23 April 2013
My last few posts have been about vegan things related to my trip down to Louisiana. Today I'm going to write about something about my trip that isn't vegan related but that I think you should all know about. If you travel, DO NOT USE HOTELS.COM.
First of all, it turns out that using Hotels.com is not cheaper than booking through the hotel. A little internet research confirms that my case was not unique.
I'll try to give you the clif notes. We were in St Louis, and we had intended to camp at a KOA, but it was rainy and miserable out and we just wanted to stay in a warm hotel. So I used BringFido.com to find Drury Inn near the airport. They allow two dogs of any size. Great for us. It was also a pretty nice hotel. But when I called to check for vacancies, I was left on hold for so long that I was able to use Sunny's phone to book the room through Hotels.com while waiting on hold. But there was a glitch with Hotels.com at the end and it didn't look like the booking went through. I decided that at least we knew they had vacancies and we could just go in and get a room.
The Hotels.com rate was $126 and the Drury Inn rate was $100, so we just booked the room with Drury Inn and didn't mention Hotels.com.
Despite Drury Inn leaving us on hold entirely too long when we called, the stay was really nice and the staff was friendly. I'd recommend it.
They next day I was checking my credit card charges and discovered that we got charged by Hotels.com, and of course by Drury Inn as well. I realize that this was a problem due to the website malfunctioning and that if I'd mentioned Hotels.com when we checked in, we would only have been charged the $126. Still, that's $26 more than booking in person. And in the end, I'm out $126 that I would still have in my pocket if I'd just never gone to Hotels.com in the first place.
I emailed Hotels.com and, a few days later, I got a response that they needed my receipt from Drury Inn to show that I'd been charged twice. I was worried because I'd left it in the room, but Drury Inn keeps that info on their website and I was able to easily print a copy. I faxed that to Hotels.com and three weeks later I'm still waiting for a response. I've now emailed them three times since faxing the receipt, and I've gotten no response.
There's a good chance I'm just out $126. But I will never use Hotels.com again, because even if it had worked as they intended, it would still have been more expensive and it's certainly not been more convenient for me.
Don't make the same mistake I made. Book directly through the hotel you want to stay at.
8 April 2013
Here we are, in the way back machine, still in Memphis. It's Monday morning now, so things are open. However, our plans fell through when we tried to go to Cafe Eclectic in Midtown. They were closed for renovation. Luckily the other location was open. Harbor Town. It's one of those fake communities where they build apartments and shops and restaurants all together. It's exactly the type of place I'd love to live; I just wish it was created more organically. But, I'm not a hipster, so I can still appreciate it.
I really liked Cafe Eclectic. It was a nice oasis on our trip in the south where everything is about eating crustaceans, gators, beef and chicken...and anything else that breaths. I didn't spend enough time in any part of Mississippi or Louisianna to know how many great places like this exist. For us, it was a great find.
Here's what I said on VegGuide.
Black Bean Wrap. There's also a tofu wrap that isn't as good. It has a good sauce on it, but the tofu is, well, it's tofu. Nothing special. The Black Bean Wrap is the way to go.
We also had soy cappuccinos. Also good.
And the service was great. By that, I mean that the two guys working there were super friendly, working quickly and efficiently, and made great food and coffee. The service would have been better if they'd had one or two more people on staff. We weren't in a big hurry though. We were on vacation.
If you live in Memphis, or you're passing though, and you haven't checked this place out yet, I highly recommend it.
2 April 2013
Tales from the Deep South!
Sunny and I just got back from about two weeks driving down to and around Louisianna. The next few posts will be about our adventure.
Ethiopian food is so good!
I want to start talking about our trip by mentioning an Ethiopian restaurant we ate at in Memphis. First of all, it was cold, raining and windy when we got to Memphis. We ended up finding a hotel instead of camping because there were flood warnings.
Sidenote: the Red Roof Inn in West Memphis allows two dogs of any size. Not the nicest hotel, but it was warm.
We walked around Memphis, trying to make the most of the one day we had planned to be there. We had our dogs, so we couldn't do any lengthy indoor things, and outdoor things were too cold. But worst of all, it was Sunday, and we had not accounted for how religion would close everything down. We found a few restaurants online that looked good but were closed on Sundays.
So finally we found Abyssinia. Sunny and I love Ethiopian food, so I didn't even read the reviews before we went there. Glad I didn't, because there was only one review on VegGuide, and I don't agree with it. Here it is, just to present both sides of the argument:
Tried Abyssinia tonight with 2 other vegetarian friends. Not much veggie-friendly stuff on the menu: there was only one dish we could eat, the vegetarian combo. We waited a long time (30 minutes, even though we were the only patrons) for the food, and when it came out it was cold. Wouldn't recommend it.
Ok, then here's what I posted on VegGuide in response:
Delicious! Yes, there's only one vegetarian item on the menu, but that one item is a platter of about eight different things. This is exactly what I expect from an Ethiopian restaurant. As far as the service goes, it wasn't the fastest. Make sure to close your menus when you're ready to order. He came right over once we did that. The food my mom ordered (something with lamb) was too hot and she didn't eat much of it. When we paid, he charged her only for the Dr Pepper she drank because he noticed that she didn't like it. So I would say the service was great, just not as speedy as your typical American restaurant.
The waiter (I'm pretty sure he was the owner) was very nice. I'm not completely sure everything on the platter was vegan. I'm skeptical of one item that very closely resembled potato salad. But I'm sure they would leave that item off and give you more of one of the other items if you asked. After we were done eating, he felt really bad that my mom didn't like her lamb and said that he could have remade it with less spice if she'd let him know.
In case you've never had Ethiopian food before, here's what it looks like:
I didn't think to take a picture at Abyssinia, but it looked very much like this picture I found on the web. As you can see, there's a lot of different kinds of good food there. That thing on the left that looks like tater salad is the one thing I'm pretty sure wasn't vegan. Actually, that looks like some sort of cheese to the left of the lettuce, but that wasn't on our platter.
So check out VegGuide if you don't know about it. It's pretty good, but all the restaurants are added by users, so you have to take it all with a grain of salt. I just created an account there, and I'm going to start reviewing restaurants on there. Every time I do that, I'll post a link to this blog where I'll have a more extensive post about it.
Stay tuned for more info about our adventures in the coon country.
Moroccan Vegan Dinner Party
20 March 2013
If you've ever thought to yourself, I'd like to throw a dinner party, but half the friends I want to invite aren't vegan while the other half are. And, to top it off, I don't want to cook meat anyway, then this post is for you. You and I both know that vegan food is much tastier than non-vegans tend to realize. What you may or may not know is that Moroccan food is quite delicious as well, and while Moroccan food isn't necessarily vegan in general, it's easy to make vegan Moroccan dishes.
I just checked Wikipedia for some Moroccan cuisine info, and I saw this picture:
How do they pile it on like that, and how can you get anything off of it without knocking it all over?
Now is the perfect time to impress your friends from Cheekybingo.com or your work pals with some delicious vegan dishes. They are sure to be impressed, and realize they've been missing out on such tasty food! For a starter, why not make something like a tangy Moroccan salad using chickpeas, diced tomatoes, grated carrot and lemon juice? If you're looking for a main course idea, then why not try baking a vegan Moussaka?
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Large Eggplant
2 t Tomato Puree
1 t Dried Thyme
1 T Earth Balance
1 T Flour
¼ t Nutmeg
Salt & pepper
Heat the oven to 350 and put a casserole dish in there to warm up.
Finely chop the onions and garlic, then dice the zucchini and cut the eggplant into discs half an inch thick. Next, chop the tomatoes into chunks but leave one tomato to the side (we will be using that for the topping later).
Fry the onions until they turn translucent. Then add the garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, tomato purée and thyme. Once everything has heated through, leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Fry the eggplant discs and put aside for later.
Now we are going to make the white sauce. Melt the Earth Balance over a low heat and add the flour. Remove from the heat and mash the mixture until it makes a thick paste. In order to loosen the paste add a spoon of milk and return to the heat. Add small amounts of milk until you have a thick and creamy looking sauce. Spice it up with the nutmeg and some pepper.
Take out your casserole dish and pour half of the zucchini mixture into the bottom of the dish before covering with a few slices of eggplant. Then add another layer of zucchini and cover with the remaining eggplant slices. Top the whole thing off with your white sauce. Get your spare tomato from earlier and slice it into discs before arranging over the white sauce. Bake for about 20 minutes or until bubbling and browned.
This recipe actually turned out quite similar to my lasagna recipe, which, by some standards doesn't get to be called lasagna because it deviates so much from the traditional.
Anywho, I hope your dinner guests enjoy this!
19 March 2013
Yesterday I started my third batch of Kombucha. So far we've hardly drunk any of it though. The first batch was pretty vinegary because I used vinegar to make it. With the second batch I was able to use the kombucha from the first batch, so I didn't have to use vinegar. So that turned out better. Now the second batch is bottled and undergoing second fermentation. This is when it's in the bottle carbonating.
Let's start back at the beginning. When the batch was done (a little over two weeks or brewing) I pulled all the scobies out and put them into a single jar so I could prepare the rest of the jars for the next batch.
In this picture is everthing you need to make kombucha. Well, you also need a scoby (which you can see in the picture above this one), and some kombucha from a previous batch (or vinegar if you don't have any kombucha to spare).
There are kits you can buy that include large glass containers to brew your kombucha. Check out this deal from Northern Brewer.
Since I already have loads of canning jars, I'm using those. I brew multiple jars at once. This has the added benefit of creating smaller, cuter scobies. But you can cut them up smaller anyway.
So here's the process:
These jars have been sanitized. I'm about to put ¼ cup of organic sugar into each one and then add hot water and tea bags.
I use Star San. It's what I use for brewing beer, but I'm sure you could just put the jars in boiling water for ten minutes like you would for canning. Still, I'm sure there are kombucha brewers out there who don't even do this, but I haven't had to throw any kombucha away due to contamination...well.
Now I'm brewing some organic green tea. It's a good idea to use all organic ingredients since the whole point is to get all the good stuff in the natural foods and not the chemicals. Also, put the sugar in first then pour the water in. The sugar dissolves easier and faster that way.
So now the tea is brewing. I'm waiting for the liquid to cool to room temperature. The jar of scobies is hanging out on the right there.
And finally, here are some finished, and partially finished products:
The jars on the right are the same ones you see in the picture above it. I've just added the scobies and half a cup of kombucha to each one. Right after I took the picture, I covered them with a paper bag. This shelf sits above our stove, so it stays nice and warm, but it gets too much light.
The bottles on the left are finished brews. Ok, not quite finished. They still need two days to carbonate. Then they're ready to chill and drink. But I guess I have to be careful when I open them, because they could be super carbonated. Could be messy.
If you scroll back up to the second picture, you'll see two jars of juice concentrate: pomegranate and cranberry. I put an ounce of the concentrate into each jar and then fifteen ounces of kombucha. Then I closed the lid. That's all there is to that. So I have three bottles of cranberry kombucha and three bottles of pomegranate kombucha. I'm excited!
Even after setting aside a couple scobies for my friends Jolene and Kelsie to start their own, and starting a few more batches, I still have extra scobies. So I'm going to start a big jug of it. Because I'm using vinegar to make this (I'm fresh out of kombucha) I'm going to use this batch to seed the next batch. It keeps multiplying. Soon I'll have way too many scobies. But they make good compost, so I guess that's where they'll end up.
The one on the left (I'll refer to this one as the gross one) looks dark and gross. Sort of like dog hair. The one on the right (Let's call this the healthy one) looks like regular little scobies trying to form. I think that's ok, but the gross one just looks gross. I don't think we're going to drink it. In both of them, it looks like little jellyfish floating around. So that's fun.
One more picture. This is the big gallon that I started:
Note: since scoby is technically an acronym that means Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, it occurs to me that the plural of scoby might actually be scobys. Oh well.
Town Hall Tap
17 March 2013
Sunny and I don't go out to eat all that often. We like to cook at home because we actually enjoy cooking (I know not everyone does), it's cheaper, and we know exactly what's in our food. The down side of this is that there are a lot of great eateries that we don't know about. But we just found a new one. The crazy thing is it was recommended by my coworker who lives in St Paul, and the place, Town Hall Tap, is within walking distance of our house in South Minneapolis.
The Town Hall Tap has a resident IPA called the Masala Mama. It's delicious. My coworker said it's the best IPA he's had in the Twin Cities. I can't argue with that. They also had the Brooklyn Irish Stout on tap. Also a great beer. It was for these two beers that I wanted to check the place out, so I checked their menu online to make sure there was food to eat as well.
Ok, so you can get a salad if you want to be a good vegan. Sunny and I each got the Black Bean Burger and it was delicious. One review I saw online said it was the best black bean burger he'd ever had. Hmmm...yep, I think I agree. One critique though: it did have egg in it, so we clearly weren't being good little vegans. And even with the egg it tended to fall apart. If the egg isn't holding the thing together, then why not leave it out? Maybe without the egg it would have fallen apart even more.
Anywho, the burger is quite big, so be hungry when you go. Sunny and I spent $30 for two burgers (with fries that were also spiced in a tasty fashion) and two beers. Throw on a tip for the server and you've still got yourself a good meal at a good price.
