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Vegan Planet: May 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010


By Popular Demand: Quick Lo-Mein

By a slim margin, Quick Lo-Mein was voted the recipe from Vegan on the Cheap you’d most like to see. I can’t help but think voters were swayed by this luscious looking photo taken by Tami at Vegan Appetite.  But, in addition to being photogenic, I think this recipe is a good choice because it’s versatile, easy to make, delicious, and, of course, inexpensive  Here are just some of the ways this recipe can help you eat “on the cheap”:

1. It doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, so you should be able to make it with what’s on hand.

2. It’s a great way to use up leftover spaghetti or linguine, as you only need about 4 cups of cooked pasta for this recipe. (You can even use reconstituted ramen noodle bricks if you have them on hand. Just throw away the seasoning packets, break the bricks into pieces, and place them in a heatproof bowl. Cover them with boiling water and set aside to reconstitute.)

3. You can easily swap out different vegetables according to what you have in the fridge. Instead of (or in addition to) the cabbage, you could use broccoli, snow peas, green beans, etc. If you have leftover steamed veggies, this is a great way to use them.

4. The recipe makes about 4 servings, but can be easily stretched by adding extra noodles or veggies, in which case you’ll want to double the sauce ingredients so there’s enough to coat everything.

5. Instead of tofu, you could instead add seitan or tempeh — or leave them all out in favor of more vegetables.

MORE WAYS TO WIN: There are two more opportunities to win a copy of Vegan on the Cheap. The first is at Savvy Abby, the new VegNews blog with money-saving tips (where I did some guest posting this week). Here’s the link to the giveaway where you will also find some of my Cheap tips and recipes. For yet another chance to win a copy of the book (and see another recipe), visit PETAPrime.

Now, here’s that lo-mein recipe:

Quick Lo-Mein

Recipe from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons.

16 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 medium carrot, shredded
4 to 5 scallions (green onions), chopped
4 cups shredded green cabbage (or  napa cabbage or bok choy)
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 cups cooked spaghetti or linguine (or reconstituted ramen)

1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch dice. Toss with the cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown all over, about 7 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, carrot, scallions, cabbage, and mushrooms. Season with salt and stir-fry to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Stir in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, and sesame oil. Add the reserved tofu and the cooked noodles. Toss to combine, adding a bit of water (or extra sauce) if the mixture is too dry. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot.

Note: Enjoy as is, or garnish with regular toasted or black sesame seeds or chopped parsley or cilantro. For a spicy version, add a drizzle of sriracha.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010


Vegan on the Cheap Tester Photos... and a Question

Here’s the final installment of my favorite tester photos for Vegan on the Cheap. These lovely pics were taken by Tami at Vegan Appetite. That's Quick LoMein in the top photo.

This is Asian Noodle Soup:

Here’s a photo of Pasta Slaw:

This one’s Nacho Taco Salad:

Here’s Minestrone Soup with Tiny “Meatballs”:

And the last one is Seitan Goulash:

To see more great VOTC photos taken by Tami, visit her blog, Vegan Appetite. You’ll want to go to her blog for another reason too: she’s currently doing a great giveaway of Vegan on the Cheap. For your chance to win, just leave a comment on her post with your favorite money-saving tip. And while you’re there, read the other tips that are posted — lots of great ideas!!

Now to my question. I’d like to share another recipe from Vegan on the Cheap and I can’t decide which one. So I’ll leave it to you to tell me.

What kind of recipe would you like to see posted next? A soup or salad? Maybe a skillet dish, sandwich, or pasta recipe? Something for the slow cooker or oven? A dessert?

Be as general or specific as you like — for example, you can ask for the recipe for one of the tester photos I’ve been posting these last few weeks. Whichever recipe (or type of recipe) gets the most votes will appear in a post by the end of next week.

P.S. If you already have the book, you can "play" too -- list your favorite recipe so far or pick one that you think others would enjoy.


Thursday, May 13, 2010


Tuscan White Bean Pizza

The stunning pizza photo was taken by Matt over at No Meat Athlete who recently blogged about my recipe for Tuscan White Bean Pizza from Vegan on the Cheap.  The main thing I like about this pizza recipe is that it allows you to enjoy a healthy and delicious pizza without the need for cheese of any kind. Sure, there are some tasty vegan cheese products out there, but they can be high in fat and expensive.

The idea of cooking vegan “on the cheap,” is to make great-tasting healthy food without using expensive products. That’s where using a creamy garlicky bean topping on the pizza comes in: it’s low in fat, high in protein, and, best of all, it's cheap to make.  The topping isn't meant to mimic cheese in any way, it just makes for a satisfying and delicious pizza.  In the recipe, I also use sliced tomatoes and basil as toppings, with the suggestion of sliced pitted kalamata olives added if you want to “splurge a little.”

Of course, there’s no need to stop with the basic recipe (below). Favorite pizza toppings are a very personal matter and limited only by your own preferences and imagination. So why not let this idea inspire you to come up with your own creative pizza variations. Here are some of my favorites to get you started:  (Keep in mind that certain toppings, such as olives and artichokes, are pricier than others and will add to the cost of the pizza.)

