VEGAN BEER AND CHEESE SOUP: Creamy, Hearty… and Full of Vegetables!?

beer soup Not to toot my own horn, but this is one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever made. Ever. 

Believe it or not, this soup is actually quite healthful. It does contain alcohol (so I can’t claim that it’s outright “healthy”), but the entire recipe only calls for one cup of beer, among four full servings, and the rest of the ingredients are actually whole foods or spices.

Imagine the thick, creamy, bisque-like qualities of a beer and cheese soup, with the benefits of vegetables and no added oil. Oh, and no cheese or milk. (*Easily made soy-free by using chickpea miso rather than soybean miso.)

If it sounds impossible, I need you to 1) trust me, and 2) make this and see for yourself.

Behold…

VEGAN BEER + CHEESE SOUP by Save the Kales

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water (or veg broth)
  • 1 Tbsp veg broth paste (if using water)
  • 1 cup dark vegan beer (Go to Barnivore.com for vegan beers)
  • 1 can white beans (Northern White or Cannellini), drained
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp white miso paste
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast

Put carrots, potatoes, onions, broth/water and beer in a large soup pot. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until all vegetables are tender and some liquid evaporates.

Pour contents of soup pot into a blender. (You may need to do this in two batches so you have enough room. If you have a Vitamix, everything can go in.)

Add the beans, almond milk, miso paste and nutritional yeast. Blend well until very smooth. This will be thick, so you may need to stop and scrape the sides of the blender.

That’s it!

Vegan Beer and Cheese Soup

Vegan Beer and Cheese Soup

You can serve in a bread bowl, in a regular bowl, or as a dip for veggies or pretzels. Or why not try a fondue?

.   .   .

This was part of our “Football Foods” themed episode of our half-hour vegan cooking show, Save the Kales!, airing in Pennsylvania and online everywhere. New episodes each month.

Check back for our Vegan Hot Wings recipe!

 

CHICKPEA (No Chicken) NOODLE SOUP: from Food Network Magazine

I think it’s beneficial for any home cook to take in recipe ideas from various sources, even if it doesn’t specifically fit your dietary needs. That’s why we get so crafty with substitutions! Or in this case, omissions.

The November issue of Food Network magazine (with an unfortunate cover photo of a big cooked turkey) had an issue for a simple soup that was already healthy and easily made vegan by leaving out the chicken. I was sitting on the couch reading the magazine one minute, and less than 30 minutes later I was eating this soup. Really simple, really fast.

Food Network Magazine Chickpea Noodle Soup

CHICKPEA NOODLE SOUP veganized from Food Network magazine Nov. 2011 issue

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 ounces dry spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-3 inch long pieces
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced in rounds
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can chickpeas, or 2 cups cooked from dried
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Vegan chickpea noodle soup

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add dried spaghetti pieces and stir, toasting them for about two minutes. Add carrot, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, half the cilantro and cook about one minute. Add the veggie broth, chickpeas and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the spaghetti is soft enough to eat. Garnish with cilantro!

Vegan chickpea noodle soup with cilantro garnish

PHILLY AND CHEESESTEAKS GO HAND IN HAND.

Luckily for those of us not eating cheese or steak, we can still join the party thanks to many vegetarian and vegan options all over the city!

In fact, HERE is an article that explains why PETA named Phillies stadium the most veg-friendly ballpark for several years!

And what a city it is! Two weeks ago Ryan and I went to Philly for an afternoon. We wandered around a part of the city I’d never been to, any every single house looked like Dwell magazine’s Best of the Year issue. I wonder if historic Bethlehem would throw me out of town if I eventually build a home like this.

I'll take one of these, please.

... And one of these.

And what the heck, throw in a bowling alley for good measure.

It was a hot, hot day but we had fun walking around and finding nice air conditioned places to get bubble tea, etc.

Architectural Antiques Exchange. A huuuggggeee building with salvages pieces from homes, bars, churches, etc.

Perhaps one of the most perfect coffee shops on earth, yes?

Concrete Polish? Polish, as in, all of my family has names that end in "ich" or "ski", my cat's name is Pierogi and I call one of my grandmothers "Bobchi"?

