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Archive for September, 2010

Bento #1

This is a pre-vegetarian/vegan bento.  I made this before I went Vegan.

I thought it would be fun to try Bento lunch boxes.  I would have more variety in my meals, smaller portions, and hopefully more vegetables!  In the pictures below, I used the food on the left for lunch and snack, and I split the salad on the right over two days.

On the left:

  • Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook meatloaf and chickpea sauce
  • apple and cheddar chunks on toothpicks
  • carrots

On the right:

  • romaine lettuce and shredded cheddar
  • deli turkey
  • avocado
  • (I planned to add ranch dressing when I ate the salad)

I used the lunch containers I already had at home, instead of Bento boxes.  I also used large silicone cups.  They’re washable and flexible.

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As I delved into eating vegetarian/vegan meals, this was the first vegetarian dinner I cooked.  I started with a meal that I enjoyed (chicken fajita quesadillas), and removed the meat.

To make vegetarian quesadillas, I first sauteed some onions and red bell peppers with EVOO and fajita spice.

I took a burrito-sized tortilla out of the freezer and put it in the oven to defrost it and warm it up.

Next, I put shredded cheese on it, folded it in half, and microwaved it to melt the cheese.

After that, I added the onions and bell peppers.

I folded it over and stuck it back in the oven, probably for a minute or two.  Yum!

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Steamer Basket

I went ahead and used a gift card to purchase a silicone steamer basket that can be used in the microwave or on the stovetop.  It had really good reviews, so I look forward to using it to cook my baby bok choy, as well as veggies from my future fall garden.

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As I get more into being a Vegan, and as I start to find out more about leafy greens, I figure my fall garden is going to be much different than in the past.

I expect I will have a larger variety of leafy greens. I’ll have to visit a local nursery and see what’s available for this time of year.  I don’t know if I’ll start with plants or seeds.

I might not plant as many potatoes as I originally planned.  I’m trying to move towards sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes.  Of course, when I tried to grow sweet potatoes last year, all I got were vines.

I might try some squash.  I’ve grown squash before, but I might be more inclined to try it.

I might try broccoli and cauliflower.  I think I like them best steamed with garlic, but they might just taste delicious raw if they’re from a garden and very fresh.

I hope to successfully grow some cucumbers.  They’ll be good for snacks.

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It’s so cute!  I only got one, because it was expensive (organic), but mainly because I didn’t know how it would taste.  I bought some ume plum vinegar to use as I cook it.  I smelled the vinegar and it seemed sweet and not harsh.  I plan to cook this in the next few days.

The recipe I plan to use calls for steaming this, but I don’t have a steamer basket.  I’ve got steamer zip bags, but I don’t think the results would be the same, so I’m going to look into buying a steamer basket.

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Control Journal BabyStep 4 – For this step, you write out your After Work routine.  When I get home from work, I’m exhausted, very hungry for dinner, and my feet ache so much that it hurts to walk.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and watch TV or read a book…with dinner…for the rest of the evening.

For this step, you change clothes, including lace-up shoes, start dinner, fill the sink with soapy water to clean as you cook, sit down and drink water, and also set the table.  I have to say, once I sit down with that water (my favorite part), I do not want to get back up!

My lace-up shoes

Soapy water for cleaning as I go

The table set for dinner - including candles! (pre-vegan pic)

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Every time that I think about how I feel after I eat a vegetarian or vegan meal, I’m surprised.  I just can’t believe it.

I’m surprised that I survived the meal.  Seriously.

I’ve always thought that it’s not possible to get full or feel satisfied unless I eat meat.  I’ve always thought that I won’t stay full unless I keep the meat protein coming.  I’ve always thought that I have to have dairy to get my calcium.

I feel full.  I feel content.  I feel okay.

After a vegetarian/vegan meal, I don’t have crazy cravings for sweets that can’t be helped out with chocolate soy milk, dairy-free ice cream (technically frozen dessert), or more veggie/vegan food.

So, what am I going to do the first time I go to a restaurant?

What am I going to do when I go to visit family?

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The Kind Diet book recommended that people flirting with going vegan should purchase 10 items to help them along the way.  I’ve gone to the healthy section of my grocery store, as well as a local natural foods store, a couple of times now.  I started with a few items, went another trip for a few more, etc.

I didn’t want to go crazy and get a ton of things that I would never use if I didn’t stay Vegan.  I tried to get things that I knew that I would eat, but I also braved a few purchases for items that will truly be taste tests.

Here are some things I purchased that I will definitely eat:

  • natural peanut butter (I actually had some and finished the jar, so I needed to get some more.)
  • chocolate soy milk (Delicious!  It’s good for chocolate cravings.)
  • black beans
  • chickpeas (I had some before I went Vegan, in a recipe that I was surprised I enjoyed.  The recipe was for a meatloaf sauce from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  I’ve always been weary of recipes with beans, which is why I’m always surprised when I like them.)
  • raw almonds
  • walnuts

An item I purchased that I was surprised that I really liked:

  • Morning Star Farms Chik’n Patties (veggie burgers) – I ate one with a salad.  It was quite tasty!

An item I purchased that I wasn’t familiar with at all, and it wasn’t so bad either:

  • Purely Decadent Vanilla Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert (It looked like ice cream, tasted a lot like ice cream, made me think I was having ice cream…) – I got vanilla instead of chocolate, to help me get away from my chocolate dependence.

