One of the glories of Greece is that its native cuisine is either thoroughly vegan or easily veganized. Dishes that are already vegan include dolmades(stuffed grape leaves), gigantes(lima beans in tomato sauce), as well as many others. Spanakopita and tiropita can be veganized by replacing the feta cheese with vegan cheese. Meatier dishes may be more difficult to veganize but there are myriad ways of doing this.
One of my favorites growing up was pastitisio, which is essentially baked ziti topped with bechamel sauce and ground beef. This dish is typically served during big holidays or large gatherings and I must warn you it isn’t a fast, easy recipe. Reserve this for special occasions.
One of the things that gives pastitsio its distinctive flavor is the allspice or cinnamon in the beef. For most recipes I find that cinnamon and allspice are interchangeable, hence I used cinnamon which I had on hand. This may not be true of everyone but I think most people won’t notice the difference. I also decided to use vegan ground beef from Trader Joe’s instead of using lentils like other Greek vegans like to use.
For this use a standard size lasagna baking pan, or something close to 12 inches by 16 inches and is 3.5 inches deep.
- 1 lb vegan ground beef(I used Trader Joe’s)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice(or more)
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 4 cups cashews(soaked overnight)
- 2 cups veggie broth(optional)
- 4 cloves garlic
- black pepper
- pinch of salt
- 24 ounces of penne or ziti
- drizzle of olive oil(optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Saute all beef ingredients in saucepan until onions are a slightly browned.
- Cook pasta until it is almost al dente. Remember you’ll be baking it later so don’t over-boil it. Drizzle with olive oil(optional).
- Thoroughly blend cashews in blender. Mix in other bechamel ingredients and cook in sauce pan for a few minutes until everything is thoroughly mixed together.
- Thoroughly mix about 1/4 to 1/2 beef sauce mix with pasta and put in lasagna pan(spray bottom of pan with oil first).
- Put the rest of the beef sauce mix on top of the pasta/beef sauce mix.
- Put bechamel sauce on top of all the other layers.
- Cover with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the oven at 350 F.
- Let it sit outside the oven for 10 minutes before serving to cool.
This was a hit when I last made it and I’m sure it will be in your home as well.
Posted in vegan
Tagged baked ziti, bechamel sauce, Greek cuisine, Greek food, Greek pasta, Greek vegan, Greek vegan cuisine, Greek vegan food, Greek ziti, Mediterranean cuisine, Mediterranean diet, Mediterranean vegan, Middle Eastern cuisine, New York vegans, ouzo, pastitsio, pastitsio recipe, vegan cuisine, vegan Greece, vegan Middle Eastern, vegan pastitsio
I thought I’d finally do a video on how to unicycle since so many people keep asking me how to do it. It’s really not that difficult if you devote enough time to it every day.
The key things to remember are:
- Practice in a flat area along a long wall or fence — the longer the better.
- Lean forward to gain forward momentum.
- Try to keep most of your weight in the seat though this isn’t absolutely essential early on. With time you’ll likely end up doing this without thinking.
- When breaking free from the fence or wall use your arms to help you balance.
- Patience, practice and perseverance.
As far as which size unicycle to learn on, I say choose a 20″ or 24″ inch unicycle(for small children a 16″ may be best). These days most people learn on a 20″ inch unicycle — I learned on a 24″. I chose a 24″ because I wanted something that I could ride around town on, besides doing freestyle tricks. A 20″ inch unicycle is great for freestyle but it’s impractical for riding around the neighborhood. A 24″ also makes a better gateway to the larger size unicycles used for long-distance riding, like 29″, 32″ and 36″ inch unicycles.
Whatever size you choose, get plenty of practice! If you’re a runner, this is a great cross-trainer. Happy riding!
Posted in fitness
Tagged balance, Bronxville, circus arts, cross-training for runners, how to unicycle, New York, unicycling, unicyclist, vegan, vegan athlete, vegan runners, vegan running, VeganRunCrew, westchester county, yonkers
Lately I’ve been working a lot on my juggling while unicycling backwards technique, particularly in circles and figure 8’s. It is extremely challenging to say the least, but I am slowly learning to do smoother circles. In essence, it’s the same thing as doing forwards circles and figure 8’s while juggling: leaning in the direction you want to go in, as well as pointing your shoulders toward where you want to go. Your body is just facing the opposite direction from where you’re going.
Beyond this it can be difficult to explain the how of it. This is because so much of the learning when it comes to this difficult skill is subconscious. Repeat the same task over and over again and it gets stored in your muscle memory.
Although I haven’t mastered this skill yet, here are some tips for those who want to know how to do this(this assumes you can already juggle while unicycling forward):
- Relax. Breath deeply before and while doing it to calm your muscles and oxygenate your cells. Try to achieve a state of mind that is both focused and relaxed.
- Try to find a large, flat, quiet area to practice in. Don’t worry if your circles or figure 8’s are over-large, with practice you’ll slowly make them smaller.
- Learn to idle while juggling first or while learning this. Idling and backwards are closely related skills. The better your idling, the better your backwards and vice versa.
- You’ll likely make the same mistake over and over again. Learn to fail better, try to do the opposite of what keeps leading to the same mistake. In other words, try making different mistakes.
- Don’t worry if you notice an asymmetry with your turning abilities, this is perfectly normal. I find clockwise backwards circles much easier than counter-clockwise. Just work a little more on your weaker side.
- Be patient. It takes a while to learn a skill like this. You may experience many learning plateaus or you may even regress before getting better. Take breaks if you get very frustrated.
- If you are a very self-conscious kind of person and there are people watching, just ignore them. Try not to care what others think and learn to laugh at your mistakes. Or just learn to get used to having people watch you.
The transition from forwards to backwards can be especially tricky when you first start out. Even if you can do it well without juggling it can still be a huge challenge. It’s almost like a separate skill in itself. The key to this is to isolate your lower body and upper body so your unicycling doesn’t interfere with your juggling and vice versa. This is a good approach to juggling while unicycling backwards in general.
With enough practice this should become a second nature. Happy riding!
Posted in fitness
Tagged backwards unicycling, Bronxville, circus arts, greek blogger, Greek vegan, juggler, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, New York, north of NYC, sports, turning while unicycling, unicycle, unicycle skills, unicyclist, vegan, vegan athlete, vegan unicyclist, Westchester NY
There are so many choices these days when it comes to plant-based burgers, it’s never been easier to go meatless during grilling season.
One of my current favorites is Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Burger. It tastes great! It’s savory and kind of beefy, and it also has a “meaty” texture which I enjoy. I love it with tomato, onion and arugula. This was yummy and very filling. Also easy to prepare. Plant-based burgers or veggie burgers have come a long way over the past 2 decades. I remember when I first went vegan how bland most veggie burgers were, and there was little choice. Now there’s a plethora of options.
The Beyond burger, another one of my favorites, tastes beefy to the point that some non-vegans are fooled into thinking it is beef and some vegans find the beefiness disturbing or unpleasant. I think the Gardein burger is nearly as good as the Beyond burger, which is typically pricier.
What is your favorite plant-based burger? Or do you prefer to make your own? If you prefer making your own, please share your favorite recipe!
Posted in vegan
Tagged arugula, Beyond Burger, Bronxville, easy to be vegan, Gardein, Gardein burger, grilling season, Mount Vernon NY, New Rochelle, plant-based burgers, vegan athlete, vegan burgers, vegan grilling, vegan living, veggie burgers, veggie meat, westchester county