Friday, September 7, 2018

Veganmofo: Set yourself up for success: fast, easy ways to get yourself fed when time or mental health isn't on your side

Somedays you have time, ingredients, and space to prep and make a ton of rad experimental delicious vegan goodies and other times our energy levels, stress, work, lives, mental health, budget or a million other things are just telling you that you cannot.

This has been a huge huge struggle for me the past few years having moved into an apartment with a less then ideal kitchen, poor storage space, low counter space, and only being in the province 2 days a week meals groceries (and produce) are a rare sight. When you are in a hotel more often then home eating right or at all becomes a struggled so here is a collection of tips, tricks, recipes and hacks I have collected and will be posting throughout the month on Instagram and here!

 Especially when it comes to depression or mental health I find it important to remind myself that A) eating is important and B) healthy eating is important but eating period is better then nothing.

Something that helps me the most is having a stash of emergency food. Simple easy to prep food of various levels of nutrition. Maybe this food is all you have the energy to make, or maybe eating it will give you enough time/energy to make something better. Regardless eating is important some things I find helpful to keep on hand.

  • Canned veggie soups/chilli
  • Potatoes (mashing, frying, baking they are endlessly usefull filling & last a while. mashed potatoes takes very little effort and you can kinda let the pot boil while you do something else. Make extra mashed potatoes. Leftovers are useful and saves you energy later)
  • instant oatmeal (or ground oatmeal which is basically the same) Regular oatmeal isn't too diffcult and overnight oats work as well, but if instant is the difference between you eating and not then buy the instant
  • ramen/instant noodles: faster then regular noodles and if you have dried veggies/miso/frozen veggies/tvp you can easily bulk it up & make it healther
  • protein powder: Smoothies are easy, vegan milk/ice/banana/fruit/green any combo of those. If you just have vegan milk, mix the protein powder in it's better then nothing.
  • Boxed pilafs/flavoured grain or dry grain & powdered veggie broth. They last forever and are super easy/filling as a main or side.
  • Fake meats/vegan frozen meals/burritos: When you feel up to it cook, freeze your extras. If you are short on time or energy it is ok to buy these things, even if they are pricey. Be honest and gentle with yourself, will you eat this? will you be able to eat this with an easy side? 
  • boxed mixes (easy enough to make your own and store for fast pancakes or biscuits or seitan just store the dry ingredients in a jar in your pantry with the wet instructions. Yah this isn't crazy easier then just following a recipe but when your brain is fried having 1/2 the work already done helps)
  • Frozen dumplings/samosas/spring rolls: Carb/veggies/sometimes protein done. Check asian grocery stores for better quality but even the North American style frozen options are better then nothing.
  • Indian curry pouches: They have loads of accidentally vegan curry pouches, normally they are stored in a metal pouch you can boil or dump into the nuke. If you feel up to it add a grain or eat alone.
  • Frozen waffles/pancakes: Either buy some on sale or whenever you make pancakes freeze the extra to pop in the toaster.
Ingredients/Things to keep on hand for fast bulking

  •  frozen veggies: great for when you haven't been able to hit the grocery store, you can add them to bulk up & healthify almost anything. 

