Adventures in Ethiopian Cooking

Over the holidays, I got a vegan Ethiopian cookbook, Teff Love, by Kittee Berns, for a present.

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I have loved Ethiopian cuisine since I lived in the Boston area, where I used to go to a restaurant in Cambridge, MA called Addi’s Red Sea. It is a very vegan friendly cuisine. Vegnews recently shared a story that has more about Ethiopian culture and their food and why it’s so vegan-friendly. Check it out here.

At first I only had the time and energy to try the Ethiopian style tofu scramble recipe. I’m pretty sure I could eat that almost every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it. What really makes it is the berbere spice, the signature spice mix for the cuisine…although I’m a baby when it comes to spice and so I reduce it by quite a bit.

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You can get it in the international section of Whole Foods, among other places, I am sure.

One of the best parts of the food is the Injera, the spongy, crepe-like sourdough bread that you eat everything with. It can be used instead of utensils. It’s naturally gluten free (made from teff flour–which inspired the name of Bern’s cookbook). However, it takes up to a week to fully make, which is a bit complicated…but worth it if you can figure it out. If you are pressed for time though, the book has a teff crepe recipe which is really awesome as well.

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Another great aspect of Ethiopian food is that it makes a lot of food, and it lends itself to making multiple dishes and feeding lots of people.

For example, the first time I made it, I gave some to my friend who had just had a baby as part of a meal train.

Here’s a picture she took of her plate:

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And here is one of my favorite pictures of my own plate (one of many):

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Also, my dad happens to work with someone from Ethiopia, who ended up giving me a huge jar of Teff flour! It was very exciting as it’s like hitting the teff jackpot!

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After making a large batch of food for myself and my friend and her family, I made a dish by itself. It is called ye’zelbo gomen be’karot, which is kale with carrots, onions and mild spices. It’s seriously the best kale dish I’ve ever eaten, and that is saying a lot (I love kale) and my whole family loves it.

Speaking of which: yesterday (Wednesday April 7), after spending the weekend in my kitchen making a big feast for Monday, only to have snow (!!!) cancel the class, I served the small college program, College Unbound, who helped me get my bachelor’s degree, the feast as well! I kept raving about the kale dish to everyone, and one student said she doesn’t like kale, but I got her to try it anyways, and she really liked it! Her cousin who was also there, was claiming she might need to contact the local news channel because I had her trying foods she’d never tried before, and she’s usually so picky…which was a big compliment for myself and the author of the cookbook! Here are a few pictures of some of the other students posing with their plates:

Also, the majority of the students had never had Ethiopian food before when we asked. Most people who tried it were not put off by the fact that there wasn’t meat in the dishes, which can happen sometimes when I am feeding large groups (or at least they didn’t say it to my face! haha). I had one person comment to me that the split peas in mild sauce (called ye’ater kik alicha in the book) had a meatlike texture. My friend Domingo, who is pictured in the first picture above, was excited also that I made the vegan Ethiopian style mac and cheesie, because he’s lactose intolerant.

It was a really positive experience for myself and all involved. Especially because I could effortlessly share my love of another culture’s food and share that vegan food doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or leave you craving protein (in fact, the red lentils in spicy sauce, in a dish called ye’misser wot, have 15g of protein per serving, according to Teff Love!). I hope to do it again soon.

And I can’t recommend the cookbook Teff Love, enough!

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Kittens, final classes, vegfest, oh my!

Hi! I’ve been slacking a bit with my posts, but with good reason!

First, I adopted a kitten!

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He’s the best. He was already named when we got him. His name is Sam (his litter mates were all named after Lord of the Rings characters), but we like to call him Sammy. He’s so playful and cuddly but also a little skittish.

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(oh, and as you can see I am rocking a new colorful hair style!!) I’ve been spending a lot of time with him, bonding and such. He was really scared at first and was skeptical of sleeping in my bed, but now he likes to cuddle with me in it, especially in the mornings. He’s keeping me on a better sleep-wake routine which is awesome. He is 13 weeks old, and we got him when he was 12 weeks. He really loves people too, lots of people have met him so far, and he isn’t afraid or timid of any of us.

Next up on my big news, I finished all the work for my degree! As part of one of my classes, I made a new website too and got business cards! You can check it out at veg-edu-ables.com! I’m hoping to start mentoring people who want to be vegan near me, and doing other things like cooking classes, food demos, providing food for different organizations, helping with people’s writing (which can be for anything, vegan or otherwise, but most of my writing has something to do with veganism, so that’s why it’s there too!), and more! I finished all my work for my Bachelor of Science degree on October 18, 2015! I will have that paper in my hand some time after December 31st! (My college has 8 week terms, where you take 2 classes each term for a total of 4 classes per semester). I’m so happy to be done early and have some time to really start working on some of my awesome projects!

