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Cookies to indulge in.

28 Apr

Before I became a vegan, I was a total baking snob. I had recipes lined up for absolutely everything, and I’d be damned if they weren’t the best recipes. But it’s taken me awhile to build up my vegan arsenal, because while there are many wonderful recipes out there, there are also many so-so and terrible ones that make you swear all vegan food must be gross (it’s not.)

I had previously been tinkering with a chocolate chip cookie recipe from one of my favorites, and while I loved it, it wasn’t the be-all, end-all that I was looking for. Some days, a girl just wants one of those cookies that is so rich and decadent, you don’t need more than one (but you’ll probably have it anyway.)

So I set out to make my own. And you know what? They turned out exactly how I planned! Usually when I make a recipe it ends in a few heartbreak batches (see vegan macarons, which will be ready for publication at some point, I swear.)

Anyway, if you’d like to try baking a vegan chocolate chip cookie, and you like chewy on the edges, soft in the middle decadent, lovely bakery-style cookies, I do believe you’ll enjoy these.

(This photo is actually of previous cookies, but a certain someone ate up all the current batch before I had a chance to take a photo.)

Ingredients 
2 sticks of Earth Balance butter substitute, softened (not melted!)
3.5/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/8 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 tablespoons of original Vegenaise (the canola oil version would work well, too)
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of oat flour (if you have rolled oats, you can simply put them in a food processor until they’re flour consistency, then measure out your one cup)
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
a block of dark chocolate, coarsely cut into large chunks OR Valrhona fevres, or large baking chunks. These cookies really work best with a high cocoa count, but semi-sweet is fine, too.

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, and Earth Balance. When combined well, add the Vegenaise. Mix in the vanilla, then the dry ingredients. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing between. Add chocolate, then scoop onto lightly greased or lined cookie sheet (I recommend NOT using a non-stick cookie sheet) and bake, about 15 minutes for average-sized cookies, closer to 20 for bakery-sized.

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What this vegan eats, day four.

21 Apr

Day four already! Craziness. I can’t believe it’s going by so fast.

As always, we’re assuming cereal and coffee here!

From top:

homemade mushroom, carrot, snap-pea, corn, and cauliflower stir-fry with brown rice

orignial recipe baked beans (can from Whole Foods)

smoothie! they may be like dessert to me…

What this vegan eats, day three. (And some musings.)

20 Apr

Day three, aka yesterday, was also known as “the day where they shut the water off before nine and didn’t turn it on until after six thirty.” Of course, this and the resulting pile of dishes sitting in the sink, unwashable, meant we had to be a bit creative. So I guess right now this series could be more accurately called “what this vegan eats when she’s trying to make as few dishes as possible.”

As a side note, unless otherwise noted, I had cereal and coffee for breakfast. Just trust me on this one, at six in the morning I’m not in a place to whip up something fresh and amazing. That would be an alternate universe Anni, one who could function before coffee and wasn’t so effing cold every morning that she walked around in blankets. And no, our apartment is not to blame for this. I’m just a naturally cold person, I guess, because I have yet to travel anywhere where I woke up and thought “now that’s perfect.” Not even Orlando in July. And that’s saying something. But I digress… yesterday’s food, sans cereal and coffee, looked a little something like this:

Shown: Blueberry bliss smoothie  plus a lovely tupperware container of brown rice, black beans, and cheddar Daiya. 

Not shown: the slice of whole wheat bread with almond butter I had on a paper towel. It just looked a little too sad to photograph! Maybe when there’s a plate involved, I’ll feel better. 

The good news is, our water was supposed to be off again today, but when I got home at 2:00 it was on. I’m crossing my fingers this means they’re done with all the repairs, and we can finally get back to normal water as scheduled, with none of this no water pressure or no hot water crap.

What this vegan eats, day two.

19 Apr

I’m back and ready to go – and still excited – about my “what this vegan eats” series. Of course, I’ll be more excited when our awesome vintage pipes get their act together and stop needing work done because, guys, our sink looks like WWIII right now with nary a drop of water in sight. I’m considering heading over to World Market just to get some dishes to use in the interim.

Anyway, we did have water yesterday, so here’s what I ate!

From top:

Obligatory cereal, almond milk, and coffee

Toasted sourdough bread (one slice, cut in half) brushed with olive oil, topped with avocado and heirloom tomatoes

Grilled eggplant, zucchini, and asparagus 

Whole Foods mutli-grain veggie sushi, tofu spring rolls, and veggie egg rolls (Ross and I split these plates.) 

Glass of red wine, necessary for talking about Paris. 

What this vegan eats, day one.

15 Apr

I’m a little bit excited and a little bit scared to be taking on this series – for seven days straight, I’m documenting everything I eat and posting it here. This is fun because I get to share with you some of my favorite foods and talk a little about what to do in those not-so-easy situations, like going out to eat in the suburbs or holiday eating. I’d love to make this a little more interactive, so feel free to ask questions or make comments!

