Beans Not Bambi

Vegan mission: doing the least harm possible. For health, for the animals, for the planet

Easy Stuffed French Toast

I created this concoction the other day when I was looking for a change of pace for breakfast, while using simple ingredients I had on hand.  The result?  A gourmet tasty breakfast in 15 minutes or less.  I just had to share!

Ingredients:

8 slices of bread (I use Ezekiel 7 sprouted grains so it works even with hearty breads!)
1 cup vanilla non-dairy milk
1 Tbsp Ener-G Egg replacer (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c raspberries, chopped
Cream cheese frosting
Powdered sugar or maple syrup

Pre-heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Whisk together the milk and egg replacer.  Whisk briskly for 1 minute until frothy.  Stir in vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Lightly grease a large griddle or two large frying pans.  Dip one side of each slice of bread in the milk mixture and place carefully on the heated pan, moist side down.  Spread the dry side of the bread with cream cheese frosting and drop chopped raspberries into the cream cheese mixture.  Heat until browned on the bottom and flip one piece on top of the other to form a raspberry cream cheese sandwich.  Top with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

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Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

This really couldn’t be much easier!  It’s a great topping for cupcakes or carrot cake, and it’s a fabulous stuffing base for stuffed french toast!

From Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Joy of Vegan Baking:

Ingredients:
8 oz nondairy cream cheese, cold (Tofutti brand is my favorite)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c confectioner’s sugar

I like to add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top

Combine the cream cheese, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor and pulse all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  

Spread atop cooled cake or cupcakes!

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

In my search for a fall treat for an upcoming event, I easily remembered a treat I made a while back.  It’s a crowd pleaser, and trust me – no one will know it’s vegan unless you tell them!

From Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s, Joy of Vegan Baking, I used her carrot cake recipe and formed cupcakes rather than baking a solid cake.

Ingredients:

4 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
6 Tbsp water
2/3 c canola oil
1 1/2 c finely grated peeled carrots
1 c chopped walnuts
1 c raisins
1 1/3 c all purpose flour
1 c granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Optional: Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease muffin tins or make parchment baking tulips for extra pizazz!

In food processor or blender, whip together the egg replacer and water until thick and creamy.  Add the oil and blend until combined.  Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and add carrots, walnuts, and raisins.  Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt.  Add the wet mixture to this dry mixture, and stir with rubber spatula until thoroughly combined, but do not overmix.

Scrape the batter into the muffin tins, each 2/3 full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 25-30 minutes).  Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool.  Once cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

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Call to Action – A Plea for Participation!

There’s a time to sit around and observe (and maybe even criticize) what’s going on around you.  And there’s a time to speak up and do something about it!  This is a time to speak up.

In Pennsylvania, as in my other states around the nation, there is some dangerous legislation about to be introduced.  You may have already heard the buzz as it has been making headlines near and far.  There was a story on the cover of the Post Gazette today, there have been discussions on Huff Post Live, and there was even an appearance on the Ellen Show last week.  Perhaps the most comprehensive explanation of the issue (both sides) is this debate from CNN last week.

Anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills aim to do one thing – to silence people that uncover animal abuse and inhumane conditions for farmed animals or farm workers.  It would criminalize anyone that takes a photograph or video of any farm property without the owner’s consent.  It becomes a felony to take a photo and show it to anyone.

It also threatens freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and food safety.  Please don’t be fooled by the cunning language of the Ag-gag bill that is reportedly coming out of the PA Senate.  The bill claims to have the support of animal protection organizations, yet I have yet to hear of any that support it.  The bill claims that as long as the photographer turns over the photo only to the proper authorities, there will be no criminal charges.  However, I really have to wonder who the proper authorities are. 

The USDA inspectors charged with enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (which only requires animals are stunned before skinning and slaughter) are also charged with inspecting animals for signs of illness, open sores, tumors, and other things that shouldn’t end up in the food supply.  It’s admittedly a tough job, but when they’re asked to “inspect” 10 billion land animals a year, well it’s downright impossible.  Pigs alone are slaughtered at a national rate of 3.68 per second in less than 2 dozen slaughterhouses.  Animals end up getting skinned alive and slaughtered while kicking and screaming.  They get abused beyond imagination long before they even make it to the slaughterhouse.  Check out this graph of animal processing rates and see if you think any authority could possibly inspect accurately.

