Apr 102014

By Elena Johnson

US vegeThere are 52 weeks in a year – why not make at least one of them meat-free?

US VegWeek kicks off on April 21! I hope you’ll join me in taking the 7-day VegPledge – for the planet, our health, and animals. When you sign up at USVegWeek.com, you’ll receive a free starter pack loaded with coupons, recipes, and information on the many benefits of veg eating. You can also sign up to receive daily emails during the week – including tips, articles, more recipes, and more coupons!

If that’s not enough, this weeklong celebration also features restaurant specials and local events so you can meet other people taking the pledge and try out new vegetarian food together. Check out the map on USVegWeek.com to see what’s happening in your area!

Need even more reasons to take the pledge – how about prizes? When you pledge to choose vegetarian foods during US VegWeek, you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing for fabulous prizes from our sponsors! Want more chances to win? Become a recruiter – the top 10 recruiters will also win prizes for encouraging their friends and family to join in the US VegWeek fun.

From April 21 – 27 thousands of people, including celebrities and public officials, will be taking the US VegWeek pledge. Will you join us? I look forward to hearing your experiences during US VegWeek and beyond – Tweet your updates, photos, and food adventures to @ElenaEJohnson.

About the Author

Elena Johnson

Elena Johnson

Elena Johnson is a second-generation Filipino American living in Baltimore, MD. As a vegan chef and caterer she has been reinventing her family’s recipes and sharing them with friends, relatives, and those interested in vegetarian cooking. Elena is also the Special Projects Manager at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal advocacy organization focusing on cruelty to farmed animals and promoting vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world for all. Elena combines her passion for vegetarian food with a love of teaching by offering cooking demonstrations to the public. To learn more about why she went veg, visit TryVeg.com. Questions/feedback: email ejohnson@cok.net. Follow Elena on Twitter: @ElenaEJohnson.

Mar 052014
Meat-Free Favorites : Multigrain Pancakes

By Elena Johnson These pancakes are higher in fiber and protein than a typical pancake made with white flour or a mix. The addition of multigrain cereal also gives them a thicker, chewy texture, perfect for soaking up maple syrup. As always, this recipe is 100% cholesterol-free because it is totally plant-based. If you enjoy my recipes, then you might also enjoy US VegWeek! Kicking off on Meatless Monday, you can join thousands of people by pledging to choose vegetarian foods for at least seven days from April 21 – 27. Visit USVegWeek.com for details. There are 52 weeks in a year — why not make at least one of them meat-free? Multigrain Pancakes Multigrain Pancakes Makes 6 – 8 pancakes ½ cup all-purpose flour ½ cup whole wheat flour ¾ cup multigrain cereal (including oats, rye, barley, wheat) ¼ cup wheat germ 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda ½ tsp. salt 2 cups soy milk 1 Tbsp. agave 2 Tbsp. canola oil Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients and whisk until combined. Heat a nonstick frying pan or griddle over medium-low heat. Spray with oil or cooking spray and spoon approximately ½ cup of batter into pan. Cook until batter is set and bubbles appear around edges. Gently flip pancake and cook on second side a few minutes more until brown. Remove pancake to a plate and keep warm. Continue making pancakes until all batter is used. Serve with maple syrup or other Read More …

Mar 042014
Malacañang congratulates Fil-Am composer for ‘Best Song’ win in 86th Academy Awards

Confetti and flower drop during the re-enactment of the “Salubungan” rites of the military, people power volunteers, religious sector and youth for the commemorative activities of the 28th Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution at the Cebu Provincial Capitol in Cebu City on Tuesday (February 25). (MNS photo) MANILA  (Mabuhay) – Malacañang congratulated Filipino-American composer Robert Lopez and wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez for winning at the 86th Academy Awards held Sunday (Monday, Manila time) in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Lopez and his wife won the Best Original Song award for “Let It Go” which was used also in the Academy Awards winning best animated feature film, Disney Animation’s “Frozen.” It beat song nominations “The Moon Song” from Her by Karen Orzolek and Spike Jonze, “Happy” from Despicable Me 2 by Pharrell Williams, and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom by U2. “We’re very, very happy that Robert Lopez, a Fil-Am, won the Oscar award,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a Palace press briefing. “We certainly congratulate Robert Lopez and his wife for their collaboration in coming up with the song Let It Go,” he added. Lopez had previously won the Tony Award for co-writing musicals Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon. Before winning an Academy award for “Let It Go,” the same song had also received numerous awards and nominations. He is also the only Filipino-American to win an Academy award and the youngest one to be an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) awards winner Read More …

