Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tofu is so gross, especially when you don't know it's there

by Anne

I really hate tofu. People who are all "TOFU IS SO GOOD IT CAN BE ANYTHING!" are just wrong. It's gross. It looks gross, it tastes gross, it's texture is repulsive and it just isn't worth the protein it gives you.

Therefore, I was less than thrilled to discover when I heated up my lunch today that there was tofu in it. I should've noticed it on the package and in the ingredients but I was in a hurry when I grabbed it and didn't think to look closely.

I give it two thumbs down. It was only just so-so as far as frozen meals go, and then the chunks of tofu just sent it off the cliff. No good. I don't recommend it. Amy's makes a LOT of really really good vegan products so I encourage people to try them, but I will not be buying this particular product again.

I'm trying this new non-dairy macaroni and cheese tomorrow. I'm a little scared, to be honest. It's made mostly with rice, and is soy free so I'm giving it a shot. My expectations are low already because it's a frozen meal but we'll see how it does as a macaroni and cheese substitute.

Lunch tomorrow?

Tonight for dinner was Pseudo-Burritos. It was a huge hit with everyone who tried a "bite" going back for several more bites or a bowlful. I wasn't sure there'd be enough for me when I was ready to eat dinner, haha.

Here's the recipe:

15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz can ro-tel, DON'T drain it (I used mild because Mom is a spicy food wimp)
2 1/2 cups of corn ( the original recipe calls for a 15 oz can but everyone agreed it needed more corn)
1 C uncooked barley
2 1/4 C vegetable broth
2 T lime juice
2 t cumin
1 t chilli poder
2 T minced onion (original recipe called for a whole chopped onion but I didn't have one and didn't want to go back to the store)
1 clove garlic, minced

Toss everything into a slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours. I pan-fried a couple of tortillas with  a little non-stick cooking spray and ate it that way. It was deeelicious and filling and definitely reminds me of the vegetarian burritos at Chipotle.

A usual day of experimental vegan eating: some ups and some downs. They can't all be good.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two Thumbs Way Up

by Anne

Found a few new vegan-version recipes to try out. Once the chocolate cake is gone I'm going to move on to baklava. I found that they sell blue agave nectar at Wegman's which can be used in place of honey. I'll definitely be picking some up when I decide to make the baklava, maybe next weekend.

Two new vegan foods to rate. In my quest to find vegan ice cream I decided to try:

Turtle Mountain Purely Decadent made with Coconut Milk
Vanilla Blean flavor

I opted to try this instead of an almond milk version because this line is soy free. I was hesitant because, while I like coconut, I don't LOVE coconut. Well, I can say that the coconut flavor is definitely there but is blended smoothly with the vanilla bean flavor. However, if you really dislike any hint of coconut, don't eat this ice cream.

The best part about it was the texture. Very soft and very much like real vanilla ice cream.  Many soy-based ice creams are incredibly hard and don't soften all that quickly.

I would definitely recommend this ice cream to anyone who's been in search of a satisfying non-dairy ice cream. There are some vegan replacements you can convince yourself you like, but some things just don't cut it. This definitely cuts it for the ice cream cravings.

The other product I tried today was Health is Weath Veggie Munchees.

They're small in size, each munchee is about the size of a marshmallow, and six of them, or half the package are only 130 calories. They're very tasty, especially if you've been missing the taste of egg rolls. I ate four of them and gave two to the 11 and 12 year old cousins and they were universally approved of. I recommend dipping them in a little soy sauce if you're so inclined.

I also bought a box of potstickers I'm going to open up after I finish the Munchees... which will probably be tomorrow. :)

Two thumbs way up for each of these vegan products.

Tonight for my parents I made macaroni and cheese (just regular real mac and cheese) with broccoli. It smelled SO. GOOD. But I resisted the temptation, great though it was. I ended up leaving the house to see the NHL Awards at my sister's house so I removed myself from the temptation. It's the first time I really craved cheese since I started eating vegan as strictly as possible. Instead for dinner I ate leftover spaghetti sauce with whole wheat pasta shells. Still deeeeelicious. 

Tomorrow I will probably be making some slow-cooker burrito filling with barley, corn, and black beans, among other ingredients. Definitely looking forward to those tastes and textures again.

Cake = Really tasty and Really sweet

by Anne

So the (mostly) vegan cake was deeelicious. The only downside was that I used regular sugar instead of a vegan type. Whatevs, baby steps to being totally vegan, baby steps.

It was ridiculously sweet so if you like things that are only subtly sweet, this cake is not for you. It's  mostly the frosting that makes this cake so crazy sweet. Next time I make it I'm going to try a less sugary recipe.

Here's the recipe for the cake:

3C flour
2C vegan sugar
6T Hershey's cocoa
2t baking soad
1t salt
3/4 C vegetable oil or 3/4 unsweetened applesauce (next time I make it I'm trying it w/ applesauce)
2T white vinegar
2t vanilla
2C cold water

Mix dry ingredients until they are well blended. Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture one at a time (don't blend them separately). Stir until smooth. Pour into greased and floured pan (can't emphasize enough how important it is to flour baking pans!)  the pan can be either one 13x9 pan or two 8" or 9" round cake pans.

