Creamy Broccoli Soup

This is my variation of a broccoli cheddar soup that uses nutritional yeast for the creamy texture and salty/cheesy taste.  You could use a cup or so of shredded vegan cheese instead, but in my opinion, the nutritional yeast does a much better job.  The first time I made this soup, I actually made two batches, one with the nutritional yeast and one with real shredded white cheddar.  I let someone else try both to do a comparison and I was told they could hardly tell the difference!  This soup is great served with toasted bread for dipping.
 
Side Note: You can find nutritional yeast it in specialty stores like Whole Foods, generally in the vitamin/supplement section.  You can buy the Better Than Bullion pastes at Publix (in the Greenwise section – small jar with a black lid) or at Whole Foods.  Don’t forget Amazon!
 
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Margarine (or other vegan margarine)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons Better Than Bullion Vegetarian No-Chicken Base + 3 cups boiling water (or 3 cups veg stock)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1 cup unflavored non-dairy creamer (I used the SO Delicious brand coconut milk creamer)
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets (I used the stalk as well, chopped)
 
Boil the 3 cups of water and dissolve the no-chicken base in it and set aside.  If you’re using veg stock, skip this step and make note that you may want to season with salt later.
 
Melt margarine in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onion for about 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the flour to the pan and stir until absorbed.  Add the water/no-chicken base mixture (or veg stock), creamer, milk, and pepper and slowly bring to a simmer.  You don’t want to full on boil liquids with coconut milk or it may separate.
 
Add the broccoli and cover with the lid slightly askew to release a small amount of steam. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Next, add in the nutritional yeast and stir well.  At this point you can puree half of the soup (or all of it) in a blender, if you wish.  I puree half as it makes the soup creamier, but I like to have some whole pieces of broccoli as well.

Another Juice Recipe

This is a sweet green smoothie that I made up this morning for breakfast.  Grapes yield a lot of juice and the pear makes it a bit creamy.  I really liked this one!

1 Bartlett pear
a couple handfuls of seedless white grapes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large handful of spinach
1/2 cucumber

Run everything through your juicer and pour into a light-proof container with ice cubes.  Enjoy right away!

Get Your Greens Smoothie

I got this recipe off of Whole Food’s website a while back and was surprised that I didn’t taste the spinach at all. The color is somewhere between dark purple and a wierd greyish, so I recommend putting this one in an aluminum bottle if you don’t want to gross everyone out! Despite the way it looks, it actually tastes really good!

1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 large handful raw spinach leaves
1 cup frozen cherries
1 frozen banana

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

My Morning Green Juice

This is a mild green juice that I’ve been drinking for the past couple of mornings. If you don’t mind the celery taste, add an extra stalk in, but I cut back because when I use two stalks, the flavor of raw celery is relatively strong.  Also, I water mine down with about a cup or so of cold water.

You can juice the fruit/veggies in any order you like really, but just make sure to use the lemon juice just before the spinach to help reduce oxidation (do this for any iron-rich veggies/fruits).  I pour my juice straight into an aluminum water bottle with a few ice cubes.  You want to store in an air-tight, light-tight container to avoid oxidation as well. 

1 apple
1 stalk celery (with leaves)
1/2 of a large cucumber
1-2 big handfuls of spinach
3 medium-sized carrots
juice of 1/2 lemon

No pics for this one because it’s a pretty nasty green color.  That’s another reason why it’s good to keep it in an aluminum bottle – so you don’t have to look at it while you drink it!

Here I go again! -or- Damn you casomorphines!

I must admit that I’ve fallen off the horse with eliminating eggs/dairy from my diet for the past few months.  Ok, so I jumped off the horse voluntarily, was in denial about it for a few weeks, and then set it free to roam in the fields while I enjoyed veggie omelet’s and pizza with real cheese.  Oh, and the French onion soup from Jason’s Deli – YUM!  

