Sunday, December 30, 2012

In praise of Ipomoea batatas, the sweet potato

I love sweet potatoes.  To me, they are one of the yummiest, most satisfying starches around (and I take my starches very seriously).  It was not always thus.  When I was a little kid, I would only eat sweet potatoes if they had been candied.  I don't know whether sweet potatoes have gotten sweeter or my tastes have changed, or both, but now I like plain, baked sweet potatoes the best.  I bake them until they are sitting in sticky puddles of caramelized sugar, and they are perfect without anything added to them.  They certainly don't need to be candied -- they already are candy.

Sweet potatoes come in several different colors.  A week or so ago I bought these purple ones from Trader Joe's:

Butter knife included for scale
 They were kind of puny and unassuming, albeit with an intriguing purple tinge to the skin.  But look what happens to them when they're baked, peeled, and mashed:

Purple sweet potatoes are very high in anthocyanins, the same antioxidants that are in blueberries.  I don't know if the sweet potatoes mugged some blueberries for their antioxidants or what, but whoa.  That is some purple food.

I'd say the main reason to buy these is the color.  I baked them, and because they were so small they got kind of dry.  I also think the flesh is naturally drier than that of the typical orange sweet potato.  The taste is about the same.   Peeling all those little potatoes was kind of a pain.  But it was worth it because purple!

Yesterday I went produce shopping at Wegman's, which is usually a good place to get sweet potatoes.  I didn't see any purple ones, but I got about 7 or 8 pounds of orange and two pounds of white.  I had never tried the white ones before and thought I would check them out.  This morning I baked them all and peeled them, so they'd be ready to eat throughout the week:

The "white" ones.  As you can see, the flesh is more of a Yukon Gold sort of color.

Classic orange.  Look at all those dark spots where the sugars caramelized.  Om nom nom.

  Wikipedia says the white sweet potatoes are not as sweet as the orange ones.  They must be thinking of some other white sweet potatoes.  These were hella sweet, maybe even sweeter than the orange ones.  They were so sweet, in fact, that I couldn't eat my usual lunchtime fruit because I was on sugar overload.

My lunch.  "White" sweet potato, broccoli, and soy kheema.  Yes, we are still eating that stuff.
Some fun facts about sweet potatoes:

  • They are native to Central America and were first cultivated in what would become the Southern United States in the 16th century.
  • They are members of the same genus as morning glories.  Check out this blossom: 
  • They are not yams.  Totes different genus, family, everything.  According to the World's Healthiest Foods web site, which I am not linking to here because there is a disgusting picture of a dead turkey that follows you everywhere you go on it, the archetypal orange sweet potato was first introduced to the U.S. in the mid-20th century, and the growers called them "yams" to distinguish them from the sweet potatoes everyone was familiar with, which were white.  Of course the people responsible for this web site also appear to believe dead birds are among the world's healthiest foods, so I don't know how much credence to give this story.  Wegman's calls both the orange and the white sweet potatoes "yams." 

 I baked 10 pounds of russet potatoes this morning, too.  When it comes to starchy tubers, I believe in equal opportunity regardless of genus.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Edible gifts redux

I wanted to follow up on my post about soup in a jar and show you how it turned out.

My girlfriend decided she wanted to give these as office gifts, too.  We set up an assembly line and ended up making 14 of them.  She tied the labels on with some festive yarn.

A few tips, if you decide to do this:

  • If you're making up a big batch of the spice blend in advance, as I did, it will not go as far as you think it will.  We had to stop midway through and make some more.  I think this is probably the result of settling, since I made the spice blend the night before.  
  • A canning funnel was a huge help when it came to pouring the lentils and rice into the jars without getting them all over the table.
  • Tap the jar firmly on the table after each addition, to keep the layers level and make sure the jars are packed tight.  That will keep them looking nice when you shlep them to wherever they're going.
We packed these in gift bags with tissue paper, and included a can of coconut milk with each jar (another protip:  Trader Joe's coconut milk is only $0.99 a can!  They also had good prices on red lentils and jasmine rice.).  

Everyone really seemed pleased to receive these.  They were also impressed that we had made them ourselves, which made me laugh -- yes, I poured ingredients into a jar all by myself!  Also, I was afraid this was a hackneyed idea, but people acted like it was a great novelty.  Several commented on how creative I am (!).  Of course Glue and Glitter is the creative one, and I did give her credit.  I guess it all depends on what you're used to.

We wanted to know how it tasted, of course, so I made a batch with some ingredients we had left over:

I followed the printed directions exactly (except I used a little less olive oil than called for).  I like the combination of the two kinds of lentils.  The red ones disintegrated and the brown ones stayed relatively firm, which was a nice contrast.  I also love the aromatic spices, and the creamy richness of the coconut milk.  If I were going to make it again:

  • I would add more liquid.  The rice really drank it all up, and as you can see above I ended up with a porridgelike consistency (in fact, I have been eating this as my breakfast starch and it fills that role nicely).
  • I would use brown rice instead of white.  I think I just prefer a little more chewiness.  Wild rice might be nice, too.  I've been eating a fair amount of wild rice lately.
  • More spice.  Maybe some garam masala.  Maybe more black pepper.  Maybe a little cayenne.  Also, the recipe calls for "salt to taste" and it definitely needed the salt.  It might not if there were more heat in it.
  • Maybe change the proportions of beans to rice.  As written it's about half and half.  I think I would prefer 2/3 beans to 1/3 rice, or maybe even 3/4 to 1/4.  But I'm a huge bean fan and your mileage may vary.
  • Maybe throw some more veggies in there.  Cabbage.  Carrots.  Spinach.  Of course then we're really moving away from the "just about everything you need is in the jar" concept.
To sum up -- it's a nice bowl of comfort food and probably a good starter recipe for people who are afraid of Indian cooking, but I don't think I would make it as written again.  I do think it would be a good starting point for my own creation, though, and that's often how I use recipes, especially for soup.

I had to laugh, because unbeknownst to me, my boss had bought me two bags of chili mix from a group called the Women's Bean Project.  I'm soaking the beans from one bag this morning, and will be making chili later today.  I'll give a review of that one when it's done.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Among the normals

Yesterday was my office "Christmas party."  I thought I'd write a little bit about this to give a glimpse of how a vegan with an eating disorder deals with Christmas food and festivities.

