Archive for category vegan/ vegetarian

VEGAN dish: summer squash, potato, black bean casserole

2013-08-09 13.52.32

this is super easy and delicious.


olive oil
nutritional yeast
dill, thyme (herbs that you favor)
2-3 summer squash
2-3 zucchini
2 medium white or red onions
3 medium sweet potatoes or 4 small regular potatoes
2 cups black beans, cooked

I put olive oil at the bottom of a baking pan and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

slice 2-3 summer squash in rounds and then halve those rounds as desired.

slice 2-3 zucchini as you did the summer squash.

cut 3-4 sweet potatoes or regular potatoes in rounds or chunky pieces.

cut the onions in chunky pieces and add in.

put the black beans on top.

sprinkle on some thyme or dill and nutritional yeast plus a touch more olive oil.

cook for about 45 minutes until everything soft when you poke with a fork.

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book review: Vegan for Her

vegan for her

Vegan for Her by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD. Publisher: Da Capo Press/ Lifelong Books (2013). Health and Fitness/ Diets. Softcover. 382 pages. ISBN 978-0-7382-1671-3.

Useful information for vegans and those transitioning to or considering a vegan diet. Well-organized and addresses life stages and health issues that most concern women.


Part One: Going Vegan

Part Two: Healthy Eating for All the Times of a Woman’s Life
–includes diet and hormones, enhancing fertility, nutrition for pregnancy and breastfeeding and the female vegan athlete

Part Three: Lifelong Health for Vegan Women
–includes aging, weight issues, controlling diabetes, strong heart and managing stress and depression

Part Four: Recipes

Useful information I culled from this book:

“Higher intake of fruits and vegetables might also help vegans avoid weight gain. These foods have bulk and volume because of their fiber and water content, which contributes to a feeling of fullness. Their rich phytochemical content could help with weight control, too. For example, the compound resveratrol, which is found in red grapes, grape juice, red wine, and peanuts, might increase activity of enzymes that induce fat breakdown.”

“Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables might aid in skin protection because they actually accumulate in the skin. Lycopene found in tomatoes is one of them, which may explain why consuming tomato paste can actually reduce sunburn damage.”

“Two compounds in plant foods—lutein and zeaxanthin—are especially protective against age-related eye problems. They are actually pigments that accumulate in the eye and filter out harmful ultraviolet light. Spinach, broccoli, kale, and corn are good sources of both.”

–Nutrients for strong bones–
Calcium—collard and turnip greens, kale, bok choy, figs, tahini
Vitamin D—sunlight, 600-1000 IUs of vit D
Protein—legumes, grains, nuts, seeds
Vitamin K—leafy green vegetables (fat enhances absorption of vit K so sauté in oil)
Vitamin C—fruits and veggies
Potassium—legumes, avocado, beet greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, bananas
Magnesium—whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables

Depression treatment
–stress and depression in women has been linked to inflammation
–vitamin D has been shown to improve depression
–Vitamin B6 is needed for the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin (low serotonin levels have been implicated in depression). Vegans get plenty of B6 through diet sources such as bananas, avocado, potatoes, leafy green vegetables and soyfoods.
–Vitamin B12 is needed for nerve cell function and inadequate intake leads to neurological problems including cognitive decline and depression. Vegans need a supplement of 25 mcg daily.

RATING: ****/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Da Capo Press.

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cookbook review: Lust for Leaf


Lust for Leaf by Alex Brown and Evan George. Publisher: Da Capo (2013).
Cookbook. Vegetarian & Vegan. 123 pages. 978-0738216973.

Beautiful cookbook devoted to vegetarian and vegan recipes for cook-outs, potlucks, picnics and “ragers.” The perfect cookbook for the social butterfly, frequent meetup goer or someone with a large family. Two guy with lots of cool ideas. Fun, easy-going tone. Before each recipe there’s a lot of explanation and contemplation. Each recipe gets paired with a tasty beverage and soundtrack selections. Examples: Oyster Po’ Boys: beverage—Brewdog, Toyko; Soundtrack—“Rebel, Rebel” by David Bowie. Mushroom Ceviche: beverage—Firestone Walker Pale, 31; Soundtrack—“Los Angeles” by Frank Black. Succotash “Stew:” beverage—North Coast, Prankster; Soundtrack—“Draw Your Breaks” by Scotty.

