Friday, December 31, 2010

Beet Carrot Apple Juice

When I was a kid, my favorite color was magenta.  I think I loved the word (which I of course learned from a box of Crayolas) as much as the color itself.  While my favorite color has matured (or devolved) into the popular blue, I must admit that magenta still makes me happy.  When I got my juicer this fall, I discovered that I can drink magenta - and it's sweet! 

Beet juice should be drunk in moderation, according to anyone who writes about this on the interwebs.  Beets have a very high oxalate content, which can be toxic in large amounts, and oxalate likes to bind with calcium.  So don't juice it with fruits and vegetables high in calcium, like oranges or leafy greens, or you'll get a bunch of gritty calcium oxalate in your magenta juice.  And don't drink it at all if you get kidney stones. 

That said, it's a wonderful world where this:

 becomes this:

That's a tall glass of magenta - Yum!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Microwaved Sweet Potato

How have I just discovered this?  It's probably because I've lived without a microwave in two of my previous apartments.  Apparently you can nuke sweet potatoes.  You should, really.  I made a meal out of it - lunch, dinner - whatever it is that happens at 4:30.  This is too silly to write up as a recipe, but what the heck.

One sweet potato (1/2-1 lb)
Earth Balance (optional)

Put sweet potato on a paper towel on a plate, poke with a fork a few times, and microwave for 5-10 minutes.  Mine was about 3/4 pound, and 8 minutes seemed just right.  Add Earth Balance.  Enjoy!

Now, on to the debate (no, not the one about yams and sweet potatoes - Whole Foods claims sweet potatoes are a kind of yam, Barbara Kafka of Vegetable Love says they're different, and I'm not sure I care).  No, this debate: what do we call the meal that's eaten in the late afternoon, after a late morning brunch?  Lundinner?  Dunch?  Linner?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

These are a version of one of my favorite baked goods.  They are not as low in fat and sugar as many of my other recipes, but sometimes we just need to indulge.  The coconut helps keep the cookies together and adds another element of flavor.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a cookie sheet.

Mix together flours, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In large bowl cream together margarine and sugars. Mix in mashed banana, vanilla, and baking powder. Add coconut and flour mixture in three batches, and stir well. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until just firm and with golden brown edges.  It's better to undercook than overcook.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Favorite Sandwich

Yes, I know it's just a sandwich.  This is less a recipe than a way to share something I love.  Here's what went into it:

2 slices artisan bread (this was a When Pigs Fly multi-seed variety)
1-2 T Vegenaise
1 carrot, finely shredded
1/2 tomato
4-5 slices Tofurky (the pre-sliced kind)
2 slices red onion

The salad is just mixed spring greens tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

The pickle is from Grillo's Pickles, a local company I discovered at Dave's Fresh Pasta at Midnight Madness (where local businesses in Davis Square were open late a week after Thanksgiving). 

A final note: It took me a few years after I stopped eating real turkey to try these Tofurky slices, but now I'm hooked.  I'm also hooked on Vegenaise, although I keep hoping to find the low fat version around here.   I know they're processed, but both are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients, and they're yummy.  So, that is that.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Vegan “Creamy” Mushroom Soup

Here's another soup I like to store in the freezer for the winter.  (When defrosting, it just needs to be stirred well, and the nice texture will return.)  I blend the mushroom stems (whose texture can be woody) with silken tofu  to make a creamy base.  (A non-dairy milk can be used instead of the silken tofu but would make a slightly thinner stock.)

Half pound white mushrooms
Half pound crimini mushrooms
Half ounce dried mushrooms
One onion
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vegan margarine
1 Quart veggie broth
2 tsp Better ‘n Bouillon (or 1 bouillon cube)
2 cups hot water
2 tablespoons flour
¼ cup wine (optional)
½ package silken tofu
½ teaspoon cumin
1 bay leaf (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for about a half hour. 

Remove and keep mushroom stems.  (With many mushrooms, just squeeze the stem and pop it out from the cap; I used kitchen shears to snip off the stems of the reconstituted dried mushrooms.)   Slice mushroom caps into ¼ in slices and set aside.  Chop onion and garlic.

To make creamy stock:
Chop mushroom stems finely (I used a mini food processor this time).  In a small saucepan, heat about a half tablespoon of olive oil and add a half tablespoon of garlic and a quarter of the onion.  Cook until translucent and add the chopped mushroom stems.

Cook in the oil for a few minutes until limp and golden brown.  Add about a cup of the veggie broth and cook down for about 5-7 minutes until the stems are softened.  Add more veggie broth if it the liquid cooks down. 

Add the mushroom stems mixture, the dried mushroom liquid (and more broth if necessary), and the silken tofu to a blender.  Puree in blender until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the olive oil and margarine in a large soup pot and add the onions until softened.  Add the rest of the garlic to the onions in the large pot and continue sautéing for another 2 minutes.  Add mushroom caps to the onions and garlic in the large pot.  Add cumin, salt, and pepper.  Continue sautéing the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they are flexible.

Add the wine (I used white, but red works too) to the mushrooms, cook for about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons flour over the mushrooms and stir it in.  Add the rest of the veggie broth gradually, stir.  Add bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, add bouillon and water, mix, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the pureed stems mixture and bring to a boil.  Add additional salt and spices and water/broth/soy milk to taste. Serve with crusty whole wheat bread and a salad.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unbelievably Easy Seitan

Since returning from a year in Minneapolis, the Mock Duck Capital of North America, I have been in withdrawal from the wheat-gluten-based vegan protein.  I found some seitan at Whole Foods (different color/basically the same food), and it was great but expensive - $4 a package.  Seitan has the highest concentration of any vegan protein source, at about 22-23 grams per 100 calories.  (In contrast, tofu has about 9-12 grams of protein per serving.)  It's delicious (imho) and, it turns out, really easy to make.

For the boiling broth:
4 cups vegetable broth/bouillon
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped garlic

For the seitan:
1 cup vegetable broth/bouillon (room temperature or cold)
1 cup wheat gluten
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Bring the broth (first mixture) to a boil in a large pot.  Mix the wheat gluten and spices together and add the cooler broth slowly, mixing until it forms a spongy dough.

Knead the dough for about a minute.  Reduce the boiling broth to a simmer (and this is apparently important, as putting the dough into rapidly boiling broth will make the seitan tougher). Pull or cut off pieces of about 2" x 1" and drop into the pot of broth.  Cook at a low boil/simmer for about an hour. 

Remove the pieces and use in a stir fry or any dish that calls for chicken or tofu.  They can be stored in the fridge in their own broth.  I've also stored it in the freezer, without the broth, and that seems to work fine.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I posted this a few weeks ago on my Facebook page, but I thought I would reproduce it here.  I might copy a few others over as I go along, and so I'm sorry for the repeat to my FB friends.

I recently discovered the joys of candy-making when I had an excess of vegan caramel (and pecans and chocolate) leftover from making candy apples with friends (hence - turtles!).  So I thought I would try making some of my other favorite candies at home.  It is surprisingly difficult to find vegan peanut butter cups, but not so hard to make!  They may not be pretty, but they're yummy!

For the filling:
  • 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used a mini chopper, but you could probably crush them by hand)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (no added sugar)
For the chocolate coating:
  • 1/2 pound vegan dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's)

Mix the ingredients for the filling together with an electric mixer on low until it resembles cookie dough.

  Melt the chocolate, either in a double boiler or in the microwave (heat in
  30 sec increments, stirring between each, until melted).

Using pastry brush, line the cups with chocolate.  Let set in freezer for about 10 minutes.

Form the filling into balls and drop into cups, being careful not to break the chocolate by pushing too hard. 

Pour chocolate over each cup and use spreader to even off top. Leave in freezer for about 20 minutes to set.  


Note: What is pictured here is about a quarter of the recipe.  Adapted from, where you can find a much more professional-sounding process.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spicy Creamy Vegan Squash Soup

This is a version of a soup I make almost every year, out of whatever winter vegetables (squashes and root vegetables) I have on hand from my Boston Organics bin.  Sweet potatoes can also be a nice addition, but I didn't have any this year.  This recipe isn't precise because I make it up as I go along.  This time I added silken tofu for some protein and a creamy texture.

2 Butternut squashes, cubed (about 1" square)
3-4 carrots, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 onions, cut in 4 sections
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 quarts vegetable broth
2-3 tablespoons agave syrup, to taste (maple syrup or honey would probably also work okay)
1 package silken tofu
cayenne pepper (leave out if you don't want it hot-spicy)
1-2 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 450 F and coat a large roasting pan with olive oil.  Add squash, carrots, onions, and garlic to the pan, sprinkle with olive oil and mix to coat.  Shake salt, paprika, and cayenne over the veggies.  Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, until the veggies begin to brown.

In a large pot, heat olive oil on high and add the onions (pick them out of the mix with a fork), cook until translucent, stirring constantly.  Add the rest of the veggies and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add broth and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover to simmer for 45 - 60 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Blend silken tofu in blender until it forms a smooth, creamy liquid.  Set aside.  Blend the soup in batches until smooth.  Make sure to add enough liquid to each batch so that it mixes well.  Return the soup to the pot, add silken tofu, stirring to mix.  Add about 1 teaspoon cumin, 2-3 tablespoons agave syrup, and salt to taste.  (This last step is where you get the taste just right, and so I recommend adding these elements a little at a time and taste the soup each time until you like it.  You might need more or less of each flavor).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Vegan Ice Cream

I just got an inexpensive, small ice cream maker (Hamilton Beach), and I'm having fun making vegan ice cream.  It's cheaper than buying non-dairy ice cream in the store, often lower in fat and calories, and I can play with flavors.  I like to make a large batch of the liquid mix and then make one serving at a time.  The ice cream from this machine is soft and doesn't keep well, but it's quick and easy.

My second try, this peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream, turned out great.  The peanut flour gives it a peanut buttery taste with all the protein but a lot less fat.  You could substitute any non-dairy milk combination for the coconut-almond mixture I used.

1 package silken tofu
3/4 cup coconut milk beverage
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
Peanut flour (Trader Joe's carries this now)

Mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life)

Mix all ingredients in a blender except chocolate chips until smooth.  Pour into ice cream maker and add chocolate chips when almost ready.

First Post

I love food.  I love talking about food.  And I am, ostensibly, a writer - in that I am writing my doctoral dissertation, which unfortunately has little to do with food.  Since moving to an entirely vegan diet, I find that preparing food has become an exciting creative endeavor.  I've been lately sharing my food creations, both in life and on Facebook, and a few people have suggested a blog.  I must admit I don't know much about how to do this, but it seems like a great way to procrastinate, and so I'm going to give it a try.

If you like what you see, leave a comment.  That way I'll know I have an audience.  Enjoy!