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Polenta Stuffing for Thanksgiving
Nov15

Polenta Stuffing for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming!  One of the best Thanksgivings I ever had was several years ago when my roommate Debbie and I hosted about a dozen friends at our Upper West Side apartment for an Italian-inspired feast.  I decided to try a polenta stuffing recipe from Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun, which I’d been reading right around that time.  It turned out to be my favorite dish that day, and there’s no reason to give up the stuffing just because cooking a bird is no longer part of the plan!  Here’s my cruelty-free variation on the book’s recipe for you: ingredients: 2 cups polenta Ener-G Egg Replacers (3 tsp. to 4 tsp. of water) 1 cup Earth Balance buttery spread 2 cups multi-grain croutons 2 white onions, finely chopped 3 ribs of celery, chopped sage, thyme, marjoram (about 1 teaspoon each) sea salt and black pepper olive oil baking spray directions: Soak polenta in 2 cups of cold water for 10 minutes, then add to 2 cups of boiling water in a stock pot. Bring to a boil again, and then lower the heat.  Stir continuously for about 10 minutes, then stir in Earth Balance. Remove from the heat and add Egg-Replacers. Add croutons, chopped onions, and celery. Go wild with the spices!  Season with sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper, sage, thyme, and marjoram. Lightly spray a casserole dish with olive oil baking spray, and then bake the stuffing mix (covered) at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until cooked and golden. (Serves 6-8) Bonus Tip! In a separate casserole dish, bake slices of Bartlett pears and slivers of fennel to serve alongside the stuffing — your Thanksgiving guests will love...

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Bagels

Are bagels vegan?  Thank God, the answer to this question is mostly yes!  The New Yorker in me insists on my Sunday morning spent with coffee, a bagel, and The New York Times.  I look forward to this Sunday morning ritual all week — my time to relax and also get back in touch with what’s happening in the world. The Arts & Leisure section and Book Review are like old friends. Back home, we take our bagels very seriously — no frozen bagels that taste like rolls for us!  H & H Bagels, by many considered the Mecca of bagels, is a bare-bones storefront that was right down the street from me when I was living at The Apthorp.  People love these bagels so much that many simply cannot do without: H & H ships world-wide; you can order them and have them delivered to you the very next day! Personally, my fave was Columbia Bagels up on 110th Street, near the university… a few subway stops north of H & H. Once Columbia Bagels moved its location to the East side, Broadway Bagel on 101st Street became my place, and I still visit whenever I’m in the neighborhood.  Here in Tucson, the franchise bagel store is the thing, and so I’ve been introduced to Bruegger’s Bagels and Einstein Bros. Bagels.  The morning-bagel routine has changed a bit here: we usually do a bagel run and bring the goods back home, so that the whole family gets to have breakfast together.  Our pups, Galileo and Otis, get to split a plain bagel.  Galileo likes Tofutti on his pieces; Otis prefers Smart Balance Light. While bagel territory seems to be mostly safe territory, your best bet is still going to be checking with your local bagel shop.  Of course, any bagel like “jalapeno-cheese” or “asiago” is not going to be dairy-free. Beyond the obvious, some bagel shops brush egg whites on the bagel-top to make the seeds or onion pieces stick, though this is not the norm.  But sometimes it gets a little more tricky: I recently found out that Einstein Bros. Bagels uses an amino acid called L-Cysteine as a dough conditioner, so its bagels are not vegan.  I’ve already put in a request at Einstein to create a “vegan” bagel as the sister to their “low-carb” option.  We’ll see what happens… Bagel Spreads Back in New York, the guys behind the counter knew my preference: I wasn’t two steps through the door before one of them would pop a cinnamon-raisin bagel in the microwave for me.  Not sliced.  Nothing on it. Just a simple, slightly warm, and slightly-sweet bagel to go along...

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Favorite Recent Finds

Every so often, I like to update you all with some recent finds. Here’s the latest scoop: Fashion: “Elite” Rain Boots by Earth Yes, I live in the desert, but even we have the monsoon season!  I love all my vegan shoes, and the last thing I want is to have them ruined in the rain.  Also, given the chance, I happen to like dancing — and singin’ — in the rain; I insist on looking fashionable while I do it, however.  My new Elite rain boots (which I found at Mooshoes) are practical, stylish, and comfortable. Food:  Candle Cafe Cookbook Specifically, the Asian-Baked Tofu recipe.  A block of tofu doesn’t look like anything too special, but I’m telling you a mouthful of this recipe is an explosion of flavor!  It took me a while to start using this cookbook because the recipes tend to have more ingredients than those in my other books.  In reality, the recipes are nothing too complex or time-consuming.  I’ve already tried several recipes… all fantastic!  I love the NYC restaurant Candle 79, and I love this cookbook.  A little piece of home for me here in Tucson, every time I cook something up! Household: Seventh Generation Dishwasher Powder I have used Trader Joe’s Dishwasher Powder for a long time; but there are weeks when visits to multiple stores is just not as do-able, so this is a great option for when I do the week’s shopping all at The Whole Foods Market. Personal Care & Cosmetics: Alba Botanica Natural Acne-dote So happy I found this simple, effective, and inexpensive deep pore wash.  As someone who knows me so well once remarked to me, I wear my stress on my face.  So my complexion needs a little extra help, especially in hectic times.  This is the cruelty-free alternative I’ve been looking for, for a long time.  Amen! Companion Animals: Dr. Harvey’s Barkotti I love my dogs.  I love anything Italian.  Need I say more? Miscellaneous: Rational Animal A non-profit in New York that uses media and special events to increase public awareness about NYC’s at-risk animals.  Bringing artists and musicians together to help the animals… right up my alley! Reminder: ELECTION DAY! Please be sure to vote tomorrow and support candidates who are friends to animals! Arizona: NO on Prop 109 to protect wildlife Missouri: YES on Prop B to stop puppy...

