The Food and Budget Experiment

Hey there! Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been busy with the yoga training and practice, and my mind’s been all over the place as I’m trying to figure out the next phase. Lots of different, but exciting, things to think about, for sure.

meal planningMy husband and I have decided to try out a little food experiment this month. I’m not going to lie: We’ve been eating out quite a bit these past few months, which is both bad for your health and bad for your pocketbook. And not to come up with excuses, but a big part of it is that our schedules have been thrown out of whack between my trips to Cincinnati for yoga training, and our frequent trips to visit my husband’s mom, who is very sick.

So, in an effort to save money and to also reduce the amount of visits to the grocery store (I feel like we go a few times a week), we’re going to buy the bulk of our groceries once during the month and then hit the farmers’ market every Saturday for produce. I’m hoping that having more food on hand will keep us from grabbing Chinese takeout so often. We can stock up on things like tofu, almond milk,  and dried bulk goods such as beans, lentils, rice and so on. And then we can use the produce we find at the market to determine our menu for that week. I’m also hoping that having everything in front of us will make it easier to stretch the groceries out for even longer to save money.

The biggest challenge will be finding room for everything since we’re pretty tight on space. But I think we can make it work.

That being said, it’ll also be easier for me to post weekly meals plans on here, which I really want to get back to doing on a regular basis.

I hope you all are well! I’ll have a food post up soon.

An Oldie but Goodie: Chickpea Cutlets, Roasted Cabbage and Potatoes

Chickpea Cutlets

I’ve made these Chickpea Cutlets from “Veganomicon” many times, and have even posted them on here. But for some reason, I’ve still struggled to get the texture right. This time around, however, I made progress.

First, I made sure to thoroughly mash the chickpeas. Second, I baked them (instead of frying), which gave them a firmer, meatier texture. I’ll definitely be baking them from here on out.

For the cabbage, I tried a new technique: I sliced a head of cabbage into 1-inch slices, brushed olive oil on both sides and sprinkled with salt and pepper. I baked the slices for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees — so easy and the cabbage was super-tender and caramelized. I could see grilling the slices, too.

Finally, I quickly mashed some potatoes with a little olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. For the sauce, I just mixed whole-grain mustard with vegan mayonnaise. A dollop of apple sauce added a touch of refreshing sweetness to the meal.

This is a great weeknight meal because it comes together pretty fast and is pretty cheap to make.

I hope you all are well! More yoga training this weekend. Have a good one!

Banana Pudding with a Twist

Banana Pudding

I had a hankerin’ over the weekend for banana pudding and was excited to find a recipe in “Vegan Pie In The Sky.” I had most of the ingredients on hand already (a well-stocked pantry always helps). The problem? I could not find vegan vanilla wafer cookies at the supermarket up the street, and I didn’t want to have to drive across town to find some. But just as I was about to give up on my craving, my husband picked up a bag of ginger snaps that happened to be vegan. “What about these?” he said. I wasn’t sure how well the ginger would go with the bananas, but I thought, “Sure, why not?”

After all was said and done (and by “done,” I mean we finished off the entire 9 x 13 pan in less than two days), I have to say that ginger snaps may be my new, go-to banana pudding cookie. I was worried the cookies would be too hard for the dessert, but they soften just enough in the pudding and the crumbled cookies on top added just the right amount of crunch for texture. As for the rest of the recipe, it was extremely easy to put together and sets up fairly quickly (I really didn’t want to have to wait overnight to indulge my sweet tooth).

And, of course, while walking back from the grocery store, my husband and I couldn’t help but reference this sketch from “The State” (I think I’m showing my age here):

Vegan Round-up: Grilled Cheese, Dinner Rules and Lots of Cauliflower

Caffe Latte

I hope you all have had a great week! Below are a few links to vegan-related items that may interest you. I’m off to yoga training this weekend. Have a lovely one yourself!

Macaroni and Cheese with Chickpeas and Spinach? Um, yes, please. I want to veganize this.

