Hungarian Chickpeas

This recipe is so quick and easy — plus delicious!  I found it in Vegan Health and Fitness magazine and the recipe was created by Tess Challis from

Serves 2 — Tess says it’s one of her ultimate obsessions.

15 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained.

2 tablespoons each of pitted and quartered kalamata olives (or other Greek olives), raisins (I used golden), chopped cilantro, and minced yellow onion (I used Vidalia).

1 tablespoon each of extra-virgin olive oil and raw agave nectar (I used maple syrup).

2 teaspoons each of Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, and smoked paprika.

1 teaspoon of dried oregano.

2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed.

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used pink Himalayan).

Combine all ingredients and stir well, serve cold or at room temp — this will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

This is so tasty — a go to quick fix!

Leave A Comment »

Best Sandwich Ever!

This sandwich recipe got me excited to blog again so VeganViola is back!  It’s been quite the hiatus — can you guess the reason:

A) Dad was visiting for a month and we kept making him our favorites, didn’t want to experiment with a carnivore in the house.

B) I got lazy and didn’t feel like experimenting with new recipes to share.

C) We succumbed to our cheese cravings again and became vegetarians for a time.

D) All of the above.

The answer is of course D — all of the above.  A & B are excusable but C is continually problematic!  I was reading in one of Dr. Neal Barnard’s books about cheese — he says it has the highest level of casein of any dairy product and casein (besides studies showing that it produces cancer) is full of a chemical called casomorphins — they are opiates!  As the name implies, casomorphins are casein-derived morphine-like compounds.  No wonder cheese is so addicting!  I’m eager to try “Fourteen vegan cheeses that make you forget about the real thing” that I found on — will let you know as I venture into cheese making.

So, back to the best sandwich ever — my husband and I are so jazzed about this sandwich we planted an avocado tree and are eager for our garden tomatoes and basil to be ready!

As I mentioned this recipe got me excited to blog again — this is great for anyone, not just vegans!  How can it not be with avocado, tomato, pesto, and hummus!  You can find the full recipe at:

We made them with multi-grain bread and served with simple greens topped with a spicy chipotle dressing recipe I found on — it was a bit too spicy for my taste but my husband loved it!


Leave A Comment »

Thai Green Curry (in a hurry!)

I went to the Asian market to find some green curry paste and lemongrass.  An older gentleman entered and seemed to have just enough energy to come in and sit down before shopping.  He was sitting in the cafe section and I was moved by how adorable he was so I went over and told him so!  He got a little teary eyed at the attention — you just never know when someone is in need of a little kindness.  It makes me wonder, I’ve been living a vegan lifestyle for almost a year now — has the compassion for animals grown my compassion for human animals as well?

I was flipping through some old VegNews magazines and in the April 2013 issue, I found an easy Thai Green Curry recipe (page 66) — it took me maybe ten minutes to put this dish together and with cooking time it was ready in half an hour.  It was faster than Thai take-out and delicious!  I added a few more vegetables that the recipe did not call for and they worked.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk together 2 cups of canned coconut milk, 1 cup of water, 3 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and two tablespoons of soy sauce — bring to a boil.  Add 2 cups of thinly sliced asparagus, 1 cup of snow peas (de-stemmed), 1 cup of thinly sliced carrots, 1 cup of sliced red potatoes (recipe called for new but didn’t have any on hand), 1 can of baby corn, 1 can of chopped water chestnuts, and 2 cups of lemongrass tofu cubes (see yesterdays post for recipe).  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove pot from heat and add 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice and 1/4 cup of Thai basil leaves.  Serve over warm jasmine rice (prepare ahead per package instructions — takes about 20 minutes to cook) and enjoy!

Leave A Comment »

Lemongrass Tofu

The photo of this lemongrass tofu is not very exciting but the taste is!  I found this recipe in the October 2013 issue of VegNews Magazine (page 63) and have used it twice already with other recipes and ate it by itself as a snack.  Stay tuned for a Thai Green Curry recipe tomorrow that features this tofu — so simple yet delicious!

