Playing a bit of catch up-tofu, hibachi, gyros, and taco salad

I have been a bit missing in action lately. Sorry!

Next weekend I am playing food Coordinator again at the Ladies Rock camp through Girls Rock RI so that will be super fun, but I will also be super busy.

Here is what  I’ve been cooking up!

photo 3 (2)This is what I made for breakfast today. It was the Curry Scrambled Tofu with Cabbage and Caraway from the Vegan Brunch Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moscowitz. My kitchen still smells absolutely amazing from cooking it, and it’s now 3:30pm (I got up at 8 to cook it). Yay. Also, I love that it’s a fusion of Russian and Indian food together, which are two cuisines I would not think to pair together but love individually. They work together too, to my surprise. I always reduce the salt when I cook by a lot…I am not a fan of it and try to cook without it when possible. I did not always do that, though.

photo 2 (2)I made vegan hibachi vegetables with a vegan version of my favorite Japanese dipping sauce (called “yum yum sauce” on recipe sites). Basically for the veggies you just cut 4 zucchini into bite size pieces and 1 1/2 white or yellow onions and stir fry it with 2 tbsp Earth Balance and 4 tbsp soy sauce until cooked thoroughly (I think 5-8 minutes?). For the mushrooms just chop them and cook them in 1 tbsp Earth  Balance and 1 tbsp soy sauce. For the Yum Yum sauce I used this recipe  and made vegan substitutions with vegenaise and Earth Balance and used a bit less water (or you can just add more vegenaise after and stir it up to make it thicker like I did). It’ll need to rest overnight before you eat it so the flavors set.

photo 1 (2)

Tempeh Gyros with tofu Tzatziki! From this recipe! They were so good and quite healthy! The Tzatziki is made with silken tofu and you can’t even tell it’s not made with yogurt of some type. The only thing I realized is that there is an error in the recipe and they do not tell you what to do with the cucumbers they allude to later (like how much to use and how to cut them up) so I just omitted them and put sliced cucumbers into the sandwich.

photo 1 (1)

I used the recipe from the Eat To Live Cookbook for the taco salad. It’s really healthy, but could use some kind of improvement in flavor I think that I cannot quite pinpoint. Maybe some more spices or some cherry tomatoes, I do not know! It has corn, black beans, red onion, red and green bell pepper, and a “guacamole” dressing.

That’s all for now! For dinner tonight I am making the Bacon Cheeseburger Pie from Betty Goes Vegan, so I will let you all know how that goes sometime soon!

Advertisements

mish mosh of things and the week in review of foodie photos (albeit a day late!)

Yesterday there was no post because I was so tired! I had to get up really early and go to an event at the school I plan to go to for Culinary Arts and hopefully nutrition! I got to try out working in a culinary classroom for three hours. I made the quinoa salad that was on the menu, which was nice. I was really scared/nervous and struggled a bit due to that, but I am so excited to learn more, and I learned so much in that short amount of time! It was so enjoyable and went by really fast, there was no time to spare!

I am looking forward to starting in the Fall!

I have decided to try to only use my banana ratings system for vegan products and companies that I try now. The reason for this is because I want to be supportive of people like me or my vegan chef role models even if I don’t love a recipe as much as I would like to. I will still make suggestions and tips and maybe some constructive criticism when necessary, but will try to be more positive from now on. I think that’s fair because I would like the same types of things said about me and my recipes.

I made some really good food this week!

Here are some pictures/descriptions/links to them!

Buffalo Cauliflower (Made without hot sauce!) with dill cashew dip

Image

This recipe was amazing! I ate so much of it! I love that it does not use bottled hot sauce and instead uses herbs and spices to make your own. This way, I could control the sodium content and it was not ridiculous in that regard. It was extremely tasty, too. I put a little more cayenne in it and it was the perfect hotness. The dip blew me away though! It tastes exactly like blue cheese somehow!! I liked it so much that I am going to make it again this week!

