Friday, April 27, 2012

Lentil Sloppy J's!

I haven't blogged in days, feels like forever! It's been a very busy week. I think it's great that I get to read others blogs that are able to do it daily. Keeps me inspired. I've been working on getting this blog in great shape and user friendly. Any thoughts or suggestions would be very helpful!

One of the easy go to meals I used to make when I was a meat eater was Sloppy Joe's, BK loved them and it was an easy way to "hide" some veggies. Now that we are no longer eating meat I had to find a way to still offer some great Sloppy Joe's.

So, here is my version. Lovingly called Lentil Sloppy J's.

What you will need:
1 cup green or red lentils, rinsed
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or 1/4 cup vegetable stock)
3/4 cup bell pepper (I used mini bells in a variety of colors, green works well too), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/4 teaspoons stone ground mustard
1 cup ketchup (you can use tomato sauce if you want to lower the sugar intake)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons vegan worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Whole wheat buns

What you will need to do:
Pick through the lentils to remove any rocks or debris. After rinsing your lentils place them in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover them by an inch (use a 2 to 1 ratio of water to lentils). Bring to a boil then simmer until desired tenderness 15-60 minutes. Add water as necessary, don't let it completely dry out. Drain if necessary. You can do this step ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large saute pan heat oil (or vegetable stock) until it starts to shimmer. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Mix in the lentils and heat for about 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the whole wheat buns :) and the salt/pepper combo. Heat through for 20 minutes stirring often. Taste first then add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve on toasted whole wheat buns.

A great side dish: Sweet Potato Fries. Green Beans too!

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, April 23, 2012

In vegan debate, one thing parents must agree on

In vegan debate, one thing parents must agree on

A vegan debate on whether or not to raise vegan children.  I'm fully aware of the nutrients my little one could be lacking in her diet and I'm sure to feed her the foods that provide. As for B12, that is supplemented. This does not come from animals but rather the bacteria that clings to what animals eat. If we ate like the animals, never washing our foods, we too would have the necessary amounts of B12.

How many parents to you know that keep track of the nutrients their kids may be getting? Just because you eat meat and dairy does not automatically mean you get the vital nutrients you need.  Every parent should be aware of what they feed their children, no matter if it's a steak or tofu.  Be aware, that is all!

Cheers and happy eating!

Great food from last week.

I have an abundance of veggies in my house at any given time. I have to refrigerators and although one holds countless amounts of water (we live in a desert) and the hubby's passion, beer we also have to use it for the spill over of food. The refrigerator in our kitchen is kind of a dwarf fridge, it came with the rental house we live in, I'm not sure why it's not a normal size fridge. Lately, it's been quite annoying, the size and all. I pack things in then have to take every last piece out to find the one thing I was looking for. If I had my dream fridge it would definitely be a side by side. No more large box for refrigerator and small box for freezer. Too impractical.

The one good part of a small fridge is being forced to use what we have in a timely fashion. And, I've noticed I've become more creative with the vegetables I have on hand. Either the ones I buy from the market or those I get out of the CSA loot. With CSA ever week I never know what I'll be getting until the evening before. It's like Christmas every Tuesday.

When I plan my meals for the week I always include vegetables I just don't always know what we will be eating. I do buy the essentials, avocados, radishes, green onions, mushrooms, onions, garlic, parsley, cilantro, lemons and limes. Those items are generally on my list every week. And, if I don't think the CSA will give enough of an item I may be using I will usually pick up a few extras. They definitely give us a lot of carrots when it's that time of year!!

This past week was full of vegetables! One night we made black bean and rice burritos so to go with I included what we had on had as condiments. Kind of a buffet table to take what you like. The hubby grilled up some Nopales (prickly pear cactus) to enjoy on the side as well. I've never had it outside of candy form and I have to be honest I thought it was awful! Perhaps pickled, as a friend mentioned, would be best. The hubby liked it, he was the only one. I made an easy fresh salsa and we had chips to go along as well. The picture does not show the avocado I sliced up after the picture. No worries, it was not left out!

