Posts tagged vegan

Pinterest Inspired Spooky Smokey Spider Dip

Spooky Smokey Spider Dip

Pinterest Inspired Spooky Smokey Spider Dip. Ha! That’s a tongue twister.

If you are need a fun appetizer for your Halloween festivities this weekend, you really have to try this 5 minute dip! It’s about 5 minutes after you fumble around filling your cake decorator pouch with the vegan sour cream… You can always use a parchment paper cone! It’s also only 5 minutes if you have pre-made your guacamole or are using store bought. It’s up to you!

I love how the flavors came together on this one. So, do exactly as I say. Lol… ok, I just wanted to say that. Do whatever you want. Use your favorite salsa and vegan cheese but if you can trust me and my suggestions… you will like this! It’s just different enough that it’s not another regular old 5 layer dip.. blah blah blah. The salsa that I like gives this that spookiness… I mean smokiness.

First, make the vegan sour cream

Ingredients

  • A Half Block of Firm Tofu, Undrained
  • White Wine Vinegar, 1 to 2 tsp. Start with one.
  • Lemon Juice, about 1/2 Lemon Squeezed
  • Sea Salt *Optional
  • Agave *Optional

Directions

Add the undrained tofu to a high power blender, add the other ingredients minus the salt and agave. Blend, taste and adjust seasonings. I like to add a pinch of salt and a drop or two of agave just to round things out. See what you need. This should have a nice tang, like traditional sour cream.

Add your sour cream to the cake decorating bag with a small writing tip or use a parchment paper cone. See above.

Next, put together the dip

Ingredients

  • 1 Can of Refried Black Beans ( I used Whole Foods brand)
  • 1/2 Cup (guestimate) of Salsa. (I recommend Salpica Brand Rustic Tomato with Roasted Garlic. This is the key ingredient that makes the dish)
  • 3/4 Cup of the new Go Veggie Vegan Mexican Style Shreds
  • 1 Cup of fresh made Guacamole  (homemade or store bought.)
  • Tofu Sour Cream (Homemade – see above, or Tofutti brand)
  • Spices of Cumin, Chili Powder, Sea Salt or…. Pre-made Taco Seasoning
  • Scary spiders for the top
  • Fun Platter for Serving
  • Chips! You”ll need Tortilla Chips. We love Organic Blue Corn. But, what tasted great with this was Frontera brand with Lime and Sea Salt… it gave it an extra boost

Directions

Spread a full can of refried black beans into a nice flatish circle on the platter. Next, sprinkle some cumin, chili powder and sea salt… I just guessed it. You can also mix the beans with the spices first and taste and adjust before spreading, but I was feeling too lazy for this.

Next, spoon the salsa over the beans and spread it out being sure to still see the beans around the edge.

Then, over the salsa sprinkle the shredded vegan cheese, being sure to still see a salsa edge.

Spoon the guacamole in the center and spread out, being sure to see the cheese layer (I’m sure by now you get that each layer is smaller).

Last, take your cake decorator tube and draw your lovely spider web. Start in the center and draw your spider web. Top with the spiders, serve with chips and have a spooktacular time!

My Notes: I found this dip on Pinterest, here is the recipe but it doesn’t look like the original. It seems the original was lost in translation. That’s a shame. If you know it, let me know so I can give proper credit. Of course I veganized this and made it my own, which is always fun to do!

The new Mexican style shreds are great for this dip but don’t try in a quesadilla :( we were sorely disappointed with the drippy mess. We prefer Daiya for those.

I made this for Taco Tuesday this week and I should of heated the beans first, because it was for our family that planned to eat it right away. For the party, I didn’t bother heating it up, because dips sit around a while anyway.

This is a guess regarding how much of each ingredient. Make it to your liking and most of all, have fun with it.

Whip up a huge batch of my favorite Guacomole, carve a small pumpkin, and serve this along with it ~

puking pumpkin with guacamole

This idea seemed a bit over done to me, but I did it anyway, and I’m glad. It was a hit at our pumpkin carving party this year!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!!

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

 

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Favorite Vegan Macaroni and Cheese All-In-One Casserole

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Welcome Fall!

It’s my favorite time of the year for comforting and flavorful meals.

Piping hot casseroles, stews and soups. I’m all for it!

I know you and your family will love my revamped vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe that I want to share. This is an update to the  3-Way Mac-n-Cheese post from forever ago.

Even though there are ten thousand delicious vegan mac-n-cheese casseroles already out there, this is my default recipe now. Why? Because it is simply a meal in itself. It’s fast and convenient. You don’t have to soak the cashews or thaw the frozen veggies, which makes this so easy to throw together.

That’s right, veggies are involved and smothered in cheese sauce, so 8 year olds gobble it down without complaint. You can even add Gardein Chick’n strips or Beyond Meat grilled or lightly seasoned strips… hence the “all-in-one”.

This recipe always leaves leftovers for our family of three, which I love. Some weeks we get lucky and one night we’ll do a leftover buffet from a few previous meals. Isn’t that the best? As much as I like cooking, I love NOT cooking!

You can serve this with a side salad as you may find you won’t be able to stop eating this casserole. A salad may help to slow you down.

I usually use a lot more broccoli than pictured, but I ran out for this round. I decided it was time to blog it anyway.

In my old post, I talked about not being able to eat nutritional yeast… well, I didn’t realize that as a newer vegan, when I tried nutritional yeast, it was too potent with fiber that my body was not used to. I wrote it off then, but THANKFULLY I gave it another chance after being vegan for a while, and now all is fine in my intestinal world… We can’t get enough of it now. High protein, high fiber, B-12 and cheesy goodness!

You can make this dish gluten free by using brown rice noodles, which we usually opt for. We like Tinkyada brand. For this dish pictured, I used mini wheat elbows for something different (not gluten free). I really like the look of this casserole with a brown rice Fusili noodle, which is mostly what I use. I know I said it would soak up too much liquid in my other post, but we take our chances and it works out fine. I even cut back the liquid from the original recipe in order to make it a thicker sauce. You can always keep it at two cups and add more cashews if necessary.

You’ll have to play around with this recipe depending on your preference and baking dish. I know you’ll make this more than once!

With that said, please take note of the casserole dish I am using, because I feel it needs to be a deeper dish in order to keep the casserole from potentially drying out.

Keep me posted in the comment section if you make this recipe. I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, if you are looking for more recipe ideas or daily inspiration, the best place to follow me is on Instagram at karmatarian, or Facebook. I also have a few recipes over on Pinterest. I usually follow back on Instagram if you aren’t a private user.

Be sure to sign up for email notifications for future blog posts as I post when the mood strikes.

…and it would not be my post without a sarcastic comment about how much I hate the dairy industry!  I’ll leave it to Dr. Klaper and his now famous words from the must see documentary “Cowspiracy”. Listen to what he has to say about baby calf fluid…

 

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Favorite Vegan Macaroni and Cheese All-In-One Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 -16 oz Box or Bag of preferred Pasta Noodles
  • 1 plus 3/4 Cup Non Dairy Milk, Plain
  • 1 Cup of Raw Cashews
  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce (I usually useTamari)
  • 1/2 Lemon – (Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp of Jarred Crushed Garlic
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of frozen Broccoli (guesstimate on the frozen veggies because you can add as much or as little as you like)
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz bag of frozen Green Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs, Gluten Free Bread Crumbs or Panko Crumbs
  • 1 Tbs Melted Coconut Oil or Grapeseed oil
  • Optional Paprika to sprinkle on the top

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Boil  water and cook pasta according the the directions.

While pasta is cooking, add the next 11 ingredients to a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings. It should taste bold as flavor will dissipate a little among the noodles and veggies.

When noodles are finished, drain and pour into a 2.8 Liter oval casserole dish

Mix in the frozen veggies

Mix in optional cooked chick’n (I don’t usually do this, but it is an idea)

*Make sure all ingredients are at least level with the top of the casserole and not overflowing, because you want the sauce to cover everything, or at least have coated the top later.

Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles and veggies and mix well

In a small bowl pour bread crumbs and 1 Tbs oil and then use a fork to blend well until nice and crumbly.

Sprinkle the coated bread crumbs evenly over the casserole. Sprinkle with a little paprika if desired.

Pop the casserole into the oven uncovered and bake for 20 to 25 mins. Bread crumbs should brown nicely.

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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Chewy Cranberry Crunch Energy Bars

chewy cranberry crunch energy bars

These bars have a crunchy, sweet and creamy thing going on that was totally inspired by an energy bar I found at Home Goods. Yes, of all places.

I swore I would re-create that energy bar at home one day, and I finally did. Of course, I added my own flare to it and came up with what I call an adult version of a rice crispy treat that will give your teeth a workout. But in a good way! I really do like to chew. Most vegans still do ;)

Pre-packaged protein bars can really break the bank after a while. Not to mention they have a long list of ingredients especially that whatchamacallit ingredient that happens to still be vegan, but not ideal. I’m growing tired of falling into that trap, so I’ve been on a mission to make so many things at home this year. I’m saving money and I’m in control of the ingredients.

Ya know, most of the stuff is SO EASY to make. It’s a shame we all got duped. It really is.  Sometimes I wish I lived among friendly vegan neighbors who all made their own stuff with simple ingredients and we all swapped. There are quite a few things to make at home but you just can’t do it all at once. I’m noooo Martha. I guess I’ll keep dreaming because it seems to me the only thing some neighbors swap… are partners… bah dun dun dun if you know what I mean. Aaand we ain’t goin’ there. Ever.

Because I’m making my own everything these days, I have to tackle the mindset just like I do each grocery trip, where I try something new I haven’t tried before. This is the same way I transitioned into veganism… each week I tried a new vegan recipe until I had so many that I liked, I couldn’t even keep count. Now, each week I intend to make something homemade rather than buy pre-made and so far I have tackled a lot!

I say, just put your mind to it and walk in that direction. Intention draws experiences toward you and builds momentum. When you put your mind to the fact that you will be vegan, vegan people, places, things start showing up for you. Then before you know it, 8 years go by. It’s pretty amazing.

About this chunky crunchy energy bar…

I soaked my almonds just because those can be tougher to chew when raw, plus I leave them whole in this recipe. I left the millet unsoaked because I wanted insane crunch. And insane crunch I got.

I don’t have but a few taste testers. My husband gave these an enthusiastic thumbs up. Just looking at the picture makes me want to make these again. I only really share successful recipes, but everyone has their own tastes and opinions.

Definitely let me know about your experience with this recipe. I also want to hear about the things you are making at home instead of spending oodles of cash on at Whole Foods.

