Rooty Tooty, Fresh and Tofutti!

Tofu

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t eat a lot of red meat, so tofu usually fills in that void in my diet.

Recently, Richard from Tofu Xpress sent me one of their sweet little devices to try out. I was a little skeptical about the benefits of squeezing all of the liquid out of tofu….isn’t the point of tofu to be a meat replacement? And don’t you kind of WANT your “meat” to be moist?

So I did some research. Read a bunch of tofu recipes (normally I hand Chef the tofu and say “abracadabra!” or something equally odd and he makes it into food for me). Figured out that YES you DO want to squeeze the water out of tofu.

photo from TofuXpress.com

This makes room for the marinade to soak into the tofu, since tofu itself doesn’t really have a taste, per se. When you press the water out of the tofu, it also changes the texture of it, making it easier to grill or bake.

Enter the Tofu Xpress.

I checked out a couple of homemade ways that you could squeeze all of the water out of the tofu….but since you kinda need to refrigerate the whole shebang while pressing, they weren’t really convenient. Or a good use of your kitchen items, as shown to the left there….

So here’s how you work the TofuXpress:

  1. Take your tofu.
  2. Put it into the bottom half of the TofuXpress.
  3. Press the top half on and rotate until locked.
  4. Put in the refrigerator.
  5. Done.
No need to build a tower of bowls, no tofu water all over your counters, done.
Just pour out the water and that’s it. Simple, right?
You can also use it to squeeze your frozen chopped spinach, chopped onions, sliced eggplant…you can use it to make vegan cheese too (make sure you use the optional Light Tension Spring to do that last one)! We used it to squeeze the water and gunk out of a can of black beans a few days ago.
So if you eat tofu, I’d totally recommend looking in to getting one. It’s a pretty handy gadget to have.

I received a Tofu Xpress from TofuXpress.com to review for my blog. No other compensation was provided for this review.

Not all vegans are jerks.

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Image by hisashi_0822 via Flickr

So yesterday, I got a incredibly asshatted nice email from an anonymous source saying that because I wear leather shoes and “don’t care about the animals”, that I am not a vegan. That according to Ellen DeGeneres and her glossary of vegan terms, I am merely a vegetarian. They said (I use “they” because they didn’t sign the email, nor was there gender indication in the email address itself) that saying that I was being vegan “for the health of it” was akin to telling the animals that I was ok with them being slaughtered for their muscles and their wool.

I didn’t know what to say…at first. I honestly sat there, shocked and appalled that a total stranger would take the time out of their day to write such a hurtful email to someone they (may have?) never met.

Then I realized this person is one of the vegans that run around telling everyone that they’re doing everything wrong, and that they are HORRIBLE PEOPLE for wearing leather shoes or wool or eating meat, and will hand you a pamphlet with graphic depictions of cows being slaughtered as you walk out of a burger joint. (We’ll call that type of person a JV = a Judgemental Vegan)

After mulling this over for a bit, and in the interest of finding out how educated my friends/family are about veganism, I asked a couple of friends (via various methods…Facebook and Twitter mostly) to name the first thing that popped into their mind when I said the word vegan and here’s what they said:

  • What exactly do you eat? I mean, I know you eat plants and stuff, but really, where do you get your protein?
  • That one guy who stands on the corner near my son’s preschool and hands out “meat is murder” leaflets. He always yells at me for wearing leather shoes.
  • Omigod, don’t you have to throw out your leather or something? I’ll take your Frye boots if you’re just going to throw them out.
  • I met a lady the other day who was vegan, and she was HUGE. I thought all vegans were skinny hippies? No offense.
  • Don’t you have to eat tofu all the time? I don’t like tofu. I just couldn’t do it.

I had to break it to that last person that the frosting on the cupcakes I made her the other day had tofu in it. :)

Conclusion? People are shockingly uneducated (as I was when I first thought about switching) about vegans, veganism and plant-based diets in general.

Anyway – after chatting with a lovely (and totally non-judgemental) fellow vegan, I decided that this person (who thinks sheep get slaughtered for their wool….obviously completely mis-informed) just needs to calm down and that I can ignore them and not take all of their vitriol to heart.

