Monday, December 16, 2013

Catching up with the Bearded Vegan!

Hello friends! As promised, here is an update on what Suzanne and I have been up to the past several weeks. Although there hasn't been a huge gap in time, there have been some pretty awesome changes in our lives. Let's start where I left off last, which was around Thanksgiving.

When I told my students that my wife and I were vegan, a majority of them thought I was crazy. They seemed to be under the impression that we only ate sticks and bark :P With Thanksgiving coming up, several of them asked me what we were planning on eating for our meal. When I told them that we were sticking to our guns and remaining vegan, one student jokingly told me that I was "Un-American" (a comment that I found to be both funny and somewhat sad, considering the importance that Americans place on animal consumption). Anyways, I told them that vegans can have amazing Thanksgiving feasts and promised that I would take a picture as proof. So, here is the Thanksgiving meal that Suzanne and I enjoyed with our families.

Suzanne and I made chickpea cutlets and vegan gravy to share and my mom made vegan stuffing, cornbread, and sweet potatoes. Along with that, we had buns, fruit salad, and lettuce salad. Dessert consisted of homemade vegan apple/cranberry pie. Most of my relatives tried the vegan dishes and they were pleasantly surprised by how much flavor the food packed. It was pretty awesome seeing our families enjoy our food.When I showed this picture to my students, they were pretty amazed. Overall, it was an amazing Thanksgiving and Suzanne and I consider ourselves pretty darn fortunate to have such amazing people in our lives.

Earlier, I had mentioned that Suzanne and I had a new change in our lives. Well, here she is! This is Rlio, our new dog. She's a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and we adopted her from a shelter in Aberdeen, SD. Not much was known about her when the people at the shelter picked her up. I guess her owner had lost his job, then lost his house, and although he loved the dog and wanted to keep her, he just couldn't afford to take care of her. When she was brought in, she was very underweight and unkempt. However, the people at the shelter took care of her for three weeks and got her up to date with her vaccinations and operations.

When Suzanne and I saw her picture, we fell in love with her instantly. We double checked her breed to see if she was fairly allergy friendly (Suzanne has some pretty wicked dog allergies) and sure enough, she was! We went out to visit her, tested out Suzanne's allergies, and after about 45 minutes of hanging out with her, we signed the papers and adopted her. She has brought so much happiness and humor to our lives and we are so happy to have her around. It's crazy how well she fits in our family. Suzanne and I can be pretty quirky sometimes and Rilo definitely has a unique personality :) We found out that she responds really well to The Ramones and Metallica, which is pretty hilarious. She also likes to chew....A LOT. We haven't had any issues with furniture or anything, but we have had several instances in which she will literally chew through and destroy a new toy within 5 to 10 minutes hahaha She's pretty badass and we wouldn't want her any other way!

*Despite her excessive partying, expensive wine habit, and "free" lifestyle, we love her dearly ;)

Another new addition to the house is my new fatbike! I've been looking for another way to stay fit during the winter season because I hate running in the snow. I always end up with a wicked head cold and end up feeling miserable for weeks. So, this was my alternative. Its a Surly Pugsley fatbike. Fatbikes are designed to plow through all the elements. This beast will take me through snow, sand, dirt, you name it! A friend of mine recently purchased one and had nothing but amazing things to say about it. He's also an experienced rider, so I felt comfortable in the investment. I traded in my old bike and put the money towards the new one. I also just so happened to purchase it on Black Friday (I had no intentions of doing Black Friday shopping and honestly had forgotten about it while I was there), so I got some amazing deals on top of my trade in, which was super nice. Not only will the bike keep me in shape, but it has also been great for Rilo. Her particular breed requires a decent amount of exercise, so I take her for rides and we have a hoot!

I've found riding in the winter to be quite relaxing and peaceful. I usually go for rides in the morning when there aren't too many people out and about. There's something about the "isolation" that I find calming. It's just me, the snowy landscape, my bike, and my thoughts. It's been very cathartic. Also, winter riding has given me the opportunity to work on my ice beard :P

Lastly, here are some photos of some vegan dishes that Suzanne and I have made the past couple of weeks.