There’s a recipe for HK Dogs made with almonds, tofu and wheat gluten. “The idea that anyone would miss eating pet food-grade meat shoved in casing seems, frankly, insane. Now the feel of balancing a baby-soft seeded bun in one hand and that whiff of yellow mustard zig-zagging under your nose like a drunk driver’s skid marks—that we’ve craved.” Corn Porn is the vegan version of a Frito Pie with corn chips on the bottom, corn chile in the middle and a yummy salad on top. [“Alex grew up on the stuff and Evan’s an easy covert to anything involving the Frito, which with its three ingredients (corn, salt, corn oil) is vegan and relatively crap-free”]. Kaleslaw looks yummy and relatively easy.

The negative: I don’t have a steamer to make the HK Dogs. Some obscure ingredients. They do provide substitutes.

I’ll definitely try: Sunstroke Salad; Pea Pod Pesto; Pickle Jar Potato Salad; Kaleslaw; Falafel Salad

the authors: Alex Brown manages Gourmet Imports and is craft beer and cheese connoisseur. Evan George is a journalist and works as a producer at public radio station KCRW in Santa Monica.

Sections: Potlatches; Bro-tein; Pizza Pool Party; Wild Grub; Sweets; Taco Zone; BBQ Mosh Pit.

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Entertainment Realm’s 10 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2012

the lean

1. The Lean by Kathy Freston [Weinstein Books]
–Despite already being a vegan, this gave me tons of wonderful tips. I continue to use it as a reference. Freston writes in such a friendly, useful, refreshing style. I recommend this to anyone who would like to pursue a vegan/ plant-based diet. Freston’s goal is to change our our relationship with food and to make us feel better, be energetic and healthy by consuming a plant-based diet.


2. Guts by Kristen Johnston [Gallery Books]
–honest, self-deprecating and wonderful. What differentiates this memoir from other celebrity memoirs is that Johnston doesn’t consider herself a celebrity [she refers to herself as a B-list celebrity] but a hard-working actress and acting teacher. She gets dirty and detailed particularly when she describes the destruction drugs caused to her digestive system.

charlotte au chocolat

3. Charlotte au Chocolat: Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood by Charlotte Silver [Riverhead]
–if you ever ate at Upstairs on the Square this is a must-read. it’s a sweet restaurant behind the scenes. although sometimes I wonder how a child could have such clear memories.


4. I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern [IT Books]
–simultaneously funny and poignant. sweet.

lizz free

5. Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead [Riverhead]
–a collection of essays about family, friends and Winstead’s journey in her chosen career in the comedy world: both in stand-up and in television and radio. She’s a pioneer with her irreverent ideas and approach. She’s a leader and role model. She’s a tireless advocate for women’s rights. The essays are poignant, humorous, enlightening and insightful.


6. Agorafabulous by Sara Benincasa [William Morrow]
—- an honest and heartfelt recollection of Benincasa’s experiences with anxiety in college and her early twenties. She writes about her recovery and maintenance through meds, therapy, meditation and a support system of friends and family. provides relatable circumstances while addressing serious mental health concerns with flair and compassion.


7. loose diamonds by Amy Ephron [William Morrow]
–delightful collection of essays with deft observations about a multitude of subjects including her childhood, her mother, giving birth, fancy shoes, shopping (particularly at Saks), affairs, flying, her first marriage, divorce and her second marriage. She loses things—sometimes objects, sometimes relationships, sometimes emotional states– and through heartfelt, witty, insightful and clever means, she explains to the reader how she’s learned from those losses. It’s a sparkling memoir.


8. Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton [DaCapo, 2012]
–user-friendly, family-friendly positive cookbook with recipes that appeal to all age ranges and varied palates. straightforward recipes with“Kid Friendly” and “Adult Minded” tips on certain recipes to make them more appealing for whomever you’re serving. an entire section devoted to veggie burgers.

falling for eli

9. Falling for Eli by Nancy Shulins [DaCapo]

smart girl's guide to gspot

10. The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot by Violet Blue [Cleis Press]
–everyone woman needs to know this!

Shop Indie Bookstores

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VEGAN EATS: summer casserole and salad

Nana’s Tomato and Summer Squash Casserole

my grandmother used to make this for me. instead of Parmesan cheese, I put nutritional yeast on top. baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. layered summer squash and tomato slices. put some Earth Balance margarine and nutritional yeast on top. covered with tin foil and baked in oven.

Chickpea/ Couscous/ Fresh Veggies Salad

super easy and yummy. cook couscous. add grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumber and chickpeas. I add poppy dressing but any dressing works.

