Creating this vegan version of a meatloaf was definitely the highlight of my week.

I work on my cookbook a little every day and the Lentil Nomeat Loaf section was still on my  to do list. I had this vision of a meatless meatloaf in mind for a while – I knew I wanted to use the vegan meatiness of lentils. For added texture and thickness, I decided to combine them with kidney beans. I also added some chickpea flour to add to the consistency.

I added vegetables, like carrots and red bell pepper, both for flavor and colour. I thought celery and onion would go well in this mix so I threw them in there. Garlic of course – I hardly ever make a dish without my love, garlic.

I knew I needed something other than eggs to bind the mixture together, so instead of using my regular, trusty egg replacer, I experimented with soaked ground flaxseed. I had heard that this little concoction has great binding potential so I gave it a shot and was very happy with the outcome.

I am a big fan of pumpkin and sunflower seeds, which I use in my veggie pate. I like them for their taste, but also their crunch. I added some to the loaf and also sprinkled them on top of it for an eccentric look.

When I took it out of the oven, I gave it some time to cool before slicing. When I did try my first bite, I was so thrilled with the taste! I found it just perfect. I served it with a good old-fashioned creamy coleslaw, vegan-style of course. The combination of flavors was exquisite. I share both recipes below. Seriously, you gotta try this out for yourself!

Maria’s Lentil Nomeat Loaf

Ingredients:
Makes approximately 6 servings

1 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked
1 cup French lentils, cooked
5 tablespoons ground flaxseed
½ cup water
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
Small chunk of ginger
½ cup chickpea flour
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon Dijon
2 teaspoons tamari< Method: 1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 2. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed and water. Stir and set aside for 20 minutes. 3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and add garlic, onion and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes on low to medium heat. 4. Add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil to frying pan and add shredded carrots, pepper, and celery, with another pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 5 minutes. 5. Turn off heat. Add chopped parsley and spices. Stir in one cup of cooked lentils and one cup of cooked kidney beans. 6. Stir in seeds, chickpea flour and flaxseed. Add Dijon, tamari, black pepper and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. 7. Place mixture into food processor and blend briefly. Mixture should be chunky. 8. Taste test to see if you prefer more sea salt or spices. 9. Place parchment paper into rectangular casserole dish and pat down mixture. 10. Sprinkle grated ginger, carrots and a few sunflower and pumpkin seeds overtop. 11. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow a few minutes to cool before slicing.

Maria’s Classic Creamy Coleslaw, vegan-style

Ingredients:
Makes approximately 4 – 6 servings

1 small green cabbage, shredded
4 small carrots, peeled and shredded
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
Classic-style creamy coleslaw dressing
¾ cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

1. Combine shredded cabbage, carrots and onions in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine your choose of dressing ingredients. Whisk.
3. Pour vinaigrette over cabbage and serve.

“Only that in you which is me can hear what I’m saying.”
~Ram Dass

I’m into my second week of a juice cleanse – nothing but fresh juice and smoothies all day, without coffee! Yes, I actually successfully let go of my daily coffee as well, my final vice, goodbye!

Juice cleanses are not easy. I feel very raw, as a lot of emotions come to the surface for healing. I also feel hungry. So let me indulge you, and myself, by sharing with you my scrumptious vegan chocolate raspberry cake recipe. This cake is just heavenly, especially with a cup of freshly brewed coffee!

Make it and have a bite for me.

Maria’s Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup chilled brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Chocolate Raspberry Frosting
2 ounces (57 grams) unsweetened dark chocolate
1/4 cup fresh raspberries, mashed
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ (icing) sugar

Topping over frosting

1 cup fresh raspberries
½ cup non-dairy chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread coconut oil on baking dish to prevent sticking.
2. Sift flour, cacao, baking soda, salt and sugar. In another bowl, combine oil, coffee and vanilla. Pour liquid into dry, and mix until smooth.
3. Add vinegar and stir briefly; baking soda will begin to react with vinegar. Quickly pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow cake to cool slightly before adding frosting.
Chocolate Raspberry Frosting:
5. In heavy saucepan, melt chocolate over low to medium heat. Once fully melted, remove from heat and stir in mashed raspberries, water and vanilla. Stir in confectioners’ sugar. Spread frosting on cooled cake.
6. Top frosting with whole raspberries and sprinkle non-dairy chocolate chips over cake.

 

Cookery, the most selfless of arts because it’s the least enduring. A bite or two, a little gulp, and a beautiful work of thought and love is no more. ~Sybil Ryall

Check out my new Facebook page where I give a vegan recipe per day, and lots of health and nutrition tips.

Smoothies are fun and delicious. They’re a great way to boost your nutrition, whether it be by adding more greens to your diet (without even necessarily tasting them), experimenting with superfoods or adding protein after a work-out.

Is there a “right” way to make a smoothie or do you just throw a few things into a blender? I highly encourage free-styling and adding ingredients that suit your personal needs and goals, however, keeping a few basic steps and tips in mind is useful. Here is how I recommend building a smoothie. Get your blender ready!

1. Choose Fruits

There are really no rules about which fruits you can add to your smoothie, but aside from taste, you may want to consider factors like glycemic index if you have a particular health condition like diabetes or if you want to lose weight. Berries are lowest on the glycemic scale and suitable even for people trying to lose weight.

Organic is always best, if possible, when juicing and making smoothies. Fresh organic fruits are wonderful when they are in season, but frozen fruits are great any time of year. Their nutrition has been locked in by the freezing process. Frozen fruits will also add the “ice”, without actually adding ice, which may dilute the taste.

2. Choose greens

The next consideration is which greens to add to your smoothie. Adding more greens to your diet will alkalinize your body and promote good health.

Be mindful that some greens have a bold taste (like kale), whereas others are more mild (like bok choy or spinach). You can safely add more of the mild-tasting greens without noticing them.

You have the choice to add fresh greens or a scoopful of powdered greens. There are many wonderful green powders on the market.

If you are new to smoothies and juicing, the most important rule to keep in mind is: GO SLOW! Greens have lots of fiber which you may not be used to ingesting all at once. It is excellent for your health, but you have to slowly introduce changes in your diet. Add just half a scoopful of powdered greens to start with, or a handful of fresh greens, and then work your way up to more.

3. Choose liquid base

For a creamy, thick smoothie, usually 1 to 2 cups of liquid for every 3 cups of fruits/veggies is the recommended proportion, however this may vary depending on which fruits you are using. For example, bananas and mangoes will add thickness, whereas berries will be more fluid.

