Category Archives: Cuisine

Specialty Produce in San Diego

Specialty Produce Fresh Foods

Fresh Items From Specialty Produce

Specialty Produce Is The Bomb Baby!

We love Specialty Produce. It’s like our 2nd home. And I’m gonna tell you why. But, first… What can I say? It’s been a while since I wrote a post. My music project has kept me busy. If you wanna check that out (which I would appreciate) please visit: funkcatbrown.com

San Diego Farmers Market Items

Farmers market items

So, now on with my love of Specialty Produce. First of all, they are open like every single day. Holidays and everything. I think the only holiday they close for is Christmas?? But, what really rocks about this place is the freshness and variety of foods they have. I mean the list is endless! They normally sell to restaurants. It’s basically a wholesale restaurant supply place, but they allow the public to shop there. It has ruined going to a regular grocery store for us. They have seasonal items, they have organic fruits and vegetables. They sell locally grown farmer’s market produce. They have things you will not find anywhere else. They have more than just produce!! They have nuts, and beans, and sauces and olives, and chilies, and oils, and Sriracha, and pastas, and grains, and rices, gourmet items, herbs, and more!

Romanesca San Diego

Romanesca

But, I’m just getting started here. The deal is that they have the freshest, choicest, and highest quality stuff. Have you ever been to the grocery store and a lot of the produce seemed like maybe it had sat in the back for a while or maybe had been on display for a little too long? Or maybe it was parked in a truck for a week? Never a problem at Specialty Produce. Since they serve restaurants primarily, the turnover of their product is high and that means you are getting the very freshest of produce. Fresher than a grocery store for sure. In fact when we do get stuff from a regular grocer now we are almost always disappointed with the quality. For example, the lettuce we get there is so fresh it lasts for a couple of weeks in our fridge without even putting in the produce/crisper drawer. Their avocados are really the best I’ve had and are always the perfect ripeness. And I could go on and on about how perfectly fresh all of their food is.

Figs in San Diego at Specialty Produce

Figs in San Diego at Specialty Produce

Variety? Check. They got it. Have you ever gone to like 3 or 4 stores looking for that one thing that might be in season? Not a problem here. They have so much variety it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. So, they have what’s in season, but one of the things I like is being able to get stuff the normal stores don’t carry if it’s not in season. I can always get watermelon and berries year-round at Specialty, for example. Need a case of bananas? They got it. Or a case of honeydew melons. Covered. I wish I could list everything they have here. But, hey… they’ve already done it. Over on their website is a list of everything they have in stock. Ridiculous. Want purple potatoes? Got it covered.

Heirloom Tomatoes at Specialty Produce

Heirloom Tomatoes at Specialty Produce

And prices!! Have you ever been to Whole Foods and bought an heirloom tomato and a Portobello mushroom and it was like $20? Not here. Their prices are amazing. We save so much money by shopping at this spot. No coupons necessary. And the staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable and friendly. Props to the staff! We love them. They are the best of the best and I just cannot say enough about how awesome they have been. You get to know them and it’s nice shopping some place where you feel like family.

Black Garlic in San Diego

Black Garlic in San Diego

Another added benefit is that since they don’t carry all that junk and crap that regular grocery stores do, we aren’t tempted as much to buy processed foods that are bad for us. And another cool thing is that if you want to taste something before you buy it, you can. Recently, I wanted to make sure some new Sumo oranges were as good as they looked, so I peeled one and split it with Mrs. McFly and of course they were so awesome we bought some. Hey, don’t go there expecting a free lunch. I mean be reasonable. But, if you need to taste before you buy, just know that you can do so within reason.

Chili peppers in San Diego at Specialty Produce

Chili peppers in San Diego at Specialty Produce

They even have this badass Specialty Produce App you can download for free for Android or Apple (you can see this stuff on their website, too) that will tell you what’s in season, what they have that’s new, and will give you details about food items that you never even knew about or maybe want to learn about. It will even tell you which restaurants in the San Diego area are using that food item and give you recipe ideas and show where it’s been spotted by other app users on a map of the world! Mind blowing stuff. I have learned so much about food since going to Specialty Produce and here I thought I was a foodie!

