Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What do I eat?

Ok. People will ask me, now what do you eat? And I say “everything I ate before just no animal products”. Think about that. Everything is a lot so as a vegan there are plenty of choices for you to eat. Someone had said to me that once you learn the substitutes and you know where to buy them it will be just as “normal” as it was before to eat. You won’t be thinking about it so much. It will be just like “second nature”. After you read my first blog and go to the grocery store and explore it is time to then explore some more with your recipes at home. Take the easy ones and start from there. I had mentioned in my first blog about a chinese stir fry and how to change that around. I am going to show you a sample menu of a day in my life as I have been learning how to eat and some recipes I changed to vegan. This is not a nutritional statement of what you should eat (as I have said I am not a nutritionist and when I post any menus or nutritional information I have found it on the internet or in brochures. You would need to speak to your MD/NP or nutritionist for your personal dietary needs) First ask yourself, how do you start your day? What do you eat? If you like eggs, that will be a change for you. I have seen recipes for scrambled tofu however I have not tried them yet so I can not comment. If you like oatmeal from what I read buying the natural oats and cooking them is better then the instant in the packages. I like that anyway because I can make it the way I want. If you use milk in your oatmeal, use plain soy milk or flavored if you desire. If you add sugar use vegan sugar or a natural sweetener such as agave nectar (which you can find at a whole food or organic store. I will have another blog where I talk about natural sweeteners and sugar a bit more. ) Top your oatmeal with fruits if you desire. If you drink coffee or tea use soy milk if you use milk and again the vegan sugar or agave nectar. Here is a sample of a day in my life as a vegan:

One or two pieces of wheat toast with margarine, jelly, or apple spread (apple spread can be found in the peanut butter aisle or organic aisle)
oatmeal (flavored as I like)
tea with soy milk and sugar
If you like have a piece of fruit of choice

Now it is mid morning and you may be getting hungry. Have another piece of fruit or snack on some soy nuts which have a nice protein content. But be careful of having too much because I have noticed on packaging of nuts that they can be high in fat.

Lunch time
Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat toast. (Two tablespoons of peanut butter have 8 grams of protein according to the back of the jar I use)

Here is one of my simplest recipes for a peanut butter sandwich:
Peanut butter (I like to use natural peanut butter)
apple spread
two pieces of wheat toast

Use desired amount of each and use the apple spread in place of the Jelly . I love it.

cut up some carrots and/or celery for a snack
add in a piece of fruit
Have some soy nuts , pumpkin seeds or even a box of raisins.

Moroccan tofu with sweet potatoes and couscous
Here I will show you how I changed a recipe to be vegan.
This is from a magazine by every day food.

Moroccan chicken stew with sweet potatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds) ( here I of course did not use chicken. I had some extra firm tofu, you can use firm if you like. Depending on how many you are feeding, will depend on how much you use. For two people cut one or two slices of tofu crosswise about ½ inch thick. This is not an exact measurement. You could see how many cubes the first piece gives you and see if you desire more. I cut the whole recipe in half for two servings. With a paper towel pat the slice to soak out as much water as you can. Cut into cubes.
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 piece fresh ginger (2 inches long), peeled
1 cinnamon stick
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth ( here I used vegetarian- vegetable bouillon cubes, by knorr- approximate 1 cup for two servings which is ½ a cube per the package. Keep bouillon close by in case you need more broth )
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Pinch of saffron (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup couscous
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)

1- Place flour in a wide, shallow bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper; dredge in flour, shaking off excess. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken, and cook until browned, 4 to 6 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
(Here I seasoned the tofu in a bowl as above and browned in a pan on both sides. Just a few minutes each side and then put aside) proceed to step two.
2- Add onion, ginger, and cinnamon to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion starts to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add broth, sweet potatoes, and, if using, saffron. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard ginger and cinnamon. Stir in lemon juice, and season stew with salt and pepper.
( note after the first boil, set a timer for 15 minutes. Put the tofu in the pot after 7 minutes and then cook as step two says. You can add a bit more water if you think it is running dry)
3- While stew is simmering, prepare couscous according to package instructions. Serve chicken stew with couscous, garnished with cilantro, if desired.
(Cook the couscous according to the servings you are cooking for per the back of the box) then serve as above. I stored left overs in a container and had it the next day.

