Vegan Salt –the blog

{August 23, 2011}   Broccoli Whatnot Soup

{August 8, 2011}   Taking on Candida!

My current adventure, like countless others in this world, began in a second-hand bookshop.  Last week, I was browsing the shelves, picking out a few novels and philosophical essays, when an enormous medical reference book caught my eye. Optimal Digestive Health: A Complete Guide.

Complete! For ten dollars, how could I go wrong? I purchased it and presented it to my husband, who has suffered from undiagnosed, chronic digestive problems for about eight years.

That evening, as I read mindless teen fiction (a guilty pleasure), he browsed the book, flipping back and forth, intent on his research. At last he said, “I think I have candida.”

Candidiasis is an imbalance of yeast in the body, primarily in the gut, usually brought about by prolonged stress, use of antibacterial drugs, use of birth control pills, or a high-carb or high-sugar diet. Although my husband has none of the surface symptoms, internally, it all adds up. Even the foods he’s learned by trial and error to avoid (like sweets, gluten, and starches) are on the list of candida aggravators.  It all suddenly made sense! The two of us spent the next several days reading everything we could find on candida.

I read that when women have persistent candida, one of the most telling clues is recurring vaginal yeast infections. Unfortunately, when men suffer from candida, it can remain in the digestive tract for years, and from there it spreads to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Yikes!

Even if the long-term complications didn’t include heart attacks, asthma, leaky gut syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer, we would be impatient to start him on an anti-candida diet, just to relieve his suffering.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I would undertake this dietary change with him. It’s easier to stick with a restrictive diet if the whole household does it together. Besides, according to one source, as many as one third of people suffer from candida. (Even if I’m not among them, I know I feel better when I eat a cleaner diet.) Symptoms of candidiasis include sugar cravings, fatigue, foggy-headedness, acne, PMS, anxiety, and a white coating on the tongue. Yes, I said sugar cravings are a symptom of a highly dangerous illness. But the good news is that it’s treatable by nutrition. My husband and I will be doing this together, and I’ll be posting recipes as we go along.

This is a very. strict. diet.

Note: We aren’t directly following the advice of any particular anti-candida expert or book. Instead we’ve pieced together an anti-candida diet that most of our hurried research seems to agree on, and what works for us. For starters, we’re remaining fully vegan, of course, which only eliminates eggs, cow milk yogurt and kefir from the Accepted Foods list. All other animal products are already off limits on most anti-candida diets. No loss there!

Forbidden foods include, but are not limited to:

  • All animal products (that’s the easy part)
  • Sugar: This means sugar, sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, rice syrup, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. (Except Stevia.)
  • Gluten and Starch: No wheat, barley, rye, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes or corn.
  • Alcohol: Not even an occasional glass of organic vegan wine. Nope.
  • Caffeine: No coffee, no black or green teas.
  • Fermented or Yeasty foods: No breads, pickles, vinegar (except raw apple cider vinegar), mustard, tempeh, soy sauce, and no mushrooms, since they’re a fungus.

And here’s the heartbreaking kicker:

  • FRUIT: No fruit juice, no dried fruit, no fresh fruit except citrus fruits and berries.

What we can still have:

  • Vegetables: Anything but corn or potatoes. Tomatoes and carrots cannot be cooked.
  • Some Fruit: Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, and berries. No juice.
  • Liquids: Almond, coconut, or soy milk (unsweetened). Herbal teas. (Edit to add: non-sweet fruit juices, such as pure cranberry or pomegranate juice. Kombucha!!)
  • Beans and Lentils: Pretty much anything goes here.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Anything except peanuts, so no peanut butter either. Tahini (sesame paste) is a go!
  • Other: Tofu, quinoa, hummus, plain vegan yogurt, and basically any herbs and spices.

Best foods to fight candida:

  • Raw garlic
  • Lemon
  • Fresh ginger
  • Yogurt and probiotics
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach
  • Raw apple cider vinegar, according to some

So far, we’re just two days into this, and still struggling to eliminate fruit and sugar (my shortcomings) and coffee (his). We’re both going through typical detox symptoms of headaches, fatigue, and in my case, serious fruit cravings. But we’re managing to find things to eat, and hopefully the detox stage won’t last too long. At the end of this adventure, whether it lasts a month or a year, I anticipate that we’ll feel healthier than ever, and we’ll have a bunch of gluten-free, sugar-free recipes figured out.