Tempeh Sloppy Joe’s

Image

My picture definitely lives up to the “sloppy” title. Oops. I found this recipe here.. It was quite tasty and I loved that it had so many servings of vegetables in it! The cooked cherry tomatoes were a great idea. I added black olives (although I did not like how they tasted in it really), chopped scallions, and tofutti sour cream into half a pita. I did mix the tempeh with the sauce.

I think that was it, I had lots of salads and was eating leftovers from last week too!

This upcoming week you should get some really great ideas/inspiration from the recipes I will be cooking from! Or at least, have to wipe up your watering mouth. Hopefully I’ll be able to post at least on Friday, but it depends on my schedule and school stuff!

Exciting news in my world!

Hey!

So I forgot to post my typical Friday entry, and had been so excited with some great news I received this week, that it must be why I forgot! But also, I wanted to write a special post about all the new things that are going to be happening!

First of all, my last semester at my community college before I receive my Associate’s degree in General Studies starts this Tuesday! Forgive me if I don’t post as often as I have been due to adjusting to my new schedule…although I may surprise myself by writing some posts…

Second (there are 3 big things total to share), my recipe for the vegan “Scallops” Wrapped in “Bacon” was featured on the Bake and Destroy blog! I’m so honored to share my recipe there, and also so happy and proud the recipe came out so well! Here is the link to it, if you have not seen it yet!!

Thirdly (and finally!) I got accepted into a culinary arts degree program! It’s at Johnson and Wales University, in Providence, RI (about a 20 minute drive from where I live!). My goal is to get my Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Nutrition (and maybe even become a Registered Dietitian when I complete it…but one step a time…) but I have to prove myself first by completing the Culinary Arts associate’s degree with a 3.0 gpa, and applying (with references and some volunteer or work experience in nutrition). I do not think it will be much of an issue, but we shall see! Either way I am very excited!

Because of this I might try to focus on some health and nutrition topics that I enjoy, believe, and can share that have helped me from my experiences (or link to resources I can share), in addition to the usual delicious recipes, food pictures, and other vegan lifestyle related posts! I also really would like to try to include some more illustrations to accompany my blog again, but we shall see…

By the way, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to follow me on the facebook page (it’s easier to keep track of when I post new things if you don’t have your own wordpress!) https://www.facebook.com/bananacurlvegangirl

You can also find me on twitter https://twitter.com/laurahasheart

and even Pinterest- http://www.pinterest.com/hasheart/

Until next time friends! Keep eating deliciously!

Superbowl Snack Recipe? You got it! *drum roll* Veganized Scallops wrapped in Bacon!

Super Bowl Sunday is nearing, and I wanted to veganize a recipe my parents used to serve at their Super Bowl Parties. Scallops wrapped in bacon! I’ve been seeing hearts of palm used as all kinds of seafood substitutes lately, and I love them, so I decided to try it. And I am so excited that I thought to experiment and create this recipe! It came out so amazingly delicious and is pretty looking too.

Image

Not much else to say except that I am so excited to share this recipe!

So without further ado,

Vegan “scallops” wrapped in “bacon” or as I prefer to call it, “Hearts of Palm Wrapped in Tempeh Bacon”

Servings 8-12 depending on how thin you slice the tempeh and other various factors

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp hot sauce
  • ½ tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional if you can’t find it)
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar (I used coconut palm sugar because I had some and it’s healthier for you…but brown sugar will work just as well if not better…)
  • About 3 stalks of canned hearts of palm
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp Old Bay Seasoning
  • ½ tsp kelp granules (if you can’t get your hands on this, double the Old Bay)
  • 1 tbsp oil

You will also need some toothpicks, a small shallow bowl, a small frying pan, a cookie sheet, cooking spray, and some extra Old Bay…(I love to make rhymes…but it is true)

Directions:

