Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy and Amazed

I went to the farmers market today to stock up on produce and bulk items. I got a TON of food for only about $50. There is no way I could go to any grocery store and get all the beautiful herbs, fruits, veggies and grocery items for $50. In fact it'd probably be double that! I have been to the farmers market probably a hundred times by now and I am still amazed by this place! I get such quality and quantity for so cheap.
Starting with these beautiful herbs, I got a huge bunch of basil, a big bunch of parsley and a small bunch of cilantro for $3. I have already washed and bagged the herbs and I got about 4 packed cups of basil. WOW! I am making pesto with it for veggie sandwiches tomorrow and I am going to freeze the rest for future use.
I have been eating a lot of fruit lately because some of my favorites have been the cheapest they've been in a while. Today I restocked our apple supply (not all pictured) with Empire, Gala and Golden Delicious varieties. I also got blueberries (2 packages), strawberries, blackberries, bananas and a mango. The fruit cost $17 but I did buy a lot of apples since they were 20% off.
Jared and I cook a lot on the weekends, so most of these veggies will be used by Monday. We tend to do a lot of veggie plates, sandwiches and pasta or bean dishes on the weekends. Today I got zucchini, broccoli, ginger, asparagus, carrots, avocados, cherry tomatoes, shallots, garlic, green onions, kale and a green bell pepper. All of these veggies came out to be $13.
Lastly, I picked up a few pantry/fridge items including locally made tofu, tempeh, tofu crumbles, soy milk, sesame oil, organic whole wheat pastry flour, organic spelt flour, organic whole rye flour and organic dried black beans. This all came out to be $18. I see tofu crumble tacos with black beans and brown rice in our future.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

a lower fat hummus: southwest meets mid-east

I love hummus. Unfortunately, hummus can be very fattening from the chickpeas themselves, tahini and olive oil. In the past, to the cut fat I would use the bean cooking liquid but still used tahini and olive oil. This time around I decided to not use olive oil at all and only use a little tahini and a lot more of the bean cooking liquid. To make up for the missing fat, I had to pump up the flavors from the add ins.
What resulted was a Smoky Chili Lime Hummus.
I cooked 1 cup of dried chickpeas that I soaked over night, with garlic salt and 3 bay leaves for about 2 hours (this gives around 2 cups of cooked chickpeas). I drained the chickpeas and reserved the cooking liquid. I added to the chickpeas, the juice of one big lime, about 1 tablespoon of tahini, a dash of cumin, a couple heavy dashes of chipotle powder, a dash of regular chili powder, 1 garlic clove and sea salt. I used my immersion blender to get a very smooth consistency, adding the reserved cooking liquid as needed until it got to the consistency and texture that I like in a hummus. I topped the hummus with lime zest and sweet paprika. This hummus inspired snack turned out bright, smoky and spicy. If I make this again, I might add a little chopped cilantro on top (just a little though, a little goes a long way).
I divided this batch of hummus into 8 servings, each serving has about 110 calories and 2 grams of fat, and 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. I ate this for lunch with cauliflower florets and carrots sticks and I didn't missed all the fat.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ikea finds, 100 calorie snack, Udon Noodle Splurge

This first picture isn't anything spectacular, just my breakfast of coffee with light soymilk and a piece of whole wheat toast with a little natural peanut butter. What I am excited about is the dishes and coffee press in the picture. We went to Ikea to find a lamp for our living room and I found this cute cup and saucer set, where the saucer is large enough on one side to have a piece of toast or other breakfast goodie on it. The cup and saucer were $6. I also have been wanting a coffee press and found this one for $12.
I <3 Ikea!
I'm sure everyone has seen those pre-packaged 100 calorie snacks on the market now. I have seen a few of my fellow bloggers making their own, and thought that was a good idea. Since I am trying to cut my fats and sugary carbs, I decided to make a 100calorie snack plate with veggies and sea salt. This plate had carrot sticks, cucumber spears, daikon radish sticks and cauliflower florets. It's amazing how tasty and filling 100 calories really can be.
Since I had extra calories left from the day I splurged on dinner tonight. I made a noodle bowl with whole wheat Udon noodles, lite tofu, cabbage and onions with a soy/teriyaki/sriracha sauce with sesame seeds and cucumbers. This meal was hefty, coming in at 500 calories, 14 grams of fat (it also had 11 grams of fiber and 21 grams of protein) but it sure was good . . . and I still have enough calories for an apple for dessert/snack later!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pleasantly Plump is cutting the fat, changing the carbs

