In 1990, I was training hard for my first RAGBRAI bike ride, and my small hometown of Primghar, Iowa, was on the route.
On the first day riding out of Sioux Center, I met a young man named Gordon. We started pedaling toward Primghar. Hungry for food, we were eager to eat pork sandwiches served by my mother and father at a church stand.
That RAGBRAI was one of the longest at 495 miles. On Wednesday, we faced a 20-plus mph headwind, making the 86-mile day from Hampton to Oelwein one of the toughest ever. Thursday was no better, with even stronger headwinds followed by heavy rain, which washed out the Cedar Rapids RAGBRAI festivities. But I did not quit, and Gordon and I made a deal to finish the week bicycling to the Mississippi River … together.
Fourteen months later, we got married. Gordon had found his “Iowa farm girl.”
Growing up as a daughter of a hog producer, I ate a lot of pork — but also plenty of vegetables — since Dad had a large garden. I went to college and became a registered dietitian.
Gordon and I raised two children. Our daughter, Alison, first became a pescatarian and then a vegan.
We watched documentaries together (“What the Health,” “Forks over Knives,” “Game Changers”). The books “The China Study” and “How Not to Die” were powerful with convincing research on the link between nutrition and human health.
With my 4-H family as hog producers, I knew the horrors of factory farming. Adding to my concern for our planet and the effect of global warming, becoming vegan was for us a lifestyle that fit with our values — improved health, compassion for animals, and environmental concern for our earthly home.
My husband and I still enjoy being active with bicycling and hiking trips. As vegans, we can pack BBQ tofu sandwiches and curried chickpea salad in a bike pannier or hiking backpack. The date quinoa power bars are great energy boosters and taste better than any commercial vegan energy bar.
If you plan ahead, you can enjoy these recipes for your next bike ride or hike!
Yield: 16 slices (8 sandwiches with 2 slices each)
- ¼ C BBQ sauce
- ¼ C Trader Joe’s sriracha BBQ sauce (or substitute regular BBQ sauce)
- 2 Tbsp. tamari sauce
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. water
- 16 oz. extra-firm regular tofu, pressed
- 1 medium onion, sliced vertically (optional)
- 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional)
1. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Slice tofu block into approximately 16 quarter-inch slices and place in large rectangular pan. Top tofu with few onion and jalapeno slices, if desired.
3. Pour marinade over tofu and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.
5. The BBQ tofu can be used for sandwiches. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, additional BBQ sauce, hummus or other favorite sandwich fixings.
Recipe by: Sharon Doak
Curried Chickpea Salad
Yield: 4-6 servings
- ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
- Juice of small lemon
- 1 Tbsp. curry powder
- ¾ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
- 1 carrot, diced (approx. ½ cup)
- 2 scallions (green onions), sliced (approx. ½ cup)
- ½ cup raisins
1. In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; mix well.
2. Add the chickpeas, diced carrot, scallions and raisins; stir to combine.
3. Transfer to an airtight container and keep chilled until ready to eat.
4. Serve as a salad or sandwich spread.
Recipe by: Aimee Trudeau, Emily Nielson, Mai-Yan Kwan from their cookbook “Dirty Gourmet – Food for Your Outdoor Adventures.”
No-Bake Quinoa Protein Bars
Yield: 12 bars
- ⅔ C pitted dates, packed (Medjool dates are best)
- ⅓ C unsweetened natural plant butter (e.g., peanut, sunflower, almond)
- ⅛ tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 C old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1 C quinoa, cooked and cooled*
- ⅓ C walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
- ¼ C vegan chocolate chips, mini, semi-sweet
1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
2. In a food processor, pulse the dates until finely chopped. Add plant butter, salt and vanilla; process until blended. Add the oats, cooled quinoa and walnuts; pulse until mixture forms a dough. Add chocolate chips; pulse 1 or 2 times to just combine.
3. Press mixture into prepared pan, using a large piece of wax paper or plastic wrap to smooth and spread the mixture flat.
4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Using the foil liner, lift the mixture from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and cut into 12 bars.
5. Individually wrap the bars and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or 1 month in the freezer (thaw at room temperature).
To prepare the quinoa: In a small saucepan, combine ⅓ cup quinoa (rinsed) and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, fluff with a fork, and cool completely.
Recipe by: Camilla — Power Hungry blog and cookbook author — http://powerhungry.com
Sharon and Gordon Doak have been vegan for more than four years (along with their daughter and son-in-law). Sharon retired from UIHC after 39 years and now enjoys vegan cooking and baking, collecting 35+ vegan cookbooks, reading, photography, bicycling, and hiking. After living in Iowa her entire life, Sharon, and Gordon, have relocated to Spokane, Washington, where new outdoor adventures await.
For questions or comments regarding the Vegan Community of Eastern Iowa, email [email protected] or visit www.veganeasterniowa.org. Everyone is welcome to join the VCEI on Facebook and MeetUp.