Sunday, September 19, 2010

Scary Spice

This is my spice cupboard. As you can guess, I have trouble remembering what spices I have on hand for any given recipe. You see, I mostly buy the small Tones spice containers. They're typically just $1.00 and the containers stack really well, but then I have no idea which spices are on the bottom without rummaging through them all.

I found a really interesting recipe on Food Network called Quinoa-All Bran Pilaf with Raisins, and it called for curry powder. I had no idea if I had any, but I highly doubted it because I don't cook Indian food so I really wouldn't have had a need for it in the past. I bought some curry powder without looking through my existing supply, but I was right that I didn't already have it. But now, I have yet another spice adding to the confusion.

I decided that I needed to take stock of my spice collection. The simplest solution I thought would be to make a list of what I have and tape it to the inside of the cupboard door. At least now I know what I have, even if I still have to dig for something.

(BTW - I didn't make the pilaf yet. I had so many other dishes to make or ready in the fridge that I thought something would go to waste if I added yet another dish. I'll make it later in the week once I use up some leftovers.)

(Also, you see correctly - that is Worchestershire sauce in the cupboard. Not for me, but for Husband. He loves the stuff - and so did I before I went veg. I'd like to try some Bragg's Liquid Aminos and see if it's a good substitute.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gone Bananas

I took a few days off work to make this Labor Day weekend a nice, long one - and as usual, when I take a day off, I bake. A few days ago, I ran across a recipe for Easy Apple Pie Burritos at (which is currently my favorite blog). The only problem with making it - I had no apples. I did, however, have three ripe bananas that were begging to be baked somehow, so I improvised. I replaced the apples with my bananas (cut into thick slices), halved the amount of brown sugar (so I only used 1/4 cup), and added some chopped pecans. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written.

I was really worried how they would turn out. After all, I hadn't even tried the recipe as written, much less as an improvisation. I needn't have worried. They are delicious with bananas! The crust is so yummy, too. I bet it would make a great shortbread-style cookie. (Note to self: bake spelt crust cookies.) I ate two of them after they'd cooled a bit.

I ended up with a little extra banana filling, so I poured it into a small ramekin and baked it along with the pies. Also devine, but would probably be over-the-top wonderful with some kind of crumble crust. (Note to self: try banana crisp recipe.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

All Quiet on the Midwestern Front

I see that I haven't posted in a while, and in the meantime, some new folks have become followers of this site. Welcome, and I'm sorry I've been so inactive.

Honestly, I just haven't done much that I considered blogworthy. I've been cooking the same old things. They're still delicious, just not anything I haven't posted about already or that wasn't incredibly basic (brown rice with vinaigrette, anyone?). For example, tonight's dinner was zucchini-potato hashbrowns made with a shredded zucchini (liquid mostly squeezed out) and shredded leftover baked potato. I browned them up in a skillet with a little olive oil, grill seasoning and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. (I'm still trying to find ways to use nutritional yeast.) I also had green beans with Earth Balance on the side. It was a wonderful and filling meal, but very basic and I didn't take a picture.

I've been reading a lot of other blogs lately and frankly, it's intimidating. There are so many well-written, beautifully photographed sites out there that my little blog is pretty rinky-dink by comparison. You'd think that I'd be inspired by all those great sites, but instead I just think that I'm not very creative with recipes and not that great a writer. Sigh.

But enough with this self-pity new recipe I've discovered through my blog surfing has been Green Monster smoothies. Actually, I've only made one, but I was amazed at how delicious it was and how I couldn't taste the greens at all! In a blender, I mixed spinach leaves, a ripe banana, green seedless grapes, flaxseed, almond milk and vanilla extract until super smooth. Even Daughter loved it! This may be my new secret weapon to get some greens into her diet. (Son wasn't interested in it at all. One small victory at a time, I supposed.) I plan to try another Green Monster with kale - a nutritional powerhouse that I just can't stand to eat.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Maiden Voyage of Nutritional Yeast

I've never used nutritional yeast - until today. I've wanted to try it, but I haven't been able to find it in my area. Today, Husband and I drove up to his old college stomping grounds and while we were in the area, we went to a local co-op grocery store that specializes in organic foods. It is also very veg-friendly. I ended up with a jar of gomachio and a small sack of nutritional yeast (from the bulk foods aisle). Success!