The restaurant was lovely -- for an omnivore.  I knew I was going to have to plan ahead, so I looked at the menu on line the day before.  I did see that a vegan could order pasta with red sauce (at least I assume the red sauce was vegan; I wasn't going to eat it so I didn't check), but I don't eat pasta.  But this place had side dishes that could be ordered separately.  Thank the FSM for side dishes.  Lots of restaurants don't seem to have them any more, but they can really help a vegan out.

My typical lunch is starch, protein, vegetable, fruit.  I saw that I would be able to order a plain baked potato and steamed spinach, but no protein.  So I went home and made my favorite baked tofu, from Appetite for Reduction. A three-ounce serving wrapped in plastic wrap fit very nicely in my purse.  Then when it was time to order, I got the baked potato ("no butter, no sour cream") and spinach.  I unwrapped my tofu and put it on my bread plate.  There wasn't any fruit for me to order, so I ate a banana when I got home.

The baked potato was good, with a nice crisp skin.  The spinach was meh.  It was baby spinach, which was nice, and it wasn't overcooked, but they didn't do a good job draining it.  I also found a rogue piece of spaghetti in the bottom of the bowl (with the cooking water that should have been drained away).  Ew.  Also, the portion was tiny ("The food was terrible!  And such small portions!").  I really should have ordered two vegetables, but at those prices I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Fortunately, my coworkers are used to me.  I got a few questions about the tofu (one person seemed unaware that tofu can be purchased in a grocery store), but none of the interrogation or mocking I've read about on  vegan message boards.  I'm amazed by the crap some vegans have to deal with.

The lunchtime conversation reminded me how fortunate I am, to have a way to deal with food.  This is the time of year that amateurs who don't normally overeat start acting like people with binge eating disorder.  There has been a steady stream of junk food gifts to my office -- cookies, cupcakes, popcorn, chocolate -- and apparently everyone but me has been snacking all day (most of the stuff isn't vegan, but when I was deep in the throes of my eating disorder that would not have stopped me).  People were complaining about stomach aches and weight gain.  In January they'll all be heading to Weight Watchers and the gym.  Meanwhile I'm all "starch, protein, vegetable, fruit, repeat."  I've been getting more exercise lately, wearing a pedometer and taking 10,000 steps  a day.  My knee isn't thrilled, but otherwise my body feels great.  I don't know how much I weigh (a topic for another post), but I'd guess my weight has stayed the same or even gone down a little bit.

It seems like normal people overeat around the holidays, and then when the holidays are over they go back to normal eating or do a diet or a cleanse for a while.  The last time I did any holiday overeating, it took me about six months to stop.  People say "My disease doesn't take a holiday, so I can't either."   I have to eat the same way all the time.  No highs and no lows.  It's like what I wrote a month ago about living on a plateau.

One of the weird things about being in recovery is that people say things like "you have so much self control."  Someone said that at the holiday lunch yesterday when I didn't order dessert.  I said, "I really don't."  What is hard for normal people to understand is that if I had any self control, I wouldn't have to eat this way.   But that's okay.  For today I'm feeling really peaceful, and I don't mind.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Body love

Gena at Choosing Raw has a really thoughtful new post about what it means to love your body.  My favorite quote:
They say true love is about being able to put someone else’s needs above one’s own. For me, body love means that I prioritize my body’s best interests when my mind would have me do otherwise—when it would have me deprive my body for the sake of appeasing its own obsessive tendencies. When I’m tempted to be selfish and hold back, I give—usually in the form of nourishing food, mindful movement, and the experience of pleasure—instead.
Yes.  This.   My body needs nourishing food, movement, and sleep, all in the right quantities (not too much, not too little).  Sometimes I don't feel like giving it any of those things.  Giving it those things takes work and organization, and sometimes it seems like a deprivation or a punishment.  But it isn't -- it is an act of love.

When people eat unhealthy food they call it "indulging."  As Christmas approaches, there has been a steady stream of food gifts to my office, and people are doing a lot of indulging.  Someone told me this morning that yesterday when she got home she felt sick, and she realized it was because she ate too many sweets at work.  I think of "indulging" as involving a pleasure, but what she described didn't have a lot of pleasure in it. She said she didn't even know why she had eaten like that.

I looked up "indulge" in the dictionary, and here's what I got for the first definition:
to yield to an inclination or desire; allow oneself to follow one's will.
When I hear "willful" I think of a toddler throwing a tantrum.  I think of the id.  In the program I belong to, we talk a lot about following the will of a power greater than ourselves.  For a lot of people that means God.  For me, it means something wiser than my toddler-id-monkey brain.  I heard someone say recently that for him the power greater than himself is love and acceptance.  It could be love and acceptance of the body and its needs.

Lately I've been giving my body more of what it needs.  I haven't been "indulging" in any of the holiday food that sits right outside my office.  I am clearly not at total peace about this, as the fact that it's all right outside my office is constantly on my mind, but I haven't struggled.  Several times I've said quietly, "Help me get through this."  I don't know who or what I'm asking for help -- maybe it is my own body wisdom.  All I know is that when I ask for it, I receive it.  And I feel love.    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Kitty-chan leads the parade down Central Park West!
Kudos to me -- I'm getting my Thanksgiving post done before Christmas.

As I posted before I went to NY, I have an amazing family.  My omnivore mom and aunt planned a totally  vegan Thanksgiving dinner, even though my girlfriend and I were going to be the only vegans there.  And everything was so delicious, I photographed it all and collected the recipes.  (My aunt said afterwards, "I hope you got some pictures of the family, too."  Um, oops.)

We tend not to have "traditional" Thanksgiving foods at our Thanksgiving dinners.  Before I went vegan, I was vegetarian for many years, and my mom didn't see the point in cooking a turkey I wasn't going to eat.  For a while we had a mini-tradition of eating spinach lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner.   But we've had all kinds of different things.  Last year Thanksgiving was just my mom, my girlfriend, and me, and I cooked all Indian dishes except for the desserts.  The one constant has always been cranberry sauce, but this year we didn't even do that.  We did have cranberry desserts though, so I guess cranberries are the constant.

I tried to take pictures of all the delicious food, but when I got home and started to upload the photos, I couldn't find my picture of the main courses!  So you'll have to live without that, but But then I found it a month later and edited the post, so yay! I do have recipes, or information about how to get the recipes, for everything I ate.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Edible Gifts

I don't give a lot of holiday gifts.  I'm Jewish, and when I was growing up Chanukah was never a gift-giving extravaganza the way Christmas seems to be.  These days I buy Chanukah gifts for three people -- my mom and my two little cousins -- and those were all shipped out a week ago or more.  But I do believe in playing well with others, so I try to give a little edible gift to my coworkers every year.