Marinate 16-ounces of extra-firm tofu (pressed and drained) in the following: 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 pressed garlic clove, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil (recipe called for vegetable oil but why not add the flavor of sesame?), and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh lemongrass.  I marinated it for a few hours — the recipe said only needed to let it set while the oven was being preheated.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then flip, bake another 20 minutes, enjoy!

Leave A Comment »

Tampa Bay Veg Fest & Dr. Neal D. Barnard!

Visit the link

I met one of my heroes at the Tampa Bay Veg Fest — Dr. Neal D. Barnard!  His books have changed our lives, I recommend you check out “Program for Reversing Diabetes” and “21-Day Weight Loss Kick Start” — easy reads.  Click on the link above to visit Dr. Barnard’s website.

Dr. Barnard was a headline speaker at the Veg Fest — my friend Cindy and I arrived early and got the chance to meet and chat with him a bit, he was so gracious in answering our questions and seemed genuinely interested in our results.  His lecture was so inspiring we walked out excited and recommitted to Vegan eating.  He was there promoting his new book, “Power Foods for the Brain” and we were amazed at the research.  Some highlights:

  • Americans eat one million animals per hour!
  • High fat diets of meat and dairy triple your risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • 21 year study showed double the risk of mild cognitive impairment with high fat diet.
  • Those with the APOE4 Alzheimer’s gene were able to cut their risk of developing the disease by 80% with a vegan diet!
  • Shellfish has twice the fat and cholesterol as steak!
  • Use nuts as an ingredient, not as a snack because they have cocaine in them (okay this was a joke but he said they are that addictive!)
  • It’s the concord grape in wine that gives us the health benefit, not the wine itself – have grapes or other colorful fruits daily.
  • Animal protein linked to gradual loss of kidney function.
  • Cheese is so addictive because it has the highest concentration of casein (main protein in dairy shown to cause cancer in rats) in any food — literally acts as an opiate!
  • Instead of thinking that you have to give up meat and dairy — think of it in terms of giving up diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol!
  • The kids growing up today — 50% of them will get cancer with their current unhealthy diet of fast food.

Dr. Barnard was the highlight of the day but we also enjoyed visiting the vendors, trying food samples, and getting coupons — we’ll be back next year!


Leave A Comment »

Pumpkin Chili

Are we sick of pumpkin in everything yet?  No way!  Who thought to put it in chili? did!  I took the recipe on that website and combined it with my mother-in-laws recipe and came up with a winner!  Even my carnivore cousin liked it — he said it was a “mind fuck” (excuse the language) because it tasted like there was meat in it but he knew there wasn’t!

In a crock pot, combine the following: Two cans of small diced tomatoes, one can corn, one can black beans, one can pinto beans (drain and rinse the beans and corn), one can of vegetable broth, one onion chopped up in big chunks (or smaller if you prefer), one green pepper chopped, one can diced green chili peppers, one package of veggie crumble, one can of pumpkin, a package of taco seasoning, two teaspoons of chili powder, two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, one teaspoon of black pepper, and a teaspoon of salt.

In the crock pot, slow cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high for two — serve with tortilla chips (I used blue corn) and you have the perfect sweet and savory chili for a fall day!

Leave A Comment »

A Birthday Wish!

Today is my birthday and if my wish comes true when I blow out the candles everyone will want to be vegan!  Thought I’d re-share a post from the early days of this blog to help you with the transition.

Tip #1: Start slow — don’t go cold turkey (or tofurkey!) or you may get discouraged.  Add more vegetarian meals to your diet before going vegan.  I don’t even miss meat at all — in fact, the thought of it makes me sick now.  I still miss cheese though, there are some good substitutes (Daiya Cheese) but when I get a craving for real cheese I simply conjure up the sad image of a calf being taken away from its mother so the cow can produce milk for humans — gets me every time!

Tip #2: Educate yourself — on the health benefits, factory farming, and environmental factors.  Read vegan health books (Get Healthy, Go Vegan by Neal Barnard, MD) and get a simple vegan cookbook (Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson), watch the movies, “Forks over Knives” and “Vegucated” , talk to a doctor that understands the vegan diet (make sure to take supplements for B12 and D), and of course check out my blog on a regular basis!

