Monday, January 31, 2011

Vegans Are Everywhere

Meeting another vegan is an indescribable joy. It is sort of like reconnecting with a long lost friend, that you have never met. Vegans seem to instantly have a bond that goes much further than the compassionate choices you make.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Recently I sat down over a delicious lunch at Quiet Storm in Pittsburgh to chat it up for my first Chubby Vegan Interview.

Meet Lauren, a definitely NOT chubby vegan extraordinaire. Lauren is a fitness instructor, full time staffer at a health technology company, proud cat mama, 3 time marathon runner, and all around cool chick.

We chatted about living vegan and here is what she had to say…

What made you decide to become a vegan?
I was a vegetarian for 18 years and it was just a natural extension to that. It just didn’t make sense to me to eat animals, it just ethically was not right. I prefer to think of animals as my friends; like my cat Dotty who is my best friend. Overall, I know this is cliché, the health benefits are really high too and I think you are always focused on what you eat.

Do you find your friends and family support your decision?
Some do and some don’t. Most of my family thinks I am crazy but my friends have always been supportive. My closest friend is also vegan. My family is pretty traditional, they can grasp that I won’t eat scrambled eggs, but not that I won’t eat a cake with eggs in it. It has been over 18 years since I have eaten meat and my grandmother asked me over Christmas how I wanted my steak cooked. So…

What are your vegan staples; your easy go to vegan foods?
Probably peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because I am so busy and don’t cook a lot. I also live off the hot bar at Whole Foods and vegan Amy’s Macaroni and Cheese.

What is the best vegan food you ever ate? Where was it?
Definitely VegiTerranean in Akron, OH… The carrot cake there was the best thing I ever ate!

Read more of Lauren’s interview, after the jump!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Did You Celebrate?

What’s a chubby Pittsburgh vegan to do on a national holiday like Vegan Pizza Day? I saw so many vegans out in the blog-o-sphere who made their own amazing vegan pizza using so many delicious ingredients.

I wanted to try something different though. There had to be a pizza joint in Pittsburgh producing high quality and delicious cruelty free pie… right?

I was in luck!

I found two places who cook up vegan pie, Pizza Sola and Pizza Fusion. I decided to give Pizza Sola a try since it is pretty close to my house.

I ordered, get ready for it, a half onion/pepper and half pineapple / banana pepper pizza. Yum, yum, gimme some!

It was mighty delish! Bravo Pizza Sola on catering to us chubby ‘Burgh vegans!  

Their vegan pizza was a cheese – less pizza so I decided to add a little Daiya mozzarella at home and throw it in the oven for a few seconds. Ideally, it would have come loaded with some delicious teese or daiya, but baby steps… baby steps.

I served it up with a chubby vegans dream, Frank’s Hot Sauce, homemade vegan ranch and some beer.


So I would give it a chubby thumbs up and recommend giving Pizza Sola a visit the next time you are looking for some vegan pizza. Plus, they are open late to top off a night of boozing and debauchery. Score!

More pictures and a vegan ranch recipe, after the jump!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vegan Pizza (Day)

Did you know that January 29th has been chosen as Vegan Pizza Day? Yes, a whole day to celebrate the delicious and amazing joy of vegan pizza!

There should be more days to commemorate the joy of vegan food. Maybe…

Tofu Day
Vegan Cupcake Day
Seitan Satur-day

There should be at least one a month! The possibilities are endless.

Vegan pizza is often misrepresented as a lifeless slice of bread and sauce. Boring! In reality, there are places all over the country serving amazing and cruelty free pies that rival any at your neighborhood pizza joint. Vegan pizza day is meant to celebrate the joys of vegan pizza and as a reminder that you can eat delicious pizza without adding on all of that “other stuff.”

So raise your hands and celebrate! Gimme a P, gimme an I, gimme a Z, another Z, top it off with an A. What does that spell? PIZZA!

For my chubby celebration, I have a recipe and pictures of vegan pita pizza after the jump.

How do you plan on celebrating vegan pizza day?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Is it Friday Yet?

I usually like Thursday… It means the weekend is almost here!

