Recipe Review: Cuban black bean soup from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

Recipe Name: Cuban Black Bean Soup FreshVeganSlowCooker_Cover
Source of Recipe: Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker
Recipe Creator: Robin Robertson

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 5/5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4/5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5/5
Opinion of Results: 5/5

Overall Score: 19/20

I got this book for Christmas, and this is the first time I’ve gotten around to using it. My mother and I are on the last day of our cleanse (we’re stopping a day early to fully appreciate the Vegan Bake Sale in Atlanta tomorrow), and we’re both really sick of all those blended soups. We made this one last weekend because it sounded more appetizing than the other soups we’d been eating.

This is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. We ate most of it in one day, and we’re making it again tonight – we enjoyed it that much.

We did make a few changes:
• We hate cilantro and can’t have tomatoes on the cleanse, so we left off those two garnish items.
• We replaced the 4 cups of vegetable broth with 4 cups of water and one vegan bouillon cube.
• We didn’t have any liquid smoke, so we ignored that.
• We didn’t want to wait 6 hours for the crock pot version, so we just put it in a pot on the stove and let it simmer, uncovered, for an hour.

This soup was delicious, even with all of these changes. I can only imagine that it would be even better if you prepared it the way it was supposed to be. If I could have them, I would probably add tortilla chips and/or vegan sour cream, although it really is just fine how it is.

This soup also could not be easier to make. Chop up the vegetables. Rinse the beans. Add them all to the pot and let them cook. The only ingredients that were slightly expensive are the liquid smoke and avocados, neither of which is necessary if you can’t find them for a decent price.

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15th time’s the charm?

According to one of the documentaries I watched today, it can take up to 15 tries before we like a new food. While I’ve certainly never counted how many times I tried a new food, I know that there are some foods that I never thought I’d like that I kept forcing myself to eat and eventually grew to like. This is mostly true for vegetables. I didn’t like carrots or tomatoes or cucumbers as a child (or as a teenager or an undergrad). And yet over the past few months as I decided to become vegan, I’ve found myself eating more and more of those foods. I made a curry recipe with carrots, and I actually enjoyed it. At first I thought it was because the curry flavor masked the carrot flavor, but the more I started using carrots in recipes, the more I realized that I actually enjoyed them. I started adding more carrots to the soups that I was making, something that I never would have done before. In fact, usually I decrease the amount of carrots in recipes.

It was definitely exciting to learn that some of the healthy foods I disliked before were now something that I enjoyed eating, but it’s not just old foods that have grown on me. My mother discovered a whole bucket of millet in our pantry last week, and she asked me if I had any recipes that called for it, as she didn’t want to throw it out but didn’t really remember why she had it. So I looked it up and came across this recipe: Tomato, Basil, and Millet Salad. I ended up using cannellini beans instead of black-eyed peas because I like them better and because we didn’t have black-eyed peas, but otherwise I kept the recipe as it was.

The first step is to toast the millet until fragrant. I was definitely expecting a smell, but I wasn’t prepared for the smell that I experienced: a kennel. I thought it would get better after I added the broth, but it didn’t. If anything, the smell just got stronger. It really smelled like the pound did when we went to find a dog. It was bad. I wasn’t looking forward to eating it, but I already had all the ingredients, and I wanted to wait and see if it got better, so I carried on.

When the salad was mixed together, I tasted it. It was gross. It tasted just like it smelled. I was so disappointed. My boyfriend tried it, and he didn’t like it. I moped around for a bit, sad that all that time and money had gone into making a recipe that sucked. Just for good measure, I tried it again. It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was the first time, but I definitely didn’t like it. I stood next to the stove, talking to my sister (who is 21 and was just learning how to boil water), and I ended up trying it again because it was there and I was starving. It wasn’t as bad, but it still wasn’t something I was happy with. My sister tried it, made a face, and put the fork down.

I’m not really sure how it happened. I guess part of why my family’s fat is because we eat food that’s in front of us, even if we don’t really like it. Normally I’d say that was a bad thing, but it actually sort of worked out in this case, as the more we picked at it, the more we started to like it. My parents tried it, and they liked it. My sister eventually decided that it wasn’t bad, which is actually a pretty good compliment since she generally hates all of my “weird vegan food,” especially if it involves vegetables of any sort. I actually ended up taking some with me when I went to hang out with a non-vegan friend so that I would have something to eat on the way and wouldn’t be tempted by her fatty non-vegan food. Then I had the leftovers today. Every time I ate it, I just liked it more.