Who says vegans can’t eat grilled cheese? Here are four different variations.

100 Rules of Dinner

A great roundup of vegan kitchen staples.

There’s nothing like a well-made veggie burger, and this Vegan Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger looks ridiculously good.

Cauliflower is this year’s Brussels sprout. I’m totally calling it.

Greek Wraps with Lemon-Kissed Tofu

Greek Wrap

I always find a ton of recipe ideas while perusing Flipboard, and often email them to myself only to forget about ever sending them. However, this time around, I actually remembered to come back to this particular recipe.

These Greek Wraps with Lemon-Kissed Tofu were actually featured in a contest for Vegetarian Times and So Delicious Dairy Free. I love, love the technique used for pressing lemon zest into the block of tofu and then searing both sides of the tofu block. It’s such a great idea and I plan to use it for other tofu dishes.

I have to admit, though, that I didn’t care for the So Delicious Plain Greek Cultured Coconut Milk. I love coconut milk yogurt, but I found this too sweet for being a plain yogurt. I actually used some salad dressing I had on hand to jazz it up. (Next time, I’ll use a different plain yogurt and turn it into a tzatziki sauce with dill and cucumber.) The final result was pretty tasty and filling.

Hope you all are well!

Product Review: Nasoya Nayo Whipped Sandwich Spread

Potato Salad

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a representative from Nasoya to try out the company’s revamped line of Nayonaise. Now, I realize that it’s advertised as a sandwich spread, but the warmer weather has me thinking about cookouts, and one of my favorite cookout foods is potato salad. So I decided to try out the Nayo Whipped Sandwich Spread in my recipe, which I’ve included down below. (I also received a jar of the original Nayonaise, which I’ll review and post at a later date.)

Nayo Whipped

Tasting the sandwich spread right out the jar, I noticed that it has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor, which added a little extra punch to my potato salad. The sweetness counterbalanced the vinegar and mustard that I added to the recipe. The spread also incorporated really easily, coating the potatoes really well and adding a nice creaminess to the dish. And a little goes a long way.

All in all, if you’re looking to incorporate a little extra zing to your sandwich or your salad recipe, I highly recommend the Nayo Whipped Sandwich Spread.

Vegan Mustard Potato Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3lbs mix of Yukon and red potatoes, cubed and cooked until just tender (these provide two different textures to the salad)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup Nayo Whipped Sandwich Spread
1 tbsp dried dill (or a little less if you’re using fresh)
2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (I like a lot of pepper)

Directions:

Salt the warm potatoes after draining. Throw all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Note: There’s a lot of room for experimentation with this recipe. Normally, I just eyeball it when I make it and don’t actually measure anything.

Enjoy!

New Vegan Marketplace: forAnima

Exciting news! The new eco-vegan marketplace site, forAnima, looks to be up and running (though it’s still in beta). The site is expansive and includes men’s, women’s and kid’s apparel; shoes and accessories; health and beauty items; and gourmet food and gifts. I love the idea of a one-stop shop for all-things vegan.

forAnima

Here’s a description from the site for how forAnima works:

  • Shop forAnima and support animal-loving and eco businesses.
  • Upload and vote for products you would like created in an animal-friendly way.
  • Once we have sufficient interest, we will go to the brands directly and ask them to produce the most popular items.
  • Be the change.

I haven’t had the chance to purchase anything from the site yet, but I’m planning to do so very soon.

Chloe’s Kitchen: Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Mac and Cheese

As you can probably tell, I love mac and cheese. Up until recently, I’ve been using the Mac and Cheeze recipe from Vegan Yum Yum, which I still love. But it’s still not quite there, in terms of authenticity. But this Vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese recipe from Chloe’s Kitchen is the real deal. And, because it omits the soy sauce and miso, it’s more budget-friendly than the Vegan Yum Yum recipe. I like to bake mine as the recipe suggests, but it would be great served as a creamy dish. As usual, I like to serve blanched green beans on the side, and for this meal, I served a simple salad of mixed greens and vegan French dressing. I also used panko on top instead of regular bread crumbs for a little extra crunch.