Last year I made the candy cane variation of this fudge, and it was a huge hit.  But I don't eat stuff like that any more, and I didn't want the ingredients in my house.  I also read an article about food gifts that spoke to me -- it said everyone is already inundated with junk food at Christmas, and would appreciate something healthy.  So I hit on soup mix in a jar.

It's not so easy to find a soup-in-a-jar recipe that is both vegan and delicious-sounding, but I finally hit on this one, courtesy of Glue and Glitter.  It sounds yummy, and I had a lot of the supplies in the house, including some leftover pint canning jars. And  G and G even provides cute little recipe tags to print out! My girlfriend and I decided we would both give these to our coworkers.  We are going to include a can of coconut milk with the jar of soup mix, since that's an ingredient a lot of people don't have lying around in their pantries (if people don't have olive oil, onions, and garlic lying around, they are never going to cook anything and I give up).  Yesterday we replenished our supply of canning jars and lids, and got some cute little gift bags that are NOT Christmas themed.  We also made the spice mix, which included removing a huge pile of cardamom seeds from their pods and grinding them, because that's how we roll around here.  That was probably the most time consuming aspect of the whole project.

This morning I made up a prototype, with stuff I happened to have in the house:

Cute, right?  The layers of lentils and rice didn't come out as even as I would like.  I'll have to work on that.  Maybe I'll go ahead and cook this one for us -- we talked about doing a taste test.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Top of the world

We interrupt this food blog to notice how freaking awesome my life is:

1. First of all, it's 4:30 a.m. and I am wide awake, wearing sneakers, and about to go to the gym.  That's kind of a miracle in itself.

2. The clinical depression I've been dealing with for most of my adult life is no longer really an issue.  Yes, I take drugs every day and will probably have to forever, but they work.  I'm not in therapy any more. Every 3 months I go to my shrink, I tell him I'm fine, he renews my prescriptions at the same dose.  Most of the time, if you ask me how I am, the answer is "great," or "happy."  Every once in a while I have a shitty day for no apparent reason -- just like everyone else on the planet.

3. I have a job.  What's more, I'm good at my job, and the people I work with appreciate me.

4. I have a really nice place to live, and we can afford it.  There's not a whole lot of money left after we pay the rent, but we can afford it.

5. I'm about to get married.  Legally.  Got a license and everything.

6. My relationship with my girlfriend is . . . . mind boggling.  We are just about always on the same page.  I am always glad to see her.  We don't argue, and it's not because there is all kinds of repressed shit.  Every once in a while we get grumpy with each other, then we realize it's low blood sugar, eat lunch and we're fine again.

It occurs to me that this list really isn't out of place on a food blog, because all of the above is contingent on what and how I eat.  When I eat the way I'm supposed to, this is my life.  When I don't, it all goes to shit pretty much immediately.  I feel pretty stupid about how long it's taken me to get this, but I suppose I should set that aside and just focus on making sure it continues.

I feel really grateful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The way I eat now

A few weeks ago I posted about plateaus and I talked a little about my recovery from my eating disorder, and my food plan.  I want to revisit that a little bit today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vegan Kheema!

In my last post I said I would be back with a picture of my textured soy protein creation.  Feast your eyes on this Indian yumminess:

That's a bed of cooked millet, topped with Mock Kheema adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker, and surrounded by Punjabi-Style Cabbage from Vegan Indian Cooking.  Anupy Singla, I love you.

I've talked about The Indian Slow Cooker before.  It's not a vegetarian book, but most of the recipes are vegan.  I love, love, love this book because the recipes produce huge quantities of yummy Indian food with very little effort.  The other recipes I've made have all been bean dishes, which I have especially liked because unlike traditionally prepared Indian legume dishes, they do not call for any ghee or oil.

The kheema recipe is different.  Traditional kheema is made with lamb, and apparently it's supposed to be greasy, so there is a full half cup of oil in it.  I never cook with anywhere close to that much oil, but I wanted my first try of the recipe to be at least semi-authentic, so I didn't cut back.  The recipe is so big, and the serving size is so tiny, that I figured out there is only about a teaspoon of oil in each serving.  I've never eaten kheema before, so I don't know how authentic this version is, but I do know it's delicious.

Anupy's recipe calls for packaged "meatless grounds" like the Boca crumbles, but I thought since so many spices were going into the recipe I could use plain textured soy protein.  I figured out that 8 oz of dry TSP, reconstituted, is about the equivalent of four bags of frozen crumbles, which is what the recipe calls for.  Here it is as I adapted it:

8 oz dry textured soy protein crumbles (about 5 cups), reconstituted with an equal volume of boiling water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
1 4-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped in the food processor
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped in the food processor with the ginger
1 6-oz can tomato paste, mixed with 2 cups boiling water until smooth
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
6 bay leaves
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 T smoked paprika (or regular paprika, if you don't have smoked)
1 T salt
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
2 cups frozen peas

Put everything except the peas into a 6 quart slow cooker and mix well.  Cook on high for 3 hours.  Add the peas and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

The result is rich and spicy (but not too hot) and wonderful.  I figured out that a serving is 1/3 cup -- that contains the same amount of protein as a cup of cooked beans, about 14 grams. This recipe makes a lot.  I may end up having to freeze some.

Here's what it looks like close up:

My girlfriend thought the texture was scarily similar to ground beef.  I don't actually remember what ground beef is like, so to me it is just yummy.  Put it on top of a bed of cooked grain and mix it in.  Om nom nom.

I think next time I will cut back on the oil somewhat -- although my girlfriend begged me not to cut back too much.  I might try 1/3 cup, certainly no less than 1/4 cup.

How do you say "bon appetit" in Hindi?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Do the Math

I thought organic textured soy protein was expensive -- at my local health food store, it's $4.65 for an eight-ounce bag, as opposed to two dollars and change for a pound of the not-organic, Archer Daniels Midland (ew) product.  Then I did the math.  A meal-sized serving of organic TSP costs 14 cents.  That's if you're truly eating a meal-sized serving (about 1/3 cup reconstituted) as opposed to a ginormous American-style serving of protein, of course.  But with rice and a big salad, for dinner?  It totally works.

