Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Vegan Meal for My Steak and Potatoes Man

People are often surprised to learn that Brian isn't vegetarian, let alone vegan.  I get a lot of questions about what we eat for dinner and how we handle our different diets.  I even had some strangers ask me recently if I was vegan when I met Brian if we would even have gotten married!  (Uh, I think our shared love for Ben Folds would have trumped the dietary differences, thank you very much!)

Sure, there are times when Brian and I don't eat the same thing for dinner.  Sometimes I'm in the mood for a big salad and Brian will order a pizza or pick up a sandwich from Potbelly.  Sometimes in the summer he'll get something meaty to throw on the grill alongside my black bean burger.  Although more and more he wants to eat the black bean burger himself...

But over the past few years, I've began to refer to Brian as an "at-home vegan".  He's swapped his 2% milk for almond milk, butter for Earth Balance, chicken for chickpea cutlets, and scrambled eggs for tofu scrambles.  Brian certainly didn't turn into an "at home vegan" overnight.  It's been a gradual transition.  I can honestly say I haven't been pushy about him eating vegan (right, Brian?) and he's been really accepting of my choices and open to trying new foods.  We plan and prepare meals together so I'm making sure they are meals he enjoys, as well. 

All that being said, Brian still loves meat.  I mean, really, what guy doesn't?  If he wants to cook up some meat for himself, fine, but obviously we aren't going to share that meal together.  So when we found the recipe in The Happy Herbivore Cookbook for portobello steaks that promised to be a great replacement for a meaty steak, he was very excited to try it.  We made it once and had it on ciabatta rolls, which was pretty good, but last night we had it the way it was meant to be eaten - with rosemary roasted potatoes and asparagus.  Sooooo goooood!  Even if you aren't a meat-lover at heart, you'll love this hearty home-style classic.  

We used very small potatoes, called "creamer potatoes".  You can use either Yukon Gold or red skinned potatoes.

For the Portabello Steaks: Get the recipe at the Happy Herbivore blog.

For the potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Rinse potatoes and cut in halves or quarters, depending on size.  Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray and lay potatoes in a single layer.  Spritz with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and fresh snipped rosemary.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes or so until crisp and browned on the outside, creamy on the inside.

For the asparagus: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Rinse asparagus and snap off the ends.  Line a baking sheet with olive oil spray and lay asparagus spears in a single layer.  Lightly spritz with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.  Roast for 15-20 minutes.  Drizzle with fresh lemon juice.

Making Your Mixed Marriage/Relationship Work
  • Don't be pushy - you wouldn't want him to force you to eat meat; don't force him to eat tofu.
  • Cook meals where you can have both meat and veggie options, such as tacos.  He can have ground beef and you can have tofu, TVP, tempeh, or just beans and veggies.  (FYI - that's what we used to do and now Brian doesn't even bother with the ground beef so you never know what may happen down the road...)
  • Get him involved in meal planning - he's more likely to want to try new things if he helps pick out the recipes.
  • Cook together - Brian and I have so much fun in the kitchen and we never cook without good music in the background.
  • Find vegan replacements for favorite recipes.  Try Two-Bean Chili, Chickpea Cutlets, and Black Bean Burgers.
  • Let him eat cheese!  So he's vegetarian, not vegan.  That's pretty damn awesome.  
  • Don't judge him for ordering a burger or steak when you go out to dinner on the weekend.  If he makes plant-based decisions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the week, let him live a little!  I do. 

What vegan "steak and potatoes" meal would you feed to a non-vegan?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wild Sweet Orange Smoothie

I love my Banana Chamomile Smoothie and drink one several times a week.  The other day I thought to myself, why not switch things up and try the same method with another kind of tea?  In the cupboard I found some TAZO Wild Sweet Orange tea bags (that I'd swiped from an education conference at a hotel last spring . . . shhh!) and I had a navel orange in the fridge that I thought would go well with it.

This smoothie is creamy with a deliciously bright and fresh citrus taste.  It is a refreshing change from the usual.

Hmmmm . . . what other tea smoothies might I try next?  

