Monday, January 17, 2011


Omnivores often have the misconception that all vegans eat are salads and some vegans try to dispel that myth by not eating salad, almost to prove that there's more to vegan eating than a bowl of lettuce.  Well my friend, there's more to salad than a bowl of lettuce!  

Enter The Big Salad.  I could probably eat a Big Salad for dinner 3-4 nights a week.  If I didn't have to scarf down my lunch in 20 minutes I would have one for lunch every day.  Lately I've been having about 2 a week for dinner and when it's been a few days since my last one I am actually craving it!  When you make a colorful salad, it's a great way to get all kinds of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  

For those of you who know me, you know I am a creature of habit so I actually don't switch up my salads all that much.  But when you have a good thing going, why change?  Here's a list of what my Big Salads typically include, keeping in mind that it varies depending on what I have in the house and what I can find at the market.  I try to stick with what's local and in-season but I'd be lying if I said that I only bought what's local and in-season.  Something to work on.  Anyway, I don't have any measurements because I don't measure.  I always use the same bowl so I just fill that up with lettuce and try to get even amounts of all the toppings.


- lettuce (usually a mix of red leaf, green leaf, and romaine)
- carrots, shredded or thinly sliced
- cucumbers
- sweet pepper (yellow or red)
- beans, usually chickpeas or a mix of pinto, kidney, and black
- tomatoes (unless they're really out of season) 
- dried cranberries
- agave-Dijon dressing (see recipe below)

If I have some I also love to add:

- artichoke hearts
- mushrooms
- sugar snap peas
- broccoli
- pea or sunflower shoots 
- pumpkin seeds
- fresh herbs (parsley and basil are my favorites)

Agave-Dijon dressing 

Mix equal parts Dijon mustard, agave nectar, and white wine vinegar.  Add a little bit of ground flax seeds and whole flax seeds.  Shake or whisk well.  As it sits it thickens up a bit so make in advance.

What is your favorite salad?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lovin' Lush

While in Chicago a few weeks back, I hit up Lush for their annual after-Christmas BOGO sale.  It’s really an incredibly good sale!  I bought 2 huge chunks of soap and 2 bubble bars, plus a massage bar (not a holiday item so sadly, not on sale) for only $40.  If you’ve ever even walked into a Lush store, let alone purchased anything, you know that’s an amazing deal! 

I’ve always been torn about Lush soap.  The bars are all natural, free of nasty ingredients, and mostly all vegan but they ARE pricey.  After using the Vanilla in the Mist soap, however, I’m never going back to Dove again!  Smooth and creamy on my skin, it lathered up nicely and smelled heavenly.  Combining that with a Ma bubble bar and following up with the smooth, silky massage bar made for quite a luscious bathing experience.

BONUS – When I went to pay for my items with a gift card Brian gave me for Christmas, the sales girl sadly reported that I couldn’t use the card at that store.  That Lush was actually part of Macy’s, rather than the stand-alone store where he purchased the card.  Why is this a bonus, you ask?  Because I wasn’t going to put everything back and go to another store so I paid with my credit card and still have the gift card to use another time!  Plus she felt bad and threw in a few samples (a sugar scrub, some hair moisturizer, and something else).  

Although a lot of my beauty and personal care items are not vegan, I'm slowly making the transition.  Thanks Lush for making it a whole lot easier!

What are your favorite Lush products?

A few of my spoils - Vanilla in the Mist soap, Gingerbread bubble bar, and Heavanilli massage bar

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Detroit Free Press article

I was super excited to open the Detroit Free Press this morning and find an article about the increasing popularity of a vegan diet!  Detroit is always on an "unhealthiest cities" or "fattest cities" list, so perhaps this is a step in the right direction.  The recipes look pretty good, too!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vanilla-Chai Snowflake Cookies

What's better than tea and cookies?  How about tea in your cookies?  I found this recipe for Vanilla-Chai cookies in The Detroit Free Press a few years and they quickly became one of my favorites.  They are more elegant and grown-up than the usual sugar cookies and gingerbread men and really stand out among the traditional favorites.  The original recipe uses a cookie press but after breaking two of those in one year, I've decided it's easier to roll them out.  If you want to go with the press, you only need to chill them for 30 minutes and may need to add a few minutes onto the baking time. 

Vanilla-Chai Snowflakes
(printable recipe)


2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 cup Earth Balance margarine
½ cup sugar
Contents of 3 chai tea bags
Ener-G Egg Replacer for 1 egg
3 tsp. vanilla extract


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

2. In an electric mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer), on medium speed, cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Mix in the chai tea, Ener-G, and vanilla extract.  Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour.

3. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.  Chill the dough for at least two hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 15 minutes before baking.  Roll out the dough to about ½-inch thickness and use a snowflake cutter (or whatever shape you desire) to cut out the cookies.  Place on a non-stick baking sheet and bake just until golden, rotating sheets halfway through, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

Lemon Vanilla Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp. non-dairy milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. Whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl.

2. Dip the surface of the still-warm cookie into the icing and place on wire rack.  Cool completely and let icing set.  Store these in airtight containers between layers of parchment or wax paper for 1 week.

