Veganizing your favorite recipes: Blueberry pie

When I was a kid my grandmother used to make a blueberry pie that I really loved, and still do to this day. Unfortunately original recipe contains both eggs and sour cream, which I thought was a hindrance in making it vegan. Because of this I didn’t have this type of pie for many years, until I got an idea of how to make it vegan. I tried out the idea, and it resulted in a pie that tasted pretty much exactly like I remembered it from my childhood.

The original recipe for the dough has 125 g margarine, 1 dl sugar, 3 dl flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 egg. The filling has 2 dl sour cream, 3/4 dl sugar, 1 egg, 2 tsp vanilla sugar, 3 dl blueberries.

bluberry pie

The vegan recipe goes like this:

For the dough:
125 g non-dairy margarine
1 dl sugar
3 dl flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little water or soy milk (to replace the liquid of the egg)

For the filling:
2 dl soft tofu, blended until smooth
(1 tsp potato flour/corn flour)
3/4 dl sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
3 dl blueberries

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the margarine and mix until the batter is even. Add the liquid and mix again. Spread the dough evenly unto a pie dish.

Mix the blended tofu with sugar and vanilla sugar. If you want you can add a little potato or corn flour to make sure the mixture will stay together, but this might not be necessary. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Pour the blueberries evenly on top.

Bake in 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes.

What I want to say with this post is; don’t be afraid to try to make you favorite non-vegan recipes vegan! You may fail the first time (or then you succeed!), but just get up and try again. It’s worth it for that special food or dessert that you remember from you childhood, isn’t it?

Pie with tofu and broccoli

I want to share my recipe tofu and broccoli pie with you guys, it’s one of my favorites and quite easy to make. It’s great for when you have people over for a light dinner, and goes well with a fresh salad!

The original recipe for the crust comes from the book “Vegetariska kokboken” by Inga-Britta Sundqvist, which is one of my favorite books about vegetarian cooking (only in Swedish). I have an old version from 1984, so some things are of course outdated, but it has a lot of basic recipes and tons of information about vegetarian foods and how to cook them. Definitely a book worth checking out!

pie

For the crust you will need:

3 dl of flour, usually I mix two different ones half-half
a pinch of herb salt
75-100 grams of non-dairy margarine or oil
4 tbsp of water

For the filling you will need:

about ½ a pack of tofu (150 g)
a small size broccoli
a small onion
a little oil
2 dl of oat cream
a little non-dairy milk
1 tbsp potato or corn flour
paprika powder
herb salt
black pepper
(nutritional yeast)

Time to start baking:

1. Start with the crust. If possible, make it at least one hour before you will bake the pie, if it gets to rest in the fridge for a while after it has been made it gets easier to handle. If you don’t have time for that, it can also be used right away.
2. Mix the flour and the herb salt together. Add the margarine or the oil and mix them well together with the flour. At this point the dough will still be quite dry.
3. Add the water and mix the dough together quickly. It should become easy to form. If it still looks dry, add either more water or more margarine.
4. Put the dough in the fridge.
5. If you have time, take a break!
6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
7. Start preparing the ingredients for the filling; chop the onion quite small, cut the tofu into small cubes and the broccoli into bite-size pieces.
8. Heat some oil in a pan. Add the onion and fry it until soft, then add the tofu and the paprika powder. Fry until the tofu is a little brown, then add the broccoli and lower the heat. Fry until the broccoli is a little cooked, it doesn’t have to be soft. Put the heat off and put aside for a while.
9. Mix oat cream, milk, the rest of the spices, potato or corn flour (and if you like, nutritional yeast) in a bowl until there are no clumps.
10. Once the oven is warm, spread the dough evenly in a pie form, bake it in the oven for 15 minutes without the filling.
11. Take out the crust and add the filling. Pour over the cream-mixture.
12. Bake the pie in the oven for 20 minutes.
13. Let the pie cool down for a while.
14. Enjoy!

pie2

What do vegans eat? #1. Tofu

I love tofu. I can eat the flavored ones straight out of the package, which kind of pictures how much I love it.