Bake in 350 degree oven 30-40 minutes until the skewer comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from pan or frosting.

It's very moist and very tasty.  Next time I make it I'll probably just top it with a little vegan powdered sugar or maybe dust it with some cocoa powder. The only vegan vanilla frosting recipe I found got dreadful reviews. I might try a peanut butter one or maybe, if I were making it for someone else, a mint one. For the record, I hate mint. The only mint I like is wintergreen gum and wint-o-green lifesavers.

If you see the previous post, vegan sugar isn't some crazy new -angled product. It's things like Sugar in the Raw or Florida Crystals; sugar that hasn't been refined in a process that uses bone char.

In unrelated but still vegan food news: I discovered that almond milk, despite being made from a nut, is much lower in protein that soy milk and cow's milk. Oh well, I'll just have to be more conscientious about my protein intake. The more I read about soy and think about a family member who drank soy formula as a baby and all the health problems she's had and how soy might have contributed to them, I'm trying to avoid it as much as I can. It's not easy considering LOTS of things have soy protein in them. It's not AWFUL in small quantities but a lot of small quantities add up to a large quantity.

Tomorrow I'll be cleaning out the fridge and making do with leftovers for myself while I make a macaroni and (real) cheese bake for my Mom for dinner. I found a few really tasty sounding recipes to test out in the next few days.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quest to find a vegan birthday cake

by Anne

My birthday is coming up and, as most people could probably deduce, most cake mixes, particularly chocolate (my favorite) are not vegan.

Today in addition to more spaghetti sauce that my family can't get enough of, I'm making a vegan chocolate cake. 

As I delve into vegan food research it has come to my attention that sugar is not strictly vegan. Sure, if you look at the ingredients, or ingredient, it's usually pure cane sugar, and therefore has no animal products directly in the food itself. However, if you dig deeper you will learn that most white sugar is bleached in a process that uses animal bone char to whiten the sugar. Therefore, because an animal byproduct has been used in the making of the product, strict vegans will not eat it. Learn something new every day. Since all I have is regular bone-char whitened sugar, that's what I'm going to use. Therefore, the cake and frosting will only be about 95% vegan instead of 100%. Alas.

I haven't had the full cake yet but the crumbs I just snuck off of the bottom of the pan when I turned one of the layers out onto a plate were pretty darn delicious. I'm excited to try it with the vegan chocolate frosting that we just made.

I tried almond milk for the first time today as well and I much prefer it over soy milk. It also comes without the freaky soy-related fears. Two thumbs up.

I shall report on how the entire cake tastes at a later date. 

Yesterday I bought a bunch of frozen vegan foods to try. Amy's brand didn't steer me wrong with the shepherd's pie, so I'll see how a few more of her frozen foods and a few frozen foods from Health is Wealth.

Deliciousness will hopefully abound.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Whoops I missed a few days

by Anne

Veganism is not easy.

It's pretty hard to totally avoid all animal products. This country's entire diet hinges on animal products. It's easy to avoid meat, that's rarely hidden into food, and cheese is easy to escape because it's always listed in a food's description but eggs and butter are pretty hard to avoid in most things that are cooked. Salad is a pretty safe bet.

Vegan foods I've tried recently include the Pirate Brands snack foods. Tings corn sticks and Veggie Pirate's booty are both vegan so I've given them a try. I really like both of them.

Most of, if not all, of the Pirate's brand snack foods are kosher as well.

My sister and I went out to lunch yesterday. I had an endive salad with caramelized pecans. I have no doubt that they were made using butter. I'd say this is harder than I thought it was going to be but it's really just about as hard as I thought it was going to be.

I'm not sure if Newman's O's dairy free are technically vegan. According to a PETA list they are. The list says that all Newman's O's are vegan but if that's true, why is there a dairy-free version? Those are the ones I ate. Here's the PETA list of vegan friendly junk foods for those who read this (HA!) who might want to know. I was really excited to discover that Stacy's Pita chips are, in fact, vegan. SCORE. Although I really don't think Ritz crackers are vegan, I'll take PETA's word for it.

That link above provides a link to a really helpful website for the new vegan shopper. I'm excited to keep researching and find out more. I think I'm losing a little bit of weight, but I'm definitely feeling better. Losing weight was always going to be a happy side effect if it were to happen. Feeling better was the goal and I already do feel better eating lighter foods with less yucky stuff in them.

Woo! Feeling better about this vegan thing all the time!

ETA: Now the links are back, haha.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saturday - day 4/ Sunday - day 5

by Anne

A day late on this one.

Not much new to report. I made delicious (almost) vegan pancakes today that were widely accepted by the family.

Jimmy and I made them for lunch. I substituted the applesauce for the egg, but used real organic milk instead of soymilk. Soymilk is a tradeoff I'm just not ready to make yet, as I've written before.

They were really tasty and after some practice with the griddle on Sunday morning, were not quite so wrinkly when I attempted to flip them.

I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake and Waffle mix:

Two thumbs up for this stuff.