  1. Slice tempeh with a long knife into 10-12 thin pieces.
  2. Place in a Ziploc type bag
  3. Pour all ingredients in order ending with the smoked paprika into the bag.
  4. Seal bag and gently toss to coat the tempeh. Place in the refrigerator.
  5. You probably want to marinate the tempeh bacon for about an hour, shaking the bag lightly every 15 minutes or so and placing back into the fridge.
  6. In the meantime while the tempeh is marinating, take about 3 hearts of palm stalks from a can.
  7. Slice them to be about 1.5 inches tall or so. Maybe 2.
  8. Place them into a shallow bowl and pour 2 tbsp of lemon juice over them.
  9. Then sprinkle the Old Bay Seasoning over the tops, making sure each piece has some on it.
  10. Repeat with the kelp granules.
  11. Place some plastic wrap over them and also place them into the fridge like you did with the tempeh bacon. Turn over every time you shake the bacon. The idea is to let the hearts of palm soak up the flavors a bit and marinate.
  12. Around halfway through marinating both items, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  13. When the bacon is done marinating, spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place the tempeh in a single layer. Do not put any extra marinade or liquid into the pan. Just the marinated tempeh.
  14. Take the coconut palm sugar or brown sugar and sprinkle onto the pieces of tempeh. Rub it a bit into the tempeh with your fingers. This will make the tempeh bacon more like actual bacon in my opinion. It ends up getting crispy, sticky and extra delicious when done.
  15. Heat in the oven for 15 minutes.
  16. When there’s about 5 minutes left for the tempeh bacon to cook, take out the hearts of palm.
  17. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a smallish frying pan.
  18. Place the hearts of palm without the marinade liquid into the pan and sprinkle with some extra Old Bay, maybe some salt if you desire too. Be very careful as it may splatter a bit.
  19. Heat on each side until it begins to brown, 1-2 minutes each side.
  20. Take out the bacon at 15 minutes and let it cool while you finish the hearts of palm.
  21. Place the hearts of palm on a plate.
  22. When you can handle the tempeh bacon with your hands, take one heart of palm piece and one slice of tempeh bacon. Wrap the bacon around the circle…if it breaks it’s ok, just finagle the toothpick into it so that it sticks on as well as you can. It’s all going into the same place anyhow. It’s kind of difficult to explain the procedure though. If you look at the pictures of the recipe it might give you a better idea of a strategy for handling it.
  23. Serve as soon as possible afterward. They’ll be best when still warm. You can try reheating them in a toaster oven on broil if you have that capacity later…microwave may work too but no guarantees it’ll taste the same when reheated. I’m pretty sure if you have a lot of people over or even just you, they’ll be tasty enough to polish off quickly
Image

the hearts of palm marinating

Image

the hearts of palm after they’ve been cooked

Image

all asembled!

Image

One more picture for good measure!

Foodie Friday Catch-up

I have forgotten/been busy and have been neglecting this for a few weeks. Aside from some Christmas food postings, and my recipe for my brownies the other night, I have not been posting much! Hopefully I can change that while I’m on break from school!

Anyways, I am going to fill in some gaps of some things I have made recently.

I think this is everything, except I did make the healthy (and delicious! might I add) waffle recipe from Isa Does it for New Year’s Morning and I forgot to take a picture of it. Oh, and I made a salad to share for a writing workshop I attended, also from Isa Does It (the avocado ranch one) that I forgot to to take a picture of as well.

Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Lentils from Isa Does It

Image

I really loved the texture of this salad! The flavors were great. As a meal it was surprisingly satisfied. I’d definitely make it again and it was quite easy. The easier the better lately, in my opinion!

