Monday, January 30, 2012

Feeling Lucky's

Week 5: Veganism isn't hard!
It's fun, delicious, and savory, but its especially hard in a smaller city to find vegan options when deciding that eating out is far more convenient.
In Dayton, I have a select few that cater to my needs.
At Lucky's Taproom, in the heart of the Oregon District, they offer an array of vegan foods from salads, soups, hotdogs, burgers, sandwiches, and advertised specials of the day.
For $9.50, my dish of choice is the soy burger on vegan bread topped with vegan cheese, fresh iceberg lettuce, juicy, plump tomato, and crisp white onion. Served with a side of well seasoned sweet potato fries, this is a very fulfilling, pleasurable meal.
Usually, I eat every last bite! The mouthwatering burger is simply unputdownable!
Heehee! It also features all of my four food groups- grains (bread), veggies (lettuce and onion), soy (burger and "cheese"), and fruit (tomato!).
I highly recommend this great place- nice, relaxing atmosphere and though not a vegan bar/restaurant per say, they have a satisfying menu that vegans will love!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Simple Chocolate Cake

It's week 4 of veganism.
I have gladly survived on beans, peas, and Thai food!
Today, I'm sharing a chocoholic treat I often baked every other week in my college days.
Glad it's vegan and still as delicious as the last time it was made.

Simple Chocolate Spice Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 dash black pepper
powdered sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle atop

Butter a 8 or 9 inch pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Add the wet ingredients.
A few lumps are alright!
Pour into pan and bake this baby for 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon if desired.
Tastes great with or without it!

Didn't come out as moist as it usually did. :(
Will add either a 1/3 cup of applesauce or 1 ripened banana the next time!
Still delicious though!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Dish On Prepared Rice Mixes

Rice is a staple to always have in the cabinets/pantries. Along with pastas and beans, rice is one of many imperative foundations of creating a good, filling meal. Nowadays milk, cheese, and yogurt are not just from soy, coconuts, and almonds, rice is also a unique alternative to dairy.
From savory dishes to sweet desserts, rice is a very versatile ingredient that I'll be using in a lot of ways.
Prepared rice mixes on the other hand are readily spiced and easy to make.
Taking about 15-25 minutes to cook, I took on the simple challenge of making three vegan dishes- 2 by the very popular New Orleans favorite, Zatarain's and one from Near East Dish- a company specializing in bringing delicious worldly cuisine to the American table.

Zatarain's Mild Jambalaya.
I added peas, broccoli, soy ground, and olive oil to this fantastic blend of long grain rice and spices.
The moderate kick didn't overpower my taste buds and that's the way I love it.
Not a big fan on very hot food. Most friends say that I'm a wuss (I always call for spice level 0) when it comes to talk of chili peppers and powders.
Next time I'll try it with a vegan sausage like Lightlife's Gimme Lean, but the soy ground held it's own quite well with the flavors of this rice mix.

Near East Dish's Toasted Almond Rice Pilaf.
Who knew that firm rice and crispy almonds went so well together?
Very flavorful with a light nutty taste and delicate crunch, it was a perfect compliment to fibrous green peas and a splash of my friend, Olive Oil.
Ate it with Muir Glen's fire roasted tomatoes and a sprinkling of Daiya mozzarella cheese for dinner, but ate it naked for lunch. 
Also found a recipe of making Almond Rice homemade style and wonder if it'll taste just as delightful!
I have leftover almonds too.
Near East Dish also makes a great line of couscous, a Morrocan grain that tastes and looks similar to rice. More about the awesomeness of that will come later in future posts!

Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice.
At 970 grams of sodium (4 servings), it was very, very salty and hard to eat.
Even adding soy ground and spinach, couldn't counteract the fact.
Do we even need to discuss the effects of diets rich in high sodium levels- high blood pressure and future bone problems for one thing.
Instead of buying this product again, I'll make brown rice, add kidney beans and moderate spices.
On the other hand, Zatarain's Black Beans and Rice mix was a treat that Mom and I used to make as an ingredient for our cheesy, sour cream drenched soft tortillas. Now I must veganize that so we could still create those. That should be a piece of cake!
Except Mom's not really big on the vegan thing...
All in all, rice mixes are great to make, but sometimes it's hard to experiment with them if their sauce is overwhelming.
That's when one knows that it's best to make their own!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vegan Almond Joy Cookies

Chocolate, coconut, & almonds are in every bite of these delicious cookies!
Almond Joys were one of my favorite candy bars growing up.
That sweet chocolate covered coconut almond bliss danced on my taste buds and filled my heart with delicious happiness.
I had to mimic that feeling again- maybe even make it better.
Veganize the perfect blend of addictive chocolate, flaky coconut, and almond crunch.
I found the inspiration for my recipe here is originally by Sarah of peasandthankyou.
With ingredients like whole wheat flour, organic sugar, dark chocolate chips, agave, and almond butter, these are meant to be healthy bars. Adding and omitting items, I used it as an informative guide to create my cookies. Though the shape and taste remind me of macaroons, this adventurous nighttime baking excursion proved to be fun!
Hopefully someone else will enjoy these as much as I do.
It's great to share great eats and delicious treats! :)

Vegan Almond Joy Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup crushed almonds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Peanut Butter and Company's Dark Chocolate Dreams
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
A splash of So Delicious Special Edition Mint Chocolate Coconut Milk (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large cookie sheet.
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, stir peanut butter, applesauce, almond/vanilla extracts, soymilk, and olive oil.
Add it to the dry mixture. (If not evenly coated add a bit more milk).
Spoon onto cookie sheet.
Bake for 12-18 minutes.
This made 2 dozen cookies.

Can be eaten in less than 3 bites!
8th Continent's Plain Soy Milk was the perfect accompaniment to these borderline macaroons!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Concerns Aplenty: Start Of Vegan Week Two

It has been hard.
I won't lie.
Some days, I am far more tired and weak than usual, working out for as little as twenty-five minutes. (I'm usually a monster for 45-60 minutes!!!!) So this is worrisome for me.
Plus, a friend commented that I lacked energy and usual cheerfulness.
Strangely enough, I had about five naps on Saturday. (shocked face)
But I wake up super early and I've never been a morning person....
Now this isn't the first venture into veganism and these are the very same problems I had at eighteen. Four days in, the fatigue drove me to quit.
Protein and fiber have to be the major issues.
My diet has mostly been very, very salty.
I will be trying to add more. (Peanut butter and jam sandwiches maybe?)
Packing nuts on bus trips and adding them to recipes.
Eating a hefty salad before dinner.
Most importantly, having breakfast.
I skip it much too often.
Oatmeal or cold cereal with soy milk is a definite favorite!

Speaking of which, yesterday, I had Sunday brunch at one of my favorite places, Butter Cafe.
The Tofu Scramble Chef's Plate includes yummy well seasoned scramble, two cut up slices of vegan buttered toast, two vegan sausage patties, diced potatoes, and a side of requested avocado!
It's incredibly delicious!
But at $7.95 (plus extra $1.50 charge for avocado) not an everyday meal.
So I'll be making this at home in the future.
Hopefully, it'll be just as awesome!
Oh, those waffles weren't mine by the way!
No vegan waffles or pancakes served unfortunately. :(

Spaghetti (I cook mine past "al deinte" stage) tossed with frozen broccoli, Muir Glen's Diced Tomatoes, Lightlife Soy Ground, and Daiya mozzarella proved to be a very deliciously filling meal.

Served with a glass of 100% sparkling white grape juice, I would say that it was a match made in heaven.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chocolate Banana Olive Oil Coconut Cake

Olive oil being so wonderful, I wanted to make a deliciously sweet treat from it and Google-d olive oil cake. There were many recipes, some looked very delicious (like an Orange Marmalade Olive Oil Cake that I'll make in the distant future!) While others weren't as appealing.
Google also had me in directions that called for vegetable or canola oils.
Not my beloved olive.
So I decided to do a little risk taking.
I took a recipe from this beautiful food blog and made some alterations on it.
Meaning I added olive oil amongst other things.
Wanted to see if it could make an awesome cake!

