Saturday, May 31, 2008

Zucchini-Pecan Flaxseed Bread

Make this zucchini bread on a weekend afternoon and it will supply you with breakfast for the coming week! Just grab a couple slices on your way out the door. The flaxseed in the bread is an awesome way for vegans to get omega-3 fatty acids, so touted by nutritionists, who – alas – usually only mention fish as a way to get it. Flaxseed, though, is a great omega-3 source (walnuts too…)

As for batter breads such as this one, I’ve never had any trouble with vegan substitutions. Indeed, the only substitute I make below is for soy yogurt instead of regular yogurt, since the original called for egg substitute over real eggs!

For this recipe, measure out one and a half cups all-purpose flour and one cup whole wheat flour. Make sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cups and level with a knife, rather than scooping (I already mentioned this in my Chocolate Malted Cookie recipe).

Combine the flours with 3/4 cup raw sugar, 1/2 cup ground flaxseed, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (organic), one tablespoon baking powder, one teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.

Shred two cups-worth of zucchini using the large holes of a cheese grater. The recipe said this would take 2 zucchini, but make sure to buy large ones! My two small ones only yielded one cup, so I had to dash back out to the store mid-recipe! Once shredded, spread the zucchini onto a layer of paper towels. Press down with another layer of paper towels to squeeze out the excess liquid. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup vanilla soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy), 1/2 cup egg substitute of your choice (such as Ener-G), 3 tablespoons canola oil and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir well with a whisk, then stir in the zucchini.

Add the zucchini mixture and 1/4 cup chopped pecans to the flour mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon, then pour into a 9x5 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the top with an additional three tablespoons chopped pecans.

Bake the bread in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. A wooden toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool for ten minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then carefully remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack. The loaf yields 18 slices of 190 calories each.


zucchini: $1.43 the first batch, $4.38 on my second!

vanilla soy yogurt $2.18

pecans $6.99

Friday, May 30, 2008

Caramelized Mangoes

Here's another dessert featuring fruit. I'm so tempted to bring this into restaurants around town! Why oh why, as a vegan, am I so often condemned to a generic bowl of berries for dessert, when they could so easily whip up something like this?? Serve the mangoes over vegan vanilla ice cream, or just eat them plain they're so delicious!

Slice 5 cups worth of mango into 1/2-inch wedges (about three mangoes). It took me a while to figure out how to properly slice a mango so as to retain the most fruit. First, peel the skin off the mango with a vegetable peeler. You'll notice that the mango has two sides that are slightly flatter, opposing one another. These are the sides you should cut off, using a good sharp knife. The pit of the mango extends into the two shorter sides, making it impossible to cut through. Once you have your two sides, cut into wedges like it's an apple or pear.

If that made no sense, follow this link:

Set aside your mango wedges. Combine 1/3 cup raw sugar and 1/4 cup water in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then continue cooking 3 minutes until golden, without stirring. Add one tablespoon vegan butter, cut into small wedges (such as Earth Balance) to the pan, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the mangoes and toss to coat, then cook for ten minutes until the mangoes are lightly browned, stirring frequently. (Confession: I think I should have cooked mine just a couple minutes longer for them to be sufficiently browned, so use the 'ten minute' cook time above loosely).

That's it! Now serve for dessert. Each 1 1/4 cup serving has 150 calories.

mango $6.00

p.s. if you do choose to spoon this as a topping over "ice cream" there's a new vegan brand on my radar screen. The Soy Cream from Double Rainbow comes in absolutely incredible flavors! These mangoes would probably be best over plain Vanilla Bean, but they also have Cinnamon Caramel, Blueberry, and Coffee Almond Fudge, to name just a few.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chilled Pea Soup with Mint Pesto

If you like, double the Mint Pesto recipe below and use the other half to toss over whole wheat pasta noodles as a main dish to this soup.

For the Mint Pesto: In a food processor, combine one tablespoon pine nuts, one small peeled garlic clove, 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint (don't tamp down in the measuring cup or you'll wind up with way too much), 1/4 cup grated "Parmesan" cheese, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. Puree until finely minced.

For the Parmesan, use the Vegan Mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods and grate it with a cheese grater.

Add two tablespoons water and a teaspoon and a half olive oil to the food processor. Process until blended. Set the pesto aside.

In a saucepan, melt one teaspoon vegan butter (such as Earth Balance). Add 1/2 cup chopped green onions and saute for two minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle one and a half tablespoons flour over the onions, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in one and a half cups soy milk (such as Silk) and a 14-oz can vegetable broth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, then cook for 3 minutes until slightly thick. Add a 16-oz package of frozen peas (unthawed) and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

A few notes on boiling (soy) milk. For some reason it always makes me nervous! (Perhaps I had a bad episode boiling milk in another lifetime...), so I always jump the gun, get anxious that it's taking too long to boil over medium heat so turn it up a notch, then worry constantly that the milk will burn to the bottom of the pan or too much will evaporate out. So first: be patient as the milk boils over medium heat. It will get there eventually! Secondly, the original recipe didn't specify whether or not I was supposed to keep stirring constantly during the 3 minutes after the mixture reached a boil. I erred on the side of caution and did so, but once the peas were in and the bubbles settled down, I only stirred "occasionally" for those 5 minutes.

Phew! My neuroses aside, now pour half of the pea mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. As always when blending hot liquids, remove the center piece from the blender's lid and hold a folded-up paper towel there instead. This allows steam to escape but prevents splattering. Pour the pureed mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon or spatula. Discard the solids. Now repeat all that with the remaining half of the pea mixture. Don't be alarmed if there's quite a lot of pea-solids to discard! You'll still come out with enough soup.

Stir in 6 tablespoons Mint Pesto (all of it, if you haven't doubled the above recipe), plus a 1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper. Cover and chill the soup until ready to serve.

This recipe makes 6 servings of 2/3 cup and 150 calories each. It would look even better in delicate little teacups! Garnish with mint sprigs.

pine nuts $5.99
mint $1.99
vegan 'parmesan' $3.39
green onions $0.98
plain soy milk $1.49
vegetable broth $1.19
frozen peas $1.29

Oh! And here's the Mint Pesto.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Leeks a la Grecque (Greek-Style Leeks)

This recipe translates to "Greek-Style Leeks", but it hails from France. "A la Grecque" simply refers to a sauce that generally consists of olive oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. These leeks are a great side to any vegan main dish - polenta, quinoa, lentils...

