December 27, 2008

Not-Too-Sweet Yams and Mustard Brussels Sprouts

My Christmas dinner was unfortunately high in the boring bland traditional Christmas dishes and low in the  exciting delicous traditional Christmas dishes, so, feeling unfulfilled a couple days after the big meal I decided to make what I consider two crucial components to a holiday meal: sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. For Thanksgiving I mashed sweet potatoes with coconut milk and brown sugar and it was delish but a bit more "candied" for my tastes. This time I wanted them a little less sweet and that I could see myself making often and quickly. 

Not-Too-Sweet Baked Yams

4 yams
1 C coconut milk
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 small can mandarin oranges
1/2 C pecans

1. Preheat oven to 400. Stab a few slits in the yams to help them cook evenly.
2. Bake for 45 minutes.
3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.
4. Once the yams are soft take them out and cut one long slit lengthwise and make a hollow basket shape. Fill with the coconut milk sauce.
5. Sprinkle pecans and enjoy!

Mustard Brussels Sprouts

30 brussels sprouts
1.5 T yellow mustard
1/2 t dill 
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 t lemon juice
2 cloves roasted garlic
1t salt
1t pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350. Boil sprouts for 1 minute, take off heat ad let sit.
2. Put in oven for 15 minutes.
3. mix the rest of ingredients with the roasted sprouts.
4. Enjoy!

December 19, 2008

Christmas Oatmeal

I was feeling festive when I woke up the other day and decided to make my breakfast Christmas themed. It's like a gingerbread cookie that's warm and creamy. It's super easy and smell as delish as it tastes.

Gingerbread Oatmeal

1 cup quick cooking oats
2 cup water
1 tbs molasses
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 C soymilk
1/4 C dried cranberries
1/4 C walnuts

Prepare oats, then add everything else!

December 16, 2008

My Favorite Food Veganized: Davey Crockett Taco Salad

So I'm finally home again and have a kitchen...AND a camera, what a coincidence! So last night I veganized my favorite family recipe, Davey Crockett Taco Salad. I've been eating this stuff practically since birth and have never/will never grow tired of it. It's the type of meal that you run home from swim practice for when mom tells you she's making it. 
Now I'm not even a big taco salad fan: I never even think of ordering it when I eat Mexican food because I know it will come no where close to this magical dish. Since I can remember, every time my mom or dad even hinted we might be having it for dinner, the day was automatically a good day, no matter what. Now I know your thinking "Why in tarnation is it called Davey Crockett Salad?? And who in the hell is Davey Crockett??" So let me tell you the history of this McDonell family recipe: When my older brother was a confused little three year old he refused to eat this incredible dish (which is now his favorite food too). And he was obsessed with the Davey Crockett movies(go here if you don't know who I'm speaking of: Crockett ). So my dad told him this was what Davey Crockett ate the night of the Alamo. In turn, the gullible little buy decided it must be worth eating if Davey ate it. So it was named Davey Crockett Taco Salad. Now the original version contained ground beef and cheddar cheese, but as my family evolved, the ground beef became tofu. 

Davey Crockett Taco Salad

1 package Yves brand  Veggie Ground Round with taco seasoning
1 can kidney beans
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 bag corn tortilla chips
1 avocado
2 tomatoes
3/4 bottle light Kraft brand Catalina salad dressing
1 cup vegan cheddar

1. Make the ground "meat" as the package directs.
2. Add kidney beans and olives and turn off heat.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.
4. Enjoy!

November 1, 2008


So it's been really really really long since I've posted :(...My camera broke, so it's been hard to find inspiration to write about. But it's okay because I made the BEST SANDWICH EVER in the dining hall the other day and it will make up for a month of so-so posts. So here it is:

wheat bread
sliced tomato
roasted red pepper
BBQ sauce raw tofu from salad bar (sliced)
artichoke hearts
and a sprinkle of S & P

Grilled this puppy on the panini grill and was in a state of euphoria for about 45 minutes thereafter. 

September 26, 2008

Dining Hall Decisions

So, I have decision-making problems: in life and at the cafeteria. Firstly, I couldn't decide whether I wanted to start a campaign to get hand dryers in all the campus bathrooms (as of now we must use paper...major waste of trees, energy, carbon) or start a Vegetarian Club. I did some ground work for both and finally, today settled on the Vegetarian Club since I think it will be funnest. I was thinking: Vegan potlucks, guest speakers, field trips to vegan restaurants, activism and education...more ideas are welcome! Now for the real decision the cafeteria. I just can never pick one thing! But that's why it's all you can eat!

