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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Healthy Vegan Chocolate Cake


I love chocolate. But it's hard for me to find chocolate things without sugar (or artificial sweetener). And my doc has been encouraging me to eat more protein. So I came up with this:

Put dry ingredients in a bowl:

1 cup soy flour
1 1/2 cups hazelnut of almond flour
1-3 Tablespoons of cacao powder (to taste)
1/2 cup cacao nibs (if you want a "chocolate chip" sort of cake)
stevia equivalent to 1 1/2 cups sugar (my powder takes 3/8 of a teaspoon for this)
2 teaspoons maca powder (optional, but I like the way it plays with the chocolate flavor)
2 teaspoons chopped nuts (I use a mix of almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews) (optional)

Then add:

2-3 Tablespoons of nut butter
Almond milk (start with 1 cup and add more as needed to blend everything together)

Put this all into an 8 inch square pan (I line mine with first aluminum foil then parchment paper) and bake about 45-60 minutes, until it's baked through, at 350 degrees.

For the icing -- put:

2-3 Tablespoons of nut butter
Almond milk (start with 1/4 cup and add more as needed to blend everything together)
1-3 Tablespoons of cacao powder (to taste)
stevia equivalent to 1 cup sugar (my powder takes 1/4 of a teaspoon for this)

into a food processor and whirr around until blended. Taste and add more of the above ingredients as needed.

The icing does best if you smooth it on the hot cake (it'll melt a bit, but when you refrigerate the cake, the icing will get to a better consistency.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

If You Love Animals, Don't Eat Them


What Is the Best Thing You Can Do for Animals?

When I was younger, my Mom had a pair of rabbit fur slippers. I asked her how she could wear slippers made out of the skins of murdered rabbits and she said to me, "What about the dead chickens and cows on your plate?" (We keep kosher, so those are the most common animals I ate -- and I never liked fish.) I had never thought of things in quite that way before. I decided she was right and I should stop eating animals. That was about 33 years ago.

About 12 years later, I read that it takes a lot less land to grow food for a vegan than it does for an omnivore (one who eats meat and vegetation) but it takes less land to grow food for a vegan than it does even for a vegetarian. I decided right then and there to go vegan.

I still think the best thing people can do for themselves (I've lost close to 100 pounds since my omnivorous days), the animals and the earth.

Vegetarian? Vegan?

Vegetarianism is popularly defined as eating "nothing with a face". That means that vegetarians (also known as "lacto-ovo" or "ovo-lacto" vegetarian -- though, in popular parlance the "lacto-ovo" or "ovo-lacto" is usually dropped and only "vegetarian" is used) eat no meat, poultry of seafood. They do eat eggs and/or dairy.

Veganism is usually defined as eating no animal foods. Many vegetarians and vegans use non-animal source cosmetics, clothing (as in no leather or fur, and for vegans, no wool or silk, etc.) and other items.

I have other blog entries with advice on how to get started:

Why Be Vegetarian
Thinking of going Veg? Start Here
Want to go Veg? Here's how
Quick Vegan Cooking
Creating new recipes from old

This blog also has many recipes (and I add recipes to this blog on a semi-regular basis).

Creating New Recipes from Old


New to healthy food?

Over the years -- I've been vegetarian for 37 years, 25 of those years as a vegan -- I have discovered, in order to have a large repertoire of vegetarian and vegan recipes, I needed to get recipes from non-vegetarian sources and adjust them to fit the needs of vegetarians and vegans.

Oftentimes, we have comfort foods that we just can't do without but we often need to make changes.

I like to read a lot of magazines, but mostly I like health and nutrition magazines. Prevention is one of my favorites and they generally have some interesting recipes. I even have a loose-leaf binder where I have ripped out pages from old Prevention issues with recipes I liked on them.

This lens is a guide as to how to take a recipe that sounds good, and make it vegan.

Fruit Bars

A number of years ago, one of our local grocery stores switched ownership for the second time in a couple of years. The new chain apparently has some freebie magazines that they give away in the hopes that some of the articles and/or recipes will induce you to buy more of their products. Well, in my case, it worked to some degree.