5bananas

Fruit Punch “winkies” from Bake and Destroy

Image

I also made these for the writing workshop with my new canoe pan I got for Christmas! The cake batter ends up coming out really thick and bakes like the consistency of a donut. You can’t really taste the fruit punch flavor as much as I’d like. Some tweaking of my own vegan twinkie creations is definitely in order! But it was great to have a recipe to work from and see if it works, get inspired by! Believe me…there’ll be more vegan twinkie recipes in the future. As someone of an aside…I need to get more practice with the frosting syringe so that the filling gets distributed evenly throughout the twinkie fully…

3bananas

Cucumber Ranch Bowl from Isa Does It

photo 3 (1)

This was quite good. I loved the crispy tofu and the  spices used to make it. The dressing has a bit of an odd texture but is good. The broccoli goes well and also gets more veggies into the dish. I liked the textures combined with the rice. I do not know for sure if it is something I would make again though? I thought it would be much better than I thought by the write up it had in the cookbook. I think it’s good for a one time trial…not sure what to rate it banana-wise since it was good enough, maybe I will settle on 3 good bananas? I cannot decide though! Ok 3 good bananas it is. But I would definitely make the tofu again, just in something different.

3bananas

So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream (vanilla) with this strawberry sauce recipe

photo 4

I made this for my dessert on New Years Eve. It was really good, and not sickeningly sweet. I liked it a lot and put it on my waffles the next morning as a healthy topping! So good.

5bananas

Tempeh Soft Tacos (made with diy taco seasoning), with guacamole, lettuce, nutritional yeast, and salsa

photo 5

I used some recipes for reference for this. Mainly this one for the tempeh taco meat and this one (for the taco seasoning which I tweaked a bit by reducing salt and omitting the crushed red pepper). It was delicious though I put way too much of my guacamole onto it haha. Yum. The tempeh taco meat is definitely a good idea!

I have also been making a lot salads with some bbq’d Beyond Meat I got for free, eating the brownies I made last night, making a few daiya grilled cheese sandwiches, and other convenient foods but I need to get back to eating and cooking with more fresh veggies and such. I am going to try making the sweet potato gnocchi with tarragon cashew cream soon from Isa Does It. Be prepared to see that next week!

Foodie (Photo) Friday! Aloha salad, holiday pie, green smoothies, galore!

Hello!

I was sick this week with a pretty exhausting cold. I’m feeling much better now, though. Since my exhaustion and my lung congestion made it difficult for me to work out, I decided I was going to try and eat much better than usual and eat more fruits and veggies than normally (even though on average I get at least 10 servings a day or so) and so I finally gave in and tried some green smoothies. I think I’m going to be better about eating more fruits and veggies (Including green smoothies) from now on even though I’m not sick, because… duh. I also ate a lot of Amy’s No Chicken Noodle soup, which was awesome.

The first one was a banana-less kale based “Green monster” one here

Image

I had to add a lot of extra water because it came out way too thick. Also, I gagged several times still, and it sort of tasted like a salad dressing or something to me, oops. But I thought it was decent at first, since I had never had one before, that is, until I tried the Caramel Apple Green Smoothie from the recipes here. That one is by far much tastier. I used almond butter instead of sunbutter though. I don’t have a picture of that one, though.

Image

Next was the Holiday Pie from The Vegan Stoner Cookbook. It’s basically tofu and non dairy milk blended together, mushrooms and garlic cooked in soy sauce, prepared stuffing, and I decided to use the optional tofu hot dogs on top. I also dipped it in cranberry sauce. It was quite delicious.

Image

I rate this recipe 4 good bananas, one bad! (It just didn’t have the total wow! factor of 5 good ones, but I like it)

Image

Then there is this salad I made tonight!

Aloha Salad with Tiki Tempeh.

Image

So good, and made me think of fond memories from the Summer. I didn’t think bananas would be so tasty and add such a great texture contrast to this but it was definitely the best part for sure! Everything tastes so good, though! I also majorly splurged on a small amount of macadamia nuts which are so yummy, and added reduced fat dried coconut. The dressing is creamy and super tasty, the tempeh has great flavor, and all the fruits along with the spinach and cole slaw mix are wonderful together.

This has to be rated 5 good bananas!Image

I’m hoping this upcoming week I’ll have time to write some more fun entries besides just on Friday, but we’ll see what my life has in store from me. Until then take care and eat yummy foods!

Random post and a delicious autumn flavor breakfast sandwich recipe

Hello there!