You can choose between these categories of liquids: nut milks, fresh juices, water or iced teas and coffees.

4. Thicken the texture

If you like your smoothies really full-bodied, you can thicken them by adding ice, nuts or nut butters (if you want to add healthy fats), non-dairy yogurts, coconut meat, or soaked chia seeds. You can experiment with any of these depending on what your dietary needs and goals are.

5. Increase flavour

Do you want a sweet tasting smoothie? The fruits you add may be enough sweetness for you, but if not there are easy cures. Healthy sweeteners, such as a few drops of stevia can do the trick. I like to add coconut water sometimes, rather than plain water, to sweeten things up slightly.

Are you craving a salty flavour for smoothies with greens, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, for example? Add a pinch of sea salt and boost up your trace minerals intake.

Spices or herbs are also useful for flavour, but also for nutritional purposes e.g. cinnamon will help regulate blood sugar, cilantro will help purify the blood.

6. Superfoods

Finally, depending on what your needs and goals are, you may want to add nutritional supplements to your smoothies. Added vegan protein after a work-out or for a meal replacement is beneficial for building and repairing muscle. Other ingredients you may want to consider to boost your nutrition are omega-3s, probiotics, or multivitamins.

There are also countless natural superfoods you can experiment with such as maca root, ashwagandha, moringa leaf, spirulina, chlorella, to name just a few. Do your research and case study your body to see how these make you feel. Again, just remember to introduce new things into your diet slowly.

There you have it: my six easy steps to building a tasty and nutritious smoothie to replace a meal or give you a boost in your day. Drink up! To your health and that of all Beings! Namaste!

I teach a Juicing and Smoothies workshop for Sociale. Join us at the next one!

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A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison. ~Francis Bacon

This recipe appeared in my mind like a flash. At the time I was looking at my mother so, naturally, I named the dish after her. I don’t really understand how this happened, but without trying to comprehend my spontaneous inspiration, I gathered the ingredients that were floating around in my mind and got to work.

I first put together the olive sauce. I removed the pits from 2 cups of kalamata olives, then blended all the ingredients in a food processor and taste-tested. Although I had rinsed the olives, they were still quite salty, so when I cooked the pasta, I didn’t add any salt to the water.

I heated some grapeseed oil, which is my preferred oil when cooking, and let the garlic turn golden, then added the kale for just a few minutes. I added the sun-dried tomatoes after that and turned off the heat. (I purchased sun-dried tomatoes without added salt or sulfites.)

The pasta I chose was a kamut and buckwheat noodle – absolutely delicious. Kamut and buckwheat are considered “gluten-free” by many since they have a more digestible form of gluten than whole wheat.

Once the pasta was cooked, I added it to the kale and sun-dried tomatoes. I topped each serving with some olive pesto.

Wow.

This is a seriously impressive dish to serve to your loved ones. I can see this pesto working as an appetizer on crackers or as a dip. I can also see it as a very thin layer of olive sauce on a vegan pizza with kale and sun-dried tomatoes.

Ahhh imagination is really boundless!

Kalamata Olive Pesto with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes

Ingredients:
Makes approximately 4-5 servings

Kalamata Pesto:
2 cups kalamata olives, rinsed and pitted
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili flakes
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup nutritional yeast

Pasta with kale and sundried tomatoes:
230 grams (8 oz) pasta of your choice
4 cups kale, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
½ cup unsalted, sulfite-free, sundried tomatoes, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt

Method:
1. To make the kalamata olive pesto, blend the olives, 1 garlic, olive oil, chili flakes, parsley and nutritional yeast in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. Set aside
2. In a large pot, heat grapeseed oil and minced garlic for 2 minutes on medium heat.
3. Add chopped kale and sea salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Mix in sundried tomatoes and turn off heat.
5. Cook pasta according to instructions on the box and drain.
6. Add pasta to the pot with kale and sundried tomatoes. Stir. Place into serving plates or bowls. Scoop up desired amount of olive pesto and place on top of the pasta. Serve immediately.

Food is the form of the soul, the Atman, for life consists of food. ~Maitri Upanishad

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If we can make delicious dishes without eggs, why are we still using tons of them? Do people really have no clue as to the horrors that chickens go through in this industry? I choose to believe that people just don’t know, and that when they find out, they will care enough to change, despite how scary and inconvenient change can be.

I gave you a delicious eggless omelette recipe a while ago. Not only is it through-the-roof delicious, but everyone that has tried it told me that it is better than its egg counterpart. This week, I want to give you my tofu scramble recipe.

DSC02911

Tofu Scramble

Ingredients:

1 package firm tofu

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil

5 green onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)

Handful of baby spinach, chopped

½ teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon turmeric

½ cup black beans, cooked and drained

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 teaspoons sea salt, or more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the tofu slab into thick slices and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess liquid. Cover tofu with more paper towels. Use a plate as a compress.  Let the tofu sit for about 20 minutes.
  2. Using your fingers or a fork, crumble tofu.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, peppers, a dash of sea salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in tofu, more sea salt and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add beans, spinach and turmeric. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped cilantro. Add black pepper to taste, and more sea salt if desired.
  7. Serve with cherry tomatoes, avocado, salsa, tortillas or toast if desired.

See … we can make everything without eggs! All the cake and other dessert recipes that I have shared with you so far have also been completely egg-free! So, seriously, I ask you: why do we still participate in this cruel industry when we can so easily do without?

I invite you, as Dr. Will Tuttle does in his brilliant book, The World Peace Diet, to consider the life of a factory farmed chicken:

The tens of thousands of chickens crammed into one egg production shed have nowhere to move and no way to nest, establish social order, or in any way express their natural intelligence or purpose. The artificial lighting schedule that keeps them in almost continuous darkness, and the feed and drugs are all designed with only one goal: to cut costs and to maximize the number of eggs that drop from the hens’ uteruses and roll down the slanted wire cage bottoms to be whisked away on the conveyor belt. On modern chicken operations, this is over 250 eggs per year, more than two and a half times the number hens would normally lay under natural conditions.

