Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson – Recipe and Giveaway

Vegan Without BordersI don’t know how she does it, but Robin Robertson has managed to write yet another amazing vegan cookbook! Vegan Without Borders is her newest opus, and it’s a gorgeous hardcover book full of delicious recipes and mouthwatering recipes.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn Vegan Without Borders, Robin has used her culinary know-how to veganize traditional meals from the around the globe.   Like her other cookbooks, she uses easy-to-find ingredients and the dishes are not difficult to make, so it’s easy to cook up world cuisine at home. I’ve cooked with other books that have forced me to either drive around all of northern New Jersey looking for ingredients or place an online order for way more of a spice than I actually need, and I’ve also spent hours in the kitchen cooking up meals that took less than half an hour to eat, so I appreciate the ease of  Robin’s recipes.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVegan Without Borders is organized by continent, starting in Europe with Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Greens, Eastern Europe, and the British Isles. From there we visit The Americas, with recipes from the U.S., Mexico, the Carribbean, and South America. The next stop is Africa, with recipes for such tasty dishes as Falafel Pie, Spicy Couscous with Carrots and Chickpeas, and Vegetable Tagine. Next up is The Middle East with recipes for traditional dishes like Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower and Stuffed Dates. Next up is India with recipes for dals, curries, and chutneys. The final stop is Asia, with recipes from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia Islands.

 

SproutsI wish I could tell you that through Vegan Without Borders I’ve taken a culinary tour of the the globe, but the truth is that I haven’t been able to get past the Europe chapter yet! I cook Asian and Indian-inspired dishes quite often, and I rarely cook European cuisine, but the dishes in the book’s first chapter have been calling to me. So far I’ve enjoyed Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pisou, Farinata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts, and – my favorite dish from the book to date – Seitan Jagerschnitzel.

 

I have a copy of Vegan Without Borders for one lucky reader. Follow the instructions at the end of the post to enter.

 

Seitan Jagerschnitzle

Seitan Jagerschnitzel

Serves 4

 

Thinly sliced seitan absorbs the flavor of the rich mushroom sauce in these German “hunter’s cutlets.” You can use any kind of mushrooms you like, but I prefer using a variety of different kinds to add interest and flavor dimension to the dish.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 seitan cutlets or 8 ounces seitan, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion or 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms (single variety or assorted), thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed or whole
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon browning sauce (optional) (Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master are vegan)
  • ½ cup vegan sour cream

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the seitan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the seitan from the skillet and set aside on a plate. (Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.)

 

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, mushrooms, wine, soy sauce, caraway seeds, paprika, and thyme, if using. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

 

Stir in the broth and bring to a boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture, decrease the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and the mushrooms are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the browning sauce, if using, and then stir in the sour cream. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Return the seitan to the skillet and continue to cook until the seitan is heated through.

 

From Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.

 

I have a copy of Vegan Without Borders for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, October 26th. Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Vega Review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProtein. It’s the one word vegans probably hear more than any other, with “Where do you get your protein?” being the top question most of us are asked. It’s almost become a joke in the vegan community, and I actually did laugh the last time someone posed the question to me. It turns out he wasn’t joking.

 

I think omnivores worry about where vegans are getting their protein more than vegans do. The truth is that protein is so ubiquitous in plant food that we get it from almost everything we eat. Sometimes we do need a little protein boost though, whether it’s before a tough workout, first thing in the morning on a busy day, or for a little afternoon pick-me-up. Vega recently sent me two of their shake and smoothie mixes to try, and both are perfect for giving you a protein boost, and they both contain many other essential nutrients as well.

 

Vega Protein Smoothie is perfect for those mornings when you don’t have much time to measure and add various ingredients. To make a smoothie, all you have to do is add a scoop to one cup of water, juice, or dairy-free milk, and shake it all up! It’s perfect for the office, travel, and anytime you’re on the go. Vega Protein Smoothie can also be used as the base in smoothie recipes for a little extra flavor, One serving contains 15 grams of complete protein and 50% of USDA recommended daily vitamins and minerals. It also contains fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, greens, antioxidants, and probiotics. It’s available in Bodacious Berry, Choc-a-lot, Oh Natural, Tropical Tango and Viva Vanilla flavors.

 

Vega One All-In-One Nutritional Shake is loaded with so many nutrients, it’s hard to believe there’s so much in just one scoop. One serving of Vega One contains 15 grams of complete protein, 6 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, the equivalent of 3 servings of greens, 1 billion probiotics, and the same amount of antioxidants that you would find in 2.7 cups of blueberries. It also has 50% of the USDA recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals, as well as digestive enzymes to help the body absorb the shake’s nutrients, and maca root for balance and energy. Vega One was formulated by professional triathlete Brendan Brazier to provide sustainable energy for an active life, promote health intestinal flora, support a healthy immune system, and help metabolize fats, proteins and carbs. Because it’s so nutrient dense, I like to have Vega One in a smoothie in the morning, so I know my nutrition bases are almost all covered for the day. It can be used as a smoothie base with added ingredients or made into a shake on its own. I used Vega powder several years ago, and gave it up when I realized that it was causing digestive problems throughout the day, but Vega One is a new formula, and it doesn’t trouble my tummy.