People like my anonymous emailer are what turns people off from listening to vegans and what they have to say. It’s a basic tenet of life: If you’re rude, condescending and judgmental, nobody is going to want to stick around and hear what you have to say.

However, on the flip side, if you’re kind and share with others, you bake vegan goodies for get-togethers or bring a vegan dish to a potluck (if, for no other reason, so YOU have something to eat!), if you address all questions about your lifestyle with kindness and don’t take them as accusations, if you live your life the way you like and with a big dose of kindness, then people will be more open to listening to the “vegan party line.”

In other words Anonymous Emailer? CALM THE FUCK DOWN AND LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE. I’m going to just keep doing me. :)

Note #1: yes, I am aware that sheep do not die when their wool is sheared. I’m still a “new vegan”, so I’m not entirely sure why we don’t wear wool. If you DON’T shear them, that’s cruel…so I totally don’t understand.

Note #2: I’m not throwing out my leather boots or my jacket. First off, they were all insanely expensive. (I did get rid of 2 leather jackets during The Great Purge.) Second, me throwing them away so they can rot in a landfill doesn’t help ANYONE. Third, I can’t escape wearing wool because I knit and most of the sweaters and socks I knit are wool.

CONCLUSION: If you want to call me a vegetarian, that’s fine. But I still eat vegan food and work hard to make sure I’m not consuming any animal products, so I’m going to keep calling myself a Vegan.

I love NyQuil.

A man doing nasal irrigation

Image via Wikipedia

I know NyQuil is probably not vegan, but at this point in this ugly cold, the neti pot is just not touching it.

And for those of you who get grossed out by the idea of the neti pot, you totally need to try it just once. (We have the SinuCleanse brand, both for Chef & I and the baby version for Chuck.) Especially if you get insane sinus pressure like I do and your eyeballs hurt? A couple of minutes of running salt water through your nose will knock that right out.

I apologize for that picture over there, but it cracked me up and I couldn’t help it. That’s pretty much what it looks like when you use a neti pot.

SO! Before the cold meds kick in and I start talking about odd things like the fact that I’m only wearing one sock right now, let’s recap my weekend thus far.

The conveyor belt sushi place we went to on Friday was AMAZING. Needless to say, I told Chef I HAD to sit next to the belt so I could be the person grabbing all of the food. (Now I can see why Short Stack likes to go to the one near their house.)

I spent the first 15 minutes trying to figure out what was on all of the plates, and then I just started grabbing things that looked good. Chef had octopus and eel and I had asparagus rolls and seaweed something-or-other and California rolls. (Before you say anything, I know roe and surimi are not vegan. I did not figure that out before I put it in my mouth though :( ) We had a blast, and we’ll definitely be going out with the Baker and Baker’s Wife again.

Speaking of baking…yesterday, I made baguettes (from Garden of Vegan, I think) that we used for sandwiches today, and naanSpicy Veggie Curry for dinner last night. Everyone (including Chef’s BFF Bri & Bri’s momma) ate dinner with me, and judging by the fact that there were 6 very clean plates and no leftovers, I’d say dinner was a hit.

The baguettes were used for monster sandwiches for football-watching today, and despite being slightly doughy (I am not experienced in bread-making quite yet!) they were totally gone as well.

I. Love. Football. LOVE. FOOTBALL. I was born into a family of football players and women who love to watch football. My grandpa was a football coach, and at one point or another, every male in my family (including my sports-averse brother) played football. Short Stack is expected to play football. It’s in our blood.

So when we start getting closer to football season, I start getting antsy. It’s part of me to want to turn on the television on Saturday mornings in the fall and watch football ALL WEEKEND LONG. And most Monday nights, and now some Thursday nights. (For the record, I like watching college better than pro football.)

So now that Chef and I are together, his family has a fantasy football league. Which adds a whole new level to my incoherent hollering at the football.

Now I’m rooting for individuals as well as teams, and if my players are playing each other, I am often screaming at one team to “GO GO GO” and the other team to “HIIIIT HIIIIIIMMM“!!!!!!

