Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Herbivore Shifters and Vegan Lifestyles by Marilyn Barr

Dietary restrictions are a common theme in new year’s resolutions. Many are cutting out gluten, dairy, meat, or sugar for health, monetary, or environmental reasons. Being a vegetarian from my days in the highchair, I was ecstatic when Meatless Mondays became popular. Bloggers shared inventive vegetarian recipes in every style of cuisine. Our household enjoyed a Lacto-vegan existence for years until my son was diagnosed with a severe allergy to milk at age 3.

We were suddenly vegan and many of my childhood dishes were off the menu. I grew up in an Italian family who made or ordered pizza every Friday night, rolled pasta for tortellini alfredo every Saturday, and had cheesy ziti for every Sunday dinner. How could I share our food culture with my son without giving him hives? I started on an adventure of vegan cheese alternatives and grew to love cashews.

In the Strawberry shifters book series, I wanted to go beyond the typical shifters and my vegan surprise became a blessing. The residents cannot control which power animal in their DNA is chosen by the parasite’s mutant polymerase. The werewolves may own the pizzeria, but a giraffe runs the gas station. A tiny girly girl transforms into a rhinoceros while a tough guy harbors a rodent. With these characters, I wanted their human existence to be as accurate to their power animal as possible. This left me with a plethora of herbivores, including some who will die if they eat meat. Among the vegans is the toughest, grouchiest shifter in Strawberry, James.

What is his power animal? In Book 1: Bear with Me, he flat out refused to shift. Which herbivore is fiercely loyal, committed to family above all else, but runs when the going gets tough? As James finds his way to happiness in Book 2: Round of Applause, readers step into the shoes of a vegan…one trapped in a Sluagh fortress. Here’s a vegan-friendly snippet from Strawberry Shifters Book 2: Round of Applause – 

Are you cutting dairy or joining the vegan lifestyle for a New Year’s Resolution? Then I have a gift for you!

Rosie Paulino’s Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce

8-12 ounces fettuccine noodles (when I don’t make my own, I use Le Veneziane GF pasta)

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

6-8 cloves of garlic, finely minced

4 Tbsp All-purpose flour (I use Pamela’s GF Flour)

1.75-2 cups Unsweetened Cashew or Almond Milk

4-6 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (I use Parma Zaan Sprinkles by The Vegetarian Express)

1 tsp garlic salt

0.25 cup Vegan Parmesan (I use Daiya Parmesan)

0.5 cup Cashew Ricotta Cheese

1 tsp Alison’s Green Stuff (50:50 mix minced fresh oregano and basil)

Optional Red Pepper Flakes for Kick


1. Add pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook to package instructions. Start sauce when pasta is dropped so pasta is drained when the sauce is reducing.

2. Heat Olive Oil and Garlic on medium heat in a large skillet until garlic is translucent.

3. Reduce heat and add flour, stirring gently.

4. Cook for 1 minute or until flour is melted into oil.

5. Add milk 0.25 cup at a time, whisking briskly to prevent lumps.

6. Add cashew ricotta and stir on the stove for 2 minutes.

7. Transfer skillet contents to a blender.

8. Add nutritional yeast, garlic salt, vegan parmesan to the blender.

9. Blend on high until mixture is uniform and creamy, scraping the sides as needed.

10. Return to skillet and cook on medium heat until bubbling, stirring constantly.

11. Reduce heat to low.

12. Add green stuff, optional red pepper flakes, and taste. Add garlic salt or parmesan as needed.

13. Heat and stir until sauce thickens. If it gets too thick, add more milk. If it stays too thin, add cashew ricotta. Taste and adjust seasonings if more ingredients are added.

14. When pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the sauce skillet and toss to coat.

15. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes and serve hot.


Nightingale said...

An interesting post. The recipe sounds divine. I know very little about the Vegan lifestyle. I'm a carnivore all the way but enjoyed learning more about your shifters. I always wondered what the strawberry shifters were.

Maureen said...

Great post! My twin daughters are vegetarians, but not vegan. It's always great to get new recipe ideas so we're not always eating the same things.

Mary Morgan said...

Oh, yum! Love cashews! I'm not a vegetarian, but we do have many "meatless" meals throughout the week. My son had severe dairy allergies (diagnosed at age 2),along with other food allergies, so we had to be creative in meal planning. I'm impressed with the world-building in your series, Marilyn! :)

Abigail Owen said...

Yumm! Thanks for sharing. :)

And in all my years writing shifters, I never considered the herbivore's human diet. LOVE that you did!

Sadira Stone said...

I've yet to try making my own cashew cream & cheese, but we have a vegan restaurant here in Tacoma, WA that makes the best stuff! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Marilyn Barr said...

Thank you everyone for the vegan love! The biggest challenge to dietary restrictions are craving off-limits foods...just because they are now off-limits. I'm so happy I can give new ideas to those with vegetarian family and friends. Just like Rosie the Werewolf and the cashew cream sauce at her pizzeria, I hope to inspire the spirit of community through food - whether you are an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

Diane Burton said...

When she was in high school, our daughter decided to be a vegetarian. Since her dad is a big time carnivore, her efforts at cooking weren't appreciated by all of us. LOL I think meatless meals are a good change of pace. I'm working at converting Hubs. That sauce sounds delicious. Such an interesting post.

Marilyn Barr said...

I have to admit my spouse loves this sauce over scallops instead of pasta!