Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cream of Wheat Berries with Cranberries and Cardamom

I had every intention to put this together last night to have for breakfast this morning but I was so tired and crashed on the sofa until the partly sunny sky came through my window.
So, this morning, I decided to have breakfast for dinner.  It was so good the wheat berries was so yummy with the cranberries and maple syrup. You can add a splash of milk if you want, add brown sugar!

I used the smaller slow cooker (4 qt).  It serves 4 or even more if you like having a big breakfast with pancakes, toast, etc.

1/2 cup wheat berries
1/4 cup cracked wheat *I had to use bulgar because I could not find the cracked wheat*
1/2 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom *you can use cinnamon or allspice if you like*
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

in a 3 1/2 - 4 qt slow cooker, combine the wheat berries, cracked wheat, oats and water.
stir in the salt and cardamom.
cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours *after 5 1/2 hours it was ready so you might want to have a timer installed or keep an eye on it*
stir in the cranberries just before serving.

From the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker


Monday, February 27, 2012

How to Build a Better Vegetarian Lunch/Dinner

Breakfast is easy.  Cereal with nut milk (soy, almond, coconut) or rice milk.  Oatmeal with fruit, brown sugar or maple syrup.  Toast with peanut butter and jam.  Easy Peasy.
The problem, people ask me about is lunch and dinner.  Sure a salad is great but it doesn't really fill you up when you have kids to run after or when you are running around to the different business meetings or when you are working retail on the sales floor for hours and hours or running around to get to appointments, classes or auditions.
This is an easy guide you can print out and have in your wallet or refrigerator door.

1. choose something from each category
2. be mindful of portions
3. include as many colors as possible

Protein                                                                Whole grains
nut butter                                                               whole grain sandwich bread
vegan cheese                                                         whole grain pita bread or chips
beans                                                                     whole-grain tortilla
edamame                                                               whole grain English muffin
hummus                                                                 whole grain chips or crackers
tofu seitan                                                              whole grain pasta or couscous
tempeh                                                                   brown rice, quinoa or millet
nuts                                                                        whole grain muffin
sunflower seeds                                                     granola

Healthy Fats                                                        Vegetables
almonds or almond butter                                      Fruits
avocado                                                                 Calcium
flax oil                                                                   non-dairy yogurt
flax seed                                                                vegan cheese
olives                                                                     tofu
extra virgin olive oil                                              dark leafy greens
                                                                              almonds or almond butter
                                                                              nut or rice milk
                                                                              100% fortified orange juice

The list might look a bit scary but you should notice that there are repeat "offenders" like beans and avocado.
For example my lunch today is black beans (protein, calcium), 1 slice of flax seed whole wheat bread (whole grains, healthy fats), orange bell pepper, onions (vegetables), tomatoes (fruit), extra virgin olive oil (healthy fats) aka black bean chili with a side of bread.
No big whoop ;-)

I made a huge pot of the chili so I will be having this with cornbread for dinner.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I am often asked what do vegetarians or vegans eat.  
Being a vegetarian was easy for me but I have been trying to go vegan but I am addicted to cheese.  
You know the stuff for grilled cheese, quesadillas, macaroni and cheese, etc.  
Cheese is always in the house.  
Keeping vegan cheese at home is easy but when I run out of cheddar cheese for some peanut butter grilled cheese, I have to have the dairy kind.  
I was talking to a friend about it and she suggested I blog about it.  My struggle with staying away from dairy cheese and what I eat (what about protein?).  
For example, for breakfast I had tofu scramble with sauteed red peppers, with daiya cheese, green onions, and spinach.  Lunch was oatmeal w/pumpkin spice syrup.  For dinner we're having black bean chili.  
This weekend will be challenging since both of my daughters are filming.  I stay with the tween while the husband stays with the teen.  
Lots of peanut butter sandwiches for me to make tonight!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barley, Kamut, and Oats....Oh My!

I'm giving my slow cooker a break from making us dinners and making it work overnight for breakfast.
I've made only oatmeal in it.  Sometimes fruit and agave or brown sugar and maple syrup.
Trying new things is my goal for 2012 and hoping to open the door to other tastes for the family to enjoy.
This recipe is from the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker using ingredients I've never used.  Looking for them in the store was a challenge.  Most were found in our local Ralph's Supermarket.
I had it this morning and it took 3 spoonfuls to "get it".
The 1st spoonful was interesting.  I've never had this before so it was a little meh.
The 2nd spoonful left me thinking it can be a little bit better.  So I added a bit more maple syrup.
The 3rd spoonful and I was HOOKED.
You can adjust it to how sweet you like your morning hot cereal.
I used my small 4 qt. slow cooker which was THE PERFECT SIZE.
Having 2 slow cookers (4 & 6 qt) had me thinking....
Why am I not using one for breakfast and the other for dinner?