This was a tofu stir fry that Suzanne made. It had broccoli, peppers, sesame seeds, and Jasmine rice. This was another amazing Asian dish that we have experienced. The flavors in this particular recipe were amazing. There was also some ginger in there if I remember correctly.

This next picture was my somewhat successful attempt at vegan corn dogs lol I tried to go the healthy route and bake them rather than fry them. While they tasted great, the batter kind of spread out once they were placed on the pan, so they looked goofy. What's awesome though, is that Suzanne recently purchased a "Twinkie" pan, so we can now make perfect vegan corn dogs! Or even vegan twinkies if we want too. Pretty stoked to try this recipe again.
This was our meal last night. Suzanne made spaghetti with vegan meatballs and roasted brussels sprouts. Again, it was a pretty wicked meal. Needless to say, we have not gone hungry during our switch to the vegan lifestyle. This whole experience has been absolutely incredible and enlightening. 

P.S. I have to give a shout out to Compassion Co. for making some of the raddest vegan clothing I have seen. This is a shirt that I recently purchased from them. Did you know that the gorilla's diet is largely plant based? Pretty insane considering how beefed up they are! If you're interested, check out Compassion Co.'s website. Lots of awesome stuff for great prices and they are super friendly.(

Stay awesome, my friends!
-Bearded Vegan

Sunday, December 15, 2013

All work and no blogging makes Xavier a dull boy.

Hello everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but between seeing family over Thanksgiving break and grading all of my students' final research papers, things have been a little busy! I plan on playing catch up this week. All of my final papers have been graded and final grades have been submitted, so I'll have some free time here to update you on all of the great vegan adventures Suzanne and I have been on :) Stay classy.
-Bearded Vegan

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vegan Picture Book Smorgasbord!

My apologies for falling behind with the updates! Between teaching, grading, being a husband, and my newest responsibility: being a dog dad, I've been a little preoccupied. However, here are some photos of the delicious meals that Suzanne and I have made over the past couple weeks.

These were a Suzanne original recipe called Tortilla Stackers. It's three lightly crispy tortillas with a Mexican styled filling (corn, black beans, onions, vegan sausage, and spices). These were awesome and essentially can be eaten like a hamburger!

This was round two of Vegan Chipotle Mac and Cheese. The last time I made this I substituted the chipotles with jalapenos. However, we used chipotles this time and boy did it make the dish even more delicious! The smokiness from the peppers added so much flavor!

Suzanne then made Meso Soup with Vegan Pot Stickers. HANDS DOWN MY FAVORITE ASIAN MEAL YET! Trust me, the recipe deserves all the caps.

Lastly, Suzanne made a tofu stir fry dish that was also incredibly good and filling

Many of the recipes from this post can be found on my wife's blog,

Suzanne and I are looking forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow. We'll be sure to post some pictures of our amazing meal! To all of our amazing family and friends, we hope that you all have a wonderful holiday break and we truly cherish all of your love and support!

-Bearded Vegan

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

MacGyver Chickpea Veggie Burgers and Fries!

You may be wondering what MacGyver has to do with my veggie burgers so allow me to explain. I really wanted to make some veggie burgers last night and as I was looking at a veggie burger recipe I had found several weeks ago, I realized that I basically had none of the key ingredients I needed. Rather than letting despair get the best of me, I conjured my MacGyver skills and made my own veggie burgers! So, I give you MacGyver Chickpea Veggie Burgers and Fries!

BURGERS: (You can change it up, but this is what I used.)
* 1 15oz. can of Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
* 1 Orange Pepper
* 3 cloves of minced garlic
* Black Pepper
* 1/2 tsp of dried thyme
* 1 cup of breadcrumbs divided
* 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
* 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons of Frank's Hot Sauce
* 1 yellow onion (Since I didn't have one, I just used some dry minced onion)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

The first step is sauteing some of the veggies, so grab a fry pan, set the stove on medium heat, and drizzle some olive oil in the pan. Chop up your orange pepper and toss it into the pan along with the garlic, thyme, and onions. Saute them until the veggies are no longer firm and the garlic is a nice toasted brown color.

While that's cooking, drain and rinse your chickpeas.