Remove the tops, outer leaves and roots from four leeks. Slice each leek in half lengthwise and rinse in cold water, then arrange in a single layer in a nine-inch round pie plate.

In a saucepan, combine one cup water, three tablespoons red wine vinegar, one teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, three fresh marjoram sprigs, three fresh oregano sprigs and one cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Pour the mixture over the leeks in the pie plate. Cover the plate with foil and bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes.

Remove the leeks from the pie plate with a fork or slotted spoon. Set the cooking liquid aside for later. Once the leeks cool to room temperature (about half an hour), cover and chill for two hours.

Flash forward! Two hours later: Take the reserved cooking liquid and return it to a boil. Strain into a bowl over a sieve, discarding the solids. Place two leek halves on each of four plates. Top each serving with 1/4 cup chopped, seeded tomato, and one and a half teaspoons chopped, pitted kalamata olives, one tablespoon of the reserved cooking liquid, and one tablespoon crumbled 'feta' cheese (such as the soy feta from Sunergia: Chop up one teaspoon fresh marjoram and one teaspoon fresh oregano, and sprinkle evenly over each of the four servings.

One serving is 120 calories. Bon appetit!

leeks: 4.90
red wine vinegar $4.49
marjoram sprigs $2.49
oregano sprigs $2.49
tomato $2.75
kalamata olives $5.99
'feta' $3.69

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Grilled Corn with Mint 'Butter'

What would the summer be without grilling? Alas, I find that, as a vegan, I am frequently leery of grilled food, because even well-meaning hosts ("I bought veggie burgers!") can quite simply not realize it matters that those veggie burgers are cooked on the same grill rack as beef, or tossed with meat-coated tongs. When in doubt, a great alternative is a grill pan over the stovetop. You get that same grilled taste, but without any of the meat residue.

For this recipe, combine together one tablespoon melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance:, a teaspoon and a half chopped mint, one teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. chopped cilantro, a dash of pepper, and a dash of salt.

Heat a cast-iron grill pan (or prepare your grill) over medium-high heat. Coat it with cooking spray and grill the corn for ten minutes, turning frequently.

Place on a platter and brush each ear of corn with the 'butter' mixture using a pastry brush. Each ear is 150 calories.

mint: $2.50
corn on the cob $4.00

Monday, May 26, 2008

Marinated Tomatoes with Lemon and Summer Savory

I should probably give you a good Memorial Day vegan entree for barbecues, but I promise you some of that later on in the summer. Right now, tomatoes are perfectly in season, and I could think of nothing better than to highlight that fact with this simple-as-can-be side dish. Bring it along to a Memorial Day barbecue, if you haven't already eaten it yourself!

Slice three tomatoes (about 1 lb. total) into six wedges each and place in a bowl.

Combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, one teaspoon raw sugar, one teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp savory (or 1/2 tsp chopped fresh savory, if you can find it!), 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of pepper and one minced garlic clove. Whisk it with a fork and then pour over the tomatoes, tossing gently to coat. Let stand for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Scoop out the tomatoes with a fork or slotted spoon. Each 1/2 cup serving is 40 calories.

tomatoes $5.83
savory $2.70

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Zucchini and Fennel Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Puree

This soup is loaded with veggies, something even vegans sometimes might not get enough of! It's also another fun way to use an immersion blender.

Preheat your oven to broil. Slice three red peppers in half lengthwise, discarding the seeds and membranes, and lay them cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Flatten with your palm. Broil for 20 minutes until the backs are blackened. Immediately transfer to zip-lock plastic bags and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove from bags and carefully peel off and discard the skins. Coarsely chop the peppers. Combine the peppers, ¾ teaspoon of olive oil, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper in the beaker attachment of your immersion blender (or a food processor) and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Coat a saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat. Add one cup thinly sliced onion, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring a couple times. Add one and a half cups thinly sliced fennel, along with 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds; cover and cook over medium-low for eight minutes. Remove lid, add 2 1/4 cups sliced zucchini and 2 cloves of garlic, and cook over medium-high heat for three minutes, stirring constantly.

Add one and a half cups vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add a dash of salt and a dash of pepper to the soup, and puree it all with an immersion blender (or regular blender) until smooth.

Serve one cup of soup with 1/3 cup roasted pepper puree on top. This recipe makes 3 servings of 100 calories each.

red peppers $6.94
fennel $2.13
zucchini $1.51
broth $2.79

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chocolate Malted Cookies

My best advice for vegan baking is this: don’t let it daunt you!

When I first began baking as a vegan, I assumed I could simply substitute. Egg substitute for eggs, soy milk for regular milk, vegan butter for the real thing etc. Half the time, my creations would come out great; the other half, cakes would collapse, pies wouldn’t really gel together, and I found myself a bit frustrated. Then I read an article about the chemistry of baking – what the butter does, the role that sugar plays in preventing flour from making gluten etc. etc. etc. So, armed with a few new tricks and a bit more awareness, I learned to tweak recipes more, and bake properly as a vegan.

That said, it’s always still a bit of an experiment, and I never know quite what I’ll get! This cookie recipe in particular posed a problem right off the bat just in reading the name: Chocolate Malted Cookies. Any recipe listing malted milk powder as the second ingredient had to be pretty dependent on it, right?

So I began to research. First, I thought to try barley malt powder, assuming it was the maltedness of it that would make a proper substitute. No websites confirmed this hunch though, so next I turned to soy powder. Soy powder – not soy flour! – advertised itself as being great in baking. I thought: malted milk powder vs. soy powder, seems pretty similar, so I took the plunge and bought it. Luckily for me and for you, it worked!

Grab a couple bowls and let’s get started.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup packed (organic) brown sugar, 6 tablespoons soy powder (such as Fearn’s), 5 tablespoons vegan butter, softened, 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup, one tablespoon vanilla extract, and the equivalent of one egg made from egg substitute.

For vegan butter, as always, I use Earth Balance ( For chocolate syrup, try Ahlaska! dairy free chocolate syrup, in a bottle eerily similar to the Hershey’s squeezable one, but without any of the animal ingredients. Here's the link:

For eggs, as always, I use Ener-G (

Beat it all with a mixer at low speed for two minutes until completely smooth.

