Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 61: Apple Pie

     Today I attended a potluck / pool party at a friends house. I was glad to hear in advance that a couple of my friends were bringing vegan friendly dishes. Because of that I decided to make a dessert so that I would have a full course meal along with everyone else. I ended up bringing a homemade apple pie which was a major hit. No one even considered it to be vegan since there was no mention of tofu.


Apple Pie
Pie Crust Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour       
1 teaspoon salt                     
1 tablespoon sugar               
6 tablespoons vegan margarine
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

    Step 1: Warm the butter in the microwave until it is soft, but not melted. Mix in a large bowl all-purpose flour, salt, sugar. Then cut in using the dough blender Butter, shortening, ice water.

 

    Step 2: Wrap your pie crust in plastic wrap. Then place in refrigerator for 20 or more minutes, while you make the pie filling. Once done chilling cut the dough in half (one will be for the bottom crust and the other for the top) and roll out one of the halves so that it is about 1/8th of an inch thick. Place the flattened dough in a 9 in pie dish.

Apple Pie Filling Ingredients

5 Cup Peeled Green Apples (1 medium apple = 1 cup)           
3/4 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar                        
2 Tablespoons Flour             
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
½ Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

    Step 1: Peel and slice your apples. Soak them in water with a tablespoon of lemon juice.

    Step 2: Mix filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix in the apples. Pour the apple mixture into the premade crust. With the second half of the chilled dough, start to make the top of the pie by rolling it out until 1/8th of an inch thick and cut into approximately 1 inch strips.

    Step 3: Cut long strips of tinfoil and place them around the edge of the pie.This will prevent the crust's edge from burning while it bakes. You will want to take the tinfoil off about ten minutes before the pie is done. This way, the apple pie will have a golden brown edge.

Bake your pie at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
hint: Place a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil on the lowest oven rack (not on the same rack as the pie) to prevent any overflow from reaching the bottom of the oven--easy cleanup! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 60: Garlic Pita Chips

     I happened to be randomly browsing through the Jewish magazine “Tribe Life” the other day, which I picked up at the library, and found this wonderful pita garlic toast recipe.

                              
    I showed my boyfriend, who absolutely loves garlic and pita bread, and he was super stoked to try it out. We went to the grocery store without the recipe, which is always smart (not), so we ended up missing a few ingredients. My boyfriend then took it upon himself to alter the recipe, and it ended coming out amazing. He decided to cut the pita bread into smaller pieces so it would be more like pita chips and got some plain hummus to dip it in.
              
                                    
Pita Garlic Chips
½ cup vegan margarine
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (we used dried parsley…doesn’t work as well but it will do)
Garlic Salt
6 to 8 pita rounds, cut into triangular slices
   
    Step 1: In a food processer blend together all ingredients except the pits bread of course. (Any extra spread you are not using immediately freeze it in cubes by putting it in your ice cube tray. Just unfreeze it at room temperature when needed)

    Step 2: Cut the pita bread into triangular chip size slices. The spread the butter mixture across the top of the pita bread, and then arrange the pita chips in one layer on a aluminum foil baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 f and bake until lightly browned and crisp, approximately 5 minutes.

(12 servings)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 59: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

     Just the other day my roommate made these wonderful vegan cinnamon roll cookies from the book "The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur" by Kelly Peloza, which I talked about on day 28.


     These cookies were epic! There were soft like cinnamon rolls, filled with layers upon layers of cinnamon, and tasted almost like snickerdoodles. I must say these my favorite vegan cookies that I have come across so far.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Dough:
1/3 cup vegan margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy milk
1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon mixture:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

    Step 1: In a large bowl combine the margarine and sugars, and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and soymilk and mix until smooth. Then add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt mixing until well incorporated.

    Step 2: Mold the dough into a disk shape, then cover in plastic wrap and then chill it in the fridge for half and hour.

    Step 3: Roll the dough out into 8x8-inch square, about 1/4 inch thick and then trim the edges. Turn the flattened dough onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper. (Put a piece over the dough, grab the edge, and flip it.)

    Step 4: Combine the cinnamon and sugar, and sprinkle on top of dough. Pat it in and dust off the extra. Using plastic wrap or parchment paper as a helper, begin rolling. When the dough is all rolled up, warp the log, put it on a plate, and stick it in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

    Step 5: Slice the dough into 1/2 inch sections, and put them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool before transferring the cookies.

(Makes 15 cookies)

   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 58: Banana Wheat Pancakes

    Today I decided to try the banana flapjacks recipe from the "Guide to Veg Living" put together by Farm Sanctuary. It was interesting because I have both the "Guide to Veg Living" and the "Recipes for Life" booklets that are put out by Farm Sanctuary that have this same recipe, but with different ingredients. So I decided to loosely go off of both recipes.


    After mixing the ingredients together the mixture seemed too thick so I added more soy milk as well as two tablespoons of brown sugar. These pancakes turned out great, but were a little dense so I suggest trying to add both white and whole wheat flour instead of just whole wheat.

