Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Great Vitamix Experiment: SOUP!

Ok, so I've heard from people about how great soups can be right out of the Vitamix, about how the blender is so powerful that it actually cooks/heats the food if you let it run long enough (more on that when I talk about my hummus, but not now, soon, people, soon!).  So, I had a butternut squash just begging to be eaten.  I went to the Vitamix website and downloaded this recipe for apple butternut squash soup

Ok, the hardest part of this recipe is cutting the squash.  Those things are tough.  What a workout.  After steaming the squash and throwing a few ingredients (and I DO mean few, this is simple stuff, even for me), I mixed it up in the Vitamix and produced some pretty good tasting soup.  From squash cuttin' to soup eatin', I'd say this meal took 25-30 minutes.  But the vast majority is prepping and steaming the squash.  Vitamix time was about 5 minutes.

The only thing I'd change about the recipe is the apple.  It added a little too much sweet to the squash.  So to cut the sweet i added some salt and a bit of pepper.  I ate two bowls and it came right out of the Vitamix piping hot.

When you look at this pic, what I'd like you to notice is how smooth this soup looks.  Before going into the Vitamix, it was a collection of diced squash, a 1/4 onion, an apple and various spices and seasonings.  Coming out it was as smooth as ever.  Nice.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vitamix Experiment: SORBET!!!!

Ok, so sorbet was not the first thing I made in the Vitamix.  I made hummus.  But that is another story.  More on that in a few days

Megan had mentioned how easy it was to make sorbet in the Vitamix in a matter of minutes and only using frozen fruit and maybe a little sweetener.  The blender comes with a great cook book, so between Megan's help and the cookbook, I was well prepped.  The first sorbet I made was orange, which I ate so fast I forgot to take a picture.  Two fresh oranges, some ice and a little sweetener and a minute or so in the Vitamix, and I had orange sorbet. I loved it.  Not only the ease of preparation, but the taste was amazing.  i loved it, but the true taste for any food is kids.  My kids couldn't get enough. Which kinda made me mad.  I mean, I wanted it all!  Of course, I want them eating fruit and veggies more.  But shouldn't they get their own Vitamix and make it for themselves?  Am I being unreasonable???  ;)

Next up was Strawberry.  Frozen strawberries, some Splenda, a little ice and a touch of water gave me this

Good stuff.
So next up was a more exotic fruit.  I love mangoes, so I picked up a bag of frozen mango chunks and made Mango sorbet.  because Mango is such a sugary and sweet fruit, I only needed a little water.  The results were fabulous.  Of course, in the interest of writing a fair review I had to offer some to my family. My kids aren't mango fans, but the liked it.  This time it was my wife taking more than I wanted to share!

I guess what strikes me about this blender are 2 things.  First, the simplicity of ingredients amazes me.  ice, water, fruit. Really?? Is it that simple to make sweet and great tasting stuff like sorbet?  Apparently so.  Second, the speed in which this thing produces the food is incredible. In all of these examples, it took less than 90 seconds to prepare the sorbet.  That blows me away.  So, I could in a matter of mere moments, produce some great tasting, healthy desserts.

The Great Vitamix Experiment

A few weeks ago, on a whim, really, I emailed the people at Vitamix with a crazy proposal.  Send me a Vitamix and I'll spend a few weeks making al sorts of natural and whole food-type stuff and compare it to the old blender I have been using.  I've been fascinated with the Vitamix ever since my friend Megan (Run Vegan Run, got one and has raved about it ever since.  I was somewhat dubious.  How could the Vitamix be THAT different from a basic blender.  I mean, was it formed from the dust of unicorn horns?  What's the big deal, I asked?

Well, much to my utter shock, Vitamix said, "OK."  I was a bit taken aback.  This is a reputable company and I'm a bald Vegan in Alabama.  That they took a chance on me is flattering.  I never thought they'd say yes, so I am now working on my plan to test this thing out and see what exactly is the big deal. So, they sent me one and I plan to, over the next several weeks, make stuff I typically made in my old blender.

