Healthier BeyondMeat Meets GlutenFree Vegan Risotto all Day Long

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risotto with spinach

For the new year Jen and I decided to kick up our vegan diet aย notch and go full-on, whole-food plant-based (WFPB). Being vegan was just becoming too easy (also, I had to wean myself from french fries somehow and this seemed like a great time). We’re sticking to this every day of the year with the exception of the first of the month and special events (potlucks) and holidays (Groundhog Day, Arbor Day, etc.).

So far, we’ve successfully made it through Day One with the help of this delicious and very simple risotto. This creamy recipe is 100% WFPB (until you add the optional, but totally worth it, BeyondMeat chicken strips at the very end).

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (risotto rice)
  • One 38 oz. container of vegan vegetableย stock
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • One 6 oz. package of triple washed organic baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (nooch)
  • One package of BeyondMeat grilled “chicken” strips (defrosted)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large non-stick cooking pan add 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock and bring to a boil (you can also use a tablespoon of EEOV here but that’s not on our diet … damn it). Add the chopped onions, garlic, and mushrooms andย sautรฉ until soft (about five minutes, stirring). Stir in the arborio rice and cook for an additional five minutes over medium-high heat, coating the rice (you’ll start to hear popping sounds … since this recipe is poppin’).

Pour in one cup of the vegetable stock and lower the heat to medium. Stir constantly and with purpose. From here on out you’re going to be feeding the rice the vegetable stock and stirring (adding ingredients along the way). It’s an excellent arm workout.

Once the first cup of liquid has been absorbed, add a second cup (see what I mean?). After the third cup, add the chopped basil and the spinach (the spinach is going to look huge in the pan but will cook down as you introduce it to the rice and stock). See what I mean?

spinach

Once the spinach has been completely incorporated, add another cup of vegetable stock. This entire “feed the risotto vegetable stock” process will take approximately 40 minutes (and you will end up using the entire carton of stock). After the final drops of vegetable stock have been added, stir in the nooch until full incorporated (you should have a creamy, cheesy texture at this point). If it seems like it needs more liquid, add a little water or squeeze a half a lemon into it (citrus gives any dish a burst of flavor and freshness).

Test the texture of the rice (perfect, isn’t it?) and finish off by stirring inย the whole package of torn BeyondMeat chicken strips into the finished risotto. Heat for an additional five minutes until the BeyondMeat has warmed up. Salt and pepper to taste. If you want … top with some vegan parmesan and a sprig of basil. Your friends are going to be so impressed by you: 1) You made a delicious gluten-free vegan risotto; 2) You topped it with a sprig of basil which is called “garnish” and you’ve never done that before.

They’re all impressed and, after dining on this dish, they’ll allย want to #GoVegan.

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LOVE this recipe?ย Want more like it? Pre-order The Skeptical Vegan NOW! Available at Amazon.comย and Barnes and Noble! More than 25 of myย favorite meaty dishesย … veganized and made simple!

Pumpkin Hill Bistro: 30 Minutes from Ithaca but a Million Miles Away

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Drive up Route 34 to Route 90 toward Aurora, NY, and you’ll pass two exceptional wineries as you come up on a bistro unlike anything you can experience anywhere else. Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard, a 30-minute drive from Cornell Campus is situated on a grassy hill and vineyard overlooking Cayuga Lake. The old farmhouse is welcoming with its outdoor, indoor, upstairs and downstairs seating.

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Jen decided to take us there for the first time forย a very special occasion … it was Sunday and we were hungry and wanted to try something new. She called ahead and found out that the Executive Chef, Cookie, would accommodate our gluten-free and vegan diet. And she did. She really did.

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Our meal was comprised of a starter of hummus and olive tapenade with homemade fresh out of the oven gluten-free vegan toasted bread triangles. This was one of those moments when I asked the server 5-6 times if they knew what gluten-free vegan meant … because this bread was that good.

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I ordered a black cup of coffee that was also delicious and our main course consisted of black bean burgers stacked high with vegetables on Cookie’sย homemade gluten-free vegan buns that were so good … I had to ask the server 5-6 times again if she knew what “gluten-free vegan” meant. She did.

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The entire meal was fantastic. Truly beyond anything we could ever get in Ithaca (which is known for its amazing restaurants for omnivores). Besides the ambiance, the flavors, the company, and the location … what made this trip so special and this meal so memorable was, Cookie.

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She takes such pride in what she is preparing. She later mentioned to us that she believesย everyoneย should enjoy what they are eating and not be limited by what they can/not eat. She is what every chef should be … passionate about her food and focused on the patrons.

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The entire day was so great, we vowed to return and return we did. Calling the morning before we left lets Cookie know to pre-make the gluten-free vegan rolls and to let the servers know we’re coming. We asked her to make extra rolls this time so we could bring a half dozen home. This time I ordered the grilled portobello burger and a side of rosemary-infused gluten-free pasta and Jen got the black bean burger again with homemade kettle chips. All of it was so good. I also love that these vegan burgers are served with aย steak knife and homemade vegan mayo. ย Every item offered on the menu is made from scratch.

