A Sexy Salad for The Big Night

13 02 2012

Well, it’s time for the big Valentine’s romantic meal, and lots of people are making reservations for gourmet restaurant feasts. They will dine on oysters and steak, cream doused pastas, and then a big chocolate dessert, all accompanied by plenty of alcohol. Then, if they are lucky, they will head home to pursue romance in the bedroom.

Unfortunately, that big, heavy meal and all that alcohol will probably only hinder their activities. In fact, they may find themselves slipping into a sugar coma before they even get started.

So my advice to you, if you want to get lucky on Valentines, and all year long, is eat a light meal of plant-based aphrodisiac foods.

These foods, unlike their sat-fat laden alternatives, actually nourish the sexual systems. Believe it or not, guys who eat right don’t need Viagra. In fact viagra was inspired by a chemical that you can get from a good diet, nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is made in the body from l-arginine, and it has the unique ability to relax the blood vessels. It’s really good for circulation and heart health in general, but that particular action is helpful for the now famous ED, or erectile dysfunction. L-arginine is high in meats, but also in beans, nuts and seeds.

That’s right, the natural foods version of viagra is right there in a healthy pantry. OK, viagra is an amped up version that works right away, while the one you get from food needs to be a part of your diet daily to make a difference. And why not? The plant foods that contain l-arginine are delicious, and healthy for you in so many ways.You can also buy it in supplement form, if you want to make sure you are taking care of your circulation.

If thinking about sex will get the dudes to eat nutrition all-stars, then so be it, bring on the sexy stuff.

So, for a pre-romance meal, try this sexy salad.

A few handfuls of Arugala provides a peppery, mineral rich base, that has long been considered an aphrodisiac.

Sprinkle on some cooked black beans, rich in l-arginine, which converts to nitric acid, the blood vessel relaxing compound that inspired the invention of Viagra.

Top that with sliced avocado, which replenishes your good fats, potassium and vitamin E that helps produce hormones for keeping things flowing.

A few sliced cherry tomatoes, or “pomme d’amour” as the French used to call it, boost your vitamin c and the lycopene needed for prostate health.

A drizzling of a nut or seed oil amps up the Omega 3 fats for your heart and necessary good circulation, as well as more hormone production.

Top that with a generous sprinkling of sunflower seeds, which pack plenty of zinc that men need for sexual health.

Squeeze a lime over the pile and shower it with minced red chiles, which raise your metabolism and warm your lips in a provocative way.

A sprinkling of coarse salt and some cracked black pepper is all you need.

Save the dessert for after the romance. You’ll have earned a treat.





The Latest Numbers on Meatless Eating-Yes, It Is Growing

12 12 2011

Chopped Salad with Thousand Island, Big Vegan Style

For much of my life, I liked believing that there were lots of vegetarians out there. I wanted to believe that our numbers were swelling exponentially, every day. Even when I was the only vegetarian I knew, I held out hope that if I got in a car and drove far enough, I would get to some veggie nirvana. Back then, we didn’t really have any numbers, and anyone you talked to was stuck with their own experiences. If you worked in a Coop or a vegetarian restaurant, you might think half the world were vegetarians. If you lived in a small town in the Midwest, you might not know a single one.

Well, thanks to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) we have numbers. If you have been feeling like vegans are getting some attention lately, well, their numbers have doubled since 2009. Extrapolating from the results, 7.5 million people call themselves vegans. There are 15 million people who call themselves vegetarians, and still eat dairy and eggs .

In the latest poll, done by Harris Interactive for VRG over the phone, between March 30 and April 3 2011, it becomes clear that even as the numbers for dedicated vegetarians and vegans grow slowly, the numbers for people who eat vegetarian often are growing much more quickly.

These numbers show a real mainstreaming of the idea that you can enjoy meatless meals, even if you love meat. Basically, 17% of Americans don’t eat meat, fish poultry at many meals but less than half, 16% more than half. That adds up to about a third of the American population opting for meatless some of the time.

