Sunday, July 31, 2011


My three week Vegan trial is over - and here is the result:

I'm not Vegan.

I have learned over the last several weeks what it means to be Vegan. It's so much more than a way to eat. Animal rights figure into every single decision. I admire the Vegans I have met - while I do believe in most of what they do, I don't necessarily agree with it all. It's a hard balance for me - growing up in a way that taught me reverence for every living being did not mean to not eat meat, but to raise the animal humanely and use every bit of it for something when killed for the family table. I did not like meat - and most of our dinners had names - it was a pretty easy jump for me to become Vegetarian almost as soon as I left my parent's home. What made me every stray, I really don't know - but I am very happy to be back to full-fledged Vegetarianism.

Here is the real result of my experiment - I have found enough information in the last three weeks to make me realize the health benefits of avoiding dairy and eggs. Honey is a gift from the bees to me and is very healthful. I make many of my herbal preparations with organic, local honey, and will continue to. I will still eat dairy and eggs on occasion, particularly when it appeases family members during holiday meals, etc. When I do, however, I will be sure the animals have been treated well. I am in the process of finding additional sources for small organic humane farm products.

Most of the Vegan options I have found, I will continue to use and like more than the dairy. These include Earth Balance butter replacement - Coconut or Soy milk replacement for half n half - Tofutti sour cream replacer - Tofutti cream cheese replacer - Coconut and Soy ice creams - Daiya cheese replacements. I am still experimenting with cheese replacements and will be posting a comparison soon.

I expect to eat this way at least 98% of the time, but I am not ready to call myself Vegan. Perhaps in the future, maybe even the near future, this will be true.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Zucchini Times - Vegan Stuffed Zucchini

You just can't have the Zucchini Times without at least one stuffed zucchini :) This was a very good stuffing mixture and since I am in my three week vegan living trial, this is completely vegan (which is why the cheese is not melted).

1 gorgeous, yes we still love them, fresh zucchini - size is a matter of preference
1 Italian vegan sausage (mine was homemade, recipe will be posted in the future)
2 Tablespoons quinoa, color does not matter
1/4 cup veggie stock
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 large basil leaves, minced (or 2 tsp dried)
salt and pepper to taste
a pinch of crushed red pepper if your sausage doesn't have it
fresh tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese - I used Vegan Gourmet

Toast the quinoa in a dry pot over medium heat just until you hear it begin to pop, shaking frequently. It will get slightly darker and smell a bit nutty. Add the veggie broth, turn the heat to med-low and cover tightly. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Meanwhile, crumble the veggie sausage into a bowl and add the onion, garlic, and basil. Toss in the cooked quinoa and breadcrumbs. Season to taste - yum.

Halve your zucchini lengthwise - I'd say get a medium, but that can mean a lot of different sizes when you are dealing with zucchinis. If you are growing your own, I'll say it's a 5-7 day old one :)

Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and drop a few drops of olive oil in each. Give it a good massage - inside and out and season with salt and pepper. Stuff the zucchini halves each with half the stuffing. Coat the bottom of a baking dish with a bit of the tomato sauce (how much is your preference). Carefully set the stuffed zucchini in and cover with foil, being careful not to touch your lovely stuffing with the foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (more or less, depending on the size of your zucc). Uncover and add your cheese. Back into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Plate and enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Zucchini Times - Chick Pea Salad

Yea, I know - there's no zucchini in chick pea salad. There is when you're eating your harvest and the cukes aren't ripe yet!  - and it's actually pretty darned good :)

Chick Pea Salad with Zucchini
1 15 oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans - organic if you can)
1 small onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
4 basil leaves, torn
1 lemon, juice and zest
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 chive, diced (if you have it)
1 pinch crushed red pepper
salt and black pepper to taste

Put first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Mix next 5 ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. Pour jar into bowl and add salt & pepper as needed.

Great side dish or lunch :)


Going Vegan: It's been a week

I'm really feeling pretty good - and liking following my own beliefs a lot more. Danny and I have really had a great week, though occasionally stressing a little over 'what to eat.' The truth is, when you eat vegetarian, you can make an entire meal out of anything you have a lot of, and other staples from the kitchen. For real, you ALWAYS can make an awesome meal - use your creativity, or search a good vegetarian cookbook.

When eating vegan, it's almost as easy - check for animal products - dairy, cheese, honey, dry milk, eggs, egg powder or beaters. Veganism goes a lot further than what you eat. There are animal products in body care products, your clothing, household products - a LOT of things. In this way, I am not vegan yet. I have leather shoes, use a lotion I see has dry milk as an ingredient, I haven't done the research on every single thing I use in my daily life - I did even find my favorite vegetarian cheese contains a bit of casein - which makes it NOT vegan. I've been using rice cheese substitutes, and they do not at all compare - don't believe what is on the package - I haven't found a rice cheese that melts yet.

