Sunday, December 23, 2007
Peter and Jim delve into the kitchens of 3 families. A family eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), The "conscientious" omnivore and a vegan family. They spend a day in the life of each family, delve into their shopping baskets and then even farther to where exactly the food comes from that each family buys. It's an incredibly insightful look into how our food choices affect a large global conscientious and how the little things we do each day have such a big effect. More importantly it empowers the reader to know exactly where their food comes from and what all the labels and claims such as "all natural" and "free range" really mean.
At the end of the book it became clear to me that being vegan was more than just a healthy or ethical choice but a vote that I am making to corporations, elected officials, and so on about what I do and don't like and what I will and won't accept. I've sworn off a lot of companies that pose an ethical dilemma for me and do my best to support local, organic, ethical and vegan companies and individuals whenever possible.
The Way We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason is a must read for anyone who eats, it's even on audiobook if you don't have time to read it.
And that, my friends. Is HOW TO MAKE A VEGAN!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
One day, in the middle of one of my “I hate omni’s” moods while looking up some vegan cookbooks I came across Vegan Freak by Bob & Jenna Torres. The book summary made it seem like an all encompassing guide on how to maintain sanity in a non-vegan world. The books is that and more. I became a vegan for health reasons and although I was always taught that animal cruelty was wrong I never really thought of it in terms of the animals that are raised for human consumption. Vegan Freak made the connection for me. How could I be completely and totally against animal cruelty and at the same time support, in anyway, the factory farming industry? I couldn’t, and from the day I turned the last page of this book I was not only a vegan but an ethical vegan.
Bob & Jenna also take a realistic view of everyday vegan issues. They anticipate the questions of a new vegan and pretty much cover the majority of them. My big question was, “What do I do with all this leather stuff I have, including my couches, loveseats, etc.?” Bob & Jenna already had the answer. Transition slowly and when you can. So when I say I’m vegan and the vegan police do their “leather scan” I’m no longer afraid (mostly because I’m probably wearing pleather).
My favorite parts of the book: Perfection & the Vegan Police, Speciesism, and basically all of Chapter 3 (titled “Hell is Other People”)
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
It’s definitely a recipe for people who love to cook, it has a lot of moving parts but it also was my confirmation that vegan food is good food not just tofu in a box. I’ve subsequently bought all of Isa’s books and still lean on her forum’s for support when I need it (ok, I’m on them everyday, I’m addicted!)
You can also watch her show, The Post Punk Kitchen on the website or from Isa’s myspace page. Other highlights of the PPK are: vegan ice cream (ridiculously easy), vegan sushi, and of course there’s a blog on the PPK too.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
This is where it really all began in a little juice & smoothie shop in East Point, GA. There was a sign hanging in the window for fasting classes with Arden Zinn the namesake of Arden’s Garden. Arden’s fasting classes came highly recommended to me and so I thought “why not, I’ll give it a try”, never knowing the experience would change my life.
July 8th, the night before my first fasting class. I had no idea what to prepare for. I thought I’d be starving for the next 21 days. One thing I knew for certain was that I wouldn’t taste my beloved cheese for almost a month. So my last meal that night was Cheese Enchiladas, my all time favorite dish. The next morning I met with Arden and 2 other eager soon-to-be-fasters.
After I told Arden that my last meal was Cheese Enchiladas she said this “Milk is not for humans. Cow Milk is to grow calves into 2,000 pound cows.” I don’t know what it was about her statement but it immediately resonated with me. After 21 days of juice and raw foods fasting with Arden my allergies to mold, cats and dogs disappeared, it was so unbelievable that I had it confirmed by an allergist by skin allergy testing to be sure they were really gone. All my life I suffered with allergies to a variety things and I had been on every allergy medication every made. My allergist shared with me that he believed my recovery from my allergies was because I’d cleansed my body of dairy products, which can throw off the immune system creating allergic responses to seemingly normal things around us. That solidified my decision, I was now a vegan.