All those veggies in one place! My burrito was busting at the seams! With all the stuff that fell out of the burrito I crumbled a few chips on top and had a bit of a salad. The beans and rice were super simple as well. I made the rice in my rice cooker while I was out picking up the little one from school. I then cut up some onion and sauteed until translucent, added garlic and heated until fragrant. Add the rice, a can of diced tomatoes and the juices, a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), some jalapeno and seasonings. My "Mexican" type seasonings usually include; chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic and oregano. Once the rice is made all you really need to do is warm it all up in the pan. It was quite tasty. Then mixed with all those great condiments made it all the better.

On another evening I made a cabbage stew from the website, Fat Free Vegan. I altered the stew a bit, adding black beans instead of great northerns (I bought those but completely forgot) and add a few more seasonings to taste. Wow, such a great stew/soup!! I made our huge Tuesday night salads as well. Really, Tuesday was all about the veggies!! Look at all the color!!

I added avocado as a garnish. Mixed in the soup, it gave it a great creaminess. Very refreshing! If only the little one would eat avocado. Not that I can complain she pretty much eats everything else! :)

A few nights later I asked the hubby to take over for dinner. So, off to start the grill! He made up some chipotle black bean burgers which we absolutely love. They are prepackaged but I have yet to master a black bean burger that will stay together properly. Inside I made up my favorite tater tots (I just can't seem to let go!), green beans, and kale. I simply sauteed the kale in some vegetable broth with garlic. Since I had left overs from burrito night I put those out on the table to see what everyone wanted to use to put on their burgers. On mine, stone ground mustard, a little ketchup, kale, pickles, radish, romaine, and cabbage. Yes, it was difficult to eat, but it was so darn good!!! Kale on a burger, why didn't I think of this before??

That was my week in food! Veggies being the key term. What about you? Anything exciting?

Cheers and happy eating!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Menu for this week. 4/22/12-4/28/12

I'm running a bit slow today. Some of you may know some may not. I was involved in an automobile accident in August of 2011. Because of it I've suffered nerve damage in my left arm. I had surgery in November of last year to release the tangled nerve, ulnar, which lies near the elbow. It was moved to a location on the inside of my arm. Anyway, I suffer from pain, often times severe, on a mostly daily basis. My naturopath and I have been working on a natural pain relief treatment which ironically includes needles! Eek!

Anyway, I still have my bad days, although they are getting farther between which is nice. The last few days, however, have been "bad" days. My nerve tries to tell my brain that it's in pain, stiff, and does strange things in my arm and wrist. So, I'm moving slowly today. Which means I've only gotten half my grocery shopping done but I still have my menu for next week.

Sunday: 4/22/12
It seems like a crockpot kind of day (it's supposed to be in the 90's this weekend!) so it's Kidney Bean Pasta Soup. My BK told me he really likes kidney beans so I will try and incorporate them into more recipes! Yay!

Monday: 4/23/12
Pasta Della California. It's pasta with avocados and arugula with a white wine sauce. Sounds light and tasty. I found this out of Veganomicon. I'll have the hubby grill up some tofu as well. A side of green beans sounds nice as well.

Tuesday: 4/24/12
Salad Tuesday. I generally make up other things. I tend to feel inspired when we get our CSA loot!

Wednesday: 4/25/12
Jerk Chickpeas (LTEV!!) tacos. Side of refried beans and chips and salsa. I started making my own again. After the incident with the canned roasted peppers from Costco I got a bit scared. But, I'm back at it. I'll post a recipe soon.

Thursday: 4/26/12
Lentil sloppy joes. This will be my own recipe because I have yet to find one in a cookbook we actually all like. I'm hoping it goes over well. I'll make tater tots or sweet potato fries and probably Soycatash from Trader Joe's. Love it!

Friday: 4/27/12
No cook Friday night. We'll have to wait and see!

Saturday: 4/28/12
Portabella burgers. Roasted red potatoes with root vegetables and sweet potatoes. Yum!


Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My passion (pretty personal post)

I have passions, don't we all? My passions, that I can share, are related to food and to health. It started when I was young. My mom and sister were always in the kitchen cooking up something new or baking something that made the day smell good, you know that day smell good feeling? They would ask, mostly my mom, if I wanted to learn.

