Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Grocery Store Shopping

I admit that I do not like grocery shopping. I hate the cart-jostling, people talking loudly on their cell phones about absolutely nothing, and the loading and unloading of bags. But since I only work part-time and my husband works full-time (and is also taking classes towards a degree), I feel that I should be the one to do the shopping. I try to go right when the store opens because there are less people then. That said, I try to always have running lists for the three places I regularly shop at so I’m in and out in a flash: Trader Joe’s, Hollywood Market, and Nutri-Foods. I usually go every week to one and a half weeks, and rarely more than one store per day. I like to space it out (because I hate to do it in the first place)!

I like Trader Joe’s prices for soy sausage, soy milk, olive oil, beans, cat food, & hamburger buns and the fact that they have lots of organic choices, especially for vegetables & fruit in the wintertime. In the spring/summer/fall seasons, we go every Saturday to the Royal Oak Farmers’ Market for all our produce. Hollywood Market has less expensive frozen convenience foods (such as the Boca products), the Breadsmith & pita breads that I prefer, and the unpopped popcorn. I go to Nutri-Foods for the less pricey tofu, Looza nectars & corn chips, Vegenaise, oatmeal, flaxseed meal, flours, turbinado sugar, agave nectar, carob & organic chocolate chips, cat food, & egg replacer.

Yesterday I wasn’t hungry for dinner but J. was so I made a refried bean recipe (pinto beans, 1/2 cup water, 2 minced garlic cloves, cilantro, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper) from How It All Vegan along with some brown rice and tortillas. Today, along with some of the leftover couscous dish I made the other day we had a Peanut Sesame hummus spread on bread with lettuce, onions, & avocados for lunch. From Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan, it’s a little different from the regular Middle Eastern hummus in that it’s made with organic peanut butter, tamari, olive oil, lime juice, chick peas, agave nectar, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, ginger & a little water to thin it.

I am performing in a flute recital this afternoon so probably will have a light dinner of leftovers later on if I’m hungry.

Oh, and in response to a question someone asked me about why I use turbinado sugar instead of plain old white, it’s because they use animal bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) to whiten the sugar.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Love Bread

You wouldn’t believe how many commercial breads out there have the suspicious ingredient that I so do not want to eat, high fructose corn syrup. When I first became vegan, I couldn’t find any that didn’t have this ingredient. Luckily, I found Breadsmith brand breads. They are located in the Grosse Pointes and deliver delicious artisan breads to local stores, including Hollywood Market in downtown Royal Oak where I shop. My favorite is the French Peasant bread; it has that rich texture but also has grains in it so it’s not all white flour. I also like their Rye and Italian. I usually buy 2 loaves at once and freeze most of it.

Another bread I buy (mostly for sandwiches) is any of the Trader Joe’s brand sprouted breads. These are great fresh or toasted; I especially like to make sandwiches with bean spreads or hummus, lettuce, & either raw onions (LOVE raw onions), cucumber, or avocado slices depending on the season and what’s in the house.

This morning, I woke up and realized that I forgot to make my muesli last night so I had some cinnamon raisin toast instead. I found a great brand in the frozen food section of Hollywood Market (Nutri Foods also sells it) called Food For Life. It’s a sprouted 100% whole grain bread but what’s humorous about the brand is that the package has the Bible verse from Ezekiel 4:19 on the front. I love cinnamon raisin bread and used to buy Pepperidge Farm but after discovering it’s made with white flour and has high fructose corn syrup in it, I needed an alternative. This brand has filled that craving AND it satisfies me. With the Pepperidge Farm brand, I’d be hungry within an hour. I ate breakfast about 3 1/2 hours ago and I’m still not hungry.

I also love pita bread but only the Middle Eastern brand from a Windsor supplier. When I ate at Steve’s Back Room in St. Clair Shores on New Year’s Eve, I discovered that this is the brand they use, too. I like the regular flavor but they also have it in wheat. I love stuffing these with lettuce, avocado, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and the Boca Chik patties with Vegenaise, especially in the summertime. I’ll also lightly warm them in my toaster oven and eat with the buttery spread or peanut butter, like toast.

