Thursday, December 27, 2007

Several things

Why did I think I would get back here during the holiday season? I have been busy, busy, busy. On the bright side, I have done a lot of good cooking, but almost no writing. Here are some updates on the many topics I have thought about blogging in the past few weeks.

Having Friends Over for a Thanksgiving Meal

This is the meal with 3 other vegetarians sitting at the table, plus two friends who were just along for the totally vegetarian meal. We had a great time, and ate way too much food!

First, the appetizers--I made the dill dip I referenced in my last post, and my friend Tracey brought over olives cooked in crescent roll dough. These were SO GOOD! It may be a very 70's dish, but who cares? While we munched and I finished other things, I instructed Tracey in the making of the cranberry upside down cake from Urban Vegan. She did a great job! That was one of the best cakes I have ever had, just the right amount of sweetness without being too much.

I made:

A Tofurkey roast with carrots and onions
The gravy that came with the roast
My veggie sausage stuffing
Cranberry orange sauce
Pecan pie

My friend Andrea brought:

Nut loaf (pecans and sunflowers seeds, with rice and other yummy stuff)
Red potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
roasted Brussels sprouts with lots of pepper (so I didn't steam the broccoli and cauliflower that I had purchased for the meal)
Some spiced apples that we forgot to get out of the microwave until after everyone was totally stuffed

We had some wine, and we played Boggle after we ate. I loved having my friends from different spheres over--one couple who have a daughter in S's class, two moms of boys in M's class, and Mandy, my friend from high school. Everyone got along and I had a great time.

An Update on the Egg Thing

I had some eggs for breakfast the other morning, and they tasted kind of yucky. That was partly because the egg whites were still a little runny (shudder), but also, I think I am getting over the weird craving, whatever that was all about. I don't fantasize about eating eggs anymore, and I can easily look past the eggs in the morning to grab something else for breakfast. I don't know what that whole thing was all about, but I am glad it is over. I am still not cutting eggs out entirely, but I am making it a much more occasional thing.

Christmas cooking

I had friends over for Christmas Eve, and I made Snobby Joes, from the teaser recipes on the Veganomican page over on The PPK. I also made a bunch of Herb Roasted Potatoes from Vegan with a Vengeance, because I wanted them for Christmas breakfast, but I didn't want to get up over an hour early to get them ready. I thought both recipes were delicious, but the kids thought the joes were a bit too spicy. Next time I will tone down the chili powder, because I want this to be a kid-friendly recipe.

I did get up a little early on Christmas morning to make the asparagus and tomato fritatta, also from Vegan with a Vengeance. Wow, was that so good! After my mother ate a serving and talked about how good it was, I told her that it was a tofu fritatta, and she was surprised. She asked, "There's no egg in this at all?" Nope, and it was extremely yummy. I think it would have been even yummier with the sun-dried tomatoes that the recipe called for, but my mom doesn't like those, so I used fresh. I have enough trouble getting her to eat my "weird" vegetarian food, I don't need to start on a bad note with something she doesn't even like. I heated up the potatoes in the oven right after I pulled out the fritatta, and they were great.

New Cookbook

No one gave me a cookbook for Chirstmas, but my brother gave me a gift card to Border's, and Veganomican was the first book I picked up. I have been drooling over that book since it came out, but I was holding off and spending my money on gifts for other people. I went right to Border's the day after Christmas though and picked up the book first thing! I cannot wait to start cooking from that book!


That's all the news that's fit to print for now. Have a happy new year, everyone!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

All the Thanksgiving meals

November was definitely a month for eating too much food. I have a lot more difficulty eating moderately around Thanksgiving than Christmas, because Thanksgiving food is real food, not junk. Well, except for the pie and cake, but it's still not an endless supply of cookies and candy like Christmas food is.

The first Thanksgiving meal was about a week before the actual holiday, at work. We do a big potluck for all the people on my floor. Okay, not all, but a lot of people participate. Of course, these meals generally have a lot of meat, and I don't even want to think about the dairy involved, but there is generally enough food available for me to eat far too much anyway. This year I brought my favorite stuffing, made with veggie sausage:

Sausage Apple Stuffing

~6 cups bread crumbs (I use whole wheat bread, cut into cubes and toasted a bit in the oven)
1 pkg. Lightlife Gimme Lean sausage
1 apple, diced
1 onion, diced
¼ cup raisins
1 TBSP poultry seasoning
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 ¼ cup apple juice (or, in my case, 2 6.75 ounce juice boxes, because that’s what I had on hand)

Gimme Lean sausage is very low fat, so I find it difficult to just crumble it in the skillet and cook it like normal sausage. So, I spray some cooking spray in the skillet, slice the sausage, fry until done, and then chop it into small pieces. Remove to a large bowl. Saute the apple, onion and raisins (the original recipe called for celery, too, but you will never find that stringy vegetable in any of my recipes!) with a little more cooking spray, then add to the bowl with the sausage. Mix in the poultry seasoning and walnuts, then stir in the breadcrumbs. Finally, pour the juice over the top and mix one more time.

Don’t do like I do every time, and put it straight into an unprepared baking dish. This stuffing is too good to be missing all the stuff that sticks to the dish. Spray the pan down well, then throw in the stuffing and bake at whatever temperature all your other dishes are cooking, generally 350. I bake it until it smells great in my kitchen and looks done, which is not a scientific measurement. I know it when I see it, but I can’t tell you how. I think it is about 30-40 minutes, though.

I am also lucky in this sort of potluck in that we have a fair contingent of Indians on my floor, so I am not the only vegetarian. This year, though, there weren't any good veggie curries. Still, I had a good salad, lots of my stuffing, veggies, cranberry sauce, fruit, pumpkin pie, cherry cobbler and peppermint patties. I am sure the pie was not dairy-free, but overall, it was a fairly successful meal.

On Thanksgiving day, we went to my parents’ house. I didn’t cook as much as I intended to make originally, because I knew that most of the stuff I was making would not be appreciated by my family, and I would be having friends over the following weekend that would appreciate it all. I did make a pecan pie, cranberry sauce, mashed candied sweet potatoes, nutmeg mushrooms, steamed green beans and this great dill dip:

Dill Dip in a Round Rye bread
1 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
2/3 cup Nayonnaise
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp English Prime Rib seasoning (the original recipe calls for Beau Monde, but Penzey’s doesn’t carry that—I am only a little freaked out at all these “meat seasonings” I am using; first poultry seasoning and now this ;-))
1 TBSP dried onion flakes
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 large round loaf of rye bread

Mix the first 6 ingredients well. Cut a bowl into the top of the rye loaf, tearing up the cut out bread for dipping. Place the dip in the bowl and eat with the rye bread chunks, tearing up the bowl when the chunks are gone.

This is insanely good. My family devoured this in about 20 minutes, just me, my mom, my dad and my brother. The kids did eat a little of the bread, but they aren’t much for dip.

I still have one more meal to describe, but that will have to wait for another time. It was delicious, though! And, of the 5 people I had over, 3 of them were actually vegetarians, so I wasn’t outnumbered in my non-meat-eating ways for a change. Not that I mind cooking for anyone, it was just a nice change.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I have finally done enough unpacking to feel comfortable inviting some people over to my house. The apartment is still not stranger-ready, really, but it is looking good enough to have friends over. Woohoo!

On Friday of this past weekend, I had two other single moms from my childrens' school over with their kids. I am glad I have the bigger apartment to accomodate 3 moms and 6 kids (mostly the 6 kids--they need a lot of space!). I got out my cool appetizer platter and put roasted garlic hummus in the center, then piled sun-dried tomato and basil Wheat Thins, baby carrots, olives, pickles, dried plums and a spicy nut mix. I gave the kids some veggie sticks, which sound healthy, but is really just slightly healthier junk food. Many of them came in and ate pickles, olives and baby carrots, too, though. One 6 year old boy even drank some of the pickle juice! Just a little bit, because we wanted to see if he really would like it. He said it was good, but he didn't clamor for more when it was done ;-).

For dinner we had chickpeas and yukon gold potatoes cooked in a store bought vindaloo sauce that was actually nicely spicy. I find that a lot of store-bought sauces are too bland for me, but this one had a definite kick. We had brown basmati rice cooked with bombay saffron rice spice and Thai green beans from Trader Joe's. I was worried that it wouldn't be enough food, but many of the children were too busy playing to eat much, so I had plenty of leftovers to enjoy.

I had so much fun having people over on Friday that I did it again on Saturday. This time I invited my friend Mandy, her 11 year old daughter and one of her neices, A. My daughter has been wanting to do more with A for some time, but she goes to a different school, and I am not friends with her mother, so we don't see them very often. This time we were pretty casual. We had some hummus and flatbread for an appetizer, and I made a pasta with carmelized cauliflower recipe from the most recent issue of Vegetarian Times. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love that magazine? There is always something in there that I want to make, usually more than one thing. In this same issue is a wonderful looking vegan moussaka, which I am going to make sometime when I have more time available. And some adorable cranberry molds I am going to use to replace my gelatin based cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, as mentioned below.) Everyone ate at least some of the dish, which I consider a success with picky pre-teen girls.

On another note, I was mistaken, the children will be with me for Thanksgiving this year! There are definitely some times when I am glad to be wrong. I am still doing most of my cooking at home, though, and avoiding the smoke.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thanksgiving menu, so far

You mean it isn't a requirement to make too much food on Thanksgiving? I never got that memo ;-).

Spinach dip with wheat thins (made with Tofutti sour cream and Nayonnaise)
Dill dip and rye bread (ditto above)
hummus stuffed cherry tomatoes
veggies, maybe with hidden valley ranch dip (is that vegan?)