Watermelon in San Diego year-round.

Watermelon in San Diego year-round.

What a gift we have here in San Diego and we do not take it for granted. If you want to expand your culinary horizons or are looking for new things to try or hard to find vegetables or fruits or if you need special herbs or tons of something or just want to save money, then go to Specialty Produce and enjoy what they have to offer. It still amazes me that a place like this is open to the public and we are ever so grateful to them for all that they offer the community. If you go there be sure to tell them Funkinutt sent you.

Mushrooms in San Diego wholesale

Mushrooms in San Diego wholesale

And to give credit where credit is due: A special shout out to Rawvana. She is the one who turned us on to Specialty Produce and she was very helpful to us when we were raw for a while. Much love for a sweet spirit. Check out her blog if you get a minute. We have in turn tried to tell as many of our vegan friends about it to pay it forward. Wonderful. Nothing but wonderful. Hey, if you find something amazing, then you share it with your friends, and that is what I’m doing here. I am sharing it with you. Thank you all for reading and maybe I will start posting more. Just maybe. No promises though.

Peaches in San Diego

Peaches

Dufus Extraordinarius

Dufus Extraordinarius

Fresh Fruits and Veggies in San Diego

Fruits and Veggies

Philip Rivers made of fruit

Philip Rivers made of fruit

Pumpkins and squash San Diego

Pumpkins and squash

Black Garlic San Diego

Black Garlic

Stone Fruit San Diego

Stone Fruit

Bananas & Watermelon San Diego

Bananas & Watermelon

Plums & Pears San Diego

Plums & Pears

Plum Heaven

Plum Heaven

Vegan San Diego Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Melons and Plums San Diego

Melons and Plums

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Vegan Banh Mi Chay from Bánh Mì San Marcos

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Sandwich

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Sandwich

When I die, my last meal request would likely be a vegan Banh Mi sandwich. In particular, a vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese sandwich! It even sounds great! Say it out loud! Bánh Mì! — pronounced “Bon Mee”.

I’ve always loved Vietnamese food. Their combinations of spicy and salty, with a touch of sweet and sour, produce that perfect umami flavor perfection that I love so much. Only Thai food rivals the joys of umami and would be a close 2nd for a death bed meal, but a Banh Mi Chay is really my last wish.

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Sandwiches

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Sandwiches

Sure, you can make your own Bánh Mì at home, but they are so inexpensive that I just prefer to let the experts make them and buy Banh Mi from a restaurant, street food cart, or food truck.

One of our favorite places in San Diego is Banh Mi San Marcos. They make these giant Banh Mi sandwiches and it is family owned and operated. The secret to a great Banh Mi is extremely fresh ingredients, especially the French baguette used for the bread, and Banh Mi San Marcos gets it right every time.

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Banh Mi San Marcos

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Sandwich from Banh Mi San Marcos

We order the Banh Mi Chay fried tofu sandwich without mayo and add Vegenaise ourselves in place of the mayonnaise. It comes with the traditional ingredients of cucumber, jalapeño, pickled carrots and daikon, with cilantro, and we like to add Sriracha or chili garlic sauce to each bite. Some Vietnamese restaurants use fish sauce with their tofu or on the sandwiches, so be sure to ask about that to make it vegan. Bánh Mì San Marcos does not use fish sauce on the Bánh Mì Chay. Yay!

Banh Mi San Marcos Menu

Banh Mi San Marcos Menu

Banh Mi San Marcos is located at 706 Rancho Sante Fe Road San Marcos, CA 92078. You can phone 760-599-0177. They don’t have a website, but I’ve included a picture of their menu, which also shows their hours. They are closed on Sundays.

They have some of the best Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwiches I have ever tasted, and I’ve had many. Give them a try or search your local area for a restaurant that serves the Banh Mi Chay fried tofu sandwich. If you’ve never had one then you are missing out on true delight. Do not deprive yourself. Go now! It may very well end up being your death bed last meal request, too.

