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The Recovery

After a week of less-than-healthy eating on vacation, it was time to get back on track this past week. We were all feeling the effects of being off plan — bloated, fatigued, and fat! We all gained a few pounds while on vacation (truth be told, I think I’m still carrying 5 pounds from LAST year’s vacation). Off plan included “meat” (lots of lobster), butter, fried, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, sugar…  I know… you are all thinking “sounds great”!  🙂

But when you eat only plant based 99% of the time, these things definitely take their toll and we needed a week of recovery.

In order to go hard core on the recovery, I went immediately to the Forks Over Knives website.  It so happened that they were featuring an article with a week of recipes and I actually used that for my menu plan for the week.  So here are the recipes along with my adjustments/commentary (note, all recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes or less):

Easy Thai Noodles – I doubled this recipe because, let’s face it, 8 ounces of noodles is not enough with 2 big eaters in the house.  What I liked about this recipes was the ease — it says “ready in 30 minutes” but it took much less than that. I couldn’t find “mung bean sprouts” so I just used a mix of sprouts that I found at the grocery store. Everyone enjoyed this, but I think if I made it again, I would use more veggies and I would triple the sauce. Leftovers were a bit dry, so I think a little more sauce would be good.

Mediterranean Vegetable Spaghetti – We also enjoyed this dish (who doesn’t love pasta).  I used whole wheat pasta instead of the brown rice spaghetti, but any pasta will do. I didn’t have “herbes de Provence” so I just used thyme, a favorite seasoning, and a bit of oregano. You could really use any herbs you prefer. The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of tomato puree but the smallest can I could find was 28 ounces! I did add more than the 2T to the recipe, partly because the recipe calls for 10 ounces of pasta (can we just make all recipes = 1 pound of pasta???) and I used 16 ounces.  So it definitely needed more of the puree; I froze the rest.

Orange Black Bean Taquitos – This was another tasty recipe. My only gripe was needing the food processor to do two separate tasks (making the filling and making the spiked sour cream). It required making one, cleaning the food processor and then making the other. While the sour cream recipe says to use the blender, my blender didn’t work for this and I ended up with lots of extra dishes to wash. But we loved the citrus combination with the kick from the adobo chiles. I served this with brown rice flavored with fresh lime juice.

Burrito Bowl — I didn’t use bowls, but plates. I served everything separately and let everyone make their own combinations. This dish definitely needed salsa to give it more flavor and interest, and I used the leftover spiked sour cream from the taquitos. I made bulgur, for something different than just rice, but any grain will do.  I used a mix of pinto and cannellini beans, but would flavor them next time (tamari, perhaps?). I did use steamed kale (from the garden), but didn’t love it. I would definitely use fresh lettuce next time, or fresh/chopped kale. And yes, I made my own tortillas — much preferred over store-bought.  This was the only picture I apparently remembered to take this week… IMG_1690

No Tuna Salad Sandwich – I’ll be honest, this wasn’t my favorite recipe of the week.  I have other similar recipes that I liked much better. This one was a little bland and I’m not a big fan of tahini. Plus, the bread I bought (a whole grain) was a little too doughy.

We did have one night where we ate out because our lovely Mikayla was in town from NYC, and another night we had grilled portobellos and my favorite kale salad. I did make this “oil free” by eliminating all oil, and increasing the lime juice.

As a result of this week’s eating, I am back to my pre-vacation weight. Yay! And I think everyone has otherwise recovered!

Hope you enjoy the recipes!

IMDb: The Recovery (2011)

A Mongolian Tale

One of my favorite dishes as a meat-eater was chicken piccata. I ordered it pretty much every time we went to our favorite Italian restaurant. It’s one of the few dishes I miss a bit, but probably more from the lemony sauce and capers than the chicken. So imagine my delight to find Tempeh Piccata in “Chloe’s Kitchen”! As soon as I came across that recipe, I knew it had to be part of this week’s menu plan.