Arden’s Garden is a local fresh juices and smoothie shop with 5 locations throughout the Atlanta area. All their juices are made from freshly pressed fruits and vegetables and their smoothies are all natural just fresh fruit juice and your choice of fruit. Learn more at http://www.ardensgarden.com/
I thank you Arden for being a powerful mentor, friend and guide to my journey for better health and the best quality of life available to us all!
My next 4 blogs will be homage’s to all the things that have made me into the happy and healthy vegan I am today.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
These "spareribs" are 100% omnivore and herbivore approved (hence a perfect dish to introduce your omni friends to the wonderful of Vegan!). They have a sweet citrus flavor that is at the same time spicy. And the plum vinegar sauce...there just are no words. Not only that but the texture is perfect and it cooks very quickly on the stove top, the oven (or toaster oven) and microwave.
On the back of the box it says that this is VegeUSA's best selling dish, and there is no doubt in my mind why. The taste and texture are amazing and the ingredients are simple and uncomplicated with no high fructose corn syrup in sight. If you're grocery store or co-op doesn't carry these you need to demand them immediately.
If you happen to be in the area try Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe (672 Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30312). They have this, the Black Pepper Steak (a little too close to the real thing for me), and Orange Chicken (not my favorite but will do in a pinch). Some Asian grocers will also carry this brand but make sure it's vegan, VegeUSA has a vegan and a vegetarian line.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The recipe that first caught my eye is for Aloha Chicken Kebabs. I veganized the recipe easily with chicken flavored seitan. The recipe alone lacked that "aloha" flavor I was looking for so I created a sweet pineapple-sweet potato sauce out of the left over puree's I had. The combination is perfect. I also left out the kebab part of this recipe, it really wasn't necessary but if you happen to have some wooden skewers hanging around feel free to add them. Try it out and let me know what you think.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I taste tested Cheezly straight out of the package, in a loaded baked potato soup and in cheese enchiladas. By itself it was surprisingly good. The texture is perfect, it's not soggy or wet (like other meltable cheeses) and it is true to the flavor it represents. My omni friend even tried it more than once and he didn't go running for the hills so that's a good sign. In the other two recipes it was definitely good but, the flavor didn't really stand out. Frankly, this had more to do with the flavor of Cheezly I used (mature white cheddar) rather than the product itself. I really wish that the traditional cheddar flavors were available in the U.S. The white cheddar was delicious but it had a very subtle flavor that I wish was a bit more bold. But the white cheddar would go perfect for a panini or even mixed with other faux cheeses in a man & cheese dish or casserole. The mozzarella was dead on and perfect! I'm actually going to order some more and try my hand at making mozzarella sticks.
Not only are the flavors spot on but Cheezly melts like real cheese as well. If you've ever used Follow Your Heart brand melting cheese then I would use the same guidelines with Cheezly when baking - always bake at 450 degrees and give it a couple minutes under the broiler if it doesn't completely melt. In my loaded potato soup, it melted immediately but still left little pieces for me to get a burst of flavor as well, just like real cheese.
So if you're going to shell out $7-8 (plus shipping and handling) I would say go for Cheezly. If you're looking for a more bold cheddar flavor then you might want to stick to Sheese or even Follow Your Heart's cheddar flavor for now until Cheezly's version becomes available in the U.S. But if you know of anyone smuggling cheddar Cheezly across the pond let me know! :)
Friday, November 2, 2007
After doing some research on happycow.net I discovered that there are a fair amount of restaurants and bakeries that cater to vegans in the area. Literally, the moment I got off the plane I asked my mom if we could go to Little Peking (7975 N. Cedar Ave, Fresno, CA) because I heard they had vegan orange chicken and I just had to try it (my exact words).
Walking into the restaurant I could tell my mother was a bit wary. It's a humble and simple restaurant with not too many frills. But what they lack in decor they fully make up for in food and service. The extensive vegetarian/vegan menu had over 30 options (some do contain eggs but the staff at Little Peking will help you identify what's what).
