Easy Plant-Based Thanksgiving Main!

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Thanksgiving really is a time to spend with your family and friends celebrating what you are truly thankful for. But it is also well known for everyone sitting down to a huge meal that traditionally is laden with meat products.  I have celebrated decades of this holiday serving plant based products only. It is absolutely delicious and much easier than you think. Today, we are going to cover Main Dish alternatives that will leave your guests wanting seconds and thirds!

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No Need For Turkey or Ham!

There are so many options out there, and your supermarket most likely has at least a couple of choices, but here are some that I like:

1)      With only a 22 minute cook time Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y is a great choice. Delicious and easy!
2)      Field Roast Stuffed Celebration Roast - Stuffed with a savory sausage-style stuffing made with butternut squash, apples and mushrooms makes this plant based roast and great addition to your meal!
3)      To feed a big crowd try the Vegetarian Plus – Whole Vegan Turkey. Tastes great and can feed over 20 people. And for those of you who want the “look” it does look like the meat option.
4)      Vegetarian Plus also makes a ham substitute with an apricot plum glaze.
5)      For cozier dinners, Gardein offers a selection of Turk’y cutlets which I quite often include at my holiday dinners and my guests love them!
6)      If you want to make a main from scratch, here is a great recipe:

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Portobello Mushroom with Savory Stuffing and Gravy – 4 servings, easy to double or triple

-  4 portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed
-  4 cups of cubed bread, whatever type you like-leave out to dry for an hour
-  1 of each diced: onion, celery stalk, carrot, apple
-  1 cup of cooked rice, white or brown or wild
-  2 cups of mushroom or vegetable stock
-  1 tsp each (dried): thyme, rosemary, sage, salt, pepper
-  Olive oil

Directions:
-  Preheat oven to 350.
-  Trim the Portobello mushrooms and brush both sides lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place on parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes and remove. Let cool slightly.
-  While mushroom caps are cooking, add oil to a pan on medium heat, and add chopped vegetables and all spices. Cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes). Do not brown.
-  Add rice and stock. If the mixture is dry add a bit more stock, then remove from heat.
-  Mound stuffing into each mushroom cap. Place in 350 degree oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Gravy
-  2 Tbsp Olive Oil or Vegan butter
-  3 cups of sliced mushrooms, whatever type you like
-  1 small onion, diced fine
-  2 cloves of garlic, minced
-  1 tsp each salt, pepper, thyme-dried
-  2 cups of mushroom or vegetable stock
-  2 Tbsp organic corn starch or 3 Tbsp of flour

Directions:
-  In a medium saucepan heat oil or vegan butter over medium heat.
-  Add onions and garlic and spices, cook for 1-2 minutes and then add mushrooms. Sauté until soft (about 7-10 minutes).
-  Add your corn starch or flour to the pan and stir until veggies are coated.
-  Slowly add your stock, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes.
-  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Crunchy Vegan "Fish" Taco's

These taco's are easy to put together and are great for a weekday dinner or a Sunday lunch. To speed things up, add your cashews to hot water in the morning so they will be ready for you when you need them. Enjoy!

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6 small Organic Corn Tortillas

Battered Tofu
- 1 pound organic extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 30 minutes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup beer
- 1/2 teaspoon each: salt, ground cumin and chili powder
- About 1/3 cup canola oil (or another neutral flavor high heat vegetable oil)

Directions:
- Slice the tofu into 4 pieces, width-wise. Next, slice each piece into 4 thin strips. You should have 16 strips about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Mix the flour, bear, spices and salt together in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Add oil in a medium sized cast iron or regular frying pan. The oil should be at least 1/8-inch deep. Place the pan over medium-high heat.
- Dip your tofu strips into the batter to coat all sides and place the tofu in the pan, leaving space between strips. Cook the tofu for about two minutes on each side or until it is browned and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat until all of the tofu strips are cooked, adding oil to the skillet as needed between batches. Set aside.

