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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Sunday Lunch at an Indian Restaurant

This past Sunday I had a delightful lunch with fellow vegans and vegetarians.. We went to an Indian restaurant. When I first walked in, the place was divided into a store and then the restaurant. The store sold a variety of things from Jewelry, pillows, blankets, incense, frames, clothes, etc.. I was told that everything in the store came from India. The colors were so exotic in detail on practically everything they sold. And the detail on the items were impressive. Then off to the restaurant side where you could choose to have the buffet or pick from the menu. I was very hungry when I arrived and was very happy to learn that a good portion of the buffet was vegan. You had a choice to have the buffet or items from the menu. On the menu they kindly wrote next to the item if it was vegan. But there were plenty of vegan items already prepared to be eaten right away!! So buffet it was and it was good.. There was enough spice to make me drink plenty of water but I enjoyed it. I do not like things too hot but this was just right.. They did have signs that would tell you if a particular food was on the very hot side. I will do the best I can to remember what I had. There were vegetables sauteed in a delicious sauce, rice, chutney, chickpeas with spinach and tomato , spinach soup, a pancake type food with some sort of vegetables on top and salad with a very tasty dressing. The restaurant was very nice to make us a vegan bread... A wonderful dining experience I would do again.. I do like to use spices such as curry, turmeric, and garam masala. As I have developed a love for cooking I have become more open to exploring new things. What I have learned is that creating a nice balance of spices to the food being prepared can be a wonderful dining experience. And you do not always need many spices to make a dish work, just the right ones.. Some recipes may only call for a few spices and some a column full. But the fun is in the creating and taking the spices you enjoy and making that dish your own.. Last year some time there was a recipe I tried with chickpeas, spinach, tomato, turmeric, and garam masala.(I was reminded of this flavor combo with the chickpea and spinach dish in the restaurant) That is when I went looking for garam masala and found it.. You did not need too much and the flavor was a unique taste in a good way. Here is the link to the recipe which is on the Rachel Ray website:

Do not be afraid to explore new food choices including the spices which add such a uniqueness to foods. You might create a dish that you find yourself craving...

Thank You for coming to my blog. Please come back again soon.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

My entry in a writing contest

When I was reading another blog ( the author wrote about another blogger who is having a writing contest. I went to the site and after reading about the contest decided to give it a try. I was inspired from the picture on the blog which is to aid in the idea of each writers story.. I sent it in tonight. Here is a copy of what I wrote and the site URL. To understand my story you will need to see the picture. I am not sure when it will be posted on the site.

Blog site:

A Moment

As I look in the distance at the gray of the sky I ask, where have all the leaves gone? The sun was just shining and the birds were singing their song. I heard a whisper amongst a sudden wind that touched my shoulder so gently. It made me look away for a brief moment in time. When I looked back the flowers were gone, the birds were silent, the clouds formed a wall of mystery that I do not understand. What does this all mean? Why am I standing here so confused when I was encircled in a rainbow of peace and serenity.

But then, I looked beyond the gate and saw a man and a woman holding hands. A child so sweet, in between them, skipping to every beat. Pointing to something in the sky .. I looked, and saw the answer I searched for. The light of the horizon was creeping through the darkness and grasping the call of the blossoming wind. For flowers need to reep and sow and then you will see the essence of it's growth. For every drop of rain in the sky is a teardrop that will bring a new beginning to one's breath.. The gray is not an everlasting moment. It is only a moment in time that precedes the path of the meaning of ones spirit, being, and the answers one will find.

Thank you for coming to my blog. I hope to see you again soon.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Store bought vegan soup

Well, Yesterday we had the snow storm. It is quickly turning into slush. Luckily for me I did not have to drive in the snow because public transportation is pretty good. I wanted to post during the week but time did not allow. A few days ago due to time constraints I knew I would not be able to make a soup that I wanted to. That day was a cold, windy day which is perfect for soup. So, while in the grocery store I looked to see if there was a vegan soup.. I came across a soup I had seen before by Thai Kitchen.. The one I bought was the spring onion rice noodle bowl. I normally always cook so I usually have some soup saved in the freezer.. But it is always good to know fast alternatives for the once in a while you just need something quick. It was pretty good and the best part is , it’s vegan... There are red letters on the back which say vegan and I read the ingredients and I did not see anything in there I could not eat. I do not know if their other products are vegan but I know this one is... :) When I make recipes I enjoy creating them from my head, veganizing recipes already known, and recreating a dish I enjoyed out. I definitely will be make my own version of this soup.. Here is the website of the company and you will see on the list of products the one that I had.

