Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dairy-Free Macaroni and Cheese

Everyone has their own version, don't they?  I've tried my fair share.  When I was vegetarian, I used this Tofu Alfredo recipe a few times.  I really like Susan's Easy Macaroni & "Cheeze".  I've read countless other recipes, almost every vegan cookbook has a version and of course, many vegan blogs have them.

This is my dairy-free version of the oh-so-classic macaroni and cheese.  I'm not gonna call it "cheese" or "cheeze" or anything that implies that this isn't real cheese either, because I don't think that the dairy industry gets to hold the word cheese hostage.  At the very least, if you read VegNews, you'll see gourmet nut cheese either featured or mentioned in the past few issues.  Therefore, I suppose this is a nutritional yeast cheese sauce.  Or a pine nut cheese sauce.  Or whatever you want to call it, but I'm still calling it cheese!   

Anyway, I can't say this is completely my own.  But I've doctored it and combined little things from so many different recipes that I can at least post the recipe for it! 

Dairy-Free Macaroni and Cheese

2 oz whole wheat pasta (I used mini penne)
Cheese Sauce:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/2 tsp Bragg's (or soy sauce)
1/4 tsp miso
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp tumeric (you can use less, I just like it)
1 tbsp chickpea flour
a few grinds of fresh pepper

*optional, but included in my nutritional information*
1 cup frozen broccoli
1/8 log of Seitan O' Greatness
2 tbsp whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp curry powder
pinch cayenne
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
2.  Boil water, add pasta, cook until not quite al dente.  
3.  Sautee onions and garlic in a pan coated with cooking spray.
4.  Add onions, garlic, and everything except the pasta, broccoli, and seitan, in a blender.  
5.  Cook broccoli 
6.  Sautee seitan in a pan coated with cooking spray until browned.    
7.  Mix together in a bowl:  Pasta, Cheese Sauce, Broccoli, Seitan.
8.  In a separate bowl, combine panko and all remaining "optional" spices.  
9.  In ramekins or an appropriately sized baking dish, put pasta mixture, then top with panko mixture.  Bake 15-20 minutes.

Serves 2

Nutrition Information:  331.0 Calories;  9.7g Total Fat;  1.0g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  977.4mf Sodium;  42.3g Carbohydrates;  10.2g Fiber;  24.5g Protein  

I like to finish things in the oven.  I like the crusty texture on top, and I like that it gives me time to do all the dishes so that I can eat with a clean kitchen!  Also, I have to tell you that, this is good...its really good.  But I think the best part is actually the broccoli, since it really soaks up all the sauce.  So I highly suggest using it, or even using more of it!

I had more fun in the kitchen today.  All of my food today was revolving around the plan to spend the next week gluten and sugar free.  Breakfast was pancakes!  I can't remember the last time I make pancakes, I was so excited.  I made Susan's Golden Spice Pancakes, omitting the cloves to add ground ginger, and using clementine zest instead of orange, because it is what I have.  I also pressed in some cranberries, and it was really yummy!  The recipe, as Susan has posted it is for 10 normal sized pancakes.  I didn't want to have batter left over (as I won't be eating it tomorrow), so I cut it by 1/5, to make 2 normal sized, or 4 small pancakes, as pictured.   

Cranberry Spice Pancakes

Nutrition Information for 2 small pancakes (with cranberries):  114.0 Calories;  0.5g Total Fat;  0.1g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  277.0mf Sodium;  25.5g Carbohydrates;  3.9g Fiber;  3.9g Protein.

I topped this off with some maple syrup, some tofu scramble with green peppers and onions, and the zesting clementine!

Tomorrow is that start of a new workout cycle for me and I am very excited!  I will post it tomorrow, I'm not quite finished putting it together yet.  

Today's Cooking Song of the Day:  Ghost in Pencil - Sad Zombie      

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Happy Thanksgiving

In my personal opinion, being healthy is on the forefront of being happy.  On days like Thanksgiving it's easy to let fitness fall to the wayside.  It's easy for the same to happen when it comes to eating well.  On these days, its inevitable that one has got to give, and for me, it was the healthy food.   To keep health at least half in the picture, I dragged my family out of bed for a 5K this morning.  Some of us walked, some of us ran, all of us were chilly, but it was such a great way to start the day, especially this"special" day.  

Brother - Me - Dad - Sister In Law - Brother

There are always lots of pets at this race, mostly dogs.  But as far as I am concerned, this little guy was the star!  His name is Lucky. cute is he???  

He even has his own race number!

Now, on to the food!  The Thanksgiving "feast" was fine.  My grandmother was really good about not putting butter on the TONS of vegetables that she always makes.  Seriously, tons of vegetables.  I also brought some seitan.  But really...any day like this, for me, is all about the dessert.  

*Disclaimer* Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday (if you didn't realize, it is actually the greatest holiday and is March 30 if you decide to celebrate it!) and Easter (I love Easter) are big healthy day exceptions for me!  

Enough babble.  Without further ado I present to you my very first vegan cheesecake!  



