Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vegan Pizza! and introducing people to the joys of vegan food

My mom drove in to visit me yesterday. I decided to take the time to try out
Peacefood Cafe. My mom was apprehensive and suspicious at first; joking that she might need a hamburger afterwards. But after she saw 'Kale and Lentil Soup' on the menu she cheered up. The food was fantastic, an instant favorite. The cafe is lovely, comforting candlelight setting, excellent staff and great food. Mmmm, I'm still dreaming of the dumplings and mushroom pizza (see the end for details of our meal or my fiancé's yelp review).
I do not understand why some people freak out at the mention of vegan food. To me vegan food is just another genre like Chinese or Mexican food. In America it's common for the average person to try all genres of food. However, mention vegan food and they think the worst. Just like with every other genre of foods there are great vegan restaurants and bad ones; there are extremely strange food items and common ones.

It's been a struggle trying to incorporate vegan items for our wedding in July. Since I will be the only vegan there, it's assumed the food will be all meat/dairy etc. However, I am the bride. If the bride can't eat at her own wedding, there's a problem. I've made many concessions to include BBQ chicken, non-vegan pies etc on the menu. All I want is vegan cake/cupcakes and a small portion of West Indian style vegan food from Strictly Roots. My fiance and I used to go to Strictly Roots every month, it holds great memories. In the end a wedding should represent the bride and groom. I'm so tired of the "consumer driven" and "cookie cutter" wedding industry. But we are standing strong in our goals to plan an environmentally and budget friendly wedding that represent us and our beliefs. For anyone trying to plan an out of the box wedding I recommend you check out OffBeat Bride and The Green Bride Guide.

What we ordered at PeaceFood Cafe:
1. Pan-Seared Shanghai-Style Dumplings (homemade dumplings filled with chinese chives, shitake & wood ear mushrooms, marinated tofu & vegetarian protein, served with a ginger balsamic dipping sauce)
2. Chickpea Fries with dipping sauce
3. Mushroom Duxelle Pizza with roasted sweet peppers, onions & zucchini (I got half with soy cheese and half without)
4. Thai Curry
5. Kale and Lentil Soup

Peacefood Cafe Inc
460 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
(212) 362-2266

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ayyam-i-Ha and Vegan Sugar Cookies

Last year I started an Ayyam-i-Ha tradition to bake sugar cookies in the shape of 9-pointed stars. I'm happy that even though I'm a vegan now that tradition can continue.

Mmm sugar cookies. I even saved some dough to bake next week. It'll be nice to eat them at 5 am when I start fasting this Tuesday.

Vegan Sugar Cookies

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup margarine, slightly softened (like Earth Balance "butter" sticks)
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract (you can also use almond, maple or any other flavor)
1/4 cup vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)

1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder
and set aside.
2. In a larger bowl, cream the shortening, margarine and sugar with electric beaters until the mixture gets all soft and fluffy, for at least 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure everything mixes in.
3. Now beat in the vanilla and lemon extracts and the soymilk until everything is just combined.
4. Beat in half the flour and when it is thoroughly moistened, and then mix in the rest to form a soft dough.
5. Divide the dough into two and pat each portion into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
6. On a lightly floured platform or board, roll each disc to about
3/8ths-inch thickness. Cut it into shapes with a cookie cutter. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1-inch apart. Reroll leftover scraps and shape into more cookies.
7. In a preheated, 350-degree oven, bake the cookies for about 10 minutes until done.
8. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool for five minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

(Recipe from the book Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa
Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, published by Da Capo
Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I cheated today

I've been a vegan for 2 weeks. However, I must confess that I cheated today. And not with anything exciting like brie/cheese or non-vegan ice-cream. I had.....WHEY. I blame it on the loaf of non-vegan bread in my frig. I blame it on the fact that I had to eat breakfast on the go and thought a peanut butter and banana sandwich would be innocent enough. Sigh.

Anyone have a good recommendation for vegan bread? Or vegan (egg-less) pasta?

And for those of you who don't know the list of common non-vegan ingredients......
  • Casein (calcium caseinate): Milk protein, found in some soy cheeses
  • Gelatin: Protein obtained by boiling cattle/hog skins, tendons, ligaments or bones with water
  • Rennet: Made from calves' stomachs, also in some soy cheeses
  • Whey: Milk derivative, found in lots of things like the bread I had this morning
If you want to go super crazy click here for a massive list of non vegan ingredients.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baked Tofu spiced with Old Bay Seasonings

I've been using this recipe for baked tofu even before my vegan days. It takes 3 minutes to prepare then just pop in the oven and wait for a delectable surprise.

