Tag Archives: Vegan

Weekly Eating – Jan 25 – Feb 7

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

 

Well, sorry about not posting for a week, there’s kind of a bit going on right now… We bought a(nother) house!

The Triangle real estate market is completely out of control right now, houses are on the market for literally a few hours and already contingent. So when the totally perfect gem came along, we had to act fast. I’ll tell that story some other time, but for now just know the next few months are gonna be HECTIC, so, apologies in advance if I slow down and/or disappear for a little while.

Anyways, 2 weekends ago was chill, just grocery shopping and chores around the house. Kiddo had a bit of a hard day with fussing, and also four outfit changes… at least we know he is well hydrated! And then on Sunday, I went for a long hike with my bestie. It is so very good to get outdoors into nature, get some nice workout time in, and spend time just talking about life with people you love.

Sunday night, sister-in-law’s boyfriend was in town so they came over for a few hours to play games and hang out. He works with patients, so he got his vaccine, second one in a few days. This is so so exciting to me, as someone who loves people, to know there’s a light at the end of this year long, lonely tunnel.

And I made a penne bake that was amaaaaazing and actually pretty healthy! The “meat” sauce was tempeh, mushrooms, and onion, but I did cover it in cheese. What can you do with two Italian loving men, ya know?

The following weekend was so great for my soul, because I got a lot of friend time. I went to Costco with some friends to mooch off their membership! We are doing a card churn with Citi to get bonus miles and need to hit a minimum spend. But, to my dismay, I found out in the checkout line that they no longer take American Express, only Visa! Tragic.

I still saved on things we would have bought anyways, but it was a bummer. Bestie also works in healthcare and has both vaccines now, so she was able to come over and play with the baby! It was the first time a non-family person was in the house in… like a year. Which is insane.

And finally, we had a distanced outdoor bonfire with another set of friends who had a baby boy just a few months after us. So it was cool to get to see how big he had gotten, and compare notes. Oh and then we bought a house.

So, anyways, here are 2 weeks worth of meals in review! (Also side note blog is not allowing photos to upload right now… sorry you can’t peek at all the deliciousness, but I’ll figure it out)

Monday:

Breakfast – banana bread with honey butter, then a ham egg and cheese breakfast bagel

Lunch – giant salad, 1 taco and a southwest salad

Snack – roasted chickpeas, and apple/peanut butter

Dinner – creamy mushroom & potato soup, and a homemade burger & fries with grilled mushrooms/onions and bleu cheese, yum!

Tuesday:

Breakfast – breakfast skillet bowl with potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tofu sausage, and peanut butter toast + banana

Lunch – grain bowl with barley, roasted veggies, tofu, and hummus, and roasted veggies salad

Snack – popcorn and nuts

Dinner – leftover pasta bake and garlic bread, and chickpea curry with rice

Wednesday:

Breakfast – peaches & cream oatmeal, and peanut butter toast with fresh blueberries and raspberries

Lunch – giant bagged southwest salad and blueberries, and leftover burger/fries plus steamed broccoli & carrots

Snack – tea & shortbread cookies, and popcorn

Dinner – tofu & chickpea tikka masala, and salmon with roasted root veggies

Thursday:

Breakfast – potato and egg burrito

Today was NC’s first snow, and kiddo’s first snow ever! He was mostly not impressed haha

Snack – shortbread, a clementine, and tea

Lunch – giant salad

Dinner – leftovers

I also got my first Produce Box in a while, they had some great deals on root veggies so now I’ve got beets, sweet potato, carrots, kale, and more.

Friday:

Breakfast – peanut butter toast and a banana, and a green smoothie

Lunch – giant salad with strawberry vinaigrette, and a giant salad with salmon, roasted veggies, and edamame

Snack – kind bar, and apples and crackers

Dinner – burrito bowl with turkey, rice, roasted veggies, salsa, guac, and mushroom soup

The Weekend

Whooo boy, so basically all free time is now thinking about moving, and preparing for moving. I need to find a mountain of boxes, cause we have been burning ours in bonfires (oops) since we had no plans to move so soon. We will have about a 3 week overlap, and hope to have our current house rented out by April 1, wish us luck!