Later today I'll have pictures and a recipe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baked apples stuffed with snausage

I conceived and made this dish a while ago, but never got around to posting.  It seems like a good Thanksgiving dish to me, so I'm putting it up now for the benefit of any last-minute types who are looking for a vegan protein to add to the plate.

I love baked apples and have always made them as a sweet dish.  My favorite way used to be to stuff them with chopped dried fruit and nuts.  This time around, it occurred to me that baked apples could be a savory dish.  I stumbled on a meatful recipe for baked apples stuffed with something disgusting like ground up pig muscle, and it occurred to me that I could stuff mine with vegan sausage.

The easy and peaceful way to do this would be to buy some vegan sausage, stuff it into the cavities left when you core the apples, and bake.  But I had to make my own sausage.  I looked at recipes calling for textured soy protein, tofu, tempeh (I don't actually like tempeh, but periodically think I should try to learn to like it), and seitan, and settled on one using frozen tofu.

I cored the apples, stuffed the cavities with snausage mixture, and baked as usual until the apples were done.  The snausage started to get brown too quickly, and so I covered the apples with foil for a while.  I would recommend starting out with them covered, and then uncover for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

They look cool when you slice them open:

Verdict:  this was fun, but I wouldn't make it the same way again.  I ended up with way too much snausage for the number of apples I had, and ended up nuking the rest and just eating it for breakfast one morning.  I also didn't think the snausage was tasty enough for the amount of trouble that went into making it.  The dried herbs didn't integrate with the frozen tofu very well; you could kind of distinguish them in your mouth.  If I were going to do this again, it would be because I wanted snausage for some other purpose, or had some leftover snausage lying around.  Maybe when I finally attempt the bean and seitan sausage that has taken the internets by storm, I'll seek out a few baking apples and give it another try.  I wouldn't use Italian snausage, though -- I'd recommend something more like a breakfast snausage flavor.  If you want to try this with store-bought snausage, I would try either the Tofurky snausage links (because I like all the Tofurky snausage products I've tried), or splurge on Field Roast sage-and-apple snausages, which I've never tried but don't they sound good?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cranberry Applesauce for Thanksgiving!

I wanted to be sure to get this one up before Thanksgiving in case anyone else is experimenting with cranberries.

The apples this year have been disappointing.  A few weeks ago, my girlfriend bought a bag of Honeycrisp apples, of all things, and found them too tart for eating raw.  Honeycrisp!  Go figure.  I said no worries, I'll make them into applesauce.  I was going to do something really simple, just the apples and some Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice (I love their pumpkin pie spice because it has cardamom and lemon zest in it).  Then I got to thinking about all the cranberries I have in the bottom of my freezer.

Trader Joe's Tomato Paste in a Tube

Just a quick note to say that this is a thing that exists, and I am thrilled.  99 cents, and no more freezing half a can of tomato paste and forgetting about it.  I bought three, because Trader Joe's has a nasty habit of discontinuing my favorite products, and I was terrified I'd never see it again.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Over the River and Through the Woods

I've written before about how I obsessively prepare for travel.  Well, on Wednesday my girlfriend and I are going to New York City for Thanksgiving; we'll be gone three days and you would think I'm packing for the North Pole.  It's not like they don't have vegan food there.

My thing is, I want to be prepared, and I don't want to be any trouble.  When I'm around my family, I go into serious people-pleasing mode and often don't take care of my own needs.  This is my issue and mine alone -- my family is wonderful and is incredibly accommodating of my vegan-ness.  My omnivore mom and aunt have planned what I think is going to be an entirely vegan menu, and my girlfriend and I will be the only vegans attending.  This won't be my first vegan Thanksgiving with them, either.  So they are amazing and kind  and supportive and nevertheless, I.  Have.  Issues.

For years, I would binge whenever I went to New York.  There is so much yummy food there, much of which you can't get, or can't get as good, anywhere else.  And there's a lot of food I connect with emotionally.  (Bialys are probably the best example of both these qualities, but there are many others.)  The last few times I've visited, I've been so worried about not overeating that I've undereaten, and then there has been an equal and opposite reaction when I've returned home.   On this trip, I am determined to do neither of these things.  I am determined to take care of myself.  I didn't take good care of myself when I lived in NY, and so far I haven't pulled it off on a visit, either, so this will be a first.  And for me these days, taking care of myself means bringing my own food.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In Praise of Plateaus

Everyone who is interested in plant-based eating and health should read Moonwatcher's blog, Plant-Based Slow Motion Miracle.  She is a terrific writer and her story of recovery from MS is really inspiring.

In a recent post, Moonwatcher talked about "the power of the plateau."   Everyone who's ever been on a diet has heard of plateaus.  A plateau is when you stop losing weight for a while and just . . . sit.  Much ink has been spilled about why plateaus happen and how to get off them.  The emphasis is usually on getting off the plateau ASAP, and sometimes you read crazy suggestions for how to make that happen.  Moonwatcher has a different take.  First of all, she expands the concept so it's not just about weight loss, but about other kinds of life journeys.  And then she gives a definition of "plateau" that I really love and want to carry with me:  "place of wide vistas and new perspective."

I like this idea a lot.  A plateau is not someplace to dread, someplace to leave as quickly as possible.  A plateau is a place to rest, look around and take stock.  And a plateau could be a place to live.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fare thee well, Towson Farmer's Market . . . .

. . . . see you in June!

I went out at lunch time to return some library books, and walked right into the final farmer's market of the season.  I had forgotten all about it, but today is the last day.  I couldn't resist picking up a butternut squash, an enormous cabbage, a big bag of potatoes and a bunch of kale, even though we are going out of town Wednesday morning.  I was going to nuke some frozen broccoli for dinner tonight, but I think instead I will cook up the remainder of the enormous cabbage I bought last time.  Last night I made mung beans with balti masala, so I am thinking I will saute the cabbage in a little coconut oil with some salt, turmeric, and panch phoron.  Just real simple.  Maybe chop a tomato up in there.  Mmm, this is sounding good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Green Smoothie Cat

I'm sorry posting has been light lately.  I've been preoccupied with the election and with the fact that QUEERS CAN GET MARRIED IN THREE MORE STATES NOW, INCLUDING THE ONE I LIVE IN!  Yeah.  The girlfriend and I are getting married this winter, which is making me think I should do some posts about vegan weddings.  But today I want to talk about green smoothies.

