A One-Size Fits All Resolution

2 01 2012

Chop 'em and boil 'em!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 is just beginning, and the new year is a good time to start a new habit. Call it a New Years resolution if you want, as long as that doesn’t mean you will forget about it by February. I propose that just about everyone out there could live better and feel better if they eat more vegetables. Simple, and genuinely easy, just more veggies, every day.

Of course, eating more veg is going to take a plan. Take a look at your routine, and ask yourself-where can I add veggies? Even the vegetarians and vegans can spend a day eating cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch, and if you don’t really pile them up at dinner, your all day total is a few slivers on the sandwich and the cup or so tossed in with the pasta you threw together. I know, I’ve done it myself.

9 servings a day is ideal, which is about 8 ½ cups. You may ask, how will I eat all that? Well, one great benefit of eating more veggies is that you are probably going to lose weight. All that fiber and goodness just fills you up, so you eat so much less of other foods that you can’t help it.

So, here are some ideas for adding significant amounts of veggies to your daily life.

Veggies at breakfast. Instead of the sweet foods we tend to eat, try a savory scramble, loaded up with veggies and tofu. Miso soup is a great Japanese tradition at breakfast-just add more veggies. Or, a smoothie that combines fruit with spinach or other greens will camouflage the veggies in a sweet shake.

Click to go to a Green Smoothie Recipe

Smoothies are Easy

Veggies as snacks. Buy bags of things like baby carrots, or whatever snack veg you like. If you need a little dip or dressing to make them appealing, go ahead. If cooked veggies appeal to you more, blanch a bunch by dropping them in boiling water, then drain and chill to take with all week. I like to eat raw mushrooms, sliced zucchini and other veggies while I cook, with a little salt. Keep some handy. If you are hungry between meals, stay full this way.

Veggies at meals. Plan to have salads and or veggie soups at your meals. Buy the bagged salad, some tomatoes and cukes, or whatever you like on salad, and make a simple dressing for the week. Make the veggie soup recipe below, or your favorite vegetable soup. If you start the meal with salad and soup, you will never make it to dessert.

Juice. If you have a juicer, now is the time to drag it out of wherever you have hidden it, and use that January New Leaf energy to get juicing. I admit, my Champion was in the basement, and I have installed it in the kitchen, cluttered as it feels. I worked up to this by buying wonderful green drinks at my Coop when I shop, and grabbing a fresh juice whenever I could find one. I’m finding that this is also a great way to use up kale stems, celery leaves, and other leafy greens.

Slip Them in. Whenever you are cooking, even putting a sandwich together, always add a vegetable, more than you usually would. Maybe you can keep roasted red peppers in the fridge for sandwiches, or bagged spinach to add to just about anything, from pasta to tofu.

Just do it.

For a super simple veggie soup for the week, bring one of those boxes of veggie stock to a boil in a big pot. Add a couple of chopped carrots, an onion, a couple of ribs of celery. Once the veggies are tender, add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer and add a bunch of chopped kale or other greens, or a couple cups of chopped cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This soup can be reaheated as is, or you can take some out each day and season it differently. Try it curried, with a can of beans, or try it Italian style with lots of fresh herbs and garlic. Puree it for a sauce, or whisk some miso with water and stir it in.

Eat More Veggies, it’s just that simple.

Happy 2012-it’s already starting off a little greener!





Robin Robertson’s Quick-Fix Vegan Cookbook Makes Speedy Easy

19 12 2011

Super Nachos

 

 

 

 

When you get down to it, most people find that the biggest barrier to eating well is time. Planning, shopping, cooking, all take time, and it’s way easier to just grab some fast food. Well, if you are using that as your excuse to not eat balanced, whole foods vegan meals, your excuse is now officially crumbling before your eyes. Robin Robertson, one of the most prolific cookbook authors I know of, has now conquered the time-crunch-and done it deliciously.

You can’t stand in the cookbook aisle and not know Robin Robertson’s name. She is the author of 19 cookbooks so far, and seems to have an amazing ability to just keep cranking out useful, creative books.

In her latest, Quick-Fix Vegan Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Andrews McMeel $16.99), Robertson cuts to the chase and puts together good food simply. If you were thinking of slapping together a sandwich, you may as well make on of hers, full of vibrant veggies and flavors, instead of the same old pb and j. It doesn’t really take much more time.

The book is filled with global flavors, making the most of the exciting tastes of far-flung places, like Morocco, Vietnam,Mexico and more. Vegan food is an adventure when you search the world for the dishes with great tastes that can do plant-based.

The very first chapter is an introduction to the mind-set of a fast cook, called quick-fix vegan basics. Right away, she says to be flexible- if you don’t have an ingredient, substitute. Arrange your space and tools for easy access, and set up your pantry are just a few of the things she urges you to do to get fast meals on the table. She also gives you a run-down on which whole grains cook fastest, and which ingredient short-cuts are worth trying. It’s a great intro to the fast and furious way of getting real food on the table.

