Monday, September 12, 2011

So much for cutting the cheese, I ate it!

Hello everyone, as if you hadn't noticed, when school is in, I may be hard to find. Sorry for lack of posts, but unfortunately school has to have most of my brain attention. I did want to drop in and let you guys weigh in on one of my recent indiscretions. When I started this blog, I promised to take you through my whole journey, the good and the bad. Well yesterday, I did the bad.
Coming up on my 5 month anniversary of being a vegan, I decided I wanted cheese. Now don't think for a second that I just had this craving and immediately ate a whole half of of a 16 inch cheese pizza (and yes I really did that yesterday). These thoughts of cheese I have been sitting on for a while. I kept thinking it would go away just like all the other times, but alas it never did. Instead of continuing trying to fight it, I gave in to what I called "cheat" day. but here is the kicker, now I am not sure I can go back. Don't get me wrong, I will never go back to consuming dairy products like before, and I never really plan on eating meat, as I never even get cravings for it anymore, but let's face it, being a vegan can be challenging. Sometimes I get tired of passing on food that I really really want to eat.  It made me think, why was I being so hard on myself? Never allowing myself to really indulge a little? That leads me to my next question, will I still be considered a vegan is I occasionally eat some cheese, and how often will I eat it? Should I change the name of the blog? Will I be able to control how much I eat if I allow it back?
These are all questions I have been pondering for about a week now. Can I turn my back on all the info I have learned in five months of research on this lifestyle? Up until now, this lifestyle has came pretty easy to me, however I literally feel like I woke up one day and all my bearings about it were off and I can't seem to shake it. This journey has now become a struggle and I wonder if the extra stress is worth it. As I figure these things Ot, I will continue to share my thoughts and questions, so stay tuned to see were I go on the path and as always, your support and feedback is so welcomed and appreciated

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vegan/Vegetarian in the news!!!

Good day everyone! Hope all is well out there in veg land! I wanted to do a special post as something has come to my attention lately. The amount of press that surrounds vegan/vegetarianism these days. Now far be it from me to deny that maybe this subject has been gaining ground for quite some time, and I am (newly vegan) just starting to notice. But it seems like everywhere I turn, an article, magazine or even a feature on talk shows (Hello...Oprah!) is sprouting up! I have included a picture of some of the things I have discovered! One of the newspaper articles featuring a vegetarian recipe came in my mail as an extra from our local paper. The other article was just recently displayed in the USA Today about the going meatless and vegan. The Eating Well and Cooking Light magazine both feature vegetarian and and vegan recipes in almost every issue. The best one of all? The VegNews magazine! I had no idea this existed until browsing the magazine section at my local Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago. It is a whole magazine dedicated to vegan ism, how awesome is that? They have recipes, travel, and famous vegans (This month had Portia de Rossi on the cover with an interview about her and her vegan wife Ellen). There is also a website by the same name!

All this press really makes a person think that there just might be something to this lifestyle. There has to be benefits for it to be getting so much headway. The more you dig, the more you find on the subject and the more people you discover that live that lifestyle. I showed a link on my Facebook page a while back about an interview with the infamous Steve-O from the Jackass clan. He was a former chain smoking drug and alcohol abuser who is now a healthy vegan! That was an inspirational story to read that someone can go from one extreme to the other and really come out on top. He now has a PETA add as well!

I think all of these things are just little daily reminders...affirmations that I am headed down the right path. Until next time friends ( and I promise to include a delicious recipe!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The best discovery I have made yet in this journey..a wonderful ground meat substitute

Hello out there in the World Wide Web!!! I hope everyone has been having a wonderful summer! Let's start with addressing the big elephant in the recent lack of posts! Well I took a summer class that required my full attention, then had a very important wedding in the family to prepare for. Nevertheless, I am back hopefully with some really great new stuff. Oh, and I guess I should say "I'm sorry"! I should be keeping you (the readers) up to date on this stuff :p. I have been through some great recipes and great experiences over this last month of veganism. So now it's time to share!!

