Sunday, February 26, 2012

Giveaway: Whole Soy & Co. Yogurt

Yogurt has always been one of my favorite dairy products and one of the ways I get my calcium, so finding a tasty non-dairy yogurt was very important to me. Some of the first soy yogurts I tried were a little disappointing, so I did a little Googling to find out what people thought was the best vegan soy yogurt, and I came upon the name Whole Soy. So I sought out where to find it, and bought some. It was love at first bite!

Whole Soy is definitely my favorite brand of soy yogurt, so I contacted them to see if they would allow me to give away some free yogurt so that others can try it as well. They agreed, so here comes the giveaway!

Whole Soy & Co. has generously agreed to give two lucky readers a set of coupons for free yogurt. Each winner will receive:
6 coupons for free 6 oz. yogurt cups (any flavor)
2 coupons for free 24 oz. tubs of yogurt
6 coupons for 25 cents off any 6 oz. yogurt cup
2 coupons for $1 off any 24 oz. tub of yogurt

So, how do you enter? Just leave a comment on this blog entry. The contest begins Sunday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. EST and ends Friday, March 2 at 12 p.m. EST, and I will choose a winner at that time using a random number generator. The comments corresponding to the numbers chosen by the random number generator will be the winners, and I will forward your name and address to Whole Soy so they can send you the coupons directly. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win!

Want two ways to get bonus entries? Follow me on Twitter @HoosierVegan and post a second comment below letting me know you did. Then "Like" the Hoosier Vegan Facebook page and post a third comment. Good luck!

I hope you all will love their yogurt as much as I do!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Earth Friends Cafe: A Diamond in the Vegan Rough

One of the places that has made it very easy for me to make this transition is Earth Friends Cafe in New Albany, Indiana. Through EFC, I have discovered a lot of yummy vegan foods, made some great friends, and discovered that I don't have to give up eating out to go vegan (and have more to choose from than salads and plain baked potatoes). There aren't a whole lot of vegan restaurant options on the Indiana side of the river, but EFC more than makes up for it.

My husband and I go there just about every Saturday morning for vegan waffles and really good coffee. (The photo above is the waffle with blueberries and a hazelnut soy latte.) They only have hot breakfast on Saturday mornings, but it's worth a trip. I also enjoy going there for lunch sometimes during the week, and you can even go there for dinner now a few days a week.

Earth Friends has several vegan sandwich options on the menu (and others that can be made vegan), along with vegan soups and delicious homemade vegan desserts. I always leave there with a full stomach. (And usually with a satisfied sweet tooth!) We are very lucky to have this option, and I hope more people in this area discover how easy it is to eat satisfying, healthy vegan food through EFC.

I owe EFC a lot when it comes to starting me off on this journey. Being vegan is something I never thought I could do, because I thought giving up cheese and dairy were just not an option for me. My first time trying vegan cheese was in a dish at EFC -- the pumpkin quesadilla with Teese Cheese. Now I have tried a few other kinds, and have been working on making my own favorite dishes vegan, while still enjoying trying new things at Earth Friends. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping there for a bite to eat.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Insatiable Hunger

For the last couple of weeks, I have had many days when I have been absolutely ravenous. No matter what I ate or how much, I kept getting hungry every hour or so -- and not boredom hunger or thirst-mistaken-for-hunger either. I'm talking full-on, hunger pangs, stomach growling, hungry. Since I follow Weight Watchers to maintain my weight, I know I was eating enough, because I was using all of my points and then some, but I still wasn't satisfied. I wasn't eating bad foods -- I was getting in fruits and veggies, using whole grains, drinking soy milk, eating soy yogurt...I was just HUNGRY.

So I did some searches on a couple of my favorite vegetarian and vegan message boards, and found that I was not alone in having a time after going vegan that I just felt so hungry, almost constantly. That made me feel quite a bit better...but still left me hoping it would pass after I started gaining a bit of weight from exceeding my points allotment (even though I was listening to my hunger signals and eating when I was hungry). I'm not sure what causes it -- many of the posts I read suggested that the original posters simply weren't eating enough after they had replaced higher calorie animal-based products with more fruits and vegetables and lower calorie items. But I haven't had meat since Thanksgiving, and I was already eating a lot of fruits and veggies. Plus, since I am used to counting my points and was able to feel satisfied on 29 PointsPlus last year, it seemed strange that I suddenly needed to eat 50 or 55 PointsPlus in a day to feel satisfied.