  So, BIG thank you to Vitamix for taking a chance on a modest blogger like me.  AND full disclosure, I was given this blender for no charge.  But I promise to be objective in my review.  OK, here we go!  Let the taste testing begin!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Sorry I have been absent. As a college department head this has been a busy month for me.  School started back and I had to write our unit's annual report.  That's done.  I have tons of pics of my creations using nothing but our local no-too-friendly-for-vegans grocery stores.

Hang tight.  Back soon with a flurry of posts!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Coming Out Party, well, kinda

Headed to Panama City Beach for the fourth. I'm meeting my wife and kids, who've been there for a few days already. I've been sitting the dog and unable to leave too early since I have only limited vacation hours.  This is my coming out party in some ways. I'll be around 14 other people in my wife's side of the family all of whom are omnivores.  I'll be the "Vegan in the room." I'm excited.  I'm proud of not only what Veganism has done for me and to me, but what I stand for now.  So, as a rookie Vegan, I've studied my info a bit.  You know, the commonly asked questions: "Where do you get your protein?"  "What about calcium?"  "Is b-12 a problem?"

I've been really pleased with the resources at "Vegan Coach" and of course have relied heavily on my dear friend Megan.  I'm ready. I got my "Joyful Vegan" t-shirt, and I'm bringing my food with me.  I'll let ya know how it goes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another quick meal

So last night I went to shop for a bathing suit for the beach trip we will take in a week or so.  I got home late and was hungry so I decided to "sweep the kitchen" and make a hodgepodge of Vegan goodness.

What you see here is some leftover angel hair pasta (3 oz only! that stuff is HIGH in calories), the last of my kale, half a zucchini, some peppers, half a white onion, and half loaf of homemade seitan I made and froze a couple of weeks ago.

This concoction was all thrown into the stir fry pan and in 10 minutes I was eatin'!

With the exception of the ingredients to make the seitan, all of this was found at local grocery stores!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Two New Meals This Week

Two new meals this week.

The first "meal" was from Father's Day.  Megan ( told me she was making homemade pizza and I got the notion that I wanted some pizza too.  First I had to find out if the crust at WalMart was vegan.  A quick glance at PETA's "I Can't Believe Its Vegan" website told me that Pillsbury Pizza Dough was Vegan.  So I hopped over to WalMart and bought some mushrooms, an onion, and some pizza sauce along with the dough.  My recent trip to Whole Foods allowed me to stock up on Mozzarella and Cheddar Vegan Cheese from Daiya.

This was easy as pie!  Spread out the dough, add the sauce, add the cheese, pre-cook the onions and mushrooms, and send to the oven for about 10 minutes.  This is what I got:

My wife loved it. MY KID loved it! Hudson ate all of he section I gave him!  NICE!

The next dish I made on Monday.  I had no plan really and was pressed for time.  We had a lot going on, so I scrambled into the fridge to see what I had.  I had just prepared a fresh batch of Quinoa for salad topper this week, so I drew upon that.  I also found some Kale at WalMart that looked like it had been harvested in this calendar year.  So I decided to use that.  I thawed some of the homemade seitan that I had prepared a couple of weeks ago.  I added a little spicy BBQ sauce to the seitan, whipped up some onions and mushrooms (can ya tell I like mushrooms and onions?) and here is what I got.  This is all WalMart, as was the pizza, with the exception of Daiya cheese.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hey Morningstar, WTF?

So when I went vegetarian, one of the first things I did as a way of filling the gap between meat and meatless was to purchase Morningstar grillers, veggie burgers, and black bean burgers.  I was not Vegan then, so ingredients weren't a priority as much as going meatless was in my Veganarian state.  So when I needed a break from prepping veggies or was just in a burger kind of mood, I turned to the products of Morningstar, readily available from each of my two grocery stores.  Mind you, this is all I have.  Two stores and limited options in terms of ready-to-eat processed vegan food.  Should that stuff be a staple in our every day Vegan diet? Of course not. But they are handy in a pinch.