Banana Wheat Pancakes
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (can use half whole wheat and half white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup mashed banana (1 small banana)
1 cup vanilla soymilk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Step 1: Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater.

    Step 2: Grease the frying pan and then place on medium to high heat. Spoon in batter and cook until the bottoms are brown, adjusting the heat as necessary. Cook the second side briefly, until golden brown.

(Serves 2)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 57: The Myth of Estrogen in Soymilk

     It is a common misbelief that there is large quantities of estrogen in soymilk, which might cause men to become more feminine; both physically and mentally. This certainly is not the case.



      I found this great article “Soy Protein and Estrogen Myths” written by Aijalyn Kohler on livestrong.com as well as some wonderful information from the manufacturer of the Silk soymilk brand, that helped summarize the issue. They explained that while soy milk does not contain the hormone estrogen it does have isoflavones , which are a type of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogen is also known as a “plant estrogen”. The structures of isoflavones are very similar to the hormone estrogen, but the two function very differently in the body. When isolavones bind themselves to estrogen receptors they exhibit estrogen like behaviors and sometimes block the actual estrogen from working. Because of this many people have studied the possible beneficial effects of soy milk in the role of supporting heart and bone health, minimizing menopausal symptoms, as well as reducing the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.

      In a study done by the American Society for Nutritional Sciences on the "Hormonal Effects of Soy on Premenopausal Women and Men" they concluded that while they found soy consumption to have small effects on hormones of both premenopausal women and men, it was generally in the beneficial direction.

      Soy products have been consumed by eastern cultures for thousands of years, and they seem to be doing just fine. Japan is actually the leading country in the average life expectancy, while the United States trails behind in 36th place. What have we been doing wrong? While there are many articles about the benefits as well as the set backs of soy products, no substantial studies have proven that soy products cause men to become more feminine. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 56: Mac Un-Cheese

    When looking through the "Easy Vegan Recipes" booklet from Compassion Over Killing, a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe caught my eye. After realizing there was no vegan cheese in the ingredients the first thing that came to mind is how is that possible? What makes it orange? I then realized it included nutritional yeast, which is suppose to have a cheesy flavor as well as gives it orange coloring. I then went on a search for nutritional yeast. I eventually tracked it down at Whole Foods and was stoked to try this new type of macaroni and cheese.


     The dish surprisingly enough looked like macaroni and cheese, but that is were the resemblance ended. This dish sad to say was a total flop. It tasted nothing like macaroni and cheese. It had way too many spices that clashed. I was also disappointed that the nutritional yeast tasted nothing like cheese. The only up side to this nasty ingredient is that it is fortified with numerous vitamins and minerals. I included the recipe below so that you do not try it. Unfortunately this recipe made me wary of all the other recipes in the booklet as well.

Mac Un- Cheese
1 lb (16oz) pasta
2 cups vanilla soy milk
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground pepper
½ garlic powder

    Step 1: Cook pasta and drain

    Step 2: In a large bowl combine pasta and all the other ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

(serves 6 to 8)

Does anyone know a good vegan macaroni and cheese recipe?



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 54: Cozy Spinach Soup

    Today I made this simple spinach soup recipe from the book “Living among Meat Eaters” by Carol J. Adams that I talked about on day 44. This great dish had a very cozy winter feel to it will the thick rich soymilk sauce, with nutty taste of nutmeg and cloves. This is definitely a dish one should try during the winter around the holidays. While the dish was warm and delicious, I am not much of a spinach fan so next time I am going to try substituting the spinach with broccoli and see what happens.


Cozy Spinach Soup:

3 cups plain soy milk
1 bunch spinach (when chopped, drained, and chopped, it will be 1 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 small onion
6 to 10 whole cloves
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of nutmeg

    Step 1: Warm soy milk in a sauce pan for a few minutes.

    Step 2: In a separate pan melt the margarine and add flour; heat, stirring a minute or two to cook the flour. (Don’t let brown)

    Step 3: Add the warm soy milk and stir with attention until mixture comes almost to a boil and begins to thicken. (Don't let boil)

    Step 4: Peel and trim onion. Stick the cloves into the onion and submerge in the sauce. Add salt and nutmeg. Simmer on the lowest heat for half an hour, stirring every once and a while. Then remove and discard the onion and cloves.

    Step 5: Warm up the frozen spinach. Blend the spinach in a blender with about 1 cup of the sauce. Then mix in with the rest of the sauce.

(Serves 3)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 53: Animal Rights National Conference

       Today I decided to attend the Animal Right National Conference, held in the Westin Hotel in Los Angeles. Farm Animals Rights Movememnt (FARM) has actually been organizing this event since 1981, and is sponsored by many big vegan companies such as VegNews and Mercy For Animals. I really had no idea how such a big event this was until I attended and found that almost everyone I talked to was from another state or entirely different country! I was only one of the few that live in the area.



     People come from all over to attend this five day event at the Westin Hotel. These five days are packed with workshops, exhibits, movie premieres, and even early morning yoga. They have various concurrent tracks for people that come for different reasons. 