Tofu might be a quite mysterious food to the one who has never tried it before, though. I remember the first time I tried to cook tofu. Emphasis on tried. I was a new vegetarian, probably 14-15 years old, I had heard of tofu and wanted to try it out, so we bought one piece, but I had no idea how to cook it. It tasted horrible. Or actually, it tasted absolutely nothing.

Tofu, which can also be called bean curd, is a cheese-looking (but not cheese tasting) food made out of soybeans. You can actually make tofu at home, the process is a bit similar to making your own cheese. Tofu can be found in many different variations; it can be firm or soft, it can be natural or marinated in different flavors. You can also find sausages and other things made out of tofu, both those are a subject for another post.

natural tofu

Tofu can be used in all kinds of different dishes, all the way from deserts to barbecue. It can be used in for example stir fries, soups or patties, or in smoothies or pies as a substitute for dairy or eggs. It’s just a very versatile food.

So how did I go from hating tofu to loving it? I simply learned how to prepare it. I’m certainly no tofu master chef, and to be honest I’m a bit lost in the jungle of all the different types too. However, my best tip in learning how to cook with tofu is to just try it out, and not only once, because it might not turn out well the first time. Learning to cook new things always takes time.

If you have never even tasted tofu, it might be an idea to try it in a restaurant before trying to cook it yourself. The best place to try it out might be in some kind of Asian place. These kind of restaurants usually offer tofu as one of the meat alternatives for many of their dishes, so next time maybe you just choose the tofu instead of beef or chicken in your curry. Maybe you’ll be hooked too, who knows? (Keep in mind though that even if you would not like it the first time, you might still change your mind later on, since many of our food preferences are acquired over time)

Birthday celebration

Yesterday we had a small celebration of R’s birthday here in our home. We had some friends over – some of them I had the privilege to meet for the first time – and of course we had food. R had planned which foods to serve, kind of like a mini-buffet of different foods, mainly finger-foods, and I made a birthday cake.

It’s very rewarding to make food when people appreciate it and find it interesting, especially if it can change someone’s perception of vegan food being boring. Then it’s worth all the time and effort it took to make it! Here are some pictures of the food we served, among with a fresh salad and spring rolls:

DSC_0253#Marinated tofu with red bell pepper & “Frankenberger” sausage with olives

DSC_0252#Toasted bread with a vegetable and cashew paste

roasted vegetablesRoasted vegetables with vegetarian meat balls

lavash rollVegetable roll lavash

DSC_0251#Waldorf salad

DSC_0290#

Our vegan wedding

I never thought I would get married, but now I am. I used to think marriage is unnecessary and even a bit stupid, but I guess that was one of the things I changed my mind about over time. Especially when I knew how important getting married was to the love of my life, how could it not get important to me?

We had a civil wedding a few months back to get our legal marriage certificates, and then we had a blessing conducted by one of the pastors of our own church on the 20th of September. Even though the civil wedding out of a legal point would be considered our “real wedding”, I didn’t feel that it was for real before the church ceremony. During the civil wedding we only had four witnesses, while we during the church wedding celebrated with about 50 of our closest family members and friends.

We had a very much DIY- wedding, we barely hired anyone to do anything, but the ceremony and the reception came together by a lot of helpful and inspirational friends and family members. It was not perfect looking, or perfectly organized, but it was still a great day – I would not have traded it for something “perfect” made by a wedding planner, because thinking about the time people dedicated into making our day special just makes it worth so much more.

I will not post a lot of pictures of us or the guests here, it feels too private for such a public blog, but I will give you pictures of details, and of course of the food and the cake. We had our pictorial outdoors, surrounded by amazing autumn colors. Our photographer was Ann-Britt Pada, and some of the pictures from the pictorial can actually be seen on her website.