I've been on a bit of a green smoothie kick lately.  I bought some pre-washed kale at Trader Joe's, and I've been blending it up with frozen pineapple, almond milk, and hemp protein powder for yummy breakfast delights.  Because my blender is a Ninja and not a Vitamix, the smoothies are not exactly smooth -- the kale does add some texture.  I like them anyway.  But not as much as Newman the cat does:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Time for a cleanse.

I tend to be a rationalist when it comes to food choices.  I want facts and figures.  I dig books like "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" and "The China Study."  I mostly think concepts like food combining and detoxifying -- not to mention the oh so ridiculous colon cleansing -- are a bunch of crap, and the people who push them are either well-meaning but deluded, or charlatans.  But every so often, after I've been eating foods that aren't good for me, I feel like it's time for a cleanse.

It's mostly a psychological cleanse.  I feel like my palate needs a reset.  And I've latched onto an Ayurvedic tradition that my rational brain doesn't believe in, but at least it's harmless -- the kitchari fast.

Indian food is comfort food to me, and kitchari is Indian comfort food.  There are a million kitchari recipes, generally calling for either sabud moong (whole mung beans) or moong dal (split, skinned mung beans), and rice, in varying proportions.  I feel best when there are lots of beans in my diet, so I tend to use either equal quantities of beans and rice, or 2 parts beans to 1 part rice.

My favorite kitchari recipe is the "Mung beans and rice with veggies" from the article linked above.  I like it because it has a lot of vegetables, and you just dump everything in the pot (I don't use any oil or other ghee substitute when I make that one).  I make my own garam masala, toasting and grinding the spices myself.  It actually doesn't take very long, can be done in advance, and makes the kitchen smell wonderful.

My favorite food writer for everything Indian is Raghavan Iyer, and I've also made a variation of the kitchari recipe in his book The Turmeric Trail.   It involves tempering the spices in ghee (I sub unrefined extra virgin coconut oil) and then sauteing fresh onion and tomato with the spice mixture and adding all that to the cooked rice and dal.  It is absolutely delicious, but I don't know how "cleansing" it is with the yummy, yummy coconut oil.  I love the fragrance of unrefined coconut oil.  Sometimes I just open up the jar and inhale deeply.

Last week I made a big pot of the "mung beans and rice with veggies," and then got really sick with an intestinal virus.  This was actually kind of a good thing, as my efforts to reset my palate and get back on track with healthy eating and other self-care had not been going so well.  I decided the kitchari I'd made (which included a lot of cabbage and was kind of spicy) was too much for my sick digestive system, so I made some that was absolutely plain, just white jasmine rice, moong dal, a little turmeric, and some grated ginger.  I ate nothing but that for a couple days, sprinkled with a little Herbamare for flavor, then started alternating with the veg-and-spice version.  I guess I ended the cleanse yesterday, because I ate some chick pea curry, and some hot and sour tofu and cabbage stew, in addition to a couple servings of kitchari.  I still have one portion of the veg-and-spice kitchari left, and I may cook up a pot of some other kitchari variation this week.    If it comes out pretty, I'll post some pictures.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vegan travel update

I'm going to be more personal in this post than I have in most of my previous ones, and talk about my eating disorder.  As they say in the Post-Punk Kitchen, shiitake is about to get real.

A couple weeks ago, I posted about my food-related preparations for a business trip.  I used to overeat, and eat a lot of junk food, when I traveled.  Now I have a new pattern:  I put a tremendous amount of energy into preparing for the trip, I eat really carefully while I'm away -- if anything, I undereat -- and then there's a backlash.  Either on the last day of the trip, or right after I return, my inner brat takes over and I overeat all kinds of junk.  And I get a resurgence of all the emotional and spiritual symptoms of my eating disorder, too -- the lying, the sneaking around, the shame, the labile temper, the social isolation.  It's amazing how quickly it happens.  And then, eventually, things settle down and I get back to baseline.

I need to put some real effort into studying this pattern and figuring out how to change it.   But not this morning!  This morning I'm going to share what I learned about travel food.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


There's a nice article about carrots in today's NY Times.  One of the accompanying recipes is vegan, and the other is easily veganizable.  And I learned some fun carrot facts.  It never occurred to me that carrots have a season, although of course it makes perfect sense when I think about it.  To everything there is a season, and why should carrots be the exception?  I find that organic carrots taste sweeter than non-organic ones, but I have to admit I always buy my carrots at the grocery store.  I haven't seen carrots at our local farmer's market.  Maybe I'll see some tomorrow, as the season is apparently here.

Happy Halloween, with VEGAN CANDY CORN!

As Vegan MoFo draws to a close, we are faced with a perennial Halloween dilemma -- the search for vegan candy corn.  Vegan candy corn is commercially nonexistent, which is so unfair!  There is no good reason for candy corn not to be vegan.  I found some Jelly Belly candy corn (my favorite in pregan days) at the store yesterday, and it contained the following two non-vegan ingredients:  beeswax and confectioner's glaze (for those not in the know, confectioner's glaze is made out of bugs).  Do you seriously mean to tell me it's impossible to make candy corn without those two ingredients?  Seriously?

Anyway, vegan candy corn is impossible to find in stores, so I made some myself.  Pictures after the jump:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Carrot log cabins: there's a learning curve

Inspired by yesterday's video about the adventures of a cupcake among the vegetables, I grabbed my smallest paring knife and decided to make my own carrot Lincoln Logs:

It's harder than I thought it would be.  I was having trouble getting the edges straight, and it was hard to cut deep enough without slicing off the end of the carrot.  Maybe an x-acto knife would work better.  I gave up pretty quickly and we ate the evidence with some hummus.

THIS JUST IN: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Saltwater Taffy!

You heard me.

Today was another hurricane-induced day off for me and the girlfriend.  We were starting to get cabin fever and we needed to pick up some Halloween candy for tomorrow's trick-or-treaters, so we bundled up and trudged through the rain to our local chichi grocery store.  We don't usually shop at this store because it is mostly a lot of overpriced junk food, but we didn't want to drive anywhere and we figured this was the best place within easy walking distance to try to get trick or treating candy.  