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Sandwich

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Sandwich

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Sandwich with Sriracha

Vegan Banh Mi Chay Vietnamese Sandwich with Sriracha

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Gnocchi Recipe – Hairy Dumplings with Gardein Beefless Tips

Gnocchi Recipe Hairy Dumplings with Gardein Beefless Tips

Hairy Dumplings with Gardein Beefless Tips

I had to find Gardein recipes because there were some Gardein Beefless Tips that we were hungry for and so I searched some vegan blogs and found a very interesting recipe called Hairy Dumplings. What? Repeat that! Hairy Dumplings? Hunh? Yes, indeed. Hairy Dumplings. This is not really a Gardein recipe per se, but one I added Gardein to with amazing results. The dumplings are really gnocchi and gosh, it is so hard for me to follow recipes exactly (does anyone else have this problem?), so I added a couple of my own touches.

The recipe is from Elisabeth’s vegan blog at Czech Vegan in America and uses gnocchi and sauerkraut. I know it sounds kind of odd at first, but my girlfriend and I LOVED it so much we were wishing we had leftovers! Apparently, it is a family recipe that her grandma and great-grandma make with dumplings and she modified it with the potato gnocchi instead of dumplings.

Gnocchi Recipe Hairy Dumplings with Gardein Beefless Tips

Gardein Recipes Love the Onions!

Now see I usually like my gnocchi recipes to include a vegan pesto or extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and some vegan Parmesan cheese, maybe a little tomato. So, when I read it and saw sauerkraut with gnocchi, I was a little uncertain about that combo. Don’t get me wrong, I love sauerkraut, but I was little hesitant to try it. But, the Czechs really know what they are doing and the ground caraway seeds add a delicious flavor. An added bonus is that it is easy and only takes about 20 minutes to make. Losing weight once you gained it is pretty tough, you need recipes like this one, according to brilliant phenq review, people who know more varied recipes tend to be more thin and healthy. I think Elisabeth should submit this one to the Gardein recipes section on their website. Thanks Elisabeth for allowing me to share this and for the great meal that we will have again and again.

If anyone tries this I would love to hear your comments. I’ve never actually tried any of the Gardein recipes from their website. Have you? Do you have a favorite? Do you have a killer gnocchi recipe I should try? Let me know. :)

Don’t have Gardein? Well, you can make it without it and it would still be awesome or you could try adding seitan instead. It just so turns out that the Beefless Tips were a perfect pairing with this recipe. Enjoy.

~* The Funky Vegan

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 16-ounce package vegan gnocchi
2 cups sauerkraut
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground caraway seeds
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups water
1 small onion, cut into thin circles

~*My additions*~
1 9-ounce package Gardein Beefless Tips
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Prepare this Hairy Dumplings recipe from Czech Vegan In America and the Gardein Beefless Tips according to package directions. Put the dill and the black pepper into the sauerkraut. When done, add the Gardein, top with the onions, and drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the top, then serve. Prepare to be blown away.

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Vegan Pizza – Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza

Vegan Pizza Slices

Vegan Pizza Slices

I love pizza. Most people do. Luckily vegan pizza has come a long way in the last few years. My girlfriend wanted some vegan pizza the other night after a hard day at work. Comfort food? Yeah. So, I looked online and found a pizzeria a few miles away that serves vegan pizza. It’s called Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza in Carlsbad, close to San Diego, CA. They have several locations in San Diego, Southern California, and Las Vegas. See below for important caveats for vegans. Want a free pizza? Keep reading.

Vegan Pizza Sammy's Woodfired Pizza

Sammy's Woodfired Vegan Pizza in the box

I called and asked all the right questions (so I thought – more later) and ordered their vegetarian pizza to go, substituting Daiya vegan cheese for the regular cheese for a $2.00 upcharge and xing the fontina cheese. It had grilled eggplant, onions, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, with a roasted garlic sauce. They couldn’t tell me on the phone which brand of vegan cheese they use. So, we went to pick it up and I spoke with the chef and told him I wanted to be sure it did not contain casein. He was kind enough to check and informed me that they use Daiya cheese. Yay! He said he hadn’t tried it yet and I chuckled and told him it is really quite good. Anyway, thanks for checkin’ chef. Hey, they have gluten-free pizza, too.