    • Mixed veggies for ramen/stirfries/sides/soups/top potatoes
    • single veggie types: Ideally greens (spinach/kale/chard/broccoli/peas) tend to be more nutritious and easily added to anything from mac-n-cheese (boxed or from scratch), butter noodles, ramen, as a side, added to mashed potatoes, or biscuits
    • Steamed veggies are an easy side or way to improve any meal (you got some instant rice, add veggies/baked potato topped with veggies)
  • miso: add hot water for warming broth, flavour powerhouse from soups to gravies to roasted veggies or just mix with vegan butter on steamed veggies
  • tvp unlike tofu or tempeh or faked meats it can be stored forever in the pantry and added to anything (jarred pasta sauce boiled with tvp is instantly more filling) rehydrate it with soysauce and eat on rice or noodles or tacos I like to keep both the minced and chunk kind available
  • lentils : similar to TVP last forever easily cooked into dahl curries, or to bulk up soups, add them to rice/grains in the same pot. chillis, Tacos, Burritos, Spagettie sauce the uses are endless. Red lentils can thicken soups/curries, you can make spreads or dips for cold portable food or filling stews/casseroles/potpies etc
  • broth powder: you can toss grain/lentils/tvp/frozen veggies into a pot with some veggie broth for a cheap filling meal that takes very little time
  • Nut butter: if you were able to get fruit or bread or crackers it makes an acceptable filling snack or meal. You can toss it into oats, smoothies, with miso to make sauces. Toast is an acceptable meal if that is what you have.
  • Jarred sauces: Pasta sauce/tomato sauce is super versitile and useful but taco sauces/bbq sauce/curry sauces or paste are all easy flavour boosts. You can easily marinade veggies or tofu by throwing them together with a jarred sauce then into the oven later.
    • jarred lemon juice from tea, to muffins, to sauces, to veggies/noodles, lemon garlic noodles
    • minced garlic/frozen pureed garlic/ginger or peeled and frozen garlic/ginger + micro-plane zester makes seasoning super easy flavour
    • Curry powder/All seasoning mix: make a mixture you love or buy one. Something you like the taste of makes eating easier. Just nuke a potato or veggie, instantly season soups. You can make your own to make your fav dishes even faster or to change up instant ramen, grains or steam veggies
  • Leftovers. Anything you have already made can be saved for later, try to make a habit of freezing extras for later. Even freezing plain cooked grains or beans can make the difference between feeding yourself something good later on with minimal prep. 
  • Hemp Hearts: not the most frugal thing but these nutritional power houses can be added to anything. Batters, smoothies, pudding, apple with PB, sweet or savory they help me feel better about whatever I am eating. I usually toss them on top of everything for a little bit of texture. Their duality between real food and desserts means you can always add a little boost to your food
I will try to showcase some more ideas and tips as the month goes on with more details!
But happy Mofo! <3

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Veganmofo 2018: Introductions!

For those unfamiliar with my blog & eating style it generally means avoiding salads like they killed my loved ones and eating damn good food.

Hopefully with a focus on frugality, simplicity, and above all taste! Occasionally I take nice fancy photos of my food which can be seen on my Instagram @vegannotjustgreens or here. Othertime I make some damn tasty food, which photographs poorly.

Typically my food style is a mixture of veganizing foods from around the world, to tried and true PPK favourites to more experimental stuff. But ultimately I come back to the same standbys of fast, filling, tasty.

Lately I have started a job which involves a lot of travel, many days away from home, away from my kitchen and in hotels, on the train, or in Montreal. So this year Mofo (as with last) I will be doing my best to return to my love of food, blogging, and cooking. Substituted with insta photos of tasty food I've tried dinning out. Because the thing with a well paying travel job where I am only in my home province 2/7 days means I rarely get to the grocery store and rarely cook. A sad state I am trying to fix, but the reality might be more hotel cooking and hurried lazy meals for when you just gotta eat.

I am so excited to be back with Veganmofo and cannot wait to see what everyone works on!

Happy Mofo!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lazy Lemon Spinach Pasta: One Pot Pasta

I like to think of this as perhaps the adult version of buttered noodles? It came about after watching a movie and getting home late, with bare cupboards and hungry bellies. Now normal TVP sauce pasta isn't exactly a kitchen marathon but I wanted something faster and with even less clean up.

Which is how the following recipe was born!
Optional Try hard: Save your lemon slices for the food porn ;)
Lazy Lemon One Pot Pasta

  • 2 Handfuls of spaghetti (I used the veggie blend pasta for added nutrients but any whole grain would work, or white)
  • 3 cups veggie broth (or bullion powder)
  • 1/2 small lemon slices
  • 1/2 T mince garlic (from a jar for added laziness)
  • 3 T Earth balance/vegan butter
  • 1 bunch spinach loosely chopped (any other light green would work)
  • 2 T dried oregano (fresh would be better but my plant died :( )
  • Splash soy milk
  • Salt/Pepper/Nooch to taste

Combine everything in a large pot on medium heat. Cook with cover on until noodles fall into the liquid, stir occasionally for ~10 mins or until your pasta is done. I cooked it for about 4 extra mins with the cover off for the liquid to reduce, basically you want the soy milk/vegan butter to help thicken the mixture and you can pull out your lemon slices as the flesh dissolves.
boiling it should look like this and smell like heaven
Adding nooch helps to thicken it a bit and give it a flavour boost. I tossed my finished product with some toasted sesame seeds/hemp hearts but a vegan parm or nut parm would be nice too.
As the pasta cooks you can see the liquid thicken and envelop the noodles
Voila a bare bones pantry pasta with minimal clean up, one pot, no strainer and great leftovers. If you don't have fresh lemon you could easily give a few tbs or lemon juice from a jar and it would be just as good. I am so pleased with how well this turned out and it's likely something I will always have the required goods for.
Fork Ready!!
Hope this helps someone else who is hungry and lazy out there! <3 br="">