The number that said that they eat meat at every meal was 48%, which is still a little scary, since that is a lot of animal foods for anyone to consume. I didn’t think anybody was still eating it at every single meal, which shows how much I know.

Other interesting results confirm a few things that you may have suspected. There are more vegetarians out West (think California) than down South (think Texas,) and more women than men are vegetarians, but not by much. A hopeful number is that equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats are veg-heads, possibly the only thing the two parties can share, these days.

So, after all these years in the vegetarian movement, it’s nice to hear that our numbers are growing. Every little bit helps, and we have to give credit to everyone who has done her part to build awareness and make veg look appealing and do-able. From the animal rights activists, to the chefs and authors, to the hot celebrities who endorse a plant-based diet as they look great on the red carpet, everybody has a role to play. Powerful books and films have been getting the word out, and people like Bill Clinton have put a face on the miraculous cure of a good diet. Campaigns like Meatless Mondays have helped put the veggie option in front of millions of people, and many of them are choosing to go that way, at least some of the time.

So, be of good cheer, in this season of giving, since we give the world a present every time we don’t eat meat. Our message is getting out, my friends, and that is something to celebrate.





Thanksgiving is Almost Here, Bring a Big Salad!

20 11 2011

The Pepitas and Pomegranates Make it Pop!

The big day is almost here. If you have already been testing and planning, you’ve been sampling some festive fare. If you put the whole thing off for the last minute, well, you still have time. We’ve shared (virtually) some Roasted Sweet Potato Fries with Peanut Sauce, Wild Rice, Apple and Walnut Stuffing, and maple-Dijon Glazed Brussels Sprouts.

Today, it’s time to talk Turkey.

Homemade Mock Turkey Roast with Stuffing

For those of you who miss the turkey on holidays, or just want a home-style vegan meal anytime, this is a good way to mock up a bird. It’s really not much trouble, now that we can use gluten flour to make mock turkey with no kneading required—and lots of tasty, chewy goodness. Serve it with Basic Mushroom Gravy and all the traditional trimmings.

It’s great fun to share your vegan food with family and friends, so go for it. The salad will certainly win some converts. Enjoy!

Mock Turkey

2          tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½         cup/60 g minced onion

2          cloves garlic, minced

2          cups/255 g gluten flour

1          cup/115 g chickpea flour

½         cup nutritional yeast

1          tsp salt

6          oz/170 g reduced-fat or regular firm tofu, drained and pressed

1          cup/240 ml vegetable stock

¼         cup/60 ml tamari

½         tsp ground sage

Stuffing

1          cup/55 g cubed bread

1          tsp extra-virgin olive oil

½         cup/60 g chopped onion

¼         cup/60 ml vegetable stock

½         tsp ground sage

½         tsp dried thyme

½         tsp salt

2          tbsp walnuts, chopped

The Mock Turkey in a Wide Loaf Shape

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C/gas 4. Oil a 3- to 4-cup/720 to 960-ml metal bowl or a small loaf pan. Put a teapot of water on to simmer for the bain marie later.

2. To make the mock turkey: In a small sauté/frying pan, heat the oil, then sauté the onion and garlic until soft and sweet, 5 to 10 minutes. Mix together the flours, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the tofu until very smooth. Add the stock, tamari, and sageto the tofu and blend. Add the onions and all the oil from the pan and puree. Stir the contents of the blender into the flour mixture until smooth. Scoop about two thirds of the dough into the oiled bowl.

3. To make the stuffing: Put the bread cubes in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a small sauté/frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until soft and clear. Add the bread, stock, sage, thyme, and salt and stir until the bread is soft. Stir in the nuts.

4. Press the stuffing into a ball (or if you are using a loaf pan, into an oblong) and press it into the center of the mock turkey dough, then cover it with the remaining dough. Flatten the top, brush it with oil, and cover with foil. Put the bowl in a baking dish and pour in boiling water to make a bain marie. Carefully transfer it to the oven and bake for 2 hours. When the “turkey” is quite firm, take it out of the water bath, then put the bowl on a rack to cool. Run a paring knife around the edge to loosen it, then invert it onto a cutting board or platter. Slice the “turkey” and serve it with gravy and trimmings.

