Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Meal Plan- April 26th- April 30th- Olive Lentil Burgers

I present to you the final recipe for April. This completes four months of delicious culinary experiments (and money saving in the process!) and I couldn't be more thrilled. In these last four months, I've been introduced to new cuisines, new ways of cooking and new and unique flavor combinations. Take these burgers from the Handheld chapter for example. I would have never thought to pair olive and lentils and mushrooms together. But let me tell you- not only does it work but they are remarkably good. The dominant flavor here is olives but that is not a bad thing, not even a little. I had a bag of lentils sitting around so I cooked them up ahead of making this recipe and froze them in 1 cup portions. All I had to do was defrost a couple of bags the night before and they were ready to go. Everything else, I already bought in advance so I spent only about 35 shekels this week (at the shuk) on some vegetables for salad and some pita bread. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Meal Plan: April 19th- April 23rd- Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu

This week's recipe comes from the Bowls chapter of Isa Does It. To me, bowls are consummate comfort food but are still a little bit intimidating to me because they have a bunch of components that have to be made. I am not the person who likes to make a million things for one meal. I chose to begin my foray into this chapter with the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl. And oh me oh my what a good pick that was. I love me some tofu and I love me some rice but put this curried peanut sauce over the top and I am right in heaven. I could eat this sauce with a spoon and if I didn't need it for the rest of the week, that's exactly what I'd do! I gotta figure out what else I can smother this stuff on. Isa, you done good!         So this week, I didn't spend any money at the grocery store. I've been eating leftovers of the tamale shepherd's pie for lunch and I pretty much bought everything I needed for this in previous trips. (I've been trying to be thriftier than usual because I just booked a ticket to fly to the states in August and I gotta save every shekel! As it is, this month is stacking up to be pretty expensive!)                                                                               The original recipe called for kale but I stopped by my local vegetable store on the way home on the day I made this and they were all out so no kale here. It definitely could use some color but maybe I'll add that the next time I make this. I used a natural peanut butter to make this (no JIF or Skippy here!) and I dry fried the tofu and the garlic and ginger for the sauce-n o damage done to either. I also found that two tbsp of tamari wasn't enough for me. I think I may have added an extra tbsp and a half or so to get that perfectly umami flavor.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shabbat Cooking: Tamale Shepherd's Pie

I wasn't really planning on cooking this Shabbat. I was out for dinner and then home for lunch. The thought of simple rice and beans was perfect but then I had a friend over last minute and thought, I can't serve her rice and beans! The same friend has had all my incarnations of tofu so even though I had some in the fridge for the coming week's recipe, I decided to go with something else. Since the next couple of months I'll be cooking through Isa Does It, I looked there for a good recipe. I found this recipe in the Sunday Suppers chapter and thought it would be perfect. I have never made a shepherd's pie (even though I've really wanted to) because I always thought that it was wayyyy too much work. This recipe isn't quick, but isn't intimidating either and I took advantage of these long Fridays to put it together. 

Now, this recipe wasn't that cheap. I didn't have most of the things around, as I'm avoiding tomatoes and potatoes. I also needed some chips, some mushrooms and cilantro and wine. I think it turned out to about 20 dollars. But I also shopped at an overpriced convenience store. I will say that I was proud of my thriftiness in freezing the leftover wine in half cup portions instead of throwing it away. (I am not a wine drinker, not even a little bit!) I also used the rest of the overcooked black beans that I had frozen ages ago and some frozen corn I have on hand so I can say I shopped the freezer! Even though it was a bit pricey, I have tons of leftovers and will be having it for lunches the rest of the week instead of my usual salad and sweets, so that works out well.

I loved this recipe! I really really loved it! So so good! A layer of mashed potatoes on top and a mixture of mushrooms, corn, tomatoes and black beans with a Mexican flavor profile... Yum. A while back, when I was in the beginning of my plant based journey and trying my hand out with new recipes, I tried out a layered enchilada casserole recipe that had a similar profile. It flopped miserably. This pie recipe is everything that wasn't and a whole lot more! It holds together wonderfully when cutting and serving and is nicely filling. Served with a nice size salad and you have a perfect meal! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Meal Plan: April 12-April 16th- Red Lentil Thai Chili

So Passover is behind us and everything is back to normal. My parents flew home, I'm back at work and I'm eating exactly the way I want to. The only thing that hadn't gotten the memo is the weather! Since Thursday we've had uncharacteristically cold and rainy weather for April. And by rainy weather I mean full on thunder and lightning storms. I even had to pull out my winter boots and coats to brave the inclement weather. I want spring back! The good news is that when I was planning the next months' meal plans from Isa Does It, I scheduled this Thai Red Lentil Chili first. Timing turned out perfect!