The atmosphere at the restaurant was quite nice with a warm ambiance and very busy. They have a little patio with a fire pit and the woodfired pizza ovens are on full display. We agreed we would have to go back for the full experience. We got two vegan pizzas because they are kind of small and there is only one size. We got home and opened the box and a beautiful vegan pizza stared at us and smiled. :) We chowed down.

Vegan-Pizza-CrustVegan Pizza Close-Up

Their Vegan Pizza

Their vegan pizza is excellent. Especially, the grilled veggies. The eggplant had a wonderful texture, much like mushrooms, and the flavor of the roasted garlic sauce with the Daiya cheese was a nice combination. Everything was very well-balanced and tasted oh soo good. Nom nom nom nom.

The crust was pretty good. The crust. Ok. So, after we ate both pizzas I emailed Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza to just triple check all my facts before I posted this up on the interweb. I am new to this whole vegan thing, so I was remiss in asking about HONEY! Bah. Turns out I needed to ask a lot of questions.Lesson learned. See below for important caveats for vegan pizza at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza.

Free Pizza

It would be nice if they DID advertise a vegan pizza on the menu, so that it would be clear to their employees and customers exactly what to order that could be considered vegan. Hey, but now YOU know. Also, their website is not up to date with all of their locations. There are a few not listed on there. You might try Google Maps instead. FREE PIZZA? Join their Insider E-Club on their website and get a coupon for a free pizza with the purchase of a menu item of equal or greater value. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter for deals.

Important Caveats for Vegans

I called and spoke with their corporate chef, Jeff, and got more information. He said they are working on a vegan menu. Hooray! Go Sammy’s. Go chef Jeff. Here’s what you need to know in the meantime.

  • Their regular crust contains honey. Order whole wheat, artisan, or gluten-free crust instead.
  • Their “homemade sauce” is not vegan and contains cheese. You need to specify that you want marinara sauce without cheese.
  • The roasted garlic sauce IS NOT vegan, but was at the time of this writing. They added Parmesan cheese. :(
  • The Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce IS vegan.
  • The veggies are grilled first thing in the morning on a clean grill, but it is the same grill used to grill meat, in case this is an issue for someone.

The verdict. Awesome good vegan pizza. My girlfriend already went back. We will continue trying vegan pizza here in San Diego and I hope to make my own very soon. To avoid any controversy, the pictures here of vegan pizza are not vegan since I didn’t know the regular crust contained honey.

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza Vegan Pizza

Vegan Pizza with Grilled Veggies

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza

Pizza Box

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Roasting Vegetables Recipe – Root Vegetable Edition

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables - Look at that garlic!

I like roasting vegetables because it’s easy and the results have a lot of flavor. Gotta get down to the root of things sometimes to get to the good stuffs. Roasting vegetables of the ROOT variety is one of my favorites, because there is very little fuss over the timing of the different veggies to worry about. As long as you cut them about the same size there is no need to put some vegetables in earlier and then some in later. Roasting vegetables allows you to wander away from the kitchen and do some other stuff.

Roasting Vegetables Potatoes Carrots Garlic Onions

Halfway done - Adding Herbs

This is not so much a hard and fast recipe as it is a basic how to guideline. Feel free to change-up the root vegetables or if you wanted to add something else like asparagus or eggplant you might need to do a little research and factor in the timing of adding other non-root veggie items. Also, I encourage you to play with the herbs and spices. I often do! This is just how I did it this one time. Next time will probably be slightly different. I am not going to give amounts either. Just roll with what you want or got or whatever is in season.

Roasted Vegetables Vegan

Roasted Vegetables Plated

I used cassava or yuca root this time around. Once I had yuca fries at an El Salvadoran restaurant and fell in love with it. What a weird beast, though. You should give it a try. I have only cooked with it a few times, but I dig it. Come to find out cassava is the 3rd largest source of carbohydrates for meals in the world. Right after rice and soft-drinks. :) Ha ha! I am guessing after rice and potatoes, actually.

