Posts by ethnic vegan

Sweet & Spicy Noodles With Tofu

Do you like it sweet and spicy or very spicy? Adjust the amount of chili garlic sauce to make it perfect for you. The first time Sue made this recipe, she used 2+ tablespoons of chili garlic sauce. Ooh – way too spicy! The next time she used only 1 tablespoon, and it was just right.

To make this recipe fast and easy, slice tofu and veggies in advance, even the day before. The sauce can be made ahead as well. If you like more veggies, add a thin-sliced carrot or zucchini.

8 oz. uncooked udon noodles

3 Tbs. tamari

1 Tbs. to 2½ Tbs. chili garlic sauce

2 tsp. sesame oil

2 Tbs. sugar

½ tsp. minced garlic (1 garlic clove)

One 14- to 16-oz. package extra firm tofu

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/3 cup chopped green onions

2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil

Cook udon to desired firmness.

Make the sauce by whisking together the tamari, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic. Set aside.

Rinse the tofu block. Stand it up on the narrow edge and slice through. Place the block halves face down and make three cuts the long way and three or four slices crosswise, ending up with ½- to 1-inch cubes.

Slice the peppers and onion.

In a large frypan, sauté the tofu in olive oil until lightly browned, turning halfway through. Add sliced veggies and cook just a few minutes, until veggies are tender-crisp.

Transfer the cooked, drained pasta into a shallow serving bowl. Top with tofu and veggies, and pour sauce over all. Serve.

Time to Grill…Veggies, That Is!

Summer’s coming, and that means more grill time! This veggie combo grill basket is a treat. We started with just six items, and ended up with 10-12 cups of chopped veggies. We grilled half of the veggies, put the rest into a container in the freezer. If you cook half the veggies and freeze half, do not season the ones you will freeze until you thaw them.

Grill time; 25-30 minutes on a gas grill. Grill basket: about 13” square (33 cm), and well-used!

Sue’s well-used grill basket.

Chop all the veggies and place them into a large bowl, add salt & pepper to taste, and Italian seasoning blend, Herbes de Provence or your favorite spices. Drizzle all veggies with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. Spray grill basket with cooking spray, and add veggies. Stir occasionally while grilling.

A gorgeous array of grill-worthy veggies.

You can start with:

-Red and green bell pepper
-Mushrooms, an 8-oz. box, prewashed and halved or quartered
-Onion; white, yellow, or sweet; chopped
-Zucchini squash, chopped
-Cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, 1-pint box. Use them whole.

Or you can add:

-Turnips, rutabaga, yams, yellow summer squash, eggplant, Japanese eggplant, or sweet corn cut into two-inch slices

If you use yams or another very dense veggie, just cut them into smaller pieces so they’ll cook evenly. Be careful when you bite into the grilled cherry tomatoes; they can keep a lot of heat inside and you’ll risk a burn.

Grilled and ready to serve!

Serve over brown or white rice, and top with tamari or hoisin sauce. You could offer naan bread on the side, or just a cold beer!

Cinnamon Walnut Cake

This former Sour Cream Walnut Cake – Mom’s recipe –  was veganized into a yummy cinnamon cake, and taste-tested by friends and neighbors. Even the non-vegans loved it! Soon you’ll be filling your kitchen with the scent of cinnamon and patiently waiting until the cake is cool enough to eat!

1/4 cup vegan margarine
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup sugar
1 flax egg*
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8” square pan with oil.

Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk margarine, applesauce and sugar until well-blended and sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the egg substitute and whisk briefly. Add vegan sour cream and vanilla. Whisk until sour cream is blended in.

In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and whisk gently until just combined.

Pour half the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle half topping mix over batter. Drop remaining batter by spoonsful, spread out gently, then sprinkle with the rest of topping mix.

Bake about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

*In this recipe, you can make a flax egg to act as an egg substitute. A flax egg is made by placing 1 tbsp. ground flax seed or chia seed in a small bowl and adding 2 ½ to 3 Tbs. water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Flax seed is mildly flavored and adds the protein and similar structure and consistency of an egg to the cake batter.

Sue’s Spice of Life Soup

You can enjoy this spicy soup during a winter blizzard or in the heat of summer. The spice combo makes it heart- and tummy-warming. It’s best to measure out spices and do chopping and slicing in advance. In many grocery stores, you can buy the veggies pre-cut or frozen. Cannellini beans are also called white kidney beans.

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups veggie broth
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 medium carrot, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, chopped
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped kale or spinach
1 (14-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained

In a large cookpot, sauté onion and celery on med heat for about 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute more.

Add broth to pan, then cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.

Increase heat to medium, add kale or spinach and beans, and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

rainbow quinoa salad
Quinoa is a complete protein: that is, it contains all the amino acids. It’s also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and it’s gluten free – a miracle food, right? Add edamame and veggies, and you have a nourishing, colorful, fun summer salad! The dressing is an Asian style mixup, tangy and a bit sweet – a perfect blend of flavors to accompany all of those veggies.

It may take some effort to cut up all the veggies, but to save some time you could check your favorite grocery produce department for pre-chopped peppers and cabbage and the freezer aisle for pre-shelled edamame. This recipe makes enough to feed a party or take to a potluck!

2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup edamame
1 cup red cabbage, thin sliced
chopped, fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

3 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 tsp. tamari
1 Tbs. agave nectar
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. ginger root, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, mix cooled quinoa with the veggies. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour dressing over the quinoa and veggie mixture. Mix well. Garnish with parsley.

Mediterranean Rice Salad

Mediterranean rice salad
The secret to this flavorful salad is mixing the raw spinach leaves with the hot rice – the steaming rice sort of blanches the spinach leaves. They become brighter and more tender and are able to retain their flavor and nutritional value. Cut up all veggies while the rice is cooking because you’ll need the spinach leaves to be ready immediately after the rice is done cooking.

