Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo

The sauce is soy free!!! Avoiding a diet completely centered around soy is a main focus for me. This recipe was found at a very cool blog site Vegetation Ramblings. The sauce had so much flavor, the nutritional yeast gave it a "cheesy" flavor and the broccoli and sausage topped it off perfectly. This is a recipe I would even consider serving to non-vegan dinner guests because of its deliciousness!

1 cup raw cashew nuts
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2-3 cups boiling water
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and black pepper to taste
500g fettuccine

Boil the pasta al dente.

For the sauce: sautée the garlic in a little olive oil.
Grind the cashews in a food processor until very fine and transfer to a blender. Add the boiling water and blend until creamy and smooth. Add lemon juice, cooked garlic, olive oil, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and blend.
If it's too thick add more water. If it's too runny put it into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.

Drain pasta and put on a plate and top with Alfredo sauce. I also topped mine with garlic sautéed broccoli and Tofurky Italian Sausage.

On the side is chopped romaine lettuce, avocado and red bell pepper tossed with Annie's Goddess Dressing. :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Baked Lemon Rosemary Tofu

My camera is still not taking clear pictures..grrr...but dinner tonight was delicious! We had Lemon Rosemary Tofu. Putting the complete meal together took a little over an hour but finding a tasty way of using the fresh rosemary I had in the fridge made it worth the time! Next time, I will add a little less rosemary and a little more lemon to balance the flavors. Brown rice was a nice addition to the meal but I have to say, the highlight was the Brussels sprouts! To shorten bake time, I chopped off the hard end and cut them into fourths. In a baking dish, I poured a thin layer of olive oil and splashed some balsamic vinegar on top. Next came lots of salt and pepper, some sliced red onion and finally the sprouts, spread out in a single layer. After baking for about 30 minutes, the outsides were crispy, the balsamic vinegar had completely absorbed and the flavor was soooo good! We definitely wished we had more. All in all, it was a great combination of flavors!

It is going well!!!!!!!

Even though I have not posted for a few days, I have been cooking up a storm...A vegan storm that is! I am not 100% vegan yet, but because of the amazing recipes I have found online, ideas from other creative vegan bloggers and a seminar that we attended, John is completely on board!!!! Yesterday we went to the Eugene Home and Garden Show! Kay Hansen, author of Vegan Homestyle (officially my first vegan cookbook!!!) gave a short lecture on the leading causes of disease...most of which are completely preventable. The point that stuck with me most: eat three meals a day. Give your digestive system a break in between, i.e. no snacking. It takes 5 - 6 hours to digest a meal and eating in between causes your system to stop working on the first meal, start digesting the new food. This leaves the original meal to sit and wait, meanwhile creating toxins. Her cookbook does a much nicer job of describing it. But bottom line for me: lay off the snacks :-(

So here are a few of my recent food creations....I must say, my photography skills are very weak right now and most pictures turned out blurry and therefore are not posted!

This idea was swiped from one of my favorite blog sites Lauren's Vegan Journal and a HUGE inspiration for creating my own (blog title and all!!) A fabulous alternative to pasta is Spaghetti Squash. I like to bake it sliced in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out and spread with olive oil, salt and pepper. It bakes quickly in a shallow baking pan filled with water, seasoned side down. When it is ready, the inside will easily pull out with a fork. For the sauce, I cooked onions and garlic, added crushed tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, a variety of Italian seasonings, artichoke hearts and Tofurky Italian Sausage ...I think that was all. It turned out delicious and we had lunch for at least 3 days afterward. The picture on the other hand was so blurry I deleted it.

Almost Vegan Chocolate Chip Scones

And finally...Vegan Baking!!! I was diligent about making the scone batter vegan but did add non-vegan chocolate chips. They are from Euphoria Chocolate Company and needed to be used in a good recipe! The scone was crispy, slightly sweet and went deliciously with the Tofu Scramble!

