"If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud." ~ Emile Zola

17 November 2010

A Vegan MoFo Blogger Survey

Many of the other VeganMoFo bloggers have posted answers to a MoFo survey and I thought that I would do the same. Fun!

What is one food you thought you'd miss when you went vegan, but don't?
Cheese. The funny thing is I have developed a strong sensitivity to the taste and can detect it easily. Where 13 years ago (when I became vegan) cheese tasted creamy and wonderful, it now tastes sickeningly milky and overly rich. When I get hungry for "cheese" now, it's solely for the faux variety.

What is a food or dish that you wouldn't touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Jam/jelly, mustard, salads.

What vegan food or dish do you feel like you should like but you don't?
Raw vegetables. I hate all vegetables in raw form but carrots, unless they are drenched in a yummy dressing or sauce.

What beverage do you consume the most of each day?
Water mostly, with some soy milk in the morning.

What dish are you famous for bringing to gatherings?
Cupcakes! Vegan Red Velvet from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World have impressed many a vegan and non-vegan alike. :)

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
I have lots of 'food rules'- lol. No fruit with chocolate. No peanut butter in desserts. Raw foods must be smothered in sauce to be edible. A dish must smell good to taste good.

What's one food or dish that you eat too much off when it's in your home?
Anything sweet. If it's in the house, I will find it and consume it.

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available repackaged?
Salad dressing and pancake mix.

What ingredient or food is worth spending extra money on to get the good stuff?
Organic grapes and chocolate!

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
I'm not much of a snacker, per se, as my normal eating schedule involves eating lots of small meals throughout the day. But when I do snack, I like cookies, chips and salsa or guacamole, steamed and salted edamame, carrot sticks or apples with peanut butter, crackers with Tofutti cream cheese, or toast with almond butter and raisins.

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Follow Your Heart Mozzarella, fresh garlic, olive oil, tomato slices (Roma are best), and roasted red pepper!

What's your favorite fruit and vegetable?
Pineapple and asparagus.

What is the best salad dressing?
My favorite is a balsamic vinaigrette I make by blending balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup, mustard, a bit of water, and sometimes crushed garlic.

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
Margarine and cinnamon & sugar.

What kind of soup do you turn to on a chilly day or when you don't feel well?
West African Groundnut Stew with ciabatta.

What is your favorite cupcake and icing flavor?
Hmmm... that's a toughie. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing or red velvet with old fashioned white icing.

What is your favorite type of cookie?
Chocolate Chip!

What is your most-loved weeknight meal?

Pancakes with vegan snausages or Field Roast Celebration Roast with roasted potatoes and carrots. But I have many favorite, go-to meals, and my top choices change frequently.

What is one food or dish you enjoy but can't get anyone else in your house to eat?
I can't really think of anything. My partner loves all sorts of foods.

How long on average do you spend in the kitchen each day?
About 1-2 hours.

There was my survey! I would love to read yours too.

16 November 2010

Vegan "Cheeses": Adventures in Cheeze Land

Ahhhh... the quest for a fabulous (or even adequate) vegan cheeze substitute! My adventures have taken me on quite a journey thus far. :) Here I review many of them...

Yes, this is vegan cheeze! Check out my review of
Sheese below.

Amy's Kitchen Mac and Cheese- OMG. Let's start with the best, which happens to be my most recent discovery on the search for the perfect vegan cheeze. I waited for a long time for this to come to my local food stores after I saw ads from Amy's, and checked faithfully for months! Just a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find it at my local food co-op- hooray! And YUM! SO worth the wait! This mac is soooo creamy, cheezy, flavorful and delicious pasta heaven! Plus the pasta is made from rice. It's a whopping 500+ calories for a small lunch-sized serving, so I indulge (happily) only occasionally. But I could seriously eat this every day. The secret magic ingredient is Daiya, a new and groundbreaking cheeze that has the food scene with a slam dunk. Score!

Be careful when picking this up from the store, as Amy's has several kinds of mac n' cheese, including one with soy cheeze that's not vegan.

On to others, in no particular order:

Daiya- Meh. The latest star on the cheeze scene, Daiya is getting raves across the board and helping take vegan cheeze mainstream. I heard about this months and months before I got to try it. I finally asked Whole Foods when they would start carrying the retail packages, only to find out they were selling it in the deli in containers. I grabbed both a Cheddar and Mozzarella (it comes pre-shredded in bags usually) and raced home clutching them close. I had extremely high expectations, with everyone I know who'd tried it oozing praise. First I tried them cold... pretty good. A nice combination of soft and creamy yet firm, no chalk or sourness. I withheld my conclusion.