But don’t you ever just feel like you can’t possibly make it through the day. For me, it's usually at about 2:30 when you look at the clock and realize how many hours you have left at work.

I like my job but we all have those days. Don’t lie… Sometimes you just need a little boost to get through it.

Enter my guilty pleasure… vegan cupcakes!

I know, I know, cupcakes are so late 2000’s. But I don’t really care; I still love them.

So today I took a mid afternoon walk to one of my favorite Pittsburgh bakeries, Dozen Bake Shop, for a little afternoon guilty pleasure.

Vegan vanilla cupcakes, my love for you is real. AKA, the reason I am chubby.

What is your late afternoon guilty pleasure?

Head after the jump for more photos from my mid-day vegan cupcake emergency!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Caramelized Seitan

On my quest to rename bizarre sounding vegan food, I would like to set my sights on seitan.

Pronounced sort of like this Satan (on the left), but with an emphasis on the “a.” Miserable name for an awesome protein packed food.

Seitan is wheat gluten that can be made into many different mock meats (like Tofurkey) or just used on its own. It is also really common in vegan or vegetarian Asian restaurants and is most often used as “mock duck” or “mock chicken.”

I just like to think of it as delightful.

This recipe is from the holiday issue of Veg News Magazine and is for all of you folks that love SWEET and SAVORY.

It is like a dessert and dinner all rolled into one… Who doesn’t love that!

See some more photos and the recipe after the jump!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Better Than Sex Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yeah, you read that right… Someone actually told me these cookies were better than sex.

Well alright then, I guess that means they were good. Plus, that came from a non-vegan!

I am sort of a cookie fiend. If the Cookie Monster and Bert and Ernie had a baby, it would be me. (Don’t question, just go along with it) So to avoid being an chubby obese vegan, I need to monitor my cookie intake as much as I can. I try to only make these better than sex cookies on special occasions.

You know, birthdays, football games, weddings, days that end in a “Y.”

This recipe actually came from a ‘zine that my partners’ high school friend wrote. In it she compiles lots of great vegan recipes including this cookie recipe and a vegan Brunswick stew that has been on my to-do list for about a year.

These cookies are incredible on their own, but I like to up the ante and make them into frozen cookie sandwiches using the vanilla icing from the Babycakes NYC cookbook. Can I get an amen?

So these cookie sandwiches have now become my most requested party item. The cookies are a breeze to make but I will warn you the icing can have its difficulties. So proceed with love and caution.

(Vegan) Cookies for everyone! After the jump...

Monday, January 24, 2011

(Steelers) Black Bean Hummus

I eat so much hummus I should just start growing garbanzo beans in my backyard.

Maybe invest in a hummus factory?

All of the above?

It is a rare day when I don’t go to the grocery store and buy massive amounts of hummus. It is one of the few things I can buy in bulk and know, without any doubt, that I will always finish all of it. It is pretty much my number one, go to vegan staple.

So why have I never just made my own? I don’t think I realized it was so easy.

Yesterday was a Steelers Sunday and we were invited to a friend’s house for a “Steelers Party” complete with yellow and black…everything. In situations like this, one has to make something to go with the theme!

*racking brain & searching the internet*

A ha! Spicy black bean hummus! Serve it in a yellow bowl AND complete.

There are a million hummus recipes out there but since my party hosts love spicy food, I thought I would gladly oblige and make a hummus with a kick.

Really basic ingredients and some powerful spices really make this hummus pop. You can adjust the spices as necessary to make it more or less spicy but I found what is listed is pretty good for a nice (but spicy) flavor.

Head after the jump for the recipe and more pictures.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kitty Love

Why is it that people always say you are either a “dog person” or a “cat person?” Do people really have some type of allegiance to one type of companion animal?

"What are you looking at..."

I love cats, but I just don’t think the feeling is mutual. I have been around so many sweet cats that just want to love on me and give me all sorts of affection. But then, for some reason, it is like the evil kitty trait just pops out around me and they set their dial to harass and kill.

What gives cats?

Maybe they know my home is full of much loved rescue dogs (who hate cats) and they are secretly jealous that I can’t open my house for all of them to roam free and eat like Garfield. Cats always do have a (loving) secret motive.

