Guest Blogger: iheartcrapkitchen – Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto

19 Aug

Another new person to welcome to the VBU! family! Please meet Bridge, author of iheartcrapkitchen. Here she is in her own words, “My name is Bridge and I’m a vegan (for ethical reasons) from Dublin, Ireland. I recently started a food blog and would love to join veganbloggersunite. I mainly do recipes, some my own, some replicated (credit given, obviously!). I also do some reviews of places to get vegan food in Dublin and hope to put together a list of places to get difficult to find vegan ingredients in the city too. In whatever time I have left I’m a visual artist and psychologist studying for an MSc in counseling and psychotherapy. Please follow her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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I wanted to do something really exciting with butternut squash the other evening. Unfortunately I had a tremendously misspent day that wasted a large chunk of my time which would have been better spent thinking about a gourd. This involved me driving to Nutgrove (I have a weird affinity for that place – it’s basically a rudimentary shopping centre that’s nowhere near where I live), getting a ton of shopping, letting the nice cashier scan it all and then realizing I didn’t have my wallet.

Stink. City.

So by the time I got around going back to get my wallet and redoing my shopping closer to home, I just wanted to eat anything. So I went with a straightforward stuffed butternut squash, which was fine, but it was a little like something someone would give a vegetarian on Come Dine With Me:2014-08-08 23.03.41

Fortunately the second dish I made with the remaining squash was infinitely better; a triumph if you will. The soaked cashews are optional but add the extra creaminess. Soak them overnight or to quick-soak them, put them in a bowl of water and microwave for 1½ minutes. Put aside for as long as possible (preferably an hour), then microwave again for 1½ minutes.

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Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1/2 large or 1 small butternut squash, cubed
handful of spinach leaves
1 cup of risotto rice
1 onion, finely chopped small
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of white wine
3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
1 bay leaf
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/4 cup of cashews, soaked
1.5 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
olive oil, for frying and roasting

Method
1. Place the butternut squash in a roasting dish and toss in a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven to roast for about 25 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC/Gas mark 6.
2. In a large frying pan over a low heat, sweat the onions and celery for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove 1/4 cup of the heated veg mixture and set aside.
3. Add in the rice and stir well. Allow it to cook for a minute until the edges become translucent.
4. Pour in the white wine and allow it to fully evaporate, then add in 1/2 a cup of stock.
5. Allow the rice to soak up the stock, adding a further 1/2 cup each time the liquid gets absorbed. Stir when new batches of stock gets added but don’t over-stir – the rice will get smushy. Continue doing this until the rice is al dente – about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, put the 1/4 cup of reserved celery and onion, 1/2 cup of roasted squash, nutritional yeast and 1/2 cup of water into a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.
7. When the rice reaches it’s al dente stage, add in the chunks of butternut squash, creamy mixture from the blender and handful of spinach. Stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Serve it up! (PS. poor image alert!)2014-08-08 23.11.41

Guest Blogger: The Humble Plate – Five Minute Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream

7 Aug

We have a new contributor to VBU! Please meet the author of The Humble Plate Mary. Mary is a nutrition student from Winnipeg, Canada with a love for all things food and all things cat. The Humble Plate is dedicated to simple, comforting recipes which are manageable for all levels of chefs. Follow Mary on her adventure through her blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Welcome Mary!

Hemp hearts, combined with avocado, make a rich, creamy vegan ice cream overflowing with healthy fats. This five minute chocolate-mint ice cream is begging to become part of your summer.  SONY DSC You know those moments in life you realize you’ve been caught in the act of an embarrassing mistake? You search your conscience for what to do.. you could deny your faux-pas and surrender to the blood rush waiting to make it’s way to your cheeks then slowly sink away from social contact until your ego’s recovered.. or you could suck it up, admit you messed up and laugh at yourself.  SONY DSC This is one of those moments. Except, I’m not laughing at me. In fact, if anyone is going to be laughed at it might be you, because you aren’t eating this ice cream. SONY DSC I really want to take credit for purposely designing a killer no-machine-needed vegan ice cream. I want to tell you I had some grand vision of a pile of chocolatey frozen hills dancing in my head as I threw in a dash of this and a pinch of that.

But, that would be a lie.

My real goal here was to make vegan fudgesicles that didn’t include coconut in any form (it’s been done) but after multiple attempts they just kept turning out too popsicle-like. Now don’t get me wrong, I like coconut. It’s delicious, extremely useful for baking in place of lard or shortening (uhh barf?) and it tends to act differently on health (in a good way) than other saturated fats. But, unlike the hundreds of claims made online, it isn’t a miracle food.  SONY DSC

One last attempt to convince myself this could be a fudgecicle and not the perfect ice cream it actually is.. ice cream on a stick, anyone?

As I searched my mind for alternative plant sources of wow-ness that would make my ice pops into a river of velvet, it hit me– I already knew of an amazing little seed that would work perfectly, and doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves.   SONY DSC   Hemp!

I had a flashback to the first time I made my own hemp milk.. it was magical. So rich, so easy. I spent the entire night trying to stay away from the pitcher in the fridge as it called to me..
It also doesn’t hurt that hemp is basically the nutritional powerhouse.
3 Tablespoons of hemp hearts boasts:
10 grams of protein
30% Iron RDA
30% Zinc RDA
70% Magnesium RDA
110% Manganese RDA
10 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in a beautiful omega 6:3 ratio  SONY DSC   Oh yeah — it builds sustainable houses and cars too.. no big deal.

