Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Collard Green Lasagna



I'm getting excited for fall. So excited, that I've already started building my Fall Recipe Arsenal even though it's not even September yet. Fall foods are my most favourite. Squashes and casseroles and pumpkin pie spice all over everything.

While it's still way too early (and too hot) for butternut squash soup, I figured there was no harm in sampling a little of the upcoming plethora of comfort food awaiting my stomach over the next couple months. So to start, I picked a cooler, rainier afternoon and made a lasagna!

Lasagnas always seem to be way more work than they actually are. They are pretty much the perfect meal, though, because they can be made in advance and warmed up for dinner. Or they can be made by the truckload and frozen individually for the quick mid-week microwave/toaster-oven dinners that we all succumb to, at least once in awhile.

They also provide the perfect opportunity to up the nutrient value of your dinner. And not only up it, but hide it from particularly picky palates. While I love seeing bright colours on my plate, it's just as easy to puree the greens, beans and tofu and hide them in the tomato sauce for the Picky Mickey in your life.



I used collard greens in this lasagna. I like using them in lieu of other greens from time to time. They end up overshadowed by kale, cabbage and spinach so often that I don't feel they get the proper superfood credit that they deserve. Rich in antioxidants, collard greens are known to help lower cholesterol/provide cardiovascular support and studies have also shown that, by virtue of their antioxidants, they play a role in cancer prevention too. Right off the bat we are looking at two of the major killers connected to the Standard American Diet. Not to mention that collards are a substantial source of calcium, Vitamins A, C & K, folate and dietary fiber. You can learn more about them here.

I'd love for you to try this recipe with the collard greens, but I'm sure spinach or kale would provide delicious subtitutes too.



The lasagna's "heartiness" comes from this - mashed white kidney beans and crumbled firm tofu.




If you're feeling especially ambitious you can go right ahead and make your own tomato sauce. Or you can just use your favourite - this one is mine!



Put it all together and you've got yourself quite the lasagna filling.



And the layering game begins.


The recipe comes from CalciYum, an old plant-based cookbook that no one seems to blog about. I don't think I've ever been able to find a digital copy of any of the recipes and I've tried lots of them (check out the CalciYum tag). I really like this book and its focus on working out nutritionally-balanced meals while providing tons of information on which ingredients provide you with the most bang for your buck calcium. I think it would be a great edition to your cookbook shelf.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kindfood, Burlington



My birthday is in two weeks and all I want is a painted stairwell and a new bookshelf to put in it. How old am I?!

I was off work yesterday, so we went to the nearest Ikea in search of said bookshelf. The nearest Ikea is in Burlington, so after finding the bookshelf and putting some serious Tetris skills to work in an attempt to fit in into my little car, we drove a few streets over to Kindfood.

I knew I'd like the place the second I walked into it - it features my favourite colour scheme of pink and green. The walls are covered with thought-provoking messages about living compassionately and the floor features "Famous Vegan" facts that you can catch up on while you're waiting to get to the front of the line.



One of my personal favourite Famous Vegans!


The restaurant was featured on a local morning television program yesterday so we picked quite a busy day to stop by - it didn't phase the staff, though, because the food was delicious and everyone we interacted with was so friendly and enthusiastic, helping us choose between the many amazing options listed on their menu.



I got the OMG Grilled Cheeze!
From the menu: Oozing with Daiya cheese, vegan chipotle mayo and organic ketchup




Paul got the KIND Burger
From the menu: Grilled Tempeh burger with Daiya cheese, sliced tomato and romaine, with home-made
vegan mayo and served on multi-seed sourdough bread
. He also added on avocado slices and bac'n bits!




For dessert we got Ice Cream Sandwiches! Perfect for following up a patio lunch on a hot and sticky day.


Everything was amazing! After our trip to L.A. and the tragic realization that we will probably never eat like that again (or at the very least, for a very, very long time), we are so relieved that Kindfood is only about an hour or so away from our front door.

A friend offered us a really great tip about bringing a cooler along with us. Kindfood has a little mini-market as well as tons of freshly-baked goods that you will want to sample but physically can't immediately following your lunch (well, you can, but in doing so you run the risk of popping a button or two and having to drive home in your underwear).