Also having another bonfire with different friends. It’s so great to finally be seeing people again regularly. And so many updates. Marriages, houses, babies, adopting dogs… good to know life is still going on out there. Oh, and the Super Bowl. But it starts at 6:30, we are not about that late night life, so I’ll just find out on the news on Monday who won. #Iwasagrandmabeforebecomingamom

Food Total: $162 + 206

Yikes… and this is without adding the amount spent on wine and formula… A bottle for baby, a bottle for mommy! lol Plus the Costco stockup trip where I got berries, spinach, salad, a pillow sized bag of broccoli, assorted spices, chicken, salmon, and pork chops, and so much more.

Kiddo eats real food, I still feed him 3-4 times per day, and he takes 2-3 bottles as well. We were lucky enough to have a friend gift us several boxes of formula their kid just went cold turkey and stopped drinking, but now that supply is gone. I also lucked out that there was a brand that must be discontinuing soon because it was on clearance, and was a ‘breastfeeding supplement’ anyways, so we are going to try that one and see how he likes it.

There were also just a lot of staples on sale that I took advantage of to restock some supplies. We got canned beans, tomatoes, corn, pasta, sauce, tortillas, granola, oatmeal, bagels, granola bars… along with lots of produce markdowns like $3 off bagged salad mixes and pints of mushrooms for 0.29! Of course now that we are moving in like a month I am kind of regretting the full pantry…

 

Lessons Learned

Opportunity truly is where patience meets action. We have been talking about what we want in our long term house forever, basically since we first moved here almost 5 years ago. We have been stalking the market all along, with alerts set for certain criteria.

A few tempting ones had come along over the years, but none that checked basically every single box like this one. So, when it’s right it’s right! And we gotta just go for it so we don’t miss our chance.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – Jan 17, MLK week

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

 

Over the weekend I made a big batch of falafel patties with chickpeas, fresh turmeric root, flax, and barley. These are a great thing to have for quick sandwiches and wraps. I also made a big batch of roasted chickpeas for snacking, and buffalo cauliflower. And of course a batch of carrot cake muffins!

Oh, and I got the boy hooked on the “tortilla hack” now, he is really good at it! Basically you cut halfway across a tortilla. Put fillings on each quarter, and use cheese or a dip on one end to “seal” it. Fold a quarter up, then over, then over again to create a triangle with all the fillings inside, and fry on both sides until warm and crispy.

Monday:

Breakfast – carrot cake muffins

Lunch – leftover falafel in a wrap with veggies and cashew cream

Snack – roasted chickpeas

Dinner – baked potato with chili and guac and tofu sour cream

Tuesday:

Breakfast – carrot cake muffins & a matcha latte

Lunch – leftover falafel in a wrap with veggies and cashew cream

Snack – choc chip Clif bar

Dinner – oyster mushroom risotto

Snack – popcorn of course, since it was national popcorn day!

Wednesday:

Kiddo had to have a procedure reeeeeeal early, so today was expected to be a sleepy day. I had breakfast sandwiches ready to go so we would have something at least and not have to order food there or on the way.

Breakfast – ham and egg bagels

Lunch – we ended up ordering from a local Italian place. Neither of us had energy to cook and we like to support local. We got the biggest Hawaiian pizza they had, and a veggie calzone for me.

Dinner – while we were ordering anyways we just got both lunch and dinner, so philly sandwiches from the same place

Thursday:

Breakfast – carrot cake muffins

Snack – smoothie with frozen berries, flaxseed, and turmeric

Lunch – beans and rice with salsa

Dinner – leftover veggie calzone

Friday:

Breakfast – a vegan skillet with potatoes, peppers, onions, and these amazing sausage tofu crumbles! It tastes like the real deal.

Lunch – leftover risotto and a salad

Snack – roasted chickpeas

Dinner – haluski, which is noodles and cabbage. It is a Slovak dish, that my family has made and loved for generations. Kiddo was a big fan!

The Weekend

This weekend will be chill, just hanging out at home. A hike on Sunday, and maybe some game time with the sister in law.

Food Total: $79.68

This weekend I journeyed to Li Ming’s global market, my very favorite asian grocery store in the area. Asian diets are extremely healthy, even with the excess of white rice and sodium, because of their focus on fresh veggies, lots of greens, and soy. Which in turn means little or no meats, dairy, and extremely processed junk.