In nature, a hen is particular about her nest and often chooses the right place to lay her precious egg in partnership with a rooster. When she actually lays the egg in her carefully prepared nest, it is obviously for the hen a moment full of pride and satisfaction. Contrast this with the following description of egg laying for a caged chicken:

 The frightened battery hen starts to panic as she vainly searches for privacy and a suitable nesting place in the crowded but bare wire cage; then she appears to become oblivious to her surroundings, struggling against the cage as though she is trying to escape…

Take a moment to imagine yourself as a layer chicken; your home is a crowded cage with a wire floor that causes your feet to hurt and become deformed; there’s no room to stretch your legs or flap your wings and they become weak from lack of exercise; but at the same time you can never be still because there is always one of your miserable cell mates who needs to move about; one of the other chickens is always picking on you and you cannot get away – except by letting others sit on top of you; the air is filled with dust and flying feathers that stick to the side of the cage splattered with chicken shit from the inmates in the cage upstairs; it is hard to breathe – there is the choking stench of ammonia in the air from the piles of manure under the cages and you don’t feel well at all; the flies are unbearable despite the insecticide sprayed in the air and laced in your food – to kill the fly larvae before they mature; the food – never green and fresh – never varies and tastes always of the chemical additives and drugs needed to keep you alive; eventually, despite your wretchedness and anguish, and the tormented din of thousands of birds shrieking their pain together, you lay an egg and you watch it roll out of sight; but the joy of making a nest, of giving birth, of clucking to your chicks is absent – laying the egg is an empty, frustrating, and exhausting ritual.

~Dr. Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet, pp. 127-8.

Surely, this is not right, on any level. Let’s make a change, shall we? I show you how, one recipe at a time, every week.

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I cooked for an SPCA and Mercy for Animals fundraiser this past weekend. I made lots of vegan food to entice people to choose more compassionate meals by leaving out all animal ingredients. I made many delicious recipes that I’ve already shared with you: lasagna rolls, cilantro salad, and quinoa salad. In addition, I made a few recipes I have yet to share, like a scrumptious chocolate raspberry cake, classic Italian potato salad and today’s recipe: strawberry vanilla cupcakes. I learned this recipe from Ann Gentry and modified it slightly from her recipe book, Vegan Family Meals.

These strawberry vanilla cupcakes were a huge hit at the fundraiser! They are very sweet: a perfect occasional treat.

I tried to make a gluten-free version by using brown rice flour, but it was a colossal fail. I have not been experiencing much success with the rice flour lately. My creations come out too dry and hard. Unfortunately, that batch was not even edible, and ended up in the trash. I decided to give in and use the white flour, even though it is not the healthiest option. For occasional indulgence, it does the trick!

Try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Vanilla Strawberry Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 ½ cups cane sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup grapeseed oil
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
5 strawberries

Frosting:

1 cup vegan butter
2 cups icing sugar
2 strawberries, mashed well with a fork
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 12 muffin cups or 24 minimuffin cups with parchment paper liners.
2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Mix the almond milk and cider vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. The milk will thicken slightly.
4. Mix in the oil, vanilla and almond extract.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until blended.
6. Spoon into muffin cups.
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
8. Let muffins cool before applying frosting.
9. For the frosting, combine all frosting ingredients in a bowl and use a handheld mixer to beat mixture until smooth and creamy.
10. Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to apply frosting on the cupcakes.
11. Refrigerate cupcakes for one hour. Apply a piece of strawberry on each cupcake if desired.

As we become purer channels for God’s light, we develop an appetite for the sweetness that is possible in this world. A miracle worker is not geared toward fighting the world that is, but toward creating the world that could be. ~Marianne Williamson

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“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all” ~Harriet van Horne

Before I decided to write a cookbook, I never worked with recipes. I just let inspiration and intuition guide me in the kitchen. It was a real challenge to start writing recipes down as I created. Measuring the amounts of ingredients, explaining things step by step in a comprehensive and easy way, distinguishing between subtle differences, like sea salt versus table for example – it’s a lot of work. It’s been about a year and half that I have been putting my cookbook together and I’m getting really excited to share it with all of you very soon!

Cookbook, or no cookbook, this week, I want to talk to you about free-styling it in the kitchen. Don’t get overly dependent on recipes. If you do, you will become paranoid and possibly paralyzed when you don’t have one. Recipes, in my opinion, are meant as guidelines and sources of inspiration, not indelible laws set in stone. Cookbooks should be just that: inspirational. And they are! With those beautiful, colorful photos and a large variety of meal ideas, you can’t help but get excited about cooking. Is there anything that is more fun?

Also, cookbooks are very helpful when you are learning new ways of cooking: such as vegan. Most of us were not born vegan, and since we all live in a culture of carnism, vegan cooking is something completely new for most of us. This is where a good vegan cookbook comes in handy and I hope mine will be of service to all of you. My goal is to invite you into the bliss of vegan cooking. Stay tuned!

This week, I had a couple of things in my fridge that I had to do something with quickly or they would go bad. I avoid wasting food as much as possible so I am really aware of what needs to be consumed quickly and what can wait. Fresh vegetables have a deadline. I had used some of my mushrooms and kale for other dishes, but had more. Oh what to do?! I decided on a quick quinoa dish. I love quinoa so much, as you all know!

This is how you freestyle: decide on what flavors you want to create and start assembling. For mushrooms, I usually opt for garlic and sea salt, and sometimes when I want a real “meaty” experience, I add steak spice and fennel seeds. This time, I kept things really basic. I heated a little grapeseed oil (perfect for stovetop cooking since it doesn’t denature at high temperatures), added the garlic and then threw in the mushrooms. I sprinkled a little sea salt to make them sweat, and swirled that around for a couple of minutes. Then I threw in my chopped kale. In another pot, I had toasted a cup of quinoa (that means just adding quinoa to a pot and letting it get slightly golden before adding water). I then added a cup and a half of water and let it simmer, covered for about 10-15 minutes, until all the water was absorbed. Easy peasy! Once the veggies were tender, I mixed them into the quinoa, which was completely naked at that point: no sea salt or any seasoning just yet. I taste tested to see what I needed. In fact, a little more salt was required. Lastly, I chopped fresh parsley and green onion for garnish. I also topped it up with some red chili flakes for a little kick.

Oh my yum! No recipe required, just a hungry imagination!

Enjoy the experience of creating in your kitchen. Put some tunes on, turn off your phone and put all your attention and focus into what you are doing. Cooking with presence and all your senses is truly cooking with love! You will notice a significant impact on the meals you create, since energetically, they will absorb your full attention and dedication.

“Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.” ~ Julia Child

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It’s been so dreadfully cold lately, warm soup is really the only thing I want to eat. I can warm myself with a hearty soup, but I cannot help but think about those who cannot keep warm. Those souls living on the street, those souls in dark, damp factory farms, those souls on frozen trucks to slaughter: can’t seem to get them out of my mind lately.

