Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Gratitude Feast (and food this past week)

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Fellow Bloggers!
It was an enjoyable few days to visit home, cook and bake lots of goodies, and see family. (We are not looking foward to going back to school tomorrow:) )

On Thanksgiving we felt thankful for family and enjoyed the day despite a not-so-vegan/vegetarian feast. It was difficult to get a full plate of goodies that were filling enough, vegetarian, and healthy. We had lunch with our Dad's family and most of it was not vegetarian. We managed to scrape up some cranberry sauce, red cabbage cranberry orange slaw (that we made), mashed potatoes, and a roll. We weren't thrilled, however, with the potatoes and the roll, because we assumed the potatoes had milk and butter, which we are trying to avoid, and the roll was entirely made from white flour (not whole wheat that we prefer). Never-the-less, we maintained a positive attitude and tried to make the most of the few hours we had with the family. For dinner, we had another feast with our Mom's family, and we were much more pleased with the food. We had sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, red cabbage slaw, and broccoli (and the cranberry sauce was the only item we didn't make ourselves). Anyhow, it's great to have these big get-togethers that you'll remember for years :)

Sweet Potato Puree with Rosemary and Onions
- We had tons of garnet yams
(15-20 small to medium sized) from the local natural foods store, which were the best tasting yams/sweet potatoes ever! Everyone loved these!
- We just sauteed some diced onion and added the onion and dried rosemary to the mashed sweet potatoes

Broccoli with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
- followed
EatN'Vegan's recipe but reduced the oil to 1-2 Tb and added some water.
- Everyone loved this - thanks aTxVegn!

Cashew Butter Puffs
- added cashew butter, honey, vanilla, and puffed wheat
- easy no-bake treat, but was slightly too sweet, so next time we'll reduce the sugar.

Soynog Almond Cookies
- followed a chocolate chip cookie recipe, didn't add the chocolate chips, and instead added some Silk Soynog and chopped almonds.
- turned out like a soft cake-like almond sugar cookie. The soynog flavor is subtle, and these are pretty good for a simple cookie, but it wasn't our favorite.

Maple Oatmeal Cookie Bites
(we mentioned these at the end of this blog)
- This time, we didn't use coconut, and we used canola oil and almond extract instead of margarine and vanilla extract.

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
3 c. rolled oats or multigrain oats
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. maple syrup
6 Tb or more water
5 Tb margarine melted, or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp or more cinnamon
optional: walnuts, almonds, raisins, chocolate, nutmeg, or allspice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, coconut, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, water, butter, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture. Add any optional ingredients, then mix until well blended.

Drop spoonfuls of dough 1-2 inches apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Flatten each cookie slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 20-22 cookies.

This week we also enjoyed stir fry with veggies and pineapple sauce, pita pockets stuffed with herbed mushrooms with white wine, and bread and lentil soup ready in the bread machine and crockpot.
Stir Fry:

Wheat Oatmeal Bread and Lentil Soup

So, back to school tomorrow, but only 3 weeks left! We'll be busy studying, but hopefully we can post weekly. Hope you all have a great week!

"Gratitude is miraculously infectious. The more you think about it the grander it becomes. The more you recognize the things you are thankful for the more thankful you become for the things you have." - Barbara Shanahan

Many blessings,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Vegetarian's Food Diary

This post will be our "food diary", posting pictures and short comments on them. We've been so busy the past few weeks, that this is our update post, and we have a lot to post about! So here goes...
  • Spanish 'Fiesta': Black beans, sauteed veggies, & homemade Spanish rice.
    • Added cumin, garlic, onion, and spicy-ness (cayenne or jalapeno powder).
    • This was so much more healthy and tasty than those cheap Mexican restaurants we used to go with our Dad when we were kids.
    • Used dried lima beans though, so technically it wasn't "fresh", but it was still good, creamy, and flavorful.
    • Didn't have celery or savory, but it would be good next time with celery, and maybe some spinach.
    • It could almost be turned into a bean was good dipping in thick slices of homemade bread.
    • Used Arrowhead Mills whole wheat bread mix, and made it in the bread machine, because we were just too short on time to make bread from scratch. We added some wheat bran for a bigger boost of fiber.
    • Made before, but this time bought Spectrum's Eggless Vegan Lite Canola Oil Mayonnaise (instead of Nasoya's Nayonnaise), and added more spicy mustard.
    • Mix in some mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions, top with nutritional yeast, and eat with cucumbers, and you have a great healthy sandwich!