We wound our way through the most insane tailgating I have ever seen to get to the Phillies stadium. You can get VEGAN HOT DOGS there! Among other things!

I am slowly but surely understanding sports.

His shirt explains it!

Around the sixth inning, we ventured down a few levels to get ourselves some veg-steaks. (So what if we had a ton of soft pretzels and vegan hot dogs first?)

Ryan got a vegetarian cheesesteak; I got a vegan chicken steak with buffalo sauce and extra hot peppers!

The fact that it was so messy meant I couldn't inhale it in five seconds and I got to enjoy it longer.

That same tactic didn't work for him, though.

Thank you SO MUCH to Lori and Bob, Ryan’s mom and dad, for sending us off to this game and giving us a really fun, delicious day out!

“QUIT ACTING DIPPY”: Vegan Sweet Ranch Dip with Fresh Herbs

I’d like to dedicate this post to my Gram. When I was little all the cousins would get together for holidays and run amok in her house she would yell from various adjoining rooms “Quit acting dippy!”, a nice grandmotherly way of saying “Stop hitting each other and breaking all of my things!”

Today’s recipe comes from a book I’ve meant to read for a long time, and finally started last week. Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman is SO nutritionally insightful. It is a weight loss “program” (though everything can be applied to a lifestyle – and should be, it’s good stuff) that just happens to be plant-based. (There are recipes in the back for a modified diet, which includes some animal products for those who need help with the transition.)

I love books like this because it doesn’t say HEY I’M A VEGAN BOOK – it’s just got a great reputation, is often recommended by family doctors and is factually sound without being too technical – so people are inclined to pick it up instead of bypassing it because it’s “that weird vegan thing”.

The book can be summed up as a nutritional plan that focuses on eating as many nutrients as possible, calorie for calorie.

There is SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT THIS WONDERFUL BOOK, I will have to do a full review in another post. Until then, know I’ve been following the plan as much as possible since starting to read it, and last night made my first recipe directly from the book.

(SWEET) RANCH DIP as per Eat To Live, pg. 259-260

  • 6 oz (half a package) silken tofu
  • 3 dates, pitted (I didn’t have dates so I used 2 Tbsp of fig preserves)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dried italian seasoning (or that amount of dried herbs like basil or oregano)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I like flat leaf better than curly)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp tamari or low sodium soy sauce/Braggs
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

DIRECTIONS – Throw everything in the food processor. Done!

I really like this simple dip, which can also be used as a dressing or sandwich spread. There is NO FAT at all (no oils!), but there IS protein from the tofu, and the health benefits of raw herbs and garlic.

Give it a try, and be sure to check out the book Eat To Live if your body isn’t feeling as healthy as it should.

NEW YEARS EVE!: What is NOG, anyway?

This year after party-hopping among the homes of wonderful, creative people I settled in at my pal Alison’s colorful home for some of the tastiest vegan delights a celebrating girl could ever wish for!

Since the only thing I saw made from start-to-finish was the pizza, I’ll give you a step by step for this wickedly incredible indulgence, and the rest will have to come from a guest post and/or collaborative video with Ms. Alison herself. (She’s cute, you’ll like it!)

You’ll have to sit tight for this mixed drink recipe based on the Master Cleanse. No, really. Think: fresh lemonade, cayenne pepper, and various alcoholic additions like whiskey and bourbon. It was weird and awesome. Just don’t get silly and try to drink only this for 10 days. I won’t be responsible when you get fired and your partner dumps you because you’re a sloppy drunk.

Onward to the pizza! This is super easy, takes only a few minutes to put together, and can obviously be made with whatever ingredients you want. But know this: it was the best pizza I’ve had in a really long time. Thanks in no small part to the use of my favorite condiment ever ever ever, buffalo wing sauce. (Can we all agree to a universal new name for this? “Buffalos are cute Sauce”?)

Let’s watch Shiner make us this most delicious, hard-not-to-inhale food.

STEP 1: Begin with pizza dough. You can find balls (huh huh, I said “balls”) of dough in the freezer section of most grocery stores, but Shiner told me about this neat little trick where you can call a local pizza place and ask to buy just some of the dough, and most will sell it to you! They probably won’t even think you’re weird! (Ask about ingredients, obviously.)

