Tag Archives: diet

Nuts for Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels sprouts. I rarely ate them growing up. In fact, all I knew about Brussels sprouts was that I wasn’t supposed to like them. The first time I saw them, I remember thinking, “those aren’t sprouts!” Aside from being delicious, these little guys are so freaking good for you, they’re easy to prepare, are extremely versatile, and they’re seriously cute.

For lunch today, I decided to make some of Christie’s almond crusted tofu. I was about to dump the leftover breading when I got the crazy idea to make some almond crusted Brussels sprouts.

First, I added about 2 tbsp of granulated garlic to the breading. Then, I rinsed and quartered the Brussels sprouts, and then placed them right into the dish with the breading. I drizzled some olive oil right into that dish as well, to help the breading stick a little.

I dumped the sprouts into a frying pan, and cooked them for about 8 minutes, flipping them over halfway through. Between these and the tofu baking in the oven, my kitchen smelled like nuts.

The breading burned a little but, but I didn’t mind. They were nice and crunchy, and the dish itself was really flavorful. Some of the outer leaves were really crunchy… like Brussels sprouts chips… yum… Anyway, I totally stuffed my face with these, the tofu, and some brown rice. My belly is happy, and so am I.

Here’s to more adventures in Brussels sprouts cuisine… Melissa

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Stuffed Mushrooms? Shut Your Mouth! I Mean… EAT IT!

Me to Younger Version of Myself (YVoM): Guess what? I made stuffed mushrooms today.
YVoM: Shut up! Who do you think you are, Giada DeLaurentis or something?
Me: Haha. No, I’ve gone vegan and I actually cook now!
YVoM: Wait, what?
Me: I know, it’s unbelievable.
YVoM: I can’t believe you cooked stuffed mushrooms. I can’t believe you’re vegan.
Me: Listen to me. We are stronger than we think!
YVoM: Grrrreat, Future Me is still sentimental and introspective.
Me: Call the blog ‘Turning Veganese.’
YVoM: I still blog? Mmmkay. Hey, I need a photo of those mushrooms to post on the blog.
Me: Here you go.

 

Talking to yourself is normal, right? It doesn’t matter. The point is, cooking and eating vegetables is my new normal. I had some mushrooms that I bought over the weekend, and I really wanted to cook them today. So I Googled “mushrooms recipe vegan” and found this recipe from Healthy Vegan Recipes. It’s so easy and versatile and delicious! The stuffing is basically made up of spinach and ground toasted almonds with onions, garlic, and chopped up mushroom stems. I can’t wait to try it out with different spices and nuts. Oh, by the way, I burned my nuts when I toasted them the first time so be sure you watch them. Heh, burned nuts. I ended up with 10 stuffed button mushrooms and ate seven with them with some brown rice. Dinner was served!

I kind of love being vegan. xoxo… Melissa

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Burgers and Brussels Sprouts and Balance

Greetings, everyone! Melissa here. I want to take a moment to thank everyone who follows Turning Veganese. You have no idea how excited I get when I see that we have a new follower or a comment. Sometimes, I even do a little running man dance move because I’m so excited. I wish I had more time to interact with all of you. Speaking of interaction, did you know that we have a Twitter? Follow us!

I started this blog four months ago. What I thought it would be: A space to whine about how much I miss meat, how being vegan is too challenging, and ways to tolerate tofu. What it has become: Motivation to be healthier and more creative in the kitchen, a way to celebrate my vegan successes, and an experience–or rather, a gift–that I have shared with two of my favorite people. I wasn’t even sure I was going to tell Christie and Brent about the blog. I am serious. And now, the best things on this blog are Christie’s posts, and I am so grateful for all the hard work she puts into Turning Veganese. I would probably be eating bacon and cheese with a side of pizza and chicken right now if not for her encouragement.

I find myself hitting a milestone of sorts in my vegan transition: I no longer feel like I am depriving myself of anything by following a vegan diet. I don’t miss meat or cheese or butter. I’m actually a little grossed out by it. My tastes are changing. I used to dread having to hit the salad bar at work because there were no vegan options. Now, I love the taste of wild greens, spinach, corn, peas, green pepper… I actually crave spinach. It’s so weird. I was craving spinach yesterday, so I made White Bean and Spinach Burgers. I saw some gargantuan Brussels sprouts when I went to buy the spinach, so I roasted some of those big boys, too (I forgot to buy hamburger buns):

For the burgers, I followed Christie’s recipe, substituting white beans for black eyed peas simply because I have 10 cans of white beans for some reason, and then adding a cup of chopped spinach. I’m not 100% thrilled with how my Brussels sprouts turned out last night, so recipe is pending.