 

 

Smoothies

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

Cherries are my hands down my favorite fruit, and they make up my favorite smoothies. I usually prefer a cherry-chocolate flavor combo, but cherries mixed with French Vanilla Vega One borders on the sublime.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups frozen cherries (10oz bag)
  • 1 banana, frozen or fresh
  • 2 scoops French Vanilla Vega One
  • 2 – 3 cups coconut water or non-diary milk
  • 1 big handful of spinach, optional

 

Preparation:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Serves 2

OATrageous Oatmeals Recipe and Giveaway

oatmeal-cover

I’m super excited to be hosting Kathy Hester’s OATrageous Oatmeals blog tour today! Not only was I a recipe tester for OATrageous Oatmeals, Kathy also included one of my recipes in the book! Kathy’s here with a recipe for Veggie Oat Taco Mince, and she also has a chance for you to win a copy of the book at the end of the post.

 

I will admit that I used to really dislike oatmeal. I found it to be mushy and paste-like, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would purposely consume it. I’m not sure when or why I started forcing myself to eat it. It may have been because I was away from home and the only vegan breakfast food I could find was the oatmeal cup at Starbucks, or maybe it was when I first received my slow cooker and I was trying out different breakfast dishes. I found that adding fruit and nuts in with oats in the morning made it much more palatable. From there I began experimenting, and since then I have become a fan of oatmeal.

 

Kathy’s book OATrageous Oatmeals will make an oatmeal fan out of  any just about anyone. If only I had had this book years ago! As you would expect, it does contain quite a lot of breakfast dishes, such as Lemon Raspberry “Cheesecake” Oatmeal, Caramel Delight Oatmeal, and  Peanut Butter Pie Oatmeal, but there are also recipes for smoothies, soups, stews, dinner dishes, and desserts. Oats aren’t usually thought of as a savory food, but Kathy has gotten really creative her recipes, including dishes such as Cauliflower Oat Pizza Crust, Cajun Stuffed Bell Peppers, and Steel-Cut Oat Bean Chili. Leaving no oat unturned, Kathy  has included a few recipes for oatmeal pet treats, and there are also a couple of recipes for skin care products.

 

Without further ado, here’s Kathy with a recipe from the book!

 

taco-filling

Veggie Oat Taco Mince

by Kathy Hester from OATrageous Oatmeals

 

gluten-free, soy-free, oil-free option*

 

Steel-cut oats mimic the mouthfeel of vegan crumbles while being completely free of processed ingredients. They also add heartiness to the veggie and bean mixture. This is the perfect way to sneak in some veggies for the picky eaters in your house. My picky eater, Cheryl, loves this!

 

Makes enough for 8 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (237 ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (20 g) steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 cup (27.5 g) minced carrots
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (*or use water to make no oil added)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup [50 g])
  • 1/4 cup (37 g) minced green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (14 oz [500 ml]) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) chopped green chilies
  • 1 cup (67 g) minced kale (or other green)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons (2g) to 1/4 cup (4 g)
  • cilantro, to taste
  • salt, to taste

 

Directions: 

  1. In a saucepan, bring the water, oats and carrots to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the steel-cut oats are cooked through but still chewy. While the oats are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, then add the green pepper, garlic and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Once the oat mixture is cooked, add it to the saute pan and mix the oats in with the veggies. You want to keep cooking until the oats dry out some and begin to separate. Keep cooking until it starts to look like crumbles.
  3. Mix in the kidney beans, green chilies and kale. Cook until the kidney beans are thoroughly heated. Right before serving, add the lime juice, cilantro and salt. Serve in hard or soft taco shells, or in burritos. They are also amazing on top of nachos.

 

Per 1/8 recipe: Calories 87.8, protein 4.0 g, total fat 2.2 g, carbohydrates 14.6 g, sodium 108.8 mg, fiber 4.3 g

 

Feel free to leave out the beans and replace the chili powder and cumin with basil and thyme. You can also leave out the green chilies and green pepper and replace with either sliced mushrooms or sun-dried tomatoes.

