Monday, October 19, 2009

Ooooohhh- Curried Butternut Squash & Coconut Milk Soup!

I've been craving some spicy, autumn-y, creamy soup- even though it is still in the 80s where I live... it feels like fall...

I've had some frozen mashed butternut squash in the freezer for a while. Butternut squash is totally in season and this would have been awesome to use fresh squash, but since I had the frozen on hand AND it is such a time saver, I used it.

Here's my recipe:
  • 1 T safflower oil
  • one onion chopped ( I got a bunch of onions for free that someone at work brought in... we get a lot of random local produce around these parts- bonus!)
  • one clove of garlic chopped
  • 2 T fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 c champagne
  • 2- 14 oz cans veg broth
  • 2- 14 oz blocks frozen mashed squash (thawed)
  • 2 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp course kosher salt
  • 1- 14 oz can light organic coconut milk
  • 2 T lemon juice
Heat the oil in a large stock pot. Saute the onion, garlic and ginger until soft- about 5 minutes. Add the curry and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Add the champange and reduce for about a minute. Add the veg broth and stir. Transfer to a large blender and blend until veggies are pureed or mostly pureed. (a tiny bit of texture is fine). Pour back into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the squash, sugar, and salt. Cook 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook 5 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and serve. Add more salt to taste if needed.

Voila! Delicious, easy, perfect-for-autumn soup! I will eat this for days with some hearty whole-grain toast spread with avocado. I might add some diced smoked tofu if I feel like I need a protein boost some days.

You really can't mess this up and the recipe isn't an exact science. You could experiment and add different spices- maybe some cinnamon or cardamon to autumn-it-up even more?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegan Chili & Cornbread Feast!

Vegan chili and cornbread- wins over the Omni every time!

I am not afraid to call myself an awesome chili-maker. I have been making chili for years. I rarely make the same exact recipe twice. My favorite is a three bean version that is a veganized hybrid of a Rachael Ray recipe and a Better Homes & Garden recipe. I'll make that sometime soon now that it is getting cooler around here...

I recently received a cute little print out of a Spicy Tofu Chili recipe from my co-worker and a little packet of Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy. See, the recipe was from the Mrs. Dash website or something. My co-worker knows how I love tofu, so she was sweet enough to print the recipe and give me the right amount of the Mrs. Dash so I wouldn't have to buy a whole bottle for the recipe.

I happened to have all the ingredients yesterday and decided to make it for dinner. (It's a super fast recipe!) I also whipped up a batch of Double-Corn cornbread from my beloved Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (I LOVE that book and it is what I grew up learning to cook from. So many of the recipes are incredibly easy to veganize!) All I did was use EB, soy milk, and egg replacer in place of butter, milk, and eggs...

So my husband and I usually eat different dinners- not just because I don't eat meat and he does- it's mostly because we just have different taste in foods in general. But he loves my chili and cornbread (all the different variations) so he was raring to go when I asked if he wanted to have it for dinner. He ate a big 'ol bowl of chili with chunks of tofu just brazenly obvious! :) I didn't even have to try to hide them, the chili was just THAT good! :) and the corn bread? I'm sure he never even thought there was anything un-traditional about it (even though he subconsciously has to know that there is...). He said, "This corn bread is GOOD." And proceeded to eat about half the 9x12 inch pan of it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mexi-Cabbage & Polenta

I LOVE cabbage. It is my favorite veggie, probably. I eat it almost everyday. I generally buy the pre-shredded 'slaw' mix that also has bits of carrot in it because it is so easy to throw into almost any dish and I really like it heated with BBQ sauce as a taco/burrito/sandwich filling.

So, when I saw that Lindsay of Happy Herbivore had a recipe for Quick Mexican Cabbage, I HAD to make it and it is now a total staple! It is a perfect meal all by itself as it is filled with veggies, beans, and awesome flavors! I made a huge batch of it and had it for dinner and then lunch the next day over sliced, crisped polenta discs. So delish! I have enough left for another meal soon, too.
Here is the Quick Mexican Cabbage in the pot. You can see the cabbage and carrots, black beans, corn...

Here are the (blurry, sorry) polenta discs- they are crisping up in a generous spray of olive oil cooking spray.

And finally, here is the finished product!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bear Mush!

Bear Mush is actually just a cute name for Cream of Wheat. I really like cream of wheat! And I really like that Arrowhead Mills calls their hard red wheat cereal Bear Mush. It cooks up super fast and I can make it the night before and then re-heat at work in the morning. That's what this pic is... Bear Mush with soy milk and golden raisins in a coffee mug- at work. 
I am going to try some recipes a la Chocolate Covered Katie's fancy oatmeals. Check out the link to her adorable blog over to the right. I'm thinking Banana Brulee Bear Mush sounds pretty delish!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Veggie-ism Saves Lives!

I'm taking a break from blogging specifically about food I eat to talk about some AMAZING news I got from my mom today.

