Last post from my trip to New York back in December! We were looking for a classic New York bagel shop and wanted to stop by Grand Central Station so went to the nearby Zucker's Bagels. It did not disappoint for the authentic New York bagel experience. One thing that I love about bagel shops in New York is that they all seem to have some sort of tofu spread. Zucker's had a couple to pick from. I went for the Organic Tofu No-Egg Salad and it was great. It was just like egg salad! I know tofu egg salad is nothing crazy spectacular to vegans, but I've actually never had it before. I've used tofu to make scrambled eggs (check out the recipe!) but not egg salad. It was great!
I'm not New York bagel connoisseur, but Zucker's were great. My sandwich was piled high with no-egg salad, tomato and lettuce. Look how great those tomato slices are! In December! It was awesome, and filling, and delicious. If you have a chance to make it to Zucker's while in New York I highly recommend it! Try one of their other tofu spreads and let me know how they are!
Back over Thanksgiving, while I was home in Pittsburgh, my mom and I went down to the Carnegie Museum of Art and walked over to Phipps Conservatory for lunch. Their menu is very refreshing for a cultural institution. It can sometimes be hard to find something healthy and interesting to eat a museum or other such institution, since the restaurant/cafeteria isn't the focus of the institution's mission, plus they typically have you trapped inside since you paid to get in!
I shouldn't have been surprised that Phipps had such a great menu - if you're going to find a healthy and sustainable menu somewhere, a botanical garden and conservatory would be it! It's great to see to see its spirit of conservatism extend into it's food offerings. Check out the great menu below! So many veggie options!
It's a great deal too! My mom and I split the Roasted Veggie Sandwich and the Tomato Basil soup. It was so great. I hadn't had tomato soup in so long, since most places normally add some sort of cream. The sandwich came with two sides so we got the cabbage slaw and the lentil and black bean salad. It was such a filling meal!
I love how much the recycle and compost too! These signs make it so easy to know where everything should go. I wish every restaurant had this set up! It's great knowing that I can count on Phipps for a great meal I can feel good about - I'm helping my body and the planet!
Yesterday I posted about Chik'n Alfredo Pizza and mentioned how the sauce that I made was double what I needed. I used the rest of the sauce to make this recipe. It was one of those nights where I needed to make something quick and just threw together what I had. That being said, the vegetables I used are totally interchangeable.
I'd just opened the Beyond Meat chicken so I wanted to keep on using it in case it went bad faster once it was open. It was a nice change of pace to the pasta dishes I've been eating recently and reminded me of the chicken and pasta stir fries that dominated so many of my dinners growing up. I've been really impressed at how long this one package of chicken is lasting. According to the package one serving is 6 strips, but I've only been using 6 strips per recipe, which makes it a much more economical option.
As you'll see below, it comes together really quickly. The timing really depends on what kind of vegetables you use and how soft you want them to be. The veggies and pasta cook at the same time, then you add the pasta and sauce to the veggies just to let the sauce heat up, and voila! You'll notice there aren't a lot of spices you add to this dish, because the sauce has so much flavor in it.
Cook carrot and onions in a pan with a little bit of water until the carrots have softened a bit. You don't need to add any seasonings because the sauce is so flavorful.
Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the package directions. You'll want it a little al dente because the pasta will cook more with the veggies.
Chop up the kale and add it to the pan once the carrots and onions are just about done. Add the pasta and sauce to the pan with the veggies and stir all together. Cook until everything is warmed.
In high school my cross country team would go to Olive Garden for pre-race dinners most Friday nights. Chicken Alfredo Pizza was usually my go-to. It was so rich, creamy, and delicious, and with the amount of running I was doing I had no guilt as I downed the thousands of calories. Even if I still ate meat, there's no way that pizza can be good for you. This pizza is a lightened and way healthier version of that pizza and it lives up to the inspiration!
Like I mentioned in my post on Beyond Meat Tacos, I don't like to eat a lot of processed foods, but I wanted to give these Beyond Meat chicken strips a try, and I wanted to see what Jay thought about them. He was really impressed in both the texture and flavor and I think they were a great addition to the pizza. I'm going to try to make some other classic pizzas with chicken - like buffalo and barbeque. I made a buffalo "chicken" pizza last year using cauliflower as a substitute for the chicken and Jay wasn't a big fan of the texture.