I don’t know why my family doesn’t do this fantasy football thing.

Anyhoo, Chef and I are “playing” each other this weekend in our fantasy league, so I’m off to go gloat that I’m winning….while I still can. To geek for a second, Peyton Manning (my QB1) AND my kicker are screwing me with their stats, and Chef’s QB1 (Kolb) is still up to play today…..

Enjoy your Sunday!

Almost not quite vegan, day 4.

A cast iron chip pan with an aluminum basket b...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is day 4 of my journey into veganism. No meat at all for 4 days. It’s getting a lot easier, now that I’ve gotten through yesterday.

Yesterday was rough. REALLY rough. I had headaches and was horribly dizzy and nauseous. I was supposed to finish the trees for my SUPER EPIC WEDDING CAKE that’s “due” on Friday, but got about halfway through them and had to take a nap. My eyes hurt and if I stood up (at all!), I would have horrible pressure.

So the lovely Abby Patten, who has offered me loads of suggestions and support during this transition, mentioned on twitter that I should have some fat.

Which immediately made me think of french fries.

So I tried to send Chef out for fries, and being the stubborn crazypants lovely supportive fiance that he is, he said “hell no” and made me some sauteed veggies with a bit of olive oil. And I ate 3 bowls. And the headache went away.

Today is a pretty good day; I’ve had fruit for breakfast, a soda (ONLY ONE!), some breadsticks with marinara (checked the label, totally vegan), and a handful of soy nuts. And a LOAD of water.

And! The best part? Only one cigarette.

Hope you are all having a great day!

Stocking my Vegan Pantry

Vegan Chocolate Fudge.

Image via Wikipedia

This is the hardest part of my “transition” to being fully vegan.

Especially since noone else in the house is switching.

So I’m confronted with a pantry full of forbidden non-vegan ingredients when I am searching the kitchen desperately for something to eat. I feel like I should stick red dots on everything that’s Vegan-Approved so I can just scan the fridge and look for the dots. (That’s not a bad idea…..*putting “red dots” on the grocery list for today*)

SO! In the spirit of sharing my journey to a plant-based diet, here’s my list of things I need to get at the store today (not including the TOTALLY non-vegan cake ingredients I need to buy for my wedding cake this weekend…). It’s probably a good thing I don’t live near a Whole Foods so I can support my local Co-Op!:

  • Veganaise
  • Fruit. Lots and lots of fruit.
  • Veggies. LOTS OF VEGGIES.
  • soy yogurt
  • Tofutti “Better Than Cream Cheese
  • lentils
  • Herbamare
  • “butter”
  • Green Goddess dressing
  • agave syrup
  • “cheese”
  • silken & extra firm tofu
  • spinach pasta
  • “sour cream”
  • garam masala
  • Ener-G egg replacer
  • corn chips
  • tortillas
  • bagels
  • ezekiel bread
  • Coconut Bliss ice cream? (if I can convince Mille to splurge on this, since she’s buying the groceries!)

And this whole vegan switch is making me want to go to Portland. REALLY BAD.

Resources:

  • Grant Butler with the Oregonian went vegan for a month. Great article on stocking the vegan pantry here.
  • Abby Patten, a twitter friend of mine, helped me out and sent a me a LOAD of suggestions, from books to check out to recipes to blogs to specific brand foods to try
  • Great blog posts on what you need to have on hand in your kitchen here and here and here
  • Nice article from Vegetarians of Washington on what you need in your diet and why.
  • Great site on veganism, killer list on what non-perishables you need for your vegan pantry, and books and tools as well.

Winner Winner, (non)Chicken Dinner!

So, tonight’s dinner is being brought to Chez Cupcake via Vegan Crunk (via Seitanic Vegan Heathen and Crazy Sexy Life) I’ve decided she’s one of my new favorite people.

I’m making her Country Potato Soup (which you can find the recipe for through any of those links up there) and it smells delicious.

I subbed in peanut flour for the whole wheat pastry flour….mostly because I couldn’t find whole wheat pastry flour at Trader Joe’s, but also because peanut flour sounded interesting.