I am starting to tell people that I am going vegan. This is huge for me. I get a lot of different responses, usually about how that person can or can’t ever go vegan, asking me if I miss meat or what tofu tastes like… but no matter what, I always get a “good for you” or “you’re so good” along with “tell me how it goes,” — all totally sincere.

Healthwise, I am doing pretty awesome. I gained weight at first, mostly because I would get overly excited when I found junk food or anything super tasty that was also vegan (oh hello snap pea crisps and sweet potato chips). In the past couple of weeks, I have lost a few pounds. With my tastes changing, I find I need less of certain food “accessories”–salt, sugar, salad dressing, etc. I didn’t go vegan to lose weight, though. I want to be clear about that. I did it to get healthier. And I have. I recently had a health screening and my numbers were so good that the nurse was cheering for me. She actually said that based on my numbers, she would assume I am an athletic person. (Excuse me while I laugh my ass off.)

So I feel great and I am super motivated to keep going and stay committed. I’m learning that there is never a stopping point at which I can say YES, I AM 100% VEGAN AND HEALTHY. If there is anything I learn from Christie or the lady at the grocery store or my friends who are really invested in organic/GMO or current studies and literature, it’s that there are always better foods to eat and better ways to cook.

Thanks again to all of you for reading the blog, following the blog, trying out our recipes, giving us awards (ohmigosh, how fantastic and humbling and encouraging). I’m amazed and inspired by all of your support. I have so much more in my brain and in my kitchen that I want to share with you, and I know Christie and Brent do, too. So, stay tuned! We love you. –Melissa

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Adventures in Fruit: Kumquat… PERVERT! Oh wait…

I decided to buy some kumquats (also cumquats) at my farmer’s market because, though I’m familiar with them and their silly name, I’ve never actually tried them.

The idea of putting an entire citrus fruit in my mouth took a little while to warm up to since I associate the zest of lemons and orange peel with bitter aromatic flavors. This is probably one of the strangest mouth adventures I’ve been on since it was almost nothing like I expected. The peel was sweet but still had the bite of a traditional citrus fruits and the flesh of the fruit was delightfully sour. That part was over quickly though since the fruit is very small and I went back to the creamy sweet flavor of the peel. I would love to chop some of these babies up with some mint, red onion, crushed red pepper and vinegar to serve over almond crusted tofu.

I did end up doing something awesome with this for dinner but that’s for another night.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Vegan alfredo!

A few days ago, LuminousVegans posted a creamy alfredo recipe and reminded me how delicious creamy pasta sauces are. I’m making my own soy-based creamy alfredo which can be made nut free for those of you with nut allergies. If you’re sensitive to soy (or even if you’re not), definitely try LuminousVegan’s alfredo recipe. Her recipes are amazing!

The ingredients are as follows:
1 12 oz. box silken tofu (I like MoriNu)
1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1-2 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 pinch nutmeg
soy or almond milk as needed
garlic or sea salt and crushed red pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender, adding soy or almond milk as necessary until you get a rich creamy sauce. That’s it, you’re done making high protein, low-fat, low-calorie alfredo sauce. I do recommend heating it either by microwaving or in a skillet with some white wine but this isn’t necessary, it just helps to marry the flavors.

I tossed it with hot pasta and a sliced soy sausage that I browned with some garlic.

I also added some raw red and yellow bell pepper. I tore up some more fresh basil for presentation but it wasn’t pretty for long because I ate it.

I love the sienna with the red and yellow on the creamy backdrop and vivid green. I’m a sucker for food that’s beautiful as well as delicious and good for you. Food should nourish your mind and your body. I love the sweetness of the pepper, the spice of the soy sausage with the creamy tofu and savory nutritional yeast and pasta.

If you want creamy pesto instead, add a generous handful of raw basil, a dash of lemon juice and about half a bulb of garlic.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Has everybody gone crackers?

I like to make juice. Like… serious health conscious vegetable juice. If that’s your bag, this post is for you.

Tonight I made some juice from 6 carrots, 1 apple, 1 peeled lemon, one beet and a generous chunk of fresh ginger. In the early days of enjoying my frosty beverages I was thinking of things to do with the leftover pulp.

What’s leftover after you juice the veggies and fruits is a lot of soluble and insoluble fiber and nutrients that didn’t get mooshed out in the juicing. I hate wasting things. It’s partly my inner hippie, my years of farm living, and some personal issues I can’t get into on the internet. Anyways, this is what I use to make my home-made crackers. As far as I know, pretty much any fruits and veggies will do except for cucumber, sorry. Just think about the combo and how it will taste when paired with hummus or whatever. This recipe is for carrot sesame crackers.

