Mushroom Bolognese

One of my favorite sauces is Bolognese.  It’s simple, delicious, and reminds me of one of my favorite meals growing up.  This meat-free version is made from ground mushrooms and is ready in about 30 minutes.

Mushroom Bolognese

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2 (8 oz) packs of cremini mushrooms

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

1 medium-size carrot

1 medium celery rib

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp oil, or water

½ cup red wine

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ cup cashew cream

1 tsp rosemary

In a food processor, pulse the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and mushrooms until finely chopped. In a large pan warmed over medium heat, add oil, or 2 Tbsp water, if not using oil. Add the vegetables, season with basil, oregano, and cook over moderate heat until softened, 20 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp of water, or stock, as needed, to prevent sticking.
Add the wine, salt, and red pepper; and stir. Cook until the wine evaporates.  About 3-4 minutes.

Add the cream, rosemary, and 1/4 cup of grated vegan cheese and simmer for 5 minutes.
At this point, you can either add warm pasta, and 1 cup of water to the sauce and toss, stirring until the pasta is well-coated, or stuff shells and top with remaining creme sauce. Serve.

Mercy, Mercy, Me (The Ecology)

Mercy, Mercy, Me (The Ecology)

To quote the late great Marvin Gaye, “Oh, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no. Oil wasted on the oceans, and upon our seas, fish full of mercury.” “What about this overcrowded land? How much more abuse from man can she stand?” Gaye wrote the lyrics for this iconic song in 1971, the year I was born. This song which came out nearly 50 years ago, could have easily been written about our world today.  Marvin Gaye is one of my favorite poets and modern-day soothsayers. Through his music, he advocated not just for the rights of his black brothers and sisters, but for all people, and for the planet. Gaye wrote about things like discrimination, hate, division–the themes of countless generations. But he also spoke of hope, acceptance, love, and unity. I think it’s cool that throughout history many cultural revolutions have been played out through music.   I am a proud product of this generation–born to learn from the mistakes of those who came before me and to speak my mind. 

That said, as a staunch advocate of veganism, I have been accused a time or two of being self-righteous. But self-righteous people believe they are morally superior and often speak in terms of unfounded certainties. In other words, they espouse their own “self-serving” versions of the truth. That is not me, nor my intention. The truths I speak of have been scientifically proven over and over again. These laws of nature are predictable, measurable, and, as it seems–inevitable. But I have learned to be careful when I speak because sometimes passion can be mistaken for preaching. So, I will do my best to walk the line. 

I have written before about the carnage of modern-day animal agriculture, an industry whose practices are protected by “AgGag Laws.”  The Agricultural Gag Laws are designed to silence whistleblowers who reveal animal abuses on industrial farms. Ag-gag laws currently exist in seven states, penalizing whistleblowers who investigate the day-to-day activities of industrial farms. (1). In my state of Missouri, whistleblowing has been criminalized. In other words, if someone exposes the truth of any atrocity, they can be prosecuted and penalized. The State legislature and the lobbyist behind them believe that these “truths” can be damaging to corporate interests and their profits.  

Organizations like the ASPCA and PETA who make it their mission to expose these inhumane practices are often villainized by the mainstream who believe that abusing a cat or dog is horrifying but are unwilling to take action when it comes to the horrors suffered by agricultural animals. Part of this is cognitive dissonance is due to societal conditioning; we do things because that’s the way everyone does it, but also because the atrocities and abuse in our food system are hidden away. 

This abuse leads me to my next point, the conditions that are causing the suffering of these animals. To quote journalist Michael Pollan, “Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.” I read his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” four years ago and have used it as a reference point for many of my meat-eating friends who have questions about my choice to be a vegan. Before reading Pollan’s book, I had watched a documentary called Food, Inc. Prior to becoming a vegan, I had never given much thought to where my food came from. But once I learned where it came from I was appalled. It became my mission to learn as much as I could and to teach others. I am not going to go into all of that because I already have in previous posts here, but suffice to say what we are going through now, is no surprise to me.  

