Mine and Chris's first phone call (to set up our first date) went something like this:
Me: Well, I'm vegetarian, so no steak houses. Otherwise I can usually find something to eat anywhere.
Chris: I'm vegetarian too! So let's go to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant!
And that was that. I know ideal situations like this are few and far between. In fact, prior to Chris, I'd never dated another vegetarian and I'd done my fair share of defending my eating choices on dates. Between the DIY beer-brewer/sausage-maker dude to the professional chef/bartender to the uber-snobby foodie/wine-aficionado and all the other guys in between, I'd done the whole "No, I really don't want to try even a little bite of your steak" and the "Yes, I can eat this way and still live a happy life" so many times I'd probably begun to sound like a recording. I know I'm incredibly lucky that I never had to do that dance as a vegan and that Chris and I chose to go vegan together, but I know for many vegans, this is probably not the case.
If I had been vegan back in my dating days, I know I would've loved to have a book or guide to help me navigate those sometimes very bumpy roads. The Lusty Vegan, by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg, is the vegan dating guide of your dreams, wrapped up into a cookbook. With humorous stories, straight-up advice, and loads of delicious recipes, The Lusty Vegan is like Sex and the City meets Vegan With A Vengeance. In other words, it's absolutely fantastic.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of trying some of Ayinde Howell's cooking a party thrown by Tofurkey. He'd catered the event and everything I tasted was Incredible, with a capital I. I was particularly fond of his Truffled Mac & Yease and I'd hoped to find the recipe in this book, but alas, it looks like I'll have to dry my tears with all of the other drool-worthy recipes in this book. I'm going to have to try recipes like Nacho Mac & Cheese, Cloud 9 Pancakes, and Personal Pan Chocolate Pizza. Poor Me.
My cooking time has been severely limited recently so all I've been able to try so far is the Cajun Tofu & Dirty Quinoa. I was drawn to this recipe because I'm always looking for new ways to eat tofu and this one did not disappoint. By freezing the tofu and defrosting it prior to cooking it, you get a firmer filet. I've never rubbed spices onto tofu before but this recipe has made me a believer. Holy cow- this is some of the most flavorful tofu I've ever had! And the dirty quinoa is so easy to make and made for the perfect accompaniment. The wine-based butter sauce made me feel like a super fancy chef and even though I cooked my tofu and butter sauce in a cast-iron pan (which made the sauce much darker than what's shown in the book) it really highlighted the flavors of the tofu and quinoa perfectly. I can see myself making this dish, or elements of this dish, regularly from now on.
From The Lusty Vegan © 2014 by Ayinde Howell and Zoe Eisenberg. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup quinoa, well-rinsed
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium wheat-free tamari
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Sea salt
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, frozen and defrosted
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon safflower oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium wheat-free tamari
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
- Quinoa: In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then stir in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly from the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Add the garlic, and sauté for an additional minute.
- Add the cooked quinoa and mix well. Add the tamari, Cajun seasoning, thyme, and red pepper flakes (if using), and mix until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Remove from the heat.
- Tofu: Cut the tofu into 4 slices, approximately 1/8-inch thick. Use a paper towel to press out as much water from the tofu as possible, then transfer the tofu to a shallow bowl. In a separate small bowl combine Cajun seasoning, basil, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and sage and mix well. Use your hands to gently rub the seasoning mixture onto the tofu, coating well. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and sear for 3 minutes on each side, until brown and slightly crispy. Add the water and tamari to the skillet and allow to reduce for 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the dirty quinoa onto the plates and top with the tofu.
- Butter Sauce: Melt the butter in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 30 to 45 seconds. Add the Cajun seasoning, basil, and sage. Working quickly, add 1/4 cup of the white wine and the cornstarch and sauté until mixture begins to bubble rapidly. Mix continually with a whisk or fork. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of white wine and allow the alcohol to burn off. It may flambé, but the fire won’t last long. Remove from the heat and stir until the sauce becomes cloudy. Immediately spoon the butter sauce over the plated quinoa and tofu and garnish with sliced grape tomatoes.
The authors, along with Vegan Heritage Press, have been kind enough to let me give away a copy of The Lusty Vegan to one of my crazy-amazing readers! The giveaway is open to US residents only and will run until 11:59 pm PST on October 21st, 2014. Please use the box below to enter.
Thank you so much to Ayinde Howell, Zoe Eisenberg, and Vegan Heritage Press for allowing me to review and giveaway a copy of this book. Thank you to all of you fabulous people for stopping by and entering!
Do you have any vegan relationship stories? Dish it up- I want to hear!
Disclaimer: I was given this book to review though the opinions expressed here are my own.