STEP 2: Add the Sauce. I believe in this case he used an organic jarred marinara (spaghetti) sauce. Get crafty and make your own – and if you know how to do that, invite the rest of us over so we can learn, too.

STEP 3: Heat some breaded faux-chicken patties, cut into small pieces, then put in a container that has a lid. Add Buffalos Are Cute Sauce (see above), put on the lid and shake it all up til all the pieces are coated in spicy goodness.

*Note: I’ve made a lot of buffalo sauce stuff with unbreaded fake chicken, but really, the breaded stuff is SO MUCH BETTER on a pizza like this. Shiner has made a billion vegan chicken pizzas and concludes that breaded faux-chicken totally the way to go. I now concur.

STEP 4: Here comes an avalanche of Daiya! Daiya is still a relatively new vegan item, and has won so many accolades in the past year for being the very best metling vegan cheese ever. EVER. Cheddar and mozzarella flavors are available, in this case we used the latter.

And check this out: 1/4 a cup of Daiya cheese only has 90 CALORIES! If you like melty cheese but hate the gas/bloating/fat/sad cows, give this a try. I would NOT recommend something that tastes bad for fear it would forever turn you off to vegan alternatives. Your mind will explode. Truth.

STEP 5: Bake in the oven until cheese is melty and crust is a little crispy. Try 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

BEHOLD THE BEAUTY THAT IS ABOUT TO FILL YOUR BELLY.

I could sing Marvin Gaye songs to it all night long.

Alison wasn’t done with the tricks up her cardigan sleeve just yet. She outdid herself when she emerged from the kitchen with a punch bowl of VEGAN EGG NOG. It was incredible! I MUST have her here soon to fill you in how to do this, but I know it did include: rice milk, banana, nutmeg and cinnamon, some sort of liquor, etc…

That lead us all to a question that I’m still not sure I know the answer to. If you have insight, please comment below. WHAT IS “NOG”? It sounds horrible. Disgusting. Like something you cough up when you’re sick. Nog. Noggg. Ew!

The internet tells me this: “Nog used to refer to strong ale in England.” That’s not good enough. I can’t believe anyone would actually, willingly call something nog when there are so many more combinations of consonants and vowels available.

In any case, the vegan egg nog was delicious, despite the ridiculous name.

In the words of my pal Melanie “2011 is going to be my year even more than 2010 was”. HECK YES. Happy 2011!

PART 2: Mushroom Girl – “Creamy” Mushroom Sauce and Pasta

This dish is a great way to bring out the earthy flavor of mushrooms, and the creamy texture is very comforting, especially on these chilly nights! As always, this is a simple, budget-friendly recipe that will please all mushroom lovers, or maybe create new ones.

*This recipe does call for white wine, but you can omit that and just use some vegetable broth or water in it’s place.

Let me also add that I bought a box of “fancy pasta” (which was on sale for a mere dollar), and it absolutely 100% made this better! I usually always default to an inexpensive whole wheat pasta to have on hand, but trust me when I tell you – pastas are NOT created equal! A better quality pasta will take a dish from good to GREAT.

I used Rienzi Whole Wheat Orecciette – the flavor of this pasta was amazing. It actually HAD a flavor. Try it. Cook it, and try it plain. It’s incredible. The texture is also chewy without being too soft. Go get this stuff, ASAP.  (Bonus: Loosely translated, orecchiette means “little ear” in Italian… they do look like tiny ears! But vegan ears, of course.)

Pasta with “Creamy” Mushroom Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 box pasta, cooked, put aside (see above for recommendation!)
  • olive oil, enough to lightly coat pan
  • 16 oz. portabella mushrooms, sliced (2 standard 8 oz. packages)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other creamy, nondairy milk)
  • about 8-10 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp flour

Cook the pasta and set aside. Cut the onion in half lengthwise, put flat side down, and run knife through onion to create half-moon slices. Do the same with the shallot.

In a large skillet or pan, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom, and add onion and shallots. Reduce heat to medium-low. Onions and shallots should get soft and translucent, not brown.

Add grated garlic and mushrooms.