In another bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt. When measuring out flour, I’ve learned this helpful tip: spoon it into measuring cups instead of scooping, then level with the backside of a knife. This ensures the proper weight of flour, which can be off by several ounces if you use the scoop method.

Slowly pour the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, beating at low speed to combine.

Here’s where I hit a common vegan snag: my mixture was crumbly and didn’t look like it would hold together well, while shaping cookies. Thinking quickly, I added another tablespoon of warm tap water. The recipe called for a large egg, whereas my egg replacer simply made standard sized eggs with two tablespoons water to a teaspoon and a half of the powder. Adding this one extra tablespoon of water seems to have done the trick, and I stirred it all together gently with a wooden spoon, abandoning the electric mixer.

Now gently stir in 1/2 a cup plus an additional 1/3 cup chocolate chips.

Yes, vegan ones exist! I used to use the vegan carob chips (available from several different companies), but found they had a slightly off-chocolate taste that made my vegan cookies obvious for what they were. This time, I discovered Whole Foods’ 365 brand vegan semisweet chocolate chips right there next to the regular ones. Before you could blink, they were in my shopping cart. Yum yum.

Shape the dough into 30 patties of about a heaping teaspoonful each. Another snag I’ve frequently encountered as a vegan was that my cookies didn’t spread out the same way normal ones do during baking. Then I read it was because butter actually aids that spreading! So this time, I cheated a little and gave my vegan butter a head start by smooshing the cookies into flattened discs before baking, instead of putting them into the oven as balls. This seems to have worked beautifully.

Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Remove from oven and let sit on the cookie sheet 2 minutes, then transfer over to wire racks to cool completely. If you don’t own a wire rack, sheets of wax paper on the countertop will do in a pinch.

soy powder $4.39
flour $3.39
chocolate chips $2.99

Friday, May 23, 2008


Ok, so last night's chips-and-dip variation was completely made from scratch, right down to the homemade chips. Here's a really quick version for a Friday night when you still want an impressive appetizer, but don't want to put in all the work!

Simply combine these 7 ingredients: 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon lime juice (fresh squeezed or from the bottle), 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of cumin, a dash of black pepper, and one ripe avocado, mashed.

Serve 2 tablespoons of the guacamole with 1-oz of store-bought baked tortilla chips for 130 calories. This recipe makes 8 servings. (I'm partial to the tortilla chips from Guiltless Gourmet myself:

Now if only that baseball team would win...

limes $1.00
avocado $1.99
tortilla chips $2.00

Now here's a question I have for other vegans. While the chips listed above are themselves vegan, they come with that ever-perplexing disclaimer: "made on equipment that also processes dairy, eggs, nuts..." etc. I find this disclaimer on the Whole Foods 365 brand, too, but love using the products that are themselves vegan, not to mention organic and good for you and on and on. But how strict are other vegans on this point? Do we assume that the trace amount of egg or dairy left behind on the machinery negligible? I'd love to hear thoughts!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Adobo Chips with Warm 'Goat Cheese' and Cilantro Salsa

Here's a tasty vegan appetizer to munch on while, say, watching a baseball game - a perfect activity for a spring evening. Only a couple of vegan substitutions need to be made.

Pop open a can of chipotle chiles canned in adobo sauce (these are normally sold in 7-oz cans). Remove enough of the chiles to equal two teaspoons chopped, and put in a bowl. Add one teaspoon of the adobo sauce. Reserve the rest of the chiles for another use.

Add to your chiles: 2 cups chopped cilantro, 1 cup chopped tomatillos (about 3), 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, and 1/4 cup lime juice. Cover and chill for one hour. While normally I cook with fresh squeezed limes, tonight I used bottled organic lime juice, and that seemed to work just as well.

While the salsa chills, combine 2 1/2 teaspoons more lime juice, an additional teaspoon of the adobo sauce, a teaspoon of canola oil, 1/2 tsp. paprika, and 1/4 tsp. cumin. Brush one 6-inch corn tortilla with a 1/4 tsp. of the mixture. Place another tortilla on top of the first, and brush with an additional 1/4 tsp of the mixture. Repeat until you have 8 tortillas. While they're stacked like that, cut into 6 wedges. Place the tortilla wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees. Combine 1/2 cup "cream cheese" and 1/4 cup "goat cheese" in a bowl, and stir until well blended. As always, my go-to vegan cream cheese is from Tofutti: For the goat cheese, I used the feta block from Sunergia:

Spoon the "cheese" mixture into a shallow ramekin, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

Serve 6 chips with 1 1/2 tablespoons "cheese" and 1/4 cup salsa, for 100 calories. 8 servings total

tomatillas $2.03
red onion $0.58
lime juice $2.99
corn tortillas $0.89
'cream cheese' $2.99
soy feta $3.69

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Red Lentil Stew with 'Yogurt' Sauce

Yay! I have a new toy to play with. The immersion, or hand, blender is a nifty device that allows you to puree soups and sauces right in the bowl without having to transfer to a blender or food processor and doing twice the amount of dishes. Mine was only about $25 but you can buy fancier models for more. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can also make this soup with a blender.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy:, and 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro. The original recipe actually called for using the immersion blender for this step as well, but I just stirred with a whisk. Set aside in the fridge to chill.

Heat one teaspoon canola oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion, 1 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper and 3 coarsely chopped garlic cloves. Saute for 8 minutes. Add one and a half teaspoons curry powder and saute an additional minute.

Add 2 & 2/3 cup vegetable broth. Take a 14.5-oz can of whole tomatoes. Add half of the tomatoes in the can to your pot, along with half of the liquid in the can (about 1/3 cup) and reserve the rest for another use. Bring the soup to a boil, then add 1 1/4 cup red lentils. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

I was about 1/4 cup shy of the full amount of red lentils, so made up the difference with some green ones that I also had at home. Nutritionally, they're about identical, so all that got changed was the red aesthetic of the soup. Lentils, incidentally, are a vegan powerhouse. They're a great source of protein (12 g per 1/4 cup!), and also have high levels of dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and minerals.

After the 30 minutes, stir in 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Using your immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Make sure to completely immerse the hand blender in the pot to avoid splattering, and not to do this over the hot stove. I am proud to report that it is a lot of fun to use. Stir in a dash of ground red pepper.

One cup of the lentil stew and two tablespoons of yogurt sauce = 270 calories. 4 servings.

plain soy yogurt $0.99
cilantro $1.49
onion $0.93
red bell pepper $2.10
broth $3.79
canned whole tomatoes $1.99

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Frozen Iced Tea

Here's another vegan alternative to ice cream. Make it in the afternoon so that it's ready by dinner time.