Cucumber Slaw
- 2 cups each:  julienned English cucumber; julienned pealed jicama
- 1 cup julienned radish
- 2 diced jalapeno, seeds removed if you don’t want it too spicy
- 3 Tbsp each: lime juice and olive oil
- 2 Tbsp Vinegar (rice or white wine)
- 1 tsp each: ground cumin, chili powder, sugar, salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions:
- Combine the lime juice, oil and spices together until mixed well.
- Mix all of the ingredients together, add dressing let sit for 30 minutes.

Chipotle Crema
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup cashews
- 2-3 Tbsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers)
- 2 tsp lime juice
- Salt and pepper

Directions:
- Heat the water until just simmering in a pot over medium heat. Add cashews and let sit at least for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours.
- Put cashews and water into a blender and blend until the sauce no longer feels grainy.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until mixed thoroughly.

Assemble your tacos – spread some crema, add your fried tofu and top with your slaw. Serve with lime wedges. Feel free to add chopped avocado or your favorite salsa.

Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein From??

This is most likely the number one asked question I hear from non-vegans.  They will probably never stop asking, and I will never stop answering. So hear it is again. The recommended intake of protein is .36 grams per pound, so an average of 56 grams per day for a sedentary man and about 46 grams for an inactive woman.  Healthy active people and even serious body builders have no problem following a plant-based diet as well. You can incorporate protein all throughout the day on a plant-based diet, especially in snacks, where it’s most often overlooked, without really needing a massive source at every meal. Here are just a few easy ways to include protein in your everyday lives.

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Lentils – They are super affordable and super-filling! They add about 9 grams of protein for each half cup, plus a ton of fiber!  Add your favorite Mexican spices to cooked lentils, throw in a few veggies and your fav salsa and presto – Lentil Tacos! A cup of cooked lentils added to your favorite salad is another easy way to add this versatile ingredient.

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Quinoa – This glutton-free grain racks up 8 grams of protein per cup, and is a great source of magnesium, antioxidants and fiber!  Transform your morning smoothie into a legit meal by adding some cooked quinoa.  Replace your morning oatmeal with this cooked grain and add a handful of your favorite berries. Adding to salads, soups and stir-fry’s are all easy ways to include quinoa in your daily meals.

Nuts and Seeds – Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, and Pumpkin, Chia and Flax seeds are all great sources of protein, fiber and many other health benefits.  Hemp seeds are a complete protein that are hard NOT to love. Packing 13 grams in just 3 tablespoons, these tiny seeds are easy to add anywhere. Try mixing in nuts to your non-dairy yogurt, sprinkle a handful on your favorite salad, add ground flaxseed to your morning smoothie, or just snack on a handful of almonds.

Artichokes - Containing 4 grams of protein in just 1/2 cup, artichoke hearts are a great way to boost fiber, protein, and they are filling but low in calories.

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Edamame – Another great source of protein, antioxidants and fiber, these young green soybeans are delicious and pack in 8.5 grams of protein per ½ cup! Snack on them with a sprinkle of salt or add to soups, burgers, and salads. You can also dry roast them for a great snack.

Green beans, Broccoli and Asparagus – These are great sources of protein and are all easy to add to your best recipes.

Nutritional Yeast – This cheesy tasting ingredient contains 8 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons and can usually be found in the Natural department of your grocery store. An easy way to add this to your diet is to sprinkle some into your mashed cauliflower or potatoes, salads or pizzas or add to a bowl of popcorn. Cheese dips and Mac and Cheese are all great foods for this ingredient.

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Korean Tofu Stir-Fry - So Good!

