Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some Success, Some Failures, Some Leftovers!

Thanksgiving this year was anything but traditional, and that's ok! We declined a couple of invites and decided on a low key day at home...well, low key for everyone except the person in the kitchen! It was a pretty busy day!
When we decided to have our Very Vegan Thanksgiving, I got busy on making the Thanksgiving dinner menu. I pulled recipes from Isa Chandra's Veganomicon Cookbook, Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore Cookbook and other blogs and Internet websites. I will directly link all the recipes that I can and site the cookbook where I can't.

These pull apart rolls where good. I splurged and made them with all-purpose flour. They were almost too moist. These would actually be good to make the day before and then give them a 10 minute reheat at about 300 degrees. I also had to add much more flour to get the desired consistency.
I definitely think these are worth making again. Next time I will use whole wheat flour. You can find the recipe here.

This recipe was from The Happy Herbivore. It's called Pot Roast Seitan. If I ever were to make this again it would be for the fire pit!
Unfortunately, this was the first time my family had ever tried seitan (wheat meat). BIG flop (*note to self...never try to substitute the main dish with something the family has never tried on a day when their thinking of turkey...or ham...or steak..or...).
This was very rubbery. Elijah dropped a piece and it bounced 6, I'm just kidding! It was rubbery though! I can't imagine that anyone could like this wheat meat! But I do believe in trying something at least twice (it's two strikes and your out, with food) and I am glad I did!
We went to The People's Market today. They have an upstairs vegan deli. And of course I got my second opportunity to try seitan. OH MY GOSH! The bomb!! It was a wonderful spicy dish that reminded me of  Kung Pao Chicken. I'm in love! I need to get my hand's on that recipe!

This was a tradition dish with a twist! No mushroom soup, but all the flavor you savor. I stuck to the recipe except I used fresh green beans and precooked them before adding to the casserole. I will be making this again! This recipe is here.

 The only thing missing at this table IS the turkey. And yes, it was missed!

 I have decided that parchment paper is NOT my friend! It has messed up too many of my cooking projects. From now on it's me and the foil!
These were supposed to be chocolate coconut macaroons. But the parchment paper wouldn't let THAT happen! It was still yummy. I will make them again..with foil and cooking spray! You can find this Almond Joy treat here.

Thanksgiving plate complete with mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, baked macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes.

 And of course, the pumpkin pie! This pie was simple to whip up, it's made with fresh pumpkin and tofu. It was a little too sweet for me, although everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

This was an easy whipped cream made from coconut milk. I liked it and thought it was a great compliment to the pie. But not everyone liked it. It definitely has a more distinct flavor than dairy whipped cream. I liked that this kept well in the fridge. It didn't get flat or runny. Great alternative, in my opinion!

I can't wait to give this another try. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream! I say another try because I had an ice cream malfunction. Some of my electrical outlets had blown fuses (from when the oven man was trying to fix the oven on Tuesday), but I didn't know it. So I poured my mixture into my ice cream maker (before I turned it on). When I turned it on...NO POWER! By the time I had figured it out and adapted, the blades froze to the side of maker. I had to essentially start over. Unfortunately, the maker (which started frozen out of the freezer) was defrosting. So my finished product was more icy than creamy. Even though, it is yummy and the kids are enjoying it.

So there is the honest, not always pretty, truth to our Thanksgiving this year. I'm taking votes on how the turkey should be cooked next year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

I am excited about Thanksgiving this year. What better time for a vegan. Thanksgiving tables are full of an array of vegetable dishes and fruit. This year we will be enjoying some new dishes at our table as well as some old favorites.

Here's our dinner menu:

Herbed Scalloped Potatoes
Mashed Spiced sweet potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Pull Apart Rolls
Cranberry Sauce
Coconut Macaroons
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving is wonderful and a time to really realize all we have to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Then and Now

My hubby, Roque, really wants me to post some "Then and Now" photos. I wanted to wait until I have lost the last 13 pounds AND had some better photos. I guess I will post again when both those goals are reached.
When I look back at these photos, part of me wants to burn them. But the other part of me is glad that I have them. A picture really tells the truth. And this is a truth I want to remember. As I get older this weight was getting harder to carry around. I had allergies (probably due to the unhealthy food I was eating). My body had aches and pains. I was going down the road to diabetes and who knows what other diseases of obesity. I need these photos to remind me: Never turn back!
I also learned that not only can food can damage our bodies, but it can heal our bodies too! Learning to eat healthy whole foods and sticking to a plant based diet has changed my life and quite possibly saved my life as well.
Now I am hoping to take my knowledge and help other people on their own journey to health.

Then- Family Vacation 2009

Now- Making dinner for my family

Monday, November 14, 2011

Home Made Whole Wheat English Muffins

I usually buy whole wheat english muffins. We use them to make breakfast sandwiches. I doubt I will ever buy them again. This recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book, Vegan Brunch, is off the hook. Just perfect!
I only made a couple of changes to this recipe. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. and I used raw sugar instead of regular sugar.

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

Mix these ingredients in small bowl and set aside for about five minutes.