As an aside, you can assume lots of water is a given, and any cups of coffee pictured are probably safe to x3. Any other beverages will be documented.

Day One.



From top:

Barbara’s All Natural Oat Squares and unsweetened almond milk

Intelligentsia coffee

apple, peanut butter, oatmeal and dark chocolate chip “sandwich”

homemade black bean and zucchini veggie burger with avocado on top and pretzel bun

Big Star margarita

Big Star chips and guacamole (I only had a few.) 


Blueberry bliss.

30 Mar

In the spring, I go absolutely nuts over smoothies. I think it’s the fruit cravings (as in, I could eat nothing but fruit in the spring and be happy, albeit not healthy) and the slightly sinful texture.

Recently we’ve been making these:

I think they’re heavenly, but you should probably try them for yourself. I (very, very loosely) started with the intention of making a Green Monster smoothie but obviously the blueberries had other ideas. All of my ingredient amounts are eyeballed, but this is the basic recipe I start with, and then I taste it to make sure it’s up to previous blueberry bliss standards.

Blueberry Bliss Smoothie

1 frozen banana, pre-cut
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen spinach
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

It’s absolutely imperative that all your  fruit is frozen, otherwise you won’t get the awesome ice cream-like texture.

Summer CSA.

14 Mar

A really common theme I’ve noticed in the healthy eating debate is money. Why spend so much on local organic produce when you can buy a whole meal at McDonald’s for a few dollars? This is a serious concern for families who live paycheck to paycheck and need to think of what will be more nutrient dense for their children. But to a certain extent, I think it also has to do with the work involved in eating healthy. It’s tough to make things for scratch in a world where we’re used to frozen pizzas and takeout.

We made our transition from Morningstar-style processed foods to homemade meals over the course of a few years. And I’ll cop to having a Luna bar for breakfast sometimes because, hey, if it’s that or nothing, I’m taking the damn bar. But for the most part it’s been fairly easy making meals on days when we have a little more energy (we split the cooking, too) and then freezing leftovers for the days when we just want to crash.

But the Whole Foods addiction – oh man, is it hard to kick. Actually, I won’t be kicking it anytime soon. Because Trader Joe’s doesn’t stock any non-soy vegan cheese (what is life without Daiya?) and a girl needs her vegan sushi and some really good freshly baked sourdough bread sometimes.

For the most part, we buy conventional produce at Whole Foods. The exception to this is when the price difference is small, or the organic produce looks much better and we can swing it that week. But I don’t really trust their labels – I know for a fact that they’ve misrepresented the origin of produce at my local Whole Foods, and I feel like “organic” is such a buzzword right now that it’s being slapped on everything. And then marked up. And marked up again, for good measure.

Over the winter, I asked my friend Jenna about her experience with a local co-op. She generously offered to let me try one of her shares, since she was going to visit family over the holidays. I wish I had taken a photo of the box because it was amazing, especially for a winter share – squash, spinach, garlic, pie pumpkins, tomatillos, spaghetti squash, thyme, onions, potatoes and a HUGE bag of black beans. It was like a vegan’s dream come true. They even send you e-mails with photos of the crops and recipe ideas for that weeks’ share:

(Harvest Moon Organics)

 

We knew right away that we wanted to sign up for the summer program. Produce is the main source of our spending at the grocery store, and being caught up in the cycle of only affording the week-to-week costs of grocery store produce feels like being in a relationship with the bad friend you just can’t shake.

Harvest Moon is a little over $500 for the June through October summer program. It’s a steal, but it’s upfront and tough to do on a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I e-mailed them to see if we could work anything out, and found out that they have a two-week payment plan for anyone who asks. We sent them three checks, each dated two weeks apart, and they deposit them accordingly. It doesn’t sound like much, but it made a huge difference for us since we get paid bi-weekly.

As a general PSA, Farmer’s Markets are also great resources for local and organic produce, without the hassle of pre-paying. But they didn’t work well for us because we have very untraditional schedules and never seem to make it while they’re open, despite the best of intentions.

Nutrition is so important to me, and I hope that our society will eventually turn away from the cheap and fast mentality of McDonald’s and Lean Cuisine, and put the focus back on real foods, from the source. What are your thoughts on the health debate?

Operation Layla Bake Sale

11 Mar

Hi all,

it has been a whirlwind few days with Operation Layla! You have all done so much to help, it’s overwhelming to think about. We are close enough to our goal that I can tell you we will be getting Layla this surgery. The thought that a group of friends can make this much of a difference, this quickly blows my mind.

