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Archive for the ‘vegan’ Category

I try not to preach about veganism on this blog and in my life.  When people ask me why I am vegan, I usually keep my answer short and sweet (“For the animals, for my health, and for the planet.”)  If people ask more questions, I am happy to answer them the best that I can, but I can only speak for myself and I don’t pretend to be an activist.  I try to lead a healthy vegan life and let the delicious food and my own health and happiness speak for themselves.  But something has happened recently that really frustrates me.  I’m sure you’ve heard about it – the massive egg recall.  And you may or may not have heard of the investigators’ horrific findings upon visiting these farms.  Unfortunately, places like this are where most of our food comes from.  If you don’t think that is so, ask yourself how this could happen.  How could someone get away with this for so long?  Why did over 1300 people have to become physically ill before the problems at the DeCoster egg factories were “uncovered”?  Do you really think your health and safety – or the animals, or the planet – are being protected?

You can read more about the DeCoster egg recall, well on just about any news site, but here is an article from The Huffington Post.  And here is an outstanding post by a local Des Moines chef who re-emphasizes the importance of buying local in light of this recent recall.

I want to talk a little bit about my own Vegetarian Tipping Point.  On July 4th 2006, I had the day off from work and we were relaxing around the house.  We grilled some food (steak, salmon, and asparagus) and watched some lazy TV.  You know, I hear all the time about how television is rotting our brains, but I happened to catch a show on The History Channel that would literally change my life forever.  The show was called Modern Marvels:  The Butcher, and it explored the various methods of meat processing throughout history up to modern times.  Before I watched this show, I hadn’t really thought much about where my food came from.  I liked food that tasted good and so I ate it (and plenty).  There was something about the way they showed the live animals being prepared for slaughter and the various stages of processed carcasses and raw meat, that deeply disturbed me. That was the last time I ate meat.  My reasons for becoming (and staying) vegan have changed and evolved since then, and they are even slightly different from day to day – but food safety concerns were one of the first things that made me re-examine my diet.  Whenever there is a massive recall like this, it makes me thankful to be vegan.

Now, I will step off my soapbox and present you with some (hopefully) useful information about vegan egg alternatives.  I’ve never felt deprived or like I was missing out on anything since becoming vegan, and substitutions like these are what make that possible.  But you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these foods, either!

Egg Substitutes

Ener-G Egg ReplacerThis commercial product is made mostly of potato and tapioca starches and is mixed with water to make a slurry (I love that word) and then added to your recipe.  I’ve used this product with success in cookies (like my Chocolate Chip Cookies), muffins, and pancakes.

Fruit puree (like applesauce, mashed banana, or pumpkin) – These can be used in baked goods like muffins, quick breads, and cakes.  They work best in recipes that have additional leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder (or both).  Usually, 1/4 cup of fruit puree can be subbed for 1 egg.

Tofu – Silken tofu works well in dense baked goods like brownies, and one major bonus is that it’s virtually flavorless.  In recipes, 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu subs for 1 egg. I’ve also used silken tofu successfully in cheesecake, pumpkin pie, and chocolate “pudding” pie.  Regular tofu can be used as a substitute for cooked eggs in things like quiches, tofu scramble, fritatta, and even egg salad.

Flax seed – The flax egg is one of my favorites because it’s affordable and it works so well in baked goods like cookies, muffins, cakes, and quick breads.  It does add a slight nutty flavor and can lend a “grainy” texture to things like pancakes, though honestly I view this as a bonus.  There are a few different formulas for flax eggs, but the one that I use is 1 Tablespoon of ground flax seed mixed with 3 Tablespoons of water to sub for 1 egg.  Combine and let stand for about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens, then add to your recipe as directed.

Chia seed – I haven’t experimented much with this substitution myself, but you can use a chia egg in the same way you would use a flax egg.  Mix 2 Tablespoons of chia and 1/2 cup water and let stand for 10-15 minutes.  This will make 1/4 cup of chia “gel” which can be subbed for 1 egg.

– In savory recipes like meat (or veggie) loaves, eggs are often used as a binder.  In these cases you can use something starchy like breadcrumbs, oats, or even cooked rice or quinoa to help hold things together.

– Lastly, I want to mention black salt or kala namak.  Commonly used in Indian cuisines, black salt has a very sulphury flavor and aroma, and is said to give faux egg dishes an eggy flavor that is otherwise difficult to duplicate.  I haven’t tried it myself, but I think I need to!

Vegan Alternatives for popular Egg Dishes

Tofu scramble – This is one of my favorite things to make because it’s so easy, tasty, and versatile.

Vegan Frittata – I am remembering how much I liked this broccoli frittata , and thinking I need to make it again very soon!

Deviled Eggs (Potato Angels) – This is not my recipe, but I’ve been wanting to try these

Eggs Benedict featuring the Vegan Poached Egg – This is from one of my favorite newly-discovered blogs, Meet the Shannons.  They have so many recipes I’m dying to try.

Eggless Egg Salad – I used to buy this salad pre-made from my co-op’s deli and I’ve always thought I should try to figure out my own recipe.  This is it!

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Eggless Egg Salad – Recipe

I’ve bought versions of this salad from delis before, and always loved it.  I knew it would be easy to make my own, and this is my result.  The verdict?  This stuff is good.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had real egg salad, but I have to think this is pretty close.  The texture of the tofu really mimics the hardboiled egg white, and the diced avocado (not in any salad ive had, and added at the end) lends a richness like the fatty egg yolk and really takes this salad to the next level.  You can customize this however you’d like – add in some different herbs or veggies (like celery, red onion, even carrot), or leave all the extras out for a very basic salad.

