Thursday, January 13, 2011

What in the World Does a Vegan Eat, Part II,

Well, this might not have been the best week to post my daily diet, but I did warn you that there are almost always curve balls / changes in the plan during the week, and this week is a perfect example. The only thing that isn't likely to change is breakfast, which is almost always toast and smoothie.

Sorry that there are no photos this post. That's a first for me. I tried, I really did. As you will read later in the post, my camera phone died just as I was snapping a picture and then the pictures I took of the Curried Red Lentils just looked gross. I could be more descriptive about just how nasty the pictures looked, but I'll spare you...... If you saw the photos, you'd never make the recipe! I promise to come up with some better shots next time I make them.

Tuesday night was Spin, so dinner was a quick peanut butter and - are you ready for this - cranberry chutney sandwich. Yep. I was out of any kind of jam or jelly, so cranberry chutney it was. And yes, it was YUMMY!

Wednesday was a crazy. It was one of those days at work and I had a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day. I ended up having a veggie sub from Subway with some chips on my way back from my appointment. That was so not worth a picture.

I was too tired to even heat up leftovers, so my ever-so-thoughtful husband took me to my current favorite eatery, Bluegrass Brewing Company for dinner. I always have the same thing - a spinach/walnut burger with homemade chips and cabbage slaw. Oh, and a Raspberry Mead. That burger is definitely photo-worthy, but just as I snapped the picture with my phone's camera, my iPhone died! Really, it did. Yesterday was a hard day.

Today (Thursday) was a bit tamer. Standard breakfast. Lunch was leftovers - Creamy Lasagna Casserole. The longer that stuff sets in the fridge, the better it tastes. Seriously good.

And dinner tonight was Curried Lentils over basmati rice. This is a very quick and easy meal. It's another one that tastes better as leftovers.

Tomorrow's lunches will be leftovers - there are several choices in the fridge. Noodle Soup, the casserole, or tonight's lentils. Paul will have to take both his lunch and dinner with him in the morning since he has Pageant rehearsal tomorrow evening and won't be home til late. While he's gone, I'll get the grocery shopping done for next week, make Wesley's dog food, and update you on what we ate.

Here is the Curried Red Lentils recipe. Like I said, quick, easy, yummy!

1 cup red lentils
1 tbs olive oil
2 veggie bullion cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbs curry powder
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbs cilantro
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
water to cover lentils

Rinse and sort lentils.

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and fry until they pop. Add onion, curry powder, chili powder, and cayenne. Cook until onion is translucent.

Add lentils. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve as is or over rice.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What in the World Does a Vegan Eat, Part I

I've been noticing that most of my readers, at least the ones I get comments from, are non-vegans. Some of you are loyal friends and family, supporting my blogging efforts because you love me, some are health-conscious omnis looking for healthy recipes or who are at least considering the vegan leap, and others are confounded carnivores who just can't figure out why in the world somebody would give up Big Macs and ribeyes for tofu and seitan. So, the idea came to me this morning as I was chopping salad and making seitan for the week that it would be fun to document everything I eat this week. Break it down to how we eat on a daily, meal-by-meal basis.

I am writing this on Sunday, so I hav
e already missed photographing my breakfast and lunch, but that's okay - they are easily described. My breakfast this morning was two slices of cold pizza leftover from game night last night. It was topped with onions, red and green peppers, mushrooms, Field Roast vegan sausage, and Daiya vegan cheese. I will admit that I used pre-made whole wheat organic pizza crusts from Whole Foods. No matter - the pizza was yummy last night and even better cold this morning! Reminded me of my college days......

Lunch was a big ol' salad of mixed baby greens and cucumbers, toasted almonds, flax seeds, and creamy tahini salad dressing. I'll be eating more of this salad later in the week, so I'll take pictures then.

Sunday evening I've already deviated from the plan. I just can't help myself - cooking is my creative outlet! I decided to try a new seitan recipe just for grins. There was a big pot of simmering broth left after I made the seitan and of course I had to use it to make soup!

I added some chopped celery and carrots, some delight soy popcorn chik'n, and 1/2 a package of linguine, broken into thirds, to the leftover broth. That sim
mered for half an hour or so and we had chik'n noodle soup for supper! Once again, the photo will have to wait....

