Kindness

Hello There!

I wasn’t sure if I was keeping up with a blog anymore, so that’s why I haven’t been here, among other reasons I’ll share below.

Well, this post has been about a month in the making in my mind. What did I want to talk about after all, was my central question. My father passed away early in April, after a full month of ups and downs and much time spent in the hospital with him. Going right back to my vegan product finds and reviews seemed a little silly, maybe.

Kindness was what I was contemplating. Kindness of many people who helped my parents and my family, with meals, visits, snow shoveling, and countless other things. Kindness that was unknowingly extended to me by people who did not know what I was experiencing. One incident that I clearly recognized as pure, giving kindness at the time was a young guy working at Whole Foods on a depressing, cold Monday morning, during the month preceding my dad’s death. I was down in hope and energy. This young guy insisted on taking my bag out to the car (only one bag and it wasn’t even heavy!). He was so caring and genuinely thoughtful as he conversed with me. The situation with my dad heightened my awareness to the point where, if someone did something rude to me in traffic, I would just think, well, maybe they’re rushing to the hospital to see a family member like me. Another time a doctor, whom I assume is from another land and culture,  made a compassionate and respectful decision that affected my dad’s care one morning when we weren’t there yet and he needed to act immediately.

Kindness came up again in a story I heard on NPR. Then I really knew kindness was on my mind for a reason! They reviewed a book titled Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness and had the author, George Saunders, discuss his “viral” 2013 commencement speech at Syracuse University on kindness. Again,  it struck a chord. The speech is a good reminder of the missed opportunities of kindness we may have encountered in life. Anyone who went through grade school and junior high should be able to relate to the concept. The times we may not have been unkind, but we didn’t act with true kindness either. The times it was too socially “risky” or too much work, or maybe just too unknown. I can find those times in my life, no doubt.

Deciding to be vegetarian, and now vegan, I think I understand, is about kindness for me. It’s absolutely not the only type of kindness shown in the world, but it is right for me. If  you want to know more, I’ve learned a lot about animal welfare through these resources. I recommend the movies Food, Inc. as a non-graphic introduction to animal agriculture and its effects and Vegucated as a more graphic but educational and impactful movie. I learned and was challenged in my thinking by books such as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. However, I think kindness has so many other forms, and I want to appreciate that being vegan or vegetarian is only one example.

I have to laugh when I think of my awesome coworkers, whom are mostly non-vegetarians by the way, and have rescued all types of animals. I could write a book about their adventures. One woman has stopped on the way to work at the edge of our very heavily traveled freeway at least once, but probably more, to grab a stray dog. Another has picked up a cat on the way to work and then called a friend to come get it because she couldn’t leave work. I won’t go into where it stayed until her friend arrived. Birds–I know there is a story, but I can’t remember it. There’s even a story from before I was there about a squirrel living in the ceiling that someone may or may not have been feeding until it could be captured and put outside! And then a few weeks ago, on a day I was off, the glue mouse trap our building manager had set up caught the mouse that was hanging around. My coworkers saw it suffering and decided to take him outside to a field, but couldn’t figure out how to loosen him. One woman happened (could this just be coincidence?) to have a warehouse-sized jug of cooking oil in the trunk of her car from a recent shopping trip and they figured out how to loosen him using the oil and set him free. This was not without disapproval from some superiors, but I so love them for this. I would have been out there too. I don’t ever think I’ll have the courage for some of their acts of kindness (I’m truly afraid to stop at the edge of a freeway unless forced to, for one), but I am thankful for what I can do. It’s not about what I “can’t” eat as I have heard others describe it, but a way to spread kindness in my world.

It is a wonderful world, isn’t it? That’s a reference for my Dad, by the way.

New Year Happenings and Ramblings

It’s been a long time. In addition to life, and a job, I’ve been involved in a time-consuming volunteer project (it ended last week, smile, smile).  I  was also having terrible slowness with my laptop. To the point where I just didn’t want to use it. I love my iPad, but I really prefer the laptop for the blog. Well, thanks to my husband for really cleaning the “gunk” out of this thing. Thanks to his hard work, it finally works like when it was new.

I had been percolating some blog ideas in my mind recently. I wanted to share a recipe that I shared with some relatives over the holidays, which they really liked.

