Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chinese UnChicken Salad

It looks like we're going to have a break in our Pacific Northwest heat wave today. Instead of reaching 106°, today's forecast is for a high temperature of just 95°. I'm not complaining. We don't have humidity here. At least not at the same time we have heat. But I still think it's too hot to cook, so I'll be making some kind of salad again tonight. Last night we enjoyed one of my husband's favorite dishes, a tasty Asian-inspired unchicken salad sandwich. Made with lightly fried tempeh, it's filling and nutritious. Of course, I used coconut oil to fry the tempeh, but if you don't want a coconutty overtone, you can use olive oil instead.


1 Granny Smith apple, chopped into small pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
5 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 12-oz package tempeh, cut into small cubes
1 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs Vegenaise

1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbs light soy sauce, tamari, or nama shoyu
1 Tbs ground black pepper
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp five-spice


Heat oil in a large skillet and fry tempeh just until edges are golden-brown. Remove from heat, and let cool while preparing the other ingredients. Combine the apple, celery, scallions, almonds, and cranberries in a large bowl, and add Vegenaise to bind it together. Stir in fried tempeh.

Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, toasted sesame oil, and five spice in a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine ingredients well. Pour 3 or more of dressing over the salad, depending on how spicy you'd like it. Serve salad in bowls, as a sandwich on toast, or open-faced as pictured above. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator for use in salads or stir-fries, for up to 1 week. Makes 4-6 servings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coconut Milk Creamer? Did I Read That Right?

The good folks at Turtle Mountain are really taking this whole coconut thing very seriously, and as a die-hard coconut lover, I couldn't be happier. First there was Purely Decadent Made With Coconut Milk Ice Cream...

Then So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt ...

And So Delicious Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches and Bars ...

Not to mention my favorite milk substitute of all time, So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverages ...

And then ... So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir ...

And now, I can't believe my eyes, but I just spotted a Tweet that mentioned a Coconut Milk Creamer! All it said was, "Did I hear somebody say Coconut Milk Creamer?" My heart be still ... What a teaser! I can't wait! And I can't help but wonder what's next? Coconut milk whipped cream??? In the meantime, head on over to their website and download a free product coupon for $1.00 off your favorite Purely Decadent or So Delicious frozen or refrigerated item. I just did!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Refreshing Summer Salad
with Orange-Cashew Dressing

It's simply too hot to cook! So last night we enjoyed a large salad supper that was both filling and satisfying. To make your own, start with your favorite salad ingredients. I used romaine lettuce, sliced cucumber, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and sliced white nectarines. To make the dressing, take a handful of raw cashews, grind them in a blender to a fine powder, scrape down the sides of the blender, add 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, blend, and pour over salad.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Great American UnTuna Salad

Worthington Foods used to make a wonderful frozen fake tuna called Tuno. It made believers out of a lot of vegans and fooled quite a few omnivores. The first time I tasted it at a health food store, I spit it out, because I was sure the staff person had mistakenly given me real tuna fish. He walked me back to the freezer and showed me the roll of Frozen Tuno. I was sold! I brought some home that day, made a tuna salad sandwich with it, and still couldn't believe it wasn't real tuna. But a short time later, Worthington started making Tuno in a can. I don't know how a company could steer so far away from dead-on to driving headlong off a cliff. The Tuno in a can smelled and tasted like dog food to me. I've never met anyone who thought otherwise.

Since Worthington stopped making frozen Tuno some years ago, I've missed reliving the fond childhood memories of eating tuna salad sandwiches with a glass of chocolate milk. There are other substitutes, but none seemed to come as close to the flavor and texture of real tuna as frozen Tuno. For awhile, I started making untuna salad with garbanzo beans. That was pretty good, but frozen and thawed tofu seems to work better for me. It's definitely chewier, and my husband also thinks it tastes better than the garbanzo bean mixture. So here's my simple recipe for an untuna salad. Please let me know what you think.


1 block firm tofu, frozen, then thawed and pressed
2 stalks celery, diced
1 Tbs pickle relish
1/2 cup Vegenaise
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp kelp powder
1/2 tsp nori flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper


Crumble the tofu with your fingers into a medium bowl. Mix in the celery and relish.

In a separate small bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together the Veganaise, soy sauce, lemon juice, kelp powder, nori flakes, and pepper. Pour this mixture into the tofu mixture and mix to combine.

Serve chilled on toast with lettuce and tomato.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blueberry-Mango Cobbler

It's been quite hot here for the past few days, and my fruit is ripening quickly on the vine and on the table. I picked about four cups worth of blueberries this morning, and I had three very large juicy mangoes quickly passing their peak. So I decided it was time to bake something with them. A cobbler seemed like just the thing, especially since I had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer beckoning to be eaten. The cinnamon and ginger in this recipe add a nice little zing to all that juicy fruit!