No way! I didn't want to learn. I wanted to marry someone rich so I would never have to cook or clean! I was very young so I suppose my thoughts meant something I just don't know what. As I got older I still avoided the kitchen. My sister moved out, got married and she cooked. I remember her telling me about things she would cook and how she would do it but I still paid no mind. I was in highschool and food was the furthest thing from my mind. My diet consisted of ramen (tons of it!), pickles, carrots, bread smeared with marinara sauce, bacon bits and cheese (tossed in the microwave for 30 sec, I thought it was heaven!), veggies (whatever it was we had for dinners), popcorn, and more ramen. It wasn't the best but I was an active kid. When I "grew up" and moved out of the house and got married myself I made many things for dinner.

They all came out of a box or can! All of it. Even veggies. My favorite, canned greened beans. And I have to admit, if I see a can of green beans I feel the need to eat them. It's an addiction. The same as my addiction to ramen. I don't even shop in "regular" stores anymore as to not walk by that aisle. Costco is difficult at times. I wish they had meetings for people like me. NO ONE is allowed to have ramen in my house because I will hunt them down, steal their food, eat it and well...migraine city! I cannot control it!

With this, I was getting migraines, which I had all my life, more frequently. Sometimes 3 times a week. They would take me down for a day or two making normal life difficult. I finally said something to my doctor about how many I was actually getting (no, he didn't ask when prescribing migraine meds!) and he sent me to a Neurologist. Okay, so this scared me! What were they going to do? Drill a hole in my head? Prescribe more meds I would hate? I had no idea.

When I walked in to his office that day he immediately asked what I ate. What do I eat? What does that matter? He asked if I ate MSG? No, I don't eat MSG, I know that stuff is bad for you. But, I told him about the ramen, canned soups, boxed foods, etc. Uh...that ALL has MSG or it's derivatives. OH! Hmmm...

I know I've posted about this before, you can find my list in a past blog if you too would like to know what MSG is and all the hidden terms food manufactures use to be able to state there is no MSG. The List That Saved Me

So, fast forward a bit. I cut out everything on the above aforementioned list and then slowly added the items that might cause issues. What a difference that made in my world. I maybe get 3 migraines a year now. And, I no longer have the intestinal issues I had (who knew that was related). I had to learn to cook, oh for shame! I didn't marry a rich guy and really after leaving the marriage I had I felt rich in other ways!

I called my mom and sister, frequently, because in my mid twenties I had no idea what I was doing! I learned though and my passion grew. My passion for health. For those afflicted with migraines. I wanted to shout at the top of the builidings...JUST STOP EATING MSG AND YOU WILL BE FINE! But, my passion came off, sometimes, as judgement. I know my thoughts can often sound like that. I think I just want everyone to be healthy. And, to be honest, I want things my way! I'm very much like that and it doesn't stop with telling people how to live their lives so that I KNOW they are healthy. Did I mention I'm a tad controlling too? I guess I've thought it's for a good cause so what's the issue, right? It's not for me to decide. That is all really.

Okay, so I learned to cook. And I loved it. I also love to clean but that's for a separate blog I suppose. I was knee deep into a career I stumbled upon in college. It's not that I didn't love it I just didn't choose it so I was getting antsy, bored. So, after a messy divorce I quit my job. Much to my family's dismay. In their minds I kind of went off the deep end. I suppose, in a way, I did. I started cooking for large groups. They seemed to really love my food. So, I constantly tried to make them love it more. See, there's me being controlling again. I wanted them to want more, to love it, to praise it I suppose.

Instead of finding a new job that would actually pay my bills I enrolled in the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Scottsdale Arizona. What a change. I had never lived away from home, friends, the life I knew. But, I did it. I then started working in kitchens for others, restaurants I wouldn't necessarily eat at just a place for a job. It was not what I expected. I didn't get to be creative like I had been. I ended up losing my passion for cooking. I didn't want to cook at home anymore and I really didn't like working in the kitchen. It was miserable actually. I had no idea! And, it did not pay the bills!

Again, I quit. I started working in a lucrative field which I never knew I would love but absolutely do and it has nothing to do with food! My passion returned and I began cooking at home again. I wanted to open my own restaurant or perhaps write a cookbook. But, how to do either of those, I had no idea.

I still had my passion of spreading the word about not eating processed foods to anyone who would listen.

