week 1 of work down!

So today marks the end of the first week of work without gluten or dairy. It’s definitely a lot harder without the gluten or dairy at work since I work in a bakery/cafe. There’s tons of bread and cookies and pastries that are always calling my name, screaming at me to eat them as I walk past. Especially the croutons.. those little buggers have like 50 calories a piece and it’s super easy to just grab 10 or 12 or a 100 and munch on them periodically. Their smell is just so intoxicating when they come out of the oven and I swear they put crack-cocaine in them because how else would they be so damn addicting?! So obviously, I’m hoping after these 2 weeks I won’t even be phased by them. I’m not going to start eating them again, I can tell you that!

And with ending the first work week without gluten or dairy, let me tell you how freaking easy this is. I thought it’d be crazy hard since I’m already a vegetarian and I’ve obviously got a bunch of stuff already that I can’t eat.. and I’ve never really gone full out vegan before.. and as I stated above, I love me some bread. But honestly, I’m not missing any of it. The biggest thing I suppose is the fact that I’ve really been wanting pasta lately.. and even with that, as long as I get my butt to the grocery store I can just buy some quinoa pasta or gluten-free pasta to get past my craving. I honestly feel a lot better.. I really do, I feel like I’m eating a lot healthier and I’m hungry at appropriate intervals.. I do feel like I’m eating  more, but it’s really  not that big of a deal because what I’m eating is super healthy for me and not full of chemicals and preservatives and all that garbage. I’m eating more fresh fruits and vegetables (not that I wasn’t before, but now I am cramming them into my mouth like they’re cookies) and the grumblings in my tummy when I’m hungry feel like good ones, not the “hey, I’m growling because all you did was eat a bunch of junk and now I want mooooooore!” kind of grumblings. But anyways. Let me tell you what I’ve eaten the last few days.

One: A LOT of guacamole… and tortilla chips. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. I made the guac Wednesday with 2 avocados that I had sitting in the fridge and on Wednesday I ate a ton and then yesterday I went to Moe’s for lunch and ate tortillas and salsa and guacamole and then never ate a real dinner but then stuffed my face with even more tortilla chips and guac.

Two: Tonight I made vegetable stir fry with dry-fried tofu and rice. I used the sauce for the tempura vegetables from the other night to coat the vegetables. Have you ever dry-fried tofu? Megan showed me the ways of dry-fried tofu and let me tell you. It’s soooo good. It smells like fresh popped pop corn and it gets all crispy on the outside and miraculously soaks up the marinade a hell of a lot easier once it’s fried. Pretty much all you do is press your tofu, dry it off with a paper towel or something and then smack it into a super hot pan (no oil!!!!) and leave it there untouched until you smell popcorn and it easily comes off the pan. Flip it and repeat! Eat as is or use it like you normally would tofu. My stir fry tonight consisted of broccoli, snow peas, carrots, scallions, tofu and rice.

Three: Vegan Chocolate Pudding. Yes. Amazing. Simple. Luscious. All I did was throw a box of silken tofu into the food processor with like 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of agave nectar and whip it up. Stored it in the refrigerator for a few hours to firm up and then chopped some strawberries into it and then devoured. Also, can we talk about how good agave is? Not gonna lie, I actually licked the side of the jar where it had dripped down the side. I could probably just eat spoonfuls of agave. Sooo so good.

So there you have it! My last few days in dairy and gluten free land. I’m not sure what this weekend will entail, but I think I might have an encounter with some Moroccan Red Lentil soup. Meggy you know what I’m talkin’ about =P ohhh yeah.

sushi & the zoo

So yesterday I was let out of work super early so the boy and I decided to hit up the zoo and spend the day outside. I hadn’t been to our zoo in a really really long time so I was excited to go. They have a few new exhibits and surprisingly all of the animals were out and about even though its February and pretty cold out. My favorite animals are of course any of the kitties and I took a few photos of the lions (because they remind me of Munky).

This photo was taken while they were howling/meowing/whatever you want to call it at the glass and all of the people. It was really bizarre.. I’m not sure what their problem was!

