Book Review: Veganish

This is a first. Today I bring to you a book review!

veganish

Upon receiving my copy of Veganish – the omnivore’s guide to plant-based cooking I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had read a description of the book and it sounded to me like a vegan cookbook. I went straight to the recipes in this book, glancing over the titles of them and they all sounded vegan to me. But when I read a bit further, I noticed each recipe included “omnivorous variations”. I guess that’s where the title “vegan-ish” comes in… This was kind of confusing to me and definitely made me have mixed feelings about the book.

I don’t really know what the author was aiming for in creating a book like this. I do understand that sometimes vegan dishes don’t always appeal to omnivores, or sometimes omnivores wouldn’t look twice at a plant based cook book – but on the other hand is giving an omnivore options with a vegan dish to make it not vegan anymore really going to help them transition to a more plant based diet? Wouldn’t the omnivore already know how to throw some chicken or butter into their dish if they felt like it?

I feel it may be hard to read a book like this and actually be persuaded to include more exclusively vegan dishes in their diet, especially when the author goes into detail about being vegetarian, and then vegan for a lot of years but then going back the other way, becoming a (as she calls it) reluctant omnivore. People do not usually welcome an adjustment like changing their diet very easily, so seeing options to add animal products into some amazing vegan dishes may be too familiar and comfortable to someone who has trouble with change.

On the other hand, this book could possibly help people discover the ingredient swaps and options for enjoying vegan food. It might be able to help those slowly transitioning to a plant based diet, for those that are actually committed to becoming plant based. And I do know that slowly changing your habits is important – I certainly didn’t become vegan overnight. Also, I realize there are families with various dietary preferences, where certain family members refuse to change and they all need to get along at meal time, so it could be a good resource for these people. After being vegan for over 3 years now, it’s been great seeing those close to me learning more about using plant based ingredients and being interested in incorporating them in their own lives!

So anyways, now I’d like to discuss my experience cooking from this book.

There are so many tasty-sounding recipes in the book, but the one that stood out to me first was the Thai green curry vegetable stew. I’ve always loved the green Thai curry you find at Thai restaurants and have never seemed to be able to recreate my own. This recipe was exactly what I have been looking for; it was amazingly flavorful and easy. I opted for the tofu variation of this recipe by pan frying chunks of tofu with some coconut oil, salt and pepper and adding it in. For the veggie mix I used red bell pepper, mushroom, celery and carrot. I couldn’t get fresh basil so I added a couple teaspoons dried. This recipe will become a regular in my home! I’ve made it twice in two weeks.

THAI GREEN CURRY VEGETABLE STEW

Yields about 4 servings
Delicious and easy, this is great over Coconut Jasmine Rice (Grains).
Choose a quality curry paste with all-natural ingredients (see About Quality Ingredients).

Combine in a medium soup pot:

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
    Cook over medium heat for about 8–10 minutes, until onion is translucent.

Add:

  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1–3 Tbsp prepared Thai green curry paste
  • ¼ cup mirin, white wine, stock, or water
    Cook for 3 minutes more, stirring to lift pieces off the bottom of pan.

Add:

  • 4 cups assorted vegetables, such as zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, and snow peas
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
    Simmer until vegetables are cooked.

Add:

  • ¼ cup whole Thai basil leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1–2 tsp Sucanat or coconut sugar, to taste

Adjust salt, sweetener, and lime to taste. Serve over rice.

Variation

  • To add [extra] protein to this dish, add tofu (fresh or fried separately in coconut oil) with the seasoned coconut milk. Simmer until almost fully cooked before adding vegetables so as not to overcook them.
  • I sometimes blanch and shock (see Essential Techniques) the  vegetables separately and add them at the end to keep them perfectly cooked.

thai green curry simmering in a pot

cooked thai green curry plated with white rice

If this book is what you’ve been looking for, here is some further information.

Buy Links

About the Author:

Mielle Chenier-Cowan Rose has been a vegan chef and advocate for natural living for over 15 years. She studied healing foods and culinary nutrition at Bauman College and has worked with some of the most prominent vegetarian restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the raw food restaurant phenomenon Café Gratitude. Readers of her culinary writing can almost taste the uncommon reverence she has for her ingredients, for cooking, and for every being on the planet. She lives in Nevada City, CA.

 

Chickpea and Broccoli Casserole

I think you could make this casserole with just about any veggies you have on hand. I might try it even with a marinara sauce on the top next time. The texture and flavor of this was great! Especially the next day after the flavors have mingled. I love how the chickpeas are mashed, it makes the casserole have a rich texture that doesn’t seem like you are eating legumes (even though I love legumes, this change was a nice way to eat them).

I came across the recipe for chickpea and broccoli casserole posted on the Vegan Mama blog.