Take the pulp and pick out any large chunks. To the pulp, add the following (amounts don’t need to be exact)

1 heaping tbsp tahini (this is where the sesame comes from)

2 heaping tbsp flax meal

a few dashes of tamari or soy sauce (or just regular salt if you’re soy-free)

Moosh it with your hands until you can mold it into a ball that’s at least somewhat doughy. Spread it out into your food dehydrator on one of the plastic sheets intended for fruit leather and such and dry overnight. My dehydrator doesn’t have heat settings or a timer so I can’t be more specific than that. It works, that’s all I know. You can also spread it out on a wax paper lined baking sheet and covered in tin foil. Bake them at 200F/90C for 30-45 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. Check it frequently to be sure it doesn’t burn.

The rich color and sweetness comes from the carrots and beets, slightly savory from the soy and nutty from the tahini and flax. You might also get some bite from the ginger! They’re great with home-made hummus, soy or nut cheese, salsa, cheesy bean dip, spinach artichoke dip, guacamole or whatever it is that blows your skirt up.

Here are my finished crackers: low calorie, preservative free, low glycemic index due to no added sugar or processed flour, high flavor and incredibly filling (remember… lots of soluble and insoluble fiber.) You can also customize them adding whatever your heart desires. Pulp from spinach mango juice makes great spinach sun dried tomato crackers: it’s a favorite when mango comes into season here in Florida in the spring. I’ve also been known to make spinach pizza crust. They will keep in a plastic baggie in your fridge for 3-4 days.

This is Christie, signing off… to finish off last night’s hummus with my fresh crackers.

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Kale and White Bean Soup! It’s what’s for lunch.

Kale is so awesome that it might overshadow the white beans in this particular dish but white beans (also called navy beans or Northern beans) a’re a standout food on their own. Kale is full of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, calcium along with a number of other micronutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin (both important for vision) that are all really important for a healthy body and immune system. It’s low in calories and loaded with fiber to help you feel fuller faster and longer. So how can white beans possible compete? They offer a different variety of nutrients that complement those present in the kale: calcium, iron, and other micronutrients like coumarin and ferulin which are currently under scientific investigation for their activity as antioxidants.

Oh right, soup. Gather together the following.

12-16oz bag of dry white beans

1 bunch of kale, rinsed and cut into ribbons

1 tomato, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cube of bouillon a pinch of cumin seeds (optional)

1.5 L water (does NOT include water for soaking the beans)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

To prepare, I recommend soaking the beans overnight (or at least 4 hours) to reduce the cook time of your soup. Cover the beans completely with water plus another inch or so. The beans should about double in size. Don’t be alarmed. It’s normal. I like dry beans because it’s cheaper but if soaking dry beans isn’t your thing, 2-3 tins of white beans works great and will reduce your prep time considerably.

In a huge pot, add the olive oil and coriander seeds and wait until the seeds start to sputter. Add the tomato and garlic and stir a few times.

Add the beans and stir until they’re coated with the tomato and olive oil. Add 1 liter of water and the bouillon. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1.5 hours (longer depending on how dry they are, just keep testing them to see when they start to get tender). Start to stir in the kale a handful at a time when the beans start to soften.

Add more water until you reach the desired consistency. Remove the bay leaves. Bring to a boil before serving.

Other things you can add to this traditional favorite include: sliced vegan chorizo or soy sausage, pasta, and sun dried tomato. Add the chorizo or soy sausage right after the kale so it doesn’t fall apart, you can also brown it lightly in a fry pan first. If you add sun dried tomato, add it with the regular tomato. I like this soup for lunch. It’s inexpensive, highly nutritious and delicious.

This is Christie, signing off.

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Spinach Artichoke Dip

Stereotypes about vegans often include the idea that they’re anemic. I’ve donated blood for years and I panicked after I went vegan, worrying that I wouldn’t be able to donate anymore. I’m a little more pedantic about my eating habits than most people so it’s probably not surprising that my iron levels were in the high end of the healthy range when I donated Thursday evening. There are a lot of reasons you might want to give blood. I’m including 2 links to scientific papers whose results suggest that regular blood donations can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if you’re a dude.

My personal reasons for donating blood is that one out of every 4 people will need a transfusion in their life. Imagine 4 people you care about. Now imagine your life without one of them. Wow, that’s depressing. Anyways, there are benefits to donating blood other than patting yourself on the back for saving lives: I got a free movie ticket and a snack, I know my blood pressure and my blood iron levels are healthy and in a week I’ll know my cholesterol level. You’ll also learn your blood type which is a good thing to know if you’re ever seriously hurt.