Various Tracks:
  1.  Issues Track  -covers different types of animal abuses and the underlying issues (they recommend this for newcomers).
  2. Organizational Track - Suggests improvements in personal and organizational effectiveness.
  3. Tactics Track - Addresses campaign tactics and outreach to various constituencies.
  4. Campaign Reports - Offer reports on activities and successes by leading national and local organizations.
  5. Rap Sessions - encourages participation in open discussions about controversial issues facing the movement.
  6. Videos - new video premieres with question and answer by their producers.

   
       Along with all these tracks they have a newcomer orientation, awards banquet, networking receptions, and  free exhibits. While I wish I was able to go to all of these, I only was able to make the free exhibits due to my budget. Next year though I am looking forward to trying to make the whole event. Since the registration for this event can be any where from $65 for a single day to $160 for all five days there a couple of ways to get into this event at a discounted rate or even for free.

Here are some options for those of you on a budget:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 52: Vegan Chocolate

     I was so shocked that my boyfriend was able to find me vegan chocolate at See’s Candy last week that I decided to look up more information on what See’s Candy products are vegan for further reference, but I couldn't find anything. So I decided to look into it further and email the company. 


        They unfortunately said that none of their main chocolate is vegan for it contains butter or milk, but I did get a list of some of their other non-chocolate as well as holiday products that are vegan:

  • Citrus Twists (Summer item)
  • Fancy Mixed Nuts
  • Hot Hearts (Valentine's Day item)
  • Jelly Bean Eggs (Easter item)
  • Licorice Medallions
  • Nonpareil Jelly Eggs (Easter item)
  • Orange Twists (Halloween item)
  • Peppermint Twists
  • Sour Bats (Halloween item)
  • Sour Bunnies (Easter item)
  • Sour Hearts (Valentine's Day item)
  • Sour Stars (Christmas item)
  • Sugar Sticks

    I found this information to be a bit of a bummer for I have always loved See's Candy, but I was still determined to find a list of what brands carry vegan chocolate. I then stumbled upon a great article on vegan chocolate that gave a list of brands that carry vegan chocolate as well as went on to talk about what exactly the difference is between vegan and non-vegan chocolate. 

     The aticle said that good quality chocolate has a higher chocolate content, pure ingredients, and no additives which makes the majority of high quality chocolate vegan. The ingredient lists on the back of high quality chocolate should be simple and might include cocoa, cocoa butter, lecithin, sugar, and sometimes vanilla but that's it. Other non-vegan, lower end chocolates, normally have a long list of ingredients with cheap fillers such as food starch, artificial flavoring, and can often contain milk, milk solids, or milk fat.


    There are plenty of chocolate bars that are "accidentally" vegan which means they aren't marked or labeled as vegan, but they contain no animal ingredients.

"Accidentally" Vegan Chocolate Brands:


     Other Vegan Chocolate Brands:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 51: Vegan Pesto

      I have always loved pesto, but up until now I would just buy it at the store and plop it into my pasta. Now that I have become vegan I realized that I can't do that anymore since most of the premade pesto sauces have parmesan cheese in it. So today I have decided to try and make my own pesto sauce from scratch.



    I took the basic recipe from the book "Living Among Meat Eaters" by Carol J. Adams, that I discussed on day 44, and tweaked it a bit. The pesto recipe was simple and easy to make, the only down size is the pine nuts tend to be a little bit expensive some times.


Pesto
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil
3 medium-large garlic cloves
1 cup of toasted pine nuts
2/3 cup olive oil
pinch of salt

    Step 1: Put all ingredients, except salt, in the food processor. process until creamy, but not completely smooth. Salt to taste.

    Step 2: Just before serving with pasta add little hot pasta water to awaken the flavors. Also since pesto sauce is only good for a few days, if you have more sauce than you need at the moment you can freeze it in an ice cube tray for further use.

(makes about 1 1/2 cups)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 50: Falafel Palace

      I work at my school newspaper, and  I stumbled across a great veg-friendly Greek restaurant, the Falafel Palace, who was interested in advertising with my school paper.


      The first thing that crossed my mind of course when visiting this restaurant was if they had any vegan options; for they were very well priced, with decent ambiance for such an inexpensive restaurant, and gave students a 10% discount! After telling the owners that I was vegan they informed me that half of their menu was vegan. I was ecstatic about finding another vegan restaurant in the area. They even gave me a taste of one of their falafel pita sandwiches to try. It was absolutely delicious. I can't believe I haven't heard of this place before.


             This business has actually been in Northridge since 1972, and has a well established clientele. The owners also let me know that they are currently working on a vegan menu as well. Right know they offer vegan falafel pita sandwiches, vegan Greek gyros, a vegetarian plate, and numerous salads. They even have an option to grill their falafel rather than fry if you are more health conscience. I know I will be coming back.

          If you are interested in knowing more about this restaurant check it out on Yelp.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 49: BBQ Tofu Sandwich

     After making all that spinach lasagna this weekend on day 46, I had a bunch of tofu left over in my fridge. I am a stickler about not letting anything go bad so today I decided to get creative and make up a new tofu heavy meal to use up all that extra tofu. Here is what I came up with.