Main meal:

My neighbor is going to bring a nut loaf and mashed potatoes
Punk rock chick pea gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance or mushroom gravy
Vegetarian sausage, apple and walnut stuffing
Sweet potato casserole
Steamed green beans with minced onion
Candied carrots with dried cranberries
Nutmeg mushrooms
Cranberry molds from the latest Vegetarian Times magazine, because my normal cranberry relish uses jell-o, which is obviously not vegetarian


Pecan pie, not vegan, because it has eggs
Cranberry upside down cake, recipe from a blog somewhere that I have favorited at home
Some kind of non-dairy vanilla ice cream

I think I might be forgetting something. I go a little crazy over Thanksgiving, :-D

This may or may not be on Thanksgiving. I may do this with a group of friends the following weekend, and take a smaller amount of food to my parents' house for the day itself. What I am not going to do is spend all day at my parent's house cooking while my dad makes the turkey and their yucky stuffing but otherwise everyone sits in a different room watching tv and ignoring me. If my neighbor stays in town, I am hosting the meal on Thanksgiving and inviting my family, although they may not come since I am not making a turkey. My kids are going to be at their dad's house this year anyway, so I am not subjecting myself to all that. Plus, the cigarette smoke! Yuck-o.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Egg Thing is Creeping Me Out

As I mentioned before, I really like eggs. So much, I decided to just give in and declare eggs a part of my diet for now. But I am wondering if I should change my mind again. Not because I don't like them, but because I really, really like them. Maybe a bit too much.

I am not kidding, I fantasize about eating eggs these days. I am averaging 2 per day, but yesterday I ate 3. I make one in the morning, and then I have to make another one, because I am just not satisfied. When I am hungry, I start thinking about how good those eggs are, and I can even feel the texture in my mouth, along with the taste. This does not seem right to me.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that people often crave foods that are actually bad for them, but I am too lazy right now to go search for the link. I mean, foods that you are allergic to, not just the generic bad stuff we all crave, like candy and potato chips. It is starting to make me wonder about these eggs, because it seems like such a weird thing to crave all the time. But, I don't want to give them up! I love them!

See what I mean? It's kind of creepy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

World Vegan Day

This Thursday, 11/1/07, is World Vegan Day. I found out on the message boards at LibraryThing just now, so I don't have any plans as yet, but I think I will try to be as vegan as I can on Thursday. This could present a slight shoe problem, as I think my brown winter shoes are leather, but I will see what I can do.

I did send an email to the people that attend the vegetarian potluck here at work, but I haven't heard back from anyone yet. But, I don't think I ever mentioned how cool my vegetarian potluck group is. We meet once a month for lunch, and the group is open to anyone who wants to attend, but there is a core group of about 6 of us that have been coming the whole time, which is 2 or 3 years now. We are not all vegetarians, but obviously we all have some interest in vegetarianism. Of those of us who do not eat meat, there is a lot of going back and forth between meat-eating and vegetarianism. We have graduated beyond a lunch group to a group of friends, with field trips out to area restaurants outside of work, and even one dinner at a member's house. I am planning on inviting everyone over when I finish unpacking (note to self: get cracking!). One group member was even one of my biggest helpers with my move this summer. I think it is so awesome that we got together just to share good food, and we have grown beyond that to real friends. And, once a month I am guaranteed a great lunch at work!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Skinny Bitch

Copying from my book blog, because it is relevant here:

71. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

This was an interesting book on the benefits of the vegan diet. On the one hand, I liked the way they tried to take some of the mainstream stigma away from a vegan diet with their tough-love tone and complete lack of "crunchiness." I don't have a problem with alternative lifestyle stuff, but it was nice to read a book with straightforward, practical reasons for veganism, not the kind of touchy-feely stuff that turns off a lot of people, or strident, disapproving activism. Not that they were shy about talking about the abuse of animals that occurs on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, but they did it in a more informational tone than a condemning one. On the other hand, their use of profanity was gratuitous and over the top. Overall, though, I enjoyed this short book, which had a nice balance of information on why people should change and practical tips to make the change.


I am still having a hard time staying away from eggs, and eating fish does still make it easier to eat out, but I am trying to make sure I am at least not overdoing it. I still try to eat totally vegan for most of the time. Maybe I should cut it all out, but I figure almost vegan is better than not at all vegan. The book was helpful in strengthening my resolve at least somewhat. I was starting to think about how much easier life would be if I could eat at my parents' house (translation, if I ate meat), but I am not thinking about that any more. So, at least it is helping to keep me from sliding any further.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Planning Victory

The last time I tried to do some cooking ahead on the weekend, I way over-planned. I didn't get half of what I planned done, so I felt like a failure there. So, with school starting for both kids this week, I decided to make a more modest plan. I just made a big pot of rice on Sunday, and boxed it up for use through the week. And it worked! This is the easiest, quickest way to have a big impact on the week.

Sunday night I didn't use the rice at all, though--we just had tacos. I got soft corn tortillas, Lightlife soy taco meat, Follow Your Heart nacho cheese and grape tomatoes, and we had a quick and easy meal. The kids ate plums and I had a pluot to round it out somewhat.

Monday I worked from home for a half day after getting the boy off to his first day of Kindergarten, so I had extra time to cook something. I have been wanting to try this chicken and dumpling recipe for a long time, so I took advantage of my extra time. Oh my goodness, was the seitan good! I forgot to get plain soy milk, and I didn't add enough liquid to the dumplings, so they were only okay, but the deliciousness of the seitan and the gravy more than made up for it. Even the girl said that she didn't expect to like it at all, but it was actually absolutely delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Often.

Tuesday the kids were at their dad's house, and I had a really hard cardio kickboxing class, so I didn't get home until 7:30. By the time my muscles stopped resembling a big bowl of jelly at about 8:30, I was really glad that all I had to do was heat up some Thai green beans from Trader Joe's and serve over already made rice. What a relief.

Yesterday was my birthday, so we went out to California Pizza Kitchen. I had split pea soup, Thai Curry Noodles and a fruity drink with pomegranate schnapps.

Tonight we are going to have veggie meatballs with a sauce made from tomato soup, applesauce, chili sauce and agave nectar, more of the pre-made rice and some kind of veggie.

This weekend I am on my own again, so I imagine I will have a bunch of variations on the bowl of rice, veggie and a sauce theme.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Problem with Eggs

I love them.

I never used to be a big egg fan, except when I was pregnant. Both of the last two times I was a vegetarian, I went ahead and gave up eggs, because I wasn't eating meat, and I couldn't eat dairy anyway, so I thought that I might as well give up eggs and go all the way (well, mostly). But when I was pregnant with my children, I loved eggs. After I had my daughter, the craving passed, but since I have had my son, I just can't get enough eggs. They are so good. A good over medium egg with that creamy, rich yolk, oh yum. And they are good with hot sauce and hash browns. And omelettes, with lots of veggies.

So, my next project is going to be finding a source for local eggs, from chickens that walk around in a farm yard, rather than living in cages. I know a farmer's market that I can probably go to for this. At least that way I am not contributing to animal cruelty when I eat eggs at home. Now, what am I going to do about eggs in restaurants?

Maybe I will reconsider this again, but for now, eggs are officially in my diet. I think this still makes me an almost vegan, although I know I am moving further away.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I went to my dad's house this weekend, and he invited us to stay for dinner. He offered to make salmon, but while I haven't completely sworn off seafood, I prefer to avoid it most of the time, so I went to the store with him to see what looked good. After much searching through the store, I came up with the following easy and delicious meal.

Fake Crab and Veggie Stir-Fry
(I know, this isn't a great recipe name. Let me know if you have a better one.)

1 bag Rainbow Salad mix (shredded hearts of broccoli and cauliflower, shredded carrots and red cabbage)
1/2 bag angel hair shredded cabbage
1 pound AuraPro crab meat substitute
about 1/2 bottle Soy Vay Island Teriyaki sauce

It doesn't get much easier than this. I put this all in a big skillet, using a wooden spoon to break apart the fake crab. Then I simmered it, covered, for about 10 minutes, until it was all good and hot, and the veggies were tender, but not mushy. I made Minute Rice to go with, because that is the only kind of rice my parents had in their pantry, but I would usually use brown basmati rice.

This was so incredibly yummy, and healthy, and easy. The boy loved it, and the girl didn't hate it, although she wouldn't admit to any enthusiasm at all.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Following my plan

Well, not so much.

Actually, I didn't do too bad, I guess. Saturday night I had just what I posted, which isn't that shocking since it was in the oven while I composed my post. Sunday, I made cream of broccoli soup for lunch and put the leftovers in containers to take to work. But then I didn't feel like cooking ahead any more. For dinner that night, we had cheese pizza, made by the girl, and I ate a salad.

Monday, I ate tofurkey italian sausages, but Tuesday I didn't cook anything. I didn't get home from the Muny until after midnight on Monday, so I didn't get enough sleep that night. Then I worked late, and the kids didn't want to come home from grandma and grandpa's house, so I didn't get home until about 9PM. On top of that, I had to go to work early for a meeting on Wednesday, so I just threw together a salad and heated some frozen channa dal samosas and had those with mint chutney. Exhaustion and cooking don't mix.

Without even consulting my menu, though, I got back on track last night and had the seitan curry in a hurry. That was really yummy, although it was a little sweet. The recipe calls for either mango chutney or mincemeat, and I used the mincemeat in the hope that it would make it more acceptable to the girl. She still said it was too spicy, so next time I am using the chutney. The boy tried a raisin first and said he didn't like it, but I convinced him to try the seitan, and then he ate it all. He's a good little eater, and he likes spicier foods. The seitan was perfect in this recipe. One of these days I am going to have to make my own though--pre-made seitan is expensive!

Tonight we had Susan V's International Quinoa salad. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Of course, I am alone in that opinion, but I am hoping it will grow on them. It also seems like a wonderful recipe for a potluck; it makes a ton, and it's pretty. I will definitely keep this in mind next time I get invited to a family BBQ.

