Category Archives: Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Highlights and “Food” For Thought

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I came. I blogged. I ate. I conquered…well, ok. Maybe I didn’t conquer. But 15 out of 20 Vegan MoFo posts ain’t too shabby. Not to mention that during MoFo I discovered so many new bloggers and was constantly inspired by other’s posts. These are just a few highlights from Vegan MoFo (and I really want to stress the word–few. I could probably fill a tome with the amount of vegan amazingness that I discovered this month).

Beautifully decadent (and gluten-free) Orange Notella Mousse Tartlets by Kylie from Fellowship of the Vegetable. I could probably eat the whole plate.Fellowship-of-the-Vegetable-Orange-Chocolate-Hazelnut-Mousse-Tartlet

A heaping plate of Puffy Nachos with Spicy Black Beans with a yummy nacho nooch sauce by Cadry from Cadry’s Kitchen. I made the sauce last night and it was fan-tabulous!puffy nachos with spicy black beans from Cadry's Kitchen

Spicy mac and yease from Richa at Vegan Richa. I love a good mac and cheese recipe and this has a nice spicy twist to it. Plus, crispy breadcrumbs!

spicy mac and yease from veganricha

And a gorgeous streusel plum cake from Seitan is My Motor that I definitely plan to make soon.

streusel plum cake from seitanismymotor

So at first glance it seems that Vegan MoFo is really a month about food. But underneath it all, it’s really about the animals. The focus is on the food because usually that’s the only thing that stands between a person and a compassionate lifestyle. But we’ve shown and continue to show that good food doesn’t have to involve suffering or dominion over another being’s life.

I am vegan for the animals. If it’s possible to live my life without causing them harm or suffering, then I would be remiss not to. After all, we share the same planet. Breathe the same air and come from the same stars. We’re all just here trying to live our lives, day by day, doing our thing.praying-mantis-0329-1

How was your Vegan MoFo?

*the photos corresponding to the recipes belong to the linked bloggers.

VeganDish Pottery Giveaway!

VeganDish is a line of beautifully handcrafted pottery by local Atlanta artist Jeanette Zeis. It’s pottery that is “made for vegans, by a vegan”. I already own some VeganDish pieces, but last weekend I got seconds!VeganDish

Jeanette and her partner Kenn TwoFour (also an Atlanta artist, also vegan) are taking their whole operation to the Pacific Northwest (Hey Pacific Northwest, isn’t it enough that you have mountains and ocean and a nice cool climate?).

Because they needed to clear out their stock, they had a huuuge sale last weekend on old stock and studio seconds. Studio seconds are basically products that maybe have minor imperfections making them not “suitable” for full price. I dunno if I’m explaining that right. But when we went, I saw nothing but beautiful pieces of pottery at crazy marked down prices.

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I was able to pick up a few of her illustrated pieces that I’ve been eyeballing for a while. AND I got a VeganDish mug and bowl for ONE OF YOU! I’m so excited to share this with you guys. I have a VeganDish mug and it’s one of my most favorite mugs on the whole planet. I don’t have a bowl and I kinda want to keep this one. But I think the mug and bowl are just too cute together so I’m giving away both!

Sorry, the giveaway is closed.

Congratulations to Sheri from A Dreaded Vegan for winning the pottery set!

 All ya gotta do to enter this giveaway is:

  • leave a comment telling me what vegan dish (or drink) you would put in your VeganDish if you won

When you leave a comment, make sure to enter your email privately in the form so I can contact you if you win. The giveaway will close at midnight (EST) on October 4th (next Friday). I will pick a winner randomly using random.org. Oh, and this is open to anyone with a mailbox. Edited to add: This means even international! 🙂

Thai Curry Burrito Bowl with Sweet and Spicy Tofu

I like burritos. But I love what’s inside burritos more. Sometimes I feel like the flour tortilla just stands in the way between me and whatever loveliness is inside the tortilla. That’s usually why I eat my burritos bowl-style.