I think there is something really off with us if we can sit back and deny what is really going on. I made this beyond delicious split pea soup this week, and was horrified to find out non-vegans typically use ham as an ingredient. This soup was so delicious without ham, and so full of protein, iron and vitamins vegan-style, why would anyone want to add ham? When we could simulate the same flavours and textures we all know and love, without the horrific suffering that including animal products necessitates, why don’t we do it?

How many of us have contemplated the face behind the ham? Ham is a euphemism, just like the word veal or venison, for example. A ham is a pig. A pig is a highly intelligent, friendly, playful, social being. A pig loves hugs and playing with her friends, just like you and I. How can we make it OK in our mind to confine these beautiful creatures and make them endure a horrible short existence of suffering before they are shipped off in the freezing cold (or unbearable heat) to a slaughterhouse that knows no mercy?

How have we strayed so far away from the most basic form of decency towards other beings? How has our compassion been so completely numbed?

Did you know that animals arrive to the slaughterhouse with frostbite and hypothermia? Sometimes their tongues are frozen to the truck because they were so thirsty they tried to lick the moisture from condensation inside of the truck and remained stuck. Some animals are transported long distances for days, with no food or water, no temperature regulation, only to be treated with further extreme inhumanity once they arrive to their dungeon of death. Their lives of suffering are so horrible, so far worse than your worst nightmare, that perhaps the slaughterhouse is their only relief.

This is not right my friends. We must wake up, reconnect and become fully human. Reconnecting to complete compassion for all beings is spiritual maturity, spiritual evolution.

Enjoy my vegan Split Pea Soup and let the pigs live free.

Ingredients:

Makes 8 – 10 servings

4 cups dry yellow split-peas

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 cups of kale, chopped

8-10 cups of water

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil

½ teaspoon chili flakes

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon cayenne

3 teaspoons sea salt (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)

Black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Sauté for 5 minutes while stirring.
  2. Stir in carrots, celery, kale and chili flakes and sauté another 5 minutes.
  3. Add split-peas. Sauté 2 minutes.
  4. Add water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 50 minutes to one hour. Once the soup looks thick and puree-like, it is cooked.
  5. Add all remaining spices and liquid smoke (optional).
  6. Turn heat off and discard bay leaf. Add more sea salt if desired. Serve warm.

“Eating meat destroys the attitude of great compassion.” ~The Buddha, The Mahaparinirvana-sutra

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This week, let’s talk about milk. Have you ever stopped to think about the logic behind the consumption of dairy? Maybe not. Most of us grew up on it. We are taught that milk is good for us – we need the calcium in milk for strong bones and teeth. We are inundated with ads about how “milk does a body good”.

In reality, this is far from the truth. Milk is just another product, with a multi-million dollar yearly advertising campaign.

Many different professionals in the alternative medicine domain can readily point out the research indicating how dairy increases mucus in the body, how it contributes to acidity and actually leeches calcium from our bones, how it is linked to cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. Neither does milk help us avoid illnesses such as osteoporosis. The incidence of osteoporosis and cancer is highest in parts of the world where dairy is a daily staple.

We can get all the calcium we need from plant sources. Greens such as collard, broccoli and spinach, sesame seeds, cauliflower, nuts, sea vegetables, and even in fruits like honeydew melon – are all full of calcium, minus the pus and blood in all dairy!

Alicia Silverstone, in her informative book, The Kind Diet, presents us with this helpful chart:

Calcium chart Kind Diet

The cruelty involved in the production of dairy milk is shocking. Many of us haven’t made the connection simply because the facts, as opposed to the mesmerizing advertising, are kept from us.

Did you know that in order for a cow to produce milk, like us humans, she must be pregnant. In order words, a dairy cow must be kept pregnant all the time so that she produces milk, not for her baby, but for us, because her milk is stolen from her and never given to her calf.

When she gives birth to her baby, her calf is ripped away from her within the first few hours of birth, never allowed to suckle from his mother because his mother’s milk is being harvested by machine for us. The mother cow goes through unbearable grief, sometimes crying out for days after her baby is taken away.

The baby is thrown into a small wagon, because he cannot yet stand, and confined to a tiny, damp, dark crate, alone, where he is fed an artificial, mineral deficient, milk substitute so that he can grow quickly. The purposeful mineral deficiency creates the pale colored meat that is so fancied. He is chained by the neck and never allowed to move, thereby not developing any muscle mass, so that you can enjoy tender veal. To make sure he doesn’t move, he is even stomped upon. Can you imagine!? The horror!! He is a defenseless baby! This is the fate of most male calves, others being sold at auctions within hours of birth so they can be grounded up as beef. The female calves are similarly raised in isolation, and later used to replace their dairy cow mothers, which are slaughtered at 4 or 5 years of age, because they are completely exhausted and diseased; a cow’s natural lifespan would have been 25 years. Sadly, some calves are never even born at all, their mothers murdered while pregnant, and their calves simply thrown into bins and left to die slowly or skinned for “the softest leather in the world”.

This is the truth about dairy milk, and the helpless by-product of the dairy industry: veal. Let’s make the connection: veal is a calf and a calf is just a baby! Veal exists as a by-product of the dairy industry!

Is this cruelty worth it when we have so many other options?

There are various delicious nut milks on the market today. Let’s look at a few options:

Soy milk or soy creamers – a good option for people who like milk in their coffee because it has a rich texture and blends uniformly without clumping. However, due to the fact that soy milk is highly processed and most often soybeans are genetically modified, I believe consumption of this milk should be limited.

Almond milk – a less processed milk, with a subtle nutty taste, lovely for cereals and granola. Full of protein and vitamin E, almond milk is a highly nutritious and satisfying choice. This milk is also easily made at home – as we will do today!

Hemp milk – has more of a pronounced nutty flavour so you will have to try it to see how your taste buds react. Hemp milk is an excellent source of perfectly balanced omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Coconut milk – my personal favorite due to the amazing health benefits of the delicious coconut and its lovely taste in many dishes. However, again, you have to like the taste of coconut, so experiment and see how you feel!

Rice milk – this option has less protein than other non-dairy milks, but works well in desserts due to its sweet taste.

