Vegan MoFo #5: Pizza Time!

9 10 2008

(Okay, so, this whole blogging every day thing isn’t working out so well. But at least I’m blogging, right?)

Who loves pizza? I guess the question should be “who doesn’t love pizza?” (and if you answer “me” then you are crazy!) but oh well. Pizza was a favorite food of my pre-vegan days (though I didn’t enjoy the tummyaches from being lactose intolerant or the grease, either) and it’s still one of my favorite foods. There’s so many combinations you can do and so many toppings to choose from. As a vegan, you can do soy cheese, tofu ricotta, no cheese, vegan parm, etc. The toppings are endless! Some of my favorites are: onions, peppers (green/red bell peppers), mushrooms, banana peppers, spinach, tomatoes, pineapple, faux-meats (Yves pepperoni is SO good!), and so on. I never get sick of pizza. In fact, here are some pictures of my favorites:

My first vegan pizza was pretty amazing, I must say:

(VWAV pizza dough with WW flour, basic tomato sauce [if nothing but a little too much], basil tofu ricotta, mushrooms, onions, Yves pepperoni)

(Tofu wingz! adapted from DEOTS Tempeh Wingz – on an herbed pizza crust with vegan alfredo and onions)

(Roasted veggie pizza, tofu ricotta, and a side of tempeh wingz! Where’s the beer?)

(Ethos! My favorite! Vegan personal pizza with red peppers, onions and banana peppers – topped with FYH mozzarella. You can get this with pesto, too, and they have AMAZING pesto!)

So, what’s your favorite kind of pizza? I want to hear all about it!





Vegan MoFo #4: PPK Iron Chef Challenge (Apples & Ginger)

5 10 2008

Katie (from Don’t Eat Off The Sidewalk – you know, the creative genius behind pumpkin cinammon rolls and tempeh wingz) came up with a brilliant idea to do a vegan Iron Chef challenge for VeganMoFo. I didn’t think I’d have the time to get this done, but I’m procastinating with schoolwork and laundry and decided to get my ass in gear. The two ingredients for the first challenge are apples and ginger. I’m thankful they weren’t extravagant ingredients and also, they cost me less than $1. I think my Fuji apple was 75 cents and the knob of ginger was 7 cents.

This morning I got set in the kitchen to make my creation. I played around with some ideas, but decided to do breakfast. I pulled out the quinoa, dried cranberries, walnuts, apple juice, chamomile tea and agave nectar. My apple was peeled and cored and the ginger grated. I was ready!

First, I cooked 1/2 cup of quinoa in 1/2 c of water and 1/2 cup of apple juice (just for extra apple-y goodness). While that was cooking, I diced the apple into small chunks so I could get the most out of it. I grated the ginger (about 1.5 tsp – you could use more or less to taste, I could have done with more ginger but I was afraid of overpowering it) and cooked it with a splash of lemon juice. I got the idea that instead of drinking my morning chamomile tea to use it to cook down the apples with. I threw in about 1/2 c. chamomile tea with 1 tsp of brown sugar. Let that cook down for about 5-8 minutes, until apples are desired consistency (I prefer a combination of crunchy and soft). Your quinoa is probably done by now, provided 15 minutes have passed. If you’re anything like me, you allowed the bottom to slightly burn but the rest is pretty perfect. At this point, you mix in your quinoa with your apple mixture. Don’t worry if there’s still liquid left in there – the quinoa will soak it up and it will just add to the deliciousness. Throw in some dried cranberries and do a little breakfast stirfry for a few minutes. At the very end, toss in your walnuts and drizzle with agave nectar. Serve and enjoy!

(Sadly, it isn’t the most photogenic dish, but I’ve seen worse. The upside is that it’s delicious!)





Vegan MoFo #3: Sweet Tooth

3 10 2008

Last weekend, we celebrated the birthday of my brother’s girlfriend. I’m used to bringing my own food to family functions now because I don’t trust that the stuff people cook will be vegan (example: the Spanish rice at the party had chicken fat in it, who knew?!) so it’s no big deal. The only time I really start to feel left out is when dessert comes around and I stare, thinking about my sweet tooth and how I wish I could eat the cakes or pies or cookies. Sure, sometimes I bring along vegan treats and don’t tell people they’re vegan, but sometimes it’s a lot of work and I just don’t feel like getting all the ingredients out to do so. (Hey, I work full-time and I’m back in school. I want to cook quick and easy things lately!)