The environment is enjoyable as well. The place was full, but still comfortable. It was also Saturday evening, the day before St Patrick's Day no less. We waited about ten minutes for a table, so it wasn't too crowded. It was just a full bar.
So if you're in the South Minneapolis area, I'd definitely recommend checking it out.
28 February 2012
So I'm sitting at my computer doing unproductive things like Reddit, and I'm trying to think of something to listen to. I play this game a lot. What's that song I really wanted the radio to play while I was driving home but they didn't play and I thought, I'll just Google it when I get home? Finally, I remember Tegan And Sara's new song, "Closer." Here it is:
Bear with me if you're a big Tegan And Sara fan. I don't know much about them except that I like when I hear their songs on the radio. As I'm watching the video, I'm trying to figure out if they're twins or if they just look a lot alike. So I check the Google. Yes they're identical twins. And then I think about things like, do they fight like the Gallagher brothers do, or do they just get along all the time? Do they have the same issues that Marty and Jake LaSalle had? And finally, I thought, why did their parents give Tegan such a unique name and Sara such a common name?
So I checked out the name Tegan. And that's when I found Tegan the Vegan:
This is just the two minute trailer. The actual short film is thirteen minutes long, and I haven't yet figured out how I can watch it. Anyone have any ideas?
PS: Listening to Tegan And Sara makes me feel like I'm living in Napoleon Dynamite.
20 February 2013
Sunny and I finally went into the doctor for our biometric screening. This is when they do some tests and we tell our insurance about it, and then we don't have to pay our premiums for a month. And, the doctor's visit is completely free. No copay. Yeah, I guess we have good insurance. Thanks, Trader Joe's. (We're also entered into a drawing to win an iPad, because being healthy isn't reward enough.)
So, turns out Sunny and I are both healthy. Sunny feels vindicated for not going to the doctor for so long. Sunny's height is 5' 2.25", but there's nothing she can do about that now.
I weigh five pounds more than I did last time I saw the doctor. Hmmm....
Cholesterol: my LDL is 109 and my HDL is 49. These are within the healthy range, but I'd like them to be better. They were better last time I got checked out.
HDL is the "good" cholesterol, and it can help lower the LDL, the "bad" cholesterol. And, from what I understand, your cholesterol levels have less to do with what you eat and more to do with exercise.
I should mention that last time I got checked out I was riding my bike sixteen miles a day, and training for a marathon. So I was in darn good shape. In comparison, I'm just in decent shape now. I have an active job, but beyond that I haven't been exercising.
So I've started running again. On two separate days, I ran 1.5 miles. First day I ran ten minute miles; second I ran 9:22. I take the dogs running on the frozen creek, through the fresh snow, in 5 degrees. So, I think my time would be better under better conditions. I've missed running. I'm using Track my Run. It's pretty nice. I'd recommend downloading it, as long as you're alright with letting the man track you.
Ok, but now the nitty gritty. I asked to have my iron levels checked as well. The normal range of Ferritin in the blood is between 20 and 300 nanograms per milliliter. That's a wide range, right? I have 49 ng/mL. So I'm healthy. I imagine someone who eats red meat fairly often has much higher levels, but then you also get a lot of other bad stuff along with that. If 49 is good enough, then I don't think I'll start eating red meat any time soon. And I imagine I could get that up higher if I just paid closer attention to what I was eating. More leafy greens and all that.
Conclusion: after two and a half years of being vegan, we're still healthy.
Update on the kombucha: a new scoby formed at the top. Then it fell down to the bottom and another scoby started forming. Is that supposed to happen?
12 February 2013
I'm finally making my own kombucha, thanks to my friend Shelly. Shelly gave me a scoby. Then, I didn't know what to do with it, and it was late, so I stuck it in the fridge. You're not really supposed to do that. I don't think it hurt anything, but it's really not supposed to be refrigerated.
Live things slow their growth when they get colder. Case in point: my beer (I've recently started brewing my own beer) isn't very carbonated. The directions say it should take one to two weeks, but if it isn't warm enough it may take longer. And, if it's too cold (like refrigerated) it won't carbonate at all.
So I took the scoby out of the fridge, watched this video, and started brewing kombucha:
I bought some organic green tea, organic white sugar, and white vinegar.
Here's the recipe for a quart:
¼c Organic White Sugar
2-3 Tea Bags (organic green is what I used)
½c Vinegar (or kombucha from previous batch)
Put the sugar into your quart-sized jar.
Pour the hot water in to full three-quarters full.
Let the sugar dissolve, then add the tea bags and let it sit until it's about room temperature.
Take out the tea bags, add the vinegar and the scoby, maybe some more water and cover with a coffee filter.
Now you let it sit in a warm dark place for five to thirty days.
Five days = sugary tea
Thirty days = vinegary tea
I'm going to try mine after two weeks. It's also meant to taste better when you use kombucha from a previous batch rather than vinegar, so I may not drink this batch and just use it to make a better batch.
Whenever you're fermenting something, cleanliness is important, or else you may end up growing something you didn't intend to. Gross.
I'll keep you updated on my batch.
Cream Cheese Frosting
30 October 2012
If we get back into the way back machine for a moment we'll be reminded of when I bought my VitaMix. It's pretty amazing. If you don't know, it's a blender, but instead of a normal blender motor, it has the same motor you might find in the power tools in your garage. And of course the blade is made of special metal that can handle it.
The reason I bring this up is that if you buy one from the interwebs, and you use this code
you can get free shipping. And, let's honest, I get a little check out of the deal too.
This recently happened. Someone by the name of Maralee bought a VitaMix using that code. This has inspired me to post a recipe for which I use my Vitamix.
It's the frosting. Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting.
First I soaked two cups of raw cashews in four cups of water overnight. You should do it for four hours at least. Mind you, the VitaMix is powerful enough to turn raw, dry cashews into a paste, but if you soak it, it activates the enzymes, and that makes it healthier.
Next, drain the water off, but save a quarter cup to put back in. Also, add a little lemon juice and some maple sugar.
I didn't measure those things. I just put some in, tasted it and added some more.
Now, this ended up having a nutty flavor, which is fine on the pumpkin bread, but I think some of that nutty flavor could have been ameliorated by adding a little vanilla extract. I mean, really, a little nuttiness is good, but if you want it to more closely resemble actual cream cheese...
Ok, so then I just spread that over the pumpkin bread. And it's quite tasty.
The pumpkin bread is Trader Joe's mix:
Yep, I borrowed this image from TraderJoesRecipes.net, but I don't feel too bad, because they get their ideas from, well, Trader Joe's.
Ok, so I made the bread according to the recipe on the box; I just used flax in place of eggs.
Cool? Ok, so if you're thinking about getting a VitaMix (and I think you should; you'll have it forever) you should use this code to get free shipping: 06-006015
29 October 2012
First let me just say that I've been getting a lot of hits on my Thanksgiving posts from last year and the year before. People are getting ready. I'll post some new recipes soon (I have ideas for this holiday season) but in the meantime, here are quick links to previous Thanksgivings:
I ate Tofurkey the last two years. Not that I felt I really needed a substitute for turkey, but I do like it, so why not once a year? This year, Trader Joe's is going to be carrying their own version of Tofurkey. I hear it's better. So I'll be giving that a shot.
Now, what I'm really going to write about today is money. If we just get into the way back machine real quickly we'll remember that I had wanted to know if being vegan meant spending more on food. I discovered that it doesn't. Here's what I said after being vegan for a month. In this post I made a promise to follow up on the 1st of January. Looks like I never did that. Well, better late than never.
So, if I do that thing where I add up all the money spent on food in the last year and divide it by twelve, it looks like we spent $477 per month on average. Compare that to the $437 per month we spent as vegetarians and it looks like we spend $40 more as vegans.
Ok, well that's skewed. I still don't believe that being vegan is more expensive. I believe we just don't plan well enough. One month we spent $736 on food, so I know there must be months where we spend significantly less than the $477 average. To be fair, I had stocked up on food for when my mom came to visit, and we spent $160 on apples that we turned into applesauce. We'll be eating that for the next six months or so.
The thing is that over the last two years that we've been vegan, our income has gone up. So of course, more money coming in, and poor planning, means more money spent.
All this to say that we're going to get serious about budgeting.
We're going to start spending no more than $400 per month on food. One huge step in that direction is that I'm packing my lunch rather than buying it at work. It's easy to say, "I work at a grocery store, so I can just buy something." But then I add on a chocolate bar, or a bag of chips, or something that I don't really need. You know how that goes.
So this month we actually spent $394. It's getting tight here at the end of the month. We're searching the cupboards for food. It's sort of amazing how much food you can find in the cupboards when you start getting creative. Here's what we made yesterday for lunches this week, after thinking we didn't have any food in the house:
Kind of a lot of food considering we felt like the cupboards were empty. And it's delicious. I wish it had more color. Maybe a red bell pepper, but if I went to the store to buy that I'd probably add other things and end up spending $20 or more.
This is just carrots, broccoli, potatoes, onion and gluten (my grandfolks call it wheat-meat). Olive oil, salt, rosemary, red pepper flakes. Baked at 400 for, I don't know, almost an hour. Until the taters were soft.
So three more days until we can buy food again. We've still got loads of red lentils, quinoa, beans and rice. I think we can do it.
23 October 2012
We're in a drought here in Minnesota. And a lot of the rest of the country too. Here's a map from the University of Nebraska:
You get the gist from this image, but click here if you want to see it clearer.
So the DNR has asked people to stop taking baths. Instead you should shower, because it uses less water. I prefer showers anyway, so that's fine with me. Here's what else we're doing.
We've been placing plastic tubs in our kitchen sink (one for washing; one for rinsing), then we pour that water into a five gallon bucket (you can buy one from Home Depot for under $3) and, once that's full, we use it to water our trees.
Right, because they're also suggesting that people water their trees. We're trying to avoid wasting clean water when our trees don't seem to mind that we use dirty water.
We're still looking into an easier way to reuse our kitchen water. I need to do some more research. One site I found online suggested you shouldn't store gray water for more than 24 hours, and most of the systems I saw hooked up simply drain the kitchen water straight to plants. No storing at all.
Here's something else that I'm excited about. I ordered this thing online, and it hasn't arrived yet, which is a little frustrating when Amazon is raising the bar to same day delivery. It wasn't available through Amazon, and the place I ordered it said it would take up to three weeks to ship. That means it should ship...today I think:
AQUS. That's the name of this thing. It collects the water from your bathroom sink, filters it and then uses it to fill your toilet reserve tank. Because, duh, why do you need to flush fresh water down the toilet?
It's set up so that if you don't run enough water down the sink to fill the tank, it will still supplement it with fresh water. Also, if the tank is already full, it will simply divert water down the sewer.
I'm a little concerned that we won't be able to fill the tank with enough water from our sink to save that much water, but maybe we can connect it to the bathtub if we need to.
We're also looking into diverting our bathtub water outside to our trees, but we probably won't get anything like that set up until next spring or later.
Here's another idea about how you can save water:
Just listen to George:
Different pipes don't go to different places. You can pee in the shower. Unless you're diverting your shower water to your yard. Then maybe get an AQUS.
The good news is that it's actually raining today. Storms are passing through. My dogs don't know what to think about it, presumably because it hasn't rained in so long. But we're going to need at least a solid week of pouring down rain to make up for this.
21 October 2012
I really need your help here. If you're vegan, or you enjoy my blog, or even if neither of those things are true but you'd just like me to be happy, please read on. We all need to take action on this.
It's nearly time for us all to make a decision and let our voices be heard. I'm not talking about the presidential election. I'm talking about a great Trader Joe's product that was recently discontinued due to slow sales.
If you're a Trader Joe's shopper, then you're probably familiar with the charm that is new items on the shelf practically every time you enter the store. In order for this to happen, old items that aren't popular enough get cut from the line up.
Recently this happened to one of my all time favorite chips: Rice and Bean Chips.
This is a picture of me in Oia, Santorini, Greece. I hauled this bag of chips halfway across the country to show how much I enjoy them, and now they're gone, gone, gone.
Now, I work at Trader Joe's, and I've already personally contacted the people in charge to plead with them to bring the product back. Alas, I am but a single man. I need the help of the masses.
If you've had these chips before, and you miss them, then please let Trader Joe's know.
If you've never had these chips, and you need a little more convincing, allow me to elaborate.
They are vegan, and they're gluten and soy free. They're made with rice and adzuki beans, plus a little hot pepper for a slightly spicy effect. In short, they appeal to a wide variety of people, they're super tasty, and they're good for you.
Heard enough? Then please
You'll be directed to the Trader Joe's website. Specifically, it will bring you to a form where you can fill out a little information about yourself and tell them you want the chips back. I'll make it easy. Here's what they want to know:
The Trader Joe's closest to you
The name of the product: Rice and Bean Chips
Comments: Please bring them back! I love them so much!
If you don't already know this about Trader Joe's, they really do value feedback from their customers. If enough people do this, they will bring them back. It's true. It's happened before.
If you still don't believe that these chips are as great as I say, check out what these folks have to say about it:
Soy Makes Me Sick (this one lists the ingredients; they're soy free!)
I could go on. Hopefully I've made my case. About a hundred folks visit this website every day. I know, it's nothing compared to Google, but if you all just take the 20 seconds to fill out the form, it would make me, and a lot of other snack enthusiasts very happy.
