Thursday, June 19, 2008


Boy am I being a slacker. Another interjection:

Lately, I've been overloading on Omega-3's, because I don't think I was getting enough before. It's difficult to get as a vegan, so many soy products are fortified. Take those out of your diet and you're not left with many options. My suggestions include flax oil, milled flax seed, walnuts, and nutrition bars. I sneak milled flax seed into my cereal, sanwiches, even entrees. The taste is barely there, its low-fat and inexpensive. With 3-4 tablespoons of milled flax seed everyday, I am ingesting more than the recommended amount of around 1.5g (wikipedia). I think this is a good idea for the following reasons:

Omega-3's play a significant role in brain function because they are a major component of the brain--8 percent!--mostly in myelin sheaths. Recent research suggests that an increased intake of Omega-3's can help with depression, anxiety, and other mental issues like autism. (wikipedia)

Omega-3's are potentially beneficial for so many other conditions as well--circulation, cholesterol, etc.

I can tell the difference already in the condition of my hair and skin. My hair started behaving so much better--silky soft and not frizzy--just over a week after I started supplementation. Also, I have less dry skin, though this could be the weather. Still, I am encouraged by the obvious physical benefits.

Getting Omega-3's from plant sources is much safer than from animal products, for reasons all good vegans should be familiar with (growth hormones, mercury...). I would recommend adding a little flax seed to your diet, even if you aren't veg. Only the milled stuff though, as the whole seeds will not digest.
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Potato Latkes

I interrupt the series on snack bars to bring you a recipe I made last night. I adapted this from several sources and added a few things of my own. This can be a very low fat recipe; if you don't use oil to fry, they still taste great! An elaborated version of a traditional Jewish dish:

5 lbs russet potatoes
1 large onion
3-4 carrots
1 bunch scallions
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup matzo meal
1 t corn starch
1/2 t white pepper
3/4 t sage
salt to taste
oil, if desired

Put a large pot of water on the stove and set the heat to high to get it boiling before you're through with preparation. Peel potatoes. Shred the potatoes, onion, and carrots (I recommend a food processor for this). Have a strainer handy and dump all that you've just shredded into the now boiling water. If you'd like, add some salt to the water as this can help make things less starchy. Keep close watch over the veggies--test them frequently! Once they are almost cooked (very slightly chewy, around 3-5 minutes), remove them with a strainer and rinse them thoroughly under cold water to halt the cooking. This process of pre-cooking veggies is referred to as blanching.

Dry out the veggies you just blanched. I tried pressing some of the water out like other recipes suggested, but found this wasn't very effective. So, I just let my potato, onion, carrot mixture sit for an hour or so with occasional stirring.

Add the other ingredients (chop scallions first) and mix thoroughly. Measure out each pancake in a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fry in a pan over med-high heat. Use a spatula to flatten the pancakes. You may choose to use oil for frying, but they don't need it, so just watch them carefully. Cook on both sides until crispy brown.

Traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream. Tofutti sour cream is great for soy-happy vegans, but I used ketchup instead. Really, these have enough flavor on their own that they don't need condiments. I hope you enjoy!
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dr. Weil Bars by Nature's Path

Nature's Path

Taste: ***
Price: *

EXPENSIVE. But, damn tasty. I've been trying a lot of date bars for these blog posts and didn't expect anything new from Dr. Weil. However, the flavor of the Pistachi-Oh! bar was very different and delicious. Nutritional content varies somewhat from flavor to flavor, but for the most part the vitamins and minerals included are limited by simplicity of ingredients. I wish they didn't cost so much!
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

LUNA Tea Cakes

Taste: *
Price: ***
Nutrition: ***

Cliff bar does make a soy-free product, apparently. I tried the orange blossom flavor and wasn't pleased by the taste, but I asked a friend to try and they liked it a lot so maybe I'm just being picky. Some protein and lots of vitamins. Also, infused with tea and well priced. Not a bad option if the flavor suits you.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Snack Bars

Formerly, Cliff Bars were a staple of my life. But, like most vegan snack/meal bars, they are loaded with soy. This has been one of my biggest frustrations--I've read so many freakin labels, covered aisles worth of different bars, and haven't really found one yet that can hold up to the soy-based bars in terms of nutrition, taste, and economy. The quest has begun.

Here, I start a list of my findings. I will rate each bar according to taste, price, and nutrition by a three star system, one being the worst and three being the best.


Taste: ***
Price: **
Nutrition: **

They are tasty and attractively simplistic. All bars are date based and have some kind of nut in them (cashew, walnut). The ingredient lists are so short! No added sugar besides the fruit and creative flavors (cashew cookie, lemon bar...) keep things interesting. That said, dates are not everyone's thing, and these bars are too sugary for me sometimes. Also, nuts are fatty so if you're watching your waistline, the LARABAR probably isn't for you. Falls short in nutritional extras like vitamins--the trade-off for simple ingredients. Overall, one of my favorites.