Wild Sweet Orange Smoothie
(printable recipe


1 cup TAZO Wild Sweet Orange tea, cold (I steep overnight in the fridge with two tea bags)
1 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
3 tbsp. old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp. protein powder (optional; I use Life's Basics Unsweetened Vanilla)
1 tbsp. agave
1 medium navel orange, peeled and segmented

2 frozen bananas, broken into chunks
1 cup ice cubes


1. Combine tea, almond milk, oats, protein powder, agave, and orange in blender.  (I use a VitaMix.)  Give a whir to blend up the oats and orange.

2. Add the bananas and ice and blend until smooth.  

Makes 1-2 servings.

What tea flavor should I use in my next smoothie?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Fit Tuesday" Spaghetti Squash and Meatless Balls

Yesterday was Mardi Gras (a.k.a. "Fat Tuesday"), a day when people typically indulge in fat- and calorie-laden treats before the 40-day season of Lenten fasting begins.  In the Detroit area, the most popular way to celebrate Fat Tuesday is with paczkis, which are like donuts taken to the extreme.  You'll be hard-pressed to find a vegan paczki but there are certainly many other ways to celebrate Fat Tuesday vegan-style, if that's what you want to do.

For me it was just another day.  I had a smoothie for breakfast, soy yogurt and fruit for lunch, PB2 balls for a snack, and for dinner we made spaghetti squash and meatless balls.  I had been a long time since I'd had spaghetti squash and it really hit the spot.  I like it better than pasta.  It has more fiber, vitamins, and minerals and is lower in calories and carbs, plus it doesn't leave me feeling weighed down.  

If you've never cooked spaghetti squash before, it's really simple.  Just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and prick the skin all over with a sharp knife.  Place the squash, cut sides down, in a baking dish with a little water and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. 
Use a fork to scrape out the flesh.  It will look like spaghetti strands!

Then we topped our squash with veggie-packed sauce, nutritional yeast, and some delicious balls. Countless jokes ensued.  Nothing very funny so I'll spare you.  You're welcome.  

We also had salad and delicious whole-grain garlic bread, which Brian makes with Earth Balance and garlic powder.  Simple and delicious.  Oh, and nearly guilt-free when you're eating squash instead of carb-loaded noodles, right?  I already can't wait for the left-overs tonight!  

Bring on the balls!

Gimme Lean Meatless Balls
(printable recipe)


1 package Gimme Lean Italian Sausage
1/4 cup quick oats
1/4 plain whole wheat bread crumbs 
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sweet onion, minced
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. black pepper 
1 tbsp. olive oil


1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Vitamix and pulse until combined.  If you don't mind getting your hands a little messy, go ahead and just throw it all in a bowl and mix it by hand.  The Gimme Lean is very sticky so regardless of how you do it, it's going to be messy!

2. Form meatballs that about 1-inch in diameter.  Try to get about 24 balls.  (I had 21 but should have made a few of them smaller.)

3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the balls and saute for about 10 minutes, turning frequently, until they are evenly browned on all sides.  (Make sure not too brown them too quickly or else they'll be mushy in the middle.)

4. Add to your favorite sauce and serve or spaghetti squash or pasta.

Makes 24 balls.

NOTE: If you prefer not to pan-fry, you could probably bake these at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping once.  Please leave a comment if you try them this way.

We used a store-bought sauce (Prego Veggie Smart) but also added fresh steamed broccoli and mushrooms

Did you celebrate Fat Tuesday or Fit Tuesday?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blog Updates

In case you haven't noticed, I've recently made some changes to the
blog that I'd like to bring to your attention.

  • Find VRR on Facebook - For starters, I'm very excited to have finally launched Vegan Road Runner on Facebook!  I wasn't smart enough to figure out how to put a "Like" button on my blog but if you click on the link it will take you to my FB page and you can "like" me from there.  Not only will you get links to VRR posts as soon as they're posted but you'll also get quick status updates about my runs and meals, interesting links and recipes, and witty observations on my vegan life. 
  • "Like" my posts on Facebook - Following each post is a "like" button so you can just click right on that to show that you like the specific post.  What a great way to share my race recaps and recipes with all your friends, right?
  • Search VRR - Looking for a certain recipe, ingredient, or topic that I might have written about?  Now you can type a key word or phrase into the search box and a list of posts will show up that have that in it.
  • Recipe Index - An easy way to browse, search, and print my recipes.  All new recipes I post will have a printable recipe and eventually all my previously posted recipes will, too.  They aren't all in there yet but I'm working on it!
  • Labels - Instead of searching for, say, "1/2 marathon," you can click on it in the labels list and it will pull up all the posts that are about 1/2 marathons.  While I'm still working on the Recipe Index, this is another way to find what you're looking for (ex. click on entrees, appetizers, desserts).
  • Subscribe to VRR - Add Vegan Road Runner RSS feed to your reader such as Google or Yahoo.
  • Popular Posts - A list of the top 5 all-time most popular posts.  If you haven't read these posts, you're obviously missing out.