This is definitely a recipe that I would make again. It was simple to make, and once the flavor grew on me, I actually enjoyed it a lot. And it’s good to know that just because I disliked a food the first few times I tried it doesn’t meant that I’ll never like it. 🙂

Recipe Review: Chili and Peanut Butter Cookies from The Vegan Zombie

Okay, so I haven’t had a bunch of new recipes to share recently. I spent the weekend at my boyfriend’s house, watching their dogs while they went up to visit a sick family member, and I didn’t really try out any new recipes. I did, however, find a new series of videos to watch – The Zombie Vegan. It’s a vegan cooking show, and it’s really funny, and the recipes sounded pretty good. Yesterday, I decided to try two of the recipes, and I will review them now.

Recipe Name: Chili
Source of Recipe:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYYpt-Sf44U
Recipe Creator: The Vegan Zombie

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 5/5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 5/5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5/5
Opinion of Results: 3/5

Overall Score: 18/20

This recipe was extremely easy to make. Chop up an onion, cook it for a few minutes, and then add all the other ingredients and let cook for twenty minutes. Really, really easy. The cashews were a rather weird element, and I won’t be adding them next time, but other than that it was pretty good. My omni boyfriend absolutely loved this chili. I think I just don’t like sweet chili as much as savory chili, so the 3/5 rating doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not that good. I definitely enjoyed it, but it’s not my favorite chili recipe. However, if you’re a fan of sweet chili, I would definitely give this one a try.

And now for the other recipe…

Recipe Name: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source of Recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iD8EYTMe4g
Recipe Creator: The Vegan Zombie

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4
Ease of Following Recipe: 5
Opinion of Results: 4

Overall Score: 18/20

These cookies were also extremely easy to make. Mix everything together, roll balls of dough, roll the dough in sugar, and then place on baking sheet and cook. I forgot to smoosh them with a fork after I took them out of the oven, though. I wouldn’t have thought that would make a huge difference, but it did. The balls were still tasty, but the ones that I remembered to smoosh were better. These aren’t the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever made, but they were really good, and I will definitely make these again. The only pricy ingredients were the vegan chocolate chips and vegan butter/margarine. Everything else was stuff most people probably already have on hand, and vegan cooks probably have the vegan chocolate and butter already, too.

Recipe Review: Coffee Cake and Pizza Hummus from Chocolate Covered Katie

I made two recipes tonight, and I decided to review them both at once since they came from the same website. It’s funny – I actually stumbled across this site back before I was trying to go vegan. I was on Weight Watchers, and one of Katie’s recipes was featured on another blog that I follow (Skinny Taste ). I checked out her site, and the recipes looked interesting, so I saved them. It wasn’t until this past summer, when I was looking for vegan recipes, that I realized her whole site was vegan. It’s funny what you don’t notice when you’re not looking for it. I have a feeling I’m going to be trying more of her recipes soon. If you’re looking for healthy desserts, definitely check out Chocolate Covered Katie.

Recipe Name: One Minute Coffee Cake in a Mug
Source of Recipe/Recipe Creator: Chocolate Covered Katie

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 5/5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4/5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5/5
Opinion of Results: 4 /5

Overall Score: 18/20

This recipe was absolutely delicious! The only sort of pricy element to the dish was the vegan margarine, and really you could have replaced it with oil or applesauce, so that’s not even really a huge factor. The recipe was really easy to follow, and it only required a minute of cooking in the microwave. I mean, really, it doesn’t get much simpler than this. The only downside to it was that it required dirtying two different dishes and didn’t produce very much cake. Definitely delicious, though. I won’t be making it every night, but I will definitely be making it again!

Recipe Name: Melty Pizza Hummus
Source of Recipe/Recipe Creator: Chocolate Covered Katie

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 4
Cheapness of Ingredients: 5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5
Opinion of Results: 5

Overall Score: 19/20

I had my doubts that this would actually taste like pizza, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was great! You just dump all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Really easy to make. Nutritional yeast is the only ingredient that would be hard for someone to find. Everything else you can get at the grocery store for very little money. This hummus and pita chips makes one yummy snack. I think I know what I’ll be bringing to eat once work starts up again!

