Vegan Dreams

22 Oct

As a newly married person and as the new adoptive mother of a cat, I’ve been contemplating (and, yes, perhaps obsessing) over what our new little family eats. Not that the cat eats with us, but still having an animal I love in the house causes me to think twice about why people consume animals at all. It’s pretty perplexing and heady stuff.  But I won’t bore you with that brand of thinking in too much detail (I am sure you can log onto the PETA website if you want to get into the whole gory, graphic picture).

In the coming months, I’ll do my best to share some healthy meat-and-dairy free recipes with you.  As I operate on some major time constraints, and run like a madwoman from bed to work and from work to work out and from workout to kitchen and kitchen to bed, I’ll try to keep my suggestions simple.

In that spirit, here’s what worked for me this week:

Pumpkin Red Lentil Soup! I found this recipe while waiting in a doctor’s office recently. I am somewhat ashamed to  admit that I discovered it in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens because I just feel like, you know, I’m not my mother… at least not yet. I mean, my mom is great, and really good looking mom at that, so don’t get me wrong. Nevertheless, I digress. The short of it is: while I think you have to at least be over the age of thirty to get into Better Homes and Gardens, us young folk who don’t yet have a real home or garden to speak of can still learn a thing or two. The soup is amazing, It was fast and easy to make and tasted like something that had been stewing for hours. MAKE IT ANIMAL FREE: Omit chicken stock for a carton of vegetable stock. It tasted just fine to me.

You can view the recipe and video here: http://goo.gl/y8bfKw

Macadamia Pesto:  OMG! This was just so yummy! As you’ll see the recipe calls for half and half and a little bit of parmigiano reggiano.  And, this my friends, is probably the one thing that will always keep me from being a true vegan…Italian cheese.  Perhaps it’s a bit of cognitive dissonance but when I think about European cheeses, especially our family and friends in Italy, I don’t quite get the same factory farm, antibiotic-filled, genetically modified feel as I do when opening a bag of processed dairy products here in the U.S.  Being a little euro-snob, I went for the gusto here and broke the rules. I used some very delicious and oh so rewarding parmigiano.  I did, however, replace the half and half requirement with almond milk. MAKE IT VEGAN: Replace both the milk component and the cheese with dairy substitutes (found here http://goo.gl/slpcNB), although something in me will always feel vegan parmigiano is just as wrong as the powdered crap they sell in the stores.  Also, using whole grain pasta can increase fiber and protein.

   The smell of fresh basil is SO intoxicating.

 Macadamia Nut-Pesto Fettuccine

           Photo from website. Find recipe here: http://goo.gl/nVf7sk

  Black Bean Pumpkin Burgers:  Okayyyyy, so apparently the young woman who curates the amazing alterna-food  website “Sprouted Kitchen” is a better human and cook than I. In my efforts to recreate her delectable black bean burgers, I ended up with a kitchen as messy as a mad scientist’s laboratory, mounds of the “burger” meat stuck to my fingers, in my hair and at one point my cat trampled through the madness of this mayhem…I found him later sitting in a corner meowing and furiously attempting to pluck a lacquered-on layer of pumpkin and bean guts off his pristine coat. Bottom line: THIS WAS A DISASTER for me.  I tried to fry the patties and this is what resulted:

A sizzling disaster underway!

A sizzling disaster underway!

The good news is that while the whole fry-in-coconut oil was an epic fail, I was able to fold this delicious heated paste into the remaining brown rice I’d cooked and it was pretty decently delicious. Nevertheless, I was still pretty sad that I’d failed miserably at bean burgers : (

In the case you feel more talented in the kitchen, you can find all the sprouted goddess’ words of wisdom here:  http://goo.gl/PTZ8qO

Acorn Squash:  We’ve talked about this before, I know, but if you weren’t paying attention, this is a great, hearty fall favorite of mine and it definitely won’t leave you wanting for more. Last I ate one of these I felt like I had swallowed an inflatable pool toy. Acorn squash is simple to cook. Just cut it, gut it, then place the halves in about a quarter to one half inch of water in a brownie pan or other oven suitable container. Let them steam in the oven for about 30 minutes at about 400 degrees. Everyone’s oven is different, so be sure to check. I like to cover my squash with a little foil so it traps in all the steamy water. You can stuff your squash with anything yummy and protein-packed. A good example would be quinoa and any bean of your choice. Sprinkle on some almond or rice-based cheese for extra flavor. Here’s my acorn squash photo, which I may have shared before. Makes me hungry every time I look at it:

20130927-204333.jpg

Roasted Tubers:   Here’s another one lifted from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, but it’s also a good one and really simple.  All that’s required, however, is time and tubers!!! Haha, I crack myself up.  Cut an assortment of rooted  veggies such as red and yellow beets, yams, turnips, carrots and red potatoes plus a medium purple onion for extra  flavor.  Slice into cubes about 1/2 inch thick. Douse them in your favorite extra virgin olive oil and shake in herbs de Provence (dried rosemary, lavender, savory, tarragon, etc).  Heat the oven to about 400 degrees and cover the sheet or  pan.  You’ll need to keep an eye on these but in my experience it can take over an hour to get all the vegetables at the right consistency. This one takes time. I roasted this mix on a Friday night when time was less of an object and I  needed something else to do other than read a book.  The odors that emanate from the oven with this one are so delicious. It will make your neighbors think you’re a regular Martha Stewart, which, of course, we all know you are! At the end, you’ll also want to sprinkle some fresh cracked pepper and salt to enhance the already savory flavors.

Photo credit: saveur.com

Photo credit: saveur.com

Bon Appétit!

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