Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Red Bean and Quinoa Soup

Music: The Flute Exchange, The Nightingale

Today's smoothie: curly kale, fresh pineapple, juice of one small lemon, banana

This is a quick and easy soup I made, adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Express by Nava Atlas.

Red Bean and Quinoa Soup

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 large carrot, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 vegan bouillon cubes

One 14-16 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 C quinoa rinsed (I would use 1 whole C next time)

One 15-16 oz can red beans (I used fresh cooked beans that I had frozen)

2 tsp curry powder

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot and add onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent. Add carrots & garlic and cook about 5 minutes more until golden.

2. Add 6 cups of water, bouillon cubes, tomatoes, quinoa, beans, curry, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil then reduced heat & simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes until quinoa is tender.

As a final touch for added nutrition, you can add some baby spinach and wilt it just before serving.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Getting More Greens into Your Day

Music: Mamas and the Papas on shuffle on my iPod

Today's smoothie: carrot greens, spinach, banana, chunks of fresh pineapple

One of the many, many things I've noticed since going vegan over two years ago is how often I eat greens and, additionally, how much more of them I eat than I ever did as a meat-eater. I was so sure that I was eating a varied diet; I cannot believe how wrong I was.

It's very easy to get more greens into your day once you're doing it regularly. Of course, you need to buy them first. Then it becomes a habit.

For me, it's something like this. About an hour after breakfast, I make a 2 quart (4 cup) green smoothie of a different green every day in my blender. You only need one generous cup minimum but you can certainly add more. Then I add a cup of fruit, a banana, about 2 1/2 cups water, and a bit of avocado if I have it (like a tablespoon) to reduce the foam.

At lunch, if I'm not eating a salad of some sort with greens already, I will add greens and herbs to my sandwich. And I don't limit myself to just lettuce. I've used spinach, chard, beet greens, parsley, lemon balm, and cilantro to name but a few. And I pile it on; one measly leaf? Try three or four at least. Often the greens are as thick as the filling.

Sometimes I'll even throw in a handful of baby spinach or chard when I reheat soup, tossing it in just before I serve it.

I never did any of this when I was a meat eater, mistakenly believing a salad every few days was "good enough." Now I crave greens every day, all kinds of greens.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Every Day Recipes from The New York Times

Music: Gloria Estefan, Mi Tierra**

Today's smoothie: parsley, banana, frozen mixed fruit

You just never know where you'll find an interesting recipe. Lately I've been checking out the daily New York Times online, with their Recipes for Health column by Martha Rose Shulman. Last week, she featured this delicious salad.

Bulgur and Lentil Salad

1 C green or beluga lentils, rinsed & picked over (for stones); (I used French green lentils from Whole Foods bulk section).

1 small onion, cut in half

2-3 garlic cloves, slightly crushed

1 bay leaf

Sea salt to taste

1 C fine or medium bulgur (I used Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking)

4 scallions, thinly sliced (I used more onion)

4-6 radishes, thinly sliced (I didn't have so used carrots instead)

1 C finely chopped fresh parsley

2-4 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint

1/3 C fresh lemon juice

1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted & ground (too much trouble so I just used ground)

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil (TOO MUCH OIL! I just added 1 tbsp at a time until it was the wet consistency that I like--I hate dripping salads)

1. Combine lentils, onions, garlic & bay leaf in a medium saucepan and add 2-3 C water, enough to cover by an inch or two. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, reduce heat, cover & simmer 25 minutes until lentils are tender but still intact. Remove from heat. The instructions said to remove & discard the onion, garlic, & bay leaf. I kept the onions and garlic to eat but composted the bay leaf. Drain lentils and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, while lentils are cooking, place bulgur in a medium heatproof bowl, and add a little salt. Cover with 2 C boiling hot water and allow to sit for 20-25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and bulgur in soft. Drain well.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine lentils, bulgur, scallions, radishes, parsley, and mint and mix well. At this point, I just added the lemon juice, oil to consistency, cumin, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Toss well. Allow to absorb flavors, about an hour or overnight. Serves six.

