veg·an /ˈvēgən/ (noun) A person who does not eat or use animal products.
For those who might not know, veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits, but excludes all animal-derived ingredients, and even some foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines. Many vegans take the ethical stance to also avoid the use of all products tested on animals, as well as animal-derived non-food products, such as leather, fur and wool.
Some food for thought: while this may not be the lifestyle choice for everyone, it has been found that "vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. (Craig, Winston J. "Health effects of vegan diets", The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(5), May 2009, pp. 1627S–1633S (review article).
So while eating vegan has become more mainstream - it is now possible to find vegan versions of some foods in the grocery store, and vegan restaurants, while few and far between, do exist - it still requires effort to adhere to this lifestyle. One such person who puts forth the effort in a beautiful way, is this week's guest blogger.
I am thrilled to be able to introduce you to Lee Khatchadourian-Reese, of The Vegan Version, another local blogger. I had the pleasure of meeting Lee and her lovely sister through a wonderful mutual friend and our group enjoyed mimosas and brunch at Sprig + Vine, a vegan restaurant in the New Hope area. Now, Lee is not one of those vegans who starts every sentence with, "You know, I am a vegan..." In other words, she doesn't wear her veganism like a badge to try to make you feel bad about yourself if you dare to eat cheese or meat. I like that about her. I also like that she is Armenian, and has great taste in pants, music, food and friends.
Without further ado, here's Lee!
Potatoes Au Gratin - the ultimate comfort food. I used to eat them all the time; mostly the kind out of the box. I loved them, and recently I made them from scratch for the family. Yes, the kind with cheese and milk. They loved them.
They looked so good I figured I needed to figure out how to make them vegan so I could once again enjoy them, too.
Just a couple of really simple substitutions and you will have a healthier version of this classic dish. I served them to the family and they all loved them - Mr. Meat and Potatoes included. They taste just like the "real" thing to me - slightly burnt cheesy edges and all!
I am not a huge fan of "fake" cheese, but the Daiya in this recipe creates a velvety smooth cheesy sauce that is not discernible from the "real" deal!
Potatoes Au Gratin
4 Russet potatoes, skin on, sliced thin
3 Tbsp vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 cup Daiya cheddar-style shreds
1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella-style shreds
1 tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a saucepan over medium heat add the vegan butter. Once melted, stir in the flour whisking constantly for one minute.
Add the non-dairy milk, onion powder and cheeses. Continue to stir until cheese is
melted and the sauce is very smooth; season with salt and pepper.
In a lightly greased baking dish layer the potatoes. Pour the sauce over top. Place
in the oven and bake for 1-1/2 hours until bubbly and nicely browned.