EDIT: Walnuts are a great source of Omega 3's and many LARABAR flavors contain walnuts. I was wrong to generalize that the bars are low in Omega 3's!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Margarine/Butter Substitute

"Ghee" is clarified butter that is often used in Indian cuisine. Apparently they make a vegan version too! I found ghee at my local Indian grocer. They had a couple of varieties, one of which was hydrogenated and the other was mostly palm oil. Either way, not healthy. But it works better than regular oil as a butter substitute and doesn't contain any soy. Several brands are available, so if you can't find any at a store near you just do a google search.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Vegan Kheer--Indian Rice Pudding

Made a delicious indian food feast with my friends this past weekend, my main contribution being, of course, dessert! I decided to vegan-ize kheer, a soupy rice pudding usually made with cream. Here's what I came up with:

8 cups almond milk
0.5 cup rice
0.5 cup sugar
0.25 to 0.5 t cardamom powder
sprinkle of nutmeg
chopped almonds and pistachios to taste, a few tablespoons is good
a pinch of saffron

Wash rice. Boil the milk in a saucepan and add the rice about 5 minutes after it starts boiling. Keep boiling off the liquid fairly rapidly with stirring until its around half the original volume, then add the sugar and spice. Cook for another 8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and garnish with nuts and maybe some extra saffron.

Rice milk might work for this too.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vegan Rice Cheese!!

Ordering it soon for sure! The soy vegan cheese by this company is gross so I'm skeptical, but I'll post a review as soon as I try it. Has anyone sampled it yet?
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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Chickpea Miso Soy Sauce Susbstitute

Finally, I found a good substitute for soy sauce. South River Miso offers a few soy-free miso products that resemble the taste of soy sauce. I just got the chickpea barley miso and its pretty tasty, surprisingly close to its soy based cousin. Turn it into a sauce with a bit of water, or just smear it on vegetables, sushi, etc. Definitely expensive (I paid $11 for my jar!) but I figure it will last awhile since the flavor is potent.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vegan Coconut Banana Berry Buckwheat Muffins

Bomb buckwheat muffins! Buckwheat is a very healthy grain. I cut down on the fat in this recipe by using light coconut milk and replacing some of the oil with applesauce. Also, I tend to add a shake of clove and nutmeg to recipes that call for cinnamon. I think it rounds out the taste, try it!

0.5 cups ground oats (I ground it mortar and pestle style with a whisk, not efficient but it works)
1 cup all purpose flour
0.75 cup buckwheat flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1.5 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
3 mashed ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
0.5 cup canola oil
0.5 cup applesauce
0.25 cup coconut milk
0.75 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs (I use Ener-G)
1 cup-ish of your favorite berries, I used a frozen mix

Mix the wet ingredients plus sugar, then mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine until just mixed, then add the berries. Fill a greased muffin tin with the batter, leaving about 1 cm at the top. These don't poof up much. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or so. Check them regularly, they're done when the sides start looking nice and brown and the top of each muffin is firm to the touch.

Unique and awesome muffins!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Soft Peanut Butter Banana Cookies!

I adapted a more traditional peanut butter cookie recipe, and they came out all fluffy, soft and delicious! However, the dough was a lot stickier so that made it difficult to make those cute fork lines in the cookies. Try adding more flour if you have problems with this.

2 cups flour
0.5 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
0.5 cups maple syrup
0.25 cups brown sugar
1 mashed ripe banana
3/4 cup peanut butter (Maranatha is the BEST)
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon

Mix wet and dry ingredients in separate containers. Combine and mix until just blended. Don't over mix as this affects the proteins in the flour (maybe I'm a biochemist, what of it?? hehe) and can make the cookies overly chewy. Make balls of dough approx. 1 inch diameter and place on a lightly greased or non-stick cookie sheet. Silicon sheets work great! Make little fork marks in them and add toppings, if you'd like. Bake at 350F until lightly browned on the edges. I don't like to list bake times because ovens are so varied, but check them after 7 minutes or so.

Try these tasty adornments:
  • add chocolate chips, the texture of these cookies is perfect for them!
  • or drizzle chocolate on top after the cookies have cooled
  • roll the balls of dough in sugar
  • put some shredded coconut on top
These went fast, especially the coconut ones!!! Enjoy.
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Monday, January 14, 2008

Macaroni and chReese

...also known as Mac & Chreese, is a staple of my diet. Its a soy free, vegan macaroni and cheese alternative that's actually pretty tasty, if you make it right. It's nutritional yeast and flour based, so Mac & Chreese is fairly healthy as well. Its sold in typical macaroni and cheese package format, but to save money I buy the chreese product in bulk. I always make it with whole wheat pasta, or this high protein 7-grain pasta.

