Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Veggie Pizza Boats

Its been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me and now that things are settling down I can finally sit down to do a post.  I have been eating out frequently and cooking here and there, so I am really glad to be back to a normal schedule where I can cook every night.  I have been really doing good about brown bagging it at work, but when I get home it seems that I just opt for ordering out.  Now that I am back in my groove I wanted to post something simple and scrumptious that make the bridge to getting back on track easy for you too!

So one day when I was feeling down my best friend. Caity, invited me over for dinner to cheer me up.   And she did.  She made vegan pizza boats.  And they were awesome.  I loved pizza boats as a kid, and completely had forgotten about them.  She always knows how to get me feeling back to normal.  This is her recipe and I just had to share it with y'all.  These pizza boats are so easy and quick that you can throw them together in 20 minutes.

She made them a couple times for me and used different toppings every time,  so they are versatile and you can use whatever veggies or other toppings that you want!  The first time she used a easy vegan cheeze sauce made with nutritional yeast, the second time she topped them with avocado and nutritional yeast.  My version tonight uses raw veggies instead of her sautéed version(which is equally awesome) sprinkled with just nutritional yeast, because I can be a lazy vegan.

Feel free to judge me.

I gave this recipe a try last night...and the night before.... just to make sure I could duplicate it and make it as yummy as hers.

      Veggie Pizza Boats:
1 loaf fresh Italian bread
1 zucchini
4 baby bella mushrooms
2 teaspoons chopped onion
pizza sauce (I used organic Delallo)
1 clove fresh garlic
cherry tomatoes
nutritional yeast
fresh basil
4 tbsp. olive oil
fresh spinach
coarse salt
Italian seasoning
fresh ground pepper

Cut loaf into four pieces, so that you have boat like quarters.  Mix seasonings (Italian seasoning, S&P and minced garlic clove) in olive oil.

Spread oil and herb mixture onto bread.  (If you have a silicon brush, now is the time to use it, I don't have one, so I used a teaspoon.)  Then bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes to toast bread.  This is an important step, so that your boats don't become soggy. 

Spread pizza sauce onto boats, then cover with spinach leaves and then cover in toppings.

Bake boats for an additional 10 minutes.

Top with nutritional yeast and broil for an additional 2 minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped basil, I bought my tiny organic basil plant at Whole Foods for $3.99.

Serves two hungry vegans.

Monday, November 4, 2013

5 Ingredients or less: Veggie Fried Brown Rice

     Being a Veg means that sometimes we make recipes with a pretty hearty ingredient list.  I honestly don't mind, the flavor pay off is more than worth it to me.  Saying that, some people (vegans included) can be turned off by long ingredient lists.  I can completely understand why, throwing a handful of ingredients together is considerably less time consuming than assembling a recipe comparable to a build your own rocket kit.

    My Aunt Audrey, who is very encouraging and supportive, mentioned that my previous post Spicy Vegan Quinoa Chili contained an extensive recipe list.  I realized that just like an overwhelming recipe with 15 or more ingredients, the concept of being vegan is overwhelming.  Its a lot to take in.    She inspired me to try and create recipes with only a handful of ingredients to simplify veganism and make it more accessible to everyone.  In my head I imagine these recipes to be pantry friendly, wholesome, healthy and inexpensive.  The task is challenging but somehow, I find it strangely fun.  In fact, I'm such a food geek, and enjoyed the challenge so much I plan on attempting this once a month.

     These recipes will not necessarily be main courses, I will try to switch it up between breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks.  Of course, since I am not Martha Stewart's evil vegan twin, so extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, cooking sauces and S&P will not be included in the ingredient count. 

     The first trial did not go so well.  Okay it was pretty terrible.  Really terrible.  I grabbed dinner from Whole Food's bar a few weeks ago and got way to much per usual.  One of the dishes I tried was a potato and pea curry.  Woah!  It was so tasty!!  I thought that I would be a no brainer to recreate, right?  Umm, yeah...no.  Not so easy.

This is not over.  We will meet again evil curry.

Or meet again again, because I had to eat it for lunch the next day, I have a hard time throwing perfectly good food out.

I did redeem myself tonight with this fried rice.  It is all of the things you never thought 5 little ingredients could be.  Wholesome, nutritious, healthy and inexpensive. 

It is a good idea to cook you brown rice the night before you plan on cooking this or even the morning of would be okay.  For best results the rice should be refrigerated before frying. Cold rice fries up better than freshly cooked rice, it tends to not become as mushy. 

To cook brown rice add two parts water: to one part rinsed brown rice.  In a medium sized pot bring water and rice to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 40 min.  Remove from heat and fluff rice with a fork.

Veggie Fried Brown Rice

1.)  2 c. Brown Rice (cooked)
2.)  1 lg. carrot (cubed)
3.)  1/3 c. frozen peas
4.)  1 c. baby bella mushrooms (quartered, I used organic)
5.)  1 lg. zucchini (cut in sticks)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons e.v. olive oil on medium high heat.  Cook 1/3 cup onion and 1 large clove of garlic for a few minutes.  Add carrots and cook for 5 minutes more.  Then add peas and scoot onion, carrots and peas to one side of the pan.  Add quartered mushrooms on the unoccupied side of the pan and give them a bit of room, they don't like to be crowded (they are finicky because they are delicious and they can be). 

Once the mushrooms are cooked through, add them to the peas and carrots.  Then add the zucchini and give them a nice color. 

Turn down the heat to medium.  Then go once around the pan with Bragg's amino liquid, then twice around the pan with Tamari.