If you do not feel comfortable yet trying the tofu then play around with the stir fry. I had stated in a previous blog to add more vegetables in a stir fry, use tofu or the veggie chicken strips and then you will see how you like it. I start with stir fry’s as an example because they are fast and easy.

Here is one of my quick stir fry recipes
1 serving
I like this even for a quick lunch

½ cup frozen stir fry vegetables
1 serving size per directions on the box of instant white rice
a smidgen of Chinese 5 spice powder (this is in the spice aisle)
1 to 2 Tbs of your choice of sauce such as hoisin or stir fry sauce. The amount depends on your own taste.

Take the stir fry vegetables, leaving frozen and put in a microwave steam bowl and steam for 5 minutes in the microwave. (Microwave times may vary).
In the meantime cook the rice per package directions.
When the vegetables are done, drain the water, then put veggies in a pre-heated , non-stick 8 to 10 inch fry pan. Mix in the sauce and spice. Heat thru, stirring occasionally about 3 to 4 minutes.
Serve over rice.

NOTE: If you do not have a microwave steamer you can do this all in the 10 inch non-stick pan. I would thaw the veggies, preheat the pan, lightly spray the pan with vegetable oil cooking spray, and while stirring occasionally, cook veggies about 6 to 8 minutes, depending on your preference of tenderness. About 5 minutes into cooking I would add the sauce of choice and the spice.

Optional- try using the veggie chicken strips if you like. I would brown the strips lightly in the preheated pan, about 1 tablespoon of Extra virgin olive oil or spray with vegetable oil spray, and brown on both sides about 2 to 3 minutes each side. Drain out oil pre adding vegetables and sauce if you do it this way. Use about a handful of chicken pieces or less if you prefer.

Here is another recipe from kraft foods. I have not changed it yet but this is how I would make it vegan. .I am actually going to make it over the next few days.

Quick and easy lemon chicken and rice

1. 1/2 cup KRAFT House Italian Dressing - Your options are to make your own dressing or look at the website attached after this recipe. It is from the site PETA and it lists many grocery items that are vegan. Click on various areas so you can get more of a feel for vegan products. You will find dressings in the condiment section.
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips - Obviously, no chicken. If you were comfortable with tofu you could use that. Just use as I stated in the previous recipe. Or just skip this part and add a few more vegetables. You could even add another vegetable you like or add nothing.
1 cup chicken broth- use vegetarian vegetable broth
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
2 Tbsp. KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese - use vegan parmesan cheese. I stress make sure that the small bottle says vegan. If it says veggie some of them have a product called casien in them which is a milk derived protein, therefore it is not vegan. I found this product at the organic/ whole food store. You can skip it if you would rather not. I have tried the product and I like it. Of course it is not cheese, but I find it to have a nice flavor for my taste.

HEAT dressing in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken (If you were using tofu you would add here); cook and stir 1 min.
ADD broth, broccoli, red pepper and carrots. Bring to boil. - If you add a bit more veggies you may need a bit more broth. Keep on hand in case.
STIR in rice. Return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer 5 min. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 min. Stir in lemon pepper seasoning; sprinkle with cheese

(after I make this the vegan way if there are any changes I will post)
(the latter is the site with the vegan grocery product list I mentioned above)

So you see, you can be vegan, you can eat well and great. And please visit my first blog if you have not where I mention a book by Nava Atlas that I have found very instrumental in my journey to learning vegan cooking. Her book is not vegan, it is vegetarian. But as I am showing you products can be substituted or optional if you wish.

Happy Vegan Cooking
Thank you for reading my blog and come back again soon.