I completely spaced out writing this past week’s Food Porn Friday entry. I was planning to write it but then things got in the way. My uncle from Georgia was in town and we went to get Thai food fairly late. By the time we got home and were done visiting, along with my stressful week (I had 2 exams in one day last week! blah) I just crashed without going on to the computer to update. Similarly, I did not have the time or energy to create any original recipes to post here. I’m really hoping this doesn’t become a regular thing, and I hate that I am writing this entry with my excuses for why I didn’t update, but basically, I need to find a good way to juggle being in college. staying healthy, and trying to be creative with this blog (and keep it going and inventive and inspired and promote it, etc). 

That being said, this past week saw me making baked apple cider donuts (recipe here), matzo brei again (recipe here), roasted brussels sprouts with maple syrup and chestnuts (my own recipe attempt that was just “meh” overall so I am not going to post it), apple pie  chia breakfast parfait (recipe here), vegan “chicken caesar salad (my own concoction with this dressing recipe), and a tempeh reuben casserole (recipe here).

Image

Clockwise from top left: Parfait, Donut, Caesar Salad, Reuben Casserole, and Matzo Brei.

This morning I made the tastiest breakfast sandwich I’ve had in as long as I can remember. It’s very much in touch with seasonal autumn flavors. The recipe is here. I used whole food’s prepared meatless sausage patty, raw baby spinach, and a daiya cheddar slice though instead of what was suggested in the recipe.

Image

The fake cheddar and pumpkin butter create an amazing taste. The mushrooms meld together with all the flavors and make it even more of a meatier texture. I savored every bite of it until it was gone 😦

I give this recipe 5 good bananas!

Image

That pretty much wraps everything up that I wanted to say in this entry today.

But before I finish, I wanted to give a glimpse on something I’m working on/worried about: vegan art supplies I can use for making illustrations. It has come to my attention that it’s somewhat difficult to determine whether markers and pens and the whole gamut of arts and craft supplies are vegan or not, and many are not (even down to paper and stuff). For now I want to post a link to this resource that helped me figure out how to do some research on this topic and also made me feel a bit less overwhelmed by that task. Eventually I think a post with various arts and craft brands and their status would be good for me or someone else to compile and share around as a resource, we’ll see what ends up happening.

That’s all for now! Hopefully this new week won’t leave me as busy or stressed and I can blog more!

Becoming a Healthy Vegan

I’m on a quest to become a healthy vegan. Becoming a healthy vegan may not always mean the person trying to become healthier needs to lose weight, but for me it has. I started out obese, and a doctor’s visit before I went back to veganism showed that my cholesterol was high, and so was my blood pressure (for my age especially, which scared me, which is why I started this quest right away after realizing it all). So far I have lost a bit over 50 lbs, and am really happy so far with my progress. I want to share some ideas I have about how people can become a healthy/healthier vegan, based on what’s worked for me and also what I’ve read about and the information I’ve absorbed.

As I like to say, often when talking to non-vegans about veganism, it is entirely possible to be an unhealthy vegan. People seem to think vegan = healthy or vegan=skinny but that’s just not true all the time.  Just taking a look at all the mainstream brands listed here that carry “accidentally vegan” products will give you an idea of how that’s possible (note: I’m skeptical that some of these are completely vegan, as some may have bone char sugar used sometimes, etc so eat these at your own risk).  Plus, vegan companies (and companies that aren’t exclusively vegan but market vegan products occasionally) are often devoted to veganizing non-vegan junk food staples.

My philosophy about becoming a healthy vegan though is to not give up too much more than what I have to. I’m already refraining from dairy, meat, and other animal derived products (for many reasons- both ethical and health-wise), so having junk food in moderation, or a good helping of pasta (like the cashew mac and cheese I made the other day) once in awhile isn’t going to totally hurt me. Especially if you look at the types of foods I’d typically eat when not vegan.  I mean, if you want to totally cut out all overly oily, starchy, sugary, types of snacks and meals all the time, and stick to just the healthy necessities,  then I commend you! But personally I feel like I will be too grumpy without indulging sometimes. It’s okay to have treats as long as I don’t go overboard or neglect other healthier and important food groups.