 

by Kathy Hester From OATrageous Oatmeals by Kathy Hester printed with permission of Page Street Publishing (I encourage you to use your affiliate link)

 

I have a copy of OATrageous Oatmeals for one lucky winner. Follow the instructions below to enter. US and Canadian residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on October 1st. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Cheesy Kale Chips

Cheesy Kale Chips

During the warm months (and it’s still pretty warm in September) I eat a lot of raw foods, and kale chips are usually my raw snack food of choice. Several years ago I even bought a dehydrator so I can make my own. Homemade kale chips are so much tastier than store-bought, and they end up being much more economical too. I’ve made so many batches of chips, I’m sure I’ve more than made up for the cost of my dehydrator by now. Two of my favorite kale chip flavors are Green Goddess made with sesame seeds and these cheesy chips made with cashews. Just a few simple ingredients transform plain kale to a super yummy snack.

Cheesy Kale Chips

Cheesy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours and drained
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large bunch of kale

 

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients except kale in a food processor or blender until smooth, adding water a tablespoon at a time if needed.
  2. Remove the stems from the kale and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, pour dressing over kale and massage the kale until it is well coated.
  4. For raw kale chips, arrange the kale in a single layer on a dehydrator tray covered with a teflex sheet. You’ll need two to four trays depending on the size of your dehydrator and the amount of kale you have. Dehydrate on 105° for six hours. Remove the teflex sheet and place the chips directly on the dehydrator tray. Return the chips to the dehydtrator for two more hours.
  5. These will disappear in a flash, but on the off chance you have some left, store them in an airtight container. If it’s humid, the chips will get soggy, but they will crisp up again after another hour or so back in the dehydrator.
  6. For cooked chips, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange kale chips in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You’ll need two or three baking sheets, depending on how much kale you have. Bake until the kale chips begin to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. If the chips aren’t totally dry, carefully flip them over and bake for 5 or 10 more minutes. Watch the chips closely to make sure they don’t burn.

 

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Book Review and Recipe: Plant-Powered for Life by Sharon Palmer, RDN

plant-powered-for-lifeSharon Palmer is on a mission to help you fall in love with plants. In her new book Plant-Powered for Life she conjures up images of farmers markets full of fresh, crisp vegetables, produce bins overflowing with juicy ripe fruit, and fields of fresh leafy greens. Even the most die-hard carnivore wouldn’t be able to surrender to plant-based temptation. Alongside those images of fresh produce are visions of aromatic spices, pots of freshly cooked beans, and bowls full of warm whole grains. I had just finished a rather large lunch when I settled in on the sofa with Plant-Powered for Life, which had just arrived in my mailbox from The Experiment the day before, and I wanted to jump back up, head to the kitchen, and start cooking.

 

Black Bean BrowniesPlant-Powered for Life is a health and recipe book in one, but it’s not your typical health or recipe book. Most books on vegan health are full of scientific facts and (some might say) rather boring data, with recipes tucked in at the back of the book. And there are those vegan cookbooks with that have nutritional tips sprinkled through their pages, but the facts are usually overshadowed by the food. In Plant-Powered for Life, nutrition and food find balance. In the first chapter, Ms. Palmer, who is a registered dietician, suggests you set a plant-powered goal at the beginning of the book. It can be something as simple as adding more vegetables into your diet or something more life changing, such as going vegan. In each of the book’s 52 chapters, a tip to help achieve that goal is given, with little nuggets of nutritional or culinary wisdom thrown in. This isn’t heavy reading – each suggestion is just a page or two long – and the passages are written with a love of fresh food that will inspire you to head out to the farmers market and then into the kitchen.

 

French Lentil and Cherry Tomato SaladEach chapter in Plant-Powered for Life has two or three recipes that pertain to the subject at hand. For example, the chapter that suggests adding more legumes to your diet has recipes for Caribbean Calypso Beans and French Lentil Salad with Cherry Tomatoes. The chapter dedicated to eating well on the go has recipes for Curried Tofu Papaya Wraps and Bombay Carrot, Beet and Bulgur Salad ­– both of which hold up well to travel and make for excellent workday lunch options. As the book title implies, the recipes are all for whole, unprocessed foods, with a little bit of tofu and seitan thrown in.

 

Arugula Salad Pizza

Plant-Powered for Life also has an ingredients glossary for those who may be new to plant-based cooking, recipes for vegan basics such as dairy-free sour cream and egg-free mayo, and a guide to seasonal produce, so you know always know what’s in season.

 

If you’re hoping to change your diet, you can do so with Plant-Powered for Life, simply by following a new tip each week and giving the corresponding recipes a try. If you’re looking for mouthwatering plant-based recipes, you’ll find that here too. Whatever your reason for picking up Plant-Powered for Life, be prepared to fall in love with plants.