Here is the main site:

And on another note, that day I added more snacks to my snack bag, dried banana chips and cereal pieces... The cereal is a vegan cereal by Arrowhead Mills, sweetened shredded wheat bite size cereal. I bought it in the organic food store. As I have said you can add anything you want like dried fruits, pretzles, other nuts, etc... I take what I have and put it in my snack bag. So that would make the things I used so far edamame and soy nuts, golden raisins, vegan chocolate chips, cereal, and dried banana chips.

Thank you for coming to my blog. I hope to see you again soon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bok Choy and my Sunday

I started off Sunday morning with a nice bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee with soy milk & agave nectar. I then got myself ready to go to the bead store. I have beaded once before but it had been some time. A good friend of mine had given me a very pretty beaded bracelet which had broken. I wanted to see if there was someway I could put it back together and another friend I met makes jewelry and offered to show me how to re-string the bracelet. I really enjoyed putting the bracelet back together.. So much I made another one!!! As I was walking around the bead store there were so many pretty beads and one in particular caught my eye... So there I was stringing another bracelet.. It is a nice feeling when you are wearing something that you made.. It would be a nice idea to make gifts as well. Two hours seemed to go by very quickly because you are enjoying the beading and really become focused on it.. I started to get a little hungry as I was stringing and munched on my handy snack bag I put together and carry with me often... Here is what I mix together:
Dry roasted edamame seeds, soy nuts, golden raisins, and sometimes vegan chocolate chips. The chocolate chips I use are by Sunspire, Tropical source, semi-sweet rich dark chocolate chips. They say on the bag 100% dairy and gluten free. I buy them at the natural food store.
You can mix and match as you like.. It is like those snack bags you see in the store but sometimes I notice in the multi pack bags they may have chocolate in it which is dairy . This way if I want some chocolate I have my own variety... The edamame seeds and soy nuts have soy protein in them. The back of the edamame seeds bag says that there are 14 grams of soy protein in 1/4 cup seeds. From what I read you do have to eat nuts in moderation because of fat content but that soy and edamame nuts are a good source of protein. When I came home with my accomplishment’s I had some bok choy for my lunch. I served it over some brown rice. I had never had bok choy before but remember reading it was good for you. I had looked for it a few times before but did not find it. When I was in the whole foods store the other day they had organic baby bok choy. So I bought it and found a recipe for skillet sauteed bok choy in an Asian cook book. I saved an excerpt in a magazine about bok choy and it states that “bok choy is low calorie and is high in vitamins A and C and calcium.. “ It suggests ways of cooking which are ,” boiling: 3 to 4 minutes for stalks; 1 to 1 ½ minutes for leaves. Steaming: about 6 minutes for stalks; 2 to 3 minutes for leaves. Stir frying: about 5 minutes for stalks and 2 minutes for leaves. The magazine states that bok choy is available year round and one should look for firm, plump white stalks and fresh deep green leaves. Here is a website showing you a picture of bok choy and also giving information on how to prepare it. In the recipe I used today it did not tell me to cook the leaves separate from the stalk when I sauteed it and It tasted fine..It may be because the recipe called for the bok choy to be a tender- crisp when cooked.
In the book “Becoming vegan” by Davis and Melina it states that ½ cup, 85g, of bok choy has 79 mg of calcium with an estimated absorbable calcium being 42 mg. That seems pretty good because when they compare it to cows milk for a ½ cup of the latter, 120 grams, there is 150 mg of calcium with an estimated absorbable calcium being 48 mg.. Again I always stress you should always review the values you need with your doctor or nutritionist. I thought these values were good information to write here to show how calcium and vitamins can come from other sources besides non vegan foods. I will now add bok choy to my list of foods and come up with some recipes.. The flavors of the sauteed bok choy went well over the brown rice. I decided to serve it that way to make a nice lunch. For a snack in between my lunch and dinner I had a nice basic salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, broccoli sprouts and soy Italian cream dressing. Sundays are usually pasta day as I am use to growing up in an Italian family. I finished the day with a nice pasta dish for dinner and as I write this one of my precious kitties, Jasper is purring next to me..

