Monday, December 1, 2014

The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Kolaches (Dough + Filling) Recipes

I had been begging my mother for two and a half years to make me some vegan kolaches. My family heritage is Czech, and I grew up watching my grandmother and now my own mother bake large batches of kolaches in the kitchen. I'm Texan and this is a big deal down where I'm from. I finally planned a full day to attempt a batch of vegan kolaches, and these have been given the stamp of approval by my Czech grandmother (who still speaks Czech!). She gobbled them up and when I said they were vegan, all she said was, "Ain't it?"

Special thanks goes out to Helen Pitlik of for giving me permission to share her own dough recipe that I slightly modified. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe!

Vegan Kolache Dough
yields 4 dozen small kolaches

2 cups lukewarm non-dairy milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 packages dry yeast
1/3 cup oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups flour, divided
4 Tbsp. vegan butter

1. Add sugar to lukewarm milk and stir in yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for a few minutes until foamy.
2. Stir in oil, 3 cups flour, and salt and mix until combined. Stir in remaining 3 cups of flour.
3. Shape into ping pong–sized balls and place on a greased baking pan about 1 inch apart. Let rise until more or less doubled in size (about two hours).
4. Press down centers on "wet" side that was facing down on your pan with your thumb and fill with desired filling.
5. Let rise again for another hour.
6. Brush the tops with melted vegan butter and bake at 350° for 15–18 minutes.

Filling options
1 can poppyseed filling
1 package Beyond Meat Grilled Chick'n
1 package Tofurkey Roast Beef
1 package Daiya Cheddar or Swiss cheese
Cream cheese with popsika (instructions below)
1/2 can cherry pie filling

Cream Cheese Filling
yields filling for 20 kolaches

1 package Tofutti Better Than Cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla

1. Soften cream cheese in microwave for 30 seconds.
2. Blend together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
3. After following steps 1–3 for the kolache dough, press down centers of the risen dough with a spoon to create a small "bowl".
4. Add filling mixture and top with popsika (directions below).

Now onto the topping for the fruit kolaches. This was always something my grandmother let me do, and I honestly have no idea what popsika even translates to. My cousin calls it "The Crumble", so whatever works!

Popsika (The "Crumble") for Fruit-Filled Kolaches
yields topping for 3 dozen fruit kolaches

1/4 cup vegan butter
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup flour

1. Blend ingredients together with a fork until it begins to crumble. Continue to add equal amount of sugar and flour until crumble is achieved
2. Sprinkle over the top of the fruit-filled kolaches.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Recipe: Vegan Protein-Packed Crockpot Bean Chili

After visiting with my midwife at my six-month checkup, I asked her about the growth of my baby. I had noticed she was slightly below average in size and I had gained a whopping seven pounds since my last checkup. The midwife suggested I upped my protein and bean intake, so the next morning, I set out to grab some ingredients to make a protein-packed bean chili that could satisfy my hunger and also provide some great nutrition for the baby. We tossed together the recipe below and it couldn't have been easier.

Vegan Protein-Packed Bean Chili
Yields 8 servings

1 onion, chopped
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can petite diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1-1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
1-1/2 cup 365 Everyday Organics rice and lentil medley (sold at Whole Foods)
2 Tbl. chili powder
1 Tbl. cumin
1/2 tsp. cilantro leaves (dried) or 1/2 cup fresh
1 tsp. cinnamon
dash vanilla
dash cayenne
less than 1/4 cup brown sugar

1. Turn crockpot on at low setting.
2. Carmelize onions in pan and add to crockpot with chopped celery and diced tomatoes.
3. Microwave 1 cup water for three minutes.
4. Place TVP into a bowl. Pour microwaved cup of water over stir together until well combined. Add to crockpot.
5. Add rice and lentil medley to crockpot and stir well.
6. Add in spices and remaining water.
7. Cook for 4 hours at low setting.
8. Add the pinto beans and black beans to the pot and stir together.
9. Cook for an additional one hour and then serve with crackers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vegaprocity Interview + Intro to a New Vegan Community

When I first went vegan, I certainly wasn't the most tolerant. I would even say most people weren't tolerant of my choice. That's why I love the idea of Vegaprocity, an online vegan community which offers news, recipes, discussions, and the latest vegan product announcements for vegans and veg-curious readers. This worldwide community offers a place to shed some light on the vegan lifestyle and fosters open-mindedness and the willingness to learn and explore new perspectives. It's a place that will allow an open, nonjudgmental platform to practice Vegaprocity (see definition below).

