Happy Sunday morning to everyone! Hopefully you can ease into the day and share time with loved ones and on projects or adventures you find fulfilling and joyful. If you do not have the day to yourself (if you have to work), I still wish you a happy Sunday, and I thank you for providing a valuable service on this day, and hope you find fulfilment and joy in your day as well.
Today, at Mami’s household, we are having a slow start; sipping on coffee and waking up slowly. The weather of the day is lending an even slower-motion feeling. Not sunny, a little chilly, and somehow a quiet theme is playing itself out .
So, here’s breakfast because not quite feeling like oatmeal or other cereals, not quite in the mood for toast or fruits, and definitely not in the mood for pancakes. But definitely hungry. So I made tofu scramble with the usual scramble veggies, which are mushrooms, onions, red peppers, and seasoned this mixture with tumeric, Berbere Seasoning from Frontier Natural Products.
After the tofu scramble was cooked and seasoned, I arranged the scramble and polenta in a bowl and decorated with leftover elements from last night’s supper of veggie tacos. A spoon ful of blackbeans, few chunks of chopped tomato, approximately 1/8th of an avacado, and then sprinkled the food in the bowl with chopped cilantro, scallions and nutritional yeast…oh yes, and my favorite, non-calorie condiment, lime juice. Very good, very filling and looks pretty nutritious!
And now, onto the rest of the day!
Thank you for sharing your time with me.
Take good care of yourself and your loved ones and remember to cook and serve good food!
I’ve been researching my cookbooks,various recipe websites on line, and watching endless You-Tube presenters, trying to find and comparing recipes for a fairly low fat, easy and delicious, cheese- type sauce. And all recipes I found were pretty similar and also appeared as if they all used a similar technique. It really blew my mind at how easy a vegan cheese sauce could be. All I could wonder was, could it really be that good? And if it was good, perhaps it would be nothing like a cheese sauce, but more like a white sauce. This idea seemed to logically make more sense to me. But where was the flour and butter to make a roux, or the cornstarch slurry or arrowroot slurry? Could it really be that easy and also taste good?
Well. I was surprised.
To start with,I soaked 1/2 cup raw cashews in a container with plenty of water to cover. I let the cashews soak for one hour while I was preparing everything else.
In a medium saucepan, I put 3 cups water, 1 small to medium potato, peeled and chopped, 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped, 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped, 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, salt and pepper. I let this cook until all veggies were soft, then set aside to cool a bit before blending in a blender.
After an hour, I poured the pan of veggies and all its water into my blender. I then drained the cashews and put them in the blender with the veggies. Also to this mixture I added a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch more of salt, and 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast, and then let the mixture whir away in the blender. At first I thought, this is strange, how can this be? But I stayed with it and begun to see a change in the texture of the sauce. I stopped the blender and tentatively lifted the lid to check out the consistency of the contents. I’ll be darned if it didn’t look like a cheese sauce. Then I tasted it. Gingerly, at first, but wait a minute… Wow! That was good! Texture was silky and amazing and the taste was very delicious. And it would pass as a cheese sauce!
I immediately steamed a head of purple cauliflower which I had in my refrigerator waiting for me to get inspired as to how I was going to serve it. I presented the cauliflower in a large bowl then poured the cheese sauce over the entire head, it was beautiful. And it tasted even better!
But wait, I thought, I can pretty it up with a sprinkling of a few seasoned bread crumbs:
And then I thought, Why not add taco sauce, hot sauce and more nutritional yeast? I gave a sample to my husband and he was very impressed. I told him it was queso sauce and gave him tortilla chips with it. He said it was very good, and ate the entire serving I gave him. He also liked the cauliflower with cheese sauce and was surprised when I told him how I had made the sauce, and how easy it was to vary the sauce, to get a different flavor spin.
And for my last experiment using the cheese sauce, I thought I would put it with a lasagna. The stuffing of the lasagna was made with a tofu spinach blend, which consisted of tofu and spinach, of course, and bread crumbs,nutritional yeast, italian seasoning and smashed garlic cloves sauteed with chopped onions and chopped red peppers, and then seasoned with salt and pepper.
I layered the cooked lasagna noodles with the tofu spinach mixture, the cheese sauce, noodle, tofu spinach mixture, red sauce and continuing on until all ingredients were used. I think I had four layers of noodles. I baked the dish for one hour and then let it sit for half an hour. And, another surprise! It was very hearty, and very good. Not to be confused for a luscious Italian lasagna laden with ricotta and parm and all the other cheesy tastes, but it was a good meal. Filling and warmly comforting, with a robust flavor. Yes. It was a very good lasagna. But just not a great lasagna. But then again, I never was a fantastic lasagna cook. I will have to keep at it to see if I can come up with one that is better.