Finally, while I love tortillas I usually only buy them when I make wrap sandwiches or burritos. As I said before, I only like the unbleached white flour version of these and I buy them from Trader Joe’s as they have a hand-made style I like (it’s the closest to my grandmother’s recipe). Of course, for the very best tortillas, I have to go to Mexican town in Detroit, but I don’t get down there as often as I’d like. I also like the Mission brand that Hollywood Market sells.

As for crackers, I buy the wheat or multigrain ones from Trader Joe’s. I usually only eat crackers as an appetizer, though, or a snack at work with some spread.

Yesterday afternoon, I made the Curried Cashew Couscous from the Vegan Express cookbook. You take 2 cups of water, a bouillon cube, & 1 cup of couscous in a wide skillet or fry pan and bring to a boil, then cover & let stand off the heat for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Then you add 1 cup frozen green peas (thawed first), 2 tablespoons fragrant nut oil (like walnut or flaxseed oil), 1/2 cup raw cashews chopped, 2 scallions thinly sliced (I used onion), 1 tsp grated fresh or jarred ginger (I used 1/4 tsp ground), 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 cup dried cherries, cranberries, OR raisins, & sea salt & pepper to taste. Stir together over low heat for 2-3 minutes. To reheat this, however, you’ll need to add a little more water. We ate it with Boca burgers and it was very good.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

So What Do You Drink?

As a child, I grew up with Coca Cola in my house. It’s the only soft drink my father liked so that’s what my mother bought (she seemed to prefer Pepsi & bought it later but I never cared for it). I actually don’t recall how much I drank but I know that we were never allowed to drink it unless it was with a meal nor during school hours in class as many students are able to do now. We didn’t even have vending machines when I was in school. So when I was on my own I, too, bought Coca Cola. My grandparents never bought brand name pop; I still remember the cans of Big K Tata (my paternal Cuban grandmother) would serve us when we came over for Sunday lunches; on the Mexican side, Faygo & Town Club ruled. Over the years, however, I began to feel it just wasn’t good for me (or my teeth) and so only bought it when I was having guests or to drink in the summer in a tall glass with ice. Since becoming vegan, however, I don’t even crave or miss it. I think it’s a combination of knowing it’s not good for me and also that it just tastes too sweet to me now.

Of course, sometimes you just need some carbonation but, for me, this is usually only in the summer. Instead of pop, I’ll fill a glass with ice and add a 1/2 & 1/2 mix of club soda with any flavor of Looza’s nectar juices, my favorites being peach, apricot, & mango. These are so good. I’ll even make iced tea and put the peach nectar in it as well. Now that it’s winter, however, I haven’t yet had one and it’s really too cold for an iced drink in my opinion.

Needless to say, my drink of choice is water. They say you should drink half of your body weight in ounces every day so for me that’s about 60 oz. I also drink lots of herbal tea in the winter evenings, my favorite brand right now being Stash; I really like their acai berry and apple/cinnamon flavors. I also like hibiscus tea (such as The Mate Factor’s Hibiscus Lime) and, unlike its name, it doesn’t taste flowery but, rather, fruity. I also like chai tea but not the bagged kind (ugh!). I prefer to make it myself. The chai tea at the Inn Season in downtown Royal Oak is the absolute best I have tasted either hot or cold.

My one true vice as far as food & drink though is coffee. I am a coffee snob. American coffee just does not do it for me; it’s too watery and weak! I prefer espresso and drink a latte every morning after my muesli and another after lunch. It’s very strong but I put a little turbinado sugar in it along with my soy milk. My husband found this fair trade company called Cafe Mam and he experiments & buys different kinds by mail. I do not like flavored coffee but he does. To me coffee IS a flavor and there’s no need to mess with it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just a Quick Salad

I was going to write about beverages today but will postpone since I had to make a little something to have with either a sandwich or a Boca burger after my shift at the library. I’m also running a little short on time this morning and I want to allow enough time to get to the library (we’re having another little snowstorm here, of course).