Check it out and see how the site is aiming to create a healthier, more beautiful, and more compassionate world!

Did I mention they have started a great inventory of vegan recipes for those who are looking for some yummy meals? Keep an eye out for new content as the community grows or join in on a discussion!

veg·a·proc·i·ty [veeg-uh-pros-i-tee] noun

1.   A reciprocal state or relation between health-, environmental-, and/or animal-conscious vegans and/or the vegan-curious.

2.   Vegaprocation: mutual, reciprocal exchange between vegans, eager to work together to create a sustainable, cooperative, and more compassionate world.

3.   The relation or policy in commercial and/or personal dealings between vegans, both from the same and from differing cultures, by which opportunities, information, news, recipes and mutual support are granted by each vegan to other vegans, and/or to the vegan-curious.

2014: English vegan (1940s) + Latin reciprocity (1760s)

Check them out online! | LinkedIn | Google+ | Twitter | Facebook

The Little Red Journal (LRJ): What made you want to create this site?

Vegaprocity (VP): After going to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary and meeting farm animals up close for the first time, I started to do more research on how my lifestyle was impacting animals— both human and nonhuman—and our environment. After watching tons of videos and reading lots of articles, I was truly shocked at how much I didn’t know about the food I was raised on and continued to eat.

After making the decision to become vegan, I wanted to help the movement to bring veganism mainstream. I wasn’t sure exactly how I could do that because my work takes up a lot of time and energy and I had a lot of other responsibilities. I also feel that I am more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person. All of these things made me decide to start a website to educate people in a nonjudgmental environment, as I had witnessed the damage that vegans who harshly criticized others did for the cause. I am not saying criticism isn’t sometimes warranted, but in many cases, it made the situation worse. I can empathize with people who act that way, but I try my best not to because it has been proven in human psychology that this strategy is highly ineffective and repels people even further away from your viewpoint.

LRJ: How long have you been vegan? 

VP: I have been vegan since the beginning of this year (around January–February 2014).

LRJ: What are some of the challenges that the vegan community faces? 

VP: I think the vegan community has a bad stigma because one of the first things people think of is PETA. PETA tends to stand out because of their high publicity and sometimes controversial tactics. I personally think PETA as a whole is a great organization and has arguably been the most impactful in fighting for animal rights.

I also think that there is a lack of information and a lot of misinformation out there. The dairy and meat industry did a very good job of marketing their products to us from a very young age. This holds true for our parents, as well. It can be very hard for people to accept that they have been lied to or have been misinformed their entire lives. With something as intimate as food, I think that multiplies the complexity of the conundrum. 

LRJ: What do you hope to see with the Vegaprocity community? 

VP: I hope to see a community where people can learn about the vegan lifestyle and also learn why people choose to become vegan. I think a lot of people really don’t understand the extensive list of negative impacts their diet creates. I am hopeful that when they do learn the truth, many will start to make positive lifestyle changes, or become fully vegan. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Not Your Average Smoothie: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

It's fall and I'm pregnant. That means I have weird cravings for all things pumpkin. I was recently contacted by Williams-Sonoma with a challenge to create "Not Your Average Smoothie". My response? Challenge accepted.

I wanted to incorporate an unexpected ingredient and thought of the pie crust in a pumpkin pie. A graham cracker is blended into the smoothie and the spices meld together perfectly for a quick ode to my favorite Thanksgiving dessert. Since I am plant-based, I opted for almond milk and vegan cream cheese (yet another unexpected ingredient). The banana gives the smoothie a creamy texture and can hardly be tasted amongst the pumpkin puree.