So after the zoo we went to the grocery store and got the ingredients to make vegetable sushi and gluten-free tempura vegetables. Usually I use the tempura recipe out of my Moosewood cookbook, but since it’s made with flour and I’m avoiding gluten for a while.. I surfed the web to find something that used a gluten free flour. This is the recipe I ended up using. We battered and fried sweet potato chips, green bean strips and broccoli florets. They were sooo yummy!!

This recipe wasn’t as good as my usual, but it was pretty darn tasty! It uses rice flour and I feel like it fit perfectly with having sushi. I also made a ginger-soy dipping sauce that is pretty much drinkable in my opinion. It’s got soy sauce, grated ginger, garlic, scallions, mirin and sesame oil. Sooo sooo sooo good!

The sushi had avacado slices, cucumber sticks, shaved carrots, scallions and a few of them had sweet potato tempura chopped into it. The boy was in charge of making the sushi and it was all very delicious =) I have a very love/hate relationship with nori, sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it.. yesterday I ate like 8 pieces of sushi before the flavor of the nori caught up with me and was making me gag. So in the end I ended up peeling away all the nori and eating the rice and vegetables dipped in the sauce with just a little hint of seaweed. I’m not sure why I have such a problem with it.. I do enjoy it usually!

And as you can see in this photo, we had pickled ginger, wasabi and STAR FRUIT with dinner!

He had never had star fruit before and since it’s one of my favorite fruits we bought one yesterday. If you’ve never had one before the best description is if you combined a kiwi and an apple. It’s very mild and very juicy, super crunchy and soo very delicious. Plus! It’s super cute! I think we’ll be hooked on them for a while… He bought another one today =)

Today consisted of leftovers and grilled cheese sandwiches for the boy. Although, I did make him drink a green smoothie. I usually only have green smoothies when other people make them for me.. but today I decided to try them out for myself. I added a big handful of both kale and baby spinach, some frozen peaches, a few strawberries and an apple. It was awesome! He and I both had big glasses and finished them both. I unfortunately do not have a picture, but you get the idea.. it was a super green drink. We also made home made guacamole and munched on that with some of my favorite tortilla chips.

So far this whole ‘no dairy, no gluten’ thing is going awesome. There were some broken cookies at work today that I wanted to eat terribly bad, but I refrained and stepped away and went about my merry way. I’ve been eating pretty healthy (not that I really don’t anyways) and we’ve been walking every day. I had to have something sweet and indulgent though so since I can’t make cookies or cake or eat candy, I chopped up a banana and microwaved a small block of semi-sweet chocolate with a tablespoon of peanutbutter and chocolate soy milk and drizzled it all over the banana. So simple yet so satisfying. Tomorrow I’m probably going to make vegan chocolate pudding with silken tofu and try that out.

 

some stuff!

This past week or so I’ve been cooking quite a bit…

Friday I went out to my moms and made her dinner.. she’s newly a vegetarian so I wanted to make her something with tempeh so she could try it out. I decided to make my special version of shepards pie.

Pretty much I made a “beef” mixture with tempeh, green lentils and carrots slow cooked in “beef” broth until everything was soft and delicious. I of course added some onions and garlic, thyme, bay leaf and some Worcestershire sauce. I don’t like corn and mashed potatoes mixed together so the next layer was peas and then the mashed potato topping was red skinned potatoes and yams mashed together. Sooo good. I also steamed some broccoli and bought a loaf of Italian bread to go along with it.

Sunday I made my favorite to make cookies again.. the ones from Vegan with a Vengeance… the ginormous peanutbutter oatmeal ones.

I made like 16 cookies or so and then froze like 20 little cookie balls so that I can have them to make whenever I want. These cookies will probably pop up on my blog a lot.. I make them when I’m down in the dumps, on rainy days, when I have to entertain people, when I’m requested to bring a dish etc etc. I always add chocolate chips but this time I added chocolate chips AND reese’s chips! Sooo good!