It wasn't until shortly before going Vegan that I discovered that my beloved veggie products from Morningstar had milk in them. YES! That's right, MILK!  What!?  Milk? OMG WTH?  Why, Morningstar, did you see the need to put milk products in something designed for folks on a meatless diet, whether it be vegetarian or vegan?

So what's a southern vegan to do?  Yup! I have it! I recalled seeing some Boca Burgers at the other grocery store. So today after work, I hopped on down there to get a Boca burger for dinner. See, I was kinda tired and looking for a quick meal to satisfy those hunger pangs and that was of minimal effort. It is, after all, Friday.  Time to rest up after a work week.  So, I make my way to the frozen food aisle, spy the familiar red Boca container, reach down triumphantly for the box, and...WHAAAAAA?????, mushroom mozzarella Boca burgers? Mozzarella? As in mozzarella, the cheese!?  OMG WTH???

Et tu, Boca???  I thought Boca was the "original vegan burger"?  What's this dairy cheese crap doing in MY Vegan burger.  As Capt. Kirk so eloquently put it in Start Trek II:  "khhaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnn!"

So, what does a southern Vegan do in the face of overwhelming odds against his having a vegan burger tonight?  Yup. You guessed it, he buys squash, onions, zucchini, and quinoa and makes a better dinner.

Take that Boca!  Take that Morningstar!

P.S. Oh, and next time I want a burger, I'm making Southwestern Tofu Burgers from the "Vegan Table" cookbook.  Those things ROCK!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Taste of Addiction

Here is a nice article from the Sydney Morning Herald about the addictive nature of processed food.

The Taste of Addiction

Friday, June 11, 2010

Couple of meal pics from last week

This is homemade seitan, on Lavash bread with sauteed onions, mushrooms, peppers, and Daiya cheese

This is caramelized tempeh, with quinoa, and sauteed onions, peppers, and kale 

Lavash Bread Pizza

Last weekend after a trip to Whole Foods, I made some Lavash Bread pizza.  Now this is a slight departure from my "WalMart Vegan" theme, but a dude just HAS to go to Whole Foods every now and then!

Love the Lavash bread and cant wait to make caramelized tempeh shawarmas again with it (see the wonderful recipe book Vegan Table available at Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Compassionate Cooks website.  

All I did was take half a piece of the lavash bread, slather a tablespoon of tomato paste on it, add some onions, mushrooms and peppers, and then some Daiya cheese (holy moley is this stuff good!), popped it in the toaster oven, and voila! pizza.  Very low in calories and very tasty too!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The UN Report and Thomas Malthus

I'm a historian by trade, and it occurred to me that this UN Report recommending a Vegan lifestyle in order to ease the drain on world resrouces might have some historical context.  So I started thinking about how I could do that for you, and the name Thomas Malthus popped into my head. Malthus was a British scholar and reverend who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  He published some controversial (then) stuff on popoulation and demographics.

His demographic assertions were in a work called "An Essay on the Principle of Poulation." He asserted (WAY oversimplified here) that the population would someday overcome the Earth's ability to sustain it.  In essence, we would outgrow our planet.  He wrote: "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man"

Isn't that what this report is saying in a way?  That our incessant need for animal products is creating a drain on world resources to feed and grow those animals to provide that food for the population that we are actually damaging the planet's ability to sustain us? 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Go Vegan or Lose your World

The UN has published a report recommending a transition to a Vegan diet to ease the drain on world resources.

Here is the UN REPORT in full

And here is a Manchester Guardian article summarizing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Quick, Easy, and Available at WalMart!

Okay, so I got busy this afternoon and found myself too hungry to think about something fancier (as if I ever do anything fancy). So, I took some old stand-by ingredients: mushrooms and green onions, and sauteed them with a 1/4 cup of quinoa, then added some curry powder, then crumbled in a Boca burger.  What I got was this:

All totaled, this plate full of food was about 390 calories!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Unlocking the "Vegan Mystique"

As you've probably surmised, I not only live in the South, but I was born and raised here.  All my years have been spent either in Alabama (most of them) or Louisiana (9 years).  So what I give you now is one ignorant southerner's perspective before he was enlightened.  A lot of this is written with tongue placed firmly in cheek, but you'll be able to discern the truth from my literary flair!

