29 September 2011

Are You Ready for MOFO?

There are so many fun things about Vegan MOFO, and I'm already getting all excited! Vegan MOFO is in October this year, so all of my October posts will be MOFO posts. Last year, I met lots of new blogger friends and found so many awesome blogs, and I hope to find even more this year. One really fun thing about MOFO is the giveaways. So many bloggers host giveaways! It's awesome. You will find anything from cookbooks to homemade vegan treats to handmade vegan crafts. We comprise such a diverse group with such diverse skills. No snark there, just truth. MOFO'ers rock.

Some people, I've found, tend to plan their posts out in advance, planing all the details weeks ahead. Some do awesome theme weeks, which sounds kind of fun, but I am terrible at sticking to plans for a day, let alone a whole week. I have a list of ideas, though. I'm trying to be organized. There are some ideas that have been rolling around in my head for weeks and I just haven't taken the time to make them. I plan to mix it up a little bit and do some vegan book reviews and possibly even restaurant reviews along with sharing my recipes. Not 100% sure, but I might even do a giveaway. Who knows? I do know, that I have looked forward to MOFO all year, and am so stoked that it's finally almost here...only 2 days away. Squeee!

Also, you can click the VeganMOFO label on the right of my page to see my posts from last year. So, anywhoooo, I will see you all very soon.

24 September 2011


My Papaw and Me in 2007

I know, I've been away for a little while, and I apologize. I was out of town for a bit for the funeral of my Papaw, who was the most wonderful, kind, loving and funny person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was incredibly generous and always happy, even when times were difficult. I'm not sure how he remained so positive, but I think we should all try harder to let the negative go, let the anger go, let the frustration go. Embrace what is, not what was (or could be). We should share our love and be with our families as much as we are able. My family is incredibly diverse and widespread throughout the country, but we are very close and we have so much love for, and pride in, one another. Maybe your family isn't like mine, and you can't stand to be near them. In that case, find someone or a group of someones to love and lean on when you need support. Family is what matters most to me. I love them more than I can even express and I feel so incredibly, indescribably thankful to have been born into such an amazing group of people.

So, thank you for your patience as I get back into my normal routine and start cooking again. I hope you have an excellent weekend!

15 September 2011

Vegan Stromboli (aka-Heaven in your mouth)

Ultimate comfort food? Um, yes. Hell yes. Not that I needed comfort. I just needed something cheesy and carb-y. Alright, so I didn't exactly need that stuff, but I sure as hell wanted it.

I have never, ever made a stromboli before and I was, admittedly, a little nervous. Most times when I used to eat it (pre-veg days) there were 2 flaws: either far too much cheese or the dough was too thick and didn't cook through. I had neither of those lame problems. Mine came out perfect. I'm totally NOT exaggerating.

There are 2 approaches to the stromboli. 1) Sauce cooked inside the stromboli, or 2) Warm sauce served on the side for dunking. I very much prefer the second. It keeps the dough from getting soggy when it cooks. Plus, you can totally regulate how much sauce you eat...I'm picky, dudes. I only like a little.

Rainbow colors involved in the stromboli:
Red: tomato sauce (it was canned, but no sugar or chemicals added)
Orange: vegan pepperoni (hehe. I know, it doesn't really count)
Green: green bell pepper
Violet/Purple: purple onion
Brown: mushrooms

Another thing you can do, use pre-made dough. I bought some frozen pre-made bread dough (it was, shockingly, vegan) a few days ago and decided to try something different. I let it thaw for a few hours, then left it in an oiled pan to rise for a bit. Aright, alright, I forgot about it for a few hours and it was huge. So, I preheated my oven to 475 degrees F and pounded it down on a piece of lightly-floured parchment paper. It ended up being sort of oval, but whatever.