So, not too bad. We actually had the item on the night that I said we would 3 times, and ate two of the other meals I had planned, just on different nights. We only skipped one recipe, the ratatouille, and I am going to try to make that this weekend. I don't want to throw out all those veggies. I am glad I sat down to examine my plan here, because I had the impression that I hadn't followed it at all, but I actually did pretty well. I will have to keep this menu planning thing going.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Cooking ahead

I had a couple of disturbing experiences with sweets this week. The first involved an enormous fruit smoothie at Maggie Moo’s, which seemed like a great idea when I first saw it. Real fruit, sorbet, fruit juice—and all low-fat. Unfortunately, it tasted like berry flavored sugar, mostly, and it was far too big. When the guy gave it to me, I reminded him that I ordered the regular, not the large, but he said that was the regular. Way, WAY too much. The second bad experience was with some baklava, which is not vegan, I know, but I just love it, and I almost never eat it, so I decided to indulge. Both times, all that sugar made me feel sick—a bit nauseated and a bit jumpy, like my body couldn’t handle all that sugar at once. Not good, since I had gestational diabetes with my youngest, and I really don’t ever want to go back to that. I had it bad, with sticks 4 times a day to test my sugar, and insulin injections three times a day. I hated every minute of it.

So, I decided that it is time to get even more serious about eating healthy. I am not doing so terrible, but my big downfall is eating out, especially during the summer. I try to make healthy choices when I eat at restaurants, but I can’t get as many fruits and veggies with my meal as I can at home, and restaurants almost always use a lot more fat to cook their food than I do. I was commenting about this to a friend not too long ago—I always lose weight when I do a lot of cooking at home, and it almost doesn’t matter what I cook. I say that because my highest-fat meals are still lower in fat and calories than a lot of the food you get out at restaurants (I don’t deep fry at all, for instance). But, despite lots of trying, I haven’t gotten completely back in the habit of cooking at home. I have a renewed determination now, though.

Today I took this motivation and used it to do some menu-planning. I looked around online and in some of my cookbooks, and I came up with a great plan. I even made a grocery list. Unfortunately, I also bought a bunch of stuff that was not on the list, so I spent an arm and a leg! Oh well, I guess it is just motivation to stay out of those restaurants this week. As part of my strategy to make sure I don’t waste all this food I bought, I am going to cook up some food tomorrow to take me through the week.

First, I am going to make a batch of Cream of Broccoli soup from The Family Vegetarian Cookbook. That will be a perfect afternoon snack instead of heading to the coffee shop for a scone. I always want something real food like about 3:00, but it is hard to grab something easy and vegan near the office. I am also going to make a big batch of Susan V’s International Quinoa salad for dinner tomorrow night. That recipe makes 10 servings, so I should have plenty to take for lunches during the week. And I will roast the veggies for this fabulous-looking ratatouille, so that I can make it more quickly during the week.

I’d like to think that I am going to make more, but I think I am taking baby steps into this cooking ahead thing. Even having a couple of easy things to grab will make it easier to resist temptation as the week progresses. Here is my menu for the week:

Tonight: salad, black bean and soy cheese taquitos, salsa, baby bananas
Sunday: International Quinoa Salad, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, blueberries
Monday: I am going to the Muny with my mom, so I will just grab a Tofurkey Italian sausage that I left there from the boy’s birthday BBQ yesterday and whatever fruits and veggies she might have around
Tuesday: Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille, gnocchi, salad
Wednesday: Rachael Ray’s Curry in a Hurry, with seitan substituted for the chicken, mangoes, brown rice, some kind of veggie (maybe green beans to appease the kiddoes)
Thursday: Sloppy Joe pizza, steamed veggies, some kind of fruit

Friday the kids go back to their dad’s, so I imagine I will have easy stuff. I bought one of the new Amy’s pizzas—the spinach kind that is vegan. I can eat that for a few meals. But that is mostly a problem for next weekend. First I have to be good about following this one.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Dinner, fast!

I haven’t been around much now that it is summer, but I haven’t forgotten my blog entirely. It’s just that summer is so much less structured, all my habits change. My children spend a lot of time with their dad (6 weeks, in 2 week chunks), and I am not home much during that time. It just gets so lonely here when they are gone. Why, yes, I do know that I am pathetic, why do you ask? ;-) The kids came back this weekend, though, so I have been cooking again. I am trying to cook up what I have in the house, both to use up stuff I don’t have room for in my storage-challenged new kitchen, and to save some money, so cooking is a bit of an adventure these days.

I came home from work today with no idea what to make for dinner, so I hit the cookbooks. Now, I love my Vegan With a Vengeance book, but at 6:30 this evening, every recipe I looked at needed an hour’s marinating, or 30 minutes on the stove followed by an hour in the oven, or 3 labor intensive components that had to be baked for 45 minutes after they were assembled. So, they obviously weren’t happening.

Next I turned to The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, by Nava Atlas. I’ve mentioned this cookbook before, but it’s been awhile since I looked at it, and I had forgotten just how wonderful it is. I quickly found a delicious recipe that I mostly had the ingredients to make, and I was able to throw together a good nutritious dinner while I chatted with a friend for about 20 minutes. The boy ate well, and the girl didn’t complain too much, which is a victory with her. Of course, I threatened her with dire punishments if she said anything bad about the food—she is always doing that, and then the boy has to say he doesn’t like it, just like his big sister. But, if I can get her to keep her opinions to herself, he almost always really likes what I make. I have to say, if you like good food that is not difficult to make and that appeals to a wide array of people, you need to buy this book.

Stewed Tofu with Corn and Tomatoes

1 pound firm tofu
2 Tbsp light olive oil
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (the original recipe called for fresh tomatoes, but I didn’t have any)
3 cups cooked corn (I did one can, drained, because that is what I had)
4 scallions, sliced
1 tsp paprika
Freshly gound pepper, to taste
Minced fresh parsley or cilantro for topping, optional (I used cilantro, yummy!)

Slice the tofu and press between paper towels or clean kitchen towels, then dice the slices into small cubes. Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed skillet until just hot, and gently fry the tofu, stirring, until the pieces are mostly golden. I added the scallions, giving everything a quick stir at this point, then added the tomatoes, corn and paprika, stirred everything together and ground some pepper on top, stirred again, and let it all simmer gently for about five minutes. Of course, you could add salt at this point, but I never cook with salt, so I didn’t. I ladled the stew into bowls and topped my portion with chopped cilantro and more freshly ground pepper, but neither of the kids wanted any cilantro. Very good and easy, we will definitely be having this again!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Camping menu

We went camping from Monday, June 4 to Friday, June 8. That's four nights of vegan food, plus 4 breakfasts and lunches. We camped in a tent this time, so we had to keep our cooler stocked with ice, but it turned out pretty well.

For lunches, I brought tofurkey lunch meats, peanut butter, and tortillas for the kids. We had a lot of fruit all around, and some baby carrots, too. For myself, I made a curried chickpea salad to replace my old favorite of curried chicken salad. It was good, but I added a bit too much curry powder. Next time I know how to make it better. We also took some Lara bars--oh my goodness, these are so good! Cashew cookie is my favorite, and they have only two ingredients, cashews and dates. Convenience food made out of real food and nothing else? Heaven. The kids loved the cherry pie and apple pie flavors. Checking out the website, I see that they have even more flavors that I didn't know about. I am definitely going to have to hunt down a Key Lime Pie bar to try. Oooo, and ginger snap. And cinnamon roll. (I'd link you directly to these flavors so that you can easily see the wonderfulness here, but they have one of those websites that I hate, where you click around and it puts up content, but the page address never changes. I don't get their blog, either. The description makes it sound like if you click on their link to launch their blog, you will be generating the content--"A new window will appear and you will be bloggin' in no time at all!"--but it seems that they do in fact write the blog themselves. Maybe you can email them stuff to post, or maybe they don't get that blogging means writing a blog, not any generic activity associated with blogs, like reading them. Odd for a group of people writing a website.)

For breakfasts, it was mostly whole wheat mini-bagels and Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese. I know, that isn't terribly healthy, but the kids love the stuff, and it is vegan. We also ate a lot of fruit, and I brought some cereal and rice milk.

Dinner menus:

Monday: Pizza! I made the Basil-Tofu Ricotta from Vegan with a Vengeance before we left, and brought along a premade whole grain crust and some pizza sauce from Trader Joe's. When we got there, I assembled the pizza and wrapped it in aluminum foil and cooked it over the fire. It turned out pretty well, but we are thinking about bringing charcoal next time to get a hotter cooking fire. We had salad on the side with this. Well, the kids didn't, but I shared with my friend.

Tuesday: Tofurky Italian sausages on whole wheat buns with a little cream cheese, new potates and asparagus roasted in a foil packet with olive oil, thyme and parsley

Wednesday: Beanie Weenies, recipe from my McDougall Quick and Easy cookbook, leftover asparagus and potatoes, fruit

Thursday: Falafel, tahini sauce that I made before we left, roasted garlic hummus, all wrapped in whole wheat tortillas and served with grape tomatoes on the side, salad, fruit

The kids weren't as thrilled with falafel night as they were with all the other choices (especially the beanie weenies, when they eagerly sat at the table and ate seconds), but they were fairly content with the choices. As always, I wish they would eat more vegetables, but they did eat a LOT of fruit. One day for lunch, we did whole wheat tortillas spread with peanut butter and wrapped around bananas, which is one of their favorites. Overall, I'd say this longer vegan camping trip was a success. The key was planning ahead, and making the basil-tofu ricotta and the tahini sauce at home before we left. That way I had everything I needed and didn't need to spend a lot time sitting at a picnic table getting the meals ready to be cooked.

If anyone has any other great ideas for vegan meals while camping, please let me know--we will be doing this again!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A few things

I am always doing this. I get busy, I think of several things I want to say, and then I come here and do a big brain dump. I have a few topics that I am going to save for their own posts, but here are some small items I just have to get out.

My New Favorite Meal

Last night for dinner I made New Farm Mac and Cheez, recipe from Jess at Get Sconed! Oh my goodness, I could not believe how creamy good this was. I won't add any bread crumbs next time, but mainly because the kids hated them. We had steamed broccoli and cauliflower on the side, and I chopped some apricots, added some blackberries and juiced a lime over the fruit for dessert. So healthy and yummy!

The Dishwasher!

It's running right now. I love it so much. I was right, it does help me to cook more. It is so much easier to cook in a kitchen that has counters that are not piled high with dirty dishes. I am so much less overwhelmed at the thought of cooking AND cleaning up. I would even go so far as to say that the dishwasher has made my life better. I love it so much, I cannot overstate it. Well, I don't want to marry it or anything, and no idol worship, but my adoration is just short of those states.


Not my favorite activity. I am really struggling with the fact that my new kitchen has less storage than the old one. This will force me to get rid of some stuff I don't need and plan ahead a bit. I am getting rid of some stuff as I find cans of chicken broth and big containers of mayonnaise, though.

Menu Planning

I made a real plan this week. Oh, and last week, too, while I was camping, but more about that in another post. It is nice to come home from work knowing what we are going to have, and having everything I need to make the meal. Here is what we are having/have had:

Monday: falafel with tahini sauce, hummus, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, and mache lettuce, sauteed zucchini, baked fries

Tuesday: (listed up above)

Wednesday: leftovers, peanut butter sandwiches for the kids (it's tumbling night at the gym for the girl, and it falls right during dinner time)

Thursday: Curried Stir-Fried Noodles with Vegetables, salad, and whatever fruit we have lying around (we have lots, so we’ll just grab whatever looks good.

On Friday, the kids go to their dad’s for two weeks, so I’ll be eating leftovers and trying to use up any veggies in the fridge. I just need to stay away from the restaurants—I always want to eat out while they are gone. It’s lonely here without them :-(.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I've mentioned this before--I hate to do dishes. I know, who doesn't? This seriously gets in the way of cooking as often as I would like, though. I either need to clean before I can cook, and lack the energy, or I just don't want to go to all the trouble of getting a lot of dishes dirty that will just need to be washed later.

That is all going to change, though--I am moving to an apartment with a dishwasher! WOOHOO! My new apartment will also have an extra bedroom so that the girl and the boy don't have to share anymore (and so that all their stuff will fit in their rooms rather than my living room!), and TWO more closets. Wow. All this for only $100 more than I am paying now. And the best part? It's in my building, so I don't need to rent a truck. Of course, I will still need to carry stuff downstairs from my 3rd floor apartment and then upstairs to my new 3rd floor apartment since the only floor with a hallway that goes all the way through is the basement, but hey, no big truck. And, I don't have to move the stuff out of my storage unit.

If I don't make it here very often, imagine me packing and going up and down a lot of stairs. Maybe it will even help with some weight loss! I'm taking some stuff to Good Will, too. That will be a few trips just down to the car, which will be nice. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ah, Air-Conditioning

Ever since I started this almost vegan project, I have been thinking a lot about my impact on the environment. As I talked about just after Earth Day, I hate the idea that you would only do one thing for the good of the environment that we live in, and I have been trying to think of other ways I can live green. One of the things I have been looking at is my use of electricity. So, as the weather has started to get hotter, I have been trying to resist the siren call of air conditioning. I have ceiling fans, and I have been changing into shorts and tank tops when I get home from work. It’s been getting cool at night, so it hasn’t been too bad.

The big problem is, I live on the third floor. These methods weren’t going to work for very long. Finally, tonight, I realized that I could be fairly comfortable only if I sat perfectly still under the fans. My kitchen needed cleaning, but trying to stand at the kitchen sink doing dishes resulted in a steady drip of sweat off my nose, into the soapy water. That didn’t seem very sanitary to me, so I gave up on my battle to keep the a/c off. I really wanted to turn it on last week, so I guess I did hold out for a while, but I just couldn’t take it anymore! Oh well, I’ll keep looking for other green methods that fit into my life better.

For dinner tonight, we had pizza with For Your Heart Vegan Mozzarella. The girl shredded the cheese, and she put a LOT of cheese on the pizza. We had used this cheese before and liked it, but this time we used a lot more, and it tasted a lot more like cow milk cheese, for some reason. It tasted really good when I was eating it, but when I was done with a slice, I felt a little queasy. I know that it doesn’t have any dairy, but when it tastes so much like it does, it’s hard to convince my taste buds that everything will be all right. What a criticism, huh? Your fake cheese is too much like real cheese!

Friday, April 27, 2007

A new cookbook!

I had been thinking about buying Vegan with a Vengeance for a while when I came across this post on Eat Air: A Vegan Food Log. The picture of Maple-Mustard Glazes Potatoes looked so good, it was the final impetus I needed to go order this cookbook. It wasn’t so much that I HAD to make that recipe, it was more that a critical mass of great recommendations had been reached that propelled me over the edge to make the purchase (not that it is that hard to convince me to buy a book!).

When the book arrived in the mail, it looked just as good as I thought it would. I love all the extra bits of information on how to host a public access tv show, or Food Not Bombs, or how to host a brunch café. I have actually found myself reading the book, rather than just paging through and glancing at recipe titles. Today, while riding the Metrolink home from work, I came across the Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans recipe that had sent me to the online bookstore, and I realized that I had most of the ingredients for this recipe. Not only did I have fresh green beans and Yukon gold potatoes, I had beans and potatoes that needed to be used before they went bad! Talk about serendipity! I hate throwing fresh veggies away (although I am thinking this weekend we are definitely going to start our own fire escape composting bin; still, while composting food is better than throwing it in a landfill, eating it is better still). So, I was even more excited when I started actually assembling the recipe, and I realized that I didn’t have the yellow onions called for, but I did have a leek that would otherwise go to waste. Ah, it’s the little things in life that are exciting, isn’t it?

There are so many recipes in this book that I want to make. I just need to make a grocery list so that I can actually make the recipes, not necessarily food inspired by the recipes, like tonight’s creation (I didn’t have Dijon mustard, either, but stoneground seemed to work just fine). Not that there is anything wrong with changing a recipe—I firmly believe that recipes are guidelines, not laws—but it is nice to change things consciously, because I think I will like it better, rather than by necessity. On the other hand, there is nothing quite like the experience of realizing that you are out of a key ingredient midway through your meal preparation and still being able to produce a delicious dish.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Several things, again

I have been so busy lately, I haven’t had time to post, but I have been thinking about things I want to post, so I am dumping it all here now, before I forget it.

Vegan Clothing

Near the end of last week I was talking to my next door neighbor, who also happens to be a vegetarian, about the process of going vegan. I was telling her that I am still struggling with vegan food although I am doing pretty well, but I am not even ready to address vegan clothing. And anyway, vegan clothing is all ugly or, if it is nice, way too expensive. Then, the next day, there was an article on my local paper’s site about environmentally friendly fashion that listed some more affordable and attractive options. I am still not convinced that I can go to vegan clothing entirely (for one thing, one of the materials highlighted in the article is merino wool, which I have mixed feelings about), but I am not so certain it would be impossible, either. There was even a fun article on recycling various materials to make jewelry. Then, I went to the Earth Day festival on Sunday (more on that below), and got the cutest blue bamboo top for only $32, which I thought was totally reasonable. I am wearing it today and it is so comfortable, and I really like the way it looks. So, I am thinking a bit more about this.

Earth Day Festival

I have never attended the Earth Day Festival here in St. Louis, but I will be going in the years to come. Despite coming home totally sunburned, I had a great time. I ate an AuraPro pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw on top from the chef for Terrene, recreating one of my favorite sandwiches, back in my meat eating days. I will definitely be visiting that restaurant sometime soon—not only do they have delicious vegetarian food, they use organic, sustainable food practices. As I mentioned above, I bought an awesome shirt. And, I found a local group that has vegetarian potlucks on a regular basis. I hate their website, but I like the idea of meeting other vegetarians in the area. I saw belly dancers, salsa dancers and some kind of stylized fighting dance that looked to be African, but I didn’t catch the group name, and I can’t find it on the festival webpage, but they were all very impressive.

What would you do to save the environment?

During the Earth Day buildup, my local paper’s website had a poll on actions to save the environment. I can’t link directly to it, since they have it as a popup, but I can tell you that I found it very annoying, because you had to pick one thing only. What a useless poll! If ever there was a question that begs to allow more than one choice, it is “What would you do to help keep the earth green?” Right after I saw that poll, I noticed this post from BlogHer on my Google sidebar webclips. Elisha Camahort proposes an Earth Day meme to show that you can do more than one thing, and I think it is a great idea. Here is my list of the top 5 things I do for the environment:

1. Moving toward a vegan lifestyle.
2. Recycle as much as possible.
3. Use compact fluorescent lights in my home.
4. Take public transportation to work and walk as many places as possible.
5. Bring reusable bags with me to the farmer’s market and store.

Returning to an old favorite

This weekend when I went to the Farmer’s Market, I bought a huge head of cabbage. I love cabbage, but I particularly had in mind this dish that is kind of like a loose, messy cabbage roll. I used to make this a lot during my last time as a vegetarian, but I haven’t made it in years before last night. I don’t know why, it is delicious and healthy. Normally I would mix the mashed potatoes in with the whole mess, but I kept them separate this time for the benefit of my children. Also, I didn’t even think to check the ingredients on the tomato soup until I was getting ready to type this up, so I have no idea if they are vegan. I hope so, but if not, I know I can get the Imagine soup for next time.

Cabbage Stew

½ large head of cabbage
1 large or 2 medium leeks
1 red bell pepper
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can condensed tomato soup
freshly ground pepper
garlic powder

Slice the cabbage and add to a large soup pot. Add about 4 cups of water and bring to a boil; reduce hit and simmer with a lid on the pot while you continue to chop veggies. Chop the leek and wash thoroughly in a bowl of water, draining several times to get all the dirt from in between the layers; push the slices apart to make sure they get clean all the way through. Add drained leeks to the soup pot. Chop the bell pepper and add that to the pot, too. Cover and let this all hang out for ten or fifteen minutes or so, until the cabbage is tender (I didn’t use the timer, I cleared off the table and looked at the mail and other stuff like that). Drain the veggies in a colander, but don’t worry too much about getting it all dry. I dumped it, gave it a couple of quick shakes and put it back in the pot. Turn the stove back on and add the stewed tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break the tomatoes up a bit (and incidentally, some of the big slices of cabbage); add the tomato soup and mix well. Grind in some pepper and add the garlic powder to taste. We like garlic a lot, so I added quite a bit, but I didn’t measure, so I am not sure how much. Put the lid back on and simmer for 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Somewhere in the midst of all this, I washed, peeled and chunked 5 or 6 small Yukon gold potatoes, boiled them until they were soft and mashed them with a little bit of Earth Balance margarine and plain rice milk. I had the stew over the potatoes, and it was almost like stuffed cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes, except without the ground beef.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


When my smoothie maker broke a few months ago, I was really bummed out. We had been having fruit smoothies almost every morning and I hated that our routine was going to be disrupted. Part of the reason I was so disappointed was that suspected that what was going to happen was what actually did happen. First, it took a while for me to get to the store (and to remember that I needed a new blender at the same time that I was in the store). Then, some clutter took over the spot where the smoothie maker used to sit, so I didn’t even get the new blender out of the box for a long time.

Last night, though, while I was at the grocery store, I found myself remembering all of the bananas that I threw in the freezer because they were turning brown, and missing my morning smoothies. So, I stocked up on orange juice and frozen fruit, and this morning, we all had Very Cherry Berry Smoothies. I forgot what a great start to the day a good smoothie makes! Again, my recipe is not really exact, but here it is anyway.

Fruit Smoothies (for the three of us)

1 ½ - 2 cups orange juice
2 bananas, fresh or frozen
2 cups frozen fruit (my favorites are berries, peaches or mangoes)
1 – 2 tsp vanilla

Pour the juice in the blender, add the bananas and fruit. Push the fruit down into the juice; it should stick up over the top a bit, but not a lot. Splash the vanilla on top, and blend until smooth and creamy. Fresh fruit is good, too, but frozen makes it seem almost like soft-serve ice cream, especially with the peaches for some reason. I love the vanilla in this!

The kiddoes love these, too, and I love seeing them start the day off with such a healthy boost. I feel better, too. I know that returning to this morning habit will make us all feel even better the more we do it.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I throw away too many vegetables. I tend to buy a lot of vegetables, because I love them, and I love how I feel when I get plenty of veggies in my diet. But as the week progresses, I find myself grabbing whatever is easiest, which is often not my veggies. Tonight, I decided that I needed to do something to reverse the trend. Thus, Clean Out the Refrigerator Night. This is actually a recipe I like to make often, but it is an adaptable recipe, depending on what I have to use up.

Veggies and Couscous

5-6 cups of veggies, whatever you have (tonight I used mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, a leek, broccoli and cauliflower, 1 yellow tomato and 1 red tomato)
16 ounce container Imagine Organic Creamy broccoli soup
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil

I sautéed the mushrooms, bell peppers and the leek in a bit of water until they started to soften, then added the broccoli and cauliflower, put a lid on the skillet, and let that all steam for a bit. When the broccoli and cauliflower started to soften, I added the soup, chopped the tomatoes, and ground some pepper on top. The lid went back on top, and I let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Then I picked some fresh basil from the pot in my window and stirred that in.

I served over tri-color couscous, and we had steamed carrots and mandarin oranges on the side. I feel so healthy!


Reading No Impact Man has really made me aware of how much stuff we throw away. It doesn’t help that we are working on massively decluttering the apartment. We recycle, but I really would like to do more reusing.

However, it takes so much time to reuse! We have been doing pretty good with bringing our lunches, and the Laptop Lunchboxes are so much better than the sandwich baggies I used to send with the girl that she would throw away every day. But, washing those extra dishes every night takes so much more time. And, if I can whine just a bit more, my kitchen sink is just that much too short, so that my back hurts when I stand there to do dishes, stooping just a bit. I don’t even notice I am doing it until my back starts to hurt.

I really don’t mind the extra dishes that much, though. It’s the thought of how many more dishes and how much more prep work I would have if we reused more that really gets to me. So, I feel a bit guilty as I put the empty glass mango sauce jar in the trash, but not guilty enough to seriously think about making my own mango or apple sauce at home in my own reusable jars. Do you know how long that takes?!?!?

Maybe someday I’ll get there, but for now, I am just going to focus on the benefits of not using sandwich baggies. And I will go put my paper bags from Trader Joe’s by the door so I don’t forget to take them with me tomorrow to the store. Baby steps before running, right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Not Really a Recipe

I love Trader Joe's! Also, World Market. They make my life easier without making me feel like I am sacrificing healthy eating. Here is my Thai green curry recipe (more directions for assembly, really) using the shortcuts I found at those stores.

Bombay Saffron Rice

2 cups brown basmati rice
4 cups water
2 heaping teaspoons Bombay Saffron Rice Spice (from World Market)

Mix this all together, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until done, about 15-20 minutes.

Thai Green Curry Veggies and Tofu

about 10 ounces firm tofu
1-2 tsp sesame oil
1 package stir-fry veggies from Trader Joe's (includes broccoli, bamboo shoots, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, water chestnuts, baby corn, baby carrots, and maybe something else I am forgetting)
1 jar Thai green curry sauce from Trader Joe's

Press some of the water out of the tofu and cut into smaller rectangles (about 1 inch x 1/2 inch x 1/4 inch, or whatever size looks good to you). Heat the oil in a skillet and add the tofu pieces. Turn heat to medium and gently fry until tofu is golden; add veggies. I didn't want to add more oil here, so I added about 1/4 cup of water and put a lid on the skillet, and let the veggies cook for 5-10 minutes. Then I poured some of the water off and added the green curry sauce. I put the lid back on and let that simmer another ten minutes or so to meld the flavors and continue cooking the veggies.

This was really good. I need to make a mental note that the girl prefers the green curry sauce that I have gotten at World Market, but overall, the kids ate pretty well. They really like the Bombay Saffron rice, much to my surprise (especially in the girl's case; the boy loves rice almost any way). Fortunately, Trader Joe's and World Market are just a few doors apart in my local shopping area. We will definitely do this again, because it was quick and easy. I was even able to finish up some dishes and make some extra, plain rice so that I could try a banana rice pudding recipe later while this cooked. I love quick meals!

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I have been continuing to plug away at eating the lower calorie foods and working out, and I am finally seeing some results! I have lost about 4 pounds, and my stomach, while not getting smaller, is at least getting less firm. I figure this means I am losing some of the visceral fat that is so bad for you. This is the kind of fat that makes you an apple shape, which is the worrisome one from a health standpoint (I am not very fond of it from an appearance standpoint either, but that is another issue). This isn’t a huge difference, but it is a difference in the right direction, so I am encouraged.

The kiddoes continued bringing their lunch all through last week. The boy and I even had a conversation about how he feels loved when he is eating the lunch that I made for him. The girl was less enthusiastic about bringing her lunch on chicken nugget day, but agreed to try the Quorn chicken nuggets next Tuesday, apparently forgetting that she has done that before and liked it. Even though this is adding a lot of time to my evening and morning routines, I am liking it. I like that the kids are eating more vegetarian foods when they would be eating meat if I didn’t send something, and I like the environmental benefits of using the reusable lunch containers.

I have been pretty good about bringing my lunch, too. I actually brought something 4 days last week, although I did end up going out on Tuesday with a friend because it was his birthday. I ordered a veggie burger, and decided to get the yammy potato salad instead of the fries to try to be healthier; it wasn’t until after I got it that I realized potato salad is made with mayonnaise and often has extra bits of hard-boiled egg in it. I mean, I knew that, but I didn’t think about it. Still, it wasn’t a lot. Next time I will do the vegetarian chili or just go with the fried potatoes. It’s not like I do it every day. Although the food at the place we went to eat is generally filled with meat, it is nice to see that there are some vegetarian options. My salad and leftover gnocchi with marinara sauce and peas did not go to waste that day, since it was a late day for training, so I ate it for dinner.

All in all, this has been a good week in our vegetarian journey. I lost some weight, in a healthy way, the kids are eating a lot less meat, and we are all getting into the groove of bringing a healthy lunch from home rather than relying on what we can find at school, work and daycare. We are getting used to the new routines with a lot more cooking at home, and even coming to like it. Monday, as we sat around the dinner table eating gnocchi and asparagus, the boy beamed at his sister and me and said, "You know what, guys? I really love you guys!" If that isn't motivation to sit around the table together, I don't know what is.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Recipe and Some Lunches

Coconut Curried Vegetable Stew

2 onions, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp veg oil
4 medium potatoes, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
½ head of cauliflower, chopped
2 cups frozen cut green beans, thawed
1-2 tsps fresh ginger, to taste
2-3 tsps good quality curry powder, to taste
½ tsp turmeric
1 15 ounce can light coconut milk
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until golden. Add the potatoes and carrots, plus two cups of water. I needed to add just a bit more to come close to the top of the veggies, about half a cup. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, cover and cook until veggies are half-cooked, about 10-15 minutes. Add the cauliflower, green beans, ginger, curry powder and turmeric. I did not have any cauliflower, so I used frozen broccoli, which was very good. Continue simmering, covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 10-15 minutes more. Mash some of the potatoes against the edge of the pot to thicken the stew, and add the coconut milk. The cookbook recommended letting the stew stand for an hour to meld flavors, but I didn’t have time for that. It also recommended salting at this point, but I don’t cook with salt, so I skipped it. Add the peas and heat thoroughly, then serve.