Pour three cups boiling water over three earl gray tea bags (or other black tea of your choice). Let steep for 10 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bags.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup water and one tablespoon corn syrup (I like the organic one from Wholesome Sweetners but according to, most brands should be vegan.

Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Add to the steeped tea, along with three tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature (about 1/2 an hour).

Pour into an 8x8 glass baking dish, cover and freeze for 6 hours. Once it's firm, remove from freezer and scrape with a fork until it is fluffy. Spoon into a freezable container and cover. This sorbet-like dessert will last in the freezer for one month. Garnish with lemon slices for a pretty presentation if you like. Each one-cup serving is 120 calories.

(Full disclosure: I was a bit too impatient, so my version came out a bit too watery. I highly recommend a) really letting the mixture cool to room temperature before freezing! and b) being generous with those 6 hours of freezing time...)

earl gray tea $4.69
lemons $1.58

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hot and Sour Soup

Another recipe easily available at Asian restaurants for most, but because of the egg, made taboo for the vegan. Here's a version that allows you to try it at home.

Place 5 dried shiitake and 5 dried woodear mushrooms in a bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let stand ten minutes, then drain and thinly slice. My supermarket did not currently have shiitakes, so I substituted dried portobellos in a pinch, but I would urge you to make sure you have woodears - their shape and texture are distinctive.

Bring 4 cups broth, 2 cups water, a tablespoon minced fresh ginger and a teaspoon minced fresh garlic to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms, reduce heat, and simmer for five minutes.

Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar (Eden Organic's, I know, is vegan:, one tablespoon soy sauce, a dash of black pepper, and 8 oz tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

Combine 1/4 cup water and 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, stirring well with a whisk. Pour into the soup and bring to a boil again; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Create the equivalent of 4 vegan eggs with a substitute (such as Ener-G Egg Replacer). Whisk very well, since the original recipe calls for egg white lightly beaten. Slowly pour the "eggs" into the broth, stirring gently but constantly. Obviously it's been a while since I've had the real thing, but these makeshift eggs do add the same egg-white-like consistency, body, and sheen to the soup.

Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Four servings of 1 3/4 cups each and 160 calories.

dried portobellos $4.99
dried woodear $2.99
broth $3.79
ginger $0.30
tofu $2.19
green onions $0.99

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Orecchiette with Cannellini Beans and Spinach

As with the last time I made an orecchiette recipe, I could not find the actual "little ears" pasta (see post from April). So once again, feel free to substitute small shells pasta instead - and just make sure there are no eggs/egg whites in the ingredients list.

Cook two cups dry pasta (6 oz) according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. (Note: I was halving this recipe, so while the original called for a large skillet, I assumed I could make half the recipe in a medium skillet. I advise against this; still use the large one because my medium skillet was nearly overflowing!). Add 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons chopped onion, 1/4 cup shredded carrot, and one teaspoon bottled minced garlic to the skillet; saute 3 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon shredded vegan "parmesan" (in my case, the mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods: Also add one teapsoon dried basil, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, one 14-oz can whole plum tomatoes, undrained, and 3/4 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained. Simmer it all for 5 minutes.

(Another note: I realized only as I went to cook this that I was out of dried basil! Dried oregano made a good substitute in a pinch. Also, the recipe called for chopping the plum tomatoes, but since it also called for them undrained, I poured the whole can into the skillet and broke up the tomatoes directly in the pan, rather than risk losing some of the canning liquid by chopping them separately on a cutting board).

After 5 minutes of simmering, add 3 oz pre-packaged spinach, and cook one more minute until it wilts. Add in the pasta, and toss to combine.

The yield for this recipe is 3 servings of one and a half cups each. Top each serving with an additional teaspoon of "parmesan" and 2 teaspoons of breadcrumbs. 400 calories per serving.

pasta $2.19
onion $0.82
bottled minced garlic $5.99
vegan cheese $3.39
canned plum tomatoes $1.99
cannellini beans $0.79
spinach $2.50

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Strawberry Agua Fresca

This refreshing sipper is about as easy and natural as a recipe comes.

Simply combine two cups water and three tablespoons raw sugar in a bowl. Stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. Place three cups halved strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth. Combine the water mixture, the strawberry puree and two tablespoons fresh lime juice in a pitcher. Stir together and serve!

You'll have 4, 1-cup servings of 80 calories.

Variations on this "fresh water", are popular throughout Mexico. Sip through a straw and garnish with strawberries!

strawberries $3.99
limes $1.00

Now here's why I made just a simple drink recipe tonight: most people probably think of going home to Mom's house to have a fresh home-cooked meal. But since I cook every night, my best idea of an indulgent vacation was eating right out the microwave. For this, I turn to the Amy's line of frozen foods. All organic, all vegetarian, and probably 50% vegan, Amy's was my lifeline in the microwave days of college. Due to sodium content (and the fact that I now love cooking) I consider it a rare indulgence, but tonight, that's what I'm eating. Please visit their website!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tropical Fruit Compote

Star fruit is the new bane of my existence! I went to eight - count them, 8 - grocery stores in an attempt to find this tropical fruit (more properly called the carambola). When even the grocers in Chinatown who spoke no English didn't have this product in stock, I knew it was time to find a substitute.

So I turned to Google, my dear good vegan friend, and found out that the star fruit is in season in the winter, hence all my difficulty (which made me mad at my cooking magazine because it's supposed to be seasonal and this is the May issue!) The best substitute offered up by the web is melon. So in the recipe below, I use one cup honeydew melon instead of one cup star fruit. But by all means, if you can find the elusive star fruit, use it!

In a small saucepan, combine one cup water and 1/2 cup raw sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for three minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add 4 (1/8-inch thick) slices of fresh ginger, 3 star anise, and one cinnamon stick. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the mixture reduces to about 1/2 cup. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind and 1/2 cup Riesling or other sweet white wine.

Here's the company email from Chateau St-Michelle (an easy to find, inexpensive California riesling) "Thank you for contacting Chateau Ste. Michelle. I checked with
our winemaker as was told that "all non-Riesling whites starting with 2003 vintage are NOT Vegan. So it looks like the Chateau Ste. Michelle
Rieslings and Eroica would be vegan friendly." That's just one option; Google for others

Cool the mixture completely. Once cool, strain through a sieve and discard the solids.