Farmed animals are afforded zero federal protection while on the farm, and state laws are inadequate and impossible to pursue.  Abuses that would result in felony charges if committed to cats and dogs are often perfectly legal if the animal is a piglet or a cow.  If it’s a chicken or turkey, the story gets even worse.  The most successful tactic has been for undercover employees to collect footage from factory farms and expose it to the appalled Amercian public.  This has resulted in several successful prosecutions and a drastic increase in public awareness about the inhumane treatment of farm animals on factory farms.

When you read between the lines, it is perfectly clear – this bill has zero intention of cleaning up the practices on Pennsylvania’s farms.  It has every intention of keeping the public from becoming aware of it.  This is a disgusting abuse of power, and it needs to be stopped.  The good news?  We can stop it!

Take a moment to call your State Senator and make sure they know you oppose Senator Brubaker’s Ag-gag bill.  The bill has not yet been introduced, so there is no bill number assigned to it.  As soon as there is, you can call back and let them know!  There was a memo circulated to the entire Senate seeking co-sponsorship.  At this point, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your Senator does NOT co-sponsor it.  Senators are always working on re-election, and when you make phone calls, they know this is an issue that may affect the way you vote in the future!  

Not sure who your Senator is?  Click this link to find out.

In-person meetings are even better.  They all spend a significant amount of time in their local offices, so it’s usually fairly easy to get an appointment.  For updates and alerts, please make sure you’re tuned into www.Humane-PA.org.  You can sign up for legislative alerts here.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.  ~Margaret Mead

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Dancing Tofu Revitalizes Vegan Activist

I have just officially experienced the longest hiatus from Beans Not Bambi ever.  It’s been over 6 weeks since my last post, and the last several were recipes.  It has probably been months since my last “real” post.  Why?  Well, I could blame work, distractions, lack of material.  But that’s not really the case.  There have always been work and distractions.  And goodness knows there’s loads of material at all times!  I am inclined to blame some of my writer’s block on an overabundance of interesting topics, but that too is a poor excuse.

I believe the root of my block is more likely related to some mounting frustration.  It often feels like I make the same arguments over and over again.  Having a burning desire to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, it’s only natural to want to somehow feel like you’re being heard, right?  It can be frustrating (though not defeating) to surround myself with people who see things so differently (or not at all).  When I choose to surround myself with like-minded people, we sometimes end up all preaching to the choir.

So many issues have popped up in the past few months – a record number of Pennsylvania bills protecting animals from cruelty have been introduced already this session; the horse meat “scandal” in Europe reached the mainland and has at least brought to the forefront the discussion of eating animals (how do you define animals as edible vs inedible?); Whole Foods has announced a mandate to label GMO food; more and more celebrities are speaking out as vegans; Dr. Fuhrman is on the Dr. Oz show again; Schools in LA adopt Meatless Mondays to promote healthy school children; more and more veg options are finding their ways to mainstream restaurant menus; I’ve heard the word vegan more than ever – On TV, in the grocery store, from friends, everywhere.

When Justin Timberlake dressed up as dancing, rapping tofu, suddenly all felt right with the world.  If you haven’t seen his SNL skit, you can watch it here.  It is hilarious, adorable, and even thought-provoking.  It is enough to give me great hope.  To remind me to keep speaking up.  That people are listening.  People everywhere are waking up to a reality they had previously overlooked thanks to our culture, our traditions.

This summer brings the Vegetarian Summerfest, Humane Lobby Day, the pending opening of a local farm sanctuary right outside of Pittsburgh, the Walk for Farm Animals to benefit Farm Sanctuary, and so many other ways to get active.  That is, after all, sort of crucial to this whole activism thing, right?  It’s all about promoting change – seeing something that needs to be changed, and getting active about making that happen.  No matter how easy or hard the battle, no matter how mainstream  the message begins to get, and no matter how many people you keep reaching out to.

There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.
~Robert Alden

And I’m back :)

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Recipe: Veggie Burgers

Everyone should have a go-to veggie burger recipe.  For me, this is it!  I make a batch about once a month and keep the extras frozen.  It’s an easy hearty meal ready at a moment’s notice.  Dressed the right way, this can truly be a gourmet dish!

Burger Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped spinach
4 sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 serving Ener-G Egg replacer (optional)

Cook lentils according to package directions.  While they’re cooking, bring out your food processor to chop all of the other veggies.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Once lentils are cooked, add 1 cup of the lentils to the food processor.  Add the veggies and 2 cloves garlic.  Blend with pulse mode until the ingredients are combined into a thick paste.  Add the rest of the lentils and Ener-G and continue blending.*

Spray a cookie sheet with a light coating of cooking spray.  Form by hand into patties and bake at 375 for 25 minutes.  Turn once after 15 minutes.

