Friday, August 05, 2011

We're back!!! Veggie Baby and I have enjoyed a year off from blogging, but I have been itching to get at the keyboard again lately (perhaps b/c of the Veggie Awards- inspiring!).

Anyway, I wanted to post this lovely pic of VB to show how happy and healthy she is, now over a year old and "still a vegan!" We're still nursing (World Health Org. recommends 2-3 years) and as of this moment, nary a drop of cow's milk nor animal flesh has crossed her lips. When she gets old enough to make dietary choices, her (non-vegan) dad will probably break down and offer her some items, but for now, I'm thrilled that her pediatrician didn't bat an eye at our dietary choices for her (well, they really are lifestyle choices, not just dietary, aren't they?).

Just demonstrating that healthy, smart babies can be vegan and so can their nursing moms! In addition, VB is now eating nearly 50 different kinds of foods, including things like bean and potato hash with garlic, onion, and peppers, and this week a curried pilaf with lentils and quinoa. The funniest part? She loooooves hummus! But after she ate a bunch, I smelled her breath and finally understood why her dad complains about my own hummus breath! LOL! We've come a long way, baby...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

She's here! The newest member of our family (a vegan since conception!) joined us on May 28th! Welcome, Veggie Baby! Luckily, Grandmas 1 and 2 came down to cook us awesome vegan meals and keep us well fed during the exhausting 1st few weeks. Now, Mr. PLV is cooking up Portabella BBQ sandwiches, pizzas, grilled corn, and yummy salads while I feed Veggie Baby. She likes to eat!! I keep up my own strength by noshing on homemade muffins from the freezer and lots of fresh fruits and veggies from the farmer's market. If you have any suggestions about what we can make for lunch or dinner during this crazy time of our lives (what is simple, nutritious, and fast?), leave a comment here. I hope to post again sometime soon! Happy early July 4th!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Make-In Take-Out

As my daughter's "birth day" draws near (maybe three days now!), I am enjoying some half days at work, which leave me enough energy to cook a "real meal" for dinner. Take this General Tao's Tofu for example. I got the recipe from a recent Veg News magazine, but it's really from Veg Web's website.

Mr. PLV just loves take-out Chinese, although Indian restaurants are our favorite at the moment, so I chose this recipe thinking of him. He's also on a tofu-kick, which is great! This was possibly the easiest recipe I have made in ages, and one of the tastiest. In fact, Mr. PLV gives this four stars! **** He says it's one of his all-time favorites. I wasn't so sure about the pan-frying, but it doesn't call for a lot of oil. Some of the comments on the website suggest baking the tofu. Either way, I was blown away by the crispy coating, delicious sauce, and overall great meal! We served it alongside brown rice and steamed broccoli, which cooked with no effort on my part in the rice cooker and electric steamer while I prepared the tofu. His only suggestion would be to cut the tofu into smaller cubes (I followed the recipe and did one inch cubes which were pretty big but a nice change from the tiny cubes we usually do) and to double the sauce and mix in stir-fried broccoli. Hey - if a pregnant lady three days away from her due date can make this, anyone can! Happy make-in, take-out! (P.S. - note that the recipe is NOT called General Tso's, but General Tao's. Cute, but confusing when you're searching the website).

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Two Weeks to Go!

Two weeks to go (more or less!) until we welcome our baby girl into our world. We've had four (yes, four!) wonderful showers, and the best part? Every single one of them had a vegan cake and all vegan or mostly vegan food! I wish I could show you photos of the cakes, but they mostly had our names on them, and I do try to keep our privacy :) They were all homemade cakes, too (well, except one) and all amazing! Our showers were also mostly "green," meaning people used recycled or reusable gift wrap and bags, party gifts included herbs potted in used baby food jars, and decorations (no balloons - yay!) included a string of second-hand baby clothes strung on a "clothesline." We're planning on doing cloth diapers, so those were our favorite gifts next to second hand clothes! Here's a shot of our crib (second hand from a relative) along with many handmade quilts from loving family and friends, and our daughter's newest toys, including Sock Monkey, a tiger from the WWF, and a little lamb we will call "Lamby" (I mean, really - Lamb Chop?? How twisted is that?).

Meanwhile, we still have to eat around here....We've been doing lots of old stand-byes, but now and then I find the energy to make something new...

This was the Chili-Cornbread Pie from 500 Vegan Recipes, a book I still do not own but might have to buy in the future. This was hearty, comforting, and pretty yummy! Three stars *** (could have been spicier).