Just as an aside, I’m breaking my own rule about going out at night during the week. I’m kind of weird that way; I like to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning but, in this case, I don’t have to work tomorrow (unless someone calls in sick and then I won’t mind more hours). It’s something I started doing years ago when I had trouble with insomnia, and it has worked. But I don’t anticipate being out that late. I was invited to hear one of my co-workers perform at an open mic night in downtown Ferndale at AJ’s Cafe at 8pm. He had invited me a few weeks ago but I told him to remind me as I would forget (and I did until he reminded me Monday afternoon). I also want to go because he’s a nice person and is one of several people who have been so welcoming to me at the library since I started in October. Compared to the last library I was at, this is a miracle. Sad but true. Add that to the fact that another good friend of his from the library can’t make it and I also just turned down extra hours at the library to go and I am committed. But I am looking forward to it and the unexpected. My husband is also planning to come so it will be a nice date for us.

So, to get to the point (yes, there is one), I made this nice little tasty salad to enjoy later from the Vegan Express cookbook. I made it when a good friend came to visit from Pittsburgh last spring and she really enjoyed it.

Chickpea & Carrot Salad with Parsley & Olives

One 15-16 oz. can chickpeas, drained & rinsed

2 carrots, grated (I just pulse in the food processor)

2-3 scallions (I didn’t have so I used a little less than 1/2 onion, again pulsed in the food processor)

1/2 cup chopped Spanish olives (the yummy ones with the pimientos in them!)

Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

1-2 tbsp. olive oil (I usually use a little more than 1 tbsp)

Sea salt & pepper to taste

Combine all and enjoy. That’s it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cuban & Mexican Food Memories

A comment on my blog yesterday triggered a memory of a dish my grandmother (and then my mother) used to make. It’s call sopita (which I think means “little soup”, sopa=soup, ita=little). My grandmother, who was from Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, would often make it when she baby-sat my brother and I, and I always associate it with her 1940s white kitchen in Delray, Detroit, one with a big old porcelain sink with a riveted dish drainer on one end, and her using the kitchen table as a work surface since the kitchen had no counters at all. Served with fresh buttery homemade tortillas she used to make, it was divine. The ultimate comfort food and perfect for a cold winter day.

This recipe is so easy, doesn’t contain any animal ingredients, and the only change I’ve made to it is to use organic canned tomatoes. It’s a good idea to have everything ready because once the pan is hot, you’re adding things quickly.

You put some vegetable oil in a saucepan (enough to almost coat the entire bottom) and sauté some diced onion (about 1 small or 1/2 of a medium) until translucent. Next, pour some medium or tiny shell pasta in(I use about 2 cups), and lightly brown the pasta on medium low heat. This is what gives it a unique flavor. Stir constantly because you don’t want to burn the pasta. When it’s starting to brown slightly, add a can of diced tomatoes, and enough water to cover the pasta. I can’t work in measurements because I really just eyeball it. The idea is to cook the pasta, but still have enough liquid left over so it’s like soup, not too thick not too thin. I learned from watching my mother and trial and error. Salt to taste. This is best eaten the same day or the next, after that, the pasta absorbs so much of the water I don’t care for it. So I don’t make too much. My husband likes to add basil when he makes it but I hate when he does this and, as I remind him, this is Mexican, not Italian!