I added the spinach, which isn't a normal feature of an Olive Garden Chicken Alfredo Pizza, to up the vegetable ante, and it fit right in (I always try to add as many veggies as possible). Adding the mozzarella is optional. Jay still isn't used to eating pizza without some sort of melty cheese item, so I added it. I think it added a lot of moisture. If you don't use the cheese I would add some slices of tomato or caramelized onions.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash into quarter inch thick pieces and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly oil the top of the squash, just enough so it doesn't get burnt (if you aren't using parchment paper then oil both sides of the squash). Sprinkle the squash with nutritional yeast (this is not where you use the full three tablespoons), ginger powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. Roast for 30 minutes. Let cool.
While the squash is cooking, prep your toppings and dough. Roll out the dough so that it will fit on your cookie sheet or pizza block. Thinly slice one of your garlic cloves and arrange the garlic slivers on top of the pizza dough. Spray the dough with cooking spray. Set dough aside.
Chop your spinach (or cooking greens) and wilt on the stove with a little bit of water - set aside. Slice chicken strips diagonally. You can cut most of the pieces into 3 smaller ones. If you have time you can slice the cheese as well.
Once the squash is soften and cooled, add it to a food processor or blender along with the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth.
While blending the cheese sauce, cook the pizza crust. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees. Put the dough in for about 3 minutes. Flip over and add the garlic slivers from your second clove. Put in the oven for another 3 minutes. You want the dough to be able to hold the toppings, but not be cooked to much.
Once the dough has cooled, spread the cheese sauce over the pizza crust. I only used about half of the sauce I made. I used the rest to make Chik'n and Veggie Macaroni and Cheese. Top the pizza with the spinach, chicken slices, a cheese. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the chicken is warm all the way through. Serve and enjoy!
Jay and I were in New York at the end of December and made a point of stopping by Champs Diner in Brooklyn. An old friend of mine works here so it's been on my list for a long time. I typically get overwhelmed when I go to an all vegan restaurant, since I've become accustomed to only having an option or two on the menu to choose from. As you can see, I went a little overboard at Champs.
We started out with the loaded nachos. I haven't had nachos in the longest time, so I figured this was a great place to get my fix in! It's not too difficult to order vegan nachos at a restaurant - simply omit the cheese and sour cream and our left with tomatoes, avocado, beans, onions, etc. - most people aren't too thrilled at the idea of sharing a plate of nachos with no cheese on it. They were delicious. Great ratio of chips to toppings. Jay loved the cheese and sour cream. The sour cream was really thin and smooth, which is one of the main criteria Jay judges my sour cream substitutes on - great consistency. It was not readily apparent what you were eating was vegan - job well done.
One of the things I liked about the menu was the ability to add toppings to your grilled cheese. As you can see, Jay went with tomatoes - other options included avocado or jalapenos.
Jay's comments - "it's awesome! So cheesey and melty!" That's high praise coming from a grilled cheese connoisseur.
There were enough other things going on in the dish that you didn't miss it too much, but I had been expecting some yolk. I really liked whatever was used for the ham. Ham was one of my favorite breakfast meats before I went vegan, and I always looked forward to baked ham at Christmastime. Vegan ham isn't something you see too often, so I appreciated the thought and the execution!
Vanilla sundae with chocolate sauce and whipped cream may be my favorite dessert after a big meal. It's simple but delicious, with so many different flavors and textures. When I saw it on the menu I knew I had to have it even though it was getting late and we had to head back to Boston (I got it to go). The Brownie Sundae took me right back to my childhood. Everything in it was done perfectly - the whipped cream was light and fluffy, the ice cream was rich and smooth, the sauce was chocolatey, the brownie was moist on the inside with a great crust. The only change I would make about it is the ice cream to brownie ratio. There was way more brownie than ice cream, I would have preferred it to be more balanced.
One comment Jay had about the menu was the descriptions. The menu items were in large part described using non-vegan words. Jay's grilled cheese was said to be a cheddar-mozza mix, but clearly there was no cheddar or mozza in it. We were both very curious about what it was. Is it store bought vegan cheese? what kind? Did they develop it themselves? What is it made out of? Soy? Cashew? Rice? Almond? Tapioca? Same goes for the ham that came with my dish. It was simply described as ham. I've never seen vegan ham at a grocery store or found a recipe for it online, so I don't even know where to start in guessing what it was made out of. Take for instance the Buffalo Chik'n Sandwich - "spicy buffalo chik’n, greens, tomatoes, sautéed onions, ranch dressing on a hero" - what is it exactly? Tofu, seitan, tempeh, TVP? Is it Gardien or made in-house? I think one reason I decided to go with breakfast instead of lunch was that for many of the sandwiches I wasn't exactly sure of what I was getting.
