Tag Archives: Vegan MOFO

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I love a good bowl. I don’t eat them often, as I tend to be the type of person who just makes one big dish. Curries, chilis, soups, stir-fries, and casseroles are more up my alley. But truthfully a well balanced vegan bowl is easy to do, especially if some prep work is done before hand. For example, I use already prepared hummus, some frozen protein balls I’ve made earlier, and the eggplant was pickled a few days earlier. All I had to do was pop everything in the oven and cook the couscous!

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Funny thing is that making a dish with as many colors in the rainbow can be hard. But I tried my best here using all produce from my CSA. I love being able to eat a dinner that is almost all from the same place. So what is what in the rainbow?

  • Red & Orange: bell pepper, last of the season
  • Yellow: pickled turmeric eggplant (again last of the season)
  • Green: green leaf, arugula, and radish greens
  • Blue: the bowl- duh!
  • Purple: roasted beets
  • Brown: hummus & chickpea beanballs
  • White: Pearl Couscous tossed in soy yogurt

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Overall, it took about an hour for dinner to cook, but there was a lot of down time. The beets that took the longest to roast. It might take longer than an hour if you choose to make your own hummus and beanballs/falafels. But I strongly suggest making doubles of a falafel/beanball recipe and freezing the extras for bowls like this.

For anyone who is wondering- you will need to prepare the eggplant two days ahead of time. I am a big fan of this refrigerator pickle recipe, and it is a great way to preserve some extra eggplant from the summer. If you aren’t a huge eggplant fan, this really alters the taste and the traditional mushy texture. I personally used Wegman’s brand hummus, just the good old classic hummus, though you could go for any flavored hummus if you like. And finally the balls were the Chickpea Eggplant Hemp Veggieballs from Protein Ninja. But there are lots of falafels now that you can find in the freezer section, like Trader Joe’s.

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Goodness, today just flew by. I went for my appointment (ugh, now I go to the doctors EVERY week) and did some shopping/errands, then when I got home ate, then my parents texted me that they were coming over to bring my sister’s old rocking chair. Which led to talking with my parents, then eating out, and now I am rushing to get this vegan mofo out there. Sorry I am not going to be as detailed as normal.

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For my monochrome meal I am making gimbap. I know what you are thinking- Jen this just sushi. WRONG! This is Korean rice rolls. Well, not really. See gimbap is often described as Korean sandwich sushi, which seems pretty accurate. See these are really common to find in Korea. Basically you take a nori wrap and add unseasoned rice and fill it with various namuls (aka think about using your leftover veggie sides from dinner) Traditionally gimbap uses pickled radish, carrots, spinach, cucumber, egg, or cheap seafood. But over the years, the fillings have gotten to be much more “american” with additions like mayo (you actually get this often in modern gimbap), potted meats, and cheese

Unlike sushi, gimbap isn’t an artistry. How pretty it looks isn’t important. If you watch Korean dramas you will often see kids and adult main characters eating gimbap that their parents made (Pst… I suggest reading our Korean Food 101 from last year’s vegan mofo for my context.) I remember a bonding scene where to female characters talked about how they always picked the spinach out of their rolls. I personally like slicing mine, but sometimes people leave the rolled nori uncut like a long skinny burrito.

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It is funny because I remember getting a homework assignment similar to this. I am not sure if it is still up, or what the name was, but there were various artistic experiments that Yoko Ono posted online. It was a really interesting interactive artist think piece, and the homework assignment was to do one of the prompts. I don’t remember what I did, but I remember there was one that was to make a monochrome meal. A lot of students did this, and almost all soon found out how hard it was. 

So when I saw this vegan mofo prompt I was a little more prepared, but I was kind-of lazy. I don’t like making several dishes, but I felt like cheating saying something was monochrome if it covered in a sauce. Enter my green gimbap. The end result wasn’t nearly as green as I hoped, but still very green overall! I also fought the temptation to use a dye, and try and use all flavors. Okay, so the rice didn’t get a green as I hoped from the spirulina, and yeah the mayo and tofu is white, but hey can’t be perfect right?

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Holy cow, I had a hard time telling apart the photos I took this time around. Now I am only wearing the special maternity shirts (at least in public XD) and this H&M bird shirt (they now sell a long sleeved version) fits the best for these progression photos. I am pretty consistently the same size…. but I keep gaining weight. I guess just fattening up the baby?