With chapters on Starters and Snacks, Stovetop Suppers, Pasta, Soup, Sandwiches, Salads and Make Ahead Bakes, Robertson displays a skill for cutting out unnecessary steps and ingredients. A quick chop, a fast cook, and you are eating dinner, and it’s vegan. She also has chapters on condiments and desserts, essential add-ons for the hurried cook.

It was a real pleasure making dishes from the book. Like everyone else, I don’t have a ton of time, so quick is always good. Reading and cooking from Robertson’s recipes, I admire the way her mind works. As a fellow recipe developer, I can appreciate a well-crafted recipe. These recipes are simplified, but still interesting, and follow the shortest path from point A to point B. Simple looks easy, but it takes skill to make it that way.

I also appreciate the use of whole foods, like beans, nuts and seeds, and the near absence of mock meats. Just because you are in a hurry, doesn’t mean you have to go in for vegan bologna or burgers every night, in Robertson’s kitchen.

Another useful and practical book, from Robin Robertson. I’m sure there will be more to come.

That Nacho Sauce Was Fast

Super Nachos

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans or one 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)

1 cup tomato salsa (divided)

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, divided

salt and pepper

1 ripe avocado

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon mellow white miso

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

6 cups tortilla chips

GARNISHES: 1/2 cup vegan sour cream, 1/3 cup sliced black olives, 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos, 2 tablespoons scallions

Pereheat the oven to 400F. Grease a -inch baking dish. In a small saucepan, heat the beans with half of the salsa, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, mashing and stirring, until hot, about 4 minutes. Spread in the dish.

Halve, pit and chop the avocado and reserve.

In a small skillet, mix the nutritional yeast, flour, miso, lemon, mustard, onion powder, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and the non-dairy milk. Whisk until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk over medium heat until it boils and thickens.

Spread the chips over the beans, then drizzle the sauce over the chips. Bake until hot, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with remaining salsa and all the garnishes.

I used fresh red fresnos instead of pickled jalapenos, and I didn’t have the vegan sour cream.

Vietnamese Tofu Wraps, mmmmm

Vietnamese Tofu Wraps

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound extra firm tofu, cut in 1/4 inch wide strips

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce, plus more for serving

4 10 -inch flour tortillas

vegan mayo

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 carrot, shredded

1 cup cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons bottled jalapenos

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown, turning frequently, 7-10 minutes. Add the hoisin, soy sauce, and 1 tsp sriracha, stirring to coat the tofu. Take off the heat to cool. To assemble the wraps, spread the tortillas with vegan mayo and drizzle with srirach to taste. Arrange 1/ of te tofu in the center, then top with cucumber, carrot, cilantro and jalapenos. Wrap and serve.

Goodies, Ready to Roll





Start Planning Your Sides for Thanksgiving…

7 11 2011

A big Old Gnarly Jewel Yam

The Thanksgiving meal is always a biggie, especially for Vegans and vegetarians. We want to share our love with our families and friends, but not to eat any turkey. You may opt for a turkey free day, or you may be bringing a dish to a shared meal with omnivores. Either way, its all about giving thanks.

This week, I’m getting psyched for making my yams. Sweet potatoes, yams, all the same thing these days, just in case you were wondering. The original yam is a giant, not very sweet tuber that grows in Africa and the tropics, but the sweet potatoes that we grow here have taken on the name. I went to my grocery store and found three common examples, a garnet yam, the darkest red one, a jewel yam, the orange one, and a white sweet potato, the pale one. The garnet is sweetest, the jewel mid-range, and the white one, well, not too sweet at all.

The great thing about the colors is that they do signal the presence of high antioxidants. Of course, sweet potatoes are healthy foods, high in carotenoids and fiber. They are so rich and delicious that they really don’t need much fussing to make them really satisfying.

For a change, I thought I would make roasted yam fries. So, I lopped off a slice from my jewel yam to make it stable to slice, and placed it on the flat cut side. From there, I sliced it and then sliced the slices into French fry shaped strips. Then I preheated the oven to 425 F. I put the yams on sheet pans, being careful not to crowd them, and tossed with olive oil. I wanted all the pieces to have contact with the pan. I roasted them for 20 minutes on the bottom rack, then flipped the slices with a metal spatula. I roasted for 20 more. A sprinkling of coarse salt made them complete.

Slice Carefully into "Fries"

All Those Sugars Brown Up Beautifully

For variety, you can also cut them in spears, just cut the pieces fatter, and then roast them longer.

