George and Julia's Vegan Underground

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Five Tool Stew

Matt Kemp
Photo credit:

It’s baseball season and in honor of the bat swinging superstars I decided to pay homage to America’s pastime with this Vegetable Stew. This stew is crowd favorite and can be very versatile just like Mike Trout, Buster Posey, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton. It features 5 vegetables you can get all year round: Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers (mild or hot), and Beans.

3 out of 5 prepped and ready to go

Like every great superstar there needs to be solid role players and in this stew we have several great secondary ingredients: Fresh lime juice, fresh pineapple juice, garlic, fresh cilantro, tomato paste, and mexican spices. But before we field the ingredients we need to build our foundation first.

What the heck is it cooking in?

There is NO OIL involved in this. But I’m not going to say it’s entirely oil free. Grab a medium sauce pan and turn the heat to high and pour about a quarter cup of water in it. When it’s boiling (more like sizzling), drop in 1/3 of a vegetable bouillon cube (this is where a little oil sneaks in). Once the bouillon sliver dissolves turn the heat down to medium and add onions and salt. Be aware that during this process the water evaporates so in order to keep your pan from browning you might have to add tablespoons of water (I added 3).

When the onions become translucent add garlic and stir for about a minute before adding the zucchini and peppers. I allowed the zucchini and peppers to cook for about 2 minutes before adding a spoonful of tomato paste. Once tomato paste is fully mixed in, add the cherry tomatoes and zucchini insides (zucchini insides to be explained at the end).

Missing just one major ingredient: Beans

Once fully stirred, add the beans. Whatever beans are your fancy, have at it. I admittedly did not use dried beans. Instead I used 1- 14.5oz can of black beans, and 1- 14.5oz can of garbanzo (Chickpea) beans. Drained and rinsed of course.

5 big players in, now let’s round the bases for the winning run

At this point your vegetable stew isn’t quite looking like a stew at all, so we’ll need to add some liquid and spices to bind it all together. Add 1/2 of a lime juiced (if it’s not a juicy lime add a quick squeeze from the other half), and 2 tablespoon of pineapple juice. Then stir in the following mexican spices: 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, dash of cayenne pepper, and a pinch of dried oregano.

Now that’s looking like a stew!

Once all the ingredients above are stirred in, salt and pepper to taste. To finish this veggie delight off, add 2-3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro to the stew and mix in before serving.

As I mentioned above this is very versatile and can be eaten with a spoon or served a little differently. It’s a great source of protein so I used this stew as my “meat” for my vegan and gluten-free tacos!

Topped with diced pineapple and julienned jicama for “cheese.” Avocado on bottom

Towering gluten-free vegan taco

jicama cheese adds depth and flavor


Major ingredients:

  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large zucchini, boated and diced. Chop and set aside insides*
  • 3-4 small mild (or hot) peppers (or 1 large bell pepper), diced
  • 2  14.5oz can of beans of your choice, drained and rinsed

Secondary ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbs pineapple juice
  • 3 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Heaping spoonful tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

  • Corn tortillas (I prefer Maria and Ricardo’s brand)
  • jicama, julienned
  • avocado, sliced
  • pineapple, diced


  1. In medium sauce pan on high heat add 1/4 cup of water and add vegetable bouillon cube. When cube is dissolved, turn down heat to medium and add onions and salt. When onions are translucent add garlic and cook for an additional minute, then add zucchini and peppers.
  2. Cook zucchini and peppers for 2-3 minutes then stir in tomato paste. Once fully stirred in, add cherry tomatoes and zucchini insides. Cook for an additional minute and stir in beans.
  3. Stir in lime juice, pineapple juice, oregano and spices. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes until liquid is noticeable. Mix cilantro into the stew and then salt and pepper to taste before serving.

* Zucchini boated and diced

I don’t like how mushy zucchinis get so I’ve been scraping out the insides, setting them to the side and then dicing/cubing the harder outside of the zucchini. Once the insides are scraped out, I cut the zucchini into 5 strips and dice into even small cubes. It keeps the consistency of each piece, and also helps create more texture in the dish.

Process of boating

I made this for my family party and it was a huge hit! The vegetarians loved it and so did the carnivores. It’s nearly fat-free, completely gluten-free, good source of protein, entirely vegan and of course super healthy!


Ethiopian Fever

With Michael, Darla and the Charming Hipsters

When Marcus Samuelsson won Top Chef Masters a few years ago, New York’s eyes focused on Red Rooster, his upscale Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem.  These days, Ethiopian food is everywhere.  Julia wrote about Ethiopian food once in June and then again in July. The Vegetarian and Vegan Meetup Group announces there next outing is the Ethiopian classic, Awash. Over the weekend, I tagged along with some Brooklyn hipsters and artists and guess where what we ate?…Ethiopian!  That makes it official, Ethiopian is officially trending.

