Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

I've used spaghetti squash in a couple of my posts so far.  Here I will explain exactly how to quickly prepare spaghetti squash. The first step is to cut the squash in half. Then, scoop out the seeds in the middle like you would before carving a pumpkin. 


The next step is to cook the squash.  This can either be done in the oven or in the microwave.  In the oven, it will take at least half an hour.  In the microwave, each side will take 3-5 minutes. I have used both methods before.  The squash comes out exactly the same either way.  It really is a matter of preference.


Once the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the "meat" out into spaghetti-like noodles.  This may sound confusing, but once the squash it cooked, it easily form noodles.

You can use the spaghetti squash as you would use spaghetti in a variety of dishes, from simple spaghetti and marinara sauce to more complicated meals.  If you are sticking to a gluten-free diet, it is a great substitute for pasta.

Here is a picture of a spaghetti squash meal that I packed during my vegan week.  There is (starting at the top right corner and going clockwise) tomato sauce, fresh diced tomatoes, spaghetti squash, and seitan (decidedly not gluten-free).  It microwaved very well, and was a nice change of pace.  What's your favorite way to cook spaghetti squash?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Carrot Zucchini Muffins

After my vegan week was over, I still had some vegetables leftover from my wonderful aunt's farmer's market spree. Since I had not ventured into vegan baking, I was craving some muffins. I ended up making carrot zucchini muffins, using this recipe that I found online.

The recipe started off like any other muffin recipe.  Mix together the standard dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, and spices.

Then, mix together the wet ingredients: oil, sugar, egg, and applesauce, grated carrots and grated zucchini.  I did not have applesauce, so instead I used a mashed banana plus milk to make 3/4 cups.

Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients just until everything is moistened.  If you mix for too long, too much gluten will develop and your muffins will become chewy. Who wants chewy muffins?

Spoon the batter into 12 greased muffin tins and bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

And voila, muffins that cover all five food groups!  For carbs we have flour; for fruit there is a banana; for vegetables we have zucchini and carrots; for protein there is an egg; for dairy there is milk (in my version at least); and for fats there is a little oil.  What a well-balanced muffin!  Despite all of the healthy ingredients, it was also quite tasty.  It had a great muffin texture as well.

I liked this recipe so much that I recommended it to my brother.  He was apparently in a hurry when he made it, though, and forgot to add the baking powder, spices, and salt.  Without baking powder, baked goods just won't rise.  Needless to say, his muffins were a failure.  Make sure to read recipes carefully and follow directions!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vegan Jambalaya


Over the weekend of my vegan week, I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Virginia.  They were very considerate of my food restrictions, and even went to the farmer's market for me.   For lunch we had TONS of grilled veggies and portabello sandwiches. There were a lot of leftover grilled vegetables, which I was lucky enough to take home with me.

Remembering a great vegan meal I had at One World Cafe in Baltimore, I decided to make a vegan jambalaya featuring the vegetables.  The first step was to saute the veggies in a pan to crisp them up again.  You can see all of the veggie goodness in this picture:  green squash, yellow squash, red pepper, portabello mushrooms, red onion...


Once the veggies were heated, I added vegetable broth, brown rice, and jambalaya spices as recommended by the internet.  If you were making this with fresh vegetables, you would want to make sure that the veggies are tender before adding the broth. 


Once the rice was cooked, I added seitan that I had leftover from my vegan sloppy joes. I let the jambalaya cook for a couple more minutes to heat the seitan, and then it was ready to devour.


When I told my family that I made vegan jambalaya, they were a little confused.  Traditionally jambalaya is made with sausage and shrimp.  Mine obviously had neither.  They questioned whether this concoction could really be called jambalaya.  I would argue that yes, it can.  The flavor was spot-on, and the texture was very similar to the original recipe.  This is a great way to make a large quantity of food with leftovers already in the fridge.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Here we have yet another recipe from the Skinny Bitch book.  This was my first meal during vegan week. The hardest part about this recipe was finding one of the main ingredients: seitan. Seitan is a meat substitute protein made from wheat gluten.  I finally found it in the refrigerator section of WholeFoods.

