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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

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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I know it’s very un-Iowan but we just had our first sweetcorn of the summer!  It was absolutely delicious, though, and I’ll be getting some more this weekend.  I served the corn with these Chile Chickpea Burgers – an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while kind of loosely inspired by falafel.  I’ve tried making bean burgers before but they always turned out too bland for my tastes.  I remedied that by adding a can of green chiles and some typical falafel flavors like garlic and lemon.

These chickpea burgers are just a little spicy but you could make them more or less spicy by adjusting the spices or adding hot sauce.  Green chiles are mild so don’t be afraid of using a whole can.  This recipe made 7 patties using a 1/2 cup measuring cup.  It’s kind of an odd number of burgers to have, but they are great as leftovers and we’ve been eating them all week on salads and in wraps, like so:

I served mine with salsa on top but they would be good with guacamole, hummus, or tzatziki too.   I used coconut oil, but you could easily replace with olive or other oil of your choice.

Chile Chickpea Burgers

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons ground flax
2 Tablespoons water
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded carrots (about 1 large)
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 (4oz.) can whole green chiles, drained
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 a lemon)
salt & pepper

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Make your “flax egg” by combining the ground flax and 2 Tablespoons of water.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes until thickened.

Place all ingredients (including flax egg) in a food processor and blitz away until it’s all combined.  You may have to add a little more water – the mixture should be moist enough to hold together but not too sticky.

Scoop into 1/2 cup mounds on a lightly greased (I used olive oil in my misto) baking sheet.  With your hands or a rubber spatula, form them into burger-sized patties that are about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.  Bake on a lower rack for 25 minutes and then gently flip them over.  If they don’t flip easily, return them to the oven for 5-10 more minutes and try again.  After flipping, bake for about 15 more minutes (will depend on the size, I baked mine for 40 minutes total).  You can tell when they are done because they will get slightly golden brown.

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I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted, so here’s an update.

Farrell’s is over.  The last week just so happened to be the same week of a record-breaking flood in my city.  We had water in our basement and spent several days cleaning up from that.  The day we were supposed to have our final testing, pretty much the whole town was shut down or chaotic.  The University where I work was even closed and that never happens, ever.  Even once the floodwaters receded and our basement dried out, the town was under emergency water conservation orders and a boil order since our drinking water was potentially contaminated.  In the end we were fine and a lot luckier than some people who lost everything in the flood.  I’m actually writing this post from a sketchy laundromat because we lost our washing machine in our basement flood.  I’m trying to remember that I’m lucky that’s all I lost, even as I was fishing a dead cricket out of a washing machine basin before I threw my clothes in. We had a lot of stuff in our basement that had to be hauled out and much of it was spread all over the main floor of my house until things dried out down there and we were able to go through everything.

So as far as Farrell’s, it definitely fizzled out that last week.  They told us we could make up our final testing the following Saturday but I was out of town, so I never got to do mine.  I took my own measurements and did a few of the tests and I will post the “results” in another post.  I have to say I’m pretty disappointed, but what can you do.  Right now I’m trying to get back to running.  I’d like to get my base built back up to 3 or 4 miles and then start training for a longer race.

On top of all of that, a few days after the flood I was scheduled to host a bridal shower for my sister!  I was thrilled to get out of town but I had a hard time relaxing after that crazy week.  The shower ended up going well, and I have my mom and my aunt to thank for all their help!  I had to scrap some of my original plans, but I did end up making several vegan things – Black Bean Pasta Salad, a fresh fruit salad, Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes, Cream Cheese Mints, and Cream Cheese Cucumber Dill Sandwiches.  Everything went over really well – we hardly had any food left!  And people didn’t even know things were vegan until I told them.
The spread:

Then, the day after the shower was my birthday!  I usually like to go to the Iowa State Fair for my birthday, since it always falls close.  I wasn’t sure if we would be able to make it this year since I was out of town the first weekend, but we had a chance to go yesterday and I’m glad we did!  It was very hot and humid – we tried to stay hydrated and pace ourselves.  My favorite parts were the goats and the sky lift.

Luke cooled off with some ice cream. It was the perfect day for it, I found myself wishing aloud that the fair had non-dairy ice cream!

There were some amazing flowers, fruits, and veggies, like these:

And this “biggest cabbage” award winner, which I just thought was so beautiful:

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  Things have been crazy with school starting tomorrow (not for me, but at work), and I’m still trying to get back to some normalcy in my routine and around my house.  I have been cooking very little, but I plan to get back into it this week, so be on the lookout for some good vegan eats! Thanks for sticking with me and I promise to post more regularly. I missed blogging!

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This weekend marked my first go at vegan cupcakes, believe it or not.  I figured, with the cupcake craze finally catching up in Ames, I should get with the program.