Vegan Food Happenings: Barley Bliss Casserole and Avocado Toast

Barley Bliss Casserole

Barley Bliss Casserole

We’re having to rein in our food budget and have been searching for healthy and budget-friendly recipes. We definitely found it in this Barley Bliss Casserole from Chloe’s Kitchen. (You can find the recipe here.) I had never cooked with barley before, but have had it in soups and stews. The casserole does take a while to cook, but it comes together very quickly. Simply cook the onions, green peppers and mushrooms. Add the seasonings, and then combine everything into your baking dish and cook. That’s it. I served mine with a simple salad of mixed greens on the side.

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

I love, love avocado and will eat it on anything (or by itself). I’ve seen various avocado toast recipes around the Web, including some that use a dash of hot sauce. But I love the idea of sprinkling turmeric on it since it has lots of healing benefits. I just toast two slices of sprouted wheat bread, spread half an avocado on both slices, and then sprinkle with a little sea salt, cracked pepper and turmeric. That’s it. It makes for a light lunch (add some fruit or fresh veggies) or a great afternoon snack before heading to yoga or the gym.

I hope you all are well!

Veg Dining in London

London Notting Hill

Who knew that London was so vegan/vegetarian friendly? Well, I’m sure Londoners have long known, but this Louisvillian certainly did not. Having never been there I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Now, I’m going to make a little confession: While we go vegan whenever possible while traveling, we tend to relax a bit and go vegetarian when that is not an option. I realize that this doesn’t adhere to the strict vegan code of conduct, but that’s what works best for us.

But, moving on, our veg food journey actually started with our flight. When booking our tickets with Delta, we requested the vegan/vegetarian option in the check box. However, we weren’t expecting to actually get a special, full-on vegan meal. But to our surprise, that’s actually what we got. And not only that, it was really good (for airplane food, that is).

While in London, we made an effort to hit a number of pubs. All of the pubs we visited or checked the menu had a vegetarian option (including a vegetarian English breakfast, which I’m going to recreate in vegan form this weekend), and we’re not talking a sad veggie burger. And restaurants make sure to advertise that they offer vegan/vegetarian options, too. We stopped at the Duke of Wellington pub in Notting Hill (the picture above was taken on a stroll through Notting Hill) on two separate occasions. The first time was for dinner, which was a dish of grilled vegetables with goat cheese served over warm polenta and topped with almonds and a spring mix salad on the side. The second time was for a delicious vegetarian breakfast, probably the best we had.

In the neighborhood we stayed, Kensington, we dined at a wonderful Lebanese restaurant, Orjowan. The hummus was outstanding, and I had a delicious okra dish that I’m hoping to recreate as well.

London has several huge markets that go on every day. We stopped at the Borough Market in Southwark, which is more food-focused than the other markets. The smells from all of the food vendors was amazing and we had the best falafel ever at this little, nondescript stand.

The best meal of our trip was on our last night there. Our travel book recommended Diwana Bhel Poori House (can’t find a website) on Drummond Street in Bloomsbury. The place is small and very simple, and the booths aren’t the most comfortable and the service not the most friendly. But the food makes up for it. We split a huge dosa, and a poori dish that came with all of these enticing sauces and small pakoras. Apparently, their lunch buffet is outstanding and cheap.

We actually rented an apartment instead of a hotel, which I highly recommend. This allowed us to make breakfast there and bring home leftovers so we could save money. London certainly does not have a shortage of small groceries, which we made use of, and we even stopped in the Whole Foods. While similar to the Whole Foods here in the states, there were still a lot of products I had never seen before. We were able to pick up some wonderful vegan banana muffins for breakfast, and stock up on lunch items for a couple of days.

London is truly an amazing city for so many reasons, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to go. As a vegan or vegetarian, you certainly won’t go hungry, that’s for sure.

I hope you all are well!