Aside from the cover photo, photography by Chris Miller
No real romantic relationship stories to report but friendships, rather. Some of the most friendly and supportive friendship I have are with my blogging buddies who are also vegan. Community is key! Whether it's online or IRL!
Thankfully, my husband and I became vegan at the same time!
My boyfriend and I were both already vegan when we started dating. So is my mom, one of my siblings, and his entire immediate family, so I totally lucked out that both dates and family events have been pretty foodstress-free. This book looks perfect for recipes to cook for the other omnivores in my life though.
Under the heading of "there's always hope", I (earthy-crunchy Californian who grew up mostly vegetarian) married a guy who literally ate a hamburger for dinner every night from age 10 (basically, when he was tall enough to reach the stove) until he left for college. A couple of years ago he read The China Study and had "an epiphany" (his words). Now he's the one who announces "Hey, there's a new vegan restaurant opening downtown! Let's go check it out!"
I've never even BEEN in a relationship (I'm 19, it's about damn time!), and veganism makes it all the more difficult. Oh well. I have an intense love affair with food anyways.
It's hard in the dating world as a vegan. My ex's idea of a good date was going to a steak house as picked at a dry plate of lettuce. My current boyfriend is not vegan, however we keep a meat free kitchen. Finding a compromise is important without compromising your beliefs.
My poor fiance witnessed my major meltdown (there were tears) when my "vegan" enchiladas had chicken. Luckily he's a trooper.
I used to work at an overnight summer camp and would bring my own rice/soy milk to store in the staff fridge, my best friend whom I was in love with would frequently help himself to my milk. he would also dip into my dry goods (oatmesl, dried fruit, granola bars) leaving me short on food for the week and hungry. Things didn't work out, obviously :p
I wish I had a great story to share but I don't.
Sitting at the table looking at the menu the guy would always look at me and say what are going to eat, the SALAD? It wasn't until I met my husband (then boyfriend) that he would encourage me to go to veg/vegan restaurants because he wanted to try the new cuisines. Glad I found the right one for me. Our thing now is exploring new vegan treats/snacks once a month. Great cookbook I follow the blog and would to see his Mac and cheese food truck come alive. Thanks
I met my boyfriend through my university's vegetarian club. We were both in the presidency and really hit it off!
millie l Add A Little
Literally sounds amazing! I love the sound of the quinoa!
Ali @ Farmers Market Vegan
Sorry, none to tell! But I'm all for relationships with non-vegans. 🙂
No, sadly I am the only vegan I know in person.
wish I did have a vegan relationship story. my husband is Moroccan and his family even eats meat for dessert.
I started dating a vegan, which helped prompt me to make the switch to vegetarianism (something I had been working towards for about 18 months....I wanted to learn as much as I could before I made things official and make a nutritionally sound transition). Having someone else who I was close to who understood (my immediate family are all HUGE meat eaters) helped give me the boost I needed to make a wonderful life choice.
My best friends are vegan and my favorite meal is a big lentil burger with vegan mayo...
I wish I could say I've never had to defend my lifestyle, but it happens too often.
I phased from vegetarian to vegan a few years back and despite some initial resistance, my husband now prefers the way I cook. He's constantly giving friends and family ideas and cookbooks and recipes! My heart melts a little bit every time he willingly orders something plant based (especially when I'm not around!) or asks for veggie soup after the holidays.
The Spanish teacher, Señora, is vegan and brings the most delicious tabbouli!
Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir
OH man...dream date scenario. Then you actually get to split everything on the first date, instead of waiting till the 5th date and suggesting they order something you can try too...
Digging this meaty spiced recipe though!
My current boyfriend is not vegan but luckily respects that I am. He's always up to trying my food experiments and giving feedback 🙂 and he doesn't mind when there isn't meat involved in our dinners! He's officially a tofu fan now haha.
I became plant based after 9 years of eating meat, dairy and eggs with my spouse. I think he thought it would pass like my brief low carb stint. I love the food and knowing that I'm not only doing my part for my health and my kids health, but also the animals and planet. It has been a struggle and spouse still randomly cooks meat to eat with the dinners I've made ie: turkey burgers with my Asian stir fry, steak with my chili over cornbread waffles. I don't cook meet for dinner so he feels sometimes like he needs to add it even if it doesn't really go with the meal. 🙂 Its not a battle I choose anymore.
I don't really have any fun stories to tell...my fiancee is not a vegan, but he's very supportive of my eating choices! He's always willing to try everything, and hes all for eating healthy 🙂
Haven't made the transition to vegan yet but leaning towards it. It's a rarity to even find another vegetarian in a small Midwestern town. At social gathering I bring my own food or be prepared to eat chips for dinner!