This recipe called for steaming the tempeh first. I had not done that in any of my prior tempeh recipes. It’s supposed to make the tempeh less bitter, but I actually don’t find it bitter at all, so I may leave that step out next time.  Since I was using my cast iron skillet, I did rub a tiny bit of oil in the pan, but I eliminated the vegan margarine. It was definitely not missed. I also added extra capers since we love them!   I served this dish over rice and with sautéed spinach.

I did double the recipe, since I knew I was going to love it and I wanted leftovers. Plus, I do have two big eaters in the house and I like to make sure I have enough. I am finding that I need to double most of Chloe’s recipes. Her serving size is clearly not the same as in my house.

(Doesn’t it even LOOK like chicken piccata???)

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Next up:

Mongolian BBQ Seitan – This was also a fabulous dish! I loved the homemade barbecue sauce with a kick from the chili-garlic sauce and the fragrance of the ground ginger, cinnamon and cloves. This really was a pretty easy dinner to put together — Chloe describes it as “effortless”. I did double the recipe (of course), but I tripled the sauce so we had a little extra to put over our rice.

Note: In the video, she starts with making her seitan from scratch… I did not do this; I purchased the seitan and it was just as delicious. Just skip ahead on the video; you can also find the recipe online in print format.

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IMDb: A Mongolian Tale (1995)

 

 

Chloe

Winter Storm Stella has us all home bound (25-28″ at last measure) so I thought I’d crank out a blog post as I recover from extreme shoveling.  (Yes, I will be sore tomorrow!)

*****

A few weeks ago I attended a class “Demystifying Tofu” (a topic for another day) at which I met a woman who recommend a new cookbook: “Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli. My new friend, Lisa, raved about the recipes so, on the spot, I ordered the book from Amazon.  I have since been trying out a slew of recipes from it ever since and we have all absolutely loved them! Isa is still my favorite by a teensy bit, but this book is a very close second.

Tonight I tried Green Curry Crepes – my first attempt at crepes of any kind. I did some homework on the internet before braving this task to ensure I was aware of any and all handy-dandy cooking tips. One article said the first 1-2 are “experimental” and will give you the hang of it and, truly, I felt like a pro by the time I was done. There was not a crepe left in the dish!  Ethan loves crepes so I’ll have to look for some new recipes now that I’m comfortable making them.

Here’s a photo of one of the crepes.  I intended to take a photo of a plated crepe (the delicious filling has potato, onion, carrot, chickpeas, coconut milk, and seasonings), but I couldn’t wait to try them and then I forgot. IMG_1189

The next fabulous recipe was her Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus. Her secret ingredient is sun-dried tomatoes in the falafel, and the avocado hummus was to die for! I doubled the recipe so we had a few leftover. I eliminated the oil in the sliders and added a tablespoon instead of 1/4 cup to the hummus.  I’m thinking I could eliminate it there, too.  These truly were fantastic, and not as difficult to make as I expected, given that there are 3 separate pieces.   Definitely toast the buns!

Drunken Noodles in Cashew-Shiitake Broth: I have loved trying so many different types of noodles on this way of eating. Soba, Rice, Lo Mein, Ramen, Somen… and this recipe called for Udon noodles. They cook quickly – typically 4 minutes – and hold up in stir fries and soups. I doubled this recipe, as well, and good thing!  Ethan had 4 bowls!  It’s such a great soup for strengthening the immune system: garlic, freshly grated ginger, cayenne… Great stuff!  And I actually remembered to take a photo!

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I have tried several more and will try to get those shared with you soon!

IMDb: Chloe (2009)

 

Lady Vengeance

I recently bought a new Isa cookbook.  As you all know, “Isa Does It” is my go-to book. My family loves all her recipes and they are easily adaptable to “no oil”. She provides great cooking tips and shares ideas for substitutions in many cases.

The new book is “Vegan with a Vengeance” and I’ve tried out a few recipes so far.

Ginger Pear Waffles were pretty easy to make and were quite tasty. I found the batter had a more powerful taste than the cooked product, so I might use a bit more ginger next time. I made the mistake of doubling the batter since the recipe said it made eight 6-inch round waffles.  I read it as “6 waffles” and thought I better make 12…  The good news is that we had leftovers for breakfast for a few days.

The Tempeh Reuben is a new favorite in my house!! I always say a recipe’s success is based on how much my son eats… He ate FOUR of these sandwiches!!!  Marinated tempeh (a new favorite), vegan mayo-based Thousand Island dressing, and sauerkraut on grilled pumpernickel bread. It was fabulous!  Highly recommend! I made this with some French fries from the air fryer and Ethan dipped his fries in the dressing – a very tasty dinner!

Creamy Red Chard Linguine was an easy pasta dish on a night where you need a quick dish. I used Merlot since that’s what we always have on hand and it gave the dish a great flavor. I did double the recipe and swapped out the Swiss chard for spinach. I have never used Swiss chard, so just went for what I knew everyone would eat (plus I had some extra spinach in the fridge). Next time: Swiss chard it is.

So I’m cooking with a vengeance and loving all these great dishes! Can’t wait to work my way through the rest of the book.

p.s. A quick shout out to Jean for a great “Tofu Demystified” class today!  I learned a lot and it was great to make some new friends!

IMDb: Lady Vengeance (2005)

The Silence of the Lambs

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
~Dr Hannibal Lecter, “The Silence of the Lambs”

As I started to write this post, this quote came to mind. I remember going to see this great movie with my friend, Susie, and we clung to each other the whole time!

In case you are worried…no… I’m not cooking liver!  I did, however, cook fava beans for the first time ever!  Have you ever even seen a fava bean?? Those suckers are huge! (Or “yuge”, if you are following current politics.)

Yesterday’s dinner included: Isa’s Garlicky Thyme Tempeh (my first foray into tempeh), Lemon-Garlic Fava Beans & Mushrooms, and rice.

The tempeh was easy to do; basically cut according to the instructions, marinate for an hour or more, and grill or broil.  I actually seared on high heat in my cast iron pot which worked just as well. I will admit that, despite actually purchasing fresh thyme, I just ended up using dried. Minus the oil, I followed the fava beans recipe as is and both made for a delicious, hearty meal.

One more new recipe, also from Isa… Good Gravy Bowl with Broccoli & Seitan. The gravy is delicious; I actually doubled the gravy so I had some left over to top a baked potato for lunch. My only challenges with this recipe were related to poor planning. I felt like I used a lot of pots for this recipe for some reason and I didn’t plan the usage correctly. When I realized that I forgot to cook the quinoa, I only had a small pot available and I made a mess on the stove!  So plan ahead!  🙂

“Quid pro quo, Clarice. Quid pro quo.”  What delicious plant-based recipes have you tried lately?

IMDb: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Tofu the Vegan Zombie in Zombie Dearest

Just to get things started: a reminder.  Given the “lights cancer action” theme of my blog, every blog title is an actual movie term or title.  So, yes, this is actually a movie.  🙂

And, as you can guess, our topic is tofu!

I have indicated several times in the past that I have completely avoided soy since forever, but even more so since my diagnosis. There was so much debate as to whether tofu was healthy for a breast cancer survivor of an estrogen positive tumor, it wasn’t worth the risk. I changed my mind after reading Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die”. The chapter on breast cancer, and his supporting research, convinced me that soy is actual beneficial.

I read that book months and months ago, but, despite giving myself the green light, I remained intimidated by tofu.  That is until this week!  I finally braved purchasing and cooking with it.

I have my Scranton Beets group to thank for getting me over my hurdle.  I tried this yummy dessert two weekends ago and loved it SO much that I made it for a party I attended this past weekend.

Pina Colada Banana Coupe’

1 pound can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 T. of a sweetener (I used brown rice syrup; other options: honey, agave, etc.)
1/2 cup silken tofu
1-2 small, ripe bananas

Put all ingredients (except the bananas) in your food processor and blend until very smooth.  Layer the banana slices with the pudding and chill it before serving.  (For a bigger group, double the recipe.)

