Friday, March 23, 2012

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza

I made this today. It was uh-mazing:

Cooking Through a Cookbook

Cooking my way through a cookbook. This is something I've never done. Anyone who knows me and my cooking knows I take after my Dad and rarely cook from recipes. I look at recipes for inspiration then almost always just do it my own way.

But I buy cookbooks thinking *this* cookbook will be different. I love so many of these recipes and will make them! Then I make a few, still looking at all the other yummy recipes and never making them because I'm too busy experimenting with my own cooking.

So I think I am going to do something different and actually cook my way through one of my favorite cookbooks! Now, I may not actually make every single recipe and in order. But I think I will actually plan all of my dinners from it and lunches will be leftovers, maybe an occasional salad or sandwich recipe from the book, and PBJ almost always for the kids haha.

The book I'm speaking of is Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson (take a peek on Amazon). It is a small, accessible little gem of all home made all whole food cheap vegan basics. The idea is you make several staples to have on hand then the recipes come together quickly and cheaply. Home made seitan and peanut sauce is infinitely cheaper home made than store bought, etc. So far, I've loved the few recipes I have tried.

I was getting a little overwhelmed the other day with my current vegan stint because it does require more cooking. I actually love it, but I become obsessed with finding new recipes and cooking when I don't have much time to be doing so since I have kids. But if menu planning is as quick as selecting several recipes, making a few staples on the weekend, then presto dinner on week days, I feel more balanced in life. Plus, Steve can help me since I'll have recipes (he always offers to help but I'm at a loss when I try to explain how I make something off the bat).

Plus, I figure this will be a fun project. I'll occasionally report back on my success. If all goes well it is an inexpensive book that I feel can help a lot of people eat healthy, whole food, inexpensive...and quick once you get in the rhythm...vegan food.

Here it goes.....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Not Cooking

Tonight I have to take the kids somewhere. So fast food it is. Del Taco bean burrito sans cheese is always a safe bet, but since I am going to Beaumont I shall treat myself to real vegan junk fast food: Bakers. Boca burger (no cheese replace sauce with ketchup and mustard) and fries. And done.

I shall have to visit some of their other locations in the Inland Empire that have a "vegetarian" kitchen, complete with TVP tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc. It was started for the Seventh Day Adventist population in Loma Linda. Again, not entirely healthy, but better than the cholesterol laden omni options and still vegan =).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

40 Second Microwave Nooch-o Cheese Sauce for One

So I am resurrecting this blog after nearly a year. As of Monday I am going vegan again for an indefinite amount of time. Perhaps I will blog about my reasons another time.

For now, I start this out right with a not-entirely-healthy recipe. Well, the nooch-o sauce itself isn't too bad, but you must eat it with tortilla chips. What is "nooch" you ask? Nutritional yeast- a vegan staple. Contains (added) B vitamins, especially the essential-in-a-vegan-diet added B12. Also imparts a cheese-like flavor. Mind you, don't expect glorious gooey cheese! It's an acquired taste but does the job.

Serves 1
1 tsp Earth Balance
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 tsp cornstarch
2 TBSP vegan milk of choice (I used Trader Joe's unsweetened coconut milk)
1 TBSP salsa
dash of garlic powder and salt to taste
1 TBSP Daiya shreds (cheese substitute, the pepper jack one is best in this application), optional

Microwave all ingredients except salsa for approximately 40 seconds. Stir well with a fork. Stir in salsa (will also help to cool of mixture a bit as it will be very hot). It will be a little more soupy than real cheese sauce. Add the salt only to taste, I added a bit too much. Serve with tortilla chips! Daiya is totally optional if you don't have it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Menu for the Week

Oh, how I love Trader Joe's and Fresh and Easy! Along with my $5 off coupon at Fresh and Easy I feel like I got a ton of food for $55. Including random snacks and treat foods from TJ's (dark chocolate peanut butter cups, fig cereal bars and honey-mustard pretzel pieces yum yum). I am working a lot again so I haven't had as much time to cook, hence more (healthy-ish) convenience things.

S: Frozen strawberry-Fage 0% Greek Yogurt-soymilk-flaxseed smoothie
L: Peanut butter and honey sandwich on sprouted bread
S: Sesame-tamarai brown rice cake
D: (Steve was out, I had) Trader Joe's green chile-cheese tamal, black beans, carrots and hummus from Fresh and Easy

B: Fresh and Easy whole grain english muffin with almond butter and apple butter
S: Green grapes
L: Organic mac n cheese, peas
S: TJ's granola bar
D: Aloo gobi (curried cauliflower and potatoes), garlic naan, salsa spinach, mango lassi
S: TJ's Lemon Heart Cookies

B: Nicole-out, Steve: Cereal
L: Nicole-out, Steve: leftover whole wheat spaghetti marinara
D: Out- date night

B: (Steve made) eggs in a hole (sprouted grain bread, circle cut in the center and egg cooked in the center), fresh squeezed OJ (enjoying the bounty from my parent's tree)
S: Energy bar
L: Hummus wrap (made with Fresh and Easy's Lemon-Cilantro hummus)
S: Fage 0% yogurt with honey, strawberries and almonds
D: Fettuccini with broccolini, red pepper, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and parmesean
S: Cereal with soymilk

