Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vegan Month - Completed!

The challenge: To try out a vegan diet for one month -July 2011
The reason: I'm vegetarian, and have always wondered how hard it would be to be vegan. And, to keep life interesting. I like giving myself little challenges every now and then.
The outcome: A future of much more vegan cooking & eating.

I never really had seriously considered going vegan. I must admit, even I used to think that vegans were just incredibly restrictive and a little too extreme. Maybe living in California has changed my perception a bit, and the idea of just trying out veganism for a month - just to see how hard it would be - seemed like a good one.

Well, I've been pleasantly surprised. For the most part, during my experimental vegan month, I didn't ever feel deprived. Yes, being vegan often requires a little more planning and effort, but vegans also don't just eat twigs & seeds- there's a whole world of vegan options, especially in California. I don't think ever I've made so many new dishes in one month, so it was an exciting experiment!

Some things I learned:
  1. First and foremost- it's not that hard to be vegan! Really! (Well, ok, this is coming from a vegetarian, but it was not NEARLY as restrictive as I thought it would be). Yes, you may need to refuse some things you like (or used to like). But almost always you can a) find a vegan substitute or b) make your own healthier version that will leave you feeling better than if you ate that hunk of cheese or scoop of icecream.
  2. There are so many great vegan blogs- Finding Vegan is one of my new favorite sites.
  3. It's maybe not such a great idea to over-do it on the raw veggies. (We'll just say it can be ... um... unpleasant, digestive and otherwise...)
  4. Fake butter works well in baking, as do egg replacers! You can make a delicious cupcake (including frosting) without any dairy products!
  5. Don't eat your delicious new favorite raw kale salad 4 meals in a row. Oh wait... see #3. Seriously.
  6. It's better to not have the "fake" item and just choose a different ingredient all together- something natural! For example, soy yogurt is gross. I'm sorry, but it is. Better to just pick something that isn't trying to be something else. Also, I learned that Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese tastes just like normal cream cheese, but has 5 grams of TRANS fats (the very very bad for your health kind!) Since I usually have low-fat cream cheese, I think that's a step in the wrong direction. Just because something is 'vegan' doesn't automatically mean it is 'healthy'. (The same goes for vegetarian). I think a lot of people confuse that. Reading ingredients & nutrition info is important.
  7. Being vegan isn't just about what you eat- it's a conscious lifestyle choice. I have a lot left to learn about not just vegan eating, but the vegan lifestyle. I'm not sure my "vegan month" was a "real" vegan month, since I was focused on eating vegan, and largely forgot about the other parts. While I have always tried to pick products not tested on animals, I can't say I've carefully scrutinized every household product, personal care item, or piece of clothing I bought. Why shouldn't we all be more informed about everything we eat, use, and wear? The problem is we've gotten lazy (myself included!) and don't put forth the time and effort to find out where our food and products come from. But vegans do.
Life lessons I have a lot of respect for vegans. I think in the past, I've tried to sugar-coat or simplify my reasons for being vegetarian, to avoid long discussions or to make the issue more palatable to the general public. ("I just don't like the taste of meat"- while true, it skirts the topic of a full belief system against animal cruelty). Being a scientist, I completely understand we as humans evolved eating meat; however, the way we eat meat today- where it comes from, how it's obtained, what's in it- is not the same. By being so removed from our food sources, the onus is on us to become informed and make decisions. Going vegan for a month caused me not only to question things, but also to become excited about diet and nutrition again. It's been really refreshing to discover, at 33, that there is still so much I have to learn about something we deem to be as basic as food. Reading ingredients on packages, googling whether something contains animal products, searching for recipes- while time-consuming- was exciting and kind of humbling. Ultimately, what it all meant was that I can still really change and there are still plenty of new things to try. Soooo.... am I going vegan for good?? While that wasn't necessarily the point of my vegan month, I am seriously considering it. Life's a journey, and so are our culinary preferences and choices... so I can't close the book on the possibility. Right now, I'm questioning things (Will I feel guilty about not being vegan? But can I really give up cream cheese and froyo for life? ) I am glad I gave those things up for a while, because I just *might* have been in a yogurt-a-day, cheese & crackers, dairy-high-diet rut. I think my next step is to get more information. I think it's good every now and then to take a step back and really think about what you're eating- whether that's to figure out where it comes from, what's in it, or what it does for your health & well being.