Big Salad with Caramelized Pumpkinseeds, Pears and Pomegranate

From The New Vegetarian (Chronicle Books)

Serves 6
This is a great wintertime salad, with the pomegranates that only appear around the holidays and pears and pumpkinseeds. Vegans can just leave out the cheese and enjoy the crunchy spiced seeds instead. To take seeds out of the pomegranate, cut through the skin from stem to tip, dividing the fruit in quarters. Hold it over a bowl and pull apart the sections, then tear apart the pieces, gently freeing the seeds.

Score the skin in quarters, then break open

1 cup pumpkinseeds, raw
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large romaine lettuce, washed and dried
2 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 large bosc pears, sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh mint, optional
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice concentrate
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted pumpkinseed oil
1 small pomegranate, arils (seeds) removed

the pith around the arils floats in water....

1. Make the pumpkinseed topping up to a week ahead. Heat the oil for a minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkinseeds and toss in the pan over high heat, until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful-it will burn easily). Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. Cool completely and store in an air tight container until ready to use.
2. Make dressing in processor by mincing garlic and mint. Add pomegranate concentrate, lemon, honey and salt and pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in oil with machine running.
3. Wash and dry romaine, then slice across the leaf in 1/2 inch wide strips. Arrange on plates or in bowl. Top with shallots, pears and cheese. Drizzle over the dressing and top with the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Serve right away.





Dinner and Dessert at the Big Vegan Potluck!

1 11 2011
Take the Tour, Comment to Win

Well, dear reader, it’s week three, and time for some totally satisfying, delicious vegan main courses and yes, DESSERT!

Welcome to the party a new wave of talented visiting chefs, all of whom bring the magic mojo to their kitchens all across America.

This week, each of the new posts has a FREE BOOK to give away, if you post the winning comment. I am still giving away a book here, so comment by the end of the week and you will be in the running for a FREE BOOK!.

For even more fun, tomorrow you can visit the Chronicle Books website, where I will be guest blogging about the potluck, and the wonderful staff at Chronicle will have posted their own in-house potluck results, for Big Vegan fun ala San Francisco.

Eating plant-based was never so fun, with all these lovely bloggers who have taken the time to post photos and articles. It’s truly a Big Vegan feast, served in bits and bytes.

DAY 3:

Green and Red Spaghetti

Sandra Gutierrez

http://www.sandraskitchenstudio.com/

Bengali Curry of Cauliflower and Kidney Beans

Robin Robertson

http://veganplanet.blogspot.com/2011/11/big-vegan-virtual-potluck.html

Spanish Chickpea Fritters

Julie Hasson

http://www.juliehasson.com/2011/11/big-vegan/

New Potato Rendang with Green Beans

Pat Tanumihardja

http://theasiangrandmotherscookbook.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/rendang-recipe/

Sundried Tomato-Kale Calzones AND

Pumpkin Cherry Bundt Cake

Leinana Two Moons

http://vegangoodthings.blogspot.com/2011/11/double-big-vegan-whammy-calzones-cake.html

Peanut Butter Tart with “Ganache”

Tara Desmond

http://crumbsonmykeyboard.com/2011/11/01/call-it-what-it-is-peanut-butter-tart-with-ganache-recipe/

DAY ONE:

Baguette French Toast Stuffed with “Cream Cheese” and Topped with Apples

Leinana Two Moons

Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

Maple Barley Granola with Pecans

Robin Asbell

DAY TWO:

Mango-Jícama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas    

Susan Russo

http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/2011/10/cookbook-review-big-vegan-by-robin.html

Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice

Bryanna Clark Grogan

http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/10/big-vegan-potluck-day-2-armenian-lentil.html

Korean Miso-Tofu Soup

Nancie McDermott

http://nanciemcdermott.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/big-vegan-potluck-with-korean-miso-tofu-soup/

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa

Jill Nussinow

http://www.theveggiequeen.com/blog/

Please read, comment, and take a moment to scroll through these wonderful blogs. Every one of these writers has great articles, recipes, and books that might just make you a regular reader.

