Saturday, April 9, 2011

Upcoming interview from Basil Magazine & Radio!

Be sure to check out the interview for my book, The Part-Time Vegan, on Basil Magazine's Online Radio! I will also be featured in May's monthly issue of Basil :) Follow this link to the radio station!

Tune in on April 25th at 6:05PM EST to hear me discuss the book, veganism, and good food!

I'm looking into some great new spring recipes... really happy bright flavors and colors. I love the spring! I love warm weather. Can't wait to post them up here :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Part-Time Vegan Interview!

Jill, the wonderful webmistress of has posted an interview with me about my book, The Part-Time Vegan! Take a hop, skip, jump (or, you know... just click if you haven't had your coffee yet), on over and take a peek!

My two recipes for Vegan Paçoca and Brazilian Orange & Blackberry Cheesecake can also be found in the "recipes" section of the site. Thank you, Jill!

Happy cooking, all!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vegan Paçoca

Paçoca is SO good. It is a Brazilian candy made of raw peanuts, sugar, condensed milk, and salt. What's cool about it is that if you replace the condensed milk (I used agave which has a similar sticky consistency and can hold the treat together), it is a naturally raw vegan dessert! Woot, woot!

It's so intensely peanut-buttery & salty-sweet. The consistency is really crumbly, which makes it fun to eat and make. Usually paçoca is served as little squares or as a crumble over other desserts. In fact, it would make a great pie "crust" to a raw vegan peanut butter-chocolate cheesecake.


Oh, it's also widely eaten around Easter time which makes it perfect for this time of year. If you travel down to Brazil you might also find a new variety of Hershey's that you haven't seen before:

Cool, huh?

Of course, Hershey's candies aren't vegan. But hey, one can dream. If you dipped the completed product of this recipe in some melted chocolate (1 4oz bar unsweetened dark chocolate melted w/ 4 tbsp vegan margarine over low heat) you could make your own vegan Hershey's paçoca!

Vegan Paçoca

(pronounced like pa-SSO-ca)

1 1/2 cup roasted/salted peanuts
3/4 cup tapioca or manoic flour
1 cup vegan brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar (don't have it? use maple syrup)

1. Process all dry ingredients.

Manoic/tapioca flours come from the cassava plant which is known as the "bread of the tropics." Many South American and African desserts/dishes are made with the starchy tubers of the cassava plant. Another cool fact about it is that, when not cooked or processed properly cassava is poisonous. Both varities, sweet and bitter, naturally contain cyanogenic glycosides. That is... a cyanide group contained within the glycosides (sugars bonded with non-carb molecules) of the plant. 

No need to fear, though! The flours that you can buy (Bob's Red Mill is a good brand) are completely safe to consume, and so is properly prepared cassava! Usually boiling, soaking, or baking the plant does the trick. In fact, I've had cassava several times before in various West African dishes and it is delicious.

The mixture will be crumbly before you add the agave.
I don't know why my hand looks like Quasimodo's hand here.

2. Add agave and process again. Try to squish the mixture with your hands. If it stays together, you're A-OK. If it doesn't, add a little more agave & process again.

3. Simply take a palm full of the mixture in your hands and press into small squares. Some people like to pat the entire mix down into the bottom of a pan and cut square shapes out, but I think doing it with your hands is easier.

Eat, eat, eat! Happy spring!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dinner Partay! 3 Easy Recipes

On Saturday I had a dinner party with some of my friends and we had an awesome purely vegan feast! It just-so-happened that way, as 3/4 people eating were not vegans (win for me!).

My friend lives in a beautiful apartment down by the river on the Lower East Side. I never remember the code to his building though, and I have to call him every time and ask like an idiot. Hahah, I've only been there about 17 million times in my life. That is an actual scientific measurement, if you were wondering.

You'd think my brain would retain the info, but. This is my brain we are talking about! It is too preoccupied with food. Unless I can eat that door code, I am not interested.

The long trek to his place from mine feels like a journey across several countries and perhaps a small continent. There is even wildlife to behold (rats and the occasional Hips. ter sapien)! After braving the frigid March weather and wild beasts like Indiana Jones, we all got to eat a cornucopia of wonderful dishes. I used the word cornucopia!