Monday, November 12, 2007

It is cookie time :)

I was not going to talk about sugar so soon in the blog but being that the cookie season is approaching I thought it would be a good idea. Recently I learned that sugar is not vegan. I did research and here is a website I found about this topic. It also lists brands of sugar that are non-vegan and vegan. I thought the information may be of interest especially around the holidays when sugar cookies are popular. And do not worry about finding the sugar because it is out there. I found it at an organic /whole food store and the local supermarket.

When I looked into colored vegan sugar I did not find that. But I did find vegan sprinkles that one uses on ice cream on one of the web sites I listed in my previous blog for vegan groceries. I thought to myself you could probably make your own colored sugar with vegan sugar and food coloring. Well I researched it and others had the same idea. This website has a recipe for making your own colored sugar.

I also noticed that some other recipes use cinnamon plus sugar for coating. Here are some web sites I found with sugar cookie recipes that seem worth trying. ( this person uses applesauce instead of margarine. I saw someone mention that on a website. Thought I would plug it in here for more options)

If you have your own sugar cookie recipe you use either from a book or your family recipe, read through the ingredients and see what really needs to be substituted. I compared a recipe I use from a cook book to the ones in the web sites I mentioned above and it was very similar. I would only need to replace sugar with vegan sugar, the egg with an egg replacer ( see note following this paragraph), and the sour cream with tofutti’s sour supreme. I have not tried the latter product yet so I can not comment. In one of the above recipes someone uses tofutti cream cheese. And if you are not really comfortable changing things around yet then try one of the above recipes. I suggest doing a trial run before the holiday. Cut the recipe in half and then in half again if you want (depending on the yield of the original recipe) and give it a test try. You do not even have to decorate if you do not want for the trial run, just make the cookie and see if you like the dough. And then you will be on your way to a vegan holiday.
Note: I bought the Ener- G egg replacer in an organic food store. It is in a box and I think it was in the baking section. You can not make scrambled eggs with it because it is for baking purposes. It is a powder that is mixed with water. I have used it in some recipes which called for egg and it worked fine. I have also seen the other products I have in bold in the organic food store/ whole food store.

A note on margarine: Butter is dairy so it is not vegan. According to the PETA handout I talked about in the previous blog most margarines are vegan. In case you want to have an idea of particular brand names I have copied and pasted a paragraph on margarine from a website. The website also talks about other products and replacements.

"Butter is obviously made from milk so it is easiest to switch to margarine, many of which are vegan. Some margarines contain milk derivatives such as whey or E-numbers from an animal source, but most supermarkets stock at least one suitable own brand margarine or look for Pure’s Dairy Free Soya Spread or Dairy Free Sunflower Spread. Health food shops will also stock a selection of vegan margarines including: Granose’s Vegetable margarine; Suma’s Sunflower Spread, Organic Reduced Fat Sunflower Spread, or their Soya Spread; Biona Organic Vegetable Margarine and Organic Olive Extra Margarine – made with olive oil; Vitaquell Extra Dairy Free or Bio Organic margarine. If you like a block of ‘butter-style’ margarine for baking, try Rakusen’s Tomor, available from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and many health food shops"

After I make the cookies I will post how they came out and any tips used to make them that I may use. I always welcome your experiences as well.
Happy cookie making. :)

Thank you for visiting my blog. Come back again soon.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Welcome to my vegan journey