Once the veggies are done, toss them into your food processor along with the chickpeas, pepper, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tsp of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of Frank" Hot Sauce (you can use your favorite or omit this ingredient), and ONLY 1/2 CUP OF BREAD CRUMBS (you'll use the other half AFTER you have pulsed the mixture). Once everything is in the processor, pulse it until it become a thick paste like texture. Scoop it out of the processor and into a mixing bowl. Toss in the rest of your breadcrumbs and mix until it is all combined.

The recipe makes six burgers, so I formed the mixture into a ball and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Flatten them out into a patty shape and place them on a covered baking sheet (I used parchment paper with a little Pam sprayed on it). Place these in the oven for 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off, flip the burgers and cook them for an additional 15 minutes. And there you have it!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (when the burgers had about 5 minutes left, I upped the temperature and put the fries in).

* 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
* 1/2 tsp of paprika
* 1/2 tsp of chili powder
* 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp of onion powder
* Salt to taste

Slice two potatoes into wedges or small fries, however you like. Place them on a baking pan covered in aluminum foil.

Mix the oil and spices together in a bowl and drizzle it over the fries. Toss the fries around so most or all of them get coated.

Place them in the oven and let them cook for about 30 to 35 minutes (I took them out a few times to shuffle them around).

While I was finishing the fries, I covered the veggie burgers and kept them on the stove. The heat from the oven kept them nice and warm until the fries were done and Suzanne and I were ready to eat.

And that's it! I really enjoyed making these burgers and they were crazy good. I'm already thinking of alternative ingredients I could use to jazz them up a bit. Hope all is well, friends!

-Bearded Vegan


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's a Vegan Fiesta, Charlie Brown!

Suzanne and I were craving something along the lines of Qdoba, so we decided to try our hand at creating something similar. This is probably the quickest and easiest recipe we've made during this whole experience. However, don't let the ease of this dish deceive you. It was super filling and incredibly tasty.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add in 2 cups of brown rice. Set the heat to low, cover the pot, and let sit for 30 minutes. When the rice is done, add in lime juice from 2 limes, some salt, and a bundle of chopped cilantro.

Drain and rinse a can of black beans (Suzanne and I use the Low Sodium stuff). Place them in a pot with some water (just enough to cover the beans) and heat on low until ready.

Select whatever veggies you would like to roast. (Suzanne used zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers, orange peppers, and red onion.) Cover a baking sheet with aluminium foil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (give or take - Suzanne was in charge of the veggies so I'm not quite sure of the temperature). While the oven is preheating, prepare your veggies by cutting them up. place them on the baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste. Place them in the oven and let them cook for about 15 to 20 minutes (you can gauge when you think they're done and to your liking). We also chopped up some lettuce to add at the end.

When everything is done, pile it all into a bowl and eat till your heart's content! As some of you may know, I love heat, so I added some homemade habanero hot sauce from my brother-in-law. As I said before, although it was probably the easiest dish we have made, it was crazy filling.

I'm feeling creative tonight so I may try my hand at something crazy. With that being said, another post is right around the corner! Hope everyone is having a wonderful day. Keep calm and be kind :P

-Bearded Vegan

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chickpea cutlets, roasted brussles sprouts, and "monster mash" potatoes!

Suzanne and I recently crossed over the one month mark as being vegans! With this in mind, I wanted to make a special meal to celebrate. After browsing through the post punk kitchen website, I came across this interesting item called "chickpea cutlets." In hindsight, I'm soooooo glad I decided to make this meal because it was phenomenal and super easy to make.

For me, this meal resembled good old fashioned home cooking; the comfort food that your mom or dad makes for the holidays. It kept us full, happy, and content as Suzanne and I continued on with our night (which consisted of finishing Season 3 of The Walking Dead and watching V for Vendetta. Remember remember the 5th of November...).

As I mentioned before, the chickpea cutlets recipe is from The Post Punk Kitchen, however, the brussels sprout and potato recipes are Pastrano originals!

