Review & GIVEAWAY! of The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk & Cookbook

This giveaway has closed. Congratulations to Amanda Thomas!

I’m elated, dear readers, to host Farmers Market Vegan’s second giveaway—an exciting one, indeed. One lucky reader will receive a copy of The Vegg Cookbook: Egg-Free Cooking Uncaged, as well as two packets of The Vegg Vegan Egg Yolk. Click the above link or the link at the bottom of the post to enter to win these top-notch prizes. The giveaway will close at 12:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 21, and I will announce the winners later than day.

Photo credit to Vegan Cuts.

Photo credit to Vegan Cuts.

I first encountered The Vegg this past summer while interning with the animal advocacy non-profit Compassion Over Killing, who provided much support and promotion for the 2012 launch of the vegan egg yolk. (The below opinions of The Vegg, however, are completely my own and not in any way influenced by my work with COK). While I sold many a packet of The Vegg to enthusiastic patrons of the events at which COK tabled this summer, I didn’t have the chance to experiment with it myself until Vegg developer Rocky Shepheard contacted me about reviewing his cookbook on the ol’ blog. Needless to say, I responded with an earnest “yes,” and here I am today, writing this post, regaling the wonders of The Vegg, right now at this very moment…you get the picture.

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Longtime vegan and animal rights activist Rocky Shepheard began tinkering with a recipe for a vegan egg yolk in 2010 after reading an April Fool’s Day article about a commercially available vegan fried egg. Two years later, Rocky had transformed a joke into a reality and introduced The Vegg onto the market, giving the over 280 million egg-laying hens in the U.S.—most of whom spend their lives intensively confined inside barren wire cages—something to cluck about. With the appearance, texture, taste, and even smell of a chicken’s egg, The Vegg provides a cruelty-free replacement in any traditionally egg-based recipe—French toast, omelets, hollandaise, crème brulee, breaded and fried foods, you name it. While The Vegg cannot provide the functional properties of eggs in baking, it can enhance any sweet (or savory!) treat with a rich, surprisingly accurate eggy flavor. Hesitant at first to try The Vegg based upon my assumption that it contained questionable ingredients, I happily discovered that The Vegg comprises of nothing more than fortified nutritional yeast (get yer B12 here, kids!), seaweed-derived sodium alginate, and black salt (which imbues The Vegg with its characteristic eggy aroma and flavor). An egg yolk free of cholesterol, gluten, soy, GMOs, and animal suffering? Yes, please.

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Released the year following the launch of The Vegg, The Vegg Cookbook features nearly 70 vegan recipes from Rocky, Sandy Defino, and food-blogging fans of The Vegg that highlight the versatility of the vegan egg yolk. Divided into three sections—Morning Medleys, The Main Dish, and Sweet Satisfaction—the cookbook features such tantalizing recipes as The World’s Best (and Most Realistic) Vegan Fried Egg, Tangerine French Toast, Vegg Tempura, Artichoke-Tomato Quiche, Mom’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Banana Cream Meringue Pie, and more. For my foray into the world of The Vegg Cookbook, I chose to sample one recipe from each section of the book.

One important requirement for successful use of The Vegg in all recipes, however, involves blending the powdered vegan egg yolk with either water or plant-based milk (depending on your recipe) in a mini blender or food processor, since blending by hand will yield less-than-smooth results. I own a mini food processor that works quite nicely for The Vegg, though I’m sure a spice grinder would also do the trick. During the blending, you’ll begin to freak out about the eggy aroma emanating from your blending apparatus. Upon my first blending endeavor, I sprinted into the living room to fetch my father, forcing him to stick his nose into my mini food processor. He agreed as to the accuracy of the smell…though perhaps without my same level of enthusiasm.

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Photo credit to Veganoo.

I first tried out the Crème Brulee, submitted by none other than Erin Wysocarski of the fabulous vegan blog Olives for Dinner. The recipe involves combining a blended Vegg-water mixture with coconut milk, sugar (I used maple sugar), and vanilla, then simmering the mixture with agar powder to impart a gel-like consistency. While my use of maple sugar didn’t produce the satisfying crackly crust akin to crème brulees, the finished dessert otherwise proved immensely successful. Creamy, eggy, and just sweet enough with an oh-so decadent mouthfeel, the crème brulees had my parents raving for days after licking their ramekins clean.

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Venturing into the cookbook’s savory territory, I whipped up the Vietnamese Pancakes with Veggies & Herbs, courtesy of Nancy Montuori Stein of Ordinary Vegan. The thin, crepe-like pancakes contain rice flour, a blended Vegg, turmeric, and coconut milk, providing a bright yellow, satisfyingly squishy wrapper for the brightly flavored shredded veggies and herbs inside. Topped with a spicy-sweet dipping sauce, this recipe yielded a gorgeously hued dinner with a flavor-packed punch, though the egginess of The Vegg didn’t come through in the pancakes as much as I would have liked.

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My Vegg Cookbook review endeavors ended with a version of the Scrambled Tofu from Helen Rossiter of Lots of Nice Things. The original recipe seemed to me as a template of sorts, containing only a blended Vegg, tofu, and scallions sautéed together. To spice up the dish, I borrowed the seasonings from Janet’s Dillicious Tofu Scramble and added shredded brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms to the mix, serving the scramble alongside a pile of roasted potatoes. I’m uncertain if I added a touch too much turmeric or if I failed to adequately cook the blended Vegg into the dish, but something seemed off both flavor- and texture-wise in the finished dish. Probably due to my mistake, the shortcomings of the tofu scramble should in no way dissuade you from the merits of this cookbook (but should perhaps dissuade you from using a heavy hand with turmeric…).

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With half of a packet of The Vegg still left after my experiments, I’m excited to try out some more recipes from the cookbook. However, I’m even more excited for you to familiarize yourself with The Vegg and its cookbook! For your chance to do so, be sure to click on the link either below or at the top of the post and enter the giveaway by 12:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 21. Happy Vegg-ing!

***NOTE: This giveaway is open only to U.S. residents.***

This post is submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Wellness Weekend.

This giveaway has closed. Congratulations to Amanda Thomas!

Vedge Cookbook Review + Spanish Roasted Brassicas Recipe

As I mentioned in my last blog post regarding development and consumerism, I find myself feeling quite uncomfortable during the holiday season—a time of family, love, generosity, and unity that our modern Western culture has overshadowed with greed, overconsumption, material accumulation, and Black Friday casualties. These disconcerting cultural tendencies, magnified during the holidays, bolster my urge to live simply, with minimal possessions and producing minimal waste. My view of living simply, though, does not necessarily mean living without gifts—indeed, they can provide a heartwarming medium through which to foster community and relationships—but rather prompts a rethinking of gifts and gift-giving.

My discomfort with our current mainstream notion of gifts stems from the attitude surrounding them. As a child, I judged the quality of my Christmas by the number of presents I received, even having the nerve to cheekily ask my mother, “That’s it?” if I felt dissatisfied. But would I ever feel satisfied if the importance of gift-giving lied in accumulating as much as possible? Could I ever escape the power that possessions wielded over me if the absence of the latest Apple product in my Christmas haul inspired in me resentment toward my mother?

