Monday, January 31, 2011

Yeee Haawww! It tastes (and looks) like chicken!!

I'm so excited about this recipe I could scream!!! Actually, I think I did ;)

I decided sometime last week that I wanted to make my own seitan, I just needed to get some Vital Wheat Gluten Flour. Picked some up at Whole Foods, and scoured the internet for some recipes. I had seen one at ThePPK, but I kept poking and poking. Finally found one that I wanted to try here. I used her Chicken-style Seitan recipe and used this for frying and gravy.

I LOVE and I mean LOVE a good Country Fried Steak (this MUST be said with a strong Southern Drawl). Could there be anything worse out there to eat? Prolly not. Making the seitan cutlets was definitely a new experience for me. It was so stretchy and bouncy (no, I didn't bounce it off the floors or the walls, but it had that flubber-type texture) and well, just weird. I managed to get it into a shape that resembled a tenderized piece of chicken boob.

I used Panko bread crumbs for coating and frying. Turned out SUPER crispy, just the way I like it. I followed the gravy exactly as written EXCEPT, I used 1 C of soy milk and 1/2 C of the seitan broth. The broth added a TON of flavor. Next time I'll add a bunch of pepper as it could have been a little more spicy and the kids used ketchup.

See that? I even needed to use a steak knife!!! The consistency was SPOT ON!! Oh! And the mashed potatoes were Whole Foods brand instant and I used vanilla soy milk, not a single person complained or could tell the difference (not even Kid 2, the mashed potato connoisseur)!   

How about that? Do you see that? Only 1 halfsies, given by Kid 1. Everyone else really enjoyed it. Kid 4 had seconds of the "meat". I'm so happy to have found a really bad for you good recipe :D I love really bad food! And now that it's healthy, well, I'm in!!

I didn't forget.

I just really didn't do any cooking this weekend. Remember I said we were going to some local yocal vegan eatery? That didn't happen. We ended up in the complete other direction and went to Stir Crazy, instead. YUMMY!

We started with tofu lettuce wraps and boy oh boy were they tasty!! 

We decided to go with the Market Bar. You get a bowl and fill it (in my case, overflow it) with tons of fresh veggies. I put in everything they had with the exception of onions and hot peppers. I did, however, use the hottest sauce ;). Added tofu and brown rice and my meal was born. The Dad got the same, but he added hot peppers. It was soooo good! I will definitely go back. I had so much left over that I had it for dinner last night and lunch today. Wow. 

Tonight's meal is going to be interesting. I've had a slight craving for really greasy really bad for you Southern food. Time to Veganize!! 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Good Morning! Oh, wait. . .

It's breakfast for DINNER, duh! The sun is totally gone now, although it was shining for the first time in I don't know how long today.

Prior to going V, we were HUGE fans of breakfast for dinner and it's been probably 2 months since we've done it. It was a super way to go on Meatless Mondays. Everyone was happy.

I didn't really want to put in all the work that I have been for all these meals tonight, so breakie it was. I made these pancakes and used banana for the egg sub. YUM! They were delicious!!! They were more dense than say, Bisquick or Aunt Jemima and they took a bit longer to cook than their traditional counterpart. I made a triple batch because The Kids are spending the night at Nanny Noodle's (my mother) house tomorrow and she's willing to go along for the ride when we are around :D. I also cooked up some "sausage patties" (I froze the 3/4 of the package that was left from Vegan Pizza night).

Tonight I had a "helper". Kid 4 wanted to craft while sitting on the counter. Far away from the stove, I promise. Kid 4 created a doll and a mistletoe type thing for me. So fun, so cute!

Kid 4 crafting away and trying the snausage. Loved it. Please take note of my poor poor Keurig directly behind Kid 4. Poor thing is only making hot water these days for herbal teas. It knows it's way overqualified for this position, but it doesn't complain. To the left of Kid 4 is the sad looking bag of Casi Cielo that is longing to be at least picked up and inhaled. Did I tell you I tried coffee again? Still nothing. Nada. 

The finished product. The pancakes were a huge hit! There were no left overs. I should mention that The Dad and myself ate soup. I had the Butternut Squash soup that I froze the other day (which BTW, Kid 4 ADORES!!!) and The Dad had Pacific brand Black Bean. Kids 1, 3, and 4 all loved the snausage. Kid 2 wasn't impressed but ate 1 piece anyway. Kids 1 & 3 went back for seconds on the snausage and everyone went back for THIRDS on the pancakes. 

