Guest Blogger: Willow & Thyme – Tom Yum Pak

12 Nov

With the cold weather coming comfort soup is always on my list. Nicole, author of Willow & Thyme, is no stranger to recipe development. Here she is in her own words, “I am a recently married, vegan, cat mommy studying Dietetics at Hillsborough Community College and working toward my ACE Personal Training Certification. I love to cook and share delicious food because what’s life if you aren’t eating good food?” We couldn’t agree more.

Follow Nicole on her many social media channels:

Blog URL: Willow & Thyme

Social Media:
Willow & Thyme on Facebook
Willow & Thyme on Finding Vegan
Nicole on Twitter
Nicole on Instagram

The new hubby and I recently returned from our honeymoon in Thailand. I cannot wait to show you the photos of the food and the adventures we had– including an epic cooking class at Paresa Resort in Phuket! We had the private class at Recipe. I’ll tell you more about it when I get to sharing all of the photos, but for now I had to share this recipe. Jason and I loved it so much that in the three days since we’ve been home I’ve made it twice and we’ve had it for three meals.

I really hope you try it and I’ll share the other recipes (and will be hosting a giveaway!) starting next week.

Recipe notes: I included a section of the ingredients called “bouquet garni”. If you don’t know what that is have a quick read here. The idea is to keep all your non edible herbs bound together so you can remove them without leaving the remnants. This recipe includes a play on that idea as we’re using different herbs and spices than are traditional, but the result is the same. No rock hard lemongrass and overpowering lime leaves during your meal. If you don’t have a reusable spice bag then use a coffee filter tied off- trust me, it works!

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Tom Yum Pak

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2 as an entree, 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

For bouquet garni:
12 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed
55g fresh galangal+, sliced
2 stalk lemongrass, bottoms sliced until there is no purple left

For soup:
8 cups low sodium vegetable stock
31g enoki mushrooms
142g oyster mushrooms, sliced
118g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
18 cherry tomatoes, halved
153g shallots, halved
7 Thai chilies, sliced at an angle*
2 limes, juice only
3 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
63g carrots, sliced
158g broccoli florets

For garnish:
1 tsp chili oil
fresh cilantro leaves

Method:

1. Bring stock to a boil and add all mushrooms, shallots, tomatoes and bouquet garni. Continue boiling for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.
2. Reduce heat to medium and add chilies, lime juice, soy sauce, carrots and broccoli. Continue to cook until vegetables reach desired tenderness.
3. Serve with chili oil and cilantro to garnish.

Notes:

+ Substitute ginger only if you have to, galangal is a more traditional and authentic flavor
* Use less chilies to reduce the heat of this soup, or seed all of the chilies first.

Guest Blogger: A Vegan Abroad – The ‘emotional’ experiences of a plant-based life

11 Nov

And another new blogger joins the team! Please meet Rachel, author of, A Vegan Abroad, here she is in her own words, “Hi! I’m British, 22, and I’ve accidentally ended up living on a tropical island in Thailand. I work as a teacher, school manager and freelance writer whilst burying myself in fantasy books and my own worldly adventures alike!”

Follow Rachel on her blog, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter.

When I first turned vegan almost 3 years ago, I began to experience a radical change in my emotional state that I couldn’t quite explain. For many vegans it may be a dramatic shift, or perhaps unnoticeable, or a slow, creeping emotional change that you notice all at once later down the line.

Causes for becoming vegan are varied, but a trend within the vegan community is that individuals seem to become more and more involved, often emotional, in their cause, as time goes on.

Reasons for this obviously range from research, having a more open-mind and becoming more aware of atrocities committed in animal production industries. But, it is explicitly linked to our body’s chemistry and the effects dietary changes can have on our moods and emotional levels. Today, I want to focus solely on this impact.

Put simply:

  • Our bodies have a limited capacity in processing more than one ‘complex’ task. Two tasks that happen to fall under this category are: 1. digestion and 2. conducting emotions.
  • It happens to reason, then, that when our bodies are focusing energy on, say, digesting a large meal, our ability to conduct emotion is hindered somewhat. This is something we’re all aware of, to a degree; this concept of ‘comfort eating’.
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Undoubtedly, this is my own vegan comfort food from Ethos in Bangkok.

  • There are particular foods that our bodies struggle more to digest: heavy junk food and meat based products being right at the top of the list, and so in delving further into the mechanics of our bodies we can trace relationships between certain dietary habits and the intensity of our emotions.

What then, does this mean for people making the switch towards plant-based eating?

It’s known that individuals changing their eating habits from omnivore-vegetarian-vegan-raw vegan are likely to experience cravings for foods they used to use, in Rozalind Gruben’s words, as an ’emotional analgesic’.

