Web Feast Friday: Rawmageddon Begins


Friday the First can mean only one thing:  RAWMAGEDDON has begun!  Our first 30 Day Challenge went surprising well as we managed to post almost every day during January.  We missed a couple of days, but definitely feel pretty confident that we can continue our streak.  Now that February has begun, 30 Day Challenge #2 has begun in which we eat raw every meal, every day.  Day 1 is in the books with juices, smoothies, nuts, and salads dominating the menu.  We have some interesting recipes queued up for a few occasions and look forward to sharing some of these with our faithful readers.  In the meantime, we leave you with some great ideas for your Super Bowl Sunday festivities!

Anything that’s vegan AND fully loaded has to be good.  Right?

Sunday brunch idea to get primed for the big game!

CUPCAKES!!

For those of you taking on Rawmageddon with us, add this to your Big Game must-cook list.

I’ve ask myself this question so many times.  Now I have an answer.

If you haven’t liked any ideas thus far, here’s a whole list of ideas to help you write your Super Bowl menu.

Here’s the “big game” I’m really looking forward to this weekend.  J-Pow!!

I couldn’t help myself.  I had to end things with some more BTnH.

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Kickstart my Vegan Heart

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Being huge fans of the website Kickstarter, we find ourselves constantly looking for independent businesses, projects, and ideas to support in hopes of expanding the ever-growing world of vegan commerce.  When you add in our passion for cookbooks, new and old, it’s no surprise that we jumped at the opportunity to fund an all-vegan cookbook inspired by the author’s world travels and culinary adventures.  This project was met its funding goal last October, and we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the finished product.  The authors have done a great job of keeping us posted on the progress, sharing additional recipes and thoughts along the way, and building the excitement up to the release date.

We recently received our copy of The Lotus and Artichoke and couldn’t wait to crack it open and start cookin’!  Along with the author’s story and pictures of adventures, the book features amazing recipes from all over the globe representing multiple cuisines and ethnic fare.  We’ve already “tested” a couple recipes, and have several more on our growing list to try out over the course of the next month or so.  They will definitely make an appearance on the blog, and we are looking forward to sharing these with all you in.  In the meantime, check out the official website for the Lotus and the Artichoke, and head on over to their Facebook page and give them some love.  If you feel inspired enough, pick up a copy or three for yourself and two of your best friends and get cookin’ yourself!

If you need some extra inspiration or a soundtrack for your cooking, we leave you with this gem.

Web Feast Friday


It finally feels like winter here in the Pacific NW, and we have a brand new dusting of snow on  the hills throughout the valley.  We’re eleven days into the year, and still holding strong to our commitment/resolution of blogging every day!  We have lots of great ideas for posts, and lots of great recipes and stories to share.  We also have some exciting adventures on the horizon that are sure to create even more blog fodder. Snowshoeing is on the agenda this weekend, along with a little wine tour.  In the meantime, sit back and relax the second installment of Web Feast Friday for 2013!

Simple.  Easy.  Indian flavors.  Love it!

For those of you who want to go raw with us next month, here’s a recipe to bookmark.

The EPL household is a big fan of savory waffles.  These just made the cut for Sunday brunch.

Health vegan Twix bars?

We’re everywhere!!!!

We’re hosting a vegan Super Bowl party this year, and you KNOW this will be served!

Lot’s of recipes this week means lots of cooking and baking is taking place.  One such cooking escapade involves a shopping trip to the Asian market, no real plan, and $100 in groceries.  Stay tuned for that story!

We leave you with some winter running inspiration and motivation.  Play outside this weekend and cook some good food.

The vegan guide to grilling: Do’s & Dont’s

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GRILLIN SEASON YO! But oh snap, you’re vegan! That’s right – YOU were the one that, in the sanctity and potato soup laden months surrounding New Years, elected to stop eating animals without even considering that, YES, fish is an animal and, YES, that one douche from college that shows up to backyard parties with the ‘bags’ and Bud Light will call you a pussy.