With that in mind, I try to eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but really, I aim for at least 10! The most I’ve ever done in a day since trying to increase my consumption of fruits and veggies is 15 (but I counted 5 of them from my shake, so maybe that’s technically cheating?) I try to have well balanced meals with every main food group involved but that can be difficult especially because I personally can’t eat 3 large meals only a day…I need to have 3 medium sized meals a day at normal mealtimes and about 3 other small meals (basically snacks…but not always junk food snacks) in between or I get too hungry and irritable feeling.

So, you may have seen it on pinterest or my facebook page (which by the way you should like it here if you haven’t already!) but a little while ago I illustrated a vegan food pyramid to put in a post like this.  I’m really excited about it because it looks SO AWESOME. I definitely put a lot of love and time into it. It’s not a perfect nutrition guide, but hopefully it can give you an idea of what a vegan food pyramid would be like, and all the different examples of awesome food we vegans eat. It’s not a comprehensive list of all the foods in each group, because, uh, the possibilities are so abundant and always expanding and I wouldn’t have room for that on a 8.5×11″ paper… (my hands would’ve hurt 1,000x more too after it was “complete” hehe). Anyways, without further ado (Please click on it to see a larger, more readable size):

food pyramid

I can’t say I follow this perfectly every day, but I do make sure that I eat at least 7+ servings of veggies most days, and that basically everything else is met throughout the day. I just don’t necessarily make sure every meal is the way the food pyramid says to do it (I based/adapted my image off of a vegetarian food pyramid I saw on the back of a can of chickpeas). I have given up all carbonated beverages after reading in several places how horrible carbonation is for your body (never mind the artificial sugars or fructose syrup they’re often ladled with), only cook occasionally with alcohol (but never drink alcohol or do drugs!) and only have about 1 cup of coffee a day. These things are definitely good to keep in moderation if you  don’t want to completely abstain from them.  I probably should have had something about smoking and drug use illustrated too, because I don’t recommend that in order to get healthy either, but yeah! And I drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water a day (I’d rather get my calories from food, not drinks that neglect to make me feel fulfilled.) Also, exercise is so good for you! It helps me a lot with mood problems and has lots of other benefits for your body, such as ability to decrease blood pressure, lose weight, stay active and sharp-minded, have fun, reduce stress, combat depression, etc (the list goes on and on!)

In addition, there are some really great tools I have found. For me, it’s made sticking to my goals much easier if I track my food and exercise every day and am completely honest with myself about it. The best place to do it I’ve found, is a website sparkpeople.com. I love this site because not only does it have a calorie tracker, but it also takes some of the guess work out of figuring out a calorie range you need if you want to lose weight healthfully, has an exercise tracker and lots of exercise demos (both strength training and cardio), lots of ways to get support from people on the web (especially people like me trying to get healthy or trying to lose weight), message boards, health articles, recipes, etc! It can be a great way to get a fairly good idea whether you need to ramp up your B vitamins and other vitamins and nutrients because it keeps track of how much you’ve consumed through food each day. It’s the best. I recommend it to everyone who asks about what I’m doing or who talks to me asking for advice based on my success so far. The best part is it’s a completely free website except for the sparkcoach, which I don’t need or want…haha.

I also like some exercise apps on my iPhone, such as Runkeeper and Gympact. Sparkpeople has an app that is really useful, although that does cost a small amount to purchase from the app store. It has all the same stuff as the website has though, I just like it because I can track things on the go without having to go to the computer all the time.

Also, if you’re reading this as a non-vegan and want to know more about simply becoming a new vegan, here are two great resources I recently found:

Going Vegan Isn’t Crazy (Reader’s Digest)

Go Veg Guide (Vegnews Magazine)-for people ready (or who may need some convincing!) to take the Vegan plunge (in .pdf form)