The Feels:

Unless you are living under a rock (lucky you!) you probably know about our new President. Yuck, I can’t even say that word before Trump. I mean I remember the days when Jon Stewart would make fun of Bush for mispronouncing nuclear, now our country will be run by a man who says “swatches of land” and “bigly.” Ugh. I was really upset when I woke up the day after the election, and I think a lot of it has do with having a child. I am hoping my baby doesn’t get old enough to know what a president is, so I don’t have explain who he is. I just hope that after 4 years, we get someone new and Trump will just be the new Nixon (minus the endearing puppy).

The worst part? I think talking to friends and family who seem to not understand the big deal. I get it. With our system of government Trump can’t just say “Hey, start with the blue prints for that wall stat!” and have the blue prints by the end of the month. We won’t loose Obamacare for at least another year and half, and we have lots of individual state laws that vary all over the place. So when some people ask why people are protesting, or why we are so upset, it isn’t just that Hillary lost. It is who she lost to. A man who feeds on racism, misogyny, and bigotry and another man who wants to take away everyone’s rights. Anyone who doesn’t already know, Trump maybe a mediocre white dude who’s success was handed to him the “classiest” 24-karat plate but Pence is a monster.

But it seems that hopefully, everyone who sat around complaining about Trump (aka people like me) are a little more enthusiastic about doing something about it. I want to try and get more active with local government. I probably will try and volunteer more, and hell, I might even register finally as democrat instead of an independent. *gasp* Funnily, my husband is registered as a republican, which shocks my friends. XD Although it isn’t ALWAYS true, but most northeast republicans are thought to be fiscally responsible. Though sometimes they are just jerks.

Belly:

I still find it funny when some people say I look small. I have to admit, I remember when watching Rosemary’s Baby thinking “Come on, really Rosemary is THAT small with her baby? At 9 months?!” Now I am looking at my tummy and I can kind-of see how it was plausible. But I know a lot of it is because it is my first baby, and I have fairly strong abdominals from working out consistently (well, that I USE to workout consistently.) If I focus on relaxing my abdominal muscles my tummy gets pretty large. But if I don’t engage my muscles my back hurts a lot by the end of the day.

To make the whole engage and disengage the muscles weirder, my belly button is ready to pop. Somedays if I engage the core and disengage, my belly button looks like a goofy muppet mouth. I feel a little Seinfeld-y by making my belly button talk, HELLOOO! No need to take my hands to make my belly button stretch and talk. #pregnancyperks

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Oh look how much I’ve grown in literally seconds!

Animals:

Week 34 had my FAVORITE animal featured. A QUOKKA! OMG, I know, I was a weird American child who knew what a quokka was, but uh…. isn’t it the cutest thing ever? And if you google this guy you get a lot of selfies with them, which is because of Rottennest Island. It is packed with quokkas that seemed to get use to tourists. I am not sure how I feel about this, but I know if I knew about this place as a kid I would be trying to convince my parents to make a trip to Australia.

Week 35 is the very specific Mini Lop Bunny. I don’t really know how big a regular lop bunny is, so mini is more mysterious. But they are also pretty cute, but I can’t help but wonder if the ears are annoying for the bunny sort of like how bulldogs have a hard time breathing. Any big bunny fans? Also, if anyone has their hearts stolen by these photos, there are lots of mini lop bunnies for adoption on PetFinder.com. I just can’t even with Bettie Brown.

Werkin Out:

Oof, finding time is hard. Mostly during the work week. Luckily I work only 4 days a week, but we have been so busy I pretty much get home, cook, then just sit around feeling fried. But I am trying to go for long walks on weekends with Jon, which puts me out of breath with my stuffy nose (pregnancy symptom) and having the baby sit so close to the diaphragm (when will this baby drop to give some relief?) But the good news is that my muscles are still pretty strong and I can still curl a 14lb weight, though I should try and do more barre workouts consistently. I think it will help with muscle endurance when it comes to labor time.

Oh, and if you love body positive fitness- please donate to Lacy Davis’ IndieGoGo campaign! She is the author of the blog Super Strength Health and co-host of the podcast Rise and Resist. Passing a few bucks will help the campaign. She is 55% of the way to her goal, and every little bit helps.

Nursery:

We are getting there! My parents are stopping by tomorrow to bring over the fancy pants rocker my sister use to own. I think my husband was confused to why it wouldn’t fit in our car, or my sister’s until I said it was like a couch. But we will set it up in the room this weekend and hopefully pick up the toy box that sister has that matches the rest of the furniture. Which will hopefully get the bulk of the nursery all tidied up. Oh! And our closet door is finally all painted and can fully shut. Thank goodness.