Vegan Blueberry Tart!

Um, wow. I just ate two bites of this dessert, and it's killer (and vegan!) The original recipe comes from Vegan Culinary Crusade, which included dried lavender. Since I didn't have any, I omitted it, but it still tasted wonderful. I made two small tarts, but I think next time I might use an even smaller container- maybe a mini muffin tin (?!) -they are soooooo rich and filling, it's best to keep servings small.

Without further ado, here's the recipe!

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
4 medjool dates, pitted
pinch of salt

1 cup cashews, soaked 2 hours
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 TBSP agave syrup
1 tsp dried lavender (if you have it!)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 tsp agave syrup


  1. Soak the cashews for the filling for about 2 hours.
  2. Combine the nuts for crust in food processor and pulse into a fine meal. Add dates (briefly soaked in warm water if they are hard) and salt, pulse until the dates are well mixed in.
  3. Press the batter into small tart shells or a medium tart pan, using your fingers to press the batter evenly across the base of the tart pan and to create an even crust around the sides. Place the tart shell in the freezer or refrigerator to firm up.
  4. Combine the filling ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. (Note: this wasn't clear from the original recipe, but I had my cashews in a big bowl of water soaking. I poured off the water before adding the cashews to the blender, but then ended up having to add about 5-6 Tbsp to get it to blend, so maybe don't pour off all the water!) Add the filling to the tart shell and return to the freezer for ~30 minutes.
  5. Heat the blueberries and agave in a small sauce pot over low-medium heat, gently stirring to keep most of the blueberries whole. Pour over the top of t he tarts & serve! (or store in fridge for later). OR: simply sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top of the tart.

The cashew filling can also be a vegan icecream- just store in the freezer and serve with fruit. Keep in mind that small servings are good for something that rich & filling though!

Vegan muffins

vegan lemon poppy seed muffins
Muffins and cupcakes are some of my favorite things to make. They're easy, tasty, and you can vary them a million different ways. But during my vegan month, I was a little skeptical that vegan baked goods could be that great (without perhaps using way too much oil). Well, I'm happy to say that there's no reason to be afraid of vegan butter and egg substitutes! I used Red Mill All Natural Egg Replacer for this recipe, which is made of whole soy flour, wheat gluten (but there are gluten-free egg replacers too!), corn syrup solids, and algin. It contains NO trans or saturated fats, and has a measly 30 calories and 1 gram of fat per "egg" equivalent.

I found this "easy vegan baking batter" recipe through the Lunch Box Bunch/Healthy Happy Life, a great vegan site. I decided to try it as a base for a few different types of muffins- lemon poppy seed and banana cinnamon.

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup soy milk - (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp Egg Replacer + water to activate as per instructions on package
  • 1 mashed banana (optional)
  • For flavors I used you will also need: lemon for zest, poppy seeds, and for the second muffin, banana and cinnamon. I also sprinkled the tops with some clear sparkling sugar.
I opted to make the low-fat version, using 1/4 cup of oil and 3/4 cup of the almond milk, which I don't think sacrificed much flavor. I also substituted whole wheat flour for about half of the total flour, which I wouldn't really recommend doing unless you are making a heartier muffin- such as maybe something with oats or raisins in it.

