Thursday, October 30, 2008


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What is Vegan MoFo? Click here to find out!

I missed the last 2 days! Sorry about that-- I almost fulfilled the challenge! Just didn't have time!

Ms. Hill and two students help me make vegan Energy Balls at a school demo yesterday

My oldest granddaughter, S., who is 16, is the only vegetarian in my family besides me, my husband, and my sister. She decided on this at age 14, and she has stayed the course. (Update Oct. 2014-- Granddaughter S is now a vegan.)   Her mom often makes things that they can all eat and then adds meat to the dish after removing S.'s portion. She also buys S. vegetarian products. S. is a busy straight-A student who is also active in drama (particularly improv), but she has also learned to cook veg for herself (she spent some time with me learning a few tricks.) She is not a vegan, but she is very careful not to use gelatin capsules in medicines and nutritional supplements; she seeks out vegetarian-friendly cosmetics, and does not eat anything with cochineal in it-- pretty well-informed!

S. invited me to come and give a short demo during lunchtime for her high school's "Books with Bite" day, and the foods teacher kindly volunteered her classroom for it, AND assisted me! It's always great to have an opportunity to talk to interested teens about vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, especially if they can taste some of the food!

We didn't have alot of time, so I only demonstrated one recipe, but I brought two quick and easy bean dishes that we thought the kids might like-- my 30-Minute Vegan Chile, made with pinto beans, and my Mexican-Influenced Bean Dip (or Refried Bean Stand-in), made with black beans. (Both of these recipes are in my book The Fiber for Life Cookbook. I used Yves Veggie "Ground Round" in the chile, and I added 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil and some smoked hot paprika to the dip this time.)

The students enjoying the chile and bean dip with blue corn chips

The students asked some questions about when and why I became a vegan, and about some of the products I brought to show. Ms. Hill also had some pertinent questions to ask, and so did my granddaughter when there was a lull in the questioning (smart girl!). They perused my books and took extra recipe handouts for friends. They ate up most of the food and took some extra for friends and staff!

Although I had less than an hour, I think it was a great success. Ms. Hill said she wanted to invite me back for the vegetarian portion of her Foods class!

Here is my recipe for Energy Balls:

Printable Recipe

Servings: 4
Yield: 4 large or 8 smaller balls.

These are yummy and so easy to make! You can multiply the recipe as needed.

1/2 cup oatmeal (or other cereal flakes for cooked cereal)
1/4 cup moist brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter (I used almond butter in the school demo)
4 tsp fine unsweetened grated coconut (or ground nuts or sunflower seeds)
4 tsp chopped dates or raisins, or other dried fruit of choice
4 tsp non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
more coconut to roll the balls in

Grind the oatmeal in a food processor until chopped well. Add remaining ingredients and blend until a ball forms. Roll into 4 large or 8 smaller balls. Roll the balls in fine unsweetened coconut.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving)
: 254.5 calories; 43% calories from fat; 13.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 14.4mg sodium; 282.1mg potassium; 31.5g carbohydrates; 3.6g fiber; 20.2g sugar; 27.9g net carbs; 6.6g protein; 5.5 points.


Monday, October 27, 2008


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Romaine lettuce and chard salad with homemade garlic croutons, and marinated artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes, with the new dressing below.

What is Vegan MoFo? Click here to find out!

This is a quickie blog post! Last night I made a variation on my vinaigrette dressing using smokey toasted sesame oil and fig balsamic vinegar, a new find! It is delish! It would be great on a spinach salad, BTW! Delicious fig balsamic vinegar is made by a number of companies (including President's Choice in Canada). If you "Google" it, you'll come up with a number of online sources.

Here's the recipe:

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S FIGGY- BALSAMIC-SESAME VINAIGRETTE (Low-Fat and WW Core Plan Compatible) (with Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette variation)
Yield: 1 and 1/2 cups

The sesame oil lends a smokiness that blends well with the fruity vinegar.

1 cup aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings 
1/4 cup dark sesame oil (OR use 1/2 sesame oil and 1/2 olive oil)
1/4 cup fig balsamic vinegar (see text above)
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

Whisk, shake, or blend the ingredients together well, bottle and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 tablespoons):
54.8 calories; 70% calories from fat; 4.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 176.0mg sodium; 25.0mg potassium; 4.2g carbohydrates; 0.1g fiber; 2.2g sugar; 4.0g net carbs; 0.1g protein; 1.5 points.

