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No Cooking Zone

My home is seemingly a no cooking zone these days. I have been eating on the go from restaurants a lot (which has got to stop). Not only is that a major weight gainer, but it’s just not easy on the pockets.

School has got me ripping and running so much though (not in a healthy way), that I ‘m too tired to fix my lunches even. Now, I’ve got food going to waste in my fridge. Hopefully not for long though. Since I fad been looking up methods to increase my energy, I stumbled across juicing. I am by no means a V8 kind of girl but I’d like to look into some of the veggie juices that can boost immune strength and energy. Let you know how that goes next time.

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Don’t Worry, I’m Still Vegan & There’s An App For That Too

The last post I wrote-a very long time ago-was about having doubts about what my health might look like down the road eating vegan. It seems that there’s a lot of contradictory information all over the web about it. And currently, I’m still the only person I know that is still vegan so it’s difficult to see anyone who is thriving eating this way. I, myself, catch a cold occasionally that is difficult for me to shake. Much more difficult than the next gal, usually. But, I was like that pre-vegan too so that doesn’t worry me.

I’m not seeing any really horrible health effects from eating vegan at all. And I may be making a small difference in some of the lives I touch. As a surprise, my husband, an omni to the core, took me to Horizons for my birthday. If you’ve never heard of them, Horizons is an excellent vegan restaurant in Philadelphia. If you ask most vegan in the area, it’s the best. It was my first time at an all vegan restaurant-and let me tell you, I know why they say it’s the best! That morning he asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I told him some General Tso’s Tofu from Bamboo House (fine Japanese restaurante in Delaware). That’s where I thought we were going. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the change. The food was delicious! I ordered the tempeh tacos, the beach bake and three different desserts (of which all were fantastic). It was all so good! They have a recipe book that I plan on ordering from them soon. We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the food. But the greatest part of the dinner was when my husband said, “I could see doing this once a week.”

I took some pics from the night but it was a little too dark to get anything really good (as an amateur).

tempehtacos

desserts

bdcandle

It was one of the greatest birthday gifts ever. I’m so desperate for a tempeh taco now I don’t know what to do!

So as far as staying vegan, that’s on the to-do list. As far as staying healthy as a vegan….still working on keeping that together. Fortunately for me, I happen to be an avid Apple iPod user. I have a 1G iPod touch that I use nearly everyday for nearly everything. Usually, if you want to know something or do something, “There’s an app for that.” Right now, I’m anxiously awaiting the update of Obsessive Code’s Food IQ. Food IQ is an application that keeps score of the foods that you eat, the exercises you do, the calories you consume, etc., etc., in one handy app. It works extremely well because the data base is so extensive. But the greatest thing about the update is that the app will now custom track the nutrients you desire. So, you can tailor it to specifically suit your diet-like the vegan diet. I can set it to track protein, calcium, B12, and all the other nutrients that are on the hot topic list for vegans. Becoming vegan just got a whole lot easier!

Finally! Some inspiration.

Well, I have to say, I’m still glad I went vegan. Still pretty much eating the same stuff I was cooking before like red cabbage, shepherd’s pies, tofu dishes, etc. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found a very supportive vegan community yet-online or off. Lately, I have been looking for some inspiration to stay the course. Although I still have flashbacks about the videos I saw, I see these articles about how unhealthy this way of eating is. It scares me a little. So, I’m checking out stuff on Wellsphere to see if I can make sure that I stay healthy on this journey.

Lost in the Sauce

Since I’m stuck in the house with a few cold and flu symptoms today, I figured I’d celebrate this Easter with figuring out how to cook a new dish. Isa’s recipes rarely disappoint me, so I went with it. Here is a new favorite.

tempeh2

To the left of the string beans there are some hot sauce glazed tempeh cutlets. It has taken me a minute to get used to using tempeh. It’s pretty bitter unless it is poached first which tends to extend the cooking time (and when you’re starving, that is heart-wrenching and just too fun). Since I’ve learned how to do this first though, I’ve gotten better results with dishes like spaghetti sauce where I use the tempeh as a meat substitute. But I’m still perfecting the tempeh enchiladas. These little darlings, however, were finger-licking good! And so cute cut into triangles! I swear if I ever met Isa, I would have to sing her a ballad on the spot for dishes like this. So tasty. I love being vegan!

