Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Monday, March 29, 2010

Smoky Red Quinoa Soup

Music: The Fray, on shuffle on my iPod

Today's smoothie: curly parsley, fresh pineapple, frozen peaches, bit o'avocado, banana

Jim came up with another winner of a soup recipe all on his own last Friday. The flavor in this is amazing. Here's the recipe:

Smoky Red Quinoa Soup
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2 C water
1 vegan bouillon cube
1/4 tsp smoked paprika*
1/4 tsp hickory salt*
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 C red quinoa (from the bulk section of Whole Foods)

Boil 2 C water in a soup pot. Add the bouillon cube, diced tomatoes, paprika, & hickory salt. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend well but leave some tomato chunks. Add oregano.

In a separate pot, cook 1/2 C quinoa in 1 C water for 15 minutes. Add quinoa to soup pot (even if it hasn't absorbed all the water. Simmer 10-15 minutes more.

Serve with fresh or toasted whole grain bread and a green veggie on the side.

*We buy all our spices in bulk at the Dirty Girl Farms stand at the Royal Oak Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Good Food Every Day

Music: Bee Gees, The Ultimate Bee Gees

Today's smoothie: spinach, frozen mixed fruit blend, frozen blueberries, bit o'avocado, banana

I'm still amazed at how varied my diet is. Jim and I were just talking about how we never ate this well early in our marriage. Every day is a new vegan adventure of great eating. We even get excited the night before about what we're going to eat the next day; how silly is that? I will say this. Being vegan is a lot easier and a lot more fun when you have someone to share it with.

Jim made some bulgur sausage-like patties yesterday using a recipe from LuAnn Bermeo's Amazing Meals ( We froze most of them but enjoyed them in some Food For Life Sesame buns with endive, raw onions, and Vegenaise. I also made a delicious side salad of Red Bean Slaw from Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan. It made a nice crunchy accompaniment. So flavorful and very easy.

3/4 C Vegenaise
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3 C cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped (I used 3 celery hearts)
1 19-oz can kidney beans, drained & rinsed (I used my own fresh/cooked/frozen, 2 C)
1/4 C imitation "bacon" bits (optional; I never have this so I don't use it)

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients, add dressing, and toss well.

This is some sauteed red cabbage with onions, some dill pickle slices, and a Smoky Paprika Hummus spread on two toasted slices of homemade whole wheat bread with endive and parsley. The hummus recipe is from a new book Jim won using points earned at work, called The Urban Vegan by Dynise Balcavage.

It's a very different hummus in that it really has a smoky flavor to it. Another winner for my hummus repertoire:

1 can chickpeas, drained (I used 2 C of my own fresh/cooked/frozen)
4 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 garlic cloves
Up to 1/3 C water, or amount needed to achieve desired thickness/thinness

In a food processor, mix all ingredients EXCEPT the water and blend until smooth. Add water as needed, 1 tbsp at a time through the tube until it's like you like it. Stop and scrape down the sides and add some sea salt if needed.

Finally, a Tofu Salad that I've made before, from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. These salads remind me of summer; both are very cooling in their taste and texture.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paying Attention to Your Body

Music: Bread, Anthology

Today's smoothie: spinach, fresh pineapple, bit o'avocado, banana, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

I've made a discovery this past winter that drives home the principle of paying attention to one's body and how certain foods affect it. Many times, when visiting friends or meeting up for tea at a cafe, I've forgotten my little packets of stevia. At those times, I've often just used the sugar in the raw or white table sugar that is offered. The next day, without fail, I've noticed tiny white pimples (about the size of a pin head) on various parts of my face. They go away when I wash my face but they are there and they only appear the day after I've eaten sugar. This has happened at least four times.

I notice this doesn't happen at home because I use stevia and, in baking, I use turbinado sugar. Something about regular sugar being dissolved in hot liquid does something to my skin. If only I had realized this when I was a teenager I could have saved myself a lot of grief!

So now I will make every effort to take stevia with me in a little tin and keep it in my bag. I buy stevia at Nutri-Foods in downtown Royal Oak.

It got me thinking about how many people I know suffer from ailments (aches and pains, migraines, etc.) and may not realize that what they're eating could have an affect. It certainly can't hurt to omit certain foods from the diet that are known for being "triggers." It's also funny to me that food omissions are seen as drastic while the use of drugs are not. How did we get to this place? Why did my father choose to have surgery over changing what he eats to lower his blood pressure? I'll never know.

