Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's a Nate's Night!

Tonight, Claren (the eat-everything kid) wanted meatless meatball sub sandwiches, so I popped open a bag of Nate's Meatless Meatballs in Classic Flavor. I totally snagged the idea for this sandwich from a May 23rd post on this blog. And just as Jennifer says, they ARE spooky good. I also bought a bag of Chicken Style Meatless Nuggets also by Nate's, which I had never tried before, but figured that since the meatballs were so good, the chicken nuggets would be too. I put a few in the oven for Aislyn (the picky one), who did not want a sub, and a few more for me and Claren to taste test, as I simmered the meatballs in some marinara sauce.

Here is Claren enjoying her sub sandwich. She looks grumpy, but is actually quite overjoyed at the delicious-ness of her food. She is such a good little eater (except when she chews her carrots for 30 minutes before she decides to swallow them....that drives me nutty!).

Here is an artistic photo of the chicken style nuggets, which you may have noticed are not shaped anything like the other nuggets we have purchased...but I guess if they named them "Chicken Style Balls", well, that would be just too creepy. I really just wanted to show off my cute little bunny platter. Isn't it adorable???

This is Aislyn being dramatic about her first bite of her nugget. This is how she looks each time we try something new. And yes, it is annoying. She also has developed a strange and somewhat Darth Vader-ish sound that eminates from the back of her mouth when she eats, thanks to the new expander and bands that the orthodontist put in a few weeks ago. The sound is like a sink disposal mating with a vacuum. It's not pleasant.

This is her after a few bites, and after adding some ketchup to dip it in. She decided she liked them, but not enough to eat the rest of them. Sheesh. Note the farm placemat: Now, this is probably not a good vegan placemat, but I assure you the farm animals depicted are not raised for food consumption and are very well cared for! I only buy happy non-food farm animal pictures!!! Hee hee.

Claren and I liked the chicken nuggets, but they do need to be dipped in a sauce or added to marinara like the meatballs. And boy do they look meaty when you cut them open, they are stringy just like real chicken, which may or may not be off-putting, depending on your view of vegan food.

Now, I have a serious question to post. I have been vegan since early February, and I did it mainly for animal rights reasons. I have always been an extremely sensitive person, so I am not surprised at how personally I take it when I see other people consume meat. I have learned so so so much in the last few months about animal cruelty/factory farms/etc., and I have really become so very sad and angry at the rest of the world about the lack of compassion to animals. I recently read an article called I'm so vegan it hurts, and I really relate to how hard it is to deal with the meat-eating, milk-drinking population. But, the problem is that I have had some serious issues lately with my husband, who is totally and unabashedly omnivorous. He is a wonderful man, extremely supportive of my veganism, and never has any ill intent. His heart is full of love, but I don't think he is ready (or may never be) to make the change. Now, I have been wondering what a relationship like ours will go through in the future....I am the one who changed. I am the one who has made an entire life shift, as we all know that veganism is a lifestyle, not just what we eat or don't eat. It encompasses everything we do and think about...what we wear, what we shampoo our hair with, what to eat, what companies to buy from, what stores and restaurants we choose to patronize, what entertainment we seek out...and for many vegans, who we socialize with. Now, since I am the one who changed, and he has stayed the same, does this mean an eventual end to our relationship? I am willing to do anything to keep our relationship intact, but I need guidance and advice from those vegans out there that have gone through this. How do we stay sane? How do you stay happily married to a meat-eater? I am searching for balance in my life, and the strength to not let my veganism get in the way of relationships. Guide me, oh blog-o-sphere!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Gaping Hole in the Ground!

No food. Still staring at pool-like canyon in backyard!
(Okay, I have been eating, just nothing interesting enough to post. I did eat an entire bag of Bearitos Organic no-oil microwave popcorn with melted Earth Balance in one sitting though. Shame on me. Shame shame.)

Here is the pre-pool hole:

I give the pool-hole a measly 2 peas for taunting me on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lazy filler post ahead!

I have been lazy and preoccupied the last few days, hence the lack of posting. We are in the process of putting in a pool, and I can't seem to tear myself away from staring lovingly at the huge, gaping pool-like hole in the ground. So much so, that I have been mainly snacking for my is wrong to eat a bowl of pistachios for dinner? I personally don't think so, but I don't think my kids find it fair that they are forced to eat their chik'n nuggets, peas, and applesauce while Mommy gets to munch on Uncle Eddie's molasses cookies all day. Mwahahahahaha. Ha.

Anyhoo, I made my one of my favorite breakfasts today, after gazing at the pool hole for two hours out the window. It's my fakin' bacon and peanut butter toast! Yes, I know, kind of a weird combo, but hey, I dig it. This meal is a throw-back to my youth, when my mom would cook up a batch of bacon and make either bacon and peanut butter toast or a peanut butter, bacon, lettuce and mayo sandwich. Ahhhh, sigh.