 

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

A traditional Mexican dish, tortilla soup is a spicy blend of tomatoes, vegetables, and crisp tortilla strips. This easy plant-powered version—you can whip it up in no time—throws protein-rich black beans into the mix. Best of all, this dish relies on preserved goods, such as canned tomatoes, frozen corn, and canned beans, so you can make it year-round from your pantry. And it’s a great complement for a simple sandwich, burrito, or vegetable salad for lunch or dinner.

Makes 10 servings (generous 1 cup each)

 

Ingredients

Tortilla Strips:

  • Three 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder

Soup:

  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced 1 small jalapeño pepper, finely diced 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup (164 g) frozen corn
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 cups (948 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium vegetable broth base
  • Two 14.5-ounce (411 g) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • One 15-ounce (425 g) can black beans, with liquid (or 1-3/4 cups cooked, with 1/2 cup water)
  • 2/3 cup (37 g) plant-based cheese, optional
  • 2/3 cup (60 g) chopped green onions, white and green parts

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
  2. Slice the tortillas into thin strips. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, then sprinkle the chili powder on top. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, until brown and crisp. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn off the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the soup by heating the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, bell pepper, jalapeño, zucchini, corn, crushed red pepper, and cumin and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Add the water, broth base, tomatoes, and black beans. Stir well and cover. Simmer over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  6. Ladle about 1 cup of soup into soup bowls, and garnish with a few tortilla strips, 1 tablespoon of plant-based cheese, and 1 tablespoon green onions. Serve immediately.
  7. Store leftover soup (without garnishes) in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup and garnish with the tortilla strips, cheese, and green onions.

 

Variation

Substitute cooked or canned white beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, or kidney beans for black beans, or use a combination.

 

Recipe from Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes, copyright © Sharon Palmer, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

Photo credit: © Heather Poire

 
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Going Vegan Recipe and Giveaway

Going Vegan

Today I’m happy to have a recipe from Going Vegan by Joni Marie Newman and Gerri Lynn Adams to share with you, and I also have a chance for you to win a copy of the book!

 

As you have probably already figured out by the title, Going Vegan is a guidebook for transitioning to a vegan diet. Along with Joni Marie Newman, the book was co-authored by Gerri Lynn Adams, who has a B.S. in Food Science with an emphasis on nutrition, so the book explains not only how to go vegan, but how to do it an health healthful way. It starts out with both Joni and Gerri telling us why and how they went vegan. I always love hearing people’s “vegan stories”, and Joni and Gerri both have good ones. From there, the book delves into the reasons to go vegan, with a chapter dedicated to each: health, the environment, your wallet (because contrary to popular belief, eating vegan is not expensive), and for the animals. As you would expect from a book called Going Vegan, there’s tons of information on stocking your kitchen, from how to check for hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods to what items you should keep on hand in your pantry. And of course, there are tons of delicious recipes for easy-to-make dishes that are sure to please everyone at your dinner table.

 

Speaking of recipes, I’m sharing the recipe for Amaretto Cupcakes from Going Vegan today. Amaretto is one of my favorite things, next to chocolate, so I just couldn’t say no to these little treats!

 

Amaretto CupcakesAmaretto Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

There are hundreds upon hundreds of kid-friendly cupcake recipes out there. This is not one of them. This sophisticated cupcake is made for grown-ups! The cupcake itself has no added fat, so if you are watching your fat, you can make these without frosting, or try chocolate ganache. For a nice decorative touch, sprinkle the tops with sliced or slivered almonds.

 

Ingredients

For cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (235 ml) almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) amaretto liqueur, such as DiSaronno (See “Veggie Bite” below.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) evaporated cane juice or vegan granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For Fluffy Almond Vanilla Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (112 g) nondairy butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 5 cups (240 to 600 g) powdered sugar, as desired
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) amaretto liqueur, such as DiSaronno (See “Veggie Bite” below)

 

Preparation

  1. To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, mix almond milk and vinegar. (It will curdle and become like buttermilk.) Stir in DiSaronno or amaretto, vanilla, and evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine. (Take care not to over mix.) Fill cupcake papers three-quarters full. Bake on center rack 18 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, allow to cool enough to transfer to a cooling rack, and cool completely. (This step is important to prevent the bottoms of your cupcakes from getting soggy.) Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  3. To make the frosting: In a mixing bowl, place butter and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup (120 g) at a time until desired consistency is reached. (For a thinner icing use 2 to 3 cups [240 to 360 g]; for a fluffy, pipeable frosting use 4 to 5 cups [480 to 600 g].) Add liqueur 1 tablespoon (15 ml) at a time as needed to taste and for desired consistency

 

 

Veggie Bite

The big square knob on top is a sure sign that this is a classic liqueur worthy of space in any well-stocked bar. However any amaretto will certainly do the trick. Joni has also offered substitutions for people who choose not to imbibe.

