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Vegan and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Options

We did an early Thanksgiving with some family members on a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease. If you think a vegan diet is restrictive, you should try feeding a table with vegans, gluten-free, and an 11 year old deathly allergic to tree nuts.

We had mashed potatoes (doctored with Earth Balance and a splash of coconut milk), green beans stir fried with sesame seeds, and fresh cranberry sauce. We also had yams with grated nutmeg and brown sugar. But it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey, stuffing and gravy, so here is how we did it.

Orange Cranberry Tofu with Rice-Mushroom Stuffing


Cranberry Orange Tofu with Rice Stuffing

Most vegan turkey substitutes rely heavily on gluten. We settled for tofu, which is not as chewy as gluten or turkey, but is a blank slate on which you can write your own flavor signature.

Orange Cranberry Marinade

1. Puree 6 garlic cloves and a handful of raw cranberries and add to orange juice, olive oil and apple cider vinegar (the amounts aren’t crucial). Season with salt, black pepper and a seasonal spice of your choosing. I chose coriander.

2. Slice and soak 2 blocks of firm tofu in the marinade.

3. Steam one cup of brown rice in two cups of water.

4. Sautee the rice with safflower oil, tamari, mushrooms, celery, carrots, one onion, and lots of parsley.

5. Put the rice mixture in a baking dish and nest the tofu slices into the rice. Pour the remaining marinade on top.

6. Garnish with raw cranberries and bake at 400 degrees until the top starts to brown.

Recipe for Vegan, Gluten-Free Gravy (Sorry, no pic on this one.)

Well you can’t have Mashed Potatoes at Thanksgiving without gravy. But my normal vegan recipe for gravy is gluten-heavy, with flour and soy sauce. This one was an experiment that turned out to be wildly successful.

Before you begin, puree some mushrooms in olive oil. You will add this to the gravy when you remove it from the saucepan.

1. Save the water from boiling your potatoes!
2. Put three tablespoons of gluten-free flour in a saucepan on medium-low heat.
3. As the flour starts to brown, add 3 tablespoons of Earth Balance Margarine.
4. As the margarine melts, use a fork to thoroughly mix the flour into the margarine, getting rid of all lumps.
5. Gradually add potato water, Braggs Amino Acids or Tamari and stir with a whisk.
6. If it gets too thin, you can add in some corn starch to thicken it back up. But the potato water should be starchy enough to do the trick.
7. Once you have the texture and color you are going for, immediately remove the gravy from the saucepan and add in the mushroom/olive oil puree.

Yams with Grated Nutmeg and Brown Sugar

Thanksgiving yams with nutmeg and brown sugar

Thanksgiving yams with nutmeg and brown sugar

1. Wash and partially peel 2-4 yams.

2. Slice the yams once lengthwise, and then into half-inch-wide horizontal slices.

3. Arrange the yam slices together in a baking dish, tipping them somewhat askew.

4. Grate fresh nutmeg (or sprinkle pre-ground) on top of the yam slices.

5. Dribble olive oil and brown sugar evenly across the potatoes

6. Bake at 400 degrees until you can easily press through a yam slice with a fork.

The verdict? All participants stuffed themselves happily, and no one particularly missed the meat, or the dairy, or even the gluten.

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Review: Emmy’s Vegehouse, Bainbridge Island


Vegetarian Fish Entree from Emmys Vegehouse

Vegetarian Fish Entree at Emmys Vege House

If you ever find yourself hungry on Bainbridge Island (just across the water to the West of downtown Seattle), put Emmy’s Vegehouse on your short list of places to check out. Today for lunch I had the S2 Entree, which is brown rice, stir fried vegetables, and vegetarian “fish” which was surprising and tasty. The fish is a textured and seasoned soy protein, wrapped in seaweed, like sushi, for genuine ocean flavor. My omnivore friend liked it as well, and said it was more like fish than she would have guessed.

It’s primarily a take-out stand, with a few sheltered outdoor tables. The eggless eggrolls and the lotus root salad are also worthy of mention.

