Friday, April 29, 2011

A Weekend Excursion

To celebrate the Royal Wedding and my upcoming birthday, I am headed off to Canada for the weekend to explore some wineries, Niagara Falls, and delicious vegan food.

I am excited to see what our neighbors to the North have to offer! You know, other than the torturous and completely unnecessary slaughter of seals

Really Canada? Really...? So unbelievably disturbing.

I wanted to post a video of seals being cute as my "unspoken" protest. There are a few on the interwebs, but most have language tacked on them that I can't read. Instead of posting them and finding out they say something offensive, I will instead share a completely unrelated video that someone sent me yesterday.

Why? Because when there are torturous and cruel people in this world, we all need a little humor in our lives.

Perhaps this place should be my next career move...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Blueberry Pancakes

Do you know who makes the best pancakes?

Is it your mom? Perhaps a restaurant in your hometown? Maybe you are so confident in your own pancake ability that you don’t even question it….

There was a little restaurant in the town over from where I grew up that made pancakes that were about as big as my head. We would go every once in a while after church and wait for hours just for some of those serious pancakes. They were the best.

When I first tried making my own I could never quite get the flip down. It takes some skill and patience, both of which I did (and do) not have.  

I never gave up though. Today I would like to consider myself a bit of a pancake connoisseur.

Sadly, you can’t get good vegan pancakes at any of the breakfast joints in my world. What is a chubby vegan to do? Make your own!

Feast your eyes on these blueberry wonders with an absolutely perfect recipe from the Betty Crocker loving Meet the Shannons. Theirs were chocolate chip / banana, which may be one of the best flavor combinations this side of chocolate and peanut butter. I only had blueberries and they were still perfection. Now, if I could only perfect that damn flip!

Recipe after the jump…

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

I don’t like being negative.

In fact, I think being a positive vegan is one of the best things we can do. With so much anger pointed towards us by meat loving omnivores, it is nice to be positive in return. I firmly believe this is the best way to spread the love and message of veganism.

I think this is especially true when it comes to food. I talk about how awesome vegan food is so much that I am sure people are sick of hearing about it. “Yes, we know fried tofu with nutritional yeast is the best thing ever… We get it!”

When it comes to vegan recipes I have been pretty lucky. There are so many creative vegans out there coming up with really clever concepts and twists on old classics. I bow to these people because I am totally unable to be as creative as these folks. Maybe someday I will. But, until then just talk about others stuff. Which, I am perfectly okay with.

So, my latest attempt it a definite twist on old classic, shepherds pie. If you have never had it, it is basically a bowl of stuff mixed together, add gravy, and cover it in potatoes. Umm, awesome! So when I saw this super easy recipe for vegan shepherds pie, I had to try it!

Sadly, this just did not live up to my expectations. It was just okay. When you cover something in mashed potatoes, there is no excuse for it not to be at least okay. Alas, you can judge for yourself. I have included some extra special thoughts, along with the recipe, after the jump.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Handmade Arcade

I like arts and crafts.

I wouldn’t consider myself an “artsy” person, although I did teach Arts & Crafts for a very short period of time in college. Fun little fact about me.

Recently, Pittsburgh has hosted some great craft / artisan markets. Handmade Arcade & I Made it Market are just two that have been huge successes on the Pittsburgh scene. These markets are so popular that they are always jam packed with people.
I love that these artisanal markets have become so popular. Not only does it reinforce the work of folks who are creating great crafts, but it also encourages us to support our community and local businesses.

My mom is a very crafty person who, as my brother so lovingly says, spends most of her money on pizza delivery and crochet yarn; which in Boston is called YAHHHHHHHHN. Craftiness runs in my family. However, my memories of any of the high school gym craft fairs that I went to with my mom were of aisles of lace doilies and cross-stitch letters on blankets.

Not anymore my friend.

I went to the Handmade Arcade last week with a friend and was so pleasantly surprised! So many fun people! So many cool items! It was like Etsy came to life in Pittsburgh.

These pictures are just a sample of the things I saw and loved. It was packed so I couldn't get as many pictures as I would have liked.

