Monday, April 25, 2011

Carrot Cake with drunk raisins and vanilla frosting

In this recipe I used dark rum-soaked raisins, but if you don't want to use alcohol, soak the raisins in hot water instead. Feel free to use different baking pan, but adjust the baking time. If you prefer cream cheese frosting, use your favorite vegan cream cheese frosting instead of my vanilla frosting.

Carrot Cake with drunk raisins

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
rum or hot water for soaking raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.
Soak the raisins in warm rum or hot water for at least 5-10 minutes, drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In a smaller bowl, combine applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Pour the oil mixture into the flour mixture and stir until well blended. Add walnuts, carrots a raisins and stir well.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
8 Tbs vegan margarine, melted
5 Tbs vegan shortening, melted
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs (or more if needed) soy or almond milk

In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the shortening and margarine. Beat with an electric mixer or fork for few minutes, until well blended. Add the vanilla extract and non-dairy milk and beat until nice and fluffy, adding more milk if necessary. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before frosting the cake.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vegan Breakfast and Lunch-What vegans eat & Carol J. Adams

I was recently filling out a survey about what I eat on a typical day, plus my favorite foods, cookbooks, books and restaurants. The survey was for a new book that one of my favorite vegan authors, Carol J. Adams, and a co-author Patti Breitman are working on. They are still looking for more vegans who are willing to tell others what they eat on a typical day and some of their favorite foods for a new book to help others discover the ease, joy, variety, and abundance of a vegan diet. If you are interested, please respond to Carol at cja[at] You can also download the survey on Carol's website The due date is April 29 2011.

The survey made me think about what I eat daily. I usually eat different dinner every night so there is a nice variety, however my breakfast and lunch are almost always the same. I work long hours and my job does not allow me to eat out and I don't like wasting my money on food deliveries, not to mention, sometimes it takes forever to get your food delivered. I don't have real lunch breaks, since my job does not allow me to take a regular break so I eat little bites whenever I get a minute throughout the day. I don't use the microwave at work because my coworkers' meaty dishes explode there all the time, so I haven't had a warm lunch at work for at least six years now. If I bring some leftovers from the previous night, I have to eat them at a room temperature or cold. I got used to it, even though I envy people who have a an hour lunch break and can eat anywhere they like, including a park when the weather is nice.

On a typical work day, my breakfast is almost always a soy yogurt, berries and granola or cereal parfait. I usually use frozen berries that defrost by the time I get to work. They seem to be cheaper and always ready to use, and I don't have to worry that they would go bad unlike fresh berries. For lunch I usually have a sandwich made with Tofurky Deli Slices, or jam and vegan butter. I have a late afternoon snack that is either a granola bar, or a candy bar. My favorite candy bars are Twilight and Jokerz from Go Max Go .

What do you eat at work on a typical day?

A nice addition to my "boring" lunch- a leftover vegan crab cake :-)

When I am not at work, I usually have the same breakfast and lunch like on a work day, or leftovers from previous dinner. Sometimes I feel like cooking lunch so I make something nice, or I eat out. I rarely eat out, but when I do I enjoy it a lot.

My lunch: Recently, I discovered my favorite pizza ever: Tuscan pizza with garlic, sauce, mushrooms, caramelized onions, truffle oil, vegan cheese and fresh thyme from Zpizza . The original Tuscan pizza is made with regular cheese, but I ask for a vegan cheese instead. They use Daiya cheese that stretches and melts perfectly. Unfortunately the closest Zpizza is about an hour away from where I live :-( Too far to get a delivery or to go there often. If I could have that for lunch everyday, I would :-)

My lunch: Orzo pasta salad with peas, caramelized onions, asparagus and walnuts on a bed of raw spinach. The recipe was from an old issue of Vegetarian Times Magazine.

My lunch: Fried rice and baked tofu.

My lunch: Falafel sandwich with dill sauce, leftovers from previous dinner. It actually tastes pretty good cold the next day.

Those were just few of my lunch examples. What do you eat for lunch when you are not working or studying?

Carol J. Adams is a kind-hearted, smart, and talented woman. She is a vegan writer, feminist, animal rights advocate, activist and an author of many books and articles.
Some of her books include: The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook, The Pornography of Meat, The Inner Art of Vegetarianism, Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat: The A-Z Guide to Surviving a Conflict in Diets, and many more.

I have read two of her books: The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, and Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian's Survival Handbook. Both of these book were very helpful on my vegan journey and I highly recommend them to vegans, vegetarians, anyone who cares about animals and women, and people who are thinking about becoming vegetarians or vegans.
Me and my sister contributed a picture to the newest edition of The Sexual Politics of Meat (Twentieth Anniversary Edition). I had the honor to meet Carol in person at her book signing in Atlanta last year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Product spotlight: Gardein

