Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Supper(s)

As I type, there are only four more hours left in 2009, which means I'm just a day away from kicking off my 26-day Adventure Cleanse Tune-up (ACT). It's a no sugar, no alcohol, no gluten, no caffeine, raw til dinnertime cleanse (I'll give ya'll all the details in my next post) from the Crazy Sexy Life website.

Until then, I'm enjoying the last un-ACT friendly meals I can. This week, I tweaked my recipe for Creamy Tofu "Chicken" & Pasta Casserole:

This is another recipe for my cookbook, and it certainly doesn't look as appetizing here as it really is. The tofu is marinated overnight in my vegan chicken marinade, and that makes the whole dish taste like it's laced with a creamy chicken sauce. It also contains my homemade cream of mushroom soup, tomatoes, bell pepper, celery, and other yummies. True comfort food.

On the side, I enjoyed some Steamed Cauliflower with Bacon Salt and Creamy Cheddar Teese Sauce:

I can't have processed foods on the cleanse, so this is my last taste of Teese for the next 26 days. Boo! And if ya'll haven't heard about bacon salt, I'd suggest you look for it at your local grocer. I found mine at Kroger, and it makes everything taste like bacon. But it's vegan (at least, the hickory flavor is)!

I also made the Tamarind Tofu Cabbage Bowl from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook recently:

So, so good! Fried tofu, cabbage, and brown rice are mixed with tangy-sweet homemade tamarind reduction. It's the first dish I've made from Lauren Ulm's amazing full-color book. My awesome friend Lindsay bought it for me for my birthday, but I've been so busy reviewing books that I haven't made anything from it until now. And the dish is ALMOST cleanse-friendly. The only thing holding it back is the sugar in the tamarind sauce. Oh well ... I can make it again in February.

On a non-food note, some of ya'll asked to see the punk rock prom dress my BFF Sheridan made me for Xmas. Here ya go:

Cute, huh? She found this old dress in a thrift store and laced it up the back with purple ribbon (can't see that in the picture, but it looks great ... like a corset). And she added the big purple bow for fun.

Happy New Year, ya'll! I'm off to hear my favorite aristo-crunk rappers Lord T & Eloise and watch the guitar drop on Beale Street!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dairy-Free Pizza!

I've been a cookbook reviewin' fool lately, so it's no wonder that I just now got time to make something from my awesome review copy of Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming. She graciously sent me her book (along with a copy of My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky) last month, but it's so full of wonderful information that I've just now gotten to the recipe portion.

As my first taste from Go Dairy Free, I chose to make the Thai Chick-Un Pizza:

Now, this may sound familiar to ya'll fans of Dreena Burton. The recipe was adapted from her book, Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan. That's the lovely thing about Alisa's book — it's a combo of original and adapted dairy-free recipes from popular cookbooks. Since I still don't own Burton's book (I know, bad vegan!), I was so excited to see this recipe. I've heard plenty of raves about it, and all the praise was spot on.

This hearty, exotic pizza features a spicy peanut sauce in lieu of traditional tomato sauce. Smushed garbanzos, red bell pepper, pineapple chunks, green onion, and mung bean sprouts (that I sprouted myself!) top the rich sauce. And of course, I liberally applied a dose of sriracha on top of all that.

The Thai Chick-Un Pizza is just one of many delicious dairy-free recipes in Alisa's book. Besides delicious entrees, Alisa includes recipes for sweetened condensed "milk," sliceable Swiss-style cheese, and homemade coconut butter. And she includes a wealth of information on the reasons and health benefits of going dairy-free.

Her book is so worth checking out! Even though, I started with an entree, I can see this book becoming a resource for information on how to make my own vegan cheese and milk substitutes. Even non-vegan lactose-intolerant folks would gain loads of info from Alisa's book.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Utopia Granola

Time for a post I've been sitting on for awhile! You see, a few weeks ago the Farm's Book Publishing Company sent me a bundle of dessert books to review. One of those was Sweet Utopia by Sharon Valencik, a beautiful full-color tome of mouth-watering dessert recipes. I immediately decided on making the Utopia Granola as Xmas gifts for all my friends. So of course, I couldn't post about how delicious this stuff was until all the gifts were handed out.

