Monday, January 24, 2011

Hot Soup on a Cold Day!

Hello friends! It was rather chilly here in Oklahoma City last night, so I was inspired to make my Vegan Potato Soup. Don't worry carnivores, I have included an optional toppings list that will satisfy you as well :) Makes great leftovers too, so don't worry about making too much!

Vegan Potato Soup
makes 8-10 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
1 white onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 cups water or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp blackening seasoning or Old Bay
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups plain soymilk or almond milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Hot Sauce
1 bag frozen sweet corn
1/2 bag frozen peas

Heat the oil over medium in a large dutch oven or soup pot. When hot add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes more, adding more oil as needed. Turn the heat to high and add the vegetable stock or water. Scrape the bottom of the pan and get all the bits unstuck. Bring to a boil and add the seasoning, boil for about 10 minutes. Stir together the flour and soymilk and slowly pour into the soup. Continue to boil for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender then turn the heat down to low. Season with salt and pepper then blend briefly with an immersion blender, leaving lots of chunks of potatoes. Add the hot sauce, corn and peas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve with toppings.

Optional Toppings (warning: this will no longer be vegan! lol)
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Bacon bits
Chunks of ham
Sliced green onion
Crushed crackers
Extra hot sauce

*A word on vegetable stock....I use a "better than bouillon" vegetable paste, dissolving a teaspoon of paste in some of the hot water. Its more cost effective than boxed or canned vegetable stock.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ode to Vegetables

As I munched on raw veggies the other day, this came to mind. It's a verse from my favorite childhood book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Hmmm....I wonder if this is why I love vegetables so much?! :)

I love carrot tops better than lollipops
and peas if you please, instead of bread and cheese!
McGregor's got an acre full of crunchy treats for me!

There's just nothing like the crunchy texture and explosive flavor that you get from raw veggies. It can't be beat! And the beauty is you can eat as much as you want and not worry about sodium, calories, fat, or cholesterol. Also your body immediately reaps the benefits of the living energy in the raw foods, and will thank you for it in the form of energy and focus, PLUS the moisture content hydrates you. I absolutely love to pack a bag of mixed veggies such as baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and celery for work....they are fabulous to keep at my side all 12 hours and munch on whenever I get hungry or bored. Then if I have leftover veggies at the end of the week, I either make a soup out of them or turn them into juice!
Veggie sushi is also a favorite of mine. Here's a recipe I know you will enjoy making. It's not only delicious, but it also makes a great packed lunch during the work week and is fun to do!

Veggie Sushi
makes 1 roll, about 8 pieces

1 sheet Nori (toasted seaweed sheets, found in most grocery stores and specialty food stores)
1/2 cup sushi rice (found at Asian grocery stores)
2 slices avocado
2 strips of steamed sweet potato
2 thin strips fresh jalapeno
1 strip cucumber flesh
1 Tbsp Spicy Mayo, recipe follows

Place the Nori onto a bamboo sushi mat lined with plastic wrap, shiny side down. Wet your fingertips with either water or sushi seasoning and spread the rice evenly over the Nori, leaving a 1-inch border around the top and bottom. Place the remaining ingredients side by side on top of the rice in rows, then moisten the borders with water and roll using the bamboo mat. Let rest for a minute then slice into 6-8 pieces and serve with a side of spicy mayo or store-bought Sweet Chili dipping sauce.

Spicy Mayo

1/2 cup Hellman's Mayo or Japanese Mayo (found at Asian grocery stores, I use Kewpie brand)
1-2 tsp Shriracha (Thai hot sauce)
1/4 lemon, squeezed and seeds removed

Mix the mayo and Sriracha until blended and add the lemon juice. Add more Sriracha until it suites your level of spiciness.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Juicy Inspiration

