An update, and a simple pasta dish

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A few posts ago I answered some questions that I usually get about my food choices. Well, today I can answer two more. First, the more interesting question of “What happens if you eat meat?” Over the weekend I went with a close friend to Earthday Birthday, a local rock festival. He managed to have VIP tickets from work, and we both were able to enjoy the luxuries of a rock concert VIP. One of the many perks (my favorite being the VIP only portapotties) was free lunch and dinner. This was much appreciated as we were at the event from noon until almost 11 at night. The one downside, the free lunch was barbecue sandwiches, coleslaw, and potato salad. The dinner featured barbecue chicken breasts and beans. Prior to going down the vegan path, I ate a good amount of chicken. In fact, if you check out earlier recipes on this blog you will find several for meat dishes! I have been fully meat free since Thanksgiving, so five months. I had gone vegan several years before, and transitioned back into a standard American diet with no issues, so I figured this would be the same. I was wrong. My body was NOT happy with me, and in addition to the predictable issues with reintroducing meat to my diet, I had a stuffy nose for two days! Looking online, this seems to be a fairly common symptom.

Long story short, what happens if I eat meat? Terrible, terrible things


The second question I am answering tonight “Does it take a long time to cook dinner?” is less graphic and easier to answer. NO, does not take a long time to cook dinner! Tonight I came home from my second job, and within 15 minutes had a fresh meal, full of nutrients, ready to eat!

Pepper Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients

1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Portebella mushroom
5 crimini mushrooms
8 cherry tomatoes
some basil
1 box of pasta
4 cloves Garlic
2 tbs olive oil

Bring a large pot to boil (or until it gets really hot and starts to steam). Meanwhile, heat chopped garlic in olive oil on the stove. While the water is warming, and the garlic is cooking, chop the peppers and mushrooms. Add them to the olive oil. By now, the water should be warm, add in pasta. Chop tomatoes and basil. Once the peppers and mushrooms are showing signs of being cooked (they are shrinking!), add the tomatoes and basil and allow for the veggies to all cook together.

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So colorful!

The pasta and veggies should be done around the same time, roughly 15 minutes from when you started!

What I really love about this recipe is that it is extraordinarily affordable to make.

1 Red Bell Pepper $1
1 Green Bell Pepper $1
1 Portebella mushroom $1
5 crimini mushrooms $.50 (a box of mushrooms is about $2)
8 cherry tomatoes $.50 (a box of cherry tomatoes is about $2)
some basil $.50 (a package of basil is also about $2)
1 box of pasta $2
Garlic $.30
olive oil $.30 (way too lazy to calculate the cost for two tablespoons!)

Total: $6.60 and this dish will last at LEAST three meals! So one serving of this dish is $2.20…that is totally doable!

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Honey Mango Balsamic Pizza? A tale of two pizzas…

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So this recipe was all Kristina’s idea! We were going out later in the evening, and decided to cook a meal together before going out. Since she hadn’t cooked on here in a while, I asked her to choose a fun recipe, and one that I could convert to fit my vegan lifestyle!

She chose a recipe from pinterest Nectarine pizza with fresh basil and reduced balsamic. She seems to have a knack for finding fancy sounding recipes.

While Kristina chose to use goat cheese and parmesan, I was eager to try out my new Go Veggie Vegan Mozzarella Cheese. (A quick note on Go Veggie…sometimes, it still has milk products in it!) Now, the mozzarella was a little more, potent, then I recall real mozzarella to be, but I decided to try it out on this recipe.

We also couldn’t find reasonably priced nectarines or peaches…but honey mangoes were on sale! Why not try honey mangoes! So after completely altering the list of ingredients, we set off to cook.

I made my specialized pizza dough, as posted several times on my blog, recently in the post Pesto and Cream Cheese Based Green pizza. Seriously, if you have not tried this recipe yet, you need to try it…15 minutes to an amazing pizza crust!

Once the pizza crust is laid out, add the toppings. For this you will need

2 honey mangoes (cut into slivers and tiny pieces)
1 cup of fresh chopped basil
cheese of your choice
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar (save until after baking the pizza!)

First cover your dough with cheese. Kristina placed goat cheese on first, and the her parmesan. I generously sprinkled my cheese over my crust. Then add a healthy helping of sliced and diced mango. Finish the dish with half of the basil (the other half will be used after the dish is cooked). Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 500 degrees. Make sure your pizza does not burn!

While cooking the pizza, heat the balsamic vinegar on the stove, stirring continuously, allowing it to ‘reduce’. You know it is ready when it becomes thick, do not let it boil and waste!

When the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining basil on top, and lightly drizzle the balsamic vinegar. Slice and enjoy!

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The white plate is vegan, the black plate is not.

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Kristina enjoyed her non-vegan pizza!