Add white wine and turn heat back up to medium, stir and heat through.

Heat up the almond milk in a mug before adding to the pan (or else it will be really cold and cool down the pan!), and stir in. Let everything bubble and simmer.

Add bay leaves, nutritional yeast and flour. Use a whisk to stir the dry ingredients into the pan, making sure there are no lumps stuck to the mushrooms. Turn heat back down to a low simmer. Stir every few minutes, and sauce will thicken.

Add pasta to the pan and stir together, or spoon mushroom mixture over plated pasta. Salt to taste!

Play around with the flavor by adding your favorite herbs. I hope you enjoy this easy, “meaty” and “creamy” dish!

Picnic and (Iron)Pigs!

Tonight I’m going on a double-date picnic at a baseball game! Goodbye, summer!

I’m excited to squish my toes in the grass, see how much I actually know about baseball (I think I finally get it), and share vegan foods with good friends.

One of the dishes I’m bringing is a mock-tuna salad. I can’t take the credit for this one – it comes straight from one of my favorite cooks, authors, podcasters, and all-around inspirational people, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

It’s the first time I’m making this particular recipe, and I’m totally impressed by how healthy it is! Even with Vegenaise (which is an amazing animal-free mayo substitute, but not low calorie by any means) it’s so full of fresh, whole foods that one serving only gets a tiny portion of Vegenaise, so don’t feel bad about eating this!

Better-Than-Tuna Salad (from The Vegan Table)

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

I used the food processor for everything, and did it in this order:

Cut the carrots into 1-inch thick chunks, to help them break up easier in the food processer. Throw them in and process until they’re in tiny pieces/shreds. Transfer to a LARGE mixing bowl.  Cut the bell pepper and celery into 1-inch chunks, and do the same thing, transferring to the bowl.

Add walnuts and parsley to processor, mix until crumbly. Add to bowl. Add chickpeas to processor, mix until crumbly – consistency will be like a dry peanut butter, still film and crumbly, but really soft. Add to bowl.

Add Vegenaise, mustard and salt and pepper to bowl, mix everything together. THAT’S IT! *Note: You can add some sea vegetable flakes, like kelp or dulse, to the mix to make it taste “fishy” you’d like that.

This makes a TON of food! I filled two medium-sized tupperware containers with the salad. This is very inexpensive, and would be great for a large family, a potluck or party at which you need to feed a lot of people.

Some raw chopped onions would make a nice addition, but I didn’t want us all to have to breathe on each other with onion breath all night.

Spread on a sandwich, in a pita, or over some greens. ENJOY!

LAST NIGHT’S DINNER: Tofu Quiche!

This recipe is so simple – and best of all, you can give it whatever flavor you want!

This is the basis for ANY vegan quiche: 1 block tofu, 1/3 cup nondairy milk (I use soy), pie crust (homemade or vegan store bought).

After that, you can add anything you’d like – vegetables, faux-meat, curry powder, fresh herbs, daiya cheese or another vegan cheese, etc etc…. Once you make one of these, you’re going to want to play around. This is also a great way to use up the last bits of any fresh veggies you may have on hand. So have fun!

JAIME’S TOFU QUICHE

  • vegan pie crust
  • 1 block tofu, pressed
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 12 0z. mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp. tamari sauce (more to “deglaze” the pan if needed)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp. tumeric
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add the rest of the veggies, cut to size of your liking, and sautee until softened but still crisp.

Add dried basil and tumeric. Remove from heat. In a food processer, combine pressed tofu (just crumble it in) and soy milk. Blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine tofu mixture with the sauteed veggies.

At this point, add vegan cheese if you wish. I added about 1/3 cup nutritional yeast. Mix together.

Spread tofu mixture into the pie crust evenly.

Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until the top is browned.

Let cool, and ENJOY!

*Note: Make sure, if you are using a non-disposable metal pie pan, you spray it first or oil it to prevent the crust from sticking.

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

MANIFEST VEGAN: An interview with Allyson about her Beautiful Blog!

One of my favorite vegan food bloggers has agreed to talk to us for a super-inspiring interview! The wonderful Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan tells us about using food as activism, raising a vegan family and building community through the internet.

