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Posts Tagged ‘Vegan’

As I was preparing this curry, I realized that almost all of the ingredients were white: Tofu, cauliflower, potato, onion, garlic, coconut milk. Yes, I used green curry paste, but I still planned to call this dish “White Curry.” When I realized I wanted a little more heat, I added jalapeno, and it became a “White and Green Curry.” Because I used a prepared curry paste, this was a very fast dish to prepare. You can serve it over rice, and use your favorite curry condiments (Alan likes chutney and raisins, I just love avocado slices).

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

One small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, diced

One jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (more to your taste)

One cup cauliflower florets, broken into bite size pieces

2 medium potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces

One can light coconut milk

One Tablespoon green curry paste (more to your taste)

One cup vegetable broth or white wine

One package firm or extra firm tofu, cubed

1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts (optional)

White pepper and salt to taste

Cilantro (for garnish)

Directions

In a large skillet or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the pepper, cauliflower, and potatoes and cook for two more minutes. Add the coconut milk, broth, and curry paste. Increase the temperature  and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the tofu and peanuts. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and the potatoes are cooked. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

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It happens every year. The weather starts to warm up, and suddenly I’m all about salads. Even though our weather has been amazingly cool (so far) this May, my tummy starts craving some lighter, cooler, yet still filling and delicious, fare.  Another nice thing about salads is that they are pretty easy and fast to put together.  A little chopping, a little shredding, a little tossing, and you’re good to go.

The inspiration for this salad comes from Native Foods‘ ‘Yo Amigo Taco Salad.’  The first time I ordered it, Megan, my server (who also works with me as a personal trainer), suggested that I ordered it tossed. It became my favorite for a while, although it was never quite as delicious as the first time (true about a lot of things, huh?). Anyway, as I tend to do when I find a restaurant dish that I like, I tried to re-create it at home. With some success, I’d say.

(I apologize for the quality of the pictures in this post. After killing my camera during our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm last weekend, I have ordered a new one, but in the meantime I’m using my several years old Kodak EasyShare.)

Step 1: The Veggies

I chose the vegetables for this salad based on two requirements: One-they needed to create a nice variety of color and taste combination; and two-I needed to have them in the refrigerator.  One nice benefit from this method of veggie selection is that this salad is always just a little different each time you make it. So for today’s salad we have:

Cucumber, tomato, onion, orange and yellow pepper, cauliflower, and carrot. Chop them up into small pieces (I shredded the carrot). About 1.5-2 cups. Other excellent veggie choices would be corn, celery, zucchini, broccoli, or just about anything your taste buds desire (just remember the color rule, though).

Step 2:  The Greens

The ‘whatever you have on hand’ rule applies here, too. For this salad I had romaine and kale.  I steam the kale for a few minutes so that it will be tender, then rinse it in cold water and put it in the refrigerator until I’m ready to toss everything together. Chop the greens into bite sized pieces and toss together with the vegetables.

Step 3: The stuff that makes it a ‘Taco Salad.’

I cooked about 4 ounces of vegan ground ‘beef’ and 4 ounces of Soyrizo. Season to your taste with chili powder, onion powder, and salt. If you have a favorite taco filling recipe, you can use that. I’m trying to keep it simple, remember. After cooking, I let it cool a bit, then added it to the salad.

I also had some Daiya Cheddar, so I added about a half cup.

Step 4: The Dressing

Start with vegan ranch dressing (I make my own from this recipe from Meet the Shannons). Mix in Sriracha to taste (yes, it’s Asian, not Mexican, but oh, so yummy!). Toss it all together and divide into two bowls.

Step 5: The Toppings

Finish your salad by adding sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, and a small handful of crushed, vegan tortilla chips.

This is the perfect summer (or anytime) salad. It is light, yet filling; easy to prepare, yet offers a nice variety of flavors and textures. I know I’ll be making it again soon.