Please share!

chewy cranberry crunch energy bars

Chewy Cranberry Crunch Energy Bars

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of Almonds (Soaked Overnight)
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Millet (I didn’t soak these. I wanted the extreme crunch)
  • 1 Cup Rice Puffs  – (I used Enjoy Life’s brand Crunchy Rice)
  • 1 Scoop Garden of Life- Raw Protein Powder, Vanilla flavor
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Butter Melted (30 seconds in the nuker will do it)
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 Tbs Brown Rice Syrup
  • 3 Tbs Dried Cranberries
  • 2 Tbs Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
  • 2 Tbs Sunflower Seeds

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Line your pre-sectioned brownie pan with saran wrap and pour mixture into each square. I layer another sheet of saran wrap over everything and press the mixture into the pan using my hands, this way my fingers don’t get stuck to the sticky bars. They also pop out easier. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. These bars need to stay refrigerated or cold until ready to eat, to keep their shape.

Enjoy

Christa

~The Karmatarian

 

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3 Minute Mini Coconut Pudding Pies

3 minute mini coconut pudding pies

Dessert is served! In about 3 mins flat. And it’s healthy! Not overpoweringly sweet either. It’s just enough to fill you up and hit the spot after a light plant-based meal. Perfect for Summer.

Here it is… the simple coconut pudding pie I was telling you about. Life Changing! Ok, not really in the grand scheme of things, but still pretty fast and fun. I was playing around with coconut flour in my last post Mandarin Coconut Dressing Over Spring Salad. Coconut flour is in many-a-vegan athlete’s cupboards and I know why. It’s low carb, high protein and high fiber. It’s filling.  A little goes a long way, so be warned. You can do so many things with coconut flour but who knew you could mix it with a non-dairy milk and get an instant “pudding”?

I must STRESS that this won’t taste the same with all milks… You need a sweet milk. I used Silk brand Soy VERY VANILLA. It made all the difference. I tried rice milk and it was pretty good. It was not good with regular almond milk.

I would definitely make this again with the very vanilla soy.

Next, it’s only going to take 3 minutes if you have pre-made mini crusts. Graham cracker crumbs and coconut oil or earth balance buttery spread is all that’s necessary to press into some mini pie pans. You can use those Keebler Ready Crusts. They aren’t perfect, but they are vegan. I’m still alive and I’ve used them before. However, I don’t prefer to use them. Just take a look at the ingredients. Not stellar. But, I saved the little cute tins and just make my own now. You can freeze the crusts so they are ready to go when you want them. Or just take the 2 extra minutes to press the ingredients freshly into a serving dish of your choice. This 3 minute dessert will now be a 5 minute dessert. How awful. Lol.

Here is a great recipe for healthy graham cracker crust over at Chocolate Covered Katie. She has a great vegan dessert blog!

If you want to know more about coconut flour and where to buy online, check out the awesome site Nuts.com

Ingredients and Directions

This is quite informal because it’s really so easy…. you mix coconut flour and very vanilla soy milk with a fork until the right smooth consistency is achieved. I think I started with 1 tablespoon or 2 of flour for three mini tins. Pour the pudding into the pie tins, top with coconut flakes, mini vegan chocolate chips and a few raspberries. Then watch your seven year old’s face light right up!

You could also refrigerate for a while before serving if you like it chilled.

Enjoy!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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Mandarin Coconut Dressing Over Spring Salad

Mandarin Coconut Dressing

Let me tell you about a fabulous little discovery, which is totally not news to some of you. I discovered coconut flour!!! Yes!!!

Coconut flour is something that I heard about long time ago. The seed was planted and then I just had to buy some. And there it sat…. waiting in my pantry… waiting… and waiting. I didn’t really know what to do with it. I figured I would get around to it. Well. Let me tell you. Now that I have, this stuff is amazing!

There are not many things I eat these days that don’t make me stop and think… “what is this doing for me?” “What are the benefits?”. With coconut flour, you get a low carb, gluten free, fiber packed, low glycemic protein boost… along with lauric acid – an immune booster. Coconut flour is simply coconut meat, dried and ground into flour form! A little goes a long way, as it soaks up moisture quickly and expands. There is a texture that is notable. You can’t ignore it, but I like it! You’ll adjust. Just be careful. Sometimes it can be a bit dry. There are ways to get around that.

Check out this fantastic page over at Nuts.com because there you can find out more information about coconut flour and have it delivered right to your front door!

There are many ways to try coconut flour, you can bake with it, thicken sauces, bind foods and so on.  Do the research upon baking as it does act different than other flours.

Oh! Let me share something that will rock your vegan gluten free coconut flour baking world! Forget the eggs! So many coconut flour recipes call for lots and lots of eggs (just stab me in the heart… that’s easier to handle) due the dry nature of the flour. Two words – AQUAFABA BABY! If you don’t know what aquafaba is, I suggest you Google it. It’s the vegan miracle of 2015! Egg replacer extraordinaire. Ah the creativity of the vegan kitchen. Love it!

Right now, there are a few things I like to do with coconut flour. I add a small amount to my green smoothie to thicken and add bulk. The extra fiber keeps me fuller longer. I bind protein bites and bars with coconut flour and I also made an amazing two ingredient coconut pudding that my family went crazy for the other night. It took all of 3 minutes to make. I decided that it should be my next post since I’m on a coconut kick. It’s so simple that it almost feels silly to post about it, but just wait. It changed my life last week ;) It could change yours too.

Let’s talk about salads and how I incorporated coconut flour for a healthy boost. Being that Spring is here, my salads are changing with the season. I like my salads lighter, fruitier and sweeter this time of year. I always prefer no oil dressing and I usually, most often times, make my own. It’s too EASY with a Vitamix!

Right now, we have Mandarin oranges coming out the Wazoo! Don’t you? Take advantage of these while you can. I am pretty happy that my son loves these mandarins because I couldn’t get a steady flow of vitamin C into this kid to save my life. He is quite picky. Or, he just likes to give me a hard time.

mandarin orange

Mandarin orange slices

I decided to make myself a quick dressing using a few of these mandarins along with white balsamic, that like the coconut flour, has also been sitting in my pantry… just waiting.

This turned out fantastic! Use more or less coconut flour depending on your consistency preference. Creamy is relative, because I wouldn’t call this smooooth creamy… I would call this a textured creamy. But I know what it’s doing for me and it tastes great to boot!

This is a recipe for about one to three servings. For every 2 tablespoons of coconut flour you get 5 grams of fiber, 8 carbs and 2 grams of protein, 2 grams fat. Coconut flour is also high in Iron. For 2 tablespoons it’s 10% of the daily value. I see why athletes are going crazy for coconut flour.

Mandarin Coconut Dressing

 Mandarin Coconut Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 Mandarin Oranges
  • 1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Coconut Flour (start with 1 Tbs. I used 2, but think most people would prefer 1 to 1 + 1/2)
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave or  1/2 Tablespoon of Agave 5
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Blend on high until smooth. Adjust salt and consistency.

Spring Salad

Ingredients

  • A few handfuls of Power Greens such as a blend of Baby Spinach, Baby Kale, Red and Green Chard
  • Chickpeas
  • Pistachios
  • Fresh Raspberries
  • Cooked and Cooled Red Quinoa
  • Favorite type of Sprouts

Directions

Toss the above ingredients in the desired quantity and top with fresh made Mandarin Coconut Dressing!

Enjoy!

Please share your Spring salad and dressing ideas with me. I’d love to hear them!

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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Blueberry Avocado Breakfast Muffins

Blueberry avocado Breakfast Muffin

How dare I switch up pancake Sunday and make blueberry muffins! I’m such a rebel! To be fair, these actually tasted like pancakes in muffin form with a sweet crumble topping.  I decided to go halfsies on the flour and add whole wheat. It gave a much denser batter that required more liquid. That’s just me striving to make everything healthier. You can certainly sub the flour. I am sure they would have been lighter and fluffier had I stuck with all purpose flour but we gobbled these right up regardless! They tasted great by our standards. We like our pancakes and muffins HEARTY. Biting in and hitting a fresh juicy baked blueberry made these a hit with me!

My friends wanted the recipe the other day when they saw my Instagram post. I was hoping to make them a few more times before I shared, uh cuz I was just playing around. But that may never happen, so oh what the heck… I will tell you what I did, and then share my notes.

Let’s talk about the avocado for a second… think of it as an oil or butter substitute. It’s a healthier fat and a whole food. It’s a better-for-you-ingredient and it didn’t even turn my final product green nor did it taste like guacamole *wink*.  You don’t taste the avocado at all. I have seen internet pics of avocado blueberry muffins that do indeed look green. Fancy lighting? Photoshop? It could be that I used whole wheat flour which absorbed too much liquid? I don’t know. Baking is not my expertise… I have been seeing versions of these around the interwebs and I just wanted to try. So I did. Here is my recipe:

Ok, I lied… first you need to watch this video.

I don’t think I can ever eat another blueberry without thinking of this poor sweet child! Blueberries, blueberries!!!

Blueberry Avocado Breakfast Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Cup Organic All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Black Salt
  • 1 Avocado, pit and peel removed
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 T Stevia in the Raw
  • 1 Flax “egg” (1 Tbs Ground Flax mixed with 3 Tbs water, let sit for 10 mins to gel)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1, 6 oz container of O’Soy Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1, 6 oz package FRESH Blueberries

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/4 Cup Organic Sugar
  • 5 Tbs Organic All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners

Using a fork, blend crumb topping ingredients until well mixed and crumbly. Keep cold in the fridge until ready

In the bowl of your food processor, add the avocado, flax egg, vanilla, sugars, almond milk and soy yogurt. Give it a whiz until well blended. Transfer to a larger bowl.

In another bowl, add flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt, blend well with a whisk and add or sift into the wet ingredients. Only stirring to combine. Do not over stir. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter evenly into each muffin cup. Sprinkle crumb topping onto each.

Bake for 20 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let slightly cool.

Best enjoyed warm

*Notes* I have been using black salt in my recipes where an egg flavor might be present such as pancakes or omelets, quiche, french toast, etc… You can certainly sub regular salt. I try to cut sugar whenever possible so I subbed raw stevia for half. You can use all brown sugar or split half brown and half organic sugar. You can even add 1/4 cup MORE organic sugar to increase the sweetness. I didn’t want these to be too sweet. You shouldn’t use all stevia by itself because baking requires some moisture from the sugar.