I made a couple of variations — Cranberry Pecan Utopia Granola:

And Coconut Almond Utopia Granola (with raisins):

Valencik's granola recipe provides a list of base ingredients (like oats and sugar, of course) and suggests quite a few add-ins, like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I love pick-and-choose recipes like this! In a weird way, the freedom to choose my granola add-ins reminds of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80s (anyone remember those?). Your choice influences the final outcome.

And lemme tell ya, the final outcome for both of these granolas was scrumptious. I made two giant batches and bagged them up into nine cute holiday treat bags. The friends who received granola were pretty excited, and all attested that it was delicious. Of course, I also saved a bit for myself, and I believe this is way better than any storebought granola I've tried. It was absolutely delectable topped with a little unsweetened soymilk for breakfast.

So far, I've only tried this recipe, but the gorgeous full-color photos of EVERY dessert have me craving more. Next on the list: Sticky Toffee Pudding (see Voracious Vegan's post for tasty-lookin' pics), Coconut-Almond Cheesecake Pie, Carrot Cake Cookies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, and Chocolate Sausage (I know that sounds weird, but it's just a cute name for something that doesn't involve any real or faux sausage ... just raisins, rum, chocolate, nuts, and graham crackers).

I'm not sure I'll be making any more sweets until February though. I'm starting the Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up on January 1st (details to come). So no sugar for almost a month ... but after that, it's on.

Oh, and some of ya'll requested that I post pictures of the punk rock prom dress that my best friend Sheridan made me for Xmas. I have one picture, but my eyes are closed. However, I know Sheridan took one too, so I'll post hers when she sends it to me. Promise.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Xmas Recap

There are few things I love more than food and presents, so as you can imagine, Xmas is one of my favorite holidays. I don't really get into the religious aspect of the day. I'm far more interested in stuffing my face with my family ... and of course, opening and giving gifts.

On Xmas Eve, my parents, my boyfriend, and I had dinner at Chili's in my Arkansas hometown, where I enjoyed some scrumptious veggie fajitas with corn tortillas (their flour tortillas are not vegan, fyi). Then we went back to my parents' house and opened gifts. I got an Excalibur food dehydrator (expect lots of raw goodness soon!), a new Nikon zoom lens for my D60, lots of clothes from Delia's, a Vegetarian Times cookbook, a set of pots and pans, and some more fun stuff.

I gave my mom this hula hoop, created by local hula hoop gang the Hooper Troopers. My mom is a hula hoop champion ... just look:

After presents, my best friend Sheridan came over to exchange gifts with me. She made me a punk rock prom dress (for fun dress-up time!) and gave me Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa and Terry. So of course, we immediately baked up some Peanut Butter Blondies from the book:

And then we stuffed our faces. Here's Sheridan:

These blondies were so super peanut buttery and chewy. Perfect! I can't wait to get this blondie in my mouth:

On Xmas morning, we woke up early for our annual Xmas breakfast at Granny's house. In case you haven't heard, I have one awesome granny. She's totally embraced my veganism, and she's helping create delicious desserts for my cookbook. She even keeps vegan margarine and soymilk on hand at all times. Here's Granny with my Pa:

While everyone else noshed on eggs, ham, and non-vegan biscuits and gravy, I enjoyed my own vegan breakfast plate (most of which my mom cooked up the night before so I'd have something to easily re-heat):

There's a tofu scramble, Gimme Lean Lightlife sausage, and biscuits and gravy (made with evil, but tasty white flour ... hey, it's Xmas, I can have white flour if I want). Also, Granny made some tasty hash browns that made it to my plate a little later.

I had a great Xmas. I hope ya'll did too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Xmas!