If you decide to try the bok choy I hope you enjoy it.. And may you enjoy my snack combo or your own...

Thank you for coming to my blog. I hope you come back again soon.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Broccoli sprouts and my saturday morning

Last night when I came home from work I wanted something quick and easy because I was very tired. I enjoyed a very nice whole wheat pita sandwich with hummus, broccoli sprouts, onions, cucumber and tomato an idea thanks to the author of Archive site:
I went out looking for broccoli sprouts after reading her post on Feb. 10, 2008. She showed a very nice picture of a wonderful lunch she had of broccoli sprouts with hummus and onions on pita bread. It is very tasty and easy to make. I realized you can mix and match any way you like. I served it with some veggie chips an idea also from the author of the latter site as she had her sandwich with corn chips. I also had another idea of adding roasted red peppers on this sandwich. I had thought about it before to add some kind of sprout to the peppers and the broccoli sprout seemed like a good idea. My nan one day made me a roasted red pepper sandwich when she wanted to make me lunch. She did not know what to make since I became vegan and Italian Grandmas love to show love with food. She roasted red peppers, added some spices and some oil.. It was a very nice sandwich.. Thanks to my nan and the author of “my life as a vegan” I have two new ways of enjoying a healthy, yummy sandwich... I did also see a combination pack of different sprouts in the produce section. So if you do not find the broccoli sprouts try what kind is at the market.
I like to treat myself with pancakes on a Saturday or Sunday. So this morning I made some tasty pancakes and after that I enjoyed A self treatment of reiki. Reiki is a Japanese form of “healing” using energy from one person to another or your own energy as I did this morning. I started learning about it some years ago and life happens so it took a few years before I was able to take a class and become reiki level one. I sat there doing the reiki to some very nice relaxing music and I feel a serene calmness right now. I have recently started to do reiki again and my goal is to continue and eventually advance to the next level.
I hope you try the broccoli sprouts. I also had them on a salad the other day... And for lunch today I did have the roasted red pepper sandwich. I took a whole wheat pita pocket bread, opened it up (leaving one end attached to flip back over), spread some hummus on one side (you can do both if you like), put a nice size roasted red pepper from a jar on one side of the pita (over the hummus), broccoli sprouts, and chopped onions.. Yum..

Thank you for coming to my blog. I hope to see you again soon.


Monday, February 11, 2008

The 10,000 steps a day challenge

Some months ago I met a college age woman who was wearing a pedometer. We started talking and she told me why she was wearing it. She was working on some kind of project to encourage people to take a certain amount of steps per day. I do not remember how many steps she said you need to help your heart be healthy. I thought it was a pretty cool idea. But of course, time goes on, life goes on, and here I am months later finally doing it. When I became vegan it was not for health reasons. And as I have stated in previous posts I am not a nutritionist so I am not making any claims about being vegan and your health. But for me personally, I feel better physically and spiritually. I have more energy then I did before and I think when you feel better overall you want to continue doing things to make you feel better about yourself and your health. I practice yoga with home DVD’s and low impact aerobics. I am also thinking of giving pilates a try. But a family member got a free pedometer and gave it to me and I thought, why not!! I should take the 10,000 steps a day challenge. I say 10, 000 steps a day from articles I found on the internet. From what I read , the goal would be to reach 10, 000 steps a day (5 miles a day). I did not look for a long time on the net but the information I read said there is no definitive research which says that if you do this your heart will be healthy. But when you do read information about a healthy heart and lifestyle walking does come up as a good form of exercise. Of course, you should not enter into any exercise program or task without consulting your physician. Below I will copy and paste links to the sites I read. I am wearing a pedometer right now since this morning. Today is housecleaning day but you are still taking steps!! It’s almost 4 in the afternoon and I have 1,145 steps so far today.. I think that is amazing considering I am home. Of course there will be days that I will forget to put it on, but I am going to try and take this challenge, chart my steps per the guide on the links below and see if eventually I can reach 10,000 steps a day.. I am going to post on my site a survey to see how many of my readers think they want to try the challenge and do the challenge. I will try to post my weekly steps the end of each week. For those who join in this challenge comments about your weekly steps are welcome. Let’s not only be vegan together but step together with the pedometer challenge!!!

Thank you for coming to my blog and I hope to see you again soon.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

What is TVP?

