Curious About Going Vegan? Here Are Three Things You Need To Know First

18 February 2014 by

We first reported back in December that Veganism and mindful eating was having a moment with Beyoncé and Jay Z taking up the 22-vegan challenge in what they called a “spiritual and physical cleanse”. And they’re not alone. Gywneth Paltrow is a huge fan, as well as Anne Hathaway, Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and the gorgeous Natalie Portman, who have all given up on meat and dairy for personal, health or environmental reasons.  

And now brilliant new cookbook Isa Does It promises to blow any remains of Veganism’s hippie mung-beans-and-patchouli-oil rep right out of the water. In it chef and Queen-Of-All-Things-Vegan Isa Chandra Moskowitz, pictured above, shows you how everyone can make simple, delicious vegan meals from scratch for every day of the week. There's over 150 mouthwatering dishes to choose from, including Sweet Potato Red Curry with Rice, Kale Bistro Beet Burgers and Orange Chocolate Chip Cake, all using supermarket-friendly ingredients. And if you’ve still wavering, try her two recipes for Smoky Incan Stew and Strawberry And Cream Bread Pudding, below.

And for those who are thinking about taking up veganism, we asked Isa some burning questions>>

1. How hard is it really follow really a vegan diet? Don't you miss meat and dairy?

Isa: ‘It's easy. I've been at it for a while now, so it's easy for me. I don’t miss meat or dairy nor do I get any cravings that I can't satisfy with vegan ingredients. It's so important that you love what you eat and feel satisfied, and that is really why I started writing cookbooks. To make it easy for everyone!’ 

2. What do you eat when you're out for lunch, and how do you tackle restaurant menus?

Isa: ‘It depends where I am. I love to travel and try all the vegan options in different cities. But where to begin with what to eat at restaurants? Thai, Indian, Italian, Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Pizza, Burgers, you name it. Not to mention so many restaurants offer special vegan menus and then of course there are vegan restaurants.’ 

3. Did you lose weight when you first started?

Isa: ‘Nope. Veganism is not a weight loss diet, neither is it a fad diet, It's really an ethical choice. I went vegan because I love animals and wanted to do something good for the planet. People started viewing it as a weight loss diet a few years ago, and I think that's cool in that it gets people to even consider it, but it also makes people think that they can't indulge if they are vegan. Case in point: I wrote a book about vegan cupcakes! Those certainly are not diet food. Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you ever have to miss out on anything, even cupcakes. On the other hand, going vegan does tend to get you into amazing nutritious foods, like kale and quinoa and every manner of veggie under the sun.’ 

SMOKY INCAN STEW

Isa: ‘If you put quinoa in something it automatically becomes Incan. Did denizens of Mesoamerica sit around eating stew day and night? Probably not, but I really needed to shorten the name, because Quinoa, Black Bean & Chipotle Stew with Sweet Potatoes & Corn would spill off the page! This stew gets its smokiness from chipotles. Quinoa and black beans make it hearty and filling, and sweet potatoes add a naturally sweet touch. If you can, use fresh corn instead of frozen because it’s really worth it here. Since it’s added at the end, you get a fresh, snappy bite from each kernel.’

Serves: 6 to 8 * Total time: 45 mins * Active time: 20 mins

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped chipotles in adobo sauce, seeded
  • ¾ Cup quinoa (red quinoa looks prettiest)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾–inch chunks
  • 1 ½  cups corn kernels, preferably fresh
  • (see page 181; but frozen is okay)
  • 1 (15–ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and juice reserved, tomatoes crushed into pieces (see Note)
  • 1 (15–ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the onion in the oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chipotles, quinoa, broth, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for 7 minutes, until the quinoa is almost ready.
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the sweet potatoes. Cover the pot and simmer for about 12 minutes. The sweet potatoes should be tender and the quinoa fully cooked. Add the corn, tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro and simmer for about 7 minutes, just until everything is heated through. It tastes best if you let it sit for a few minutes before serving, allowing the flavors to marry. You may need to add some of the reserved tomato juice to thin it out to your liking. Serve hot.

Isa: ‘Working with chipotles can be a serious pain in the butt, but they’re worth it! Slice them lengthwise with a paring knife, then scrape the seeds out with the back of the knife and discard. It’s okay if you don’t get absolutely every single seed out; just do your best. The less seeds, the less heat, which means you can add more chipotles for maximum smokiness and flavor, keeping the spiciness pleasant. You’re bound to have extra chipotles. You can store them in a plastic bag in the fridge and use within a week, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be using chipotles twice in one week. What I like to do is store them in plastic and freeze. That way, whenever a dish could use a little spicy kick, I just break off a little frozen piece of chipotle.’

 

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM BREAD PUDDING

Isa: ‘Sometimes I stare at my bakery–fresh bread with laser eyes, trying to make it a little bit stale so that I can make bread pudding. It doesn’t usually work. But there is no better use for day–old bread than bread pudding! This version is rich with coconut milk and juicy sweet strawberries bleeding into the batter. It’s so creamy and berrylicious. Serve warm with a little coconut–based vanilla ice cream for added decadence.’

Serves: 8 * Total time: 1 hour * Active time: 20 mins

  • 6 cups 1–inch–cubed day–old bread
  • (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non–dairy milk)
  • 3 tablespoons organic cornstarch
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • Optional glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.
  2. Place the cubed bread in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the almond milk with the cornstarch to dissolve. Mix in the coconut milk, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over the cubed bread and stir to coat. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to let the liquid soak into the bread.
  3. Fold in the strawberries, then pour into the pan and spread so that it’s relatively even.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and feels firm to the touch. Allow to cool a bit on a cooling rack, then serve warm. Drizzle with glaze, if using.
  5. For the optional glaze: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Add the almond milk, vanilla, and coconut oil and stir until smooth.

 

 


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