Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adopt-A-Turkey: It Is Not Too Late!

I have been absent from blogging for several weeks. The short of it is that I have been busy and have not had a chance to focus on blogging. I will get back into the groove at some point in the near future.

I wanted to share the Adopt-A-Turkey project from Farm Sanctuary. If you don't already know about this, I recommend you give this site a view. This campaign offers a humane alternative during Thanksgiving by offering a chance to donate money to sponsor a turkey. It is after Thanksgiving, but not too late to donate to help sponsor a turkey.

As a vegan I do not consume turkey, but felt I needed to do more. Each year John and I donate money to save a turkey. I like the idea of knowing that my money is going directly to the sponsorship of turkeys during this time of year. Not all turkeys are as lucky as those saved by Farm Sanctuary. There are more than 46 million turkeys that are killed each year so that those in the United States can celebrate Thanksgiving. These and all factory farmed turkeys are subject to cruel practices such as being packed into small cages, de-beaking, de-toeing, genetic manipulation, rough handling during transport, hanging from metal shackles, heads submerged in electrified water, throats slashed, and many other awful practices. I hope you will consider being part of the solution this year and future years by having a meatless Thanksgiving and donating to Farm Sanctuary.

I hope you all had a Happy Turkey-free and cruelty-free Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mint Hot Chocolate Almond Drink

It is the time of year when you start seeing Silk seasonal creations such as Pumpkin Spice and Nog. I like those well enough, but I'm crazy about the mint chocolate flavor! Facebook has been buzzing with talk about the new flavors in the store (ok, maybe only for those of you with lots of vegan friends). John was at Whole Foods and I asked him to pick up the chocolate mint kind. Much to my dismay, they were out of that kind and only had the pumpkin spice.

I am not a fan of the pumpkin spice. I always expect it to taste like pumpkin and it doesn't. I know it is just the spices from a pumpkin pie, but I want it to taste like pumpkin. Instead of sulking, I decided that I would make my own version of the minty drink. I looked through our cupboards and felt like I had the right combination and got to work. I must say that this recipe is as good as the store bought version. Although, I'll probably still buy it once and a while for a treat!

Mint Hot Chocolate Almond Drink
  • 1 cup almond milk (soy or coconut would work too)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan, fair trade chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Place the soy milk into a small saucepan and turn the heat onto medium. Whisk in the chocolate chips and cocoa powder and whisk until the chips melt. Add in the agave nectar and extracts and whisk again until warm.

Pour into a mug and serve warm!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago in September I opened our mailbox to find a large envelope addressed to me from my Doctor. I knew some form of communication was coming from him, but my heart still raced as I was unsure of what the communication would say. I felt unsettled as I ran to the house. I stood on the porch and contemplated if I should open the envelope. Once opening it I knew my life would be different, although I did not know how. But I had to open it.

As my fingers trembled, I opened the envelope and read the note. Dear Amanda..... What came next, I could not even decipher because I was in shock as I read the words. The letter informed me that I had Celiac disease and that I would have to start a strict gluten free diet immediately.

I opened the door and walked in the house to John cooking Pad Thai (with wheat noodles nonetheless) and I burst into tears. Concerned, he ran over to me asking what was wrong. I handed him the letter and he read. I knew my life was going to change. I am accustomed to changing my diet as I had done it twice before. Once at the age of 14 when I became vegetarian and then when I became vegan about three years ago. This was different though, this wasn't because I wanted to save animals from a life of torture and suffering. This had nothing to do with a personal conviction. This was because I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

I did not even want to eat that evening because I knew that our dinner was what was making me sick. John tried to convince me that I should take gradual steps towards gluten free to help ease the transition. Those of you that know me know that when I make a commitment to something I go all in. This would be no different. The next day, I started my gluten free journey.

The good news was that despite having a disease, I did not have to take any drugs. I could control this through diet. When I put it into perspective, it did not seem as tragic as I first thought. I was not being given a death sentence, I was being given a chance to live. I was told that if I did not follow the diet, there was a possibility that I could die early from cancer or get osteoporosis and/or other issues. I am a fighter and I would fight this and win. I would not let Celiac disease defeat me.

It is now a year later and I have lived virtually gluten free for a whole year. I have had a few incidents where I accidentally consumed gluten unknowingly, but I have not once eaten it purposefully. While the feat may seem small to most, this is something that I am proud of myself for accomplishing. I have had many occasions where I have drooled over people enjoying vegan confections, breads, sandwiches, pizza etc. and I stayed strong. I have many flaws and shortcomings, but will power is not one of them. When I set my mind to something I stick with it and having a disease with consequences makes it even more important for me to stay on track.