The food was extremely inexpensive (my orange chicken dish was only $5.95) and the taste was phenomenal! After having a bite of my veggie orange chicken my mother immediately lost interest in her real sesame chicken and we ended up ordering another veggie orange chicken to-go as well as a vegan version of the sesame chicken my mom had been eating earlier (they were also very flexible about letting us add more veggies instead of steamed rice to our meal at no additional charge).
Later on that night, my hardcore meat & potatoes father had a plate full of the veggie orange chicken and proclaimed it a success as well. So from one vegan and two life long omnivores it can be said, without a doubt, that Little Peking is a must try.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
True enough, it's not the healthiest thing in the world, but no one is saying that you should eat fried food dipped in a sugary sauce every day (unless you're feeling hormonal and then you have free license to do what you please!).
I would only make two small modifications to this recipe: double the sauce and double the amount of egg replacer. The directions were a bit vague on how long you should cook the sauce so I prepped all my ingredients ahead of time (the day ahead actually) and made the sauce at the same time I fried the tofu and let it cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally. I also recommend that you freeze your tofu ahead of time to give it a better texture.
To make this recipe a little more healthy I plan on trying this recipe with half the tofu and adding a ton of vegetables or just omitting the tofu all together and using the sauce for a vegetable stir-fry.
Without futher ado here's the recipe:
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
From the moment I bought my ticket to travel down to the Hampton Roads area I’d been researching the restaurant options in Norfolk. After all, it is the home of PETA so I expected nothing short of spectacular vegan dishes that I’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. I ran across the menu for Amalfi and I immediately knew this restaurant was "the one". I think that Amalfi and I just might be soul mates! (If restaurants had souls of course).
Amalfi offers an array of options that I have seen nowhere else. Vegan versions of Chicken Marsala, Fettuccine Alfredo, Chicken & Vegetable Panini, and Roasted Vegetable Risotto just to name a few. Since I'm usually only in the area for homecomings I knew it would be awhile before I was back again so I chose a dish that I loved from my first bite as a child and hadn't had in over 2 years: fettuccine alfredo.
Let me start by saying that once I ordered, my dish was out in record time. I barely had time to read more than 2 pages in my book (The Way We Eat: Why our food choice matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason just in case you were wondering). I immediately dived into the fettuccine and it was superb! A perfect marriage of cream, butter and cheeses. But, of course, the best part was that there wasn’t any real cream, butter or cheese in sight (and somewhere in the Midwest a dairy cow is breathing a sigh of relief. lol.)
The portion sizes were extremely generous and I’m embarrassed to say as I’m writing this blog from the Newport news airport I’m digging into this amazing alfredo cold and it’s still delicious. And although I’m not a huge fan of chocolate ( I know, I know I’m the only woman on Earth who isn’t fanatical about chocolate) their chocolate cheesecake is also a MUST HAVE.
If you’re in the Hampton roads area or if you’re ever even kind of close to Virginia I highly recommend Amalfi Ristorante. It is worth the gas, plane or train ticket - I promise.
To check out Amalfi Ristorante and their menu go to their website at http://amalfiristorante.net/index.html
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
For the last 3 weeks I’ve been working out like a maniac and eating like the perfect vegan in preparation for my 5 year reunion homecoming this upcoming weekend at Hampton University. But after sitting in a nutrition class for 3 hours I came home starving and all I wanted was mac & cheese and French fries.
Lucky for me I already prepared for such a moment. I had one lonely little russet potato and a box of Road’s End Organics Dairy Free Shells & Chreese tucked away in my pantry. At the beginning of my vegan experience I tried their dairy free Fettuccine Alfredo and it made me swear off of boxed foods forever. In a moment of weakness I picked up these Shells & Chreese and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting bland and boring but what I got was a subtle yet delicious flavor. It reminded me of a toned down (much quicker) version of The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook’s Mac & “Cheese” Casserole.
I made a couple modifications to turn up the subtleness of flavor in this dish and make it stand out. I added about 1 tablespoon margarine, and although I don’t usually add salt to things just a pinch of salt really made this dish phenomenal. Next time I might even add another tablespoon or two of soy milk.
With these little modifications you have a great side dish (or main dish if you’re being bad). Now that I think about it, I’m going to go have second helpings right now!