Watch your local blogs and newspaper to see when the next craft fair is coming to your town. Always great to lend a little support to our crafty friends out there!

Check out a couple more pictures after the jump, including an item that I absolutely fell in love with and practically threw money at the artist to own.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Red Lentil Lasagna

When I first started cooking I was so scared to veer from a recipe. To me, a recipe is like the instructions on Ikea furniture, leave something out and it just won’t work right.

What I have slowly come to realize is that although there are some recipes that need to be followed pretty closely, there are others that can be adjusted a bit.

I had some extra red lentils in my cabinet that I wanted to use so I went to my trustiest cookbook, Google, and started looking for something to do with them. Red lentil lasagna, sure!

The Top Layer
Only problem is I didn’t have everything the original recipe called for so I decided to take some liberties with it. Take this out, add this, adjust this… It worked! Success! I am the next vegan Julia Child! Respect...

Well not yet, but this lasagna turned out pretty darn good. 

I ate it like Garfield.You should too…

My slightly adapted Red Lentil Lasagna, after the jump…

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Vegans I’d Like to…

Well, you get it.

It is so great how many cool vegans are out there with blogs, websites, books, ‘zines, vlogs, twitter, facebook, pamphlets, chalkboards, markers and paper, or whatever other forms of communication they want to use. I am just happy there are so many of us out there being awesome. I am vegan proud!

Some of these awesome vegans happen to be pretty darn sexy too. I know I am one of them, but there are so many others! *wink wink*

This gave me an idea in my big chubby brain. Let me use my humble platform to share some of these super sexy vegans with all of my loving CV readers. Presenting my first V.I.L.F:

Holy swoon! This guy makes these really fun videos cooking amazing looking vegan “bar” food. Vegan mozzarella sticks, pizza rolls, Philly seitan steaks, and the list just gets even more delicious.

So let’s break it down… A guy that is a little bit punk rock, tatted up, vegan, a big dog lover, makes amazing vegan food, and is a certified vegan McSteamy… where do I sign up?

So check him out! His videos are great, funny and his recipes are all pretty basic and fun. Love, love, love it!

Check out a couple more of his videos after the jump…

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cuban Style Sweet Potatoes

I didn't have sweet potatoes or yams around when I was a kid.

I remember my Aunt would roast a few at Thanksgiving, but I never ate them. She also made spinach too and she and my dad were the only ones who ate it. I don't know if I ever tried it or was just told I didn’t like it. Cut to me 20 years later and I can tear up some spinach AND sweet potato. 

Sweet potato was just never a prevalent food item in my New England home. Seems strange, right? They are such a fall food and New England is pretty much fall food central.

When I moved to Georgia I was first introduced to sweet potato casserole, which is close to godliness in my world.  Now, I could eat sweet potatoes like Bubba Gump eats shrimp.

Bake, boil, mashed, fried, or roasted; bring it on! I have a love affair and it is with sweet potatoes.

I made this Kind Life sweet potato recipe last week and fell in love with it. Lime, parsley and garlic just work together so well. Cuban food always has some of the greatest food combinations and this does not disappoint! 

Try this scrumptious and easy Cuban sweet potato recipe after the jump…

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Little Less Chubby Vegan

I am obese.

Well, according to my BMI chart I am obese. If you saw me, you would probably do what everyone does and say things like:

“Oh that is rubbish, you are not obese!”
“That BMI chart is so ridiculous and it doesn’t account for so many things.”
“You don’t look chubby, what are you talking about?”
“Well, muscle weighs more than fat.” (This is completely untrue)

I agree with some of those statements and I believe everyone’s weight, size, and overall health is a personal feeling. Regardless of your size, you know when you are healthy. You know when you are overweight. You know, inherently, what is right for your body. I know I am healthy, but I also know I am a little bigger than I would like to be. I know, right now, I need to give myself a little check

Chubby Teenager
I have always been overweight and so is everyone in my immediate family. Obesity does not run in my family, bad eating and a sedentary lifestyle does. My weight and size have fluctuated as long as I can remember.