B: Muesli soaked overnight in the fridge with yogurt, oranges
S: Apple with almond butter
L: Veggie loaf sandwiches
S: Carrots and roasted edmame hummus from Fresh and Easy
D: Fish tacos, black beans and rice

B: Blueberry-cornmeal pancakes
L: Warm quinoa salad bowl
D: Lentil sloppy joe's, carrots and celery with TJ's Parmesean Ranch

S: Easter (eat all day with family)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Menu for the Week

This one started on Thursday, just getting around to posting it. We are really trying to save money so since I had a lot of food stored up, I only spent about $20 this week on produce, and the rest was on hand. Even if I were to have bought all of this now, this menu is very cheap...maybe $60 for the week for 2 people. I started shopping at the Grower's Market in Palm Desert again. I learned almost all of their stuff is local, though not organic, so it's right in my budget. I get local red leaf lettuce for .89 cents!

I am not so strictly vegan anymore, vegetarian at home but we eat whatever when we are out. I wasn't noticing I felt any better going 100% vegan than eating simply mostly plant-based. And this is much easier to do, especially considering we are about to have a house-full with 2 kids and we'll have to find things we'll all eat.

B-Cereal with soymilk, toast, orange
L-Annie's Organic Mac n' Cheese (got these on sale for .50 cents each at Ralph's again!), frozen green beans
D-Out (had our last home-study interview)

B-Oatmeal with Earth Balance and sugar
L-Tofurkey sandwich on sprouted wheat bread with Vegenaise, mustard, lettuce and tomato (I left mine at home after I made it! Steve had his haha), pineapple
D-Out (at friend's house)

B-Dutch oven pancake with Earth Balance and maple syrup, eggs over medium
L-Crostini and salad
D-Three-bean loaf w/ BBQ sauce, mashed potatoes, braised kale and leeks (braised in veggie broth)

B-Egg burritos on whole wheat tortillas, grapefruit
L- Out (home church)
D-Veggie burger/veggie corndog, red coleslaw, fruit salad

B-Oatmeal with peanut butter and raisins, orange
L-Bean &cheese burrito on whole wheat tortilla, carrots
D-Korean stir-fried mung bean sprouts, rice

B-Eggs, hashbrowns, orange
L-Mac n' cheese, peas
D-Baked sweet potatoes topped with black bean chili and avocados, salad

B-Oatmeal with soymilk, banana
L-PBJ, carrot sticks
D-Roasted cauliflower (a must try if you don't like steamed cauliflower, it is more like roasted potatoes this way), wild rice pilaf, salad

Snacks this week are: bananas, apple w/almond butter, green smoothies, frozen berry-banana-soymilk-flaxseed smoothies, ants-on-a-log, rice cakes, popcorn, almonds and dates, Tillamook cheddar cheese on Wasa rye crackers, hazelnut dark chocolate, cereal with soymilk, etc.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coachella Valley Green Smoothie

So a couple years ago I discovered the miracle that is green smoothies. I won't post a long piece here about the health benefits of green smoothies, but here is a good link about the idea in general: The basic formula is about 60% fruit to 40% raw greens with a bit of water to make it a desired consistency. It is amazing how green a smoothie can LOOK, but it tastes so much like sweet, delicious fruit.

I try to have green smoothies at least a couple times per week, though daily is a great idea. I developed this recipe utilizing our local, seasonal fruits: grapefruit, dates and avocado. The intense sweetness of dates perfectly compliments the bitterness of the grapefruit, and the avocado adds creaminess and of course we are all aware how good for you avocados are. I am amazed how many people here rarely eat dates, and they are our local food. Talk about needing to eat locally!

You can use any leafy greens here (spinach, kale, collard greens, swiss/rainbow chard, etc), spinach is the most mild for beginners. Look for local greens as well, we grow everything here in the Coachella Valley.

Serves 2

2 cups raw leafy greens, washed and rinsed
1 large grapefruit, peeled (don't worry about seeding, you will be blending it thoroughly)
about 6 large dates like Medjools, or 10 smaller dates like Deglet Noors
1/2 avocado (pitted and flesh scooped out)
1 cup water

Blend all thoroughly until very smooth, make take a few minutes depending on your blender. Feel free to add 1-2 ice-cubes if you want it cooler. Also, try starting with fewer dates , you can always add a couple more if it is too bitter for you. For a variation, you can substitute banana or mango for the avocado to add a creamy element which will also make for a sweeter smoothie, but those fruits are not necessarily local for carrying on the local theme.

Consuming right away is best, but I often make it in the AM and store in the fridge or a travel bottle for several hours and have it for a snack later. Consume green smoothies slowly: don't just gulp it. To assimilate the nutrients and digest it better "chew" it slightly (even though it's smooth), mixing it with saliva to stimulate the digestive juices. Sounds a bit odd but you will notice how nutrient dense it is and feel the need to drink it slowly anyways: it takes me an hour to finish one. But it's so worth it.