Vegan Salt –the blog

{August 23, 2011}   Broccoli Whatnot Soup

Let the anti-candida recipes begin!

A while back, I received Quinoa 365, a purely quinoa cookbook, as a bridal gift from my aunt. Naturally, when I read that quinoa was permitted on an anti-candida diet, I started scanning it for veganizable, sugar-free, gluten-free recipes. By the time I finished tweaking this quinoa soup inspired recipe, it was barely recognizable, but it tasted delicious.

In a soup pot, sautee:

1/2 onion, diced
drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil
1 tsp black pepper

After a few minutes, add:
5 cups broccoli florets or a combination of broccoli and cauliflower (the stalks are fine too, but if you're juicing, remember that broccoli stems are great in your morning vegetable juice.)
16 oz. organic vegetable broth
1/3 cup quinoa

When the quinoa and broccoli have softened, stir in:
1 cup original almond milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
a handful of Daiya shreds, mozzarella or cheddar

When the cheese has melted, blend the soup as much or as little as you'd like, then season with:
5-10 cloves of minced fresh garlic (leaving it to the end rather than cooking it in means it is a more potent fighter of candida.)
Lemon zest and juice, to taste
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste.

Serve hot with May's Gone crackers crumbled on top.


{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!

{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?

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!

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...

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I recently asked Twitter, “Do you spend more or less money on food as a vegan than you did as an omnivore?” and the responses fell pretty evenly into the following categories.

Specialty Vegans – One group said they spend more because food items made for vegans are so expensive.   (See Vegan Grocery Bills -Part 1 on vegan replacements for old favorites like cheese and marshmallows.)  Restaurants that cater specifically to vegans also tend to charge slightly more per plate than low-end standard eateries.

Organic shoppers – Another group said they spend more now, but that it’s because becoming vegan lead them to critically examine the items they consume, and they now buy significantly more organic produce and other high-priced health foods.  Tahini, raw cashews, coconut oil, chai seeds, spelt flour, organic peanut butter; all those would have seemed like luxuries to, say, my mother.  This group of folks is paying more, but eating much higher quality food.

Home Cookers – People in the third category said they actually saved money as vegans by eating out less (sometimes because so few vegan options are available) and by cooking more, usually from scratch.  This is the secret to being a frugal vegan eater. By all means, use Chick’n patties and vegan cream cheese as needed, especially as you transition to eating vegan, but keep in mind that your goal should be eating more whole plant foods.

Yes, this means learning to cook.  Yes, it takes some time, but it saves you a bunch of money, and as much as you may think you hate cooking, you’ll find that a simple meal can taste scrumptious when you have put it together yourself.  Accomplishment is a spice that goes well with everything. Read the rest of this entry »

{August 27, 2010}   Vegan Grocery Bills -Part 1

Is it expensive to eat a vegan diet? There are a lot of pricey vegan specialty foods that could lead you to think so.  Countless hours of research and development have lead to vegan versions of many meat-and-dairy staples.  I’ve tried nearly all of the items below, and I’m quite fond of some of them.  But with very rare exceptions, vegan alternatives to meat, dairy, and other animal-derived products cost significantly more than the items they are replacing.

Of course, there’s a good reason for the disparity in price.  Government subsidies (yep, that’s our tax money) keep the price of animal products artificially low.  In other words, animal farmers and their suppliers are on welfare!  (They have to be, because they’re running an unsustainable industry.  People simply wouldn’t buy much meat or dairy if they had to pay the true cost for it, and factory farms would rapidly start going out of business.)  The makers of these vegan products are not subsidized, so what seems like a high price, is really just a fair price.  Now for some vegan munchies. This is just a tiny sampling of the many incredible animal-free foods now on the market!! Read the rest of this entry »

{July 28, 2010}   Kale Chips!

You may or may recall that one of my personal goals for this year was to learn to eat (and enjoy) kale, the ultimate nutritional powerhouse vegetable.  Kale is a strong and frilly leafy green.  Its flavor is bold and a bit bitter, and its texture is tough, almost rubbery.  Kale makes most lettuce look like wilted onion layers.  For these reasons, kale can be intimidating to many, but kale fans rave about it, so I had to find out what all the buzz was about.

I started out by putting some in my favorite everyday salad.  Sometimes I use half kale, half spinach, other times entirely kale!  It’s quite good with all the vegetables and homemade dressing, once I let it sit for five or ten minutes to marinate and soften.

Ah, but now a wonderful new world has been opened to me by the vegan Twitter community: the world of easy, homemade, vegan “junk” food.  I’m talking, of course, about kale chips.  I threw a batch of them together on impulse before heading to work yesterday, and we devoured them all within minutes.  Kale chips are more compulsively eatable than popcorn or potato chips.  You can flavor them just about any way you like, I imagine, and since they’re made out of kale, you can actually pat yourself on the back (with your seasoning-covered fingers) for munching on them!

Read the rest of this entry »

The day I learned to feel bad about eating was the same day I learned to feel bad about myself.  I was seven years old.  Until then, I’d never noticed the size or shape of the body I inhabited, and I’d never forbidden myself any food.  At dinner with my family that fateful night, I had just reached for my eighth slice of my mom’s homemade pizza (my favorite meal) when she called me away from the table to talk to me about overeating, and about the weight I’d been putting on.  I don’t remember the first seven slices of pizza I ate that evening, but I will never forget that last, joyless slice, topped with sausage, green bell pepper, mozzarella, and black olives.  I chewed it grimly, robotically, eyes and throat burning with stifled tears, and marveled that the food I loved gave me no pleasure or comfort.  As I ate it, I only felt worse.  The little girl who timidly returned to the table that night, steeped in shame and disgust at her appetite for food and her grotesque body, was the girl I would be every time I ate for years to come.