Asian markets are the best place for tons of fresh produce, much of which you cannot find, or if present is very expensive in other supermarkets. For example, I got beets that were almost as big as my head for $2 each, but at Harris Teeter I’d pay $5 for three that together didn’t even weigh as much as one of these monsters.

Staples $22.02 Fruit/Veg $44.11
Chili fermented hot sauce 2.99 turmeric root 4.61
can jackfruit 3 5.37 cabbage 2.17
relax tea 3.99 mushrooms 3.5
silken tofu 2 3.38 cauliflower 2.49
huge pack firm tofu 6.29 napa cabbage 3.38
oysters 2 7.41
bok choi 1.81
edamame 1.99
mini oysters 4
garlic 5 1.99
beets (GIANT) 2 3.59
red onion 1 1.27
purple yam 2.39
sweet potato 2 2.2
zucchini 2 1.31

 

Lessons Learned

It definitely pays to shop around. And it is definitely worth checking out ethnic markets. You never know what delicacies they may have, that are dirt cheap in their home country but way overpriced at your local superstore. Speaking of, it might be about time for a trip to the Indian spice store I love… I’m nearly out of sesame seeds and ginger paste.

 

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Weekly Eating – Jan 10, 2021

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Well, seems like everyone saying “2020 will be over and 2021 will be so great!” made 2021 go, “hold my beer!”

Wed. January 6th, armed Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, apparently to stop the affirmation of Biden as the next President. It’s on Wikipedia already, so there you go. We are living through some pretty historic times. And it seems we’re not done yet.

I don’t have any answers. I’m just getting through one day at a time just like all of you guys. Still processing, still coping, still trying to hold onto hope. All I can say is, keep doing what you need to do to keep you and your loved ones as safe and sane as possible.

Anywhoooo… let’s talk about food!

I had a long stint of not feeling very inspired to cook, I’m sure caused by many factors. Hormones post-partum are no joke people, but that’s a long a$s story for another day. Now I’m finally feeling a little more hopeful, a little more myself, which means a lot more obsessed with food and cooking.

I re-read How Not To Die again, which always reminds me of the million little things I can be doing/eating to be in even better health. My favorite point is ‘eating is a zero sum game’ meaning every thing you put in your mouth, you are choosing not to eat any other of the million things out there. So make the majority of choices good ones.

Oh, we are also on a good workout kick so far! The boy has decided this is the year to focus really hard on optimizing overall health. That means mental and physical, in every way. We are cutting down on caffeine, basically cold turkey stopped alcohol, and doing a veganish couple weeks. Plus workouts every other day. This is always a goal of mine but boy is it a hundred million times easier with a partner on board!

 

Monday:

Breakfast – I made a big batch of hummus over the weekend, and had a crazy idea to put it on toast. So I had toast with hummus and pickled onions, and avocado toast with some strawberries. Pretty great actually. Savory for breakfast works.

Lunch – leftovers from the weekend

Dinner – was planning to make a white bean pasta, but the boy requested the fanciest of dinners… boxed mac n cheese. I can’t say no to that! At least we both had a salad with it.

Snack – yeah, so then I had ice cream. With pecans and caramel sauce, cause go big or go home.

Tuesday:

Breakfast – avocado toast, like a good milennial, with hummus too (basically combined both yesterday’s into one)

Lunch – leftover mac n cheese, a veggie dog, leftover mashed potatoes and green beans

Snack – a peanut Clif bar

Dinner – a fanTAStic curry! I basically simmered 2 diced sweet potatoes, half a head of cauliflower, 1 can chickpeas, 1 can diced tomatoes, and 1 diced onion with turmeric, 1 tbsp garlic paste, and ginger for about an hour. Then I added some cayenne and 1/4 cup of coconut concentrate, and served over rice.

2 walks and 2 HIIT sessions! Boy were my glutes mad about all the squats health people love to do so much.

Wednesday:

Breakfast – super fail… y’all I’m gonna throw myself under the bus here, I tried to make a delicious egg scramble with mushrooms, peppers, and potato… but I saw a can of diced potatoes in the pantry. Figured I should use it. Didn’t check the date.

Guys. It expired in 2017 💀  So… um… that tasted weird, and we threw it out. I had peanut butter toast.