Mixed up with my other favorite fat, avocado, and we have one heck of an easy ice cream ladies and gents! Don’t be scared, this doesn’t taste like avocado, just cold spoonfuls of whipped chocolate. SONY DSC cream3 Over the past few weeks, it seems that the recipe getting the most love (unsurprisingly, this stuff is addicting) has been my five minute cashew maple fudge. Now that it’s finally feeling like summer, I figured it’s time to expand on the  idea and start a recipe series of five minute, no-bake desserts to get you through the rest of the season. Nobody wants to turn on their oven in summer when you don’t have to!

So let’s add this beautiful mistake to the list, shall we? SONY DSC   It’s time to spend five minutes giving this creamy, dreamy seed a chance to brighten up your summer.

If you don’t want to miss a recipe, make sure to add your email to the subscription list on the sidebar or at the bottom of the post to have them sent to your inbox.

Please see under the recipe for a picture tutorial on thawing the ice cream from tupperware.

Five Minute Chocolate-Mint Ice Cream
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 3 hours 30 mins
Total time: 3 hours 35 mins
Serves: 4 Servings or 5-6 Popsicle Molds (depending on mold size)
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 290 calories Fat: 16 grams Protein: 8 grams Fibre: 7 grams Iron: 25% RDA
Ingredients
  • Water – 1 Cup
  • Hemp Hearts – 1/2 Cup
  • Avocado – 1 Whole, Ripe (medium to large)
  • Cocoa Powder – 3 Tablespoons
  • Vanilla – 1 Teaspoon
  • Mint Extract – 1 1/4 Teaspoons
  • Agave or Maple Syrup* – 1/2 Cup (or more to taste)
  • Salt – Large Pinch
Instructions
  1. Blend hemp and 1 cup of water until creamy in blender (blend at least 1 min).
  2. Add the avocado, blend until smooth, wiping down edges as needed (approx. 1-2 min). The texture at this point should be very velvety and light, almost foamy.
  3. Add the rest of ingredients, blend.
  4. Adjust syrup to taste.
  5. Freezing:
  6. Use large, shallow tupperware container(s). Line with parchment paper, spray with cooking oil.
  7. Divide contents evenly between containers, filling about an inch in depth in each.
  8. Cover with Tupperware lid, securing the parchment paper under the lid so it is off the top of the ice cream.
  9. Freeze about 3 hours, checking on it every hour or so and remove when it has reached the consistency of a soft ice cream.
  10. If you freeze too long and it’s hardened or it becomes hard on edges, microwave 10-30 seconds (depending on how much of the ice cream is hard). Mix the ice cream and smooth out with back of spoon until it re-gains a soft texture (see pictures below).
  11. Top with chocolate chips, hemp hearts and, if you want a bit more sweetness, maple syrup!
Notes
*If you want to use table sugar, you can find a rough conversion here:[br]http://www.allaboutagave.com/substituting-agave-nectar-for-other-sugars.php

If you have frozen the ice cream too long (the edges or the entire thing are hard, not the texture of a soft ice cream):

1. Microwave 10-30 seconds (depending on how much is hardened.)SONY DSC

 After microwaving, edges are melting and top is firm but movable. 

2. Cut up ice cream into pieces.

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3. Flip over the pieces on their tops.

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4. Mix pieces until the texture starts to become softer and you can use the back of the spoon to flatten the ice cream and smooth it out.

 SONY DSC

5. Once it reaches your desired texture (somewhere between soft and hard ice cream), pour into bowl.

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6. Enjoy!

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Guest Blogger: Vegiterra – Crunchy Sweet Potato Gnocchi

5 Aug

Hello everyone! I’m always so happy to share new vegan bloggers and this blog happens to be from my province of Ontario. Please meet Kristofir and Christopher who are the brains behind Vegiterra. What is their blog about? Here they are in their own words.

Vegiterra is a vegan recipe blog and a pop-up vegan restaurant that offers creative worldly vegan flavours at events in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas. It was started just this year by Kristofir (the culinary mastermind) and Christopher (the operations guru), with wonderful support from family and friends.”

Check out Vegiterra on their blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Welcome Kristofir and Christopher!

 

 

Gnocchi is a childhood favourite of mine.  My brother and I would spend an entire morning with my Nonna (Italian grandmother) preparing the dough and rolling out enough gnocchi to feed an army of hungry cats.  It is a serious comfort food for many Italians and you don’t have to eat that many to become full.  It must expand in your stomach like a science experiment or something!  

