I came home from the movies yesterday and decided it was high time we cooked the Pho waiting for us in the cabinet. Any kind of soup or stew is Hubby’s specialty so I let him have at it. It wasn’t a traditional Vietnamese Pho although he did use the rice noodles and the seasoning packet that came with it.
He started by using a little oil in the pot. He then added onions, hot sauce, minced garlic, red pepper and celery with Himalayan sea salt and peppers. After they caramelized, he added 4 cups of mushroom broth and then 4 cups of water. He brought it to a boil and then added 3/4 cup of broccoli. Three to five minutes later, he added the rice noodles and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Cilantro was added to garnish the dish. The spice combination was fantastic! We are excited to eat it again, tonight. Sometimes, leftovers is what’s best for dinner and that is always alright with me!
The days are getting longer and hotter and it’s the perfect time to try new salads. I found this recipe at the minimalistbaker.com. I was especially excited to try making another salad dressing. The fact that it includes oranges made me even more curious. Instead of mixed greens, I chose spinach leaves. I also used the sweet Cara Cara oranges in the dressing and to adorn my plate. The sweetener brand used was Truvia. We loved the combination of sweet and savory on the plate and will definitely try again!
Here’s the recipe:
5-6 cups mixed greens
1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)
1/2 cup fresh or canned corn
1 cup cooked black beans (seasoned with equal pinches sea salt, cumin, chili, + garlic powder)
1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
Healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper
optional: 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
Begin preparing quinoa first by thoroughly rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer then bringing to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients by chopping vegetables, segmenting orange, and warming black beans and seasoning with salt, cumin, chili and garlic powder.
Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added more hot sauce, orange juice and salt. TIP: if you prefer a vinaigrette, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Either plate salad and serve with dressing on the side, or toss with dressing before serving. Pairs well with salsa, fresh lime juice and tortilla chips.
Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh.
I had a full day and when I stopped over at Whole Foods for lunch. While I was shopping, I saw Beyond Meat has started selling a few flavors of their “sausage”. I also spied an almond milk, soy an dairy-free version of ravioli by Kite Hill. I chose the Hot Italian flavor of the sausage and the spinach and ricotta for the ravioli. When I ate dairy products, cheese was one of my favorites so I have always been willing to explore the alternatives. Most brands get it wrong but I love what Kite Hill did with their nut cheese filling. The consistency and the taste were better than I expected. Tonight, I kept it simple. I boiled the ravioli and cooked the Beyond Meat sausages on a stick-free pan. I added some tomato sauce and basil and I was satisfied. As much as I love discovering new recipes, some nights call for discovering new products to cook quickly and have the rest of the night to yourself.
This past weekend, Hubby and I went to another vegan potluck at a friend’s home. This time, it was a cookout complete with barbecued seitan ribs, corn on the cob, garden burgers, potato salad, pesto pasta salad, fresh cantaloupe slices and ice cream. Hubby even baked his chocolate chip cookies again.
My friend’s husband at the grill focusing on his seitan ribs
Pesto pasta salad
Since it was basically the same group, we had an amazing time yet again. I was pretty wiped out from attending 3 events and cooking before we even got there but we looked forward to seeing everyone and of course, it was all worth it. I also realized I had never been to an all-vegan cookout, either. We were all outside, talking, laughing, eating at picnic tables and watching the children run and swing. There’s really not much of a difference.
There’ s comfort in going to a place where you don’t have to explain why you eat what you do but by far, the comfort is always because of the people.
And the connections.
As I’ve written here many times before, it never stops being about the people and the connections.
Tonight, I decided to do things a little differently. Hubby and I are big smoothie lovers and I realized I’ve never featured any on my Meatless Monday posts. I decided to make pesto for the first time, too. I definitely had become a little too dependent on tomato and vegan Alfredo sauces so it was time to change things up. I got the recipe from greenevi.com and the Honeydew and Lime Smoothie was inspired by a YouTube video from Health with Kisha. I don’t remember her exact recipe but I remembered Honeydew melon and limes and I figured I could adjust according to my own taste.
We used a container of honeydew that was 1.17 lbs, the juice of 3 limes and blended it with ice.
Here’s Hubby hard at work juicing the limes for me:
We used organic red lentil penne pasta for our vegan pesto pasta. We love the Explore Cuisine brand for red lentil and black bean spaghetti.
Here’s the recipe:
Pasta of your choice
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
¼ cup of pine nuts
1 cup of fresh basil (tightly packed)
1 clove of garlic
¼ cup of olive oil
1-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
½ lemon (optional)
Prepare your pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile roast pine nuts in a skillet until lightly toasted.
Add basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix pesto into pasta and add cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
Hubby has already said he wants to me cook everything again next week. I fell in love, too. The honeydew and lime smoothie was incredibly refreshing. I can see making that regularly especially when summer hits.
Let me know in the comments if there are any new plant-based recipes you have tried or want to try.
2cups chopped vegetarian chicken strips or 2 cups firm tofu, cut in tiny cubes
2pie crusts (either store bought or your own recipe)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.
Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well Cook one minute stirring constantly.
Combine broth and half and half.
Gradually stir into vegetable mixture.
Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.
Stir in salt and pepper and tyme; add tofu and stir well.
Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells.
Cut slits to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.
He added broccoli, mushrooms and cilantro, replaced the onion broth with vegetable broth and the half and half with almond milk (to make it vegan) but forgot to add carrots. We are trying to stay away from soy so tofu didn’t make it into our veggie pot pie. It didn’t matter. It was tasty..we probably should have let it sit a while longer before cutting into it but the flavor was all there. Definitely would try again!
