Recipe of the Week

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We’ve been vegan for several months now, and little by little we replaced old favorite dishes with new favorite dishes. We’ve figured out how to throw quickie meals together, eat one dish for three days and even entertain a bit.  It’s really been quite a tasty adventure.

While I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for cooking great vegan food, I have settled into a bit of a comfortable cooking routine.  This is a very good thing.  I love that being vegan has become second nature–my pantry is stocked with most of what I need, and I no longer spend hours wandering around Whole Foods trying to find various ingredients.  The fifteen minute food shop has finally become a reality!

That being said, at least once or twice a week I deliberately try some new recipes, both to keep learning and to inject some variety into our diet. So rather than continue with the “what we had for dinner today” approach (um, you’ve already seen most of what we’ve been eating for dinner lately) on this blog, I decided to offer up one recipe each week that we think is worth sharing. And that brings us to this delicious Italian Apple Cake. DSCN2472 Last night we had friends over for dinner and the menu included lasagna, caesar salad (both from Oh She Glows) and some crusty bread.  I wanted to find a simple, not too sweet, non-chocolate (one of our guests couldn’t eat chocolate) cake that would work well with the rest of the meal.  I settled on another recipe from Chloe Coscarelli and you can find it here.

If you tend to keep apples around (the cake only uses 3) you probably have all the ingredients you need to throw this together.  You layer some thinly sliced apples on the bottom of the pan (that odd crinkly design on mine is from the parchment paper–bring on the powdered sugar!) and press the batter on top.  The batter really has more of dough-like consistency but the apples give off lots of moisture as the cake cooks.  The recipe doesn’t specify what kind of apples to use so I used granny smith.  This worked out well texture-wise and didn’t make the cake too sweet.

This fruity and light cake was just enough after a filling meal.  We all thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’m looking forward to sharing more “recipes of the week”.  Please stay tuned…

But Wait, There’s More!

In case you were as bored by the Oscars as I was last night (really dreadful), I offer you another really great show from the beautiful birds in my yard.  My awards to go…

Goldfinch, for the best feeder dancing:

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Taking a well-deserved bow:

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Hummingbird for most dainty drinking.  Down…

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And up!

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And down…

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And up!

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Oh, and the hummingbird also gets a nod for best-dressed (those are REAL feathers!)

And finally the award for best “park and bark” offering…

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Keep singing, my friend.

Happy Monday all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Show in Town

Spring has sprung here in Tucson.  We had plenty of winter rain so our canyon is green, the water is still rushing and the flowers are popping.  It’s a breathtaking time of year.  I’ve been hiking almost every day not wanting to miss a moment.  It’s quite a show.

The other day, when I was visiting my neighbor, I was mesmerized by the birds in her yard.  She had multiple feeders scattered about, and the activity and energy of the finches, cardinals, hummingbirds and quail was really something.  Good old- fashioned tweets!!  I left determined to create something similar in my yard, and I headed off to the wild bird store in town (yes, there is one) and got outfitted with feeders and seed designed to attract a wonderful array of birds in our area.

So I took a seat on my back deck and waited for word to get out.  Well, it didn’t take long.  Within the hour we had lots of visitors:

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This guy was so happy with his meal that he tweeted the good news out to some of his friends:

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In case you don’t think that birds (or other animals) have distinct personalities, check out the attitude of that little guy staring me down!  Watching these birds and listening to them communicate with each other is another reminder that ALL species have the same desire to survive and thrive as we do.  I feel very grateful that I live in an environment where I can watch these lovely birds live freely.  And I feel even more grateful that I will no longer turn right around and eat other animals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I believe that it is the right of all animals to be free to survive and thrive.  If you believe this too, please consider going vegan.  A cruelty-free life is really something to tweet tweet about :)

Huff Post, Vegas and Dal Dip

There’s a mishmash of a title!  What do these things have in common?  Well…nothing really, but I have a few things on my mind today and no one topic warranted a full post.  So this will be a post of “mini-posts”.  Which leads me to this “Post”…

Huffington Post

I’m a regular reader of the Huffington Post.  It’s where I get a quick peek at top news stories and lose myself browsing the “Healthy Living”, “Green”, and “Post-50″ news and features.

