Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Prepared Vegan Foods & Meatless Meats

As much as I enjoy cooking, I also enjoy having a night off. I was very excited to hear from a vegan co-worker that one of the grocery stores in town offers vegan prepared foods. She was eating meatless nuggets the other day for lunch.

Well, we made the trek to the other side of town, and I found a nice selection of vegan foods. My husband joked that for someone who doesn't eat meat, I'm going out of my way to have food that looks and tastes like meat. He likes to call the meatless sandwich meats "phoney baloney". Of course, I told him that it wasn't balogna, it was salami!

Tonight I had a veggie patty and it was really good. It didn't taste anything like a hamburger, and that was just fine with me. I'll probably try the nuggets later in the week. I put the patty in a bun with some lettuce and had some baby carrots on the side. Finished up with some salsa and some whole wheat tortilla chips. Yummy!

The store also had different things like meatless ground beef and chicken and meatless Canadian bacon. Interesting.... I missed the vegan cheese. It turns out I should have looked in the cheese section, not the vegan deli meat section. Who knew? I'm just glad that I've found a store that stocks the type of foods I want to eat.

I had one of those moments that reinforced my decision to go vegan while we were shopping. My youngest daughter loves to look at the fish tanks in the store. She pointed out the lobsters to me and said, "Look Mama, crabs!" I said, "No, those are lobsters," and then it hit me that those poor creatures were going to be someone's dinner. It made me sad.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Veggie Stew and Vegan Dumplings Comfort Food!

This afternoon, hubby was more than willing to make pasta for dinner again. Don't get me wrong, I love pasta. I'm half Italian, so I think there is some sort of rule about the fact that I have to love pasta. But even pasta lovers get tired of pasta. And since I feel like I have a cold coming on, I wanted some good old comfort food. Or maybe that is good new comfort food since I'm trying to find vegan comfort foods.

If you've read any of my other mofo posts, you'll already know that for a lot of basic stuff, I just wing it. Tonight's soup is another winged recipe. I like to check the fridge and pull out any veggies that haven't been eaten before they go bad and chop them up for soup.

Tonight I started with a clove of garlic and a little oil. Once it was cooked, I added some vegetable soup stock and water. The the veggies: potatoes, sweet potato, some turnip, some frozen corn, a bit of cabbage, some broccoli and a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) Added some whole wheat flour to thicken it up to be more like a stew. To do this, I put some flour in a bowl and whisked it with some water so that it didn't get lumpy. Spices I used were parsley and oregano.

Then I used the recipe I found here for vegan dumplings. (Heavens! I actually used a recipe!). This is one I've tried before with excellent results. The only substitution I made was to use whole wheat flour. These turn out really well and everyone loves them.

My youngest child is a picky eater and she tried her stew and said, "It's so good!"

This is not my stew, but I like the picture!
Country Captain Stew

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegan Mofo--Crock Pot Minestrone Soup

I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, and that is one reason my crock pot does not get a lot of use. I'm usually packing my lunch and eating/drinking my breakfast on my way out the door. So today, when my daughter's kindergarten class let the children in early because it was raining, I found myself at home with a few minutes to spare. My husband was working at a physical job today, and I knew he'd come home and say, "Let's get pizza" and since the pizza place we frequent does not make "special order" pizzas (read--vegan), it's a pain to order from there.

Long story short, I thought I'd make something in my crock pot. I had a library book on vegan crock pot cooking, so I took a quick look, found something that I had most of the ingredients for and took a shot.

The recipe was pretty easy and I'll include a link to the book I used so you can take a look if you want to. I've never made minestrone soup, so I was really looking forward to it. It smelled delicious as soon as I opened the door tonight. I had asked my husband to put the pasta in the soup when he came home since he gets home about a half hour before me. I even left the cook book out so he could see the recipe. You know where I'm going with this, don't you?

I went into the kitchen and lifted the lid on my pot of soup to find that there was in fact no liquid left in the pot. I asked him how much pasta he put in. His answer, "The whole thing." That's right, he put a whole bag of pasta in the crockpot and then walked away. It's one of those things that you just have to laugh at because it turned out well as a pasta dish, even if that is not what I intended to make. I said earlier that part of being a vegan is experimentation, and I think this proves it. Best of all, the kids loved the pasta, even my daughter who hates sauce on her pasta. Hubby is not in the dog house this time. Next time? Well, we'll see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Stir Fry and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Hello! Welcome to my life! I have gained a few followers over the last weeks and I wanted to say "Hi! I'm glad to meet you!"

I think the challenge I have with vegan eating is that it's not as easy to just grab something and eat it without thinking. I guess that is the point. I have become more mindful of what I am eating. This means spending more time reading labels, trying to figure out if something is actually vegan. Imagine my surprise last week when I discovered that the veggie cheese I was considering purchasing contained milk! How disappointing!

