Thursday, November 18, 2010

Food For Thought

    I suppose if I'm going to be sporadic in posting I should at least make it worth your time when I do write something! So this post is all recipes. Well, mostly! At 20 days into my self-challenge, I ate meat. After a long day week, we went to dinner at a local Thai restaurant and I did not have the motivation or in all honestly the care, to order vegan. Meat sounded good. And it was, no lie. As the weekend went on, I noticed that not a single meal was vegan. And by Sunday, I noticed I felt pretty crummy. Hmmm...
    So Monday morning I decided to get right back to it. However, I'll probably be a little more lenient about it this time. A part-time vegan I suppose. ( "Real" vegans hate that!) Anyway, here are some edibles. 

Sweet Potato Fries
*this makes enough for two people

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into "fries"
1 Tbs. canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 Tbs. potato starch (corn starch might work too but I make no promises)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with potato starch and toss until potatoes are coated.
Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. 
Bake for 10 minutes then stir them so most of are flipped. Bake for another ten minutes or until golden. Check them every couple minutes during the second 10 minutes to make sure they're not burning.

For fry sauce:
A couple spoonfuls of Vegan Mayo, some ketchup and a dash or two of cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Roasted Acorn Squash and Mixed Green Salad

1 acorn squash
Butter or Vegan Margarine (with NO hydrogenated oils!)
Raw sugar
Sea Salt
Chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Coat well with butter or margarine all over the inside and edges of the squash and leave a little extra in the bowl part. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar. Place cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for 55 minutes. About half way through, remove from oven and poke the insides with a fork a few times. After 55 minutes, remove from oven and add walnuts into the "bowl" of the squash. Stir to coat with melted goodness and bake for another 5 minutes.

While it is cooling, shred a couple handfuls of mixed greens and toss with a mixture of 1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar and 1/2 Tbs. fresh Lemon juice. 

Vegan Blueberry Muffins 
with Streusel Topping
*makes 1 dozen or 6 jumbo muffins

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour 
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups plain soy milk
1/4 plus 2 Tbsp. canola oil
6 oz. container plain soy yogurt
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 Tbsp. flour

For streusel:
1/2 cup flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
4 Tbsp. Vegan margarine

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line your muffin pan with paper liners and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix all your dry ingredients. In another bowl mix all the wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, toss blueberries with remaining 2 Tbs. flour and fold into the batter. Fill your muffing tin.
In another small bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and margarine together with a fork, cutting margarine until it becomes a crumbly mixture. Spoon onto batter.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes if using a 12-muffin tin, 30-35 for a 6-muffin tin. Insert a knife or toothpick into a muffin to check for doneness and if necessary cook a bit longer in 4 minute increments. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

I'm a sucker for baked goods so you get a few pictures of these!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I love love stories!

I have a massive list of books I'd like to read in my life and only occasionally do they actually get read. This book was a more recent addition to that list. I'm not quite sure where I stumbled upon it but I am oh so glad I did! I’m a sucker for a good love story and this novel by Ann Brashares was for me, the kind you don’t put down.
It begins with Daniel, who possesses the ability to remember his past lives. He remembers as far back as 541 AD. It was then that he first saw the girl we will know as Lucy. Throughout many subsequent lives, he sees this girl and during some they fall in love. In others they never see each other at all or are very different in age, social status or location. He always lives in hope that he will find her and they will love again. It is a lovely romance that spans over many hundreds of years and Daniel’s determination and endearment is intoxicating.
I’m beginning to debate how much of the story I should tell. Perhaps I will stop here. The story does drag at times but soon enough it gets going again. I was a bit disappointed in the end, only because it seemed so abrupt. There were fewer and fewer pages and the story was in some of its most intense parts. It was almost as though Brashares ran out of time. It was the kind of ending that leaves you begging for more. And sure enough, upon further investigation I learned that there are indeed two more novels planned to complete a trilogy! I highly recommend this book and I sincerely hope the sequels will live up to it.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Oh how easy it is to get behind! This last week has been a whirlwind of school, work, family and of course lots of Vegan cooking! Oh yeah baby, still going strong! Though I have to admit, a couple recipes are definitely not worth sharing. I was having a snack attack a few days ago so we tried some carob chip cookie bar thing. It turned out awful and looked almost as bad. And for some reason, it only now occurs to me that I should have shared a glimpse or two with you. Live and learn. 
So Delicious Ice Cream is now a staple at my house.We've tried Vanilla and Chocolate/Peanut Butter and they are both tasty! 

Chocolate/Peanut Butter is my fave though! It tastes just like Peanut Butter Cups, which, with all the Halloween candy around I had definitely been craving! Speaking of Halloween candy, I am so proud of myself. Any time in the past that I would try to ignore cravings, it usually works for a while but I always end up giving in--and when I do... Watch out! And now, I didn't touch a single thing. I am truly doing something for me and succeeding! I think it has been so easy to give into cravings in the past because I'm "trying to lose weight" which is not only a very vague goal, but also not necessarily something I'm doing for the right reasons. But with this, losing weight is definitely a benefit but I'm doing it for my health, primarily and as a way to challenge myself. It is much easier to say 'No' this way. 
Something new I tried in the last week was eating out. One night was for a friend's birthday at Caffe Molise. They were very accommodating of my requests and took the time to make sure my meal was entirely vegan. I looked at the menu before I went to decide what I could eat. I went with the Gnocchi di Patate and simply requested the cream be omitted from the sauce as well as no cheese on my side salad. Simple! It was a rich and tasty chunky red sauce with fresh basil and pine nuts on top of the warm potato dumplings. So good! And for dessert, though Tiramisu is always tempting, I had a little lemon and raspberry sorbet. Delish! I would definitely recommend this restaurant and plan on going back myself.
On Sunday, my husband and I had a hankering for Mexican food and after driving around for a while only to find everything closed, we settled on La Puente. I asked for fajitas but with no meat, you know, just the veggies. The girl looked at me like I had lost my mind! NO MEAT?! What kind of maniac doesn't eat meat??? And what? No cheese or sour cream either? Ooooookaaaaay....
I got a heaping plate of beautiful and delicious sautéed red and green bell peppers and onions, rice and beans, lettuce, avocado and two fresh, warm tortillas. It was divine! They bring you this amazing hot sauce in a squeeze bottle that I'm guessing is homemade and it was icing on the cake. I am not kidding you-it was fantastic! Unfortunately our meal was cut short by a three year-old's tantrum, ahem, so we boxed it up and took it home and it was just as good as a leftover.
I have truly been surprised again and again at how easy it actually is to be vegan. Like most people, I had always assumed it would be very limited and boring and I was wrong. Especially these days, it seems so many people have food intolerances or special diets which makes a variety of products easier to find and restaurants much more willing to already offer or adapt their menus accordingly. Try it! Even for a day or two. The biggest change is that you have to think a little before you eat, which is never a bad thing. It forces me to slow down and notice what I'm eating and even appreciate it a little more.