Monday, September 11, 2017

Meal Preps & shout out to Moon @Things2Eat

Hey Folks,

I know it has been a long hiatus and those on Instagram can vouch that I have in fact been eating however I have not been cooking. Some may know I got a new job working for Via Rail, which means most of my days are spent on a long haul train, the rest in a hotel in montreal and occasionally a few days back home in bed. As such, since my move to Dartmouth cooking has fallen by the wayside and honestly that bums me and my stomach out.

Sure we've had some tasty food here and there but for the most part, it has been sparse. I still follow all kinds of you lovely folks online with your cooking adventures from the side lines but as fortune has it I have a whopping 4 days home; I've been following alone the lovely Moon's @Things2Eat blog project where she crafts menu plans from blogs around the vegan-sphere. So please, please, please check out her mailing list and meal plans.
**Menu Plan Sept 3-9 Original post+recipes**

So yesterdays big adventure was getting groceries which I haven't done in months, I mean MONTHS. With my schedule more often then not things when bad, and there just wasn't time which also meant there wasn't fresh food and so you can see why some of my recent grams were a bit bland.

Meal Preps in action, carnage from multiple recipes on going.
One thing I think I would like to start doing is keeping a better photo record of receipts and food prices here, because it seems they can be somewhat steep or maybe I can work harder on spending less. Let me know if you folks would be interested in seeing more grocery hauls & cost stuff, or if I should leave it to Instagram posts.

As you can see yesterday's adventure amounted to around 100$ but this included non-meal plan items, snacks for board games and a few non-vegan things Adam got. 100$ a week is steep for my usual costs but seems on par with what folks are spending for families (What do you roughly spend on groceries a week?). Some of this will also last longer then a week and many items needed for the menu plan Moon set up I already had so I spent 39.49$ CAD on this meal plan (few things were on sale, plus I subbed red onions/leeks for white onions, used jarred lime juice I already had, skipped all fresh herbs because they are 2-3$ a pop here).

For me the most expensive ingredients were Vegan Ranch @5.49$, 1.79$ avocado, and red peppers 4.06$. I also realized during cooking I didn't buy good bread for the cassoulet so I am gonna go back out and I imagine it will be around 5$. But enough about food costs & my frugal cost cutting.

I didn't follow Moon's directions exactly and I have left a few meals to make later, part way through prepping the bowls, the cassoulet, the lentils, the salad and soaking the chickpeas I realized I might be going on the train Wed and to make a full pot of soup in addition to all these things was potentially Too much food even if I pack leftovers for MTRL & on Board. Since my freezer is still busting, I can't do my usual freeze half for later tactic. But since the corn was on sale, I would like to use it before it goes bad and the coconut milk can is open so I believe I will prep the corn and freeze it in the coconut milk with the red pepper. As the onions/garlic/potatoes are both cheap to buy and should keep until I am home.
Sheet pan full of vegetables for Minimalist Bakers Buddah Bowls. #mealprep
 I also realized I had forgotten to get bread, so what I wound up doing was prepping the cassoulet sans bread and my plan will be to get some after the meeting tomorrow take the dutch oven out of the fridge and bake it for dinner tomorrow so it all works out. I also think maybe the original author of the recipe used a much larger dutch oven or a more shallow one as my tomatoes/beans were incredibly liquid so I kept cooking to reduce it a bit more and thicken the sauce.
Anna Jone's Tomato Coconut Cassoulet (a bit bastardized by me & being cheap). I am going to chill it like this and resume the baking when I have bread
  Not sure why coconut is in the title with only 4tbs that don't seem to add a whole lot but I imagine it increases the richness. I also added dried basil to simmer a bit, not the same as fresh by any means but it will hopefully get me closer to the authors initial creation. I have also learned I need to take some time when I am laid off to inventory my pantry because many of the staples I sore I had in spades are low or exhausted but that is a project for another day.
The Garden Grazer's Lentil Black Bean Cumin and Lime Salad. This will be great train/lunch food and keeps super well. I imagine I will be coming back to this & maybe spending the extra $ for parsley

There is just something satisfying about beans soaking in the fridge over night and prep/chopping a ton of veggies as you stew/roast and mix various things. I miss the kitchen juggling act, with timers beeping at different times when you need to toss the sweet potatoes or reduce the lentils or simmer the sauces. I hope this long winded post finds you all happy and still cooking.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Vegamofo: Fusion food!

