Livin' La Vida Vegan!

Women’s Bean Project

bean project

For Christmas my sister Marylynne sent us a basket full of soup mixes from the Women’s Bean Project.  Lots of beans, lentils, and split pea varieties — there was even corn bread and a brownie mix included.

The Women’s Bean Project is a great organization in Denver that my sister supports.  What a great idea to give gifts that help others!  We have enjoyed several of the soups already.  Just add a few fresh ingredients in the pressure cooker or crock pot and a flavorful soup is ready in minutes.

This project is a powerful advocate for women — it is a nonprofit business that offers a transitional job in gourmet food and crafts designed to provide immediate income to those in need.  It also teaches job readiness and interpersonal skills needed for independence.  These products truly help a woman change her life.

Please support this program by ordering today!

For a catalog and ordering instructions visit: or 303-292-1919.

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Tofu Scramble


Another great vegan breakfast — tofu scramble!  Much like eggs, this scramble is very versatile and I decided to make it with fresh farmers market asparagus and tomatoes today.

First cut your asparagus and place in a skillet with water and boil for a few minutes until asparagus is soft but not mushy.  When done, drain water and saute the asparagus with one small onion and a clove of garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Then add a pound of extra-firm tofu (drained and crumbled).  After a few minutes add a chopped tomato and three tablespoons of nutritional yeast or vegan parm, with fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.  Add a dash or two of turmeric for color (and because I put it in everything during cold and flu season) and cook for a few more minutes over medium heat — enjoy!

I’ve been thinking about all the things I would miss if we left Florida, one in particular is all the farmers markets littered around the state.  We frequent one that is less than a mile away “John’s Market” — all local and fresh produce.  I’d also miss my orange tree!  I planted it almost two years ago and it produced the first fruit this past December, it was delicious!  Nothing like walking out to your back yard to pick a fresh orange for breakfast!

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The China Study

Visit the link

If you read this blog I wanted to encourage you to also follow me on Facebook (VeganViola) or Twitter (@VeganViola) if you don’t already do so.  I share so many more resources, articles, and pictures there than I do on this blog.  For some reason my Tweets are not coming through on the blog like they are supposed to (Technical Support!!!).  Whenever I find something of interest I post it on social media to help get the word out about the benefits of a plant based diet — benefits to you, animals, and the planet.

Today I posted a “cheat sheet” on The China Study, the most important research published on this topic — if you don’t have time to read the book this article is an excellent summary of the highlights you need to know.

This one is the most alarming to me: Animal protein promotes the growth of cancer. The book author T. Colin Campbell, PhD., grew up on a dairy farm, so he regularly enjoyed a wholesome glass of milk. Not anymore. In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk.

For the skeptics out there: The study findings are bulletproof. After years of controversial lab results on animals, the researchers had to see how they played out in humans. The study they created included 367 variables, 65 counties in China, and 6,500 adults (who completed questionnaires, blood tests, etc.). “When we were done, we had more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet, and disease variables.” In other words, there’s no arguing with the findings, Meat Council of America. Sorry.

Click on the link above or copy and paste the one below for the summary.

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Curried Mung Bean Soup


We are loving our pressure cooker — best Christmas gift, thanks dad!  My husband got the flu so I was on the hunt for some curative soups.  This one caught my attention while I was flipping through a Christmas gift from him — JL Field’s new cookbook Vegan Pressure Cooking: Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes.

I’ve never used mung beans before but wondered when I saw them next to the lentils I normally grab on trips to the market.  The mung bean is highly nutritious with protein, fiber, potassium, iron, and magnesium.  It is a hardy bean and this recipe is packed with other healing ingredients such as sweet potato, onion, garlic, carrots, collard greens, and our favorite turmeric.

One of the reasons I think I noticed this recipe so quickly was that I had seen it before!  I receive a weekly email from and they were featuring this same recipe from JL’s new book a few weeks ago.  Considering that it was brought to my attention twice, I knew this was the soup that would help my husband recover.  To find the recipe use the link below — one note, I had to add additional time in the pressure cooker, the eight minutes suggested left the beans a bit crunchy, adding an additional five made them perfect for us.

It’s funny how I still long for warm soups during the winter, even with the windows open and 75 degrees outside in sunny Florida.  Our bodies are conditioned to certain foods — I guess that’s why we crave pumpkin flavored everything in October!  Maybe it’s also tied to that longing I mentioned in my last post, to head north to be closer to family.  I made a commitment to Effortlessness this year (see 1/1/15 post) — I’m finding it difficult to BE that word while making this decision…

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Buckwheat Waffles


I get asked a lot what I eat for breakfast — I was never a big egg fan before so this is easy!  My cousin bought me a great Mickey Mouse waffle maker so I pull it out for fun any chance I get.

Simply find a buckwheat mix you like and follow the instructions — using an egg substitute and non dairy milk of course!  I like Arrowhead Mills Organic, they suggest an egg substitute and soy or rice milk right on the package.

Add some fresh fruit and you’re all set — effortless (remember my word?)!

I texted this photo to my sister and she said my niece, two year old Ruby, was all smiles when she saw it.  Luckily our other sister got her the same waffle maker for Christmas so she can enjoy Mickey waffles at her home in Denver.  My family is too far away!  Both of my sisters are in Denver, my dad in NY, aunts/uncles and cousins scattered through NY, VT, NH, and MA.  Moving to Florida was good for us in many ways and we’ve had visitors during the harsh winters but I think I’d rather be closer to family.  Is it time to uproot our lives again and move north?  My husband’s business base is in NY so he travels there constantly — maybe it’s best we move back and I can somehow deal with the cold and being away from the beach?  But what about my “little sister” — being a volunteer with Big Brothers/Sisters was one thing that kept me going when depressed last year — my little sister is a ball of fun energy, I would miss her terribly!  What’s a girl to do?

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Pasta Fagioli


My dad’s been visiting for a month and he shared with me his pasta fagioli recipe.  I took out the ground beef and beef stock and added in veggie crumbles and vegetable broth and turned it into a delicious vegan soup.  I also added garlic — thought it strange that his recipe didn’t include it and I improvised with some red wine to give it more depth — yum!

His recipe is a slow cooker one — once all ingredients are assembled they can slow cook for four hours but I decided to try it in the pressure cooker and it was perfect after ten minutes.  My word for the year effortlessness even applies to cooking wonderful vegan meals (see 1/1/15 post)!

Brown the veggie crumble with a tablespoon of olive oil, one copped onion, and four minced cloves of garlic.  My pressure cooker has this saute feature — you may need to do it on the stove.  In the meantime, cut up two carrots and two celery stalks and add to the pot.  Then add one can of diced tomatoes (don’t drain) one can each of drained and rinsed kidney and cannelloni beans.  Add two teaspoons of oregano, one teaspoon of pepper, three teaspoons of parsley (I didn’t have any so I used Italian spice mix), half a jar of spaghetti sauce, twenty ounces of veggie stock/broth, and a quarter cup of red wine.

Pressure cook for ten minutes or slow cook for four hours.  When done, boil eight ounces of ditalini pasta per package instructions and add the pasta into the soup.  Voila — a delicious and vegan version of an old Italian favorite (my dad being the old Italian).

This meal reminds me of our trip to Italy many years ago — if you’ve ever been you long to return.  The history, architecture, people, culture, and the food!  Buon Appetito!

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Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute


Wow this Field Roast is good!  Even my carnivore dad said it was “amazing!”  Then we were talking with my sister on the phone and he told her how much he enjoyed it.  Yummy for vegans and carnivores — make this for your next Sunday night dinner with roasted potatoes, onions, asparagus, and warm mushroom gravy like we did!

Happy New Year!  A mentor I’ve worked with, Christine Kane, says we should lose the New Year’s Resolutions and focus on the BE in our life.  Resolutions are DO-HAVE-BE,  “I will DO this thing, so I can HAVE this other thing, and then I can BE this thing.”  The best order for creating positive change in our life is the BE-DO-HAVE model.  I learned this many years ago with LifeSpring/WorldWorks transformational training and Christine reminded me that when you start from BE the DO and HAVE follow more easily.  My friend Diana Penning pointed out to me that our Grad School Alma Matter starts with the motto, “To Be” — another touchstone that BE is the right path.

Christine recommends a better ritual for the new year — choosing a word that will guide us throughout the year.  She gives the example of a resolution to get organized — instead, chose the word Release.  Release inspires us in a bigger way than get organized.  As we come from a Release perspective we understand that we’re holding on to more than just physical clutter — resentment or extra weight that are affecting our health.

