Monday, December 30, 2013

Black Eyed Peas for a Lucky New Year

Black eyed peas are a traditional dish for good luck in many cultures, especially at the New Year. In traditional dishes from the southern United States, the peas, which swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity and abundance. Similarly, accompanying greens symbolize money.

I featured this recipe once before, when Rick joined me as a "guest chef." Here it is again, slightly modified to include greens, which I like to sneak in wherever I can. Why not add this to your lucky New Year's feast? It might bring good fortune, and will certainly promote your good health!

Curried Black Eyed Peas
serves 6-8
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 T minced fresh garlic
1 T fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp cumin
4 tsp curry powder
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or water
4 cups kale, chopped
4 (15 oz) cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp maple syrup
2 cans lite coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
2 T lemon juice
tamari to taste

Saute the onion in a little water, over medium heat, for 2-3 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, and curry powder, and cook for a minute or so.
Add tomatoes, and cook until they start to soften.
Add the broth, and bring to a boil.
Add the kale and cook about 5 minutes.
Add the black eyed peas, salt, maple syrup, and coconut milk, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
Serve as a soup, or over rice or quinoa.

Here's another easy recipe, perfect for New Year's Eve, football, Olympics, and cozy evenings by the fire. Green Chile Chickpea Dip is new in the Recipe Box!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sneak Previews

Did you know there are Sneak Previews in the Recipe Box? Yep, true. Take a look at what's there for you right this very minute! These will turn up on the blog at some point, but Recipe Box buyers get them first, the lucky ducks!

Veggie Benny Scramble with Herbed Hollandaise


Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Lemon-Blueberry Babycakes

Easy Gluten Free Bread

Magic Sprinkles

Basil Pesto
Want to be a lucky duck too? Get the whole big fat Recipe Box, with over 100 recipes, snazzy, printable Recipe Cards, and new recipes first, before they hit the blog. It's so much easier than scrolling through 3 years of blog posts, and the price is whatever you want it to be - just $4.99 to $19.99. You choose what works for you.

Thanks for supporting what I do here!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Edible Tree Farm

I've been all over the internet looking for festive, edible Christmas trees. These are my favorites! They look really easy to whip up for all those parties you're hosting or attending this week. And you don't even have to mention that they're vegan. Nobody will care one way or the other!

The Other Side of Fifty
From The Other Side of Fifty, here's an easy (snow)peasy recipe for Snow Peas with Sesame-Cream Cheese Dip. The dip in the original recipe is easily veganized by subbing your favorite vegan cream cheese. No problem! This is so cute, and I think snow peas even have the perfect name for a holiday appetizer.

Next up, a towering veggie tree from For this one you use a foam cone and toothpicks. Looks easy too. Just add a dip and you're all set.
And for dessert, how about this gorgeous Very Berry Holiday Tree from Pizzazzerie? I'm not sure we can get strawberries here this time of year, but if I find some I'm buying them!

Here's to a fun and festive week, with family, friends, and lots of good (vegan!) food!
Cheers, Happy Solstice, and Merry Christmas! xoxo

Friday, December 20, 2013

Soups On! Winner!!!

UPDATE! ArielR, please contact me before Monday! After that, I'll choose a new winner! 

Congratulations Ariel R! You're the lucky winner of Mark Reinfeld's great new book, Soup's On! Please contact me ASAP with your address, and I'll have the publisher get your prize right out to you. I know you'll enjoy it!

Thanks everyone for joining in! My next giveaway is a copy of...

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Vegan Gift Guides

We decided this year to have a very tiny Christmas. The kids aren't coming home, our grandson is out of town with his mom and her other family, we already sold our tree in anticipation of moving (still waiting), and well, funds are kind of tight. Rather than drive ourselves crazy (mostly me) with shopping, wrapping, and shipping a bunch of stuff all over the country, we decided to cut out all of that in favor of a simple little Christmas at home.

Rick and I have gotten each other one gift to open Christmas morning, because we tried zero-gifts one year, and had to admit that it made us kind of sad to have nothing. We like presents. We just can't see the sense in overspending for a family who already has everything they need. We would rather make a donation to someone like A Well Fed World, knowing it will go to someone who really needs it. (Done!)

I always think it's best to buy from local artists and crafters whenever you can, or to make your own gifts. It means more that way, and supports your own local economy. However, if you are shopping out in the world this year, you might want to do it in the greenest, most compassionate way possible. Below is my roundup of Holiday Gift Guides, where you can find all sorts of things to delight everyone on your list, vegan or not.


From VegNews, peruse the Ultimate Green Gift Guide.

VeganCuts offers lots of lovely giftable items. And if you're stuck without ideas for a special someone on your list, you can chat with one of their Gift Gurus!

