Best Vegan Sandwich in Ann Arbor?

26 Aug

Hello, dear readers!   It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  I’ve not been contributing to furthering the vegan message in my community much at all the last few years except for a few hours volunteering here and there…and of course asking for vegan food at every restaurant I go to!  After co-founding  Ann Arbor’s first Veg Week in April of 2013, I found myself taking somewhat of a hiatus from my vegan activism.  Although I continued to teach monthly vegan cooking classes at Whole Foods through December 2015, I chose to let go of the idea of making Ann Arbor Veg Week an annual event.  My heart just wasn’t in it and I’ve learned to listen to myself before I make commitments, especially ones that require a lot of energy and dedication.

I’ve been pondering for awhile now what my next project would be.  I’m  clear my passion lies in promoting the eating of more plants and less (no) animals.  I’ve asked myself what aspect of advocating a vegan lifestyle excited me and had an impact by inspiring others to become plant eaters, too!

So here’s what’s been interesting me for awhile now:  I have a strong desire to increase the amount and variety of vegan food options available in Ann Arbor (and Ypsilanti!), especially in non-vegan restaurants. I would like to be able to go to ANY restaurant and find a delicious vegan entree on the menu.  My goal is to inspire the many talented chefs in Ann Arbor to create something special for their venue, thereby making yummy vegan food available for everyone who patronizes their establishment.  Vegans get their needs met and non-vegans get to taste how fantastic plant-based dining can be. What’s more perfect than that?

By the way, you can help make more plant-based food available at any restaurant by always inquiring, in a pleasant way, if there are vegan options offered.  Be sincere in your appreciation of  what they do have and make requests for additional items.  You might be surprised at the positive response you get.

To promote the fantastic vegan food already available in our fine town, and to stimulate buzz for additional items,  I’m planning to post “best of” reviews for food categories at vegan and non-vegan restaurants in the area.  I’ll write about best pizza, best appetizer, best stir fry, best burger, best soup, best salad, best burrito and others.  I’m interested in hearing your ideas and recommendations in these categories and others you suggest, so please let me know your thoughts.

So, to start this off, tell me about your favorite vegan sandwich in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.  I personally have two current favorites of my own, namely the Tree Town Tempeh Reuben at The Lunch Room and the Falafel Sandwich from Jerusalem Garden.  Try the Falafel with Hummus and pickled turnips, our family’s favorite combo.  Have you had either of these?  What other local vegan sandwiches should be in contention in the “Best Of” competition?

 

 

Magnificent Minestrone

30 Jan

IMG_3989Jim and I met many years ago when I had just graduated from nursing school and he was a fourth year resident.  When we both started getting paychecks and had a few extra dollars, we used to go to Lelli’s Restaurant in downtown Detroit for special occasions.  Their minestrone soup was the best we’d ever had….chunky and creamy and so delicious! (The picture above was taken day 2 and when it was cold, so it looks more like a stew.  It tastes so much better than this picture looks.  Photography is still not my forte!)

When my sister-in-law made minestrone soup for a family occasion, it was equally delicious, so of course I asked for the recipe. Would you believe that the recipe was for the famous “Lelli’s Minestrone Soup”?  Thank you universe!

I’ve made this soup a number of times now and it has become a much loved regular in our home, (meaning at least 2 bowls each, and for my husband, maybe three……and that’s just the first night). It’s great because the needed ingredients are staples. I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed canned tomatoes and beans.  So no extra shopping necessary!

I’ve made some changes….the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter…I use just one teaspoon of olive oil and to be honest, you could get away with using none at all.  The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I subbed in the Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken broth base.  This is my favorite brand of broth.  It comes in vegetable and mushroom flavors also. The original recipe also called for parmesan cheese and skim milk.  I’ve completed eliminated the milk, as the soup gets creamy with the blending of the beans, potatoes and broth.  Instead of the dairy parmesan, I’ve sprinkled the top of my serving with Go Veggie dairy free parmesan. Leave it out and let people add it if they wish.

I’ve made this recipe with different amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes as well as varying amounts and types of herbs.  I think the combination I put together last night was the best so far!

Minestrone Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup broth

3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)

3 carrots, chopped

3 medium yukon potatoes, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil

4 cups No Chicken bouillon

1 14 ounce can cannelini beans, with juice

1 14 ounce garbanzo beans, with juice

3/4-1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 teaspoon basil (can use fresh, to taste)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1/3-1/2 cup small whole wheat macaroni-elbow, etc.

Saute onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in broth and oil until softened.  Add tomatoes, rest of broth, beans, herbs and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Blend some of the soup into creaminess using an immersion  blender.  Alternatively, take out 1/2 of the mixture and blend in a standing blender and return to the pot.  Add pasta and bring back to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender.  Flavors continue to improve as they meld together.

Vegan Tailgating

5 Aug

Hi all,

Next week’s Veg101 Class at Whole Foods Market Cranbrook is themed Vegan Tailgating.  My cooking partner Russ came up with this idea and unfortunately he’s off on vacation so won’t be there to share his favorite tailgating recipes.  Jeri Schneider and I will be at the stove to create delectable football fare.

I was wondering if anyone had any favorite omnivore tailgating foods they would like veganized? Or any requests for this particular class theme?

If so, please comment and let me know.  We’re working on some recipes now and I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and in case you didn’t know, the class is Tuesday, August 12th at 7pm.  The fee is $5.00 and you need to call and register.  If you can’t make this one, we offer Veg101 Vegan cooking classes every 2nd Tuesday.

