Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

A New Year

January 1st, 2015

We find ourselves at a new year. 2014 has passed and we’re ready to take up 2015. Some of us will stay with our ways into this new year but some will advance and make changes.

A vegetarian or vegan diet change is a popular New Year’s resolution. Many jump onto the bandwagon in a desire to get healthy and run amok in the natural foods section of their local grocery store. If you are one of these people let me first say congratulations. You are on your way to making a change in your life that will make an impact few other simple changes can make. Energy, health and a sense of pride in knowing you are doing something right can be had if you set off onto this road in the right way. Allow me to give a few pointers.

1. Watch what you eat. This is a given but I don’t mean count your fat intake and watch your protein. I mean watch the processed foods. There’s a full range of fake meat products in the refrigerated section; these are aimed at the transitioning vegetarian. The one who liked their sausage and biscuit every morning can still have it with that roll of processed starch packaged just like a roll of Jimmy Dean. Those fake cheeses have come a long way in just the last 5 years. Daiya and Teese make some products that will fool a dairy cheese loving pizza freak but they’re still not the best for you. Sure they’re healthier than dairy cheese and a little here and there isn’t going to break you but use it in moderation.  If you want this new endeavor to make you shine and you want to get all you can look down the produce aisle or visit your farmers market. There’s power in those fresh veggies!

2. Don’t believe everything you read or hear. You will have people tell you that one cannot survive on a vegan diet because of a lack of protein.  It’s a common misconception. You will get plenty of protein on a vegan diet. There’s protein in that spinach. Black beans, or any bean for that matter, is packed with protein. The protein you’ll get from plants is a more soluble protein than the protein from animal products and you’re not getting any of the bad cholesterol.

3. Learn to cook if you don’t already know how. If you like cookbooks you’ll find shelves full at your big box bookstore and while some are much better than others there’s much to be learned from all if you’re new to the vegan kitchen. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are much more plentiful now than they were 15 years ago when I decided to go down this road. Finding a vegan item on a menu that wasn’t salad was nearly impossible then. You may live in a large metropolitan area that has a Veggie Grill on every corner and even though you can find some great vegan restaurants these days nothing will give you more satisfaction in a meal than cooking it yourself. Not only will you save money but you’ll impress friends and family with how great those veggies can taste!

4. The vegan lifestyle is more than food. It is not only what you eat it is how you live. A compassionate outlook on the world involves many changes from your daily routine. From the food you eat before you walk out of the door in the morning to the toothpaste you use to brush your teeth before you go to bed. The shoes you wear and the soap you shower with will likely change if you continue your journey into vegan lifestyle. Don’t think it all has to be done immediately and instantly. You may only stop at the plant-based diet and not choose a vegan lifestyle but then you may go further and adopt all. It’s your choice but the bigger the choice the greater the reward.

If you have questions or need advice I’m here to help. You can use the contact form to reach me, leave a comment or find me on Twitter where I tweet about many things not only the vegan lifestyle. There’s a great community of good vegans out there who will be ready to answer your questions as well and it’s not difficult to find them. There’s also a group full of negativity who can crush you so beware.

I wish you the best on your journey!

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Burger UP Marathon Burger is Not Vegan

September 8th, 2012

Burger Up Marathoon Burger Vegan Vegetarian Black Bean Quinoa

A little disconcerting news to those who are looking for a vegan veggie burger in Nashville, it has been brought to my attention by employees of the restaurant that the black bean and quinoa burger lauded by many at Burger UP, otherwise known as the Marathon Burger is NOT vegan or vegetarian. One of the ingredients used is their made-in-house ketchup which contains standard Worcestershire sauce that has anchovies. This Worcestershire sauce is also used in the ketchup they serve to dip those fries in it as well. The ketchup isn’t just served on top of the Marathon Burger, it is IN the burger so asking to leave it off it isn’t so simple.  Though the Marathon Burger is not listed as vegan or vegetarian on their menu many have inquired about it and told it is while it has garnered many reviews in local publications as suitable for vegans and vegetarians without any correction. Adding egg is a common move by restaurants when making veggie burgers and vegans know to ask about that in advance but adding a non-vegetarian ingredient such as standard Worcestershire just makes no sense whatsoever as you’ve just relegated the burger to the same as your animal meat sandwiches without so much as a mention to this on the menu. Listing those ingredients on the menu would go a long way.

 

Hopefully, we can urge Burger Up to make a change.

 

UPDATE: I’ve been told that the Marathon Burger also has panko bread crumbs which, in this case, contain egg. While those would be vegetarian they are of course not vegan.

UPDATE: Speaking with the owner lends the news that Burger Up is working to revise their Marathon Burger recipe with a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. This is great news.