Becoming a vegetarian (although I hate to admit it) was purely for health reasons. I thought, “If I cut out meat, then I also cut out so much bad food.” Surprisingly, I was right. I lost weight. Was I any healthier, maybe...? However, factors in my life managed to put me right back on a track of poor (albeit vegetarian) choices and no exercise.

It is the same old story really. Every heavy person can share some tale of how they ended up becoming overweight and unhealthy. Many times it is just excuses, other times it’s a number of factors that led them to where they are.

When I chose to become vegan I gained weight; which is where the name of this blog came from.  Although I tend to make good choices, I just eat too much and don’t exercise enough. It’s not very complicated. So, I need to give myself a checkHere it is:

After the jump…

Friday, April 15, 2011

Whole Foods Austin (Day 3)

It has been almost a month since my trip to Austin, but I have one more post that I needed to share.

What visit to Austin would be complete without a trip to Mecca? Wait, you say, Mecca is not in Austin, TX? Oh but it is, oh but it is.

Whole Foods World Headquarters and flagship store is in Downtown Austin. It is a sight to behold. Beautiful. It almost brought tears to my chubby face.

First of all, the store is huge. The whole place was spotless clean, bright, and surprisingly easy to get around. I actually went a couple of times while I was there, once for brunch and once to pick up some things for a party.

I have so much to say about this store, but I don’t want to bore you or make you too jealous of the smart people who have moved to Austin. Here is my brief summary….

There is a (almost totally) raw bar that was delightful. The staff members who worked there were so amazingly friendly and they let me try all sorts of delicious raw items, including a Kale and Avocado salad which was outstanding.

The beer and wine section was enormous with very nice guys who led me to an organic wine section that made me gush. I love organic wine!

My friend Erica and I enjoyed, quite possibly, the best tofu tacos I have ever had. I got 3, which for the record is way too many, that had all sorts of delicious toppings on them including guacamole, daiya, beans, and vegan sausage. We topped it off with a peanut butter pie (don’t hate, it was brunch), which was incredible. Sadly, my chubby stomach was pretty full after devouring 3 tacos so I wasn’t able to finish it. Imagine, not being able to finish a dessert!

Overall, I was most impressed with the amazingly friendly staff. Whole Foods in Pittsburgh is great, but the employees in Austin were almost Disney like in their friendliness and service level. That is the best compliment anyone can ever get from me.

I have an unhealthy obsession with customer service and seeing it done so well made me just want to be a part of the team at Whole Foods. So if you are reading this Whole Foods management, I am willing to move to Austin. Email me*wink wink*

If you are ever in Austin, please make sure you stop into the Whole Foods flagship; it is an absolute must see!

I took a bazillion pictures in the store and I added more of them after the jump. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sauerkraut + Cashew = Mac & Shews

I had a serious hankering for some Mac and Cheese recently.

Not really sure why, but I have just been in the mood for it. I am having cravings. 

I think I am pregnant.

There are a million recipes out there for vegan Mac and Cheese, some of which are great and others which leave a little bit to the imagination. I have posted one before, but I have yet to find one that I am head over heels for. Plus, I still don’t love calling it Mac & Cheese. But...

On one of my regular visits to the Post Punk Kitchen blog I saw a recipe for “Mac n’ Shews,” which uses cashews, sauerkraut, and vegetable broth to create one of the most unique Mac & Cheese recipes I have ever seen.

Excuse me? Sauerkraut? ¡Repeta, por favor!

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a genius; plain and simple. This recipe was brilliant. It took a little bit of prep time, but is totally worth it. This recipe is no doubt in my top two favorite vegan Mac and Cheese recipes.
Husband loved it (and he is often skeptical of “cheese substitutes.") I brought some to work and my co-workers loved it. Success!

So get out that sour cabbage and go to town. You won’t be disappointed!

Recipe, another picture, and some notes after the jump…

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mickey Cupcakes

“I can’t stand the rain, against my window… I, I, can’t stand the rain…”

It has been raining all day in the gloomy ‘Burgh today. It is nearing the middle of April and I have yet to see much sunshine poking through in Western Pennsylvania. 