The road to being a vegan is different for everyone. The reasons why one may make this lifestyle change varies. For whatever the reason you make this choice, it can be done. But remember, that you will do it in your own time and your own pace. Depending on how much you liked certain foods before and what your reasons may be for changing to vegan, will play a part. I use to think I would not like tofu but now I enjoy it. It is so versatile you can really have fun with it. It is exciting when you take a meat dish or dairy and make it vegan. On September 16, 2007 I became vegetarian. About two weeks later, I was vegan. I take it day by day and at the end of the day, when I have eaten the way I have, I feel good and look forward to tomorrow.
I decided to do this blog for various reasons. I love to cook and now creating recipes has become more intriguing due to my change in lifestyle. As a new vegan, I felt it may be helpful to make a blog discussing my new journey and help others who have decided to take on this path. I decided to share my experiences, new findings, recipes, helpful hints, websites, etc. to my fellow vegans. Your tips and advice are also welcome. I read various blogs and saw the need for vegans to come together and support in their decisions. I feel that why someone has become vegan is a personal choice so this blog will not be about why one is vegan. But If I find a website that may be helpful in explaining how certain foods are processed, I will post it for anyone to go to if they wish for their personal interest and knowledge. Here are some helpful tips to help you get started. I found a handout from the organization PETA helpful. If you go to this website. , look to the right and you will see "vegetarian starter kit". This is a magazine I picked up walking to the subway. If you click on it I see where you may be able to download it. I hope it will work because I still use it as a reference. Just be aware, that some of the information in there is graphic, telling you about where your meat, eggs, and dairy come from. I was not expecting to read that, that day so I wanted to inform the readers of that. Here is a website part of PETA as well. I think you may be able to read about the various products and information that is in the handout I read. Just click on being vegetarian and scroll through. I read through the magazine and took note of the various replacement products. Then I took a trip to my grocery store. I went into the organic section/ produce section and was amazed at all the products they had. From meatless crumbles (like a chop meat), Italian "sausage", "Kielbasa", "chicken and beef"strips and even smart dogs (resembling hot dogs). Even Bacon.. I bought a variety that day and started experimenting. I also bought soy milk and starting using that with no problem. I was never really a big milk drinker anyway. I find the soy nicer because it is more creamier to me. Then I went to the local organic store and felt like I was in a toy store. I bought my first non-dairy ice cream and I enjoyed it. The ice cream sandwiches are very nice. The brand is tofutti. Once you explore the various options, start at your own pace. I took it day by day, and started to take recipes I use and started replacing. For example in a stir fry, try the chicken strips and see if you like them or just add more vegetables. Maybe replace it with tofu. Here is a website about tofu and the different types. It says you can freeze tofu. I think that will be a personal preference. I have heard from others that it changes the color and does not always freeze well. But, it also makes it more like a "meat" texture for people who may want that. You could always try it and see if it works for you. If not, what I do is have a few recipes on hand once I open the tofu, because it has to be used in a week. And remember, change the water daily. A good book I use is by Nava Atlas, the 5 ingredient vegetarian gourmet. There is a section in there on tofu and that is where I had my first taste of tofu. The recipes are easy to follow and help you see a variety of vegetarian recipes. It is not a vegan book, but you can omit cheese or use vegan cheese if the recipe calls for it, replace milk with soy milk, etc. Remember, once you learn the replacements, you can make a non vegan recipe vegan.. Step by step, recipe by recipe, day by day. Another tip is go to
You can search for vegetarian/vegan groups in your area and join. They have group meetings where you can meet others who share in your lifestyle . You pick the group/s you may be interested in and join. I will try as often as I can to share new information with you, such as nutrition information (I am not a nutritionist, so it will be not be a source of your personal dietary requirements. For that you would to speak to your personal nutritionist/ doctor), websites to buy vegan products, my daily menus, some of my recipes, recipes I have made vegan to show you how, and recipes I find online. I will share with you questions I needed answered and the results from my search. I am happy to be vegan and look forward to sharing the experience with other vegans. :) I will end this today with some websites where you can buy vegan groceries. It will help you to see what products there are for vegans and that there are replacements out there. And with the holidays coming it may help you when you are doing your cooking. For instance, I have a recipe from a betty crocker book which calls for gelatin and sugar. well, there is vegan jello and vegan sugar. So I can still make those recipes. I will post all about why sugar and jello are not vegan. But for today here are the sites where you can get an idea of vegan products.

Online vegan stores

thank you for coming to my blog. I will post as often as I can so please come back again.