Monday, October 23, 2017

Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce

We all know I love potatoes. I love cooking with and eating potatoes. And I also feel my best when I'm eating a potato heavy diet. But I don't cook with or eat sweet potatoes that often. Truth be told they're not my favorite. I always see pictures and recipes on Instagram and they look so beautiful but for me they don't compare to a regular old potato. I decided to pick up a bag of sweet potatoes while I was at Trader Joe's the other day. I want to try to find a few ways to enjoy them because they are so good for us. Since I've had good luck making cauliflower cheese sauces, I decided to make a sweet potato cheese sauce. I went simple for my first try, but will definitely be adding other seasonings and flavors when I make this again. I wrote down what I did too. It turned out creamy and savory and really delicious. It looks like a cheese sauce made out of velveeta to be honest.
                                       
                                           
                                                            Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce
  • 2 Small or 1 Large Sweet Potato Chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Red Onion Chopped
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 5 T. Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp. Pepper
  • 3/4 C. reserved cooking liquid
  • 1/2 to 3/4 C. Canned Lite Coconut Milk
Boil the sweet potato, onion, garlic with a dash of salt and pepper until soft. I boiled mine for about twenty minutes. Reserve 3/4 of the cooking liquid, drain the rest. Add the cooked potato, onion and garlic to your blender with the cooking liquid, the coconut milk and the seasonings and blend until smooth and creamy.



The canned coconut milk gives a little extra creaminess and fattiness to the sauce. And because of the onion and garlic and nooch it has a great savory flavor, it's hard to guess that the sauce is made out of sweet potatoes!
I stirred mine with some gluten free pasta for a really creamy mac and cheese. It coated the noodles perfectly and was a super comforting dinner. I definitely would not have guessed this was made with sweet potatoes if I hadn't made it myself! Adding a little smoked paprika and green chilis would make a wonderful Queso cheese sauce!

Here's Kanye hogging the heat in the bathroom! This is from a night last week when I got up to use the bathroom and it was so cold, then I went out to the living room and it was so cold, and I noticed Joan was hogging the heat in the living room!
I know it's dark and fuzzy, but I had to show it. These two little stinkers just love the vents being on the floor! Such little dorks!




Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hazy Lazy Sunday

I needed a few things from Trader Joe's and found myself there yesterday afternoon. Saturday afternoon is probably one of the worst days to find yourself there. Yikes. But I lived to see another day and I still have all my hair! It was a quick trip, I just got a few basics.
Sparkling water,red onion,lemons,lite coconut milk, tofu x2,Jasmine tea,sweet potatoes,sweet onion,frozen strawberries, gluten free pasta, garlic,red lentils,tomato paste
I also stopped at Natural Grocers for a huge kombucha, a Hail Merry treat and some chocolate that was on sale. I love the big booch bottles at Natural grocers. They're about $6.50 and I get five servings so a little more than a dollar a serving. And they make great water bottles for later. I promised myself in the next few weeks I'm going to get a couple of jugs/pitchers and a starter set to make my own booch again. It's such a money saver.

For dinner I made pizza. I had a gluten free crust in my freezer so I cooked up some lentils and made a quick pizza sauce. I topped the crust with the sauce, lentils, a few dabs of olive tapenade, red onion, nooch, garlic, vegan shreds and crushed red pepper. It was so delicious! The olive tapenade added such a great salty flavor. I added fennel seed to the sauce so it had a great sausage-y flavor as well.
The picture is a little blurry, but I realized the blur is creating an almost angelic glow around Afro. So funny since she has been being such a pill! She has decided this chair is her favorite place to lay since it's kind of facing the door. She is obsessed with what is going on outside and tries to bum rush the door anytime I open it, or she thinks I'm going to open it.
This is my current view. I'm having a lazy Sunday morning blogging from bed and everyone but Joan is lounging. Joan is too busy staring at all the squirrel activity! I have today off and it feels so good to cuddle and lounge. I'm going to clean, cook and detox bath. My favorite kind of day!




