About Me

I am a wife, work at home Mom, homeschooler to my 5 year old son, diaper-changer to my twins who will be 1 in October, Domestic Diva, Artist, & Chinese Medicine Practitioner ... who just happens to be Vegan ! I will be using the blog as much as I have time for as an outlet to vent, exclaim victory, and share family stories of events involving food. It's tough being Vegan in a Non-Vegan world ... even more tough living in Houston, Texas. Join me in sharing ideas, tips, recipes, etc. to make our lives a bit easier !

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Simple Food

Sometimes simple is BETTER. There are times when I WANT gourmet food with many steps to prepare ... and a sink full of dishes. There are times when I want comfort food and a casserole in the oven. And then there are SIMPLE meals. Just as much satisfaction with so much less work. :)

Today I am blogging about simple food ... that just happens to be QUICK food too. :) What is YOUR favorite simple dish/meal ?

Mine (hands down) is PASTA. Last night I made 10-minute pasta in one pan ... does it get any better than that ? I'm not including a recipe but rather the method I used. It seems a bit lengthy when typing it out but it's so quick !

1. Non-stick wok or deep skillet with water 1/2 way up the sides
2. Vegetable soup base (instead of salt)
3. Once the water was at a rolling boil I added in enough pasta (linguini) for 4
4. When the noodles were just shy of being done I drained the pasta water/broth off into a mug for later
5. I halved a pint of grape tomatoes, added some minced garlic, and tore in some basil (saving more for finishing)
6. Once all the liquid from the tomatoes was absorbed I added a handful of nutritional yeast and the cup of cooking liquid a little at a time to make for a "creamy" sauce.
7. That was it ... and if I had used angel hair pasta instead of linguini it would have been more like 6 minute pasta ! :)

It had such a great flavor and was mild enough for my oldest son and the babies too ... I just put the "baby" portions in the food chopper to break it down a bit. It's all to taste ... since we were catering to adults and children there was no "heat" but my husband was able to add hot sauce to his in the bowl.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

You say it's your birthday ! ...

Well, it's not MY birthday but the birthday of my twins (Avery & Catherine) ... ONE YEAR OLD ! ! ! :) I made some lovely Vegan cake bites and will be posting pics later today. Off to enjoy my babies. :)

I used a mix as time ran out and I needed something fast ! :) I used the Yellow Cake Mix from Cherrybrook Kitchen and it
turned out just fine ... tasted like (good) Nilla Wafers.

I didn't want a huge cake and tons of sugar so I simply dusted the mini-cakes with edible glitter.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's refreshing ...

It's refreshing to go somewhere for lunch and find things on the menu you can EAT. :) It's refreshing to ask for something without cheese and not be looked at like you are nuts. It's refreshing when you start in with "is xyz vegetarian" and are told "yes but if you are Vegan then ... would be an option". It's refreshing to find a staff member that clearly KNOWS what goes into the menu items.

We have family in town for the weekend and meals out are always interesting with 1 Omni Senior Citizen, 1 Vegetarian Adult, 2 Vegan Adults, 1 (picky) Vegetarian Child, and 2 Vegan Babies ! :) We ended up going to Berry Hill Baja Grill for lunch (last minute) and had quite a nice experience.

The first thing going for us was that we were early-birds and waltzed in at 11:15. You know you've got kids when that's a normal time to eat lunch! hahaha The second was that this is a restaurant/bar combo without table service which seemed to work to our advantage when we were able to seat ourselves and order when we were ready ... and were able to leave when the "natives got restless" as we had paid for our meal in advance. The third bonus as far as I am concerned was that they had an all-you-can-eat salsa bar + tortilla chips. Woo Hoo ! ;)

It's the small victories that mean the most! :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1, 2009 - Kickoff VeganMoFo

Today is the first day of VeganMoFo ... The Vegan Month of Food. I am going to join the "mob" and blog every day for the entire month. I needed to increase my blogging frequency and this is the PERFECT opportunity !

On the heals of my 28-Day Vegan Kick-start I am itching to get back some of my "convenience" foods.

Every day we eat ... for nutrition, for comfort, for a sense of community ... in social gatherings, at dining tables, on TV trays, and (sometimes) standing in front of the refrigerator. I have a degree in nutrition. Take from that what you will ... there are plenty of Respiratory Therapists that smoke! :) Taking your own advice is always the difficult part isn't it?