Okay, so it wasn't the most nutritious meal in the world, but it certainly wasn't the worse. Time for a little family movie night with popcorn and nutritional yeast, baybay!!! 

Oh!!! I won't be cooking tomorrow night as it's birthday date night for The Dad and I. Guess where we are going? A vegan restraunt!  Sistah's Vegan Restaurant, which is fairly close to home! So excited! My first external vegan experience!! I'll tell you all about it tomorrow! 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Like Pie.

Do you have kids? Do they constantly say to you "I like pie."? So nonchalant-like and repeat over and over and over and over and over? Sigh. Mine do. Mainly Kids 1 & 2. I don't get it. Is it some fad saying? Is it from a tv show? Not having cable, we are out of the loop on a ton of stuff.

I really do like pie. My favorite dessert pie is my Auntie Athletic's famous blueberry pie. Honestly, I could eat a whole one in just one tiny sitting. It's amazing. I've never been one to make pies often, however. I've dabbled, though. I've made apple, pumpkin, chocolate, and pecan (mine totally rocked, BTW). Do you remember yesterday when I said

"Naw, I really don't wanna roll out any dough today (or any day for that matter.)"  

HA! Guess what I did today, folks? I made my very first from scratch pie crust. A vodka pie crust, none-the-less. Doesn't that sound so fancy schmancy? I used this recipe and shockingly, I didn't change a thing. 

I wasn't interested in making a sweet pie. I wanted dinner pie. Comfort food on this snowy chilly day. Vegetable Pot Pie, true to form, I switched this one up a bit. I used sweet potatoes instead of white, and for the rest of the veggies I used: green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, carrots, and parsnips. This thing is huge! The directions for the sauce on the recipe are pretty vague, I used fresh rosemary & thyme, sage, teeny pinch of dill, marjoram, and pepper.  I completely omitted the cheese as I thought that was just odd. . . 

I stir fried the veggies first.

Mmm. Green beans & broc.

Bottom pie crust in place & ready to rock.

Sauce is added. 

Top crust is sportin' some polkas!!

Post baking. I got the impression from the crust recipe that I should handle very delicately. The crust did not burn and since I have a crap camera, you can't really tell that the darker areas are more like speckles. It was either Earth Balance or shortening that didn't get blended completely. At least that's my guess. Flaky? Heck Yes!! Delish? You betcha!

On my plate with fork placed "just so" by Kid 4.

I'm shocked at this vote. Truly shocked. Only 1 thumbs down? Really? That is Kid 3, by the way. Kids 1, 2, & 4 all voted halfsies. Huh. You wouldn't have figured that by the looks of their plates an hour later. Kids 1 & 2 struggled TERRIBLY with this meal. Kid 4 requested it for lunch tomorrow. Maybe the fact that I was reading them familiar names from this list is what got them through the last 20 minutes. Is your favorite celebrity on that list? Check it out, you might be surprised! 

How did Mama & The Dad like the meal? It was great! The Dad was pleasantly surprised as I had no idea he was expecting it to taste like slop. He loved it. A lot. I loved it, as well. It needed just a little somethin' extra. I couldn't place it, The Dad handed me the pepper and BINGO! Perfection, folks. I think the kids will come around on this one, eventually, so it's a keeper. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A dear friend of mine introduced me to Brian Andreas, artist & storyteller. I subscribe to Mr. Andreas' "Story of the Day" and, as usual, today's made me smile.


This is a bag filled with dreams & recipes for soup & he's deciding right now which he's really hungry for.

-Brian Andreas

I had my own non-soup-filled decisions to make (remember, soup was yesterday). What to make for dinner? Today is The Dad's birthday. The big 4 0 !!! Wow. So it had to be something great and I really didn't want anyone whining about dinner. Hmmm. This is kinda how it played out in my noggin.

"Italian Rice and Beans from 'Vegan Yum Yum' by Lauren Ulm? Kids will probably turn up their noses." Flipping through the pages. . .  "Corn Fritters from the same book? Ugh. What to make with it?"

Picking up Old Faithful (Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook). . "Kale & White Bean Soup? DUH, Mama! Soup was yesterday and much too good for children. Veggie Calzones sound good! Eh, not fancy enough for 40." Still flippin' through UEC (Ultimate Everyday Cookbook). . . "Butternut Squash Ravioli? Naw, I really don't wanna roll out any dough today (or any day for that matter.). Ooooh! Wait! Eggless Brown Fried Rive with Garlic Infusion! Bingo!"

"I remember seeing the perfect pairing in Vegan Yum Yum!" Picking it back up. "Yes! Broccoli Almond Sweet-and-Sour Tofu! Kids love sweet and sour, we'll give it a whirl!!!

As expected, I made some subs. First lets talk about the rice. I only had one tub of extra firm tofu in the fridge, so I omitted it from the rice. I subbed carrots and asparagus for the snow peas, and I just used a splash of tamari as I didn't have Teriyaki. 

As for the Sweet & Sour Tofu, I didn't use almonds as I didn't have any raw and thought roasted would be nasty in there. I also subbed apple cider vinegar for the rice I was supposed to use. No molasses in the house and I kinda really thought Agave nectar would suffice. Giggle. It wasn't bad. The consistency was perfect, it was just a little more sour than sweet. I also pressed the tofu for most of the day as I wanted a really solid tofu since I haven't gotten the knack of home cooked tofu. I was totally and completely 100% thrilled with the tofu. Amazing. 

Both dishes were delicious. I was very happy. The kids did not enjoy the sauce, as I expected, so I didn't give them much. Which meant it was rather bland for them. Kids 3 & 4 ate everything. Kid 3 wasn't too sold on the rice but ate it anyway. Kids 1 & 2. Sigh. Kids 1 & 2 did not enjoy the meal at all. Both ate tons of broccoli and some rice. Kid 2 was in a funk all afternoon, so I was fully aware that plate would be left full. Ahhh sweet 10 year old stubbornness (didn't even sing happy birthday. Party pooper). Kid 2 gets that from Mama. *gasp* I did not just say that! 

No thumb picture this evening, but I'll tell you how everyone WANTED to vote. Mama & The Dad, two thumbs up LOL. Kids 1 & 2 thumbs down. Kids 3 & 4 halfsies. Good news? Kid 3 wanted seconds on the tofu!!

Not very flavorful on it's own, but dipped in Ener-G and then cornstarch and fried (I used grapeseed oil), the tofu was reminiscent of fried dough. I think I'll make it that way for other recipes in the future. The texture was delightful. 

Dessert? Heck yeah there is dessert on The Dad's birthday! His favorite cake is pineapple upside down cake and I've made it for him for the past 3 years or so. The challenge? Veganise this baby.

I used this recipe, but I baked it in my Dutch oven as I did last year. Using the Dutch oven makes it sooo easy to get out as I line it with tinfoil, just add about 15 minutes to the cooking time. I used pineapple rings as opposed to the chunks and melted about 2tbs Earth Balance in the bottom before adding the fruit and batter. It had tons of flavor!!! Very very good, it was just really dense. Not sure how to alleviate that issue. Is that where the white vinegar in some vegan baked goods come into play? Gonna have to look that up. 

I'm already thinking about dinner tomorrow night. :D Don't forget to eat your veggies. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Na-Cho Mama's Dinner!

Today was a rather soupy day. I was in the kitchen all morning making these gems:

Mmmmm Butternut Squash Soup With Poppy Seeds (sans poppy seeds) from 'Skinny Bitch The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook'

Sooo delish!!! Creamy Broccoli-White Bean Soup from Whole Living. The only subs I made here was I made my own non-chicken chicken stock, no parm, and no pine nuts. 

I made full batches of both of these soups and The Dad and I only tested them. The rest, I've frozen into individual portions to make lunch easy for the two of us. The kids still aren't really sold on soup. Soon they will realize what the heck they have been missing.

As for tonight's meal, I'm going to show you thumbs first. Yeah, goin' against the grain a bit here, folks. 

