Friday, January 29, 2010

Is it Fasting or is it a Vegan Diet?

A good friend of mine clued me into the Christian-themed Daniel Fast, which to its own admission, is not a true fast at all, but a 21 day partial fast in which processed goods, dairy, all meat and animal products, all sweeteners and solid fats, and leavened bread and baked goods are omitted from one's diet.

Hey fellow vegetarians and vegans- does this sound vaguely familiar to you?

I think what I found most interesting about this whole "fast" was the quote from the Bible's book of Daniel:

“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.” Daniel 10:2, 3

I'm not sure how being able to use good quality oils, ALL fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, herbs and seasonings, AND tofu and soy products constitutes as "no pleasant food"... because unless you're ordering fast food (haha) every day, you know that you can make tons of "pleasant" meals from the aforementioned ingredients. To check out list of acceptable and unacceptable foods, visit the Daniel blog.

But hey, I've gotta give props to any diet that gets people to eat more consciously and ethically! So in honor of my homegirl, I'm going to devote my next several recipes to dishes that would fit under this fast.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vegan Chipotle!

Just thought I'd spread the tidbit I read in the VitalJuice e-newsletter this morning: Chipotle is now offering a vegan Garden Blend burrito! Using Gardein fake meat (which I blogged about last August) comprised of soy, wheat, and plant proteins, you've now got a tasty alternative to black beans and rice! It's the only type of "fake" that should be in your fast food!

Right now, only the Chelsea branch of Chipotle (149 8th Ave, between 17th & 18th St.) is offering the vegan burrito filling; but be sure to email the company and encourage them to offer the Garden Blend Burrito at all their NYC locations.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Veggie Meatballs!

Italian-American dishes are among the easiest to make vegetarian- I mean this, of course, as the biggest compliment! These veggie meatballs are completely easy to make- start with a package of Gimme Lean veggie ground (I love this brand for it's low-fat, low-calorie meatless goodies!) and add whatever seasonings you like! Lacking fresh basil at this time of year, I used some parsley along with some crumbled garlic toasts, though any breadcrumbs will do. If you nix the parmesan in this recipe, you can make these meatballs completely vegan- no egg is needed for these! This recipe makes about 16 meatballs, and you can use them in tomato sauce, a "meatball" sub, a veggie Italian wedding soup, or whatever else might make an Italian grandmother proud!

The Whats:

* 1 14 oz. pkg Gimme Lean ground "beef"
* 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
* 1/4 cup parmesan, grated (you can use a vegan version of parmesan as well!)
* 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
* 1 tsp. garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil, for frying

The Hows:

1) In a large mixing bowl, add the veggie ground, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, garlic, and pepper. Using hands, mix until ingredients are incorporated. Roll about 2 tbsp. of mixture into medium sized balls.

2) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs in batches, about 5 to 6 minutes until crispy. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot or cook in tomato sauce or soup.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dine Out for Haiti

Definition of a symbiotic relationship: you dine at awesome restaurants, restos donate part of those proceeds to charity.

Next week, 68 NYC dining establishments will donate a portion of their proceeds on designated evenings to charities aiding victims of the Haiti earthquake last week- most restos, including Lupa, Ilili, Motorino, Rouge Tomate, and Tabla, offer at least one solid vegetarian entree. Be sure to check the listings in Time Out New York for dates and how much the restos will be donating.

What is fresh?

Kudos to the creator of for making Greenmarket browsing just a little easier!

The new-ish site is finally getting the attention it deserves! breaks down NYC Greenmarkets by location and vendors, and vendors can list what they're offering that week or season. Wondering if your fave farmer at the Greenpoint/McCarren Park market will have rutabaga, or where that great baked goods vendor also sells during the week? You've got a quick, easy way to find out!

Brilliant! I'll be bookmarking this, and for all you Greenmarket fans, I'll be including this site among my fave veggie sites for future reference.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I eat, therefore I brunch.

Brunch is about light, savory dishes that will get me going for a soccer game, cure a hangover, finish weekend chores, whatever the case may be on a late Sunday morning- a little bit of protein instead of a sugary cereal or pancake mix goes a long way! When hosting Sunday brunch, however, feel free to do as I do and serve up some tasty treats as well as some mimosas with fresh OJ... doesn't more booze kill a hangover anyway? Here are some recipes to get you started!