Now add the cold brown rice, mix it all up and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.  Garnish with green onions and serve with edamame.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spicy Vegan Quinoa Chili

     Don't you just love fall?  Next to spring, it is my favorite time of year.  I think fall aroma's might just might be my favorite thing about the season.  I mean the smell of apple, cinnamon, pumpkin, and spice are just so comforting.  What are some of your favorite things about fall?

     Soups and stews come in a close second on the favorite list for fall things.  My GranMa Ernestine makes some of the best soups and stews I have ever had.  But now that I have crossed over to the dark side, I am exploring some cruelty free recipes that bring me as much happiness as her cooking once did.  That is exactly what the chili recipe does, it is delicious!!!  Just in time for cooling temperatures and shorter days.

     Being that I work full time and attend school part time cooking healthy vegan meals daily can be more than challenging.  Due to being too busy throughout the week to cook, I generally end up eating out for days or weeks at a time.  Eating out like this makes my body and my wallet really unhappy.  Making a big batch of chili that fills my freezer and body with home cooked veggie packed deliciousness is a perfect solution to my time constraints.  By the way, this chili freezes really well.

     I like to pair this chili with cornbread or atop a pile of macaroni noodles to make chili mac.  Tonight, I used avocado and green onion as a garnish, and they really kicked up the flavor. A few weeks back I took this chili(mac) with me on a camping trip with a group of omnivores and everyone was really surprised with how tasty it was.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

     I modified this chili recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  I changed up some of the tomato varieties, bean proportions, upped the heat level and increased the veggies.  I also omitted the zucchini and added in some corn kernels.  The link to the original recipe is here: Vegetarian Quinoa Chili.

     I also forgot to soak my beans the night before, so I ended up quick soaking them the night of making this recipe.  The method I use to quick soak my dried beans is to add 3 parts water: 1 parts bean, in a big pot uncovered and bring it up to a boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and cover pot with a lid, then soak for one hour.  After an hour, rinse the beans in a colander, add them back to the pot with fresh water and boil for 30 minutes.  Then simply drain and add to your recipe!

Spicy Vegan Quinoa Chili

2 medium carrots (chopped)
3 stalk celery        (chopped)
3 tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno             (finely chopped)
1 green bell pepper(chopped)
1 red bell pepper   (chopped)
1 medium onion    (chopped)
3 garlic cloves        (minced)
1 16oz can diced tomatoes
1 10oz can diced tomatoes w/ chili's
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup of water or veggie broth
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 c. cooked quinoa
2 c. cooked black beans
3 c. cooked kidney beans
1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
3 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
avocado and green onion for garnish

1.) Heat oil until it ripples.  Add onion and garlic, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.  Add spices and S&P
2.) Add celery, carrots and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add all peppers and corn then cook for an additional 3 minutes.
3.)  Add tomato paste, mix thouroughly and cook for 3 minutes.  Add water and all tomatoes, bring to boil.  After a few minutes, break up stewed tomatoes into bite sized pieces if desired.  Next add beans and quinoa, lower heat to simmer for an additional 30-45 minutes and season to taste.
4.) Cool.  Serve with cornbread, macaroni or vegan saltine crackers.  Eat your heart out.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Keeping on track....

 Staying on track to being healthy in October is HARD! There are goodies (and goblins, Mwuah haha) everywhere, and comfort food is all I can think about. Especially at work, where just today we had cupcakes(that I made), cake and pizza. All of that heavy food can have you feeling kind of bleh.

  Now even though there is vegan pizza available from where we ordered at Trolley Stop Market here in Memphis, I opted for a garden wrap. The garden wrap from TSM is nothing short of fantastic, it is filled with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, organic rice, beans, & avocado all wrapped up in your choice of tortilla. This wrap is packed full of veggie goodness but can still sit heavily if you load a cupcake and loads of other junk on top of it.  

 And later this week will only get worse, we have a party on Wednesday and Friday this week. The buck stops here, or the bunny....I'm not exactly sure what the proper modification of that saying is for a vegan. I am committing myself cooking at home for the remainder of the week, no cheating. And I am expecting you to hold me accountable.  Any who, lets see these cakes I made for work today! 

 Last week, when I was down with bronchitis and sinusitis, was my coworker's birthday. She ALWAYS makes yummy treats for everyone's birthday and I wanted to make something for her. So I made a recipe from Angela's blog over at ohsheglows.com , these cupcakes are always a big hit with everyone who tries them. I made a double batch and only 4 cupcakes remained when I left work. Here is a link to the recipe: Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond 'Buttercream' and Rasberry Glaze. Be warned, these cupcakes are addictive. They will please omnivores and herbivores alike. Need proof? I am the only vegan in my department and there were just around 15 people there today. That means more than one person went back for seconds, that makes me happy. I love for others to enjoy my cooking(baking). I had one....and possibly a half.  :D  I tried really hard to only eat a half, but these darn things are so tasty.

So why is this post called "Keeping on track...."?   I titled this post keeping on track because we all have days at work/school/home where temptation is all around us, especially during the holiday season.  It is reasonable to indulge in some areas without going overboard.  Even if I had eaten pizza, if I knew that I was planning on having a cupcake I would have kept it to one slice, and one cupcake...no extra little half. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

About Me

Hey Y'all! I am new to veganism and blogging! I live in Memphis TN, but am originally from Kansas City MO. I love being vegan and living in the south, but as you can imagine sometimes the two do not go hand in hand. I became vegan earlier this year in March, and haven't exactly shed as many pounds as one might think a vegan would. I maybe have been visiting our local bakery with vegan options too much? I decided to start this blog to be accountable to someone besides myself for my fitness goals, and hoping to gain some support along the way. I also would like to inspire others, vegan and non-vegans alike, to move towards healthier lifestyles. So.....let's do it!

Free to Veg!

Welcome to Free to Veg! Check back for vegan recipes, fitness and affordable vegan living posts!