Friday, October 20, 2017

Trying New Things

Yesterday I had to run some errands before work, and I found myself in a shopping plaza that had a Whole Foods. You guys know I don't shop there because I can't really afford to. But recently I've been reading about Amazon buying Whole Foods and lowering the prices. From what I could see it's really happening! I noticed that the bananas were only $.49 cents a pound and $.79 for organic. Both prices are cheaper than I've seen anywhere else. All in all I'm glad I checked it out, but I'll probably stick to my Trader Joe's/ Natural Grocers/Sprouts routine. I did pick up a few fun things
Chipotle hummus,frozen raspberries,avocado,cashew yogurt, potatoes, orange, kombucha, iced tea,bananas,carrots,chocolate, tater tots,tofu, turmeric root and ginger root
I also had a second booch that I drank while waiting for the bus. I spent about twenty five dollars which isn't bad, especially for Whole Foods!


I need to talk about this cashewgurt. I've seen this on a few Instagram posts, and have never seen it anywhere, even Sprouts. I finally saw it yesterday in the little vegan yogurt section and I knew I had to try it. It was about $1.69 a container which isn't cheap, but it also isn't super expensive like I had suspected. I took this with me to work as a little snack and guys, this is hands down the best vegan yogurt I've had period. It has a wonderful texture, it's thick but not too thick and it's so creamy on the tongue. It's sweet but not too sweet, and has a great natural strawberry flavor. I wanted the cup to last forever! This yogurt alone is worth a special trip to Whole Foods. I want more right now as I'm typing this!! This yogurt is seriously AHMAZING!!!!
When I got home from work I heated up some tots and had them with this chipotle hummus I found on sale. It's made in Colorado and it is really, really good. Remember how I fell in love with the chipotle veganaise? Well this is the hummus version. It's spicy with just the right amount of smoky. Absolutely delicious. Hummus and tots might sound weird, but don't knock it till you try it!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cheap and Cheerful

It seems like over the last couple of years I don't get a lot of questions about protein as a vegan, I get more questions about the expense of a vegan diet. I also have a coworker who thinks veganism seems really complicated. I have two coworkers who expressed interest in becoming a vegan someday, but because it's so complicated they want to wait until they can really commit. I of course have made it my mission to show how uncomplicated it is, and also how inexpensive it can really be. Any diet can be complicated and expensive. And any diet can be simple and inexpensive. Last night's dinner is a perfect example. I made some gluten free pasta, stirred in a little garlic hummus and a few spoonfuls of olive tapenade and nooch and half a can of white beans. Topped it all with some black pepper and crushed red pepper and I had a delicious one pot meal that was fancy and simple all at the same time. And it was ready in under fifteen minutes.
Crappy kitchen lighting, delicious meal

 This dish is creamy from the hummus, and the salty tapenade cuts through with a nice punch of flavor. This meal was neither complicated or expensive. You don't have to eat a frozen meal if you're tired and on a budget. And you don't have to spend a lot of time or money either. Vegan food like vegans comes in all shapes and sizes!
The girls get treats every morning, and yesterday I was having a tough time getting out of bed to hand out the treats. This is Kanye's very subtle stare letting me know I was late. Kanye has always been the treat regulator. She likes to get them in a timely manner thank you very much!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tasty Vegan Foodz

I had a pretty great food day yesterday even though I had to work. For breakfast/lunch I turned some leftover rice into curry fried rice with green onion and edamame. I served it with half of a perfectly ripe avocado, Dr. Praeger's Bombay burgers and lots of sriracha. This was such a delicious combo. It really made me feel satisfied before going to work.
Yesterday morning I also prepped an enchilada casserole so that when I came home from work all I had to do is pop it in the oven. It felt really good to take the time to do that for myself so that when I came home I didn't have to cook, but I also didn't have to grab something quick and easy.
Here it is before being baked. It's just corn tortillas layered with lentils, green chilis, green onions, nooch,vegan shreds and homemade enchilada sauce. I was going to write down the recipe, but I was out of chili powder which threw me off so I had to kind of turn into a mad scientist so I forgot to write down anything. I still managed to make a tasty enchilada sauce with cumin, smoked paprika and a few other random spices.