Covid-19 has been referred to as the Wuhan Flu after being traced to a wet market in Wuhan China. These wet food markets sell live animals, without much, if any regulation. Like many other zoonic diseases like Mad-Cow, Swine Flu, Ebola, they are given their names from the animals or areas where they originated. These diseases are passed from animals to humans due to things like “Habitat erosion, which may be one of the biggest factors in how viruses have begun breaking down the walls between us and the animals that originally carried them.” And the most common way they initially transfer to us through our modern-day food system. “It’s the handling that comes before eating — the killing, skinning, and butchering — that is highly risky.” (3)

But that’s China.  Just because we don’t have wet markets here in the US doesn’t mean that we don’t get sick from our food here. Currently, there is an outbreak of fatal bird flu in South Carolina that has people worried statewide about the low pathogenic disease, which has mutated into the more severe version and can be transmitted from “species to species.” For years in neighboring Duplin County, North Carolina, where 20% of people who live within a half-mile of a pig or poultry farm have asthma, mucous membrane irritation, respiratory conditions, reduced lung function, and acute blood pressure elevation. Statewide about 900,000 or 10% of the population lives within 3 miles of such farms. And as it often does, it seems to affect mostly minorities and the poor. 

In a 2017 article, The Guardian reported that researchers from the University of North Carolina revealed that most of the state’s industrial hog operations disproportionately affect African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans, a pattern, that “is generally recognized as environmental racism.” “They (corporations) fill massive lagoons with [waste], and they take that lagoon stuff and spray it over fields,” said US Senator Cory Booker in recalling a trip to North Carolina late last year. “I watched it mist off of the property of these massive pig farms into black communities. And these African American communities are like, ‘We’re prisoners in our own home.’ The biggest company down there [Smithfield] is a Chinese-owned company, and so they’ve poisoned black communities, land value is down, abhorrent … This corporation is outsourcing its pain, its costs, on to poor black people in North Carolina.” 

Former NC State Representative Rep. John Blust in a general assembly meeting called out his colleagues for protecting big business by “passing amendments to prevent anyone who lived more than a half-mile from the source of an alleged nuisance from suing. The law prohibits lawsuits filed more than a year after the farm begins operation or undergoes “a fundamental change” and bar punitive damages unless the farm operator had been convicted of a crime or civil enforcement action for violations related to the alleged nuisance.  (4) Blust went on to say that the legislation “shields “one giant corporation” from individual neighbors who have legitimate concerns about the stench, the flies, the buzzards, and the dried remains of sprayed and liquefied hog excrement that coated their houses. Blust and his constituents lost as the bill was ultimately rushed through to avoid debate and amendments.

We have reached a frightening precipice in time, a global crossroads if you will. With recent news reports of groceries seeing meat shortages by the end of the week due to hundreds of Covid-19 outbreaks in meatpacking plants, there will likely be a mad rush to buy up the current supply. If this happens, millions will be forced to find their protein sources from other means. I hope that people will realize what some of us have known all along, ware designed to eat plants. Just because we have evolved to eat meat, doesn’t mean we should. Plants are not only a sustainable resource for human consumption, but they are a viable resource for our planet. Every day I eat the bounty of the plant world, and I am neither hungry or dissatisfied. I am healthy and happy. In the last week, I have had two people reach out to me, wanting me to know that I had helped change their perspective. They are both moving toward veganism. I hope that those two will help two more, who will help two more. Epidemiologists, climate scientists, and countless others have shown through scientific modeling that we don’t make a significant shift and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again; it will eventually lead to our demise. That would be awful. Finally, I am reminded of this great parable I’ve heard for years.  

“The Drowning Man.”

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Breakfast Slider

Vegan Breakfast Slider

St. Louis is known for many things: the Arch, Budweiser Beer, Chuck Berry, Bob Costas, and Joe and Jack Buck.  We are second only to the New York Yankees for the most World Series wins, we are the current Stanley Cup winners (Go Blues!), and former home to the Super Bowl Champion, St. Louis Rams. Yo, Kurt Warner! And we eat things that nobody else has ever heard of outside of St. Louis, like toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, and the slinger.  