I started to write this post and looked out my window at what seemed like a snow storm starting to brew.. I was driving home earlier and it was a nice sunny day.. Then later on at home, I see a gray sky , wind and snow coming down... Shortly after the sun is out and the sky is blue. Now as I type this the gray of the sky above has overtaken the sun again... This winter has surely been one of weather mystery. My cats are not sure what to think either. When it was snowing they were looking out the window at the fallen snow and then their show was gone.. My kitties actually love the snow.. I do not allow them to be outside cats but with me to supervise can go on the platform outside my door (which I refer to as my balcony) gated in.. And they have played in the snow.. Now on to TVP :) I have not used this product but was interested to find out what it was. When I need a crumbled “meat” product I use the already made crumbled meat you can find either in the regular grocery store or a whole food store. I did some research on the net and here is some information on TVP. Oh, My, as I am writing this the snow prevails!!! It is coming down.. Burrr.. The show is on kitties...

Article one:

"Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)?
Also known as textured soy protein, TVP is not tofu. It is, however, made from soy. TVP comes from defatted soy flour, which is a by-product of soybean oil, so it is plentiful in supply. It’s also quick to cook and a great source of vegetable protein without all the fat.
TVP comes in small dry chunks resembling, well, dried vegetables more than anything, or in a finely-ground form. It’s flavorless, but when you rehydrate it and add your own flavors, it makes a great protein-filled addition to many dishes calling for ground meat. Because of its varying texture, it’s versatile, and can take on the texture of many meats. For instance, it’s excellent in chili, tacos, veggie burgers and soups.

A 43-gram serving of TVP contains 120 calories and 21 grams of protein and hardly any fat. Since it’s so high in protein, it makes a great transition meat substitute; but since North Americans eat more protein than our bodies can process, you should gradually reduce or even eliminate TVP as well.
When it’s used to replace meat in stews and soups, your family will hardly be able to tell the difference and since you can marinate it in many of the same sauces as meat, it can take on many of meat’s flavors.

Though TVP is much healthier than most meats, it’s still a high-protein processed food, and high-protein diets increase the rate at which you age. With minimal proteins and a high fruit and vegetable diet, you’ll achieve the best level of health.

Natural food stores, health food stores and large supermarkets generally carry TVP; check the bulk section if you can’t find it. "

Source :

At the moment I do not plan to use TVP but wanted to post this information in case someone else wondered what is TVP as I did.. And as for the show for my kitties, only one is at the window.. Mother nature is undecided at the moment. There is a partial gray/ blue in the sky, and no snow. The weather mystery continues..

Thank you for coming to my blog and I hope to see you again soon.


Friday, February 8, 2008

"Veganized" Recipe

I have a recipe that I am not sure where I found. I think it came from a magazine that I use to use when I ate chicken. It is called “One- Pan Tomato Basil Chicken”. In one of my recent posts you will read that I finally made the home made seitan. I have quite a bit in my freezer and decided I would like to try it with the chicken recipe. This is to show you how I take a recipe and make it vegan and you can do it to!! What I will do is write the recipe in its original form and then below it write what I did. Please note I did not measure everything properly as I just wanted to make enough for two servings that day and just “eyed it”. That is the fun thing about recipes. You do not always have to do it exactly the way it says... Your tastes may not be exactly as the recipe says so you change it a little. I enjoyed this recipe and would indeed make it again.

One Pan Tomato Basil Chicken (Original)

1 package (6.9 oz) Rice- a Roni- Chicken flavor
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, about 4 halves, chopped
2 cups broccoli flowerets
1 medium tomato chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

step 1 - In a large skillet, saute the rice- vermicelli mix as the package directs.
Step 2- Stir in 2 cups of water, chicken and contents of seasoning packet: bring to a boil over high heat.
Step 3- Cover, reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.
Step 4- Stir in broccoli, tomato and basil. Cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Serves 4

My changes-

1- Rice a roni chicken flavor does not sound vegan to me. So, I decided to just make the rice mixture myself. I wanted two servings so I had some instant brown rice in the cabinet. I measured enough for two servings per the box directions. Then I used the proper water amount per the package directions and used vegetable bouillon in the water. I added spices that I liked in the water and cooked the rice per the box directions.
2- While the rice was cooking I took 2 pieces of the seitan I made (they were thick meat size pieces) , sliced them and then cubed them. I put those pieces in a plastic bag and threw some flour in the bag. I shaked the bag to coat the seitan pieces well. Then I heated a non stick 10 “ skillet about a minute ; then I heated up some extra virgin olive oil in the heated skillet about a minute. I put the pieces of seitan in the heated skillet and browned each side , just about a minute or two to make a nice golden brown color.
3- In the same skillet, I put the rice, with the seitan, broccoli flowerets, a chopped tomato, dried basil, and vegan mozzarella cheese. I stirred it to mix well and partial covered. On a low- medium flame I simmered it, stirring occasionally until the broccoli was done. About 5 to 7 minutes. That depends on how you like your broccoli.
4- You could sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese if you like.