These are the Crimson Velveteeen Cupcakes (aka Red Velvet) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I paired them with the Vegan Cream Cheese Icing from the book too. I won’t repost the recipe here, but I will tell you that you can find it if you do a little googling. They turned out more brown than red, for sure. I even used gel food coloring! They are pretty dark though, so I’m not sure what I could do to make the red pop more. Any ideas?

They are tasty, nonetheless, and I’m sending the rest to work with my husband so I don’t eat them all!

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These are some things I’ve recently tried and my reviews.

1.)  Enjoy Life Foods Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was in the mood for cookies but I was shopping at HyVee (big grocery store).  They of course had Oreos and some Newman’s cookies, but they also had a bunch of products from Enjoy Life and I decided to try these cookies.  There were a few other types of vegan cookies in the gluten-free/allergen-free section, but I got these specifically because they were supposed to be chewy – my favorite kind of cookies!  There were 12 small cookies in the box, and they were $3.69.  Not a great deal, but I’m willing to pay more for higher quality foods so it didn’t bother me.  The cookies had a good flavor and they were soft, but they had a weird grainy texture.  I can’t figure out what that would have been from, maybe the sorghum flour?  Honestly I don’t think I would buy them again unless I was desperate, but I would try other things from this company.

2.)  SunWarrior Protein, Vanilla


I have heard nothing but great things about this raw vegan protein, and I was excited to try it.  It has a hefty price tag (I got mine on Amazon, the absolute cheapest price I could find, especially with free shipping, and it was $46.95), but I really wanted a vegan protein that was not soy or hemp-based (like Nutiva and Vega).  Also SunWarrior has more protein and fewer calories and carbs per serving than Vega, which I like because I add it to smoothies and don’t just drink it as a shake mixed with water.  My thoughts?  I’ve been using it for about a week and I have to admit that at first I was not impressed.  I don’t care what anyone says, it is chalky.  It’s also very sweet – you definitely don’t need any additional sweetener (sweetened milk substitute) or vanilla with it.  I’ve gotten more used to it now and instead of adding a whole scoop to my ~2 cup smoothie, I add about 3/4 scoop.  It helps a little with the chalkiness, and also adding more water helps a little too.  Overall, I will definitely keep using it and hope to try it in some other things besides smoothies (like oatmeal).

3.)   Upton’s Naturals Chorizo-style Seitan


I’ve reviewed Upton’s Naturals Ground Beef-style Seitan before, but this is a new flavor for me.  I used it to make soft tacos with spinach and it was really good.  I would definitely buy this again and again.  My husband liked it too!  He definitely thinks seitan is the best meat-alternative and I think I have to agree with him, both nutritionally and texturally.  It just tastes like whatever you flavor it with, and this Chorizo flavor was a little spicy and very flavorful.

So those are some things I’ve tried recently.  I haven’t been cooking a lot – in the summer I eat a lot of salads and sandwiches, fruit, smoothies, and that stuff is kind of boring for the blog.  Last night I made some spaghetti squash with seitan, zucchini, and mushrooms, so be on the lookout for the recipe in the next day or so!

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Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda from Organic Eats!  She just moved to my lovely town and I thought I’d help give her the lowdown on some local stuff.  We met up at a local coffee shop, Cafe Diem, for some tea.  I am still getting used to this new schedule (out of bed at 4:45 a.m. but still can’t seem to fall asleep until about 10:30 at night which is not enough sleep for this lady!) so it was a short but sweet visit.  Hopefully we can get together again soon!  I remembered to bring my camera but didn’t have anyone take our picture.  Next time!

I wanted to make her a treat, and yesterday I decided on Raw Donut Holes, which I’ve made several times but have yet to feature on the blog.  The original recipe is from Ani Phyo.  Unfortunately the co-op didn’t have any dried pineapple, though I have bought it there in the past 😦  I ended up scrambling to try to think of a replacement, and I decided to try dried apricots in place of the coconut.  I think they turned out pretty well, they’re pretty much like a Larabar (though considerable cheaper to make). I hope she liked them.

Raw Donut Holes (vegan)

Original Recipe by Ani Phyo (she used to have the recipe on her blog but it looks like she took it down when she did a redesign)

Ingredients
1c raw almonds, soaked for about 4 hours or overnight, drained and rinsed and laid out to air dry for 8 hours or so
1c dates, chopped
1c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
5 Tablespoons coconut flakes

Directions
In a food processor, blitz up the almonds until they are roughly chopped.  Add dates, apricots, vanilla, 3 Tablespoons of the coconut, and sea salt and mix until they are combined into a wet dough.  Form into 1 Tablespoon-sized balls and roll in remaining coconut.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

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