Thanks for taking the time to check out these new features.  Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment either in the comments section below or on Facebook

Have a great day!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Banana Chamomile Smoothie (updated recipe)

I previously posted a recipe for a Banana Chamomile Morning Smoothie.  It's a favorite of mine and one that I've been making on a regular basis for about a year now.  Over time, however, I've made some modifications to it that have made it more flavorful and much creamier so I thought it was time to post an update.  Plus I have better pictures now.

As with all my smoothies, this recipe makes enough to share.  However, because I eat breakfast so early in the day and don't always have time for a snack before lunch, I drink the whole thing myself.  If you don't want the whole thing and no one wants to share, just make half.

Banana Chamomile Smoothie


1 cup strong chamomile tea, cold (I steep overnight in the fridge with two tea bags)
1 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
3 tbsp. old-fashioned oats
2 tbsp. protein powder (optional; I use Life's Basics Unsweetened Vanilla)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. agave

3 frozen bananas, broken into chunks
1 cup ice cubes


1. Combine tea, almond milk, oats, protein powder, cinnamon, and agave in blender.  (I use a VitaMix.)  Give a quick whir to blend up the oats.

2. Add the bananas and ice and blend until smooth.  

Makes 1-2 servings.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seva - Detroit, MI

Seva Restaurant - opened in Ann Arbor in 1973 - is one of the few exclusively vegetarian/vegan restaurants in Southeast Michigan.  They have a full menu of soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, desserts, and Sunday brunch.  In the restaurant is a full bar plus a juice bar with wheat grass shots.

I've actually only eaten there a couple of times because, to be quite honest, I wasn't all that impressed with the menu.  It includes a lot a veggie versions of classics like nachos, mac and cheese/vegan mac, reubens, enchiladas, quesadillas, and various burgers.  There is a lot of Daiya involved, some Tofurky, and too much deep fried goodness for my taste.  And despite what the website says, we did NOT have great service.

The main entrance was a little tricky to find.  Enter through the courtyard off Forest Avenue, not through the alley behind Church's Chicken.
When I found out that Seva was opening a second location in Detroit, I was beyond overjoyed.  I probably jumped for joy and did a little Jeff Tweedy running-man dance.  Maybe I even threw in a little Liz Lemon for good measure.  A vegetarian restaurant in Detroit?  Wahoo!

Then I found out some not so good news.  The Detroit menu was going to be the same as the Ann Arbor menu.  Exactly the same.  Here they are, creating a hip new space for the restaurant, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to also create a hip new menu with fresh innovative dishes.  I guess they didn't think so.  

Seva had its grand opening in January.  Some friends of mine went for dinner and came back with a rather negative review ("bland" and "I could make this at home").  One had the butternut squash enchiladas and she liked those a lot so it wasn't all bad.  I also read a less-than-stellar review in the Metro Times.  It was basically what I said above about Daiya and Tofurky.  Needless to say, I was not exactly jumping at the chance to go.

Two weeks ago, Jaime invited Brian and me to eat there before seeing Otto Vector perform at the Motown Winter Blast.  She's been wanting to try Seva Detroit and wasn't going to let one or two bad reviews get her down.  Plus her friend Dan works there and she'd been telling him for weeks that she was going to stop in and see him.  So off we went on an unusually cold and snowy February night in Michigan.  (When just days before I'd gone for a run in shorts and a tee shirt.)  She even called ahead to make sure we sat at one of Dan's tables.  Good thing because we got his last one!

Based on my experiences at Seva Ann Arbor, I think it's safe to say that Dan is probably the best Seva server out there.  He was super attentive yet laid-back.  He was extremely knowledgeable about the menu but honest if there was something he hadn't tried.  He also gave recommendations for how he liked to order things to change it up a bit.  And he was happy to have his picture taken with us.  Bonus!

