12 of My Childhood Favorites—Veganized

First, a primer on my past love-hate thing with food, and a bit of personal nostalgia and other rambling.

I was big into food as a kid, even before my dad owned a popular Italian restaurant just outside of Los Angeles in the 1960s. We always had lots of tasty foods in our life and even more so from the restaurant which we all spent a lot of time at, along with our friends. See the 🍝 items below for those favorites inspired by my dad’s restaurant fare. All their recipes were invented by him and his brother, and they certainly had a way with the food!

Here is the only mention of the restaurant I can find online; search David B.’s comment and his mention of “Reggio’s”: http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods/neighborhood/monterey-park/comments/. Note that our restaurant wasn’t actually in Monterey Park but was on the Montebello side of its border, and David B. says it’s a Chinese restaurant now but actually it’s a Chinese laundromat and boba/smoothie bar.

Here’s an old pic of the restaurant’s namesake, the region of half my roots, where my dad was born and lived for a short time before the family immigrated to the USA’s east coast:

Reggio Calabria, Italy, 4 years before my dad was born.

So, as a result of all that tasty food and more, I had a chronic weight problem starting mildly at about age six; obviously the love for good food didn’t quite jibe with my raging fat genes. Two aunts and both their parents on my dad’s side were very obese and had hearty appetites, and the aunts loved to cook and have family gatherings. Well, yours truly was often an eager guest at those family food fests, then it would carry over to my home life since I and my mom liked to cook and eat, and she had developed a weight problem too, after having children.

Food was a main expression of love and thus a comforting “drug” in our rather lost and dysfunctional family, a drug with quite the destructive aspects. Thus the love-hate. I had a serious struggle (mostly on the losing end) with being very fat for much of my life, as did my younger brother. The family’s judgement and condemnation were further destructive…but they later came to regret the way they’d been, and were forgiven, at least by me.

Veganism at last came to my rescue, as well as that of all those animals I’d have downed…

Since going all the way and ending the dairy/egg cheating, and being strictly vegan starting in 2009, I got down to merely “chubby”—about the middle category in following illustration as opposed to the far leftI’d like to be the one just to the right of middle. But for the first time ever, I’m pretty comfortable with my weight and it’s been stable for years, no longer fluctuates hugely due to going from bingeing to starvation diets.

I’m no longer a target for mean, nasty, rude PsOS out there like I once was either. “Hey fatty!” and “Jenny Craig!” and other such sweet things would occasionally be hollered at me from nasty faces in cars rolling past, and other such sickening incidents. I’ve seen this happen to other people and always have to wonder what sort of creeps find it necessary to embarrass people like that. I’d rather be 200+ lbs than be that sort of creep.

Too late for a tangent alert? Well, here’s more…

Anyhow, I only love veganized versions of old favorites, no more hate. I’ve pretty much learned how to avoid the temptation to overeat, mainly by not having the more decadent foods regularly on hand at home, instead concentrating on healthier, non-fattening stuff. On top of that, I simply don’t have the huge appetite I once had, probably because what I do eat is mostly nutritious and satisfying…all plant foods. Where before I would remain hungry and keep on eating rich treats, more and more and more until sickly full, badly bloated, sluggish, and guilty about gaining ever more weight.

There was no “shutoff” on the appetite except for no more room for any more food. It wasn’t pretty, a miserable cycle of self destruction. But good tasting. First-World problems, I know, but no less real.

Casein, the mild opiate and appetite stimulant—for infants.

I believe dairy foods’ casein is behind much of the obesity out there and is only one more reason to quit dairy products, aside from the horrible animal cruelty involved, which should be the primary motivator.

My eating and weight problems were partly hormonal, since after “the change of life” my food & weight problems lessened significantly, as opposed to most women (mostly non-vegans) who have the opposite going on. But I do believe a big part of my lifelong problem was the casein in dairy products and its appetite stimulating and slight opiate effects. Cheese, sweet yogurt, ice cream, etc., were always a big part of bingeing. (I say “bingeing,” but I’ve always been a slow eater, so my “binges” weren’t the fast & furious things most bingers are known for.)

On a side note, meats are said to be nutritionally dense and satisfying (by advertisers and the well-programmed public), but I always found meats to be a catalyst for gorging on decadent desserts and things afterwards, aside from lots of other refined carbs like white biscuits and such that accompanied meaty meals. All in all, a high-calorie, obesity causing nightmare, for those many of us with “bad” genes.

