• Tag Archives vegan
  • Vegan Sweet Potato ‘Yogurt’ Recipe

    Berry Vegan Yogurt

    Today I would like to share one of my favorite “serendipity” recipes with you.  The inspiration came from a mention in the FatFree Vegan Recipes forum regarding the use of sweet potatoes in smoothies. When I tried my hand at a similar recipe, it came out very thick and “creamy,” much more like a yogurt than a smoothie.

    There is something about the cooked starch of the sweet potato that gives body and texture to the product.  And the natural caramelization process during baking yields a sweet, slightly molasses-like flavor.

    My recipe is made with three simple ingredients, is naturally low-fat,  is super-easy to make, and tastes delicious.

    Feel free to improvise with ingredients you have on hand.  A friend of mine tried it with Coconut Milk beverage and said it was “yum!” The one thing to be sure to include is the sweet potato.

    Vegan Sweet Potato “Yogurt”

    Serves 2-3


    • 1 cup baked, cooled, peeled sweet potato
    • 3/4 to 1 cup non-dairy milk, depending on desired thickness (I prefer unsweetened Almond milk)
    • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit (such as raspberries, blueberries, banana, mango, etc.)


    Bake sweet potato at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes until fork-tender. Allow to cool.  Peel skin of sweet potato with your fingers.

    Place sweet potato, non-dairy milk and fruit in a high-speed blender and whirl until smooth.

    Serve immediately. Can be stored in tightly-covered container in refrigerator for 1-2 days.  This is delicious eaten as-is, or served over granola cereal. This would also make a fabulous food for babies and young children.

    Your turn: if you try this recipe, or a variation, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Be sure to leave me a comment or share your recipe below!

  • Why Go Veg?

    Broadway Bowl

    Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Dusti Arab of Minimalist Adventures. While I (Christianna) currently follow a vegan diet, I was a vegetarian for 30+ years prior to making the switch and I applaud anybody who makes a the conscious shift toward a plant-based diet.  I recently met Dusti over iced-coffee drinks in Portland and was charmed by her energy, enthusiasm and intelligence. She was very interested in vegetarianism at the time but had not yet made the switch.  As you will see in her post, her research into the issue resulted in a personal call to change.

    In Dusti’s words:

    I was not a vegetarian when I started writing this post.

    Christianna invited me to write a post regarding all of the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet. This was no small task, considering the amount of information on the topic, all of the fad diet sites, and my lack of knowledge of what it is like to be a vegetarian. To be sure, I have been living mostly meat-free for several years. I’ve been living by these silly, arbitrary rules I made for myself when it comes to buying meat. I only buy meat once a month, it is always free-range chicken, and I always feel guilty about it.

    In a country where we are regularly bombarded with commercials of who is offering the latest, juiciest, most massive burger or that rugged, manly voice telling us, “Beef is what’s for dinner,” it can seem very odd indeed for one to say that eating meat isn’t a part of their lifestyle choice. However, more often than ever, this is a common thing to hear among friends.

    Being vegetarian or vegan is as a much a way of life as it is a way to eat, and therein lies the difficulty for many would-be herbivores. But, why become vegetarian at all? Is it just a fad? Is it a way to lose weight? There are many questions regarding vegetarianism that I wanted to investigate.

    There are three main reasons to choose a vegetarian lifestyle.

    1. Health

    Personal health is a major motivating factor for many who become vegetarians. A little bit of research yields astounding results regarding the links from one’s health to a vegetarian diet. Rather than repeat all of the health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet, I will highlight some myths about veggie eating.

    Myth: Vegetarians don’t get enough protein or calcium.
    Wrong! See the protein myth debunked here and the calcium myth disproved here.

    Myth: You can’t get a complete set of nutrients from a vegetarian diet.
    This is way off base. In fact, most vegetarians consume a much more balanced set of nutrients with the help of charts like these.

    Myth: Athletes need more protein than a vegetarian diet can offer.
    There are lots of outstanding vegan athletes. Check out this guy. He’s awesome.

    2. Sustainability

    Sustainability and the environment are two major reasons for leaving out the meat. The meat industry pumps more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere than even the transportation industry, and that doesn’t even account for the thousands of miles it has to cross before the meat reaches the supermarket. The amount of grain fed to cattle is enough to feed the entire global population.

    Can you imagine the implications of that statement? If we stopped eating meat, we could theoretically feed the world’s population.