On the corner of Winslow Way and Madison Avenue, it’s a convenient and quick way to get your vegan asian food fix while on the island.

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Vegan Boot Camp

“Garden Boots”

Originally uploaded by brezomayo

A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer, and changed her lifestyle radically, including adopting a vegan diet. She asked me for a primer, and I am reprinting it here.

1. You don’t have to replace meat. Just subtract it.
Seriously. This one’s easy. Just remove it from your diet, remove it from your table, from your refrigerator. It is nearly impossible to eat a 2,000 calorie diet without getting enough protein. There is protein in potatoes, in orange juice, in pasta. Vitamin B-12 is the only nutrient lacking in the vegan diet, and there is an easy fix for that, below…

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Top Five things to know about soy

枝豆 (edamame)

Edamame (Fresh boiled soy beans in the pod)

1. Soy has a long history as human food.

Asian people have been eating soy for centuries. They have been boiling it, mashing it, fermenting it, and ingesting considerable amounts of it. No, it will not give breasts to your adolescent boy. It will not devastate your sperm count. It will merely give you some high quality protein and some fiber in your diet.

2. A vegan diet doesn’t have to rely on soy.

To an outsider, a vegan diet seems like it would consist largely of salad and soy. But there are hundreds of beans, nuts and seeds to choose from. Soy is a good entry way food. Because it is a commodity crop for animal feed, it is a cheap ingredient, and there are many meat and dairy analogs made out of soy. And that’s a good thing. Think of them like a Nicorette patch for people wanting to quit meat.

3. Everyone has a soy-based diet

If you eat factory farm dairy and meat, you eat a lot of soy. Possibly tons of it per year. Chickens and cows are not naturally bean eaters, but the American corporate farms stuff chickens and cows full of as much soy as they can ingest because it gets them to market more quickly than just letting them run around in the grass. In addition, soy is a staple for chemically-based food — all that overprocessed stuff at Walmart and the gas station quickie mart. Trans fats, emulsifiers and filler ingredients are often made of soy.

4. If it’s not organic, you shouldn’t eat it.

Soy is one of the most likely foods to be genetically modified. Get the organic stuff, or none at all. That goes ten-fold for meat eaters.

5. Edamame is yummy

Soy’s most natural form is as a fresh bean in a pod. Unless you love Japanese cuisine, you probably haven’t eaten it this way, but it’s worth a trip to your local sushi bar to try a side dish of edamame. Suck the salt off the pod, pop the beans in your mouth and enjoy.

Vegan Stunt Doubles: Easy ways to cut animal consumption

Coconut Blueberry yogurt from Turtle Mountain

Coconut Blueberry yogurt from Turtle Mountain

1. So Delicious Coconut Yogurt

This stuff from Turtle Mountain is pretty new, so I’ve only tried it once. But it’s a good alternative to milk yogurt or for those looking for a change from soy yogurts. Of course, it includes a regular dose of healthy probiotics like acidophilus.

Coconut’s medium chain fatty acids are also in the news for their potential for boosting metabolism and losing weight.

2. Earth Balance spread

There are a lot of butter substitutes out there, but this is the one you want. It doesn’t taste exactly like butter, but it’s really close, and it has a similar melting temperature and texture, which means it bakes much like butter in recipes.

Full of unsaturated and omega-3 fats, Earth Balance spread has lots of good ingredients, and no bad ones.  With no downside, and lots of upside (carbon footprint, health, etc.), there’s no reason not to make the permanent switch.

3. Soy milk for your espresso drink

Coffee is already a beany beverage, so no objections to putting “bean juice” in your coffee, please. Modern soy milk like Silk, or Costco’s Kirkland brand is better for you than “cow juice,” with lower sugar, (yes, it’s true!) no cholesterol, and it creates excellent foam, even for a cappuccino or macchiato. To my palette, soy blends better with coffee, and depending where you shop, it can now be cheaper than organic cow milk, bringing its economic footprint more in line with its environmental footprint.