This past year has been a challenge and I constantly realize areas of my life where I will always be different from others. I identify most with compassionate vegans, but still feel different from them- they can consume gluten. So I find myself in a strange and often lonely category- a Gluten free vegan. It becomes painfully obvious how different I am when folks (usually omnivores) say to me "what the hell can you eat?" I try to spin it in a positive direction.

Most of the people in my life have been supportive. Some of the people in my life have been nothing short of amazing in my journey. John has willingly removed almost all gluten from his diet at home as to make the kitchen a safe place for me. My vegan and vegetarian friends always consider me in making sure there is something gluten free for me to enjoy. My Mom has learned how to bake both gluten free and vegan. This is touching as she is neither gluten free nor vegan. Then there is the amazing blogging community which has shared so many recipes. Without the loving support of John, my parents, and friends I am not sure that I would have made it to a year of success.

Thank you to all of you who have been there with me this past year and have helped me through my journey. Thank you for not making me feel like an outcast and accepting this new version of me. Thank you for listening to my struggles, tears, and successes. I appreciate all of your open ears and hearts and for loving me.

Happy one year.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Breakfast Qunioa

Post number 21 for VeganMoFo. I met my goal to have 20 blogs during Vegan MoFo! Now I am exceeding it!

I am not all that exciting when it comes to breakfast on weekdays. I would like to be, but I do not want to wake up any earlier than I already do. I generally e
at something quick like dry gluten free oatmeal (that may seem gross to you, but wet oatmeal often makes me gag), gluten free English muffin with peanut butter and banana or other toppings, or gluten free cereal. As you can see, weekday breakfasts are not very inspiring.

After visiting a B&B recently, I was introduced to the idea of quinoa in the morning. It blew John and I away. It was so delicious, filling, and nutritious. We have now incorporated it into our routine and sometimes cook it the night before. Not only is quinoa delicious and versatile, it is also healthy. It is rich maganese, magnesium, iron, copper, and is low in fat. Having quinoa in the morning is a good way to add some nutrients early on in the day. I also
plan on adding fruit and vegetable smoothies, but I am taking it one step at a time.

We buy mostly black and white quinoa based on the availability in our bulk section. This week we had black quinoa, which looks more purple when cooked. They probably all taste the same, but I tend to prefer the black and red. This is the recipe we make, but you could add in any nuts and fruits.

Breakfast Quinoa
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups of water
1 Tbsp chopped pecans
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp dried cranberries
Fresh organic raspberries
Blood orange infused olive oil (you could use regular)

Bring the water to a boil and add in the quinoa. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. When finished, fluff with a fork. Place a serving in a bowl and sprinkle in the pecans, walnuts, cranberries, several raspberries, and a drizzle of the olive oil.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Nachos

Post number 20 for VeganMoFo. I met my goal to have 20 blogs during Vegan MoFo! I might even exceed my goal by a post or two.

The concept of the sweet potato nacho is not a new one. I am sure I have seen it on other MoFo blogs and that it is in several cookbooks that we own. I am posti
ng it here not as my own recipe, but just to share a fun idea.

Sweet potatoes are always in season in North Carolina, so we c
an find them every weekend at our year-round farmers market in Durham. This is a vegetable that I have only recently begun to like. I decided that when I became vegan that I would try to like everything that is vegan. Now that I am gluten free and vegan, I do not refuse any food as long as it comes under both categories. If I can eat it, I will eat it. In making myself consume sweet potatoes, I actually began to like them with the caveat that I only like them savory. Well, unless you bake a vegan and gluten free sweet potato pie. I think I would like that, although I never had the non-vegan or vegan version of it.

This week we had four sweet potatoes, two large and two
small, and we decided to make sweet potato nachos. I am not going to post a recipe, since it is not mine to share. I will, however, tell you what I used. I roasted potato slices with smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne, and cumin. When the potatoes were crispy, I placed them on a plate and added the following toppings: vegan refried beans, tomatoes, salsa, black olives, hot red pepper, avocado, and cilantro. You could even throw on some vegan cheese to make this more fun.

Serve this up with some greens and you have a healthy and fun meal!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Raw Kale Salad

Post number 19 for VeganMoFo. I'm one post away from my goal of 20 posts this month for MoFo!