Everyone needs sunshine.

That sounds like a Disney song.  (What a segue...)

So if you follow me on Twitter and have read some of my previous posts, you know I am a terrible cake “froster.” I freely admit it. A piping bag and I are not friends. People have given me all sorts of suggestions but I think I am just stubborn about it. I need to take a cake decorating class.

Just for fun I wanted to share my latest frosting mess. I guess it isn’t that bad but it sure isn't perfect. Since I like perfection (which evidently is a Taurus quality, so I have been told) I am just not happy unless it’s the best cupcake you have ever seen. I made these cupcakes for one of my students who got a job at Walt Disney World.

The cupcakes tasted great, but I could pick apart their aesthetics all day. But, I won’t.

Instead I will just think like Disney; forget the gloomy rain, forget my poor piping bag skills, eat my cupcake and say, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" Yes!

If you are riveted to make your own Mickey cupcakes, follow me after the jump…

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fried "Chicken"

It is incredible how intoxicating smells can be.

In all of my heart and conscious mind I have no desire to eat things like fried chicken or bacon. Any weird desire for that kind of thing is completely gone. Lucky me! But, for whatever reason, when I am in a confined space and people are cooking certain things (fried chicken or bacon) I feel like Pepe Le Pew sniffing in the air for the lady skunk (whose name is actually Penelope Pussycat).

Phew… It feels good to get that out. Does that make me a bad vegan?

The thought of eating bacon or fried chicken repulses me beyond belief, but those smells just do something to my head. It’s like a drug.

*Light Bulb*

Alas, I know better. I know that the chicken frying in the pan is a life lost from horrible treatment and factory farming. I know that bacon is a pig that is smarter than most of the people I interact with on a daily basis. They are lives, not food. So take that drug like smells! I am stronger than you!

Plus, I have a vegan “fried chicken” recipe in my arsenal that is out of this world. This little ditty uses Gardein Chicken Fillets or Scaloppini with a light breading and quick trip in the frying pan.

This recipe is a super easy one from Vegan Pandamonium that she modeled after an Argentinean recipe from her mom.  So cute! One of our friends, who happens to be a chef, tried it and said, “This tastes just like fried chicken.”

Why yes. Yes, it does.

Recipe after the jump…

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mr. Jingles & Hope Pastures

I have rescued four dogs.

When I talk to people about my dogs they go crazy... People say, “ Oh beagles!” “Show me pictures” & “Do they howl all the time?”

I love when people have questions about my dogs because I love them and I love talking about them. They changed my life. Really, they did. But, that is a whole other post.

When the Humane Society shows videos of dogs (and cats) who are abused and neglected people lose their mind. It is heartbreaking. It is sad. I am so appreciative for rescue groups like the Humane Society and all of the wonderful shelters and breed rescues around the world doing the challenging and important work of animal rescue. However, there are so many animals in the world that face the pain and sadness of abuse and neglect that don’t get a big celebrity endorsement or television ad.

A few months ago I saw a post by fellow blogger Fat Gay Vegan (FGV) about a Horse & Donkey rescue just outside of Leeds, England. He spoke passionately about Hope Pastures which is dedicated to saving horses and donkeys “deemed redundant or left for certain death.” The trust is run by a few paid staff and a team of dedicated volunteers.

I love places like this; saving horses and donkeys can’t be easy. Not only does a place like this require a tremendous amount of financial support, but even more “people time” to make sure the animals are properly cared for. People who do this work amaze me and I am so thankful for them.

FGV laid down a challenge to his readers to send some financial support to Hope Pastures. Twenty (20) dollars (12.50 pounds) “adopts” a horse or donkey for one year. Twenty bucks; I can afford that! I headed to their website and Mr. Jingles the donkey became the fifth member of my furry family!

Here is the kicker, I am currently the only American who has given them any financial support. 300 million people in the US and I am the only one! I hope one of you will change that.