Thought Catalog has put together A Gift Guide for Your Annoying Vegan Friend. I'm not sure if I'm offended by this or not. Probably not. It could be helpful for non-vegans who think we all just sit around eating lettuce all day.

Choosing Raw has compiled a lovely Holiday Gift Guide. If I were buying stuff for lots of folks this season, I'd start here for advice.

As I mentioned above, check out A Well Fed World. What could be better than feeding people? It's where my heart is, and where you'll always know your gifting dollars are well spent. While you're there, read the article on the Top 10 Reasons to Say No to "Gift" Animals.

A Well Fed World
That should be enough to get you started, along with one little shameless plug for my BeadShop. The holiday season used to provide an important part of my annual income. Since I stopped making beads, I've had a steady stream of emails begging me to start up again. That's not going to happen, but I do still have a fair number of beads for sale, so now is the time to get them. They're vegan. I made them with my own little hands. And, yeah, I can still use the money.

Happy Shopping, Happy Giving, and Happy Holidays, how ever you choose to celebrate them!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Vegan Vitamin D

photo credit
It's the time of year when many of us start to wonder if we're getting enough vitamin D, particularly those of us who don't eat animal products. Because I live in a generally sunny climate (even though it gets below freezing often in the winter), I haven't really given it much thought. But it looks like maybe I should.

We make vitamin D in our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. About 15 minutes a day seems to be enough, but the catch is, it has to be outside, not through a sunny window. From what I've read, glass filters out all but a fraction of the Vitamin D producing UVB rays, leaving us with the skin damaging UVA rays. Although my south facing windows are warm and cozy to sit by, they aren't going to do the trick as far as vitamin D goes, and darn it, the light might actually be bad for my skin. Going outside with sufficiently exposed skin to produce the vitamin myself isn't a good option either on sunny, but 20 degree days.

So what about supplements? Most are made from either pig or sheep skins. Not exactly vegan. There are, however, vegan D supplements on the market, so do a little googling and read labels if this seems like a good idea for you.

Another option, not in pill form, which pleases me, is mushrooms. As I understand it, skin and mushrooms are the only things that can manufacture vitamin D from sunlight. Mushrooms are a pretty good vegan source of the vitamin as they come from the store, especially if they're grown outside, but you can boost the levels enormously by placing your mushrooms in sunlight. Again, it has to be outdoors, not through a window. I'm giving it a try as we speak.

I will confess that I have a history of being "seasonally affected," but it never occurred to me that I might be low on vitamin D, especially in New Mexico! I have a tray of nice fat crimini mushrooms out on my patio now, and will give the slices another dose tomorrow before storing them in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Fresh mushrooms should be eaten within 5-7 days, so this will be an ongoing process for me. You can also make good use of summer sun next year by sunning, dehydrating, and storing dried mushrooms for the winter.

And by the way, never store fresh mushrooms in plastic or air tight containers. They need to breathe. Ever had mushrooms develop a "fishy" smell? Don't eat them! Food poisoning is really not fun. Store fresh mushrooms in a paper bag, and eat them within a few days.

For more on how to add sunny vitamin D to your mushrooms, visit Fungi Perfecti.
Other sources for this post are:
Fresh Mushrooms - Nature's Hidden Treasure
Mark's Daily Apple
Valley Mushrooms - Frugal Living

Monday, December 9, 2013

Soup's On! Mideast Chickpea Soup... and Another Book Giveaway!!!

One of my favorite vegan chefs, Mark Reinfeld, has another book out! This one is called
The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup's On!: More than 100 Quick and Easy Recipes for Every Seasonand it's another winner for Mark. We're big on soup around here, especially in the colder months, and this book will really give me a lot of new flavors to play with through the winter and beyond.

There are sections within the book focusing on Vegetable-Based Soups, Soups and Stews with Grains, Legumes, and Pasta, Creamy Blended Soups, and even Raw Soups and Dessert Soups. There's also a chapter in the beginning on the Art of Soup Creation, and one at the end on Garnishes and Sides. I'm pretty sure Rick and I could eat all winter from just this one book.

Narrowing my list of must-trys down to one to share with you here wasn't easy.  Would it be Fried Green Tomato Soup au Gratin? Or maybe African Peanut Soup? Or Vietnamese Pho Real Bowl or Veggie Coq au Vin or New England Chowder? I finally settled on the Mideast Chickpea Soup because I had just cooked up a big batch of sprouted chickpeas. It was perfect timing.

The night I set out to make what Rick now says is his Very Favorite Soup, the electricity went out, and there I stood, in a dark kitchen with a bowl of beans and a pile of chopped vegetables in front of me. Fortunately it's winter, and we had a good fire going in the wood stove. I moved my soup project into the living room and cooked it over wood heat. It came out a little bit different from the recipe because I didn't have electricity to run the blender. Not a problem! I improvised with a potato masher, and we had a less creamy but still absolutely delicious soup. 