Anyways, I still have love for cats. Yesterday I made a visit to see some adoptable cats and wanted to share their pictures with you. Although this Chubby Vegan has a no vacancy sign on his door for homeless animals, I STRONGLY encourage anyone to support their local shelter or rescue groups whenever possible. Please know this does not just mean adoption. Support can also mean volunteer time, financial support, and in kind gifts (blankets, food, toys, etc). Shelters are all doing tough work and we all need to do what we can to help.

My Marci preparing for the snow.
When you are ready to make the commitment to adopt  a companion animal, please visit your local shelters (kill & no-kill) and rescue groups to find a companion that is the best fit for you and your family. Always know that adopting a companion animal is a huge commitment and is one that should never be entered into lightly.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, four million cats and dogs—about one every eight seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year. So encourage all of your friends and family to always consider adoption first!

And if for some reason you don’t already preach to everyone you know about this, have your pets spayed and neutered. Please!

If you are interested in visiting any of the cats I have posted today, they are all from the Animal Rescue League of Pittsburgh and are housed at the Ross Park Petco on McKnight Rd. More pictures after the jump.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Give it up for Cauliflower

I am the least picky vegan on the planet. Really, I am… It is probably why I am chubby.

*womp womp*

There are just no vegetables that I don’t like. Okra, bring on the goo! Sugar snap peas, yes please! Shallots for my palate(s)! You get it.

There was a time that I remember eating cauliflower and thinking it was not very good. I ate it raw as a kid and thought it was weird. Of course this was one of the few times I tried a vegetable as a child that was not corn, peas, or green beans.

Well cauli-baby, times have changed!

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables. It is high in dietary fiber, low in fat, high in vitamin C and just all around delicious! You can eat it raw, pickled, steamed, or fried. You just can’t go wrong!

One of my absolute favorite ways to eat cauliflower is mashed with potatoes. This is a much healthier way to eat mashed potatoes, considerably cutting down the calorie content and pumping up the nutritional value.

Vegan goddess Isa Chandra Moskowitz calls them “caulipots” in her cookbook “Appetite for Reduction.”

I just call them scrumptious!   

See more after the jump…

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lentils are Misunderstood

Do you consider lentils a meat substitute?

I am torn on this… They are high in protein, and they can be made into some really great main dishes like mujadara (which is amazing) and lentil soup. I think they get a bad rap, like brussels sprouts or lima beans. Whoever decided that brussels sprouts and lima beans should be vilified?

Save the lentil! Brussels sprout rights! That would make a kick ass t-shirt that I am currently designing in my head. © Chubby Vegan Designs 

I made a lentil loaf (after the jump) that was quite delightful. It is NOT a meatloaf made of lentils. It is a lentil loaf.

Meatloaf = Gross

Lentil Loaf = Delicious

There is a very clear distinction between the two although the ingredients are similar. Well, minus the rotting cow carcass. 

For whatever reason when I mentioned lentil loaf to people they turned their nose up. I don’t get it. Lentils are super nutritious, low in fat, high in folate, and high in fiber. Some could even call them a super food…

So lets embrace the lentil. Own it, love it, and eat it. Lentils for all!

You can start by making this super delish, easy and cheap lentil loaf.

Get the recipe and some prep photos after the jump.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The More You Know

It sure is weird how things change for people. When I was growing up I really didn’t like dogs. I was actually horrified by them.

Nana contemplating why people are so mean...
Cut to me twenty years later being a proud dad to 4 wonderful dogs. Things change...

Everyone says, “I just don’t know how anyone could hurt a defenseless animal (like my dog or cat)” so I am not going to go there. Even though many of the people that say this have no problem tearing up a plate of chicken wings and beef tips at the Outback…but I digress.

Today the New York City Council passed two bills, one that bans the chaining of dogs for longer than three hours and another that nearly triples the licensing fees for unaltered animals.

Bravo New York! 

Chaining dogs is cruel and just downright wrong. Imagine what it would be like to be a dog, chained to a post with little to no space to move. No wonder so many chained dogs are aggressive. Wouldn’t you be?

