Tag Archives: diet

Hot pot!

When Brent and I are feeling particularly lazy but still want to eat something healthy, we make hot pot. This is an East Asian fun thing that can be enjoyed by small groups of friends or just your family. We use a simple electric wok that’s resistant to tipping over and fill it with our favorite kind of broth. It’s a great way to use just about any vegetables that are available in our refrigerator – broccoli, green beans, baby corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, tofu, tofu skins, mushrooms, snow peas, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, noodles (we use thin rice noodles and konjac noodles). Napa cabbage, spinach and Romaine lettuce are favorites.

After that, all you need is some fresh veg chopped into bite sized pieces and maybe some dipping sauces. Our broth recipe is as follows
1-2  liters of water

1-2 cubes of bouillon (we use “chicken” or mushroom)

1 tbsp of Szechuan peppercorns (we like spicy, what can I say)

2 star anise pods

15-20 goji berries

10-15 scallion onions, chopped into 2 inch pieces

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

a pinch of ground cumin

2-3 pods of allspice

1 coin size slice of ginger (optional)

juice from 1/2 lemon (optional)

1 tbsp chili or garlic flavored canola oil

salt and pepper to taste

I combine everything but the scallion onions in my pot and boil for 30 minutes or more until it’s fragrant and steamy. Then I add the spring onions and take the pot to our table. You put the veggies into the soup pot and wait for the liquid to return to a boil. Then we remove the vegetables without chopsticks, wait for them to cool or dip them in sauce or not (I like a home-made chili-lime-peanut sauce, Brent prefers a garlic chili sauce) and DEVOUR! Just be careful that the hot liquid doesn’t splash anyone and that the contents don’t spill onto anyone. It’s HOT (hence the name *hot* pot)! This might not be a dish for the faint of heart, but it is for the hungry, adventurous and lazy. Just put down a towel for all the drips and splashes.

As versatile as this particular dish is, there’s something for everyone. Just don’t get hurt when you realize someone ate your mushroom.

This is Christie, signing off!

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GAZPACHO!

Sounds funny, tastes delicious… This is a simple cold summer soup that is loaded with good nutrients and packed with flavor. It should be a staple in your diet whether you’re vegan or not. Ours is made from the following ingredients:
2 bell peppers, stems and seeds removed (I like 2 different colors, in this case yellow and red)
1/2 cup of cilantro stems
2 cucumbers
juice from 1 lemon
5 tomatoes, stems removed
1 jalapeño (optional for the brave)
6-8 scallion onions, chopped just as the bulb turns green, stems diced
4-5 strawberries (optional)
hot sauce and salt to taste

Brent cut up the vegetables into sizes that fit easily in our food processor. The skins can be left on the cucumber for a richer flavor if they’re organic, otherwise I remove most of it if not all.


The tomato, cucumber, peppers, strawberries, lemon juice, scallion bulbs and cilantro stems all went into the processor and was blended until smooth. Afterward I added salt and hot sauce to taste, garnished with scallion onion (you can use cilantro too, if you like). and served with grilled cashew cheese sammiches. It hit the spot after a day in the muggy Florida heat. Let me know what you think!

This is Christie, signing off!

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Long Beans and Heirloom Tomatoes

Yay! Tomatoes are finally popping up in the garden. We have a nice crop of beautifully colored heirloom tomatoes.

I decided to throw some of these babies in with sauteed long beans.

First, I sauteed about a cup of long beans in olive oil with 2 cloves of minced garlic. Long beans are not meant to be eaten raw, so if you have them, make sure you cook them. They maintain their crunch even if they wilt, if that makes any sense.

I cut up one of the tomatoes. Unlike the other tomatoes that we grow in the garden, these are much more meaty, less juicy, but still sweet and tasty. I love that the tomatoes we grow in our backyard require little to no embellishment to be tasty. You can eat them like apples!

I boiled some penne, coated it in olive oil, and threw in freshly minced garlic, fresh ground black pepper, and nutritional yeast. I topped it off with the cooked beans and the raw tomatoes.