2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine, room temperature (I use earth balance)

A few tablespoons of cornmeal
1 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine

In mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and margarine. Mix until dough forms. Turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Return dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel (I just use a hand towel). Set in a warm place and let rise for about an hour.
Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 350 degrees. Punch dough down and knead for a minute. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use a round 3inch cookie cutter (I used the mouth of a drinking glass). Pat both sides in the cornmeal. Preheat a large skillet (I used a cast iron skillet) and melt one tbsp of margarine in it. It shouldn't smoke. Medium heat worked well for me. Cook muffins on each side for one minute then put them in the oven on the cookie sheet for 6- 10 minutes. Do this in two batches. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not Your Traditional Latke

I've always wanted to try a potato pancake. But I never have run into an opportunity. This traditional Jewish dish is something I have heard about since I was a child. I never understood what all the hype was about but was always curious.
That time of year is almost upon us again and once again my curiosity was peeked. Now that we are eating a plant based diet, potato pancakes don't seem like a stretch for a meal. I had to give it a whirl. I looked up a basic recipe at and went from there.
This is certainly not a traditional recipe, but I'm not Jewish either. Not only was this recipe off the hook but it was great being able to introduce my kids to a tradition from a different culture.

Makes about 24 pancakes:

6 russet potatoes, peeled
1 yellow onion
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsps water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 cup mixed frozen corn, carrots, and peas

In a small bowl mix flaxseed with water. Set aside.

Using food processor (or grate), pulse potatoes and onions. Drain as much liquid as you can.

Mix all ingredients into the potato/onion mixture, including flaxseed mixture. Heat a cast iron skillet (or other heavy frying pan) with a small amount of oil (I use safflower oil) on medium heat. If the oil starts to smoke, lower the heat. Shape pancakes (about 3 inch circles) and cook about 3 minutes each side, until browned.

I put brown paper bags on a plate and between layers of the pancakes to soak up as much oil as possible. It was also helpful to  keep the first 12 in the oven at 200 degrees. They stayed nice and hot while I made the second half.

Now I've heard that there are quite a few different toppings that people like with their Latkes. We tried applesauce, sour cream (vegan, of coarse), and Joseph's Sugar Free Maple Syrup. The applesauce did nothing to compliment the taste. Sour cream was better. But the maple syrup sealed the deal! I am a Latke fan for life! Would it be wrong to adopt this awesome Jewish tradition on my Christmas day?

Who's this skinny woman in my kitchen?

Well, Latkes rounded out an all star week!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I don't have a photo to share with this recipe. But this has become a weekend treat for Roque and I. At 130 calories per serving, who needs Starbucks? These are a great compliment to the Pumpkin Scones recipe posted last week.

Makes two lattes:

4 Tbsp of coffee grounds
1 Tbsp of pumpkin pie seasoning
2 1/2 cups water
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 Tbsp pureed pumpkin (optional)

Mix coffee grounds with pumpkin pie seasoning. Put in coffee maker and add 2 1/2 cups of water (according to your coffee makers user directions).
Meanwhile, heat almond milk in microwave. In two large coffee cups, add 2 tbsp maple syrup to each. One tbsp pumpkin puree to each. Stir well.
When coffee is done brewing, add 3/4 cup almond milk and 3/4 cup coffee to each cup. Stir well and enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Almost Guilt Free Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin is the flavor of the season and low fat scones seem so elusive...until now! I took a recipe and made some major adjustments. The biggest is substituting margarine for bananas. I have tried this before with just ok results. This time it worked. I believe the key is the banana. It needs to be mostly green. And it needs to be COLD. I actually used 1 and 1/3 banana. I peeled it and cut it much like you would cut cold butter into a recipe. Then I let it chill in the fridge. An hour should do. 

◦4 cups whole wheat flour
◦2 tablespoons cornstarch
◦6 tablespoons raw sugar
◦8 tablespoons brown sugar
◦2 tablespoon baking powder
◦1/2 teaspoon salt
◦2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
◦2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
◦1 teaspoon ground all-spice
◦1 teaspoon ground ginger
◦1 cup pumpkin
◦2/3 cup coconut milk
◦2 teaspoons vanilla
◦12 tablespoons cold pre ripe banana

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a food processor or a large bowl combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice and ginger. Sprinkle the banana slices over the top of the flour and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and there are no pieces bigger then the size of a pea or use a pastry cutter to cut the banana into the dry ingredients; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, coconut milk and vanilla. If using a food processor, dump the contents into a large bowl and fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient until just moistened. Form the dough into a rough ball, try not to overwork the dough, it will be slightly crumbly and very moist. Divide the dough in half. Pat out half the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Use a  knife to cut the dough into 8 wedges. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly brown on the bottom. Place on wire rack to cool.

◦1 cup powdered sugar
◦1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
◦1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
◦1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla to small bowl. Slowly add the non-dairy milk while mixing with a fork or whisk. Drizzle over scones with a spoon.

These where very yummy! The kids loved them as well. I am glad my freezer is well stocked with pumpkin. I will be making these all winter long!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Doing Better!

I shared with you how difficult it has been preparing meals since we have started a plant based diet. I no longer had my "go to" familiar meals. Everything is new and different. It's like expecting to visit the dessert and getting sent to the rain forest.
It used to take me 30 minutes to make a menu for a week. Pick a couple new dishes and throw in the tried and true. For the last several weeks, I would sit at the kitchen table to prepare the coming week's menu and still be sitting there 3 hours later. I am happy to say that this Sunday I had the menu written in 45 minutes!! That's progress!
We also have come up with a system to help me gauge what "works" and what doesn't. If the majority of us like the meal, it gets a star next to it on the menu. The first 2 stars! Last week...5 stars! So that is five meals that can find their way inot the monthly rotation. We are making progress!
As a matter of fact, veggie burgers are on the menu for tonight. They are already premade, frozen and ready to grill! That means an easy night for me. Yah!
Are you curious which meals made the cut last week? Here they are:
Chickpea Cutlets
Veggie Burgers
Veggie Pizza w/soy sausage
Lentil Tacos
Tofu and veggies in ginger garlic sauce