Here is good general advice: don’t let the douche get you down. Use this as an opportunity to parade around your plant-powered washboard abs, drink your new-age classy microbrew,  and show off your hot vegan girl/boy toy you snagged while reaching for the same bottle of kombucha at the Coop – then watch smugly as “el douche” houses your secretly vegan foods. Congrats on being the bigger person.

That grill looks like it was dumped on by a rainbow. A nom nom rainbow.

The following is a general outline of how to have a proper a vegan BBQ, and how to properly jack up a vegan BBQ.  Grab a cold one, sit back, and explore the dos and don’ts of vegan grillin’!

Brian demonstrating how to look casually cool while the thunderous excitement for vegan grillin’ steeps manically beneath the surface.

DO:  Purchase your favorite seasonal grill-able veggies.  The key is cutting the veggies in BIG slices and putting them directly on the grill, brushed with a little oil and salt and pepper or your favorite herbs.

  • red onions
  • asparagus
  • peppers
  • zucchini
  • corn
  • portabella mushrooms
  • eggplant

DON’T:  Speak like a vegan food scientist in casual conversation. Also, try not to add the words “vegan” and “cruelty free” when describing any food OR find tricky ways to politicize the meal. Examples include “Are you enjoying your reconstituted TVP burger?” or “How is the vegan potato salad? The potatoes are locally grown and the farmer assured me that no Monsanto poisons pollute any farms within 100 miles of his.” Basically this “Don’t” should read: Don’t be an asshole.

DO:  Have plenty of beer on ice.  Expensive, cheap, or somewhere in the middle. The word in the hipster underground is that Miller High Life and PBR  are the new cheap-chic…so depending on your camp, either stock up or post a passive aggressive anti-hipster sign such as “I brake for Coors Light” or “Down with Ray Ban’s”.  Our house microbrew fav’s are Rogue Dead Guy, Fat Tire, Pyramid Apricot, and Caldera Ashland amber.  Besides quality produce, cold beer IS essential.

DON’T: Put out the fire with your urine. It may sound fun, but the only meat getting near the grill should be made from plants.

DO:  Experiment with the many faux-meat grill-ables. Everybody from Tofurky to Boca to Field Roast makes a version of brats and veggie burgers. Our go-to brats are the Field Roast Apple & Sage, or you can try making your own version using this recipe. Veggie burgers are up for debate in our fam, but I have been power-eating the Don Lee veggie patties at about every meal lately – not only do they have a rad indian food flava with a burger-like texture, they are also hella cheap at Costco.

Preparing the sausage for the Battle of the Grill.

DON’T: Alienate anyone based on food preference. Life is about doing what brings you the most happiness, and while I would love it if everyone thought like me – it would also be boring and terrifying. The key is sharing your passion for veganism, or any other belief and passion , is to listen loudly, be open to answering questions, let go of judgements, and offer a supportive ear. Your friends will be curious about how you can be so happy with all that veg, but they may not quite be ready to make the change. Cook your fare then let them cook their goods. Oh, and it’s totally cool to just say you prefer not to cook the meat if it weirds you out – and if they are a true friend, they will be equally as cool with cooking.

DO: Cook veggie burgers on a mesh grate or foil over the grill. Since some of the burgers are bound together by beans they tend to get soft on the grill and will fall between the wider grate. Nobody likes a dusty-ass, charcoal covered burger.

black bean burger from Veganomican (killer cookbook)

Grilled tofu protein bomb

DON’T: Skimp on the sides. Be sure to have the standard chips and guacamole, a creative potato salad , and plenty of dippin’s. I can no longer eat vegetables without Cafe Yumm’s Yumm sauce – I can, and have, eaten that stuff straight up with a spoon. And lest we forget it was Chaucer who once said, “Woe to the cook whose sauce has no sting.” Don’t bring the woe – bust out that hot sauce and bedazzel the grill you f’in grillers!