Lunch – leftover curry yum yum

Snack – an apple & orange

Dinner –a bomb Mexi casserole that I posted about on Instagram. Basically bake quinoa and a boatload of beans and veggies, then top with salsa, guac, and vegan queso and sour cream. Mmmmmm

Did a short 15 minute walking video. Leslie is my girl, but Get Fit With Rick is my new favorite to mix it up.

Thursday:

Breakfast – berry oatmeal! I microwaved a handful of mixed berries, some oats, and almond milk. Added some flaxseed and cinnamon, and YUM

Lunch – leftover curry

Dinner – terikayi tempeh stir fry. I used this recipe for the sauce and wow, do not use a full cup of soy sauce! It was salty, even for me, which is saying a lot, and wayyyy too wet.

Snack – I was good in the morning and had homemade hummus with bell peppers, but then in the afternoon the sweet tooth attacked, and I may have allegedly eaten some frozen cookie dough… and also some leftover mac n cheese… hey, I’m still breastfeeding!

More HIIT, because we are gluttons for punishment.

Friday:

Breakfast – everything bagel with cashew cream cheese and cherry butter, yum yum!

Lunch – more leftovers and a salad

Snack – hummus with chips and peppers

Dinner – vegan chili over baked potatoes, with tofu sour cream and avocado! this was super quick and easy in the instant pot.

The Weekend

This is a long weekend thanks to Martin Luther King day on Monday. I didn’t realize until halfway through the week that it was a holiday, so that was a nice little surprise. We will spend the weekend relaxing and catching up on chores.

We are lucky to have an auntie nearby who LOVES kids and is willing to watch the little guy. So he is going to go hang out there while we get stuff done. I’m going to do a big batch cooking day, plus lots of laundry, organizing, finishing the bathroom remodel, and probably taking down Christmas decor (sad face).

Food Total: $88

Did a Harris Teeter run last weekend to re-stock produce and pick up a bunch of necessities for Veganuary like tofu and tempeh. I got some salad, frozen berries, whole grain bread, and lots of flour for my homemade bread and rolls since I was OUT after the holidays. Plus some deli meat in case of emergency for the boy.

Lessons Learned

We are definitely creatures of habit and convenience. In order to make healthy eating as easy as possible, I need to have food ready to go. If it requires much more than put bowl in microwave and heat, there is not a big chance it will happen. Good thing my cooking mojo is back! It definitely makes more and more sense why people eat so much takeout and pre-prepared foods though. Especially with kids, good grief.

 

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

Veganuary: What is it, should I try it?

 

So, if you recall, one of my main health goals for 2019 is to do a Veganuary: one month of eating vegan (with a few caveats). This will  definitely also help kickstart my goal to follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen checklist of healthy foods you should eat every day.

Dr McGregor Daily Dozen

I’ll be drawing inspiration from their website’s many free monthly vegan meal plans, and will try to use their free downloadable template too. (But I’ll probably end up just writing in meals on the whiteboard like I usually do).

Curious to know more? Read on…

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary actually started in 2014 in the UK as a nonprofit. It has since grown by leaps and bounds every year, with more than 250,000 people in 193 countries signing up for 2019.

From their own site: “Veganuary is dedicated to changing public attitudes, while providing all the information and practical support required to make the transition to veganism as easy and enjoyable as possible.”

So, before you start rolling your eyes and saying “I’d DIE without cheese!”, just realize it doesn’t mean you have to never eat those things you love ever again.

Just try one day, one week, without it.

Try ONE plant-based meat or cheese alternative. Try one meatless meal, there are plenty out there. I bet you eat some already without realizing it. Veggie lasagna, a million kinds of soups, salads, curries, tacos, pasta, all kinds of ethnic foods like Ethiopian and dal.

I bet you can make it one week. And then keep going, for one month.

Why should I try vegan for a month?

There are a ton of different reasons why people try or choose a vegetarian or vegan diet. If any of the below things are of concern to you, then give it a go.

Health -it is no secret by now that vegetarian and vegan diets are crazy good for your heart and your health and lowering your cancer risk. I don’t want to belabour the point too much, but whole grains, legumes, and veggies are f*@%ing good for you. Eat them.