These are the goodies we brought home:



Cookie Sandwich!



Dulce de Leche cupcake (which got a bit mangled in the cooler, but survived!)


Kindfood
399 John St.
Burlington, Ontario
(905) 637-2700

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Spicy Tofu Triangles on a Cool Bed of Lettuce



I've got a memory card full of pictures of food I've made over the course of this summer that I just haven't gotten around to blogging about. Not because they didn't work out or because I didn't want to share them. Most of the recipes were spectacular and have become regulars in our recipe roster. The reason they haven't been posted yet is just because I haven't had the time to. This summer has presented some serious challenges and admittedly, the majority of my non-work-related attention has gone to helping my dog get healthy.



This is just one of the new recipes that we tried this summer that I wish I had the time to give more attention to here on the blog. But that's part of the real glory of this recipe - it's unassuming, unfancy and uncomplicated. Can be made in a frying pan or on the grill, courtesy of Vegan Express, a cookbook I've given away twice here at TIV and one that I really believe is essential hardware for busy vegans.



I served it on top of some crisp romaine, fresh from the farmer's market. The dressing was a raw ranch, which I've blogged about before and which currently graces the August header for This is Vegan. Yum!

No digi copy of this one, kids, so off to Amazon you go!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Report: Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness by Robert Cheeke



Alright. It's safe to say that out of all the topics discussed here at TIV, I have never been more out of my element than with this one. And yesterday, I spent three hours writing a really great, thoughtful, witty piece about this book (not really, but how are you ever going to know?) that Blogger subsequently decided to eat just as I went to post. Conveniently, I also didn't happen to notice that it hadn't been autosaving at all the entire afternoon. Blogger is clearly also concerned about my ability to talk about this. Touché, Blogger. Touché.

But we're going to give it another try because I think the message in this book is really important.

I spent my undergraduate and graduate university years hanging around the sociology department, learning about people. Specifically, my interest was in symbolic interactionism/ethnographic research, a branch of sociology that centres on studying how people interact with one another in the various groups that compose their lives. Learning about different subcultures was my bread and Earth Balance in those days, and a passion I took with me after I left school.

So, when Robert emailed me asking if he could send me a copy of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness I jumped at the chance, not only to help promote the work of one of my fellow vegans, but also because I really love learning about people from all different walks of life. I love discovering what drives them and how they came to be the people that they are.

Naturally, the topic of bodybuilding is interesting to me because it's something I know virtually nothing about and the fact that it is vegan bodybuilding we're talking about makes it all the more intriguing. Robert Cheeke presents a particularly compelling example because he is not a bodybuilder that became a bodybuilder and then went vegan (which is great too, don't get me wrong). This is a story about someone who went vegan and then went on to become a highly accomplished athlete. The veganism came first, eliminating the potential for any dispute regarding how powerful a vegan diet can be.

Since there is very little that I know less about than bodybuilding, reviewing this book based on technique itself would be a tad ridiculous. Instead, I'm going to look at it through my old sociological lens and address why it's so important that we encourage Robert and all vegans in all their varied pursuits – the more things we do, the more ways we can show the world that there is nothing we can't do.

Being that I started the book knowing nothing about bodybuilding, I learned so much about this lifestyle. Robert leaves no stone unturned when it comes to pursuing this type of passion. He provides highly detailed meal plans for every stage of training (Mass-Building, Fat-Burning, Pre-Contest, etc). Furthermore, he discusses more than the plans that he himself follows. He has also prepared meal plans for vegan bodybuilders with gluten and soy allergies and even includes a meal plan for raw vegan bodybuilding. The only option he doesn't give you is animal product:

"If it had a face, a family, and the ability to experience fear and pain, it isn't food. It is the remains of an animal that used to be alive and experience life just as we do. Eat the foods that have caused the least amount of harm to be produced and "harvested" and you'll feel really good about your food choices everyday." (page 101)

Similarly, Robert provides extensive information on training and exercise for all areas of the body. The tips he provides are not all reliant on expensive gym equipment (I say this, because for years I used lack of a gym membership as an excuse to not work out). He discusses alternative types of care for building the body, such as massage therapy and chiropractic treatment. There are also chapters on how to turn your passion into a career and how to attain sponsorship, so that you have the means to pursue it.