One glance at Manifest Vegan and you’ll see why this lady is such an inspiration! And it’s nice to know the woman behind the blog is every bit as sweet and friendly as her food is beautiful and delicious. Allyson’s recipes are her own and she is also the talented photographer behind the photos that help us look at our computer screens and begin to imagine the tastiness on her end.

Please enjoy this interview, and keep an eye out for the cookbook Allyson is working on. We should all be so lucky to invite her into our homes! Thank you, Allyson!

You started Manifest Vegan in 2009. Did some event happen that got you to finally start the project? Was it a long time in the making? What influenced your decision to write the blog?

Well, it was sort of a series of events…. I studied art in college (painting and sculpture).  And although I loved making art, I didn’t love the scene that came along with it. I was a homebody, and not much of a face to face people person.  I also was working various art related jobs, heading to a career in museum work, and I just became burnt out. At that point I knew I was using my creativity incorrectly.

I was always making art about subjects that mattered the most to me- mostly sexism and in a strange, and nowhere near as defined way, animal rights ( because they are completely connected, although I didn’t realize it at the time). I wanted to share my experiences through my art, and talk about the issues that were always on my mind.  And even though I was immersed in the art scene and actively showed my work- I never felt like I ever had an audience with my art.  Even if there was literally an audience, I was not convinced my message was getting through to anyone. So, I stopped pursuing traditional “art” in a sense, and converted my energy to advocating veganism.

I thought the web would be a nice gallery space where I would have an easier time getting my work seen, although my subject matter and message became a little more direct.  Now my medium of choice is photography, and my message is “go vegan! ” or at least “hey, try this cookie!”

How would you briefly sum up your blog and its mission?

I want to share recipes of delicious vegan food so people will make it, eat it, and enjoy it – with no animals being harmed along the way. I’d like to think I am helping to debunk the “vegans eat only salads myth” by handing out free info about how much youcan eat while being vegan. It’s my own version of vegan activism. Some people hand out pamphlets, I hand out recipes.

(Sticky Buns!  Vegan and AWESOME.)

When did you first become aware of veganism? Did something in particular trigger your decision to delve into this lifestyle?

I first became a vegan back when I was 15 years old. At the time, there was limited internet access, and “being vegan” was not too common. There was very little information out there, and I had only been exposed to the more glamorous side (the health benefits) of becoming vegan. I had checked out a small book from the library about vegetarianism, and in the very back of the book there was a section encouraging you to take one step further and go vegan.

I listened, and went vegan for about two years. Unfortunately High School got the better of me.  I fell off of the vegan wagon and jumped back on again about 5 times until I finally bucked down and watched “meet your meat” and “earthlings”.  I forced myself into a very needed wake-up call and immediately turned vegan… again… for good.

How do you hope to illustrate the idea of veganism to people who aren’t familiar with it, or may have preconceived notions of what it is?

I hope to illustrate it colorfully, deliciously, and simply… exactly as veganism really is!

(A throwback to comfort food. Creamy NO-Chicken and Rice)

For you, is a vegan diet about health, the animals, the environment? All of the above?

I definitely do it because I believe (above most other things) in leading a non-violent life.  The health benefits of eliminating animal products and the environmental benefits of a vegan diet are also very good indicators for me that I am doing the right thing.

How has blogging impacted and maybe even changed your life?

It has really opened up many doors for me. For a long time I was only exposed to people and ideas relating to art. Now, I feel like the people I can have conversations with about my work are from all types of backgrounds and experiences.  My blog keeps me focused on constantly upping my knowledge and connecting with people who have similar goals- very much like I have always done with art. Blogging has changed my perspective on art and communication in general, though. I see the potential of art everywhere now -not just in a gallery or museum.

(Fig and Walnut Ravioli Dolci. Clearly made by someone who studied art.)

I also have made advancements in my recipe development, and food photography skills which is enabling me to write my very first cookbook.  I never saw myself as a cookbook author until I began blogging, but now I am excited to be on such a path.

What sort of feedback do you get from people about your blog and your recipes? How does that encourage and inspire you, or perhaps cause you to reassess what you do?