Berry-Yogurt Parfaits

The Whats:

* 1 17.5 oz. container of Fage 0% Greek yogurt
* 2 to 3 tbsp. honey or agave nectar (depending on how sweet you like your yogurt!)
* 2 pints of cut mixed berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)

The Hows:

1) Mix honey into the yogurt. Spoon 2 tablespoons of yogurt into each of eight wine glasses (I used the plastic wine glasses from the party store for easy cleanup!); add a layer of berries on top of the yogurt. Repeat until top layer of wine glass is covered with berries. Top with granola if desired, and serve chilled.

Spiced Breakfast Chickpeas

The Whats:

* 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tsp. cumin
* 1/2 tsp. turmeric
* 1 16 oz. can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
* 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
* 1 tbsp. lemon juice
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Mix in the spices and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the chickpeas and vegetable broth and raise heat to high, until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes.

2) Uncover chickpeas and raise heat to medium-high. Stir in lemon juice. Cook chickpeas for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until their cooking liquid thickens. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Remove from heat. Serve with a dollop of yogurt. This recipe serves 4 as a side, but feel free to double if you're looking to serve this as a main brunch dish.

Savory Caraway French Toast

The Whats:

* 1 loaf of Ethiopian sourdough caraway bread (if you live in NYC, Silver Moon Bakery on the Upper West Side has this amazing bread! Otherwise, use regular sourdough), cut into thick slices
* 1 cup fat-free milk or soy milk
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 tsp. thyme
* soy butter, for greasing griddle

The Hows:

1) Preheat griddle over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Grease griddle with a small pat of soy butter.

2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, beaten eggs, garlic, pepper, and thyme (use a teaspoon of caraway seeds if you are using regular sourdough bread). Dunk slices of bread in milk-egg mixture, and soak for 2 minutes, making sure both sides of the bread are coated. Place slices on hot griddle, and cook until browned and crisp on each side. Flip bread to uncooked side and repeat. Repeat process with remaining slices of bread. Serve hot with stewed chickpeas.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January Events

January's half over, but there are still several cool veggie events to check out!

Wednesday, January 20th

Veg for Life leafleting with Farm Sanctuary- 5:30pm to 7:00pm at Whole Foods, Union Square. Help educate the general public about the vegan diet as well as compassion for animals. If interested, RSVP to David at Leafleting will also take place on Tuesday, January 26th.

Saturday, January 23rd

MFA's Celebrating Compassion Gala- 7pm to midnight at the Prince George Ballroom,  15 E. 27th Street, $75. A fundraiser to benefit Mercy for Animals' work to protect animals, and a fancy-schmancy way to do it too! Vegan hors d'oeurves, vino and cocktails, silent auction, and mingling with vegan guests of honor- you know you'd like to meet fellow veggies outside of Angels and Kings! 

Sunday, January 24th

Edible Queens Winter Warmup- noon to 3pm at L haus, 11-02 49th Avenue, Long Island City, free with canned food donation. Celebrate the new issue of Edible Queens with food, drink, music, and a panel on the Queens food scene. Sample munchies from Manducati's Rustica, Sweetleaf, Sage General Store, and Queens Country Farm Museum. 

Thursday, January 28th 

Vegan Drinks- 7pm at Angels & Kings, 500 E. 11th Street, free. The monthly meetup where you can connect with (and drink with!) like-minded vegans. If you go to any Vegan Drinks meetups, please go to this one- there will be a vegan bake sale to benefit victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Sunday, January 31st

Vegan Bake Sale for Haiti- all day at Moo Shoes, 78 Orchard Street. You've got a real reason to enjoy that delish vegan cupcake- all proceeds from the bake sale go to Doctors Without Borders. For a list of vegan bake sales for Haiti happening across the country, visit The Post Punk Kitchen blog.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

64 Ways to Eat Food, and More from the Web

I did lots of browsing and reading today, and thought I'd pass along some interesting health/vegetarian related food stories!

"In Defense of Food" author Michael Pollan discusses his new book, "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" on the New York Times health blog. His 65 rules are compiled from doctors, nutritionists, and anthropologists, among others, and breaks down some health rules that people can stick too. This is certainly going on my reading list, I'd be curious to see how cultural notions of eating influence some of the rules!

Speaking of rules,'s The Ten List gives ten nutrition rules that will help you stick to whatever diet-related resolutions you might have for the New Year. If you're reading this, you probably already know that you should bag half your oversized restaurant entree, or if a product has a long label, you shouldn't eat it, but it's good to be reminded of such things anyway!

A post on one of my favorite sites as of late,, traces the major food trends of the last decade, including the rise of social media and food bloggers, the cupcake craze fueled by Sex and the City, the launch of, and the creation of the term "locavore." Definitely an interesting look back!

