Cheese please!

Or should I say "cheeze pleaze"?  Spell it however you want, what I'm talking about here is vegan cheese alternatives.  There's not a huge variety of flavors that can be bought at the store, mostly mozzarella style or cheddar style.  Here's my take on the most popular and readily available brands:

Daiya cheese, mozzarella or cheddar, comes shredded in 8-oz. baggies.  A nice thing about their cheese is that it contains no soy or gluten products.  It melts easily and is amazingly yummy on pizza, pasta bakes, nachos, veggie burgers, etc.  It's not very good cold.  This is the most expensive brand at about $5 a bag.

Follow Your Heart, the awe-inspiring creators of Vegenaise (vegan mayo, so much better than the animal-product-laden version), also make mozzarella, cheddar, Monterrey jack, and nacho cheeses.  These are gluten free but do contain soy.  They come in 10 oz. blocks and range from $3 to $4.  I like this cheese both cold and melted.  It doesn't melt quite as easily as Daiya, so be sure to put the oven on broil if you are using it on pizza.

Honestly, these are the only two brands I recommend.  Our local Hy-Vee also carries Vegan Rella which is mainly made of tapioca starch and rice flour.  It does NOT taste good cold and becomes liquid mush when heated.  Don't do it.

What's your favorite vegan cheese?

Next week: making your own vegan cheese


Creamy Steamy Latte

I got this idea from a healthy living website and I just have to share it with you.  I am a coffee-lover first and a vegan second, just fyi.  Having lived in Italy, I have since found it near impossible to live without my daily espresso.  But soy lattes just aren't the same as their dairy counterparts.  Soy milk steams well enough, but the taste just isn't as creamy and decadent as dairy milk.  Here's our solution!  COCONUT MILK!!  I'm talking about real, thick and creamy coconut milk in a can, not the "coconut milk drink" you can buy in a tetrapak or half gallon jug.  You will want to use the canned variety to achieve creamy and deliciousness.  I use the light coconut milk (from Trader Joe's, only 99 cents a can) to cut back on the saturated fat content since I drink this so often.  However, if you are having this only as a treat, you may want to indulge in the full fat coconut milk.  Sure to please vegans and nonvegans alike!

Coconut Latte
  1. Espresso shots - however you make it and however many you want, this is up to you
  2. Sweeten - this is optional and varies by taste, but I put about 1 teaspoon of agave nectar in my mug before adding the espresso
  3. Milk - steam together 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/3 cup coconut milk or if you don't have a milk steamer, bring them to a boil on the stove or microwave them in a glass dish for 1-2 minutes, froth if desired then top it on your espresso
  4. Enjoy your delicious vegan latte.  Share with friends.


    Exciting News!!

    taken from www.traderjoes.com

    The Kansas City Star announced recently that Trader Joe's is finally coming to KC!  I know that's not exactly Kirksville, but hey, it is about 30 minutes closer than StL.  On second thought, it's about the same distance, because TJ's is opening on Ward Parkway, which is in South KC.  Oh well.  Also, for any of you who may be originally from the KC area, such as myself, it will give us a good reason to go back. 

    Here's a map showing the most direct route from Kirksville to Whole Foods and then Trader Joe's in KC:

    View Larger Map

    More information about the opening date to come soon!  Aren't you guys so excited??

    Wait.  I feel like I should divulge that the closest TJ's to Kirksville is actually in West Des Moines, IA.  It's a 3 hour 10 minute drive.  But there is no Whole Foods there!  Why go?  lol


    Vegan 'Fast Food'

    In today's fast-paced world, sometimes (or a lot of times) we need a meal ASAP!  Oftentimes we find ourselves in this situation and it seems like we have nothing on hand to whip up something quick.  And don't forget, we're trying to be healthy!  I've been dealing with this for the last few weeks of classes/finals.  Here's some ideas and tips of what to do when you're caught in this food vs. time bind.

    Local (Kirksville) places to grab a vegan meal/snack:
    • Washington Street Java Co. offers vegan bagels w/ hummus, fresh veggies, some vegan soup options, and COFFEE
    • Steve's Garden Deli has a yummy veggie panino!  Be sure to get it without mayo.
    • Ruby Tuesday's salad bar is delicious with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.  Also, their veggie burger minis are vegan, HOWEVER you must ask for it with no cheese or butter on the bun.
    • Burger King- has a veggie burger, don't forget no cheese/mayo/etc.
    • La Fuente- I'm personally not a fan, but rumor has it that they don't put lard in their refried beans.  Order veggie options without cheese and sour cream.  Ditto for Taco Bell if you're really broke and strapped for time.  lol
    • Pizza Hut/Papa John's/Dominos/etc.- I believe they do not put dairy or eggs in their crust, so you could get a veggie pizza without cheese.  You might wanna check to make sure about the crust, but I've heard that this is actually tasty.
    Foods to have on hand at home for quick eatin':
    • Lara Bars: burst of energy from dates/nuts, also view my post about making homemade larabars
    • Bagels w/ hummus or vegan cream cheese or nut butters/jam
    • Amy's frozen veggie burgers
    • Amy's canned soup- I highly recommend the Lentil, Spanish Black Bean, and No Chicken Noodle
    • Canned beans & premade rice to put in wraps
    • Noodles- asian, Italian
    • Sauce for noodles- tomato, pesto, or asian sauces (you could just whip something up while the noodles are cooking)
    • Salad- I like to buy an organic herb salad mix and add a head of romaine, and toppings like dried cranberries, black olives, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), carrot, cucumber, scallions...
    • Make a bean chili in your crockpot and eat it all week.  lol
    What 'fast foods' do you turn to?


    Quick P-i-z-z-a

    Who doesn't love pizza?  Just because we're vegan doesn't mean we don't crave a good hearty pizza on a weekly basis.  haha  Here's my tips for awesome vegan pizza with endless variety to keep you satisfied week after week (or day after day, depending on how serious your pizza addiction is).

    Quick & Easy Pizza Crust
    makes one 12 to 14 in crust
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (equivalent to one packet)
    • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 heaping cups all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour or mixture
    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Dissolve sugar and yeast in the water.  Mix in oil and salt. 
    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine liquid mixture with the flour, a bit at a time.
    4. Knead the dough 5-10 times.
    5. Let dough sit for 10-20 minutes.
    6. Roll dough onto pizza stone or baking sheet.  Prebake for about 8 minutes.
    7. Take dough out of oven.  Add desired sauce and toppings.
    8. Bake for 10-15 more minutes, depending on desired doneness.
    9. Take out of the oven, let cool off, enjoy!!
    Sauce Ideas
    • canned pizza sauce
    • homemade pesto sauce (see archives for my recipe)
    • jar of "bruschetta" spread (usually various marinated veggies and tomato sauce)

    Yummy Pizza Toppings
    • tempeh, any variety, be sure to steam first and then brown in a bit of oil
    • tofu, firm variety, crumble up with hands and add things like fresh basil, a bit of salt, some nutritional yeast, etc.
    • canned olives
    • onion
    • tomato
    • broccoli...  ok, any veggie you want
    • fresh herbs
    • vegan cheese- I recommend either Daiya or Follow Your Heart mozzarella flavors
    What is your favorite homemade pizza?

    If you're in a time crunch, Amy's Roasted Veggie No Cheese frozen pizza is delicious.  It is available at HyVee.  You can add toppings or cheese to it if you like.  We ate it as is and it was yummy, although a bit on the light side.

    Side note:  If any of you ever make it out to St. Louis, Pi Pizzeria has delicious vegan pizza!!!!!!