I love my readers. Hands down, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group of people! It seems like readers are really enjoying my work, and actually look forward to new stuff- which is amazing. My readers give me confidence about my work, fuel new ideas, and I take their feedback (whether it be comments, emails, or links from other bloggers) as a critique. I like that a lot, and I learn from it  constantly.

One big thing that I was afraid of doing with my blog was going gluten free- I thought everyone would freak out and unsubscribe. But, seeing as I had celiac disease, I really had no choice. The amount of positive reaction I received after the change was incredible! I not only didn’t lose my original subscribers, I gained more who were looking for gluten free recipes. I feel really grateful for having such open minded and loyal readers.

(This one seals the deal for me. PIEROGIES. Oh yes she did. Somehow, Allyson crawled into my dreamland of Polish dumplings raining from the sky and growing from the earth like cabbages. Well, at the very least anyone who includes pierogies in their recipes is a true friend of mine.)

Do you have any cooking inspiration? Do you watch cooking shows, read certain books or blogs, get inspired by certain cuisines, etc? Is cooking a personal or meditative experience for you?

My mom taught me how to cook without actually teaching me. She would cook for hours in the kitchen and I would lurk around, secretly noting every move she made and every ingredient added. When I was just 8 years old, I dove into her humongous recipe file and whipped up my first batch of cookies. They turned out really well!  I have been hooked on making my own food ever since.

We don’t own a television set so I never see any cooking shows, and to be honest, I really try and NOT read other people’s recipes unless the idea of what I am trying to make is totally foreign to me.  I feel like too much exposure may influence my originality. Again, it’s a lot like making art. You have to see a lot of it and talk about it often to understand it, and appreciate it, and to get a better perspective… but making your own stuff (all the time) is really the only thing that will make you better at it. At least that’s true for me.

(Mushroom and Asparagus Tart. Showstopper. Make your dinner guests salivate.)

And, cooking is definitely both personal and meditative for me. My favorite place to be is in the kitchen, I could spend all day in there! I even enjoy washing the dishes, and will just start doing them to get a break from all of the hustle and bustle on the weekends!   You can easily find me cooking something up three times a day. It’s kind of an addiction, I’d say. Now that I have a family, the rewards of sharing my cooking creations make spending time in the kitchen even better.

When I contacted you about doing this interview, you made a very positive comment on fellow bloggers supporting each other and not getting too competitive. What is your take in the community aspects of blogging?

Community is everything! I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support that is bountiful in the blog-o-sphere.  I have met so many wonderful people through blogging, who have honestly become better friends of mine than many of my friends in the “real world”.

It is incredible the amount of good that can happen when people connect with each other, rather than segregate themselves. No matter what our core differences, I think ultimately we all [vegan bloggers] want to communicate the same message “stop eating animals”, and having a community of likeminded individuals makes it all the easier to spread that message loud and clear.

(Pumpkin Apple Ginger Soup. The Fall season in a bowl.)

You have a friendly and welcoming approach to your blog, which I personally love and also strive to do. Do you think that approach to vegan cooking makes it easier for people new to the idea to get involved with cooking healthier and perhaps changing more aspects of their life?

Thanks Jaime! I think setting a friendly & positive example (not too far from home) is exactly the attitude that needs to be presented to folks unfamiliar with veganism, or any new idea, really.

I personally have never been happier since I committed myself to veganism, and I think many folks would feel the same if they made the switch too. I like to be honest and upbeat, because veganism is not just a lifestyle for me, it’s a cause I truly and wholeheartedly believe in.  I’d like to set a positive example for people, and show them how fun “being vegan” really is- and that I am not at all deprived. I know I am more fulfilled as a vegan than I was as an omnivore, and I‘d like to invite people to investigate that idea.

(When life hands you weeds…. change your perspective and make Dandelion Fritters!)

Is veganism something your whole family shares in? Does it set an example of values for your family? (Tell us about your family, too! Include photos if you’d like.) Is your child vegan?

My husband and I are blessed to share very similar ideas and values (we met and fell head over heels for each other in art school), so we made the vegan switch together.  Since we believe that eating a vegan diet is the very least we can all do to try and lead good lives, our children are definitely being raised vegan. We have an 8 year old boy Landen, who made the switch with us and he really enjoys it. He fully understands that people’s hamburgers contain dead cows, and he was never very excited about that… so it wasn’t a strain to convert him. He has always been a wonderful eater- requesting dark leafy greens, whole grain pastas and fruit over most other foods.

