Tag: 30-day vegan challenge

How to Make Delicious Bruschetta!

Black Olive and Cashew Cream Bruschetta

Can you tell Italian cuisine is on my mind? Between our trips to Italy and my Italian cuisine podcast series, I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes: bruschetta.

Traditionally, bruschetta features tomatoes and basil, but bruschetta itself just means “burnt / toasted bread,” so really, we can do whatever we want.

BUT, you can’t say broo-SHET-a. The “ch” sound in Italian is a hard “k” sound (like Chianti or Gnocchi), so it’s pronounced broo-SKET_a.

Ingredients

🌱2 tablespoons olive oil
🌱3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
🌱2 shallots, finely minced
🌱Salt and pepper, to taste
🌱1/4 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
🌱1/2 cup pitted black (or kalamata) olives, finely minced
🌱1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
🌱1 whole grain baguette, sliced
🌱Olive oil for brushing
🌱Basil Cashew Cream (see below)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.

2. Add the oil to a large sauté pan, along with the garlic, shallots, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Cook over medium heat until the shallots begin to glisten, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and olives, and sauté for 3 minutes more.

4. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and turn off heat.

5. Lightly brush both sides of the bread slices with oil.

6. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until about 5 to 7 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Spread a generous amount of cashew cream on each bread slice, and carefully spoon the olive mixture on top.

8. Sprinkle with some minced basil.

MANGIA!

Basil Cashew Cream

Because the cashews have to soak for at least an hour, you will want to factor that in to your total prep time.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (300 g) raw cashews soaked in 3 cups (720 ml) of water for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water

Directions

Once the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse them in a strainer.

Place them in a food processor, along with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and basil. Turn on the machine, and let it run for a few seconds to start combining the ingredients.

Add most of the water, and process until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes, turning the machine off periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Before adding all of the water, I like first seeing what the consistency is; it’s always easier to add more than it is to take any out!

Salt, to taste. The consistency should be thick but spreadable.

For Your Modification

*Instead of basil, add chives, dill, parsley, or any combination you desire.

*Add finely chopped sundried tomatoes and/or olives instead of or along with the fresh herbs.

For Your Information

It will keep well in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.

Did you make this bruschetta recipe? Let me know what you think in the comments!

From Excuse-itarian to Vegan

In this episode, I address a few of the typical excuses people have when it comes to becoming vegan — from “I don’t really eat a lot of meat, dairy, and eggs” to “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” See if any of it resonates with you. 

AFFILIATE PARTNERS

Nama Juicer — Use this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.

Plaine Products — Use this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.

Complement — Use this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

Why 30 Days Vegan?

In this episode, I share my thoughts about why going vegan for 30 days can change everything.

AFFILIATE PARTNERS

Nama Juicer — Use this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.

Plaine Products — Use this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.

Complement — Use this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

Staying Healthy — Physically, Emotionally, Mentally — During (and After) a Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-down have added stress and strain to our bodies, hearts, and minds. Listen to this episode for ideas for staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally during this time and always. 

AFFILIATE PARTNERS

Nama Juicer — Use this link and coupon code COLLEEN10 and get 10% off my favorite juicer.

Plaine Products — Use this link and coupon code “compassion” for 15% off my favorite zero waste bath and body products.

Complement — Use this link and coupon code “joyfulvegan” and get 10% off my favorite supplements.

Lentil Meatballs {Recipe}

Of course there are commercial vegan meatballs in the store, but in just a short time, you can enjoy a more delicious, more healthful, more affordable, zero-waste, plastic-free version! These are fantastic over traditional pasta or zoodles, pasta made from zucchini!

ADVANCE PREPARATION REQUIRED

Ingredients

2 tablespoons water for sauteing

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup dried brown lentils

2-½ cups water

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds + 3 tablespoons water, blended in a food processor or blender for about 1 minute or until thick and gelatinous

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (Italian-style or plain)

2 teaspoons dried oregano

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste

¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Marinara sauce of your choosing

Directions

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat up the water in a large sauté pan, and add the onion. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for another minute.  

Add the lentils, water, and ½ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. (If there is still some water left in the pot when the lentils have finished cooking, drain it in a strainer. If the water evaporates too quickly for the lentils to properly cook, add a bit more water.

When the lentils are done, place them in the bowl along with the flax seed mixture. Add in the bread crumbs and all the remaining ingredients except the parsley. Taste for salt, and add the remaining ½ teaspoon, if needed.

Mash the mixture with a potato masher or fork until the lentils are broken up and the mixture is sticky enough to hold together when rolled into balls. You want the mixture to be soft but not a paste.

Let the mixture sit covered in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes, up to 24 hours.

When ready to prepare, squish the mixture with your hands. The mixture should be quite wet and able to be formed into balls that will stay together when cooked. If it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it’s too dry, add a little water.

Taste, and add more salt or other seasoning, if desired.

Shape the lentil mixture into balls of your desired size. You can make them large like golf balls or smaller. To create uniform sizes, use a melon baller or small ice cream scoop.