Next order of buisness is framing some of the art that will be going in there. My Mom did a needlepoint of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle (my favorite as a girl, and today) and Alexa is making a painting. So I am pretty excited to see the final results.


I’ve always loved Asian culture as a kid. I always dreamed about visiting China or Japan. But as I get older, I would love visit many other places. But when I heard that Taiwan was one of the most vegan friendly countries to visit, I got pretty excited. So today I am making my dream vacation to Taiwan, including places to visit and restaurants I would love to eat at.

Yangmingshan National Park

I don’t think Jon and I can not go to some sort of park or nature reservation while on vacation. I like walking, and I like seeing how wildlife varies from place to place. Of coarse this national park seems to have lots of historical buildings and some man maintained gardens. It would be interesting thing to see how different cultures view national parks since the United States tries to keep them for hiking and tourism, but also to preserve land for wildlife. Aside from that, there seems to be lots of springs and a volcano in the park! This would be a super exciting thing to see since I haven’t seen any before.

Food Stalls

Part of the fun of going to Taiwan is that there are some naturally vegan foods in their cuisine. I’ve heard that there is a huge soy milk culture, mostly in drinks that are cold like boba teas. Even Happy Cow lists two vegan food stalls at their night markets. One vegan blogger wrote about all the great food they got from the Keelung Night Market. So this would be something fun that all tourists usually get to do. Things I know I want to try- Stinky Tofu, BaoBing, and Bubble Teas.

Loving Hut

Okay, I know there are Loving Huts all over the world, but let’s face it, there are so many different locations in Taiwan- many in Taipei. I would be fooling myself to think I wouldn’t stop by one of their many locations. Plus, I am 99% sure it would much more authentic Taiwanese cuisine compared to whatever I get in the United States. They also apparently have different products, which might be a nice thing to grab to eat in our hotel, hostel, or fictional Air BnB.

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Juifei Old Street

I mentioned how Jon and I love to just walk? Yeah, just walking around and absorbing culture is our thing. But Taipei is a pretty new city. Many buildings are newer and shopping just isn’t our thing. Many tour guides suggest checking out Juifei Old Street which features tight roads. The area is heavily influenced by Japan, as it was mostly built during their occupation. 

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Ooh Cha Cha

I usually like to keep things very traditional, and keep with only local cuisine. But I would be foolish to think that cuisines wouldn’t change and morph over time. So clearly we would need to keep with the newer restaurant trends. Ooh Cha Cha is a popular spot with vegans and it is organic and local food. Most people point out that it is more on the healthy end of the spectrum but I can imagine that there would be some twists to the foods that an American wouldn’t be use to.

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Temples

Oh man do I love historical buildings. And many of the historical buildings in Taiwan are their temples. I am sure I could spend one day alone admiring the woodwork of one temple alone. There are many different temples in Taipei, so I guess if I was being realistic I would have to make a map of restaurants I want to eat at and look up which temples are nearby. But what is wikipedia suggesting as notable temples? Dalongdong Baoan Temple, Lungshan Temple of Manka, and Taipei Confucius Temple.

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Plants

This is a more American styled restaurant, but let’s face it, mid-vacation I get take-out fatigue. Too many rich foods. So this would be a place to visit at the end of the trip. They serve gluten-free, raw, and very vegetable heavy dishes. By the end of the trip eating a large salad is just what we would need.

Chinese Culture and Movie Center

Jon and I are both big movie fans. So it would make sense to visit an old movie studio. It seems most of the attractions are of old reproduction sets. It would still be pretty cool to see all the different sets. We might have to brush up on our old school kung-fu films to make sure we can recognize some of the sets before the trip.

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Vege Creek

I am a sucker for a sleek design. This is a newer restaurant and seems to have gotten some great reviews on Happy Cow. Their food is a mix of Western and Eastern cuisine. So it really sparked my interest. Apparently you make your own dish, and pick your own veggies for your meal FROM THE WALLS. Yup, you can see all those yummy greens on that back wall. You pick your other food items like tofu, veggies, mushrooms, sauce, etc. Gimmicky? Hell yeah. But that won’t stop me from going ^__~

Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

This museum is suppose to feature exhibits from the various local tribes. Clearly we aren’t going to be traveling far into the mountains or in the rural areas since we really only speak English. So going to a museum highlighting the rural parts of Taiwan would be an easy way to get a better idea of what the island has to offer. Hell, up until today I didn’t even know of the term Taiwanese aborigines, just showing how little I know about cultures outside of my own. But it makes a lot of sense that there would be people living on the island before it became populated with Chinese immigrants.