**Most people remember Gloria Estefan for her pop hits of the 80s, but I've always loved her few Spanish albums, especially Mi Tierra. As a Cuban, this album transports me to my childhood and my beloved grandparents, Tata & Titi, and spending weekends at their cozy little house in Allen Park. They'd prepare all my favorite foods, I'd share in their everyday errands, and we'd watch their favorite Spanish shows on Univision, especially Sabado Gigante (Giant Saturday), a silly variety show with a flamboyant host, Don Francisco. They enjoyed this album very much and it really has an old-fashioned acoustic Spanish feel to it. My favorite song on this album is "Con Los Anos Que Me Quedan." Every time I hear it, I think of my grandmother, Antonia Cartamil Almaguer.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Homemade Bread by Jim!

Music: The Weepies, Say I Am You

Today's smoothie: fresh curly organic parsley, 1 banana, bit o'avocado, frozen blackberries and strawberries.

I got another great book from the Troy Public Library (thanks, Connie!) the other day called My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey. I've been wanting to bake our own bread and Jim jumped right on this. He is now baking all of our bread! It's so cheap (about 50 cents worth of ingredients per loaf) and if Jim (who works 40 hours a week and takes 3 classes at Walsh College) can do this, anyone can.

I'm a lucky girl. And I know it.

Jim's Seedy Salt Bread

1 1/2 C white spelt flour

1 1/2 C stone ground whole wheat flour

1 1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 C water (enough for dough to be wet and very sticky; add a bit more if it's not)

1/4 C raw sunflower seeds

2 tbsp whole flax seeds

1/4 C old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)

Combine all in a large mixing bowl. Cover bowl with cotton tea towel (not terry cloth) or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, undrafty place for 18-24 hours. We put ours on top of the refrigerator.

Remove dough and place on lightly floured cutting board or very clean counter. Jim added a sprinkling of coarse sea salt to the board, too. Fold into an envelope shape and wrap in tea towel. Jim sprinkled with additional coarse sea salt and flour before wrapping in the towel. Let rise 2 more hours.

After 90 minutes, preheat oven with cast iron pan and lid in oven for 30 minutes. We borrowed an ancient one from my mother rather than buy a new one; so far it has worked wonderfully well. When dough is ready, carefully flip into the hot cast iron pan and cover with lid. Be very careful as the pan will be EXTREMELY hot. Bake for 30 minutes covered. Then remove lid and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from cast iron pan and let cool on cooling rack for at least 1 hour.

To store bread, place in paper bag on counter and use within 3 days. If you're not going to use it up, freeze all or half of it, which is what we usually do. That way, our bread never goes bad and it's never wasted.

Isn't it beautiful?

Friday, February 19, 2010

So What Do You Drink?

Music: AM580

Today's smoothie: dandelion greens, banana, bit o'avocado, frozen mixed fruit

I have never really liked the taste of alcohol. Maybe because I grew up in a house where alcohol was available--my parents liquor cabinet was always well-stocked, there was beer in the refrigerator for my father, and both parents often drank wine with dinner--I didn't want what I already had. Growing up, at special celebrations, my parents would allow my brother and I to enjoy a small glass of wine with them. So when the drinking parties began in junior high (yes, junior high), I was not invited. Mostly because I had a reputation as a nice, quiet, shy girl but also because they knew I most likely wasn't interested in getting drunk. And that was always the focus of those parties. Maybe I gave off a vibe?

I have never understood the concept of drinking for the sake of drinking and getting drunk, or to become more relaxed and, therefore, social. I find people who get drunk regularly to be boring and uninteresting. I much prefer stimulating conversation when both parties are sober. That to me is the most interesting conversation.

As an adult, I drank the occasional beer (mostly Mexican beers since that was what my parents bought) with dinner but never drank alcohol just on its own. Sometimes I would also have a glass of wine with a meal. The one and only time I felt I drank too much was one New Year's Eve with my then-boyfriend and father, and I did not like the feeling at all. It was an out of control feeling, almost like my body was disconnected from my mind. And it kind of scared me. So I made sure not to do that again.

A few years ago, I learned that a family member is an alcoholic. Suddenly, all alcohol felt distasteful to me. So that's another reason I choose not to drink.

Finally, most alcohol, unless you seek it out, is not vegan. It's made with an ingredient called isinglass, which is a gelatin made from the swim bladders of fish. It is used in the fining process (clarifying is the term I've seen used) of making jellies, glues, wine and other alcoholic beverages. It's even used in some cider. I don't know about you, but that's sounds kind of gross to me.