Un-tuna–there are many recipes out there like this one. My favorite happens to not be available on the internet, it’s from Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan. But they are all pretty similar. Basically use the chickpeas (drained and rinsed if using canned), mash them with a fork, mix in vegan mayo (Vegenaise is definitely the best brand in my opinion), add relish, celery, grated carrot, or whatever you like. It’s an easy, delicious, healthy lunch. The protein helps it stay with you for the afternoon.  I usually just put it on any bread I have around, but I’m sure it keeps you full and energized longest if it’s on a whole-grain bread. Sorry for the bad photo-I had put it on Instagram for the vegcookbookclub (this version was from Isa Does It, which I was trying to not mention for one blog post). Oh well, that failed! And I guess I deleted it off my phone after I posted it. My Instagram user name is jules_luvsveg if you are into such things. It’s food pictures with an occasional dog or life picture.

chickpea un tuna

Here’s another vegan, animal-product free discovery I’ve made, and I’m baking it for the third time today. Wacky Cake!! I don’t have a photo, but just picture awesome chocolate cake in your mind.  This chocolate cake is amazing, easy and inexpensive, and  has been around since the 1940′s, when eggs and butter were scarce. I’ll link you to a version of Wacky Cake  (they all vary a tiny bit if you look it up on the web). I will say, the version I have–not on the web–does not require sifting (so skip that!!) and uses 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda. I sprinkle chocolate chips on the top of the cake before I bake it for more goodness. Try those changes for what I hope is perfection.

Another thought I’ve had recently is how thankful I am to be a vegetarian. Well, thanks to lots of news stories like this one lately–VERY thankful!!

And lastly, I think I might be vegan now. I don’t really like labels, but why beat around the bush?  Trust me that was never even in the thought process for me when I started this journey. I had my first round of vegetarianism in my 20′s (let’s just broadly say that’s more than a decade ago to provide some perspective) and did not have any awareness of what vegan was back then. I really don’t think I had much of an ethical thought process behind being vegetarian at that time. It was more of a “wow, I think that would be healthy, definitely ‘cool’ and alternative, and…I do kind of like my cat”. I remember a mention of “strict vegetarian” in my nutrition classes (my first major), but that was about it. I think I must have been in college right before PETA got big on campuses.

When I decided about four years ago I was done forever with meat for ethical and health reasons, I had a complete lack of knowledge about veganism. I truly thought, hey I’m not eating them anymore. I don’t hurt animals when I eat some yogurt, enjoy cheese, or scramble eggs. I will even admit I was a little ticked off when I bought a “vegetarian” cookbook during that period that really was vegan! I had no knowledge or even a bit of awareness about the lives that cows were living to bring me my cheese, living their lives constantly pregnant (artificially) and never getting to be with their babies. And then if you start to learn about the chickens in their horrific conditions…

I have to admit I was open to learning about these things and I did seek out more information as I learned bits and pieces. There’s a lot of information out there, and I took it in slowly and even skeptically, at times. But the conclusion I’ve made is that I just don’t want to be part of it all. I am at peace with knowing that my food choices don’t include animals in the equation. I’m not the type to tell anyone what they have to do. But if you are open to learning about the reasoning behind eating a fully plant-based diet, you just might surprise yourself at where it might take you. I know I am.

Have a great week!

End of 2013~And it’s a wrap! (or maybe a bowl)

Lots to say because I kept putting off making a blog post–for too long I’d say!

Veg Cookbook Club-It’s been a great year to participate, again. I cooked at least one recipe from these 2013 books (remember, you don’t have to buy them all–that would be a fortune and take up a whole lot of space!)…I cooked from Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr and Chad Sarno, How it All Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer , Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Meatless from the kitchens of Martha Stewart, and Isa Does It, also by Isa Chandra. Some I was able to get from the library, and a few I ordered after using the library copy. Britt and the other members usually help you find the recipes that are online in the authors’ blogs and social media, which is nice if you can’t get the book or aren’t sure about buying it without seeing it. Here are my favorites that I have gone back to…

  • Sautéed Chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Everyone I have cooked it for is a fan. Now I think that’s pretty good for non-vegetarians and non-vegans. Ha! They’re eating nutritional yeast in this recipe and loving it.

sauteed chard from Crazy Sexy Kitchen

  • Chickpea Nibbles from How it all Vegan, an easy but so tasty roasted chickpea recipe (although my oven required much less cooking time than hers)…and I know I will get back to the applesauce muffins and some of the other desserts because they’re easy and very good.