So there’s my thing with tasty food, I love the stuff. Who wouldn’t?

But these twelve, in random order, are extra special because they’re compassionate versions of nostalgic childhood treats. These are all homemade, mostly from scratch, so are for those of us with time and patience to make some complicated recipes. But these all seem guaranteed to be worth the fuss. Just click on the links for full recipes and if you make them, enjoy!

1) 🍝 http://www.pastabased.com/spaghetti-and-meatballs/

Vegan Spaghetti & Meatballs by Pasta Based

2) http://blacksgoingvegan.com/crispy-spicy-popeyes-chicken-style-vegan-fried-chicken/

Vegan Fried Chicken by Blacks Going Vegan

3) http://namelymarly.com/vegan-drumsticks/

Vegan Drumsticks by Namely Marly

4) 🍝 http://ahouseinthehills.com/2014/12/04/chickpea-minestrone/

Chickpea Minestrone Soup by A House in the Hills

5) http://namelymarly.com/vegan-big-mac/

Vegan Big Mac by Namely Marly

6) http://www.theflamingvegan.com/view-post/Easy-Vegan-Black-Bean-Tamales

Easy Black Bean Tamales by The Flaming Vegan

7) http://www.forkandbeans.com/2015/01/15/vegan-chickpea-omelet/

Vegan Chickpea Omelet by Fork and Beans

8) https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/the-ultimate-vegan-chocolate-cake/

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake by It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

9) 🍝 http://namelymarly.com/vegan-new-york-style-cheesecake/

Vegan New York Cheese Cake by Namely Marly

10) 🍝 https://www.exceedinglyvegan.com/vegan-recipes/mains/vegan-pizza-cashew-cheese

Pizza with Cashew Cheese by Exceedingly Vegan

11) http://namelymarly.com/vegan-lemon-meringue-pie/

Lemon Meringue Pie by Namely Marly

12) http://veganyumminess.com/creamy-vegan-mac-and-cheese/

Vegan Mac and Cheese by Vegan Yumminess

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You Know What? Veggie Burgers are AWESOME!

WARNING! The following images are graphic, not suitable for those who aggressively abhor “fake meat,” who turn their noses up at fantastic sandwiches simply because they contain no abused, slaughtered animal products. Those who call veggie burgers “processed” as if they cannot still be real, healthy food. Those who imply that they religiously shun actual processed, unhealthy foods (hah!). Well, those people will lack the maturity to handle the truth about good food.

So keep out, you! Do not scroll, just go away!

In case it’s not clear yet: That means you persnickety clowns who say “ew” to veggie burgers or to anything “soy,” but not to ground-up dead carcasses, blood, gristle, poop (yes there’s poop in virtually all ground meat: http://www.motherjones.com/food/2015/08/poop-ground-beef-superbugs-antibiotic-resistant/). Then there are the bone chips, cow hair, tumors, etc., all processed into a nice reddish slush. All that makes “real burger” lovers drool and their little faces light up, in obedience to all those creepy commercials.

Well, much to their horror, in came tasty, filling, compassionate burgers…

Most burgers are made delicious by the spices, condiments and veggie garnishes, so why not a patty made with beans, seeds, nuts, soy, grains, mushrooms and so on? With veggie burgers we have the added greatness of kindness, as well as their being delicious and healthy (more so than blood burgers anyways).

I enjoy the occasional fantastic veggie burger, sometimes even on sprouted whole-grain buns (no flour), imagine that…oh, the horror. A personal favorite is just about any good brand of vegan burger, grilled and topped with coleslaw (made with vegan mayo) and tomato & pickle slices on a sprouted-grain bun. A bit of hummus or melted vegan cheese makes it even richer and tastier.

Following are ten scrumptious looking veggie burgers that should silence all the nasty hype against the veganizing of popular foods…but of course slaughter lovers will keep on carping. So just ignore them, go and make you some great burgers, and enjoy…

1) 

Cheeze Stuffed Bella Burgers with Figs, Rocket, and Herbed Vegenaise | by Vegan Feast

2) 

Burger Made with Quinoa & Carrots, etc.

3) 

Vegan Fourth of July Feast! by Troy Tolley on flickr

4) 

Black Bean Burger with Home Fries

5) 

Vegan Burger by Shpernik088

6) 

Beyond Meat’s Vegan Cheeseburger

7) 

Sunshine Burger’s Quarter Pound Original

8) 

Hilary’s Eat Well Burger at Native Foods Cafe

9) 

Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Fries at Lodge NYC

10) 

Lentil Burgers – Great even all by themselves.