The area in the Lou famously referred to as “The Hill” is home to baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. It is also home to our beloved toasted ravioli. As the story goes, a fresh ravioli fell into the fryer at a place called Mama Campisi’s on a day when Joe Garagiola was there. After this fateful event, these little pieces of fried heaven allegedly began appearing on menus around town. Served with a warm marinara sauce, all I can say is, sono così deliziosi!

The Gooey Buttercake, another St. Louis favorite, also came about by accident. Although nothing like a traditional cake, this chewy goodness is part coffeecake and part gooey custard. And if you’ve ever had a piece, you know how sinfully delicious it is. Some say that in the 1930s a baker mistakenly mixed up their ingredients for a traditional coffee cake and voila. Accident, or fate? You be the judge! 

And finally, our favorite of the three, “The Slider.” A meal best appreciated and usually served between the hours of midnight and 3:00 AM, at places like the “Eat Rite” diner near Busch stadium, the Slider is essentially anything you want it to be. Yep, it’s that post-drinking, pre-pass out frankenfood that has become a right of passage for those who dare tread in our waters. The basic version is hash browns, eggs, and a hamburger patty smothered in chili, then topped with cheese and chopped onions, and it will leave you feeling a bit dizzy and crying fire in the hole the next day! But the best part of any slinger is it can be any combination of your favorite foods slapped on top of each other and consumed in relatively short order. We prefer to make a healthier vegan version that will not only leave you feeling satisfied,  it’s also a great way to finish off all of those leftovers!      

Our slinger begins with a basic Tofu Scramble from The Minimalist Baker, which we cook for about 8 minutes before adding a half pack of Trader Joe’s Vegan Chorizo. Made from soy and only a few other natural ingredients, their chorizo tastes just like its traditional counterpart, but without all of the disgusting greasiness. We layer scramble with hashbrowns or roasted potatoes, and then garnish with salsa, avocados, cilantro, hot sauce, 1/4 cup of vegan gravy, or my favorite Cashew Queso! In this picture, I also added a delicious vegan Chili Colorado.   You’re welcome.  

 

Ayubowan–May You Have Long Life

Ayubowan–May You Have Long Life
When I got sick a few years ago, I knew that western medicine would not offer me much in the way of actual healing. Having been a follower of ancient Chinese medicine for years (thank you, Bill Moyers, for “Healing and the Mind”), I knew the powers of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and of course, the meditative practices of Buddhist yoga. But after listening to dozens of podcasts by a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Stephen Cabral, I began researching an even older practice of medicine from India called Ayurveda. While the Chinese have been practicing medicine for nearly 3500 years, the Indian’s have been practicing for over 5,000 years. I have adopted the practices of both cultures but would consider myself more of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Chinese, and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, are the two most commonly practiced forms of traditional medicine in Asia.  Both share a similar holistic approach—treat the person as a whole vs. treating just a symptom or set of symptoms. Philosophically, however, they are very different from each other. Ayurvedic medicine takes a constitution-based approach, i.e., individuals are born with different traits and characteristics that are unchanging. When their constitution (dosha) is out of balance, it creates a set of symptoms that, if left unchecked, can lead to “dis-ease.” Chinese medicine treats what they call ch’i or qi in the body. Ch’i is a vital energy that connects to all of your organs and their function. It also uses an aggregate of healing modalities, which includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, massage, dietary therapy, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. It is ultimately based on Taoist philosophy. I will write more in-depth about Chinese medicine in a future post, but for now, let’s talk Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes the three doshas or biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They believe that doshas govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprinting for health and fulfillment. These doshas are called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Your constitution, or dosha, is determined at the time of conception. Much like the color of your eyes, or the size of your stature, your composition is unchanging. While we have all three doshas in our body, we each have a dominant dosha that cannot be changed. Once a Vata, always a Vata. Let’s begin.

Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs, and formation of all the seven tissues — nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow, and reproductive tissues. Therefore Kapha controls our lymphatic system. Even in the desert parts of the country, winter is relatively damp and cold with spurts of snow, ice, or freezing rain. These elements create a similar reaction within the body to accumulate Kapha, particularly avalambaka Kapha (Kapha housed in the respiratory system). We feel the results as we blow our nose and cough our way through winter.

