Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vegan Santa Brings Vegan Marshmallows

Snow, I think snow is cold and miserable however the kid loves it. She was dissapointed when we didn't get snow on Christmas but thrilled to see the 3 inches of the yucky stuff we received the next day. We bundled up in several layers and ran out to play, hike and most importantly, have a snowball fight.

Elena with her sled
After she was done with the sled and my snowman turned out goofy, Jason and the sled went inside and Elena started on a hike. It was gorgegous in the woods with the snow covering everything. We were alone and it was super quiet, very peaceful. We watched little birds fly around and watched a creek flow melting snow as it floated along.

Ok, it sucks but it is pretty

As we started to head back, Elena mentioned to me that our Santa was vegan. She doesn't believe anymore but likes to talk as if she does. She described our Vegan Santa at great length. He is good friends with Dr. Will Tuttle and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, he recycles gift wrap and he treats his reindeer with respect. She said that if the reindeer do not want to pull the sled, he doesn't make them. Vegan Santa wouldn't want to eat the processed cookies and cow's milk (ew) that other kids leave out.  She then remembered that our Santa brought Dandie's Vegan Marshmallows and placed them in Elena's stocking. It was about this time that we were cold and so naturally the next thought was to go home and make hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Walking home in a winter wonderland

Elena walked me through the steps to make hot chocolate on our way home. She suggested almond milk, cocoa powder and vegan sugar. I suggested letting a candy cane melt in it and she later thought to sprinkle cinnamon in the pot as well. The result was one of the best mugs of hot chocolate that I have ever tasted.

All dry and ready to enjoy

Delicious cup of vegan hot chocolate

Stay warm and safe out there! I hope Vegan Santa visits you too.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Operation Vegan Gingerbread Man

Elena and I made gingerbread cookies! She could not wait and even shouted "let operation vegan gingerbread man begin" as we were gathering the ingredients. They were super tasty and very cute.

Fuzzy but cute Elena rolling gingerbread dough
She decided to make two gingerfriends and have them hold hands. They were later decorated in matching tank tops. The tank tops look more like bathing suits if you ask me. It was sad when the bond (or dark chocolate chip) that held the friends together broke. However they were consumed quickly afterwards.

Naked gingerfriends

Gingerfriends sporting tank tops and smiles

We decorated most of the cookies but kept a few plain. I will definitely make these again especially to pack in Elena's school lunch. We will not cover the lunch cookies in icing however maybe a dark chocolate chip here and there.

Vegan gingerbread candy canes

More of Elena's gingerbread creations

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Yogi Potluck

This past weekend was my December Yoga Teacher Training weekend. On Sunday, we decided to bring in a dish to share for lunch. We had so much yummy food including a broccoli "cheese" soup, cornbread, fresh veggies, apple cake and cupcakes. I brought tofu salad sandwiches with peppers, onions and celery. There was also hummus and bread with a oil and herb mix for dipping.

The Lucky 13 Yogis (love you all!)

Before we ate, we held hands and chanted together appreciating each other and the food that was made with love. We sat in a circle sharing our food and conversation. This is an awesome group of people going through an incredible experience together.

Colorful veggies from Mara

Lori's broccoli "cheese" soup

We are 5 months into our 12 month training. We have started teaching each other during our weekends together and are teaching friends and family outside of the training. Everyone is doing so well. I feel very fortunate to be a part of something so special.

Rebecca's plate full of OMazing food

An important part of our training is to learn and live ahimsa or the practice of causing no harm to oneself, other beings and the Earth. We have compassionate cooking classes learning to make vegan meals that are tastier versions of their harmful counterparts.

Now for dessert, Lauren's cupcakes...
and Diane's apple cake
What do yogis in training do on lunch break after they are full??

They hoop and study!

Namaste Lucky 13,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Secret Santa Vegan Style

We decided to draw names for Secret Santas at work. We would buy three little gifts over 10 days and later exchange a bigger gift. Drew, our team "party planner" asked that we include a few suggestions for the little gifts. I think this may have been because everyone would have been freaked out if they drew the vegan's name. This might not have been the reason but I would bet on it. I listed candy canes, pretzels and vegan chocolate. I thought this would be pretty easy for most people to find. My secret Santa first left me candy canes, then chocolate and finally a big bag of pretzels. Thanks Secret Santa! My secret Santa turned out to be Josh who admitted he was a little nervous to have the vegan but he did a fantastic job.