Thankfully, it seems to have finally passed. I think that although I was eating plenty of calories, I wasn't getting enough dietary fat, which was leaving me feeling a little unsatisfied all the time. (And, since those calories weren't coming from fat, they were most often coming from carbs, which are notoriously less satisfying.) Even though it was an annoyance to feel hungry all the time, I do think it made me more acutely aware of paying attention to exactly what I am taking in and making sure that I get enough fats (and protein) so that I stay fuller longer.

I've started eating more peanut butter, and eating a larger breakfast with whole grains, nut butter, fruit, and soy milk, and that also seems to help. As much as I hate "spending" a large amount of points on nuts or nut butters, it seems to save me in the long run because I was eating far more points in other foods just trying to satisfy my hunger. Spreading my calories out evenly throughout the day, allotting approximately the same amount to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and an equal amount to the total of all of my snacks throughout the day, also seems to have made a huge difference. I guess breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. ;)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella

We love pizza, and since none of the pizza places near our home offer a dairy-free cheese alternative, I have been making them at home more often. I usually use Daiya, but this week I decided I wanted to try something different, so I bought a block of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella. You can do whatever you like with it -- shred it, slice it, cube it. I shredded it with a box grater and used it on a homemade pizza, half cheese-only and half spinach and mushroom.

I was impressed with how well the cheese shredded and how much the texture felt like dairy cheese. It didn't have the oily texture on my hands that Daiya has. It isn't sticky either, though -- and it was easy to sprinkle on the pizza. I was even more impressed when the pizza was baking. About halfway through the baking time, the cheese had completely melted and had started to bubble and even brown a little bit, just like dairy cheese.

It looked great when I pulled it out of the oven, so I couldn't wait to try it. The verdict? I will definitely be buying this cheese again! It worked great on a pizza, and I'm impressed with its melting qualities. It has a nice flavor and a creamy texture when melted. The versatility of the block cheese is also nice. Hmmm...could vegan mozzarella cheese sticks be in my future?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Local Vegan Deli-Style Food

One of my first introductions to "takeout" vegan food was from the Morels Food Truck in Louisville. I never had a chance to make it out to the truck while it was operating, but I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy their food from a local natural foods store, Rainbow Blossom. Even though the owner is currently selling the truck, he is doing so in order to further expand his food-service business to stores like Rainbow Blossom and Heine Brothers Coffee. So I'm happy that I will still be able to enjoy Morels food, and see an even greater variety of items at Rainbow Blossom.

After tonight's trip, it looks like that expanded variety has already shown up! They had 6 different Morels items in stock at our tiny Rainbow Blossom on the "Sunny Side" in Indiana -- that's the most I have ever seen there. I love the food, it's convenient, and it makes it easy to eat vegan. I can have a few of these items in our refrigerator and always have something to grab in a hurry. (Or, depending on what area of town you're in, you could stop in for a lunch on the go too.) I'm so glad I decided to try that Buffalo Tempeh Wrap back in the summer. It was the first time I had ever eaten vegan "takeout" (and the first time I ever tried tempeh), and it was absolutely delicious. I hope that others will give them a try as well, and see how yummy vegan food can be!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Recipe Review: Stovetop Cheezee Mac

Today I tried my first homemade vegan mac and "cheese" recipe -- a vegan milestone, perhaps? ;) I used the recipe from Vegan on the Cheap for Stovetop Cheezee Mac. Basically, you boil a box of elbow macaroni, and while that's boiling, you dump some firm tofu, soy milk, nutritional yeast, and a whole host of other seasonings into a blender or food processor and blend away. When the pasta is done, you drain it, put it back in the pot, add the sauce (and some peas if you want) to the pasta and cook it until the sauce thickens.

The sauce had a lot of ingredients, which would be my only real complaint about the recipe. It dirtied a lot of measuring spoons and cups. But it was a very tasty sauce! I used Mori-Nu shelf stable Lite Silken Firm tofu, which seemed like a good choice for a creamy sauce. I also added the optional tomatoes, since I like mac and cheese with tomatoes.

