Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Birthday and Pizza

A lovely veggie pizza right out of the oven
For my birthday every year my mom and I experiment and cook something new. Two years ago we made seitan from scratch for the first time for vegan tacos and then made a pumpkin cheesecake. Last year, we invested in sushi rollers and learned how to roll our own sushi. This year we decided to try vegan pizza and a raw dessert. Both turned out fabulous! The raw dessert we made was a cheesecake with strawberries, you can see the recipe and photos in my post here.

I made two pizzas, one regular veggie one (as seen above) and a BBQ tofu one. The BBQ tofu one was by far the favorite of everyone that tried the two. It was so amazing! On the BBQ tofu pizza I just spread BBQ sauce on the crust and topped it with tofu strips, sliced red onions, and a mix of vegan cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. On the regular veggie one I put olive oil and spices on the crust (see right) then spread tomato sauce on it. I topped it with all of the veggies listed below and then a mix of cheeses.

Sauce:

Tomato sauce (I just used spaghetti sauce)
BBQ sauce

Toppings:

Zucchini slices
Tomato slices
Red onion slices
Bell pepper slices
Mushroom slices
Artichoke hearts
Ground seitan (ground seitan recipe here)
BBQ tofu slices (BBQ tofu recipe here)
Vegan cheddar cheese (I like Daiya brand)
Vegan mozzarella cheese (they were out of Daiya mozarella, but the Galaxy Nutritional Foods Mozzarella worked just fine)

Dough:

2 Tbs Yeast
1/2 C Warm water
1 tsp Sugar
3 C Hot water
2 tsp Salt
1/2 C Agave
7 1/2 - 8 1/2 C Unbleached white flour

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Stir yeast, water, and sugar together and let sit to proof the yeast. Next stir hot water, salt, agave, and 3 1/2 C flour together and let cool. Add the yeast mixture and up to 5 C flour, or until the dough is a soft consistency. Knead for 10 minutes and then let raise for 30.

Sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom of a pizza pan or other round pan. Spread the dough out evenly, bunching it up around the sides to make a sort of crust. After it is spread over the whole pan, spread sauce over the crust, sprinkle on toppings of choice, and then cover with shredded cheese.

Place the finished pizza in the pan on a pizza stone for 5 minutes. Then slide the pizza off of the pan and directly onto the stone. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
pre-baked, pre-cheesed BBQ pizza

pre-baked, pre-cheesed veggie pizza
Finished BBQ tofu pizza!
Ben and I decorating pizzas at my parents house
Recipe idea thanks to:
My mom

BBQ Tofu

Though this could be eaten plain on in another dish, it was fabulous on my BBQ pizza! I love the texture of the pressed tofu, but Organicville BBQ sauce is what really made it great.

1/4 - 1/2 C BBQ sauce (I love Organicville brand)
1/2 lb Tofu
2 Tbs Canola oil
1 Tbs Soy sauce

Slice the tofu into pieces (mine were about 3 x 3 x 1" squares). Press tofu until all water is drained out either in a tofu press or by placing it on some paper towels under something heavy. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix soy sauce and peanut oil in a bowl and dredge pressed tofu in the mixture (it should soak it all up pretty quickly if you pressed it enough). Bake the tofu for 15 minutes and then flip and bake for 15 more minutes. Coat with BBQ sauce and return to the oven for a final 15 minutes.

Recipe thanks to:
Veganomicon
Barbecued tofu and red onions on a pre-baked pizza

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Few Notes...

First off, I wanted to make a note about the McDougall program recipes I have been and will continue to publish. One of the Dr. McDougall's philosophies is that people over salt their food. One of the reasons for this is that people salt food as it cooks, loosing a lot of the potency. To prevent this he promotes 'putting the salt on the table' or, salting your food as you eat it. SO if you are like Ben and think the recipes are lacking in salt, they probably are. I personally don't mind so much but if you think they could use a bit more salt throw some on there! As you eat it, of course :)

Secondly, I am participating in the Vegan Month of Food! The Vegan MOFO (Month of Food) is when a bunch of vegan bloggers post once a day for an entire month about vegan food! So, for the month of November, you will be getting a post from me everyday! Mostly recipes, but maybe some other (dare I say filler?) posts about vegan food too :) I am super excited!