Gifts with which I can feel comfortable stem not from the desire to own the latest technological gadgets, nor from a false need to surround oneself with “stuff,” but from a genuine feeling of love and gratitude between both of the gift-givers, and between them and the earth. In the dire state of our world, we must imbue all of our actions with a consciousness of alleviating our impact on the planet, and gift-giving proves no different. In my view, loving and earth-friendly gifts include those that the recipient can put to good use, and those that generate little to no waste. For example, the bulk of my Christmas list comprised of donations to various organizations such as Our Hen House, and Kindle cookbooks, which require minimal resources to produce as opposed to print books, and which I use every day.

But literally…every day. Not an exaggeration in the least. Because I view the act of providing non-vegans with flavorful, hearty, and unique food as integral to animal activism, I constantly look to my collection of virtual cookbooks for inspiration in such endeavors. I also view my cookbooks as helpful in honing the skills necessary for my ideal career path—one that creates a livelihood out of the aforementioned activism. Thanks to my dear mother, the latest additions to this Kindle cookbook collection include Vedge by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby; Vegan Secret Supper by Merida Anderson; Dirt Candy: A Cookbook by Amanda Cohen; Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry; Betty Goes Vegan by Annie and Dan Shannon; and The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook by Jere and Emilee Gettle.

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So that the section of my brain devoted to culinary creativity would not explode from all of the tantalizing recipes within the pages of these six cookbooks, I decided to limit my kitchen experimentation first to recipes from Vedge, since it comes from the masterminds behind my favorite restaurant. Featuring 100 recipes from the Vedge menu tweaked minimally to suit the home kitchen, Vedge perfectly reflects the sophistication, beauty, and locally sourced/seasonal philosophy of the highly acclaimed Philadelphia restaurant. Organized in a manner similar to that of the restaurant menu, Vedge starts off with “Small Bites and Small Plates” such as olives, salads, and light vegetable dishes; moves on to “Soups and Stews” that span from brothy pho to creamy parsnip-chestnut bisque; includes a “Dirt List” with preparations that maximally highlight seasonal and specialty varieties of vegetables; offers heartier “Plates” that hire beans, lentils, and grains as backup singers to the superstar veggies; appeals to the baker in all of us with creative fruit-based desserts (can you say Strawberry Sorrel Bread Pudding?) and unpretentious breads; and finishes with unique cocktails.

Spiced Little Carrots with Chickpea-Sauerkraut Puree (photo from the Vedge website).

Spiced Little Carrots with Chickpea-Sauerkraut Puree (photo from the Vedge website).

Eggplant Braciole (photo from the Vedge website).

Eggplant Braciole (photo from the Vedge website).

Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion (photo from the Vedge website).

Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Dill, Avocado, Capers, and Red Onion (photo from the Vedge website).

Since Christmas, I’ve had the pleasure of making and eating four of the book’s recipes, two of which my mother and I first enjoyed at the Vedge restaurant itself. The Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce constituted the appetizer of my family’s two-course Christmas dinner, though I used a homemade silken tofu mayonnaise instead of the Vegenaise recommended for use in the recipe (many of the recipes in Vedge call for vegan mayo, and Rich and Kate recommend Vegenaise. However, I found that homemade mayo provides a quality substitute in the recipes for those of us who like to avoid prepackaged products). A dish just as tasty as that we remembered from our visit to the restaurant, the smoky, just-charred sprouts with the tangy mustard sauce created a winning combination. My mother also noted that the texture of the shaved sprouts harbored so much substance that she almost mistook them for pasta. I have a feeling that we will be making this dish often.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce

The night after Christmas, Vedge once again graced our plates with Celery Root Fritters and Remoulade (a pseudo-play on crab cakes and tartar sauce). Fostering an intense love of the knobbly, underused root, I found myself immediately taken by its double use in the recipe: once, roasted with onions, mashed, formed into patties, coated with chickpea flour and Old Bay seasoning, and pan-fried; twice, grated, blanched, and combined with vegan mayo, capers, dill, mustard, shallots and tarragon to create a tartar sauce-like spread, the taste of which you’ll never want to leave your tongue. I only wish that the recipe had specified to squeeze the excess moisture out of the grated celery root after blanching it, for the remoulade turned out a bit waterier than I would have preferred. All in all, though, a fabulous dish (the veggies you see in front of the fritters comprise a simple sauté of brussels sprouts and sunchokes, not featured in the cookbook).

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Celery Root Fritters & Remoulade; Brussels Sprout-Sunchoke Saute.

To please the ethnic food-loving palate of my best friend Maddie, whom I invited over for dinner one night, I played with Vedge’s Squash Empanadas with Green Romesco—homemade dough encasing a mash of squash roasted with coriander and cumin, accompanied by a bright yet deeply flavored sauce of roasted green peppers, garlic, cilantro, and toasted almonds. I substituted spelt flour and coconut oil for the all-purpose flour and vegan butter/shortening called for in the recipe, yielding flaky, toothsome results. However, the saltiness of the dough proved a bit much for my saltily sensitive palate, and I would probably omit the salt altogether as I usually do if I decide to recreate the dish. The other qualm I have with the recipe comes from the amount of roasting time specified. The recipe calls for roasting the squash at 400°F for 8-12 minutes and the peppers for 6-8 minutes, yet with small-diced veggies and an oven that errs on the side of too hot, the veggies required about double the time specified to adequately cook (I experienced the same problem with the celery root in the fritter recipe above). If you find yourself with the Vedge cookbook, I would recommend planning on roasting the veggies in any recipe for longer than specified, and to plan the cooking of your meals accordingly. Recipe technicalities aside, the dish proved crowd-pleasing and flavorfully stunning. I served it alongside a recipe of my own creation for Spanish Roasted Brassicas (recipe below).

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Finally, I tried my hand at another recipe with which my mother and I fell in love while dining at Vedge: Saffron Cauliflower Soup with Persillade. Between bites of the soup, my mother and I could not help but exclaim, “This tastes exactly like bouillabaisse. But there can’t be fish in it…dear goodness, I hope there’s not fish in it…”. Rest assured, the folks at Vedge had not decided to renounce their morals in a single dish, but they sure created a memorable gastronomic experience for my mother and I. The soup features simmered cauliflower crushed to a rice-like consistency surrounded by a tomatoey broth spiked with white wine and Old Bay seasoning, complimented by a gremolata-like topping of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. My version of the recipe increased the amount of rice called for and added chickpeas for substance, substituted brown jasmine rice for white, and (sadly) omitted the veryveryveryveryvvery pricey saffron. While I quite enjoyed the texture of the soup, I found its flavor a bit lacking, and I doubt that this unfortunate occurrence owes itself completely to the omission of the saffron. Unfortunately, this particular dish might be best left in the hands of the Vedge team (or in the hands of someone with some damn saffron…).

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Saffron Cauliflower Soup with Persillade

Tomorrow, I plan to experiment with Vedge’s Soba Bowl with Shiitake Dashi and Market Greens (a dish that authors Rich and Kate purport to enjoy every morning for breakfast with their son, Rio), adding a bit of pan-fried tempeh for some good old-fashioned protein. Beyond this surely warming and grounding soup, recipes I’d still like to try from the Vedge cookbook include a dish of peeled-open, marinated, and grilled portobello stems known as anticuchos; the Napa Cabbage Funky Kimchi Stew; the Warm Ramp Hummus; and the Whole Roasted Carrots with Black Lentils and Green Harissa.