The dough is usually made from potato and egg, but sweet potato gnocchi is also a tasty option which adds another dimension of flavour. (Of course, when making this at home you will omit the egg if you are vegan.) I made this dish last night, and a raccoon disliked the softness of the gnocchi and asked if I could do something to make them crispy.  An experiment was born!  I had a bag of panko bread crumbs and I eagerly breaded and deep fried the entire batch.   What a glorious treat!  
They turned out amazingly, crunchy, chewy, delicately spiced.  Ahhhh mmmmmm. 
Homemade gnocchi takes a few hours to prepare, and if you want the shortcut recipe, buy premade gnocchi and skip ahead to step three the recipe. 
For four servings
  • 2 giant sweet potatoes, cut into thin chunks
  • water for steaming and boiling 
  • 3 cups wheat flour
  • 2 tsp nutmeg 
  • Panko breadcrumbs 
  • Salt to taste 
Step one: Steam the sweet potatoes.  
  1. Steam the sweet potatoes over boiling water for approximately 10 minutes, or until the sweeties are soft.  Tip* to add an extra boost of flavour, add a few star anise pods, lime leaves, or cinnamon sticks while steaming.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
  2. Once cooled, mash the sweet potato into a paste.  
Step two: Preparing the dough 
  1. In a large bowl, mix sweet potato paste, flour, nutmeg and salt and kneed into a smooth ball of dough.  If the dough is still sticky, add more flour.  
  2. Chill for one hour. Chilling dough makes it easier to work with. 
Step three:  Boil the gnocchi
  1. Boil a large pot of salted water.  
  2. Roll small pieces of dough in your hands and drop them into the water.  
  3. Boil for a few minutes until they float to the surface.  
  4. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool so that you can handle them.  
Step four: Breading 
  1. Toss the gnocchi in panko bread crumbs so they are evenly coated.  
Step five: Fry them up!
  1. In a large frying pan, or deep fryer, heat some vegetable oil and gently place each breaded gnocchi in the oil.
  2. Cook until golden brown.
 
You may eat these on their own or in your favourite sauce.   I like them with vegan garlic and cilantro aioli but you do what you like. 

Guest Blogger: Vegan Unite – Interview with Vegan shop Soutache owner Dorota Nocun

23 Jul

There’s a new vegan company around called Vegan Unite, oddly enough. In their own words, “Vegan Unite is a community that believes in ethical consumerism and eco-friendly products. We are a community that sells and buys to support each other. Every little change that we make in our daily habits makes a difference and supporting someone that is like-minded makes a greater impact.”

Vegan Unite has merchant interviews and here’s with the owner of Soutache Shop. Check out their links on their site, facebook, twitter, instagram, and tumblr. Welcome Vegan Unite!

We got an interview vegan Dorota Nocun the owner of Soutache Shop on Vegan Unite.

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What is the story behind your company/product?

My Mum has been a fan of soutache jewelry for a long time. However, she discovered that the majority of soutache  jewelry is made with silk, leather and other animal-derived products.

We’ve put our heads together to come up with something that is both beautiful and doesn’t cause unnecessary suffering. We managed to find non-silk braids, non-wool felt and eco/vegan friendly fake leather. We also asked our friends and relatives to give us their old/unused jewelry so we could recycle the beads and we combed through second-hand shops looking for vintage buttons. All set up and ready to go we started working on our first designs. It took me months to create anything worth showing, but my Mum made a stunning necklace on the first try! She is extremely talented and makes the majority of our designs. Some of the more intricate pieces take weeks to finish. I admire her patience.

The first soutache necklace she made was bought within days and a few months later we decided to open a store online. As far as I’m aware we are the only completely vegan shop that sells soutache jewelry. I am currently living in the UK and my Mum is back in Poland, but we make it work. I mostly manage and promote the store, Beata (my mum) spends every free minute working on the jewelry (she also has a full time job)

We are a tiny company, but we have sold to people all over the world: France, Germany, Holland, Australia, USA, UK and others. We’ve also have been featured twice in WILDFIRE – an Australian all-vegan magazine, which we are very proud of. We try to support a variety of charities whenever possible. Currently we are donating some of our jewelry to help Roxie and her 11 puppies. Please search for ‘Roxy And Her 11 Puppies Need You’ on Facebook to read her story.

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Do you offer custom work?

Yes we do. Send us your idea/design and we can make it happen!

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When did you start your company?

We opened our first online shop two years ago, but my Mum has been making different kinds of jewelry for years.

Where does the inspiration come from?

We both get inspired by nature, music, other cultures and the world around us. I’ve been to Poland last week and put together a few ideas. Can’t wait to see them come to life! :)

Where are you located and where do you ship to?

I am in the UK and my Mum is in Poland. We ship worldwide.

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(Dorota Nocun & Her Mum)

When did you choose the cruelty-free lifestyle and why?

I stopped eating meat when I was 13 after I’ve seen footage from a slaughter house. Even though I was the only vegetarian I knew, and most of my relatives panicked I would die a quick and gruesome death by starvation, my parents were supportive. My Mum adapted our kitchen to my new lifestyle choices and since I became vegan two years ago she found and mastered tons of vegan recipes to cook whenever we see each other. Her vegan cheesecake is to die for! She’s been introducing her friends and our family to vegan food and lifestyle and thanks to her a number of people including my Dad and Grandma are eating less and less meat. I am very proud of her. Vegan diet is still very unusual in Poland.

I live in a 100% vegan household in Liverpool, UK, with my vegan boyfriend and our dog, Boo.

What is your favourite Vegan Snack?

There is far too many! But if I had to name one it would probably be Booja-Booja truffles. Thankfully they are quite expensive so I can’t eat them all the time, because trust me I would if I could afford it! lol

If you could have any animal as a pet, what would you pick? And why?

