Tag Archives: vegan cooking

Vegan Shortcuts

Everyone feels a little lazy now and then. Sometimes, I can barely muster up energy to put ingredients in a bowl, let alone chop and peel and dice. So, I’ve found some easy shortcuts that make cooking quick and easy.

1. Pre-chopped veggies: sure, it’s a little more expensive, but you can get pre-chopped onions, celery, tomatoes and other veggies at Publix. Our Kroger doesn’t have them, but sometimes Whole Foods does as well. They are great for lazy nights.

2. Canned Beans: I use canned because a) I find they are cheaper than dry beans and b) I just don’t have the patience to soak beans. Sure, I can soak them overnight the same way I do cashews, but truthfully, they intimidate me, and it’s easier to pop open a can and rinse the beans.

3. Nooch: I put that $%!^ on everything!: Not really a shortcut, but I find that nutritional yeast makes a really good substitute for Parmesan (for some reason, I can’t find vegan Parmesan in ATL), makes a great cheese substitute when you need a cheesy flavor, AND it’s a good source of B12. So, just sprinkle some noochy nooch for a b12 and flavor boost!

4. Frozen veggies: I know, fresh is usually best, but I’ve heard arguments that frozen veggies sometimes retain more nutritional value if they are flash frozen. . .or something. BUT, they are EASY. Especially the kind that steam right in the bag in the microwave. If I have a bigger grocery budget, this is usually my splurge. I cook the veggies, and then throw them into whatever stir fry I’m cooking up or serve as an easy side dish.

5. Pre-cubed tofu: If you are feeling EXTREMELY lazy, then you can actually buy your tofu pre-cubed. It saves about 2 minutes of cubing it yourself, but it’s good when you really don’t have a lot of time to throw dinner together. I have found that the pre-cubed tofu never seems like as much quantity as when I cube myself, so I save this extravagance for nights of uberlazy.

What are your favorite vegan cooking shortcuts?

DSCN3663

30th Birthday Part 3: Let’s go bowling

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. We were supposed to go to the in-laws for Mother’s Day, but my MIL got sick. So we spent a lot of the day lazing about and reading.

That night, we met up with my friends E & T. I grew up next-door to E, and we’ve been friends ever since. She lives up in Brookhaven, so we met them for an evening of bowling at 300 Atlanta.

300 Atlanta is a pretty swanky bowling alley with nice plush seating and your own “lane attendant” who will bring you drinks and food. Not much on the menu looked vegan friendly, but I do know that for special occasions, they’ll do a vegetarian buffet on request.

I did pretty well. Except for one game which was just abysmal.

Monday was my real birthday and D had one more surprise in store. . .

A hot stone massage!!!!

I love love love hot stone massages. He booked an appointment at Natural Body Spa and it was sublime. It’s been more than a year, if not more than two years since my last massage. Well, we did have a massage on our honeymoon, but it wasn’t a HOT STONE! I’m a little obsessed.

That night, we decided to chill out at home with some wine, and make a homemade pizza to christen our pizza stone.

We threw on Daiya, marinara sauce, avocado and soy crumbles. Delish!!

We also picked up some cupcakes from Carolyn’s Cupcakes and More in Oak Grove. They have Vegan cupcakes!!

It was an amazing birthday weekend. Thanks to my hubs for planning such a special entrance into my 30’s!

Isa's No-fried refried beans and quinoa

“We’re not having hot mush today. . .we’re having cold mush”

D and I have been traveling a lot the past month. Which means I haven’t been very good about planning meals. I went to the grocery store the other day and just bought a bunch of ingredients that I figured I could turn into something. . .

Which has resulted in a lot of meals looking like bowls of mush. Tasty mush, but mush.

It all started with Isa’s Tempeh Helper recipe from Appetite for Reduction. This was made pre-grocery trip with ingredients I had in my cupboard. Her Easy Chreezy Sauce is super easy and delicious. It’s so easy, I made it again tonight and put it over some rotini pasta.