From that point on, food and I went through constant cycles of desire and guilt.  There were fad diets, brief struggles with exercise, a few meager attempts at self-induced vomiting, and baggy clothes to hide me from the eyes of others.  I imagine my obsession with calories, fat, weight, and my distaste for my own body were rather standard for an American girl. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder.  I wasn’t obese.  Once I got a growth spurt in my teens,  I wasn’t even overweight.  I was just your average girl who felt guilty because she ate “bad” food.  (“Badness” could be quantified by the number of calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, size of portion, time of day… I halfheartedly imposed nearly every category of diet on myself at some point.)

But there are two kinds of guilt.

  1. Legitimate remorse and regret for having actually done something wrong, such as turning your back on a friend, putting someone in danger, carelessly breaking a heart, or betraying someone’s trust.
  2. Unreasonable guilt: feeling bad when you’ve done nothing cruel, unkind, or harmful to another.  (Or when the harm you caused was accidental or unavoidable.)

Most of us carry around the wrong kind of guilt, especially when it comes to food.  Guilt is only rational when it is linked to the morally bad, not the nutritionally bad.  However, morally bad food, food worthy of feeling guilty over, does exist.  What makes some food bad (in the primary, ethical sense of the word) is the suffering and injustice that was carried out in the production –generally, its extraction from the body of someone who was given no choice. The only morally bad foods are foods for which other beings were harmed.

Morality in general comes down to whether an action is harmful, cruel, or unkind to others.  Why it took me so long to apply that sense of right or wrong to my food, I can only guess.  But after years of shifting foods from one category to another based on their carb-ness, fat content, or color, the simplicity of this logical good/bad food dichotomy blew my mind.  Veganism freed me from counting calories and all that other nonsense.  Eliminating animal products from my diet meant eliminating any cause for legitimate, ethical guilt about food, breaking the eat/guilt cycle.  (Okay, there are still ethical considerations that factor into plant foods, such as whether coffee and cocoa are fair-trade certified, and whether palm oil is taken from the orangutan forests, but eating a diet of plant rather than animal foods bypasses direct victims; an enormous moral leap!)

Once the food guilt was gone, everything else fell into place–not within a day, but at a steady rate.  Emotionally, I began to fully enjoy eating again, and since food was more fulfilling, my desire to occasionally binge went away.  I stopped thinking of any foods as “forbidden,” not even animal products!  (I can eat them, but I really don’t want to.  Eating the result of suffering and injustice?  Yuck!)  I truly don’t deprive myself of anything anymore, and this healthier mental attitude has changed my entire life.

And what happened to the self-loathing?  Well, it helps that ethically good foods tend to be nutritionally good foods as well, once you take sugar and processed junk out of the equation.  I have lost weight.  Too much weight, according to some people.  But without guilt coming between me and my body anymore, I’ve found that I can truly be happy with my physical size and shape, no matter what other people think of me.  My body is fueled by compassion now.  How delicious is that?!




To learn more about how I lost weight (without trying) by going vegan, click on The End of Dieting.

{April 30, 2010}   Candy Bar Tasting!

On Tuesdays we get together with a couple of friends to watch LOST, munch on vegan junk food like chips & salsa, and speculate on smoke monsters and time travel.  This week, we were all unaware that there had been no new episode, so we had no LOST to watch, but what we did have was four vegan candy bars from Go Max Go.

I got them in the mail on Monday, but managed to hold off on devouring them.  I wanted to share them with people who had eaten standard candy bars more recently than I have, so I could ask how they compared.  It’s been about four years since I’ve eaten a candy bar – the sort with caramel, nuts, or nougat under the chocolate.  As with cow’s milk and cow-milk cheese, their actual taste has become rather blurred in my memory.  Would Go Max Go vegan candy bars pass not only my test, but my friends’ as well?

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{April 18, 2010}   Our Kitties

I have never referred to myself as a “pet owner.”  I find the very idea of owning another being distasteful.  That which we own is our property, and property can be used, abused or abandoned as we see fit.   (The billions of abused creatures in animal agriculture are evidence of the end result of that line of thinking.)  That said, I do live with two cats, and I do refer to them as “my kitties,” just as one might say “my children” implying not a relationship of ownership, but rather one of care or guardianship.  Here they are in their bunk-beds.  Awww….

Three truths about vegans & animals:

  1. In general, vegans strongly support the adoption of animals.  If you can give an animal a home, please adopt one from a shelter.  Please do not buy from a pet store or breeder!  2/3 of cats and dogs in shelters are not adopted, and are euthanized.  Adoption saves lives.   If you’ve heard (as I have) allegations that vegans are opposed to pet ownership, the half truth of it is that vegans tend to dislike the term, but to support taking in and caring for creatures that need us.
  2. I know this is a controversial topic, but there is vegan food for cats and dogs.  Dogs, like humans, are omnivores, and most take very well to vegan dog food, often living healthier, longer lives.  Cats, on the other hand, don’t always thrive on a vegan diet.  Please do some research before changing your animal companion’s food, and monitor him or her closely for signs of trouble.
  3. Becoming vegan can reduce your allergies to non-human animals.  I didn’t grow up with animals.  Allergies to cats and dogs ran in my family.  Cats used to make me sneeze and give me itchy, watery eyes.  If a dog licked me, I would get a rash that lasted several hours.  After becoming vegan, I noticed my symptoms diminishing, and I can now bury my face in a furry cat belly and have no adverse reaction!

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et cetera