Create: Taking the Mystery Out of Vegan
Vegan food gets a bad rap from two directions: people think the food is weird and people think it tastes bad, but as we become more aware of what we are eating, vegan recipes may begin to make more sense.
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Whole Grain Roll, Guacamole with Jicama Sticks and Sloppy Slaw
photography by Janet Warlick
Why vegan? You might, or might not, want to follow in the footsteps of Pres. Bill Clinton who adopted a vegan diet after his 2010 heart surgery. Vegan recipes include fruit, vegetables, greens and whole grains. They are plant-based and made with healthy fats, like olive oil or avocado … not bad for those looking for heart-healthy recipes.
Dairy allergies are not uncommon. If you have a friend with dairy allergies, it is a good idea to have a few non-dairy recipes up your sleeve. I got interested in vegan recipes when a mom whose child has life threatening dairy allergies asked me about menus that she could cook with and for her child.
Good news: you already know and love vegan dishes and you have eaten "vegan" without knowing it, for example, a simple green salad with oil and vinegar dressing is vegan. Any plant-based dish may be vegan. Some familiar foods that are “vegan” include ratatouille; hummus; guacamole; vegetable, rice and bean burritos; roasted vegetables; vegetable soup; pasta with marinara sauce; and pasta primavera. Many Asian and Middle Eastern foods are vegan: Vietnamese spring rolls, sesame noodles, couscous and vegetable stir-fry.
Veganism has its roots in the avoidance of all animal products for ethical and moral reasons. That’s the part that is sometimes considered “weird.” Where we get into trouble with the “bad tasting” part is trying to replicate meat or bake cakes and cookies with substitutes. So, just for now, set aside the idea of meat, cakes and cookies, and the ethical positions about eating animals. Consider vegan recipes. For those of you who are looking for tasty ways to reduce your cholesterol intake, this column is for you.
Guacamole with Jicama Sticks
2 large ripe avocados
3 limes (more if needed)
1 tablespoon finely-minced red onion
1 tablespoon finely-minced jalapeno pepper or hot sauce to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 plum tomatoes, finely-diced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 medium jicama, about 1 pound
2 teaspoons chili powder
Cut the avocados in half. Remove the large pit with a spoon. Scoop out the flesh, and put in a large bowl. Mash well with the juice of two of the limes. Add the onion, jalapeno and cumin. Add salt to taste and additional lime juice, if needed to get the flavor you like. Stir in diced tomatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl; and sprinkle with the cilantro. Cover and refrigerate.
To prepare the jicama, using a vegetable peeler or small sharp knife, peel the jicama. Cut into ¼ inch slices, then cut across into ¼ inch strips. They should look like French fries. Put in a bowl, and squeeze in the juice of the remaining lime. Toss, add salt to taste and sprinkle with the chili powder. Refrigerate, and serve chilled with the guacamole.
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Whole Grain Rolls
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
Salt, pepper to taste
Olive or canola oil
2 cups chopped grape or heirloom tomatoes
6 eight-grain or other whole grain rolls, optional
Baby lettuce or spinach leaves, as garnish
Favorite barbecue sauce
Gently brush the mushroom caps, and wash gently if necessary. Heat a grill or stovetop grill; brush the mushrooms with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until mushrooms begin to wilt. Serve on whole grain rolls with your favorite barbecue sauce. Dress with a spoonful of chopped tomatoes and baby lettuce or spinach leaves, or top with some of the Sloppy Slaw from the next recipe.
Carrot Ginger Dressing
½ cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon chopped onion
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ large green cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
1 medium red bell pepper
2 tablespoons freshly-minced chives
Put all the dressing ingredients plus ½ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth. Chill. Shred the cabbage, either in a food processor or by slicing into long, thin threads. Cut the bell pepper into long thin strips. Put the cabbage, grated carrots and bell pepper into a large bowl; toss to combine. Pour over the dressing, toss well and scatter chives on top. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
Serves six to eight.
Honeydew Kiwi Sorbets
Sorbets are made with fruit juices and no dairy. This green sorbet is pretty served in a glass with strawberries on the side.
½ cup sugar
½ large ripe honeydew melon, about 1.5 pounds
4 large ripe kiwi
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and ½ cup water to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool. Scoop out the seeds from the melon and discard. Scoop out the flesh of the melon. Peel the kiwi using a small sharp knife. Cut the melon and kiwi into 1-inch pieces; and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add a pinch of salt, and process until very smooth. Add the cooled sugar syrup and process again until smooth. Cover, and refrigerate until very cold. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Cinnamon-Sugar Wontons with Fruit Salad
Cinnamon Sugar Wontons
32 wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the wontons in half diagonally, so that you have 32 triangles. Place the wontons on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, brush the wontons evenly with the oil. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until just crisp. Let cool on pan. Serve with fruit salad (recipe follows).
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ripe pineapple
1 ripe cantaloupe
1 quart ripe strawberries
3 ripe kiwi
Small bunch of fresh mint
Put the honey into a small saucepan with 1 cup water and the vanilla. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Let cool. Peel and chop the pineapple and cantaloupe. Wash the strawberries, remove stems and slice in halves. Peel the kiwi with a small sharp knife and cut into ½-inch pieces. Combine all the fruit and juices in a large bowl. Pour over the honey syrup and chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish with mint leaves.
Substitute, or add, fruit in season. Blueberries, raspberries, mango, papaya, watermelon and grapes all make excellent additions.
Except for the portabella mushrooms, this month’s recipes were adapted from Rozanne Gold’s cookbook for teens, Eat Fresh Food.
Questions? Reach Faith via e-mail at email@example.com.