I have been thinking about what should be next in plant-based journey. I have thought about cutting out wheat, oil and finally going ahead and removing all soy-based products from my diet. It would be hard for me to stop myself from feasting on the chicken-fried tofu from Whole Foods but of course, I would survive. I can’t help but feel like there is something I am missing and something I am moving towards. In terms of what I am missing, I am missing consistent discipline with everything to be truthful. I have been able to maintain my blogging schedule, met my E-Book publication goal and will start working back on my novel and another project soon. However, when it comes to my self-care I am definitely slipping. I have not focused on doing both. I have thought about it but I would be a liar if I said I have taken consistent action. I’ve been missing dance class which I love and have been snacking late for no reason whatsoever. I wrote a piece about being scared to be empty in one of my writing classes. I could mull over the reasons why or try to develop an origin story for this fear but I would rather funnel that energy into moving, getting to bed early and forming new habits. I am moving towards a new me that is healthy and for the first time, is starting to see animals. I mean, really value them. I even told hubby I wanted to visit an animal sanctuary. For those who don’t know me, this has NEVER been me. I have never owned a pet or particularly cared to pet an animal. It was not for me or to ever be for me but eating this way has changed me. I find myself more curious than I have ever been. I don’t know where this newfound curiosity will take me but I am willing to follow along.
A important part of this blog is to focus on my wellness journey. My healing from it all-the weight, the PCOS, the psoriasis, etc..I know I don’t write enough or almost at all about it. I post what I cook on Mondays but not much else. I think I want Thursdays to be a wellness update.
I am not sure if I will include pounds lost or skin cleared but it will be real and it will be here.
I was out of town, specifically in Charlotte this past weekend visiting family. We knew we would be leaving in the afternoon and wanted to stop by a raw vegan restaurant I found online: Luna’s Living Kitchen.
Since we are just getting home, I knew I would be in no mood to cook a meal and eat late so I thought I would share our meal at Luna’s Living Kitchen located in the South Bend of Charlotte. Even though I prefer to cook these meals, it’s good to know there are options everywhere to eat plant-based and even raw vegan!
We started off by sharing a sweet potato sushi roll. I decide to get a cacao smoothie and Jeff chose a Mango Tango. It had a kick of cayenne which we both enjoyed!
Jeff had been eager to try the raw manicotti made with zucchini and cashew cream and tomato sauce. He added the lentil soup for warmth. The coolness of the manicotti threw him a little even though he was warned about it but neither of us could deny how tasty the cashew cream was and how well it mimicked the taste of ricotta cheese. I chose one of the warmer entree options: BBQ sliders. That was our favorite dish! The oyster mushrooms was such an amazing filler compared to mock meats like tofu, tempeh or jackfruit. When we come back to Charlotte, we are definitely coming back!
Tonight, hubby found the recipe on a website for No Meat Athlete. He and I are considering following their meal plans for a week to accelerate the process on our wellness journey. Plus, the site is full of whole foods plant-based recipes which I would like to cook regularly. It’s so easy to fall into the vegan junk food or takeout trap. It’s delicious but ultimately costly and more calorie laden than cooking at home. Here is the recipe:
1-2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
1 Small Onion, chopped
2 Celery Ribs, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon Dry Rosemary
1 cup any Tomato Sauce
6 cups Vegetable Stock
1 can (15 ounces) or 1.5 cups cooked Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch Kale (about 8 leaves), preferably Lacinato (Dinosaur), torn into bite-size pieces, coarse stems removed
4 ounces Whole Wheat or Alternative-Grain Linguine, broken into 1 to 2 inch lengths (or choose a bite-size pasta)
Sea salt, to taste
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Heat the oil, if using, in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the rosemary and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. If not using oil, add a few splashes of water as needed to keep ingredients from drying and burning.
Add the tomato sauce, vegetable stock, and chickpeas, and bring to a boil.
Add the kale and after about 5 minutes, add the pasta and stir occasionally. (This assumes your pasta will take 7 to 8 minutes to cook. If you’re using pasta that takes 12 to 15 minutes, add the pasta when you add the kale.)
When the pasta is al dente, remove the soup from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with the remaining teaspoon of fresh rosemary and optionally, a drizzle of olive oil.
We loved it.. not oily and filling for sure! So glad we chose to sign up for these recipes!
I am currently working on a project that will be released very soon. As excited as I am about it, I am trying to meet a deadline. The pressure is self-imposed but I care about meeting it for myself. I want to be confident in the work I am creating and if it takes time away from cooking and blogging about a meal here this evening, then it will just have to be.
It’s interesting that the more I try to stretch myself, the more obstacles seem to crop up. For instance, I was supposed to devote a lot of time Sunday to my project and finish up today. However, I didn’t plan for hubby to get violently ill and for me to take care of him in the wee hours of Sunday morning into the evening. Which also meant I didn’t sleep very well and tried to grab a few minutes of sleep here and there while checking on him. I am always happy to put him first but of course that means my head is not with the work nor should it be.
So I am adjusting. Saying no to driving to the store, scrambling to cook something, take photos and post about it.
Even though I know I have other work to do, on a laptop that decided to start giving me problems late last night as I tried to get more editing done, there is still a part of me that wants to say Yes and believe I can do it all. To take No out of the vocabulary.
But I am not listening. I am sticking with “No” because I don’t have longer than 24 hours in a day and it’s more than OK to acknowledge that.