Monday breakfast Had my normal breakfast of toast and smoothie. Toast is nothing exciting to photograph - a couple slices of organic whole wheat bread with some Earth Balance. My smoothie has mango, banana, and collard greens. Paul's breakfast is always a Clif bar and his smoothie.

Monday lunch Had my salad finished before I remembered to take a picture, but here is the Chik'n Noodle Soup I had for lunch today. Paul's lunch today was leftover Creamy Lasagna Casserole that I made on Saturday.

Monday dinner I stuck to the script tonight for dinner. I made my version of VeganDad's Cajun Chickpeas. I ate mine wrapped in whole wheat lavash with a little vegenaise. (The lavash didn't make the photo....) and pan roasted brussels sprouts.

Paul had his on top of some of that yummy salad I made Sunday, along with some raw organic cashews.

I probably won't be posting tomorrow night because it is a Spin night and we won't get home til late. I'll post Tuesday's meals along with Wednesday's.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On the Menu....

It's bugging me that the little corner fruit and veggie market 1/2 mile from my house is closed now. They close on Christmas Eve and don't open again til March. Their produce is really fresh, organic, for the most part, and much cheaper than Whole Foods. My goal for next year (as it was last year, but I blew that one....) is to grow more of our food ourselves. We have some friends who are very generous from their garden, but I really want to do better this year!

Each week I plan my menu - and make my grocery list - on Thursday or Friday. Then I shop on Friday afternoon after work. Okay, I gotta tell the truth. Most of the time, Paul does the shopping for me. His work is much closer to Whole Foods and I get a little wigged out by traffic.

So today I'm posting the menu for the entire week for your reading pleasure. And even though I have planned the menu, that doesn't mean I will stick too closely to it. Seems like there's always at least one curve ball during the week and we end up going out or eating leftovers.

So here is what I plan to make for the week. I'm not saying which day I'll make what, because that always depends on how I feel when I get home from work! Green Smoothies and fresh fruit are on the menu daily, and most main course recipes are served with a green salad or other green veggie.

Creamy Lasagna Casserole
Vegan Pizza with Daiya vegan cheese
Basic Lentil Dahl
Bean and Barley Stew
Cajun Chickpeas (based on this recipe, with a number of changes)
Ethiopian Cabbage

Hopefully I'll find time to follow up on the results of each dish that I actually make. The only thing on this week's menu that I haven't made before is the Ethiopian Cabbage. I'm not worried about how this will turn out, though. Every single ingredient is something we love, so how could it fail?

Each week I try to make one big "pot o' something" that will provide lunches for us to carry through the week. This week it is the Lasagna Casserole. This is loosely based on this vegan lasagna recipe from I have made this as lasagna, but I find that the casserole is much less time consuming and much less messy!

Creamy Lasagna Casserole

16 oz rotini pasta, cooked half as long as pkg directions
1 cup red lentils

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped (or use an 8 oz jar of prepared roasted red peppers)
1 onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
3 large clove garlic, minced

oil, as needed
4 cups tomato pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pkg Daiya mozzarella style vegan cheese

White Sauce
3 tablespoons Earth Balance
2 tablespoons flour, plus more as needed (I used chickpea flour and it works great)
1 tbs nutritional yeast

pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups nondairy milk, divided

I roasted my red peppers on top of the stove this time, directly over open flame. I'd never done it this way before, and I probably won't do it that way again. It was kinda neat and novel, but much messier than the way I usually do it, which is to halve the peppers, remove the seeds, and put them on a baking sheet under the broiler. Which ever way you choose, freshly roasted peppers are delicious and much better than the jarred kind.

r directions on how to roast fresh peppers, go here.

Roast the peppers, place in a paper bag, and set aside to cool.

In a medium sauce pan, cover the red lentils with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. REduce to a simmer and cook until they look mushy.

Cook the rotini per package directions, but only half as long.
drain and set the pasta aside.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add onions, celery, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until onions are translucent.

Peel off the blackened skins and chop the roasted peppers. Add them to the pot.

Add lentils, tomato sauce, and seasonings and stir to combine well. Reduce to a slow simmer, cover, and let cook while you prepare the white sauce.