Importantly, he also includes sample journal pages for logging nutrition, training and achievements that you are able to photocopy and begin using immediately, in an effort to create notions of accountability and personal responsibility. For me, being accountable for your actions is imperative in the pursuit of any type of goal, be it fitness-related or otherwise. There is something about putting things in black-and-white that makes them more real and makes you less likely to abandon them and I love that he gets you started right away.

If I had to pick a favourite chapter, the one titled "Where Do You Get Your Protein?" is up there. We everyday vegans are constantly bombarded with this question. Can you even imagine how often a vegan bodybuilder gets it? At least in bodybuilding it's somewhat relevent - to pursue their passion bodybuilders need to consume incredible amounts of protein (unlike many of the rest of us, with our low to moderate activity levels, who in turn need low to moderate protein intake).

Initially, I figured a good defense for this increasingly annoying inquiry would be to print off a picture of Robert and glue it to my forehead to fend off all questions about protein deficiency in a vegan diet. Instead I've decided to go with a more subtle method of tackling the age-old protein questions - with a simple "Google Robert Cheeke and click on 'Images'".

Robert's many "responses" to the protein question in this book are thorough and informative without the added snark of some other sources (and myself, quite frankly - God I hate the protein question!!!!). Although I do enjoy Response #4, which includes a little bit of the sass that I think a question like this deserves:

"Where do you get YOUR protein? How do you monitor your cholesterol intake?" (p. 152)

Really though, his message about handling the protein question with patience is sound and something we vegans should take to heart, regardless of the blood that starts to boil internally when the question is asked. The topic of protein has taken on hostile undertones for us vegans because we've most likely encountered it in a hostile environment at some point - asked as a challenge rather than an expression of genuine curiosity or interest. We have to remember that it's not always coming from that place:

"Care should be taken when answering the question. It would be harmful to the vegan cause to answer rudely or condescendingly. Some people are asking sincerely to truly learn because they innocently don't know better. Others may be asking because they want to know which are your preferred sources, so they can get ideas to incorporate into their diets. When the question is answered rudely and not with a lot of thought or tact, people receiving the answer will have a negative reaction and a negative reaction of veganism." (p. 150)

Another interesting aspect of this book is that Robert highlights the resistance vegan bodybuilders encounter not just from the bodybuilding community, which I suppose is somewhat to be expected because vegan bodybuilders are no doubt the minority, but also from the greater vegan community. As a result, vegan bodybuilders have to defend themselves twice - once to the bodybuilding community, and once to the vegan community, with members who often see bodybuilding as extreme, unhealthy or excessive. In 2011, veganism has become synonymous with weight loss as opposed to weight gain, no doubt as a result of the many folks that have joined our movement in an effort to combat weight-related health complications. Vegan bodybuilders tend to contradict the majority, so I suppose there is bound to be some resistance. Whether or not this is justified seems to be a source of controversy within the vegan community.

In general, there is often debate among vegans regarding the role of health and fitness in the animal rights movement. On the one hand, there is concern that veganism could become a health "trend", based on personal as opposed to compassionate reasons, making it all the more easy to abandon when another trend comes along, while millions of animals continue to be violently destroyed everyday. Conversely, modern health-oriented research about the destructive effect of meat and dairy on the human body have brought so many people to veganism that may not have found us otherwise. Furthermore, many of the people that go vegan for health or personal reasons often develop an interest in helping animals after the fact and are no less passionate about it than those of us who went vegan for the animals in the first place.

I myself went vegan for the animals, first and foremost. The health gains came after and they have transformed my life, but they still come secondary to my belief that using animals for human indulgence (be it for food, be it for entertainment) is unacceptable and if there wasn't the added bonus of optimal health in its most liberating form, I would still be vegan. Lucky for me, the two go hand-in-hand. By respecting the animals and the environment it in turn means respecting what nature intended for our bodies. As a result we vegans as a whole are rewarded with fewer health complications than our omnivorous counterparts.