Roasting Vegetables is Easy

Prep time: depends on the amount of roasting vegetables
Cooking time: 55 minutes
Total time: 70-90 minutes

Ingredients:

Potatoes
Yams or sweet potatoes
Leeks
Sweet onions with stalks still on
Carrots
Japanese turnips
Cassava a.k.a. yuca root, manioc, or incorrectly as ‘yucca’
Parsnips
Garlic whole heads
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Marjoram
Thyme
Sea Salt
Black Pepper freshly ground
Tabasco Sauce to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the carrots. Chop the tops off of the leeks where they begin to turn green. Do the same with the onions and halve. Halve the turnips and snip off the greens, leaving a little stem attached to each turnip. Use the leftover turnip greens for a salad or cook them like spinach or kale. Peel the parsnips. Peel the cassava. Cut the very tops off of the garlic heads.

2. Cut up the potatoes, yams, parsnips, and cassava into similar size pieces. See my pictures for size examples. I wish I had cut my carrots in half. So, cut the carrots in half length-wise.

3. Place all items (except garlic) onto a roasting pan or cookie sheet or multiples of such items if needed.

4. Sprinkle the root vegetables generously with extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste. Then take your clean hands and make sure all the vegetables are well-coated with oil, otherwise they might dry out and no one wants that.

5. Cook at 425° Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, stir well and rearrange vegetables with tongs and try to make sure they get coated again with the olive oil. Add the garlic to the roasting pan and pour about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over the top of each garlic head and add a pinch of salt. At this point add the herbs (in this case marjoram and thyme) to taste.

6. Return the roasting pan to the oven for another 30 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 4 minutes and serve.

What to Serve with Roasted Vegetables?

We often just eat these like this and with nothing else. Yes, they are that good. But, I suppose you could serve them with some seitan or other plant-based protein if you wanted these to be kind of like a side dish. Roasted vegetables are just one of the many reasons I love being vegan.

~*The Funky Vegan

Roasting Vegetables

Roasting Vegetables Prep

Vegetarian Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Veggies Lookin' Good

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TVP Tacos – Textured Vegetable Protein Recipe for Taco Filling

TVP Tacos - Textured Vegetable Protein Taco Filling Recipe

TVP Tacos - Textured Vegetable Protein Taco Filling Recipe

TVP Tacos – Textured Vegetable Protein Taco Filling RecipeBookmark and Share

These vegan TVP tacos or Textured Vegetable Protein vegan tacos are so yummy and easy to make. This recipe uses dried red New Mexican chilies for a more authentic flavor than just using plain chili powder. TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein is the perfect medium for making these vegan tacos.

TVP® is an inexpensive and versatile soy product made from defatted soy flour and will absorb whatever flavors you decide to add to it. Low in fat and high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, with a fair amount of calcium, TVP is also good for you! You can find it at your local health food store in the bulk section or ask if they carry a packaged brand.

TVP Textured Vegetable Protein Uncooked

TVP Textured Vegetable Protein Uncooked

It costs about $2.00 to make this recipe. Compare that to the packaged store-bought taco fillers at around $3.99 each that make half the servings and you just saved yourself some money. You can make a big batch of this TVP taco filling and freeze it for later use or double the recipe and make a medium batch and put the leftover taco filling in a plastic bag in the fridge and use it within a few days. You could top the tacos with your favorite taco additions; perhaps some vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, and lettuce, tomato, and onions. In the pictures with this recipe, we just added a little vegan Daiya cheese and fresh jalapenos to keep it simple and served it with a big beautiful bad ass salad. But the sky is the limit with whatever toppings you choose. Have fun and experiment.

Dried Red New Mexican Chili Peppers

Dried Red New Mexican Chili Peppers

If you don’t have the dried New Mexican chilies, you can substitute dried California chilies or dried Ancho chilies. Worst case scenario, you can’t find any of those dried chile peppers? Just triple the amount of chile powder in the recipe, but be warned, it won’t be quite as Funky Vegan as when you use the real deal chili pods. No, it is not spicy – these chilies aren’t really hot.

