Category Archives: Recipes

Vegetarian vs. Vegan … The Struggle

I’ve really been struggling lately with that area between vegetarianism & veganism … While I’d love to say it’s a gray area that’s hard to navigate, it just isn’t. It’s very black and white. I’m either using/consuming animal products, or I’m not.

While I find eating meat (or killing any animal as food) pretty repulsive, I don’t have the same feelings about animal products (like eggs, and cheese) … I love cheese. It’s amazing … but that’s just it. Cheese, for me, is a craving.

I’ve looked at my diet/food options as a spectrum. I life anywhere between vegetarian & vegan, always trying to stay closer to the top.

I find myself making excuses more than anything else about why I am so attached to dairy … Here are the biggest:

A partner with a different diet: Since day 1, Jimmy has said I’m welcome to be a vegetarian, but he will never be. So, while he does support me, and my own choice in not eating meat, it’s been a constant topic of conversation/contention. He’s also mentioned that there’s no way he could be married to a vegan. I cook most of the meals at home, and we do eat vegan often, but he doesn’t like the idea of the house being all vegan, all the time. This is probably the hardest part …

Raising veggie children: Yes, we are going to raise our children vegetarian. I am super passionate about the topic, and after seeing several friends/family who have done the same, I know it’s more than possible. My fear with converting to being a vegan is that I’m not sure I want to raise a vegan baby … I mean, I would love it, I just wonder if it’s fair (and my inner hippie wants to say that it’s totally fair … as a vegan child learns about respect for food/animals from the beginning).

It’s hard: Even though it is very black & white, being a vegan limits your food options while traveling or eating outside of the home. But, maybe that’s the best part … you’re forced to eat at home more often, which I love to do. There are things like honey, for instance, that don’t immediately alarm the vegan bell for me. I am sure it’s just a learning process, and there would be mistakes along the way … it’s the thought that counts, right?

So, with those excuses, there are many more reasons why I’d consider converting to a vegan diet!!

I know it’s possible: Some of our best friends are vegan. We’ve shared many meals with them that were filling, delicious, tasty, etc., and I never missed the dairy/eggs … not even a little.

It’s healthier: Save all of the, “but you need protein” … I am assuring you, unless you have a medical condition, you can (and do) get enough protein/iron/other vitamins & minerals from a plant based diet. I’ve been struggling with my weight for some time (I’ve gained weight since I quit eating meat), and I think it’s because I eat to satisfy cravings versus hunger. A friend once said, “You’re hungry? If you’re not willing to eat a vegetable or fruit, you’re not hungry, you’re craving!” – So true! I’ve been trying to grab a handful of vegan friendly foods when I’m feeling hungry during the day.

It’s nice: I love animals … I really, really hate the idea that eating cheese is probably the result of a baby cow who was taken from it’s mother so she could be pumped full of hormones to create an abundance of milk. So sad. Don’t even get my started on the state of the egg industry. It’s disgusting. The biggest pull towards veganism for me is the ethical part … I don’t believe another being should suffer just so I can enjoy a cheese pizza. It’s just not right. Being a vegan would settle that inner-conflict I often have.

With all of that said, I know I’ve mentioned several times that it’s super easy to be a vegetarian. BUT, I think sometimes I have to remind myself that I’ve worked really hard to eat a mostly plant based diet. It’s not always easy … it takes conscious thought before  consumption, and really, that’s all I ever hoped for. I care a lot more about where my food comes from, and it’s starting to be more about the process of cooking & enjoying time with people than it is about the actual food. Does that make sense?

For now, I just know that being a vegetarian has worked for me for 5 years, but now I’m itching to do more … and the debate starts all over!

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Vegetarian Breakfast Freezer Burritos

Want to know something kind of ridiculous … We haven’t eaten at home since August 2nd. Yes … like TWO WEEKS! First, we went camping, then we were super busy, then it got too late in the evening to shop, then it was the next weekend … Yesterday, we finally went to the store. Surprisingly, we only spent $68.00!!

On a related note, we’ve been having an issue lately with throwing away too much food. It’s a problem. WAY TOO MUCH! Plus, Jimmy totally gags when he’s emptying out the fridge. Keep in mind, he’s wearing a bandana over his nose, and the Tupperware isn’t even open yet. Makes me laugh every time … this all leads me to what we’re hoping is a solution: our new dry-erase board. Here, we’re writing what’s in the fridge (the drawers aren’t clear, so we forget about the food), and in the veggie basket. I am sure some of these ‘veggies’ are actually ‘fruits’ … don’t correct me! :)

I used some of these yummy ingredients this morning when I made a little stock of freezer burritos.

It was easy-breezy … plus I got to use our cast-iron skillet for the first time.

Ingredients 

  • 2 medium yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/4 large red onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 6 eggs (I should have used 8)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, or a spoon of the prepped
  • 1 cup (or less) shredded cheese
  • 6 burrito size tortillas
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • salt & pepper
  • your favorite hot sauce
  • a handful bunch of cilantro
  • your favorite salsa

Directions

  1. Cook your potatoes & zucchini in pan. Once softening, add the bell pepper & onion. Cook until ingredients are soft and starting to develop some color. Add the garlic, cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add the hot sauce (as much as you’d like) to the veggies, then season with a little salt & pepper.
  3. Remove the veggies from the pan, then cook the eggs (scrambled style). It’s best if you cook the eggs until they’re JUST cooked … when they’re still really moist. It’ll make your burritos extra tasty!
  4. Assemble your burritos by layering the eggs, veggies, hot sauce, cilantro, salsa, and cheese. Wrap the tortillas, then wrap with foil.
  5. I ate one right after, but you can put the others into the freezer to eat later.
  6. To reheat, remove from the foil, then put in the microwave for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes, then let cool.
  7. Enjoy!

Original recipe seen here.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Salad

We’ll chalk this one up to my husband being a wiz in the kitchen. When there’s ‘nothing’ to eat, he somehow comes up with something pretty magical. This soy curl ‘chicken’ salad is right up there!

Ingredients

  • Prepared soy curls
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • pinch of salt
    • pinch of celery salt
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp mayo (or veganaise)
  • 2 tbsp bbq sauce
  • 2 garlic rolls (or any buns)

Directions

  1. Cook soy curls in pan until lightly browned … Toss with seasoning.
  2. Add mayo, bbq sauce, almonds & celery to a medium mixing bowl and toss together.
  3. Fold in soy curls.
  4. Toast buns.
  5. Assemble sandwiches … serve with a pickle if you’re feeling saucy! :)
  6. Enjoy!

Sottish Oat Cakes & Roasted Tomatoes

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you already know I prefer savory over sweet. So, when choosing my ideal breakfast, I’ll often skip the pancakes & muffins and head towards something more like this: scottish oat cakes, eggs & roasted tomatoes.

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The oat cakes a slightly dry, so serving them with perfectly cooked fried eggs & juicy tomatoes rounds out the meal perfectly.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry oats
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • s&p to taste
  • 2 tbs. melted butter
  • 4 tbs. boiling water
  • 2 tbsp shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • about 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 eggs

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Directions

For the oat cakes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then bring your water to boil on the stove top.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, add the water & melted butter and stir together until the mixture is combined.
  3. Scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet and spread until it’s about 1/4 of an inch thick.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown
  5. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with honey
For the tomatoes:
  1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add tomatoes, sprinkle with s&p, cook until tomatoes are bursting.
  3. After removing the tomatoes from the pan, cook your eggs for about 5 minutes or until whites are cooked through & yolk is still runny.
  4. Serve with oat cakes … Even better when mixed all together!
  5. Enjoy!

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Adapted from This Paper Ship

What Are Soy Curls?

Entering the world of vegetarianism/veganism can be a little daunting (there are so many foods that appear to be vegetarian/vegan, but aren’t, and it takes a lot of time to figure it all out). With that said, us veggies have it pretty easy these days. Even neighborhood groceries have started stocking their shelves with plenty of veggie friendly goodness.

Our favorite find since moving to Portland has been Soy Curls. People are constantly asking us about them, so we thought it’d be worth sharing.

Unlike most meat alternatives, Soy Curls aren’t made from the derived protein, they’re made from the whole soy bean. They’re a whole food … made from cooking & texturing the beans before drying. They are organic & preservative free. Win. Win. Win. Win.

When you buy them (we get them in the bulk bin section of our local food co-op), they’re dried up. They sort of look like chicken jerky. Then, you soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes until they’re rehydrated. Then, you can marinate/season/cook just like you’d prepare chicken or any other meat.

Here they are after being rehydrated. Looks like chicken.

We typically pan fry them with BBQ sauce, taco seasoning or just s&p. Today, we cooked them up with some onions. They turn out crispy & soooo good. It seriously tastes and feels JUST like chicken. I’m not lying, and yes, even though it’s been 4 years since I’ve eaten real meat, I still remember!

And for you assholes who ask, “Why would you be a vegetarian if you’re going to eat things that seem like meat?” … I didn’t stop eating meat because it tasted bad. So ssssuuucccckkkk it! I miss some of the tasty meals I grew up on, so this is a way to add a little more variety to our diets … all while not killing animals! :)

Thanks to Amy for introducing us … to Native Bowl (a food cart in Portland) for cooking up the first ones we ate … and to Butler Foods for making such a great product!

I should mention that they’re a bit hard to find, but the Butler Foods site has a Soy Curls locater … and I believe they ship them as well!

Vegan Chocolate Shake

Last night, we had a little sweet tooth that needed to be satisfied. We made these amazingly simple vegan chocolate shakes & they were gone in about 2 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 4 frozen bananas (peel & slice them before freezing)
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp un-sweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (or PB2 mixed with a little water)
  • 2 tbsp protein powder (we use the vegan hemp protein from Trader Joes … it’s really tasty) – This is completely optional by the way: we hadn’t eaten dinner, so we wanted a little protein to fill us up!

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients in blender & mix.
  2. Enjoy!

This makes 2 big shakes, so 1/2 the recipe if it’s just for you!! 

 

Buffalo ‘Chicken’ Pasta Bake

I love sharing vegan recipes here … and we really strive to eat vegan whenever we can. However,  some most days, we want a little more cheese in our lives. Last week, we made all of our meals at home. It was really nice to have that time in the kitchen, and know that we were treating our bodies a little better. We needed a little comfort food, so we decided to make this buffalo ‘chicken’ pasta bake for lunch. We say ‘chicken’ because what we treated as chicken is really something else amazing: soy curls (more on that in a post a little later this week).

You guys … this dish blew our minds. We ate it ALL in one sitting <- let’s act like I didn’t just share that detail. It was SO FREAKING GOOD!

Ingredients

  • 1 box of rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cups soy curls (soaked/drained)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (yes, I realize I use real cheese/butter, but also use copious amounts of almond milk when cooking)
  • 1/2 block of monterey jack cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 block of cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cups Franks hot sauce (plus a little more for the top)
  • 3 tbsp Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup green onions (diced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp ranch dressing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Soak soy curls in bowl for 10 minutes, then drain. Add to hot pan with olive oil & a few dashes of hot sauce. Continue cooking on medium heat until soy curls have developed a little color.
  3. Cook pasta in water until just al dente. Drain & set aside.
  4. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large sauce pan, then add flous and cook until flour is golden. Whisk in almond milk until smooth. Stir occasionally until mixture thickens, then add the most of the shredded cheese & hot sause. Stir together.
  5. Add soy curls to sauce.
  6. Add 1/2 of the pasta to an oven safe baking dish. Pour half of the sauce/coy curl mixture on top. Then repeat. Make sure pasta is coated with sauce.
  7. Top with remaining cheese & bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbly.
  8. Remove from the oven and top with green onions, cilantro, hot sauce & ranch.
  9. Enjoy!

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Apple & Cinnamon Coffee Cake

While we were catching up on TV last night, we ended up watching a few episodes of New Girl. In one of the episodes, Jess was appalled to know that one of her new friends doesn’t like dessert. How could someone not like dessert?! Well, I am kind of one of those people. Sure, every now & then, something sweet sounds good, but typically, I’d choose pickles over ice cream & pizza over a cupcake!

Here’s the thing, Jimmy loves sweets. So, in order to keep my hubby happy, I try to cook outside of my comfort zone a few times a week … which leads me to this apple & cinnamon coffee cake we made this morning.

You guys … If you haven’t stumbled upon Food Happy, take a few minutes to browse the site! Stephanie is a fellow vegetarian who uses a clean, simple approach to cooking. Her ingredients are easy to find, yet the dishes end up tasting like they took hours to prepare!! So, when I saw her recipe for Gram’s coffee cake, I knew we had to try it!

Head over to her post for the full recipe with step-by-step instructions & ingredients. *Note: We used almond milk instead of 2%, and it worked wonderfully.

Chickpea Noodle Soup

Even though I’ve been a vegetarian for several years, I still have a way of remembering exactly what some of my favorite ‘meaty’ foods tasted like … a McDonalds cheeseburger, my mom’s fried chicken, and the number one comfort food in my book: chicken noodle soup. Who cares that it was from a can? It was so freaking good.

Thankfully, since becoming a vegetarian, I’ve only been sick a few times (maybe just two times), so it’s not like I had to suffer through yearly flus/colds without a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Though, I have to admit, there are rainy days when it just seems like the perfect meal.

Well, now, I’ve found a replacement. A really good replacement. Chickpea Noodle Soup may be one of my favorite ‘I-need-comfort-food’ meals ever.

Ingredients

  • 7 cups water
  • 3/4 box of elbow macaroni (about 3/4 of a pound)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 tbsp. canolla oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter (use a tbsp of olive oil here to make this vegan)
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • a pinch of pepper for seasoning

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pan
  2. Add pasta, chickpeas, salt, garlic salt, oil & butter to the pan. Cook until the pasta is tender.
  3. Serve. Be sure to add a little pinch of pepper in the bowl. Yes, seriously, it’s that easy. The water becomes the broth … a seriously tasty broth that gives the canned stuff a run for it’s money.
  4. Enjoy!

Adapted from Fresh 365

Chocolate Dipped Clementine Wedges

It’s been so long since we’ve shared whats going on in our kitchen. Last summer, we were sharing recipes like it was our job, then we sold our house, moved in with my mom, and lastly, moved to Oregon. It’s taken a bit to get settled, and even a bit more to get into a rhythm. Now that we’re in a bit of a rhythm from week to week, we are going to be sharing so many more vegetarian recipes.

Today, I had a little sweet tooth … I also happened to have a little bit of chocolate & a few clementines. When we book wedding clients, we always send the clients a few salted chocolates, so I knew I wanted to take it that way! That’s when these little chocolate dipped clementines were dreamed up.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 clementines (peeled & sectioned)
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate
  • kosher salt

Directions

This is so stinking easy … Seriously!

  1. Melt chocolate in microwave. Only heat for 20 seconds at a time, stir, then heat for 20 more seconds. Will probably take about a minute total.
  2. Dip each orange segment half way in the chocolate. Shake off excess chocolate (is there such a thing), then lay on a cookie sheet that’s covered with wax paper.
  3. After you have 6 or 8 segments dipped and on the sheet, take a little pinch of salt and sprinkle over the pieces.
  4. Repeat until all segments are coated & sprinkled.
  5. Put cookie sheet into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!