Once you get the dough flattened, fill half of it with whatever toppings you're craving. I used sliced Yves vegan pepperoni, cremini mushrooms, diced red onion, diced green bell pepper, mozz and cheddar Daiya and some garlic salt. Here's my trick. Bottom layer is one kind of cheese. Middle is veggies and such. Top is another layer of cheese. That way, there is no risk of having uncooked cheese in the middle. For real. I planned this and it worked.

Next part is super easy. Fold the top over and twist/pinch the edges together to seal it up. Then, I had a sudden stroke of genius. In a small bowl, melt about 1 1/2 TB vegan butter in the microwave for a few seconds. Mix in some garlic salt and then brush it over the top of the stromboli. OH, you can see in the photo above that I made mine into 2 strombolis. That was just because my baking stone isn't that big, so making them smaller individual 'bolis worked for me.

Once you get it brushed with the butter, add it (the stromboli and the parchment paper) to the baking stone if you have one. Otherwise, add them to a cookie sheet. Bake about 14 minutes, or until the dough is tanned and feels firm to the touch. Don't worry, after it starts to cool, it softens up to a perfectly chewy texture.

You can make your own dipping sauce, which I did. It is insanely easy. I mixed one 8oz can of tomato sauce with some oregano, basil, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and heat in the microwave for 90 seconds. See?! Easy.

Dudes. Make this. Now. You really need it. How can you resist this:

14 September 2011

Pineapple Mango Green Smoothie

Pretty much every smoothie picture I take looks almost identical. I realize this. It's all because I put spinach in every single one. They all seem to just come out one shade of green different than the last. This morning I decided that I hadn't had a green smoothie in a few days, and that I NEEDED one asap. They make a delicious breakfast, especially when you don't really have time to make anything fancy before running out the door. Plus, you can always use fruit that is a tad too ripe for anything else.

I've been trying, as you may know, to eat a rainbow of colors everyday, and it is mostly going pretty well. This smoothie has a few colors:
Orange: Mango, Carrot
Yellow: Pineapple
Green: Spinach
Brown: Ground flax seed   

I wonder over the course of the last 10 months of owning my vitamix how many smoothies I've made? It must be about 100 or more. Crazy, huh? And, using the fresh fruit makes it so I don't have to add any refined sugars.

Here's what I did:
Pack you blender with 1 cup fresh pineapple, 1/2 of a freshly chopped mango, 1/2 of a large carrot, 1 huge handful of baby spinach, 1 TB ground flax, 1/4 cup almond milk and a small scoop of ice. Blend until ultra smooth. If it is too thick, add a little water or more almond milk. Enjoy with a nice, big straw (I absolutely LOVE my Strawesome smoothie straws I bought a few months back).

09 September 2011

Avocado Basil Pasta

After work today, I didn't feel much like cooking. I had a long, busy day and I just needed to lay about and be lazy. But, alas, my tummy was growling angrily at me, demanding food. NOW! I haven't been grocery shopping in almost a week, so I didn't have much on hand, but I did have 3 things sitting on my counter waiting to be used:
  • Basil
  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 Lemon
What to make? What to make? Google search time. There were a ton of salad dressings, but then I found this recipe from Oh She Glows. I was actually really skeptical, but I gave it a shot, altering it a bit, and it was hugely awesome.

The changes I made were simple little changes making it fit my tastes a little more. I added a bit more garlic, more basil and more avocado as I made more pasta. It would have been really good with some finely ground walnut (or pinenuts if you're a pinenut fan...I am very much not one). Also, if you have a good vegan parmesan, it would be pretty tasty, too. The sauce is sooo creamy and very vibrant. I'm seriously enraptured with the dish. I definitely recommend making it.

I'm not one to really rave here about other bloggers' recipes, but I love it so much that I just had to share with you. You neeeeeeeeeeed to try it if you love basil and avocados. They go together splendidly and you get a deliciously creamy sauce without the cream. It's vegan and tasty as hell. You can't go wrong.