I have had a cold for about a week now. It started off feeling like the flu, but now it has manifested into a cold. This feels like a long time to have a cold. I am wondering
if my immune system is down a bit since I had some accidental incidences with gluten over the summer. I am trying not to be too concerned about it, but I can't help but wonder.

With these concerns, I have wanted to eat more greens. We purchased greens at the farmers market this past weekend and felt that a raw kale salad was in order. I have been on a kale kick all year. I can't get enough of that green! It is delicious and the most
nutrient dense food available. To make the salad w
e use a whole pound of kale and share it, therefore we each eat a half a pound of kale. Because of the density, this salad is so filling. We normally switch up some of the ingredients, but kale, avocado, and the dressing always remain the same. We served this with a tempeh and bell pepper stir fry. The salad was so filling, that I only had a small serving of the stir fry.

Raw Kale Salad
  • 1 pound of kale, washed, stems removed and leaves torn*
  • 1/2 cup sungold tomatoes from our garden, washed and cut in half
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 c fresh squeezed lemon juice**
  • 1/4 c flax seed oil
  • Few drops of Braggs liquid aminos
Place the prepared kale in a serving bowl and add in the tomatoes. Prepare the dressing before cutting the avocado. Place the lemon juice, oil, and Braggs in a bowl and whisk vigorously until mixed. Set aside. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the goodness. chop into small pieces and sprinkle on the salad. Whisk the dressing again and pour it over the salad. Toss to make sure that the dressing coats the leaves and the avocado. Let the salad sit for 10 minutes to soak in the flavor. Serve and enjoy!

*We used dinosaur kale as it is our favorite.
**The lemon was large, so we only needed one. If you have a smaller lemon, you will probably need two

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gluten Free Menu at Thai Spices and Sushi

Post number 18 for VeganMoFo.

When I learned I had to be gluten free, I never thought that I would be able to d
ine at my favorite Thai restaurant- Thai Spices and Sushi. I was heart broken over this, but alas I did nothing about it. I did not email the restaurant, call, or stop by to see if they could handle gluten free. I just assumed that this my favorite restaurant, that understands vegan mind you, would have no clue. Lucky for me, someone else was contacting them and they did have a clue!

In late summer I received an email from a friend telling me that That
Spices and Sushi had a gluten free menu. I was completely overjoyed and responded with tears in my eyes. This may seem silly to many of you, but those of you that are gluten free (and vegan) know what I'm talking about here. The smallest gestures of gluten free accommodation can be be so huge in our world.

At the same time, the restaurant had a Twongo deal. So, we bought the deal and started planning a group dinner with friends. Eight of us, four couples, met for dinner th
ere this past weekend and we had a wonderful evening of delicious food, break dancing (one of our friends showed us her break dancing skills), and conversation. I ordered the Param Tofu with a lovely peanut sauce and a hot ginger drink. John ordered a sweet and sour tofu dish and a beer (both not gluten free).

The meal was delicious and I am dreaming of my next visit. They have the most amazing curry dishes there and several of them are on the gluten free list.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Morning Farmers Market

Post number 17 for VeganMoFo.

I am lucky to live in a place with an abundance of farmers markets. We have a state run one which I would never waste my time at as they truck in produce from other states. It sort of defeats the purpose of a true farmers market. We also have many local markets. The one in Durham only allows farmers within 75 miles of Durham so that the food there is truly
local. Many of the other smaller markets have the same restrictions and it really allows the residents to buy local.

The market also gives us the freedom to ask farmers questions and make edu
cated choices in the produce that we purchase. John and I made the decision that we will only purchase produce from those farmers that don't sell meat. We also only shop at the stands that choose to care for their plants in a way that is compatible with the earth. We refuse to buy from those that use harmful pesticides and herbicides. We would choose only organic, but unfortunately the farmers are small and being certified organic is expensive.

Our market is open all year long and for that we feel fortunate. Every week that we are in town, we wake up and head to the market to get as much as we can local. We are approaching the end of October and we are still able to buy an abundance of produce for the week. This week we purchased the following: Swiss chard, kale, ginger, passion fruit, sweet pot
atoes, radishes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and red leaf lettuce.

Below is a close up of the beautiful red leaf lettuce that we purchased. If you have never had lettuce grown in your back yard or from a farmers market, you are missing out. It is so much better than what you can get in stores. The same is true for tomatoes. Local food is healthier because it does not have to travel for hundreds of miles and therefore is given more time to ripen, increasing its nutrient value. It is also more flavorful!