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Pumpkin (salsa!) Season
Oct27

Pumpkin (salsa!) Season

There’s so much to love about autumn: the crispness of the air, the gold and red leaves, kids running around in Halloween costumes, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  If you’re shopping for Halloween candy this week, re-visit my post on cruelty-free Halloween treats.  Last year, I also found some terrific self-pampering pumpkin products — nothing like the smell of a pumpkin hand lotion to have you feeling in the spirit of the season. Yes, it’s safe to say that before the official holiday season comes our way with all the talk of silver bells and mistletoe, this time of year is a wonderful season in its own right.  For me, autumn is all about getting cozy.  As the weather cools, we reach for the soft sweaters that have been hibernating in our drawers and closets since last spring, we once again enjoy savory soups (like my husband Seth’s Butternut Squash Soup) and stews at mealtimes, and we might even bask in the glow of the fireplace while curled up with a good book or with a cup of tea in our hands.  It’s not quite wintertime yet, but we can feel it coming. So here’s a fun little recipe to try for any fall fiestas you have coming up, or to savor with some chips while you’re watching football this coming weekend.  It comes from The Candle Cafe Cookbook.  And if you’re making a jack-o-lantern this week, this is the perfect opportunity to use the seeds you scoop out of the pumpkin rather than throwing them away! Toasted Pumpkin Seed Salsa (makes 3 cups) ingredients: 1 dried ancho chile, seeded and torn into pieces 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped 3 tablespoons safflower oil 1/2 onion, chopped 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes 1 teaspoon sea salt directions: Soak chili pieces in a cup of warm water untl softened (about 30 minutes).  Drain and set aside. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add pumpkin seeds, garlic, jalapeno.  Stir until toasted and seeds begin to pop (1 to 2 minutes). Add oil & onion and saute.  Stir the ingredients in the skillet until the onions become translucent. Add in the tomatoes and ancho chile.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Stir in the salt. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Put the mixture in the food processor (do in about three batches)  and puree until smooth. Serve at room temperature. If you prefer your salsa with a little more “oomph” to it, you can add an extra jalapeno or two to the mix. And...

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Mayonnaise

So you won’t ever have to say “hold the mayo!” here are some terrific alternatives.  You may be skeptical, but just think about how much better these are for our bodies, compared to traditional mayonnaise. Substantially fewer calories and less fat.  And, since these are eggless, they’re a helluva lot better for cholesterol levels.  Talk about added incentives! Vegenaise by Follow Your Heart Simply the best.  This brand comes in different varieties: Original, Organic, Grapeseed Oil, Reduced fat with Flaxseed and Oil Oil, and High Omega-3 with Canola Oil.  I love the Flaxseed Oil version.  Vegenaise has the right texture, the creaminess of the mayo you grew up with.  Great on a sandwich, for dipping your fries, and in any recipe.  When we used this to make artichoke dip, even the non-vegans were lovin’ it! Nayonaise by Nasoya This alternative is soy-based, which means this mayo packs a protein punch.  It also makes it a little thicker, and therefore also a good option especially for dips and dressings.  Give their recipe for Creamy Italian Dressing a try! NatureNaise by Paino Organics Organic ingredients blended together in the original and Omega-3 versions.  SO HEALTHY mayonnaise! Trader Joe’s Reduced Fat Mayonnaise This was the first non-dairy mayonnaise I ever tried, and I still am a huge fan.  It’s great for sandwiches: the texture and taste remind me of Miracle Whip. The day I realized that all of the above are made with apple cider vinegar was a super-sad day for me.  For those of you who have been reading along, you may recall that I’m allergic to apples.  Although we still keep our Veganaise in the fridge for everyone else, I am on a quest to find the best recipe for homemade recipe sans vinegar. Still a work in progress, so stay tuned.  And if anyone out there thinks (s)he has the truly stellar recipe, please let me...

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The new and improved BLT

BLT (as in bacon, lettuce, and tomato) sandwiches are a Saturday favorite in my home.  Here’s a cruelty-free version.  It’s less greasy and so less likely to drag my energy down for the rest of the afternoon.  Also, the low calorie and fat content — especially when compared to a traditional BLT — makes this a healthy lunchtime choice.  As appealing as this sandwich is to the taste buds, it’s equally appealing in terms of the waistline. Simple, quick, healthy, and delicious! To build your own: 2 slices of Ezekial 4:9 Bread, lightly toasted 2 slices Smart Bacon 2 leaves of Romaine lettuce, or iceberg lettuce 1/2 tomato, thinly sliced Vegenaise (my fave: Reduced Fat, made with Flaxseed and Olive Oil) salt & pepper to taste Bonus Tip! Try using tempeh as the bacon substitute: I love the Smoky Tempeh Strips by Lightlife.  The first time I had a tempeh “BLT” was years ago in a jazzy little restaurant in Austin, Texas called Martin Brothers.  Although MB has since closed its doors, the tempeh BLT lives on! *Some of you may be familiar with Morningstar Bacon, which is also quite tasty.  Just note that Morningstar “Veggie” Bacon is vegetarian, not vegan — the strips contain egg...

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