Chocolate Banana Olive Oil Coconut Cake

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 ripened banana (mine had been black for two weeks if that makes any difference)
1/3 cup olive oil (I used Private Selection's California cold pressed extra virgin)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of ground ginger
1/2 cup of unshredded coconut (optional)

Very Runny Coconutty Glaze

1/2 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut
A splash of vanilla and almond extracts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease (with olive oil)/flour a nine inch cake pan.

Blend and mash the almond milk, banana, olive oil, vanilla, and sugar until smoothly uniformed.
Add all of the dry ingredients, making sure to mix well with a sturdy hand.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, pop baby in the oven, wash the dishes, and prepare the glaze.
Cake should bake for about 20-25 minutes. Maybe longer. Mine took 23 tops.
If it doesn't come out- don't fret! Take a knife, circle around the cake, and flip it onto a plate and spread the glaze on top!
I enjoyed my results.
The cake was super moist and velvety with a simply divine chocolaty taste!
If anyone wanted to make this a two tiered dessert, you only just double the recipe!
Only had one slice, but I'm craving more before bedtime....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Olive Oil's A Triple Threatening Treat

(Simple Olive Oil Garlic Toast)

I'm no expert at all on the benefits of certain foods and reading more each day to further my vegan conscious mind.
One factor, I'm currently studying is the healthy aspects of oils such as grapeseed, coconut, sesame, and the highly recommended olive oil.
The main staple of the Mediterranean diet craze, I do believe that olive oil is a glorious eighth world wonder.
I use it frequently in beauty and cooking.

Two good body products I use are The Body Work's Pomegranate Body oil ($4.99 clearance at Ulta Beauty Store) and Mama Mio's Boob Tube ($30 shipped on eBay) which both contain a hefty amount of good oils, including olive.
After showers or baths, I slather this all over, letting it sync in with slightly towel dried skin and a lotion. Right now I'm using Say Yes to Carrots, which unfortunately isn't vegan due to beeswaw and am shopping around for a new brand.
Boob Tube is specially formulated for boobs and neck area, but sometimes I do use it on my face as a moisturizer.

On wash/condition days, I use Carol's Daughter's Black Vanilla line.
The Black Vanilla Herbal Shampoo ($13.50 Cachet G) doesn't contain olive oil, but the thick, rich Black Vanilla Smoothie Conditioner ($20 Cachet G) certainly does.
Created with chemically treated hair in mind, the Black Vanilla Smoothie Conditioner is another product that I'll have to switch up, but it does work exceptionally well at making hair soft and manageable.

I was in a bit of a rush.
Being famished, I wanted to make a quick, easy dinner!
So with just these five ingredients- olive oil, garlic, soy ground, Muir Glen Fire Roasted Stewed Tomatoes, and Daiya Mozzarella sprinkles, I made sloppy joes!

No need for ketchup, this sweet and tangy dish turned out amazing!
With crisp romaine lettuce on top and thick cut whole wheat bread that handled the "beefy" sloppy mess, it took only five minutes to make and even less to eat!
A very delicious dinner or lunch that is all too simple.

Olive oil is also a part of another night regime.
To keep my dry, natural hair moist a handful of it always does the trick!
See these fat twists were thirsty for the EVOO love and I was more than happy to oblige!
After the doing this, I decided to make a sweet dessert cake to showcase how amazingly versatile olive oil can be.
The results were decadent, chocolaty and, oh so moist.
It's called Chocolate Banana Olive Oil Coconut Cake and the recipe is the subject of the next blog post! :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Budget Grocery Go & A Pasta Dinner

On a budget, this feisty artist/writer gal is out to prove people wrong about this "high priced" vegan lifestyle stereotype.
Plus there's a rumor going around that I'll be too slender to walk. Much less hang out in the wind.
Going about this cheap, easy, and smart, I'll show them all that I can keep my "sistah curves" and be healthy on top of that.
Today I winged it at my neighborhood grocery, but I promise to be more coupon savvy in future posts.
I've signed up for a lot of coupon clubs. So believe me, I'll be prepared. :)

Armed with only $17, that was my receipt.
And what did I get for only that much?