Monday, October 15, 2007
On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s this weekend I came across their version of these enchiladas and they were equally fantastic and much cheaper. If you happen to have a Trader Joe’s near you I recommend stopping by and trying their enchiladas as well.
Ahhhh yes, the enchiladas are back!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
From my internet research I'd already heard a lot about Karyn's other restaurant, Karyn's Raw, and it seemed absolutely delicious so I had to try Karyn's cooked. The reviews online were all pretty mixed but what was standard throughout every online review I read was that the service was 300% horrible so I opted for take out to avoid that issue. I can offer you this tip, it does seem like they are a lot faster with their take out orders than their dine in my food was ready in about 10 minutes.
As far as the food goes it was unimaginative, and at times unpalatable. Since the reviews were mixed on the food I decided to keep it simple and order the basics, but some of the sides and desserts I just couldn't resist so I got a little bit of everything. Let's start with the vegan cheeseburger. No real complaints with this one except for the fact that it was CLEARLY a Boca burger. I would expect this from a chain restaurant that doesn't cater to vegans but not from a vegan restaurant. So this was disappointment #1. Next came the bland coleslaw which was basically just cabbage and nayonaisse, disappointment #2.
So at this point I'm getting frustrated but then i remember I have mac & cheese, collard greens and carrot cake left to eat so i dive in! Vegan mac and cheese is a rare treat and I was unbelievably excited to taste Karyn's version. The trouble was that there was only macaroni noodles in the container, i couldn't even catch a hint of anything that seemed like it could be construed as a sauce, let alone a cheese sauce. Disappointment #3. The collard greens were good, so no complaints there and the carrot cake was decent as well, so I didn't completely waste all my hard earned money. I looked in the bottom of the bag and remembered I'd also ordered the cornbread as well. I took one bite and immediately spit it out, and not even like a cute dainty lady like spit into the napkin move, I just spit it out into the nearest trash can, plate or surface available. It tasted like the list of ingredients for the cornbread were as follows: sawdust, cornmeal, flour, water. In that order. I now see why they serve alcohol, you've got to be 6 steps beyond drunk to enjoy most of the food on their menu.
Nonetheless, next time I'm in Chicago I'll still stop by Karyn's Raw and give it a try. And from reading the other online reviews it seems like the lasagna might be worth giving Karyn's Cooked a second try. To find out what other people are saying about Karyn's Cooked check out the links below:
Monday, October 8, 2007
Galaxy Nutritional Foods makes two of my favorite faux cheese slices. I use these for sandwiches they go great with a tuna tempeh sandwich or faux chicken salad sandwich. But they do not melt so don't rely on these babies to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Both the mozzarella and the American slices are amazing. I'm fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods and a Vegetarian co-op in my city but if you're local health food store doesn't carry them these perfect slices are available online too. My favorite website http://www.veganessentials.com/
Last but not least there is Cheezly. Cheezly has created more buzz than Beanie Babies in the 90's. Veganessentials.com and Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe both carry Cheezly in the U.S. and it is in incredibly high demand. I've actually been reading about this on blogs for over a year now and everyone in the UK claims it is the best. I've been on the waiting list to get this stuff for months (I feel like such a groupie) so if you've tried it let me know what you think and let me know if it's worth the $7-8 price tag as well (not to mention shipping and handling). UPDATE: Check out the new review of Cheezly here.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Ok, back to Organicville's Dairy Free Ranch Dressing. I was jumping in the aisles of the grocery store (literally) when I saw this. I picked up my $4 bottle of salad dressing and ran and picked up every type of lettuce and salad topping you could imagine. I got home, made my perfect salad, turned on my tivo and took a bite. DISAPPOINTMENT! It was like a vinegar/soy milk combo. I checked out the website and there are a lot of great testimonials so I'm willing to give their other dressings a try but as for the ranch I recommend just googling a vegan ranch recipe and trying that one. In fact, here's one I googled. I'll try it and let you know how it goes...
Vegan Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk
For the nutrition info check out http://www.recipezaar.com/132916