Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vegan Transformation Story

Hi everyone!

This post is not so much about recipes, but about encouragement and sharing some of my story.

June 16th, 2016 was the day I finally made the decision to go 100% vegan.

The first step on my journey to going vegan: The documentary "The Cove" (2009) and South Park "Whale Whores" Season 13, episode 11.
The film "The Cove", is about the yearly dolphin slaughter happening in Taiji, Japan. It's a horrible practice, with real footage of the dolphins being rounded up and killed. I felt horrible. The film left me outraged and saddened. 

And then...South Park came out with an episode about the Japanese killing dolphins and whales. The episode is very much satire, but then it ends with a biting conclusion: 

Don't kill dolphins and whales. Kill cows and chickens instead.
Suddenly, I felt a sting of conviction. So many people are outraged about the slaughter of dolphins, whales, or dogs, and yet no one bats an eye at the relentless mistreatment of chickens, pigs, cows, and many other exploited animals. 

I had to make a change. Around 2010, I became vegetarian. I lasted for about three years. I didn't know how to cook and I didn't have a lot of support. In 2012, I was offered a job that provided free lunch, and I slowly slipped back into eating meat again. 

I always wanted to make the change back to vegetarianism, but it was so hard to get it to stick. I would go back and forth for several years.

Then, I read an article about the dangers of dairy to the body. I'd often wondered if I was lactose intolerant and so I decided to cut out as much dairy as I could...until one day I went to eat a huge pot of fondue with my family.

After cutting out so much dairy, this sudden influx of cheese caused me to get so sick. I was hurting for several days. I decided in that moment that enough was enough. I had made so many excuses for so long. 

On June 16, 2016, after years of excuses and wavering back and forth, I committed myself to doing the work. I learned recipes very slowly. I learned about the horrors of the meat, dairy, and egg industries. It's been a lot of learning. 

Now, a year later, you can see the difference! 
I lost some weight and I gained a lot of cooking knowledge! Here on this blog, I hope to share with you what I've learned so far. The rest, we can learn together!

Thanks for reading through my post. You can follow me here at exuberantvegan.blogspot.com 

or also, you can find me on Instagram at exuberant_vegan! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tofu Scramble Breakfast!

Tofu Scramble is my favorite replacement meal for scrambled eggs.

It makes for a great breakfast that is filling and oh-so-flavorful!

Here is what you will need:


1 package tofu (firm)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons cumin
3 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon olive oil

Prep time: 5 minutes (or longer if pressing tofu)
Cook time: 15 minutes

1. Before you use the tofu, please make sure that you have pressed the tofu for at least a half hour. If you do not press the tofu, it will be very watery and take a very long time to cook properly. 

If you would like a guide to pressing tofu, I've included a link here: http://exuberantvegan.blogspot.com/2017/06/all-about-tofu.html

2. After you have pressed the tofu, squish it with your hands or a fork in a large enough bowl. Then add all your spices!

(Feel free to add as many spices as you would like. My husband loves a little extra apple cider vinegar.)
3. Use a medium-sized pan and heat it to medium heat. Add your olive oil to the pan, then add your tofu scramble.

4. Stir regularly and monitor for about 10-15 minutes. It should get slightly browned in places, just like you might see in scrambled eggs. You're pretty much done!

5. Feel free to add in anything else you would like in your scramble. My husband loves to cook some potatoes on the side and add them into the mix. (I might include his recipe for potatoes in another blog.)

6. Finally, add in some cilantro, lime, or salsa to make your tacos complete! We serve them on fresh corn tortillas. Just make sure that your tortillas are vegan and you are good to go!

This is easily one of my favorite breakfasts to make. It is super easy with a little preparation and can be customized to any flavors you might like. Let me know how it works for you!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Perfectly Creamy Oatmeal with Chocolate!

I have a confession to make.


Now that I'm vegan, I just make sure it's free of milk, but otherwise, chocolate is vegan! This oatmeal calls for a hint of chocolate.