They were very tasty! Especially right out of the oven.

vegan muffins
There aren't instructions on the site, but here's what I did:
  1. Mix together the flour, baking soda, powder and salt.
  2. Mix 2 Tbsp egg replacer with the instructed amount of water on the package, and add to dry ingredients.
  3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. (The banana is optional -it makes the muffins really nicely moist, but does give a strong banana flavor. Without it, the muffins are still spongy and moist).
  4. Place in mini or full-sized lined or greased muffin pans and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean. (About 12-15 minutes for mini ones).
After mixing all the ingredients, I actually split the batter in half (something I do fairly often when I'm baking! I like variety). With half of the batter, I added a very small ripe banana and mashed it into the batter, and then added some cinnamon and just a sprinkle of nutmeg and cloves (don't go overboard with those spices!). With the other half, I added some lemon zest and poppy seeds.

vegan muffinsFront row: vegan lemon-poppy seed mini muffins
Back row: vegan banana cinnamon mini muffins

The batter can also be used for pancakes, waffles, and coffee cakes too! Happy vegan baking!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vegan Summer "Pasta"

vegan pasta zucchiniI found this recipe for vegan raw spring pasta through Finding Vegan (my new favorite site! the pics are awesome and always inspire me to try new dishes). The picture made my mouth water - it just looked so deliciously creamy! But, surprise, that's not pasta- it's spiralized zucchini!

I had never used - or for that matter heard of- a spiralizer before, but I have to say, I got pretty excited about using it for the first time. I can make noodles out of vegetables??!! No way!!!

The epic virgin spiralizer experience:

spiralizerI can't wait to try out other things, too - like sweet potato fries and homemade veggie chips. But back to the "pasta" dish. The recipe comes from Vegan Culinary Crusade, so I can't take any credit. But I'm glad I found it! Here are the ingredients and steps, copied from VCC:

Pasta ingredients:
  • 1 large zucchini, peeled or spiralized into noodles
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup asparagus
  • 1 avocado
  • 6 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme
  1. Wash & cut fresh asparagus into bite-sized pieces and place in the freezer. Keep the peas in the freezer as well until you are ready to use them.
  2. Peel & spiralize the zucchini (it's easy!) and mix in the salt & pepper. Set aside.
  3. Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender or processor and blend until creamy.
  4. Boil a pot of water. Remove the asparagus & peas from the freezer and place in a large bowl. Once the water has reached a boil, pour it over the asparagus & peas so that they are completely covered. Let stand for ~ 2 minutes.
  5. Drain the water from the asparagus & peas and mix in with the zucchini noodles.
  6. Add the sauce & toss!
Just a little bit of a warning: raw veggies can be a little harder on the digestive system (sometimes they make you... bloated), so moderate your portion sizes.

This dish looks creamy and rich, just like an alfredo pasta. But looks can be deceiving! The avocado does give the sauce a nice creaminess, but obviously it doesn't taste like a cream sauce. But, the dish is summery and refreshing with the lemon and thyme. This would be a good accompaniment to a summer meal, but I'm not sure I'm sold on raw zucchini.

Bon appetite!
vegan pasta dinner raw zucchini

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chloe's cupcake!

vegan cupcakeI love cupcakes. I've been making mini ones the center of parties for a while, and so I was pretty excited to try my first batch of vegan cupcakes during my "vegan month". But how to pick a recipe? If I'm committing to making a full batch of cupcakes and bringing them to a party, I want to make sure they are really delicious. What better vegan cupcake to pick, in that case, than the one that beat them all in Cupcake Wars? I decided to make the beautiful Chef Chloe's equally beautiful vegan Tiramisu cupcake.

To sum things up, this is an 100% vegan cupcake with a vanilla cake base, hollowed out a bit in the center and filled with a soaking liquid of amaretto and espresso and raspberry sauce, and topped off with a buttercream frosting that's hinted with amaretto & espresso. Is your mouth watering yet? The result is a very sweet, grown-up cupcake, reminiscent of Tiramisu but not overpowering.

raspberry syrupDespite having no egg, and almond milk rather than regular milk, these cupcakes came out perfectly... they have a hint of vanilla flavor and are incredibly moist and just a little spongy. A great base cupcake.