I truly adore the smoky tempeh strips by LightLife, they are mighty versatile and oh so delicious. They doesn't taste like bacon at all (to me, at least), but I really like the nuttiness of the tempeh and the smoky flavor. My younger daughter loves it when I make fakin' bacon, she says it's "really yummy, Mommy!". The OMNI hasn't tried it yet, but each time I cook it around him he makes the comment that it smells very good. Very authentically bacon-y!

It is nearing the end of the school year, which means I will hopefully be taste-testing and posting more often, because with two kids at home all day during the summer, I will need my usual escape mechanism....the computer room! (Wow, that totally makes me sound like a bad mom, but really, I'm very good. I just need my space. A lot of it.)

Note the plate of raspberries. See, I did eat something nutritious today!

No rating today. Too lazy. And I need to go look at the pool again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Seitan Buffalo Wings with Vegan Ranch Dip

I had a mishap a few weekends ago when I tried to make some homemade seitan using this recipe. It came out horribly, horribly wrong. I think my gluten dough was too wet when I added it to my simmering broth, and it kind of just fell apart slowly in the liquid. But I also had no idea what seitan was supposed to look, smell or taste like, since I had never had it before. I was a seitan virgin. I should have started out small, using this product I found in the refrigerator section of my local Sprouts store first, before embarking upon my version of homemade seitan.

So today, after a little internet searching, I found a good recipe for seitan buffalo wings. The last time I went to Green, we had the mock buffalo wings and they were mighty yummy, so I wanted to replicate them (although Chef Damon told me his mock chicken is actually freeze-dried mushroom stems!). I did as the recipe tells, and they turned out really great! I love the texture of the seitan, and the buffalo sauce was spicy enough to make us sweat (yes, the OMNI ate these!).

I also made a vegan ranch dip using Vegenaise, some dry ranch mix (McKormick's, I think, which was surprisingly vegan!!!) and a little plain soymilk to thin it out. I just eye-balled the amounts so I don't have an exact recipe for it. It was very very good, especially with carrots and celery.

Brooke-o-meter: (scale of 1-10 peas)
7.5 peas for the wings, 8 peas for the dip

No kid rating...too spicy, although they did eat the carrots!

7 peas for the wings, 7 peas for the dip

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Uncle Eddie's Vegan Molasses Cookies

These cookies should be outlawed. Made illegal. May the police come and take them away from me...they are making my butt gigantic!

A long time ago, when I was vegan for a few weeks back in college, I found Uncle Eddie's Vegan Cookies, and I was hooked. Those were good times. The Oatmeal Raisin cookies were (and still are) my go-to treat. But not too long ago, whilst shopping at my favorite Whole Foods store, I noticed there was a new flavor...MOLASSES! Now, I don't know how long this flavor has been out, but it was new to me! I was addicted to Paradise Bakery's Ginger Molasses cookies during the holiday season (but I think they have since put them on the regular cookie rotation), but had to give them up as I am pretty darn sure they aren't vegan (but don't quote me on that...I am just too lazy to check!). So, back to my story....I grabbed up a bag of these cookies, paid the cashier happily, and high-tailed it to my car. My car is my safety zone, where I can easily shove 12 cookies into my mouth without feeling guilty, and I don't really care about that guy in the next parking space staring at me. In actuality, I ate 3 cookies in a row, not 12, but I still think that says something about how frickin' good these cookies are. Oh, so so so good.

They are soft and fairly moist and have a smattering of raw sugar on top. There is even a nice hint of saltiness that is so yummy after indulging in the sweetness of the molasses-y goodness. Did I mention that I love these cookies yet? I think Uncle Eddie's needs to send me some coupons or something....

Oh, and these are really good when you smush some natural peanut butter in between two cookies and pop them into the freezer for a bit. Yum.

Brooke-o-meter (on a scale of 1-10 peas):
Ummm, can I go higher than 10 peas? 11? 25?

10 peas

10 peas

8 peas (he said he has to try them again to be sure...)

P.S. I couldn't find the company website (the one listed on their bag is invalid). You can find them at most Whole Foods and other health food/specialty stores, or google them to find a dealer. Food Fight has Uncle Eddie's, but no Molasses. Sorry!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Fantastic Burrito!

May 3rd was my 33rd birthday, and since that fell on a Wednesday, we decided to celebrate the event by going out tonight (Saturday) to my favorite vegan restaurant Green. I want to be totally hungry when we get there, as I plan on eating as many items as I can stuff into my face. And that is a lot. Therefore, I wanted to make a lunch that would keep me satisfied until dinner time, and not graze on my usual snacky pantry items (ClifZ bars, peanuts, the jellybeans I told myself to stay away from, etc.). I figured I would make something that had a lot of fiber and protein to keep my full, and still taste like yummy....hence, the Fantastic Burrito! (cue the trumpets!)