If using all purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour, you may not need to add almond milk. Or just try 1/4 cup because most of the recipes I have seen that were similar, noted 8 oz yogurt. I only had a 6 oz container. So I was already short “liquid” so 1/2 cup almond milk worked for me. My batter was VERY thick. I could have used more liquid. So this may be a recipe in progress, playing with the liquid, but if you make this exactly like I did, it should come out great. Just remember to adjust the sweetener if you want the final product more dessert like. Or follow my directions for a slightly sweet breakfast muffin. Don’t forget there is a sweet topping that adds to it.

Enjoy!

xo,

Christa

~The Karmatarian

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Roasted Winter Squash Over Garlic Fettuccine with Baked Vegan Cheese

Baked Cheeze and Roasted Squash over Garlic Fettuccine

Crazy me, I thought I could get back to blogging again, but crazier me decided that I was going to knock something off of my bucket list and enter a bodybuilding/bikini competition this year. Yep. CRAZY crazy me.

So far, training has been awesome. I have 21 weeks under my belt of working out 5 days per week and HARD! I am very proud that I haven’t missed one workout. Not one! Now if I could just be as dedicated of a blogger… I know :( There’s something about knowing that I’ll be 41 years old, half naked on a stage and competing against girls half my age that really lights a fire under my @ss!

The good news is that I only have four weeks until show time and then it’s back to cooking and baking things I can eat without a care. It’s like, do I wanna be a chef or an athlete? It’s a total dilemma! But in all honesty, it hasn’t been that bad. I still eat most things I want. It’s the beauty of already having developed a healthy lifestyle. Back in my old “bodybuilding” days it was chicken, chicken, a side of chicken, tuna, eggs and more chicken. YUK. I can still smell it. Now that I’ve opened my mind, I can eat wonderful meals with diversity, colors and flavor. No more chicken. Bleh.  “GASP – But WHERE do you get your protein???” I was recently asked this question by a very shocked figure competitor who’s eyes were as big as saucers when I told her I was vegan. I LOVE IT!!!!

My favorite thing about this competition is knowing that I won’t be the girl on show day who is constipated, crabby and tired as all hell. Nope. I’ll be feeling great and all CARBED UP! GO VEGAN!

This recipe I’m sharing goes way back, B.V. – Before Vegan – to when my husband and I lived in Raleigh, NC. We shared great times and great dinners with some truly wonderful friends. We miss you Nic and Carrie! It’s hard no to think of our friends every time we serve this. We are thankful they introduced it to us and thankful most anything can be veganized! IT’S AWESOME!

Try this dish and attach some of your own memories to it. If serving to friends or family, they will be impressed. We were! It’s straightforward, simply beautiful and pairs great with a colorful side salad.

Gluten Free? I use brown rice fettuccine noodles and I “bread” the vegan cheese with finely ground cashews instead of bread crumbs in order to make this a wonderful gluten free dish.

Right now, I’m going to give you a good tip: Buy the Butternut squash already peeled OR pierce it with a knife and microwave it on high for about 4 minutes BEFORE peeling with an INSANELY sharp peeler. Your thumb will thank you. Don’t worry, it’s all good now. I healed just fine ;)

Baked Vegan Cheese and Roasted Squash Over Garlic Fettuccine

 Roasted Winter Squash Over Garlic Fettuccine with Baked Vegan Cheese

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Cubed, Peeled Butternut Squash (1 inch)
  • 1 Large Red Bell Pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 TB Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt, divided
  • 1 tsp or more chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 package of Teese Vegan Mozarella Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup dry Organic Bread Crumbs or 1/2 Cup finely ground Cashews
  • 1 Package Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Fettuccine
  • 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper (I put it on the table as an option)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°.

Add butternut squash and bell pepper to a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon oil; toss well. Arrange mixture in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and black pepper. Bake at 425° for 40 minutes, stirring once.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pan; add reserved pasta cooking water, remaining 1 1/2 Tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic. Toss to coat.

Cut the Teese cheese crosswise into 8 equal rounds. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Either dip the rounds into oil (or water, if watching oil intake) and dredge each round in breadcrumbs; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 6 minutes. Check after 4 minutes to be sure it isn’t melting all over the place. You want it to stay round and somewhat firm.

Place 1 1/4 cups pasta in each serving bowl and top with about 1/2 cup squash mixture and 1 Teese cheese round. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired. Serve with crushed red pepper as an optional condiment.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Welcome Chicagoland’s First Vegan Shoe Boutique!

Amour De La Terre photo

Amour De La Terre Photo

I am over the moon excited for a friend of mine who has just opened Chicagoland’s first vegan shoe store. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

The store boasts “Beautiful shoes with beautiful souls.” These shoes are Vegan, eco-friendly and ethically produced!

Alisha Kettner with her husband Kris, opened this little gem in Oak Park, Illinois on August 6th, 2014. Their grand opening will be this weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11-6.  I am excited to be going for the ribbon cutting, which is first thing Friday. I would love to see you there! See below for details.

Some people are very curious… why vegan shoes? Alisha recently had a great interview with Ashley Gilday.  Here is a little insight from Alisha:

“I learned of the toxic chemicals used to prepare the animal skins (into leather), the contamination of waterways, the massive amounts of water used, the high incidence of cancer in leather tannery workers, the frequent child-labor involved and the animal abuse, specific to the leather industry. The thing that really pushed me over the edge was learning that some of the leather we buy can be cat or dog skin!”

Read the entire interview here to learn more about Alisha and her reasons for opening a vegan shoe store. You can also read more about Amour de la Terre on their website.

I personally learned the ugly truth about the leather industry from the much recommended documentary Earthlings. We all think we know before we dig deeper, but we really have noooooo freakin’ idea.  I have had dreams of shopping at a vegan shoe store ever since.

I met Alisha a few years ago when she was a beautiful bride (and vegetarian at the time). I had the pleasure of doing her wedding hair.  One wonderful day, while we were practicing her updo we had a conversation about vegetarian vs. vegan. She wondered how I could live without cheese as a vegan, and I shared with her a little truth about the dairy industry. Voila, another vegan couple was born. I say couple because Alisha’s wonderful husband Kris followed her lead. Well, I guess it really wasn’t voila… it was actually after doing her own homework and research that she came to the vegan conclusion. But still, isn’t that cool? I had no idea that a little inspiration and meaningful conversation would lead to a much needed vegan shoe boutique! YOU are ALL very welcome. Lol!

I always say, if I can inspire just one person, it’s all worthwhile… and this is really really exciting for me because Alisha is someone I am so proud to have inspired, and in turn she will inspire so many more through her beautiful store.  You never know who you might inspire or how you might play an important role in others lives. So vegans… please keep on being your awesome vegan selves and sharing your light and your knowledge. We are making a difference!

Again, this weekend will be the grand opening of Amour de la Terre at 130 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60301. Come see it for yourself and enjoy some snacks and enter the raffle. It is sure to be a fabulous time. By the way, you certainly don’t need to be vegan to visit Amour de la Terre. Beautiful shoes are beautiful shoes. And if veganism is a new concept that speaks to you, taking “steps” toward a better planet while rocking some cool shoes is an awesome start. You can find Amour de la Terre at their website: Amour de la Terre,  on Facebook, and on Instagram

Amour De La Terre in local news paper

See you soon,

~The Karmatarian

UPDATE: PHOTO GALLERY OF THE GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION 8/22/2014!!!

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Smoky Tempeh and Beans

smoky tempeh and beans

Mercury is in retrograde and whoah I’m feeling this one! Our Internet was down for a few days this week and I have this overwhelming feeling of frustration because I can’t catch up. I am pretty sure that feeling also has something to do with school being out for the Summer. I’m either pulling boys out of trees, wiping tears, refereeing arguments, icing bruises, chasing kids out of the house every 20 minutes or trying to get work done…. and I’m not getting any work done! I certainly love having my son home though. Every minute surely counts.

Not only is communication whacky but this week is also jam packed with energy of all kinds…. I’m letting go of my childhood home, as it sold yesterday. I have been in an out of that house for 32 years! No going back now! A lot of letting go happening there. Then a few days ago I talked with a friend who had a huge awakening after watching the documentary Vegucated and wants to go vegan….yay!!! Such a beautiful thing to see unfold! I assured her that this is an AhhhmAzInG lifestyle! There are simply not enough days in a year to try all the delicious vegan recipes on my list. Then there’s today – I am excited for tonight, to get my Sister Hazel fix, as they are in town. Woohooo. Yes, a little 90’s, but their lyrics speak to me and hold a few fun memories. I don’t know if I am more excited to see and hear them play or more excited to be going with an old friend who I haven’t seen in 20 years!!!! This week is all over the place and we are not through it yet!

Alright, I better share this recipe with you while I have means of communicating. BTW, I am SO thankful for having internet.

Ok. This is a new creation of mine and definitely a keeper. The family loved it! It is quick to prepare which is always nice for weeks like this. You can make this gluten free by ditching the organic pita and just serving over rice. I wanted something hearty and don’t mind the extra fiber and B vitamins so I added the pitas. This isn’t made too spicy because I have a 6 year old, umm and a 40 year old. Hubby doesn’t like spicy.

You can also omit the cheese if you prefer. This dish has enough flavor to hold it’s own. I just thought it was fun, so I added it.

Let me know what you think. This recipe is just different enough to help mix flavors up between dishes. I love when new recipes like this happen. I’m not saying it’s the prettiest thing you have ever seen, but who cares when you have to feed your family every night. You just want it to taste great and hit the spot.

Smoky Tempeh and Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 +1/2 Cup Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp regular Paprika
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 can Cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 8oz Package of Tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes ( I prefer 3 grain tempeh)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs divided, Grapeseed Oil – Optional
  • Grated Vegan Teese Mozarella Cheese – Optional ( I used about 1/2 cup or a little more)
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 Cup Cooked Peas
  • 1 or 2 Avocados – Optional
  • Organic, Whole Wheat/Grain Pitas

Directions

Heat the oven to 300 degrees

Cook the brown rice, and peas in which ever manner you prefer. Combine and set aside, keeping warm

Mix first 7 ingredients together for the sauce and set aside

Lightly fry the tempeh cubes in the grapeseed oil…. OR go oil free and steam your tempeh (I prefer to fry, it brings out a toasted nutty flavor). When the tempeh is almost done and lightly browned on each side, add the minced garlic and cook another minute, add the sauce and the beans. Cover and simmer until thickened a bit and boiled down slightly. Remove from the heat and add some grated vegan cheese in the amount you desire. Put the lid back on for a minute or two, to melt the cheese.

Place pitas in the oven to warm for about 10 minutes

To Serve: Scoop a hearty portion of the rice and peas over the warm pita. Top that with a scoop of smoky tempeh and beans…. and enjoy with a side of avocado and perhaps a side salad.