Drew, our party planner

Josh, my secret Santa
In addition to the gift exchange, we had a food day. I don't look forward to food days because I can be stuck with very little to eat. Our theme was a barbeque so I decided to make baked beans. I was surprised to find out that Tony was making sure his pasta salad was vegan and Larry was making vegan brownies and curry rice. Very cool. A day or two after the party, Rob brought me tofu wraps. My team rocks!

Quinoa salad, pasta salad, baked beans and curry rice!

My meal didn't contain veggies but that's ok. I eat a ton of veggies every day. The gesture from the team was super cool however next time I think I will bring in a small veggie tray to make sure we all get some veggies.

Tony and Derrick

Tamiki and Larry (his vegan brownies were awesome)

Better picture of Tamiki and Angela

Kelli (in the front) and Angela (in the back)

Rob with an odd look on his face

I was hoping for a group photo but that didn't work out. I will definitely get a picture when our week vegan challenge kicks off. It has been delayed until after the holidays. We spend more time with our coworkers than our families. I am lucky to have a group of quirky, funny and caring people to work with all day.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Team Stewart!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grandpa's Vegan Birthday Chili

Elena and her Grandpa Thierbach have a few days between their birthdays so we always celebrate them together.  Grandpa Thierbach offered to make a vegan meal for Elena for her birthday. He made a wonderful, hearty chili and a salad and we brought a homemade chocolate cake and vanilla icing. He made me a copy of the recipe but I left it however I do remember a few of the ingredients: tomatos, onions, peppers, bourbon, chickpeas, ginger and vegan meat crumbles.

Grandpa's Vegan Chili
Elena and Grandpa's Birthday Cake

Elena received a cardboard castle to color that stands over 7 feet tall. It is awesome and will take weeks to color completely. I bought a new pack of markers and we work on it a little each night.
Grandpa received a few vinyl albums.

Happy Birthday Elena and Grandpa!

To many more vegan birthdays!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cheese and Sausage Nightmare

I had a dream last night that I was eating a sandwich with cheese and sausage. I was horrified but I kept eating it anyway. What the heck does that mean??!!

Good thing it wasn't real! I loved my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast, salad and potato wedges for lunch and faux chicken patty, pasta and garlic bread for dinner.

To sweet vegan dreams,

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tempeh Bacon and Subpar Pumpkin Pancakes

I have been wanting to make pumpkin pancakes and tempeh bacon for months now. I typically wake up early and go into work on the weekends so I haven't had the opportunity to do this. If I didn't go to work then I was out of pumpkin or tempeh. I purposely stayed home yesterday morning to make pumpkin pancakes and tempeh bacon. The bacon was pretty tasty however the pancakes were reminiscent of a crappy pie I made a few weeks ago...subpar.

marinating tempeh...(new band name??)

The bacon...
I will start with the bacon because I was proud of how this turned out. I bought Lightlife Soy Tempeh
and cut in small, thin strips. I added it to a pan with olive oil, liquid smoke, tamari, garlic and pepper. I let the tempeh and marinade hang out for a bit and turned the tempeh over a few times to allow both sides to be coated.  Once the pancakes were declared a disaster, the same griddle was scraped off in preparation to cook the bacon. I poured a lil olive oil on the griddle and placed the bacon strips on the griddle about 3 minutes on each side. It crisped right up, just like bacon without the fear, death, misery or saturated fat (if you need a personal reason to refrain from killing animals for food when it isn't necessary).

tempeh bacon with tolerable pancake

We loved the bacon so much that we enjoyed it again for dinner in a sauteed veggie sandwich. I added kale, green onions, mustard greens, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, garlic and then lemon juice and zest to a pan. Once mixed and warm, we placed on toasted bread with tempeh bacon. Damn that was a good sandwich. No pictures, I ate it too fast.

The pancakes...
The pancakes were made from a box mix (first mistake). I asked Elena to prepare the flax egg that she KNOWS is one tablespoon of flax seed and 4 tablespoons of hot water. I am not sure what she was thinking though because her flax egg was a some flax and some cold water. Oh well, I used it anyway (second mistake). I added canned pumpkin to this mix which changed the consistency so I added more milk to thin it out (third mistake). Needless to say, I should have made the pancake batter from scratch instead of saving time with a mix. For some odd reason, two or three of them turned out while the remainder made a huge globby mess.