Meanwhile, chop up 3 cups peeled, cubed mango, 3 cups peeled, cubed papaya, and one cup star fruit (or melon). Pour the wine mixture over the fruit and chill for 30 minutes.

Rather fortuitously, I am home visiting my mom as I make this recipe and she had... a star-shaped cookie cutter! So to preserve the authenticity of this recipe as I take a picture for the blog, I cut out my melon into the shape of stars.

This compote is actually a dessert more than a fruit salad, so share with the whole family. Six, one-cup servings of 170 calories each.

organic sugar $3.40
Riesling $17
mango $4.98
papaya $4.38
honeydew melon $3.99

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oatmeal with Apples, Hazelnuts, and Flaxseeds

My evening was busy, so I thought I'd flip things around and do a breakfast recipe today - vegans need to get off to a hearty start just like everyone else!

This comes together easily, but not especially quick, so it's probably best suited for a weekend morning when you have more time.

Place two tablespoons hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and pour onto a paper towel. Rub the skins off through the towel. (Note: since I, too, am always a guinea pig with my recipes, this step didn't quite work for me. Some skins fell off instantly, while some were a bit more stubborn, and easier, I found, to rub away with my hands instead of the paper towels once they'd cooled a moment). Finely chop the hazelnuts and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups soy milk, 3/4 cup regular oats, 3/4 cup diced granny smith apple, 2 and a 1/2 tablespoons flax seed, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat - make sure not to boil it at a higher temperature, or the milk will burn! Once it boils, stir in a 1/4 tsp. vanilla, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes until thick.

Top with the chopped hazelnuts, a tablespoon and a half slivered almonds and a tablespoon and a half brown sugar (use an organic variety to avoid the bone-char process).

A nifty note on flaxseed, since this is a great source of Omega-3's for vegans. I found a brand that came in single-serve envelopes, of about 2 1/2 tbsp. each, perfect for sprinkling over any variety of foods. Available from Carrington Farms:

This recipe yields three servings of 2/3 cup and 260 calories each.

hazelnuts $6.99
soy milk $1.79
rolled oats $2.49
granny smith apple $1.38
flaxseed $7.99
slivered almonds $3.99

Finally, I've found a great, certified vegan wine that I want to share with everyone. I confess that wine is the one place I still cheat as a vegan. I won't drink the ones that I know for a fact use an un-vegan filtering method (i.e. Yellow Tail whites, tho oddly enough, Yellow Tail reds are okay...), but if I don't know how they filtered it, I ignore the fact.

This one though is certified vegan and organic and exceptionally crisp and refreshing. I've decided to dub it my "house wine". It's Guy Bossard's Muscadet from France. Tasting notes are crisp fruit flavors of apple and lemon with a slight spritz to it. It drinks great by itself as an apperitif, and would go wonderfully with flavors of basil, pesto, or risottos.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Snow Peas with Ginger

A snappy-quick, easy vegan side dish for any night of the week.

Trim the ends off three cups of fresh snow peas.

Heat one and a half teaspoons of sesame oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the snow peas, along with 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger. Saute for three minutes.

Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and a dash of black pepper.

Voila! Four, 1/2 cup servings of only 40 calories each.

Told you it was quick and easy! Colorful, too.

ginger $0.35
snow peas $4.14

p.s. One more vegan note on the night. One of my bigger fears of becoming vegan was the idea of giving up ice cream, but I was delighted to discover a thriving market of soy "frozen desserts" which taste, if not as good as the real thing, then - in my humble opinion - even better. Last night was the first time I tried the Soy Dream brand, so I want to highly recommend it! My other favorites are the "ice cream" from Whole Soy and that from Turtle Mountain.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Curry-Carrot Dip with Toasted Pita Chips

First, an update on last night! After asking my boyfriend if he double-dared me to eat the dried hot chiles (he prudently did not), I set them aside and found that the rest of the dish, while spicy, was perfectly palatable.

As for tonight, you actually need to begin this recipe the night before. Chop one and a half cups carrot, and place in a saucepan. Fill to a 1/2 inch above the carrots, and add 7-oz vegetable broth and two whole cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Place the carrots and the reserved liquid in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate over night.

Cut two, 6-inch whole wheat pitas into six wedges each. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray, then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until crisp.

While they're crisping, remove the carrots from the liquid with a slotted spoon. Place the carrots in a blender, along with 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of the liquid (discard the rest). Puree in the blender until smooth.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add one cup chopped onion and one minced garlic clove, and saute three minutes. Add a teaspoon and a half of curry powder and half a teaspoon cumin; saute another minute. Add the carrot puree and cook two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in two tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1/4 tsp. salt (or you could use garlic salt if you have it, but I didn't bother to buy it for this recipe), and a dash of black pepper. Stir to combine.

Serve with the pita chips. 1/3 cup of of the dip plus two chips is 160 calories.

carrots $1.99
pita $1.79
onion $0.66
cilantro $1.49

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tofu with Red Peppers and Black Bean Paste

This recipe posed quite a few vegan problems, so let me cover those separately before I get to the cooking itself. The first snag is right in the name itself: black bean paste.

Whole Foods almost never fails me, but while they carried black bean sauce (in the Asian food section) and black bean dip (with the salsas), I intuited that neither of these was correct. I went home and did a Google search and found that my hunch was correct; black bean sauce is not a substitute for black bean paste. What's more, black bean sauce has "caramel color" in the ingredient list, without stating the source, so I figured it was wiser to stay away.

So I Googled further and found that Korean grocers will carry black bean paste, called chunjang. But the ingredient list for this (posted online) included caramel. Now I knew it definitely wasn't vegan, since caramel is a blend of essentially burnt sugar with butter or cream.

The best I could come up with, then, was one post saying that black bean paste was similar to red curry paste. Aha! Something already in my fridge, and bearing a certified vegan sticker to boot (from Thai Kitchen: Hence my apologies, because this recipe should be properly titled 'Tofu with Red Peppers and Red Curry Paste'.

The second problem was the sherry called for in the recipe. I searched for vegan sherries, since (as with all sherry, wine, beer) although the product itself is vegan, the filtration process is not necessarily so. A Google search did turn up one vegan brand, but I couldn't track it down at my local liquor store. I did however, find Fino en Rama sherry which is unfiltered, I repeat unfiltered. I'm taking that as license to count it as vegan, but if you're even more hardcore than I am, I cannot help you. I would recommend, in that case, using a white wine that you know is vegan.