  • The BEST Sweet Potatoes (actually garnet yams) with tofu apple granola topping (from Veg. Times Magazine Recipe)
    • So creamy, soft, and flavorful!
    • Nice combination with the topping - cinnamon, diced apples, granola, and maple syrup.
  • 'Fall Slaw': Red Cabbage Cranberry Orange Salad
    • We modified the Cooking Light recipe Red Cabbage Cranberry and Apple Slaw and decided to add refreshing orange instead.
    • Red cabbage with red wine vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest, a pinch of sugar, Eden Food's fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, and some chopped walnuts!
    • Wow! (Although not a pretty picture.) We are planning to bring this for Thanksgiving.
    • First time to try cooking with lentils, and they were good. This recipe tasted more like chili, with lots of spices, such as paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic, with a pinch of cocoa powder. It's way better than regular tacos (greasy, meaty, and salty), but it needs some work.
    • We REALLY liked it with lime. When heavily squeezed with lime juice, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, layered with avocado and tomatoes, and topped with Natalie's spicy Edamame Vegetable salsa, it tasted great!
    • Served with homemade corn tortillas baked in the oven. Made both chips and 'attempted' taco shells.

  • Other foods to mention:
    • Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning! We've been putting it on everything - from raw cucumbers to peas to soup to sandwiches. Different flavors from the different herbs/spices come out in different foods. For example, with peas, the seasoning has more of a lemon taste. With soup, the garlic and herbs came out more.
    • Fantastic Foods black bean mix. We turned it into soup and added balsamic vinegar and spices to enhance it. What made it taste less like a mix was adding freshly steamed zucchini and red bell pepper.

Anyways, we're getting ready for Thanksgiving and going down to Houston to visit family. Two Thanksgivings actually (one our Dad's side of the family, the other our mom's). Hopefully with two Thanksgivings we can find some vegetarian food to nibble.

It helps though, that we are making some food - like the cabbage slaw mentioned above, as well as a sweet potato dish (haven't decided yet) and broccoli with pumpkin vinaigrette (posted by EatN'Vegan). Oh, and can't forget about those cookies! We are going to experiment with Eggnog Almond Snickerdoodle Cookies and Cashew Butter Puffed Wheat Squares.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope it's a compassionate one with lots of veg-friendly food! Giving thanks for all of the vegetarians and vegans out in the world!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Overload

So this week we are suffering from brain overload! If you are in school, a word of advice - try to avoid biochemistry! We have an exam next Monday, and it seems like it covers a whole semester of information - 5 thick chapters of information! Not to bore you, but it covers graphs, calculations, molecular structures, and memorizing other stuff...Yuck! Those of you who have a college degree, how did you ever get through all of the stress? We are surly ready to graduate, but have to endure school through summer 08! It is especially unappealing to have to be in school here in Texas for that long, because it is STILL so HOT. (was about 85 today) :(

The only good thing to look forward to - Aggie Ring Day on Friday and Thanksgiving next week! Aggie Ring Day is a special occasion for seniors at Texas A&M University in which they receive their college ring. It is a symbol of prestige (that we are "seniors" or "graduates") and of pride for our school. Gig'em Aggies!

Anyways, with all of the upcoming stuff we have going on, this post will be a short post. We will be back, though, after the exam, and write a normal post next Tuesday.

What's one of your favorite winter seasonal foods you look forward to? We love anything orange, so sweet potatoes and pumpkin are great! But, we also look forward to egg nog and cranberries and Holiday baked goods! We bought Silk Egg Nog this week and it is even better than regular egg nog!

We also bought Odwalla Soy Protein Pumpkin Seasonal Flavor Drink. It is also very good! Like creamy pumpkin pie thinned out into a soy milk drink. We also used it in a pumpkin banana smoothie. Pumpkin makes things rich and decadent.

Also, we recently got introduced to pomegranates, as we have never tried them before. They are SOO good. The only bad thing is that they STAIN and the inside looks like honeycomb layers. Once we got the hang of getting out the seeds, they taste great - juicy juice and chewy seeds. We splurged and had So Delicious Pomegranate Chip soy ice cream for a snack today, and it was yummy.