For another quick meal, I made another Appetite for Reduction dish – Unfried Refried beans. Again, super tasty. Also super mushy. I spooned the beans over some quinoa to add a little bulk to the meal. Also, we had some homemade salsa which added a nice kick to the meal. And of course, topped it off with some Daiya cheddar.

And finally, it a great display of utilizing leftovers to make a complete meal, I took some of the leftover Ratatouille from the last vegan potluck and turned it into a sandwich. Add a side of leftover Tempeh Helper, and I had a filling Saturday lunch. Yes, a salad is missing from this plate.

And of course, I couldn’t cook with my little helpers. The gray blur is our cat Shiloh. River is in love with Shiloh, so he’s showing it by sniffing her bottom. She’s not to happy about it, but she loves him too.

So, my goal for the next few weeks is to try to make some non-mushy dinners!

What we ate last week

Life has been super busy lately. Luckily, it’s been busy with good things, but I have a nice backlog of photos from various dinners we’ve enjoyed recently.

I’ll start off with lunch! Sometimes, it’s hard to find vegan-friendly food in the food court at work. I stumbled upon this Cajun restaurant and notice that their veggies are all vegan friendly. Feeling good that my collards weren’t mixed with bacon fat, I ordered a plate of four veggie sides that really hit the spot. This place also offer pretty good tofu, but I was in the mood for a lighter dish.

Plate o' veggies

Next, one of my favorite spring/summer dishes are the Black Bean, Zucchini & Olive Tacos from Isa’s Appetite for Reduction. I omit the olives. Everything looks so colorful when it’s cooking in the pan!

About to be taco filling!

Finally, one of D’s absolute favorites is the Barbecue Beans and Rice from Dr. McDougall’s Quick and Easy Cookbook.  You can jazz this dish up with any other veggie you wish. I had some fresh red, green and yellow peppers – so into the pot they went!

BBQ Beans & Rice

You can probably tell I like “one-pot” types of dinners. I usually try to serve a side salad  too. I love anything that”s quick and easy!

 

Beans and (Veggie)Dogs

I’ve been obsessed with my slow cooker lately. The cold(ish) weather, plus busy days at work, plus evening activities like yoga class make me want a quick and easy dinner. I love EASY slow cooker recipes with little to no prep work. The kind of recipes where you just throw lots of stuff in the slow cooker and set it for 8 hours.

This recipe from I Married an Omnivore is just that (She has TONS of great looking slow cooker recipes, so you’ll probably see her recipes on the blog). Throw three cans of baked beans (I used Whole Food’s fat free baked beans), some sliced up veggie dogs (I used Smart Dogs), some onions, some molasses, ketchup and mustard in the slow cooker, mix together and voila! A super easy supper.

No woof, lots of yum

I served with some brown rice from the rice cooker (it cooked while I took the dog on his evening walk) along with a sprinkle of Daiya Cheddar and a dollop of Tofutti sour cream.

I’m going to try some slow cooker stew, slow cooker “pot roast,” and a new lasagna recipe in the next couple of weeks!

Do you have any slow cooker favorites?

Interview with the Happy Herbivore – Lindsay Nixon

Since embarking on this journey, I’ve been exploring the blogosphere for inspiration and recipes. One such blog I’ve recently discovered is the Happy Herbivore, Lindsay Nixon. She features yummy recipes, inspiration, and practical advice for those looking to make a healthier lifestyle change and make a positive impact on our environment (and be friendly to our animal friends).

Happy Herbivore

Happy Herbivore

Lindsay has recently released a new cookbook that you can purchase on amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or IndieBound.org. She was so kind as to include Fish Taco Fanatic on her blogger book tour. Below is my interview with the Happy Herbivore (I’m like a regular Barbara Walters!):

Quick background for those who aren’t familiar with Happy Herbivore. How long have you been vegan, and what made you make the change?

I’ve been vegan for 4+ years. I was initially vegetarian after a health scare (I thought being veg would help me make better food choices) and then I went veganism as an experiment a year later. The positive changes and benefits were so substantial that I stuck with it. I was also persuaded to stay vegan based on the health benefits, the plight of farm animals, the environmental-eco aspect and to help fight world hunger.