If you enjoying playing around in the kitchen with involved recipes that feature the best produce the earth has to offer, then I would highly recommend picking up a (digital!) copy of the Vedge cookbook. With that, I shall leave you, dear readers, with the simple, Spanish-inspired dish I created to accompany the empanadas featured above. Enjoy.

Spanish Roasted Brassicas—Soy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat.

Serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

1 small/medium head cauliflower, chopped into smallish florets
2 small/1 medium head broccoli, chopped into smallish florets
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower and broccoli florets with the oil, paprika, and sherry vinegar to coat.

Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the brassicas are tender and golden-brown. Serve.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Delish Giveaway & Recipe for No-Bake Apple Pie

Vegan Delish sized for blog use

Get excited, folks, for I’m about to announce Farmers Market Vegan’s first ever giveaway! That’s right, dear readers, three of you lucky ducks have the chance to win a quite fabulous prize: a free download code for the iPhone/iPod recipe app Vegan Delish. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.

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Launched by the talented blogger, recipe developer, and graduate in public health nutrition Carrie Forest of Carrie on Vegan, Vegan Delish offers over 140 nourishing, mouthwatering recipes—all of which are vegan, gluten-free, made with minimal oil, salt, and added sugars, and accompanied by high-definition photos. New and veteran vegans, vegetarians, and those seeking to explore a plant-based diet will enjoy Vegan Delish not only for healthy and easy recipes, but also for a digital shopping list; social media sharing, recipe scaling, and kitchen timer functions; and recipe ratings and reviews—all without any ads. From Vegan Delish’s multiplicity of well-tested recipes and features, it comes as no surprise that the App Store lists it as one of the top 25 Paid Food & Drink Apps.

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To further enthuse you about this fabulous app and giveaway, check out a sampling of recipes featured on Vegan Delish:

–Mock Tuna Salad
–Buckwheat Pancakes with Maple Cashew Cream
–Cauliflower Pizza Crust
–Vegetable Quinoa Salad
–Avocado Chocolate Pudding
–Brown Rice & Lentil Salad
–Veggie Sushi Rolls
–Red Lentil Dal
–Almond Date Balls

As if Carrie had not already adequately showcased her generosity by offering up three free download codes for Vegan Delish, she also offered for me to share a recipe from the app—one for No-Bake Apple Pie—right here, right now.

No-Bake Apple Pie

Published with permission from Vegan Delish.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (divided)
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup orange juice
6 Fuji apples
1 1/2 cups medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons cinnamon (divided)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats

Instructions:

1. Core the apples and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

2. Combine the apples, orange juice, raisins, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla extract into a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until apples are softened. Stir in nutritional yeast and set aside to cool.

3. Place almonds, walnuts, and oats in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the remaining cinnamon and vanilla extract. Turn the food processor on and add the dates through the feeding tube one at a time. Process until mixture is well combined.

4. Pour the contents of the food processor into the pie dish and use your hands to spread evenly into the dish. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

5. When you are ready to assemble the pie, pour the apple mixture into the pie crust and serve cold or at room temperature.

Bakeless Apple Pie 2 Bakeless Apple Pie 1

Let’s face it: how could you not enter this giveaway? Simply click on the link below and you could be one of three winners, whom I will announce on Monday, November 11.

***NOTE: This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. The codes will only work on iPhones and iPads.***

This giveaway has closed. Congrats to Eric, Anna, and Erika!

Vegan MoFo #9: Caramelized Pumpkin & Onion Salad with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Limey Pinto Bean Dip

vegan mofo 2013

Last night’s Ferry House dinner came courtesy of my dear housemates Eric and Rocky, the latter of whom interned with Animal Place this summer and participated in the nationally publicized rescue of 3,000 hens. Eric, a phenomenal chef and gastronomic connoisseur, never fails to produce an inspired, full-flavored, and well-seasoned meal for our humble co-op, and last night’s dinner proved no exception.

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Influenced by two recipes in Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen (which Eric generously gifted to me last Valentine’s Day during Ferry House Secret Valentines), Eric and Rocky provided the house with a gorgeously presented pinto bean dip accentuated with cumin and lime, as well as a succulent, colorful salad of caramelized pumpkin and onions, parsley, and lemon juice sprinkled with roasted pumpkin seeds. (I, of course, enjoyed my dinner on a bed of spinach. A girl needs her greens.)

Pinto bean dip.

Pinto bean dip.

In other news, yesterday marked the 2013-2014 kickoff of Meatless Monday on the Vassar campus, which has thrived for three years now. In only the two hours of my tabling shift, students filled three signup sheets in enthusiastic support of the program. I mean, we did offer them pins with dancing cows on them…who could resist?

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Until next time, Ali.

Makeshift Tamales with Kale, Beans, & Sofritos

The astronomical inauthenticity of these tamales: I didn’t make the dough with masa harina. I didn’t steam the tamales in corn husks. I didn’t include the incredibly generous amount of solidified fat usually incorporated into tamale dough. I, contrary to popular belief, am not una abeula. (You could, of course, sub 2 cups of masa harina for the cornmeal and brown rice flour, as well as steam the tamales in corn husks, which you can usually find in the frozen food section of many grocery stores, though I don’t know that you could transmogrify yourself into una abuela…).

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The infinitesimal authenticity of these tamales: I employed the traditional garlic-onion-pepper sauté known as sofrito as the base of the tamale filling. I cooked my own black beans from scratch. (Thus, I’ve earned the legitimacy to open my own Latin restaurant, right?).

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Why you should make these tamales: The savory aroma of the sofritos as they cooked all but tempted me to bathe in the sauté pot. Rich in flavor, silky-smooth in texture, and chock-full of nature’s most perfect vegetable (aka kale), the tamale filling (of which this recipe renders more than enough to fill the tamales) can also serve as the perfect taco filling, side dish, or main meal served atop brown rice or quinoa. You can easily find all of the ingredients (with perhaps the exception of brown rice flour) in basically any grocery store. They contain no animal ingredients (duh).

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Makeshift Tamales with Kale, Beans, & SofritosSoy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium.

Makes about 13 smallish tamales.

Ingredients:

7 tbsp coconut oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and chopped
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 lb (about 3 medium) green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
A biggish pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

3 cups cooked or 2 15-oz cans of black and/or pinto beans
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 large bunch of kale, coarsely chopped

2 1/4-3/4 cups finely ground cornmeal
1 cup brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups lukewarm water

14 rectangles of aluminum foil, about 12 inches in length and 4-6 inches in width

In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine 4 tbsp of the coconut oil with the garlic, onion, peppers, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat on medium-high and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to low and sauté for another 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are very tender (and very fragrant, yum!). Add the beans, tomato paste, cumin, and maple syrup, and stir to combine. In batches, stir in the kale until wilted. Keep covered and warm until you are ready to prepare the tamales. You can also make this mixture in advance and keep it refrigerated—you don’t even need to heat it up again since you’ll be steaming the tamales later.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, brown rice flour, and baking powder. Whisk in the water and the remaining 3 tbsp of coconut oil until no lumps remain.

To assemble the tamales, spread 1/4 cup of the cornmeal batter onto the bottom half of one of your prepared aluminum foil rectangles, leaving about 1/2 an inch on either side and 1 inch on the bottom uncovered. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the filling into a line down the center of the batter. Fold both sides of the foil toward each other so that the batter encases the filling. Flip up the bottom inch of foil over the folded edges, then fold the top uncovered portion of foil over and around the filled portion of foil. You should have a pudgy little pouch of uncooked tamale now. Repeat the filling and folding process with the remaining batter, filling, and foil.