Otherwise, my drink of choice is a glass of water. In the morning with breakfast, I drink my double shot of espresso with warmed soy milk and in the afternoon, I enjoy Teeccino herbal coffee with more soy milk. In the summer, instead of carbonated pop, I like a mix of club soda with some Looza fruit nectar.

My idea of a great time with a friend is to meet for a cup of tea. My favorite kind of teas are fruity. That's my special time with good friends. It's good enough for me and I won't be offended if you invite me out for drinks, but I'll just have water or tea, please, and I hope you won't mind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies

Music: George Harrison, Best of George Harrison**

Today's smoothie: beet greens, 2 Clementines, 1 banana, bit o'avocado, 1/2 C frozen mango, 1/2 C frozen blueberries

If you haven't noticed by now, I always like to make something for special occasions, and Valentine's Day is no exception. I had to work that day so decided to make this new chocolate cookie recipe from Vive Le Vegan! by Dreena Burton. While I do like the recipes also from Babycakes by Erin McKenna, I sometimes cringe at the amounts of oil and sugar in her recipes. Burton's are just as delicious and actually a lot easier and quicker to make.

1 C unbleached flour (I used whole spelt & increased it by 1/4 C; I could also have used whole wheat pastry flour)

1/4 C cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp sliced almonds (toasted or not)

3 tbsp non-dairy chocolate chips (Trader Joe's are non-dairy)

1/4 C unrefined sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/3 C pure maple syrup (a little generous)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

1/4 C canola oil (I used vegetable; be a little generous)

2-3 tbsp non-dairy chocolate chips or chunks from a chocolate bar (for topping)

3 tbsp sliced almonds (again, for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees & line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, & baking soda). Add the almonds, chocolate chips, sugar, & salt & stir until well combined. In a smaller separate bowl, combine maple syrup, vanilla & almond extracts, & oil and stir well. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir until just well mixed (do not overstir). Place large spoonfuls of batter onto baking sheet. Take 1 or 2 chocolate chips or chunks and a pinch or two of the almonds and gently press onto the top of each cookie, slightly flattening them. Bake for 11 minutes. Let cool on pans for 1 minute then transfer to a cooling rack.

This recipe made 26 cookies for me and they freeze really well, just make sure to double wrap them to protect against freezer burn.

Jim was very happy that he got whatever cookies wouldn't fit in the tin I took to the library.

**While I love the Beatles, George has always been my favorite. Some of my favorite Beatles songs were written by him and I think I liked his shyness as well. Who is your favorite Beatle?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cauliflower Steaks

Music: Eisley, Room Noises

Today's smoothie: beet greens, frozen strawberries, 1 Clementine, bit o'avocado, banana

How cool is this? From Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Life, these are Cauliflower Steaks.

I don't know about you but I find preparing cauliflower a little daunting and annoying, the way it crumbles apart as you cut into it. How about slicing it like a loaf of bread instead?! Cook for about 15 minutes each side on a lightly oiled baking sheet, drizzle a little olive or flaxseed oil on them, sprinkle with sea salt & freshly ground pepper in a 350 degree oven.

They came out very tender and tasty. I served it with some roasted beets and Teriyaki Quinoa from Dreena Burton's Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan:

1 C dry quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 C water

4 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of salt

3/4-1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or 1/2 tsp dried)

3 1/2 tbsp tamari

2 1/2 tbsp agave nectar

2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice (or rice or apple cider vinegar, or combo of both)

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp toasted or raw sesame seeds (for garnish)

1/4 C green onions, sliced (for garnish)

In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water, garlic, and salt. Bring to a boil on high heat, stir, then cover, reduce heat to low, & cook 12-14 minutes. Turn off heat & stir in ginger, tamari, agave nectar, lemon juice, & sesame oil. Cover again & let sit 5 minutes or so. Remove cover & stir. Add sesame seeds & onions if desired.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Pancake Variations

Music: Giselle by Adolphe Adam**

Today's smoothie: organic parsley, frozen mango chunks, banana, bit o'avocado

Sunday is Pancake Day in this house (you knew that already, right?) and Jim is the pancake king (again, you knew that). Here are two delicious variations he whipped up these last two Sundays.

Biscuit-like pancakes made with slices of pear (pared just using a potato peeler) folded into the batter. This is now my preferred pancake recipe, courtesy of that amazing woman, LuAnn Bermeo, and her Amazing Meals cookbooks ( You must buy her books! They are all you need to eat well forever and ever.

