Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year vegan style!

Happy New Year! Our family tradition is to forgo a heavy dinner for a night of appetizers and cocktails with family and friends. So tonight I prepared and bought a bunch of tasty vegan appetizers, most of which are very simple. Family get togethers are an excellent opportunity to show others that vegans eat normal, tasty food.

Tonight's appetizer spread included store bought hummus, chips and salsa, homemade summer rolls with a spicy mango dipping sauce (recipe below), carrots with a silken tofu-veggie dip, waldorf salad in lettuce cups and cold spicy peanut noodles. My family liked everything and dug in with gusto.

As a vegan you should have already made friends with hummus. If you haven't allow me to introduce you: meet hummus, otherwise known as fancy mashed up chickpea dip! Here is why you should know all about hummus, it is full of protein and is delicious by itself. You can also get it seasoned with lots of great spices like roasted red pepper, garlic, chipotle peppers or sun dried tomatoes. If you are any kind of cook at all, you should eventually learn to make it from scratch because hummus is also incredibly cheap to make.

The summer rolls take a little more work but are also incredibly healthful, delicious and impressive. You can put any selection of crunchy vegetables in them. I like: lettuce, basil, thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, red bell peppers, scallions and bean sprouts with a dressing made of rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic and ginger. The dipping sauce recipe is below.

Silken tofu is the most useful and versatile thing in a vegan's pantry and tonight I used it in place of sour cream with a vegetable dip spice packet (just check to be sure that its vegan!). To make a simple dip, all you have to do is combine the two in a blender and then whip it to a light and creamy consistency.

The waldorf salad was a choice designed to cool off everyone's tongues after all of the spicy food. Putting it in lettuce cups made it easier to eat.

The cold peanut noodles were the biggest hit of the night and the bowl was scraped clean. I have included the recipe below.

Here are a few recipes:

Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce
Besides summer rolls, this would also be good with store bought soy nuggets or thinned into a spicy salad dressing.

Place the following into a blender and blend until smooth:
  • 1 ripe mango, cubed
  • 1 small ripe orange or tangerine, peeled and seeded
  • Sriracha hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

Cold Spicy Peanut Noodles


1/2 package thin Rice Noodles
4 TBS peanut butter
3-4 TBS Sriracha hot sauce
1 TBS sesame oil
Dry Roasted Peanuts, Crushed (for garnish)


  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil on the stove.
  2. Once the water is boiling, throw in noodles and turn off the burner. Let sit until done (follow package directions)
  3. Drain and cut into shorter lengths, if desired.
  4. In the same pot, heat the sesame oil.
  5. After 30 seconds add the peanut butter stirring constantly.
  6. Once peanut butter is heated through and thins out, add hot sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Toss noodles in sauce.
  8. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and serve topped with the peanuts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What do vegans eat?

Ok so here is my first attempt at the new format.... my attempt to answer the question:

What do vegans eat?

Of course the answer is "normal food" but still non-vegans have a hard time envisioning a vegan meal without a gaping hole where their meat would be. Now bear in mind that I am visiting my in-laws for the holidays so my meals are slightly different than they are at home but not much.

Here is what I have eaten (so far) today:

Toaster Waffles
Whole Soy yogurt

While I don't like to rely heavily on packaged, processed food; when I travel it often makes life easier for the people I am staying with. So my breakfast toaster waffles were a nice treat, supplied by my inlaws. I eat them without syrup but my (non-vegan) husband likes them with the works maple syrup, cinnamon, sugar and butter....

The whole soy brand yogurt is the best vegan yogurt (in my humble opinion) and unlike some brands it is totally vegan. Many of the soy yogurts are made with dairy cultures.

A starfruit


A Garden Salad topped with chicken-style tofu salad (recipe below)

I am a salad freak and as such I have found the easiest thing to do is to make a big salad and keep it in the fridge. That way it is always available and easy as a side dish or snack. I can add additional stuff to it like a scoop of tofu salad or some kidney beans as well for a heartier lunch. Having a salad always available also boosts my overall nutrition for the day. I find that when the salads and veggies are easily available everyone is more likely to eat them instead of chips or cookies when hunger strikes. As weird as it seems to non-vegans, it is possible to be an unhealthy, junk-food vegan.


