Curry Saves the Day

Whew–it’s been another whirlwind couple of weeks!  One week, poor Baby H was sick with an ear infection, followed by a big growth spurt, then the week after it was time for his two-month checkup (complete with his first round of shots).  He has grown so much already and is becoming more fun, alert, and engaging every day as he learns more and more about his world.  All I can really do is try to keep up!

It isn’t always easy to take good care of myself when it feels like all of my energy is being put toward this miraculous new person.  My diet has been far less than stellar and oftentimes I forget to eat at all.  And then there are other times when the little guy FINALLY falls asleep that I am racing to fit in at least 1 or 2 of the 68094887324 things on my to-do list.

Exhibit 1:
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This is my dining room table right now.  I’m trying to sort through Baby H’s clothes, putting away the stuff that doesn’t fit him anymore (there’s a lot of it!) and organizing the stuff that does so that it’s easier and quicker to get him dressed throughout the day (and yes, he goes through multiple outfit changes daily!).

Enter last night; around 6:00, baby boy went down for (what I thought was) his pre-bedtime nap and I figured I’d finally have the time to tackle some of the clothes sorting.  That was when I realized that I hadn’t eaten anything since about noon.  So the plan changes to: eat, then sort.

Fortunately, in the fridge I had a big batch of Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry (an all-time fave from Veganomicon) that I cooked up last week when my mom was here visiting and watching the baby.  I grabbed a baggie of brown rice that I had cooked and frozen when Baby H was about 3 weeks old and stuck it in the microwave to defrost for a few minutes.

Almost immediately the cries started from upstairs.  So I went up, picked up Baby H, and rocked him for about 10 minutes to get him to go back to sleep.  Meanwhile I could hear the stupid microwave beeping every 2 minutes downstairs to remind me that my rice was done.  All I could think was, “That had better not wake him up!”

Once Baby H was back down, I went back downstairs, added the curry to the defrosted rice, and began to  heat them up.  Once it was ready, I began to eat and even started drafting a blog post.  image (22)
Except that not five minutes later the crying started again (this time sounding pretty mad, actually).   I hurriedly shoveled the last few bites of curry into my mouth and went back upstairs to pick up Baby H again.

So, the clothes are still covering the dining room table.  But at least I had dinner!

Thanks, curry.
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Autumn Breakfast Bounty

Over the summer I dedicated an entire post to smoothies and salads, but now that it’s fall my appetite is running toward the warmer end of the breakfast spectrum.  This means that oatmeal is back in the rotation (how 2009, I know), as well as a number of baked goods (which I at least try to keep on the healthy side).

Over the weekend, I made the Lower Fat Banana Bread (with chocolate chips, OBVIOUSLY) from Veganomicon for a football tailgate.

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I was really motivated to make this because whenever I tailgate with a bunch of dudes I notice that there is a distinct lack of any food that is not either meat or a piece of bread on which to transfer the meat from hand to mouth.  I got up early that morning to bake it so that it would be warm and delicious for the tailgate.  It was a big hit and I had only 2-3 slices left over.  Here’s what I did with those:

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Portable workday breakfast: slice of chocolate chip banana bread with raw almond butter.  Perfection.

I also baked a batch of Chocolate Spice Muffins from Everyday Happy Herbivore so that H and I could have a quick, low-cal, grab-and-go breakfast every day this week.

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As with the banana bread, I like to cut these in half and spread a little raw almond butter on them.  Obviously this ups the calories considerably, but I am the kind of person who is ravenous by 10:30 a.m. if I don’t bulk up my breakfast a little.

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^Pretty hard to argue with.

As to that oatmeal, and sticking with another recurring theme of pumpkin everything, check this out:

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Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 serving of cooked oatmeal (cooked according to package instructions)
1 tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. vegan chocolate chips
1 tbsp. chopped pecans
A sprinkle of pink salt
[optional] 1 tsp. maple syrup

Directions
Simply cook the oatmeal, then stir in remaining ingredients and enjoy!

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Oatmeal never did photograph nicely.

Oh and just in case you didn’t already know, the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival is coming up in less than two weeks!!!

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I can’t wait!!

P.S. – Happy 2 Year Anniversary to my H!!! 🙂

Vegan MoFo Yellow Week Recipe Roundup – Chickpea Edition

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I couldn’t go through a whole week of yellow foods without having at least some celebration of the chickpea!  Today I am sharing some recipes that showcase this wonderful legume.