May you survive the rest of the retrograde….. Deep breaths…… I’m waiting until it’s over to make much needed changes and updates to my blog. Hence the font color change. This old format won’t let me match the colors anymore. It’s time for a makeover here to keep me inspired.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

~The Karmatarian

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Spinach Pesto Portobellos with Cranberry and Mint Quinoa Salad

Spinach Pesto Mushroom with Cranberry Mint Quinoa Salad

Alright, Alright…. I know you are tired of seeing that Turkey rescue post every time you come to my blog. My friends, you have spoken, I have heard you… and I am back. Yes, I ditched this blog. For many reasons. I really didn’t intend for that to happen, but it did. I will fill you in about the soul searching journey I have been on this year so far, and my new take on veganism. That’s for my next post. Right now, let’s eat…

Spinach pesto portobello mushrooms with cranberry and mint quinoa salad. This was our delicious dinner yesterday! I threw this together pretty fast. Don’t you just love when that happens!? I really liked this combo. Try it and be sure to let me know what you think.

I haven’t made portobello pizzas in a long time. I usually like them with red sauce as in my other mushroom pizza recipe on the blog. I tend not to do pesto too often because of the large amount of basil needed.  Basil costs a lot it seems, and it goes bad quickly for me. Maybe it’s just me? I don’t buy it too often. I prefer to grow it, but I don’t have any right now. I always have a huge tub of fresh spinach on hand, so I thought I would try a spinach pesto. This one is not fat free, it contains olive oil.

Before I share the recipe, let me tell you where I’m at with oil right now. The cleaner I eat, the more obvious it is that my body doesn’t like certain oils. Canola, Sunflower and Safflower oil for sure. I can feel the inflammation take hold. Gee, I wonder… could it be all the GMOs and the fact that I’ve eaten it my whole life? Manufacturers put in in EVERYTHING!! No more of that! I read all labels now and avoid canola and sunflower as best I can. I made a commitment a while back to cook whole foods plant based style, and that is… little salt, no sugar and no oil, nothing processed. I do this 4 nights per week. I have been doing this steadily for about a year and a half now. The other few days of the week I like to have fun. There might be a little oil, or lightly processed vegan foods combined with whole foods. These recipes happen to be more fun to post. Anyone can pick up a Forks Over Knives cook book. This is my go-to book! I’ll admit, it was intimidating at first, with few pictures, but now I just usually open the book and wherever I land, that is what I will try. Who said I’m not adventuresome?

If I do use oil, I prefer olive, grape seed or coconut oil. If I want to do a fat free pesto, I use veggie broth, tofu, water or soaked nuts in place of the oil.  The mixture just needs something to wet it down a touch in the food processor. I have to get dinner on the table every night. I do balance out the oil/no oil/ fat/no fat recipes over the course of a week. I definitely have a family with differing needs in the calorie department. The oil of course, helps to make this dish rich and creamy. It sure makes it good and we enjoyed it!

Here are the recipes…

Spinach Pest Portobellos

Spinach Pesto Portobellos

Ingredients

  • 5 Portobello Mushroom Caps (I used 2 very large and 3 medium/small)
  • 5 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, packed
  • 1/4 Cup Almonds
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Olive Oil
  • 4 Small Garlic Cloves (I don’t know what they are doing to garlic these days but the cloves are HUGE. Have you noticed?)
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp Salt, or to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tsp of Lemon Basil dried herbs or just plain dried basil. If you have a little fresh basil on hand, use that
  • Lemon Juice – Half Lemon, Squeezed
  • Squirt of Agave (Optional. I did this because mine was a bit too salty. Be careful with your salt.)

Directions

Add all of the ingredients (except the portobellos of course) in the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry the mushroom caps and remove the center stem. Fill the mushrooms with pesto sauce and place them in a glass baking dish (non greased). Bake for 25 minutes until the juices of the mushroom start to run. Let cool slightly to set, before cutting.

Cranberry and Mint Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Tri-Color Quinoa, cooked according to package directions, and cooled or cooled mostly
  • Lime Juice – 1 Lime, Squeezed
  • 1/2 – 1 Whole Lime Zested (start with 1/2 and adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp Agave
  • 1-2 Tbs Orange Champagne Vinegar (or a little orange juice plus more lemon juice and a dash of apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 2 Scallions, Chopped ( I included the whites. Why not?)
  • Handful or 2 of Chopped Dried Cranberries

Directions

Mix all of the ingredients together and toss. Taste and adjust.

Enjoy!

~ The Karmatarian

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A Must See Heart Warming Turkey Rescue

 All I know, is that if I were a turkey, Karen Dawn can rescue me anytime! Her amazing voice can put me right into a trance. She reminds me of Snow White, but who is now all grown up, living in CA and rescuing some very LUCKY turkeys every Thanksgiving. What an inspiration!

This video hits home, as once upon a time, I had a Cockatiel named Sunny Bird who lived with me for 15 years. He showed me first hand how smart and sensitive birds can be. His favorite thing to do was enjoy a warm blow dry after a spa treatment ;) So I know that feeling of caring for God’s special animals. There is little that is more rewarding than helping to make someone feel safe, happy and loved. Sunny Bird would close his little brown eyes and just sit there, just like the turkey in the video, until he was all dry. I miss that little guy. 

My Sunny Bird

Memories of blow drying Sunny bird is the closest I will get to rescuing a turkey this year, well, if you don’t count our adopted Turkey from Farm Sanctuary. We love doing that every year!

I hope Karen’s video inspires you to have a kinder holiday season and to inspire those around you. Maybe it helps to see turkeys in a different light?

I have never enjoyed Thanksgiving as much as I do now. It took having that little something more to celebrate which is bigger than myself, to realize how much more meaningful it can be. I love celebrating life.  I know per history we are supposed to be celebrating having food to eat, but luckily most of us never have known what it’s like to not have food to eat. So without knowing that contrast, the genuine grateful feeling can come from showing mercy to another by not cooking it and shoving stuffing up it’s arse. I know this contrast well, because as a researching vegan, I see the horrors on a daily basis. It’s definitely kindness that makes this holiday special now. Heck, it makes every meal special. I am sorry to say, that I haven’t always shown mercy, but I didn’t know better back then. Now I do and act on it. One day, when I get to those pearly gates, I certainly hope to be forgiven.

What’s on the menu this year?

Well, we will enjoy a mini feast starting with cranberry pesto crostini, a wonderful green salad with avocado, cranberry, almonds, chopped apples and balsamic dressing. A gardein stuffed roast, orange grand marnier cranberry sauce, garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, rosemary and garlic green beans, sweet potato casserole with pecans and then if there is any room left, we will stuff in some pumpkin pie topped with coconut whipped cream. Boy, I better get started in the kitchen , huh?  One thing is for sure, we LOVE food around here and are grateful for every delicious vegan bite.

If you need any recipe ideas, perhaps being a last minute throw it together kind of person like myself (I still haven’t gone grocery shopping… that’s tonight’s adventure right after I post this) check out my Pinterest Holiday Table or these old posts from last year:

New Traditions: 24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based-Vegan Main Dishes

New Traditions Part 2: Holiday Side Dishes and Our Thanksgiving Menu

My Thanksgiving Review

I hope you have a wonderful and kind Thanksgiving!

~The Karmatarian

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Good Karma Bowl

The Good Karma Bowl

Who has been to the Native Foods Cafe?!! OMG. I just love that place. One of my favorite dishes is their soul bowl. I wanted to recreate this at home since the drive to the cafe is about an hour or so for me. Boooo. So the good karma bowl is just my knock off, give or take some ingredients. Ok, I totally just guessed at it, but I’m quite happy with the result. I bet the Native Foods Cafe cookbook has the exact recipe, as Chef Tanya seems happy to share, but I don’t have my own copy yet. I was just looking for another great vegan meal and remembered this dish… and let me tell you, it is comforting, it is delicious and it is fun! I tried to be a little fancy when I served it to my family, kind of like they do at the cafe. I put the veggie tenders on a skewer…

 Good Karma Bowl

What makes the original soul bowl so great is the Native Food’s homemade seitan. Homemade seitan is not going to happen anytime soon in my house, so I just buy it from the store.

But that’s not so healthy so you say? Here is what works for me… I committed long ago to making 4 or more dinners per week out of the Forks Over Knives cookbook or handbook or similar style cookbooks and recipes off the web. That means, no oil, little to no salt or sugar, no vegan processed foods, only tons of flavor through whole plant based foods and spices. The other nights I might add a little oil. One night a week I may add convenient vegan foods. This way I know me and my family eat top notch, delicious and healthy the majority of the time. So when I throw in a vegan pizza, or we cook veggie brats on the grill or enjoy gardein crispy tenders… it is fun, enjoyable and our cheat… but is it really cheating? I refuse to feel guilty. Sounds funny for a vegan to “cheat” with versions that are actually healthier than the original meat counterparts, but I’m just throwing it out there because too many non-veg people tend to look for flaws with people who eat healthy or vegan. They falsely think these types of vegan products are bad. They aren’t bad. Certainly not when you compare them to animal products and that whole mess. These types of vegan foods have their wonderful place and when vegans enjoy what they eat, they tend to stay vegan. That is key. You can be vegan or you can be a health nut. I am a bit of both, so I am armed with all the ammo I need to stay on this awesome vegan wagon!

We might be vegan in our home but we still enjoy the chewing sensation, which unfortunately is what eating dense animal flesh provides to many a non-vegan. This is why us vegans enjoy these kinds of convenient vegan foods and “meats” which are familiar to what we grew up with, without the harming the animals part. So there you have it and now there is no need to wonder any longer. It is as simple as… vegans still like to chew and we still like variety. I wish I didn’t have to justify any of this… but so go I. 

This recipe is easy, but takes some prep, multi-tasking and assembly. Over all it’s quick and easy. The whole recipe can be found at the end of the post.

rice for the good karma bowl

First, you need to prepare some brown rice. I like to use my rice cooker. I tend to throw it on early in the day when I am thinking about what’s for dinner so that I am not left scrambling without brown rice at 5 o’clock or forced to make something else that doesn’t require rice because I forgot or ran out of time. Brown rice takes a long time to cook. You can always freeze portions to be used at later time, too. The brand of rice I really enjoy lately is Lundberg short grain brown rice.

veggies for the good karma bowl

You’ll want to get your water boiling to steam your veggies. I enjoy a blend of broccoli, cauliflower, sliced carrots and this time I threw in organic shelled soybeans but you can omit these if you choose or add another type of veggie.

Gardein nuggets for the good karma bowl

Bake your gardein crispy tenders while your veggies are steaming. These take the longest amount of time, a whopping 20 minutes.

