Friday, December 12, 2008

Whats next? (intro to quinoa)

Yesterday was Day 10 of vegan nation. This meant oatmeal for breakfast, bean soup with toast for lunch, and BBQ tofu over quinoa with kale for supper. During this diet I re-discovered my uncles award winning barbecue sauce in the fridge. It really is award winning, he travels around with his group "The Bastey Boys" and enters down home BBQ competitions in Texas and Tennessee and does pretty good! Every x-mas he gives lots of meat treats to the family and, being vegetarian, I always get a big ol' jar of BBQ sauce. It is so flippin' good, I could drink the stuff. Because I never cook meat, I always forget it is in the fridge. I found it the other day when I went trawling for flavor. Chop had taken out the little fake chicken nugget thingies and we went from dipping those in the sauce to dipping corn chips. I would have dipped carrot sticks in the sauce if I had any carrots at my disposal. This reminded me to marinate the tofu and led to a delicious dinner last night. It was even perfect serving the kale on the side, like real southern cooking minus the lard (I used olive oil)

Quinoa (kee-nwa) is an ancient grain and a super protein. It is light and fluffy which is nice compared to some heavier grains. I highly suggest giving it a whirl if you've never tried it.
To make:
1 Cup Quinoa-rinsed
2 cups water
Put both in pot, bring to boil on the stove then bring down to simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Thats it, easy peasy! Add a little S+P to taste if you'd like

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Strolling folly (some vegan ideas)

The stores on the island have been opening for Christmas strolls here and there. Last night they were open and I went a strollin'. It was a quiet night and I was by myself, very nice indeed. Everything is lit up on the streets but there are very few people and just a few stores open. Because of this quiet atmosphere, the store owners were all up for a chat and I had a very nice time conversing and taking advantage of the discounts, on the otherwise expensive boutiquie merchandise. I was so relaxed and I helped myself to a chocolate chip cookie at one store and then a second cookie as I browsed. I was actually thinking as I ate the cookie, how the last time I was around these cookies I was cleansing and therefore could not partake in the sugar, egg, flour fiesta. Ah ha ha. As I was leaving I was offered a cookie to bring home to Chopper. This was when I was brought back down from my elevated Christmas cookie state and realized that I was not supposed to be eating these cookies. They certainly were not vegan being made with eggs and butter, and this was not only unfair to the animals but also to Chopper who has been very good at keeping to the diet. I did bring a cookie home to Chopper and he was very happy to indulge.

Chopper likes to have meat every so often, but loves to eat cheese and eggs on a daily basis. I had noticed that I was finding ways to sneak cheese into more and more meals to make them more satisfying for him. What has been interesting these last ten days is not only how easy it has been for him to leave eggs and dairy out, but also what he has done to substitute them.

1. Lots of avocado. Chop has added avocado to almost every meal, it is a fat that satisfies on many levels. Usually he toasts a piece of whole grain toast, puts half an avocado on top, drizzles it with olive oil and a little pepper.

2. He eats oatmeal every morning with nuts and dried fruit. Generally eggs would be quicker to prepare, but he has just gotten up a little earlier in the morning to make sure he has time to make the oatmeal. This is something that is real habit changing, just doing it for 10 days will now set a precedent for his normal morning schedule.

3.We've been eating lots of beans. This was not a conscious move on our part, but when it comes to meal time a bean soup or bean burrito with avocado just seems like the natural choice.

4.Last night he had some soy cheese that my mother had given us. This isn't something that we'd normally buy or enjoy for that matter, but last night it called out and Chop made a little macaroni and cheese with some left over brown rice pasta. He said it was satisfying but he wasn't craving cheese and could have done without it.

Well now, is anyone else experimenting? I'd love to hear about it...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vegan-not restaurant friendly (miso gravy-YUM!)

The biggest issue with eating a vegan diet is eating out at restaurants. Working in the industry, I appreciate what it takes for a chef to create a meal and then recreate it every night. To change a dish in the middle of a busy Saturday night can really throw off the server and the kitchen. For anyone who is not vegan, the same rules still apply and although the server and kitchen may be more than happy to accommodate you, it is still nice to recognize what that entails. For anyone who does have dietary restrictions as severe as no animal products or even a wheat allergy, it is nice to call the restaurant ahead of time to see what may be done for you. This also allows them to prepare if they need special ingredients prepped.

I didn't call ahead the other night when I went out with friends. We went to a place in Boston that is known for the homemade pasta dishes. A key ingredient in pasta is egg, I did the best I could ordering but still broke the diet. I mean no disrespect to people that really commit to being vegan and in turn, are unable to eat places that the rest of us go all the time. It takes real commitment and conviction and for good reason. But this night was once again a special night with friends (the same friends as a matter of fact) and I made the exception.

The next morning I was back on track, fortunately bloody mary's are vegan (hehe). We went for brunch and my food choices were slim but I knew what I could have to drink.

Miso Gravy (Soooo good, great on sweet potatoes and greens)

1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Tbl Dried thyme
1 small onion diced
3 Tbl flour
2 Tbl Miso (I used mellow white, whatever you prefer)
1 cup of soy milk (or any kind of milk)
splash of tamari or sot sauce
S + P to taste

Saute onion in OO until translucent
Add Thyme and continue to saute
Sprinkle flour over onions and thyme until they are all coated
Put miso in 1/4 cup of soy milk and blend until miso is dissolved
Add miso and soy milk mixture and mix evenly
slowly stir in remaining soy milk until it starts to thicken
Give it a taste if it still needs a little kick add a splash of soy sauce, otherwise just add salt and pepper to taste. (Depending on what kind of miso you use it could need more salt flavor less)

Chopper enjoying his greens, sweet potatoes, and seitan smothered in miso gravy. mm mmmm