I got to know a very special friend in my life, my nutrition coach now, and she was vegan. She had been vegetarian for years but she and her husband decided that veganism was the way to go. I thought she was crazy!! I thought she was doing a disservice for her young son. I thought she actually, secretly, missed meat every day but didn't know how to turn back. How could someone go without bacon? I seriously thought she was nuts! In my mind all she could eat was pasta and veggies (only the ones I knew of, which was not many). So carrots and pasta , oh what a healthy diet, right?

She knew how I felt and never pushed. Never judged. Never made me see her side. She just lived her healthy life and would be there to answer any questions I ever had. Last year I started going to her for nutrition coaching. I thought I knew everything there was to know but needed help with what and how to feed my infant who would eventually eat solid foods. I also wanted to learn how to feed my family quickly but nutritiously. I didn't want to rely on boxes and cans but I didn't have a lot of time.

She gave suggestions and was always so kind about how we did eat. I talked about bacon a lot. She didn't judge. How can I become more like her? Because she is truly and inspiration! If you're interested in getting food help of ANY kind please visit Mel Mason's website, 6 month program.

Mel told me about a movie, Forks Over Knives and suggested that I watch it. She said it was life changing. Well, of course (did I mention I'm stubborn too) I sat on this information for some time. After discovering that my infant daughter could not handle dairy which was being passed through my milk I stopped dairy all together. I had to ask Mel a ton of questions on how to go about that. So, I sat down, with my hubby and In-Laws and we watched Forks Over Knives. I knew it had information regarding dairy, I just didn't know to what extent.

We watched the movie, Christmas Eve 2011. I sat, after the movie, and stared at a wall. You bet your butts, it was life changing!

I didn't know what to say. Then the hubby said something I would never expect. He said we should cut out meat! Cut out meat! That means bacon too! We had already, mostly, cut out dairy so why not go the whole way. I was thinking the same way but really had no idea they hubby would be supportive of this.

So, five months later. I'm extremely passionate about food, as I have always been. I want people, all people, to be healthy. I want their illnesses to cease to exist. I want them to have more energy and I want all children in America to eat as to not become obese. But, again, I have become as I have before or sound as if I judge. Again.

I did not make this change in my life to judge others. I made this change in my life to inspire others. I suppose this is my reflection piece. My blog to make me aware that I need to learn to be less judging and more inspiring. I'm passionate, for that I will not apologize. What I will apologize for is the judgement that may have come from this change in my life. I'm still so new to the plant powered lifestyle and I'm learning new things every day. I want to share what I've learned to anyone who may listen.

I will take the time to consider what I say and how I say it as to sound as if I am doing something that everyone should do or else. Really, it is within everyones rights to decide what it is they want to eat, how they want to run their lives. I chose a certain path for myself and my family. It is my job to teach my family my thoughts and beliefs. It is, however, not my job to teach you my thoughts and beliefs.

I will continue to be passionate about food and health and I will continue to share what it is that I learn. But, I will make the promise to only teach and not control. It may be difficult, as it is part of my personality, but I do know it's not my most favorited quality. :D

Please, continue to read. Enjoy and cook! If ever you want to discuss or ask me questions please comment. I would be happy to help in any way possible. I love to give inspiration. I love to teach about those things I've learned.

Cheers and happy eating!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let Them Eat Vegan Cookbook Giveaway!

Hi guys!! I'm very excited!! Dreena Burton, author of Let Them Eat Vegan is giving her cookbook away!!

Here's the link to her giveaway page! It's simple, "like" her on Facebook (you'll get lot's of recipes), follow her on Twitter for a second entry (she's witty and funny!) and post a comment on the page I give you. Simple!!

You could win this fantastic book!! I would enter but seeing as I've already dirtied my book by using it so much I will give those without a chance! :)

Cheers and happy eating!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Who needs cake when there is pie!

When I make cornbread I use some silken tofu and some egg replacer. If it's just egg replacer the cornbread is not as fluffy and creamy. If I just use silken tofu the cornbread just falls apart. So, I use half of each. It works very well!

With this, I had practically a whole block of silken tofu left. I looked around the kitchen and found some other ingredients. Here is what I made.

Stuff you need:
I block of silken tofu (missing about an 1/8 of a cup is fine)
Small bottle (airline bottle) of hazelnut kahlua
10 oz semi sweet vegan chocolate chips (Trader Joe's has vegan)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1 9 inch pie crust (Wholly Wholesome has a great whole wheat frozen pie crust)

What you need to do:
Bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil. Half full or more of water is plenty. Lower to a simmer.

