Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Flowers, Vegan Leftovers, Co-Op Cafe Eats

I'm going to start a little backwards here.  When I got home from work yesterday I noticed something colorful in the backyard.  I HAD to investigate!  This is what greeted me!  How lovely!  I moved into the house I am living in prior to DH and I getting married so I think I've lived there about 16 years since our 15th Anniversary is coming up soon.  I don't remember these flowers back then BUT the last 3 or so years they have been popping up!  Nature is mysterious and gorgeous...isn't it?  I can't wait for more signs of spring!  I will be sure to report!

For some reason I could edit all my photos except for this 2nd one and I don't know why but it wouldn't let me flip it.  This was my dinner (times 3) last night!  I worked off of leftovers once again!  Sweet Potato Chickpea Wraps.    In addition to mashed Sweet Potato and Chickpeas I added Corn, Diced Tomato, and Jack Daiya Cheese.  It was way better than I expected it to be!

After I used some of the Diced Tomato, Corn, and Chickpeas I then had more leftovers to use.  I ended up making that happen in the next few photos.  I have to warn you - this will be a LONG post today with MANY photos!  I almost forgot to show you the meal I had at the Co-Op with my parents and sister last weekend so that is below, too!

But before I get to those photos I have these next few pics to share.  It's a progressive dish using leftovers!

It all started as a Bowl.  I used Spinach, Corn, Sweet Potato, Chickpeas, and Diced Tomatoes.  I topped with a Tahini Sauce and sprinkled Nutritional Yeast.  I will have the recipe for the Tahini Sauce in a little bit but first I wanted to show you how the leftovers transformed into additional meals.

I sampled the bowl and it was ok.  It kind of felt like it was missing something.  Before moving on and tinkering with the dish I mixed up what I had and took a pic.

The only other thing I added to this was Turmeric.

Recipe for Tahini Sauce:

1/4 C Tahini
5 T Water
2 T Lemon Juice
1 T Maple Syrup

I also forgot to mention I seasoned the Chickpeas wish Cumin and Garlic.

Now...THIS is the TICKET, folks!  This is the 3rd and final attempt and the real winner of the bunch!

I added more of the Tahini Sauce, Smoked Paprika, Pistachio's, and Jack Daiya Cheese!  BAM!!!

Now the only thing I have left is 1 Sweet Potato, a little Cauliflower, and Spinach.  I'll have to see what I can come up with using those items!

Moving on...

This past Saturday my parents, sister, and I went to Erie to check out Baby's R US and Target for my sister's baby registries.  They had a bunch of questions about car seats and such.

After all of the shopping stuff I suggested we go to the Co-Op Cafe.  The Wholefoods Co-Op Cafe, that is.  We had a nice time!  First up - some snapshots of our drinks!  Mine - the green one - is called Alkaline Heaven.  It had Cucumber, Carrot, Celery, Spinach, and Apple.  My father got the orange one in the back.  It was called Sunrise.  It had Carrot, Apple, Orange, Pear, and Lemon.  He tries to stay away from Cucumbers.  I think it was the only one that didn't have Cucumbers in it.  Both were good.  I sampled everyone's!  My mom and sister got smoothies.  The Triple Berry Smoothies to be exact.  They had Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Orange Juice, and Almond Milk.  Yes...the BOTH opted for the Almond Milk over the standard.

Mom, Megan, and I chose the soups they had that day.  Mom grabbed the Tomato Garlic and it was VERY garlicky.  Megan decided to go with the Chickpea one.  They both ordered smalls.  I went with the LARGE and gobbled up the Apricot Red Lentil Soup which is one of my FAVORITES there!  My other favorite is a Spicy Peanut something or other but I haven't seen it there in YEARS.

There is just something about this Apricot Red Lentil that I cannot get enough of!  I could seriously drink it by the vat!  As you can see I was messy with it while putting it in the container.

My Dad went with the Cheese Pizza on Whole Wheat Dough.  It wasn't vegan because of the dairy cheese but at least it was meat-free!

And finally...we scored this VEGAN COOKIE!  It was about as big as my face!  All 4 of us shared it!  Everyone liked EVERYTHING they had!  I have to say this VEGAN COOKIE was probably the BEST I have had to date!  YUMMERS!

