyed creating all kinds of delectable vinaigrettes and olive oil dressings, but I still haven't been able to completely kick my Ranch-craving.

Gardner's Pie

I have a confession to make: Although I've been bookmarking and printing scrumptious looking recipes from my fellow bloggers for what seems like ages now, I haven't made nearly as many as I'd like.

Honestly, I think it has something to do with my ever-expanding cookbook collection, which is literally growing by the day. Part of me feels kind of guilty for spending so much of my non-disposable, non-existent income on the books, which I think I'm trying to alleviate by actually utilizing them.

Um, there's nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, nothing except for the fact that I've also stockpiled a ridiculous number of recipes from all of you bloggers as well. So, instead of contributing to the destruction of yet another paper tree, I decided to prepare a recipe from the oodles that I've already collected.

Accordingly, I want to say "thanks" to dr. stonie for her terrific Gardner's Pie recipe! My only changes were to add an extra clove of garlic, plus some spinach and edamame, as I was short on green beans. And although my picture might not be as pretty or delicate-looking as hers is, my "pie" sure tasted great!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Starry Vegan Blueberry Pie

Well, I was shopping at Whole Foods a month ago, and they were sampling an amazing looking blueberry pie. Usually I'm not a big dessert lover, but that pie was totally calling my name. So, I tried a small (and scrumptious) sample, and as soon as it hit my mouth, my hand instinctively reached for a pie to place in my cart. However, upon reading the ingredients - and looking at the $15 price tag - I balked. Thus, instead of eating something so disappointingly unhealthy, I decided to make a pie of my own...

Although I will admit that the crust isn't homemade, everything is still vegan. I created the starry scheme myself, which was actually really fun. Also, I used fresh blueberries, and very little sugar. (Next time, I'll definitely sprinkle some sugar on top of the pie crust - that might have been what was missing.) Although it didn't turn out as delicious as I'd hoped, my beau certainly enjoyed it. And that's all that counts, right?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio (Garlic + Olive Oil)

Thanks to the crazy ice storm that slammed into the Midwest this past weekend, CH and I were stuck in our apartment for two solid days. We attempted to venture out for dinner on Friday night, but after ice skating to the car and hearing sirens incessantly blaring, we decided driving probably wasn't the best idea.

So, we returned to the warmth of our apartment, snuggled up on the couch, and got ready for a serious "Sopranos" marathon. And even though we've both seen almost every episode twice, we decided to start at the very beginning, instead of skipping ahead to the season we haven't seen yet (ie: Season 6). How's that for self-control?

Anyway, between vicariously visiting the Bada Bing and accompanying Tony Soprano on a hit or two, CH and I realized that an insane amount of food is consumed on that show! Honestly, it's almost impossible to watch the "Sopranos" without becoming ravenously hungry, no matter how recently you just ate. In fact, I'm getting hungry now just thinking about it...

Lemon + Chive Garlic Bread

This is the quick, but delicious, garlic bread that I made to go with the "Sopranos"- themed Italian dinner that CH and I created.

And although I don't like to follow a particular recipe for this kind of stuff, I got some inspiration from Heidi Swanson (my new veg crush!) from 101 Cookbooks. The ingredients involved some Earth Balance vegan butter, a few cloves of minced garlic, some chives (which are currently growing in my Chia-Herb pot), and a bit of lemon zest. It was mmm-mmm good!
vegan garlic bread

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Well, what can I say about the great "Veganomicon" that hasn't already been said? Calling it a fantastic cookbook is clearly an understatement, so I guess I'll just have to let this picture speak for itself.

Above, you'll find a shot of my very first V-con recipe. It's the Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes, which are really quite delicious! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find coriander seed (as opposed to ground coriander) when I made them, so I had to settle for the ground up stuff that I had on hand. Regardless of that minor setback, these turned out so well that I definitely can't complain.

So, when you don't have time to make samosas - and who does, by the way? - feel free to give these potatoes a whirl. I promise, you won't regret it.

And as for the recipe, I have so much faith in the good taste of my fellow bloggers, I won't even bother to post it. I'm sure page 60 is already tabbed in your copy of V-con anyway...
twice-baked potatoes

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I bake things when I'm stressed, that's just the way it goes. For some reason, the scientific, uber-exactness that's typically involved with baking helps calm my nerves.

The truth is, it actually gives me something different to focus on - somewhere else to direct my energy - as opposed to focusing on whatever happens to be bothering me at the moment.

Peanut Butter Cookies

As promised in my accompanying post, I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

Below is an excellent vegan peanut butter cookie recipe. My only tip is to make sure that you actually sift the flour, as called for in the recipe. Unfortunately, I underestimated the sifter's importance (and didn't have one) so I attempted to "sift" the flour by using a mesh wire strainer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Creamy Dijon-Dill Potato Salad

Ah, so you have to make something for your next family event, and you're the only one who's vegan, huh? You don't feel like throwing together yet another boring lettuce-based salad, and you're not in the mood for dessert. Moreover, you want to make something that everyone will enjoy, without all of those puzzled "How can that be vegan?" looks.