Next, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the same large sauté pan you used to sauté the onions, or use a nonstick pan to brown the lentil balls. Turn your stove to medium heat. Brown the lentil balls on all sides. If using right away, add them to a large pot of marinara sauce. If not using right away, store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Serve with pasta and your favorite marinara sauce with fresh parsley sprinkled on top — or on a hearty roll with sauce and vegan cheese for a meatball sub!

For Your Information

The longer you leave the lentil balls in the marinara sauce, the more they’ll break down, which is still delicious — it becomes more of a “meat” sauce. However, if you’d like them to keep their shape, heat the sauce separately, and pour it onto the pasta and the lentil balls while everything is still hot.

For Your Modification

You can make a gluten-free version with a gluten-free flour of your choice or with rolled oats. Pulse rolled oats in a food processor until they are ground into a powder-like consistency. One cup of whole rolled oats yields the equivalent amount of oat flour.

Soy-free, wheat- and gluten-free (if using wheat-free flour)

The Animals Among Us

The wild animals who live among us are part of our communities; they’re residents and contributors — not outsiders or intruders. Our assault on them can be viewed as harbingers of our larger environmental destiny. If we can’t attend to the animals in our own backyards, the long-term chances for biological diversity in the rest of this world are bleak.⠀

Every animal whose space we share in our neighborhoods — from the diurnal deer (like Atticus here!), squirrels, bees, and birds to the nocturnal foxes, skunks, rats, raccoons, mountain lions, and opossums — face challenges that threaten their very survival every day: noisy leaf-blowers and unleashed dogs, speeding cars and light pollution, rampant habitat loss, and a human species so hostile to their existence we install non-native landscapes they can’t eat, delicious plants they love but are hindered from or punished for eating, and fences that inhibit their ability to travel freely to find food, water, or shelter. ⠀

Biological diversity is declining at alarming rates, and since the underlying cause is easy to identify (human behavior) the underlying solutions are equally apparent. ⠀

A few changes can make all the difference. We can:⠀

*Give plant-eaters a break. Newly planted trees and shrubs WILL be tested by hungry deer, but just keeping new plants protected for the first few years means they can withstand a little nibbling once they’re more mature. ⠀

*Stop poisoning rats. If not because there are more humane ways to deal with uninvited critters in our homes, then because rat poison hurts everyone in the food web. ⠀

*Create wildlife corridors to allow animals to move freely through our yards without risking the dangers of the road. ⠀
⠀⠀
Everything we do has an impact on something or someone else. It’s not that we CAN make a difference in this world. It’s that we DO make a difference. The question is: do we want that difference to be negative or positive?⠀

What are you doing today to make a positive difference?

Minestrone Soup with Kale {Recipe}

The addition of kale in this classic comfort soup makes it even better, certainly more nutritious, and definitely more colorful! PLUS, it’s vegan / plant-based / animal product-free!

The Italian word minestrone refers to a large, hearty soup. The soup itself is part of what is known in Italy as cucina povera — literally “poor kitchen,” referring to the necessity of creating dishes based on what was available and in season. As it has been passed down through the ages, there is no fixed recipe and lends itself to many variations.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil or water for sautéing
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
One 15-ounce can or equivalent fresh diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups white beans (Cannellini, Great Northern, navy)
1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
6 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 cup soup pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, etc.), cooked
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oil or water in a large soup pot over medium heat, and add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the onion turns translucent and the carrots glisten, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute or so, until the garlic begins to smell fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit.

Add the beans, kale, parsley, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the flavors are all incorporated.

Add the pasta, and stir to incorporate. Cook for 5 minutes more, tasting and adjusting the salt and pepper as needed, then remove from heat and serve.

What more fantastic vegan recipes? Have you checked out my cookbooks? 

The Joy of Vegan Baking 

The Vegan Table

Color Me Vegan

The 30Day Vegan Challenge

Yield: 6 servings

Oil-free if using water to sauté, soy-free

Home Composting for Zero Waste Living (in a House or Apartment)

Remarkably, we throw away up to 40% of the perfectly edible food we bring into our homes! According to the Environmental Protection Agency “wasted food is the single biggest occupant in American landfills.” Globally, food waste is responsible for an estimated 3.3 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions.

And vegans aren’t off the hook either! Certainly, animal agriculture is the main contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, but even when we waste vegan food, we’re contributing to methane created in landfills. So, even though we may not be contributing to greenhouse gas emissions by the food we eat, we ARE contributing to it by the food we waste

That’s were composting comes in! Wherever you live — whether in a house or an apartment, whether you have outdoor access or not, whether you garden or not…you can do it!

Here are some top tips for starting to compost at home. (But for LOTS more, listen to the related Food for Thought podcast episode below.)