Heavenly Vegan Cheesecake

Making this, was beyond simple. 
The recipe we used for the filling is Here
The recipe we used for the crust is Here
Seriously, it does not get easier than this.  I only made a few modifications.  
First, we added 1 tsp of cream of tartar to the mix.  
Second, we did add the extra tbsp of flour that was suggested in the comments. 
Third, we actually cooked it twice as long (50 minutes).
Fourth, I added lemon zest to the crust. 

Serves 12.

Nutrition Information:  237.0 Calories;  11.8g Fat;  3.8g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  451.3mg Sodium;  30.8g Carbohydrates;  1.7g Fiber;  2.2g Protein
Oh, how did it taste?  Awesome!  It really did taste like cheesecake, and the lemon made the taste very bright.  I actually thought it might be a little too sweet, but that didn't stop me from having multiple helpings.  Oh, and all the meat, dairy, and egg eaters who I was having dinner with liked it as well.  All in all, if you are looking for a plain cheesecake recipe, this is a good choice.  However, not so good that I won't be trying other recipes! (I adore cheesecake)

Today's Baking Song:  Is This It - The Strokes

I hope that everyone else had a great Thanksgiving!       

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Thanksgiving for One

I don't know what I will be having for dinner tomorrow.  So I figured, I'd make something that at least looked Thanksgiving-y today (i.e. Thanksgiving colors).  For lunch today I made myself something special, and I did not let myself down.    

On my menu:  Maple Glazed Tempeh, Sauteed Kale, Smashed Squash

1/2 block tempeh (114g)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp lite maple syrup
olive oil cooking spray
15 raspberries (approzimately!)

1.  Steam tempeh until tender
2.  Spray pan with cooking spray, cook tempeh until slightly browned on one side.  
3.  Add soy sauce and water to pan, turning tempeh occasionally, until browned on all sides.  
4.  Lower heat, add maple syrup  
5.  Gently toss with raspberries

Nutrition Information:  280.0 Calories;  12.3g Total Fat;  2.5g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  690.3mg Sodium;  24.7g Carbohydrates;  0.5g Fiber;  22.1g Protein

Sauteed Kale (this actually makes two servings)
1 big bunch of kale 
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
crushed red pepper
salt & pepper
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
olive oil cooking spray

1.  Boil kale in a pot of salted water until tender
2.  In a separate pan, coat with cooking spray and cook onion until brown.  Add garlic and pepper.  
3.  Strain water from kale and add to garlic and onion, cooking until warmed through.  
4.  Remove from heat and toss with vinegar.  

Nutrition Information:  80.3 Calories;  1.2g Total Fat;  0.2g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  60.5mg Sodium;  16.4g Carbohydrates;  5.5g Fiber;  5.2g Protein

Smashed Squash
1 cup of 1 inch pieces of squash (I used a cushaw)
2 tsp agave nectar
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Steam Squash (I steamed it along with the tempeh).
2.  Remove skin from cooked squash
3.  Smash with a fork.  Add agave nectar, salt & pepper, and smash until well combined.  

Nutrition Information:  79.0 Calories;  0.2g Total Fat;  0.1g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  563.5mg Sodium;  20.0g Carbohydrates;  2.7g Fiber;  1.8g Protein

And, that's it!  This was so satisfying, I was quite pleased.  

Family dinner was also on my shoulders tonight.  I was also in charge of dinner tonight.  I had extra people to cook for (6 instead of 4).  We had, soba noodles with tofu and veggies.    

Sesame Soba Noodles, Golden Tofu, and Asian Veggies

Is Asian veggies and overstatement?  Maybe.  There was baby bok choy though!  

Loosely, it went something like this...

28oz Extra Firm Tofu
6 bundles Soba Noodles (2 packaged, for me)
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
4tbsp sesame oil
1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tsp Bragg's Aminos (or soy sauce)
2 red peppers, sliced thin
4 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 baby bok choy, white part sliced thin, green leafy parts roughly chopped
1/4 cup vegetable broth

1.  Start to boil a large pot of water.
2. Pat tofu dry.  Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat largest pan over medium high heat, and put tod in pan.  Let golden crust form, then flip.  Allow crust to form on opposite side, then cook until heated through.  Put tofu in covered dish 
3.  Heat 2 tbsp sesame oil in the same large pan.  Add all vegetables besides bok choy tops, and coat vegetables with oil.  
4.  Add broth to the pan, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  
5.  Cook soba noodles 3-5 minutes.  
6.  Toss soba noodles with the remaining 2 tbsp sesame oil, rice vinegar, and Bragg's
7.  Garnish with baby bok choy leaves.  My mom liked it with the tofu, I liked it with the noodles.     

Serves 6.

Nutrition Information:  335.5 Calories;  16.0g Total Fat;  2.2g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  247.8mg Sodium;  30.0g Cholesterol;  3.6g Fiber;  19.9g Protein

I know I promised cheesecake, but my sister in law isn't here yet, and we won't be able to eat it tonight I will post about it tomorrow!    

Today's Cooking Song:  Street Lights - Kanye West (new CD came out yesterday!) 

Lastly, as a type this, I watch Top Chef.  I have to mention, because I am thrilled, that the Bassist from the Foo Fighter's favorite dish out of both teams was the vegan cornbread stuffing.  How awesome!  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My New Vegan Coat

I didn't cook a thing today.  Kind of sad.  But really, I am trying to get rid of my leftovers.  I had the rest of my soup and muffins for lunch, and the last of the ABC Stuffing for dinner.  