Well, guess what? You're in luck!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Salsa Pasta Salad

Sometimes I just feel like having some good old-fashioned pasta salad. I mean, there's nothing quite like a chilled bowl of pasta (dressed up with a few accouterments, of course) to help get you through that midday slump. Unfortunately, however, it seems as though most pasta salads are heavy on the mayo and light on the flavor.

Yea - not exactly my bag.

Thus, enter "Salsa Pasta Salad," which is both flavorful and non-mayonnaised (vegan or otherwise). And although this salad isn't quite perfect yet, I appreciate being able to throw it into a plastic container for lunch in about 30 seconds flat.

The recipe can be found here, but please make sure to use olive oil in place of the vegetable oil - it tastes better, and it's so much better for you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Green Drink

That's right, I TiVo Oprah everyday. So sue me.

Thanks to her show, I've become acquainted with my favorite Doctor in the world - Dr. Oz (whom I don't, in fact, actually know). Anyway, I really like Dr. Oz because he practices both Western and Eastern medicine, which means that he promotes yoga, meditation, and even (gasp!) improving one's health through a diet rich in fruit and veg. Thus, he recently shared the following recipe to encourage people to incorporate healthy smoothies and juices into their daily lives. As for me, I'm pretty adept at blending up the former, but when it comes to the later, uh...notsomuch.

Actually, the meager breadth of my "juicing" experience extends only to squeezing the juice out of lemons, limes, and oranges for various recipes. If that's not bad enough, I don't even have a juicer. And my blender has been decidedly uncooperative lately, resulting in this being a much more time-consuming recipe than it should've been.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Vegan Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies

Well, I guess I should have seen this one coming...

Ever since I purchased "The Joy of Vegan Baking" cookbook, I've had an indescribable desire to bake! As mentioned in a previous post, although I do enjoy something sweet now and then, I'm certainly not what you'd call a "dessert person." That's why it's even more crazy that cookies keep running through my head. (Chocolate chip, & peanut butter, & oatmeal, oh my!)

*Warning: clicking on this picture will encourage screen licking.

Basically, it appears that a previously latent compulsion is suddenly driving me to bake every recipe in this entire cookbook, without regard for the fact that my name is neither Cookie Monster, nor Martha Stewart.

So, what's a girl to do? How can I stop this madness? I clearly can't allow cookies/other baked goods to take over my already crowded apartment, can I? And I obviously can't devour everything myself, right? And it would certainly be unfair to force CH to eat 100s of delicious baked goods, wouldn't it?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mexican-Style Chickpea Salad

Honestly, I've found that I'm somewhat addicted to beans (which probably explains why CH and I affectionately call each other "Beans" on occasion...awww).

Anyway, I love their versatility: they can be eaten hot or cold; can be used dried or from a can; and are perfect as part of a side dish or even as the "main event." Although black beans are my all-time favorite, a variety of other kinds are quickly moving up on my list.

Typically, I prefer chickpeas in the form of falafel or hummus. I also like them in soups/stews, because they usually taste kind of funny to me when I eat them cold, as whole beans. Actually, if I eat enough chickpeas, their taste starts to remind me of tuna fish, which makes me a bit unsettled. Interestingly though, after doing a bit of recipe googling, I discovered that chickpeas are often used as a vegetarian substitute for tuna salad. Hmmm...maybe my taste buds are even more well-developed than I previously thought.

So, I found this Mexican-Chickpea Salad on the Food Network website. I actually didn't like it that much, but maybe that's because I left out the chipotle peppers. (While I do love jalapeños, I cannot stand chipotles, which are smoked jalapeños.) Despite that fact, I decided to go ahead and post the pictures and a link to the recipe anyway. Who knows, maybe some of you will find this recipe more to your liking. In the mean time, at least it looks nice! You can find the recipe here.

(Edit 4.24.12) A thoughtful reader pointed out that this recipe is no longer available on The Food Network website. Thus, please find the recipe below:

Mexican-Style Chickpea Salad
(from The Food Network)

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (I omitted these)
3 fresh jalapenos, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, chopped
4 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. lime juice, freshly squeezed
3 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
salt + freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a large bowl & refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Season with salt & additional lime juice, as desired.  Serve salad cool or at room temperature.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Fine, fine. I know this isn't the most beautiful picture in the world - it's not like every meal can be as pretty as a bowl of Couscous + Black Bean Salad - but I couldn't let that stop me from posting it here. (Although I'm still not sure what made me think that veganizing a traditional, English, meat-based dish was a good idea...)

Anyway, despite appearances, this Vegan Shepherd's Pie is quite tasty. It's also really hardy, which makes it great for those times when you're craving something extra-filling. (That also makes it a nice dish for those who are non-vegetarians.) Although the lentil/nut mixture is flavorful, the mashed potato topping is definitely my favorite part of the meal. And while I've never actually had a traditional Shepard's Pie before, I do feel confident in saying that my veg pie fits the bill for "comfort" food.