 
  So basically I just scrambled tofu with barbecue sauce and added lettuce, onions, and pickles. I also decided to whip up a side of green beans, and diced baked potatoes. It was so simple and yet quite tasty.

BBQ Tofu Sandwich
1 Whole wheat roll
Firm tofu
Barbecue sauce
White onion
Lettuce
Pickles
Olive oil

    Step 1: Toast your whole wheat bun and layer the lettuce and dill pickles on top.

    Step 2: Scramble the firm tofu (mash it up into small pieces) in a frying pan and add mix in the barbecue sauce. Cook until warm, about 2 to 3 minutes. Once done add this to the next layer of your sandwich.

     Step 3: Lightly oil a frying pan with olive oil and saute the onions until golden brown. Once done add this to your sandwich and your ready to eat!

(Serves 1)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 48: "Earthlings"

      After hearing about "Earthlings", a documentary on the mistreatment of animals, through numerous sources I decided to check it out. While this documentary was very long and the music was  kind of hokey, I found it to be impacting than the short film "Meet you Meat" that I discussed on day 18. This film includes a far more in depth perspective on how we tend to treat animals. If you want the quick run down go with the quick ten minute film "Meet you Meat", but if you want to see it in a broader perspective, and have the time, I would advise checking out this film.


      The thing I found to be the most interesting thing about this movie is how the director starts the film out by comparing racism, sexism, and speciesism. Specisism is defined at dictionary.com as "discriminating in favor of one species, usually the human species, over another, especially in the exploitation or mistreatment of animals by humans". 

      They go on to break the movie into 4 basic categories:

1) Pets
     More often than not people will go to pet stores to get our household pets. Unfortunately many of these pet stores we tend to go to are often supplied by puppy mills. People also aren't always the most responsible owners and most shelter dogs are those given away by their own owners who have decided they don't want them any more. These animals often end up dying by injection or even by being put in a gas chamber.

2) Food
      For those of you who saw "Meet Your Meat" you have probably seen most of this footage. Although there is one clips that I found to be the most disturbing that was not in "Meet Your Meat" which was of a cow being slaughtered at a kosher slaughter house. This cow was rotated, had its throat slit so the blood sprayed violently, and once dumped the cows innards were falling out as it kicked and moaned in agony. 

3) Clothing
     This one hit home for me since I am going into fashion design and merchandising, where leather is a popular commodity. In this section they showed clips of how these leathers and furs are acquired for various types of clothing and accessories. The most common leather used is from sacred cows from India that have been sold under the belief that no harm will come to them. Unfortunately that is not the case. These cows are brutally injured on the way to slaughter. Often cows will have chili pepper rubbed into their eyes, or their tails broken to keep them moving. If you were ever a fan of animal fur commodities you wont be after watching this film. It shows many scarring scenes of animals being stripped of there skins while still conscious.

4) Entertainment
      And it doesn't stop there. Have you ever thought about how animals in the circus are trained to do the tricks they do, or why bulls buck like crazy in a rodeo? It is not because it is in there nature or that we have kindly coaxed them into doing it. It is because they are motivated by fear and pain. 

     If you would like to view this video for your self it is available for free at www.earthlings.com.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day 47: Garlic Spread

    Today I tried to recreate my aunts famous garlic spread. This simple recipe has been a family favorite at many of my family events. This time I decided to serve it spread on top of a whole wheat baguette that I picked up at Ralph's the other day.


Garlic Spread:
2 heads of garlic
Olive Oil

    Step 1: Cut off the top of the garlic just enough to show the garlic heads. Place each head on a piece of foil large enough to enclose the entire head of garlic. Pour a little bit of olive oil on top, before enclosing the whole thing in tin foil.

   Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast for about 45 minutes. When done you can scoop out a whole clove and serve it on bread or crackers. This is a great appetizer.



   Along with the garlic spread on whole wheat bread, I also had a great salad which consisted of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and olive marinara dressing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 46: Spinach Lasagna

     My boyfriend surprised my yesterday with a box of vegan chocolates from See's Candy, just because he felt like it. I know what you are all thinking, I am the luckiest girl in the world. He went on to tell me how he had to go through all the ingredients for each of the dark chocolates to find out which ones I would be able to eat. He was also surprised of how many types of dark chocolate have milk products in them, and informed me that the sales lady told him that a lot of vegans go to See's Candy because they are able to pick out some of their non-dairy chocolate. I thought that was interesting, and I hope all of you have someone as supportive of you in your life.


      Today I attempted to make vegan spinach lasagna recipe from the "Vegan Starter Kit" which I talked about on Day 16. This recipe uses tofu instead of ricotta cheese. I found it interesting how the recipe called for both firm and soft tofu blended together to achieve the same consistency of ricotta cheese. This recipe was simple and easy to make, but was absolutely scruptious. Try it out for yourself.



