Monday, June 29, 2015

Meal Plan: June 28- July 2- Chimichurri Acorn Squash Bowl

It feels like it's been a while since I've been in the kitchen, preparing my weekly recipe. Last week, I subsisted on weekend leftovers and my fave broccoli/rice/tahini combo.  I have been making some green smoothies to increase the intake of greens by a  little but that can hardly count as cooking/meal prep. I'm thinking they are enough to be snacks or dinner (a very light dinner) at best because they don't keep me full for long! Anyway, this recipe comes from the bowl section of Isa Does It. It consists of pasta and chimichurri sauce, black beans, and some pumpkin, although I opted to use acorn squash. This comes together pretty quickly. I've never made a chimichurri so I'm not sure that I got it fine enough. But it was fresh and green and very zippy from the red wine vinegar and garlic. I feel like I didn't puree it enough because it didn't coat the pasta the way a sauce would but it was still delicious. This week I spent about 27 shekels at the farmer's market just on the parsley, cilantro, some spinach (for smoothies) and a couple of sweet potatoes. I had bought the pepitas and pasta last week and the beans I already had on hand. You can find the original recipe here

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shabbat Cooking: A Brief Recap

So this past weekend, I did something I haven't done in ages- host a meal at my place. While I always make chicken for my non-plant based friends, everything else that I made was plant-based. I made a cauliflower kugel using a thickened cashew sauce (I think this would be better with broccoli), Isa Chandra's Spinach Noodle Kugel from Veganomicon (was amazing!) and Sweet and Sour Brown Rice Salad from Isa Does It. I couldn't get any photographs because it was Shabbat but the rice salad was also delicious. It has a really nice spicy bite and I loved the crunch that the peanuts offered. You can find the recipe here. As we were six people and I made loads of food, there was a lot of leftovers. So much so that they served me for most of the beginning of this week and I chose to skip a meal plan recipe this week. Also, yesterday we had a fun day with the office, food provided, so nothing was necessary. I did buy spinach and bananas though so that I could start making some green smoothies. This video gave me hope that by adding green smoothies, my hair loss will stop. I'm hoping it will happen. In addition, I did go to the shuk picked up some stuff. Not alot but enough to set me back around 115 shekels. I bought two huge, fragrant and delicious melons, some bananas (that were really pricey but needed to be bought for smoothies!), kale, spinach and acorn squashes so I did have some expenditures this week. Hopefully, this coming week I'll get back to the regular programming and get back to cooking. Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meal Plan: June 14th- June 18th- Sunflower Mac

So I'm a bit on the exhausted side of things today but that's okay; all those episodes of Downton Abbey late at night are more than worth it. (Where have I been for the last five seasons?!) It is such quality television and just so so good. Anyway, this week, I flipped around the meal schedule again and made the Sunflower Mac. 
As you might already know, I have always disliked meat and cheese. I may or not have been the only child that never touched that neon orange excuse for macaroni and cheese. Even the real stuff grossed me out. The only way I'd ever consume cheese was if it were on pizza or in lasagna- essentially, in anything where the sauce or other ingredients were able to disguise the flavor of the cheese. What can I say? I take after my mother. I also really dislike things that are thick and creamy. So what drew me to make this recipe? I'm not really sure but it might have to do with the fact that I have seriously neglected the pasta chapter and also, I'm not sure I can call myself a proper vegan if I never made a vegan mac and cheese. And here we are. I initially was going to make the red pepper version but me and nightshades... we don't see eye to eye lately so that was out. I did take a few precautions to make sure that the creamy sauciness wouldn't overwhelm me. Firstly, I doubled the amount of pasta called for. (I should have tripled it!) I also added some peas to add color and more nutrition, sprinkled the top with some bread crumbs and nutritional yeast and BAKED this for about twenty minutes. The flavor to me is quite mild and not really very cheesy so I think real fans of mac and cheese might be disappointed. You might want to up the amount of nutritional yeast used here. All in all, I really liked this. It wasn't overwhelming for me and I really found it to be comforting, homey food. Oh and the best part? This week I spent a mere five shekels on food! That's right-- all I bought was a bag of pasta, a couple of carrots and two onions. A great feeling. The original recipe can be found here. Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Meal Plan: June 7th- June 11th- Chicky Tuna Salad Sandwiches

My am I tired. (As I typed that line, I let out a huge yawn.) Yesterday I celebrated my 28th birthday. It was kind of tough for me honestly; aging year by year does not get any easier!  My coworkers were really great and surprised me with balloons and lots of seasonal fresh fruit. I picked up my Vitacost order and books from the post office. They came just in time to be considered a birthday gift and I'm super thrilled to finally have Teff Love and The China Study Cookbook on the shelves. I also went to see the movie Spy with Melissa McCarthy and I gotta say, while parts of it were ridiculous, it was also ridiculously funny and I really enjoyed it. I'm a big fan of hers and seeing a woman who is not considered conventional by Hollywood's standards play the starring role was very empowering to me. I got home at around ten thirty and only managed to get into pajamas and brush my teeth before collapsing in to bed, exhausted. Which brings us full circle. :)
I can't tell you how many incarnations this month's meal plans went through. I had to change them up to replace the seitan recipes that I had chosen (turns out I dislike seitan!), and I had to replace the nightshade-full recipes for ones that were nightshade free so that my tummy wouldn't throw a tantrum. One of the recipes that I scheduled in was this recipe for Chicky Tuna Salad Sandwiches. No oven or stove required, pretty simple and perfect at room temperature for these warm spring days, this recipe was just the ticket. Now, I believe that everyone has their own tried and true recipe for tuna fish. Growing up, I loved my father's tuna fish, which he made with finely chopped red onion and kept it on the dry side. This was the stuff of Sunday afternoon lunches. While I don't miss it per se, I am kind of nostalgic and I did think of him while making this. The other extreme was the famous tuna fish of the local bagel shop. Full of mayonnaise and celery, a tuna bagel was a Friday afternoon staple. In making this recipe, I decided to use red onion instead of white as an homage to my dad's but the celery that was here really brought me back to my childhood and really gave this that authentic flavor that I associate with tuna fish. I did use a homemade tofu mayonnaise for this recipe and did keep it on the dryer side. And I had it with pita of course and not a bagel. 
I didn't need the supermarket this week; instead, I got all that I needed (including a couple of acorn squashes) from the farmer's market for a grand total of 26.60 shekels. Everything else for the week, I already had on hand. You can find this recipe here. Off to cover those 28 years of gray hairs! Until next time!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Falafel Burgers with Baked Curried Potatoes