It's been another busy week and the next several days are going to follow suit.  I like being busy.  I actually get more accomplish when I am busy than when the days are less filled with various tasks and activity!

But then again...I have always been BACKWARDS.  When I was in school I did better when I had all the extras going on.  Then when I ONLY had studies happening.  The busier I was the better my grades.   Now...the busier I am - all around - the better work is!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2 Items I Didn't NEED...But BOUGHT Anyways!

Before I get to the 2 items I didn't NEED but bought anyways...I thought I would show you my BRUNCH today!  It's Sweet Earth's Kyoto Stir Fry Bowl.  It's something I picked up about a month ago while on our regional shopping spree.  I found it at the Erie Target.  It had some heat to it and I liked it!  I don't eat enough Edamame mostly because it's not often readily available where I live.  As are many things, I suppose.  But I still make do with what I have.  Don't we all?

On to the FIRST of TWO items I didn't NEED but bought anyways!  I found this 'bad boy' at my local Tops!  I was just strolling thru the aisles and saw it.  I swear the sky opened up and the angels sang!  Garlic Tahini?  All in one tub?  AWESOME!  I know I am probably LATE TO THE PARTY here and this may not be a NEW item or a NEW brand to many/all of you but it is me!  I haven't seen the Sesame King brand here so I was pretty stoked!

Come to find out they have other FLAVORS of Tahini, too!  They have Light Roast, Roasted, Honey, Chocolate, Garlic, Olive Oil, Cajun, and Tomato Basil!  Out of all of them I have to say I am the most excited about the Tomato Basil and the Cajun!  Other than the Garlic I bought, of course!  Too bad my local Tops only sells the Garlic.  I totally understand why they only carry that one, tho!  It's a new product and an alternative product and not many people around here would be looking for it in an aisle!

The other item I bought this past week but didn't really NEED to was Mikoyo's Sundried Tomato Garlic!  I was in Erie on Saturday and stopped by the Whole Foods Co-Op and found it on sale again!  $2 off!  How could I resist!?  So this was $7.99 and the Tahini was $4.99.  That's already $13 for those 2 items so eventho I won't be doing that much more shopping this week I did splurge a bit on those TWO items!  I realized I haven't shared with you pics from the meal I had with my parents/sister over the weekend - hopefully tomorrow!

But for today I will leave you with another furkid foto!  Here is Paco and Cricket from the other night.  I think Paco was just as surprised as I was that Cricket took time out of her busy schedule to plop right down next to him and take a nap on the sofa!  It's nearly spring and that means that Paco's eyes will be watery and staining.  It's time for me to do a natural and gentle pet friendly eye wash SOON!  It will go on the fur NOT the eye, of course!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Eating Vegan On A Budget: Stretching Your Vegan Cheese Recipes

If not all of my vegan cheese sauces - MOST of my vegan cheese sauces seem to be a 'one and done'.  Meaning I throw everything into my blender - wet and dry - make the cheese sauce - and throw it on whatever I am wanting to CHEESE UP.  Especially if I am using cashews or another kind of nut for the creamy base this will be a pretty expensive vegan cheese sauce...considering a pound of cashews are anywhere between $11 and $16.  When I have made Vegan Cheese Sauces in the past I usually use 1 cup of cashews on the average.  So that means 1 cup of cashews for 1 dish.  After Googling this I have noticed that you usually get about 4 cups of cashews in a pound.  So that means that I'm spending between $2.75 and $4 per dish just on the cashews (if they are between 11 and 16 bucks).  WHAT?  OMG!  So...there is a method for all of this MADNESS here, REALLY!  PROMISE!  Keep reading...

I recently came across a recipe on Veg Kitchen and it was a recipe from Miyoko Schinner.  Yes...THAT Miyoko Schinner!  Miyoko...the Vegan Cheese Goddess!  You can see her recipe at the link above.  You know me - I use what I have on hand - so I tried a few tweaks - and they seemed to work nicely!  The first photo above is the aftermath of this recipe my first day.  The second photo is from ALMOST the beginning.  I used my Vitamix.  I can't believe I'm going to say this but I don't think a Vitamix is the way to go with this.  Unless you are REALLY patient and do it 'low and slow'.  If you KNOW ME - you know I'm NOT the most patient person.  It WORKED tho!  This was my first attempt.  There were some clumps but I put individual portion sizes of the dry mix in the refrigerator and then when I took one of them out I put it in a coffee grinder to loosen and 'all was well.'

