Dreams in Food and Apple Cinnamon Banana Muffins

Last night I dreamt that I was throwing myself to the floor in a fit of hunger. I’m taking this as a sign that I need to start cooking again. Or perhaps I need to stop skipping dinner. In any case, after getting over the initial disorientation from my dream, I decided to bake some muffins for breakfast. I adapted a recipe I found on food.com

Ingredients

  • I cup chunky apple sauce 
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced

Combine Dry Ingredients

  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl

Combine Wet Ingredients

  • Mix apple sauce, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl
  • Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix well until it is a dough-like consistency
  • Add banana slices and fold into mixture

Spoon into Muffin Pan & Bake!

  • I found using an ice cream scooper to spoon the dough in works best
  • Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown
  • Makes 6 muffins

Let them cool, drizzle with some agave nectar and serve!

apple cinnamon banana muffin

apple cinnamon banana muffin

Creamy Mac and “Cheese”

I had been craving macaroni and cheese for a while, and this stuff definitely hit the spot. I found the recipe on a blog called Delectably FreeThe blog has a lot of amazing vegan and gluten free recipes. This recipe is extremely easy to make, it just takes a bit of time and you’ll need a slow cooker. I will most definitely be recreating this for holiday potlucks.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta (I used rice pasta) (8 oz.)
  • 1 head of broccoli (I used frozen broccoli, but I’m sure fresh would have been better)
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsps sesame tahini
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 3 tbsps Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper (you can omit this if you prefer your mac and cheese without a kick to it)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups water (divided)

Mix it up

  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water to slow cooker
  • Combine all other ingredients except pasta in slow cooker
  • If using frozen, precooked broccoli do not add that yet!
  • Mix well and set cooker to a low setting
  • Allow ingredients to melt, stirring every so often
  • Leave on low setting for 1 hour

Add the pasta

  • Add the pasta and broccoli (if frozen, precooked) to the cheesy mixture
  • Add 1/2 cup water
  • Turn cooker to high setting and allow pasta to cook for 30 minutes
  • Test pasta frequently for doneness
  • Turn cooker off, but keep covered to keep warm when pasta is desired consistency

Serve!

  • Your mac and cheese is ready to eat!
  • You can keep some vegan breadcrumbs on the side to top it off if you want

Cranberry Sauce

This recipe is super quick and easy! It was adapted from a recipe I found online at the Cook’s Country website. It calls for slightly less water than most recipes, so it makes for an amazing consistency in the end.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag cranberries (12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Boil

  • Combine water, apple cider, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan
  • Bring to boil

Simmer

  • Add cranberries and reduce heat
  • Allow to simmer for 5 minutes
  • 2/3 of berries should burst and sauce should thicken

Chill & Serve

  • Remove from heat
  • Allow to chill for at least 1 hour in refrigerator before serving

Happy Thanksgiving!

And thus the fasting began this morning– must save our appetites for the feast tonight! I stayed up late last night finishing another pumpkin pie and a vegan cheese cake. I’ll post the recipe for the cake later on. I also made some homemade cranberry sauce. I was very surprised at how quick and easy it is to make, and at how tasty it turned out. I think I’ll warm some of that up and pour it over the cheesecake before I serve it for dessert.

This morning I made vegan stuffing and started on some slow cooked vegan macaroni and cheese. I’m really excited and about how flexible and generally interested my family is being in regard to my vegan twist on Thanksgiving. All our sides are vegan this year, whether or not I’m making them! I suppose it pays to keep the refrigerator stocked with soy milk and Earth Balance. Hah. Hopefully next year they’ll forget about the bird.

The other day, I showed my 15 year old brother a post from Vegans of Instagram that talked about sponsoring a turkey rather than eating one for Thanksgiving. He laughed a bit, then thought about it and asked, “Why can’t we just do both?” At least he’s thinking about it, that’s more than I can say for myself at his age.

Pumpkin Pie

This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on vegweb.com. I have made it once before and added a bit of pumpkin seeds to the top. This was the first Thanksgiving pie I made this year. I prepared it a few days in advance and put it in the freezer before baking it. On Wednesday night I’ll take it out to defrost and I’ll bake it Thursday morning. Can’t wait!