If you have overcome candida, particularly as a vegan, I would love to hear how you did it, how long it took, and what your favorite candida diet recipes are!

{July 22, 2011}   Mini Donuts!

As fantastic as the vegan cupcake scene is (and believe me, the vegan cupcake scene is bigger, rowdier, and more colorful than a traveling acrobatic troupe) there’s been a noticeable lack of vegan donuts in the world. Okay, they’ve been lacking in MY vegan world. Until now, that is! These little cuties required no deep frying and no oven baking, making them a perfect pastry that’s bearable to make in the summer. Did I mention how easy these are to make? And how tasty they are? How adorable?

As my regular readers know, I haven’t blogged for several months, and during that break, I married my beloved soulmate.  =)

A couple of dear friends gave us a mini donut maker as a wedding gift. Here it is, surrounded by donut ingredients and the cookbook (another fantastic wedding gift) which contains the recipe I based my donuts on.  Yes, that’s Vegan Yum Yum, the cookbook from the blog of the same name. Talk about deliciousness just oozing off glossy, full-color pages! This cookbook will make you drool and get your creative juices going.  I used her original donut recipe first, but later modified it by adding 1/4 cup of cocoa and leaving out the other spices to make chocolate donuts. Here’s what I ended up with:

Vegan Chocolate Donuts (based on recipe from Vegan Yum Yum)

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients:

1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp egg replacer
1/4 tsp salt

Then add the wet ingredients, using a wire whisk to combine:

1/2 cup almond milk
4 Tbs oil or melted vegan butter, such as Earth Balance or Smart Balance
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Plug in your mini donut maker and make sure it’s clean inside. Brush or spray the inside with a touch of oil if you’re using it for the first time.  When the green light turns off, it’s ready to go!

Using a spoon, scoop the donut batter into the center of each mold, as shown to the left.

Close the donut maker and give it about 3 minutes to cook your donuts. It will tell you when it’s done. I like to leave them in for an extra 30 seconds to one minute after the green “ready” light has gone off, leaving the donuts with a slightly crispy outer shell.

Then open it up and remove the mini donuts with tongs, a wooden spatula, or chopsticks. Metal forks may scratch the donut mold, and if you use your fingers, you will burn yourself. Pop the piping hot donuts onto a wire rack to cool. The dough will make three batches of donuts, for a total of 21 adorable little munchies. Lick the bowl while the last batch cooks.  Since the whole process was so easy and quick, you’ll probably immediately make a second batch at this point. (Next time, save yourself a bit of trouble and just double it from the start!)

As the donuts cool, put 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips in a clean and dry glass bowl, and place it in the oven at 200 degrees until melted. Stir the chocolate with a fork. Dip the mini donuts in the chocolate, then place them back on the rack. If you’re using sprinkles, now is the time to shake them onto your donuts. Then pop the whole rack in the freezer, and your frosting will go from runny goo to a crunchy coating in no time!

Here’s the finished product, both sprinkled and unsprinkled, chillin’ in my freezer, ready for company to stop by.

Do you need a mini donut maker of your own, now that you’ve seen what they’re capable of? They’re available at Spread the tasty joy of compassionate snacking, and long live the Vegan Outreach Baking Co!

{January 5, 2011}   The Best Posts of 2010

We’re just one week into 2011.  It still has that shiny, new year smell!   But I’m telling you, it’s definite: this year will the the Best Year Ever.  I started Vegan Salt a little over a year ago, so that milestone combined with the threshold of a brand new year have had me looking back over 2010, my first year of vegan blogging.

This year I discovered how to make food taste like eggs with a ridiculously affordable Indian spice (and had my site linked to by a Wikipedia article as a result).  I met Natala of, a passionate, inspiring vegan and a very fun woman.  I guest blogged for The Blissful Chef about how I used to have IBS, and I celebrated my fourth veganniversary.  In 2010 I blogged a little more than once a week on average, and uploaded about 5 photos per week, mostly of tasty vegan food.  Maybe you haven’t known me for that long, and don’t want to read all 55 posts.  Well, you’re in luck.  Here’s a recap of the year’s best!