Making your own nut milk, as we will do today, is easy, fun and delicious! Today I am sharing with you my recipe for delicious almond milk. This is a versatile recipe which you can adapt to any nut you like. You can serve it plain, sweetened with a few dates or as a vanilla-flavoured milk. Try it! If you are not sure you can master this recipe all on your own, I invite you to look for the many short videos on YouTube, where you will be shown step by step how to put this recipe together.

homemade-almond-milk

Almond Milk

Ingredients:
2 cups almonds, soaked overnight and drained
5 cups purified water
4 dates, pitted (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Method:

1. Combine almonds and water in a high powered blender and blend until liquefied.
2. Add pitted dates and/or vanilla extract if desired. Blend.
3. Pour liquid through cheese cloth or nut milk bag and squeeze into a large bowl.
4. The almond pulp remaining in the cloth or bag can be used for other recipes.

Enjoy, in joy and in health! Salud!

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“Female animals raised for food are pushed into unnaturally early pregnancies by administration of hormones, especially in egg, dairy, and pig operations, because it is cheaper than having to feed them until they naturally reach sexual maturity. They are only youngsters when they are forcibly impregnated on factory farms. This practice supplies an unnatural dose of estrogen and other hormones in the cheese, milk, and other dairy products eaten by our children-pushing them especially girls, into unnaturally early sexual development and pregnancy.” ~Dr. Will Tuttle, World Peace Diet

I’ve been thinking of recipes that keep us warm and satisfied, because we so need them at this time of year. This week, I thought I’d share with you my vegan chili recipe.

As I have stated in the past, when you can get organic ingredients, do so. This recipe calls for 2 organic “must haves”: corn and tofu. Soy and corn are heavily genetically modified crops so whenever using them in a recipe, it’s a good idea to use organic.

I like to use kidney beans for this recipe, but some people have a preference for another variety, or a combination of beans is also delicious in a chili. For optimal nutrition, I recommend buying the dried beans and soaking them overnight before cooking them. Do you remember the trick I taught you for eliminating the gas-producing effects of beans and chickpeas? Soak and cook them with a bay leaf and a piece of Kombu. If you only have the bay leaf, that will work too. Also, remember to skim the foam and discard it when you are cooking them.

I kept this recipe very mild in terms of spiciness level, but if you do enjoy it spicy, add more chili flakes, or cayenne pepper, whatever you prefer. You can even purchase a hot pepper of your choice and chop it in there with the bell pepper. I love to do that because I love it hot hot hot! So have fun with this spicy, hearty dish!

Enjoy, in joy and in health and please keep warm!

 

Amore’s Chili Sin Carne

Ingredients:

1 cup kidney beans, cooked, or any beans of your choice

1 cup organic firm tofu

1 cup organic frozen corn, cooked

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 large white onion, chopped

1 sweet potato, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tomato, chopped

½ cup tomato paste or strained tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon red chili flakes

¼ teaspoon cayenne

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice from ½ a lime

 

Method:

  1. After rinsing it, slice your slab of tofu into thick pieces and pat dry with paper towels. You can leave the pieces of tofu on paper towels for 15-30 minutes to absorb excess moisture.
  2. Crumble tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Add olive oil, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, cumin, chili, oregano and cayenne. Mix well. Set aside and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes minimum. If you have time to marinate for longer, you can place it in the fridge to marinate.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil and add onion and tomato. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add sweet potato and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaf from marinated tofu and discard. Add tofu and tomato paste to the pan with the vegetables and sauté for 10 minutes. Stir in cooked beans and corn. Continue to cook for 1 more minute. Add spinach and stir. If all the vegetables are soft, turn off heat.
  5. Taste test to see if you desire more sea salt or spices. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a splash of lime juice if desired. Serve warm.

 

Growing plants and gardening is more feminine work; plants are tended and nurtured, and as we work with the cycles of nature, we are part of a process that enhances and amplifies life. It is life-affirming and humble (from humus, earth) work that supports our place in the web of life. On the other hand, large animal agriculture or husbandry was always men’s work and required violent force from the beginning, to contain powerful animals, control them, guard them, castrate them, and in the end, kill them. ~Dr. Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet

 

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Nothing warms us up like a delicious bowl of homemade soup in the winter. I ended up inventing this vegan tomato bisque completely by accident. Let me tell you what happened.

At one of the grocery stores in my neighbourhood, they give you a free product if you spend over a certain amount on your grocery bill. A couple of weeks ago, that free product was a jar of tomato juice.

I don’t usually purchase juices since they tend to be pasteurized (i.e. all live nutrition killed by high heat). As you all know, I enjoy the health and bliss-inducing benefits of juicing my own vegetables and fruits. However, I also avoid wasting anything, rarely do I throw food away and who refuses a free product anyway? I looked at the jar and immediately uttered the words …  “tomato bisque”.

OK, sure, but what is a tomato bisque anyway?

I had heard of a lobster bisque in the past but I don’t eat lobsters since I don’t eat animals.

Let’s talk about lobsters for a minute. Did you know that they can live up to 100 years old? They are highly sophisticated creatures, having evolved throughout centuries since the time of the dinosaurs, like sharks! They have complex social structures, and they mate for life! Ahhh, how could we not love them! Contrary to what some choose to believe, they suffer tremendously in those horrendous tanks at the grocery stores because they cannot stand to be in water containing their own excrement. Their claws are cruelly bound and they are inhumanely crammed. Once thrown into boiling water, again contrary to what some choose to tell themselves, the intensity of their physical pain is said to possibly be higher than our own since their nervous system does not permit them to “pass out” when the pain reaches a certain threshold, like our nervous system does. Lobsters do not have a nervous system and brain set up like humans do, however studies show that they are capable of feeling pain and releasing stress hormones just like us. With this knowledge, how can we continue to victimize and torture them?

I knew no animal remains would be necessary to create a tasty bisque. I decided I would use solely the tomato juice, and I would sweeten up the tomato juice with peas. I also knew this soup would be totally irresistible with a topping of homemade croutons, totally optional of course!

Cozy up with my vegan Tomato Bisque! Enjoy, in joy and in health!

 

Ingredients:

3 cups tomato juice

1 cup unsweetened organic soy milk OR rice milk

1 cup peas, cooked and drained

1 medium white onion, chopped

2 small russet potatoes OR 5 mini russet potatoes, chopped

2 medium tomatoes OR 5 cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Garnish with homemade croutons. Chopped cilantro OR parsley and green onion, may be added to the garnish if desired.

 

Method:

  1. In a pot, heat oil. Add onion, dash of sea salt and sauté for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, dash of sea salt and sauté for 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and peas and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in tomato juice and soy milk and lower heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Pour into blender. Add nutritional yeast and blend until completely liquefied and creamy.
  5. Add more salt if desired. Garnish with homemade croutons (recipe follows).  Add chopped green onion, cilantro or parsley to garnish if desired.