Please remember to patronize your local and sustainable farmers!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pad Thai and Sesame Cucumbers

Post number 16 for VeganMoFo.

I seem to have caught a cold. This is my first cold since going gluten free. Before I was diagnosed, I got sick all of the time. My immune system was in shambles. Now that I've been gluten free, I have noticed that I am less susceptible. This, however, was hard to avoid. I feel as though half of my co-workers have been sick and have been coming into work when sick. I do notice that I am recovering quicker than I would have before going gluten free.

I was not much in the mood to cook last night, but I wanted something warm and filling and Thai food fulfills that for me. I have to warn you that this is not authentic Thai food. I am not Thai nor is any of my family from Thailand. I am Italian, German, and some other things. None of which come from Asian countries. Even with that being said, I pretty much always am in the mood for Thai food (Indian too!).

I am going to share my sesame cucumbers and Pad Thai with you. We served this with baked tofu. While they may not be authentic, we enjoy the flavors. So here is to soul warming and filling food!

Pad Thai
Stir Fry
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 small hot pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 or 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and cut into moons
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1 box of gluten free pad Thai rice noodles
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp gluten free tamari sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • Juice of 1 lime
Cook the noodles per the package instructions, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix ingredients for the sauce. If the mixture is too thick, add some warm water. The sauce should be thick, but not too thick.

Heat the olive oil in a wok on medium heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic an stir fry 5 minutes until the onions become slightly translucent. Add in the peppers, carrots, and cabbage and stir fry for 3 minutes longer. Add in the cucumber, tomato, and noodles and stir fry 3 minutes longer. Then add in the sauce and stir fry for another 3 minutes or
until heated through. Turn off the heat and mix in the peanuts and cilantro. Serve warm.

Sesame Cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 cucumbers, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and cut into moons
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar (I use the kind that is no sodium and no sugar)
  • 1 tsp ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp gluten free tamari
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds (white or black)
Place the cut cucumbers into a bowl and add the rice vinegar, plum vinegar, sesame oil, and tamari. Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes. Then add the sesame seeds, mix, and let sit for another 15 minutes. Serve with the Pad Thai and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Almond Brussels Sprouts and a Liebster Award

Post number 15 for VeganMoFo.

The brussels sprout is a strange and cute looking little vegetable. It resembles miniature cabbage, but is part of the mustard family (or at least that is what Merriam-Webster says). When you mention the name of this vegetable, you generally get a strong negative re
action from folks. Not from me! Brussels sprouts made many appearances on the dining table of my childhood and I always enjoyed them. I would picture myself as a giant eating a tiny, delicious shrub.

John never had them as a child and I wanted to introduce
them to him. Lucky for me, he like them! Now we use them in stir fries, steam them, and roast them. Growing up, my family roasted them with olive oil and garlic. The outer leaves become crispy and the inner leaves become tender, juicy, and sweet. To make them our own, John and I came up with a recipe that incorporated balsamic vinegar and almonds. I recommend that you give this recipe a try, you might just learn to love these sprouts!

Toasted Almond Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 lb of brussels sprouts, washed, bottoms removed, and slice in half
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of sliced almonds
  • 3 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 375. Spray a baking pan with a couple of squirts of olive oil spray. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan and drizzle with the teaspoon of ol
ive oil. Roast for 10 minutes. In the meantime, heat a small dry pan to medium heat and toast the almonds until crispy on each side. This process should take about 3-5 minutes. When finished, set aside.

When the sprouts have roasted for 10 minutes, remove them from the oven and sprinkle the balsamic over them and toss to coat. Use more olive oil or spray if needed. Add in the toasted almonds and roast for another 10 minutes until crispy. It is ok if some of the leaves become a bit crispy as they are crunchy and delicious!

Now....on to the award!

Kristen of Different Shades of Green, Theresa from The Vegan Version, and
Dawn of Veg-am- were kind enough to pass on the Liebster award to me. Thank you so much! The Liebster award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers to show a little love to them. I appreciate the love and now it is time for me to pass some love around!