The Influence of "Forks Over Knives"
28 August 2012
Well this is embarrassing. I'm not proud of this, but it's been so long since I posted that I couldn't even find DreamWeaver on my computer. It used to sit on the most frequently used list, and when it disappeared from there, I didn't know where to look. Good news though. I found it.
Ok, so today at work two coworkers talked to me about veganism. One of them K Mac, told me that she's been vegan for over a week now. She and I have talked about different nutritional things for a while now. She's started drinking smoothies with lots of greens. At first she was using spinach in her smoothies, but I told her that kale is much better because there's something in spinach that prevents your body from absorbing much of the iron. That thing isn't present in kale. You want to know what that thing is don't know you? I can hear you telling me that I don't sound very professional right now. Ok, let me refer to my notes: oxalic acid. Nailed it!
Oxalic acid can hinder your body's ability to absorb the iron. However, if you eat vitamin C at the same time it can work against the oxalic acid and help your body absorb the iron. Great! But kale doesn't have oxalic acid (that's not entirely true) and it's naturally high in both iron and vitamin C, so...kale is still better.
But anyway, like I said, K Mac has been vegan for a week now, which means she's stopped putting yogurt into her smoothies. K Mac: I'm proud of you and I hope it continues to go well for you.
The second person I talked to today was Rana. She's fairly new to Trader Joe's, and didn't even know I was vegan. She had just watched "a documentary." That's what she said, "A Documentary." We figure out that it was Forks Over Knives.
Forks Over Knives. If you haven't seen it yet, maybe you should. K Mac saw it too. It's inspired both of them to go vegan, or at least try it out. If you're already vegan, and you've read The China Study, you probably won't get anything from Forks Over Knives. I finally watched it a week or so ago, and it was good, but I don't think I learned anything new.
If you're contemplating veganism, check it out because may just be the push you need.
If you love eating meat and really don't want any of that hippy bullshit influencing you, for the love of god, do not watch it. It will only make you feel bad about eating meat, and not because it shows how animals are mistreated (it doesn't focus on that at all) but because you'll realize how poorly you're treating your own body, that you have a much, much greater risk of dying of heart disease or cancer than we hippy vegans do. And then you'll just feel bad every time you take a bite of that steak. You don't need that on your conscience.
So after Rana was explaining to me about some of the amazing benefits of a plant based diet, I told her I've been vegan for a year and a half. And it's great.
Plant Based Diet. I need to talk about this phrase that's been around for a while now, but I find it to be pretty interesting. It seems like it's grown to be used more than "veganism." Like vegan is a bad word or something. Like they don't want to associate with those crazy, vegan hippies. It’s weird how words evolve. I think there can be a negative connotation with veganism. Plant based diet sounds so much more grown up. Whatever. I use them interchangeably. That's a hard work to spell. Thanks spell check. But it's positive. It doesn't mention all the things you don't eat; it just mentions the things you do eat: plants. I think veganism is associated with abstinence. Vegan's don't eat meat, don't eat eggs, don't eat dairy, don't wear leather, don't wear fur. On the contrary, people on a plant based diet eat plants. Much simpler. Much more appealing.
So, wow. People are interested in veganism, if they're calling it by a different name. That's exciting. Rana (I told her about my blog, which is one of the reasons I felt I really needed to update it) check out the books I've talked about here. You may need to scroll down a little. I think you'll find some good recipes to get you started. Oh, and that wrap you ate today for lunch: it's good, but there's much better vegan food out there. Do some more exploring and I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Kale has .02 grams of oxalic acid per 100 grams of the kale itself. To compare, spinach has nearly a full gram per 100 grams. That's a big difference.
USDA & Meatless Mondays
27 July 2012
Attention. Your attention please. The USDA does not support Meatless Mondays.
Apparently someone in the USDA sent out an internal email to other people in the USDA encouraging them to go meatless on Mondays. Let's back up. What's Meatless Monday?
The idea is that it's healthier and better for the environment to go meatless one day a week. Why is this? Oh, less fat, less cholesterol, more fiber, antioxidents, yadda yadda. And here's one statistic, among many, for the environment: it takes 7,000kg of grain to make 1,000kg of beef. Not sure why that statistic is in the thousands. So anyway, that's 8,000kg of food turned into 1,000kg. That math is silly. And to put that into perspective, we're talking about a lot of land, water and energy to grow the grain and then turn it into meat, when we could just be eating the grain and reducing our footprint.
That environmental impact is the reason I first decided to go vegetarian. Read more about Meatless Mondays here.
What does this have to do with the USDA? Well, the USDA is, of course, a government agency. And a government agency can't really endorse one type of agriculture over another without creating a lot of angry farmers.
I keep thinking of an episode of The West Wing where President Bartlett said something like he doesn't like broccoli (or some vegetable) and the broccoli farmers (or farmers of whatever vegetable it was) were not happy. In the end, he had to go on camera and eat some broccoli. It's a big deal.
So, the USDA said, no, no, we like meat. We would never discourage people from eating good, old fashioned beef. That's an American staple. I'm paraphrasing.
Here's the condradiction: the USDA does say that Americans should intake less saturated fat and increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. So Meatless Monday is actually right along those lines, but there's a difference between "Eat more veggies," and "Eat less meat."
Politics. It's crazy. It's why we still use fossil fuels. Because the oil industry is all, "If you tell people to stop using gas, all these people will lose their jobs." It's tough, I know. But let's say, hypothetically, that those people just get different jobs. Easier said than done, but it's going to happen eventually anyway. Once we run out of fossil fuels (because, as we all learned in grade school, it's not a renewable resource) oil workers will lose their jobs. So I guess we'll wait until mother nature makes that decision for us. But I digress.
According to Wikipedia, this is what the USDA is:
the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and abroad.
So it's meant to help farmers, and ensure that the food we're eating isn't contaminated. I've got not problem with an organization helping farmers. I just don't think we should be taking our nutrition advice from an organization that's so influenced by the farmers.
8 July 2012
I almost forgot how to do this. That's how long it's been. Too long. But here's why:
I've been super busy buying a house. It's kind of a lot of work, but two weeks ago we moved into our first house. And the best part is that we can have a garden now. Sunny's really excited about square foot gardening. We're putting in three square garden beds, each four feet by four feet. So each square foot in the bed gets sectioned off, and you grow something like four heads of lettuce in one square or one tomato plant in one square. I don't know all the details. That's Sunny's thing.
So at the moment we have some pots on our deck. We have a tomato plant, basil, cilantro, mint, and some other herb I think. Sunny also planted some sunflower seeds in the ground by the garage.
We're getting started fairly late in the season, but there are still plenty of things to grow. Kale, for example, is best closer to fall. And I love me some kale.
So we're really excited about growing our own food, composting, and just trying to be as sustainable as possible.
I'll show you pictures of the garden when it's done.
Hey, thanks to all of you who've been reading this even while I've been neglecting it. I'm back, I promise. And I'm reallty excited to start sharing recipes from the garden.
25 April 2012
I recently went to Boston for work. I think the craziest thing about the whole experience was hearing people speak in a Boston accent when they're just talking about mundane things like shopping at Kmart. I usually only hear people feigning a Boston accent, and then they're purposely saying things like "water," where you can hear the dropping of the R and the open-mid back rounded vowel. That's how they pronounce the A. You know what I'm talking about. If you don't know, listen to Car Talk, or think of how a New Yorker says coffee.
Anyway, I ate some good food too. Very close to the office there was an intersection (Summer & Atlantic) where food trucks park. There were four or five of them, all with really long lines, but they send the people through real quickly. I, along with two other vegans I met who work at Trader Joe's in other parts of the country, ate at Clover.
At first I was afraid they wouldn't take credit cards. I mean it's a truck parked at an intersection. And I didn't have any cash on me. But Tamara said, "It is 2012. I think they'll take credit cards." And they did. The operation was pretty amazing. They had two people outside the truck taking orders on their iPhones. They had attachments on their phones to run credit cards, and then I believe they sent that information into the truck, where there were possibly ten people working. I also heard the folks outside yell some orders into the truck though. I don't know how they fit enough food in that truck to feed all the people coming through. They must use their space wisely.
So after they take your order, you stand with the group of twenty or so people in front of the counter (the side of the truck) until they call your name. This whole operation is pretty impressive to me because I don't eat a lot of truck food (it's usually not vegan), and I've never seen a food truck accommodate such a high volume of customers.
Backing up, the folks with the iPhones who took your order also took your name and punched that into their phones. Now the people making the food know to call your name out. But I guess (and I'm reading this from their website now) the iPhone sometimes autocorrects the person's name. It once turned Margaret into Maggot.
About the menu: I should have taken a picture of it so I could remember everything. I had the BBQ Seitan Sandwich. It was tasty. Travis had something with chickpeas. I think it was deep-fried chickpea balls. Something like that. It sounded like falafel but not exactly falafel. They also had some tasty, greasy, yummy fries with rosemary. And Travis also had a hibiscus beverage.
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: they will put mayonnaise on it if you don't ask them to leave it off. All three of us had mayonnaise on our sandwiches and we were all really confused. Why would you put mayonnaise on a sandwich that is otherwise vegan? It's like making a tofu scramble and adding bacon. It was just unexpected. So beware.
Clover is some great, vegan, fast food, and it's right next to the train station (they also have trucks at these locations). So if you find yourself arriving in Boston by train between 8am and 6pm, and you're starving, walk right through the food court in the train station, across the intersection (that's Summer & Atlantic) and find the white truck that says Clover. But don't forget to leave the mayonnaise off.
10 April 2012
Last night Sunny and I got back from our trip to Greece. We spent one week in Oia, Santorini, and then two nights in Athens. It was amazing. Here's a picture I took at Oia from the boat. The villa we rented is right below the big square white building in the middle.
Here's the patio of the villa where we stayed:
So on the flight over, we packed a bunch of vegan food to eat on the plane. We also found some filling, but expensive and not the tastiest, packaged vegan food at JFK. So it didn't matter that Delta hadn't remembered that we requested vegan meals. We just didn't eat most of what they served.
And I discovered that if I have a pleasantly full stomach, I don't get motion sickness. Best way to fly ever. Bring food. Of course the problem tends to be, what will they let me take through security? Well, no liquids. I guess small amounts of liquids, like a little container of salad dressing would be ok.
Once we got to Oia, all veganism went out the window. I had read in one guide book that because Santorini is high up on a cliff, it's more difficult to get to the water, so the cuisine on the island tends to me less fish and seafood and more vegetables. Eggplant, cucumber, campari tomatoes and fava beans are four things they grow there. And they were easy to find on menus and in markets, but there's still plenty of seafood and fish. It turns out that only half the island (the half that leads down to the caldera) has cliffs leading to the water. The outer side of the island levels off and has beaches and the like.
That said, it seemed preposterous (especially since we've already finished our official year) not to enjoy the Greek yogurt and feta cheese. We weened ourselves into it (can you ween into something or only off of something?) eating only small amounts of feta and a few bites of yogurt, but then we ate more and more. The tzatziki dip was amazing. We bought some at restuarants and made our own at home.
We ate so, so much. But not all the time. Here's a delicious vegan meal I ate in Athens. It's eggplant.
I also tried some ouzo with this meal. It's disgusting. Tastes like licorice.
I started thinking that I we should really start eating feta and Greek yogurt at home. But then the flight home happened. First of all, in Athens, there's nothing between the security checkpoint and the gate, so anything we brought on the plane had to be able to go through security. We ended up with nothing.
Most of the long return flight was fine. My mother had requested a vegetarian meal, which Delta remembered, but she isn't actually vegetarian. She just doesn't eat pork/ham or seafood. So when we got a turkey sandwich, she traded with us. Everything was going fine until that last three-cheese calzone. There was so much cheap cheese inside that I questioned whether I should eat the whole thing, but I did anyway. Turns out a lot of people got sick. I nearly threw up, Sunny did throw up, and I overheard the flight attendants talking about a group of people who all threw up and how there was a lot of cleaning to be done. I had thought it was just motion sickness for myself, but when I heard that so many passengers had gotten sick, I attributed it to the calzone.
After landing in JFK, we had less than a hour to get through passport control, retrieve our baggage, walk through customs, drop our baggage off again, go through security and get to our gate. We made it just in time, but there was no time to allow our stomachs to settle, so I didn't feel too great on that flight either.
In the end, when I got home I was happy to eat a couple florets of raw broccoli (thanks Kelley) that were in our fridge.
And, I'm more than happy to return to being vegan. It was similar to that first experience that made me want to go vegan. Too much omelete, cream and cheese for breakfast. I'll stick with my veggies, grains and legumes...at least until my next trip. But from now on I'm packing my own in-flight meal. No more Delta food for me.
21 March 2012
Here's another delicious and nutritious meal. It's also a great one for taking to work for lunch.
2 c Quinoa
4 c Water
Bring the water to a boil. Add quinoa. Lower heat, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes.
1 can Corn
1 can Black Beans
4oz can Nacho Sliced Jalapenos, drained
1 c Chunky Salsa
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Lemon Juice
1/4 t Cumin
1 t Garlic Powder
1 t Onion Powder
1 t Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper
Mix all this together while the quinoa is cooking. Once the quinoa is done, fluff it and stir everything together.