Next time I do a cheese sauce, I will try it without the cashews and see how it does.Even though I only used half a cup of cashews in the entire batch- and the batch made about four and a half cups- I would like to make a cheese sauce with no fat added. I have seen recipes that do not use nuts, everything else was pretty much the same, so maybe that will also be possible, and hopefully I will be just as surprised.
So, all in all, I was pleased with learning this new technique.It opened up another avenue of learing how to make sauces to serve with meals when you need that extra something for flavor, but you just don’t want to add alot of calories or fat in the form of dairy products and processed prepackaged sauces.
Thank you for reading my post, and let me know if you’ve had similar experiences discovering something new!
Till next time, take care of yourself and your family, feed them and yourself, well!
Tonight for supper my husband and I had an Asian inspired feast. While almost all our supper was vegan, my husband had a pot of chicken and vegetable soup to begin his meal. He requested I make him chicken soup as he is recuperating from an operation and this is a comfort food for him. Although he mostly eats vegan meals at home, I respect that he is not totally vegan or plant-based and if he has a request I like to honor it. After all, he’s had a lifetime of eating a certain way culturally and socially,so to insist that he change his choices to my choices is presumptuous and unfair. He does agree he feels better when he eats plant-based and it has helped him bring down his cholesterol, and as a result he is eating, enjoying and requesting more plant-based meals. And if eating this way keeps him healthy and feeling good, then that is enough to make me happy.
On the way home from work today, I stopped to shop and I found these absolutely beautiful fat asparagus spears on sale, and I knew this was one of my husband’s favorite veggies, so naturally I picked them up. I steamed them over a water bath, and really used no seasoning at all. They were tasty all on their own, steamed to tender crisp.
The thick ends I had trimmed off the stalks, and steamed them separately and for a longer time until they were very soft. I intended to use the softened and cooked trimmings to make a creamy asparagus soup over the next day or two.
Next, I steamed frozen edamame for just a few minutes, and tossed them with a teaspoon of coarse ground sea salt to make a protein packed side dish. Don’t eat the tough outer shell- you only want to eat the tender beans inside.
As another side dish, I scooped out of a jar kept in my refrigerator, a kimchi I had made from korean radish. Korean radish (also called Mu) is similar to Daikon radish, but is not quite as long and more rounded, and it comes in a variety of sizes. I learned to make Kimchi from You Tube personality, and Cookbook author, Maangchi. You can find her and her recipes by going to Maangchi.com her recipes are easy to follow, tasty and well presented. I love Maangchi and had the pleasure of meeting her in a meet-up in Connecticut where we all gathered for a picnic of delicious Korean food and went for a walk in the park afterward. It was a very fun day ! I did veganize the kimchi recipe, but once you know how to do it , it’s very easy to make accommodations, and Maangchi will also at times give ideas on how to veganize her recipes. She is awesome!
My next side dish was the rice course. This was a medium grain brown rice cooked with black beluga lentils and green peas. The lentils and riced cooked together and took about 40 minutes to cook, and then I folded in a cup of frozen peas, turned off the heat and let the pot sit, covered, for about 10 minutes before I served it with supper,
For another dish, I cut tofu into bites-sized pieces and steamed them for 10 minutes, until they were hot all the way through. Then I made a sauce by mixing together gochujang ; which is a spicy red pepper paste found in the Korean section at the grocery store, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, a little brown sugar, roasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions. I topped each bite of tofu with a small amount of dipping sauce, and then garnished them with a slice of scallion and a small drop of sesame oil. So tasty!
I drank with my meal a small cup of teeccino, an herbal coffee substitute and my husband had a cup of tea.
All in all it was a very good meal, and we had our fill, and really only had three asparagus spears leftover.
I am so glad I’ve learned to cook this way – its simple food, prepared simply, and yet it is filling and satisfying and celebrates the arrival of spring and the clean flavors of foods that are nourishing to the body and beautiful to behold.
Happy Spring ! Thank you for visiting my post today!
So, my husband had fallen off the healthy eating track during the holidays and was beginning to feel bloated and heavy; losing the vitality and energy he had found while eating a lighter, cleaner and plant-based diet. He wanted to get back on track, and he usually does that by juicing for about a week, but he was feeling too lazy to drag out the juicer. I didn’t want to buy all kinds of juicing veggies only to have them wilt away and go bad in the refrigerator. And though I think juicing is fine for some, I like the idea of making a smoothy and enjoying the nutrition of the veggies/fruits as well as keeping the benefits of the fiber, which our bodies also need. So we comprised.