If freezing, it’s best to freeze them before baking.  For any patties you wish to freeze, form into patties and place on baking sheet.  Cover and place in freezer for about 1 hour.  Remove frozen patties and place in freezer-safe container with wax paper between the patties.  When you’re ready to serve, place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

* If there isn’t enough room for all of the ingredients in the food processor at once, you can do this in two stages.  When loading the food processor, simply only take 1/2 of the ingredients the first time around.  Blend into paste, get the first set of patties started in the oven, and then blend the second half.

Serving suggestions:
Ezekiel 4:9 makes a wonderful sprouted grain bun.  If frozen, place in oven for about 10 minutes to thaw and toast.  Top with sliced tomatoes, greens, and/or sautéed onions and mushrooms.  I like to saute my onions and mushrooms in red wine which gives a nice rich savory taste, but any liquid will do!  Serve with a side of Chinese coleslaw or Quinoa salad.

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Recipe: Speedy Butternut Squash Soup

Winter squash soup, the quintessential way to warm up for lunch or dinner.  This dish can go from pantry to plate in 20 minutes.

I have acquired two of my most favorite kitchen electrics recently, and the two pack quite a punch when it comes to speedy preparation of whole plant-based foods.  I know that not everyone will be able to make this the speedy way, but I have to share nonetheless.

Ingredients:

1 Butternut squash
2-3 cups water
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp clove

In an electric pressure cooker, place 1 cup of water in the bottom.  Insert the tray to hold the squash up out of the water.  Wash the squash and cut in half to fit into the cooker.  Close lid, and set to cook for 4 minutes at pressure.  (This will take about 10-12 minutes to heat up, then 4 minutes to cook).

When complete, release pressure slowly.  Remove squash, cut off the stem and the blossom end (the hard spot at the bottom).  Scoop out the seeds, but leave the rest of the skin intact.  Place into Vitamix with 1 1/2 -2 cups of water and spices.  Blend until smooth (~ 1 – 2 minutes).  Add more warm water to achieve desired consistency.  Pour into a cup or bowl and serve immediately.  A large squash will easily serve 4, if you’re inclined to share.

Note – you can substitute almost any squash with this recipe.  If you’re not a fan of the spices, try omitting cinnamon and clove and simply salt and pepper to taste instead.

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New Year, New You?

The new year is a time for reflection.  It’s almost impossible to celebrate a holiday season and look forward to an upcoming year without pausing to reflect on the past year.  I’ve put off publishing this post because I wanted to urge you to actually think about it, not just do it on January 1st because you think you’re supposed to.

I bet you already made some promises though, didn’t you?  It’s been three weeks now.  How are things going?  Honestly.  If you have been successful, how are you going to sustain your progress for the next 11 months?  If you haven’t gotten started yet, why not?  What’s stopping you?  After all, your resolutions are your own, aren’t they?  If it’s something you truly want, what can possibly stand in the way?  What are you letting stand in the way?  Let me see if I can help you.

A) My very first question is this – is this a new resolution?  Or have you made this resolution in years past (every year?) and for one reason or another, you haven’t kept it?  If this is a new resolution, skip to part B.  If you’ve made this same resolution before, continue to number 1.

1) When you made this resolution in years past, did you intend for it to be temporary, or did you intent for it to be permanent – a whole new you?

2) Why wasn’t it permanent?  Why did you allow yourself to not follow through?

3) How will you feel if you make the very same resolution in 2014?  Disappointed?  Ashamed?  Let down?  Sad?

4)  How will you feel if at the end of 2013 you have checked this particular item off your list – permanently – and need to come up with whole new resolution?  Happy?  Proud?  Relieved?  Satisfied?  Excited?  Hopeful?

B) How will your resolution become a reality? 

1)  What is your end goal?  That is, what is your final result?  What does it look like?

2) How will you know you have achieved your goal?  Whether it’s a number on the scale, a specific car in the driveway, a particular job, a grade in school, or new clothing size, exactly how will you know you have achieved your goal, or how will you know you’re moving closer?

3) How will you feel when your resolution is a reality?

4)  Is it important to you to maintain that feeling?

5) What are you willing to do to obtain that feeling?

Each person has their own goals, aspirations, and achievements.  Be sure that your resolution speaks to you, if you have a resolution at all.  Don’t let 2013 be another year of empty promises, unfulfilled dreams, or same-old, same-old.  Let 2013 be the year that you come alive!  For good!