Just downloaded the Retro Camera app for my Droid, so here are some vintage-looking photos of the prep:



Sauteeing onions in a smidge of canola oil

Draining veggies

Canola oil, soy milk mixed with peanut flour & veggie bacon

Soup! Waiting for it to thicken takes FOREVER when you’re hungry!

Dinner is served, my little vegan monkeys. Even Mille was pleased. :) (and no, the toast in the background is not vegan. But neither was the MorningStar bacon, apparently.)

A few things about making this soup:

  • Chef says it was delicious, but being a chef, he has to suggest improvements because I think that’s one of the classes he took in culinary school: “How to make suggestions to people to improve their cooking”. He says if I let the onions cook a little longer and let them start to caramelize and cook the carrots with them, it would add an extra something-something to the soup.
  • Vegan/vegetarian bacon is rough to cook, yo. There weren’t any directions that I could find on the box, so I tried to cook it like regular bacon. Don’t laugh. It crisped up kind of nicely, but I’m assuming I’m supposed to cook it IN something, like an oil or a fat.
  • It was GONE. All of it. Every last drop. Even Short Stack, my notoriously picky eater, ate most of his without Food Wars ensuing.

This is definitely a delicious recipe that I’ll be making again. Hope your weekend is rounding out the way you like, and you’re not having to clean HALF as much as I am. xoxox

What kind of Vegan are you?

NOTE: I promise I will not turn this into just a vegan blog. I still will blab about trying to plan for our wedding, what Chuck is doing today and how much I hate living with Mille and Fille. Please do not fret.

HOWEVER. I will still talk about vegan-ish things. :)

SO! In my continuing education of what is vegan and what is most definitely not, I am learning a whole bunch of new words to look for on the nutrition labels of foods I eat now.

FOR EXAMPLE: I read the ingredients for Triscuits when we went to the store last night, hoping against all hope that they are vegan and I don’t have to wear all black and sing funeral marches and weep unabashedly as I mourn.

Here’s what the label says: WHOLE WHEAT, SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM OIL, SALT.

Now. There are no animal products in that list. HOWEVER. As the fact sheet from Lush Cosmetics (a beloved former employer and one of my favorite places to shop) states below, palm oil is not a socially responsible  ingredient.

What’s Wrong With Palm Oil? (Lush Factsheet)

So now, the dilemma is: what kind of vegan am I? Am I the kind that wears no animal products anywhere on her body (including clothes and beauty products) or am I the kind that’s eating responsibly for her body’s sake?

Answer: For right now, I’m going to be the latter. It would take another very LARGE purge of my closet, my bathroom and my whole life to become the no-animal-products-ever girl. And if I get to that point, I’ll let you know.

For now, I’ll eat Triscuits while writing a letter to Nabisco telling them that their use of palm oil isn’t the best and maybe the “and/or” on their nutrition label isn’t the best way to go.

Because I love my Triscuits.

Not like a lightswitch.

So, today has begun The Great Vegan Switch. (it’s a slow switch. Hence the post title.)

I’m moving (rather glacially, it seems) into removing all animal products from my diet. Rather than focus on what I CAN’T eat, let’s look at what I CAN eat!

  • I can eat vegan chocolates from here.
  • I can eat seitan. I just like saying that….pronounced “satan”. Hey mom…I’m eating seitan!
  • According to the crazy people over at PETA, I can eat Cracker Jacks.
  • I can eat Kix.
  • I can eat Rice Krispies.
  • I can apparently drink Red Bull. (but I’m cutting out caffiene, so that’s a no-go)
  • I CAN EAT NEWMAN’S “FAUX-REOS.” They’re seriously delicious. No lie. (Although, according to the PETA website, I can eat regular Oreos too? That doesn’t sound right….)
  • I can eat Smarties.
  • I can eat Thomas’ Bagels. (until I try gluten-free, to see if that’s my issue.)
  • I can use Bisquick for my pancakes & waffles.

So! I will not starve to death. This is good.

Confession: I had a Coke today. And just one cigarette. Seeing as how bananas things have been around here today, I’m doing rather well with pacing myself. HOORAY!!