Do any of you know how else to use pomegranates besides just eating them as is?

Non-food related, isn't this the cutest thing? This is one of our parent's cats, Joey chilling out in the bathroom sink.
How do you all stay upbeat in times of stress and overload?

Wishing everyone peace of mind,

Monday, November 5, 2007

Simple Tasty Foods

Been busy this week as usual, but enjoyed meals that were simple but delicious.

Sorry for a late post - we've been studying for an exam, and then we went home on Saturday and went to a surprise birthday party for our step-dad, who's turning the big 50 on Wednesday. He had a great time celebrating with family and friends.
(Our mom and step-dad)

Glad to be back cooking in the kitchen after this weekend though (the Mexican restaurant wasn't that vegetarian/vegan friendly).

Last Monday, we tried Polenta, and served it with a mushroom gravy and sautéed zucchini. We prepared the polenta via the microwave and baked for 6-7 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. The polenta was crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle. The gravy made it more flavorful, and this meal reminded us of cornbread dressing but more crispy. Next time we may broil the polenta to make it more crispy and then try a tomato sauce. Overall, it's always great to try something new!

We LOVED the pizza that we made on Tuesday! It's been too long since we made homemade pizza and pizza crust. LOVED the soft wheat herb pizza crust that we made. We tried a recipe from King Arthur's Whole Grain Cookbook (we basically love all the recipes we've tried from that book!) and the crust came out the softest we've ever made. Usually it get crispy on the edges. Anyways, we made the pizza simple but loaded with flavor - sliced tomatoes and mushrooms, fresh basil, and diced bell peppers and onion (the bell pepper was fresh from our grandparents' garden). For the sauce we just added a can of tomato sauce, 2 cloves of garlic, and some black pepper.
Another fresh creation - Potato Salad. We followed this recipe from vegweb, using lots of celery, no pickles, and some tumeric and nutritional yeast. We used golden new potatoes and they were creamy, not too starchy. Had lots of leftovers, great for a quick lunch!

Two weeks ago we made spinach mushroom-tofu fillo pockets; with the leftover filling, we used over angel hair pasta - yummy but very filling.

Today we made another simple but quick meal - something that even students living in a dorm could do. We microwaved green beans with red bell pepper, heated up butter beans in the microwave, and then mixed the beans with the green beans and had a tasty Bean-and-Bean dinner. We sprinkled some garlic, sage, and oregano too.

Speaking of beans, last Saturday, we made Black Bean Burgers and Carrot Fries (that we've mentioned before) for our mom and step-dad. They came up last weekend for the Texas A&M and Kansas football game. Too bad the Aggies didn't win. Our omni step-dad loved the burgers and even complimented that these were way better than the Morningstar Black Bean Burgers that he likes.

For our weekly baked goods:

Banana Pancakes

Graham Scones with Pecans and Maple Frosting
(we made these for our Nutrition and Dietetic Association Bake Sale)

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
(Cocoa and Raisin Spice)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- We just made these and are enjoying them hot out of the oven! MMMM!
- Used Sunspire Tropical Source Dairy-Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (really good!)

Anyways, this week we also tried Blue Diamond Almond Milk and we loved it with cereal, especially with Barbara's Bakery Shredded Spoonfuls and Nature's Path Heritage Flakes. We also made a smoothie with almond milk, peach yogurt, frozen bananas, some flax meal, and almond butter. Yum!

When we visited home this weekend, we stopped by the new HEB market (similar to their Central Market). We LOVED all of the produce, especially all of the apples. This week we've gotten Jazz, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fugi, Ambrosia, Sonya, Granny Smith, and Rome apples. We love our apples! We also tried an Asian Pear that was as big as a softball! For a week we were waiting for it to ripen, but it was still so firm; well, we found out that these pears don't soften, but rather are crispy and juicy, great on salads. We shared one huge pear and it was soo good! At HEB we also sampled their bread - here's a picture of one of us at the bakery area. This market was the busiest market we've every been too. It was a great grocery store, but too crowded to enjoy it to its finest.
So, we enjoyed baking and cooking this week and we are already planning for what to make for Thanksgiving. What are your favorite foods for the holidays?

"I think that one of the most effective ways to improve your life is simply to think in a more positive way."- Henrik Edberg, The Positivity Blog

(See here for a great post on becoming more positive!)

Kind regards,