Most Viewed: Tyler Durden vs. The Vegan Police -my take on the “how vegan is vegan enough” question, and those few vegans who devote their time to criticizing the rest of us.  This post saw a renewed popularity following the release of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Thanks, movie fans!

Most Commented On (Excluding the Tyler Durden post): Food, Guilt, and Self-Loathing -about how my unhealthy relationship with food began in my childhood, and how becoming vegan healed my soul even more than my body.  This was probably the most difficult post for me to write and publish, but also the most rewarding.  The outpouring of sympathy and understanding from my female readers in particular was incredible to experience.

Most Popular Recipe: Chickpea Coconut Curry, which was made and posted by the fantastic Kerry of I Eat Trees, so I have her to thank for its ongoing attention.  (For more Vegan Salt recipes, like Black Bean Burgers, Pesto Pasta, Oven Kale Chips, and Cookie Sheet Apple Pie, just click my recipes category, which I keep in the sidebar.)

Most Frequently Searched For: Vegans Never Get Sick.. -which I really must do a follow-up on, because it turned out I was sick, but not because of the bug that was going around…

Most Admired, Linked to, and Shared by my Readers: Why I’m Vegan, or, Why I’m Not Necessarily a Good Person, or, Making a Deal With The Devil: How to Get More Than a Pair of Socks in Exchange for Your Soul -a beautiful guest post for which I can’t take any credit.  It was offered to me (on condition of anonymity), and when I’d finished crying, I gratefully accepted.

Top 3 Posts I think deserve One More Mention, because they came from my heart, deep in the truly-giving-a-damn-about-animals center, and I meant every single word:

Animals, Schmanimals.  Shouldn’t People Come First? -Vegans get this question frequently, and I think it’s one that deserves a solid and sincere answer.

Puppy Love -Doublethink Exemplified -An essay I wrote as a brand new vegan (over four years ago), about Michael Vick: the unextraordinary omnivore.

Vegan For Life -Veganism is like love.  For some, it’s a struggle.

I’ve been driven to write for most of my life.  If I didn’t have a blog, I’d just be scrawling lists and detached sentences into notebooks or onto scraps of paper.  You, my readers, are the reason I jump into the chaotic ocean that is the internet, and blog.  This project has introduced me to incredible, inspiring people, and it has also brought phrases and ideas out of me that I never would have articulated, or perhaps even formulated, if I didn’t have an audience with whom to interact.  Thank you.

As we plunge into 2011 together, I hope you’ll stay nearby, and comment if you’ve been reading in silence.  Follow me on Twitter if you can’t get enough of me, and on Facebook if you’d rather I kept my mouth shut between blog posts.

….And one more thing.  I’d like to say that I’ll post more frequently this year, that I’ll go to the vegan blogging conference, and create a hundred new recipes for you.  But I have other priorities this year.  I’m marrying my soulmate and best friend this spring!  No, I won’t be blogging all about it, but I’ll probably share a photo,and I’ll almost certainly share photos of the lovely spread of vegan food and wine.  So if I’m a little more preoccupied than usual, just know that it’s in the interest of throwing a fabulous vegan celebration of true love!

I wish you all a year of joy, love, and compassion in 2011.

{December 18, 2010}   Holiday Cookies!

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while.  December gets pretty soul-mashingly hectic for those of us in the retail sector.  But I have managed to sneak in some holiday baking this year, mostly for the benefit of my equally frazzled coworkers.  Baking is a great stress-reliever for me, and I tell myself it’s all in the interest of vegan outreach, since I’m sharing them with omnivores who are learning that vegan food can be fantastic, so everybody wins!  These Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies come from page 67 of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, a fabulous little cookie book for any vegan baker, if you’re still looking for a gift.  The recipe called for rolling the balls of dough in chopped peanuts, then pressing them flat, but when I did that, the peanuts fell off, so instead I pressed the cookies into the chopped peanuts, flattening them a bit while sticking peanuts only to the top side, which worked quite well.