This year I’m going to BE the word Effortlessness.  2014 was a very difficult year for me — getting laid off and now at the five month mark of not being able to find another position.  I didn’t really mind losing that job because it was not challenging  and I wasn’t listened to when two bad decisions were made.  These mistakes eventually caused the failure I foretold and my team and I suffered.  Plus, my husband travels so often I get lonely and depressed.  These circumstances have had me feeling a lack of purpose and as a result too many things take so much effort that I give up or don’t even start.  Exercise, cluttered garage, endless weeding, job searching, even getting out of bed some days.  If I approach everything effortlessly I will then do what needs to be done and have what is vital for my growth and overall health.

On another note, it’s been a tough year but also a great one!  I’ve finally let go of some negativity I’ve been holding onto for years — as I near 50 I now get that resentment is only hurting me!  I have found closure and true peace and it’s quite cathartic.  I’ve engaged in some volunteer work that has been very rewarding and I have an amazing husband — he does travel often but it just makes the time we’re together all that more sweet!  I love creating healthy vegan meals for us and of course writing about it in this blog!  We’ve had many visitors from family and friends this year and I’ve captured wonderful memories, plus there is always the beach — just watching the sunset there makes everything better.

Christine has created a word self discovery tool, go to this link to request your free copy!

What will your word be?

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Stuffed & Wrapped Dates


Merry Christmas — I’ve got the perfect holiday appetizer for you!  Dates wrapped in bacon are popular for carnivores and the Vegabond Chef, Brad Myers, has created a vegan version that is fantastic!  I attended Brad’s cooking class on Holiday Appetizers a few weeks ago and decided to try the dates for our Christmas Eve gathering.

As you can see from the photo, they’re not much to look at but delicious — the nutty, sweet, salty, and smoke flavors make an exquisite combination.

First stuff 20 pecans into 20 Deglet dates (get the pitted kind) and set aside.  Next, emerge two rice paper sheets in water until soft and a bit gummy.  Set rice paper on a cutting board and cut strips just short of the length of the dates (ten per sheet) and then wrap each stuffed date in a rice paper strip.

Next, in a sauce pan, put 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1-2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil and heat on medium.  Fry the wrapped dates, making sure to get some browning on all sides, for approximately ten minutes.  Take the fried dates out of the oil and place on paper towels to sop up extra oil and then toss them in a bowl with two teaspoons of Nama Shoyu soy sauce and sprinkle with smoked paprika.  Serve warm and enjoy!

Note that if you just want an easy snack — simply stuff pecans into the dates and pop them in your mouth.

For more on Brad Myers, follow him on Facebook at or stop by his monthly classes at Nature’s Food Patch — each one I’ve attended has been great.  He has a fun and relaxed style of teaching and is an excellent vegan chef.

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Rosemary & Curry Lentil Sniffle Soup

sniffle soup

Even living in Florida the winter always seems to bring the sniffles!  I found this recipe and was intrigued with the title — would it make me feel better?

I personally thought it was a bit bland so I doubled the spices and added potatoes and loved it!  I actually made it in my pressure cooker so it was ready in ten minutes, perfect when you just want to hurry up and eat so you can go take a blissful nap.  I’ve made it twice now, once sick and once well — yummy either way.

Follow this link for the recipe:

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Kite Hill Cheese


As I’ve admitted a few times on this blog, I still have a bit of a cheese addiction.  I find myself cheating with cheese on occasion but I’ve finally found a vegan cheese I’m in love with!

About a year ago I read in VegNews Magazine about an artisan almond milk cheese company out of California called Kite Hill.  The article mentioned that Whole Foods would be carrying their line of cheeses.  Every time I went into Tampa I’d check at the Whole Foods and was continually disappointed that it wasn’t there yet.  We recently got a Whole Foods close to home in Clearwater and I checked in with them during the grand opening sales.  They did confirm that it was on order and to check back.  I was so pleased to find they finally got it in!

Kite Hill has four varieties and we decided to try the Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill, & Chive — wow is it good!  The flavor is divine even though the texture is a bit off when you’re used to the real thing.  My need for cheese is now satisfied with Kite Hill and I highly recommend you give it a try!

Here is their website for more info:

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