Follow them all on twitter, too. This week we have twitterers Julie Hasson  @everydaydish, @TaraMDesmond, Sandra Gutierrez @sandralatinista, Robin Robertson @globalvegan, and Leinanan Two Moons @vegangoodthings.

Week two’s writers  twitter handles are Susan Russo @foodblogga, Bryanna Clark Grogan @veganfeaster, Nancie McDermott @nanciemac, and Jill Nussinow @theveggiequeen.

Week one’s are Caron Golden @carondg and Leinana Two Moons@vegangoodthings, and of course, me, @robinasbell.

Don’t forget to comment on all the posts if you want to win a copy of Big Vegan. If you are a twitter user, you can also tweet why you go vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan by midnight November 4 to enter to win a copy.





Big Vegan Virtual Potluck Week 2-Visit all the Stops for Vegan Recipes and Fun!

25 10 2011

Take the Tour, Comment to Win

Drumroll please, or maybe we should ring a virtual dinner bell. Today kicks off phase two of the Big Vegan virtual potluck. Thanks to a very talented group of bloggers, my new book, Big Vegan, is getting a web-wide showcase. Last week, three of us made breakfast.

Baguette French Toast Stuffed with “Cream Cheese” and Topped with Apples

Leinana Two Moons

Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

Maple Barley Granola with Pecans

Robin Asbell

Don’t forget to comment on all the posts if you want to win a copy of Big Vegan. If you are a twitter user, you can also tweet why you go vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan by midnight November 4 to enter to win a copy.

 TODAY’S MENU:

Mango-Jícama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas    

Susan Russo

http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/2011/10/cookbook-review-big-vegan-by-robin.html

Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice

Bryanna Clark Grogan

http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/10/big-vegan-potluck-day-2-armenian-lentil.html

Korean Miso-Tofu Soup

Nancie McDermott

http://nanciemcdermott.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/big-vegan-potluck-with-korean-miso-tofu-soup/

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa

Jill Nussinow

http://www.theveggiequeen.com/blog/

Please read, comment, and take a moment to scroll through these wonderful blogs. Every one of these writers has great articles, recipes, and books that might just make you a regular reader. Follow them all on twitter, too. Their twitter handles are @foodblogga, @veganfeaster, @nanciemac, and @theveggiequeen. Last weeks are @carondg and @vegangoodthings, and of course, me, @robinasbell.

Big Vegan is filled with recipes that you and your family will love, and this stellar group will show you just how appealing Big Vegan food can be!





The Vegan Cheese You Make at Home

9 10 2011

a Simple Pot of Cashew Cheese

Cheese.

When people hear that I wrote a vegan book, or want to talk about vegan, one topic always comes up. Cheese is often the hardest food for people to imagine giving up. Or maybe it’s ice cream, or yogurt. I hear that alot- people who can’t imagine life without yogurt.

Well, if you are one of those people, I understand. Cheese is delicious, and dangit, it’s really easy to use. A slice of cheese or a schmear of cream cheese makes a simple sandwich or bagel into a meal, and cheese makes pizza and pasta into the most popular food in the world.

So, whether you want to kick it or just cut back, you can make it much easier to do. Of course, you can buy processed cheese substitutes. Plenty of people swear by them, and they are convenient. In a previous post I made nachos with the very popular shredded Daiya cheese, and it was certainly a big improvement on the ones I remember from 10 years ago. Still, if you were eating cheese for protein or calcium, these substitutes may not have them.

The truth is, if you are a DIY kind of whole foods person, you want to keep it home made. That’s why I decided to start keeping a pot of nut cheese in my fridge at all times. I realized that a big part of the way we all eat is to just open that refrigerator door and start looking for some food. If you have dairy based habits, like bagels and cream cheese, cheese sandwiches, or cheesy pizzas, having the nut cheese is step one to making a really great stand in.