But best of all, it was quick to put together, and I could take a nap while it baked in the oven! Alongside a nice salad (yes, I can eat those again, no prob!), this would've been a better winter meal, since it reached 90 degrees here today - ugh!

Here's to the beginning of May and other joyous beginnings around the corner!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vegan Girl Scout Cookies!

Since I purchased the book, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (also known as VCIYCJ), I have been dying to make these Lazy Samosas, after the traditional Samosa cookie with coconut and chocolate (one of the best combinations in the world!). Since March is Girl Scout cookie time around here, I figured it would be a good time to try these out.

As you can see by the photos, they look remarkably similar.

As you can't tell by the photos (here is a shot of the chocolate drizzle before it cooled) they tasted AMAZING!!! Totally cured my GS cookie craving....the only thing they were perhaps missing was the hint of caramel. Otherwise, coconutty goodness! Four awesome stars **** My local Veg Group got to scarf the rest of these down...

I also made the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. This was my first real pregnancy craving (more on that, later). I was impressed by how easy these were but not surprised at how yummy. I like mine soft, so I followed the directions for those style. Only complaint? Bigger please! Three and a half stars ***1/2. After a couple of these, my cravings disappeared, mostly because my sweet tooth was still on a hiatus.

Next up from VCIYCJ were these Mocha Mamas. I made them for a friend who had just had knee surgery. They have a hint of coffee in them, which makes for a delicious soft chocolate cookie on the inside, a tiny bit crispy on the out! The drizzle also had coffee extract in them. Very delish and the recipient reported that they only lasted a day in her certifiably non-vegan house! Three and a half stars ***1/2.

Here's a yummy close up...

So.....while my stomach still has trouble handling OJ and dried fruit (esp first thing in the morning), it apparently has not problem eating "real" sweets again! After my birthday, when I had some money to spend, I ordered several treats from Vegan Essentials (one of my fav online stores). Here, you can see the new, air-puffed marshmallows called Dandies (haven't broken into those yet, but they do feel soft!), Pecan Marshmallows made by Sweet and Sara (holy vegan cow!!!! - these were OUT OF THIS WORLD! Soft, chewy, handmade marshmallows with a crumbly pecan and sugar topping - I ate these pretty quickly!), a Mahalo Bar (similar to an Almond Joy - I'm saving that one for my 9th month), and also from Sweet and Sara, a S'More cookie thing that I really got for Mr. PLV (although he shared a bite - yum!). Reminded me of those Pinwheel cookies from my childhood. Every single item was worth the price of shipping and handling!!

Meanwhile, I did do some non-baking...I do have to eat healthfully for baby!

To use up some baby spinach, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan's Palak Soyabina Paneer (fofu stands in for the paneer, hence the "soyabina"), which I've made before and Mr. PLV really enjoys. Great spices - an authentic Indian dish! Four stars ****

We experimented by making our own Mexi Meat from TVP, using a recipe from the new book 500 Vegan Recipes, which I checked out of the library. It was really, really good in these tacos with Nacho Soy Cheese! Three and a half stars ***1/2. Great flavor.

Vegetarian Times had been tempting me with recipes as well. This Indian Samosa Pie came out pretty tasty, although we both agreed that there was too much filling. And, I had some personal crust issues, but otherwise, not bad! Two and a half stars **1/2.

Here's a nice shot of the inside.

Lunches were beginning to bore me (tired of wraps with hummus and greens!), so this Farro Salad with Chickpeas and Marinated Artichoke Hearts from another library book, Whole Grains for Busy People, did the trick. I used wheat berries in place of the farro, and regular water-packed artichoke hearts. Good, but I ended up wanting more artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes in the mixture. Three stars *** and a nice change of pace! Very filling.
I copied the recipe for this Cauliflower and Tofu with Tikka Spices from another library book, but can't remember which one! It was good, though. Great way to get the wonderful nutrients in cauliflower! (Which include: protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium and phosphorus, and also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic Acid, potassium and manganese - phew!) Served with brown rice, a dollop of soy yogurt, and a great mango chutney.
Meanwhile, I had some phyllo (filo) dough that needed to be used up (it had sat in the freezer for way too long!). Vegetable-Arame Strudels from Vegetarian Times magazine (I think!) to the rescue! The sea vegetable was a perfect hint of flavor and all the yummy veggies inside were just scrumptious. Not too difficult!