You are what you eat?

If that’s true, then all of y’all better stay far away from me because I’m a loaf of bread and a jug of cola.

It’s really no secret that I don’t eat healthy. I’m a mess. I have been ever since I can remember being “on my own”…choosing most times when I was a teen to not eat at all rather than have to take the time and decide what to eat. (Wasn’t necessarily anorexic, just didn’t really have time to eat. In college, I didn’t have the $$ to eat.)

Now that I’m a “grownup”, I have not gotten any better. Only after having 2 kids, I am no longer eating not enough.

I’m eating far far far too much. And all crap.

Plus I’m smoking. Don’t judge, I know, it’s horrible. I didn’t smoke while I was pregnant. Try not to hate me too much.

So! For those of you following along at home, here’s what I’m trying to fight:

  1. Weight. Lots of it. I weigh almost 30 pounds more today than I did the day I had Chuck. BEFORE I gave birth.
  2. Smoking. It sucks, I hate it and I want to quit. With 3 other smokers in the house (and PLEASE don’t lecture me on the dangers of secondhand smoke and babies, I know. I’m taking measures.) and NONE of them being serious about quitting, it’s  hard for me. Especially with the constantly rotating cast of characters coming in and out of our house, who all smoke.
  3. Shape. As in “potato”. I used to run and skate and I was whippet thin. I can barely walk up the hill from my car to the house now without being out of shape. I can’t be this fat and chase after Chuck anymore, and I’m getting to the point where I NEED to chase her.
  4. Caffeine. If it’s not soda, it’s coffee. If it’s not coffee, it’s tea. I get a raging headache when I don’t have any. It’s hard to deal with a screeching baby when I have a headache. See my dilemma?
  5. Bread. I don’t know that I can live without bread. I eat it with 2 out of 3 meals. I love it. Almost as much as my children. HOWEVER. I have lots of indications that I am gluten-sensitive. Which makes me want to weep and wear ashcloth and tear at my hair and grieve like only really dramatic people can. With lots of wailing.
  6. Fast food. You know it’s bad when the people at Jack in the Box drive-thru recognize you at the order menu. It’s even worse when they remember your order. It’s so much easier for those with tiny people to get fast food. However, when you don’t exercise (see #3), that crap just sits in your stomach.

I’m tired of all of it. But I’ve tried to quit all of the above at the same time, and that didn’t work. SO! I’ve been reading.

I read this book.

Then I read this book. And this book. And this book. And this website.

Now I’m reading this book, which is actually written by some people who live near me.

We have one of the best farmer’s markets around, we have the greatest co-op I’ve ever seen, we have passionate vegans living EVERYWHERE, we have a great collection of veggie-friendly and vegan-friendly restaurants.

I’m going vegan, bitches.

I was vegan about 5 years ago for almost a year, (stopped when I started dating a man who ate beef with every meal), and I have never felt better. Meat has always made me feel like crap, and I hardly ever eat it anymore. It’s just a small step for me to go to full vegan.

SO! I’m kick-starting it with this elimination diet (which, for those of you who have been paying attention, I have started and stopped twice :( ).  And I am SO THRILLED (seriously, I am super excited) to be making this switch. I vaguely remember what I felt like when I was vegan, and I want to get back there.

I’m tired of living in a french-fry-induced haze.

SO! I AM DONE. There are no more excuses for me not to do this.

I’ve got books. I’ve got people to help support me. Chef is on board to experiment cooking with vegan foods. (he might even quit smoking here in a minute…) This is it, kiddos.

If you’d like to read more about what an elimination diet is and how it works, read this article :)

**DISCLAIMER: I don’t know what Amazon Partnerships are, so those links above are just me picking a link for the books. I don’t get paid if you click on them or buy them. I just love the books and wanted to share. :)

ALSO! If anyone has any vegan foods/recipes they’d like to pass along, I will love you forever.

All images, ideas and text here is property of Mia Cupcake/Bruises in the Frosting, unless otherwise noted. Please do not copy without express permission from blog author.
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