Up next are two variations on the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnut cookie recipe from page 236 of Veganomicon, which is pretty much the ultimate all-around vegan cookbook.  First, the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Cranberry.  I had a serious chocolate craving, and nothing but chocolate cookies with chocolate chips would do.  These have the perfect soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie texture, and the non-sweetened cranberries add a bit of the unexpected along with a splash of color.  These cookies were made with 1/4 cup of dough each.   Mmmmm, irresistible!

Last night, I made an even more festive batch: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Peppermint! I put a teaspoon of peppermint extract in them along with 3/4 cup of candy cane bits.  I also made these ones smaller then the ones above; I measured the dough out with a tablespoon, and rolled the top of each ball of dough in additional candy cane pieces before baking.  (It makes them look pretty.)  The peppermint melted during baking, so these cookies turned out a bit flatter and harder to remove from the cookie sheet, but after cooling, they’re actually more sturdy than the cranberry cookies.  I’ll be taking five dozen of these to the potluck at work today, but I wonder whether that will be enough. 

What cookies are part of your family’s tradition?  Have you veganized a family cookie recipe, or made something entirely new this year?

{November 26, 2010}   Our Vegan Thanksgiving

-or- What The Vegans Ate.

I come from a big, omnivorous family.  I love them all dearly, but last year, around the time I started blogging, I resolved that I would never again put myself through a Thanksgiving celebration at which a bird’s carcass was on the dinner table.  I am an adult, and I refuse to be expected to accept as okay something (namely; the violence, slavery and death of a being whose body is then picked apart) which is not at all okay, as one of my favorite bloggers recently articulated.  As a result of this decision, I may never celebrate with the entire family again.  But the vegan story ends happily, and with full bellies!

This year, my vegan brother invited us over to a feast at his home, and the meal was so fantastic that I have to share these photos.  His boyfriend roasted a Tofurkey (yes, I know, it sounds funny, Read the rest of this entry »

There are certain dishes that were such a fixture of my childhood that it simply wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.  For me, the best things about Thanksgiving dinner, aside from all my cousins coming over, were the made-from-scratch stuffing and my mom’s apple pie.   After repeated efforts, I’ve veganized both recipes to my satisfaction.

Cookie Sheet Apple Pie

In March, I reminisced about my mother’s cookie-sheet-apple-pie when I posted an apple tart recipe.  Click on that to read why pie is best in a cookie sheet, but come back here for the recipe, because those mini tarts weren’t nearly as good as the real thing!

You’ll need two large glass bowls. Read the rest of this entry »

{November 13, 2010}   Vegan Thanksgiving is Tonight!!

Ching Sanctuary has been holding a vegan thanksgiving dinner in Salt Lake City every year for at least as long as I’ve been vegan.  This year, I’ll be attending  for the first time!  Vegan Thanksgiving has attained mythic status in certain circles.  People talk about the food for weeks beforehand with longing sighs, and for weeks afterward with fond, dreamy remembrance.

I went to a volunteer meeting this year (I was going to bake the pies this year, but Cakewalk took over the desserts….and if I know Kelly, the whole event will only be that much better for it.)   Anyhow, I can safely say that dozens of people devote hours, days, or weeks to making this event a success, both as a fundraiser for a wonderful rescued animal shelter, and as a community celebration.

Thanksgiving is a time of year when many of us struggle to reconcile our love for friends and family who still eat turkeys with our repulsion at having a murdered turkey on the table.  No wonder Vegan Thanksgiving has been so popular, with over 300 guests last year!  Vegans love to celebrate holidays, and it’s so much more joyful when you know nobody was hurt for your feast.

You don’t have to be vegan to come and enjoy a fantastic meal, and the money all goes to a very worthy cause. Ching Farm Rescue & Sanctuary takes in rescued cows, pigs, goats, birds, sheep, and other “farm” animals.  They rehabilitate injured animals and open their doors to the community for tours, so people can visit with the animals and learn to appreciate and understand them as individuals who have, in many cases, overcome miserable and traumatic circumstances.   Get $1 off for every blanket you donate for the pigs.