The sauce, however, sucked. Mostly because I opened the jar of sundried tomatoes to find they had gone bad, so the sauce was just red pepper and silken tofu. Blah to taste, kind of cool color, though!

So....I'm stopping here on that semi-successful note. I have to say that taking an hour to do this particular blog post is an enjoyable but tiring hour. In my 8th month now, I have a very healthy, very active(!), perfectly sized baby girl waiting to join me in May (I say this not to brag or jinx myself, but to prove that vegans can have healthy babies, easily!), and she takes up my every spare waking moment (and often wakes me from the sleeping ones!), leaving me little time for pleasures such as this. We are planning to use cloth diapers (including at day care), to breastfeed, to have all used clothing and other "accessories" as much as possible, and to share with her the joys of stepping lightly on the planet and living healthfully. We are also planning on starting her life as a vegan. All of my time is now spent (when not at work), on preparing for this new little life (she'll be our first!) and I can barely find the energy to cook, nevermind write down the recipes like I used to in my little notebook, nevermind take photos and blog about them. So, while I don't plan on ending this blog (I would like people to be able to reference it and see how great vegans can eat and to find other links), I do know my weekly posts will become monthly ones, if that. So, I ask you to bear with me, keep checking back, and go (or stay) VEGAN! :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

More Winter Treats

It's still definitely winter around here! After four snowstorms in two weeks, I'm so ready for spring (sorry, all you snow lovers, but I left New England winters behind for a reason!). Meanwhile, we're making lots of comfort food while being stuck inside the house.....

Snobby Joes from Veganomicon are so simple, even Mr. PLV didn't complain about making them one night this week (although as he was off work and I wasn't, I think it was a fair trade!). Full of flavor, filling, and just plain yum, these are Sloppy Joes without the meat (lentils instead) and with a little less slop. Served on soft buns with a side of green beans, they were so much better than I remember them as a child! Four stars **** and we were eager for leftovers. We've made these before and I especially like them because they don't require a huge list of ingredients, so we didn't need to hit the crowded grocery store.

With the Super Bowl last weekend (someday maybe they'll use vegan footballs!), I came through on a promise to Mr. PLV, to make Vegan Boneless Chickenless Wings from Vegan Dad's blog. They weren't too difficult, although you have to make a "chickenless" broth powder first. The link to the powder doesn't seem to work anymore, but just Google it and Bryanna's recipe is the one I used. Double-breaded in panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and drizzled with an Earth Balance-Tabasco sauce blend, they were crispy, crunchy, chewy (dare I say meaty?), and definitely spicy!!! The flavors were spot on and this time, I let Mr. PLV eat most of them, even though I could've eaten them all myself! I can't wait to make these again. Great appetizers but also pretty filling! Four stars and more ****+ Oh, and make half of the sauce, because these babies didn't need anything to dip in!

Baking-wise, I tried the Tropical Jewels from the Have Cake, Will Travel blog. They were pretty tasty and apparently survived shipping far out of state! Anything with coconut has to be good anyway...But, forgot to take a picture before I packaged them up, so click on the link above to see. I used chocolate chips in the middle instead of jam. I also subbed regular flour for the whole wheat and found that the batter never really came together by beating, so I just squished it into a ball before chilling.

I also tried these Raw-Chocolate Chia Energy Bars from the most recent Vegetarian Times magazine (Jan '10). This is the "before" shot, but honestly, even after I froze them, they were still really crumbly. Maybe it was the raisins I used for some of the dates. Maybe it was the carob I used instead of the cocoa powder (though I doubt it). And maybe it was because I made them too thin. At any rate, I poured the crumbly mix into baggies and am enjoying eating it like a power-powder. Two stars, maybe **.

I have to say, the rest of the week was pretty unusual, food-wise! I have made Dreena's Easy Pleasin' Oat Bars from Vive Le Vegan! for two weeks straight, and they are the perfect antidote to later afternoon pregnancy crashes. Lunches have been pretty much revolving around my favorite lavash bread wrapped around grated carrot, baby spinach (still the best way to get my greens when baby isn't looking!), and different spreads (mostly bean spreads). They are filling and flavorful!

Mr. PLV made a kick-ass chili, with kidney beans and our favorite new sausage from Field Roast (perhaps I can get the recipe from him!). It really was perfect, four stars ****. And, we had some pasta with spaghetti sauce (Bertolli is our favorite non-homemade brand) for quick suppers this week, after the leftovers were gone. Sometimes, just sometimes, I like those familiar favorites.... :) Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Veg-versary and 700th recipe!