Luckily, I also had another friend to accompany me on the long walk. We always have earth-shattering, revelatory conversations when we travel to the Dinner Party Apartment, as if Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were strolling the cherry blossom-lined paths of Washington together discussing the epic problems of our modern era! (Not really). We usually talk about boys.

So, food!

My contribution to the evening (I say evening because it sounds Classy) was Pineapple Coconut Rice with black beans, white onions, and yellow peppers. I also made broiled mango- so delicious!- and fried bananas. Eating them separately is great, but I especially liked to mixed the fried bananas into the rice. Mmmmm.

Everything else at the party was amazing as well... we had some great tabouleh (cashews, lemon-olive oil dressing, peas, quinoa in lieu of bulgur wheat, and asparagas), delicious hummus and babaganoush, roasted red peppers, and of course wine!

Pineapple Coconut Rice

2 cups wild rice
1-1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tbsp citrus (I used kumquats, but lime and lemon work too!)
1 yellow pepper
1-2 cans black beans
1-1 1/2 yellow onion
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice

The picture of this dish is much less appealing than what it looks like in Real Life with its popping yellows and blacks. I promise it's incredibly tropically tasty and filling.

1. I used a rice cooker and 1 cup water, 1 cup pineapple juice to cook my 2 cups wild rice.
2. While that was happening, I stir-fried the yellow pepper and onion in the coconut oil on med-high until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the black beans to the rice when its finished cooking, stirring so everything is even.
4. Add soysauce into the rice mixture, stir well. Put rice into stovetop pan with the vegetables to heat everything today on low heat for 8 minutes.
5. Top with citrus and stir, add additional pineapple juice if you wish!

All packed up for travel.
Roasted Mango

1-2 mango
lime juice

This is delicious because the sugars in the mango carmelize and give amazing depth to this already refreshing, tangy fruit.

*** Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Cut & skin mango. The easiest way to do this is by cutting off both ends, and then carefully moving your knife down the ripe mango to remove the skin. Avoid the inner seed and slice off mango meat from around it.

2. Place on a broiler pan and roast mango for about 10 minutes. Check and see if any broil marks show up, if they do, turn the mango over and cook for another few minutes.
3. Remove mango from pan and place on serving dish, cover in lime juice. AMAZING, I PROMISE. Seriously, it's one of the best ways I've ever eaten fruit in my life.

Fried Bananas

4 semi-ripe bananas
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (or any flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
2 tbsp vegan margarine

I used garbanzo bean flour because one of my friends is Celiac. No whole wheat flour for her! Same reason we used quinoa in the tabouleh. What a downer. hahaha Just kidding.

1. Peel and cut the bananas in half. Then, slice them down the center from top to bottom.
2. Mix the flour and spices in a small dish.

3. Heat up a frying pan and melt the vegan margarine. I used med heat.
4. Cover each banana with the flour mixture and fry them until both sides are brown. Around 3 minutes on each side.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vegan Brigadeiros

Well, after 4 1/2 fretful hours, full of not bi, but trilingual curses, I FINALLY managed to invent the recipe for vegan brigadeiros!! It was so difficult because traditional brigadeiros, a Brazilian bon-bon like candy staple, are made with only a few ingredients, chocolate, butter, and condensed milk.

It took me AGES to condense my own vegan soymilk, but I did it! Booyeah! I must say the end product is just as tasty & complex (if not more so..) than the good-old fashioned favorites!

So, for all you brave souls who wish to create condensed vegan milk on your own... make sure you have several hours at hand. Otherwise, I found a cool-looking substitute that I have yet to try: Olvebra brand condensed soyamilk

However, there's something about accomplishing a time-consuming task like this recipe on your own. It makes you feel like you've created life! It's like they're my little delicious children! Granted, that is bordering on weird. But you couldn't pull the smile off my face for an hour, amigos!

I think next time I will try making the condensed soymilk in a slow-cooker and see how it turns out. Anyways, I used to looooove these treats before I became a vegan and I am so happy & proud to share the recipe with all of you!

Vegan Brigadeiros

3 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
6 tablespoons of vegan margarine
1/2 cup of vegan sugar
3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
pinch salt
walnuts (traditionally they use chocolate sprinkles!)

1. Melt the margarine in a pan, adding the sugar. Stir consistently until the sugar is liquified.

2. Bring the soil milk to a boil and combine the margarine/sugar mixture with the soy milk. Add the pinch of salt.

3. Simmer mixture for several hours making sure to stir frequently so the bottom of the mixture does not burn. Use a wooden spoon. You want the boil to be a very, very gentle one. Keep the temperature low! This step may take up to 3-3 1/2 hours. I promise the results are well-worth the labor!