You may be wondering why a vegan blogger is focusing on new year’s resolutions.  For me, it has to do with watching the endless commercialization of health and “wellness”.  I have watched so many people hop back on the hamster wheel of common resolutions like ‘Finally going to lose weight’ or ‘Eat healthy and exercise more.’  I have to reach out and ask openly and honestly – If you have tried this before and it hasn’t worked, what makes you think this time is different?  Is another gym membership or Jenny Craig really going to cut it this time?

Are you willing to keep an open mind?  Have you pondered why you’ve been trying for years but haven’t succeeded yet?  Did you ever think that maybe it’s not entirely your fault?  That what you’ve been told to eat might not be in your own best interest?  I know, I know, you need dairy for strong bones, meat for protein, right?  Have you thought about reevaluating your definition of eating healthy?

Have you wondered why it’s ‘normal’ for women to gain 5 lbs every year?  Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not because your metabolism is slowing down and weight gain and disease is an inevitable part of aging.  It’s simply because the food that a normal American eats will inevitably cause weight gain at an average rate of 5 lbs a year.  Simple as that!

Health and wellness is not strictly about losing weight.  It’s not about finding a new pill.  It’s not about finding a magic cure.  It’s not even about avoiding symptoms of illness and disease.  It’s about letting your body do what it was designed to do for you.  It’s about fueling your body with food that is going to serve you, not harm you.  It’s about enjoying what you’re eating and knowing it’s going to make you look and feel better.  It’s going to make you less likely to get sick, less likely to suffer from the diseases of obesity, and it’s going to protect you from the most common cancers.  Can you honestly say that your current diet does all of the above?

If it doesn’t quite meet all of those requirements, consider making a resolution to start a whole foods plant-based diet this year.  Know that you can do it.  It’s so much easier than you think, and it’s infinitely easier, cheaper, and better than the alternative.  Come on, I’ll even help you.

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Recipe: Hearty Vegan Chili

Cooking in the fall and winter brings a whole new array of flavors to the dinner table.  I have been experimenting with my new pressure cooker and while I’m not yet expert enough to post pressure-cooker specific recipes, this one works just fine on the stove top or slow-cooker too.  I cooked my beans in the pressure cooker, but I’ve modified this recipe to be stove top friendly.

Note – this is going to fill a large spaghetti pot, making plenty for a week long chili feast plus some extra for freezing.  Quantities are easily halved if that suits your needs better.

3 cups brown rice, cooked
2 green peppers, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 package chili seasoning mix
16 oz jar veggie pasta sauce
20 oz can diced tomatoes
2 12 oz cans red beans, rinsed and drained
16 oz bag frozen corn, thawed under warm water

Start boiling water for rice.  Follow package instructions and set aside when done.  In the meantime, chop peppers, onions, mushrooms, and garlic.  Saute in bottom of spaghetti pot with 3 Tbsp water and chili seasoning.  Cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add 1/2 can pasta sauce, stir well.  Cook another 5 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients, including brown rice.  Lower heat to medium.  Once simmering, lower heat to low.  Cover and simmer 30-45 minutes, as desired, stirring occasionally.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Thanksgiving

On this wonderful Thanksgiving Day, I can’t help but reflect on how much I have to be thankful for.  Good health, happiness, love and laughter, family and friends.  Food in wonderful abundance, fulfilling work, purposeful projects.  Now more than ever, I am touched by how many people I’ve been able to reach.  It all started with sharing my own journey through this blog many months ago.  To realize how many amazing people have come into my life since then is humbling and exciting all at the same time.

I am thankful for the new friends I’ve made who have inspired me to keep going.  I’ve met people who have been doing what I do for decades before me, and I am constantly impressed with their tenacity and dedication.  I have met people who have made unbelievable lifestyle changes and improvements, inspired by the same books and movies I have been exposed to.  I have had the privilege in the past year to meet in person many of the people whose works have impacted forever the course of my life:  Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Rip Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, Chef AJ, Kathy Freston, Wayne Pacelle, Paul Shapiro, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, just to name a few.

I am thankful to those who have kept an open mind and were willing to open their hearts to learn how they too can make a difference.  I am thankful for my friends and family and colleagues who have been supportive of my journey, and I applaud so many whom have made changes in their own lives in the past year.

I am thankful for my readers who remind that good people are everywhere!  I am thankful for the animals near and far that share this planet with us.  I am thankful for the simple choices I get to make every single day.  To live compassionately.  To live healthfully.  To live intentionally.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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