One of the best things I have came across I happen to stumbled upon just this last month...TVP! Texturized Vegetable Protein. I know what you are thinking "That shit sounds horrendous" but I promise you it isn't. It is a clumped soy flour and is frequently used as a ground meat substitute in many dishes and even fake bacon bits (one of my personal favorites). This stuff is so close to the texture of real ground meat, I really believe it could be used to fool any meat eaters! Plus it seems to take on the flavor of whats around it, so you can use it in almost any dish. It is high in protein and the best part? You can find this stuff in bulk bins for under $2 a pound!!!! So I recommend maybe trying to sub out a meat dish with TVP once a week! Just as much protein without the other things that meat brings to the table (literally).

The cookbook that showed me this awesome great new thing was a wonderful little gem I discovered at the library. Vegan Diner by Julie Hasson. She has such great recipes in that book, with beautiful pictures to boot. I decided to try the Very Sloppy Joes recipe out of it and I couldn't believe what I was eating. Hands down, probably the best sloppy joes I have ever had meat or no meat, and that is a dish I have loved from a little girl. I made the Double Chocolate Strawberry Pie out of it and it was just as awesome. I have checked out a lot of vegan cookbooks from my local library, but that is one I plan on buying and keeping forever. Here is the link to her website and book.

Now on to the recipes! I actually am going to use a few recipes using TVP from The Happy Herbivore. This cookbook holds a special place in my heart as it was my first vegan one. What I love most about it is all the recipes use real, everyday ingredients. They are basic enough that they leave plenty of room to adjust to the user's tastes. Did I mention that the author Lindsay is a sweetheart and will answer any questions you have about her cookbook or recipes via facebook, blog responses, or e-mails? That speaks volumes for her and her work! Almost all her recipes are low-fat or fat free and labeled by things like soy or gluten free, kid or omnivore friendly! Here again is the link to Lindsay's blog and cookbook (she comes out with a new one soon!)

Without further hesitation, I give you the recipes from The Happy Herbivore, TVP Tacos and Bacon Bits...

3/4 cup No-Beef Broth (recipe is in the book, I used organic veggie broth and it worked fine)
2 tbsp steak sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp onion flakes
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
hot sauce or cayenne power to taste
1 cup TVP
4 taco shells (we doubled the recipe and used Ezekial live sprouted tortillas so it made 8 tacos)

Bring broth to a boil

Turn off heat and remaining ingredients up to, but not including TVP stirring

Add TVP, cover, and let TVP soak up all the liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir if necessary.

Add TVP mixture to taco shells and top with desired fillings (we used chopped spinach, tomatoes, peppers, onions, salsa, and guacamole).

the picture comes from The Happy Herbivore cookbook

Now for the bacon bits recipe (this is so easy, there is no reason to buy those imitation bacon bits from the store and they taste so much like the real thing!)

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

2 tsp pure maple syrup

1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder

1/8 tsp paprika

1/2 TVP

salt as needed

Combine all ingredients except TVP and salt but including 1 tbsp of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, turn off heat, and immediately add TVP

Stir until all liquid is absorbed. Add salt as needed

Fry in a nonstick pan to dehydrate until crispy stirring often

pic also from the cookbook (could you tell I was still in slack mode?)

Til next time veg friends!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vegan chocolate chip cookies and chhhheesssseeeeeee!!!!

Really some of the most important "c" words in the English language (I could think of one more, but it's not too appropiate at the moment). Anyways, let's get on with some new stuff!