However, I did have a much better day.  I mentioned in a comment on my previous post that the soup was way better today, tasted much more garlicky.  So maybe it is worth trying to perfect it!    

All around good little things went on today, but by far the best thing was that my coat arrived.  I went coat shopping last week and found the perfect coat, I was in love.  So in love that I was minutes away from buying a $300 coat that was stuffed with DOWN!  I just don't know why I didn't realize that all those warm puffy coats are made from tortured geese's feathers.  What the heck?  They make fake down pillows, why no fake down coats?  

So I went home and read up on down.  Not that I was trying to convince myself to buy it AT ALL.  Seriously, not my intention.  I just realized that, while I know what down is, I was completely uninformed about it.  In case anyone else finds themselves in the same predicament, this quote pretty much summed it up enough for me:
How Are Duck and Goose Down Obtained?
When these birds are slaughtered, they are first stunned electrically. After their throats are cut (by hand, for geese) and the birds are bled, they are scalded to facilitate removal of large feathers. To remove fine pinfeathers, the birds are dipped in paraffin wax. Down and feathers, a very valuable by-product of the duck and goose industry, are sorted at another facility.
You can find that quote in this article.

Now informed, I set off on my online search.  There are really no fake down coats, at least as far as I can tell.   So I ended up at The Hempest.  Then I ended up buying The Hemp Hoodlamb Droptop.  Oh heck, I'll post the picture of it.  

Seriously, I am in love.  First of all, they said it would take 2-5 days, and it only took 2, which was awesome.  Second, it is warm, snuggly, "furry", has all kinds of cool little "secret" pockets, roomy "fur" lined front pockets, a detachable collar, little loops in the neck to hook up your headphones, and a "music pocket", which is just a perfectly iPod shaped pocket.  It also has little designs in the "fur" and has tighter cuffs inside the sleeves so that your arms stay warm.  Oh, and its warm.  Nice and furry warm and comfortable.  And I know I keep saying it's "furry", but it really doesn't look overwhelmingly like fur.  You can tell its fake (which is good, to me), but it is still seriously warm.   

That's all I've got for today.  Except I did also discover Laura's Wholesome Junk Food at my natural foods store, which made me jump up and down out of excitement.  If you remember, I bought them a few weeks ago when I was visiting my in-laws, and they are SO delicious.  I also got some Silk Nog, and some Soy Whip.  Holy moly is this stuff good (I know because I just squirted some straight into my mouth).      

And now...I am going to bed to snuggle with my cat (Zoe, see right!).

I hope everyone is all ready for Thanksgiving!  Tomorrow is "cheesecake" day.  My sister-in-law will be joining me to make this one, it'll be my first vegan "cheesecake"!  

Monday, November 24, 2008

Disappointing Day

Not to be a gloomy gus, but today was LAME in the life of me.  I did get to the gym though, so at least it involved some sort of productivity.  

I am trying to use up what I've got around the house this week.  For breakfast today I had some leftover ABC stuffing.  For lunch, I wanted to use some tofu that was on its last legs and a poblano pepper.  So, I went the tofu scramble route.  I guess it is sort of clementine season?  I dunno, but there is a big box in my fridge, so I added one of them along with some salsa and onions.  That and some quinoa, good to go.  

Poblano Tofu Scrmble

Nutrition Information:  344.1 Calories;  6.7g Fat;  0.4g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  728.3mg Sodium;  54.8g Carbohydrates;  16.6g Fiber;  16.8g Protein

Now, I would like to thank all the blog and cookbooks authors that give me great soup recipes, because this is something I have yet to perfect.  It didn't taste bad, it just wasn't as exciting as I had hoped.  Partially because my mom also needed the garlic, so I ended up with half as much as I wanted.  It was roasted cushaw squash, roasted garlic, white beans, chickpeas, and spinach.  Oh, and the pictures were pretty crappy too!  I don't know why, my pictures have been coming out bad lately, I'm usually a decent photographer.   

Nutrition Information:  211.2 Calories;  1.1g Fat;  0.1g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  1,193mg Sodium;  42.9g Carbohydrates;  7.1g Fiber;  9.3g Protein

These muffins though, were delicious!  They are from the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of VegNews, on page 69.  Their recipe is for garlic basil muffins.  I just subbed the basil with rosemary.  They are really good (I had two)!   

Nutrition Information:  126.6 Calories;  6.8g Fat;  0.9g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  221.5mg Sodium;  14.5g Carbohydrates;  2.0g Fiber;  3.1g Protein

I also got my student teaching assignment and...I think I need to start looking for apartments or something, it is an hour away!!!  That's pretty ridiculous, I am NOT happy.  

Friday, November 21, 2008

Comfort Food

I had already planned what I was going to have for dinner today, but I hadn't planned on having a crappy day and it being so comforting.  Actually, it wasn't that bad, I was just stuck in traffic.  It just so happened that I made dinner right after that.  

Anyway, I had Susan's Eggplant "Parmesan" in mind for the past few weeks, but was putting off making it because it isn't eggplant season...I couldn't wait anymore.  