I share my life with a doggie, called Boo, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. Not even for a unicorn! I love him SO very much. (Boo has been fed vegan food since he was a tiny puppy and he is in perfect health BTW)

Our Vegan Unite shop: http://www.veganunite.com/soutacheshop/

Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SoutacheShop/Our

Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/dorotkaela/handmade-jewelry/

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Guest Blogger: Cheeky-vegan – VLT Open Sandwich: Seitan ‘Bacon’, Lettuce & Tomato with a Sicilian Tomato & White Bean Purée

22 Jul

Welcome back Sian! Sian White is from the UK and author of The Cheeky Vegan. Last time Sian was on VBU! she contributed her Thai-Style Squash and Tofu Curry recipe. Do give it a try and let her know VBU! sent you. Welcome back Sian!

Seitan Bacon. Or what I like to call ‘Beican’.

Vegan BLT open sandwich on homemade wholemeal bread with a Sicilian inspired tomato and white bean purée.

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Ok, I feel the need to justify this slightly, as I stated very bluntly in my about page that I don’t miss the taste of bacon. It’s true, I don’t. I never find myself thinking ‘I could murder a bacon bap’, and just last week a colleague of mine stank out the office with the smell of bacon, and it didn’t affect me. Naturally many other colleagues developed food envy and an entire conversation about how great bacon is followed (with yours truly keeping very quiet).

I’m not fussed about the taste of bacon, but I know a lot of people who are. You cannot deny that there are a lot of vegan ‘bacon’ recipes out there, ranging from aubergine (eggplant) to dried coconut flakes. Clearly some vegans are craving a crispy, salty sandwich filling.

What I am interested in is seitan – I find it fascinating. It’s so easy to make from scratch and it’s extremely versatile in terms of flavour and cooking method. Simmered and sliced, it makes a perfect, juicy centrepiece for a traditional roast dinner. Baked, it takes on a chewy and dense texture which makes an amazing sandwich filling. Obviously it has many more uses, but I’m not going to list them here. Instead I’m going to tell you how to make seitan that tastes and feels like bacon.

[A note to UK readers – seitan isn’t as well known here as it is overseas, so don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. It’s a meat substitute made with Vital Wheat Gluten, which is basically flour with the starch washed out of it. Unless you live in an area with a large whole foods shop nearby, VWG is easier to buy online, and I get mine from Honest to Goodness, where it is reasonably priced and delivered very promptly.]

If you’re planning on making this whole thing from scratch, you’ll need a little forward planning, as baking bread and seitan at the same time is a little hardcore. Make the seitan on one evening and the bread the following day. If you have a bread maker, you could get away with making them both at the same time, it’s entirely up to you. If you have a short attention span like me, and have a tendency to get distracted by video games and Adventure Time, it’s probably wise to spread this over a couple of days.

Of course, using shop-bought bread is perfectly acceptable. I won’t judge.

CHEAT ALERT: If you have a bread maker, you can definitely afford to be lazy with this – seitan made in a bread maker comes out just as good and simply involves pressing a button and having the afternoon off. Bread maker recipe adapted below.

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Ingredients

Seitan Bacon

  • 1.5 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, crushed

 

Please note I’m not going to provide a recipe for the bread, as there are a million of them out there, and I just whipped this up quickly in the bread maker. This post is really all about the ‘beican’ and I want to keep it that way.


Method

Pre-heat oven to 160° C. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to create a dough. It will feel slightly greasy to the touch. Knead for about 5-10 minutes (depending on your kneading skills) until gluten strings develop and the dough starts to feel quite tough. Try to keep it in a slightly flat ‘slab’, to ensure thin bacon-like slices at the end. Wrap in foil and bake for an hour.

Important note: When the seitan comes out of the oven it will only be partially cooked. If you don’t wish to fry it afterwards, then bake for about 90 minutes in total. However bear in mind that you won’t get the crispy exterior that comes with frying. I take it out after an hour while it’s still slightly doughy in the middle, slice it thinly and then fry it over a high heat in some olive oil. This makes it go lovely and crispy on the outside, while remaining chewy on the inside. Make sure the oil and pan are very hot before you add the seitan, and only fry it for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Keep an eye on it, as once it burns it’s not very nice!

Only fry what you need at the time – the rest can be wrapped in cling film and will keep in the fridge for about a week.

If you’re using a bread maker, start by adding all the wet ingredients. Then add the VWG and sprinkle other dry ingredients on top of this. Set to a manual cycle with about 5-10 minutes of kneading and 60 minutes of baking. If your machine doesn’t allow you to cut rise sequences, just reduce to the minimum time allowed. It won’t affect the seitan.

Once the seitan is ready, construct your VLT by spreading the Sicilian purée on your bread, piling on some shredded lettuce, a couple of slices of tomato and then layering on some lovely beican. Enjoy with hash browns. Gobble while it’s hot.

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Guest Blogger: New Vegan Age – Elizabeth Castoria interview

2 Jul

Please welcome back the ever wonderful Tom from New Vegan Age. Tom has been a guest blogger on VBU! a few times: Vegan CreedHarvey Diamond InterviewVegans are good for your restaurant’s business (Kim Stahler)World Vegan DayA Perfect Time to Stop eating AnimalsSupport vegan business and organizations. Please follow on New Vegan Age on the blog. Welcome back Tom!

