November 2013 Triangle Vegan Pledge Recap


The third Chapel Hill Vegan Pledge began on November 2nd with another great group of Pledges! At our first meeting, we discussed the far reaching implications of adopting a vegan lifestyle, including animal ethics, social justice, environmental concerns, and health and nutrition before enjoying another amazing cooking demo provided by longtime volunteer Linda Rapp Nelson.  In addition to tiramisu cupcakes, carrot cake, and beer bread provided by our mentors, Linda made a delicious vegan chili, a maple-mustard dressing, and a pumpkin cheesecake spread.

At our following meeting Linda and Professor Alan Nelson led an in-depth discussion of vegan ethics and Justin Van Kleeck, founder of Vegan Night Out, presented on the heavy environmental impact of animal agriculture.  For our cooking demo, Monika Caruso prepared delicious gluten-free feast, included her much sought after mac and vegan cheese.

Registered Nurse Stephanie Hodges joined us for our third meeting to present on health and nutrition and she showed us how to prepare a tasty meal with no salt, no sugar, and no oil.  Then Lenore Braford of the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge joined us to discuss common “humane” myths and explain what terms like “cage-free” and “free-range” really mean.

Finally at meeting 4 we were treated to a shopping tour of Whole Foods and some delicious vegan chili with cashew sour cream followed by a potluck to celebrate another successful Pledge.  And we’re very excited to announce that sign ups are now live for our fourth Pledge in the Triangle region!  If you’re interested in learning about veganism and eating some delicious vegan food, please join us in Chapel Hill this February!  Veganism is better for your health, better for the environment, and the morally right thing to do.  Start the new year by living your values and go vegan with us!

To learn more, please visit the Peace Advocacy Network and the Triangle Vegan Pledge on Facebook and join our Meetup group!


Cooking Demo: Making cashew-based vegan cheese sauce with Linda!

I’m sure most of our pledges will recognize our peerless baker and vegan chef, Linda Nelson!  In addition to baking for almost all of our pledge meetings and presenting two of our popular Pledge cooking demos, Linda was kind enough to star in our debut video demo!  In this cooking demonstration, Linda is making a cashew-based vegan cheese sauce while offering us her thoughts of veganism and animal rights.  The full recipe is below.  Try it with macaroni & cheese, baked potatoes, grits, or veggies!  A special thanks to James DeAlto for filming!

Creamy Macaroni and Cashew Cheese

1 1/4 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 to 2 teaspoons salt, to taste (I leave it out)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper  (I use ground black pepper since I keep forgetting to get some white)
3 1/2 cups nondairy milk   (I always use soy milk since it makes a thicker sauce than some of the thinner non-dairy milks)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup light miso paste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I’ve left this out when I don’t have a fresh lemon)
12 to 16 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked.

* I always add about 1/4 cup of my homemade dijon mustard though a commercial brand would work well, if you choose to add it.

Directions for the cheese sauce:

Place cashews in large-sized bowl of the food processor and finely grind. Don’t, however, allow cashews to turn to paste. Add nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in the spices.

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, and oil. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease heat to low-medium, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until thickener dissolves.

With the food processor running, gradually add milk/oil mixture to cashew/nutritional yeast mixture. Blend for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Next, blend in miso and lemon juice.

Combine cashew cheese with macaroni and serve. You also may bake it (I always do).

To make the baked version: Preheat the over to 325. Transfer the macaroni mixture to a baking dish. Cover and bake for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Uncover dish, and sprinkle 1/2 cup herbed bread crumbs or cracker crumbs on top. Continue baking, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and crisp. Serve hot.


Jenny Brown, founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, visits the Triangle!


“Animals are with us, not for us” – Jenny Brown, The Lucky Ones

This weekend Jenny Brown, co-founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, visited Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh to discuss her memoir, The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals and then stopped by the site of the future Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge! Thanks to the Triangle Vegan Club and especially to 2013 Pledge Linda James for making this happen!

patsyjudydroolingBrown’s memoir is a candid, wry look back on her evolution from casual meateater to passionate animal rights activist. She and her husband Doug founded Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in 2004, and since then it has grown into one of the most successful sanctuaries and vegan outreach efforts in the country. Woodstock has rescued hundreds of animals from neglect, abuse, and slaughter while educating the public about factory farming and animal exploitation.  After explaining the misery of factory farms to her audience, Jenny told much more hopeful stories of the animals that escaped and made their way to her Woodstock sanctuary, like Petunia, Patsy and Judy, and Dylan. Jenny’s presentation was a galvanizing reflection of each individual’s ability to refuse to participate systematic injustice simply by going vegan.