This morning I got:

Tofu scramble (tofu, spices, peppers) but then I went over to the omelet station and borrowed some fresh veggies (bell peppers and tomatoes), salsa and Tabasco. Then I made style. I like to call it Miso Style Oatmeal because it reminds me of miso soup. I put about 1/4 cup oats in a bowl with some sugar, raisins and whatever kind of nuts I can get (this morning was sunflower seeds) then I fill the bowl with hot water. It's like a mixture of my morning tea and oatmeal. Some say watery, I say perfect! I made half a slice of toast w/ crunchy peanut butter, banana and sugar sprinkled on top. I grabbed a slice of melon to top it off. What a nice way to start the day.

And as the day progressed I ate even more yummy cafeteria food. For lunch I had to be creative, there were vegetarian tacos, but nothing vegan. Here's what I had:

Open faced Asian invention by yours truly. I took a slice of bread and spread dijon mustard on it. Then I put a veggie burger on that. Next I layered tomatoes, sprouts, bean sprouts and baby corn. Lastly I drizzled the thing with soy sauce. It was bomb! I will definitely be trying this again. Next time I'm thinking some Asian burger with mandarin oranges? Just a thought. Then I made a green salad w/ mixed greens, bean sprouts, white beets, and italian dressing and a little soy sauce to keep the asian thing going. Then I made what I'm gonna call Italian Cauliflower Bowl. took steamed cauliflower, raw tofu from the salad bar and vegan marinara, olives and mixed it all together. Delicious and healthy, however not asian at all. Oh, well. Of course I finished it off with more PB and banana... once you start on the peanut butter you just can't stop. 

Also, I've been emailing the Dining Administrator to try and get hooked up with some vegan cheese at the sandwich bar and it looks like their gonna help me out! They said their going to purchase "Follow Your Heart Brand", which I've never tried. 

September 23, 2008

Some Cafeteria Creations, Indian food, and a trip to TJ's

So I started off yesterday the day in the cafeteria with this:

Oatmeal w/ Raisins and Peanuts (yes I said peanuts. They were the perfect crunch in the oatmeal. I had this Idea as I passed the salad bar which has peanuts to top salads.)
Sliced Strawberries in Soymilk another creation that came to my mind as I passed the salad bar (which has fruit too in the morn)
PBB aka Toast w/ Peanut butter and Banana....yum is all I can say

So my mom came down and took me out to lunch and shopping Trader Joe's yesterday. We got some really good indian food downtown at a place recommended to me b a fellow vegan back home in Sebastopol.  
Here I am in front of's called Jumping Monkeys

And here's the side salad with some type of delicious dressing.
And this is the Masala Wrap: Crepe with potatoes, veggies and masala spices. This was so good.

Here's what my mommy got me from Trader Joe's for the dorm:

I'll definitely be doing some reviews on some of these Trader Joe's finds soon!

September 21, 2008

Eatin' Good In Neighborhood (and by neighborhood I mean the dining halls)

So being vegan in college is fun. Yes, that's the first word that comes to mind... after one day at least. It's like a puzzle, but not a hard puzzle like a rubix cube, more like a word search or something. UCSC has the dining hall options for the week listed on the net, so I check out my vegan options, and decide what cafeteria I will eat at by that. There's 5 different cafeterias each with different options depending on the night. Here was what I had today:

oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar, and soymilk
watermelon slices

vegan taco: rice, black beans, guac, tomatoes, salsa
salad: fresh mixed greens from UCSC farm w/ tofu, corn, peppers and vinagrette
corn on the cob rolled in tabasco and salt

So I flaked and missed the dinner hours in the cafeteria, so I had to resort to the microwave for dinner. I had this Indian chickpea thing which was probably better that the dining hall food and all I had to do was press a couple buttons! It's a premade package from Trader Joe's called Indian Fare: Punjab Choley and was delish and spicy! I also had some fruit I slipped in my bag from the dining hall and my trusty Trader Joe's tamari almonds.

Vegan Lesson #1: There's way more vegan food and most of it rocks....and corn on the cob rolled in Tabasco rocks too!

1st Day of School, 1st Day Vegan!

Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz

So I don't have time to write much about this life changing event, but it went quite well! Went out to lunch at a vegetarian burger joint called Saturn Cafe in downtown Santa Cruz and got a vegan BLT and tortilla soup which were both good. Then had dinner in the cafeteria: Vegan Chili (muy bien), salad (greens with tofu, beets, and vinaigrette) and a pb and j. Then of course I got hungry and had trail mix back at the dorm.......success! Hopefully more, better posts coming soon!