Unfortunately, I don’t make many of the foods I grew up with. It’s hard to find plantains plus the only way I like them is as tostones (say toe stone ays), and that requires deep frying them, twice! I hate to add & waste that much oil, plus it makes a mess. (My mom used to save cooking oil in a coffee can, but I just don’t do that). I love a lot of the ingredients that are used in Cuban and Mexican cooking, especially avocados, limes, tortillas (no, I do not like the wheat tortillas out there), black beans, pinto beans, (soy) chorizo, nacho chips, my own salsa, guacamole, and rice (but I no longer use white rice, I use jasmine or basmati instead). I haven’t yet made flan, a rich custard dessert made with sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and sugar. I haven’t looked for a soy version of the condensed milk and I’d probably have to search the web and/or experiment to find a good recipe of this delicious, rich, and very impressive dessert (sort of like crème Brule). I’ve got a lot of other recipes to try out, so I don’t think I’ll be doing this anytime soon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

This morning, before going to the library, I made a red lentil soup with garlic, onions, red lentils, dill, olive oil, 2 vegetable bouillon cubes & salt & pepper. I also tossed in some baby spinach just before serving. I want to mention here that most grocery store bouillon cubes are made with MSG (monosodium glutamate, supposedly a taste “enhancer”). A lot of people may not realize that many people are allergic to MSG, which my husband is and so is my father. Every time we ate out at a restaurant with soups or sauces on the menu or Chinese food, he would invariably get a pounding headache that would often last for days. We finally figured out the problem so now whenever his workplace goes out to eat or orders in, he always asks the restaurant about what meals contain MSG. And a surprising amount of them do.

That said, we only buy Rapunzel brand vegan Vegetable Bouillon cubes from Nutri-Foods. They have three kinds: one with sea salt, one with no salt added, and one with sea salt & herbs. I prefer the first two. I have never made my own vegetable broth but my husband has. Too much trouble for me so I prefer this shortcut to making soup, as I suspect most people do.

I also made some pita bread croutons in the oven. Just take some pita bread, cut up into small squares, & bake for about 10 minutes in the oven. Voila.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What is there left to eat?

I often get this question from non-vegans. If I don’t eat dairy, eggs, or meat, or any of the “hidden” ingredients in many processed foods, baked goods, & even bread, many assume that there is nothing literally left to eat in the entire food world.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, I have expanded my repertoire (to use a musical term) to include many new foods.

I forgot to mention yesterday that we made breakfast muffins, with vegan English muffins from Trader Joe’s—yes, there are eggs or milk in regular commercial English muffins, such as Thomas’. We filled them with sautéed firm tofu cooked in olive oil with salt & pepper and a few slices of Gimme Lean meatless sausage. We buttered them with Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread. A rich breakfast, to be sure, but we only take the time for breakfasts like this on the weekends or on the rare day off together. Delicious!

This morning, my husband made what he always makes on Sunday mornings: pancakes! He always varies the recipe but today they were made with a blend of rye & whole wheat flours, & ground oats, almond oil, egg replacer (available from Nutri Foods or any other health food market), homemade baking powder (made with arrowroot, cream of tartar, & baking soda), salt, turbinado sugar, soy milk, and cooked in Shedd’s Willow Run soy margarine. With real maple syrup, they came out so light and fluffy. I grew up with the boxed processed Aunt Jemima pancake mix; after tasting these, you can never go back. I’d never go back anyway, as Aunt Jemima’s is made with eggs & other processed (old!) ingredients. Homemade pancakes aren’t any more trouble than boxed and they taste much better with fresh ingredients. You’re taking the time to make them anyway, so I don’t think it saves any time.

Finally, before I head off to the library today—yep, the library is open on Sundays, folks—I made a sandwich spread to enjoy later and also for later during the work week. Black bean/artichoke dip is from Sarah Kramer’s The Garden of Vegan and is made with 1 can of black beans, 1 clove garlic, 2tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste, pulsed in a food processor. Then I add marinated artichoke hearts and process it some more. I spread it on sandwiches or crackers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Favorite Vegan (Cook) Books

Every good cook needs some basic cookbooks but when I became vegan, I needed cookbooks that I didn’t have to keep substituting ingredients for. I still use my old Fannie Farmer Cookbook that I’ve had since 1993 for some simple classic recipes (like for the holidays) and trusty measurement conversions, but for everyday recipes, I have discovered a few very useful (and delicious) titles.

Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. This is wonderful for very fast, simple, yet very fresh recipe ideas, including menu ideas & complementary dishes.