Then there’s this guy 🙂

Veggie Burger Speed Eating Contest

27 Vegan Super Foods to Rely On and Why

In alphabetical order, here are the superfoods…go get ‘em and get healthier!

Almonds (and other nuts)

Almonds are the most calcium-rich nut out there. And, from Medical News Today: “Almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high-quality protein; they also contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids along with high levels of bioactive molecules (such as fiber, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals, and antioxidants) which can help prevent cardiovascular heart diseases.”

Amaranth (called a grain but is a seed)

From Dr. Axe: “Amaranth is a great source of protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. It will keep your digestive system regulated, build your strength, and reduce the risk of fracture or broken bones.”

It’s an anti-inflammatory food, gluten free, prevents diabetes, and lowers cholesterol. How to use amaranth: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-amaranth-64211

Asparagus

From Eating Well: “Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.”

It’s also a brain booster, helps fight cancer, powerful antioxidant, and natural diuretic. Steamed, roasted, sautéed, or added to stir-fries, asparagus is tasty and great for us.

Avocados

A tree fruit loaded with vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds, notably potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, and copper. Avocados are rich in good fats, namely monounsaturated fat, and contain a bit of polyunsaturated fat. They even contain a good amount of fiber (11% of daily need in just 1/3 of a medium Haas avocado). All in all, avocados are a great nutrition source.

Beans (especially black, but also chickpeas, pintos and all the rest)

Black beans are tasty, fat free, fiber rich, and rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, notably: iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, with impressive amounts of vitamins thiamin and folate. They’re affordable, filling, disease-fighting due to being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, good for diabetics, cancer preventive. Of all the beans, black are best, but the rest are great for us too.

Blueberries (and others like cherries, raspberries, strawberries)

From Dr. Axe: “Natural medicine has long held that these round purple berries give long-life health benefits… Native to North America, blueberries are rich in proanthocyanidin, contributing to blueberry benefits that include fighting cancer, losing weight and glowing, young skin. Blueberries are also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and other antioxidants that lead to its numerous other health benefits…

…The ORAC score of blueberries is an incredible 9,621, which makes it one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world.”

Bok Choy

This low-calorie, high-fiber cruciferous vegetable has a full spectrum of over 70 antioxidants which is a major cancer preventive benefit, in addition to its cancer fighting glucosinolates and sulfur-containing compounds. Bok choy also has impressive amounts of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and lutein, as well as vitamins/minerals: K, C, potassium, folate, calcium, B6, manganese, and iron. Bok choy is simply awesome. Recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/stir-fried-bok-choy-and-mizuna-with-tofu

Broccoli

One of the world’s most nutritious vegetables, broccoli contains vitamins A, C, K, B (including folate), and minerals calcium, iron and potassium. It’s high in fiber, low in calories, non-fat, and even has protein (8% of needed in just 50 calories worth or just above 5 oz., and that’s not much broccoli). Broccoli is affordable, can be kept frozen and used as needed in stir-fries, steamed, roasted, or eaten raw. It’s tasty enough too, easy to learn to enjoy. It’s a fantastic food, basically.

Brussels Sprouts

These little green balls contain impressive amounts of fiber, vitamins K and C, a bit of vitamin A, folate, manganese, B vitamins and protein, and even 270 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in just one cup cooked (recommend daily dose is 250 to 500 milligrams of EPA & DHA for healthy adults). Brussels can decrease your risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders; can improve energy, muscle growth, eyesight and complexion. Great recipe including two other foods in this article: https://www.thespruce.com/roasted-mixed-vegetables-with-maple-glaze-3377354

Carrots

They’re of course good for the eyes with their high beta-carotene (vitamin A) content. One medium raw carrot has 5% of your daily potassium need, 6% of fiber, 6% of vitamin C, and 5% of your magnesium. Cooking till just tender can make more of carrots’ nutrition absorbable, but raw (well-shredded or -chewed) they’re still nutritious. Carrot juice is surprisingly tasty, with large amounts of beta-carotene which converts to retinol (vitamin A) in needed/safe amounts…as opposed to “real” vitamin A in animal products and supplements which can be toxic when over-consumed.

Cocoa (dark chocolate)

Cocoa powder is low in calories and has almost no sugar, but is a bit high in saturated fat which is said to be a good fat that doesn’t harm cholesterol levels. Natural cocoa (as opposed to Dutch processed with alkali) is a good source of protein, riboflavin and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese. According to Livestrong, it’s said that cocoa may lower LDL cholesterol, reduce the risk of blood clots, increase blood flow to the arteries, and lower high blood pressure.