Beans and vegan mayo and bbq for good karma bowl

Prepare your kidney beans (meaning take them out of the can, rinse and drain). Pull your vegan mayo out of the fridge or make your own (recipe below) and find your favorite bbq sauce minus the high fructose corn syrup, of course.

Steamed kale for the good karma bowl

Lightly steam your kale in a skillet will a small amount of boiling water and a lid. Takes about 2 minutes to steam.

The Good Karma Bowl

When everything is ready, assemble. Start with a scoop of rice, then a scoop of beans, a scoop of veggies, a helping of steamed kale and then approximately 2 tablespoons of bbq sauce and 2 tablespoons of vegan mayo.

Good Karma Bowl Mixed

Mix until all the flavors are incorporated. You can cut the tenders into the dish….. and EN-freaking-JOY!

 Good Karma Bowl

 Good Karma Bowl

Ingredients

  • Cooked Brown Rice
  • Veggies for steaming (ex. California blend or broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and organic shelled soybeans)
  • Organic Kale
  • 1 Can of Organic-Low Sodium, Red Kidney Beans
  • Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders 
  • Favorite BBQ Sauce
  • Vegan Mayo
  • Sea Salt for serving, to bring out the flavors, only if necessary.

Directions

Pre-heat the oven according to package directions for the crispy tenders. Boil water for steaming your vegetables. Rip the kale from the stems into bite size pieces and rinse. Set aside. Open the can of kidney beans, rinse and drain. Prepare mayo and bbq sauce. 

Bake the crispy tenders and steam your veggies. When those are both finished. Steam the kale in a skillet with about a 1/2 cup boiling water for about 2 minutes covered with a lid. Drain.

Assemble your bowls. Put a scoop of cooked brown rice, topped with a scoop of kidney beans, a scoop of steamed veggies and finish with steamed kale. Add approximately 2 tablespoons bbq sauce and 2 tablespoons mayo. Mix to incorporate flavors before digging in and enjoy!

My Homemade Vegan Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1 Package Silken Tofu or Firm Silken Tofu
  • 1 Cup Cashews
  • 3 Tbs fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dry Mustard
  • 1/8- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • Splash of Agave Syrup to taste

Directions

Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. This keeps for about 2 weeks and will thicken upon refrigeration.

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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Dad’s Zucchini Apple Bread – Vegan, Oil-Free

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I feel lucky to have such a talented Dad. He’s project oriented and not afraid of hard work. He also has a big heart for animals. He’s the one that instilled in me care and concern for our fellow creatures. Over the years, he’s nursed many sick or injured animals back to health and as a little girl, I witnessed this and took it to heart. You know those crazy kids, they emulate what they see. Anyway, I’m grateful for that!

Two (of among many) of my dad’s talents are baking and gardening. When you add those two things together, what do you get? Zucchini bread, of course… and a lot of it.

Every year, marking the end of Summer, it has been zucchini bread for everyone! Meaning my dad generously bakes and gives to many friends. However, my dad has since adopted a plant-based diet and I’m proud to say it’s been well over a year and a half! Go dad, go!! Nothing but good results in return!

Switching to a vegan or plant-based lifestyle does not mean giving up tradition. You may have to change things up a bit but it’s really the act of doing something meaningful over and over, not the actual end product necessarily. Change is easy to adapt to if you go with the flow. There are vegan versions of everything and anything! I believe, if there is a will, there is a way.

I told my dad that I would take his recipe and play with it because I love the challenge. He has played with it too. We both came up with applesauce in place of oil which works fabulously, although it changes the bread to a more zucchini – apple flavor since it called for so much oil – now applesauce. Luckily, these flavors are wonderful together.

The recipe calls for 4 eggs! That would scare any new vegan away. Not me. I chose a blend of Chia and flax eggs which add nutrition and depth. Whenever I replace eggs in baked goods with these ingredients, I always bump up the baking powder. It usually does the trick.

Next is the sugar. The original recipe calls for three cups of sugar. I cut it down to two cups of organic sugar, just because. Three cups seems excessive! My dad used liquid Stevia in place of sugar with success. I am not a huge fan, so I probably won’t try that. Mind you, this bread is a sweet bread, it’s a treat, and it’s not every day that I eat it, so I don’t mind the sugar, sugar ;) I suppose we could sub maple syrup or what about Succanut? Maybe for my next attempt? It turned out so perfect my way, I hate to mess with it.

Let’s talk zucchini. My dad gave me a bag of frozen shredded zucchini that he previously prepared. He grated six cups zucchini. The original recipe calls for three cups. When I thawed the six cups, I ended up with two cups of concentrated zucchini, so I used it all, even though the recipe called for three. When I make this again and use fresh zucchini, I will use three to four cups fresh. Probably four. The more the better!

I baked two loaves using standard loaf pans. My dad usually makes three mini loaves out of one batch of batter. Do whatever you prefer.

My review of this bread… OH MY! Divine. It has flavors of apple, hints of cinnamon the crunch of walnuts and of course zucchini. It’s not dripping in oil like the days of old, but who cares. It’s low fat! And to use my least favorite word…. it’s still Moist. Absolutely still a keeper – now just veganized! Bam!

I am grateful my dad started this tradition. After all, it’s the small things in life that can be very meaningful. I will definitely take this on now that I know it’s just as amazing, vegan and oil free.

I hope you enjoy this zucchini bread… our “new” family tradition.

Dad's Zucchini Apple Bread Dad's Zucchini Apple Bread

Dad’s Zucchini Apple Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs Chia Seeds + 6 Tbs Water
  • 2 Tbs Ground Flax Seeds + 6 Tbs Water
  • 3 – 4 Cups Freshly Grated Zucchini or 6 Cups Frozen (2 cups concentrated/thawed – see written notes above)
  • 2 Cups Organic Sugar
  • 1 + 1/2 Cups Apple Sauce
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Cups Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used 365 Whole Foods Brand)
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 + 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray two standard loaf pans with oil (I used a spray grapeseed oil) and dust with organic cornstarch.

Combine 2 Tbs chia seeds with 6 Tbs water in a small bowl, stir and set aside to gel (about 10 – 15 minutes). In a separate bowl, combine 2 Tbs ground flax seeds with 6 Tbs water and set aside to gel (also about 10 – 15 minutes).

In a large bowl, stir together the applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Stir in the chia and flax “eggs”. Stir in the shredded zucchini.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour batter into the two loaf pans, dividing evenly.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!

NOTES* I had better luck making this in metal bread pans rather than glass. Also BE CAREFUL not to over-mix the batter. Use a wooden spoon.

~the Karmatarian

 

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Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

What is going on in Facebook land lately? Have you noticed your friends sharing random recipes on the news feed in order to save them? I’m seeing this from at least a dozen friends. This wouldn’t disappoint me so much if they were healthy and appealing… but they are so called ‘comfort’ foods. Sure… so comforting that you can lay yourself to rest in a cozy casket much sooner than later. I know not everyone eats the way I do, but what happened to the healthier middle of the road recipes? It seems that everything is extreme lately and it’s either Kale or Bacon. I’m going with Kale.

Hale to the Kale!

Btw… Saving recipes… isn’t this what Pinterest is for?

Being that I don’t want to hide my friends (I happen to like them), the good news is that this may finally break me of my personal Facebook habit (fingers crossed). It’s been sucking the life right out of me for too long, and now, it’s gotten down right depressing. Why dear God, is the world moving backwards?

For the rest of us moving forward, I want to share a delicious, whole food, healthy and oil free dressing to enjoy with your kale.

This came about because I am ADDICTED to kale right now. I finally found a fun way to eat it. Sure, I add it to recipes and smoothies and make kale chips but salads usually don’t appeal to me because of the bitterness. Even when it’s rubbed with lemon juice and salt, it still doesn’t work for me (at least right now, but who knows?). All I do know is that because of this new found process, I am drawn more to kale. Kale, kale, kale!

Here is what I do… I take a skillet and fill it with purified water, just to cover the bottom of the pan. No more. Set it on the stove and turn the burner on high. I rip the kale into bite size pieces and wash it while the water starts to boil. I add the kale, cover it, turn the burner down a bit and set the timer for 2 minutes. I check it before the time is up because most of the time it is done. I drain the little water out and VOILA… Steam-boiled kale with no bitter taste! And fast!

I got the idea from the Forks Over Knives handbook. Oh, let me tell you, the recipe for kale with miraculous walnut sauce is MIRACULOUS indeed!  I can eat it Every. Single. Day. I don’t want to abuse a good thing, so I came up with a similar dressing that packs in carrots and miso… two things which I try to incorporate more of into my diet. Walnuts are not to over-do if you are overcoming heart disease or cancer, so keep that in mind. In that case you would want as low fat of a diet as possible. But walnuts are definitely a super-food that you want to eat. You will also need a powerful blender in order to make this happen for you. Sorry, it’s just the way it is.

Health benefits of this dressing FAR outweigh that cute sour cream, butter, milk, cheese and ham filled muffin cup on your Facebook news feed. There’s no comparison really.

Carrots when sliced, interestingly look like eyes.. and they just so happen to benefit the eyes but also the skin too. They protect us from disease and boost immunity. Carrots are also anti-aging whereas that bacon cup will age you just looking at it!

Miso is a fermented food which helps to establish good digestive bacteria and boost immunity. It is a complete protein and has high quality B12. It aids in digestion and protects us against radiation. It’s also anti-aging.

Sounds good so far, huh?

Walnuts are shaped like little brains for a reason – they contain high levels of DHA to help improve brain health. A super antioxidant rich food that is a high quality protein. Walnuts are considered the king of nuts and we really benefit by adding a small handful into our diet daily.

My healthy carrot miso dressing is fast and easy and depending on the amount of water you add, you could keep it on the thicker side and use it as a veggie dip. It’s not overpowering in flavor perhaps a little on the milder side. Add more miso if you prefer.

Update 6/13~ I just made this again with extra miso aaaand a little champagne vinegar which was a nice addition.

Carrot Miso Dressing

Carrot Miso Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 large Carrot, washed but not peeled
  • 1 large handful of Walnuts
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 teaspoons of Mellow White Miso
  • 1/4 Cup Water

Directions

Place all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Add more or less water depending on your preference.

Enjoy,

~The Karmatarian

Question – What are some fun ways that you add more kale, carrots, walnuts or miso into your life? 

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Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

There are a million vegan egg salad recipes out there! I have tried a few, and I thought I had it figured out. Then one day, I combined a few different recipes along with a twist of my own and came up with what I think is the perfect vegan egg salad. I really enjoy this and I know you will, too.

