I’ve been meaning to do this for a bit – say, about a month? – but have been taking care of personal stuff so haven’t had the chance. Until NOW, that is! I want to share with whomever reads this a few of my favourite vegan things from last year; I promise that when I say ‘a few’ a mean exactly that – my top three discoveries. Any one of these items has likely been around a lot longer than a year, but I just didn’t know about it until sometime within the last 13 or so months. So, without further ado, the first in my three-part series:
- Just Mayo, by Hampton Creek
Mayonnaise is probably my favourite condiment. I was about to say that I would literally put it on anything, but that’s not true. I don’t use mayo on my fruit, or in my oatmeal. But, um… yeah. Everything else. As a vegan who is steadfastly opposed to eggs and dairy, mayo has been the hardest for me to resist when eating out. To be honest, if I get a veggie burger from an omni restaurant, more often than not I will eat it with whatever mayo they put on it. Its the one thing I just can’t resist
When local vegans began posting that Just Mayo was available for an amazing price from our neighbourhood Costcos, I made sure to look for it as soon as I possibly could. And when I brought it home and gave it the first taste test, with some crinkle cut french fries piping hot just out of the oven, the sauce passed with flying colours. The smell, the taste, the colour, the texture – there is no way someone would notice any difference if every restaurant and fast food chain were to suddenly start using Just Mayo rather than the egg-and-dairy-based stuff.
Now, I’ll be honest – the health benefits to switching from egg-based mayo to Just Mayo are limited to one very key difference – Just Mayo has absolutely ZERO cholesterol. Bad cholesterol leads to heart disease, and with the amount of mayonnaise I can consume when I’m on a savory food bender I was at a serious risk for developing too much of the bad cholesterol that could cause me to suffer a stroke one day. While the calorie count and fat count are relatively similar between traditional mayonnaise and Just Mayo, when eaten in moderation, Just Mayo will make a much bigger difference to your health in the long run. Another benefit is not to your body, but actually to your wallet! Just Mayo is MUCH cheaper than regular mayonnaise. And, best of all, ZERO innocent animals were subjected to misery and torture to create this product. So now when I go out, I can bring a little container with this delicious stuff and use it on my restaurant food so I can have my cake (mayo) and eat it too!
As a little note – it was announced yesterday or today (who can remember anything these days?) that Hellman’s, the company that sued Just Mayo for calling itself mayonnaise even though it did not contain the traditional egg ingredient, is now set to release its OWN vegan mayonnaise. I’ll be sticking to Just Mayo as long as it is available to me, but it’s inspiring to see more and more vegan options become available.
I had a big bag o’ taters that I wanted to cook up before they started get all sprouty and happened upon this recipe on Facebook. It was shared by the Vegan Ireland FB page and you’d be hard pressed to find a recipe more Irish than this.
So, my results weren’t perfect, and certainly don’t mirror the pictures of perfection that accompany the recipe here: Vegan Potato Cakes. But, I ate three cakes the first day and saved the three remaining for lunch the next day. I had no troubles with the recipe. My only suggestion is that when following the recipe, the part where it says to add the flour, don’t add all the flour in at once. Maybe start with half and see how dry your batter gets before mixing in the rest. My potato/flour mixture was not fun to work with, so I’m thinking it was a little too dry. I mean everything still worked out, I just think next time I’m going to try with a little less flour and see what happens.
The filling was super easy and because I love mushrooms so much I probably tried to stuff too much into each cake! I actually liked leaving the ‘shrooms and onions to saute at a lower heat – I didn’t have to watch over the stove and could do other things while they were cooking.
When I first sampled my potato cakes, I ate them with just a touch of salt and pepper. But, when I had some for lunch the next day I had a little Just Mayo and ketchup mixed together for a dip to add a little extra flavour.
I was craving something sweet yesterday. Like, real bad. I’d actually been craving vegan donuts all weekend, but because I couldn’t make it to the south side to indulge in Frickin’ Delights donuts at the Strathcona Market. So, I decided to give the good ole college try with this vegan cupcake recipe I found on Babble: http://www.babble.com/best-recipes/the-best-vegan-cupcakes-ever/
Now, I’m not going to say that my cupcakes were the best ever. In fact, they were far from perfect. Next time I’m going to bake for a couple of minutes less as they were just a touch overdone. And while the icing was delicious as is, I wasn’t a fan of the colour, so I’d add some food colouring just to make the cupcakes a little more festive. Otherwise, my favourite vanilla on top of vanilla taste combination was more than satisfactory. My cravings were sated, and I still have cupcakes left to last me the next few days!
And, because its loosely related, I found this song on iTunes and its currently my favourite.
So, I’ve been absent from the blog for a little while; I sincerely hope I haven’t lost any regular readers. You know that saying, life gets in the way of life? Well, that’s how things go. One good thing to come out of the last couple of months is my new favourite lunchtime, freezable and keep-for-later-able, meal. I looked everywhere and I could not find the original recipe that I based this veggie rice bake on so my apologies, but it is such an adaptable collection of ingredients and techniques found in a zillion different rice casserole recipes that I don’t feel like I’m stealing from any one person.
The vegetables, which make up the majority of the dish, can pretty much be whatever veggies you have available at hand. I diced an onion, five stalks of celery, a green pepper, and a red pepper, and sautéed them for a few minutes in olive oil.Then I threw in as many fresh sliced mushrooms as I could fit in the skillet. Mushrooms mushrooms mushrooms!!!