My husband and I are self-proclaimed foodies and enjoy cooking together ... too much sometimes. :) Some people could care less about food ... I am not one of those people ! It's not ALL about recreating dishes from my past pre-Veg life ... modification of lifestyle not withstanding.

Sometimes it's about looking into the eyes of my children and wanting to create nutritious meals that taste GREAT. My husband was brought up in a household where meals were HEALTHY at the expense of flavor ... part of the Fat Free Revolution in the late 80's when plastic cheese and rice cakes reined supreme. :)

Sometimes it's about wanting a chocolate chip cookie the size of a saucer ... or ooey gooey pizza that you would SWEAR has "real" cheese on it. Regardless of the reason I am always searching for innovation in my Vegan kitchen.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Site Overhaul ...

Okay so this entry is not food related but I just wanted to post a "bear with me as I overhaul my blog" note. So ... for the ONE person out there reading my blog please bear with me as I overhaul my blog ! ! ! :) LOL

Monday, August 31, 2009

Yummmmmy Umami

Do you ever have one of those meals that just leaves you wanting ... MORE ? ? ? You know that you have had more than a portion but yet you could easily keep eating it. Yummmmmy Umami flavor is what I am talking about. There is no recipe here ... just a little of this and a little of that. The next time we make it I will post pics but last night I was too busy EATING the food to photograph it ! :)

Homemade fried rice ... precooked rice, canola oil, stir fry veggies, sesame oil, light tamari , ginger, garlic and prepared "egg" (tofu, ground tumeric, Bragg's, & pink salt). This was a late-night convenience meal and EXACTLY what we were looking for to fill the void left by a lack of access to such establishment. LOL We had things leftover but (of course) you could use freshly made items ... the rice is best for this when it's NOT freshly made as it tends to get gummy. If you want to just throw it together as quick as possible I'd  use veggies off of the salad bar and ready-rice.

We simply started with a hot pan, the canola oil, ginger, & garlic ... then add the veggies. When they are tender and starting to brown slightly add the rice to the pan. Now you can stir in the tofu "eggs" followed by a tiny bit of sesame oil and tamari (or your favorite soy sauce) to taste.

The key to the tofu is to have it done beforehand ... crumble an extra firm tofu (refrigerated version works best here) into a dry (non-stick) pan, add tumeric until it's the color you want it, a dash of pink salt to give it a bit of sulphur flavor, and a few sprays (or drizzle) of Bragg's to add some body. A spatula with holes or a potato masher works well to break up the tofu into tiny pieces.

Of course if you don't have fresh garlic and ginger you can used ground and combine it with the oil in the pan. There is a version for everyone here ... make it all fresh ingredients & brown rice with minimal oil or closer to take-out with frozen veg, plenty of oil, white rice, & dripping with soy sauce ... or anywhere in between.

Happy Eating !

Friday, August 28, 2009

PCRM Event

Here is a link to some info on the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart.
21 Day Kickstart

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's Been a While !

Ok so once again it's been a good while since my last entry.
It's not that I haven't eaten some amazing Vegan food ... or that I haven't faced struggles living in Houston, TX as a Vegan ... but just that LIFE has happened and writing a blog entry has fallen to the bottom of my list. :)

I am writing today (briefly) about a late-night episode of Good Eats! (Food Network) I watched recently on the topic of Avocados ... Curious Yet Tasty Avocado Experiment.

My mind always starts in with questions of "what could I substitute?" so when Alton Brown started talking about looking at an avocado as one would an egg both my husband and I snapped to and eagerly watched !

The recipe I have decided to try my hand at today is the Avocado Ice Cream. I have prepared the base using soy milk in place of the whole milk and soy cream in place of the heavy cream.

I have added a salted caramel syrup made from:
1 cup of light brown sugar
1 cup of soy cream
1 tsp Maldon sea salt (flakes)

I will post the results asap. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Words ... Vegan Marshmallows

Long before the thought even entered my mind that it was about time I make the transition from Vegetarian to Vegan marshmallows were off limits due to the gelatin used to make them.