It was soooooo good.  So good.  Yum.  I could tell my mom was kind of scared of it too, but she really liked it.  My dad just came home to eat his leftovers and deemed it "ummy ummy ummy dinner"  (yes, three ummies exactly).  I was kind of scared making it...the "cheese sauce" was so thin, and there was so much, I thought I did something wrong and it would be a soupy mess.  Not so.  Delicious!  I used some ground raw cashews instead of soy "parmesan".    

The nutrition information I calculated was practically the same as Susan's, so if you are interested, you can check it out on FatFree Vegan. 

I'm going away again this weekend, to see a friend of mine in Albany, and I wanted to bring something.  Last time I brought wine, I figured this time I would bring cookies.  I set off trying to find a recipe I thought would make everyone happy, unless someone doesn't like chocolate.  I should add that I know these girls from online, so I don't know them super well.  They could very well not like chocolate.  In which case I will have many cookies.  Anyway, I went through alllll my cookbooks, and nothing really struck me.  I am not a good enough baker to make up my own.  

I ended up making these Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Post Punk Kitchen.  I swapped half the chips for dried cherries, used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour, and used 1/2 cup less sugar.  I should also add that after sifting all the dry ingredients I realized I didn't have enough canola oil, so I ran out to get some.  

Nothing I did could produce a picture that would do them any justice, but I swear they are so so so good.    
I'm scared to find out the calorie count (I calculate after for cookies, or I won't make them, hehe).  Here, not nearly as bad as I thought it would be!

Nutrition Information:  127.3 Calories;  6.1g Fat;  1.0g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  68.7mg Sodium;  18.2g Carbohydrates;  1.6g Fiber;  1.7g Protein

Wow, those were so good, and those calories (for a cookie) are so reasonable, I would actually make them again.  Except I might order some white chocolate chips, that'd make them even prettier.  

BTW, my dad gave dinner another "ummy".  

Today's CSotD made an awesome Genius playlist, I saved it, totally awesome:  Time Bomb - The Format

I'll be back on Monday!  

Thursday, November 20, 2008

ABC Stuffing

I was trying to come up titles and it was super long...Apple Barley Stuffing, Cranberry Barley Stuffing, Apple Curry Seitan, Apple Curry Barley Seitan Stuffing.  All the words started with A, B, C, S.  Hehe.  Hence the ABCs.  

So Hannah from
BitterSweet gave a challenge a few days ago for barley stuffing.  I was too late posting it...that's what happen when you do everything at the last minute!  Anyway, I really like seitan and had been wanting to try it in a stuffing, so this was as good a reason as any to make it.  I'm not totally in love with the original Seitan O' Greatness recipe (although I love it baked, the texture and everything is great).  I made some substitutions, curry powder and sage (equal amounts) instead of paprika and allspice, apple butter instead of tomato paste, and a lot less pepper.  I also used some liquid smoke (only about 1 tsp) instead of the worcestershire, and added an extra tbsp of water.  

Apple Curry Seitan

ABC (Apple Barley Cranberry) Stuffing

The recipes goes something like this:

1 cup barley

2 tsp veggie bouillon (I use organic better than bouillon)

3 cups water

1/2 recipe Seitan O' Greatness (however you like it)

1 apple, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 stalks celery hearts, chopped

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup sliced almonds  

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp dried parsley

salt and pepper to taste

(you may want to add more spices, I just kind of added until it was good).  

The directions are obviously pretty simple.  

1.  Cook the barley according to directions (btw, my barley says it takes 1 1/4 hours, and it never takes more than 45 minutes). 

2.  Soak cranberries in a bowl of water (not necessary, but I do it to wash off some of that sugar.)

3.  Preheat oven to 350.  

4.  In a large pan brown the onions and seitan.  

5.  Add apples, celery, and spices to pan until combined.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

6.  Throw everything into a big bowl, add olive oil and almonds, toss until well combined and looks pretty.  

7.  Add stuffing to a large baking dish, bake for 15 minutes, until warm and a little crispy on top. *I like my stuffing baked, you can definitely skip this step.    

I calculated the nutrition facts based on 6 servings.  But those cute little ramekins in the picture?  One serving fills two of them.  So you may want to consider it 12 which case you would just cut everything in half!

Nutrition Information:  342.1 Calories;  10.8g Fat;  1.1g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  614.5mg Sodium;  46.0g Carbohydrates;  10.8g Fiber;  19.3g Protein

I have more pictures today!  
I've been having a really heavy breakfast the past few days, Muesli (from my [me]&Goji post, with blueberries with the HiLo cereal from my Shopping Trip on Monday.  So, I've been feeling pretty full by lunchtime and have been having salads.  Organic raspberries were on sale today so I made a big spinach salad. 

Raspberries, spinach, pepitas, and....well I don't know if you want to know what that is, haha.  It is actually the Tofu Whipped Topping from Joy of Vegan Baking.  Yeah, I know it sounds gross, but I swear it tasted good.  

Lastly, I don't know if I have mentioned, but I currently live with 5 cats.  Zoe, my cat, is to the right, but she has a bunch of compatriots in my parents' house.  Yesterday I took the cutest pictures of Zany, my brother's cat.  We found him abandoned outside of a hotel in Zainesville, OH.  We drove him all the way back to NY with us, and he is incredibly sweet. 