I picked up Dr. Neal Barnard's book, Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings at the library to help me understand more. In it, he describes the effects of dairy, particularly cheese on the body. Did you know that dairy contains morphine, which is of course known as being addicting? Research has shown that cows actually produce morphine! No wonder people tell me that they could never give up cheese! It's a drug. Who knew? Crazy. I had also heard about this in one of the lectures at the vegan retreat I attended last November.

It is still an amazing revelation to me how food affects the body even after two years of being vegan. But it makes sense.

Jim made this beautiful stir-fry last night for dinner. We bought this pretty bright green bunch of baby broccoli at Whole Foods on Saturday that I just couldn't resist, and he added red cabbage, onion, carrots, chickpeas, and tofu in a sauce of ginger, maple syrup, and tamari (a soy sauce alternative that you can find in any market). The tofu and chickpeas were marinated in the sauce for about 30 minutes then added to the onion, broccoli, and carrots in a light saute with olive oil. The cabbage was added last. Gorgeous and delicious! I could eat stuff like this almost every day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oak Street Tempeh Mango Chutney Salad

Music: Fuel on shuffle on my iPod

Today's smoothie: fresh pineapple, kale, banana, bit o'avocado

I made this Oak Street Tempeh Mango Chutney Salad last Saturday. The recipe is a variation of Jill Ovnik's version which I learned on my vegan retreat weekend. I've made tempeh salads before with just Vegenaise and other veggies but I decided to finally buy some chutney. Oh, my goodness! Absolutely delicious! You must try this!

Here's the original recipe, but in parentheses are my measurements since I'm only cooking for two here:

4 8-oz. pkgs. tempeh, any variety (I used 1 8-oz Trader Joe's Three Grain Tempeh--I cut it up in cubes and steamed it for about 25 minutes first since this reduces possible bitterness which I do not taste but Jim does)
8 oz or 2 C dry roasted or raw slivered almonds (I used 1/2 C raw sliced almonds)
1 12-0z jar of Major Grey Mango Chutney (I used 1/4 C; you can find this at Whole Foods)
1 C Vegenaise (I used 1/4 C; you can buy Vegenaise at Nutri-Foods or Whole Foods in the refrigerated section)
2 stalks celery-4 C sliced (I used 2 celery hearts diced fine)
4 C red grapes (I omitted since they're not in season but would use 1 C sliced if I did)
2 tsp curry powder (I used 1/2 tsp)
2 Tbsp agave nectar (I used 1/2 Tbsp; you can buy at either Nutri-Foods or Whole Foods)

Blend chutney with Vegenaise in a blender if chutney is too chunky. I personally didn't feel like doing this so just mixed everything up in large mixing bowl. Serve as a salad or in a sandwich.

Take a bite and enjoy your taste buds exploding in flavor! I once served tempeh in a salad to my meat-eating but open-minded friend, James, and he said, "If you hadn't told me this wasn't chicken, I never would have believed it." Yay!

I served it as a salad with a side salad of sesame noodles and Jim's bread.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Music: Gladys Knight and the Pips on shuffle on my iPod

Today's smoothie: beet greens, fresh pineapple, banana, avocado

Everyone has some kind of stress in their life from time to time. It's my turn lately. My husband will be laid off from his job in June and I work at the Troy Public Library which will close in June 2011. Until it closes, there will be 39 people laid off as of July 2010 then another 69 July 2011 and a big reduction in operating hours. I don't yet know what group I will be in but it doesn't really matter. I will eventually lose a job that I love and, with less people around, my job will become more stressful if I'm one of the few left. I don't yet know if I will even be in Michigan if Jim or I get a job somewhere else so everything is up in the air and I feel like my life is on hold.

So how I am dealing with all this? I really think being vegan is helping for the major reason that my health is great despite all the stress! I still sleep through the night, don't have indigestion, and my face is clear.

In addition to my lifestyle, I am knitting and crocheting up a storm. I'm working on a knitted tank top right now and hope to begin a crochet sweater soon as well as a crochet coverlet for my bed.

I also read voraciously. I'm often reading two or three books at the same time: one I keep at work to read on my breaks, one in the dining room for when I eat alone, and one on my nightstand to read before I turn off the lights.

I'm still seeing friends but inviting them over to my house for a cuppa instead of eating out. And of course, I'm always cooking something.

I play my flute and am very glad that I joined a concert band; the happy tunes we're playing really take my mind off my troubles.

And then there's this blog which keeps me writing almost every day. Even if I don't post, I'm usually working on a post to post later. I really enjoy it.