How It All Vegan, The Garden of Vegan, and La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. Canadian punk rocker, tattoo artist, and fellow Gen Xer writes with humor and originality; her books are substantial with tons of great recipes.

Vive Le Vegan and Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. Burton’s recipes are delectable, though some of them take more time than the recipes in the above cookbooks. Great for unique and healthy (and tasty!) dessert recipes.

I have an almost funny story associated with the above cookbooks. My next-door neighbor has had cancer twice in 3 years and we often chat over the fence about everything from politics to music. When she found out we were vegan, she asked me for some book suggestions. I gave her the list above and she later told me that she checked them out but felt they were “too much trouble.” Mind you, as she told me this, she dropped her bag of McDonald’s fast food and picked it up again. I had to shake my head later as I thought, having cancer twice isn’t too much trouble? Having a bone marrow transplant isn’t too much trouble? Undergoing chemotherapy isn’t too much trouble? I just don’t understand. She had nothing to lose by giving these cookbooks and the vegan lifestyle a try. Why are some people so reluctant to take their health seriously and understand that what they put inside their bodies affects them, just like drugs do?

Before I became vegan, I read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study. Campbell is a food scientist who grew up on a dairy farm, with the firm belief that dairy is necessary to one’s diet. What he discovered as he conducted studies on the effects of food on health staggered him and his long-held beliefs. This is the single most important book that made me become vegan. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A fun DVD called “Vegan Gal” by Jill Ovnik (a fellow Michigander from the west side of the state) offered simple step-by-step instructions for going vegan, even going so far as to take you through a grocery store, health food store, and restaurant. She has a way of describing veganism that makes it very attractive. And she looks as amazing as she feels!

Finally, Dr. John MacDougall’s books are also a wonderful resource. He became disillusioned with his fellow doctors’ ongoing ineffective treatments for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. He began experimenting with diet on his patients with astounding results. He lectures worldwide and is seen as an almost anathema in his profession. But the patients whose lives he has saved (and changed) are forever grateful.

I didn’t purchase any of these books (except for the cookbooks) but instead, I checked them out of the library. Use your library! Plug over.

So there you have some of my influences and guides for being vegan!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Filling up the refrigerator

Well, since I was running a bit low on some food (and I had the day off), I went to Nutri-Foods (a tiny natural foods market) & Hollywood Market in downtown Royal Oak this afternoon.

Later, I made some fresh homemade salsa. When I was growing up, oddly enough, we rarely ate salsa and corn chips. I think that must be a Tex-Mex thing, not a true Mexican appetizer. Of course, there are so many provinces in Mexico, and my family hails from only two of them, Jalisco and Michoacán. Chips and salsa might be a snack in the other 29 provinces (or states as they call them) of Mexico, though. Who knows?

I’ve never, ever found a canned or jarred salsa that I liked. They always had an odd taste to them; probably stale and old. I have a wonderful recipe from the cooks at Armando’s Mexican Restaurant in Detroit--they are old family friends-- that I now make consisting of organic tomatoes, jalapeno, oregano, 1/2 an onion, clove of garlic, salt & pepper to taste. I pulse it in a food processor and then, when it’s done, I add the juice of a slice of fresh lime. Delicious! Of course, in the summer, I use fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, & oregano from my garden but in the winter I have to settle for canned organic tomatoes, dried oregano, & jarred jalapeno slices. It still tastes good. With crispy salted corn chips, too, of course!

I also made a little bit of dinner since I wasn’t that hungry. I made a very flavor-ful garlic sauce with 4 garlic cloves sautéed in olive oil, then simmered in water, oregano, thyme, Bragg’s (an alternative to soy sauce or tamari), paprika, & a dash of cayenne pepper. When it was done, I added some baby spinach to wilt. Then I tossed it all with some soba noodles. W-O-W! The flavor was incredible. I love Asian noodle dishes of all kinds and this one rivaled any I’ve eaten in a restaurant.