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This calls for some celebration!

Part of that celebration was going to the Boston Vegfest! I went there today with my mom…my mom was really excited because she’s lactose intolerant and could have cheese and chocolates and all kinds of stuff! She’s never actually been somewhere that she can have so much stuff at! I got a lot of cool stuff, some for my birthday coming up this Thursday the 29th…

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I couldn’t decide what stickers to get at Herbivore so I got a ton…also some pins from Compassion Co.

I also got this gluten free magic bar from FoMu:

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I also got a vegan bacon chocolate bar from Rescue Chocolate, a t-shirt with a cow on it that says “Create Kindness” from Herbivore, some (vegan of course) sour cream and chive cashews, some Pulsin protein bars (it’s really hard to find good gluten free AND vegan protein bars), and tons of free samples. My mom was especially excited that So Delicious was giving away free full size mocha ice cream pops, her fave! (I was surprisingly not very hungry and so I didn’t eat that much stuff until I had a vegan hot dog that came in a gluten free wrap and had a delicious kale salad, coconut bacon, and chipotle mayo on it!! yum!) It was a really great day and my mom actually loved it, which I was a little worried she wouldn’t like it as much as she did! 🙂

I came home and made some pizza with Schar’s gluten free crust which makes pizza so much easier for me. It was a buffalo chicken ranch pizza.

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I made it by spreading the buffalo sauce on the crust, putting a mix of Follow Your Heart (hand-shredded) mozzarella and cheddar on top, cooking up Beyond Meat vegan chicken strips and then cutting them into pieces and putting them on top…then I baked the pizza. When it was done I drizzled this amazing vegan ranch dressing I found at my local grocery store!

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It’s so good, it has a coconut milk base. I love it! And they have other varieties that are both gluten free and vegan that I want to try too! 🙂

So yeah, it’s a really easy pizza to make. I also made a similar one not too long ago with bbq sauce…

Anyways, that’s the update, hope you’re having as much fun as I am lately!!

Done with the semester! Woohoo! A Black Forest Cake Smoothie recipe to celebrate!

Hi everyone!

I’m super excited. Yesterday I finished all my work for the term at college. I have one class this summer, and two classes in the Fall before I complete my Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational and Community Studies and Psychology (It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know!) Since I am so close, I will be walking with my class at College Unbound this May 30! I’m so excited. In two weeks I will be giving a special presentation on my journey towards this achievement and feeding people delicious vegan treats!

Anyhow, I think I’ve created the most delicious vegan protein smoothie ever!! It’s a Black Forest Cake Smoothie! For a long time as a child, my brother would request black forest cake every birthday. It was his favorite, and sometimes difficult to find. Last week, this obsession of his randomly popped into my mind, and I realized what a great smoothie it’d be!

Here is the recipe (feel free to add stuff/substitute as desired):

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Vegan Black Forest Cake Protein Smoothie (Gluten free):

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 scoops (depending on serving size) vegan chocolate protein powder (I used Vega One)
  •  3 tbsp Glutino Brownie Mix (or other gluten free and vegan cake or brownie mix, I like Glutino because it has mini chocolate chips in it!)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup organic, vegan, gluten free cherry pie filling
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite vegan non dairy milk (I used almond milk, but coconut milk from a can would be even more amazing!)
  • Handful of baby spinach (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a blender, blend everything together until smooth.
  2. Serve in a cup. If you use a small straw, some of the chocolate chips from the brownie mix may get stuck inside, so beware.
  3. Enjoy, it’s delicious!!

I’m so happy that I’m so close to being done with school and have a bit of a break! I am looking forward to posting here a bit more frequently!!

Vegan Mofo day 24: Worldly Wednesday: Walnut Meat, tofu ricotta, and pesto lasagna

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Hello everyone! I’m very excited today because I just got put up on my college program’s website about the work I’m doing. They interviewed me and I talked about my blog and my future plans of incorporating a vegan project into my education plan.

You can view that article here!

Anyways, on to the food!

This lasagna is quite rich with the walnut meat, and has tons of protein due to the tofu ricotta, and a healthy dose of greens due to the pesto (with basil and parsley!).

This walnut meat here is very similar to my earlier recipe but changed slightly to change the flavor from a hamburger style to a more italian style. The tofu ricotta is also quite similar to the one for the pizza recipe I posted earlier on Sept. 12, but I changed it again because there is a separate basil factor with the pesto, so extra basil in the ricotta was not necessary.