Here's how it works:
  1. You show your thanks to the blogger who gave it to you by linking back to them.
  2. You reveal YOUR top 5 pics for bloggers with less than 200 followers, and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  3. Post the award on your blog. (Right click on the image, and select 'save image as'.)
  4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the internet! And in this case, fellow mofo'ers.
  5. Have fun, and spread the love! :)

Here are my 5 MoFo blogs to share the Liebster with. I have really enjoyed reading all of them and they have made me inspired to be more creative. So, here they are in no particular order:
  1. Cara of Fork and Beans- She makes the most amazing vegan and gluten free candy. Before her awesome blog, I never thought I'd have my favorite candies again.
  2. GiGi of VEGANVILLE- The humor and creativity keeps me coming back to this blog each day. Often times I laugh out load when I read her posts.
  3. Mandee of Cupcake Kitteh- She has been taking on cooking challenges and tackling recipes in several major cookbooks. I am usually drooling and dreaming of her recreations.
  4. Kittee of Cake Maker to the Stars- This is Ms. xgfx! She was the first vegan and gluten free blog I came across. Her pictures, stories, and adventures are a delight!
  5. Ashley of (vegan)(kitchen)(nuggets)- She has been delighting my taste buds with all of her fall inspired creations. I especially love all of her posts with peanut butter!
Please make sure to check them out and show them the love!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Post number 14 for VeganMoFo.

I was not sure this post was even going to happen today. My camera has been acting up. One minute it will take a picture and the next, I
cannot get it to turn on. Maybe it is my rechargeable batteries, maybe I need a new camera. We will see, but I'm glad to report that I got some picture of our delicious dinner last night!

It would seem that we have been in the mood for pasta lately as several of my
MoFo posts have been pasta related. We go on these kicks sometimes. A couple of months ago it was rice, then kale, now pasta. I will admit, we are still on a kale kick. Maybe I should do a kale pasta dish sometime. Anyway, we decided to buy shiitake mushrooms this past weekend at the farmers market. One of our favorite local farms was selling them, so we bought a couple. I heart mushrooms, but shiitakes have always been at the bottom of the list. Then, recently I started to enjoy them. The only caveat is that I do not like them in Asian food. The texture and taste does not work for me in a stir fry.

We picked out these beauties and decided to make a creamy mushroom pasta. We wanted to add another mushroom flavor, so we added my favorite-->**crimini mushrooms**. If a recipe calls for shrooms, I almost always use criminis. They have what some people describe as a "meaty" texture. I just happen love the flavor. We enjoyed the pasta with roasted brussels sprouts and I promise to provide a recipe for those in my MoFo post tomorrow.

Creamy Mushroom Pasta
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • 1 small onion, chopped small
  • 4 cups of mushrooms (I used a mix of crimini and shiitake)
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of soy/almond/coconut creme or milk
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • Bag of gluten free pasta
Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet on medium. Add garlic and onion and saute' for about 6 minutes. Add in the mushrooms, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 6 minutes more until mushrooms are tender. Add in the creme and nutritional yeast and simmer for 5 minutes for the sauce to thicken.

Meanwhile, cook your favorite gluten free pasta. Drain, pour the sauce over the pasta, and serve.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rich and Creamy Spiced Hot Chocolate

Post number 13 for VeganMoFo.

Hot chocolate is another one of things that I look forward to during Autumn. While it has been very warm during the days, the evenings have been cool. The colder air has put us in the mood for hot chocolate. My favorite element of our hot chocolate is the subtle undertone of heat. It is not very sweet and I have found that the beauty in this drink is the coc
oa, vanilla, and cayenne. In playing with the recipe, I have learned the sweeter the drink, the less of the flavors that you taste. Have no fear, if you do not like spicy foods, you can leave out the cayenne.

So here is my take on hot chocolate.

Rich and Creamy Spiced Hot Chocolate
3/4 c unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c mimic creme (soy creamer would work here as well)
2 Tbsp vegan gluten free chocolate chips
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp Mayan cocoa (includes cocoa, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. If you don't have this you could add in more cinnamon and cayenne pepper to you
r cocoa to taste.)
1/4 tsp agave nectar
Vegan marshmallows (Dandies or Sweet and Sara)

Place the almond milk and mimic creme into a small saucepan. H
eat slowly on med-low heat. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until melted. Then add in the vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, and whisk vigorously until the cocoa dissolves. Add in the agave nectar and take a small taste to see if it is sweet enough to your liking. Don't forget that the sweeter you make it, the less you will taste the flavors.

When hot enough, pour into a mug and top with several vegan marshmallows. Enjoy your warm beverage!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tofu Reubens Please!

Post number 12 for VeganMoFo.