For me, winter means puffy eyes, and puffy eyes can be a clue your lymph fluid is getting sluggish. Other signs of an “increased” Kapha (when a particular dosha is present in higher than average proportions, it is increased, aggravated, or excess state) can be sluggishness, swelling, higher than normal blood pressure, and excessive phlegm. So what can we do? Exercise!

It turns out lymph vessels are squeezed by your muscles when you move. Therefore, exercise plays a vital role in lymphatic fluid circulation. Deep breathing exercises can also benefit the flow of lymphatic fluid because of the pressure deep breathing creates in the chest and abdominal cavities along with the contractions of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

Lymphatic Yoga motions: neck motion – slowly lift your chin to the ceiling and look up while inhaling slowly; bring it down, on a slow exhalation and look at the heart (Repeat 3X). Bring your head to a neutral position. Turn your head to the right and look over the shoulder far behind you, the same to the left (3X). Shoulder motion – breathe in, slowly lift your shoulders to the ceiling, exhale with a sigh and let them go down (Repeat 5X).

Other ways to balance your Kapha:

  • Breathe deeply and slowly for at least 10 min daily.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Reduce your daily salt intake.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake.

Vata dosha governs movement in the body, the activities of the nervous system, and the process of elimination. Vata translates into “That Which Moves Things,” and it governs anything related to movement, such as breathing, talking, nerve impulses, shifts in the muscles and tissues, circulation, assimilation of food, elimination, urination, and menstruation. Vata is often called the “King of the Doshas,” since it governs the body’s greater life force and gives motion to Kapha (“That Which Sticks”), and Pitta the third and final dosha (“That Which Cooks”).

I am a Vata dominant and winter time is the hardest time for me.  Vata’s love warm climates and warm food.  They have high energy (bordering on hyper) and have a hard time saying no. Vata’s respond to stress with fear, and because their mind is continuously moving, it makes Savasana in yoga (a time of extreme silence), the hardest part of yoga! Vata’s are quick to learn, usually fast talkers, and tire quickly because they try to do 1000 things at once. If Vata’s are out of balance, it’s because they have exceeded the limits of their energy.  They can sometimes become anxious and can’t sleep.  Vata dosha is closely connected to the root chakra, which is responsible for grounding and bringing a sense of wholeness and happiness.  Ground through yoga and exercise can be quite helpful.

Ways to balance Vata:

Pitta derives from the elements Fire and Water and translates as “that which cooks.” It is the energy of digestion and metabolism, and energy production in the body that functions through the carrier substances such as organic acids, hormones, enzymes, and bile.

The central locations of Pitta in the body are the small intestines, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes, and sweat. Physiologically, Pitta provides the body with heat and energy through the breakdown of complex food molecules. The primary function of Pitta is transformation. Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind.

Qualities of Pitta:
• Hot
• Light
• Intense
• Penetrating
• Pungent
• Sharp
• Acidic

Pittas doshas are usually of medium size and weight. They sometimes have bright red hair, but baldness or thinning hair is also typical in a Pitta. They have excellent digestion, which sometimes leads them to believe they can eat anything. Aggravated Pitta causes problems related to excessive heat and acidity in mind and body such as acid indigestion, diarrhea, anger, fever, hot flashes, infections, and rashes.

To balance Pitta:

  • Enjoy exercise, but avoid getting over-heated or too embroiled in competitive sports.
  • Keep cool. Avoid hot temperatures and food.
  • Walking in nature especially by bodies of water or in the shade of mature trees, yoga, swimming, skiing, cycling, etc. are good choices
  • Favor cooking with cooling spices like fennel, coriander, cardamom, and turmeric. Coconut oil and olive oil are also good.
  • Avoid chili peppers, vinegar, alcohol, tobacco, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate
  • Get to bed before 10 PM
  • Moderation; don’t overwork.
  • Allow for leisure time.
  • Regular mealtimes, especially lunch at noon.

In sports nutrition, the doshas are very similar to the endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph body types, as you will see below.
• Vatas are energizer bunnies that love to move. They are most similar to the Ectomorph body type.
• Pittas are natural athletes. They are comparable to the Mesomorph body type.
• Kaphas are most like the Endomorph body type.