 

Interview by Tom Epler Elizabeth Castoria is not yet a mononymic vegan like Isa or Victoria, Gene or Wayne, but with last month’s publication of How to be Vegan (Artisan, 2014), the former Editorial Director of VegNews is well on her way. The well-written, beautifully-designed handbook makes a great gift for vegan-curious friends and colleagues, since it’s fun, conversational, and informative without being preachy or pretentious.

 
This week, Elizabeth answered a few questions about her vegan journey, her tenure at VegNews, and the publication of her colorful, fact-filled new book. I recommend ordering a copy for yourself, friends, and family—even though I don’t normally encounter words like “zillion” or “nohow,” I loved How to be Vegan, because reading it felt like a conversation with a fun, enthusiastic friend.New Vegan Age: Why, when, and how did you become vegan? Did you have any close vegan friends or family members who modeled or encouraged veganism?
Elizabeth Castoria: I went vegan when I was about 17. I had already been a vegetarian for a few years before that, and then made the switch after learning more about the issues. (And, yes, I did this learning by way of the cute vegan skater dude whom I was dating at the time!) There was actually a small group of friends in my hometown who were vegan, so that definitely eased the transition.
 
NVA: How did your daily work as Editorial Director at VegNews help develop your ability to engage readers in the book’s chapters and capsules?
 
EC: Through my work at the magazine, I definitely got to develop both my writing and the ability to represent ideas visually, like the little charts and graphs in the book. It’s really fun to add another layer of content that helps convey ideas in a different way.
 
NVA: What was glamorous about your time at VegNews? Travel? Parties? What might people be surprised to learn made it difficult?
 
EC: Ha! I don’t know that I’d use the word “glamorous” necessarily. I did have the chance to meet and work with so many wonderful, amazing people in the vegan world, and report on all the completely inspiring work that they were doing. That was such a rewarding part of the job!
 
NVA: Your book tackles some difficult and serious topics (animal cruelty, nutrition, and factory farming) in an informative, yet non-accusatory and non-judgmental way. Did you ever have trouble striking that balance?
 
EC: When I first went vegan, I definitely had a different approach than I do now (admittedly, this was when I was a teenager, so I was a little bit more brash in general!). The older I get, the more I realize that people are dealing with different things in their lives—sometimes even depending on the day!—so it’s really important to just meet people where they are and provide information so that people can make their own choices. Nobody likes being yelled at or talked down to (least of all me!).
 
NVA: Well, we hope the response since publication last month has been great. Your audience for this book is non-vegans; it introduces them to our world. Since you’ve been vegan for so many years, was it ever difficult to keep that newness in mind? Did you keep a particular non-vegan friend or family member in mind as you were writing?
 
EC: That was one of the really fun challenges of writing the book—going back and re-thinking through all those questions that someone who is new to veganism would have to ask themselves. I have a number of non-vegan friends and family members, and over the years the questions they’ve asked me about how I live this way definitely all bubbled up when I was writing the book.
 
NVA: The book is fun and well-written, and the charts, flowcharts, and Venn diagrams were unusually informative and useful. (The “Food or Not Food?” pop quiz neatly summarizes what it takes many other writers—including this one—entire blogs to develop). Do you think, or even doodle, in graphic representations?
 
EC: Thank you! I really enjoyed getting to come up with the concepts for the sidebars. Making graphic elements is definitely something that I learned working on the magazine content, and I always love seeing how other publications (in print and online) use graphics to tell stories, so it does seem like an ingrained part of storytelling now. (Though, I have to say, I’m immensely grateful for the amazing job that the design team did on the graphics, because the sketches I sent over were these horribly drawn little stick figures!)
 
NVA: They’re sophisticated, with lots of great info, but somehow simple—condensed, clean, and inviting. I also really liked your meal-planning encouragement to enjoy beans, fruits, and vegetables for their own sake, and not to always seek out processed replacements for things we were accustomed to eating as omnivores. Has that appreciation come for you in time?
 
EC: You know, I love eating a variety of things—including vegan meats and ice creams and that sort of thing—but one of the main things I wanted to convey in that section was just that there are so incredibly many varieties of fruits, veggies, beans, and grains that people might not be familiar with or not be in the routine of eating. For anyone, vegan or otherwise, it’s important to try new things!
 
NVA: Agreed! Have you ever successfully introduced a friend, family member, or reader (through VegNews or this book) to veganism? How does it feel to know that, with this book, you’ll likely be doing that for strangers for years and decades to come?
 
EC: I love your vision of the future! (And I really hope you’re right—I’d love to be helpful for decades!!) All the feedback so far on the book has been really positive, which is incredibly satisfying, and it sounds as though people are finding it useful. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that even folks who have been vegan for years are getting handy tidbits out of the book. It’s all been such a fantastic experience!
 
NVA: It must be something to “cross over,” from covering authors to being covered as one. What else are you up to these days? Any interesting plans or projects on the horizon?
 
EC: I’ve been developing a new project, but it’s still very nascent, so I won’t go into it too much. The newest thing so far has been that I’ve started blogging on my website (elizabethcastoria.com), which has been a fun challenge! I’ve been creating content in the framework of other organizations for a long time, so it’s really fun to think of the kind of content that I want to create on my own. 
NVA: Thank you, Elizabeth! Please let us know when the new project is ready.

