Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh, What a Feast! and A Few of My Favorite Things

Yesterday's Thankful Day meal was truly a feast! I made Allison Rivers Samson's Meatloaf Remixed, Mushroom and Apple Stuffing with Mushroom Gravy, Healthy Exposure's Sweet Potato, Pear, and Chickpea Tzimmes, Bryant Terry's Citrus Collards Redux (with cranberries instead of raisins), C'est La Vegan's Chocolate Chip Date Cake, and Jennifer Raymond's never-fail Pumpkin Pie.

The most fun I had all day was whipping up the Soyatoo for the pumpkin pie!

Today is Black Friday, the day when consumerism runs at its most rampant. I prefer to celebrate Buy Nothing Day today and thought that instead, it would be a great day to share a few of my favorite things that you might like to buy on some other day. (It goes without saying that whiskers on kittens are a few of my favorite things). Any of these would make a wonderful gift for yourself or someone you love. Enjoy!

I can't begin to express how much I love my Moo minicards! They're half the size of standard business cards and are a creative, fun way to introduce yourself! They're completely customizable, and you have the option of selecting a different photo for every card. Here are just a few of my cards featuring photos from my food blog in all of their full-color glory:

Lulu's Raw Chocolate Alchemy Bars are handcrafted in small batches and made with low-glycemic coconut palm sugar and organic, fair-trade cacao beans.

I once read a blog in which someone said they thought that maca tastes like feet. Well, I don't know what feet taste like, but admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the taste of maca. But I am impressed with all of the health benefits attributed to maca, including its ability to: increase energy, stamina, and endurance, regulate hormonal imbalances, enhance memory, and act as an anticarcinogen and antioxident. So when I heard that Lulu's Chocolate Bars contain maca, I thought this might be a delicious way to get some maca into my diet and indulge my chocolate obsession at the same time. My favorite flavor is the Coconut Cin Bar, which ... well ... doesn't contain any maca. It's an infusion of cinnamon, dark chocolate, coconut, and the sensuously smoky flavor of my new favorite superfood: mesquite! I also love the Aztec Crunch Bar, and Chocolate Maca Chunk, which does contain maca.  The Maca Green Bar and Chocolate Maca Chunk are also very tasty ways to get your daily boost of maca.

Anyone who has ever met Robert Cheeke can't help but be wowed by his energy, enthusiasm, effervescent personality, and yes, his stunning physique. He's a walking bundle of compassion in action, who lays to rest the myth that award-winning muscles of steel can only be built upon a diet that contains animal protein. In his book, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, Robert shares an inspiring road map to help you go from flab to fab no matter what your starting point, and from unhealthy omnivore to totally ripped, lean, mean, and vibrantly healthy vegan, if that's your goal. Robert's motivational style of writing got me pumped up enough to get my butt back into the gym. And if this book can do that for me, it will make the perfect gift for anyone who needs a little fire lit under their tush to help get them off the couch or away from the computer and back into action.

You've heard of Latisse? It's touted as "the first and only FDA-approved prescription treatment for 'inadequate or not enough' lashes." Nothing could horrify me more than the idea that a healthy woman would use a glaucoma drug to grow longer, darker, or fuller lashes. What I find most astonishing, is that when you look at the before and after photos on Allergan's website, there is nothing wrong with model's lashes in the before photos! Now, what woman wouldn't love to have longer, fuller, darker lashes? I know I would. But would you really want to use a drug that can permanently change the color of your from blue or green to brown? And is it really worth the the risk of any of a number of other "side" effects like eye redness and irritation, uveitis, macular edema, cataract, reduced intraocular pressure, and vision problems, just for longer, more luscious lashes?

There are many non-prescription products on the market that will do the same thing, without such harmful side effects and for significantly less than the $120/month Latisse will set you back. One such product, GrandeLASH-MD recently came to my attention. I wanted to be sure that this was a cruelty-free product, so I wrote to the company's owner, Alicia Grande. She promptly replied, "GrandeLASH-MD has not been tested on animals. It was tested on 55 humans through a plastic surgeon and opthamologist. There are no animal-based ingredients, and it's paraben-free." Made with peptides, vitamins, and botanicals (see the full list of ingredients here), the company claims that you will see results in as little as 4-6 weeks. Of course, I was skeptical. While I would love longer, darker, fuller, lashes, I felt that my wimpy eyebrows needed more immediate help, so I decided to try GrandeLASH-MD on my eyebrows first.

Seeing is believing! The before and after photos were taken 60 days apart. And although I have no idea how it works, I am astounded by the results.