Coming from an animal rights place, it took me awhile to learn that being healthy is a means of helping the animals. Giving proper attention to being a healthy vegan and taking care of myself means I'm able to focus my attention on animal issues and not on whatever health ailments might be plaguing me now or in the future. This doesn't mean that I don't think there is a place for vegan indulgences. Heaven knows I can pound back a deep fried chick'n sandwich with the best of them. It also doesn't mean that I don't think there is room for passionate vegans of all shapes and sizes - please do not mistake this as a message of body-hate or body-discrimination of any kind. The animals need us all. But for me, something Robert says in his book echoes how I feel about the entire controversial issue and how I will pursue my own personal veganism in the future:

"...We don't always get the opportunity to talk with people to explain ourselves. Most of our visibility is from afar. People see us from distance and form an opinion about us. Non-verbal communication clearly outweighs verbal communication in its ability to influence ideas, opinions and perceptions. How we carry ourselves and present ourselves non-verbally is of very high importance in the future success of our vegan movement. When you are fit or muscular representatives of the vegan lifestyle, you open up doors for others who maybe had an interest in veganism but feared they could never be strong on that diet until they spotted you and learned from your example. That is a pretty powerful position to be in to further the movement." (p. 154-155)

This is Vegan was formed as my way of showing that being vegan is fun, attainable and rewarding rather than limiting. In the future, as I put more focus on my own health than I have in the past, I hope that it can also be an example of the physical benefits of veganism, too. Don’t be mistaken, life is fun because it's fun but it's also fun because I'm well enough to have fun in the first place, a luxury that only the healthy are able to take for granted.

For me, there are two steps to being a successful component of the animal movement. The first is obviously abstaining from the use of animals and speaking against their abuses. The second is to be the best possible You that you can be. Because when you are the best Vegan You that you can be, you feel good physically and mentally, about yourself and the choices you make. Going out into the world feeling this way shines through to the others you encounter and unintentionally conveys an image of veganism as something positive, inadvertently encouraging people to take notice.

We're not all going to be bodybuilders. We're not all going to exist solely on organic wholefoods. But we can take note of what Robert is saying about veganism and extending our passion for helping animals to a passion for helping ourselves thrive, too. In turn we are helping the animals a second time because we are healthy enough to pursue justice for them and also because we are working as positive examples of the vegan life.

And on one final (probably controversial) note, I want to talk a little bit about the gendered component of veganism.

Vegan stereotypes are potent across the board but they are so much stronger with regard to vegan men. It is fairly evident that the concept of western masculinity is defined in terms of strength and size, but many fail to notice the inherent connection between strength and size and notions of dominance within these definitions. In turn, men who speak out against violence against less powerful beings both vocally and in terms of their lifestyle choices are often emasculated by the mainstream.

One could argue that the problem is with the definitions of masculinity/femininity in our culture and it is those that need to change. I spent my university career agreeing with you. But as I get older and as I interact with more people and attain more life experiences, I've learned that the abstract is so much less relevant than the actual. There will always be definitions of masculinity/femininity, so the key is to ensure that they are healthy, productive and not at the expense of the lives of others.

Paul and I are both vegans but his experience as a vegan is completely different from mine. Men are inundated with notions of what it means to be "manly" and vegan men are berated and taunted for their compassionate choices in a different way than vegan women are, in a way that can sometimes be so internalized that it sadly goes unaddressed. So many kind-hearted and compassionate men would never even entertain the idea of veganism because somehow, in our culture, what men eat has come to define who they are as men.

I think it's time we start addressing this gendered component of veganism and the obstacles many compassionate men face when they decide to no longer be a part of a system of violence against animals. I think Robert Cheeke's work, both in terms of this book and his tireless efforts as a motivational speaker, is an important component of dismantling the meat = masculine myth. Robert embodies the traditional traits of masculinity via physical strength and prowess without the added component of actually exerting dominance over other, less powerful living beings. He shows it is possible to participate in traditional masculinity without also subscribing to systems of violence. And that you can, too, if that is the vegan that you envision for yourself.