And that was my dinner with a nice salad..

As I stated in my very first post, part of this blog is to show you how you can change a non vegan recipe to being vegan... You do not have to get rid of the recipes you liked before just learn the substitutes and enjoy your new lifestyle choice!!!

Happy Vegan cooking

Thank you for coming to my blog and I hope to see you again soon.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Artichoke hearts with garlic and capers

When I was younger I was a very picky eater. If I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day with chocolate milk I would have been happy. When I first developed a love for cooking I started to become more willing to try new things. Of course, we all have our own exceptions. :) Since I became vegan I started to try more vegetables. One of them is artichoke hearts. I do remember having artichokes, I think once some time back. I remember not liking it as I scraped whatever it was off the leaf. But I also remember thinking how could grown ups drink coffee? This after a bitter taste of it when I was a child and now I indeed enjoy my cup of Java. I wanted to try artichoke hearts and was looking for a recipe to try it with. I saw the below one on a vegan blog and felt this would suit my taste. Well, I made it and I enjoyed it... I wanted to share it with my readers.
PS: I did some research on frozen artichoke hearts and found Birds Eye to be the best tasting.

Artichoke Hearts with Garlic and Capers

When I was growing up, this old family recipe was always reserved for special occasion.(written by author of recipe)

1 (9-ounce) bag frozen artichoke hearts
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup toasted dried breadcrumbs

Cook the artichoke hearts according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved artichokes, capers, and hot red pepper flakes. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring to blend the flavors for 3 minutes. Add the parsley and breadcrumbs and toss to combine.
Serves 4

Friday, February 1, 2008

I made home- made seitan

I was finally able to find nutritional yeast at a health store so now I had all my ingredients for the home made seitan recipe I had. So, I went to work and made seitan!! I did not find it too time consuming. The actual mixing of the dough and broth are brief. It just takes time to cook but then you have a good amount of seitan to enjoy... I actually froze most of it because I only needed a bit for tonight’s meal. I looked online to see how to freeze it and most sites I found stated to freeze it in the broth and one site said you can freeze it for about three months. That was the messy part because I used plastic baggies and was filling them with some broth... But now, I have plenty of seitan to try with established recipes and my own. From what I have read you can also store it in the fridge in a tight closed container in the broth for about a week. I am sorry I can not share the recipe that I used to make the seitan. I am not sure if it is a personal recipe from the person who gave it to me. But, when I looked online at various sites it appears that the method is pretty much the same as well as the basic ingredients.. Broths vary according to ones taste and the dough may have a different ingredient or two... But the technique is the same. Here is a link for a website by Nava Atlas for seitan on how to make it and some recipes... This will give you an idea. If you google home made seitan you will find some good resources...
Here is a site I found that shows you pictures of the seitan making process:

In one of my previous posts I discussed if Vital wheat gluten was the same as vital wheat gluten flour and it appeared it was. The recipe I had called for vital wheat gluten flour and I bought vital wheat gluten. Well, I used the latter and it worked fine.. So now I know I can use either or... The dough did have that elastic type bounce the recipes say it will have... And when cooked will be sort of tough but spongy. It did indeed have a spongy look to it.. I have previously had store bought seitan which was fine... The difference I found is that the store bought is a bit more tougher then the homemade. This appears to be common from what I have read. The store bought one may already be cut thinner, so after you cook it at home you cut it to whatever size you need. For example , for cutlets you take the chunk and cut it into cutlet size pieces or small chunks if you are using it for a stir fry.. I am glad that I finally made the seitan because I now have a good amount for whenever I need. Maybe one day you may give it a try as well. It was a rainy day today so it was a perfect kitchen day. I turned on a nice CD and then the seitan adventure began...

Thank you for coming to my blog. I hope to see you again soon.

Happy Vegan cooking.