Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Do You Eat?

Being a vegetarian, I get this all the time. But moreso around the holidays that question seems to be a favorite to be asked by those who still have no clue what us veg-heads really truly do eat for dinner.

I mentioned this in a previous post that I volunteer at a local high school and talk to them about vegetarianism and how their meat gets to their table. I love the shock treatment every now and then. And I always tell them, that if they do not believe me, to look it up for themselves. I could not make this stuff up.

The one question that I got asked over and over was what will I be eating on Thanksgiving. Well for me, that is a no-brainer, I have been doing it for years, so I do not even think about it any longer. But for those who may be new to the whole vegetarian thing, just sit back and think about even a traditional Thanksgiving and what is on the table once you remove the dead flesh.

1) Green bean casserole
2) Mashed potatoes
3) Corn, on or off the cob
4) Sweet potatoes
5) Salad
6) Soup
7) Bread
8) Cranberries
9) Corn pudding
10) Pie
11) Ice cream
12) Cakes

So, as you can see, there is no lack of food at my table. And all of these dishes can be vegetized. Change the broth from meat based to veggie based. Use vegan butter over dairy butter. The list goes on. So when someone asks you what you eat at Thanksgiving...tell them, everything!!

Lentil Loaf

I recently had an event at my health food store where I work. We were given organic, free range turkeys to cook up and sample out. I was the designated vegetarian who made all the side dishes, showing people that you did not have to have a slab of dead flesh in the center of your table in order to have good food.

We were given samples of pre-packaged, instant gravy to use for our mashed potatoes. They were, luckily, vegan and gluten free. What I loved was the recipe on the back of one of the packages that was for Lentil Loaf. And I am always trying to perfect a mock meat loaf. Yeah, yeah, yeah, i know I will never completely achieve the same exact flavor, but I will keep on trying. And I have to say, this one is not all that bad. I will tweak it a bit, and it is not as close as our Skinny 'B' recipe, but not bad for being 100% non packaged foods. One for the naturalist in me.

I took the little package home and gave it a whirl. And moreso because I had all thee ingredients. So many nights i am flying by the seat of my pants. And luckily for us we do not need to thaw out any meat. And for the most part I have beans cooked in bulk and in the freezer. So for me to throw some frozen cooked beans in a pot of hot water while I get dinner ready is nothing. Shazam, we have dinner on the table. So let's get this recipe up and see how it rolls.

1 onion, diced
2T water
2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1 cup ground rolled oats
1 cup cooked barley or brown rice
1/2 cup pureed tomatoes
1/2 t each, garlic powder, rosemary, and basil
2T soy sauce
Cook onion with water for about 5 minutes in a saucepan until onion is tender. Combine cooked onions and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pat mixture into an oiled loaf pan. Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes. Serve with gravy and enjoy.

I found this a tad bland, but could be easily remedied by adding a bit more spice. And, I could taste the walnuts, don't know how to fix that one, but I will get it. This held together quite well and would make this again without evening thinking about it. try it, you will like it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apple Crisp

This dish is a variation on a theme...thee apple pie. So many folks will but an apple but and I will give you that some of them may even be taste worthy, but nothing, and I mean nothing, can stand up to a homemade apple pie(or anything homemade for that matter).

But there are many a people who break out into a cold sweat at the thought of making a pie crust from scratch. And I will be the first to admit, that making them is not my forte. With that said, in walks the apple crisp family. there are so many different ways to do this one, that an entire book could most more than likely be written on this dish alone. however, you have not made the version made by Vegan in Louisiana for if you had, you would have flooded her blog or mine with many thanks.

I will be making this more often, that is for sure. It is quick and easy and oh such a comfort food. My first time making this of course was here at home, then I will be making it at a huge event at my job(Nutrition S'Mart) for Customer Appreciation Day. they will be making 2 organic turkeys, and I get to make all the side dishes. It is my hope, to show folks that you do not have to consume animal flesh in order to eat at 'any' holiday and you can still have a full plate with dishes that are traditional and meat free. And most folks have no clue you are feeding them vegan food until you mention it. that is why I do not say one word until they have eaten the dishes and then I pop the surprise on them. And then it hits them, that a vegetarian diet is do-able, you just have to think a bit more originally.