1 cup long-grain rice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

Cook rice according to directions.

In a large bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.

Add cooked rice to dressing and mix well. Add spinach, mix, and let stand for about 15-20 minutes, until rice has cooled a bit.

Add remaining ingredients and blend.

Vegan Sloppy Joes

vegan sloppy joe sandwichRemember the sloppy joes from your childhood? They were a great quick lunch my mom would make on weekends. Sue misses the flavor and fill-you-up yumminess of sloppy joes, but this textured soy protein (TSP) alternative has no fat or cholesterol. In this recipe, Sue used frozen, pre-chopped onion and green pepper to save time.

1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
2 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dry mustard
1¼ cup TSP
1½ cup vegetable broth or water
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup bottled BBQ sauce
1 Tbs. soy sauce
Dash of cayenne pepper
*Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, sauté pepper and onion in oil until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in chili powder, garlic, and mustard.

Add TSP, broth, ketchup, BBQ sauce, and soy sauce; stir well.

Cover and bring mixture to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.

*You may not need to add salt after adding soy sauce – taste it first.

Serve hot on burger buns. Goes well with potato salad or coleslaw!

Miso Soup

a bowl of miso soup
Hearty miso with mushrooms! Miso is neither difficult to make nor very time-consuming. Cremini mushrooms are fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, low in sodium, and full of vitamins and minerals. Miso is made of fermented tofu and rice or other grains. There are many types and colors of miso, but white miso is the most mildly flavored. Wakame seaweed is packed with vitamins and minerals, as well! So what we have is a flavorful, healthy, hearty soup for the upcoming fall season!

8 cups liquid: some veggie broth, some water
A few strands of dried wakame
½ cup thinly sliced green onions; discard half of green stems
1 cup chopped greens: spinach, chard, kale, or other
8 oz. thinly sliced Cremini mushrooms
8-oz package firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
6 Tbs. white miso

Bring liquids to a boil, reduce to simmer.

Soak wakame in water for 5 minutes; drain and chop.

Add wakame, onions, greens, and mushrooms to liquid. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat. Add tofu.

In a small bowl, whisk a couple tablespoons of hot water into miso until smooth. Add to cookpot, stirring gently.

Add only ¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste. Remember, the seaweed is very salty.

Serve immediately with crispy rice crackers.

savory stuffed peppers

savory stuffed peppers on a plate with a hunk of crusty bread and a glass of wineWhy have boring green peppers when you can feast your eyes on orange, yellow, and sweet red peppers stuffed with a savory rice-rich mixture? Any leftover rice mix can be baked in a loaf pan. If you use fresh herbs in this recipe, use three times the quantity.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients; if you prep before you start, it goes much more quickly!

1 bell pepper of each color: red, yellow, orange
1 cup wild rice blend, cooked according to directions
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup onion, diced
2/3 cup chopped bell peppers, any color
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ tsp. sea salt, and black pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
½ cup tomato juice
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup TVP
1 Tbs. dried parsley flakes (3 Tbs. fresh)
2 tsp. dried basil leaves (2 Tbs. fresh)
1 tsp. dried oregano (1 Tbs. fresh)

Cut peppers in half crosswise or lengthwise. Remove stem, seeds, and ribs.

Blanch for 1 minute: Place into boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and immediately place into ice water bath for 1 minute. Set each pepper on a rack or towel to drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While rice is cooking, prep the vegetables.

In a large pan, sauté onion and chopped peppers in oil for 2 minutes.

Add spinach, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and black and cayenne pepper. Cook on medium heat until spinach and mushrooms are soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add cooked rice, tomato juice and ketchup, TVP and spices; blend well. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Place pepper halves in a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with oil. Stuff gently with rice mixture.

Bake, loosely covered with foil, for 1 hour.

Senegal Maafe stew

Senegal Maafe Stew

Based upon a traditional stew of West Africa, this dish offers a wealth of flavors, blending colorful vegetables with curry spices and peanut butter. You control the spiciness. Don’t worry about the long list of ingredients. It doesn’t take long to make; just let it simmer for about an hour. The smells in your kitchen will be wonderful!

2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 cup onion, chopped fine
2 cups chopped cabbage
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tsp. curry powder, hot or mild
½ tsp. ground thyme
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
15-ounce can vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium rutabagas, scrubbed and chopped
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 tsp. salt, or to taste

In a large cookpot, heat oil and add onion, cabbage, and garlic. Cook until cabbage is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and peanut butter. Add tomatoes, broth, and water. Add sweet potato, rutabaga, carrots, and spinach; stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Add chickpeas and salt during the last 10 minutes.

Serve over rice.

coconut curry soup with tofu

a bowl of vegan coconut curry soup

Beautiful fragrant golden soup with tofu – yum! Red bell pepper and cilantro make a colorful addition – sort of like fireworks – and the curry can be like fireworks in your mouth! If you like it milder, just use mild curry powder or less of the hot stuff. Speaking of hot stuff, we’re going to help you impress your dinner guests with kitchen trivia. Did you know that “oz,” the abbreviation for ounce, comes from onza, the Italian word for ounce?

2-3 Tbs. light olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 Tbs. curry powder (hot or mild, to taste)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, to taste
1 can (14-15 oz.) vegetable broth or bouillon
1 can (14-15 oz.) coconut milk
1/2 cup soy milk, unsweetened
One 10-oz. package Mori-Nu tofu, extra firm, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups cooked rice
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Sauté onion and red pepper in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add spices and sauté 30 seconds more. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, and soy milk. Reduce heat and simmer 12-15 minutes. Add cubed tofu pieces, stir gently, and simmer another 3 minutes.

Serve over cooked rice; garnish with cilantro. Makes 4-6 servings.

lemony donuts

20150325_064309Delightfully lemony, these vegan donuts are light, not too sweet, and take just a few minutes to throw together! It’s best to bake them in a donut pan – the donut shape looks really cool – but a muffin pan works just as well. These donuts are best eaten fresh, although they will keep for a couple days (if they last that long!).