Okay, so tonight, we have our first ripe tomato :) It's a beefsteak, and we're having  BLTs - I've got homemade wheat bread, Lightlife veggie bacon,  and vegan nayonnaise. We're having homemade french fries (baked potato strips) and vegan cole slaw (previous recipe) and fresh canteloupe.

Two more weeks - who knows?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Preserving the Harvest: Freezing Beans

We could can green beans, but we like the texture and flavor of freezing them a lot more. We do our best to can and dry much of the harvest so we use as little energy as possible (none) to store it. There are some things though, like beans, that just taste better frozen.

Wash your beans. De-stem and snap, if desired. If it has been a muddy harvest, wash again.

Set a large pot of water to boil. When you are happy with the cleanliness of your green beans, submerge them into the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the size of the beans).

Remove beans to a towel and allow to cool completely.

Divide into amounts you will need for a meal and place in heavy freezer bags (we've not been able to come up with a more ecological solution for this). Squeeze out as much air as you can and zip closed.

Label and freeze.

Another vegetable that is surprisingly good this way is beets. Wash and roast beets in a 350-degree oven or a grill. Peel, de-stem/root, and cut into the size you would like. Cool completely and freeze in heavy freezer bags. When you want these in the middle of winter, remove from freezer bag and place in 350-degree oven. They will taste like you just roasted them in about 20 minutes!

Corn is usually best frozen, as are cole crops - broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts. I steam all sorts of greens, from spinach and chard, to beet greens and dandelions, and be sure to press all of the water out and freeze in small batches.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Going Vegan - Day 6

I'm really happy with the way I eat, but still not sure I'm really vegan. That said, I had an awesome vegan dinner and desert :)

I made a totally vegan cheeseburger sub - with vegan mayo, tofutti american cheese, and Boca burgers. It was AWESOME :) The chips are UTZ reduced calorie Sour Cream and Onion - made with whey, they actually have protein content. I had peanut butter swirl coconut ice cream for desert and it ROCKED :)

I think you can find products to make anything you want vegan. I was completely satisfied with this Friday night dinner - it's low calorie, nothing bad for you , and vegan. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Going Vegan - Day 4 - I think I can

I feel really good - and I'm not really missing cheese :) Danny is really being very supportive. He got me a new book - The Vegan Table: 200 Unforgettable Recipes for Entertaining Every Guest at Every Occasion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and we are finding tons of yummy recipes. This book helped me get over my first fear - that my favorite staple food, pizza, would be off limits. She has several vegan pizza recipes in the book that inspire much more flavorful pies. I am starting to wonder why I ever liked the cheese-laden slices I was used to eating. There are also some good recipes for 'cheese' sauces, cheese block and tempeh bacon, which will come in handy when those tomatoes get ripe!

I also check quite a bit. There are very inventive recipes here for just about anything you could crave - including vegan fried chicken - hmmm.

I've found that I have to eat a lot more to keep my blood sugar stable, but I'm eating mostly fruits and veggies. I've been so busy that I haven't experimented too much with different recipes. I'm really happy with what I've tried so far.

The only cheese issue I really am having is eating out. We are going out for dinner one day next week to our favorite restaurant, where I have several vegetarian favorites - but they all have cheese. I'm not sure what to order.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Zucchini Times - BBQ Sandwich with Vegan Cole Slaw

I love barbecue tofu sandwiches - we decided to use a zucchini in this also and the result was a moister, very yummy sandwich. I blogged about this one in my Going Vegan adventures.

BBQ Tofu and Zucchini Sandwich
1 cake extra firm tofu, pressed to drain off extra liquid (freezing first works wonders), thickly sliced
1 medium zucchini, cut in half, then sliced lengthwise (peel if you'd like)
1/2 cup of your favorite barbeque sauce

Arrange the tofu and zucchini slices in a shallow pan or on a cookie sheet. Brush all sides with barbeque sauce and allow to marinate for about 20 minutes. Light your grill or warm the grill pan. Place the zucchini and tofu directly on the grill - brush with barbeque sauce. Watch carefully, they will not take long. Turn and brush frequently until all are caramelized. Remove from grill and keep warm.

Assemble the sandwich
We used a whole grain wheat bun, topped with a slice of zucchini, two slices of tofu, about 1/4 cup of vegan cole slaw (recipe follows), and a homemade dill pickle (my brother's recipe). Feel free to slather with additional barbeque sauce if you'd like.

Vegan Cole Slaw
1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons soy milk
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon celery salt
Black pepper

Mix mayo, milk, vinegar, sugar, and celery seed and whisk until smooth. Pour over cabbage and carrots in bowl - mix and add black pepper to taste.


Goin Vegan - Day 2 - Messed up Already

Today went pretty good - I even slightly noticed I was feeling a little better - well, at least until the total mental breakdown (work related, not food).

For breakfast, Kashi Golden Goodness with soy milk and tea with soy creamer - this is pretty standard workday quick breakfast, so I won't repeat myself.