We did get some candy for the kids.  But who cares about them?  Look what we got for ourselves:

Vegan.  Saltwater.  Taffy.  From Fralinger's of Atlantic City.  If you're not a saltwater taffy fan, you may not realize what a find this is.  I never eat saltwater taffy any more because it's impossible to find vegan taffy at the Maryland and Delaware seashore.  Atlantic City, where have you been all my life?  And it's pumpkin spice, which is a) seasonal and b) one of my favorite flavors.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering Down

Hurricane Sandy is upon us.  Girlfriend and I are both off work today and tomorrow because of the storm, and when we woke up this morning we decided we'd better do some cooking while we still had power.

The cooking actually started last night, with chickpea curry from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla.  This is not a vegan book (although Anupy has another book, Vegan Indian Cooking, that is also excellent), but most of the recipes are vegan.  I love these recipes because a) the quantities are huge, and b) most of the recipes involve dumping everything into the slow cooker at once and ignoring it for a long, long time -- 14 hours in the case of the chickpea curry.  I woke up this morning to the smell of delicious curry, and first thing I added my finishing touches.  This curry comes out very soupy, so I thicken it up and turn it into a complete meal by adding cooked rice, a pound of frozen spinach, and a pound of frozen broccoli.

In which a cupcake learns to appreciate vegetables

Check out this fantastic stop-motion animation by Kirsten Lepore. I think those carrot Lincoln Logs may be the best thing I've ever seen. Plus there's a special guest appearance by KALE!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Eat your greens and forget to die

This week's NY Times magazine has an article about a Greek island, Ikaria, with an unusually long-lived population -- a place where people "forget to die."  Lots of good advice in there -- drink wine, don't watch the clock, hang out with your friends -- and the food, while not vegan, is a lot less animal-dependent than food here in the US (the people also don't seem to eat sugar, although they do like the local honey).  The accompanying blog post includes three recipes, all of them easy and vegan.

The article talks about the importance of social support.  When everyone around you is living right, it's a lot easier for you to do the same -- unlike here, where we are surrounded by crap and every trip to the store is like walking through a minefield.  So my take home is this:  if you want to be a healthy vegan, hang out with other healthy vegans!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My (grocery) bags are packed, I'm ready to go.

Recently I wrote about how I meet my protein needs when I travel.   On the last trip I took, I didn't bring much food because a) I was flying, and b) I was going to a civilized place (defined as a place with a Whole Foods).  We went to WF several times on that trip, actually.

Well, tomorrow I'm hitting the road for a professional conference.  I'll be gone for three nights, and I know from experience that the town I'm going to -- Ocean City, Maryland -- is a real vegan food desert.  This is especially true in the off season.  There are two restaurants there where I've had decent vegan meals, but I don't know whether either one will be open midweek.  Add in that I'll be very busy trying to act like a grownup, and I won't have my own transportation, and you'll understand why I'm bringing this:

Not the cat.  The cat is staying home.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vegan Eats World!

One of the biggest hazards of living in my neighborhood is that there is a huge Barnes and Noble right next door to Trader Joe's.  Trader Joe's is below street level, and the easiest way to walk to and from TJ's is to go through B & N.  So I do a lot of book browsing pre-and post-grocery shopping.

This evening it started to rain just as my girlfriend and I were leaving TJ's.  We had no umbrella, so that left me with no choice but to browse the vegan cookbook section -- and how amazing is it that this corporate bookstore has a vegan cookbook section?  And guess what they had -- first time I've seen it in a store -- Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero! After leafing through I decided I had to have it,even though there are quite a few recipes I won't be able to use (a chapter each on breads, noodles, and desserts -- known to me as heroin, crack, and meth -- plus a lot of recipes with nuts, which I guess are angel dust).  Actually, I probably would have bought it for the spice blend chapter alone -- harissa!  berbere!  preserved lemons! Jamaican curry powder!  niter kibbeh! -- but there are plenty of great-sounding bean, grain, and veggie recipes, plus some really interesting looking stuff with tofu and seitan.  So I'll have lots of new recipes to blog about in the weeks to come.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Summer is Really Over Now

My boss found a few lonely beefsteak tomatoes in her garden, after she thought all the plants had stopped fruiting, and was kind enough to give me one:

Now that's  a tomato!  It was so juicy, with a really rich, complex flavor, sweet and umami.  We ate it for Sunday breakfast with some refried beans.  Later that day we were at a restaurant and I made the mistake of ordering salad.  It included tomato-like objects, which I probably would have thought tasted fine if I hadn't just eaten the ur-tomato.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Healthy Vegan Traveler: Quest for Protein

Like all vegans, I get sick of hearing "Where do you get your protein?"  The correct answer to this question is "From food."  All food has protein in it.  Most of the calories in broccoli are from protein.  If you ate nothing but potatoes, like this guy, you would still get enough protein to survive.

There's "enough to survive," though, and "enough for a specific person to function optimally."  Last winter I consulted a vegan nutritionist.  I don't follow all of her recommendations, but one thing I did learn was that I wasn't eating enough protein.  In order for me to feel good and not get light-headed or overly hungry between meals, I need to consume about 14 grams of protein at each meal.  That's the equivalent of a cup of cooked beans, or a small serving of tofu.  This is not at all a big deal when I'm at home.  When I'm travelling, though, especially away from a major city, getting enough protein -- and enough calories, for that matter -- can be a challenge.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How do I love my ninja?

My Ninja blender, that is.

Let me count the ways:

It cost 1/5 as much as a Vitamix.
It pulverizes everything.  Everything.
It doesn't leak.
It's easy to clean.  No icky gasket thingy.
It came with a single-serve container, so you can make a reasonably sized smoothie and drink it out of the container.
It also came with a huge-ass container, so you can make smoothies for two, or a huge-ass smoothie for yourself.
It makes pretty drinks like this:

unsweetened almond milk, banana, frozen blueberries, hemp protein powder

 It also makes ugly drinks like the one I'm drinking right now:  unsweetened almond milk, banana, hemp protein powder, flaxseed, romaine lettuce, frozen pineapple.
Instant gratification:  bought it at Bed, Bath, and Bite Me with a coupon.
When you put it on the counter it does.  not.  budge.  There's no way for cats to push it off the counter.
Did I mention it cost 1/5 as much as a Vitamix?  It's entirely possible, of course, that the Vitamix works 5 times as well as the Ninja.  But I really don't need it to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What the world needs: a vegan food channel

Has anyone seen Vegan Mash-up on PBS? I feel like I am late to the party, having only just heard about this today.  I'm going to have to check my local PBS affiliates -- the web site doesn't seem to have any information about where and when the show is airing.