John and I seriously heart tempeh reubens. Whenever they are on a men
u, we order them. Once I see it, I cannot really eat anything else and I just want the reuban. After going gluten free, I thought I was going to jump for joy and hug the owner when a local vegan friendly restaurant carried gluten free and vegan tempeh ruebans. Luckily, I behaved myself. I truly enjoy the flavors, especially the sauerkraut! Those that know me, know that I am a lover all salty picked foods.

We usually make tempeh ruebens, but we decided to try it out with tofu this time. It just so happens that I had a gluten free vegan ryless rye bread from the Gluten Free Galley and I just had to have a rueban (don't forget that they have a vegan/gluten free box!)! The bakery really does a great job of getting that rye flavor while still having a gluten free bread (note that rye is not gl
uten free).

This sandwich did not disappoint. It was warm, delicious, and rye-like with the caraway seeds in the bread. We served it up with purple sweet potato fries, and a salad. The meal was so good and I had to walk away after one sandwich because I knew that I would be too full if I ate a second. Needless to say, I had delicious leftovers!

Tofu Ruebans (4 sandwiches)
  • 1 lb of tofu
  • Braggs liquid aminos- spray bottle
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ground pepper
  • Olive oil spray or vegan butter
  • Sauerkraut
  • Thousand Island dressing- vegan/gf
  • 8 slices of vegan cheese
  • Gluten free bread
Drain the tofu and cut into slices. Spray a baking dish with olive oil spray and place the tofu slices in the dish. Spray the slices with about three squirts of the Braggs, sprinkle with a little garlic and onion powder, and pepper to taste. Flip the slices and repeat. Bake in the oven at 400 for about 10-15 minutes on each side until they get a bit crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat a flat skillet to medium and prepare your bread slices by spraying or buttering one side of each piece. Lay 4 of the pieces of bread on the skillet buttered side down. Spread a dab of the dressing, then the cheese, then the sauerkraut, then 2-3 slices of the tofu, then another dab of the dressing. Top off with a slice of bread, buttered side up. Cook for a couple of minutes and then flip. Cook on the other side a couple of minutes and remove from the skillet when the cheese has melted and the bread has browned to your liking. ENJOY!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Down Home Vegan Cooking

Post number 11 for VeganMoFo.

As you know from my recent posts, we went to Asheville last weekend. One of our stops included a meal at Rosetta's Kitchen. We did not get pictures of our food because we were in a hurry to get on the road. I had a yummy Pad Thai bowl with peanut butter tofu and John had a plate with peanut butter tofu, mashed potatoes and gravy, and greens. His plate was not g
luten free, so I could not try it. I was a bit disappointed that the dish was not gluten free, so when we got home I decided to try and make it myself. I have never tried it before, but I felt confident that I could replicate the meal and possibly even make it better!

So, I came up with a recipe for the a peanut butter tofu and got to work. T
he result was a delicious and hardy meal. John said that it was better than the one he ordered, but he was probably being nice. I only have mine to go off of and I loved it. I could not get enough of the peanut butter tofu! The greens and the mashed potatoes were awesome as well. It almost made me want to open a vegan and gluten free down home cooking restaurant. Almost.

Baked Peanut Butter Tofu
  • 1 lb of tofu
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast (also known as nooch)
  • 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter
  • 3 tsp low sodium gluten free tamari
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water
Drain the tofu and wrap it in two paper towels. Place the wrapped tofu on a plate and top with a second plate. Use a weight to press down the plate and let the tofu sit for 15-20 minutes. While the tofu is pressing, make the sauce. Mix the peanut butter in a bowl and pour about 1/4 c of the warm water over the peanut butter. We use fresh ground, so it is a bit harder than the kind in a jar. Mix the two until creamy. Add in the tamari, rice vinegar, and agave. If the mixture is too thick, use more of the water. Set the sauce aside.

Preheat the oven to 420. Meanwhile, place the nooch on a plate. Unwrap the pressed tofu and cut it into about 1 inch cubes. Roll the cubes in the nooch and place them in a baking pan sprayed with olive oil spray. When they are all coated, place the tofu in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip the tofu and let it bake on the other side of 15 minutes. Then add the sauce making sure that each piece gets coated. Bake for another 15 minutes, turning once. The tofu will get a little crispy and smell wonderful! I cannot wait for the cold weather so I can have this meal again!