To prepare, I generally follow the instructions. I'd advise adding a swig of good olive oil and extra milk product to make it creamier, a more realistic macaroni and cheese texture. I prefer almond milk, but rice milk works as well. Be aware that these milk products are very sweet, and this will affect the taste of the mac & chreese. Add salt, garlic, and/or more chreese powder to compensate if it gets too sweet. Try both the mozzarella and the cheddar!
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Spreadable Oil

I read somewhere that olive oil will solidify if you leave it in the fridge for a bit. So, I put a bit of first cold pressed oil into the refrigerator, and voila out came spreadable olive oil. Its not quite the same as margarine, but with a little bit of salt it could be adequate.

Make sure the oil you use says "first cold pressed" on the bottle. The oil is darker and greener than the cheaper stuff commonly used in cooking. First pressed oil comes from the initial pressing of the olives so has a great deal more flavor. This won't make any difference as far as solidifying is concerned, but the taste is so much better!
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Saturday, January 12, 2008


mmmmmm pancakes.

1.5 cups all-purpose flour, I like white whole wheat flour best
3.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unrefined white sugar
1.25 cups milk product (I prefer almond)
1 mashed ripe banana
2 tablespoons canola oil
pinch of cinnamon

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. You may want to add more milk to thin out the batter. Heat the griddle on medium to medium-high, oil it up, and add pancake batter. About 0.25 cups batter per pancake works well. Makes moderate servings for 3-4 people.
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Meat substitutes

A couple of high-protein, soy free vegan meat options.

Amy's breakfast patties taste a lot like smart bacon to me. They get a little gross and chewy around the edges if they're overcooked at all, but otherwise Amy's kitchen delivers. Check out the California burger on the same page, also soy free though I've never tried them.

Sunshine burgers are sunflower-seed based and have a very unique flavor. They're fatty, but the flavor is fairly light and appetizing. Doesn't taste quite like any other burger I've tried.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

No Soy Sauce

Its sushi-making time!!!! My favorite soviet vegan and I are making sushi tomorrow, so I've been trying to make a soy sauce substitute. Here's my first attempt:

0.5 cup balsamic vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic
1 cup molasses
1.5 t salt
garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, coriander to taste

Very roughly chop the garlic cloves and add them to the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let sit overnight so the garlic flavor infuses. Add molasses, salt, and spices according to taste. 1 t or so of onion and garlic powders, and just a pinch of turmeric and coriander. Mix well and enjoy!
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Chocolate Avocado Pie

Rich, loaded with healthy fats, and soy-free, this pie is easy and uniquely delicious!

pre-made graham cracker crust, chocolate or regular

or try

1 small package of graham crackers (10 cracker sheets), try Hain chocolate grahams or these
2 Tablespoons of oil (light flavor, like canola. Avoid vegetable, its mostly soy oil!)

Crush graham cracker with rolling pin, mix with oil and press into pie pan. Bake at 375F for around 8 minutes.

2-3 ripe avocados
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8-12oz vegan chocolate (watch out for soy lecithin!) , try the products here or here
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Blend avocado until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Melt chocolate in a double broiler or over very low heat. Add between 8 and 12 oz of chocolate and 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, to taste. Blend well with avocado and pour into crust. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
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Monday, January 7, 2008


One of my favorite foods lately is quinoa. It's a grain, but unlike most grains it contains all of the essential amino acids. In other words, its a great source of protein! Quinoa is also a significant source of potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium. Plus, its suitable for both soy and gluten-free diets. It's found in cold and hot cereals, as a raw grain, and in some more unusual products. Here are some that I have tried:

quinoa smoothie I tried the pina coloda, pretty tasty

Quinoa Corp. They offer many quinoa products. I recommend the Quinoa Flakes as hot cereal with a bit of rice milk, cinnamon and brown sugar.

Plain quinoa can be a protein-rich substitute for rice. I've had it in soup and its quite delicious.
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Friday, January 4, 2008

Hidden Soy

I've come across many websites with listings of soy derivatives, here's a summary of hidden ingredients you may find in vegan foods.

Guar Gum
Gum Arabic
Hydrolized (Vegetable) Protein
Mono and Diglycerides
Natural Flavors
TVP (textured vegetable protein)
Vegetable Oil
Vegetable Broth
Vegetable Gum
Vegetable starch
Vitamin E

Most people with soy allergies can tolerate many of these ingredients. Soy oil, for example, has a negligible concentration of allergens and only the most sensitive individuals will react. Vitamin E and MSG are also distant derivatives and won't give most people any issues.
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