It came out messier than expected and also my kitchen lighting doesn't help but trust me it was delicious and was such a comforting meal after a long and brutal night at work. And of course I have leftovers for today!!




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Soup and Cats for the Vegan Soul

This is the delicious coconut curry butternut squash soup I made the other day. It was so easy thanks to the canned butternut squash I got from Trader Joe's. I just sauteed some garlic in a little coconut oil, and added some curry powder and crushed red pepper. Then I added the squash and a can of coconut milk. I let it all simmer while I cooked some rice and baked some tofu for croutons. 

Sorry for the crappy kitchen lighting! This was my dinner last night. Jasmine rice, leftover butternut squash soup with a Bombay burger on top. This was a really delicious combo. The Bombay burger and the soup really complimented each other.
I wanted to mention this kombucha from Trader Joe's. I had been eyeing it over the summer, and I finally decided to try it on Friday. I didn't even read the label because it's kombucha right? I drank it while waiting for the bus, and it was really tasty. Well, after drinking most of it I noticed that it is made with honey!!! I didn't even know that was possible. When I was researching how to brew your own booch, everything I read said you have to use real sugar for the fermentation process to work. I feel so bad that I drank it and worse that I didn't read the label. I just always thin of booch as a safe thing to buy without having to read the label. Lesson learned. I just thought I would warn other people. And from now on I'll be reading kombucha labels!
I had a rough night at work yesterday. I mentioned that standing in one spot has been really making my back ache, well it's Halloween time and we of course sell pumpkins. Some of them over thirty pounds. So yesterday I lugged at least fifteen over thirty pound pumpkins from the cart onto the scale and then back into the cart. My back hurts so much I can hardly stand it. I barely slept and sometimes if I move the wrong way the pain is so excruciating I immediately start crying. I don't know how I'm going to get through these next two weeks with these pumpkins. Anyway, as always my girls cheered me up when I got home!
This has always been one of Roxy's favorite poses. She looks like such a little lady don't you think?



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Another Vegan Haul

I was off yesterday and finally made it to Trader Joe's for some groceries. I also stopped at Natural Grocers for a few things. It feels good to have food in my apartment! I've been picking up a few things here and there at work and I don't like doing that. As I've mentioned the store I work at is very expensive for a lot of things. And as I've learned more about the company I really don't like supporting them so I'm happy to be back to normal.
The few things I got from Natural Grocers. Nag Champa, one of my favorite flavors from GT's, carrot turmeric ginger. It's a seasonal flavor and it's really nice. Green tea with Dandelion, and Hail Merry Meyer lemon tarts.
Perfect dessert!

tofu,spinach,spud crunchies, green onions,vegan shreds,gluten free pasta, green chilis, frozen strawberries
Jasmine rice, tomato paste, olive tapenade, coconut oil,butternut squash, avocado,coconut mil, cannelini beans, white onion, corn tortillas,lemons, bananas, lentils
I was super excited to see organic canned butternut squash next to the canned pumpkin. I would eat so much more butternut squash soup if they were easier to cut! Thanks Trader Joe's for making my soup dreams come true!
Here's a close up of the can. I have to ask them if it's seasonal like the pumpkin the next time I'm there. I might have to stock up!

Little buddy was hanging around during the day yesterday so I got a little better picture! I still can't get too close but we are making progress. He is the original kitty I was feeding, and now there are about four or five who come around. I haven't named him yet but something will come to me. He's a handsome little fellow. Please keep your fingers crossed I can get him inside before winter. Believe it or not we're supposed to have our first freeze tonight. It's only mid October!!!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Food to Fuel and Last

This was my breakfast/lunch yesterday. Leftover kitchari with green dragon sauce and steak cut fries with A-1. I try to force myself to eat a little more than I normally would since I don't get a meal break at work. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

You can always tell my late night meal pictures by the horrible kitchen lighting! I sliced some tofu and let it marinate in soyaki sauce and crushed red pepper while I was at work and threw it in the oven when I got home. While that was cooking I made some Jasmine rice and Asian slaw I had in the fridge. I doused it with sriracha and called it dinner. You can see a tiny bit of Roxy. She was helping me make dinner! Marinating tofu or tempeh while I'm at work is a really easy meal when you don't feel like doing a lot of active cooking. You can marinate it in the same dish you bake it in, so it's an easy clean up too.