DO: Get creative with greens. Sturdy greens such as bok choy, kale, and romaine can be grilled with a little oil, salt, and pepper and used to cut up in salads, toss with beans and a dressing, or as an alternative to buns (such as our little grilled tempeh lettuce wraps seen here).

Top it with some hot stuff and apply some sauce. (that’s what she said)

Dang that lettuce look good!

DON’T: Forget dessert. Have some dairy free ice-cream, we heart Coconut Bliss vanilla island, and while the grill is hot, grab some peaches or other stone fruit, and try this delicious grilled peaches recipe from PPK.

I fell into a burning ring of fire…and it was delicious.

DO: Sell it to your friends that this vegan grilling experience is an adventure or turn it into a competition. How about hosting your own grilling Iron Chef with meat free ingredients? Or most creative use of grilled vegetables wins a sweet veggie themed apron like this?

Lastly, DON’T forget why you made this decision to cut back or go free of meat. We love embracing the challenge to transform our seasonal and traditional cravings into new, kinder cravings. Be sure to share your summer favorites and cheers to a great summer!

Best (iowa) corn: Paprika and chipotle spices, cooked with the husk on. Juicy deliciousness.

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Monday Meal Planning: Scrambled tofu, bulgogi style tofu, brunch sandwich, enchiladas, and the 1988 movie Twins.

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Graduating from last week’s advice about less is more in meal planning, this week you are visiting the more assertive style of meal planning with 5-6 dishes inspired by cuisine from around the world. This is really just my way of expressing a deep longing for a kitchen, as my reemergence to the workforce has our routine life in upheaval. Evan is sick at home nom noming on rice cakes then waiting a reasonable about of time in a pre-pounce position to see if it will remain inside of his body while I am in Portland hanging out with friends as we substantially boast the local economy via fanatical consumption of vegan food and craft beer. More simply said, he is the Danny Devido to my Arnold Swartzanegger of life right now.

So for those of you on the quest for assertive yet simple cooking this week, here are some inspired ideas for an inspired week!

WEEKLY MENU PLAN

MONDAY: Nothings feels like pure joy and possiblility quite like breakfast food, and who doesn’t need happy optimism on a Monday? Simple Scrambled Tofu and Sweet Potato Fries will help you ease into your week as full-time adult. (If this is too much cooking, I’ve found Van’s frozen waffles with peanut butter and jelly and/or a whole box of frosted flakes eaten out of a large mixing bowl will also do the trick)

TUESDAY: Spice up your Tuesday with some fine Korean-inspired dining with Bulgogi Style Tofu. If you don’t have any mirin, the Japanese sweet wine called for in this recipe, just substitute with 1-2 tbsp sugar mixed into 1/2 cup of white wine or sherry.

WEDNESDAY: Use some leftover tofu from yesterday (not marinated) and build this delicious Smoky Brunch Sandwich. Be sure to wash that smoky flava out of your grill with a Single-Serving Apple Crisp

THURSDAY: Leftover’s night (can’t be distracted from watching Parks and Recreation)

FRIDAY: Mexican night! These Avocado and Pinto Bean Enchiladas are real deal delicious.

SATURDAY: be brave – go out – and eat something you would NEVER normally order

SUNDAY: Kick back, drink your favorite beverage, and grill some your favorite veggies. Evan and I season with Sunny Paris seasoning from the wonderful Penzey’s, 1-2 tbsp olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste and love Field Roast Apple & Sage sausages

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Monday meal planning: 5 tips for success

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 Have you ever seen an adult woman throwing an all-out temper tantrum? You know, the kind where she burns anyone near her with the flames projecting from her eyes, the items in her arms get used as weaponry, and/or she flails herself on the bed cursing any variety of events that would make any sane-minded person merely scoff? Well…Evan met a version of this medusa after my first experience with meal planning. I have since reclaimed composure, learning a few ‘what not to do’s’ in the process and educating myself on how meal planning can be less like a day at the DMV and even borderline enjoyable.