I love almost all of Fantastic Foods products, they are tasty and always work in a pinch. Easy, nutritious and they have a reliable list on the side of the box that tells you if it is vegan/vegetarian/kosher/etc. I like that. So I cooked up half a box of the Taco Filling, heated up a can of Bearitos refriend black beans, and chopped up some lettuce, avocado and some vegan American cheese. The Taco Filling is so easy to prepare, it takes less than 5 minutes, and really comes close to resembling actual beefy taco filling. It has a slight spiciness, so I think this would work for everyone, even kids who don't like spice.

The refried beans in a can always give me the creeps when I first open it up and dump it into the pan, as it looks and smells like canned dog food to me. But once it started warming up, it is less dog-food-ish. Once the main ingredients are sufficiently warmed, I plopped it all in a warm tortilla and smothered it in mild taco sauce. I don't like to make my burritos too full since I have a small mouth (go ahead, insert jokes here______), I don't like it when I bite the edge and because it is too big, the insides shoot out of the end of the tortilla and flop on the plate. Notice I used my neato pink bowling plate for serving. I have an addiction to quirky plates.

I added a handful of red grapes to my lunch, mainly because my 7-year old kept picking them off the vine and scooting them over to my plate. I guess I needed some grapes today! I think this burrito will keep me full until tonight, with the tons of fiber (5 g. in the beans, 4 g. in the filling, per serving) and protein (7 g. in the beans, 12 g. in the filling, per serving). Don't forget the grapes!

8 peas (out of 10)

I didn't feed this to my kids, so no kid rating.

The meat-eater-meter:
He's had the Taco Filling before, and gives it 8 peas. A good choice for everyone!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Szechwan Hot and Sour Soup

I am, admittedly, not well-rounded in the food arts from Asia. I wish I were. I am trying, though. So, when I came upon this product in my neighborhood grocery store, I figured this would be a good way to get started. And look! it says it is vegan in red letters on the back, so I was thrilled to not have to stare at the ingredient list for half an hour! Yippee!

I popped this into the microwave after pouring all the ingredients (minus the crispy shallot topping) into their convenient plastic bowl, and waited the required two minutes for heating. I even got out my super cool blue and green glass bowl to make the hot and sour event just that much more memorable. I am very classy, dontchaknow., just okay. Not too hot or too sour, but also not really hot or sour enough, if that makes any sense. Kinda bland, with a little kick of spiciness in the back of my throat, just to let me know that some kind of chili is actually in there. The tiny tofu chunks were weird and a little too chewy for my taste. I ate about 1/3 of the bowl, which I guess is good now that I look at the caloric content (480 calories per bowl). The OMNI gave it a bite and was not enthused either. Nothing special. My super picky 7-year old actually asked to try this, which is odd because she rarely asks to try anything new at all, let alone something soupy and noodly. She immediately spit her bite out in the trashcan, but I think that was more for dramatic appeal rather than actual revulsion.

On the bright side, I did make some mini blueberry pies, inspired by a recipe in this blog. They were extra yummy, and even though they were vegan, the OMNI was impressed. But of course, I forgot to take pictures of the pies before we devoured them whole and licked up all the crumbs.

4 peas, out of 10

Picky eater meter:
0 peas, for inducing the need for trashcan spittage

Meat-eater-meter (OMNI):
2.5 peas. Outlook not so good.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Vegan Beef Taquitos!

I love Mexican food. There, I said it. Love, love, love it. And when I decided to go vegan after many years of vegetarianism, I figured I would have to abandon my desire for Mexican food. What would my meals be like without cheesy goodness? So on one of my weekly jaunts to my favorite store, I came upon this product in the freezer case. It screamed my name....loudly!
I was so excited to try them, I immediately snatched up a box and sprinted towards the check-out lane.

And then I got home. I placed them in the freezer, kissing the box lightly and whispering sweet nothings into its side flap. Yes, my dears, I will eat you soon enough. But something strange came over me the next day....I got cold feet. I was actually scared to pop these into the oven, I think for fear that they would taste awful and I would have to resume my gloomy outlook on my desire for decent vegan Mexican fare. I waited. And waited. For weeks.

Until today, when I finally gave in. For a whole hour this afternoon, I opened and closed the freezer door, hoping to find something else to eat to satisfy my cravings, and each time these taquitos moved closer and closer to the freezer shelf edge, tempting me. Feeling beaten down and hopeless, I heated them up and prepared for the worst....

But wait! They are....GOOD! Really good! Even without the cheesy goodness! Especially paired with a medium spicy taco sauce! I am happy. Happy that I have found a good pre-packaged vegan taquito to quench my hunger for South-O'-the-Border yummies. Yay! They are crispy and lightly spicy, and don't taste too "faux beefy" (I don't like my food to taste too much like meat. Ewww.) The side items were a big pile of steamed petite peas and Apple Blackberry Sauce.

7 peas (out of 10)

Picky kid meter (the 7-year old):
Not a chance, Mom.

Good eater kid meter (the 3-year old):

The meat-eater-meter (The OMNI):
He hasn't tried them yet. Will post his reaction soon.

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