Yes, I am alive! Despite the snow, pregnancy ups and downs (now into the 3rd trimester - woohoo!), and general life stuff, I am alive and happy to be so. Can't believe it's been so long since I posted...then again, yes I can believe it! I've been so exhausted in the evenings, and busy or sick on the weekends, I can't bring myself to get on the computer to blog, after spending all day at work on the darn machine! Anyway, I am celebrating two big things (besides my bigger belly!) this month...

As usual, February brings the date that I transitioned to four years ago - wow! I know that's not long, but February is also my Veg-versary for switching from omni (and a burger-loving one at that!) to vegetarian, which occurred eleven years ago. If you think, "I could never do that," in response to becoming vegetarian or vegan, just remember, I too, once said, "I could never give up cheese!" At one point in college (before I got really healthy and started running!) I could eat a third-pounder with cheese from Fuddrucker's (that's a US burger joint) all in one sitting! (And I'm a pretty small person!) It's all about baby steps, trying new foods, and not being critical if you "slip up." Eventually, the life of the animals, the health of the planet, and the health of my body (and now my baby!) won out over what I thought were "needs." Eating veg has broadened my food horizons incredibly, from flavors, to cuisines, to new produce and grains.

Speaking of which, I am also celebrating the fact that I have now made over 700 new, different recipes over the past 5 years. Poor Mr. PLV has to beg me to make a recipe more than once :)

Anyway, the first picture of this post is a stir fry from one of Dreena Burton's three great books, Vive Le Vegan! My mum and dad were in town last weekend (during the first snowstorm - now we're in the middle of the third this week!) and my mum pampered me with home cooked meals (and doing the dishes -yeah!). The stir fry had too much sauce, though - we would cut it in half. It was very creamy, though, and yummy! Three stars ***. The second picture (above) are Hemp Nut Burgers from a little booklet my mum gave me last summer. I just love hemp seeds (they have so many omegas!). These were easy, fast, and had terrific flavor. They also didn't fall apart like so many veggie burgers seem to. Could've used a dressing, though. Maybe mayo or 1,000 Island? Three and a half stars ***1/2.

I chopped and Mr. PLV cooked to make this hearty, warming stew from Nava Atlas's book, Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons. It's actually a vegan cookbook, but she has a similar book just out, that actually has "vegan" in the title. Anyway, this Italian Mixed Vegetable Stew had lots of great veggies in it, but needed more flavor. The potato gnocchi were a great addition! Three stars *** only because we didn't care for the frozen bean flavor.

This Mac Daddy (original version) from Veganomicon was another tummy-warming dish, made even when I wasn't feeling that great! It was that easy. Just make the cheese sauce (nutritional yeast base) and cook the noodles. Then pour together with crumbled, firm tofu, and bake! The tofu gave it a great, firm texture. My only change would be to make it with veggie broth, not water. I was too tired to make the veggie broth (we use cubes, to save on waste and money) but it really needed more flavor. I ate this all week - no complaints! Three solid stars ***.

Last but definitely not least (in fact, this was my favorite recipe over the past few weeks!), were these Red Lentil Kibbe from a recent issue of Veg News magazine. A kind friend of mine found some fine bulgur for me (I could only find regular) and these were very, very easy and wonderfully filling. As you can see, I ate them with baby spinach in lavash bread as a wrap sandwich. Drizzle them with lemon - it's a must! Three and a half stars ***1/2. These are no-cook, which actually isn't so strange. Traditional kibbe (made with ground beef) can also be served raw (gross, I know!). I also made the Roasted Shallot Hemp Hummus from Veg News's online collection, but it wasn't pretty enough for a picture. However, the flavor was mellow and delicious. Three solid stars *** and week full of delicious and easy wrap sandwiches once again! The carbs, greens, and proteins in my daily lunch wraps are wonderful in keeping my energy and blood sugar level during pregnancy! Last, we made the Mediterranean Chickpea Wrap from the new cookbook, The Conscious Cook, which I borrowed from our local library to try it out. It was way too watery for a wrap, but awesome flavors! Three stars ***. The cookbook doesn't look like something I'll buy, but Mr. PLV was admiring some of the meat-like recipes!

Well, off to see what I can make for dinner tonight! Oh, that reminds me - I have a question for you readers! A friend of mine is looking for a good vegan recipe, that can be popped into the oven preferably, that can serve 30 people (probably not all veg people, either). Any ideas??