Search Results

Cream of Celery Soup

Friday, March 13th, 2015

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If you guys know me at all, you know that I loathe celery. I kind of say so every opportunity I get. Truth be told, it’s only the gross, stringy, floss-like texture of celery that I dislike – the actual taste is pretty bangin’. Seriously. Celery salt? Bring it on!

So color me intrigued when I spotted the Cream of Celery Soup in Simple Recipes for Joy. The celery is boiled into a mushy mess and then pulverized with an immersion blender, so I figured that ought to take care of all the flossy bits. And it totally did! This soup has all of the taste of celery with none the weird mouth feels.

(Updated to add: Well, at least the freshly made soup did; strangely enough, the celery strings seem a little more prevalent in the reheated leftovers. Maybe because the soup was thicker the second and third time around? It’s a brain teaser.)

Also present: potatoes and coconut milk, for a wonderfully thick yet creamy texture; carrots and mushrooms for extra yumminess; and parsley, garlic, tarragon, and thyme for added depth of flavor. As per usual, I added a tiny bit more spices than called for: an extra 1/4 teaspoon on top of the tablespoon each of tarragon and thyme.

This soup is both delicious and easy to make, and this particular recipe makes a pretty massive pot. Seriously, I had to break out the 16-quart monstrosity because I worried that our second-largest 6-quart pot just wouldn’t contain all the awesomeness.

I mean, just look at the creamy goodness!

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(Slightly Modified, Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

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I enjoyed this soup more than a month ago and finally decided to share it. (IBTD. D, as in depression. It saps you of your will, man.)

Anyway, it’s another one from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano: (Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone. Modified by me, because I am a fussy, hard to please mofo.

This recipe calls for zucchini, which I didn’t have, and celery, which I don’t like: so I swapped them both out for more carrots, which I have in spades and love love love. It also has shredded cabbage – two cups – but I used pulverized spinach instead (hence the soup’s dark, greenish color).

I’ve been trying to sneak spinach into more and more dishes. It amazes me how some of the prominent, healthy vegan bloggers I follow can (claim to?) consume a pound of leafy greens a day. Like, I can’t even. How do you find the time to eat anything else?

I guess that, when you cook them, they wilt down to a more manageable volume. But I either have to eat my leafy greens fresh and crunchy or shredded until they’re unrecognizable; easily mistaken for spices. Cooked greens have a texture entirely too similar to spoiled greens for my taste.

Luckily, since spinach doesn’t have a strong taste, it’s easy to slip into other foods. Pasta sauce is a favorite, and when combined with basil it goes well in pesto. I’ve even made banana ice cream with a hint o’ spinach!

Since this minestrone has cabbage, I figured it’d be an easy swap – and it was! Aside from the coloring, you don’t even notice that the spinach is there. My food processor made such quick work of the spinach that it looks like extra basil. Like, a crazy amount of basil!

The soup is savory and filling, like minestrone should be. There aren’t a ridiculous amount of ingredients – Klein’s recipes are usually pretty simple and no-nonsense – and the whole thing doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to throw together. (Although you do start out by simmering the veggies for an hour, so there’s that. But there’s very little babysitting involved!)

Mini-Review: The CSA Cookbook, Linda Ly & Will Taylor (2015)

Monday, July 6th, 2015

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Edelweiss.)

I don’t belong to a CSA (community-supported agriculture), but I have kept a summer garden religiously for the past 14 years, with the setup ranging from over-the-top, wth-was-I-thinking ambitious to more modest container gardens. My most popular picks are tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and peppers, but I’ve also experimented with cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, asparagus, and gourds. I also have a few fruit trees: apples, pears, apricots, and one peach that was sadly on its last legs when we moved in (rest in peace).

Most years I end up with more produce than I can possibly hope to consume fresh. My strategies for dealing with the extras run the gamut, from adding them to our dogs’ food (veggie stew + their regular kibble = more volume, without the extra calories; also the gravy is great for the oldest two, who haven’t managed to hang onto all their teeth); washing, dicing, and freezing for later; making dehydrated snacks, including fruit leather; and donating it to the local food pantry (one year we delivered upwards of 500 pounds of apples!). Even so, come August and September the pressure not to waste the food I’ve worked so hard to grow and gather can get pretty intense.

(More below the fold…)

Cookbook Review: Simple Recipes for Joy, Sharon Gannon (2014)

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Really Enjoyed the Selection of Soups & Pasta Dishes

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.)

Sharon Gannon’s Simple Recipes for Joy: More Than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes is nothing if not quirky – and I mean that in the best way possible. The cover features a Mad Hatter-style vegan tea party, and the interior of the cookbook has a fun, funky ’70s vibe. The glossy pages include tons of mouth-watering food photos, as well as shots of the author, both at work (Garon co-founded the Jivamuktea Café in NYC) and play (her costumes will leave all the hippie chicks in awe).

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2014-08-13 - New Cookbook! - 0004 [flickr]

The 200 vegan recipes are divided up into fifteen sections: soups; pasta and sauces; salads; dressings; dips and spreads; grains; beans, tempeh, tofu, and seitan; vegetables; potatoes; toasts; sandwiches; quick bread and crackers; desserts; smoothies; and tea and other hot drinks. Also included are a FAQ; cooking tips; notes on a well-stocked kitchen; 30 sample menus; and 21-day cleansing diets.

Since I first got to know Simple Recipes for Joy during the cold winter months, I veered heavily towards the soups and pasta dishes. At 50 pages, the chapter on soups is easily the largest – and one of my favorites. Save for the Cream of Broccoli Soup – which was tasty enough, but made me all kinds of bloated – every recipe proved a winner.

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The Red Lentil and Tomato Soup was awesome, and helped me to polish off a whopping two pounds of my homegrown tomatoes. It’s a little on the thin side, though; for a heartier soup, I added an extra cup of red lentils toward the end of the cooking cycle. That gave them just enough time to cook, but not dissolve entirely, like the first batch.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2015-03-17

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

tweets for 2015-03-14

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Cookbook Review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook, Angela Liddon (2014)

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Deliciously Wholesome Vegan Food

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the publisher’s behest.)

Let me begin by thanking Penguin Books for sending me a copy of this cookbook for review about a month prior to its publication date. (Before it was even on my radar, actually.) As an avowed junk food vegan, it’s probably not something I would have picked up on my own – but I’ve discovered more than one new favorite dish in The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

As fans of the Oh She Glows website and blog already know, Angela Liddon focuses her culinary efforts on plant-based, healthy whole foods, free of chemicals and additives. Continuing this tradition, The Oh She Glows Cookbook includes 75 new recipes, as well as more than 25 fan favorites from her blog. Recipes run the gamut, from “power snacks” to smoothies, juices, and teas, as well as breakfast foods, appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, sides, and desserts. There’s a fairly wide variety of dishes to be found, from vegan versions of American favorites (Lentil Walnut Loaf, Grilled Portobello Burger, Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries) to more international meals (Creamy Vegetable Curry, Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole, Quick & Easy Chana Masala). Many of the recipes are gluten-free, or include gluten-free substitutions; and Liddon sometimes offers soy-free alternatives, too.

