Notes From The Vegan Underground

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I’m still here, dear readers. Just focusing on work and other personal projects besides food.

Here are a few of my latest personal inspirations:

Caitlin Shoemaker, Food and Healthy Lifestyle Blogger

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This young lady has single-handedly re-inspired my cooking. That’s a big deal. She’s super-sweet and utterly obsessed with healthy lifestyle and healthful, tasty, whole food, low oil/no oil cooking.

In particular she has inspired my latest breakfast craze, the best granola recipe I’ve found so far and I’ve been eating and making granola for thirty years! There are so many more of her recipes in my queue just waiting to happen! Check her out on YouTube and her website, frommybowl.com  is pretty awesome as well!

Oat Milk

My latest discovery and I am so happy for it. I heard Michelle and Matt talking about oat milk on a recent Thug Kitchen podcast, Forked Up and I thought I would give it a try. Even the best store brand had added sugar so I decided to make my own.

A gamechanger! I first tried it with cheesecloth and then graduated to a nut milk bag which is phenomenal!

HOW TO MAKE OAT MILK from simpleveganblog.com.

Super-simple to make, just oats and water. The flavor is so pure and just works perfectly in recipes, too.

Till next time, friends!

Eat well and be well 🙂

Melanie

 

 

Two Bean and Bulgar Chili

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I came across this recipe, while sifting through a drawer. It was a page torn from one of those little paperback supermarket cookbooks at the register called “Meatless Meals”.

There is a handwritten note beside the recipe, “Steve’s favorite 2005”. This little memory jog took me right back to that year when I first met the man who would become my husband, though neither of us knew it yet.

Neither could we imagine the journey we would share–a winding path filled with surprises, some happy, some sad and some bursting with instantaneous joy and laughter.

Two-Bean and Bulgar Chili

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium carrot, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups water

1/2 cup uncooked bulgar wheat

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

Method:

Saute in oil over medium-high heat, carrot, bell pepper, onion and garlic; cook and stir 4 minutes.

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Stir in remaining ingredients, except beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 40 minutes, until bulgar is tender and flavors are blended, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

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Add drained beans and simmer 5 minutes until heated through. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

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I am really glad this recipe was Steve’s favorite back in 2005, because that was long before we  became vegan. What an evolution together, over time, to a more compassionate lifestyle, a deeper enjoyment of food and a more humble appreciation for nature.

I am ever grateful for my husband’s love and support on my personal journey, and I can’t imagine a better partner with whom to share the ride.

Cheezy Sauce

You don’t have to give up nachos for a vegan diet, most of us know that now. With all the “faux” cheeses available, there’s no excuse not to give up that one dairy food that keeps many of us on the fence between vegetarian and vegan.

That being said– I have a real problem with processed fake cheese products. Number one, the fat content is super high. The sodium is often very high as well. I try to stick pretty close to nature in my dishes, and I found a really great all-purpose cheezy sauce recipe in “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

I took their already wonderful recipe and tweaked it just a bit,  removing the oil, thus creating a fat-free sauce that tastes great! Pour it over baked nacho chips with all the fixins’ and I promise you will never miss that extra fat and calories.

Cheezy Sauce

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon water

3 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of dried thyme (crumbled in your fingers)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard

Method:

Combine the broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved ( a couple of lumps are okay). Preheat a non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the water and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the thyme, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the broth, turmeric, and yeast flakes, and raise the heat to medium. Use a plastic coated whisk to stir constantly. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn’t, turn the heat a bit higher.

Once the mixture is bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and mustard. Taste for salt, turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep warm until ready to use. Serve warm.

Blueberry Cheezecake

One of the foods many vegans reluctantly let go of is cream cheese–most eventually finding consolation for the morning bagel in the form of hummus or any one of a dozen different kinds of nut butters available on the market.

One food that’s seemingly impossible to duplicate, however, or find a suitable whole food replacement for,  is cheesecake. It makes me realize how truly decadent that dessert is.

Now, I know there is this substance called “Better than Cream Cheese”. However, it is off the deal, due to it’s high fat content and it is full of additives. I prefer to stick with more natural ingredients. Enter the Golden Cheesecake from fellow blogger, Playful and Hungry

I added a graham cracker walnut crust and a sweet, organic blueberry topping and voila! Of course it tastes nothing like traditional cheesecake, but in my opinion plant-strong recipes always end up tasting better all around. And I get the bonus of knowing that I just ate real food that will fuel my body.

Cilantro Lime Salsa

 

 

Tonight was nacho night and we made the grocery run for the usual ingredients:  black beans, corn, serrano peppers, tortilla chips. When we got to the salsa aisle, though, the labels stopped me dead in my tracks.

I couldn’t bring myself to buy jarred salsa, knowing what I know now, about the acceptable ratio of sodium to calories per serving. The healthy ratio is 1:1. For example if the salsa contains 10 calories per serving, it should contain no more than 10 milligrams of sodium per serving. Pace brand salsa, has 230 milligrams per 10 calorie serving (2 Tbsp.). Who eats only 2 tablespoons of salsa?

So, I decided to create my own salsa, using salt-free canned tomatoes. It was actually very easy and quick. And tasted way better than salsa from a jar!

Cilantro Lime Salsa

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice, no salt added

1/4 onion, red or white, finely diced

1-2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

1/2 fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely minced (optional)

Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of one fresh lime

Sea salt to taste

Method:

Combine all ingredients well and taste for seasoning. Add sea salt as desired.  Store in airtight container in refrigerator at least 1/2 hour to allow flavors to blend. Keeps about 1 week, refrigerated. Happy, healthy munching!

“Oh, You Beautiful Dal”

I read somewhere…the spices in Indian food can purify and heal the body. I do believe this to be true. I can almost feel it, when I enjoy a warm, fragrant bowl of Indian dal. Maybe it’s the heat of the cayenne and ginger, or the smoky cumin and turmeric that seduces me into a state of near-euphoria. All I know is I crave Indian flavors and enjoy them whenever I can.

Our favorite spot for Indian delights is Bombay Cafe in Fort Lauderdale. We have been known to make the hour drive just to indulge our craving for spice!  Continue reading

Marsala Mushroom Gravy

Monday is typically my take it easy night in the kitchen. Back to work after the weekend, and I stayed up later than usual last night. Mashers are my go-to comfort food on days like this. Back in the day these would have been full of butter and milk. And gravy? I could whisk up a roux like nobody’s business.

It may seem too good to be true, but today’s dish contains only a tiny amount of fat (from the soy milk) and absolutely no animal products. And it is even more flavorful and satisfying than the traditional preparation. Continue reading

Low Fat Hummus

My favorite lunch!

I absolutely love hummus! I also love creating my own, with organic chickpeas, sesame tahini and fresh lemons. I can control the amount of salt and fat–and I really love that! Tahini is quite high in fat actually, but a little goes a long way to adding that distinctive flavor in this recipe and it is the only added fat. Continue reading

Oil-Free Vegan Pasta Primavera

Ok, so I’m back on my healthy eating and exercise plan. Working out, eating plenty of fresh veggies. Pasta is my favorite comfort food, second only to mashed potatoes…yum! But that’s another post for another day.

This primavera has a rich, flavorful sauce made from raw cashews. It’s a great sauce for macaroni and (not) cheese, pizza, nachos, steamed broccoli and it’s crazy good on mashed potatoes. There I go again. Continue reading