Meatless Mondays and What YOU Can Do To Curb Global Warming

On March 21, 2012 in Purchase, N.Y., the weather was an unseasonably warm 80 degrees – 20 degrees above the average temperature for New York in March, which is 60 degrees. The weather this spring has been beautiful so far this spring, but there’s an ominous feeling behind all the sunshine and warmth.

Below, you can see a video of Purchase students enjoying the warmth and reflecting on global warming.

“It does concern me about what’s going to happen in July,” said Samantha Yergo, a senior at Purchase who was sunbathing on the lawn at Alumni Village.

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Vegan Baking Substitutes, Onion Rings, And How PETA Is Sometimes Helpful

I’m still pretty new to vegan cooking, so my mind was blown when I found this cheat-sheet of egg and dairy substitutes on Bliss Tree. It comes from PETA, whose politics I don’t always agree with (thanks for the graphic of the baby chick crying), but this thing is seriously helpful in the kitchen. I experimented with it this weekend and cooked something I’ve been wanting to make for a while. . .

Vegan onion rings! (Recipe below the fold.)

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Quick and Easy Vegan Pasta #2 – Spinach and Chickpeas

Today’s recipe is another delicious variation on one of my favorite dishes: pasta with fresh vegetables. There’s a million ways to make it, and the pasta and vegetables lend each other flavor. It’s super easy to boil pasta and sautee vegetables, and in the long run it’s cheaper and healthier than buying jars of over-salted pre-made sauce.

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Total preparation and cook time: 40 minutes to an hour.

Serves: 3 people.

Nutritional facts: chickpeas are very high in protein: half a cup contains 7.5 grams, which mostly satisfies the 8 grams the average person should eat per day. (Combating the myth that it’s hard for vegans and vegetarians to eat enough protein.) Spinach is very high in iron and other nutrients, and the whole meal is very low in calories, except for the pasta. If you’re on a diet, just adjust the ratio of the recipe to include more chickpeas and less pasta.

A note on canned versus dried chickpeas: I personally prefer dried chickpeas because 1), you can cook them to your desired level of tenderness, and 2), they take up less space than cans, and on a pound-by-pound basis you get more bang for your buck. That said, it will take at least 45 minutes to get them soft enough to eat, so if you’re in a rush then canned might be the way to go.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried chickpeas, or 1 lb can of chickpeas.

3 ozs of fresh spinach, rinsed well.

1/2 a box of pasta.

3 cloves of garlic, minced.

1-2 tablespoons of oil.

Salt and pepper.

 

Preparation: 

  1. If you’re preparing this in advance and using dried chickpeas, soak them for as long as possible (aim for 6-8 hours). This step isn’t necessary, it just means you can boil them for less time.
  2. If using canned chickpeas, discard packing water and rinse. Put in a bowl.
  3. Peel and mince the garlic.
  4. Rinse the spinach carefully.
 

Cooking:

1. For dried chickpeas, boil a pot of water and add a spoonful of salt. Once the water is boiling, add the chickpeas, then lower the heat to a steady boil and cover, stirring every 10 minutes. Your cooking time will vary depending on whether you’ve soaked them in advance, and how tender you want them to be. If soaked overnight, 10-20 minutes is probably enough time. If you’re starting from completely dried chickpeas, aim for 40 minutes to an hour. Then remove to a bowl once cooked.

2. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until soft, then drain and remove to a bowl.

3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan on medium low heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until browned.

4. Add slightly wet spinach to pan, and slightly lower heat. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. In a bowl, combine pasta with chickpeas and spinach. Toss, then eat!

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SUNY Purchase Vegetarians Talk Food On Campus

A recent PETA2 contest ranked SUNY Purchase the fifth most vegetarian-friendly campus in America, citing Terra Ve, the all-vegetarian eating facility on campus. But how much does Terra Ve actually improve the vegan and vegetarian experience on campus when it is closed on weekends and only open until 8 p.m. on weekdays?

I interviewed three SUNY Purchase students who follow a vegetarian (or mostly vegetarian) diet about the options provided by Chartwells. Here’s what they thought.

Melissa Spafford is hosting a documentary screening at the Stood later this month to promote Meatless Monday on campus.  From the Facebook page: “It is a movie focusing on diet and nutrition.. and vegan food will be served!” It will be shown on Monday March 26 at 4:30 p.m., and again at 6:45 p.m. For more info, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/254093734677232/

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Happy Purim! – Vegan Hamantaschen

This morning, a trending topic on Twitter informed me that today was Purim (bad Jew). I, of course, rushed to find a vegan recipe for hamantashen!!! (Everyone’s favorite once-a-year cookie.)

They were easier to make than I thought they would be (took about 30 minutes), and they turned out to be surprisingly sturdy despite the fact that the recipe didn’t call for any egg substitute! I learned that you’re supposed to make really sure that all sides of the dough are evenly holding in the jelly before you put them in the oven though – they leaked a bit, which is why some of the cookies pictured above are messy. They taste just as good though! And while hamantashen are traditionally triangular, after the hat of their namesake, I’m pretty bad at sculpting things so I opted for triangular-ish.

Here’s the recipe I adapted from this web site. They had a recipe for about 24 cookies, which I halved to make about 12 cookies.

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 and a 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
dash of salt
1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dash of soy milk, if you have it, to smooth out the batter. (If you don’t have any, water will work as well.)