Gardein is a company that makes wonderful, high-protein, plant-based convenient foods. I have been enjoying Gardein products since 2009. Their name is a combination of two words: Garden and Protein- protein from garden. They make several meat alternatives in fresh (refrigerated) and frozen forms. Over the years I have had a chance to try most of them. Most companies that make fake meat products for vegans and vegetarians use soy or wheat, or the combination of both as the main ingredients. Gardein is very unique when it comes to main ingredients, on top of soy and wheat they use pea protein, vegetables and ancient grains, such as quinoa, kamut, millet and amaranth. Quinoa is amazing, it contains all essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein. I like the combination of different proteins in Gardein products. Their products have meaty texture and flavor. I like that many of them are very versatile and can be used in many recipes that would call for chicken or beef. I have used the "Beefless Tips" in most of my stew and goulash recipes with a great success. Here is a link to my goulash recipe.
Gardein works closely with a vegan celebrity chef Tal Ronnen who is helping them with developing different textures, flavors and variations. He also creates tasty recipes that you can find on Gardein's website.
Gardein products are tasty, very easy to prepare, they are versatile in recipes and most of them are prepared quickly, too.
Here are some of my meals using Gardein products over the years. I haven't had any that I didn't like. I do have my favorite though: Beefless Tips, BBQ Skewers and Buffalo Wings.
Have you tried Gardein products yet?

*Breaded Chick'n stuffed with marinara sauce and vegan cheese, grilled asparagus and salad

*Czech goulash made with juicy, beefy Beefless Tips, and bread dumplings

*Thanksgiving breaded stuffed Turk'y with gravy. The savory stuffing was made with celery, onions and cranberries and it was soooo good. It was very festive and I served it with baked sweet potato that I smothered in the gravy (which was included with the Turk'y). The only downside was that there was not enough gravy for two people, even though there were two pieces of Turk'y.

*Chick'n Filets with black pepper sauce, asian veggies and rice

*Grilled Chick'n Filets and french fries

*BBQ Skewers and baked potato wedges

*BBQ Pulled Shreds sandwich. I used the BBQ Pulled Shreds in other sandwiches and on top of baked beans and it was pretty good.

*Tuscan Breasts, mushroom couscous and lingonberry jam

*Buffalo Wings and salad

*BBQ Skewers and french fries again :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vegan Mac & Cheese

I love pasta, any shape and style, and even more I love cheesy pasta, which some people would call Mac & Cheese. If you are a vegan like me, you have few options to enjoy vegan Mac & Cheese. You can buy a frozen Mac & Cheese from Amy's kitchen, you can make your own with either nutritional yeast or fake cheese, or you can make semi-homemade cheesy pasta with Edward & Sons company's organic boxed Mac & Cheese mixes.
Edward & Sons pasta dinners are very convenient, easy to prepare and delicious alternatives to non-vegan Mac & Cheese. I always keep a box or two in my pantry for the nights when I don't feel like cooking anything complicated, or when I am craving cheesy pasta in the middle of the night and don't want to make my own nutritional yeast cheese sauce. The pasta is made from semolina, whole wheat or brown rice (in their gluten free options). They have several pasta styles, and either a cheddar style or alfredo style cheesy sauces. My favorite are the cute little shells with cheddar style cheesy sauce. I like adding peas on top for extra protein, fiber and nutrients.
Each box contains dry pasta and a "cheese" mix packet. I tried mixing the "cheese" mixture with soy and almond milk, both of these milks work very well in this cheesy sauce.
What is your favorite vegan Mac & Cheese? Do you make your own?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Hungry Vegan's Chili & Gimme Lean® Beef review

I have been working on this chili recipe for a long time. I experimented with different beans and additions and found out that simplicity was the key in this case. I added crumbled up Gimme Lean® Beef to the recipe for more authentic flavor and to make it more nutritious and filling. However, you can make it without, or add your favorite seitan, TVP or corn. I like to serve the chili with vegan sour cream and fresh cilantro if I have it. Enjoy!

The hungry vegan's chili

2 Tbs olive or canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup vegetable broth (I use Not-Beef bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water for "beefy" flavor)
1-2 Tbs chili powder
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Mash half of the beans in a bowl with a fork, set aside.
Heat 1 Tbs oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crumbled Gimme Lean® Beef and cook until browned 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking it into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir chili powder and optional cayenne pepper into the onions, cook 1 minute stirring. Add broth and simmer 10 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, whole and mashed beans and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked "beef", stir and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with bread, vegan sour cream and fresh cilantro if desired.

Gimme Lean® Beef from Lightlife company is a wonderful, versatile ground beef alternative. This stuff is seriously amazing. It is fat free and it can be shaped into almost anything, from burgers, sausages to breakfast patties. It can be crumbled up into tacos, chilies, stews and many other dishes. It sticks together nicely so you don't need any binder, eggs or starches to keep it together and it will not fall apart on you when you make burgers or sausages. Because it is very sticky I like to wet my hands first before shaping it. I figured out a way to make crumbled "beef" out of it as well. It takes a bit of effort and time to do that but the results are worth it. Break little pieces off the large log and throw them into a skillet with some hot oil and break them into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon while cooking it.

I veganized one of my childhood favorite school lunches with a funny name "čevapčiči" (chevabchichi). It is basically a sausage shaped burger with special seasonings, that is fried and served with boiled potatoes and a side of mustard and raw onions. I tried to make it with TVP and tofu before, but it was never that good. When I made it with Gimme Lean® Beef it came out close to perfection. The taste and shape was very authentic and tasty.

I made taco salad with Gimme Lean® Beef. I sauteed some onions and garlic with crumbled up "beef". I seasoned that with salt, pepper and some chili powder and cooked that with a bit of water for about 10 minutes. I served that on a bed of iceberg lettuce, crushed up tortilla chips and salsa. Yummy!