Did you know that the Huffington Post has a “Veganism” section?  Neither did I!  You can take a look for yourself here.  I happened upon this today when I did a general Google search of “vegan news”, and I was surprised that I never noticed this section before.  I went back to the Huffingtonpost.com main page and started perusing all the sections trying to find the link to this page, but I couldn’t find it.  I was not surprised that Veganism didn’t have it’s own section like “Green” or “Black Voices” or “Taste” so I dug a bit further to see if it was a sub-section of one of these main sections.   I checked, “Green”, “Taste”, “Healthy Living” and even “GPS for the Soul” where a section on Veganism would be appropriate. But it was nowhere to be found.  Finally I just typed in “Veganism” in the “search the site” box, and I was connected to a listing of vegan-related articles from Huff Post, but not this page.  I found this all pretty odd.  Why have a section if nobody can find it?

In light of this, I was thinking about the current blog on Victoria Moran’s “Main Street Vegan” website. Victoria wrote an open letter to former President Clinton, a one-time vegan who recently “came out” as non-vegan on the Rachael Ray show. She also submitted her letter to Huffington Post and provided them with the documentation they needed to substantiate some of her claims. After many days, Huff Post finally decided not to run the piece.  According to Victoria, this was unusual as her articles are typically accepted.  This letter was a kind and respectful response to some of President Clinton’s comments (e.g. he might not have been getting enough “high quality protein” on the vegan diet) on the show.  You can read Victoria’s letter/submission here.

I’m not overly surprised that Huff Post would nix an article that challenges a former president in this way.  Unfortunately, Bill Clinton is a powerful voice, and in this case perhaps not the most accurate voice.  While he is certainly entitled to make his own food choices, his appearance on Rachael Ray was undoubtedly harmful to the vegan cause.  Sadly, ex-vegans, who originally went vegan for health rather than ethical reasons oftentimes bash veganism on the way out.  I don’t think they do themselves any favors by going back to any version of the SAD (Standard American Diet) but their rhetoric can be impactful.  Printing articles like Victoria’s allows for a direct response to these claims.

Ironically, during my same “vegan news” search that yielded the HP Veganism page I also read about a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics that compared a vegan diet to the American Heart Association’s recommended diet (probably not unlike President Clinton’s) in reducing obesity and heart disease risk factors in children.  The children on the vegan diet had significantly greater improvement in only one month on the plan. You can read this article here.

I guess the lesson here is that it’s imperative that we do our own research and not depend on ex-presidents , online news companies or anyone to do our research for us.  After all everyone’s got their own agenda.  Next up…

 Vegan in Vegas

David and I spent a few days in Las Vegas last week because he was attending a continuing education course that happened to be at Caesar’s Palace.  I am not a fan of Las Vegas (shocking, I know) but I decided to tag along with the idea of blogging about being vegan in Vegas.  Well, really there was not much to tell.  Vegas  (the strip anyway) is really not vegan-friendly.  With the notable exception of the Wynn properties (owner Steve Wynn is vegan) where you can find ridiculously expensive vegan options (maybe two or three) in the Wynn restaurants,  it was pretty much a vegan desert.

So how did I handle it?  I pretended I wasn’t in Vegas, ignored the strip and looked for the items that I would seek out in Chicago or New Jersey or anywhere I might visit.  So that included:

Breakfast-  Starbucks Soy Latte and Lara Bars ($15.00 for two lattes= insane!)