Macaroni and cheese was my first try at cooking with Daiya, and I was pleased with the results. The shreds melted right down into a creamy sauce, thick and sticky and gooey-good, but the flavor was a little "off" in my opinion. Pizza was the next experiment, and I gotta tell ya I was disappointed! Maybe I didn't use enough cheeze, but I thought the
Daiya thinned out and got watery, almost. Meltability= A+. The flavor, on the other hand, was good as far as vegan cheezes go, but nothing that made me fall in love. I tried the cheddar in a burrito and in a grilled cheeze with tomato. Again, meltability=A+, but I really wasn't crazy about the flavor. I may give it another go and experiment with adding additional ingredients to it now that I've tried it with Amy's Mac n Cheese, but I haven't much of an urge to buy it again.

Vegan Rella- One word... Ew. Back in the day when there weren't very many vegan cheeze options (at least stomachable ones), this was the bomb diggity. Well cheezes have come a loooong way, and if you don't believe me give this a try after eating some of today's variations. I grabbed a chunk of this when my favorite cheddar, Sheese, wasn't available, then a block of the mozzarella when my favorite brand was out. I expected fond memories of my first adventures with Vegan Rella when we first met in Tucson, AZ. Oh No. It was wet and gloppy on the outside, chalky and sour and weird on the inside. It stuck to my teeth. I spit it out and wiped it off of my tongue. Never again. I couldn't find a website for this company.

Vegan Gourmet Follow Your Heart- Mmmmm... Okay, while I don't prefer the other flavors of FYH much, the Mozzarella is my favorite of all brands in terms of flavor. It doesn't melt very well unless it's been in the oven on a pizza on the bottom rack at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. And even then sometimes not-so-much. It's actually even a bit rubbery when it's in a chunk. But I can put those things aside cause it's so YUMMY! I love it on pasta bakes and pizza best. Nothing else has measured up so far. Plus the company makes an excellent mayo alternative and lots of other great vegan foods!

Sheese- LOVE. I noticed this cheeze one day at my local co-op, having never seen it before. I asked a friend who worked there about it and he cut some up some of the Cheddar flavor to put out as samples. After one little nibble I was completely sold- AMAZING! I swear this tastes like the real thing (not that that's the goal- after almost 13 years vegan I just require a cheeze be appetizing).

Imagine an expensive cheeze or some sort of goat cheeze that you'd serve with evening cocktails, with a bold and strong flavor that really makes an impact. It's a harder cheese that's a bit on the dry side. Despite claims about it's great meltability on
Sheese's and various vegan retail websites, I have been unsuccessful at getting it to melt in any way, shape, or form. But I love it cut into chunks right out of the wrapper anyway. It makes a killer cheeze sandwich with some sweet mustard on toast. It's great in a burrito! Hands down the best tasting vegan cheeze I have ever tried. Likely to fool a non-vegan, too, possibly. At a hefty $8-9 USD a round block, it's only a sometime treat for me, but it's totally worth it! Fantastic!

Sheese is out of Scotland from family-owned
Bute Island Foods, and they make magic! There are nine flavors of hard vegan cheeze: Blue, Medium Cheddar, Strong Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, Mozzarella, Cheshire, Gouda, Edam, and Cheddar with Chives. I've tried six: Medium, Strong, and Smoked Cheddars and Mozzarella, Blue, and Gouda. I love the Medium Cheddar most, and the Gouda is a close second. The others are good, except for the Smoked Cheddar at all, which I don't like at all. I'm dying to try the soft and spreadable Creamy Sheese (there are 5 flavors), but have been unable to find them at my local natural foods stores so far.

Teese- Umm... Yuck. The one big plus Teese has, in my opinion, is its meltability, much like that of Daiya. I also found Teese to be like Daiya in the way that it thins out and seems to get watery when it melts. I think it tastes watery cold and right out of the package, too, even though there's not really any liquid in the tube with it. I am very sensitive to certain tastes, and Teese in all flavors has a peculiar taste that I find totally unappetizing. Not sure what its source is, but it's enough to keep me from buying this again.

Follow Your Heart Cream Cheese- Just okay. Follow Your Heart's cream cheeze is unimpressive, and I could take it or leave it. To me it tastes quite chalky and leaves a bit of a coating on the tongue that I don't prefer. I have baked with this and used it in sauces and it worked okay, but I wouldn't advise it for eating right out of the container on a bagel or crackers.

Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese- Eat it up. Cause it's creamy and yummy. I enjoy this on crackers and bagels, and it works great in cooking and baking, too. I can sit with a box of crunchy little Wheat-thin-type crackers and put some Tofutti Cream Cheese aWAY. It's also really tasty on a bagel with avocado and mixed into some marinara sauce for a bit of a different spin on spaghetti.

Be careful to buy the Tofutti Cream Cheese with the yellow container, as it doesn't contain hydrogenated oils! For some very stupid reason, Tofutti makes one version with hydrogenated oils (blue and red container) and one without. Duh.

Edward & Sons Trading Company Macaroni and Chreese- ??? I was sooo excited to find four styles of Macaroni and Chreese on the food co-op's shelf one day a few years back. I immediately bought some in both the cheddar (comes in pasta shells, macaroni, and 1-2-3 shapes) and alfredo flavors! This was the very first prepared non-dairy mac n' cheese dish I'd tried, so I was thrilled to give it a try. I went with cheddar first, and after boiling the shell-shaped noodles, liked that they were tasty with a nice, chewy texture. The sauce comes as a powder in an envelope like in traditional boxed mac n' cheese, and you add it to the cooked noodles with a non-dairy milk and margarine. The results are pretty good, with the sauce turning out quite creamy and thick (stir it well to get rid of any graininess). The alfredo yielded similar results, but the sauce was lighter in color and a very, very garlicky.

Nutritional yeast, of which I am not a big fan, is a significant ingredient in both the Chreese flavors, and its taste is prominent. This may be the reason I felt the need to add lots of vegan parmesan (see review below) to give it anything that resembled a cheezy flavor. Or perhaps I was trying to cover up the nutritional yeast-y taste. If you love nutritional yeast, you're probably gonna go crazy for Mac n' Chreese.

Galaxy Foods Vegan Grated Topping (Parmesan)- GOOD STUFF. This vegan parmesan stinks to high heaven and its strong smell fills a room fast. But it's good- really good! It's a terrific substitute for any hard, granular dairy cheese, excellent on Italian dishes, in pesto, sprinkled on veggies. It has a sharp and sort of salty flavor, and just a little goes a long way. One of my all-time favorites!

Cheese Slices- I've tried'em all. They all suck. I don't do slices.

Hope this review helps in your own search for a tasty go-to vegan cheeze. Or at the very least, entertained you for a few minutes. :P

15 November 2010

Quote of the Week: The Dance of Existence

‎"This existence of ours is as transient as the autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightening rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountainside."


08 November 2010

Eating Out Loud: Easy and Scrumptious Vegan Halvah!

Halvah is a sweet found in many cultures and made from varying ingredients. Though I'm not 100% sure of the exact origin of this particular recipe, I'm guessing Indian, as it's very close to an Indian halvah made with semolina flour called Sooji Halwa. ;) This is just like the halvah I used to get at one of my favorite Tucson, AZ restaurants, a delicious natural foods buffet owned by Hare Krishnas and called Govinda's. I searched and searched for a vegan version online that would replicate it, and this comes very, very close to matching Govinda's. I've added some of my own tips and instructions. It's super easy to make, sooo yummy, and has a light and grainy sweetness I find irresistible! It's an indulgence with all of the margarine and sugar, but well worth it! Enjoy the yum!

I haven't taken a photo of the halvah I've made, but this looks just like it in terms of texture. Just imagine this shaped like a square. :)

Vegan Halvah

1 cup vegan margarine
2 cups farina or Cream of Wheat cereal, dry/uncooked
4 cups water
2 cups unrefined brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
(I omitted the raisins and added frozen blueberries, but you can come up with your own variation! Try nuts, various dried fruit, strawberries, or anything you like the sound of.)

Melt the margarine in a heavy-bottomed pot and boil it a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. Turn the heat to low and slowly add the Cream of Wheat cereal, stirring constantly. Cook this mixture on low heat until it has the texture of wet sand. Stir frequently and don't let it stick to the bottom or burn.

When it is the right texture, bring water to a boil in a separate pot. When water is boiling, turn the heat under the cereal to high and quickly add the boiling water and Raisins. Cook a very short time stirring constantly; then turn heat back down to low and let steam about 10 minutes.

Spoon into a baking pan and smooth to the edges- the size of the pan will depend on your preferred thickness. I used a 9x11" (23 x 28 cm) rectangular clear glass casserole dish. Let cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. Room temperature is best, but it will need refrigerated if keeping over several days.