08 September 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes a la Vegan Brunch

Pumpkin pancakes, eh? Hmmm. I don't know about that. I'm not a huge pumpkin lover. I am, however, a huge pancake lover. Wait, that sounds like I'm huge. I'm not. I'm actually quite short. I think what I mean to say is that I love pancakes in a major way. Yeah, that sounds better...although a little pervy. Whatever. The point is that I wanted comfort food in pancake form. I also wanted something different than the basic pancake, so I grabbed Vegan Brunch, which just so happens to be my most-used cookbook ever. I flipped right open to the pumpkin pancake page. I was at first appalled, then curious, then obsessed. Adding pumpkin to a pancake seemed blasphemous and wrong, but I shun society's norms and flipped "the man" the bird. I made the pancakes. And they were heavenly.

These pancakes are yet another reason that you need to buy Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Every single recipe I've made has been a complete and total hit. I've never experienced that with any cookbook before. I'd love to share the recipe with you, but it isn't mine to share. Maybe you want to check your local public library before you take the plunge...Or maybe you are brave and adventurous and want to jump right into buying it. Either way, I don't think you could possibly be disappointed.

The only alterations I made to the standard recipe were:
  • I was out of canola oil, so I melted 2 TB of Earth Balance instead.
  • I added chopped walnuts to half of the batch, and I am so glad I did. I love me some nuts.
They were awesome plain. They were extra awesome with a smidge of Earth Balance smeared on top. I am told they are super extra awesome maple syrup, but I hate how syrup makes pancakes soggy, so I abstain.

As for eating the rainbow, I'll make up for the lack of colors later when I eat my salad. These pancakes only have 1 color:
Orange- Pumpkin puree

Now, buy the book already. I would lend you mine, but I know your type: you'd never give it back.

07 September 2011

Tempeh and Roasted Veg Curry

Because I am a farmer's market addict, I went today and got more veggies...and fruit. (Cut me some slack, the fruit season in Michigan is pretty short, so you have to get while the gettin's good.) Then I decided that I really needed to cook something hearty and colorful and spicy for dinner and I had a HUGE craving for tempeh. What's new, right?! What to make, what to make? Curry, of course!

I took a different route with this curry. Normally, I'd pan-cook all the veggies in lots of oil until they were done. This time, I roasted my veggies in the oven first. For me, that meant using a lot less oil than cooking the veg on the stovetop. I also cooked the tempeh separately and then added it all in together near the end of cooking so it would get a little crispy around the edges. The cooking steps look long, but I promise it is really easy to make and well worth the time to make it. This curry goes absolutely perfectly with some brown basmati rice and homemade vegan garlic naan (or pita). Don't be overwhelmed with the ingredient list, half of it consists of spices, so it's not so scary, really.

Rainbow colors in this dish:
Orange: Carrots
Yellow: Summer Squash
Green: Peas, Zucchini
Violet/Purple: Onion

This dish makes enough for 4 as a main dish when served with rice or bread.

  • 1 block tempeh, cubed
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into half-moons
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into thick half-moons
  • 1 medium summer squash, cut into thick half-moons
  • 1 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 large carrots cut into thick 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 TB vegan butter (Earth Balance is my preferred brand)
  • 2-3 TB garlic chili sauce (I use this brand Taste of Thai)
  • 1 scant TB curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • pinch ginger
  • 1 TB liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat your oven to 440 degrees F. Spray two baking sheets with the cooking spray. On one sheet, spread out the zucchini and squash and on the other spread out the potatoes and carrots. Lightly spritz the tops with the cooking spray and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Be sure that the veg is in a single layer on each sheet. Bake the potato sheet on the bottom rack and the zucchini sheet up higher. Cook about 15 minutes. Remove both trays from the oven and flip the veggies. Then cook another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and the zucchini are cooked through. During the second half of the roasting, start step 2.
  2. Spray a large skillet with the cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the pepper flakes, onion, half of the minced garlic. Then add in the tempeh. Stir often. Add in 1 1/2 tsp of the chili garlic sauce,  the paprika, ginger, some salt and pepper, and celery seed. If the tempeh is sticking to the pan, add a little more cooking spray. I cooked mine about 10 minutes, until the tempeh was crisping around the edges. Remove the pan from the burner until the roasted veggies are ready.
  3. Now, add the milk and butter to the skillet that has the tempeh. Turn the burner to medium. Add in all the rest of the ingredients, including the roasted veg. Cook about 10 minutes, until the milk/sauce is thickened and mostly absorbed and the peas are nice and hot.