In the first free magazine I picked up there, I found a recipe for Citrus-Oatmeal bars. With a few minor (or major?) changes, I made the recipe vegan and cut out the added sugar. This is my version of the recipe. First of all, the recipe calls for mixed dried fruit bits. I discovered that Sun-Maid and Sunsweet both make mixed dried fruit bits of differing varieties. The ones I liked were Sun-Maid's tropical flavor and Sunsweet's melon mixture. The only problem with these mixtures is that they have added sugar. To resolve that problem, I took the 1 cup of fruit called for in the recipe and soaked it for a while in filtered water. I then poured off the water and poured more filtered water on. I repeated this procedure until the water stayed clear (and didn't get cloudy). It doesn't usually take too many times.

I took a medium baking pan and lined it with parchment paper (this keeps the batter from sticking without adding fat to the recipe). Then I take out two small mixing bowls -- in one, I put the fruit bits, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (substitute other nuts and seeds if you don't like walnuts) and 1/3 cup orange juice concentrate (or orange juice mixture like orange/pineapple juice concentrate) and 1/2 cup almond, rice or soy milk. In the other bowl, I mix 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 2 cups instant or quick oatmeal, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon powdered stevia (that would probably be about 60-120 drops of liquid stevia -- if you can use honey or agave nectar, you can substitute 1/3 cup honey or agave nectar, but add that to the fruit and nut mixture instead of 1/4 cup of the rice/soy milk).

Blend the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened. Take the batter and put it into the pan, flattening/spreading it with wet hands. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour (it might need a few more minutes -- it needs to be firm). Cut into 16 bars. I then wrap each one in aluminum foil and place in a zipper bag and keep them in the refrigerator (or you can freeze them). These are good as take along snacks for kids or adults (I take them to work).

Healthy Vegan Eating: Quick Cooking


Are You New to Healthy Food?

I remember when I was new to vegetarianism. I didn't know how to handle the cooking. I had learned to cook with meat and chicken and now I was lost.

I have been vegetarian since 1977 and vegan since 1989. Outside of my family, most of the people I know and associate with now never knew me before I was vegan, much less before I was vegetarian. When new (kosher) restaurants open up in town, they find out pretty quickly that I'm a "go-to" person to check with if they want to find out if their vegan food tastes good to a vegan.

For the most part, I do my own cooking. But there are times that I'm really busy or really tired, so I have to have all sorts of recipes in my repertoire.

Quick and Easy Chili

When you're new to the world of vegetarianism or if you just want a quick, easy, meatless meal, you need a few ideas to get you started.

I usually do a lot of cooking since I'm the only vegan in the house and if I don't cook, I don't eat. So I keep a number of items on hand for those days that I just don't have the time or the energy to cook a full meal.

Canned beans fill almost an entire shelf in the basement. I use them very liberally. I also try to keep cans of tomato products (fire roasted tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, etc.). I also like to buy hot peppers when they are available in the organic section (I broil them and then freeze them so I can use them months later). Keep a collection of spices you like -- I like curry powder, coriander, fresh ginger and several other spices. Oil is also an important ingredient. I usually use olive oil, but canola, peanut, walnut and almond oil, or other high monounsaturated oils should be on your cabinet shelf. Nuts add healthy fats and crunchy textures. Vegetables, fresh or frozen, round out the important ingredients.

These recipes can save you time:

  • large can of crushed tomatoes (the variety is up to you)
  • 1/2 cup each of raw peanuts and almond
  • bell peppers of any color
  • onions/garlic/leeks/scallions
  • hot peppers to taste
  • mushrooms (your favorite variety)
  • two cans of your favorite beans (I usually use one can of black beans and one can of red kidney beans)
  • spices
  • Frozen vegetables

Take a large can of crushed tomatoes (the variety is up to you) and pour it into a pot. I add 1/2 cup each of raw peanuts and almond and cook on a low flame about 1/2 hour. In the meantime, I saute veggies: bell peppers of any color, onions/garlic/leeks/scallions, hot peppers to taste, mushrooms (your favorite variety) until cooked through.

When the peanuts and almonds are cooked through, add two cans of your favorite beans (I usually use one can of black beans and one can of red kidney beans). Add spices you like (I use brown mustard, curry powder and chili powder). Add the sauteed vegetables. After stewing a bit, add frozen vegetables (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc.). Stir it all together and stew until it's all cooked through.