Has any readers actually been to Taiwan? Any recommended places to check out?


Hello friends! This is Alexa here, and I’m so excited for Vegan Mofo this year. It’s one of my favorite things to look forward too because of all the different recipes I see being posted. My prompt for today, day 11, is “Favourite Cuisine – Where does your  favourite food come from?”

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One of my favorite foods of ALL TIME would have to be sushi. I love all of the diverse flavors you can get from such a small and seemingly simple food. I also love burritos and enjoy the idea that sushi is just a tiny burrito itself. 

Sushi comes from Japan, and while it is probably the most main stream and my favorite Japanese cuisine, there are certainly other Japanese foods that I really enjoy. A lot of the main dishes of Japanese cooking include fish but what I enjoy about it is that it can very very easily made vegan instead. I’ve also loved Japanese culture and history since I was young, so this may have some influence as to why I enjoy the food from that country so much.

I personally haven’t had too many crazy vegan sushi recipes because the sushi places near me have the basics when it comes to that sort of diet (cucumber, cucumber avocado, sweet potato and sometimes something with mango will make an appearance) so I’d like to make a wish list or “bucket list” of vegan sushi rolls to try someday. 

1) While writing this post and gathering all of my thoughts I was talking to Jen and she mentioned that she makes a really great spicy tempeh roll. YUM CITY USA am I right? I’m a lover of spicy food and I tend to lean toward getting spicy rolls when I order sushi, and I wish there was an easier way for me to get access to a roll like that. I’m still learning when it comes to cooking tempeh, and it is one of my favorite meat substitutes, so I’m sure this homemade roll would be absolutely delicious. 

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2) The “Spicy Mang” roll from Beyond Sushi. Jen has been to the Union Square location in Manhattan with her father-in-law (see post here), and while looking at their menu I noticed that they now have several different locations. I wish I had known this the last time I was in the city, I absolutely would have gone and probably wanted to try everything, but this roll stood out in particular because it hits all of my food buttons. It has black rice, avocado, mango, and english cucumber topped with spicy veggies with a toasted cayenne sauce. That sounds like it would be one of my favorite things ever, and now I’m really hoping to try it soon. 

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3) I found another vegan sushi & Japanese cuisine restaurant while looking up recipes online, and now I know where I want to go the next time I am in Los Angeles. This place is called Shojin, and their entire menu is vegan! Two rolls actually popped out at me first, so I’ll just add them both as number three… one being their seasonal “Black Volcano” roll. This roll is made with Spicy tofu, avocado, brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and green chile mixed with ginger, the sauce that comes with it is a spicy red beet and black sesame sauce. The other roll that made my mouth begin to salivate is called the “Crunchy Dynamite Roll” and it has mashed avocado, cauliflower, carrots and asparagus with soy-free mayo. I love the use of cauliflower in this, I feel like sometimes it can be an overlooked vegetable with a lot of potential.

I feel like my mind was just blown and this is why I love the amazing variations in sushi. There are so many different vegetables that combine to make delicious flavors and I feel like the options are almost limitless.  Thank you Japan!

asksjennJen’s note: To add to Alexa’s list- I thought it might be fun to share a few recipes. Including the spicy tempeh roll she mentioned up above. I hope everyone takes a dive into sushi making, which can be hard. But once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder why you had so much trouble from the start.

Books: Vegetarian Sushi Secrets & The Vegetable Sushi Cookbook

Fish Roe: Gingeraid Kombucha Caviar, Faux Roe Stacks, Faux Roe Gunkanmaki

Nigiri: Shiitake Nigiri, Seitan Negimaki

Rolls: Spicy Vegan Scallop Roll, Elephant Roll, Dynamite Roll, Spicy Enoki Mushroom Rolls, Yamroom Rolls, Goin’ Back to Cali Rolls, Spicy Carrot Lox and Avocado Roll, Vegan Cream Cheese and Veggie RollSpicy Tempeh Roll, Eggplant Dragon RollSpicy Shiitake Roll


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Gosh, I can’t believe the results of the election. I am just so disappointed in the United States for making such a dumb vote. No really. I think anyone who voted for Trump over Hillary is an idiot who has no idea how the government, economy, and budgeting works. Period. If you are hiring a person to work, who would you hire? The person with zero skill sets and wasn’t very good at his previous job, or the highly qualified person? I think the thing that scares me the most is what this election symbolizes. I have a very bad feeling there will be a huge rise in hate crimes. I don’t think the government will fail and crumble, but I do think there will be some damage to a lot of human rights movements, the economy, and our government budget.