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I can’t believe that I haven’t posted this already! Alan’s birthday was last week and I wanted to bake him a cake. This is not something I’ve ever done before. In the past, I would order a cake for him, usually carrot because that’s his favorite. Since becoming vegan, though, I really didn’t want to purchase anything made with animal products. And even if I did go ahead and buy it, well, I couldn’t eat any.  If there is cake in my house I want to be able to eat some. So I decided to bake one myself.

Now I’m sure for you bakers out there, this is not big deal. But if you read this blog, you know that I have made one other cake in my life, so this was a serious undertaking. At least this time I had a proper cake pan!

I found a recipe in the Native Foods Cookbook that looked pretty easy. In fact, the only hard part was figuring out how to grate carrots when the smallest blade on my food processor says ‘shredder.’ I did have some problems with the icing. It just wasn’t thick enough, even after chilling it (and I’ll admit it, adding powdered sugar in the hopes of thickening it up). It was sweet in any case.

This cake was fabulous! Even if I do say so myself. I am sure that my husband will concur. It was light, it tasted great, it was damn near perfect. I don’t even like carrot cake and I loved it. And even with the thin frosting, it was beautiful, too. Tanya’s recipe tells you to use little carrot-shaped slices of carrot with a little sprig of parsley for decoration, which made it look so cute!

Yep, it was a winner!

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As I mentioned last month, Alan wanted to take his grandsons to Disneyland to celebrate his (Alan’s) birthday last weekend. As I also mentioned, after searching for deals on the internet and not finding any, we had a choice between going to Disneyland and paying $288 admission, or going to Knott’s Berry Farm, which had all kinds of discounts available, for $102. Not too tough a choice. Sorry Mickey.

Being vegan, I also had some other research to do. Amusement parks aren’t known for their healthy food, so I figured that my chances were slim to none that I’d find any options at Knott’s. They do not allow you to bring in your own food. I started by posting on their facebook page:

After deciphering Stephanie’s post, I thought that she had the best idea. I did check out TGIF and Johnny Rocket’s on-line menus, and although Johnny Rocket’s did have a veggie burger available, I didn’t hold out a lot of hope that it would be vegan. And TGIF is hopeless, unless you choose to eat lettuce.

Then last Friday, I received this message on Facebook:

You may note that this message was dated May 10. Well, Facebook notifications had been whacko all week, and I didn’t receive the message until Friday evening. I replied back, but had a feeling that Willie was probably off for the weekend. Oh well, I figured I could tell Guest Services, or if necessary, flash them the message on my phone’s facebook app. We were good to go, food-wise.

Our plan was to drive to Huntington Beach early on Saturday afternoon. The boys had a baseball game at 5:00 that we were looking forward to watching. If you’ve never seen six year old boys (and one girl!) play baseball, you should put it on your bucket list. Seriously, it is so much fun. They are so joyous about the play, they are just starting to learn their skills (and the rules), and, unlike the professional pitchers’ games of today, there is a whole lot of scoring. Some scenes from the game:

Last year was T-Ball, this year the coach pitches (this coach is Alan's son)

Batter Up!

Players rotate positions each inning. That's our grandson the catcher

Base hit!

Action shot...check out his mouth as the ball gets closer.

Another hit. Must be that batting glove.

Grandson on the mound!

See dad? There's some hustle here!

I just love this pose.

He lost the other front tooth a little later during the game.

Sometimes it's hard to pay attention when there is so much going on all around you.

Ready for action.

Sunday morning brought clouds, rain, and cold. Alan and I took a run along the coast and I never felt like I warmed up. I hoped that the rain would pass, but long experience told me that a rainy day is really the best day to go to an amusement park. It keeps the crowds away. But, just not pouring, please.

After checking Knott’s website the evening before, we had one worry. The height requirement for most of the ‘cool’ rides was 48″. We lined the boys up (every family has a place on the wall for measuring, right?). They are fraternal twins, remember. One boy made it easy, 49″. Uh oh, his brother just barely hit 46.5″.  We had to hope that they weren’t too picky about measurements.