Nuts, by the way, are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Good fats, protein, all the good stuff, so you are boosting your nutrition with this move.

I did some experimenting to come up with a good recipe, and there are two in my new book, Big Vegan. But, if you haven’t got the book, you can certainly just improvise something. I’ll talk you through it.

Almonds Are A Fast Way to Cheese

First, just soak some cashews, almonds, or macadamias, or a combo of all three. Use skinless, raw nuts. You can try other nuts, like brazils, or even pistachios, but they will not be white and cheeselike. Just soak the nuts, drain them, reserving the water, and put them in a processor or blender. Blend, puree, and process, scraping down, adding just enough water to make a creamy smooth paste. Once it’s totally creamy, add some salt, lemon, or whatever you want to make it more savory. The nuts are basically sweet and rich, so to make it more cheesy you need an acid, salt, and some fermented flavors, like nutritional yeast or white miso. Or you can keep it simple and season it for each dish.

Creamy Cashew Cheese

Once you have this tasty, nutritious spread, you are on your way to saying “nuts” to cheese. Go ahead, dollop it on a prebaked pizza crust, smeared with pesto or tomato sauce. Build a panini, or toss it in the pan with hot pasta and veggies, adding a little olive oil and non-dairy milk as needed. Or just dip veggies in it, spread it on bagels, or sprinkle it over nachos.

Once you have it made, you have it made.





Big Vegan is Officially Out!

2 10 2011

It's Big, It's Vegan!

Well, it has taken about two years, but the official release of Big Vegan, Over 350 Recipes, No Meat, No Dairy, All Delicious has arrived.

Actually, I spent October 1 at a lovely signing event at Linden Hills Coop Grocery in St Louis Park, serving up samples of the Creamy Squash and Millet Soup with Chipotle.
Here is a link to my Big Vegan Trailer Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Bh1a-5Q2r4&feature=youtu.be

Of course, I did some early events, like my trip to New York to teach vegan at the Natural Gourmet Institute and The Institute for Culinary Education a couple of weeks ago. But, the official launch is now.

A Happy Class at NGI

So, what is so big about Big Vegan? Well, it is literally, kind of big. About 500 pages. It’s the biggest book I have ever written, packed with plant-based recipes. As big as it is, I had room to sprawl out and come up with recipes for things that I think are really useful and handy, like how to make your own cashew almond cheese, seitan, and mayonnaise. I even had room for a sauces chapter, where I made up some really tasty sauce recipes, and some simmer sauces, that you can make and have ready for times when you just want to throw some stuff in a pan and have a meal in a few minutes. There’s a grilling chapter, if you find vegan grilling to be a mystery.

But mostly, Big Vegan is filled with recipes in which I endeavored to inject as much flavor and excitement as I could. I’ve heard it too many times: “vegan food is blah, vegan food is weird, etc etc.” It kills me that people make those kind of judgements. Vegan food is food. By and large, the same food omnivores eat alongside their omnivorous ingredients. So what is the big problem with it?

Well, if you are vegan or cook vegan, you have a number of preconceived notions to overcome. The most benign of those is that our food is bland. That’s not hard to prove wrong, if the notion-holder is willing to have a taste with an open mind. Then you get the other biases. Vegans are a pain, vegans are preachy, vegans hate food and have some kind of eating disorder that sucks joy from the universe.

Well, all I can say is, I will do everything I can to make joyful, happy vegan food and spread the word. I believe in meeting people where they are-by which I mean, helping them to eat more plants, whatever their diet-style. Meatless Mondays, Tofu Thursdays, or a total vegan transformation seven days a week, all move people toward a more sustainable path.

I hope you will take a look at Big Vegan, and consider trying plant-based foods made from the recipes.

Watch here for upcoming virtual potlucks and book giveaways, where I and several other bloggers will be preparing, photographing and writing about recipes from Big Vegan.








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