Spinach Lasagna


1/2 lb lasagna noodles
1 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb soft tofu
1 lb firm tofu
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp minced fresh basil
2 tsp. salt
4 cups tomato sauce

   Step 1: Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

   Step 2: Place the tofu, sugar, soy milk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil, and salt in the food processor or blender (I used an electric whisk for my blender was broken, and that worked as well). Once well blended stir in the spinach.

   Step 3: Cover the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish wish a thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles (this should be about three noodles or one-third of the noodles). Follow with half of the tofu filling. Continue in the same order, using half of the remaining tomato sauce and noodles and all of the remaining tofu filling. End with the remaining noodles, covered by the remaining tomato sauce.

   Step 4: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 45: Vegan Alcohol

    After talking to a waiter who introduced the idea of vegan alcohol, as well as a comment from one of my readers I have decided to do a little bit of research on the subject. I found this great article on vegan alcohol on the website "Your Vegan Guide" which went in to depth on the different types of animal products used when processing alcohol.


     The most common use of animal products in alcohol is the use of isinglass in the refinement process. Isinglass is a form of gelatin made up of internal membranes from tropical fish. Since Isinglass is not an ingredient in the alcohol, and is just used in the refining process, it isn't required to be listed on the ingredient label.

Beer:
   In beer isinglass is used to help clear the beer of cloudy yeast extractions. This method is primarily used in the process of cask conditioned beer. For those of you beer drinkers out there, don't fret, for it is possible for beers to be filtered with out the use of isinglass. Here is the long list of vegan beers from a website I found, which also has links verifying each of their claims.

Cider:
    Cider traditionally used egg whites or fresh slaughter house blood in the refining process of cider making, but dried blood is no longer used anymore. Now gelatin, which is the collagen inside animal bone, is used in the fining process instead.

Spirits:
     The good news here is that most spirits are vegan, although some campari contains cochineal as well as some whiskies and brandies may be conditioned in casks using a animal derived filtering process.

Wine:
    Wine for the most part are the most non-vegan friendly alcoholic beverages on average. Isinglass is often used in the fining process of various wines, and some red wines contain cochineal (also called carmine, cochineal, and carminin acid) which is red dye made out of crushed beetles. Many vegan red wines use beetroot powder to add color instead of cochineal, which I definitely think is the better way to go. Also don't be fooled by organic wine. Many organic wines are not vegan for they still are often fined using animal derived products.



     For those of you that are no wondering "what am I going to drink now", there is this wonderful site Barnivore that lists different types of vegan beer, wine, and liquor.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day 44: "Living Among Meat Eaters"

    Today I finished another one of Carol J. Adams great books; "Living Among Meat Eaters". The last book of hers I read, "Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat!", was more written towards parents coping with their children's new life style. This book "Living Among Meat Eaters" is great, for it is written for vegans and vegetarians who are learning how to deal with the "meat eaters" in their own life.


     If you want to know the reasons behind why people will go out of their way to make such a big deal about your change in diet, this is the book for you. Adams goes in depth about the various different types of responses many vegans/vegetarians get from "meat eaters", and how to go about dealing with them. In this book Adam also describes "meat eaters" as various different types of blocked vegetarians.

    Along with all the great advice on how to handle some of these sticky situations, in the back of the book Adams also includes a list of her favorite recipes. I decided to try her famous kale soup with a side of seasoned diced baked potatoes, since I had some extra kale in the fridge.


      This simple soup was absolutely amazing. It reminded me almost of the type of soup you might order at an ethnic Chinese restaurant. The kale was soft and tender like how cabbage is in most Asian soups. The vegetable broth and soy sauce gave it a warm salty taste that made me think of chicken noodle soup.

Kale Soup

3 cups of roughly chopped kale leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 (14-ounce) cans of vegetable broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce


    Step 1: In a large sauce pan or soup pot place the oil and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the onion and cook until it begins to brown; stirring occasionally.

   Step 2: When the onion is golden brown add the garlic and cook for approx. one minute before adding the broth. Bring the broth to a boil then lower the heat and add the soy sauce.

   Step 3: Add the kale to the broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

(Serves 3 to 4)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 43: Organic Black Bean Soup with Kale Chips

      For lunch today I had the southwestern style black bean soup, that I picked up from Vons. It consisted of black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, along with organic vegetables and cilantro. This ready made soup was quickly warmed up, and was spicy with a chunky consistency. It was definitely one of the better ready made soups that I have tasted. I also quickly whipped together some kale chips on the side, which I originally made on Day 36.


     Later this evening I treated myself to a vegan root beer float. Who knew there was such a thing! All I did was substitute the normal dairy based ice cream with soy ice cream, and voila I had a vegan root beer float on my hands.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 42: Vegan on a Budget

    After one whole month of being vegan, and experimenting with different foods, my grocery bill went up drastically. A lot of people say being vegan is too expensive, but in reality that is only partly true. This last month I have been transitioning from different foods and made quiet a few mistakes (buying food with animal products hidden in the ingredients list) as well as tried many different substitute products. Since I bought a lot of “faux-meats” and “faux-dairy” products which are normally pricier than meat products my bill went up exponentially, but the same would happen if you were a “meat eater “and bought a ton of meat and dairy.