Nutrition – today’s industrial, monocropped, chemicalized, carbohydrate-and-corn based “foods” are basically leading to a double pronged epidemic of obesity and malnutrition. Think about how crazy and confusing that is. Meanwhile, plants are jam-packed with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body is so desperately craving, which it uses to maintain blood pressure, rebuild cell walls and proteins, and keep your guts working normally.

Environment – if you think about what it takes to raise an animal to slaughter weight, you realize all the resources that go into it. Tons of food, perhaps literally, that had to be watered and fertilized and processed and trucked to where the animals live. Water, for them. Probably some amount of antibiotics or medications. Several months or possibly years of feed and care.

Then they must be transported to wherever they will be processed, be processed so they use electricity and manpower and machinery, then be packaged up and transported to the store, and finally be transported to your home. So each 1 pound of pork or chicken or beef costs gallons of water and oil and feed. Meanwhile, one pound of raw barley, oats, tomato, beans, or zucchini also takes water and oil, but far far less. A diet heavier in plant products than animal products is easier on the planet with very few exceptions.

Money – any diet can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, depending on how much self control you have at the grocery store and how good your home cooking skills are. Unfortunately, due to demand, it is ususally cheaper to prepare convenience foods with animals, like a $12 salad versus a $8 burger. But it is always cheaper to cook at home, and better for you too. Want to know more about just how you could save nearly $200 a year by trying vegetarian? Read here, here, here, here, and here.

Animals – the industrial scale food production system is horrific. Just watch any documentary like Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, etc. or do some basic internet search. Beaks and teeth and tails cut off, animals crammed into living spaces just inches larger than they are, constant streams of antibiotics and growth hormones just to keep them alive and increase profit per pound, substandard and contaminated feed. Opt out of the industrial system at the very least, and if you eat animals, choose ones that were raised the way nature intended, out in the open on fields of grasses and bugs. Find a Farmers Market near you, there will definitely be people there you can ask.

tomatoes cucumbers and peppers

How do you Veganuary?

One of the New Years’ Goals this year is for the boy and I to do a one month Veganuary. I foresee this not being too tough a challenge, as we already eat a large volume and variety of plant based foods. This will be harder on the boy, without turkey burritos, but I will try my darnedest to make him enjoy it with creative cooking!

We do have some specific caveats to our Veganuary, which is more like a “healthy-foods-only-anuary”, but that’s not as catchy.

  • Animal foods we raise are okay. My quail eggs specifically.
  • Animal foods that meet very strict criteria are okay: basically free range and/or mostly pastured, no added hormones or antibiotics or other non-medically-required chemicals. I.e. the dozen free range chicken eggs a friend gave to us for Christmas.
  • No wasted food. If someone gives us a consumable gift, that can’t be preserved, we will eat it. Like a delicious banana bread loaf.
  • The boy will keep using plain Greek yogurt on burritos and such. Because I don’t want this month to be torture.
  • I will eat honey, dates, and things made with yeast. Because that definition of vegan is too strict for me. I’m in it for the health of it.

And that’s pretty much it! If it is made from or literally is a plant, we will eat it. We are trying to check all the boxes on the Daily Dozen by starting with a smoothie containing frozen berries, flax, and amla powder, with occasional banana or other fruit or almond milk or chia seeds tossed in. Lunch and dinner will be leftovers or a rotation of meals I know we like and new ones we will try together.

Is it too late to start?

No way! Just because it is no longer January 1, you can still start wherever you are.

You don’t even have to commit to a full month if you don’t want to.

Try vegan for one week maybe. Or go all in and do 6 months, it is up to you and your family. But I highly recommend giving it a shot, at least once. Worst case you end up finding new foods you might not have known about before.

Best case?

You feel better than you have in years, you get off all long-term medications, your skin clears up and is radiant, your hair and nails are shiny and strong, and you are as regular as a clock.

What do you have to lose?

 

 

What do you say? Would you try eating more plants?

Vegan Green Goddess Salad Dressing

Remember my Salmon & Couscous salad that I was 100% addicted to for a few weeks last year? During a BOGO sale on salad dressing, I got a bottle of “Green Goddess”. How in the world, as a food blogger and obsessive reader of recipes, have I not heard of this thing prior to then? The world will never know.

The Green Goddess was amazing, perfect in every way. It was creamy, tangy, smooth, and light tasting. It made me feel like a goddess every time I drizzled it on a salad. And then I ran out. I couldn’t find it at the 3 stores I usually go to. So I decided to try to make it myself at home.