Recipe Review: French Lentils with Rice and Vegetables from Better Homes and Gardens

Recipe Name: French Lentils with Rice and Vegetables  pink book
Source of Recipe: New Cook Book
Recipe Creator: Better Homes and Gardens

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 5/5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4/5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5/5
Opinion of Results: 5/5

Overall Score: 19/20

This was the first cookbook that my mother bought me. I haven’t really looked at it since I decided to give up meat, and now I’m going to have to give it another look through. My mother made this recipe, and it was delicious. Rice and lentils and a bunch of chopped up vegetables, mixed together and tossed with a Dijon mustard dressing. I don’t normally like vegetables, but this was quite good. Three quarters of a cup is about 215 calories. This would make a great side dish. It says it’s supposed to be a main course serving, but I sort of doubt that. Two servings kept me full for a while, but one serving did not. Still, it was easy to make and really good. I would definitely make this again.

Recipe Review: “Beef” and Broccoli Bowls from “Vegan Food Substitutions”

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Recipe Name: “Beef” and Broccoli Bowls
Source of Recipe: The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions
Recipe Creator: Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

An important note: The seitan that I used for this recipe came from Robin Robertson’s “Vegan on the Cheap,” which I reviewed here. I judged this recipe separately from that one, so the ease of finding the ingredients and the cheapness of ingredients do not include the seitan, which makes up the “beef” part of this recipe.

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 4
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4
Ease of Following Recipe: 4
Opinion Results: 5

Overall Score: 17/20

This was my first recipe using seitan, and I absolutely loved it! One large serving is about 615 calories, and it is extremely filling. The sauce was extremely easy to make. You just dump all the ingredients together in a saucepan and whisk until it’s hot and thick. Then you mix it with the seitan and pour over rice and broccoli. Definitely delicious! And most of the ingredients can be found right at the grocery store (including store-bought seitan, though it’s pricy at the store).

Substitutions:
I used agave nectar instead of brown rice syrup. I actually saw brown rice syrup at the farmer’s market right next to the agave nectar, but it was more expensive, and I didn’t think it would make a difference. I’m not sure if the sauce would have been more delicious with the brown rice syrup instead, but I can definitely say that I thought it was delicious as it was, so I’m not sorry I made the substitution. You could probably also use cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder, but don’t hold me to that. I just know that both of those ingredients are used to thicken things, so I would think it wouldn’t make a difference. For what it’s worth, I’m very new to vegan baking, so I wouldn’t really take my word on it. 🙂

I absolutely loved this, and I don’t like tofu or tempeh. So if you’re thinking of trying something vegan but don’t like soy, this would be a good recipe to try. My mother usually hates the vegan stuff that I make, and she really enjoyed this. My sister is much more skeptical of my cooking, and she hated it. She also only tried one piece and had already convinced herself that it was going to be horrible, though, so I’m not sure how much credit I would give her opinion.

I highly recommend this recipe.

Recipe Review: Baked Seitan from “Vegan on the Cheap”

One of the features of this site is going to be a review of the new recipes that I’m trying on my quest to become a vegan. It’s nice to see a bunch of recipes and try them out yourself, but it’s also nice to be able to see what other people thought of them, and see what problems they had. Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to know that you weren’t the only one who thought a recipe was difficult, or you might want to know how easy it was for someone else to cook something before you try it yourself. So that is what I will be doing with the Recipe Reviews on this site. I will not be sharing the recipes, as those belong to the authors, but I will share the name of the recipe, the source of the recipe, and any substitutions I made. And now, for my first review:

Recipe Name: Baked Seitan on the cheap Source of Recipe: Vegan on the Cheap
Recipe Creator: Robin Robertson

Ease of Finding Ingredients: 3/5
Cheapness of Ingredients: 4/5
Ease of Following Recipe: 5/5
Opinion Results: 5/5

Overall Score: 17/20

I was really pleased with this recipe. I’ve tried tempeh and tofu multiple times, but I’ve never really found a way to enjoy either of those. While it’s of course possible to be a vegan without liking any of these substitutes for meat, it seemed like life would be more enjoyable if I found at least one of the big three that I enjoyed.

And that is why I’m so glad that I found this recipe. I’ve had this book for a while now, but I hadn’t gotten around to trying this recipe yet. It was incredibly easy to make. Just blended up the wet ingredients, mixed up the dry ingredients, and then kneaded the wet and dry ingredients together. Super easy to make, and I ended up with a nice large loaf that was actually quite tasty. The nutritional yeast required a special trip to the farmer’s market, but it ended up working out well, because while I was there I managed to find a giant tub of vital wheat gluten for a fraction of what it cost at the grocery store.

I am very happy with my first seitan loaf. I will definitely be making this again!