I also made home made pizza dough for pizza. I thought it was going to turn out terrible because I mixed whole wheat flour with all purpose flour and didn’t really pay attention to the recipe very well.. I ended up having to add almost 2 extra cups of flour and it was a horrible texture when raw but surprisingly it turned out amazing. My boy rolled it out for me into the most perfect circle and I made home made pizza sauce. The sauce consisted of something like a can of diced tomatoes, half a can of tomato paste, like 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar plus Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (threw it all in a food processor too). We let that cook for a while until it thickened and was luscious and delicious. For the toppings I did the sauce, basil pesto swirled into the sauce, broccoli, roasted garlic, roasted tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese and Herbes De Provence.

And tonight, I made haddock piccatta with wild rice and sweet and sour carrots. The piccata recipe came out of an old Racheal Ray magazine and the sweet and sour carrots came out of this months issue. The wild rice was simply just made in the rice cooker. The boy got me hooked on wild rice. It’s so delicious, it seriously doesn’t need anything on it whatsoever to be yummy.

And since I’ve been wanting to showcase these guys for quite some time.. Let me introduce you to my three babies.

This is Myrtle. We call her Myrt the Squirt. She’s camera shy. She’s also what I call “my loyal one”. She follows me around the house, sleeps on my head and consistently scratches at the bathroom door whenever I’m in there for longer than 0.025 seconds. She’s a fan of warm clothes out of the dryer, chewing on hair, her 1960’s hippy chair and my boy.

This is Hunk. But we don’t call him Hunk. He is Munky, or Munk, or Munk the Chunk. He’s very camera happy, always trying to take a model-esque picture. But he’s so insanely shy it’s impossible to get near him unless he’s extremely comfortable with you. He’s everyone’s favorite and has a feather duster for a tail. He’s a fan of sitting on his lower back/butt like a human (especially in chairs), playing PS3, clawing at your face at 3 am, purring louder than anyone else, chasing twist ties and rubber bullets around the house and sliding on the hardwood floor.

And last but not least, this is Fern. Also known as Fernie, Pumpkin or The Butt. She’s the baby and was the runt of her litter. She sleeps under the covers with me, greets me at the door, sits on your shoulder and drinks out of the faucet. She’s a fan of anything in the bathroom, including attacking you while you shower, attacking Munky and Myrtle, collecting all the kitty toys in the house and hiding them under the blankets, being combed, chasing ghosts, eating cantaloupe and raspberries and being super cute.

Hope you enjoyed this post of foods and kitties. I decided that starting today I would not eat dairy (aside from eggs) or gluten for 2 weeks. So I’m going to be blogging about that and my adventures in temptation. So far so good and I’m hoping I’ll be feeling super awesome by the end of the two weeks. Tootles!

 

 

where do you get your protein from?

So I thought I’d talk a little about something I read today that I found to be extremely interesting.

As I’ve mentioned before, I get a decent amount of magazines in the mail and yesterday I recieved this months issue of Vegetarian Times.

They have a section called “Ask the Doc” where people write in to ask questions and I thought this was interesting:

“Is it true that animal protein builds muscle better than plant protein? Which plant protein sources are best for this?”

Now, I’m not going to type out the whole answer.. but I will copy this:

“Actually, plant protein isn’t any better than animal protein when it comes to building muscle. If you were to feel the leg of a horse or a bull, you’d be reassured that plant proteins build muscle and plenty of it.”

HOLY CRAP. I’ve never thought about the “where do you get your protein?” question quite like this before. It’s never even crossed my mind that animals like horses and bulls and cows all live on a plant based diet, yet are some of the strongest animals we have. I mean come on, most vehicles go by HORSE POWER because of how powerful horses are. I mean, as a vegetarian I’ve been asked sooo many times where I get my protein from.. a lot of people don’t understand that something as simple as broccoli can pack like 4 grams of protein per cup and that as long as you’re eating a well balanced diet you consume plenty of protein on a daily basis.

That statement was just so simple, it blew my mind.

Also, my mother just bought a book called 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life and I was browsing thru it today.. It was really interesting.. covering where certain foods have originated from, why you should eat them, how to store them, ways they benefit you medically and numerous other topics. I was reading about how ridiculously good kiwi is for you and kale and blackberries etc etc. It also made me get a little more curious about Vitamin D.