So, don't be too quick to judge a book by its cover (or in this case, a meal by its picture). I'm sure glad that I wasn't.

Recipe: Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
(printer-friendly version)

1/2 cup uncooked brown lentils, sorted & rinsed
1/4 cup pearl barley
1 tsp. Marmite, or other yeast extract spread
2 cups vegetarian broth
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. white all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
mashed potatoes made from 4 potatoes (according to your favorite recipe)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) In a large sauce pan, over medium-low heat, simmer lentils, barley, yeast extract, & veg broth for 15 mins.
3.) After 15 mins., add carrot, onion, garlic, & walnuts to the lentil pot, simmering for 15 mins. more. If the mixture starts drying out, add a splash or two of additional veg broth.
4.) Combine the flour & water, & stir it into the mixture, simmering until thickened.
5.) Season the mixture with salt & pepper. Remove pan from heat, & add the peas & corn.
6.) Pour the mixture into a 2 Qt. casserole dish, spooning the mashed potatoes on top.
7.) Bake for about 30 mins., or until the potatoes are lightly browned on top.
vegan shepherd's pie

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Bit of Cooking Inspiration...

Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook: This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite veg cookbooks! I'm an avid reader of "Vegetarian Times" magazine, and this cookbook includes tons of their best recipes. So far, my favorite recipe has probably been the Black Bean Chili Pot Pie, which consists of a delicious black bean chili with cornbread on top - yum! Useful nutritional and cooking info (ex: how to properly cook grains and legumes) abounds, too.
Vegetarian Sandwiches: Fresh Fillings for Slices, Pockets, Wraps, and Rolls: This is a beautifully designed cookbook. I'm a sucker for tempting photos, and this book has them in spades. Of course, there are lots of interesting sandwich ideas in it, too. Some examples include: Sweet Potato and Avocado Sandwiches with Tahini-Poppy Seed Spread; Open-Faced Crispy Tortilla Sandwiches; and East Indian Tea Sandwiches. The sandwich spreads and chutneys in the book are impressive as well.
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone: Honestly, no vegetarian kitchen is complete without at least one Deborah Madison cookbook. While the soups and stews are particularly divine, the entire book stands out for its sheer breadth of information. Every recipe that I've made from it has been fantastic. Moreover, the guides related to wine parings, knife skills, and kitchen utensils make this cookbook even more fantastic. From sauces and relishes to dals and desserts, "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" has definitely earned a spot on the top of my kitchen shelf.
A Beautiful Bowl of Soup: The Best Vegetarian Recipes: Here is yet another visually appealing cookbook. Personally, I think it should be a companion to "Vegetarian Sandwiches," because really, what goes better together than soup and a sandwich? (The fact that both of the books are by the same author probably helps as well!) I particularly like the separate listing of vegan recipes, as well as the tips on substituting ingredients. Chapters with recipes devoted to "chilled" and "dessert" soups make this cookbook a standout, too.
Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Meals in Minutes: I picked up this book while living abroad almost 6 yrs ago. It was the very first vegetarian cookbook that I'd ever purchased, and I fell in love with it right away. Although my version of the book has a different cover, this one appears to be the exact same thing. And while I admittedly don't use it as much as I used to, it does contain one of my all-time favorite soups. The recipe involves pesto and a difficult-to-find kind of bean, which pairs soo deliciously that CH asks me to make on an almost daily basis. Seriously! The only down-side to this cookbook is its heavy reliance on egg-based recipes.
The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets: This is the newest addition to my ever-expanding collection. The cookbook's author, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, also hosts my favorite vegetarian podcast, which basically guarantees that I'd love this as well. "The Joy of Vegan Baking" is jam-packed with recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, cupcakes, strudels, and more. Of course, it also contains oodles of information about vegan dairy and egg alternatives, as well as some great tips on how and when to use them. And, not only will this cookbook help me "veganize" my family's holiday desserts, but it's sure to act as an invaluable resource for years to come.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh Baby, Baklava!

Oh. My. God.

Any attempt that I make - no matter how perfectly detailed or thoroughly descriptive - to convey the sheer deliciousness of this dessert will undoubtedly fail. And this is coming from someone who isn't even a "dessert person."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Couscous + Black Bean Salad

Sometimes food turns out so darn pretty that you almost don't want to eat it. (Huge emphasis on the word "almost" there.) Clearly, this couscous and beans dish presented one of those difficult situations. Luckily though, hunger typically trumps my love of aesthetics, and this salad presented no exception.
Thus, I'm happy to report that I enjoyed this dish down to the very last bite. It has a somewhat subtle taste: no over-powering flavors; no ingredients screaming "notice me!" Truthfully, it's one of those meals that doesn't instantly strike you as fantastic. However, the more of it you eat, the more amazing it tastes.

Trust me on this...