chickpea nibbles from How it all Vegan

  • Basic Scrambled Tofu in Vegan Brunch. I’ve yet to try the variations because the basic version is flavorful and filling. Vegan Brunch is very “steady” in its successful recipes. I also liked the pumpkin French toast, pancakes, roasted potatoes, home fries etc. I know I’ll get back to the scone recipe too, which I just tried for the first time this month as VegCookBook Club is cooking from all the 2013 books.
  • My recipe of the year goes to: Pad Thai from Isa Does It. Pad Thai has been a favorite food of mine since I was in my early 20′s. But I hadn’t had any in the 4 years I had been vegetarian. The traditional recipe has fish sauce. Love, love this, and the bonus is that Isa taught me how to make amazing tofu in a cast iron skillet, after all my tofu tribulations…I’ve now made 12 items from this book and feel like I’m just getting started. Love it!

pad thai from Isa Does It

As a follow-up, I wanted to show you my Tofurky Roast from Thanksgiving. We really liked it. I ended up fixing it just for my immediate family. I would certainly have to have gravy, and my usual tons of cranberry sauce. My first attempt at the silky chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction (another Isa Chandra Moskowitz book) was delicious. I’ll use that recipe again and again in the future. I cooked the roast exactly as they suggested, with veggies and basting with a simple baste. The “line” on the roast in the picture is from cutting the casing around the roast open. The second picture was later in the day when it was dark, so it’s not the best.

Tofurky roast with veggies

tofurky roast with silky chickpea gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance

Finally, here are my time saving techniques/props/devices I really put into play this year for more veg cooking:

my counter

I agonized over spending on a Vitamix. I had several useless blenders over the years that could not handle anything. No regrets on buying this. I got the basic 5200 at Costco at a better price than anywhere else.  It has been awesome for making creamy sauces. I’ve made many already from Isa Does It, subbing in sunflower seeds for cashews, and they all comes out beautifully. Of course it makes great smoothies (you can’t even detect a piece of kale or spinach in there), hummus, and salad dressing. Really it makes all my sauces so good!

The Zojirushi rice cooker next to the Vitamix is great for cooking oats (including steel-cut), each morning with the timer, lentils to use in recipes,  and various types of rice. It can cook any grain, but I haven’t tried much variety. Apparently it has smart technology that helps it find the perfect cooking time/moisture levels and adjusts to water temperature, etc. For me, the timer is the best part. Setting the rice on a timer eliminates a step at dinner time and the bowl is super easy to clean out. I’ve used the quick cook rice setting for white rice many times–works in about 30 minutes with no “work” as you focus on the other cooking. I love how it cooks brown rice too–short grain seems to come out better– without any effort. It is helpful to know that this is a true Japanese product and the instructions aren’t the best. I learned a lot by reading comments on Amazon and other internet sources.

The third time-saver is my jar of measuring spoons, 2 complete sets. I finally figured out that when you detach them from the ring,  you end up making less mess as you try to use the same set for wet and dry ingredients. And having two sets means less cleaning along the way. Pretty basic, right?

What were your top recipes or cookbooks of the year?

I wish you the best holiday season, and see you next year!

 

Gardein Holiday Roast

Hello, Happy Saturday–

I saw last week that a few people were visiting my blog because I had written about the Gardein Holiday Roast last year. I was excited to find it in 2012, because it was a newer product and we don’t always get those items here in Ohio. Thank you Whole Foods! I didn’t write much last year about how it turned out except for the last paragraph in this post, which didn’t say much. Sorry that I didn’t get any pictures, but here is the box.

Gardein roast pic2

I thought I’d tell you what I recall, in case you are thinking of buying it this year. I definitely recommend it for a vegan and, of course, a vegetarian Thanksgiving option. I recall it being very enjoyable and easy to make (bake for an hour). I’ve got another one in the freezer for this year. Last year I brought it to my family’s Thanksgiving for anyone who wanted to try it. Everyone who wanted to taste it was surprised to like it as much as they did, it seemed. I was bracing for a negative comment or two and did not get any. I would have eaten more, but wanted to share to anyone who wanted some…I thought the gravy was an essential part to tie it together and bring that creamy, moist mouth-feel to the dish. I added lots of extra cranberry sauce because that is truthfully my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

This year I also bought a Tofurky Vegetarian Roast I found on another trip to Whole Foods. Two vegan options for my two Thanksgiving meals this year. I guess this one has been around a while. I decided to make my own gravy for it, the Silky Chickpea gravy from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (sorry, recipe is not on her blog). I’ve read good things about it. I will try to remember to write it up and take pictures.