Each and every one of these is a tried and true favorite of mine.  I can attest to their deliciousness AND the fact that they come together quickly.  This means that they are all great weeknight meals, and make great leftovers too!

From Cookbooks
Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup from Eat Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton (click for recipe)
Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas also from Eat Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton (click for recipe)
Tamari Roasted Chickpea

Chickpea Quinoa Pilaf from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terri Hope Romero (recipe reprinted here)
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From the Blogosphere
Chick & Split Pea Curried Gravy (click for recipe) by How to Feed a Vegan (an oldie but goodie!  I posted about it way back in 2009!)
Chick and Split Pea Curried Gravy

Maple Mustard Beans and Greens by Tina Haupert of Carrots ‘n’ Cake, for Health.com (click for recipe)
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I made mine with frozen Swiss chard and corn (I didn’t have peas)

Chickpea Flour Pancakes Two Ways:
Jumbo Chickpea Pancake (click for recipe) by Angela of Oh She Glows
Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Cauliflower and Shiitake Mushrooms (click for recipe) by Vegan Richa
Teriyaki Tempeh - Cauliflower Shiitake Chickpea pancakes

If that photo doesn’t make you want some, I don’t know what will!

If you have a favorite chickpea recipe, please share it in the comments!

Not Yo Mama’s Happy Meals

Those who know me know that I strongly believe that being vegan is a snap if you plan and are adequately prepared on any given day. Even so, in the midst of busy lives, work schedules, and obligations to family, friends, and significant others, true preparation can be a lofty goal.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feelin’ 22 I find that every aspect of my life runs so much more smoothly when I am on top of my food and eating. Recently, I did a 3-day Detox Cleanse from Maria Guadagno at Bombshell Blueprint (more information here). The cleanse was awesome of course, but what it really showed me was that having a true plan and schedule for what I’m going to eat, when I’m going to eat it, and maybe most importantly when I’m going to prep it, is the key to my feeling happy, productive, and in control of my life and health.

So today I present some of the “happy meals” that I have been eating of late. These are meals that, with a little advance preparation, can be thrown together super-quickly at any given time, whether it’s the usual early-morning-packing-lunch-for-the-workday grind or a getting-home-after-Zumba-and-have-no-time-to-cook-dinner situation.

Ever since my cleanse I have been wild about cooking up a pot of brown rice with shiitake mushrooms at the beginning of the week and using the rice in all sorts of meals. All you do is add the sliced mushrooms to the rice about 10 minutes before the cooking time is up.  You get a whole lot of extra texture and nutrition with little to no extra effort. Best of all, you can eat this rice with basically anything.

For example, here we have shiitake brown rice packed alongside lentils (which my mother-in-law cooked up with a little onion and carrot and gave to me), ready to take to work.

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I stirred some turmeric and cayenne into the lentils and it was absolutely delicious, hearty and filling, not to mention healthy!

I tried the shiitake mushroom trick with soba noodles as well. Scroll down for shiitake soba noodles three ways:

1) with stir-fried green beans and red pepper (also a gift from my mother-in-law):

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2) with sauteed sugar snap peas:

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I topped and tailed these babies the night before, then sauteed them with toasted sesame oil (my LOVE), garlic, ginger, and a little fresh cilantro in the morning and packed it all up to take to work.

3) with the remaining sauteed sugar snap peas, with Sticky Maple Tempeh by Happy. Healthy. Life (recipe here) for dinner:

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Another big reason that meal planning is mentally refreshing for me is that it allows me to actually use up the ingredients I have in my constantly overpacked fridge and pantry, which is especially important this time of year when fresh produce is everywhere. Planning also allows me to utilize a handful of the several thousand recipes I have stored in my email (never mind the ones in all my cookbooks) that I want to try which use those ingredients.

I especially love to make a recipe that leaves leftovers that I can repurpose in another way. One night I made Summer Slaw from Happy. Healthy. Life (recipe here) and used it as a base for jackfruit carnitas tacos (look out for those in an upcoming post).

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The slaw recipe made a TON! So the next day I ate some of it with the leftover Sticky Maple Tempeh. The rest of the week I had it as a side with pretty much everything else that I ate. (I highly recommend both the slaw and the tempeh recipes, but especially the tempeh, by the way. I have had mixed results with tempeh in the past but making this gave me more confidence to try other things with it in the future.)