And then I read the ingredients.

Corn syrup, xantham gum, colorings, “natural flavor“, sugar, cultured skim milk, dried buttermilk… all kinds of things I’m trying to cut down on, and that I don’t 100% understand but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be eating.

So I went on a quest. A mission of sorts. To re-create a dressing just as tangy, creamy, and satisfying, but with a far less questionable list of ingredients.

Friends, this is the answer.

With a base of avocado and tahini for that rich healthy fat, spinach for that vibrant green color, garlic and green onions for a bit of a spring kick even in the dead of winter, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar for a note of acid, and a sprinkle of salt and dash of honey to balance it all out, this stuff is darn near irresistible.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach or herbs, packed
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (or almond butter)
  • 1/2 tsp honey or sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4-5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste, I used about 1 1/2 tsp

Step 1: In a food processor, chop your garlic, spinach, and onions.

Step 2: Add the avocado, and all your liquids. Whip well, using a spatula to scrape down the sides, until smooth.

Feel free to add the liquids slowly, and add more of the acids or even some plain water to reach your desired consistency and flavor.

The recipe is 100% vegan, but you can also mix in some plain unflavored yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream at approximately a 1:2 ratio for extra creamy flavor, and it tastes pretty radical. Though it is already good enough that I basically want to eat it with a spoon.

The awesome thing about this dressing is that you can customize it to your tastes too. You can easily sub half or all of the spinach for fresh herbs like dill, basil, parsley, or cilantro. The sweetener can be xylitol or stevia, maple syrup or brown rice syrup, or like I used, a flavored honey (whipped lemon, mmm mmm!). If you don’t care for tahini or it’s too expensive for your tastes, try almond butter, sun-butter or peanut butter instead.

The only limit is your imagination!

Plus, not only is this the best dressing of all time on salads, it is also great on wraps, sandwiches, burgers, baked potatoes, chicken, steak and fish. Basically, put it on anything and everything.

 

 

Mushroom & Asparagus Barley Risotto

 

As summer is winding to a close, I am still in denial.  I don’t want to let go of the beautiful unfolding of spring, the delicate greens and fragrant blossoms, the heavy fruits ripening on the vine, the cornucopia of riotous color at the farmer’s market.  Spring and summer make this farm-loving, healthy-cooking, veggie-eating foodaholic girl’s heart sing.

IMG_8532

So when I saw some end of season asparagus and some shiitake mushrooms on sale, I had to nab them.  For a fleeting taste of spring, summer & autumn all rolled into one, this risotto is earthy and vegetal, and completely delicious.

And the best part is, if you use canned mushroom & frozen asparagus you can make this all year round!  A well-stocked fridge/freezer/pantry can bring any season to your plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • Optional add-ins: diced tomato, garlic, onions, spices to taste

IMG_8531

Step 1: Rinse your asparagus and wipe off any dirt from the mushrooms. Dice them into bite-sized pieces.

IMG_8534

Step 2: Put the barley in a pan with 1 cup of stock or water. (This can be vegan if you use vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken stock). Bring to a boil, and then simmer.

IMG_8535

Step 3: Let the barley cook, watching the liquid level. When it gets low, add a few more tbsp of stock and stir. Continue for 20-25 minutes, until barley is chewy and nearly cooked through. Add the diced veggies for the final 5-10 minutes of cooking.

IMG_8536

At this point, you can season to taste, I only used a little garlic salt. This tastes amazing on its own, or you can add any of the option mix ins suggested, or anything else you happen to have laying about.

IMG_8538

This recipe makes about 2 cups worth of risotto, enough for 4 small side dish servings or two full meals.