Another Quick Recipe

  • Oil for sauteeing (Olive Oil)
  • Fresh ginger
  • mustard
  • a small amount of sweetener
  • Curry Powder
  • Minced Garlic
  • other veggies you like (onions or other similar veggies)
  • Favorite Beans (canned or cooked dried)

Put two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, grate some fresh ginger and add a bit of mustard, a small amount of sweetener (I use stevia or agave nectar), curry powder. Add minced garlic and any other veggies you like (onions or other similar veggies), peppers, etc. When the veggies are cooked through, add a can of your favorite beans (I like black beans) and cover the pan. Cook on a low flame until all the ingredients are heated through.

You can eat this alone or add it to cooked pasta -- you can also use some pasta cooking liquid, mash the beans and add the liquid for a thinner sauce.

Experiment with these ingredients and others, to your taste. Beans and vegetables spiced correctly can make a very filling meal. Enjoy!

Want to go Veg? Here's how


To "Veg" or not to "Veg"? That is the question

Now that you have decided to take the plunge, I will give you some advice on substituting. I have managed to make recipes that contain meat, chicken, dairy, etc. into vegan recipes. I'll start off by giving you an example.

Changing your Comfort Foods

Having a Vegetarian Substitute for your Comfort Foods goes a long way Towards Making the Changeover Successfully

When I was young, my mother used to make a casserole that I loved. It is similar to shepherd's pie. It had mashed potatoes on the bottom, then peas and carrots, then chopped meat, then it had egg noodles on top. I decided that this would be easy to make, so I started with the mashed potatoes on the bottom. My Mom used canned peas and carrots, I decided to use frozen peas (less salt and sugar) and fresh carrots. I diced up a couple of carrots into small cubes and added a bag of frozen peas (I try to use organically grown vegetables and fruit as much as I can). I'd kind of mix the peas and carrot together, then put them in the casserole dish on top of the mashed potatoes. Then I added a layer of fake chopped meat (Green Giant makes a good one. It's called "Harvest Burger" and it is fat free and comes frozen in a zip bag that you can reseal and put back in the freezer when you are done). I then added egg free noodles (DeBoles makes very good egg free noodles. They have a Jerusalem artichoke variety and a whole wheat variety. I prefer the whole wheat variety, but it's harder to find in the stores. I have also found a number of other substitutes Tofu noodles (low in calories) and mung bean "fettuccine" noodles.) on top of it all. I put the whole thing in a medium oven and bake it until all the ingredients are heated and the noodles are crispy (but not scorched).

In my travels, I have found rice,soy and nut "milk" (I use unsweetened almond milk). I use tofu instead of soft cheeses or for smooth desserts and creamy sauces and dressings. There are many soy based meats. Besides the "chopped meat" I used in the above recipe, I have found "beef" chunks, "chicken" chunks, "chicken" nuggets, etc. I also found that tempeh is a good substitute for chicken and fish chunks in salads and the like. (Tempeh is a soy based food that comes in slabs and you can find in most health food stores.) I have found soy "bacon", soy "cheese" (mozzarella and cheddar varieties are common). Soy or rice based "ice cream" is also very easy to find (there are many different versions, flavors, varieties, etc.)

Another recipe

Vegetarian "Tuna" Salad with Chick Peas

So, I guess you are interested in another quick recipe, right? Ok, how many of you out there like tuna salad? I use the same ingredients with chick peas instead of tuna. The chick peas are better if they are firm than in they are mushy (you can buy firmer chick peas in specialty kosher supermarkets, middle eastern stores, or health food stores or you can make your own firmer chick peas from dried chick peas). You mash up the chick peas with a fork.

Add whatever you like; I have put in diced celery, chopped or sliced olives, scallions, onion and/or garlic (raw or sauteed a bit), chopped greens (baby spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, etc.), diced pickles (I like dill pickles), mayonnaise (there are many vegan mayonnaise brands on the market) or olive oil, and many other ingredients. Try your own favorite ingredients. This salad tastes great on whole grain bread or toast (with or without a smear of your favorite mustard and/or a leaf of red leaf lettuce).

Why be vegetarian


What are the Reasons to Give up Meat?

You hear about people being vegetarian, but until you actually hear about the reasons, you might not understand why people would give up meat. Interestingly enough, there are, for the most part, three separate levels of reason to examine -- Health reasons, Animal Rights reasons and Environmental reasons. (From my perspective, I went vegetarian for mostly Animal Rights reasons while environmental/humanistic reasons were my chief reason for going vegan).


Why would you want to give up your meat?