Jan 102014
Praises keep coming for honest Filipino cabbie

By Bert EljeraINQUIRER.net US Bureau 5:09 am | Saturday, January 11th, 2014 Nev. Senator Harry Reid’s letter to Filipino-American cab driver Gerardo Gamboa. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Bert Eljera LAS VEGAS – Accolades continue to pour in for Gerardo Gamboa, the Filipino-American cab driver who found and returned $300,000 in cash left behind by a passenger in his taxi. The latest praises came from Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Harry Reid, the U.S. Majority leader, who both hailed the Filipino-American for his honesty and as example to the community. Sandoval praised Gamboa in a personal letter to the taxi driver, saying his honesty should be emulated. Reid, who is particularly close to the burgeoning Filipino-American in Nevada, said in returning the money, which he could easily keep for himself, Gamboa showed a “positive example in the community.” “Your action was a wonderful demonstration of citizenship and integrity, and the impact of your story in our community is admired and appreciated,” Sen. Reid said in a Dec. 27 letter to Gamboa. Gamboa became an Internet sensation when his story went public on Dec. 25, and was readily picked up by the international press, particularly in the Phlippines. The 54-year old Gamboa, a 13-year cab driver in Las Vegas, chose to return the $300,000 cash left behind by a professional poker player, who had asked to remain anonymous, even though he provided Gamboa a $10,000 reward. Gamboa, who is from Mabalacat, Pampanga and Silay City, said the money was tempting, for a split second, Read More …

Dec 132013
Meat-Free Favorites : Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits

By Elena Johnson These dairy-free sweet biscuits pair well with coffee or tea and make the whole house smell wonderful as they bake! Sweet Cinnamon Biscuits 12 biscuits ¾ cup soy milk ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar 2 cups pancake/baking mix ¼ cup brown sugar 2 ½ tsp. cinnamon, divided 2 Tbsp. margarine 2 tsp. granulated sugar Mix soy milk and vinegar together, set aside. Spray muffin pan with oil or cooking spray. Combine baking mix, brown sugar, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a large bowl, breaking up any large chunks of brown sugar. Add soy milk mixture and stir gently, but thoroughly. Drop biscuit batter into prepared muffin pan – do not press batter down into pan. Bake at 450°F for 8 – 10 minutes until tops are brown and a knife inserted into biscuits comes out clean. Meanwhile, melt margarine and set aside. Mix together granulated sugar and remaining cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. When biscuits are done baking, remove from the oven and brush tops with melted margarine. Then liberally sprinkle each biscuit with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm. About the Author Elena Johnson is a second-generation Filipino American living in Baltimore, MD. As a vegan chef and caterer she has been reinventing her family’s recipes and sharing them with friends, relatives, and those interested in vegetarian cooking. Elena is also the Special Projects Manager at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal advocacy organization focusing on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promoting vegetarian eating Read More …

Dec 072013
Meat-Free Favorites : Stuffed Mushroom Caps

By Elena Johnson As the demand for dairy-free foods continues to grow, more and more companies are introducing vegan products such as plant-based milk, ice cream, and cheese. One of my favorite new companies is Treeline Cheese, made from cashews. Their tangy soft cheese works well in recipes such as my stuffed mushroom caps. Treeline is available in many natural food stores, but if you can’t find it in your area yet, try substituting with vegan cream cheese flavored with crushed garlic, onion powder, and dried thyme. Since cream cheese has a higher moisture-content than Treeline, you may also want to increase the quantity of bread crumbs so that the resulting mixture is fairly solid. With relatively few ingredients, these mushrooms are simple to prepare but impressive when served as hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. Stuffed Mushroom Caps Stuffed Mushroom Caps 36 pieces 36 button mushrooms ¼ c fresh parsley, minced 6 oz. pkg. Treeline Herb-Garlic French Style Soft Cheese ½ cup dry bread crumbs 1 ¼ tsp. salt, divided 1 tsp. pepper Carefully remove stems of mushrooms, to hollow out the mushroom caps. Mince the stems and place them in a mixing bowl. Add parsley, cheese, bread crumbs, 1 tsp. salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Arrange mushroom caps on baking sheets and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ tsp. salt. Fill each mushroom with cheese mixture, pressing down into the cap and mounding some of the mixture up on top of the mushroom. Bake at 375°F for Read More …