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Zest of one lemon
2/3 cup almond or soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs. water, if necessary to make glaze thin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add wet ingredients, and stir just enough to remove dry spots. You may need to add a bit of water, a teaspoon at a time, so that batter is not too thick to pour into pan. Fill the indentations 2/3 full. Bake for 11-15 minutes. Makes one dozen.

Cool donuts on paper towels on a rack, and when cool, dip the top into glaze. Before the glaze dries, you can add toasted almonds, poppy seeds, or whatever you like.

peanut butter rum balls

vegan peanut butter rum ballsLauren requested a holiday candy recipe with peanut butter or “something like that.” Sue got busy in the kitchen and concocted these festive rum balls. A natural-foods store visit may be necessary to get high-quality vegan and organic ingredients, but the resulting great flavor is worth it! These rum balls are very rich, so you’ll want to make them small. With only 5 ingredients, they’re easy to make, so add some flash to your holiday stash!

2 cups vanilla wafers (almost a whole 9-ounce package)
1/2 cup organic peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/3 cup good-quality light rum
1/2 cup agave nectar

Mix all ingredients together. Add the remainder of the crumbs if the mixture is not stiff enough. Chill for 10 minutes.

Roll a small clump of dough between your palms briefly. Balls should be about 3/4 inch or 2 cm in diameter. Place on cookie sheet and refrigerate. When chilled thoroughly, you can place them in a sealed storage container in the fridge.

Optional: Drizzle with melted vegan chocolate or carob chips.


tiki citrus beach slam

Tiki Culture at your table: fresh fruit, festive mugs, fun decor

This is a delicious two-part liquid libation in which you can control the flavor and the potency. So it could be a potent drink that may result in a face plant, or it might just be a delightful diversion – you choose. You can use an insulated mug; a short, wide glass; or a fancy Tiki mug. (You may need to taste and add more ginger ale.)  This recipe will quench the thirst of two or three people.

Mix the following in a small pitcher:

3 ounces (2 shots) Sailor Jerry spiced rum

3 ounces light rum

Juice of 1 lime

3 ounces pineapple juice

Pour over ice in two or three Tiki mugs. Add half an orange slice to each glass.

Pour ginger ale over all until desired strength is reached. Stir and add a colorful umbrella!

mint fuzzy slipper

Mint Fuzzy Slipper, a festive alcoholic vegan drinkSue decided to call this drink a Mint Fuzzy Slipper because if you drink too much of it, your brain will feel like fuzzy slippers (as will your mouth the next morning). Vegan versions of Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao are readily available, but check labels to be sure.

1 oz. green Crème de Menthe
1 oz. clear Crème de Cacao
3 oz. unsweetented almond milk (we used Blue Diamond)
Mini peppermint candy canes (green, if possible)

Place 3 candy canes on a ceramic plate. Cover with a paper towel and use the bottom of a sturdy glass to carefully crush them. Moisten the rim of a 3 oz. glass and dip into crushed candy.

Place the first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously, then strain into glass.  Add a candy cane as garnish. Sip in front of a fireplace if possible.

Rustic Tuscany Flatbread

Rustic Tuscany Flatbread
What is it about fresh, warm, home-baked bread that is so comforting? This Italian flatbread recipe is surprisingly easy to make, and its delicate flavor goes with almost everything. It cooks up so fast; you’ll want to make this for dinner a couple times a week.

3 cups organic flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dried rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup ice-cold water
Extra kosher salt for sprinkling
Extra olive oil for brushing

Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and use a fork to gently blend them. Make a well in the center, and pour the oil and water into it. Mix gently until completely blended. If necessary, add a teaspoon or two of cold water; then knead with your hands until dough is smooth.

Pull out a wad of dough about 2 1/2 inches across – slightly larger than an egg or a ping-pong ball. Place onto a lightly floured surface and spread with your fingers into a flat disk about 8 inches across. The top will be uneven.

Heat a large nonstick frypan over medium-high heat. (We used one of those grill pans with the ridges in the bottom, which gave the bread in our photo the sear marks.) When pan is hot, brush the flat dough disk with olive oil and place oiled side down in the pan. Heat for about 2 minutes until a few brown spots appear on the bottom. Brush top with olive oil, flip bread over, and cook another 2 minutes. Slide out of pan onto a plate with paper towels on it, and sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Serve while warm.

What do you all think about maybe adding some flecks of sun-dried tomatoes to this recipe…or pine nuts? I also think this bread might be delicious with a homemade veggie burger.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash lends a lovely color and flavor to this soup. Coconut milk makes the soup creamy without the cream, and the red curry paste provides a touch of heat. This would be a good first course for an Asian-themed meal.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbs. fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
32 oz. vegetable broth
13.5-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 tsp. red curry paste (or to taste; you can use sambal oelek instead, but it’s not as authentic)
Fresh lime juice (optional)
Fresh or dried cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss butternut squash chunks with olive oil and place on a greased baking pan or a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the squash until tender (about 40 minutes).

2. Heat the olive oil in a large stewpot over medium heat. Saute the onions until softened. Don’t brown them; add a little broth to the pan if they start to brown. Add the ginger, garlic, and salt; cook for an additional minute or two. Add the vegetable broth and squash chunks; heat thoroughly. Stir in coconut milk and sambal oelek.

3. If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree the soup in the stewpot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth.

4. Divide soup among serving bowls. Drizzle a teaspoon of fresh lime juice over the soup in each bowl. Garnish with fresh or dried cilantro if desired.

boulder slaw

What can we say about a beautiful, colorful, nutrient-filled dish that takes after its namesake (well, at least the beautiful, colorful parts)?  This salad starts with a coleslaw base, but you can add everything you like and can only make it better! It’s so flavorful, you don’t need any fancy spices.  When you see the bright colors and taste the sweet-sour dressing, you’ll be bowled over by Boulder Slaw!

