Good Morning and Happy Friday!

Today’s post is being brought to you by De, an amazing woman I met at BLEND retreat. Here she is!

Hello all you wonderful readers of Fitcupcaker! I’m really excited to be writing a guest post for Sara while she is away, and I’m looking forward to featuring her on my blog next month as well. First things first…a little introduction.

My name is De and I blog over at Cooking For The Other Half. My blog started out as mostly a food blog, and has transformed itself into a “healthy lifestyle of a 20’something New Yorker turned New Englander” blog. I live right outside of Boston with my boyfriend, and I write about a lot of different things, but food & recipes always play a big role in my posts. Which brings me to today’s topic: veganism.

As people who read my blog know, I’m a vegetarian and my boyfriend is an omnivore, which makes cooking together somewhat of an interesting challenge. The reason I started blogging to begin with was to share recipes that we created that could be adapted to both vegetarian and meat-eater preferences. When I first moved to Boston and first met my boyfriend, however, I was actually following a vegan diet. Prior to living in this lovely New England city, I resided in the East Village of NYC, which is, as I like to refer to it, The Vegan Mecca.

 

I became a vegan in 2008 after reading Skinny Bitch, which is cliché of course, but it’s the truth. Several years later, I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals which is just as, if not more, powerful. When I read JSF’s book, I felt guilty for not being a vegan anymore, but something he wrote stuck with me, and I think of it all the time. He wrote about how a lot of people view veganism or vegetarianism as a “black-and-white” “all-or-nothing” kind of diet, and how if you have one slice of pizza you are no longer a vegan, or if you eat one chicken nugget, you’re cast out of the vegetarian realm for life, and it’s just too overwhelming for people, so they avoid it altogether. He suggested an alternative- just do what you can. Be flexible. Don’t be hard on yourself. And every time you do eat a vegetarian or vegan meal, it’s one good deed, one step in the right direction. I love that, and it’s very true. Not everyone will agree, and that’s okay.

As I mentioned, the bulk of my time being vegan was spent in Manhattan. Some of the best vegan restaurants I’ve ever experienced in my entire life are in NYC. My number one favorite is Pukk, a Thai restaurant on 1st ave:

 

Honestly, you’d never want real meat Thai again after visiting this place. I swear. My other favorite vegan haven is a bakery, and has a bit more of a reputation:

 

Babycakes is a bakery on Broome Street in Manhattan that offers gluten-free, vegan, and kosher products. It is as amazing as it sounds. But, like most vegan sweets, dangerously addicting.

Boston is a little more limited, and probably why I eventually gave in to a pizza craving one night in Coolidge Corner. That said, despite being the land of “chowdah and lobstah”, Boston still has some decent vegan spots. My top recommendations:

-Grasshopper on Beacon St in Allston

-Addis Red Sea on Tremont St

-Life Alive on Mass Ave in Cambridge

-Refuge Café on Brighton in Allston (formerly Allston Café, formerly Herrell’s)

During my vegan days, I really became interested in cooking. This was probably due to the fact that I had limited options in non-vegan restaurants. As most people know, there’s really one vegan bible:

 

I still love cooking recipes from this book – it has endless possibilities! I still make their black bean, mango, quinoa salad every summer. There are no words to describe how delicious that is.

Fortunately, there are so many vegan products out there so eating at home, cooking, and snacking are a total breeze.

Even though I’m not vegan anymore, I really enjoy vegan baking – cookies, breads, muffins, cakes, etc. It is so easy to “veganize” other recipes with the right substitutions. Here’s some tips on substituting common non-vegan ingredients:

Eggs: Eggs either work as a “binder” or a “thickener” in baking recipes. So, depending upon what you’re baking, different substitutes are needed.

·         1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg. This works best in cookies or crispy baked goods.

·         1 tbsp flax seeds + 3 tbsp water = 1 egg. Use in pancakes, grain’y muffins, or oatmeal cookies.

·         1/4 cup silken tofu, blended = 1 egg. Use in cakes, pies, brownies.

·         Ener-g Egg Replacer Product – this is an easy one to use in virtually any baked good.

 

Milk: This one is easy, since there are so many milk substitutes out there! Soy milk is my favorite of the bunch.

  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Rice milk
  • Coconut milk, etc

Butter: Margarine is a good substitute for butter, but it doesn’t always bake as well as it should. Make sure that you get  non-hydrogented margarine. Earth Balance is a great product for substituting butter.

To conclude this tribute to vegans everywhere, I thought I’d share one of my favorite vegan muffin recipes. Warning: you may not be able to eat just one!

 

You will need…

·         1/4 cup all-purpose flour

·         2 tbsp margarine, softened

·         2 tablespoons sugar

·         2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

·         1 tsp freshly grated lemon peel

·         2 cups all purpose flour

·         2/3 cup sugar

·         2 tsp baking powder

·         1/2 tsp baking soda

·         1/2 tsp salt

·         1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

·         2 tbsp flax seeds + 6 tbsp water

·         1/2 cup margarine, melted

·         1 cup regular soymilk

·         1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest

·         3/4 cup raspberries

·         3/4 cup blueberries

Method…

·         Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with liners or grease.

·         To make the topping, mix together the first five ingredients in a bowl until crumbly. Set aside.

·         In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

·         In a larger bowl, mix together flaxseeds and water until combined. Add melted margarine. Add soymilk and lemon zest; whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the berries. Spoon mixture into muffin tins and top with streusel topping.

·         Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Happy eating!!!

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