Lunchsense lunchboxes intrigued me for quite a long time before I finally got my hands on one. I'd seen them at trade shows and thought they were the ultimate in lunchbox organization.

The lunchbox is lead free, and all the nifty little storage containers it comes with are lockable, microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, 100% airtight and watertight, stain resistant, and BPA free.  It comes in three sizes, and I chose the medium sized one for myself, but wish I would have gotten the large size since Mark is the one who packs a lunch everyday. Still, I packed up Thanksgiving leftovers for him to take to work today, and it all fit! Get yourself one of these babies, and it's guaranteed to be the last lunchbox you'll ever buy!

Here's one of those it's got-nothing-to-do-with-the-holidays-but-it's-a-delicious-discovery-nonetheless ideas. I've never been a huge fan of deep-fried foods, but since becoming a McDougall girl, one of the foods I've sorely missed is onion rings. Then I came across a post for Isa's OMG Oven-Baked Onion Rings (that woman is a vegan culinary genius!), and I couldn't resist trying them. They are better than any fried onion rings I've ever eaten in my life! They've got so much flavor and none of the greasiness!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Festive Holiday Treat!
Rosewater-Glazed Lemony Cranberry Cookies

I love Autumn! It's the season of colorful foliage, pumpkin pie, and the time of year when Pizza Research Institute starts putting cranberry sauce on their vegan Chef's Choice pizzas! My recipe for these super-moist and chewy Rosewater-Glazed Lemony Cranberry Cookies was recently featured on my friend Millie's Nuestra Cena blog. But just in case you missed it, I'm sharing it with you here. I sometimes make these cookies with a lemon glaze, but the rosewater glaze looks so festive, I can't resist making them this way for the holidays! But the glaze is completely optional. These cookies are very rich and delicious without any glaze at all!


1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread, at room temperature

1/2 cup evaporated cane crystals

1/3 cup firmly-packed organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp Egg Replacer plus 2 Tbs water

2 tsp pure vanilla extract 

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tps aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans 

1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries

Rosewater Glaze (optional—see recipe below)


Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease two large cooking sheets. Whisk together Egg Replacer and water in a glass measuring cup and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl mix together on medium speed, Earth Balance, sugars, and lemon zest. Beat in Egg Replacer mixture and vanilla until combined. Set aside

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, then gently stir in the pecans and cranberries.

Drop by large teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly before removing to cooling racks.

Prepare Rosewater Glaze while cookies are cooling. Drizzle the glaze over the top of completely cooled cookies. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Rosewater Syrup and Glaze


1 1/2 cups evaporated cane crystals
1 cup of Organic Red Roses (I buy them from Mountain Rose Herbs)
1 cup water


Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes, until syrup has thickened. Remove from heat, and when cooled, strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Pour syrup into a squeeze bottle, and place candied rose petals into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate syrup and candied rose petals for up to two weeks. Candied rose petals can be enjoyed as a sweet treat just like candy, and the syrup is divine on crackers or toasted English muffins, over Purely Decadent Vanilla Bean coconut milk ice cream, and as a glaze for cakes and cookies!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy World Vegan Day!
Living Vegan on the Cheap

If not for the heavy taxpayer subsidies to the meat and dairy industries, the prices consumers would pay for them would be so high, as to be out of reach for most Americans. The impact of meat consumption on the average family's food bill today is less than half of what it was in 1970. But the cost of consuming animals can't be calculated in one's food bill. The impact of intensive factory farming and its end result, cheaply produced animal products, is doing more damage than ever to human health and the environment, not to mention the animals themselves.

Still, I get sticker shock each time I fill up my grocery cart. Organic produce is still significantly more expensive than conventional pesticide-laced options, and I'm hard pressed to find a decent whole-grain bread for much less than five dollars a loaf. Buying from bulk bins rather than cans, boxes, and plastic packages and making everything from scratch are certainly money savers, but who has time to soak dried beans or make her own bread every day? I certainly don't. And even though I've all but eliminated every last vestige of fake meat from my diet, tofu still costs 50% more than it did just two years ago, and let's not even begin to talk about the cost of Daiya vegan cheese. I've calculated that the average meal costs me between four and five dollars per serving, which is one reason why lately, I've slipped back into depending on takeout several times per week. By the time you calculate in the time and energy used for meal preparation, a tasty vegan meal from one of favorite food carts really doesn't cost that much more. But I've joyfully discovered that there is a way to create deliciously satisfying vegan meals on the cheap and do so without spending hours in the kitchen. Enter my new favorite book—Robin Robertson's Vegan on the Cheap.