Snack- Freebie fresh fruit from the Caesar’s fitness center (which was gorgeous and predictably not crowded)

Lunch- Veggie burger at Whole Foods (took the bus off the strip) and Sofritas salad from Chipotle in a nearby food court

Dinner-  Overpriced but serviceable eggplant stir fry and cellophane noodle tofu bowl (Chinese place in Caesar’s) and chips and salsa and vegan tacos at Jose Cuervo’s in the LV airport (who knew?).

Considering that Las Vegas is all about excess, it’s not surprising that healthy eating is not what most visitors have in mind.  But I was surprised by just how few options there were.  I suppose that if you are comped for some of the big buffets there would be plenty to eat, but since I am a committed non-gambler, I was on my own.  I did okay but I was way glad to get home and get back to my own life which admittedly runs a bit minimalist, much like this plate of deliciousness…

Curried Dal Dip

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Our favorite vegan eatery in Tucson is the Food for Ascension cafe (website here).  Lately they’ve been offering small plates for free before the main meal arrives.  These bites are usually dips or hummus type things.  In fact I learned to love hummus at Food for Ascension.  The last time we ate there, we had red lentil dal that was so delicious I had to try making it myself.  I looked at a bunch of recipes and settled on a curried dal (recipe here) that looked similar to the dish we had at the restaurant.

This recipe calls for a handful of ingredients and spices, most of which I already had on hand-red lentils, coconut milk, tomato paste, onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder and garam masala.  After cooking the lentils, everything gets sautéed together until the paste forms. I pulsed the whole mixture in the food processor just to get a smoother consistency.  Here’s a look at the processed dal:

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Admittedly it looks a bit more appealing scooped out (I had fun with my ice cream scoop!) and arranged on the plate with the veggies and pita (naan would be great too).  This dip is incredibly flavorful and very very healthy.  It’s full of protein and only a tiny bit of oil is used for sautéing.  I’m kind of hooked on dips now so I’m pretty sure I’ll be trying and sharing some other varieties very soon.  Thinking a cashew mushroom pate might be next.

Enjoy, and don’t forget the ice cream scoop!

One problem, one solution

lisainaz:

This important post so articulately states how I feel about veganism. I wanted to do my part to share its message. It seems it’s not uncommon to “get it” in our 50’s…

Originally posted on There's an Elephant in the Room blog:

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One problem or many?

It is not surprising that there is so much confusion in the ‘animal rights’ movement. It is all too easy to be misled into thinking that there are lots of different problems, and a range of different courses of action that an individual can take.  It is also all too easy to consider that these different actions are optional and vary in how ‘extreme’ they are.

Well surely there are lots of different problems…? After all, there’s anti fur campaigns, anti down and feather campaigns, anti hunting protests, a wide range of ‘welfare’ campaigns against factory farming practices, campaigns in favour of organic, free range animal farming, campaigns promoting CCTV in slaughterhouses, saving dolphins, anti bullfighting, anti eating dogs and cats, anti circus, anti zoo, anti poaching campaigns in support of elephants, rhinos, snow leopards… You name it – there’s a campaign and / or a protest. So…

View original 1,656 more words

To Die For Wild Mushroom White Pizza

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And it’s VEGAN!!!!

I never made a homemade, from-scratch pizza in my life.  Pizza has always been that food that was easier to go out for than cook myself.  Well, obviously that’s not the case anymore.  Making this divine pizza was a Saturday afternoon labor of love.  David and I found ourselves with a wide open day so we finally decided to tackle the “pizza project”.   Using a recipe from this book seemed like the way to go:

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I found the recipe online as well over here.