The recipe is the same except for the following changes:

1.) For the oil, use 3 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil;
2.) Use only 1 tablespoon of brown sugar; 
3.) Use Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar instead of the Fig variety; 
4.) Use 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar instead of the rice or cider vinegar.


Italian Seitan Pot Roast (can be made in the oven or in a slow-cooker):

Spiedini Sandwiches made with Field Roast Grain Meatballs (from the ongoing Field Roast cookbook I'm working on):

Spiedini are skewered, browned Italian "meatballs"

For sandwiches, they are browned and served on crusty rolls (I only had baguettes cut in 8" lengths) and topped with a tasty tomato sauce. They were pretty filling-- we ate them open-face.


Thursday, October 23, 2008


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I'm really liking the combination of chard and winter squash right now. They really complement each other, in both color and flavor, and they happen to be plentiful, locally, right now. I made the following recipe for lunch yesterday-- so easy to make and it's a whole meal in itself! It also gave me a chance to use some of my homemade smoked tofu. (But you can use any good commercial brand, if that's not possible.)

Printable Recipe

Servings: 4
For the winter squash, you can use any "meaty" orange-fleshed winter squash, such as butternut, Hubbard or kabocha.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz smoked tofu, in small cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups vegan chicken-y broth (such as better Than Bouillon Vegan No-Chicken broth paste)
1 lb orange winter squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes ( about 3 cups)
1 small bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, thinly sliced (4-5 cups sliced)
8 oz whole wheat penne, rigatoni or fusilli
3/4 cup Bryanna's Vegan Bechamel Sauce (you can make it without the fat if you want)
1/2 cup vegan parmesan (our favorite is G0 Vegan! or this yummy homemade version)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Put a large pot of water on to boil for cooking pasta.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the smoked tofu to the pan, along with the broth and squash, and bring it to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chard and stir to mix in thoroughly. Cover and cook until the squash and chard are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook thepasta until just tender, about 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain it and add the squash mixture in the skillet, along with the Parmesan sub, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to mix.

Serve hot with more Parmesan sub on the side.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
558.2 calories; 8% calories from fat; 5.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 546.3mg sodium; 740.8mg potassium; 104.4g carbohydrates; 9.8g fiber; 4.1g sugar; 94.6g net carbs; 23.0g protein; 10.8 points.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


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(Not familiar with smoked tofu? Check out this post. It includes updated info on available commercial brands.)

Last year, one of my readers very kindly gifted me with a Cameron stovetop smoker:

This handy-dandy Cameron stovetop smoker, which comes in two sizes, is so easy to use! It comes with little wood chips of a few varieties. You sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons in the bottom of the smoker, cover that with the tray, and then add the food rack. You place the food on the rack, slide the cover in place and put it on your stove burner over medium heat. Foods take from 10 to 30 minutes to smoke, depending on how cooked and how smokey you want it. You can smoke eggplant, peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, and many other vegetables as well as tofu.

You can download the Cameron smoker instruction manual here. There are no instructions for smoking plant-based foods, but amazon has the book "Smokin' ", which was written for using the Cameron Stovetop Smoker. Despite the emphasis on meats, there are veggie recipes in it. Amazon has many other books on smoking, too. There are some smoked veggie instructions here.)

The Cameron stovetop smoker is available many places online-- just "google" it!   (If you are a really serious smoker, Cameron makes a larger electrically-heated "Smoke'n'Fold" portable smoker.  It's still pretty inexpensive and has 4 racks, but is only 27.5" high, 16" wide and 12.5" deep, all stainless steel. Hmmmm....)

This smoker has been a great boon to me because I LOVE smoked tofu! Soya Nova Tofu has been making great smoked tofu on Salt Spring Island, near us, for years, and it is fabulous, but a little pricey, so I looked into making my own.

I had devised a recipe for tea-smoked tofu, a Chinese invention, for one of my newsletters, and it was tasty, but I've been working on a way to make my homemade smoked tofu taste more like the Soya Nova brand.

This time, I purchased super-firm tofu. I got Sunrise Soyganic Organic Super-Firm Tofu, but a number of brands carry that variety-- Wildwood, Nasoya, Nature's Soy, Pete's Tofu...

