Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lucky Foods For The New Year

Dear Daily Vegan Readers,
Thank you for your interest in and support of The Daily Vegan. It's been an absolute joy to share this information with you. I hope you will continue to embrace a plant-based diet. Below is a fun article on lucky foods for the New Year. But first, here is one of my favorite quotes, which I'd like to share with you:

"All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life.
See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?"  Buddha

With utmost gratitude for all you do for the animals,

Good Luck Foods For The New Year



In many Asian countries, long noodles are eaten on New Year's Day in order to bring a long life. One catch: You can't break the noodle before it is all in your mouth.

Black-Eyed Peas

A common good luck food in the southern United States, black-eyed peas are thought to bring prosperity, especially when served with collard greens.

In Germany, Ireland, and parts of the United States, cabbage is associated with luck and fortune since it is green and resembles money.
Thought to resemble coins, lentils are eaten throughout Italy for good fortune in the New Year.


Long associated with abundance and fertility, pomegranates are eaten in Turkey and other Mediterranean countries for luck in the New Year.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Four Tips For Compassionate Eating

Below, Kathy Freston, author of several books including Veganist, shares her tips for compassionate eating:
1. To make a change, you have to lean into it. When I decided to become a vegan, I did it gradually: one thing at a time over the course of a few years. If I had pushed myself to stop eating all animal products at once, I might have given up.

2. There's fun in the hunt. Veganism is like a sport for me. I roam supermarket aisles searching for new foods—recently, I found a coconut-based ice cream that's unbelievable. And I love the challenge of "veganizing" recipes: mashed potatoes with soy milk, or pizza topped with tapioca-based cheese and veggie sausage.

3. Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. Eating consciously is an exercise in kindness, and the more I work at it, the more empowered I feel. When I eat food that's grown in the ground or in trees, my mind is clear, my body thrives, and I'm more deeply connected with the world.

4. Seitan is a vegan's secret weapon. At a dinner party a few years ago, I served "veal piccata"—but with seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. One of my guests, a Midwestern guy who loves his meat, said to me, "That's the best veal I've ever tasted." I felt so proud for pulling off the switch.

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Ask Amy" On Favorite Resources

Q: When The Daily Vegan ends, I'd like to continue getting more info on plant-based eating. What resources would you recommend?
A: Thanks for asking. Here are some favorites of mine that should serve you well in the future:
1. For excellent, reliable nutrition information: (Jack Norris, RD), (Dr. Michael Greger), and (Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, directed by Dr. Neal Barnard)
2. For current information on animals, their treatment on farms, in labs, and as pets, as well as proposed state and federal legislation to protect them, I recommend: and (Animal Legal Defense Fund).
3. For a wide selection of free, delicious vegan recipes, check out:
4. For thoughtful commentary on all-things-vegan, I suggest: This site was created by cookbook author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She offers a free podcast, blog, and newsletter that are highly informative.
5. Continue your commitment to vegan eating by signing up for the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine's 21 Day Vegan Kickstart ( It's free and provides daily tips, recipes, and videos that will inspire you. This challenge is offered periodically during the year. One is starting on January 2, 2012. Don't miss it!
6. If you haven't seen the documentary Forks Over Knives (now available on DVD and through Netflix Instant), please do. It's an engaging, informative film on the power of plant-based eating on our health.  
I also suggest the films Food, Inc. (on DVD) and Farm To Fridge (the 11-minute movie produced by Mercy For Animals and narrated by actor James Cromwell, available for free at These films document the truth about how animals are treated.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Party Recipes

Sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg created Spork (, an online vegan cooking school. They also recently released a cookbook titled Spork-Fed.

Spiced White Sangria
By Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg
This spiced sipper combines refreshing fruit with an enticing zing of mint and cinnamon.
Serve this sangria in a crystal bowl for a punch that looks as gorgeous as it tastes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings

What You Need:
1/2 nectarine, diced small
1 pear, diced small
1 lime, sliced
1 orange or 2 clementines, sliced
1 bottle white wine
1 liter carbonated water, orange- or lemon-flavored
3 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoons sugar
3 sprigs fresh mint
Splash of Cointreau
What You Do:
1. To a large pitcher, add nectarine, pear, lime, and oranges or clementines.
2. Add wine, carbonated water, cinnamon sticks, sugar, mint, and a splash of Cointreau.  Stir to mix well. Refrigerate for up to 2 hours and serve cool.