A couple weeks ago, friend of my mother’s asked me did I miss anything since going vegan. I told her besides missing cheese (while there are a couple vegan cheeses that I haven’t tried yet, the ones I have tried have been yuck-city), I am so busy trying new foods, I don’t have a chance to miss anything! I’m finding more and more that where I had thought that there were so many more vegans these days, in this area, I don’t run into too many. So, I generally have to explain myself and this choice nearly every time I’m out with folks and I start appearing to be picky. It’s always a big deal before we get the food. After that though, it’s pretty routine. Still, my husband and I were actually invited to his aunt and uncle’s house for Easter dinner tonight and I’m kind of glad I don’t feel well enough to go. I just don’t feel like explaining veganism to anyone tonight between sneezes. Besides, I’m sure they wouldn’t have changed any cooking methods to suit my choices and I’d wind up passing it all to my husband under the table anyway.

Happy Easter!

Weekend Warrior

So, I had some time to get some food stuffs ready for lunch-packing this week.

sushi1

This was my first attempt at making some sushi rolls. I got the idea to make my own sushi from the Gorging the Apple blog. You can see how she made hers here. I’ve seen a lot of different versions of making sushi. There’s also one in a video by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the PPK. On top of all that wealth of knowledge and inspiration, I’ve got a few books to show me how too. Needless to say, information overload! But I’m of the mind that more knowledge is always better.

One of the reasons I never remember a recipe by heart is because I don’t have that great a memory to begin with. So my sushi rolls were kind of a hodge-podge of all that I’ve read or seen on the subject. I made my sushi rolls by mixing two cups of cooked brown rice with a tablespoon and a half of tahini, enough hot water to make it pasty enough to work through the rice, and a half a teaspoon of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. As best I could, I used some tongs to heat the nori like I had seen on Isa’s show. But I can’t say I was the greatest at it. My first attempt put a hole in the first sheet of nori. But after that, it was all good. I used some chopped up zucchini and portobello mushrooms for the filling and rolled them up with wet fingers to seal them firmly. Not bad for a first try, if I do say so myself. They were delicious with a little more of the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and some wasabi paste. Mmmm…yummy sushi. A little fact I came across somewhere in my readings (don’t ask me where because I haven’t the slightest), wasabi’s spiciness is thought to kill bacteria in foods. That’s a nice little bonus!

I had intended to fix some more banana muffins for my son to eat on the way to school for breakfast this week. But the bananas went bad before I got to them. Since I already had the pans oiled for them, and since I had always wanted to know what zucchini bread tasted like, I made some zucchini bread muffins instead.

zucchinibread1

The original recipe comes from Vegan Planet. But, of course, since I didn’t have ALL of the ingredients (another reason why it’s no good for me to memorize a recipe), I just substituted what I had and completely omitted what I had no way of subbing. So, there’s no ginger or sesame seeds in this recipe-yeah, the cupboards need to be restocked in a BIG way. I think the bread is probably a little sweeter than it should be because I used the rest of the almond milk rather than opening a brand new carton of soy (I’m married to an accountant, what do you expect?). And I subbed whole wheat pastry flour. I think it makes them a little heavier than what zucchini bread should be like, but, after a quick thirty second heat up in the microwave, I don’t mind it much. The cupcake-sized portions make it difficult for me to feel so guilty eating them. But, they’re pretty tasty. I like them even better with a little pat of Earth Balance Buttery Spread. I don’t think my son will eat them though. He took one look and said, “Oh, herbal muffins…” Well, there’s hope yet. He did try a sushi roll so, I won’t take him out of the will yet.

In the meantime, it has been a little difficult getting around the kitchen effortlessly without having to lock up the Doodlebug. She started at a new school for autistic children within the last couple months after having been assessed as autistic. She has already made a lot of progress. Still, trying to watch her and cook at the same time is a little challenging to say the least. Between her dumping spices and herbs down the drain (today it was the chives) and trying to put away the dishes she grabs from off the counter (which would actually be pretty sweet and very helpful, 1) if they were clean first, and 2) if I wasn’t using them), it’s all I can do to not get my hair in the food from pulling it out trying to keep an eye on her too. It’s really not much better letting her run around in the other rooms either since I have to run back and forth between the kitchen and trying to find her in the house. Nothing is more scarier than a very mischievous child who’s suddenly very quiet (or out of earshot for any length of time). And lately, I’ve been finding myself thinking more and more about what will happen to her should anything happen to me and her father (God forbid). It has been a really sobering couple of months. I’m still believing God for the very best with her though. So, there’s still hope on that front too. In fact, she just used the potty two days in a row! She isn’t asking for it. But she isn’t opposed anymore to going in it. She’s even calling her brother by name too. So, I believe my prayers are being heard, thankfully.