My parents are having the house painted, one of the places being the hall closet, so he curled himself up under some snow pants had been piled up!

I can't believe Thanksgiving is in a week!  This month has been flying by for me.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sparkly Snow, Chewy Cookies

I guess winter has arrived!  I can't remember the last time it snowed before Thanksgiving.  This is especially crazy considering I spent a year living in Hawaii with no snow at all.  But nevertheless, I woke up this morning to this:

If you look close, there is a bird on the feeder.

And I decided I needed to instate a new tradition:  First day of snow cookies.  

VeggieGirl blogged about the Sparkling Ginger Cookies from Vegan With a Vengeance, and upon seeing them I just HAD to make them.  I didn't have pretty sugar, so they aren't quite as sparkly...but they were still just as tasty!   

Delish!  I found that mug in the back of the cupboard, I apparently made it in 8th grade.

And yes, I even calculate the nutritional information for cookies:

Nutritional Information:  113.5 Calories;  4.6g Total Fat;  0.4g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  75.4,g Sodium;  17.8g Carbohydrates;  1.3g Fiber;  1.4g Protein

Today's CSotD is:  Maybe I'm Amazed - Paul McCartney

I have to cut this a little short because I am in class right now!  I know, bad bad!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Goods!

Who doesn't love a new food store?  My mother in law left me directions to two in their area this morning, so after I was (sort of) done with my paper, I headed over before I made the long drive home.  

First stop, David's Natural Market.  Much bigger that the natural food store I normally go to, near school, but mine has a bigger refrigerated/frozen section.  I was VERY excited to find some new high protein/low sugar cereal.  I also got some organic Mori-Nu, which was on sale (score!), some more Primal Strips, and some deliiiiicious little brownie bites (see picture below).  They are beyond awesome, I can't even tell you.  

yum yum yum yum yum
120 calories, 2 g protein 

90 calories and 12g of protein!!  

Next stop, Ann's House of Nuts, a bulk nut outlet.  I got two bags of raw cashews for about $3 apiece, and three bags of soynuts which were $1 apiece!  I also threw in a little container of dried tomatoes at the checkout (have to love a place where tomatoes are your impulse buy).  


The best stuffed turkey I've seen 
(although he didn't want to look at the camera).

I love places like this, it totally made my day!  Hopefully I'll have something to cook tomorrow.  
No cooking song today, since I didn't cook.  In fact, for all the driving I did, I listened to very little music.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I am still addicted to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's podcast, Vegetarian Food For Thought.  If you don't listen to it, you should!  It is really fantastic, her words are really moving, and she is such a calm voice, it is so nice to listen to her.  Anyway, I still have a year left to catch up on, but I am a little podcast-ed out right now.  Cooking song to return tomorrow!  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend Away

I don't have any food posts today.  So sad :(  I've been away this weekend, visiting various people in the Baltimore/D.C. area.  I went to undergrad in Baltimore, so a lot of my friends from school are still down here, and my husband grew up in this area, so my in-laws are here.  
This is the first time I've really spent a significant amount of time away from home since going all-out vegan, and it was interesting.  

First stop was my in-laws'.  It was late by the time I got there.  My 4 hour trip took 6 because the Garden State Parkway was ridiculously backed up...the half hour I usually spend on it took two full hours.  Luckily, I had plenty of food packed.  First, I did bring a pre-packaged tofu sandwich from my local natural food store, Mrs. Green's.  I know, not the perfect solution, but I was far too busy to be making something ahead of time.  Plus, it is delicious :)  I don't have the exact nutrition info because the packaging is gone, but my favorite one is around 350 calories with 25g of protein.  I also had some soy chips later on, with some cut up bell pepper.  

Saturday I went into D.C. to visit my college roommate.  I had the Spicy Thai variety of Primal Strips on the Metro, which is my favorite.  We went to The Diner for lunch, which was good, although very un-vegan.  I had the veggie sub without the cheese, and the bread was really squishy and good.  Also came with a side salad.  We spent the rest of the day hanging around watching TV, went out to The Reef for dinner and drinks, also very un-vegan, but plenty of salads.  Its bad, but I think I end up eating more veggies when I am away from home, although the protein intake definitely suffers.  Ended the night at the Black Squirrel.  Apparently absinthe is legal now?  They had it there, it was strange (didn't try it, just strange that other people were).  One of our Organic Chemistry professors in undergrad had us try it, was gross.  But then, I guess people drink a lot of things that I think are gross.  I had two different really good red wines at The Reef, that is what I like.  

Today, Sunday, we just chilled some more, and then I went our for lunch with my cousin, who was on her way up to Baltimore to visit her boyfriend.  We stopped at Thai at Silver Spring.  I love Thai food.  There are very few "ethnic" restaurants where I live, so whenever I go into a city, I try and get some Thai.  