Now...what to do with it? I've run across many recipes that call for nutritional yeast but didn't really know where to start. I figured macaroni and "cheese" was a good option, but I didn't really feel like making a pasta. So I found the Macaroni and "Cheese" recipe in Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet and tweaked it a bit - using my favorite brown rice/wild rice mix and adding some veggies. The result - pretty tasty, although I think it needs more nutritional yeast or cayenne pepper or something to give it a little more zip. Also, I didn't have all the ingredients in my pantry that you need for Robertson's recipe, so I improvized. Here is the result...

Wild Rice Casserole
1 pkg. brown and wild rice mix (North Country brand)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen green beans
1/4 cup shredded carrots
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped, frozen onion
2 cups soy milk
1 12 oz. pkg. extra firm tofu, drained
1 tbsp. lemon juice
6 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
salt to taste
1/4 cup cornmeal

In a large saucepan, prepare the rice mix according to package instructions. When the rice mixture is done, take the lid off the saucepan, add the peas, green beans and carrots and put the lid back on to thaw the frozen vegetables. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Put the sauteed onion in a blender with the soy milk, tofu, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture over rice and vegetables and stir well to combine. Pour all into an oiled casserole dish and sprinkle the top with cornmeal. Cover with tin foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Done!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Scone Home

This is really not the time of year to fire up the oven and do some baking - but I can't help myself. I took the day off work and whenever I do that, I usually end up baking in the afternoon. I don't know why...a comfort food thing, I guess. What's not so comfortable now is the temperature in the house. What with the mid-80 degree temps outside and the hot oven inside, I'm serious sweating. But TOTALLY worth it for these Pumpkin Banana Scones.

The recipe is almost entirely Vegan Dad's pumpkin scones recipe. But I had two very ripe bananas I wanted to put to good use somewhere, and I didn't feel like my usual banana muffins. I took the recipe and doubled everything except the pumpkin. That's where I added in my bananas to compensate. Results - fabulous! Thanks for the inspiration, Vegan Dad!

Pumpkin Banana Scones
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 can pumpkin puree
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups almond milk
6 tbsp. canola oil
4 tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined. Drop large spoonfuls onto a cookie baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hola Granola

I love granola, but I'd never attempted to make it myself. Heck, I didn't even realize you could make it yourself - I'd never really stumbled across a recipe. But I found one in Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. I didn't want to make as much as her recipe would, and I didn't have many of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to use her recipe as a basis and wing it. The results are delicious! Next time, I'll leave out the dates - they were just too hard and chewy after baking - but the rest is a keeper! Wonderful eaten dry as a snack, but even better in your breakfast bowl and topped with almond milk.

1 1/4 c. old fashioned oats
2 oz. pkg. English walnut pieces
2 oz. pkg. pecan pieces
1/2 c. golden raisins
3 tsp. flaxmeal
1/4 c. sunflower nuts
12 pitted dates, chopped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. Grape Nuts cereal
1/3 c. canola oil
2 1/2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oats on a large, foil-covered sheet pan and toast in the oven for 7-8 minutes (watch them carefully so they don't burn). Transfer the oats into a large bowl, then toss together with the walnuts, pecans, raisins, flaxmeal, sunflower nuts, dates, cinnamon and Grape Nuts. In a separate smaller bowl, wisk together the oil, syrup and vanilla. Pour the oil mixture over the dry mixture and toss to coat well. Pour all onto the same foil-covered sheet pan, spreading it into a thin layer. Bake for 7 minutes, stir, then bake for another 5 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to all you moms out there! Today, Husband had to work so I'm home with Kids. I got some lovely flowers, cute cards, and a potted tomato plant. I'd mentioned to Husband how I'd like to try my hand at growing tomatoes this year. (I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening and normally just rely on everyone else's overabundant harvest for my fresh tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini. Especially my dad - he grows the BEST tomatoes and potatoes!) But I'm a lazy gardener - which might explain my lack of success. I don't really trust our soil for growing anything but dandelions, so I wanted to put some potting soil in a container on the back deck. But I hadn't gotten around to buying any tomato plants, or a container, or the potting soil, or the cage that you need over the plant. Sigh...too much work for me!