Ingredients for the filling:

3 cups sliced peeled mangoes
2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup evaporated cane crystals
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger  

For the topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
4 tablespoons evaporated cane crystals, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/3 cup So Delicious coconut milk beverage mixed with 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar


Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix coconut milk beverage with apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.

Mix the mangoes, blueberries, and lemon juice in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and ginger together. Sprinkle the sugar mix over the fruit, and toss to coat well. Spoon into an 11x7-inch baking dish greased with a little coconut oil.

For the topping, mix the flour, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture and mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into 6 portions onto fruit mixture. Mix remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle over topping.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping is browned. Serve warm, à la mode with Purely Decadent Made with Coconut Milk vanilla bean ice cream or with a dollop of Soyatoo Whipped Topping. Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Perfectly Simple Salsa Fresca

I love assembling the fresh, wholesome ingredients for salsa and guacamole.

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George are at Monks Coffee Shop trying to come up with ideas for a new TV show to pitch to NBC? Somehow, the subject of salsa comes up.

It's impossible for me not to think of this clip whenever I'm making or eating salsa. And so it was, when I prepared JJ's Favorite Yam and Black Bean Burritos from the book The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O'Brien along with my fresh guacamole and salsa.

In an earlier post, I shared my recipe for the simple-to-prepare and delicious guacamole pictured above. Here I share a quick and easy recipe for the refreshing salsa fresca pictured alongside.


3 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 teaspoon oregano, finely crushed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


Combine all of the ingredients in a serving bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 4 or 5 hours. Makes 4 cups.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coconut Milk Kefir Smoothie

It may just be my imagination, but I swear that I feel much more energized throughout the day when I have a tall glass of dairy-free gluten-free coconut milk kefir for breakfast. And now that the new So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir is popping up on store shelves from coast to coast, I thought it would be a great time to share my coconut milk kefir smoothie recipe.


2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir (I used vanilla)
5 small bananas (or 3 large ones)
2-3 cups fresh or frozen berries (I used half fresh/half frozen raspberries)


Blend all together for 30 seconds, and pour into tall glasses. Makes 3-4 servings.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I'm officially convinced that there's nothing you can't do with So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverages. The original recipe for these tasty little muffins from Vegan Brunch called for soy or rice milk, but I substituted the coconut milk beverage, and they tasted fabulous.

They were also the perfect vehicle for the berry lovely blackberry lavender preserves I purchased at Wild Rain Farm during our trip to the Oregon Lavender Festival yesterday.

Here's a view from Wild Rain, where I learned a great deal about choosing the best culinary lavender and was treated to a refreshing glass of lavender lemonade.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
5 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk Beverage
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
2 Tbs lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F, and lightly grease a muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients Make a well in the center and add all of the wet ingredients. Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.

Fill the muffin tin 3/4 full and bake for 23-27 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

A Brand New Must-Have Recipe Book:
The 30 Minute Vegan
by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray

So many vegan cookbooks, so little time. But as soon as I heard the title, The 30 Minute Vegan, I fell in love with it. As with any great page-turner, I settled into a comfy chair and read through it from cover to cover. Every recipe beckoned to me, and just reading through the ingredients, I knew that these were going to be some very impressive dishes. Discovering a book filled with 175 mouth-watering recipes that could be made in 30 minutes or less was like a dream. If it really turned out to be true that I could prepare great-tasting, satisfying, hearty vegan meals in much less time than I was accustomed to spending in the kitchen, then The 30 Minute Vegan would truly be a godsend.

But where to begin? Because I happened to have some nice, juicy ripe mangos on hand, I started with the Live Mango Gazpacho Soup. While most gourmet raw food dishes are time consuming (all that soaking, chopping, dehydrating, etc.), and high in fat from nuts, seeds, and avocado, this delightful little soup turned out to be a wonderful surprise! It's actually simple to prepare and made for a sensational low-fat summertime dish. As I have a garden full of mint, I substituted it for the cilantro called for in the recipe, and it blended quite nicely with the lime juice and mangos. That's one of the things I love about The 30 Minute Vegan: Unlike most other cookbooks, the way the recipes are presented, you are actually encouraged and inspired to add your own culinary creativity. I loved that feeling of freedom! I wasn't afraid to experiment on the first go-round with any recipe. The authors made me feel like I couldn't mess it up.

The Monk Bowl's, "Zen simplicity," as it is described in the book, is also co-author Mark Reinfeld's favorite meal to prepare. So I couldn't resist trying such an enlightened and inspired recipe. It's made with quinoa, which is noted for containing more high-quality protein than any other grain. I love it's lighter-than-brown-rice consistency, although this dish would be wonderful with any kind of rice, too. I chose to use roasted tempeh instead of tofu, (one of the suggested variations on this recipe), and added sliced red bell pepper and edamame to the mix of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Served with nutritional yeast, soy sauce, flax seed oil, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, the lightly-steamed veggies and fluffy quinoa made for a hearty and satisfying meal. I think that the next time I make this dish, I'll try it with the peanut sauce suggested as another variation of this recipe.