I'll defer to Chef Chloe's site for the recipes/instructions for all these components, and just list the ingredients in case a link changes at some point!

Ingredients I used in the cupcakes: 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, ¾ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (T.Joe's brand), ½ cup canola oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Next came the raspberry filling. At first I thought I had made it too thin (I used agave syrup rather than sugar, as the recipe calls for either), but after letting it cool in the fridge, the consistency was perfect for a filling. (OR, I'm thinking this would make a great topping to icecream- vegan or not). There's a hint of citrus and cinnamon in the raspberry filling that makes it just awesome.

vegan raspberry cupcake Ingredients I used in the raspberry sauce: 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen), a little less than ½ cup agave syrup, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of salt

I pretty much followed the recipe to a T, other than I only made 6 regular sized cupcakes- with the rest of the batter, I made 24 mini cupcakes, since people at parties tend to be scared off of committing to a full-sized cupcake (even though they will eat 2 or 3 minis!)

The results:

These are the mini ones only:

vegan raspberry tiramisu cupcake
Soaking liquid ingredients: 1/3 cup amaretto and 1 Tablespoon instant espresso

Frosting ingredients: 1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, 3 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add to taste: 2 tablespoons instant espresso powders mixed wiht 2 tablespoons amaretto.

Some notes:
-Definitely take Chloe's advice and don't add all the espresso mixture to the frosting at once. I might have used about half of it in total to get the right consistency and flavor.
-The frosting is REALLY sweet. I'm wondering if some of the sugar could be cut back...
-Overall, a really delicious, sophisticated cupcake. They do take a bit longer than your average cupcake to make, but the result is worth it!
-I just might have eaten the scooped out parts of the cupcakes that Chloe says to 'discard'.... hey, you have to make sure they taste ok, right? ;-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Big Salads!

vegan, big salads
Often, I actually prefer my salads to those I can get at restaurants. It's not because I make any kind of amazing dressings or extra-special ingredients. It's because I like "salads with lots of stuff in them!"

My ideas of the anti-salad: soggy salads (ie- salads so overdressed you might as well be sipping dressing), "the wedge" (really! Who had the awful idea of chopping a head of iceberg in half and slathering some creamy dressing all over it and calling that a salad?!), or even worse- those iceberg lettuce salads from steakhouses of the 80s with 3 wedges of boring tomatoes and a few thickly sliced cucumbers. Yawn. What a waste of a vegiportunity! I like my salads to SING with vegetables.