I really have a hard time staying with other people, because most people eat three meals, which is not at all how I eat.  I usually eat between five and seven times a day.  I am back at my in-laws' now and just snuck upstairs for another Primal Strip (mesquite lime this time, those are the only two I like).  My mother in law is in the process of making dinner.  My sister in law (who is at college), has a suspected gluten intolerance, so my mother in law is experimenting with gluten-free ingredients, and I am pretty sure she is also trying to make dinner vegan so....that's pretty nice :)  

So, I know this post was kind of boring, but I didn't want to go for too long without posting.  I will be home tomorrow, but have a huge paper due Tuesday, and don't get home from class until almost 11 on Tuesday, so, sadly, I don't think my blog will get any more food until Wednesday.  Better be something good!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Welcome Wheat Berry!

I think I mentioned this a few days ago, but I found a little natural food store near me, I had a coupon, and I happened upon some wheatberries!  I was so excited, I had been wanting to try them for them for awhile. 

If you've never tried them, I suggest picking them up if you see them when you're out and about.  They're really really good!  They turn into these plump little pillows inside a slightly chewy shell.  My family really liked this whole dish.  My mom was amazed that I was presenting them with yet another foreign grain (quinoa was introduced with hesitation), but her and my brother both really liked it.  

The recipe, is simple.  However, I also completely stole it from Nava Atlas' Vegan Express, so I cannot share.  Her recipe is for the Broccoli Salad, and I combined it with the wheat berry.    

Wheat Berry and Broccoli Salad with Pine Nuts, Cranberries, and Yellow Bell Peppers

If you happen to have her book (which I continue to love, no matter how many books I buy), the recipe is on p. 182.  In addition to the cranberries, pine nuts, peppers, and broccoli, there is also a really nice sesame ginger dressing that my ginger-phobe family loved...but then I also just told them it was sesame dressing and they were none the wiser.  Oh, I added, tofu, totally forgot.  So altogether:

1 recipe Broccoli Salad with Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries
1 cup wheat berry
1/2 block tofu (I used extra firm, but I almost always use extra firm)
S&P to taste 

Makes 5 servings

Nutrition Information:  336.1 Calories;  13.4g Total Fat;  1.2g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  125.9mg Sodium;  46.7g Carbohydrates;  9.1g Fiber;  11.8g Protein. 

I cooked the wheat berry on the stovetop, nothing special.  It took about 1 h 45min...don't let that deter you!!  Supposedly it doesn't take as long if you soak them first (I am not organized enough to plan this ahead), or if you use a pressure cooker (which I do not own).  The tofu I just sprinkled with salt and pepper and sauteed in a pan...I do this a lot, its simple, its easy, my family likes it.  

In fact, my brother wanted everyone to see just how much he liked it

Today's Cooking Song of the Day:  Untitled - Question and Answer

*Never heard of them?  It's my brother's band.  No no, keep reading!  They completed their first studio recording this past weekend, and the song is up on their myspace:  Question and Answer.  It should play when you open the page.  Its very catchy, and is probably one of my favorites of their songs so far.    

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jeweled Fall Split Pea Soup

I went shopping with the intention of making lentil soup and ended up with yellow split peas! I've never really used them, and decided it would be fun to make some split pea soup instead.  And, who doesn't love a good pomegranate?  I couldn't resist, so pretty!  I realize the spices on top of the garam masala seem redundant, and you could really just use more garam masala if you wanted.  It was great the next day as a cold dinner during class also.  I made it really thick, but you could probably use more water, or blend some of it to make it thinner and soupy-er. 
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup yellow split peas
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
*salt & pepper to taste
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 apple, chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

1. Cook the onions, carrots, garlic, ginger, and celery in oil, in a large soup pot, until slightly soft, then add spices, saute for another minute. 
2.  Add 6 cups of water, bring to boil, then lower heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.    
3.  While soup is boiling, in a separate pan, cook the red pepper and half the apple until slightly soft, but still crunchy.  
4.  About 5 minutes before cooking is finished, add the sauteed apple and pepper.  
5.  Serve, garnished with the remaining apple and pomegranate seeds.  

Makes 2 Full Servings, or 4 Small Servings

Nutrition Information (for 2 servings): 229.0 Calories;  1.0g Total Fat;  0.2g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  333.8mg Sodium;  46.8g Carbohydrates;  15.2g Fiber;  11.6g Protein. 
Today's CSotD:  O Valencia - The Decemberists  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chickpea Potato Curry

To be honest, I did not want to cook today.  I found myself seconds away from having leftover pumpkin rice pudding for dinner, but I KNEW I was really hungry, and I had a couple of crappy days because I wasn't home, so I really wanted some veggies.  All veggies.  Yum veggies.  Considering I eat a vegan diet and everyone assumes that means you only eat vegetables, I really don't eat enough.  

I was planning on making wheat berries, but they take 2 HOURS??  Sheesh.  I was too hungry for that, although I will try them soon because I was so excited to find them last week.  Instead I opted to make a curry...of sorts.  I'm not really sure exactly what qualifies something as a "curry", but I used curry powder, so to me = curry.  

1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/4 tbsp lite soy sauce
3/4 tbsp water
1/2 cup chickpeas
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 small yukon potato, cooked and diced
1 tbsp coconut milk powder*
2 tbsp water
2 tsp agave nectar

First, I cooked the onion and pepper in the soy sauce and water.  Then added the chickpeas, spices, adding little extra water if the pan is very dry.  Mix together coconut milk powder and the 2 tbsp water, then add the mixture with the potato, and mix until combined.  Finish with squeezing on 2 tsp of agave nectar.    
*I assume regular coconut milk would work also, but I saw this at the store last week and wanted to try it. 