I had blood work done for the first time since becoming vegan. I got mostly positive results back including a 40-POINT DROP in my overall cholesterol levels!!! The only real negative was an elevated triglyceride level . . . so, I was asked by my doctor to go on a lower fat diet, exercise more and from the advice of my father, who is a RN, to cut sugars down in my diet.
I am a plump girl and have been for a while. Like a lot of women, I would like to be thinner, but for the most part I had settled into my curvy physique. I love fatty foods like avocados and French fries, have an enormous sweet tooth and love too many comfort foods. Even before I knew my triglycerides were high, I decided this would be the year I got healthier by eating better and exercising more. I started a health journal and was doing a great job at going to yoga, the gym and taking long walks with Sweetpea. Then, I broke my arm about a week and a half ago and the exercise stopped. Shortly after I found out my blood work results and decided to get back on track . . . at least with my diet (the gym will have to wait until my arm is a little better). So, I have been changing what and how I eat by cutting out a lot of white foods such as white breads (so long biscuits), white rice and white pasta and despite my dislike for brown rice, I started eating it. I have been trying different pastas made from quinoa and corn, haven't been adding extra sugars to my recipes, eating more fruits and veggies, switched to light soymilk and started eating breakfast everyday, which was actually kind of hard. I also started tracking my food consumption on Nutrition Data to make sure my carbs and fat levels are in check (I am totally hooked on this website, by the way).
I will always be pleasantly plump, but the fatty, sweet and comforting foods will be scaled down a lot. I'm sure I will occasionally make a naughty treat or two for special occasions (I do have to use my new cookbook, My Sweet Vegan), but hopefully, from here on out, I hope to stay on track with healthier choices.
Healthy meal #1- Fresh sage brown rice with seared lite tofu and roasted asparagus. The tofu and rice are topped with a fresh thyme and shallot sauce made from veggie stock and a splash of soy creamer. This big plate of food was only 295 calories, 4 grams of fat, and had 13 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Not bad!
Healthy meal #2- Quinoa pasta with tomato sauce and nutritional yeast, roasted cauliflower with dried Herbes de Provence and a salad with kidney beans and fat-free Italian dressing. This plate of food was only 312 calories, 3 grams of fat and had 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber. Awesome!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Lori's Party Bars (inspired by My Sweet Vegan)

I am probably the last vegan out here that finally got a copy of My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky. I am totally blown away by this cookbook. Not only is the author a great recipe writer, she is also a great photographer. I love how there is a picture for every recipe (or just about). I also like how there is such variety with decadent recipes, lower fat snacks, and both fruity and chocolaty treats. The first recipe that caught my eye was the Party Mix Bars. I mean, who doesn't like a party?
I didn't have the exact ingredients My Sweet Vegan's called for so, I made up my own version. My version made 16 bars each that came out to 175 calories, 3 grams of fat, 115 grams of sodium, 36 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein. They are very delicious and not a totally naughty snack.