Fun fact: Since it was so late at night when I wrote this recipe, I didn't want to disturb my roomies. I ended up using an immersion blender instead of my standard blender. It was much quieter and I was surprised at how quickly it blended the bananas into the smoothie!

Try out this recipe the next time you crave this fall favorite. If you have a variation, I'd love to hear it! For now, enjoy this early Thanksgiving treat.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
yields 2 cups

1 frozen banana
3/4 c, pumpkin puree
2/3 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp. vegan cream cheese
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 large graham cracker
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of cloves
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of allspice

1. Cut the banana into smaller pieces and add pumpkin, milk, cream cheese, and agave nectar.
2. Crumble the graham cracker into the smoothie and blend in spices.
3. Serve chilled with topping options below.

Topping Options
Soyatoo soy whip cream
Crumbled graham cracker
Cherry (Because, why not?)

Tried this recipe and realize you have extra pumpkin? Double up on your desserts and make a batch of Pumpkin Spice Oat cookies.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

We're Having A Baby Girl! [Weeks 19-22.5]

I've known now for more than two weeks that we're having a little girl. I won't lie, y'all... I was in complete shock to find out this news! For whatever reason, my husband and I were sure it was a boy. Maybe it was the 70% change the ultrasound tech mentioned at our 12-week (yep, I now know that's way too early to make a call like that!) ultrasound. But alas, it's a baby girl.

I was beyond excited to schedule our 20-week ultrasound, and it just so happens that I hit my 20-week mark just five days before my fourth wedding anniversary. While scheduling the ultrasound, I knew I could either find out two days later (on October 13th) or wait until the day of my anniversary (October 16th). I felt this occasion would be the best way to spend our anniversary, so we booked it for the afternoon and I took a half day off from work!

I had never imagined in my mind that it would be a girl, so up until that point, I was only daydreaming about baseball games and what sort of fun I'd be having with my son. So to hear, "It's a girl!" during the ultrasound was like, "Wait, wut?!" moment for me. After about two minutes of sheer shock (and admittedly a little denial), I looked at my husband and said, "a little girl!".

Since I knew it was a boy from the beginning, I told my husband he could choose the girl name (haha). We're naming our daughter Eleanor Jane. I was so excited once it finally set in. It all became so real. We even saw her yawn during the ultrasound. After the hour and half we spent at the ultrasound, I headed straight for Target to update my registry. I had a sudden urge to add a few hairbows to the list.

I was surprised to see they offered us 3D photos at no extra cost, and I hope you all can handle seeing them! My husband personally finds them a little strange looking, but when it's your own child, you think they are gorgeous. Ha, enjoy or scroll past!

I have a baby shower coming up in the next week and a half, so I purchased some pink gift bags for the ladies who are hosting the shower. It consists of a Hello Kitty bag (what else would be more appropriate or girlie than that?!), a reusable plastic clear cup with none other than pink dots, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and a bottle of pink wild berry shower gel.

I also had some work events to attend recently at NASA Space Center Houston and I snapped a selfie and posed while my coworker captured me standing in front of the "shuttle". Fun times, but I realized how BIG I look from the side! These pictures were both taken at 21.5 weeks.

For Halloween, we decided to dress up as a 50s housewife and the milkman. Get it?!

You can also see my herbie tattoo pretty well through my thin shirt, and I'm happy to report both of my tattoos still look great (fingers cross they will stay that way).

And for the lesson of the day, don't ever, ever, ever trust what they tell you at 12 weeks. Also, it's a good idea to wait until they KNOW FOR SURE what you're having before you do something crazy like write in your baby's book about how you chose their name. Learn from me, people.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vegan Texas Veggie Bowl Recipe

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but I've finally had a chance to jot down the recipe and snap some quick photos (apologies for the quality!). This has recently been featured on the HappyCow blog, where I do some guest blogging every once in a while.

When it comes to lunch, I would rather bring something into the office than leave for an hour and spend more money. Since I'm frugal and plant-based, there are only so many options within a five-mile radius of my office. If I'm really in a pinch for time during my rush of leaving the house in the morning, I'll take a quick five minutes to toss together this recipe. This yields enough food for at least three to four days, and is a healthy alternative to the quick lunches I would otherwise be taking.