  1. Decide what type of compost bin is right for you. I’ve been using the Envirocycle Tumbler Composting Bin for 15 years and recommend it! It’s fully enclosed so it can put in a garden, on a patio, deck or a balcony; it comes in mini (17 gallons) or regular (35 gallons); and it’s super easy to use!
  2. Decide where to place your compost bin. Keep it near the kitchen for easy access (or in the kitchen in the case of an indoor worm bin.)
  3. Remember the basic principles of composting: food, oxygen, and moisture. The microorganisms (bacteria, fungi) and macroorganisms (worms) that break down organic matter need all of these to thrive and do their job. “Food” means nitrogen (green materials such as fruit and veggie scraps) and carbon (brown materials such as dry leaves, cardboard boxes, paper bags). “Oxygen” comes from stirring the pile or rotating your tumbler. “Moisture” comes from water or wet green materials.
  4. Create a system for your veggie scraps. Whenever I’m prepping a meal and invariably have scraps, I throw all of those that can be made into a stock directly into a soup pot, and I throw the rest into my compost pail.
  5. Learn what green and brown materials you can add to your compost bin.  Green: fruit and veggie scraps, lawn and grass clippings, flower cuttings, nut shells, fruit pits, grains (including rice, pastas and breads), coffee grounds, and tea leaves. Brown: cardboard, brown paper bags, paper towels, newspapers, toilet paper rolls, bedding from hamster/gerbil/rabbit cages. (Supporters receive a beautiful graphic detailing everything that can go into a compost bin. Become a supporter today for perks like these!)
  6. Chop green and brown materials into smaller pieces. The smaller the scraps, the faster composting takes place. It just means chopping the veggies smaller before putting them in your compost pail and using something like a microshredder to shred brown materials.
  7. Keep a good balance of green to brown materials.  As a rule, add 1/3 green to 2/3 brown materials.
  8. Learn what NOT to add to your compost bin. Animal products, tea bags (many have plastic), glossy papers, bioplastic “biodegradable” cups/bags are just a few of the things you don’t want to add.
  9. Donate your compost! If you don’t have a garden but are creating beautiful compost (as per all my suggestions in the podcast episode), donate it to community gardens, local garden centers, friends, or to the local park!
  10.  Give away your veggie scraps! If you just aren’t ready to compost on your own but still want to reduce your food waste, here is a handy guide to finding out how you can arrange to have your veggie scraps picked up and hauled away! Some cities offer green waste pick-up, and some innovative companies are picking up people’s veggie scraps for them!

                                        ________________________

Herbed Cashew Cream

I was tempted to call this recipe “Basil Cashew Cream,” but I didn’t want to limit you. Consider this delicious spreadable cheese a basic foundation to which you can add any variation of fresh herbs or other ingredients. From The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.

There’s also a version of my cashew cream matched with the Black Olive Bruschetta. It’s sooo good! The photo references are my Strawberry Bruschetta — also in The 30-Day Vegan Challenge — but you can use this cashew cream in many ways, especially as a spreadable cheese. I served it recently for an afternoon tea party I hosted with girlfriends, and it was just perfect. 

Yield: 1½ cups or 12 servings

Note: Because the cashews have to soak for at least an hour, you will want to factor that in to your total prep time.

Ingredients

2 cups (300 g) raw cashews soaked in 3 cups (720 ml) of water for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced basil
¼ cup (60 ml) water

Directions

Once the cashews have soaked, drain and rinse them in a strainer.

Place them in a food processor, along with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and basil. Turn on the machine, and let it run for a few seconds to start combining the ingredients.

Add most of the water, and process until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes, turning the machine off periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Before adding all of the water, I like first seeing what the consistency is; it’s always easier to add more than it is to take any out!

Salt, to taste. The consistency should be thick but spreadable.

For Your Modification

  • Instead of basil, add chives, dill, parsley, or any combination you desire.
  • Add finely chopped sundried tomatoes and/or olives instead of or along with the fresh herbs.

For Your Information

It will keep well in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.

Pregnant with a New Book Baby!

I can’t believe it’s been 8 years since I sold a book to a publisher, and just having done so again just means so much. I’m currently writing In Defense of Compassion: The Joyful Vegan’s Guide to Life in a Non-Vegan World, which will be released sometime in 2019 or 2020 (TBD) by BenBella Books, publisher of such bestselling books as The China Study.

It’s been a long and painful road to get back here, and though I never stopped writing (podcast episodes, self-published works, talks, radio editorials, opinion pieces, blog posts, letters to the editor, articles), somehow being contracted to write a book feels more real. It’s not. But it feels that way.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. More than that, I’ve always wanted to be an author. And even if I never wrote another book, I’d still be that. For sure. And I’m proud of each and every one of my babies.

But having something to say, organizing those thoughts into a proposal, and selling your idea to editors who think the world would want it…it feeds me so much.

The process of wordsmithing my ideas so that they’re succinct and understandable and absorbable and inspirational and actionable (while remaining unattached to the outcome! Ha!) is both maddening and exhilarating! Working toward to goal of birthing these ideas into the world just nourishes my very cells.

Symbolically, I feel like “I’m back,” even though I never went anywhere. But I did go somewhere. And better than being “back,” I’m on the other side. And I’m pregnant with so many books I can’t wait to follow this one with.

And yet, that is just one form of the content that lives in so many other ways: in my podcast, my articles, blog posts, letters to the editor, opinion pieces, and radio editorials. I strive to remain unattached to form, but I guess I’m just not there yet.

I’m just a practicing human. With another book to write!

(yay!!)

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