Here are some things I purchased that I’m not familiar with, so I’m not so sure about how they will taste:

  • baby bok choy
  • ume plum vinegar (for a bok choy recipe from The Kind Diet book)
  • almond milk
  • rice milk (I remember trying plain once and it tasted like rice.  This time, I bought vanilla.)
  • vegetable broth
  • Miso soup (I bought a packet that you add to hot water, just to try out the taste.)
  • Ezekiel tortillas
  • Earth Balance Natural Butter Spread

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Up until I switched my eating to Vegetarian/Vegan meals, I had my October dinner menu planned.  I had also purchased and prepped most of the ingredients I would need.  It included cheeseburgers, meatballs, Mac & Cheese with turkey sausage, etc.

My husband is a meat and potatoes person.  I used to be, but now, I’m eating vegetarian/vegan meals.  Thus, I’ve redone the menu.  We’ll still have theme nights (thanks to The Food Nanny) with similar foods on most nights, but my husband will eat the foods that he enjoys, and I will eat vegan variations.

For Monday Comfort Food Nights, my husband will have soup, Hamburger Helper with biscuits, Mac & Cheese with turkey sausage, etc.  I’ll have veggie or bean soups, as well as other comforting vegan choices.  I’ve got a recipe for a caramelized onion soup that I look forward to making.

On Tuesdays, I have grad school out of town, so I’ll pack a sandwich, leftovers, etc.  My sweet husband will have a cornucopia of choices from the freezer:  homemade pizza, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook hamburgers, chicken fajitas, etc.

On Wednesdays, Italian Night, I listed spaghetti, but for me it says sauce and veggies, such as onions, carrots, and mushrooms.  For my husband, he can alternate adding meatballs and breakfast sausage to the sauce each week.

I have several jars of store brand pasta sauce, because it was inexpensive to purchase when I was buying ingredients for October.  I looked at the ingredients of several store brands and realized that I didn’t like what I saw.  I think when I run low on sauce, or when I have some free time, I’ll make and freeze a huge batch of marinara sauce.  I used to make and freeze sauce a few years ago, so I can look for that recipe.  I think it was from the Everyday Italian Cookbook.

For Thursdays, Mexican Food Nights, my husband will have chicken fajitas, quesadillas, burritos, etc..  Mine will be sans cheese and chicken, with added veggies, beans, and rice.

I went ahead and purchased just under four pounds of marinated chicken fajita meat.  We cooked it, sliced it, and froze it in single layers.  There should be enough for my husband

For Friday Pizza Nights, I’ll do veggie pizzas (I did one with black beans and red bell peppers the other night), and my husband will alternate breakfast sausage and turkey pepperoni.

Saturdays are Grill Nights.  We’ll stick with burgers for October.  My husband will do cheeseburgers and I will alternate Morning Star Farms Chick’n patties with Grillers, veggie burgers that look like hamburgers.

Sundays are Family Tradition Nights.  My husband will do things like BBQ chicken quarters and potatoes.  I’ll probably do beans and rice, or other vegan meals.

I’m still looking to find more vegan/vegetarian recipes.  I expect to make some changes to the menu throughout the month.  Still, I want to begin the next month by having a menu planned with food for it ready to go.  Work and school keep me very busy.  When get home from work, I’m hungry for dinner.  I prefer to have it ready in about 10 minutes, if possible.  For that to happen, I need to have ready ingredients.  I usually save longer-cooking items for weekends or evenings when I want to use cooking as a way to relax.

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I don’t know if it’s the weather, if it’s my allergies, if I’m reacting to a busy work/school schedule and stress, if my body is responding to cutting out meat and dairy, or if it’s from coming off my dependence on sugar and chocolate, but I sure feel sleepy.  I’ve got a lack of energy.

I want to go and eat a bunch of chocolate junk.  I think about the sweets I have in the freezer:  cupcakes, brownies…  I guess I just need to eat some dinner, but can I really go without meat?

I haven’t tried tofu yet, but I really enjoyed a Morning Star Farms Chik’n patty.  It’s a veggie patty and it was really good.  I guess I’m attributing that to the breading.

I guess I just need to keep trying new recipes and food combinations.  I need to keep visiting the natural food stores and learning about what is available.

I also need to figure out what to do with leafy greens.

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1.  Cutting out dairy might help me lose weight.  I saw a picture of myself the other day.  I looked wide.

2.  Cutting out dairy might help my allergies and allergy-related breathing issues.

3.  I might have more energy at work after lunch.

4.  I want to get away from my dependence upon (addiction to) white sugar and chocolate

5.  I might have more spunk in the evenings, hopefully with a desire to exercise, instead of wasting away the hours in front of the TV, because I’m too languid from heavy meals to do anything else.

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For the past couple of days, I’ve been eating vegetarian meals.  I didn’t go completely vegan at first, because I felt bad about current dairy that I had in my fridge – I didn’t want it to go to waste.  Also, I didn’t have non-dairy alternatives yet, such as almond milk, rice milk, soy milk.

Now, I’ve gone from vegetarian to vegan.  I looked at non-dairy cheese in the store, and decided to try to just leave it out of my food.  I bought some baby bok choy and ume plum vinegar, as The Kind Life book has a recipe for it.

I will say I had to sit there with my list of what constituted leafy greens and search the produce section, as I didn’t know what bok choy or watercress or kale were.  I still don’t have the best idea, and I definitely don’t know what to do with them.  I always thought romaine lettuce constituted leafy greens, but apparently there are some other ones, and I’m thinking that they need to be cooked.

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