My friend, Food, and I are finding our way in this world.
My name is Whitney. My stage name is Vinthea and we are both vegan. Vegans abstain from all meat, dairy and animal by-products, including leather, wool and even honey. I flirted with veganism for a couple years before making the full switch. The world is full of triggers, it seems, and I had to find my way to a place in which I felt comfortable with my choices in food, as I tried to tell my “Cheese dip!” screams that I wouldn’t feel good afterward. That “Fellini’s pizza!” could easily, easily become homemade, whole wheat yummy flatbreads, with organic ingredients and a big glass of wine. My triggers have quieted, but I still have moments of helpless weakness. Out of this, (as with many moments of helpless weakness) has come something wonderful, though, and that is my improved relationship with food. Food is my friend again, not my tormenter. My urges more often include that wonderful, yummy feeling when you’ve eaten something that makes your body feel good, rather than simply the fleeting taste of some cheat.
I still cheat. I won’t win any votes for martyrdom (again) this year. But, mine now involve melted dark chocolate brittle, biscuits slathered in Earth Balance butter, gooey miso pasta dishes and, of course, more wine. I treat myself more than I ever have before because my body and mind are working together more these days. We’re nice to each other, finally.
This is not to dictate where your food journey will lead you, nor to preach. It is simply to say that I no longer feel like I don’t eat that and I can’t eat that and I can’t eat at restaurants anymore and that the world outside my kitchen is a scary place of NO, at every turn. But, rather, I now find myself so much more likely to pick up some unknown food, put it in my cart, google it and make something new that night. Food is my wonderland and I find it limitless, even with my “limited” diet.
Following are three recipes I love:
Takes approximately 30 minutes & becomes bite-sized adorable nests of no-pasta Italian night.
Ideal for: showing off, Date Night, make ahead, dinner party dish
2 medium zucchini, sliced long-ways with a vegetable peeler
several handfuls spinach
your favorite marinara or pesto
Spray a regularly sized (not mini) muffin tin. Line each cup with zucchini slices, including the bottom. Sprinkle enough spinach to fill each hole without packing.
Bake at 400 degrees 5-6 minutes, until you notice the spinach deflating.
Meanwhile, prepare the tofu ricotta.
1/2 medium sweet onion
1 garlic clove, minced
juice and zest of one lemon
*1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but adds to the cheesiness)
1 package of extra firm tofu
10 basil leaves, torn
Saute onion until translucent.
Add garlic and cook one minute.
Juice and zest one lemon and add the optional nutritional yeast. (Resources for “odd” ingredients below.)
You will need to add a bit more salt if you opt out of the nutritional yeast.
Crumble in tofu and basil and cook until the tofu mixture begins to stick together, about four minutes.
When the spinach is deflated, remove from the oven and push spinach into the bottom of each cup and fill remaining space with tofu ricotta.
Bake at 400 10-15 minutes, or tofu ricotta is browning.
Serve with a dollop of warmed marinara or pesto and perhaps a basil sprig.
Takes approximately 1 hour, to allow the polenta to cool, but could be made a day ahead.
Ideal for: hosted dinner party, make ahead, showing off
1 portobello cap for each person, 4 for 4
4 cups cooked brown rice
3 garlic cloves
2 TBS Earth Balance
Remove mushroom stems and wipe with a dry towel to remove any debris.
Place mushrooms cap side down in a baking dish.
Heat cooked brown rice with minced garlic, Earth Balance and green onion until just warmed and fragrant.
Fill each cap with rice mixture.
Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes. (Grilling also works, but watch for sticking and tipping.)
Chived Polenta Triangles
5 cups of water (or vegetable broth)
1 ½ cups of corn meal
*sprinkling of flax seed or chives, for color
When water is boiling, add corn meal slowly, while stirring.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture is smooth and thick.
Pour into a large, shallow oven baking sheet. (Use parchment paper lining.)
Let cool until firm.
Cut into triangles and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, just before serving.
Takes approximately three minutes and is totally worth every second.
Ideal for: I cannot imagine a time inappropriate for a healthy, delicious serving of not ice cream.
3 cups frozen, sliced bananas (overly ripened)
½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/2 cup nut butter (I used a little cashew and a little almond.)
1/8 tea sea salt
1/4-1/3 cup agave nectar (I added this last, to get the right texture.)
handful cashews (I used raw because that’s what I had around. If you use salted cashews, maybe forego the earlier sea salt.)
This recipe saves me from the guilt of letting the bananas go past their prime and can be eaten all year; simply substitute your favorite frozen fruit when they are out of season.
Good spots for vegan specialty items in Atlanta:
Even Kroger has a special section for these items now.
Whitney is a vegan gluten-free personal chef and owner of Vinthea, a vegan and organic meal service that delivers to the Atlanta area. For more information about Vinthea, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vinthea.com.