Give Thanks for Plants! (Green Bean Mushroom Casserole and Pumpkin Parfait Recipes)

By Sara Andrews

Questions?  Comments? Have you created a plant powered recipe that you’d like to share with other Veg eNews readers?  Email me at sara@allanimals.org

When I first went veg I found Thanksgiving to be a trial.  Over time I realized that it can be a wonderfully joyous time to eat and share wonderful dishes – many of which, in my humble opinion, both mimic and exceed in quality the dishes many people are familiar with. In this post I’ll be sharing one of my regularly made classic Thanksgiving dishes as well as a brand new one I’ve already tested this year – and will also be making for Thanksgiving – that I first had at the Chicago Veganmania that took place in October of 2015.

So Good!

The photo to the left is an example of of my holiday plate from a year or two ago.  Shown are: Tofurkey and mashed potatoes with homemade mushroom gravy, rolls, cauliflower and broccoli, twice baked sweet potato with cranberries, and the almost but not quite so traditional green bean mushroom casserole.

Not So Traditional Green Bean Mushroom Casserole
Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes

I’ve been making this casserole for many years now and one of the great benefits is that it has even more veggies than the original Campbell’s soup version that many are familiar with.  Most of the veggies and spices are fresh (not canned) and therefore the flavor is better and easy to tweak.  This recipe calls for canned green beans – I prefer to use fresh green beans that are cut and steamed before addition to this recipe, but if you are in a hurry – frozen works a bit better than canned – and canned are an easy fallback.    If you wish you can also make the french fried onions from scratch (especially useful if you are avoiding palm oil – which many commercial ones contain).  There is an excellent recipe for those here.  This recipe is slightly altered from one I found on vegweb.com years ago that can be found here

Ingredients

  •  1 1/2 cups of almond (or other non-dairy) milk
  • 1 (2.5-ounce) cube veggie bouillon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  •  3/4 cup chopped mushrooms or more! (button, crimini, portabello, whatever you like – I tend to use lots of veggies – I sometimes double the mushrooms)
  •  2-3 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  •  1/2 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can french cut green beans (see note about about fresh/frozen)
  • 1-1/2 (14.5 ounce) canisters vegan French fried onions (or homemade ones) – if I buy commercially produced ones I usually use less

Directions:

Mushroomy

So Good!

1. In a saucepan, heat the nondairy milk and veggie bouillon; stir until bouillon cube disintegrates. Just heat the milk, do not boil or scald it.

2. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions, mushrooms, and carrots; saute until the onions are translucent. Add the herbs and spices (basil, garlic, marjoram, oregano, pepper, sage, salt, and thyme – and whatever other hearty herbs make you happy).

3. Make a thickener by combining cornstarch and cold water; mix well. Pour into the nondairy milk-bouillon mixture. Stir well, because this will coagulate pretty quickly.

4. Quickly add the can of green beans, the sauteed veggies, and about half of the French fried onions; stir well. Pour that mixture into a casserole dish or pan and top with remaining French fried onions.

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the French fried onions begin to brown.  Remove. Eat. Enjoy.Makes: 6-12, Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ghastly Gourd Parfait
Serves 5 (or more if you’ve just eaten a big holiday meal)

As much as we all love pumpkin pie I’ve been experimenting with pumpkin dessert alternatives – I’m ready for something new.  I’ve tried the Vegan Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake which was pretty good but even though this next recipe isn’t a pie – it takes the cake.

This recipe is from the folks at Native Foods. Their chef was kind enough to share it with me but it can also be found in in the Native Foods Celebration Cookbook.

Parfait

Ingredients

Pumpkin Parfait

Pumpkin Parfait

  • 14 ounces silken tofu, firm
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Directions

  1.  Put all of the ingredients into a blender (except the coconut oil).
  2. Blend all of the ingredients (except the coconut oil) together, and then on low speed, slowly add in the melted coconut oil.
  3. Set aside.

Cookie Crumble

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup organic sugar  (organic sugar is always vegan)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. ground dry ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

  1. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients together in separate bowl.
  3. Mix the dry with the wet using a whisk.
  4. Roll the dough into little balls (about 1 inch in size). Slightly press down before cooking.  Sara’s note:  Make sure you have them far enough apart – perhaps using two pans so they have enough room to spread out without hitting each other.  You need them to make them flat before baking otherwise they won’t bake well and will be too moist and won’t crumble.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Assembly

  1.  Crumble the cookies in the bowl.
  2. Layer the cookie crumble and parfait mix into small dishes or parfait glasses.  One layer of pumpkin, one layer of crumble, one layer of pumpkin, and then top with crumble.
  3. Decorate as desired – a dash of pumpkin pie spice – a strawberry – be creative. You could even put a bit of coconut milk whipped cream on top to get a pumpkin pie feel.

I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving meal!  The animals give thanks when we chose plant based options.