Put the Earth Balance, flour, and nutritional yeast in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until Earth Balance is melted and the mixture is bubbling. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Whisk in 1 cup of the milk. Continue to whisk gently to mix. When the the mixture is very thick, remove from heat and add the other cup of milk, whisking until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Add the prepared pasta to the tomato sauce. Stir gently until pasta is even distributed.

Add the entire package of Daiya and again stir gently until cheese is evenly distributed.

Now pour the white sauce over the mixture, once again stirring gently to distribute the sauce throughout the casserole.

Transfer the casserole to a baking dish. You may want to set the whole thing on a cookie sheet to prevent spills in the oven. Mine bubbled over.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the casserole is bubbling. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

The finished product!

Not sure what I'm doing wrong with my camera these days, but my pictures keep
coming out blurry. I'll keep working on it.....

The plan may already be changing. I'm thinking about a creamy pumpkin risotto recipe I saw recently. Stay tuned.....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thanksgiving, Birthday, Christmas, New Years......

Happy New Year!!

I can honestly say that I don't remember getting from Thanksgiving all the way to New Year's Day. It's like I went to sleep on Thanksgiving night and all of a sudden I've awakened on the first day of 2011! It has been a busier time that I can remember in a very, very long time! So here are some ramblings and random photos from the past month......

My Thanksgiving menu turned out very nicely; the pictures didn't turn out at all. Every single one of them were blurry and not fit for publishing. I ended up with way more food that we needed and even after eating leftovers for a week and a half, I ended up throwing stuff out.
Should have thought ahead and frozen stuff.

My birthday was a week after Thanksgiving. We went out with a bunch of friends to my current favorite restaurant - The Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC). As their name indicates, they brew their own beer. My favorite is their Raspberry Mead. They have several vegetarian/vegan selections on their menu. My favorite is their Spinach Burger. It is by far the best vegan burger I have ever had. They make their own fresh potato chips too! YUM! After dinner we went to see a couple of my favorite bands in concert - tobymac and Skillet.

My birthday presents - 2 enameled cast iron pots! I've already used the heck out of them!

Then came some really, really cold and snowy weather. Because of where I work, bad weather during the holiday season most always finds me working yucky hours out in the air park, handling packages and generally making sure that your Christmas packages get sorted, loaded into Big Brown airplanes and Big Brown package cars, so Santa can deliver your gifts on time!

My parents came to visit us from Western North Carolina for Christmas this year, for the first time in about 10 years. They are getting along in years and once they got here I realized that making that trip was not the best idea we've ever had. They are getting quite feeble and Mom had a very tough time managing the stairs. Then came the huge snowstorm and their hometown got a foot of snow. We got enough to call it a white Christmas, but they couldn't leave for a couple extra days and my dad was pacing like a caged cat!

Christmas dinner was a much simpler affair than Thanksgiving. Here is the menu:

Baked Stuffed Manicotti
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Tossed Green Salad
Fresh French Bread
Death By Apple Pie
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Pumpkin Pie

The Christmas table

Christmas Dinner

Death By Apple Pie

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

A huge Christmas surprise from Paul's mom was a pair of tickets to tomorrow's Colts game with the Tennessee Titans. Paul surprised me with this jersey. GO COLTS!!

As soon as my parents left to return to N.C., one of my closest friends' dad became critically ill. We have known for some time that he was terminal but he suddenly went downhill very quickly. He passed away early New Year's Eve morning. Rest in peace, Russ. You are sorely missed, but we know you are pain-free now.

So that brings me to New Year's Day. Our lunch was simple and traditional.

Blackeyed Pea Cakes

Blackeyed Pea Cakes (under the cabbage), Curried Cabbage (minus the broccoli and coconut-sesame paste) garlicky collard greens, mashed potatoes, and cornbread

Sweet Wesley - so calm and laid back.......

So tomorrow we go to Indy for the football game, Monday is Russ' funeral, and Tuesday I go back to work. I've had 2 weeks off but I am more exhausted than if I'd been there the whole time!

I hope 2011 bring every one of you joy, peace, and prosperity! Oh, and in case I forgot - GO COLTS!!