This week has been tough for me in many aspects. I recently lost my grandfather who was my last living grandparent, which caused me to be somewhat depressed as you can quite imagine. Unfortunately for me (and I'm sure many others) my mood strongly affects what I eat. So being lazy and depressed for 5 days straight, my diet was very much lacking from any flair or interest whatsoever. Yet there seemed to be no way out of the "funk" I was drifting in and out of...sleep, lay around, eat crap, repeat. Finally my dear husband convinced me to get off the couch and drink some fresh juice. Simple, right? Well yes and no. 
It is quite the ordeal at my house to drink "juice" :). I use the Breville 200XL Juice Fountain to make my own, which includes selecting my mix of fruit, washing, peeling the citrus, and cutting the larger pieces into smaller ones. Then I run it all through the wonderful juicer, dismantle the juicer, and clean all the juicer parts. Only then do I get to enjoy the deliciousness to follow. Don't get me wrong, its TOTALLY worth it! I swear once you juice your own fruit you will never look at shelf-stable sugar laden "juice" the same way again. It tastes completely different and after your body gets it once, it will crave it again and again. Also there is a therapeutic value in preparing the fruit for juicing, the same way you appreciate a made-from-scratch meal that inevitably tastes better than anything commercially processed. It allows me to get in touch with the living foods I am about to ingest, which I believe contributes to their nourishment. 
So, my husband convinces me to juice. Thank goodness!!! After one glass I felt good enough to do some laundry...then dishes...then fixing on and so on. I was re-inspired. Something as simple as a fresh glass of natures living liquid gave me the strength to get back on track. You may think I'm crazy or ridiculous by these statements but I encourage you to be open to the idea of juicing. Tell you what, anyone who wants to try fresh juice can come by my house and I'll make you your first glass! Then when you venture into the juicing world, you can try out these favorite recipes of mine.

Morning Cleanser

1 cucumber
3 stalks celery
2 apples (I prefer Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious) 

Afternoon Delight

2 tangelos or small oranges
1 apple
1/2 pineapple

Crazy bout Carrots

5 carrots or 1 bag baby carrots
1 apple (Granny Smith apples work well with carrots)

*Another thing I enjoy doing is juicing the remains of this weeks fruit salad! A mix of mango, pineapple, orange, kiwi, and who knows what else tastes fabulous when run through the juicer all at once.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Recipe You've All Been Waiting For

Haha catchy title, eh? I have had multiple requests for my veggie chili recipe, and I knew it would be included in this blog at some point, so instead of beating around the bush I figured what the heck, do it now! It's cold out and with the superbowl coming up I figured it was a good time to do it.
I have made this chili many times, and to be honest its different every time. I always like to use up ingredients that are  in my fridge and pantry so you never quite know what will show up in the chili that week :) The other thing is I have never used a recipe, so this will be the first time I've written it down. With those two points in mind, I decided to write a base recipe and then add optional ingredients that you can use to your own taste and preference. Don't be scared if you've never attempted anything like this, I know a particular soy-based ingredient is intimidating, but there are carnivores who love this chili as well as veggies.

*a note about soy crumbles: I use Morningstar brand crumbles which I have easily found at Crest, Walmart, and Target. Target seems to have the best price and variety on Morningstar products. (Try Morningstar Riblets, they taste just like a McRib from yucky McDonalds but its delicious and vegan!) The crumbles are high in protein and give the chili a meaty texture. I promise, my carnivorous husband even likes it!


3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced
1 large can whole tomatoes with juice
1 large can stewed tomatoes
2 cans chili beans
1 can northern or navy beans, drained
1 can diced green chilies (found in the Mexican isle at the grocery store, Rotel works as well)
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste (I use Kosher salt and a pepper grinder)
1 package frozen soy crumbles

In a Dutch oven, start by heating the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and season with a pinch of salt. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, beans, chilies, and spices and stir until well mixed. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low-medium and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Break up the whole tomatoes with your spoon and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Add the soy crumbles and stir, cook for an additional 10 minutes and serve with toppings and crackers.