 

Teetotalers rejoice! For the amaretto in the cupcakes and frosting, substitute 1 tablespoon (15 ml) almond extract mixed with 7 tablespoons (105 ml) water or additional almond milk. You can feel free to sub up to half of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour.

 

 

Read my full review of Going Vegan on ChicVegan.com, and also check out my interview with Joni Marie Newman.

 

 

Follow the instructions below for a chance to win a copy of Going Vegan. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 

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Seitan Gyro with Tahini Sauce

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I never had a gyro in my meat-eating days, so I’m not 100% what they taste like. They seemed to me to be some sort of flesh smothered in some sort of dairy-laden sauce, but don’t quote me on that. My first gyro was one that I made myself, using a recipe from Nava Atlas’s book Vegan Express, which used to be my go-to cookbook. I made the dish so many times that I no longer look at the book and ingredients and measurements have changed, so this is my recipe, based on Nava’s. Most vegan gyro recipes I’ve seen are served with dairy-free tzatziki sauce, but since I’ve never had dairy tzatziki, I don’t feel comfortable veganizing it. Instead, I serve my gyros with my favorite tahini dressing, which I use for just about everything.

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Seitan Gyro with Tahini Sauce

Ingredients: 

For the Tahini Dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the Gyro

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped (about half a cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounce package of seitan, sliced (I used Upton’s Traditional Seitan)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 pita breads or flat breads
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped, optional

 

Directions:

For the Tahini Dressing

  1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Set aside until ready to use. Sauce will thicken after sitting for a while. Add water when ready to use, if necessary.

For the Gyro

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until it becomes translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Add the seitan to the pan and cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the seitan browns and the edges begin to crisp. Remove from heat.
  4. Place the flat breads or pitas on a plate and top (or stuff) with the lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, and olives. Divide the seitan equally among each sandwich and top with the tahini and parsley.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 4

 

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Nava Atlas Guest Post, Recipe and Giveaway

Plant power

I’m super excited to be hosting Nava Atlas on her Plant Power blog tour today. Nava’s cookbooks were among the first I bought when I went vegan, and because of them, I found going vegan to be relatively easy. I wish I had a copy of Nava’s new book Plant Power back when I made the transition to vegan (or even vegetarian) eating, as it’s packed with tons of tips on how to transition to plant-based eating, and it’s full of delicious, yet simple recipes. Plant Power focuses on the basics, from setting up a plant-powered pantry and fridge to choosing the best fresh foods for each season and streamlining daily meal preparation. Whether it’s a stir-fry using leftover veggies in the crisper, a fajita dinner to please different taste buds, yummy hummus wraps, or a pot of chili to savor on a cold winter evening, Plant Power takes the challenge out of meal-planning and makes it fun. Each of the fresh and flavor-packed recipes is easy to make and customizable, with tips on variations from turning up the heat and mixing up ingredients, to kid-friendly, gluten-free, and seasonal options.

 

Nava’s here today with a guest post, a recipe from Plant Power, and a chance to win a copy of her book. Without further ado, here’s Nava…

 

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Favorite Cookware and Tools for the Plant-Based Kitchen

The plant-powered kitchen need not be magazine-gorgeous and outfitted with the latest gadgets and appliances. These things would be nice, of course, but they’re not required to create delicious meals. Still, an assortment of basic tools can make life in the kitchen easier and, in some cases, more enjoyable. Just as with pantry items, you don’t have to run out and buy all these items at once—or at all. These are tools I enjoy having in my kitchen and that you might, too, as as you begin to enjoy more plant-based meals. Everyone has their favorite kitchen helpers; for me, these first four items are must-haves:

Food processor: A food processor’s multiple uses—chopping, grating, and pureeing— make it your best friend among kitchen tools. If you get one of the name brands and take care of it, it may outlive you! I’ve had the same Cuisinart food processor for at least fifteen years, and it shows little sign of slowing down.

Wire whisk or coated wire whisk: This inexpensive tool helps make sauces, dressings, and gravies, and it helps when cooking fine grains (such as polenta) to lump-free textures. For cake and pancake batters that come out smooth without overbeating, a whisk is a must.

Kitchen shears: Shears, or kitchen scissors, have endless uses in the kitchen—cutting long Asian noodles, thinly slicing scallions and basil leaves, opening packages, even cutting pizza into wedges if you don’t have a pizza wheel.

Stir-fry pan: This type of wok-shaped pan will serve you well if you enjoy making stir- fries. It’s easier to deal with, in many ways, than a traditional wok—from cleaning to storage. If you make plenty of dishes involving quick-cooked veggies, you’ll get a lot of use from a good stir-fry pan. The one made by Circulon, with a hard-anodized surface, has served me well. Here are a few more items that are quite useful; while they’re not absolute necessities, having any of them adds to the ease and enjoyment of your life in the kitchen!