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The meal was just as delicious on our second visit and the waitstaff just as attentive. There are very few restaurants we have visited that are this accommodating and generous with their time. While Ithaca may boast an incredible diversity of dining options for omnivores, we were hard-pressed to think of one place that would put this much effort into two (and a half) gluten-free vegan patrons. I cannot recommend Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard enough.

One other important thing to note: the owner is vegan. Boom.

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We’ll go back.

Go vegan.

DFMavens. Why Does Everything Amazing Come from Queens, NY?

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DF Maven Ice Cream

Earlier this year there was some buzz on Cornell campus by the Cornell Vegan Society about this “new” vegan ice cream’s availability at a few locations around the university. I shrugged it off thinking this would be “just another dairy-free dessert” and didn’t really make it a priority to try it. The dairy-free frozen dessert I’m referring to is DF Mavens and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t discover it months ago since that would be been another 5-10 quarts I would have consumed since then.

It’s pretty amazing.

We were lucky enough to buy a variety of flavors at the Ivy Room and sample each and eventually devour them. From their Madagascar Vanilla Bean to their New Orleans Salted Praline to my personal favorite, the Mint Almond Cookie. We took home 5-6 quarts and some minis and have been getting fatter by the minute. You can browse all their offerings on their beautiful website.

And, with the variety of varieties they offer ranging from soy to coconut, to no sugar and almond, they also cover all the common allergens so that everyone on the planet can enjoy their desserts. This isย veryย important to the future of our planet, after all.

Something else amazing about this company? They give back. A portion of their proceeds goes to Mercy for Animals, so you know this company backs up what they believe in.

But what’s most exciting about DF Mavens? It’s comes fromย New York. As in, New York City. As in, the borough of Queens. Which, as it turns out … is also where I come from.

A little meaty vegan to be in Queens, NY (1969)

This is me in 1969 in Queens Village at my secondย birthday with my Nana, my mom, and my big sister who also blogs about being vegan. Our little sister is inside my mom and would make an appearance in August of that year.

If only DF Mavens were around back then, it would have gone great with that cake!

Go vegan.

Who Wants: Gluten-free Vegan Steamy Stretchy Homemade Bready Goodness?

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On Jen’s request this weekend I made a loaf of my gluten-free, vegan bread. This also gave me the opportunity to portion out the ingredients for testing since this is the bread that I am taking to market and last night’s loaf is a testament to it’s steamy, stretchy, yeasty goodness that I know those living wheat-free will love.

IMG_5812I put aside all the dry ingredients, and one yeast package, with hand-written instructions for a newly-diagnosed Celiac I know who works at Cornell University. She is going to test my recipe for ease of preparation and to see if this satisfies the one major craving most wheat-free individuals are seeking: really good bread.

IMG_5818This loaf turned out particularly good and we couldn’t wait for it to cool before slicing into it. I always (after learning the hard way) check the center temperature of a loaf of bread (205ยฐ) for doneness. Tapping on the bottom is for the real experts, sticking a thermometer into the middle … well, that guarantees success every time.

IMG_5820This is the kind of real bread that makes people who are gluten-free ask a few times, “are you sure this is gluten-free?”

IMG_5827When these initial test results come back, I will price out all the ingredients, create some stunning packaging, and offer it to the masses. All you will need on your end is a mixer (standing preferred), 4 X 8 loaf pan, 1 1/2 cups of warm water, and 3 T of olive oil. Oh, and an oven.

IMG_5833With last night’s loaf I made another VioLife grilled cheese sandwich (this time with their Olive Oil flavor). I know I am prone to be hyperbolic, but this was the best grilled cheese I ever had. I later followed it up with a piece of toast topped with Manna Organics’ Coconut Cashew Butter. Delicious!

Think you’d like to purchase this gluten-free, vegan bread for yourself? Fill out this form and I will put you on my list to let you know when it’s ready to go!

Go vegan.

No one has ever been told to ‘cut back on eating vegetables.'”

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“No one has ever been told to ‘cut back on eating vegetables.'”

~ Meaty Vegan

Summer Whole Food and Vegan-Style Dinner Party

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I attended a cooking class tonight at our local co-op featuring vegan and gluten free recipes for a summer dinner party. Got to sample carrot ginger soup, sweet and sour red beans, mixed salad with lemon poppy seed dressing as well as an amazing strawberry shortcake dessert.

The class was conducted by Priscilla Timberlake, the co-author of The Great Life Cookbook, which I use on a regular basis for most of our vegan potlucks. She and her husband, Lewis Freedman, have hosted a Macro Vegan Dinner in their home for 18 years and we go every Friday that we are in town. If you’re visiting Cornell or Ithaca, NY on a Friday … you must attend.