I love that when I went to Google images to find an image of this there was a pic of Paul McCartney in a pro-veg T-shirt! Paul is the greatest…

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Cooking Up a Vegan Storm

I’m really enjoying my new cookbook “Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve only had it for two weeks with available time to cook and have made seven things. (OK, it’s eight now, didn’t get this post done before I had to go out of town). For me, that’s a ton. It has helped that my boys’ sports seasons ended. And my exercise routine has become a bit more neglected. I have not had any failures or food that I didn’t want the leftovers from…just filling and tasty dishes.

For me, Isa Does It is working well because it utilizes much of what I have stocked and have been using increasingly over the last few years. Examples are: veggie broth, garlic, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, lentils, rice, and familiar dried spices, but nothing too outlandish. Isa acknowledges (where did I read that?) that moving from NYC to Omaha has helped her realize some of her past recipes had ingredients that were hard to find for many folks.

Here are a few pictures (mine, not hers-just an aside, the book has gorgeous photography):

Pad Thai

Pad Thai from Isa Does It. Oh, how I’ve missed Pad Thai (typically made with fish sauce). Excellent.

olive lentil burgers

Olive-Lentil Burger from Isa Does It

lentil and quinoa stew

Lentil-Quinoa Stew from Isa Does It

curried peanut sauce

Curried Peanut Sauce-in Isa Does It. In the book, the sauce is paired with tofu and kale over rice, but I’d bet it’s good on anything! I used it as a sauce on leftover olive-lentil burgers and with bread dipped into it.

Pizza Bowl

Pizza Bowl from Isa Does It. I had to literally toss it in the bowl to eat it before I had to run out the door, so the photo suffered. Sunflower seeds substituted in for the cashews. This recipe taught me how quickly curly kale can be sautéed in a pan-one full bunch in about 5 minutes. I loved this, especially with the kalamata olives and a little crushed red pepper on top. The pizza taste does come through with the complex flavor of the creamy, kind of cheesy, and tomato and roasted red pepper flavored sauce. It’s hard to describe, really.

I’m not sure what else I can say. I’m a groveling fan of hers, if you couldn’t tell already. This book is beautiful, accessible to humbly-skilled cooks, and will be a classic. I’m learning little tricks along the way that will help on nights when I don’t have time for a full blown recipe. Gold for me.

Have you purchased this book or do you plan to? I’d love to hear what others think. You can follow along and see an outrageous amount of cooking from this book at VegCookBook Club too.

Have a terrific weekend!

**Non-paid review, obviously. She doesn’t know little old me.

Happy Fall!

Oh Gosh, I knew it had been a while since I had done a post. But it’s been way longer than I thought. I had even forgotten that I had changed the look of the blog on the spur of the moment last month!

Here’s what I’ve been doing–

  • I found it!!! My Whole Foods finally has the Daiya brand dairy-free cream cheese. Plant-based though maybe not exactly “health food”, which is ok sometimes.  I’m going to figure out a way to take some with me on several short trips I have coming this fall. A bagel is just not right without cream cheese. I think this has the best “cream cheese” flavor of the non-dairy versions I have tried. It does have just a touch of sweetness, even though the nutrition facts list 0 grams of sugar. I think it’s because of the coconut oil. Daiya products are great for those with food allergies–they say the products are common allergen-free except for coconut (which isn’t that common of an allergy, but it is a tree nut technically).

Daiya cream cheese

  • We adopted a new doggie! He’s a senior dog (I’m guessing about 10 years old), the one who is closer to the camera. We adopted from a rescue group who was notified about this little guy coming into a shelter in June. The shelter knew he was not very adoptable from their perspective, being older, deaf, and visually impaired too. He stayed with a foster mom for about four months. I truly wasn’t actively looking for a new dog, but you know how these things go. Who could resist that face…But yes, he is keeping me so much busier as we figure out how to work around his special needs, bathroom schedule, all that good stuff! I didn’t realize how low maintenance our other dog Charlie is. They make a good pair and are getting along. Benny follows Charlie quite a bit and seems less anxious about what to do when he can follow Charlie. We have a dog with a guide dog.