Although she is a beautiful 62 year old lady, with gorgeous silvery-platinum hair and hipster glasses, she has struggled with some health problems for a long time. She has suffered from very high (like dangerously high) cholesterol and the medicine she was prescribed for it made her feel like she was "dying". She is also diabetic and has to take medication for that. (those are the two main problems, but there are others...) My grandma died pretty young of diabetes/heart disease related complications, and my mom did not want to end up that way. I think five out of the seven of my mom and her bros and sisses have diabetes.

My mom has experimented with vegetarianism a few times in her life, but never really put her heart into it. Earlier this year she read Eat Right for Your Type, and her type (as is mine) is recommended to eat a nearly vegan diet. She decided to try it and became a vegetarian with vegan aspirations (like me!). She started feeling better. As I started to transition further into veganism, I'd share recipes with her and we also started going to lunch at our (one and only) local vegan restaurant about once a week or so. (she even got my 'very omni' dad to go to their weekend brunch and he's met us there for lunch during the week!)

Then I read Dr. Barnard's Reversing Diabetes, which advocates a vegan diet for reversing diabetes (obviously) and also pretty much every other health condition. After I read it my mom read it. She was convinced even more that she should be completely vegan. (she's not quite there yet, but probably about 90-95%)

So today she had a doctor appointment with her long time doctor- its been about 6-9 months since she last saw him- and guess what??? Her cholesterol is 148!!!!! That is nearly perfect! And before it was so high, even with the medication that her doctor was afraid she was going to die! Her blood sugar levels are very good, not quite 'normal' but better than they have been in years, and she has lost 10 pounds! Way to go MOM!! And all of this is with only about 6 months of a vegetarian diet and about 3 months of a nearly vegan diet.

If my mom isn't proof that eliminating animal products isn't amazing for your health, I don't know what is.

Monday, October 12, 2009

BBQ flavored soft tacos

On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to a three-hour long night class after work. I have about one hour in between work and class so I have to get home, relax for a sec, make dinner, eat, do any homework, chores, etc. and then drive across town to class.

Needless to say, I need a super fast but nutritious dinner on these nights. Almost every Monday and Wednesday I make my BBQ flavored soft tacos. They take about 10 minutes- max! and are soooo yummy, filling, healthy, and low in Weight Watchers points. :)

I start with a light spritz of cooking oil spray and saute a big handful of shredded cabbage and carrots (slaw mix). I add about a half of a nice red or gold bell pepper and let the veggies get crisp-tender. 
Then I add in one or two servings of LiteLife Smart Ground veggie protein crumbles. (I usually get the Mexican Style) Finally, I add about two tablespoons of BBQ sauce and heat through. 

I spoon this delicious mixture into heated tortillas. I LOVE white flour tortillas, but know that I should eat whole wheat or multi-grain more often, so I have one white and one whole wheat... 
It has been almost four hours since I ate these, and I'm still feeling satisfied!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spicy Crusted Tempeh Bake

No post yesterday- I forgot to take a pic of my dinner before class because I cooked it and ate it while I was talking to my mom on the phone! But- it was delicious and simple enough to cook and eat while chatting, so I will definitely post about it soon. It is something I eat regularly.

But tonight, I finally made the Spicy Crusted Tempeh Bake I've been wanting to make for a while. It was good, too. I got a new stove top griddle/grill (it's reversible!), so I made it on that. Here's a photo of the potatoes and the crusted tempeh on the griddle:
I used chile powder, ground thyme and salt as the seasoning for the potatoes and the tempeh. For the tempeh I made some breadcrumbs and mixed in the spices before wetting the slices with water and then coating and placing on the griddle. I sprayed the slices with some olive oil cooking spray to help the crumbs crisp up a little.

The potatoes came out delicious, but the tempeh needed to be finished off in the oven (that is how it was supposed to be cooked- but I wanted to use the griddle so bad!). The tempeh was a little dry, but the flavor was nice. I dipped both the potatoes and the tempeh in BBQ sauce.
Next time I'll probably steam the tempeh first and then follow the recipe more closely, but all in all, for a quick dinner when I was starving after the gym, it was good. I should have had some veggies too, but I forgot till I was already eating it... :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Dinner I *Almost* Made

I was totally going to make a dish called Spicy Crusted Tempeh tonight for dinner that I found on the Weight Watchers website! How awesome is that? They actually have a ton of vegan and vegetarian recipes for WW members. I can't wait to try some of them...

But, I didn't make it because after another long day at work (but I met my tradeshow deadline! yay) and then a banking near-miss with my husband's paycheck (crisis averted- phew!), I decided to go to the gym with my husband to blow off some steam and also because he asked me if I wanted to join him so how could I say no? So I was still planning to make the crusted tempeh, but then David said, "I'm just gonna grab a sub sandwich for dinner" and I was like, "me too, then". :)

So I had a nice big sub on a wheat roll with spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers and lots of pepperocinis (how do you spell that?), and spicy Russian mustard (I added that at home). It was nice to just come home, doctor up my sammy, and sit on the couch and stuff my face!