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This burrito bowl is a simple Thai twist on a regular Mexican burrito. Fresh carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, cilantro, green onions and Thai chili peppers sit on top of ginger-infused jasmine rice and sweet and spicy tofu. It’s all coated in a sweet, tangy and slightly spicy peanuty-Massaman Curry sauce.

One thing I love about bowls is the ability to change it up if you change your mind after mixing everything together. Not spicy enough? Add more Thai chilis. Want more tang? (heh) Squeeze a shot of lime on it. Ya can’t do this when it’s all wrapped up in a tortilla. I’m not decisive enough to use a tortilla for a build-it-yourself-burrito.

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Though it’s packed with a bunch of good stuff, this bowl is easy to make. The only “active” cooking is the sauce and the tofu. I should also note that the amazing sauce and tofu are Neal’s creation. Not mine….the Thai in the house. Riddle me that.

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Thai Curry Burrito Bowl

Ingredients (2 servings)

Rice

  •  2 1/4 cup of dry uncooked jasmine rice
  •  about 3.5 cups of stock (or water)
  • 2 inch sized nub of ginger, peeled and minced

Sauce

  • One 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tbs Massaman curry paste (make sure to find a vegan paste as some have shrimp paste and/or fish sauce/paste. I use the Bright brand)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 3/4 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbs Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • salt

Tofu

  • One pack of firm tofu, drained, pressed (for at least 10 minutes) and cubed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • oil
  • dried red chili pepper flakes

Accompaniments

  • julienned carrots
  • bean sprouts
  • cucumber, cubed
  • cilantro
  • sliced green onions
  • fresh Thai chili peppers
  • fresh lime slices

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Directions

Rinse out the rice a couple of times with water and then throw all the rice ingredients in a rice maker and set it to cook. You can also use the stove top, though you may have to adjust the amount of liquid. Moving on to the sauce. In a small cup dissolve the curry paste in about 2-3 tbs of coconut milk. Now place the coconut milk, peanut butter and dissolved curry paste in a pot on medium heat and stir. Once the peanut butter has mostly broken down, add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let simmer for ~10 minutes.

Place the tofu in a pan with a tablespoon or so of oil on medium high heat. Toss in the sugar and chili peppers to coat the tofu. Let the tofu sit for a couple of minutes on each side until they turn a crispy golden brown on the outside.

Thai-Burrito-Bowl-0210-7Put everything in a bowl however you like. I started with rice, then added tofu and the rest of the accompaniments. I used more sauce in my bowl than what is pictured here and also added a splash of lime juice.

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What’s your style? Burritos in tortillas or burritos in a bowl?

Easy Banana Pudding Cups

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I grew up eating traditional Thai food. But there were several American (mostly Southern) dishes that we would eat on occasion. This was probably due to my pa. He didn’t cook a lot, but there were a handful of American dishes that were his jam.

One of these dishes was sweet banana pudding with Nabisco vanilla wafers. I can’t actually remember if he made this or if he was just a champion at eating it. Either way, this banana pudding dessert was something we both really enjoyed.banana-pudding-cups-8220-1

I’ve made it before using store-bought vegan vanilla pudding packs. This time I wanted to go all Martha Stewart on the pudding and make it from scratch. A couple of recipes from An Unrefined Vegan and The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado got me thinkin’— oh yeah, I forgot cashews can be used for more than just cheese! So the banana-y creaminess of this pudding is amped up with raw cashews.

Layered with organic vanilla snaps (storebought—I don’t have time to Martha Stewart everything!) and fresh banana slices, this dessert is a fresher animal-friendly version of the yellow stuff I grew up with. Yet it still remains creamy, decadent and full of banana-vanilla flavor.

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Banana Pudding Cups with Vanilla Cookies

Ingredients

This makes about 1 1/2 cups of the banana pudding. When layered with cookies and bananas, it fills two 8oz cups as shown.