Most people would say, “Who cares?” but while I’ve been enjoying these tasty (and mostly unhealthy) foods, my body has been protesting.  I won’t go into detail, but I’ll just say that my body isn’t handling dairy as easily as it used to anymore for some reason.  My skin is breaking out more than usual and I find I don’t have an appetite for anything other than junk.  The more crap I eat, the more crap my brain thinks it wants, especially cheese!  I keep thinking of it like an addiction, which may seem silly, but check out what I read about dairy products in the most recent issue of Vegetarian Times (Oct 2011 issue) and in articles written by doctors on the web:

Dairy products contain food opiods called casomorphins, which are beneficial to mother cows as they sooth calves, create a euphoric feeling, and encourage them to drink from their mother. When a human ingests the milk protein casein, it creates casomorphines through the process of digestion, creating opiate-like feelings of sedation, euphoria and even constipation!  I’ve even come across websites that advise women to drink a glass of milk or have some cheese to alleviate menstrual cramps.  Since it takes about 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese (give or take, depending on the cheese), this means cheese is an ultra-concentrated source of casomorphins.  It’s like cheese crack!  This means physical/mental addiction can occur! After poking around online, it appears that withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, depression, and vomiting are not uncommon when people try to kick dairy (makes you wonder how much dairy these people eat?!).  Still, it’s no wonder most vegans say cheese was the last/hardest thing to give up.

So I’m going to start another 30-day strict vegan diet.  I know vegans reading this are probably wondering why I don’t just kick dairy for good and be done with it.  I’ve already established that dairy does bad things to my body and isn’t good for my health, so why even go with the 30-day route again?  In all honesty, it’s just something I feel is easier for me.  I know I can set a 30-day goal and achieve it.  Saying “bye bye” to dairy forever seems a bit overwhelming right now.  I know, that’s silly, but that’s just me.  I know it’s not rational.  Baby steps and we’ll see where I wind up!

I went to Whole Foods last weekend and bought a bunch of yummy organic veggies, which my body thinks it doesn’t want, but my brain has been taken over by opiates, so it doesn’t know what it wants.  I plan to make a fresh green juice every morning, starting tomorrow and to enjoy fresh juices (from fruits and veggies I juice myself) more often in general.  This is really the only way I can incorporate raw foods into my diet without eating a salad every day (which I wouldn’t look forward to that often) or making raw meals (which my partner would gag at).  I’m going to have to avoid the snack machine at work and bring yummy, healthy snacks of my own that I’ll look forward to eating.  I can still eat at some of my favorite restaurants like Mellow Mushroom and Chipotle Grill too and get a good vegan meal.

So here I go again.  I’ll post juice recipes and pics later!

Vegan Ice Cream

So it’s summer here in the South (or at least it is this week – the weather changes a lot down here) and I’ve been craving ice cream!  Ice cream is typically a dessert I can easily pass up.  I’d much rather have something baked like cake or brownies.  But when it heats up, every now and then, the freezer section starts calling my name.

I’ve really gotten serious about wanting to publish a cookbook.  I hope to have it completed within the next 2 years.  (I can’t decide whether that’s lazy or thorough.)  I’ve gone back and forth between doing a themed book or a non-themed book, even though “vegan” is a theme either way, and I’ve decided to go with a Southern theme.  I want to re-vamp and veganize recipes I grew up with like BBQ, cobbler, meatloaf, pecan pie, fried chicken, and biscuits w/ gravy.  Hopefully the recipes will turn out healthier than the non-vegan versions too!  But my focus is more comfort food people can relate to and share with their loved-ones than “health food” or a “diet” book.

You’re probably wondering why this post is titled “vegan ice cream” when I’ve gone off on this cookbook tangent, but in thinking about how to veganize a pecan pie, I begin to wonder if I should re-vamp it as a milkshake instead of an actual pie.  I searched the web for pecan pie milkshakes and found very little, surprisingly!  Apparently Zaxby’s (a fast-food joint that serves mostly fried chicken fingers and fries) had a pecan pie shake out a while back, but that’s about all I see when I search Google.  So I decided to come up with my own.  I’m not posting the recipe yet, but I wanted to show you all something wonderful:  VEGAN butter pecan ice cream from Turtle Mountain! 