I don’t fear a little tofu

If you don’t already know… Organic tofu is alright with me.  Ever since going plant-based and focusing on whole foods versus processed foods, I don’t fear soy. I am in control of how much soy comes into my life. I make my own meals and rarely eat out. If I were still consuming mostly a standard American Diet and still eating soy and tofu along with all of that soy lecithin and soy oil and soy fed animals, etc… I would be worried about it.

Soy is a highly genetically modified food, I believe somewhere around 90% of the crops are GMO. You have to be very careful. Only choose organic tofu from a good responsible brand you recognize or research.

Another reason that I don’t fear tofu or fermented soy is knowing that Dr. T. Colin Campbell can turn his cancer patients around on a plant-based diet that has some tofu and whole food/fermented soy involved. So why be so afraid? It certainly helps add fun to the vegan diet. Btw, I am not talking soy protein isolate here.

I remember a great interview I watched with Dr. Christine Horner talking with Dr. Mercola, and she really explained breast cancer and estrogen and the difference between plant estrogen and the evil estrogen that actually contributes to breast cancer. It is eye opening and nice to relieve the fear. You can watch the video or read the article here.

Here she talks about flax and soy falls into the phytoestrogen category as well:

“I hear from patients, “Oh! My oncologist told me not to take flaxseeds, because they’re estrogenic,”” Dr. Horner says.”They don’t understand how plant estrogens or “phytoestrogens” work.

There are all sorts of different strengths to estrogens. Let’s say estradiol, which is the strongest, most abundant form– if it hooks on to the estrogen receptor, it may cause a thousand cell divisions. But if a plant estrogen hooks on, it may cause one. When you flood your system with these plant estrogens, I’d say it’s kind of like a game of musical chairs. There are only certain numbers of receptors, and whoever gets their first, gets it. They’re blocking the strong estrogens from getting on, so that’s why it has an inhibitory effect.”

~ Dr. Christine Horner

If you read that article – Just for the record – I don’t agree with Dr. Mercola about eating grass fed beef. Grass fed, organic or pampered like a family member before slaughter… Meat has No fiber, No disease fighting phytochemicals and is still too high in calories and fat and lowest in nutrients compared to other foods, so why bother? Not to mention, all cows headed for consumption have to stand in this line.  Why tap into fear and anxiety energy? By consuming it, we become it.

Fiber

It’s one of those things I always thought only old people had to worry about. Little did I know fiber is SO damn important for all of us at any and every age. It helps to rid the body of toxins and excess hormones as well as help with weight management.  I choose not to get excess hormones from dairy. Yes, even organic and raw milk has natural growth hormones. A lot of them!  Being that I have less hormones to remove from my system, I don’t see soy as a big threat.

I have realized that beef and meat Agri-giants have something to do with a lot if not most of the negative studies that come out against soy. They have the money to fund ’em and push the ones that have miniscule findings against their end goal. They make money when you eat more beef, not more soy. If you eat all the soy, what in the world will they feed their cows and chickens? Oh my!

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Let’s get back to the recipe!

A few things to note… I tried fresh lemon juice and zest in this and it’s OK… I don’t like lemony egg salad. If you love lemon and have to add it,  just add a touch to bring out flavor, but I think you will find this is flavorful enough on it’s own.

I also ran out of regular Dijon this last time and used whole grain Dijon. Wow! It really added quite a spicy kick. It was good though!! If you like that sort of thing, great.. if not pay attention to your Dijon and maybe add less to start, even with the regular Dijon. This is where the dash of agave came to play… it cuts the spice and rounds things out. I prefer it in the recipe.

Instead of using vegan mayo to mix things up… my special twist that makes this so creamy and hearty is cashew cream. When I have it on hand, I remember to make this salad. I love cashew cream for topping so many things, from baked sweet potatoes, to burritos, to chili… I used to use Tofutti but I rarely ever do now that I make cashew cream. I even use this as a sandwich/wrap spread from time to time. I love it more than vegan mayo that I usually make, as I can cut back on the soy/ tofu and enjoy it other places… such as in this egg salad!

Black Sea Salt – You have to have this on hand to make “egg” dishes taste egg like. I use The Spice Lab brand.

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Perfected Eggless Egg Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 – 12 oz Package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1/2 Cup Carrot, grated
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, diced very small
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, diced very small
  • 2 Tbs Sliced Almonds (2 heaping Tbs)
  • 2 Tbs Chives or Green Onion, chopped small
  • 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Agave
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp or more of Black Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Cup, (plus 1 or 2  if needed) Tbs Cashew Cream (See Below)

Directions

Drain the Tofu while preparing the other ingredients. Line a plate with paper towels, place tofu on top and cover with the paper towels. I like to put a clean kitchen towel on top at this point. Place something heavy on top of everything so that the weight pushes the liquid out of the tofu. I like to use a stack of  large heavy plates. You can also buy a tofu press. I really need to order one!

Place all of the ingredients in to a medium sized bowl and crumble in the drained tofu while squeezing out any excess liquid that remains. Mix and fold all ingredients with a spatula until well blended and evenly colored (turmeric).

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate to chill and incorporate the flavors.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp Curry Powder ( I don’t always add this, but lately I have. More flavor!)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  •  Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Soak the Cashews in purified water for 2 hours + or overnight. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water a little at a time to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready. Also note that it will thicken a bit when refrigerated.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Review

Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna

If you happen to be plant-based savvy… you may have seen this recipe, tried it, or thought about trying it. It’s featured in the “Forks Over Knives” original handbook, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue dvd and on the Engine 2 Diet website and possibly more places.

My post is a little story about our Christmas holiday that goes along with my review of this recipe, which I couldn’t wait until I had a reason to make.

As you may know from my earlier post, our family survived the flu this year, thankfully without antibiotics, and I am grateful for that. I am upset we got it at all. Don’t you think Vegans should be exempt?! All of these super bugs stemming from factory farms which we voluntarily choose to disconnect from! This is why us vegans spread the word! Everyone is affected by factory farms. Back to my story, the bottom line is that we had too much crazy energy happening in the weeks prior to Christmas and I believe it was due to the energetic alignment and 12/21, but it sure had us caught off guard. Luckily, we got over the flu before Christmas and we had energy to clean our house before our friends arrived from out of town. We were pretty excited that good friends of ours were staying with us for Christmas!

I will refer to our friends as T and G… because I have no clue if they want to be named in my blog.

Our friends are so dear to us. We have shared many dinners together, great conversation and a million laughs. We are so grateful to know such good-hearted people like T and G!

My husband and I met our friends when we lived in Raleigh, North Carolina, roughly 6 years ago. We were their first American friends, and what an honor! They had just moved to the U.S. from Croatia and we were happy to welcome them. We made sure that they experienced many of our traditions, including Halloween and an all American Thanksgiving.

Times have changed for us… well… food-wise that is. I still dress up for Halloween!

Our family is now a vegan family and T and G are known to eat similar to their culture in Croatia, where dining might as well be the national sport. And because of this, I was trying to come up with a meal plan (being a holiday with no restaurants open) that  everyone would like. I originally thought that I could make something for them that they would enjoy (meat dish), and something that we would enjoy (vegan dish).

The more that I thought about it, the more I could NOT bring myself to do it. It just affirmed for me how far I have come with this vegan thing. It was by no means out of stubbornness or trying to make a point. I just can’t bring myself to purchase meat and bring it into my home. I really feel it’s a bit of a vibrational/energetic/spiritual thing. I have also conditioned myself to cook the opposite of how I used to. I don’t even really remember how to cook meat. I really don’t want to remember how to cook meat. I prefer my kitchen and my body to be light with energy and my counters free from dangerous bacteria. And then there is the whole plant-based nutritionist thing I have going on… feeding meat to my friends would be criminal in my mind and that’s without even touching upon animal rights.

But what would I make? How can I keep everyone happy? Did I mention that T is almost 7 feet tall and and a good sized guy? He will be the first to tell you, he likes his meat and has to have it.

Racking my brain, I remembered this sweet potato lasagna recipe which has been said to be a winner in the plant-based community according to Rip Esselstyn.  Well, if it’s good enough for firefighters, then it has to be filling and satisfying! I also remember that my Dad made this recipe a while back and he told me it was worth all the work involved. He had so much food left over – this is what I wanted!

I narrowed it down. My menu for the few days our friends were visiting consisted of a beautiful salad, this sweet potato lasagna, a raw pecan pie that I made from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book, Whole Foods brand vegan blueberry and pumpkin pie (hey, it’s the holidays) as well as their 12 grain artisan bread. The next day I added spinach and “cheese” stuffed shells to the menu, using the recipe for the cheese from my Gluten Free – Spinach and “Cheese” Lasagna Bites post, but stuffing jumbo shells instead of making it a lasagna. For breakfast, I baked vegan pumpkin bread two mornings in a row as requested!

The menu, I thought would be filling. I wasn’t thinking at the time that the dinners would be two pasta sauce dishes and I should mix it up a little more, but it turned out that they tasted totally different from one another. I also took a huge leap of faith that this lasagna would be great. For I had no back up plan.

Luck has it and to our surprise, when our friends showed up, they announced that they had given up Dairy products! YESSSS!!!! That was half the battle right there. See? Just another example of how people are surprising me left and right. Smart people are catching on! We had even more to talk about!

The lasagna ended up to be a bit of work, but enjoyable work as I visualized the outcome while preparing it. And Dad was right, totally WORTH IT! I cheated just a smidge. I used a sauce that was not exactly Engine 2 approved. It was a Trader Joe’s Garlic Marinara. I know it to have a lot of flavor and a little bit of oil. I also added a touch of Himalayan sea salt to the veggie mixture because I wanted to be sure this was bursting with flavor. It was perfect and I have to say, it didn’t need the salt. That is how much flavor it brings on it’s own!

My suggestion… When you make this, just pick a sauce that you KNOW has good flavor, oil or not, as the sauce is so important in a dish like this. I also used gluten free lasagna noodles. I feel that they cooked up on the firmer side because I was cutting it close on sauce. Two jars are not exactly enough to cover the noodles. I think 2 jars plus 1/2 would be perfect. I also bought a throw away lasagna tray from the grocery store that was DEEP.  You are going to need that with all these layers. I realize now, that I need to invest in a good lasagna pan!

This lasagna was healthy and satisfying. Full of texture and flavor. It is hard to really explain the end flavors but they go so very well together. T said that he doesn’t usually like sweet potato. Surprise!!! He doesn’t even like lasagna, either! But he just loved this! Phew! Everyone wanted more and we happily ate it for lunch the next day, too!