I’ll see you tonight!!

{November 1, 2010}   Happy November, Vegans!

Today, November 1st, is World Vegan Day, a day to celebrate your nonviolent lifestyle and to spread the word to others who aren’t yet vegan.  (I like to think of non-vegans as not-yet-vegans who will get there with a little encouragement, a shopping buddy, and a plate of vegan cookies, fresh from the oven.)

I’ve been vegan for four and a half years now, and I’m still discovering new reasons to celebrate.  My new-found vegan joys include:

  • coconut milk yogurt
  • a vegan “uncheese” cookbook on sale for $7
  • kombucha!! (bottled, flavored, fermented fungus-based tea, crammed with nutrients and only slightly alcoholic)
  • a place to buy cruelty-free mascara within blocks of my house

Okay, I found three of those things at the nearby Whole Foods, but even if there isn’t a health food grocery store in your neighborhood, you can enjoy my fifth vegan discovery: Vegan MoFo! That stands for Vegan Month of Food, and it kicks off today!

Whether it’s the result of the challenge involved, or the clean conscience, I’ve found that nobody loves food like vegans love food.  (If you doubt that, search Twitter for the hashtag #whatveganseat.)  Anyway, starting today, and going all month long, vegan bloggers will be sharing their food travel diaries, odes to slow cookers, glorious photos of their dinners, and vegan recipes for everything under the sun.  Those who have signed up for the challenge will attempt to post five times a week, for 20 total posts per participant.  And get this: there are over five hundred participating bloggers. Cheers to all my blogging friends who are taking on this challenge!  May your food photograph well, and may your oven never burn your masterpiece.  (No, I won’t be participating this year, but I will be reading the blogs and finding great food inspiration.  Maybe next year I’ll jump in.)

So, here’s to November!  There’s no excuse for being in a breakfast rut, or for putting off your transition to a vegan diet any longer, if you’ve been fence-sitting.  In answer to the persistent question, “What do vegans eat?”, there will soon be about 10,000 new answers online.  Of course, this raises another question: How much can your kitchen (and the stomachs of your family and friends) handle?

Follow VeganMoFo on Twitter, check out their homepage, or go back to where it all began, the Post Punk Kitchen, to start cooking.

Oh, and on more thing:

Perhaps not coincidentally, WordPress just launched today, a site which compiles the best of the WordPress food blogs into one place.  Something tells me that VeganMoFo bloggers are going to make a strong showing.  Good luck to everyone, and Bon Appetit!

Halloween is a holiday that brings a lot of creepy themed food along with it.  Unfortunately, most of it calls for sugar as the main ingredient, but your holiday food can curdle the blood without spiking your blood sugar.   If you’re throwing a party on a chilly autumn night, what better way to warm up your guests than with a bubbling pot of blood-colored soup?

This soup gets its inspiration from the spicy tomato-vodka cocktail of the same name, and yes, feel free to spike the soup!  Every time I make this, I do it a little differently, but here’s the approximate recipe.  Customize according to your own Bloody Mary preferences.

To make Bloody Mary Soup, start with:

1 onion


3 large tomatoes

4 celery stalks

5 cloves of garlic

Chop the vegetables and simmer them in a large pot with:

1/2 cup of vodka

1 tsp Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper (whichever spicy flavor you prefer)

1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (most contain anchovies, so read the label closely to find a vegan brand, or use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead.)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

The alcohol will cook out of the vodka at this stage, so if you want your soup alcoholic, add a shot of vodka to each bowl or glass while serving.

After about 10 minutes, add one large can of pure tomato juice, (you know the ones I mean: they look like a gallon of tomato juice) and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are suitably softened.  At this point, you may wish to blend the soup to give it a smoother texture.  Blending the soup will change the color!  When blended, it will be more of an orangey-red, so decide whether you’re going for the “blood” look, or the Bloody Mary drinkability.

Add salt, pepper, and more of the previously mentioned spices & seasonings to taste.  Serve the soup hot, in bowls or glasses, (remember the optional shot of vodka at this stage) and garnish each with a single celery stalk.

Have a fun and spooky Halloween!

et cetera