I hope ya'll have a very merry Xmas! I won't be posting again until Sunday night since I'll be doing holiday stuff (yea! presents!) with my parents in Arkansas and my boyfriend's parents in middle Tennessee. But I will leave ya'll with this cute-ass Xmas cupcake that I made for an early family holiday party last weekend:

Aren't those toppers just the cutest things you've ever seen?! I love how they're bucks with doe spots! I ordered them from Sweet Estelle's Baking Supply on She has an array of kitschy-cute toppers. The cupcake is chocolate-mint with vanilla buttercream, a variation on the classic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Fixed My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies

I have a love affair with peanut butter. Chunky, creamy, white chocolate, or maple-flavored — it's all equally magical in my eyes (or well, mouth). I could eat jars at a time, but I know better. A little good fat is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can be bad. That's why I love Fran Costigan's recipe for "I Fixed My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies" (yes, that's the actual name) from More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally:

I must admit that I was first drawn to the recipe's name. Any time a recipe title includes a verb, adjective, and noun, that's a beautiful thing. But after reading Costigan's ingredient list, I knew these may become my new favorite peanut butter cookies.

Why? Because they're actually pretty healthy! Costigan's book features recipes made with whole wheat pastry flour, natural sweeteners, and as little oil as possible. Most peanut butter cookies are loaded with margarine, but Costigan reasons that PB already contains plenty of good fat to make a soft and chewy cookie. Why add more? The entire recipe only calls for three tablespoons of canola oil and a half-cup of creamy peanut butter. Dispersed between all the cookies, that's certainly not enough good fat to become a bad thing.

The result was a melt-in-your-mouth, salty-sweet peanut butter cookie that would rival any non-vegan version I loved when I was a kid. I brought a batch to work today and they were all gobbled up before noon.

Costigan's book is yet another amazing title from the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee. Though this is the first recipe I've tried, I have many more on my to-make-soon list — Carob German Not Chocolate Cake, Honey-Free Better Baklava, Peanut Butter Mousse in Chocolate Candy Cups, and so much more. Stay tuned. And check out the book.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Egg McGuffins ... and Solstice with the Pets!

I know this is horrible, but I used to love going through the McDonald's drive-thru in my pre-vegan days to order egg & cheese biscuits and McMuffins. I thought, since I was leaving off the meat, that it must be better for me. That was before I read Fast Food Nation, mind you. These days, the thought of anything from McDonald's makes me shudder. But these Egg McGuffins from Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia Simpson surely didn't make me shudder this solstice morning:

The "egg" part is made from silk tofu, nooch, and turmeric. And of course, I added a little black salt (not in the recipe) for effect. The "egg" cooking technique is similar to that of the tofu omelet in Vegan Brunch. The "sausage" is Gimme Lean, and the super-melty cheeze is Tofutti American cheese. The English muffin is a whole wheat version from Whole Foods. Perfect way to begin my Winter Solstice morning.

Since my dog Datsun opens presents with his grandparents on Xmas Day, we do presents at home on Solstice. He got a big ole (very non-vegan) rawhide bone and a new pillow bed:

I hate giving him those icky rawhide bones, but I swear, nothing in the world makes him happier. Just look at those crazy eyes! Anyone know of a decent vegan faux rawhide dog bone? I'd gladly order him some if I could find them.

As for the cats, all six of them went crazy for their new catnip snakes. Just look at Pandora:

And Gelfling got pissed when he couldn't decide between the new swatter toy or the catnip snake. Look at that crazy face. Roar!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Vegan Care Package! And a Winner!

Sorry for not posting this over the weekend, but we have a winner in the Kenzoil giveaway. I used a random number generator and it chose #60. That was Tiffany C. of Bread Without Butter! Enjoy your Kenzoil, Tiffany!

In other news, I was recently the lucky receiver of this amazing vegan care package from Sarah of See Sarah Eat:

We both signed up for a package exchange on the Cooking for a Vegan Lover blog, and we were paired up as swap partners. And man, I'm glad it worked out that way. Look at all this yumminess!

There's peppermints, Dr. McDougall's lentil and vegetable soups, almonds, the new peanut butter and jelly and tropical fruit tart Larabars, Crunch Time peanut butter, pumpkin butter (locally-made from Kentucky, where Sarah lives), lots of tea, some hand soap, Larabar stickers, and note pads.

I'm most excited to try the Crunch Time peanut butter by Peanut Butter and Co. I've tried most all their flavors (except Bee's Knees, of course), but I've never seen this one in any store around here. It's supposed to be super-chunky, and I adore chunky PB.

