Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Vegan Mac and "Cheese!" Kid friendly, BK approved!

I find it very difficult to cook for everyone in my house. Do you? Everyone has their own set of taste buds and with a teenager who would eat some sort of burger for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I have quite the task.

Each week I make up a menu, M-F. Saturday and Sunday is left for leftovers or date night or dining out as a family. Something along those lines. My menu consists of dinners and snacks. I am sure to have plenty of healthy snacks sitting around my kitchen for those times starvation (or my body tries to tell me that's what it is) strikes!

My BK likes Mac and Cheese. What kid (well, teenager) doesn't, right? I've made "cheese" sauces before but they always seem to be too cashew(Y) for him so I needed a cheese sauce without nuts.

Thinking cap on....

Start with a roux...add some almond milk...seasoning...maybe a little nutritional yeast...

I found some things online and found some inspiration from Pinterest. Chef Chloe Coscarelli had some wonderful ideas! But, I'm not a huge nooch fan. Nooch is short nutritional yeast. It's loaded with B12 but I'm not a huge fan of too much. I know, I may be in the minority. People love this stuff and buy it in very large quantities. Anyhow. I adjusted this recipe to my own liking and here it is for you all to enjoy.

Little J enjoying lunch. Mac and "Cheese," broccoli, and edamame. With a book, of course!

BK's Mac and Cheese (I name it this because he ATE it and LIKED it!!! Yay!!!)

16 oz bag of whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
1/3 cup spelt flour
3 cups almond milk
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar, or more to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, make a roux with the margarine and flour in a medium sauce pot set over medium high heat. Heat for 3-5 minutes, or until it becomes a nice nutty brown color. Slowly add the milk while whisking. Add the nutritional yeast, tomato paste, salt, garlic powder and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it's boiling turn your heat to a simmer and let the sauce thicken. It should evenly coat the back of a spoon.  Add the lemon juice and agave nectar, taste, adjust seasonings as needed.

Toss the sauce and noodles together and serve.

I usually serve with a side of green beans or broccoli. Grilled portobellos are a great side as well.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

School's In Session!

When I have the chance to read, I do. 

I will begin classes through eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition tomorrow!

I'm both excited and nervous!

I have a toddler at home, she's nearly 2, so time is a blessing around the house. I surely hope I can muster up enough of it for my studies.

It's been several years since I was behind a desk, so to speak. I graduated from Culinary school in 2008. Seems so long ago now. Before that I was at the University of Arizona and graduated in 2002. I suppose I just keep going back.

I love school, actually. No matter the challenge I am drawn towards learning. This time I will learn something I've grown passionate about over this past year. Plant-based nutrition is my life style, my way of thinking, way of eating and way of staying healthy. I want to share that with others. Are you ready? I surely am!

I will blog to tell you how it goes as time permits. I'm so excited to share the wealth of knowledge.

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Just because you're vegan does not mean you're healthy!

A year ago I wasn't sure what I was doing. I stopped eating meat! I didn't know what to eat. I was raising a young baby, not yet 1 and wasn't getting much sleep. It all seemed so overwhelming really.

I made a huge decision. One that has changed the course of my life. I decided to better my health and that of my family I would need to make a drastic change in the kitchen! It's not that we were all that unhealthy I suppose it's just that I certainly wasn't doing any good for my high cholesterol and for my families well being.

Just because you're vegan does not mean you're healthy.

That's been with me since day one. I could have easily chosen processed fake meats, processed drinks, processed foods. But, I chose the opposite and I'm all the happier and healthier for it.

How did I transition?

Well, we started out thinking we'd eat up all the meat we had in the freezer but in fact we gave it all to our neighbor. I went with what I knew I liked. The vegetables I knew we liked and knew how to cook. I asked my health coach to teach me some things about tofu and I did a lot of research online. I wanted to ensure I was getting all the nutrients I needed and to do this I needed to research!

How to be a healthy vegan?

Some things I go with on a daily basis are as follows:
1) Steer clear of as many processed items as you can, including beverages. They are often high in sugar, fat, salt, and chemicals
2) Eat the rainbow! Variety is key. The more colors you eat in veggies the more nutrients you will get. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.
3) Don't beat yourself up. No one is perfect. If you want that high sugar candy bar once in awhile then have it. It's not going to be the end of the world.
4) Don't fret so much in regards to protein. You will get enough. Eat your vegetables, grains and beans. You're good. Fiber is much more important! Eat your fiber!!
5) Eat fiber. No really, just do it.
6) Eat a lot. I eat every few hours. Helps with metabolism and keeps my meals small. I love to snack!
7) Keep fresh snacks on hand all the time. Carry with you everywhere. Veggies, fruit, nuts (I have a handful a day), seeds (pumpkin seeds are very beneficial), and popcorn are some of my favorite snacks.
8) Prepare. Make a menu for the week. Shop for just your menu. Eat what you plan. Saves you money and time.
9) Enjoy your food!!

I've mentioned this before but I'll do it again. One of my favorite cookbooks is one that uses little processed foods and no fake meats. Dreena Burton's Let Them Eat Vegan. It's a great starter book! Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsey Nixon is another great one.

Today, I'm amazed at the progress I've made. I feel healthier. I feel lighter. I feel like I have more energy. I just feel good.

I signed up for a certification course in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell. I can't believe I've made it this far. To the point of wanting, craving, more. More knowledge to be able to share with everyone. My number one purpose is to spread health to your house. I'm so very excited for the prospects of this year.

If you have any questions just let me know. I'd love to chat with you. It's been an eye opening year and I'm ready for this year and what it has to offer.

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Veganversary!

I've been on quite the hiatus as of late. With the holidays I needed to focus on my family. The time away was nice, I was able to gain a little more perspective. We all need that from time to time.

I'm back and it's my Veganversary! Yep, a year ago we, my family, changed our way of eating. We started eating a plant-based diet and we haven't looked back. I believe we just wanted to "give it a try," but look at us now!!

It's all about the veggies!

The progress I've made this year have given me such great pleasure. Baby weight lost plus some! Better health for myself and the hubby! A new business prospect and this wonderful blog. I'll need to run in to the doctor and get my cholesterol checked after all this healthy food.

My in-laws have mostly gone plant-based and my dad is joining in for the month of February. He'll be getting some blood work down at the beginning and the end. I'm hoping, just like us, he finds it to be a positive change. Perhaps he'll stick with it.

I've taught classes this past year and I look forward to teaching more. I'd like to include that in my personal business. Plant-Based Food Consultant. Menu planning, grocery shopping, food prep, and teaching those I work with to cook! What better way to help others with a healthy lifestyle?

It's been quite the year. To be honest with you all, I wasn't sure we'd make it. But, with all the support the transition was easy and welcoming. I don't miss my previous carnivorous lifestyle. I certainly feel healthier, lighter, and happier!! My daughter is also benefiting from the whole food "diet." She's incredibly healthy and if she does manage to pick up some nasty germs she kicks it rather quickly.

I look forward to a wonderful year of blogging, working, cooking and loving on my family!!

Drop me a line some time. I'd love to hear from you all.

How long have you been plant-based? Or, have you been interested and just have questions? I'm here to help.

Cheers and Happy New Year to you!!