Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's Not That Hard - Meal Log

If you are thinking about going vegan or vegetarian, you may be wondering if it is as easy as people say. The answer is yes. Being vegan is actually quite easy, and you can do it without needing to buy very many "specialty" or "novelty" food items. However, many pre-made vegan food items can be found in the "all natural" section of your local supermarket (two thumbs up to Shaws' Wild Harvest section!) Many co-operative markets also have vegan foods. These stores often have soy ice creams, soy 'mayonnaise', vegan burgers, Luna/Clif Bars, Odwalla products, vegan baking mixes, products for people with allergies (often vegan), and Ener-G egg replacer.

Vegans can eat a lot of foods you may already eat now. This includes pasta, fresh vegetables, stir-fries, rice, beans, crackers, berries, almost all baked goods (with egg replacers), curries, soups, stews, Indian/Thai/Ethnic dishes, and many other foods. Many foods can be easily made vegan with soy/rice milk and egg replacers.

There are also vegan equivalents to meat items, like Boca Nuggets, Veggie Burgers, Faux deli slices, Tofutti (soy ice creams, cream cheese, sour cream, pizza, etc). There are many more.

Being vegan doesn't require any extra time (besides asking where the natural section of your grocery is), and cooking healthy vegan meals is so easy, a 15year old like me can do it!

Want proof? Here's a sample menu for what I ate today (I made all of this by myself)

Breakfast / Time - 15 mins
Bisquick pancakes (w/ soymilk and Ener-G egg replacer)
Fresh strawberries and lingonberry jam, maple syrup
Grapefruit juice and chocolate soymilk

Lunch / Time - 10 mins
Portobella burger with ketchup, mustard, and Nayonaise (vegan mayo)
Onion, tomato, pickles, multi grain bread
Small romaine salad with croutons and garlic Italian dressing

Dinner / Time - ? mins

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Orange Chocolate Swirl Cake

I made this on Sunday night, it was gone by Tuesday morning. I made this recipe myself, using a basic guide to un-vegan cake batter (so some ingredients don't have exact amounts, instead I've listed the maximum I could have used)

The orange part of the cake actually tastes orange-y, and it blends very nicely with the chocolate swirls.
You can make your own homemade orange and chocolate frosting, but I used a premade one and added the flavoring.

Ingredients (Measured):
1 1/2 cups margarine (and some extra for the pan)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 TBS baking soda
3 or 4 oz plain apple sauce (1 package)
2 eggs worth of Ener-G egg replacer or other powder replacer (mixed w/ water)
1/2 tsp salt

Plain soymilk (not more than 1 cup)
Orange juice concentrate (not more than 1/2 cup)
Cocoa Powder (not more than 1/2 cup)
Premade frosting (I used Better Crocker "Cream Cheese" variety, though it was 100% vegan!)

Other things:
Bundt pan
Electric Mixer
At least 2 or 3 large mixing bowls (I put this here because we are in the process of moving and I had a lot of trouble finding enough bowls)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Rub margarine on the bottom of a bundt pan.
2. Beat (with an electric mixer) the margarine, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla, and Ener-G together in a bowl until fluffy.
3. In a separate [large] bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add the margarine mixture to the flour and stir in. Then add soymilk until you get a thick, but still flowing batter consistency.
5. Take 1/3 of the batter and put into a separate bowl (you could re-use the margarine mixture bowl.) Add a lot of cocoa powder to this batter and beat with a mixer. If if becomes too thick, add a little more soymilk. It should be very chocolate-y.
6. In the other 2/3 of plain batter, add orange juice concentrate. Be careful, it is very strong in flavor. Beat in using the mixer. The batter should taste very orange-y. (This is why you needed to have the original batter thick, so the liquid won't make this batter too runny).
7. Pour the orange batter into the greased pan. Then pour the chocolate batter on top of the orange batter. Using a butter knife, cut through [the batter] to the bottom of the pan and swirl the knife around. Do this in at least 3 or 4 places in the pan. This will create the swirl/marble affect.
8. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, but do a fork test every 5 minutes starting at 40 minutes. (The basic [nonvegan] recipe I modelled this from said 50 to 60, mine was done in 46). Remove and let cool.

Frosting - You can either do this during the baking or while it is cooling. These instructions are for using premade frosting.
1. Put 1/2 the frosting in one cup, and the other 1/2 in another cup.
2. In one cup, add some orange juice concentrate and stir completely. It should taste very orange-y, but don't add to much or else it will burn your mouth (b/c it is concentrated.) Keep taste testing while you add the liquid.
3. In the other cup, add and mix in massive amounts of cocoa powder until the frosting is very chocolate-y. You may need to add a few drops of soymilk, but it still needs to be thick.

