We’re updating the blog, and as I reorganized some old posts, I realized that I missed celebrating my Veganniversary. February 1, 2012 I started this journey and have consistently stayed true to this commitment. And yes, I still count myself as vegan even if I slipped up sometimes.
I really didn’t know if I would relapse, but at this point, I feel even more strongly about the movement than before. It has made a huge impact in my life, and changed how I view the world. I’m now advocating every day for the animals, the earth and my kid’s future. Not to mention, our health. In the past 4 years I have read so much, and learned even more than when I started. I now have experience in cooking plant-based meals and there are more products even then when I started.
Besides trying a new vegan restaurant to celebrate, I have a new goal to start for March. While we feel positive about veganism from a standpoint of animals, environment and health, I think our family can make improvements to our meals and cut back on processed foods and oil. If you are just beginning, meatless chicken patties and prepackaged meals can help make the transition easier. Since I have had time to fall back on that, I want to delve deeper into making our meals to include even more whole foods and less sugar.
Mostly, I just get lazy sometimes and don’t feel like planning ahead. However, I want to help some people in my community who also struggle with meal planning, so I am going to put in the effort and make healthier meals that everyone will eat. I’m pretty sure that this is one of the major stumbling blocks for a lot of people. Once you remove cheese- how do you make quesadillas, grilled cheese, and other easy items? I’m not a fan of soy-based cheeses, so this means being more creative so the recipe doesn’t NEED the cheese. I love this easy, delicious cauliflower alfredo dish for example:
1/2 cup unsweetened and unflavored almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
Fettuccine pasta of choice
Put cauliflower in a large pot and cover with water or steam it until fork tender, around 5-7 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, sauté the minced garlic in oil over low heat for 4-5 minutes until softened and fragrant, but not browned.
In a high speed blender, add the cooked and drained cauliflower, sauteed garlic, milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until really smooth sauce, let it run for a minute or so. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your desired amount of pasta and boil for the time instructed on the package. Drain pasta.
Add cauliflower sauce into the empty pot and add the drained pasta. Heat over low-medium until heated enough to your liking. Salt again to taste.
Serve with fresh minced parsley and black pepper. Add in sautéed peas, spinach, or broccoli if you like.
I draw what I eat (usually), and write some commentary about it and the recipes. However, that makes it really hard to separate the recipes out. So, the plan is to reorganize! In the meantime it is a muddle… I made Mujadara yesterday for the first time. I don’t make as many Middle Eastern recipes. This recipe was simple enough, but it takes a full hour and a half to make. You pre-cook lentils, and then take time to really caramelize the onions, and the rice cooks in that mixture afterwards.
It turned out well- my caveats: probably used the wrong lentils. Ours were green, not brown. I felt like it used a lot of oil. I think I would cut that back from 1/4 cup. That was the only thing that wasn’t very healthy about the dish. I skipped the crispy onion part since I already used 2 onions, which is 2 onions too many for one of the kids.
Lastly, I finally got the vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream after much hype about it. I had visited our local B&J shop at least twice, and they didn’t have it, kept checking Fred Meyers with no luck. Finally, I tried Target since I heard they had it. I hate going to Target because I end up spending too much money buying stuff I don’t need. I made this special trip to buy the ice cream (along with some kid clothes). It was very disappointing to see that they didn’t have it there.
In this case, I decided to ask the stock person (on the advice of another local vegan). He said it was actually in the back. I waited for probably around 15 minutes while he went into some deep freeze area and came back with 4 options. All of them cost $4.99, much more than their dairy counterparts. I got two of them to try out.
This ice cream is made with almond milk, and I really like the coffee caramel fudge one. Maybe it’s elusiveness added extra pleasure. After my daughter tried it she exclaimed, “that’s it, I am going vegan”.
Sorry for the silence lately. There has actually been a lot happening, and much to write about. There have been two big reasons for the silence.
One: I have a lot of work to do! For my design firm I have some great clients and am doing book illustrations, t-shirt designs, logos, a website and more.
Two: I just haven’t been really feeling like I have anyone reading this website.
Except… for my mother. And this post is for her.
My mom probably inspired me the most to be an artist. Since a young age, she has always given me opportunities and encouraged me. She frames my artwork, printed thank you notes that I drew, and enrolled me in art classes. She is a very creative person in her own right in so many ways: knitting, stamping, watercolor, gardening, and cooking.
She has been very supportive of my vegan lifestyle, even if she is not vegan herself. She enjoys trying new foods like tempeh, cashew cheese, and tofu and has given me some great recipes to try. She is queen of the kitchen gadgets and among other items, wanted a Vitamix before it was even on my radar. Now, it is my favorite and most-used kitchen appliance. Recently she got a spiralizer and has been making zoodles (zucchini noodles), and all sorts of interesting things. I am sure it is only a matter of time before I get one. We share recipes- successes and mistakes.