The fun part is trying new things. As a vegan, you can't be afraid of new foods. You have to be open to new foods and new ways of cooking foods. I really enjoy the freedom of gathering up some veggies, chopping them up and throwing them all together in a stir fry. I don't always have the best results, but most days, they are pretty good.

Today, I made a stir fry with bean sprouts, mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage and carrots (for the colour!). I started with a bit of vegetable broth, then added some soya sauce to cook the vegetable with. I made some brown rice (I think I have finally figured out how to make it well!) and then threw it together. OK, well not literally. I have been tempted to throw stuff around the kitchen, but tonight was not one of those nights. I knew I had done well when hubby had seconds (and he claims to dislike brown rice!). I've got two servings put away in the fridge for lunch this week too, so that's a little less stress for me in the morning. Now I don't have to try to figure out a vegan lunch at the last minute.

I'm attempting to make some oatmeal raisin cookies. The recipe I used seemed pretty good. I had everything on hand, so that was a bonus. They are not turning out very well though! The cookies are very sweet and have fallen apart when I take them off the tray. We'll see how the second tray turns out, because you never know.
I think that I'll try another recipe next time, one with less sugar for sure!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan MoFo: The Dreaded Potluck

I had a potluck meeting at work today. I've never liked potlucks, because I never know what to bring. This was my first potluck that I had to go to since I went vegan. Not a problem, right? It took me awhile to figure out what I was going to make--who am I kidding. It took me a long time. And then I remembered that I bought some mixes this week at the grocery store. I had a hummus mix--just add water and stir. Easy. I had pita breads which I thawed out last night (I end up freezing them because otherwise they go stale before I can finish them. So, this morning, I mixed up the hummus this morning and cut up the pitas and then got the kids out the door to school. hummus-plate (my hummus did not look this good)

You won't believe what happened next, because I can hardly believe it happened! I locked myself out of my house. I had my keys, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't get in my house when I came home. My purse almost always hangs on the back of my door knob when I come home or I cannot find it the next morning when I leave for work. Well, this morning, for some reason, my purse held the door locked. So there I was with my keys in one hand and my phone in the other, calling my husband in a panic. Of course, he was on site with a client and couldn't help me and by the end of it, I was almost in tears (hey, I was stressed!). I was supposed to be picking up my friend too, and she left me a message while I was ranting at hubby and I couldn't return her call because her phone number was in my house phone and not in my cellular phone. My husband assured me that my day couldn't get any worse, and for the most part, he was right.

When I finally did get to work, (since I had my keys after all, even if I didn't have my purse or license or anything else), my vegan co-worker asked me what I ended up bringing. I told her my whole woeful story and ended up with, "Oh, and to answer your question, I made a lovely hummus dip with pita bread that is currently sitting on my stove at home." So the moral of the story. Please, don't ask me to make something for a potluck because things just aren't going to end well. Not that this has a bad ending--after all, I have some hummus and pita and I'll have some veggies and there's my dinner. Yay!

In other news, the book I've had on request since before I went vegan finally came in to the library! Now if I can find time to read it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vegan MoFo: Smoothies!

Sorry you haven't heard from me for a few days. November has been a crazy month so far and I have found that I don't seem to have enough hours in my days. That being said, I am putting my novel on the back burner because I realized I was stressing myself out about something that was supposed to be fun. I'll still write it, just not right at this moment in time.

berry smoothie

Instead, I'll keep writing about vegan food. Because it's fun and tasty! Last week, I found myself having a smoothie every morning for breakfast. Usually a smoothie is my once or twice a week breakfast on days when I don't have time to eat at home or when I need something that will fill me up longer than cereal.

There is probably something you should know about me. I don't follow recipes often (unless it is baking!). I tend to take what I have on hand, throw it together and make something hopefully tasty. I'm not sure if this is because I am part Italian (no one in my dad's family uses recipes!) or because I am lazy.

With my smoothies, I generally use what fruit I have on hand. I find it is a helpful way to use up the bananas that the kids haven't eaten before they go completely off. So, I put my bulky blender together (I'm hoping for a Magic Bullet or some other fancy contraption for Christmas!), toss in a banana, cut up an apple (peel on), a few frozen strawberries and then pour in which ever non-dairy milk I have on hand. I've been trying a few different types and brands. So far, I think I like almond milk the best.

I also get creative, so I have made a pina colada type of smoothie: pineapple, banana, coconut and milk. I also made it once using coconut milk, but I suspect this is what gave me an allergic reaction.

Chocolate flavoured milks are also fun and I have been known to throw some carob chips in too. My youngest daughter can't get her head around the fact that Mama has to chew her drink, but I like my smoothies nice and chunky (and yes, I know that is basically an oxymoron).

I know I could and probably should make my smoothies more healthy by adding all sorts of green stuff to them, but this works for me right now. I've cut back on my smoothies this week, but talking about it makes me want one now.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Vegan MoFo Sweet Potatoes and Apples--Yum!

I've discovered a new love for sweet potatoes with a lot of help from Sassy at If you have this food and you just don't know what to do with it, you need to check out her Web site. There are sections where you can choose a food such as sweet potato and find different ways of cooking it and foods to match with it. It's so handy! I discovered that I really like sauteed sweet potatoes with apples and brown sugar. I throw a few raisins in my part of the dish as well (no one else here likes raisins). If I can get the picture off of my phone, I'll show you how yummy it looks, but it won't do it justice!

That was a big part of my dinner tonight and I paired it with a romaine lettuce salad, just a basic one. I'm still figuring out what makes a complete vegan meal and what will fill me up for the night.

I have a little celebration to share as well. I know I'm losing some weight because my pants are becoming so loose, but it's always nice to hear from someone else. My husband put his hand on my hip yesterday and looked at me and said, "That's your bone!" I gave him a look that clearly said, "Duh! What else would it be?" He said, "I didn't use to feel your bone here, you're losing weight!" Very nice to hear. I need all the encouragement I can get.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vegan MoFo -- Leftovers

Pasta al pomodoro photo by 10 rosso via

As someone who is organizationally challenged, being able to spend time cooking is a rare treat--and so is having everything I need for a recipe on hand! I'm still adding to the ingredients I have on hand slowly.

One thing that has been helpful is that the vegan recipes I have used to make new meals are generally family sized recipes. I'm the only vegan in the house. Hubby will eat vegan food if it is made, but the kids generally won't try it once they hear the word vegan. This means that I usually have lots of left overs. Such was the case today.

Lunch was leftover vegetable stew from last night's dinner and supper was pasta with left over sauce. The great thing about leftovers is that they usually taste even better the second day!

Pasta sauce is something I generally make from scratch. We were gifted a whole box of jarred tomato sauce this fall, so we are making the most of it. I start with a bit of garlic heated in vegetable oil (I use an oil that is part Canola, part olive), then add the tomatoes. I add vegetables that I have on hand. This batch had eggplant and mushrooms. Spices usually include oregano, pepper, and parsley. And a trick I learned from my aunt--put a carrot in the sauce while it is cooking to take out the acidic taste. Do not eat this carrot as it absorbs the acid flavour. By doing this, you avoid having to put sugar in your tomato sauce. I let it all simmer together for awhile, then make the pasta.

What I especially like about left overs is that there is the opportunity to freeze portions individually for use later. This becomes my "fast food" option. On those nights when I don't have the time or desire to cook, I can thaw out a meal, add a salad and I'm good to go without having to try to find something quick and easy. This way I'm not stuck having something unhealthy just because I'm hungry and it's quick.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan MoFo--Vegan Month of Food!

After tossing some ideas around for the last couple of days, I signed up for nanowrimo--National Novel Writing Month today. It starts tomorrow. 50,000 words in 30 days. I actually have a story plot in my head and I think I could go somewhere with this one, so we shall see. Hopefully it will get me better trained to be writing everyday.

Well, today I saw some posts on Twitter for VeganMoFo and had to look it up. It's Vegan Month of Food and it was started by some vegans who were also doing Nano from what I can see. Anyway, I figured, you know, since I'm already going to be writing 50,000 words, what is a blog post or 20 about vegan food? Yeah, I know. I'm really just crazy. I signed up for VeganMoFo too.

So, what can you expect from me this month? Hopefully a daily post about vegan food. It will probably just be about what I've made each day. I'm still fairly new to vegan eating, so I'll share my recipe sources with you and hopefully you'll enjoy what I've found.

We'll start with this weekend. Friday, I made a great vegan banana bread. I used a recipe called Mel's Vegan Banana Bread from It turned out really well. I usually find that banana breads come out pretty dry, but this one was nice and moist and my kids loved it. They had no idea it was vegan.

Today I made a vegetable stew. I used some mixed canned beans, a can of mushrooms and a can of sliced water chestnuts (the whole ones are too big), some vegetable stock, lots of water, half an eggplant, some potatoes, a sweet potato, a couple of carrots, and I think that was about it. Basically, I used all the veggies I had on hand and threw in some spices--garlic salt, some pepper, some parsley. Pretty standard stuff. Then I made some vegan dumplings. I found a recipe on a blog and it worked out really well! The recipe is Vegan Dumplings for Stew. My youngest wouldn't eat them (she is leery of new foods), but my oldest did and asked me what was in them. If you could have seen her face when she heard I used soy milk! "I can't believe I ate soy and liked it!"

Then this evening, I made some carob chip cookies using a recipe from again. Happy Vegan Cookies were pretty easy to make. I liked that the recipe said to use as much carob or chocolate chips as you wanted too. The cookies did not spread out like traditional chocolate chip cookies and they taste a little strongly of the brown sugar (I didn't have any raw sugar, so I used what was on hand). And, let's face it, carob is not chocolate, but they are still pretty tasty. I might even make them again.

So, that was my weekend in vegan food. I've got two big pumpkins I'm looking forward to cooking up and making into pumpkin bread this week!