Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 1 of my Vegan Apprenticeship

Well first a disclaimer:  This was not my first day of eating only plant based food.  For a few months in 2009 my husband and I had one day a week of eating only fruit and veggies.  But the idea behind that was just to have a day each week of detoxing from consumerism and the processed foods it promotes.  It was different because I had no intention of trying to expand the weekly fruit/veg restriction to the rest of the week.  The current challenge is to investigate a Vegan diet, try new recipes and find out about Vegan nutrition with a view eventually eating almost exclusively a Vegan diet.*
The hardest thing about Day 1: 
Tea without milk!  This will take some getting used to.
I bought 3 kinds of soy milk and tried them all.  My verdict: the "So Good Lite" was the most palatable in tea.  I know that taste buds are adaptable so I am certain that if I stick with it eventually tea with soy milk will taste great to me, and tea with regular milk will taste blah.  Hmmm, may take a while!

So to make the transition easier and quicker I am going to stick with soy milk in my tea when practical (ie at home), even though I my plan is to only do one day of strict dairy-free per week at the moment.

The easiest thing about Day 1:
Enjoying scrumptious vegan Chewy Cherry Ripe Cookies.
One downside for me of transitioning to a Vegan diet is chocoholic tendencies.  But hooray!  This vegan chocolate-fix alternative was very satisfying.  I will post the recipe.

Biggest Disappointment on Day 1:
The hot cross buns I had bought (without checking the label) not only had milk but also shortening and "animal fat".  What they mean by animal fat I am not exactly sure but the name says enough.  So no hot cross buns for me this Good Friday.

Cool Find for Day 1:
Nuttelex brand of margarine alternatives.  I bought the "Olive" version, which, unlike the other brand of olive spread already in my fridge, does not have milk solids.   Pictured below is my dinner of hearty and delicious Vegan Corn Chowder and the dairy-alternatives that helped make it.

*I say "almost exclusively Vegan diet" because I have a lot of work to do on the nutritional and health aspects of a strict Vegan diet to see if it is a good long term option.  In Western society these key concerns of B12 and Iron are made easier by the "fortified" soy milks available, but I think that I philosophically feel more inclined to aim for a "natural" diet rather than one dependent on supermarket products.  However I have a lot more reading and thinking to do yet around these complex issues.  I am currently reading The Ethics of What We Eat" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason which I am finding really useful at this stage in my journey. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chewy Cherry Ripe Cookies

A friend made these for book club a few months ago.  There were so delicious that I asked for the recipe and have been planning to make them for ages.  Apparently I needed the motivating kick of my vegan apprenticeship to finally do so!

I am not really sure what the etiquette/copyright is of publishing recipes, but I guess it is okay if the original source is acknowledged.  Anyway, this is more for my own records and perhaps no-one else will ever read it.

My friend based his offering on “Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies” on p 234 of Veganomicon by
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  He morphed the cookies into a cherry ripe version.  Apparently inspired by me telling him that Cherry Ripes have gelatine.  (What!  Cherry Ripes have gelatine!  But why do they have to go ruining something so yummy by including gelatine you may ask?  Beats me!!!)

I stuck pretty closely to my friends version, but upped the cherries a little, and the cherry jam, and downed the sugar.  Result:  YUMMO!  Chocolate craving satisfied!

16 glacé cherries, chopped into quarters
1/2 cup cherry jam
3/4 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon almond essence
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cocoa
1 & 1/3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup dessicated coconut

1. Preheat oven to 180°C
2. Combine dry ingredients (excluding the sugar)
3. In a separate bowl combine all the "wet" ingredients and the sugar.
4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go.
5. Roll into walnut sized balls and press down with a fork on a lined baking tray.
6. Bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minute (if you can resist for that long!)

Corn Chowder

Day one of my vegan apprenticeship!

I have never made any kind of chowder before and so this was an experiment in more ways than one!  I looked at few different recipes on line and in recipe books and then decided to improvise - always much more fun than following a recipe  :)

The result - Yum!
My husband and I found it really tasty and satisfying.  However if I make it again I think I will add a bit more potato and a bit less stock as it was a little more salty than I usually make soups.

1 small leek or half a large leek chopped finely
3 clove of garlic
Good splash of olive oil
4 potatoes diced
1 stick celery chopped small
1 carrot diced
1 heaped teaspoon dried Sage
1 heaped teaspoon dried Thyme
2 and 1/2 cups corn
4 cups veggie stock
(I used Vegeta powdered stock + 4 cups water)
Another 1 and 1/2 cups corn to add near the end
You can add a little Soy milk to taste if you want

1. Saute the leek and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes.
2. Add the chopped veggies and herbs and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the stock, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, until the potato is very soft.
4. Blend - I used a stick blender and did not blend too much as it was nice to have a bit of varied texture.
5. Add the extra corn and heat gently for another couple of minutes.
6. We added a little dash of soy milk directly to our bowls, but it was quite thick and yummy even without the soy milk.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Apprenticeship Begins.

Today is the first day in my quest to change to a vegan diet.

I have been a vegetarian for nearly 5 years.  And honestly, changing to a vegetarian diet was so easy!  I have occasionally missed gelatine (oh marshmallows how I used to love your squishy sweetness).  But I really have not missed other products that animals have had to die to produce.

For quite some time now my conscience has been nudging me towards veganism.  But convenience and taste buds have been bitterly opposing.

Last night I watched the "Farm to Fridge"  - thanks to my meat-eating mum posting it on facebook.  And teary eyed and feeling terribly guilty about the cows who have suffered to feed my dairy addition, I decided it was time to make real commitment.  And so my vegan apprenticeship starts today!

Certainly I am against animal suffering.  But my main reason for wanting to go Vegan is environmental.  The dairy industry has an enormous ecological footprint.  More on that in future blogs.

So my challenge is to cut out dairy.   One day at a time.  And I do mean 1 day at a time because right now more than one day dairy free seems daunting.  I know - I am a wuss!

Step 1 - one dairy free day per week.  If you knew how much I loved my cups of white tea you would know how hard this is going to be for me.  No, soy milk is just not the same.

And I will start to try out new vegan recipes, both sweet and savory.  I will aim to try at least one new vegan recipe per week.  I plan to post recipes,  nutritional info and my veganification experiences here.  Posts about other issues I will continue to post on my regular blog:  Mandy's Musings.

Well, now I am off to the supermarket to buy some soya milk.