Ingredients

  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup of maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 package of silken (or soft) tofu (10-12 oz.) (not the lowfat kind, or else it will taste funny!)
  • 3-4 tbs. cornstarch (very important!)
  • 1 unbaked vegan pie shell (9 in.)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1. Blend it

  • Using a food processor or blender (I’ve tried both and found a food processor works best), blend the pumpkin puree until smooth and creamy
  • Add the tofu and maple syrup and pulse until well mixed
  • Add the cornstarch and pulse again until smooth

2. Spice it up

  • Add the spices and blend until incorporated evenly

3. Bake it

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Pour the blended pumpkin mixture into the pie shell
  • Lift pie shell about 1 inch off the counter and drop a few times to settle the mixture in the crust, don’t do this too hard or you will break your crust
  • Bake the pie for 15 min.
  • Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 60 min.

4. Enjoy!

  • Chill and serve with vegan ice cream

Thankswhat?

I can’t decide if the renaming of the poultry-centered, American holiday of Thanksgiving to Thanksvegan, Thanksliving, or whatever vegans out there are choosing to call it is missing the point. On one hand, I definitely want to redefine the holiday to be perhaps more fittingly associated with a spirit of mindful graciousness and thanks that is meant to be felt during the holiday season. Such a mindfulness, in my opinion, could never be associated with gluttonously consuming another being, as I’m sure other vegans/vegetarians would agree. Despite this, there is something to be said about the sense of familial community and love that one feels when seated around a table waiting to share a big meal. I think I’ve alluded to this before, but eating a plant-based diet can be lonely as hell. And who really wants to be lonely during the holidays? No one. We are constantly reminded that we are SUPPOSED to be sharing time and food and presents during this season (oh, help us…), and no one wants to feel as though they are left out of the festivities. So how can we, as conscious consumers, as plant-based eaters amongst meat-feasters come to terms with this?

My solution is this: Cook good fantastic food. That’s it. This solution is simple, but I have to admit it’s not fully mine. Over a month before this Thanksgiving holiday season got into full swing, I went to a Vegan Meet-Up in Boston in the hope of networking and making some vegan friends (I was feeling particularly lonely after moving back home to a house full of meat eaters). Roberta Kalechofsky was speaking about cooking for “the harvest holiday,” as she calls it, and about her book entitled Thanksvegan: A Vegan Cookbook for the Harvest Holiday. That woman is a hoot. She gave comical anecdotes about her experiences over the years with preparing holiday meals for a “mixed” crowd of dietary preferences and needs. She talked about how she continues to win her guests over time and time again with great food. Her guests don’t ask Roberta whether or not what she prepares for them is vegan, they ask her for the recipe.

This holiday season, I will not be creating my own holiday. I refuse to sit in the corner or leave my family members behind (no matter how much I disagree with their food choices). I will be participating fully in Thanksgiving this year. I will continue to be mindful and it is my hope that this shows. I want to remind my family members about the give thanks part of Thanksgiving, I want to celebrate what I am thankful for with them, while staying true to my morals… And hopefully, my delicious vegan dishes will get them to forget about eating turkey for a while.

I’ll be posting some recipes and anecdotes as I prepare for the ultimate vegan feast this Thursday. Stay tuned.

There’s community in vegan cooking.

I’ve been exploring vegan restaurants around Boston and Cambridge. I’ve been bringing my friends and coworkers, vegan or not. More recently, I’ve been bringing my very anti-vegan family members as well. Everyone loves the food. Everyone, whether vegan or not always seems to comment on how “surprising” it is that the food is vegan. As if they are expecting it to taste like cardboard or soot or poo or something because there are no animal products in it. It is baffling to me. 

A good friend of mine, was telling me about how he has started to become close acquaintances with fellow vegan restaurant goers. I call it the yoga-room effect. Just like with yoga rooms that I frequent, over time I begin to recognize and acknowledge the regulars, like myself. No words are exchanged, but we see each other and give a friendly nod or small wave and smile as if to say, “hello again, friend.” It’s a wonderful feeling. The same sort of feeling that you get when you hear a song that you can completely relate to or read a poem that seems to speak for how your insides feel. Someone knows, someone relates, there are like-minded people out there, you are not alone.

This, I think it what most people want. In my experience, most people share a general desire to not be alone. Community. Maybe people call it something different. In any case, I’m not sure why I was surprised when I was relaying this story of vegan fellowship to one of my omnivorous friends as we shared a vegan pizza. I was surprised by his general interest and fascination with this idea of community surrounding food choice. This, more than the health or moral reasoning behind my choice to adopt a vegan diet, was extremely appealing to him. His intrigue made me want to share the idea with others.