The next pancake recipe Jim made was from Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. We had some leftover brown and black rice (yes, that's rice, black rice!). You just sprinkle a bit on the griddle, then pour the pancake batter right onto it. A great way to get extra grains (even though the flours we use are pretty darned packed with them already).

I made some of LuAnn's Oat Sage patties to go along with today's pancakes. Actually, I made extras to freeze for later use. You would never in a million years believe that these were NOT meat! I mean it. So good!

**From age 3 to 16, I studied ballet. While never showing signs of promise (ha ha ha), ballet instilled in me great discipline, control, and a love of classical music and dance (Thanks, Mom!). In Giselle, I danced the role of one of the villagers in the famous Maypole dance with the Fairlane Ballet Company, way back in the 1970s.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Energy Food

Music: Ben Lee, Awake is the New Sleep**

Today's smoothie: collard greens, fresh pineapple, bit o'avocado, banana, frozen tropical fruit blend

The other day I made a batch of yummy Energy Cookies from Dreena Burton's Vive Le Vegan! I froze all but about 8 of them to have in the little vintage cookie tin I keep on the kitchen counter. Sometimes I like to have a little sweet with my coffee, tea, or Teeccino. These cookies are very easy & filled with my favorite nuts and dried fruit.

1/2 C + 1 tbsp barley flour
1/4 C spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C raw sunflower seeds
1/4 C hemp seed nuts (I find these at Nutri-Foods)
1/4 C pumpkin seeds (I didn't have so I just used pecans)
1/4 C raisins or other dried fruit, chopped
3-4 tbsp non-dairy chocolate chips or carob chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp flax meal
1/4 C pure maple syrup
2 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
1- 1 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp canola oil (I used vegetable oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients EXCEPT the flax meal, mixing well. In another smaller bowl, combine the flax meal, maple syrup, and milk. Add the molasses, vanilla, & oil and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir well. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet, flatten slightly, and bake for about 13-14 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about a minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

Here's a close-up! So good!

I also made an quick and easy Pea Salad. Often when I eat at the Sprout House, I keep the lids of the plastic that the salad came in because it lists the ingredients. Then I can re-create it at home. Here's what's in their Pea Salad:

Peas, Veganaise, lemon juice (I didn't have so I substituted rice wine vinegar), sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg, cayenne, onion chopped fine, parsley, Dijon mustard. Quick, easy, and good for you!

**I first heard of Ben Lee from teen writer Sarah Dessen's blog. Usually, I don't like her music suggestions but I found Ben Lee to be a happy-sounding singer; and sometimes you just need that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Eating Vegan=Eating Well

Music: Baroque music shuffled on my iPod

Today's smoothie: collard greens, bit o'avocado, frozen blackberries, fresh pineapple (bananas weren't ripe enough so I left it out)

I thought I'd just give a quick sampling of some of the wonderful food I've been eating lately.

This is a soft wheat berry and navy bean salad with fresh parsley, celery, onion, lemon juice, flax oil, agave nectar, sea salt, & dijon mustard.

This is a winter kale salad (originally from the blog Diana Stobo's Eating for Health, Vibrance, & Beauty, shared via the blog In the Raw)with cranberries (both fresh & dried in the salad as well as the dressing), onions, poppy seeds, sea salt, olive oil, agave nectar. We topped it with some sauteed firm tofu and fresh sprouts, courtesy of Jim's indoor garden.

This is a vegetable Masala "burger" patty from Trader Joe's on a whole wheat bun, with a side of roasted potatoes, carrots, & onions.

That's some potato soup that Jim made (we froze half of it to enjoy later) served with some toasted Motown Multigrain bread from Avalon Bakery that we bought at Sprout House in Grosse Pointe Park, and some leftover winter kale salad.

And this is a quick meal Jim whipped up with some Trader Joe's soy chorizo and a couscous bean salad I made earlier in the day. We enjoyed it with Garden Fresh Salsa Co.'s chips and salsa. Ole!

I should mention that all of these soups and salads were made in the mornings to be enjoyed later or by Jim on the weekend. I usually work afternoons and evenings so I am able to do this but you can do it on the weekend or in the evening after dinner. And I always, always make enough to enjoy for at least 3 days.