Monday, January 30, 2012

Chips Were My Downfall

Today was the first time I had anything non-vegan to eat in four days! Yea! It was a bag of harvest cheddar Sun Chips so it wasn't that bad. Grocery shopping was a lot better/easier this time and the only dairy product we bought was 2% milk for Chris since he doesn't like the soy milk I bought. I, however, love the new soy milk and went through it faster than I have gone through any cow milk. So yummy!

On another note, tonight I donated plasma for the first time. I apparently did not drink enough water beforehand and felt extremely lightheaded after. I was extremely happy that I prepared dinner in the slow cooker earlier in the day. And even happier with my choice since it contains a variety of vegetables, meaning a variety of nutrients :) I love it even more than the tortilla soup and therefore am sharing this one as well. It's brown rice, chickpea, and vegetable soup (I know it's long but that's the name from the book) from my favorite  'Get Healthy, Go Vegan' cookbook.

Chickpea Soup (way shorter name)

What you need:

  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 small broccoli florets
  • 1 (15 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste (completely forgot this and it was still great)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
The process:
  • Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add chickpeas, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, basil, and oregano and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the brown rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. 
As you can see from the process, in his recipe, you would normally cook it stove top with quick cooking brown rice. We didn't have that so I slow cooked all of the ingredients on low for six hours. And here's the results! Sorry, it's a bad phone picture. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tomato Soup

Today is grocery day! Yay!! I've started, through Pinterest inspiration, making a weekly menu. Granted, three of these days have 'leftovers' written for lunch and dinner but there are only two of us in the house and all of the recipes serve 8+. I am hoping that by going ahead and choosing the recipes and writing the grocery list from there that we'll get more vegan friendly foods and not revert back to the old ways. Despite having the grocery fail last week I did manage to cook a couple of vegan meals. Our favorite was the tortilla tomato soup from 'Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker' by Robin Robertson. I was a little nervous to try it because I don't normally like tomato soup but this one was delicious! And for that reason, I'm giving you the recipe :)

Tortilla Tomato Soup
What you need:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium size yellow onion
  • 1 celery rib (minced)
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 can tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 soft corn tortillas
  • 1 tbs lime juice (we didn't have this and it still turned out great)
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh parsley leaves (again, didn't have and it was still good)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup tequila (optional)
  • Diced avocado for garnish (optional, we didn't have but I can see how it would enhance the soup. We'll be using it next time)
  • Sliced black olives (optional, I don't like black olives so I didn't use them)


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a 4 quart slow cooker, add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and stock, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. While the soup is cooking, prepare the tortillas: Place the tortillas in a lightly oiled skillet and cook until crisp on both sides. Cut into strips and set aside. 
  4. Shortly before serving time, stir in the lime juice, parsley, cilantro, cumin, and tequila if using. Working in batches if necessary, purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Taste to adjust seasonings. Ladle into bowls and top with the tortilla strips and avocado and olives, if using. Serve hot. 
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grocery Fail

Today was our grocery day. Before going to the store I picked a few recipes, including some from my favorite cookbook, Get Healthy, Go Vegan. However, mentally I also chose to cook a modified version of a mexican casserole we love. The original calls for chicken, but I substitute an extra can of black beans. Anyway, the casserole calls for mexican blend cheese and I meant to get the soy version. We even went to the fancy Harris Teeter just so we could get the soy cheese and pita bread but out of old habit we walked right by the soy cheese and got the cow milk cheese instead.  It's like I go into autopilot when I walk through the sliding doors. Next time we go to the grocery, I'm going to need to put a post it on the cart reminding myself to get the vegan version of our usual dairy purchases. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dining Out

Last night I went to dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate the 21st birthday (yay!) of my friend Kristina. In the past, my go to item on the menu was their cheese ravioli. However, last night I decided to try for a vegan meal. Through my experience as a vegetarian I already know that it can be difficult to find something on the menu other than a salad to eat when I go out for dinner but was glad to see a couple of other vegan options, although not many, on their menu. I decided on the minestrone soup, without the cheese on top. It was delicious! Unfortunately, I forgot to mention my new vegan ways when the salad came out so there was cheese on that, oops. There's a lot to remember.

Before dinner, I ran to the store to get some batteries. I guess because Valentine's day is coming up there was chocolate everywhere. I guess because I had been thinking I'll be giving chocolate up soon I should 'treat' myself to a big (huge) bag of m&m's. This bag was probably meant to fill a jar, and I can't bring myself to see how many m&m's equals a serving because in a fit of "Oh no! I'm giving up chocolate!" I ate half of the bag before going to bed. You should know, I don't actually eat much candy, including chocolate, so I'm not sure why it's such a hard thing for me mentally to decide to give up. However, even today, nearly twenty-four hours after the m&m fiasco my stomach still hurts. I am now more than willing to give up chocolate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Beginning

Friday, January 13th, my nutrition teacher issued an assignment. We each had to write just one paragraph about something we want to change in our lives during the course of the semester. I've been tossing around the idea of becoming a vegan for awhile and decided to take this as my challenge to finally take on this goal. Less than a year ago I became a full vegetarian after being a pescetarian (fish/seafood was the only meat I ate) for two years. I've decided to use this blog to record my successes and challenges. I'm also hoping it will keep me on track. Maybe I'll feel more drive to keep at it even if just three people are reading about my journey.

So with this goal in mind for the past five days, I have made my first step towards veganism. In my morning coffee for the past few days I have used almond milk in place of my usual 2% cows milk. Not going to lie, I think it tastes way better and my stomach seems to like it better as well! However, I have also comprised a short mental list of things I'm not I'll be able to give up as easily. So far I have...

  • Eggs: I know there are substitutes but I love to bake so we'll see how well they work.
  • Cream Cheese: I LOVE bagels with cream cheese. I have cut back but they are my little treat to myself when I go to study at the library (along with my Starbucks)
  • Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt: Because I am a broke college student, I only go out for these as a special treat, even more special than a bagel. I'm going to have to find a new special treat.
  • Chocolate: I'm a girl. It doesn't need more explanation than that. 
  • Butter Popcorn: I love my movie theater butter popcorn. I've tried plain popcorn and didn't like it, emphasis on plain. 
I'm sure I'll think of more along the way but these are the ones that immediately came to mind when I took on this challenge.