I tried just over a dozen recipes in preparation for this review (and, let’s be honest, because my stomach compelled me to!), including the following:

(More below the fold…)

Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burritos

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

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I don’t know why I don’t have burritos more often; aside from pizza, they’re pretty much the flyest finger food out there, and soooo much fun to eat. Seriously, I think the last time I made burritos was for a cookbook review more than a year ago! Such a shame. Note to self: must rectify this immediately.

So I wasn’t quite sure how these Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burritos from The Oh She Glows Cookbook would turn out. I really don’t eat quinoa very often – I’m still working on a two-pound bag I bought several years ago – so yeah. I figured I’d either love it or hate it. (In which case there’s a 99% chance that Shane would be more than happy to eat the extras. Human garbage can, that one.)

Well, I’m happy to report that option A prevailed. As in, this is totally one of my new favorite recipes! The combination of broccoli, sundried tomatoes, onions, and quinoa is tasty, but it’s the cheesy cashew sauce that really takes this burrito to the next level. (Yeah, I left out the celery. Sue me!)

Mine looks nothing like the burrito portrait in the book but I suspect that’s because I’m an amateur when it comes to wrapping burritos. Consider me flummoxed.

As a Saturday Raturday Bonus: A shot of Finnick, begging for food right next to a picture of him begging for food in nearly the exact same spot. How meta.

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P.S. If you’d rather not use quinoa, I bet plain old rice would make an excellent substitute. I’ll give it a try next time around and report back to you. Deal? (The things I do for you people!)

X is for Xaver Suppe (Xavier Soup)

Friday, September 27th, 2013

X is for Xavier Soup (0010)

And so we have arrived at the letter X! X, which is the bane of every blogger who attempts an alphabet theme, vegan or otherwise. X, which usually results in baked goods bound together with Xanthan gum. X, which is a pretty badass letter and really should have some equally badass desserts to go along with it. Someone get on this, okay?

My only real option for this dish was, ironically, a Catholic soup that’s traditionally served on St. Francis Xavier’s Day. (Ironic because I’m not just an atheist, but an apostate to boot. And yeah, that’s probably not the correct use of the word “ironic,” but wev. I live by my own rules!) It’s a pretty plain dish, just dumplings in clear chicken broth. Yawn, right? I added some veggies to make things a bit more interesting, but it’s still rather understated. Also less canon, but whaddya gonna do?

I based the veganized version on this recipe from Catholic Cuisine, using flax eggs as a substitute in the dumplings. Since I halved the dumpling recipe, there’s a rather odd amount of eggs: one egg and one egg yolk, the latter which the internet tells me is equivalent to one half of an egg. The quantities are a little weird, but it works.

My only other experience with dumplings being the Seitan and Herb Dumplings from American Vegan Kitchen, I wasn’t quite sure how the dough would – or should – turn out. Tami Noyes’s dough is dry enough that you can roll it out on the countertop, but this batch proved much stickier. At first I tried making marble-sized balls with an (improvised) piping bag, as suggested in the original recipe, but quickly gave up and did it by hand. If you go this route, grease your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to them. It’s far from foolproof, but works much better than flour!

The finished product is…okay. Kind of like chicken noodle soup, but with dumplings in place of noodles, and a little plainer all around. Me, I think I’ll stick to vegan chicken noodle soup in the future – it’s heartier, and hella easier to make.

Served with a freshly made loaf of Kalamata Olive Bread. I doubt that this pairing is in keeping with tradition, but so what? KALAMATA OLIVE BREAD!

X is for Xavier Soup (0012)

Xaver Suppe


…for the dumplings

1.5 tablespoons ground flax seed + 4.5 tablespoons water (or an egg substitute equivalent to one egg + one egg yolk)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (plus extra as needed)
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese (less?)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons parsley

…for the soup

8 cups vegan chicken broth
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 large carrot, diced (optional)
1 celery stalk, diced (optional)
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon parsley


1. First, prepare your egg substitute. In a blender, combine 1.5 tablespoon ground flax seed + 4.5 tablespoons water. Pulse for about a minute, or until fully blended. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the flour, margarine, soy milk, and parmesan cheese. As the margarine melts, stir until the flour forms a solid dough. Work in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, parsley, and egg substitute.

3. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a big nozzle and pipe marble-sized balls onto a greased tray. Alternately, you can do this by hand, rolling pieces of dough into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

4. Next, make the soup. In a large stockpot, bring the veggie broth to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Whip in the arrowroot powder and then add the carrots, celery, bay leaves, and onion powder. Simmer for about ten minutes, or until the carrots start to become tender. Remove the bay leaves and add the dough balls. Cook for five to ten minutes (cook time will vary depending on the size of the dough balls), or until cooked all the way through. Add the parsley and serve hot.


T is for Tuscan Bread Soup

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0003)

So this meal started out as the Tuscan Bread Soup from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook – but I tinkered with it enough that I’m no longer sure it qualifies as either “Tuscan” or a “bread soup.”

First up, the white beans had to go, on accounta beans make my belly bloated and gassy. I replaced those with a cup of mini pasta shells. And celery? Ew! It’s so stringy, like a coil of dental floss. I swapped that out for carrots. I also used fewer onions and more garlic, ’cause that’s how I roll. And more broth – vegan chicken instead of vegetable, since that’s what’s in my cabinet – so there would be leftovers. Fresh tomatoes, too; ’tis the season! Of course I just had to make the bread garlic, which I then served alongside the soup rather than under it; I just couldn’t bear the thought of diluting its extra-awesome garlicky flavor. (With minced garlic AND garlic powder. That’s what I’m talkinbout!)

This soup was so kickin’ that I decided to write down the modified recipe, since it’s definitely something I plan on making again. Probably it’s a little more in the area of a minestrone now, but that’s okay. A soup by any other name.

T is for Tuscan Bread Soup [Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook] (0010)

Some Kind of Soup, Not Necessarily Tuscan Bread Soup

(Adapted from the Tuscan Bread Soup found in Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 large carrots, diced
8 cups vegan chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup miniature shells (or the teeny tiny pasta of your choice)

4 large slices French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
a dash of garlic powder


1. In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onion and cook on medium until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low. Continue to cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes release some of their juices.

2. Add the carrots, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer for another fifteen minutes, or until the carrots and tomatoes are to your liking. (I prefer mine on the tender side.)

