Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easy Peasy Vegan Cooking Demonstration

I recently gave a cooking demonstration in anticipation of the pre-launch of my new cookbook, Easy Peasy Vegan Eats:  Healthy Cooking for Busy Peeps.  The event was held in Suffield for the monthly Northern Connecticut Vegetarian Society potluck.  It was so nice to chat with vegan friends I haven't seen in awhile and to make some new connections.

The recipes I prepared are seasonal favorites, both of which are featured in the new cookbook.  The Spring Vegetable Quinoa Salad was surrounded on the plate by a drizzle of Easy Peasy Parsley Pistou, then garnished with sprigs of wild chive and a daffodil form my garden.  It's all about making food as pretty as it is tasty!

My favorite comment of the evening was from an attendee who had come to my presentation a year ago to see me make Cruciferous Vegetable Slaw (another one from the cookbook!).  She came up to me with a huge smile on her face and eagerly told me, "that recipe you made last year changed my life!!  I used to put broccoli and cauliflower in a casserole and bake them with cheese, but now I just shred them and eat them raw in the recipe you gave me.  It's so much easier and quicker to prepare, and SO delicious!" That really made my day!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vegan 101 Cooking Class

It's always a pleasure to teach a class full of students who are eager to learn about vegan food, nutrition, and ethical issues associated with animal agriculture.  I just wrapped up week two of a three-week adult education class called "Vegan 101" held at North Branford High School.  Each week I feature an entree made with a meat substitute plus lots of veggies.

For the first week I prepared a simple Easy Peasy Sesame Tofu with Cremini Mushroom Gravy and Colcannon.  This is my favorite way to prepare tofu: marinated in a bath of tamari and toasted sesame oil, then baked in a hot oven until golden and crispy on the outside.  I always recommend The Bridge organic tofu for this recipe, because it's the best around and no pressing is needed.  And high powered commercial convection ovens  really do the trick when it comes to getting that perfect texture.

The tofu was topped by a luscious gravy reminiscent of Thanksgiving and served along with colcannon, which is a mash of potatoes, kale and scallions.  It's also a sneaky way to get some greens into your diet.  My students loved it, and one woman who had never eaten tofu before said, "This was one of the best meals I've ever eaten... if not THE Best." So nice to hear!

I think we even surpassed that in week two.  The menu consisted of Tempeh "Fish" Cakes with Remoulade, Cruciferous Vegetable Slaw, and Mesclun Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette.  The fish cake recipe needed a little modification since there was a minor accident in the parking lot which resulted in the loss of a green pepper.  This became a lesson in improvisation, which is essential for a good cook.  Because I had broccoli with me for the Slaw recipe, I decided to finely dice some of the stalk as a replacement for chopped green pepper.  Not only was this a success visually, but I think the flavor that was imparted was surprisingly reminiscent of fish, as a couple of students noted.  Now I may just include this modification in the future!

Week three will continue with a lesson on beans and legumes.  All recipes are from my cookbook Easy Peasy Vegan Eats, which should be available to purchase by the last class!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Week's Menu

I've been keeping my fingers crossed for the longest time that the weather will warm up that it's getting really tough to chop my veggies!  Nonetheless, I managed to pull together this early Spring menu for my clients.

Week 1

Baked Tofu with Red & White Quinoa and Broccoli Cauliflower with Cashew Bechamel

Black Bean Confetti Rice Salad

Pan-Fried Tempeh with Cremini Mushroom Gravy, Colcannon and Carrots

Week 2

Black Bean and Fire-Roasted Tomato Chili with Brown Rice

Broccoli Pasta Alfredo with Sauteed Mushroom and Caramelized Onion

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Stew with Cumin Seed and Quinoa

Thursday, March 20, 2014

WTNH-TV "CT Style" Appearance

I returned to the set of WTNH'TV's "CT Style" this morning to tape the cooking segment with Teresa Dufour.  I demonstrated how to make the super easy, super delicious Edamame Black Bean Super Protein Power Salad, which will soon be available in my new cookbook, Easy Peasy Vegan Eats.

This is a quick recipe that comes together in no time, so it's perfect for those who are always busy but want to eat healthily.  Whether you’re looking for a quick supper or an easy dish to bring to a party, this is the perfect recipe.  The ingredient list is short and sweet, yet the finished product packs a punch of flavor, and it looks super pretty, too!  Plus the soy bean is a complete protein, so you’re getting all 9 essential amino acids your body can’t produce.  Enjoy this healthy, tasty meal on its own or tossed with pasta, quinoa, or rice to stretch it even further.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vegan Resolution - Guilford Free Library

I recently gave a lecture and demonstration called "Vegan Resolution" at the Guilford Free Library for people interested in transitioning to a vegan diet.  The class had originally been scheduled at the beginning of February to coincide with New Year's resolutions to eat healthy, but a wallop of a snowstorm caused it to be postponed to later in the month, then another one caused it to be postponed to March.  So, by the time this class rolled around, it hardly felt like the new year, though I think several people in attendance were happy to get a little reboot on their plans to go vegan.

About 35 people gathered for the event, and I gave a slide presentation which offered basic nutrition information that new vegans need to consider such as the 5 nutrients for optimum health (complete protein, calcium, iron, omega-3, B-12, and antioxidants) and the best plant-based sources for them.  I also talked about the many benefits of switching to a plant-based diet - physical health, emotional health, mental health, spiritual health and most important, karmic health.  What you eat affects not just you but everything and everyone around you.  I think this message hit home for many people, particularly when I shared my stories about how my first dog, Lily, saved my life, and how my second dog, Zinny, gave me motivation to persevere even during the most difficult times.  They remind me every day how precious life is, and that I don't want to be complicit in causing the unnecessary suffering of any animal.

After the slide presentation, I shifted gears to a quick food demo and in about 15 minutes made a delicious "Crunchy Cruciferous Vegetable Slaw."  The slaw was dressed with a raw cashew mayo which I also demonstrated how to make.  This was new to most people in the audience, and judging by the response of those coming back for seconds, I'd say it was a hit!  It's a colorful and flavorful salad that's perfect to eat during seasonal transitions when the immune system needs a little boost.

One of my favorite comments from an attendee in response to the question What did you like best about this class? was, "your nice manners, non-judgemental tone, and sharing your personal experience toward better health."  I have to say that, honestly, it is always a challenge not to judge, and to be open-minded to everyone's personal experience.   I try my best to listen and understand before I offer information as guidance.  I felt like it was a huge success when I read this comment.

Thank you to all who attended this presentation!  I hope to continue to see you on your vegan journey.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

This Week's Menu

The theme for this week is Hardy Har Har... as in, meals that are hardy and satisfying.  With another snowstorm in the forecast, nothing beats comfort foods like soups, stews, and my favorite, mashed potatoes to combat the dreariness.  Menus like this are what help me make it through the winter!

Week One 

Tripe Green Tempeh with Brown Rice

Maple Glazed Baked Acorn Squash with Lentils and Sauteed Kale

Southwestern Tofu Scramble, Salsa, and Paprika Homefried Potatoes

Bowl of Butternut Chickpea Stew

Bowl of Indonesian Gado-Gado over Brown Rice

Week Two

Deconstructed Tempeh Reuben, Stone Ground Mustard, Sauerkraut, Mashed Potatoes, and Kale & Shallot Sautee

Indonesian Gado-Gado over Brown Rice

Butternut Chickpea Stew Seasoned with Toasted Cumin Seeds and Quinoa