Phew! So all those logistics aside, let's cook!

Cut a 12.3-oz package of extra firm tofu into four, lengthwise slices. Lay flat on several layers of paper towels, and cover with additional layers of paper towel. Let stand for half an hour, pressing down occasionally. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.

Heat two teaspoons grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon minced garlic, one teaspoon ground ginger (or one tablespoon if you prefer to use fresh ginger), and 4 dried hot chiles (I chose chipotles - not quite as deadly as the other option in the store, the habanero). Saute for 3o seconds. Add two cups thinly sliced red bell pepper and saute three minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tofu cubes, along with two tablespoons sherry. Saute another three minutes. Add 1/3 cup chopped green onions and saute 30 seconds.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon black bean paste (in this case, my red curry paste), and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

Four, one-cup servings of 190 calories each.

There are a couple things about this recipe that perplexed me. The first is that the recipe said to cut "each block" of tofu in half lengthwise, which made me wonder if perhaps it called for two 12.3 oz packages, not one. Indeed, although the yield for the recipe was supposed to be 4 cups, mine measured out about 1 cup short. I leave it to you to make the call of whether to use one package or two.

The second issue that worried me is those dried hot chiles. Were they meant to be chopped?? Removed before eating?? The recipe never said. So here goes... if I post tomorrow night, you know I didn't have a four-alarm fire...

tofu $1.79
dried chiles $2.69
red bell pepper $2.69
sherry $10.00
green onion $0.99

Red Pepper Soup

This recipe takes a bit of time, especially because of the chopping in the prep work, so I don't recommend it for a busy night!

Preheat the broiler in your oven. Cut two red bell peppers in half, and discard the seeds and membranes. Lay on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil, skin sides up, and press flat with the palm of your hand. Broil for 15 minutes until the skins are blackened. Immediately put in zip-lock plastic bags and let stand 10 minutes, then carefully peel the skins away (don't burn your fingers!) and coarsely chop the peppers. Set aside.

Heat two teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add one and a half cups chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped shallot and two minced garlic cloves. Saute three minutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped carrot and 1/2 cup chopped celery and saute an additional two minutes.

Add in the chopped bell peppers, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (a blend of primarily celery salt, dry mustard, and a few extras like cinnamon: but I checked to make sure and yes, it's vegan), 1/4 tsp salt, a dash of black pepper, 1/4 hot sauce, and 28 oz of vegetable broth. The hot sauce I use, just FYI, is from Whole Foods' 365 Organic house brand. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for fifteen minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Pour half of the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining half of the mixture.

Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of three bowls. Top each serving with two teaspoons of vegan sour cream and two teaspoons chopped chives. The "sour cream" from Tofutti is so delicious you'd never know it wasn't the real thing. I highly recommend it, not just for this recipe, but any wide variety of sour cream uses!

Each bowl of soup has 140 calories.

red bell pepper $2.69
onion $0.68
shallots $0.56
tomato paste $0.79
Old Bay seasoning $2.79
broth $3.79
chives $2.49

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ginger Fried Rice

Ah, fried rice! One of those delicious Chinese take-out foods of my childhood. And yet once an adult... not vegan, due to the egg. So the next time everyone else is ordering Chinese take-out, don't miss out! Just make this vegan version.

Ahead of time, cook one bag of boil-in-a-bag instant short-grain brown rice, to yield two cups cooked rice. Spread thinly in a shallow bowl, cover and chill for eight hours. Chilling the rice ahead of time makes the recipe easier later on so the rice doesn't stick together, but if you need to skip this step, it's not the end of the world.

Flash forward eight hours, and pull out a large skillet. Heat a teaspoon and a half of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add one and a half tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger and one tablespoon finely chopped garlic, and saute for ten minutes, stirring often. It will be crisp and brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add one cup thinly, vertically sliced onion. Cover and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle the onion with a dash of salt, then increase the heat to medium-high and stir in your chilled rice from earlier. Cook four minutes, stirring frequently.

Here's the part where I took a gamble; skip this step if you don't need to be quite so exact with your vegan substitutes! Make a well in the center of the rice, and add the equivalent of one egg, according to your egg substitute package directions. Stir the "egg" so it scrambles slightly, then stir gently to incorporate the "egg" into the rice. It will have a rubbery, approximately-egg like taste and texture, but again, if you don't care about being exactly faithful to the original recipe, skip this step.

Remove the skillet from heat and add in the reserved garlic mixture, two tablespoons chopped green onions, one tablespoon soy sauce and one teaspoon sesame oil. Stir to combine.

Two, one-cup servings of 380 calories each.

ginger $1.04
onion $1.01
green onions $0.99

Friday, May 9, 2008

Easy Meatless Manicotti

I feel like I'm about due to make a hearty vegan entree. So here it is!

Even if it's made without meat, manicotti is still mainly a cheese dish, in the non-vegan world. This recipe called for three kinds: shredded mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, and cottage cheese. For the first two, the Vegan Mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods will do. ( Cottage cheese, much like ricotta in earlier recipes, can be easily substituted with crumbled firm tofu.

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup shredded "mozzarella", 8 oz crumbled firm tofu, and 2 additional tablespoons of whatever vegan cheese you choose for the "Parmesan". Add 3/4 tsp. oregano, a dash each of salt and pepper, and half a 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed. Squeeze out some of the excess liquid from the spinach with paper towels first. Half the package should be about 2/3 cup.

Mix well, and spoon three tablespoons of the mixture into each of 7 (uncooked) manicotti tubes. As always with pasta, just make sure that eggs do not feature in the ingredient list of whatever brand you buy.

Coat an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 3/4 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the stuffed manicotti in a single layer, and top with an additional 3/4 cup sauce. Pour half a cup of water in the dish, then sprinkle with a final 1/4 cup of the shredded vegan cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Let stand ten minutes before serving.

The yield is three full-servings of 2 manicotti each, for 330 calories. Plus one leftover manicotti that you can fight over for seconds!

vegan cheese $3.39
tofu $2.19
frozen spinach $2.00
tomato-basil sauce $2.69
manicotti $2.49

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Baguette with Homemade Aioli

I always assumed that aioli was one of those traditional French foods I would just have to go without as a vegan - until I found this recipe, that is, and simply adapted it! (Aioli, for those who don't know, is a homemade mayonnaise, which is essentially just egg white and olive oil - but not in this version).