doggies

  • Fall veggies! I’ve mostly been roasting them in the oven. I think this cooking sheet/tray is an essential for veggie cooking because of the sides. Or maybe just because I’m a klutz! Here is cauliflower, roasted about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. I used a little over 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt, pepper, and garlic powder. It’s so good that I ate about 1/2 the head of cauliflower right away…

roasted cauliflower

  • My favorite cookbook author has a new book–I just received “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. There is such a buzz in the vegetarian/vegan world about this book. I can’t wait to get cooking from it. So far I can just tell you (because I’ve only been able to glance at it!) it’s a very attractively done book and the photos and layout make me want to get cooking. Follow along with the Veg Cookbook Club in November–I’m sure there will be a lot of us cooking like crazy with this one. I plan to jump in and find some new favorite recipes. If you follow the Veg Cookbook Club you get the benefit of seeing others’ pictures and finding out what others liked (or didn’t ). Typically when I’ve tried a recipe others have raved about, it’s been one that I end up loving and adding to my repertoire.

I hope you are enjoying your fall! What have you been cooking?

Julie

More Reasons to Love Chipotle

This will be quick–I was thrilled last night to stop into Chipotle to grab some late dinner for the family after a soccer game and see…the bacon is out of the pinto beans!!! The main sign in the restaurant had not been changed yet, so I checked with the staff on whether the sign down lower on the counter was accurate…they said it was. I’ve been thinking as I stand in line at Chipotle once or so per week about this very possibility (fantasy) but never thought it would happen. More vegetarian options! And hooray for a lot of pigs too! So, here is a pic of my quick dinner. I wanted 2 crispy tacos, but they were down to one. Hence one of each. It was a pleasant and tasty change from my staple black beans I get every time. I wonder if they will put both beans on if I ask? Hmmmmm.

Chipotle tacos with new pinto beans

It’s so easy to eat vegetarian or vegan at Chipotle. I usually get a burrito bowl (no tortilla) with brown rice, black beans, tomato salsa, a touch of the spicier tomatillo salsa and extra lettuce. With the veggie bowl/burrito, you can have free guacamole (yummy, with lots of cilantro) either in a to-go cup or a scoop on the top. It’s an extra cost for guacamole if you are getting meat on your meal. I like guac on the side so I can mix it in evenly or dip some chips in it. So–try the veg options and see what you think! It’s more economical and so awesome.

Now I can only hope we in Ohio get the new sofritas, a spicy tofu option at select Chipotle stores out in western states. Before 2018 that is.

Have you noticed this change at a Chipotle where you live?

Have a great week!

Kale mini-tutorial, traveling, and other “stuff”

I realized something on my vacation a week ago. Eating a plant-based diet is really not so different elsewhere. Elsewhere being anyplace but where I live, in the Ohio heartland. For over a year, I’ve been thinking, “Oh, when I go to glorious ____(insert latest destination), there will be vegan restaurants overflowing my iPhone app, the long awaited Daiya cream cheese I’ve been searching for will be rolling down the street, and it will all be perfect!” Well, I’m sure it can be easier elsewhere, maybe in Portland Oregon, from where I have heard. But I’m thinking that is the quite rare exception, a pinprick on the globe. Things are not so different elsewhere.

Our trip included the gorgeous Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Boulder, and a few other stops. Even in Boulder (which did show a lot of great places on my Happy Cow app), when just walking around looking at restaurant menus, it was like being anywhere else. And still no Daiya cream cheese…My message to myself–stop lamenting how “easy” it is elsewhere. It’s up to each and every one of us to make our food choices happen, whether it’s to be a healthier eater, or vegetarian, or non-processed food eater, non-sugar consumer, etc. Just be coincidence, I’m going out-of-town this weekend with just one child to a soccer tournament in Tennessee. Definitely not Portland. I stocked up on some convenient snacks and foods for us, will be packing a cooler, and I’m going to make this trip my smoothest travel/eating experience yet.

On to kale, I know a few of my followers are considering a more/all plant-based diet (Auntie!!), and may like this tip. I’m so certain that Dinosaur Kale, also called Lacinato Kale, is great for all of us to eat, no matter what our diet is. It has calcium that is well-absorbed (unlike spinach, unfortunately), and it has tons of phytonutrients. So if you are new to it, here is how to cut it up. The pieces can be used for salad, smoothies, sautéed, or cooked into recipes. Here is how I used it in a previous post.

In my experience, you can wash  the leaves before or after the cutting, your choice. This time I cleaned after I trimmed them.

Flip the leaf over to its lighter “back” side. Cut along the full length of the thick middle stem, on both sides of the stem. I like to use the tip of my knife. Place the cut leaves in a pile as shown.