I ate mine with a dose of Sriracha sauce, but you can go more Thanksgiving-y by tossing them with chopped fresh herbs, like sage and thyme. Get crazy by making a mayo (or vegan mayo) mixed with herbs, smoky chipotle, or garlic for an aioli. Use coconut oil and curry powder for a little Indian flair. Sprinkle with chili powder and lime, and serve with salsa for a Mexican theme. Go for a bit of protein with a Thai or African style peanut dipping sauce.

Break out from your sweet potato casserole rut and give yam-fries a try.

Yam Fries with Thai Peanut Sauce

This may not seem like traditional TG fare, but you will find people devouring it anyway. Our tastebuds fatigue with all that sage and cranberry sauce, we need something spicy to keep us interested. Thai Kitchen curry pastes are fish-free, so look for them to avoid non-vegetarian ingredients. This sauce keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge, and is great for dipping, stir fries, or even slathering on sandwiches.

1 large sweet potato, cut fry-style

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or other oil

sprinkle of kosher salt

SAUCE

1 teaspoon canola oil

3  shallots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste (to taste)

1 cup coconut milk (reduced fat is fine)

1/2 cup peanut butter, pure and natural

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar or other sweetener

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 pinch salt

For the fries, toss with olive oil on two sheet pans, then roast at 425F for 20, flip and turn the pans, and then roast for 20 more. Go for some good browning on the bottom. Serve hot with sauce.

For the sauce:

In a small saucepan, heat the oil and saute the shallots until browned. It’s not alot of oil but the sauce will be really oily if you add more. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the curry paste and work it all together, cooking until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk, then work in the peanut butter. Simmer for a minute, then stir in the soy sauce, sweetener and lime. Simmer over low heat until thick, the oil will start to separate when it is done.





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!





Big Vegan Virtual Potluck Day 1:Breakfast!

18 10 2011

Today is the launch of my big virtual blog tour. Rather than jet around the country, my recipes are being made all over the country by talented bloggers. I hope you will click on Leinana and Caron’s links and visit their outstanding blogs for two more breakfast treats.

Leave a comment at one or all of our blogs, and you will be entered to win a copy of Big Vegan at each one. Go to twitter and tweet your reason for going vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan by November 4 midnight CST, and you will be entered in the twitter contest, too.

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

Leinana Two Moons

http://vegangoodthings.blogspot.com/2011/10/baguette-french-toast-with-cream-cheese.html

 

Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

I hope you are hungry, since we have a hearty breakfast to share today.

Maple-Barley Granola with Pecans

As for my breakfast, I picked a recipe that I make often. It’s not the showiest or the most photogenic, but dangit, I love it. I’ve been a connoisseur of granola since my early days working in whole-grainy bakeries, where we often had a house granola. We made it by hand in huge batches, measuring mountains of soft, fluffy oats into a deep container before pouring jug-fuls of liquids over it all. I can remember mixing up deep vats of the stuff, up to my elbows in oats, oil and syrup. We believed in whole grains and didn’t care about fat. The granola was rich, tender and sweet, and usually loaded with nuts, seeds and dried fruit.

Good times.

In the years since, I’ve had plenty of time to experiment with granola. I’ve even written about it for Taunton’s Fine Cooking, who published my piece on granola as a holiday gift years ago. I wrote granola recipes for Veggie Life, too, once upon a time.

One of the things I really like in granola are chunks. Adding some flour and other ingredients that will stick together and create slabs of granola is one of my fave tricks. That makes the best granola for eating with your fingers. It’s almost like cookies, broken up in a bowl of milk. To achieve this, I add some flour and either protein powder or gluten flour, and some liquids to hold it all together.

That extra protein will help carry you through to lunch, along with the high-fiber, nutrient dense whole grains. Pack a baggie of this granola just in case you need a snack-it’s great just eaten as is.

Maple-Barley Granola

Oats reign in the cereal world, but did you know that barley has more of the heart-healthy starches that make oats the recommended grain? Beta-glucans are a kind of starch that lowers cholesterol, and barley has more of them. It also makes a hefty, tasty rolled flake that you can make into a delicious granola. If you can’t find rolled barley, you can use rolled oats.

Serves 16

2          cups/170 g rolled oats

2          cups/170 g rolled barley flakes

2          cups brown rice crispies

1          cup/115 g pecan pieces

½         cup/60 g whole wheat flour

½         cup/40 g vegan protein powder or gluten flour

1          cup/240 ml maple syrup

½         cup/120 ml canola oil

2          tsp vanilla extract

½         tsp salt

Ready to mix

1. Preheat the oven to 300° F/150° C/gas 2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, barley, rice crispies, pecans, flour, and protein powder . In a large bowl or a blender, combine the syrup, oil, vanilla, and salt. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets and spread the oat mixture on the pans.

2. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the granola with a spatula and bake for 20 minutes more, until it is lightly toasted. Cool the granola on the pans completely on racks, then transfer to airtight containers or zip-top bags.Keeps for a couple of week, tightly closed, or put it in the freezer for a couple of months.

Toasty Crunchy Granola





It’s Almost Here! The Big Vegan Virtual Potluck and Book Giveaway

14 10 2011

Dear Readers, it is a very exciting day. The planning for this has been in the works for a while, and I’m just thrilled to be able to announce the first day of our virtual potluck.

What is a virtual potluck, you ask?

Well, thanks for asking. For the next three weeks, a host of talented, wonderful bloggers are going to be posting dishes that they made from my new Book, Big Vegan. Each of them will also be hosting a giveaway of the book, so if you visit their blogs and comment, you may well win a FREE copy!

On each successive Tuesday, we will be posting and linking to a series of blog posts, culminating in a final post on the Chronicle Books webpage, linking back to all the blog posts from the potluck over the three weeks. Chronicle will also be doing a potluck within their office, and posting on November 4.

If you really want to win a copy of Big Vegan, you will have lots of opportunities, just by visiting these great blogs and making comments, but we are not stopping there. Another giveaway will be going on on twitter-just tweet why you decided to go vegan with the hashtag #bigvegan. You must tweet by midnight CST on November 4th to be considered.

Of course, you can order Big Vegan anytime, in case you are not one of the lucky winners.

I hope you enjoy these tasty blogs and tweets, I’m really proud of the plant-based cuisine that we are sharing with the internet world. This is a group of such wonderful chefs, writers and bloggers that I know you will want to visit and follow their work in the future, as well.

DAY 1 Post October 18

Maple Barley Granola

Robin Asbell

Robincooksveg.wordpress.com

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

Leinana Two Moons

vegangoodthings

 

Matcha Scones with Golden Raisins

Caron Golden

http://www.sandiegofoodstuff.com/2011/10/robin-asbells-big-vegan-blogger-potluck.html

DAY 2 October 25


Mango-Jícama Salad with Lime Dressing and Pepitas    

Susan Russo

http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/

Armenian Red Lentil Stew with Sesame Brown Rice

Bryanna Clark Grogan

http://www.bryannaclarkgrogan.com/page/page/3115952.htm

Korean Miso-Tofu Soup

Nancie McDermott

http://nanciemcdermott.wordpress.com/

Squash Quesadillas with Cranberry-Jícama Salsa

Jill Nussinow

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

DAY 3 November 1

Green and Red Spaghetti

Sandra Gutierrez

http://sandraskitchenstudio.com/

Bengali Curry of Cauliflower and Kidney Beans

Robin Robertson

http://veganplanet.blogspot.com/

Spanish Chickpea Fritters

Julie Hasson

http://www.juliehasson.com/

Sundried Tomato-Kale Calzones AND

Pumpkin Cherry Bundt Cake

Leinana Two Moons

vegangoodthings

Peanut Butter Tart with “Ganache”

Tara Desmond

http://crumbsonmykeyboard.com/





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.





World Vegetarian Day Is October 1st, Non-Vegetarians Can Win $1,000

25 09 2011

Plants!

We are kind of between holidays right now, Labor Day is over, Halloween is coming up, but did you know, October 1 is World Vegetarian Day?

Sure, it’s time to tart contemplating your pumpkin carving design, and deciding on your Halloween treats. But don’t miss out on another important date coming up- October first is World Vegetarian Day. It’s the kick-off of vegetarian awareness month, and according to the organizers at the North American Vegetarian Society, it’s the day that we should make the effort to bring more non-vegetarians into the fold.

http://www.worldvegetarianday.org/pledge-vegwin/

This “open enrollment” day is announced on their website, where you can get cards and materials for convincing friends and family to pledge to go veg for the month. If they are willing, they can sign up to win a $1,000 prize at the end of the month, or $500 for a weeklong commitment, or $250 for making it a whole day with no meat, fowl or fish. If you pledge to go veg, your name will be entered into the drawing, and some lucky person will get not just a healthier body, but a nice chunk of change.

Of course, we all have to decide whether to try to convert the people around us. The hard sell can really turn people off, and guilt or preachiness are equally likely to backfire. That must be the idea behind the cards you can get from the website- you can just hand them over, and see if it clicks. We all know people who are omnivorous who could go meatless for a month without a second thought, but they have no desire to give up meat permanently. We also all have people in our lives who don’t want to hear about it, try it or even think about it. Just knowing that there are vegetarians out there seems to irritate them. Approach this person at your own risk.

Maybe if you open with the $1,000 prize, you will have a better outcome.

Living well is the best advertisement for the plant-based lifestyle, but sometimes a little nudge helps carry someone just a little closer to change.








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