You can eat it just like this, warm or cold. But here are some optional additions:
1/2 c Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 c Red Onion, finely diced
1/4 c Cilantro, finely chopped
extra chopped tomatoes
I like to eat it with corn chips. Or even better, Quinoa chips. Also adding some avocado makes it even better.
I don't remember how I originally found this recipe, but I've made it a few times now, and whenver I search for it again, I type MexiQuinoa into Google and it's the first result. Now, when I click on the first result, Sparkpeople, it doesn't take me anywhere. Luckily I had already printed it and taped it to the inside of my cupboard.
6 March 2012
Just for St Patrick's Day, Trader Joe's carries whole heads of green cabbage. We also carry corned beef, but obviously that doesn't interest me too much. I did, however, get a hankering for some cabbage stew. So I found a recipe at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. That's a blog written by Susan Voisin. Here's the recipe as she lists it (I didn't deviate from it too much) as well as a picture from her website, because my picture doesn't look as nice.
1 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
1 to 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, cut in large dice
1/3 cup pearled barley (optional or substitute with gluten-free grain)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6-8 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked great northern beans (2 cans, drained)
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt to taste
Place the vegetables, seasonings, and barley into a large (at least 5 quart) slow cooker. Add enough vegetable broth to just cover the vegetables (start with 6 cups and add more as needed). Cover and cook on low heat for 7 hours.
Add beans, tomatoes, parsley, and salt to taste. Check seasonings and add more herbs if necessary. Cover and cook for another hour.
So here's what I did differently. I didn't use celery, because Sunny hates it. I used a whole head of cabbage (but maybe my cabbage was smaller than average), and I didn't use barley. I did add gluten, which is a fake meat type thing Sunny makes.
I had thought of using quinoa, which would make it gluten free while still adding the protein necessary to make it a complete protein.
Also, my can of tomatoes was 28oz, and I went ahead and added the whole thing.
I noticed that my crockpot is too small. I was able to follow the first part of the recipe, but when it came to adding the beans and tomatoes, I had to throw it all into a large bowl, which means I wasn't able to simmer for that extra hour. The veggies were already cooked though, because instead of simmering for seven hours, I simmered overnight. I'm not even sure how long that ended up being.
When I woke up, the smell in the house made me think, "Maybe I don't like cabbage." But tasting it proved otherwise. This is quite tasty, in my opinion. I really like the idea of stewing things overnight. Seems so rustic, like getting back to the good old days when things didn't have MSG and all that nonsense. Like it's real food.
But...maybe cooking it so long causes some of the nutrients to disappear. A raw food enthusiat would say, "Duh." Anyway, it's lunches to bring to work for the week.
Happy St Patty's Day (it's okay to start celebrating a couple weeks early), and thanks to Susan Voisin at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for the recipe.
Coconut, Cranberry Apple Crisp
19 February 2012
Last night I made the best apple crisp I've ever made, and I took it over to David & Ceri's. They have kittens. They're little and cute, but their dad was a mane coon, so they may grow to be large.
But back to the crisp. I used my normal apple crisp recipe, but I altered it to make it more fancy, because Ceri makes such fancy food—butternut squach ravioli, for example—and I didn't want to be outdone. So here's what the recipe turned into:
8 c Sliced Apples (I used galas this time)
Dried Cranberries (sprinkled in; I didn't measure)
1/4 can Apple Juice Concentrate
1/4 can Cranberry Juice Concentrate
1/2 c Sugar
2 t Cinnamon
1/4 c Almond Meal
1 c Coconut Oil
1 c Brown Sugar
1 3/4 c Almond Meal
1 1/2 c Oats
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
Mix the filling and throw it into a 9x13 pan. Now sprinkle the coconut over the top. Then spread the topping over all that and spread it out evenly.
Bake at 400 for 30 minutes...maybe a little longer.
When we made it we were rushed to get over to Ceri & David's on time, so we pulled it out as soon as it seemed like it had baked long enough. It could have baked another five to ten minutes. The apples were cooked well enough, but a little longer wouldn't have hurt, and the oats were a little underdone.
I had intended to buy apple-cranberry juice concentrate, but I accidentally bought straight cranberry juice concentrate. So I mixed it with apple juice concentrate.
Oh, I almost forgot. When we ate it, we put it into a bowl with a scoop of coconut ice cream. That is to say ice cream made with coconut milk and flavored with coconut. It looks like this:
13 February 2012
That title has two meanings: This is the second time I've blogged about vitamin D (here's the first), but also, I'm talking about vitamin D2, as opposed to D3.
I recently received a comment in which I was told that...well, why I don't just quote it here verbatim:
recently the subject of vegetarianism has been highly debated and controversial. The case of a girl of 12 years, highly adherent of vegetarianism, was admitted, for rickets. Rickets, a disease that leads to bone fractures and spinal curvature is caused by lack of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an essential role in bone development in children. Fish oil is a good source of vitamin D, but vegans extreme can only get cereal with added vitamins or margarine, which is not enough.
After being vegan for over a year now, and doing quite a bit of research into it, I've come to believe that veganism is healthy. In fact I find it to be healthier than the alternative. But I'm not so proud that I won't listen to comments such as this and use the information to better myself. So here we go:
Vitamin D comes from the sun. Or rather, it is created in the body when sunlight hits the skin. Exposing your forearms and face to the sun for 15-20 minutes each day is sufficient. This is according to Becoming Vegan.
I'd say sunlight is probably the best way for vegans to get vitamin D. Wearing sunblock does hinder the synthesis of vitamin D, but it doesn't completely block it.
But what if you live in the northern part of the country where there's less sunlight in the winter? Let's say Washington, where it's dark and gloomy for nine months out of the year, or Minnesota, where it's too cold to bare even your forearms during the winter?
Good food sources of vitamin D include fish, liver, fish liver, eggs. I assume they mean chicken eggs, but maybe fish eggs would be a great source. Anywho, what's a vegan to do?
If you're going to take supplements, make sure you get vitamin D2, because D3 comes from animals. Obviously that goes for buying fortified foods as well. You can get fake milks and cereals that are fortified with D2. So that's an option. Personally, I don't see how that's better than taking a pill. And I'd rather not take a pill; I'd rather eat something naturally contains the nutrients I need.
Mind you, D2 pills aren't synthetic. D2 in pill form, or in fortified foods comes from yeast. Or, it may come from portabella mushrooms.
Mushrooms sold in most grocery stores are grown in the dark, because, let's face it, if we don't need light to grow something, why would we give it light? I'm sure if we could grow food without water, we'd save the water. It makes sense. But if mushrooms get some light, they become excellent, and I mean really excellent, sources of vitamin D.
I'll get more specific. A portabella mushroom grown in complete darkness will contain 14 IU of vitamin D in a 100g serving. If, however, it's zapped with light for a mere five minutes in its entire growing cycle, that number jumps to 500 IU. Daily recommended intake is 600 IU.
Here's what 100g of portabella mushroom looks like:
Right, that's one mushroom cap.
Now then, where do we get this stuff? I haven't found it yet. I know Dole sells them, but I don't know where to get them. I do know that you can buy a vitamin D rich portabella mushroom powder through Dole's website. I bought some. It's in the mail.
If you don't want to do that, you can definitely buy supplements of vitamin D that come from portabella mushrooms at Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods, and probably any co-op you go to.
Apparently, the powder is fairly flavorless, so you can add it to smoothies and not get that mushroom flavor. If you want the mushroom flavor, you have to add a lot, which you can do if you're making soup or whatever. Personally, I'm afraid this isn't the cheapest stuff, so I'll probably just have the one teaspoon's worth, which is 150% of the RDA of vitamin D.
Conclusion: you should be able to get your D from the sun, but if you live in an area with less sunlight, or you just don't go outside enough, you can get it from special shrooms.
New Things at Trader Joe's
6 February 2012
We've got some new vegan items at Trader Joe's. Want to know what I think of them? Here you go:
Mandarin Orange Chicken (the real stuff) has been one of Trader Joe's best sellers for a long time. And now there's a vegan version. Some of the other vegetarians I work with are really excited about this, and they've eaten for lunch a few times. They love it. I'm not the biggest fan. The chickenless morsels taste like chicken McNuggets to me. So if that's appealing to you, then check it out. Don't get me wrong, I ate the whole thing, but I don't think I'd buy it again. I think it something that would appeal to someone who's gone vegetarian but misses meat and needs something to substitute it. It is, afterall, a fake meat.
I liked this more. It's stickier than you might imagine fried rice to be. I'm a fan of seaweed, but even if you're not the biggest fan, the seaweed is the last ingredient, so it's really not overpowering. I think I could handle more seaweed. In fact, I might wrap them in this:
You can get this without the wasabi flavor as well. I think I might prefer it that way. These are basically seaweed strips like you would use to make sushi.
Here's one more thing I'm excited about. They're kind of like tortilla chips, but they're made with garbanzos and all the spices and such you'd put in falafel. I'm just not real sure what to dip them in. Plain hummus I guess.
Last night I made tabouli, but instead of using bulgur, I used quinoa. I thought it would be better because quinoa is a complete protein. Turns out it's much stickier. I guess the bulgur absorbs more of the oil? Or something. Maybe I should have reduced the oil. It was still quite edible though. Sunny took some to work with her today, and because real falafel would have turned soggy by the time she ate it at work, she took some falafel chips to go with the tabouli.
So if you find yourself in a Trader Joe's in the near future, look for these new items. They should be well stocked because they're in the current Fearless Flyer.
13 January 2012
That doesn't sound right. Not grilled on a charcoal or gas grill. It's like a grilled cheese sandwich but without the cheese. I was inspired by the Tempeh Reuben at French Meadow Bakery. It's delicious.
I've made a few variations of this. Here's the first:
I slice and oil pieces of tempeh and then stick them under the broiler for a bit. This usually means until smoke starts coming out of the oven. Surprisingly the tempeh is still good.
Then I spread Earth Balance on the outsides of the rye bread (I like light rye bread). And on the inside I put the tempeh, saurkraut, tomato, and a jarred, fire roasted red pepper.
Grill, flip, grill, eat.
Mostly the same except I omit the red pepper because I use an eggplant/red pepper spread. I also added cayenne pepper to the spread because Sunny was stuffed up and wanted something hot to clean her sinuses. Funny thing is we had just bragged to our friends Sara and Bob about how we don't get sick because we're vegan.
This one is just the eggplant/red pepper spread (still with added cayenne) and a piece of grilled eggplant. The eggplant came frozen.
It's been delicious. Quick and easy...a little greasy.
2 January 2012
The Year is Over!
I know, it's been a while since I updated this thing. To be fair, I work at Trader Joe's, and November and December are the busiest times of the year. If you've been to a Trader Joe's, then you probably know what I'm talking about. The place is so busy that there's no room to move.
In addition to that, I've been putting together the Winter issue of 5x5, which should be in the mail on Wednesday. I keep pushing back the date. We had some printing issues.
But I've got so much to tell you. For the last month we haven't been as strictly vegan as we were for the rest of the year. Technically, we started this journey November of 2010, so we were vegan for over a year, although our original plan was to do it from January 1st to January 1st.
Anywho, so many people have been asking me: "I hear you're not vegan anymore?" or "I heard you gave up on veganism." Hmm. I didn't "give up." Obviously those people have never read my blog, since the title is...well, you know what the title is. Thanks for reading.
So when people asked me about it, I would say, "I'm still going to be mostly vegan." And of course they didn't know what that meant. One guy, Bryce, gave me hard time about it. He's vegetarian, and he said he hates it when people call themselves vegetarian but eat fish, or even chicken. Yeah. Me too. He had a valid point. But I think I figured it out. It took some...shall we say mistakes?
For my 30th birthday, last week, we went to The Happy Gnome for dinner, followed by drink with more people. I ordered a vegetarian Juicy Lucy. It was basically a big mozzarella cheese stick (except it was a patty) in a bun. I remember thinking it was really good, but it was a lot of cheese and my stomach wasn't too happy afterwards. Later on I drank too many beers and my stomach was even unhappier, but we're focusing on the cheese right now.
Then at work, Kim made a cheesecake in celebration of my birth. It was delicious, and I couldn't stop eating it. Again, I felt sick.
And you know what? I don't think I really want to eat those things again. So my answer is that I'm still vegan, just not strict vegan. If there's some random nonvegan ingredient in something I want to eat that would otherwise be vegan, and healthy, and delicious, I'm not going to be crazy about it. I'll just eat it. But I'm going to eat things that are full of cheese and the like.
I've been an omnivore; I've been a vegetarian; I've been a vegan. I prefer vegan. I've never eaten as healthy as I did this last year, and I think I should probably keep going with it.
So this blog isn't over. I'm going to stick around, posting recipes and the like for anyone who's interested in veganism. I challenge anyone to try it for a year, really try it and give it a chance, and see what becomes of it. You may not choose to remain vegan after the year, but I guarantee you'll learn a lot about nutrition, and that can't hurt.
Here's what Sunny and I working on this year: going green. We've always been environmentally conscious. We've ridden our bicycles through Minnesota winters. But it's gotten harder, living in an apartment where we can't compost, living in Minneapolis where not everything can be recycled, and working so far from home that we have to drive. That's both of us now. We own two cars now because we live in the city and we both work in the suburbs.