Let me preface this by saying that what makes this dish so amazing is the layers and layers of flavor.  I did take lots of pictures of this process.  Here’s how we did it…

First we made the pizza dough.  Yeast dissolved in warm water (took me two tries to get it right!), regular and whole wheat flours, salt, sugar and a bit of olive oil all come together in a sticky, yet stiff ball:

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The dough needed to sit covered for about 1 1/2 hours to rise, so while that was going on we got busy sautéing the mushrooms,  shallots, white wine, parsley and thyme:

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Yum!  We moved that mixture to the processor for a few pulses and moved on to sautéing these:

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This is a mix of exotic mushrooms we found at Whole Foods.  While I was sautéing these, David got busy rolling out our lovely ball of pizza dough:

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Once it was rolled out, we moved the dough onto an oiled baking pan sprinkled with corn meal.  We brushed the dough with more olive oil, sprinkled it with minced garlic and added the processed mushrooms and wild mushrooms:

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We popped this in the oven to cook.  Here’s how it looked when it came out:

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I had a great time peeking into the oven to watch the dough puff up.  I was kind of surprised that it actually worked!

I made the mozzarella “cheese sauce” in advance (oops, no pics of that!).  To make the sauce, I blended raw cashews, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, garlic and corn starch in the Vitamix until it was super smooth.  Once the pizza was cooked I drizzled the mozzarella sauce on top, baked the pizza for one more minute and voila!

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The final touch was a drizzle of chili oil which I also made in advance.  This is simply an infused olive oil (one cup oil, one tbsp red pepper flakes).  Here it is simmering on the stove:

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This pizza was perfect, and everything a good pizza should be.  Crispy and chewy crust and tons of flavor.  This was easily the best “white pizza” I have ever tasted.  The sweet shallots and earthy mushrooms and bite of heat from the chili oil combine to make each bite a real taste sensation.

I’m not going to claim that this pizza was easy to make, but now that I’ve done it once, the next time will be a breeze.  I  have leftover chili oil and mozzarella sauce and both will keep in the refrigerator.  And making the dough is really very simple and I always have those ingredients on hand.   While it does take a bit of time I can say definitively that the result is well worth the trouble. You will be shocked at just how authentic and delicious a vegan pizza can be.

Mangia!

Thoughts on Groundhog Day

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It’s Groundhog Day today.   So if the little critter sees his shadow there’s more winter?  Less winter?  Oh, I don’t know.  I live in Tucson where we are happily into sunny spring.

But I did love the movie, “Groundhog Day”.  In case you haven’t seen it (is there anyone who hasn’t seen it?) it’s about a cranky and cynical weather man (Bill Murray) who is on assignment in Punxsutawney, PA to cover the yearly groundhog shadow-spotting event and related festivities.  He ends up getting snowed in and wakes up to learn that he is reliving the same day as the previous one. Essentially he gets to have a perpetual do-over.  And little by little he adjusts and changes until he becomes the person he wants to be–obviously a better version than the cranky and cynical version.

Well if you’re a regular reader of this blog you can probably guess where this one is going.  While I have often heard myself utter the words, “I want a do-over” what I know for sure (thank you Oprah) is that I didn’t need a do-over, but I did need a do-differently or do-better.    What is so compelling about Groundhog Day is that Phil, (Murray’s character) is the only one who is doing anything differently.  The only thing that is changing is him.  And that starts a progression of positive change in his relationships and how he sees himself.

I read a wonderful book recently called “Gratitude and Trust” by Paul Williams (the composer and performer) and Tracey Jackson  (author and Hollywood screenwriter).  This book is a slightly different take on the principles of 12-step recovery programs that can work for anyone.  It’s essentially a series of affirmations that serve as a guide to change.  The first of these affirmations is:

“Something has to change, and it’s probably me”

I’ve made huge changes in my life over time.  I homeschooled one of my children.  I moved across the country.  I got into therapy. I got divorced.  I relocated again.  I got into therapy again. I got remarried.   I became vegan.   These changes were fueled by a fervent belief that my life could be better, that I could be happier and more fulfilled.  But even as I gritted my teeth and pressed on I still hadn’t fully groked:

Something has to change, and it’s probably me”

This is about commando accountability and honesty.  We don’t find ourselves in situations we put ourselves in situations.  No matter what’s going on we are full participants.  The choices we make are ours.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Bad marriage?   Unfulfilling career?  Sedentary and overweight?   Estranged from our kids?  We are full participants.  Resentful?  Fatigued?  Lonely?  We are full participants.  Once we own that, we can begin to change it.