As we parked our car on Sunday morning, the clouds cleared, the sun shined, it was a beautiful day. We had decided on a food plan. On the way in, we had stopped at Mother’s Market, which has a wonderful deli with a huge selection of vegan salads, entrees, pizza, and more, and picked up enough for lunch. We decided to leave it in the car instead of hauling it around the park all day. I figured we’d be ready for a break in the action at lunchtime, we could head back to the car, drop off any extra clothing, eat our food, then head back to the fun. Which is exactly what we did, and it was perfect.

We  walked into the park with our eyes skyward, checking out the rides. The first one we chose, La Revolucion, had one of those 48″ limits. We decided to try our luck, but unfortunately, when we reached the front, were were told that our smaller twin would not be able to go on the ride. We decided that Alan would ride with the taller twin:

I felt so bad that we couldn't go on the ride. I promised that we'd go back next year, when he would be tall enough.

Click on the pic and you'll see Alan's feet. Way up there and upside down!

After that, we tried one more ride with the 48″ limit, but when that was a no go, we restricted our rides to the ones which we could all ride (the map had the height limits). This is not to say we didn’t have a great time. The boys won a Big Bird stuffed toy at a baseball toss (see, it paid off already!). We rode the log ride (twice!), several of the faster rides in Camp Snoopy, the Calico Mine ride, where I took my final picture. After that, I dropped my camera (on a wooden floor!), and, well, it died.

One of the rides that we check out early because we would all be able to ride, was the Bigfoot Rapids. However, the sign said, “You will get wet. You may get drenched.” When we (the grown ups) saw that, we told them (the twins, who probably would have been happy to be wet the whole day), that, yes, we would ride that one, but it would be the last one of the day.

So, after a brief lunch break at the car, we headed back into Knott’s, where we caught the tail end of the Stunt Show. I was sorry that we’d missed most of it, because I remember it from years ago. Gunfighters, falling off buildings, shooting it out, all that western fun stuff.

The boys decided that they were ready for the Bigfoot Rapids. Even when we reminded them that it would be the last ride of the day, they said that they were ready. All I can say is, good thing it was the last ride. While the boys remained pretty dry, I got wet and Alan got soaked! I’ll also say that the Family Dryer, that costs $5, but seems like a good idea when you are soaking wet coming out of that ride, does not dry jeans. Nope, Alan pretty much had to be wet and cold all the way back to the house.

All in all, we had a really good time at Knott’s Berry Farm. It has great value, the rides are fun, I can’t wait until we go back with taller grandsons!

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Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it started off in the best possible way. I slept in. Seriously, I don’t get to do that very often. Between working most days at 5:30 (yes, that is AM), trying to beat the desert heat, or just getting an early start on the day, my alarm clock generally goes off somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00. So my big deal was no alarm clock and I slept all they way until about 5:30. Woot!

After my coffee, I figured I’d be a good mother and take my furry kids for a run. They love it so much, but sometimes when time is short they miss out on their run. So I took them for a two mile run. The video below is from a different day, but it gives you an idea of how much we all enjoy our run.

Next up..a bike ride with my husband. I am so happy that Alan is finally recovered from his bike crash. Yes, it’s great that he feels good and can get back to training, but, to be honest (and totally selfish), I am much more committed to my training when my training partner is healthy. In any case, we had a nice 35 mile ride with almost perfect weather.
Our timing was so spot on..with high winds forecast and of course, Mother’s Day plans, we chose to cut the ride short, arriving home just as the winds kicked up. The shorter ride allowed me time to have a short nap (oh, yeah!) before getting dressed for the actual “Mother’s Day” part of the day.

We were meeting my youngest son, David, at my favorite restaurant for lunch. Native Foods, is, of course, the only vegan restaurant in the desert, but even if there were competition, it would stand out above the others.