I am fortunate to have a very veg-friendly family in general. Our relatives have been great about making sure we have something to eat at all the gatherings, and choosing restaurants that have veg options too. When I visit my sister, she gets non-dairy milk and plans veg meals. Last Thanksgiving, my family even decided to have a turkey-less meal, which was so incredibly wonderful. I didn’t ask them to do this, but it was so appreciated. My mom substitutes out the chicken broth, and makes us meals.
My mom has always been encouraging of my endeavors, and I know she is my #1 supporter of everything, including this blog. It keeps me motivated to write, when I know people are reading it..
Thank you for being such a great mom, who accepts change, new adventures, and compassion. Love you!! Hope to try even more kitchen appliances and recipes with you for many more years (Instant Pot is next on my list, and cauliflower rice)!
Here is a vegan version of my mom’s delicious General Tso’s cauliflower recipe breaded in panko. It has been approved by my dad and picky kids alike.
I had a great long weekend filled with good friends, food and a lot of wine. I am trying to catch up- but there is my actual work to do as well and catching up with family as well. Here is today’s food diary. I made some favorites: Lunchbox cookies (somehow only made one dozen!!) which lasted only one day, and Vegan shepherd’s pie made with mushrooms. The recipe is in the comments, but you the little video is so well-done and makes this look even easier than it is. It was once again so good that we decided not to bake it and just ate the whipped mashed potatoes with the delicious “gravy” filling on top. All of us had leftover vegan meatloaf from the Engine 2 Diet book.
As I packed the kids lunches today, I reluctantly reached for the box of clear baggies for their sliced apples, another one for their tempeh sandwich. The environment is on my mind a lot, and I read so many articles. I know what is happening (for the most part) in other parts of the world. I strive to make a difference. To me, caring about climate change, clean air, water and food means caring about all animals and people. All our issues over racism, sexism, gun restrictions, and everything is trumped by the fact that if we don’t take care of our beautiful planet, we will all be gone.
Sure, it is just easier to enjoy the moment and hope that the future will work out somehow itself. Due to where I was born and the time I was born, I have enjoyed a good life. However, the really harsh part of the problems even those of us not dealing with poverty right now, is that it may not be us who pay the price, but our children. They will deal with the consequences of us not paying attention right now. In the end, the planet will be okay once it shakes us off, but we sure brought down a lot of beautiful creatures by our way of living too.
Back to the plastic baggies… I know there is an enormous swath of ocean filled with plastic. I know that each of those baggies will be around for hundreds of years, and that wildlife are choking on them. So why would I continue to do this? There is this feeling that it can be overwhelming to try and do everything, but that is not my issue. My problem is sheer laziness. I don’t have enough reusable plastic containers, and I wasn’t good about washing reusable sacs.
My friend told me about his parents who were raised by parents of the depression era in England. His mom would reuse his lunch bag over and over every day, she even washed out his sandwich bag. We all grew up in a time of convenience. It is easier to just grab the styrofoam or paper cup and throw it away than remember to carry a real cup with you.
Individual packaging to make lunches “easier” means we buy apples already sliced and in separate bags or plastic cups. In Portland, Oregon there is so much focus on reduce, reuse, recycle, it is probably one of the easiest places in the world to be “green”. We only have garbage pickup every other week, but compost and recycling every week. So that is a big incentive to make sure that anything that can be composted or recycled will be!
Baggies are thin and don’t take up much weight, so they get discarded. Am I a hypocrite because I take reusable bags to the grocery store but not reusable bags for all the produce I buy there?
We can’t do everything right, but the point of this rambling is, that I had an “aha” moment. I tend to focus on the consumption of animal products as that encompasses so many issues at once: animal cruelty, pollution, deforestation, water, climate change. I don’t understand how people can be aware that this is happening, but don’t stop their actions.
It is because we either need to have a real fear instilled. Like in the depression when there wouldn’t have been enough money to be so wasteful. Or, it has to be incredibly easy and not too expensive. So, when people are deciding what to have for dinner, it is very hard for most to envision what the meal would look like without animal products. I believe if every fast food and grocery store had delicious vegan options at the same price, or less, as the animal versions, people would choose that.
I pledge to go invest in reusable tin containers so that I don’t have to feel that twinge of guilt every day. And then, I will move onto the next small thing. I will never be perfect, we can’t do everything but we can do something. I will make my carbon footprint as light as I can.
Eat less meat 4 all, is now Eat 4 the future! And no, I am not in love with the idea of using numerals in my name—it is just very difficult to get the domain name you want these days.
Why did I change the name? Eat less meat didn’t convey exactly what I wanted it to. Not only does meat not include fish, eggs and dairy, but most people think they are already eating less meat (which is very hard to gauge unless you try giving it up). Also, I am very passionate about the environment and climate change issues, particularly as something we all can help mitigate with our diet choices. This is what affects our children’s future. Finally, another reason to move towards a plant-based future is for health reasons—your own future.