Sauteed Greens
  • 1/2 c onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, leaves washed and chopped and stems set aside
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic

Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably an iron skillet. When hot, add the onion and red pepper flakes and saute' for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute' for 3 minutes. While cooking, chop the stems small and add to the pan to saute' for an additional 3 minutes. When stems are tender, add in the chopped chard and cook until the leaves wilt. Serve hot.

Mashed Potatoes
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp soy sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance (vegan butter)
  • 1/4 or more nut or soy milk
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Wash the potatoes. Leaving the skin on, chop the potatoes into about 1/2 inch cubes. Place the cubes in a soup pot and cover with cold water. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Allow the potatoes to cook, checking them for tenderness. When the potatoes are tender, turn off the burner, drain, and place back in the cooking pot. Place back on the burner, turned of. Add the non-dairy milk and Earth Balance and begin to mash. Add in the soy sour cream and powders and mash until you reach a desired creaminess. Serve this with your favorite vegan and gluten free gravy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Wine Sauce

Post number 10 for VeganMoFo.

This is not another post about restaurants in Asheville...although I could continue to post about all of the lovely food. I think you get the point for now. John and I are home, settled in, and have gotten back into cooking. I enjoy eating out, but I prefer me
als that we make. Maybe it is because I can always trust our kitchen the most.

We had some red wine in the refrigerator that had been used for cooking and for an occasional glass by John, so I thought I'd use it this week. One of my favorite sa
uce recipes uses roasted red peppers, shallots, garlic, tomatoes, and wine. I had all of those ingredients and decided to whip up a sauce. The only trouble was that I thought I had the right kind of tomatoes and more wine. Needless to say, this recipe did not come out as good as it normally does. We also had some elephant garlic and a mega shallot. Usually we have smaller garlic cloves and shallots.

Needless to say, I am going to post the recipe the way I usually make and love this dish. Keep in mind that the pictures mirror the what I made this week (with the mega garlic and shallots, less wine, and the wrong kind of tomatoes). Normally, the sauce would be smoother and there would be more of it. I served the sauce over gluten free pasta, with a slice of gluten free/vegan garlic bread, and a spinach salad with turnips and carrots.

Roasted Red Pepper and Wine Sauce
  • 2 tsp of olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped small
  • Small hot pepper, seeds removed and chopped small*
  • 8-12 oz jar of roasted red peppers, chopped fine
  • 1/2 to 1 cup red wine
  • 8 oz of crushed tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
  • pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil. Saute' the shallots, garlic, and hot pepper in a skillet until the shallots are translucent. Add the roasted red pepper and cook for a few minutes. Then add the wine and crushed tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Season with pepper and the herbs and cook a few minutes longer. Serve over gluten free pasta.

*If you do not prefer spicy foods, then leave this ingredient out

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Asheville Weekend Continued- Laughing Seed

Post number 9 for VeganMoFo.

Every visit that I have ever had to Asheville has included a t
rip to Laughing Seed Cafe'. It was among the first all vegetarian restaurants that I had visited. From the first bite, it didn't disappoint. There is usually a wait to be seated, so I'd say they are a pretty popular place. In thinking back through all of the meals I have had, I cannot think of a time where I disliked my food. In fact, I can only remember loving it!

This particular visit was no different and we had a delicious meal. My only complaint is that they have a couple of items marked on their menu as gluten free that are not acceptable for those with Celiac Disease. I plan on sending them a friendly email to inform them of this so that none of their gluten free patrons get sick.

Now that is out of the way.....our meal this past weekend was awesome! John ordered a local beer and I ordered a juice for our drink. The cafe' had se
veral appetizer specials and we ordered the sushi fresh vegetables. With the sushi, they served a homemade pickled ginger. John and I both agreed that it was the best pickled ginger we had ever consumed. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Unfortunately, we forgot to get a picture of the sushi before we started chowing down.

For our entrees, we ordered the Sloppy Jo which is a sw
eet and tangy tofu bbq with a tahini mustard sauce. They put the sourdough roll on the side for John and served it with a salad, pickle, and tortilla chips. We also ordered the Shiitake Corn Cakes which are made of organic potato, shiitake mushrooms, corn, and cashews served on a bed of greens with a basil-vinaigrette, hericots verts (green beans), and toasted almonds. This is all topped with their smokey tomato jam and cashew cream.

We had not ordered in the past and our conclusion was that we would order them again. We loved them! I especially enjoyed the corn cakes with the cashew cream and vinaigrette. And I can't forget the toasted almonds. I think I could eat their cashew cream every day! John's favorite was the Sloppy Jo. He liked the tangy bbq flavor and the heartiness of the Jo.