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cut extra-firm tofu into 1/2 inch pieces (if you want a less crunchy texture cut thicker pieces)
  3. Oil a pan with olive oil
  4. Place tofu in pan
  5. Put Old Bay Seasoning evenly over tofu, enough to visibly see it.
  6. Cover and bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the edges are light brown
  7. Enjoy the spicy awesome-ness

Vegan waffles for Valentines Day

I know it's late.....But I made delicious vegan waffles for Valentine's Day, even my non-vegetarian fiance loved them. I was doubtful before tasting them because the recipe didn't call for an egg replacer. However, the banana works well here.

  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 cups water (I used soy milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (I mixed whole-wheat and unbleached flour)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: Mix together the mashed banana and water/milk. Add dry ingredients and mix. Leave some lumps in the batter. This will help the waffle stay together. According to the recipe, you can also use this to make pancakes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vegan chocolate cupcakes taste freaking awesome, Bisquick is vegan and nutritional yeast gravy tastes bad

A long title for my 3 hour cooking session.....

  1. Baked Tempeh
  2. Bisquick biscuits with soy milk
  3. Stir-fried Broccoli
  4. Nutritional yeast gravy
  5. Vegan chocolate cupcakes with cookies and cream icing

  • The tempeh was alright. I made it mostly because I was bored of tofu etc.
  • Bisquick and I are now best friends. I had no idea packaged biscuits could taste so good, be so fluffy....And so easy -> just add soy milk, mix then knead.
  • The gravy was bad. Really bad. And it's not the vegan butter's fault, it's the nutritional yeast. For months I've tried to fake a friendship with this inactive yeast that has a high B12 concentration and weird cheesy taste. But the truth is I don't like it. It taste sort of good on eggs (when I used to it those) or popcorn.
  • "Vegan cupcakes take over the world!", a well deserved title. The chocolate cupcakes were freaking awesome. The cookies and cream icing was good in the beginning. However, I'd recommend not putting all the crushed cookies in the icing. They get soggy after awhile.
Baked Tempeh
  • Boil strips of tempeh in water for 10 minutes. This will help the marinade seep in.
  • Drain, then marinate (I used soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and pepper) for an hour
  • Bake at 350 until well browned

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Starter Vegan Shopping List

Vegan-ifying my kitchen (clockwise from top center): Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, Temph, Jungle's non-hydrogenated soft shortening and Ener-G Egg Replacer

  • My favorite soy milk is 'Silk Very Vanilla'. I actually like it better than milk. However it's a bit pricey. I'm trying out Whole Foods' 365 brand ($2 cheaper) to see if it's good.
  • Almond milk is lovely. It's like a skim version of soy milk.
  • Earth Balance is awesome. I can't believe it's vegan ;)
  • For all those bakers out there, please use NON hydrogenated shortening. It's shortening made from natural sources like palm fruit oil and sunflower oil. Jungle 's received great reviews for buttercream icing or pie crust making. FYI, trans fats from hydrogenated oils can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Enger-G egg replacer works like it should using combo of potato starch, tapioca flour, leavening etc.

Slant rant: I purchased sublingual (dissolves under the tongue) B12 vitamins last night in a hurry. However, when I got home I noticed the ingredients included milk. Booooo. I will be returning them tomorrow for some vegan B12.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Vitamins Vital for Vegans!