  • This, amongst other social and ‘craving’ reasons, causes many people to backtrack on their switch, as they find emotional comfort in certain foods.
  • It also brings a new way of experiencing the world into our consciousness. As the intensity of our emotions heightens, our experiences are dramatically altered: from how we react to different situations to how what decisions we make.

How to understand, accept, and deal with these things:

  • Don’t ignore the cravings, many ‘diets’ are damaging because we deprive. We say “oh, I can’t have this anymore.” Instead, examine why these products are are a negative presence in your life. The damaging affect they have on your own body, towards the environment, animals, and other people. Decide: “I won’t have this anymore!”
  • Accepting the change in your emotions is difficult, as, especially in my own culture, being emotional is often synonymous with the being ‘hysterical’ and has heavy connotations of negative behaviour. However, just imagine that you’re on a roller-coaster. It has some dips, a few peaks. Looped y-loops too, and maybe some kick-ass spirals and an underwater cave and- okay you get the picture. Life isn’t just high’s and low’s. It’s not a binary, it’s an expanse of different experience, and emotions.
  • Now, imagine that you’ve just turned vegan, and so you’re now just on a slightly different roller-coaster. The plunges and heights and dizzying turns are all still there, but everything is a little more intense. You feel it all in your body, up a notch. The anger, embarrassment, anxiety, excitement, elation, love, confidence. It’s all there to be felt, but more.

And this isn’t to paint non-vegans, or those who eat foods that are hard to digest, as unfeeling or numb to emotion or that there is any negative judgement to those who do suppress emotion for whatever reasons. There is, after all, a myriad of social and personal influences affect individual experience.

However, in being more aware of this link, we can more easily understand our emotions, and we are more readily able to accept and cope with them.

Personally, I’ve began to feel more honest both towards myself and others. My insecurities, fears, and worries are still present, however I have a more controlled handle on what I can do, if anything, and sometimes on how to simply accept these emotions as part of life. On the flip side, I’ve also learned how to appreciate, love, and connect with the world in an entirely more powerfully positive way.

How has changing towards a plant-based diet changed your outlook on life?

This article is directly inspired by Rozalind Gruben’s research and videos: x, x, x, x, and x.

Guest Blogger: Elderberry Arts – Vegan Protein Smoothie

10 Nov

Being vegan is an overall lifestyle and Claire, author of Elderberry Arts, is an example of such living. Claire is a vegan artisan who write and makes jewellery. Today, she is sharing a vegan protein smoothy recipe with us. Check out her blog, her Hub Page, and follow her on Twitter.  Please welcome Claire!

Vegan Protein Smoothie

A delicious smoothie with a bit of a vegan protein kick that could be great for a quick vegan breakfast or snack. The smoothie is gluten/wheat/soya and nut free and lasts well for a day or two in the fridge. Be sure to place it in a sealed container or bottle as the berries mean that it can stain if spilt.

Makes approximately 500ml/2 servings

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 average sized banana1 cup summer fruits
1 tbsp. vegan protein powder
1/2 cup spinach

In order, place the ingredients into a blender jug. If your blender has a setting for smoothies select that and blend. If not simply blend the vegan protein smoothie until smooth.

Strain through a muslin, jelly bag or fine sieve to remove the seeds, if desired and serve.

 

Hints and Tips

If you do not have a high powdered blender you may need to remove the spinach stalks before adding them to the jug.

If you like your smoothies thicker you can reduce the water to 1/2 cup. Using a larger banana will also produce a thicker smoothie though will also give it a more banana taste.

For a thinner smoothie simply add more water at the start or after blending. If you unsure how much extra water to add then it is best done after blending as you can stir in small amounts at a time and monitor the thickness easier. Make a note of the total water used for an easier smoothie next time you make this vegan protein smoothie.

If you have a high powered blender capable of crushing ice you can also add 2-3 ice cups to the recipe to thin it or make an ice cold smoothie.

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Vegan Protein Powders

There are several different protein powders available that are suitable for vegans. These include pea protein, soya, hemp and rice proteins. It is also possible to buy a mixed protein that is made from a variety of ingredients including lentils, beans and seeds. Each powder has a different nutritional profile and the protein content can vary, along with the amount of carbohydrates, fat and calories in each serving. Price also vary depending on type and brand. Some of the powders, such as hemp have a distinct taste of their own whereas pea protein for example is more neutral. In some cases vegan protein powders can be bought ready flavoured. These can be great for making quick shakes just buy mixing with water or dairy free milk or can add additional flavour to smoothies and green shakes.

Although not entirely vegan, this men’s fitness site has some more detailed information on many vegan and vegetarian protein powders.

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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