  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight (at least 6-8 hours) and drained
  • 4 tbs coconut cream
  • vanilla beans scraped from one inch of a vanilla pod
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 ripe bananas  (if you don’t want your dessert turnin’ dark due to banana oxidation, lightly soak the bananas in a little lemon juice mixed with water before blending or assembling)
  • 6-8 vanilla wafers (I used these or make your own)

Directions

Blend the cashews, coconut cream, vanilla beans, maple syrup and 2 bananas in a high-speed blender or food processor until silky smooth. Set aside. Slice the remaining banana. Now, assemble. You can do the layers however you wish. I was pretty random but I think I did cookie, pudding, banana slices…until I reached the top of each cup (about 3 pudding layers). Cover the cups with saran wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours so the cookies soften from the pudding and the pudding firms. Then when it’s ready, crush some more cookies on top and dig in!

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What dessert from your childhood do you still love to eat?

My Favorite Cruelty Free Vanilla Perfumes

“Something smells like a cherry pop tart.”

This has actually been said around about me before. I was wearing a vanilla perfume oil at the time. I didn’t own up to my foody smelling self. And I’m still not sure if this remark was said in disgust or with pleasant surprise. But I was secretly pleased. You see, I’ve always had an affinity for smelling like a cherry pop tart…ok, maybe not a pop tart. But something sweet. Something that evokes comfort, snuggling and cozy sweaters and hoodies. Something vanilla.

cruelty free vanilla perfumes

Lush’s 25:43

I have a 0.3 oz atomizer spray of this stuff. From the website, it’s described as a citrusy perfume with notes of tonka, lime, lemongrass, vanilla, ylang-ylang and listsea (?). It’s all lemongrass-vanilla to me. It makes me think of slightly spiced lemon cookies. 25:43 is supposedly how long it took the creator took to make this yummy scent.

Pacifica Island Vanilla 

I have this in both the 1oz spray and the 8oz body lotion. It’s described as a blend of Tahitian vanilla absolute with honey-jasmine notes, a touch of fruitiness, and a base of tea. This is a vanilla with a lighter, airy-ier feel about it. To me, it’s like a creamy vanilla tea with the teensiest hint of floral. While I tend to wear vanilla mostly in cooler weather, I wear this year round.

Lush’s Vanillary (solid version)

I’ve had this ever since Lush introduced the solid version in little metal tins. I like this tube version because I can just push up a little and swipe it directly where I want it. Though it’s a tad awkward to have to push it back down with my fingers to get the lid on. Since it’s a soft wax, it will melt if left in the heat. This is a total foody scent and makes me think of a rich sweet vanilla toffee or decadent vanilla custard. I usually wear this at night before bed. It makes me feel like I’m sleeping in a sea of vanilla cupcakes.

 Lavanila Pure Vanilla Roller Ball

This is the most simple of the bunch. It has notes of Madagascar vanilla, freesia and heliotrope (florals). To me it is just a nice, clean vanilla bean scent. It’s not a desserty vanilla and it’s not a perfume-y vanilla (none of these are perfume-y in the traditional sense to me). It’s just a lovely vanilla. Pure and simple.

 

What I love about all of these vanilla perfumes is that they are not in yo face vanilla. They are subtle and more natural feeling than highly synthetic perfumes which make my nose itch and give me a headache. They fade with time on me but all of them linger nicely, close to the skin. Which is good because I don’t want people to smell me when I walk in a room because I wear scents mostly for myself and not other people.

Do you wear fragrance? What are your favorite cruelty-free fragrances?

Adding Stinky Durian to my List of Favorite Food Oddities

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Durian. It’s native to southeast Asia and often called the “King of Fruits”. Because of its size? Its pungent odor? Or is it because its thorny outside resembles the spikes of a king’s crown?

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photo by Hans A. Rosbach

Regardless of where it got its nickname, it’s a pretty polarizing fruit. Much like natto, it seems like people either love it or hate it. While researching the fruit for this post I found everything from an “I love Durian” facebook page to numerous bloggers dedicating posts to their nemesis, the durian.