In a food processor, combine 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic, a dash each of salt and pepper, and one large "egg white". For the vegan version, that simply means the equivalent of one egg, according to your egg replacement brand's directions. Whisk it with a fork so it's foamy, then add to the food processor. Blend together. Add in 1/4 cup olive oil. Blend.

Serve with slices of baguette. Each one ounce slice of bread plus one teaspoon of aioli is 120 calories. This recipe makes enough for a full 16 servings.

Dijon mustard $2.50
baguette $1.29

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Brown Sugar-Walnut Divinity

If you've never made candy before, it's tricky! But ultimately, worth it. I've only attempted candy recipes a few times before, but the key, I've learned, is this: be prepared to work very very very quickly.

So for this recipe, combine 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (organic to avoid the un-vegan refining process), 1/2 cup water and one teaspoon cider vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir just until the sugar melts. Cover, reduce heat (to medium-low; I made the mistake of turning it down a tad too low), and cook three minutes. Uncover and cook another ten minutes, or until a candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees.

Candy thermometers, just F.Y.I, are among the coolest pieces of kitchenware out there, in my opinion. Not only are they incredibly useful, but it's so fun to watch the numbers rise to degrees in the two-hundreds, numbers that you would never really be aware of, if this little thermometer wasn't keeping track for you!

While the temp is rising, combine 1/8 tsp salt and one "egg" (one and a half tsp. powder to two tablespoons water, if using Ener-G Egg Replacer, or equivalent if using another brand) in a bowl. Beat with a mixer until foamy. Once the brown sugar mixture reaches 244 degrees, remove from heat and gradually add to the "egg", beating at medium speed. Beat in 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts.

Working quickly, spoon the mixture out by teaspoonfuls onto sheets of wax paper that you've previously laid out. The yield should be thirty dollops, each of which is 60 calories. Let them cool completely before you scoop them off the wax paper!

A confession: I got a little impatient (and, okay, nervous) and took my brown sugar mixture off the heat at 239 degrees since it had already been on the burner for over ten minutes. This meant that my candies were more liquid than they should have been, and even once cooled, they didn't crystallize as I believe was intended. Then again, this might have been a sad downside to using a vegan egg instead of a real egg. Whatever the case, I wish you better luck with your endeavor!

But mistakes aside, these little candies were - just as their name suggests - divine.

brown sugar $3.39
walnuts $4.99

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Country Lima Beans

Sure, you could just buy frozen packaged lima beans at the grocery store, but there's something infinitely more satisfying about doing it the old-fashioned way.

Buy 1/2 pound (1 cup) dried lima beans, and place in a bowl covered with water to two inches above the beans. Let stand for 8 hours. (It's kinda like the grown up version of watching sponge toys expand in the bathtub!) Drain the beans, then place in an 8x8 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with a dash of black pepper and a 1/4 tsp salt.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Add one and a half slices of chopped 'bacon'.

Wait, what? Bacon? you ask. Yes! Dear reader, having become a vegetarian at the age of thirteen for purely ethical, animal-rights reasons, I never understood the allure of fake meats. Being a vegetarian was supposed to be a sacrifice of sorts, solidarity with the animals for their suffering, as well as a personal renunciation for those who could not speak for themselves. Besides which, the lingering fear lurked in my mind that, should I eat one of these imitation meats, I would, well, miss the real thing.

It was not until last summer, eleven years into vegetarianism (and five into veganism), that I wanted to make a potato salad recipe that called for one slice of crumbled bacon. What harm, I decided, after all these years, to finally try the vegan bacon lurking near the tofu in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. These little slices of mostly soy protein do look, disturbingly, like the real thing, and when heated in a skillet (it only takes 3 minutes to cook them), they give off a very bacon smell and a very bacon sounding sizzle (at least to a vegan). And yet it had so many years since I ate the real thing that I wasn't disturbed by it! Although I minimize my 'bacon' consumption (i.e. eating the leftovers of a package if I need to buy it for a recipe), it is a nice addition to the vegan diet every once in a while. And gosh, it goes without saying that even if you're not an animal rights activist, this is healthier for you than the real thing! Buy yours from Lightlife here: (The bacon is certified vegan, but careful; not all of their products are; some have eggs.)

So anyway, heat your chopped 'bacon' for three minutes until lightly crisped. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Add 1/2 cup chopped carrot and 1/2 cup chopped onion to the pan and saute for five minutes.

Add the onion mixture, the 'bacon', one cup of water and one tablespoon of butter substitute, softened (i.e. Earth Balance: Stir gently to combine.

Cover the dish, and bake at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours, stirring at the one hour mark and the two hour mark.

Each hearty, one-cup serving contains 250 calories (4 servings total).

lima beans $0.97
smart bacon $2.69
carrot $0.42

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mint Limeade

Usually, I'll have a glass or two of wine in the evening, but here's a great non-alcoholic beverage that's incredibly refreshing once the evenings begin to warm up.

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, 7 tablespoons raw sugar, and a tablespoon and a half of chopped fresh mint. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar dissolves, stirring often. Remove from heat and let stand ten minutes. Strain over a sieve over a bowl, discarding the solids. Add another cup of water and 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes). Stir well, then pour 3/4 cup into each of two glasses.

Serve over ice cubes and garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.

This makes enough for two servings of 150 calories each, but multiply the recipe accordingly if you have a crowd!

mint $1.99
limes $1.32

Sunday, May 4, 2008

New Orleans Okra

An easy side dish with the flavors of the south.

In a medium sauce pan, heat a teaspoon and a half of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add one cup chopped onion and saute 5 minutes. Add 1/4 finely diced green bell pepper and 1/4 finely diced celery, along with a teaspoon and a half of tomato paste, and cook another two minutes. (Apparently, onions, green bell pepper and celery are known as the "trinity" in New Orleans cooking).

Add one, 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained, and 1/4 tsp ground red pepper. Cook for ten minutes until the sauce thickens. Add 3/4 lb. fresh okra, trimmed and chopped into slices (about two cups worth). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add in a dash of salt.