Guest Blogger: Ordinary Vegan – A World Without Fish & Stir-Fried Vegan Chicken in Coconut Buns

19 Jun

Looks like Nancy M – author of Ordinary Vegan is back. Click here for Nancy’s first contribution, a fantastic recipe for a No Bake Vegan Ricotta Lasagna. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

You can find Nancy on her blogFacebook, and Twitter.  Let’s welcome back Nancy to VBU!

A World Without Fish & Stir-Fried Vegan Chicken in Coconut Buns

Vegan Stir-Fry in Coconut Buns

Last week I was very honored to have an article published in T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies. Since today is Earth Day, I am sharing that article about the environment and how we can help to protect it.

A World Without Fish: The Link Between Personal Action and The Environment

Last year I received my Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s online course at eCornell. I was very excited to learn more about Dr. Campbell’s philosophy on food and the connection between food and disease. One thing I wasn’t expecting was an eye-opening lecture from Bruce Monger, PhD about the environmental impact of food production on the ocean. Bruce Monger, PhD teaches oceanography in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. He is also involved in numerous projects and studies involving whales and our ocean’s ecosystem.

One of the most enlightening details I learned from Dr. Monger was how nutrient runoff from agriculture, specifically fertilizer, which is primarily nitrogen, stimulates exceptionally strong growth of algae. So what is wrong with algae you might ask? When algae dies, bacteria consumes the dead algae for food, but that’s not all it consumes. It also consumes all the oxygen in the water. Simply put, the more nutrients you dump in the ocean, the more algae it produces which increases the amount of bacteria that eats the algae, and the oxygen in the water. This reduces the oxygen to zero and any fish you can think of needs oxygen to live. When a region’s oxygen is down to zero, the ocean floor is completely uninhabitable by any organism that requires oxygen for growth. This is called a “dead zone.” With the increasing use of fertilizer for factory farms, the more dead zones we have popping up around the globe suffocating our marine life.

Sadly, the agriculture industry in the USA is about to become larger. China is the world’s top dairy importer and American dairy farmers are seizing the opportunity to hawk their dairy products to Chinese consumers. According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council, shipments to China alone grew to $706 million last year, up from $137 million in 2009. Unfortunately, it gets worse. China’s largest meat producer has just acquired US pork giant Smithfield which is the globe’s largest hog producer. The deal is to send the USA made pork to China to meet their increasing demands for meat, relegating us to be one big factory farm for China.

The quickest solution to this imminent threat is to eliminate our own consumption of factory farmed products including meat and dairy. We are the solution the world is waiting for. We can take care of this problem. We have the power and what would be the downside? Our health would improve, our skin would glow, we would lose weight and reduce the risk of suffering from a chronic disease in our lifetime. It is that simple. Your personal actions can save yourself, marine life and the ocean. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Now on to delicious plant-based vegan food. I am always on the look-out for healthy meatless family dinners. I think this vegan chicken stir fry fits the bill. The kids will love the soft, sweet coconut buns and the stir fry is a great way to sneak lots of vegetables into your family’s diet. I used a product called Beyond Meat Seasoned Vegan Chicken. All Beyond Meat products have non-gmo ingredients, are gluten-free and kosher. The chicken is made with pea protein and amaranth and should satisfy your meat eaters. Hope you enjoy this plant-based vegan recipe as much as I did. Always remember, every plant-based meal you serve has a positive impact on the environment and the future of our children. Happy Earth Day!

Stir-Fried Vegan Chicken in Coconut Buns
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Ordinary Vegan
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-3
I used a two-tier bamboo steamer basket to steam my buns but you could use any kind of steamer over a pan of medium heat boiling water. Also, get creative with those vegetables. Anything goes in a stir-fry.
Ingredients
  • Coconut Buns
  • 1 14-ounce can of light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup of self-raising flour (If you don’t have self-raising flour – make your own by combining 1 3/4 cups regular flour with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt)
  • Chicken stir-fry
  • 6 ounces of vegan chicken (or tofu)
  • 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 mushrooms, any kind, sliced
  • 1 small red fresno chili, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small bunch broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce (and extra for dipping)
  • 2 tablespoons of lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • Lime wedges to serve
Instructions
Coconut buns
  1. Put the flour, maple syrup and coconut milk into a food processor and process until a dough forms. Remove and lightly knead the dough on a lightly foured surface. You may need a little four because it is a wet dough. Roll out 4 to 5 balls of dough. Place the balls into paper muffin holders and place into the steamer basket with lid, in a single layer. I like to use a bamboo steamer. Place the covered steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for 10 minutes.
Stir-Fry
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken, mushrooms and chili with the hoisin sauce. Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium non-stick pan and lightly toast the sesame seeds. Set aside.
  3. Place the broccolini in a steamer and steam for 3-5 minutes or until bright green and still has some firmness. You could also place in a microwave-safe container and microwave for 1 minute.
  4. Heat the oil in the pan you used for sesame seeds. When hot, add the vegan chicken mixture and saute for 5 minutes. Add the broccolini and saute another minute or two.
  5. Place the chicken and vegetables onto a plate. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with some hoisin sauce on the side and lime wedges.
  6. Cut hot coconut buns in half and spoon vegan chicken mixture in, squeeze a lime wedge over it, a little extra hoisin sauce and eat.