I found this at a little organic grocery store for $6/carton, but it’s so good!  This one is made with organic soymilk.  Whiz this around in a blender with non-dairy milk and you’ve got a darn good milkshake!  Of course, I’d like to leave out this as an ingredient to my recipe.  Not everyone can find this brand/flavor and those who can might not want to fork out $6 for it!

But taste-wise, for those who might be curious, this tastes just like the butter pecan ice cream I remember the Barber’s brand making.  There are lots of crunchy pecans, and it really does have a buttery sweet taste that melts in your mouth (well duh – it’s ice cream!).  The texture is the same as dairy-based ice cream and although I’ve heard people say soy ice cream melts faster, I didn’t find any truth in that.

And for those of you allergic to soy, never fear!  Almond Dream and Rice Dream both make ice cream now (including ice cream sandwiches and popsicles) and if you’ve read my previous posts, you know that SO Delicious makes coconut milk ice cream as well.  Rice/Almond Dream only have basic flavors really, but SO Delicious really has a great variety.  These are great if you’re lactose-intolerant as well.  If anyone wants me to review a particular flavor/brand, let me know!

A Particular Sadness

I’ve been slowly reading my way through The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender over the past few months.  It’s an excellent book; I am just so rarely in the mood to read lately, so I still have not finished it.  It is the story of a little girl named Rose who discovers that she can taste the emotions of the people who prepare/grow/harvest/cook the food she eats.  Through the tastes of despair, anger, sadness, and longing, she begins to learn secrets about the people closest to her.  Since most of the emotions she tastes leave her feeling empty, she also experiences despair and sadness of her own from having to avoid foods prepared by people close to her, and even by total strangers.  She starts to savor snack foods and pre-packaged “food” like Doritos so that she can consume “food” made by machines and thus avoid tasting the emotions of someone’s complicated life.  Doritos, she says, do not ask anything of you.

The idea of having this “ability” seems pretty awful to me.  I enjoy food, preparing and eating it (especially with friends and family), and if everything I ate were to bring a horrible tasting emotion with it, I would be heartbroken.  I can’t imagine a life without delicious, exciting food!  This made me wonder what life would be like if we could taste the emotions and general life experiences of the animals we eat.  If we could taste fear, suffering, abuse, neglect, and sadness, surely we wouldn’t eat animals.  It would be all too real then.  Factory farm practices we generally ignore so that we can conveniently eat our delicious burgers would be blatantly obvious to us.

Or let’s be honest, even if the planet didn’t simultaneously go veg (one can dream!) then at least it would lead to better farming practices.  Although, I think if I ate a steak and tasted happiness, love, and days filled with grazing in the warm sun, I’d still have to ask myself why an animal was denied the rest of its happy life so that I could eat.

 But either way, the world would obviously be a much different place.  And so I began to wonder this not only about meat, but about all things consumable.  What if you could taste greed in your eggs, pesticides on your carrots, or the torture of animal experimentation in your lipstick?  What if you had to think about the consequences of actions that you support every time you purchase an item?  Shouldn’t we?

I think the problem is that the food we eat doesn’t ask anything of us.  We don’t have think about where it came from, what’s in it, or if it’s safe to consume.  We assume all that is done for us by the government and the FDA.  Hell, we’re not even asked to grow,  harvest, prepare, or cook it!  We’re too far removed from these things, which is both a blessing and a curse (thank goodness we all don’t have to labor in the fields every day from sunup to sundown) and most of us are doing good just to make time to eat. 

When we stop to think about how many food recalls there have been even in the past decade, how many factory farms have been shut down due to cruelty cases, and how many food-bourne illnesses there are (47.8 million in the US alone from 2000-2007 per the CDCP) we quickly turn our minds from it and leave it up to someone else to handle.  We just can’t deal with all of that.  We have to eat, after all! 

And so all of this is a particular sadness that stays with me, rising to the surface now and again.  Going veg has changed so many things about my life and made me happier in so many ways, but there is an accompanying sadness due to the fact that I have made myself aware of issues that most people are unaware of or choose not to think about.  Still, I would never choose to forget.