Kitchen Tips

Over the years, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to keep food waste (and thus, wasted money), to a minimum. First of all, I’ll state right now that I absolutely do not have a food budget. I buy good food, not junk, that I prepare fresh almost every day not only because I want to but also because my body is important to me. I grew up in a very ethnic (Hispanic) family of incredible cooks, however, the ingredient choices were very high fat to say the very least. On the Mexican side, we had the refried beans cooked in lard, tamales filled with pork, chicharrones (fried pork rinds—scary stuff!), and lots of melted cheese on everything from tacos and enchiladas to burritos. On the Cuban side, lots of meat (especially pork and chicken), tostones (fried plantains, fried TWICE), and papas fritas (fried potatoes).

I don’t recall a lot of salads or grains growing up. As a child, I hated all vegetables until I was in college. Now I can’t get enough of them. I experiment with all kinds of vegetables (fresh beets, Brussels sprouts, & kale from the Farmer’s Market) and grains (jasmine, basmati, & brown rice, quinoa, millet, bulgur, barley, wheat berries, couscous). As a vegetarian (and before that, when I ate meat), I pretty much ate only bread, meat, potatoes, a lettuce/tomato, cucumber salad, & white rice. That is NOT a varied diet.

So, getting back to the title of this blog entry, when I shop I don’t pay attention to how much I spend. My health is first and foremost in my mind. Family members on both sides are riddled with diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and all kinds of cancers. I truly hope to avoid all of that and eating well is how I think I can do it.

To prevent wasting an entire loaf of bread, I will freeze half a loaf and pull it out later when I need it. If I make too much rice (or any other grain) for a meal, I will toss that grain into salads or soups later in the week. When I get up in the morning, I fill a kettle with the first cold water of the day and then use that water to either water plants or to filter for my own drinking water. Anything I can do to reduce waste I will try to do.

I did make those brownie cookies yesterday afternoon. The recipe was from one of Sarah Kramer’s wonderful vegan cookbooks. The batter came out a bit runny with the first batch so I used the rest of it in cupcakes, and they came out great. I froze the cookies & some of the cupcakes for later and kept out a few to enjoy this week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

For lunch today, along with a fried tofu sandwich (slices of firm tofu fried in dark sesame oil with Bragg’s, served with crisp lettuce, & Dijon mustard on toasted French bread), I made a delicious bean and rice salad. It’s a combination of cold leftover jasmine rice, chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, diced onion, Spanish olives, roasted red peppers, dash of Tabasco sauce, dried cilantro, pinch of cayenne pepper, the juice of one lemon, & tbsp. of red wine vinegar. A great side salad and also one I might consider for future potluck get-togethers.

I’m also planning to make some brownie cookies as soon as I get off this computer and after I practice my flute. Gotta have dessert in the house!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vegan Convenience

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Some days, when I have a few leftovers but not enough for a full meal, or when I’m too tired to cook, I do turn to some processed foods to supplement my meals. My favorites are Boca vegan “burgers”, Boca Chik Patties, Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo, and Gimme Lean Meatless “Sausage.” I cook them up in a variety of ways, cutting up the Chik Patties & stuffing them with salad into a pita bread, mixing the Soy Chorizo with roasted potatoes, or making breakfast sandwiches with the Gimme Lean “sausage” with vegan English muffins & firm tofu.

And, since becoming vegan, I rarely eat three meals a day. I always eat breakfast and lunch is my biggest meal of the day. Some days, I’m still so full from lunch that I’ll just have some fruit and toast with peanut butter later in the evening. Vegan food can be filling if prepared right.

So What DO you eat?

Yesterday I made a white bean hummus, which is made with cannellini beans, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, tahini, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper to taste, & lemon juice. Mixed in the food processor it makes a wonderful sandwich spread or on crackers as an appetizer.

Tonight for dinner J. made a tomato vegetable soup with peas & lentils spiced with curry & turmeric. With homemade baking powder biscuits, it was just the thing on this cold and snowy night after my long day at the library!