*Note: you will continually need to lower the temperature bit by bit as the soy milk condenses into a lesser and lesser volume.

**You will also see a "milk film" start to develop on top of the soy milk after a little while. This is a good sign, and also a sign that you should stay patient and keep simmering! (Patience seriously sucks, I know).

4. Eventually, depending on your cookware and the heat you are using, the mixture will condense to a definite thick pudding-like consistency (one that won't completely lose it's shape when you pick it up in your hands). Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is uniform. After you have achieve this pudding-like consistency, simmer very gently for approximately 15 more minutes and then let the mixture completely cool.

5. Take the completely cool mixture and heat it to high-heat on your stove very quickly. Stir constantly. Cook for 10 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your wooden spoon to keep it from burning. The mixture will look like it's starting to come apart, the oil bleeding out onto the pan. This is a good sign. Just keep mixing!

6. After you have done this, you should have an easy-to-mold blob of delicious condensed vegan milk and chocolate brigadeiro! Take it apart tiny bite-sized piece by tiny bite-sized piece, and pat them on a paper towel to remove excess margarine grease. Roll them through sprinkles to get the traditional effect (all I had were walnuts!). I find the walnuts add an appealing crunch to the smooth bon-bon texture.

7. They should be eaten right away or stored in the fridge to chill and enjoyed any time!


Once I get my hands on some of that cool Olvebra brand condensed soy milk, I will try out this recipe the easy-peasier way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vegan Pão de Queijo

An absolutely delicious Brazilian street food, pão de queijo is a Brazilian cheese puff/bread. They are, of course, made with cheese (usually parmesean). I tried to replicate the flavor as best I could! Traditionally, they are cooked with tapioca flour which makes for a very light texture. I didn't have any of this on hand, so I used a heavier garbanzo bean flour... it made for moist, cheesy, dense cookies. I think they'd be perfect with raspberry preseves.

Ps. pão de queijo is pronounced like (poh-jeh-kay-zjho). The more ya know!

Since the oven in my apartment gets to about 8,000 degrees, I YET AGAIN nearly burnt my fingers off despite buying new and adorable parrot-themed potholders. Damn you, oven, damn you.

Pão de Queijo
(literally "bread of cheese" or Brazilian Cheese Bread)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp salt
2 cups garbanzo bean flour (or tapioca flour)
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2/3 cup vegan cheese (Daiya, or any other brand!)
dash cracked black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
egg replacer for 2 eggs

**Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Boil the olive oil, salt, water, and almond milk over the stove. Remove it immediately and add it to the flour mixture.

2. Stir in the garlic power, egg replacer, and cracker black pepper.

3. Add the nutrional yeast.

4. Fold in the vegan cheese.

5. Make small 1-inch circles and place onto an ungreased baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned. My oven was being whacky so I had to cook each side separately for about 8 minutes to get it browned without burning it. Sigh, my oven.

(My conscience is saying, AT LEAST YOU HAVE AN OVEN. So right.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Torticas de Morón

I finally got to make my torticas!!

Torticas de Morón are a Cuban speciality and are very popular in Cuban bakeries. Cuban cooking is a fusion of African, Carribean and Spanish cuisines, and so has a variety of immensely flavorful elements to draw from!

The predominant flavors of these cookies are lime, rum, and cinnamon. The non-vegan recipe calls for eggs and butter/lard, which I replaced with vegan-margarine and applesauce (to keep the cookies moist). They came out light and fluffy and aromatic... the perfect compliment to a bright sunny day and the red chilie & tomatillo tacos I made. Mmmmm...

Torticas de Morón
(small cakes from Morón)

3 cups flour
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cups vegan sugar
1 4oz package of unsweetened applesauce
1 cup vegan margarine
3 tbsp lime zest
3 tsp rum extract (or regular rum if you have it around)
guava paste (a common Latin ingredient, it can usually be found in the Goya aisle)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Mix the flour, salt, baking power, and cinnamon together. Add the sugar, lime zest, lime juice, rum extract, softened butter, applesauce. Mix by hand once the dough starts to form.