Read more about Vegan MOFO here: http://www.vegnews.com/web/articles/page.do?pageId=2638&catId=2

Raw Cheesecake

A fabulous raw cheesecake my mom and I experimented on for my birthday dessert. Ben's mom, who is a raw foodie, came over and approved heartily! This is my second raw dish, and I am very proud of myself (my first raw food dish was zucchini noodles and pesto). Hopefully raw food can take its place in my weekly menu, I just love it!

Crust:

1/4 C Unsweeted shredded coconut
2 C Pecans, chopped
4-6 Dates, pitted

Filling:

3 C Raw cashews
3/4 C Fresh lemon juice
3/4 C Agave
3/4 C Coconut oil
1/4 tsp Vanilla

Topping: (optional)

1 lb Strawberries, chopped

Place the dates and cashews in a medium bowl and cover with water. Let soak for one hour and then drain. Sprinkle the coconut flakes in the bottom of an 8" pie dish. In a food processor, blend the pecans and dates until crumbly and sticky. Gently press the mixture into the pan to form a crust. Submerge the coconut oil jar in hot water until it is melted. Next, blend all of the filling ingredients in a blender. Pour the filling over the crust and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours.

Defrost in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. Garnish with sliced strawberries, or blend strawberries with a little bit of agave for a strawberry sauce.

Recipe thanks to:
The Pioneer Woman

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Broccoli Mushroom Sauce

The SECOND of my McDougall program recipes! I had this over a baked potato but I am sure it would be good with rice as well. So yummy!

Barley Mushroom Soup

After my post about the 'diet' program I wanted to start at the beginning of this month I wrote up a meal plan and shopping list. BUT then we went out of town, etc. and it just never happened. Finally on Thursday Ben and I went to the store and bought everything on my list and yesterday I got a few recipes made. Here is the first in a long line on McDougall recipes! It was super filling and flavorful. I love the barley and the mushrooms. However, it is much better warm than cold.

Raw Zucchini Noodles and Pesto

A few days ago Ben and I had some friends, Meg and Jack, over for dinner. I had a ton of basil in the fridge from my massive basil plant so we decided to make pesto - along with something new! Zucchini noodles! So I borrowed my mom's apple corer/peeler (see right) and we tried sticking a zucchini on it. Ah, fail. It didn't work at all. SO we just used a regular peeler and went with more linguine-type slices. While Ben and Jack worked on peeling zucchinis, Meg and I worked on pesto. I have actually never made pesto before so it was kind of an experiment. The recipe below is kind of a collaboration of a few recipes I have seen, but we just kind of threw it together, did some taste tests, etc. When all the zucchinis were peeled we peeled a few carrots, sliced a red onion and a cucumber and tossed it all with the pesto. It was even better with a little bit of spaghetti sauce on top but somehow that didn't make it into the photo. Without the spaghetti sauce this is actually a raw dish!


2 C Fresh basil leaves, packed
6 Tbs Olive oil
1/3 C Pine nuts
3 Tbs Lemon juice, to taste
4-6 Cloves garlic, to taste
2 dashes Salt, to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until desired consistency. Since I kind of made up the recipe you will just have to add things like lemon juice, garlic, and salt to your own preference.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reno, NV and Livermore, CA

Ben, Ben's family, and me!


Ok, ok. I know I promised new, healthy recipes. Unfortunately about the time I was planning out my new meal plan and getting exited about my new way of eating Ben and I were preparing to go out of town. THUS all of if was postponed until this week. BUT tomorrow happens to be my birthday so it may still be a few days until we really get into the groove of it all since it is hard to have a really fabulous birthday on a diet, especially with my mother around. We are planning on making some tasty veggie and bbq tofu pizzas as well as a raw cheesecake. mmm...I am looking forward to that. So, many recipes to come!

This blog post is to catalog our adventures last week. Ben, Ben's brother, and Ben's mom (who is raw) and I all drove down to Livermore, California to be with Ben's family. As you can see in the picture above it was a crazy weekend with a ton of people and a ton of children all in one house! Ahhh! But we had fun, got to go hiking, and stopped at two restaurants I loved!