This type of law is common sense, but so many states and municipalities have no laws protecting the rights of our companion animals against being chained for extended periods of time.

Here is your homework for the day…

Check out this website to find out more information on the heartless practice of chaining dogs. Find out if your state, city, or town has any laws protecting against this cruel practice and if not, learn how to do more to help.

Then once you firmly have your “I can’t wait to save all animals” hat on, find out how you can pledge to do everything you can to manage the pet population.

Pepper will thank you, once he wakes up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Vegan Paula Deen

I am obsessed with food shows. I absolutely love the food network. When I was in college my roommate and I would stay up way too late watching “Unwrapped” or “Paula’s Home Cooking.”

For years I was pretty much a Food Network addict. There should be treatment for people like me.

People always say that when you watch television shows about food it just creates this reaction that makes you want to eat, even when you are not hungry.

That would probably explain the hundreds of midnight trips to the Super Wal-Mart in college.

My addiction has waned slightly as I have gotten older. I still love it but I just don’t watch it as much as I once did. One of the things that frustrates me is that out of the hundreds of hours of programming on the Food Network and on other networks, there is absolutely no programming devoted to vegan (or even vegetarian) cuisine. I have seen a couple of shows here and there, but nothing that you think of as the Paula Deen or Rachel Ray of vegan cooking. Seems silly, right?

I humbly nominate myself to take this torch for the cruelty free community. So if any of you food network executives happen to be reading this, I will gladly meet with you. Send me an email, I have LOTS of ideas.

Picture it, Paula Deen and me smoking some tofu and baking a Vegan Chocolate Death Cake. Hey y’all…

*chubby vegan dreams*

Anyway, I am pleased to report that I saw this latest recipe on Good Morning America. So, thank you GMA for throwing in some vegan food in a segment devoted to chili. We appreciate it!

This is another Crockpot recipe that is really a cut, open, put in the pot and walk away type of thing. It is simple, cheap to make, and certainly warm you up on a cold January day.

I would like to point out that it’s good when it is right out of the pot, but I think it is even better the next day. I used the leftovers for a quesadilla, which I will post later.

Follow me after the jump for the recipe and some preparation photos.

And best (vegan) dishes, from my kitchen to yours….

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrating the King Family

Early photo of Martin Luther King Jr. & Coretta Scott King
So many people around the country today have the day off work today to celebrate the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. MLK is and always will be known as an extraordinary man. His life’s work is remembered each year on this day as an opportunity to commemorate his legacy of nonviolence, tolerance, and peace.

When I lived in Georgia I had the chance to visit his gravesite, right outside of downtown Atlanta. I have travelled to many of the most moving places around the country like the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, VA, and the battlegrounds of Gettysburg, PA. I think the grave site of Dr. Martin Luther ranks pretty high on my list of, “oh my god, am I really here” places.

The mausoleum rests just above a small water fountain right outside the entrance to the Ebenezer Baptist Church and on the same street as his childhood home. It is moving, to say the least.

Although, another experience I had while I lived in Georgia was equally moving. Upon the death of Coretta Scott King, her funeral was broadcast live on all of the Atlanta television stations. I watched as several US presidents and other dignitaries paid their respect to the women behind the legendary man. Their words were poignant, sometimes funny, but always endearing for a life that was hard to summarize in a short speech.

The King’s had a simple message. Peace, non-violence, and equality for all people.

It seems pretty simple, right?

I guess it still blows my mind how much anger, hate, death, and sadness there is in the world. Forty-three years after the death of Martin Luther King and five years after Coretta’s death, people are still fighting for civil rights. Makes you wonder if and when it will ever end? 

Since my blog is primarily about living vegan, I should probably say that the King’s message applies to the plight of all animals in the world too. Their lives are often filled with pain, hurt, and sadness. Too often, their lives are cut short and they are given little to no respect in the short life they have.

Non-violence and peace for all.

I just think it is implied.

I will leave you with this. Coretta Scott King lived as a vegan for the last ten years of her life. She knew that her actions spoke louder than words. Her message of love, non-violence and peace extended beyond just humans but to all beings that lived on the earth.