3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the garlic bread. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Spread onto the bread and let sit until step #4. When the soup’s nearly ready, bake the bread at 450F for five to ten minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

4. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Add the miniature shells and cook for about five minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Remove from heat and enjoy while hot. You can either pour the soup over the bread in a large bowl, or serve the bread alongside the soup for dipping.


tweets for 2013-01-10

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Lunch is served!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

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Another one from Vegan Italiano: Baked Herbed Rice. What I love about this recipe is that it’s 100% oven-baked. White rice, veggie broth, scallions, carrots (in place of celery), seasonings – just combine the ingredients in a baking dish, cook for thirty minutes, and lunch is served. No stirring required!

I assembled it after my morning workout and popped it in the oven while I grabbed a quick shower. When I was done, my afternoon snack was sitting there, just waiting for me. Can’t do that with stove top rice.

As far as rice dishes go, it’s pretty basic, but also tasty and satisfying.

Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: "Jalapeño Face" Spicy Waldorf Salad & Iggy Pop and the Stooges

Saturday, October 27th, 2012


The song: “I Want to Be Your Dog” by Iggy Pop and the Stooges, performed live at Rock the Waldorf Astoria 2010 (lyrics)

The foodstuff: “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad (recipe below)

The connection: Is improv for Iron Chef.


'Jalapeno Face' Spicy Waldorf Salad for Iron Chef (0031)


As tempted as I was to make another pizza for this week’s Iron Chef challenge (hot peppers, sunflower seeds, and grapes!), I ix-nayed the idea-ay, since we literally just made two pizzas yesterday – and have the leftovers to prove it. Instead, I decided to go the healthy route with a Waldorf salad. (Which is to say, Shane had salad for dinner whilst watching me chow down on pizza, ’cause hot peppers? Not my scene. HE’S A SAINT.)

Though I eat a ton of salad, I almost never follow a recipe proper. For me, it’s as easy as tossing all my favorite veggies and toppings together in a ginormous Tupperware bowl (mere dinnerware cannot contain my Big Salads!) and getting my nom on. Before today, I had only the vaguest idea of what goes into a Waldorf salad.

According to the Wikis, “A Waldorf salad is a salad traditionally made of fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal. […] Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, grapes, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added. Updated versions of the salad sometimes change the dressing to a seasoned mayonnaise or a yogurt dressing.”

The “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad* I came up with is a mix of old and new. It’s got all the classic fixins of a Waldorf salad: greens, apples, celery, grapes, walnuts, and mayo – as well as a few new additions: spicy, jalapeño-roasted sunflower seeds and an equally spicy jalapeño mayo dressing. A mix of sweet and spicy, the “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad is not for the faint of tongue!

Pro tip: The mayo is just my go-to DIY Nayonaise recipe with some diced jalapeños thrown in. You can just blend some hot peppers with your own favorite vegan mayo, if you’d rather. Make a whole batch of the stuff, or just enough for the salad – it’s super-flexible.

Paired with Iggy Pop because he and The Stooges played the Waldorf-Astoria (the birthplace of today’s meal) when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. That, and Iggy Pop is all the awesome.


'Jalapeno Face' Spicy Waldorf Salad for Iron Chef (0026)


“Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad


a bed of leafy greens
diced apples
diced celery
green grapes
jalapeño-roasted sunflower seeds (see recipe below)
spicy vegan mayo (see recipe below)


In a large bowl, put down a layer of greens. Top with the apples, celery, grapes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and mayo and enjoy!

(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: Shepherd’s Pie & Hole

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012


The song: “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran (and covered by Hole; lyrics)

The foodstuff: Shepherd’s Pie from Cooking Vegan

The connection: This hearty dish will satisfy carnists of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention the vegans in the house!


Shepherd’s Pie and “Hungry Like the Wolf” – because both prey on gentler creatures such as sheep. But the joke’s on them, because this “pie” is vegan, yo!

For obvious vegan feminist reasons (supposedly “shepherdess pie” is slang for meatless shepherd’s pie), I was tempted to make Veganomicon’s Tempeh Shepherdess Pie – but ultimately opted for the Shepherd’s Pie from Cooking Vegan instead. (Maybe I didn’t have any tempeh on hand? Can’t remember!)


Shepherd's Pie from Cooking Vegan (0002)


More like a casserole than a pie –

I was expecting it all to be enclosed in a crust, a la Amy’s brand Shepherd’s Pie; cue: sad Kelly when I realized otherwise

– this dish features a layer of vegan ground round mixed with celery, onions, garlic, soy sauce, and worcestershire sauce (vegan, natch!), layered with frozen corn and mashed potatoes.


Shepherd's Pie from Cooking Vegan (0029)


It was fairly easy to make, minus the mashed potatoes: the husband stepped in as my pinch hitter here, because me and mashed potatoes always end with starchy potato chunks decorating the kitchen and a forlorn woman who vaguely resembles me, cowering and crying in the corner. Pro tip: sub in your own favorite mashed potato recipe, or add some extra seasonings – garlic, maybe, or margarine – ’cause the mashed potato layer in CV’s Shepherd’s Pie is kind of bland. The strong (and not unpleasant) taste of the ground round mix offsets this a bit – but only goes so far.

I couldn’t find any vegan ground round in my rural MO grocery stores, so I just defrosted six large Sam’s Club-sized Boca Burgers on the countertop and then fried and mashed them until they resembled ground round. I also switched out the celery for carrots because CELERY EWWWWW! Otherwise I think I followed the recipe more or less faithfully.

The bake time is pretty flexible, and this is the kind of meal you can make a day in advance and store in the fridge until it’s needed.

I meant to serve it with some warm, buttery (margariney?) dinner rolls, but forgot to thaw them in advance. No matter! This pie has more than enough carbs for everyone, not to mention veggies, protein, and a bit of fat. All your foods on one plate. Hearty, filling, and tasty. Just toss a brownie on top and call it a night!


Shepherd's Pie from Cooking Vegan (0034)


veganmofo 2012
Eat to the Beat

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Dehydrated Zucchini Chips (A 5 for 1 dealio!)

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

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Subtitle: The Great Zucchini Chip Experiment!

While Shane was away at TAM, I spent the week tearing up the kitchen: Triple batches of granola! Marinara sauce made from garden fresh tomatoes and frozen for later! Homemade ranch dressing, with homemade sour cream! (The silken tofu? Store-bought. Not a level 5 vegan, I.) Banana ice cream as far as the eye can see! And zucchini chips, too! Stacks and stacks of dehydrated zucchini chips, in a futile attempt to deplete my zucchini stockpile. (Within two days of using up nearly all the zukes, my produce drawer was full again. Cue: existential crisis.)