Yesterday I moved my blogging table from the kitties room to the living room. I put it by my window. I thought it's a better place to take food pictures than the empty Chewy box I've been using. As you can see, Etta decided it was an amazing place to take a rest. Cats are so funny. Everyone was very upset that I moved furniture without consulting them!



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stopping Hanger

We have a checkout lane at work called Be Healthy, or Live Well or something like that and it has nuts and seeds and roasted chickpeas and such instead of candy bars and junk by the register. It's pretty comical and kind of doesn't go with the flow of the rest of the store. Anyway I noticed these dehydrated bananas and decided to try them for a snack. I do okay for the most part without a meal, but sometimes the last few hours are tough. I definitely get hangry. I've only had banana chips, not dehydrated bananas. They're chewy and really sweet so nothing like a banana chips! I don't eat dried fruit a lot but these were really tasty and they staved off my hunger until I got home.
For my late night after work meal I had some steak cut fries with Dr. Praegers kale burgers. I dipped my fries in A-1 and the burgers in yellow mustard. The kale burgers are definitely too greasy for my taste. It's strange to have a burger that is brimming with vegetables also be greasier than any vegan burger I've had. I'll be sticking to the Bombay burgers from now on.
Here's sweet Etta cuddling with me this morning. She likes to have about fifteen minutes of cuddle time with me in the morning. Then she hops off and does her own thing the rest of the day!!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What I Ate on a Day Off

I had yesterday off and since I'm still battling a cold and still trying to adjust to working nights I just stayed home and tried to take it easy. A great day for a What I Eat post! Too bad my food was pretty boring!
I had some oven fries seasoned with Creole seasoning for breakfast. I didn't have a huge appetite and I figured all the vitamin C in the potatoes would be good for me.
I had this Mystic Mango kombucha while I was puttering around cleaning my apartment. It's been awhile since I've had the mango. I forgot how delicious this flavor  is.
I took a detox bath with powdered ginger, Epsom salts and baking powder and made this carrot orange juice after my soak/sweat.

For dinner I had gochujang veggie soup with rice noodles and baked tofu. Noodle soup sounded really cozy and I knew the veggies and spice would be healing. This was so good and very very soothing.
I also had some Cherry Garcia for dessert. I find sometimes ice cream is important for self care!

So there is a day of boring but delicious food and drink on a day where I'm definitely not feeling like a human. I am feeling a little better today so I feel like the rest and nutrients really helped.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Vegan Stuff

I picked up a few groceries at work last night since I didn't make it to Trader Joe's over the weekend. I will be getting groceries this week, but I needed a few things to tide me over. I was so impressed with the Bombay burgers from Dr. Praeger that I decided to try the kale veggie burgers. Someone on Instagram mentioned they were amazing. I also decided to get the last container of the coconut seven layer bar. It's on sale and it was the last container so I had to get it! I haven't seen any of the new B&J flavors anywhere else which is so weird because as I've mentioned the store I work at is definitely not a vegan mecca.
When I got home from work last night I made some Asian slaw, Jasmine rice and baked a kale burger to go on top. Like the Bombay burger the patty is chock full of veggies you can see. This burger is also rather green so you know they aren't lying about the kale! I have to be honest these are not as amazing as the Bombay burgers. They are pretty greasy. I baked mine in the oven with no oil and it was sizzling in there like it was bathed in oil. If I'm going to eat that much oil I'd rather have a Beyond or Field Roast burger. It also was much mushier than the Bombay burger. It does taste good, very very vegetal. The Bombay burger remains my favorite of the Dr. Praeger line.
This is the little corner of my bedroom that everyone hides in when I vacuum. It really needs to be vacuumed but I never have the heart to scare them away from their safety zone. This is how they settled in. Afro is like Kanye's best friend and protector. So sweet!



