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Author: Nate

I’m a blue-collar, no-frills, vegan cable guy trying to show the world
how health is not just relegated to those that can afford it, or for the
typical health nut. My cholesterol was once at dangerous levels, life
defying levels, and I made the change to a plant based diet. I started
running, quit smoking cigarettes and now, in my 40’s, I am in the
best shape of my life. The bonus is, it doesn’t cost what you think it
is, all it takes is commitment to a new lifestyle. Ⓥ #vegan #deathracer #ultrarunner #nespahtens #shvp

Book Review: No Meat Athlete Cookbook

This is the long-awaited follow-up to the EXTREMELY successful “No Meat Athlete: Run on Plants and Discover Your Fittest, Fastest, Happiest Self” (which I had the opportunity to review here). Since then the whole NMA (No Meat Athlete) movement has exploded. There are chapters of folks who get together weekly for runs, workouts and vegan potluck meetups. You can open up Instagram and search the #nomeatathlete tag and see all sorts of folks rocking NMA gear with smiling faces and sweaty brows; it’s a good group of folks to follow. NMA is global!

The cookbook is one of the most beautiful I have seen. I appreciate good print jobs and layout/ graphic work, having worked in that industry for years before being a cable guy. I think going the extra mile sets one cookbook apart from the other. I appreciate a good recipe, I do; but I also like to see what the dish is supposed to look like so I can compare and see if my skill is on par with what I think it might be. Most of the time it is because I love cooking, other times it’s a complete wreck and I can’t toss it in the garbage quick enough.

There’s a quick foreword written by Rich Roll, an intro written by Matt and an introduction to his co-author, Stepfanie. You get tips from the both authors, as well as a daily recommendation of certain foods (similar to Dr Gregers daily dozen). One thing that is really pushed here, that I have yet to really transition away from, is the need to drop oils. It seems most people use them to preserve color and appearance, but I’m a practical eater so maybe it’s time to care less about look and more about taste and nutritional value?

I appreciate the simplicity of most of the recipes. They do not seem to difficult to make. One thing that is sticking out for me that I cannot wait to make is the recipe for “Caribbean Coconut Collard & Sweet Potatoes”. If you’ve seen some of the recipes I’ve posted, especially the mason jar creations, this dish seems like it would work great in a jar; or four!

There a re tips sprinkled throughout the book that are very helpful. Maybe it’s just you or you and your partner. Maybe the meal you made is too much and you dread having the same thing over and over. Add it to a bowl. Make it into a wrap. These tips are simple yet genius.

I’m looking forward to incorporating some of the meals from chapter 7 into my life, “Fuel & recovery: Real Food for Before, During and After Workouts.” I’ve really ramped up some training lately and have to be more creative with my meals in order to force myself to hit some of the macros I need. Whether it’s a drink before, a bar or energy ball during or a protein packed smoothie afterward it is here.

Have I sold you yet? There is nothing super outlandish here folks. If you are new to veganism or plant-based eating this is not crazy stuff that’ll make you shake your head and want to stay away from. These recipes are all for good food to treat your body good. I while back I talked to Matt about why he does what he does, you can read more about him here.

Quick Bites #5: So Delicious Cheese Shreds

Just a few short months ago the internet starting buzzing about a new cheese product and then all of a sudden; it was everywhere and people were maniacally seeking it out. It really started to hit when Daiya had just been purchased and some folks were looking for something to purchase in Daiya’s stead (read my opinion on Daiya being purchased here).

I don’t get to Whole Foods in Hyannis often, it’s not like it’s far it’s just… well… I can procrastinate quite a bit sometimes ok?! Anyway I went recently and picked up a few bags (the mozzarella and the cheddar jack) of this new cheese alternative. Was I excited? I sure was. I don’t know about you all but I get overwhelmingly elated when I finally get my hands on a new product. I don’t remember that feeling when I was not vegan, maybe the same old sh*t doesn’t get too exciting? Anyhow…

I don’t use shredded cheese on many foods except for the usual foods like tacos, nachos and pizza. So that’s how I tested these. A local Greek pizza joint allows me to bring in my own cheese when ordering pizza so I brought the bag of mozzarella shreds to them and got a plain pizza. One of the first things I noticed when I opened the pizza box was how well this melted. I’ve brought a couple other cheeses in to have them make pizza for me and none melt like this. Taste wise it very unique. There is a sweetness to it, probably because it made from a coconut base. But there is also a sharpness to it, very reminiscent of what I remember cheese tasting like. Not that it’s been a long time, but even after four years my taste buds have changed dramatically.

How is it on tacos and nachos? Again, the melt that you get is great. You have to remember folks, this is not cheese but a cheese alternative. There really is no way to make an exact replica without using animal products. But if we were to compare apples and oranges, this stuff has some of the best flavor on nachos and tacos that I’ve had. Like I said in the last paragraph, it has a very unique flavor. It’s not bad, absolutely not. It certainly separates itself from other brands though and I think that is a good thing.

I’ve tried a variety of shreds and they all have their uses, but so far these are my favorite. It’d be nice if my local Stop and Shop started carrying it so I don’t have to drive to Hyannis to re-up when I need more!

Tonight I’m making a mac and cheese and plan to use these shreds on top. I can’t wait! So Delicious cheese shreds are legit!

Mason Jar Creation: Crispy Baked Buffalo Tofu with riced Broccoli, Cauliflower and Basmati Rice

I tried to make Buffalo Tofu Nuggets a while ago, and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as good as these turned out. I think baking them, rather than pan frying them, made all the difference in the world. I also changed up a couple other things so forget all about that previous recipe, this is new and improved. Plus, it’s baked so they use a bit less oil than being fried in a pan; less oil is always better!

Tofu Ingredients
1 container of Nasoya Sprouted Tofu
2 tbsp corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Buffalo Sauce
1/4 cup Franks Red Hot
1/4 Earth Balance Butter

Rice & Veggies
2 cups of riced broccoli and cauliflower
1 cup Trader Joes Quick-Cook Organic Brown Basmati Rice
2 cups water

Preheat over to 425° (yes it’s hot, but it’ll crispen up the tofu quicker)

The great thing about the tofu I bought (and why I linked it for you) is you don’t have to put weights on it to get the water out, it’s already pressed and ready to go. Dice it up into whatever size you prefer, I like mine smaller than bite size. Add the corn starch, pepper and salt to a large plastic bag and shake to evenly coat the tofu. Spray a sheet pan with some oil, place the tofu down on it and make sure there is a single layer or it won’t get crispy and dry out like we want it. Spray just a bit more on top of the tofu so you can move them around later. Place in over for 20-25 minutes or until it’s to your level of crispness.

Add the 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rice to a pan and get boiling. Once it starts to boil turn it down to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes.

Get another pan hot and add a tiny bit of oil. Once it’s hot enough add the riced broccoli and cauliflower. Stir every couple minutes to keep from sticking, should be done in 10-15 minutes. I liked to keep it somewhat crunchy and not mushy.

Take the butter and soften in the microwave or a small pan. Once it’s melted add the Franks and you have a super simple buffalo sauce. When your tofu is done just toss the tofu in this sauce.

I know I still used a bit of spray oil, but by not frying it I went from 2 tbps or more of oil to barely a 1/4 teaspoon of the spray stuff.

You can layer all the cooked ingredients in a mason jar like I have or serve as is. I take mine for lunches at work so the jars work for me. Any questions?

 

 

MEME Monday 8.28.2017

I’m sure you can all relate to the image but I LITERALLY felt like this the other day.

I went to buy bread at the local Stop And Shop. They were out of the stuff I like and that I have verified 1,000 f*cking times that it has no stuff in it because, well; I have to. Since they were out this meant I was now invested in some research.

I started reading ingredients. Milk in this one, honey in this one. Milk in that one, honey in that other one. Just for good measure, there was even some that still have azodicarbonamide in them as a levener, who does that sh*t anymore? Some had eggs. You know the drill, keep reading…

Finally I found a loaf from Arnold’s (not all of them from Arnold’s were “safe”) and was able buy some dang bread. It was an overwhelming sense of elation that washed over me. The sun had shone on this dark bread aisle and alas, I was able to walk away and make a sandwich.

What kind of sandwich you ask? Oh just a few slices of Tofurky Roast Beef, a slice of Follow Your Heart  Provolone, a little tomato and lettuce w/ some Just Mayo and a smidge of mustard. All was right with the world at that moment. And then I realized Trump was still president.

F*CK!!!

Review: Sanuk Admiral Boat Show

My closet houses upwards of 15-20 pairs of shoes; at least 18 of them are sneakers I’ve either purchased or have wear-tested for a few different companies. 2 of those pairs of shoes are old dress shoes. They are more formal than I chose to wear to a friend’s wedding in Brooklyn, NY. It was time to add another pair to the growing collection.