Tip #3: Don’t do it alone!  I started this to support my husband and his quest to reverse his diabetes — I knew he couldn’t do it without me and in turn, he has been a great support to me!  We are saving money but not eating out as much and we’re having fun cooking together!

Tip #4: Find some quick food choices for the times you’re feeling vulnerable.  Always have foods on hand that are satisfying and quick like Boca burgers or an Amy’s frozen vegan meal.  Find out where you can go in your area to eat vegan food out for those days you just can’t bring yourself to cook — we enjoy Moe’s Southwest Grill, they have the Art Vandelay veggie burrito with tofu!  In a pinch, the TacoBell veggie Catina burrito is a fast option — you can even get the 7 layer burrito without cheese and sour cream (then it’s 5 layers) and stay on a vegan eating plan.

Tip #5: Keep it fun and simple — plant your own garden, frequent your local farmers market (luckily they are all over the place in Florida), and commit to the lifestyle — you will notice the rewards of eating healthier right away!

Tomorrow, we’re heading to the Adirondacks for two weeks to spend some time with family on Lake George — dad has four little cabins on the lake and they hold the fondest memories along with the draw of total relaxation and family fun!  I probably won’t be posting much while gone so think about these five tips and making the transition — try it for a week!

Leave A Comment »

Garlic & Onions

Boy do I reek!  I’ve had a head cold so been loading up on the garlic and onions and today I went a little overboard — it worked though, I can smell myself and yesterday I was congested!

Garlic is a powerful natural therapeutic herb. It can help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure and may help prevent heart attacks by reducing blood clotting. What’s more, raw garlic has immune-stimulating properties as well as antibacterial and antiviral effects.  Onions haven’t been studied as well as garlic, but eaten raw they appear to have similar immune-enhancing compounds.

Dr. Andrew Weil says that you can use garlic as an effective home remedy for colds by chopping a few cloves of garlic each day into your food.  I had four cloves just at lunch and I’m breathing easy and feeling good — just don’t come near me!

Leave A Comment »

James Gandolfini

Visit the link

Love this article by Dr. Barnard — click on the link to read!

Here are some interesting highlights:

James Ganolfini’s family says he died of a heart attack, of natural causes.  Dr. Barnard said that describing a heart attack as “natural” is dangerous with a man of only 51.  He says a heart attack can be prevented.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year — and heart attacks can happen at any age. More than 80 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle and dietary choices often are at fault. Smoking, lack of exercise, and the standard American diet all cause high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.”

He goes on to mention that “The average American now eats around 188 pounds of meat and more than 30 pounds of cheese a year. Meat-heavy diets are strongly linked with obesity and heart disease.  Eating meat increases the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.”

James Gandolfini’s last meal was prawns and foie gras which is loaded with saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.  He explains “research shows that a single fatty or salty meal can stiffen the arteries and greatly increases the risk of heart attack.”

Many of my friends have been posting on Facebook about his death and making comments about his young age — many, including myself have been guilty of saying “I’ll start exercising and eating better later” — I bet James Gandolfini thought he had later too!

Steve, a former co-worker who is only 46 (or 47)  had a heart attack last night!  I haven’t kept in touch with him but we’re connected on Facebook  — even though he posted about eating ribs on Sunday he had made some positive changes.  I believe he posted about quitting smoking recently and I know he started exercising and lost weight.  He had started to make some changes and that may have saved his life!  Today is the day to start!

Leave A Comment »

Vegan Role Model?

Visit the link

I love this article (click link to read) — all about being a vegan role model and the pressure that often comes from it.  The author asks the question, “Do we have a duty then, as vegan role models to step away from the ethical cupcakes or is it actually a positive thing to show people that vegans don’t all conform to the skinny, pale stereotype?”  While I was handing out my VeganViola business cards at a vegan buffet Saturday I couldn’t help but wonder if those accepting the cards were thinking, “does she look enough like a credible vegan for me to check out her blog?”

What does a vegan look like?  We come in all shapes and sizes just like the rest of the world!

Leave A Comment »