Barley and Kamut Breakfast Pilaf

1/3 cup kamut, soaked in water 6-8 hours
1/2 cup pearl barley
2 tbsps cornmeal
1/2 cup chopped mixed dried fruit (I used a 1/2 cup of a bag marked "mixed dried fruit" you can probably just purchase whatever dried fruit that tickles your fancy)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups water
1 tsp vanilla extract
maple syrup for serving (when I say maple syrup, I don't mean Aunt Jemima.  Buy the good grade A quality.  It is so much better for you and the taste is out of this world)

in the slow cooker, combine the kamut, barley, oats, and cornmeal.
stir in the dried fruit, cinnamon, and salt.
stir in the water and vanilla.
cover and cook 6-8 hours on low.
stir then spoon into bowls and drizzle, to taste, with maple syrup.

*Side note: The prices to the unusual ingredients were a bit more than what I would have wanted but you don't use much of it so it will last a long time.  So looking at the price and dividing it per serving size and it was a lot more settling.


The Deliciousness that is Double Chocolate Cinnamon Bread

Yesterday I was inspired after cleaning my pantry and seeing all the flour I had there. 
My daughters and I are BIG fans of the cacao bean.  Everything from hot cocoa to the ever loving s'mores, we are all over it!

This recipe I tweaked to fit my dietary needs.  
The original recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens More Bread Machine Bounty.
This makes 1 lb of Double Chocolate Bread...
2/3 cup unsweetened soy milk 
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer plus 2 tbsp water (mix well before adding)
1 tbsp Earth Balance Coconut Spread
2 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tbsp Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup 365 Dark Chocolate Mini Chunks

Add ingredients to the bread machine according to manufacturer's directions.  My machine is about 10 years old and I don't know if the new machines (or older machines) are different.  Mine is wet ingredients then dry ingredients.
The 1 lb loaf serves 16.  
LOL Yeah ok...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Better than Chocolate--Kinda sorta

Telling someone you love them everyday just because.
Valentine's day excluded.
Too commercial.  Too expected.

Give me a plant I can nurture and watch grow.
They just die after a few days.
Is that how you see me?

Help out in the kitchen.  Load the dishwasher and wipe the counters and stove.
Going out to eat we do every so often so how special can it be?

Hold my hand and snuggle.
A card?  Do I need any more clutter?

Burn some yummy smelling non-toxic candles and use that lotion/cream/oil sitting on the nightstand and make me feel special.
A gift card to a spa?
And let someone else do this?
What is that I feel on me?
Put it away.
It's not the weekend.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Break From Cooking? Yes Indeed!

I was ready, this morning, to get my shopping list together for next week's dinners when I decided to check the freezer first.
I am happy to say that my freezer was full of leftovers from the past couple of weeks that I think I can pull off NOT cooking this week.
Yay for me!
Or maybe I'll try some breakfasts/lunches in the slow cooker.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Frugal Living--Living on the Cheap

Since we are in semi-quarantine because of my sick teen, I was able to sit down and watch the 4pm news.  Usually, at that time, we are at the Y for the kid's acting or dance class or somewhere in Hollywood for an audition or filming.  
A family in Davis, California vow not to spend money during the month of February. The mom talked about going to Costco buying lots of rice, butter, and frozen meats and only spending money on milk.
She opened her refrigerator and there were about a dozen sticks of butter.  Who does she think she is?  Paula Deen?  
Here's the thing.  
There was no mention of fruits and vegetables.  
Sure you can definitely have a nutritious meal with rice and beans; spaghetti and pasta sauce and, if you must, a serving of animal flesh but nothing gives you a happy ending like a juicy orange or a nice serving size of steamed broccoli, or some raw carrots dipped in tahini or hummus.  
Here at home, I make weekly trips to the store and buy enough fruits and vegetables to last us a week.  
For our family of four I buy 10 lbs a rice and that can last us a good 2 months.  10 lbs of dry pinto beans lasts us even longer because just 2 cups turns into 6 cups of beans!  That's a lot of tootin'!  And more than enough protein to fill the daily requirements.  
Unless those kids are getting their fruits and veggies in school or the mom didn't mention buying them, those kids are going to miss out on some very important nutritional needs.
I will just keep doing what I'm doing.  
We don't go to the movies often unless we scored free tickets for previewing and rating movies or we take a mile walk to our local library and pick up movies (I picked up Spy Kids 4,Veggie Tales Bob Lends a Helping Hand, Harry Potter 7.1 and 7.2).  About every 2 months or so I go to the warehouse store across the street from us and buy a huge box of popcorn.  
I stick to a list at the grocery store.  Unless, of course, there is a really good sale.  Ralphs had guacamole for 50% off and I had a coupon for 50 cents off and because Ralphs doubles their coupons under 75 cents.  I paid less than 40 cents for guacamole.  Word.
We do spend money on gas because the hubs has to go to work.  The girls and I walk to just about every where here in town or take the bus to the big city when we have to.  
Once in a while we do eat out.  I confess.  On those really tiring days I don't feel like going home to cook because I didn't know what time I would be home or just know I do not have enough energy to pull a meal out of the freezer and defrost and heat up.  We do take advantage of kids eat free deals or I always have coupons to some local restaurants around town, in case we are out.  
I don't go to the nail salon or do my hair every week or so because, frankly, I do not find it relaxing inhaling fumes.  I try to do a spa day with the girls when we are home on the weekends.  Non-toxic fun nail polish and mami pampering is how we roll.    
We haven't had cable in 5 years.  Sometimes I miss it when I hear that Dexter and Weeds are airing a new season but I just wait a year and watch the whole season at home for an entire weekend. No big whoop.  
I remember when the hubs favorite radio personality was no longer on the traditional radio station and moving to a subscription radio station.  I stood firm and said no.  Too much money the whole family couldn't enjoy.  Not like Disneyland.  So not like Disneyland.  After a few months of not listening to his favorite radio personality I felt a surge of guilt for denying something he loved.  I asked him if he wanted to get the satellite radio installed he can go ahead and do it. His reply?  Honey, I don't even miss him because I found someone new to listen to on the radio.
Living frugally is not very hard if you plan it.  I don't feel it is a big deal.  I guess if you haven't done it and see it on paper, it looks nearly impossible but you will be surprised that cutting corners isn't a big deal.

