Vegan MoFo Red Week – Red Bell Peppers


Today I am going to show some love to red bell peppers, one of the most wonderful foods on the planet.


Growing up I really had no affection for peppers.  I thought they were too bitter and I didn’t really enjoy their watery crunch.  Now, however, I find them to be a really delicious and refreshing snack option, especially paired with a creamy dip like hummus or even pesto.  I still don’t like the green ones, actually, but red (as well as orange and yellow) I’m down with.

And we all know how incredible roasted red peppers are.  I love to use them in a variety of recipes or put them on a sandwich for a sweet, tangy addition with a mouthwatering texture.  I tend to like to roast my own rather than buying them in a jar or can from the store.  If you’ve never tried roasting your own peppers, I highly recommend it.

Roasted Red Peppers
All you need is a bell pepper or two and some olive oil for brushing.

To Make: Preheat oven to 425. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, removing the seeds and membranes.  Lightly brush peppers on all sides with olive oil (or you can use a spray can).  Place them cut-side down on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.


Roast for about 20 minutes, until they are soft and the skins are lightly browned/blackened in some places.  When they are done, you can enjoy as is, or if you like them without the skin like I do, place them into a brown paper bag and allow to cool.  When you take them out, the skins will peel right off!

Some people (not me) are lucky enough to have gas stoves, in which case you can actually roast your red pepper directly on the flame!  Doing it in the oven always does the trick for me, though.

Now, have some fun with your roasted red peppers!  They’re delicious as a pizza, pasta, or salad topping, or you can make them into soup…

Soup 001

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Bisque
Serves 4, maybe more!
Inactive time: 6-8 hours for soaking cashews and 20 minutes for roasting red peppers
Active time: 20 minutes
(This recipe has been given the omnivore seal of approval by H.)

You Need:
2 red bell peppers, roasted and skins removed
1 cup of cashews, soaked 6-8 hours or overnight
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, lightly minced
1.5 cups of vegetable broth (use up to 2 cups if you’d like it a little thinner)
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil (you can omit this if you don’t like or don’t have fresh basil)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To Make:
Drain soaking water from cashews and rinse well.  Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then add onion and garlic and saute until the onions start to become translucent (usually takes about 3-4 minutes).  Turn off heat and add onion garlic mixture to a blender. Add roasted red peppers, cashews, and vegetable broth and blend until smooth and creamy (this might take a couple of minutes, depending on your blender).  Return blended mixture to saucepan and heat until just warmed through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy with crusty bread or your favorite croutons!

I have recently become intrigued by the idea of using roasted red peppers to make sauce as well.  It’s so standard to make pasta or pizza with tomato sauce but red peppers actually stand in surprisingly well and add a depth of flavor to the sauce that is really unique.  I did this last week with a dish from Happy Herbivore, Creole Black Eyed Peas (click for recipe).  The red sauce is made from pureeing sauteed onions with roasted red pepper.  It is absolutely delicious, not to mention fat-free and healthy!

Creole BEP 1Here it is in the blender…

Creole BEPThe scrumptious result

Creole BEP 3A dinner plate the USDA would be proud of!

In what other fun ways do you use bell peppers (red or otherwise)?

The V Word

You know.  It ends with “egan.”

For the better part of the last five and a half years, I have eschewed food and beverages made from animal flesh or secretions. In addition, over the past year I have almost entirely eliminated products containing animal-derived ingredients (as well as harmful chemicals such as parabens and phthalates) from my collection of cosmetics, personal hygiene products, and cleaning supplies. I’m now turning my attention to the materials from which my clothing and accessories are made, with the goal of gradually eliminating and replacing items in my wardrobe with cruelty-free alternatives.

veg button

My choice to do these things is rooted in many deeply personal reasons, some of which include my personal health, the health of our planet, and our global society’s treatment of our fellow creatures and human beings.  I am happy and healthy, and entirely comfortable and satisfied with my choices.  However, I rarely talk about them (outside of the blog, of course), even with family or people I consider close friends.

And I hardly EVER use the V word.

Why not?  There are several reasons, but the main one is that I don’t really think people typically know what it means.  Even those who self-identify as “vegan” sometimes don’t know what it really means.  And in general, I don’t like using labels.