I washed and cut up an assortment of fruits and veggies, to blend in my Vitamix, and made him a smoothy drink he could consume at lunch time and any other time of the day he wanted a veggie pick-me-up. Baby bok choy, carrots, celery, spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, oranges, pineapple and hemp seed hearts. I added about 2 cups Exeter spring water and then blended until all ingredients were liquified. My work station looked like this:
Once all ingredients were liquified, I poured them into glass containers, plus a special tasting glass for the chef!All in all, the smoothy tasted pretty good. It did admittedly taste green, but once you become familar with the “green”taste, I think it was pretty good. Next time I would definitely add some ginger and lime or lemon, for a little kick.
After tasting his smoothy, my husband thought it was a bit sour…or needed sweetness. His tastebuds had quickly reverted back to his desire for sugar during his holiday feasting. So, I had to add two more oranges, a carrot and 4 pitted dates to the mix; reblended and let him taste again. This time it tasted better for him, and he was set to begin his day with getting back to healthier eating.
I took a bottle of smoothy to work with me for lunch, just in case I didn’t get to stop and eat my packed lunch, and I was surprised at how full and satisfied I felt, and it kept me going until supper. I would definitely suggest anyone else do the same, but tailor it to veggies and fruits that are personal favorites and be mindful to add a variety of colors…not just greens and even taste as you go along. I have at times added a handful of dry old-fashioned oats and a tablespoon of hemp seed hearts or almonds to add some heartiness and protein. Besides the obvious nutritional benefits, the thing I like best about this smoothy is no added chemicals or thickeners or preservatives…just plain good food!!
Yesterday, when I punched out for the day from work, I knew I wanted to make my husband and I something hot and filling for supper. We needed a change from the rice and beans we have been having lately, even though the recipes we’ve been coming up with have been so, so, so, GOOD! Spinach and mushrooms kept popping up in my mind, and naturally a warm,fluffy, perfectly baked russet potato kept inserting itself into the equation.
So, I stopped into the grocery store to buy fresh baby spinach, white button mushrooms, and two of the biggest, handsomest russet potatoes I had ever seen in my life…maybe they just looked sooo good because I was truly hungry! How I escaped the grocery store without buying half of the store is still a mystery to me, because everyone knows you should never shop while hungry. And I know better from experience. Hahaha.
Once home, I preheated oven to 350 F, and placed my well scrubbed russet beauties in the oven on top of my pizza stone, and let them roast lazily as I prepared the stew.I prepped veggies next. Chopping 1/2 large white onion, 2 large cloves garlic,12 oz. White button mushrooms and 8 oz washed spinach. I measured out 1 cup frozen green peas.
Next I sautéed the onions and garlic in a couple teaspoons of water (to keep the fat low), in my favorite soup pot. Then added the sliced mushrooms to the pot and let them saute until they released their delicious mushroom juice. At that point I added2 cups of unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of low salt mushroom stock, 1 tsp thyme, a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. I let it all come to a boil, then turned the pot down to low and let it simmer covered, for 25 minutes. Then I added the spinach and peas to the pot, and bought the stew back up to a boil.Then I tasted the stew for seasoning, adding more of anything I might think it would need…it tasted perfect…well…maybe it needed just a touch more salt.
For the finish of the stew, I dissolved 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder with 4 tablespoons cold water and stirred it into the stew, until the stew thickened. If I had wanted a thicker sauce-like stew, I could have added more arrowroot slurry; but I was happy with the way it was.
I sliced open the baked potatoes and layed them in a shallow bowl and then ladled the stew over them. So sublime! So warm and filling! So very delicious!
Once again, I find my food philosophy to be so true. The simplest and most basic preparations can be the most satisfying and most delicious! And it’s a bonus that it happened to be nutritious too!
After work today, I had to drive a couple towns over and run a couple errands, shopping and ordering a much needed heating fuel delivery. I was very hungry, but couldn’t decide where to stop for lunch, because anything I could think of was not quite what I thought I wanted. Probably I was too hungry to think clearly. I should have been better prepared and bought a snack with me.
On my way back through town, I went by a charming soup and sandwich shop and decided to stop in. If my memory served me right, I may be able to find something there which was nutritious and satisfying.
And I was right. I got a vegan sandwich called the Veritable Veggie on the Healthiest Bread Ever. Vegan, delicious, nutritious and satisfying; just exactly what I needed! The sandwich was packed with lettuce, cucumber, carrots, tomato, beansprouts, red onions and peppers. Also a modest amount of hummus, which was just the perfect amount! And all of this on a healthy whole grain bread, which was advertised as vegan.
It made me happy to feel good about eating lunch outside of home, without a big fuss about my food choices. Hopefully many more such places will open up, but sometimes I wonder if enough people will patronize these healthier places to make it profitable for the owners. Oh well, one meal at a time…