I'm also psyched about the Dr. McDougall soups. Sarah eats them often and posts about them on her blog.

Thanks Sarah! And to everyone else, happy Winter Solstice!!! Enjoy the longest night of the year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comfort Casserole

I used to LOVE broccoli, rice, and cheese casserole — a potluck standard in the South (and probably everywhere in the U.S.). My mom made an awesome version using cream of mushroom soup mixed with rice, broccoli, and cheddar. I knew I must include a vegan version of this in my cookbook, so a while back, I developed this Broccoli, Rice, & Cheeze Casserole:

I made it again this week to test the recipe, but this is an old picture. I couldn't get a good shot this time, so I'm recycling this old one. I include my own recipe for vegan cream of mushroom soup in the cookbook since I don't know of a vegan version sold in stores. It works well in this recipe and several others in my book or it makes for a delicious creamy soup on its own.

On the side, I made the Italian Tofu from the Veganomicon:

Tofu is marinated in a simple concoction of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and herbs and then it's baked for about 30 minutes. I actually marinated mine for two days because I ended up joining some friends for dinner on the night I'd planned to prepare it.

Atop the tofu is a bit of local Tomato Marmalade:

I purchased a jar from the Dodson Farms booth at the special one-day winter farmer's market downtown a few weeks ago. Made from tomatoes, sugar, basil, and other spices, it's a wonderful way to enjoy fresh summer tomatoes in late fall/early winter.

A couple of announcements:
* Don't forget to enter the Kenzoil giveaway on Tuesday's post! Contest ends Friday (12/18) at 10 a.m. CST.

* The awesome Gena of Choosing Raw is co-hosting an anti-fad cleanse in January. The Spark! Wellness and Choosing Raw cleanse offers three reasonable (and nourishing) ten-day dietary programs to help instill improved eating habits in 2010. For more info and the lowdown on signing up, check it out here.

Pre-Solstice Eats

Winter Solstice doesn't happen until December 21st, but some friends and I celebrated the solstice a little early with a Yule potluck at Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church last Saturday. We grubbed on hearty winter foods, and some folks acted out the mythical battle between the Oak King and the Holly King.

It wasn't a vegan potluck. In fact, I was the only vegan there, but there were a couple of vegetarians. To ensure I had plenty to eat, I brought an entree and dessert. On the savory side, I brought this Crock Pot filled with my Chipotle Chickpea Chili:

The recipe is going in my cookbook. It's a smoky, hearty chili with chickpeas, kidney beans, and cubes of tofu. Oh, and mushrooms ... because every batch of chili needs mushrooms. Sorry for the crappy, steamy washed-out photo!

For dessert, I brought this Coconut Icebox Cake:

Another cookbook recipe, this cake features two layers of yellow vegan cake topped with a sweet sour cream/coconut frosting. I'm still working on perfecting the cake recipe, but it's getting better. My Granny makes this cake with a yellow cake mix, but I'm trying to develop a perfect vegan yellow cake that mimics the fluffiness of a boxed cake.

If you haven't already signed up for the Kenzoil giveaway, head over to yesterday's post and do it now. The contest is open until 10 a.m. CST.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Portrait and a Giveaway!

Remember Sunday night's post about Kenzoil, the awesome garlicky-basil salad dressing/dip/marinade made from cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil? Well, the makers of Kenzoil want to give one yummy bottle to a random commenter.

If you want to be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment at the bottom of this post about what you'd do with Kenzoil if ya had some. On Friday morning (around 10 a.m. CST), I'll use a random number generator to pick a lucky winner. Be sure and leave me a way to contact you (like an e-mail address) if your identity isn't linked another blog. Oh, and the contest is only open to U.S. residents, due to shipping costs.

Besides this exciting giveaway, I also want to share my new portrait with you guys. Here I am at Deja Vu Creole Vegetarian Restaurant in Memphis (936 S. Florida St., if you're ever in town), about to chow down on some BBQ tofu, collard greens, and vegan candied yams:

The photo was taken by Amie Vanderford, an awesome photographer who is currently aiming to shoot 365 Memphians (one a day) for one whole year. In the end, she'll compile the photos into a book.