Well, tomorrow I have to get out of the kitchen and back to cleaning the house and getting some work done for school. Sigh…I’m sleepy already.

A Confession to Make

I must confess. I haven’t been late night snacking. No…I have been late night eating. I had put on four pounds in the past few weeks. It didn’t help that I was also eating out a lot-and not getting to the gym as much or for as long when I was able to go. I was eating so much, I was so heavy going the gym that when I did get there, I really wasn’t able to endure quite as long on the treadmill. So, this past week, I stopped the late night eating and if I couldn’t cook from home, I grabbed something quick to fix from the market (like a salad in a bag or a Smart Chili or something like that). I put a fruit basket in my studio and also a basket to hold some wheat bread. And because I was so exhausted after school these days, I got a panini maker. Best piece of cookware I’ve bought in a long time! Voila! Now I can cook something quick at home-and it tastes good too!

panini

I made this panini using a Calphalon Panini Maker. I lightly oiled the pan with some olive oil and heated it up with medium heat. While the pan was heating, I sautéed and seasoned a few slices of portobello mushrooms, some slices of green, red, and yellow pepper, and some slices of green and yellow zucchini squash. I could have used the Panini Maker for that too, but it’s so new and shiny right now, it’s like almost sacred. Yeah, I’m weird that way. Anyway, I mixed a tablespoon and a half of tahini with two teaspoons of basalmic vinegar and spread that on some hearty slices of wheat bread. I assembled the sandwich, added some salt, pepper, and some nutritional yeast to make it a little cheesy tasting. I lightly oiled both sides of the bread with olive oil. Then I browned and pressed both sides in the Panini Maker. It was super yummy!! These take no more than fifteen minutes to assemble (including a veggie sauté) and less than ten minutes to make into a panini. The one drawback is I can’t put it in the dishwasher. But it only takes a few minutes. Then I’m eating vegan and off to getting on with the rest of my night…which these days includes a lot of sleeping when I can get it.

Boscov’s has these Panini Maker’s on sale in my area. Originally, they are $110. I got it for $49.99. Sweet! It works perfectly and browns evenly. I liked it so much I bought an electric panini maker for my studio. The paninis from it aren’t the greatest, but they’re healthier than going to get take-out on campus everyday.

To make a long story short, I lost those four pounds in one week by reversing those bad habits. Not a bad return for some small adjustments. It’s hard trying to stay fit, stay in school, and be a vegan. These are the ways I cope. Hey, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.

Burrito Anyone?

We just installed our show in Philadelphia and this weekend I decided to spend some time at home to make myself a small congratulatory meal.

everythingburrito

I call this masterpiece of veganny goodness an Everything Burrito. Why? Because I’ve been really feelin’ this Mexican food lately. If it’s wrapped in some kind of tortilla, I’m eatin’ it. Guacamole? Spread it on. Salsa? Hand it over. Beans? More please. My favorite place for this stuff on campus is a Mexican Grill joint called Santa Fe. They have a veggie burrito that is amazingly good and super-duper HUGE. But I can never get a wheat tortilla there in the afternoons when I’m able to go and the white tortillas just ruin my diet altogether. So, for my own burrito, I used white kidney beans, some refried beans, some salsa, some basmati rice (I had some left over to get rid of), some Holy Guacamole, and just to make it interesting, I crumbled some Tostitos Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips in the mix right before folding a 100% wheat tortilla around the whole shabang. It was delicious!! And don’t let the picture fool you. I ate about three of those things! And for the best part…I made enough to last a few more days so I can eat vegan on the go!! I am simply awesome, lol!

The next thing I need to learn how to make is that amazing General Tso’s Tofu I get from Bamboo House. That stuff is finger-licking good. Forgive the reference to the colonel.