I read an interesting post on Happy Herbivore a week or two ago about the difference between the terms “vegan” and “plant-based.”  Read it here.  The distinction between the terms is not really something I had ever thought about, but it does make sense.  In the context of the HH article, I suppose “vegan” is the better term to describe me, as I do apply my ethics in other realms of my life outside of diet, and I do enjoy Oreos and other foods that are “vegan” but not really “plant-based.”  This fun bit of self-reflection, however, doesn’t do much to make me more comfortable with using the word.

Being married to an omnivore, I go out to eat at a lot of non-vegan establishments.  We try to choose places that have good options for both of us.  I’ve become a master of studying menus ahead of time to assess whether there are things I can eat or at least customize with relative ease.

Nevertheless, when ordering at a restaurant, I prefer to use a benign query about a particular entree (e.g., “Does the sauce contain dairy?”) than to ask, “Is this dish vegan?” or, “What vegan options do you have?”  I certainly never lead off with, “I’m vegan.  Can you bring me something with no dairy/cheese/butter?”  I know there are many vegans who would disagree with my prevarication, and while I recognize that dining-out situations represent something of a teachable moment, I’d rather just do what I need to do to assure myself that my meal comports with my ethics/diet and avoid getting into a discussion with a server who either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care.


All that being said, my general discomfort with the V word is greatly alleviated when someone I’m ordering from brings it up on their own.  As lame as it sounds, it’s a huge relief and something of a joy to me when this happens!

Last week, I was in Boloco, one of my favorite Boston-area establishments due to its varied menu, plethora of vegan options, and for actually knowing how to cook and season tofu.  I noticed that they had a couple of new menu items, one of them being the Jaffa Falafel burrito (falafel, roasted jalapeno hummus, romaine, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, green garbanzo beans, and lemon tahini sauce).  Knowing that some people don’t know the difference between tahini and tzatziki, however, I double-checked at the counter, “Does the tahini sauce contain dairy?”  “No,” replied the employee, “the Falafel is entirely vegan.”

Say what?!? I loved that she knew that.  I loved that she came right out and said it.

V Word 002

The falafel wasn’t bad either!

V Word 001

Green chickpeas.  How I love them.

Bottom line: this small thing made me smile and inspired me to write this post.  While I realize that the majority of restaurants aren’t going to become 100% (or, let’s be honest, even 5%) cruelty-free anytime soon, I really do appreciate when places take the time to train their employees to understand and accommodate customers with diets that are restricted by ethics, religion, or allergies.  Boloco is great about this.  Frankly, I wish more places were.

Breakfast of Champions

It’s been a while since I’ve done a breakfast post, so here goes.  Because my schedule this semester is so hectic and my days start much earlier, I’ve been trying out some new things in the morning.  For a few months I’d been doing the fruit-only breakfast thing a la Skinny Bitch, but I found it wasn’t working for me; it was causing me to eat more throughout the day, and since I’m trying to lose weight right now, that was obviously not a good thing. 

Last week for a quick fix I tried the French Toast recipe from Happy Herbivore’s sneak-peek cookbook.  

Here is a slice getting ready to be drizzled in maple syrup (my fave!) and gobbled up:

This was really yummy but very sweet and probably too caloric for my current needs.  I’ll save it for a future weekend breakfast treat.

I also tried out the Raw Coconut Pancakes that were posted on Vegan on Stage last week. 

Here is one decorated with banana and shredded coconut, and packed up to go to school with me:

These are delightful and felt good to eat.  However…my recipe made 7 of these and when I calculated the nutrition info, they came out to over 400 kcal each.  😦  I froze the remaining ones and plan to eat them on all-raw days or on days when I’ve exercised particularly hard.  Unfortunately I can’t eat them for a normal brekkie right now because they are filling but not filling enough to keep me from going over my calorie limit.

I know I don’t usually do product reviews on here, but I had to share this particular gem.  I’ve been making Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes alot of mornings and I absolutely love them.  Here’s a bowl fresh out of the microwave (and before add-ins):

A 1/3 c. of dry flakes makes this big bowl of goodness, to which I add 1 T. of maple syrup, 2 T. of dried blueberries, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and a dash or two of nutmeg.  All of that comes out to about 210 kcal per bowl.  This is a really great and satisfying hot cereal which keeps me full for a while and helps set a tone of NOT over-eating for the day (which imho is what breakfast is for!).  So yay for these 🙂

Be back soon with some potato-based fun!