 

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  • Calories 246.8
  • Total Fat 2.2 g
  • Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.8 g
  • Cholesterol 3.6 mg
  • Sodium 178.2 mg
  • Potassium 399.9 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 49.8 g
  • Dietary Fiber 9.3 g
  • Sugars 3.8 g
  • Protein 9.3 g
  • Vitamin A 4.2 %
  • Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  • Vitamin B-6 15.2 %
  • Vitamin C 8.0 %
  • Vitamin D 0.0 %
  • Vitamin E 3.9 %
  • Calcium 2.6 %
  • Copper 32.9 %
  • Folate 17.0 %
  • Iron 10.8 %
  • Magnesium 13.9 %
  • Manganese 41.1 %
  • Niacin 25.7 %
  • Pantothenic Acid 15.0 %
  • Phosphorus 17.2 %
  • Riboflavin 15.5 %
  • Selenium 44.6 %
  • Thiamin 13.2 %
  • Zinc 12.5 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

 

For those who do not know, late summer is when the garden bounty is rolling in, including tomatoes and herbs like basil. Home gardeners are likely giving away baskets of fresh veggies and herbs to friends, family, and neighbors. Those who know how and have the time & inclination are putting up the excess for the long, cold winter ahead by canning, drying, and freezing.

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I planted a few basil seeds in late April, and had no idea they would take off so well! They were tiny seedlings when I had them in a pot in the window, but when I put them outside they just flourished! Now I have a basil bush just outside my front door. It is wonderfully convenient to just run out and grab a few leaves.

This tomato soup recipe is stunningly simple. Don’t let its simplicity fool you though, it is also amazingly delicious. There is nothing quite so amazing as fresh, local produce simply prepared. Orange goo in a can doesn’t even come close.

With only 3 ingredients, this soup is so easy a five-year-old could probably make it. And, honestly, you don’t even need the basil, you can just make a simple creamy tomato soup by leaving it out. I added it because you can only eat so much pesto in one week. 🙂

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And the final bonus, it is both vegetarian and vegan, as well as gluten free! If you just blended it all, I bet it could be made raw too! It is very healthy, as well as Paleo and Mediterranean. There isn’t a diet I know of on which you cannot eat this soup. If you don’t have or don’t like coconut milk, you can omit it for a regular tomato soup, or use cows milk, almond milk, etc instead.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (6-7 oz)
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Optional: olive oil, salt & pepper

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Step 1: Open the coconut milk and mix it up with a spoon. Pour half into a pot and begin heating. Dice up your tomatoes into quarters and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-12 minutes.

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Step 2: You can stop here if you don’t mind your soup a little chunky and don’t want to add basil, it has a nice rustic texture at this point. Would be great served with some whole-grain bread. But if you want it creamy and smooth, pop it into the blender and give it a whirl.

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Step 3: Add the handful of basil, and blend again.

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(Note: be sure to have the lid on the blender firmly. Otherwise, you end up with a hot, orange mess all over your stove. Not that I would know from experience…)

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Pour your hot, finished creamy tomato soup into 2 bowls, top with sea salt & black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if you like. This makes a little less than 1 quart of soup, and can easily be doubled to use the whole can of coconut milk. Simply add more tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Vegan Banh Mi Bonanza

 

If you love veggies or are looking for a way to get more into your diet, this is a perfect solution. Unlike a typical sandwich containing nitrate-laced and high-sodium sliced deli “meats”, this is a fabulously healthy way to satisfy the most hard-core sandwich craving while doing your body a favor!

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese word for ‘bread’, which was imported by the French during its colonial period. The banh mi is different from the traditional French baguette in that is it made with rice flour as well as wheat flour, typically has a thinner crust, and is ‘airier’ or ‘lighter’. Typically the fillings included meats of all kinds, like pork belly, sausage, pate, pork floss (what even is that?), grilled chicken, canned sardines, meatballs, head cheese, fried eggs, or tofu.

Accompanying vegetables typically include fresh cucumber slices, cilantro (leaves of the coriander plant) and pickled carrots and daikon in shredded form. Common condiments include spicy chili sauce, sliced chilis, mayonnaise, and cheese.

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This particular creation was made using the veggies I most enjoy, and had available. I encourage you to do the same, but also try some new things. If you’ve never had sprouts, give it a shot. Try making your own hummus, it’s super easy! Hummus is also a great way to add extra bulk and protein to vegan meals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large soft hoagie bun
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 large beet
  • 1/4 cup sprouts
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 tbsp hummus (try black bean hummus!)
  • 1-2 romaine leaves and/or spinach
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

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Step 1: In a frying pan, cook thin slices of zucchini until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. (Grilling would also work. Other veggies you could use include: onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, carrot).