My husband and I have explored vegetarian/vegan cuisine together, luckily, and that's all I cook. He occasionally eats meat elsewhere or in restaurants, but thankfully my whole family is very flexible and accepting!
not totally vegan but like the options and taste. i think vegan meals are nice on occasion
My story is a happy one 🙂
I inspired my then-vegetarian bf to go full-on vegan! Kind makes up for all the people who I couldn't convince
I met my now husband 15yrs ago, shortly after I became semi-vegetarian (I still ate fish). Since we met I've been cooking meat for him and at first I didn't really mind as I figured what you ate was an individual choice and I didn't want to push my beliefs on him. However since becoming vegan six months ago I really want to not cook meat any more but his love affair with meat will never end and he works long hours so can't cook for himself. If I stop cooking meat he will just buy more unhealthily-cooked, factory-farmed takeaway meals. Not sure what to do about this!
You had me at butter wine sauce!....mmmmm this sounds good.
I love your first date story - serendipitous as ever. 🙂 I'd love to find a great guy who is supportive of my eating choices. One day....
I don't have any vegan relationship stories. I can say that when I went vegan 15 years ago everyone thought I was crazy. Now I have friends who followed my lead.
sorry no good stories.
My transition to veganism was slow but sure and luckily my partner is a true omnivore in that he loves ALL foods, including veggies. When I first gave up meat, I promised I wouldn't ask him to do the same and as time has gone on, that promise has stuck. We maintain a vegan household and he will order meat and dairy when out about as often as he'll order a veg meal. In fact, when just the two of us go out we tend to hit up one of hte many amazing veg restaurants in NYC. Living here certainly makes it easy!
Brandie at The Fitness Fork
My boyfriend is a very dedicated meat eater, although I have gotten him to try some of my vegan foods! Slowly, but surely. Making progress....
When my husband and I were first dating I would serve up Mac and 4 cheese with a side of steak for dinner! He finally asked if I would ever consider eating more vegetable dishes and I just laughed at him! 10 years later and I'm vegan and he's always ribbing me to "just try 1 bite" of his steak, or cheese, or ice cream. No thanks, I've got it covered! http://frieddandelions.com/about-me/my-journey-to-veganism/
I was a vegetarian when I met my husband. He became a vegetarian just three weeks after meeting me!
Thalia @ butter and brioche
I decided to go vegan for a month and honestly never felt better - this is definitely a recipe that I must recreate.. that tofu looks seriously incredible and jam packed full of yummy flavour!
My friends and family are slowly getting converted in a way..they're realizing vegan good can be delicious and so good!!
Sorry - no great story to tell, but this recipe looks delicious enough to maybe tempt my tofu-averse roommate to try it 😉
Mmm...I love using tofu, not because I'm vegan, but because it's the cheapest form of protein I can find. This is one of the most creative tofu recipes I've seen in awhile! If you'd ever consider linking up at #FoodieFridays I'd love to see this recipe over there next week (if not, I'll still drool over it now;).
Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming
i've dabbled with vegan, and my boyfriend absolutely cannot understand!!! my best friend is the go-to for vegan dinner dates 🙂
I would love to go vegan, and yes my boyfriend doesn't understand it either!!
No vegan romance, but my omnivore husband does love all of the vegan food that I make! And I wooed him with vegan food, so I guess that counts for something ;).
I've always intrested becoming vegan. Once went on my everyweek-sunday-free-yoga-classes in park. After headstands and back bends i was exhausted, and there was a girl with large basket filled with chocolade cookies. Of course I immediately grabed one, and it was the bast cookie I've ever try... It was like melty one, chewy inside, a little bit chrunchy on edges... Oh, amazing! The best thing it was vegan. That incident pushed me to searching and learning about this way of life. Now I'am on a good road to become honest human being!
I once went on a few dates with a guy who hardly knew what it meant to be vegan. That's perfectly fine of course, since I know that not everyone is familiar with the concept. But in one of his attempts to understand what I do and don't eat, he asked me if potatoes were vegan... That's probably one of the silliest "is it vegan?" questions I've ever gotten 🙂
My SO is far from vegan, but he's very nice about always looking for restaurants that I can eat at. I just wish he'd be a little more thorough when washing our shared pots and pans.
I've found dating non vegans to be a bit difficult, but we made it work.
My SO was not vegan when we started dating, but fortunately is now. I didn't force the change at all.
Funny story... One one of our first dates I refused a kiss goodnight when I looked over at a large ice coffee that was mostly milk (so light) that she had just sipped. It sparked some conversations later.
I'm still waiting to meet that special vegan.