Five years after her death we can still learn from the King family and their message.

Choose peace. Choose love. Choose life. Go veg

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Vegan Grilled Cheese

I look forward to the weekend all week. Not that my job is so miserable that I countdown the clock everyday, but there is just something about knowing that I don’t have to work that makes me happy.

Sometimes I think my dogs know it’s the weekend too. They get up a little later, they find new and interesting places to sleep, and they get more treats. My dogs are pretty smart, so I am pretty sure they know what’s up.
Pondering Pepper

Since I was feeling super lazy today, I was feeling something easy and delicious for my chubby vegan lunch. Perhaps a comfort food that just makes you feel good inside.



I have a love hate relationship with vegan cheese, but when it comes to Daiya my feelings tend to sway towards love. I was mindlessly searching the Internet last week and saw another vegan blogger talk about making vegan grilled cheese with Daiya. It looked pretty rad and I really wanted to try it. I think she used the cheddar version and all I had was mozzarella, but a chubby vegan has to do what a chubby vegan has to do.

She also made hers with pickles and slices of tomato that, in my opinion, is the only real way to eat grilled cheese. Sadly, I didn’t have any tomato so I subbed with a little bit of ketchup. Don’t hate.

On a scale of 1 to the best thing I ever ate, I would give it a super delicious. That is pretty much a 7.

Click after the jump for a more detailed recipe, which this is so easy you really don’t need, and a couple more pictures. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Easy Vegan Friday

To beans or not to beans… that is the question.

I just love black beans. When I was a wee chub, not quite flourished into the chubby vegan I am today, I was a server at Chili’s. Yes, the fried steak, 2000 calorie fried onion, and totally non vegan friendly Chili’s. Gross 

Our default side on all quesadillas and fajitas was rice and black beans. When I first started I remember thinking that the black beans just looked like a pile of gross on the plate.

Until the day I first tried it.  *angels singing*

I was opened up to a world of delicious. My prior beans experience was only with Boston Baked Beans. Since I grew up in Boston, I guess this makes sense.

My love for black beans remains today and it is one of the easiest things to make. Canned, made fresh, in a soup, alone, or with a giant burrito; I will tear up some black beans wherever or whenever I can.

I found this amazingly easy Crockpot recipe on Fat Free Vegan, an awesome vegan website with thousands of great vegan recipes.  It’s so simple it hurts.

1 bag of black beans + 1 jar of salsa + water + Crockpot = DELICIOUS

Since it is a Crockpot recipe it does take a little bit of time but it is super worth it.

Check out the recipe and more pictures after the jump. Beans for all!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TVP means Textured Vegetable Protein

Again, as stated before, why do vegan foods have the most bizarre names ever? I think textured vegetable protein sounds ghastly. When you say it, it just conjures up images of knobby vegetables. Well, it does for me.

Instead of saying textured vegetable protein, we like to shorten it to TVP. Better, but not great. I think when most non-veg folks hear it, they get scared and run away. This is pretty much the same way I react when I walk into McDonalds or Outback Steakhouse.

However… fear not! There is a better name for it, Defatted Soy Flour Protein!
My Chubby Vegan Crown

Okay, maybe not.

Let’s just call it, “That Good Stuff that comes in the Box.”

YES! Success! *kneeling for my crown*

Fortunately, there is a line of easy to make vegan (and some non vegan) foods, featuring TVP,  that are prepackaged in a box. Many of them are made by Fantastic Foods or other similar brands and are an easy and cheap option. TVP is a by-product of soy made after making soybean oil. It is an excellent protein source, low fat, and SUPER EASY to work with. It comes in a box or a bag and needs to be re hydrated. So just think of it like vegan astronaut food. Using TVP pretty much makes you the vegan Buzz Aldrin. 

Most of my experience with TVP has been with boxed vegan chili… This is explaining the name, “that good stuff that comes in the box.” 

Recently I tried some vegan sloppy joe’s which feature TVP as a primary ingredient. The recipe on the box only requires you to add some oil, water, tomato paste and the bag of TVP (and spices) in the box. However, I spiced mine up with a little bit of brown sugar, chili powder, caramelized onions, and love.