Flaxseed Meal

Flaxseed meal gives us fiber, omega-3 fat, protein, vitamins B1 & B6, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, potassium, copper, and zinc. It increases nutrient absorption by its mucilage gum content, and reduces sugar cravings, improves skin & hair health, etc. It promotes digestive health by protecting the lining of the GI tract, while also relieving constipation. High in antioxidants (lignans), flaxseeds help reduce risk of cancer as well as being immunity boosting, anti-aging, hormone balancing, and beneficial to cellular health.

Garlic

Garlic improves the flavor of most every savory dish, and is very healthy due to its high Allicin content. Garlic is low-calorie with impressive amounts of manganese, B6, vitamins B6 & C, selenium, fiber, and a bit of a few other essential nutrients. Based in human studies, garlic is immunity boosting, able to prevent or help treat colds & flu, improves cholesterol levels; its antioxidant effect can prevent Alzheimer’s, etc., and garlic can reduce heavy metal toxicity in the body. Onions, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions are also members of the garlic (Allium) family with some of the same, if lesser, nutrient values.

Green Peas

A cup of peas has less than 100 calories but lots of protein, fiber and micro-nutrients. Surprisingly, green peas are very nutritious, with a good amount of calcium, iron, copper, zinc, and manganese, 45% of the daily need of vitamin K for blood coagulation, and nearly 25% of daily need of thiamin, vitamin A, and folate. Peas’ high polyphenol content, a phytonutrient called coumestrol, is shown to prevent stomach cancer in human studies. Peas are also high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulating, heart healthy, good for our bones, and even environmentally beneficial.

Hemp Seeds

These most nutritious seeds in the world are allergen-free and provide complete protein, essential fats omega 3 & 6, and virtually no sugar. They help prevent obesity and improve our energy, disease/injury recovery and heart health. They’re anti-inflammatory and help with circulation, immunity, and blood sugar. Hemp seeds provide: gamma linolenic acid (GLA), antioxidants, all the amino acids, fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and enzymes.

Kale (and other dark leafy greens like collards, spinach, turnip greens)

Mind Body Green states the top 10 benefits of eating kale: 1) Low-calorie, high-fiber, zero fat, 2) High iron, 3) High in vitamin K, 4) Filled with powerful antioxidants, 5) A great anti-inflammatory food, 6) Great for cardiovascular support, 7) High in vitamin A, 8) High in vitamin C, 9) High in calcium, and 10) A great detoxifying food (due to its fiber and sulfur content and keeping your liver healthy).

Just 2 cups chopped finely provide us with large amounts of essential vitamins A & K, not to mention all the rest of its nutrients, so kale is a vital addition to our diets.

Lentils

Mind Body Green states the top 7 benefits of lentils: 1) Lower cholesterol (due to their artery cleansing soluble fiber), 2) Heart health (due to their high folate & magnesium), 3) Digestive health (due to their insoluble fiber), 4) Stabilized blood sugar (due to the soluble fiber), 5) Good protein (26% of their calories are protein), 6) Increases energy (from their fiber, complex carbs and iron), and 7) Weight loss (due to their high nutrition while being low-calorie; 1 cup cooked contains 230 calories and virtually no fat).

Millet (and other whole grains like oats, rye, barley, wheat)

Millet has a uniquely high nutrient content, including B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and is a healthy source of essential fats. High in fiber & protein, millet helps your heart and cholesterol levels, protects against diabetes, aids digestion, lowers risk of cancer, has antioxidant effects, and can help with asthma. A caution: The excessive work needed to properly digest and process millet may be damaging to those with poor glandular and/or thyroid health, so millet should be used in modest or moderate amounts. Oats, rye, barley (and wheat for those not sensitive to it) can be used instead.