Here you can see the coffee grinder attempt to 'fluffen' the dry powdery mix.  I have a small coffee grinder that I use for spices and such.  I don't use it as an actual coffee grinder.  When making the actual SAUCE I take 1/3 C of this mixture and whisk it into 1 C of Almond Milk and about 1/3 C Water.  And then you have your sauce.  I was able to get at least 4 batches of sauce with this dry mix.  It's described my many as a vegan equivalent to the dry mix in boxed Mac & Cheese!

So if I was able to get at least 4 uses out of this dry mix - the serving sauce on the cashew part - is between 69 cents and $1 - if the 1 pound of cashews cost $11 to $16.  I know this has been one HUGE blab fest about the cost of cashews and serving sizes but I thought it was interesting.  This will NOT make me stop trying other Vegan Cheese Sauces, flavors, mixtures, etc. but it's certainly something to keep in mind when the bank account it lower than usual.

I will say that it tasted quite good.  It's not a sharper cheese sauce like some of mine are but it more than gets the job done.

In this photo you can see what it looks like as I whisked!  Yes, I know, I'm a messy cook!

What do you think so far?  I have more photos!

In this attempt - the same one as above - I used a tomato based penne pasta.  It was pretty fabulous!  In the photo below I added some Turmeric to the dry mix or even while on the stove top heating and thickening.  It made it more orange/yellow.  I used organic pasta.  The elbow variety of course.  I topped with Wildtree Dill.  It was YUMMY.  At first I thought that there was a lot of sea salt in this but it worked.  And if you think about salt/sodium in those boxed powders it probably levels up!

Here's the recipe I used - including my own alterations...

1 C Cashews
3/4 C Nutritional Yeast
1/2 C Garbanzo Bean Flour
1 T Smoked Paprika
1 T Organic Cane Sugar
3 tea Black Himalayan Sea Salt
2 tea Wildtree Absolutely Onion
2 squirts Yellow Mustard

I put all of these ingredients into a blender/grinder until powdery.

1/3 C Dry Mix
1 C Almond Milk
1/3 Water

Whisked on low to medium heat until desired consistency is reached.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Chowder

It's a NEW Week!?  Are you ready!?  I'm TRYING.

I have to tell you I already have LOTS to share this week but I'm going to try and pace myself so I can post something at least once each day!  I would like to start off the week by sharing this AMAZING Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Chowder I attempted last night!  I combined 2 online recipes and then added a few other things to it.  I altered it so much that I think that I can safely put the recipe here on my blog.

Ingredients for Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Chowder:

1 Small Head of Cauliflower
2 Sweet Potatoes
5 C Water
1 C Cashews
1 T Wildtree Absolutely Onion
5 Cloves Garlic
1 tea Basil
2 to 3 tea Braggs Liquid Aminos

Most of the soups I do - I throw everything into my blender and DONE.  This one took a few more steps.

First I took 3 C Water and boiled.  I added the Cauliflower that I broke up into smaller chunks, added the Sweet Potatoes that I cut up into smaller chunks and too the skin off, and added the Onion, Garlic, and Basil to the pot.  I put them on medium until soft.

While I was waiting for them to get soft - I moved over to my Vitamix and put the other 2 C Water in my blender along with the 1 C of Cashews.  I blended those until it looked like milk.  

I then added the Cashew Milk I just made in my blender to the pot of Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes, etc that was on the stove and simmered for another 5 minutes or so.  This is when I added the Bragg's Liquid Aminos, too!

I then took about 75% of the contents and put it in my blender again and blended until smooth.  I added it back to the pot and stirred it.  

I just HAD to try a bowl (or two) and absolutely LOVED it!!!!  YUMMO!  I topped the individual serving bowl(s) with a sprinkle of Smoked Paprika and Nutmeg!   WOWZA!  Totally LOVE this soup!  Or is it a CHOWDER?  You be the judge!