In The Lucky Ones, Jenny frequently quotes the German theologian Albert Schweitzer, who famously wrote “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”  Sanctuaries like Woodstock not only save hundreds and even thousands of animals, they show us all the peaceful, joyful existences animals can live once freed from the unnecessary suffering we consign to billions of others.  As daunting as those numbers can be, remember: We can change that!  Go vegan today!

Big news! The Triangle Vegan Pledge is year-round now!

We’re very excited to announce that we’re expanding the Pledge into a year-round program!  We’ll still be holding our traditional Pledge every year, but this new format will allow us to reach more people.  How does this new format work? Instead of meeting as a group every week, each new Pledge will meet with his or her mentor individually four times over the course of a month, in person or via skype.  We’ll work with new Pledges to develop meal plans and we’ll provide participants with new resources every day to make this transition simple and meaningful. We’ll talk about health and nutrition, environmentalism, ethics, cooking, and the day to day life of a vegan, just like our yearly Pledge! Sign up now!

Monika’s coconut rum banana cake!

Here’s Monika’s recipe for the coconut rum banana tea cake from our brunch and canning demo:


Coconut Rum Banana Tea Cake
(click on the title ^^ to view the recipe on her site)
wheat free (but not gluten free)

§ § §

The trick to this loaf cake, I believe, is to purée – not mash – the banana. No rustic lumps and bumps for this batter; a smooth slurry makes all the difference. A dark, large grain sugar is preferable for sprinkling on top but not necessary. The demerara this recipe calls for will fill all the nooks and crannies of your batter, giving the top of this bread a nice bit of caramel-y, sugary crunch. A fine grain natural sugar tends to melt along the edges and crisp up down the center of the bread and tastes just as good. I suspect sucanat would be too dry. Lastly, frozen bananas are fantastic in this recipe.

§ § §

3 large, overripe bananas
2 cups spelt flour (I use 1 cup each of whole and white spelt)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of fine grain salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/8 teaspoon apple cider or distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon rum (dark or light, your preference)
1/2 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon demerara or turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C with a rack in the center. Line a standard-size loaf pan with parchment paper or lightly oil.

In a blender or food processor, purée the bananas and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), beat together the oil, yogurt and sugar until fluffy. Add the vinegar and rum, and beat to mix well. Add the banana purée and the flour mixture alternately, about 1 cup at a time, beginning with the banana and beating to just incorporate. Use a spatula to fold in any flour that has not been absorbed, and stir in the coconut. Do not overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, and sprinkle evenly with the demerara sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes; then turn the loaf out of the pan and allow it to cool completely.

I suspect this loaf will keep, wrapped well, for a few days; however it never lasts more than 36 hours in our house. I find it best the second day, cut thick, lightly toasted and dotted with homemade vegan banana butter.

Yield: 1 loaf

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 60 minutes

from WindyCityVegan – reprinted with permission from Monika Soria Caruso

Sage-Infused Pear Butter from the canning demo!

Sage-infused pear butter

5 pounds pears
juice of one lemon
1 1/2 to 2 cups turbinado sugar (granulated sugar will work, but changes the flavor)
1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
2 large sprigs fresh sage
canning jars, rings and lids

Yields: approximately 1 & 1/2 pints

1. Peel core, and coarsely chop pears.
2. Place in wide pot with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until pears are just soft.
3. Sauce the pears with an immersion blender right in the pot. Alternatively, sauce them in a standing blender, then transfer back to the pot.
4. Put the heat on low and add sugar. Stir until sugar melts.
5. Add the ground white pepper and whole sage sprigs. Turn heat up and bring to a boil. Be sure to cover with a lid or splatter shield.
6. Boil, stirring frequently when it begins to thicken. It will take about 35-45 minutes to reach a spreadable thickness. You will know it’s done when you can glide your stirring spoon across the bottom of the pot and see the bottom for a second or two before the butter melts back over itself.
**Just when you begin to cook the sauce down you can prepare you canning pot and sterilize your jars.
7. Once desired thickness is reached remove the sage sprigs.
8. Fill jars and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. Store in a cool, dry place for up to one year.

Any jars that did not seal need to be stored in the refrigerator and used within a week.
Refrigerate after opening.

And here’s New York Style Crumb Cake!

Here is the recipe for the New York Style Crumb Cake from yesterday’s brunch. It is from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts by Chloe Coscarelli. This is definitely my new favorite baking book!