Start with a coleslaw base:

shredded green and red cabbage and shredded carrots (you can use a prepared coleslaw pack, if you like)


Lots more shredded or matchstick-cut carrots
Broccoli florets, blanched 30 seconds and cut very small
Red and green bell peppers, diced
Red or sweet yellow onion, diced
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped fine

Also, you could try one or two of these ingredients:

Finely chopped apples
Dried cranberries or raisins
Pineapple pieces or crushed pineapple, drained
Finely chopped mushrooms


½ cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper
Dash of red (cayenne) pepper
1 tsp. celery seed

mountain lentil stew

Here’s a recipe for a cold mountain winter – it’s hearty and filling and delicious! We created this from several other lentil recipes but added a twist – a tomato base. In this recipe, it’s important to make sure the lentils are cooked until tender before salt is added; the salt may prevent the lentils from getting tender. Nothing worse than crunchy lentils. Add jalapenos to taste – one tablespoon gives you a medium spicy bite. And the stew is great the next day! If it’s too cold for a dark beer with this stew, you might want to try a hot spiced cider drink, and try to stay warm until spring!

1-2 Tbs. light olive oil
1 med. yellow onion, chopped fine
½ tsp. minced garlic

Sautée the onion and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes, until onion is transparent.


1 1/3 cup lentils
6 cups water
1 Tbs. fajita seasoning
1 ½ tsp. dried dill weed

Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 to 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.

DO NOT ADD SALT YET. Salt will prevent the lentils from becoming tender. You may need to add a bit of water to keep the stew from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in 2 peeled russet potatoes (about ½ inch dice). Continue to cook on medium-low for another 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are tender.


1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1-2 Tbs. diced jalapenos
1 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste

Stir well. Garnish with fresh dill or parsley and a dollop of non-dairy sour cream.

Helen’s veggie burgers

These yummy veggie burgers were created by a student in Sue’s vegetarian nutrition class. (Helen gets an A+ for this recipe.) They are super-healthy, high in protein and fiber. TVP stands for textured vegetable protein. Helen suggests using frozen TVP crumbles to make shaping the patties easier. We used Amy’s organic lentil soup in the recipe, but you can substitute tomato for a different flavor.

This recipe makes a lot of veggie burgers. After you have shaped all the burgers you need for your meal, you can put the rest into a meatloaf pan and bake it for 25 minutes. Freeze the loaf for another day, and then slice and serve the reheated loaf with pasta sauce and linguini on the side. Add a green salad and a glass of red wine, and voila! Easy weeknight meal.

1/2 medium onion, diced
1 portobello mushroom cap, gills removed, finely chopped
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 10-ounce bag TVP
1 12-ounce package soft tofu
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and mashed
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend
1 15-ounce can lentil soup
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper and cayenne pepper

Sauté onion and mushrooms in oil until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside. Chop nuts in a grinder or blender, and then place in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Shape into patties. Cook in an oiled pan on medium heat until browned. Turn gently. Or cook on the grill for a couple minutes per side. Serve on a bun with lettuce, a slice of tomato, and vegan mayo, ketchup, or brown mustard.

peanut brittle

This recipe is easy, although it may take 10 to 15 minutes to boil the ingredients. You can also use chopped almonds, pecans, or pistachios instead of peanuts.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
1 cup peanuts
1 tsp. baking soda

1. Grease a large cookie sheet. Set aside.

2. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peanuts. Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the pan, but don’t let it touch the bottom. Continue boiling the mixture on medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 300 degrees.

3. Remove candy thermometer, add baking soda, stir, and quickly pour mixture onto the baking sheet. Spread it out with a fork. Allow the pan to cool on a rack, and then break candy into pieces.

Green Pepper restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal

While on vacation in September, I broke my foot in three places. I spent two days in Lisbon before flying back to the States, and it was a sad affair. Instead of the planned sightseeing and city tours, I was laid up in the hotel for most of that time. Learning to use crutches is difficult, but using crutches on sidewalks with centuries-old cobblestones is even more of a challenge. I stayed in our hotel’s lounge while my cousin went out to see the city sights. On the first day she came back and reported that there was one restaurant close to the hotel, and she thought it was near enough that I could make it on crutches. “I don’t know what kind of restaurant it is and whether they have anything for you though,” she said. I was so excited to leave the hotel and experience something (anything!) of Lisbon, I was willing to try. Even in non-veg-friendly restaurants, you can usually at least order a salad, right?

We decided to try it. After a herculean effort on my part maneuvering over the uneven sidewalk stones, we made it to the restaurant door. What kind of restaurant was it?

Green Pepper restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal

I laughed out loud. And enjoyed a heaping plate from the buffet:

buffet plate from Green Pepper in Lisbon, Portugal

When in Lisbon, check out Green Pepper at 14 Avenida José Malhoa. The food is fresh and inventive, and they also have a wide selection of yummy drinks. The servers are friendly and attentive. They made my day.

quinoa & corn salad

This summer salad features delightfully crunchy quinoa and sweet corn kernels in a tangy dressing. Never tried quinoa? It’s similar to millet; look for it in the bulk section of your local natural foods store. We used red quinoa for this recipe, but other colors are available.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups corn kernels (canned, frozen, or fresh; if fresh, briefly cook kernels in boiling water, rinse with cold water, and drain)
1 medium cucumber, diced
8-oz. package cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Several large romaine leaves, sliced into ribbons

1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 large, fresh lemon
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt

1. Combine rinsed quinoa, salt, and 1 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat. Let quinoa simmer until all the water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat. After about 10 minutes, “fluff” the quinoa with a fork by lightly stirring.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the corn kernels, diced cucumbers, and tomatoes.

