Postcards From the Veg



Coconut-milk yogurt

imageFound this So Delicious-brand coconut-milk yogurt at Natural Grocers the other day. It’s soy free and dairy free.
Verdict: It’s good. Same consistency as “regular” yogurt (maybe a tad less thick). The coconut flavor is very subtle. I did notice it’s a little bit more tart than other yogurts.
It doesn’t have the chunky fruit at the bottom, in case you were wondering. I got the strawberry-banana flavor.
INGREDIENTS: WATER, COCONUT MILK, STRAWBERRIES, BANANAS, ORGANIC EVAPORATED CANE JUICE, PECTIN, CHICORY ROOT EXTRACT, DEXTROSE, NATURAL FLAVORS, ALGIN (KELP EXTRACT), MAGNESIUM PHOSPHATE, TRICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, RICE STARCH, LOCUST BEAN GUM, AGAR, CULTURE, CARRAGEENAN, GUAR GUM, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, VITAMIN B12.

Polenta Rancheros

Here’s a delicious vegan breakfast I thought up and made today.image

Cook’s note: I used one of those polenta “logs” you can buy at any majoimager grocery store. I sliced it into rounds, then quartered the rounds. Polenta is a fat-free, cornmeal-like grain that you can buy either loose (and boil it yourself) or buy in log form, which is very convenient. We didn’t put any cheese on top, but it’d be great with Daiya shreds melted on top, or some cheddar if you aren’t vegan.

Yield: 3 Polenta Ranchero entrees.

Ingredients:

Olive or canola oil, for frying

Log of polenta, cut into pieces

2 or 3 different-colored bell peppers

1/4 of an onion

1 teaspoon cumin

3 whole-wheat tortillas

1 can vegetarian refried beans

15 tablespoons green chili, such as 505 brand, divided

1 avocado

1 tomato (I didn’t have one, but it would be good to dice up and put on top)

1 lime or juice of one lime

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 2 separate skillets over medium heat, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil.

2. Place polenta pieces in one skillet. If you want the polenta crispy, fry it at least 8 minutes before flipping and frying 8 more minutes on the other side.

3. While polenta cooks, cut up bell peppers and onions into smallish pieces. Place them into the second skillet of oil, and cook, stirring every now and then, about 7 minutes. Seasoimagen with cumin if you have it.

4. On cooking sheet, place tortillas. Put a few spoonfuls of refried beans on each one, spreading beans around as though you were spreading marinara on a pizza crust. When polenta and veggies are done frying, remove them to paper towels to soak up excess oil. Then spoon some veggies onto each tortilla. Then spoon crispy polenta pieces on top of the veggies. Finally, spoon 5 or so tablespoons onto each one.image

5. Place tortillas in oven and bake for about 6-8 minutes, just to heat them up.

6. While tortillas cook, slice up avocados. If you are using a tomato, dice it up. Remove tortillas from oven and spread avocados and tomatoes on top. Place each on a plate, and slice the lime into 3 pieces, placing each slice on a plate for squirting over the Polenta Rancheros.

7. Serve and enjoy! I served them with some steamed kale on the side for the calcium and other nutrients it offers in such an easy way.

These are yummers. The only ingredients: onions, garlic, red pepper, fennel, splash of red wine, Italian spices.

These are yummers. The only ingredients: onions, garlic, red pepper, fennel, splash of red wine, Italian spices.

I think I finally found a vegan face cleanser I like (almost) as much as the Aveeno foaming face wash I used to use: St. Ive’s Green Tea Cleanser.

I think I finally found a vegan face cleanser I like (almost) as much as the Aveeno foaming face wash I used to use: St. Ive’s Green Tea Cleanser.

Above are photos I took while making Polenta Casserole With Seitan. I had to use my BlackBerry cam because my camera wasn’t at home. Anyway, I will later add pictures of the finished product, as I haven’t baked it yet.

This was my second time making the Polenta Casserole With Seitan recipe. It took me about 45 minutes. I stuck it in the fridge to bake tomorrow night when I can have dinner with my husband, Adam.