Stay tuned. I'll let you know how this goes.
Silly DeGenereses, Vegan Food is for Rabbits
12 December 2011
Allegedly, Ellen and Portia are working on a pet food line that's vegan. I've blogged about vegan pet food before, but I thought that with this new information it would be appropriate to revisit the idea.
Number one, sure, dogs can be vegan. In fact, some dogs need to limit their protein intake, so feeding them a vegan diet can be very good for them. I'm sure other breeds do better with some meat in their diet. The point is that they're omnivores. If you're really into saving animals from being used as food, then your dog can probably survive on a vegan diet. But you may want to check with your vet.
Number two, this article mentioned that they don't know if the DeGenereses are planning to include guinea pig food or rabbit food. Guinea pigs and rabbits are herbivores, so they should already be eating a vegan diet. You can feed them scraps of your own salads and they would be eating quite healthily. If you want to buy the specially formulated stuff that has Ellen's and Portia's names on the label, it's your money.
Number three, and this is the kicker, CATS ARE CARNIVORES. They eat meat. Eating a plant based diet it not good for them. Cats eat grass sometimes, when they want to force themselves to vomit. It isn't food to them. Feeding a cat a vegan diet is harmful.
Just say no to vegan cat food. Even though Ellen and Portia are a cute couple:
Right, their wedding was vegan too.
9 December 2011
Mashed Roots and Leaves
After Bryant made that mashed potato/kale dish at Thanksgiving, Sunny and I started experimenting. Here's what we came up with:
The things on the outer parts of the plate are tomato (obviously) with a little salt and garlic bread. We bought a loaf of bread that had garlic baked into it, so I just slathered on Earth Balance and put it under the broiler for a bit.
But now for the main event: We cut up and boiled equal parts rutabaga, turnips and golden potatoes. Boil them all together. It's done when the potatoes are done. The rutabagas and turnips will be a little harder, which will leave you with chunks when you mash it. I like it that way. Mash it all up and add some Earth Balance or fake cream cheese. Then steam some kale and stir that in.
For the gravy, we used tahini dressing.
Delicious. We were trying to limit ourselves so we didn't get tired of it right away, but then we remembered that kale season isn't very long. So we're gorging ourselves now.
26 November 2011
Here's what separates me from food bloggers who make a living out of it: I post about the biggest food day of the year three days after the fact instead of three days before. Guess I'll keep my day job.
Bryant flew in from Las Vegas and he, Sunny and I drove down to East Moline, IL to see our dad. He just bought a house. So we packed up are new Subaru Impreza, Emily, and drove down. The nice think about Emily is that she had four seats and is just all around pleasant to take on road trips. Where our Ford Ranger is better is in having a lot of room for things. We've been spoiled. Now we have to re-learn to pack light, which means planning ahead.
So here's what my Thanksgiving was all about:
That's Tofurky in the middle. I prepared it just like I did last year, except I had forgotten how I'd done it. I had to check my blog post from last year, and I realized I needed carrots, onion and celery. Luckily I had baby carrots and onion, and I don't like celery anyway.
There's a sweet potato dinner roll at about 10 o'clock. I'm not sure what the exact recipe was. Sunny made it, and I think she got the recipe from allrecipes.com. Last year she used Egg Replacer, but we didn't have that this year, so we used apple sauce and baking powder.
1/4 c Applesauce and
1/2 t Baking Powder
Mix it together and it equals one egg.
We couldn't even tell they had applesauce in them.
In the bottom there's some mashed potatoes with kale. Bryant made that. It was yummy. Sunny was inspired by it, so when we got home she made her own rendition. Mashed potatoes, turnips and rutabegas (which Microsoft informs me has no H. Why did I think it had an H?) with steamed kale. It's good. I'm eating it right now with a glass of Nouveau.
There's also some beets. Bryant felt bad for the beet in Greatest Grains and decided to buy it.
He also sauteed red cabbage and added lemon juice and freshly ground pepper.
And lastly, Brussels Sprouts:
I've made this a few times now. It's Brussels sprouts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried cranberries, pine nuts and rosemary. Stick it in the oven at 400 until its tender. Like I said, I've made it a few times, so obviously I like it. I think Sunny and I have gone through about ten stalks of Brussels sprouts.
We also has apple crisp for dessert. Here's how we've been making it:
Filling (from Sunny's mom, Judy)
8 c sliced apples (I used Macouns)
1/2 can apple juice concentrate
2 T lemon juice
1/2 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/4 c almond meal
For the crisp
1 c margarine
1 c brown sugar
1 3/4 c almond meal
1 1/2 c oats
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Just mix the filling and crisp separately and put them into a 9x13 pan: filling on bottom; crisp on top. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.
It's gluten free, but we forgot to bring almond meal, so we used flour. None of us are gluten intolerant anyway.
So that was pretty much our Thanksgiving.
On our way back to Minneapolis Friday morning, we stopped in Iowa City for coffee from Java House. They brew your coffee right there in front of you. You should check it out, because it's pretty cool. Bryant and I make it a point to stop there whenever we drive through Iowa City.
Then we walked to the New Pioneer Food Co-op for pastries. We got some rhubarb (That's why I though rutabega had an H. It's rhubard that has an H.) scones. Oh my goodness were they light and fluffy and delicious. Alright, I believe that a good scone should be dense, but that's just semantics. These things were so good. We also got some fresh cookies, which were also amazing. If I live in Iowa City I would live between these two establishment and do nothing by walk back and forth drinking coffee and eating pastries.
Alas, I have to work to afford the coffee and pastries, which means I must sleep. I hope you all had fantastic Thanksgivings.
11 November 2011
Sunny and I just bought a car, which caused us to evaluate our finances. Turns out we're spending a lot of money on food. It's due to poor planning. So we put together a plan. The main thing is making food to bring to work. Otherwise I buy food at work, and you know what happens when you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
Most of the meals we're preparing are things we've done before and are posted here. But muesli is new. Well, not a new idea...and it's something we've both eaten in the past...anyway, here's the recipe:
2 c Orange Juice
1 c Oats
1 T Wheat Germ
You just throw all this stuff together and let it sit in the fridge overnight. It's raw, vegan, unprocessed, and sugar-free.
I just had a comment on my recipe for Cranberry-Orange Cookies about how bad sugar is. So this is for you Elisabeth. When we went vegan we inadvertently cut way back on sugar in our daily cooking/baking. The recipes we used called for other things, like agave or apple juice concentrate. Sugar is quite processed, and not very good for the people who consume it or the environment. But I splurge once in a while. Actually the cookies were a little too sweet for me, even without adding the frosting that the original recipe called for, so I make them again I'll try to cut down on the sugar, or substitute it.
Back to the muesli: It's also almost gluten free. The oats we buy are gluten free, just because Trader Joe's sells them for a good price. So if we left out the wheat germ it would be gluten free.
So in the morning, you just pull the muesli out, put it in a bowl and eat it. It's not meant to be eaten warm. Maybe some people heat it, but I hate warm orange juice.
World Vegan Day!
4 November 2011
Ok, so world vegan day was three days ago, and I was too busy working to write about it. Too busy to even remember that it was World Vegan Day until my Google alert told me two days ago. So, let's just go into the A-Few-Days-Back Machine and pretend, shall we?
1 November 2011
Happy World Vegan Day everyone. On this day one year ago I started this blog. If you've been reading since the beginning, or if you've read the archives, then you know that my official year is 2011, so I've still got two months to go before it's over. Last November and December we started transitioning into veganism.
So last Christmas season, I was avoiding the nonvegan holiday cookies and candy because I wanted to prepare myself for my year of veganism. This year, I'm one of the people in charge of the cookie/candy section at work. We just got all of our holiday items in, and we made a big display of it. Most of it I can't eat.
But I can eat these Cranberry Orange cookies:
1 c Earth Balance
1 c Sugar
1/2 c Brown Sugar
1 egg's worth of Egg Replacer
2 T Orange Juice
2 1/2 c Flour
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
2 c Cranberries
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix Earth Balance and sugars until well blended. Then add the egg replacer, and then the orange juice.
Mix the dry stuff separately, and then add it to the rest.
Last, chop up the cranberries and mix them in.
Now drop cookie sized balls on the sheet and bake for around 15 minutes.
The original recipe had a frosting, but these things are sweet enough as it is.
29 October 2011
Not in France. Recent French government legislation effectively bans vegan meals from school cafeterias. It doesn't officially condemn vegan food, but it does require that the cafeteria provides one third of the daily protein requirement. That's the same here in the US. However, the French government goes on to define protein choices: meat, fish and cheese.
That's according to this article at the Examiner. They're the ones who say "meat, fish and cheese." In my book that's redundant because fish is meat.
Also, the Examiner has a creepy thing at the top of the page that says, "We think you're near Minneapolis," and then it tells you the current temperature. Except that it's of by about 35 degrees. So they know where I live, but at least they aren't anywhere near me. Otherwise they'd know the difference between 30 and 65 degrees. It's vast.
So anyway, no vegan meals in the cafeteria. My first thought was that vegan parents can send their children to school with a packed lunch. That's way better anyway, and probably better for you. As I recall, school cafeteria food is greasy.
But then I remembered that schools are meant to educate, and then I got a little bit angry. So what they're teaching children is that you have to eat cheese or meat to get your protein.
To be fair, it's not just protein. School lunches (I'm just talking about the US now; not sure about France) are required to provide one third of the daily requirement of Vitamin A & C, iron, calcium and calories. Also, it requires that no more than 30% of calories come from fat and less than 10% from saturated fat.
How awesome would it be if the school system could demonstrate to children that those requirements can be met on a vegan diet? A diet that also cuts our cholesterol and contains way less fat.
Well maybe it isn't all that bad. According to Bon Appetit magazine, the number of vegetarians in colleges has doubled in the last six years, and the same is true of the number of vegans. Doubled.
Colleges and Universities are doing a pretty good job of offering vegan options for students. In fact, there's a competition set up by PETA (I know, I hate PETA too, but they aren't all bad) to be the most vegan friendly. Georgetown University is in the running. And the very first all vegan dining hall is not in San Francisco. No, it's in Texas. The University of North Texas. If Texas can do it, then anyone can do it.
So the moral of this story is that once you get to college you can eat vegan, but not before. It's a step.
Quinoameal with Pomegranate Seeds
22 October 2011
Here's what I did the last time I made quinoameal:
First I used two cups of almond milk instead of one cup and one cup water. So it was creamier. Then, after it was all cooked, I poured in some orange juice. I didn't measure, but I stirred it up before serving it in the bowls.
Then I added slivered almonds and pomegranate seeds. Delicious.
I'm going to do it again right now.
20 October 2011
A while back I talked about the Coconut Mochi that we sell at Trader Joe's. It looks like this:
And it's quite tasty. There are three flavors: Coconut, Mango and Chocolate. They're all made with coconut milk, and they're all vegan. Sounds delicious, right? Unfortunately, Trader Joe's doesn't carry them anymore. My store just sold the last one yesterday. But there's a movement to bring them back.
This very well may be more than all that Occupy Wall Street business. Or at least it's equally important. Ok, maybe it's not that big of a deal, but we can still try, right?
There are two things you can do to help bring them back. You can sign this petition that Tina started.
And you can send email directly to Trader Joe's by clicking this link.
If you can't think of what you want to say, here are some options (feel free to copy and paste):
1. Straight forward:
Please bring back the Coconut Mochi. It was one of my favorite products and I miss it so much!
Hello Trader Joe's. I'm writing to let you know that I'm a regular shopper at your stores, and I have been for years. I regularly share your products with my friends and family, and I've turned many people into regular Trader Joe's customers just like myself.
Recently you discontinued my very favorite product, the Coconut Mochi. That product had become my number one reason to stop by Trader Joe's, although I usually end up with a shopping cart full of other great products as well.
Please bring this product back. I can't find anything like it anywhere else. I love Trader Joe's!
3. Over the top:
I'm writing to tell you that I love your Coconut Mochi more than life itself. There have been times that I've considered injecting it directly into my veins. I've been going through withdrawals since you discontinued it. Please bring it back. I'll do anything you want and I won't ask questions. Even if it's illegal. Just say the word. I just want my Coconut Mochi back. You got me hooked and then you left me out in the cold. If you've got my back, I've got yours. I know we can work out a deal.
Or you can just write your own. And you'll get a letter back that looks like this:
We are sorry to hear that we have discontinued a favorite product of yours.
At this time our Trader Joe's Assorted Coconut Ice Cream Mochi has been discontinued due to slow sales in all of our stores. Our TJ'S labeled products are exclusively produced for us. Therefore, this product is no
longer being manufactured. We will forward your comments and request to bring this product back to our Buying Department and that will be taken into future consideration.
Trader Joe's has a history of bringing back discontinued items when a lot of people request it. This is our chance to band together and make a change. Then we can enjoy our Coconut Mochi as we work on this Occupy Wall Street thing.
Viva la resistance!
15 October 2011
You know, like oatmeal, but with quinoa instead of oats. And it's just as easy to make, but take a bit longer.
1 c Milk
1 c Water
1 c Quinoa
I think I like it best with coconut milk, but lately we've been making it with almond milk.