I’m still trying new things out, so thank you to my small group of friends and fellow advocates for any feedback about what you like or don’t like. I’m on twitter, Facebook (pending blocked name change) and starting out on Instagram. It’s a work in progress, as we all are!
My first favorite cookie has been de-throned! I’m in love with this new recipe.
Last night, looking through the internet for a different recipe to try, I was a little shocked by some of the amounts of oil. One recipe asked for 3/4 cup oil. My other recipe uses 1/2 cup coconut oil. I have been hearing mixed reviews on coconut oil lately, more about that later!
What attracted me to Fork’s Over Knives Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies was two things. One, the recipe is by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, vegan cookbook goddess. Second, it uses almond butter and flax seeds to add more protein and Omega oils.
I was getting ready to haul out my trusty mixer but the recipe says, mix with a fork. And doesn’t ask for multiple bowls for wet and dry ingredients. Less cleaning adds even more bonus points.
Here is my own version of this recipe since I was missing a lot of specific ingredients. Like almond butter, oat flour and sorghum flour. Try mine, or go for the original!
What I really love about these cookies is they have texture. I am not into the cakey type cookies, and those flax seeds and oats make these a hearty cookie. Mine were pretty sticky, but otherwise worked great. I couldn’t stop eating the raw cookie dough. Which is one of the biggest perks of making vegan cookies: no raw eggs.
My husband wasn’t a fan of my photo, but he definitely liked the taste. And it passes picky girl’s criteria which is a very, very high certification.
Amy’s Lunchbox Cookies
Makes 24 cookies, ready in 25 minutes
⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
⅓ cup almond butter (I used peanut butter)
½ cup dry sweetener (I used brown sugar)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1⅓ cups oat flour (I ground up oats in Vitamix- I think it is the same thing?)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sorghum flour, or whole wheat pastry flour (flour)
½ cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (dark chocolate chips)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats.
2. In a large bowl, use a strong fork to beat together the applesauce, almond butter, dry sweetener, and flaxseeds. Once relatively smooth, mix in the vanilla.
3. Add in the oat flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well.
4. Add the sorghum flour and chocolate chips and mix well.
5. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets in about 1½-tablespoon scoops, about 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies a bit, so that they resemble thick discs (they won’t spread much at all during baking).
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The longer you bake them, the crispier they will be.
7. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
I don’t have much to say about today’s meals. We are running out of vegetables, so I roasted what we had: small potatoes and sweet potatoes with some olive oil and sea salt for lunch. It was really tasty though! That rounded bread is from Grand Central bakery– Como bread… and I could live on that alone. I take great pride in scrounging together meals when I have basically nothing in the fridge. It is like a “Chopped” cooking challenge when they get those mystery boxes with odd ingredients. I almost had enough coconut milk to make another curry but not quite. Kids had noodles with daiya cheese and mixed veg, along with some Quorn “chicken” nuggets for protein. The Quorn is fungi, not soy-based, and the cheese is potato-based. Sadly Quorn uses egg whites and milk, so they aren’t vegan.
On a completely different note, we have been putting stuff from our garage outside our house with a free sign and it gets carted away within an hour usually. It is amazing. Dusty old BBQ grill with bag of charcoal that got wet- gone. Tall cheap IKEA bookcase- gone. Top of an IKEA chair that could possibly be returned, but that would mean having to go to IKEA- gone! Definitely beats hauling it somewhere or haggling over $10 with some stranger from Craigslist who conveniently forgot that you said CASH ONLY.
If you enjoy this veg blog, I would love to have you join the @eatlessmeat4all Facebook page!
Day two of the food drawings, and nothing makes you more aware of what you are going to eat than knowing you have to draw it. To see it visually represented has impact, and I am working on a way to share the sketches if others want to make their own visual food diary.
I ate a lot today, and much of it was not that easy to draw- rice, quinoa, I will need to work on that! Also a lot of fruit today. My favorite is “apple” bananas. Not sure about their technical name, but I ate so many in Hawaii and love them. Found them at our local Asian grocery… last time we bought tiny bananas there we had a terrible fruit fly infestation! Hoping these won’t have that issue.
I have posted my egg recipe before. Other than that, I didn’t use any recipes today. For lunch, a simple bowl with things I had in the fridge: rice from last night, beans, spinach, salsa and roasted corn. So good! For dinner, we had tacos, which was similar to having a bowl but served in a shell without rice. I added avocado for the kids, and a friend brought us delicious quinoa with vegetables. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, and very healthy.
Today someone commented on the amount of soy we eat (mostly me). I’m going to try to keep that more balanced. I can use rice milk in cereal for example. Almond milk is good, but we don’t buy it often since it is an extremely water-intensive product.
One other note, we have pastel-colored Fiesta ware which is why many of the mugs/plates/bowls look the way they do. Not great for photographing food!
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.