1. Enjoy at least one green smoothie everyday. If the rest of your day is filled with oreos and italian food, at least you can say you made this one nutritious choice. Chances are if you begin your day with a nutrient-packed smoothie you will have more of the confidence and energy to keep the healthy momentum going!  The best part of a smoothie is you can change it up everyday to add variety to your routine and, since your body is able to more quickly digest liquid food, it will aid in digestion, ensure hydration, and empower your immune system while giving you instant energy due to the fructose absorption from the fruit. If you don’t already, go out RIGHT NOW and purchase a Vitamix. It is the best investment you will every make. Our typical smoothie includes:

 

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of frozen fruit: blueberries, strawberries, pineapple
  • 1/2 – 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup greens: spinach or kale
  • 1/2 non-dairy milk: coconut or almond
  • 1 – 2 tbsp brown rice protein
  • 1/2 – 1 scoop Vega performance protein powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp chia seeds
2. Cook up a few signature nutritious items.  In the real world where we are always either coming or going with an extreme sense of urgency, leaving a gap between good intentions and desired outcomes. Translation: no time to cook and you end up eating large portions of sugar cereal and crying. Bridge that gap folks, and take some time on a day off to cook a few items such as:
3.  Build your menu around the seasonal ingredients you buy, not around recipes. Doing this step in reverse was exactly what lead to the tantrum. Searching for recipes first and/or choosing more then 1-2 actual recipes will just lead to less flexibility if the week gets zany, a long list of ingredients, and an expensive trip to the store while potenentially leaving you with items that don’t get used. Beside the extras for step 5, shop for the low cost items then use a recipe builder if you have time to cook. The vegetables and fruits ripe in April are:
  • Zucchini
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Spring peas
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Pineapples
  • Mangoes
4. Every meal should include: A bean, a green, and a grain. Follow step 2 and achieving this balance should be easy.  Our go-to combination is just making a rice bowl with our pre-made ingredients such as: brown rice with black beans, tofu, sweet potato, and kale then topped with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Yumm Sauce.
5.  Make one dish meant for a family dinner. Pick what sounds like fun to make and fun to eat, and commit one day to cooking a sit down meal such as this amazingly creamy Cosmic Kate:

COSMIC CASHEW KALE AND CHICKPEAS W/ CONFETTI QUINOA

FOLLOW LINK ABOVE TO A TRUE HAPPY MEAL

Straight up "EUREKA" yo.

 

Happy meal planning, and be sure to share your ideas with us…we would love to feature your recipes and stories!

 

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Monday meal planning: Cabbage soup, vegan goulash, avocado sandwich, & roasted vegetables

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I have a dream.

In this dream, I am spending my Sunday evenings basking in the possibility of a new week by creating a master grocery list to construct beautiful, nightly meals for my mini family. Evan and I breeze through our door after a fulfilling day at work, change into breathable yet well-fitting dinner clothes, pour a glass of pinot, choose from one of our many aprons, and spend the early evening making a beautiful meal in between flirtatious tickle fights. Then we share that meal on our roomy kitchen table over warm lighting and stimulating conversation. Ahhh….

In my waking life, I am unemployed and when Evan comes home we put on our sweatpants, hold the fridge open for five, energy-wasting minutes before we pull out whatever concoction we can throw together with a few minutes and microwave. We walk right past the magazine and mail holder that was once the kitchen table and eat dinner on the couch while leaning over an end-table. At least there is warm lighting, but it’s coming from the glow of Hulu off our laptops. Oh, and we finished off the last of the pinot while watching WWII documentaries last night. *sigh*

I’m an idealist, and I will hold on tight to that dream..but in the meantime, if the latter situation sounds more like you’re style, might as well accommodate reality and have some quick things cooked up and ready to be eaten. Meal planning is a bit of a science, balancing what is in season with your likes while remaining cognisant of money and balanced nutrition. We have found the best technique is to go to the grocery store with only one special meal in mind (don’t let the idealism die!), but then just purchase a healthy amount of whatever is in season, which is usually also less expensive.  Then you can build your meal plans using a recipe-builder tool like the one on Allrecipes. Just type in the ingredients you purchased and it brings up recipes that include your fare.