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Protected: Mrs. Nashveggie’s Vegan Coconut Cake

April 10th, 2012

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Health Starts Here Cooking Class at Whole Foods Green Hills Salud! with Chad Sarno

February 29th, 2012

 

By now everyone has heard of the Engine 2 Diet and its Plant-Strong plan focusing on meals of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and whole grains. The bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn has been in the news and is seen in every Whole Foods which has developed a healthy eating guide based off the diet plan called Health Starts Here.

Health Starts Here is a program developed by Whole Foods and is an offshoot of the very popular Engine 2 Diet which has been proliferated lately by the movie Forks Over Knives. Helath Starts Here follows what is called a four-pillar approach to food:

Whole Food

Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

We believe that food in its purest state — unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives — is the best tasting and most nutritious food available.

Plant-Strong

Eat a colorful variety of plants.

No matter what type of diet you follow — including those with dairy, meat or seafood — reconfigure your plate so the majority of each meal is created from an abundance of raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Healthy Fats

Eat healthy fats.

Get healthy fats from whole plant sources, such as nuts, seeds and avocados. These foods are rich in micronutrients as well. Work to eliminate (or minimize) extracted oils and processed fats.

Nutrient Dense

Eat nutrient dense foods

Choose foods that are rich in micronutrients when compared to their total caloric content. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

The diet emphasizes the use of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. It also makes a strong case against the use of added oils encouraging all fats come from those already found in foods such as nuts and cooking using vegetable broth as a replacement where oil is typically used such as sauteing.

 

Chef Chad Sarno Health Starts Here Whole Foods

Chef Chad Sarno gives a Health Starts Here cooking demo for Salud! at Whole Foods Green Hills

We were invited to a Health Starts Here event by Whole Foods Green Hills culinary demonstration that was instructed by Chad Sarno. Sarno is a classically-trained chef and a co-founder of the Health Starts Here program. He has owned vegetarian restaurants in London, Turkey and the US.

The demonstration class focused on dishes that could be made quickly and preparing ingredients in bulk to make the prep quicker. Cooking enough beans for a week’s worth of meals. Making sauces in portions to be used for many dishes as well as full dishes that could be kept in the refrigerator for easy lunches.

All of the meals prepared used no oil and no salt. In place of salt Sarno had created as seasoning mixture he calls Wicked Good Spice and Seed Blend, a mixture of sesame, sunflower seeds, flax and nutritional yeast. Instruction was given in making your own almond milk as well as a basic white sauce. The quick and simple Kale Avocado Salad was one of the most surprising dishes created. Kale, tomato, avocado, onion and the juice of a lemon made a very flavorful and satisfying salad without need for any extra seasonings. Quick and simple it can be kept in the refrigerator for a grab whenever the craving came.

I could easily go on about the dishes but it’s best to just give you some recipes. Give these a go and don’t worry about the omission of salt or oil where you may be accustomed to adding them. They’re unnecessary. The flavors pop in these.

 

Wicked Good Spice and Seed Blend

1/2 C Sesame Seeds, dry toasted
1/2 C Sunflower Seeds, dry toasted
1/2 C Golden Flax Meal
1/2 C Nutritional Yeast
2 TBS Onion Powder
1/2 TBS Chipotle Spice
1 TBS Garlic Powder
Black Pepper

Toss all together and store in shaker or air tight container. Great all purpose seasoning.

 

 

Kale Avocado Salad - Engine 2 Diet - Whole Foods Market Health Starts Here - Chad Sarno

Kale Avocado Salad

Kale Avocado Salad

This is a very simple, quick and delicious dish. Completely raw.

1 head of kale, any variety, shredded
1 large tomato
1 1/2 avocado, chopped
2 TBS red onion, green onion or leek, finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of cayenne

In mixing bowl, toss all ingredients squeezing as you mix to wilt the kale and creaming the avocado.  Serve immediately.

 

 

Basic White Sauce

1 C raw cashews, soaked (or tofu)
1 1/2 onion diced & steam fried in veggie stock
2 garlic cloves
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 1/2 Cup low salt vegetable stock
3 TBS Nutritional Yeast
Pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic with stock and steam fry until onions are translucent. Add to blender with soaked cashews, soy/nut milk and rest of ingredients and blend adjusting thickness to desired consistency. Add fresh herbs to finish. Sauce will reduce and continue to thicken on its own with time. Use as a base for any other sauces.

 

 

Chad Sarno has a return visit planned for Salud at Whole Foods Green Hills with a class on vegan cooking. The class is set for sometime in April/May. I’ll post dates and more on it when information becomes available.