On the way down we stopped at the Pneumatic Diner in Reno, Nevada. It was to die for! They even had a tasty raw meal for Ben's mom, which she thoroughly enjoyed. If Pneumatic was in Utah I am pretty sure I would go there every weekend. When I walked in they were playing Waylon Jennings and then it switched to Woodie Guthrie for the rest of the time we were in there! How cool is that?! Even though it was a tiny little place it was not stuffy or hot and the service was fantastic! I cant remember the exact name of what I ordered but it was basically a toasted french bread sandwich with a good amount of pesto and piles of ratatouille vegetables with some hummus-like cheese on the side to slather on (see picture). It was supposed to be a sandwich but I couldnt even imagine fitting all those veggies in between the bread, much less trying to bring it all to my mouth, so I just ate it with a fork. My favorite part was the eggplant in the ratatouille. It was cut into small 1/2-inch squares and then marinated and cooked in such a way that it was just...amazing. When I bit into it juices would flow out and it was perfectly cooked so that it didn't have that raw-eggplant-chewyness but it also wasn't mushy. The sandwich didn't really need the cheese but it was good with just a little bit on it. Ben ordered a sandwich as well with the same bread. His had a sort of marinara sauce on the bread with sauteed onions and green peppers and meat balls. It was kind of plain without the cheese, but with it the sandwich just sang. Congrats to the chefs at Pneumatic for making sandwich symphonies. I also got a cup of mate to go, equally as good, and Ben and I shared a brownie (our sandwiches were huge). The brownie was SO GOOD! crunchy on both top and bottom but fudgey inside. Ahh. Ben's mom got zucchini pasta with pesto and a ton of raw veggies on top, including a whole avocado at her request for no extra cost! The two guys working when we were there were extremely accommodating and let her basically make her own meal. They even have a list of all the foods and ingredients they have in the kitchen so you can make whatever you want. Overall, 5 out of 5 stars - a great experience. UPDATE - Ben and I have been here a second time and it wasn't nearly as good. They had no vegan treats and it turns out the only good entree is that sandwich. Now I would say 3/5... definitely would stop there if I'm going through Reno, but not my favorite place.
While in Livermore we ordered pizza from our favorite pizza place EVER, Z Pizza. We absolutely adore their Berkely Vegan pizza. It is made with a thin, crispy crust topped with marinara sauce, Daiya mozzarella, spicy vegan sausage, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, and bell peppers. Too bad we didn't take our own photos, but I did get a teeny photo off their site so you can kind of see the pizza's awesomeness. 5/5 stars.

Anyway, that was our trip. Two great restaurants and fun time with family! And like I said - healthy recipes are in the works, I promise...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Time for a Change

How did this happen?

Last winter, Ben and I were faithful gym-goers. We worked out every day for over an hour and were diligent junk food avoiders. Spring came and we kept up our routine until finals started taking over our lives. I was also completely consumed with the Animal Ethics Conference, which I had spent the last year of my life planning (you can read the press release about the conference here if you are interested), and almost went insane between the many things I had committed to. This lead me to stop going to the gym altogether and eat whatever vegan food I could scrounge up.

When summer finally came I was so exhausted with the previous semester I didn't pick back up regular gym-going to give myself a month or two to 'recover.' Unfortunately, the addition of a new job at Symantec coupled with my fast paced summer classes made this 'recovery' turn into a lifestyle. It became easier to just not go to the gym every day since I found myself, once again, crazily busy. Ben and I also enjoyed the ability to cook whatever we wanted without regard to ingredients, which would have previously desecrated our smokin' bods (ok, maybe smokin' isn't the word I am looking for...) and to eat out at places we had been abstaining from. As you can see from our recent recipes, we have shied away from nothing; earth balance? sugar? Bring it on!

Aaaaaand now we are paying for it. Myself more than Ben, of course. Ben has an unearthly metabolism, but his physique has still suffered from our lack of exercise. MY physique on the other hand has, well, more than suffered—I've realized my steady weight gain may be exponential. Contrary to popular belief, adopting a vegan diet is not the ONLY thing you need to do to be thin.

Now to the point of this post. Ben and I have decided to go on 'diets.' But that's not really what I want to call them, since they aren't what you would traditionally call a diet; I would call it more restrictive eating with the addition of regular exercise. Diets usually requires eating less calories than it takes to keep your heart pumping, popping some hyper-active-metabolism pills, or pumping your self full of hormones pregnant women produce (HCG people, that's all it is). This 'diet' is for optimal heath. Yes, Ben and I have enjoyed the things we have cooked recently, we have enjoyed the extra time to sit around and feel relaxed, but it comes with a price. Beyond weight gain we don't feel as healthy. I don't have the boundless energy like I did last year and I get winded climbing up the three flights of stairs to my cube. Ben and my skin and hair are greasier, and we have both been breaking out more than usual. Ben mostly comments on his decreased muscle mass as a con to our recent lifestyle.