Before I became a Vegan, or knew any for that matter, the word "Vegan" evoked all sorts of stereotypes and images about who these people were and what they believed.  In my mind, Vegan was a Vegetarian on steroids.  A bionic Vegetarian, if you will.  There was a mystique to being Vegan. An other-worldly quality, if you will.  My mind devised images of Vegans as modern hippies, who wore odd-looking clothing, believed strange things, and surfed.  Here in the South a person who doesn't eat meat is looked at with a certain level of puzzlement, if not outright disdain.  And any southerner east of the Mississippi who doesn't consume large amounts of pork BBQ is often considered a threat to society.

So when I had the opportunity to befriend real life authentic Vegans, I was pleasantly surprised and thankful that my long held stereotypes of who Vegans were and what they were about were dashed. The first "real" Vegan that I came to know was a person who left voice mail for my running podcast.  Megan from California, twitter name: veganrunningmom, seemed downright normal. She didn't sound like a hippie.  And I came to find out that she neither smoked pot nor did she surf.  What had happened?  I met a NORMAL person who was also vegan?! This was something I had to process.

I discovered that Vegans were just like any other person I knew.  They had hobbies, they had children, they were even decent citizens. Few of them wore sandals or lived on communes.  I came to find that Vegans were no different than me, except for their concern for animals, their own bodies, and their planet.  And I came to admire them for their belief system, and their convictions.  It takes a special person to give up something they were raised with for years and years and start a new life and lifestyle.  I respect Vegans for that.  And I hope that in my new life as a Vegan I do not let them down, nor disrespect all that they believe and have shared with me in their compassion.

I found that the Vegans I knew treated me with compassion and did not judge my eating lifestyle.  Rather, they sought to teach me, educate me, and to welcome me to ask questions.  It was this approach that led me to investigate vegetarianism, then to become a veganarian (a word I used to describe what I was at the time: something more then Vegetarian, but not yet Vegan), and to later become Vegan. Funny, I had  declared in an early podcast episode that while I could consider vegetarianism, I could NEVER be Vegan because that was just "too hardcore."  Hmmm.  Funny to think about that now.  Funny thing is now it seems natural and not hardcore at all.

So what I realized, was that Vegans, even in the South, don't look much different than me. In fact, they ARE me!  What was that about a mystique?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Last Night's Dinner

Here is a pic of last night's dinner: tangy BBQ tofu, rice, and a medley of onions, orange pepper, black beans and mushrooms. All bought from Wal-Mart or Winn Dixie, the only grocery stores in town. So a lot of what I want to share here is how Vegans deal with Whole Foods being 60 miles away and Trader Joe's being 90 miles away! What's it like to be a "Wal-Mart Vegan"? Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 27, 2010



My BBQ Tofu Recipe

Folks, here is a link from my other blog that has a BBQ Tofu recipe I came up with with a few weeks back.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To Quote Admiral Stockdale (google him, youngsters): Who am I, what am I doing here?

Yes, yes! Who am I? Why am I here? Great questions. Because I'm lazy, I'll refer you to this little piece that I wrote for Daily Mile, an online social network for active folks:

Ok. So, go read that then come back and we'll have a pop quiz.


Hiya. I'm a native southerner who has recently transitioned away from an omnivore diet and embraced the Vegan lifestyle. In the pages that follow, I'd like to chronicle the challenges and triumphs of being Vegan in the American South.

I want to share with you the challenges of finding Vegan friendly food in a small town of 8,000. How it has affected me and how I reconcile Veganism with my southern upbringing (it ain't easy!).

I'd also like to share easy recipes that I have concocted in my new lifestyle as a "Wal Mart Vegan" in the hopes that they assist you in following a healthier lifestyle and possibly removing some of the mystique of Veganism .