Optional Ingredients:
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
sliced or minced mushrooms
diced zucchini
diced carrots
*add optional vegetables to the onion/pepper mixture and cook until soft before adding remaining ingredients

Topping options:
shredded cheese
sliced scallions (green onion)
sour cream

I hope you all try this and enjoy it as much as I do. The leftover chili goes great on tortilla chips, fritos, and cornbread! It will feed you all week!

What Am I?

You have already heard me say I aspire to be a true vegetarian. Well let me explain some things before we proceed so you do not think me as hypocritical (I would rather be thought of as a lost soul than a hypocrite!). Of course I was one who was raised in the midwest on a standard meat and potatoes diet. I do remember however as a child, flocking to items that did not contain meat. My favorite food item at any mexican restaurant (and still is) was always guacamole. In fact, my mother tells us often about the time when she put me in my highchair at a local mexican eatery and fed me guacamole- it sounds like I was barely old enough for solid food at the time. Apparently the other restaurant patrons were all amused by the  small child with guacamole on her face and commented on never seeing a baby that young enjoy such a "strange" food. Not much has changed, I find myself often times wanting to gorge myself on avocados, I just do it in a neater manner now :)
Anyways, back to the present. I was raised on meat and potatoes, but gravitated away from red meat around 10 years ago. I would occasionally eat a steak at a nice restaurant, and partake in the barbeque scene when amongst others in said barbeque scene. Afterwards I always noticed a sick disgusting feeling that lingered for the next few days. So, goodbye red meat, I listen to my body. It wasn't hard for me to give up chicken and pork either, because I have never really like them. Fish is a different story.
My reasons thus far for giving up "meat" have been for the health benefits and the fact that my body says "NO" every time I consume it. I also support the ethics behind it. I am a lifelong animal lover....and the thought of eating something furry and cute does bother me, but my foremost reasons are health related. Fish however is something I'm not sure I could ever give up. The only time it bothers me to eat fish is when I catch it myself and think about the killing, scaling, gutting.....ick! Not my cup of tea. Hence why in Colorado when I caught a gorgeous rainbow trout, he told me his name was Jasper and that he had a wife and many children that required his presence, so much to my husbands dismay I released Jasper back to the wild. Crazy I know, but Jasper really was grateful. After that my husband did not let me participate in the catching of our dinner.
There is apparently much debate amongst omnivores on whether you can call fish "meat" or not. I personally do not consider fish "meat", I consider it "fish". To me the term "meat" refers to mammal flesh, and fish are not mammals, they are fish. If you disagree, more power to you, this is my blog and I can call it what I want :). I also love the health benefits of fish, everything from the essential fatty acids to the awesome protein content. And since my primary reasoning for my chosen diet is health, well there you go. Oh, and I could live on sushi. So at this point in my life, I suppose I fit into the Pescetarian category which means the only "meat" I eat is fish. And I may stay that way forever....depending on which way the road on my food journey takes me!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My food blog

Hello to new, old, and lifelong friends. It has finally happened: I have been sucked into the blog world! I decided to start this in hopes that I can organize my recipes, ideas, troubles, woes, and whatever other expressions I may feel are necessary that day. However, I'm sure it will come out as being one crazy random compilation of bipolar nonsense. So if you are game, continue reading.
I am a 28-year-old female living in Oklahoma......aka cattle country. I am a food pilgrim in an unholy food land. I love healthy food. I love cooking. I love taking quality ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. I love the reaction people give when they eat something truly delicious and then discover it is good for them. I love the inspiration I get from food. I aspire to be a true vegetarian. Do you know how difficult it is to be an aspiring health-nut and vegetarian in the middle of the carnivorous midwest? Exceedingly difficult! I am hit at every turn with advertisements of steaks, burgers, and buffets. Not to mention I am constantly persecuted (by those with sometimes malicious but mostly joking intentions) for my food choices. Why is it so hard for people to accept the fact that I make food choices, just like they do, only different food choices?  I guess at least around these parts most people are very close-minded and unwilling to accept change. Let me not forget however to mention the wonderful support system I have in place, namely my friends and darling husband, who encourage me to continue my quest to be healthy and happy.
And so begins the food pilgrimage.