Instead of putting it on a sandwich bun, I put my sloppy joe’s over some garlic mashed potatoes with a side of steamed asparagus.

Simple, easy, and cheap... A chubby vegan trifecta!

Check out more pictures and the full recipe after the jump.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sexy Dudes + Cute Animals = Cure for a Snowy Afternoon

Don’t you love the internet?

It just gives so many people the opportunity to talk about whatever the heck they want to talk about. It also allows people with a small, but interesting, idea the chance to produce and start marketing something that may or may not have ever worked 20 years ago.

Take for example this little gem I stumbled upon last week.

I just love people who can come up with creative stuff. Then, they can market it and raise money for important causes like the San Francisco SPCA and the Milo Foundation.

I am not sure if the founders of this company / blog are vegans or not, although I hope they are. Regardless, I think their idea is great and 100 percent worth sharing. Who doesn't love sexy dudes, cute animals, and a calendar. No matter what, you have to like at least one of the above, right?

It’s a cold and snowy day in Pittsburgh and for many people across the country. So take a minute to check out this site and (for many of you boys and girls out there) get your heart racing just a bit.

Just imagine yourself cuddling up next to either one of these dudes or baby animals and I think it should brighten your day.

Now, off to to my photo shoot for Chubby Vegans and Farm Animals... Who is in?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vegan is the New Awesome

Dancing Tofu in My Vegan Parade

According to a recent article by the Washington Post, vegan diets are becoming more popular and mainstream.

I think this deserves a parade…. Maybe with dancing tofu costumes and a float with Bob Harper throwing out samples of Sweet and Sara smores. Can you picture it? Magical!

It always warms my chubby vegan heart when I see the mainstream media talk about vegan diets and the benefit of living a cruelty free life. Each time someone reads an article about vegan diets and gives it just a little more thought, there might be one more person out there who realizes that going vegan is the best thing for your health, your life, your soul, and your future. I know this is a bit of a sweeping statement, but in my humble opinion I just believe that it is the best way to live.

When I talk about being vegan I like to sneak in “cruelty free” whenever I can. I think that it really is a better way of describing a vegan life. I just believe that people don’t know or understand the type of disgusting treatment that animals receive in factory farms. It goes so much farther than them being massacred for their flesh; but the pain, sickness, and torture they receive for their by-products (eggs, milk, etc) can be even worse.

The evidence is out there. There are hundreds of activist groups like Mercy for Animals and PETA working hard uncovering what goes on at factory farms.

It’s sad. It’s terrible. I get upset whenever I think about it.

However, I will try to keep this blog as positive as possible so I will leave it at that. If you want to know more (and you should), visit their website and watch their videos. If you find yourself turning away in horror then go to your refrigerator and look at your chicken breast, your bacon, or frozen hamburger and remind yourself of the horror that an animal had to endure for your meal.

In with hate… out with love.  Go veg… save a life!

Love, your neighborhood Chubby Vegan

Macaroni and NOT Cheese

What is it about Macaroni & Cheese? I don’t think I have ever met someone that doesn’t like it. Take pasta, add some butter, and melt cheese all over it. Some people make mac and cheese from a box, some bake it, and others college students just make it in the microwave. Whatever way you like it; people lose their flipping mind over some good macaroni and cheese. I will admit that it is one of those one of those non-vegan foods foods that I do miss.

For vegans, I think Macaroni and Cheese is what I would call a Holy Grail food. It is something we are constantly trying to veganize and get as close to the original as we can. I have tried several times and some have been pretty good while others have been an abysmal failure.
Generally the cheese is replaced by Nutritional Yeast, which is a mixture of yeast, sugar, and beet molasses. Nutritional yeast is actually one of my favorite vegan ingredients but it has the worst name ever and I think just instantly turns people off. I want to change the name to something better like “Cheesy Awesomeness Flakes” or “You Can’t Believe It’s Not Cheese (Flakes).” 

Cheesy Awesomeness Flakes
Other vegan "macaroni & cheese" versions will include a soy based cheese (ie: Daiya, Teese) or a cashew cheese (usually made by soaking and blending cashews with a mixture of spices and water or a dairy free milk.)