 

Homemade Croutons

 Ingredients:

3 slices of bread, cubed

1 garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon oregano

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Cut 3 slices of bread into small cubes.
  3. Place bread cubes in a large casserole.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and oregano. Drizzle over bread.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt over bread.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is hard and crispy.

 

I have a wonderful new Facebook page where I give a recipe every day and share information on plant-based meals. Check me out! You can also follow me on Twitter.

“We know, deep down, that we cannot look deeply anywhere, for if we do, we will have to look deeply into the enormous suffering our food choices directly cause. So we learn to stay shallow and be willingly blind to the connections we see. Otherwise, our remorse and guilt would be too painful to bear. The acknowledged truth would also conflict too strongly with our self-image, causing serious cognitive dissonance and emotional disturbance. We choose to ignore, and thus choose to be ignorant and inattentive.” ~Dr. Will Tuttle

As many of you have written to me requesting support and assistance with adopting a vegan lifestyle, I feel it very helpful and inspirational to share with you the story of a new vegan, Louise Guay.

In pain, sick and overweight, Louise decided 6 short months ago that she had to do something to improve her health. After days of dedicated and thorough research, she became convinced that transitioning into a fully vegan diet would be beneficial to her. Here’s her story:

1. What made you decide to change your diet and why did you opt for a vegan diet?

I was in a lot of pain and not feeling well. My mobility was reduced because of all the physical pain I was experiencing. My osteopath saw a lot of inflammation in my body and she suggested I try eliminating certain foods from my diet to see if the inflammation would decrease.

I came across the book by Jacqueline Lagace, “Comment j’ai vaincu la douleur et l’inflammation chronique par l’alimentation and also noticed a lot of your posts regarding veganism on Facebook. I learned that a vegan diet could possibly help me overcome my inflammation and feel better.

2. What was your biggest challenge to getting started?

It wasn’t really that hard. I was so miserable and in so much pain that it just had to be done. I contacted you for advice and spent 3 or 4 days reading all day. I bought several books and started learning as much as I could. I began to clear out my pantry and fridge. At first, I held on to fish, eggs and some dairy, but over the next several weeks, I began to let these things go one by one. I weaned myself off certain things more slowly than others. It’s not only about animal products for me, but also heavily processed  and industrialized foods, GMOs, that needed to go as well. It was about replacing all of this processed foodstuff, for fresh, real food.

3. What has been your biggest challenge in maintaining this new lifestyle?

My biggest challenge is remaining patient. I find it difficult at times to remain patient with other people’s misconceptions and their need to share their opinions on what they deem proper nutrition with me. They all seem to present the same arguments: what about the carrots suffering when you chop them? Where do you get your protein?

They speak to me as if I am dumb, and that’s very hurtful. They have no training in nutrition, whereas I spent several days educating myself, and continue to learn more every day, and yet they feel the need to teach me about the importance of protein.

In many ways, I do not understand people’s reactions towards what I am eating and why it is so important to them.  I am overweight and instead of people praising me for my obviously healthy meals now, they feel the need to criticize my choices. It seems like my choice not to eat meat is such a huge issue.

Some people say I am extreme. I say, yes I am; I am extremely happy.

I think about you a lot and how patient you were with me when I started changing my diet. I tell myself that I must be more and more compassionate with people, if I want to preach compassion towards animals. I’m growing into that. It’s a whole process, a whole evolution.

 4. What are some of the results and benefits of adopting a vegan diet?

So many benefits and it’s only been 6 months!  Where do I start? I feel a perpetual sense of peace, serenity, joy even. My mood is more stable and I wake up happy. This is new to me. I used to be full of anxiety.

I need less sleep, but my sleep is more restful. The quality of my sleep has improved.

I had a digestive system that really wasn’t working. It wasn’t effective, nor regular. All my digestive issues are gone. No more acid reflux, bloating, constipation. All of it is completely gone.  I never had such digestive efficiency.

I lost 10 pounds so far!

I now have a lot more mobility, without pain. My osteopath, whom I have been seeing for over 15 years, says she has never seen my body in this good shape.

My skin and eyes are clearer, my senses are heightened and I have a lot more energy and stamina. I feel like I have a bounce in my step!

5.  Any regrets?

 My only regret is not having done this sooner.

6.  What’s your advice to someone considering adopting a vegan diet?

Go at your own pace. Do lots of research. Let go of things one at a time if you feel more comfortable with that. Try some dairy alternatives, like almond milk or yogurt. You may find you like these more than the dairy anyway! Try recipes without cheese.

One thing is certain, however, you will have to learn how to cook if you want to eat less processed foods. Cooking is fun, so give it a try! Cook for yourself like you would for a loved one and be that loved one. Invite yourself to your own table and serve yourself a kind meal.

Eating should be nourishment, the way a mother nourishes a child. We must be our own mothers. A lot of eating is self-abuse. In adopting a vegan diet, I became friends with my body. Now eating is a pleasure because I want the best for my friend. My body has been singing Alleluia for the past 6 months!

 

Louise’s favorite organic vegan recipe she created while experimenting in the kitchen:

Mushroom Chickpea Stew

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

4 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 cup of chickpeas, cooked

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon olive oil

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Sea salt to taste

Method:

  1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil.
  2. Add onion and cook until transparent.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook until slightly soft. Don’t overcook.
  4. Add chickpeas and boiled water to cover.
  5. Lower heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Drizzle olive oil and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish.

 

“Cook for yourself like you would for a loved one and be that loved one. Invite yourself to your own table and serve yourself a kind meal.” ~Louise Guay

 

I know some of you may be feeling a couple of pounds heavier right now after the holiday season. Don’t stress it too much, most of us are in the same boat. If you’ve made a resolution to lose those extra pounds this year, get healthier and move your body, power to you! You can do anything you decide to do! However, keep in mind that a shift for the better need not be drastic and may be more sustainable if approached slowly. You can get healthier by making a few minor changes to start, and take it from there, depending on how you feel.

How about trying a short detox? There are many resources out there to help get you started.