Steam the tamales for about 45 minutes, or until the batter is firm yet still moist. When cool enough to handle, unwrap the tamales and enjoy to your heart’s content, perhaps with a side of fried sweet plantains.

A perfect meal.

A perfect meal.

Recipe submitted to Healthy Vegan Fridays, Wellness Weekend, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, and Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #65

Before I dive into regaling my weekly eats, I’d like to direct you toward the essay on Michael Pollan’s that I recently published on the blog. In it, I demonstrate how Pollan manages his audience’s emotions in order to persuade him both of the acceptability of eating meat, and of the impossibility of vegetariansim. I also argue that Pollan wrote the book essentially to justify his own meat-eating. I do hope you’ll check out the piece. Thank you.

Breakfast: A plate of baby kale water-sauteed with cumin and fennel seeds, wilted down, and mixed with nutritional yeast, Bragg’s liquid aminos, ground ginger, and coconut oil—my new favorite way to prepare greens, introduced to me by The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen cookbook. I accompanied the greens with a bowl of Whole Soy’s unsweetened plain soy yogurt, 1 tbsp homemade sprouted almond butter, about 3/4 cup Hemp and Greens Superfood Cereal, and about 1 tbsp goji berries.

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Since returning to Ferry Haus from my two-week-long spring break, I’ve eschewed my habitual morning smoothie in favor of this new breakfast pairing of lightly cooked, ridiculously flavorful, and (dare I say…) downright buttery greenswith a crunchy-creamy bowl of granola, soy yogurt, goji berries, and almond butter. After returning from Austin, I ventured straight to Whole Foods to purchase more of the absolutely astounding raw sprouted granola from Live Superfoods that I enjoyed while in Texas. To my sheer glee, Whole Foods now stocks that very granola in their bulk section, along with a fairly large selection of other sprouted granolas, trail mixes, nuts, and grains. I also partook in a large bag of sprouted almonds, with which I pureed up a batch of homemade sprouted almond butter. After experiencing the ease and frugality of homemaking nut butter, I’m never again purchasing another jar of the stuff. Yay, economics! I’ve seen on a number of blog posts offering directions on how to make almond butter that the almonds take quite a long time to transform into creamy lusciousness; however, my sprouted almonds made the shift from ground to buttery relatively quickly—after about 7-10 minutes as opposed to the 20 that I’ve commonly heard other bloggers experiencing. Moral of the story: if you want more digestible almond butter more quickly, use sprouted almonds.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—soy yogurt, sprouted almond butter, sprouted sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp protein. Whole Grain—sprouted buckwheat, brown rice bran & germ. Fruit—coconut, bananas, sultanas, goji berries. Leafy Green—baby kale. Superfoods—spinach powder, spirulina, chlorella, alfalfa powder, dandelion leaf powder, goji berries.

Morning Tea: Eden Organic Genmaicha tea.

Lunch: A waffle sandwich of two herbed carrot-chickpea waffles slathered with pesto chutney from the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen and encasing a brown rice-beluga lentil-roasted sweet potato & broccoli burger inspired by Gena’s Leftover Grain & Bean Burgers. I served the sandwich alongside a simple salad of mixed greens and dulse seaweed flakes tossed with Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with brown rice and kimchi.

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Waffles: A savory take on my Spirulina-Mango Waffles with Goji Berries that omits the cardamom, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and spirulina while replacing the mango puree with the parsley and thyme carrot sauce in the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, the plant-based milk with salt-free vegetable stock, and the goji berries with chickpeas.

Pesto Chutney: a generously herbed and spiced spread of tahini, dulse seaweed, lemon juice, flax oil, dill, parsley, fennel seeds, and cumin based on the recipe in the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen. Perhaps due to my minor substitutions as well as my accidental purchasing of lemon-flavored flax oil, the pesto imparted much too harsh of a flavor for my liking and adopted a displeasing bitterness after a few days of refrigeration, even though the directions assure that it will keep for up to three weeks.

Burgers: Based on Gena’s instructions, in a food processor I mixed together 3 cups of leftover short-grain brown rice; 2 cups of a salad of beluga lentils, roasted broccoli, and sweet potatoes in a lemon vinaigrette (a take on this recipe from Cookie and Kate); and 1/4 cup flaxseed meal to create 14 hearty patties of smoky, crispy deliciousness.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpea flour, fava flour, flaxseed meal, chickpeas, tahini, beluga lentils. Whole Grain—sorghum flour, brown rice. Vegetables/Fruit—carrot, parsley, dill, sweet potato, broccoli, dulse seaweed, kimchi veggies. Leafy Greens—broccoli, mixed greens, dill, parsley, cabbage in kimchi.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of GT’s Kombucha in Original flavor.

Dinner: The French Lentil Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing from the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen served alongside roasted brussels sprouts and brown rice.

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Peter Berley, author of the Modern Vegetarian Kitchen and former executive chef of 37-year-old NYC vegan restaurant Angelica Kitchen, combines toothsome French lentils; finely diced carrots, celery, and bell peppers; and plenty of fresh herbs with a tangy dressing of yogurt, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil in his French Lentil Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing. Naturally, I substituted soy yogurt for dairy-based, added mixed greens along with the rest of the veggies, and served this refreshing, light salad to my fellow Ferries for dinner to yield rave reviews.

Meal Checklist: Protein—lentils, soy yogurt. Whole Grain—brown rice. Vegetables—carrots, bell peppers, celery, dill, parsley, brussels sprouts. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, parsley, dill, brussels sprouts.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

A Weekend in NYC, Part 1: The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

This weekend, U.S. VegCorp hosted the third annual New York City Vegetarian Food Festival at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Chelsea neighborhood. After enviously listening to Erin Red recount her delightful experiences at last year’s festival on a past episode of her podcast, I rushed online to discover the dates of the 2013 event and vowed to attend. Luckily, my parents decided to rent an apartment in NYC from mid-February until the end of April, providing me with a convenient home base in the city and practically begging me to take advantage of all the vegan goodies and happenings NYC has to offer; frankly, the universe would have admonished me had I not patronized the veg fest this year.

Numerous reliable vegan sources stressed the value of purchasing a VIP ticket for the festival in order to avoid the up-to-four-hour-long line for entry into the venue. Indeed, my decision to heed their advice and shell out the most well-spent $30 of my life on a Sunday VIP ticket proved quite prudent—I bounded through the building’s glass doors, displayed my ticket to a smiling woman who awarded me with a specially market wristband, and threw myself into the torrent of enthused veg*n/veg-curious attendees, eager vendors, tantalizing noms, and cruelty-free fashions, eliciting a couple resentful glares, I’m sure, from those still standing outside in line.

Arriving at the festival around my lunchtime, I first paid a visit to the renowned vegan food truck The Cinnamon Snail, whose selection of baked goods rivals any of a traditional brick-and-mortar bakery (can you say lavender-pear turnovers, passionfruit-glazed donuts, and strawberry cheese danishes?). Unfortunately, none of these mouthwatering creations bore a gluten-free (or sugar-free, for that matter) label, but I certainly contented myself by ordering a Raw Goji Berry Bar to accompany my Fiery Southeast Asian Salad of kale, homemade kimchi, sliced fresh jalapenos, curried peanuts, and chili oil. Both vittles satisfied my tastebuds immensely—the goji bar harbored a mysterious coconutty-cashew flavor while the salad excited the palate with its fresh spiciness (though it did feature a tad too much chili oil for my liking).