September 9, 2008

Emma's Yellow Raisin Cookies

One thing I'm gonna miss about home when I live in the dorms is my oven. I love baking: everything from Linzer Tortes to Red Velvet Cakes. So when I had some free time on my hands today I decided to make my first batch of vegan cookies.
So my dad makes the best carrot cake in the world. Hands down. No question. So when I was deciding what type of cookies to make I took some inspiration from some of the key ingredients in his recipe: yellow raisins, nutmeg, coconut. They have a basic chocolate chip cookie base(no chocolate chips obviously!), but I added my own ingredients and then messed with dough for the right consistency. These rocked! No really these we're so good, like chocolate chip cookies blended with snickerdoodles and then some new flavors. They were crunchy on the outside and doughy on the inside, just how I like 'em. The perfect treat with a nice cold glass of non-dairy milk!

Emma's Yellow Raisin Cookies
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 cup raw white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup shredded coconut

1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp. powdered sugar

1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Set over to 350.
2. Mix first 7 ingredients.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix in a mixer.
4. Make 1 1/2 inch diameter balls and put on greased cookie sheet, press lightly with flat surface.
5. Mix topping and sprinkle over cookies.
6. Bake for about 12-18 minutes, erring on the less time. (better to chewy than too hard!)
7. Let cool and eat!

I will definitely be making these again, and probably within the next week, since after that I'll have no oven!

September 8, 2008

Spicy Peanut Ramen: Dorm Friendly!

So I was feeling lazy yet creative yesterday and decided to make my first vegan-prep recipe. We had left over Top Ramen from backpacking, so I decided to give the college student's favorite meal a vegan makeover. It was undoubtedly a major success. I used all items I will have in my dorm room (if I nab a lemon from the soda area in the cafeteria) and it was wonderful. In fact, I saved the three bites I didn't eat so I could have them later.

Spicy Peanut Dorm Room Ramen

1 package ramen (any flavor since we wont use flavoring)
1.5 T creamy peanut butter
1 C + 2 T water
1 tbs soy sauce
1t lemon juice
2t rice vinegar (or more lemon juice)
1/2 t hot sauce
a few chunks tofu (I used Willowood Brand spicy Thai flavor)
2 chopped baby carrots
2 chopped green beans or any crunchy veggie I can find
handful of crushed nuts (I used Chili Lime Cashews from Trader Joe's)

1. Crush ramen in package. Dump contents into bowl with 1 cup water and microwave for two minutes. Drain excess water.
2. Add peanut butter, rest of water, lemon juice, vinegar and hot sauce and mix well.
3. Sprinkle rest of ingredients on top.
4. Enjoy.

This was quick, CHEAP, delish, kinda healthy and good cold too! What more could a vegan college student want??

September 4, 2008

A Long and Exciting Road: The Vegan's Hundred

Well this looked kinda fun. And it was... It was humbling to see how little I've experienced and exciting to see realized how how much I have to explore!
1. Natto

2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. Peanut butter & jelly sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas
Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies
42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. PiƱa colada
58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu
69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies
73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate
77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes
83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds
87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi
93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon
95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

August 18, 2008

Doin' Some Research

So now that I have this nifty fridge I've been thinking about what the heck I'm gonna fill it with. I want things that will last so I can buy it all beforehand (with my parents ;) ) and hopefully not spend too much money on food while I'm down there. So I'm making a preliminary shopping list of vegan unperishables that I love now...hopefully I will be discovering more soon:
-tofu dogs!
-Morningstar brand links
-fake chicken strips
-bbq sauce
-veg mayo
-Amy's brand breakfast burritos
-Amy's vegetable pot pies

And I was excited to discover this site so I can keep eating junk food even when I'm vegan!! This is a list of 'accidentally vegan' food (mostly junk)(but also mostly delicious).


And then I researched some common animal ingredients masked by innocent sounding names. I need to get familiar with these names: 

pasta (many have eggs)

One recipe (if i can call it that) I make often when I'm feeling uncreative, tired, or protein deprived is my tofu dog salad. I just now realized it's vegan and perfect for college:

2 chopped tofu dogs 1 tbs hot mustard 2 tbs dill relish
1 tbs vegan mayo
1/2 c pinto beans 1/2 c cooked spinach

mix it together and microwave for 40 seconds. simple, healthy, yummy, dorm friendly.