I think the issue with many different vegan foods is that we like to call it the same thing as the non-vegan version. Sometimes the vegan version is better, but sometimes when it is just okay people (read: non vegans) will say, it’s good but it’s just not the same as the original.

Here is my chubby vegan quest.

Let’s start calling veganized versions by our own names. Instead of Macaroni & Cheese, we should think of a new name, maybe “Pasta Creaminess,” “Cheesy Cashew Macaroni," or just make something up that sounds Italian like "Pasta Benecoola." Let’s take ownership of our awesome vegan recipes and keep people from trying to compare it to the original.

Who is with me?! *commence sign making and chanting*

Here is my latest attempt at “macaroni and NOT cheese” from the Engine 2 Diet Cookbook. The Engine 2 Diet is a vegan based, natural diet book from a hunky firefighter in Texas. Interesting book and definitely on my chubby vegan wish list.

This recipe is called “Macaroni & Not Cheese,” but due to my new quest I will call it “Macaroni with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Sauce.” On a scale of one to amazing, I would give it a "pretty good." It is a favorite recipe of Bob Harper, trainer on The Biggest Loser, rock star vegan, and all around super hunk. The recipe is after the jump.

What do you think? Give it is a shot and tell me what you think it should be called…

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chubby Vegan Goes Camping

Well sort of...

I have never been a camper. My idea of camping is a ropes course and a student leader-training program. (I won't say my idea of camping is the Holiday Inn, because that is super cliché and I happen to be a huge fan of Holiday Inn Express.) That has pretty much been all of my experience with the outdoors. I stayed at a cabin in NW Pennsylvania once and left with a nasty case of poison ivy in places no one should have poison ivy. All in all, camping and me have never usually been friends.

When I was a kid, we never went on a family camping vacation. I thought families that did that were really strange. My family vacations were usually to Cape Cod, not the beach though, to the mall. My parents liked the Chinese restaurant in the mall food court... If only I was kidding.

When I moved to Pittsburgh I heard people talk about this strange weekend phenomenon called going "up camp." I have lived in different places all over the east coast and never heard this expression before. Basically, hundreds of Pittsburgh folk have some type of RV, mobile home, yurt, or camper in the countryside of Western Pennsylvania that they travel to on the weekend. Most of the campsites are on large lots of land that they share with other "campers." People go, usually just on the spring / summer weekends, and share lots of food, fellowship, and most importantly... beer. 

I have only gone "Pittsburgh camping" once. Our friends Corey & Laura have a Pittsburgh camp around Grove City, PA that they are pretty much in love with. I think if they could live there year round, they would. I love hearing them talk about it because they get so excited. I had fun on my one and only Pittsburgh camping experience with them and haven't had the chance to go again.

Our camping leaders
That may change.

This weekend I went to the Pittsburgh RV show. It is pretty much RV and mobile home utopia. It is a subculture I never knew existed. If I could live out my chubby vegan life in some of the mobile homes I saw I think I would be a happy guy. 

These things are amazing. The RV show displays the homes that are pulled and hitch up to a site and the RV's that are driven on their own. Some of them have multiple bathrooms, full kitchens, living rooms, upstairs, couches, recliners, and the list goes on and on. It seemed like each one got more amazing. 

RV enthusiasts have their own lingo about their campsites, how long their trailers are, year round or not, and every other thing you can imagine. I pretty much just ran around climbing in and out of RVs like each one was going to have a pot of gold inside. 
There is something about being a vegan for me that makes me feel somehow more connected to nature. I am a city guy through and through, but not using animals for my personal benefit makes me feel like I am more in tune with the natural world. It's one of those benefits of a plant-based diet that I think people don't really know or maybe never realize.

My New Home
Maybe it's because the beautiful deer in the woods is just a beautiful life and not my next dinner. The wild turkeys that roam the forest of Pennsylvania are just beautiful creatures and not the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving. The land that surrounds us is precious and not just empty space waiting to be paved into a parking lot.

So I have never been a camper but I think I could be convinced. It would be great to have a place to go and just enjoy nature and enjoy the world. Turn off my phone, shut off my TV, cook lots of awesome food and just be. Who wants to join?

