Part of my self care regimen on the tenure track is scheduling time to cook healthy, nutrutious vegan meals on Sundays. During the week, I regularly work between 9-12 hours a day on research and writing projects, which means I have very little energy left over to cook .. and getting takeout every night isn’t an option unless I want to gain a million pounds.
So…. Here’s one of two delicious meals I made today:
Take a yam. Peel it. Chop it up and boil it.
Meanwhile: bring 1 cup of rainbow quinoa to boil in 2 cups of water. I toss in a cube of vegetable buillion. Reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside.
When the yam is tender, strain and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon of EVOO with 1/4 cup of almond milk. Stir in yams, drizzle with agave and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in 3 large handfuls of spinach and a dash of salt. Optional: sautee the spinach with fresh garlic before adding to the yams.
Spoon the yam/spinach mixture over the quinoa. Savor.
Last week, I ordered some kind of pineapple/chili dish served with tofu, grilled cashews and steamed vegetables. As I noshed, I wondered: “Why don’t I ever cook with pineapples?” Rectified this gross culinary negligence by whipping this up tonight. The base of the curry is an almond butter sauce I made, along with carrots, garlic, grilled peanuts, almond milk and coconut butter. Seared the pineapple in coconut oil along with red onions. Served over brown rice, red rice & black barley, with a side of split pea mash. Incredibly delicious. Not low fat. At all.
Whipped this up the other night. The combination of mushrooms, artichokes, spinach & sun dried tomatoes in cheesy, vegan yumminess was so good, I almost shed a tear. Oh, and it’s gluten free, too.
For the alfredo, I brought about a cup of almond milk to boil, then returned to simmer. Added copious amounts of nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic and a few spoons of marinated sun dried tomatoes. Used a little NO EGG to make the sauce thick and creamy. While this was heating up, I cooked some gluten free (corn) spaghetti in a saucepan.
In a large skillet, I grilled organic mushrooms in coconut oil, then added them to the alfredo. God, it would have been incredible if I had just stopped at this point. But no, I continued..
Next, I grilled the artichoke hearts (frozen, from Trader Joe’s) and spinach, separately. I stirred some of the veggies into the sauce, but set aside the rest.
When the pasta was done, I spiced it up with lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper before unceremoniously dumping it into the mushroom alfredo. Topped with the veggies and served with prosecco..
Grilled the mushrooms in coconut oil and spiced the pasta with black and red pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Made the “alfredo” sauce with almond milk, nutritional yeast and a bit of tofu sour cream. It was amazing.
A week ago, I picked up a bag of organic chia seeds from Trader Joe’s. I believe chia seeds first entered my consciousness when I saw a pic dream hampton posted on twitter a while ago. It was a glass of water filled with weird looking gelatinous balls. My knee jerk reaction was “yuck.. what the hell is that?” But my curiosity was piqued. And I dig dream, so I figured there must be something good about these odd looking critters.
Anyway, I finally tried them myself and began doing a little research. Apparently, chia seeds are the latest “superfood” , eaten by the Aztecs and renown for its protein, antioxidants and fiber. There is some debate over whether their omega 3’s are actually beneficial. Regardless, people seem to think that chia has all kinds of magical powers. It’s supposed to provide an energy boost, assist with weight loss and soothe the body with its antioxidant properties. And since the seeds expand into little balls of gel with a crunchy center, they can be used to thicken drinks or to make pudding. I now add chia seeds to my water and smoothies. Tonight, I tried my hand at chia chocolate.
As with all of my previous batches of raw chocolate, I’m using a basic recipe from the Rawtarian. I was concerned that the chia seeds would begin to gel and expand in the chocolate, as they do in liquid. But they remained hard and crunchy – probably because I put the batch in the freezer immediately after making it. I must say, it turned out to be pretty fantastic.
And so it is that I’ve made the ultimate super food snack: coconut oil, raw cacao AND chia seeds. Organic, vegan AND gluten free. I just might start speaking in tongues any minute now. Hallelujerr!
7 Weeks in. Still going strong. Meat cravings have been on the rise, however. Driving home from work the other day I was this close to going to my old wings place. The only thing that stopped me was imagining the suffering of those exploited and tortured chickens. Came home and ate my mac ‘n cheese instead. Yesterday I was overcome with an intense desire to consume lobster tail with lots of butter and fresh lemon juice. Today, I was nearly seduced by the wafting odor of grilled meat from a restaurant while on my way to an Indian spot for lunch. I held firm and stuck to a vegetarian dish, though I did break down and eat copious amounts of naan. Cheese naan. Yum. I also passed out afterwards. It was the most wheat I’ve had since I started this transition. Body couldn’t handle it..
In other news, I’ve tried to get Zora on board by introducing raw cat food (lamb to be precise) into her diet. I try to sweeten the pot by stirring in some Kit ‘n Kaboodle, her favorite go-to-junkfood. She’s very, very skeptical so far. But she’s nibbling. Progress!