Spinach is another one of my favorite vegan goodies. Spinach can help you prepare for and recover from donating blood. One cup has enough vitamin K to give 2 people their recommended daily intake of vitamin K. WTF is vitamin K? It’s a crucial nutrient for blood clotting. This is important for after you’re done donating blood to help you stop bleeding and reduce your risk of bruising.
So why is spinach better than beef if you’re thinking about donating blood? Beef has less than 2/3 the iron and almost 10 times the calories compared to spinach, ounce for ounce. Spinach also has 600 times the vitamin K of an equal weight of lean beef. (according to http://www.nutritiondata.com)
Did I mention I’m making spinach artichoke dip? Yeah. I’ve gotta recuperate the nutrients I donated (excuse to indulge). Assemble these ingredients.
1/2 onion, diced
1 generous bunch spinach, chopped (frozen is fine, one 12 ounce package should do it, just make sure it’s thawed and well drained)
1 tin marinated artichoke hearts
1 tsp olive oil
1 12 oz. package silken tofu (I used Mori-Nu)
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp flake red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sautee onion, spinach and artichoke hearts in olive oil until onion is soft.
Blend together tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic, vinegar and spices in blender until smooth.
Combine all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a glass baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes, after that, observe until lightly browned on top.
Garnish with some shredded basil. Serve warm with crackers, raw broccoli florets or carrots.
As I’ve written it, this recipe contains about 350-500 calories (depending on how much olive oil you sautee with and what sort of tofu you use). That’s about the number of calories in a blood donation. Coincidence? I think not.
This is Christie, signing off to go see that free movie.
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Adventures in fruit, a portrait of durian today.

Durian is from Southeast Asia and is formidable in all of it’s aspects. It’s big (about the size of a soccer ball), has a thorny outer skin (ouch!) and distinctive odor.

Some people find the smell off-putting. I’m not one of those. I suspect it’s partly genetic. I find they smell like almonds though I’ve heard them described as smelling like turpentine, gym socks, and rotting onions. I suppose any one of those odors would keep me from eating fruit.

In terms of nutrition it’s certainly a treat. It’s rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, iron, vitamin C, potassium and the tryptophan – the amino acid required for the synthesis of serotonin. Tryptophan is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin – an important neurotransmitter. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. That means your body can’t make it (like how it can make fat or carbon dioxide from sugar) and you have to include it in your diet.

The edible part of the fruit looks and tastes like creamy vanilla almond custard. I like to scoop out the flesh, separate the seeds and discard them, and put the good stuff into a container. I put it in the freezer and treat it like a pint of ice cream: having 2 or 3 bites whenever I get a bill or see bad news on TV.

Durian isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be expensive, difficult to find and to some, offensively smelly. However, if you’re one of the lucky souls who finds this fruit delectable, you might grow up to be a convert, like me.

This is Christie, signing off.

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Toasty Taters and Cheezy Tofu Scramble

Today is my niece’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Juliana!). I had plans to have breakfast with her to celebrate. While I looked forward to spending time with my niece on her special day, I was disappointed to realize that the only vegan options on the menu were home fried potatoes hold the cheese, fruit, or oatmeal (which I would have to make sure didn’t have milk mixed in already). Anyhoo, plans changed. I got to sleep in today and make myself a vegan breakfast: tofu scramble with home fries.

Toasty Taters:
Any potatoes, sliced or cubed
1 tbsp garlic, minced
salt
pepper
ground cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
olive or safflower oil

Put the potato slices in a bowl and add just enough oil to coat all the pieces. Mix it all together with the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper until the potato pieces are coated evenly. The cayenne pepper will make it spicy so leave it out if you’re not a fan. Loosely bundle the potatoes in foil, stick in a toaster oven–I love toaster ovens, you guys–and bake for 20 minutes or so at 375 degrees. Then, open up the foil, carefully mix the potatoes a bit so they separate, set the toaster oven on the toast setting, and toast for 3-4 minutes. This will make them nice and crispy.

Cheezy Tofu Scramble
1 block extra firm tofu (about 1/4 pound), patted dry and smooshed with a fork
1 tbsp garlic, minced
salt
pepper
onion powder
turmeric
shredded ‘cheese’
olive or safflower oil

Fire up a frying pan and heat your oil, then toss in the garlic and tofu. When the tofu is nearly browned, add the spices–how much you want to use is up to you. Mix it nicely until the tofu is nice and browned. Lower the heat, and add the shredded ‘cheese’ (I used Daiya cheddar). When it starts to get melty, remove from heat and fold the cheese into the tofu.

Yum. Check out those crispy garlic bits. Pardon me while I stuff my face… Melissa

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