With a block of extra-firm tofu that was on sale, I made Curried Tofu from Veganomicon. That one block of tofu lasted me more than a week, and was delicious chopped up over salads or used in sandwiches like this one:

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I also recently made Curried Chickpea Salad from Fettle Vegan (recipe here) one night and used it on sandwiches and wraps for days.

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I only used 2/3 of the amount of mayo called for and still found the recipe a little too rich/creamy for my tastes. I’m not sure I would make this specific recipe again but I would definitely tweak it and/or use other chickpea salad recipes (Lord knows there are thousands) because I love the idea of having something like that available for quick meals, snacks, or sides.

Finally, since it’s berry season, I’ve been all about fresh strawberries and blueberries (organic because the other ones scare me). I made Strawberry Mint Salad by Maria Guadagno (recipe here) and ate that over organic baby spinach and oh my.

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For breakfast, some blueberries mixed up with So Delicious strawberry coconut-milk yogurt and hemp seeds.

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Or cherry vanilla smoothies that I made for H and me after finding cherries for $1.99/lb (yay!).

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Each smoothie had about 2/3 cup of pitted cherries, 1 cup of unsweetened almond-coconut milk, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/2 a frozen banana, 1 tbsp of hemp seeds, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. They were really tasty but strangely turned a nasty-looking gray/steel color after 2-3 minutes (?!). Not sure what that was about.  I didn’t take a picture because it was disgusting.

Another popular and quick breakfast has been a sprouted whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter, hemp seeds and banana slices (this breakfast idea came from H, my little hemp seed convert).

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Those are just a few of the happy meals that, along with the beautiful summery weather, have been keeping a smile on my face!

What are your happy meals made of?

Party Fare

Hello!!  I have carved out 15 minutes in today’s study schedule to blog because 1) I really miss it, and 2) I might actually walk outside and step in front of an oncoming T if I don’t do something to break up the monotony of practice essays.

In case anyone is keeping track, day one of the bar exam is one week from today, and day two is one week from tomorrow.   That means: 1) I have been studying for this test to the exclusion of pretty much everything else for 50 days now, 2) at 4:30 p.m. on July 28 (193 hours from now), I will be freed from my misery, and 3) I will finally be ready to publish posts I have been compiling for the last two months regarding my eating habits during the period, which have been both erratic and ingenious at times.

It seems I am no longer capable of putting thoughts into words without using numbered lists.

Though it’s sort of hard to remember what my life was like before the bar, I have this dim recollection that I was a happy and social being.  In fact, sometimes I even bathed and left the house, occasionally to go to (gasp!) parties, and when I did, I used to like to bring vegan treats along to generously share with those present, as well as to selfishly ensure that I would have something to eat.

Way back in May I went to H’s sister’s confirmation party and made the Mediterranean Cashew Cucumber Dip from Veganomicon.
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This stuff is so amazing.  It tastes just like tzatziki but has the texture of hummus, and is perfect for dipping veggies or pita chips in, or for spreading on crackers.  This container got totally eaten up.  Proud Cook.
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More pictures from when I made the dip back in 2008.

In June, when I hadn’t yet metamorphosed from well-adjusted human to Gollum, I also went to H’s other sister’s high school graduation party and made a Chocolate Cream Pie.

This pie was super, super simple.  First, you make a graham cracker crust, from whatever recipe you like.  I used this one, because it’s foolproof, and subbed Smart Balance for the butter.
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Then, I made the filling.  I used Dr. Oetker’s Organic Chocolate Pudding Mix (which I bought at Whole Foods). I cooked it on the stovetop according to the package directions, using vanilla soy milk.  Next, I poured it in the pie shell and let it chill.
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After I took it out, I topped it with Soyatoo. I actually didn’t do the entire thing because I ran out! But I still think it looked kind of nice.
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Finally, I dusted it with a little cocoa powder, and shaved part of a dark chocolate bar over it.
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Everyone at the party knew me, that I’m vegan, and that I’d brought the pie.  Those who had sampled my cooking or baking before (and there were quite a few) were happy to try it, but the rest steered clear and went for more familiar fare.  Oh well.  You can’t force people to step out of their comfort zones, and on this particular occasion I didn’t try, because it meant there was more pie for me.  Win.

Since I just talked about the chocolate cream pie, I suppose this would be a good opportunity to post pictures of the Banana Cream Pie I made a few months back too.  It’s the same exact thing as above, except I used Dr. Oetker’s Organic Banana Pudding Mix and sliced fresh bananas on top. And photographed it at night in my dim kitchen, so the picture isn’t great.
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I made it for dessert for H and me and we ate it for about a week.  It was good!  Next time I definitely want to add pieces of Mi Del Vanilla Snaps (in place of disgusting Nilla wafers) into the filling.

Overall, I recommend this pie method as an easy shortcut to a yummy and not horribly unhealthy dessert, whether you choose to share or not!

Alright, break time is up (and of course it took me 40 minutes instead of 15 to put this together)!  But the next time I post, I will be doing so as a free woman.  Perhaps it will even be coherent.  Stay tuned.

Springy Soup/Soupy Spring

Last week I made the Double Pea Roasted Pepper Soup from Veganomicon.  I figured it’s spring, so peas are in season, and for some reason I also have a ton of dried split peas lying around. Mostly, I figured it’s freezing and rainy, so soup is good.

First step was to prep the red peppers. Look at these perfect little twins!
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Pre-roasting (cut, seeded, and oiled):
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Doesn’t the one on the top right look like a heart?

Split peas–measured, ready, and waiting:
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Apparently one yellow pea got in there. Didn’t notice that until I just pulled up the picture. Nice.

I didn’t take pictures of the other steps. I think I just really liked the way the peppers and peas looked. Anyway, here is the final product (I think this is about as attractive as pea soup is ever going to look):
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I liked this recipe.  It was a little bland for my taste; the addition of some salt and cayenne pepper helps.   Also, the flavor of the roasted red peppers is more apparent after the soup sits in the fridge for a day or two. It is very filling, which makes it a great lunch-time soup for those on-the-go.  The recipe also makes a LOT, so I froze some of the leftovers for later consumption. Really, that’s all there is to it!

Gobbling Garbanzos

Man, I just friggin’ love chickpeas. Their texture is pretty much perfect, the flavor is tame enough to be dressed up with just about anything, and they are super-healthy. My only problem with chickpeas is that I eat too many of them, which is not the best thing for me to do when I’m watching my weight, because they are pretty calorically dense.

But I digress. Two of my favorite ways to cook chickpeas are either Indian-style (in my own, very loose adaptation of chana masala) or in the Quinoa-Chickpea Pilaf from Veganomicon.  Observe:

Indian-style: this is one of my impromptu “masala” chickpea dishes.  Basically I sautee some onions and garlic, then add a buttload of veggies (carrots, broccoli, some potatoes, and in this one I used fresh tomatoes, though I often use canned).  Then I add a liquid, either broth or one of those delicious simmer sauces in a jar that you can buy at the store.  I usually use broth (mostly because I can’t take the salt in the jars, but they are delicious, and handy when you want something super-quick).  Then add the chickpeas (I almost always used canned these days because I’m lazy).  If using broth, you then need to add lots of good spices.  Curry powder, obviously, and some cumin, chili powder, a little garam masala, and black pepper.  I just do it to taste.  It’s so tasty and lasts for days.
(Sorry for the weird picture…for some reason, no matter how I format it, it still looks odd. Oh well. It was tasty.)


PILAF!!!  From Veganomicon, this is one of my favorite recipes ever and I have made a rule that I cannot eat any of it until 20 minutes after it’s done cooking…for some reason when it’s piping hot I cannot resist throwing back bowl after bowl of it, so I have to wait for it to cool and then slow my roll and enjoy it.  LOVE the taste of the ground coriander in this.

Oh, and I have the nutrition facts for it! Well, sort of. The following numbers are based off of my observation that the recipe yields roughly 6 cups, and then from that I derived the following numbers for a serving of 1 cup (or 1/6 of the recipe):
224 calories, 38g carbs, 5g fat, 8g protein, 6g fiber, 518 mg sodium, 14% DV iron, 26% DV Vitamin B6, 5% DV calcium, 5% DV Vitamin E. Woo!

Another fun way I like to make chickpeas in order to eat them as a snack or as a salad topping is to roast them (like Dreena’s Tamari-Roasted Chickpeas…I think from ED&BV).  And I am dying to try this recipe from Fitness Magazine for Indian-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas, for obvious reasons (namely, that I am obsessed with both chickpeas and Indian food).

Happy gobbling!