Vegan Tofu Scramble

For breakfast, I attempted Scrambled Tofu. I did not use Silken tofu but have since purchased some to try this again. The tofu I used was a bit too firm but still was so good I did not miss the eggs at all! To the scramble I added: sautéed garlic and spinach, broccoli, red and yellow peppers, mushrooms, and salt and pepper. Juicing is another huge passion of mine so I added orange/blueberry/strawberry juice to the side!

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Taken from the Vegan Homestyle cookbook, I made Vegan Sloppy Joes! After seeing the recipe, I had a craving. Very simple: onion and green peppers sautéed in olive oil with salt and pepper. Added a large can of diced tomatoes, Yves Meatless Ground Round, chili seasoning, garlic and 2 tablespoons of flour. We piled it on Ezekiel 4:9 Buns with Vegan Gourmet Cheddar Cheese and some Rosemary Potatoes on the side. It was one of my favorite meals so far! Next time we both agreed to leave the cheese off. It just didn't add enough flavor or texture to make it worth it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Breakfast Burritos (blurry picture!!!)

I love breakfast burritos so much so when I noticed that our wraps, taco seasoning and refried black beans were all vegan, I had to try it. I sauteed garlic, broccoli and spinach with olive oil, salt and pepper. Smeared the beans on the wrap, stuck the garlic veggie combo on top, added salsa, baked and voila! Vegan Breakfast Burritos!

Next time I will add avocado and maybe some scrambled tofu. Today is grocery day and they are both on the list!

Monday, January 21, 2008

First Vegan Meal!!!

Quick, healthy and delicious are requirements of my new vegan diet. I took a recipe that my great friend Susan gave me years ago and added a few flavors. It started with garlic and onion cooking in olive oil. I added spinach, red pepper and lentil beans along with a can of tomato paste, a bay leaf, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and water. After 3o minutes the beans were soft and dinner was ready! John needed more salt on his but a hearty, rich Lentil Stew resulted. I steamed a mixture of frozen veggies, added avocado, pepper and limejuice and had a nice side dish.

Next time I will probably steam broccoli as a side dish instead. The veggies tasted really great but John said the stew was "fall" flavored and the veggies were "spring." Good combinations of main and side dishes is an area I would like to improve on!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cleaning out the kitchen!

I am excited to find that I actually have very few items that are not already vegan!!! Worcestershire sauce surprised me with anchovies!!!! I also have obvious things like honey and shrimp bouillon (a random purchase of John’s). I am making plans to use these items up (many in lunches for John so I can avoid them) and am currently searching for replacements.

Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids is a recommended substitute for the Worcestershire sauce….A product that I have used and enjoyed for years.

While perusing the web I came across this very interesting link at the Peta website that says items such as OREO’s, Bisquick, and Crisco are vegan. After further noodling, I found that they contain the ingredients Mono and Diglycerides…..which CAN be made of animal fat. It seems Peta labels items vegan if the animal products measure less than 2%. Interesting!
The cake mix, Crisco, and Bisquick are from the list!

The decision....

John blames it all on a story we heard on NPR a few days ago. Products from cloned animals will soon be available in grocery stores...UNLABELED! Yes, icky. But not fully responsible for my decision. I have been a vegetarian, on and off, for over 12 years. Although I do not agree with the cruel treatment of animals, I am mainly focused on the health benefits veganism offers. Reduced risk of heart disease and cancer for starters!

The transition will not be instant. John is less than thrilled. But I know I will win him over with a few delicious meals...and a few vegan baked goods! Before long, he (we) won't miss cheese!!! And of course he occasionally sneaks in meat dishes when we go out to dinner.

So this will be a record of my transition. I do not currently eat meat but it is surprising how many food items contain animal products! My goal is to quickly use up products currently in my kitchen containing animal products while replacing them with vegan choices. I have found many great websites that offer vegan recipes, substitution ideas, and I am currently reading the book Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, R.D and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D. I have also scheduled an appointment to have my blood tested for minerals/vitamins/hormone levels, etc. to know if I am currently lacking in any area.

My hope for this blog is to share information, nutrition, and encourage veganism while keeping a food journal of things I make, restaurants, favorite websites, books, and maybe someday clothing and household items completely plant derived!!! Who knows.

Enjoy and Thanks!