Though these Baked Zucchini Sticks retain the title of Best Zucchini Recipe EVER, the zucchini chips are a close second. Not only do they use up a ton of zukes – seven zucchinis yielded about 18 cups of chips, which at the current rate of consumption will be gone within the week – but they’re freaking delicious, too. Especially the salt & vinegar ones, if that’s your thing. (I’m not just a member of the fan club, I’m the president!)

After poking around the interwebz, I came up with five flavors. So far I’ve only tried the first three (Salt & Vinegar, Salted Celery – aka Celery Salt, and Salt & Pepper), but the other two are on my to-do list. The Lemon Pepper should be interesting, and I’m sure Shane will get a kick out of the Spicy Cumin & Cayenne Pepper version. For an even simpler chip, stick to just the olive oil and/or salt – or omit the oil entirely for a lighter snack.

Don’t have a dehydrator? Try baking these in the oven. Sure, it’ll be hotter and you’ll have to process them in smaller batches, but baked zucchini chips are the bomb. I’m not sure how the vinegar will affect the baking process, but the other recipes should work just fine.

I have a Nesco Gardenmaster (reviewed here), which is big and bulky but also not super-expensive when purchased new. Sometimes you can score ’em at Goodwill for a fraction of the price. If you grow your own fruits, veggies, and/or herbs, they can be incredibly useful. Use it to make your own fruit leather when autumn rolls around and you can score apples on the cheap. It costs a fraction of the price of the store-bought stuff, and you can create any flavor you can dream up.

My sister actually puts my homemade fruit leather on her Christmas wishlist now, for serious! Plus it’s good for distracting dogs whilst you stab at them with needles. (Ralphie needs a shot of antigens every few weeks. I’m not a sadist, sheesh!) The more you know!

And now for the zucchini chips. The instructions are basically the same for each recipe, but I repeated them five times in case you’d like to copy, paste, and print one or two recipes in particular. (You’re welcome!) All the instructional type photos are in the first recipe.

Pro tip: While the general consensus seems to be that you should stick with younger, seedless zukes, I prefer the mega-ginormous overgrown ones. Not only do they produce a more substantial chip (when dried, zuke slices with a diameter of 1-2″ shrink down to practically nothing!), but the seeds aren’t really a problem – they dehydrate easy peasy.

Pro tip #2: Of course, this works best with veggies fresh from the garden – but in a pinch, dehydration is an excellent way of preserving older zucchinis that have started to shrivel a bit. Not that we ever let it get to that point, nudge nudge wink wink.

Ready, set, dehydrate!

(More below the fold…)

Vegan Junk Food Cookbook Review: Riots, not diets!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold (2011)


five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food is my new favorite cookbook. (The previous title holder? Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop – which should tell you a little sumthin’ sumthin’! Namely, that I like my vegan food filled with empty calories.) At my request, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy – along with two copies to give away – from the publisher, Adams Media. With a name like “Vegan Junk Food,” I figured it couldn’t disappoint.

Whether you like your junk food sweet or savory, chocolaty or cheesy, Lane (can I call you Lane?) has got you covered. The 225 recipes in this collection are divided into ten categories: breakfast foods; deli favorites (i.e., sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and sliders); comfort-meets-takeout foods (entrees); crusts and carbs (pizzas and breads); festive grub (party foods!); dips, hummus, and sauces (including sundae toppings!); savory treats; cakes; candies and cookies; and grab ‘n’ go sweets (brownies and bars). As you can see, the recipes are roughly divided between meal-type items (entrees, main courses) and snacks/desserts.

The husband and I tried out about twenty recipes before I sat down to write this review; and, while I don’t usually review cookbooks, this is easily the largest number of recipes I’ve sampled for a cookbook review, like, ever. (I just couldn’t stop myself; everything looks so good!) Possibly it’s the most recipes I’ve made from a single cookbook, period. Though I own a ridiculous number of them, I don’t use cookbooks with much frequency; more often I cook from memory or pull recipes off the internet. But Vegan Junk Food? Most definitely joining my repertoire!

The book’s obvious strength, of course, is the food: oodles and oodles of junk food! Pizza. Pasta. Tacos. Pot pies. Casseroles. Cupcakes, pies, and brownies. Empty calories as far as the eye can see! Wait, that’s not entirely fair: some of these foods aren’t all that bad for you. Ironically, many of the recipes in Vegan Junk Food are actually healthier than my own versions. The Mac and Cheese Bake, for example, uses a vegan Velveeta-like cheese sauce made of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Even factoring in the additional vegan cheese shreds in this dish, it’s still way better for you than my own mac & cheese recipe, which is basically just pasta and processed vegan cheeses (namely, Daiya and Follow Your Heart). Don’t let the book’s title fool you: while these foods may look and taste like junk food, they’re not all super-trashy.

With options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Vegan Junk Food is versatile. Mix and match the recipes for something new – or experiment to make them your own. For example, I used leftovers from some of the recipes to create new banana ice cream dishes!

While some of the recipes call for pricey vegan meats and cheeses, Gold doesn’t rely on these products exclusively. (Unlike the PPP blog, Vegan Junk Food doesn’t read like a Lightlife ad!) In fact, she offers diy recipes for many of these vegan staples so you can make ’em your own bad self, oftentimes at a fraction of the price! See, e.g., gravy (page 61); ricotta (pg. 120); sour cream (pg. 120); cheese sauce (pg. 121) basil pesto (pg. 124); and ranch dressing (pg. 126), to name just a few!

My complaints are few and relatively minor. Some recipes reference other recipes – to return to the Mac and Cheese Bake, the Cheese Sauce is its own recipe, located in a different section of the book – but don’t include a page number alongside the recipe title, thus forcing the reader to consult the index in order to find it. A minor annoyance, compounded by the index’s lack of user friendliness. (I find it counter-intuitive and difficult to use.) An estimated cook time and rating for difficulty on each dish would have been nice too, but I suppose both are easy enough to gauge by reading through the instructions.

I also ran into issues with two of the recipes – the Almond Joy Bar Cake and the Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, and Hash Brown Quiche – which I’ll explain below. Still, out of twenty recipes, two small glitches? Not so bad! Especially when you consider my lackluster track record with baked goods. Brownies, why you no like me?

What follows is a run-down of all the dishes I’ve tried thus far. I’ve only tackled about half the items on my to-do list, so I’m far from done with this cookbook! I’ll post additional pictures as I take them, so keep an eye out for those.


  • Pesto Chicken Pizza with Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 85)

    2012-02-18 - Chik'n Pesto & French Fry Pizzas - 0009

    This was the first recipe we tried out, and quite possibly it’s also my favorite! The pureed white beans, seasoned with vegetable broth, nooch, and garlic, makes for a savory and filling pizza sauce, and the Basil Pesto is simple yet delicious. Enjoy this pizza with a fork and bib, though – it’s a messy one!

