Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Vegan advice

As I have said in my previous post, I am vegan.  I'm not here to patronize omnivores, just to talk about veganism.  Like, my experiences culinary-wise and health wise.  i hope you'll find this random hodge-podge of info useful.
I became vegan summer before last because my father brought home a dead chicken.  Before this, i was vegetarian, and thinking about veganism, but THIS was the thing that made me make the transition.  I knew I would miss cheese, so I binged out on cheddar and smoked gouda.  Then I got sick of cheese and made an easy transition.
Mostly, the reason I'm vegan is because I hate factory farms with a passion, but I am also a singer, and a vegan diet is easier on the voice.
Where do I get my vitamins?  Well, I actually get everything I need from plants.  In fact i recently had a checkup, and the doctor said that my body isn't deficient in anything!
I get my protein from:

  • Quinoa, tempeh, and beans with rice
  • Tofu and veggie burgers
  • Almonds, cashews, and walnuts
  • Legumes and beans.  I especially love peas.
It's very important to get protein.  When I first went vegan, I was tired all the time, and I looked it up, AND boom! Protein deficiency.  Also, I had a bit of an episode at Bryant Park last winter when I was ice skating.  I fell down, got a tiny cut on my hand and fainted.  I wasn't getting enough iron!  Now, I get my iron from:

  • Kale and swiss chard
  • Quinoa
  • Beets
As for calcium, I drink lots of coconut and almond milk, and I am currently obsessed with bok choy.  Broccoli is also an awesome source of calcium.  Dark leafy greens are good for most B vitamins.  For that tricky, tricky B-12, I've been eating raw spirulina bars.  Not all the time, of course, because your body can store B-12 for a long time.  And then I discovered kombucha!  (As a teenager, I steer clear of the alcoholic variety.)  It's so yummy... like fizzy fruit juice!  My favorite flavors are ginger and mango.  And apparently it has anti-cancer qualities, cleanses your liver, and balances your digestive system.  It also has B-12.  For Omega-3, I take flaxseed oil.

I have family in Texas, and I'm actually finding it easier to be vegan down there more and more! (Although veganism is frankly effortless in NYC)  Fruit grows down there.  So do vegetables.  And there are quite a few vegan tex-mex meals.  Beans and rice.  Freshly pressed corn tortillas.  Avocados.  
Salad bars are good, too.  Just get plain lemon balsamic.  Get all the yummy stuff.  Cranberries.  Green apple.  Cucumber.  And if you put avocado, it's a lot more filling.  French fries are also vegan.  And I've actually been to a vegan restaurant, too!  It was called "Spiral", I think.  Oh my god, their burgers are amazing.  

When you're at an Italian restaurant, if you look close enough, you have a few choices.  You can get bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil (which is a fantastic meal by itself, if it's fresh.)  I'm pretty sure bruscchetta is vegan. You can request plain pasta with garlic and oil.  You can get a salad with regular balsamic dressing.  Or a plate of steamed veggies.  
In a pinch, at any restaurant, I get a side of french fries and a side of sauerkraut.  Yup.
When I'm on the run, I usually get some bananas from a fruit cart (4 for a dollar in the city, baby), some falafel, or a bagel with tofu spread.

I'm a pretty big fan of ethnic food.  I love Thai food- especially pineapple fried rice.  A lot of asian food seems to be either meatapalooza or vegan.  Middle Eastern, too.  Nothing gets me like some falafel.  And it's really amazing how tahini can taste if it's fresh, like... buttery sour cream, or something.  Oh!  if you mix baba ghanoush with rice, it tastes SO GOOD.  
Another culinary tip-  Cut a piece of tempeh into triangles.  Cover with water in a pan and simmer.  Then drain out the water, and simmer in about half a cup of teriyaki sauce.  This is extremely delicious and when I first tasted it, It was so yummy I could've sworn I felt teary-eyed.

Oh!  There's this magical substance called "Earth Balance" that is basically vegan butter.  It's non-hydrogenated, non-GMO, and it comes organic.  Um... things to avoid... I guess über processed things. Once every blue moon I'll have a vegan hot dog, or a slice of pizza with fake cheese.  BUT I RARELY DO.  I don't recommend eating that stuff. It's so processed and unhealthy.  Very bad for you.  Which reminds me; only buy organic tofu.  It's a lot better for you.  And if you can, make your own seitan.  I haven't done that before, but I will soon.

Before I finish, I want to tell you guys about vegan baking.  It's not gross, or dry, or weird.  It's absolutely yummalicious and you won't miss the eggs or anything.  One of my favorite recipes is orange cake.  It's FULL of zest, and it's light and delicate.  Then there's an orange glaze that gets soaked into the cake and OMYGOD IT'S SO GOOD.  My (omnivore) family loves it.  here's the recipe http://rtatum0.blogspot.com/2012/01/vegan-orange-cake.html

Then I started to make cupcakes.  A mommylord gave me one of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's cookbooks, and I started to do vegan baking more.  Then Pi Day came around, and I started doing pies...
Before I went vegan, my mom, a hardcore carnivore, was sure that vegan baking was gross.  Whenever she tries anything that comes out of the oven now, her eyes widen and she says, "This is vegan??".  My mom frequently requests vegan cherry pie.  

One last thing: To make vegan whipped cream that is absolutely creamy and fat and sweet, take two cans of full fat coconut milk.  Refridgerate them for a few hours, then put the solid parts into a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, along with vanilla extract and a cup of powdered sugar.  Keep it in the fridge when you're not using it.

I apologize about the sudden switch to "foodie blog" mode, and to vegans and omnivores alike, I hope this post was helpful!

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