Husband found a pre-potted tomato plant with the cage built onto the pot. How perfect! And even more perfect, because last night we had frost (yikes!) and we were easily able to bring in the tomato for the night.

Later today, I need to call my grandmothers and wish them a happy Mothers' Day. I'm very fortunate that they are around - two beautiful women in their mid-80s, still living alone in their homes and doing quite well, thank you. (Both of my grandfathers died before I was born, so I was unable to get to know them at all.)

My own mother passed away in December 2006 from brain cancer. I miss her more than I can say. She was only 54 years old. I feel her absence the most when I think about how little time Son had with her, and how Daughter didn't really get to know her at all (Daughter was almost a year old when Mom died). Mothers' Day is rather bittersweet for me, but I try to focus on what a great job my mom did in raising Brother and me, and I try to do as good a job with Kids. If I'm half the mother that she was, I'll be a-okay.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Oven-Roasted Mush

I bought some herbes de Provence with absolutely no idea what to do with it. But I'd always wanted to try it. I decided to go simple and oven roast some veggies tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with the herbes de Provence. Great idea, and the flavor was fantastic, but the texture left much to be desired.

The problem was two-fold: first, when you are cooking vegetables all at once, they need to be vegetables that cook at roughly the same rate. Second, when baking vegetables in the oven, you need to spread them out in an even layer - again, so they can cook at the same rate.

The veggies I chose to roast were potatoes, carrots, green peppers, button mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant. Also, I used A LOT of all of them - too many to roast effectively on the one large sheetpan I was using. I baked them at 400 degrees and checked them after 25 minutes. The pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, squash and eggplant were perfect, but the potatoes and carrots were still too hard in the center. The baking continued for another 10 minutes. When I took everything out of the oven, the potatoes and carrots were just right, but of course, the other vegetables were practically paste - especially the eggplant. But hey - it was delicious! And I really liked the herbes de Provence. Usually, I oven roast veggies with Italian seasoning, so it's nice to have another option when I'm looking for something different.

On the side, I served plain brown rice topped with a little Eden Shake.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bean Burgers

No picture with this post, mostly because my recent batch of bean burgers were consumed on two pieces of whole wheat bread spread with Dijon mustard. Not the most photogenic - but darn tasty!

My bean burgers always start with the same three ingredients: chickpeas, dry oatmeal and prepared oatmeal. After that, anything goes! Here's the recipe for my last "not-ready-for-its-closeup" batch:

Olive Tapenade Bean Burgers
1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, with a little bit of the oil
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, prepared and cooled
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, unprepared (dry)
2 tbsp. roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. flaxseed
cornmeal or breadcrumbs, as needed

Combine all the ingredients (except the cornmeal/breadcrumbs) in a food processor and pulse until combined and the chickpeas are still a little chunky. If the mixture is too wet, add just enough of the cornmeal/breadcrumbs to dry it out a little. Put the mixture in a covered bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Form the mixture into six patties of equal size and put them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake the patties for 20-25 minutes or until they set and brown slightly. Serve on whole wheat buns or bread slices and top as desired.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Keen on Quinoa

For lunch leftovers this week, I made the Quinoa and Sweet Potato Salad from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. This is one of my absolute favorite recipes, but I'd forgotten about it because I haven't thought to make it in quite a while. When I was making out my dinner schedule/shopping list Friday night, I was thumbing through Bittman's book and came across this recipe again. It's simple, but incredibly delicious! Cooked quinoa, diced sweet potatoes, red bell pepper in a basic balsamic vinaigrette. His recipe calls for you to boil the sweet potatoes - I roast the dices in the oven for better flavor and texture. I also doubled the red bell pepper because they were so deep red and sweet. Then I added some fresh asparagus, cut into inch-long pieces and roasted along with the sweet potatoes. I ate it warm for dinner last night, but it is best served cold the next day. I can't wait for lunch!