 

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Battle of the Nogs

December 5th, 2011
Vegan Nogs: So Delicious - Rice Dream - Silk - Earth Balance

Vegan Nogs: So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog, Rice Dream Rice Nog, Silk Nog and Earth Balance Soy Nog

 

Egg Nog. I once guzzled that stuff by the carton this time of year. I’m a nog lover. A connoisseur of the nog. AficioNOGdo. If your nog is off then I’ll know it. I’m on top of the nog. Etcetera etcetera… Let’s not think about the sugar and fat content in a glass of that drinkable pudding. I think it’s very tasty but of course since the vegan switch years ago egg nog has been off limits. Silk has had their variant on the shelves this time of year for a few seasons and now were confronted with other entries in this holiday guzzle-fest. I welcome them all but only want the one that tastes best and can hold up, as in coat the side of the glass, like a true nog should. No thin watery stuff. Nog should to be thick.

Looking on the shelves in the cold section of the grocery store this season I was greeted by the usual entry by Silk, a good standby when you just have to have the nog  but I also found some new ones. So Delicious has a coconut milk version of nog and Earth Balance has their own nog as well. One I was surprised to find is Rice Dream Nog. You won’t find this one in the refrigerated section, it’s in a septic pack.

I have four choices now for my nog fix and a decison needs to be made as to the best vegan nog available.  The best way to make such a decision and not be skewed is a blind taste test, Pepsi Challenge style. Four glasses blindly filled and letters corresponding to each nog placed in front of each glass. With paper in hand for notes on each nog this nog tasting was ready to get serious.

Vegan Nogs: So Delicious - Rice Dream - Silk - Earth Balance

Vegan nog blind taste-tasting ready to begin. Each glass filled and with a corresponding letter.

 

Vegan Nogs: So Delicious - Rice Dream - Silk - Earth Balance

Top view of nogness. Note color.

 

Tasting was not limited to just me.  Mrs. Nashveggie and The Kid also participated. Mrs Nashveggie is not the most avid nog fan and it shows in her opinions but it’s still good to get such an objective view included. The Kid, on the other hand, likes most anything sweet.

 

Rice Dream Rice Nog

A – Rice Dream $2.99/32oz

My first thought when seeing Rice Dream Rice Nog is it’s not supposed to be pink! Getting past the pinkness and tasting this overly watery drink left little flavor. There are what appears to be spices in the bottom of the glass so that’s a plus but the only one. Pink, watery, bland.  F

Mrs. Nashveggie: Too pink! I don’t want to taste it… Sweet and chalky.

The Kid: It tastes good.

 

Silk Nog

B – Silk Nog $2.69/32oz

I’ve tried this one before but it was still a little hard to pick out from the four. As a usual standby in recent years when I’ve had the urge for some nog it has stood up well. Being critical though, I could point out flaws as well as high points. Silk Nog has a good flavor. There’s nutmeg flavor you can pick out that should be there though the one flaw that makes this one fall is its consistency. While not as thin as Rice Nog it definitely could stand to be a little less runny.  B

Mrs. Nashveggie: Did you put something in this? Smells like yogurt. Tastes like rum.

The Kid: I like this one. I think it’s my favorite.

 

Earth Balance Soy Nog

C – Earth Balance Soy Nog $2.69/32oz

Earth Balance is known for their vegan butter substitutes but lately they have branched out into other endeavors such as mayonnaise and,  more-notably, soy milk. Their seasonal offering of Soy Nog is likely my favorite of the four. It does have a good consistency and could hold up to a brandy, if that’s what you like. The flavor is a little lighter than I prefer but overall this is a good choice.  A-

Mrs. Nashveggie: Gagged. Too thick.

The Kid: It tastes a little sour. Just a little sweet.

 

So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog

D – So Delicious Coconut Nog  $2.99/32oz

I’m no fan of coconut milk beverages. I find them generally fatty tasting and off-putting. I do like coconut but everything has its place and coconut milk isn’t meant to be swilled like a bottle of cheap malt liquor. With that said So Delicious Coconut Nog had the expected consistency. Thick and rich and that works here. It has that right but that about the only thing. I thought I was drinking liquid candy! So sweet! My teeth hurt after drinking this. I couldn’t taste any spice, if there is any for the overpowering coconut flavor and booming sweetness. For those that want an alternative to soy you have this and Rice Dream Rice Nog to choose from. If I was forced to choose one of the two this would be it. For that reason alone I’ll give it a letter grade up. C-

Mrs. Nashveggie: Where’s the spoon? Thickest one. Tastes too much like coconut milk.

The Kid: This one tastes like coconut. Eww.

 

The clear choice of vegan nogs is Earth Balance Soy Nog. A good balance of everything though not perfect. Still, faced with the decision when these four on on the shelf it would be the one to come home from the grocery store with me.

Those are my opinions on the nogly offerings you’ll find this season. Suffice it to say Mrs. Nashveggie is not a Nog fan and I’ll not likely let The Kid near that much sugar at a time so I’ll be drinking what’s left of the nogs. Each of the four have room to improve, some more than others. Hopefully next year someone will have the perfect nog. I can hope.

 

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