Recipe: Couscous + Black Bean Salad
(inspired by

1 cup whole wheat couscous*
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth*
2 (150z) cans black beans, thoroughly rinsed & drained
1 cup frozen corn
3/4 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 pinch salt
10 grinds freshly ground black pepper

1.) Cook couscous according to directions, replacing water with vegetable broth.
2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, salt, & pepper. Set the dressing aside.
3.) After the couscous has finished cooking, fluff it gently with a fork, & transfer it into a large bowl. Stir the beans, corn, red pepper, & green onion into the couscous.
4.) Pour the dressing over the couscous mixture, stirring to coat.
5.) Stir in the fresh cilantro, taste for salt/pepper, & add if necessary.
6.) Serve immediately, or refrigerate & serve later. (This salad is best at room temperature.)

*Variation: You can also use a box of Near East's Near East's "Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil" wheat couscous (instead of using plain, wheat couscous) when making this dish. If you do so, omit the vegetable broth and use water instead.

couscous and black bean salad

Friday, October 05, 2007

Raspberry Lover's Smoothie + Peanut Butter Delight

Alright, I'll admit it - I'm that little girl who used to carry a peanut butter sandwich to school in her Strawberry Shortcake lunch box (which eventually gave way to a Ghostbusters lunch box) every single day of the week. And by "every single day of the week," I, of course, mean "5 days a week for almost 6 years." Furthermore, a "peanut butter sandwich" sadly refers to two pieces of white bread (with the crusts, please) filled solely with creamy peanut butter (no jelly!).

If my mom felt like being creative while making my lunch, she'd use crunchy or extra crunchy peanut butter, or alternate between Jiff and Skippy brands, which added a bit of interest to my self-inflicted sandwich regimen. She'd also occassionally press large sandwich stamps onto the bread so that my beloved PB would be graced with pictures of Halloween pumpkins and witches, or the phrase "I love you." (Truthfully, I think my mom was more bored with making the same thing everyday than I should really have been with eating it.)

So, with that small confession out of the way (and the surprising revelation that limiting my food options in grade school may have lead to my current cooking obsession), it's time to share a couple of new smoothies.

These two drinks make an interesting pair: one is fresh, juicy, and slightly tangy; while the other is rich, creamy, and almost dessert-like. Additionally, the Raspberry Lover's Smoothie is perfect as a morning drink or as a midday pick-me-up, and tastes great when you're craving something healthy. On the other hand, the Peanut Butter Delight is delicious as an afternoon treat, or as a sweet, high-protein snack after a long day at work. It also does the trick when that little bit of nostalgia creeps in, because we both know that I wasn't the only kid who brought peanut butter sandwiches to school every day...

Recipe: Raspberry Lover's Smoothie
(printer-friendly version)
(pictured on left)

1 fresh, ripe banana
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen black cherries
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 (6 oz) container raspberry soy yogurt
1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) soy milk
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds (optional; adds Omega 3s - essential fatty acids)
1 tsp. psyllium husks (optional; adds fiber)

1.) Place all of the ingredients into a blender, adding the flax seeds & psyllium husks last.
2.) Blend until smooth, stopping to push ingredients down the sides, if necessary.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Delight Smoothie
(printer-friendly version)
(pictured on right)

1 fresh, ripe banana
1/3 cup smooth, natural peanut butter
1/4 cup vanilla (or plain) soy milk
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
7 ice cubes, crushed*
1 Tbsp. flax seeds (optional; adds Omega 3s - essential fatty acids)

1.) Place all of the ingredients into a blender, adding the flax seeds last.
2.) Blend until smooth; serve immediately.

*Tip: Crushing the ice before adding it will help the smoothie to blend more quickly, & will also extend the life of your blender. First, place the ice cubes inside a large zip-lock bag, squeeze the excess air out, & seal the bag. Then, place the bag on a flat, solid surface (kitchen counters work great), & use a rolling pin or heavy pan to crush the ice into smaller pieces.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why Veg?

The reasons that people have for becoming vegetarian or vegan are as numerous and as varied as the growing number of people who have decided to make that leap.

Some people have "light-bulb" moments when it comes to veganism. They may have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, or visited a slaughterhouse, or even read a book or seen a movie that opened up their eyes to animal suffering.

Others meet vegetarianism slowly. They may have friends or family members who are veg; they might have gone veg to save money; or they might have dabbled in vegetarianism in order to prevent health problems like high-blood pressure and heart disease.

Still, others become veg due to what seems like a natural progression in their lives. Maybe they've always enjoyed eating grains and produce more than animal products; maybe they were already vegetarian and veganism seemed like the logical next step; or maybe their idea of "going green" included doing less harm to animals, the planet, and themselves.

All of these are great reasons to adopt a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. And, FYI, you don't have to be an animal rights activist, "yoga freak," liberal, health fanatic, environmentalist, hippy, millionaire, arugula-lover, or even a finger-wagger to go veg (although all are welcome). The only thing that matters is that you come to it with an open heart and mind.

Become an expert on what your body needs. Decide what your priorities are. Determine what's driving you to make a change in your life. Are you concerned about your health? The environment? The ethical treatment of animals? Or something else?