Not to leave G out, she really enjoyed the meals as well and she got right in my kitchen to help with the dishes. What a doll!

The vegan cheese shells were super filling as well. You really only need to eat a few. Having salad first, bread and then dessert after, we were stuffed.

A million sweet compliments from our friends confirmed that I made a good choice. T said something along the lines of…ya know, I usually have to have meat, but these past few days I really enjoyed everything and haven’t missed meat at all… What a compliment! I hope I influenced them to look at a plant-based diet a little differently and know it can be very satisfying.

We ended up at PF Chang’s on the last night of our visit. I will never forget the nice comment from T. He said, “this food here at this restaurant is good and everything, but it’s nothing like yours, Christa. Look… just the way you cut your carrots vs. theirs…. It’s just different, and so much better”.

When you put love and intention into your home cooked dishes, there is a difference. How many restaurants do that besides some vegan/raw? There is an energy there, and if you are in tune, you can’t deny it. But aside from that, lucky for me, T and G appreciate home cooking, as that is how they were raised. I am not trying to brag here, of course their kind words felt really, really good and it’s always nice to have people appreciate your efforts and support what you do, but much credit goes to Engine 2 Diet for a fantastic recipe!

It meant so much to me to have been able to please our guests and knowing how honest they truly are, I trust that they really enjoyed everything. Food was a small part of the visit of course, we had such a great time catching up and just relaxing. It was so heart warming to hear that this was one of the best Christmases they ever had.

A successful Vegan-Croatian-American-Christmas in the books!

Here are a few pics of the pie. I have made it twice and dream of this one often…

Enjoy the Journey,

~The Karmatarian

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New Traditions Part 2: Holiday Side Dishes and Our Thanksgiving Menu

(Photo Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary) Adopt a Turkey this Year and Start a New Tradtion. Visit http://www.FarmSanctuary.org

“If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?”~ Edgar’s Mission

I’d like to add… and eat awesome food!!! I spent the entire day yesterday pinning more side dishes and desserts up on my Pinterest page! I was also planning our menu for Thanksgiving. I think I have it nailed down. There are just so many amazing vegan dishes to choose from that it took some time! If anyone claims a vegan diet is boring then they don’t know food and they certainly don’t know how to cook. Luckily it’s a learned skill. You can do it! Take a look at my Vegan Holiday Table board. I’m drooling!

I am not going to list all of the side dishes that I found, that will take too much time and I really just want to get a quick post out. So I am going to share my Thanksgiving menu with you. I am so excited!!

Here goes…

Appetizers:

Cranberry Walnut Pesto Crostini- Festive and delicious. The original recipe is on my Pinterest page under Pumpkin Gnocchi with Cranberry Walnut Pesto. It can’t be found right now because the website seems to be down. I have the recipe. If you are interested, let me know in the comments and I will share it with you. I plan to do crostini with this pesto or serve with delicious crackers. Although it would be good with a spoon alone! I made the gnocchi and it was an epic fail. This pesto turned out to be my favorite though and it’s so pretty!

Traditional Stuffed Mushrooms – You know, the smaller mushrooms with the crunchy, buttery flavored bread crumb filling with  flavors of garlic, basil and parsley. Yum!

Creamy Artichoke Spinach Dip – I love the idea of cashews here.  Looks creamy and delicious. How will we ever make room for dinner?

Soup:

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup –  This is the closest recipe I could find to the one I am actually making. This one can be veganized by using margarine and vegan sour cream or using cashew cream for garnish. I am going to make the Vitamix Holiday Squash Soup. No fuss, right in the blender! I have a feeling I am going to run out of stove space so this will be perfect. Soup heats up right in the machine.

Salad:

Apple, Pecan, Cranberry and Avocado Spinach Salad with Balsamic Dressing – The picture in this link has cheese in it but it does not call for cheese in the recipe. I assure you, I won’t ruin it with cheese. This salad will be perfect, unless I run out of time… in that case, I’ll toss together mixed greens with sliced almonds and dried cranberries and top it with vegan poppy seed dressing! Voila, fast and festive and if I can’t much done ahead of time, this might actually be what happens!

Bread:

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Muffins – Can’t forget the bread, muffins or vegan crescent rolls. I tried the Trader Joe’s crescent rolls and they were a bit too sweet for my liking. I was thinking pumpkin muffins, but I don’t want to over do the pumpkin as pumpkin pie will be one of the desserts. I might make my corn muffins or just run out and grab an already baked garlic and rosemary Artisan bread. Mmmm.

Main Dishes:

Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales – A favorite! I have made this a few times for Thanksgivings past. Delicious traditional holiday flavors, great presentation!

Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This can be found under the same post as above. I love this gravy!

Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute  – I was shopping at Whole Foods the other day and I had to have this! Maybe I was hungry, but I just figured I would try it along with the tried and true Timbales, just in case… More food for leftovers. Because this girl is taking a break after this!

Sides:

Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce – I have made this before. It’s baked, not boiled and I add orange zest. Delicious! Can be made days ahead!

Fruit and Toasted Almond Stuffing – The picture says it all. It sounds like an updated classic and there is nothing wrong with that.

Garlic and Rosemary Mashed PotatoesThis is pretty straight forward. Use vegan margarine like earth balance or the olive oil it calls for and almond milk instead of regular milk. I am imagining lot’s of leftovers. This will be perfect with the Timbales and gravy.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping – I usually make this type of casserole every year, one version or another. Vegan of course. I am thinking to add vegan marshmallows. Why not? I have some here.

Green Beans with Walnuts and Rosemary – Simple ingredients. Modernized tradition. Quick. How could you go wrong?

Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus – I am excited to veganize this with crushed walnuts and lemon zest. Olive oil or margarine instead of butter. It’s a choice between this or the green beans. I already have the phyllo in the freezer… this might be the winner. Or just make both!?

Desserts:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Pecan Crust – Mom eats gluten free and since she will be here for dessert I would like to make this!

Or… Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake –  I could always make the crust from the recipe above to make it gluten free.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Sauce – This is a recipe from the Cafe Gratitude recipe book (minus the berry sauce). I have made it before and it gave me my confidence back for making vegan cheesecake. Holy Cow is it amazing and the texture is way better than real cheesecake in my opinion.

Baked Pears with a Buttery Baked Crumble Topping –  To veganize, just use Earth Balance (margarine) and Agave instead of honey. Top this with rice whip cream. I broke down and spent the 5 dollars on rice whip a few weeks ago. It is SO GOOD. Perfect for the holidays. It’s by Soyatoo.

Well, there you have it… I think I am in over my head with this menu! But it will be so much fun. I will take a lot of pictures and share on Facebook. Thankfully, a lot of these recipes can be prepared a few days ahead. I guess I better get started. I am off to Whole Foods now…

See these photos and recipes that I have I found, visit my Pinterest page.   Also check out my last post, part 1, with many holiday main dish ideas.

I would really love to hear what vegan dishes you are serving up this year…

Happy menu planning and hoping that your holidays are gentle and kind.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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New Traditions: 24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based-Vegan Main Dishes

“Now is the Thyme to start a new Thanksgiving tradition: Adopt a turkey!”
~Farm Sanctuary

“When a sense of consciousness informs our actions, when our intentions reflect kindness and nonviolence, when our thoughts turn to someone else’s needs rather than our own desires, there is no denying that something profound takes place. In the absence of suffering, there is peace. In the presence of compassion, there is joy.” ~The Vegan Table

Hey everyone, meet Thyme. One very lucky turkey. Notice the heart on Thyme’s neck? He’s my son’s choice for our annual adopt-a-turkey tradition through Farm Sanctuary. I had my eye on a cuter turkey, but when I expressed my opinion, my son quickly scolded me “NO he’s the cutest!”. Ok! And there you have it…

Thanksgiving~  Such a tough holiday for many of us, knowing the grim outlook for 46 million of these gentle spirits. Exactly how did turkeys become the centerpiece for a holiday of thanks and gratitude? We do have so much to be grateful for and a beautiful feast helps us to express that, but there are no rules. Traditions can be altered and improved.

99% of turkeys are factory farmed birds and have absolutely nothing to be thankful for. The conditions are grim. The truth is brutal. Click this link to meet your Butterball turkey and witness your typical store bought bird’s life experience before making it to your plate. Warning: the video is disheartening and will make you angry. You certainly don’t have to watch it, but a good rule of thumb to remember is, if it’s not good enough for your eyes, it should not be good enough for your stomach.

Did you know…

Although the turkey as the centerpiece of of the holiday dinner is deeply entrenched in our society, diners at the original 1621 Pilgrim’s feast made no mention of turkey as part of their meal. In fact, turkey only became popular as a Thanksgiving staple in the mid-twentieth century, after decades of MEDIA PROMOTION and breeding of the white, domesticated turkeys exploited by factory farms today.

~ Farm Sanctuary

…Ok, so we were pushed into this tradition of serving up turkey, so why not opt out? We have plenty of information about the truth of factory farming and the ill affects of meat in our diets. While Thanksgiving might not be the day for optimal healthy eating, it can still be held consciously and kindly.

I have learned one thing throughout the past few years being vegan, which has lead me to actually enjoy this holiday.

HONOR SELF.

GO WHERE YOU ARE CELEBRATED, NOT JUST TOLERATED. And that is a general lesson. Life is too short and just because most of society celebrates one way, figure out a way that makes you happy. Or find a compromise. It’s a tough holiday for an ethically minded vegan. No doubt about it.

I am excited to be hosting Thanksgiving this year for my husband, my son and a dear friend and her daughter (who are new to choosing vegan). We have decided to compromise by enjoying a kind holiday feast and then head separately to our family’s homes for dessert.

Dessert is easy to veganize and bring along quietly, without anyone even suspecting a thing, and dessert makes everyone happy. See? I don’t give family a reason to antagonize me about my Tofurkey, nor do I have to listen to them rave about how juicy their dead bird is this year, compared to last.

Being thankful for the life and abundance we are given is not dependent upon how juicy the turkey is. It’s just not. But sadly it has come to something like this here in the USA.

Actually, I don’t do Tofurkey.  But I appreciate the alternative choice that it represents. Maybe I cooked it wrong? Who knows? It didn’t turn out well for me. I love all the newer options from Gardein and Field Roast.

I put together a list of home cooked meal ideas for you from around the internet. I have found some wonderful main dishes that not only have the traditional flavors of the holiday, but are appealing to the senses.

Meat free main dishes are important and take more effort to plan out. Side dishes and desserts are easy. Many of which are your own family traditional recipes that are surprisingly easy to veganize with some thoughtful substitutions like earth balance in place of butter, egg replacers, and your choice of non dairy milks that are on the market.