I always assumed that durian would be one of those things that I would just never try. The extreme reactions I would often see people have when they ate durian petrified me. Case in point, this guy’s reaction.  Plus, I remember being horrified by the smell as a child.

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photo by Hans A. Rosbach

But one day Neal brought home sweet sticky rice from the Asian market. It had this tiny schmear of yellowish stuff on top that I thought was mango so I just ate it —- hold up, this ain’t mango! I sniffed it. Yup, that’s gotta be durian. But wait, I wasn’t throwing up or retching. Could I like this stuff? It was hard to tell because there was only the tiniest bit.

Thus began the quest to find durian in Atlanta. I didn’t find fresh durian at my normal Asian store haunts but I did find it frozen. I let it thaw in my fridge overnight and the next day I gave it a go.

frozen durian

THE TASTE

ME: It tastes like a wonderfully sweet custard.

NEAL: I only tried a tiny bit, but it was not good. I immediately wanted to spit out the sweet, rotten-tasting, onion-y mush swimming around my mouth.

THE SMELL

ME: It has a strong pungent smell. It smells like durian. I like the smell. I don’t get the onions or stinky feet thing at all that people use to describe the smell.

NEAL: It smells kind of like decaying food compost. Throw in a bit of stinky feet and body odor and you’re getting close. The smell lingers…

THE TEXTURE

ME: Custard, custard, custard!…with a little stringiness. It melts in my mouth.

NEAL: It’s soft and squishy. Like a moldy peach sitting in it’s own oozy juices.

THE APPEARANCE

ME: They look like yellow alien pods. Or big yellow larvae.

NEAL: Inside the durian, it looks like a little jaundiced baby alien fetus. It’s yellow. No thanks.

THE VERDICT

ME: I would eat this all day, errday if I could! (Can’t. This pack was $9.) I would love to find this fresh or whole. It’s just soooo good. I love it so hard! In fact, I want some right now.

NEAL: I might try this again perhaps in the distant future. When my tastebuds have disintegrated.

The King of Fruits polarizes again. It’s almost as if it changes the way it tastes for different people. Maybe it should be called magical fruit. Or tranformers fruit…more than meets the eye.

Nutritionally, durian is rich in vitamin C and B-complex, potassium and also has a high amount of tryptophan. Perhaps that explains my giddiness when I eat it?durian

If you decide to try durian (or perhaps you’re already a fan? maybe you’re the person who started the durian facebook page?)…know that it is perfectly decadent on its own. But it also pairs wonderfully with sweet coconut sticky rice.

durian with sticky rice

For this sweet sticky rice I loosely followed the recipe from Spice Island Vegan. Then I just piled on the duriany goodness.durian with sticky rice

Have you had durian before? If so, what do you think of it? If not, do you think you’ll try some?

Veganizing and Noodle-izing My Ma’s Thai Larb

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Recently I saw an episode of the ever so classy Diners, Drive Ins and Dives where Guy visited a dive that made all these amazing Thai dishes including larb! Larb (also known as laap, laab, larp or lahb) is a traditional Thai dish that originated in Laos. I fondly remember eating my ma’s version as a youngin’. The larb I ate growing up was made with pork pig. The meat made up a majority of the dish. But when I saw Guy stuffing his face with it, I had a huge nostalgic craving for the rich spicy, tangy and briny flavor combination of my ma’s larb. So I made it vegan (and easy) style!

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To replace the pig, I used a combination of chopped oyster mushrooms and small veggie soy protein chunks that I get at my local Asian market. My ma served her larb with rice and fresh cold and crunchy veggies on the side, like cucumbers and lettuce to help alleviate the spicy heat.

I decided to pair the rich soy protein and mushroom mixture with a wheat based Asian vermicelli noodle and the cucumbers. Rice vermicelli would also work. Or go gluten free and serve it in lettuce cups.