Lori's "Don't Be A Fruit, Come To My Party" Bars
4 cups of Berry Blast Oats (like Cheerios . . . I used a generic/store brand that has dried blueberries, raspberries and strawberries)
2 cups of mini fat free pretzels (with salt)
1/2 cups cocktail peanuts (with salt)
1 tablespoon whipped Earth Balance margarine
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup vegan sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the cereal, pretzels and peanuts together in a big mixing bowl. In a saucepan, melt the margarine. Once melted, add the corn syrup and sugar and continue to cook on medium heat until sugars are dissolved, being careful not to burn by stirring. Take margarine/sugar mixture off of the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour sugar mixture over the dry ingredients and carefully combine until everything is evenly covered in the sugar syrup (careful not to break up the cereal). Spray a 9 x13 pan with cooking spray and pour the mixture in evenly. With your fingers (or a spatula if you aren't very personal with your food), mash the mixture into the pan. Let the mixture cool completely before trying to cut and eat!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

a big thumbs down for VeganRella

Pre-Vegan days (PV days), I loved cheese. I ate cheese at every meal and had the cholesterol levels to prove it. When I couldn't think of anything to eat, I went to cheese and crackers. When I decided to go vegan, I went cold tofu after reading Vegan Freak by Bob and Jenna Torres. I knew if I weaned myself off of cheese slowly, I would, as Vegan Freak suggested, look forward to that little bit of cheese and I would never quit. Every since I gave up dairy, I haven't really craved it BUT have been on the look out for a good vegan cheeze. I have heard from several people that VeganRella was the best vegan cheeze they have found. We were craving pizza and decided to give VeganRella a try.
First, I tried a little VeganRella on crackers and it had a nice firm texture, although tasted nothing like mozzarella . . . but I was expecting that. Not bad, just not great. Another thing was the smell. It smelled funky, but not in the stinky cheese kind of way. In fact, it kinda stunk up the apartment when I shredded it up for pizza topping. But I was determined to have a cheezy pizza! I made a perfect crust, chopped up some red onion and green peppers, had some good tomato sauce ready and veggie pepperoni for an extra kick. The oven was set high and ready to melt the cheeze. Well, the good news is that it did melt. The bad news is that it melted into a glue-like, pasty goo all over the rest of the toppings. Every time I took a bite, it stuck to the roof of my mouth and front of my teeth. In other words, it was bad. Really, really bad. There was no way to pick it off so Jared and I ate the whole thing since the crust was really great and hey, that was what was for dinner.
I'm not sure if anyone else has had this experience with VeganRella but we will never buy it again. I think I'll just stick to silken tofu or go cheeseless.
Here is a shot of the goo at it's worst:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Survey Says!

Jared went out to ride bikes so I am home snuggled up in bed with lots of cookbooks surrounding me and I'm taking a break to fill out this survey I found on Kamutflake Girl's blog. I think these are a fun way to learn about one another . . . so, if you haven't filled this out and are bored or taking a break from something, fill it out too!

1. If you have to choose between locally grown or organic, which do you usually choose?
Honestly, I go with what looks best and has the best price. We are a one income household, so whatever fits our budget works best for us. If I had copious amounts of money, I'd prefer organically grown local stuff ; )

2. Favourite way to prepare potatoes:
Geez, I've never met a potato I didn't like but I am a huge fan of home fries with soy sausage, maple syrup, caramelized onions, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. I also like a good oven roasted potato with fresh rosemary, garlic and salt.

3. Do you press your tofu before preparing/cooking it (if you eat soy)?
Not usually, but if I think about it a head of time I will. If I know I will be marinating tofu, I try to press it before hand.

4. Name your favorite recipe that is a tradition in your family:
Which family? I am the product of divorced parents. My dad, step mom and sister always use to make tostadas or feta cheese pasta. I have been able to veganize the tostadas but not the feta cheese pasta. My mom made lots of comfort foods like chicken pot pie, which I have easily veganized.

5. Any food allergies?
More like intolerances. I have a hard time with spinach and tofu. I'll eat the tofu but spinach and me are not friends.

6. When you want to go to a fancy dinner, where do you go?
If we were celebrating something that calls for a fancy pants night, like an anniversary, we'd probably go to Cafe Sunflower. They have a lot of vegan options and very good desserts.

7. When you have a cold, what do you crave?
Sweet iced tea with crackers. Maybe some veggie broth.

8. What kind of water do you drink? (Filtered, spring, tap, etc.)
Tap water that's been run through our water filter pitcher.