What I love about salads is they can be made QUICKLY. And, when done properly, they are healthy, filling, and delicious. Here are my tips for making a good salad:
  • Variety- Not just in the 'toppings' but in the lettuces. My favorite salads usually have at least 2 different kinds of lettuce (although a good kale or spinach salad doesn't have to- but if you're using something basic like romaine, or -God forbid- iceberg- definitely mix it up a bit. There are some good baby lettuce mixes you can buy pre-packaged, but make sure they are fresh). Adding some fresh herbs, like dill or basil, can also be a nice flavor addition.
  • Color- this is another way to test the above- if you have a colorful, beautiful salad, chances are you've got some good variety in there (as well as different nutrients you need!)
  • More veggies! I often like having chopped fresh steamed asparagus, zucchini or squash, sauteed mushrooms, beets, chic peas, jicama (for a nice crunch!), or sprouts in my salads.
  • Nuts, fruits, & seeds- (what my husband calls twigs & berries) -Adding some dried or fresh fruit, healthy nuts, or seeds can go a long way to spicing up your salad. My new favorite is pomegranate seeds, which also pack a high punch of antioxidants. Trader Joes has some really good dried fruit options. Here are some ideas: raisins, cranberries, apricots, chopped figs or dates; mandarin oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, apples, avocado; walnuts, almonds, cashews, or sunflower seeds.
  • Proteins(s) - Since I'm veggie, I like using beans, edamame, tofu, or tempeh. Adding some protein to your salad ensures it will keep you full, and takes it from a side to a meal. Items with healthy fats also go a long way towards keeping you full (like avocados and nuts), in addition to just making the salad really yummy!
  • Freshness- Using fresh ingredients should always be a rule of thumb! The only real exception to this is some frozen veggies *can* be acceptable in a salad - corn is often ok, or peas, and sometimes artichoke hearts.
  • Keep the dressing light! Don't drown your salads!!! Dressing shouldn't be the highlight of the salad, or the only thing you taste when you take a bite.
Some "Big Salad" meal ideas:
  • Mandarin oranges, fresh dill, avocado, green apple, atop baby greens with a light dressing
  • Middle-Eastern: hummus or chic peas, olives, feta, cannellini beans, sauteed zucchini, asparagus, atop fresh baby spinach with a balsamic dressing
  • "Salsa salad": Black beans, sour cream, shredded cheese, tomatoes, avocado, jicama, atop shredded mixed iceberg and romaine lettuces, with salsa as the dressing
  • Summer salad: strawberries, blueberries, edamame, sprouts, orange grape tomatoes, sunflower seeds, atop baby arugula with a citrus or honey-mustard dressing
The salad pictured above has avocado, tempeh, pomegranate seeds, carrots, tomatoes, snow peas, edamame, and baby arugula blend. I used Brianna's dijon honey mustard dressing, which is awesome!!

Speaking of salad dressing, I usually look for low-fat dressings that will complement my salads rather than over-power them. Some of my favorite store-bought dressings:
While I do like making my own salads, these places have some of my favorite salads in the Bay Area (which, I might add, is a pretty darn good area to be in if you're a vegetarian or vegan who loves big salads with fresh ingredients!):

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


vegan sushi, inarizushi
(aka Inarizushi)

Ok, I admit I didn't make these, but they are becoming one of my favorite lunch items! Never had or heard of inari? It's on the menus of many Japanese restaurants, or can often be found in the prepared sushi sections of grocery stores. Basically, inarizushi is a fried tofu/bean curd wrapper, stuffed with white sushi rice. It's simple but surprisingly good because the wrapper tastes slightly sweet since it's cooked in a sweet soy-sauce base. And it's still pretty healthy: only 2 grams of fat and about 130 calories per pouch, and each has 5 grams of protein. I like them because they are tasty, filling, but still light.

Check out this page for information about how to make your own inarizushi.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coo-Coo for Kale

Not too long ago I posted a kale salad I found while exploring some vegan blogs. Here it is again, featured on its own. I used the original kale salad recipe, along with some leftovers of Kathy from Health.Happy.Life's mushroom recipe from trio of bruschettas. The result is a really filling salad with a lot of flavor. The dressing (a miso sesame) has that Asian peanuty flavor, the kale is just the right amount of crisp, vine ripe tomatoes provide the color pop, and the truffle salt thyme mushrooms add that extra flavor that really complements the salad and dressing! I think this salad could also work with some tempeh added in.

vegan raw kale saladAfter loving this delicious raw kale salad, my eyes popped at this yummy version with beets, apples, and avocado from The Happy Go Lucky Vegan. So I had to make that too! I changed things up a bit by using golden beets (they are so pretty and have such a great flavor!) and pomegranate seeds instead. Whereas the first kale salad listed above has a rich creamy dressing and Asian flavor, this second kale salad has a really bright, light, citrusy flavor to it, which I loved. It works really well with the pomegranate seeds too! And I LOVE that avocado is the primary ingredient in the dressing.

vegan raw kale salad
Ingredients (for the beet version pictured directly above):
  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed, washed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (I used only 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp brown rice syrup (I subbed about 1/2 tsp agave syrup instead)
  • 5-6 small beets sliced (I used golden beets, and steamed them... but roasted beets would be great too!)
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (I used pomegranate seeds instead)
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, salt, and brown rice syrup in a large bowl. Add the chopped avocado.
  2. Add in the raw, cleaned and chopped kale and massage it with the dressing and avocado mix (ie, just take your hands and mush it all together for about 3 minutes or so! This helps break down the kale, and, admit it- it's kind of fun too).
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently. Add pepper to taste, and chill in the fridge prior to serving.
Notes: As mentioned by Gena, kale salads are great because you can make them a few hours in advance and take them to a picnic or dinner party later on and they won't wilt and get mushy. Actually, I even have it the next day and it still is nice and crunchy- no soppy salad leftovers with these kale salads! Plus, kale is a super green- it's got tons of fiber, vitamin A, C, K, and lots of other healthy nutrients, all while weighing in at a measly 33 calories per cup. Who wouldn't be coo coo for kale when it tastes so good in these salads?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Edamame Hummus

vegan edamame hummus sandwich
Recently my husband and I discovered Trader Joe's edamame hummus. In a word, yum. When he asked me to pick some up from the store, I sneakily said I would, but, flying high off of my recent triumph of making my own batch of hummus for the first time, I just got the ingredients instead. This is what I whipped up:

edamame hummus
I used the recipe base from Gena from Choosing Raw's high protein hemp hummus, and simply switched out the chic peas for about 2 cups of cooked shelled edamame. I also added a few other things (a little onion, a little olive oil, and some pepper).

  • 2-2.5 cups of cooked shelled edamame
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Water
  1. Add all ingredients but the water and oil and begin to process. (You may want to start with about 3/4 of the edamame and add the rest after breaking it down a bit).
  2. Add water and olive oil (stopping to scrape the bowl a few times) until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Garnish with some left over edamame beans and chill prior to serving.

For the sandwich above, I used multigrain spelt bread, a solid helping of the edamame hummus, and a nice big avocado slice. Yum!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mint Lime Summer Fruit Salad

tropical fruit salad
I saw this gorgeous salad on Finding Vegan the other day, and just had to try it. I have to admit, I actually don't like papaya all that much- I think it's kind of tasteless and doesn't have the best texture. BUT, this salad changed my impression.... mint, lime, and maple syrup to the rescue! (Ok, actually, I used agave syrup rather than the original recipe's maple syrup, but the taste is very similar). Here's my take:

Recipe adapted from The Family Kitchen's post.
Makes approximately 5-6 cups.


  • 1 medium papaya cubed (remove the skin & seeds)
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 sliced yellow peach
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 limes
  • 2-3 Tbsp fined chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Tbsp agave (or maple) syrup
  1. Chop all the fruit and the mint. Zest 1 or both limes.
  2. Place the papaya in a bowl and toss in the agave syrup. Juice the limes and add that to the papaya mix.
  3. Add the rest of the fruit, the mint, and most of the lime zest, and toss gently.
  4. Garnish with the rest of the zest!
Note: I also added mango to this salad, because I love it so much and I had one. It's a nice addition! I think you could easily switch out the papaya for mango, and omit the syrup altogether. But if you're using papaya, the syrup is a must. I changed the steps a bit to allow the syrup to mainly soak into the papaya.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wrapping: Hummus, toppings, and kale salad

I was so inspired by this summer vegan kale wrap that I found the recipe for on Friday that I had to make it immediately. I spent nearly half my day on Saturday gathering all the ingredients and making all of the items that went into it, but the result was the best wrap I've ever had; also the most expensive (when you count buying all the ingredients), time consuming wrap I've ever made. But worth it for all the new recipes I know now!

Here is the original recipe, (complete with videos!) from Gena at and Kathy at Healthy Happy Life.