Often, due to many factors in our environments like weather, seasons, lifestyle choices, and diet, the most dominant dosha tends to become imbalanced, but any Dosha can also become imbalanced. These imbalances create a secondary, “current” state, known as Vikriti, which results from inadequately supporting our natural constitution (Prakriti). We push ourselves off balance by continually eating foods or adopting habits that are not suited to us — primarily by exposing ourselves to more of the Doshic energies that we already have. If we are experiencing symptoms of imbalance, such as bloating, rashes, spots, hot flushes, itchy skin, sore gums, gassiness, tummy upsets, lousy temper, tiredness, or anxiety, it means that our Vikriti is way off from our Prakriti. These signs that our mind-body is off-kilter, if left unchecked, lead to disease down the road.

In summary, the doshas are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and any other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. When we live in the fulfillment of our natures, we naturally make lifestyle and dietary decisions that foster balance within our doshas. But when we live against our intrinsic nature, we tend to support unhealthy patterns that lead to physical and mental imbalances. In my next blog post, I will discuss some of the ways to re-balance your doshas and begin to explore some of the themes of traditional Chinese medicine.

Thank you Stephen Cabral, ND for your passion and knowledge that you share so freely and lovingly.

Until then, Ayubowan!

Aloo Gobi with Chana

Aloo Gobi with Chana
After Mexican food, Thai food, and Indian food vie for second as my most favorite food.   A few weeks ago my husband ordered a Veg Manchurian from our favorite Indian restaurant. It was delicious, but it was waaaaay too SPICY.  I got the hiccups and couldn’t feel my tongue after 7 bites.   Maybe it’s just my western palate, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if it lost some of its heat.   So I decided to dive headfirst into Indian cooking!   The ingredients sound complex, but it really is ALL about the spices.  After perusing many a dozen recipes (both North and South Indian) I realized that most of the spices in this recipe are universally Indian/Middle Eastern, and by adding them to my pantry, I opened up a whole new world (or at least a dozen countries worth) of food!

Aloo Gobi is a simple dish made from cauliflower and potatoes.  There are generally two kinds of Aloo Gobi, one made with onions and tomatoes, and one without.   I love both, but this one is my favorite…mostly because I envisioned eating it over creamy coconut curried lentils!  I added chickpeas or “chana” to bump the protein and it was delicious!

Baked Aloo Gobi with Chana

•2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes

•1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets

•1 14 oz. can chickpeas (chana) 

•2 Tbsp Olive Oil 

•2 tsp. ground cumin 

•2 tsp. ground turmeric

•1 tsp. ground coriander

•¾ tsp garam masala

•¾ tsp dried fenugreek leaves

•¾ tsp amchur (dry mango powder)

•1 Tbsp. minced ginger

•1 Tbsp. minced garlic

•Pinch of asafetida (optional, but really great)

•Pinch of cayenne (adjust according to preference)

•1 tsp. (or more) kosher salt

•1 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lime juice

•½ cup chopped cilantro

Instructions

1. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and put in large bowl.

2. Chop the potatoes into 1” cubes and add to the bowl.  Add drained, rinsed chickpeas.

3. Mix spices until well combined.   Remove Add spices to the vegetable mix; toss to coat.

4. Add olive oil, minced ginger, and garlic, to the bowl and toss well. 

5. Let the vegetable mix sit for a minute or two.

6.Spread mixture in a large stoneware or 3” ceramic baking dish. 

7. Bake at 400° F (204 C) for 20 mins, then cover with parchment and bake for another 15 mins or until tender. Taste and adjust salt and spices accordingly. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a dash of turmeric, and lime juice. And serve hot with any Indian bread.