     Substitute meat and dairy products, along with prepackaged food, are pretty much the only pricey vegan foods. There is plenty of healthy food you can buy that will fit into your budget.


    I found this great article on L.O.V.E. (Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation) with some tips on how to eat vegan for those of us that are on a budget, and decided to share it with you (as well as add a few things). Check out there website for more information on cheap meal plans and vegan recipes.

Here are some tips for those of us that are on a budget:

1) Cook if you have the facilities and the time
You can also freeze your leftovers for later, for most of us don’t have time to cook from scratch three times a day.

2) Read-made convenience foods
They cost more than cooking from scratch, but is cheaper than eating out

3) Limit the use of mock meats and other substitute foods
They can be more expensive than real meat and dairy

4) Shop in African, Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean markets
There produce and bulk products tend to be cheaper

5) Shop at Farmers Markets
There produce can sometimes be cheaper than grocery stores and it’s locally grown

6) Buy in bulk
I know what you are all thinking…Costco!

7) Beans, grain, and vegetables
Beans , rice, pasta, as well as many vegetables can be super cheap

8) Buy canned or frozen
Frozen is better for you since it doesn’t have as much preservatives and sodium as most canned products do. Also by having canned / frozen vegetables you won’t have to worry about them going bad.

9) Make a lot, eat leftovers
You can simply eat it for lunch the next day, or freeze it for later use

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 41: "A Diet For All Reasons"

     Today I found this amazing video called "A Diet For All Reasons" by Michael Kaplar, M.D. which summarizes really well the bulk of what I have learned so far in this challenge. If you have an hour to spare I advise you to check out this video for it is very clear and straight to the point on so many issues concerning a vegetarian or vegan life style. I know it is a little old, but the information is still valid and worth while.


    One of the most shocking thing I learned from this video, that I haven't heard before, is that fact that when you eat a lot of meat and dairy your blood actually becomes fatty. Dr. Klaper said in his video "If you feel greasy after eating this food, it is because you are! Your insides are greasy" He goes on to say that animal fat in the number one cause of disease and death in North America.

    Another interesting fact I learned about in this video was that there is such thing as too much protein. I had heard that before from other sources, but didn't know why until now. Dr. Klaper said that when you eat too much protein you are actually loosing calcium in your urine, which is one of the main causes of osteoporosis.

     If you would like to check out this video you can purchase it through Dr. Klaper's website or watch a lower grade version of it for free at http://www.viddler.com.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 40: Veggie Hot Dog with Onion Rings

     I swear since my roommate got our grill almost a year ago my boyfriend is still the only one who uses it and we have used it even less since I became vegan. Today was one of those rare occasions where we fired up the grill when my boyfriend and I decided to try veggie hot dogs.


     Our lunch consisted of veggie hot dogs on a whole wheat bun, with a side of onion rings and watermelon. While the hot dogs tasted ok, the consistency was kind of bizarre. The texture was that of a raw hot dog which unnerved me a bit. All I can say is if you decided to eat veggie hot dogs don't think of them as a hot dog substitute. It is still good, it just doesn't taste like a hot dog. The onion rings on they other hand turned out great! I wasn't sure at first, for the recipe seemed kind of weird, but I was pleasently surprised by these tangy homemade  onion rings.

Onion Rings


1 large white onion, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
1 cup of soy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/2 water
1 1/2 cup corn flake crumbs (can make with corn flake cereal)

    Step 1: In a large bowl mix the soy milk and lemon before tossing in the sliced onions. Make sure to coat all the onions with this mixture.

    Step 2: In a shallow bowl mix the flour, paprika, and salt. In another bowl mix the mustard and water until it is the consistency of a beaten egg. In a third bowl place the cornflake crumbs.

    Step 3: Take each soy milk coated onion ring and dredge in the flour bowl mixture, then dip it into the mustard batter, and last but not least the corn flakes.

    Step 4: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease the baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

(serves 2 to 3)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 39: Stuffed Pita Falafel Sandwich

     My boyfriend and I went to the store today to pick up some food for lunch, since his parent's house doesn't have much vegan friendly food. Today we decided to experiment with some new meat substitutes and picked up veggie falafel chickpea balls to stuff in pita bread along with some sauteed vegetables. We also found this new version of hummus that we hadn't tried before so we picked that up as well to smear in the inside of our pita falafel sandwiches.


     I wasn't to sure about the falafel balls at first but they were very filling and went great with the greek olive hummus we picked up at the store.



Stuffed Pita Falafel Sandwich

Falafel chickpea balls
Pita bread
Red bell pepper
Minced garlic
White Onion
Mushrooms
Hummus (we picked up a greek olive hummus)
Olive oil

    Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the falafel for 8 to 10 minutes.

    Step 2: While the falafel balls are cooking lightly oil a frying pan and saute the garlic, onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms until soft.

   Step 3: Cut the pita bread in half and gently open the center, before warming them up in the microwave.