I had the rotten luck of having my credit card swallowed by the ATM machine so I couldn't do my shopping last night. Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed!!! (It was my fault! Thankfully, I got it back first thing this morning. Phew!) I had enough cash on me to buy a couple cans of diced tomatoes for the chili; I had enough vegetables from last week that were still good to get me through a couple of lunches. I'll be heading to the supermarket tonight right after work, so I'll update this post with how much I spent. UPDATE: This was a bit of an expensive week-- I spent 100 shekels yesterday at the supermarket plus 20 shekels on the tomatoes. Eek! 60 of it went to stocking up on oats (I'm on my third box of ten pounds! I go through a lot of oats!), twenty went to another 5 kg of rice (I thought the price might be a fluke, so just in case!), and the rest to some corn, sweet potatoes and cucumbers.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What I'm Eating This Passover and a Health Update

In short, lots of matza!

Passover is almost over and I don't feel like it's gone by quickly at all. I was concerned about what I'd have to eat this holiday but I'm making it through just fine if not eating as healthfully as I'd like.

For the first part of the holiday, my sister made roasted sweet potatoes and beets and quinoa. Along with matza, that made up my meal. It wasn't plant perfect as she cooks with oil but I felt like under the circumstances that was fine. I had more of the same the next day. I think I was the only one who left the table satisfied and not in a food coma.

When I got home the next day, I had some rice and chickpeas and I tell you that held me over for a LONG time. I had leftover the next day and I'm telling you, I was not hungry for a long time. For the rest of the time, I was travelling back and forth and I mostly had matzah and jelly.

I did spend 164 shekels at the grocery store this week on food that I thought I would get around to eating but didn't. Which is quite alright considering I need some of the things anyway for Sunday's dinner and I was able to shave a whole lot off the grocery list. I bought peppers, carrots, corn, dried chickpeas, 5 kilos of rice (for twenty shekels!! I gotta stock up on more bags at that price- more on that shortly), four jars of no sugar added jelly (my favorite brand at the cheapest price I've ever seen), matza, sweet potatoes and some mushrooms.

Tonight begins the second half of the holiday and I know that being on plan with the oil is inevitably unlikely and I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine and cooking.

Just a word about the rice. Potatoes (my favorite food!) were my starch of choice until very recently. I've been noticing in the last couple of weeks that I've had extremely bad flatulence and didn't know what it was from. I started taking probiotics to help and while they have been helping, I knew that I hadn't eliminated the issue. While I suspected that it was probably the potatoes, I was hoping it was the corn. Eliminating the corn didn't help. A friend of my sister's confirmed that potatoes had the same effect on her and so I knew that potatoes were out. I'm hoping it'll help my skin as well. I've realized that my body has been trying to tell me that something's been wrong for a while and I hadn't been listening until now. Looking back, it's kind of obvious what the issue was. I know that everything is because of the food and I'm happy to be able to pinpoint the bothersome foods although I'm kind of devastated to see the potatoes go. Yes, devastated. In the past few days without potatoes I have noticed significant improvement. That being said, I needed a new mainstay starch to take the place of potatoes. I'm a big fan of rice and I think that that's what it's going to be (along with sweet potatoes) so I'm happy to have found 5 kilo bags of rice for dirt cheap. As I said I'm going to be stocking up on some more.

That's it for now.
Remember to be healthy and listen to your body!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cookbook Review: Appetite for Reduction

This cookbook review has been two months in the making, having cooked with it through the months of February and March. To sum it up, I really like this book!

Appetite for Reduction is Isa Chandra's book that focuses on low fat vegan recipes. I discovered it a while ago and ordered it but was initially unimpressed by the looks of it. Call me superficial but we do judge books by their covers! The cover and paper were a bit cheap feeling and there aren't a lot of pictures to go around. Looks alone made me put it aside and not give it much of a second look. When I started to meal plan I figured that this would be a good place to start as I'm on a low fat diet. Not only did I use this for my weekly meal plans but I used it whenever I could for my Shabbat cooking as well.

April-May (and Probably June!) Cook Through: Isa Does It

February and March just flew by; I've been counting the weeks with recipes. Cooking through Appetite for Reduction has really made me fall in love with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and I decided that the April-May (possibly June) cook-through will be from her most recent book, Isa Does It, a book that I picked up at my local Israeli book store and promises to be easy and delicious. This book was bought on a whim before I knew anything about her and has since stayed on my shelf, unused and unloved, beside Appetite for Reduction. I imagine that this will be the last Isa book I go through (although I do have Veganomicon on the way and Vegan with a Vengeance, so technically I can make this the year of Isa if I try hard enough). I have my recipes all picked out and my shopping lists all ready and I will get into it as soon as Passover ends. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

VitaCost, Kosher Vitamins, InstantPot Haul

So my parents are here! They flew in on Thursday to join us for the Passover holiday. They'll be here for two weeks. Knowing they were coming, I ordered a lot of things that you can't get here. And I mean, a lot. I think this time I outdid my siblings. I ordered lots of clothes for spring/summer and next winter, a sturdy water bottle (to make sure I stay hydrated every day), lots of earplugs and some other stuff. 

Check out what I hauled after the jump!