Nutrition Information:  372 Calories;  6g Fat; 4g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  522mg Sodium;  72g Carbohydrates;  11g Fiber;  11g Protein.  

This was better than I expected to be.  Instead of putting it on top of some sort of grain, I had it with asparagus and broccoli.  Just the sort of thing I needed to end my weekend/start my week.  

Today's CSotD:  I Feel So - Boxcar Racer

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Best Protein Shake

Tonight I have class, then I am going to my friend's house for the night, and spending the day tomorrow observing her at her school.  This means a lot of food packing :), which I sort of like.  It does mean I end up eating more protein bars than usual, but such is life.  But I know I won't be cooking anything today, so I thought I'd write about my favorite macronutrient..protein!    

I'm sure everyone who eats any sort of vegan diet has been asked how they get enough protein.  Now, I spend a lot of time of forums; fitness forums, vegan forums, vegan fitness forums, diet forums, etc (also a moderator on a military girlfriend's forum, but that's a story for another day), and there is always this "debate" about protein.  How much do we need?  What kind is the best?  Is there such a thing as too much?  Can you really get enough protein to build muscle on a vegan diet?  Is vegetable protein inferior to animal protein?  

Almost all of these questions are debatable.  But I do know that it's possible to get plenty of protein on a vegan diet.  Some of my favorite whole foods sources are seitan, seeds (pepitas in particular), tofu, beans, soynuts, nut butters, whole grains, and tempeh.  But personally, I'm also a big fan of the protein shake.  I wouldn't suggest it if you don't work out, lifting or otherwise, since we all know that whole foods are way better for us, and if you are only eating 1200 calories a day, it would be hard to get all the nutrients and vitamins you need if one of your meals is a protein shake.  But I am burning a lot of calories, eating a lot of calories, trying to increase my body's muscle, and a protein shake is easy, fast, and completely convenient when I come home wiped from the gym.  My favorite protein powder is a custom True Protein mix of 50% gemma (pea), and 50% rice protein.  I avoid the soy protein isolate because I figure I get enough other soy in my diet.  

My go to post-workout shake is a scoop mixed with OJ.  I'm not going to bother with a picture because it doesn't look pretty and it isn't the most delicious thing, but it is fast protein and fast carbohydrates.  However, on my non-workout days, I still like to have a protein shake, and it is delicious.

Chocolate Banana Protein Shake

1/2 banana
1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 scoop protein powder


I know, this is ridiculously easy and it sounds silly, but most vegan proteins get a bad rap for being gross and chalky (because...most of them are), but this masks the chalkiness and is yummy chocolate deliciousness.  

So, if I'm not home, like I know I won't be tonight, I do resort to protein bars.  One of my favorites is the Odwalla Super Protein bar.

As far as the calorie to protein content can't compare to many of the non-vegan bars out there.  But...they're non-vegan, so who cares?  I don't know if you can see, but I think this one is pretty good, 230 calories, 16g protein.  The protein is soy, the sweeteners are grape juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, and date puree.  I know that Clif Bars and Larabars, and some Luna Bars are vegan, but Clif Bars are more energy bars, the calorie to protein ratio isn't high enough for me, Larabars are essentially cookies in a bar shape, and Luna Bars aren't enough calories for me to have as a meal.  The calorie count of this bar allows for some fruit or veg to be added to the meal too, which I thoroughly enjoy.

For anyone who is curious, I average 100g of protein a day right now.  I'm also eating between 1700 and 2000 calories.  

So, that is how I feel about protein.  It's important, and it is NOT hard to get enough of it.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's Brown and Gold and Yummy All Over?

If you've figured it out already good for you!  I think it is pretty easy to see that the gold is curry powder.  And the messiness of the brown is explained by it being grated chocolate.  So, what is brown and gold and curry and chocolate all over?  

The Savory Chocolate Seitan Pie from the new VegNews website is!  This was so delicious.  I used a half recipe of Seitan O' Greatness, and it came out like...yum.  The only modifications I made to the original recipe was that I didn't use any oil or margarine, and instead sauteed the seitan, onions, and carrots in cooking spray.  This honestly isn't an effort to cut back on fat, I welcome healthy fat in my diet, but in a heavier dish like this, it was just an effort to cut calories...and sometimes fat is the easiest place to cut calories.    

Nutrition Information:  404.8 Calories;  8.6g Fat;  3.0g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  703.1mg Sodium;  62.8g Carbohydrates;  10.0g Fiber;  27.2g Protein.

I did indeed cut this into four servings, and it was definitely a filling portion.  The chocolate was, of course, unsweetened, but it gave it a great rich flavor, and the curry gave it a nice subtle kick.  Very bold, very different, very good!  I have to admit I was a little nervous when I tasted it before putting it in the oven, but once everything was all cooked together...yum.  Have I said yum enough?  To top it all off, it's high in protein and fiber!  