I can hardly wait until our next visit to Laughing Seed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Asheville Weekend- Firestorm Cafe'

Post number 8 for VeganMoFo.

Our weekend trips to Asheville are always focused on fitting in as many vegan/vegetarian restaurants as we can during our stay. The city has an abundance of all vegetarian restaurants and even if we ran out of options, many of the omnivore restaurants have vegan options. I am continuously amazed walking around the city and seeing so many restaurant boards that will have *vegan* highlighted.

In an effort to eat in as many of the vegetarian restaurants as we could, we prioritized the places we wanted to visit and it just so happened that we had to miss out on some places. High up in our priority list was Firestorm Cafe' & Books. The fare is mostly vegan with the only non-vegan option on the menu as a dairy milk creamer. Everything else is cruelty-free! T
hey also can serve most of their menu gluten free because they make their own gluten free bread in-house. Yum!

The cafe' carries ome gluten free desserts and we ordered several of those. Oddly enough, we forgot to take pictures of them. Instead they were devoured! We ordered a blondie with chocolate chips and a blueberry coffee cake. They were just heavenly!

As for the meal, we ordered two sandwiches and split. We had the TLT- Tempeh, Lettuce & Tomato and vegan mayonnaise served with salt and pepper chips and the Maple BBQ made up of maple baked tofu, spinach, red onion served with a small salad with Goddess dressing.

They were both scrumptious, just like the menu said they would be! It is hard to say which one I liked more. I love a TLT and I also like baked tofu. The sandwiches were too different to compare. My recommendation would be to order both of them during your visit.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Plant- Vegan Awesomeness in Asheville

Post number 7 for VeganMoFo.

John and I decided to have a weekend away in Asheville, NC. We found a green B&B that understood vegan/gluten free food and was close to downtown. We booked a room and headed to Asheville on Friday morning. We took our time and left later in the morning. We were not in any hurry to rush. It was our weekend and we wanted to relax. Our first meal in Asheville was dinner on Friday night and we decided that it was time to try Plant, the new vegan restaurant that opened in Asheville in late summer. I had contacted the restaurant in advance and learned that many of their dishes were gluten free. With that confirmation, we were off to have a nice, relaxing evening of delicious cruelty-free fare. I could hardly wait!

The restaurant was easy to find and had a nice modern decor inside. The kitchen was open, so you could see the chefs working tirelessly on their vegan creations. Every seat in the restaurant was taken. We arrived right before the rush and avoided waiting, but I'd recommend reservations in the future. The hostess seated us and provided us with a one page menu and a corresponding drink list.

Now it was on to the good part- VEGAN FOOD! John ordered a local beer and I ordered an iced mint tea. As a starter we ordered the cheese plate. It was composed of the homemade almond cheese with herbs sprinkled on top served with black garlic oil and vinegar, apples, olives, pea shoots (or some kind of small green), and shredded carrots. We were both impressed by the cheese plate. The almond cheese was soft and spreadable. It was delicious on the apple or eaten with the olives. The cheese is versatile enough to be eaten with a sweet or savory accompaniment.

For dinner I ordered the black pepper tofu which came with a jasmine rice and kaffir lime cake and a saute' of zucchini, and exotic mushrooms with spinach on top. I do not know the name of the mushrooms, but I had never had them before. To date they are my favorite mushroom. They had a nice chewy texture and a smooth flavor that is hard to describe. I asked the waitress the name and of course forgot it since. The rice cake was crispy and flavorful and I could have eaten a dozen of them. Luckily, they only put three on my plate!

John had the sweet corn risotto. It was a grilled tempeh with a green chili cream sauce, and a zucchini, cremini, red pepper, and okra mixture (which they called risotto) with spinach on top. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors in his dish. The creme sauce was rich, yet not over powering. It worked well with the "risotto" mixture. He absolutely loved it and wished he had had a full other plate of the delicious entree. I wished the same for mine.

The portions were not large, but we left feeling satisfied and happy. We decided to pass on dessert as we had picked up raw, vegan, gluten free macaroons as the co-op that we wanted to try. We headed out to a local coffee shop and enjoyed a hot cup of apple cider and enjoyed our raw dessert.

The night was a delicious success. I will recommend Plant to vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. It is a place for anyone who would like a bit of upscale dining with a lot of flavor and creativity!