    While that is an ethical issue, it cannot be ignored in the sustainability factor either, because right now, we are not sustaining the human population, all other definitions of sustainability aside. Cattle are such a resource intensive food source, that eating it is the antithesis of any sustainability effort. If you were to do only one thing on your road to veggie living, I would recommend cutting out red meat. While chicken is resource intensive in comparison to vegetables and fruit, it is much less so than cattle.

    3. Ethics

    As has already been pointed out in the discussion on sustainability, the link between sustainability and ethics is unavoidable. Having an environmental ethic regarding the eating of meat cannot be fully brought to surface without acknowledging the unsustainable nature of the meat industry. However, the sustainability factor is not the key motivating ethical issue for many vegetarians. The treatment of the animals in these factory farms is atrocious. For more gruesome details, watch Food Inc. There is little more saddening than our treatment of other members of this planet in such a dehumanizing way, and the irony in that statement is intentional. We have no word to adequately describe what happens to those animals every single day.

    While it is discouraging and overwhelming to consider all of the effects of where are food comes from, it should also give us pause, because out of new knowledge can come a better understanding and change. By knowing we can change the way we live and eat in the name of the planet, respect for its other inhabitants, and the heath of our bodies, we can press forward with confidence as we pursue a vegetarian lifestyle.

    So, how do you get started with your vegetarian or vegan journey? Start here.

    Vegetarians, and especially vegans, can have a really difficult time finding support in their transition to meatless living. It’s ingrained in our culture to eat meat as part of our blatant, consumerist lifestyle, and choosing to refute such a basic cultural belief can be met with derision and a lack of understanding. Coming from the suburb of a suburb, I am familiar with not being able to find some unknown ingredient in a vegan recipe I found on the internet that the store clerk has never heard of. You usually get a funny look, and “If it’s not in the natural foods section, we don’t carry it.”

    I would like to invite everyone who reads this post and finds inspiration to join me in beginning a vegetarian journey. During this journey, there will be trials and perhaps strife in areas of our life that no longer match our beliefs, but it will be so fulfilling as it progresses. By embracing a way of life that respects the earth and its creatures, we may find ourselves living more in line with our ethical beliefs, in a way that benefits the planet and our own bodies.


    Dusti Arab is a student, mother, and writer of Minimalist Adventures.

    image: Broadway Bowl at Native Bowl Food Cart, Portland, OR © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

  • The Black Dress Challenge

    Black Dress Icon

    1 black dress, 31 days, go!

    I love a challenge and I love fashion. I also embrace minimalism.  And veganism. And philanthropy.  How, I thought, can I combine all these interests into one compelling project?

    Inspiration came from one of our dear readers, Meg, of Minimalist Woman. She happened to mention that she will be participating in Courtney Carver’s inspired Project 333: to wear 33 items for 3 months.

    Love it! But I wanted something even more focused, both in content and duration. After some contemplation, some assessment of my closet contents, and a flash of insight, Eureka!

    The Black Dress Challenge was born.


    I will wear the same little black (washable) dress every day for a month.

    I will be donning a dress I bought a couple of years ago. It is a comfy-yet-stylish and is made of an easy-care cotton/lycra blend. I’ll accessorize with things I already own and will not buy any clothing or fashion items for the entire month.


    October 1-31, 2010

    I’ve chosen the month of October because it is a fairly temperate month in my part of the world, making the wearing of a dress somewhat more feasible. It is also book-ended by World Vegetarian Day (October 1) and World Vegan Day (November 1), which provide a nice framework for the vegan aspect.


    1. To simplify my life
    2. To express creativity
    3. To get over my camera-shyness (I’ll be posting daily pics on a designated, soon-to-be-announced blog)
    4. To embrace vegan fashion
    5. And to contribute to a good cause (by donating the money I would have spent on clothes for the month).


    While I’m undertaking this as a personal challenge, I’d love to know if you would care to join me or participate in your own version of the Black Dress Challenge. Please let me know in the comments below.

  • How to Cook Quinoa

    fluffy quinoa

    Quinoa is a versatile grain* that is great-tasting, high in protein, and is one of the quickest whole grains to prepare. It can go from pantry to table in 20 minutes.

    My no-fail method takes the guess-work out of cooking quinoa and prevents accidental scorching of this wonderful grain.

