Although I enjoy the process of sketching, I am trying this new style. We have plans to expand the food idea so others can use it too.
Not only do I like to keep track of what I eat, it gives people unfamiliar with a plant-based diet an idea of what we eat. Also, I am doing a lot more illustration and art lately so this fits in well. Today I got out the paints and will be painting all my canvases (and in some cases re-painting).
For lunch today I had yesterday night’s soup, Lemony Cauliflower Carrot soup. It was not as good as I hoped (may be done with NY Times recipes), which was disappointing since I spent $7 on miso paste for this! Oh well, I will make use of it. It won’t be making it into the regular rotation, and Miss Picky wouldn’t eat it. Last night we had it with Roasted Portobello mushroom sandwiches, which were very good.
For an after-breakfast snack I had some of the avocado pudding. I liked this recipe okay, but didn’t have enough peanut butter to make that flavor come through. Next time I am going to try a recipe without banana. Everyone loved it except Ms. Picky who could detect the banana with her sensitive palette.
The only thing I actually made today was the Thai Red Curry with vegetables for dinner. I had the curry paste on hand, and used some green beans instead of yellow bell pepper. Everyone loved this, and I will make this one again for sure.
Lastly, some snack bars and chocolate samples we got from the Veg Fest Challenge. And, tonight I wasn’t sure whether I wanted coffee or wine, strangely I can usually go either way.
Is there anyone who doesn’t love pizza? With all the different crusts and toppings, there is something for everyone. However, one of the main components is usually cheese.
Vegans, lactose-intolerant, and those who just want a lower-fat option finally have some great options.
In Portland we are lucky enough to have a vegan option in many of our traditional pizza places. Most of them use a soy-based cheese. I saw a neighborhood place just added this delicious sounding combo: Arugula/Pumpkin Seed pesto, Meyer Lemon, and Cashew “Ricotta”.
Since we were having guests over, I wanted to make a pizza that was delicious enough to make the missing cheese portion irrelevant.
Last week, I ordered pizza from Hot Lips Pizza, who has three different options. One of them had a squash base with vegetables and hazelnuts. It was quite good, and I thought I could try to make that myself.
Apparently, I am not the only fan. Minimalist Baker is also located in Portland, and has her own recipe based on the Hot Lips Pizza.
Just to cover my bases and have two options, I also made a recipe from Forks over Knives that looked tasty to me! It uses creamed spinach and tofu as a base.
I tried making my pizzas with both store-bought Boboli crust, and a fresh pizza dough (purchased from the store). The fresh pizza dough was actually the much better option- only about $3.25 and locally made, it was much better and cheaper.
Both pizzas were pretty easy to make. The butternut one required roasting the squash first, and cooking some of the veg.
For our omnivore guests, the spinach pizza was actually the favorite option. The kids were not a fan of the butternut pizza. I’m going to try making some different options, maybe with a nut-based cheese, and experimenting with toppings on these pizzas. You’ll have to trust me… my pizzas looked exactly like these photos. (-;
I made my own version an egg sandwich based on an egg benedict recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ Vegan Brunch cookbook.
Amy’s Egg-free Sandwich
1 pound firm tofu
1 tbsp Bragg’s amino (or soy sauce)
1/2 tsp mustard
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp salt (did not have black salt which would be preferable)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking
1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently press some of the water out of the tofu. Lay the tofu on its narrow side and slice into three pieces lengthwise. So basically you will have three slices that are large, flat rectangles.
2. Marinate the tofu for about an hour or overnight
3. Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat, add a thin layer of olive oil (or margarine) and cook on each side till nicely browned, about 15 minutes.
For dinner, I made a whole roasted cauliflower and used this recipe. It smelled divine. I just didn’t care for the almond sauce which turned out way too garlicky. I might just roast a cauliflower another time, or try a different recipe.
Every once in a while I make seitan. My husband likes the taste, and it sounds vaguely demonic. My favorite recipe is this one that is baked and tastes like a pepperoni log. So easy to make and packed with protein from vital wheat gluten and B12 from nutritional yeast. It is especially good in a sandwich with all the fixings!
I finished off the last of the Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Butter. It is pretty delicious, but I want to research the palm oil in it. I really try to avoid products with palm oil as it is present in so many products and is a major cause of deforestation. Earth Balance is a leader in having higher standards for responsible, sustainable palm oil. I hope so, because I would hate to give up their delicious butter spread!