Inquiring minds might want to know: It’s called a coupe’ because the original recipe instructions suggested that this dessert be served in stemmed wineglasses or some other individual serving cup.  I had to Google coupe’, which means “a shallow glass or glass dish, typically with a stem, in which desserts or champagne are served.”

The dessert was a hit at the party for vegans and non-vegans alike!

After this, I was feeling quite brave and moved on to a dish with firm tofu. Purchasing the tofu wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be. It was in a refrigerator in the health food section and was clearly labeled “silken” and “firm”.  🙂

Tonight’s recipe was, again, from my go-to book “Isa Does It”: Shroomy Hot & Sour Soup. It was pretty easy to make and was absolutely delicious!  The fact that my 15-year-old ate FOUR bowls will give you some indication of just how good it was.  The tofu was tasty and the texture didn’t freak me out.

I plan to continue experimenting with more tofu recipes and, in fact, will be attending a “tofu 101” class offered by our Scranton Beets leader, Jean Hayes.  If any local peeps are interested in attending, you can check out the Scranton Beets Facebook page and sign up for Tofu Demystified on Sunday, February 26th, 2-4:00 pm.

Hope to see you there!

IMDb: Tofu the Vegan Zombie in Zombie Dearest (2007)

Love Old and New

We’ve been enjoying a lot of new recipes this past week, along with some oldies but goodies:

New: “From Oh She Glows Every Day”, Fusilli Lentil Mushroom Bolognese. This was a tasty dish, and I would make it again, although I found it to be similar to Isa’s Lentil-Roni, which is a little easier to make, with fewer ingredients.

Old: From “Isa Does It”, Dilly Stew with Dumplings. Ethan really loves this one, especially the dumplings. I make 1 1/2 batches of those which gives us enough for dinner plus leftovers, and yet they still fit in the pot for steaming. I’m not a fan of rosemary, so I do use dill or thyme instead of the rosemary in the dumplings. Honestly, you probably don’t need anything additional in them.

New: From “OneGreenPlanet.org”, Vegan Crab Cakes and French Fries. I’ve done the crab cakes just baked, and they are fine that way, just a bit drier. They are, obviously, better fried, but then you get all the fat. My edits: I don’t cook my own garbanzo beans; I use 2 cans. Rather than grinding up my crackers, I use panko or bread crumbs. And I’ve never had luck finding dulse flakes, so I substitute Old Bay.

For the fries… I have been using my new air fryer (a Christmas gift from my hubby). I’m getting better as it as I use it more, but the fries were quite delicious and Ethan asked for them more often. The instructions say to toss the potatoes in oil, which I do NOT do, and it’s actually not necessary at all.  I think the intent is to keep them from sticking (the potato starch can make them stick together). I have found the trick is to dry the potatoes off well before starting, and to mix the potatoes periodically during baking.

Old: From “Isa Does It”, Wild Rice Soup with Seitan Strips. I think this soup is delicious, as does the family. It’s tough finding Isa’s recipes online, so this link is a modification of the original. What’s missing is the Seitan strips. While you could make the soup without the seitan, and really not miss it, I do find it adds a little something. I simply cut the strips and fry in a non-stick pan until browned – then just throw in the soup.

New: I have to say that “Isa Does It” probably IS my favorite cookbook. Tonight we tried her Chipotle Oyster Mushroom Tacos and they were fabulous. Definitely one of my new favorites. Ethan and David both really enjoyed them also. I loved the texture of the oyster mushrooms. If you don’t like mushrooms because of mushy texture, these might be the ones to try, as they stayed pretty firm after cooking. This one definitely goes into the rotation!

Two more Isa recipes on tap for the rest of the week: New: Lentil Quinoa Stew and Old: White Wine Risotto! Yum!  I highly recommend this particular book for purchase. It’s become well-worn from much use.

IMDb: Love Old and New (1961)