Immersion blender: If you have no room for a full-fledged blender, or don’t want to spring for one, an immersion blender can do a lot of the same tricks. My favorite way to use it is for pureeing soups in the same pot in which they cook. With it, there’s no need to transfer hot ingredients in and out of a food processor or blender. Easy to use, even easier to clean, and costing a fraction of what a food processor or blender costs, immersion blenders like this one by Cuisinartare also good for making smoothies and velvety sauces.

Pizza pan or pizza stone: A pizza pan is nothing more than a large round pan designed for baking pizzas. And a pizza stone is just that—a smooth round stone used for the same purpose. A stone ensures crisper crusts and is more tolerant of sharp pizza wheels. With veggie-driven pizzas in regular rotation in our home, both these tools have seen much use. If you like to make pizza, they won’t break the bank.

Salad spinner: A salad spinner isn’t an absolute must have. Even as a huge fan of salads of all kinds, I did without one for a long time. But once I finally got one and started using it, I was sold! I regret all those paper towels I wasted, blotting delicate leaves for salads and wraps and pressing liquid from kale before massaging it or making kale chips. Asalad spinner works kind of like the spin cycle in your washing machine, except that it needs no electricity.

Nut chopper or grinder: I enjoy my nut chopper, which grinds a few nuts at a time into a container, making the process easy and neat. While you can definitely live without it, nut enthusiasts will enjoy this item. It’s handy for turning nuts into a tasty topping for noodle dishes, grains, salads, and cereals.

Tofu press: Despite the fact I’ve been using and enjoying tofu for ages, this is the most recent addition to my roster of favorite kitchen tools. Tofu presses are simple devices using springs or tightening bolts to extract water from tofu efficiently, without any further weights and using no paper towels whatsoever! I enjoy both theEZ Tofu Press and the TofuXpress, which work a bit differently from each other but are both quite handy.

Produce keepers: Especially in the summertime, when garden are bursting with greens and farm market season is in full swing, produce keepers (such as the ones pictured in the first photo above) really do extend the life of produce. Of course, it’s ideal to use produce as soon as possible after you harvest or purchase it, but these kinds of containers extend freshness when need be.

 

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Black Bean Tostadas

A tostada is a crisp tortilla piled generously with any variety of toppings, often including beans, crisp lettuce, and salsa. Good accompaniments include: baked potatoes or sweet potatoes; or fresh corn on the cob. Add a salad and/or a simple steamed veggies, you’ve got an easy weeknight meal or fun quick fare to serve company.

 

Serves: 4 (2 tostadas per serving)

 Ingredients:

  • 8 good-quality corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
  • 1 medium onion or two shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 15-to 16-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed,
or 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon, or more, to taste
  • 1 to 2 small hot green chili peppers, seeded and sliced, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

Garnishes:

  • Shredded lettuce, baby greens, or baby spinach
  • Plenty of mild, medium, or hot chunky salsa, such as chipotle, peach or mango
  • Store-bought or homemade Vegan Sour Cream or Cashew Cream

Directions:

To toast the torillas in the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and dry and just starting to be touched with golden brown spots. Remove them from the oven and place on a serving platter.

To toast the tortillas on a stovetop: Heat a large skillet. Toast the tortillas over medium heat (two or three at a time, depending on the size of the skillet) for about 5 minutes or so on each side, until crisp and touched with golden brown spots. Don’t be afraid to let them get nice and crisp—that’s better than ending up with a soggy tostada.

Heat the oil, broth, or water in medium skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients (aside from the garnishes, of course) along with 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Using a potato masher, mash some of the beans so that the liquid becomes thick and saucy.

Place the shredded lettuce, sour cream, and salsa in separate serving bowls and let everyone assemble their tostadas as follows: A layer of shredded lettuce; the black bean mixture; salsa; and sour cream. Pick up the tostadas and eat out of hand (with plenty of napkins!).

 

Recipe and excerpt from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas. ©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. 

 

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Raw Taco Salad with Spicy Chipotle Aioli and Cashew Sour Cream

Raw Taco Salad with Spicy Chipotle Aioli and Cashew Sour CreamThe “meat” for this taco salad is so simple it almost seems like there are ingredients or a few steps missing, but it really is just sunflower seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, and some spices mixed together in a food processor. The end result is super tasty, and it can be used in traditional corn or flour taco shells, as well as raw lettuce leaf shells if you’d prefer handheld tacos instead of a salad. The combination of chipotle aioli and taco “meat” can be a little on the spicy side, so I’ve included cashew sour cream to cool things down.