I needed to try their Mother’s Day special. As quoted from the Native Foods Facebook page:

Oh yes, I needed that. I encouraged my son to order the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, something I always suggest for first-timers, non-vegans (or anyone who is hungry). Alan had the Chicken Run Ranch Burger, which was the daily special and came with a side. My entree was wonderful. Why doesn’t my tofu scramble taste like that?
We had an extra treat during this visit. Chef Tanya was in the house and kindly stopped by the table to chat and let me pose with her! She is always so nice whenever we see her at Native Foods and seems to love to get out and talk with her customers. She suggested I post the photo on Facebook (which I did–Twitter too!).

That's my little boy!

Following my advice…
David gave me, you guessed it, a new cast iron pan for Mother’s Day. I always feel the direct request works pretty well. Nathan, my oldest, and my future daughter-in-law, Sarah, sent flowers.  Very nice.
This post has been a bit of a ramble, but it was obviously an event filled day. After lunch, I resumed being “Debbie” instead of “Mom.” We did a little shopping, then headed home. I did want to mention dinner (since it is in my post title). I made Vegan Mexican Pizza. Follow the link for the recipe, but I did make a slight change. I didn’t have any of the Vegan Queso, so I made my own. I took about a half cup of Daiya Cheddar, added an eighth cup of almond milk and an equal amount of fresh salsa and popped it in the microwave until the cheese melted. Perfect!

I sprinkled some cilantro on top and served with a chopped salad.

Really an excellent day.

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With my youngest son turning 30 in a couple weeks, I realize that it has been a long time since I had young children (a really long time!). It has also, obviously, been a long time since I was a child. Since the ‘arrival’ of our two six year old grandsons last summer, however, Alan and I have started to revisit the idea of amusement parks and other family-style entertainment. When you live in Southern California, the first amusement park that comes to mind is, of course, Disneyland.

As I mentioned in a recent post, we are planning to take the grandsons to Disneyland to celebrate Alan’s birthday next week. As I was researching ticket options and pricing, though, I was hit with a bit of sticker shock. The price for a one-day, one-park visit to the Magic Kingdom is $76 per person, for children age 3-9, the price is $68. Doing the math, the price for a family of four to purchase the most basic of entries is $288. That is before doing anything optional like, well, eating. And of course:

Shopping!

As I also mentioned in that last post, I spent a lot of time at Disneyland when I was a kid. We lived close by and my dad was a member of the Magic Kingdom Club.  Back then, you had to purchase the old A-E ticket books. Magic Kingdom Club membership meant that our tickets were basically all as good as “E” tickets (in addition to other perks like discounts and Editor’s Day-unique back then, but basically meant the park was open, no tickets needed). And, it was pretty cheap. Admission was separate from the ticket price, and was about $4.00 (we’re talking late 60s, early 70s here). A book of tickets was around $6 or $7. I think there were 10 in a book. So for about $10 you were good to go for a day at Disneyland. Plus that pesky food thing.

As I was researching for this post, I found that Disney’s most recent price increase was August of last year (no recession in the Magic Kingdom!) and that they have raised prices each year since 1994. You now pay $10 more for the single park ticket than two years ago, and $35 more than a decade ago. FYI, they usually raise the prices the first week of August, so if you plan on going this summer, you might want to purchase your tickets before then.

Since our hearts are set on amusement parks, I thought I’d do a little comparison shopping. Knott’s Berry Farm, which is just a few miles away, was also a favorite of mine when I was young (and it was barely more than a berry farm/ghost town). I even sneaked a puppy home from there once, but that’s another story. The price for adults is $33.99 when purchased online (you save $23).  That is their winter price. In June, that goes up to $46.99. The price for children (in this case ages 3-11) is $22.99, which will go up by $2 in June. That is the same price that adults 62 and over pay with the senior discount. Adding it all up, total for this family of four: $102.96.