Yet another awesome home run for Joni w/ Vegan Fusion Kitchen this might be one of my new favourite books so what better way to christen it then with today's (yesterdays?) Veganmofo fusion challenge.

I made the fantastic sweet chili grilled tofu and bok choy sandwich with has a variety of tasty compotents included marinated sweet chili grilled tofu with it's super simple sweet chili sauce. It's not as thick as the store bought thai sweet chili sauce but the flavours are fantastic and you likely already have everything you need.

This sandwich features the grilled tofu (which I will be eating all week! yum!), with some grilled bok choy and a fantastic siracha mayo recipe (which I kinda cheated on and made with veganases like Joni mentions in the intro).
Since my tofu was frozen, I defrosted and marinated it over night then at lunch I just grilled the whole batch at once.

I had a freezer full of brown bread, but this sandwich really deserves baking sour dough rolls.

Joni provides a kick ass recipe to make this from scratch but since I had a near empty bottle of Veganase I took her lazy suggestion and added siracha chili sauce and sesame oil.

I am also going to prep a bunch of my produce to freeze today and hopefully get the dumpling filling ready for tomorrow's post. I am unsure if a preserving vegetable post is that interesting to folks, so let me know otherwise I might just snap a picture for instagram to keep folks updated on what I am Mofoing!

 I feel so behind with the themes! But I love seeing everyone's posts so keep it up.

<3 p="">

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vegan mofo: Day 8 across the globe

Super fast easy dinner tonight a chow mein low mein combo as I was flipping through Chinese Vegetarian Cookery a thrift store gem from a few years ago.

I had lofty plans for dumplings but I want to get some decent photos and it is now far to dark so stay tuned!

This book is super dense with easy recipes and basic techniques a real joy to read. I read through a few different recipes before throwing together dinner.
Chopped 1 carrot 2 baby bokchoy minced ginger and garlic with bean sprouts and tofu + boiled rice noodles and all spice
Key is to chop all your vegetables first heat oil with garlic ginger and seasoning then toss in your hardest vegetables first and quickly move them around the pan. Adjust seasoning and toss in water as you cook once your firm veggies are done add your drained noodles and hit everything with soy sauce before adding your lighter greens and bean sprouts


Veganmofo: Day 8: Bonus post! Turn it around

Ok, so as some of you already know from my FB post etc I am going to make dumplings for today's @Veganmofo theme however my wrappers are still defrosting. So I decided to find something to do with the carrot soup my mom made me from her garden.

See here is the thing, she made the soup and pureed it then frozen it to give to me. Sounds fine right? Except the pureed carrots went really weird when I defrosted it in the fridge.
So weird.

It's like baby food mixed with juicer pulp, basically a carrot slushy with lots of stringy carrot fiber. I tried re-heating and stiring it but it is safe to say this soup will not be going back together any time soon. I didn't want to waste food, let alone home grown produce! So I checked the PPK forums for things to do with weirdly pureed vegetables to find something that could save this from the compost and as usual the ppk didn't disapoint. I found this awesome thread where folks made suggestions on what to do with the leftover pulp from making an Indian Tomato soup. Using their scraps in Appetite for Reductions Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits.

So I had a game plan and used the recipe from the book, I used an immersion blender to blend the carrot soup pulp (I strained away the liquid then added just enough liquid back to make up a full 1 cup) and a few tablespoons of apple sauce just to make sure it held together. I also added some thyme and Rosemary with the nutmeg as this was going to be a savory style bread.

Glorious results!
The dough was really, really wet likely because the carrot pulp is not as thick as mashed sweet potato so I wound up adding a bit more flour but the biscuits were still really wet more like muffin batter. I decided to try it out anyway, so I dropped half on the baking sheet and spooned the rest into muffin molds. The results were pretty great!

They turned out slightly bitter which might be from the lack of sweetness mixed with the ACV but still very tasty with vegan butter.

It just goes to show that even when things don't turn out there is usually a way to make something new.