Even if you're not ready to become vegan/vegetarian, that doesn't mean you shouldn't start scaling back the amount of animal products you consume. You might want to begin by cutting certain types of meat/dairy out of your diet. Or try eating one completely veg meal every day, eating exclusively vegetarian meals on the weekends or during one weekday, or even taking the 30-Day Veg Pledge. Another great way to start is by preparing veggie versions of things that you typically eat (ex: veggie pizza, spaghetti with marinara sauce, veggie burgers, etc.) Alternatively, you could eat veg while cooking at home, but continue eating non-veg meals while out at restaurants.

The bottom line is this: no matter how small of a step you take towards vegetarianism, you're taking a huge step towards better health for you, the animals, and our environment.

Need some encouragement? Try these articles on for size...

Your Health

"I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open."
-Dr. Dean Ornish

The Animals

"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our Environment

"Refusing meat is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint."
-David de Rothschild, Live Earth
A Parting Thought:

"At the moment our human world is based on the suffering
and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society."
-Arthur Conan Doyle

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Veg Restaurant Guides

Veggie Terrain Restaurant Guides:
  • VT's "Veggie Eats" in Portland, Oregon: click here and here
  • JD's Yelp page, which includes veg-friendly restaurant reviews
Other Veg Restaurant Resources:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vegan + Vegetarian Resources

Vegan Food Pyramid courtesy of

Veggie Terrain Guides:
Cookbooks, Podcasts, & More:
Additional Cooking, Shopping, & Nutritional Guides:

Vegetarian Food for Thought

I truly can't say enough great things about the vegetarian podcast that I've been (religiously) listening to for the past year or so...

It's called "Vegetarian Food for Thought," and it's geared towards vegetarians and vegans - old and new, alike. It's hosted by the affable Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who is really well-versed in a wide variety of veg-related issues. Aside from hosting the podcast, Colleen also teaches vegetarian cooking and nutrition classes, which adds even more credibility to her comments and suggestions.

So, I like this podcast for several reasons. Chiefly, however, I love it because of the wealth of information that I take away from each episode. Even though I consider myself to be a pretty well-informed vegetarian, I always learn something new or gain a deeper understanding of a topic that I thought I was already an expert in - which is a great and humbling feeling.

As for the subject-matter of the podcast, it covers everything from how to address social/dining situations in which you're the only vegetarian, to the health implications of consuming animal products. It also deals with topics such as: vegetarian pets; being a "joyful vegan;" responding to questions about your veg lifestyle; and getting proper vitamins and nutrients from your diet.

The practical advice and sort of "camaraderie" that I feel while listening to each episode is really great. It's especially refreshing to feel validated in my choice to be a vegetarian, and to be reminded that I'm not the only one who has that occasional "caught off-guard" or "confused" feeling when someone I barely know reacts negatively toward that choice. Likewise, I really appreciate the fact that the podcast has given me the knowledge and encouragement to continue inching toward veganism...

Overall, "Vegetarian Food for Thought" is a great companion for anyone who is thinking about becoming a vegetarian, wants to transition to veganism, or is just plain curious about how to live a healthier lifestyle. It's also a fantastic resource for the parents/significant others of vegetarians/vegans as well.

FYI: You can find this podcast through the link below, or through Apple iTunes. The best part is that it's free to listen, download, and subscribe.

Listen here.


You might also these links helpful:

Chickpeas with Potatoes + Tomatoes

Wow. Seriously, wow. This is the first recipe that I've made from my new Deborah Madison Cookbook, and if they're all this good, I'm in big, BIG trouble.

This beautiful dish is deceptively delicious, especially considering how few ingredients it has. I had a feeling that I'd like it, specifically because it contains two of my favorite ingredients: chickpeas and potatoes. 

However, I had no idea I'd love it so much that I'd eat it twice in one day!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fruit Blast Smoothie

My love for smoothies began ages ago, long before shops like Jamba Juice were seemingly popping up everywhere. However, I always had a tough time drinking them because my teeth just didn't agree with their achingly cold temperature.
Luckily though, several years and a few root canals later, I can finally enjoy a smoothie with the best of 'em.

Following is my super-healthy, breakfast smoothie recipe. Please be sure to use frozen fruit without any added sugar/syrup when you make it - the fruit is definitely sweet enough on its own. Also, I like to include "nutritional add-ons" like flax seeds (for the Omega 3s), psyllium husks (for extra fiber), and soy protein powder (for an added boost), but you don't have to, of course. I've marked the optional add-ons with an asterisk, in case you want to keep things simple. This smoothie tastes great either way!

Recipe: Fruit Blast Smoothie
(printer-friendly version)
(makes 2 gigantic servings)

10 frozen strawberries
12 frozen cherries
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 ripe banana (broken into 3 pieces)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (non-cooked)
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds*
1 scoop vanilla-flavored soy protein powder*
1 tsp. psyllium husks*
1 3/4 cups vanilla soy milk

1.) First, place all of the frozen ingredients in the blender, followed by the banana, oatmeal, add-ons (if using), & soy milk.
2.) Press the smoothie/blend button on your blender, & allow the frozen ingredients to break down & mix with the rest of the ingredients.
3.) Remove the top from the blender periodically, & use a spatula to scrape the ingredients down the sides.
4.) Continue blending until the mixture is as smooth as you'd like. Add additional soy milk, if needed.