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The Cinnamon's Snail baked goods case.

The Cinnamon’s Snail baked goods case.

Fiery Southeast Asian Salad.

Fiery Southeast Asian Salad.

After enjoying a lovely lunch, I began making my rounds about the festival. Immediately upon entering, I spotted the ice cream counter of DF Mavens—a coconut-based frozen treat free of gluten, soy, and (in the case of some flavors) sugar about which I had heard at the recent Ivy League Vegan Conference. The company has not yet launched their products into stores, but to give you a sneak peek, some of their tantalizing flavors include Sicilian Hazelnut Truffle, New Orleans Salted Praline, Alphonso Mango, and Peanut Butter Fudge Mash. Wowza.

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Free samples of DF Mavens.

Free samples of DF Mavens.

Oodles of jewelry-makers and clothing-crafters showcased their wares, including the well-known vegan t-shirt company Compassion Co., a woman who creates gorgeously unique bracelets out of dehydrated fruits and vegetables at Wired Up Creations, the rebellious Portland-based outfitter of Herbivore Clothing Company (positively thrilled to meet her, I basically fawned over owner Michelle Schwegmann, who has gained plenty of fame in my book thanks to Our Hen House), and an independent jeweler with no company name of which to speak but who provided lovely graphic pendants. An independent screen-printer stood next to the DF Mavens booth and enthusiastically demonstrated the screen-printing process at my confession that I’ve long yearned to learn how to screen-print.

One of Compassion Co.'s t-shirts emblazoned with, "Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan." Love it.

One of Compassion Co.’s t-shirts emblazoned with, “Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan.” Love it.

"Animal Liberation" pendant from an independent jeweler.

“Animal Liberation” pendant from an independent jeweler.

Stickers from Herbivore Clothing Company.

Stickers from Herbivore Clothing Company.

Original screen-print t-shirt design from the friendly independent screen-printing guy.

Original screen-print t-shirt design from the friendly independent screen-printing guy.

The festivals’ bounty of cosmetics included allegedly intensely healing face creams and serums derived from broccoli sprouts, as well as deliciously fragrant soaps from Fanciful Fox and Metropolis Soap Company

Broccoli sprout skin cremes.

Broccoli sprout skin cremes.

Soaps from Fancful Fox.

Soaps from Fancful Fox.

Of course, the festival couldn’t deem itself a food festival without an inordinate amount of yummies rampant throughout the convention hall. Though I didn’t snap a picture of every single food booth, I’ll provide you with a sampling:

"Raw Slaw" fermented veggies from Bao Fermented Food and Drink--they also sell home-brewed kombucha, sauces, and superfood shots.

“Raw Slaw” fermented veggies from Bao Fermented Food and Drink–they also sell home-brewed kombucha, sauces, and superfood shots.

I picked up a jar of Bao's Greens Raw Slaw, packed with kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, apples, pears, ginger, and garlic.

I picked up a jar of Bao’s Greens Raw Slaw, packed with kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, apples, pears, ginger, and garlic.

Vegan & gluten-free empanadas from Brooklyn's acclaimed V-Spot.

Vegan & gluten-free empanadas from Brooklyn’s acclaimed V-Spot.

The ever-popular Dandies marshmallows--gelatin-free!

The ever-popular Dandies marshmallows–gelatin-free!

Fryin' up some Field Roast sausages.

Fryin’ up some Field Roast sausages.

Pastel-hued cookies from Pipernilli Bakery.

Pastel-hued cookies from Pipernilli Bakery.

Cashew-and-coconut-based ice cream from the Raw Ice Cream Company (chocolate hazelnut, anyone?).

Cashew-and-coconut-based ice cream from the Raw Ice Cream Company (chocolate hazelnut, anyone?).

Monkey Boy peanut butter with banana extract and raisins from the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company

Monkey Boy peanut butter with banana extract and raisins from the Saratoga Peanut Butter Company.

Gorgeously frosted cupcakes from Pink Frosting Bakery.

Gorgeously frosted cupcakes from Pink Frosting Bakery.

Rehydrated dried fruit from Fruit Bliss--apparently, re-moistening dried fruit is all-the-rage in Europe!

Rehydrated dried fruit from Fruit Bliss–apparently, re-moistening dried fruit is all-the-rage in Europe!

Delectable and creamy Faux Gras, Basilcotta, and Superfood Pesto from the Regal Vegan

Delectable and creamy Faux Gras, Basilcotta, and Superfood Pesto from the Regal Vegan.

Spicy Mang roll from Beyond Sushi (for dinner later that night) with avocado, mango, cucumber, and black rice topped with spicy pickled veggies and toasted cayenne sauce.

Spicy Mang roll from Beyond Sushi (for dinner later that night) with avocado, mango, cucumber, and black rice topped with spicy pickled veggies and toasted cayenne sauce.

King-sized gluten-free cookies from Dauphin Bakery, included Ginger Spice Molasses. Mmm...

King-sized gluten-free cookies from Dauphin Bakery, included Ginger Spice Molasses. Mmm…

Three Fennel tea from Pukka Herbs. The woman behind the stand generously gave me three free tea bags of this blend, in which I have reveled for the past two days due to my ardent love of fennel.

Three Fennel tea from Pukka Herbs. The woman behind the stand generously gave me three free tea bags of this blend, in which I have reveled for the past two days due to my ardent love of fennel.

Vegan scallops (yes, you read right) from Sophie's Kitchen, made from Elephant Yam Root, aka Konjac. Fascinating!

Vegan scallops (yes, you read right) from Sophie’s Kitchen, made from Elephant Yam Root, aka Konjac. Fascinating!

Certainly my favorite aspect of the entire festival comprised of schmoozing with prominent vegan activists, bloggers, and authors whom I’ve long admired. Though I didn’t snap any photos with them, I also met the bloggers (Sharon and Dianne, respectively) behind Big City Vegan and VeggieGirl, two quite successful blogs in whose footsteps I hope to follow.

I've become quite a fan of Erin Red's podcast, Red Radio, and her special brand of no-nonsense activism. Honored to extend our relationship from Twitter to the real world!

I’ve become quite a fan of Erin Red’s podcast, Red Radio, and her special brand of no-nonsense activism. Honored to extend our relationship from Twitter to the real world!

Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur delivered an inspiring speech that touched upon effective animal advocacy among many other topics. His assertion that "being right is not the same as being effective" struck me as particularly important.

Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur delivered an inspiring speech that touched upon effective animal advocacy among many other topics. His assertion that “being right is not the same as being effective” struck me as particularly important.

Ximena and Derek from my all-time favorite yoga studio, Jivamukti, described the intrinsic connections between yogic philosophy and veganism.

Ximena and Derek from my all-time favorite yoga studio, Jivamukti, described the intrinsic connections between yogic philosophy and veganism.

Matt Frazier of the acclaimed No Meat Athlete blog showcased his merchandise and gave a talk on Saturday of the festival.

Matt Frazier of the acclaimed No Meat Athlete blog showcased his merchandise and gave a talk on Saturday of the festival.

I still cannot fathom how I managed to meet the legendary vegan author and lifestyle coach Victoria Moran.

