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 Post subject: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:33 am 
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So Totally Yiffy

Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:10 pm
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I hope I am putting this in the right place. I am transitioning from vegetarian to vegan(4 days so far) and have a couple of questions. First question, I have tried daiya cheese and am in love. it says on the package that you can freeze it. How long can you freeze it for and does freezing it change the taste and texture? second question, I have tried tofu previously and didn't like it because of the texture but since I am lacking in cooking skills I think I didn't prepare it well. I am wondering what is the best way to get the excess water out? How long can it be frozen for? Does freezing it change the texture? third question, reading labels is driving me crazy. All the basic bad ingredients are listed in the allergy info on the package and I know casein is a bad ingredient but is there any other common bad ones that are not listed on the allergy info that I should be aware of. It is taking me 10 minutes per package to look up all the ingredients I don't know. Thanks for any help :)


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:55 am 
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Chip Strong
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I'm not sure about how long you can freeze Daiya, as that stuff never lasts more than a few days in my fridge. Pressing the tofu is probably the best/only way to get the water out (put heavy stuff on top of it for like half an hour, turn over and repeat), along with dry frying. Do you have any vegan cookbooks? They should tell you how it's done. And yes, you can freeze tofu and it becomes chewier when you defrost it later. You'll get used to reading labels, usually I check the allergy thing first for milk and then scan the rest of the label. Casein and whey are usually the ones that they like to sneak in the most often. Check for vitamin D, too. I'm sure someone else will give you a giant list that will scare you of all the possible animal products with weird names, but try to remember that the important part is that you're trying. In the beginning it can be tricky so don't beat yourself up if you later realize you ate something nonvegan.

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:48 am 
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Not NOT A Furry
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About the tofu: yes, dry frying has been a great discovery for me! Here is a link with a photo tutorial: http://melissaraydavis.hubpages.com/hub/How_to_Cook_Tofu_Like_the_Pros

It can be frozen and that changes texture a great lot. I'm not a fan but you should try out for yourself and see how you like it. I've read many times that people use frozen and thawed tofu to replicate the texture of fish, e.g. to make fish fingers.

Shopping tip: if you have 'ethic' grocers nearby, go there! Especially the Asian ones will have all kinds of interesting foods which are fun to try out like mock meats, tofu in all shapes and degrees of softness, yuba (tofu skin), exotic veggies and whatnot.


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:50 am 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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RE: Label reading, not all animal ingredients are listed in the allergy info. For example, gelatin and carmine/cochineal are not listed in the allergy info. Also, like Rubella mentioned, vitamin D is one to watch for. (Vitamin D2 is vegan, vitamin D3 is not.) You can find lists of animal ingredients online.

I know it can seem overwhelming at first, but it really does get easier and easier. Knowing what to look for on labels becomes almost second-nature at one point. In the meantime, like Rubella says, the important thing is that you're trying. Even people who have been vegan for years sometimes discover something they thought was vegan wasn't. shiitake happens and you do the best you can with the knowledge you have.

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:20 am 
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welcome :-D

casein is the biggest sneaky ingredient. it can also be called sodium caseinate (sp???)
whey is another one. that might be obvious to some but i always have to stop and think about it

ive recently learned that confectioners glaze on candy is not vegan (see the junior mints thread)

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:25 am 
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Human Gravy
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I usually keep my daiya in the freezer and only take out what I need while cooking. A bag normally lasts me about 2-3 months. I bought a few bags in summer when it was on sale and just finished up the last over xmas, so I would it will last longer in the freezer if it's not open and if you freeze it right after you come home from the store. Freezing is, in my opinion, the best way to go as daiya seems to get moldy within a week (and is a bit pricy for my budget). The texture stays the same and it really doesn't take much longer for it to melt from the freezer than from the fridge.


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:50 am 
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Nooch of Earl
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If you find yourself pressing a lot of tofu, this is a handy gadget to have: http://www.tofuxpress.com/

Freezing Daiya works fine. Follow Your Heart cheese, however, says not to freeze it (although I've successfully frozen it in some applications where it was already shredded and mixed with other things).


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:04 am 
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Should Write a Goddam Book Already
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I like the whole concept of Tofuxpress, however it is rather expensive. Maybe it's super nifty and all, but I'd like to include some more detailed tips on how to press tofu the oldfashioned/poor way:

First of all, here's a helpful video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7phSwo3duS0&list=UUvUp1Gq7vR8S-Wh2SFf3pMA&index=13&feature=plpp_video

The steps written out:

- Open the tofu package, drain the water.
- Cut the tofu widthwise in 8 slices.
- Take dinner plate, put a folded towel on it and open that like a book.
- Put the slices of tofu on there in one layer. Close the towel 'book' on top of it.
- Put a cutting board on top of the towel.
- Put something heavy on top of the cutting board. (I use my heavy asparagus dictionary.)
- Go do something fun, and leave this installation alone for a minimum of 1 hr, preferably more.

