Thursday, December 3, 2009

Protein as the Main Event

One of the most common questions posed to Vegans is “Where do you get your _____ “(fill in space with a multitude of things – iron, calcium, protein). There are plenty of sources of protein that we can get from legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and butters, as well as grains. I was shocked to read that 1 cup of soybeans has 28.6 g of protein! In order to determine how much protein you need per day, there is a nice little calculation I found in “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melinda, M.S., R.D.

Your weight (lbs) / 2.2 lbs = weight in kg
weight in kg x 0.9 = your recommended protein intake per day

For a female that is somewhere between 115 to 120 pounds, this works out to about 50 g of protein per day. Chickpeas and tahini will help you achieve this goal.

2 cups chickpeas (1 540ml / 19oz can) = 40 g of protein
½ cup tahini = 40 g of protein
½ cup water, more if needed to get desired consistency
1 leek, sliced
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp italian seasoning (basil, oregano, lavender, etc)
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast the garlic and leeks until browned... this seems to sweeten the taste of each, but more importantly fills the kitchen with an amazing aroma of awesomeness. By the way, Word spell check says awesomeness is a word, so deal with it. Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth.

We smothered some home-made spelt loaf with hummus, plopped on some cooked kale, freshly sliced tomato and garnished with basil for a delicious open-faced sandwich. Balsamic vinegar never hurt anyone either.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

KISS Pasta Salad

Keep It Simple Stupid Pasta Salad. Who needs measuring cups or spoons? Well... you don't need them tonight if you're making this salad. For once we don't have our own scaled version of Mt. Fuji made out of dirty dishes on our counter.

1 Package of kamut, rice, or spelt penne
1 Jar of artichoke hearts
1 Jar of kalamata olives (pitted... or remove the pits yourself, even though that's the pits.... hey, who gave this guy a keyboard?)
1 About a handful of sundried tomatoes (something between half a cup and a cup, but who's counting?)
1 Bunch of spinach

Okay, bring a pot of water to a boil and dump that package of penne in. If you're an energy saving fiend, you can put the pasta in while the water is being brought to a boil. Plus, that saves even more time. Drain the pasta and put it and all ingredients into a large bowl. You can use the oil from the artichoke hearts as a light sauce and a little salt and pepper to season. Toss it up, and ta-da!! Ready to serve.

What we chose for a slightly thicker/cheesy sauce was Wolffie's Nutritional Yeast "Cheese" Sauce from Sarah Kramer's "La Dolce Vegan!". We put this cheese sauce on everything else that we make so why not pasta salad?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grate Yam Latkes

Today we wanted to make something easy on the digestive system as one of us is currently on a liver cleanse. Not only are yams delicious, but they are also rich in potassium, folic acid and magnesium.

2 sweet potatoes / yams grated
1 small onion grated (use only half of this if you’d like)
2 tbsp flour of choice (spelt in this case)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 “eggs” (we used egg replacer, but flax eggs would also work)
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in large bowl or food processor. Heat oil (we used coconut oil) in a frying pan (in this case a possibly carcinogenic Teflon coated non-stick pan of doom). Once up to medium temperature, form the potato mixture into patties or balls. Squeeze out the excess water or else you’re going to make a mess and your eating partners will make a face that suggests they would rather be ordering take-out. (Whoops!). Fry each side until browned.

Now you’ll have to add an amount of applesauce based on how these turned out for you. Nicely formed and fried patties probably only need a few tablespoons of applesauce, while a slimy blob of yam half burnt and half raw will require quite a bit more.

We ate it with a simple salad and some chai tea from Jae Steele’s “Get It Ripe”. If you desire a heartier version, wild rice would be a nice edition, and dulse flakes would give the latkes a more salmon-esque flavour.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vegan Japan

While Paul Watson and his Sea Shepard crew were busy hunting down the evil Japanese whalers (watch South Park's "Whale Whores" episode for an interesting take on the show that's all worth it for the final scene...) we were travelling through Central Honshu with the VegTimes article "Konnichiwa Kyoto" and our own agenda. Over three weeks we ate at 5 or 10?? vegetarian restaurants and had no trouble finding plenty of food at all of the others.

Unfortunately for us, the first vegetarian restuarant we tried to find was "5 minutes" from one of the subway stations in Kyoto. Too bad we didn't have any directions other than that. After a period of about an hour and a half we completed our very first decreasing radius seach technique to find our destination. We started out by walking a few blocks on gut feel, and then slowly made our way back around to the station. Then we started again, but only walked a couple blocks this time... eventually we found The Falafel Garden.

The falafel wraps and chai tea were excellent alternatives to the usual soba noodles with veggies on top. You can tell from the picture how happy we were. Although the food was amazing, the best thing about the restaurant was that it sold a vegetarian guidebook for Japan. This would be the beginning of our vegetarian restaurant pilgramidge. High from our falafel lunch, we decided we should find the next restaurant for dinner. Although we were a little too excited and showed up early, The Vege Note restaurant showed promise. Next time we're in Kyoto we will have to drop by again... this time when they are actually open.

Our next restaurant to make note of was Nataraj in the Breeze Breeze mall in Osaka. Holy snap, once again we head off in the complete opposite direction of where the restaurant is. Could it be the hour hikes around the cities with our 50lb backpacks are making us so hungry that we just think that all of this food we taste is fantastic? Maybe that helps, but nonetheless this was another one those places where North American people in the hospitality industry could learn a thing or three from the Japanese.

It was an all you can eat Indian buffet. Six types of curry, naan, rice, tea, coffee, etc for 940 Yen (about $10)... Well after we mentioned that we were vegan the waitress pointed out those two curries not to eat and said we could not eat the naan. Sad times I know. About 10 mintues later the waitress came out with a plate of vegan naan and a vegan version of one of those curries we couldn't have. Wow. Too bad for them that they don't accept tips in Japan.

Although not in our veggie guidebook, the temple we stayed at in Mt. Koya also served us vegan upon request. Everyone else ate vegetarian. For three days and two nights we were served breakfast (shown) and dinner. Lots of rice, tea, miso, tofu, oshinko, gomae, etc... and that's just breakfast.

We booked our visit through and stayed at the Shojoshin-in temple. Definitely worth a visit.

So there you go, a small example of what we experienced on the trip. Although spending plenty of time wandering the streets of Tokyo and Osaka, the highlights were the surprises. Being an hour out of Tokyo and in the middle of nowhere, walking through the cemetary in Mt. Koya and not being able to tell if you're back in in West Coast BC as you stand beside massive centuries old cedar and sprawling salal, or how it seemed like every Japanese person that could speak english asked if we needed help. Go to Japan, buy a Rail Pass, eat good food, learn from the people, and watch some sumo. Where to go next?

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