That being said we don’t need to go it alone.  We need to own our stuff, but we can find support from others- trustworthy partners, friends, therapists  or relatives who can handle and support the changes we are trying to make.  On the other hand we may need to distance ourselves from those who are threatened by our desire to change.

At times, the process of taking full responsibility for all that is in our lives may be painful and sad (hence wishing for do-overs) but letting go of the desire to blame or control others is at the same time wildly relieving, and it paves the way for real joy and serenity.   Focusing on ourselves in this way is not arrogant or selfish (although I’ve been accused of being both).  This is a humble place, and it doesn’t mean we don’t care.  Rather we care enough to let the people we love experience their own journeys and be accountable for their own choices.

Being accountable may impact outcomes and it may not.  Relationships may deepen or they may not.  Jobs may become more satisfying or they may not.  We’re not in the movies after all. And as long as we can only control ourselves this will be true. But I believe that everything feels better when we clean up our side of the street.  With a sense of greater clarity and integrity we can gradually (or not so gradually!) move toward situations that sustain and nurture us.

So if you are someone who watches Groundhog Day with nary a wish for a do-over I’m very very glad for you.  Please get out there and share your sense of joy and fulfillment with the world.  But if you yearn for something better, you can make it so.

It all starts with you.

Oh and it seems that Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow, and I guess that means six more weeks of winter.  Sorry folks.

 

 

 

 

My New Favorite Veggie Burger

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This is not the first veggie burger I’m writing about and I doubt it will be my last, but so far it’s definitely my favorite.

This is a sweet potato and black bean burger that I saw a few days ago on Minimalistbaker.com and it looked so delicious that I had to get right to it.  Actually, I was able to get right to it because it uses ingredients that I already had on hand–sweet potatoes, black beans (I used canned), brown rice, walnuts, scallions, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, salt and pepper. The link for the recipe is here.

These burgers come together very easily and are baked which means almost no oil and very easy clean up.  All good.  The burgers have some kick but are not too spicy, and they have a nice firm texture.   I ate mine on a pile of greens, and David had his on an English muffin with a big slab of avocado:

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The Miso Mayo has been in our fridge for a while:

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The burgers are kind of Southwest and the Miso Mayo is kind of Asian but hey, it worked.  You can really doctor these burgers up any way you like.  I’ll be trying different combinations because I have a bunch of leftovers.  Leftovers are very good.

I pretty much followed this recipe as written except that I used canned beans, upped the salt to 1/2 tsp ( 3/4 tsp would have worked even better) and I made each burger 1/3 cup size instead of the recommended 1/4 cup which makes more of a slider size.  I did learn a neat technique for forming the burgers.  The recipe suggests lining your measuring cup with plastic wrap, filling the cup with the raw burger mixture (which is delicious btw) and inverting the cup over the baking sheet.  When the burger drops down onto the sheet with the plastic wrap on top you can gently press on the plastic wrap to form the burger.  I meant to take some photos of this but I was too busy being enamored with this simple technique to remember the camera.  Here’s a shot of the burgers ready to go in the oven:

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Much neater than my usual “eyeball it” technique.

These burgers are satisfying and incredibly nutritious.  Actually, I think the truth is that these burgers are satisfying because they are nutritious.  Since becoming vegan I’ve definitely experienced a shift in what I crave.  While I still have my bits and bites of sweet desserts and I love my coffee (decaf now!) sweet and creamy, most of what I crave is what’s good for my body–colorful veggies and fruits (have you tried sumo tangerines?), beans, lentils and whole grains.

It feels amazing to have taken the steps to make such a significant change for the better–better for myself, better for the animals and better for the environment.

Plant Power!