Just down the street from B.A.M., we dined at a quaint place called Bati. If you didn’t know this already, Ethiopian is by nature, vegan-friendly so I wasn’t too surprised to see the word “Vegan” on the menu.  Sometimes “Vegetarian” means vegan and sometimes not.  When Chrissy Hydne opened up a “vegetarian” restaurant in Akron Ohio, she was asked why she didn’t just call it vegan (because technically it was).  Hydne said most the people of Akron don’t know what that is. That was in 2007, perhaps times have changed for Akron.

Bati had a very nice vibe. The staff was attentive and friendly.  It was a small place but with the lights dimmed, I was so relaxed and never felt crowded.  I even felt…interesting.  My new comrades (there were about 10 of us) couldn’t have been more charming.


Bati has beef, poultry and lamb but you know I wasn’t having any of that. Our table went family-style (sharing).  My good friends from the group, Darla and Michael got stuck on the vegan side (my side) of the table.  Always sports although, Michael made it clear he did not get enough food. Here’s the vegan options:

Missir Wett – Split lentils in a stew

Ater Kik Alicha – Split peas in a mild sauce

Shiro – Ground chick peas in a thick sauce

Fasolia – Sautee of string beans and carrots

Gomen – Finely chopped collard greens seasoned with garlic & ginger

Tikil Gomen – Green cabbage seasoned with garlic & ginger

Buticha – Ground chick peas in a blend of onion and pepper

I got a combo and got to pick four.  It all sounded so good so I had the waiter pick out what he considered the house best.  I know that can be an annoying way to order but it just felt right.  Picked for me was Missir Wett, Gomen, Shiro, Ater Kik Alicha.  Missir Wett was by far, my favorite. It was spicy and almost had a sloppy joe texture.  I loved it so much, next time I might just get that. The rest was excellent too.  The ingredients were fresh and firm.  The flavors were exactly where they were supposed to be.

In classic New York fashion, at least two people proclaimed it was damn good but they knew of a place that was even better.  Bring it hipsters!  I know Julia (sadly missing from this outing) would like to try them all.  I’ll be back. To me, the place was absolutely lovely.

Bati is at 747 Fulton Street, (Between Elliott Pl & Portland Ave) Brooklyn, NY

Ethiopian in Connecticut

One of my all time favorite cuisines is Ethiopian food. I just can’t get enough of the vibrant spices and the complex taste! I’m always very excited when I come across an Ethiopian restaurant and this time around I visited the only Ethiopian eatery I know of in the Hartford area: Abyssinian Restaurant. I’ve been coming to this place for years but never visited as a vegan. It does have 4 cows on Happy Cow, but how did it really hold up?

I’ve always meant to try the Mexican restaurant to the left of this place, but the Ethiopian aroma gets me every time.

Amazing. Absolutely stunning and unbelievable. One of my best friends (now a recently turned vegan) and I mentioned to the host that we were vegan, and when we placed our order he reaffirmed “No butter, but oil?” We nearly started dancing on the table tops because this showed attention to detail and a lot of times you put your trust in cooks to make it vegan. This time, he MADE sure it was vegan. We ordered the vegetable combo (#24 on the menu) and it was super filling although looked a little sparse.

Consisted of beets (yuck), split peas, lentils, cabbage, bean curd (?), potatoes, and collard greens, and spicy lentil (aka Yemiser wet) in the middle. We got extra spicy potatoes too.

We also indulged ourselves with Sambusas to start. A Sambusa is very similar to a Samosa all you Indian cuisine lovers out there who are new to Ethiopian and African food. To say the least we were very full and very satisfied. For being one of the very few (possibly only) Ethiopian restaurant in Hartford, we’ll keep coming back.

nom noms

Abyssinian Restaurant

535 Farmington Ave.

Hartford, CT 06105


Vegans That Rock!

She went back to Ohio and her city was gone.  She came back in 2007 and opened a vegetarian restaurant in that town of hers known as Akron Ohio.  In the middle of the road yay.  Talk about a rock life.  While attending college at Kent State, she was in a band with c, pre-Devo.  She was there at the infamous Kent State shooting and even knew one of the victims. She had a baby with Ray Davies of the Kinks.  In 1977 she lived in London and was best friends with Sid Vicious.  She even gave him that trademark lock that he wore around his neck.  She was in a band with Mick Jones of the Clash and was even a member of the Damned for a short time.  You probably know Chrissy Hynde best as singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the Pretenders.

