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Posts Tagged ‘vegan diets’

In my quest to find new entrees, and off set my somewhat compulsive baking of sweets, I decided to try my hand at making falafel.  While I would love to say that I slaved over a hot stove preparing homemade falafel, such is not the case.  Instead I did the unthinkable.  I used….pre-made falafel mix.  *Gasp*  I know it’s a bit of a short cut but I had this vegan falafel mix in the pantry and it hadn’t expired yet, so I gave it a try. 

The falafel tasted really good.  It had good spice, good texture and really well the tsiziki that was made from scratch.  Granted, next time I make falafel I am going to try making it from scratch.  I have heard that homemade falafel beats the mixes hands down.  Isn’t that always the case though?

In non-food related food, I think I may have some pictures up on the blog by this weekend.  I am currently in the process of trying resurrect my camera from the dead.  With some luck and a new SD card I will be able to break up some of my long-winded posts with something pretty to look at.

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It has been 3-1/2 weeks since the beginning of my vegan journey, so instead of doing a post that revolves around a recipe I am going to do a bit of an update on my journey so far.   Hopefully this will be the first of many posts that widen the scope of my blog.  I would love to do more posts on the vegan lifestyle apart from food, so I will be trying to include at leat one non-food post per week.  Anywho…on to the update.

The last 3 weeks have gone by fairly quickly.  While it has been a relatively smooth transition for me to go vegan, there have been a few challenges.  For example, I am really missing cheese.  I have tried a recipe for “Cheese” Sauce and frankly it fell way short in the taste category.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste like cheese but it was almost sweet-tasting and I think the spices need to be switched up a bit. 

Aside from venture into faux cheese sauce I haven’t really tried any vegan cheese products.  The grocery stores in my area are rather poorly stocked when it comes to vegan cheeses.  Everything I have come across has had dairy proteins in it.  But I will forge ahead and continue the search for something to fill the cheesy void in my life.  I may even order some Daiya from Pangea Vegan Store.  I have heard some great things about it.

In all things not cheese I have done really well.  I am eating more meals at home and actually spending less money on groceries even though I am making more trips to the store for fresh ingredients.  My energy levels have been up and I am even sleeping better.  The one thing I would like to get better about is planning meals ahead of time.  I am kind of a fly by the seat of my pants girl and that doesn’t always work when you are in a hurry to find something to eat.

I have really been enjoying my experiments with vegan baking, and so have my friends and family as I love to share my creations with them.  But I have noticed that I really need to work on expanding my repertoire of entrees.  While I am a whiz at whipping up sweet treats and baked goods, my actual cooking skills need to be stretched a bit more.  I am seeking out some quick and easy recipes for casseroles, past dishes and stir fries.  Am especially interested in things that I can prepare ahead of time and them refrigerate or freeze for easy meals during the week.

All in all, I am very happy with this new leaf I have turned over.  I am looking forward to all of the new things I have learned, and I know that there is so much more out there for me to discover.   

 

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I am finally back on my feet, and after a course of antibiotics and lots of sleep I am ready to start cooking again.  While I was down for the count most of my meals consisted of canned soup, fruit and whatever else was lying around.  So, needless to say, I have been itching to get in the kitchen and cook some real food.  This weekend provided the perfect opportunity to whip up some of my favorite comfort foods. 

For me comfort food is seasonal.  Something that hits the spot in winter or fall, may not do the trick in spring or summer.  Since we are in the midst of fall (with occasional winter tendencies) comfort food favorites include potatoes, homemade applesauce, cornbread and muffins.  Yum!  Just thinking about them gives me the warm fuzzies. 

For this adventure in comfort I made use of one new recipe and one old favorite.  The new recipe is for Sizzlin’ Home Fries.  It takes the classic goodness of pan fried potatoes and kicks it up a notch with some spicy goodness.  The old favorite is my Struselicious Banana Mini Muffin recipe, which has all of the flavor of banana bread packed into tasty little bite-sized morsels.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Sizzlin’ Home Fries

2-3 potatoes (I like Reds or Yukon Golds)

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Diced

1/2 Medium onion, chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia onions)

1/4-1/2 cup Water

1/2 tbsp. Garlic, minced

1 tsp. Chili Powder

1/2 tsp. Cumin

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/8 tsp. Black Pepper

Wash potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch  cubes.  Put the olive oil and potatoes in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the bell peppers, onion and water to the skillet then cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  (You may need to add a bit more water as the vegetables cook.)  Removed the lid from the skillet and add the garlic and seasonings.  Cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes.  Serve just as they are or with your favorite hot sauce.

If you like a bit more heat you can add a diced jalapeno chile or for a different flavor add a diced chipotle chili.  If you want a more mild version just switch up the seasonings.  Keep it simple by using just salt and pepper or be as creative as you want. 