I also checked the prices for Magic Mountain, even though I don’t want to drive all the way north of Los Angeles. I didn’t go there often when I was young, but Alan and I went a few times when my son was a teenager. When purchased online, the adult tickets are the same price as their child tickets: $34.99. Price for our family of four is $144.96. Half the price of Disneyland.

Now, of course, as a vegan, there are other things to consider when traveling. From the various blogs and articles that I have been reading, I gather that finding vegan food at Disneyland is pretty easy. Many of the restaurants offer vegetarian choices that can be ordered without dairy. One blogger even wrote of an experience she had when planning her trip. She called the Disney Dining Line the night before and was given the chef’s private line, where she left a message. Amazingly, when she arrived to eat at Ariel’s Grotto in Downtown Disney, she was delighted to find that a special dish had been created just for her. Now that is vegan friendly!

Unfortunately, Knott’s does not seem to have as many choices. Now, I’ve just begun my research, but their website says nothing even about vegetarian options. A keyword search only gave me a couple dated forum-type questions and responses. I have a pending question on their Facebook page, so I’ll see if that comes up with anything. Even if I have to bring my own food or head outside the park for lunch, the thought of saving $185 makes that idea, well, more palatable.

I did a quickie search for vegan food at Magic Mountain, just for the purposes of this post since I really doubt we’ll go there. I found this article, which indicates that there are a few choices, in particular, for this french fry lover, a little cart called Fresh Cut Fries, which uses veggie oil. Plus a few healthier options.

Am I the only one who finds the idea of a $400 one day Disneyland experience a little outrageous? Maybe more depending on your food and shopping choices. Vegan-friendly or not, I think it is over the top, especially compared with other Southland amusement parks. Yet, millions of people each year will keep handing Mickey their hard-earned dollars.

Maybe it is just me.

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After I went vegan, a little over a year ago, I dramatically cut down on my sweet intake, mostly because it was a lot more difficult to find cookies, cakes, and other dessert-type items that weren’t made with eggs and milk. In recent months, I have been expanding my baking horizons. I purchased Kelly Peloza’s Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and had a great time trying out the recipes.

For Easter, though, even though there were only three of us, Alan, myself, and my son, David, I felt that we needed something a little more than cookies, something more special.

Did I plan for this? No, I did not. I decided on Easter Sunday, at lunch time, that it would be nice to have something for dessert. What to do?

I don’t have a lot of vegan cookbooks. I have Tanya’s cookbook, of course, Native Foods being our only vegan restaurant in the desert I had to show support. I also have Viva Vegan and Vegan with a Vengeance on my Ipad. I skimmed through the desserts in those books, my main requirement being that I needed to have the ingredients (or at least most of them) on hand.

I finally found the recipe I wanted in the American Vegan Kitchen, “Pineapple Upside Down Cake.” I had all the important ingredients, like flour, baking powder, and well, pineapple. I substituted the flaxseed with EnerG Egg Replacer, the dried cherries with raisins, and the soy milk with almond milk, and added pecans to the topping. All reasonable substitutions. My big problem was when the instructions said, “using an 8″ round cake pan.”

Uh oh. The last time I baked a cake, well, I’d guess Ronald Reagan was president. Even though I have many older items in my kitchen (I just recently replaced my original, mustard colored crock pot), there was no cake pan to be found. My choices were few, but I settled on a 8″ish glass baking dish. Not too different, right?

Well, the directions said to bake for a half hour. At that time, I slid a knife into the cake to check if it was done. Nope. Actually, it was so gooey I worried that the outside would burn before the inside was cooked through. It ended up taking about 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, my cake looked ready.

I'm proud!

Now, all you cake bakers may scoff at my results. The texture wasn’t perfect, the outside was just a little overcooked, and it wasn’t as pretty as it should have been, but, well, it tasted pretty damn good. My husband and son loved it. And that was good enough for me.

Looks satisfied, doesn't he?

I was inspired by my success. A few days later, I purchased both a round and a square cake pan. I’m ready for the next holiday!

Now I'm ready!

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