Oh my goodness, this was so yummy! The kids were not as impressed, but I think they’ll come around, given repeated exposure. And they will get repeated exposure, because I just loved this.


I ordered two Laptop Lunchboxes last week after seeing them used so well on the Vegan Lunch Box. Originally I had only planned to order one for the girl, but the boy wanted one, too, so I went ahead and got two. They arrived today.

The girl was so excited that she decided she wanted to take her lunch even though tomorrow is chicken nugget day in the school cafeteria. I have to admit, I am pretty excited about her lunch—it’s really healthy, and for her, it’s got a lot of variety. I took a whole wheat tortilla and spread it with Tofutti cream cheese (I know, that isn’t the greatest, but I am so happy it is non-dairy, I am overlooking the fact that it isn’t perfect) and rolled it up and sliced it. On the side, she has mango sauce, dried apricots, sugar snap peas and sunflower seeds. It’s not anywhere near gourmet, but it is healthy and she’ll eat it.

Of course, since I was making the girl lunch, and he had a new lunch box, too, the boy wanted me to make a lunch for him as well. I tried to talk him out of it, since his daycare provides lunch, but he was adamant. So, he is having a whole wheat tortilla with cream cheese, too, plus some sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds, and a medley of dried fruits (apricots, raspberry-flavored cranberries, cherry raisins, and papaya). I should be glad he is eating veg, too, but instead I am overwhelmed with the thought of making three lunches every night. Bad mommy. I guess I will adjust, though.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Several Things

I have been so busy lately, I think of things I want to write here, but I never quite make it to the keyboard before I am too tired to string together some coherent thoughts. Here are some of the things I have been thinking about lately:

The 100-Mile Diet

While I was reading about No Impact Man, a blog being written by a man who is undertaking a year-long experiment to radically reduce his family’s impact on the planet, I came across this website advocating a more local diet. While this is a great idea in theory, I just don’t know if I can do it. I am pretty addicted to a wide variety of spices, for instance. And wine. Also, I don’t think I could do enough canning in the summer and fall to make it through the winter with fruits and vegetables, at least at this point in my life. Still, I think it’s a great ideal to strive for. I attempt to go to the farmer’s market for my produce, and one of my favorite restaurants has a garden out back. They also try to buy local as often as they can. It’s nice to know that I can go out to a restaurant and eat local foods. This is one of those topics that I will definitely be thinking about more as time goes on, I can tell.

Burger King and animal welfare

Fast food is not something I usually think about a lot, but I couldn’t help but notice when Burger King announced that they were going to adopt animal welfare standards for the suppliers of their meat. Now, I am sure that this will only affect a small percentage of the animals that are supplied to the fast food industry as a whole, and Burger King in particular, but it is nice to see a big corporation stepping in the right direction on this issue. It also reminds me that, despite the focus on sandwiches with way too much meat (Triple Whoppers?!??!), they are the only major burger chain with a veggie burger.

Meatless Mondays

I have gotten onto a mailing list for Mambo Sprouts, which is some kind of marketing group with an emphasis on health-food store type products. Earlier this month, their newsletter featured a great link to the Meatless Mondays website. This website has lots of interesting meatless recipes, from entrees to snacks and from beans to tofu to all veggies to meat substitutes. The tips for eating meatless on the go look pretty useful, too.

Cooking and menu planning

I still haven’t been doing so well, here. I am taking a training class at work that requires me to stay late one or two nights every week, and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am cooking tonight though—Coconut Curried Vegetable Stew from Nava Atlas’ Vegetarian Family Cookbook. I hope it tastes as good as it sounds!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I survived my first camping trip as a vegetarian this past weekend. The only part that was bad, really was that I couldn't share the cooking with my friend that we went with. Usually, we will bring our own stuff for breakfast, lunch and snacks, and we will trade off on the dinners. This time we did our dinners separately, too.

I brought a bunch of sandwich stuff for lunches, and for dinners, I brought Quorn hot dogs, since the boy loves hot dogs (which, as an aside, I thought were gross even when I ate meat), and Tofurkey Italian Sausages for me. I threw the hot dogs and Italian sausages on the grill over our fire for dinner the first night. Predictably, the boy loved the hot dogs, but the girl just ate the (whole wheat) bun. My Italian Sausage was awesome!

I also got some vegetable masala burgers from Trader Joe's. Oh my goodness are those things yummy! We camp with electricity, so I was able to microwave them, but they would have probably been good wrapped in aluminum foil on the grill. I brought along Thai Garlic Chili sauce to put on top, because nearly everything is better with hot sauce. Lots of fruit rounded out our choices.

Camping without meat was easier than I feared. Our biggest problem was what to do Saturday night after a day of wet snow made all the wood wet and fireproof. We cheated and went for the fast food--chicken nuggets from McDonald's for the kids, and bean burritoes with no cheese for me. Still, we would have been fine if the weather had cooperated. Truthfully, we could have coped with just the microwave, but my friend didn't want to throw her chicken in the microwave, and hey, we were on a mini-vacation.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hysterical raw food song

One of my online friends shared this YouTube video that her husband made about raw food living, set to the tune of I Will Survive.

My friend reports that, although she does eat meat, her husband is not actually planning to dump her, and although he is definitely vegetarian ("he is a rabid vegetarian"), he isn't actually into raw food exclusively. Just in case anyone is concerned about the exact truth. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Eating at Other Peoples' Houses

When I decided to go back to vegetarianism, I made a decision to continue to eat fish, to make it easier to eat at other people’s houses. Also, at restaurants. But I really don’t want to eat a lot of fish, I am only doing it to be semi-flexible. I am just astonished, though, at how many people have not one single meatless meal in their repertoire of dinners.

I really don’t think we eat a lot of exotic food. Sure, I make some interesting Thai or Indian dishes, but more often we eat foods like pizza, pasta, some kind beans and rice, soups, salads, sandwiches, chili, bean burritos and other foods that seem pretty standard to me. I am a little more biased toward including lots of veggies in my meals than a lot of people I know, but that’s not a huge difference.

I do have a friend who makes an effort to eat less meat. She makes a lot of casseroles with a small amount of meat and more veggies to fill them out. But she has some meat every single night. That just seems so weird to me. When I did eat meat, I still made meatless meals once or twice per week.

I don’t want to tell anyone how to eat, mainly because I like having friends. But I really don’t understand what is so difficult about an occasional meatless meal. Every time we go over to my parents’ house for dinner, there is a fraught conversation about what to make for dinner. I hate this conversation. This past Sunday, my dad went ahead and got food on his own—ribs for everyone else, plus a piece of salmon for me. If I am going to have something different than everyone else anyway, I would rather pass on the fish, so I stopped and picked up something else on the way. Besides, I’d had salmon the night before at my friend’s house, and I didn’t want to eat it again.

Why is this so difficult? How did people get to the point where there is not one single thing they can think to make for dinner if the meat is removed? I blame meat marketers, personally. They have sold us a bill of goods that says that eating meat is a sign of wealth, and that a meal is not complete without it. I don’t really have a problem with people eating some meat, but this insistence that a meal is not a meal without it seems kind of creepy to me. I find myself wanting to ask people, “Don’t you care about your health? What about the environment?”

Of course, I don’t, because I genuinely like these people, and I don’t really feel that eating meat makes someone a bad person. But I keep coming back to my original question: How can people not have a single dinner idea that is meatless?

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I've read many different places about how you rarely see overweight vegans. If you are avoiding animal products, you almost have to do a lot of cooking at home, and it's harder to get too many calories if you aren't eating animal products or highly processed convenience foods. I am not entirely avoiding the convenience foods, but I am making the effort to eat more fruits and veggies and cook at home as often as I can. I am also working out like crazy--3, 4, even 5 times a week at the gym, plus getting as many walks in as I can throughout the day. I have been doing all of this since before Christmas. Why aren't I skinny yet?

Okay, being skinny already is an unrealistic goal. I am far too overweight to go to skinny in a month and a half, no matter how good I am. I don't even want to be skinny, really, just at a healthy weight. But still, I am only down about 5 pounds, and I want to be down more, darnit!

I know that I am whining. I have been lifting weights and getting stronger, so I have to be gaining muscle. The fact that I have still lost weight while gaining muscle means even more fat is gone. I feel so much healthier, it's unreal. My body feels stronger and I have more energy. I even look better, more in shape, and my skin is clearer.

However, my stomach doesn't appear to be getting any smaller. My waist is still way too big, and I look pregnant in most clothes. It's even worse now that I am firming up in other parts of my body, because my stomach stands out so much more. I am extremely self-conscious about it, both because it looks horrible, and it is so unhealthy to have this big waist. On the plus side, it's making me grateful for my big hips, since at least that makes it more proportional, ;-).

I am not giving up. I like feeling better. I like doing my part to conserve our planetary resources and improve our environment. Even if I don't really lose any weight, I am getting healthier, I know. The thing is, I would be even healthier if I lost this extra weight. And, I can't get rid of all vanity--I want all this work to show in a better looking body! I just have to have confidence that if I keep plugging away at the exercise, and enjoying all the healthy options I have for delicious foods, the better looking body will come eventually.

I hope it decides to hurry, though!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Comfort Food

I feel kind of yucky today. I have had a cough for a couple of weeks now, and I could tell that I was fighting off a worse illness. For the most part, though, I felt successful. I made sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I kept working out. I tried to get enough sleep, successfully most nights. I thought I was winning the fight.

When I woke up feeling kind of sore and achy all over today, I put it down to the hard workout I did last night. Unfortunately, I am now thinking it is more than that. I am really, really tired, and not in a "I've done a lot today" way. I am still pretty achy, and even though I did work out hard last night, I usually don't stay this sore all day from a workout. I feel really warm, too, although that may be a consequence of living on the top floor of a building with the forced air, radiator heat, with the thermometer on the first floor.

Despite all this, I did not want to abandon my plan to finally cook dinner tonight. My kitchen has been a mess lately, due to a combination of being legitimately busy, and just not feeling like cleaning it. I have eaten at home some, but just sandwiches and fruit, or microwaving frozen food. Tonight we didn't have anywhere to go after work and school, so I resolved to clean my kitchen up and cook dinner. But I didn't feel like cooking at all.

Road's End Organics came to my rescue. Their Shells and Chreese was perfect for just this situation. It was easy to make from the box and completely dairy-free. I added peas to it and felt like it was semi-nutritious. And mac and cheese is such great comfort food. Not being able to eat macaroni and cheese is one of the big drawbacks of being vegan, I thought. But, now I can! And the kids love it, too, which is a double bonus.

We didn't sit around the table, but at least we all ate food I cooked at home, and it was at least semi-nutritious.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

West African Peanut Stew

Oh my goodness, was this a yummy recipe! I ate too much, because it was too good to stop.

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil (I think; I just swirled some in the bottom of the pot)
1 red onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, diced (I used a lot more)
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 medium large sweet potatoes, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or more, if you like it a little spicier--I used more)
3 cups water
1 10 oz. bag frozen okra
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (again, more if you like it hotter)

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until golden; add cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, ginger, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the cabbage and potatoes are staring to soften, about 15 minutes. Add the okra (my Trader Joe's didn't have okra, so I used green beans instead), and then add the peanut butter a small amount at a time. Stir to melt the peanut butter before adding more. Add the cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes and then cover and cook until all of the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. If needed, add water to keep it moist, but you don't want to let it get thin like soup.

I served over plain red cargo rice, and I had an apple on the side. It was so delicious and nutritious! You know, I cook a lot, and I can usually tell when I read a recipe if it will be good or not, but I am always surprised when new recipes turn out well. This, even though the vast majority of the time, new recipes turn out well for me; I know my abilities in the kitchen pretty accurately. This time, I had fairly high hopes, but they were still surpassed. This is one of the best new recipes I have tried in a while. I will have to make a blander version for the kids some time--I think they will like the idea of peanut butter in their stew.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Eating Out

I really like eating out. I like the food you can get out at a restaurant, where someone can spend more time making food than I have time to prepare at 6 PM. But I really like the fact that eating out doesn't involve any dishes to wash!

This week has been crazy with kid activities, which started a trend of eating out. On Tuesday, I had to pick up the boy, feed us all dinner and take the girl to basketball practice very close to the boy's school in about 45 minutes. It didn't make sense to go all the way home in between the daycare pickup and the basketball practice, so eating out it was. Even better, there is a coffee shop with a vegetarian cafe just down the street from the school where practice was taking place. It was fantastic! I had a Greek pita with hummus, baked falafel, tomatoes and onions, and a tahini viniagrette, the boy had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chips and grapes, and even a little toy, and the girl had a bagel and cream cheese. After running the girl down the street for practice, the boy and I came back to eat little treats and drink pink lemonade and a caramel latte. I was really excited to find a place that is totally vegetarian, although not at all vegan (I had to ignore the feta cheese on the side of my pita, and the boy had chips instead of the cheese stick that came with his boxed lunch).

Wednesday the girl had tumbling half an hour after I picked her up. Last week I made peanut butter and banana tortillas to eat in the car on the way to the center, but this week we were out of bananas, so we ate at the Subway in the lobby, at least for a snack. I had a veggie sandwich, and the kids had chips. When we got home, we supplemented with soy yogurts and fruit, and peanut butter sandwiches for the kids.

Thursday, the kids were at their dad's and I was feeling lonely and sorry for myself, so I went to my favorite Greek restaurant and had hummus and stewed Mediterranean Vegetables. Yumm! Last night, the kids were still at their dad's, and I got off work late, so it was out again, this time to a local brewery, Schlafly Bottleworks, for salad and veggie curry, which was amazing! Last time I had it (over a year ago at least), it was kind of bland, and the veggies were too crunchy. Last night the veggies were perfect, the spice was much more assertive--I added some Tabasco sauce, but to supplement the heat, not to add all the flavor--and the rice had some kind of garbanzo beans and daikon seeds that made it more textured and flavorful. I think I have a new favorite dish! This restaurant is so fantastic, with lots of vegetarian choices.

Tonight I am going to a trivia night, and everyone is bringing food. I am planning on bringing hummus and guacamole with chips, and I am sure there will be other things I can eat, so I think I will be skipping dinner. Tomorrow, I am scrubbing my kitchen and getting back to cooking!

Monday, January 15, 2007


I suspect that yelling at my daughter to be quiet because I am doing yoga, and damnit, it’s supposed to be relaxing, is missing the point somewhat. Okay, I didn’t add the damnit part, and it was mostly crying out in surprise because some music very suddenly came on the computer loudly, but I still think I was missing the point. However, when I got to the last part where you are supposed to just relax and she started to talk, I was able to very calmly say “Not now,” and, amazingly, she waited. The boy did the yoga with me, (and much better, I might add--limber little 4 year old bodies do these things better than mommy bodies!). He told his sister that she should do it too, because it is healthy. He even asked if we could do it again sometime!

I did yoga tonight for a couple of reasons. First, I have been doing well with cardio and weight-training, but I don’t have much flexibility training in my workouts. Also, because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I had the kids tonight, which I normally wouldn’t on a Monday, so I couldn’t go to the gym as easily. I have been doing so well with my working out lately that I didn’t want to skip tonight entirely and it gets dark too early to go for a walk after work, so yoga seemed like the best choice.

I am really surprised by how difficult it is. Because people say that it helps them to relax, I always have this image of yoga being calm and relatively easy. It isn’t really very easy at all. I found myself having a lot of difficulty with the slow breaths I was supposed to be taking at a few points, because the poses were very challenging. I am already sore, and I even took a nice warm shower when I was done. Oh well, that must mean the exercise is having a good effect on my body and I am sure it will get easier as I keep practicing.

The last reason I wanted to make sure to get some exercising in is the terrible eating I did at my parents’ house tonight. My grandmother had cooked cabbage in some water, which was fine, but she had also added ham hocks. I love cooked cabbage, and my grandmother is so happy when I eat her cooking, but all the ham grease was a bit heavy on my stomach. I also ate a light caesar salad, which had cheese, egg yolk and anchovies in the dressing. Not a lot, but still. And if this all wasn’t non-vegan enough, I ate chocolate chip cookies (made by the girl and my grandmother) AND a couple of mini-Twix bars. See what I mean about the junk food mecca? So, not a vegan night at all, but it could have been much worse. I didn’t eat any actual chunks of meat, and the salad really was the best of a lot of bad options. The candy and cookies were just weakness. Still, one not so great night is not the end of the world, and at least I did the yoga to make up for it, right?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The girl makes dinner

I don't have a dishwasher. Like most people, I hate washing dishes. I have been cooking a lot more lately. All of these things came together tonight into a huge pile of dishes and no desire to cook a whole meal.

I had Curried Noodles with Veggies on the menu tonight, but I also had a lot of leftover Curried Fruited Couscous from my vegetarian potluck at work today. I mean, a LOT of leftover couscous. We have not had a huge group lately, so I made a bunch so that we would be sure to have plenty of food for those of us who did come. We did have a relatively big group of people show up today, though--a total of 9 people, and everyone brought a lot of good food. I didn't think another curried pasta dish would be a good thing to make, even though they are pretty different recipes. They are too close for a lot of leftovers at once.

So, when we got home, I asked the kids what they wanted for dinner. Predictably, they both said pizza. This sounded like a good plan to me, since it didn't involve the stove top, which was disturbingly full of dirty dishes (I am short on counter space in my kitchen, so the stove top does double duty). Even better, the girl volunteered the information that she could make the pizza herself. I started on the mound of dishes, and she got to work. Our shredded soy cheese was no good, but I had slices of Tofutti cheese in mozzarella and American flavors, and she was thrilled to be given a knife to cut the cheese to scatter on the pizza. The boy snacked on golden raisins, and both kids had extra slices of cheese during the prep time. After the pizza went in the oven, I had an appetizer of the couscous. I watched over the baking while working on the dish mountain as the girl impressed her brother with her Spiderman video game playing skills.

The pizza turned out really yummy. We all really enjoyed it, and I think we could have made a significant dent in a second one if it had been available. It was really nice to have my daughter make the dinner tonight, mostly. I need to go tell her how much I appreciate it before she goes to sleep.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Grocery shopping

On Sunday, after the rib incident on Saturday, the girl told me that she is still a vegetarian, she just succumbed to temptation at Grandpa's house. Well, it's an adjustment, and I want her to want to do it, so I am certainly not going to criticise her efforts. We are back to making lunches and eating almost vegan food this week. She even told her dad and stepmom while at their house last night, so I think she is serious.

I made my menu on Sunday, but my children were running around like little wild children, so I decided I couldn't face the crowded grocery store, and shopping would have to wait for Monday night. This resulted in me eating out for both breakfast and lunch at work on Monday, but I think it was worth it. I hate feeling stressed out at the grocery store.

I went shopping at Trader Joe's, which is such a great store. My cart was mostly filled with produce, which makes me feel so healthy. But, although I love Trader Joe's for all the healthy choices they have, even including healthy convenience food, they don't have everything I need when I am making recipes. So, tonight while the girl was at basketball practice, I went to another store to finish off my list. I couldn't find a bag of shredded cabbage at either store, though. What's up with that? I must have just overlooked it at the big store--I can't believe people have developed a sudden passion for shredding cabbage at home. I am going to find out just how much of a pain it can be this week, because I finally just grabbed a small head of cabbage. I don't have a food processor or a big grater, so I will be doing this with a knife. How bad can it be?

Tonight for dinner we had the Sloppy Lentils from the crockpot. They were really good! I am so glad I got the vegetarian slow cooker book--it is so nice to come home to a main dish that is ready to go. I just threw the fingerling potatoes and veggies in the microwave, helped the kids clear off the table and we all sat down to a good, healthy dinner in about 15 minutes after we got home. I even had enough leftover to put some in the freezer and take lunch tomorrow. I will also bring leftver potatoes and veggies, and grapes and an apple. Sabrina will take some leftover veggies, grapes, an individual chocolate soy milk, and either mini-bagels with tofutti cream cheese or chickenless nuggets. Woohoo!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Parent Trap

We went to dinner at my parents' house on Saturday. While this wasn't a problem for me, the girl succumbed to the lure of BBQ'd ribs. We had discussed what we might have for dinner at Grandpa's, since my dad asked what he should cook (my mom doesn't cook at all). We decided to ask for spaghetti, and we would bring some soy Italian sausage, but my dad said that he didn't want to heat up the kitchen. Yes, I know, it's January, but he gets hot easily. So, I asked Sabrina what she wanted and she said she didn't want to be a vegetarian. I told her that was up to her, but what did she want, and she said ribs.

This was not a problem for me, because eating meat off of the bone has always kind of grossed me out. I went to Trader Joe's and got some supplies for the night--veggie samosas for my main course, fingerling potatoes (which are awesome, by the way) and broccoli, cauliflower and baby carrots for the side dishes for everyone, and soy ice cream--mango/vanilla and very cherry with chocolate chips. Before dinner, we had some guacamole leftover from Christmas--in a pouch, not fresh made, which would have been bad by now! I ate a lot of food, but I didn't really get into all the candy and junk they have there. I did try some mini-Pringles and I had one caramel Hershey's kiss. That is excellent for me going over to my parents' house, the junk-food mecca of our family.

Today I made a menu plan for the coming week. I didn't make it to the grocery store, but I will go tomorrow night while the kids are at their dad's. It is much less stressful that way. Trader Joe's is always so crowded, and they are wild children!

Monday: Something easy from Trader Joe's--either the Mediterraean feast, or something frozen.

Tuesday: Sloppy Lentils in the crockpot (kind of like sloppy joes, but with lentils instead of meat), fingerling potatoes (did I mention these are awesome? Also, you can microwave the little bag for 5 minutes and be ready!), steamed cauliflower and broccoli

Wednesday: The girl has tumbling class at 6:30, so we will eat dinner late. I am thinking I will bring whole wheat tortillas spread with peanut butter and wrapped around bananas for us all before the class/workout for me. After class, we will either have leftovers or fruit and yogurt. I also need to make something for my monthly vegetarian potluck at work, probably chili, unless I get really inspired before then, and I happen to have all the ingredients for my inspiration dish.

Thursday: Curried Stir-Fried Noodles with Veggies, salad, some kind of fruit, maybe mangoes.

Friday: Seitan "Meat and Potatoes" Stew, Cabbage, Apple and Raisin Slaw, steamed green beans.

Saturday: I think I am going out with friends.

The recipes for Seitan "Meat and Potatoes" Stew and the Cabbage, Apple and Raisin Slaw on Friday come from Nava Atlas' The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, which is a fantastic resource. I was paging through it today writing down recipes I would like to make, and after about 160 pages, I already have 19 recipes noted. I think there are others I saw that I would like to make, too, I was only noting the ones I want to make as soon as I can work them into my menu plan. I don't want to out too many brand new recipes into one week, though. It's not like I have never been a vegetarian before and I am having to come up with all new recipes.

I am pretty sure I will follow this menu plan as long as I make it to the store tomorrow. Menu planning is something I need to get used to again, but once I have a menu, I am good about following it. It makes my life so much easier to come home from work and know what I am cooking, and that I have all the necessary ingredients, so I don't go changing it up all that often.

On a final note for this entry, I did succeed in bringing a lunch every day last week, but Friday was payday, and a friend convinced me to go out to eat. I had a vegetarian curry dish that they said they were going to make spicy, but it was pretty bland. Fortunately they had sriracha hot sauce, so it was pretty good. I have some leftovers from tonight (whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce, mashed tofu, and spinach) in the fridge for tomorrow, and I have various sides to take with me. Hopefully this will be a good week, too.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I have been obsessively reading vegetarian websites, vegetarian magazines, vegetarian blogs and vegetarian cookbooks for over a week now. I have been to the grocery store twice to buy foods to make the switch back to vegetarianism easier. Unfortunately, these things were not united by planning. I checked my pantry, fridge and freezer to make sure I had the ingredients I needed for a couple of recipes and then just bought a bunch of food. Tuesday and Wednesday went really well. I knew what I was going to make, so I came home and just made it. They were good meals, too. Tonight, however, I came home with no plan.

Fortunately I had picked up a couple of cans of red beans, so I was able to pull together red beans and rice, some baked potato wedges and green beans for a yummy dinner, but I see a definite menu and grocery shopping list in my future for next week.

Lunch today was good. I remembered the salsa, but I still ended up foraging in my cubicle at 3:30. I found some caramel rice cakes, and I spread one with a bit of peanut butter, which really hit the spot. I know what my afternoon snack will be tomorrow! I was impressed, too, because the rice cakes were actually dairy free. They did have some honey, but I am so happy that it wasn't high fructose corn syrup. I have my lunch mostly made for tomorrow, so that will make my first week at work this year complete with lunch brought every day! It's a short week, but only 1 day short. I am feeling pretty good about this.

We didn't make a lunch for the girl tonight, but we have been heating the chik'n patty or nuggets in the morning anyway. She brought her lunchbox home from school today (who knows how long it has been there...), so we can throw an ice pack in and she can bring a soy pudding and a Silk Alive yogurt smoothie. Her lunch should come together pretty quickly. This was only a three day week for her, but we made it through her first week, too.

One week down, well, let's not think about how many to go. I prefer to dwell on the success of this week completed, not the many weeks, months and years to come.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday Food

Well, the girl's lunch went well. She said the chik'n patty was good and it was enough food and she ate it all. I wish my lunch was enough food. I forgot to bring salsa to eat with baked chips, though, and I think I would have been fine if I had. As it was, I was starving when I got home, so I made one of the chik'n patties for myself to tide me over while I cleaned up the kitchen and made dinner.

For dinner tonight we had soy meatballs in sauce made from onions, tomato soup, applesauce, honey and chili sauce. On the side we had red cargo rice and peas. The girl ate a clementine, and both the kids had a dumdum sucker and a Tofutti cutie for dessert (minus one bite for mommy). Tomorrow I am having leftover meatballs and rice for lunch, and the girl is having another chik'n sandwich. We'll both have some sugar snap peas on the side, and I'll slice up one of the huge pears we bought for us to each take half. And I'll remember the salsa this time! In fact, I just got up and put some salsa in a little container now so that all I have to do in the morning is grab it.

I don't know how that girl can stand to have the same thing for lunch every day, but that's the way she likes it. Last year she took mini-bagels with tofutti cream cheese and a piece of fruit almost every single day. That would drive me crazy!

The boy keeps asking to be able to bring a lunch. Lazy mommy that I am, I tell him no, the school feeds him lunch. But meals are part of the tuition at his school, which isn't cheap, and although the do include meat, they already keep the dairy out of his, and they do try to keep it pretty healthy. Maybe when I really get in the habit of making lunches for the girl and me, I will start making them for him, too.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A lunch update

After basketball practice tonight, my daughter informed me, "I am a vegetarian." I said, "oh, did you tell your dad that?" She had just returned from a spell at her dad's house, but we had talked about this before she left. She said that no, she forgot. Hmm. Still, it's progress.

We went to the store to get some Quorn chicken patties and whole wheat hamburger buns, since the school cafeteria is serving chicken patties tomorrow, and she thought that looked yummy. I want to make this easy for her. We also got broccoli, sugar snap peas, clementines, pears, kiwis, one Silk Alive mango soy yogurt smoothie, some chocolate vanilla swirl soy puddings, Kidz Dream soy and juice drink boxes, Quorn chicken nuggets, and Quorn hot dogs for the boy.

When we got home, we steamed some broccoli and split it into sandwich baggies for us each to take in the morning. Yes, I know that using reusable containers would be better, but I was in the middle of a mountain of dishes, and I just couldn't take it. My lunch today was all in reusable containers, and we'll do it again tomorrow night. I also put a hamburger bun in a baggie for her, although we will heat up the fake chicken patty tomorrow morning. She'll take a clementine and one of the drinks to finish the meal. I am taking leftover Thai red curry veggies over brown rice, the broccoli, a clementine or two, and some salsa, because I have some baked tortilla chips at work.

My lunch today was good, but I keep forgetting how much food you need to eat when the food is low-fat and animal free. I ate an Amy's brand vegan breakfast burrito at about 8:00, and by 10:30, I was already really hungry. I ate the clementine and the split pea soup, went to a meeting, and ate the applesauce and bean tortilla wrap. I was still hungry, so I ate some of the baked tortillas with the remaining salsa, and a few almonds I had at my desk. In the afternoon I had a small soy yogurt, and went to the coffee shop for a soy caramel vanilla latte. I suspect there is some milk in the caramel, but I am working my way there. I was still pretty hungry by the time I got home. The Thai red curry veggies over brown rice really hit the spot, but I am going to have to go to bed soon before I get so hungry that I eat something I shouldn't!

I am just drinking my Kleri-tea from the Colonix colon cleanse that I am doing and I am off to bed, but first I have to say that I already feel so much better only a week or two into this project. My skin has cleared up amazingly, my hair is less greasy, my stomach isn't quite so bulgy, I have more energy and I can concentrate better. I am more patient with my children. I know that sounds like I am saying a vegan diet is some kind of miracle cure, and I think maybe it is. I feel better, so I am less irritable with my kids, which is so great. Not that I was mean to them before, but I wasn't as patient as I would like to be, and now I am getting closer, and it isn't that hard. I feel more motivated to exercise, too. I just feel a lot more healthy, and I love it. I need to remember this when I feel the tempation to fall off the wagon so to speak.