   Step 4: Once everything is done coat the inside of the pita bread with hummus before stuffing them with the falafel balls and sauteed mixture. Once completely stuffed add a little bit more hummus on top and you are ready to eat!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 38: Oscar's Peruvian Dish

    Tonight my boyfriend made me a Peruvian inspired vegan dish with a side of rice and beans for dinner, which was amazing. He took the idea from a dish he had in Peru and changed it up a bit to make it vegan for me. I must say I am super lucky to have such a supportive boyfriend.


Oscar's Peruvian Dish

Cubed potatoes
Sliced carrots
Diced tomatoes
Green and red bell peppers
Olive oil
Minced garlic
White Onion
Salt

Sauce:
Cilantro
Green onions
Minced white onions
Green chili pepper
1 cup water

   Step 1: Chop up the cilantro, green onions, white onion, green chili pepper and toss in the blender. Add some water to make it smooth and blend well.

    Step 2: Lightly oil a frying pan and add some garlic and salt along with the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are golden brown. Once the potatoes are close to done add the onion, carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

    Step 3: When the vegetables are thoroughly cooked add the sauce and cook until warm. Serve immediately

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 37: Amy's Frozen Meals

    Normally every day when I make dinner I will make a bit extra to take for lunch the next day. This guarantees that I will be able to have a satisfying vegan lunch, rather than just packing the usual Pb&j sandwich. Unfortunately the other night I was out and about so I didn't have enough time to make my lunch for today. So instead I picked up a frozen vegan meal. Until recently I didn't know they were any decent frozen vegan meals available until I saw a few raving reviews on Amy's frozen prepackaged meals.



     Today I picked up Amy's organic black bean and vegetable enchilada for my lunch and it was way more than I hoped for. Back when I use to eat meat and dairy I use to take those little frozen Lean Cuisine meals to work, which were absolutely atrocious so I wasn't expecting much to say the least. After warming it up it looked like any other prepackage meal, but I was pleasantly surprised when I took a bite and found it tasted ten times better than it looked.

    Amy's is one of the best frozen meal options for vegetarians and vegans alike. While they do have some products with  animal products in it, they are prominently marked so you are sure to know what you are eating. Amy's is definitely a great brand for frozen vegan meals, but like any frozen meal be careful to not eat them too often for most have high quantities of sodium for the purpose of preserving there product.

For more information on Amy's products check out there website at www.amys.com.

   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 36: Kale Chips

    The cool thing about the library I got to is they have a freebie box where everyone can put there unwanted books or magazines, and every once and a while I find something good. Today I got lucky and picked up the "Competitor" which is a popular running magazine. Inside this particular issue they included a vegan recipe for kale chips, which I was excited to try.


    Tonight for dinner I took the left over pizza ingredients I had in the fridge and made a mini pizza on whole wheat pita bread. Along with my pizza I had made a side of kale chips, seasoned with just a little bit of olive oil and salt. Kale is one of those many super veggies that is high in antioxidants as well as various vitamins such as beta carotine, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and calcium.


    The kale tasted a little to much to me like brussels sprouts, but then again I didn't buy the right type of kale for the recipe either. I intrigued by the consistency, for I have never had salad chips before. I definitely would make it again, but I tweaked the recipe a little bit so it should turn out even better next time.

Kale Chips


1/3 cup of Olive Oil
Tuscan or Lacinato Kale, with the stems removed
Sea salt

Step 1: Rinse the kale before removing chunks of the leaf from the stem. Place the kale leaves on a baking sheet and brush both sides of it with olive oil. Then lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Step 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and let it cook for about 20 minutes until crisp.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 35: The Honey Debate

     This morning I had toast with earth balance "butter" and a little bit of honey, along with a side of fresh strawberries. I know that honey is normally an issue of debate for most vegans so I decided to do some research on it.


     Many vegans will not eat honey because they believe that honey bees are being mistreated and in some cases I guess they are. The two articles I read were "Why Honey is Not Vegan" by Noah Lewis and "Is Honey Vegan?" by Keith Akers.


Some of the key arguments against honey in the article "Why Honey is Not Vegan" are the following:

* When harvesting honey farmers are not just taking the excess honey but all of the it, which the bees normally use as food supply. In its place farmers feed them sugar syrup or corn syrup.

* It is also not environmentally friendly for farmers will move the bee hives in truck loads all around the country to follow the more plentiful nectar in order to increase honey production and profit.

* Many bees dye in the process of harvesting the honey. Also since 10 to 20 percent of hives are lost over the winter some bee keepers have the practice of killing off their hives before winter for economical purposes.

   While all these views are valid I also read another article "Is Honey Vegan?" which summarized "Why Honey is Vegan" by Dr. Michael Greger in Satya in September 2005. In that article Dr. Greger said vegans should rethink their position on honey.


The reasons he stated were:

1) Abstaining from honey because of the concern for insects is not consistent since other activities and products consumed by vegans kills more insects than beekeeping.  
 