Melt the chocolate with the kahlua and vanilla in a metal bowl set on top of the simmering water. Mix frequently with a rubber spatula until melted.

Add the tofu, chocolate mixture, and agave nectar to a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the pie crust and refrigerate for 1.5 hours or until set.

For the pie crust, bake according to package directions (for a no bake pie)

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as we did! So good!!

Cheers and happy eating!

Menu for the week. 4/15/12-4/21/12

I've been making a lot of other peoples recipes lately. I started to get some what of a complex about it but realized that when I was a meat eater making my own recipes I really knew my ingredients. I'd been cooking with them for so many years I knew what went well together, what seasonings worked and so on. Now, as a plant strong happy eater I don't know my ingredients as well. Some I've never met before and really need to take out for a drink and get to know them. So, I'm learning all over again. I will continue to slowly work on the recipes I feel I can master as I learn from cooking others. When I really know my ingredients I know I will truly blossom!

Sunday: 4/15/12
Saturday was supposed to be chili but we had quite the day at the Air Show so there was no time to get it done. So, I moved chili to Sunday. Cornbread and of course rice. I grew up eating my chili on rice, I always make it to go with.

Monday: 4/16/12
Cosmic cashew kale and chickpeas with confetti quinoa. I found this recipe from a blogger I follow, Susan with Fat Free Vegan.

Tuesday: 4/17/12
Salad Tuesday night. Salad really does some easier when we go to get our CSA loot.

Wednesday: 4/18/12
Burritos with rice and black beans. Corn and green beans on the side.

Thursday: 4/19/12
Black bean burgers and veggies we get from the CSA. All the fixin's!

Friday: 4/20/12
Left overs. No Cook Friday Night!!

Saturday: 4/21/12
Spaghetti squash Mexicana with tropical Avocado salsa fresca. This one is out of the best named cookbook, Veganomincon.

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter weekend, food fest

I know I'm posting this a little late but as I've been a bit under the weather this week blogging has taken the back burner. My family was sick over the past two weeks so I suppose this week was my turn. I'm finally starting to feel more alive, I'm sure the B6 and B12 shots I got yesterday helped!!

This past weekend was Easter weekend. As we don't celebrate Easter we thought of it more as a, let's eat good food weekend. But, aren't all weekends that way? I love to cook and have a lot more time on the weekends to do so!

The weekend started off with a sippy cup disaster! Friday night, nearing dinner time, my little one, J decided to throw her sippy cup down incredibly hard to the ground. Of course said sippy cup cracked down the side as water leaked on to the floor. We had recently purchased this sippy cup to give it a trial run, she, of course, loved it! So, having only the one sippy we were sure to have an issue. We had to make an emergency run to Target! Now, I realize Friday is a no cook night for me but often that means left overs. We had bean burgers still left from my little one's birthday party (no worries, they are frozen) which would have been dinner. But, the detour to Target would delay dinner past the little's bedtime. Thankfully, the in laws rescued our dinner/sippy debacle with food from one of our favorite Asian food restaurants! They got to the house as we returned from emergency trip to Target. Dinner saved! Sippy saved!
On a side note: she's already broken another. I do believe we should get her into shotput or something!

Saturday morning I decided to make a tofu scramble. I had some tofu I needed to use up before expiration.

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or 1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for potatoes
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
6-8 mushrooms, diced (I tend to like my mushrooms small)
3-4 mini bell peppers (any color) or 1/2 a red or yellow bell pepper
2 cups frozen potatoes (I use tater tots, hash browns would work too)
1/4 cup green onion, sliced (green and white parts)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus some to taste
1/4 teaspoon black salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Pepper to taste
I added seasoning by eyeballing, cumin, coriander, basil and oregano. I use my palm to measure. I will be sure to measure next time to give you amounts. I generally stick to 1/2 teaspoon or a bit more of each.
Kale (optional)
Avocado (optional)

Cooking steps:

Using a large nonstick skillet heat the oil or vegetable stock over medium high heat. Once heated add the chopped mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook until they start to let go of their juices, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers. Cook until they start to soften, 6 minutes. Be sure not to let the garlic burn, you can turn down the heat as necessary.