Easy, delicious, nutritious. The only thing missing is a glass of fine wine! –Melissa

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Saag with Sweet Potato

Brent and I really love Indian food. We make several versions of Americanized favorites including saag. Typically saag is a spinach based sauce flavored with cilantro, chili and turmeric and usually includes chunks of potato, mushroom, and/or paneer. Paneer is a bland home-made cheese so we use tofu that we’ve marinated in lime juice instead. Today, however, we’re using cubes of sweet potato because we had a random sweet potato floating around the apartment (I just had a funny mental image). We put the following into the blender for a creamy base:

1 box of MoriNu soft silken tofu (If you’ve got a soy allergy, soak 1/2 cup of cashews overnight, drain them and add to your blender. This actually tastes marginally better but adds a lot of fat)

1 thumb sized piece of turmeric or 1 tsp powdered turmeric

5-7 cloves of garlic

a generous pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño pepper or generous spoon of chili paste

1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

This mixture was blended until creamy. Then I added the following greens in the following order, blending thoroughly between:

1 bunch cilantro (stems and leaves)

1 bunch of Swiss chard or mustard greens

1 bunch of spinach

The cilantro goes in first because the stems need to get cut finely. The stems have a lot of flavor. Swiss chard will make a milder saag, mustard greens will make it spicier. Spinach is just a wondrous vegetable. EAT IT!!! Frozen greens work fine for this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I transferred the contents of the blender to my big pan and rinsed out the blender with almond milk (use soy if you’ve got a nut allergy) and put the milk into the pan. I started to heat it and added 1 sweet potato cut into bite sized pieces. A carton of water packed tofu or a few handfuls of mushrooms are great veggies to add to your saag.

Heat the saag through and stir frequently until the potato is cooked. It should be thick and make giant messy bubbles if unattended (hence the stirring).

This will take about half an hour. Add water, salt, spices, and pepper as needed. I also use a garam masala spice mix  that an Indian colleague brought me from his home Hyderabad instead of pepper. Cracked black pepper is better for most tastes. It looks like sewage but tastes like awesome!

We served this with quinoa that we prepared in the microwave with several green cardamom pods. I love saag and know it’s not for everyone. It’s very herbal and spicy and is too vegetal for some. That being said, We ate the whole pan and all the quinoa too… I’ve got a blood donation coming up and I need the iron and vitamin K!

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Maca and Carob Chia Seed Pudding!

I love pudding. I really love pudding. When I saw An Unrefined Vegan’s chia seed pudding I decided that I had to have some. I’m not very good at following instructions so I made my own version of Food Doodle’s pudding.

I combined the following:
4 tbsp chia seeds
2 cups vanilla almond milk (use soy-milk if you’ve got a nut allergy)
a splash of almond extract (optional)
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp carob powder
a smidge of maple syrup harvested by my cousin (maca is already very sweet and this might not necessarily need to be sweetened)

I’ll take an aside to promote maple syrup farming: this centuries old practice promotes the preservation of old growth forests, typically with a minimally disruptive human intervention. Above is a picture of miles of tubing running through the woods into a pair of collection vats that must be emptied several times during the repeated freezes and thaws of spring. Great care is taken to keep the taps and tubing clean so that the sap doesn’t ferment and the trees stay healthy to produce during the next season. The tubing is put into place after the first snow and removed after the last thaw has passed. I love the smell of maple sap being boiled down. Grade B is my favorite kind of maple syrup. It’s supposed to be lower quality than the grade A “fancy” syrup that looks so lovely in clear glass bottles but I love the intense maple flavor.

I let it sit for half an hour and then ate it. I kind of shared with Brent but not really. I really love pudding. It was delightfully nutty and chocolatey and loaded with antioxidants, calcium, omega fatty acids and other good-for-you stuff. I lé recommend. I’m also realizing that this is a very versatile recipe and can be manipulated with the ingredients you prefer… next I’m thinking mint chocolate chip!

This is Christie, signing off.

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Pumpkin Lentil Lower Carb Burritos!

This is one of the easier things Brent and I have made in a while, all we needed was the following:

1 head of cabbage, raw

1 14.5 oz tin of pumpkin

1 cup of dry lentils

1 cube of veggie bouillon

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 jalapeño (optional)

chili powder or chili paste and salt to taste

Start by cooking the lentils. Combine them with 2 cups of water and your bouillon cubes and microwave at 2 minute intervals until all the liquid is absorbed. You can also cook them on your stove at low heat until the liquid is absorbed.

Now put them into a sauce pan with the pumpkin and spices. Heat until it’s all steamy. Adjust the seasonings as necessary. You can also add a can of diced tomato and a diced onion but this recipe is designed to accommodate a friends with tomato and onion allergies, respectively. It’s delicious and filling just as I’ve written it.