Heat it until it boils, then turn it down so it doesn't boil over and wait until the liquid has been absorbed into the quinoa.
Now can do anything you want with it, just like oatmeal. We've been adding apple bits and walnuts.
It's vegan, gluten free, and a complete protein. Oh, and pretty tasty. At least I think it is. I suppose if you're an oatmeal hater you might not like this any better.
5 October 2011
Here's a comic that's going around the Facebook:
Which inspired me to go looking for more:
And that eventually led me to Natalie Dee. She's funny.
What's funny about that is that there have been a few times at work recently when there was non-vegan food in breakroom, and I almost considered eating it because no one was around. I didn't. I know I would have regretted it.
But Sunny told me that when I'm offered food that isn't vegan, I should just eat it. That's what she does. And then she feels sick afterward, so I'm not sure it's really the best idea.
The other day Consuelo brought some apple pie in from Burger King for me. She had brought cheesecake for some other people, and she specifically got the apple for me. I told her without even looking, "Oh, I'm sure it's not vegan, but thanks anyway." Then someone brought it back to the breakroom for me, so I read the ingredients. It was vegan. So I ate it. Consuelo was really happy that I could eat it.
So anywho, if you're looking for some vegan treat, you can get the apple pie from Burger King. Thanks again, Consuelo.
And thank you to everyone who remembers that I'm vegan and goes out or their way to make something special for me.
And another Natalie Dee, because it's so true:
So true. And tomatoes too.
30 September 2011
I bought some shoes, and they're not vegan. In my defense, I didn't know, or didn't remember, that suede was actually leather. But, I did research it before I bought the shoes.
The real deal is that I needed some good shoes that would last a long time. I work ten hour days, and most of that is walking around on concrete floors. Plus, once winter rolls around (and it's almost here) I'll need them to hold up against nature (for cart runs and unloading the truck). And that's just work.
After doing some research, I couldn't find anything vegan that could do that.
Apparently I'm only vegan when it comes to food. I've come to terms with that.
Also, spending money on vegan shoes that are made with plastic instead of leather and will wear out faster doesn't seem like it's doing my wallet or the environment any favors. Sure, hemp is another option that's better for the earth, but in my experience, it wears out pretty quickly as well.
Here's what I bought:
I've only had them for a few days, so I'm still breaking them in.
If you remember, these are what I was wearing before:
These shoes are vegan, but after less than a year, the sole is coming off, and there are multiple holes. They were still super comfy, but I couldn't wear them at work anymore, because they just looked trashy.
I spent $100 on the Patagonia pair, and I spent $150 on the Asolo pair. Hopefully this means the Asolos will last at least a year and a half.
Right, I'm not an Ethical Vegan. I'm noticing a problem with those terms now. I'm not completely unethical; I'm just more of an Ecovegan or Dietary Vegan. I don't think those things can always overlap. If I can buy a pair of leather hiking boots that last five years or more, I'd rather do that than buy shoes made with synthetic materials and replace them every year or less.
If you know of any vegan shoes that will hold up to 50+ hours per week of walking on concrete floors, and Minnesota winters, I'd love to give them a try.
Cashew Cream Cheese
17 September 2011
I've been meaning to post this one for a while. At one point I thought I had already, and when I tried to create a link to it, it wasn't there. But I can't let this go on any longer. This cream cheese recipe, made with cashews, is that good.
First of all, I got the recipe from MissionLocal. It comes with a full recipe for some tasty bruschetta, which is really good, but it's the cream cheese I want to emphasis here.
Here's the recipe as it appears in MissionLocal:
2 cups raw cashews
juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
¼ cup cold water (more as needed)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 serrano chilies
You're supposed to soak the cashews in water for four hours, then drain them. I don't do this, because I don't plan ahead. Also I have a Vitamix, so it's going to tear those nuts up either way. I just add a little extra water to make up for the water that would have made its way into the pores of the cashews.
My "heaping tablespoon" of nutritional yeast ends up being two tablespoons.
The first time I made this, I didn't have any fresh serrano peppers, so I used cayenne powder. I've since used serranos, and I like the cayenne powder better. As far as an amount goes, it just depends on how hot you want it.
Now you're supposed to let it chill for at least four hours. Again, I don't plan ahead. I eat it straight away, and it's delicious.
I've used this cream cheese with the bruschetta recipe that MissionLocal provides. But I've also made this:
I'm having trouble getting the pictures off my camera, so I'll have to draw you a verbal image. You've had these sorts of things before. They're appetizers. You use tortillas, spread cream cheese and veggies (I could see people using salmon) out onto it. Then you roll it up, making sure the cream cheese will hold the end together like glue. Now, you cut it into bite size pieces so you can see all the goodie inside. Hold on, it's working now:
That's gazpacho in the bowl.
This is what I did. I used the new tortillas that we have at Trader Joe's. If you're on the west coast, these might not be new to you, but here in Minnesota, we just got them.
So I used these tortillas, which are a little spicy, with the spicy cream cheese and I also added arugula, carrots sliced as small as I could manage and olive tapenade that Timi had made for me. Thanks Timi.
Of course there are many, many things you can do with this. I'd like to try leaving the cayenne out to see how good it is as a straight cream cheese. Then I could potentially use that in my tiramisu recipe instead of Tofutti. I try to avoid soy as much as possible, and Trader Joe's doesn't sell Tofutti anymore, so I'd have to pay more for it.
11 September 2011
I've said this before, but I have a lot of new readers now who may not be taking the time to read through the archives (I don't blame you): one of the main reasons I became vegetarian over ten years ago was for the environment.
Here's a hefty, somewhat unrelated sidenote: Ten years ago I was working at Copeland's Sports (now out of business) dating a girl named Alicia (that didn't last long). Alicia was vegan, and when I decided to go vegetarian, a lot of people thought it was because of her. Sure, she probably made it easier. She may have been a catalyst, but I didn't do it to impress her, as evidenced by my ten year chip. On this day, ten years ago, Alicia and I got off work early because the store, the whole shopping mall, the whole country, closed down. Curtis, a guy who worked at Copeland's and as ground crew at PDX, was still working at PDX, but there was nothing to do. The airport was quiet. Alicia and I drove around looking for a coffeeshop that was open. None were. We finally went back to her place and watched the news.
When I went vegetarian, it was because I had learned: that cattle farms were polluting our water; that farmed, genetically engineered salmon were getting loose, growing three times larger and destroying the ecosystem; that one acre of vegetables produced as much food as four acres of meat.
That's why I went vegetarian, and it was a driving force in my going vegan as well. Which is why I have no qualms about jumping slightly off subject here to tell you about a lawsuit against Chicobag.
Chicobag is a company that makes reusable shopping bags. They will also take back any of your damaged bags (not just Chicobag brand), fix them and donate them to low income families so they can use reusable bags.
So why are they being sued? Because they are "irreparably harming" the plastic business. Chicobag promotes reusing bags and discourages using plastic bags that will end up caught in trees, in landfills or in the ocean.
Chicobag has a better product, and it's hurting the plastic companies. I believe this is capitalism working positively.
Did radio sue television?
Did Blockbuster sue Netflix?
Did Borders sue Amazon?
Is the Postal Service suing UPS and FedEx?
I don't believe the three plastic companies suing Chicobag have a case. I do believe it's going to cost Chicobag money to fight this ridiculous claim.
10 September 2011
I think I mentioned back in winter that when summer rolled in I would post a recipe for the best potato salad ever. And then I forgot until yesterday. I forgot to make it myself. I went through the entire summer (yes, summer is almost over) and didn't make this potato salad. Well, I finally made it yesterday.
I got the original recipe from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. It's written by Nava Atlas, who is a nice woman and told me I could repost some of her recipes. She has a website, VegKitchen.com, which is completely vegan. This book is vegetarian, but most recipes suggest alternatives if you want to veganize it.
For example, this recipe, which is on page 72 if you're following along, calls for feta. I used to make it with feta. I've been making this recipe for a while now, and the feta has always been the only thing that wasn't vegan, because I've always used Veganaise instead of mayonnaise. The recipe calls for soy mayonnaise.
Anywho, here it is:
5 medium-large Red-Skinned or Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/2 c Soy Mayonnaise
2 t Yellow Mustard
1 Celery Stalk
1 c Green Peas, Frozen
Salt & Pepper
1/2 Medium Red Bell Pepper
1 to 2 Scallions
Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Now that I've written all that out, it occurs to me that I make it very differently now. But I wouldn't have known where to start without Nava's help.
First the directions, then my altered recipe. The trick is to cut everything as small as you possibly can. The potatoes cook very quickly when they're really small. Then I throw it in the freezer while I prepare the rest, which is all raw. The smaller you cut each item, the more variety you'll have in each bite.
So here's what I do normally...I don't measure anymore:
10 Potatoes, red or Yukon
1 of each Bell Pepper: Red, Orange & Yellow
1 Celery Stalk
1 Red Onion
Sunflower Seeds, raw or toasted
Salt & Pepper
I guess that's it. If you need measurements, go by Nava's original recipe.
This potato salad is super colorful, and super delicious.
Yesterday, I made it a little differently, and it was still delicious.
I added some cooked beets, cutting them as small as I could.
And I added raw broccoli, also cut super small.
I omitted the celery...because I forgot.
I threw some miniature romaine leaves around it for prettiness. The beets turned the whole salad a little pink, which is fine. Normally the potatoes are whiter, which makes the green, yellow, orange, red and purple stand out more. But we had beets we needed to use.
Nava's recipe is called "Expandable Potato Salad," because you can add whatever you want to make it bigger and feed more people. So really, even with my alterations, I'm still following the recipe. Thanks Nava.
Eight Months; Gazpacho
2 September 2011
First of all, WOW, we're eight months into our vegan year. Technically, we started in November, so we've been vegan for ten months. It's amazing to me that it's become so easy. People think it's so hard, especially when you have to keep saying, "I can't eat that."
The other day I was at Kim's house and her mom kept trying to offer me food. Kim kept saying, "He can't eat that," because it had butter, or cheese...or fish.
And whenever we get a new product in at Trader Joe's we open it up and put it in the breakroom. Then everyone asks everyone else if they've tried it yet. My answer is often, "No, it's not vegan."
People who aren't vegan, who haven't taken the time to make the transition and feel the benefits (and practiced saying no thank you to food), really don't know how easy it becomes. I really don't have any trouble finding things to eat, and I don't have any trouble turning down food that isn't vegan. People usually feel bad when I tell them I can't eat the food they're offering me because it isn't vegan. But it really doesn't bother me.
Maybe it's because I'm doing this by choice. If I were forced into this because I couldn't tolerate lactose, then I might be unhappy about it. Like in high school when we were forced to read certain books, I never wanted to. But after high school, I started reading all the classics on my own and I loved them.
I recently read an article that quoted Gina Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, saying that a vegan diet is wonderful if people can follow it. "But it's so limited in variety and taste that people get sick of it, and they don't stick to it." Montgomery Advertiser
Ha! Anyone who thinks that has never checked out Indian, Thai, Moroccan or Afghani cuisine. The spices in those foods are not to be trifled with. Not every dish in those cuisines is vegan, but enough of them are. And if bland and boring were things people didn't like in food, how could McDonald's boast "Over 99 Billion Served."
Here's a flavorful meal we ate last night. Sunny wasn't feeling well, so she wanted sick food. But at ninety-five degrees, it wasn't soup weather. Not hot soup anyway. So I made gazpacho. I've lived in Spain, so I like to pronounce the Z as a th sound. But I also don't like to sound like a snob, so I only pronounce it that way in my head.
I got the recipe from the cookbook that came with my Vitamix, but I altered it:
3 c Tomato Juice
⅓ c Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tomatoes, quartered
1 Cucumber, cut into chunks
1 Small Onion, quartered
1 Green Bell Pepper, quartered
2 Garlic Cloves, pressed
Red Pepper Flakes
Throw it all in the Vitamix and turn it up to five for about 45 seconds. Done.
You should be able to make this with a regular blender, too. You want it to be a little chunky.
It was delicious, and it cleared Sunny's sinuses.
31 August 2011
I got some hand-me-down eggplant a couple days ago. I guess they needed a good home, so I took care of it. Here they are hanging out on my plate:
The is that Nancy brought them to work for Damon, but Damon already had too much food at home to eat, so he gave them to me with the stipulation that I make something for my wife. Here's what I made:
The rice is brown jasmine and wild rice. Even though the wild rice is meant to cook longer, I cooked it together and it seemed fine.
The green beans and mushrooms I sautéed with olive oil and then added balsamic vinegar once it was pretty well cooked.
The tomato came from the Midtown Market, which is a place with local produce that we can walk to from our apartment. We've been going there just about every day, and the tomatoes are local and delicious. I just sliced and salted them.
As for the eggplant, I sliced them, put them on an olive oiled pan and brushed them with balsamic vinegar. I stuck them under the broiler until they started to brown, then I flipped them and turned the oven on to 400. I pulled them out before the oven at finished preheating.