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Running the Path

Running the Path
The other day my neighbor came over for coffee.  She seemed a bit down and out and told me she was thinking about running.  She said she wanted to feel better about her body, and that losing some weight would make her feel better about herself.   She told me she had never run before, and wanted to pick my brain on how to run.   I smiled and said, “Go put on some running shoes and run!  Don’t overthink it.   Just go for a run.  Don’t worry about how fast you are, how long your run is, or how many times you had to stop to catch your breath.  Just go run.”  I remember not being able to run ¼ mile without stopping.  Now I run a full 8 miles without resting once.   I started by simply putting one foot in front of the other.  “But,” I also cautioned her, “it’s not the weight you lose from running that makes you feel good about yourself.  Weight loss is an extrinsic motivator and will likely be a reason you stop running.  Don’t seek to be a size two.  Instead seek dedication, consistency, and persistence.  They will make you feel better about yourself.”  Change your vernacular and you will change your life.

Like yoga, running has changed my life.  It’s become a way for me to quiet my mind.  It is like a moving meditation.   I focus solely on my breath and let go of all tension and thought.   When I hit my stride, I feel like I could run forever.   I achieve the same state when I stay in certain deep asanas, like pigeon, for a long time.   It’s the best feeling in the world.  If I am in a bad mood, anxious, stuck creatively, whatever is going on, I will go for a run, or do some flows.  And when I’m done, all is well again.

When I look back over the last year, hell, over the last decade… I am proud to say I have accomplished much.   I have gained a lot, learned a lot, but also forgotten much, and lost a lot.   I have reached some goals that I never imagined possible, while I watched other dreams go up in smoke…but that, as they say “is life.”    The “one foot in front of the other” mentality has served me well, until now.   Lately, I feel fearful and uncertain about some big things in my life.  And the truth is, I don’t really know why.  Life has pretty much stayed the same.  But then I think maybe that’s the reason I feel this way.  The Buddha said, “There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.”  I get it, I want more.  But thinking about my future is almost paralyzing.   It was the Buddha who said, “Overthinking is the greatest cause of unhappiness.”  So perhaps silence is best.  Who knows, maybe I’ll slow down and give silent meditation a try.  Or maybe I’ll just go for a longer run.  🙂

With that, Happy New Year’s and Happy New Decade.  May you have many abundant blessings, and may you get back all that you give.  Remember to seek out joy, as it is always there for us. May you find peace in any given moment, and may you do hard and scary things!  Grow abundantly!  Namaste!

Vegan Gluten-Free Gravy Mix

Vegan Gluten-Free Gravy Mix
This is a super easy and delicious gravy mix.   When I first began my search for a good vegan gravy recipe I was sorely disappointed.  I desperately wanted to find something that even closely resembled the gravy I grew up eating.   But the base for the gravy I was used to eating was made from sausage grease and whole wheat flour!  Oh, and did I mention that I also needed it to be gluten-free?   So for a few years, I used various time-consuming methods to achieve a mediocre gravy.   After years of experimenting, I give you this!  Now I can make a delicious vegan gravy that has all the flavor and consistency of the gravy from my past!  Vegan Slingers here I come!

Easy Vegan Gravy Mix

¾ cup brown rice flour

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp corn starch

1.5 tsp sage

1.5 tsp salt

1.5 tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

Add to a mason jar and shake well.

To Use:  Add ¼  cup of dry mix to a sauce pan and add 2-3 cups of plant-based milk.    Stir well and bring to a boil.   Reduce heat and add more milk if needed.   Enjoy!

 

Fire Roasted Vegan Tomato Bisque

Fire Roasted Vegan Tomato Bisque

The other day my oldest daughter was craving tomato soup.  I had to admit it sounded really good to me too.   Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the best!  Of course, her version was a can you throw in the microwave, and mine was, well…this.

Fire Roasted Vegan Tomato Bisque

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1medium onion, diced
  • Two 14 1/2-ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with juices
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular sweet paprika works, too)
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup(80ml) light coconut milk, or cashew cream

INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, over medium-low heat. When the pot is hot, add onions and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft. Stir often and add 1 TBSP stock or water if needed, to keep the onions from burning.
    2. Add tomatoes, including the liquid, and stock. Add tomato paste, dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, and a pinch of kosher salt. Raise the heat to medium and bring everything to boil. Let the soup simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Let the soup cool off for 5 minutes before transferring to a blender to blend.  (I blend a little more than half of the mixture and leave the rest for a bit for texture).
    3. Return soup to pot and stir in coconut milk or cream.
    4. Serve in bowls with black pepper, minced basil leaves, nutritional yeast, and a swirl of cashew cream, if you’d like.
    5. Top with croutons. I used Minimalist Baker’s “Actually Crispy Chickpeas”  She nailed it!