3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together, and stir into the salad.

4. Arrange romaine ribbons on plates. Scoop quinoa salad on top.

raw doughnut holes

raw_doughnut_holesRaw foods are even more delicious in the summertime, when the hot temperatures deter even us diehard cooks from venturing near a stove. I came across this recipe for raw doughnut holes on the Rawmazing site. I happened to have a bag of Brazil nuts on hand, so I tried it right away. Yum. Let the doughnut holes sit in the refrigerator for a bit before you eat them or else the texture won’t be quite right (but they’ll still be delicious).

thai noodles with spicy peanut basil sauce

Who needs takeout? Your family will think you stopped at an Asian restaurant on your way home when you serve these tasty Thai noodles, and you can make them as spicy as you like.

1 cup fresh snow pea pods
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
Crushed red pepper to taste
12-oz. package Udon noodles (substitute spaghetti or fettuccine if you can’t find Udon noodles)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

1. Trim snow pea pods and blanch for 45 seconds. Set aside.

2. In a large stewpot over medium heat, whisk together coconut milk, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and peanut butter. Add lime juice, garlic, sugar, coriander, and red pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Reduce heat to low.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to sauce, along with snow pea pods, basil, and bean sprouts. Mix gently and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with peanuts.

spinach-mandarin power salad

Spinach is an amazing powerhouse of vitamins and minerals: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, and K, plus folic acid, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Mandarin oranges contain vitamin C. Both mandarin oranges and spinach are fat-free, and pecans are high in fiber and protein. This colorful salad is not only nutritious, it’s also beautiful, and the complex dressing provides a wonderful burst of flavor!

1/4 cup pecans, toasted
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. brown mustard
2 Tbs. orange juice
Dash of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed
11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1. Toast pecans in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes, watching them carefully. When they start to brown and release their oils (about 2 to 3 minutes), remove from pan and place on paper towels to cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine next 7 ingredients with a wire whisk to make the dressing.

3. Add spinach leaves and orange slices; combine with dressing. Arrange salad on serving plates. Top with toasted pecans.

Variations: You can add sliced green onions if you like them, or substitute toasted sliced almonds or pine nuts for the pecans.

Download the PDF: Spinach Mandarin Power Salad

classic potato salad

This is a vegan variation of my mother’s potato salad recipe, which was always very much in demand.

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (Spectrum makes a tasty one)
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cane sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup mild onion
5-6 medium Yukon Gold or red potatoes

Slice potatoes in half and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil until potatoes are tender but not mushy. Cool slightly; peel and slice into cubes.

In a large bowl, stir together the first five ingredients. Add celery, onions, and potatoes; stir gently to coat. Chill. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and a parsley sprig.

cinco de mayo chip dip

Besides chip dipping, this salsa also works great as a taco or burrito topper. If you prefer chunkier salsas, substitute 4 chopped tomatoes for the tomato juice (for a total of 6).

12-oz. can tomato juice
4-oz. can pickled jalapenos, drained and diced (save the liquid)
1 Tbs. pickled jalapeno juice (more if you like)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet white or purple onion, minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Dip your chips.

food labeling in India versus food labeling in the United States

Food labeling in India

Food labeling in India: The green image denotes a product without animal ingredients, while the image on the right labels products containing animal ingredients. Image courtesy of Kotra and the Wikimedia Commons.

A reader named Pradeep wrote to tell us about India’s veg-friendly food-labeling system, in which a green dot on a product means it does not contain any animal ingredients. Pradeep is now in the United States and has difficulty identifying veg products. He has to examine food labels and determine whether unfamiliar ingredients might be derived from animals.

And it’s no wonder. Here’s a little background for those who may not be aware of how veg food labeling works in the United States (hint: it’s much different from India’s system). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Food Labeling Guide only addresses animal products in the food allergen section, and the FDA passes the buck by saying: “We recommend that producers of meat products, poultry products, and egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), contact appropriate USDA agency staff regarding the labeling of such products.” A search through the bewildering maze of the USDA’s Web site doesn’t shed much light on that agency’s stance on labeling.

Enter the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), which provided a thoroughly researched overview of the labeling situation in 2006, concluding, “There is no federal regulation of the word ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ in the United States.” So although food products in the United States lack a federal label that would indicate products containing animal ingredients, individual organizations are stepping up to the plate to address the issue. The Vegetarian Label Fact Table in the VRG’s article compares these labels and what each might indicate.

If anyone is interested in working with Pradeep on a labeling campaign in the United States, contact us and we’ll forward your info to him. In the meantime, keep reading those labels, and share your shopping strategies with us.

delicious dairy-free milks

Dairy-free milks have come a long way in recent years. Many restaurants and coffee shops offer soymilk or rice milk (and unlike years past, the servers usually know what you’re referring to if you ask for it). And I think that every major grocery chain now offers soymilk and almond milk in the dairy cases. But even more options are available.

Although I was accustomed to the “beany” taste of soymilk, I can’t say I ever really got off on it. About a year ago, my friend Jill recommended coconut milk, and I haven’t gone back to soy since. I love the creamy texture of the coconut milk in my coffee, soups, and baked treats. I buy the organic So Delicious brand, which can be found in the refrigerated section. Aseptic packaging on the shelf is also available, so I keep a few extras in the pantry. Try it in broccoli rice soup.

I love the taste of almond milk. Although some brands lack the thick, creamy texture that I prefer for coffee, it’s a great choice for cereal and also in baked cranberry walnut oatmeal. It also adds a terrific nutty flavor to smoothies.

Hazelnut milk is similar to almond milk. Look for it in aseptic packages on the shelf.

Like soymilk, rice milk is available in unsweetened versions as well as flavors like vanilla and chocolate. Although I don’t cook or bake with it, I do use it in smoothies. And the mini packages are nice to take along on trips and camping excursions – no refrigeration required.