I marinated it overnight in a mixture of 2 parts soy sauce (use Kikkoman Lite, which is low-sodium, if you wish), 2 parts dark sesame oil, and 1/2 to 1 part maple syrup (you could use brown sugar mixed with water instead). You have to cover the tofu (I cut the cubes in half) with the marinade, but you can refrigerate leftover marinade in a covered jar and re-use it. It will keep for several weeks.

Then I smoked it with hickory wood chips for about 30 minutes, turning them over half-way through. It is really good! I just eat it plain, or in a sandwich , or on a cracker (chutney's good with it!). Mmm-mmm-mm!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


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What is Vegan MoFo? Click here to find out!

Some of you may be familiar with the no-knead bread revolution, and my own small experiments. I've been wanting to try making it with only sourdough starter-- no yeast-- but haven't had time lately. However, a few days ago, I planned ahead and gave it a shot. The results were not bad, but it still needs work.

Why sourdough? Well, I've known for a long time that sourdough breads have a better glycemic index rating than yeasted breads-- good news for diabetics and people who need to lose weight. Recently there was a small study that showed positive blood sugar responses to sourdough bread-- even white bread! And, these responses stayed with the body for quite some time.

Even though it's nice to know that a white sourdough bread can be a good thing, I still like the idea of adding some wholewheat flour for fiber and other nutrients.

I got out my two sourdough starters-- my San-Francisco-style soy yogurt starter and my Carl Griffith's Oregon Trail starter-- and refreshed them, and then made two batters with them.

Bubbly sourdough batter

I didn't figure the percentage of water to flour-- I just adapted my no-knead recipe according to my experience. But, next time I'll be more scientific. My starters were less liquidy than I thought they were, so I had to do some fast-footwork, and, in the end, I wound up with doughs that were a bit too stiff.

With Carl's starter, I used a large amount of white starter and added wholewheat flour. But it ended up being mostly white. With the San Francisco starter, I added more wholewheat.

I mixed the doughs and shaped the loaves and set them to rise as in this recipe, swathed in clean large white plastic bags.

I made 2 loaves out of the more wholegrain dough, and one larger one for the mostly white one.

I rose them at room temperature for 5 hours, and then refrigerated them for 12 hours-- timing them so that they would bake first thing the next morning. I really don't think that sourdough will react well to many days in the refrigerator, as the yeast dough does. Correct me if I'm wrong! That's why I only refrigerated the loaves for 12 hours and why I formed them before the refrigerator rise.

I took the risen loaves out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature while I heated the covered, heavy pans I was using in the oven at 457 degrees F for 30 minutes. I used two different sizes of enamelled cast iron pots, and one large clay baker-- the clay baker soaked in hot water for 15 minutes before placing in a cold oven. Then I baked them as per my yeast recipe, but they didn't need the extra 15 minutes with the lids off.

They came out nice and crusty, and very tasty, but didn't have big holes in the crumb. I think that's because the dough was not wet enough.

One of the more whole grain loaves

The whiter loaf


Monday, October 20, 2008


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What is Vegan MoFo? Click here to find out!

Vegan Cocoa-Pecan Meringue Cookies!

Another great product from Alice at Angel Food, Ltd. in New Zealand! I wrote about Alice's vegan marshmallow kit in a previous post. I'm not a great marshmallow fan, but they were easy to make, came out just great, and made tons!

Alice's new kit is for making crispy meringue cookies, something I can appreciate much more than marshmallows! I've had the kit for some time and just yesterday got around to trying them. I just made a small batch-- about 1/4 of the box-- and I felt like a little chocolate and nuts, so I added some of both to the mix (Alice said that was okay!).

It's easy-- the directions are right on the package for making 24 cookies. To that recipe I added:
1/8 tsp. salt (added to sugar mixture)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (added at end of mixing)
2/3 cup finely-minced toasted pecans (added at end of mixing0
1 teaspoon vanilla (added to the water)

The recipe calls for caster sugar, or super-fine sugar (not powdered). I didn't have any, so I ground light organic granulated sugar in a spice/coffee mill:

I measured the sugar AFTER grinding it. This worked very well.

First you beat water with a 2 tablespoons from sachet A:

It whips up to soft peaks.