So on to this lovely dish.

8 cups of cored, peeled apples (about 10 apples)
1 cup raw sugar
1&1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1&1/4 cup quick oats
1 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Core and peel thee apples
  • Cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • Mix apples and raw sugar together and spread evenly into a 9x12 baking dish
  • Add the butter to the flour
  • Mix together with hands until well blended, it needs to be crumbly
  • Add the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt
  • Mix together with hands until all ingredients are well blended, this too will be crumbly
  • Sprinkle the topping over the apple mixture, it does not have to be pretty
  • Bake at 375 for 45 minutes
  • Cool on rack for 20 minutes

I cut this recipe in half for my first time making it at home. B-I-G mistake. I may never make an apple pie again. this is so comfy and cozy, and you can even add a scoop of your favorite ice cream alternative and have at it. Take that to all you who think vegan food is just sticks and cardboard. Neener neener, I have a great dessert and don't have to share!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Raw Brownie

I found this like I always do, when I am looking for a new dish to teach at my raw food class where I work. I have had this saved for quite a while, but never got around to using it, but I finally got my butt moving and made it. So glad I did.

Do not think all warm and fuzzy with this, for you will not get it. what you will get is something so close you will be able to fool others.

1 cup ground pecans
1 cup chopped dates (not soaked)
1/4-1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1 t agave nectar or honey if you prefer
Process the pecans and cacao powder together in a food processor. In a separate bowl add chopped dates and agave/honey. I prefer to chop my dates by hand. As messy and time consuming as this is, it is my preference. Most everything else is fine in the processor, but I like to chop dates by hand. Just my thing.

Add your pecans to the bowl with your dates and agave/honey. This is your your bicep workout comes into play. You are going to have to work this allot. Did I mention allot? Once you get all thee ingredients worked together really well, then mash them into your glass baking pan. I pressed it down with my knuckles when I balled up my fist. But if you have anything with a flat bottom, then use it to smooth out the top of the brownies. It gives it a nice look and a bit more presentable, other than seeing knuckle imprints on the top of your brownie mold.

I suggest putting it in the fridge for about an hour. Just so it sets up. These are joyful and cut quite nicely. I may be having to add these to my holiday table. Yay to raw food.

Raw Cranberry Salad

Well, it is getting to be that time of year again...the dreaded holidays. I have to admit, that I still enter them with a bit of trepidation, but only because we have been so ingrained to believe that any meal, and especially Thanksgiving cannot continue without a slab of dead flesh. I am here to prove those folks wrong.

I recently volunteered at a local high school and talked to them about vegetarianism and told them some startling numbers about meat-eaters and cancer. I also told them their parents would say that I was a whack job. But that they did not have to believe me, do the research. And that is my new motto now. If you don't believe me, go see for yourself. For most of these numbers are form our own AMA or ACA, so I don't need to make this stuff up.

So as I was talking to these kids, the one big question was,'What 'DO' you eat?', and my tried and true answer was,'Everything you don't.', which always gets them thinking. For like many people out there, most folks do not have a varied diet, and if they would make a food diary, they would see that. So, I used Thanksgiving as an example. I asked them to think about the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving portrait, but they all looked at me like I was Medusa, meaning that not one student knew who Normal Rockwell was...Google him.

With that said, I told them to envision a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but, we were going to take away the turkey. Now, tell me what is left on the table. Well these little dynamos were able to rattle off names of food in a matter of seconds a minimum of a half a dozen dishes that were meat free and that all of those dishes could not possibly fit on my plate all at once, so, 'I' was going to have to go back for seconds, possibly thirds, and that was only because I stopped them from naming 'side dishes'. I showed them that their side dishes became my main dishes. And then it hit them that anyone, not just me, could easily survive at Thanksgiving and never eat a dead animal. Eureka!!