One dairy-free milk that I haven’t tried yet is hemp milk. It’s on my next shopping list. Let us know if you’ve tried it.

So Delicious coconut milk

Our favorite all-purpose “milk”

broccoli rice soup

broccoli rice soup
This soup tastes creamy (without the cream).

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup soymilk or coconut milk
1 tsp. dried basil
Pinch Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large stewpot. Sauté onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and rice. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until rice is tender (about 20 minutes).

2. While the rice cooks, steam the broccoli florets until they’re tender (but not mushy).

3. Allow the rice mixture to cool a bit, and then ladle into a blender or the bowl of a food processor. Process the rice mixture with the broccoli florets. Return the soup to the stewpot and stir in milk and spices. Heat through and serve. Serves 4.

easy weeknight vegetables in curry sauce

There’s no need to serve an uninspired meal after a long day at work. This dish is super fast, and the tasty sauce easily rivals one from your local ethnic family restaurant. The bonus of eating at home: You get to personalize it with your favorite veggies. We included more ingredient ideas below the recipe.

vegetables in curry sauce
Rice or udon noodles

1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and paprika

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, chopped
16-oz. frozen stir-fry vegetable blend (ours included edamame, carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots), thawed
14-oz. can baby corn
Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Start preparing rice or udon noodles according to package directions. While the water boils or the rice cooker heats up, prepare the veggies.

2. In a small pot, combine coconut milk and salt, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and paprika. Heat on low while veggies cook, stirring occasionally.

3. Heat the canola oil in a large pan or wok. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and zucchini; cook for 3 minutes or so. Add thawed frozen vegetables and canned vegetables at the end; cook until heated through.

4. Serve veggies over cooked rice or noodles, and spoon curry sauce over the top. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

More ingredient ideas: Sliced kale ribbons, a handful of fresh spinach, tofu or tempeh cubes, canned water chestnuts or straw mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, diced chili peppers, fresh ginger, tomato

grapefruit soda

We’re extremely fond of a certain imported Italian grapefruit soda from a well-known natural foods chain. Inspired by the abundance of excellent citrus in stores right now, we wondered if we could make our own homemade grapefruit soda and duplicate the flavor of the imported soda. Well, the results were REALLY GOOD.

First, halve a grapefruit and squeeze the juice from the fruit. (We averaged about 3/4 cup of juice from each grapefruit, but these seemed to be very juicy, and I suspect that most grapefruits may yield a bit less.) Pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup juice per glass. Add sparkling mineral water and a squirt of agave nectar if you like a bit of sweetness. Stir and add ice. Sip and enjoy.

homemade grapefruit soda

homemade grapefruit soda

Latin-inspired meal

Fried plantains, fiesta beans and rice, and pico de gallo. This meal is a medley of Latin-inspired flavors, and these three items work SO well together. The slightly sour bite of the lime in the pico de gallo is balanced by the warm, sweet plantains…and the beans and rice complement both of them. I found myself trying to get a bit of all three on the fork at the same time…try it!

A Latin medley

A Latin medley

pico de gallo

This delightful, fresh Mexican condiment, also called salsa fresca, is simple and delicious. Use it as a taco or burrito topping, or pair it with plantains and black beans and rice for a Latin-inspired dinner. Or just dip your chips in it.

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium red or sweet onion, finely diced
1 to 2 finely diced Serrano chiles (or more, depending on your heat tolerance)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate briefly before serving. Pico de gallo is best served shortly after preparing it.

a new favorite: Chimayo chile powder

We adore heirloom foods and ethnic ingredients, so we cheered the tale of the Chimayo Chile Project and the efforts of the Native Hispanic Institute in Santa Fe to preserve this 400-year-old chile. We purchased some back in November and promised to test it and let you know the results.

Well, we LOVE this chile powder. We tried it in veggie chili, south of the border soup, burritos, and breakfast potatoes. It adds a delightful, subtle smoky heat that we are now addicted to. And look at this amazing color:

Chimayo chile powder

Is this a fabulous color or what?

Chimayo chile powder

I will reserve a spot for Chimayo Red in my spice drawer.

homemade vanilla extract

I recently experienced sticker shock at the grocery store while shopping for vanilla extract, which prompted me to instead purchase vanilla beans and vodka. Time to make homemade vanilla extract!

First, I checked Barnivore to find a vegan-friendly vodka and settled on a pint of Skyy. Then I found two empty jars with lids. You can use one large jar, but I’m going to divide my batch and give my kitchen cohort Sue a jar of homemade vanilla extract so that she can bake something yummy for me.


Slice four or five vanilla beans down the middle and split each one, place them in the jar(s), and cover with vodka. Seal tightly and let sit for at least 5 weeks. The longer they stew, the stronger your extract will be. Here’s the final product.

winter minestrone

winter minestrone
If you’re experiencing post-holiday blues and you’re still facing weeks of winter weather, try focusing on one really good thing about winter: big pots of hot soup. This one incorporates the best of winter’s produce offerings.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 carrots, diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp. thyme
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 can cannellini beans, undrained
1 cup small pasta shapes (we used spirals)
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups kale leaves, washed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a stewpot over medium heat. Sautè the onion 5 minutes or until transparent. Add celery and garlic; stir to combine. Stir in the carrots, turnip, and potatoes. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Add spices, vegetable broth, and barley. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

3. Add beans, pasta, and tomato paste. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook over medium heat until the pasta is tender.

4. Stir in the chopped kale and cook for about 5 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

vegan peanut butter dog biscuits

Your best furry friend enjoys treats. Store-bought dog biscuits often contain scary unmentionable by-products, and natural and organic treats can be budget-busters. What’s a dog guardian to do? Roll up your sleeves, heat the oven, and start mixing.

Combine the following in a large mixing bowl:

1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water
2 Tbs. canola oil

Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a uniform thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. (We used cutters shaped like dog bones, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand.) Place shaped dough on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Vegan peanut butter dog biscuits, ready for the oven!