Here is the recipe:

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Ingredients:

For the walnut meat:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 portobello cap
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes in juice, no salt added, canned
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the pesto:

  • 2 cups basil, packed
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, not packed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the ricotta:

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1 tsp salt free italian seasoning blend
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp water

Other necessary ingredients:

  • 1 & 2/3 cup Tomato sauce, either homemade (your favorite recipe) or store bought (I love Victoria brand marinara)
  • no-boil vegan lasagna noodles
  • 1/3 cup Daiya brand vegan mozzarella style cheese, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the walnut meat. Place walnuts, onion, garlic and portobello into a food processor and blend until everything melds together but remains chunky.
  3. Place this mushy walnut meat into a bowl, and fold in the remaining ingredients.
  4. On a parchment lined baking sheet, pat down the “meat” into a thin layer with a spatula.
  5. Bake 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and with a spatula, scrape up the “meat” and flip it.
  6. Bake for 15 more minutes and set aside.
  7. Prepare the pesto. First place the basil, parsley, and garlic and chop in the food processor until finely ground.
  8. Add the pine nuts and olive oil into the mix, and blend. You will need to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything gets properly mixed together and to get a good consistency. Set aside, in a bowl, but leave some of the remnants of the pesto in the food processor for the next step.
  9. Make the ricotta by adding all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides with the rubber spatular once or twice to get everything together.
  10. Grease a 9 x 13” pan with cooking spray.
  11. Lay out three dry lasagna noodles (or more if you could not find the no-boil type after boiling them, of course) on the bottom of the pan.
  12. Spread 2/3 cup of the sauce on top.
  13. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta and pesto on top.
  14. Crumble and sprinkle 1/2 the batch of the walnut meat on top with your hands.
  15. Place another layer of dry lasagna noodles on top and repeat steps 12-14.
  16. Place the final layer of noodles on top, and add just 1/3 cup of the sauce and the remainder of the pesto and ricotta (with the ricotta on the top layer!)
  17. Sprinkle 1/3 cup daiya mozzarella on top.
  18. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  19. Let sit 10 minutes after taking out of the oven, and enjoy.

photo 1 (4)The pesto

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The ricotta

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The first layer of the lasagna

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Buon Appetito!

An Update finally! As of yesterday I am a graduate with an Associate’s degree!

Hurray! I graduated from my community college yesterday with high honors (my gpa ended up at a 3.72!). This was an extremely important milestone in my life, as it’s been a long time coming, and there was a point in my life where I never thought I would graduate from any college or even finish a semester. 

 

ImageAfter the ceremony and reception, we went to a local restaurant, Blaze, which has a whole section on the menu of vegan dishes. I got the Penne with pink vodka sauce, which also had a variety of mushrooms in it, and a huge portobello mushroom on top. It was quite good.

Then we went home, I whipped up some hot fudge sauce and some coconut whipped cream, and this happened:

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A vegan hot fudge sundae with FoMu salted caramel ice cream. FoMu is a Boston based vegan ice cream company that just started selling pints of their ice creams in RI Whole Foods stores! It is pricey but so worth it! http://www.fomuicecream.com/

I’m really excited to have graduated, and I’ll probably relax for a few days, and then get back to regular blogging activity! The last month and more of this semester was tough, but I got through it (even got straight As!) 

 

 

 

mish mosh of things and the week in review of foodie photos (albeit a day late!)

Yesterday there was no post because I was so tired! I had to get up really early and go to an event at the school I plan to go to for Culinary Arts and hopefully nutrition! I got to try out working in a culinary classroom for three hours. I made the quinoa salad that was on the menu, which was nice. I was really scared/nervous and struggled a bit due to that, but I am so excited to learn more, and I learned so much in that short amount of time! It was so enjoyable and went by really fast, there was no time to spare!

I am looking forward to starting in the Fall!

I have decided to try to only use my banana ratings system for vegan products and companies that I try now. The reason for this is because I want to be supportive of people like me or my vegan chef role models even if I don’t love a recipe as much as I would like to. I will still make suggestions and tips and maybe some constructive criticism when necessary, but will try to be more positive from now on. I think that’s fair because I would like the same types of things said about me and my recipes.

I made some really good food this week!

Here are some pictures/descriptions/links to them!

Buffalo Cauliflower (Made without hot sauce!) with dill cashew dip

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This recipe was amazing! I ate so much of it! I love that it does not use bottled hot sauce and instead uses herbs and spices to make your own. This way, I could control the sodium content and it was not ridiculous in that regard. It was extremely tasty, too. I put a little more cayenne in it and it was the perfect hotness. The dip blew me away though! It tastes exactly like blue cheese somehow!! I liked it so much that I am going to make it again this week!