Happy Cooking!

Dana

Kale Salad with Summer Sweet Corn and Sweet Miso Tahini Dressing

5 Sep

IMG_1695

I teach an all vegan Veg101 Cooking Demo once a month at Whole Foods in Ann Arbor as a volunteer for VegMichigan.  Our theme for next week is Summer Bounty.  I was searching for recipes with sweet corn to experiment with and to possibly prepare for my class.  I came across this delicious recipe at Happy. Healthy. Life.  The Sweet Miso Tahini dressing is delectable.  The only change I made to the recipe was to add three ears of sweet corn (so, so good!) instead of two.  This is definitely a keeper and one that I will add to my growing list of kale salads I love.

Ingredients:

3 ears of summer sweet corn

4-6 cups of kale, washed, thick stems removed and finely chopped (I used purple, curly)

1 small red bell pepper, diced

1 large carrot, shredded

1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup red cabbage, chopped

1/3 cup toasted hemp seeds (optional)

Sweet Miso Tahini Dressing

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1 1/2 tablespoons tahini

1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons tamari

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

pinch of black pepper

pinch of cayenne

1/4 teaspoon coriander

Directions:

Add a few inches of water to a large pot and bring to a boil.  Add corn on the cob and steam for 3-5 minutes.  Take corn from pot and set aside to cool.

In a large salad bowl, add dressing ingredients, including spices.  Whisk well to combine.

Wash kale, remove large stems and finely chop.  Dry kale in spinner and with paper towels.  Add to bowl with dressing.  Add other veggies to bowl and toss all with dressing very well.

Hold corn on the cob over the salad bowl and cut off kernels (a serrated bread knife works very well here).  Toss corn with rest of salad.  Add hemp seeds if using and toss again.

Enjoy!!!

Yummy Oil Free Gazpacho

4 Sep

IMG_1694

It’s the season for tomatoes galore and so I wanted to make something featuring this fine fruit.  I decided on gazpacho since I haven’t made it in years.   As I perused my cookbooks and the web for ideas, it was hard to find a recipe without oil.  I did finally find one in My Beef With Meat.  (I love this cookbook, by the way!)I made just a few modifications to suit my taste.

Ingredients:

6 medium, very ripe tomatoes, cut in chunks

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks

2 celery stalks chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 onion, chopped

3  garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 slices sourdough bread, crust removed, cut in cubes

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

6 shakes tabasco sauce (optional)

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped (to add to puree)

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (to add to puree)

1/4 cucumber, chopped (to add to puree)

Chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Place the tomato, cucumber, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, balsamic and red wine vinegars,  worcestershire sauce, sugar, tabasco (if want a little kick in your soup!) in a food processor or a high-speed  blender and puree until well blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the puree into a large non-metallic container and add the chopped tomatoes, cucumber and pepper and mix by hand.  Chill and serve with chopped parsley as garnish.

Powie! Pesto Pasta

4 Sep

IMG_1692

I have my garden in pots on my deck this year which is wonderful because I take better care of them when I see them all the time!  I have dino kale and curly kale, fennel, collards, swiss chard, parsley, basil, dill, oregano, three kinds of cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.  My basil plants were calling out to me “eat me, eat me, can’t you see I’m ready?”  Which only means one thing to me…..PESTO!  In previous years, I have always run out of basil before the growing season is over.  This year I made sure to plant plenty, which as it turns out is 8 plants.  I haven’t run out yet!  I’m leaving on a three week trip mid-month so I think I may need to make more pesto to freeze before I leave.  Can’t let delicious fresh basil go to waste!

I’ve been using this kind of brown-rice pasta lately and I’m loving it!  I added some lightly steamed broccoli on top and I had a gorgeous green meal.

Note to self:  Although you like to use the whole recipe on a pound of spaghetti, your sweet husband likes less pesto on his pasta  (more for me!).

This recipe is based on an oil-free vegan pesto you can find here.  I tweaked it ever so gently.

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil (go ahead and pack it in!)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 medium lemon

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/3 cup water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place all the ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Process until smooth and season with sea salt and pepper as desired.

Lentil Soup with Eggplant and Mushrooms

2 Sep

After our 14 hour mega-marathon drive home from upstate NY yesterday, I woke up with a scratchy throat.  I don’t know about you but my scratchy throat was crying out for some soothing soup. So after a trip to People’s Food Co-op and Trader Joe’s, I started chopping. I decided to use The China Study Cookbook‘s Lentil Soup as my base and then add more vegetables. I had been craving mushrooms and eggplant for a while and this really satisfied.  This soup has no oils, nuts, soy or gluten,  Just pure veggie/lentil goodness!

Lentil Soup with Eggplant and Mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup scallions, chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon

6 cups water and 2 tablespoons  vegetable Better Than Bouillon paste or 6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils (brown, green or black, not red)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 8 ounce package baby Bella mushrooms, sliced

1 medium eggplant, chopped into 1″ cubes

In a large soup pot, saute onion, celery, carrots and garlic in 1/2 cup water over medium-high heat until soft.  Add curry powder and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add 6 cups water and Better Than Bouillon, stirring to dissolve.  Add lentils, scallions, nutritional yeast, lemon, red pepper flakes, black pepper, eggplant and mushrooms.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

(The Better Than Bouillon is salty so taste first before you add extra salt)

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