Vegan peanut butter dog biscuits, ready for the oven!

Find a good excuse to give your pup a tasty treat, warm from the oven. Store leftover biscuits in an airtight container.

handsome dog eating homemade vegan peanut butter biscuits

Rex loves homemade peanut butter biscuits!

thai cucumber salad

The flavor combination of vinegar, sugar, and crushed red peppers is downright addictive.

2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
4 Tbs. kosher salt (you can substitute regular salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup peanuts, finely chopped
Scallions for garnish

1. Place the cucumber slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Drain for about 30 minutes. Rinse slices; drain again.

2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and red pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Cool.

3. In a medium bowl, combine drained cucumber slices with vinegar mixture. Chill before serving. Garnish with chopped peanuts and scallions.

cindy’s italian salad dressing

Use fresh herbs for best results.

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground mustard seed
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh dill weed, chopped fine

Combine all ingredients in a large container; combine with a whisk. Keep refrigerated.

artisan bread

Love the flavor and texture of artisan loaves from the bakery but tired of paying sky-high prices? Make your own for a fraction of the cost! Yes, baking your own bread can be time-consuming, but it’s also very satisfying. And once you taste that warm, crunchy crust fresh from your oven, you may never go back to store-bought breads.

Here’s a basic recipe to get you started. No kneading is required. Feel free to experiment with some variations: Try topping with coarse salt, sprinkling some dried herbs into the dough, or adding some special ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped olives, or sprigs of fresh rosemary.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet yeast (~ 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 tsp. sugar
3 1/4 cups organic, all-purpose unbleached flour (if using whole wheat or bread flour, increase the amount of water by 1/4 cup) plus a bit more for dusting
3/4 Tbs. coarse kosher or sea salt
Olive oil

1. Mix 1/4 cup of the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Let stand for about 8 minutes until yeast is foamy.

2. Add remaining warm water. Mix flour and salt in until well incorporated (try adding the flour 1 cup at a time). Dough will be “wet” or rather sticky. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise for 2 hours in a warm, draft-free area. (If our house is cool and drafty on baking day, we place the bowl inside the oven on its lowest setting with the door propped open a bit.) Note that the dough may be hard to work at this stage.

3. After the dough rises, place it on a tabletop lightly dusted with flour. Divide dough into two small rounds* if desired, or just make one loaf. Add a little more flour if the dough is sticky and hard to work. Sprinkle flour on top of dough, and tuck sides under to create desired loaf shape(s). Place dough on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Allow it to rest for approximately 40 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 450°. For best results, add 3/4 to 1 cup boiling water to a broiler tray on the bottom rack. This creates steam in the oven and improves the texture of your loaf. (As a precaution, cover your oven window with a dish towel while adding the water container, and be very careful to avoid splashing water on the window to prevent cracking it.)

5. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown. Oven times and temperatures vary, but with practice, you’ll be able to produce a picture-perfect loaf every time.

*A small round loaf of artisan bread is sometimes called a “boule” (from the French word for ball).

confessions of a junk food vegan

a guest post by Bettina Rosmarino

When I first became a vegetarian years ago while in college, I had no concept of nutrition. A box of crackers would sometimes suffice as my sustenance for the day. Sure, I’d read the literature about complete proteins and mixing your legumes with your grains. But hell if I knew what a grain even was. I was in college; ergo, I was poor, at the mercy of the dining room, and I got most of my calories from beer. I tried. I did. I combined cottage cheese with Cap’n Crunch cereal. That was a complete protein, right?

Even after college, when I was working and earning a living wage, I didn’t take the time and opportunity to educate myself about healthful eating. I wasn’t healthy at this time, and I was also overweight. When people learned that I was a vegetarian, they were always surprised. I did lose weight after I gave up cheese and started working out, but I still suffered from bouts of lethargy and dizziness.

When I moved to Colorado in my mid-twenties, I became a vegan. I lived with my sister who, to this day, continues to be a self-professed junk-food vegan. She showed me the wonders of fake meats, processed vegan food, and vegan cookies chockfull of chemicals. I loved it all and truth be told, I found it easy to be vegan on that kind of diet. I still ate fruits and vegetables, just not enough. I knew that I was probably slightly anemic and that I sometimes failed to get enough protein. I had almost a completely carb-based diet with some occasional tofu and fake meat products thrown in. And I only eliminated about three times a week.

When I moved to California a few years ago, I realized that my diet needed an overhaul. My hair was thinning and, unfortunately, it sometimes takes an aesthetic problem to wake you up to underlying issues. I had my Total Binding Capacity and ferritin level checked, and although they were within the normal range, they were on the low end. I also realized that according to the formula used to determine the daily recommended amount of protein grams (for someone who exercises, it should be between .5 and .7 grams per pound of body weight), I was deficient. Also, I was probably deficient in Omega 3s (even meat eaters are typically deficient in this essential fatty acid).

So I overhauled. I incorporated a protein shake in the morning with flax, wheatgrass, sunflower seeds, and fruit. I started eating brown rice, veggies, and tofu or a salad with legumes for lunch. I eat fruit daily, and I eat a salad or greens and veggies (including sea vegetables) at night. I moved away from processed foods, and I instantly saw improvement. I have more energy, I’m happier, I can run faster, I eliminate more than once a day, and my hair grew. I now realize that although I felt like I was healthy because I gave up meat, eggs, and cheese products, I still had to work to achieve true health.

When people ask, “So what do vegans eat?”, I tell them. Eat flaxseeds for Omega 3s and sunflower seeds for Omega 6s. Eat wheatgrass and greens. Juice ’em if you have to, but I like them steamed with lemon juice and garlic. (Raw is always best, though.) Eat a variety of fruits, but try to stick with what’s in season. Strive to only eat organic products. They are becoming easier to find and are cheaper than a few years ago. My last piece of advice for vegans is to supplement with a vitamin and maybe even an iron pill because iron is very difficult to absorb unless it comes from heme sources (read: animal flesh). You should seek advice for supplementation from a nutritionist or a doctor, but I think educating yourself is important too.