One of the most common concerns about switching to veganism/vegetarianism is health. And the common question of “Where do you get your protein or calcium?” are actually not the things you should be worried about. You can benefit from the hours I spent online visiting sites like by reading my synopsis below (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so if you have concerns please ask a medical professional)
As a vegan you need more B12, Omega-3 and Omega-6. Other top concerns like Iodine -> fixed if you use ¼ teaspoon of iodinized salt a day, or Vitamin D -> Go outside, breathe fresh air and take in the sun (light-skinned: 10-15 minutes, dark-skinned: 20 minutes, elderly: 30 minutes).
The lowdown on B12:
  • First off, the source of B12 you need can only be found in meat, soil/micro-organisms, fortified foods (cereal, soy milk etc) or supplements.
  • Studies have shown that humans store B12 in their bodies for years. So if you were a meat eater for a long time then you have a decent storage of B12. You will only need 1.0 - 2.5 µg, three times a day from fortified foods or supplements.
  • If you're like me and haven’t eaten meat since you were 12. Then you’ll need to create a store of B12. Buy a bottle of 1,000 µg (or greater) B12 chewable/sublingual tablets. Take 2,000 µg a day for 2 weeks. It's okay to take more than recommended.
  • Note on multi-vitamins: Vitamin C in doses of 500 mg or more taken within one hour or B12 may diminish B12 availability or destroy the B12. Also for B12 absorption it needs to be chewable or sublingual.
Balancing your Omega-3 versus Omega-6:
In a perfect world you’ll drink a few teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day. Or grind flaxseeds using a coffee grinder and put them in your foods.
  • Note: The Omega will not be digested from ungrounded flax seeds and heating flaxseed oil damages it, but it can be put on warm food such as toast. Flaxseed oil should be kept in the refrigerator.
For those of you not wanting to do this, here is what you need to know.
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fight each other in your body. So cooking things high in Omega-3 in oil high in Omega-6 lessens the nutritional potential. Oils high in Omega-6: corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, "vegetable," sesame oil. Oils low in omega-6: olive, avocado, peanut, or canola.
  • This table has a list of high Omega-3 and Omega-6 sources.

So the next time someone ask about your protein intake tell them they should be worried about your B12 instead ;)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My first official act as a vegan was to visit BabyCakes in the lower east side (LES) of manhattan. I am OBSESSED with baked goods. I used to visit Magnolia Bakery monthly. I would say at midnight "I want something sweet" and next thing I'm baking a full on production of cakes/pies/cookies. So by far the hardest thing for me and this vegan thing is baked goods. In my mind if I could find great vegan baked goods I'd be ok....My decision would not be so dramatic.

We got there at 10:58 pm and they close at 11 pm. It was fate. I got two cupcakes: red velvet and chocolate, both made using spelt flour. My fiance got a carrot cake cupcake, gluten free variety. I'm not going to lie. Magnolia's cupcakes taste better. They have the "crack factor" on their side ie butter and heavy cream. But the cupcakes were very good. The chocolate cupcake was my favorite. The red velvet one was too heavy. The icing on the red velvet one was lovely though. Mmmm. My goal was achieved, I found cupcakes that made me believe I could make the vegan choice.

Since I don't like trekking it to the LES. I reserved from the library what I think is seen as the "Holy of holies" in vegan cookbooks better known as Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! After the 30th great review from people on a short name basis with the cookbook (VCTOW). I was convinced. I'll be trying out recipes this weekend :)

Let the Vegan Revolution Begin!

So I did it. I made the decision to live vegan.

After being a pescatarian for 13 years (vegetarian 2 of those years), I've extended the cut to include seafood, milk and eggs etc.

For those of you wondering why..... I've always based my dietary beliefs on "I won't eat anything that weighs heavy on my soul." Growing up I only felt guilty/bad/sad eating things that could walk/fly. I never felt anything when I thought of killing fish. So I ate accordingly. However after reading numerous books The Omnivore's Dilemma and Skinny Bitch, watching documentaries like Food, Inc. and Super Size Me I've had enough....If you haven't seen these movies or read these books please do. The amount of deception going on in our food industry is scary. Food, Inc. was the worst kind of horror movie, one that's true.

Things that weigh heavy on my soul:
  1. By consuming diary products I was contributing to the death of cows (Female cows must continue to give birth to produce milk. Most male offspring of diary cows are killed for meat)
  2. Most cows are overmilked by machines so that puss comes out from their udders.
  3. The fishing industry is throwing the marine ecosystem off balance.
  4. The form/type of calcium obtained from milk is NOT the kind that helps our bones etc. (Some studies even tied high milk consumption to osteoporosis)
  5. In many farms chickens are abused and mistreated. By eating eggs I was giving money to that industry. Though the jury still out on "range free" or "cage free" eggs.
It's only been a week. I've given up everything except butter (which I will give up as soon as I buy vegan margarine). It's been hard and easy. The more I read about being a vegan the happier I am with my choice. But milk by-products are in everything. Even my favorite veggie chi'kn nuggets :(

This blog will be about my conversion to veganism, living a pure life and whatever my guest bloggers have to offer.

Ask yourself, how much do you trust the F.D.A. to keep your food safe?