I was very excited to see that a simplified version of the prize-winning recipe from last year's Most Remarkable Vegan Recipe Contest was thoughtfully included in The 30 Minute Vegan. Live Un-Stir-Fry with Cauliflower Rice was as fun to prepare as it was vibrantly eye-appealing and palate-pleasing. The cauliflower "rice" really fooled my taste buds, and the spicy vegetable dressing had just the right balance of sweetness and piquancy. Warning: Don't click on the photo below, unless you are ready to arouse your appetite.

Extremely helpful sidebars are peppered throughout the book: "Quicker and Easier," "Tips and Tricks," "Superfoods for Health," and "If You Have More Time" enhance the value of this book a thousandfold. As do the opening chapters, "Getting Started" and "Preparation Basics," which includes grain and dried bean cooking charts. It's wonderful to have all of this information in one place!

Since I feel the need to get my hands on a copy of every vegan cookbook that comes along, I have a stack of them collecting dust on my bookshelf. But like the authors' earlier books, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw, The 30 Minute Vegan has found a permanent home in my kitchen, where its pages will quickly become worn, torn, and stained. And I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of this book. Can you say Chocolate Ganache Pie?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Prelude to a Fireworks Display

I know I said that I don't often include fake meats in our meal planning, (and I really don't), but I wanted to keep things simple last night while all of our neighbors were out in their backyards barbecuing. So I whipped up some creamy coleslaw, baked a batch of spicy fries, grilled a couple of sweet onions in coconut oil, toasted a few buns, opened a can of Bush's Best Vegetarian Baked Beans, and threw some Amy's Texas Veggie Burgers on the grill. Voila! A hearty summertime meal in less than 45 minutes.

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's Friday Night: Time for Thai Food!

My husband and I indulge in the little luxury of dining out every Friday night at Manola's, our favorite local Thai eatery. Beginning on Wednesday, I really start looking forward to these delicious mini-excursions. By Friday morning the anticipation has peaked so high that it's the first thing I think of when I wake up. I adore their Vegetable Red Curry and Vegetarian Pad Thai (without the eggs, of course.) But Manola's Peanut Sauce Curry with Tofu is out of this world! Imagine angel hair pasta topped with crispy carrots, cabbage, and broccoli along with strips of deep-fried tofu in a creamy rich peanut-coconut milk curry sauce. It was so exceptional tonight, I just had to share it with my readers. Well, not my meal per se, but at least a nice snapshot.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Spicy Potato and Soy Tacos with Guacamole

Prepackaged meat substitutes are a wonderful transitional food and can really satisfy the appetites of new vegetarians and omnivores alike. Unfortunately, they are often loaded with oil and salt and are highly processed, so are not what I would call a super "healthy" food choice. I rarely use them at our house, but this taco filling is so tasty, that I will include this dish in our family's dinner rotation every few weeks or so. They're always a big hit.


1 large russet potato, peeled and diced small
1 large onion diced and divided
1 16-oz can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package El Burrito Soy Taco filling
chipotle chilé pepper, salt, and ground pepper to taste
blue or yellow corn taco shells, salsa, lettuce and tomato, and avocado for topping


In a large saucepan, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add potatoes and half the diced onion and cook until lightly browned. Season with chipotle, salt, and pepper, add about 2/3 can of diced tomatoes, and put a lid on the pan. Continue cooking for about 8-10 minutes.

In the meantime, in another pan cook the garlic and other half of the diced onion until almost soft. Add the Soy Taco filling to the pan. Don't worry if you can't find El Burrito brand. You can substitute any other brand, like Yves, or create your own by using any vegan ground meat alternative and adding a few seasonings like cumin, garlic powder, and even a pinch of cocoa powder. Continue cooking over medium heat until all ingredients are hot and browned all over. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed.

When the potatoes are tender, add the potato mixture into the pan of onions and garlic, and stir all ingredients to combine. Remove from heat.

Spoon mixture onto warmed corn tortillas and top with homemade salsa, lettuce, tomato, and avocado or guacamole.

Makes 10-12 tacos.

Easy Guacamole


2 large, ripe avocados, seeded and scooped out
2 tbs fresh cilantro, minced (optional)
1 tbs freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1/8 tsp chipotle chile powder, or 1/4 tsp red chile pepper
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 large tomato, chopped


Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the cilantro (if using), lime or lemon, chile, salt and pepper, and mash some more. Add the tomatoes when ready to serve.