Garden salad with edamame and a ginger-orange vinaigrette (recipe below)
Pasta with sauce

When visiting family, I feel like it is a service to both veganism and my hosts to attempt to eat as much "normal" food as possible. So when my mother in law suggested pasta with sauce, I was thrilled. There are so many commercial jarred sauces that are available at the market which are "accidentally" vegan. So tonight's dinner was pasta with Francesco Rinaldi sauce and everyone was pleased. Check the jars though, not every marinara is vegan. Many contain cheeses or meats.

Now for the recipes:

Tofu salad- "chicken style"

In a bowl, combine the following ingredients:
  • Tofu, cubed (Bryanna's chicken style is especially good)
  • celery, chopped
  • onion or scallions, chopped
  • sweet red bell pepper, chopped
  • carrots, finely cubed
  • pickles or a seeded cucumber cubed
  • vegan maynaise
  • crunchy mustard
  • Thyme, rosemary, sage, to taste
  • salt and pepper

Mix to taste and mash a bit. I like this with crackers, on bread, on a salad. Just about anywhere.

Ginger-Orange Vinaigrette

In a jar combine and shake well:
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 TBS sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup (or less... I like less) peanut oil
  • 2-3 TBS minced ginger
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 2-3 TBS low sodium soy sauce

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vegan Cookies and a new year's resolution

The holidays are terribly busy for musicians and as such I have been a TERRIBLE blogger! Since Thanksgiving I have:

  • sung with an orchestra
  • organized, rehearsed and produced my student's concert
  • taken an audition
  • taken students to sing at a senior center
  • Sang in a TON of church services ( I am employed as a church musician), including a Christmas Eve Service
All of this was in addition to the normal holiday madness that happens every year...... the shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating, cooking and traveling.....

All I can offer are my humblest apologies and a resolution to be a better blogger. So, if you were a devoted follower of my blog and feel ignored, deserted, or disappointed... I deeply apologize.

As part of that resolution, I am also slightly changing the format of this blog. In the past few months I have tried to put new, homemade creative recipes in each entry. This is terribly time consuming and a difficult, if not impossible goal at certain times.

As a vegan, the question I am most commonly asked is "What DO you eat?". So my new focus is going to be on what I actually eat, even if that is only a tofurky sandwich or simple salad. My hope is that this change will make the blog all the more helpful to new (and possibly lifelong) vegans by highlighting recipes, products, cookbooks and other kitchen conundrums.

Now onto some delicious food!

Every year since 1998 I have made cookies for my family. By cookies I mean tons of cookies! I mail my family usually between 5-6 different varieties of cookies each year. Last year I compromised and made a mix of vegan and non vegan cookies for my family. This year I made a commitment to myself to make only vegan cookies for my family. The recipes were a combination of converted recipes and recipes from vegan cookbooks. This year I made:

Nestle Toll house Chocolate Chip Cookies
- This recipe was converted by replacing the eggs with egg replacer and the butter with earth balance. I used Ghiardelli dark chocolate chips which are still vegan and chopped walnuts. VERDICT: People loved this one and no one questioned whether it was vegan or not.

Raspberry Bars- This recipe was another conversion. I used Ghiardelli dark chocolate chips and earth balance again. VERDICT: This was the hands down favorite of everyone! The were very easy since they were bar cookies and their pretty looks made the tray gorgeous!

Brownies- As an early Christmas Gift, my husband bought me the cookbook, Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar. This brownie recipe was straight from the book with the addition of 2 ounces of melted bitter dark chocolate (I lake my brownies really fudgy and dark). VERDICT: No one thought these were any different than last year's brownies. In fact they wolfed them down!

Peanut Butter Cookies- This recipe was a conversion from a betty crocker cookbook. I replaced the eggs with egg replacer and the butter with earth balance. It is key to be sure that your shortening is also vegan (some of the cheaper ones are part lard). VERDICT: Peanut butter cookies are my personal favorite. So I almost don't care if other people like them... but they did.

Oatmeal Cookies
- This recipe I found using the internet. VERDICT: People liked them BUT they were way to dry and crumbly for mailing... They completely fell apart!

Pizelles- Pizelles are a crispy italian cookie that require a special "Pizelle Iron" which is similar to a waffle iron. They are flat and crispy. To veganize follow the recipe with your machine replacing the butter with oil and the eggs with egg replacer. VERDICT: These were the first to go at my Italian inlaws!

Lemon Sugar Cookies- Another internet find, perhaps not as sweet as a traditional sugar cookie but still pretty good. VERDICT: My mother in law particularly liked these.

Well there you have it... a vegan cookie stash.. and no one noticed they were vegan either!