Now carefully remove a cabbage leaf, add a scoop or two of your burrito filling and whatever other things you like (we’re adding cilantro and Daiya cheddar cheese).

Roll them up and insert into your face.You might not even realize you’re eating a cabbage leaf. This is a great way to have a low carb, low calorie wrap for your sandwich or burrito and doesn’t cost a whole lot. I hope you like it!

 

This is Brent and Christie, signing off.

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Turning… Vegetarian?

Uh oh. I feel like a bit of a fraud. I’ve been eating a lot of cheese lately. It’s just so easy. And cheesy!

My first step in turning vegan was to quit dairy. This was not difficult at all, especially when I saw non-dairy on the label of my coffee creamer. I was never a big fan of milk or sour cream, I could live without cream cheese, and dropping butter wasn’t so hard. Since I was still eating meat, it was easy to avoid cheese options.

As I transitioned into dropping meat from my diet, I still found it easy. I started drinking my coffee with just a bit of sweetener, I frequented the salad bar at work, and the worst thing I ate was a french fry to satisfy my craving for something deep-fried. I did let myself have two non-vegan food items, guilt-free: a slice of pizza once a week, and a Snickers bar.

The blog has helped me be an honest vegan in that it has motivated me to cook, veganize my favorites, and try out new foods. But, sometimes, being a vegan really sucks. Don’t get me wrong: I feel great and I don’t miss meat. It can just be really frustrating when I go to a restaurant (even a vegetarian restaurant) where my only options are steamed broccoli or a plain baked potato. Even Red Robin is more vegan-friendly than some other “healthy” spots I have visited.

The kicker came this past weekend when I was out of town. I was lucky. My hosts graciously accommodated me by making sure there were tofu and veggies for me to eat. But when we went out… there’s nothing worse than craving pho or Chinese noodle soup and knowing that, even if I get it without meat, it won’t be vegan. It also sucks to go to a really expansive buffet and have no vegan options besides raw veggies, fruit, and olives. I ended up having some very delicious and cheesy tortellini instead. I could say I felt guilty, but I honestly felt like somewhat of a rebel. Also, I was fricken hungry.

I’ve always been casual about being vegan in that I will still eat white bread or any breads that contain eggs, I won’t give myself too much of a hard time about something that’s in a meat-based broth, and I’ll let myself have ice cream or frozen yogurt when I’m out and about and want a treat. My behavior seems to raise the eyebrows of both vegans and non-vegans: I’m either vegan or I’m not. I don’t think that’s entirely fair. I just don’t want to ever feel like I’m depriving myself. And I especially don’t want to starve myself or eat something gross when I’m in a tight spot and have little to no vegan options.

So, what’s the solution? I can label myself as a vegetarian instead of a vegan. But I don’t want to do that, either. I guess all I can say is that I’m still turning veganese. I’m not totally there yet, I’m trying to figure it out. Should I bring vegan snacks with me at all times? Should I assign someone to play the role of my food conscience and stop me from cheating? Do I need to step up and declare my vegan-ness every time I step into a restaurant? I don’t know. In the end, I may decide that I’ll never be 100% vegan, and that has to be OK. Anyone who isn’t OK with that is just not cool. Oh, dairy cheese… why can’t I quit you?!

What’s your one non-vegan food that you can’t seem to quit? Anything? I’d love it if you would confess your non-vegan cravings and share how you overcame them. –Melissa

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The Lazy Vegan: Veggie Burgers!

A couple months ago, I had an awesome veggie burger at a Josh’s, a fast food restaurant near where I work. It tasted great and fresh, but what I loved most about it was that it was, well… different. It wasn’t a completely bean- or soy-based veggie patty. Furthermore, I was able to identify chunks of actual vegetables in it. So I was pretty excited when I saw Don Lee Farms Veggie Patties at good old Costco.

Unfortunately, Don Lee Farms is a wholesale seller, so these patties aren’t available in your neighborhood grocery store. Even more unfortunate is that the company isn’t vegetarian and sells meat products as well. All that aside, this is one tasty veggie patty. It has a nice texture and the vegetables in the burger can easily be identified and tasted.

It was seasoned nicely with a perfect little kick to it. It’s mostly a softer texture, but it contains whole sunflower seeds that are both tasty and give it a nice crunch. It’s also pretty filling.

One patty is surprisingly only 160 calories. I wish it had more protein. The sodium content is fine; it helps that it’s tasty enough that no other spice is really needed. Zero cholesterol! Click the photo for a closer look at the nutrition facts and ingredients.

