I’ve been a vegetarian for quite some time now, and I have always had strong feelings about going vegan, as in, I’d really love to and then I start thinking…of cheese, eggs and Greek yogurt.
Confession: I am a dairy whore. The thought of not eating Habanero Mango Cheese from Horrocks ever again frankly makes me nearly faint. Like most things, jumping in to a vegan lifestyle with both feet is so scary, so I will make small changes where possible and hopefully will get there someday.
My friends Kolene (@suckahpunch) and Jon (@jon_dunn) however, have basically jumped in head first. I’m so proud of them. They began a Twitter group Vegan GR (@vegangr) and a website where they scope out vegan friendly restaurants and vendors around GR and basically run around doing good all day long. I’m serious. Case in point, Kolene’s birthday wish is raising money for Carol’s Ferals a non-profit feline organization which performs TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) services in Western Michigan and Jon works for Best Friends Animal Society where he is the wizard behind their online presence. I know, right? You want to hate them, but you cannot help but love these people! I don’t even LIKE cats and I gave to Kolene’s birthday wish. They are compelling people for the case of a vegan lifestyle. Lots of give in those two. They inspire me to try, at least sometimes, to foster a vegan diet and so perhaps with their help, I will kick my dairy habit and become a vegan too.
I’ve posted vegan baked goods on this blog in the past (Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles) from PPK’s Isa Chandra, but this recipe I took from this little cutie named Claire who runs this blog called Vegan Cooking. Check her out and while you are at it, bake a vegan dessert like this one I’m giving to Kolene for her birthday.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift together dry ingredients. Stir in nuts, egg replacer, bananas, oil and vanilla. Mix well.
Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 45-60 mins (until knife comes out clean). Cool for 5 mins before removing from pan. Cool on wire rack.
I’m sure this is old new to most of you, because I haven’t shut up about Horrocks for about 3 weeks now since my first visit to the grocer in Kentwood. My best find to date, besides their seed packets that are 40% “basically every day” according to the butcher in line behind me, is the Michigan grown lentils, peas and beans.
So what in the world do you do with dried beans? Well, you soak them on a Saturday night over night, then get up on Sunday and cook them about 70% done (while you are ironing or doing laundry) drain, dry, cool and freeze in bags to add during the work week to delicious stoups, soups, stews, tacos, casseroles, curries, etc. They will finish cooking in the pot of whatever delicious finished item you create. Why do this? Less sodium, a better quality, whole bean in your dish, AND they are CHEAP! From one bag of great northern beans, dried, I got 9 ziploc bags of cooked beans (2C per bag) to enjoy.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to make a lentil stew with white beans from a local grower, surely by this time, you know who I am referring to. Eat. More. Dried. Beans. Save a few bucks, help a local grower, and serve a higher quality product. Oh, and cross your fingers that Horrocks will hire me part-time this summer to feed my foodie addiction; I applied today.
In an effort to get Spring to hustle up a little, I bought asparagus today from my new fave food store Horrocks on 44th and Breton in Kentwood. It’s not quite Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it is a fine substitute. When I saw asparagus was on sale, I started dreaming of my fave stir fry recipe from Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks.com. When I think of stir fry, I think of this recipe. Salty, sweet, crunchy, tart, easy to add ingredients to, a great clean out the fridge starter recipe and very, very pretty, super green. It just reeks of good for you. And if you serve it over soba noodles or brown rice, it will net you 2 dinners and 2 lunches. Enjoy!
Asparagus Stir Fry
toasted sesame oil
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed 1/2″
1 cup shelled edamame
1 hand full pea pods
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger (peeled)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
a couple big pinches of fine-grain sea salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 big handful of toasted cashews, chopped up a bit
a few handfuls of spinach, or chopped kale, or chopped chard
zest and juice of two limes
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 small handful fresh mint, slivered
1 small handful fresh Thai basil, slivered
Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. Alternately, you can do this in a dry non-stick pan – one of the few occasions I still use non-stick. When it is hot, add the tofu, and cook until golden – a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.
Add another (generous) splash of oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, edamame and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and spinach and stir-fry for another minute, or until the spinach wilts. Return the tofu to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the hoisin sauce. Cook for another 10-20 seconds, stirring all the while.
Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed. I like to serve this over soba noodles or brown rice.