4. Unbleached sugar

White granulated sugar is white because it has been bleached with charcoal made from bones, usually cow bones. Instead, use raw sugar, unbleached sugar, or turbinado sugar. It has a bit of the “molasses” taste left, so it’s more interesting anyway, and won’t affect most recipes.

5. Veganaise

This is a straight-up replacement for mayonnaise. No downside here, either on texture or flavor. Works great in recipes, too. If you’re more of a Miracle Whip person, try Nayonaise which has a touch of spicy tang to it.

5 Ignorant things people say to vegans

1. What DO you eat. Salad?

Well, yes, I do eat salad. And appetizers, and entree’s, and dessert. Occasionally I’ll even have a beverage. Truthfully, I think the average vegan has a more varied diet than the average american. We give up eating a few animals (cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs) and open our diets up to foods most people have never even heard of, much less tried. When was the last time the average american ate mung beans or hijiki? Quinoa or tempeh? Shitake mushrooms or arugula?

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Walnut Pesto Sandwich with Golden Tomato

Walnut Pesto and Golden Tomatoes

Walnut Pesto and Golden Tomatoes

My lunch today: Walnut Pesto and golden Yakima tomatoes on 21 grain organic bread, followed by a Wenatchee peach.

Eden Foods has a pretty good basic walnut pesto recipe, and it only takes about five minutes:


1/4 cup Eden Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup walnuts, pan roasted and coarsely chopped
4 cup fresh basil, loosely packed, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons Eden Organic Shiro Miso
1/2 cup water


Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.


Five instant ways eating vegan makes you healthier

There are plenty of long term reasons to change to a vegan diet, including reducing risk of many diseases such as cancer, heart attack and diabetes, and expanding the length of your “prime” years well into middle age.

But here are five reasons that eating a plant-based diet can improve your health today.

1. Eating becomes a conscious activity.

Because of the pervasive nature of animal-based ingredients in processed food, a plant-based diet requires either a move towards whole, fresh foods, or intense ingredients scrutiny. Either way, you will become more aware of what you’re putting into your body.
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Lentils: The Instant Bean

Originally uploaded by Monster.

How to eat them: Soup Ingredient, Entree over rice, or burger/roast ingredient.

Why to eat them: Cheap, Quick to fix, full of protein, iron and fiber.

Beans, peas and other legumes are a staple for the vegan diet. But most of them are complicated to cook from scratch, requiring hours of soaking, rinsing and cooking.

Lentils, on the other hand, cook as fast as rice, usually a 15 minute simmer will suffice. They require no rinsing or soaking.

Lentils come in many varieties and colors, and each variety has its own flavor and texture. You are probably familiar with brown lentils, which have a satisfying earthy flavor and texture. Yellow and Red lentils get softer when cooked, so they are great as a spread for wraps, or in a blended soup. Black lentils are firmer and smoother, with a delicate flavor, which makes them great as an entree, in a soup broth, or a bean salad.

Quick Recipe: Lentil Soup in 20 minutes. Read More..

USDA Releases estimates for corn and soy yields

Today the USDA increased yield estimates for corn and soybeans.

This will mean somewhat lower prices for cattle/chicken feed and biofuels going forward, but will do nothing to reduce the long term effect of using the majority of our farmland in a ridiculously inefficient way: Producing food to feed to our food.

And we could stop right now: Eat the last of the cows and chickens, and start using the corn and soybeans in more efficient ways. It only takes 10% of the caloric energy we feed to our food to replace them in our diet. That leaves 90% for biofuels, and imagine how much more efficient that would be if we switched to more amenable crops such as switchgrass, sugarcane, rapeseed and even agave.

Of course the USDA is charged with two primary tasks: Promoting beef/dairy, and providing us with our “health” information. So for the forseeable future, beef will be what’s for dinner, and milk will do a body good, thanks to your tax dollars at work.

So what to do? Today at lunch, eat lower on the food chain. Eat the grain that would have fed the cow. You’ll be healthier, and seriously reduce your carbon footprint