Trying Vegan food

In my continued effort to try out different ideas, I have gotten on the Vegan band wagon. No, I am not a Vegan and don’t plan to be. I am just curious about whether the food choices Vegan’s make are tasty.

Years ago I worked in a Health Food store and I always hated the smells from all the Vitamins and doctored foods that mimicked non-Vegetarian fare. With renewed interest in Veganism, things have changed. At least I thought they had but my theory needed to be proven.

My sister bought me the book, “the conscious cook” several years ago. She had seen the chef on Oprah. He was talking about a Chicken substitute called Gardein. Well my experience with faux meat has not been all that exciting. I have found a few products that I can use, but most  can taste either like cardboard or vitamins.

Well I thought I would give Gardein a try…after all they talked about it on Oprah. Yuk! It was not up to my standard. In fact, I threw it away. I looked through the cookbook and some of the food looked interesting but way too much work. Cashew cream? Tempura beet rollatini? All I could think of is red beet juice getting on my carpet. Unfortunately and to my sister’s dismay, I did not use the cook book.

When I went to Rancho La Puerto Spa in Mexico last summer, I was exposed to a diet that was not purely Vegan but there was very little dairy, no meat and Seafood served only once.  Flax and Chia seeds were always abundant to sprinkle on the salads or vegetables.

The spa promotes eating abundant portions of nutrient dense foods. I ate a lot and found that I had very few sugar cravings and I didn’t gain an ounce. I also felt great.

I came back with renewed interest in an alternative eating style. Then I happened upon a website called Damy Health. It was written by a personal trainer and included many Vegetarian and Vegan recipes.  One I mentioned earlier was for a Cashew Cheese. There were those raw Cashews showing up again. Still it sounded so good, I made it and it’s one of my favorite foods now.

I was on a roll. I found a recipe for Pumpkin No Bake Energy bites http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/pumpkin-no-bake-energy-bites/. I love Pumpkin and Pumpkin seeds so this was a no brainer. I am allergic to oats so I managed to make them using wheat flakes (sorry Gluten free gang).

Next were Candy Apple Macaroons http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2011/03/candy-apple-macaroons/. They weren’t quite like the picture but I liked them and I was eating something healthier than cookies. 

 Since I was branching out, I decided this weekend to try Vegan Mac and Cheese http://www.damyhealth.com/2012/11/vegan-cauliflower-mac-cheese/. This one was a real stretch for me because the Mac part is really grated cauliflower. I love raw cauliflower but I have no love for cooked cauliflower. Still, I wanted to be adventurous so I took on the task of making it the Vegan way.

So, now I must stop to tell you. Vegan cooking is a lot of work and it’s expensive too. There are always specialty ingredients, like flax meal, unsweetened coconut, almond flour etc. The flax meal comes in large bags. I only needed 3 tbl so I bought flax seed and put it in my coffee grinder. The almond flour is 11 dollars a bag. I only needed a tablespoon so again I ground it myself from toasted almonds.  Nutritional yeast was another trip to Central Market. Almond Milk, well it also comes in a carton, so I am now mixing it in with my milk for cereal.

I was starting to feel like I lived in the 1800’s, having to grind my own flour and seeds. I imagined that as I read further down the recipe, it might require me to build a fire to boil water in a kettle. That wasn’t the case but modern equipment isn’t always as simple as it seems.

It was time to grate the Cauliflower. I pulled  out the 25 year old (modern!)Cuisinart Food Processor. That alone is like lifting weights. I was just talking about it to my sister, touting all the things I used it for and how long I have had it.  Well I broke it grating the Cauliflower (no fault of the Cauliflower). The grating disk is now stuck on the stem and I can’t get them apart.  This is really some expensive Mac and Cheese.

The result….well I am not there yet. I started to put it all together for lunch when it dawned on me…Gas…Did I really want to eat a bowl of Cauliflower with Nutritional yeast for lunch?  What would I feel like later? Isn’t Cauliflower a gas producing vegetable?  Hmm…why didn’t I think of this before I broke the Processor! I cooked up some regular old gluten full macaroni and mixed it with the Cauliflower then put it all together and baked it. 

Now for the result…it was pretty good but not anywhere near the time, money and trouble it cost. 

Tomorrow I think I will make a piece of Salmon and a salad. Maybe I will even throw come Chia seeds on for good measure.  That’s more my style. Vegans must have a lot of money and time on their hands. Ask Bill Clinton or Steve Wynn or surprisingly Mike Tyson (yes he is Vegan,  except for an ear now and then).