The good thing about a stir-fry is you can add just about anything you like. This recipe has a Korean inspired flavors but you can easily change up the sauce and the veggies to whatever you like!

photo by VeganKitchn

photo by VeganKitchn

Korean Tofu Stir-Fry (serves 2-3)

-  1 16 oz package of organic extra-frim tofu, dried and cut into cubes (see note below)
-  1 carrot, peeled and sliced thin
-  1 small onion, chopped
-  1 cup of each: mushrooms-sliced; cauliflower florets; red pepper-sliced into strips
-  2 green onions, sliced
-  1/2 cup of organic cornmeal plus a pinch of salt and pepper
-  1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Sauce:
-  1/4 cup of Organic Soy sauce
-  2 Tbsp of Sesame Oil
-  2 garlic gloves, minced
-  1 Tbsp of Sesame Seeds
-  1/2 tsp of dried red pepper flakes or a tsp of hot pepper minced
-  1 Tbsp of organic cane sugar

Directions:
-  Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce.
- Once your tofu has been drained and cut into cubes, dredge it in the seasoned cornmeal.
- Heat up a large pan to medium high and add about 1 tbsp olive oil. Place the tofu cubes in the pan. Heat one side for about 2-3 minutes and then turn over and heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.
- Add more olive oil and add the onion, cook for 1 minute. Add the rest of the veggies and cook, stirring often for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add sauce to the pan, stir for about 1 minute.
- Add cooked tofu to the pan, stir for about 30 seconds.
- Serve with cooked basmati rice or noodles. 

NOTE: An easy way to drain tofu is to wrap the entire block in several pieces of paper towel and then set a heavy object on it. I use a clean brick but you can place a plate on top and then a heavy food can of anything. Let it drain from 10 minutes to an hour.

Barbeque Season is Here!

Cookouts have been typically meat-laden, but you can easily change that. Putting together a Vegan barbeque can be simple and delicious. If you’re not sure where to start, try some of these tasty cruelty-free recipes – ENJOY!

These recipes serve 6 but you can easily change them up to whatever you need.

Grilled Corn with Chili and Lime

6 ears of corn
1 Lime cut into wedges – one per ear of corn
2 Tbsp. Chili powder
2 tsp. Cayenne powder
2 tsp Sea Salt

Directions:
- Preheat grill to medium high and lightly brush grill with oil.
- Peel corn and place on grill, turning occasionally for about 20 minutes. Corn should have charred spots.
- Mix together the chili powder, cayenne and salt.
- Transfer corn to serving platter, squeeze lime juice over corn and sprinkle with spices.

photo by One Green Planet

photo by One Green Planet

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

6 Portobello mushrooms
½ C of balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 tsp each: garlic flakes (or minced fresh garlic), dried basil, oregano
Salt and pepper
Whole Wheat Buns

TOPPINGS: Sliced tomato, sliced avocado, sliced onion, Vegan cheese (Follow Your heart is delicious)

Directions:
-  Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Place in a shallow bowl smooth side up
-  Mix vinegar, soy, oil and spices together and pour over mushrooms. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.
-  Preheat grill to medium high and lightly brush grill with oil.
- Grill for 5-8 minutes per side. Top with cheese if using for the last 2 minutes.
- Serve on a bun and top with condiments and veggies.

Vegan Potato Salad

1.5 pounds of baby potatoes – red and purple work best but you can use any type
3 cups of cut raw veggies: red and green peppers, celery, onions, carrots, frozen corn and green onions
1/3 C of vegan mayo
3 Tbsp of pickle juice plus 3 Tbsp of chopped dill pickles
3 Tbsp of dried dill
Salt and pepper

Directions:
-  In a large pot, cover the cleaned potatoes with cold water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for about 10 minutes.
-  Mix mayo, pickle juice, chopped pickles, dill and salt and pepper.
-  Drain potatoes and add dressing while potatoes are hot.
- Once potatoes have cooled slightly place in fridge until they come to about room temperature.
-  Add all of the cut fresh veggies and refrigerate until using (at least one hour before serving).

photo by The Food Channel

photo by The Food Channel

Mint Watermelon Lemonade

10 cups of watermelon
4 lemons, squeezed
2 tsp of lemon zest
6 sprigs of fresh mint
Ice Cubes

Directions:
-  Place the watermelon, lemon juice and zest into a blender or food processor.
-  Pour over ice and add mint sprigs.

 

These are just a few ideas, the possibilities are endless. For convenience and variety, there are loads of great vegan hotdogs, sausages, chicken burgers and beef burgers available at most grocery stores. If they don’t carry them, ask.