My dear friends A and A gave birth to a beautiful baby boy a couple of weeks ago. A bunch of friends and family rallied together to get a meal train going for them and I signed up to bring them dinner this Tuesday. I must admit, I was a bit nervous. As you all know, I'm a WFPBNO eater and the thought of making something with meat, dairy or eggs just wasn't appealing to me. I didn't want to bring that into my house and I also didn't want to feed it to others if i wouldn't eat it myself. So something vegan/plant based was on the menu but I wasn't really sure what. Also, A is a huge foodie. Can you say intimidating? I can. In any case, as I am cooking through Isa Does It, I looked there for inspiration and decided to make the Falafel Burgers along with the Baked Curry Fries. I sent that along with pitot, Israeli salad and the miso- tahini from the same book. I have been off potatoes (see my previous post about my sensitivity to nightshades) so I didn't taste these. While I fried some patties for my friends, I left a couple for me to have for lunches for the rest of the week. They were really delicious and to me really tasted like authentic falafel but without the fat. I had them in pitot with some cucumbers and the miso-tahini. If you've prepared your chickpeas in advance then the mixture comes together really easily with the use of a food processor followed by some chill time. I love using my round cookie cutter to form the burgers. They come out perfectly shaped every time. These held together really nicely during cooking and afterwards. If you have the book, I would definitely recommend you give them a try. Aren't those fries picture perfect? You can find the fries recipe here

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meal Plan: May 31- June 4th- Roasty Soba Bowl... Or Something Like That

This week, I bring to you what was supposed to be the Roasty Soba Bowl. Except I had a bad experience, a fail actually, with the soba noodles. So I did what any good vegan would do and improvised from my pantry. Thankfully, I had a bag of whole wheat fusilli on hand and they cooperated with me just fine. This bowl is really easy. Cauliflower that is meant to be roasted (but obviously I was lazy so I just steamed it), plain cooked lentils (I already had frozen in the freezer), the noodles and the star of the bowl, the miso-tahini sauce. You may or may not know that I am in love with tahini (or techina as we Israelis call it) so this should come as no surprise. It's simply some white miso (the best), tahini and water mixed together. I couldn't be bothered to whip out the food processor just to blend a clove of garlic so I left it out. If you think this recipe looks pretty bland and beige, I'd agree with you-- it could handle some fresh greens so go for it if you feel like it. On the bland front, I'd say it's straight up comfort food. Make sure to be liberal with the tahini sauce.
In terms of the supermarket this week, I spent a total of 140 shekel, which included all the ingredients needed to make a meal for friends of mine who had just given birth. The bulk of this week's shopping was buying four bags of frozen vegetables, which will carry over to next week as I used only two bags so far. Also stocked up on more quinoa which was on sale again for a better price, at ten shekels a bag. And I bought another bag of lentils. And that's all. I closed this month having saved a significant amount so I'm glad and hoping I can keep it up for June as well. This brings May to a close; I will be continuing to cook through Isa Does It until the end of June. 

Breaking Up (With Potatoes) Is Hard to Do: A Health Update

How's this for a revelation?

About ten months ago, I transitioned from a raw food diet to The Starch Solution/McDougall way of eating. I was thrilled to be able to eat starches and potatoes and have it help me be healthy and manage my weight. And yet, ever since I made the transition, I noticed that the great moods and energy that I had exerienced while on raw seemed to have been fading away. I couldn't comprehend how I was eating so well and yet was experiencing poor moods and brain fog and lack of energy. I loved what I was eating but I was just feeling down. All the time. Reading post after post about people experiencing renewed energy on this WOE confused me-- how was this not me? I knew intuitively that something wasn't right, I just had no idea what my body was trying to tell  me.

Fast forward until about a month or two ago when I began having digestional distress- really bad flatulence and gas, and I started taking probiotics, thinking they would help my problem. I put my finger on the fact that potatoes were the culprit. A friend of my sister's confirmed they are a source of discomfort for her as well. It's funny- some Fridays, I would have potatoes and ketchup or salsa as a meal. I wouldn't eat anything else and I would still experience distress. It never even dawned on me that the potatoes were the reason why. I didn't want to give them up but when probiotics weren't helping all that much I knew that letting them go was inevitable. I did some research about sensitivity to nightshades and it would seem that I am indeed sensitive to them. Further reading indicated that some side effects of the nightshades are depression and mood swings. Suddenly, things began to make sense. I had been eating them for almost a year, it's no wonder I felt the way I did. And this whole time, the humble potato was responsible. Who would have thought? I know that there isn't scientific research or studies to back this up and there is no way to know for sure but my body doesn't lie. I hope this is the key to a happier future.Thankfully, after really giving them up, I feel great and my moods are much better. It was sad for me to part with my best friend the potato but I've given rice and quinoa and sweet potatoes top billing in my diet and you know what? They don't hurt me. True friends never do.