I started with the hemp hummus for the wrap.

hemp hummus
It was my first ever batch of hummus!hemp hummusGood flavor & consistency. And not that hard or time consuming to make, either (once I figured out what tahini was, and where to find it and shelled hemp seeds). Here's the recipe (from Gena @ Choosing Raw):

High Protein Hemp Seed Hummus:
Makes 4-5 servings


  • 1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, or 2 cups freshly cooked (heat before blending for ideal consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tahini (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Water

  1. Place the hemp seeds in the bowl of a food processor and grind till powdery.
  2. Add the chickpeas, salt, lemon, garlic, tahini, and cumin, and begin to process. Add water in a thin stream (stopping to scrape the bowl a few times) until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Garnish with hemp seeds and serve.

Next came the trio of bruschetta toppings that go into the wrap (or, not surprisingly, onto bread to make bruscetta) (from Kathy @ Healthy Happy Life):

Avocado Jalapeno Lemon topping:

  • Mix 1 avocado cup into small cubes, 1 Tbsp diced jalapeno, 1 lemon juiced, lemon zest, and salt & pepper.
Balsamic Shiitake Mushroom topping:
  • Saute sliced shiitake mushrooms in olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Cool and add chopped fresh thyme, and a few pinches of truffle salt & pepper.
Mango Basil Lime topping:
  • Peel & cut 1 ripe mango into cubes. Add 2 Tbsp chopped basil, 1-2 limes juiced, and lime zest.
And then the kale salad and dressing (again from Gena):

Miso Sesame Dressing:

Makes nearly 2 cups. Half everything if you don't need that much- it is a pretty rich dressing.
  • 1/2 cup mellow white miso
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3-4 tbsp tamari
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp dry
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
Blend all ingredients together on high.

Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1 large vine ripe or beefsteak tomato
  • 1 large bell pepper (or if you're like me and don't like peppers, just omit it- still tastes great without it!)
  1. De-stem the kale by holding them stem and simply pulling the leaves off by sliding your other hand from the stem to the tip. (You want the leaves and not the hard stem part). Wash & chop the kale.
  2. Add about 1/3-1/2 cup of the miso dressing to the kale. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the salad- it will help break down the kale so it's a bit softer when you eat it.
  3. Add the tomatoes (and pepper if preferred) and serve.
Watch Gena's video for the de-stemming and 'massaging' techniques if you aren't sure!

Here are the finished products:

And finally, the wrap with everything in it!

vegan wrap
It was YUM.

Some tips:
-Don't forget to warm the wrap for a few seconds first before putting things in, so it doesn't crack when you wrap it.
-I made the mistake of buying small rather than extra large wraps. Go big instead: there's a lot to put in this filling, delicious, healthy wrap!
-Tamari is very similar to soy sauce, and tahini is similar to peanut butter (I'd never used either one so didn't know!)
-The ingredients are all just as good (if not better?) the next day!
-The miso dressing recipe makes a TON of dressing, so unless you're looking to store about 2 bottles worth, I'd halve it.
-Check out Gena and Kathy's blogs for more useful information.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Vegan Month

I've been wondering for a while just how difficult it really would be to go full-on vegan, so I thought I'd give it a shot for month. July is my vegan month! So far, so good- I'm just over a week in, and while it's definitely much more limiting than being vegetarian, I do appreciate taking a step back and really thinking about what I'm eating. Instead of grabbing a yogurt or some cheese & crackers for a snack, I'm eating raw veggies. Instead of ice cream for dessert, I'm having fresh fruit or mandarin oranges. It has been a little challenging one or two nights when we've been out, but I think I definitely don't have it so hard in the Bay Area of California, where almost everywhere you go has vegan and vegetarian options.

But I'm ready to start branching out a bit more from my usual salads and stir-frys, and have been searching for some vegan recipe sites. Here are some I've come across that seem like good ones:
There are so many! Click here for a complete list, compiled by Healthy Happy Life. And this site is also great for, well, finding vegan stuff:

Suddenly I'm inspired to make something!