Eggless Egg Salad

Ingredients
1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (I used Westsoy brand)
4 green onions, white and light green parts only, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons pickle relish (dill or sweet) or chopped pickle (optional)

1 small avocado, diced

Dressing
1/4 cup Vegenaise
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
squeeze fresh lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Directions
In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix until blended together.

In a separate larger bowl, crumble, crush, or dice tofu.  Stir in remaining ingredients except avocado, and mix in the dressing until well combined.  Let the salad sit for a couple of hours in the fridge so that all the flavors have a chance to blend together.  Just before serving, stir in the avocado.

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So, Sunday I had a fabulous day with fellow n00b vegan diet follower, Mandy! I’m going to be frank…it’s been my experience that it’s not as easy following a vegan diet (or even a vegetarian diet) in the south as I would have hoped, but I really can’t be that surprised. I live in Alabama, which is consistently ranked as the first or second fattest state in the country. Sorry folks, but it’s true…While we do have a decent amount of options for healthy living (Manna Grocery here in town, Whole Foods is about an hour away, etc.), it’s not as readily available as some other areas in the country. I also find that while I’ve met quite a few vegetarians in the south, I’ve only met less than a handful of people following a vegan diet so far (though I hope for that to change).

Thank goodness one of them is the dear sweet Mandy! Mandy is actually a former student of mine…I taught her college speech a few years back when she was in nursing school! And, she was the one who kindly pulled out my drains after my tummy tuck back in December (click here to see that video…it’s pretty gross, but pretty neat if you’re into that kind of thing…and yes, I was still drugged up in the video! haha). I adore Mandy!

I think Mandy’s blog title is fitting (Southern Girl Goes Vegan) because it’s really not all that common here. But, that doesn’t deter her or myself from trying to find the best possible healthy eating for us for the rest of our lives…

ANYWAY…so, Sunday was a get together day. We met up to spend a day eating and shopping. We had a brief pit stop at Starbucks where I got an iced soy chai latte, as well, I was out pretty darn late the night (3:30 a.m.!!!) before and needed a pick me up (no, this isn’t a regular occurrence).

Then we headed out to Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham, which is one of the few vegan friendly restaurants in our area. I LOVE Bottletree. Such a fun, hilarious environment with AWESOME food, with many of their menu items exclusively vegan (did I mention this is rare in the south??)…Mandy had never been before, so she was excited.

We decided we’d get two separate brunch dishes and split them. Wise decision. We’re pretty smart. ha.

Here are some pictures from brunch at Bottletree:

Mandy is all hippy!

Funny sign!

Too funny!

Mandy sips it up!

Okre!

Pickled okre? We're in the south, of course!

Woot!

Holla!

DELICIOUS vegan brunch!

Sweet Delta Slinger: Homemade sweet potato biscuit open-faced with 2 hand-pattied soy sausages covered in vegan mushroom and sage gravy, served with a side of greens. This was soooo awesome and we both gobbled up our portions!

Andre the Giant: A hearty meal of veggies and tofu sauteed in nutritional yeast, served over seasoned black beans and yellow corn stone-ground grits. This was really good too, but we both admitted that the Sweet Delta Slinger won out in this vegan brunch battle. Still worth every penny (both dishes were $7.50, quite a steal if you ask me).

After eating brunch at Bottletree, we headed to Western Supermarkets to try the ever so blog popular drink, kombucha (at the suggestion of fellow Alabama blogger, Matt). I have to admit I was pretty pumped. I’ve been wanting to try kombucha for AWHILE now because everybody RAVES over it (especially Averie at Love Veggies and Yoga).

So, we purchased some and tried them out in the parking lot (no we could not wait). Here’s what ensued:

Kombucha!

Toast...to upcoming nastiness! And man, I look rough!

Ah, we were naive!

Seriously...so nasty!

Yep...I don't have a clue what is in store for me!

So.not.good. I don't care if it's healthy for me...

People. I don’t care. We both thought it was BEYOND disgusting. NO THANK YOU. People make fun of me all the time because I can really stand and eat/drink some pretty gross stuff (my pre workout Brendan Brazier fitness drink comes to mind). No thanks. No thanks at all. I’m fine without kombucha. BOTH types were just plain gross. GROSS. It was like tasting pissy vinegar. Ugh. Maybe it was this brand? I don’t know…but it took us FOREVER just to drink 1/3 of it and then I threw the rest of mine away. Gross. No thanks. Just gross.

We laughed about it though and I’m glad I finally tried it…but, um, no.

After that, we headed over to Whole Foods (the only one in Alabama, sadly) where we spent a good 3 hours shopping for various groceries. Yeah, that’s what I adore about Mandy. She is not a clothes shopper at all (like me). But, man, put us alone in Whole Foods and we could spend all day there! I loved shopping with Mandy. She’s really informed and I think we compliment each other with our vegan diet n00bness. Got some really awesome goodies, and even ran into a long time crush of mine who now works at Whole Foods (le sigh).

My loot from Whole Foods!

Not pictured: Luna & Larry’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Coconut Milk ice cream (in my freezer).

Took a nap after shopping (what can I say…shopping wears me out). Then Mandy and I headed out for a fun run by the lake. We also stopped at an elementary school and did “box jumps” and football drills on their field. I think we did roughly 3 miles and it was super fun. It’s so nice to have a local vegan diet friend. REALLY nice. And add that to the knowledge that fellow candytocarrots blogger and no-longer-vegan-n00b Lindsay has, I feel like I’m building a good support system circle. And that’s key.

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