Textured Vegetable Protein is also good for making vegetarian chili and some people like to use it as a meat substitute in their spaghetti. But, really there are a ton of great ways to use TVP. Need more ideas for TVP? Do a search for recipes Textured Vegetable Protein. Here’s my recipe:

Textured Vegetable Protein Tacos

Textured Vegetable Protein Tacos

 

Prep time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Total time: 13 minutes

Serves: 8 vegan tacos

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups TVP – Textured Vegetable Protein
2 dried red New Mexican chilies
4 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
1-1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco brand pepper sauce
1 tablespoon chile powder
Juice of 1 lime
1-3/4 cups water

3 ounces tomato paste – optional

Instructions:

1. Remove stems from the red New Mexican dried chilies. Add chilies, garlic, onion, and 1/4 cup of water to a mini-food processor or blender and process until very finely chopped.

2. Add mixture to a 2 or 3 quart sauce pot on high heat with all remaining ingredients for 2 minutes and stir thoroughly to incorporate the ingredients.

3. Reduce heat to medium for 8 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.

4. Remove from heat and serve.

TVP Taco Stuffers - Chili Onion Garlic Blend

TVP Taco Stuffers - Chili Onion Garlic Blend

TVP Taco Stuffers Blend - Chili Onion Garlic

TVP Taco Stuffers Blend - Chili Onion Garlic

TVP Taco Filling - In the pot

TVP Taco Filling - In the pot

 

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Funky Vegan Masoor Red Lentil Dahl Recipe With Chili Peppers

Funky Vegan Masoor Red Lentil Dahl Recipe

Funky Vegan Masoor Red Lentil Dahl

Funky Vegan Masoor Red Lentil Dahl Recipe With Chili Peppers

Ahhh! Good old Indian comfort food at it’s finest. I like to make it spicy with chili peppers, but it really isn’t too hot because of the quantity of Red Lentil Dahl you’re making. Believe it or not, I add more chilies to my personal bowl when I eat it. So, don’t be afraid to give it a try. Chili peppers have a lot of vitamin C in them and supposedly can help keep your arteries unclogged, among other health benefits. You can always use less if you would prefer.

What makes it funky? I like to add a touch of pickle juice, but if you don’t have any on hand you can substitute lemon juice. Serve over brown basmati rice or some boiled potatoes. It is really simple to make and delicious. This makes about 4-1/2 to 5 quarts, so you will have plenty of leftovers, or it will serve quite a few people with the basmati rice or potatoes. Garnish with a bit of fresh cilantro.

Masoor Dahl - Funky Vegan Style

Masoor Dahl - Funky Vegan Style

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

4 cups red lentils
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 head of garlic, finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2 serrano peppers, finely chopped
2 Thai chili peppers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons Indian curry powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 cup pickle juice or juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon sea salt
1-1/2 (10 ounce) cans of Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11 cups of water

Instructions:

1. In a 6 quart stock pot, add garlic, onion, celery, extra virgin olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sauté over high heat 3 minutes and then add turmeric and curry powder and sauté 1 more minute.

2. Add water, red lentils, jalapeno peppers, serrano peppers, Thai chili peppers, cumin, pickle juice, Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, ginger, black pepper, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.

3. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium heat for 35-40 minutes, Stirring occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

4. Remove from heat and let stand for 5-10 minutes, then serve.

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VegNews Using Stock Photos of Meat in Vegan Magazine Articles

VegNews Using Stock Photos of Meat in Vegan Articles

Screenshot - VegNews Using Stock Photos of Meat in Vegan Articles

******04/19/11****** – Update to the Original Article

VegNews issued a formal apology yesterday and even used the term “screwed up” mentioned in my article!  You can read the VegNews apology here, which also includes a written policy on their photography practices going forward.  I am very happy to hear this good news. I will keep an eye on their website and check them out at the newsstand and if they pass muster then I will go ahead and subscribe. Yay vegans and Yay VegNews!