When the cake has cooled, cover it with the chocolate frosting, and then put the orange frosting on top (the chocolate is thicker and will stick better to the cake.) Put it in the fridge for a few minutes to let the frostings harden, and voila! While the process may seem lengthy, it really isn't. ENJOY

Quickie Meals

Sometimes you don't always have enough time to prepare a homemade meal. And sometimes you're just really hungry. Cooking can take a long time, even if you have a toaster oven. And who wants to spend all their time every night cooking? (Though dont get me wrong, cooking wholesome meals is a very good thing to do!)

My mother doesn't allow a microwave in the house because they change the chemical structure of food. Seeds will not germinate if they are only given microwaved water. Also, microwaves destroy vitamin B12, an essential vitamin that is rarely found in plant sources (most soymilks, cereals, and countless other items are fortified with it.) So if your only source of B12 comes from your cereal, don't microwave it because you may develop a deficiency (you only need 3micrograms a day, and it takes up to 3 years before you can develop a severe deficiency.)

Here are some healthy, natural, and homemade meals you can make in about 10 minutes or less, OR they only take 10 mins or less of preparation time.
  • Pasta with marinara - Heat the water from the tap first before putting it in the pan (only do this if your plumbing is fairly new, don't do this with lead pipes!) Using hot water saves about 5 or 10 minutes. Also, use quick cooking pasta like cappellini and angel hair.
  • Portobello burgers (wash mushroom, saute mushroom, eat mushroom)
  • Vegan quesadillas (avocado instead of cheese)
  • Salad with sliced bell pepper and cucumber with a good dressing (and crutons if you wish)
  • Scallion Mashed Potatoes - while the taters take more time to cook, you can do something else while you wait, it only takes 3 minutes at the end to put mash them.
  • Stir-fry - Use frozen assorted vegetables

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

School's Out!

Today was the last day of school for me. This means I'll have more time to write here since this year was so busy. I'm really happy with my grades. I think I got 97's in every class, which means I'll have a cumulative 4.00 GPA. Vegans are smart lol.

I will be busy for the first part of the summer, I am moving to Connecticut from Vermont. I'm not really happy about this but I'm trying to make the best of it.

So today I went out to lunch with a good friend, Ethan. We went to the Depot in Randolph. They have the most amazing paninis there, though they're 6.75 each (but they are big). The best one is the portobello on foccacia w/o the provolone. Yummy. Then we bought a cap gun and spent 2 hours (both of us are at the top of our class) trying to figure it out (I finally did.) That was my day.

If any of you guys live in and around Enfield, give me a shout cuz I will be moving to close-by suburb.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Vegan Fat Sources

One problem that some vegans may experience is a deficiency in fat. Fat is an essential nutrient, though most non-vegans get too much of it. Transatured and Saturated fats are the worst, polysaturated and monosaturated are good fats, found in plant oils.

If a fat is partially hydrogenated, it means that Hydrogen atoms have been added to the chemical bonds in the fat to make it firmer (and easier to preserve.) This hard fat can stick to artery walls, which makes the heart have to work harder to pump blood.

While many omnivores can easily become overweight because of a high-fat diet, some vegans don't eat enough fat (the most calorie dense nutrient), and therefore are slightly underweight or underfat. Fat is needed for warmth, to protect bodily organs and to absorb certain vitamins.

To help gain weight, a good idea is to see how much fat is your diet. If you usually become full on healthy or low-fat food (and then skip dessert), you might not be getting enough fat, and therefore calories. Up to 30% of your calories can come from fat, depending on your activity level and your current weight. If you are overweight, it shouldn't be more than 10 or 20 percent. Eating more fat can help make you gain weight, and it also can help add body fat if you don't have enough.

If you need to eat more fat, you should be eating healthy fats, like plant oils, NOT eating tons of junk foods that contain saturated fats or partially hydrogenated oils. Here are some good foods/ideas to get you started:
  • Salad dressings made with olive oil
  • Avocados (slice one up and put in a tortilla and top with salsa, yummy! Or, guacamole. This veggie, though technically fruit, is high in healthy fat)
  • Peanuts and other nuts
  • Cook things like veggie burgers in oil on a skillet instead of baking or microwaving them
  • Odwalla Berry GoMega bars. Very yummy, they have 1000mg of vegetarian Omega 3 fatty acids from flax seeds (you can't taste them!)
  • Make faux-deli slice sandwiches with EarthBalance/SoyGarden and mustard, this is very common in Europe (though they would normally use dairy butter)
  • Put olive oil on your pasta before adding the sauce.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any tips to increase fat intake!

* The information provided here and these tips should not be taken as sound medical advice, as the author is only an educated individual, not a registered dietician or a doctor. Only a doctor can diagnose or prescribe treatment for medical conditions.

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