Super Bowl Sunday | The Perfect Vegan Opportunity

Some of you may be wondering what I’ve been smokin’ when I say that Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect vegan opportunity. Most of you, if you’re into American Football, would normally cringe at the thought of going to a Super Bowl party once you decided to be vegan since it is usually a carnivore’s dream event full of meat, cheese and processed food. That tradition, however, is what makes it such a perfect opportunity for change.

Just like other traditions that don’t make sense, the typical foods served at a Super Bowl party are no longer what most people want to eat and they are certainly NOT things that leave the party-goers feeling good. The beautiful thing is that there are so many other options that seem just as decadent, indulgent and tasty but are NOT animal products or chemicals that will leave everyone feeling like crap.

So, if you’re up for the challenge and you’re either hosting a party or the guest of one, here are some great options to take Superbowl Sunday to a whole new vegan level!

PETA’s Party Picks – 9 amazing vegan recipes that mimic the classics

Vegetarian Times – Ultimate Vegan Chili

Ecorazzi – Top Ten Vegan Super Bowl Recipes

VegNews – Vegan Super Bowl Soiree (includes vegan alcoholic beverage info too!)

Mercy for Animals – Score Big by Hosting a Vegan Superbowl Party

Since the Super Bowl is also known for its commercials, I thought I’d toss in an example that not only advertises an incredible product, it reminds us that sometimes all we have to do is look around us to find the inspiration we need to be a better person, a better example and an advocate for the world we want to live in.

What’s your favorite party recipe? Please share it with everyone below!

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The Tantalizing Taste of Tahini

Aside from having a really fun name to say, Tahini is a pretty amazing and versatile vegan food. It adds creaminess to salad dressings, makes hummus smooth and adds a nutty flavor to any recipe you include it in.

For those of you who have yet discovered Tahini, here’s the scoop [pun intended!]:

What is it?
Tahini is ground up sesame seeds. You can get hulled, unhulled, raw and organic.

How is it made?
Sesame seed are soaked in water for a day, then crushed. The crushed seeds are put into salted water and the kernels that float are skimmed from the surface. These kernels are toasted in some cases, then ground to produce a paste. (There are speedier methods too.)

Why Should I Eat it?
It’s yummy! and a great source of calcium, protein, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids (help to maintain healthy skin) and Methionine (the amino acid that helps your liver detox). You can see the full nutritional breakdown here.

My only ‘warning’ about Tahini is that a little goes a long way so only use a tablespoon in most cases. Otherwise, it will completely take over the taste of the dish you include it in and that’s no fun. Plus, since it is made up of mostly sesame oil and some recipes add olive oil, it’s best to use in moderation to keep your fat content to a reasonable level.

Even though Tahini is usually easy to find at your local store or online, you can make it yourself. There are lots of videos on YouTube that show various ways, but my favorite was the following since it includes fun facts, is entertaining and promotes a local nonprofit too!

What do you think? Do you like Tahini? Don’t hesitate – make that comment below!

Words of Wisdom from The Vegan Table

I picked up a copy of The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau at my local library the other day. Mainly because it had some wonderful pictures of vegan recipes for entertaining and they looked easy enough that I could hope that my final product might actually resemble the picture!

When I got home, sat down and had a closer look, it only took a couple of flips of the pages to be totally impressed and inspired. Not bad considering I hadn’t even made it to the Table of Contents!

Here’s the dedication that she included in her book that made me smile, think and tear up just a bit.

My hope is that we can all navigate through this world with the grace and integrity of those who most need our protection.

May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats, the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens, and the sassiness of the roosters. May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle, the wisdom, serenity, and humility of the donkeys. May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits. May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family of the geese and the adaptability and affability of the ducks. May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.

May we learn from the animals what we need to become better people.

Awesome. Simple. Profound. I hope it inspires you too.

If you want to learn more about this book, her other books, and ways to help animals please visit The Vegan Table website.

Have you read The Vegan Table? Share your experiences on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

2 Easy Vegan Recipes to Bring to Your Thanksgiving Celebration

In my previous post, I mentioned that I would be bringing a couple of vegan dishes to Thanksgiving. After some careful consideration, I have decided on the following recipes that are easy, vegan and perfect for Thanksgiving. I hope it gives you some inspiration to bring some yummy dishes to your celebration.