Crumb topping:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon white or apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the crumb topping:
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the melted vegan butter and toss with 2 forks, as if you were tossing salad, until it appears crumbly. The crumbs should be the size of small peas.

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together nondairy milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.

Fill the prepared pan with batter and evenly sprinkle with the crumb topping. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry with a few crumbs clinging to it. Let cool, and EAT!

*for a gluten-free cake , substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All-Purpose flour is a great product. For a gluten-free crumb topping, substitute with gluten-free flour.

Here is the Swiss Chard Frittata from this weekend’s brunch!

This is so easy to make and delicious hot or cold. It is great for brunch, dinner, or anytime.

Swiss Chard Frittata
by IsaChandra
Serves 4
Time: 45 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes

The deep earthy taste of swiss chard is intensified with garlic that is thinly sliced instead of minced, for a sweet mellow taste. Use red swiss chard if you can find it because it leaves pretty fuschia flecks in the frittata. This recipe is from Vegan Brunch.

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch of red chard, rough stems removed, chopped well (about 4 cups)
2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 pound firm or extra firm tofu
1 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
1 teaspoon wet mustard (dijon or yellow, whatever you got)
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
several dashes fresh black pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan over low-medium heat. Add the oil and the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. What you’re doing here is “blonding” the garlic, it’s ready when it’s turned a light amber color.

Add the chard, oregano and and turn the heat up to medium high. Saute for about 5 minutes, until chard is completely wilted/ Add splashes of water if needed to get the chard to cook down. Turn the heat off.

While the chard is cooking, prepare your frittata base. Give the tofu a squeeze over the sink to remove a little of the water. Use your hands to crumble and squeeze it in a large mixing bowl, until it has the consistency of ricotta cheese (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients to the tofu and mix well. When your chard is ready, incorporate it into the tofu. Be sure to get all of the garlic, but if there is any moisture in the pan try to avoid adding it to the tofu. Taste for salt.

Lightly grease an 8 inch pie plate and firmly press in your frittata mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, until firm lightly browned on top. Let cool for about 3 minutes, then invert onto a plate and serve.

Shiitake Dill Frittata recipe from our small batch canning demo/brunch

with thanks to the brilliant Isa Chandra Moskowitz!

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (2 cups)
1 pound extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I use dijon)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
several dashes black pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400.
Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your frittata base. Give the tofu a squeeze over the sink to remove a little of the water. I use my tofu press since we like our frittata drier. Use your hands to crumble and squeeze it in a large mixing bowl, until it has the consistency of ricotta cheese (about 3 minutes). Make sure to mash it really well, leaving no large chunks. Add the soy sauce, mustard, turmeric, black pepper, yeast, and dill to the tofu and mix well. When the mushrooms are ready, incorporate the mushroom mixture into the tofu. Taste for salt.
Lightly grease an 8-inch pie plate and firmly press your frittata mixture into it. Bake for 20 minutes or longer depending on desire firmness. Let cool for about 3 minutes, then invert onto a plate, if you like and serve.

Welcome to the Triangle Vegan Pledge!

What’s a Vegan Pledge? I’m glad you asked! The Vegan Pledge started in the UK. Board members of Peace Advocacy Network brought the Pledge to Philly and with great success. Non-vegan people pledge to go vegan for 30 days with the Pledge program’s support. This support includes weekly meetings consisting of cooking classes, environmental and health speakers, a personal mentor (experienced vegans), social events for support, and an incredible care package to make 30 days of being vegan that much easier.   -Peace Advocacy Network

The Triangle Vegan Pledge was created with the guidance and support of the Peace Advocacy Network as a way to help people explore veganism and animal rights and to empower them to make meaningful choices in their daily lives.  Like the vegans working through PAN, we are firmly committed to promoting a peaceful existence through veganism, social justice, and respect for the Earth’s inhabitants and resources.

The Vegan Pledge offers support to anyone who is interested in becoming vegan by providing pledges with a care package (free food!), cooking demonstrations (more free food!) and weekly meetings and seminars on the topics of ethics, nutritio…n, environmentalism, shopping, traveling and more. Each pledge embraces a vegan lifestyle for 30 days between January and February of the coming year and will also be provided with a vegan mentor who can offer guidance and suggestions for making the transition to a vegan lifestyle.

This website is meant to serve as a resource for Vegan Pledge participants as well as their family and friends.  We encourage pledges to browse through and share this information, and to send us suggestions about information that should be added!

Veganism is better for your health, better for the environment and most importantly, it is an ethical position that embraces and extends the practice of nonviolence.
Please contact for more info or visit to sign up!