This recipe is very simple and can be modified however you like.

Here's what you need:
2 cups water
1 banana
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup berries (or fruit of choice)
A small handful of vegan chocolate
(Optional) tablespoon of chia seeds
(Optional) small handful of coconut chips

Serves 2 or 3
Prep time: A couple minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

1. Bring two cups of water to a boil
2. Add one cup of rolled oats and reduce heat to medium- low
3. Set timer for 10 minutes
3. Add the whole banana while oats are cooking. This is the secret to creamy, perfect oatmeal!
4. Stir in the banana until the oatmeal is looking creamy and well-blended.
5. Add in your berries or fruit of choice and mix together.
6. Finally, add in your chocolate. I only added a small amount, but I think it provides great flavor!
7. Stir it all together! Feel free to add nuts, seeds, or any other fruit you love. I added coconut chips and chia seeds. 
There you have it! Easy, creamy, delicious, fruity, and chocolatey oatmeal! Perfect for a healthy, delicious breakfast!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Vegan Ceviche!

It's summertime and for those of us in the Rio Grande Valley, we need something cold, refreshing, and a little spicy!

For me, that's my summer vegan ceviche! I combined a few of my favorite ingredients to make a fish-free ceviche! The first step is to gather your ingredients.

You will need:

1/2 cucumber
1/2 package of tofu
1/2 avocado
5 cherry tomatoes
1/2 mango
Juice of 2 limes
Tablespoon of favorite salsa
Handful of cilantro (coriander)

The first step is to prepare your tofu. I made a blog post about this you can find here:  http://exuberantvegan.blogspot.com/2017/06/all-about-tofu.html

The next step is to slice up your mango. Mine wasn't quite fully ripe, but still pretty good.

Next, you'll want to cut up your avocado and add some lime juice to make it easier to mix.

Next, I added some cilantro and mixed it all together. I also added in my tomatoes.

Now for the final step: CHIPS and SALSA! I'm a bit of a chip fanatic, so I made sure to get a big handful. I put in one half of the lime and added my salsa. My personal favorite is a habanero salsa from Yellowbird. It's fully vegan and made in Austin, Texas! I can either order it or pick it up at Sprouts Grocery in McAllen. You can use a pre-made salsa or create your own. However, I find that habanero spice mixes really well with the mango.

The finished product! I love ceviche. This tastes just like ceviche you might find at a local restaurant, minus any fish products. Hope you like it!

Earlier today, I made a tofu prep blog found here:

All about tofu

Tofu is a must-have for me in my vegan life.

But what is it? How do you use it? Why is it soggy?

This blog post is all about tofu.

What is tofu?

Tofu is condensed soy milk. One serving of tofu contains 8 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of fat, and is only 70 calories. It also contains helpful amounts of magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Types of Tofu?

Silken tofu- This is smooth, custard-like tofu. You can use it in smoothies or as a replacement for eggs in baking.

Regular tofu- Soft to Super Firm

The softer the tofu is, the easier it will be to blend into smoothie recipes. If you need a custard or smoothie, soft tofu is your best bet. I've also used soft tofu for a bleu-cheese-like substitute.

Super firm tofu holds its shape really well. If you are new at tofu, I would recommend using extra firm or super firm tofu. There will be less water to press out. However, if you are grilling it or cooking it over the stove, it can dry out very easily.

Why is it soggy? 

Tofu is packaged in water. If you do not use all of your tofu, you will want to store it in a container with fresh water inside. It helps keep the tofu fresh and tasty.

However, you NEED to drain it before cooking it.

Tofu Preparation?

In order to use tofu, you need to properly drain it. This is my method for preparing tofu:

1. Cut into the package with a knife. I'm using hard tofu. Drain the water from the package.
2. Use the knife to slice into strips.

