Happy Halloween

Vegan Blog Halloween2013

 

I have such fun with Halloween, and it’s not just because I get to dress differently. This is me several years ago as Daphne from Scooby Doo. A group of friends and I were each a different character from the show and my dog was Scrappy. Just fun.

Begin vegan during Halloween is actually fairly easy. But, some planning does make the day easier.

For trick-or-treaters, I hand out mini Luna and Cliff bars, little toys in poppers (kids love these), and other Halloween themed pencils, erasers, etc. No one is the wiser and I feel much better about what I just put in the bag of a little, or not so little, kid. My approach is a bit more expensive, so I buy less than my neighbors and just turn out my light earlier. It’s the older kids that come by late anyway.

If I’m handing out treats at work or another environment where everyone knows me, I will make vegan rice crispy treats, brownies, or cookies. Everyone gobbles them down and, again, I feel better about my contribution.

Halloween is all about the fun, so don’t be afraid to make some vegan fun for yourself.

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Spinach Smoothie

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Mmm… Spinach! So yummy all the time, but I know the idea of spinach for breakfast can sound less exciting for some. Spinach smoothie to save the day! This one came out delicious and is packed with protein. What you will need:

1 cup soy milk

1/4 cup silken tofu

1 tsp chia seeds, these will make it extra creamy

1 banana

1/2 cup baby spinach

1/4 cup cherries, frozen works well

If wanting more sweet, add a medjool date after removing the pit.

Blend until everything is throughly smoothie ready. A traditional blender will want about two minutes to reach the right consistency. This recipe makes about 17 ounces of smoothie. If you let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes, the chia seeds will do their creamy magic and make the smoothie super creamy. Yummers!

The Dreaded Question

“So what do you eat?”

I am always perplexed by this question. It frequently rolls out of people’s mouths once they understand what vegan is. Here is how the conversation often goes for me:

New friend: “What does vegan mean?”

Me: “It means I don’t eat anything that was or came from an animal.”

New friend: “So what do you eat?”

Me: “Everything else.”

I also get a little sad from this question. Not because I am tired of the question, but because I suddenly think my new friend has a very limited diet and has not been exposed to the amazing world of foods that I know as commonplace. As the holidays get closer and closer, and the prospect of joining a group of non-vegans for a large meal is much more likely to materialize, I thought I would share how I think about such possibilities.

1. These meals can be difficult. That is okay. We have all decided to be vegan for different reasons and the other people at the meal probably have some restriction to their diet. They may not have thought about it as a restriction, but it is. For example, think of people who say they don’t like vegetables. This is a giant restriction. What about someone following a restricted diet for weight loss? Or maybe someone with diabetes is joining the meal. All these make for a difficult meal plan, some potentially difficult conversations as everyone figures out each others stuff, and difficult responses by various people in the room.

2. These meals can tiring. This is okay too. Anything different often gets lots of questions and sometimes weird looks. No one ever said something worth doing would be easy. I try to smile a lot and not be an expert. Each person there feels they are an expert. It’s not my job to tell them otherwise. It is only my job to be me.

3. Questions are never the same. In the past, I have tried to anticipate the questions people will ask about veganism so I can be ready. Sounds like a good idea, right? It does help to have useful information in my brain, but coming off as an expert makes others feel like they are being criticized. Oops. The last thing I want to do is turn anyone away from the love that comes from being vegan.

4. Remember the love. Focus on the love. Let that love for yourself, your community, animals, and the environment shine through all your actions and answers. Everyone comes to veganism from a different place, but we all see how amazing it is for us. Let that shine and others will want to know more.

5. Send them to my blog. And other blogs. Let them see all the information and amazing food available to decide for themselves. Even making small changes brings more love into ones life.

6. Smile a lot. Everyone loves a smile and they are infectious. Imagine this scenario: “I met this vegan the other day and s/he was so happy and positive. I want that! Maybe I should give this a try.”