The 'diets'

Now for the diets themselves. I have decided to pick back up the way I was eating last year when I felt the healthiest I have ever been. The diet is called the McDougall Program. John A. McDougall, MD created a nourishing, low-fat, starch-based diet to reverse serious illnesses such as heart disease without the use of surgery or drugs, and a great side effect of such eating habits is healthy fat loss! (learn more about Dr. McDougall and the eating habits he promotes). Dr. McDougall is also the author of several books including The McDougall Plan: 12 Days to Dynamic Health, McDougall's Medicine: A Challenging Second Opinion, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss. I happen to own the last book in that list, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss, and think that the eating program it suggests and the meal plans it contains are fabulous. Like I said, last year I tried eating according to the principles in the book and felt so healthy! I also feel that the program is sustainable, unlike most diets. The principles are based on controlling fat intake and insulin secretion with a starch and vegetable based vegan diet—which is the way I think I should be eating anyway!

Ben has decided to try something new. Since his goals are not to find a healthy weight, but rather to gain muscle mass, he is going on quite a different eating plan. He just bought Robert Cheeke's book Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness. Robert Cheeke is a professional vegan body builder and his book includes meal plans and workouts for vegans who want to bulk up. Since bulking up includes eating a ton (4,000 cal/day!), without simply getting fatter, the book has great ideas and recipes for calorie and nutrient-dense health foods (visit the book website here).

Enough already

Anyway, I'm not trying to turn this recipe blog into a person blog about Ben and my diet plans and exercise goals. I am merely preparing anyone who reads this blog for the recipes to come over the next few months. My blog will no longer have a subtle comfort food theme like it has had over the last few months—instead, that theme will be replaced by one of optimal health! I am excited to go back to cooking in a more health-conscious way and experiment with new recipes!

Dutch Oven Pot Pie

In the middle of the summer Ben and I borrowed two of my mom's dutch ovens and a briquette chimney starter thinking we would take a nice drive up the canyon and try our hand at some dutch oven cooking. Unfortunatley that didn't happen until last night. And it wasn't up the canyon, it was on our 4x4 foot slab of concrete porch. Neither Ben or I had ever actually done dutch oven on our own so it was quite an adventure.

Our first mistake was buying natural charcoal, aka burnt wood (I had only ever used normal briquettes and was easily persuaded something that was not chemical laden would be a better choice). We attempted starting the little pieces in the chimney with little success with them except to melt the metal walls of the chimney and the tin foil preserving our concrete. When we tried stoking them under the dutch ovens they went out (there is more to this story, and it really isn't worth telling). After and hour or so we gave up and ran over to Macey's for some normal briquettes. Those lit up just fine and kept the dutch ovens hot the whole time they were baking. Whew.

Our second mistake was trying to make up a apple cobbler recipe. I stole a jar of my mom's home made apple pie filling (YUM) and then made up a sort of topping from a few recipes I found online. It was a total failure. The pie filling was fabulous, of course, but the topping was so greasy it dripped. The whole thing turned into a sort of melted earth balance and brown sugar soup. Ew. Thus I am not even going to post that recipe or any pictures of our attempt because it was gross. But, to redeem my mother's apple pie filling, we will have to make an apple pie very soon. Watch for that.

Have no fear! The entire night was not a disaster! We tried a 'pot pie' recipe I found on a vegan blog over the months of waiting to do dutch oven and it was AMAZING! I cannot stress how good it was. If I did ratings of my recipes this would have 5 stars. 5 million stars. Crisp, flaky crust, perfectly tender veggies, and a to die for gravy. Ben, Josh (Ben's brother who came over to laugh at our mistakes), and I ate so much of it we could hardly move. I fell asleep vowing never to eat again and then woke up this morning wanting more :) Below is the recipe. I put one little tip on when to start the briquettes but other than that did not really give any tips on dutch oven cooking. I put a link at the bottom with some really great tips for those of you who have never done dutch oven before.