I still cannot fathom how I managed to meet the legendary vegan author and lifestyle coach Victoria Moran.

Though I didn't manage to snag a photo of Miyoko Schinner, author of Artisan Vegan Cheese, I did sample some of her very own gourmet nut cheeses after her talk.

Though I didn’t manage to snag a photo of Miyoko Schinner, author of Artisan Vegan Cheese, I did sample some of her very own gourmet nut cheeses after her talk.

Of course, standby animal rights organizations like PETA, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and Sea Shepherd also made appearances at the festival, along with eastern farm animal sanctuaries like Woodstock and Catskill. I had the pleasure of meeting two immensely friendly COK volunteers who welcomed me with open arms when I informed them of my summer internship with the organization—further proof that the animal rights movement attracts the most generous, all-around wonderful human beings.

To round out my festival experience, I indulged myself in adding yet another vegan cookbook to my collection: the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen by Talya Lutzker. I haven’t yet had a chance to thoroughly examine the book’s recipes, but cannot wait to learn of the doshas and how to eat in order to best balance inner energy—like yoga and eating all rolled into one! From my quick flip through the book (which has sat on my Amazon Wishlist for quite some time now), all of the recipes feature only wholesome, unprocessed ingredients and include a host of raw, sugar-free desserts. My Ferry housemates will surely taste at least a couple of goodies inspired by this book!

After spending over three hours chatting, sampling, and handing out homemade Farmers Market Vegan business cards, I had thoroughly exhausted myself and decided to trek back uptown to my parents’ apartment before catching my train home to Vassar. Witnessing such a successful outpouring of vegans and omnivores alike (2,000 people attended the festival on Saturday alone) fostered within me such hope for a shifting mainstream consciousness toward a more compassionate, deliberate, conscious, and healthful lifestyle. The innovative products featured at the festival also aided in proving that leading a vegan lifestyle by no means entails sacrificing the joy of delicious food, chic fashion, and effective skin care. I fully intend to attend many more events similar to this one, with the third annual Veggie Pride Parade on Sunday, March 24th as the most upcoming one.

Stay tuned for a post detailing my meals at Candle Cafe West and Blossom on the Saturday before the festival (yes, I’m posting out of chronological order, but I wanted to recap the festival before recounting my fabulous meals).

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #57

Breakfast: A green juice of applecarrotkale, parsley, and lemon, blended with 1/2 an avocado, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, and 1 tbsp goji berries, accompanied by a hefty slice of Raspberry Rooibos-Tea Bread from Jennifer Katzinger’s “Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread.”

avocado juice (1)

raspberry rooibos bread (1)

As with so many other healthy eating techniques and recipes (banana soft serve and perfect tofu burgers, anyone?), my virtual buddy Gena of Choosing Raw first introduced me to the notion of blending juiced veggies with avocado to yield a creamy beverage more substantial than yet just as nourishing as a standard green juice. Figuring that if I could blend avocado into my morning juice, I could amp up its nutritional content even further by also pureeing in hemp seeds and goji berries. New breakfast triumph!

I alluded to Jennifer Katzinger’s Raspberry-Rooibos Tea Bread in my last post on the gluten-free sandwiches in which I’ve recently reveled, promising more details in this post. The recipe that called to me the most earnestly out of Jennifer’s entire book, this bread did not disappoint my high expectations for it. The bread’s base of teff flour imparted a deep hue, hearty texture, and a unique flavor wavering between earthy and nutty, while the rooibos tea lent a slightly red tone and sophisticated taste. Each layer of the bread took on a distinct characteristic—the bottom proved oh-so-moist and chewy while the top held an almost coffee-cake-like crumbly texture. Studded with tart raspberries and only mildly sweet from a minimal amount of agave nectar, the bread appealed immensely to my sugar-sensitive tastebuds and provided a complex way to wake the palate after a night’s rest. The next time I make this recipe, I intend to incorporate a bit of cocoa powder as I think it will nicely complement the bread’s flavor; besides, aren’t raspberries and chocolate a match made in heaven?

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—hemp seeds. Whole Grain—teff flour. Fruit—apple, avocado, goji berries, raspberries, lemon. Leafy Green—kale, parsley. Superfood—hemp seeds, goji berries. Added Veggie Bonus!—carrot.

Local Ingredients: Carrots from Tipi Produce.

Morning Tea: Triple Leaf Tea’s White Tea.

Lunch: A TLT (Tempeh, Lettuce, & Tomato) Sandwich with Avocado on Jennifer Katzinger’s Light Teff Sandwich Bread, accompanied by a salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, “farmhouse mix” sprouts, carrots, and dulse flakes, all tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with the “Ferment of the Month” sauerkraut from Fizzeology.

TLT sandwich (1)

salad (1)

If you haven’t yet witnessed me waxing poetic about my recent sandwich ventures, I encourage you to do so by checking out my latest post. There, you can find the details of the TLT with Avocado featured above.

As for the “Ferment of the Month” sauerkraut, this month’s mix of lactofermented yumminess contains a surprising plethora of unorthodox vegetables, which I will now list to fulfill your veggie-loving needs: green and napa cabbage, bok choy, brussels sprout tops, black radish, red pepper, carrot, red beauty heart radish, onion, cilantro, turnip, burdock root, dandelion greens, lotus root, yellow dot, evening primrose seed, wild parsnip, garlic, delicata squash, bok choy root, wild carrot, lambs quarter seed, apple, eggplant. Um, wow.

Meal Checklist: Protein—tempeh, chia seeds, almond meal, flaxseed meal (last three in bread). Whole Grain—buckwheat and teff flours in bread. Vegetables—cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, “farmhouse mix” sprouts, carrots, sauerkraut veggies. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, dulse seaweed, greens in sauerkraut.

Local Ingredients: Carrots from Tipi Produce, alfalfa sprouts and mixed bean sprouts from Troy Community Farm“Ferment of the Month” sauerkraut from Fizzeology, tempeh from the Simple Soyman, mixed greens from Don’s Produce (no website), “farmhouse mix” sprouts from Garden to Be.

Afternoon Beverage: A glass of NessAlla Kombucha in their seasonal Cardamom Hibiscus Ginger flavor.

Dinner: Two of Dreena Burton’s Mushroom-Pecan Burgers topped with Julie Morris’ Superfood Goddess Dressing from her book “Superfood Kitchen“; a Mixed Veggie Slaw with Peanut Lime Dressing (recipe below); and the leftover wrappers and marinated veggies from the Raw Falafel and Hummus Wraps with Marinated Mediterranean Veggies that I brought to the raw potluck last weekend.

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Super hearty, densely textured, and wonderfully savory from a thoughtful combination of seasonings including miso, sage, oregano, balsamic vinegar, and tamari, Dreena’s Mushroom-Pecan Burgers filled in every box on the “Great Veggie Burgers” checklist. Slathered in Julie’s tangy Superfood Goddess Dressing—deemed as such due to the inclusion of hemp seeds, flaxseed oil, and Amazing Grass Green Superfoods powder—the burgers provided a delectable focal point to my dinner.

I drew inspiration for the Mixed Veggie Slaw with Peanut Lime Dressing from Fresh Restaurant’s recipe for Tangled Thai Salad. My simplified version of the recipe I’ve provided below—I used most of the veggies listed in the recipe simply to clean out my refrigerator, so feel free to substitute any other veggies you like.