    (More below the fold…)

  • Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup for the Animal Lover’s Soul

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

    2011-10-20 - Vegan Chicken Noodle - 0031

    There’s a chill in the air and a nip at my nose, and we’re slowly coming to the point at which I can’t leave the house with wet hair lest I end up walking around with an icicle helmet on my head. Winter, must you come again so soon?

    The only upside to this cold weather that I can see – sweat pants and baggy sweaters excepted – is hot soup and hotter chocolate. Let’s concentrate on the soup today, mkay? This one’s a vegan version of the perennial classic, Chicken Noodle. I’ve been fantasizing about it ever since VegNews published a version on its blog a few months back. (Or at least I thought I saw one over there; I can’t seem to find it now. Brain freeze, I think it came early this year!)

    This recipe is pretty standard; I found similar versions on Chow Vegan, Choose Veg and The Vegetarian Times, and tweaked them to my own fussy liking. Even though I loathe the stuff, I left celery in the recipe, because chances are that you dig it. But my protest, I’m registering it. I WOULD RATHER BE SHOT IN THE FACE THAN EAT THIS STUPID FOOD.

    The celery, I mean. The Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup? Warms the soul, baby (yours and the chicken’s!).

    Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup for the Animal Lover’s Soul


    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 onion, finely diced
    1 medium leek, white and a little of the green part, sliced into 1/8″ thick rounds
    2 or 3 carrots, sliced into 1/8″ thick rounds
    2 celery stalks, sliced (optional; I HATE CELERY!)
    8 cups vegan chicken broth (either 8 cups of water mixed with the appropriate amount of vegan chicken base bouillon – recommends Osem and Telma brands – or 8 cups premade liquid broth, e.g., Imagine Foods Organic No Chicken Broth)
    2 bay leaves
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    2 tablespoons parsley
    6 to 8 ounces of vegan chicken strips, diced (e.g., Gardein Chick’n Filets or Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips)
    6 ounces dry fettuccine, broken into 2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
    salt and pepper to taste


    1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and leeks and sauté until almost translucent. Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another five minutes, or until almost tender.

    2. Add the bouillon broth, onion powder, salt and pepper and bay leaves. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer for five minutes or so.

    3. Add the Gardein chick’n filets, parsley and noodles. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil a second time, then reduce the heat and let simmer for ten minutes, or until the noodles are tender.

    4. Serve warm, but remember to remove the bay leaves first!

    We forgot the soup crackers, but the impromptu garlic toast tasted even better. Happy accidents!

    2011-10-20 - Vegan Chicken Noodle - 0038

    Vegan MoFo 2011 logo banner

    Dog Food Disclaimer

    Friday, January 8th, 2010

    Dog Food “Disclaimer”
    Since I’ve started to blog recipes for dog food and treats with increasing frequency, I thought it might be wise to compile the following caveats on one page, rather than trying to include them in every single post. It’s nothing serious – really, “disclaimer” makes this page sound so much more ominous than it is – just a few notes on how and what I feed my dog-kids, foods and ingredients to avoid, and the like.

    Please note that I’m not a veterinary expert or canine nutritionist, nor do I play one on the internets.

    2006-10-01 - SecondDayHome-0029

    A rare photo of all five of my dog-kids, all lined up on the couch and recliner, (mostly) all gazing out of the front window in one collective territorial display.
    Left to right, we have: Kaylee, O-Ren, Jayne, Peedee and Ralphie.
    Follow them on Twitter and Flickr, kay?

    2011-09-07 - Five Plus Two Equals SEVEN! - 0023

    Dogs #6 and 7, Mags and Finnick (and Kaylee in the background), on the day we brought them home. Don’t worry, the icky leather dog collars have since been replaced!
    (Though not thrown away! I’m a sentimental sucker.)

    “My” Vegan Dogs, “Your” Vegan Dogs

    Currently, I am a guardian to five seven dogs: four six rat/fox/Jack Russell terrier mixes and a dachshund. (We welcomed dogs #6 and 7, Mags and her son Finnick, into our home in September 2011!) All are in good-to-excellent health: Ralphie suffers a slew of allergies, all of them related to environmental allergens and kept at bay with the help of regular antigen injections; Kaylee has some dental issues, the combination of poor genetics and neglect at the hands of her previous “owners,” as well as a heart murmur; and Jayne was just recovering from heartworm when we adopted her, so it’s unclear what issues, if any, this might cause down the road.

    We also have one cat, Lemmy, a stray who unexpectedly appeared on our doorstep one cold January night. He’s the lone meat-eater in the house. Before Lemmy was Ozzy, my “step-cat kid,” whom my now-husband adopted before we started dating. Ozzy also consumed a non-vegan diet. (Rest in peace, buddy.)

    Because I work from home, I have the luxury of feeding the dogs three small meals a day, with two snacks in between. (Why three? Well, they love to eat – naturally – and three meals gives them a little something extra to look forward to.) For breakfast, they eat dry, commercial, vegan kibble. At lunch and dinner time, I usually serve them a roughly 30/70 mix of dry kibble and “wet” homemade food. In other words, their diet breaks down thusly: 80% commercial kibble – which, just like meat-based foods, must meet or exceed the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) – and 20% homemade food, which alone may or may not be nutritionally adequate. So, while I try to create the healthiest, most nutritional homemade meals possible, I do not recommend that readers rely solely upon the recipes featured here to meet their dog-kids’ needs. I don’t.

    In addition to the above, I also indulge the dogs with two “treats” a day: namely, specially made “peanut butter balls.” The base ingredient, of course, is peanut butter, blended with a mix of nutritional yeast, wheat germ, quick oats, and/or TVP in order to give it a dough-like consistency. I also add some nutritional supplements and occasionally any “superfoods” or probiotics that I have on hand. (My father works as a buyer for a natural foods department in a chain store-that-shall-remain-nameless, and is usually buried in product samples!) I roll the dough into little balls by the tea- and/or tablespoonful, and serve them to the dogs in the late morning, halfway between breakfast and lunch, and at night before bed.

    The balls serve two purposes: they supplement the homemade food, and also make a great place to hide pills if need be. Indeed, the four “senior” dogs – Ralphie, Peedee, Kaylee, and Mags – receive a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, to help with their joints and mobility. It’s derived from shellfish, which means that these guys are not vegan (though I’m currently in search of a vegan substitute). Aside from the occasional gelcap medications, the other three dogs are all vegans, at least in the dietary sense of the word.

    Occasionally, I also make the dogs homemade treats; because it’s so quick and easy, I rarely purchase commercial treats anymore. And then there’s the added bonus of knowing exactly what’s in your kid’s snacks. Treats need not be specific to dogs, either; they enjoy many of the same (healthy!) snack foods as humans: raw, dried or frozen carrots, celery, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, cranberries, blueberries and strawberries make for yummy treats, as can some cereals, such as (generic) Cheerios and Chex. (Scroll down to the next section for a list of foods to avoid.)