 First, let's talk about The Fresh Market that just opened in Evansvile. It is located in the same shopping plaza as the Target Greatland on the Eastside, by Babies R' Us. It just opened yesterday, and I made my maiden voyage this afternoon. I didn't really need anything, I just wanted to get the feel of it. It was BUSY!!!! It was a good thing I wasn't doing any real shopping, it was hard to move around in there! They did offer tons of organic fresh porduce and many other organic items, so that is a plus. I did notice alot of the produce was a little cheaper than my beloved Schnucks organic, but I wouldn't drive across town for it, if it was also available to me right now the road for just a little more. They did offer more options than Schnucks, so if there was something you couldn't find, it might be worth the trip. They had a candy bar that looked awesome (although I'm pretty sure a lot of it is off limits to us veggies) and a salad bar with fresh fruit that looked amazing! I did pick up a new brand of veggie burgers, that had a way more healthful ingredients list than Boca or MorningStar, so I can't wait to try them. One of the best things I thought they have is a fresh ground nut butter machine (thanks for the heads up Tasha!) They take dry roasted peanuts, cashews, and almonds and crush them right into spreadable butter!!! One of the best things about The Fresh Market is they are letting you sample the stuff! Candy, nuts, and the butter can all be sampled (atleast for now!) All of the nut butters were awesome, cashew was def. my fav. I went with the peanut though as it had the most protein next to the almond butter. The peanut was $2.99 per lb, but the almond and cashew were a whopping $7.99 a lb! So that might be a better treat item. The best part is there is no salt added to the almond or peanut, something hard to find in the natural jarred kind.! Ok, the best part of my trip, I picked up a bag of  Daiya shredded cheese! I had seen this at our local food co-op and the fellow vegan gentleman suggested it to me the last time I was there, it was just a little expensive for me at over $5 a bag. Well I purchased it here because I swore it said it was $3.99 a bag, but come to find out when I got home, it was $4.99 a bag!!!!! I would much rather give my money to the co-op, so from now on I will be purchasing it from there. The taste was pretty damn good for not being real cheese. Let's face it, nothing will taste like the real thing, ever. But this stuff melts and has a pretty close taste, esp. if you are using it in a recipe and not by itself, I think you would be suprised how good it repliactes it! The hubby made a grilled cheese and my 3 year old cheese lover ate it and liked it (and he is one picky little guy!)  It does have a little tinsy aftertaste so be prepared for that. I am really excited to try the mozzeralla on pizza now! All in all, The Fresh Market is worth checking out. And the flowers there are amazing!!!!  It probably won't be my first choice of shopping, but it will be a nice place to visit for treats and unique items.

So now onto the recipe! Vegan Chocolate chip cookies! Per usual, for baked items I turn to my girl Isa! So this is her recipe for CCC! These are super easy to make, and I am also including some vegan items that are really accessible and fairly priced, so check those out! I took them to work and all of my co-workers loved them!! Enjoy and til next time!

Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup margarine at room temp (I used Smart Balance Light Original with Flax, and I get it from Wal-Mart for about $2.50! and vegan certified on the label)

1 1/4 cups sugar (again I use Florida Organic Crystals and also found at Wal-Mart and vegan certified)

1 tablespoon molasses

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour ( I use whole wheat pastry, seems to not be as fluffy of a cookie, but otherwise the same)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt ( I used 1/4 teaspoon, I hate using a lot of salt in things)

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips ( Ghiradelli is accidentally vegan and also found at Wal-Mart)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the margarine and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add in the molasses and vanilla and incorporate. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Now I recommend putting the dough in the fridge for about a half hour, allowing it to become a little more stiff (that's what she said). Otherwise it was alittle hard to work with.

 Roll dough into 1 inch balls or drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets (I did both of those and the balls seemed to not get quite done in the middle, which I happen to like, so I recomend dropping). Bake for about 10 minutes until mildly browned. Allow the cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove and place on plate or wire rack to cool

P.S. The dough itself was fabulous and safe to eat since it was egg free! I'm gonna try it in a milkshake!


the cheese!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grocery total for first month being vegan...

waaaaaaaaassssssssss $400 dollars! I realize that seems like a lot. Well it doesn't seem like, it is! But keep in mind that is a family of three who eat almost every single meal out of those groceries. So if you break it down per meal, it comes to about $4.75 per meal, for the whole family. That doesn't even include snacks (which this family does a lot of) so throw those in the mix, and the price becomes even lower per meal. Also keep in mind that everything I buy that can be purchased in organic, is. So if someone were more focused on the vegan aspect of things, you could do it even cheaper (but I will always support organic, and if you can afford it, go for it.) Something to consider as well, my family seems to be in pretty decent health (knock on wood several times, I even cringe saying that aloud with fear of one of us coming down with something horrible). My son nor I had been to the doctor since our 1 year check-ups a year ago. Granted we weren't vegan, but we bought a lot of organic, and knew where most of our meat came from. Something to consider next time you shell out a co-pay at your doctor's office. Also, being completely honest, that is almost the exact same amout I paid being non- vegan. One more thing to consider, I had to buy a lot of vegan staples that I didn't have formerly, so next month may not be quite as bad. I could have also made a lot of the same meals I had already made and spent less, but I really wanted to test and try lots of new things! So not too many recipes this week, I was still adjusting to all the change around here, but this week should be full of some good ones. Stay tuned and have a wonderful weekend :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

When life gives you shit, turn to chocolate :)