Robin Robertson is one of my favorite vegan chefs. She has eighteen cookbooks under her belt, including the ground-breaking Vegan Planet, which holds a treasured spot in my extensive cookbook collection, showing many pages that are well-worn and stained. Her latest book, Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money features 150 enticing recipes that cost between 50¢ and $2.00 per serving. Now that's a money-saving idea I can really wrap my lips around!

Vegan on the Cheap contains a cost comparison chart, meal-planning tips, menu ideas, and other smart-shopping tips. Searching through the recipe index, I found many familiar favorites like Lasagna and Coconut Curry Rice, and a few surprising dishes with intriguing names like Skordalia, a creamy Greek garlic sauce, Pot au Feu, a French mélange of root vegetables, and Bobotee, a South African curry-seasoned casserole. The apples, raisins, and almonds in Robin's Tempeh Bobotee tempted my taste buds enough to dig head-on into this recipe first. The casserole looked great out of the oven,

and even better on my plate!

Pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, bobotee (or bobotie) is traditionally made with ground meat and an egg-custard topping. There's a surprise in every bite, which has nothing at all to do with animal-based ingredients, but instead comes from the apples, raisins, and almonds. It's a bit like eating your favorite stuffing, but heartier, because of its protein-rich tempeh base. Making Robin's bobotee inspired me to create my own curry blend, since I wanted a mild curry, and the only curry powder I had on hand was rather hot. And I impressed myself with Robin's recipe for Cheepskate Chutney. Pineapple, assorted dried fruits, ginger, brown sugar, and just a tiny bit of red pepper blended beautifully together.  It was so gorgeous that it almost made up for my sloppily plated casserole, and it was quite possibly the best chutney I've ever eaten!

The next recipe I tried confirmed that there is no sacrificing taste for economy. I first came across photos of this dish on Keri's I Eat Trees blog. (Go there if you want to see stunning photos of this dish and several others from Vegan on the Cheap.) Take a look at the Deconstructed Enchilada Bake:

Doesn't it look a little like a Jackson Pollock painting? Made with mashed pinto and black beans, it was deliciously wholesome and hearty and a snap to put together! (There was no need to fill and roll enchiladas or make a complex enchilada sauce.) I just love finding tasty new money- and time-saving ways to enjoy beans, don't you? Beans have never sounded very appetizing to me, but put them together creatively with a few well-chosen ingredients, and they open a whole new world of culinary magic. The Cheezee Sauce topping made the dish taste rich and creamy while going easy on the fat and calories.

With recipes for Walnut Crusted Tofu with Spinach and Orange, Indian Spiced Lentil Ragu, Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Glaze, and Chocolate Chip-Walnut Rice Pudding, I can't wait to sink my teeth into all of the recipes in this wonderful book. And I'll be buying several more copies to give away as Christmas and Chanukah gifts.

Following are the recipes for the Deconstructed Enchilada Bake and Cheezee Sauce from Vegan on the Cheap excerpted with permission from  John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright © 2010 by Robin Robertson. Happy World Vegan Day! Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my holiday recipe for Rosewater Glazed Lemony Cranberry Cookies on Nuestra Cena this Friday!

Deconstructed Enchilada Bake


1 Tbs olive oil (I made this McDougall friendly, and substituted 1/4 cup vegetable broth)
1/4 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15.5-oz can pinto beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
2 Tbs water
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15.5-oz can black beans, drained rinsed, and mashed
1 24-oz. jar tomato salsa
8 7-inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup Cheezee Sauce


Heat the oil (or broth) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the pinto beans, water, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the flavors have blended and the mixture is well combined, about 5 minutes. Add the black beans and 1 cup of the salsa. Mix until combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking pan. Spread a thin layer of the remaining salsa on the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange half of the tortillas on top of the salsa, overlapping as necessary.

Spread the bean and salsa mixture over the tortillas in the baking pan, then top with the remaining tortillas.Spread the remaining salsa on top of the tortillas and drizzle with the Cheezee Sauce. Cover with foil and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Removed from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

Cheezee Sauce


2/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard


In a medium saucepan, combine the yeast, cornstarch, salt and garlic powder. Turn the heat on medium and whisk in the soy milk. Cook, stirring until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. (I cooked it for 3 minutes.)

Remove from the heat and stir in the oil, lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. The sauce is now ready to use. If not using right away, refrigerate the sauce in a container with a tight-fitting lid, where it will keep for several days.