As for now, I will enjoy the roasted pecans from the Cinnamon Roasted Almond Co. at the RV show. After being assaulted to try a sample, I asked if they had butter on them since I thought that was a sure thing. Much to my surprise, with no prompting, the guy told me they were vegan. Well thanks guy! I believed him even with all of my vegan guilt issues... 
Cinnamon Roasted Pecans... nom nom nom

So I will enjoy some awesome roasted nuts and you can check out some more pictures from the RV show after the jump.

Until next time America....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Easy Vegan

One of the reasons I started this blog is because the question I probably get the most often is, "what do you eat?" I think when people hear "vegan" they imagine a group of unshaved hippies eating grass and drinking water from a river. 
Dream life... 

*in my dreams*

But truth be told, vegans eat so many different awesome things. As one of my vegan friends says, "would there really be a giant group of people eating bad food?"


Vegan food is amazing. Taking out animal products does not make bad food. Taking out animal products can lead to so many more creative and innovative ways to make things. Whenever I go to a decent  restaurant and I tell the wait staff that I am vegan I sometimes get the most creative meals. I think chefs like a challenge. Wouldn't you get bored after making chicken parmesan 35 times a day? I would. Granted, this won't happen at your neighborhood big chain restaurant, but at many other places I have had some pretty decent stuff.

If this doesn't happen, there is something I like to call, "easy vegan." It is all those foods that you can make at home or have at many restaurants with only a few moderations. Let's be honest, do you know anyone that is busting out new fun vegan recipes every night? If you do, introduce me because I want them to invite me over for dinner.

My easy vegan meal today is whole wheat pasta and red sauce. 

One box + one jar + a few vegetables = easy vegan dinner

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bok Choy... What???

Bok Choy 101
According to this chubby vegan....

Picture it.... Pittsburgh, 2011. I make this great recipe using some delicious baked tofu and bok choy- one of my new favorite vegetables. I take all sorts of awesome pictures and BOOM my camera deletes all of them.

*chubby vegan = sad vegan*

Alas, I had leftovers and I was able to snap at least one picture. This picture is not nearly as cool as all my great and super artsy preparation photos, but sometimes technology decides it does not want to be my friend.

So bok choy is a member of the cabbage or turnip family. Some people will call it "Chinese cabbage" and it is widely available in the regular big variety (as pictured above) or a baby bok choy, which is (obviously) much smaller.

After cooking with bok choy a few times now, here are my bok choy lessons...
  • It can be a little pricey...
    • I paid $7.50 for one hearty stock of bok choy at the regular grocery store. Although it's well worth it, its probably not the best idea to cook with all the time if you are a chubby vegan on a budget.
  • The top (green leaves) and the bottom (white stalk) don't cook at the same rate... 
    • I didn't know that. Clearly I am not a real chef, I just play one in my dreams. So I will chalk this up to my cooking lesson of the day. So you cut it in half and cook them separately... The white part takes longer.
  • I think I like baby bok choy better....
    • I doubt in the real world this really matters. It is kind of like when I ate M&M's and I would save all the yellow, red, and orange ones to the end because they were my favorite. They don't taste any different. Why do i care? But they look different, so I just do it because I feel like I should. So baby bok choy is smaller, it must be different... Right? Right....
  • Baked tofu steals my heart...
    • Tofu can be tough for people. It is one of the questions I probably get the most... "So is all you eat tofu?" No, silly cat! But thanks, Martin Yan, for introducing me to tofu at an early age on PBS. Anyway, baked tofu is essentially pre-pressed tofu. Sometimes it is infused with a spice or something. I usually buy it at the Asian food market. It is pretty much the easiest tofu to use and I L-O-V-E it. 

Like most stir fry recipes, I pretty much eye balled the vegetable measurements. Ehh... Do I really need to use exactly 6 ounces of mushroom? Will the world end if I use 2 carrots instead of one? Nahh!

So try it! The recipe I used is from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (a rock star and VegNews award winning blog)... You can find it after the jump. (click read more below). Tell me what you think...!

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