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But she also conceded that mine was pretty good too! I was really pleased that the Go Veggie Cheese completely melted! While it did not taste completely like mozzarella, it worked perfectly with the other flavors!

A vegan kitchen, vegan fast food and junk food, a random entry!

One of the biggest questions I get about food is, what DO you eat? The term ‘vegan’ often leaves an unsavory taste in the public’s mind, and well, mouth. While I hope I have shed some light on the mystery food decisions of a vegan, I decided to dedicate this post to what a vegan kitchen, vegan junk food, and a quick vegan comfort meal might look like!


The scary vegan kitchen

First of all is the fridge. I go to the farmers market every Sunday, and get supplementary food from a fresh food store, and of course, publix. While my refrigerator might look sparse on Saturday, I start the week with something like this:

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I use my juicer every morning, with one orange, one apple, 10-15 strawberries, half a giant carrot, kale, and swiss chard (when available). Sometimes I add other fruit (cantaloupe, for example, when reasonably priced). I also eat a side salad every day at work with my regular lunch. The weird lettuce thing on the top shelf is ‘living lettuce’ and is sold with the root system intact! If kept in water in the fridge, it stays fresh for about a week! You just pick off the pieces you need.

Favorite appliances in a vegan kitchen: juicer, blender, rice cooker (for rehydrating beans), bread machine

See, that isn’t that scary!


Vegan junk and fast food

The other day I had to buy tires after work. I was there for two and a half hours, and was quite famished upon leaving. I also had no desire to cook…which is rare for me. I decided to order a pizza. With our fairly new health crazed nation, just about everything is documented somewhere online. Papa Johns is no exception. I am excited to report that a regular crust, cheese-less, meat-less pizza, without any weird dipping sauce is totally vegan. But what do you put on a cheese-less, meat-less pizza? Olives, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes! You could also opt to put on banana peppers, onions, and jalapeños, but I do not favor those particular toppings.

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This was seriously delicious!

Sometimes, when I leave work (especially if I worked at the before school program AND then taught) and I am on my way to Sylvan, I stop by taco bell. Gasp! Taco Bell has been pretty great to those of us who do not partake in a dairy and meat culture. Their signature ‘fresco’ menu replaces dairy with pico de gallo which is fantastic. My favorites? The black bean burrito fresco (beans, rice, pico de gallo, red sauce), the 7 layer burrito fresco (baked beans, lettuce, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, and something else…) and the new cantina burritos. So good!

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Good Job Taco Bell!

I am also a fan of oreos, tortilla chips, pretzels, and graham crackers (especially dipped in icing!)

Yes, all of that is vegan!


Comfort food.

Ending this on a cooking oriented note. I was eating nachos while writing this post. Nachos, made with:

tortilla chips
Boca Burger crumbles
Go Veggie Vegan Mozzarella (for some reason, Go Veggie only makes one vegan option, the rest are ‘lactose free’ but still contain milk)
corn
black beans
mushrooms
green bell peppers
tomatoes
cilantro.

Baked in the oven, placed on my plate, enjoyed by me.

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These were seriously good!

So there you go…what do I eat? I eat food, I eat plants, and I eat junk food…the same things most people eat, with a few substitutions!

Quinoa, that even my mother loved!

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Hello Blog world! Long time no see! So I have been slacking in writing…apparently Spring Break from work also translates to spring break for other activities…

Part of my relaxing week included a visit to my parents in Tallahassee. They have been very supportive of me and my culinary adventures, and even asked for me to cook a vegan meal for them! My mom is an amazing cook, and since I was only in Tallahassee for 48 hours, cooking a meal was a honor, albeit a little intimidating. I wanted to introduced them to quinoa, and settled on a lovely side dish of quinoa (recipe below). For a main course, I made my Vegan Green Pesto Pizza sans the fake cheese. To my complete surprise, the quinoa was the bigger hit! My dad liked the green pizza, my mom was a REALLY good sport about trying the unusual looking green dish! 🙂

I found this recipe for the Mediterranean Quinoa on Pinterest, from the blog Half Baked Harvest. It is delicious and incredibly easy to make!

Ingredients:

1 box of quinoa rice mix (leave out the spice packet)

2 cups sliced grape tomatoes
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives

“Dressing”
1 tbs kalamata olive juice (from the jar of olives!)
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Cook the quinoa according to the box. You can also use 1 cup of uncooked quinoa and 2 cups of water to create a quinoa only dish!

The dressing was simple, mix the olive juice, oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl (a prep bowl is perfect for this!) Let it sit, while everything else is being prepared.

Cut up the grape tomatoes, the spinach, and the olives, combine in a large bowl. Add quinoa when ready. Stir in dressing and mix thoroughly. Serve!

My parents loved this dish, and even suggested making it as a cristini topping! The original recipe calls for Feta cheese, for all of you non vegans out there!