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cookbook review: Grilling Vegan Style

Grilling Vegan Style by John Schlimm. Publisher: Da Capo Press (May 15, 2012). Cooking. Paperback. 240 pages. 978-0738215723.

When people [including me] think grilling, they think about throwing meat on a grill, charring it and throwing it on a bun. When Grilling Vegan Style arrived in the mail, the mouth-watering, creative recipes instantly delighted me. Fruit and veggies and seitan on the grill. Delicious! Now I need to buy a grill.

The lovely, appetizing food pictures make this cookery book one you just might put on your coffee table. Mouth-watering items such as pasta salad with grilled summer vegetables, Italian Herb burgers on Focaccia, Mexican Tortilla Burger and Maple-Soy Tempeh over rice. Then there are drinks like Sassy Sangria, Mojito Mojo and Sweet Tea. For dessert there’s Grilled Peaches with Raspberry Sauce, Fruity Kebabs Brushed with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon and Mint as well as Grilled Pineapple Rings with Sorbet. Of course there are plenty of marinades and delicious sauces. There’s something for everyone’s palate in this cookbook.

It’s organized quite well with sections that include: The Basics of Firing Up; Flame Meets Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh and more; Backyard Bites; Summertime Salads; Fired-Up Sides; Tapas on the Deck; Country Marinades for Tofu, Tempeh & Seitan; The Burgers are Ready; New Tailgating Classics; Supper Under the Stars; Picnic Desserts; Grillside Happy Hour. The index organizes by recipes as well as food items. So you can find nearly everything you’d like.

Not only is author John Schlimm a member of one of the oldest brewing companies in the United States, he holds a master’s degree from Harvard.

–review by Amy Steele

purchase at Amazon: Grilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard BBQ

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book review: The Lean

The Lean by Kathy Freston. Publisher: Weinstein Books (March 2012). Health/nutrition. Hardcover. 352 pages. 978-1602861732.

Eating consciously, moving your body, and doing inner work puts you on track with that evolutionary impulse to transcend who you were before and be your very best.

I have a girl crush on Kathy Freston. She’s a smart, beautiful vegan so it’s relatively easy. Her latest book, The Lean, provides a 30-Day plan for anyone to ease into better nutritional and a healthy lifestyle. This is all about a plant-based diet. A vegan diet. There’s nothing scary about it and Freston doesn’t shock anyone into it. By providing an assignment each day, the reader can see how s/he feels after doing whatever Freston suggests. Some are easy—drink eight glasses of water, eat a hearty breakfast, eat an apple each day—and some aren’t that easy for some people—eat a meatless lunch, add flax, swap out milk for non-dairy version, reduce/eliminate sugar.

Freston provides ample suggestions and encouragement throughout The Lean. She includes delicious recipes to make it much simpler to follow this plan. The Lean reveals a plethora of facts about various foods [one apple gives you an average of 4.4 grams of fiber], how food works in our systems and where food comes from. The appendix contains suggestions on what to keep in the pantry to keeping costs down to a list of resources.

I consider myself 90% vegan. An ongoing struggle involves eliminating sugar. I use cane sugar and sometimes agave and sometimes Stevia but it’s not good enough and I know it. But I’m aware of it and working on it. I will also eat small amounts of cheese if I’m out somewhere and it’s on a salad. Freston’s goal is to change our thinking and our relationship toward food. She wants us to feel better and be energetic and healthy by consuming a plant-based diet. It’s such a great book. Everyone needs to read The Lean.

A few interesting bits:

Apples not only have antimutagenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects, but they may even enhance our immune systems to help clear out any budding tumors before they get their start.

Nuts appear to boost our metabolism, meaning when we eat nuts we burn more of our own fat to compensate.

When you consume a lot of meat, your body produces an excess of uric acid. Uric acid is a waste product in the liver’s metabolism of DNA, and when you eat too much meat, your body isn’t able to eliminate it.” [I think this is the source of smelly guys at the gym.]

Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and a good source of protein.

A few years ago I discovered a supplement called nopal cactus, which is said to support lower blood sugar and take sugar cravings away.

purchase at Amazon: The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss

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cookbook review: Let Them Eat Vegan!

Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton. Publisher: Da Capo (March 2012).
Cookbook. Health/Diet. 288 pages. 978-0738215617.