Struselicious Banana Mini MuffinsStrucelicious Banana Nut Muffins

1 cup Unbleached White flour

1 cup Whole Wheat pastry  flour

1/2 tsp. Baking soda

1/3 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1 cup mashed Banana

3/4 cup Brown Sugar

3 tbsp. Your favorite Non-Dairy milk or Water

1 tsp. Vanilla

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda then set aside.  In a large bowl, cream the Earth Balance Buttery spread and brown sugar.  Beat the mashed banana into the sugar mixture.  Add the non-dairy milk or water and vanilla into the banana mixture then add the flour mixture.  Stir until well combined.  If you like you can fold in 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. (I like pecans but I know a lot of people like walnuts.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon batter into a well-oiled mini muffin tin so that each cup is about 3/4 full.  Then mix strusel as follows:

1/3 cup Unbleached White or Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1/3 cup White Sugar

3-4 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/8 tsp. Nutmeg

A generous dash of Clove

Using a fork, combine the above ingredients in a small bowl until it forms small pea-sized clumps.  Spoon strusel mix over the muffin batter so that it fills the rest of each cup.

Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.  Cooking times may vary depending on your oven so keep a close eye on you muffins while they are baking.  If you want full-sized muffins prepare them the same way as the minis but use a regular-sized muffin tin and increase baking time to 25-30 minutes.

Now that I have shared some of my vegan comfort food favorites I would love to know what your favorite comfort foods are.

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Okay, I know I have been on a bit of a smoothie kick lately but bare with me.  Fall is rapidly descending in my neck of the woods and will bring many soup, stew and bread recipes to the blog.  At the moment though, the speed and ease of smoothies have taken over my world.  Or at least my breakfasts.

With that said, I feel the need to share my new and improved chocolate-strawberry concoction.  Yesterday’s post included a very basic smoothie involving chocolate green super food powder and strawberries.  While that was good, I saw fit to kick things up a notch this morning.  And so, the following smoothie was born.

Chocolate Sunshine Smoothie

2 scoops Amazing Grass Chocolate Green Super Food

5 Strawberry juice cubes

½ cup frozen Strawberries

½  a Banana (fresh or frozen)

1 Orange (juiced)

¾ cup Water

Put all of the ingredients in the blender, hit puree and enjoy!  As with my other smoothies I don’t add any sweetener but you can always use a bit of agave nectar if you like.  Also, feel free to up the amount of water if you want a thinner smoothie.

All I can say about this smoothie is… YUMMM!  It was so tasty and it kept me going all morning.  What more could you want from a breakfast on the go?

The rest of my meals were pretty run of the mill.  Peanut butter and raspberry jam rollups in whole wheat tortillas with cucumbers and humus for lunch.  Dinner was a mixed green salad with lemon, tater tots and a great veggie patty I found at Andy’s Market called Oregon Harvest Veggi Patti.  These veggie patties are made by Chez Gourmet from Marie and are delicious.  I was really excited to find them and have them as a ready made replacement to my usual black bean burger.

The Oregon Harvest Veggi Patties have all kind of tasty ingredients.  Organic Forbidden Rice, sweet potato, Anasazi beans, carrots, mushrooms, pecans, onions, roasted corn, broccoli and celery just to name a few.  Are you drooling yet?  I am and I just finished eating one.  All of that is available in your freezer section without any animal by products to speak of.  Three cheers for quick and easy dinner solutions!

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Today has been lovely and filled with chocolatey goodness. 

Breakfast was a chocolate covered strawberry smoothie, courtesy Amazing Grass Chocolate Green Super Food.  It was the perfect way to start my morning and sooo simple.  I used two scoops of the super food powder and blenderized it with 3/4 cup of frozen strawberries and 1 cup of rice milk.  The result was a rich chocolate filled delight.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

When I got home from work tonight I was feeling inspired by my chocolate breakfast, so I went about making mini chocolate cupcakes with a semi-sweet chocolate ganche frosting.  Holy vegan decadence!!!  These little guys pack a cocoa filled wallop. 

I found the recipe on Cake Maker to The Stars recipe page and had to try it.  The only thing I changed is that I added a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients.  If you have a love of chocolate, give this recipe a try.

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It is now five days into my veganization and I am loving it!  I have even found a new favorite breakfast and yes, it does involve spinach.   I am completely in love with green smoothies.  I have concocted my own special blend that may end up taking the place of coffee as my reason for waking up in the morning. 

Good Morning Green Smoothie

1 Mango (cubed)

1/2 of  a frozen Banana

1 Orange (juiced)

2/3 cup of spinach or kale

1 tsp. Ground flax

1/3 cup Water

Put it all in the blender and liquefy!  Add more water if you like your smoothies to be a bit thinner.  I don’t add any sweetener when I whip this smoothie up but you could always add a bit of agave nectar if you  like.

In other exciting news, my order from Amazing Grass came today.  I got their Chocolate Green Super Food powder along with some free samples of Wheat Grass Drink Powder, Original Green Super Food and Goji-Acai Green Super Food.  I am looking forward to trying out the Chocolate Green Super Food in the morning and I’m thinking a stawberry-chocolate smoothie may be on the menu.

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Well, it’s official.  Tomorrow is V-day.  For the next year I will cast aside all animal products to embrace a healthier and more compassionate way of life.  I am looking at the coming change with excitement, anticipation and a slight bit of trepidation.  I have the support of family, friends and vegans everywhere.  One of my friends has even signed on to go vegan with me.  I have to admit that I feel much less likely to slip up with her holding me accountable.  

Tomorrow morning promises the start of a new adventure.  It also promises a very tasty smoothie for breakfast.  I am looking forward to my new challenge.  Bring on the veggies!!

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