Vegan Menu Planning Monday

This week I’m going to work on cleaning out some freezer food. It’s great that I’m finally putting things up for a busy week, because this is the busy week I’ve been saving for!

We’re still on the eating plan and going to the gym 5 times a week and we’re starting to see a difference in how our clothes fit. Woo hoo!

Breakfast of the week: Kashi Go Lean Crunch (alternated with oatmeal)with unsweetened vanilla almond milk with banana, apple, or blueberries

Sweet of the week: slow cooker Mexican chocolate black bean brownies

Lunch Soup of the week: various soups that are hanging out in the freezer – this is the week to make a dent in them!

** Salads with each meal **

Monday: veggie loaf with mashed cauliflower with mushroom gravy and steamed veggies

Tuesday: slow cooker experiment

Wednesday: slow cooker polenta with tofu ricotta, white beans, and marinara sauce

Thursday: mexican burger topped with guacamole with green chili parsnips and spanish rice

Friday: dinner out – PF Chang’s?

Saturday: Black bean sweet potato chili

Sunday: slow cooker polenta with tofu ricotta, white beans, and marinara sauce

I Love Fall Veggie Menu Monday

I love fall. I have the windows open to the fresh air, and have major cravings for swiss chard, kale, apples, soups and pumpkin in everything!

This is my second week of making a batch of muffins for my morning sweet fix. I’ve been sneaking in flax and oat bran for good measure.

I also decided I need a cookie fix and I had leftover canned pumpkin – the soft pumpkin pecan cookies are crazy good – very cakelike with a decadent brown sugar glaze.

To counteract the cookies I have a super healthy soup for lunch. The red kale is so pretty and it was a great way to use some of the last of the basil from my garden.

Muffin of the week: Low fat Apple Walnut Muffins

Cookie of the week: Soft Pumpkin Pecan Iced Cookies

Lunch Soup of the week: Red Kale and White Bean Soup

Monday: Leftover Pasta with pumpkin mushroom sauce (I will post recipe later). It’s a combo of these recipes and my own touch: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=550003# and http://www.momadvice.com/blog/2009/09/creamy-pumpkin-pasta.html

Tuesday: Tofu stir-fry with bok choy, and other greens in a soy ginger sauce with green beans in black bean sauce and steamed dumplings

Wednesday: Chickenl-ess Parmigiano with vegan Cesar salad and garlic bread

Thursday: Slow cooker Lentil Chard Soup or Curried lentil with greens soup

Friday: Homemade biscuits and veggie sausage gravy

Saturday: Gumbo of some kind – maybe z’Herbes

Sunday: Clean out the fridge veggie soup made in the slow cooker and fresh bread recipe from sparkpeople

Pesto Anyone?

basilI have 3 kinds of basil this year Italian, lemon, and Thai all growing in my garden. Some are in the veggie bed and I have others in containers. If you have no space you can even grow some inside on a sunny window sill.

If you don’t have a garden you should be able to get locally grown basil at your farmers market, or local natural foods store at this time of the year. You can get fresh herbs in the winter, but they are expensive and they don’t taste as good to me.

Pesto is fragrant mixture of herbs and nuts ground into a thick paste with olive oil. And there are dozens of variations.

Traditional Basil Pesto

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 – 1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional – add salt to taste if you are leaving out or use a vegan substitute)

Put basil, garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, nuts, and cheese if using into a food processor. Process the pesto using the pulse setting, so you can still have a few small chunks of nuts for texture. Add more oil if the mixture is too thick. Taste and add more garlic, salt, or cheese until you love what you have and can’t wait to eat it.

What to do with it?

  • Toss with pasta and top with fresh ground pepper
  • Spread on a pizza crust instead of red sauce
  • Put in mashed potatoes
  • Add into a soup (minestrone is great for this)
  • Mix into your scrambled tofu in the morning
  • Blend with silken tofu for a perfect dairy free dip

Ok, so I’ve sold you on trying to make pesto, but you don’t have any pine nuts? Or maybe your basil didn’t do so good this year. Now it’s time to get creative. First off you can substitute any nuts for the pine nuts. I used almonds in mine. Why not try pistachios or walnuts?

Use the recipe above for general proportions, but realize you will have to taste as you go even more since some herbs have a stronger taste than others. You’ll begin to notice how the oils of the bruised herbs smell mingled with the smell of the nut you chose.  And then you’ll know if you need to add more of another ingredient.

  • A few combinations to try:
  • Arugula (Rocket) and Pistachio
  • Oregano and Walnut
  • Sage with Pine nuts and a little lemon juice
  • Mint and Almond
  • Rosemary and hazelnut
  • Tarragon and no nuts at all

If you need more ideas take a look at this post on the gardenWeb herb forum.

Save your new creation for a winter surprise! Oil an ice cube tray and put your freshly made pesto into the slots. Once the cubes are frozen, remove them from the try and place into a freezer bag. Now in January they’ll be waiting to go into your steaming pot of minestrone!

Vegan Watermelon Gazpacho

watermelon_day_smNothing says summer has arrived like a chilled soup. When it’s so hot you’re sweating and the a/c is working as hard as it can, a chilled soup can make your whole day. Gazpacho is like a cool, liquid salad. It goes down easy, you don’t have to heat up the house to make it, and it cools you from the inside out. That’s my kind of hot weather dinner!

Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 3 cups watermelon chucks, seeded with rind removed
  • 2 cups heirloom tomato chunks
  • ½ cucumber (peeled if it is not organic or is waxed)
  • 1 small bell pepper (green is fine, but purple and yellow add a nice color)
  • 1 small hot pepper of your choice, seeded with the ribs removed, and chopped
  • 1 lime or lemon, juiced
  • ½ – 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 – 3 Tbs. olive oil (use less if you are cutting down on fat or calories)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil (lemon or lime basil works great if you have some growing in your garden)
  • Big handful of fresh mint leaves only – no stems (orange or lime mint is perfect)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Pepper to taste

If you hate hot foods you can leave this out completely or choose a mild variety like a banana pepper. If you like it hot I recommend the heirloom variety Bulgarian carrot pepper. Really any hot or mild pepper you like or just have lying around would work fine, but it needs to be fresh. Don’t forget to use gloves if it is an extremely hot variety so you don’t transfer the oil to your skin. It’s no fun to rub it in your eye!

Mince the cucumber, green pepper, basil, mint, and cilantro and set aside. Puree everything else in a blender or food processor until relatively smooth. Add in the minced veggies and herbs. Stir with a spoon to mix everything together.

(To make a smooth soup place everything but the cilantro in a blender or food processor, and puree the heck out of it. You will still have specks of tomato, cucumber, and green pepper skins to add a little texture and color. You can keep blending it until it is a smooth as you want it.)

Before serving take a final taste and decide if you need to adjust the salt and pepper, or add any more herbs or lime juice. Once it’s the way you like it, put it in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Garnish with the chopped cilantro, and a few sprigs of fresh mint. It will be a beautiful refreshing treat!

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Stevia

My first try using stevia and it turned out pretty good. The muffins didn’t rise as much as I hoped, but they are really tasty!

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Stevia

1 cup Rolled Oats
2 Tb. Flax Seed Meal (ground flax)
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. stevia (taste the batter and add more if needed – but only an 1/8 of tsp. at a time.)
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp. Ginger, ground
3 Tbl. Egg white or 1 Egg, or substitute that equals 1 egg
3/4 cup Non-fat Milk, soy, rice, or almond
1/4 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1 cup Blueberries
1/4 cups Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 and oil a 12 muffin tin. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl mix egg white, milk, and applesauce. Add dry ingredients to wet, mix and add blueberries and pecans. Put in muffin tins and bake about 15 minutes.

My next experiment will be tonight. I’m thinking strawberries with almonds…

Nutrition Facts from http://recipes.sparkpeople.com

Stevia Blueberry Pecan Muffins
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 101.3
Total Fat 3.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0.3 mg
Sodium 232.5 mg
Potassium 144.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.3 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
Sugars 1.8 g
Protein 3.8 g
Vitamin A 0.2 %
Vitamin B-12 1.0 %
Vitamin B-6 3.6 %
Vitamin C 1.1 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.2 %
Calcium 10.3 %
Copper 7.9 %
Folate 3.5 %
Iron 7.4 %
Magnesium 10.7 %
Manganese 60.6 %
Niacin 4.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.7 %
Phosphorus 15.2 %
Riboflavin 4.2 %
Selenium 10.8 %
Thiamin 11.4 %
Zinc 6.7 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Vegan Chocolate Coffee Smoothie

Doesn’t sound much like a smoothie does it? My partner is a fruit hater. Unripe bananas and apples are about all I can get past her. She doesn’t like the mush of fruit and claims it’s just a texture thing. This is my attempt to get some fruit in her hidden in with the coffee and chocolate!

Vegan Chocolate Coffee Smoothie -serves 2

  • 1 1/2 banana (already frozen or you will need to add ice)
  • 1 cup blueberries (again – already frozen or you will need to add ice)
  • 1/2 cup cold strong coffee (cold brewed coffee is best – here’s a cheap recipe that needs no new kitchen equipment)
  • 1 1/2 – 2  cups chocolate almond milk (I used unsweetened)
  • 1 -2 squeezes of Trader Joe’s Organic Chocolate Syrup (to taste)

Add everything in a blender. Start on chop, then gradually up the speed. You may need to add more liquid if it’s too thick and ‘freezes up’.

You can use fruit that’s not frozen, but I like the thick texture that frozen fruit creates.

I love cold brewed coffee and if you find you do – get a Toddy Maker like I have. It’s super easy to use and you make a whole pound at t a time. If you won’t use it fast enough you can freeze the extra in ice cube trays and thaw them as you need them.

Finally Back Vegan Menu Monday

I haven’t been menu planning lately. I’m more sorry about the extra money and calories I’ve spent the past month. So today is my new beginning. Back to healthy eating and saving money for more jewelry making classes!

I want to get my energy back up for exercising, doing my new found hobby, and just feeling better in general.  I started my day with a new coffee fruit smoothie. Great to get those fruit hating significant others to get their daily fruit in. I’ll post this

Monday: Riblets with mashed potatoes and green beans

Tuesday: Vegan Dad’s Cajun Chickpea cakes with dirty rice and mashed sweet potatoes

Wednesday: Fried rice and veggie tofu stirfry

Thursday: Black eyed pea quinoa patties with mushroom sauce and steamed broccoli

Friday: Veggie dogs and veggie burgers on the grill (with chili and slaw – Carolina style)

Saturday: Dinner Out

Sunday:  Boca Chicken Patty Parmigiana with Whole Wheat Angel Hair and salad

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