Are one of those people who love fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions? You may have wanted to kick off the new year with a healthy habit. Veganuary was created specifically for you! With support for the whole month, there has been great success with people taking this pledge.
I started my solo challenge in March 2012 using Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s book “30 Day Challenge” as a guide. Here is how I made my change to a vegan lifestyle almost 4 years ago, and still going strong.
Locally, your vegetarian organization may be a great resource. NW Veg launched a shorter 22 day challenge on January 9. I’ve been participating as a mentor, and it has actually been a lot of fun. It has given me some renewed enthusiasm for trying recipes, and we have some great speakers and events during the challenge including Grant Butler, Dr. Michael Greger, Howard Lyman and more. Also, I was fortunate to get a very cool person as my mentee. We had a great talk, and I hope we can hit up Next Level Burger together soon with our kids. She’s been vegetarian for years, and ready to see the health benefits of cutting out dairy and eggs.
If you are reading this mid-January and think you’ve missed the boat. I would try following Oregonian food and entertainment writer, Grant Butler’s example. He chose February since it is the shortest month to try it as an experiment. Almost 6 years later and he is stronger than ever. He shared with 60 of us (vegans and aspiring vegans) his story and his tips. I’ll summarize here:
Grant Butler’s tips for Veg Challenge
1. Don’t focus on the negative. It’s not what you are missing, it is about all that you are adding.
2. Try to keep it simple.
3. Don’t focus on protein. That is always an over-inflated concern, but not a problem in reality.
4. Seek out great recipes. Cooking is great, and also trying vegan restaurants so you don’t have to think about the ingredients.
5. Do the best that you can, it isn’t about perfection.
6. Keep a food diary. (I sketch my food diary to make it fun). You can see what you might need to add to your diet.
7. Get to know your grocery’s produce manager. This is one I did not know, but apparently they have recipes they can give you and tips on cooking new vegetables.
8. B12: Take a supplement, it is the only nutrient you can’t get from plants. Many vegan milks and products are fortified with B12.
9. Keep moving! Get exercise.
Grant ended his inspiring talk by making a personal guarantee. Although losing weight and being more healthy are bonuses that can happen, there are two things that will definitely happen when you change your lifestyle: You will lower your carbon footprint and take yourself out of the mess of the animal food system.
Think about that for a moment. The most devoted meat eater normally is still against animal cruelty or unnecessary torture. There is no way to fix this without voting with our dollars, without reducing demand. Meat and dairy are incredibly resource-intensive. We face issues of drought, deforestation and species extinction- wildlife and sea animals are incredibly affected by our choices of what we put on our plates.
I am so happy that Grant is writing at the Oregonian spreading the best vegan recipes, restaurants and using his wide outreach to show how approachable vegan food can be. He is also a great mentor and resource. Here are a few of his latest favorite recipes and cookbooks.
If you have never tried a vegan diet and want a mentor, let me know. There are resources to help no matter what time of year you decide to give it a shot. You literally have nothing to lose (except possibly weight), you can try it for 3-4 weeks, and there has never been a better time to start.
Saturday was a big cooking day. I made vegan Shepherd’s pie and my first attempt at raw cheesecake for my husband’s birthday.
It was also the kick off day of NW Veg’s 22 day veg challenge! I am excited to be a mentor in the program and participate in the many events. Hopefully, it will help me keep the energy and creativity I have been having around trying new recipes too so I can share them! I really enjoyed Grant Butler’s talk. It is always interesting to hear how other people decided to transition their diet. I will write a post about his talk separately, and talk about the challenge.
I’m loving Minimalist Baker’s website: simple, delicious recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. The author, Dana is based in Portland, Oregon and focuses on vegan and gluten-free recipes. Her Shepherd’s Pie passed my picky eater’s test. It even has onions in it which were not remarked upon. We’ll be making this simple and delicious meal again!
For the dessert, I decided to try her Raw Vegan cheesecakes that come in individual servings as the base. I wanted to try two flavors: lime and chocolate and looked at some of her other raw recipes to find out how to adapt the main recipe. This was incredible, and quite easy. Cashew-based filling, and no tricky ingredients. I had looked at one that needed Cacao (not cocoa), dessicated coconut (?), and groats (?) but rejected it since those aren’t available at our local non-fancy store. It did not pass my picky eater’s test (she didn’t like the walnut/date crust), but that was okay because MORE FOR US! It built up my confidence to try another raw dessert soon.
We bought 40 pounds of honeycrisp apples. We eat several a day, they are so good, expect to see a lot of apple sketches.