       - An example of this would be that there are many rental bees are used to pollinate all the vegetable crops we eat and have a worse off life than honey bees. Rental bees spend the majority of there lives sealed in the back of trucks, while being shipped across the country on a diet of high fructose corn syrup.

2) He also compared how while some honey bees are killed in the process they aren't even necessarily directly killed by humans. They could have been swashed in the process, but we are normally not actively trying to kill them. On the other hand factory farmed egg-laying chickens are being killed by humans when they no longer are able to produce.

3) Once again in comparison factory farmed chickens live in horrible conditions while honey bees live a relatively natural life.

    After reading both positions I came to the conclusion that I would not buy commercialized honey from my nearby grocery store. Instead I would purchase it from bee keepers at farmers markets or people I know. The honey I used in my breakfast was actually from my own brother's bee hive and he has never mistreated them so don't see what would be the problem with using that particular honey? I understand why vegans wouldn't want to consume honey from companies who kill them off in the winter and such, but what is wrong with a local beekeeper's honey?

    For those of you who are die hard vegans, but love the consistency of honey, there are also substitutes products out there that mimics honey.

Day 34: Fourth of July Barbecue

     One of the hardest things about being vegan is going to friend's and family's houses to eat; whether it be a potluck or family dinner. Today I was faced with the challenge of eating vegan food at fourth of July barbecue. Since it was at the beach everyone was bringing hamburgers, s'mores, and so on. Being a potluck I decided to make the Greek Salad with Tofu (instead of feta cheese) which I had made on Day 10, as well as my own veggi burger so that I may have hamburgers with every one else. I also learned that when attending these social events it is always good to call ahead and ask the hostess what you can bring, even if it isn't a potluck, so you can guarantee you will have something to eat.


    I was pretty lucky at this event for they were only a few things I couldn't eat. Along with the salad and veggie burger I brought there was also tons of watermelon, and pretzels so I had more than enough to eat. I was a little disappointed though that some of my friends wouldn't even try my Greek salad for it had tofu in it. Next time I will try to avoid telling them it is "vegan" and if there is tofu in it for texture reasons I will not tell them (unless they have a soy allergy of course)  for people tend to avoid food with those labels.One of my friends even said "we need to get some real food". I can't stand when people say that. I mean what isn't real about a Greek salad filled with olives, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and tofu? Does only things with meat and cheese qualify as "real food"? But in the end I just decided if they didn't try any than there is just more for me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 33: Soy Ice Cream with Vegan Cookies

     For dessert this evening my boyfriend and I decided to try a new flavor of soy ice cream. We picked up the only other option besides black cherry at Trader Joe's, which was vanilla soy. Since vanilla always seems kind of bland on its own we also picked up some vegan chocolate chips cookies and chocolate syrup.


     The ice cream tasted even better than the vanilla bean ice cream I use to get, and with the warmed up cookies and chocolate is was to die for.


Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream


2 scoops of soy vanilla ice cream
Chocolate syrup (preferably without high fructose corn syrup)
2 vegan chocolate chip cookies

    Step 1:  Warm up the cookies in the microwave for about 30 seconds until soft.

    Step 2: Place one cookie at the bottom of the bowl before adding two scoops of ice cream on top.

    Step 3: Put the last cookie on the side of the dish and then generously add chocolate syrup on top.

Pretty much self explanatory....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Day 32: Stuffed Bell Peppers

     For lunch today I attempted to recreate the delicious stuffed bell peppers I had at Bob Marley's on Day 22 with a side of green beans. I played the recipe by ear, adding and subtracting a few ingredients.




    While the bell peppers were delicious they still needed to be cooked a little more thoroughly so I slightly altered my recipe for you guys. Let me know what you think.

Stuffed Bell Peppers


2 green bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Black beans
Rice
Minced mushrooms
Minced onion
Spinach
Tomato sauce

    Step 1: Cook the rice and beans. In another pan warm up the olive oil with the garlic before adding the onions. Caramelize the onions and add the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have shrunk add the spinach and cook until warm.

    Step 2: Cut the top off of the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds. Mix the rice and bean mixture with other mixture before stuffing the peppers. Top the bell peppers with tomato sauce.

    Step 3: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cook for 15 minutes until the bell peppers are soft.

(Serves: 2)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 31: Vitamins and Omega-3

   Every day since I started this challenge I have been taking a multivitamin to cover all my bases, and flax seed oil which is a good source of omega-3.


     A lot of people take fish oil to get their omega-3 if they don’t eat a lot of fish on a regular basis, but unfortunately it has a fishy after taste. Most people think you can only get efficient quantities of omega-3 from fish, but that is not the case for those fish get their omega-3 from the food they ingest. 
    
     Being vegan fish oil is out of the question and have found the after taste to be appalling. Instead I decided to take flax seed which you can take in a capsule form like fish oil. It also comes in the form of whole seeds, ground seeds, and oil depending on your particular need. If you chose some other form besides the capsules you can mix it in with your food or even use it as an egg replacer with a little bit of water.

For more information check out "The Benefits of Flax Seed"