When I was looking for something new I wanted a boat shoe style but it was also important that they be ethical and made from only vegan materials. While not all of Sanuks designs are vegan, the few that aren’t use wool. Wool is the end though, they do not use any other animals products including in their glues, etc.

I chose the Admiral Boat Shoe and went with the brown. Amazon Prime is pure genius, and I had my shoes in two days after ordering. When I pulled them from the box I could tell how much care was put into them and that they were well put together. They were not heavy, were quite light as a matter of fact. The material did seem a bit stiff, but they hadn’t been worn. I think as they break in, also, that the sizing won’t be as big as they seem. I wear a 9 but think I could have gotten away with an 8 1/2 as they seem to be a bit larger.

After breaking them in a bit we went to the wedding.

Let me say how unbelievably comfortable the soles are. They are really bouncy and it feels like walking on air. While they still feel a bit big, because of the loosening of the material, I feel like they fit better and I can tie them a bit tighter to get them snug and comfy.

The only negative thing I have to say about them is they do not breathe very well. My feet were really sweaty after wearing them for a few short hours. I’m hoping as they break in more and more that this won’t be an issue.

All in all I love these shoes a lot and have been eye-balling the TKO model. Maybe those will be next?

You can check their styles out at http://www.sanuk.com/

Do you wear vegan specific shoes? What are your favorite brands?

Simple Brown Gravy

I made a Shepherds Pie for dinner a couple nights ago and wanted to come up with some sort of sauce or gravy to add to it and punch up the flavor. Years back I used to make a decent beef gravy, but haven’t tried to veganize it since going vegan; until now. This is a super easy recipe and I will go through it step by step. There are no photos, I wasn’t thinking of it at the time. Maybe if I make it again soon I will append this post.

Ingredients

2 Cups Veggie Broth
2 tbsp of A1 Steak Sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 black pepper
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp corn starch

Start by boiling the veggie broth.

While you wait for that to come to a boil whisk together the water and corn starch in a separate dish then set aside.

Once the broth is boiling add the steak sauce, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix well.

Add the water mixture and whisk quickly as it will start to tighten up quite a bit. Take off the heat when you’ve reached the consistency you are looking for. Add salt and pepper, feel free to add more depending on how salty you want it. I find a tsp of each is fine though, especially with shepherd’s pie as there is a bit of salt in the mashed potatoes already.

There you have it!

Book Review: China Study Family Cookbook

Continuing on in the series of cookbooks based on the acclaimed, and essential book, The China Study; this one focuses on families. Rather than just be a cookbook though that is loaded with recipes and no tips, Del Sroufe makes the transition easy for all. There are not only cooking tips, but recommendations on items to stock your pantry with in advance so you aren’t pulling your hair out looking for an ingredient.

One section of the book that I loudly applaud is the inclusion of cooking with your kids. My wife loves to bake with my sons. Being more of the savory cook, I always thought it would be hard to cook with these guys but I feel ready to try and approach the idea.

The book is a marvel to look at. The pictures are as simple as the recipes and let the food show itself and not get swallowed up in a busy backdrop. The layout is clean and recipes are as straightforward as you get. What I really appreciate is all the tips on each page. Even if you are a novice cook, the tips will break down certain techniques to help you get the result you want with the dish. Some of the recipes have less than 5 ingredients, hows that for easy?

I’ve spoken with some folks lately that talk about how involved vegan/ plant based cooking is; this book shatters that belief. Most of the recipes can be made with ingredients you have in your home, or can go down to the local grocer to get. Most of them are not niche items and can be made by those of any skill level, such as the homemade corn chips, potato wedges, sweet potato hummus or sloppy joes. Heck, you can make the corn and black bean salsa for those chips nearly as easy as the chips themselves.

There are some that are more adventurous recipes though such as the Mediterranean Loaf which I can’t wait to try. I’m really looking forward to making some of these dressings and sauces though. I’ve been getting really bored with the usual and these will give me a little liberty when trying to create flavors I used to enjoy. I appreciate that companies try to make vegan version of things like thousand island dressing, but they are processed and have preservatives in them to make them shelf stable. The recipes don’t have that and are much more fresh because you make them. The plant based mayo sounds like it’ll be fantastic.

The things I’m really looking forward to try and make is the chorizo. I’ve been trying to perfect my own jambalaya and again, have been trying to do it with less processed foods. Having some roots down in Louisiana, spicy foods and heat are most certainly my thing, The ingredients here are all whole foods and this recipe is mouth watering.

You can find more info out about this book and order it at http://www.benbellavegan.com/book/the-china-study-family-cookbook/