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

For years when I thought of pumpkins, of course, I thought of Halloween and my absolute favorite pie in the whole world.  But when I had Pumpkin Soup for Thanksgiving in New Orleans one year, I realized my view had been very short-sided, and maybe there was more to this magical fruit than I knew!  Pumpkins are a cultivar of a squash plant and are technically a fruit.   And in this soup, they lend a creamy texture and a rich depth of flavor amplified by spices and slow-cooked onions.  Yes.  The Onions.  To me, they are what make this soup shine.   A no-oil onion sauté deglazed with hearty vegetable stock.  To me, this is one of the most amazing ways to build flavor.   Let me show you how.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, diced; or two medium-size shallots diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1 ½ tsp ginger, minced, or ¾ tsp of ginger powder

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried coriander

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp black pepper

4 cups vegetable stock

1 14 oz can coconut cream (can use canned coconut milk in a pinch)

3 cans organic pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)

Hot sauce (optional, I use a mild Green Tabasco)

Heat pan on low medium heat until warm.  Add onions, stir until onions become translucent and begin to stick.   Add ½ cup stock and stir to deglaze the pan.  Once the water begins to evaporate add spiced and stir.   Cook for 1-2 minutes and add garlic and ginger.   Cook for 30 seconds and add remaining vegetable stock and stir to deglaze pan again.  Add coconut cream and pumpkin puree.  Stir well and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Taste for spices, and adjust according to your preference.  I added a bit more salt and a little more thyme.  Serve with roasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and roasted spiced chickpeas. Enjoy!   

Mexican Tortilla Soup

Mexican Tortilla Soup

One of my favorite things in the whole world used to be Qdoba’s Tortilla Soup. I loved it. Couldn’t get enough of it. However, when I looked up the ingredients, I was astonished! It tasted so simple and delicious. There were a ton of preservatives and an ungodly amount of salt. I never would have imagined that it was so processed! So when it came time to develop my menu for a Mexican cooking class at the Conservatory…I knew what I was going to do. This version is delicious, clean, and a perfect “Welcome to Fall” soup!

  • 1 can jackfruit drained, rinsed 
  • 2 Leeks chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 Green Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (diced)
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 cup Chunky Salsa
  • 2 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes (15 oz ea.)
  • 4 cups Vegetable Broth (low sodium)
  • 3.5 cups black beans, drained, rinsed
  • Toppings:

    • 5 Corn Tortillas
    • Avocado 
    • Chopped Green Onions 
    • Lime Wedges 
    • Vegan Sour Cream 

    Jackfruit:

    Lay the jackfruit on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Using your fingers, press the jackfruit chunks and pull apart into large shreds. Set aside.

    On medium heat:

    1. Add leeks and garlic to large soup pot. Sauté in veggie broth, until softened
    2. Add Bell Peppers and Chipotle Peppers, and simmer until softened
    3. Add Jackfruit 
    4. Add all spices and stir well.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes
    5. Add Salsa
    6. Add Tomatoes (with juice)
    7. Add Veggie Broth, and deglaze pan 
    8. Bring to a simmer and stir well*
    9. Drain beans and add to pot
    10. Cover, and simmer on low, or until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.

    Tortilla Strips

    1. Preheat oven to 375° degrees
    2. Cut Corn Tortillas into 1/2″ wide strips
    3. Add strips to a plastic bag or paper sack and toss with 1/2 tsp each: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt etc.  (You can use oil or a little broth to help them stick)
    4. Lay strips onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes
    5. Toss occasionally to ensure even crisping.

    *If you want to blend the soup and return to pot for a more authentic Qdoba soup, now is the time. Once pureed you can add the black beans and jackfruit, and simmer through until warmed. About 15-20 minutes.

    **If you wish to add more heat: Use 1 tsp of adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can until you reach desired heat. 

    When soup is finished, garnish with 1 small dollop of vegan sour cream, minced cilantro, small avocado slice, a few tortilla strips, and serve.