Tip: Allow frozen fruit to sit at room temperature for a few mins before starting, which helps the smoothie blend more quickly.
vegan fruit smoothie

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lentil + Veggie Bowl

This is a meal that I like to throw together when I'm completely ravenous and don't feel like doing a lot of work. It's quick, healthy, and filling - which is definitely a convenient combination.

The base for this dish is 1/2 bag of Trader Joe's "Potato Medley," which contains frozen potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, snow peas, and red peppers. I cook it per the directions on the bag (sautéed in a pan with some olive oil for about 10 mins), and add some frozen corn and steamed brown lentils while the whole meal cooks. I also throw in some garlic, cumin, and a splash of vegetable broth for extra flavor.

The Lentil + Veggie Bowl is best served over brown rice, but is equally as good on its own, or as a side dish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

C's Fruit-Fest

This delicious, healthy breakfast was invented by my lovably cheap boyfriend, CH.

When you live with just one other person, who also happens to love food as much as you do, the inevitable line in the sand is typically drawn over perishable food. I'm one of those people who won't even blink at food that's considering becoming moldy (see: things I despise). My bf, on the other hand, will eat questionable fruits, veggies, and cheeses without even thinking twice (read: stinky moldy cheese; black bananas).

As such, CH put this breakfast together simply to prevent my bi-monthly raid through the refrigerator for "food gone bad." The nicest thing is that when CH makes this breakfast for me, he gives me all of the "good" berries, and saves the "iffy" ones for himself. Love that.

Recipe: C's Fruit-Fest
(printer-friendly version)
(serves one)

1 banana
8 strawberries
1 handful raspberries
1 handful blueberries
1 tsp. flax seeds
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk

1.) Slice the banana into rounds, dropping them into a bowl as you go along.
2.) Rinse the strawberries, slice off the tops, & cut into halves & then quarters. Add these to the bowl of bananas.
3.) Rinse the raspberries & blueberries. Continue adding the berries to the bowl.
4.) Pour the soy milk over the fruit, add more/less, depending upon your preference.
5.) Sprinkle the flax seeds on top of the dish.
6.) Serve with a spoon, & enjoy!

Tip: Wait to rinse the berries until right before serving, as they will turn mushy if you complete this step ahead of time. Also, feel free to vary the types/amounts of berries that you use. Surprisingly, the bananas are actually what make this such a decadent breakfast!
breakfast fruit bowl

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Scrumptious Vegetarian Chili

I'm completely aware that there're some people who don't appreciate a big bowl of chili during the summer. "It's really a cold weather food," they argue, "why would you want something hot when it's already so damn hot outside?" These are typically the same people who refuse to eat cold pizza for breakfast and eschew having pancakes for dinner.

In fact, a family member of mine used to scowl at anyone who dared to drink a glass of orange juice after 10am. She thought it was a Cardinal Sin to consume "breakfast items" at an "inappropriate time" of day.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Iced Vanilla Black Tea

Sometimes, when I'm craving a $$ drink from the 'Bucks, my frugal side actually gets the best of me. The evidence of that fact is my "Iced Vanilla Black Tea."

This simple drink is made with only 3 ingredients, and takes about 2 minutes to make (if you already have iced tea on hand). The measurements are based on whatever sized glass you decide to use. I suppose it would've been easier to suggest using a 3 to 1 ration of tea to soy milk, but fractions just look so much more professional...

Recipe: Iced Vanilla Black Tea
(serves one)

3/4 glass iced black tea
1/4 glass vanilla soy milk
2 splashes vanilla-flavored syrup*
5 or so cubes of ice

1.) Pour tea, soy milk, & vanilla syrup into a glass.
2.) Add ice, stir, & enjoy!

*Variation: You can use any kind of flavored syrup that you like - or just stick with plain old sugar.

Cream Cheese + Veggie Sandwich

This was inspired by a tasty sandwich that I had nearly 10 years ago in a busy, little, independent sandwich shop. It's pretty quick to throw together and doesn't involve a lot of prep work, which is nice. Plus, the sunflower seeds add an interesting layer of texture and an unexpected, but delicious, bit of crunch.

Recipe: Cream Cheese + Veggie Sandwich
(serves one)

2 slices bread
Cream cheese or Toufutti Better Than Cream Cheese
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Tomato, sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
Mixed lettuce
Alfalfa sprouts
Sunflower seeds, small handful

1.) Spread a generous layer of cream cheese on each slice
of bread.
2.) Place the cucumber slices on the bottom slice of bread, followed by the lettuce, tomato, red onion, and sprouts.
3.) Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top of the cream cheese on the other slice of bread.
4.) Close the sandwich, & viola, you're done!