Pot Pie Filling:

2 Tbsp Oil
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Salt
 2 lb Firm tofu
3 Large potatoes
2 C Baby carrots
2 C Frozen peas
4 cloves Garlic, minced

Gravy:

6 Tbs Oil
6 Tbs Whole wheat flour
6 Tbs Nutritional yeast
3 C Water
3 C Oat milk (or soy, or almond...)
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sage
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Paprika

Top Crust:

2 C Whole wheat flour
1 C Vegetable shortening
1 tsp Salt
1/2 C Water

Start by prepping the pot pie filling. Drain the tofu and then pat dry. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut potatoes and carrots into 1/2-inch pieces and boil for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Next start on the gravy. Stir oil, flour, and nutritional yeast together in a large pot over medium high heat on the stove. Once the mixture begins to bubble add the remaining gravy ingredients. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Set aside.

Note: Once you are done with the chopping and boiling and have the gravy going I would start the briquettes in the chimney. They will take about 10-20 minutes to be ready to use so start them 10-20 minutes before you think you will be ready to use them. You will need 24 briquettes if you are using a 18-20" dutch oven like we did (this recipe is huge so you will need a large dutch oven).

Next start on the crust. Mix flour and salt together. Cut in shortening with a fork until dough appears crumbly. Add water a little bit at a time and knead with your hands until dough can be shaped into a ball. Roll out dough on a floured surface to the diameter of the dutch oven and cover with a moist cloth until ready to place on the pie.

The briquettes should now be ready. Place 3 briquettes around each foot of the dutch oven for a total of 9 briquettes. Add the chopped onion, oil, and salt from the filling ingredients once the dutch oven is heated. Saute until the onions are soft, then add remaining filling ingredients. Simmer for about 2 minutes, mixing frequently. Finally mix in the gravy and cover with the crust.

Once the pie is done cover with the lid and place 15 briquettes around the rim. Let bake approximately 45 minutes, or until the crust is crispy. To ensure even heat, rotate the entire dutch oven and the lid a quarter turn every 10 minutes.

Recipe thanks to:
Idaho Vegan

Dutch oven cooking tips thanks to:
Dutch Oven Dude
My mom

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ben has been hankering for oatmeal cookies all week. So finally this afternoon we called up my mom, got her recipe, modified it a bit, and voila! AMAZING cookies. Ah they are so good. Gooey, chocolaty, chewy. YUM.

2 T Flax seeds, ground
6 T Warm water
1/2 C Earth balance
1/2 C Applesauce
1 C Turbinado sugar
1 C Brown sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
2 C Whole wheat flour
2 C Rolled oats
¾ tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 C Grain sweetened chocolate chips (I like sunspire brand)

Mix flax seeds and water in a mixing bowl and let sit. Add earth balance, applesauce, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add remaining ingredients. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Recipe idea thanks to:
My mom

Spicy Mac n' Yease

I finally had a chance to try and recreate the Spicy Mac 'n' Yease we had at Plum Bistro in Seattle. After we went to Seattle I found a few recipes for the Mac n Yease from Plum on the internet (I'm not the only one who raves about it). The recipe below is kind of a collaboration on the recipes I found and some of Ben and my own improvisations. The result was really, really, really good.

Spicy...greasy...mmm. It is definitely a new favorite.

1 pkg Ziti noodles
1/2 C Earth Balance
1/2 C Unbleached white flour
1 C Nutritional yeast
4 C Boiling water
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1 pinch of Turmeric
1 pinch of Cayenne pepper
1 Tbs Red pepper flakes (this is for hot, less if you want medium or mild)
2 Tbs Tamari/soy sauce
1/2 Tbs Mustard
2 C (one package) Daiya mozzarella cheese
1 slice Bread

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add macaroni. Cook until desired tenderness.

Melt the margarine over low heat and then beat in flour with a wire whisk. Continue to beat over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Boil 4 C water and then whisk into the margarine and flour. Add salt, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne, pepper flakes, soy sauce, and mustard. Cook until the sauce thickens and bubbles, then whisk in the nutritional yeast.

Cut slide of bread into four pieces and put in a food processor. Process until the bread turns into small crumbs.

Mix bubbly mixture, 1 1/2 C of Daiya, and cooked noodles together. Pour into 9x13 pan and top with remaining Daiya and bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 m.

Recipe idea thanks to:
Plum Bistro
Rootielicious
Veg Web