What is The Vegan(ish) Experiment?

Our family (me, my husband D, and our four-year-old Molly) started 2009 with a mostly-vegan, macrobiotic-inspired diet (although I have to admit, the strict macro rules have pretty much gone out the window). I have seen a marked improvement in my chronic migraines, and I'm enjoying proving that we can make amazing, mouth-watering, memorable food without animal products. For a more in-depth intro, click here.

I stopped updating this blog quite awhile back, when life got in the way. I'm still keeping a mostly vegan kitchen, though, and loving it. Have fun browsing my recipes!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 151: Spinach and Fiddleheads Siciliano

We had a wonderful trip to Los Angeles last weekend, and when I came back, I had to bring my laptop to the Apple Store for repairs. I still haven't gotten it back (it's been 5 days, and they said 5-7 days), so I finally broke down and am writing this post on our desktop at home. (And, just as I had first started this post several hours ago, our iMac started to crash ... I had to find the startup disk in the basement and repair the main volume of the hard drive before I could finish. Sheesh.)

Have you tried fiddleheads? They are baby ferns, only available for a few short weeks starting in May. They look funny, but they are oh-so-tasty. I think they smell kind of like asparagus, but D doesn't agree with me - so you'll just have to try them yourself to see, if you can still find some now that June is upon us! This recipe is inspired by the Escarole Siciliano from AllRecipes.

Spinach and Fiddleheads Siciliano

1/2 bag (5 oz.) spinach
1 lb. fiddleheads
2 T. capers
6-10 olives, chopped
2 T. canola oil
lemon juice to taste
fresh-ground black pepper

  1. Wash the fiddleheads well - I tend to scrub them with my fingers to get all the grimy stuff off. (This is the step that takes the longest!)
  2. Trim any ends off of the fiddleheads that stick out more than half an inch or so. There shouldn't be any long stems.
  3. Heat canola oil over high heat in an extra large sauté pan or large pot.
  4. Stir-fry the fiddelheads until they start to become fragrant (maybe you'll think they smell like asparagus, but maybe you won't) - about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add spinach and toss well. Cook for another couple of minutes, until spinach is wilted down.
  6. Remove from heat, add capers and olives, and season with lemon juice and pepper until desired taste is achieved.
That's it! Super-easy and SO good.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 138: Comfort Food - Pasta Primavera!

One of my favorite comfort food dishes before I went vegan was (I'm so ashamed to admit this) the Campbell's Soup version of Chicken Primavera, made with good ol' Cream of Mushroom. Campbell's is not the most natural product, to say the least. We always got the Healthy Request style soups, because they did not have MSG ... but they did have all kinds of additives to make up for less fat and salt.

So, when I was feeling under the weather last week, I really wanted some comfort food. I decided to adapt the Chickpea Divan recipe from Vegan Spoonful, because its vegan roux makes the base for a really nice creamy sauce.

The verdict: This recipe came together quickly, and I liked it a lot. But not as much as I would've liked it if it had a ton of Parmesan in it, like the original Campbell's recipe. Oh well. I don't really want to go down the road of soy cheese - I try to keep my processed-food intake limited to soy milk and tofu. Maybe next time I will try it with some nutritional yeast, though. Donal thought the sauce was too bland - I didn't agree, but he likes things really spicy or otherwise full of flavor. He added some Vietnamese hot sauce to it, and liked it that way. To each his own!

Be warned: this recipe makes a LOT! Feel free to cut it in half.