    In regards to commercial kibble, we used the Nature’s Recipe® Healthy Skin & Coat Vegetarian Recipe for many years – seven, give or take – without any problems. Indeed, we actually switched to the Nature’s Recipe® vegetarian formula on the advice of our veterinarian. At the time, our recently-adopted Ralphie had begun to exhibit skin allergies, and the first course of action was to rule out any dietary causes – hence the vegetarian food. Although a skin patch test eventually revealed that he’s allergic to a number of environmental irritants, we decided to keep him on the vegetarian kibble nonetheless. As Peedee and O-Ren (and later, Kaylee and Jayne) joined the pack, we also fed them vegetarian kibble and homemade food.

    In early 2010, I decided to transition the dogs from a vegetarian to a vegan kibble (having abandoned the use of eggs and dairy in homemade dog food the year before). According to the Vegan Dog Nutrition Association, the Nature’s Recipe Vegetarian formula is not vegan, as the vitamin A is derived from retinol and the vitamin D3, from lanolin. My first choice of vegan kibble was V-Dog, which the dogs initially tolerated. However, after several months on V-Dog, I noticed a large uptick in the frequency of vomiting (usually bile, usually at night) in all five dogs – even Kaylee and Jayne, who have stomachs of steel (probably from years spent scavenging for food due to “owner” neglect and/or abuse). In May, we switched to Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance@ Vegetarian Formula (available on Amazon with free shipping) – which is vegan – and the vomiting quickly ceased. More than two years later, and the dogs are thriving on Natural Balance (and their mum and dad could not be happier or more relieved!).

    The Finger Troll on Flickr

    “The Finger Troll”: A gray stone forest troll gleefully flips the camera the bird.
    CC image via .m for matthijs on Flickr.

    Please do not harangue me about “my” vegan dogs!

    Over time, this page has become a sort of troll magnet. Thus, I’ve decided to reiterate my comment policy, just to make it crystal clear.

    Comments are great; obnoxious comments get deleted.

    I consider pro-exploitation comments extremely obnoxious, whether the exploitation in question is species-, sex-, gender-, race-, sexual orientation-, gender identity-, size-, age- and/or nationality-based.

    Concern trolls, save your breath: I have no interest in hearing how I’m an idiot and/or animal abuser because “OMG dogs are omnivores and need meat and you are killing your pets you evil wench you!!!1!” All such comments will be summarily deleted.

    Look. I love and respect “my” dogs – more than you do your own, most likely (assuming you’re an omnivore who sees nothing wrong with “owning” other sentient beings). Prior to changing my dog-kids’ diets – be it from meat-based to vegetarian kibble, from vegetarian to vegan kibble, and/or from strictly commercial foods to homemade meals – I did a ton of research and reading. (Okay, not a literal ton, but certainly pounds worth.) These are not decisions I made lightly. My dog-kids are dependent upon me for their care and well-being, and I give more though to their health and nutrition than I do my own. (To give you an idea how attentive a guardian I am, I keep a health file for each animal, logging everything from medications administered to meals missed.)

    Anyhow, back to that research. What I discovered is that even the most skeptical, speciesist, anti-veg veterinarians and nutritionists will concede that (most) dogs can survive and even thrive on a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet. Dogs are opportunistic omnivores; while many dogs certainly like the taste of meat and may hunt, kill and/or consume other animals when given the opportunity, animal-based proteins are not necessary to a healthy, nutritious canine diet.

    (And don’t even get me started on what’s “natural.” Is lounging in an air conditioned house during the summer months “natural”? How about sleeping on an elevated mattress indoors? Or how about being fed one’s meal in a ceramic dish at regular intervals throughout the day? And these questions are equally applicable to humans as well as canines. “Natural” is a subjective, largely unquantifiable category that’s oftentimes used to justify and/or romanticize a state of being we’ve most likely evolved beyond.)

    Remember, I have been feeding my dog-kids vegetarian/vegan kibble and homemade food for ten years now (for Ralphie, this translates into ten years of vegetarian/vegan eats; at the low end, Mags and Finnick have been vegetarian/vegan for less than a year, with everyone else falling somewhere in the middle). Not one of them has developed a chronic, diet-related illness. As I mentioned earlier, Ralphie, Kaylee and Jayne do have some health issues – but none of these can be attributed to their diet. Over the years, we’ve had four different regular veterinarians, and seen at least as many specialists; none have expressed concern at our dogs’ health or diet. The senior dogs in particular receive a thorough blood workup every six to twelve months, and all of the dogs see the vet twice a year. (And it’s also worth noting that none of these individuals are vegans or animal rights advocates; indeed, we’ve mostly resided in rural areas and have seen correspondingly conservative veterinary professionals.)

    In contrast, our lone cat-kid is a carnivore and does eat a meat-based kibble. This isn’t to suggest that some cats cannot thrive on a vegetarian or vegan diet; rather, after doing some research into the issue, I personally decided that I would not be comfortable feeding Lemmy such a diet.

    So no, I’m not a selfish asshat who is willing to sacrifice her dogs’ welfare in service of her own philosophical and ethical beliefs. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    2008-06-02 - Peedee hearts Wolfrum - 0016

    Stretched out in front of a wall of bookcases, Peedee the rat terrier peruses a copy of The Marriage of True Minds. He’s a sucker for romance stories set against the backdrop of animal liberation struggles, yo. Image via moi on Flickr.

    Additional Vegan Resources

    For those who’d like to learn more (or still insist on concern trolling), here’s a select list of additional resources.

    Vegan Dog Nutrition Association |

    VegePets |

    Dr. Armaiti May, Vegan Vet |

    Animal Person |

    Dogs Can EAT Vegan Too!,” by M. Butterflies Katz

    Vegetarian Dog Health Survey,” by PETA (.pdf)

    Obligate Carnivore: Cats, Dogs & What it Really Means to be Vegan, 2nd Edition, by Jed Gillen (2008)

    You can find an even lengthier list of links and books in the Dogs! Dogs! Dogs! blogroll category, as well as the Companion Care section of this site’s Recommended Reading list.

    Pirate Cookies via Sweet! Cupcakes and Treats on Flickr

    “Pirate Cookies”: A decapitated skull and crossbones wears a festive black eyepatch over one pink, heart-shaped eye. Totally cute, but also totally non-vegan.
    CC image via Sweet! Cupcakes and Treats on Flickr.

    Foods to Avoid

    The following is a list of foods and ingredients that you should either avoid giving to dogs altogether, or should only use in moderation. As for sources, the list of “no-no” foods for dogs is a rather standard one. I compiled this guide by synthesizing a number of lists founds online and adding my own notations where appropriate. Sources are provided for direct quotes. Please note that this list is applicable to dogs only.