If you're not a fitness buff, don't let that deter you from this book and learning from Robert's story. This is as much a story of veganism as it is of bodybuilding, and I think all types of vegans can get something from it. Much thanks to Robert for taking an interest in This is Vegan and sending me a copy, I am happy to give it the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval.

You can purchase a copy of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness here, and check out Robert's website here (and check out the cute vegan running shorts he has for sale!). If you're from my neck of the woods, Robert will be speaking at this year's Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair on Saturday, September 10th at 6pm, where he will no doubt be sharing more of his story and offering words of encouragement.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Tragedy of the Burnt Blueberry Pie (with Macadamia Creme)



This here is exactly why I hate baking.

You get really excited about making a dessert of some sort. You literally think about it for days and how delicious it's going to be and how great it's going to look on the blog. And then you follow the recipe to what YOU seem to think is "a T", turn your back for a minute and then the edge of your pie burns to a crisp along with all your hopes and dreams.

Baking is like this needy, scornful lover that never forgets a crossing. You have to pander to its every insecurity, from start of project to end!

Cooking never treats you like this. Cooking lets you be creative and experimental and it at least gives you a chance to redeem yourself if you screw up. Baking never forgives and certainly never forgets.

Let's start from the beginning.



Since I no longer work Thursday mornings, they've become our dedicated "Market" days. Sometimes the farmer's market, but more often than not we head to Herrle's Market in St. Agatha, which is a local produce haven at the edge of our busy city. The food speaks for itself (honestly, you need to taste the corn on the cob) and the place itself is so welcoming and staff so friendly, they will keep you coming back. A quick sidetrack to tell you about how great they are at Herrle's - a couple weeks ago I bought a couple portobello mushrooms from another store with the intention of making burgers that night. When I got home and went to fire up the grill I realized that the cashier forgot to put them in my bag! I pouted a bit over it on Twitter and the owner of Herrle's offered to drive over to my HOUSE and bring me a couple, so that I could still get the BBQ I wanted, even though it wasn't even them that forgot the portobellos in the first place! You can bet your buttons you won't receive that kind of considerate service at any big box store!

Anyway - back to the Tragedy of the Burnt Blueberry Pie.

We went to Herrle's last Thursday and while we were cleaning them out (seriously, I have to bring two big crates everytime I go in there) I saw these baskets of what I assume are the last of the summer Ontario blueberries. While it's tough to pick a favourite fruit, if I was forced to at gunpoint I'm pretty sure it would be the blueberry. To the point where mid-summer I start to take on a creepy blue hue from eating them so much.

That being said, I knew that even I couldn't eat all those blueberries before they went bad, so visions of desserts started going through my head.

Now, I'm not really a pie person. I always bake cobblers because they are way less labour-intensive and the margin of error is so much less. Case and point: the pie pictured above.

Because I've blogged cobblers in the past (strawberry rhubarb and peach, respectively), like an idiot I convinced myself that I was competent enough to make a blueberry pie with homemade crust this past Sunday. I don't know what would make me think that, because I really and truly suck at baking and I always have. Not to mention the fact that I'd never actually eaten blueberry pie in my life, let alone baked one.

Either way I gave myself a pep talk and I was amped to make the best pie ever. Starting with a homemade pie crust. Which is where everything went downhill.



I used the pie crust and blueberry pie recipes found in The Joy of Vegan Baking, except I don't actually have that book, so I used this website and (completely, horribly, tragically) misread the baking temperatures required. By like, a lot. So much so that if The Internet took this blog away from me in light of this disaster, I couldn't even be mad.

I thought it was a bit strange to bake such a delicate dessert at 450F for close to an hour, but apparently not enough to go and read the recipe again and realize that I'm a moron and was supposed to decrease the oven to 425F after the pre-bake and then AGAIN to the much more normal temp of 350F for the last half of baking.

Do you know when I realized that that's what I did wrong?

About ten minutes ago when I went to write this blog entry and re-googled the recipe.



Whatever.