I thought I might as well write a little list of some of the snacks I eat whenever I’m hungry between meals, usually only at the library. I rarely eat snacks if I’m home.

  • stovetop popcorn & sea salt
  • crackers/hummus
  • fresh fruit
  • dried fruit with nuts

Just a little bit tides me over.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

Yesterday I made a white bean hummus, which is made with cannellini beans, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, tahini, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper to taste, & lemon juice. Mixed in the food processor it makes a wonderful sandwich spread or on crackers as an appetizer.

Tonight for dinner J. made a tomato vegetable soup with peas & lentils spiced with curry & turmeric. With homemade baking powder biscuits, it was just the thing on this cold and snowy night after my long day at the library!

I thought I might as well write a little list of some of the snacks I eat whenever I’m hungry between meals, usually only at the library. I rarely eat snacks if I’m home.

  • stovetop popcorn & sea salt
  • crackers/hummus
  • fresh fruit
  • dried fruit with nuts

Just a little bit tides me over.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

Well. We can see that I already hate blogging which is why I create zines. Seriously, though, I keep wanting to simplify this process so….here I go again. Rather than list boring menu after menu, I’ll just simply write what dishes I have made when I make something new. Because I RARELY waste food, I eat all my leftovers within the week & just make new things to supplement them.

So, we’ve made in the last week:

* Thin spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce (my husband’s grandmother’s awesome Neapolitan recipe, very old very good!), peas
* “Spicoli” burgers: patties made with brown rice, sautéed onions, garlic, tamari, ketchup, Dijon mustard, sage, thyme, oregano, hemp seed nuts, processed in food processor, then fried until golden brown. Served in pita bread with raw onions, cucumber, & Veganaise and a side of antipasto consisting of artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, & Spanish olives
* Spinach chickpea soup w/ toasted rye bread
* Boca “Chik” patties with lettuce, cucumbers, & onion
* Chickpea “smash”—prepared like canned tuna with chick peas, celery, onions, pickle in a food processor, then mixed with veganaise, dash of mustard, sea salt & pepper, spread on toasted bread, served with a pickle & chips
* Dessert these last few weeks has been chocolate cocoa-covered truffles made with soft tofu, semi-sweet vegan chocolate, & cocoa
* Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, pears, & Clementines

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

So What DO You Eat?!

In the interest of simplicity & my minimalist tendencies, I will state that breakfast Monday-Saturday is almost always muesli with dried fruit, nuts, ground flaxseed, & turbinado sugar, & sometimes a little soy milk, cappuccino with soy milk, & a biscotti (unless I’ve run out of homemade biscotti, then just coffee). On Sundays, we almost always have pancakes of some variety (made with either egg replacer or ground flaxseed as the egg substitute & soy milk), Gimme Lean soy sausage patties, & maple syrup. So I’ll just tell you what I ate the rest of each day!

Jan. 5, 2009

Lunch
Fried tofu sandwich on French Peasant bread w/Veganaise (mayo substitute), lettuce, sliced onions, & cucumbers
Potato chips
Clausen pickle
Cappuccino w/soymilk
Slice of chocolate pate

Snack
Clementine
¼ cup nuts & dried fruit

Dinner
Leftover Cuban sensation dish from day before
Open-faced hummus sandwich on French Peasant bread w/lettuce, onions, & cucumber
Herbal tea
Clementine

Jan. 6, 2009

Lunch
Tabbouleh salad w/carrots, celery, onion, garlic, cucumber, baby spinach & lemon/olive oil dressing w/cayenne pepper, salt, & parsley
Hummus sandwich w/lettuce, onion, & cucumber on sprouted bread
Last slice of chocolate pate
Cappuccino w/soymilk
Clementine

Snack/Dinner (I only get 15 minutes’ break for my 4-9 work shift, so this is an abbreviated dinner)
Leftover Cuban Sensation dish
Clementine
¼ cup nuts & dried fruit

Snack
Stovetop popcorn w/sea salt

Sunday, January 4, 2009

So What DO You Eat?