—————————————–Original Article——————————————-

Subscribe to VegNews? You may want to reconsider. It was just exposed yesterday by QuarryGirl (thanks QuarryGirl) that VegNews has been using stock photos that actually contain meat in the pictures in their magazine and on their website. WTF? Funny thing is that I had recently been thinking about subscribing to VegNews. I’d been following them on Facebook and checking out their website. Since I am newly vegan, and since they are the only vegan magazine available, I thought it would be “cool” to subscribe. I no longer believe that they are cool, but just a bunch of liars. They have pictures of ribs (that are supposed to be vegan) with the bones photo-shopped out! Come on. Really?

I followed the breaking story this morning and read many of the comments online from various sources, with no response from VegNews. Then VegNews released a response and it was lame. They did not apologize, but instead made excuses about money and bragged about awards and said they would try to do something about it soon. Umm – they need to hire a PR person because they really missed the opportunity to get it right.

Now, I used to work for a retail website and took pictures of products and Photoshopped them. It is time consuming and requires a lot of attention to detail. However, the site I worked for would never consider using a photo of one product to represent another, which would be deceptive. And, if they can pay someone to edit a photo from iStockphoto.com to make it look vegan, then they certainly could pay someone to take pictures of real vegan food, or better yet use vegan stock photos, of which there are plenty. They weren’t even crediting the photos to iStockphoto.com, which is a requirement for use. Lying is not a good business practice and does not lend to journalistic integrity. What if I used fake pictures for my recipes? It makes me question everything they have done. IF you read their response it is filled with BS and lies.

VegNews Using Stock Photos of Meat in Vegan Articles Letter

Screenshot - Apology Somewhat Small on the VegNews Website

I cannot begin to explain the unethical nature of their actions or why they did it, although they tried to explain it away. But, excuses are like a**holes. Everybody’s got one. Certainly they have done some good in the world. I guess my problem is that their letter to their readers sucked. Not only was it in PDF form, making it harder for search engines to find and index, it was just a small blurb on their site entitled “A letter from the VegNews staff.” That could be about anything! Why not just come out and call it like it is and say you screwed up and that this is unethical and a dishonest practice and that it will stop. And, while your at it issue a real heartfelt apology. Surely this story will end up on the news, and other major websites like Huffington Post, if it hasn’t already. Better to to some damage control than do some corporate crap press release that doesn’t really address the issue.

Trust is so important, especially when it comes to a small niche market like veganism and the food we put in our bodies. Do you trust VegNews at this point? I don’t. Deception on this level does not lie. A better source for vegan news is the bloggers online who spend hours writing and taking their own photos. What do you think?

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Tofurky Frozen Vegan Pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese

Tofurky Frozen Vegan Pizza With Daiya Cheese

Tofurky Frozen Vegan Pizza With Daiya Cheese

We recently tried Tofurky vegan pizza with Daiya cheese. This is the review and it was funkin’ vegan pizza yummy. Highly recommended.

So, as a vegan, one of the things I miss the most is pizza. Yet, I don’t miss the side effects of eating animal products or all of the other bad stuff. Now, if you look up the nutrition data on pizza, the facts are appalling. Regular pizza may taste good, but it is not necessarily good for you. It’s loaded with fat, sodium, and calories. Sure, you get some protein from cheese and vitamin C from the tomato sauce. However, the negatives outweigh the positives.

Tofurky has long been a leader in vegan food products. They started out making holiday plant-based vegan turkey meals for people who needed an alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and have branched out from there.

Tofurky Frozen Vegan Pizza

Tofurky Frozen Vegan Pizza with Crushed Red Pepper

Recently, they came out with 3 vegan frozen pizza varieties: Pepperoni, Cheese, and Italian Sausage & Fire Roasted Veggie Pizza and we opted for the latter, but have tried the others. We found them at our local Ralph’s grocery store (Kroger depending on your area)  for $8.79 each. At 14.1 ounces each, they realistically serve 2 people (package says 3). I’ve adjusted the info for two total servings here, with approximately 405 calories per serving, 9 grams of fat, 480 milligrams of sodium, and 19.5 grams of protein. This is considerably less than chain pizza or regular frozen pizza, and the best part is it’s all vegan. No animals were harmed to bring you these most delicious vegan pizzas!