Our daughter, Olive (pictured above), is just a year and a half old, so she has been vegan since conception. She has a voracious appetite for vegan cookies, hummus, kale and tempeh!

Our kids eat far more diverse and whole foods (and dare I say healthier) than any omnivore children I know.  I take pride in that. Someday, I hope they will too.

If years from now you can look back on your blog as having left some sort of impact or legacy, what would that ideally be?

It would be wonderful to look back and say “My blog was a small part of a big movement that helped veganism become as common as it is today”.

And of course, by then, at least half of the world’s population will have adopted a vegan diet.  It could happen…

(Wine AND chocolate? Get the heck out of here. Lucky we’re at the end because my head just blew up. Shiraz Ganache Glazed Brownies.)

Clearly, Allyson and her blog are beacons for anyone that wonders “What can you eat if you’re a vegan?” Try and find a single thing on that blog that doesn’t look appetizing and delicious. (I’ll save you some time- you won’t find anything that doesn’t meet those descriptions.)

I’m also so thrilled to announce that Manifest Vegan can be found in the July-August issue of VegNews Magazine as one of their Top 10 Picks for Veg Blogs! WOW, what an honor! Get yourself to a bookstore and rejoice.

Now get yourself over to Manifest Vegan, and don’t forget to find her on FACEBOOK too.

Dinner date.

Hectic schedules and saving money for vacation (WOOHOO!) meant that “date night” last week (I feel like a soccer mom being interviewed for Better Homes and Gardens when I say that) was a meal in the back yard with candles, wine and later a walk to Vegan Treats for cherry-chocolate soft serve.

I’ve pulled out some cookbooks I haven’t flipped through in a while to give me new flavor ideas, and came across this simple and absolutely wonderful recipe for Caribbean Jerk Tofu and roasted vegetables from Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites. Allow me to share! This is a copy of the recipe, edited a little by me.

Caribbean Jerk Tofu

2 tofu cakes, pressed and cut into triangles, cubes, or “steaks”

MARINADE/SAUCE:

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 fresh chilis or jalapeno, sliced and seeds removed
  • 3 TBPS tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a little black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Press the tofu to drain water. Put all marinade ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Put tofu in a dish and pour marinade over the top. Store in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Put marinated tofu on a baking sheet, spooning extra marinade on top. Bake for an hour, turning over once or twice.

Caribbean Roasted Veggies

(This is very close to the marinade recipe above, so you can always try making extra and just using that if you want to save a little time! But I think this recipe holds up better to coat the vegetables.)

DRESSING

  • 3 TBSP tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 fresh chili or jalapeno, seeds removed

Blend all ingredients in a food processor.

The vegetables I used were: one zucchini, 2 red potatoes, one large sweet potato, one large bell pepper. (You can use these and/or carrots and thick slices of onion.) Veggies were cut into chunks.

Oven should be heated to 425 degrees. Toss veggies with dressing in a large bowl, then add to a baking sheet coated with spray oil. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Stir veggies once or twice during baking to prevent sticking to the pan.

Verdict: SO DELICIOUS, and the house smelled great for two days! This is a really unique combination of seasonings and flavor, and with a well-stocked pantry, the marinade can be made almost any time, for whatever you’re cooking.

I also made wheat berries (in place of rice), dressed simply with olive oil, fresh cilantro and lemon juice. If you’re not sure what a wheat berry is, get rid of your preconception because NOT a berry. It’s a whole wheat kernel (flour is made from these little guys!) that can be used as you’d use rice.

Wheat berries are cooked with a 3:1 ratio (3 cups water, 1 cup dried wheat berries), and once cooked, they have a very chewy al dente texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. If you like white bread, these may take some getting used to. If you like whole grain bread full of nuts and seeds and little crunchy things, you’re going to LOVE wheat berries.

I had many ingredients already in my pantry, so this whole dinner only cost about $5.00. And there were plenty of leftovers. And room for vegan ice cream (barely).