It was pretty dang yummy. This is all that was left:
28 August 2011
A few things happened today:
1. We ate at Modern Times Cafe, and I think they put real sour cream on our breakfast burritos. We had asked for them to be made vegan, which is an option on the menu. When the waitress brought them out (a different waitress than the one who took our order) she told us there was chipotle sour cream on top, and she seemed to tell us as if she were asking if it were ok. We thought she was just warning us that it might be hot, and we thought when she said sour cream, she really meant "sour cream." As in not made from milk. When we walked away with stomach aches, we figured she was actually telling us it wasn't vegan.
2. Today while I was helping customers, I saw a woman (Hi
KristinChristine; tell me if that's not how you spell your name) looking at the frozen fake meat. She would pick one up, look at the back and then put it back down. Having played that game myself, I figured she was looking for the vegan ones. So I helped her with some vegan ideas. She's been vegan for about a week now. I hope this site can help you out, KristinChristine. Here's one of my favorite quinoa recipes.
3. I checked out the stats for this site and realized that a lot of people are reading it, even though I've had a hard time updating it since going fulltime at Trader Joe's. Thanks. Some days there are more people reading this blog than going to 5x5's website, and we pay to advertise for 5x5. So again, thank you.
4. Nick asked me today what inspired me to go vegan. I told him it was because I wanted to maintain a blog. I'd tried blogging three times before and always stopped after two or three posts, but I figured I have to eat every day, so even if I don't have anything super exciting to say, I can just post what I ate. The idea of writing a blog was probably the tipping point for going vegan. And I completely forgot until just now that Nick's wife is going vegan. Hi, Ashley. I know she's going a thirty day challenge, so I'm not sure if she plans to stick with it beyond that.
5. People ask me a lot when my year is up, and if I'll stay vegan after the year, and if I'll eat a steak right away. The answers are January 1st, sort of and no. I don't intend to ever eat meat again (I've been a vegetarian for ten years). As for staying vegan: Sunny and I just talked about this yesterday. At this point, we've decided that we'll stay vegan at home. But if we go out we might splurge. We don't intend to get regular cheese pizza, or add cheddar cheese to things that we've done fine eating without cheese, but we won't say, "I can't eat that because it has whey as the last ingredient." We do that now. But ask me again in four months.
So I'm inspired. I'm going to do my darnedest to post more frequently. I have new recipe ideas, more books to share with you, and fun and crazy stories. Stay tuned.
Scrambled Tofu, Ranchero Style
14 August 2011
The other day I looked up a recipe for ranchero sauce, and although I didn't have time to make the sauce, I put the same ingredients into the tofu scramble itself. Here's how it goes:
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 an Onion, chopped
1 Serrano Pepper, diced
1 Tomato, chopped
Saute the pepper and onion, then add the tomato and saute a bit longer.
1 14oz Package of Extra Firm Tofu
2 T Yeast Flakes
1 t Garlic Powder
1 t Oregano
Salt & Pepper
Mix this together in a bowl, then add it to the pan and saute a bit longer.
Once it's done, I add some fresh cilantro on top, avocado slices on the side and lime juice all over.
I'm guessing on the measurements. I've made this twice now, and I didn't measure either time.
30 July 2011
We went over to David & Ceri's again for dinner last night. Ceri admitted that she used my blog as a reference for what to feed us. What she fed us, by the way, was delicious.
She made Sweet Corn Arepas. She said it was inspired by French Meadow Bakery. Sunny and I have mostly eaten there for breakfast, so we hadn't tried this before. Delicious though. She also made a balsamic reduction to drizzle over it. And a lot of what we ate came from their garden. Tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, beets. There was a lot of good food.
Here's what I made: Peach Cobbler. I had found a pretty basic recipe online, to which I'd planned to add raspberries and substitute Earth Balance for butter. After riding our bikes to pick up the ingredients, we were hot and decided against turning the oven on, so I found a different recipe. A Raw Peach Cobbler.
I got the recipe from The Sunny Raw Kitchen, which is where I got the picture, because I forgot to take one of my own. And, I altered a little, so check out the original recipe here, if you'd like. Here's what I did:
5 Big Peaches (peeled)
3 Dashes of Cinnamon
3 T Coconut Oil
2 Squirts of Agave
1 Dash of Salt
I threw all this in the Vitamix and blended it a little too long. I'd prefer it to still have some chunkiness to it.
I actually have a measuring spoon for a dash. So I literally measured out three dashes of cinnamon (as the recipe called for) and one dash of salt.
I reduced the agave (by a lot) because we were already planning on drinking sweet wine with the dish and it's been my experience that raw desserts can be way too sweet.
Now I threw this soup into a 9x12 pan, then:
4 Big Peaches (peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces)
1/2 Pint of Raspberries
I threw this in next, with the raspberries on top so you could see the color. And then:
2 c Pecans
1 c Dates
3 T Coconut Oil
2 Dashes Cinnamon
1 t Vanilla
I used a combination of the Vitamix and a knife on a cutting board to create a crumbly topping. Too much Vitamix would have created a paste; all knife and cutting board would have been a lot of work.
Then I mixed it together in a bowl and sprinkled it on top.
My deviation here is that I added an extra cup of pecans (it had called for one) and I don't regret adding more.
And now for the real deviation. The recipe says to dehydrate for two to three hours. I don't have a dehydrator, so I did end up using the oven, but on the lowest temp possible (170) and when it beeped to tell me it was up to 170, I turned it off. On and off like that about five times over the course of an hour and a half.
It was good. Delicious, if I do say so myself. But here's what I would definitely do differently next time:
Either don't blend that original concoction as long, or use fewer peaches in the blender and more cut into pieces and added to the pan. Savvy? It was just too liquidy, and that proved for a difficult bike ride over to David & Ceri's. It's only a mile away, but I had to ride with one hand while I held the pan in a bag out to my side trying to keep it perfectly level.
Human Based Gelatin
18 July 2011
I don't think everyone knows that gelatin is a product of animals. Most vegetarians and, certainly vegans, know this, but as for the average person... For example, all those Midwesterners who make Jell-O "salads." My mom likes to make orange Jell-O with shredded carrots. But then, those same Midwesterners will often sit down to a steak dinner, so they probably aren't too concerned about gelatin.
Gelatin is derived from skin and bones. So now you know, if you didn't already. It comes from collagen. I believe that's the same stuff they shoot into people's faces to keep them looking... hmmm... I don't think young is the right word. Stretchy. Or stretched.
There are alternatives to gelatin. Fruit pectin also has a gelling property. It's what jams and jellies are made with. But it doesn't solidify the way gelatin does.
Seaweed works well. Carrageenan is in a lot of things now. It's in just about every non-dairy milk you can find. It just thickens it; it doesn't turn it into a solid. At Trader Joe's, we sell gelatin cups made with carrageenan, which means that they're vegan. We also sell heavy whipping cream with carrageenan added. I had one person tell me that's why she doesn't buy it at Trader Joe's. Personally, I don't see the issue. I eat carrageenan; I don't eat cream.
Agar agar is another seaweed that is used to make gelatin type things. Remember Jigglers? That recipe on the back of the Jell-O box that requires you to use four boxes of Jell-O? I've seen similar things made with agar agar.
But here's what those mad scientists are cooking up these days: human gelatin. Yep, made from the collagen in people. Apparently it's more accurate. Sometimes with gelatin from animals you don't know what you're going to end up with.
The article where I read about this said this was gray area. That it's neither plant nor animal, so maybe vegans would be alright with it. I don't know where they went to high school (or was it grade school?) but humans fall under the animal kingdom. We're animals. So human based gelatin is not vegan. And, in fact, it's cannibalistic.
Here's something else to consider though: the human-based gelatin is meant to be used, not in Jell-O molds, but in capsules. For pills. Now that we're talking about medicine, the rules change. I would take a blood transfusion (from another human) without any moral issues. But would I eat part of a human for medical reasons? What if calcium tablets were made from human bones?
I think that's where it gets a little gray.
The same article suggested that using human-based gelatin was a good way to avoid Mad Cow disease (because we wouldn't be using bovine-based gelatin), but didn't Mad Cow disease come about because farmers were feeding their cows other cows? And somehow us ingesting other humans sounds like a good idea?
Maybe it's fine. I don't know. But we do already have plant-based capsules, so why reinvent the wheel?
Trader Joe's Banquet
10 July 2011
Now that I'm a fancy pants fulltimer at Trader Joe's I get invited to fancy, awkward banquets where we get all dressed up. It's fun. No really. A little uncomfortable at first, but then fun.
When I RSVPed online, I had the option of beef or chicken. I think there may have also been a fish option, and then vegetarian. I emailed to ask what I should do about a vegan option. I was told just to enter my request into the special instructions section and that the chef would make something for us. So I had no idea what we'd be eating.
Before the meal, there are appetizers and drinks in the foyer. Three types of appetizers: something with tuna, something with roast beef and then a fig and balsamic vinegar appetizer with a bit of gorgonzola cheese. I went ahead and tried that one, placing the cheese in my napkin. It wasn't good. Maybe the gorgonzola would have brought it all together and made it the perfect treat, but I doubt it.
So after we sit down it's salad time. The salad consisted of tomato and baby lettuce with some vinaigrette and a huge chunk of blue cheese. Ours, of course, was minus the blue cheese. At this point we're being served, and we have a little card with the word "vegetarian" printed and, below that, handwritten: "vegan; no animal products." And the regional director was kind enough to walk around and make sure the vegans were getting their special food. So that was nice.
The salad was good too.
Next comes the main course. Most of the people at our table had red cards that read "Beef." I don't believe anyone had requested chicken or fish. There was one vegetarian; she got eggplant parmesan. As for us vegans, we got Pad Thai. Now, I'm not complaining, because the whole night was free, and there was good wine to drink, and I really did have a good time...but that Pad Thai was on par with the Pad Thai from Bryant-Lake Bowl. The noodles were overcooked, and it just wasn't very good.
Dessert consisted of plates of small cookies and pastries. Nothing special had been prepared for the vegans, and I assumed that all the pastries had egg or dairy in them.
No worries though, I just drank more wine.
Really, it was a fun night. I'm not into the club scene because there are always skeezballs there that you have to watch out for. This was nice because although we didn't know everyone there, there were probably only two degrees of separation. And our bosses and their boss were all there. So the dancing was just fun; no creepers allowed. It was like having a fancy dinner party with friends, because that's the way it is at Trader Joe's. We're coworkers, but we're also friends. Which is good, because we spend so much time at work.
That's the story of my first super fancy dinner party as a vegan. In short, the food wasn't great, but there was enough of it. I had feared the worst: that they would give us just a salad and we would have to leave early to get more food elsewhere.
Thanks, Trader Joe's.
Le Tour de France
2 July 2011
The Tour de France started today. So far all I know is that Lance Armstrong won't be winning it this year. Ok, I know something else too. This is the first year that there will be a vegan racer.
Maybe that's a weird way to put it. David Zabriskie has competed in the race five times, and he finished three of those races. However, this will be his first time racing on a vegan diet.
Apparently he adopted the diet due to a sensitivity to certain foods. Here's the catch though. He isn't being one hundred percent true to the diet/lifestyle. He will, twice a week, eat a small portion of salmon to help his body absorb iron.
I hadn't heard that salmon can help with the absorption of iron. I know vitamin C is necessary.
So there are a lot of people out there who may say, "He's not really vegan." I'm probably one of them. Hardcore vegans (especially those who adopted veganism for animal equality) might shun him. And those omnivores who scoff at the vegan lifestyle will use this as evidence that you just can't maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle. That's why David Zabriskie eats fish.
As for me: I'm not that invested in this thing. If he wants to call himself a vegan, that's fine by me. I don't own the word. But some day, maybe there will be a vegan who races in the Tour de France and doesn't even consume fish oil. Then, the headlines will read, "Tour de France To Feature First Vegan Cyclist" just as they're saying now.
As I write this, Dave is in 183rd place. Go Dave!
I wonder how the French would feel about a vegan winning the race...
25 June 2011
It's been nearly two weeks since my last post. I know. In my defense, last weekend I finished putting together the summer issue of 5x5. It's pretty fantastic. Here's the cover, which has an image by Sarah Walko:
And here's what one reader said about it:
Nice! I've received, and enjoyed, the new issue. Personal favorites: those by Nelson, Dean, Williams, and Cross. The issue opened with power and closed with magic.
Yep. We're pretty proud of it.
But now back to vegan stuff. Like artichokes.
I'd never prepared artickokes before last night, so I had to go online to figure out how to do it. I found a page that explained it here. Very helpful.
I didn't cut the tips of each leaf off like they suggested, and when I cut the top off, I felt like I could have been using a saw rather than a kitchen knife.
I did add the juice from one lemon, two or three crushed garlic cloves and a bay leaf to the water when I steamed it.
Now for the sauce. It's pretty common to use butter, or garlic butter, or something mixed with butter or mayonaisse. Obviously I didn't do that.
I had thought about using Earth Balance mixed with garlic and I don't know what. But the other day at work, a woman came through my line and told me how she prepared it. "Many years ago," when she was an au pair in France, a thirteen-year-old girl told her that she was ruining it. Artichokes don't like butter. She makes a sauce with dijon mustard and cabernet sauvignon.
I tried to find a recipe for this online so I could get the proportions right. I couldn't find one. So I made my own. I didn't measure, but I put equal parts mustard and wine (about two tablespoons each, I think) the juice of one lemon and two crushed garlic cloves. Then I added a little more wine, because all I could taste was the mustard. We also added some salt as we ate it.