You know what's kind of funny, though? The pie wasn't actually that horrible, even though the ends were a bit, erm, well done. Especially topped with the macadamia creme from Vegan with a Vengeance that I've blogged about before, in conjunction with Valentine's Day strawberry shortcakes.

So, in summary, go ahead and make this pie, as long as you do everything completely opposite of what I did.

This is what I've learned:

1) I'm not only a terrible baker, but I'm also not so great at critical thinking/problem solving. Or reading, for that matter.

2) The only pie that should be baked at 450F is a pizza pie.

3) Finally, and least embarrassingly, the dough was overworked and rolled way too thin, especially around the edges where it should have been its puffiest. It wouldn't have saved this pie from an hour in the hotter-than-Hades oven, but maybe pies in the future.

Mark my words, I will make another pie and I will right these wrongs.



It obviously wasn't bad enough to not eat, though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tipsy Soft Tacos



I was planning on not even posting this one because the pictures I took are so embarrassingly bad, but the name of this recipe is so cute and the tacos themselves are so good that I decided to bite the bullet on the embarrassment and share it anyway. Don't hold it against me!

We are at that point of the summer where bright, refreshing, homemade salsas are a reality. Farm fresh tomatoes are at the height of their juiciness, so pico de gallo/salsa fresca never tastes quite as good as it does in mid-August. Sure you can make it all year round, but there's something about the way the tomatoes taste right now that it's a total waste to not make a fresh salsa at least once every summer.



Pico de Gallo


Being bombarded with such a variety of brightly coloured fresh veggies after spending half a year buried under snow ensures that I often end up with a midsummer addiction to tacos. Nothing but a little bit of beans, a soft flour wrap and tons and tons of crispy, raw vegetables that aren't half rotten by the time you bring them home. It's quick and easy and pretty a pretty darn refreshing meal for hazy August nights. Knowing that they will arrive again every year is what keeps me going through long Canadian winters.

This recipe comes from Show Me Vegan and making it is a particularly fun summertime activity because it involves the added bonus of cooking beans in beer!







And you don't need the whole bottle, so guess what you get to drink with dinner?

Tipsy Tacos and maybe even Tipsy Human!

To serve, layer the tortillas with the Beer Beans, the pico de gallo, some freshly sliced avocado and some toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

Find the recipe here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ahoy, Matey!



I love theme parties. It doesn't matter what the theme actually is, just that there is one, and that I get to wear a strange outfit and bake themed desserts. In the last few years we've hosted or been to a wide variety of theme parties. 70s, Luau, Funny Hat, Country, Ugly Xmas - the list goes on and on and in many instances gets repeated. One that we hadn't ever been to before this weekend, however, was a Sailor Party!

Although I didn't think it was possible, there is actually someone out there that loves theme parties more than I do. We call her Samcha, and she celebrated her 25th birthday with a nautical backyard celebration last weekend.

Once I got the invitation I began my quest for on-theme cookie cutters. In the process I stumbled upon The Cookie Cutter Shop, your online source for pretty much any kind of cookie cutter you want. Meaning that I will never have to do without on-theme cookie cutters again!



I bought the sailboat cutter you see above, as well an an anchor cutter that was infuriatingly uncooperative. Parts of it were just too thin to handle the transition between cutting the dough and transfering it to the cookie sheet. Maybe if I had decided to bake these guys during a reasonable hour and not during a 4am bought of insomnia I would have had more patience. All the same, the sailboats turned out pretty cool, I think, although I really need to work on my icing-based motor skills (which are pretty much currently non-existent).



I used the same sugar cookie recipe that I always use (for Halloween and Christmas, mostly), found in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (icing too). I also did just a round of basic chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, topped with fluffy vanilla buttercream with a hint of blue in it, in an attempt to make it look like water for the lil boats.



Me, the clumsiest person on the planet, attempting to transport iced desserts across town on one of the the most hazy and humid nights we've had all summer.



Sailor Paul & Sailor Mary (it appears that the sweets survived the humidity but my obscenely-curly-but-flatironed hair did not!)



Birthday girl shark attack!









Happy Birthday, Sam! xo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Great TIV Smoothie Post!



