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Guest Blogger: The Veggy Side of Me – My Soft Sesame Buns

23 Oct

The third time is always the charm. Please welcome back Laura, from The Veggy Side of Me, as she’s back with a brand new recipe for soft sesame buns. Her previous posts Aperizcubes Salty Rice Cubes and Black Olives and Rosemary bread were very well received.

As an Italian living in Paris for 11 years she has a very interesting perspective. Follow The Veggy Side of me on Facebook and of course the blog. Welcome back Laura!

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After trying this recipe you’ll never buy hamburger buns in a store again, trust me! They are soft and tasty, with no dairy/egg and fresh from the oven!

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup rice milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tablespoons organic coconut oil (melted/liquid)
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
Olive oil – sesame seeds

PREPARATION
In the bowl of a standing mixer, stir the yeast into the rice milk until dissolved. Add the coconut oil, sugar and salt and stir until well combined.
Add the flour and knead at low speed for 4/6 minutes. Let the dough rise for one hour (double size). Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each piece into a tight ball. Transfer the balls onto a baking sheet and let them rise until they look puffy and hamburger-sized (approximately 30 – 40 minutes).

Brush your buns with olive oil and bake at 175°C for 15/20 minutes, until golden on the tops).
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Guest Blogger: Rachel In Veganland – Thoughts on the Tattooed Vegan Body”

1 Sep

Always wonderful to welcome back a VBU! alumni and Rachel, author or Rachel in Veganland is certainly one. Her first post on VBU! titled Not Skinny was incredibly popular and poignant. You can see her second post Tahini Chickpeas here. And her third post Breakfast Polenta here. Please welcome Rachel for a fourth time with another thought provoking article! You can follow Rachel’s posts through email, and find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Welcome back Rachel!

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Recently, I got tattooed again. There are few photographs of my body here on the blog but if you follow my Instagram feed, I’m pretty open about any time I’m back in the chair and under the needle. I love tattoos and tattooing–I’ve wanted to be heavily tattooed for my entire life. My love of body ink recently culminated with the completion of my Alice in Wonderland half sleeve–a project that my tattooer and I have been working on for nearly 3 years. Suddenly, I realized the other day that I’ve become the person (at least visually) that I’ve always hoped I would be. I guess I am finally at the point in which I can say with confidence that I am heavily tattooed. (Finally!)

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I often find myself thinking about tattoos. Mine, my friends’, the tattoos I see via social media, the ones my tattooer is making for his other clients, you get the picture. I’ve always been fascinated by the way in which people physically and visually engage my tattoos and by default my tattooed body. At my last place of work, I was always asked about my tattoos, while my male counterparts were not. I’m nearly always approached in public by strangers who ask about my tattoos, regardless of who I am with, and I’ve never seen any of my tattooed male friends approached by people we don’t know for inquiries about their ink.

Coming from a gender studies background, I’ve put my sociological goggles on and watched with interest the changes in how people engage me as I’ve become more and more heavily tattooed. Then, back in December, a friend of mine posted this article to Facebook. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

(As in stop reading this, and read the Guardian piece. Right. Now.)

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Suddenly, everything I’d been thinking and feeling as a tattooed lady began to fall into place.

Because I’m becoming more and more engrossed in and have always been enamored with tattoo culture, I’m becoming more and more aware of heavily tattooed ladies in the public eye: we have starlets like Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga who are visibly tattooed, one of my all time favorite fictional characters Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and then models like my major celeb crush Ellegy Ellem who have made their careers from being badass tattooed curvy ladies. That all being said, the world of tattooing is still largely male dominated. There are several female tattooers (Heather Bailey and Marina Inoue are two of my favorites that my tattooer introduced me to.) who are gaining popularity, and celebrity tattooing brought along by TV shows like Miami and LA Ink and Ink Master have also begun to normalize women’s place as both the tattooers and the tattooed.

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“Did it hurt?!” (Of course it did. Some more than others, no I don’t mind the pain.)

“How many do you have?!” (11, and I count my half sleeve as one now.)

“Aren’t you worried about getting a ‘real job’ with those?” (Absolutely not.)

And, the cherry on top: sitting at, oh my favorite watering hole for example, and having some random person walk up and grab my sleeved arm, and start touching my tattoos.

Now, here’s where intersectionality comes into play.

I’ve thought a lot lately about the potential overlaps between vegans, veganism, and tattooing. A lot of vegans that I know personally and that I see on the interwebs happen to be tattooed. Several of my veg-lebrity crushes: Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Jasmin Singer, and Melisser Elliott are all heavily tattooed ladies. (Also aside–ever find it interesting that the blogosphere in general not to mention the vegan blogosphere is dominated primarily by women?! That’s a whole other cup of tea, but couldn’t write this post without a mention.)

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So: we have the tattooed body. We have the vegan body. The female body. Now, how about the tattooed vegan female body? As a vegan, as a woman, and as a curvy tattooed lady, there’s a lot of scrutiny placed upon my body by friends, family members, strangers. As soon as someone knows I’m vegan, they see me differently. They see my body differently. The begin to read my physicality by the preprogrammed stereotype of vegans that so many outside of the vegan world are presented with. (Specifically I’m thinking of the: toothpick/malnourished/deprived trinity of prejudgement.) I’m not a toothpick by any means. I’m proud to say, hell yeah, I’ve got some curves. I hope that I successfully break those stereotypes and welcome people to the idea that vegans come in all shapes and sizes.

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The same goes for my tattoos–as soon as someone sees that I’m heavily tattooed the way that they engage my body visually, from physical contact to staring at my larger or more noticeable ink, changes. I hope that I can break those stereotypes too. That tattooed women are “cheap,” and don’t care about their bodies, that tattooed women’s bodies are for male consumption and because they lack tangible “feminine” value should be placed within male control. In fact I feel the opposite. Just like the food choices I make, each and every one of my tattoos has been a deliberate, conscious decision that brings me joy and makes me feel at once feminine, powerful, and sexy. By taking control of what my own skin looks like, every waking moment only shows that this body and skin are MINE and that they hold real value to me as truly personal sources of both beauty and pride.

To paraphrase my favorite section of that brilliant Guardian article (and adding my own food/vegan philosophy to the mix): by choosing what I put on and in my body I’m saying that MY standards as a queer, vegan, tatted lady are more important than those society might try and place on me. My very skin is an act of defiance.

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.

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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.

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