    The foods appear in alphabetical order rather than order of importance.
    Foods that are harmful or toxic to dogs include:

    Animal Bones: In addition to the obvious (animal bones, not vegan!), you should not give your canine friends the bones of other peoples’ friends because 1) they pose a choking hazard and 2) pieces of the bone might splinter or break off, thus becoming lodged in your friend’s digestive tract. And that’s no fun for anyone, am I right? Stick to dehydrated sweet potatoes and peanut-butter filled Kongs, mkay?

    Animal “Meat” & Eggs, Raw/Undercooked : “Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.” And also: hello, “meat” and eggs aren’t vegan! (Source.)

    Animal Milk: Also decidedly un-vegan, milk is a no-no for another reason, too: adult canines – like many (most?) adult animals – do not produce enough lactase to properly digest animal milks. Thus, “real” milk can cause indigestion and diarrhea in dogs, much like in their people. Plant-based milks (soy, rice, hemp, etc.) make a fine substitute when needed.

    Avocado: “The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.” (Source.)

    Caffeine, Chocolate, Coffee: “These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.” Used in moderation, carob powder and chips are an acceptable substitute for chocolate. (Source.)

    Cat food: Because cat food is higher in protein and fats than dog food, it can cause indigestion and diarrhea. Plus, it’s cat food – duh!

    Chives: Chives “can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities” of chives. (Source.)

    Corn Cobs: Do not give your dog friend whole (or even partial) corn cobs to gnaw on. If she breaks off and swallows a large piece, it could become lodged in her throat and cause choking, or in her digestive tract, causing an obstruction.

    Fat: As with humans, a diet high in fatty foods does not a healthy dog make. Limit your friend’s fat intake to keep her healthy and happy. Forgo the fryer – steam, bake and broil homemade foods instead.

    Garlic: Most sources recommend against giving garlic to dogs. For example, the ASPCA lumps garlic in with onion and chives: “[Garlic] can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.”

    As with several “bad” foods, garlic is the subject of much debate among “pet” “owners.” I’ve included garlic in my own dog-kids’ food – in modest amounts – for several years with no problems. However, I’ve begun to move away from it in the past six months or so, on the premise “better safe than sorry.” Probably you’ll find garlic listed as an ingredient in some of my earlier dog food recipes, but it’s easily omitted.

    Grapes & Raisins: “Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets who already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.” (Source.)

    Macadamia Nuts: “Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.” (Source.)

    Mushrooms: “Wild mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma, or death.” (Source.) “Mushroom poisoning occurs as a result of ingesting toxic mushrooms. Not all mushrooms are poisonous, but each type of poisonous mushroom can cause different signs of illness. Poisonous mushrooms are classified into four main categories, based on the clinical signs they cause, or into seven categories, based on the toxins they contain. The onset of clinical signs may occur anywhere from minutes to hours following ingestion.” (Source.)

    The general consensus seems to be that store-bought mushrooms – such as shitaki, maitake and reishi – are generally safe, but wild-growing mushrooms should be avoided at all costs. If your dog friend exhibits any of the following symptoms after ingesting mushrooms – even seemingly “safe” ones – induce vomiting and/or get her to the vet asap: diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, lethargy, jaundice (yellow skin color), seizures, coma and/or excess salivation. Never, ever allow a dog to eat wild-growing mushrooms; should you notice any growing in your yard (or anywhere dogs frequent), remove and dispose of them right away.

    Nutmeg: “Nutmeg is reported to be a hallucinogenic when ingested in large doses. Nutmeg has been known to cause tremors, seizures and in some cases, death.” Before learning that nutmeg is a no-no, I included it in a few dog food dishes. Luckily, my dog-kids are none the worse for wear, but I no longer use the stuff. Additionally, I made appropriate notations in any published recipes in which nutmeg appears. Also note that commercial “Pumpkin Spice” blends contain nutmeg, along with ginger and cinnamon. (Source.)

    Nuts, other than Macadamias and Walnuts: Nuts should not be given to dogs in excess, as the high phosphorus content can/may lead to bladder stones. (So sayeth the Internets!) Nor are they easily digested (but then again, neither are whole beans). I’ve had good luck with nut butters used in moderation, as well as fresh nuts, processed into small bits or powder. Ditto: sunflower and pumpkin seeds. They add a little extra protein and variety to cooked meals – but if you’d rather nix them from any recipe in which they appear, it’s an easy fix.

    Onions: Onions “can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities” of onions. (Source.)

    Pits and Seeds, i.e., present in fruits and/or vegetables: Pits, such as those from peaches and plums, can become lodged in a dog’s throat and/or digestive tract and cause obstruction. Seeds can also cause intestinal obstruction and/or irritation. Some seeds contain cyanide – really! Smaller dogs are at an increased risk of choking and obstruction due to their cute lil’ bodies.

    Potatoes, Green: “Solanum alkaloids can be found in green sprouts and green potato skins, which occurs when the tubers are exposed to sunlight during growth or after harvest. The relatively rare occurrence of actual poisoning is due to several factors: solanine is poorly absorbed; it is mostly hydrolyzed into less toxic solanidinel; and the metabolites are quickly eliminated. Cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for dogs, actually quite nutritious and digestible.” (Source.)

    Sodium/Salt: “Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.” You can work to reduce the salt in your companion’s diet by purchasing fresh, frozen or dried whole ingredients and preparing them yourself. My Kaylee, for example, is on a low-sodium diet, so I’ve taken to cooking with dry vs. canned beans, as the latter contains moderate amounts of salt. This is also a good way to save a little extra money – and who doesn’t like that?! (Source.)

    Spoiled Food: C’mon, really?!

    Sugar/Sugary Foods: As with fats and sodium, sugar and sugary foods should be kept to a minimum. A diet high in sugar can lead to obesity, dental decay and possibly diabetes mellitus (“sugar diabetes”).

    Tomatoes, Green/Under-ripe: “These contain atropine which can cause dialated pupils, tremors and irregular heartbeat. The highest concentration of atropine is found in the leaves and stems of tomato plants, next is the unripe (green) tomatoes and then the ripe tomato.” (Source.)

    Occasionally, I include tomato paste or red, ripe tomatoes in a homemade recipe, and they’ve never caused a problem. You can omit them from any of my recipes if desired, or swap in a substitution (e.g., carrot or vegetable juice for tomato juice; a creamy nut butter instead of tomato paste; TVP, tofu or another vegetable in place of diced tomatoes; etc.).

    Walnuts: “When dogs eat the seed hulls, they can get an upset stomach and diarrhea. The real problem is the fungus or mold that attacks walnuts after they get wet (from rain or sprinklers), which produces toxins. If the fungus or mold is ingested by your dogs, they can become very ill and possibly die. Signs that should alert you to walnut poisoning are vomiting, trembling, drooling, lack of coordination, lethargy, loss of appetite, and jaundice indications such as yellowing eyes and gums. Severely affected dogs can produce blood-tinged vomit or stools. Dogs can take several days to exhibit serious signs of illness.” (Source.)