Pizza topping ideas:
vegan pepperoni slices (recipe in Vegan on the Cheap)
roasted or grilled vegetables
tossed baby greens salad with a light vinaigrette
crumbled vegan sausage and marinara sauce (recipes in Vegan on the Cheap)
sliced artichoke hearts and tofu feta (recipe in Vegan on the Cheap)
hummus, sliced tomatoes, and sliced pitted kalamata olives

Some suggested variations from Matt’s post include adding a splash of lemon juice to the white bean mixture for a bit of acidity, (although the sliced tomatoes do that too.) I also like the idea of using white whole wheat flour, but you can use anything from regular all-purpose flour, to half whole-wheat/half a.p. flour, to your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Another suggestion is to add some dried herbs to the flour mixture when making the crust for added flavor. Of course, you can always just make the recipe as is. And for something completely different, try the Polenta Pizza with Roasted Vegetables (also in Vegan on the Cheap.) 

Do you have any other great pizza ideas you’d like to share?

Tuscan White Bean Pizza
Makes 1 (12-inch) pizza
(Recipe from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010, John Wiley and Sons.)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup water or vegetable stock
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
2 ripe plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Stir in the water until combined then use your hands to knead it into a soft dough.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding additional flour as needed so it doesn’t stick. Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature in a warm spot until double in volume, about 1 hour.
3. After the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, punch it down and gently stretch and lift it to make a 12-inch round about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the round to a floured baking sheet or pizza stone. Let the dough rise in draft-free place for 20 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to the bottommost position of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
4. Make the topping: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the beans, salt, and pepper.
5. Mash the beans to break them up, then stir in the water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is creamy, about 8 minutes. Stir in the basil and set aside.
6. To assemble the pizza, spread the bean mixture evenly on top of the dough round, to within 1/2-inch of the edge. Arrange the tomato slices on top and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake until the crust is browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Splurge a little: Add sliced pitted kalamata olives when you add the tomatoes. Garnish with thin strips of fresh basil leaves.

More Vegan on the Cheap sightings:

Another gorgeous photo by Mackenzie Mollo posted on  This time, it's the Tiramisu Bread Pudding.

A lovely notice on  Thank you Alisa!

And the Vegan on the Cheap cook-through over at Two Vegan Boys is still going strong.  Great job, Krys!

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Friday, May 7, 2010


White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

If you’re a fan of peanut butter and white chocolate, this post is for you. I confess to not having much of a sweet tooth, but when these little temptations are around, I usually cave. You can make them with regular semi-sweet (vegan) chocolate if you prefer and you can even use almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter.  They're all good.

If you need an excuse to make these treats, they make a great “homemade” gift for Mother’s Day. Or you could just make some to celebrate Spring!

Here’s the recipe:

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

1/2 cup Earth Balance
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, or more
12 ounces vegan white chocolate chips

1. Melt the Earth Balance in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until well blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Mix well until thoroughly combined, then refrigerate while you melt the chocolate.
2. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water until melted. (Note: if your white chocolate isn't melting smoothly, add a drop or two of neutral vegetable oil.)
3. Use a small brush to coat the chocolate over the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of 12 paper cupcake liners. Refrigerate the cups until firm, about 10 minutes.
4. The peanut butter mixture should be firm. If it isn’t, incorporate a bit more confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture and shape into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc and place inside one of the chilled chocolate-lined cups. Repeat until all the cups are filled.
5. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the remaining melted chocolate over the top of each cup. Refrigerate until firm.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Cara Cara Orange Salad and Vegan on the Cheap News

My latest food obsession is Cara Cara oranges. These sweet, luscious oranges may be old news to some of you, but they only recently showed up at my local supermarket.  A type of navel orange, they look like other navel oranges on the outside, but once you cut into them, you'll notice the difference.  The first clue that these are no ordinary oranges is their pinkish red color inside.  The second clue is their flavor, as in "out-of-this-world sweet and delicious." Easily the best tasting oranges I've ever eaten, I enjoy them "as is" as well as in salads and other recipes.

I made the refreshing salad in the photo above by arranging slices of Cara Cara oranges and ripe avocado on a bed of Romaine lettuce, sprinkled with dried cherries, macadamia nuts, and a splash of cherry juice blended with just a smidge of lemon juice and agave.  The colors, textures, and flavors of this salad were simply outstanding.

Vegan on the Cheap News:

There have been numerous online sightings of my new book, Vegan on the Cheap.  Among them:  a terrific article, a daring cook-through, and a wonderful giveaway.  Check them out:

Article: Virginia Messina wrote a great article about Vegan on the Cheap for the Vegan Examiner.

Cook-Through:  Krys at Two Vegan Boys blog has decided to "cook through" Vegan on the Cheap.  Follow her blog as she prepared every recipe in the book for dinner and then blogs about it the next day.

Giveaway:  If you still don't own a copy of Vegan on the Cheap, you now have five (count 'em, FIVE) chances to win a copy of the book at  (Hurry on over there, the drawing is on Friday!)  Thanks Erik, for hosting this fabulous giveaway!

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