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I am not a competitive athlete.  I played tennis in high school and I ran a four-mile race back in the 90’s.  Exercise wasn’t a major part of my life until I moved to Arizona when I was in my forties.  I just couldn’t resist the gorgeous terrain and beautiful weather.  I became a regular hiker.  And while I routinely hike at a pretty good pace I’m not much into timing myself and tracking my “progress”.   Historically, the more I hiked the better I felt, both mentally and physically, and the more easily I could manage my weight.  Not very complicated.

While being vegan is undoubtedly a gift to the body, and I’ve been starting to feel the effects of improved nutrition (better sleep, no gluten sensitivity, lighter and leaner). I hadn’t given very much thought to how the change in diet would impact my hiking.  I started thinking some about this when I listened to podcasts of two very accomplished athletes discussing their competitive successes which were fueled by plant-based, whole foods diets.  The first athlete, Mark Frazier, is an ultra-marathoner (his website, “No Meat Athlete” is here)and the second is Brendan Brazier, a former professional Ironman triathlete and ultra-marathoner (his website, “Thrive Forward” is here).

What I learned was that neither of these athletes went vegan for ethical reasons. While they have feelings about this now, these guys were each seeking an eating approach that would best lead to improved athletic performance.   And we’re talking crazy high-level performance here.  After trying out different combinations of food, they each settled on entirely plant-based diets.  One often-mentioned benefit to the vegan diet was improved recovery time.  Faster recovery = more training.  This certainly made sense to me since I believe that our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal themselves if given the best nutrition.

So four months after going vegan, this got me thinking about testing out my own level of hiking fitness.  And that brings me to the Phoneline Trail in Sabino Canyon.  David and I hike all over this canyon but there’s a half mile stretch of the Phoneline Trail that has always given me fits.  It’s not the steepest part, but it is a section of sustained incline with no switchbacks (oh how I love switchbacks).  When we first moved into our house I routinely climbed this section of the trail and I seldom did it comfortably, even after several months.  Eventually it started to dampen my enthusiasm (bad!) so I devised different trail combinations and avoided that part.

Well, this weekend I decided to get back on Phoneline.  I didn’t really expect to see a big difference.  Man, was I wrong!  Not a huff or a puff.  Zip, zip and it was done.  I didn’t feel tired, winded or depleted. I finished the rest of the hike (probably another few miles) feeling totally energized. While it’s impossible to say definitively that my vegan diet caused the improved performance, the ease with which I scampered up that trail was pretty hard to ignore.

It’s exciting to consider that in my mid-fifties I can, with a change of diet and consistent, reasonably intensive exercise turn back the clock and potentially feel and perform better than I did a decade ago.

Plant power is very, very cool.

 

 

 

 

Weekend Guests Vegan Style

Going vegan means there are lots of “firsts” that go beyond all of the firsts associated with changing to a new and unfamiliar way of eating.  In other posts I’ve written about all the foods– miso, cashew cream, nutritional yeast, lentils, beans and green juice that were new to me.  Several months into this journey cooking with these ingredients has become pretty much second nature.

From a vegan lifestyle standpoint, there are different kinds of “firsts”.  So far, we have experienced our first time traveling on a plane, going on vacation, visiting family, eating out and even shopping for holiday gifts.  Each year I send Anne a Hanukkah box full of goodies that I select.  I had to consider whether I would buy a leather wallet (nope) or a cookbook that included non-vegan food (nope).  So beyond food, there’s lots of research and planning that goes on once we step outside our own homes and engage more in the culture we are a part of (we are trying to change?).

So this past weekend, David’s son, Jason and his girlfriend, Kristen, flew across the country to visit with us for three days.  It was the first time we had guests (non-vegan) staying in our house since we became vegan.   We knew they would be completely respectful of our vegan home, but we also wanted to make sure they had a great time with us (it was their vacation after all), ate well and felt welcome.   And that meant some planning.  Our time spent together was really fun and relaxing and I thought I’d share how we balanced our needs with theirs.