Big globby pancake mess

Jason was incredibly supportive as I beat myself up over crappy pancakes. Thanks cutie! I will just have to try again if I can ever stay home again on the weekend.

To experimenting and trying again,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

New Family Traditions

Last year at Thanksgiving, we refrained from turkey and ham however dined on dishes containing butter, eggs and cheese. We were learning more and thinking about the impact of our decisions however we were not there yet. The holidays and family gatherings were the most difficult for me to refuse food I didn't want because I was afraid to offend loved ones. I wasn't comfortable enough yet to defend my preferences and found it easier to just give in. Many times Elena and I took food and then put it back when no one was looking.

This year we had our first Thanksgiving with vegan dishes. My mother in law embraced it calling it our new family tradition. She made turkey for the meat eaters and Jason bought a Trader Joe's turkey free roast for us. We brought vegan mac and cheese, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Linda made vegan spicy squash and onions and sweet potatoes. We took Earth Balance with us and everyone used it!

Linda, Elena and I on Thanksgiving

Dinner was wonderful. Jason's stuffing was the best I have ever enjoyed before! Everyone ate lots of food including the vegan dishes. Vegan Thanksgiving with the family was a success!

Loaded vegan plate...YUM

Spicy squash and onions with love

We all had a great time and made sure to remember family that were not able to be with us or those we have lost. We drank a toast to Brenda, Hop and those that are out of town with a wonderful wine made specifically in Aunt Brenda's honor.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is about appreciating what you have and spending time with loved ones.

Gobble gobble,


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jason's Shells and Cheese

Jason has been cooking more due to my yoga teacher training weekends and a particularly yucky project at work. One evening after an exhausting yoga weekend (we were in plank for long periods of time while trying to transition each other into other positions), I came home to a dinner of falafel burgers, mac and cheese (YUM) and roasted potato pieces. I have made quasi mac and cheese here and there using vegan parmesan, Earth Balance and a splash of milk but I have not yet tried to go all out and make real vegan mac and cheese. Jason went all out.

Jason's shells and cheese with a panko crust topping

He used whole wheat shells, Daiya cheese, Earth Balance, diced red pepper pieces, almond milk, nutritional yeast, veggie broth and garlic. Elena and I loved it! We have asked him to make another pan for Thanksgiving. He is thinking about adding broccoli and cauliflower next time. The potatoes are a staple at the Thierbach dinner table. We roast onions and sweet potato pieces as well. The burgers were made from Fantastic Foods Falafel mix. Everything was very tasty and I so appreciate my husband making dinner so often anymore, not to mention the laundry, dishes, etc. Thanks Jason!

My vegan family

To an awesome and supportive family,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We All Scream For...Vegan Raspberry Sorbet

I have been wanting a Vitamix for some time now. It was a good thing I mentioned this to Jason casually, planting an idea for a possible Christmas gift. He informed me that his mom had one and hasn't used it (that he was aware of) for a long time. We went to see Linda this past weekend and because she is moving into a smaller place, she asked if she had anything that we could use. No way, I am now the proud owner of a beautiful Vitamix. It is an older model in perfect condition. It is pretty. Check it out...

Cashew butter and ice cream for everyone!

The first thing Elena wanted to make was ice cream. We added raspberries, vanilla (just a small capful), a splash of almond coconut milk and ice to the Vitamix and let it go. We ended up with more of a sorbet but that was OK, it was delicious anyway.

Elena adding the raspberries
Raspberry Sorbet
I am thinking a banana chocolate ice cream for our next try or maybe something with peanut butter. My kid pointed out that the taste was so fresh that you could taste the different ingredients. She was right. The vanilla added a depth to this treat that was definitely worth the effort. Who says vegans are missing out??

My beautiful mom in law with Elena ironically in Graeter's PV (pre vegan)


Wait a minute, Thanksgiving is next week. How about Pumpkin Ice Cream?!

To a cool treat on a cool evening,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Never the Same Veggie Soup

We love soup! It is so easy to make and a wonderful way to keep warm in the fall and winter.  A few days ago, we made a wonderful veggie soup with butternut squash and zucchini however last night we made a equally comforting veggie soup with mustard greens.