Quick and convenient, it took just minutes to make the pizza. We placed it in the oven and followed the package directions. 12 minutes later, just like a normal frozen pizza, it came out hot and cheesy, and ready to satisfy that vegan pizza craving. They use Daiya vegan cheese, which melts nicely and is likely one of the best brands of vegan cheese.

The crust is amazing; light and crispy, with a good balance of the delicious tomato sauce and other ingredients, which is one of the keys to a really good pizza. Tofurky grills or fire-roasts the veggies which adds extra flavor, and combined with their great vegan sausage, that makes this is a winner.

Tofurky Italian Sausage & Fire Roasted Veggie Pizza

Yummy!

Tofurky Vegan Pizza is a great product for vegetarians or vegans on the go and those who don’t want to take the time to cook a vegan pizza from scratch. Fast food? Yeah. Fast and best of all no animals suffered for our indulgence.

We like it, but still encourage you to experiment with making your own. I’ll have to post a fresh vegan pizza recipe soon.  Funny thing is that, as a vegan, I have slipped up on pizza before and have noticed it is a weak point for those trying to become vegan. So, it’s good to know this comfort food is easily available at our local grocer. I hope you find it and try it. If you cannot find them at your local grocer, try Whole Foods, or ask your grocer to carry them. They can also be ordered here or various other places online. Enjoy.

Frozen Vegan Pizza

Frozen in the package

Frozen Pizza

Still Frozen - About to cook

Vegan Pizza

Ready to slice and eat!

Tofurky Pizza

Back of the box

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Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage

Ingredients Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage

Yeah! This is gonna be good.

This is an easy and delicious recipe, packed with flavor, using organic whole wheat spaghetti and vegan Italian sausage. The best part? If you didn’t tell someone it was vegan, they would never know the difference.

So, who doesn’t like spaghetti? Especially when it is packed with flavor and wholesome ingredients. I know. I know. You’re already thinking, “I have my own recipe for spaghetti” or “It’s just easier to use store-bought Marinara sauce.” But, I promise that I wouldn’t be posting this if it wasn’t the absolute bomb-diggity. Just give it a try. It doesn’t take long to make and beats using jarred Marinara sauce any day.

Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage

Mangia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is always recommend to use pasta made in Italy and we really love the Garofalo brand of Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti. It is imported from Italy and can be found at Costco. However, you can use any pasta with this recipe. You may also substitute crushed red pepper (like the kind you get with pizza) if you don’t have the whole dried peppers handy. It is highly recommended that you do not substitute for the Cavender’s Greek seasoning, which can be found at most grocery stores. Of course, you can use sugar, or any sweetener, in place of the  organic blue agave nectar.

Let’s get crackin’.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1 (16.7-ounce) package of organic whole wheat spaghetti
1 (14-ounce) package of Tofurky Italian sausage, sliced
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 head of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water
5-10 dried red peppers, finely chopped or crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 dashes Tabasco brand pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon Cavender’s Greek seasoning
3/4 teaspoon organic blue agave nectar

Directions:

1. Fill a 6 quart stock pot with 4-1/2 quarts of water. Place on high heat and start the process to bring to a boil.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and vegan Italian sausage slices to a pan on medium-high to high heat and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Add garlic, onion and Cavender’s seasoning to a 3 or 4 quart pot with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Sauté over high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add basil, oregano, and bay leaf, then stir briefly and reduce heat to slightly above medium.

4. Add tomatoes, black pepper, crushed red pepper, organic blue agave syrup, Tabasco sauce, 1/3 cup of water, and 2 teaspoons of salt (to taste), and stir. Save remaining 1 teaspoon of salt for pasta water.

5. Once the marinara sauce is bubbling, add the vegan sausage then reduce heat to low and simmer until pasta is ready.

6. When the pasta water is boiling, add the remaining teaspoon of sea salt and spaghetti, then cook according to package directions, usually around 9 minutes.

7. Quickly drain spaghetti using a colander, leaving a small amount of cooking water (1/4-1/3 cup) in the pot. Do not shake excess water from pasta. Place pasta back into 6 quart pot it cooked in, but off the heat. Add Marinara sauce and stir well.

Funky Vegan Spaghetti with Marinara and Italian Sausage Pot

In the Pot

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