This weekend I visited my family. They had planned on cooking dinner together and showed a slight twinge of discomfort, distress even, when I told them I was planning on joining them. I can only imagine the panicked thoughts that were running through their heads: “Shit, what the hell to we cook now?!” … They’re still coming to terms with my food choices. Instead of allowing myself to be swayed into their general feelings of anxiety about preparing vegan food in a very carnivorous household, I remained calm. I remained calm and made vegan lasagna to go along with their meaty-cheese-filled one. And they liked it. They liked that I was cooking with them and they liked what I made. More importantly, they realized it was really not that difficult to prepare vegan food. 

There was community in our lasagna making, even if they choose to maintain their meat-eating habits. Maybe tomorrow I will post the recipe. I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately. I was too busy communing over lasagna and family time to take any.

 

Peace, love, and veganism! 

I didn’t feel like cooking today…

As soon as I woke up this morning I told myself I was going to cook something for dinner tonight. I haven’t posted anything since I created this blog and I honestly haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking on my own either. With my crazy 4th of July weekend behind me and alone at last to my own vegan devices, I decided tonight would be the night. But what to cook? I wasn’t inspired at all, I wasn’t craving anything in particular, and I just really didn’t feel like cooking anything. But a girl’s gotta eat, right?

With work all day and plans for the evening, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to dedicate to my meal tonight. However unfortunate, I decided to go for it anyway. I stopped at the store after work and picked up a few things from the produce section. After finishing Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, I am fully committed to shopping the periphery of the grocery store. If you’re confused by what I mean by that, you should definitely read the book. Anyway, what transpired after my grocery errand you will find in my previous post. It was honestly the quickest, probably most nutritious meal I’ve made in a while. I hope someday you’ll enjoy it too, whether you’re pinched for time or not.

Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms with Makeshift Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • Spinach, about half a bag of pre-washed
  • Sliced mushrooms, about a handful or two chopped
  • Scallions, about half a bushel chopped
  • Garlic, one clove chopped and squished
  • Grape seed oil
  • Ciabatta bread, half a small loaf
  • Vegan mozzarella flavored cheese (I used cheddar here)
  • Tomato
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Fresh Pepper
  • Salt

1. Time to Sauté

  • Pour about a tablespoon or two of oil into a pan
  • Once the oil is warmed, add the garlic and let it brown
  • Add the chopped scallions and mushrooms
  • Once the mushrooms have softened add the spinach to the pan
  • Pile on the spinach
  • Add another teaspoon of oil and some balsamic vinaigrette
  • Cover the pan with a pot cover
  • Check the consistency of spinach periodically
  • Turn heat off once spinach is darker green and the mixture looks ready to enjoy

2. While the spinach cooks…

  • Cut small slices of ciabatta bread
  • Toast them in the oven at 350 degrees or in a toaster
  • Place small vegan cheese slice on bread after it has toasted for a bit, but has not browned
  • Allow the cheese to melt, then remove from the oven
  • Thinly slice tomato or chop if you prefer
  • Place tomato on the cheesy bread
  • Sprinkle with chopped scallions
  • Sprinkle with fresh pepper, salt, and balsamic vinaigrette

3. Ready to eat!

  • Enjoy your sauteed spinach alongside your cheesy bread. What a light and easy meal!

Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

You’re not born vegan.

I wasn’t always a vegan. I wasn’t always interested or concerned with food. In the past I just ate what I ate; that is, I ate whatever was most readily available without thinking too much, if at all, where it came from or what it would do to me.

Frances Moore Lappé says that we are not born citizens, but rather we learn the art of citizenship.* I think out relationship with food is like that. We are not born knowing how to eat. We have to learn. It’s tricky business, especially in this capitalist, fast-food-driven society we live in. But I’m giving it a try.

It’s been a gradual learning process. I started out by giving up meat. That step didn’t come all at once. I gave up red meat, mostly because I had heard that doing so would help me tone up and get ripped abs (I won’t disclose whether or not that process has been successful). Eventually I gave up chicken and other poultry, but I was still eating fish and dairy. I decided to give up fish and other meat products around the same time. The more I read and heard in documentaries and from other food-conscious people, the more I realized it just didn’t make sense for me to half-ass this endeavor. Maybe I’m just an all or nothing type of person.

So far, I’ve found that the most difficult part about adopting a vegan diet hasn’t been the food, or the lack of nutrients (as many suspect), but the people. People are quick to give you snarky remarks and turn their nose up at you for wanting to eat more consciously. Eating food– enjoying a meal is supposed to be a social experience, it always has been. But when people want to shun you and poke fun at you for your food choices, it can get a bit lonely. Maybe as time goes on people my friends and family will learn to accept and maybe even adopt some of my newfound eating habits.

* From her book Diet for a Small Planet