Here are some recipes from my Book, Later Gator. I think it’s appropriate to make something special for the one you love, and this will be a big hit on Valentines Day.
Vegan Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Chocolate Crust
Makes one cake
I originally bought this cheesecake from our vegan friend Jenny Houser. She has a big sweet tooth. Jenny is so active, I think she needs the sweets to keep her energy charged — kind of like a hummingbird needs to sip the nectar from flowers to keep its wings going a zillion miles an hour. She gave me the recipe so that I could start making it at home or in the restaurant. It's always a good sign when customers or friends want to know what's in it because it tastes like the real thing.
Tofutti Cream Cheese, 3 containers
Tofutti Sour Cream, 1 cup
Non-GMO silken or soft tofu, ½ cup
vegan graham crackers, 4 cups (after putting in food processor)
Earth Balance Organic Vegan Buttery Spread, 1/2 cup
Organic ground flaxseed meal, 2 tbsp
Pure vanilla extract, 1 tbsp
Organic cane sugar, ¾ cup
Lemon, one half juice only
Vegan non-GMO semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, ½ cup
Strawberries or blueberries for garnish
Put the graham crackers into a food processor and blend them until they are finely ground. Put the graham crumbs into a medium mixing bowl. In a microwave melt, but don't heat, ¾ of a cup of Earth Balance Buttery Blend (30 seconds.) Add the melted Earth Balance to the graham crackers and mix it together with a fork. Add the mini chocolate chips and continue to mix so that it has a consistent and even texture.
Grease a springform cake pan with additional Earth Balance Buttery Blend sparingly. (A springform pan has a clip that will allow you to take the side of the pan off when the cake has cooled.) Pour the contents of the crust mixture into the springform pan and make an even layer of graham cracker along the bottom and then a ridge along the interior pan about an inch high. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, add the Tofutti cream cheese, Tofutti sour cream, silken tofu, flaxseed meal, organic sugar, pure vanilla extract, and the juice of a half lemon. Blend this mixture for about four or five minutes. Pour the filling into the cake pan and even out the top out with a spatula. I will also tap the pan lightly on the kitchen counter to help even out the mixture. Next put the cake in the oven on top of a cookie sheet. This is important in case the buttery spread leaks out of the bottom of the springform pan (which could cause a fire).
Bake it for about 50 minutes and check. Once the top of the cake has baked evenly and has a slightly light brown hue, it's done. In my oven it is exactly one hour. Let the vegan cheesecake sit on top of a counter top for about 45 minutes and then place it in a refrigerator for it to completely cool. I generally wait a total of four hours before I slice into the cake. Serve the dessert on a large or small plate with a fruit garnish, like fresh strawberries or blueberries.
Allyn's Energy Balls
Makes twelve balls
I am not a big sweets person, which is probably good. It seems that if I start eating sweet things, I want more. My energy balls are sweet, but they are so filling that you only want one or two. These are great for the sweet cravings we all get at times.
Organic oatmeal, 1½ cup
Flaxseed meal, ½ cup
Organic pure maple syrup, ⅓ cup
Honey, 3 tbsp (honey is not vegan: remember, it comes from bees) you can skip this and add a little more maple syrup
Pure vanilla extract, 1 tsp
Vegan chocolate chips, 3 tbsp
Sun butter, ½ cup of (we don't like the organic as much, but you can use that also)
Coconut flakes, 2 tbsp
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend with a spatula until you have a consistent mixture. Refrigerate the mixture until it is cold. This makes it easier to form into balls. Make the mixture into golf ball size balls and keep them refrigerated. Eat as a dessert, snack, or quick pick me up.
Please let me know how you like my desserts and have a wonderful Valentines Day.
The editor of my upcoming book, titled Later Gator, Wendy Beckman (author of 8 Wonders of Cincinnati, Founders and Famous Families of Cincinnati and University of Cincinnati College of Nursing: 125 Years of Transforming Health Care) sent me this article by Holly Thomas, ‘Why do vegans attract such hatred?’ (Saturday January 5, 2019). And she just wrote..."Great article."
I read the article and a couple things came to mind. But first let’s examine what all the hubbub in the article is about. Gregg’s, a UK food chain announces the addition of a vegan sausage roll to the delight of some and dismay of others. The roll would quickly sell out by lunchtime, but there were others that deplore, why do we need to change the classic sausage roll?" (including a very vocal, famous T.V. personality and columnist).