I often hear many non-vegans comment on this - "You say your recipe is vegan cheese or vegan chicken or vegan meatballs, but what is it actually? Why don't you just call it what it is?" I think as vegans we tend to use non-vegan descriptions because we think that it will be easier for others to understand and relate to, but I think it might turn people off because they don't know what they're eating. Thoughts?
Overall we loved Champs Diner. It was tough making a decision on what to pick and there's a ton left of the menu we want to try. Jay said he would go back to New York to eat there again - I'd say that's high praise coming from a non-vegan!
This recipe is inspired by one of my old roommates, for those nights when you want something warm, comforting, and healthy, but you don't want to put in too much effort. I made it the other day when I was working from home. I didn't have a whole ton of time to spend on prepping food, because I had to get work done, plus I didn't have many ingredients to work with. I had an acorn squash that had been sitting there for a while and I didn't quite know what to do with it. Then I remembered the countless roasted squash (I'm pretty sure the only thing she used the oven for) that my roommate used to make and inspiration struck!
This is recipe is about as easy as you can get. Slice the squash, scoop out the seeds, add some fat and sugar, and roast until soft. My roommate normally put butter on it, but I decided to use coconut oil. I don't generally have vegan butter on hand. I prefer to replace it with something less processed than fake butter.
This recipe hit the spot! Basically just vegetables with a little bit of decadence - perfect for a light lunch.
You could also serve it as a side dish to a larger meal.
1 Acorn Squash
2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Spread one tablespoon of coconut oil over each half of the squash. Make sure to coat the squash evenly to prevent burnt spots. Sprinkle one tablespoon of brown sugar on each of the squash.
Roast for at least 40 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on the size of your squash. I saw many recipes that recommended roasting for at least an hour, but my squash were too small and were starting to burn after 40 minutes.
You should be able to eat the squash with just a fork when it's done.
Serve and enjoy!
When Jay and I were in New York City over the holidays we stopped at the Nuchas empanada kiosk in Times Square. I was so excited! Since studying abroad in Santiago, Chile six (!) years ago I have been obsessed with empanadas. Since their main ingredients are ground beef or cheese, it's hard to find vegan ones. Lucky for me, Nuchas had a vegan option!
I try to eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible, but I like to try a new vegan product at least once. I find it exciting when I see advancements in vegan food options and I think vegan meat alternatives are a great way to help those making the transition from omnivore to vegetarian or vegan diets.
These Beyond Meat beef crumbles are so close to the real thing its amazing. Plus they're so convenient. They come frozen and defrost so quickly. You just dump the frozen crumbles right into your saute pan with a little bit of water and they're quickly ready to go. As you'll see in the instructions below, this was a super quick dinner came together in a breeze. The longest part was chopping up the tomato and avocado and putting everything in little bowls!
Cashew sour cream is a great alternative for those trying to avoid soy or if you just don't have any tofu in the house. That's how I found myself the other night, so I decided to whip up some cashew sour cream. Jay loves cashew sour cream more than regular, although tofu sour cream is his favorite, since it's naturally creamier. When I make cashew sour cream I make sure so blend it for as long as possible so that it gets creamier, since it can tend to have more of a grainy texture. Soaking the cashews beforehand can help with this, but I didn't have any time - the crumbles cooked so quickly and we were hungry!
1 Package Beyond Meat Frozen Beef Crumbles
6 Taco Tortillas (I used La Nina Tortillas)
1 Packet Taco Seasoning (I used Ortega 40% Less Sodium)
4 oz Cherry Tomatoes
Spinach or other green
Cashew Sour Cream:
1/2 Cup Cashews
1/3 Cup Water
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Slice the avocado and tomato.
Cook frozen Beyond Meat Crumbles on the stove with a little bit of water until it is no longer frozen. Add the taco seasoning a stir until well combined.
Add the cashews, water, and lemon juice to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Heat a second pan over the stove. Place a tortilla on the pan for about a minute, or until crispy, then flip to the other side and repeat.
Tear the spinach and place it on the tortilla, add a quarter cup of taco mix, sour cream, avocado, and tomato. Enjoy!
I made this recipe for Christmas this year. It is inspired by aveggie pot pie with cashew filling by Kathy Patalsky at Healthy Happy Life. Similar to the Brussel Sprout Casserole I made for Thanksgiving, I wanted to make something that had vegetables and grains/protein all in one since I wouldn't be able to eat much else that was served. This definitely did the job of filling me up! The cashew sauce is so rich and filling!
As you'll see in the instructions below, this comes together super quickly! Jay has mentioned before at how he likes pot pie and I had thought about making it for a while, but the word "pie" always turned me off. For some reason I have always thought of pies have difficult things to make. It definitely helped that I didn't make the pie crust on my own. I am not skilled enough for that and I didn't feel like experimenting on Christmas morning.