Sunday night for dinner I made some spaghetti sauce and tried my first taste of Kamut pasta.

My spaghetti sauce was fantastic, if I do say so myself. It's the green peppers that make the difference, in my opinion. Here's my recipe:

1 med. onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 clove minced garlic
2T olive oil
1 can crushed tomatoes (~15 oz)
1 can diced tomatotes (~15 oz)
1 T oregano
2 t brown sugar
salt and pepper

1. Sautee the peppers, onions, and garlic in the olive oil in a medium sauce pan until the onions are soft and translucent.
2. Add cans of tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.
3. Simmer on low for a few minutes before adding brown sugar.
4. Simmer at least fifteen more minutes.

It was quite tasty and quite in demand by members of my family.

You can add ground meat, mushrooms, cheese, or anything else you would normally find in a spaghetti sauce. I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day #3

by Anne

Today I had some Boca patties that aren't officially listed as vegan, some frozen french fries which are also not necessarily vegan. I'm lame.

For dinner I headed to the Lexington Co-op which has lots of vegan and organic foods. For dinner I had a wheatberry salad, some tea, some baklava (is fillo dough vegan? I'm sure it's not), and half of a vegan oat bar.

The wheatberry salad gets two thumbs up, but the vegan oat bar gets two thumbs way down. Texture, flavor, calorie count, it wasn't very good, AND I was starving when I was eating it which shows it wasn't that great.

I'm a big fan of HonestTea, and I like the Acai juice I just bought, but the mango acai tea wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. That will get one thumb up and one thumb down. According to the HonestTea website, they're coming out with a Half & Half (tea and lemonade) which is just about my favorite bottled drink there is. I'm excited about that.

As far as the non-dairy rice milk ice cream, it was... gross. I'm sorry, I wanted to like it, but it was just yucky. I might have to try another flavor. I think it was the peanut butter that killed it. Next time I will try to get vanilla or something a little simpler to try.

If anyone ever reads this and wonders: I am currently just focusing on veganism as it relates to food, I'm not quite going into the anti-leather phase. I don't own much leather to begin with, and own no fur, so that might come at a later date.

A lot of the recipes I'm coming across rely on tofu and I just flat out refuse to eat tofu. I have eaten it before and the texture makes me gag. Therefore, I will have to get creative with these recipes and my protein intake. I ate waaayyy too many almonds yesterday, I think my body was craving protein.

I have never found a food that will accurately replicate the taste and texture of beef. I just don't like veggie burgers, lentil burgers, or anything like that. Can I live the rest of my life never tasting red meat again? I think so, but I KNOW I can live the rest of my life and never eat another veggie patty.

Tomorrow: Seeking out a few new vegan foods to try. Making a list as we speak.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Experimenting With Veganism, Days 1 and 2

by Anne

This is my third blog, my second active one. My other active blog is on the highly vegan related topic of hockey. Check it out on the side if you're a hockey fan, particularly a Sabres fan or a Kings fan.


I'm tired of being unhealthy and feeling lie garbage(soft g) all the time. So, starting on Wednesday June 9, 2010, I am transitioning into life as a vegan.

It hasn't been an easy switch. First of all, no one in my immediate family,  close group of friends, or anyone I know well at all, is a vegan, or even a vegetarian.

My Mom is, as usual, supportive. She always endures these random forays into health I decide to make every few years.

I've decided that I can't go cold-turkey, so to speak. There are things that are going to be difficult to weed out of my diet, frankly because I don't realize they aren't compatible with a vegan lifestyle. I ate Cheez-its today and yesterday, because they are in my cabinet and I don't want them to go to waste. That's not good. 

I made the mistake of looking at an exhaustive list of animal products that can be found in food, and that just made my head reel. So, for now, I'm trying to make educated decisions and eating as many foods that appear to vegan, even if they aren't certified vegan or anything like that. 

The first two foods I tried that I've never had before were vanilla soymilk and quinoa.

Yesterday I had a small bowl of cereal with some Silk:

The cereal tasted good with the vanilla flavor, but I don't think I'll be swigging down a glass of this instead of milk anytime soon. I've had chocolate soy milk in the past and it was completely disgusting. I think I'll try vanilla Silk with chocolate syrup before I'll have chocolate soy milk again.

However, reading a few articles today has shown me that too much soy is not good for you, so I'll be trying rice milk next. I was relieved to hear that soy might not be as great as previously reported, because I'm looking for any excuse not to have to eat tofu. Tofu is disgusting, plain and simple.

Then, for dinner tonight, I ate some quinoa (keen-wa). I just ate it mixed with some Earth Balance vegetable oil spread and a little salt.

It looks like couscous but isn't as dry, and has a subtle nutty flavor to it.

I'm looking up more recipes to use quinoa because it's pretty tasty, and would definitely be good as a rice replacement. I've found a recipe for stuffed peppers I'm going to try sometime. Maybe my Dad will eat one of them, because my Mom doesn't like peppers.

Next up is some rice milk ice cream. It's "chocolate" peanut butter, so we shall see how that goes.

Thanks for reading!