1. You can’t preach from an Ivory Tower.
If you decide to become a vegan or move to a plant-based diet, there is a good chance you are going to be different than most of your friends and family. Learn that what may be healthy for you may not be healthy for everybody. If you find, as I did, someone has an interest in a plant-based diet engage them. I lost 30 pounds within a few months by getting off dairy and animal protein.
My skyrocketing cholesterol and high blood pressure went down to normal and my daily acid-reflux disappeared. People I ran into that hadn’t seen me for a while looked at me like, are you OK? You lost a lot of weight, or you are skinny, and I would reply I changed my diet and exercise significantly. This is where you need to be on alert. ‘I got on a plant-based diet’ would be my reply, and then the questions would start.
Q. You don’t eat meat? A. No. Q. How about dairy? A. No. Q. Cheese? A. No. Q. Fish? A. No. I always answer in a non-provocative way, not condescending at all. Then the conversation may go to the person saying, Oh I could never give up cheese, (or meat or fish or dairy) or whatever.
The conversation would end there with me saying it was a good choice for my own health but might not be for you. If you decide to become a vegan don’t be pretentious, do it for yourself and the planet. People will eventually come around and there are plenty of interested folks out there wanting to get healthier. Don’t waste your time with the naysayers.
2. Being a vegan and hanging out with carnivores is not hypocritical or vice versa.
I own a restaurant and we serve animal protein, dairy, cheese, and fish. Am I a hypocrite because I choose to be on a plant-based diet? No, I also added a dozen vegan recipes that tend to get the most positive reviews from my customers. Understand that I am an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach and have studied diets and nutrition thoroughly. One key theory is that one person’s food can be another person’s poison. Diet is based on bio-individuality.
At Allyn’s we buy local Wagyu beef and cage free chicken, steroid and hormone free. I find this to be a step in the right direction of sustainability. I am not running around the restaurant telling people what to eat and I don’t do that in my IN practice. Our growing vegan crowds come in with their carnivore friends and chow down at one table. Restaurant chains are adding Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burgers to their menus.
I haven’t heard it yet “Leave our White Castle burgers alone and keep that fake meat out of our fast food chains- we like our burgers the way they are! And maybe it’s because no big star has chosen to jump on that anti-plant protein bandwagon. The fact is all the people that are employed in the fast food industry are no different than you and me.
* It is wrong to put a label on them and their employment. They have families, bills, dreams, like us. What is interesting is the thought that these companies have the distribution channels to make big changes for the world in the future. The slight change of adding a plant-based burger on the menu has ginormous implications for our planet and food supply. (*Thoughts I got from a seminar by Joel Fuhrman M.D. at IIN)
3. Love the one you're with!
Don’t waste you time and energy hating anyone or anything. Learn to forgive people, even when they wrong you or don’t share the same opinion. Try to understand the underlying issues of someone with opposing viewpoints. Always be yourself and stand up for your values, but don’t preach them. Your overall health may benefit more from this than any diet. Controlling your stress levels is so important in health and wellbeing... (remember my breathing exercise suggestions).
In Integrated Nutrition it’s called Primary Food. It involves balancing your career, relationships, exercise and spirituality and may be more important than what’s on your plate. (Secondary Food) Think positive thoughts, be thankful, grateful, complimentary, be wise, creative, spiritual and don’t get caught up with ridiculous chatter about trivial issues like ‘leave our bloody sausage roll alone.’
Another approach this celebrity could have taken versus attacking the Gregg’s food chain for finding a vegan substitute sausage roll might have been a tweet or blog, “Is it time for a vegan sausage roll or should we leave the bloody thing alone?” To me that is a much better approach than attacking a population or company, but I’m sure it doesn’t stir up people as much, sell newspapers, magazines or newscasts.
What I heard from this T.V. personality in regards to a vegan sausage roll is, I’ve heard this PC sh!t before, I don’t believe it, there’s no proof it’s healthier, I want what I want regardless of those that say it is a better way, don’t placate me or my listeners, don’t mess with tradition, keep your sh!!t ass diet theories to yourself, revolt that’s who I am. But that’s just my opinion.
Fast Food and Big Food
I have spent the last 28 years trying to make Allyn’s a better restaurant day by day. I have analyzed the details of everything from food and décor to budget. My belief is that you need to change the ambience of the restaurant every five or six years and at the same time keep the place in tip top shape. I have seen restaurants of past keep the same theme and slowly loose market share to the newer more relevant concepts. I emphasis newer because any day in Cincinnati there is a new restaurant emerging. I was talking to a patron a few days ago and he asked me how business was. I told him very good. He made the same point, every time a new restaurant opens everyone tries it out and that must have an impact on other venues. It does have an impact. The pie is only so big, and restaurants are all vying for their piece.