CRANBERRY CHUTNEY (via In a Vegetarian Kitchen)
Makes 8 servings

Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup peeled, diced apple
  • 1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup, to taste

Directions

Place all the ingredients except the agave nectar in a deep saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat with the lid slightly ajar for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Add agave nectar to taste and simmer uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes until thick. Let the chutney cool to room temperature, then store in a sterilized jar, tightly covered but not sealed. Refrigerate until needed. Before serving, bring to room temperature.

I am going to make this beforehand and put it in some jars so that they are easily transportable (we’re driving ~600 miles). I might even make some really nice labels and put some ribbons around it so that it will be a nice looking gift.

The second dish I will bring is a Mediterranean Kale Salad. I first discovered this amazing recipe by Jennifer Cornbleet on YouTube and have made variations of it numerous times.

MEDITERRANEAN KALE SALAD (via LearnRawFood.com)
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 large kale leaves
  • 2 cups red, raw, sweet peppers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I have also used flaxseed oil for a nuttier taste)
  • juice from a whole lemon
  • 24 almonds or pine nuts chopped or slivered
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 24 jumbo sliced black or kalamata olives

Directions

De-vein the kale, then roll up 2 kale leaves at a time and slice thinly to make thin, long strips. Place in a bowl with olive oil, salt and lemon juice, and dig in your (clean) hands and massage the kale in the liquids. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together. Lasts for 3 days refrigerated, tastes better if left to marinate for a little bit.

Jennifer has done an incredible video showing how to make the salad. Check it out below:

Let me know if you try these out and what you think of them. I would also love to hear any other suggestions you might have for tasty vegan Thanksgiving recipes in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

Is Flax Seed the Vegan Baker’s Miracle Worker?

I spent the weekend trying to find a good recipe for vegan pumpkin cookies to take to a family dinner. Unfortunately, the recipes that looked somewhat tasty had a lot of ingredients that were not very healthy – even though they were technically vegan. I finally found one that used oatmeal as the base and gave it a try. Not much success. They could be described as blobs of dough that didn’t remotely resemble anything I would normally associate with pumpkin cookies. So I went on another search to find a better recipe. What I found rocked my world!

The pumpkin cookie recipe I found called for an egg replacement for the equivalent of 2 eggs. Being a fairly novice vegan baker, I thought to myself, ‘What the heck can I use for an egg replacement that won’t have me traipsing all over creation trying to find it?’. I did a quick internet search and found what is sure to be a life changer – ground flax seed and water (can you get any more simple than that?!) is the perfect egg replacer! At first, I thought, no, this can’t be true. It seems too simple but I gave it a try. I was running out of time and needed a miracle. Flax seed delivered!

Not only did the cookies turn out really tasty, the texture of them was comparable to those Soft Batch cookies I used to inhale when I was a teenager. You remember those don’t you? The cookies that were supposed to mimic Mama’s homemade cookies right out of the oven. Heaven only knows what horrible list of ingredients were in those tasty morsels but they sure were yummy. I was so thrilled to find something that reminded me of them and were healthy!

So, here’s the scoop. If you need an egg replacer for a baking recipe in order to make it vegan all you have to do is mix 2 Tbsp of finely ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp of water for each egg you need in the recipe. Mix together and let set for a few minutes until they reach that gooey egglike texture. Then mix it with the rest of your ingredients as called for. Voila! a vegan miracle has occurred in your kitchen!

Not only are flax seeds a great egg replacer, they are great for your body! They contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your heart healthy, Lignans which contain antioxidants and tons of Fiber to keep things movin’! So including them in something that people might consider an indulgence is a great way to balance the health scale a bit.

One caveat though. If you are one of those people who feels like flax seed has a strong taste you may want to add more of the spices or flavorful portions of your recipes to overcome it. My brother Justin is one of those that doesn’t really like spicy or pumpkin-y food so he really liked these cookies since the flax seed kind of overrode the cinnamon and cloves. I really like the pumpkin-y spices so I’m going to try another batch and up the cinnamon and cloves until I get the spice level I like.

In case you are curious to try it out, the recipe can be found here on Natural Papa’s Blog.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of flax seed, WebMD, Flax Seed Heath and Women’s Fitness all have great information.