Mixed Veggie Slaw with Peanut Lime Dressing

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 small head savoy cabbage, shredded
2 small beets, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup butternut squash cubes, shredded
1 medium bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground
2 tsp coconut milk (can sub any other plant-based milk)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil

Place all of the veggies in a large bowl and toss to combine.

To make the dressing, place all of the dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the veggies and mix well to coat.

Meal Checklist: Protein—pecans, tahini, flaxseed meal, peanut butter, hemp seeds. Whole Grain—GF rolled oats. Vegetables—butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, zucchini, bell peppers, beets, cucumbers. Leafy Greens—spinach, savoy cabbage, Amazing Grass Green Superfoods powder.

Local Ingredients: Spinach from Snug Haven, beets from Harmony Valley Farm.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: Have you ever tried blending juice with avocado? What is your favorite sandwich? What veggies do you like to incorporate into slaws?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #56

Before launching into my weekly What I Ate Wednesday spiel, I’d like to thank you all for the outpouring of support I’ve recieved for the article I posted yesterday, entitled We Can Keep Romanticizing Our Food Choices as Long as They Don’t Involve Animal Suffering. Here’s an excerpt: “Do we think that shopping in a manner that we consider morally sound, in that it supports the local economy, serves as a legitimate excuse to overlook the ethical implications of other aspects of our food choices, such as whether or not a sentient being—who would undoubtedly choose life over slaughter—died merely to satisfy our taste preferences, even though we know that humans can easily thrive on a plant-based diet?” I hope you’ll hop on over to yesterday’s post and give it a read if you haven’t already!

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1 frozen banana, a large handful each of frozen pineapple and raspberries, 1 tbsp goji berries, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 tsp maca powder, 1/2 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfoods powder, 8 medium leaves of lacinato kale, and 1 cup homemade almond milk, topped with 1/2 cup of my version of Nouveau Raw’s Pumpkin Caramel Cereal.

smoothie (2)

This Christmas, I positively shrieked with delight upon unwrapping Superfood Kitchen, a gorgeous tome by Julie Morris of extremely healthy recipes featuring every superfood imaginable. Though I already incorporated many of what Julie categorizes as superfoods into my diet prior to reading her artfully written cookbook, her playful voice inspired in me an even greater awareness of the benefits of including these highly nutrient-dense foods into everyday meals. As such, I bought a bag of goji berries that have earned a spot in my morning smoothies, imparting in them an intriguing chocolately flavor, and have also began to utilize some variety of berries—the most antioxidant-rich of fruits—in every smoothie.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—hemp seeds, almond milk, almond meal, chia seeds, sunflower seeds (last three in cereal). Whole Grain—buckwheat. Fruit—banana, raspberries, pineapple, dates, apricots, persimmons. Leafy Green—lacinato kale. “Super Food”—Amazing Grass powder, hemp seeds, maca, goji berries, chia seeds.

Local Ingredients: None.

Morning Tea: Eden Organic Genmaicha green tea.

Lunch: A salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, carrots, parsley, and dulse flakes, all tossed with Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with Kickapoo Kimchi, accompanied by a plate of Happy Crackers with garlic powder and sundried tomatoes, a ball of Vegan Buffalo Mozzarella, and a dollop each of Roasted Garlic & Kale Hummus and Sweet Potato Hummus with Fennel Seeds and Smoked Salt.

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You know it’s a good day when not one, but two hummus varieties grace your plate. A sucker for roasted garlic, kale, sweet potatoes, fennel seeds, and smoked salt, both of the hummuses in which I reveled today spoke directly to my culinary heart, nourishing my spirit as well as my health. Both hummuses pack a huge flavor punch and finish with a spicy kick—yum!

Meal Checklist: Protein—sesame and flax seeds in crackers, cashews and soy yogurt in mozzarella, tahini and garbanzo beans in hummuses. Whole Grain—brown rice and quinoa in crackers. Vegetables—parsley, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, carrots, kimchi veggies, sundried tomatoes, garlic, sweet potato. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, dulse seaweed, cabbage in kimchi, kale in hummus.

Local Ingredients: Carrots from Tipi Produce, alfalfa sprouts and mixed bean sprouts from Troy Community Farm, Kickapoo Kimchi from Fizzeology.

Afternoon Beverage: A tall glass of NessAlla Kombucha in a gorgeous seasonal flavor of Hibiscus Ginger Cardamom, oh my!

kombucha

Dinner: Three Shiitake Cabbage Rolls with Chestnut Cream from Veggie Wedgie accompanied by a Borchst-Inspired Shredded Beet and Fennel Salad loosely based off of Leanne’s Brilliant Beet Slaw.

dinner (2)

During the summer when I first glimpsed Veggie Wedgie’s cabbage roll recipe, which featured two of my all-time favorite ingredients—tempeh and chestnuts—I vowed to recreate it as soon as possible. Unfortunately, a little thing called college got in the way and forced me to endure five long months with this recipe tantalizing me every time I opened my “Recipes to Try” Word document. Fortunately, after finally making them, the cabbage rolls certainly lived up to the high expectations I had set for them—deeply earthy from the shiitakes, hearty and toothsome from the tempeh, refreshing and leafy from the cabbage, and decadently creamy from the chestnut sauce. This deceptively simple recipe falls short of absolutely nothing in the flavor department.

As for the shredded beet and fennel salad, I formulated the recipe out of a desire to provide a light, acidic accompaniment to the cabbage rolls while abiding by the Balkan origins of the dish. Borchst first popped into my head, but I yearned for a dish more toothsome than a pureed soup to offset the already creamy component of the chestnut sauce. However, I held onto the notion of highlighting beets in my side dish, and also decided to play off of the flavor profile of borchst by incorporating caraway seeds. A beet salad tossed with a caraway-laced dressing seemed like the perfect playmate for the cabbage rolls, and I’ve included the brightly flavored recipe here:

Borchst-Inspired Shredded Beet and Fennel Salad

¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup fresh dill
¼ cup fresh parsley
1 ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves
3 raw beets, peeled and finely shredded
1 large fennel bulb, finely shredded

  1. Place lemon juice, dill, parsley, olive oil, seeds, and garlic in the bowl of a mini food processor. Blend until everything is broken up, but still slightly chunky.
  2. Drop into a bowl with shredded beets and fennel. Stir to coat.

Meal Checklist: Protein—tempeh, chestnuts. Whole Grain—none. Vegetables—shiitake mushrooms, dill, parsley, beets, garlic, fennel. Leafy Greens—savoy cabbage.

Local Ingredients: Tempeh from The Simple Soyman, beets from Harmony Valley Farm.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: Which superfoods do you like to incoporate into your daily meals? What is your favorite creatively flavored hummus? How do you feel about borchst (I’ve never actually tried it!)?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

Review of Jennifer Katzinger’s “Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread,” Starring Caraway Buckwheat Boule and a Caprese Sandwich

Crisp, crackly, crusty, artisan, aromatic, homemade, comforting bread: the only food that continued to tantalize me after I took the gluten-free plunge. My Italian upbringing and frequent jaunts to visit my aunt in Florence certainly contributed to this deliciously carby love affair. After all, not eating bread in Italy basically translates to not eating; indeed, Italians munch with a fork in one hand and a piece of bread in the other. The quality and variety of Italian bread only intensified my longing—pillowy ciabatta, herby and toothsome focaccia, twisted crisp breadsticks called grissini, and pure-flavored unsalted Florentine bread, to name a few.