I knew there would be cheesecake and that got me thinking about how I could really go for cheesecake. Should I make a vegan one? Oh, that takes too long with prep and baking and letting it sit in the fridge. Plus, everyone knows I wouldn’t be eating a non-vegan cheesecake, which means they’d know it was tofu, which means they’d say “eww!” and not touch it. Maybe I could make Smlove, I thought? Smlove makes the world go ’round, after all. But again, Smlove takes a lot of time. On Friday, I decided against making dessert and I would just eat fruit. Saturday morning came around, however, and I really wanted to bring along something sweet. I ran into two problems, however:

Problem #1: In an effort to save gas (the closest grocery store is 15 miles), I really didn’t want to leave the house for a few small ingredients. So I’d scour the cookbooks I had that focused on a (quick) dessert that consisted of ingredients I had in the house. Seemed easy enough, right? I had Tofutti cream cheese, silken tofu, non-dairy milk (soy and almond), flours, chocolate chips, peanut butter, agave nectar, etc. But alas, I found nothing. I didn’t have enough fruit to make a crisp, didn’t feel like going through the trouble of cakes/cookies, and a lot of the other interesting recipes called for more exotic ingredients.

Problem #2: I am not very creative in the kitchen. Isa and Terry and Joanna and random vegan blogs have saved my ass in the kitchen countless times. I just really stink at putting recipes together. Making something on my own was not going to work out.

I couldn’t overcome problem #1 (unless I wanted to go to the store) but what was the worst that could happen with problem #2? Well, it could taste horrible and I could throw it away. That’s it. So I took a risk and made these bad boys…

These are mini peanut butter cheesecake cups with peanut butter caramel and chocolate drizzle. I mixed 1/4 silken tofu with 1/4 cup of Tofutti cream cheese and 2 TBS of agave nectar with 3 TBS of peanut butter. I basically did a modified version of Isa and Terry’s PB caramel from Veganomicon (peanut butter, brown rice syrup, agave nectar) and melted some chocolate chips in the microwave with a little unsweetened soy milk. After whipping the cream cheese, tofu and sugar together, I scooped it into the mini puff pastry shells and baked them for about 10 minutes, just to firm up. I topped them with the PB caramel and chocolate drizzle, then refrigerated for an hour. The only problem with these puff pastry shells is that you have to eat them quickly or they’ll get mushy. But these were devoured quickly, and I was pretty amazed. I found that I probably didn’t need to bake them at all, so I could omit that next time. These, however, will definitely be a new dessert staple in my house.





Oh, VeganMoFo, I’m already making excuses.

3 10 2008

Today was a craptastic day. So craptastic that I ate a granola bar, some nuts and popcorn for lunch. Healthy and varied, huh? I made up for it by eating a pound of roasted asparagus for dinner.

Needless to say, I haven’t got the time for a VeganMoFo post. But I figured a post about why I couldn’t post was better than nothing, right? (Wrong, I’m sure.)
Tomorrow, however, it’s on.





Whoa, VeganMoFo is here!

1 10 2008

Happy VeganMoFo day 1, everyone! Blogging regularly is not my strong point, but I’m sure going to try. I’ve got a lot of things I want to talk about pertaining to veganism (what got me here, what’s keeping me still, the support system, eating out, etc.) so hopefully I can keep it up!

The question I get asked most when I tell people I’m vegan is the ever-annoying “but.. but.. what do you eat?!” and I start listing things like “oh, lots of veggies, fresh fruit, beans, grains, tofu, tempeh, seitan, pasta, lots of stuff!” People often ask me if I miss cheese or ice cream and really, I don’t. People often seem perplexed by the fact that I am so happy about being vegan and that I don’t feel deprived in the slightest. I know that it’s different for everyone, but the moment I made the decision to cut out all animal products from my life, I knew that it was the best choice I could possibly ever make for myself. I knew that doing this for myself, my health and mental clarity, the animals, the environment — I could never go back to eating all that crap, knowing where it comes from.

With that said, it isn’t that easy for everyone. You have to know how to cook, where to shop, what you can eat at restaurants, how to scour an ingredient list, don’t be afraid to ask questions. As for me, living in central Florida is not always the best place for a vegetarian or vegan, but I know my resources and use them quite often. Here are some of my recommendations for Orlando-area vegans/vegetarians.

Restaurants:

Ethos Vegan Kitchen — Orlando has its own vegan restaurant! The restaurant is located on the adorable strip on S. Orange Ave, near all the fun antique shops. They have a great welcoming staff, a delicious (but small–though I hope they start expanding!) menu, good prices, and delicious food. My personal favorites are the “What’s the Dilly, Philly?” (sauteed seitan, onions, peppers, Vegenaise, FYH mozz, served on bread of your choice) and 10″ personal pizza with 3 toppings of your choice and FYH mozz. They also serve brunch exclusively on Sundays — the pancakes and biscuits & gravy are the best ever.

Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian food — this place is so good. Everything is 100% vegetarian and the staff is very helpful when it comes to deciphering ingredients. Masala dosais for the win!

Garden Cafe — vegetarian chinese at its finest. I could live off of their Sweet & Sour Chicken!

Grocery Stores:

Whole Foods – Obviously, one of the world’s largest all natural chain. Obviously they have plenty of non-vegetarian and vegan items here, but they also have a store brand of wonderful essential ingredients, like tofu, soymilk, canned beans, pastas, and of course – the bulk bins! The store in Winter Park off of Aloma will always be my favorite, but the new location in the Dr. Phillips area has their own nut butter churner! You can get fresh peanut butter and cashew butter for $4.99/lb, and almond butter for $8.99/lb. This stuff is AMAZING! They also have a hot/cold salad bar that has many labeled vegan/vegetarian items for $7.99/lb. Yes, it’s pretty pricy, but worth the splurge every once in awhile. I indulged last week:

(in no particular order: baba ganoush w/naan, chinese style seitan & vegetables, corn/edamame/tomato salad, oriental tofu and udon noodle pasta salad, Morroccan cucumber salad, shiitake mushroom & tofu scramble)

Chamberlin’s Market & Cafe – another great grocery store that central Florida has. Some of their stuff is a little too high for my price range, but they have bulk bins, fresh homemade bread, a salad bar, and the best wall of non-dairy milks I’ve ever seen.

FARMER’S MARKETS:

I wrote that in caps because I truly believe that farmer’s markets are the most important part of it all. Fresh vegetables and fruit are some of the most delicious things that nature has to offer us, and I couldn’t imagine a diet of faux-meats and pastas with no fresh stuff. When you shop at a farmer’s market, it ensures that your food is not only fresh, but local. Would you rather buy the tomatoes from the grocery store that traveled thousands of miles away or would you rather buy the ones that were picked from vines just a few days ago? If you’ve never had a fresh picked vine ripe tomato, please run–don’t walk–to your local farmer’s market and eat one by itself. You can visit Local Harvest to find out where to find a farmer’s market or CSA’s in your area.

There’s probably a lot more I can add, but my dinner is almost finished, so I’ll leave you all with that. Tomorrow I’ve got a post ready for mini peanut butter cheesecakes with peanut butter caramel and chocolate drizzle – oh my!





It’s almost time for VeganMoFo.

29 09 2008

I am a bad blogger. It isn’t that I forget about blogging, really, but mostly that I’m tired and don’t know what to say and I have been generally boring lately with regards to eating. It’s mostly some beans, some grains, some veggies. I haven’t been using cookbooks and I haven’t been taking pictures of my food. Really, it’s pretty depressing. But I have a feeling that VeganMoFo is going to save the day! It’s almost October 1st, so I’m prepping. I am debating what to talk about for the first entry of the month and I think I’ve got it. Stay tuned!





Greek Pasta Salad

13 08 2008

I really appreciate the fact that everyone in my family will either a) make vegan versions of things for me or b) notify me as to whether I should bring my own dinner. It really stinks showing up to someone’s house to find out you’re eating lettuce for dinner. Granted, I always try to come prepared, but still. Last month, my brother’s girlfriend prepared a nice meal of steak (not vegan, obviously), baby red potatoes with onions, asparagus and greek pasta salad. The pasta salad, however, was loaded with mayo and feta cheese so she made a separate dish with olive oil & balsamic vinegar sans feta for me. It was thoughtful and I was grateful, especially considering how delicious this was. I’ve re-created it with additions and subtractions quite a few times, and it’s quickly turning into one of my favorite pasta salad meals. No picture because all of the photographs I took of it did not look so appetizing.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 box of pasta (your choice here — I like Hodgson Mill whole wheat bowties)

1 cup of chopped green onions, both white and green parts

1 cup halved (or quartered) grape or cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup diced pimentos

1/2 cup diced roasted red peppers

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/4 cup diced banana peppers

1/4 cup vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise, you should too)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (any olive oil should work, really)

1 tablespoon of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning

a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Optional ingredients:

- kalamata olives (I hate olives, sorry!)

- vegan feta (I am too cheap)

- marinated mushrooms (I was out)

- vegan pepperoni (I am not allowed near the stuff — Yves is like crack for me)

Obviously, you boil the pasta and drain.  Prepare all your veggies.  Then mix everything together.  This is best served cold, but I generally can’t help but sneaking a few bites while still warm is okay, as well.  Serve at a potluck or with some veggie burgers.








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