I’m new to the plant strong/nutritarian/vegan diet. What advice would you give to make the switch to vegan eating?
Focus on what you can eat rather than everything you gave up. Use this as an opportunity to explore new ingredients and cuisines. I each a much wider diet now than I did as an omnivore.

I’d really call myself plant strong vs. vegan, since I’ve only changed the way I eat, and haven’t totally switched over yet. I have vegan friends who are 100% vegan in everything they do, from food to hair products to makeup to dog food. Did you find it difficult to change your everyday behaviors? Was it a gradual journey?

I’m moved by the plight of animals, which has helped me incorporate vegan into all aspects of my life – beyond my plate. It’s been a changing journey though, as I’m much more militant now than I was in the past. For example, I don’t own or wear leather, but when I was first eating vegan, I could not afford to replace all my shoes, so I sort of stopped buying leather and eventually switched them out as I could. I’ve always avoided products that were tested on animals, so that was nothing new for me.

I changed my eating habits two weeks ago, and I’m already feeling healthier (and lost a few pounds too) – Do you remember what immediate benefits you experience when you went vegetarian and then vegan? 

I lost some weight as a vegetarian but was amazed at how quickly and easily it slipped off as a vegan. What was most shocking was how well my face cleared (it’s still not perfect, but what a difference!) and the fact that I basically eliminated all my digestive issues
overnight. I had a huge surge in energy as well; which led me to run my first marathon 10 mos after going vegan without having so much as ran a 5k before. The important thing, though is like you say to be “plant strong” — keep veg in vegan. A lot of people switch to vegan but then eat a lot of fake meats, fake cheese, and are disappointed they don’t have the same immediate benefits.

I’m a big documentary fan, and Food, Inc. was really a catalyst for me, thinking about the way I eat, where my food comes from, and then making this change in my life. Do you have any must-see movie or book recommendations that you found helpful on your journey to becoming vegan?

I keep hearing great things about Forks Over Knives! A documentary that is not necessarily “go vegan” but quite eye-opening is King Corn and I think it’s free on Hulu.

I love your website and your cookbook is on my wedding registry! I read you have another in the works. What can we expect from your second cookbook that is different, and when is it due out?

The new book — so far it has a lot of world influence, a lot of ethnic recipes; I had some ethiopian and indian in the last book, but I’m really trying to include other tastes here. So far there is a lot of Indian, Cajun, Italian and Mexican.

What is your favorite recipe from your cookbook?
I seem to switch between the queso, nacho cheese and cornbread. I’m equally obsessed with all three, but right now I’m hungry for nachos.

Final question. As you can tell from my blog, I’m a fish taco lover, which isn’t a part of the new plan. Any suggestions on taco recipes I should try?

HH’s chickpea tacos — or you can use my tofu fish filet to make your tacos again!

http://happyherbivore.com/2008/05/chickpea-tacos/

http://happyherbivore.com/2009/06/tofu-fish-fillet/

Lindsay was also kind enough to share a recipe with us. I’ve registered for a cuisinart for the wedding, so I’m looking forward to being able to make this recipe with ease. I hope you enjoy too:

Black Bean Burgers (makes 3) – I love a good and quick meal, and this burger fits the bill perfectly.

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
whole-wheat breadcrumbs or instant oats
whole-wheat buns

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. Pulse beans in a food processor until mashed well or alternatively, mash with a fork. Transfer to a mixing bowl and combine with cilantro and spices. Add breadcrumbs or oats as necessary until the mixture can be handled and isn’t terribly sticky, about 1/4 c. If after 1/4 c. it’s still too sticky, refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes. Shape mixture into 3 patties. Lightly spray with cooking spray (optional) and bake 7 minutes. Flip and re-spray (optional) and bake another 7 to 10 minutes until thoroughly warm and crisp on the outside. Serve immediately. Because there is no oil, these patties dry out if you let them sit.

Thanks again Lindsay!