I get far more excited over kitchen items than I do over fancy clothes or expensive jewellery. So if you ever feel like you need to buy me a gift, don't worry about breaking the bank. Just buy me a new whisk or something and I will never forget it.

So, when I feel like splurging or rewarding myself in some way, it's typically in the form of something for my kitchen. Like a new cookbook. Or a pretty dish with a fancy design.

And when I really need to get myself a consolation prize after living through a particularly crappy summer, I like to get expensive kitchen appliances - like a BlendTec blender, the most exciting way for a vegan to spend several hundred dollars this side of a trip to Portland.

We had been back and forth between the BlendTec and the VitaMix for months. Our previous blender was embarrassingly incompetent, forcing us to defrost frozen fruit in the microwave before making a smoothie. And you can forget nut-based cheeses unless you like them with chunks of cashew strewn about within. When in use it made these horrible, hair-raising noises and if you tested its patience too much the base of it would start to crack.

In short, it sucked, and it had no place in a vegan kitchen.

We decided on the BlendTec, star of the Will it Blend? series, because it was a little more cost-effective than the Vitamix while still being more than enough blender for us. And since then our smoothie-making has taken on a bit of an obsessive quality. Seriously. The fruit portion of our grocery bill has gone up like 600%. We've had it only a couple weeks and it's completed 59 cycles already.

So I thought I would share some of our favourite smoothie combos, in hopes that you will comment and share some of yours!

The Standard Issue Green Smoothie



2 big handfuls of kale
1/2 an avocado
1 orange Orange
1 cup Mango or Pineapple
Banana (frozen)
Cantaloupe
Drop of agave nectar

The Sunday Sunshine Smoothie



1 Orange
1 1/2 cups Pineapple
Handful of Grapes
1 Banana
1/2 cup Cantaloupe

The Scary Looking But Best Tasting Spinach Smoothie



Recipe from Vegan Chickie and it's found here - my favourite of the whole lot!

The Guilt-Free Vanilla Milkshake



2 cups Rice Milk
1 Ripe Banana, frozen
1 tbsp Raw Cane Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

It is guilt-free because not only is it vegan, but it also doesn't rely on vegan ice cream, which is delicious and cruelty-free, sure, but it's also usually super high in calories and sugar.



All these smoothies make more than enough for two people, so if it's just for you, cut them in half.

Now it's your turn! What are some of your favourite blender combos? I want that cycle count to be up to 100 by the middle of the month!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Orange-Sesame Tofu and Coconut-Lime Basmati Rice (and 3rd Veganiversary Giveaway Winner TAKE TWO!)



Eat, Drink and Be Vegan was the first vegan cookbook I ever got and I've loved pretty much everything I've ever made out of it. Being that I bought it well over four years ago, I thought I was at the point where I'd tried all the recipes that piqued my interest already. Some idle afternoon not that that long ago I grabbed it off my cookbook shelf and did a quick flip-through for the first time in ages and lo and behold - a baked tofu recipe that I hadn't yet tried!

Grilled on an outdoor BBQ is probably my favourite way to prepare tofu. Baking it in a flavourful marinade is a close second, though. The Cashew Baked Tofu, also from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan, is definitely on my Top 5 Winter Recipes list and I thought the orange-sesame version might be a good alternative for the summertime.



Tofu with the quick orange marinade, made with an orange that I juiced myself thank you very much, and into the fridge it goes for a couple hours.



Fresh and flavourful! Too good to last long enough to become leftovers.


Recipe for the orange-sesame tofu found here and the coconut-lime basmati rice recipe is here.

This is Vegan 3rd Veganiversary Giveaway: Winner (Take Two!)

Unfortunately, I never heard from the first winner of my veganiversary giveaway and my attempts to contact her haven't seemed to work. So, I went ahead and made the executive decision to do another draw via my beloved Random Number Generator:



And the winner is...........





Dana Stodgel, who entered via Facebook!


Congratulations, Dana! Send me an e-mail at mary@thisisvegan.com to claim your prize (a copy of Vegan Express and a copy of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs & Wear Cows). Be sure to include your shipping address!

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