My dress was made by R’s aunt in the Philippines, so I could choose any style I liked and also request for the materials to make sure it was vegan. Since the dress was made in the Philippines and I’m here in Finland, I could of course not try it on during the process of making it, so unfortunately it was just a little too big when it arrived and we had to quick fix it with some safety pins. R was wearing a Barong Tagalog, the Filipino national shirt, made out of pineapple and synthetic silk.

When it came to the bouquet, I wanted it to match the autumn colors around us and spice up my otherwise very white appearance, so it was made with different types of flowers in red, yellow and orange shades.

wedding pictorial

The place was mainly decorated by a friend of ours, but R made some of the details.

wedding decorations

wedding decorations

We didn’t have catering for the food, but it was made by some friends of ours, and they were also the ones to mainly decide the menu. We actually didn’t taste the different dishes prior to the wedding, but we trusted our “chefs” and it turned out great. Here’s the food we had on our buffet table (bigger version of the pictures can be seen by clicking them):

  • Afritada, a Filipino dish
  • Stir fried vegetables with tofu
  • Red beet patties
  • Vegetarian spring rolls
  • Fresh salad with olives and sun-dried tomatoes on the side

The wedding cake was made by the vegetarian restaurant Vegana. They don’t officially cater cakes yet, but we still asked them if it would be possible for them to make our cakes, and they agreed. Maybe in the future they will really cater cakes also officially. We asked for chocolate cakes since I’m a big chocolate maniac – and we got to taste the cake with to different fillings a few days prior to the wedding. One of the fillings was strawberries and chia seeds, the other one a kind of chocolate mousse and finely chopped pears. We could not really decide which one we wanted to have, so since we would have several smaller cakes we decided to have a few of each.

vegan wedding cake

One of our friends created the program and many of the guests also contributed with something during the party. R even did a surprise dance for me together with some friends!

All in all, we had a really great day, much because of all the amazing people who helped us and who attended the wedding. Thank you so much, we could not have done it without you!

For sure this wedding was also one of the best advocacies I’ve done for vegan food, because it changed the way many of the guests look at vegan food. My grandfather told me he was skeptical towards the food before eating – because he had no idea what vegan food actually means and probably thought it was all about lettuce and carrots – but he liked the food very much and even asked me for the recipes so that they could make it at home. How is that for success?

Cow’s milk is not the source of calcium

If someone would ask you where you get calcium from, you would most likely answer cow’s milk. We are told to drink cow’s milk to get our calcium, and it almost seems like there is no other source of this nutrient. That’s of course not true.

Calcium is a mineral that can be found in the ground. The cow’s natural feed is grass, so she gets the calcium through the grass and passes it on to her baby through her milk. In other words, calcium  is not derived from the cow’s milk itself but from the ground, which means that we don’t need to drink cow’s milk or eat other dairy products to get calcium, even though persistent advertisement from the dairy industry has led us to believe that. We might as well get the calcium straight from the source through plants.

Plants rich in calcium are for example:
Broccoli
Tofu
Garlic
Sesame seeds, almonds, brazil nuts
Green leafy vegetables such as turnip, kale, mustard,  collard greens, dandelion greens, spinach

If you’re on a plant-based diet, the amount of calcium that you need is also less than if you eat a lot of animal-based protein. This is because a diet based on a lot of animal protein will actually lead to that your body uses a lot of the calcium you take in. Animal protein is very acidic, and to balance this your body will withdraw calcium from you bones, so to keep you bones healthy you then have to consume higher amounts of calcium. Because of this, getting you calcium mainly from dairy products, as the recommendations today say, is quite contra productive, since the dairy products themselves are high in acidic animal protein.

So stop obsessing over drinking those glasses of milk every day and start getting your calcium from plants instead, folks!

On my plate

I have wanted to post some pictures of different foods we have made or eaten recently, just to give an idea of what I eat, maybe give someone a little inspiration, and show how changing vegan food can be, if you let it. So here it comes: