Friday, February 18, 2011

Vegans on TV

I woke on Wednesday to see that I had received a text from my Dad.  It said: "They're talking about Vegans on the 8:40 segment of Good Morning America."   He is three hours ahead on the East Coast, so I had plenty of time to still tune in to see the segment when it aired in California.  It was a quick little interview with Kathy Freston, but her message was great:  eating a diet of things that grow in the ground or on trees greatly reduces many health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.  It also adds years to your life, and just makes you a healthier, happier, and slimmer person!  I don't know why everyone is NOT a vegan!  Click on this link to see the segment:

The Veganist on Good Morning America

I love that the Vegan diet and life stlye is being more loudly proclaimed throughout this country of fast-food restaurants and massive beef and dairy industries.  A few weeks ago, JT told me about an interview she had seen with Bill Clinton advocating his new Vegan diet.  After his heart bypass surgery, he desperately needed to change his eating habits, and what better way than to be a vegan!  I mean, come on, if the former President of the United States can do it, why can't more people do it?

Bill Clinton is a vegan

I forwarded the above link to my husband, a lover of steak (but also happily adapting to the vegan meals I prepare at home), and he sent it to his friend that worked with Clinton on a foundation in Africa several years ago.  Both guys were impressed, and even PH said he's going to go Vegan now too (right after his next grill party, that is... yeah, yeah yeah.)

It seems that I almost have everyone I know now convinced of a Vegan diet, right?!  Sadly, that's not true.  If I have to hear my friends ask me where I get my protein and calcium one more time I might ninja-chop them all.  What do they think vegetables and whole grains consist of, air?  People also seem to think that there's absolutely nothing to eat if one does not eat meat.  Hello, have you heard of those colorful, tasty things called vegetables?  You can barbecue them right up on the grill next to (but not touching) your precious ribs.  Also, there is such a thing as a salad without egg crumbles, grilled chicken and blue cheese dressing.  If you take the carne asada out of that burrito, what do you get?  Beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and a flour tortilla.  All those things I can eat.  What if you take the ground beef out of the pasta sauce?  You still have tomatoes, garlic, basil, and some yummy pasta, hopefully made out of whole wheat and whole grains, but even if it's just regular old pasta, I can still eat it.  I can even go to a pizza place with you, just order half a pizza loaded with veggies and no cheese, please. One of our friends had us over for a pizza party at his house a while back.  I was thrilled and touched that he remembered I was a vegan, because I found a whole lovely cheese-free pizza waiting there, just for me!  He made it with whole wheat dough, olive oil, garlic, ground pepper, mushrooms and onions.  It was so delicious!  Thank you ML! 

You know, it's the simplest things like a home-made vegan pizza that make me realize, maybe my efforts aren't in vain.  :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beans, Beans. They're good for your heart...

A few days ago I was chatting with JT on gmail.  She mentioned something about how she eats beans and rice practically every day.  I said I love beans too, but haven't been eating them much lately because I've been making so many European soups and nutty cheeses lately...

Both of us are Vegan and beans can help provide important daily protein.  I had even just read in a bean cookbook recently that if eat beans on a daily basis, your body will start adjusting and you won't get as much gas from them after awhile.  Also, using dry beans helps eliminate alot of the gassy stuff.

Needless to say, I started getting really hungry for beans and rice.  I told J that she had inspired me, and I HAD to have some kind of beans for dinner that night.  Luckly, I had some dry pinto beans in the pantry, so I boiled and soaked them for a little over an hour.  When they were ready to cook, I added some vegetable broth, onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes and a bunch of spices.  I stewed it all together for awhile so it turned out to be a big bean soup.  YUM!  Of course I made some rice, and chowed down.

Last night, again I was craving beans and rice.  Since I was too hungry to wait for the dry beans to soak and all that, I used a can of natural black beans from Sprouts.  This time I used garlic and tomatoes again, but tried a few dashes of cumin, tumeric, and chilli powder.  My grandma said she used those spices in a bean soup she makes, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Wow!  It was delicious!  I would never have thought to add them to bean soup.  I topped the finished it with more fresh tomatoes and some avocodo slices, and of course a few drops of Tapa Tio.  It was so good, I think I'm going to eat it for breakfast right now.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nutty Pimento Tomato Sauce (Vegan Cheesy Sauce)

On Friday, one of my coworkers (and fellow veggie-lover!) in the accounting department emailed me some vegan recipes to try.  I was super excited about the vegan cheese sauce recipe because I've been trying to find a good cheese to make on my own.  The recipe says you can serve it warm as an actual sauce over pasta or baked potatoes, etc.  Or, you can refrigerate it to use as a "cheese spread."  I wanted to try both!  

First, I made the sauce and some quinoa spiral pasta.  While they were both still hot I mixed them together and added a few dashes of Tapa Tio to spice it up a little.  After tasting a few bites and deciding it was delicious, I gave a small dish to my husband to try.  I warned him, "You can't think of this as tasting exactly like cheese..."

Because, in all reality, it doesn't taste like cheese.  But it's yellow and creamy and I like it.  It will do just fine for me, thank you.  W took a bite and nodded his approval before gobbling down the rest of his bowl full of "cheesy" pasta.  He did manage to mumble through his mouthful that it tasted nutty.  Of course it does!  It's made of cashews.  After a few bites I started to vaguely remember something like this my mother made once when I was a kid.  At that time, she sold it to the family as a "cheese" and I hated it!  I remember I couldn't even get one bite down my throat, and she never made it again.  Funny how our tastes change as an adult, and we are more open to try to different things.  Another example is mushrooms.  I was disgusted and nauseated by even the smell of mushrooms until about two months ago when I made a vegan green bean casserole that called for mushrooms, and I loved it!  Now I use mushrooms in everything!

Anyway, back to the cheesy sauce...

Once the sauce stiffened a little, we tried it as a nacho sauce with our corn chips.  It was AMAZING mixed with a little roasted tomato salsa and garlic salt.  I didn't take a picture of that because we were too busy enjoying our new Nacho creation.  It will be perfect for Super Bowl Sunday today!  I'm also making a loaf of pignoli bread on which to try the cheesy sauce as a spread.  I'm going to bring all these creations to the super bowl party today and see what the "non-vegans" think.  W said I shouldn't market it as a "cheese," which is true, because if I put the word cheese in the description, it will be misleading to people who are expecting something to taste like cheese.

Therefore, I am now calling it my "Nutty Pimento Tomato Sauce (or Spread.)"

Here is the recipe.  Thanks C.N!

2 cups water
1/4 cup pimento
2 tbso nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder (I didn't have this, so I used seasoning salt instead!  Worked out great!)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Pour mixture into a saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture becomes thick.  (I did this for about 10 minutes).



Tonight we visited a quaint little French village, high up in the alps of France...

Actually, let's visit the Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York at the turn of the century (the 20th century that is).  This is where this French soup was first created.  Loius Diat remembered a potato-leek soup his grandmother used to make when he was a child in Vichy, France, and wanted to recreate the dish for patrons of the hotel.  Thus an American-French soup called vichysoisse was born.  (I googled how to pronounce it and it goes like this "vee-shee-swah.")

I again turned to The Soup Bible and followed their recipe, making only a few modifications to veganify it.  It turned to be exactly what we needed on this chilly Southern California evening.  Even without the creme fraiche it called for, the soup was still thick and creamy and delicious!

Here's what I did:

Peeled and cubed 1 1/2 large potatoes.  I then added them to six cups of vegetable stock and let that boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Next, I added two garlic cloves and 1 cup of sliced leeks.  I let that simmer for another 15 minutes.  Finally, I scooped out the potato chunks and leeks and pureed about 3/4 of them before stirring the puree back into the broth. 

With a dash of salt and pepper and some parsely as a garnish we sat down to a lovely Ritz-Carlton feast!  I also made some orzo pasta in a mushroom sauce for a side dish. 

P.S.  W and I polished off the entire pot of vichysoisse by the end of the night.  Yum!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eating Healthy On The Go

I haven't been posting many interesting recipes lately, because it's starting to be that time of year when I travel a lot.  That means, meals on the go -- eating in my car, at a table in Whole Foods or in a hotel room.  Healthy eating while traveling takes a lot of creativity and planning ahead.  Most times I make sure to stock up on Larabars, Lundberg Rice Cakes, and Tofurkey Jurky.  I also plan on stopping at grocery stores (Whole Foods preferably) for fresh veggies and fruit.

Last week, I did eat a lot of salads from Wholes Foods and on one day -- a lunch of Korean banchan from an Asian Supermarket.  Not too bad!  My evening snack of chips and salsa doesn't sound that healthy, but the chips were at least organic, whole grain, and salsa is just vegetables right?

I always miss making my own meals, but I guess I could do worse than Whole Foods and Asian Supermarkets.

As always, stay tuned for more delicious meals to come!  I'm on a soup kick, so this weekend I'll conquer a French soup I can't even pronounce but looks delicious.