  • Two 16-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (preferably whole wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Roughly 2 Tbsp of powdered garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • A bit of Daiya vegan cheddar cheese mixed into the body of the casserole.
  • I also made a crumb topping–which I highly recommend–made of melted Earth Balance vegan butter combined with whole wheat bread crumbs and a little Daiya vegan cheddar cheese. I don’t know the amounts–sorry–but it’s pretty easy to eyeball and probably largely suited to individual taste, anyway.

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas well, using a potato masher or firm fork. It takes about 2 minutes to get the right consistency.

beginning to mash chickpeas

Beginning to mash chickpeas

prepped veggies

Prepped veggies

Add the vegetables and mix well. Add the bread crumbs and mix; then add the oil, and mix again. Finally, add the vegetable broth and salt, and mix one last time.

veggie mixture for casserole

Transfer all ingredients to a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish (preferably glass or ceramic). Press the mixture firmly into the casserole. Top with crumb topping of whatever you like. Bake for 1 hour.

chickpea and broccoli casserole ready for oven

finished casserole

CREDIT: Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra-Moskowitz

Hot and Sour Soup

Finally I’m back to blogging after a bit of a break! I’ve had too much wedding related chaos to make any time for myself, or my cooking. But I have some goodies saved up that I will now post.

First I have to show off an awesome addition to my kitchen, thanks to my amazing fiance!! I’ve gotta show off both what a great guy he as, as well as his mad welding skills (he is a welder). I mean, how lucky am I to have a guy that does this for me…and actually not just for me but for both of us because we cook together often! It makes it way easier for both of us to be in the kitchen.

kitchen island

How did I live without this stainless steel beauty before?

That’s the food dehydrator stored at the bottom. A great place for that massive thing which used to hang out on our kitchen table because it didn’t fit anywhere else.

Now…on to the FOOD! I got the idea of making this soup from another blog, luminousvegans. I’ve always wanted to try hot and sour soup but never have! The recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum.

Hot and Sour Cabbage Soup
Serves six?

1 Tbs Oil
1 Small Onion, minced
1 Small Cabbage, about the size of a grapefruit
2 Large Carrots, chopped
1 15oz Can Tomatoes, blended smooth
6 Cups Water
1 Cup Cubed Pressed, Baked Tofu (like wildwood baked) – I changed this and just used firm tofu, couldn’t find baked
1/4 Cup Tamari, low sodium
1/3 Cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar (or if you only have regular rice vinegar like I did – use 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1  1/2 Tbsp sugar and 3/4 tsp salt)
1 tsp Hot Red Chili Flakes (I used Asian hot chilli sauce – to taste)
1/2 tsp Salt
Black Pepper, to taste (a lot!)

Heat a large 5 qt soup pot that has a heavy lid over medium heat. Add oil and onion, and saute until golden.

sauteeing veggies for soup

Meanwhile, quarter your cabbage, remove the core, and shred the cabbage with a large chef’s knife. Add carrots, tomatoes, cabbage and water to the pot and stir well.

tofu cubed

First time using tofu cubed up in something - loved it in this soup!

Add the tofu, tamari, vinegar, chili flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, then turn heat down to medium low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until cabbage and carrots are the desired tenderness.

soup ingredients simmering in a pot

Grind a lot of fresh black pepper over the top and serve.

The flavor in this soup was so great, I am going to make it again very soon. The tofu absorbs the soup flavor and it is melt in your mouth goodness – it’s addicting. This soup is also easy, and you can keep it in the fridge and eat it all week.

This one is a winner – try it out for yourself!

Tofu-Spinach Lasagna

Don’t let the title scare you, you can not tell this is made with tofu – this lasagna is great!! The two types of tofu blended become just like the texture of ricotta cheese – brilliant! Because of all the great texture, you don’t even notice the cheese missing. It is so satisfying!

They key to make the flavor great starts with a good, flavorful, rich pasta/tomato sauce. Start with this and you will have a great result. I got this recipe from the recipe section of the ADAPTT website.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. lasagna noodles (I used brown rice lasagna noodles)
  • 2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 lb. soft tofu
  • 1 lb. firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. minced basil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups (2 jars) tomato sauce

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside on a towel. Be careful not to let them stick together. If this happens, run warm water over them to separate. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

cooking brown rice lasagna noodles

Squeeze the spinach as dry as possible and set aside. Place the tofu, sugar, soy milk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil, and salt in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

getting ready to make vegan ricotta

vegan ricotta

Check out that texture!

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, then a layer of noodles (use about one-third). Follow with a layer of half of the tofu filling and half of the spinach.

assembling vegan lasagna layers

Continue in the same order using half of the remaining tomato sauce and noodles and all of the remaining tofu filling and spinach. End with the remaining noodles, covered by the remaining tomato sauce.

tomato sauce layer

oven ready vegan lasagna

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes six to eight servings.

Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, and Red Lentil Soup

This soup is SO TASTY. It’s probably my favorite! It’s comforting and creamy. I love using my hand blender to puree soups right in the pot. If you don’t have one just use a normal blender or food processor – just make sure you let the steam escape or the lid might go flying!

I adapted this recipe from one I found off All Recipes. The original used dairy products.

Serves 6.
Ingredients:

1/8 cup Olive Oil (can be less, whatever you want, but it’s a big pot of soup)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled (if desired) and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4 cups vegetable broth

Directions:

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Place the chopped sweet potatoes, carrots, apple, and onion in the pot. Stir and cook the apples and vegetables until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

sweet potatoes, carrots, apples cooking
Stir the lentils, ginger, ground black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and vegetable broth into the pot with the apple and vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.

beginning to puree soup
very creamy soup after pureeing
Return the pureed soup to the cooking pot. Bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Optional: Add water/broth as needed to thin the soup to your preferred consistency.

This makes a good sized pot of soup! I have been meaning to freeze some, but we always end up eating it all up during the week. I would think it will freeze  well.

Mexican Quinoa Bake

This dish is easy, low in calories, and packed with nutrition. It’s also tasty and versatile – just add whatever other Mexican flavors you like to it! I had leftover green onion and jalapeno to use up that was already chopped up from other recipes, so I added this to the recipe as well.

I got this recipe off the Daiya website.

 

Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (I cooked the quinoa in veggie broth I needed to use up)
1 cup fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles OR salsa (I used fresh tomatoes and mixed with some salsa)
1 Tbsp cumin
15 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
10 oz frozen corn kernels
4 oz can mild green chili peppers, chopped (if you use salsa and not diced tomatoes with chiles)
2 Tbsp chili powder
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (I used about 1/2 a cup – Daiya is strong sometimes and didn’t want it to overpower the dish)
Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat your favorite casserole dish with olive oil or non-stick spray. In a mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa and tomatoes, set aside.

In a separate bowl mash the black beans with a fork. Combine beans, corn, chili powder & cumin in the same bowl and set aside.

mashing black beans

combining veggies and spices

Spoon 1 cup of the quinoa mixture on the bottom of the baking pan. Layer spinach on top of the quinoa. Scoop bean mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of Daiya cheddar shreds. Add the remaining quinoa and top with the remaining cheese.

layer of quinoa, tomatoes and spinach

layer of bean mixture added and Daiya

Bake for about 30 minutes until the Daiya has melted. Serve and enjoy!

finished Mexican quinoa bake

Nacho Dip

I’m a bit behind on posting what I’ve been cooking. I made this vegan Hearty Nachos recipe I got off the Forks Over Knives website for the Superbowl. My favorite thing of all time to eat is nachos, so when I became vegan I’ve since been looking for something satisfying like this. This will become a regular appetizer of mine for sure!

From the website this recipe was on: These nachos are a meal in and of themselves. You can also use the versatile cheese sauce on potatoes, raw or cooked vegetables, and cooked whole grains and legumes.

Cheese Sauce:
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and then rinsed
1 TB. tahini
1 roasted red pepper (rinsed from jar or prepared from fresh) – with these I think less is more, add a little at first, taste and look at the color, then add more if you need
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 TB. tamari (or Bragg’s liquid aminos or low-sodium soy sauce)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water

Bean Dip:
1 (16-oz.) can oil-free refried beans (plain pinto beans will work, too)
1 cup prepared salsa
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

Garnishes (optional):
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped (parsley or lettuce can substitute)
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
Baked unsalted tortilla chips

 

  • In a blender, combine cashews, tahini, roasted red pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, tamari, cayenne pepper, and water. Blend on high until smooth and set aside.

blender with cashews, tahini, roasted red pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, tamari, cayenne pepper, and water

cashew nacho cheese sauce

 

  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place beans, salsa, and chili powder. Continue to stir while the mixture heats and combines. Once the beans are smooth, turn off heat.

combining refried beans and salsa

  • Spread bean dip evenly onto the bottom of a medium-sized serving bowl or baking dish. Smooth surface and sprinkle cilantro over beans. Pour some or all of the Cheese Sauce on top of the cilantro. You can serve the extra Cheese Sauce on the side for the rest of the meal or for dipping. Or you can halve the recipe.

pouring cheese sauce on top of beans

YUM! This was great and very filling!

finished nacho dip

There is really nothing bad in here. Could it be…healthy nachos?? My belly thanks the creator of this recipe 🙂

Lentil Cashew Burgers

A good veggie burger is so satisfying. I love veggie burgers, especially ones with mushrooms and nuts in them! Even if you aren’t a mushroom fan, you will like these. The flavor is even better the next day. I tried this recipe from The Vegetarian Collection cookbook.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews

2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil

4 cups sliced white or cremini mushrooms

1 onion, chopped

1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced (I am a garlic lover, so I used 2)

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

1 can (19 oz) lentils, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp curry paste (I couldn’t find this, so I bought a jar of vegetable curry sauce instead and also used about 1/4 tsp of curry powder) *update – be careful with the kind of curry paste you use. I tried again when I found red curry paste, used 1 Tbsp and they were SPICY!!