 

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Raw Taco Salad

Ingredients:

For the Taco “Meat”

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 6 sun-dried tomato halves (not the oil soaked type)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (recipe follows)

For the Spicy Chipotle Aioli

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

For the Cashew Sour Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

For the Salad

  • 6 cups romaine lettuce, shredded (about 1 large head or two small heads)
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/3 cup black olives, chopped

 

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Directions:

For the Taco “Meat”

Soak the seeds and sun-dried tomatoes in water for two to four hours. Rinse and drain well. Place the sunflower seeds and sun-dried tomatoes in food processor fitted with an S-blade, along with the taco seasoning. Process until sunflower seeds are well ground and all of the tomatoes are chopped. Set aside.

For the Spicy Chipotle Aioli

Mix all of the ingredients together in a high powered blender. Set aside.

For the Cashew Sour Cream

Mix all of the ingredients together in a high powered blender. Set aside.

For the Salad

Divide all of the salad ingredients among 4 plates. Top with the taco “meat”, spicy chipotle aioli and cashew sour cream. Enjoy!

 

Serves 4

 

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

 

Directions:

Mix everything together in a small jar. That’s it!

 

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Vegan Tacos Guest Post, Recipe and Giveaway

Vegan Tacos CoverI’m thrilled to be hosting Chef Jason Wyrick on his Vegan Tacos blog tour today. Jason is her with tips on pairing drinks with tacos, a recipe for margaritas from his new book, and a chance for you to win a copy of Vegan Tacos.

 

If you don’t have a copy of Vegan Tacos yet, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy one, because this is one cookbook you’re going to want in your collection. Chef Jason Wyrick says this book isn’t just about tacos, “it’s about bringing the authentic Mexican taco experience into the vegan world.” He did tons of research, improved his Spanish skills, and even traveled to Mexico in order to write about and veganize traditional tacos. Some of the tasty tacos you’ll find within the pages of Vegan Tacos include Vampire Tacos (named after the way the tortilla curls up and resembles bat wings), Guacamole Tacos, Cactus Tacos, and Tacos Veracruz. There are fusion tacos, dessert tacos, and even breakfast tacos. You’ll also find recipes for everything that goes with tacos, from fresh tortillas and drinks to hot sauces and salsas. It’s not all just recipes though, Jason also delves into taco  history and anthropology, and taco culture, and he also talks about his family’s personal experience with Mexican cuisine.

 

Without further ado, here’s Jason…

Tacos, Tequila and Mezcal

Tacos, Tequila, and Mezcal: How to Pair Your Tacos with the Right Drink

While there isn’t really a wrong drink to serve with tacos, the right drink can make the experience truly memorable. Coffee, tea, handcrafted sodas, beer, tequila, mezcal. Where to start? When it comes to choosing the right drink to serve with your delicious taco creations, a few simple guidelines can point you in the right direction.

 

1. Choose Similar Flavor Elements, Not Combative Elements

I think a good drink should serve as a palate cleanser between bites, but it should absolutely never serve as a palate fighter. More important than choosing a drink that contains elements found in your food (high notes, citrus notes, caramelization, etc.) is choosing one that does not actively fight those notes. For example, a crisp vanilla soda served with some spicy tacos tempura dressed with lemon or lime sounds pretty good. A crisp vanilla soda served with tacos topped with pickled onions sounds, let’s just say, not so good. That’s why this rule is the most important of all.

 

2. Dark Roasted vs. Smoky vs. Crisp Beers

While there are seven different major flavor-profiles for beer, I typically parse them down into these three categories when deciding what to serve with my tacos. Here’s a simple set of rules. If a taco has heavy, deep flavors, like caramelization, roasted garlic, grill char, etc., then go with a heavier flavored beer like a dark roasted beer or a smoky beer. If the tacos have bright, clean flavors that you get from ingredients like lots of lime, pickled onions, or fresh herbs, pair them with a clean crisp beer. This way, the flavors of the beer complement the flavor of your food instead of fighting with it.

 

My Recommendations: Stone Smoked Porter and North Coast Brewing Brother Thelonious Ale for the heavier flavored tacos. For the brighter tacos, Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA is perfect.

 

3. Two Types of Heat Call for Two Types of Drinks

I find there are two types of heat. There’s that intense heat that hits you right up front. It makes your tongue jump and if you’re a spice addict like I am, you can’t wait to take another bite. Think chiles de arbol, fresh serranos, and habaneros. Then there is the type of heat I call a back-end heat. It takes a few seconds to build, but when it does, it feels like it suffuses your entire mouth. Think chipotles, roasted guajillo chiles, and fire-roasted chiles.

 

For the up-front heat, I prefer crisp light beers and wines. Like the intense up-front heat, they tend to show their flavor profiles right away. For the back-end heat, I prefer full-bodied beers and wines. These drinks tend to take a few seconds to assimilate, just like tacos with a back-end heat. It’s all about matching elements.