I'm still doing my daily yoga before breakfast but am now able to incorporate a 30 minute walk outside as well. Sunshine would help but it's being fickle right now. I am really looking forward to hiking in the woods soon at Holly Recreation Area or Seven Lakes Recreation Area. While I love Kensington Metro Park's nature trails, there is a shooting range across the freeway at Island Lake Recreation Area and who wants to hear shooting while you're meandering the trails? Not me.

How about you? What are your stress relievers?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Punjabi Cauliflower and Potato Curry

Today's smoothie: kale, pineapple, banana, avocado

This was a delicious new recipe I found in The Vegetarian Bible by Margaret Barca, called Punjabi Cauliflower and Potato Curry. The spices were so good and infused throughout the dish. Wow.

1 pound of new red potatoes (or any waxy potatoes)

1 bunch of cauliflower, cut into florets/chunks

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tbsp fresh grated)

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

2-3 tbsp water

Sea salt & pepper to taste

I just boiled the potatoes until fork tender then cooled them. I then cut them into 1-inch cubes. I steamed the cauliflower in a sieve over a saucepan with about a 1/4 inch boiling water until tender. Since I work afternoons, I did this in the morning. Jim then had everything ready to cook when he got home from work.

Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add cauliflower and fry for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes over low heat.

Then add potatoes, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry, and water. This is a dry curry--there's no sauce--so the water is enough to moisten the mixture so it shouldn't stick to the pan. Stir and cook until potatoes are heated throughout and vegetables are coated in the spices.

We served it with some steamed kale on the side; if we had had time, I also would have added a grain dish to this meal.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homemade Peanut Butter

Today's smoothie: parsley, frozen fruit blend, bit o'avocado, banana

In our ongoing effort to reduce the amount of waste we recycle or toss (per one of our New Year's resolutions), Jim decided to make our own peanut butter. His first batch was made with some roasted peanuts using a food processor but it didn't quite taste the like organic commercial brand we bought. So he tried again after noticing that the batch he had made was significantly lighter in color than the store bought. He decided to roast the roasted peanuts even more and then tried again. This time, it came out tasting almost exactly like the store bought brand we loved. We store it in the refrigerator in one of those old-fashioned glass containers that they used to give you (for free!) long ago when you bought a refrigerator; these were my grandmother's.

Speaking of which, as my plastic containers break, melt, or just plain go bad, I've decided to replace them with glass instead.

So along with bread, vegan sausage-like products, and cereal (muesli and granola), we now no longer buy peanut butter in a plastic container. Yay!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Music: Andrew Bird, Noble Beast

Today's smoothie: flat-leaf parsley, mint leaves, frozen peaches, banana, bit o'avocado

This is an Oat Sage patty (which I now make in batches & freeze for later use either like this or as my pancake accompaniment) from LuAnn Bermeo's Amazing Meals ( I served it on a Food for Life Ezekiel sprouted sesame bun, spread with some Vegenaise, & topped it with raw onions and sprouts (courtesy of Jim's ongoing sprout project in the dining room). I just steamed some broccoli & lightly tossed with a little flax oil & sprinkled with sesame seeds.

By the way, somebody asked me the other day where they could buy these products so it made me think I should be telling you this, of course! I find the Food for Life buns at Hollywood Market (in the freezer section), Nutri-Foods (in the refrigerated section), or Whole Foods (also in the freezer section). You can find Vegenaise at either Nutri-Foods or Whole Foods in the refrigerated section. I think they are cheaper at Nutri-Foods or Hollywood Market. And, like my bread, I freeze half of the buns & keep the rest in the refrigerator if I'm planning to eat them within a week.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Power Porridge

Music: Sentimental Journey: Great Ladies of Song, Vol. 2

Today's smoothie: fresh pineapple, kale, frozen fruit blend, banana, bit o'avocado

I found this interesting cookbook at the Grosse Pointe Public Library called Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. Ever since I visited (& fell in love with) Charleston, South Carolina a few years ago, I've wanted to try some of the foods I enjoyed "veganized" (such as fried green tomatoes, corn & grits, hoppin' john, etc.).

But I came across a recipe for this breakfast grain dish. Terry calls it Power Porridge because the two grains it's made with, amaranth and quinoa, are considered powerhouse grains packed with both protein and fiber. 1/4 cup raw quinoa has 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein while 1/4 cup raw amaranth gives 7.5 grams of fiber and 7.1 grams of protein!* They also contain more calcium than milk! ** Sure debunks the myth of "so where do you get your protein?" or "how do you get enough calcium?" I love whole grain cereals and this recipe looked so good I just had to try it.