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There are different components to this salad and when I put it all together, I like to have some of these components at different temperatures. Traditionally it’s all eaten at room temperature. But I like it when there are a whole bunch of contrasty things going on. Tender warm mushroom/soy protein (“pork”) contrasted against cold, crisp cucumbers, fresh cilantro and thin slices of red onion. All of it soaked in a spicy, tangy-lime “fish” sauce!

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Thai Larb Noodle Salad

Ingredients

This makes about 4-6 servings.  It was a lot for the two of us.

“Pork” Mixture

  • 2 cups soy protein chunks
  • 2 cups chopped oyster mushroom
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs finely chopped lemongrass (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce
  • 7 tbs lime juice
  • 4 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • thin slices of fresh Thai peppers (optional if ya like it extra spicy!)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

Accompaniments

  • a large handful of vermicelli noodles (cooked according to package)
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lime slices (for garnish and extra tang)
  • (edited to add that Thai Basil and mint are also great add ins, not included here)

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Directions

Soak the soy protein in water or broth for about 20-30 minutes until softened and then drain (different brands/packages of soy protein may require different soaking times). Throw the garlic, lemongrass, soy protein and mushrooms in a lightly oiled pan on medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or so, until mushrooms are tender and cooked. There should not be much, if any, liquid in the pan. Season the mushroom/protein mix with salt and pepper to taste. I used about 1-2 tsp of each. Set aside so it cools. I like it warm, but not pipin’ hot. While that is cooling, make the sauce.

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For the sauce, whisk together the Bragg’s, Sriracha, lime juice, maple syrup, and Thai peppers. Reserve 3/4 cup of the sauce for later. Add the remaining sauce to the mushroom/protein mixture and stir thoroughly. Also stir in most of the sliced red onions, reserving a few for garnish later.

Now it’s assembly time. Start with a layer of noodles. If the noodles have gotten clumpy or sticky just run them under cool water to rejuvenate them and drain. Then add a fresh layer of cucumbers. Next add a generous layer of “pork”, a handful of cilantro and few slices of fresh red onion. Serve with the extra sauce and several slices of lime.

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It’s up to you if you wanna add more sauce to your individual bowl. Neal likes things extra saucy which is why I had the “reserve” for him. After assembling my bowl I like to drizzle just a lil’ more sauce on top, squeeze the fresh lime slice all over and give it all a good stir!

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This would be a great “make it yerself” type of meal for guests if all the components were put out buffet-style to be assembled. That way, each bowl can be custom made. The Thai peppers can also be omitted from the sauce and served in a separate bowl for those who like to cry and sniffle when they eat like my ma. Love ya ma!

Tales from the Vegan Army: Lost in Translation

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Original image was posted to Flickr by Matanya (Creative Commons)

This installment of Tales from the Vegan Army takes place about 10 years ago. I was in Italy for a conference. Ten years ago, I wasn’t confident about my veganism. I didn’t know many vegans and I rarely liked to call attention to it*.  I also had zero experience with veganism and international travel.

Eating outside of the conference wasn’t an option since it was on an isolated beach.  Most meals were buffet style.  I stuck to the salad and the plainest pasta with tomato marinara.

One night, we had a formal sit-down meal in the dining room.  I sat at a large round table with about 10 people.  My two closest table-mates knew I was vegan.  That evening I experienced the meaning of “lost in translation”…

Table-Mate 1, TM 1:  [looks around at the table settings] Man this is fancy!

TM 2: I know. I wonder what we’re having.

ME: [looks around nervously, worried]  Yeah….

TM 2: [gives me a sympathetic look] I’m sure they’ll have stuff you can eat.

At this point, fancy Italian waiters disperse around the room with the first course.

ME: [realizes it’s just a salad and breathes a sigh of relief]

As the meal progresses, more Italian waiters swarm around to take our plates and bring us our second course……plain pasta with tomato marinara. Whew! I’m thinking the meal is done at that point, right? Salad and pasta. Ri-i-ight.