Recipe courtesy of Detroit Free Press.  Adapted from Martha Stewart Holiday 2008 magazine.  Veganized by me.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Crazy for Christmas Cookies

This is a basket we put together to take to Christmas dinner.  
(photo by Brian)

Brian and I always do a lot of holiday baking.  We love to make a variety of cookies and chocolates and then give them away as gifts, take to parties, etc.  Since I went vegan, I’ve only made 2-3 of our cookies animal-free for selfish reasons.  If they weren’t vegan, I couldn’t eat them.  So long temptation, right?  This year I decided to be a more conscious baker and make almost all* the cookies vegan.  The result?  DELICIOUS cookies . . . but a LOT of them!  I just can’t help myself around cookies.  It’s like I grow shaggy blue fur, my eyes get big and googly, and I can only think about one thing – COOKIES!  Even hiding them in the spare bedroom behind a closed door didn't deter me.  If there are vegan cookies I will find them!

By now the cookies have been all eaten . . . mostly by me.  BUT it’s a new year.  Vacation is over and it’s back to the usual routine, which means I’ll be back on a regular eating and working out schedule.  After several gallons of water, lots of raw fruits and vegetables, my trusty Yogi Detox Tea, and a few good sweat sessions, I’ll awake from my sugar- and carbohydrate-induced coma and finally feel like myself again (fingers crossed!).  Thankfully Christmas only comes once a year, right? 

I’ll be posting some of these recipes in the future but for now here’s our 2010 cookie list:

* Brian is always solely responsible for 2 cookies – the Scottish shortbread and coconut macaroons.  While both shortbread and macaroons can and have been made vegan, these particular recipes would not be the same if veganized.  I will, however, be searching for the closest possible vegan replacement…

What are your favorite holiday cookies to bake or eat?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Overnight French Toast

LOTS of maple syrup - I think I'm part elf!

Every year on Christmas morning, Brian and I make a special breakfast.  One year we made a French toast recipe* that you prepare the night before in a pan.  In the morning, you just pop it in the oven and bake.  It's so easy and incredibly delicious.  When I went vegan, I resigned myself to the idea that I would never eat my beloved overnight French toast again.  I just wasn't sure about veganizing it in a way that would work well and taste good.  

This year I figured I'd give it a try.  If it tasted awful we had a box of Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten-Free Pancake and Waffle Mix in the cupboard as a back up.  While the French toast wouldn't win any beauty contests (and my photography leaves much to be desired), it actually tasted pretty darn good.  Quite delicious, actually!  I may make some adjustments next time and play around with using Ener-G egg replacer for some of the tofu.   Since it's just the two of us (and we had no idea if it would be edible), I halved the original recipe but it could easily be doubled and put into a 9x13 pan.

Overnight French Toast

Non-stick cooking spray or 2 tbsp. melted margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
cinnamon to taste
1 loaf raisin bread (I used Aunt Millie's)
1 block soft silken tofu, pureed in blender
2/3 cup vanilla soy milk (may sub regular and add 1/4-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)


1. Spray the bottom of an 8x8 metal or glass pan with non-stick spray or spread melted margarine over the bottom.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

2. Cut the crusts off the bread and fit into dish.  Cut some pieces in half to fill as much space as you can.  Make 2 layers.

3. Blend tofu and measure out 3/4 cup.  (Save the rest for another use.)  Mix in soy milk.  Add vanilla if using.  Pour mixture over bread.**  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake covered for 25 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes, until almost dry to the touch.  Serve with warm syrup.

Makes 2-3 servings.


*I first had the dish and got the recipe while on an overnight camping trip with Girl Scouts sometime in elementary school.  I don't know the original source to give proper credit.

**I used all but about 1/4 cup of mixture.  You can use any leftover liquid to make regular French toast the next day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vegan Eats in Chicago

Brian and I started a new tradition of going to Chicago between Christmas and New Year's.  The hotel deals are insanely great so we can stay at some pretty nice places.  This year we stayed at the Hyatt, which is right on the river.  It's a short walk to the Magnificent Mile, as well as Millennium Park and shopping on State Street.  We did a lot of walking and worked out at the hotel gym one morning.  I'd love to go for a run along the lake but it wasn't in the cards this time.

While in Chicago, I only had to eat salad for one of my three dinners.  (That was at Connie's Pizza where I wouldn't trust anything other than raw vegetables to be vegan.)  The first night we walked in the bitter cold/wind to Karyn's Cooked, which is totally vegan.  It was so worth the miserable walk!  Here's what we ate:

A side of steaming Southern Greens.  The best collards I've ever eaten!

A side of Mac and Cheese. Pretty tasty, as far as vegan mac and cheese goes.

Homestyle Meatloaf, steamed broccoli, garlic mashed potatoes, shiitake gravy, and a piece of garlic bread.  This was a LOT of food!  Brian and I could have easily split this one.  The meatloaf had a slightly spicy flavor and a good meaty feel. 

Sloppy Joe on a toasted whole grain bun, coleslaw, and potato wedges.  This was so delicious!  I couldn't finish the coleslaw but I ate every bit of the rest of it. 

The next night we stumbled upon Revolution Brewing.  What a find!  It's sort of like a gastropub since the place is rather trendy and upscale and the food more unique than your typical brewery.  We loved everything about the place.  There's a lot of meat on the menu but they also had many items that are vegetarian and can easily be made vegan by eliminating the cheese or sauce. 

I had the Polenta Fries appetizer, which was pretty good - although I don't normally go for fried foods.  They were crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.  They come with smoked tomato aioli for dipping and pickled veggies.

For dinner I ordered the Italian Seitan pizza minus cheese.  It comes with cremini mushrooms, basil and smoked tomato sauce.  It has a very thin crust so I was able to eat 3/4 of it myself!   

Next time we're in Chicago we'll definitely be returning to both Karyn's Cooked and Revolution Brewing!