The saddest part is that I was getting many phone calls from Philadelphia asking if I voted yet. I was once registered in Pennsylvania when I was going to school at UArts. It was exciting to know my vote counted in a swing state. It helped elect president Obama. It felt awesome. And it is sad thinking that I have a voicemail from a woman asking if I could walk around the corner to vote, when I wasn’t registered to vote in that state. Yes, I am happy and proud that Clinton did so well in the state of New Jersey, but it is so depressing that my vote isn’t counting more. If we are lucky there will be a strong movement to change the electoral voting system.

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But I think it is important to keep on moving, so let’s talk about these Kimchi Nacho Tots. I thought about this dish after Olives For Dinner made some gochujang queso. Many people who eat Korean food might think cheese + gochujang seems like a mistake. But it is a pretty awesome combo. Making a platter similar to nachos with tater tots is a pretty American meal. But I prefer midwest method of making a bubbly casserole with the tater tots.

I like to eat these with some corn tortilla chips, lettuce, salsa, and korean pickles. Having the mix of soft melty cheese and potato and crunch cold textures is a match made in heaven. The recipe is pretty customizable, just keep things either tex-mex or asian inspired. Don’t want black beans? Try tofu or beef crumbles. Ran out of salsa? Try making some quick cucumber pickles with rice vinegar and sesame oil.

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For this recipe I used Daiya for the cheesy sauce. I don’t normally using fake cheese in this sort of way, but I ran out of nutritional yeast (oh no!) So this was a lot more rich than what I was use to. You can pick whatever cheese you want, but try and pick one similar to cheddar or monterey jack and it make sure it can melt. If it still isn’t your thing, feel free to use nutritional yeast. No biggie.

As for gochujang, it is an important part of the dish. It is a fermented chili paste that is popular in Korean cooking. The taste is pretty unique compared to other chili pastes out there. Luckily it is becoming increasingly more common place in groceries stores so you can grab some. If you live near a Korean or Asian food market you might be able to find MANY different kinds of gochujang. You can even pick from heat levels. If you don’t like hot, I suggest trying to get a mild version and using the max amount. If not, just cut down on the amount.

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If you still can’t find any gochujang, I recommend checking out my cheater’s gochujang recipe, that I listed below. It still uses Korean pepper, but that is much cheaper to get from Amazon online than a bottle of paste. 

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Yesterday I fudged the prompt a little to cook from a region that I don’t eat food from often- Indonesia. While flipping through the Indonesia chapter of The Asian Vegan Kitchen I saw this weird Avocado Espresso Shake. I figured I really don’t know much about Indonesian cuisine, and making it would be a fun and easy thing to do.

I am sure most people know that sweet avocado shakes aren’t uncommon in Asian culture. If you visit a boba tea shop you will probably see avocado as a flavor. When I visit a pho restaurant, my husband always gets an avocado shake. So what makes this so interesting? I’ve never seen it paired off with espresso. 

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Now the recipe originally calls for 4 avocados which seemed like a lot to me. Yeah, it makes 4 servings, but I guess if the avocados are small? It also got me wondering, are they using haas avocados in Indonesia? There are LOTS of types of avocados out there, but in America we kind-of only know about haas avocados. So I thought it would be fun to use something different- the Florida avocado.

I’ve talked about it before on the blog. Here are the basics. Florida avocados tend to be much cheaper per pound than haas. The skin is light and smooth, and it doesn’t get as dark as it ripens like a haas avocado. The size is also huge. As you can see, the avocado is as big as my hand and fingers. Since the flesh has more water and less oil than haas avocados they get the nickname slimcado. Don’t be fooled! They are not some weird hybrid created for our fat phobic culture!

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Why do I love the Florida avocado? Well, for starters, since I live on the east coast, they need less shipping than the haas avocados from California. Also, during the offseason in the winter, most avocados will be shipped overseas. But Florida avocados are just coming into season. When visiting Florida in late December all I saw were these huge avocados and citrus fruits at market stands. 

And since the flesh is a little different you want to be really patient with these guys. Cut into them too early and you get a yucky watery fatty bland fruit. But if you let the fruit get soft you can make a pretty decent guac. Cut it when it is still slightly firm, it is much easier to cut in cubes and sticks for salads, wraps, or sushi. And they are always awesome for smoothies.