The sauce was good. The artichoke...not so much. I think maybe it wasn't the freshest. I want to try this again when I buy some artichokes from the farmers' market. I'll let you know how it goes.
12 June 2011
I stopped by Barnes & Noble the other day to do a little reading while I was waiting for Sebastian to get shaved—he gets too hot during the summer—and, wouldn't you know it, I found myself sitting right in front of the vegan cookbook section. I've been craving some cookies lately, so I bought The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur.
Click on the cover to buy it at Powell's
There are all sorts of things in this book, from "Cookies Inspired by Drinks" to "No Bakes" to "Cookies You Would Find at a Tea Party."
My favorite type of cookie is the old standby, chocolate chip, and there are five different chocolate chip recipes in here. There's also a recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. You know, like those big cookies you see in the mall.
So far I've only made one of the recipes: Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1/2 c Canola Oil
1 c Sugar
1/2 t Blackstrap Molasses
3 T Light Agave
1 t Vanilla
1/3 c Applesauce
2 1/4 c Flour
1 t Baking Soda
1/8 t Salt
2/3 c Chocolate Chips
Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then add the dry to the wet slowly while mixing. Then add the chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
They were good, but they had that weird aftertaste that I remember carob cookies having when I ate them as a child. I thought it came from the carob, but maybe it was the molasses.
I also used brown sugar, since I didn't have any regular sugar, which means it had a little extra molasses in it.
I'm excited about trying more recipes, like Root Beer Float Cookies and Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. There are recipes for traditional cookies that have been veganized, and there are new creative cookies.
Some of my coworkers have been doing a Biggest Loser contest for a few weeks now, which prompts others to bring in cookies and cupcakes and such. Or course, those things always have eggs or dairy, so this is my chance to bring in some vegan sweets and show everyone that they can be good too. Sorry Biggest Loser folks.
Protein in Plants
4 June 2011
Hey everyone. It's been a while since I posted, I know. My excuse is that I'm still visually impaired and I'm trying to avoid computer screens as much as possible. I have a doctor's appointment next Friday. Maybe I'll figure out what's going on with my eyes.
In the meantime, let's talk about protein. Allison asked me the other day if I knew of vegetables that were high in protein. She doesn't want to know about grains and legumes; she only wants to know which vegetables are good sources of protein. I didn't know the answer, so I looked it up.
First of all, let's talk about how much protein we need to consume on a daily basis. I'm getting this information from Becoming Vegan. We need 0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. I weigh about 145 pounds, so I need about 60 grams of protein each day.
Here's the formula:
Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2
This if your weight in kilograms
Multiply that by 0.9
This is how many grams of protein you need daily
Here are some vegetables with high amounts of protein:
Half a cup of cooked Corn has 2.7 grams.
One cup of raw Bean Sprouts has 3.2 grams.
A medium baked Potato has 2.8 grams.
One cup of raw Broccoli has 2.6 grams.
That's not a lot. I'd have to eat a lot to get my 60 grams in. Twenty baked potatoes. I don't think I can do that.
To compare, here are some other values:
One cup of cooked Soybeans has 28.6 grams.
One cup of cooked Kidney Beans has 15.4 grams.
Quarter cup of Almonds has 7.4 grams.
Quarter cup of Sunflower Seeds has 8 grams.
And now, to compare it to meat:
One medium Egg has 5.5 grams.
Two ounces of ground Beef has 10.6 grams.
Two ounces of roasted Chicken has 15.3 grams.
I thought meat would have more protein, but a serving of kidney beans has more protein content than beef or chicken, and no cholesterol.
But back to those vegetables. First of all, you'll notice that I put corn into the vegetable category. It's actually a grain, but we eat it like a vegetable.
Allison was talking about going on a cleansing diet or something like that. So it would only be for a week, if I remember correctly. I suppose you could get a sufficient amount of protein from vegetables for one week. In the long term though, you need your grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. That's where the real money is.
25 May 2011
I haven't had a migraine since I don't know when. When I was in middle school and high school I used to get them frequently. Debilitating. It starts with impaired vision. Like blurry, shiny, sparkling lights. Next comes the headache. So painful I don't want to move. Next comes a stomach ache that persists for about a day and causes vomiting. Then I'm dehydrated and tired for about a day or two. Usually the impaired vision is gone before the stomach ache starts.
Sounds fun, right? If you get migraines, you know what I'm talking about. I asked a doctor about it once, and he told me I was lucky to get the impaired vision because it was a sign that a migraine was coming. Not everyone gets this information of things to come.
But I haven't had one in a really long time. The last time I can remember getting one is over five years ago when I was working landscaping with Jonathan. We went to a job and I had to sit in the truck for about half an hour while I waited for the impaired vision to go away. Sometimes if I close my eyes during the impaired vision part it won't continue to the other stages. It didn't continue that time.
In high school I would sometimes drink a Coca-Cola to make it go away. I'm not sure why that worked, but it did. No other soft drink would do it, so I don't think it was the caffeine. Unless maybe Coca-Cola has a different type of caffeine. The best remedy is to take a nap. Or at least to lie down and close my eyes, since sometimes I'm not tired when it starts.
Yesterday morning, I got the impaired vision. Sometimes I can look beyond the blurry, flashing lights and even forget that they're there. It works best in a dark room. So for the last twenty-four hours I've been seeing the lights, and then ignoring them, and then seeing them again. I took a nap yesterday, which didn't help. And I slept for nine hours last night, but the lights are still there. I don't remember them ever lasting more than a day.
So of course, I'm wondering if my vegan diet has left me deficient in some vitamin or mineral that would have prevented this. I'm thinking Vitamin B12, because I know that has to do with brain stuff and the nervous system. I also know that I haven't been doing a good job of taking the pill as frequently as I should.
So I took a pill today. The pill I take contains eight times the B12 RDA, so I've been taking it every two or three days. I think I'll start taking it every day for a little while and see what that does for me.
Does anyone else have any ideas? How do you deal with migraines? Do you think it's the B12?
I think I'll go back to bed. If you see any typos in the post, remember that I can't see very well right now. I probably shouldn't be looking at a computer screen at all.
Modern Times Cafe
20 May 2011
Jonathan and Debora have been visiting this week, so I haven't had much time to blog. We went camping/canoeing on the St Croix for a couple of days. But this morning we went to a new restaurant called Modern Times Cafe.
This place is great because it has a wide variety of choices for vegans, vegetarians and carnivores. The menu is available online, so you can check that out.
I had the Tuscan Hippy, which is a tofu scramble with ranchero sauce, black beans, cabbage salsa and corn tortillas. It was delicious. My problem is that I always seem to get hungry again real soon after eating tofu. Sunny says I get hungry again real soon after eating anything.
Sunny had the Southside Hash, which is available in vegan, vegetarian or carnivore. It has tofu, t.v.p. chorizo, hash browns, jalapeños, onion, and green pepper. Served with toast.
FYI: t.v.p. is textured vegetable protein. It has soy and other things in it.
This breakfast was full of soy, which is something I try to limit to one meal per week. I haven't done extensive research on the negative aspects of soy, but it's something I hear people talk about a lot. Basically, soy protein isn't the greatest kind of protein. My two favorite types of protein are hemp and quinoa.
Their menu is clearly marked with C, Veg or V for Carnivore, vegetarian and Vegan. Which is great, because then we don't have to worry about it. Unlike True Thai where Sunny accidentally ordered something with egg in it, and I'm pretty sure what I ordered had fish sauce. This created a dilemma, because strict vegans probably would have sent it back. We ate them.
Modern Times Cafe just opened last month. It was full this morning (but a booth opened up right away), so I imagine they're even busier on the weekend. There's enough room on the sidewalk that I imagine they'll have outdoor seating real soon to accommodate all their customers.
The coffee is French pressed and delicious. I didn't add cream or sugar, so I'm not sure if they have a vegan creamer. I imagine they do.
There was only one waitress working, but she was pretty amazing and able to help everyone in a timely fashion.
And the best part is that we can walk there.
10 May 2011
Maybe I can post more than once a week. Just not every day anymore.
So it turns out that black tattoo ink is generally made with bone char. This is the same stuff they use to make sugar really, really white. Seems strange that something black can make things white, but I guess none of the black gets in there. It just absorbs particles like a magnet.
When I was a kid, I liked to play with food coloring. I remember turning an entire jug of milk pink or blue. And I tried a few times to mix the four colors from the box in such a way as to get black. I never succeeded, although my Aunt Linda did. She made a cake that was a car with black wheels, I think. Rest in peace, Aunt Linda.
Then one day, it occurred to me that all those colors come from somewhere. Sure, I can just open the bottle for red or green, but that stuff comes from different sources. Flowers, blood, the dried, crushed bodies of pregnant female scale insects. Yep, that's where the dye is derived for the Italian liquor, Campari, according to Chemical & Engineering News. And, according to Snopes, they use that same stuff in fruit juices, gelatins, candies, and shampoos.
When I mentioned blood, I was thinking more of paint. I'm not sure that blood is used in any food colorings, although I don't see why it wouldn't be. People do eat blood all the time. The color red makes people hungry. And when people buy raw meat, they want it to be red, right? Meat that has turned brown, even if it's still good to eat, doesn't look very appealing. So, guess what. No, they don't use dye to color it red; they use carbon monoxide. Yep, the stuff that comes out of your car's exhaust pipe. Carbon monoxide has a way of making sure the red meat stays red for a long, long time.
And salmon? You know how those fish are super pink, right? Well, not farm raised salmon. Wild salmon are pink because they eat krill in the ocean, but farm raised salmon eat...something else, and it makes their flesh gray, not unlike most fish. So to make it pink, SalmoFan is added to their food pellets. SalmoFan is a chemical produced by Hoffman-La Roche, a huge pharmaceutical company. I guess feeding the fish something that will turn their flesh pink doesn't sound as bad as injecting the flesh with colorant after the fact.
Back to tattoos, the topic that got me on this in the first place. While there is vegan tattoo ink out there, the most common stuff isn't vegan. So, unless you search for it, you can assume it's not vegan. This is something a vegan should really check into before getting a tattoo that says "vegan." Like this lady who got the word tattooed on the inside of her lip.
One of the comments at the bottom mentions that tattoos in the mouth eventually fade, so she won't have to live with it her whole life. This doesn't sound reassuring, because if it's fading then it's slowly breaking down. And if it's breaking down, where else can it be going but down her throat. So every single day for the rest of her life she'll be ingesting a little bit of bone char.
Alternative Baking Company
8 May 2011
Right, so it's been a week since I last posted, which has felt pretty weird for me, but I'm working so much now that I haven't really had time. I'm still vegan though! I'm still trying new recipes and such; I'm just not finding the time to write about them.
Going forward, I'm planning to post once a week. Just a heads up.
Here's a new product I ate yesterday:
It's from the Alternative Baking Company. I'd seen their cookies before, but I always just assumed they weren't vegan, because it doesn't have a huge vegan sign on the front. But, when I looked at the ingredients, the first word was vegan.
It was really good too. It reminded me of the cookies I used to get from the cafeteria in middle school. Hold on. I know what you're thinking. Cafeteria food? But wait. I loved those cookies. It's probably the one thing I liked about middle school.
The thing is that the cookies from the cafeteria were always soft and delicious. It seemed like they pulled them out of the oven just before they were done so they were actually somewhere between cookie and cookie dough, but in a good way. In a delicious way. Even when I was in eighth grade, I remember thinking, I'm really going to miss these cookies.
Well, now I have the Alternative Baking Company, and they're even vegan.
How to Make Larabars
1 May 2011
This is sort of my second attempt at making homemade Larabars. The thing is that I eat a lot of them, so it makes sense for me to start buying raw ingredients and making them myself.
The first time I sort of made them I was actually following a recipe from Thrive. As I was making it I thought, this is going to be like a Larabar. And it was. It was like a Larabar, but quite different. It had more ingredients. Nutritional ingredients, sure, but it also made it taste quite a bit different.
If you're familiar with Larabars, then you probably know that they have very few ingredients. My favorite flavor is simply cashews and dates. I'd say they have four ingredients on average.
So here's how I made it:
1 c Cashews, raw
1 c Medjool Dates
1 c Coconut, shredded
First I put the cashews in my Vitamix and ground it up so most of it was floury, but there were still some bits. Then I poured that into my KitchenAid mixer.
Again with the shredded coconut. Vitamix then KitchenAid. I don't think the Vitamix was necessary for the coconut because it was already pretty fine.
Then I removed the pits from the dates and threw them straight into the KitchenAid.
Set it to "mix" until it was a nice dough.
Spread that out on parchment paper and I simply used the paper to smoosh it into a square that was pretty thick. You know, the thickness of a Larabar. Half an inch, I guess.
Then I cut it into bars and that's that.
Now the hardest part is going to be packaging it so that I can bring it to work. I guess I'll probably just use cling wrap. I'll just have to be a little more careful not to let it get squished in my bag.
Next I'll experiment with a few different ingredients, but dates are always a base, and most will also have cashews. I suppose I could use almonds instead for some of them.
If you don't have a Vitamix, you may want to buy cashew flour and mix it with small pieces of cashews.
Also, you can use your hands to mix all the ingredients together rather than using a mixer.