Recently I’ve learned that I have a severe Vitamin D deficiency and although my doctor didn’t flat out tell me that it could be caused by my diet, I’ve had numerous people tell me that having a vegetarian diet could cause (or aid in) a vitamin D deficiency. Well, out of 101 foods in that book, only 3 foods were considered high in vitamin D, or even mentioned vitamin D. THREE. I mean, I know there’s a wider variety of foods and certainly more than 101 that are good for you.. but only 3? Really? And I’m being told that my diet could be a cause of the deficiency? Psh! (ps: the 3 foods that were mentioned in this specific book having high vitamin D levels were carob, mushrooms, and eggs)

Anyways, that’s my rant on protein and vitamin D. I just thought it was interesting and worth sharing.

little pillows of ecstasy

Alright, so. I’m slacking on the posts again, and I apologize. But here I am!

So in the last few days:

The boy and I made P.F. Chang Lettuce Wraps – but of course, I made some changes and/or I have no photo.. we used tofu in replace of the chicken and I doubled the marinade/sauce recipe. I’m super glad I doubled it though because as you know, tofu sucks up any moisture and if I had only had the single recipe of the marinade I don’t think it would have been nearly as flavorful.. but needless to say, the recipe was awesome and the wraps were fantastic. We also steamed some rice to go along and some edamame (in their pods!). I swear, the boys got me addicted to edamame and I bet you’ll be hearing about it a lot.

Meggy and I had a cooking/baking night in the beginning of the week where she so generously made me kale & peach smoothies with her sweet Vitamix and we dived into a huge vat of vegetable quinoa chili and freaking awesome brownies. You can read about that adventure here. She also convinced me (just by having the book on her table and me devouring every page of it) to purchase Vegan Junk Food and I’m super excited to experiment with the recipes… especially the homemade meatballs and the meatball pizza.

I also made fudgy wudgy blueberry brownies outta the Veganomicon with vanilla bean ice cream.. yum!

I of course had to wash the brownie down with chocolate soy milk in my sweet dino cup! (anyone remember those welch’s grape jelly jars that turned into awesome cups when you finished the jelly? I think my brother and I had numerous growing up as kids..)

I also made the chicken style seitan outta Vegan Slow Cooker one night this week for upcoming recipes.

Yesterday I made the jambalaya outta Vegan Slow Cooker with the seitan and it was delish! The boy actually liked the seitan and although I’m always terrified to try it (I’m not sure why.. I think it has to do with the brain like look and the weird squishy texture), I actually enjoyed it as well! I’m excited to use the rest up in maybe a chicken fried steak recipe or something.

The jambalaya was pretty tasty… the recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of rice but I thought that would be too much so I only used a cup of rice and it turned out pretty good. The rice was a little mushy because it soaked up more liquid than it should have, but it was tasty either way.

Now, for the absolute best thing about yesterdays meal.

Home made potato rolls and bread.

Holy crap.

Freaking fantastic.

They came out absolutely perfect. They were soft and moist and full of flavor… they made my house smell fantastic and they were like little pillows of ecstasy. Soooooooo damn good. Sooo sooo soo good.

I used instant mashed potatoes with a bit of garlic in them and it was pretty faint in the bread, but still a bit noticeable.

The boy and I pretty much ate the whole pan of rolls but I have the loaf saved for sandwiches or burgers or something.. pretty much I have no idea why I ever buy bread.. its so simple to make at home and its so satisfying to make a perfect loaf of bread that you’re proud of and can make you smile ear to ear. Plus it makes your house smell awesome and has people who generally don’t come out of their rooms coming down asking what that delicious smell is.

Pretty much, I’ve decided to make more bread… it’s seriously one of my favorite things to do cooking wise and I’m not entirely sure why I don’t do it..

panini heaven

So, due to just an unattractive looking sandwich (at least with my photography skills and my dinner plates and such) I do not have a photograph of the genius we re-created last night, but I must blog about it anyways.

Last night, the boy and I decided to make (well, I decided… he eats whatever I make) BAKED POTATO PANINIS.

I got this ingenious idea from BS’ In the Kitchen (who by the way, has some pretty freaking fantastic ideas for paninis… think baked potato, broccoli and cheddar cheese soup and jalapeno popper!). Their photograph of the sandwich is absolutely delightful (of course).

I substituted bacon bits for the bacon slices and unfortunately I didn’t have any crusty type breads so I just used the farm-style I buy from my bakery every week.

This sandwich was phenomenal!! We warmed up some tomato soup for a dipper and oh my. Sooo sooo soo soo soo good. I will admit to it being quite a heavy sandwich, but hell, who the F cares right? Whats better than potatoes and cheese crisped in a delicious sandwich?!

last few nights!

So the last few nights I’ve been cooking up a bunch of “in the head” kinda food… Meaning, I don’t necessarily have a recipe, I’m just combining whatever it is I have in the fridge that’s either going bad or is an oddball out or whatever.

So Monday night I combined roasted brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli and orecchiette pasta (did you know that orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian?! I learned that from Rachael Ray haha I’ve never forgotten it though!) with a balsamic cream sauce. Pretty much I combined an equal amount of half&half and vegetable stock with a bunch of minced garlic and a couple of tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar. I add a bay leaf and some herbes de provence and it was pretty freaking fantastic! I know I always say things are fantastic, but what can I say? I’m cocky about my cooking haha

And of course, we made a big ol’ salad too… for some reason I can’t eat pasta without salad… something about how heavy the pasta is compared to the lightness of a good salad… I don’t know, makes me feel healthier!

So then last night, my brother and I decided we were going to make dinner and then go see The Artist. We needed something quick and easy and that we could run to the grocery store, make, devour and get to the theatre in 2 hours. He’s been on a wicked kale kick lately so we brainstormed and decided to make a kale pasta dish.

Soooo what we did was, minced a bunch of garlic, sauteed the kale, added a can of cannellini beans and a added a whole jar of Prego (ugh, I know! but he loves it! and it was actually really good) chunky marinara sauce. We boiled some spiral shaped noodles and threw them into the pan and called it dinner. It was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Also paired with leftover salad and big huge honkin’ pieces of bread (my brother is the king of everything Italian bread… choosing the loaf, slicing it, eating it, devouring it and finishing it off).

the sauce!

the whole dish!

the whole shebang!

So anyways, like I said, my bro and I went and saw the Artist last night… It was phenomenal! It was so strange seeing a silent film, it took a little getting used to.. their facial expressions were so exaggerated… I like going to the movies with him though, who else is going to smuggle in two very large pieces of Italian bread and a ziploc baggy of dried cherries for a snack?!

Annnnd then tonight, the boy and I made some sort of asian style noodle dish that I made up. I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of it, but I can promise you it was delicious. Marinated some tofu in an asian style marinade and sauteed broccoli, snow peas, carrots and scallions. Used some of those thai style rice noodles and combined it all together. We also boiled a bag of edamame in the pod and salted them a ton. Between the two of us, we finished off the whole bag. yum yum.

I’ve been wicked craving chocolate lately, been scouring the internet for a simple one serving brownie recipe (I don’t need a whole pan of brownies sitting around!). Any suggestions on a single serving brownie or chocolate cake recipe?!

leftovers & muffins

So that tortilla soup and salsa? Makes awesome leftovers!! I turned the salsa into bangin’ grilled cheese sandwiches and warmed the soup up for a killer dipper. (I made the grilled cheese with a little shredded cheddar cheese on plain ol’ white bread with a little bit of Frank’s Red Hot spread on the inside of the bread… yum!!!!!!!!)

Today, I slept until a god awful hour and then decided it was an opportune time to make the cranberry orange nut muffins I’ve been wanting to make since Christmas. I gathered up all my ingredients and went to my giant freezer to get out my cranberries and oh.my.god. It’s an absolute disaster. I couldn’t find anything to save my life, so although I was already freezing, I set out to clean the beast out.

Findings? Soup in freezer bags in all sorts of shapes and sizes, fish fillets from last ice fishing season, venison (uhm? hello? I don’t even eat meat!), frozen and then unfrozen and then frozen again frost bitten berries, like 8 packages of rolls? Plus an assortment of a bunch of other crap. Pretty much, I’m embarrassed to say how much I threw out today. Butttttt, now I can see what’s in there and it’s not going to be such a hassle to find what I want.

So anyways, after I did the whole freezer thing, I set out to make the muffins. My Nanny got me giant muffin pans for Christmas and I’ve been pretty excited to use them and along with the pan she also got me 750 Best Muffin Recipes, which is where I got the recipe from.

NOW, I absolutely love love love love love love love Panera Breads cranberry orange muffins.. they are my favorite, like EVER. So I was kinda hoping these muffins would be sorta like them… but I knew instantly that they probably wouldn’t be. For one, they’ve got cinnamon and nutmeg in them… and Panera’s does not… For two, they’ve also got pecans (I subbed walnuts) and Panera’s does not… but hey smelled absolutely fantastic baking and they look pretty darn good…

Annnnnd, I just had one and they’re awesome! The cranberries are super tart, the muffin part is the perfect sweetness, and you get a little hint of orange. The nuts are pretty tasty as well! (Although I must say, Panera’s are still better.. but these can be a good at home replacement)

Yum!

tortilla soup!

So last night, super cold… snowy, I’m lazy. So I made soup!

I made this chicken tortilla soup (with yes, you guessed it! some changes!) and it was pretty fantastic. I obviously didn’t use chicken broth, or real chicken and as stated above, I’m lazy so I opted out of making home made tortilla strips and just crumbled up my favorite tortilla chips and used them. I also didn’t add nearly as much cayenne as it called for and I’m super glad. The soup had the perfect spicy-ness and I probably used 1/8 or 1/4 tsp of cayenne, anymore and it would have been too spicy.

Surprisingly enough, I was way more into the salsa. It was pretty delicious. I almost could have done without the black beans, I’m all about tomatoes and avocado together.

Also, I was a tad disappointed because the color nor texture of my soup wasn’t anywhere near the pictures on the original post, but whatever. It was yummy.

The next few days will probably revolve around leftovers and quick easy stuff because I’ve got too much in my fridge and it’s always difficult to cook for just one person, and that’s all I’ll be all weekend. So until next time!

rice puddinz

So I was always one of those people who couldn’t stand rice pudding. I never understood it. Why would anyone want to eat cold mushy nasty rice? And that stuff you could buy out of the tub on sale every week at the grocery store? Forget about it!! Nasty nasty nasty!! It wasn’t until recently that I became a lover of rice pudding. One day I was asked specifically to make homemade rice pudding and being the nice person that I am, I obliged and took a stab at making it.

I was a little hesitant at first, with all the horrid experiences I’ve had with it… but let me tell you, it was a life changer. It’s still mushy rice. But when it’s warm and right off the stove, raisins all plump and delicious… I don’t see how it could be made or enjoyed any other way. And actually, I’ve even enjoyed it at a few diners or two since then as well.

It’s been ridiculously cold here lately, with the snow and ice and persistent slush that covers the road and for some reason I decided that tonight would be a good night to devour some comforting rice pudding, cuddle with my Fernie and get to bed early.

Here’s the recipe I use:

5 cups milk

2/3 rice

¼ tsp salt

½ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp cinnamon

½ cup raisins

Combine milk, rice, salt and sugar in a medium sized pot. Cook on medium high heat until bubbly and then switch the heat to low. Simmer until the rice is tender and there’s still a good amount of liquid/creaminess (it takes a stupid amount of time, I’m usually super anxious by the time its half way there). Add vanilla, cinnamon and raisins and cook to desired thickness.

I of course, always tweak the recipe. Tonight I halved it, since I was the only fatty eating it and I also pretty much dumped enough raisins in to scare any normal human being. But I do love me some raisins.

ps: I always add a little pad of butter on top of my pudding. Something about the saltiness of butter always makes it taste a hundred times better to me.

Also also also, after I had already started it and it had almost finished simmering, I opened up my fridge and realized that HELLO! tazo chai tea concentrate would probably be freaking awesome in the pudding and that will probably be my next experiment. It’ll probably be heaven in a bowl. Yummm.