The recipe, from “The Kind Diet,” says you can use either polenta or millet. I used millet, which I bought at Natural Grocers. For some reason it was in a bag in the refrigerator there, but I’m fairly certain you don’t have to refrigerate millet. “Millet casserole” doesn’t sound as good as “Polenta casserole,” does it? The casserole is a complete meal because it has veggies, protein and a grain. 

I made it soy-free by using Maggi seasoning instead of shoyu (soy sauce), and unsweetened almond milk instead of soy milk.

I also skipped the parsley because I didn’t have any. And skipped the umeboshi vinegar because it’s too expensive and because I’ve tried umeboshi plums and nearly gagged.

Adam normally doesn’t like casseroles because he thinks of them as sloppy, milky concoctions, but he liked this one last time I made it and described it as more of a “loaf” than a “casserole.

So here’s the recipe, from “The Kind Diet.” (Read my blog post about the book here):

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups polenta or cornmeal or 1 cup millet

1 medium-size head cauliflower cut in large pieces

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen and thawed

2 pinches fine sea salt

1 (8-ounce) package seitan, sliced

Kernels from 2 ears corn or 1 cup thawed frozen kernels

6 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons roasted sesame tahini

1/3 cup soy milk

1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu plus more for sprinkling on top

2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Procedure:

1. Place the polenta or millet in a large pot. Add the cauliflower, peas (if using fresh), salt, and 5 cups water (add just 3 cups if using the millet). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer the polenta for 30 minutes (cook for 25 minutes if using the millet). Polenta must be stirred frequently as it cooks to prevent it from sticking or becoming lumpy, but you don’t need to stir millet.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8×8 casserole dish.

3. While the cauliflower mixture cooks, arrange the sliced seitan in the casserole dish. Layer the corn kernels on top, and then add the asparagus.

4. Remove the polenta mixture from the heat. Add the tahini, soy milk, shoyu, and umeboshi vinegar, and mash with a potato masher or fork until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes. Add the chopped parsley and peas (if using frozen) and mix well.

5. Spoon the mashed mixture into the casserole dish over the vegetables, and smooth the top. Poke a few small holes in the surface, and sprinkle with a little extra shoyu (this makes the top crispy).

6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let the casserole cool for 15 minutes before cutting into squares. Garnish with the basil, and serve.

SERVES 6

The vegan Mexican layer dip I made for my girlfriends and me this weekend.

I realize my photo doesn’t look as appetizing as the one from the cookbook, but that’s because my sweet darling had the camera with him and my BlackBerry cam doesn’t have a “food” setting. This dip is SOOO good. Here’s a link to the recipe, from “The Kind Diet.” Even though I avoid soy because it gives me a stomach ache, I included the Tofutti sour cream because, well, I was sick of my belly being a jerk face and wanted to rebel.

The layers are refried beans, avocado mixed with lime juice, olives, green chiles, Tofutti sour cream mixed with Taco seasoning, tomatoes and Daiya cheese. I added my own layer, Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso. The recipe says it serves eight…it was so good that it served four.

Veggie garden: redux

My second year in my home and my second attempt at planting a veggie garden. I really want this garden to produce. Last year I didn’t pay enough attention to it, and it got overgrown with weeds and most of it died. I did get some spinach, lettuce, broccoli raab and kale out of it, which was good.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and niece, Taylor, came over to help me plant my garden. We bought some organic sheep-poo compost mix to get the soil nice and supple. Since it’s still chilly out, we didn’t plant everything. Using both seeds and starter plants, we planted leafy green lettuce, broccoli, Swiss chard and collard greens.
I plan on planting cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, kale, spinach and potatoes next weekend when it warms up.

So far this year, I’ve been way more diligent about watering the garden. So this bodes well.

Last year I would just forget about it. Now, I wake up excited to go check on it and water it.
I’ll chronicle my successes and failures here.

My niece Taylor in the beginnings of what I hope to be a very fruitful vegetable garden.

My niece Taylor in the beginnings of what I hope to be a very fruitful vegetable garden.