*Optional: sprinkle some fresh herbs, like dill, on top of the cream cheese; you may also toast the bread, if you wish

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Potato + Black Bean Hash

Ah, here's one of those "I-can't decide-what-I-want-for-breakfast" kinda meals. Unfortunately, since I made it up as I went along, I don't really have a specific recipe (with cooking time/spice amounts) to post. However, I'd definitely suggest playing around with the following ingredients and adding whatever spices you happen to be digging right now.

Ingredients: Potato + Black Bean Hash

1/2 Yukon Gold potato, thinly sliced
1/2 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/3 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, seeded & diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 jalapeño pepper, minced
ground cumin (to taste)
chili powder (to taste)
salt & freshly ground pepper
1-1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil (for cooking)
fresh parsley, roughly chopped (for garnish)
organic ketchup (as a condiment)

Pasta + Marinara

Believe it or not, despite being a HUGE pasta lover, this was my first attempt at making completely home-made marinara sauce. As such, I'm going to wait to post a recipe until I perfect it a little more.

However, I will share the fact that I found an awesome new type of pasta, which I used in this dish. Although it looks a lot like spaghetti, it's actually called Bucatini. It has small ridges on the outside of it and is hollow in the middle. It's also about the same thickness of spaghetti. Truthfully, it kinda reminds me of a thick version of one of those coffee stirrer straws.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How, Now, Brown Cow?

Even if you're not a vegan, you might still be interested in replacing some of the dairy products in your diet with healthier, non-animal based alternatives. If you're leaning toward veganism, want to avoid contributing to the dairy industry, or have simply run out of an ingredient that you'd normally use in a recipe, help is on the way!

Note: Most of these products can be found at grocery stores such as Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Likewise, many health food stores and some of the major grocery chains carry them as well.

Milk Substitutes:
Because milk provides flavor, moisture, and thickness in cooking, it's usually not a good idea to use water in its place. Fortunately, to that end, a huge variety of plant- and nut-based milks are widely available on the market.
  • Soy Milk:
    • Soy milk is probably one of the most commonly used alternatives to cow's milk (hereinafter, "c.m."). It comes in a variety of flavors (unsweetened/plain, chocolate, vanilla, low-fat, etc.), and can be used in virtually any recipe as a direct c.m. substitute.
    • Organic WestSoy and TJ's brand are my favorites because they're inexpensive and are available non-refrigerated. Soy milk that hasn't been refrigerated doesn't have to be kept cold until after it's opened, so it can be stored in the cupboard for months without taking up valuable real estate in your fridge. After it's opened, soy milk has a shelf-life of about 10 days.
  • Other Non-Dairy Alternatives:
  • Almond Milk (Almond Breeze), Oat Milk, Rice Milk (Rice Dream), and Hemp Milk:
    • These types of milk tend to be different in texture and thickness than the more typical soy milk, although they can also be used as a direct replacement for c.m. 
    • Due to those differences, however, it's best to become familiar with the flavor of each milk before using it in a recipe. Out of the four kinds, rice milk is probably the most adaptable, although almond milk is becomming widely popular.
  • Buttermilk:
    • Instead of using c.m.-based buttermilk, you can easily make your own.
    • Start with 1 cup of soy or rice milk, & stir in 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or white vinegar.
    • Allow the mixture to sit for 10 mins.
  • Cream:
    • Silk makes a great substitute for cream (Silk Creamer), which comes in several flavors. It can be used in recipes that call for cream, or in place of creamer in coffee. Soy milk (or another c.m. alternative) also works well as an alternative to dairy-based coffee creamers.
Other Dairy-Based Alternatives:
  • Butter:
    • Earth Balance  is a great, easy-to-find brand of vegan "butter," which comes in spreadable tub form, or as sticks for baking. It can be used as a direct substitute for c.m. butter in baking and cooking, and as a spread/topping for things like toast or baked potatoes.
  • Butter Substitutes For Use in Baking Only:
    • Applesauce:
      • Simply use the same amount as you would for butter, by replacing up to 3/4 of the butter with applesauce. Replace the rest of the butter with a vegan butter substitute (see previous listing).
      • Note: applesauce should only be used when baking "sweet" goods
    • Canola Oil:
      • In your recipe, use 1/3 cup of oil in place of one stick (1/2 cup) of butter.
    • Yogurt:
      • Soy yogurt is a fantastic alternative for dairy-based yogurt, and it is made by several companies. Some popular brands are: Silk, Stonyfield Farms O'Soy, Trader Joe's brand, and WholeSoy & Co.