Today was a very food-centric day for me.  Normally I go to the gym on my days off of school, but because of my eye bothering me on Monday, my schedule is off this week, which leaves me being extra busy on days that I have school and nothing to do on my days off.  So I went to a new grocery store, which was okay.  One of the guys stocking the shelves told me I should get laser eye surgery because my eyes were too pretty to be hiding behind glasses.  He told me they were...very brown.  That doesn't really sound like much of a compliment, does it?  Anyway, after that I went to a little natural foods store that my mom cut a 10% off coupon out of the paper for me.  It was really into tea and herbs.  I did find wheat berry though!  I had been wanting to try it for awhile.  They also had a lot of interesting homeopathic stuff and essential oils, but I wasn't in the market for it at the moment.  The best about this store though, was that it was in an area that I rarely go to.  In fact, I don't think I've been to this particular strip mall since I have been back at home (which has been over a year now).  Anyway, what used to be a Ground Round restaurant is now an Indian place!  So exciting!  We really don't have any ethnic food near me besides bad Mexican, so this totally made my day.  Now I need to talk someone into going with me.    

Anyway, today was also, admittedly, not a very creative day.  Everything I made was 100% completely borrowed.  I didn't even really modify anything.  Ah well, right?  At least everything was this Pumpkin Rice Pudding from Vegan Mouse.  I left out the raisins, and I used brown rice, but it was still really good.  I highly suggest it.  

Nutrition Information:  251.3 Calories;  2.5g Fat;  0.6g Saturated Fat; 0.0mg Cholesterol;  16.5g Sodium;  52.6g Carbohydrates;  4.4g Fiber;  5.8g Protein.  

Today's Cooking Song of the Day:  Brainwascht - Ben Folds

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

[me] & goji

I would like to thank Shelby at La Belle Vegan for mentioning the [me] & goji website a few days ago.  The website is a "mix your own cereal" site.  Its pretty cool, you get to choose a cereal base, grain mix ins, fruit mix ins, and nut/seed mix ins.  Plus, it calculates the nutrition for you.  I love stuff like this.  
Because I am me, I spent a long time trying to get the most protein in these as possible so that I could justify buying them.  I ended up with 3 mixes (the shipping was a lot, I figured I might as well get a few), and they all showed up in their pretty capsules today.  

The one I tried today was my Wheat Germ Muesli mix (I named it myself!...not very creative, haha) and it was a Muesli base with barley flakes, wheat germ x2, cacao nibs, dried strawberries, and amaranth.  

Nutrition Information (For 3/4 cup):  136.2 Calories;  2.8g Fat; 0.0g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  26.3g Carbohydrates;  5.4g Fiber;  6.5g Protein.  

For a snack tonight I had a cup of it with a cup of unsweetened chocolate almond milk, and microwaved it on half power for 4 minutes.  I don't have a picture of it because I ate it without planning on blogging about it, but I had to when I saw that even Zoe liked it:

Isn't she CUTE!??!

I guess, as I write this, I also should acknowledge our new president.  I'm not really sure how I feel about it, even though I wanted him to win but...congrats to Obama!  A minority president.  Amazing.  Fantastic.  At the very least, maybe we'll get some kind of the change, since that's what he's been proposing.  

No cooking song today, since I didn't really cook at all.  I did listen to the latest "Vegetarian Food for Thought" podcast on my way back from class tonight though.  I really like Colleen's podcast, since she talks more about food than politics.  

Monday, November 3, 2008

Roasted Garlic Soup and Edamame Burgers

So, once a week I cook dinner for my family.  I tend to borrow recipes for these meals because I don't want to subject them to what may be a disaster.  

Tonight we had a completely borrowed, but nonetheless delicious dinner menu:  

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup

This is from Vegan with a Vengeance.  It involves lots of garlic...yum!  This was seriously delicious.  I am not kidding when I say I licked the blender, haha.  I had also never used fennel seeds before, and I love how they smelled like Italian sausage and peppers.  I never liked Italian sausage though, just how it grandparents always used to get sausage and peppers when we went to the state fair.  You can't taste the fennel too much after you blend it though, but the soup is so delicious. 

I eliminated the oil and just sauteed the onion in a saucepan with cooking spray.  

Nutrition Information:  178.8 Calories;  0.6g Fat;  0.1g Saturated Fat;  0.1g Cholesterol;  520g Sodium;  34.2g Carbohydrates;  7.0g Fiber;  10.5g Protein

We also had Joni's Edamame Burgers

They were a challenge for me, mainly because I don't have a food processor (yet!  Christmas, hopefully).  Also, I used soy flour instead of chickpea flour, which ended up being fine, I just think I used a little too much.  I baked them, 15 minutes on one side, 10 on the other.  I'm not big on bread, but my family ate them mini whole wheat pitas. 

Nutrition Information:  212.8 Calories;  9.1g Fat; 1.6g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  110.5g Sodium;  21.1g Carbohydrates;  9.0g Fiber;  15.9g Protein

All in all, this was a great meal to end a not so great day.  My left eye has been swollen all day.  I took some Benadryl and I can open it now, but it's still really sore.  It also didn't water when my other eye did when chopping my onions...creepy!!  I'm hoping it will be better tomorrow because I skipped the gym this morning because of it.    

Today's Cooking Song of the Day:  Ocean Breathes Salty - Modest Mouse