9 little items.
Lightlife's soy ground is my absolute favorite. The crumbles are textured properly, have a lovely brown color, and flavorful taste, especially their Taco Seasoning Soy Ground. It was 20 cents off the original price today and I couldn't have been happier. $2.79 is not bad for a six serving package that makes incredible sloppy joes, meatloaf, meatballs, and other amazing substitutions for real beef.
Two cans of Muir Glenn stewed tomatoes in original and fire roasted were on sale 2 for $3 & I also had a dollar off coupon! Never had these before, but I'm sure I'll find some great online vegan recipes.
On an episode of Dr. Oz last week, he recommended buying frozen vegetables instead of frozen because they still contain their nutrients, last longer than fresh produce, and cost a lot less.
So I got the store brand frozen peas, spinach, and broccoli at $1 each.
The Odwalla juices (Mango Smoothie and B Blueberry) were the best value of the trip- buy one get one free saving me $3.49! These are not from concentrate, have a lot of vitamins and minerals, and have no added sugar.
I personally would only drink one serving (has 4) and have lots of water throughout my day. I've seen people gulp an entire bottle of these, Bolthouse, and Naked juices.
So much sugar.....
Though also store brand, Private Selection is of sound quality and at $5.99 their olive oil was the most expensive item. Usually I would go for something a bit pricier and like my EVOO to be a dark, rich green, I figured that this would do for now.
Plus the bottle looks so pretty! (Yes, I'm a shallow vegan! Heehee!)
For dinner used some of that very olive oil and spinach for Fettuccine Ala No Fredo.
When the pasta was halfway done, I added about 1 1/2 cups of frozen spinach and mushrooms.
Once the trio passed cooking time, due to thickening there wasn't much water to drain!
A bit of almond milk (a tablespoon or less), 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, and a hand full of delightfully addictive Daiya mozzarella sprinkles later and voila dinner was ready!

I shared the pasta fare with my brother over a sparkling grape beverage and I doubt he believed it to be vegan.
But it was! There's no denying the yummy truth. Hahaha!
Delicious and oh so creamy, I was too fulfilled to attempt making a dessert.
Maybe something tomorrow?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Here! Here!
I'm starting a new blog about my adventures into veganism, which was my big New Year's resolution!
Just yesterday, I had my last taste of dairy.
Not just for health reasons, I don't eat any meat because I care a lot about the well beings of animals and how they're being treated. They are practically raised for murder in tight, filthy slaughterhouses and fed unnatural indigestable garbage just so humans can indulge on their flesh. The whole situation just irks me!
Plus growing up, I've never had a stomach for consuming meat and found myself constantly puking or growing retched at the thought of eating more. So yes, I suffered from meat depression and it sucked. Meat was one of the cheapest things my mom could afford.
Having been a lacto-ovo vegetarian since 14, I'm now ready to explore everything there is to know about a diet solely of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and soy!
Veganism to me is the graduation stage of vegetarianism.
Few ever make it to this supposedly very difficult stage.
Reading preparation- books, blogs, and magazine articles have really aided in this dawning realization for me. Though I've tried veganism often in the past, cheese and ice cream have always been adamantly hard to give up cold turkey. In a day or two, I was always reverted back to grilled cheese, Ben & Jerry's Milk And Cookies ice cream or a soy vanilla chai tea at Starbucks like a crazy drug addict.
Thanks to great, far healthier alternatives, I can give all that up now.
I'm truly gung ho about being at home and creating new meals like they're works of art!
Plus I won't have to sacrifice eating out either. I can still have my avocado rolls and Tofu Pad Thai (no egg of course) at various Thai restaurants, veggie sandwiches at Tank's, Lucky's, and Fifth Street Deli, falafel pitas at Cedarland or Gyro, Chipotle bowls/burritoes without dairy ingredients and countless other eateries.
Today's menu included a peanut butter sandwich and almond milk for lunch, rotini pasta with mozzarella Daiya and mushrooms for dinner, and Annie's organic chocolate chip granola bars (ummm not the yummiest) for a snack.
But tomorrow's mission includes online coupon searching, recipe downloads, and local (not specialty) neighborhood grocery store shopping!
I'm determined to make this lifestyle easy and affordable.
Hopefully, inspire others into doing the same.
Also at afroveganchick, I'm talking more than food- beauty, hair, and clothing veganism go hand in hand too!
Happy vegan tidings! :)