06 September 2011

The Best Salad I've Ever Had

I'm completely and totally obsessed with salads lately. Probably, I should be institutionalized. Today's lunch makes 6 salads in 3.5 days. I don't know what my deal is. I guess I neeeeeeeed raw veggies in my bellah. On the rainbow eating kick, I made this incredible salad. It has a little bit of everything. It's in a huge bowl and I ate it all myself with just a little bit of Italian dressing. I'm in love with adding so many flavors to my salads now.  Here's an overview so you can see it all:

Dudes and dudettes, I introduce to you the best salad I've ever had: The Rainbow Salad. Dig it. 
Red- handful of cherry tomatoes from my garden
Orange- 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
Yellow- 1/2 an ear of fresh (uncooked) corn cut from the cob
Green- 1 heart of romaine, 1/4 cup chopped cuke
Blue- handful of blueberries
Violet/Purple- handful of purple grapes, 2-3 TB diced purple onion
Brown- handful raw walnuts
Black- 1/4 cup black beans
Dressing- Don't worry, I'm not one of those folks who jabber on about how good salad is without dressing because it's not. Those people frighten me. My weapon dressing of choice is zesty Italian. Use a little...or a lot. Whatever. It's your salad. I only ask that if you make a shitty salad, don't tell me about it because I don't care. Now, if you make a killer salad to end all other salads, please share. Maybe instead of a dance-off, we can have a right proper salad-off and people can vote over who makes the better salad. But, I digress.

On days when I eat at least 5 colors, I seem to feel better. I feel lighter and have more energy. I'm going to keep going with it, and we'll see where I end up.Maybe there really is something to this whole "eat your colors" thing. I'm still a little skeptical, but I am keeping an open mind. I'm trying new combos of produce and I really am loving it. That's not even snarky.

05 September 2011

Meg's Rainbow Smoothie

Remember a few days ago when I said I try to eat a rainbow? Well, this is the rainbow smoothie for your drinking pleasure. Sure, it looks brown here, but wait... It has 6 colors inside!
RED: 1 small apple
ORANGE: 1 carrot
YELLOW: 1/2 Peach, 1/2 banana
GREEN: a huge handful of baby spinach
 BLUE: 1/4 cup blueberries
BROWN: 1 TB ground flax, 3 TB almond milk

Just blend it all together (with a few pieces of ice) until silky smooth in your blender. If it's too thick, add some water or more almond milk. If you have a high-power blender, you probably won't need to add the extra liquid. Whomever invented the Vita-Mix deserves many, many high-fives! I bought mine last November as a less expensive refurb model from their website and I couldn't be happier. I use it a minimum of 5 times a week. Anywhoooo...

How's that for eating a rainbow for breakfast? I know, I'm missing purple, but I think I did darn good even without it. If I'd had some raspberries, I'd have been spot-on. But, I just want to show you how easy it is to eat a wide array of colors. Even if the rest of your day is monochromatic, at least you got a nice mix for breakfast. It's not always easy to get your full spectrum of colors, especially when they aren't in season. So, I'm taking full advantage now and stocking up my freezer for the months ahead. Off-season produce can be prohibitively expensive at the grocery store, so if you have the space, start stocking up and freezing what you can. Frozen fruit, in particular, makes excellent smoothies, pies, even muffins and pancakes.