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Dr. Praeger's Bombay Burgers

A few weeks ago I found a jar of Creole seasoning on a WooHoo sale at Smith's for $.49! Ever since then it's been all I want on my oven fries. It has onion and garlic powder, paprika and I forget what else. I would go check but I have a sleepy cat cuddling with me so I'm locked in position for the time being. Anyway it is amazing on potatoes. And it makes my apartment smell so good! It smells like Alexia seasoned waffle fries. I had this big bowl yesterday for breakfast. Get my carbs in before work!
I was super surprised to see the grocery I work at sells Dr. Praeger's burgers. As I've mentioned it's not vegan friendly at all, and it's definitely more of a typical junk food grocery. Like the produce section is in the back, kind of hidden. Or like an afterthought. I've only had Dr. Praeger's burgers once or twice and I didn't hate them, but they didn't WOW me either. I think I tried just the original burger. Last night I noticed they were on sale and decided to treat myself. I got the Bombay flavor and consider me WOWED! It reminded me a little of the Vegetable Masala burgers from Trader Joe's. I used to love those so much, but like everything good in life they have gluten in them! Anyway these Bombay burgers have corn, peas and carrots and really great curry flavor. They also held their shape and had a better texture than I remember the other flavor I tried. I baked mine in the oven but I bet they'd be great cooked in a pan with a bit of coconut oil. I had these with some salt and pepper crinkle cut fries and was a happy gal. Between the horrible kitchen lighting, and no buns this meal looks so sad but trust me it was delicious! I give the Bombay burgers a strong ten out of ten!
                                                             
Delicious!!



Friday, October 6, 2017

Smoky Spicy Cauliflower Cheese Sauce

Well I had yesterday off and although I'm still not feeling one hundred percent human, I mustered up a little energy to cook something! I made this delicious smoky, spicy cauliflower cheese sauce! I made cauliflower Alfredo awhile ago and loved it, but I also used a small amount so I wanted to experiment with using more cauliflower. For those who don't know cauliflower has always been on my do not eat list. I gag when I taste it raw, roasted, steamed, etc. But there are now two ways I can eat this vegetable, cauliflower wings or cauliflower cheese sauce. Progress!
For this sauce I used a whole head of cauliflower! I thought for sure I was going to gag but instead I wanted to eat the sauce like soup! I ended up adding some liquid smoke at the end and it tasted a lot like Heidi Ho smoky chia cheese. I wrote down what I did and I'm so glad because this recipe will be on repeat for sure!
                                                      
                                              Smoky Spicy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
  • 1 head or Four Cups chopped cauliflower
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 3/4 Cup soaked slivered almonds
  • 6 T. Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2- 3/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4-5 drops liquid smoke
  • 11/2 cups water
  • pinch of crushed red pepper

Boil the cauliflower and the garlic cloves for about fifteen to twenty minutes until soft. Reserve one and a half cups of the cooking liquid and drain the rest of the water. Add the cauliflower and garlic along with the reserved cooing liquid to your blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy. Try not to eat it all with a spoon. I won't judge if you can't resist!
I tossed my sauce with some quinoa elbow pasta and also stirred in some baby spinach and let it wilt right in the bowl. It was so incredibly delicious! No one would ever guess in a million years that this is made with cauliflower.
If you don't like smoy flavors leave out the liquid smoke. I wasn't planning on using the liquid smoke, and it tasted delicious without. I just was in an experimental mood and decided to try making a smoky cheese. Either way it's delicious!!!


Thursday, October 5, 2017

We've Come a Long Way!