Pasta Primavera with Chickpeas


3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. garlic powder
2 t. salt
1 t. dry thyme
1/2 t. white pepper
1/2 c. vegan margarine
4 c. vegetable broth
1 bag frozen mixed veggies, whatever mixture you like
1 can chickpeas
1/3 c. white wine
1 c. unsweetened soy milk
1 box whole-wheat pasta (we only had couscous, but I would've preferred it on a large pasta like farfalle or penne)
chopped parsley to garnish

  1. Begin cooking pasta according to package directions.
  2. Mix the flour, garlic powder, salt, thyme, and pepper.
  3. Melt the margarine over medium heat. When melted, add the flour mixture. Stir well.
  4. Add vegetable broth. Whisk until all lumps are gone.
  5. Add frozen veggies and chickpeas. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce becomes bubbly and thick.
  6. When thickened, remove sauce from heat and add white wine and soy milk. Season with black pepper and additional salt if needed, pour over pasta, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Day 131: The Best Tempeh Tacos

I know I've been doing a lot of Mexican food, but I make no apologies! Hopefully some of my readers like it as much as I do.

These tempeh tacos, which I made with the same Spanish rice I blogged last week, were really good. Better than the ones I made back in January, and definitely an easy dish that we will make again and again. The marinading process means planning ahead is a necessity, but once it's time to cook the tempeh, it comes together very quickly.

The Best Tempeh Tacos

1 (8-oz.) package of tempeh
2 t. dry minced onion
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. oregano
1 t. ground cumin
1 T. tamari (or 4 1/2 t. soy sauce)
2 T. lime juice
2 T. water
2 T. canola oil

Taco shells (I use Bearitos brand, which has no hydrogenated oils or artificial anything)
Other taco fixin's (our fridge was pretty bare, so we just used canned refried beans and salsa. Lettuce or other greens would've been nice, though - or my tangy jicama slaw would have been heavenly!)

  1. Slice the tempeh into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Place tempeh in a small pot and cover with water. Boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients except oil. This is your marinade.
  4. Take tempeh out of the water and place in a ziploc bag with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least an hour (I did more like 4 hours)
  5. When finished marinating, heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry tempeh until browned on one side. Flip and brown the other side.
  6. Assemble tacos. We heated the shells in at 350° F (about 170° C) for five minutes, lined them with warm refried beans, put a couple of sticks of tempeh in each shell, and covered in salsa.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Day 124: Super-Easy Spanish Rice and Chimichangas

I'm back, and thanks so much to everyone who left sympathy remarks on my last post.

Recently, it was a weeknight and I didn't have any food planned. During the weeks before my mother-in-law passed away, we were spending almost all of our free time at the hospital. Things like meal-planning went by the wayside.

We were in the mood for Mexican food, so I whipped up this:

Super-Easy Spanish Rice and Chimichangas

This meal took about 30 minutes, and was so good. (I wonder if the fact that my "super-easy meals" are often Mexican-inspired is due to my hometown being 10 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border? Not that these recipes are authentic!) This meal was little more fatty than most stuff we cook, but a nice treat when we were in the need of some comfort food. You can always forego frying the chimichanga, and just have it as a burrito, if you want to reduce the fat content.

Super-Easy Spanish Rice

1 family-sized bag of instant brown rice (I use Success brand, and love it - one bag makes 3 cups rice)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 small (8.5-oz.) can of corn
1-1.5 cups chunky salsa (I used the fresh kind available in the produce section)
1 T. canola or olive oil
Chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions (it takes about 15 minutes, including waiting for the water to boil)
  2. While rice is cooking, chop onion and brown in oil, in a medium saucepan, over medium heat.
  3. One minute before rice is done, add peas to onions. Stir.
  4. When rice is done, add rice, corn, and salsa. Stir over medium heat until heated through.
  5. If desired, or if your cilantro hasn't gone bad like mine had (grr!), remove from heat and stir in chopped cilantro.

Super-Easy Chimichangas

4 whole-wheat tortillas (warm in microwave for 20 seconds if not soft)
1 can refried black beans (I use Amy's or Bearitos, whichever is cheaper, and love both)
1 cup salsa verde (I'm faithful to the $3 kind from Trader Joe's)
3 T. canola oil

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high.
  2. Stir salsa into black beans.
  3. Distribute black beans equally onto all four tortillas.
  4. Roll burritos. Fry in oil until browned on one side, turn, and brown the other side.
  5. Serve with more salsa.


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