 

My Recommendations: For the up-front heat, I like Dos Equis, Tripel Karmeliet, or a Gewurtztraminer or a Sauvignon Blanc. For the back-end heat tacos, I like Bohemia Obscura, Gulden Draak, or even a strong Riesling. The wines are all white because they tend to play nicer with all the elements of a taco.

 

4. Tequila or Mezcal?

Tequila typically has a smoother taste than mezcal, while mezcal is a little more complex and smoky. When a taco has grilled, smoky, or caramelized flavors, I prefer the smoky complexity of mezcal or tequila anejo. Tequila anejo has been aged one to three years, allowing it to develop fairly complex flavors. When a taco has citrus flavors, fresh herbal flavors, or lighter veggie flavors, like lightly cooked zucchini, I prefer tequila blanco or tequila reposado. Tequila blanco has only been aged for about a month and is pretty straightforward and clean in taste and reposado is right between a blanco and an anejo. The cleaner flavors of these tequilas seem to pair well with fresher flavors in tacos.

 

Note: Don’t waste your money on expensive tequila or mezcal if you are serving those with your tacos. Your tacos will overwhelm some of the nuance of those drinks. Either serve those higher end drinks before or after taco time so you can fully appreciate them. During taco time, I typically go for a mid-range tequila or mezcal. Keep in mind that because mezcal is not as popular as tequila, it’s produced in small specialty batches, so it’s a bit pricier. Finally, make sure your bottle does not say “gusano de maguey.” That means it has a worm.

 

My Recommendations: The Casa del Sol and Casa Noble lines of tequila are reasonably priced, outstanding tequilas. For Mezcal, I’ve been enjoying Los Amantes and Del Maguey.

 

5. Playing Nice with Capsaicin Means Stronger Drinks!

Capsaicin is the molecule in chiles that generates heat. The more capsaicin, the hotter the taste. Capsaicin, however, is not water soluble. That means if you drink your tacos with water, tea, coffee, or soda, they are going to taste spicier because the water will wash the capsaicin molecules all around your mouth. Because soda is fizzy, it will pop that capsaicin around even more! If you want your food to taste spicier, these drinks are perfectly fine.

 

Capsaicin is, however, alcohol soluble. That means the more alcoholic your drink is, the more the heat will be toned down, and not just because you consumed copious amounts of it. The alcohol will dissolve the capsaicin and tone down your food. To notice an effect, though, you’ll need a drink with a strong alcohol content. Beer does not usually do the trick. Plus, it’s fizzy and mostly water.

 

One exception to this is agua frescas. Agua frescas are cold, sweet, smooth drinks. Usually, they are based on pureed fruits or berries. Because they are cold, they are refreshing and because they are sweet, they balance the sensation of heat.

 

My Recommendations: Consider a sipping drink like tequila blanco or even something strong like whiskey. My real preference, though, is to keep a pineapple or mango agua fresca on hand.

 

 

 

Grilled Lime Margarita

Grilled Lime Margarita with Mesquite Smoked Salt

Margaritas are great when they are made with fresh lime and good alcohol. It’s a classic drink that’s now part of the Mexican experience. I wanted to change things up a bit and make something a little darker, a little more mysterious and alluring. That’s what the mezcal and the smoke are to me. It permeates the entire drink, from the char of the grilled limes to the smoky mezcal to the shot of smoked salt on the rim of the glass. You can, of course, forgo grilling the limes and just use regular salt and good tequila blanco to make the classic margarita, but I hope you find the smoky version I created here to a sultry companion to your tacos.

 

Makes 4 Drinks

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 large limes, cut in half diagonally (see note)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 4 shots mezcal or tequila reposado or añejo
  • 
6 tablespoons (2 shots) Cointreau or other good quality orange liqueur
  • Mesquite smoked salt
  • Sprinkle coarse sugar
  • Option: Make it spicy by placing a dried chipotle meco at the bottom of each glass

Note:

I cut limes in half diagonally because it exposes more surface area of the lime to be grilled and it also makes them easier to juice.

Preparation:

Grill the limes until they develop blackened char lines. This will take about 5 minutes. Ideally, you should do this over a wood fire, but you can still do it with a gas grill. Flip the limes over and grill the round sides of the lime halves. This will further cook the lime and mellow out the flavor. Juice the limes into a pitcher or a bowl. Keep the lime rinds Stir the agave into the lime juice until they are thoroughly combined. Mix in the shots of mezcal and Cointreau. Take the inside of the juiced lime rinds and rim 4 margarita glasses. Sprinkle mesquite smoked salt and just a touch of sugar around the rim of the glasses. Add the margarita mix to the glasses and serve. This should be served at room temperature and not over ice, which does not play well with the smoky components.

 

From Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick. ©2014 Jason Wyrick. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.
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Dr. Fuhrman