Oh my stars!!! Do you see that? No, sillies! Not the mutant thumb maneuver at 9 o'clock! All six thumbs are in the "thumbs-up" formation!! Yeah! That's right!!! Kid 4 even knowingly ate a black bean and made a rather formal announcement to the table "The beans are good!" And ate almost all of the beans that were on said child's plate!! Kid 3 in turn, tried them and said "They are too sweet." MmmmHmmm. Nice try. My kids HATE beans. Or at least they think they hate beans as they've NEVER and I mean NEVER given them a fair shake. So, what the heck did we eat? 

That, my loyal readers, is Vegan Gal's Nacho Bake. Due to my concern with the whole bean thang, I also "browned" 12oz of Smart Ground. The Dad and myself love a little spice, so after all was said and done, we added jalapeños and hot sauce. Yowzer!!! It was great! 

Kid 4 has been "setting" the table as of late, you know, bringing everyone's plate to them, handing out the cups, and placing the utensils just "so". Please take note of how delicately my fork is placed on my plate. Kid 4 did this for everyone. So fun. 

Phew. Another meal, another winner. Now, what the heck do I make tomorrow?????

Monday, January 24, 2011

Folks, we have a wiener!!!

Prior to becoming the Big V, the kids favorite meal was spaghetti and meat-a-balls. It was a once a weeker type of meal. I was hesitant to try it the vegan way as I really don't think I could've handled disappointment in their BFF meal. Kid 3 is the only oddball with this meal. No sauce. Nada. Nekkid. With the exception of buttah, Kid 3 ate it plain with a meat-a-ball (or 2) on the side.

Onto this evening. Please remember that we are still in the experimentation phase and we are trying desperately to find basic staples. I met a wonderful woman at Whole Foods about a week or so ago and she was kind enough to not only A: give me a heads up on a nasty vegan parm cheese, B: tell me she bakes (and sells) vegan cupcakes (this makes Mama oh so very happy), C: give me her cell # so she can share some of her fave recipes, but also tell me her favorite vegan meat-a-balls. Nate's Classic Flavor Meatless Meatballs.

These meatballs were amazing! I loved them better than the homemade beef we've grown accustomed to. Really. They look like the real thing, smell like the real thing, and are kinda crispy like pan fried meat-a-balls (without all that nasty fat). The texture was perfection!!! They bake in the oven for 10 minutes!!! Seriously! No digging your hands into that nasty mixture of meat, egg, and breadcrumbs (that was always my most despised part). Honestly, that's a 10 minute meal. It takes the pasta 10 minutes to cook and the sauce just under 10. We use Newman's Organic Marinara Sauce, YUMMY!!! We were also lucky enough to find it on clearance at Target of all places for $1.89 so back in November, so we have TONS LOL.

I also made a pretty amazing salad. All the kids love salad (well, Kid 4 doesn't looooove it as much as the others). I chopped up Romaine, kale, carrots, cukes, cauliflower, and tossed in some sunflower seeds.

The verdict is out. We have a winner! Almost a unanimous vote, as well. Kid 1 went back for seconds on everything (Kid 1 is the biggest meat-a-ball connoisseur I know). Kid 2 didn't LURVE the meat-a-balls, but ate them anyway. Kid 3 was a member of the clean plater club. Kid 4 ate all but some salad. 

Look at that! All but one thumbs up!!! The halfsies is Kid 2. Yeeeehaaaawww!!! 

I did make some more zucchini banana bread this afternoon. Well, I made them into mini muffins (easier to pack in lunch boxes). I made some alterations per a comment on the actual recipe. I used applesauce instead of oil, added 2 tbs Flax meal, cut the sugar down to 1/2 C, and subbed 1/2 C of whole wheat flour for unbleached all-purpose. Can't tell the difference AT ALL. Soooo yummy!! 

Other Meals

We've talked a lot about dinners, but what are we eating for breakfast, lunch, and snacks? Last weekend I made some delightful pancakes, yet again from Skinny Bitch 'The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook' the Maple and Apple Cinnamon Pancakes. They were DELICIOUS!!! On school days, however, we rely on oatmeal, fresh fruit, soy yogurt, and smoothies (which I lace with Flax meal, shhhh, they have no clue). We need to find some dry cereal that everyone can agree on.

School lunches are a little more challenging as we used to do turkey sandwiches, yogurt, applesauce, and crackers. Kids 3 & 4 have discovered  a true love for Almond Butter and Organic Jam sandwiches. Kid 1 adores sliced vegan cheese (vegan gourmet) on bread. Kid 2 is giving me a run for my creative money, however. Maybe this week I'll toss in a SmartDog. So along with their sandwiches, I've been putting in tons of carrot sticks (went through a 5lb bag in 4 days), organic applesauce, some grapes or other fresh fruit, and tortilla chips. I wish I could find a soy yogurt that comes in smaller packaging than the typical cup. Kid 1 tried the SmartDeli Roasted Turkey and was not impressed. Kid 4 loves the mac & teese from the other night and that was lunch today along with a banana and grapes.

I've also made some amazing breads/muffins that I've managed to keep on hand. The Banana Zucchini Bread seems to be everyone's favorite and I really should make some today as the last of it was inhaled yesterday. I've made 3 batches of it thus far and majority prefers them in muffin form. I also made Blueberry Crumb muffins, which were amazing!!! I altered it slightly by only using 1/2 C sugar, making it into a coffee cake, and again adding flax meal.

The Dad and I rely solely on leftovers, which work wonderfully. Right now I'm munching on last nights dinner, even better warmed up. The Dad made himself a wacky burrito consisting of coconut rice, the barley & beans, & salsa. Aside from a date lunch on the 14th, we haven't eaten out since January 2. We are definitely getting the most out of our groceries and our meals.

Weekend lunches are easier since we can do leftovers from the week, but a lot of times the kids graze all day. Lots of cutup fruit and veggies round these parts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Soba Noodle Stir Fry

So, of course I had TONS of veggies left over from Vegan Pizza Night since the kids didn't use much. What to do, what to do? I had some soba noodles and have been dying to try them, so what better way to utilize everything than a grand stir-fry. I based it on this recipe, but completely disregarded the veggies and threw in what I had along with 2 portobello mushrooms.  I also added some chicken seitan for added nutrition ;).

The texture of the chicken seitan was delightful! Had I "browned" it on it's own, it would have been perfect. I didn't add the cayenne, so the flavor was extremely mild.

The noodles shocked me. I hate wheat noodles, I know, I know. . . But, really I despise them. The flavor is too much or not enough. Hmmm Sadly, when I was about 10, a friend of the family ruined me for whole wheat anything. She made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast one morning and I just couldn't handle it. Guess it's time to get the heck over that, eh? The soba were different, though. I suppose it's the buckwheat in there. I LOVED them!! I could eat them plain ;). The Dad loved the noodles, too. For the most part, the kids really liked the noodles.

Kid 1 isn't feeling well, so not much was consumed, gave a halfsies. Kid 2 loved the noodles and the broccoli, gave a halfsies. Kid 3, here is a great surprise, hated it (in my best Men on Film sing songy voice), and therefore gave the only thumbs down. Kid 4 loved the noodles and the broccoli, as well, another halfsies. Mama and The Dad both gave thumbs up. My thumb looks really odd in this picture. Kinda like a little piglet. Weird. Mine is the one in the back on the right.

Tomorrow we're going to go with an old standby veganized. . .

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Vegan Pizza Night!!!

Technically, Vegan Pizza Day is next Saturday, which also happens to be my birthday. We decided to give it a go tonight, however. Here are the toppings in all their glory. Forgot to photograph the tomato, Daiya Mozzarella shred,  & giardinera, oops.

I used this dough recipe and it came out perfect! It was just enough for 6 personal pizzas!! The Dad was at the doctor with Kid 1 & Kid 2 so Kids 3 & 4 and myself ate without them. 

Kid 3 is the one on the right. You can't really see it, but she made a smiley face out of green pepper and black olives. Kid 4 went for cheese only.

Post bake.

Mine. Yum!!! The only item I didn't add was the tomato. I didn't put a whole lotta cheese on there, either. But, I did add some nutritional yeast for good measure. 

Mama's post bake. Soooo, the cheese was kinda funky. The flavor was spot on, but the texture was interesting. It melted as it was supposed to but it was maybe a little too gooey? I'm glad I didn't put a ton on. And, I was really impressed with the sausage! I crumbled and browned it before putting it on my raw pizza. The flavor was mild but it very reminiscent of real sausage. The texture was just ever so slightly less than perfect, not really mushy, but not really firm like real sausage.

Finally The Dad and Kids 1 & 2 return and it's time for them to create.

Kid 1, cheese and green pepper. Kid 2, sauce and a hint of cheese. Booooorrriiiinngggg! 

Post bake Kid 1, Kid 2. 

The Dad's. He got all fancy pants and added fresh pineapple. Yum. 

And, finally, Mr. Fancypants post bake. 

This was great!!! Do you see that? Up there? The thumb picture? Yeah baby!! Only 1 thumb down! And, no, it wasn't Kid 3!!! It was Kid 1, but Kid 1 is sick (strep) and can't swallow a gersh dern thang. Kid 1 claimed the cheese was pasty. Then stormed off and said (or rather whispered due to the sick factor and can't really talk) "I hate being vegan!" Everyone else, however scarfed it all down. Granted, this wasn't the healthiest meal as there really was no real nutritional value, but they are coming around. 

Oh! And, desert was SO Delicious Coconut Almond Coconut Milk frozen bars & Tofutti Cuties. Both of these are AWESOME!!! 

I would really love some input if there is anyone out there reading. Would it be horrid to let each child bring back one non-vegan item into their lives? I'm thinking it might help them adjust easier and make them feel apart of this radical (for us) change. 

Mac & Teese, SmartDog, & Barley & Red Bean Bowl

I figured I'd give the kids a true "kids" meal tonight. I heard great stuff about a local (WooHoo) company called Chicago Soy Dairy  and I had picked up some of their Cheddar cheese sauce at my Whole Foods last week. It had super cute  packaging, too! Personally, I was a little leery of a vegan cheese especially mac & cheese. I'm a huge texture kinda gal, even if the taste is "on", if the texture is off it's a no-go in my book. It was super easy to put together, just make your mac, drain,  add the sauce, and heat. It definitely was not like the regular box mac & cheese we all know and love, but it sure was a superb substitute. It was great. Of the three kids that were home for dinner (wee small potato was at a friends house) Kid 1 thought it was ok (ate it all), Kid 2 loved it and had seconds (which is surprising because this kid is NOT please about becoming vegan and has stuck his tongue out on most meals), Kid 3 hated it (not sure if that is stubbornness or sheer hatred for the cheesy goodness), and The Dad thought it was good.

Hot Dogs. For the past 8 or so months, the kids (all but Kid 3, of course) have really loved these hot dogs and I would only eat Portillo's (I know, I know. . . ), so I knew finding an acceptable vegan dog would be one huge feat. Last week we tried TofuPups. Personally, the smell of the, I'm assuming, liquid smoke makes me gag. And this is where the texture issue comes into play for me. I didn't like the TofuPups at all. I wrapped them in a cornbread type dough for pigs in a blanket. The only Kid that liked them was Kid 3. Go figure. . . So with tonights meal, I made SmartDogs just straight up no frills. Kid 1 (aka the Hot Dog Machine) did not like them, Kid 2 ate what Kid 1 didn't and loved every minute of it, and Kid 3 did not like them one bit.

I also served broccoli and all 3, as always, loved their broc. Kid 3 to try to make up for hating the rest of the meal, ate about 2 cups of broc lol.

The Barley & Red Bean Bowl again came from, Skinny Bitch 'The Ultimate Everyday Cookbook'. I don't ever remember having barley and was thoroughly impressed!!! YUM!!! It's very similar to a small pasta such as orzo or even rice. This dish was devine! The flavors just popped and the texture was perfection. This is definitely going to be a staple. I didn't give it to the kids as I wanted them to enjoy their "kids" meal to the fullest. In hindsight, I think maybe Kid 3 may have liked it.

Kid 3 gave thumbs down, Kid 1 gave it a halfsies, and Kid 2 a thumbs up. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Curried Chickpea Cakes, Phyllo wrapped asparagus, and roasted veggies

Looks rather bland, doesn't it? Left to right in a clockwise manner, roasted Brussels Sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and asparagus, Phyllo wrapped asparagus ~ scroll down to comment 4 for updated recipe, and Curried Chickpea Cakes from Skinny Bitch 'Ultimate Everyday Cookbook'. 

In my opinion, you can never and I mean NEVER go wrong with roasted vegetables. The Phyllo was a big hassle to work with, but the end result was delish!! The chickpea cakes were amazing! I think they could've used maybe a peanut sauce to compliment and add a little interest to the presentation. I only added 1/2 the suggested curry as I don't like it, but next time I'll go for gold. 

Reactions? The Dad and I loved it all. All 4 offspring enjoyed the chickpea cakes AND asparagus. The roasted veggies were another story. Most of them ate what was on their plates and there wasn't too much arguing over the meal in general. The children, DID, however use ketchup and mustard for the chickpea ;) Whatever gets it into them . . . 

We've got 2 thumbs down (from the middle children), 3 thumbs up (the parents and eldest child), and a halfsies thumb from the wee small one. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I adapted this from Whole Living. Who knew that we ALL would love a rutabaga?

To make vegan, I simply subbed the beef for Seitan cubes and the Chicken stock for vegetable broth. I added a small sweet potatoe, a few Brussels sprouts, a portobello mushroom, and a single minced clove of garlic. I also kicked the leek to the curb, just not ready to try that yet.  Both The Dad and myself despise onions. For the first time in at least 6 years, I purchased one 2 weeks ago. I'm now okay to cook with it ;) Must be cooked down to nuthin' though. I used my Dutch Oven, as I adore anything cooked in that thing! It's sheer comfort food for me. And, nothing beats a one-pot meal!!!

Could have gone over better, but, everyone ate everything in their bowls. The Dad and myself loved it and I can't wait to have it for lunch tomorrow!!

Please excuse the photo quality, our loverly camera has officially croaked. Photo taken with a Kodak z16 video camera.

This is us, and we are VEGANS. RAWR!

Here we are. Our little family of 6, Mama, The Dad, Kid 1, Kid 2, Kid 3, and Kid 4 (although, she will forever be BabyBean.) Here we are goin’ Vegan. Wow! Whoda thunk it?

Our story is probably a lot like most. I would like to state that, although we have a great love for animals, that has nothing to do with our decision to become vegan. I always had this supreme misconception that vegetarians/vegans were all huge donators to PETA. Ignorance at its finest. Sure, over the years I’ve seen the videos on factory farming and how poorly the animals we stuff in our faces are treated. I continued to eat meat because I LOVE meat, and we, the human race, are carnivores after all. I love a nice bloody roast beef laden with Béarnaise sauce, a big greasy burger from the dingiest diner, even a hot dog smothered in chili and cheese (wait! Hold the onion, please. Yuck!).

We were the typical American family, too busy or too tired to cook, so we relied on McDonalds about 3 times a week, made something out of a box or can, and spaghetti & meatballs the rest of the week. Then, we watched Supersize Me. At this point we didn't cut McDonalds out completely, but we sure did cut down. I started getting better in the kitchen and cooking more real meals. I grew up with a meat, carb, and veggie at every meal and I strove to do the same for my family.

We've always been crunchy at heart and tried to do right by the earth, using cloth diapers, recycling, using green cleaners, etc. But we were completely ignorant when it came to our food choices. Just because the FDA says it's food, most definitely does not deem it gospel. We then watched Food, Inc. 

WOW! What an eye-opener that was! Right then and there we decided to not only buy organic when possible but also purchase only free-range grass-fed meats, dairy products, and eggs. We also brought the tradition of  Meatless Monday in our home. Of course at this point, May 2010, we cut out all fast food chains entirely. I felt good about our meat and dairy purchases. Not only were we helping the local farmers, we were eating the best quality meat we possibly could. 

Fast forward to Christmas 2010. We, the parents, are no longer comfortable in our larger bodies and decide to go on a strict diet come January 3, 2011. What was the diet you ask? We were on a road trip when I read in my latest issue of Whole Living about this: Whole Living 28 day challenge . So, it wasn’t a diet per se, it was a kick in the ass way to start eating healthier. We were really excited about the mind and body aspect to this challenge, as well. It’s about time we felt happy and satisfied and whole. We had no intention of dragging the kids along as we knew they wouldn’t eat anything we served and we didn’t want the fight. Oh boy the dinner fights ‘round here. 

So, while we, the parents, were eating millet and beans, the kids were happily munching on meatballs, burgers, and hot dogs. For the first week we had to give up EVERYTHING we loved. Dairy, added sugar, wheat/gluten, along with many others, but the one that killed us was CAFFEINE!!!! Are you kidding me? Really? No coffee?? Within the first hour of waking every morning, I’ve drank 2 luscious cups with a splash of creamer and a teaspoon of sugar. But, we did it. For me, the first 3 days were HORRENDOUS!!! I’ve always had a problem with migraines, but these were debilitating. In order for me to be somewhat functioning, I cheated. I had 2 cups of tea that were “naturally low in caffeine”. Yes, I cheated and I’m fine with that. My children’s lives were dependent on me functioning. 

It wasn’t only caffeine for me, though. It was a combination of no bread or sugar as well that sent me over the edge. Withdrawls. I haven’t looked it up, but I’m assuming there is an addiction to wheat/gluten/sugar. It was as though I was quitting smoking all over again. Not fun. But then, it was ok. I started feeling better. Because of the mental stress of giving up all of these things, I was not keeping up with the mind and body aspects of the “diet”. Not to mention how much time I was spending in the kitchen, cutting, dicing, mixing, blending, phew.

On January 11, 2011 it all changed. I watched 1 simple movie (do you sense a trend here?) ‘Change Your Food, Change Your Life’. During the movie, I texted The Dad and asked if he wanted to go vegan. He laughed, as he has mentioned several times over the years how he’d like to go vegetarian and I always said “No.”, no discussion. I like my meat. I was serious and he said “Sure.”. So, here we are and I’m feeling great. On Sunday we were allowed to bring coffee back into our lives and I couldn’t have been more excited! Starbucks Casi Cielo was out early this year (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s the most delicious coffee known to man and it’s only available late January through February) and I ran out on Friday to have it on hand for the big drink on Sunday. On my counter it sat looking at me so longingly and tenderly, waiting. Waiting to be opened and lovingly ground into what would be the single best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. 

Sunday morning came and I shuffled into the kitchen at 7 am, ground up my coffee, placed it in my “My Kcup”, grabbed my favorite cable knit mug, scooped up 3 (has to be exact) ice cubes, splashed my creamer (now soy, of course), poured my sugar, and hit the 6oz button. Oh that smell!! How wonderful! How I’ve missed you so!!! With my mug cupped between my hands, I put my face almost into it and I inhaled deeply. Comfort! Sheer comfort. I sat at the kitchen table and slowly took my first sip. Huh. Not like I remembered. Nothing like I remembered. Another sip. Nothing. Could it be? Have I lost all love for my morning companion? It just didn’t taste the same. No, it wasn’t the creamer, I’ve used plenty of different dairy products in my coffee and still enjoyed it to it’s fullest. This was different. I continued sipping, trying to recreate the old flame. Nothing. I ended up tossing ¼ of it down the drain. The Dad was the same, except he actually got the shakes and jitters from the caffeine. He drinks his black. The addiction was gone and there is now no need for the caffeine. It wasn’t hard, just the first 3 days. I gave it another whirl on Monday morning and again, nada. I was going to try again, but I don’t think I will. Every now and again I’ll have a cup and try to relive our morning memories, but I don’t want that addiction again, so we’ll just be acquaintances from now on. 

The same holds true for bread. I’m a huge lover of bread. All breads, cheesy bread, hearty bread, sourdough bread, white bread, crusty bread, flat bread, naan bread, you name it, I’m a fan. When we were allowed to bring wheat/gluten back into our lives we went to Panera and purchased a loaf of Stone Milled Rye. Again, nothing. What I’m really getting at is, it only took 1 single week for me to completely lose the desire and taste for the things I loved the most in my diet. Come to find out, caffeine may have been my biggest enemy for the past 20 years and I never knew it. Did you know caffeine can actually cause headaches AND depression??? Hmmmm.

Granted, we are only just into week 2 of being vegan, but I feel great about it and I’m excited about it. I’m feeling better emotionally AND physically. The kids? Not so much, but I’ve never seen them TRY so many different foods in just one week as I have this past week.  Soon enough, their taste buds will change, as ours did and they will love it just as much as we do. Our children have watched all of the movies above, as well, and we are very  honest with them about any changes in our lives.