Keeping your restaurant fresh and new keeps patrons interested and coming back. It’s also an ongoing investment. Aside from replacing expensive kitchen equipment, fixing HVAC, refrigeration, (I have over a dozen refrigeration units), faucets, sinks, toilets, grease traps, washers, dryers, doors, windows, tables, chairs, roofs, gutters, etc.…. you also must put aside renovation dollars to keep the image fresh. I analyze the budget as well to keep tabs on prime costs, food, beverage, and labor. We have a third-party inventory the bar every two weeks to maintain a good beverage cost percentage. We watch portioning in the kitchen for consistency and cost. But I never try to buy cheaper ingredients to lower my food cost, never!
Another patron and I were talking about food and health. He is a lean person and told me that he doesn’t drink soft drinks or sugary beverages and doesn’t eat at fast food restaurants. Since he is in the remodeling business I found that unique. He said he was amazed at how crowded the fast food joints were at lunch time. There is always a line in the drive through.
The unfortunate truth is our nation is addicted to inexpensive, non-nourishing food, that tastes great but makes us sick. And when the price of tomatoes goes up the first thing fast food does is remove the tomato from your processed burger. Processed meat on a refined white flour roll, with white fried potatoes and 192 grams of sugar or 48 teaspoons in a 64 oz beverage. Not a prescription for good health. It’s all about the tomato in my opinion. If it costs so much for a corporation to keep a tomato on a burger in times when tomatoes are costly, what the heck. Your customers are numbers to you not patrons. The same goes for larger full-service restaurants with several locations. If produce goes up in price and you must skimp on a cherry tomato, cucumber or for god’s sake a few pieces of avocado, screw you.
Why do our major food companies and fast food restaurants always try to make products cheaper? Shareholders, that’s why. They want a good return on their investment. Ingredients play the major role and the cheaper, the better. That’s good for the investors but not the customer. High fructose corn syrup is a good example and our processed food are loaded with it. It was very difficult for me to find a ketchup for the restaurant that didn’t have HFC in it, but I did. I would think that the big food companies would have our health as their main concern and try to improve what they sell to us in that regard. Wishful thinking at least for now. That brings me back to Allyn’s and being an Integrated Nutrition Health Coach. Perhaps some of the big food companies need a more healthful approach to their mission statements. Next time we will talk about
Allyn’s 21. That is our newest concept for the restaurant that I am trying to make better day by day.
I am starting my blog today with the best intent, and to change the world starting with me. I have a lot going on, things on my mind and a mission from who knows where. So, I gave up meat and dairy six years ago, literally overnight. It started with two documentaries that had a major impact on my life, The Beautiful Truth and Hungry for Change.
I had an Epiphany. At 55 years old, (almost six years ago) having always eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD) I would go to a plant-based diet. What would change was everything. My daily routine, diet of course, the restaurant I owned for 23 years, my body, my mind, my family, my outlook on life, my career, my health, exercise, you get the idea, I could go on.
When we change what we eat, making huge improvements in nutrition the brain gets stimulated. I lost thirty pounds, got a plethora of energy, (my wife noticed immediately) and started training for a marathon. I ran the Flying Pig in Cincinnati in 2014, a very hilly and challenging course. I was able to beat the four-hour mark and was amazed but soar after. When you run a marathon your first thought is I will never do this again. Then you remember the energy of the people lining the street from the beginning to the end, the music from DJ’s to live bands, the banners and signs, the cheering and comradery, and within a few minutes you think, I can’t wait to do this again.
Watching the Beautiful Truth, my biggest impression was that in 1928 Dr. Max Gerson closed the pantry door on cancer. I wondered how can this be? But the film went on to explain in very plain language how deficiency and toxicity are at the core of the problem. My recommendation is to watch the Beautiful Truth or Dying to Have Know (which might be better) on YouTube.
What I am going to do in this blog is talk about what’s on my mind in general, the book I have written Later Gator hopefully to be published in a few months, my training to be an Integrated Nutrition Health coach and Allyn’s 21, which are changes we are making at Allyn’s to make it even better. I will give out recipes and other information that I think everyone will enjoy. Hope you follow along.
Documentaries Mentioned in this Post
The Later Gator Blog
At Allyn's Cafe, we're about so much more than cajun food! Dive into the stories and our journey to going vegan, providing local sourced ingredients, nutritional advice, a sustainable future, writing a book and more with Allyn Raifstanger.
Integrated Health Coach
After several years of studying health and diets, Allyn embarked on a yearlong coarse at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition out of New York State. This course is accredited by the New York State Board of Education.