Some type of jam for filling.

Preparation: (10-15 minutes)

In a large bowl, beat flour, baking powder, salt, margarine, sugar, water, and vanilla. Add a small amount of soy milk or water if necessary to smooth.

Chill overnight (if you want to skip this step, go ahead)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Baking: (10-15 minutes)

Roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness. Cut out 3″ circles with cookie cutters.

(I forgot to do this, but you should also space them out so they don’t spread into each other.)

Place spoonfuls of desired filling (any kind of jam or jelly) into center of each circle and fold into triangular shape.

Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Baking time may vary depending on your oven.

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Vegans On Marmite: Four Reasons to Try It, Three Reasons Not

A few months ago, I was in my kitchen, preparing veggie meat balls. One of my roommates examined the Textured Vegetable Protein suspiciously. “What does it taste like?” she wanted to know.

I shrugged. “I’m vegetarian. I try not to taste what I eat.”

When you’re a vegan, sometimes you might find yourself swallowing something you don’t particularly like, whether it’s tofu or meatless balls. Still, most flavors can be hidden by seasoning well, or cooking with other things. However, there’s one food whose flavor is so strong it cannot be masked: Marmite.

If you’re not British, you might not be familiar with Marmite. It is a yeast extract solidified into paste, with a pungent smell and powerful taste. It’s not for everyone, clearly. Here are three reasons to try it (and three reasons not to):

1. Get more vitamin B

Marmite is packed with Vitamin B, especially vitman B12, one nutrient that often eludes the vegan diet. There are some vegan foods that are enriched with vitamin B12, like soy yogurt, but the effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency include permanent nerve and hearing damage, so if you can stand the taste…

2. It’s cheap.

A small jar like the one pictured above only costs about $4, and once opened it doesn’t go bad, and doesn’t require refrigeration. Plus, it’s low in calories and high in protein and goes great on bread, so it makes the perfect meal for a vegan on a budget.

3. You might grow to like the sharp, salty taste.

Try spreading a little Marmite on bread in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – it’s an acquired taste, but the Marmite might make an otherwise boring snack into a new thing.

4. Be more British.

Why not to try it:

1. The taste.

Tonight, I tried feeding a Marmite, peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a member of the uninitiated. He said that it tasted like something that was trying really hard to be food but didn’t quite make it, and that it was a little like eating a spoonful of pure vinegar.

2. The salt.

Marmite is high in sodium, enough to get it banned from the breakfast menu of schools in Wales, according to the BBC.

3. Get vitamin B12 from a vitamin instead.

Just make sure to get a brand of vitamins that uses vegetarian cellulose capsules, not gelatin.

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Veganize Your Breakfast: Fried Potatoes and Mushroom Tofu Scramble

This week, I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes for making potatoes, from Jeanne Lemlin’s book Simple Vegetarian Pleasures, and an idea for how to cook tofu. One of the big challenges of tofu is making it taste like things. One way to do that is to sneak it into food by masking it with other vegetables and flavorings. I love cooking tofu and mushrooms together, because the mushrooms have a strong aromatic taste that the tofu absorbs.

Nutritional Facts: Tofu is very filling, as well as being low in fat and cholesterol, and a great source of calcium and manganese. Potatoes are another good low-fat protein-rich food; they contain a complete protein. True vegans can add a multivitamin or some bread with marmite and jam to your breakfast to start off the day with your complete dose of vitamin B12.

Total Preparation and Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 3-4 people.

Ingredients:

Fried Potatoes

My roommate abandoned some steamed carrots this week, so those are going in too.

2 medium-sized potatoes

3-4 gloves of garlic

3-4 tablespoons of olive or peanut oil

Mushrooms and Tofu

1 lb of firm tofu

1 package of fresh mushrooms, any kind

1 shallot or onion

2 cloves of garlic

seasonings (optional): Adobo, dried or fresh cilantro, granulated garlic, salt & pepper

Preparation (20 minutes)

Wash the potatoes very well. (The skin is high in nutrients, so leave it on instead of peeling it.) Chop the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.

Chop 3-4 cloves for the potatoes. Mince 2 cloves of garlic for the tofu.

(To save time, you can skip ahead and start frying the potatoes while you chop the veggies for the tofu.)

Pat the tofu dry. Discard packing water. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. 

Peel the onion or shallot and cut into fine slices.

Wash the mushrooms well, and chop into fine slices.

If you’re planning to add any other vegetables to the tofu, steam or boil them ahead of time.

Cooking the Potatoes: 20 minutes

1. Fill a pan with a few tablespoons of oil and turn the temperature on medium-high. Wait for it to heat up a little, then put in the potatoes. Cook for ten minutes, or until potatoes are soft throughout, while stirring about every two minutes to avoid potatoes sticking (if the potatoes stick a lot, add more oil).

2. When the potatoes are soft, add the garlic and lower the flame to medium-low. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the garlic is slightly browned.

3. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a plate.

Cooking the tofu (20 minutes):

1. Add some oil to the pan, and turn the flame on medium-high heat. Add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Lower the flame slightly. Add the garlic and tofu to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until garlic is slightly browned.

3. Add the mushrooms. Lower the flame. Season to taste – I used a spoonful of Adobo, some dried cilantro, and salt and pepper. (If you’re using steamed carrots or any other already-cooked vegetables, put them in now.)

4. Simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender. Remove to plate.

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