                                     
I'm always interested in non vegan's opinions of vegan food because vegans already love vegan food and are, well vegan. I really liked how genuinely impressed they all were with all the food, even a kale Caesar salad which can be a hard sell to some people. I also liked the reaction to using applesauce instead of eggs in the waffles. Like why don't we just do that? Isn't that what we all want to know? Anyway it's a fun, short little video that gave me some hope and cheer.
All summer I tried to find the new Ben & Jerry's flavors and had no luck. Well, the other night I was ringing someone up and I noticed that they were buying the seven layer coconut fudge flavor, so I checked our ice cream section and sure enough we have that flavor and the Cherry Garcia. It's so weird and random because as I mentioned the store I work at is very vegan unfriendly. It's definitely more of a junk food store. I've been feeling depressed, and fighting a cold so I decided to treat myself. It was actually on sale for $3.99 so I totally scored. I tried some last night when I got home and all I can say is YES!!! It's creamy and rich with so many fudge chunks, as well as cherries. And it has a great cherry flavor. Really amazing.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Bit of a Tangent

Not only is working at night killing me physically, but look what it's doing to my food pictures!! With no natural light and only my crappy kitchen light it's pretty dang brutal. This was already a super beige/brown meal, and my kitchen lighting makes it even drearier!! But it tasted great and filled me up after work and that's what counts right? This was just handsome cut fries from Trader Joe's which are the BEST if you haven't tried them, some tofu baked with Creole seasoning, and two of the Sol veggie breakfast patties. All dipped in yellow mustard. Fries are always paired with etchup, but they taste great with mustard too!
I was chatting with a coworker and somehow being a vegan came up, and she mentioned that she's always wanted to go vegan, but she thinks it would be super complicated. I of course told her it is SUPER easy and hands down the best decision I've ever made. That's why I continue to show my food and pictures no matter how boring or horribly lit because I want to show that it is simple, it doesn't have to be expensive and it certainly isn't boring. I think sometimes if you scroll Instagram and see some of the absolutely BEAUTIFUL pictures it can definitely seem intimidating and expensive. I wish I still had all my cookbooks because I would love to loan her the first vegan cookbook that I owned as a new vegan. It helped A LOT. I think at some point if I ever adjust to my schedule and feel like a human being again, I'm going to make a big batch of something, and take some  to work and leave on the break room table for everyone to try.
I've noticed lately that when people ask me questions about veganism it's more about the expense than protein. And I see why because plant meats and cheeses are freaking expensive which is why I so rarely eat them. So when non vegans look to swap out proteins they probably look at plant meats first. It's amazing how people seem to forget that beans exist, and are so inexpensive. Beans aren't just for chili kids!
I know a lot of vegans argue that meat is expensive too, but now that I work at a grocery and I'm a cashier, I see prices of things I never look at and meat can be expensive, but also very cheap. There are tons of buy one get one sales, and also it gets marked way down when it's close to the sell by time. I mean, I guess what I'm saying is what everyone says which is crap food is cheap.
Sorry for the little rant, I guess I'm more passionate than I  realized! If anyone has any suggestions for what I should make to take to work I'd love to hear them. I'm not sure if I should go sweet or savory. I haven't baked in a million years so sweet could be a good or bad thing. Anyway, here's to spreading positive realistic and simple vegan awareness!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Progress

Has anyone tried the new So Delicious vegan shreds? I've seen a few pictures on Instagram of people using it, and it looks pretty melt-y and people seem to like it. I also saw the new daiya shreds a couple of weeks ago. New and improved taste and melt and all of that.
It seems like every week there is a new plant cheese and it makes me so happy. It shows me that even though we have such a long way to go, progress is being made. It's obviously not just vegans buying these cheeses. Progress is always a good thing.
I was a little under the weather yesterday, so even though I had the day off I didn't have the desire to do a lot of cooking. I made a lot of carrot orange juice, took a ginger detox bath and had a simple dinner of marinated tofu and Jasmine rice. I marinated to tofu in a mixture of soyaki sauce, Gyoza dipping sauce and sriracha. I also added sriracha to the top of the dish. I'm feeling a little better today, still not back to feeling one hundred percent better, but at least I feel like a human being.
So far fall here in SLC has been weirdly cold. I've had to turn my heat on several times already. Last winter I noticed that Joan likes to lay on the vents and get all the heat. But now Kanye has decided to follow suit.