How to Survive Thanksgiving: 6 Tips from a seasoned vegan (no pun intended)

By: Michael Finn

Are you a vegan/vegetarian who will be attending a Thanksgiving dinner this year that will also be serving turkey, ham, or other animal products? For most of us who share meals with diverse family members and/or friends this is the case. We all have loved ones in our lives who consume animals in some capacity. This article offers some tips and suggestions on how to survive the challenges of the holiday without ruffling any feathers in the process.    turkey-thanksgiving photo

If this is your first veggie Thanksgiving, please accept this boisterous “Thank you” from turkeys across the nation! Be comforted by the fact that it only gets easier with time. If you’re just beginning to consider a plant-based diet, hopefully these tips will help convince you that making the switch is as easy as pumpkin pie, and incidentally, more delicious!

  1. Talk to your host.

Be open with your host before the holiday arrives. Explain your dietary restrictions clearly so they know what to expect. If you’re bringing your own dishes to the celebration, it’s good to let them know in advance. Many hosts want to ensure that their guests will enjoy their food, and will attempt to provide something for everyone – so being open and proactive benefits all parties. Your host may want to prepare a veggie dish for you. If you’re comfortable with this, you can print off recipes from the internet for them. Otherwise, there’s a plethora of prepared veggie foods at the store.

2. Bring along a dish or two.

Many people are surprised to hear that any dish (even blood sausage) can be recreated without animal ingredients. Because of the versatility and creativity of veggie cuisine, you can indulge in all of your favorite Thanksgiving inspired entrees. By doing a simple online search, you can discover a multitude of veggie recipes for practically any meal you can fathom.

If you don’t enjoy cooking, rest assured that dozens of meat and dairy alternatives can be found at nearly every grocery store. Tofurkey, Field Roast, and vegan vurkey dinnerGardein all produce vegan faux “turkey” dinners, complete with gravy and stuffing. Earth Balance offers high-quality vegan butter, with which you can top your mashed potatoes. Follow Your Heart sells an assortment of dressings, cheeses, and toppings. Dandies marshmallows contain no animal ingredients, and are perfect for sweet potato casserole. Cranberry sauce and pumpkin/cherry pie filling is generally vegan friendly, so there should be no worries there.

3. Try to refrain from preaching your beliefs.

The Thanksgiving table is no place to start slinging mud – in fact, as a general rule – discussing veganism while eating is not advised. For this reason, try as hard as you can not to talk about the horrors of slaughter houses or factory farms during the meal.  Although it’s important to educate others about animal agriculture when opportunities arise,  choosing the time and place where your audience will be most receptive is critical to the success of your message. So, even though seeing a turkey on the table may be difficult, commenting during the meal is unlikely to have a positive impact.  Remember, the people who invited you to their dinner love and value you, so it’s important to respect them as well.

  1. Answer questions, but avoid confrontation.

Generally, there are two sorts of people who may comment on your diet: those who are genuinely interested, and those who want to mock and make jokes. While it doesn’t hurt to answer neutral questions when asked, avoid confrontational discussions that may lead to heated arguments. If a friend or family member is curious about your dietary preferences, by all means, oblige their inquiries; but if someone is prodding you with jokes or arguments, respectfully tell them that you’re trying to enjoy your holiday, and would appreciate discussing another topic. More often than not, this will dissuade further pestering.

  1.  Don’t apologize for being vegetarian.

Compassion should never be apologized for, so try not to say you’re sorry for being an “inconvenience.” It may feel uncomfortable if you’re the only herbivore at the celebration, but be proud and confident with your decision to abstain from cruelty. Remember, it gets easier with time! When people do change their recipes or go out of their way to provide plant-based options for you – show your appreciation and say thank you.

  1. How to handle the sights and smells of meat.

Personally, I find this to be one of the hardest facets about Thanksgiving. It’s difficult to avoid the sights and smells of meat entirely during the holiday. The only bits of advice I can offer for this conundrum is to try not to focus on the meat, but on the people you’re with. This may take some practice, but I’ve found it helps significantly. There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks away from the table. I know it probably sounds strange, but if you need to step out when you’re overwhelmed, do so – take a bathroom break or step outdoors.

My final suggestion… give a moment of thanks to yourself. Celebrate the fact that you care enough about animals not to harm them in any way. There are billions of other people in the world who will never care about them the way you do. Being vegan/vegetarian really is a beautiful gesture. While the President of the United States pardons a single turkey in November, by refraining from eating meat, you pardon all animals, holiday or not!

Two Soul Soothing Stews

By Sara Andrews

Questions?  Comments? Have you created a plant powered recipe that you’d like to share with other Veg eNews readers?  Email me at sara@allanimals.org

One of the joys of colder weather is getting to warm back up after spending some time appreciating some of Wisconsin’s fall beauty.  These are warming, filling, and I find them to be on the comfort side of eating while also being full of nutrients, colors, and flavor.