I've been a vegetarian for 30 years now and I'm often asked why I became vegetarian. I tell them that my mother had rabbit fur slippers and I asked her how she could wear the bodies of murdered rabbits and she said to me "how about the cows and chickens on your plate?"

Well, I hadn't thought about that before, so I decided to give up eating animals.

I discovered over the years that a vegetarian diet was healthier than an omnivorous diet (eating plant and animal matter as food).

But after 12 years of being a vegetarian, I read how much land it takes to grow food for a vegetarian vs. an omnivore (vegetarian took less land) but it took even less land to grow a years worth of vegan food. It was then that I decided to become a vegan.

Vegetarians (often called ovo-lacto or lacto-ovo vegetarians) eat dairy and/or eggs whereas vegans only eat plant matter.

Vegans eat no cholesterol. Vegans also generally eat more vitamins and minerals in their foods and also generally consume more fiber.

Veganism is healthy for the vegans, healthy for the animals and healthy for the planet.

Compugraph Designs' Printfection Store

Veggies on Parade Women's Tee
In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see Compugraph Designs' Stores links on the right side), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This Tee is only one of several Veg themed items at our store:

Compugraphd Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blueberry Vegan Recipes

I love Blueberries!

this lens' photo
I have always loved blueberries. When I went vegetarian in the mid-70s, I used blueberries for a lot of desserts.

I have a few recipes here that I hope you like. I first wrote these recipes for the newsletter of our local health food co-op, then I took the recipes and put them together in a cookbook (which is called Vegans Like Good Food, Too and is available at my store on Cafe Press).

I hope you like these recipes.

Blueberry "Cheese" Cake


    • Crust:
    • Grape Nuts Cereal
    • Frozen Apple Juice Concentrate
    • Filling:
    • 2 10 1/2 ounce packages vacuum packed Lite Tofu
    • 2-3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
    • 1 Tablespoon Grated Organic Lemon
    • Lime and/or Orange rind
    • 2 Tablespoons Arrowroot/Kudzu/Cornstarch dissolved in 2/3 Cup of Water
    • 1 Cup Maple Syrup/Rice Syrup/Agave Nectar
    • 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
    • Topping:
    • 1 bag Frozen Blueberries
    • 1-2 Tablespoons Arrowroot/Kudzu/Cornstarch
    • Apple Juice/Maple Syrup/Rice Syrup/Agave Nectar to taste (optional)


    1. For the Crust: Take the two ingredients and pulse them in a food processor. Smooth the crust mixture on the bottom of a pie plate and bake until firm and brown.
    2. For Filling: Take the filling ingredients and process them in a food processor until the mixture is smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until firm.
    3. For Topping (make while cake is baking): Take the blueberries and sweetener (if desired) and put them in a pot with a good cover and cook on a small flame until the blueberries give up their liquid. Then, take as much of the liquid as you can and add the starch, stirring until dissolved. Then add this mixture back into the blueberries and simmer, stirring constantly, until the topping thickens.
    4. When the "cheese" cake is baked, let it cool a bit before spreading the blueberry topping on top.

    Blueberry Linzer Torts


      • 12 ounces Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
      • partially defrosted
      • 2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
      • Blueberry jam or one recipe of the topping for the Blueberry "Cheese" Cake


      1. Mix the first two ingredients together until it forms a dough. Roll out the dough (adding flour if needed). For each tort, use two equal sized round cookies, but one cookie should have a smaller round hole in the middle (I used two different sized drinking glasses for the circles). Take the full circle and put a small amount of jam or blueberry topping in the center, top with the circle with the hole in the middle. This makes one cookie.
      2. Repeat this until you have used all the dough. Lay the torts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or desired "doneness".

      Blueberry Orange Muffins


        • Dry Ingredients:
        • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
        • 1 Cup Unprocessed Oat Bran
        • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
        • 2 Tablespoons Grated Orange Rind
        • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
        • Wet Ingredients:
        • 1 Cup Non-Dairy "Milk"
        • 1 "flax egg" (2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seeds processed with 3/8 Cup of Water) or other egg substitute
        • 1/4 Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar or other sweetener
        • 1 Bag Frozen Blueberries
        • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce


        Mix together the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients in separate bowls. Mix them together until the dry ingredients are moistened. Pour the batter into paper lined muffin tins. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. If they aren't done after that, check back every 5 minutes until they are done.