The first step in making vegan sloppy joes is to finely chop the ingredients: onion, bell pepper, carrot, and seitan.


Then, saute them in a frying pan with a little olive oil. Meanwhile, prepare lentils by boiling them. After the lentils are soft, puree half of them to create a ground beef-like texture.


Once the vegetables are soft, stir in some tomato paste.

Then add the cooked lentils.

Voila!  Making vegan sloppy joes that are full of protein is as simple as that.  Surprisingly, they actually tasted like traditional sloppy joes. In the picture above, you can see that I ate my sloppy joes on a bun with a side of sweet potatoes.  Later in the week, I ate them in a pita, pictured below. If you are vegan, be careful to make sure that your bread choice is as well.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Vegan Week Recap--Breakfasts

Good Morning!  After a crazy week, I finally have a chance to recap my vegan week, which ended this Monday.  I ended up trying a lot of new recipes during the week, so I have a lot of pictures to post. I figured why not start with the best meal of the day: breakfast.  So, as of my last post on Thursday I had only had overnight oats for breakfast.  Now, of course there's nothing wrong with overnight oats, but I was getting a little bored eating the same thing for breakfast every day, so I decided to mix it up.

First up is traditional oatmeal--eaten hot off the stove.  This variety has dried cranberries and fresh bananas on top:


Next up is rhubarb applesauce.  When I was little, my mom and I would go to the local orchard and buy bushels of apples to make applesauce.  I came to my applesauce idea from a different approach.

I was at WholeFoods and saw rhubarb.  I thought to myself, wow, I've never actually tried rhubarb.  That would be a fun new food for vegan week.  So, I bought a few stalks.  After way too much thinking and debating over what to make with my rhubarb,  I decided to make rhubarb applesauce and bought a few apples as well. 


The recipe for my applesauce came from one of my favorite food blogs: Two Peas and Their Pod.  It is very simple.  First you chop up apples and rhubarb in a 2-1 ratio.  Two cups of apples per cup of rhubarb.


Then, you put them in a pot on the stove with a little bit of water, and cook until mushy (about half an hour).  You can also add sugar if you'd like.  I added just a couple of tablespoons of raw sugar, and found that my applesauce was very sweet.  I think next time I will taste the applesauce before adding any sugar. 


The next and final step is one for preference.  If you like chunky applesauce, then just stir in a little cinnamon, and your applesauce is ready to go.  If you prefer smoother applesauce like I do, then run it through a blender, or use a stick blender to pulverize the chunks of apples and rhubarb. Then, add a little cinnamon, and your applesauce is ready.

The recipe says to enjoy the applesauce at room temperature or refrigerated.  I tasted the applesauce as it was cooling on the stove and found it delicious warm.  In fact, I had a bowl full before the sauce cooled enough to put away in the fridge.  

This recipe was a great success.  It was fast, easy, and fun.  Who wouldn't want to eat hot pink applesauce??

And finally, my third new vegan breakfast recipe was crepes.  The recipe came from my Skinny Bitch cookbook.  I'm sure you're not surprised. The first step was to mix up the batter.  I don't want to give away all of the recipes in the cookbook, so I'll leave this one a mystery.  From my memory, though, it involved almond milk, flour, and sugar.


Then, you make crepes just like you would with any batter.  Poor a small amount into a greased frying pan, and then swirl it around so it is nice and thin. 


When the batter is bubbly, flip it over and cook until nicely browned.  If you look closely in this picture, you can see me and my boyfriend, who actually did all of the crepe making while I ate them fresh off the stove. :-)

I've always found that the first couple crepes come out a little messy and the crepes made later in the batch are the best. Here are the first two:


And the last couple:


For toppings I used soy yogurt, blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. Later in the week I also tried a peanut butter banana combination.  The different combinations were very different, but all quite tasty. 



I will say that this is the only recipe of the week that tasted better with animal products.  The crepes tasted like they were missing something.  If you've ever had any sub-par gluten-free products (not my mom's!), it was kind of like that.  They were still pretty good, and very edible, just not quite there.