ME[looks down at the MEAT dish the waiter has just put in front of me] Oh, um, I didn’t know there was more. I actually don’t eat meat.

Since I don’t want to even attempt an Italian accent for the waiter, just imagine this guy’s voice for the waiter.

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image from closermag.fr

Trust me…it’ll work. Plus despite what transpires, the real life waiter was just as friendly and animated as Roberto Benigni seems to be. So if this were a movie, he would be playing the part. Um, right. Maybe just go with it.

WAITER: Oh, you don’t like the dish?

ME: [not wanting to offend]  Um well, I don’t eat meat. I’m also really full on the pasta and salad.

WAITER: [takes the food, not offended] Okay, I will bring you something else then? 

ME: [nods and thinks…sure, whatever dude. Just keep it down, people are staring at me]

WAITER[comes out and puts down a new dish]  You like this dish?

ME: [stares down at a whole FRIED FISH] Um, I don’t eat any meat. Or any dairy either.

WAITER: [looks sad] Oh, no fish either eh? Okay, I’ll be right back. [swoops up the fish] 

ME[feels like a pain in the ass and says feebishly to the retreating waiter]  Sorry…really, I’m fine. I don’t need anything else.

TM 1: [wants to dissociate himself from the vegan freak and so says loudly enough for others to hear] That fish looked good! I should have taken it for myself. You know…since I eat meat like normal people.  Did everybody hear me?

The waiter, anxious to please, comes out again and plops an omelette down, certain he’s found a winner. I thought to myself — Shit…I said no dairy but I should have mentioned eggs…aren’t eggs considered dairy?  Back to the kitchen it went.

The fourth time he came out, despite me telling him I needed nothing else, he slapped a big piece of fried cheese down in front of me. The size of this cheese was enough to feed a small army, not something someone would ever eat as a meal.  As if the chef just fried the first non-meat, non-egg item he saw in the kitchen to try and please “the crazy American”!

FINALLY the waiter just brought me out more pasta. Now why didn’t I just think to ask him to do that in the first place?

What’s your “lost in translation” or vegan travel story?

*Today, I wear the vegan-freak flag proudly.  Admittedly, it has gotten a lot easier to do since veganism is more prominent in the mainstream.

A Review of Tasty Bite Meal Packets

I have a secret. I sometimes get sick of cooking. It’s not that my meals are super elaborate, over the top, or full of multi-step craziness either. I just sometimes get sick of the chopping and the washing and always having wet hands. I’m lucky that I have Neal to pick up the slack when I get like this. But sometimes both of us feel slack.  Or worse, Neal’s not around when I’m in a cooking rut. That’s when eating black beans straight from the can will actually happen.

So I was stoked when Tasty Bite * sent me some of their nuke ’em in-about-a-minute meals right around when Neal was going away on business for a week. This brand is touted as all-natural and they have a bunch of dishes from Asia and India.  Though not an all-vegan company, they carry many vegan products.

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The first I tried was the Channa Massala. I love Indian food, so having a quick and easy way to eat it at home is great. The sauce was really delicious. I thought the chickpeas were a little dry in the middle, but that’s a personal pref. I had it with rice and it filled me up quite nicely.

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Next is Kung Pao Noodles.  I’m not sure if this was authentic Kung Pao flavor or not, but I enjoyed the slightly spicy flavor and appreciated that the noodles were completely coated in flavor. The noodles were like if spaghetti noodles and lo mein noodles had a baby.

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The packets that I didn’t think I would like were the rice packets because rice….bor-ing. But I ended up liking them a lot. The Ginger Lentil Rice was really flavorful and makes me want to experiment with flavoring rice. I had this with tofu (not pictured).tastybite-9975-1

The Thai Lime Rice was also really good stuff! It had a dominant taste of lime and lemongrass. Both of the rice dishes cooked up nice and fluffy and they weren’t clumpy. I definitely could have just enjoyed the rice by itself, but I used it in a burrito with some Beyond Meat to make it a meal.