Mushrooms

When cooked, they’re said to prevent cancer; but their cells walls are undigestible when raw and also thought to slightly increase cancer risk. Mushrooms are heart healthy, immune boosting, and provide many of the nutritional benefits of high-protein foods. They’re low-calorie, fat-free, cholesterol- & gluten-free, low-sodium, and provide vital nutrients like selenium, potassium, riboflavin, and niacin. Mushrooms go great with tofu, greens and sweet potatoes. Here’s a tasty recipe for those who like things complicated (haha not me): https://www.tastyseasons.com/baked-tofu-coconutty-kale-sweet-potatoes-mushrooms/

Potatoes

Russet, white or red, those tasty potatoes all offer good nutrition, are an excellent source of vitamins C & B6, potassium, fiber, and iron. They’re fat-, sodium-, cholesterol-, and gluten-free, and low in calories (roughly 30 c’s per ounce). Said to be high on the Glycemic Index (bad for blood sugar), but that is in dispute; still, potatoes should perhaps be used sparingly for diabetics or those with blood sugar issues. It’s said that excess calories overall (especially animal protein & fat) contribute to type 2 diabetes, more than carbs do. Potatoes are more nutritious with skin on, but peeled are still nutritious.

Pumpkin

Plain cooked pumpkin flesh is high-fiber, nutrient-rich, low-calorie; it has a bit of protein, almost zero fat, and is low-carb, but with a high Glycemic Index… yet its being low-carb offsets its blood sugar effect, so its GI rating of 75 isn’t quite right. (Under 55 GI is considered low, 55 and up is high.) Pumpkin is very high in antioxidant beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A. It may help prevent cancer, heart disease and premature aging. One cup of puree provides about 3,200 IU of converted vitamin A which fills the daily need in adults, and also vitamins K, C & E and minerals: iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, etc..

Quinoa

Quinoa dates back 3000-4000 years. The “supergrain” is actually a seed with high amounts of these vital nutrients: Protein (all 9 essential amino acids), Fiber (lowers cholesterol, etc., is heart healthy and relieves constipation), Iron (supplies oxygen to our muscles & brain), Lysine (for tissue growth & repair), Magnesium (for blood vessel health, migraine relief, control of blood sugar & prevention/treatment of diabetes, healthy bones & teeth, etc.), Riboflavin/B2 (improves energy metabolism in brain & muscle cells), and antioxidant Manganese (prevents damage by protecting cells from free radicals).

Soy Beans (organic tofu, etc.)

The ORGANIC, non-GMO, high-protein soybean and its whole or minimally processed products like tofu contain 8 of the 9 essential amino acids (complete protein). Soy is a great source of fiber, B vitamins, calcium, and omega-3 fat. It can reduce menopause problems in women; its isoflavones (phytoestrogens) have been found to have antioxidant properties. As far as any hormonal problems from soy, that’s very likely a misleading fear tactic used by those protecting their own interests. Here’s a recent, concluded human study on women with breast cancer: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.30615/abstract

Sunflower Seeds (and others including sesame, pumpkin, etc.)

These little beige things can be quite tasty (when lightly roasted/salted) but are healthiest raw. They promote cardiovascular health due to their vitamin E and folate, their phytosterols support healthy cholesterol levels, their magnesium promotes respiratory, heart and reproductive health. Magnesium also improves our moods, relieves depression, etc. The selenium in sunflower and other seeds is a powerful antioxidant and good for thyroid health. So what’s not to love about that beautiful flower and it’s thousands of health-promoting seeds?

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (as beta-carotene), and a good source of vitamins C & B6, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, as well as potassium, fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus. The original “healthiest diet in the world” of past Okinawans of Japan was sweet-potato based, since these delicious orange spuds are excellent for us. Due to its high fiber, a BAKED sweet potato’s high 94 GI rating isn’t quite what it appears, and BOILED, sweet potato has a low 46 GI. Eat one large sweet potato and you’ve satisfied your daily adult need for converted vitamin A.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes, which are fruit, are a large part of the world’s diet. They’re impressive for their content of: Vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, vitamin K, potassium, copper, manganese, fiber, vitamins A, B6, B3, folate, and lesser amounts of several others. They’re low-calorie, have a very low GI rating, and are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, which protects our bones, liver, kidneys, and bloodstream, and reduces our risk for cancers, especially prostate cancer. Tomatoes’ heart health benefits are amazing due to their antioxidant properties and regulation of fats in the bloodstream.

And last but not least – Watermelon (and others like cantaloupe)

Live Science: “Watermelons are mostly water — about 92 percent — but this refreshing fruit is soaked with nutrients. Each juicy bite has significant levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants and amino acids. There’s even a modest amount of potassium.”

Vitamin B6 helps to break down/metabolize protein. Watermelon has beneficial relaxant effects on blood vessels due to its phytonutrients: lycopene, beta-carotene, and citrulline which converts to arginine, an amino acid that strengthens the heart & circulation system and thereby helps treat heart ailments.