My favorite and the most effective way for me to feel lighter, more energized and detoxed, is juicing. Whether you do it for one day, one weekend or a week (or more!) the benefits of juicing are multiple and profound!

juicing FTB2

Juice fasting, or juice feasting as some like to call it, is essentially taking a break from solid food and only drinking juice and water for a period of time. This allows the organs of the body to rest while the body uses fuel from our fatty tissues. Juicing is a powerful detox method which allows the body to flush out all the impurities we store in the fat cells. We are exposed to toxins every day, whether they be environmental, from chemicals added to our foods, or even our emotions can be toxic to our well-being. Juicing is one method for clearing out all these toxins and thus healing the body.

You can certainly buy a juicing program or find useful links on the Internet, but you can also free-style by keeping a few of these tips in mind:

1) For a base, always use apples or pineapples. This will add a pleasant flavour to build upon.

2) If you are diabetic or concerned about your glycemic index, it is important to juice lower glycemic fruits and veggies. Generally, vegetables that grow underground, like a beet or carrot will contain more sugar than the ones which grow above ground, like celery or cucumber.  With respect to fruits, berries, apples and citrus are lower on the glycemic scale. Juicing greens and apples are great, and then pouring this juice, with added berries in a blender will give you a satisfying smoothie, without blowing your glycemic index through the roof.

3) When juicing greens, depending on which juicer you have, it may be more difficult to extract all those precious drops of nutrition, so bunch up the leaves and include them in the middle of something more “juicy” like chunks of apple.

4) Juice little bunches of greens at a time and test the flavour to make sure it is palatable to you. You can add a little coconut water to sweeten the taste of a juice if you find it too bitter.

5) Drink the juice slowly since you are getting massive doses of nutrients. You don’t want to overwhelm your system.

6) Organic is more important than ever when juicing. When we juice, we usually consume much larger quantities of fruits and veggies than when we just eat a serving of each, like one apple and a cup of broccoli. Therefore, not only are we getting a larger quantity of minerals and vitamins, but also a high dose of pesticides and chemicals, if the produce is not organic.

7) When juicing oranges and grapefruits, make sure to peel them first. The peels will make the juice too bitter. However, lemons and limes work both with peel on or off.

8) Add ginger always, but just a small chunk, or else that is all you will taste. Ginger is a magical superfood with so many beneficial properties.

9) I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how messy a juicer is, however, it is no messier than cleaning up pots and pans after cooking. Use a small, hard brush to help you and rinse the juicer right away before anything has time to dry up and harden, making it much harder to clean.

10) As we remove the pacifying, numbing and comforting effects of food, and replace that with juice and water, be prepared for all kinds of emotions to come up! This is a catharsis! Keep in mind: to feel is to heal. When we supress emotions or cover them up with food, we can never really face them and overcome them. This is a positive and exciting journey! Be ready!

juicinggreenftb

You can also check out the Juice Master, Jason Vale, for more helpful hints.

With these general guidelines, you’re ready to go! Just juice it! All the very best in health and in bliss for this exciting new year!

If life gives you lemons, make some kind of fruity juice. ~Conan O’Brien

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Still looking for some yummy, healthy snack ideas to please your guests this holiday season or to snuggle up with for a movie night with your loved ones? I have just that: a recipe for irresistible kale chips!

I have to confess: I have a terrible weakness for potato chips! I try as hard as I can to stay away – we all know how unhealthy they are – but, I do cave at times! My love for chips urged me to find a healthier alternative, so I created a recipe for kale chips.

Kale chips are often made by dehydrating the kale in a dehydrator. I actually do not yet own a dehydrator. Dehydrating the kale instead of baking it allows the kale to retain even more of its powerhouse nutrition. If you don’t have one, baking these chips in the oven is still far healthier than buying a bag of potato chips.

You will be pleasantly surprised by this savoury, crispy treat. Finally, we can indulge in chips, without the guilt!

This recipe is also very versatile in that you can just eat the kale raw with this as a dressing. I discovered this by accident of course, when experimenting with the recipe, I tasted a piece of kale before putting it in the oven and oh my: YUM!

So, as a raw treat, dehydrated, or oven-baked: here is my Crazy Crispy Kale Chips recipe, completely gluten-free, and vegan!

 

Enjoy, in joy and in health!

 

Crazy Crispy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

Bunch of curly kale, washed, patted dry, spine removed

1 clove of garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari

2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven at 300˚F.
  2. Whisk all ingredients together, except kale, in a large bowl to form the dressing.
  3. With your hands or knife, cut away the spine from each kale leaf and discard (or freeze them to make broth at a later time). Cut the leaves into large chip-sized pieces. Make sure kale is thoroughly dry.
  4. Place all the pieces of kale in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the kale and with your fingers, rub each piece of kale with the dressing to make sure the pieces are coated evenly.
  5. Cover large baking sheet with parchment paper and line up the pieces of kale in a single layer.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. Turn pieces of kale over after 10 minutes.

 

Swami Prabhupada: Some people say, “We believe that animals have no soul.” That is not correct. They believe animals have no soul because they want to eat the animals, but actually animals do have a soul. 
Reporter: How do you know that the animal has a soul?
Swami Prabhupada: You can know, also. Here is the scientific proof. The animal is eating, you are eating; the animal is sleeping, you are sleeping; the animal is defending, you are defending; the animal is having sex, you are having sex; the animals have children, you have children; you have a living place, they have a living place. If the animal’s body is cut, there is blood; if your body is cut, there is blood. So all these similarities are there. Now why do you deny this one similarity, the presence of a soul? That is not logical. You have studied logic? In logic, there is something called analogy. Analogy means drawing a conclusion by finding many points of similarity. If there are so many points of similarity
between human beings and animals, why deny one similarity? That is not logic. That is not science.

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It’s really hard not to salivate when thinking of lasagna.

Lasagna is a typical main dish for any Italian Christmas lunch, and quite typically, scrumptious, but not so typically, vegan. I will not participate in any religion or religious holiday that harms animals, so, I created a vegan lasagna. Since deciding to go vegan almost 4 years ago, Christmas lunch at my grandmother’s house has never been the same.

I’m thrilled to share this recipe with you this week. It is so delicious and in my opinion, nothing short of revolutionary! I achieved the rich, creamy flavours we love in an authentic lasagna, without any dairy whatsoever. Ricotta, a common and highly coveted ingredient in lasagna is included here in its cruelty-free version: tofu-based. The creaminess is enhanced by my creative and kind kidney bean cream. Oh, and let’s not forget the parmesan! No need to omit it in this vegan lasagna, since I created a completely dairy-free version with the versatile nut: the cashew!