Amie said she sought out "cool people" in an attempt to show folks that if 365 cool Memphians exist, then Memphis must be a cool place. I didn't know Amie before the shoot, but one of her other subjects recommended me. I'm honored to be considered cool enough for Amie's project, and I'm super-happy to have this fun photo of me in my natural state — about to cram food in my mouth. She asked me to choose my favorite spot in Memphis, so of course I chose a restaurant that serves vegan soul food.

Here's a link to Amie's website if you want to see her other gorgeous photos!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kenzoil: A Product Review

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the makers of Kenzoil, a salad dressing/dip/marinade made from cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and fresh garlic, about reviewing their product. The bottle arrived last week and I've been putting it on EVERYTHING ever since.

I have to admit, I did think the name was a little strange at first. It sounds more like something you'd put in your car than on your salad. But after reading a little history on the product's website, I learned that Kenzoil was created by a guy named Ken from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was looking to create a salad dressing with no sugar or vinegar for a food combining diet he was following. The result was "Ken's Oil," later changed to Kenzoil. The oil was a hit with Ken's friends and eventually at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. Now it's a hit with me too!

When I first tasted the oil, I immediately thought it'd make a great bread-dipping oil. It's super-garlicky, which was the perfect accent for this slice of whole wheat beer bread:

And it was delicious tossed with some cubed red potatoes and baked at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes:

But my favorite use of Kenzoil was mixed with balsamic vinegar and tossed with a side salad:

The Kenzoil took my ordinary side salad — romaine, carrots, red bell pepper, and vegan bacon bits — up so many notches.

Right now, Kenzoil is only available in Whole Foods stores in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska. But thankfully, the product is also available by mail order through Kenzoil's website.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Sweet Holiday Cupcake

A few weeks ago, the publisher of My Sweet Vegan contacted me about reviewing Hannah Kaminsky's much sought-after vegan dessert cookbook. Of course I said hell yes! I've been drooling over Hannah's luscious-looking desserts on other people's blogs for way too long.

But drool no more (well, actually I guess I'm drooling even more now that the book is in my possession). It's filled with mouth-watering full-color photos of cakes, pies, tarts, scones, and cookies. She even has a recipe for Matzoh Toffee, which the lovely Stephanie of Poopie Bitch made me for Xmas last year. So, so delicious. It made me sad that I didn't grow up in a Jewish household, eating that stuff all my life!

For my first My Sweet Vegan creation, I decided on the Not Nog Cupcakes — a perfect holiday cake and a wonderful excuse to splurge on a carton of Silk Nog:

I also got a chance to use the vintage holly berry cupcake toppers I ordered from Estelle's Sweet Baking Supply on

As for the cakes, they are absolutely delicious! Unfortunately, I overfilled about half of the cupcake liners, so several spilled over. And that caused the tops to rip off a couple. But that was no fault of the recipe ... just my silly baking blunder. The cake batter was thicker than what I'm used to and I didn't realize I was over-filling. Oops!

The glaze — a mixture of brown sugar, corn syrup, and dark rum – added a delicious hearty sweetness. I subbed a mixture of evaporated cane juice and water for the corn syrup, a substitution recommendation I found here on the Taste of Home website. I'm not a big fan of conventional corn syrup and that's all that is available in the stores near my house. I didn't have time to make the 20-minute drive to Whole Foods for an organic syrup. But the substitution seemed to work just fine.

There are loads more recipes I'd like to make from My Sweet Vegan, so stay tuned. And I just received another bundle of vegan cookbooks — all dessert cookbooks — from the Farm's Book Publishing Company to review. Plus, I'm still fleshing out the dessert section for my cookbook. Needless to say, you'll likely see more sweet treats on my blog this December!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's a Wrap!

So it's like 20-something degrees here in Memphis. That's soup or casserole weather in these parts, but for some reason, I've been craving tofu egg salad ever since the mercury started to drop. Weird, I know. But I enjoyed every bite of this Eggless Egg Salad Wrap today, despite the frigid temperatures:

This recipe is also going in my cookbook. It was originally a Seitan "Chicken" Salad, but I wasn't feeling the seitan in the same way that I was feeling tofu in cold salad sandwich spread. So I subbed out firm tofu, keeping the rest of the ingredients the same as they were when I developed the recipe with seitan ... oh, I did add one secret optional ingredient.