A main dish on our plate expressing the idea of something special is what I was looking for, not every day meal kinda stuff. I am also not worrying about perfect “healthy” oil free dishes for the holiday. After all, in general, it is a holiday known for a few more heart attacks. Shame on society. But luckily for us with a vegan menu, nothing in these main dishes would send you to the emergency room. See? Peace of mind… and heart.

Ok, here we go…

24 Holiday Worthy Plant-Based/Vegan Main Dishes

1. Mushroom, Lentil and Wild Rice Timbales with Impromptu Vegan Mushroom Gravy – This is my favorite! I have made this recipe twice. Beautiful presentation, with all the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving.

2. Baked Acorn Squash with Chestnuts, Apples and Leeks – I might be making this one.Looks like a winner!

3. Sweet Potato Lenti Pie – Adorable single serving pies  with good combination of textures.

4. Butternut Squash Ravioli with Garlic and Sage Sauce – A recipe I have wanted to try for a while now

5. Seitan Roulade with Chestnut Stuffing – Unique and sure to impress

6. Flaky Harvest Vegetable Squares – Be sure to brush with olive oil instead of egg

7. Baked Apples with Wild Rice and Quinoa – Make sure the mushroom broth is vegan, sub vegan cream cheese and ditch the optional cheddar. I am sure these will be fabulous.

8. Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna – My Dad made this one recently. It’s a little bit of work but worth it!!!

9. Maple and Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash with Tofu, Raisins and Walnuts – This is one of my personal creations. It will fill your home with the best aromas, very inviting for your guests this holiday

10. Jeni’s Lentil and Mushroom Loaf with Savory Potato Filling – A lot of fun textures and a nice meal centerpiece

11. Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie – It’s all in one for a simpler holiday. Very pretty.

12. Millet Loaf – I love millet! I am thinking to add sage and pecans in place of sunflower seeds on this one.

13. Celebration Pot Pie with Pumpkin Biscuit Crust – Wonderful and comforting. I know my son would LOVE this one!

14. The Smoky Tofu Sweet Potato Stacker – Looks impressive with different textures. Reminds me of a Cheescake Factory dish.

15. Harvest Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms Beautiful

16. Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms – Another Portabello recipe. Portabellos are hearty. Use baby or large mushrooms for this.

17. Tofu Stuffed with Brown Rice and Mushroom Dressing – Another hit from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

18. Squashducken – Elegant and sophisticated but remember to substitute Earth Balance for the Butter

19. Black Bean and Pecan Butter Sauce over Grilled Eggplant and Sauteed Spinach – Gorgeous and another “meaty” texture like portabellos.

20. Holiday Ham Recipe from Caribbean Vegan – Festive!

21. Pineapple Glazed “Ham” – I have always wanted to try this recipe. It looks so pretty on the platter.

22. Field Roast Celebration Roast – A store bought vegan roast, but I like this company! Their other products taste great so this is bound to as well. Definitely not gluten free.

23.  Currant-Maple Citrus loaf – Which is just a Celebration Roast (above) with Zest! Looks much prettier than the plain roast.

24. Holiday Roast by gardein – Who doesn’t love gardein? It’s sure to be wonderful for someone who doesn’t want to fuss. They also have single servings for those having a low key celebration.

 …And I bet I could find a million more great recipes out there. One thing a vegan has is an abundance of great food!

I love to see photos of food! You can view the wonderful mouth watering photos of all these links  here on my Pinterest page. Follow me there as well. I will be adding more photos and a part 2 blog post with side dishes and desserts in just a few days, so be sure to check back!

Check out these wonderful short videos, both turkey rescues that will warm your heart and remind you that there are good people out there in the world.

Rescued Turkeys

Turkey Rescue

Here is a heart warming family documentary to watch that will change your views forever about wild turkeys, watch this PBS special “My Life as a Turkey” by Joe Hutto  I felt that it was really touching and well done.

My Life as a Turkey

“The symbolism surrounding the Thanksgiving turkey, much like the modern domestic turkey himself, has been largely manufactured by cynical commercial interests. There is neither compelling historical precedent nor meaningful rationale for associating the butchered carcass of a turkey with our national day of thanksgiving.”

~ Farm Sanctuary


Read more about the history of Thanksgiving here

See all of these recipes in one easy place on Pinterest

Enjoy the journey,

~The Karmatarian

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Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Pumpkins are in season… along with the Flu. I think nature is trying to tell us something. EAT PUMPKIN. Don’t forget the pumpkin seeds! Seeds are full of Zinc that not only heal and clear your skin, it vamps up your immune system. The Vitamin A in pumpkin is a huge immune booster. Now, loading pumpkin with sugar and dairy is going to have the opposite effect. Choose wisely.

I just love Chia pudding, and this recipe is really just a twist on that for this time of year. I would say that this is more for superfood enthusiasts, but my 5 year old seems to really like it. If you are thinking more of a sweet dessert,  you will have to add more dates or other sweetener of your choice. We eat this for breakfast so I don’t prefer it that sweet.

With the recent shortage on Chia Seeds. I am not sure I should be sharing this recipe. Next it will be Cashews and Quinoa… other staples of my vegan diet. I totally saw this coming! I hope farmers take notice and shift their crops. We want more real food! Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Dairy and meat consumption has declined recently and thankfully, but if you still partake of meat and eat dairy, leave my Chia alone!

Oh, I am only kidding….

Or am I?

Now, when you make this pudding, don’t be scared that it looks a little like Dijon mustard. Lol. I probably shouldn’t of told you that. Either way, vitamins and minerals and complete protein are yours! Pumpkin and Chia are two superfoods that you want to consume.

You can top this pudding with raw Pepita (pumpkin seeds) for a higher immune boosting experience, or top with more Chia Seeds, Nutmeg or Cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
  • 3/4 Cup water
  • 1/3 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Cup Pureed Organic Pumpkin
  • 3 Medjool Dates, soaked and pitted (see directions)
  • 3/4 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Dash of Sea Salt

Directions

Soak the Chia seeds in water for about 15 minutes. Soak your dates overnight… just kidding. Well, you can, but lets be real. Here is the fast route… I like to heat up water in my tea kettle until very warm, not boiling, and pour over the dates in a Pyrex or other glass bowl. Soak these for 15 minutes while the Chia seeds are soaking. Slice open the drained dates and pit (much easier when soft)

Add all the ingredients to your high speed blender or Vitamix

Blend until creamy and warmed, adjust the sweetener if necessary and sprinkle with topping and serve.

How are you enjoying pumpkin as a superfood this season? Please share your comments and ideas.

Enjoy!

~The Karmatarian

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Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

What ever happened to keeping it simple? All this fancy foo foo food out there trying to over-impress and complicate everything. Sometimes my brain goes on gourmet overload, and then I don’t know what to make for dinner. The bar is being raised out there by food bloggers and Pinterest on a daily basis. 

I do enjoy fancy food from time to time. For everyday, I just want something that looks appealing, tastes amazing, fuels my body in a healthy way but it doesn’t have to be all “beetle juice”. Beetle juice is the term I like to use for artsy fartsy. Speaking of insects, I have a bit of a spider sense when people or places that write about or serve food are trying a little too hard to be different. There is a fine line. Sometimes I just don’t have the patience. Yet, I am a little guilty of crossing the beetle juice line once in a while for the fun and art of it. But for the most part. I enjoy real food…. I also enjoy looking at photographs while holding them in my hands. So long are those days.

Most times, I want simple, real and fast for dinner. Not every day goes according to my daily planner and I am squeezed for time. Rushing often leaves little spark for creativity. Even pressed for time, I still want to get something out on the table that is healthy and enjoyable. This dish has quickly become a family favorite. It is only quick if you microwave it. We don’t do that!!! But it’s a simple meal with a few ingredients. Throw a side salad into the mix or finish with dessert and you will be pretty much stuffed. I guarantee it. We enjoyed this last week with no salad and no dessert and we ended up stuffed. Who knew this could be such a filling meal? I couldn’t even finish what I had on my plate. We may have munched on cucumbers and hummus as an appetizer, like we often do, but I can’t recall. I am pretty sure we didn’t. Either way, this will be enough food. Don’t worry.

Sometimes we (or maybe I ) just need to be reminded that dinner can be simple. And it’s ok. It’s great, actually. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the simple dishes that we can make, because we forget about them while thinking about dishes and ingredients we can’t even pronounce.

Cashew cream sauce might seem fancy to you but it is so simple! It is a healthy alternative to sour cream, dairy or vegan. It’s now taking the place of Tofutti brand sour cream here and we are not complaining one bit! It’s versatile and can be used for many other dishes. I used it the next day for an eggless egg salad recipe instead of vegan mayo. In other words, don’t spend money on Tofutti or vegan mayos. Buy cashews instead!

If you have any whole food topping ideas to share, let me hear them. I am looking to change this recipe up a few different ways. But I feel that this one will be in the rotation for a while because these flavors do go well together.

Baked Sweet Potato with Black Beans, Chives and Cashew Cream

Ingredients

  • Large Sweet Potatoes
  • Black Beans (if I am going for fast, I use canned organic black beans from our local Meijer grocery store. They contain only 100 mg of sodium per serving. You can cook and freeze your own beans for later use, too.)
  • Chives, chopped
  • *Optional – Olive Oil

Ingredients for the Cashew Cream

  • 1 + 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt (Pink Salt)
  • *Optional – Favorite Non Dairy Milk or Filtered Water

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the cashews in a bowl and fill to cover with filtered water. Set aside to soak. It is ideal to soak for at least 2 hours – to overnight, but I’m assuming you are throwing dinner together here!

Wash sweet potatoes, air or pat dry and brush the outside skin with olive oil. (This is optional. I have done this each time I make these. I don’t eat the skins, but my husband does. By all means, try it with no oil and let me know how it goes).

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Depending on how large or small the potatoes are, you may want to be flexible on the cooking time. Potatoes are done when easily pierced through with a knife. When potatoes are done, remove and pierce the skin several times to let out the steam. Make a slit in the center of each potato, lengthwise and push in and up from the ends, if you want to be all fancy. Or just slice and place open face onto a plate. Texturize them using a fork, if you prefer, so your toppings won’t slide off!

Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and place them in your high speed blender or Vitamix along with the other ingredients except for the milk or water. Blend until creamy. Use the non dairy milk or filtered water, if necessary, to adjust the dressing to your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasonings and it’s ready.

Chop your chives.

Get your beans ready to go.

Top your baked sweet potato.

Dinner is served.

Enjoy

~The Karmatarian

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