3. Grab a small towel and place it on a large plate.
4. Place the tofu strips into the center of the plate.
5. Cover the tofu with the towel, making sure to cover each strip.
6. Place a second plate on top of this towel, making a tofu-towel sandwich.
7. Place a heavy plate, a book, or (in my case) a heavy cast-iron comal on top of this sandwich.
8. Leave the tofu to press for at least 30 minutes.
9. Give it a quick rinse and slice it up however you'd like!

Any leftover tofu can be put back into the fridge (if covered in fresh water) or frozen.

I hope this post has been helpful to anyone interested in trying out a tofu recipe!

Easy curry with veggies!

As a new vegan, one of my biggest challenges was coming up with easy, tasty, and changeable recipes.

Curry is that recipe.

Curry is super versatile, and you can customize it to whatever flavors you like. Curry just means a spicy dish (usually with turmeric and other Indian spices) with vegetables, over rice. That's it! I love this particular curry because it is sweet and spicy and super filling. Lentils and chickpeas contain a great amount of protein.

In the Rio Grande Valley, sometimes it can be difficult to find certain spices. However, I made this curry with spices I can find in every supermarket.

You will need:

1 cup of jasmine rice- (cooked separately)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 Tablespoon garam masala (you can substitute cinnamon)
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon curry powder
2 cups lentils (uncooked)
1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup frozen veggies of choice (I used carrots and peas)
1/2 cup coconut cream or coconut milk

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35- 40 minutes
Serves: 4

For the rice- I use a rice cooker! This is the model I use: The Aroma 8-cup rice cooker. For white rice, put in one cup of rice and add two cups of water. Press the button, and in about 35 minutes, your rice will be perfectly fluffy and ready to eat. You can find this model at Target for about $25. It's a piece of kitchen equipment I use at least once a week and is totally a worthwhile investment.
If you do not have a rice cooker on hand, that's alright. You can use your stovetop. Put in 1 cup jasmine rice, 1-1/2 cups water. Combine water and rice, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes and fluff with a fork. 

Now for the curry.
1. Grab a medium-sized pan, put in your tablespoon of coconut oil. Cook on medium heat.
2. Add all spices (turmeric, curry, garam masala) to the pan. This should make an aromatic paste.
3. Toss in your lentils so they are coated in the paste and roast them for about a minute.
4. After the lentils are nicely roasted, add in your chickpeas. Roast them in the paste as well for a minute or less. 
5. Add in the frozen vegetables. Today, I added peas and carrots. You can use fresh veggies of any kind at this point. I've also enjoyed using broccoli, cauliflower, or any variety of available greens. Spinach and kale are awesome additions too.
6. Add your 1/2 cup of coconut cream or coconut milk. Coconut cream is a lot sweeter than coconut milk, so you can decide whether you want the dish to be super sweet or not. My husband loves sweet foods, so I chose coconut cream this time. 
7. Reduce heat to medium low to simmer the curry. Cover the pan and leave simmering for about 30-35 minutes. This will cook the lentils and allow all the spices and coconut milk/ cream to soak into the veggies. 
8. After you've allowed some simmer time, remove from heat. Scoop some rice and add some curry on top.
I love curry. It's super easy, super customizable, and very filling. Feel free to let me know how this recipe worked for you! 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

About Me

About Me

Welcome to the Exuberant Vegan blog!

My name is Kathryn Johnson- Elizondo. I live in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I'm an English teacher, an artist, and most recently, a vegan food and lifestyle blogger!

On June 16, 2016, I changed my diet to 100% vegan. 

What does that mean? I do not eat any animal products whatsoever. No meat (including fish), no cheese, and no eggs. 

This has been a big transformational time in my life, as I now eat very differently than I did as a meat-eater. 

One of the biggest challenges this diet has brought is living vegan in the Rio Grande Valley. Unlike other bigger cities, there are not a lot of restaurants, or even accessible grocery stores that allow for full food freedom. 

However, eating vegan is not impossible! This blog is to help the awesome people of the Rio Grande Valley (and beyond) to find easy, affordable, and sustainable ways to live and eat vegan.

Eating vegan can be for everyone!