While I love quinoa, it just doesn't taste right for breakfast to me. It tastes too much like it should be part of a savory meal, which its nutty flavor complements. But I often love eating breakfast food for dinner when I'm just not into cooking fancy or even feeling that hungry.

So this is perfect for a nice, comfy, cozy meal at home, alone or with a loved one. The recipe said it served 4-6 so I halved it, & these are the exact measurements that I used to make 2 servings.

1/4 C water
1/4 C amaranth
1/4 C quinoa, rinsed in a sieve
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp coconut oil
1 C soymilk (or rice milk, or hazelnut milk, or any non-dairy milk)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 C banana chips
2 tbsp raisins
1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal

In a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, combine water, milk, cinnamon stick, quinoa, amaranth, salt, & coconut oil. Bring to a boil then quickly reduce heat to low. Cover & simmer for 20 minutes.

Add banana chips, raisins, flaxseed, and agave nectar and stir to combine. Add more milk to desired creaminess.

Remove from heat & let stand for 5 minutes.

*Prevention Magazine's Nutrition Advisor, c1992
**Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry, c2009

Friday, March 5, 2010


Music: The Eagles on shuffle on my iPod**

Today's smoothie: flat leaf Italian parsley, frozen fruit mix, 1 banana, bit o'avocado, frozen papaya

This is just a sampling of some delicious meals I've enjoyed this week.

This is just some steamed kale seasoned with flax oil, sea salt & pepper, Coconut Lime Rice (made with brown rice), and a variation on LuAnn Bermeo's Tempeh Pepper Steaks from Amazing Meals ( with onions.

Some of my absolute favorite biscuit-like pancakes from LuAnn's Amazing Meals, made with banana slices, and a side of Oat Sage patties.

A hummus sandwich served with greens on Jim's homemade bread and a side of roasted carrots. It's a slightly different hummus from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan:

Roasted Red Pepper & Almond Hummus
1/2 C raw almonds
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 C cooked chick peas
1/2 C roasted red peppers (I used yellow), excess liquid drained
1 medium garlic clove, sliced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-4 tbsp water to thin dip as desired (I usually add the full 4 tbsp, 1 at a time)
1/4-1/3 C fresh chopped parsley

In a food processor, add almonds & pulse until very fine. Add vinegar, oil, chickpeas, peppers, garlic, mustard, salt, & pepper. Puree until smooth, gradually adding water as needed to your desired thinness. You might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Once smooth, add parley, and lightly puree to incorporate.

**My first memory of the Eagles was hearing them played on LPs at my maternal grandparents' house in Delray (Detroit) by my generation-older cousins, Joe, Mike, Felipe, David, Bobby, & John; I was about seven or eight and they were in their late teens. It was through them that I heard a lot of 1970s classic rock, including Foreigner, ELO, and Styx.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Music: Rooney: Calling the World**

Today's smoothie: baby spinach, banana, fresh pineapple, bit o'avocado

Last Saturday night, I made some homemade polenta while Jim made some of his tomato sauce for homemade pizza. He used the basic pizza recipe from Jim Lahey's My Bread. We smothered it in shallots, green and Kalamata olives, marinated artichokes, & roasted peppers. I call it Antipasto Pizza. Yum!

The pizza dough recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas, so we froze the other half for another time.

3 3/4 C bread flour (Jim used a mix of whole wheat pastry flour)
2 1/2 tsp instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp plus pinch sugar
1 1/3 C room temperature (72 degrees F) water
olive oil for pans

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, yeast, salt & sugar. Add water and using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough is a bit stiffer than others in the book, which are stickier. Cover the bowl & let sit at room temperature until dough is more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Oil baking sheets and scrape half of the dough onto one baking sheet. Gently pull & stretch dough across pan surface and use your hands to press evenly to the edges. If dough is sticky, lightly dust with flour or coat your hands in some oil. Add toppings then bake between 400-500 degrees, depending on the intensity of your oven. Ours is perfect at 450 degrees and baked for between 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

**I'm always bringing home new music and then Jim promptly wants it for his iPod. This group was yet another suggestion from Stephenie Meyer's web site and I fell in love with Rooney's seventies rock style. Even the album cover looks like it could have come out in 1978! I think their lyrics are funny ( "You need somebody nice/someone with patience/And a big fat wallet/to pay for all your expenses whoa/No compliment will ever/make a dent in your eyes") and their music just sounds happy.