Mock Chicken Salad

So I’ve been a huge fan of Whole Foods’ mock chicken salad for a couple of years now. I’ve long wanted to figure out how to make it, but the texture of the faux chicken they use is, IMHO, what makes it so damn good. Well, I finally figured out what product they’re using… Delight Soy Nuggets. I found them recently in the frozen foods section at the local Whole Foods, and they looked just like the soy nuggets I’ve seen in the prepared foods section at The Mothership. Long story short… they are the very same nuggets my beloved mock chicken salad is made of.

I decided to try my hand at making my own, if only because the Whole Foods stuff is just so damn pricey. Now I just needed a good chicken salad recipe. For that I turned to the Shannons, and their Betty Crocker Project. I used their chicken salad recipe, and it came out fantastic! I failed to take any pictures, but it looked just like the Whole Foods mock chicken salad, and by all reports tasted even better. I ended up replacing the red onion called for in the recipe with yellow, because that’s what I had on hand. And rather than frying the nuggets, I prepared them as directed on the package - baking them for 10 minutes at 350, then letting them cool before chopping them up for the salad.

My estimate is that I made about twice as much as normally comes in the large to go container at Whole Foods (at an average price of $10 per container), at a total cost of around $7. My only regret is not putting some back for me to have today, since my guests devoured the entire batch last night. Next time, double batch!


Kale Soup!

Kale Soup


6 small new potatoes, diced

Water for boiling potatoes.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, sliced or diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1-2 fresh jalapeno or serano, seeded and diced

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8-1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

(optional) generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed

3 bay leaves

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

salt to taste

3 cups or 2 cans, drained and rinsed, of cooked chickpeas or red beans (I do a can of each, myself)

8 cups vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon)

1 large tomato, diced

1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped or torn


Cook potatoes until just done, then drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in bottom of soup pan. 

Add onion, carrots, garlic, and chiles.  Saute over medium-high heat until onion is transparent.

Add spices and stir.

Add chickpeas and/or beans and stir to coat with spices.

Add vegetable broth and diced tomato.  Continue to cook and stir over medium-high heat until it begins to boil.

Add kale, stir into soup, then turn down heat to low or medium-low to simmer. 

Simmer 10-20 minutes, depending on how done you like the kale.

Stir in cooked potatoes and then serve.

I’ve also made a larger batch by using two bunches of kale, medium to large new potatoes, and three quarts vegetable broth. Everything else just increase by approximately half again… or not. Everyone seems to enjoy it immensely with just adding the extra broth, potato and kale.


Peanut Butter Melties

This is a recipe I adapted from one I got a couple of decades ago in one of those recipe card subscription trial packs... You know the ones I'm talking about (unless you grew up with the interwebs, and then you probably don't). These cookies are almost like short bread in consistency, and they are by far my favorite peanut butter cookies evah.


3/4 c. earth balance (or other vegan margarine)
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg replacer (I use Ener-G for this recipe)
2 c. all purpose flour

Cream earth balance, peanut butter, and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the egg replacer. Stir in flour to make a stiff dough. Shape dough into balls about ping-pong ball size. Place on cookie sheets.

Press with cookie stamp or pointed side of meatless mallet or any other object that will transfer a design onto each cookie. Bake at 350 degrees for 8- 10 minutes or until just lightly browned and set. They will be very soft until cooled. Once the cookies firm up, they should slide easily off of the sheets.



How vegan are you?

I had someone I’ve been corresponding with through email ask me this question recently, and the emphasis of the discussion was on a person raising or hunting, and killing and butchering their own animals for meat. Trying to explain something to someone in writing has always had the side effect of helping to solidify my understanding of, or views on the subject, and after writing what turned into a short essay on the subject, I thought I would post a slightly revised version of it here.

So, how vegan?  In my mind, you're either vegan, or you're not.  Either you believe it's okay to exploit animals, or you don't.  The term “Vegan” is specifically designating a person who, for ethical reasons, abstains as much as is reasonably possible from exploiting animals for any purpose.  If someone is just avoiding eating animal products for health reasons, etc...  then they're a strict vegetarian, but not a vegan.  Some will make that distinction by calling someone either a dietary, or an ethical vegan.  I am definitely an ethical vegan.  

I'm not a rabid vegan by any means, and I come a background of ranchers, farmers, and hunters. While I don't necessarily want to hear about or participate in these things, I am pragmatic enough to see that the hunted animals lived natural lives until the moment they were killed, and those raised for personal consumption are usually well cared for.  I'm at odds with many vegans on this subject, because I recognize that there will always be people who want to eat meat, and people doing so in a responsible way is better than factory farming. Commercial livestock operations treat animals as product, and are never okay in my mind, no matter how “humane” they claim to be, and trophy hunters deserve a special level of hell reserved just for them. But the person (who we will assume is never going to stop eating meat) who chooses to take direct responsibility for how the animals they eat live and die, definitely gets more respect from me than the average asshole spouting about climbing to the top of the food chain as they eat the steak someone else raised, killed, and dismembered for them, without a care for how much suffering occurred so they could have a ribeye at the Outback.


Vegan in Fredericksburg

Wow...  It's been over a year since I posted here.  I've been trying to eat healthier these days - and not always succeeding.  But I take it once food choice at a time, and try to make more good choices than bad.

Since my birthday fell on fourth of July weekend, we put off going out of town until this last weekend. Saturday we headed to Fredericksburg, a place not well known for it's healthy vegan options. However, for the most part, I managed to eat surprisingly well. We ended up snacking quite a bit, but I brought dried fruit and nuts with us to try to stay away from bad snacks.

For dinner Saturday night, we had salad, veggie sushi, and a giant (and way overpriced) stir-fry with a miso sauce that was light on oil. Sunday we grabbed lunch at Subway on our way to Enchanted Rock. I skipped the vinegar and oil I normally would have gotten, and had mustard instead - and of course, no chips or soda. I hiked all the way to the top of the rock - which might not seem like a long hike at only .6 miles to the summit, but it's also a 425 ft increase in altitude over that .6 miles. I'm not sure what the flat surface equivalent might be, but it's definitely got to multiply the effective distance hiked by some factor. The SO had a shoe blowout a little over halfway up, so he camped in a shady spot while I went on to the top.

After cleaning up, we went to dinner at Navajo Grill, and had one of the most wonderful meals I've had in a while (short of Wink, of course). The appetizer was a plate of beautiful local tomatoes with olives, basil, cucumber, and balsamic vinegar (no oil). I was in heaven! For our main course, the chef made us a plate that included a lovely pasta dish with fresh local vegetables in a light tomato sauce, spaghetti squash with sun dried tomatoes, and kale sauteed with white wine, lemon, and roasted garlic. It was light, healthy, and delicious. After dinner we went to see the bat emergence at the Old Tunnel, an abandoned railroad tunnel. If you've never seen a bat emergence, they are impressive. This tunnel is home to anywhere from one to three million bats during the summer months - and they all come out of the tunnel at dusk in search of food.

I wasn't perfect, and yes, I ate a few things that aren't on the acceptable list - but I did make more good choices than bad, and I worked exercise into the weekend. A vast improvement over times past, when I would have used being on a getaway trip as an excuse to eat horribly and be a slug.


My first post as the Austin Vegan Examiner

It was a bit rushed and not my best work, but I'll get better. I'll be covering various vegan topics, and plan to post several times a week.



Survival Tips for New Vegans | The Vital Voice

Nice article with some simple tips for anyone thinking about going vegan.

From: http://ping.fm/KNXEw