Squash and zucchini veggie soup with mixed grains

Every pot is different but they will all contain celery, onion and carrots that have been sauteed in Bragg's Amino Acids, liquid smoke and plenty of garlic. We will add either veggie broth like Trader Joe's Organic Vegetable Broth or veggie bouillon cubes. Next we add noodles, couscous, beans, barley, or quinoa (or a combination of several). Don't forget nutritional yeast and I know if my yogis from The Lucky 13 are reading you will not forget the nutritional yeast. Then add any special vegetables for example, rainbow chard, mustard greens, squash cubes, peppers, zucchini, you name it. We let it all cook together for 20 minutes on medium high and then serve with salad or sandwich. It is good right away but even better tomorrow.

Veggie soup with mustard greens and rotini

Stay warm,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Subpar Pumpkin Pie

Oh my goodness. It has been way too long since my last post. I have so much to share and NO time to do it. For the past few weeks, a complex project at work coupled with two back to back yoga teacher training weekends have left no time to call my dad, eat lunch or post updates on the blog. I am not only neglecting the blog, I feel like I am neglecting my family.

Last Sunday, after being gone all weekend with yoga and staying late at the work during the week, I promised Elena we would make a pumpkin pie. We had looked at several recipes and decided to use a recipe with silken tofu. I picked up one package of silken tofu and headed home, exhausted and not really wanting to bake at all. Elena was so excited that I had to bake the pie. It was our time together that weekend. I opened the pack of silken tofu and started to squeeze some of the water out of it. Having only cooked with firm or extra firm tofu, I was in shock as the whole block of silken tofu slid out of the container and down the drain! I was so upset at ruining Elena's only time with me that weekend that I started crying. She hugged me and said we didn't have to bake the pie (total sweetie). I was determined now. We found a recipe without tofu and then realized we didn't have sugar or any other sweetener except for molasses. We made the pie with molasses and it was not good. We called it our Subpar Pumpkin Pie.

This weekend we bought sugar and decided to try again. I decided to skip the silken tofu this time. Someone tell me how to remove the water without destroying this stuff. Anyway our new pie was awesome and no tears shedded!

Elena's first time electric mixing!

Above Average Pumpkin Pie
Elena and Jaben, just because

To A Vegan Fall,

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Work Week Vegan Challenge

When my coworkers first expressed interest in a team week long challenge, I wasn't sure they were serious however several people continue to express interest. I offered to gather a list of resources, a shopping list and sample recipes to assist them in this endeavor. I want to make some sort of a hard card with the big stuff everyone wants to know; calcium sources, protein info, common substitues, etc. I looked at Oprah's challenge info for her staff, PETA's starter kit and a few online resources. I am unable to find exactly what I am looking for so I am going to create my own. Please feel free to pass along any other resources that you may have found that would be helpful.

The only picture I have of my coworkers
I will post pictures of the finished product and follow my team's journey here as well.  The picture above is a little outdated (a few people left and a few have joined since then) however I will get a new picture once the challenge begins.

Elena pretending to work

To sharing knowledge and helping others,

The Jubilee Food!

There is OMazing food at The World Peace Jubliee! Thursday I enjoyed some of the best food that I have ever tasted. Seriously. At every meal, there were very few conversations however many people exclaiming "wow", "damn" or "this is the best insert any food here I have ever had".  I have to try to recreate the mac and cheese, corn bread, polenta and peanut soup.

The best mac and "cheese" EVER, seriously ever

I spent most of the day helping in the kitchen. I am hoping that I was able to soak up a little of that cooking wonder and apply it at home. I didn't have a chance to take too many pictures but I managed to take a few. I helped cut fruit for a fruit salad, chopped pineapple for smoothies and made big batches of coleslaw among other things.  I left my kitchen duties for a few hours to assist in a cooking class. Christy Morgan or The Blissful Chef  was teaching a cooking class making smoothies, pumpkin pancakes and tempeh bacon. I assisted in passing out samples, taking pictures and assisting in clean up. I am volunteering again tomorrow and I am almost sad that I will not be in the kitchen. I will be in the Boutique. If are fortunate enough to be coming to The Jubilee, stop in and say hi (or bring me some lunch ;).

Roasted cauliflower with fennel (SO GOOD)

I have to go to bed early so I maybe can get a piece of that cinnamon coffeecake before I start working!

Good night,