Mini Empanadas
By Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg
Miniature empanadas make the perfect savory hors d’oeuvre for an evening of special celebration.
These peppy pastry pockets are packed full of the flavors of dates, garlic, olives, and pine nuts.
Makes 12 to 14 servings

What You Need:
For the dough:
1/3 cup vegan margarine
1/4 cup vegan sour cream
3 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
For the filling:
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata or Spanish olives, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon flour
What You Do:
1.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat liner. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix together margarine, sour cream, and cream cheese. Add both flours, sea salt, baking powder, and sugar.  Whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to over-mix. 
2.    For the filling, in a separate bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Stir to combine and set aside.
3.    On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough into 2-inch circles, 1/4-inch thick. With a biscuit cutter or rim of a glass, cut out circular shapes.
4.    Onto each round, place 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling and fold over edge into a half circle shape. With a fork, press to seal around edges of dough. Repeat for all. Brush with a small amount of oil before baking.
5.    Place the empanadas on baking sheet. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. Garnish with thyme and olives.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tips From A Top Heart Surgeon

From Harlan Spector in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 2008

"Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn puts it this way: When it comes to the health of your coronary arteries, a little fat in the diet is like a little gasoline on the fire.
In a chapter titled "Moderation Kills" in his book, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," the retired Cleveland Clinic surgeon explains in detail how every bite of fat unleashes free radicals, harmful chemicals that wreak havoc on the arteries.
It's scary enough. But you're not alone if you think it would be next to impossible to give up everything fat and meaty to eat like the Papua Highlanders of New Guinea (one of the cultures he notes that subsists on plant foods and has no coronary disease).

The change is not easy, but Esselstyn and his wife, Ann, offer these tidbits in the book, Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease:
• Realize that fat is craved, just like nicotine. Stop cold turkey and cravings for fat-laden food will disappear in three months.

• If you are invited to dinner, explain to the host you have an unusual diet and you can't eat meat, fowl, fish, dairy or oils. Don't make a big deal about it. Offer to come just for a glass of wine, or tell the host you will be happy with salad and bread, baked potato, or whatever they offer that fits your diet.

• Some restaurants will be happy to accommodate if you explain your dietary restrictions. Call ahead if you can.

• Instead of cow's milk on cereal or old-fashioned rolled oats, use fruit juice, almond milk or non-fat soy milk.
• You'll have to experiment to find salad dressings without oil you like. Try a combination of balsamic vinegar and fat-free hummus.

• Invest in a rice cooker. (Note: Brown rice, wild rice, and black rice are the most nutritious)

• You don't have to give up pizza, just the cheese ("You couldn't find a worse food for your heart," Esselstyn says). How does Roasted Vegetable and Spinach Polenta Pizza sound?

• Desserts are doable. Replace cow's milk with the above-mentioned substitutes. Use applesauce or prunes instead of oil. Mix ground flaxseed meal with water for an egg substitute. "

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two Simply Delicious Soups

Lentil Bisque
Makes 6 servings


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • ½ cup dried apricots, quartered
  • ¼ cup chopped onion or shallots
  • ¼ to ½ tsp. Thai red chili paste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup light coconut milk
  • ½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • Chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 4 Tbsp. pomegranate juice or seeds (optional)


Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Place sweet potatoes, lentils, apricots, onion, chili paste, and broth in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are falling apart, about 25 minutes. Let soup sit, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Add coconut milk. Using a blender or hand blender, puree soup until smooth, in batches if necessary. Stir in salt and pepper, and add more if desired.

To serve: Divide pureed soup among bowls, and top each with cilantro and pomegranate juice or seeds (if using).

Tips: You can substitute brown or green lentils for the red; they won't fall apart as easily, so forgo the blending and serve the soup as a chunky stew instead. Freeze up to 8 weeks.
Creamy Carrot Soup With Cherry Tomato & Corn Salsa
  • 3 cups grated carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. raw sesame tahini (usually found in jars in the nut butter section of stores)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 20 cherry tomatoes , quartered
  • 1 ear corn , kernels removed from cob
  • 1 2-inch cucumber , small diced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh coriander , minced
  • 1 jalapeno chili pepper , minced (remove seeds if you prefer your salsa less spicy)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
To make soup: Simply combine all the ingredients in a blender, adding about 3 cups water and blending until smooth and creamy.

To make salsa: Combine all the salsa ingredients and set aside to marinate for at least half an hour before serving.

Serve the soup garnished with a scoop of salsa.

  • In place of tahini, you could add an avocado or 1 cup coconut milk to give a creamy consistency. You could also add 1/3 cup raw cashews.
  • You could make the soup spicier by adding some Tabasco or some fresh or dried chili pepper. Fresh ginger or other spices could be added to suit your personal taste.
  • To save time, use a chunky pre-made salsa.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Is Alcohol Vegan?

Did You Know...
"It might seem weird at first, but your favourite drink might have more than just alcohol in it.
Brewmasters, winemakers, and distillers may include animal ingredients in their products directly, or they might use them in the processing and filtration.
When making the product, dairy, honey, and other things (including, in one case, a whole chicken dropped in the tank) are ingredients in the final recipe.
When filtering the drinks prior to bottling, companies can use things like isinglass (from fish bladder,) gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells, among other things. These products grab onto the impurities and make it easier to catch them in the filters, though there are many animal-free alternatives in use.
These ingredients don't usually show up on the label, so the only way to find out is to ask."
For a large list of truly animal-free beer and liquor, check out