And while we're looking back on the past decade, VegNews lists the top veg headlines of the last ten years, including the publication of books like "Skinny Bitch" and "The China Study" and the passing Prop. 2 in California, which banned the three cruelest forms of confinement in the factory farm system.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Restaurant Week 2010

Get ready folks, because reservations open up today for Winter Restaurant Week in NYC, running from January 25th through January 29th, and February 1st through 5th. Vegetarians and vegans should take note that most restaurants offer a vegetarian menu, or at least willing to make a simple vegan version of a dish; you can check out my past blog posts for reports on how accommodating certain restaurants have been!

To see the list of participating restaurants, visit

Brussels Sprout Pizza

If this won't make a picky eat love brussels sprouts, I don't know what will!

Inspired by a winning combo in a recent Food & Wine magazine- brussels sprouts and onions with smoky paprika- I decided to make a full-on veggie meal from a fun appetizer idea. Love 'em or hate 'em, mixing brussels sprouts with smoky paprika, caramelized onions, some veggie bacon and some soy cheddar on a thick crust pizza adds tons of flavor to those otherwise peculiar mini-cabbages. If that doesn't make the case for brussels sprouts, perhaps you'll be swayed by their vitamin A and C and folic acid content. No?

Well, then who can argue with deep dish pizza? Didn't think so. If you're trying to save time, feel free to purchase pizza dough at your local pizzeria; I've include a recipe for pizza dough below for anyone who loves getting their hands full of dough as much as I do!

The Whats:

For the pizza dough: (will make enough for two pizzas)
* 1 3/4 cups warm water
* 1 tsp. active dry yeast
* 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the pizza topping:
* 1 large Spanish onion, sliced
* 1 9-oz. pkg. brussels sprouts, halved
* 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 2 tsp. smoked paprika
* 1/2 cup soy cheddar cheese, shredded
* 4 slices soy veggie bacon, chopped
* salt & pepper to taste

The Hows:

1) To make the dough: Combine the water, yeast, and oil in a large bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, at least 5 minutes. Place dough into a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow dough one hour to rise, until doubled in bulk. Divide dough in half and place each half in another two lightly oiled bowls; allow dough to rise for 20 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add halved brussels sprouts and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until slightly tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.

3) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for two minutes; stir in the smoked paprika, and cook for another 10 minutes until onions have caramelized. Stir in the brussels sprouts and cook for an additional 2 minutes, adding salt and pepper if desired. Remove veggie mix from heat and set aside.

4) Flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Stretch and press dough until it fits the pan; pat to level out the dough. Sprinkle half the cheese over the dough. Spread the brussels sprouts and caramelized onions evenly across the dough; top with remaining cheese and veggie bacon pieces. Bake pizza for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese has melted. Allow pizza to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Serves 2.

Taco Bell Diet... seriously?

Dear Taco Bell,

I understand the appeal in jumping on the "Surprise, we make something that won't give you a coronary!" bandwagon. And I bet competing with that Subway guy, Jared is a tough game. Your not-so-new Fresco tacos might be less than 9 grams of fat and 150 calories per taco, largely from doing what a caveman could do (whoops, wrong spokesperson!) and substituting the cheese sauce for salsa, but I think you're missing out on a major habit of your demographic. Nobody goes to your drive-thru window and orders just one tiny taco. Fine Mexican restaurants don't even serve one taco, no matter how high-quality the ingredients, to their discerning customers. Do you really think the average fast-food scarfing, overweight American orders just one tiny taco? If those scale-tippers ordered just one taco, I'm quite sure we wouldn't have an obesity epidemic in America either. I'm a light eater, and I laugh at the notion that one taco would satisfy me from lunch until the end of the work day.

Admittedly, I'm not a nutritionist, but someone with a shred of common sense could probably figure out that ordering 3 or 4 tacos really isn't going to do much to improve their waistline, especially when you haven't switched out the processed white flour used for your tacos and your high-sodium taco fillings.

As a suggestion, you might have better luck resurrecting the Taco Bell chihuahua from the Pet Cemetery. Or airing this ad on a station where people expect to hear BS, like Fox News. Good luck with that.

The Friendly Veg

Monday, January 11, 2010

Salt ban in NYC?

You've gotta give the city credit for trying, even if you don't think that the government has a right to interfere in our dietary choices. In addition to hidden dangers like now-banned trans-fats, high sodium levels, which are linked to high blood pressure and strokes, are present in most restaurants throughout the city. Because salt is a common flavor enhancer in everything from canned foods to cereals, these reductions will not be easy to implement; but the New York City Health Department aims to cut salt content in restaurants and packaged foods by 25% over the next five years.  I, for one, think it's certainly worth a try!