List of Essentials:

Wide variety of vegetables: greens (collards, kale, chard, spinach, lettuce), tomatoes, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, yams, onions, garlic, etc.
Fruits: in season, but I eat apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and grapes year-round
Grains: brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, amaranth
Legumes: tofu, tempeh, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, miso, brown rice protein powder
Seeds and nuts: peanut butter, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, cashews
Sea vegetables: dulse, wakame, arame.

Even though I still eat an occasional fake meat or processed food, my diet is pretty much devoid of the chemicals that are part and parcel of standard grocery fare. I am blessed with year-round farmers’ markets and easy access to organic grocery stores, and I’ve also noticed that organics and fruit-sweetened items are appearing on the shelves of my local Kroger’s.

The process of educating oneself on eating well and being a vegan is a daunting one, I know. I wish that when I first decided to take the ethical and enlightened path in life, someone had stressed to me how important the nutritional aspect was. Convenience is easier but far less rewarding. And anyway, eating foods made from chemicals or stripped-down versions of plant products is really just buying into the industry that’s making sickness a way of life for most people on the planet. So while you’re out there protesting the murderous fur industry or evil vivisectors, do it with a shot of wheatgrass and a carrot juice chaser. Hopefully, we’ll outlast them.

Author Bettina Rosmarino uses her high energy levels to further animal rights and save the planet. She can be reached at brosmar at hotmail dot com.

asparagus “cream” soup

asparagus "cream" soup
Asparagus is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It has been cultivated around the world for centuries, dating as far back as ancient Egypt. What’s the secret to tender asparagus? Using a paring knife, cut a half-inch off the bottom of the stalk. If it cuts easily, it will be tender. If it resists cutting, try again a half-inch higher until you find the place where it can be sliced easily.

This soup is light, healthy and tasty. It’s great for a spring lunch or light supper. Try topping it with spicy croutons, and maybe a dollop of soy sour cream.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced (about 2/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans vegetable broth
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 bunches of medium-size asparagus (about 7 cups, when chopped into 1-inch pieces)
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
6 to 8 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup of your favorite non-dairy milk

1. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is transparent (about 5 minutes). Add broth, carrots, celery, and asparagus. Reduce heat. Simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.

2. Add spinach, mushrooms, parsley, and salt. Simmer another 30 minutes.

3. Turn off heat and add soy milk; stir. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with croutons and a dollop of soy sour cream (if desired).

roasted rosemary potatoes

Here’s a fast, easy side dish. We added some leftover bell peppers to provide nice color, but you can omit them and use only potatoes if you prefer. The fresh rosemary smells divine.

4 Tbs. good-quality olive oil
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary
Sea salt crystals (to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Combine olive oil, vegetables, rosemary, and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss until veggies are coated with oil and salt.

2. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread vegetables evenly over foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are desired consistency.

tempeh vegetable stir fry in curry peanut sauce

tempeh vegetable stir fry with peanut curry sauce
This is a really flavorful sauce that could be the foundation for a zillion variations. Try tofu or a chicken substitute instead of tempeh. Add some shitake mushrooms. Use brown or white rice instead of soba noodles. Omit the curry powder and just enjoy the peanut sauce.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 Tbs. agave nectar
4 Tbs. white miso
2 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 cup water

stir fry:
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8 oz. tempeh, cubed
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 16-oz. bag frozen Asian-style stir-fry veggies
Salt and pepper to taste

Package soba noodles (or brown or white rice)

1. In a medium-size pot over medium heat, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, making sure all peanut butter and miso lumps are dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Fill a pot with water and bring to boil for soba noodles. Cook according to package directions.

3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok or heavy skillet. Add the garlic, onion, bell peppers, and tempeh. Stir fry for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and frozen veggies and continue to stir fry until the vegetables are just tender. Stir in the peanut sauce; heat tempeh and veggies until simmering. Remove from heat and serve over soba noodles.

south of the border soup

south of the border soup

Make sure you use red and yellow bell peppers for this soup. The colors contrast beautifully with the brilliant green cilantro for a festive dish. If you prefer vegan chowder, stir in 2 cups of your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk after your soup is ready. Heat through and serve.

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth, divided
2 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
6 cups water
2 Tbs. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4-5 medium), peeled and diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 4-oz. can diced green chilies, undrained
1 14-oz. can pinto beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large stewpot over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the canola oil until the onion is translucent. Add the bell peppers. Stir in 1/4 cup vegetable broth, flour, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Add remaining 2 cups vegetable broth and water. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Add potatoes and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Increase heat to medium and stir in frozen corn, green chilies, pinto beans, and cilantro. Cook for about 5 more minutes until ingredients are heated through.

3. If making chowder, add soy milk and heat through. Serve with warm tortillas, tortilla chips, or a green salad. Optional: Mexican beer with a lime wedge.

black bean soup

The sun-dried tomatoes are a tasty addition to this hearty soup.

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not in oil)
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 4-oz. can diced green chilies
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 15-oz. cans black beans
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Put sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl. Add enough boiling water to completely cover the tomatoes. Cover the dish and set aside.

2. In a large stewpot over medium heat, sautè the onion and garlic in the canola oil until the onion is translucent. Stir in the green chilies, cumin, broth, and tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Chop the softened sun-dried tomatoes and add to the soup. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the black beans and cook for 5 minutes.

3. If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree about half of the soup. If you’re using a blender or food processor, process about half of the soup and return to the pot. Add salt and stir.

4. Serve with tortillas and a side salad (or maybe some tortilla chips).