The yield is four, side-dish servings of 3/4 cup each, 110 calories.

onion $0.98
tomato paste $0.79
diced canned tomato $1.19
okra $2.55

A few other, none-recipe related points. I used to take those chocolate calcium chews for women every day, until I could no longer in good conscience do so, since they contain milk. I keep forgetting to mention that I have found a vegan alternative from Nutrition Now! Make sure to buy the fruit flavored ones, though, because their chocolate version does contain dairy.

Also, to celebrate the return of baseball season, my boyfriend and I decided to get baseball gloves. This posed a bit of a problem, however, because I knew I didn't want to buy leather. Well, lo and behold, it's possible to buy an all-vegan glove, care of the great craftsmanship at Carpenter Trade Company. They make each glove custom-made to fit the hand, and 100% from synthetic, man-made materials. Mine arrived yesterday, and it, well, fits like a glove. I want to spread the word!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Roasted Potato Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

This side dish is a great way to highlight fresh mint. It's also easily portable for a Saturday afternoon picnic!

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups two-inch trimmed green beans, 1 1/2 cups 1-inch square cut red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, 1/4 cup vegetable broth, two sliced garlic cloves, one pound small red potatoes, quartered, and one vidalia onion, peeled and quartered. Toss well and place in a 13x8 glass roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Baked at 400 degrees for twenty minutes, covered with aluminum foil.

Remove the foil and stir, and bake an additional forty minutes, uncovered, stirring halfway through. Let stand 5 minutes, then place back in the large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup chopped mint, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, one tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and a dash of ground pepper. Drizzle over vegetables. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This makes just over 4 one-cup servings, of 140 calories each.

green beans $0.85
red bell pepper $1.84
mint $1.99
red potatoes $3.99
vidalia onion $0.94

Friday, May 2, 2008

Berry-Filled Cinnamon Crepes

Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you need to pass on the dessert course! Here's a delicious little dessert for two. Make the crepe batter in the afternoon ahead of time and then the rest will come together quickly at night.

In a blender, combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup soy creamer (such as Silk), 1/4 cup regular soy milk, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract and the equivalent of two large eggs.

My favorite egg substitute is Ener-G Egg Replacer. One and a half teaspoons of the powder (made from potato starch and tapioca flour, mainly), plus two tablespoons of water = one egg! It works great for baking (although I've had a few mishaps in the past...). It can also be beaten like egg whites, should a recipe call for such, or, if the recipe calls for just the egg yolks, simply use one tablespoon of water instead of two.

This recipe was easy, though, simply calling for 2 whole eggs. That's one tablespoon of the powder to four tablespoons of water. Combine well with a whisk before adding in with the rest of the ingredients.

Puree the mixture in the blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate at least one hour, but up to 12 hours.

When you're ready, heat an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray, remove from heat and pour in 1/4 cup of the batter, instantly spreading to coat the entire bottom of the skillet. Return to heat and cook for about one minute (a little over) until the crepe can shake free from the pan after you carefully loosen the sides. Flip it over and cook an additional twenty seconds, then remove from pan and cool on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining batter. There's enough for 8 crepes; however, the dessert recipe below only requires 2. But don't get cocky! Crepes are hard, and you're probably going to need some of that batter for "practice" rounds. Um, okay, I had six for practice and wound up with just two for my recipe. I've only made crepes once before...

Here's a picture of my best crepe:

For the berry filling, simply combine 1/4 cup raspberries, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup blackberries, 1/4 cup quartered, small strawberries, 1 tablespoon raw sugar and 1 banana, sliced, in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for four minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon 1/2 cup of the berry mixture onto the center of each of two crepes, and fold the crepes over the berries. Yum! (240 calories each)

Cost: (sorry it's so high, the fruit...)
soy cream $1.79
soy milk $1.49
egg substitute $5.49 (it'll last you a long time...)
raspberries $4.99
blueberries $3.99
blackberries $4.99
strawberries $4.99
banana $0.27

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tortilla Soup with Dried Chile, 'Fresh Cheese', and Avocado

This is one of those recipes that just feels very, well, culinary. Put on your chef's toque and let's get started!

Cut 3 (6-inch) corn tortillas into 1/4 inch strips, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with cooking spray. I love the one I found at Whole Foods because even though it has "butter flavor" it makes sure to specify that it is "vegetarian, from a non-dairy source", and carries the certified Vegan sticker. (From Spectrum:

Add 3/4 cups + two tablespoons coarsely chopped onion, and 2 whole, peeled garlic cloves; saute for 7 minutes until golden. Place the onion mixture plus one cup chopped tomato in a blender and blend until smooth. Leave the mixture there for a minute, because you need the saucepan for another use!

Recoat the bottom of the pan with cooking spray, and add one dried ancho chile. Saute for 60 seconds. Remove from pan and let cool, then remove the stem and chop. Set aside 3 teaspoons of the chile for this recipe. If you have any left over, reserve it for another use. I was a tad confused at this step of the recipe, because my chile stayed very hard and brittle, and was easier to "crumble" into pieces that chop with a knife. However, I'm assuming this is probably the way it should have been because, later on, the recipe said to sprinkle each serving with the "crumbled toasted chile." Here's hoping!

Now, pour the pureed onion mixture back into the pan, still over medium-high heat, and simmer it for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. At the end, it should be nearly the consistency of tomato paste. Add 3 cups of vegetable broth, along with one teaspoons of dried epazote. Bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover, reduce heat, and cook for thirty minutes.

Epazote? you ask. I was excited, too; a spice I'd never heard of before! Turns out epazote is popular in Mexican cuisine, and has a pungent, licorice flavor to it. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find it, but need not have worried. Mine came care of Penzey's Spices in Grand Central Terminal (incidentally a great place to stock up on all sorts of spices...)

Once the thirty minutes are up, strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl and discard any solids. Ladle 3/4 cup of soup into each of three bowls. Top each with 2 tablespoons 'cheese', 1 tablespoon diced avocado, 1/3 cup of the tortilla strips, one teaspoon of the dried chile, and 1 lime wedge. Each serving has 170 calories.

Fresh cheese, or queso fresco, is another popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine. The U.S. version is "soft, mild, and crumbly." The vegan version is the feta block from Sunergia foods.
I went with the Mediterranean Herb flavor.

corn tortillas $0.89
onion $1.00
tomato $2.27
broth $3.79
epazote $2.39
"fresh cheese" $3.69
avocado $1.50
lime $0.33

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance