Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tofu Quiche and Tempeh Bacon - Success!

I am always in search of new breakfast foods!

I tried a new vegan quiche recipe today - must say, my most delicious one so far! I based my recipe on the one on Happy Herbivore here. I changed up the vegetables though - broccoli, green pepper, sun-dried tomatoes. Plus I added my not-so-secret ingredient - a quarter teaspoon black salt - to add that savory "eggyness" I was craving!
And... my finest tempeh bacon so far, too!

This recipe is in Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, my latest cookbook indulgence. I followed it to the letter. It took some time and preparation, but I do have lots leftover for breakfasts throughout the week.

It starts with marinating strips of tempeh overnight in a savory, smokey combination of spices, then baking slowly for about half an hour the next day. The finishing touch is browning it all up in some olive oil.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Things I need to be healthy

No recipes or "food porn" today! Today, I'm taking stock of things I've worked on this year, and maybe what I'd like to work on with the rest of 2012.

After almost a year of working on my improving my health, and my peace of mind, I see a few very basic things that I need to be happy with myself and the world around me:

1. Enough sleep. I wrestle with this because sleep seems like a waste of time. I'm starting to accept sleep now as important. My friends who read this will laugh because I'm very vocal about how much I love napping. Why I make a distinction between napping and nighttime sleep, I don't really know. But I used to feel guilty if I slept in or went to bed early. I get it now. If I sleep in, I needed it. I know that if I try to function on too little sleep, I can't think as clearly, and I work much slower and less efficiently.

2. A diet that is heavy on plants, but that also contains some animal protein and some fat. I was a strict vegan for two months, and I did feel good. After two months, I added a little bit of fish back in because I really, really like fish and I missed it. However, after awhile, I realized I was compromising in ways that were not good for me. One thing my husband and I enjoy is going out to eat. We focused on restaurants that had at least some vegan options, but I found myself ordering a fish fry (something almost every restaurant has) solely because it was fish, not because it was necessarily good for me or what I wanted. When we go out to eat now, I feel better choosing a lean chicken dish than I did when I picked fried fish a lot.

3. That said... not TOO much animal protein. When I string together a few days when I eat meat more than once a day, I tend to feel "thick" and sluggish.

4. Healthy social contact and friendship. 2010 and to some extent 2011 were hard years. I had to focus on a lot of family issues, and it was a struggle. I had the love and support of good friends, without which, I would have struggled much more. Now that things are less hectic, I have been trying to spend more quality time with friends. Hanging out in quiet places where we can hear each other talk, getting to know their fantastic kids, working out together... I need that interaction and friendship to feel like I'm part of a happy, optimistic world.

5 Exercise. In August, I discovered I love weightlifting. Who knew??? Now, I have to workout 3 times a week or I feel sluggish and foggy-headed. Lifting something really heavy over and over again is the best stress relief for me.

6. I need to do something creative. I'm not the best artist, or the best musician, but the part of my brain that is in charge of that kind of stuff gets very happy when I write a new song, or do something creative.

7. Goals, but only when they make sense. I need to set goals that are reasonable, but only when the goals happen organically. I started out with a goal of where I wanted to be with my weight, and as time went by, I realized that goal was unrealistic. My usual pattern was to give up and figure, no point in trying if that goal isn't going to happen. This year was different though. I accepted that, and figured out that while my head was busy worrying about losing pounds, my body was busy getting happy about lifting pounds. Now, my short term goal is related to an amount of weight I want to squat by January. (oh ok, since you asked... I want my working weight to be 135)

I have used a LOT of words with this blog. I'm not sure what came over me! Maybe that need to create. If you read this, I truly thank you. And I would love to hear your thoughts about what makes you feel happy and healthy. Please feel free to comment below.

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Impossible" Pumpkin Pie

I really like Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays. I like it because it's all about eating good food, being with friends and family, napping, and.... leftovers and more napping. This year though, I want to treat is as more like one really great meal and maybe one round of leftovers, rather than days of unbridled gorging.

This in no way means I'm skipping dessert though.

The straight on, 100% traditional Thanksgiving dessert, to me, is pumpkin pie. I went in search of a vegan, lighter version and hit the jackpot - Vegan, lighter, AND super easy!

Remember "Impossible" pies? Pies where you just mix everything together, bake it, and it somehow magically makes its own crust? Well, this is that, plus it's vegan.

I didn't come up with the recipe, I used it exactly as is from Susan Voisin's blog Fat Free Vegan (you got it! the same site I got the recipe for vegan quiches!) Here is a link: Impossible Vegan Pumpkin pie The only tweak I made was that I used whole wheat flour instead of rice flour. I don't have rice flour on hand, and wasn't up to the challenge of grocery store shopping.

The recipe comes together really quickly - blend everything together, pour in pan, bake. As fast as I make it, is as fast as it's gone though, so if you need to take a pie to a someone else's house for dinner, bake two. You're going to want one all to yourself!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crustless Vegan Quiche

I may not eat eggs anymore, but I do still love traditional brunch foods. In a moment of "nothing will make me happy except something quiche-y!!!" I searched one of my favorite vegan recipe sites - Fat Free Vegan - and found this versatile, satisfying recipe for crustless mini quiches.

I love this recipe for so many reasons. First, it tastes delicious. The texture mimics egg quiches, so closely, I can't really tell the difference. Second, it's versatile. Add different spices, cook in a tomato instead of a muffin cup, maybe even toss in a little vegan cheese. And third, it's low fat and low calorie.

I followed the recipe to the letter, except for one little twist. I added a quarter teaspoon of Black Salt, more formally known as Kala Namak. Don't confuse this will any other Black Salt. Kala Namak is an Indian salt. It smells a lot like sulfur, so you may not want to take a deep whiff of it, but a little bit off this added to tofu adds a savory, "eggy" taste. Try it in a tofu scramble, it really does taste like eggs!  I'm new to using it, so I'm still tinkering with how much to add. My suggestion is to start out with just a little bit. You can always add more if you want.

Here is a direct link to the recipe. Check the site out - It belongs to a woman named Susan Voisin, and it contains a lot of great information. When I'm looking for something new to cook, this is one of my go-to sites! Crustless Vegan Quiches

If you try this, let me know how you like it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Starting with juicing

One of the first steps I took when I started working on getting healthier and eating more fruits and vegetables was to juice.

I'm as guilty as the next girl of buying a shiny new kitchen appliance then losing interest in it as soon as the next shiny new appliance catches my eye. I can be fickle that way! Because of this, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a juicer, but I didn't want to buy something that would fall apart. After a little bit of research, I bought a small Breville juicer. There are hundreds out there, this is just the one that worked for me. I can say, though, if you buy a juicer, look for one that is easy to clean!

It looks like there are basically two different "camps" when it comes to thoughts about juicing. Some people don't like it because it strips the fiber out of food. Others are fans because they say without the fiber, we can absorb nutrients more easily. My personal feeling is that while I would love to get every single last bit of goodness out of everything I eat, including the fiber, any nutrition from fruits and vegetables is good.

Making juice was a fantastic way for me to ease my way into eating more plants. It's like cooking, which I love to do, but it is healthier than things I used to cook. It also was a great way to get hands on experience with all kinds of fruits and vegetables. I tried all KINDS of combinations, to find out what the texture would be like and how different foods would taste with other foods. I noticed quickly that my skin cleared up, and I had energy in the morning that felt like real energy, not a caffeine buzz.

I did learn a few tricks along the way, too. A few grapes thrown add just enough sweetness. Sweet potatoes are NOT my favorite thing to juice. And there are a TON of uses for the pulp that's left over. I made crackers with it, my husband makes a surprisingly delicious noodle dish with the pulp, spices, and extra tomato, it can be composted... there are a gazillion ideas out there!

Making juice has also been a great way to use some of the produce from our CSA that I might not get around to cooking.

Juicing isn't for everyone, I'm sure. For me though, I have a lot of fun with it. And if it's not fun, I'm not doing it!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Going out to eat

I'm thinking back about how changes I started to make in March seemed so huge. Some of the habits I tried to develop seemed like a HUGE pain in the where-you-sit. One thing especially seemed to take so much work, I wasn't sure I'd stick to it - Planning around going out to eat.

Tom and I like to go out to eat. It's fun, someone else does the cleanup, and we get to try things we wouldn't make at home. And, it's fun. In March, when I was following Engine 2 strictly, we still went out to eat, but not as often, and only to a couple of very "safe" restaurants. After March, I spent some time researching more vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Cleveland. This is where it got time consuming...

Every time we went out to eat, I would look up restaurants online to see where might be a good option. Then, once we picked a place, I would study the menu and pick out what I'd order before we even left the house. A few times, when I didn't do that research, I ended up really bummed out with what I got. I learned, mostly, that a sandwich called a "veggie melt" is usually really boring without the cheese.

Flash forward to today. Tom and I decided we want to go out to a very late lunch/early dinner. We knew a restaurant that will be delicious and vegan/veg friendly. I heard they updated the menu, so I took a quick peek - still awesome. I saw they have Jeni's sorbets for dessert now, so I shot Jeni's a quick tweet to see if their sorbet is dairy free. It is. Planning done, on to fun.

I still highly advocate at least a little planning. For me, knowing what's on the menu puts me in the mindset of what I CAN have, so when I check out the menu when we get to the restaurant, I don't focus on the dishes with stuff I choose not to eat and feel deprived. I'm also a little more comfortable making special requests. I used to almost NEVER speak up. Now, I'm not quite as hesitant to ask questions. I'm still not good at getting into the nitty gritty about what exactly is IN dishes, but I'm totally down with asking for stuff on the side, or swapping sides, whatever seems doable.

Point is, I still had to do a little work. Much of the same work I had to do before. But, it's so automatic now, it doesn't feel like work. Now it just feels like a little something to do to get ready for fun.

PS - I'm in Cleveland, Ohio. If you have any restaurant suggestions, lay 'em on me! I love having options!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Savory Pumpkin Sage Muffins

The weather drops down to a "chilly" 72 degrees, and all of a sudden I think it's Fall? I know, I know, I'm jumping the gun!

But, that doesn't change the fact that I was really craving pumpkin. I wanted to make something a little different, but still simple. My goal was to eat pumpkin, not spending an entire evening bonding with it while I tried to cook something with it! After a little bit of time searching the internet, I found something that I had never even thought existed before - A recipe for a savory muffin.

The recipe I pretty much followed calls for a whole quarter cup of chopped fresh sage. It sounded like a lot, but it is just right. I used some fresh Golden Sage from my herb garden. Its flavor is really light and almost lemony. I suspect if you use more traditional sage, the flavor will come out much stronger.

Looking at the ingredients, and not seeing any liquid except for some olive oil, I was afraid these would be super heavy. Happy to say, I was wrong! These are light, and very moist. They also go great with corn chowder!

Here is the recipe I followed pretty much: Pumpkin and Sage Savory Muffins

And here it is with a few minor tweaks that I made
  • 1 cup Whole wheat pastry flour (whole wheat flour is A-OK, too!)
  • ½ cup Rolled oats
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ¼ cup Fresh Sage, chopped
  • 2 cup pumpkin puree (if you use fresh pumpkin, cook and puree first)
  • 1/8 cup Olive oil
  • 1/8 cup Unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
Preheat your oven to 320 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients, then add the sage,  pumpkin puree, olive oil, applesauce, and vinegar. Mix enough, but not too much.

Scoop into a muffin tray, and bake for 30-35 minutes. They're finished when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

This made 10 smallish muffins for me. Depending on how big you want them, you could get a dozen, or go bigger and maybe 6 regular size muffins.