Tadaa, pressed tofu !

Now, go on to marinate it in something yummy for a Very Long Time, and your tofu will never be the same. :)

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:36 am 
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This may sounds obvious but if you really don't want to read labels the more whole food and less processed you go the less ingredients to worry about and also not many complicated names hiding what the things are. Also there are some premade/processed foods like gardein or boca that label vegan products as vegan. Allergy labels are great for hidden dairy but not for hidden animal ingredients that aren't dairy based (they aren't considered allergens). I think its been said but can't be said enough. Try your best and don't beat yourself up in the beginning. After a while you know which brands are ok and also you become more adept at spotting the no nos. Welcome and enjoy the journey!

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:50 am 
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I don't think there's much of a limit to how long Daiya will last in the freezer as long as it is well wrapped. You might also enjoy some of the home made cheeses, especially the veg times cashew goat cheese. I don't remember where I got the recipe from, but google it and you'll find it.
You might like Wild Wood Super Firm Tofu, which is even firmer than extra firm and I don't think needs pressing. You also might enjoy broiled tofu, which is possibly my favorite food. If you have Vegenomicon, just follow the broiled tofu recipe in there. Dry fried is also pretty amazing. Baked is good too.
If you live near a Trader Joe's, they label some of their vegan products with a V for vegan. However, they have many products that most of us consider suitable that are not labeled with the V. Like others said, the label thing gets easier as you learn which products that you like are vegan, and your eyes develop their vegan super power label reading. Another quick check is to look at the cholesterol on the nutrition info. If it's got cholesterol, it's not vegan. Of course, cholesterol free doesn't automatically mean it is vegan. And, yep, we all make mistakes on occasion no matter how long we've been doing this.
Welcome, good luck, and congratulations!

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:18 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung
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Daiya freezes great. Nowadays, whenever I buy a package first thing I do before I even eat it is throw it in a ziplock in the freezer. It should keep for a while, but if you're like me you'll probably get through the bag in less than a month.

I've never tried freezing tofu, but apparently if you press and freeze it it gets a chewier flavor. I think tofu is best either pan-fried and sauced or crumbled into a scramble. Try a tofu scramble breakfast burrito with spinach, mushrooms and avocado. You'll be in love.

As to reading labels...well, it's just something you gotta do. The animal ingredients you'll come across the most are the ones that are plainly obvious: milk, eggs, gelatin, chicken fat, honey etc. Oh, and "carmine" is made from crushed beetles, but I think that's mostly used is cosmetics, not food.

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:14 am 
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So Totally Yiffy

Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:10 pm
Posts: 43
Thanks for all the great responses. I am trying to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. I have seen the tofu express but I want to make sure I will like tofu before I spend so much money on equipment. Going to pick some up and try it out. I think I am going to make a list of bad ingredients to make reading labels a little easier until I get the hang of it :)


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:28 am 
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Semen Strong
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Another great resource is http://good-good-things.com/ - Jenna, the blogger, is in our area and has 2 young kids, so all her recipes are user-friendly and the ingredients are easy to find in northern nj. Her seitan recipe is amazing.

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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:36 am 
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So Totally Yiffy

Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:10 pm
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Thanks for the link, her food looks amazing. I really wish I was a better cook.


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:28 am 
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Not NOT A Furry
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Baileyboo wrote:
I really wish I was a better cook.


You can become one! I used to be a total idiot in the kitchen but then I became interested in cooking and that was really all that was necessary to become a decent cook over time. It is all about trying and practicing as much as you can. You'll see, you'll become much better once you start cooking regularly... it's just a learning process. One that is very enjoyable, too!

And try to not be discouraged if something does not work out as it is supposed to. It happens to all of us :)


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:30 am 
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Not NOT A Furry
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I couldn't really cook anything before I went vegan. Veganomicon has been mentioned before, and is a really great cook book. It was my first vegan cookbook, and it got me interested in and excited about learning to cook.
And like everyone else said, reading labels gets much easier with time.
I've been vegan 3 years and have never cooked tofu. Hah!
Good luck on your new adventure! Everyone on the forums is so nice, and supportive, they can help with future questions you might have.

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Our baby looked like a bean, so now we are pro-life. And we don't eat beans. -Tofulish


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:18 am 
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I keep my Daiya in the freezer too. I just pull out what I need about an hour or so before I need it and either put it in the fridge or leave it on the counter. It thaws very fast.


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 Post subject: Re: New with questions
PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 12:07 pm 
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There was a closeout store around here that had the 5lb daiya freezer packs. Mine didn't last a year in the freezer due to use, but I'm pretty sure Pandacookie had hers in the freezer for a year. So it will be fine! I would pull out only a few minutes before hand and scrape off what I needed with a fork.

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