I was pleasantly surprised with the Seva Detroit menu.  It isn't, in fact, a carbon copy of the Ann Arbor menu.  Dan said that it started out that way but several special items were so popular that they made it onto the regular menu.  That gives me hope.  Way to go Seva Detroit!

To start, we ordered one of the specials - dolmas with baba ganoush.  It came with toasted pita wedges and grapes.  I'm a big fan of grape leaves and these did not disappoint.  Although I've had hummus countless times, I think this was my first experience with baba ganoush.  Hard to believe, I know.  I really liked it but have no basis of comparison.  Brian and Jaime liked it, too.  The pita wedges were toasted and I would have preferred them to be soft but I suppose that's neither here nor there.

Dolmas with baba ganoush and pita wedges - $8

Brian and Jaime each ordered sandwiches - Brian the Bahn Mi and Jaime the Seva Club.  The Bahn Mi has hoisin-glaze seitan, pickled jalapeno, mung sprouts, carrots, and vegan aioli on a French baguette.  The Seva Club has Tofurky, smoked coconut, avocado, lettuce, and vegan aioli.  They each enjoyed them immensely.  I tried a bite of Brian's Bahn Mi and it was pretty good, though probably a bit too intense for my taste.  Jaime said she would definitely order hers again.  Both of them came with yam fries, which - FYI - do need to be specifically ordered vegan.

Bahn Mi - $11
Seva Club - $11
Close-up of the famous yam fries

I chose an entree that is new to the menu, one of those that Dan said was a popular special item and was held over.  It was the Banana Curry, which is tofu, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, onions, and black rice.  The banana is in the sauce.  It was pretty good, though a little dry and not as banana-y as I had expected.  In fact, I couldn't taste the banana at all.  It was still good, though.  It had a very healthy feel to it, which I liked.  I just could have done with a tad more sauciness.  

Banana Curry - $13

We were too full for dessert.  Maybe next time.  I'd like to go back and try the Seva Club, the tempeh and portabella burgers, and see what specials they have.  I really hope they continue to expand on their menu with more vegetable and grains as opposed to relying too much on Daiya and meat alternatives.  I love what they've done with the space and hope a lot of people stop in to dine there.  If you haven't stopped in to eat at Seva Detroit, make sure you visit soon.  And when you do, ask for Dan!

Jaime and me with Dan

Seva is located at 66 E. Forest in Detroit
Open Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Postgame Highlights: Super Bowl Snacks

Chocolate Covered Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs

As promised in my last post, I have some pictures of my Super Bowl snacks to share with you.  I make no apologies for my lack of presentation.  The game had already started.  We just wanted to eat it, not move it around to get the best lighting! 

Katie made the hummus, flatbreads, and olive dip, along with some empanadas.  (Those were quite impressive but not vegan so I didn't photograph.)  Brian even put on his apron, dug out the fondu pot, and whipped up a fancy queso dip (also not vegan but I kinda wished it was!).  Oh, and we had some guacamole from Garden Fresh Gourmet, plus both yellow and blue corn tortilla chips.

Everything was really delicious.  I loved the bean dip and the hummus and flatbreads were amazing.  Oh, and those football cookies?  YUM!! 

Whole-wheat flatbreads
Creamy Kalamata Spread from Veganomicon
Fresh veggies for dipping
Black Bean Chili Dip (with tortilla chips for dipping)

Want the recipes?

Chocolate Covered Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Footballs 
(I cheated and used a tube of store-bought decorator gel - shhh!)

How was your Super Bowl party?

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Are you excited about the Super Bowl tomorrow?  I'm not a football fan but Brian is so he's looking forward to it.  I'm hoping for some good commercials.  I'm not sure which team will win, but here are a few recipes from the blog that will surely win over (ha ha) both vegans and non-vegans alike!

Tony and Katie are coming over to watch some of the game.  I'll be making other people's recipes this time around.  We're going to be having chips with a variety of dips, veggies, hummus, flat bread, some meatballs (for the guys), and cookies for dessert.  Two of the recipes I plan on making are linked below.  (I'll post pictures of the spread next week.)

What's on your Super Bowl menu?