And now, with permission, enjoy the recipe for Mideast Chickpea Soup! Then order your own book from Amazon or any of the other usual places, and enter here to WIN a FREE COPY!!! Mark and his publisher have generously agreed to send a copy of Soup's On to one of my lucky readers! To enter, leave a comment on this post. I'll choose a winner in a random drawing on Friday, December 20. Good luck!
From the book The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! by Mark Reinfeld.  Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2013.

Mideast Chickpea Soup
Believe it or not, peace in the Middle East can start in your own kitchen, with this
recipe. Try it and I think you will understand why. The creaminess comes from blending
the chickpeas with tahini, a ground sesame seed paste that is the Middle Eastern equivalent of our Western peanut butter. Top with Tofu Feta (page 207) and Basil Oil (page 188) and serve with Pita Chips (page 199).

2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 cups vegetable stock (see page 25) or water
1¼ cups diced onion
½ cup diced celery
6 garlic cloves, 5 left whole and 1 pressed
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained well
¾ cup creamy tahini
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
¼ cup diced kalamata olives or Tapenade, for garnish (see page 193)
Fresh parsley or fresh oregano leaves, for garnish

1. Place the cumin in a 3-quart pot over high heat. Toast until golden brown and aromatic,
about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Add the vegetable stock, onion, celery, the five whole cloves of the garlic, and one can of the
chickpeas and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Carefully transfer to a blender and blend until creamy.
4. Return the mixture to the pot, add the remaining ingredients, except the pressed garlic, parsley, olive oil, if using, and olives, and cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the pressed garlic, parsley, and olive oil, if using, and stir well. The whole chickpeas will sink to the bottom of the pot, so be sure to stir well before serving.
5. Garnish each serving with about 2 teaspoons of olives and a leaf of parsley.
• Replace the salt with 1½ tablespoons wheat-free tamari or other soy sauce.
• Add 1 cup of corn and 1 cup of seeded and diced red bell pepper after blending.
• Replace the chickpeas with cannellini beans or your favorite.

• Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder along with the cumin, and replace the parsley with cilantro for an Indian flair.

Cook's notes: I've made this twice now - the first time on the wood stove, and then again on my electric stove. It was perfect both times. I used sprouted, home cooked chickpeas, which you certainly don't have to do. I'm just weird that way. I also customized the second batch a little bit. Because I have a small NutriBullet blender with a plastic jar, I didn't want to blend hot soup in it. I toasted the cumin, then sautéed the onions, celery, and garlic in a little water before adding half of the chickpeas and some of the broth to cool it down. After blending I added everything else and proceeded with the recipe as written. One other thing - I was out of tahini the second round, so I soaked 1/2 cup of sesame seeds for a while, drained them, and cooked them in with the onions and celery before blending. It was a little bit less rich and creamy than if I'd used tahini, but it was still quite good. Rick didn't really notice the difference until I told him. It's still his favorite soup!

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's Nog-Tini Time

In my family, Thanksgiving always marked the start of Egg Nog Season. Every year we had a big sugary carton of the store-bought stuff to go with our gooey breakfast cinnamon rolls, in front of the TV, watching the Macy's Parade. From there we'd bounce off the walls until a big ole turkey dinner would knock us comatose. How crazy is that entire scenario, on so many levels? Of course it's a happy childhood memory, but only two things from it stick with me now - the parade and the nog, although now it's made from cashews instead of eggs. This is a really easy recipe to make in your blender, and because it's sweetened with dates (and contains no raw eggs) it's much healthier than traditional store bought or homemade nogs. Drink it straight up, in your coffee or tea, or mixed up into a decadent Nog-Tini (recipe below).

Cashew Nog

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water at least 2 hours
1/2 cup pitted dates (about 20-25 dates)
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cold water

Cut the dates in half to be sure the pits are all out, and pour the 1 cup of boiling water over them, allowing the dates to soak for at least an hour. Longer is better.
When all the soaking is done, drain and rinse the cashews only.
Place the cashews, dates and date water, and all other ingredients in a blender, and blend on high speed for about one minute or until very smooth. Store in the refrigerator and shake well before serving.


3 cups Cashew Nog
1 1/2 cups Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 1/2 cups vodka
nutmeg for garnish

Stir or shake all ingredients together and chill well before serving, or serve over ice with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. Cheers, my dears!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Last Chance to Enter!

Quick! This is your last chance to enter to win a free copy of the terrific book, One-Dish Vegan! I'll hold the drawing today at noon, Mountain Time, and will post the winner's name here and on Facebook. Good luck!!! Enter HERE!