As this is cooking wrap your drained tofu in two paper towels and press. I use a plate on top with a few cans of whatever I have in my cabinet.

Once the veggies have become soft remove them from the pan, set aside. Heat the remaining oil. Add your potatoes. Season with above spice, excluding the black salt and turmeric. Salt and pepper is to taste. Heat the potatoes through breaking them up as they cook. When they are all broken up and heated add the vegetables back to the pan. You can now unwrap your tofu. Break it up into pieces and, this part is fun, crumble with your hands straight into the pan. Add the turmeric and black salt. Stir and let cook, stirring as needed, for 5 minutes.

At the end of cooking add the cilantro and green onions.

To serve: tear some kale into bite size pieces, add your scramble and top with fresh sliced avocado. I do love tofu scrambles! I've been playing with the seasonings for a little bit now so please season as you would normally season eggs (if you eat or have eaten them).

For dinner Saturday night I made a potpie. Who doesn't love a pot pie? I remember eating the frozen pot pies and loving them until I stopped to read the ingredients. Wow, the processed stuff involved, it's not needed! Let Them Eat Vegan has a great potpie that seemed to be quite the hit! I found it to be flavorful, hearty, filling and so good! I topped mine on some rice. Rice has always been a comfort item for me.

This pot pie is FULL of veggies!!

Before adding the crust on top.

I thought it would be cute to cut bears into the crust. Of course the joke of the night was, how could we be vegan if we're eating bears? Haha!

My pot pie served over rice. I tell you, this was fantastic! It was a tad sweeter than I had initially expected (I'm not sure why, seeing as there are sweet potatoes in the recipe) but the sweetness was a great surprise. This recipe can be made any way as well. Add mushrooms, use different potatoes. So many possibilities.

After our lovely Saturday evening food coma we woke on Sunday craving another tofu scramble. Why not? I had one more block of tofu. I made it pretty much in the same manner but added some chili powder. I made some black beans to go on the side. To those I added cumin and chili powder. I have to say, I do believe I liked Saturday's version better. But, to make Sunday's better I added kale after I took the picture. :)

For Sunday night we decided on an Easter type dinner, vegan style of course, even if we aren't ones to celebrate. I chose to make the Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Vegetable Lasagna out of Engine 2 Diet. This is, by far, my favorite recipe from this book! It takes a little time so it makes for a great Sunday meal. We've been noshing on it all week. It makes enough for an army!

I absolutely love this lasagna! I don't miss the cheese or meat whatsoever. If you're interested in making only one night a week or one night a month vegan I highly recommend this lasagna!!

We had salad on the side.

I realize now, I did not get a photo of the Troll Cookies I made out of LTEV. These cookies were mostly healthy ingredients and were SO GOOD! The kids loved them, the adults loved them!! It doesn't call for white flour or even white sugar. How could it be any better.

With all the great food this weekend I'm surprised Monday held up to par!

Cheers and happy eating!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Better late than never! Menu 4/8/12-4/14/12

I guess I was so busy with the holiday weekend I forgot to post this weeks menu plan. I'm mostly sticking to the no fake meats but BK would really like meatball subs so I'm using Trader Joe's meatless meatballs. I will eventually make one that he likes, so far, not so much. He's not much of a grain eater.

Sunday: 4/8/12
Raise the Roof Sweet potato Vegetable Lasagna. This is my all time favorite recipe from The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds and a great family type meal! You won't even miss the cheese!! If they hubby loves it, I do believe the hardcore cheese fans will too. Side salad to go with.
Dessert: (why not? It's Easter) Troll Cookies (these are fairly healthy cookies, not that you would ever know!) straight out of LTEV.

Monday: 4/9/12
Udon Noodles with mushrooms and kale in a miso broth. Grilled, marinated, tofu slices. Broiled asparagus.

Tuesday: 4/10/12
It's big ole' salad night! It's also a night for me to experiment. I'll be working on a spaghetti squash recipe. I'll definitely post, if all goes well. :)

Wednesday: 4/11/12
Meatball subs with marinara sauce for BK. Spaghetti squash with a vegetable marinara for the hubby, J and I. Green beans and side salad (left overs from Tuesday night, I make a very large salad!)