9. Name a flavor of soda you'd love to see:
When I was a kid I found bubble gum flavored soda and I LOVED the stuff (bubble gum ice cream was also my favorite). Kinda gross, but I'm sure I'd still like it.

10. If the recipes you ate as a child were compiled into a cookbook, what would the title be?
How I Became Pleasantly Plump

11. If you were allowed to grow one food that can't grow in your climate, what would it be?
I think it would be cool to grow my own coffee beans

12. Favorite type of mushroom?
I really wish I liked mushrooms enough to answer this question properly.

13. Most frustrating part of your kitchen?
We live in an apartment with a small kitchen. It's big enough for one but it's hard to get Jared and I both in the kitchen. Plus all the appliances are kinda old and the wallpaper/cabinets/counter tops are outdated (but not in a cool way). I'd LOVE to have a gas stove so I can make roasted peppers right on the stove top.

14. Last food you burned?
I made Jared a tofurky grilled sandwich and one side of the sandwich was a bit too dark. He still ate it cos he's a sweetie.

15. Usual response to a veg*n's favorite question, "But where do you get your protein?":
Inside, I am kinda annoyed by this question but I usually answer, kindly, that I eat a lot of beans, peanuts/nuts, whole grains, soy milk and broccoli. Sometimes I remind them that protein is over eaten in our culture, and that a healthy diet should only contain about 10% of calories from protein, 30% from fat and 60% from carbs.

16. If you were baking your own birthday cake today, what flavor would it be?
I love a good carrot cake with "cream cheese" icing. I also love strawberry cake with "cream cheese" icing.

17. Favourite brand of chocolate chips?
Whole Foods makes a good and fairly cheap vegan chocolate chip.

18. You have $200 of your tax return reserved for Williams Sonoma - What do you buy?
what a tease!!! I wish I had a gift certificate from Williams Sonoma. If I did I might buy 1 (maybe 2) Le Creuset pans/pots. Or maybe a new food processor and a really good all purpose knife.

19. Do you plan your menus in advance? Any tips to share?
I try to. I usually sit down with my cookbooks for inspiration and ask Jared if this or that sounds good. Sometimes Jared sits with me and looks through cookbooks himself for ideas. Honestly, I also watch a ton of cooking shows to get ideas from. Most shows don't have vegan or even vegetarian meals but I get a lot of ideas from watching them still. I like the challenge of veganizing something.

20. You have 3 minutes before you have to leave the house and you're starving- What do you eat?
piece of bread with soy sausage heated up in the microwave (only takes 2 minutes) with a bit of maple syrup. I'd probably grab a banana too.

21. If Martha Stewart, Paula Deen, and Rachel Ray got into a fight, who would win and how?
Paula Deen is a fellow plump girl, so I think she could take em both! She'd just have to sit on them and stuff sticks of butter in their mouths. EWWW!

22. If you eat oatmeal, what do you add to it before serving?
I am so hooked on steel cut oats. I add vanilla soy milk, ground golden flax seed, a pinch of salt, maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon. SOOOO GOOD!

23. If you got to travel to one country and learn all the traditional dishes there, where would you go (ignore commitments in your current place of residence.)
Geez, that's tough. I love Indian food and Thai food . . . so maybe India or Thailand IF I only had to make vegan versions of things. No ghee or fish sauce!

24. Favourite late night snack?
popcorn is always good. We put melted Earth Balance, agave nectar, garlic salt and nutritional yeast on ours. Weird combo BUT sooo yummy. Trust me.

25. Favourite springtime food?
I like a nice light pasta with peas, asparagus, basil, some kind of nut like walnuts or pine nuts, olive oil and sea salt. Strawberries with balsamic vinegar for dessert.

26. Favorite food-related magazine?
Magazines aren't in our budget but I do like to pick up a cute homemade zine from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe.

27. Which do you prefer: shoyu, tamari, conventional soy sauce, or Bragg's Aminos?
I like tamari but I always buy soy sauce for some reason.