I love to share delicious recipes and support this vegan journey as much as possible, but I have to be honest, today I am struggling. Most days, I love it. I love talking about it, the cooking, and the satiisfaction that comes along with it, however today that is not the case. You see, these last couple of days have got me down. Nothing too terrible has happened, other than my partner in crime of three years has left me, to start his own journey into the world of preschool. Of course I am talking about my son. I have been thinking how great it is gonna be to have alone time, and be free to come and go as I pleased during the day, but honestly I just have felt lost. I find myself just counting the hours until he comes home. I know I gotta let go, but damn it's hard! I also haven't heard word on the job yet and have convinced myself it just isn't going to happen for me right now. I am a very firm believer in "everything happens for a reason", but sometimes it is just hard to remember that. Combine that with some other stuff no one really needs to here about and I am just in a little emotional. So all of this brings me to my point, food. I am defintely one who turns to food for comfort. I get joy out of food, especially when I'm down. Ice cream, pizza, mac and cheese are just a few of my favorite things. I have yet to find substitutes that are as good as the original. It doesn't help that a dish I had been excited to cook all week, turned out to be a flop :( The edmame pesto was not quite what I expected. I have a queasy stomach, so I am not one who can eat things I don't really enjoy, so that dish was a lesson learned. I wanted so badly to cheat, I was contemplating throwing all of this out the window. I started to make a list of all the vegan things I just don't love (nutrional yeast, fake cheese, sometimes tofu) and thought "I am never going to make it." Then a little voice told me to be strong, think of the greater good and all of the wonderful things I have made. Then I got the idea. I needed to use these big juicy organic strawberries up before they went bad, and what does a woman turn to when she is down? Chocolate of course! I melted some Ghiradhelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and made chocolate covered strawberries (thank god those little treats are accidentally vegan) They were awesome, and quite frankly saved me and my veganism. I hope as time goes on, I grow a little stronger, but I wanted to share this story, so you all know it isn't always as easy as I make it look. I have gained willpower through this and that's something I never really had too much of. So sometimes you win some, and sometimes you lose, but in the end, it all seems to work out!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spicy Bean and Corn burgers with a Mango Salad and Sweet Lime Dressing

How was everyone's holiday weekend? I have to tell you that mine was one of the best! Good wedding, kickass Primus show, and time pent and new friends made in the sun drinking brews and hooping it up. This week will be a bittersweet one for us though, our son starts preschool after being with his Mommy ever since he was born. My husband also has a big interview for the fire department and I find out if I get a job that I really really really want at our local library! So fingers crossed it all goes well! So I thought I would include some things we nade for our little picnic yesterday in today's post! The "burger" recipe was a really good base recipe. Now that I know we can make them and they wont fall apart, I will probably make them a little more spicy next time adding some fressh peppers and more herbs! The salad I found when traveling thru our local grocery store (Schnucks I love you for all the organic options you offer!) and the lady had out samples. She had this recipe for a a mango salad that was soooo good! I didn't realize until after I tasted it, it was made with honey though :( So in my recipe I subbed out agave nectar and it came out yummy! It would be a perfect thing to bring to a summer bbq! Enjoy!

Spicy bean and corn burgers (I can no longer find the original recipe)

1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 carrot
1 can of dark red kidney beans
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 8 oz can of sweet corn
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1-2 tablespoon mustard (we left this out b/c my husband hates mustard, but I would have totally put it in)
3/4 cup old fashioned oats

Mince all veggies and saute in a pan using oil or cooking spray until soft, adding the spices at the end and mixng to coat. Meanwhile, rinse and drain beans, then mash with a fork or potato masher. After the veggies are finished, mix with beans and add corn, then oats. Form into about six patties (if you have trouble getting to stick, use a little whole wheat or white flour to help). Preheat the skillet over medium heat and again with cooking spray or oil, fry burgers about 5-7 minutes on each side.

Mango Cucumber Salad with Lime Dressing

2 limes
2 ripe mangos peeled and chopped
6 oz bag of shredded radishes
1 cucumber chopped
3 tablespoons evoo
2 tablespoons agave nectar

Grate 1 tablespoon lime peel (about one lime worth) and whisk in a bowl with the juice of 2 limes. Add agave nectar and olive oil and mix together. Throw in the fruits and veggies and mix to coat. Best served chilled!

I am defintely putting a new camera on my Christmas list!