Quote of the Week: The Butterfly Effect

‎"When a butterfly flaps its wings near the tip of South America, it affects the wind patterns near the North Pole. And the same is true in the realm of consciousness: Every miracle you work in your life is a blessing on life itself."

~Marianne Williamson

04 November 2010

Eating Out Loud: Vegan Raviolis!

I came across this delicious ravioli recipe when searching the Web for special meal ideas for my sweetie for Valentine's Day. These amazing "Hearty Raviolis" from Vegalicious delicious, healthy, and well worth the extra time. Plus, the heart shapes are adorable and really make an impact!

My comments are in parentheses. Enjoy!

Classic Spinach Ravioli Floating in an Italian Tomato Sauce (serves 4)


•1 lb (450 grams) of spinach, large stems removed and chopped
•1 T grainy mustard
•1 t sesame oil (I went a bit light on the sesame oil as I had reservations about it's flavor, and though it works brilliantly here, I am glad I used less.)
•1/2 t nutmeg
•2 T bread crumbs
•pinch of salt

•1 c semolina four
•2 t olive oil
•1/2 c water
•pinch salt

•1 can crushed tomatoes (I used a 28 oz or 828 ml can.)
•1 onion, minced
•1 T olive oil
•1 clove garlic, minced
•various Italian herbs (Fresh are always best, I used fresh parsley and basil, with dried oregano.)
•salt and pepper to taste
•dash of lemon
•pinch of cayenne pepper


Ravioli dough:
1.In a bowl, combine the pasta dough ingredients to make a dough.
2.Wrap in a towel and let sit for 30 minutes.

1.Wash the spinach and remove the large tough stems.
2.Chop the spinach and steam or saute in water. (sweat)
3.Place in a large mixing bowl.
4.Add the mustard, salt and bread-crumbs and mix well.
5.Season further with salt, cayenne and pepper.

1.Saute the minced onion in the olive oil until the onion is glassy.
2.Add the minced garlic and saute.
3.Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer.
4.Add the herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper and continue to simmer on a low heat.
5.Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and cayenne.

Making the ravioli

1.Divide the dough in fourths and roll out each portion on a floured work space, allowing the first sheet of pasta to sit while rolling out the second. One of the tricks to the pasta is to make sure you’ve rolled the dough out very thin.

2.Cut out your ravioli shapes and fill with the filling. Place the top part of the ravioli over the filling and close with a fork.

3.If you have a form or press, then of course that saves time you merely place 1 sheet of dough on one side, put the filling on the dough and then lay the 2nd sheet of dough on top. Close the form to seal and cut off the extra using a knife.

4.Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salty water to boil.

5.Put your ravioli into the salty water and cook. They are ready when they come floating to the top. I would suggest cooking only a few raviolis at a time.

6.Place the first cooked raviolis in the oven to keep warm until they are all ready.

7.When ready to serve, put a layer of sauce on the plate and lay the raviolis on top.

8.You can garnish with some fresh cut herbs or if you have soy cheese, you can dust some on top.

03 November 2010

Making the Connection: An Excellent Short Film on Veganism

Some "food for thought" for Vegan MoFo!

"The thinking man must oppose all the cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition or surrounded by a halo...We need a boundless ethic which will also include the animals."
-Albert Schweitzer

Just wanted to make mention of Making the Connection, a thoughtful, artful short film on the the various advantages of a plant-based diet and lifestyle by The Vegan Society.

Watch here!

01 November 2010

Happy World Vegan Day!

November 1st is not only World Vegan Day, but kicks off World Vegan Month and Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo)! :)

What is "vegan"?
A "vegan" is someone who chooses to live free from animal products for compassion and peace, health, the planet (or any combination of these things). A vegan diet is easy and healthy, based on fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes. Vegans choose to save the lives of other living beings each time they eat or shop! They do not consume meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey (some vegans do eat honey) or any other food that is derived from an animal or processed using animal ingredients (such as bone char used to refine some sugars and salt). Most vegans do not use or wear any products that are tested on animals or that are derived from an animal, like wool, fur, silk, and leather.

Have you thought about trying a vegan lifestyle? Try it for one meal, one day, one week, or one month to see if being vegan is the right choice for you! Take the first step by taking the "Vegan Pledge!"

I made these yummy, super simple vegan pumkin cupcakes for Halloween yesterday! Delish!

Here are just a few of my favorite resources for vegan information and recipes. Check my blog throughout this week for more resources for vegan living!

Compassionate Cooks

International Vegetarian Union

Live Vegan

Post Punk Kitchen (PPK)

The Vegan Society

Vegan Outreach


Free Vegan Starter Kit

Happy World Vegan Day!