User-friendly, family friendly positive cookbook with recipes that should appeal to all age ranges and varied palates. Pretty straightforward recipes. She includes “Kid Friendly” and “Adult Minded” tips on certain recipes to make them more appealing for whomever you’re serving. As Dreena Burton is a stay-at-home-mom of several children there are lots of recipes that appeal to kids. “Cheesy” things. Finger foods. Bonus for an entire section devoted to veggie burgers.

The negative: I don’t have a lot of the necessary ingredients on hand. My go-to cookbook VEGANIMICON tends to use ingredients in its recipes which I have or can get pretty easily. Something like chia seeds or agar powder isn’t found at the grocery store.

I made Boulangerie beans and potatoes. White beans with thinly sliced potatoes layered on top, covered with vegetable broth (I used butternut squash soup because I had some around I wanted to use). It’s a different way to make potatoes. Yummy.

I’ll definitely try tapioca pudding, Quinoa Nicoise salad, “No-fu Love Loaf,” Mediterranean Bean Burgers, Wonder Bean Puree and White Bean Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce.

Sections: Breakfasts Bites and Smoothies; Salads That Make a Meal; Proud to Be Saucy and Dippy; Vegan Soup for the Soul; Side Stars; Your Main Squeeze; Casseroles, One-Pot Wonders, and Tarts; When Burgers Get Better; Good Pasta Belongs on a Plate—Not the Wall; C Is for Cookie, That’s Good Enough for Me; Let Them Eat Cakes, Pies, and Puddings; Dreena Dazs (ice cream)


purchase at Amazon: Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family

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cookbook review: Alternative Vegan

Alternative Vegan, by Dino Weierman. Publisher: PM Press (2012).
Cookbook. 142 pg.

One of my favorite Simpsons scenes finds Marge and Homer at some vegetarian friends home. Chickpeas and something is the answer every time the Indian couple gets asked what’s in a dish. I love chickpeas. I love lentils. And quinoa and kale and tomatoes and cauliflower. In this cookbook, chef Dino Weierman shares recipes for what he calls “international vegan fare.”

He remains chatty throughout and says things such as:

Veganism is a moral stance. It’s a political statement. At its core, it states unabashedly that the exploitation of animals is wrong.”

Veganism is not a diet. . . It’s understanding that your “choice” to use animals means that you deny the animals’ choice in their own lives.

Sections on kitchen tools; cooking techniques; meals in one pot; basic dishes; more complex; sauce; dished to impress and easy peasy

I made some Simple Spiced Cauliflower. Curry. Yummy. New way to prep cauliflower.

The potato rounds are super simple too.

Will make the more difficult biryani and try the Quick Chickpea Soup. Usually I don’t follow a recipe to make a salad but often I copy something I ate in a restaurant [the Mediterranean salad from John Harvard’s Brew House or the Waldorf salad from Not Your Average Joe’s for example]. His Palm Hearts salad sounds quite delicious and I intend to make it soon.

Dino’s website

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cookbook review: New American Vegan

New American Vegan , by Vincent J. Guihan. Publisher: PM Press (2011). Vegan cookbook. Paperback, 225 pg.

“Cows, chickens, sheep, pigs, bees, and other animals have nerves, memories, fears, wants, and interests just like cats and dogs—just like you and I do.”

New American Vegan opens with a very thoughtful and thorough introduction on being vegan and why author Vincent Guihan went vegan. Guihan has chapters on techniques and tools; soup; sauces; side dishes; sietan & potatoes; desserts. There’s an excellent index at the back of the cookbook.

There is the Best lentil soup recipe EVER—Old-Fashioned Hearty Lentil & Vegetable Soup—I will make this again and again. I’ll also make the Mango Chili with Tahini Cheese & Cilantro as well as the Stick-to-Your-Ribs Yellow Split Pea & Greens soup. Obviously I like to make soup.

Guihan devotes an entire chapter on sauces. “Sauces and dressings are prominent in many cuisines. They both add high points of flavor and color to a dish.” He claims that every vegan has/uses a lot of sauces. Well, not this vegan. I use salad dressing, salsa and stir fry sauce. That’s it. I don’t put sauce on everything I consume. Guess I’m more of a no-frills vegan. I like the taste of most veggies, grains and fruits as it. Maybe a touch of spices.

The recipes are just a bit too wordy for me. Plenty of soup recipes in this cookbook which is a great thing. Many recipes needed too many ingredients or called for something I didn’t have in my pantry. With Veganimicon and The Moosewood Cookbook, I don’t think I’d be grabbing this one too often.

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