3. Separate the dough into 3 sections, refridgerating the ones you aren't using.

4. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds (they should be about 1/3 of an inch thick). Line them up on parchment paper over the baking sheet. Parchment paper is AWESOME and requires little-to-no clean up. (Which is obviously why I use it).

5. Cut the guava paste into small pieces and press them into the tops of the cookies. Bake for 14 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned.

6. Lastly, let cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy! I topped mine with powered sugar because Cuban desserts are supposed to be muyyyyy muyyyyyyyy dulce!

An important message

I would like to point out a comment made on my blog:

This is precisely the kind of attitude about veganism I am always trying to shirk off with my book & blog. For some, you can never be "vegan enough." I have no ill-will against this poster, but I'm using the comment as an important example. It is perfectly fine, if you have an interest in veganism or alternative cooking, that you do what you can when you can and not feel bad about not being able to conform to the impossible standards of the so-called "pure tier", the criterion of which is inevitably determined by unforgiving adherents to a certain dogma.

These people usually have the extraordinary means of supporting their lifestyle that many may not have the privilege of enjoying. It is perfectly fine to be fundamentalist about your beliefs (eating or otherwise!), so long as one does not assume all people have the same ability/financial means/goals as oneself. Not only is this criticism unfair to those trying do what they can, but it is also petty and does nothing to serve anyone's purpose- it alienates.

So, please! Keep the message of healthy eating alive and well. Be vegan because you WANT to be, and encorporate what elements of the lifestyle you can into your own life with positivity.


Vegan Zombie :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Super Easy Banana Smoothie & Black Bean Puree

I had leftover cilantro salsa from yesterday's tacos, so I threw it in the frying pan with 1/2 can of black beans and veggies.

To accompany the tacos, I turned the other 1/2 can of black beans into a puree by processing them with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp paprika, dash cayenne, dash cracked black pepper, dash garlic powder, dash cumin.

Then, I made the easiest and creamiest banana smoothie ever. I remember when I was younger and my friends and I would go to this smoothie place on the outskirts of town and the servers would look at me like I was insane when I requested "just bananas". They fools, homie.

Easy Banana Smoothie
1 large banana
1 1/2 cup of ice
1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (mine is only 35 calories per cup)
1/2 cup orange juice

You could toss in a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter (for protein), some strawberries, or 6 oz of soy yogurt. I find that the simple combo of almond milk and bananas makes for the best smoothie/milkshake. The unsweetened milk is the best because it has a simple smooth flavor, much like mellow bananas themselves.

Okay, now off to dinner to try a new restaurant & some Jameson.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cilantro-Lime Tofu Tacos! (quick dinners)

I just got back from my latin dance class... and of course I had to come home immediately after and have tacos and beer! This is a quick dish you can cook up in less than twenty minutes.

Cilantro-Lime Tofu Tacos

Taco filling:
(1) I used pre-cut supermarket veggies (onions and peppers), sauteed them in an 1 tbsp of sesame oil (sesame oil doesn't change its molecular structure when heated to high temperatures, thus it stays safe for your heart!). Sautee for about 7 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
(2) Add one 12oz package of firm cubed tofu into the pan, smash with a fork
(3) Top with 8 oz of cilantro-lime salsa. I used Frontera brand, they're great. It's got roasted tomatillo & green pepper. This flavoring will give the tofu a more "chickeny" taste, there's also a great cumin & tomato variety that will give the tofu the "ground beef" flavor we all love in tacos!
(4) Cook for 7 minutes, remove from heat.

I also whipped up a quick guacamole with an avocado, 1/2 white onion, 1/2 tsp garlic, pinch salt, pinch cracked black pepper, 1 tbsp lemon juice. Throw in the food processor and you're done.

Other toppings:
store-bought fresh salsa
1/2 can of corn, seasoned with a bit of cracked pepper and lime juice

2 low-carb whole wheat tortillas, burnt over the grill (you could just use your stove too!)

PS. Bud and Bud-Light are vegan-friendly beers!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brazilian Orange & Blackberry Cheesecake

Yay, the cheesecake returns! I just finished a massive piece of this and eff, if I do say so myself, it's effing good. The awesomeness makes my brain hurt and also makes me want to samba. But I promise, there's no "goodnight Cinderella" inside of this cake. If you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky. (Also be careful in Rio).