Even if you're not a Veg*an, you can still get almost a full day's servings of fruit and veg with a big homemade smoothie. The (mostly worthless, corporate-interest-run) USDA says that women need 4 cups of produce/day, while men need 5. This smoothie easily makes 2 cups. So, you're at least off to a good start. Make the smoothie already. It's damn tasty, easy to make, has a LOT of fiber and your body will say thank you. Do I really have to keep working to convince you? Sheesh. Cut a chickpea some slack, dude.

**And if you are looking for awesome smoothie straws like I use, look no further than Strawesome. They make the BEST eco-friendly, reusable glass straws. They come in all different sizes, some specifically for smoothies. I bought mine a few months ago and use them pretty much every single day. They're made of the same glass as pyrex, so they are safe and sturdy. I've dropped mine on the kitchen floor more than once, and have yet to break any. To top it off, they're dishwasher safe and made in the USA in my home state of Michigan. You can also find them on twitter under username @BeStrawesome

04 September 2011

Revamping a Classic... and changes

One of my all-time more favorite summer meals is grilled zucchini and onions. Seriously. Last summer, I ate it for breakfast AND lunch for a solid month. I'm that hardcore. Well, this morning, I ate a peach for breakfast on my way to yoga, and by the time I was driving home, all I could think about was eating lunch. And not just any lunch, I wanted needed zucchini. Fortunately, I live near a farm stand and snagged some zucchini, yellow squash and fresh mushrooms. Paired with the corn I bought at the farmer's market yesterday, I had a stellar lunch ahead of me. Don't agree? Well, forget you! It's delicious.

I didn't feel much like firing up the grill, so I just went ahead and used my cast iron grill pan on my stove. I don't regret it for a second. In my attempt to cut down on my oil consumption, I used a little bit of cooking spray instead of a few teaspoons of olive oil. It's the little changes I'm working at. I'll probably never cut out oil totally, but I am definitely decreasing my intake. I feel better when I eat less oil, despite my complete love for olive oil! I'm starting now because next month, my friend and I are going to be doing a cleanse/detox/yoga challenge for the month of October. It's going to be a real challenge, as we have to commit to 5 practices a week, with 3 of them being the more intense classes. It's time to take control of my health and get more active again. But enough about that. Back to the food.

Revamping my favorite summer dish is rad. You'll like it.


Just heat a skillet (I used the grill-pan, hence the lines on the veg) over medium heat. Spritz it with a bit of cooking spray. Add in sliced zucchini, summer squash, 1/2 half red onion sliced and get simmering. After a few minutes, stir the veggies around so they cook on both sides. Add in corn (I used 1 1/2 ears of corn kernels freshly cut from the ear). Cook, stirring occasionally until the zukes are mostly cooked, then add the mushrooms (about 5 caps, chopped) and top with a small spritz of cooking spray. Add in some salt and pepper and stir again. The whole cooking process should take about 15 minutes. I debated adding in some black beans or chickpeas, but I forgot to.

Anyway, that's all for now. Any ideas for additions to the classic triumverate of zuke/squash, onion and mushrooms???

03 September 2011

Farmer's Markets and Rainbows

I decided today, as I do at least once a week (usually twice a week), that I needed to hit up the farmer's market and get some goodies. I spent $11.00 on all of this:

The best part of all is that I got 2 new items I've never had before. First are the little yellow tomatoes. I remember seeing them at the grocery store and one of my friends grew some last year, but I never tried them. Second are the apples. Alright, I've had apples before (duh), but I've never heard of the Molly Apple. So, I snagged them. Look at this beauty!