Nov 012013
Forgotten Soldiers to Open Hollywood’s OneFilAm Film Festival

Saturday, November 16. Opening ceremonies at 9:00 am, Forgotten Soldiers at 10:00 am, Barnsdall Gallery Theater, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. Sacrifice, courage and betrayal. At the beginning of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur’s 80,000 Filipino and American troops on Bataan faced one of the worst atrocities in military history–the Bataan Death March. In this stirring documentary movie, Lou Diamond Phillips narrates as ten survivors describe the battles of Bataan, Corregidor, the Death March itself, and ultimate victory over the enemy; over photographs, reenactments and actual footage of the battles. The 12,000 Filipino soldiers of the Philippine Scouts were the backbone of General MacArthur’s doomed forces, but few Americans today are even aware of this unique segment of the United States Army. They are America’s FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS. The OneFilAm Film Festival showcases Filipino American values, culture and tradition through the best current independent films produced, directed or starred in by Filipino Americans. Film lovers will have a unique opportunity to view four movies which have won acclaim and have been lauded as fine examples of the Filipino American spirit and identity. In addition to the showcase films, the Barnsdall public park will be filled with booths presenting the best food and cuisine, art and photo exhibits, and a myriad of products and services presented by the FilAm community’s premiere organizations and business entities. For additional information call 818-584-6588. Come see Forgotten Soldiers at the OneFilAm Film Festival, Saturday, November 16!

Oct 222013
Fil-Am version of ‘TED Talks’ spotlights inspiring personal journeys

Filmmaker-Filipinophile Megan Pinsonneault. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO LOS ANGELES—NextDayBetter, the TED Talks-type platform for Filipino-Americans, opened recently amid high expectations from a contingent of Fil-Am cognoscenti at the trendy Busby’s East—and delivered. While the pre-talks promotion did not trumpet “transcending, inspiring ideas worth spreading” in the order of globally popular TED Talks conference, the expectations were more than met by the inspiring messages from the speakers coming in from inspiring lives in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles talk rollout featured Los Angeles Senior Assistant City Attorney Ed Angeles; youthful AJ Rafael, an up-and-coming songwriter-singer and YouTube sensation; and Meg Pinsonneault, a Portuguese-born American and former Peace Corps volunteer who is now a Filipinophile film producer. All three commanded the attention of an audience of close to a hundred who were treated to remarkable stories of achievement. The Los Angeles talks followed three NextDayBetter NY events held early this year, which Ryan Letada, the organization’s Bronx-native Filipino-American prime mover cum Chief Builder says, will be regular events in the cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Manila, Cebu and Davao by March next year. Ed Angeles’ story began as a young immigrant aboard the last plane out of Manila just as martial law was declared in the Philippines in 1972. He grew up in the San Francisco area to become a lawyer and, in a visit back to Manila on the heels of a successful law career in public service as LA senior assistant city attorney, fittingly Read More …

Oct 112013
‘Coming out’ for immigration reform

The author at immigration rally. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO SAN FRANCISCO—October has always been a special month in my household, since it’s when my twin brother and I celebrate our birthday surrounded by family. But October is also Filipino-American History Month and LGBT History Month, both of which I’m uniquely situated to appreciate: As a Filipino American, I am part of a legacy that includes generations of Fil-Am activists like Larry Itliong, who started the farm worker movement that was joined by Latino and labor pioneer Cesar Chavez. And as an openly gay man, in the spirit of the Stonewall activism that stood strong against homophobia and transphobia, I cheer the latest victory for the LGBT rights movement—the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and grant benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The times we are in now, however, call for all the strength these legacies can muster. With our government mired in partisan disagreement, the movement for comprehensive immigration reform stands at a crossroads. Given the distractions, it would be easy to let the momentum wane. But far from choosing the path of least resistance, we’ve chosen to push on and continue the fight. On Oct. 5, the board of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) gathered in New York and stood in solidarity with the more than 100 protests and marches taking place around the country as part of the National Day of Dignity and Respect. On Oct. 8, I Read More …

Sep 272013
Meat-Free Favorites : Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

By Elena Johnson As the temperature starts to drop in Washington DC, harvest flavors are taking center stage. In this simple recipe I pair roasted spaghetti squash with a creamy pumpkin sauce. The sauce can also be used with pasta, but I like this recipe because having the squash serve as “noodles” increases the amount of veggies in the dish. Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce Serves 2 – 4 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded Canola oil or cooking spray 2 tsp. salt, divided 2 tsp. black pepper, divided 12 oz. silken tofu 15 oz. can pumpkin puree 1 ½ cups vegetable broth ¼ cup nutritional yeast 2 tsp. Italian seasoning 2 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. cayenne pepper ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes, optional Place squash halves on a baking sheet and spray with oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of black pepper. Bake at 375°F for 30 – 45 minutes until the squash can be easily separated from the skin. Remove from oven and cool. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, puree the remaining ingredients, including the remaining salt and pepper, until smooth. Heat mixture in a large saucepan over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. When squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to shred the flesh and scoop it out into a large bowl. The squash should have the consistency of fine noodles. Gradually add Read More …