It made an INSANE amount so I will surely been eating it for DAYS!  YAY!

It's been a while since I posted any photos of the furkids.  Not sure why.  Here is Riley on the left and Cricket on the right.  They snuggled up on my lap on DH's Recliner (I rarely sit in it).  Luckily I had my iPhone nearby to snap this pic.  This was Saturday Night.  They were touching 'cheek to cheek' and I don't mean the cheeks on their faces! haha!

Cricket was kind of a little terror this weekend.  She's about 4-ish but she still acts like a puppy!  After all the activity of the weekend and her tear-assin' around the house - this was her last night - sacked out on my lap.  She has gained a little weight since we adopted her over 2 years ago but she still only weighs 7 pounds at the most.  She's so small.  Especially when she crawls into a little ball and sleeps!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sleep & Music

The last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with different sleeping habits.  One in particular was the addition of listening to music while I sleep.

I have found that this is helping me get to sleep, get better sleep, and when I wake up - it seems like I can get back to sleep quicker.

I guess in a way I'm pairing this with meditation at the end of the day, too.  So I'm able to achieve 2 daily goals with 1 action.

Where am I finding 8-hours of Meditative Sleep Music?  YouTube.  You can even type in what kind of sleep music.  HERE I typed in for Fibromyalgia.

Friday, March 24, 2017

I Spent Under $3 on Groceries This Week!

This blog post title might be a little misleading but it's TRUE.  Let me explain.

I'm still working on consuming my MASSIVE Haul from about 4 weekends ago where I shopped at Target and the Whole Foods Co-Op in Erie as well as Trader Joe's in Woodmere, OH, and a little bit of bargains found at my local Aldi Store AND Tops Market.

This week I only bought 2 items and those items were 1 Avocado and a package of Tortilla Wraps.  I bought both at Aldi and spent under $3.

I ended up spending more on the Avocado than I wanted to but I was CRAVING one and for the first time EVER I ate 1 Avocado over a 2 day period.

My mother must have bought a bunch of Halo/Cuties last week because she pawned off 4 of them to me.  They came in HANDY because I had all 4 of them for breakfast today.  Freebies!  Gotta LOVE them!

I have been pondering the $30 Vegan Shopping Challenge for a while now.  I know I will do it at some point.  I would like to commit to doing it within the next week or two but it might be unfair because I still have things to eat from my previous shopping trips.  Perhaps I will try and do it and just make a note on what new items I buy.  I'm not sure if I will do a video or not because my area is really weird about that.  Not sure if I could pull off a video at my local Aldi's!  But you never know!  I'll blog about it at the very least!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Wraps, More Dips!

This is a classic Left Over Wrap!

This contains the last little bit of tofu I had in the freezer.  I seasoned it with Wildtree Memphis Seasoning.  I also used left over corn and black beans.

I melted some Daiya 'Jack' Shreds on the wrap and added the rest of the ingredients and that was my wrap!

1/3 Block of Tofu, Frozen, then Thawed
1/2 C Black Beans
1/2 C Corn
Handful of Daiya Shreds
Pinch of Wildtree Memphis Dry Rub (to season tofu)
1/2 Avocado, smashed (with lemon juice)
2 T Salsa

All in a skillet (except Daiya, Avocado, Salsa) with Earth Balance, until done.

For a separate meal/snack I did the remaining multi-colored mini potatoes in a skillet with pumpkin oil until crunchy.  I also made a Lemon Dill Cashew Dip for them.

2 C Cashews
1 C Water
1/4 C Oil (I used Pumpkin)
4 tea Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tea Nutritional Yeast
6 T Lemon Juice
1-2 tea Wildtree Dill
Pinch of Pink Himalayan Seas Salt

This Lemon Dill Dip was AMAZING!!!!  It could simply be watered down more for a dressing.  I tried to do this and I found equal parts Water, ACV, and Lemon Juice worked nicely!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Random Leftovers & Sauces & Wraps

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!  The weather here certainly was more pleasant than the earlier part of the week was.  I'm hoping the snow is done and over with for this winter and we can continue on with your adventure of SPRING!