Curried Coconut Milk Butternut Squash Stew

CurriedStewThis first one is a recipe that is one of my own.  I was attempting to recreate a soup I had at a restaurant and was very pleased with the results.  This is also a great way to use the abundance of locally grown squash in Wisconsin.  If you have never used a whole butternut squash before – chopping it up can be a bit challenging.  There are a few ways to do it – learning is worth the pay off – as is learning to cut up a whole pineapple.  Here’s a quick two minute video demonstration on one way to dice a butternut squash. Youtube is a great resource for helpful cooking demo videos – and sometimes it’s easier to watch someone do it than to read a description.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or more to taste)
2 cups butternut squash (or other orange squash) – cut into approximately 1/2 inch cubes
8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped (cremini or white – I have also used – portobellos)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 1/2 cups water and 1 vegetable broth cube)
1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz. canned coconut milk
salt to taste

Directions

  1. In a large soup pot heat the olive oil on medium heat and saute the onions until they are translucent.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer.
  2. Add the squash, mushrooms, and pepper to the pot.  Stir to coat the Stew2veggies in oil and cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly softened – stir periodically to prevent burning/sticking.
  3. Add all the spices, a pinch of salt, the broth, and chickpeas to the pot.  Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  4. Lower the heat and add the coconut milk.  Cover again and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.  Salt to taste.

Crock-Pot Seitan Stew

Recipe by Jolinda Hackett

*Even if you have a gluten intolerance – as long as you use gluten-free soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Amino acids – this recipe would still make a satisfying veggie stew if you left the seitan out entirely.

When people think about using crock-pots vegetarian dishes aren’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind.  However, they really are a fantastic tool for people who like to “fix it and forget it”  or who have busy schedules – and I got my money’s worth out of mine long ago. I use mine frequently – especially in the fall and winter – for everything from Thanksgiving stuffing to applesauce.  This seitan stew is in my regular rotation – and I like to bring it to family holiday gatherings.

Notes:

If you aren’t familiar with seitan – as long as you aren’t a celiac or gluten intolerant – you are in for a treat.  Seitan can be found at many groceries – usually in the produce area (use the Asian style for this recipe if available).  I like to make it at home in batches and freeze or refrigerate for later use.  Learn more here.

Looking for more crock-pot recipes? Highly recommended book: Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are

Ingredients

  • 1 pound seitan, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 potatoes, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 tbsp water until smooth

Directions

  1. Saute the seitan in a little bit of olive oil first for added flavor and texture.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a crock pot or slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Enjoy!

Looking for more great soup and stews recipes?  There is a fantastic set of recipes on the Forks Over Knives website. Check them out here.

Encouraging Madison Restaurants to Offer Vegan Options

What Do We Want? More Vegan Options!
When Do We Want It? Now!

by Bob Schwalb, Alliance board vice president

If you’re like me, one of the most frustrating experiences is going into a restaurant with the presumption that surely something on the menu will be vegan, only to find out that your sole option is a side salad (hold the cheese, bacon bits, and ranch dressing, please). Grrrr!

Making it easy to find a vegan meal at any Madison area restaurant is the goal of the Alliance for Animals and the Environment’s recently formed Restaurant Outreach Team. Our group created a colorful and informative guide for restaurants on the how’s and why’s of offering vegan meals in their restaurant. We identify the restaurants in the area that currently have no vegan main dishes on their menu, visit the restaurants, and speak with the managers or owners encouraging them to add vegan options to their menu.

We let them know the many reasons why offering at least one vegan option is good for their bottom line. First of all, more and more people are becoming vegan and these people, like most people, like to eat out. Second, even those who don’t identify as vegan or vegetarian often look for and order meals that are plant-based for health and/or ethical reasons. Third, if a group of people are going out to eat and one person in the group is vegan, the group will likely choose a restaurant that can accommodate the vegan in the group. Simply put, not offering a vegan option means lost business, something no restaurant can afford.

Our team recently had its first success as The Coopers Tavern just added a vegan item to their dinner menu called “Local Herbivore”. Their menu describes it as, “a seasonal display of local produce, sauce, and accompaniments all made completely vegan”. Hooray for Coopers! If you have the chance, please let Coopers know that you appreciate them making the change. Who knows, if this dish sells well, maybe they’ll add more vegan options later!

If you’re interested in joining our outreach team, let us know (alliance@allanimals.org). But even if you don’t join our team, you can still help by letting as many restaurants as possible know that you want them to add vegan options to their menu. If they do have vegan options already, thank them for doing so. Let them know that because they offer these options, you decided to dine there. And let them know that the more vegan options they offer, the more likely you’ll be to dine there again.

Working together to communicate our preference for more vegan options, we’ll eventually make it easy to find delicious vegan fare at any Madison area restaurant.