So another less-than-stellar Mofo post... but I feel way less stressed than yesterday and I think I'm going to shower and then enjoy a glass of champagne while I read the new Lucky magazine and chill on the couch! (and I'll probably make that tempeh recipe on Thursday...)

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Like These...

I have had a crazy stressful day... without going in to too many details, I'm on a crazy deadline at work and also, some jerks at work decided that our resident kitties are causing an odor issue and they have to go, and I could go on. But I won't.

Instead I'm going to talk about my new favorite treat! (sorry this is a bit of a MOFO cop out, as I'm not talking about something fabulous that I made...)

Turtle Mountain's So Delicious Banana Split Mini Sandwiches. They are tiny non-dairy ice cream sandwiches made with coconut milk. They look like Neapolitan sandwiches, but the flavors are strawberry, chocolate and banana! At first I was like, "oh- it is so teensy. I'll have to eat three!" But really, one is enough because they are very rich! You can still taste a hint of coconut in each flavor, which I LOVE! Coconut is one of my favorite things.
They only have 100 calories each (2 Weight Watchers points) ;) and are the perfect end to an evening. When my stressful day is done here in about 3 more hours... I'm going to have one!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Asking for What You Want... Not as Scary as I Thought!

When I go to a restaurant- which is pretty often- I have been hesitant to ask for special changes to menu items to veganize them. I will order something that is already vegan- like a roasted veggie salad or pasta marinara. I have asked for cheese to be left off or a vinaigrette dressing to be subbed for a creamy one, etc., but that had been the extent of special requests, until tonight.

We went to one of my favorite restaurants- a quaint, local Italian place with a live accordion player on Friday nights! I just love it there, but generally order the one item that I didn't have to make many changes to, except ask them to leave off the parmesan. The problem was, this dish is just spaghetti with LOTS of olive oil, a few red pepper flakes and garlic. It is REALLY oily and pretty overpriced for what it is...

So tonight I asked for the thing I always want to order- with a pretty small change- but was kind of afraid to ask for before. The original dish is penne with fresh veggies in Alfredo sauce. I asked for marinara to be subbed for the Alfredo and any and all parmesan or other cheese to be left off. The waiter was like, "no problem!!" And the dish came out perfectly- tasted delicious (I have more than half left over for lunch or dinner tomorrow)- and was such an easy adjustment for the kitchen to make.

I was really proud of myself and now feel more empowered to ask for what I want.

Slaw & Salsa Sammy

I did not start out thinking that my dinner last night would be even remotely blogworthy... but once I put it together it was so pretty and I knew it was gonna taste awesome! So I decided to take a pic.

(Now, just a note about most of my pictures, I used my iPhone so they are sometimes a bit blurry because my hand is not so steady, the color isn't always great, etc. BUT if I am going to take a pic this is the only way it is usually going to happen because I can just quickly email it to myself and then upload to the blog versus plugging in my camera, uploading, etc., so sorry they aren't always great... :)

One of the few fake meats I do enjoy are the Boca Chik'n Patties. Last night I needed a quick and satisfying dinner so I decided to make a sammy. On a toasted Orowheat Multigrain Sandwich Thin (they are like a super thin hamburger bun- but heartier), I layered some warm BBQ flavored coleslaw (shredded cabbage, carrots and BBQ sauce heated up till cabbage is soft), a Boca Chik'n patty, and a couple spoonfuls of mango/papaya salsa. Oy Vey! It was soooo good. Sweet and tangy from the salsa, sweet and tangy from the slaw, and comfort food-y from the patty and bun. I think this might be a new go-to meal-in-a-hurry staple!

(in the back ground of the plate is a toasted tortilla and some black bean dip)

PS- I've met my 5% goal on Weight Watchers! If anyone is interested in learning more about WW and vegan/vegetarianism- just let me know!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

scrambled tofu over polenta- Mexi-style!

I decided to start off Vegan MoFo with a bang! Mexican flavor-inspired brunch!

I have been craving polenta lately, so I thought this would really hit the spot. I made the basic tofu scramble from Vegan Brunch (which uses cumin- my favorite spice- and it definitely can help add a smokey- Mexicany flavor), then spooned it over slices of polenta that I had panfried with just a little cooking spray. I drizzled over a few tablespoons of Trader Joe's roasted tomatillo and yellow pepper salsa and topped with 1/4 of a fresh avocado. The finishing touch was a sprinkle of course kosher salt. This would have been awesome topped off with some vegan sour cream- but I didn't have any on hand and was too hungry to take the time to make any.

It was sooo flavorful, yummy and satisfying! It really did hit the polenta-craving spot. I'll have another polenta dish to share later this week.

Happy World Vegetarian Day, too!