Guest Blogger: Gormandize – Fennel & Cabbage Tahini Slaw with Chickpeas and Cashews

29 May

Always a pleasure to welcome back a returning contributor to VBU! Please raise a fork to Keely, author of Gormandize. Her previous recipes have been lovely, please do check them out: Turnovers (Paifala)Vegan Bean and Mushroom Jambalaya, and Chai Banana Loaf,

Connect with her on: FacebookTwitterPinterest and of course her blog Gormandize. Welcome back Keely!

I call this little creation a ‘tahini slaw’ – it’s essentially a coleslaw but the bulk of the creamy dressing is made from delicious nutritious tahini rather than lots of gluggy and nutritionally deficient mayonnaise. It’s versatile, of course, so feel free to make your own adaptations. In this recipe I’ve used not just cabbage but thinly sliced fennel which gives it a wonderful crisp flavour and I’ve added a can of chickpeas to bulk it up a bit and turn it into a main event dish rather than a side. If you’re just bringing it along to a bbq then you can choose to omit the chickpeas.

This recipe makes enough for 2-3 people to have a big bowl of it for lunch or dinner, or for 4-6 people to have as a side salad.

Fennel & Cabbage Tahini Slaw with Chickpeas and Cashews

Ingredients
1/4 medium green cabbage (you can substitute purple cabbage or a mixture of both)
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 small Spanish onion
1 small granny smith apple
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup roasted cashews
2 tbsp unhulled tahini
1 tsp vegan mayonniase
1 tsp soy sauce
Juice of small 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Cracked pepper, to taste
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, washed and halved.


To Make
1. Very thinly slice the cabbage, fennel bulb and Spanish onion and toss together in a bowl. Cut the core out of the apple and cut into thin matchsticks. Add to the salad along with the chickpeas. Once you’ve added the apple, sprinkle a bit of the lemon juice over the salad to stop the apple going brown while you make the dressing.
2. Combine the tahini, mayonnaise, soy sauce, remaining lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl or jar. Mix well to combine. It may be very thick at this stage, but don’t worry it will thin out as you mix it through the salad. Season to taste with cracked pepper.
3. Add the tahini dressing to the salad and mix thoroughly until the salad is evenly coated with the dressing. Break up the cashews a bit with your hands and toss them in along with the halved cherry tomatoes. Mix well and serve garnished with extra cashews (optional).


Notes: You can use the cherry tomatoes to decorate the top instead of mixing them through if you like. 


Serves 2-3 as a main or 4-6 as a side salad.

Guest Blogger: Lizz Delicious – Beer Banana Cake with Whisky Cream Cheese Icing

27 May

Our newest VBU! contributor is Lizz, author of Lizz Delicious. I am incredibly curious about Lizz’s recipe contribution as it really sound decadent and interesting – in a good way! Great way to start off a day with an alcohol dessert. Here’s Lizz in her own words, “My name is Lizz and I started my vegan food blog in 2011. Lizz Delicious shares my love of vegan food through original recipes, restaurant features, personal stories, and more with a Texas twist.” Find Lizz Delicious on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter. Welcome Lizz!

 

After dinner Wednesday I was sitting on the couch thinking to myself, “I want to make cupcakes. But I also want to make bread. And, hey, I have some super ripe bananas, too. I should make banana bread as well.” But that sounded like way too much work for a weeknight (I think you’ll agree) and as I sat and pondered which of these things I would like more, Chris mentioned that the growler she had filled with beer from the Drafthouse wasn’t getting used enough and would soon go flat, something more awesome and even more wonderful sounding sprang into my mind.

I’ve never seen beer and bananas combined, but the idea sounded amazing to me that night. And I already had purchased vegan cream cheese to make frosting for cupcakes. So far, this all sounded intriguing, but there was another element I felt it needed. After a few moments, I sat upright on the sofa, turned to Chris and exclaimed, “beer banana sheet cake with whisky cream cheese frosting!”

And in a flash, I was kitchen bound. Not a minute too soon, either, as I didn’t find myself enjoying a piece until 9:30 that night. Phew!

I based this recipe on the one for Best-Ever Banana Bread found in my cookbook, Vegan Glass Jar Goodies, which includes nine other fantastic and tasty recipes for vegan baked goods and other delicacies which can be prepared by oneself or given to others as gifts, in jars of course. I decreased the liquid in my original recipe somewhat and added 1/2 cup of Chris’s beer. The frosting made just enough, and I’m so pleased with it I might use the recipe for any and every other type of cake I make in the future. I love me some whisky. Neither flavor is overwhelming. I would say, it tastes very similar to their original versions- just BETTER. I think you should try it out and see what you think. So, here you go.

CAKE INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cups turbinado sugar

2 very ripe mashed bananas

1/4 cup soymilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup beer

Walnut or pecan pieces, optional

CAKE DIRECTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the soymilk, vegetable oil, and beer and whisk together. Add the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into a lightly oiled 8×8 baking dish and place in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for at least five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t frost the cake if warm!