Brazilian Orange & Blackberry Cheesecake

2 cups of Brazil nuts
juice of 1/2 an orange
rind of 2 oranges
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups cashews (soaked for 1-4 hours)
juice of 1 1/2 orange
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 pint blackberries, mashed with fork

1) Simple food process all of the ingredients for the crust and then press them into a 9-inch pie plate.

pretty grated orange rind!

2) Next food process all filling ingredients. Make sure to melt down the coconut oil in a small bag (it's easy to do this in a bowl of hot water) to liquify it. Pour the filling mixture over the crust. Let this sit in the freezer for 4 hours, yo.

It was so sunny and wonderful today!

3. Take cake out of the freezer. Mash up the 1 1/2 pint of blackberries with a fork in a small bowl and spread over the top of the cheesecake. Serve!

You can store this in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or until the blackberries start to get moldy. Yeeeah.

Vegan Vatapá

Your Vegan Zombie is going Brazilian. I've been soooo intensely interested in South American cuisine lately, especially since almost every dish consists some type of meat or lard. My goal is to rework these fabulous and colorful plates so we vegans can enjoy them too! Blasphemy, you say? Hopefully Our Lady of Guadalupe can forgive us, mi amor.

BRAZIL is the best place on the planet.

They have incredible food, art, music, history, people, the Christ the Redeemer Statue (just beautiful, though!), cities, an up and coming economy, sun, the World Cup in 2014 (I am totally going to GO MAN)  ...and uh, did I mention food?

Brazilian cuisine has a wide array of influences including African, Portuguese, and Italian. The food utilizes the country's rich and abundant tropical fruits, the bounty of the gorgeous coastline, and native nuts.

This dish, called vatapá, is typically made as a "seafood stew" and has West African influences. Of course, we couldn't include shrimp like the locals do (or sometimes white fish), so I veganized this puppy with a grain that has a similar rubbery quality to it--- barley. If left a little al dente, you can get the same feeling. For added "seafood" flavor I could have added a little nori, but no one in my family would have eaten it that way... and I'm a slave to feedback and compliments, what can I say?

The brilliant yellow coloring comes from the Brazilian dendê oil, a palm oil frequently used in Brazilian cooking. The texture of this dish is extremely unique... too thick to be a stew. I don't know. It owns.

Vegan Vatapá

2 chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 malagueta or jalapeño chile peppers, chopped (use 1 or a gentler pepper if you aren't into spicy!)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup organic peanut butter
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or just put two slices of whole wheat bread in a food processor)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup barley, cooked and drained
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup Dendê oil

1) Chop up the onions, peppers, and garlic. Toss it into the food processor.

2) Add this mixture along with 1/2 cup of your cooked barley onto the stovetop. Cook in 2 tbsps of olive oil for about 7 minutes to meld flavors.

3) Next, add the vegetable stock and peanut butter. Whisk until everything is smooth. Add breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Let the mixture boil, then lower the temp to a simmer for another 8 minutes.

4) Add the coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes on a low temperature.

5) Lastly, stir in the dende oil, remaining barley, and serve! I topped the dish with tomatoes and paprika.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Part-Time Vegan!

Dear Readers,

I give you... The Part-Time Vegan: 201 Yummy Recipes That Put the Fun in Flexitarian

It's my precious baby! It's all grown up and savin' China! (to quote Mushu from Mulan, which was frankly, an excellent movie).

I've been hard at work on this book for the past seven months, striving to bring you the tastiest, most-satsifying, and easy-to-make vegan dishes known to Wo/Man. I can finally take a break, and I'm looking forward to blogging more steadily!

My new cookbook provides delicious recipes aimed at helping you flexitarians, er, flex your vegan muscles! Getting cooking with:

Purely Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Lean, Mean, Black Bean Guacamole
Vegan Potato Pesto Salad
Spicy Roasted Tomato Soup
Roasted-Garlic Mashed Taters
Spinach Artichoke and Zucchini Paella
Barley Pilaf with Edemame and Roasted Red Pepper

What's not to love? I'm serious! As with the blog, I promise you the book is guilt-free, fun, and fearless. A perfect fit for all my lovely readers :)

Regardless of why you want to try veganism,--- whether it's for health, the planet, or some other worthy reason (maybe you're just damn hungry!), The Part-Time Vegan will be good to you. 'Cross my heart. Check it out in Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon, and any other bookstore!