Kale being destemmed

kale is process of being destemmed pic 2

 

When a good-sized pile is ready, cut along the width of the long leaves, producing bite sized pieces.

 

kale in bite sized pieces pic 3

 

 

It’s ready to go! If you still need to wash it, my method is to place the pieces in cold water, swish around, and then pull them out and place into a colander to dry. Use more swishes/bowls of water if it seems dirty or if the kale is not organic. I stored this latest batch for several days in an airtight container. Here is how I used it: I threw a handful into some hot pre-made Butternut squash soup I had purchased at Kroger and let it cook a little while. It was still bit chewy, but made a quick healthy meal. Another day I added a creamy poppy seed salad dressing and topped the salad with my new fave snack, roasted pumpkin seeds. The leaves truly did not seem chewier than spinach to me and it always fills me up a little bit more too. Tomorrow I think I will use the last of the kale in a smoothie.

I follow my friend Diana (Veggie Next Door) on Twitter. She often does a tweet on the weekend about her latest impulse buys at Whole Foods. I love to see what other people succumb to choose at Whole Foods. So here is what I found yesterday that I had not planned on with my carefully crafted meal plan and list for the week:

Whole Foods unplanned buys

Roasted chickpeas snack (saving for the drive on Friday), Rip’s cereal (haven’t tried yet either, sorry), and Teese non-dairy nacho cheese–seems soft so I plan to heat it up and pour on nachos sometime. Drop me a line if you want the report on any of these and I’ll put them in a future blog post.

I bought this, but I had planned on this one:

Daiya pizza

I made this non-dairy/vegan pizza tonight for Meatless Monday. It was awesome. My hubby loved it too–and he’s pretty particular about any type of pizza. When the pizza cravings hit, this is an excellent option for me. It’s even gluten-free, if that’s a concern. It was 9.99, so very similar to a take out pizza.

Have a good week!

Practice Makes (Somewhat) Perfect

Cooking and eating animal-free/plant-based gets easier with practice. Uh, yeah. What in life does not? Whether it is in one’s professional life, learning to drive a car, athletics, trimming a bush, gardening, painting a room… this is a fact.  I just keep plugging away. I want to learn to make this lifestyle easy and I’ve got to win them (family) over with great food. Some days I feel really good, like I can just do this without over-taxing my brain or without a recipe (with simple vegetable dishes for example). I hope it keeps getting easier, and I believe it will.

Here are some things I’ve tried lately, with my typical mixed results:

  • Vegan Biscuits-let’s just say they were dry and I got a lot of ribbing for those. I think I overmixed them.
  • Cauliflower lasagna from Appetite for Reduction (by who else, Isa Chandra Moskowitz). Has a brilliant “ricotta” made from tofu and cooked cauliflower. Very good.
  • Cumin Lime Black Bean Quinoa Salad from Oh She Glows blog
  • Blueberry Cake
  • Peach Crisp
  • Lots of vegetable cooking such as corn on the cob, sautéed kale, summer squashes, broccoli-my veggie delivery has of course has had great fresh produce.

 

Everything was fairly successful, but here is the one that I think is just beautiful and so delicious and healthy, the Cumin Lime Black Bean Quinoa Salad from Oh She Glows (fabulous blog–I will rave again–and an excellent summer dish. This is my photo. The only change I made from the recipe, which you can click to get to, is I added 2 tsp of maple syrup to the dressing instead of 1. I was a little fearful of too much cumin taste, which I like, but just not in large amounts. I don’t know that it was necessary though. It calls for more carrot, but I got tired of trying to julienne them into thin strips. I ordered a julienne peeler, to help with this recipe and I really want to try zucchini “noodles” with it also.