It seems every single year at my FM, I see more and more varieties of produce I've never heard of, which is completely awesome! So many new urban farmers are showing up, along with old timers sharing their heirlooms. I totally dig it. Since becoming a veg head, I have tried more new foods than I ever did as an omni. And, it seems that is pretty common among us herbivores. I know in my own case, I became so much more adventurous with food once I knew I wasn't going to stumble on weird bits of meat and nasty eggs, which have made me ill for most of my life. Now I seem to jump into new foods head first, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

I do try hard to "eat my colors," adding numerous colored foods to each day, and sometimes each meal. A lot of new vegetarians and vegans stick to what they know they like, and I was like that at first. But, the more I read about keeping healthy, the more I started to mix it up. Think of all the veggies and fruits in a market. They are (literally) a rainbow. I know you can't always do it every day, but try to consume a rainbow of fresh produce. Physicians say that it's one of the best ways to be sure that we are getting a full spectrum of vitamins we need to function well. You all know Roy G Biv, right? It's the colors of the rainbow in order of color.

Here are some examples of what I eat a lot of:

RED: Tomatoes, strawberries, red bell peppers, cherries, beets, pomegranate, watermelon, cranberries
ORANGE: Oranges, orange bell peppers, carrots, peaches, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, mango,
YELLOW: Pineapple, lemons, peaches, corn, yellow peppers, yellow onion
GREEN: Spinach, broccoli, kiwi, bell pepper, avocados, cabbage, green onion, pears, brussels sprouts,
                bean sprouts, cucumbers, zucchini, limes, peas, okra, lettuce (especially the darker lettuces)
BLUE/INDIGO: Blueberries, black grapes, dark plums, blackberries
VIOLET: Purple potatoes, purple cabbage, red/purple onions, plums, eggplant, grapes, raspberries 

Here's what I got today:
  • 3 ears of fresh-picked sweet corn $1.00
  • 4 huge Molly Apples $2.00
  • 1 heaped pint blueberries $3.00
  • 2 lemons $1.00
  • 2 garlic heads $1.00
  • 1 heaped pint yellow tomatoes $1.00
  • 5 big peaches $2.00
 I guess my body was craving some yellows today. I notice when I have a strong craving for something in particular that it's something my body may be missing. I haven't eaten any yellows in close to a week, and look what I ended up buying today!? I really do think that you body will tell you what it needs, most of us need only learn to listen to its pleas. 

What are your favorite colors to eat?

01 September 2011

Grilled Corn Fun

I am in love with this time of year for one main reason: fresh, local produce at the farmer's market. I don't know what it is, but the local farmers have the most amazing sweet corn, which I can't pass by when I'm at the market. To make it even better is the fact that it's inexpensive and the farmers are so friendly. In fact, this last purchase ended with a bonus ear for free. I guess it's my smile and charming sensibilities that win me free produce. Or maybe the fact that they see me all the time and I like to chat. Whatever the case, I got bonus corn and you didn't! Nah nah boo boo.

What's a girl to do with bonus corn on her hands? Grill it. Slather it in earth balance and salt and chow down. Oh, and make some absolutely fabulous salsa. So, now that I decided to make corn, what should I make to go with it? Mexican-inspired food always goes well with grilled corn. As you are well aware by now, I absolutely love tacos, especially tempeh tacos. So tacos, grilled corn and a black bean and grilled corn salsa for dinner. Hell yes. Add in some homemade guac and you're in business.

I grill my corn once it's shucked and wrapped in foil. You can roast it in the skins, but it seems to take a million years and I just don't have that kind of patience. Plus, it doesn't get the charred kernels like I prefer. Just be sure to turn it every so often. I cook mine over a medium flame on the grill about 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes, peek inside the foil and see if it's coming along how you want it. When it is done, I put on an oven mitt and cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. I put it all in a bowl and add a dollop of Earth Balance and shake on some sea salt. Mmmmm!

For the salsa, I used 2 ripe roma tomatoes, diced. Add in 3/4 cup cooked (or canned) black beans and 1/4 cup diced red onion. Cut the kernels from 1 ear of grilled corn and add them to the mix. I then added the juice of half a lime, a few shakes of cumin and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well and let marinate together for 20 minutes before serving.

And for your viewing pleasure, I present this evening's sunset from my front stoop: