Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Best Meal Yet!

At least, that's what Chris said. I've been doing a lot more cooking lately, and I really only post our favorites to the blog. However, I would like to announce that in the month and a half that I've gone vegan and Chris has mostly been eating vegan meals we've lost a combined 23 pounds! That wasn't my goal but it is a welcome effect, especially with summer just around the corner.

Now, I'm sure you're dying to know what the best meal yet was. It was lentil tacos! I have made a lot of black bean tacos since becoming a vegetarian but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of making tacos with lentils, but they were delicious (thank you Saving Dinner the Vegetarian Way!)! I'm ashamed of how many I ate in one sitting. Chris proclaimed that we need to make these tacos every week. Now, I'm not actually going to do that because eventually we'd get tired of them, but maybe bi-weekly. Here's the recipe, I took some liberties so it's not directly out of the book.

Lentil Tacos

What You Need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 cup red lentils (our local Harris Teeter didn't have these, I found them at a health foods market)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • tacos/tortillas
  • Whatever toppings you would like (this is not how it reads in the cookbook but seriously, that's all that's left) 
The Process:
       1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Soy cheese doesn't melt easily so I put the cheese in the     
            tacos and baked for 10 minutes. 

       2) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic and sauté  
              for 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, chili powder, and cumin. Cook for 1 minute. Add broth, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until lentils are tender.

          3) Stir in salsa. Divide among tacos. We topped ours with shredded spinach and vegan sour cream. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quick, Easy Pizza

I'm sure many of you are like me and are usually too busy or too tired to want to make a long, complicated recipe. I feel that way all the time so that's why I love pita pizza! It only takes 15 minutes to make, including bake time. All you need is pita bread, pizza sauce and whatever toppings you want on it. Below is how I make it but everyone likes different toppings.

Pita Pizza

What You Need

  • Whole wheat pita bread
  • Pizza sauce
  • Spinach
  • Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • (Soy) cheese
The Process
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Put sauce on the bread. (duh) 
  • Put the spinach on the bottom. The sauce helps prevent the spinach from drying out in the oven. 
  • After that, add whatever toppings you would like! Here's what ours looked like! 

  • Top it off with the cheese and cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Cut up and serve :) 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winner Winner, Tempeh Dinner!

We have tried a new vegan meal nearly every night for the past 7 days and Chris cast his vote for which one is blog worthy. He isn't vegetarian so I figure if he thinks they are delicious then the recipe must appeal to a larger audience than just us vegetarians/vegans.

The blog worthy recipe of the week is Tempeh Chili from Saving Dinner the Vegetarian Way. I've largely ignored this cookbook but we've tried nearly all the recipes in my two favorites so it was time to give this one a shot. I'm so glad we did because this chili was super easy and way yummy!

Tempeh Chili

What You Need:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 12 ounces tempeh, cut into small cubes. (I didn't know this before my mom told me but tempeh is sold by the tofu. Even knowing this I had to look for it because it was closer to the lettuce, weird.) 
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 (28oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3-4 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne to taste
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
The Process: 
  1. In a skillet, sauté tempeh until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add remainder of ingredients (except rice) and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

                               See, super easy! I topped it with vegan cheddar cheese. 

PS: I swear, one day I'll find my camera cord and post decent pictures. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Meeting My Needs

        Nearly everyone who hears I'm a vegetarian asks the question "Where do you get protein from?" or "Do you get enough protein without meat?". I've always answered, "Yea, of course I get enough. I eat beans!" but I never knew for sure because I didn't know how to analyze my protein intake when I was making recipes. Let's be real, that would be a lot of math on my own.
        Well this week in my nutrition class we had an assignment where we need to track our protein intake for a day. We start with a formula to see how much you need. What you do is divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, this gives you your weight in kilograms. Then multiply that number by .8 and ta-da! you have how much protein you need in a day! After a normal day of eating I came only 2 grams shy of what I should be intaking. Not too shabby, in my opinion.
        Now, for the best part. I had homemade soup and a homemade chili for my meals, so how did I know how much protein was in it? Because today I just discovered http://nutritiondata.self.com/! You can add recipes and it will analyze it for you! It provides neat graphs as well as analyzing vitamin and mineral percentages. Whether you are trying a vegetarian diet or not I highly recommend this site to make sure you're diet includes everything you need! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Building My Garden

Today was a sunny day here in NC! What a great opportunity to start working on my garden. Last year I had it in the backyard. Bad idea for two reason: 1) Only one of the dogs understood the mini fence was meant as a sign to stay out. 2) We have a great big tree in our backyard that provides plenty of shade. Great for a hot summer day, bad for growing veggies.
So this year, I decided to put it at the side of our duplex which gets lots of sun. Downside is it's also where we have thrown trash for the past year and a half. It's still not quite ready for the seeds and seedlings but I think it looks way better than it did this morning. Which means...before-ish (I had been working for 30 minutes before I thought to document the progress) and after pics! Yay!



I'm going to put a mini trellis in front of the ugly AC unit and have the tomatoes and cucumbers grow there. I'm considered painting it a light yellow. As for the other wire stuff, I'm still thinking about ways to make it prettier. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Getting Better

I have done a LOT better this week. I still need to make conscious decisions/reminders to take off or replace animal products in meals but it's getting easier. I'm becoming more aware of the vegan options that are regularly available at my local grocery which makes it easier to use my vegetarian cookbooks and know what I can replace in the recipes with substitutes. This was a busy week, like last week, so I am extra proud of myself for the choices I made and from staying away from doing something easy and reverting back to old habits.
I ended up not making the vegan cheesecake this week because I didn't read the instructions well and realized the day of that I needed a spring form pan which I don't own. However, Chris did cook a vegan dinner for us while I was at work and had it ready when I got home on Valentine's Day. It was very sweet! Especially because he's not the biggest fan of this dietary change. We're trying a bunch of new recipes this upcoming week so hopefully something will be worthy of the blog!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Darn School

So I haven't posted in a while, I feel like a slacker. I guess because I wasn't posting as much I also slacked off in the vegan diet. School hasn't exactly been hard this semester but I recently started my hours at my internship which means I am now a lot busier. Less time to prepare lunch led to Papa John's pizza. Ugh. Chris and I looked at how much we spent eating out this week and decided to put that towards more groceries so for valentine's day we're having a completely vegan dinner AND vegan cheesecake!!! I can't wait to post how the cheesecake turns out!
This past week wasn't a total fail though. I made Kidney Bean Risotto one night which instantly became a favorite of ours. It was a little time consuming to make, but I may just be spoiled with my slow cooker.

Kidney Bean Risotto
What you need:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 2.5 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 3 tbsp parsley
  • 3/8 cup cashews (our college budget didn't allow us to get cashews but it was still yummy)
The Process:

  1. Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add half the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, then add the rice and stir until the grains are thoroughly coated with the oil.
  2. Add the stock and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a heavy-bottom skillet. Add the bell pepper and celery and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and the remaining garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.
  4. Stir rice into the skillet. Add the beans, parsley, and cashews. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until hot. 
Ta Da!!!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our 'Bad' Day

Chris and I have been eating really healthy meals 24/7 lately. I have been reading and hearing that it's ok and even good to have one, but just one, day a week where you allow yourself to have a bad (less healthy) meal. So tonight was our bad night! We went to a small local burger joint for...burgers! I of course had their garden veggie burger which was surprisingly delicious and Chris seemed to enjoy his beef patty as well. Now, when you think americana burgers and fries you of course think of a milkshake for dessert. Tonight was no different. We walked across the street to a coffee shop for milkshakes. I really wanted one, and made the conscious decision to get one because I thought there was no vegan options for a good milkshake. Well, within two minutes on Pinterest I found vegan options! And an entire website/blog full of them! I will be sure to try some out when I get the chance and post updates but if you would like to try some on your own you should go check out www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com !