Anyway, here’s the game plan I’ve been working with this week:
Brussels sprouts, grilled onions & tomatoes in peanut sauce over red quinoa
Kale, candied carrots & cranberries over red quinoa
Mac ‘n cheese with broccoli or kale
Gluten free penne pasta with black olive tomato sauce
Butternut squash soup
Carrot/broccoli slaw w/ sweet potato pancakes & spicy Korean sauce
Before I moved to Long Island, I thought black people had the market on mac ‘n cheese. Very soon, I discovered that for sheezy my cheesy is, in fact, the craze of almost every Euro-American restaurant in the state of New York. Even the fancy “organic” pub in my town has mac ‘n cheese on the menu. And not as a side dish or an appetizer — they serve it as an entree. Anyway, this weekend I found myself craving something rich and decadent, so I gave vegan, gluten-free mac ‘n cheese the old college try.
This ahhhhmazing dish turned out to be a spicy, robust, savory and delicious – just the way I like it.
I don’t really remember exactly how I did this, but I will give you a vague, sketchy overview of what most likely occurred in my kitchen:
In Lieu of a Recipe
1 box Gluten free elbows (quinoa/corn based)
1/4 cup Daiya shredded cheddar
1/2 cup Daiya shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup gluten free flour
Several tablespoons of nutritional yeast (my first time using this.. AMAZING!)
Approx 1.5 cups of almond milk (or maybe 2 cups.. I can’t remember)
Three slices gluten free bread (I used a corn loaf)
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
What I May Have Done:
Cook elbows according to box instructions.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your roux. Combine flour, milk, cheddar, half of teaspoon of sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup of mozzarella in Vitamix
Oil a baking dish
Drain the elbows, rinse with cold water. Sprinkle the macaroni with sea salt (not too much!) and black pepper.
Transfer elbows back to the pot and pour in the roux. Stir and taste. If it’s not robust and cheesy enough, add more nutritional yeast and/or Daiya cheese. When the taste is better-than-your-momma’s mac ‘n cheese, pour the mix into your baking dish.
Set the baking dish aside and prepare the croutons. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Slice the bread into little squares and transfer to the pan. Turn frequently until lightly toasted on both sides and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the croutons over the elbows and throw in some more cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes (but monitor closely).
To get a nice bubbly finish, broil for 3-4 minutes.
It was fabulous. So good, in fact, that I had a bite for a midnight snack..
The first time I visited my town’s gluten free, mostly vegan bakery, I had no idea I was visiting a gluten free, mostly vegan bakery. I just saw “baked goods” and wandered in, looking for something sweet and delectable. As I perused the menu peppered with “gluten free” this and “vegan” that, I was overcome with a mild sense of disgust. This was not a real bakery. The healthier the food sounded, the less I wanted to eat it. I left without getting anything.
The second time I stopped by was with a friend. He had a hankering for something sweet, saw the bakery and asked if we could pick up something. I reluctantly agreed. When he realized how healthy everything was, he, too, turned up his nose. “I tried to tell you,” I said, shaking my head as we left. Again, I left this bakery empty handed. We ended up going to a swanky bar for cheesecake instead.
The third time I visited the bakery was last week. Having settled quite comfortably into my relatively new veganish, gluten-freeish lifestyle, I was eager to actually taste their offerings. I picked up an apple strudel muffin and a banana nut muffin. The former was divine, the latter was meh.
The fourth time I visited the bakery was yesterday. They had one of those apple muffins left. It was so good, I could have cried. It also realized that I would really shed hot, bitter tears if I had to pay 3-4 dollars every time I wanted a vegan, gluten free muffin. And so it was that I decided to try my hand at egg-less, milk-less, wheat-less baking.
I gave some thought to replicating the apple strudel muffin but that seemed too complicated. So, instead, I decided to try out something I’ve successfully executed before: banana nut muffins.
For this adventure, I used a recipe from Namely Marley, a cool food blog. I had to buy a few new staples to add to my growing vegan/gluten free pantry: vegan flour (I got white rice, though brown rice probably would have been a better choice) and egg-replacer, just in case – even though the recipe did not call for it.
I don’t really like following recipies, as you may have noticed, and I did not follow Marley’s very well. Instead of using margarine, I used coconut oil. I must have mismeasured something, though, because the first batch came out looking rather homely. They weren’t rising. And they kind of had that “blah” taste than the bakery’s banana nut muffins had. So, I added a tablespoon of “egg replacer” to the batter along with some ground cinnamon and ginger. The second batch was *awesome*! For these, I also added a topping, for which I used coconut and agave in addition to brown sugar. My graduate students will be sampling these in our seminar tomorrow.
I finally decided that the first batch was *awesome* too, because it has less sugar/agave and will be my go-to healthier snack this week. It also makes a pretty good delivery system for a dollop of almond butter.
Oh, and between you and me, my muffins turned out to be a lot better than the bakery’s. A lot. *dusts shoulders off*