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So aside from the avocado switch, I used regular brewed coffee in here. Not many people have an espresso machine, and I know we all have those days where we don’t drink all the coffee we brew. I recommend using the “sludgy” coffee bits from a french press for the strongest flavor. I love being able to reuse it since it gives the maximum flavor, and let’s face it, it is too gross to drink normally.

I will give you heads up, this shake will be really thick and oddly addictive. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the drink, but when I had my first sip, I lost my mind. It makes a great shake for the morning with lots of fats to keep you full. You get 45g carbs, 9g fiber, 16g fat, and 5g protein. You can cut down on the carbs by halving the agave syrup or using something like stevia (which then cuts down to around 13g carbs.)

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As you can see there are lots of great vitamins in avocados. I always forget how healthy they are until I plug them into Cronometer. Again, my numbers are calibrated for a 9 month pregnant lady, so the percentages are going to different for you. 

You can also fancy up your drink by adding chocolate swirls on the side of the glass. This is a common Indonesian practice, and it makes you look impressive. And if you want a thinner shake, feel free to add more soy milk or water. And you can always add more ice, though you might have a hard time blending.

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Happy Election Day! At least for the Americans. I have an exit strategy if Trump wins. I’ll dig a hole and living in the country on the other side. Sadly, New Jersey ends up in an ocean with no islands nearby. Plan busted. The closest one is Australia, and I thought that there are plenty of Vegan MOFOers from Australia. They probably all posted about local dishes yesterday. So I thought I would pick another country nearby- Indonesia (technically that would be opposite of Brazil… SOOOO not close to New Jersey XD)

I haven’t cooked much of their cuisine, but I have three cookbooks that have food from the area (or at least inspired food from the area.) One is Ani Phyo’s Raw Asian cookbook, okay so the authenticity is a stretch! The other is a cookbook that goes through the culture of Southeast Asian food in detail. It isn’t vegan, at all, so finding recipes were hard. But it is really interesting as they give information about the local produce and customs, so it was interesting to flip through it again.

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So I took most of the recipe’s inspiration from The Asian Vegan Kitchen. Overall, I find the recipes too oily and bland. In fact the Indonesian recipe I reviewed was way too oily from two cans of coconut milk. Yuck. I kind-of took the hint with this recipe, and balanced the recipe out. So you might be thinking what makes an Indonesian curry different from other curries?

Well, it is similar to any of the Thai Red Curry recipes you’ve might of made. But this is super easy and fast to make. For starters the veggies, tempeh, and tofu are chopped in very large pieces. This makes prep time very minimal. Also the curry paste (or lodeh paste) uses candlenuts. I remember seeing them once at an Asian Food Market, but I wasn’t going to make another stop for the recipe. You can use macadamia, brazil, or cashew nuts. I used cashews.

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The recipe also uses salam leaves and galangal. I have never seen any of these ingredients in a store before. I omitted it from the recipe, but if you find powdered galangal, try sprinkling into the recipe. As for salam leaves, I subbed it with some curry leaves. It isn’t authentic, but I am sure many Indonesian immigrants are making similar substitutes.

Nutrition? Yeah, I’ve been really into counting the nutritional information about food lately. Sorry. A quarter of a recipe is roughly 41 grams of carbs (9 grams of fiber), 31 grams of fat (hello coconuts and cashews!), and 28 grams of protein. I have a feeling the fat counts are a little high, and will depend on what type of fried tofu you buy. You can sub it with baked tofu as well.

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As a quick reminder, these percentages are based off of my current pregnant state. You maybe getting a larger amount. If you are actually tracking your nutrition, I suggest looking at the mg units. The obvious thing that will fill more of your nutritional needs is the iron. I am pregnant so I need a minimum of 27 mg while most menstruating women need 18 mg, men more like 8mg.

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A tomato pie right before it goes into the oven

A tomato pie right before it goes into the oven

*A QUICK NOTE FOR US CITIZENS* Go out an vote tomorrow! Even if you don’t like Hilary or Trump, there are lots of local elections that you should pay attention to. And if you aren’t sure about who you will vote for, I STRONGLY recommend checking out the videos made by John Greene comparing Trump and Hilary’s policies to each other. In America sometimes we vote with who we “like” not who is better qualified, will do a good job, or have good policies. There is a very good video on Tax Policies, Health Care, and about the unlikeness that election will be rigged. That being said I hope that everyone votes tomorrow.