Read more about the new initiative on the DOH website.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Julian's in Providence

Speaking of New Year's dishes, I had some fabulous eats while visiting New England. My lovely "future sister-in-law" checked before choosing low-key resto Julian's in Providence, RI for dinner. HappyCow lists Julian's as veg-friendly, and is it ever- according to the menu, seitan can be substituted for all meaty entrees. Many restaurants will remove the meat from an entree dish if you ask them, but I've never seen a non-vegetarian/vegan restaurant advertise mock meat substitutes so freely!

Sitting at a table covered with album art of bands like Thievery Corporation, Depeche Mode, David Bowie, and others, we first devoured a platter of house-made tortilla chips served with smoked tomato romanesco, as well as a naan pizza. It was likely an overload of carbs, but I enjoyed the smoky romanesco sauce, which had a light salty taste from some parmesan cheese. The naan pizza was a confused mix of potato-leek sauce, balsamic reduction, watercress, oyster mushrooms, and mozzarella, and though it managed to nicely balance out light and hearty, none of the unique flavors of the ingredients seemed to particularly shine through at all.

The tempeh sausage cassoulet that I'd chosen as my entree was more to my liking- warming, hearty, with white beans, pearl onions, and brussels sprouts. Though lacking enough tempeh sausage to give the dish the smokiness I expected, the cassoulet was instead highlighted with a a saffron-tomato sauce- an interesting and tasty choice! With the filling cassoulet rounded out by herbed focaccia and a salad, I thought I'd need to be rolled out of our booth. My honey had ordered a mustard-hoisin glazed chicken (which I bet would've been a great seitan glaze as well), but I eagerly sampled the fennel-sage polenta and garlicky kale that accompanied it- though unusually spicy, I loved the earthy, melt-in-your-mouth polenta and the light garlic flavor of the kale.

I felt relaxed and at ease at Julian's, and it wasn't just the company I was with or the tall glass of sangria that I was sipping. With the CD art, mismatched tables, He-Man cartoons looping on the TV in the bathroom, and the comfort food menu, I might as well have been having dinner in a high school pal's basement. Minus the fake-ID needed to buy booze. Score one for Julian's!

Julian's, 318 Broadway, Providence, RI. 401-861-1770

Friday, January 8, 2010

Antipasto Pasta Salad

For New Year's, I thought it might be fun to take a typical party side dish- like pasta salad- and combine it with another typical party appetizer- Italian antipasto. The best of both worlds, yet more filling and flavorful!

You can choose whatever types of antipasto you like- grilled artichokes, boccacini, roasted red peppers, or you could even put some veggie Italian sausage in the mix (the Tofurkey brand makes a tasty version!). If you are saving time and buying your veggies from your deli counter- FreshDirect, Fairway, and Whole Foods are just a few of the supermarkets that offer quality antipasto- as I did, you should probably blot your chosen veggies with paper towels to get rid of the excess oil; as much as I'm disgusted by pasta salads with mayo, I'm not a fan of super oily dishes either!

The Whats:

* 1/2 lb sundried tomatoes
* 6 large grilled artichokes
* 1/2 red onion
* 1/4 lb. kalamata olives
* 1/2 box whole grain elbow pasta
* 5 large basil leaves, chopped
* 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
* salt & pepper to taste
* 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 tbsp. white wine

The Hows:

1) Cook pasta according to box directions; drain, and rinse with cool water. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2) Meanwhile, roughly chop all vegetables. Add to the pasta along with remaining ingredients; toss to coat pasta and distribute veggies. Allow flavors to blend for one hour in the refrigerator before serving.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Michelle Obama in a PETA ad?

PETA's rockin the boat again, only this time, the model in question's image has been used without her permission. But would anyone other than Michelle Obama be as much of an attention getter?

Though the White House has confirmed in the past that Mrs. Obama does not wear fur, PETA placed Mrs. Obama alongside Oprah Winfrey, Carrie Underwood and Tyra Banks in a "Fur-Free and Fabulous" campaign on the assumption that the First Lady could never make such an endorsement. PETA has no plans to remove the image.

Going fur free makes Mrs. Obama pretty fabulous in my book, but doing it without her permission is not brightest idea for PETA.

Happy 2010!

Hello veggie readers and Happy New Year! I apologize for the delay in December posts- I was so incredibly bogged down with work that I found myself starting posts and never finishing them! Hope you enjoy the now caught-up December reads and recipes, and I'll be posting this week some January veg-friendly events, some recipes I cooked up for New Year's Eve, and other random news bytes in the veggie realm.