1/4 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs (or try using more if you don’t want the burgers to be so moist)

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (I used about 1 tsp dried)

Topping Options:

Lettuce, bun, Veganaise, hummus, Daiya cheese, red onion, ketchup, mustard…whatever you like!

lentil burger ingredients

In a dry skillet, toast cashews over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to food processor.

In same skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat; saute mushrooms, chopped onion, garlic, salt and pepper until no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Add to food processor.

mushrooms and onions cooking

rinsing lentils

Add lentils and curry paste/curry powder to food processor; pulse to combine.

lentil burger mixture in food processor

Transfer to bowl, then mix in bread crumbs and coriander. Shape mixture into 1/2 inch or so thick patties. This made 7 burgers for me.

raw lentil burgers

In a large nonstick skillet or grill pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat; fry patties until crusty, turning once, about 16 minutes or so. These are quite soft so be patient. I think if you added some more breadcrumbs and cashews, it would make them firmer. But it doesn’t matter, they taste great!

grilled lentil burgers

Assemble your burger and enjoy! I’m going to make a huge batch next time and freeze them.

The Best Creamy Mac and Cheese – Ultimate Comfort Food

Everyone loves a big bowl of creamy noodles, don’t they? I can’t think of a better comfort food. Since becoming vegan I never thought I’d have something like this again. But then I encountered this recipe, thanks to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and her book called The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. This recipe makes me do a happy dance!

Creamy Mac and Cheese

1 ¼ cups raw cashews
½ cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 ½ cups nondairy milk (I used unsweetened Almond milk)
3 tablespoons of a thickener such as cornstarch (this is what I used) or kudzu root
½ cup canola oil (I used 1/4 coconut oil, 1/4 canola)
¼ cup light (yellow or white) miso paste – get this in the Asian section of your grocery store, it’s a soybean paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 1 lemon)
12-16 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked (I used brown rice macaroni)

Instructions:

Add the cashews to the large bowl of the food processor, and using the pulse button, finely grind the cashews. Don’t allow the cashews to turn into a paste. Add the nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in the spices.

mac and cheese dry ingredients in food processor
Combine the milk, corn starch, and oil in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease the heat to low-medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the cornstarch is dissolved.

With the food processor running, gradually add the milk-oil mixture to the cashew/nutritional yeast mixture. Blend for 2 minutes or until very smooth and creamy. Next, blend in the miso and lemon juice.

mac and cheese sauce in food processor

Combine the cheese with cooked macaroni and serve. If you have leftover sauce you can pour it over broccoli or cauliflower (or whatever else you want to sauce up!).

prepared vegan mac and cheese

delicious vegan mac and cheese

*Drool*

Any vegan or otherwise must try this! It delicious, and of course, way healthier than any chemical filled processed box of KD crap you buy at the store.

Thai Fried Quinoa

I love all the recipes I’ve tried from Peas and Thank You. Her recipes are usually the quick and easy kind. I’ve made this one before and it is something I will make again and again. I also think you can basically throw in whatever veggies you have and it will still turn out great! So follow along kids – here is how I made Thai Fried Quinoa today. And if you’ve never tried Quinoa, it’s about time you do!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 c. dry quinoa
  • 1 c. coconut milk (I use light)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/3 c. chopped green onions
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 c. frozen peas (I used shelled edamame beans)
  • 1 c. pineapple
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped (I used just a little dried cilantro – not a huge cilantro fan)
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 2 T. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. scrambled tofu (optional—see recipe in our book) – didn’t use
  • Optional garnishes: lime wedges, peanuts, cilantro, cherry tomatoes

food preparation

Instructions

  • Place a saucepan over medium-high heat and add quinoa, stirring every minute or so until quinoa is toasted.

quinoa

  • Combine coconut milk and vegetable broth and add to quinoa.

quinoa cooking

  • Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with cooking spray or a light spritz of oil and place over medium-high heat. Add green onion, ginger and garlic and sauté for a minute or two.
  • Add edamame beans, pineapple and cilantro and sauté for an additional minute.
  • Add quinoa to the skillet and cook until starting to slightly brown and crisp.

Thai fried quinoa

  • Finish with lime juice and soy sauce.

finished Thai fried quinoa