This dish was a huge it at Christmas! As you can see from the picture at the bottom of this post - there wasn't much left! I took that picture before I grabbed my second slice. There was just enough for me to have one slice for leftovers on Friday. I can't wait to make this for Jay and see what he thinks of it! It will be a great staple to have over the winter.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Chop all your vegetables. Measure how much you'll need by putting them in your pie dish. I used the leftover that I had from making the Spiral Veggie Tart the day before. Transfer your veggies to a large bowl.
Drain the cashews. Add the cashews, vegetable broth, and apple cider vinegar in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour over your bowl of veggies and mix until the veggies are all coated. Depending on what size of a pie you are making you may not need all the cashew sauce. If you filled your pie pan full of veggies then you just want enough to coat the veggies and fill in the space between them. They shouldn't be swimming.
Roll out the bottom layer of your pie crust so that its about an inch wider (or the height of your sides) than the pie pan all the way around. Add the veggies and cashew mix to the pie pan. Roll out the top layer the same way and place it on top. Squeeze the top and bottom layers together around the edge. Slice 3-4 vents in the top of the pie crust.
Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
I made this dish as a side for our feast on Christmas Eve. I combined two recipes that I found on Pinterest. I saw this vegetable tart on Pinterest and thought it was so cool (check out the video on how they made it). My mom thought the same and decided it would look great on a buffet line! That recipe used pie crust and creme fraiche, so I needed to make it gluten free and vegan so that my brother and I could eat it. I had pinned this quiche with sweet potato crust recipe to try the crust sometime and thought it would work great for this. I decided to replace the creme fraiche with a white bean mixture. I'd used white beans as a tart base years ago. Their neutral nature lends them perfectly to this. You can add in whatever seasonings you'd like so the dish doesn't taste like beans and their moisture keeps the dish from drying out and binds the vegetables to the crust.
Make sure your potato isn't sliced too thin and there's a lot of overlap in your crust. It will look like your crust is too think, but the potato slices will shrink during cooking.
My mom was right. This is a great dish to put on a buffet. It's very impressive and looks much more difficult to make than it actually is. I had to be the first one to cut into it because no one wanted to disrupt how great it looked. While it may not have been difficult, it definitely was time consuming, especially because my mom and I did not have the same expectation of how much we were making. I was already to go with two 9 inch pie sheets and she came in and switched them out for 2 13 inch quiche pans.
I made the recipe for one 9 inch pan, since that is a more typical serving size, and much more manageable. It's also helpful if you have someone slicing the vegetables while you arrange them in the pie pan. Thanks Mom!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potatoes and arrange in a crust-like fashion in a 9 inch pie pan. You don't want your slices to be paper thin and a make sure that there is significant overlap among the slices. It will look like the crust is too thick, but the potatoes will cook down significantly. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
If you end up with gaps in your crust you can cook some more potatoes on a cookie sheet and add them in. They will not need to cook for the full 15 minutes.
While your crust is cooking, prepare the base of the filling. Drain and rinse the white beans. Place them in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Add the lemon juice, milk, and nutritional yeast and mix until well combined.
Slice your vegetables using either a vegetable peeler or a mandolin. You can use a knife you you want, but that would take some great skills. You want the vegetable slices to be paper thin so that you roll them up. If you have some slices that are thicker you can use them on the outer edges that don't need to bend as much. Make sure that you get the skin on at least one edge of the slice.
Once the crust has cooled to the touch, fill in any cracks as necessary. Spread the white bean mixture over the crust. It will be thick, so place dollops of it throughout the crust and spread lightly with a fork. You may need to hold down some of the potato slices so they don't move.
Take a vegetable slice and roll it up in a spiral. Place it in the middle of your pie pan. Continue to wrap vegetable slices around the center in an alternating fashion until you finish the pan. You'll have to do a couple rows of the same thing in order to build up the color. Alternate the dark zucchini and eggplant with the lighter carrot and squash. Try to end with something other than the carrot so that there is separation from the orange crust.
Mince the garlic and sprinkle it over the top of the pan. Lightly pour the balsamic vinegar over the top.
Lower the oven temperature to 375 and put the tart in for 40 minutes. The tart is down when the skins of the vegetable slices have soften enough that you can cut through them.
Serve and Enjoy!
This blog is about my adventures adhering to a plant-based diet in a meat-based world and incorporating vegan practices into more parts of my life. As many of my friends and family aren't vegan, and the best part of cooking is sharing your food with others, I try to make recipes that can be enjoyed by vegans and meat-eaters alike.