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Finally, my favorite was the Punjab Eggplant. This stuff was the “ugliest” of the bunch but it was the best one! It was oh so creamy, flavorful and delicious! Each bite was bursting with flavor.  We ate it with rice and it was so good that I wanted seconds.

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Tasty Bite is around $3.29 for Asian noodles and entrees and $2.49 for rices at most grocery stores.  These would be nice for lazy days as you can just slit open the packs and stick ’em in the microwave. They can also be boiled in the pouch on a stove so they would be great for camping. The packages are BPA free, so no worries there.

They can feed two people if they are served with something else like rice or tofu, though servings will be on the small side. At least for us. We eat a lot. The noodle dishes are a one serving deal to me. If I catch a sale on these, I’ll definitely nab a few of the creamy Indian dishes to keep on hand. I think the Indian dishes are where it’s at with this company.  And they most definitely beat black beans out of a can…like by a lot.

What are your favorite pre-packaged lazy meals?

*These meal packets were kindly sent to me by Tasty Bite. My review is my straight up honest opinion on the product (i.e. they ain’t payin’ me for this).

Creamy Mushroom and Eggplant Strudel that Tastes Stroganoffy

We recently discovered that we get the Food Network.  So I turn it on every now and then. As long as they aren’t showing something too overtly non-vegan, I can usually put on my vegan goggles and pretend everything they are making is vegan and cruelty free. It’s like vegan food cosplay.

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The other day I saw Ina Garten making crab strudels using phyllo dough. It looked easy so I decided to make my own. Instead of crab, I used what we had in the fridge which happened to be shiitake mushrooms and an eggplant.

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The creamy part of this comes from cashew cheese, though I think the roasted eggplant played a part too. When I began mixing everything together, it straight up looked like raw pork or sausage. I’m still not sure if this was cool because it wasn’t actually pig, or not-cool because it looked like it. *shrugs*.  I continued with it anyways because I was in too deep at that point. Kinda like Walt in season one of Breaking Bad.

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This recipe makes two strudel logs (about 18-20 pieces) and was easy to make. The phyllo dough was a bit annoying at first until I said *screw it* and stopped caring if the layers weren’t perfectly placed over each other or if some pieces broke. It all worked out in the end.

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The end result was pretty bad ass. Again, much like Walt from Breaking Bad. It tasted like cream of mushroom soup or stroganoff encased in a buttery flaky crust.  I couldn’t really pinpoint the eggplant in each bite…everything just kinda blended together into a comforting creamy and savory taste in my mouth.

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Creamy Mushroom and Eggplant Strudel

Ingredients

  • 9 oz of shiitake mushrooms with tough stems removed (this is about 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion
  • small eggplant (peeled, sliced into disks and ends cut off)
  • 2 stalks of green onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs cashew cheese (click here for the recipe)
  • 10 sheets of phyllo dough
  • melted vegan butter to brush on phyllo layers
  • bread crumbs

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Directions

Throw the mushrooms, garlic, onion and eggplant into a food processor and pulse until it’s crumbly and resembles stuffing.  Stir in the green onions.  Transfer to a lightly oiled or buttered pan and cook on medium high for about 10-12 minutes cooking away most of the liquid. As it cooks, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in the cashew cheese. Let it cool so it can be handled safely. I stuck it in the fridge while I worked with the phyllo.

Lay out a piece of phyllo. Brush with melted vegan butter and then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat this four more times, laying each phyllo sheet on top of the other. It’s okay if they aren’t perfectly lined up or if some crack. Then take the mushroom/eggplant mixture and form a log about an inch or so wide on one end and roll it up. Seal the roll with melted butter. Brush more melted butter on the outside and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Score the strudel into 1 1/2 inch pieces and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. The phyllo should be golden and crispy.

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This would make a great party appetizer or snack. Or just eat it straight up by itself like we did.