Thursday: 4/12/12
Lentil Soup (it's supposed to get chilly again here) with orzo pasta. Inspiration from Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family. We'll pick up some bread from our local bakery. We have a favorite 9 grain.

Friday: 4/13/12
Oh yes, it's No Cook Friday Night. I think we'll do leftovers!! I'm sure we will have plenty. CSA loot items or more spaghetti squash. Kale perhaps. I could just snack on that!!

Saturday: 4/14/12
Still working on my chili recipe. The hubby loves it but I still think it needs some work. I may post the recipe to get some tasters. The feedback would be great!! I serve mine with rice and cornbread. I've found that cornbread with just an egg replacer is too grainy while cornbread with just tofu is too mushy. I add half of each and it works so well!!

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jerk Chickpeas! Wow!

If I haven't said it enough, let me say it one more time. Let Them Eat Vegan is a cookbook I cannot put down. If you are vegan, would like to be vegan, or you just want to add some whole food plant strong meals into your repertoire, please give this book a try! Most of the recipes are super simple to make with only a few being a bit more of a challenge. But, not so much so that it's intimidating. Those cookbooks are tough to get through! Trust me, I went to a French Culinary School, it's not easy. The recipes are not only good but they give such great options, options for kids, options for soy free (for all those that have a soy allergy), options for wheat free, so many options. I love how, Dreena Burton gives insight as to how she may make the recipe at home, perhaps she's missing an ingredient, she gives you an alternative. Its definitely user friendly.

Here is where you can get it, it's where I got mine!

Just so that you are aware. There has been a revision of this book, new copies will be shipped out, starting May 1st, 2012. Here is the information provided by the author, Dreena Burton.

Okay, so on to the dinner I made! Jerk Chickpeas. The spice combination in this recipe is just so tasty! A little sweet a little spice. I've never baked chickpeas before but I think I'll be doing so more often. Along with the Jerk Chickpeas I made up some brown rice with tomatoes, roasted green chilies, corn, onions, garlic and some other seasonings (chili powder, cumin, coriander(all my faves!)). We served the chickpeas on small (tostada sized) flour tortillas with the rice, lettuce and avocado. Best little taco type tostada dinner we've had in a long time! J ate the chickpeas like I eat pickles (a lot!) and BK loved them too. The hubby was very impressed. I couldn't wait for lunch the next day. What would I do without leftovers?? As always, I made a side of green beans (it seems to be the only vegetable I can get BK to eat).

Just before putting the chickpeas into the oven. So colorful!!!

Here's how I make my green beans (The hubby asks for these often)

Things you need:

1 lb green beans (fresh), cleaned of the ends
1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Salt and pepper to taste

Things you must do:

Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil. Add prepared green beans to the water and blanch for 1 minute. Immediately remove from water and either put them in a cold water/ice bath or run them under cold water and put them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. I generally don't have enough ice on hand so running them under cold water works for me.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the green beans and toss to coat. Saute until heated through, 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. If you like extra garlic this is where I will add garlic powder as well. Enjoy!

This dinner was very simple to make! It was a crowd pleaser.

Dinner is served!

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I attempted falafel again. The first time I bought a mix from Whole Foods. Everyone seemed okay with it but thought it was a tad dry. J didn't like it much. So, I decided to make it from scratch using my seemingly favorite cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family.

This time, I loved the falafel. I thought they were moist and flavorful. The parsley and cilantro stood out to me as well as the cumin. They weren't full of grease like some falafel can be which gave a light fresh taste. My only problem was that perhaps I did not cook them long enough, they seemed to fall apart fairly easily. I may need to add a tad more oil next time to get more of a golden brown outside.

J loved this version of falafel, she even ate it right up for lunch today! The hubby and BK, however, thought the texture was off. BK ate some of it but liked the texture of the last version. The hubby loved the flavor of this version but would prefer a closer match to the last version as well. I guess it's two against two!

I made some Tahini and served hummus as well. I made a spiced brown rice. I made it simple. Brown rice, onions, garam masala. It definitely needed more garam masala. I worried the kiddos would find that to be a tad over powering though. I found dinner to be quite tasty last night and I even enjoyed the left overs today. Next time I will either fry longer with a tad more oil or I will try and bake them, hitting them with the broiler at the end.