Along side, I sauteed shreds of plain old green cabbage in a little bit of canola oil, then added a bit of melted Earth Balance. One of my favorite side dishes. When I was a kid, my mom would boil cabbage and serve it with butter. She and I were the only ones in our house who liked it - more for us! I've tried boiling it myself like she used to do, but I find I prefer the flavor and texture when the cabbage is sauteed.

(NOTE - I recently edited this post because I accidentally said that I used melted butter on my cabbage. Uh, hello - not accurate and certainly not vegan! I used Earth Balance. My bad.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Leftover Night

I see now that I have three blog followers - shout out to my peeps! I guess this means I should blog more often, huh?

Tonight was "get mildly creative with leftovers" night. I had a small can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in the fridge because I planned to make turkey roll-ups for Kids - half a slice of American cheese and a thin slice of turkey lunchmeat, rolled up in a crescent roll and baked. (I've mentioned that Husband and Kids are omnis, right?) I had two crescent rolls left. I read somewhere that this brand is vegan and nothing on the list of ingredients flew in the face of that statement, so...

I took some leftover baked tofu (baked after marinating in a dijon mustard/lemon juice mixture). I then sprinkled the inside of each crescent roll with some Eden Shake, lay some leftover baked tofu on it, rolled it all up and sprinkled it with more Eden Shake. Served with a side of leftover spaghetti squash with a bit of Earth Balance.

The results: not too bad. The crescent roll was the predominate taste, mostly because the tofu was pretty mildly flavored to start. I'll definitely try this one again, but with a stronger marinade for the tofu. My usual baked tofu marinade is olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices and it has a much more pronounced flavor.

(Like my picture? What can I say - this website is not Vegan attempts to make cutesy food don't typically come off very well.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moroccan-Style Wild Rice

So, I really don't know the first thing about Moroccan food. I've never been to Morocco and never even eaten at a Moroccan restaurant. I call this recipe Moroccan-Style Wild Rice because the flavor reminds me of a Moroccan couscous recipe I've used in the past. That couscous recipe calls for cinnamon and cloves, neither of which I used here (especially because I don't care for cloves). I can't vouch for my measurements - I really just threw this together not expecting much so I didn't pay much attention to measuring. I'm more of a "flinger" when it comes to cooking, anyway. (BTW, the lovely salad pictured next to the wild rice is the Broccoli Salad with Raisins and Sunflower Seeds from this month's issue of Vegetarian Times, pg. 64, if you have it.) That recipe is faboo, too!

Moroccan-Style Wild Rice
1 sm. pkg. brown and wild rice mixture
2 cups vegetable stock (I prefer Kitchen Basics)
1 cup water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cook rice mixture according to package instructions using the vegetable stock and water as the liquid. While rice cooks, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, ginger, turmeric, garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. When rice is done and cooled slightly (but still a little warm), toss it with the vinaigrette, raisins and pecans. Serve chilled.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three-Bean Rice Salad

Long time, no post. Honestly, I haven't had much to blog about. I've been cooking some fabulously delicious vegan food, but they've pretty much been my standards. I also haven't been taking many pictures of my food, even though a lot of it has been very pretty-looking.

I did "invent" a new recipe that is absolutely wonderful, though. I have no idea if this is an original concept, but I threw it together using a Food Network website recipe for three-bean salad...I just added brown rice to bulk it up and help absorb all that delicious dressing. I also cut down on the amounts a bit. This is a delicious and light lunch salad.

Three-Bean Rice Salad
1 cup brown rice
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can green beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. dried minced onions

In a saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add brown rice, cover, reduce heat and cook for 45-50 minutes. While the rice cooks, add kidney beans, chickpeas and green beans in a large bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together and pour over bean mixture. Sprinkle with onions, stir well. When the rice is done and slightly cooled, add it to the bean mixture, toss well to coat. This tastes better after it sits for a day and absorbs all the flavors.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Disaster of a Dish

The first time I try a new recipe, I try to follow it as closely as written as possible. Then, if successful, I like to play with the recipe a bit and see if I can create something new and fabulous...Last night was NOT one of those nights...