We all choose charities that are important to us and with no personal connection sometimes its hard to send money to a random place. However, I hope you give Hope Pastures a chance. Take a look at their website, see what they do, and think about “adopting” your own horse or donkey. Plus, these horses and donkeys have a British accent, can you beat that?

Mr. Jingles picture is proudly displayed in my office with his four other furry family members. Thank goodness he likes dogs! They sent me his picture, a letter from him, and a lovely certificate confirming my adoption. So sweet...

What did his letter say? I thought you would never ask...!

Read my letter from Mr. Jingles after the jump...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chickpea Lentil Soup

I recently got a request from someone to post more lentil recipes.

Happy to oblige!

So this soup is super easy and uses ingredients that some people may just have lying around. I got this from a Veg News e-newsletter and it sounded good so I made it that day.

Now, you know I have to keep it real with all of you. I love my CV readers so I don’t want to lie to you. This soup is super easy to make, really low in calories, but it's a bit bland boring. If you want a basic and hearty soup, this will do the trick. Husband was NOT a fan, but he also isn’t really a big “soup person” all around.

Straight from the recipe, the flavors are basic and not anything crazy exciting. However, this is a great filling and inexpensive soup to make and freeze or pack for lunch for the week.

So although I am not giving it a rousing standing ovation I say try it for yourself. Add some more spices, throw more vegetables in, use a different lentil, or use some good quality vegetable broth! Add your own flair to it. Best part about soup is you can always make it your own with whatever you have.

Recipe and another photo after the jump…

Monday, April 4, 2011

Stuffed Shells

Do you ever notice how people always speak for their kids?

“Oh, Billy won’t eat that. He only likes chicken nuggets and McDonalds. He despises vegetables.”
“No I will never get Jane to eat that, she is so picky!”

I don’t have children, so I will never try and act like I know what it is like to have kids. But whenever I see people making excuses for feeding their kids a poor diet it just makes me wonder if it is just purely a societal expectation that children will only eat chicken nuggets and fries, food marketing, availability, cost, ignorance, or just a combination of all of it.

I can’t consciously remember what its like to be 4 years old, so I don’t know if most kids really don’t like vegetables or if advertisers have made everyone think that kids will only eat processed crap.
I have a lot to say about this issue, but I will step of my soapbox for now. Really, it is my long way of getting to pictures of an adorable baby eating tofu.

I had the chance to go to a first birthday party for an amazing little boy a few weeks ago. I brought some cashew ricotta stuffed shells and they were a big hit, especially with the one-year-old crowd! Whoever said babies won’t eat tofu?

Recipe and more pictures after the jump…

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nacho Mom's Ultimate Vegan Queso

Every now and then a product comes along that you don’t really know how you lived without…  A good example of this may be Gardein or cheap bulk bags of cashews. You choose.

On my recent trip to Austin (see 1 & 2) I had the chance to meet the creator of one of these new and amazing products. Yes, I got to meet the Nacho Mom.

First of all, she is adorable and actually not made of nachos.

Second, her product will blow your mind.

Imagine this, a jar of queso that is vegan, has no fat, and is only 160 calories for THE WHOLE JAR! Yep, you read that right.

Warm this queso up and pour it on anything, it is amazing! I can’t even describe to you how awesome it is. When I was in Texas, I brought some to a party and it was gobbled up in about 5 seconds flat.

So thanks to the Nacho Mom, I am giving away two jars of Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso (original & fire roasted) to one of my loving Chubby Vegan readers.

I am so excited about this giveaway because I can’t buy vegan queso in Pittsburgh. Now that I have tried it, I need you to be able to try it too!

*** This contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! ***
Entry Guidelines:

To enter, comment below and tell me how you would use vegan queso. Please be sure to include a way for me to contact you if you win.

For an additional entry, tweet the following phrase:

     “@thechubbyvegan Give me some @veganqueso! #giveaway #vegan

Please leave an additional comment below and let me know you did; be sure to include a way to contact you!

Contest will close on Wednesday, April 6th at 10:00 pm. Make sure to get your entries in before then! Can’t wait to read how you would use your Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso!
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