All in all, I think it lived up to the name of the book, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks. It made a ton of food, and I estimate I spent about $6 on the ingredients for the recipe. This cookbook also tends to re-purpose leftovers a lot, and this recipe is one that gets re-purposed into a "Chili Mac." I made chili yesterday, so Friday we'll give the Chili Mac a try! We have a lot of leftovers in the fridge, so I'm thinking I'm pretty much done with cooking for the week, and all for just a few bucks.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Vegan Junk Food Fest

As much as the Weight Watchers Lifetime Member in me hates to admit it, this week has been a bit of a vegan junk food fest. I am enjoying discovering new things (Veggie Booty! Tofutti Cuties!) as well as finding old favorites that happen to be vegan. (Oreos! Unfrosted Pop Tarts! Campbell's Tomato Soup and Ritz Crackers! Okay, maybe that one's not so bad.)

I have also discovered locally-made vegan bakery treats, as well as vegan pizza. None of these items are particularly good for my wallet or my waistline. But I have to admit it is kind of fun to stroll through the aisles of the grocery store, picking up an item I had previously enjoyed or remember from childhood, studying the ingredients and realizing it is vegan. (Of course, there is also the disappointment upon discovering that some things you felt sure would be vegan have milk or eggs in them....usually milk.)

I think the one that burns me up the most is the gelatin in the frosting on the Pop Tarts. I had assumed no Pop Tarts were vegan (or even vegetarian) because of the gelatin, which I figured had to be in that gooey filling. Then I read on a message board that unfrosted Pop Tarts are vegan. So I checked the ingredients, and...huh, what do you know...the gelatin is in the frosting. Never would have thought that. It makes me want to ask Kellogg's why they need to use that in the frosting...seems like a sugary frosting could easily be made without gelatin. (And I'm sure this won't be the last time I feel a similar frustration.)

Regardless, I'm hoping this little junk food honeymoon ends soon, before it starts showing up on my tush. I need to stop filling the cabinets with chips, crackers, and toaster pastries, even if they are free of animal products. (But it's nice that so many are!)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sausage Balls: Veganized

One of my favorite foods to enjoy around the holidays is homemade sausage balls. They are easy to make, and they also make a great breakfast or snack. They are also easy to veganize! I made some vegetarian ones (with Gimme Lean sausage and dairy cheese) over Christmas and they were yummy, so I wanted to try them veganized, with Daiya cheddar instead. What better time to do that than the weekend of the Super Bowl -- a time when people consume lots and lots of finger foods, much of it anything but veg*n.

The recipe I started with is just your basic sausage balls recipe -- Bisquick, sausage, milk, and cheese. Substitute some vegan ingredients and you have tasty, much healthier, sausage balls. The only caveat is that they didn't quite brown as they usually do -- I'm thinking adding a tablespoon of canola oil to the mixture will help that, by adding back some of the fat that is missing as compared to the original recipe. So, they may not be the prettiest sausage balls in the world, but they sure do taste good!

Here's the veganized recipe:

2 cups Bisquick original baking mix
1 tube Gimme Lean sausage
1/4 cup soy milk
8 oz Daiya cheddar shreds
(feel free to add the oil if you like)

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well mixed. Form into balls (about the size of pingpong balls) and bake on a nonstick cookie sheet at 450 for 12-14 minutes.

Vegan Cookbook Addiction

My name is Kari, and I am a cookbook addict. I have way too many of them. The entire bottom shelf of our pantry is full of them, and I also have a row of them lined up under an end table in the living room. Now that I have a Kindle, I can have even more cookbooks without them taking up physical space! So, suffice to say that I have a lot of cookbooks. Probably too many.

Now that I am completely changing the way we eat (and the way I cook), my cookbook collection is really growing by leaps and bounds, this time from a vegan slant. I have borrowed a few from the library to try them out too. (This is how I discovered Isa Chandra Moskowitz and her Post Punk Kitchen site, which is an excellent resource.)

So far the two I have used the most are Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson and The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester. But I have many new ones waiting in the (Kindle) wings -- Conveniently Vegan, Appetite for Reduction, Fresh and Fast Vegan, and The Happy Herbivore, just to name a few.

I find cookbooks very useful because they give me some direction to go on, and are a constant source of inspiration to try new things. We have a few "go to" dishes in our household (most of which I have already veganized), but aside from those, we rarely eat the same thing more than a couple of times. I love flipping through my cookbooks at the end of each week, before I go grocery shopping, to find new recipes to try. Our journey into veganism is making that even more exciting as we explore new foods, dishes, and spices.