Coming up with a local food was a little hard. New Jersey’s culture is a little hard to pin point. We are a very diverse state, but we are also very segregated. We have lots of strong communities of immigrants. I’ve seen a wide range of ethnic supermarkets ranging from Korean, South East Asian, Chinese, Indian, Polish, Caribbean, African, Mexican, Italian, or some sort of mix (weirdest is the Chinese-African market, which might still be open). And looking past the international food contenders, New Jersey is heavily divided by their food influences between North (aka New York City) and South (aka Philadelphia).

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I grew up where Alexa is, and you might notice our reviews for restaurants in Fair Haven, Red Bank, and Asbury Park. These places are super dependent on NYC, even though it takes over an hour to get there. Fun fact, we actually fairly close to New York City- if we took a boat into the city. But otherwise cars, trains, and buses need to go west, then north, the east again. But I am now living in South Jersey, which means I am finding out weird traditions. Like apparently there is a Philly Style Bagel (it’s boiled in beer), irish potatoes, water ice (known as Italian Ice to everyone else),  cheesesteaks, and soft pretzels. Heck, you will probably hear about other various Pennsylvanian Dutch cuisines such as  scrapple and apple dumplings being “Philly foods.”

But it wasn’t until I moved out of Philly I heard of a tomato pie. I was complaining of the crummy pizza selection in Philly and South Jersey when my co-worker suggested I grab a tomato pie from Brunos. He was vegan, and I was eating mostly vegan at the time. I figured tomato pie was a term for a cheeseless pizza. But it isn’t. It is a term for a SPECIFIC kind of cheeseless pizza. There wasn’t really any tomato pies in North Jersey, but we did have the same style of pizza- we called them Sicilian styled pizza. My friends LOVED that pizza, but I wasn’t a big fan. Apparently it was just too greasy, because once you remove the cheese it is perfect.

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I’ve already featured a tomato pie on this site before. It was in the Southern method where you use a pie crust (side note there is a sweet pie using green tomatoes?! I should try that next year!) Well, mine was more like a cobbler with a corn bread crust on the top. So don’t expect a pizza when you order a tomato pie in the South.

I didn’t post a recipe, as this was my first time making it. I think I can tweak it to make it more like my favorite tomato pie. But it is a pretty easy recipe to make, I used the one from Serious Eats. I suggest making it on the weekend. It isn’t labor intensive but there is a lot of wait time. I made the dough in the morning, and about 2 hours before you eat, make the sauce and start proofing the dough. 

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Nervous about how to serve the pizza? Technically the pizza is served at room temperature, and you cut it in big square pieces (the dough is rolled out in a rectangular pan.) Traditionally the dish is pretty much vegan. Sometimes people use butter to sauté the sauce, and some people sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Some pizza shops like to sprinkle cheese on the dough, then place the sauce on top. So ALWAYS ask if the tomato pie is vegan.

Anyone have a local cuisine that has a misleading name as well?


Let’s be real here- there is something comforting about a warm milky drink. I am a little hesitant to say that this is a list of lattes since these are all missing the main ingredient in a latte: espresso. I have a small espresso machine at my house, but let’s face it, most people don’t. And truthfully I don’t have the cash to go to a coffee shop everyday. Not to mention that kills a lot of time. So I’ve become a big fan of making alternative hot milk drinks. I’ve even done a recipe roundup in the past of various hot chocolates, which I recommend. I tried to feature recipes that were pretty unique.

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First can I point out these coffee free lattes are so comforting that I’ve already posted quite a few recipes already on the blog. I totally recommend checking them out. Many are focused on traditional Asian lattes that are popular such as a sesame latte.

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So let’s talk about this recipe roundup. If I am feeling a little down, or things are moving slowly in the morning, I love to have a nice warm cup in my hands. Hell, sometimes I don’t even drink the cup I have. I am sure I could pour myself a cup of hot water and hold it to boost my mood. But if it is filled with a warm milky drink? Well that makes everything even MORE amazing.

So what are the requirements? Well, the drink needs to have a milk or creamy consistency. All need to be targetted for vegans, or dairy free lifestyles. There is a drink or two that says to use honey, but will most likely suggest a substitute that is vegan. And finally there is no espresso in these drinks. I am not against it, but most folks don’t have an espresso machine at home. So let’s get to the reviews!

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Raw Cacao + Goji Berry Latte

Can I first point out that The First Mess website is HORRIBLE for a mobile phone? The ads make it impossible to get to and stay on the recipe in order to make it. I had to copy and paste the text into something else to read it on my phone. Which I don’t think is too much to ask for such a simple and small recipe.