Make Your Own Vegan Cheese

Cheese is one of those things that some Vegans say they miss. Here is a very easy recipe for a tasty spreadable cheese!

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 3 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp each: sea salt and white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • OPTIONAL: minced chives or dill for serving
  • EQUIPMENT NEEDED:  Food Processor and Cheesecloth.

DIRECTIONS:

-Cover the cashews with cold water and place in the fridge for 12 hours or overnight.
-Drain the cashews and add all ingredients to a food processor. Process until very smooth.
-Place a colander over a large bowl and line the colander with two pieces of cheesecloth. Scrape the mixture into the cloth and twist the cloth so it is tight around the mixture. Secure with a twist tie or elastic.
-Put the bowl and mixture into the refrigerator for 6 hours or until set.

NOTES; Sprinkle with fresh chives or dill for serving, and top with pickled jalapenos, roaster red peppers or sliced olives.

Easy Vegan Weeknight Dishes

These recipes will keep dinner fast, fresh and easy!

AVOCADO PASTA
-  2-3 ripe avocados
-  2 servings of pasta (whole wheat works great)
-  1/3 cup of lemon juice
-  2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped roughly
-  ¼ cup olive oil
-  Handful of basil chopped or 1 Tbsp. of pesto
-  Salt and pepper
-  Grated Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
-  Cook pasta according to directions.
-  While pasta is cooking, scoop out avocados and put in blender with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and basil. Blend until creamy.
- Drain pasta and toss with avocado mixture. Top with parmesan or nutritional yeast if using.

OPTIONS:
-  Add cooked veggies – peppers, mushrooms, etc.
-  Make noodles from zucchini instead of using pasta.

VEGGIE PIZZA
-  1 large whole wheat wrap
-  1 cup of fresh chopped vegetables: mushrooms, onions, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, etc.
- ¼ cup of tomato sauce or you can replace with olive oil or pesto
-  ¼ cup Vegan mozzarella or cheddar cheese (optional)
-  1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-  1 tsp of dried herbs: oregano, basil, thyme, etc.

DIRECTIONS:
- Spread the wrap with tomato sauce, pesto or olive oil and place vegetables on top. Add garlic and herbs and cover with cheese.
- Place wrap on a baking tray or pizza tray and bake at 375 for about 7-8 minutes until golden brown.

STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS

-  2 large Portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed
- ½ cup each: black beans, frozen organic corn and chopped tomatoes
-  1 Tbsp olive oil
-  ½ tsp each: ground cumin and garlic powderr
-  ½ cup Vegan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:
-  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the beans, corn and tomatoes with olive oil and spices, add salt and pepper to taste.
-  Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture.
-  Put half of cheese in each mushroom.
-  Put in oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes.

Travel Green - Some Easy Tips

The United Nations has appointed 2017 as The International Year of Sustainable Tourism.

This means as travelers, businesses and human beings, we have a responsibility to care for and leave a positive impact on our environment while wandering about our planet. We need to take action and speak out. We need to encourage the industry to become more responsible.

In 2015, 7.2 trillion dollars were spent on Travel and Tourism, accounting for nearly 10% of the global GDP, and one in ten jobs are a result of this industry. That is quite a positive economic impact!

Unfortunately the environmental impression from this industry isn’t quite so positive to say the least.  Negative impacts from tourism occur when the level of visitor use is greater than the environment's ability to cope with this use. This includes the depletion of local natural resources, pollution and waste problems.

Here are a few tips for travelling green on your next vacation:

-   Before you leave, remember to turn off and unplug everything that does not need to be on and turn down your heat or A/C.

-  Consider taking a vacation closer to home. Many of us live in places where tourists from elsewhere visit, so take a holiday in your hometown and find out what it has to offer.

-  Use other modes of transportation when possible. Trains and buses are more energy efficient than airplanes. Even cars can be more efficient than planes, especially with multiple passengers.