Chrissy has been a vegetarian since 1969.  A vegan now, she remembers as a 12-year-old, feeling so bad for some turtles in a pet store.  She knew then that she could never eat her animal friends.  Chrissy famously protested KFC and the Gap for their use of leather.  A proud supporter of PETA, Chrissy is not afraid to get arrested from time to time.  A rock n’ roll legend and a vegan.  Chrissy Hynde, you are a force to be reckoned with and truly a Vegan That Rocks!

Family of Five Challenge

We put out the challenge out there and we received our first Vegan Challenge Article! Please take a read and see how an entire family switches to a new vegan lifestyle with very challenging twists:

Welcome to the world of guilt-free living! 

Our Vegan Challenge:

Family of Five

By: Anonymous

We’re on day 6 of living with our Breville juicer and our Vitamix.  Already they’ve proven to be as loved as a family pet would be – although I can’t say for sure, because we have no family pets.  No, we have our hands full with three children and some health issues, so as much as a having a puppy would enhance our lives, we have to focus on other areas of health first.

Look, I’m fun too!

We’ve recently adopted a new lifestyle of eating, which is not only vegan but gluten-free and low glycemic as well.  This is due to our eldest daughter living with Crohn’s Disease, and the recent complications she’s dealing with due to a reaction to her medication. Our two other children are at greater risk of developing this or other inflammatory conditions due to the fact that they have a close family member with Crohn’s.  Doctors tell us genetics play the greatest role in these chronic autoimmune diseases, but we believe that the doctors are to quick to discount diet, and what we put into our bodies as not playing a role.  Did these diseases exist 100 years ago without names, or are they a byproduct of the hacked-up global food system we’ve conveniently moved to for sustenance?

Photo Credit:

I confess I do not cook.  My husband is quite adept in the kitchen and has always enjoyed creating eclectic and delicious meals for entertaining friends and our family.  That is not to say that my children did not enjoy many years of meals consisting of dinosaur shaped breaded chicken pieces and macaroni and powdered cheese from a box.  If the box said Kraft on it, it usually meant my kids would inhale it, and crave more of it.  This Kraft rule went for anything, not just pasta.  Which brings me to school lunches, a.k.a. my territory.  Oh, the dreaded school lunch, which mostly consists of something either meat, or sweet or dairy between two hearty slices of wheat, a fruit, a vegetable, a granola bar and/or chips!  They weren’t awfully unhealthy lunches, and I made sure to balance sweet with salty, but the fruit was often eaten from a clear plastic cup laden with syrup, the granola bar packed in a wrapper, not made with love from gluten-free oats, agave and flax, and to be honest, the vegetables often went uneaten.

Kale instead of Kraft now.


When our three children went to sleep-away camp a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had a junk food exorcism at home.  We removed all the bad from our refrigerator and cupboards, so when they came home, the only choices were healthy.  We’re trying to detox from all the chemicals in our bodies now, which may take some time, but we’re not adding more as we go.  Our children need good food and nutrition to grow, but if it’s not palatable, it won’t be eaten.  We’re in the honeymoon phase with our new lifestyle now, and much like the euphoria one feels with new puppy love, I hope the thrill of turning kale and baby spinach into appetizing beverages doesn’t wane too soon.  At least the new additions to our family don’t need to be taken out for a walk even when it’s raining.

Be free from food with animal products and gluten for a healthier lifestyle
Photo Credit:

Keep it going, Anonymous! Please let us know how your family’s vegan, gluten-free and low glycemic lifestyle changes go in the future and if it helps with the symptoms of Crohn’s. We support you here at Vegan Underground!

Juiced Up Thursday

There are days when waking up is just nearly impossible. Well on this Thursday that was absolutely the case for me. My dorm living lifestyle has come to a close for the summer, which means back to living like an actual adult. However, this morning I opted out of making a homemade juice and decided to head to Robeks instead. Will I regret this decision? Find out.

I’m not sure if Robeks is organic. They preach nutrition and healthy living, but I’ve been to a number of them and have never seen them preach “& Organic!” But the nice thing about them is they do make drinks and smoothies to order. However, if you get a drink with orange juice, they don’t freshly juice an orange in front of you. They pour the orange juice out of a container. So I’ve learned to stay away from anything with orange juice in it. So on this humid morning I was feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to order the Green-V with a touch of lemon.

  • Green-V: Carrot, Celery, Spinach, and lemon

After I ordered I saw that I had more than just a choice of getting the generic celery and carrot drink, but it was too late. I handed my credit card over and was charge the $7.43 for my drink. But I am happy to see that Robeks is expanding the vegetables offered at their establishments. Getting carrot based drinks gets a little redundant. Just saying.

Oh now you tell me.

I know the carrot based statement above makes me seem like a hypocrite because I throw carrots in my juices very often. But the difference is the entire BASE of my juices aren’t only carrots. I use lots of kale or cucumbers as well, if available. I’ve gotten a number of juices at Robeks and every single one of them taste like carrot with a hint of whatever other vegetable was supposed to be in it. Well this case was no different. I’m not sure if there’s any spinach in it to be honest, just because of the very orange color it came out as. But regardless I could’ve made my own juice, but I didn’t so I have to settle for my poor decision this morning. Robeks, stop overusing the carrots in your juices.

If you love carrots, come on over to Robeks!

Positives of Robeks:

One positive is I don’t have to clean my juicer. But another serious positive is that there’s a couple of pleasant vegan goodies at your nearest Robeks. If you want a juice and a cookie it’s a nice place to hit up.

3 of their 5 cookie options for vegans

The Healthy Voyager

A vegan shouldn’t dread travel but finding food in unfamiliar places can be stressful.  Whether you’re on a business trip to Houston or a vacation in Thailand, the Healthy Voyager has got you covered.  At the Seed: A Vegan Experience, I was fortunate to catch the healthy voyager, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton and her priceless knowledge on vegan travel.

Carolyn has been vegan for 14 years   In college, she gained 50 pounds her freshman year.  Thanks to her vegan diet and her own craftiness, she’s presently slim and trim.  She started health voyage through trial and error and has come up with some incredible tips.

Select Wisely Card

Here are some of my favorites:

  • A bpa-free plastic water container bag
  • Packets of “Go Greens” turns water into vitamin and vegetable goodness
  • Vegan Passport – phrase book to order vegan in any language
  • Select Wisely card is similar to the vegan passport but has pictures so you can hand it to your server.
  • Using your hotel coffee maker as a hot plate
  • Using your hotel coffee maker as a grill
  • Pack a thin and floppy plastic cutting board
  • Bring your own tea
  • For road trips pack a cooler
  • Call ahead to see if they can accommodate your diet

Some of this may seem like common sense but you may recall our Napa Challenge.  We could have used a list.  Check out her website. You may become overwhelmed.  It seems Carolyn has thought of everything.  Enjoy your own vegan travel consultant.  Thanks Carolyn.


Another Pinkberry victim?…As many of you know, the only time I cheated on my vegan diet, I paid dearly with a trip to the emergency room. While I cannot prove it was that the 8 ounce Pinkberry frozen yogurt was the cause but the facts remain. George eats Pinkberry. George stomach hurts. George goes to the emergency room. Coincidence?

When a Pinkberry opened in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, only a block from my apartment, I remembered that day, clutching my stomach in pain. Why did I eat Pinkberry?! Why!?

During my trip to the bodega to get some cilantro, I noticed an ambulance in front of this new Pinkberry location. Unlike me, it looked like this guy never made it home. It was a strong reminder for me to stay away.

Sure, I did not actually see anyone getting their stomach pumped or being wheeled out on a stretcher. Yes, it is possible that the ambulance guys were just stopping in for a froyo. We may never know the real truth. Pinkberry, I’m watching you.

It’s Only Natural

Restaurant review of the reigning Hartford Advocate Best of Vegetarian Restaurant, It’s Only Natural, coming soon…

Vegans That Rock!

Hello kids. Are you ready for this Friday’s Vegans That Rock!  Who likes haircuts? Our vegan this week took the Misfit’s devillock and pushed it to the side, later went Morrisey/Elvis and recently settled into something mature and contemporary.

Put don’t let his ever-changing crazy melon top fool ya. Like former VT Rocker, Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, he’s straight edge.  Some consider his band “goth” and we all know those scary Larrys like to party. Well not Davey Havok, singer of AFI who always reminds reporters that he is “vegan straight edge.” Suck on that Rolling Stone.  

Known for impressive tattoo coverage, we trust Davey’s ink contains only vegetable glycerin.”  With 20 years and 8 albums under their belt, AFI is dedicated all right.  Part Bauhaus, part Damned but always dark (so goth).

Davey shares George and Julia’s love for Vegan Treats bakery. Gwyneth Paltrow gave him a VT cupcake backstage at the MTV vegan awards that literally brought him to his knees. When touring, his favorite vegan town is New York City.  He’s a big fan of Red Bamboo, Zen Palate and all the restaurants that carry goodies from the aforementioned Vegan Treats Bakery. 

What turned Havok vegan? In high school he played a hunter in the school’s production of “Big Bear Adventure” which “opened his eyes to the cruelty of animal consumption.”  Davey you are all right. Keep owning those kooky quaffs and keep rocking clean-vegan-style.  Some might tell you that’s not how to rock’ n roll but we know better. You are a Vegan That Rocks!

Post Navigation