I've also included a few quick variations at the end to change it up if you become tired of the same old recipe. You can always switch out the veggies or play around with the spices, but this is a quick recipe that will not fail you when time is not on your side! Of course, it wouldn't be a true Texan dish if it didn't include BBQ sauce, so be sure to use this as a "dressing".

Vegan Texas Veggie Bowl Recipe
Yields 4 large servings

1/2 bag frozen corn
1/2 bag frozen green beans
1 bag microwavable whole gain rice (Uncle Ben's)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 tbsp. Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning

1. Microwave bag of rice per instructions on package.
2. Toss all ingredients together on large bowl.

3. Serve warm with BBQ sauce "dressing".

2 links of Tofurky Italian Sausages, chopped
6 strips of Beyond Meat's Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips, chopped
BBQ sauce topping
Substitute 1 large bag of mixed veggies
1 bag chopped spinach

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interview with Tofurky Founder Seth Tibbott: Living 7 Years in a Treehouse

A couple of years ago, I reached out to Tofurky confessing my love for their products and asked if anyone would be willing to give me an interview for my blog. I never imagined that I would receive such a positive response, and certainly didn't expect the company's founder, Seth Tibbott, to respond. He was a sweet, down-to-earth guy who shared his story with me and told me how he went from making tempeh to building one of the top vegan companies that come to my mind when I think of plant-based options!

He shared his story openly, and I was so excited to interview him. Then he mentioned he had lived in a treehouse. Say what?! I was intrigued and quickly asked him another set of questions that I hoped to one day share here as my interest in minimalism and financial savviness grew. I've been meaning to post this for nearly a full year now, and I finally have sat down and finished this post! Better late than never, and you'll love his story.

To read the full interview about Tofurky's company history that I had previously posted, click here.

The Little Red Journal (LRJ): How did you go about renting a tree to build your treehouse?

Seth Tibbott (ST): In 1985 I was making tempeh as a cottage industry in the small town of Husum, WA. My take home pay was $300/month and I needed a place to stay. I proposed a deal with a neighbor to rent three trees for $25/month, build a treehouse, and when I moved out, the treehouse became part of their property. I spent about $2,000 on the house and lived in it for seven years.

LRJ: What gave you the idea to build a treehouse?

ST: My friend Kirk Hoessele had built a really cool treehouse in a nearby town. I admired his house and thought, "This could work for me." Unbeknownst to me, another friend was building a treehouse in Husum (population 80) at the same time. We didn't find out about each other's treehouses until they were well underway.

LRJ: Did you gradually update as the years passed, or did you build out the treehouse completely in the beginning?

ST: The thing about a treehouse is you always keep building onto it. I added the third story coupola about two years after moving in. Just before moving out, I started building a cool pathway through the forest canopy but never finished it. The "treehouse peehouse" was added rather soon after moving in.

LRJ: Did you ever have guests in your home, and if so, where did they sleep?

ST: I had room to sleep two to four visitors. Downstairs there was a window seat that folded out into a double bed that you screwed legs onto (I had learned this trick from my father) and upstairs in the coupola I added another fold out bed.

LRJ: What do you miss about living in the treehouse?

ST: I miss the nightly visits from the flying squirrels who would land on the side of the house and poke their heads up to my bedroom window. That and gentle swaying of the house in the wind at night.

LRJ: Where do you currently reside? Are you still living in a small space?

ST: Currently, my wife and I live in a relatively small house of about 1,600 square feet, which is a lot bigger than the 264 square feet of the treehouse. There is a creek on one side of the house and a 12,000-foot mountain on the other side, so it's not a bad alternative to the treehouse at all. There is a small cottage about the size of my treehouse that my son stays in when he comes home from college.

Note from The Little Red Journal: Thank you Seth for taking the time to chat with me about the experience of living in a treehouse! It's so inspiring to hear a story of simple living.
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