Monday, January 3, 2011

Sassy Veg

I just want to start off this post by thanking everyone for their support.  This has been something that I've wanted to do for quite some time, and I'm glad that it's being so well received.  A special thanks to nurse practitioner Courtney Mayhew who will be giving us some great write-ups on the health aspects of veganism in the near future.  Another thanks to Lynn Pauly from Alliance for Animals for getting the word out about this blog.

Starting out the journey towards veganism can be rather intimidating.  There is a lot of information out there, and it's difficult to decide where to start.  I would like to suggest watching the documentary Earthlings.  This is one of the best documentaries giving an overview of factory farming and the cruelties that are rampant within the industry.  I know it's easier to shut your eyes and act like you don't see it and you don't know, but do you really want to turn a blind eye and eat these poor creatures?  It's cruel, it's unhealthy, it's disgusting.  Open your eyes, see what's happening and then make a decision as to whether you'd like to continue eating their flesh and consuming their secretions.  I don't suggest watching Earthlings straight through.  I certainly couldn't do it.  It's hard to know you're completely helpless to this situation, that you can't stop it immediately.  What you can do is withdraw all your financial support.  More and more people are waking up and becoming vegan everyday.  Now that veganism has reached the mainstream, I believe we will see some great changes in the ensuing years.  Earthlings is on Netflix, or you can purchase it here

My suggested reading for you is Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn.  This book has a great overview of the major issues in the animal rights/welfare movement alongside humerous cartoons and quotes from celebreties that lighten it up a bit.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  You can purchase it here.

Now onto the yummy recipes!  Today I made Upside-down Lentil Shepherd's Pie with Caulipots (cauliflower and potato mashers) from Appetite for Reduction.  Nothing is more comforting that shepherd's pie in the winter months.  I love the variety of veggies and her addition of shiitake mushrooms and lentils to this recipe.  Lentils really make this recipe stand out.  Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse packed with protein, fiber, iron and folate.  If you think vegans get all their protein from soy, think again!  The addition of the cauliflower for the mashers not only makes it lower in calories, but healthier.  Cauliflower is high in fiber and lots of vitamins.  All I can say is I am loving this book!

Upside-Down Lentil Shepherd's Pie

(Can be made gluten/soy free if you leave out the Worcestershire sauce.)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 zucchini, diced small (1 1/2 cups
3 cloves garlic, minced (of course I doubled mine to 6!  mmm garlic!)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several pinches freshly ground black pepper
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced small
3/4 cup du Puy lentils (aka French lentils), rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat.  Saute the onion in the oil until translucent, about 5 mins.  Add the shiitakes, zucchini, garlic, tarragon, thyme, salt, and pepper; saute for 5 more mins.

Add the carrots, lentils, and broth.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 25 mins, stirring occasionally.  By this point, the lentils should be tender and most of the broth should be absorbed.  If it's not, then just let it simmer for longer and check on it.  (Mine took about 15 mins longer than this.)  Conversely, if the broth has evaporated and the lentils are soft, then add a bit of water and simmer for a bit longer.

Once the lentils are soft, stir in the Worcestershire sauce and peas.  (I added 1 c. of peas instead of the 1/2.)  Let sit for 10 mins or so for maximum flavor.  Taste for salt.

To serve: Scoop a cup of Caulipots into a bowl and serve a cupful of lentils over it.

**A warning on the Worcestershire sauce.  Check the labels, because often it will contain anchovies and other non-vegan ingredients.  Just check the labels.  I enjoy Annie's brand organic Worcestershire sauce here.  It even says vegan right on the label!

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (Caulipots)
Gluten and Soy free

2 russet potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch pieces (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets (1 lb, or about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot in enough cold water to submerge them, making sure there are about 4 inches of extra water on top for when you add the cauliflower.  Bring the potatoes to a boil.  Once boiling, add the cauliflower and lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for about 15 mins, until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Drain them in a colander, return them to the pot, and use a potato smasher to mash them a bit.  (A regular fork works just fine.)  Add the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of broth, the seasonings and mix well.  If needed, add another 2 tablespoons of broth.  Taste for salt.  Serve warm.


  1. I am gonna try this...looks really good and easy. Your sister recommended this site to us...she is a keeper :-)
    Good sister!

  2. I've been a vegan for 5 months now. The hardest time I had was during the holidays and smelling, seeing and cutting the turkey and chicken. Yes, I had to cut up chicken to put on a serving plate. I survived it, however!!! I'll have to share my Tofu Pad Thai recipe with you. Everyone who's tasted it, loves it.

  3. Thanks Di! My sister is great, and I'm happy that you all are enjoying my blog thus far!

    Smileyleg - Holidays are hands down the hardest time for newbies. Food is so important to family tradition, that often this is the time where people break down. Congrats for staying strong! Hopefully you won't have to serve meat often. I have to serve meat to the kids I nanny, which I've had to accept. No need getting your panties in a bunch about someone else's food choice. No one likes a super preachy vegan. Kill them with kindness and FOOD! I would love it if you shared your Pad Thai recipe. If you have any pictures, that would be great as well. Thanks for your support!