My post today will be a little all over the place.  I've been eating some strange food combos but everything has turned out pretty YUMMY!  I want to be sure I am not wasting food and using what I have before buying much more.  So far this has been going well.  I'm on a bit of a wrap kick but more on that shortly.

First I need to share with you one of the new dips I created last night.  It's a vegan version of a pink sauce that I saw on Giada.  It was on at DH's Grandmothers yesterday and I knew I could do a vegan version of it fairly easily!

Here is what I did for the vegan version I made...

1 C Vegan Mayo
4 or 5 Mini Sweet Red Peppers (or 2 Medium)
1 T Minced Garlic
2 T Lemon Juice
Sprinkle of Smoked Paprika

It was pretty YUMMY but next time I will be adding more sweet red bell peppers and more garlic!  Because that's the way I roll!

The veggies pictured in the first photo were left over from DH's Grandmothers House...we had a belated birthday for both him and I as our birthdays are only 6 days apart.  I treated myself to a Daiya Pizza and So Delicious Mint Chocolate Ice Cream (both vegan, of course)

The other night I had Vegan Mac & Cheese.  You have probably seen a LOT of Vegan Cheese Sauces I have done here on my blog so I figured I would share yet another one with you!

This one is a Nut-Free Version

2 Mini Red Bell Peppers
1/4 C Lemon Juice
3/4 C Nutritional Yeast
3/4 C Tahini
2 T Minced Garlic
1/2 C Water
1 Squirt of Yellow Mustard
Black Himalayan Sea Salt to taste

Now on to the leftovers, eh!?

I had a very little bit of my Tater Tot Casserole that I froze.  I threw that on top of the stove along with some corn and some leftover tofu cubes.  I took a wrap and warmed it up with a slice of Daiya on it - enough to melt it.  Then I threw the rest of the warm ingredients on top of that and made a wrap!  But not before adding about a tablespoon of salsa on top!

This was super YUMMY and certainly a comfort food for the WIN!

 Like I said I have been on a wrap kick lately so here is another I did.  This is a Vegan Breakfast Wrap.  My main goal here was to use multi-colored baby potatoes I bought at Aldi's not too long ago but needed to start using SOON as well as finish up the Daiya Shreds I had on hand.  Mission Accomplished!  Let me tell you what is in this one, shall I?

Leftover Cubed Tofu
Leftover Corn
White & Purple Mini Potatoes
Daiya Shreds

I also threw in some Egg Trick Seasoning that I had leftover from when I did my Egg Trick Bagel last week!  This worked out VERY WELL!  It was tasty!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Sources!

I figured SUNDAYS are a good time to share some of the research I have been doing lately!  One of the many sources I have come a crossed lately is the site.  I don't know why I haven't visited the site sooner!

It's an online narrative review of peer-reviewed, scientific research papers, and educational resources that are relevant to plant-based nutrition. Links to the abstract are included with every article, and links to the free full articles are included when possible! A narrative review is a collection of research papers supporting a particular theory - this website is by no means an exhaustive directory of all research on nutrition and disease but presents the growing body of evidence supporting the theory that whole food, plant-based diets offer the best chance for avoiding chronic disease, and in some cases, reversing it.

I'm always interested in learning more and more each day and I think this site is a great way of doing it so I declare PlantBasedResearch this Sunday's Source of the Day!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alkaline Vegan Foods?

Last weekend I mentioned that I was researching Alkaline Vegan Foods!

Here are the 8 MOST Alkaline Foods...and guess what...THEY ARE VEGAN!

I then HOPPED OVER to One Green Planet and found some really awesome vegan foods and recipes that I will have try soon!  Some of them were: 

Za’Atar Grilled Eggplant Salad

Green Pea and Avocado Spread

Onion and Bell Pepper Masala

Cauliflower Cheese Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Coconut Dal


Summer Zoodle Glow Bowl With Creamy Avocado Lime Sauce

Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions

They seem fairly simple to attempt for the most part.  I have been thinking lately I am over thinking some of the foods I have been looking into eating!    I can't wait to jump into a few of these recipes and soon!  I'm sure I will put my own twist on them and shy or stray from their recipe(s) but it's a great place to start, right?