Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Noodles with Green Beans

Music: AM580

Today's smoothie: carrot top greens, frozen strawberries, bit o'avocado, banana

I picked up some pretty green beans from Whole Foods the other day and consulted my favorite Vegan Express cookbook. This is Soba Noodles with Green Beans & Almonds except I didn't have soba noodles and I didn't have almonds. So I used regular organic whole wheat spaghetti noodles and just left out the almonds. It was fast and delicious, also the next day reheated as leftovers.

1/3 cup sliced almonds

8 oz soba noodles

1 10-oz bag frozen whole baby green beans or French-cut green beans

2-3 tbsp hoisin sauce (I buy this at Whole Foods or Nutri-Foods)

1 tbsp soy sauce, or to taste

1 tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (I use raw agave nectar from Nutri-Foods)

1 tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 scallions, thinly sliced (I used diced onion)

Freshly ground pepper

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet until golden, stirring often so they don't burn. Set aside and let cool.

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the green beans. Bring to a boil until noodles are al dente then drain.

In a small bowl, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, agave nectar, and vinegar and stir well.

Combine noodles/green beans and sauce in a serving dish, then add the onions and toss. Season with pepper to taste, toss again, then serve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Veg Fest 2010

Music: Pride and Prejudice, original motion picture soundtrack

Today's smoothie: curly parsley, fresh lemon balm leaves from the garden, frozen blueberries, banana, bit o'avocado

Last Sunday, we attended Veg Michigan's annual festival, Veg Fest, at Ferndale High for the first time. This is an all day event designed to promote and inform the public about going vegetarian and vegan. It was quite an impressive turnout and the final counts came in at around 2400 people, up from 1600 the previous year.

Veg Michigan's philosophy is to welcome everyone, not just vegetarians and vegans. The two big-name speakers this year were former Piston John Salley and Rory Freedman, author of the Skinny Bitch books. I liked Salley's philosophy: don't condemn or convert, just convince.

Rory Freedman, while certainly beautiful and colorful, was very graphic in her descriptions of animal abuse and she even read passages from a book about slaughterhouses. I had to leave the auditorium because I just couldn't handle it, even with my fingers in my ears. I know what goes on and it breaks my heart but I cannot hear about it, read about it, or see visuals. I'm just too sensitive I guess!

We also attended lectures on the raw foods lifestyle and why eating vegan is best for the environment.

There were booths and booths of information on everything from eco/vegan cosmetics, green cleaning, eco lawn care, organic food and teas, the raw lifestyle, and even vegan pet food.

There were also cooking demos and a fabulous spread of vegan vendors selling food and giving out free samples. I expected to see Royal Oak's The Inn Season Cafe there (as well as Whole Foods) but it made me happy to also see Detroit Zen Center of Hamtramck dishing out delicious choices to lines of people! I had a kale/quinoa salad and for dessert, a cacao milkshake--all raw!

If you're interested, next year, Veg Fest will be held at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Broccoli & Barley Salad

Music: Bessie Smith, Empty Bed Blues

Today's smoothie: baby spinach, dandelion greens (from my garden!), banana, bit o'avocado, frozen strawberries.

This is another pretty and delicious recipe from the Recipes for Health column from The New York Times by Martha Rose Shulman.

You can find the recipe here. I served it on top of a bed of baby spinach and lemon balm with sauteed tofu on top.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Music: the sounds of silence*

Today's smoothie: curly parsley, frozen blackberries, frozen strawberries, bit o'avocado, banana

Sometimes, when I'm not feeling well, I just want some spicy hot soup. I don't want a lot of chunks of vegetables or even grains, just something spicy and warm down my throat. My seasonal allergies have been bad this week and this quick and easy soup from The Urban Vegan just hit the spot today.

10-Minute Corn Consomme
6 C vegetable broth (I used 6 C water with 3 bouillon cubes)
2 1/2 C frozen corn
Generous pinch of either Spanish paprika or chili powder (paprika will give it a smoky flavor while the chili powder gives it hot spice)
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring all to a boil then simmer gently for 5 minutes. If desired, use an immersion blender to blend until desired consistency. I also added some scallions to this soup for even more flavor.

Served with fresh homemade bread, this felt so good to eat.

*Many people know I value silence very much and everyone's right to peace and quiet, but it certainly is hard when you live so close together in a neighborhood like I do. Just driving home today, in forty degree weather, I was struck by the sight of a three man lawn service (one on a riding mower, one raking, and a third blowing leaves) on a postage-stamp size lawn. They don't even give the lawn a chance to grow and send out its roots before they pulverize it with noise pollution and gas. When everyone and their brother each have a lawn service on a long block of houses, you've got noise pollution seven days a week all summer long (vs. once per week in an apartment or condominium complex). But you know what? It's only April 9th, way too soon for this kind of nonsense. I become angry that there is no respect for the environment or my neighbors' right to peace and quiet. Think about it, people, every time you want to turn on a loud, noxious machine that could well be done with a manual contraption.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Shampoo

Music: shuffle on my iPod

Today's smoothie: baby spinach, fresh pineapple, frozen strawberries and frozen mixed fruit blend, banana

The herbs are really starting to revive in the garden! The mints (spearmint, peppermint, orange mint and catmint) are up and Jim will soon move them to pots (because if he doesn't, they WILL take over the gardens). And, by the end of this week, we will use fresh lemon balm in our green smoothies. Yum! I've got several limes to use and I think lemon balm with lime will make a very nice combination.

I made a new batch of homemade shampoo last week. From Janice Cox's Natural Beauty from the Garden (a gift from my cousin, Suzanne), this is Scarborough Fair Shampoo:

1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh sage
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 C boiling water
1/2 mild liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner's unscented; I buy this at Nutri-Foods)

Place all herbs in a glass heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let steep for at least 20 minutes (or longer, until it cools). Strain out the herbs and compost them. Add the liquid soap to the herbed-infused water and stir to combine. With a small funnel, pour into a clean bottle and let sit overnight to thicken. To use: pour a small amount into your hand and massage into hair and scalp. Rinse well. I find this recipe makes my hair feel very clean and the herbs are a very nice, gentle scent. And, because you don't need a lot, I find that this mixture lasts me several months.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Crowd Out the Meat

Music: WRCJ, 90.9FM

Today's smoothie: organic flat leaf parsley, fresh pineapple, frozen strawberries, banana, bit o'avocado

Jim has a new idea or suggestion for those wishing to change their diet and reduce their meat consumption. Crowd out the meat. Make your meat portion smaller and fill your plate with side dishes of salads and grains. If there's more of these on your plate, there's less room for meat. In other words, don't make meat the center of your plate, turn it into a very small side. The more you reduce it, the less you eat and the less you eat of it, the less you will crave it. It's worth a try.

There's no way around it. Food has to become a big part of your life. Planning it, buying it, cooking it, and eating it. Every day. But once you've got some recipes under your belt, you branch out and it becomes easier. Your taste buds change, you no longer want the foods you used to swear you could never give up. It really opens up a whole new world.

I said the other day I cannot believe what a variety of foods I eat now. It's true. I notice even little things. How I no longer put any sprinkling of sugar on my grapefruit. How I reduce sugar in all my recipes that call for it. Because I cook so much, I know what I like and what proportions to use. It has become automatic.

Best of all, by not eating animal products, my digestive system has never run so smoothly. I used to get a stomachache at least once a week, if not several times a week. It has never happened since going vegan. If it were just that improvement, that would have been enough for me. But with all the other benefits, how could I ever want to go back?