August 9, 2008

A First Step

So I began the preparation for veganism today: I bought a fridge and a microwave for my dorm. I figure I will want to have some vegan food staples in the fridge just in case the dining halls are unbearable or just to keep some snacks. Even though I'm wary of microwaves, the feeling of hot food somehow outweighs the risk of brain cancer. I'm in the process of inventing some good cup of noodles recipes that will hopefully come in handy at school.
I also heard a great clip on NPR the other day, which turns out is actually entertaining once I finally realized it's okay to like something my mom likes. This short clip is about why vegetarianism makes since. Even my mom was moved by this blip. She uses all information I know, but puts it quite eloquently:

Plus it turns out this lady has a podcast too

August 8, 2008

How It All Started

I thought I could start off by letting you all know how I became a vegetarian. My college application essay happens to do a pretty good job of telling the story and even a little more! Here she is:
A Grown-Up Vegetarian
When I dozed off in the backseat, I had a feeling I’d be awoken unpleasantly. I figured my neck would ache or my little sister would wake me up for an I Spy rematch, or maybe the 95° heat would finally get to me. I, however, was roused by a smell. I looked around. There was only tan colored dirt for as far as I could see. “What is that?” I asked my dad, the only other person awake in the 1989 Honda Accord. The worst stench I could imagine had seeped into our car. He chuckled. I pressed my face into the pillow separating me from my sister in an effort to snuff out the odor. After ten suffocating minutes, I lifted my sweaty face from my pillow. The view had completely changed. We were surrounded by tens of thousands of cows. These cows were enveloped in mud, splattered with manure and crammed so tightly, there were barely inches between them. These weren’t the convivial black and white dairy cows I was used to seeing in my native Sonoma County either. They looked sick and demoralized, jammed into a mud pit. My dad came out of his silence and explained that we were passing Harris Ranch, one of the largest beef producers in America . He said the smell was a blend of cow feces, urine and blood. Moments later a signed popped up, reading, “Harris Ranch Steakhouse: Next Exit”. How could anyone in their right mind eat a steak (right?) just a few minutes after enduring that smell and witnessing the abused cows with their own eyes? How could I ever eat meat after experiencing that?
On the drive back home we passed the “Ranch” again. Although the smell was equally potent, this time it didn’t blind me to other twisted aspects of the massive slaughter house. I wondered how it would feel to be one of those many cows, not knowing fresh air, water or grass. I couldn’t bare to think of their short, uncomfortable, fly infested lives. My commitment to vegetarianism was born that day. Not only did the scene revolt me, I also hated the idea of victimizing these innocent animals for my own selfish pleasure.
Eight years ago I chose to become a vegetarian because I couldn’t bare to eat animals that smelled so horrible. As I’ve matured, my dedication to avoiding meat has been unwavering, but the reasoning behind my commitment has evolved.
My ideals strengthened when I researched the effect of the meat industry on the environment. What started as a mild interest in an editorial on the destructive tendencies of the meat industry became an obsession with finding out every detail about the industry. It was like uncovering landmines; I was appalled with the facts, but, at the same time, glad I knew that the problems existed. I annoyed my friends with horrific updates on the meat industry’s greenhouse gas output, or numbers comparing the water usage of a single human to that of a single livestock animal. Many of my friends ignored the information, just nodding, and then changing the subject. However, some were genuinely interested. A couple of friends even gave vegetarianism a try after being bombarded with my information condemning the industry.
Learning about the meat industry has not only activated me related to that industry, but this awareness has also caused me to investigate (be curious about?) the impacts of other industries or practices on our planet, and has born a lifetime environmentalist. Through this experience I’ve gained a deep desire to understand problems in our world. I strongly believe that if we don’t know of a problem, it’s impossible to with a solution. This craving for information has brought about a habit of waking up twenty minutes earlier every morning, because I’m eager to read the daily paper. It’s caused an every increasing pile of magazines and pamphlets on my bedside table, and also a fervor to aid in the solutions. These last two years I’ve become increasingly more aware of the impact of my choices on the larger world, whether it’s the water I drink, the gas I pump, or the clothes I buy. I’ve come to realize that it is my duty as a human being to make choices that have a positive effect on our Earth.
Through the years many of my values have evolved. Although vegetarianism has been a priority all along, my incentive for the commitment has greatly matured. Now when people ask me why I became a vegetarian, I still tell them it all began with a stink. But when people ask me why I remain a vegetarian, I tell them it is an expression of who I am and how I feel about our planet.

Well here goes nothin'...or somethin' rather!

The countdown has begun! 37 days until I stop eating all animal products. September 20 I leave for college (UCSC) , become a vegan, and lose my precious 1998 Volvo sedan. I'm scared but excited. Right now I eat yogurt twice a day and cottage cheese non stop and most of my favorite foods contain cheese. So I know this wont be easy, but this is why I'm starting my research now. I need to learn what will be available to me in the cafeterias and hopefully figure out some creative and crave-worthy meals to make with what I have.
Even though it will be no walk in the park, I'm headed to the right college for going vegan. At the orientation for college I chatted with some of the dining hall people and learned that they're actually very attentive to vegetarians, and often have options for vegans. For the next while I will be researching vegan products, what dining halls offer, and keep up to date on animal rights issues to fuel the fire.