Once everything was soft and slightly glistening I added a cup of rice and browned it just a bit. Then, I transferred the whole jumble into a glass baking dish, and added about two and a half/three cups of water (I just eyeballed it). I also threw in some salt and pepper, a shake of red pepper flakes, and some basil, but you could literally put any spices you wanted in – it’s all a matter of taste! After stirring things up a bit to make sure everything was moistened and the spices were evenly distributed, I covered the dish with a sheet of tin foil and then popped it in the oven at 350 degrees for just a touch over an hour.
The result was a tasty, hearty, damn good meal. I pan-fried some tempeh strips and put a few in each of my lunch containers along with the rice, just to get a little more protein in there. So, so, so good. It’s all I’ve been eating!
One of my clearest memories of spending time with my mother when I was a little girl is sitting at the kitchen table with what (at the time) seemed like a gigantic silver bowl, a sturdy fork, and a pile of bananas that needed mushing. While my mom puttered around the kitchen taking care of a hundred other things that needed doing, I would sit there and press the tines of that fork into chunk after chunk of over-ripe banana, as gleeful as if I’d just been given a hundred quarters and dropped in the middle of an arcade. Finally, my mom would have to take the fork away from me before a) the bananas were turned entirely into soup and b) the table was covered by any more flecks of banana flesh that had spattered across its surface due to my over-exuberance. My mom would turn my handiwork into a delicious loaf of banana bread using a classic recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook her sister Karen had given to her as a wedding gift in 1980. That Joy of Cooking was a staple in our kitchen as I was growing up, and after, and when my mom passed away in 2012 it was the one possession of hers that I was almost desperate to make sure I reclaimed.
Now that I’ve gone vegan, the Joy of Cooking recipe for banana bread is off limits. Sure, I could try to adapt it on my own but I am not experienced enough in the kitchen to try that level of master cookery. Instead, I kept my eye out on the internet for a simple but tasty-looking recipe to try. Thank heavens for One Green Planet, whose Green Monster newsletter dropped the perfect recipe right into my inbox! The recipe (and the picture just below) is from the vegan maestro at iheartcrapkitchen.com, and be warned – visiting her site is like going down a rabbit hole of ridiculously tempting vegan yumminess! My tummy still won’t stop growling.
You can view the recipe as I first saw it in its entirety here on the One Green Planet site. I only made a couple of alterations. Firstly, I used plain all-purpose flour. Then, I did not include the desiccated coconut that the original recipe calls for, simply because I did not have any in my kitchen at the time I fancied baking this up. And lastly, as you can see from the pictures, I opted out of making the chocolate ganache. Instead, I simply sprinkled vegan chocolate chips across the top of the banana bread, and I found that just doing that made the banana bread extra chocolate-y enough for me! Just a note: I found the cooking time was spot on – I kept my bread in for the full fifty minutes and it turned out perfectly. And, using a little vegan Becel to coat the loaf pan before pouring the batter in allowed the bread to slide perfectly out after I’d let it cool down completely.
After cutting off and savouring an end piece just to ensure quality control I brought the rest of the banana bread loaf to work for a snack day in honor of a couple of departing staff. It is the first time I actually brought something homemade, and boy was I proud of myself. While I didn’t announce to all that it was vegan, I was happy to have brought something that a couple of my coworkers who have specific dietary restrictions could eat and enjoy. And the reviews from the omnis that were present? “Yum!!!”
I wouldn’t exactly call this a recipe… more like the throwing of various yummy things into a blender together just to see what might happen. It turned out tasty, though, so I thought I would share 🙂 This is my easy Friday morning smoothie.
1 heaping cup chopped kale (no such thing as too much)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1.5 cups pineapple juice
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp. of agave nectar
Optional: 3 tsp of chia seeds
Peel kale leaves from their stalks; either rip or chop the leaves into smaller pieces. Put all ingredients into blender. Blend, starting on lowest setting and then gradually increasing speed, until you have a beautifully smooth concoction. This makes enough for two big smoothies, so save half in a mason jar for the next day and enjoy the other one instantly!
Just a note: I add 3 tsp of chia seeds, but that might be too much crunch for you when combined with the raspberries. I just like to add the extra protein.
Approximate Nutritional Info Per Serving
As some of you may or may not know, I started my very own Seed page on Facebook in order to better interact with others of the veggie community. To celebrate the people who take time out of their busy days to make compassionate choices, to live mindfully, AND to read my ramblings, I am having my very first giveaway. To be entered in the draw, all you need to do is like Seed on Facebook before March 30th, 2015 – its that easy!
Now for the good part – the prize!
I came across Rescue Chocolate several months ago and knew that they would be a fantastic company to support. Not only do they donate all their profits to charity, they make VEGAN CHOCOLATE. Yes, please! So, my first giveaway will be for the 4 Paw Collection of Rescue Chocolates, wrapped all nice with a pretty red bow.
As per the Rescue Chocolate website, “Our delectable hearts, bonbons, and organic chocolate bars are all vegan-friendly, kosher, and handcrafted in Brooklyn.” Sounds pretty darn good to me. And again, all you need to do is like Seed on Facebook before March 30th and your name will be entered in the draw, which will take place March 31st.