Homemade is best, but it’s great when I discover good pre-made or pre-packaged products. What are your favorites? Let us know! –Melissa

 

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Tropical Spring Rolls!

It’s raw night again in the Alldestroyers’ household and tonight we’ll be preparing vegan spring rolls. You’ll need the following:

2 medium zucchini, shredded
5 average sized carrots, shredded
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut (sweetened is fine)
1 tbsp ponzu sauce
1/2 tsp lime juice (optional)
1/2 tsp flaked red pepper
a pinch of salt
8-10 rice paper sheets (mine are bahn-trang)
greens or spinach, washed and dried

Start by combining all the vegetables (except for the greens), liquids and seasonings in a bowl. Substitute shredded parsnips if you have a coconut allergy. Mix well and set aside.

Add 1 to 2 cups warm water in a deep plate or shallow bowl. Place a rice paper sheet into the water making sure to dampen both sides thoroughly and remove before it loses it’s stiffness.

Take it out and place it on a clean plate. Don’t worry if it’s still stiff; it’ll soften as it absorbs the water.

Place a handful of greens on one end of the paper closest to you. Add 3-4 heaping spoonfulls of filling onto the greens (if it’s particularly wet, let it drain, squeezing it out between your hands – your kids might like this job).

Dry your hands and start rolling the filled end of the sheet away from you using the greens to control the filling, folding in the sides. Rest it on that edge after closing it until you’re ready to eat it.Try not to place them so close that they’re touching because they’ll stick together and might tear when handled.

This takes some practice but it doesn’t really matter what they look like, right? You should end up with some lovely light, nutritions, filling and delicious spring rolls.

We made a dipping sauce out of basically the same ingredients as in our pakora with some minor changes which complemented the coconut in the spring rolls brilliantly. The proportions were about like this:
1/4 cup of tamarind (we used frozen)
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp cinnamon
chili paste to taste

When mango comes into season, we’ll probably make this sauce with pureed mango. I’m monitoring the little baby mango growing on the trees between my train stop and apartment closely. Soon, my friends… very soon.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Fantastic Falafel

I talk to myself when I’m driving. Here’s what I said to myself on my drive home from work: What will I have for dinner? Hmm. There’s eggplant in the fridge. And there’s tahini. I can make baba ghanouj. But then I have to pick up pita bread. Oooh! Falafel! I’ll make falafel!

And so I did.

I tried making falafel once before, and I was also recently very intrigued by Christie and Brent’s Pakora. I really wanted something simple and fried — been craving fried stuff lately — so I decided to try improving on the recipe I used before, which was straight from the good folks at Bob’s Red Mill.

Melissa’s Fantastic Falafel (that’s not too braggy, right?)

1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I added a hefty 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp fresh cilantro, minced
2  garlic cloves, minced
1/3 to 1/2 cup hot water
oil for frying

I put all my dry and fresh ingredients into a bowl.

I added the water, mixed it all together, and this lovely ball of dough formed. After my traumatizing baking experience over the weekend, I was cautious with adding the water, and found that 1/3 cup was the perfect amount I needed (probably due to how I measured the flour).

I wanted the dough to sit for awhile so the flavors could meld together, so while it was chillin’ like a villain, I made my baba ghanouj.

Melissa’s Baba Ghanouj for People Who Live Alone

1 eggplant, roasted and skinned, but keep the skins on if you want
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp tahini
1tsp lemon juice
fresh parsely leaves from 3 sprigs or so

Stick all that stuff in a food processor. Tip – you might want to mince the garlic. I didn’t. You may also want to cut down on the garlic. Let me just say that I have kickass breath right now. Hhhaaahhhhh. See?! That, along with the fact that this only serves one, is why I named the recipe the way I did.

Going back to my falafel dough, I formed some falafel balls, rolled them in some sesame seeds, and then fried them until they were golden brown — about 2 -3 minutes on each side turning 3 times for luck. These look fine but were kind of a fail: my intention was to make falafel ‘bites’ so I should have formed smaller balls. *pause for laughter* Tip: You can bake instead of fry if you wish.

Oh hi! It’s my face! If you had been here after I took this first bite, you would have heard me exclaim a bunch of “OH MY GOD”s. Finally: falafel that I can be proud of! It is 300% better than my last attempt. If my favorite falafel place ever closes, I won’t cry because I know I can make some that are just as tasty.

Happy happy happy! –Melissa

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