Tempeh Sloppy Joe’s

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My picture definitely lives up to the “sloppy” title. Oops. I found this recipe here.. It was quite tasty and I loved that it had so many servings of vegetables in it! The cooked cherry tomatoes were a great idea. I added black olives (although I did not like how they tasted in it really), chopped scallions, and tofutti sour cream into half a pita. I did mix the tempeh with the sauce.

I think that was it, I had lots of salads and was eating leftovers from last week too!

This upcoming week you should get some really great ideas/inspiration from the recipes I will be cooking from! Or at least, have to wipe up your watering mouth. Hopefully I’ll be able to post at least on Friday, but it depends on my schedule and school stuff!

Exciting news in my world!

Hey!

So I forgot to post my typical Friday entry, and had been so excited with some great news I received this week, that it must be why I forgot! But also, I wanted to write a special post about all the new things that are going to be happening!

First of all, my last semester at my community college before I receive my Associate’s degree in General Studies starts this Tuesday! Forgive me if I don’t post as often as I have been due to adjusting to my new schedule…although I may surprise myself by writing some posts…

Second (there are 3 big things total to share), my recipe for the vegan “Scallops” Wrapped in “Bacon” was featured on the Bake and Destroy blog! I’m so honored to share my recipe there, and also so happy and proud the recipe came out so well! Here is the link to it, if you have not seen it yet!!

Thirdly (and finally!) I got accepted into a culinary arts degree program! It’s at Johnson and Wales University, in Providence, RI (about a 20 minute drive from where I live!). My goal is to get my Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Nutrition (and maybe even become a Registered Dietitian when I complete it…but one step a time…) but I have to prove myself first by completing the Culinary Arts associate’s degree with a 3.0 gpa, and applying (with references and some volunteer or work experience in nutrition). I do not think it will be much of an issue, but we shall see! Either way I am very excited!

Because of this I might try to focus on some health and nutrition topics that I enjoy, believe, and can share that have helped me from my experiences (or link to resources I can share), in addition to the usual delicious recipes, food pictures, and other vegan lifestyle related posts! I also really would like to try to include some more illustrations to accompany my blog again, but we shall see…

By the way, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to follow me on the facebook page (it’s easier to keep track of when I post new things if you don’t have your own wordpress!) https://www.facebook.com/bananacurlvegangirl

You can also find me on twitter https://twitter.com/laurahasheart

and even Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/hasheart/

Until next time friends! Keep eating deliciously!

Random post and a delicious autumn flavor breakfast sandwich recipe

Hello there!

I completely spaced out writing this past week’s Food Porn Friday entry. I was planning to write it but then things got in the way. My uncle from Georgia was in town and we went to get Thai food fairly late. By the time we got home and were done visiting, along with my stressful week (I had 2 exams in one day last week! blah) I just crashed without going on to the computer to update. Similarly, I did not have the time or energy to create any original recipes to post here. I’m really hoping this doesn’t become a regular thing, and I hate that I am writing this entry with my excuses for why I didn’t update, but basically, I need to find a good way to juggle being in college. staying healthy, and trying to be creative with this blog (and keep it going and inventive and inspired and promote it, etc). 

That being said, this past week saw me making baked apple cider donuts (recipe here), matzo brei again (recipe here), roasted brussels sprouts with maple syrup and chestnuts (my own recipe attempt that was just “meh” overall so I am not going to post it), apple pie  chia breakfast parfait (recipe here), vegan “chicken caesar salad (my own concoction with this dressing recipe), and a tempeh reuben casserole (recipe here).

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Clockwise from top left: Parfait, Donut, Caesar Salad, Reuben Casserole, and Matzo Brei.

This morning I made the tastiest breakfast sandwich I’ve had in as long as I can remember. It’s very much in touch with seasonal autumn flavors. The recipe is here. I used whole food’s prepared meatless sausage patty, raw baby spinach, and a daiya cheddar slice though instead of what was suggested in the recipe.

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The fake cheddar and pumpkin butter create an amazing taste. The mushrooms meld together with all the flavors and make it even more of a meatier texture. I savored every bite of it until it was gone 😦

I give this recipe 5 good bananas!

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That pretty much wraps everything up that I wanted to say in this entry today.

But before I finish, I wanted to give a glimpse on something I’m working on/worried about: vegan art supplies I can use for making illustrations. It has come to my attention that it’s somewhat difficult to determine whether markers and pens and the whole gamut of arts and craft supplies are vegan or not, and many are not (even down to paper and stuff). For now I want to post a link to this resource that helped me figure out how to do some research on this topic and also made me feel a bit less overwhelmed by that task. Eventually I think a post with various arts and craft brands and their status would be good for me or someone else to compile and share around as a resource, we’ll see what ends up happening.

That’s all for now! Hopefully this new week won’t leave me as busy or stressed and I can blog more!