Then you add a dry mixture of the sugar (3/4 cup) and 2 1/2 teaspoons from sachet B (and I added the salt). Wow! It sure looks like meringue!

If you are making plain meringues, you bake them at this point. But I added my cocoa and nuts first and just beat to mix them well:

Gooey, thick meringue mixture (the cocoa shows up more when the meringues are baked, BTW):

Then you spoon or pipe (I spooned) the gooey mixture onto a baking-parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 212 degrees F (100 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, or until crispy.

I made 16 larger cookies, and I had to bake them for 50 minutes, and then let them dry out in the oven (turned off) for about 10 more minutes before removing them to a rack to cool. They turned out really well and would go well with vegan ice cream or fruit.

Alice gives you some suggestions for variations, and you can find more by looking up meringue cookies on the Internet. I found an interesting version made with pecans (as above, but no cocoa), the cookies made rather flat, and then sandwiched with strawberry sauce and whipped cream (vegans can use Soyatoo)-- sounds like a winner to me!

The box makes about 100 small vegan meringues, so, for under $7 US, that's not bad! The mix is available in the US (online) at Food Fight! in Portland, OR; (they ship internationally); and from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe from Atlanta, GA. in Canada (Quebec) now carries it, too.


Friday, October 17, 2008


Best Blog Tips
What is Vegan MoFo? Click here to find out! (BTW, I'm not posting on weekends during Vegan MoFo!)

Have a dialogue with friends to open them up to the idea of going veg or vegan! Here are some resources that might help:

World Food Crisis: Is global meat consumption a major cause?


European Vegetarian Union World Food Day Press Release

Peter Singer on the world food crisis

Meat Means Misery for the World's Hungry

You Call Yourself a Progressive -- But You Still Eat Meat?

A Few More 'Inconvenient Truths'

Is the growing of soy really responsible for massive deforestation in Latin America and elsewhere?

More for everyone if you....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Best Blog Tips
What is Vegan MoFo? Click here to find out!

This was our bi-weekly day to head off the island (to the "Big Island"-- Vancouver Island) and do our shopping and "town" errands, visit my mother, and go out for lunch with her and some friends. "Town" is Courtenay, BC, which has, I believe, a population of about 30,000. We try to go off island with the car only once every two weeks, because of gas and ferry costs, as well as in the interests of conserving energy. (When I go to work two days a week, I "walk on" the ferry and either get a ride with someone on the ferry, or take the bus.)

After doing some shopping at two of the local supermarkets, and doing other errands, we picked up my mom (bringing her a load of books from the library I manage-- about 2 weeks from her 91st birthday, she's still an avid reader) and headed to the nearby town of Comox, only about 5 minutes away from Courtenay. There, we met a couple of friends at The Blackfin Pub and had a congenial lunch.

The Blackfin, overlooking the Comox Harbour

We're lucky in our area to have many restaurants where we can actually have a pleasant vegan entree. We really like the Veggie Burgers at the Blackfin because they have a veggie patty AND a grilled Portobello mushroom together, with lots of veggies, on a wholegrain bun. It's filling and satisfying and juicy! That's what DH had, as usual:

I usually have the burger, too, but opted to try the Cashew Veggie Stir-Fry this time:

I got the "small" size, which was huge! It was pleasantly full of noodles, veggies, cashews and sesame seeds, in a sweetish sauce, which wasn't bad, but there was too much sauce. However, kudos for having a vegan option! And, in a pub at that!

I would say that in almost every restaurant in our area (aside from fast food joints), you can find something vegan that is actually good to eat. Even one of the pizza places has a wholegrain pizza crust and you can get veggie pepperoni on it! For a small city, that's pretty good!

We are also lucky to have good shopping here. There are only a very few items that I have to either order online, or get in Nanaimo or Vancouver.

After lunch, we did our last shopping at the local natural foods store, Edible Island Whole Foods Market on 6th St.

This store has been around for over 20 years and is well-stocked with organic produce (local whenever possible) and many vegan products, in a pleasant atmosphere. We always bump into friends and neighbors in Edible Island!

The refrigerator and freezer section

Looking at the section with cheeses, including vegan cheese like "Sheese"

The "meat subs" section

Some of the large bulk foods section

The produce section

Something more to be thankful for!