I must admit that one of my guilty pleasures is the Food Network, but the meatfulness really gets on my nerves.  If it's really gross I have to turn it off, but even when it isn't overtly disgusting, it's a lot of "Well, I would never make that . . . or that . . . or that . . ."  Seeing a vegan baker on Cupcake Wars every once in a while is no substitute for a real vegan cooking show.   Or how about a vegan version of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives?  With someone less annoying than Guy Fieri (it shouldn't be hard to find someone less annoying than Guy Fieri, right?).  Or a vegan version of Unwrapped?  This week, we visit the Turtle Island factory and watch Tofurky being made!  Next week, Dandies marshmallows!  That would be awesome.  I love factory tours.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sweet Corn Bisque with Poblanos

A few days ago I showed off my haul of poblanos from the farmer's market, and said I was thinking of cream of poblano soup.  I wandered around the web looking at recipes (poblano vichyssoise, anyone?), briefly considered just adding some roasted poblanos to the cheezy potato soup from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook,  and finally decided to veganize a recipe from a book I found at the library, Southwest Flavors:  Santa Fe School of Cooking, that I checked out as part of my ongoing love affair with Mexican and New Mexican cuisine.

This is a beautiful book, with lots of pictures, and good information about green chile and other traditional New Mexican ingredients, but it is not a vegan-friendly book.  Almost all the entrees are meat-based, and the few that aren't are heavily dependent on cheese. I marked just a few recipes that were vegan or sounded veganizable (the only actual vegan recipes are for salad and things like salsa), this sweet corn bisque being one of them:

1 T oil (I used less)
1 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup New Mexico green chile, hot or medium, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I substituted roasted poblanos here)
4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I actually used water and some of this Chick'n Style Seasoning powder, because I had some in the pantry and was convinced nooch would be good in this soup, even though the original recipe didn't call for cheese)
1 cup heavy cream Trader Joe's soy creamer (I actually ended up using most of a pint container)
Salt (I think I left this out because there's salt in the chick'n powder)

Saute onion, celery, and garlic.  Add everything  else except the soy creamer and simmer until the potatoes are cooked.  Puree the soup with your ever-loving immersion blender.  Stir in the soy creamer.  Put some soup in a nicely contrasting bowl.

Verdict:  rich and delicious but HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT!  I thought a cup of chile sounded like a lot, and I made the mistake of trusting the recipe instead of my instincts.  I barely made it through my bowl with the help of several corn tortillas; my girlfriend couldn't finish hers.  I decided I had to try to fix the soup, so I cooked 2 more big potatoes and almost 2 pounds of frozen corn in some more chick'n broth, then added it to the original soup and pureed again.  So now we have a huge container of soup, which  is still spicy but is much less of a challenge to eat.

So the moral of the story is, try this soup, but maybe start with 1/4 cup of peppers and increase the amount from there if it isn't spicy enough for your liking.

The kitten thought the soup tasted great when it was still way too spicy for us.  He is so weird.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

We don't have a garden.  We live in an apartment, and our cats are such fearsome predators we can't even have houseplants.   We know people who have gardens, though, and sometimes they share.

Most of the time, receiving a gift of fresh produce from someone who gardens is unmitigated wonderfulness. Once in a while, though, you think "This is so great.  Now what am I going to do with it?" That's how I responded when I received this acorn squash:

Cat:  "This squash is so great . . . ." 
". . . now what are we going to do with it?"

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Vegan Yogurt Rant

This afternoon I was poking around in the refrigerator when I spotted a little container of Whole Soy and Co. plain yogurt that I bought about a month ago, with a specific Indian chick pea recipe in mind.  I pulled it out and discovered that the sell by date was yesterday.

Shit!  Better make those chick peas now!  Get the pinto beans out of the slow cooker!  Run across the street to get more chick peas!  Never mind that I just cooked a metric fuckton of chick peas for other dishes!  Must!  Use!  Yogurt!

I reacted this way because plain vegan yogurt can be ridiculously hard to find.  I went to three different stores in search of this little cup, and the store where I finally found it is not on my regular shopping route.  If I miss my window with this yogurt, it will be a while before I get out there again.

Then I thought, wait a minute.  What if this yogurt sucks?  What if it disappoints you, like so many other vegan yogurts?  Before you go nuts, taste it.  So I stuck my finger in and tasted it.  It tastes . . . okay, but nothing like the plain yogurt I remember from pregan days.  It has no tartness at all.  It's more like vanilla pudding than anything.  So I stuck it back in the refrigerator and went about my pinto beany business.  I'll be throwing the yogurt in a smoothie, either later today or for breakfast tomorrow morning.

I'd had my suspicions about this yogurt.  A 6 ounce container has 13g of sugar, which just sounds insane.  But it was the only plain yogurt I could find in that size, and the recipe only calls for a quarter cup.  At the health food store across the street I can get Wildwood soy yogurt, which sounds more promising -- only 3g of sugar per serving, and no actual "sugar" in the ingredients -- but it only comes in quart containers, and every time I've seen it the date has been a week or less away.  And what if it sucks?   I've been burned by soy yogurt in the past -- there was that one batch of onion dip I don't even want to think about (I learned my lesson and use silken tofu for that sort of thing now).

Plain yogurt is the one dairy food for which I have not found an acceptable vegan substitute.   I used to love plain yogurt and ate it with all kinds of savory dishes, usually to cool down something spicy. Now I just do without it.  I occasionally buy sweet flavors of vegan yogurt, usually because I'm taking antibiotics or have a sore throat and want something that will be smooth going down, but never plain.  Usually I do just fine without yogurt in my life, but this particular chick pea recipe spoke to me, and for some reason I didn't want to go the silken tofu and lemon juice route again.

Have you found a vegan yogurt that satisfies?  If you have, please share it in the comments.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Farmer's Market Haul

I am very fortunate in that my house, my office, and the farmer's market are each about a five minute walk from the others.  Every Thursday from June through November, I try to make it to the farmer's market at lunch time.  I haul my fruits and veggies home, eat lunch, and go back to work.  It's a great setup.