Jay and Kristen were due in Thursday night, and we knew they would not have had dinner.   We figured we’d eat before they arrived and take them out to one of their favorite local places.  The plan was to cook dinner for us that could be reheated for lunch the next day. We chose our favorite vegan mac and cheese (recipe here): DSCN2058

and smoky tomato and lentil soup (recipe here): DSCN2223

I also baked a yummy pumpkin bread earlier in the day figuring that it could be toasted for breakfast or snacked on while we were hanging around.  Here’s a look at my breakfast this morning (recipe here): DSCN2336

At dinner at our favorite local bar and grill, they ordered non-vegan items off the menu and we had drinks and munched on chips and salsa.

On Friday we started the day with smoothies (banana, strawberries, blueberries, rice milk) and we all munched on toast, cereal and english muffins. Easy peasy.  For lunch we all enjoyed the reheated soup and mac and cheese giving us plenty of energy for an afternoon hike in Sabino Canyon.  We had lots of nuts,chips, pretzels and fresh fruit around for afternoon snacking.

Friday night we also went out to dinner to our neighborhood Italian place (one we had scoped out for ourselves weeks earlier).  We happily ate penne pasta with tomato, spicy peppers and mushrooms and Jay and Kristen made their own (non-vegan) choices off the menu.  We shared a bottle of red wine and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Saturday was all about hanging out and watching football.  The cold beer was ready.  We had plenty of nosh around and this arrived just in time:

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This vegan cheese is all the buzz and for good reason.  We ordered a package of four of these handcrafted vegan cheeses before the new year and they arrived just in time for the game.  Our pack included a smoky English farmhouse cheese, some garlic/herb which was tangy and creamy, this winter truffle and some sun dried tomato that we haven’t tried yet.  These are quite tasty and as Kristen said,  “if you didn’t say they were vegan, no one would know”.  High praise if you’ve ever tried any of the other commercial vegan cheeses.  If you want to know more about this product, the website is here.  I totally enjoyed being able to serve “cheese and crackers” and everyone loved it.

Saturday night dinner was a chance for me to do my vegan thing in the kitchen.  Jeff joined us, and I made one of our favorite dishes, Tempeh Creole.  I’ve written about this one before and here’s a look at it:

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Jay and Kristen were surprised by the meaty texture and the transformation of the tempeh from its packaged form to this.  Kristen and I had fun dicing, slicing and putting this dish together, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. By this point I was ready for some convenience food so I served this for dessert:

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Actually I served the chocolate walnut fudge flavor, but when I went to take a picture of it this morning the container was nowhere to be seen.  Hmmm…  This stuff is delicious, especially if you like coconut.  We let ours soften up for a while before serving and the consistency was super creamy and delicious.

After a lovely weekend full of talking, eating, drinking, hiking and football we said goodbye yesterday afternoon.  Jay and Kristen were very open-minded about eating our vegan dishes (they even enjoyed our afternoon green juice), and we tried to offer a variety of familiar and tasty vegan dishes.  At the same time we made plans to take them out to eat so they would have the opportunity to eat other non-vegan foods while we were together.

I’m offering up this post as a way to show people who are already vegan or just thinking about it, that it is possible (and fun!) to get together with family or friends, remain true to a vegan lifestyle and also be considerate of others who eat differently than we do.   There’s no question that it takes a bit more planning.  Knowing in advance which non-vegan restaurants work well is one important part of the equation because it is definitely harder as a vegan to just “run out for a bite to eat”. But what better way to show out-of-town guests that you care than to plan for their arrival and serve an array of tasty foods?

I believe that the best way to encourage others to consider veganism as a way of life is to show them “how it’s done”.  I can’t say that Jason and Kristen loved every morsel of our vegan meals, but they certainly saw that it’s possible to live compassionately, cook delicious food and still live and love in the culture that surrounds us.