Finally, we have staples that we cook every week – usually lentils, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and a marinated protein like tofu or tempeh. Your best bet is to cook when you have time and when you’re feeling happy, we believe that how you feel manifests in how well your food turns out…so step one is always GET HAPPY! This week was clean-out-the-fridge-of-dying-vegetables  week, so enjoy these peasant inspired ideas!

“CALORIE FREE” CABBAGE SOUP *gluten-free

This soup comes with consequences...eat it only around friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green beans, fresh is best!
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to tast

Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Add broth, Tomato paste, cabbage, green beans, basil, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.

Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes. Makes 7-8 cups, serving = 1 cup.

 CABBAGE SOUP NUTRITION: 28 calories – 0 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 55 mg sodium– 6 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 3 g sugar – 1 g protein- 0-1 WW points

MOM’S VEGAN GOULASH

Use spelt or other GF pasta to make the celiac's happy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box elbow macaroni (I used Vitaspelt elbows)
  • 1 cup yves or boca soy crumbles (check for vegan-ness)
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3-5 tsp bouillon, to taste (I used 4.5 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable base…a vegan kitchen staple)

Cook macaroni al dente, drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.

Combine garlic and onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion began to look translucent. Add the remainder of ingredients, except pasta, and cook for 5 minutes until warm and combined. Add in pasta and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Makes 7-8 cups – serving = 1 cup.

VEGAN GOULASH NUTRITION : 157 calories – 8 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 559 mg sodium– 30 g carbs – 5 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 10 g protein- 3 WW points

AVOCADO SANDWICH

(LATS sandwich..lemon, avocado, tomato, spinach)

LATS = YUMM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 slice multigrain bread, toasted (diggin’ on Dave’s Killer Bread 21 grain)
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced (make it look easy, like this dude)
  • Tomato, 2 thin slices
  • Spinach, fresh, to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste

Lay spinach on toasted bread, cover with tomato, and fan avocado thinly on top. Drizzle with light olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper.

AVOCADO SANDWICH NUTRITION : 256 calories – 14 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 208 mg sodium– 31 g carbs – 11 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 9 g protein- 5 WW points

ROASTED VEGETABLES

*The key is using whatever veggies you love and/or whatever you have in the fridge. These are just a baseline of how they are made, and the only calories I count are the ones in the olive oil!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss vegetables with olive oil and seasoning.

Spread veggies in one layer onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning once removed.

*TIP: Try adding tofu or tempeh to vegetables, then sprinkle with Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids. Bragg’s is a great source of protein and includes 16 amino acids, while also having a great flavor to enhance the roasted veggies.

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Wednesday night Thai Green Curry w/ Veggies and Tofu

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We are in the early stages of perfecting weekly meal planning, and I have to give big kisses to Susan Voisin at FatFree Vegan Kitchen for this easy and  delicious curry.  I’m not sure how many times I have to learn the lesson about reading a recipe before I prepare it, but at least one more time because I forgot to soak the cashew, moving this from a Tuesday to a Wednesday night masterpiece.  SOAK THOSE CASHEWS KIDS!!  The beauty of cooking is you can (usually) make what you want of it, so we added an extra cup of kale, an extra tablespoon of green curry, another 1/2 tsp of arrowroot , and you can never go wrong with MORE GARLIC!!

THAI GREEN CURRY WITH VEGETABLES AND TOFU  (follow link for recipe deets) 

Midweek guilt-free comfort food

NUTRITION: 142 calories – 7 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 336 mg sodium, 290 mg potassium – 12 g carbs – 3.2 g fiber – 3.7 g sugar – 9.9 g protein- 4.1 WW points

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