During the cooking process, I got the brussels sprouts cooking first, then the potatoes, and then the cutlets. Without any further ado, I give you chickpea cutlets, roasted brussles sprouts, and "monster mash" potatoes!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and cover a baking pan with aluminum foil. Grab your brussels sprouts (I used half a bag - roughly two servings) and begin to chop them in halves. Once done, place them on your baking sheet, cover them with olive oil (I wouldn't go over board, but just make sure that most of them get a nice sprinkle) and season with salt and pepper. Place them in the oven when it is done preheating and let them cook for 30 minutes (being sure to stir them at 15 minutes).

These are a signature side that I make. I made them once for Suzanne several years ago and she loved them, so much so that they are requested in our house :P I call them "Monster Mash" potatoes because they have a kick. The secret? Tabasco. (For those of you who would like the non-vegan version of these potatoes, I used to add shredded cheese, milk and butter.) For the vegan version, the cheese has been replaced by nutritional yeast, the milk with water, and the butter with earth balance.

Grab a pot, fill it up with water (judge how much you need by the amount of potatoes you're using), toss in some salt, and set it on the stove to boil. Proceed to cut up your potatoes (I used about 10 or 12 smaller golden yukon potatoes). Once your water is boiling, toss them into the water. Once the potatoes are soft and ready for mashing, drain the water, add some butter (we use Earth Balance vegan butter - I used 1/2 of the smaller sticks that you can buy), shake in some Tabasco (however much you want), sprinkle your nutritional yeast (again, use however much you want - just season to taste), 3/4 cups of water, and begin the mashing! The nutritional yeast gives the potatoes a nice cheesy flavor and the Tabasco gives the potatoes a kick and a little added sweetness.

1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of vital wheat gluten
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of thyme
4 cloves of garlic

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a mixing bowl, add in your olive oil and garlic, and begin mashing them (I used a potato masher). Make sure that they are mashed well (no large pieces). Once they are mashed, add in all of the other ingredients. You can them mix it up by hand, kneading the mixture for about 3 minutes. Your mixture should almost look like a ball of dough. You know when you're good to go when the dough looks "stringy" when you pull it apart.

Preheat a pan on medium-low heat.

Place the cutlet dough on a cutting board. Cut it into 2 equal pieces, then cut those 2 pieces in half, and then cut those pieces in half - you should have 8 separate pieces of chickpea dough. Flatten out each piece into cutlet shapes (about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide at the middle).

Pour some oil into your pan, and place two of your cutlets into the pan (I cooked two at a time). Cover the pan and let each side cook for 6 to 7 minutes. If you need to add more oil to your pan during this process, feel free to do so. Repeat these steps for the remaining cutlets.

And there you have it! Suzanne and I ended up with 2 extra servings of potatoes and 6 cutlets for leftovers. Seriously, this meal was the real deal. SO DANG GOOD! I also had a nice cold glass of Newcastle with my meal.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we did! Take care, everyone. Here's to a beautiful and family filled November.

-Bearded Vegan

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Early dawnin', Sunday mornin'"

Sunday mornings are pretty great, but when you throw in some daylight savings time and a hearty breakfast, they go from "pretty great" to "flippin' awesome."

Suzanne wanted to make breakfast for us this morning and decided to try out a new scrambled tofu recipe she found on The Post Punk Kitchen. Having tried several different scrambled tofu recipes, we've concluded that the Post Punk Kitchen version has been the best. (The link to the recipe is located under the photo.) The cooks behind this website have not steered us wrong during this entire vegan expedition and the food we have made has always tasted so dang good! Along with the tofu, Suzanne made some breakfast potatoes and sliced up an orange. By the end, we were happy, full, and ready to enjoy a lazy Sunday.


When we have the time, we also like to play some music on the record player while we eat breakfast. The musical selection this morning was Volcano Choir's new album Repave. Volcano Choir is the side project of Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver fame. I just picked up the album yesterday at Ernie November and was eager to listen to it because (1) I previewed it online a several weeks ago and really enjoyed it and (2) the record was pressed on a limited edition crystal vinyl. It looked pretty rad spinning on the turntable.

Well, I'm off to enjoy the rest of this beautiful day. I really hope everyone is having an equally tranquil and relaxing Sunday morning. Take care, friends.

-Bearded Vegan