I served the salad on a Flatout Flatbread in Light Original. These are totally new to me, but I'm so in love with them. They're like really soft, whole wheat tortillas! And each wrap is only 90 calories.

I enjoyed the wrap with a snack-sized bag of Zapp's Hotter 'n' Hot Jalapeno chips (the official chip of New Orleans) that I picked up in New Orleans in October. Yep, I totally stocked up on all flavors of Zapp's in NOLA, even though I can buy them in Memphis too. I feel like they taste more authentic having come directly from New Orleans.

UPDATE: One of my commenters, Shannon, pointed out that Flatout wraps contain L-cysteine, which is derived from animal proteins. Suck! I didn't even know about that ingredient not being vegan. But I double-checked on my Food Additives iPhone app, and it says L-cysteine is a flour treatment agent derived from animal proteins (including hair). I'll probably finish the ones I purchased because I don't like to waste food, but I will certainly not be buying them again. Damn.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Healthy-ish Biscuits 'n' Gravy

Classic Southern-style biscuits and gravy isn't supposed to be good for you. But while my version isn't exactly health food, it's way better for you than something you'd be served in a typical diner down here. Here's my Whole Wheat Butter-Soymilk Biscuits with Sausage-Sage Gravy:

The biscuits (and the gravy recipe) are going in my cookbook. I've been perfecting these biscuits for quite some time, and I think I've finally mastered a fluffy whole wheat biscuit. Of course, they do contain a little soy margarine and non-hydrogenated veggie shortening, because you can't make fluffy, soft biscuits without those things. But at least I'm using the trans fat-free stuff.

As for the sausage-sage gravy, you'd never believe it's actually low-fat! Most gravies contain a mixture of fat, flour, and liquid (like milk or broth). But my gravy has no oil, grease, or butter. The only fat comes from a small amount present in the soymilk and vegan sausage. I use Gimme Lean (it's extremely low in fat and calories), which is mighty tasty mixed with gravy and served atop a split whole wheat biscuit for breakfast!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nuts for Pasta!

Last night, I tried another delicious recipe from the Nut Gourmet by Zel Allen — Almond, Mushroom, and Spinach Over Pasta with Savory Cashew Cream Sauce:

It's whole wheat penne pasta topped with a creamy cashew "cheeze" sauce, sauteed spinach, almond pieces, mushrooms, carrots, and diced red bell pepper. Delicious! I love this sort of pasta dish that includes all my food groups in one plate!

Zel Allen's Nut Gourmet book (published by the Book Publishing Company in Summertown, Tennessee) is really awesome. Though I am calorie-conscious, I know that nuts contain good fats and are super-healthy in moderation. Her book includes tons of delicious and nutty dinner, breakfast, special occasion, and dessert recipes.

Allen also goes over the health benefits of individual nuts — like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts — in the book's intro. And she provides tips for cracking, blanching, and sprouting. The book is really worth checking out for loads of delicious recipes made with a great alternative protein source.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Soup and Salad

There are few lunches more satisfying than the classic soup 'n' salad combo. It's light, healthy, and yet still manages to soothe the soul in the same way that much more fattening comfort food does.

Today was chilly, but this Spicy Pumpkin Soup from Vegan Comfort Food warmed me up:

This spicy-sweet soup only contains a few ingredients, yet its flavor is pretty complex. Pumpkin puree meets coconut milk, red chili flakes, and agave. Yum!

Between warm bites of soup, I crunched on this Caesar Salad from Vegan Comfort Food:

It's also pretty simple — a homemade vegan Caesar dressing, romaine lettuce, vegan Parmesan, and whole wheat croutons. The dressing — made from a base of olive oil, Vegenaise, capers, and some other stuff — is a spot-on recreation of the classic Caesar dressing.

As for the croutons, I subbed whole wheat bread for the sourdough bread called for in the recipe because I try to avoid the white stuff at all costs.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Raw Food Thursday!