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I spent years trying to find a decent vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe. Honestly, I find most of them to be terrible. I finally found one that was decent and then modified it to perfection. The dough is delicious and safe without eggs and if you can wait till baked, which will be difficult, the reward is worth the wait. What you will need:

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter flavored non-hydrogenated vegan shortening

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup soy milk

1 cup unbleached flour

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Using a fork, mash the shortening into the sugar until the sugar appears damp. Using a mixer, mix in the soy milk, vanilla, and almond extract. The mixture will look like you did something wrong because things will not mix together well. This is okay, just make sure you have mixed in a bunch of air and everything is well combined. Using a fine strainer, strain in the dry ingredients beginning with the flour. Use the mixer to combine everything well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and chill overnight. Unless you can’t help yourself and must eat as dough (which happens). By chilling the dough, the baked cookies will actually look like cookies instead of melted lumps.

The next day, preheat the oven to 375. Scoop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Leave one to two inches between cookies because they will grow when baking. Baking time depends on how big the cookies are. Start with about 12 minutes and check if the bottoms are already golden. If so, the cookies are done. If not, bake another three to five minutes. The cookies may look moist in the middle and that is okay, it means they will be soft once cooled. Yummy!

I have been know to make the dough and then bake just a few cookies each day for a treat.

Zucchini Bread

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Giant zucchini is everywhere right now and when they get this big, they are best for baking. Mmm… zucchini bread. This recipe makes two loves and stays moist for days. Oh, and it’s easy, as is always my goal. What you need:

2 cups grated zucchini

4 tsp baking powder

6 TBS water

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup oil, I used canola

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups white whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 TBS baking soda

1 TBS cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

Spray coconut or canola oil

Preheat oven to 350. Spray two glass bread pans with oil. Place all wet ingredients and sugar in a bowl and mix. Add the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. This dough is not time sensitive, so no worries about over stirring. Also, don’t worry if it seems a little too wet. Pour an even amount into each bread pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Let cool a few minutes and turn over the pans for the bread to fall out. Yummy!

Spaghetti Sauce

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Just as I wrote last week, gardens are overflowing. I am getting more incredible fruits and vegetables than I can eat. I needed to do something, and fast. Spaghetti sauce to the rescue!

I had no idea how easy this would be, but a friend inspired me with a Facebook post. I had to try and my freezer is now stocked with delicious sauce for the winter. This is what you need:

Enough fresh tomatoes to fill a glass baking pan

1 medium onion

1/2 a garlic bulb with all the paper removed

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Other veggies for sauce (optional), I added mushrooms, eggplant, and bell peppers

Preheat oven to 425. Wash all the veggies and cut large veggies into smaller chunks, like the onion. Place into glass baking pan. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until all the veggies are fully cooked and the tomatoes have split open. Remove from oven and let cool until you can touch the tomatoes. Pull on the skins off the tomatoes to remove them and discard. Tomato skins are no fun in sauce. Place veggies in a blender and blend to desired consistency. If a thicker sauce is desired, remove some of the liquid before blending. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

 

Plates

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Let’s talk plates. Crazy, right?

In the United States, we think large plates are normal. This attitude probably contributes to the large numbers of overweight and obese people in the country.

The photos I take of my meals are from the top plate in the photo. It is actually considered a side or salad plate. The larger plate beneath it is supposed to be the dinner plate. I only have two of this size and use them as platters. The bottom plate is indeed a serving platter according to the box it came packed in and it is the least used plate in my kitchen. Only because I rarely have that much food to serve.

Don’t get me wrong. I eat plenty. I am not wasting away. However, using the smaller plate, that was actually plenty big for past generations, helps me unconsciously think about appropriate serving sizes.

I am not advocating that everyone go out and buy new dinner plates. However, consider switching to the salad plate or, when it is time to get new plates, consider selecting a set that easily lends itself to smaller portions. At the very least, think about serving sizes.

Oh, and the same is true for bowls.