-  If you do fly, choose the most direct route possible, since take-offs and landings use the most fuel, and fly during the daytime, because studies have shown that flights taken at night have a greater impact on the climate.

-  Pack light - lighter planes mean less fuel is burned.

-  Most of the plastic that has been produced is still here, so remember to bring reusable bags and water bottles for your trip.

photo by Campi ya Kenzi

photo by Campi ya Kenzi

-  Choose a hotel that is eco-friendly. A quick google search can tell you which hotels have the best green policies. Leed certified hotels are a great option. Other programs to look for are: Green Key Global, Green Globe International, Green Seal and EcoRooms & EcoSuites

-  While at your hotel, reuse towels and sheets, and remember to turn off lights, TV’s and heating/air conditioning when you leave the room.

-  Remember to stay on paths while on hikes and respect the area. Whether you are at the beach or hiking through a jungle - clean up after yourself!

-  Use Reef-safe sunscreens. They are very easy to find on-line. Here is one option

-  Never participate in animal petting of any kind or animal selfie shots. Do not visit animals in captivity who are used for entertainment (that includes zoos, marinas and circuses), and riding elephants is never an ethical activity no matter what anyone tells you.

-  Consider volunteering on your vacation, but do the research before you go and make sure they are legit.

-  Reconsider taking a cruise. Cruise ships are travelled by approximately 25 million passengers each year and the average daily garbage created by each passenger is around 8 pounds. The math is staggering! Many of these gargantuan floating hotels create as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance and burn over 150 tonnes of fuel a day.

 

Give the Finger to Animal Testing

What we allow, is what will continue.

The exact numbers of animals that are tested on worldwide is difficult to nail down, but the estimates are in the hundreds of millions. We can't expect changes to occur unless each of us are willing to make real changes. If enough of us boycott products that are tested on animals and support those who don't, companies will have no choice but to change. Animal testing on consumer products is outdated. We have the technology to put safe products on the market and it is time to end the needless suffering of millions of animals each year.

Today's Cruelty Free Product is toothpaste. There are several companies out there who offer cruelty free and fluoride free options. They can be found in your local health food stores, at many grocery stores and almost always on-line. Jason is one company that does exactly that. In Canada, The Green Beaver Company has a great selection of cruelty free products. 

Your choices DO make a difference as we speak with our dollars. Collectively we have all the power to make a difference.

Easy Vegan Substitutes

Being Vegan is slowly becoming more mainstream. If you are new to this lifestyle choice and want to try converting some of your favorite recipes to Vegan, here is a list of some substitutes you can easily make to adjust your recipes.

Milk:  It is easy to substitute cow’s milk in any recipe. Use any nut milk, soy milk, rice milk, coconut or hemp milk in equal substitute amounts. For buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your plant-based milk in the amount needed.

Cheese: So many choices out there. For vegan cheese lovers, Soy cheese melts, spreads and tastes like the real thing, without all the saturated fat! Nutritional yeast is another great choice!

Eggs: There are several vegan egg replacements. Tofu is quite often used when making a scrambled egg dish. When baking, you can use mashed bananas, applesauce, Ener-G egg replacer, a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax seeds plus 3 tablespoons water or other liquid), or soft tofu.

Butter: Vegan margarines are available in most grocery stores. You can also use sunflower, olive or even coconut oil. For breakfast, toast with mashed avocado is amazing.

Beef and chicken stock: You can easily sub vegetable or mushroom stock or even water for most recipes.

Meat: There are tons of meat substitutes on the market today. In recipes you can use tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein – it tastes better than it sounds) and chickpeas or other beans. You can also find veggie bacon and ground beef, veggie deli slices, premade veggie burgers, meatballs, sausage patties, and even soy chicken patties and nuggets.

Honey: Maple syrup and Agave can be used usually measure for measure. There are a lot of sweetener substitutes as well. I would avoid corn based sweeteners unless they are certified organic.

Sour Cream and Yogurt: Both can be subbed with soy or coconut yogurt. There are also commercially made vegan yogurts available.