I typically do my monthly all-day raw food cleanse on the first Tuesday of every month, but I had plans to eat dinner at a delicious vegan-friendly soul food restaurant that day. So I pushed my mini-detox back a few days.

I welcomed my raw day with this most delicious Coconut Almond Butter Smoothie:

Raw almond butter, a frozen banana, shredded coconut, flax seed, and water combined to make a super-creamy, coconut-ty breakfast drink. I love fruity smoothies, but I think I like the nutty, creamy ones even better.

Before lunch, I snacked on a crisp red pear and a few of these Cashew Cinnamon Bun Babies:

The recipe came from the lovely Chocolate-Covered Vegan (a.k.a. CCV). It's one of several in her line of fudge baby balls, a delicious homemade take on the classic Larabar. I used her recipe for Cashew Cookie Larabar Babies and added cinnamon for cinnamon bun-like taste. I only allowed myself three of these all day since each ball was about 100 calories, but I could have eaten the entire batch in one sitting.

Lunch was a Deconstructed Salad with Carrot-Miso Dressing:

The dressing recipe came from Gena's Choosing Raw blog. It's almost oil-free (with just a teensy drop of sesame oil), so I ate a ton of it. Instead of pouring it over my veggies, I used the dressing for dipping romaine leaves, red bell pepper, cucumber, celery, and cauliflower.

My mid-afternoon snack was the highlight of my day — a square of raw chocolate!

And this wasn't just any raw chocolate. I made this stuff using a Nativas Naturals Organic Superfood Chocolate Kit! They sell these kits for $10 at Whole Foods and each contains a block of solid cacao butter, a packet of organic cacao powder, and an add-in (either cacao nibs, goji berries, or golden berries). I purchased the "cacao nib" kit (those little dark spots in the chocolates pictured above are the nibs). It's so easy to make, and the chocolates are melt-in-your-mouth amazing. But it is super-dark chocolate (80% cacao!), so it's not for the faint of heart.

I snacked on an orange and some more cashew cookie babies before hitting the gym. Dinner was a satisfying bowl of Raw "Peanut" Noodles:

Another Gena recipe from Choosing Raw (her stuff is always so amazing!). This dish doesn't actually contain peanuts (since they're not raw), but it tastes just like peanut noodles. Granted, I added a couple tablespoons of raw almond butter to Gena's recipe, even though it wasn't called for in the recipe. That may have added to the nutty taste.

I also cut the oil down from one cup to a 1/4 cup and subbed water for the rest. The sauce was incorporated into "noodles" made from zucchini, carrots, red bell pepper, and cucumber. And I topped it with a little crushed red pepper flakes to add some spice!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Burger 'n' Rings

Though I'd like people to believe I cook everything from scratch, I actually enjoy a frozen veggie burger every once in awhile. I love Boca's vegan patty and they're cheaper than other brands like fancy Amy's brand burgers or Gardenburger. But a plain Boca is, well, kinda plain. So I like to jazz 'em up, and I always welcome new ideas.

That was the case with this Teriyaki Burger from Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia Simpson:

Though Simpson's book features plenty of from-scratch dishes, she also includes a few ideas for dressin' up a plain-jane veggie burger. The teriyaki burger featured a homemade teriyaki sauce (so yea, I did make that from scratch ... the recipe is included in Alicia's book) and grilled pineapple rings. I served it on a whole wheat bun. The burger was delicious, and I'd certainly never think to include pineapple on my burger without Alicia's suggestion.

On the side, I wanted to make the homemade onion rings from Simpson's book. But I couldn't bring myself to deep fry them as the recipe called for. Normally, I'm all about the deep fryer, but Thanksgiving just happened ... so I needed a junk food break.

Instead, I opted to use the instructions for baked Onion Rings in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch:

The result? A little drier than fried onion rings. But the lack of grease was worth it, knowing that I could indulge in as many rings as I wanted without the guilt. Oh, and I dipped these little guys into my new favorite condiment — sriracha ketchup! I mix a couple tablespoons of organic ketchup with a generous squirt of spicy sriracha.