    Water, Stagnant or Toilet: “Stagnant water in ponds, bogs, small lakes, canals, seasonal creeks and other places where water sets still may contain harmful bacteria (Leptospira interrogans) and parasites such as giardia. Toilet water with freshner or cleaners in the tank or bowl contain toxic chemicals.” An obvious one, but worth reiterating. (Source.)

    Xylitol: “Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.” (Source.) Be sure to use toothpastes designed specifically for dogs – and never (ever!) give your dog candy or gum as a treat!

    Yeast Dough: “Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.” (Source.)
    Non-foodstuffs that are harmful or toxic to dogs include:

    Alcohol & Illicit/Unprescribed Drugs: “Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.” Just don’t do it; getting your animal friends drunk or high isn’t funny or cool – it’s abuse. (Source.)

    Iron, i.e., in human vitamin supplements: Excess and certain forms of iron “can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.” Do not give your dog-kid human supplements containing iron. (Source.)

    Pimple Balls: Made by Four Paws, Pimple Ball dog toys have led to injuries – sometimes resulting in death – in at least several dogs. Pimple Balls only have a singe hole, rather than two or more; this can create a vacuum within the toy, with the power to suck in and trap a dog’s tongue. In some cases, the victim’s tongue swelled after becoming entrapped in the ball, necessitating surgery to remove the toy. In at least one case, the dog’s injuries were so severe that his tongue had to be amputated (e.g., see Chai’s story). At least several other dogs died after being injured by this – and similar – toys. Please check your dog-kid’s toy box and promptly remove any toys with a single hole and/or capable of creating a vacuum when squeezed.

    String: If ingested, string can become stuck in a dog’s (or any animal’s) intestinal tract. Ditto: dental floss.

    Tennis Balls: Standard-size tennis balls can prove dangerous to larger dogs; dogs with larger mouths and jaws have been known to (accidentally) swallow and choke on tennis balls. Always purchase toys that are the appropriate size for your dog-kid: not too large to fit in her mouth (i.e., that she cannot chew it), but small enough that it can’t fit down her throat.

    Tobacco: Tobacco “contains nicotine, which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.” Also: are you out of your frakkin’ mind?! (Source.)

    Toys (General): For a complete and up-to-date list of recalled dog toys, search the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) database.

    Toys, Broken: Check your friend’s toy collection on a regular basis. Remove broken toys promptly, as dogs can ingest broken or chewed off pieces. These can cause irritation or injury to the digestive system or, in severe cases, choking or obstruction resulting in death.

    Toys, Cat: If you live with or care for cats and dogs, be sure to keep any cat toys away from the dogs in the house. Cat toys are much too small for dogs, who may inadvertently swallow them.

    The comments are open to corrections and suggestions, so leave ’em if you got ’em.
    Last updated 5/23/12

    Thanksliving ’08 Recipe Recap

    Monday, December 1st, 2008

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    Thanksliving has come and gone, but if I might, a late menu and some food porn – if only to give y’all a few ideas for next year (or, better yet, this FSMas).

    Since my father’s a vegetarian, I’ve been eating Tofurky for Thanksliving every year since I went veg – which is roughly a dozen Save-a-Turkey Days, give or take. Up until last year, I (and my mother before me) always roasted it using the “traditional” OJ and soy sauce baste from Turtle Island Foods. Last year, the Mr. and I decided to mix things up, so we went with a newer Turtle Island recipe, Tofurky with Caramelized Onion and Cherry Relish. It was delish – but, not wanting to fall back into our habit of falling back on familiar recipes, I started searching for another baste recipe a few weeks ago. Dissatisfied with the Google results for “Tofurky recipe,” I had that aha! moment: why not search for turkey baste recipes? Surely I’d find a wider variety of bastes and marinades, most of which could be veganized, yeah?

    Hells yeah! In particular, I came upon this recipe for Maple Roast Turkey Tofurky that sounded awesome. Previously, I’d been eying Turtle Island’s Tofurky Maple-Pecan Roast, but was afraid that the chili paste and 5-spice powder might make the dish too hot for my taste buds. The Maple Roast recipe, then, sounded like the perfect compromise.

    And perfect it was! Of the three Tofurky recipes we’ve tried thus far, this was our favorite. And, even though the syrup has to cook and cool longer than the OJ/soy sauce marinade and caramelized onion and cherry relish, it wasn’t especially difficult to make. Not as mapley as I expected – perhaps I’ll try adding more maple syrup next time around – but yummy nonetheless.

    As for the other dishes, Shane made our standby Vegetarian Stuffing (which is actually vegan), as well as Cranberry Apple Potato Dumplings, while I was in charge of the white dinner rolls and apple pie. My menu isn’t nearly as impressive as those of other veg*n bloggers (you should definitely check out Elaine, River, Isa, and Jane and Lane’s Thanksliving Day offerings), but it was just the two of us, and we’ve got enough leftovers to last the rest of the week.

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    – Maple Roast Tofurky with potatoes and carrots (recipe below)

    – Vegetarian Stuffing (recipe below)

    – Cranberry Apple Potato Dumplings (from Turtle Island Foods’ Tofurky Feast)

    Rhodes white dinner rolls

    – Mrs. Smith’s Deep Dish Apple Pie (frozen) with vanilla So Delicious ice cream

    – Beverages: watermelon juice, Silk Pumpkin Spice, Silk Soy Nog, Bigelow’s Earl Grey Green Tea, apple cider

    (More below the fold…)

    VeganMoFo, Day 5: The Big (Vegan) Salad

    Sunday, October 5th, 2008

    Being a lazy, tofu-averse vegan, I love me a good, big salad. No cooking, baking, measuring, instructions, books, directions or fuss involved. With a salad, nearly anything goes (as long as it’s veg*n, of course!). Prep time is nil; ditto for clean up.

    Plus, I just love the phrase: Big Salad. Yes, I’m a Seinfeld fan to the nth degree! I loved my greens well before The Big Salad hit the air, but somehow Elaine just made salads seem that much cooler.

    Here’s the Big (Vegan) Salad I feasted on last night:

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    There are some greens on the bottom, of course; I started out with some Dole bagged salad, American style, with iceberg, romaine, red cabbage, carrots and radishes. Then I added some baby carrots, black olives, croutons, Bacos and cherry and grape tomatoes (freshly plucked from the garden, natch!). To top it off, I cooked six slices of Lightlife Smart Bacon in the toaster oven and tossed them on top of the veggie pile. (I broke them up into smaller chunks before eating.) I finished my Big (Vegan) Salad off with some Wishbone Italian dressing to taste.

    (More below the fold…)