Here's what I bought yesterday:

Kitten included for scale.  Actually, kitten included because there was no way he wasn't going to be included.
 That savoy cabbage weighs almost 7 pounds!  That's a lot of cruciferous goodness for just $3.00.  I don't know what I'm making with it yet -- probably several different things.  It's a good thing cabbage keeps well.

All these poblanos for $5.00!

Looks like I'll be roasting poblanos again this weekend.  There are probably more refried beans in my future, or I may get decadent and make a cream of poblano soup.  Or both.

Empire, Liberty, Nittany -- from left to right.
 Finally, I bought about 9 pounds of apples.  Empire is my favorite eating apple.  I asked the apple man if he would be selling any Rome apples this fall, and he said most of those go for juice, but that if I like Rome I should try Liberty.  So I bought six big Liberty apples for baking.  At first I was thinking dessert, but then it occurred to me that I could stuff them with something savory and have them be an entree.  I found a bunch of meatful recipes that involve stuffing apples with sausage, so I'm thinking I'll be making some sausage crumbles this weekend, either with frozen tofu or with TSP.  Still not sure what I'll be doing with the Nittany apples.  In the past I've baked them.  Mostly I just thought they were pretty.

These ingredients will be appearing in blog posts for the next week or so.  I also have a big bag of potatoes from a previous week's market, so expect some potato dishes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Experimental Chili

The first thing I actually made with the roasted poblanos was refried beans, but the first thing I thought of making was chili.  After some googling, I settled on a recipe from the Irreverent Vegan as a starting point, and followed Mark's instructions for roasting the poblanos, as well.

I said starting point, right?  I referred to Mark's recipe a few times, but basically did my own thing.  I post the result here not because it was so amazing (it's perfectly fine chili, but not necessarily something I would make again), but to show how my twisted thought processes work when I'm playing with a recipe.

Poblano Refried Beans

I love refried beans.  Canned or from scratch, at home or in a restaurant, to me they are the ultimate comfort food.  Traditionally, refried beans are cooked pinto beans that are fried in lard and mashed ("refrito" actually means "well-fried," not "re-fried").  Of course I don't cook with lard.  Ew.  I actually haven't seen any canned refried beans made with lard, either.  They're either made with vegetable oil, or they're fat free, which would mean they aren't fried at all.  But they still taste great.

I usually avoid cooking with oil, unless I am really convinced the recipe will suffer without it.  Since I like the fat free canned refried beans just fine, I don't use oil when I make refried beans from scratch.  I use my own recipe, which I adapted from the one here.  And this week, I've been making an exciting variation with roasted poblano peppers.

Basic Slow Cooker "Refried" Beans

Pinto beans, as many as you want to cook (I love refried beans, so I cook anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of dry beans at a time).  No need to presoak.
Yellow onion, chopped
Whole garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed

Exact amounts are not critical here.  For this batch, I used 2 cups of dry beans, one big yellow onion, and five or six cloves of garlic.

I have a cooker with 3 different sized crocks.  Fun!

Put the beans, onions, and garlic in your slow cooker crock.  Add water to cover by at least two inches.  Cook on High until they are really soft.  Anywhere from 8 to 12 hours should be fine.  I like to set up the slow cooker after dinner, and then let the beany, oniony, garlicky aroma wake me up the next morning.

The next day, turn off the cooker and drain the beans, reserving the thick, rich liquid.  Now it's time to mash the beans.  I use my immersion blender for this, but you could just use a potato masher.  After all that slow cooking, the beans will be very soft.

Now season to your liking.  I thought a tablespoon of salt would be about right, but it turned out to be too much.  Desperate to salvage all those over-salted beans, I threw in some black beans I had in the refrigerator, and mashed them up.  Turns out I really like that combination, and will probably be using it from now on.  The black beans are less mushy than the pintos, and stay more intact for a nice color and texture contrast.

You could stop right there and have perfectly good beans.  But I took it a step further, and mixed in a couple tablespoons of chopped poblano peppers.

 Here's a closeup of some beany goodness.  You can see the little flecks of black beans and poblanos.

Now it's time to serve the beans.  You could do all sorts of yummy things at this point -- make tacos, tostadas, Mexican lasagna . . . . but lately I've just been eating them plain, with some  kale and corn. I really like the contrast of textures and the bitter, sweet, creamy party in my mouth.

Mmm, mmm, good!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Roast Poblano Peppers and Live to Tell About It

Back in my pregan days, my favorite thing to order at a Mexican restaurant was chile rellenos.  Cheezy, deep-fried goodness, mmmm.  When I saw some poblano peppers at the farmer's market the other week, I impulsively bought them, figuring someone must have come up with a veganized recipe for chile rellenos by now.  I was right.  Google "vegan chile rellenos" and you will come up with many recipe options.  What I hadn't counted on, though, was that veganized chile rellenos are approximately as bad for you as the cow variety.  They're still deep-fried, after all, and while delicious, Daiya cheese is not exactly health food.  I needed to come up with something else to do with the poblanos.

Just about every recipe that doesn't call for stuffing poblanos says to roast them (actually, several recipes call for roasting and then stuffing, which sounds like a frustrating mess when I consider how soft and juicy the peppers get when roasted).  I decided to roast the peppers first and ask questions later.  It occurred to me that I might even be able to use roasted poblanos in place of New Mexico green chile.  Heresy, I know, but I thought that with my unsophisticated chile-eating palate it just might work.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Be Vegan -- Part 2

I started my last post by saying I was going to talk about all the reasons to be vegan.  Then I got going about my friend Opal the turkey, and ended up with a huge-ass post that didn't cover anything other than animal rights and animal welfare.  Lots of vegans, myself included, would say we don't need another reason to go vegan.  Animal agriculture is cruel, and animals are not ours to use.  Period.  But the fact is, there are other good reasons to follow  a vegan diet even if you couldn't care less about animals (but if that's you, why are you here?), and I want to talk about a biggie:  your health.

Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

It's the first day of October!  Which means it's the first day of Vegan MoFo!  And the first day of Vegetarian Awareness Month!  Which means it's World Vegetarian Day!

I figured this would be a good time to talk about why I am vegan and why all of y'all should be vegan.  If you're already happily vegan, yay you!  Tune in tomorrow, when I will have an image-heavy post about how to roast poblano peppers, om nom nom.  If you aren't vegan (yet), are trying to go vegan, or have recently gone vegan and need to be reminded why it is worth giving up cheese, read on.  Or read on if you like pictures of cute animals.  They are after the jump.