I'd read quite some time ago on Vegan Dad's blog how he goes about creating his own "meats," and he noted how it was really all about the spices. Well, I love MorningStar sausage crumbles, so I thought maybe I'd try my hand at creating something with the same flavors, but without the sodium. I found a sausage seasonings recipe online, mixed up the spices in my mini-chopper along with some olive oil, marinated cubed tofu in it, then stirred it all up with cooked brown rice. It was truly delicious!

Last night, I thought I'd try to jazz up some quick-cooking barley with the same spice and olive oil mixture. I threw all the spices into my mini-chopper (along with some red pepper flake, which I didn't have on hand for my first stab at the recipe). Then, I thought about adding something sweet to the mix. Brown sugar? No. Maple syrup? Nah. Molasses!! Yeah, that'll add some good flavor, right? Um...wrong.

First, the mixture had the color and consistency of used motor oil. I stirred it into my hot barley and hoped for the best. It didn't look or smell any more appetizing. Then, I took a bite...Hmmm...interesting. I could definitely taste the fennel seed, and it was nice and spicy from the red pepper flake...but YUCK! I tried a few more bites, but just couldn't finish it. And I threw away the rest of the barley because I knew it wouldn't get better with age.

What a waste...all that food in the trash. Next time, I'll stick with the recipe and maybe add a drizzle of maple syrup onto an individual serving to see if it's any good.

(BTW - Despite my kitchen disaster, it was a nice Valentine's Day. Cute cards from Kids and Husband, and Husband bought a Whitman's sampler of chocolates like he does for me every year. Not vegan, of course, but I ate quite a bit of it, nonetheless - and he was super sweet to get it for me. Of course, then the floodgates were opened and I had a little more chocolate later in the day, some string cheese, and cheese popcorn. I did more than fall off the vegan wagon - I threw myself under the bus!! Oh, well. I've been pretty good for the last 1 1/2 months, so I was probably due for a binge...)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Steakhouse Success

My second big lunch meeting since going vegan, and the challenge was a little daunting...Lone Star Steakhouse. I'd only been there once before, when Husband and I were dating. The food was delicious (this was WAY before I went veg), but the waitress sat down at our table to take our order (always a restaurant turn-off, in my opinion) and the service was slower than slow. So I was looking forward to seeing if I'd have a better experience the second time around and how I would fare.

It was easier than I thought. When we sat down, they had little buckets of peanuts in the shell set out for snacking. Protein - check! For lunch I ordered a dinner salad minus the cheese with balsamic vinaigrette and a plain baked sweet potato. Success! At a steakhouse, even!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out of Commission

Sunday morning, I bent over to pick up a laundry basket. When I tried to stand up with it...I couldn't. I threw out my back. I've never been in so much pain, and I've given birth to two children. I've also never thrown out my back, so I didn't know what had happened. Luckily, Husband was home (he's thrown out his back a few times) and was able to watch the kids for the rest of the day while I lay in the bedroom dreading having to get up and go potty. When I needed to get up, I either pulled myself along the furniture and walls with my upper body at almost 90 degrees to my legs because I couldn't straighten up, or I crawled on my hands and knees.

I called in sick yesterday, because while the pain was much improved, I stilled walked around like Groucho Marx. The doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory. Today, I woke up and could actually stand up straight, so I got ready for work. But as the morning wore on, my back started hurting more, so after debating with myself for about an hour and on Husband's advice, I took another day off. I hated to do it, because I'm going to be really far behind at work, but I think I would've had to leave early if I'd gone. Tomorrow, I plan to go to work and see how long I last, even if I have to move slowly.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trying Something New

At the grocery store today, I picked up a couple parsnips. I've never had them before, but they seemed like a good winter root vegetable to try. Also, everything I've read or heard about them said they taste like carrots, but sweeter. Well, I love carrots, so how bad could they be?

Um...pretty bad. I oven-roasted them along with some sweet potato, but the parsnips weren't sweet. They were actually pretty bitter, although they did, indeed, taste a lot like carrots. Well, I give myself some credit for trying a new vegetable. And maybe if they were prepared in a different way I'd like them. For now, though, I won't be buying anymore any time soon.