Happily, upon transitioning to a gluten-free diet (which I do not regret doing in the least and would never return to eating gluten due to the wonders eliminating it has achieved for my digestion), I discovered a bounty of creative alternatives to wheat bread, including socca, simple tortillas utilizing lesser-known whole grain flours, and a whole host of raw options such as wraps, loaves, and flatbreads. While immensely enjoyable in their own right, these recipes simply cannot substitute for the doughy, yeasty, hearty spectacle of a legitimate loaf of bread. Oh, how I lamented the absence of sourdough in my life! Alas, how I rended myself from the ancient grain, wood-fired breads from Cress Spring Bakery! Dammit, how I just wanted some panzanella and a sandwich!

Yet finally, like a beacon in the night, after 16 months of wallowing in a bread-void abyss, Jennifer Katzinger answered all of my gluten-free prayers with her genius new cookbook—Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread: Artisan Recipes to Make at Home. Considering my deep adoration of bread pre-gluten-freedom and unfulfilled cravings for it post-transition, I nearly wept with joy upon downloading this book onto my Kindle as a Christmas gift from my generous mother. Perhaps it has become a cliche in the vegan cooking community to affirm a yearning to make all of the recipes included in any particular cookbook, but I honestly gasped with excitement at the title of every single bread featured in Jennifer Katzinger’s bible of gluten-free/vegan yeasty goodness, determined to, yes, make them all. How could I not devote every ounce of my being to crafting homemade, artisan, gluten-free and vegan breads when they boasted mouthwatering names like Kalamata Olive Bread, Caraway Potato Bread, Russian Black Bread, Multiple Grain Baguette, Quinoa Sandwich Bread, Cinnamon-Walnut Loaf, Swedish Braided Bread, Orange Chocolate Bread, Apricot Kuchen, Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Sage Loaf, Arepas, Indian Roti, Focaccia con Funghi, Blueberry Streusel Brad, Date Oat Bread, and Raspberry-Rooibos Tea Bread? Be still my beating heart.

The Petite Buckwheat Round comprised the first recipe I attempted on the road to baking my way through this new cookbook of mine. Like most of the recipes in the Yeasted Breads chapter, the Buckwheat Round began with by dissolving active dry yeast with maple syrup and olive oil (though I used agave nectar instead), combining it with a chia seed gel, and then mixing in a blend of whole grain flours and starches (buckwheat flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot, and flaxseed meal in this particular recipe). Though the ingredient list did not include caraway, I threw in a scant tablespoon of the classic rye spice since I thought it would nicely complement the buckwheat’s nutty, hearty flavor. I opted to allow my handy-dandy stand mixer to form the dough before shaping it into a round on a cutting board dusted with more buckwheat flour—Jennifer specifically notes that “minimal handling is optimal” and that “really what you want to do is shape the dough and not actually knead it”—and scoring the loaf with three curving lines to create a floral pattern. After popping the shaped dough into the oven and waiting for two agonizing hours while the aroma of caraway wafted from the kitchen, a gorgeous loaf of deeply golden bread, complete with an impressively crunchy crust and a bottom that sounded hollow when rapped upon, emerged. Yes, folks—this bread was the gluten-free real deal.

caraway buckwheat boule (6)

caraway buckwheat boule (3)

Perhaps you noticed that I mentioned not a word about allowing the dough to rise before baking it. Not only does crafting gluten-free bread require minimal kneading, it also yields an immensely more preferable structure and texture when placed directly in the oven after mixing rather than undergoing the traditional fermentation process. Jennifer explains that “because doughs that are gluten-free have so little structure to begin with, if they are allowed to ferment and rise on the counter, the enzyme activity (which defines the bread’s flavor and structural strengths) will increase, and protease (an enzyme that works on protein chains) will regretfully leave something that is so crumbly and weak in structure that one could hardly call it a bread at all.” However, these yeasted gluten-free breads do indeed still rise; they simply rely on the yeast’s increased feeding/carbon-dioxide-emission rate experienced when the dough’s temperature begins to rise in a hot oven to create a rising method known as oven spring. This dependence on accelerated yeast activity also renders the use of eggs and copious amounts of xanthan gum, both of which show up quite frequently in most gluten-free breads to provide additional binding and leavening, unnecessary. Who knew that simply bypassing a supposedly integral step in bread-baking would produce perfect gluten-free vegan bread without depending on the questionable ingredient of xanthan gum?

If, like me, utilizing various types of gums (xanthan, guar, carageenan, etc.) causes you discomfort, either physically or mentally, I’d like to offer a note on the inclusion of xanthan gum in Jennifer’s book: addressing the prevalent problem with the commonly genetically modified nature and tendency to cause bloating in some individuals of xanthan gum, Jennifer asserts that her “preference is to avoid xanthan gum when possible.” However, though certainly used in much smaller amounts (1/2-1 tsp) in this book than in the vast majority of other gluten-free bread recipes, xanthan gum appears in all of the recipes in the Yeasted Breads chapter and a couple in the Flatbreads and Quickbreads chapters. Taking a bit of a chance, I decided not to include xanthan gum in my first experiment with Jennifer’s recipes and nonetheless reveled in the impeccable flavor, texture, heartiness, and crust quality of the bread. My verdict? Omitting xanthan gum from the recipes in this book still yields stellar results.

While I enjoyed a slice of my Caraway Buckwheat Boule (my new name for my customized creation) on the night of its conception with a steaming bowl of French Green Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup with Kale, the bread starred in the role I had originally intended for it to play the next day during lunchtime when it provided the base for a gluten-free, vegan Caprese Sandwich. The eminence of this sandwich stems from my middle school days, when my friends and I referred to it simply as “The Sandwich.” No other combination of three perfectly complementary ingredients applied to sandwich form could compare to the unification of mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto nestled between two slices of toasty, crusty bread. On any given day, at least four of the girls in our lunch group would munch on some variation of “The Sandwich,” while those who discovered a measly PB&J in their lunchbox scowled jealously at the lucky lunchers. Though it pains me to say it, back in my middle school days, the mozzarella featured in my caprese sandwiches was the blood-and-pus-filled byproduct of the egregiously oppressive and inhumane dairy industry, while the pesto harbored just as much suffering due to its inclusion of parmesan cheese (which is actually not even vegetarian).

sandwich (1)

Submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Allergy-Free WednesdayHealthy Vegan Fridays, and Gluten-Free Fridays.

Clearly, this new-and-vastly-improved rendition of “The Sandwich” proves 100% cruelty- and gluten-free, due to its implementation of my Caraway Buckwheat Boule, the vegan mozzarella featured in Miyoko Schinner’s “Artisan Vegan Cheese,” and Kristy’s Oil-Free Pesto, along with a couple halved cherry tomatoes. Oh, how I relished the nostalgia…and the creamy decadence slathered between slices of homemade bread.

Anywho, I’d recommend sprinting to your nearest bookstore or furiously typing “Amazon.com” into your address bar to pick up a copy of Jennifer Katzinger’s, Gluten-Free & Vegan Bread, immediately—I can promise that your life will change with the first sniff of artisan bread emnating from the oven. Perhaps then you, too, can revel in the sandwich-inspired memories of your childhood.

Until next time, Ali.