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Step 2: On one piece of bread, spread your hummus. (Guacamole would also be delish here). On the other slice, drizzle the olive oil and vinegar, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

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Step 3: Layer all the veggies onto the bread. I roasted my beet in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes then peeled it. You can do this ahead of time, or use canned & drained beets to save time.

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Here it is with the sprouts & sliced avocado. Then just try to mush the two halves together without losing most of the fillings.

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And there you have it! This gigantic, delicious beast tasted AMAZING and kept me full for hours. You would be surprised how easy to put together these are once you have whatever ingredients you want to use, and just how dang tasty they are. For more info and recipe ideas, check out VietWorldKitchen.

 

Avocado Beet Wrap

 

As spring kicks into gear and temperatures climb, we start looking for lighter, cooling dishes. It’s tough to enjoy a beef stew or thick chili when it’s 95 and humid. Luckily spring and summer bring a rotating buffet of delicious seasonal vegetables and fruits.

One of my favorite ways to use fresh produce is in a wrap. You can only have a bowl of salad so many times before it gets old. This way you can still have all the greens and good toppings but in a portable, desk-friendly format. Wraps are easily adaptable to just about any veggie or dip (such as hummus, guacamole, or sriracha ranch).

This wrap packs the healthy fats of avocado, the anti-cancer and inflammation-fighting power of beets, the hydration of cucumber and greens in one fabulous lunch. But feel free to sub in another type of green (spinach, kale, beet greens) or other veggies you have on hand. On average, you should eat about 2 1/2 cups of veggies per day, and a wrap should contain approximately 1 cup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tortilla
  • 1 whole roasted beet (4-5 slices)
  • 1/2 cucumber, skin on if organic
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 head of romaine (or 1/2 c greens)

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Step 1: Cut up your avocado, cucumber, & beets. Spread the greens on the tortilla, top with veggies. Roll up and enjoy!

 

*Some time saver tips:

  • Use canned beets for the slices
  • Pick up pre-cut cucumber from a salad bar
  • Use packaged guac instead of an avocado

Vegan Tofu-Sauerkraut Lettuce Wraps

 

As I’ve been diving into the world of vegan food options, it has made me more creative with my meals, how they are cooked, what is in them, and what I can mix together.

One meal option I have fallen in love with is lettuce wraps. It is just like a taco, only completely gluten-free (depending on what you put inside), no added carbs, and very healthy. You get a dose of greens de facto because of the lettuce leaves, and skip the extra calories and added who-knows-what in the typical tortilla (refined & bleached white flour, leaveners, softeners, added sugar, GMOs, etc etc).

And, like a regular taco, you can put just about anything inside! Wraps are a great catch-all for veggies you need to use up, leftover half-batches of grains, and anything else you can think of. Here I use some of my homemade sauerkraut (which is so mind-blowingly easy to make, and delicious!), fried tofu, and mushrooms as my umami base, then load on top of it cooked rice & black beans, diced avocado & fresh salsa. Ah-maz-ing.

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And the best part is, you can’t really over-eat these! There is so much veggie goodness and nutrition packed into every wrap, you can have three or four, no problem. This recipe makes enough for 4 large wraps.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large outer leaves of romaine (plus more shredded)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu, drained
  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut or raw cabbage
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1 large avocado
  • 4 tbsp salsa of choice

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Step 1: I made my black beans from dried (much cheaper than canned!) by taking 1 cup of beans per 2 cups water and putting them in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. This makes the beans nice and tender and ready to eat. Cook the rice according to package directions.

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Step 2: Drain and press the tofu by placing it on a folded paper towel with another on top. Press firmly, or place a heavy object on top, for a few minutes. Then add the tofu, mushrooms, and sauerkraut to a medium-hot frying pan, and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are moist and browned. Add a tbsp of water or vegetable stock if it dries out at any time.

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Step 3: Assemble the lettuce wraps. Take a large leaf of Romaine or other head lettuce and hold it in the palm of one hand. Add a tbsp or two of rice and cooked beans, then a heap of the cooked tofu-mushroom-sauerkraut mixture.

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Step 4: Add optional toppings like the diced avocado and salsa, or try sliced olives, juilenned carrot, zucchini, or radish, or shredded cheese. You could add nutritional yeast, soy sauce, sriracha, refried beans, or any other taco topping your heart desires.

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Above all, make it your own and enjoy!