In response to the most common question vegans ever get, I've decided to write down every meal I eat in 2009 in both this online journal as well as a zine which I'll compile throughout the year.
Most non-vegans ask me this question all the time. Somehow, they think that because I don't eat meat, dairy, or eggs that there is nothing left to eat. They seem to think that I now eat a "limited" diet. (I prefer to call it a lifestyle, but that's beside the point). With the posting of these menus, I hope to show that my "diet" is anything but limited. It's more varied than it ever was, even when I ate meat and when I was a vegetarian still eating dairy!
I decided to go vegan in October 2007 because many family members have very poor health (diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc.). I had not eaten beef or pork since 1990 after I took a health class in college. I continued to eat turkey & chicken but was also very wary of bringing it into my home, handling it, & then cooking it properly. When my husband got food poisoning (campylobacter), I stopped buying chicken & turkey but continued to eat it as a guest with friends & family. In the summer of 2007, I began combining soy milk with my regular milk & gave up meat. Then I read both The China Study by T. Colin Campbell & watched the DVD Vegan-Gal by a local Michigan vegan. Both of those finally convinced me to take the vegan plunge.
I already enjoyed cooking & being vegan does require cooking. But when it's my health at stake, I no longer think of it as a burden but, rather, a necessity to my well-being. I am 40 years old & have never felt better in my entire life. I sleep through the night almost every night, I am not as hungry between meals, I no longer crave sugar (& in fact often reduce it in recipes), take no prescriptions, & not to be gross, but I also eliminate regularly at least 3 times a day, something I never did as a non-vegan.
If people stop to consider that their bodies are affected by the prescriptions they take internally (to supposedly correct problems in their bodies) it stands to reason that the food they put into their bodies also has an effect. Perhaps they will be convinced to change their life. I know I was and am.
Perhaps it will make you reconsider the vegan lifestyle! Happy Reading!

Jan. 1, 2009
Breakfast
Banana Bliss pancakes w/Earth Balance Buttery Spread & Trader Joe's maple syrup
Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo
Cappuccino with soy milk & homemade chocolate almond biscotti

Lunch
Thin spaghetti w/homemade tomato sauce
Green beans
Sautéed eggplant & arugula
Antipasto: pepperoncini, Spanish olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers
Cappuccino w/soy milk
Slice of chocolate pate
Lemon ice

Dinner
Tomato, mushroom, brown rice curry soup
2 slices of Trader Joe's sprouted bread, toasted, with Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 Clementine
Herbal tea

Jan. 2, 2009
Breakfast

Muesli w/dried apricots, ground flaxseed, sliced almonds
Cappuccino w/soymilk
Biscotti
Lunch
Black beans w/polenta
Bowtie pasta w/homemade tomato sauce
Clementine
Cappuccino w/soymilk
1 slice of chocolate pate

Jan. 3, 2009
Breakfast
Muesli w/dried apricots, ground flaxseed, sliced almonds
Cappuccino w/soymilk
Biscotti
Lunch
Sauteed mushrooms & carrots in olive oil w/sea salt/pepper
Leftover polenta w/black beans
Clementine
Cappuccino w/soymilk
1 slice of chocolate pate
Dinner
Bowl of tomato, mushroom curry soup
2 slices of Trader Joe’s sprouted bread, toasted, w/Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Clementine
Herbal tea
Snack
Stove top popcorn w/sea salt

Jan. 4, 2009
Breakfast
Pancakes w/Earth Balance Buttery Spread & Trader Joe’s Maple syrup
2 patties of Gimme Lean Soy sausage
Cappuccino w/soymilk
1 biscotti
Lunch
Romaine lettuce, onions, cucumber salad
Cuban sensation (black beans, jasmine rice, roasted red peppers, w/thyme, sea salt, pepper spices)
Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo
Dinner
Hummus sandwich w/Romaine lettuce & onions on toasted sprouted bread
Bowl of tomato, mushroom curry soup
Herbal tea
Clementine