ICING INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons plain vegan cream cheese

1 tablespoon vegan butter

2 tablespoons whisky

1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar

ICING DIRECTIONS

Add the cream cheese substitute and vegan butter to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30-45 seconds until they begin to soften, then whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the whisky and mix again. Slowly add your powdered sugar, sifting as you do, to ensure your frosting is not clumpy. Mix with a handheld mixer until sugar is incorporated. If desired, you can microwave the whisky with the cream cheese sub and butter, to bake off some of the alcoholic content. Pour the frosting onto the center of the cooled cake and then smooth over the top with a silicon or rubber spatula. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

Makes 12 square sized servings.

 

Guest Blogger: Ordinary Vegan – No Bake Vegan Ricotta Lasagna

26 May

Hurray for new VBU! contributors! Please meet Nancy M – author of Ordinary Vegan. Nancy has a fantastic recipe for a No Bake Vegan Ricotta Lasagna. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I’m also digging the ‘no bake part’. Here is Nancy in her own words, “I’m Nancy M – A free-spirited music loving girl who just wants everyone to get along. The movie, “Forks Over Knives” inspired me to live a vegan life. My hope is to inspire others by sharing my experiences, tips and recipes to make it as easy as possible for you to choose a a plant-based diet. Be forewarned – becoming vegan will change your life forever! Welcome to Ordinary Vegan.”

You can find Nancy on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Let’s welcome Nancy to VBU!

 

 

no bake vegan ricotta lasagna 680

“The steeper the climb, the greater the view”
Vegan Actor, Musician, Jared Leto

This week I was thinking about my hard won epiphany. It was the moment I realized that I can survive and be happy without something I always thought I needed to exist. I could never have experienced that spiritual awakening had I not changed my diet three years ago. Before I became vegan, I always felt like I was walking around a jungle with a machete in my hand, carving my path one underbrush at a time. After I became vegan, I didn’t need that machete anymore. The jungle dissolved and I could see everything I needed to know about the world. I wasn’t alone anymore. My existence was interconnected to everything around me.

It all began when I started to feel my energy change. It was probably about 3 or 4 months into my vegan diet. My first inkling of things to come was when I started to get rid of that scared part of myself. That part of me that used to hold me back. But that wasn’t the only thing. My diet provided me with energy, peace, contentment and more love for all sentient beings. It took me awhile to understand how it all tied into veganism, but when you ditch eating animals, not only does your health improve, but you are making a powerful connection to the world by saving animals and the planet. You can’t help but become more evolved.

I believe no matter where you are in your vegan journey, full-time or part-time, you can experience this same spiritual growth. Every plant based meal you consume or serve to your family is cultivating compassion for the world. The more plant based meals you eat, the more powerful the results.

Now on to food. Oh my goodness! This no bake ricotta lasagna was so clean, fresh and yummy. You can use whatever vegetables you desire, and cook them (or not) in whatever way you want. There are certain vegetables I like to blanch and certain vegetables I like grilled. So these are personal choices. You can also make your own vegan ricotta or do what I did. I used a commercial (no oil) vegan ricotta provided to me by those two awesome young women, Susana and Marika, from Avellena who were trying to raise money for their cheese through Indigogo. The good news is they raised enough money and met their goal so hopefully we will see this yummy cheese on store shelves soon. My assistant and I shared this vegan ricotta lasagna for lunch and her quote was:

“If all vegan cheese tasted like this, I could definitely go vegan”

Hands down, Avellena is winning the #vegancheesewars so far. Hope you enjoy this plant based recipe as much as we did. Wishing you a compassionate week and thanks for being part of our plant based community.

 

No Bake Ricotta Lasagna with Zucchini, Spinach, Asparagus & Tomatoes
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Ordinary Vegan
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
I used vegetable broth instead of oil to saute the garlic and tomatoes. If necessary, keep adding more to keep the vegetables from sticking.
Ingredients
  • 8 Asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced (preferably on a mandoline)
  • 3 cups mixed red & yellow cherry tomatoes, halved (approximately 2 pints)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth plus 2/3 cup divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 fresh ground black pepper
  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 cup vegan ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil, chopped (& some for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Fill a large non-stick skillet with water half way up. Bring to boil and add asparagus. Cook for 3-5 minutes making sure you don’t overcook and it still has a bite. Remove from simmering water.
  2. Add spinach and blanch for one minute. Set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick small grill pan. When it is very hot add the zucchini and grill on each side for one minute or two. Just until it has some good grill marks. (Or you can just blanch or eat raw if you don’t want to go through the trouble of grilling.)
  4. Pour out the water in the large non-stick skillet, wipe dry and heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Add the garlic and cook until soft about 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until soft. About 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock. Simmer about 1-2 minutes. Add remaining cup of tomatoes and cook until warm, another 2 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook lasagna according to package instructions until it is al dente. Drain
  6. Toss pasta in skillet to coat. Stir in the basil, reserving some for garnish.
  7. Divide pasta among 4 plates. Add a teaspoon or two of ricotta and some spinach leaves onto each lasagna sheet. Roll up each lasagna sheet. Top each plate evenly with the asparagus, zucchini and cherry tomato mixture. Sprinkle each plate with fresh basil and fresh ground black pepper. Serve. Don’t worry if it cools down, this dish tastes great at room temperature.

 

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