Now, on to this brilliant dish that one of my bosses gave me. We will be using this at my job for our upcoming Customer Appreciation Day where we will be serving organic turkeys and a plethora of side dishes that yours truly will be making. So any and all side dishes will be vegetarian if nothing else. And this little gem is for the raw foodists out there. This is to die for and it will most definitely be on my Thanksgiving table for sure.

1 container of cranberries (8-16 ounces)(frozen is all right if fresh is not available)
2 navel oranges, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 red delicious apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
Raw honey or agave to taste (start with 1 tablespoon and work your way up)
Make sure you have washed all fruits and dump them into your food processor. If your honey is hardened, then you can easily melt it in a double broiler type set up as not to bring above 118 degrees. Once your sweetener is ready, add to processor and hit your pulse button...if you have one. If you do not, then do not turn on your processor and walk away, you want this salad to have some consistency, but small enough that is not quite minced, but pretty darned close.

Play with the size of chunks you are willing to eat and let it be done. This is better if done the day before, for the sugar will draw out some of the water and make it a bit soupier. I may never cook a cranberry ever again.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Raw Taco

I recently had the pleasure of attending a vegetarian festival in Orlando Florida. The Orlando Veg-Fest is a mecca of vegetarians who are there to have a good time and of course eat til your hearts content. I also was able to ride over there with some really good friends and meet another friend there. with that said, me and Hank went about trying to eat every food available. We nearly succeeded. We decided to split all the dishes. So one of us would purchase the first dish and the other one would purchase the second dish until we were full.

However, we ran out of time before we ran out of money or empty stomachs. Hank had a bicycle race to get to, so he had to cut out a bit earlier than he truly wanted. Bummer, for I had more food to taste.

The first dish that graced our palettes was a raw taco. Now I am extremely open to new foods and new ways of preparing them. But I am also a bit skeptical when something claims to be so close to its traditional dish. But I was up for it. The taco was purchased, split with Hank and instantly regretted that action. Oh, not the eating of the taco, the sharing of it with Hank. Next year he is own his own, i ma in never sharing a raw taco with anyone, ever again.

I then knew that I wanted to make these delicious little roll-ups, so I asked one of the girls behind the food counter if I could have the recipe for I taught raw food classes back in Port Saint Lucie. She gladly gave me her email address and said that I could email her and she would be happy to give it to me. I got home and set the card aside running into a busy week. I kept saying I would email her, but I just kept putting it off.

Then I was looking through one of the little magazines that I get at my place of work, Delicious Living and saw raw food on the front cover. Then it hit me, I had seen a raw taco recipe in there. I could not flip to that page fast enough. I had no idea what was in the taco I had tasted at the festival, but I know that this recipe had to be a variation on a theme. I was willing to give it a go.

This is a dish I have not regretted form the get go. I was in pure heaven as I ate these again. I was transported back to the festival and also elated that I could now make these on my own and still feel confident serving these to guests. Now most folks would have a hard time seeing these as a main entree, but we were very happy eating them as such.

So enough with my babbling, let me post this lovely little recipe and see how simple it is to make and even easier to eat.

Cilantro-Cashew Cheeze(makes 1 cup)
1&1/2 t garlic (about 2 cloves)
1/2 t sea salt
1 cup raw cashews
2&1/2 T fresh lemon juice (1 lemon)
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup filtered water
Ground Walnut Meat (makes 1 cup)
1 cup raw walnuts
1&1/2 t ground cumin
1&1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t liquid aminos, tamari or soy sauce
Pinch of salt to taste
to make cheeze: Place garlic and salt in a food processor; process into small pieces. Add cashews and process into a paste. Add lemon juice, cilantro, and water; process to mix well. Set Aside.

To make walnut meat: Place walnuts, cumin, coriander, liquid aminos, and salt in a food processor. Process into small pieces until the mixture looks like ground meat; be careful not to over process into a butter.

Spread 2 tablespoons cheeze down the inside spine of each romaine leaf. Sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons walnut meat. Add salsa and avocado slices. Wrap and serve.

I could eat this fro breakfast...oh yeah, being a raw foodist means there are no meal boundaries. Eat what you want...when you want and enjoy always!!!