Lunch was a vegan Boca burger with leftover vegan cole slaw and a slice of Rice Vegan cheese. Don't believe what they tell you on the label - Rice Vegan does NOT melt. Okay, so I haven't yet found a way to make it melt.

Dinner was awesome - we picked the rest of the spring lettuce in the garden, an onion, and a cucumber we didn't realize was there (no, it wasn't huge). We also grabbed a few basil leaves and some chives and tossed these in with our green salad. We had leftover chick pea salad and a slice of homemade wheat bread with this.

So, where did I screw up? I normally make my own salad dressing. I was tired tonite (remember the breakdown?) and just drizzled some Newman's Own Family Italian on my salad, since that is what Danny was using. It wasn't until later that I realized there was romano cheese in the dressing. What? Yea, of course there is, but I hadn't thought of it until later.

It's okay - I better planned for tomorrow!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Going Vegan - Day 1

My first wholly vegan day was pretty awesome. For breakfast, I had French toast - homemade ciabatta, dipped in soy milk, and lightly pan fried in Earth Balance. At the last minute, I tossed in some raspberries and blueberries from the garden - poured over the toast and added maple syrup.

For lunch, leftover pizza we made Friday night. We make our own pizza crust and our own sauce. I considered adding a vegan mozzarella - but I have fresh herbs in the garden and I had some leftover olives, so I thought I could make a really tasty pizza with no cheese. And I did :)

Dinner was a Barbeque Tofu and Zucchini sandwich with Vegan Cole Slaw (recipes forthcoming).

No cravings for anything and nothing much different than most days.


The Zucchini Times - The Vegetarian Italian Hero

This is so awesome - you'll grow more zucchini (and eggplants, and tomatoes, and basil) to have it at least once a week!

The Vegetarian Italian Hero
1 loaf ciabatta bread - homemade or purchased
1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise
1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 roasted red pepper
1 fresh tomato, sliced
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Bragg's Liquid Aminos
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup basil pesto - homemade or purchased
1/4 cup olive tapenade - homemade or purchased
4 slices of good quality provolone cheese, halved
extra olive oil as needed

Combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, Bragg's, and salt & pepper to taste. Place in a shallow pan and toss the sliced zucchini and eggplant in the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, lite the grill. When marinated, grill the zucchini and eggplant until softer and caramelized. Slice the loaf of ciabatta in half and drizzle each half with olive oil. Grill, cut side down until lightly toasted. When all are grilled, assemble sandwich.

Spread the basil pesto on the bottom half of the bread. Next, layer half of the provolone, then the tomatoes, the eggplant, the zucchini, the roasted red pepper, and another layer of provolone. You could add a few fresh oregano leaves to the center if you'd like.

Spread the top half of the bread with the olive tapenade. Carefully put the top on the sandwich. Press the sandwich down and wrap tightly with foil (recycled if available). Put the whole sandwich on the grill for 4 minutes per side. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Slice and enjoy with a glass of wine!


The Zucchini Times

So here we are again - it's zucchini time. This year, we have 6 zucchini plants (yes, I think we've all established long ago that we ARE crazy).  In this time of frugality, we felt it extremely important not to squander any gift of nature. We bought no seeds this year, opting to plant the leftovers from last year, and some - including the zucchini - from years before that. So, when 6 came up, it's 6 we kept.

Even though I've diligently picked zucchini every single day since seeing that first succulent morsel attached to it's flower, barely a baby zucc - we still got the monster already!

In case you forgot how to deal with these, see our step-by-step Zucchini Relish post from last year's harvest. We'll be posting our zucchini recipes as we come up with them this year - stay tuned!


Going Vegan

I've been eating vegetarian again for about 6 months, finally realizing this is who I really am and that it's okay if Danny wants to eat meat - I don't have to. Over these last 6 months, I have lost over 40 pounds and 10 inches. I am obviously right about who I am :)

Last month, Dan picked up Kathy Freston's Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World. So much of what I found in this book rang true to me, from poisons in our food, to the real causes of cancer, and the inhumane treatment of animals. I immediately began rethinking everything I was eating - no longer eating anything made with eggs unless the eggs came from my own coddled hens. Casein became an enemy - causing cancer almost as certainly as bleach will. I even investigated the alcohol we drink - and personal products we are using.

As I started to eat a lot more vegan, I also realized there are some substitutions that don't make sense to me. I have found artificial colors and trans fats in many substitute products. I am certainly still learning this way of life - even having been vegetarian for several years in the 70's-80's, veganism is new to me.

Today I am starting a three week journey into strict veganism. I look at it as an adventure - one that might continue on for the rest of my life. There is a part of me that feels true authenticity can't be found in substitutes. This doesn't mean I won't carry on vegan - but may give up the substitutes altogether.

That said, I'm still looking for a good vegan parmesan cheese ....