I did get a pretty good recipe out of my experiment, though. Here it is, but with the parsnips omitted – the bites I had without the parsnips and with the sweet potatoes were wonderful! (You can see the parsnips in the picture, above. Along with this salad, I had a portobello mushroom cap marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then baked in the oven at the same time as the parsnips and sweet potatoes. It kinda looks like a steak in the picture.)

Sweet Potato Bulgar Salad
1 lg. sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, separated
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup quick-cooking bulgar (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Toss the cubed sweet potato with 2 tbsp. olive oil and the black pepper. Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until soft.

While the sweet potato bakes, put the bulgar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

While the bulgar cooks, make a dressing by wisking together the remaining 1/4 c. olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and garlic powder.

When the sweet potatoes and bulgar are done and slightly cooled, toss them both together, along with the dressing. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Small Victory

Today, my co-workers and I went to a pizza buffet for lunch. This was my first experience dining out since the first of the year when I decided to really focus on eating vegan. I was a little worried about what I might be able to eat.

I consider the lunch a success. I started with a big salad (lettuce, tomato, peas, cucumber and sunflower seeds with light Italian dressing). My second plate was corn and three (very large) potato wedges. That's it. Now, the corn very likely had butter on it (I didn't ask) and I have no idea what was really in the batter/breading on the potatoes...but I didn't have any cheese pizza or cheese breadsticks! That is a major deal for me. I actually, successfully avoided cheese!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hot Soup on a Cold Day

Temperatures are in the single digits here in our little corner of the Midwest - sounds like a good excuse to make some tasty, hot soup! Especially when you can just dump the ingredients in the Crock-Pot and forget about it for eight hours. (By the way, I'm most impressed with my soup picture - you can even see the steam pouring off it! Not bad for our lower-end camera!)

Vegetable Bean Soup
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion (I used Ore Ida frozen diced onion)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized dice
1 medium potato, skin left on, cut into bite-sized dice
1 container sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis, not drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
1 carton vegetable stock

Add all ingredients to large Crock-Pot. Cook on low for eight hours. Enjoy!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kickstarting the New Year

Boy, has it been a while since I've posted! The holidays were pretty busy here, but Santa was very good to Son and Daughter. I didn't do too poorly myself - it was a great year to get gift cards!

Both Husband and my parents-in-law gave me Barnes & Noble cards (they know me so well!) and I was eager to use them. Last weekend, one of the books I bought with the cards was Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. It was a really quick read, and it gave me some excellent motivation to try harder this year to stick with a vegan diet (especially after the holidays - yikes). I highly recommend her book. It's very well written (conversational, entertaining, informative) and not super preachy, but there are certain aspects of it that I don't quite buy. Only flushing after Number Two in order to conserve water? Please... But she does have some great ideas for how to eat out and how to deal with temptation (the two biggest pitfalls I have with fully committing to being vegan - that, and cheese...). I know that I'm not ready - or even willing at this point - to try the Superhero version of her diet, but vegan is alright by me. I also signed up online for PCRM's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. I'm hoping that a daily e-mail with advice and recipe ideas will also help keep me motivated.

I should clarify that, despite the "diet" aspect of Silverstone's book and the weight loss benefits being touted as part of the Vegan Kickstart, I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm very happy with my current weight and think if I lost any more, I'd be in trouble. I got to my current weight by being vegetarian. I'm most interested in pushing myself to vegan status because I think it is so healthy. The more information I read about the health detriments of eating any animal products, not just flesh, makes me realize I can be even healthier than I am today. And who wouldn't want that?

Day 1 of 2010 - a fine start:

Breakfast: veganized banana nut muffin, soy yogurt with flaxmeal, black tea without sweetener
Lunch: black bean chili with brown rice and half an avocado mixed in (delicious!), oven roasted cauliflower and broccoli, whole wheat bread with Earth Balance
Snack: Tazo Wild Sweet Orange herbal tea from Starbucks (another gift card from Husband), handful of roasted almonds
Supper: packaged butternut squash soup mixed with whole wheat penne, sauteed mushrooms and spinach; whole wheat bread with Earth Balance, celery sticks, blood orange