But that technically has nothing to do with how the latte tastes. And let me say- it tastes amazing. This recipe was a little frustrating at first since it makes so little and therefore I had a hard time not boiling the soy milk too much (she recommends almond and coconut milk, which I don’t think would film up.) But it is worth the wait and effort. The date and goji berries blended up nicely, which can be hard. It also then frothed up, and filled up my mug perfectly.

The taste is the perfect amount of sweet. Sweet enough to be paired with unsweetened milk and cacao, but not too sweet that your mouth feels like it needs a brushing. I can see many people wanting to add another date to the mix though. The goji berries added just enough taste, complexity, and body to the drink. I will most likely make this again.

Bottom Line: Love, love, love it.

Warming Gingerbread Latte

This was a pretty straight forward latte- toss everything into a blender, blend, then heat. So it didn’t take too long to do. But as I tossed all the ingredients into the blender I had this nagging feeling “man, this is a LOT of fats in here.” I am not a huge fat phobic person, and hey this is just a treat right? Well, I think my hunch was right- this latte was thick. I think it would be easy to fix- just get rid of the cashews. I ended up using a hazelnut milk, and there is coconut milk (she doesn’t specify the low-cal fridge versions) so I think there is plenty of fat to keep that body.

As for flavor? I think I would add a dash of molasses, but otherwise it is pretty tasty. I really like the idea of a homemade espresso free gingerbread latte. Actually you could easily make this drink and toss in a shot of espresso and get great tasting drink. You know what might taste even better? Some blackstrap molasses rum or snap liquor (a speculoos cookie inspired liquor). I mean this is more of a dessert latte, right?

Bottom Line: Maybe skip the cashews? So thick. A little booze would help

Pumpkin Spice Turmeric Latte

Vegan Richa and Food by Mars both posted a Pumpkin Spice Turmeric Lattte really close to each other. So I had to try both out. Just putting out there- I like Richa’s better! I like her technique of boiling the spices in hot water first, it made everything less gritty. I played around with her steps just a little. I frothed the milk by blending it up in a blender, but I poured the hot water in the blender, to help everything get mixed together.

Overall, I loved the results, but I would make these changes. There is no pumpkin in her recipe, and I would like to add it in. Blend it up with the milk, it adds flavors and body to the drink. Just 3-4 tablespoons worth. Not that much. I also only added a tablespoon of sweetener, and I probably would use none if I had used regular milk. Otherwise, this is a great latte drink.

Bottom Line: Add a smidgen pumpkin puree, and it is perfect!

Spirulina Latte

So I have been into spirulina for awhile. It gives a bunch of iron to a vegan, and as a pregnant lady, I need iron. So I thought I would give this recipe a try. It is pretty simple, very little milk, a banana, and spirulina tablets. Well, I can safely say it doesn’t work. The drink isn’t hot, which is kind-of what make a latte a latte. Hot milk and flavor. That’s it. So popped this drink in the microwave for a little bit, and it wasn’t bad at first. Then the drink started to thicken up. It became foamy and literally not drinkable. It became more like a bubbly pudding.

Bottom Line: Nope.

Date-Sweetened Vegan Chai Latte with Tahini

I love sweet sesame/tahini foods. I already made a black sesame latte on the blog. But I think this latte is pretty awesome. What is nice about this drink is that it doesn’t use any premade milks in the recipe. You get the creamy texture from the tahini and almond butter. The downside? Oh man, this is a calorie bomb! About 300 calories in the drink, which for some, they don’t mind. Just something to be aware of.

What I really like is that the recipe involves brewing a strong chai tea, then blending it with the tahini, almond butter, and dates. That’s it. Blend it all up and it takes no longer than 10 minutes from turning the burner on the boil water, and cleaning out the blender. That might seem like a long time, but I think it is worth it.

Bottom Line: One of my favorites.

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Pumpkin Spice Turmeric Latte

Golden Latte’s are so frigging trendy right now. And it is a little funny reading a few people throw a little shade at the trend since they aren’t really traditional golden lattes. This recipe is clearly a new twist to it. I was pretty excited about this recipe when I saw it since I’ve been trying to cut caffeine from my diet since I can’t only have so much while pregnant. I also love pumpkin spiced good so it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Sadly Food by Mars just put WAY too many spices in here. The spices over powered the pumpkin flavor and had too much of a bite. What did work for the drink is the body. I like how she uses a blender to froth up the drink and the little bit of pumpkin and coconut oil adds a little body to the drink. I skipped the whipped coconut cream that was on top, but I am sure that would help balance out the spices… but it probably wouldn’t be enough.

Bottom Line: Too many spices