  • Mayonnaise:
    • Two great brands of vegan mayo are Follow Your Heart Veganaise (I prefer the "original" flavor) and  Nayonaise. They can be used as a direct substitute for mayonnaise in any recipe.
  • Sour Cream:
    • Plain soy yogurt can be used in place of sour cream, or non-dairy sour cream products such as Tofutti Sour Supreme can be used instead.
  • Cream Cheese:
  • Cheese:
    • There are tons of non-c.m. based cheeses on the market, which are typically made of soy, rice, or nuts. Be careful though, because several soy cheeses contain animal-derived casein, making them unvegan-friendly. Note, also, that the complaints about vegan cheese substitutes (the taste, texture, lack of melt-ability, etc.) are numerous. Accordingly, this is one of those products that requires a bit of patience, and some trial and error.
  • Daiya is the current darling of the vegan cheese world. It comes shredded and in wedge form, and its claim to fame its superior melt-ability, particularly when it comes to making pizza and macaroni and cheese.  (edit added 4.24.12

  • Nutritional Yeast:
    • Nutritional yeast is yellowish in color and is sold in a granulated/powder-like form (which appears similar to cornmeal) or in a flaky form. It's very high in vitamin B-12, and although some might call it an acquired taste, once you've learned to appreciate it, nutritional yeast can be a vegan's best friend.  It's often used in place of parmesan cheese, or in any recipe that calls for a savory, cheesy taste.  Bonus tip: it also tastes great sprinkled over popcorn!

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Eggs? Not for This Chick.

Eggs often play a structural role in cooking and baking. They act as a leavening agent, are used to add volume, and are added to help bind ingredients together. Accordingly, the type of dish that you're preparing will often determine what type of egg substitute (if any) is appropriate to use.

As such, working with egg-substitutes sometimes seems like an even bigger challenge than replacing the dairy products in one's diet. However, with a little creativity and some practice, you'll quickly find that it's easy to enjoy healthy and delicious egg-free baking and cooking!

Note: Most of these products can be found at your local grocery store. They can also be found at stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and might even be sitting in your kitchen right now!

Egg-Free Baking:

Not surprisingly, most people instinctively associate eggs with baked goods. And since those of us who like baking typically love to share the fruits of our labor, it's common for egg-laden foods to take center-stage at holidays and other celebrations.

(For example, eggs often pop up in birthday/wedding cakes, holiday cupcakes, bake-sale cookies, and Thanksgiving rolls.)

This means that baking without eggs often presents a great opportunity to expose others to delicious vegan (or simply egg-free) goods. Since people are generally willing to try all types of desserts, those who might not give other vegan dishes a chance are likely to taste (and find that they enjoy!) vegan sweets.

Substitutions for Baking with Eggs:
  • The following substitutions will replace one whole egg -
    • Mix 1 1/2 tsp of Ener-G Egg Replacer with 2 Tbs of warm water; use as a direct substitute in baking. Ener-G works for all types of baked goods. It is powdery in texture, and white in color.
      • Tip: An easy way to prepare Ener-G is to place the egg substitute in a small dish, add the water, and then whisk both ingredients with a fork until they become frothy.  

    • 2 Tbsp of cornstarch beaten with 2 Tbsp of water
      • This mixture is similar to Ener-G, and is equally as versatile.
    • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds, whipped with 1/4 cup of water
      • Again, this works similarly to Ener-G (and the cornstarch mixture), it also gives a healthy boost of Omega 3s to whatever you're making!
    • 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 Tbsp flour, and 3 Tbsp water, whisked together
      • This mixture is convenient to use because it consists of things that people probably already have in their cupboards.
    • 1/4 cup of applesauce or pureed prunes
      • 1/2 tsp of baking powder may also be added to maintain the "lightness" of your finished recipe
    • Applesauce and prunes work well in cakes, brownies, and muffins.
      • Note: fruit-based substitutions might add a bit of flavor to your recipe, so don't forget to consider that when using them.

    • 1/2 of a small, ripe, mashed banana
    • Bananas work well in cookies, muffins, pancakes, and quick breads. They are also good for "browning" purposes.
    • 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
      • Yogurt works well in cakes, muffins, and quick breads.
Egg-free Cooking:

Recipes often include eggs because they require an ingredient that acts as a binder, in order to keep other ingredients in the dish together. Some examples of these types of foods are: burger patties; casseroles; "meat" balls; and veggie loaves.

As a result, the type of egg-substitute that you use should be determined by the type of dish that you're cooking, the amount of "stick" that you need, and the flavor that the replacement product will add to your particular recipe.

(For example, while mashed potatoes work well in burger patties, you might prefer not to use them in "meat" balls, due to the way that the taste/texture interacts with the burgers as opposed to the "meat" balls.)

Substitutions for Cooking with Eggs:
  • Typically, 2 - 3 Tbsp of a single one of the following ingredients will replace one whole egg in a recipe. Keep in mind that just as when working with dairy substitutes, a little experimentation goes a long way toward perfection!
    • Cornstarch
    • Potato starch
    • Oat or bean flour
    • Whole-wheat or unbleached, white flour
    • Breadcrumbs, finely crushed
      • Breadcrumbs work well in most recipes
    • Cooked oatmeal or quick-cooking rolled oats
      • Oatmeal works well in burger patties and "meat" balls
    • Cooked rice
      • Rice works well in burger patties
    • Instant potato flakes
    • Mashed white or sweet potatoes
      • Mashed potatoes work well in veggie loaves and burger patties
    • Tomato paste
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