28. What vegetable or fruit do you dislike the most?
I don't like mushrooms or olives the most.

29. Name a holiday food you look forward to all year long:
Cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

30. If you could convert anyone to veganism with your magic wand, who would you convert?
You know, I really think it should be someone's own decision. I'm happily married to a vegan, and that's pretty awesome. It WOULD be nice if everyone was vegan, especially my family. I think it would help with a lot of their health problems, if not for any other reason. I am not a preachy vegan but I do tell people I care about that I feel wonderful mentally, spiritually and physically.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sesame Crusted Seitan, Lemon Gem Truffles

I know anyone reading this blog knows how wonderful it feels to be in the kitchen after not being in it for a while. I spent a good couple of hours in the kitchen today making homemade seitan and what was suppose to be Lemon Gem Cupcakes. Both the seitan recipe and the cupcake recipe came from Vegan With A Vengeance. The seitan turned out pretty great and the cupcakes turned into a complete disaster.
First up, the homemade seitan. This recipe is simple, used only a few ingredients and was easy to follow. It was the first batch of seitan I made that didn't turn out too mushy. For the wet ingredients, I had to use ketchup instead of tomato paste because I only had frozen tomato paste (that's how I store left over tomato paste from the can). I also added a couple of bouillon cubes to the cooking broth for extra flavor. This recipe made so much seitan! For dinner tonight I wasn't super hungry so I made some sesame crusted seitan nuggets. I coated the nuggets in flour, then into a flax meal/water slurry and then into toasted sesame seeds. I fried the nuggets in a little canola oil and made a dipping sauce of Dijon mustard and maple syrup. This was sooo good!
Now on to the cupcakes. They turned out horrible. Jared made these cupcakes before and had disastrous results as well, but I thought I'd give them another shot. The batter was so runny that it spread over the top of the muffin tin and made a crunchy flat top. I made the lemon icing which was also too runny and had a weird texture. So, following one of my fellow blogger buddies, Amanda from Walking the Vegan Line, I made these cupcakes into truffles!!! I added the cupcakes to the food processor to make them into crumbs and added enough of the lemon icing to hold the crumbs together. I used a small ice cream scoop to get equal mounds and rolled them into balls. I then dunked each ball into the remaining icing and put them in the fridge to set up. While they tasted like lemon truffles, they kind of looked liked glazed doughnut holes. Amanda is a genius!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm BAaacckk and I've been Baking!

It's Lori and I'm back! I went to the doctor today and was told no surgery was needed for my elbow/arm fracture and that I do not have to wear a cast or a splint . . . just a sling when I venture out. Turns out I broke my arm in a good spot (if there is such a thing) where I heal faster and better with movement. In fact, they said that if I DON'T move my arm, I could actually do permanent damage. It feels weird to move it and I am still in a lot of pain but I was told to get home and start using my arm (no heavy lifting though).
I have so wanted to get back in the kitchen. It was nice to have my own gourmet chef making whatever my heart desired but cooking is my hobby so it was killing me being on the sidelines. I made two treats already today, although my arm is telling me to take it easy, so it might be the only things I make today.
I made the Banana Blueberry Muffins from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. So Yummy! Notice the crack in the muffin . . . in honor of my poor broken wing.
I also made a loaf of really great bread that had flax meal, sunflower seeds, walnuts and dried cranberries. I had a tofurky sandwich and it tasted like Thanksgiving in sandwich form. After all, I am thankful I don't need surgery.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tofu Scramble, Po' Boy, Beanballs and Lemon Squares

We had lots of yummy food today. We started off with a scramble with soy sauce-marinated tofu, fingerling potatoes, red pepper, onions, and fresh herbs.
Then, one of the best things I have had in a while. The Chile Cornmeal-Crusted Tofu Po' Boy from V-con. Holy crap was this good. It was a bit labor intensive but well worth it. We made a tartar sauce to go with the fried tofu, cole slaw and pickles.
Bonus pic of the endless sandwich.
For din din, we made some Spaghetti & Beanballs, also from V-con. Lori helped out with these quite a bit. We just made the beanballs and used a jarred sauce. Ours turned out a bit mushy, but they were still delicious. I think we will bake them next time instead of frying.
I made desert, too. Once again, from V-con (I love that book, btw), we had the Lemon Bars. Lori just walked by and said how good they were as I writing this. And she is right; they were super good.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Finally, some cooking

So I finally got some cooking done. For breakfast, we had "Fronch" Toast from "Vegan with a Vengeance". This was the first time we had made this, and it was ridiculously good. We used Golden Pecan Bread from our local farmer's market.


For lunch, we had a lentil soup. This is just my basic soup that I throw in whatever we have lying around. This one contained: red lentils, fingerling potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, shallots, zucchini, thyme, rosemary, and sage.


And for dinner, I used the Marinated Asian Tofu recipe from "Veganomicon" and grilled it. We had firm tofu that is made locally, but it was still a little too soft and didn't hold up to the grill as well as I would have hoped, hence, the little uneven pieces of tofu. Despite the random shapes, it still tasted great. I added that on top of stir-fried snow peas, carrots, broccoli, and green onions and rice.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bike Race & Brunch

Hello. This is Jared posting on Lori's behalf, which I will be doing until she heals up from her fall and regains use of all her limbs. I haven't had a chance to cook much, so we have mostly been getting take out. However, we did get out this morning for vegan brunch at 11:11 Teahouse which was part of the SOPO's Broken Hearts and Bicycle Parts Race I took part in yesterday. The race was so much fun, and brunch was awesome. We were so busy devouring yummy food from the ATL's finest vegan cooks, we forgot to take many pictures. The only one we got was of this chocolate mint cupcake, which I'm pretty sure was from Dulce Vegan. It was very tasty. 


Friday, February 15, 2008

well folks, I broke my arm today

Jared and I were playing tennis and I went back for that perfect shot, tripped and landed right on my arm. I broke the base of my left radius (thank god I'm right handed), right near my elbow, so needless to say, I won't be able to cook for a while. Luckily, I can still eat AND I happened to marry a guy who knows how to cook! Jared said he would keep my blog going. So, stay tuned for Jared! I'll leave you with a picture of some nachos I made the other day. I used the Cheezy Sauce recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

On this Valentine's Day, I'll share a photo of Jared and I when we went to Seattle for our honeymoon 3 years ago. We also rented a car and drove down to Portland, which was also very nice. We weren't vegan then, so we would love to go back to Seattle and Portland as vegans. I love this picture because we got the perfect skyline with the Space Needle, downtown and Mount Rainier. The sun was setting, so it was just a perfect moment. Plus we were smiley newlyweds!
Sweetpea (the dog) and Peeny (the cat) also wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. They are forever life partner cuddle bugs (they really do spoon like this when it's cold out).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I <3 the Farmers Market

I think I am seriously in love with the The DeKalb Farmers Market. It is a warehouse sized building packed to the brim with loads of wonderful things. They do carry meats, fish and dairy BUT they also carry a huge selection of soy milks/yogurts/margarines, faux meats, organic produce, loads of international foods and the name brand grocery items you'd find at Whole Foods for way cheaper. Basically, it’s my version of heaven (you know, when you take away the non-vegan stuff). They also have several kinds of nut butter machines (such as cashew, almond and peanut), a very lovely cut flower section, fresh coffee, a deli with olives and various pickled items, a bakery with lots of vegan breads/muffins/bagels and a wine/beer section with quite a few organic choices. One thing I really, really love about this Farmers Market is the bulk items they have. Think of just about any dried fruit, nut, seed, spice, grain, bean or snack you'd like and they have it already bagged and reasonably priced (and most of the time organic). Another cool thing is that they have a HUGE recycle center in the parking lot so I always bring my recyclables and drop them off before shopping! So, if you are ever in Atlanta, this is a must go to place. The best time to go is in the mornings or the afternoons during the week (the weekends are PACKED). Oh yeah, and they have a fantastic cold salad bar and hot bar with lots of vegan items for lunch and dinner (open 11 a.m til 8 p.m.) but a lot of people go there during lunch. I had lunch there at about 1 p.m. today and it was still full of people on their lunch breaks. I got a plate full of salad and some tofu from the hot bar and it was under $3! Now on to the groceries!
The veggie items I got included white creamer potatoes (20% off), fresh herb packet with rosemary, thyme and sage, cauliflower, zucchini, green onions, an English cucumber, garlic, shallots, a red onion, daikon radishes, Roma tomatoes, asparagus (really cheap!) and carrots. All of the veggies were about $15 and mostly organic!
The fruits included organic bananas, Granny Smith apples, Empire apples, Gala apples, Fortune apples, a lime and a few lemons. All of these fruits added up to about $7 (all the apples were discounted by 20%).
Finally, the bulk/grocery items included organic pearled barley, organic dried kidney beans, organic almonds, nutritional yeast, Herbes de Provence (for 68 cents!), garlic salt, red Thai curry paste, organic canned whole peeled tomatoes, organic canned tomato sauce, organic canned diced tomatoes, dried cranberries and organic dried garbanzo beans. This stuff was the priciest coming in at around $25 but most of these items will last a very long time.
As you can tell, today's trip to the Farmers Market was basically to restock my pantry, counter tops and fridge. I think I did pretty good coming in at around $50 and I got to have a delicious meal before I shopped.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

100th Post: Pizza, Banana Bread!

Proudly, I am writing my 100th post. I have enjoyed writing in this blog since I started back last July. I became vegan in May 2007 and this blog was a way for me to keep myself on track with a vegan diet. What I learned was my conscience, soul and morals kept me on track and really this blog became just a document of my journey.
Now on to food. I went to Whole Foods this morning to pick up some maple syrup and olive oil and came home with pizza making groceries. I made my basic pizza crust I posted about before. I cooked the pizza on the stove top with olive oil spray until the crust was golden. I finished cooking the crust in the oven with the toppings. Whole Foods was out of Vegan Mozzarella, so I bought some silken tofu to put on the pizza instead and I am so glad I did. I also topped the pizza with pasta sauce left over in the fridge, vegan pepperoni, green bell pepper, red onion, thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes (a yellow one with green stripes and a red one with blackish-green stripes), Vegan Parmesan, dried oregano and red pepper flakes. I don't like my toppings cooked to death, so I baked the pizza in the oven until they were a bit wilted but still had a nice crisp bite to them and the tofu had a brown touch to it. Good God was this amazing! Probably the best pizza I ever made.
We also had three bananas on the verge of being tossed out but I salvaged them and made the banana bread from The Damn Tasty Vegan Baking Guide. The recipe only called for two bananas but I went ahead and threw in the third banana and it turned out great. I also added a little vanilla extract because it seemed a bit flat. This is Jared's Valentine’s Day treat, since we are trying to eat healthier, I figured this is a good "healthier" treat. I got my Valentine's present early, so I made him this early . . . that and the bananas wouldn't have lasted until Thursday ; )
Out of the oven and cooling:
Sliced and seconds away from being devoured:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tofu Marsala, Soup and Biscuits

Could it be??? Yes, I made a meal that had lots of mushrooms and actually liked it. I'm not ready to cross mushrooms off my dislike list but this dish was very good. This recipe came from Yellow Rose Recipes, a book I am totally addicted to. At first I thought the Marsala marinated tofu was going to be too "boozy" but once I added the tofu to the sauce, it all made sense. It was a bit labor intensive but Jared loves mushrooms so it was worth the effort. We had our Marsala over angel hair pasta that I added olive oil and sea salt to. If you like Marsala and have this cookbook, this is a pretty good recipe to try out.
Tonight I was in the mood for soup so I quickly diced up onion, celery, carrots, red potatoes and sautéed them in a little olive oil with sea salt, black pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme and a bay leaf. I added some veggie stock, a can of diced tomatoes and a can of light red kidney beans. Man, do I ever love kidney beans in soups. They bring such a richness to a soup that cannot be beat. At the last minute, I added in a handful of fresh parsley to brighten things up.
Also from Yellow Rose Recipes, I tried out the Buttermilk Biscuit recipe. SO GOOD! I like that she uses canola oil instead of vegan shortening, which is what I always used. I love (and had already discovered) using lemon juice (or vinegar) in the soymilk to make it thicken like buttermilk for the wet ingredients in the dough. It makes for a fluffy, tangy and downright Southern biscuit!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Valentine's Day Comes Early

Jared and I were out shopping for clothes today when I remembered I wanted a new purse. We are fortunate enough to have an all vegan store called Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe that has shoes, bags, shirts as well as many yummy foods and all the great cookbooks. After circling the mall (UGH!) we finally made it over to their cute little shop on the other side of town. Cosmo's isn't exactly right near our house but we go there about every 2 weeks to scope out the new cookbooks/zines and pick up a snack. I have been eyeing this purse for months now and Jared bought it for me for Valentine's Day. I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
He also bought me some of this yumminess, which to me is way better than chocolates.
I'm one lucky wife.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pre-interview cookies

I had an interview today and to shake off some of my anxiety about it, I made cookies yesterday. I tried out the Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies from Yellow Rose Recipes. I added dried cranberries infused with strawberries and a bit of apple sauce. These are wonderful and not terribly bad for you . . . you know, if you have only one or two.
Here's hoping to getting a job!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Juicing Fast Results

Well, I'm not gonna lie. It was tough. We started off really good but by about 3 o'clock I was tired, hungry, cranky and had a headache. We drank juice every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, with TONS of water in between. I used a combo of knowledge from my favorite juicing book Juicing For Life by Cherie Calbom and Maureen Keane, past experience from working in juice bars and help from the Internet.
We were hungry all day, but in a weird way. I didn't feel anxious about not eating and at some points throughout the day, I felt down right wonderful. My stomach did growl a lot though. To supplement the fasting, I put psyllium husks in a smoothie made with fresh apple juice, fresh blueberries and a couple frozen bananas. We also munched on a couple of raw carrots when we were feeling really bad. Believe it or not, drinking mashed up fruits (like I did in smoothie form) and eating a few raw veggies is perfectly acceptable to some schools of juicing fast thought . . . mine included. I think the most important part is listening to your own body. If you can't do a full day, oh well. It's not the end of the world. Going one day was a great accomplishment to Jared and I and will be something we will do again.
Since it is Super Bowl Sunday, we did make a traditional feast of vegan burgers on homemade rolls, oven fries, sliced tomatoes, sweet pickle chips and a dill spear.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Juice Fast/Detox

Jared and I are getting into better shape and wanted to give our bodies a day off from having to break down food. So, for the past week we have been prepping our fridge/kitchen to do a one day juice fast today. It doesn't sound very ambitious but juice fasts are tough if you are use to eating whenever and whatever you like.
I've posted about juicing before, so today I'm just sharing what I call my Juice Feast Buffet. The easiest way to be a juicer is to be prepared by washing and cutting the fruits and veggies (that won't turn brown) a head of time. To make juicing a breeze, I prepared two over flowing plates of prepared or nearly prepared fruits and veggies to have ready all day. You should really drink homemade juices at room temperature since you get the full flavor and usage of nutrients at this stage, so I am keeping everything out on the counter top.
Plate #1 is my Greener On the Other Side plate. It has parsley, green onions, cabbage, cucumber, broccoli stems, romaine lettuce, celery, garlic, ginger and green bell pepper.
Plate #2 is my Sweeter Than Pie plate. It has beets, beet greens, carrots, granny smith apple, red apple (not sure the kind), tomatoes and lemon.
Since you should never eat OR drink something too sweet on an empty stomach (screws up your blood sugar/insulin levels), Jared and I made up our own versions of V8s for breakfast. Mine had tomato, celery, cabbage, carrots, beets and their greens, cucumber, green bell pepper and parsley. Jared's had broccoli stems, parsley, carrots, beets with their greens, celery, ginger, cabbage and cucumber.