There is quite a bit of work involved in preparing this dish, however, a large lasagna can easily feed up to 10 hungry people and maybe even provide leftovers! Quite a yield for a couple of hours’ investment and just think how much you will be loved once you make this feast for your family!

A few shortcuts are permitted in this recipe, while preserving its deliciousness. You can choose to make either the kidney bean cream OR tofu ricotta, instead of both. The zucchini can also be omitted without disasterous consequences.

Try this vegan lasagna this holiday season and let me know what you think! Enjoy, in joy and in health!

Amore’s Vegan Christmas Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package eggless, whole-wheat or rice lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 small zucchini, chopped
4 cups mushrooms (your favorite or a combination of different mushrooms), chopped
5 cups baby spinach, chopped, stems removed
2 cups fresh parsley, chopped.
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons unsalted steak spice
2 tablespoons dried oregano
Sea salt. chili flakes or chopped fresh hot pepper and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Prepare tomato sauce (recipe follows).
3. Prepare vegan parmesan (recipe follows).
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms, one teaspoon sea salt, steak spice, fennel and 1 tablespoon of oregano and sauté until mushrooms are tender and most of the water has evaporated, about 7-10 minutes. Add spinach and half a teaspoon of sea salt. Continue to sauté until spinach has completely wilted, about 1-2 minutes.
6. In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini, 1 tablespoon oregano and salt. Sauté until zucchini is soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add some of the chopped parsley and stir.
7. Remove from heat and set veggies aside.
8. Prepare tofu ricotta (recipe follows) if desired and kidney bean cream (recipe follows).
9. In a large pot, add water and sea salt and bring water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles as per instructions on the box. Drain and set aside.
10. Spread one cup tomato sauce (recipe follows) in large glass or ceramic baking dish.
11. Line lasagna noodles side by side to form bottom layer. Spread some veggies, ricotta and kidney bean cream over the noodles. Add some tomato sauce and sprinkle some vegan parmesan. Repeat until last layer of lasagna is reached.
12. Over the last layer, spread remaining tomato sauce, vegan parmesan, chili flakes or chopped hot peppers (if desired) and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
13. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake 20 – 25 minutes.
14. Remove from oven and serve warm.

 

Easy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

4 cups strained tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
5-6 leaves fresh basil, whole
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil over low heat in large pot. Add chopped onions, red pepper and garlic. Sauté over low heat for 5 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir. Reduce heat to low.
2. Stir in all remaining ingredients and cook over low heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving.

 

Vegan Parmesan

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup shelled hemp seeds

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until powdery.

 

Tofu Ricotta

Ingredients:

1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into quarters or crumbled
2/3 cup yellow miso
2/3 cup purified water
½ cup tahini
¼ cup olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

 

Kidney Bean Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups kidney beans, cooked
1 ½ cups purified water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
3 teaspoons hemp seeds
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

Method:

1. Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy.

 

“Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for all life is not a true religion or philosophy.”

~Albert Schweitzer

Some people think maintaining a vegan lifestyle, especially when travelling, is hard. You know what, it’s really super easy!

I had the pleasure of being chosen to work on a project in the magical Maui, Hawaii recently. Many of the restaurants we frequented had no vegan dishes on the menu. No problem! I tend to be a quiet person, preferring to keep things low-key, so I easily handled the situations discreetly. Once the waiter or waitress arrived to take my order, I mentioned that I did not eat animals, nor any animal products, and they were always super friendly and accommodating. They often simply made me one of their dishes without the cheese or meat, and other times, wiped up something especially for me.

For example, lunch at the luxurious Four Seasons in Maui at Wailea was a scrumptious, memorable experience. Although their vegan dishes were not on the menu, they happily prepared me a vegan version of their famous Niçoise Salad. The Niçoise Salad is usually prepared with tuna, anchovies and eggs. The vegan version omitted all of that and they served me some yummy tofu and a lovely sauce to accompany the salad.

Smoothies, always plentiful and popular in tropical places are often vegan, so no tweaking necessary. This delicious mango and pineapple smoothie was delightfully topped with an edible orchid!

Mango Pineapple Smoothie with edible orchid
Mango Pineapple Smoothie with edible orchid

One restaurant we went to had a menu with many vegetarian and vegan options. Café des Amis is a delightful place to stop for a delicious meal in Maui. I chose the vegetable curry with basmati rice and mango chutney. Oh my deliciousness!

Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Mango Chutney
Vegetable Curry with Basmati Rice and Mango Chutney

Having dinner at the world famous Mama’s Fish House was also an enjoyable experience. Our cheerful waitress explained to us that all the fish on the menu, “were swimming 24 hours ago in the ocean.” Oh that’s great! For me, being vegan, it definitely wasn’t an incentive to eat any of them! I thanked the humble fish (in my mind) for the culinary pleasure they were bringing to all the people dining at this renowned place and told the waitress my situation. She suggested a pumpkin soup and salad and I happily agreed.

The flight too was very doable as a vegan. I was on one of those flights where you have to pay for a snack or meal if you want one. They conveniently had one vegan meal option, which was a tasty hummus and grilled vegetable wrap. I found the airports I frequented were not the most vegan-friendly, but I managed as well. So, really, it was by no means impossible to maintain my vegan ways on this trip to Maui.

There is a distinction for me that I’d like to point out regarding a vegan diet. I made the decision to go vegan based on the knowledge I acquired about how animals are brutally treated in all these food industries. Deciding to go vegan, then, is more than a “diet”. It is an awakening, a decision, a stand against injustice. People like me, therefore, cannot “make an exception” and eat a dead animal every now and then because it is convenient or available. Instead, we just look for alternatives. As you know, those who seek, find, always.

Me & my Mai Tai!
Me & my Mai Tai!

Recipe for the perfect Mai Tai for 2! 

2 tablespoons light rum
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon 151 proof rum
1 tablespoon orange curacao
1 tablespoon almond flavored syrup
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Aloha!

“Sometimes people think it is ironic that the English language only has one word for love, and that is “love”, while the Inuits have more than seventy-three for snow. In Russian there are multiple words for degrees of love. So, too, in Hawaiian there are many definitions for the one word, Aloha, all meaning “love”. Some of the dictionary words for Aloha are “caring”, “affection”, “compassion”, “mercy”, “sympathy”, “pity”, “kindness”, “regard with affection”, even “to desire”. Also, of course, “hello”, “good-bye” and “farewell”.

~Kahuna Harry Uhane and Garnette Arledge, Wise Secrets of Aloha.

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Top image: Vegan Niçoise Salad in Maui