My son made his dad’s birthday dinner. They had gone to Food Front Co-op, and bought Gardein’s Sweet and Sour Porkless bites. I have loved all of their plant-based meats. We try to make our meals mostly plant-based, but there is NOTHING wrong with incorporating some veggie meats into your diet. I don’t think this needs to be a controversial issue. No animals harmed. And if you want to try it, I highly recommend these. One of my New Year’s goals is to learn how to take better pictures with my fancy camera. Bear with me, this was a phone pic. Why didn’t I take a picture of the cakes? I guess I’ll need to make them again! They were quite lovely and actually resembled her beautiful photos on her website, you will have to settle for my drawing of them.
I’ve been faithfully drawing, except for a gap on January 7 where I think I forgot something I ate. I see a pattern developing over the last two days where I ate the same thing twice in one day. Partly I may have been being a little lazy, but mostly I just really liked what I made enough that I wanted it again. In our house, leftovers don’t stick around. If you don’t eat it within the day, it is usually not going to make it another day. Grand Central Bakery’s Como bread really makes everything so good. We polished a loaf off in two days. Maybe more than you needed to know…
I may talk a little later about the plant-based meat and cheese I used: Beyond Chicken and Follow Your Heart cheese. I also went to a local vegan bakery Back to Eden, that I will have to try out again and add to my list.
The cow takes the place of the “Elephant in the room” an Englishmetaphoricalidiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.
There are multiple reasons we don’t hear diet choices as the number one change you can make to help climate change. One of the main ones being that the dairy, beef, egg industries do NOT want us to know the impact because they profit from our ignorance. They influence the government and large environmental organizations. To speak up against them is serious. Ag gag laws specifically target this and try to prevent activists from filming how they actually produce the source of our food!
We allow this to happen because it is easier to just ignore the consequences… ignorance is bliss. Who wants to think about how calves are born and immediately taken away from their mothers so we can use their milk, or how all the male baby chicks are ground up. And those aren’t even the environmental reasons. These factory farms are contaminating our water without commiserate penalties, they are allowed to use natural resources for free or a fraction of the cost. We are destroying everything for the sake of chicken, bacon, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Besides animal cruelty and environmental impact, even for health reasons people would rather make other other choices than change their diets. Doctors know this, and in many cases will prescribe drugs and surgery instead of trying to have the patient stick to a plant-based diet. Watch Forks over Knives to learn more about how diabetes, heart disease and other issues can be reversed by eating plant-based.
I’m writing this article today since I finally saw the National Geographic Magazine Climate Change issue (November 2015). I was excited to see what it would say. The first section: How YOU can affect climate change.
This section highlights building a tiny house to live in. Small icons have other ideas like composting, not driving two days a week or washing clothes in cold water.
The next page, very small at the bottom. “If meat were dropped from diets globally, the reduction in CO2 emissions would almost equal total U.S. annual emissions.”
So, basically, this enormous environmental change we can make without changing homes is treated as a caption.
Smaller homes is a great idea, but practically speaking, here is a bigger impact each of us can make every day, three times a day that gets very little publicity. It has been gaining awareness, and I really hope to see that continue. On a practical level every restaurant should vegan options, and delicious plant-based cheeses and meats need to become more available and less expensive in grocery stores. The cow in the room isn’t going away.
I’ve noticed that I am feeling much more comfortable now experimenting with recipes. Yesterday was one of those scraping-the-barrel days, where I used whatever was in the fridge and made substitutions freely. For breakfast I made an “egg” sandwich loosely based on a Benedict recipe. Marinated tofu slices with vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil. With some salt, on a sandwich with a little tofutti cream cheese it tasted divine. In fact, I chose to eat a second one for lunch. The olive bread was a good addition.
For dinner I planned to make a Boboli pizza, but didn’t want to use tomato sauce. Instead I created my own pesto using spinach leaves, garlic, a little lemon, olive oil and walnuts. In the middle of making the pesto, I discovered I only had about 6 nuts. I found some hemp seeds and put those in. I then discovered I had nothing for toppings! I scrounged around and sliced potato very thinly, used some sun-dried jar tomatoes and fried up some beefless strips. It turned out really tasty, almost like a gourmet Pizzacato pizza.
A new smoothie recipe using apple, blueberries and lemon sounded particularly good. It made enough for the whole family, not one person as the recipe indicates. Nice break from the banana/spinach/almond milk smoothies I usually make.