If you make one of your own versions of falafel please share. One day I will get it just right so all the bears love it! :)

Cheers and happy eating!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Simple delicious food

I love simple! I don't always do simple but I love it! When I was in culinary school we did far from simple. Everything seemed to be such a big production. I was thought if I ever opened a restaurant I'd still keep it simple. I guess that's why I don't work in someone else's kitchen, so complicated! As a mom, an employee, and someone who enjoys time with family, time is precious. So,'s good!

We had a friend over for dinner last night. He's not so much into fancy food and vegan is like a planet or something. I decided on pasta with an artichoke mushroom sauce, salad, and a dessert. Dessert isn't necessarily simple but why not when you have guests, right?

The sauce I made was very simple!

1-2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup-3/4 cups chopped baby bella mushrooms
3 cups frozen artichokes (I used a whole bag from Trader Joe's, I wouldn't have known to use frozen had it not been for Dreena Burton, thanks Dreena!)
6 cloves of garlic, use a press or dice
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup white wine
2 cans diced tomatoes (I'm not a huge fan of tomato pieces so I used my immersion blender to break them up a bit)
1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 Teaspoon salt + some for the mushrooms
Pepper to taste

1 lb pasta. Any pasta is good. I used the organic vegetable pasta from Trader Joe's

Heat some the olive oil in a large saute pan. Once the oil has a shimmer to it, it's hot. Add the mushrooms and onions. Add a little salt to the mushrooms so they let go of some of their juices (eye ball it). Cook for 4 minutes. Add the pressed garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the frozen artichokes and the dried seasonings as well as the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook for 7 minutes or until the artichokes start to cook. Add the wine and bring to a boil then simmer for 3 minutes. Add the cans of tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking. At the end, add your fresh basil.

Meanwhile start your pasta water. I like to salt my water but it's not necessary. Cook pasta according to package directions.

The dressing for the salad can be found in Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family. You can also watch Dreena make this fantastic hummus salad dressing at, it's a very cute video! And the dressing is the bomb!! I think I would enjoy drinking it.

Okay, what you've been waiting for ...DESSERT!
Oh, it was so good. I actually forget to take a picture until after we already started eating it! Sorry!

Cheesecake brownies! Yum!! Can't even tell they are vegan. And you would never know they have raw cashews to make up the cheesecake part...oh, I just told you! No fake anything in this recipe. So good!!

This too is out of LTEV. You really should pick up a copy of this cookbook! It's not just a girl crush, Dreena knows how to cook! She knows how to make being vegan yummy!

The non-vegan who joined us for dinner loved dinner and dessert. This makes me very happy. I love cooking for others! I should do it more often. Anyone have some time I could borrow?

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I thought I was eating something unhealthy!

Often times when I feel like I'm eating really unhealthy rich food I back it up with a ton of veggies. I haven't had this feeling in quite sometime. Mostly because I choose to no longer eat those really unhealthy items that weigh heavy in my stomach. Last night I made another lovely meal from Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family. Yellow sweet potato chickpea pie. I kept asking myself if I was eating something really unhealthy. It was so savory, so rich, good.

For me, savory has never been one of my favorites. But, with that this pie was very good! I enjoyed the nuts on top and the smooth creaminess of the pie filling itself. Even the whole wheat pie crust was divine!

Along with this savory pie I made asparagus, inspired by LTEV as well. I had no idea you could broil asparagus. I've always blanched them and sauteed them. Or I've used a steamer. I must say, broiling is scrumptious. I added some oil, garlic, salt and pepper to the asparagus and tossed them in the oven for a few minutes. So tasty!

I also made a beet, carrot and jicama salad. Mostly because I have a ton of carrots and beets from the CSA. I made a simple dressing of lemon juice, seasoned rice wine vinegar, stone ground mustard and dill. I am a big fan of this salad! Just roast the beets until you can easily stick a fork in them. Cut them up as well as the jicama and carrots and toss with the dressing. Wow!!

I may modify the chickpea pie to suit the family since savory isn't a big flavor around the house. I think next time I'll add some mushrooms to the filling. Add sauteed kale on top of the pie and drizzle with either balsamic vinegar or a balsamic vinegar sauce. It was good as is, but I think, for us, this will put it over the top!

Cheers and happy eating!