VEGAN meals, especially in the evening, are GOOD for you

Why are they so good? They result in happy, well-functioning insides. They also can mean a better night's sleep, because vegetable products digest more quickly and easily than animal ones. Long-term benefits include lowered cholesterol, cleaner blood vessels (lowered risk of all sorts of vascular problems) and a reduced risk of intestinal diseases.

Managing a vetarian diet is more complicated than simply avoiding animal protein, however. It requires knowledgeable planning to achieve a proper balance of amino acids (which, in turn, build body proteins) from plant sources. A strict and full-time vegan diet probably will need to include vitamin and mineral (especially iron) supplements.

"Vegan" means eating no protein of animal origin. Many so-called vegetarian recipe books do not specify whether their contents are vegan or whether recipe ingredients include milk, cheese, eggs, etc. A few recommended and primarily vegan resources are listed below.

I enjoy new concoctions and spend a good bit of time pottering about the kitchen making up recipes. Makes me think I'm back in the laboratory. The results usually are more appetizing! What follows are original or adapted dishes that I think are worth repeating (here and on the table).

Yellow rice-plus

Prepare an 8 oz. box of Vigo yellow rice according to package directions.
Add one 4 oz. can of chick peas, thoroughly rinsed, and
One 4 oz. can of sliced ripe olives, drained. Stir in and heat.
(This is one dish that does not improve with age; plan to eat it up fast)

Chocolate chimp bars

A little history: When Steve was about 12, he volunteered as an aide at the Zoo. His group did a bake sale fund-raiser. His recipe (even those days, he baked better than I; his secret was following the instructions exactly - something I rarely did) already was a favorite on our table, but we needed a name, of curse. We came up with the one here. These still sell fast at bake sales.

Brownie mix (for a 9 x 12 pan): prepare batter as preferred. Stir in
8 oz. real chocolate chips
2/3 C walnut pieces broken in small bits (optional).
Bake exactly as long as the instructions recommend.

Portobello steak

Word has it that many vegetarian purists won't eat portobellos because they "taste too much like meat". I'm not that pure!

Select two large portobello caps for each serving. Wash and cut off stem close to the cap (haven't found a use I like for the stems). Slice the caps from the top to the under side in about 3/4 inch strips. Season the cut edges as you would a ground beef patty. I use thyme, garlic powder, fresh ground pepper, then put cut side down in a heated (med low) frying pan with 1 - 2 T olive oil and 2 T sherry. Turn once; remove when browned and slightly shrunken.

Serve as is with a little parsley - or slip into a buttered, heated pita pocket with feta cheese, artichoke paste or olive tapenade and your choice of sauteed onions, sauteed mixed peppers, tomatos, sliced ripe olives, whatever, and heat in a 300 degree oven for about 10 min.

Cooked as above, the slices serve as a fine meat substitute in souvlaki, and are great in a hamburger roll with favorite condiments.

Portobello appetizer or side dish

Select 1-2 caps per serving. Clean, trim and slice as for portobello steaks, above. Marinate, turning often, for 6-8 hours at room temp. or overnight in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap, in the following mixture:

2 T. EACH olive oil, light soy sauce, white wine
1/2 t. fresh ground mixed peppercorns (more, if you like)
2 light shakes of Mrs. Dash (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed
Broil until the edges are browned and slices shrink slightly. Cut, spear each piece with a toothpick and serve warm or cold. Save the cooking juices to add to soups, sauces or gravies or as a dip for bread.

Jean's winter casserole

This recipe came from a good friend and neighbor at Sixmile Lake. She may have gotten it from a newspaper or magazine. It's too good and too healthy to withhold on a copyright technicality.

2 C EACH peeled diced carrots, sweet potatos, parsnips and rutabagas

Cover the pieces with water and boil for 30 min or more, until tender.
Drain well. Mash in a food processor or by hand with a potato masher until well mixed and the pieces are very tiny. Add 3 T. butter, 3 T. brown sugar (if the parsnips and carrots are really sweet, sugar may not be needed; taste before adding) salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. This dish may be made 24 hrs. in advance; reheat in a buttered casserole @350 deg., covered. It may take almost an hour to get to serving temp. The mixture also freezes well. Refresh with butter, salt and pepper after thawing and before heating.

Patty's Black Bean Dip (finger-lickin' good)
1/8 c. tahini
1 1/2 t. soy sauce
1 1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
1 large clove garlic, sliced
1/4 t. ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 t. ground jalapeno
Put all the above into a blender and process. Add one 16-oz. can of black beans, undrained. Process until uniform. You probably will have to stop the blender several times to scrape and mix with a rubber spatula. Serve with pitas, crackers, pretzels or whatever. This recipe freezes well.

Glazed salmon fillets

This is my best stab at a restaurant entree. It's probably easier and can use salmon steaks, as well.
Remove skin from the fillet (or ask your merchant to do it for you), rinse and pat dry. Cut into serving size pieces. For 1 lb. of fish, heat together in a very lightly oiled frying pan three T. each of honey and teriyaki sauce. After the mixture starts to bubble on medium heat, mix it well and slip in the salmon pieces. Cover if the pieces are more than 1/2 inch thick. Cook for about 3-4 min., until the uncooked side becomes lighter in color. Turn carefully and repeat the process, until the pieces flake easily. The thinner tail piece may need only half as much cooking time. Serve, topped with any remaining pan juices.


Got this one from the Buffalo News in Feb. '97. It's a great thing to serve house guests while they wait for you to prepare a gourmet breakfast or brunch.
1 1/3 C. grapefruit juice (preferably from 2 fresh ones)
8 large, cleaned strawberries (frozen ones are fine)
2 ripe medium bananas
8 oz strawberry-banana yogurt (another fruit flavor would work)
2 T. honey or to taste
1 C. crushed ice (about 6 cubes)

Put the juice in a blender; add fruit in chunks; add other ingredients and blend until smooth. Makes 4 servings.

More on the way, as they evolve.

Recommended reading

I'd appreciate visitor's reactions to this section and would be delighted to add recipes developed or adapted by others (no copyright problems, that way). Those passing muster in my kitchen will be posted with appropriate credits! Stop here to send comments or recipes or here for Gail's home page.

Last updated March 1997.