    Simple Quinoa Instructions

    1. Measure 1 cup of quinoa into sieve or strainer with small holes.
    2. Rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove bitter-tasting saponins.
    3. Put quinoa in large sauce pan.
    4. Add enough filtered water to cover by 2-3 inches.
    5. Optional: toss in a vegetable bouillon cube.
    6. Bring water and quinoa to a boil.
    7. Turn heat down, and simmer at a low boil for 14-15 minutes.
    8. Remove quinoa from heat and drain into colander over the sink.
    9. Put drained quinoa into serving bowl and fluff with a fork.
    10. Season according to your preference (e.g., splash of liquid aminos; dash of sea salt; etc.) or use in your favorite recipe.

    Voila! Super-simple quinoa!

    This recipe works for any amount of quinoa. I just used 1 cup as an example. The secret is to use plenty of water for a good rolling boil without concern of boiling away all the water.

    * Technically, quinoa is a seed

    Your turn: Do you have a favorite quinoa recipe you’d like to share?

    image: Fluffy Quinoa © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

  • Crazy Cake Recipe

    crazy cakeThe idea of simple living is certainly not new. Many of our grandparents and our grandparents’ parents adapted to the Great Depression with clever and frugal recipes.

    My dear friend, Etta, recently shared her great-grannie’s depression-era crazy cake recipe with me and kindly allowed me to share it with you (thank you, Etta!)

    The cake is vegan, inexpensive, tasty without being too sweet, and super-easy.  Plus, there is one less bowl to wash because the entire cake is mixed in the cake pan itself.

    This cake is delicious served alone or with a light dusting of powdered sugar.  Grab a cup of tea or coffee, and you’re good to go!

    Crazy Cake – 9 servings

    8″ pan

    Mix in pan:

    1-1/2 cups unsifted flour

    1 cup sugar

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*

    With a spoon, form  3 wells in dry ingredients.  Add:

    Well #1: 6 Tablespoons canola oil

    Well #2: 1 teaspoon vanilla

    Well #3: 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

    Then pour 1 cup of COLD water over the top of all of the ingredients and mix well.

    Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).

    Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

    Invert on wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting into 9 squares.

    If desired, sprinkle with a light dusting of sifted powdered sugar.


    *I suggest using high-quality cocoa powder as this really enhances the flavor of the cake.  I use Bernard C’s unsweetened cocoa powder.

    Your turn: This is also a fun cake to make with children.  I’d love to have comments from anybody who bakes this crazy cake either alone or with their kids!

  • Edamame Hummus Recipe

    Edamame HummusI am happy to share a recipe I created that is quick, nutritious, simple and, if I may quote my husband, “delicious!” I call it Edamame Hummus. The hummus is a beautiful pistachio green color and the texture is very light.

    Edamame is another word for soybean. Nutritionally dense, edamame is rich in protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, omega fatty acids, folic acid, manganese and vitamin K. And edamame is now readily found in most grocery freezers.

    Edamame Hummus


    2 cups frozen, shelled edamame
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1/4 cup canola oil
    2 Tablespoons tahini
    2 Tablespoons water
    1/2 teaspoon salt


    Boil the shelled edamame in salted water for 4-5 minutes. Pour into colander and drain; run cold water over edamame to halt cooking and bring edamame to room temperature.

    Combine edamame, lemon juice, canola oil, tahini, water and salt in food processor and process for 5-6 minutes, scraping sides of bowl once during processing.

    Store Edamame Hummus in the refrigerator in a covered bowl for up to 3 days.

    Serving suggestions:

    This recipe is great served in pita pockets with crispy romaine lettuce and shredded carrot.

    It also works well as a dip with whole grain crackers or tortilla chips.

    For a gluten-free meal, smooth the edamame hummus onto brown rice tortillas. Add fresh baby spinach leaves. Roll up the tortillas and you’re good to go!

    Your turn: Let me know what you think. And do you have a favorite hummus recipe you’d care to share?

  • Quinoa Salad With Rice and Black Beans

    Quinoa SaladPart of living a simple lifestyle, for me and many others, includes eating low on the food chain. Following a plant-based diet leaves a smaller carbon footprint, is economical, is very healthy, and can be quite delicious.

    The following recipe uses simple ingredients and is forgiving to substitutions. It is nice to make ahead and then have on hand for a quick lunch or dinner. It would also work well at a potluck.

    Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is one of my favorite grains. Originating in the Andean region of Peru, it is high in protein, cooks relatively quickly, and tastes great either alone or mixed with other ingredients. It is also gluten-free and simple to digest. I probably serve quinoa in one form or another once a week. Fortunately, my family loves it, too.

    Quinoa Salad With Rice and Black Beans

    Makes 6 servings

    This recipe is based on Grant Butler’s recipe adaptation that appeared in Oregonlive.com.


    * 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
    * 1  14 1/2-ounce can vegetable broth (divided)
    * 1 teaspoon ground cumin (divided)
    * 1 cup cooked brown rice (for convenience, use frozen rice and simply reheat)
    * 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
    * 2 thin green onions, finely sliced
    * 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
    * 1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
    * 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn kernels
    * 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
    * 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
    * 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    * 2 tablespoons olive oil
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * Freshly ground black pepper
    * 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


    Put the quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse well with water. (This will remove the quinoa’s bitter coating.)

    In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa, 1 cup vegetable broth and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until the broth has been absorbed. Cool to room temperature.

    Meanwhile, prepare brown rice according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.

    Combine the quinoa and brown rice in a large bowl. Add the black beans, green onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, corn and (optionally) cilantro and jalapeno pepper.

    In a small jar put the lime juice, olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, salt, several grindings of black pepper and cayenne; cover and shake well to blend. Pour over the salad, mixing well. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

    Your turn:

    Have you eaten quinoa?  Did you like it? Also, if you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

  • Simple Vegan Quiche with Greens

    vegan spinach quicheI am always happy when I come across a recipe that is vegan, nutritious, simple, and delicious. Some recipes are vegan and nutritious; some are nutritious and delicious; some are delicious but complicated. And, of course, let’s not even discuss the recipes that are simple and nutritious but not-so-delicious… So to find something that has all four of these important qualities is like hitting the plant-based diet jackpot!

    And so it is with this scrumptious, easy-to-make, super-tasty and nutrient-dense Quiche with Greens recipe from Happy Herbivore. It uses extra-firm tofu in place of eggs and is versatile enough that you can use virtually any greens you happen to have on hand. (I used spinach). What a great way to use up those nearly-wilting leafy greens!

    Here is the link to the Quiche with Greens recipe at Happy Herbivore. Let me know if you try it!

    Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite vegan, nutritious, simple and delicious recipes?

  • My Minimalist ‘Aha!’ Moment

    It’s not that I woke up one day and suddenly decided to embrace the minimalist lifestyle. No, the dye was cast after the innocuous, or so we thought, decision to watch a documentary on the local on-demand-channel. It was a Friday night, January 15, 2010 to be exact, and we chose to view “Food, Inc.”, a movie we knew nothing about.

    So we watched. Having been a vegetarian for over thirty years, I went into the viewing fairly confident that the movie would probably affirm my choices and perhaps I would come away with a new insight or two. Oh, such sweet, simple naivete!

    My husband observed the movie from a somewhat detached vantage point while I watched with increasing horror and dismay.

    By the end of those 93 minutes, I knew I could not live in denial anymore. It was impossible “unknow” what I had learned. Like a cosmic light switch flipping in my awareness, I knew I had to make some changes so that I could live with integrity in my own skin. I adopted a vegan diet and a leather-free life-style then and there.
    The next day, I went to my closet and began pulling things out.

    Good-bye salmon-colored designer sandals with the clear, round Lucite-bubble heel; good-bye taupe knee-high, western-style boots; good-bye aqua-hued, faux-crocodile mules; good-bye woven red leather chunk-heel sandals; good-bye black mary-jane flats with the leather flower accent on the ankle strap purchased at a summer sale in Paris. Good-bye dark chocolate brown boots with the ultra-pointy toe.

    Good-bye cherry-red leather gloves lined with gray rabbit fur.

    Good-bye numerous leather coats and suede jackets and elegant handbags and turquoise padded opera-style wallet that snapped shut with a reassuring ‘click.’

    Bye-bye Leather

    It was with a mixture of relief (mostly) and regret (a twinge, but hey, some of these items were kinda chic) that I donated all of these items to Dress for Success, a nonprofit group which provides professional clothing to help low-income women successfully enter the workforce. It took more than one trip.

    Afterward, as I glanced in my closet, I felt a sense of peace. The first round of purging had left a little bit of space between my hangers and I could actually see where the back walls met the floor.

    And I knew that my work had just begun.