cumin lime black bean quinoa salad from Oh She Glows

Oh, and big news– I finally kicked my diet cola addiction, compulsion, whatever it was, to the curb. I’m not naming a brand name to keep myself out of any trouble, but it’s the main brand that gets the most advertising. Trust me, I don’t think I’m better than anyone else. I drank the stuff for a really, stupidly, excessively, ridiculously long time. I didn’t drink coffee in college, and I thought I needed it to get me through studying…then I guess it was eventually a habit. A habit that I figured wasn’t too bad, at least it wasn’t empty sugar calories and it was ok on the teeth (now this is pretty much proven to not be true). It’s not that hard (this is the new me saying this) to use common sense and see that it is bad for you–most likely the companies just try to use their influence to fight every study that comes out–with the terrible level of acid, phosphoric acid is not good for the bones, and lots of artificial sugar. There are further theories on the sweeteners breaking down into toxic chemicals… I’m not even worried about what I have read being true or untrue, solid-proven with a high confidence level science-or not. I felt like this was a good time for me to say, it’s time to become a grown-up and just get over it. I learned that iced tea has a neutral pH (acid level), whereas my diet cola had a pH level in the 3 range. Each number on the scale, i.e. going from neutral of 7.0 to 6.0 is a 10 fold difference! Oh my. So I am trying to drink different forms of iced tea, with either no sweetener (nearly all the time) or just a touch of stevia if it seems too bitter. It’ s a funny thing-after a few weeks of unsweetened tea, tea with added sugar tastes grossly over-sweetened to me. Who knew the tastes buds could be trained so quickly? I only mention this to inform you, if I could do this, anyone could…

Have a great week!

 

TV Cooking Shows and Other Odds and Ends

Confession: I have spent more hours watching Chopped episodes lately than doing any type of true creative or intricate cooking from my  myriad of cookbooks. I am so hooked on that show, and I really am not much of a TV viewer. I just found it this winter, but now that I know there are maybe 4-5 episodes to DVR every Tuesday, it’s bad…Did you see the episode with the vegan chef in June and all vegetarian ingredients? They did use honey as an ingredient (by accident or design–let’s discuss…), but that wasn’t too serious.  I really don’t enjoy watching them (as in most episodes) use meat, but I just can’t get enough of the drama, the wacky ingredients, and the cooking techniques. We all walk around the house saying I’m going to reduce this, reduce that…we don’t actually boil water around here anymore, we reduce it.

Here’s what I have discovered outside of my Chopped compulsion—

1. I have a serious Isa cooking crush. Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She’s really funny and she makes me want to cook. I finally figured out Twitter this year and her tweets make me laugh. And then I saw the other day she loves Chopped too. So I didn’t feel so bad about liking a non-vegan cooking show, ha ha. A few weeks ago I actually made homemade seitan from her blog, called Post Punk Kitchen. Now keep in mind, I’m probably about as un-punk as they come (except on a rebellious kind of day), and I still feel welcome there–so don’t be afraid to check it out. I don’t know how to describe seitan except to say it is a wheat-based, high protein, cooked “dough” that can be the protein in a dish and sort of be the “meat” substitute.  I used the time-saving tips she included in her Seitan Piccata recipe that I linked to below. I made a common mistake in walking away at one point and boiling the blobs of dough, but overall I think it was supposed to look like this. It had great flavor. I think I will make it again, because I don’t like the looks of seitan in the store packages.

homemade seitan

 

I used the seitan the next night for her Seitan Piccata with greens. It does improve even more when browned/seared in the pan. I wasn’t crazy about the flavor, which I think is due to capers. I think I will try the basic sauce again and use something else–maybe olives? It might be weird in a piccata theme, but I love olives on just about anything. I used some quick cooking rice in a cheater package-recipe suggests mashed potato/cauliflower, which sounds delish. I  didn’t have the time or energy though.

seitan piccata

 

 

2. I can make a good smoothie that is not exactly from someone else’s recipe…I’m sure someone else has thought of this, but here’s a really good one I figured out:

avocado, green organic grapes, lime slice, water, ice, curly kale, 1/2 scoop Vega Vanilla Chai protein powder (vegan), agave syrup-probably not needed but I thought of the Vega powder after this was already in there.

Sorry, I don’t have precise amounts of ingredients, but I can give you a rough idea if you are interested.

green smoothie July 2013

3. Sadly, I have not discovered a new product I so want to try. I am still looking for Daiya brand cream cheese. I love their cheese “wedges”–purchased 3 on my last trip to Whole Foods so I don’t run out–but I can’t believe Whole Foods doesn’t carry the cream cheese here. It really is true, Ohio has to wait for some pretty serious diffusion of anything new to arrive from the East or West Coasts…

Daiya cream cheese pic

Well, I guess it’s available somewhere…picture from Google Images.

Our home renovation project is winding down, so I’m hoping to enjoy summer a little more. A good friend is coming this week from North Carolina with her family and I’m very excited for a trip later in the summer to Colorado, which will include Boulder. I should find some awesome veg eats there!

I hope you are enjoying your summer (or whatever season it may be!).