There was a short period of time in my early college days when I went on a "marshmallow bender" and ate as many as I could ... the giant puffy kind ... that swell in your stomach and make you beg for mercy once they have stewed there for a while waiting to be digested ! Ah, the ignorance of youth.

This also reminds me of a couple years later -- after transferring from my Community College to a University. On a pit-fire excursion for ceramics class I was tempted by marshmallows dancing on twigs in the crackling fire ... that charred exterior with the molten insides that I remembered from childhood dangling there and calling my name. As I had the PETA fact sheets playing through in my head I also had my (rather charming) professor taunting me ... "just ONE marshmallow? How long has it been since you've had a marshmallow? Oh, wouldn't it be awesome after all this time!" Be it the crush I had on him, the lateness of the hour, or just simply being human I ate the bruleed morsel and felt a moment of ecstasy ... followed by a rush of regret. Yes, I am still talking about food here and yes it was "just a freakin' marshmallow" I didn't 'fell' a deer or anything but to me it was just as bad. All of that work supporting my 'cause' for what? I quickly let myself off the hook for the event -- I was human after all. My only veggie friend at the time came to the pit armed with veggie dogs and mangled coat hangers so that we too could participate. Good times!

All of this rambling brings me to present day when such a thing exists as a VEGAN MARSHMALLOW sans gelatin. They must be refrigerated, are a bit pricey, and the cost of shipping is rather cost-prohibitive but alas they exist. This elusive Vegan mallow can be difficult to get your hands on ... to my knowledge there are 2 brands only - one air puffed version & one gourmet/homemade style. The later was found on a recent trip to Whole Foods Market in the refrigerator case between goat's milk yogurt and a kefir drink so it's amazing that I even stopped to look at the little squares of goodness because at first glance (given their location) I thought they were a farmer's cheese or paneer of some sort. There was no price tag to be found but I knew they would be around $6 and justified the purchase as my "treat" for the week. Now, trying to explain to a 5 year old boy who has never tasted a marshmallow before that he can only have ONE is a whole other story for another blog entry. :)

Sweet & Sara (R) makes the luscious homemade/gourmet style Vanilla Marshmallow I speak of . Though I have not had the opportunity to try the air puffed variety they are made by Chicago Soydairy and are called Dandies Vegan Marshmallows. I found them online while drooling over the junk-food offerings at Food Fight! Vegan Grocery.

I am excited to make some Vegan S'mores with my oldest son later today!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fun With Food !

No, my life is not ALL about food but I am a self-proclaimed "foodie" so it's a pretty significant portion of my daily routine. :) I have been having lots of fun with food since my last entry ... I should have taken better mental notes though because some of it is escaping me at the moment. I will start with this morning and work my way back ... or try to anyway. ;)

A recent thumbing-through of old PETA materials brought a few dark horse products to light for me ... things at the regular old mega mart that I wouldn't normally look twice at ... pizza crust in a tube being one of them.

1.) This morning I pulled out the Pillsbury Original Pizza Crust, unrolled it , pressed it out a bit, and brushed it with melted Earth Balance. Then I sprinkled on a mixture of cinnamon + sugar that I keep on hand for toast, rolled it up, sliced it into rounds, and placed it on my Silpat lined baking sheet. :) After about 25 minutes at 350 degrees I had my very own cinnamon rolls ! Yes, they were simple and less nutritious than other breakfast foods but they were nostalgic ... memories of making cinnamon rolls from scratch with my Grandma Gobin flooded my mind. Other than the time and labor involved in the original these were also not laden with lard. :)

2.) Recently we used the Pillsbury Thin Pizza Crust for making pizza as a family. My FAVORITE pizza sauce (hands down) is Muir Glen ! I hate to even admit it but until we discovered theirs my favorite pizza sauce was one that came in a kit ... you know the one with the chef on the box. ;) Sad but true. Anyway, we made a simple one with just "cheese" and one with 1/2 pineapple + 1/2 mushroom,olive, and fresh basil with garlic. So so so YUMMY ! Our oldest son (and the only one old enough for pizza) likes pizza that has "orange & white cheese" so we used both the Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet(R) Mozzarella style and Cheddar style blocks which I threw into the food processor to shred. Everyone enjoyed it more than words can express! Yes, we could have gone to the new pizza place that offers Vegan pizza but we would have missed out on the bonding experience ... and our wallets would be much lighter. :)
3.) We had a friend and her son over three times since my last post, once for a snack and twice for dinner. She is in transition from a healthier version of the "standard American diet" to a Vegetarian diet. In this time of change I feel it's important to support her ! So, we had meals that are easy.

The first meal was pasta with sun dried tomato pesto & olive/mushroom tapenade (super-quick in the food processor) with broccoli romanesco and garlic bread. I am drooling thinking about how tasty it was !

The second was a simple meal of spring rolls (purchased at Costo) with a few dipping sauces and an Asian spinach salad with edamame, sliced almonds, and mandarin orange segments with a soy-ginger dressing. YUMMY !
To break the ice (food wise) on our first play date I made the very best peanut butter cookies I have ever tasted ... and they were Vegan. Even my husband who doesn't eat cookies ate 3 or 4 !

I used the recipe I found on the Earth Balance site and just added peanut butter chips. Between 3 adults and 2 little cookie monsters we ate 2/3 of the cookies that afternoon ... and the remaining dozen were split between my cookie jar and a goodie bag for the road. :)

That's all I can think of for now but you better believe it's a daily joy to discover awesome shortcuts to incredible Vegan edibles !

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Today we went into town so to speak ... we live so far North in Houston that certain areas of it seem as though they take forever to navigate ... as though we live in the country and have to "go into town". :) Living in Austin around the corner from Central Market would spoil anyone let alone self-proclaimed foodies so it was a rare treat to visit Houston's Central Market. I was like a kid in a candy store as we navigated the winding isles wondering what would be around the next corner. As I peered around the end of one aisle a middle-aged lady wielding a mini-cart clipped me and as the searing pain of metal against my ankle set in I managed to utter "oh, that's okay" when given an apology. It was an accident after all.

I couldn't help but flash to a memory from the Westgate Central Market in Austin about 5 1/2 years ago when an actor (T.L. Jones) of recent No Country For Old Men fame ran over my foot with his shopping cart while making a b-line for the beer/wine section of the store ... I would not have even given him a second thought if it were not for the fact that I was about 7 months pregnant at the time and that he didn't even seem to notice me being there let alone say "excuse me".

Okay, that has nothing to do with the topic at hand but nonetheless part of my HerStory. :) So, we had a great family outing to CM and came up with endless possibilities for this week's menu plan. There are (as I have discussed in prior entries) many Vegan options in the traditional grocery store but it's just nice to go to a specialty market and have even more choices. The sheer excitement of seeing Banyan Foods Vegan Egg Rolls in several varieties invokes visions of a toddler with the first taste of chocolate.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comfort Food

A recent stressful event left me searching the pantry for ... comfort.

My newly adopted Vegan life gave me pause at a moment when I normally would have eaten my way mindlessly through this and that. There was a time when I would have done so without even a second thought. I would have made a blue box of mac & cheese (you know the one) and would have polished off well more than a single serving. Once upon a time I would have found solace at the bottom of a pint container of ice cream or in an ooey gooey cheesy pizza. Gluttony? Sure. But more than that the "comfort" should always outweigh the guilt. Right? Sometimes it is more simple as with Ramen Noodle Soup when I am feeling a bit under the weather or mashed potatoes when I have an upset stomach.

All of this leads me to these questions -- 1. When do we learn to turn to food for comfort? 2. Why do some people eat with their emotions and others not? 3. If it's not acceptable to eat emotionally then why does our culture have the phrase "comfort food" ?

There are certain food associations that are quite clear in etiology for me as with the soup. I have memories from childhood of my Grandmother making me Ramen Noodle Soup with crushed saltine crackers when I was sick. Of course it was cheap and had whatever animal extractive was cheapest but the nostalgia is there ... so now I make it with the Asian noodles and my Better Than Bouillon paste (Vegetable Base) and VIOLA! it's Vegan Noodle Soup. :) Mashed potatoes are an easy one with the addition of Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread and Silk Unsweetened Soymilk.

I am using my transition from Vegetarian to Vegan not only to change what I eat but how and when I eat it. Rather than searching for the Vegan Mac & Cheez that comes closest to the blue box version in order to facilitate my "comfort food fix" I took the opportunity to examine why it has given me "comfort" in the past. Was it the flavor, the texture, the process of making it, or was it tied to something else ? ? ? I don't have all the answers yet but it's a work in progress.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grocery Store "Finds"

As a wife and mother it seems as though I find myself cruising the isles of the grocery store pretty often. I don't mind it at all as a diversion tactic with the twins who are now getting close to eight months old. Before having children my husband and I would linger in the isles of the original Whole Foods Market in Austin (before the monster world-headquarters was born) and spend Saturday afternoons deciding what we wanted to eat for the week.

In Austin it seemed as though anything and everything was at our fingertips ... and we took it for granted. :) Now, in Houston, it's most certainly more work to get the products we have gotten used to having in our daily lives. That said, we live in North Houston (Tomball technically) so Whole Foods (or Central Market for that matter) is a "trip" rather than a jaunt around the corner. Of course I am just whining and as a "responsible Vegetarian" I need to be eating at home more and learning to cook basic foods with items available at the regular old grocery store. :)

Not all Vegetarian/Vegan foods are healthy nor do I feel the need to eat certain foods just because they are Vegan. My biggest guilty pleasure lately was Sweet Chili Doritos ... MSG and all ! ! ! I didn't let my oldest son even try them because I knew they were "bad" but now they have DISAPPEARED off of the shelves ... everywhere. Has this happened all over the country or were they just not popular here ? ? ? Were my husband and I the only ones eating them ? ? ? Who knows ? On a positive note I don't NEED the Sweet Chili Doritos and my waistline will appreciate a more figure friendly snack. :)

I am excited when I see "normal" foods that just happen to be Vegan. In one of my favorite magazines (VegNews) they have a blurb every month that highlights such products. I smile every time I can go to a movie (not very often these days) and have Twizzlers. :) No, they are not health food but they are a nostalgic part of movie-going for me ... memories of going to see Arachnophobia and using Twizzlers to tickle my Aunt's leg and freak her out ! LOL

In closing, here's to finding the extraordinary in the every day items we encounter !

Saturday, May 23, 2009

No, I am not a "Hippie" !

Recently a friend of mine said I came up in a convo with someone I don't know based on lifestyle choices that are seemingly unconventional. After a complete stranger has queried as to whether or not I am a "hippie" I decided to post this to my blog. :)

No I am not a Hippie.
Yes I am 100% Vegetarian (aka Vegan)
Yes I get enough protein
Yes I intend for my children to be Vegetarian (while I support their right to choose later in life)
Yes I gave birth to twins at home
Yes I take my children to the pediatrician when appropriate
No it's not your business whether or not I choose to vaccinate my children
Yes I have breastfed all three of my children
No I do not have a problem with those who cannot breastfeed

Monday, May 18, 2009

My lovely hubbie (and children) gave me a laptop for Mother's Day ! ! ! I was sooooo excited.You wouldn't think that it would make such a difference but with 7+ month old twins to take care of it's a hassle to boot up a "regular old PC" ... esp. when it's connected to the living room TV and used with a mini-wireless-keyboard.

Since then I have been much more in-touch with family & friends. After hearing from the "100th" person that they did 'whatever' on facebook I decided to take the plunge and sign up. WOW ! I had no idea it would be so great ... I never did all that much with myspace and just thought it would be the same old same old. Nope.

I am doing pretty well on the "Vegan-Front" these days ... just taking it one meal at a time. I think something that helps is that I am not focusing on what I can't eat now but what I should be eating as a responsible Vegetarian ... not to mention someone with a nutrition degree. :) It's all feeling like second nature. Houston is most certainly more of a challenge than Austin (or San Marcos for that matter) to find products but then I don't live where a trip to Whole Foods is easy. This is good in that it forces me to find the "gems" among common grocery store items. :) I think my favorite find in the sweets arena is this chocolate spread made by a Kosher food company (Bright Morning I think is the name) ... it's like Nutella without the hazelnuts or dairy. Yummmy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I am so bad at keeping a blog ! :)

Okay so it has been over a year since my last post and what I did not know at that time was that it wasn't my second child but my second and third ... TWINS ! I don't have time to post more than that right now but needless to say life is crazy as usual. :)