No recipes today.  I'm defrosting a past meal. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Photo: 3 Bean Chili w/Chive-Flecked Cornmeal Dumplings

Teen's 1st Public School Year

Is not going very well.
Don't get me wrong.  She has A's and B's and is one of the top 10 students in her class, but she has been sick twice within the first 100 days of school!  I don't know about you but I really don't like sick kids.  They are whiny and demanding.  They are not functional.  Today we are going to our friendly neighborhood family doctor to see what's wrong.
So today, for the second day in a row, dinner is in the slow cooker.

Three-Bean Chili with Chive-Flecked Cornmeal Dumplings
from the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsps tomato paste
1 tbsp chili powder
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 black pepper

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp minced fresh chives
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tbsps olive oil

to make the chili, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, cover and cook until softened about 5 minutes.
stir in the tomato paste and chili powder and cook about 30 seconds longer.
transfer the mixture to a 4-6 quart slow cooker.
add the tomatoes, beans and water, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
to make the dumplings, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, chives and salt in a medium size bowl about 45 minutes before serving time.
stir in the corn, milk, and oil until just combines.
do not over mix.
turn the slow cooker to high and drop the batter by the spoonful onto the hot chili.
cover and cook on high until the dumplings are cooked through 30-40 minutes.
serve immediately and

P.S. notice the absence of meat?  not needed with all the protein the beans carry and not an overwhelming amount of veggies that carnivores won't turn their nose.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

from my soapbox to yours

Treat those the way you want to be treated is something that I have been trying to follow for a few years.
In my 40 years, I didn't exactly follow this rule but with age comes wisdom.  It is amazing how just a smile can make someone's day a little brighter.  A little better. The light at the end of the tunnel.  Or just listening to what troubles them instead of criticizing.  They'll figure it out themselves.  They usually do when they hear themselves talk about their troubles.
I've had to distance myself from many people who have entered into my life.  I do a pretty bang up job putting myself down so I don't feel the need to include you in my life.
I've heard it all.  From homeschooling to eliminating animal products to health,  EVERYONE has an opinion.  Always when it's not called for and usually to put you down to lift themselves up.
I'm not perfect but I recognize my faults and own up to it.
Can you?

I made this last week and it was so good.  The recipe is pulled from the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by  Robin Robertson.  It says it serves 4 but it was filling and wholesome that if you live in a family of 4, don't be surprised if there is still so much more left.  Freeze it or save it for lunch.

Veggie Jambalaya

use a large slow cooker 4-6 quart is good.

2 tbsps olive oil
1 large chopped yellow onion
1 medium seeded and chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped celery rib
2 minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups slow cooked dark red kidney beans or 1 15.5 oz can, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups slow cooked black-eyed peas or 1 15.5 can, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 can drained diced tomatoes
1 cup water
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp old bay seasoning
salt and black pepper
8 ozs vegetarian sausage links cut into 1 inch pieces
tabasco sauce

heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic
cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
transfer to the slow cooker.
add the beans, tomatoes, water, thyme and old bay seasoning.
season with salt and pepper
cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
just before serving, reuse the large skillet and heat the remaining oil over medium heat
add the sausage link pieces and cook until browned, then add to the jambalaya along with tabasco sauce to taste.


LOL I just realized I posted this recipe some time ago.  I think I need to try new things......

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