I wrote a post on our brand new site (thanks, Lauren!) about just how amazing this has all been. I highly encourage you to check out the site and leave some love for Layla (and let her say thank you right back – I know she is so blown away by your generosity!) and if you come back on Monday, you can check out the baked goods that we’re offering. All proceeds will go to Layla until we meet our goal, at which point we’ll be helping out the tsunami victims in Japan.

I’m contributing vegan chocolate chip cookies! I made a batch this morning to take photos, and all but two are gone already. I take that to mean they’re pretty darn good.

Vegan cookies for Operation Layla

Sweet potato gratin.

16 Feb

One of my many (many, many) least favorite things about winter is the heavy meals. They’re usually centered around dense foods like pasta that leave me feeling heavy and gross. We try to eat seasonally (and locally, although we’re still looking for a good CSA that’s in our price range) so healthy meals are often a challenge.

Today I’m sharing with you one of my very favorite solutions to that problem. It’s a little recipe that we found in Vegetarian Times, all incognito and picture-less. I didn’t have very high hopes for it, because though it sounded tasty, I didn’t think it could be filling. It rings in at only 143 calories per slice (sometimes, when you’re a vegan, you have to make yourself eat more. It’s a curse, I swear. And then you discover things like Daiya and vegan cookies and it’s all over.)

So, here you go – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Sweet Potato Gratin

2 tbs olive oil, divided

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts chopped (6 c.)

3 cloves of garlic, minced (1 tbs)

3 tbs fresh chopped rosemary, divided

2 medium sweet potatoes (2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/8″ slices

1/2 c low sodium vegetable broth

4 tbs bread crumbs

Italian seasoning, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450. Coat a casserole dish with olive oil spray (or, if you’re me, put a few drops in there and spread it around). Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. Add the leaks, garlic, and 1 1/2 tbs of rosemary. Saute for 8 minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper if you’d like.

Arrange 1/3 of the sweet potato slices over the bottom of the casserole dish, overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the leek mixture on top. Arrange another third of the sweet potato slices, and continue alternating with the rest of your mixture. Drizzle the vegetable broth over the top of your mixture, cover the pan with lid or foil, and bake for 35 minutes.

Stir together the breadcrumbs, remaining olive oil and rosemary, and italian seasoning. Remove cover from the dish and sprinkle your breadcrumbs on top. If you have a small, deep dish, you may want to mix some of the bread crumbs into the mixture (I do this.) Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp.

Why I hate extreme veganism.

7 Feb

I’ve used this blog to talk a lot about my veganism. I told you guys about why I’m a vegan and what it means to me. I shared a pie recipe and a cookie one all with no meat or dairy in sight. And I love it – I love that I have readers who are open to hearing about dietary lifestyles different than their own, and I love that I have readers who are also vegan and share their awesome recipes with me.

But man do I hate extreme vegans. I’m not talking about extreme in the sense of strict. I’m talking about those people (I think you’ve probably encountered at least one) who feel the need to lecture you on every choice you make that’s not “right.” The ones who have clever little quips about how it’s not worth being a vegetarian if you’re going to eat dairy, or how meatless Mondays mean you’re still killing animals six days a week. The people who look you up and down, searching for a hint of wool.

I remember three years ago, sitting in anthropology lecture with a girl who was vegan. We bonded over a shared love of coffee and black beans, and then she said that really annoying, made-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out thing. “Well, I wouldn’t dream of eating dairy. Really, it’s no different from eating meat.”

UGH. She could have put all the evidence in front of me at that moment – she could have told me how much healthier I’d feel until the cows came home – but I would have just been so freaking mad that none of it would have mattered. Because the second she got that snotty look on her face and talked down her nose with that holier-than-thou tone, I was checked out. I don’t like being judged, and I don’t like being told that eleven years of vegetarianism is “no different” from eating meat.

I think I would have gone vegan a lot earlier if it wasn’t for these people. Because they made being a vegan seem so inaccessible. In fact, for a few months I just told people that I gave up dairy. And that I happened to be a vegetarian, as well.

When you get right down to it, it’s very narrow-minded and defeatist to pretend like everything we consume comes from lovely little farms one state over with well-paid workers and ethical materials. And it’s short-sighted to pretend like things like meatless Monday don’t help. Are you freaking kidding me? Besides saving animals, meatless Mondays help promote discussion about where our food comes from and the idea that a good meal doesn’t have to center around meat. I will never understand how that’s a bad thing.

I’m very passionate about my lifestyle. I love when people ask me about it, and I love to hear what they believe. But I don’t think any sort of extremism is the way to go. Promoting awareness comes through open, respectful discussion – not attacks. This is true in all areas of life, but for some reason people see food as open season for criticism. I could write a whole post on how much flak I get for being a vegetarian (and now a vegan) but it would be just as rant-y, and just as worked up. With lots of stories of uncles making jokes about how I should have just one piece of turkey, and the Joke That Never Dies, AKA the imitation crab bit. But really, I won’t go there.

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