Friday, May 7, 2021

Sequestration Meal #294


Sometimes, I am cooking. It helps to be on vacation! As I was trying to use things up in anticipation of my first in-person grocery store visit in over a year, I had no green vegetable for this, but there were still veggies and I think it was still nutritious (although obviously consult with your own doctor about your own health needs, as I am not a medical doctor). This was mashed potatoes with the lentil Salisbury steak from Rabbit & Wolves. I really liked this. It did not pretend to be beef and still tasted like lentils, although deliciously seasoned lentils firmed up with wheat gluten. The mushroom gravy was wonderful, too. I would definitely make this again! Maybe with something green besides that pitiful sprinkling of dried parsley.

There was enough green outside to make up for it. It's actually pretty amazing just how many lush walking trails there are near me. I just never paid that much attention because it seems weird to drive to go for a walk, but it's worth it sometimes, especially when your vacation is just at home.

I can't capture smells in a photograph, but trust me, this place smelled as good as it looked (and fortunately, in spite of all my health woes, I'm not allergic to flowers).

Buttercups are so underrated, I think.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

What I Ate in a Day #4

It's been quite a while since I did one of these! This was Day 1 of a vacation, if it counts as a vacation when you don't really go anywhere. I'm not calling this a staycation, though, because I am making a point of being outside. In any case, I took more than just a day or so off work, to recuperate, and find some joy.

Breakfast was a chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie. Because I was on vacation, I added some almond whipped cream and some mini dark chocolate chips.

I used this to fuel a restorative walk through an area near my home that it is hard to believe exists; I live near a major highway and can always hear the sounds of cars, but just a short walk down the road and over a bridge and the world changes. I can't walk very far, which means I tend to walk slowly and drink it all in. It's rained a lot recently so the creek was high.

Spring is so green here. It's lovely. Meanwhile, can someone tell me what kind of tree this is?

There are lots of flowering trees this time of year and they're very flashy, so I don't know how much attention conifers get. But this one was so pretty.

Flowers all over, though. There was a vine with these tiny blooms in clusters I found really captivating. I don't know what it is, either; please tell me if you know.

After my walk, I made lunch.

Dumpling soup! I had some fresh dumplings in my last grocery delivery, so this was pretty easy and quick. Aside from these veggie tofu dumplings, I put in ginger, garlic, scallions, carrots, mushrooms, and spinach. The broth was pretty basic--chicken-style veggie bouillon and a bit of soy sauce--but it worked well. Some black sesame seeds for a garnish finished it off.

This was light, and I was still hungry. A friend had sent me some fancy vegan non-dairy milk chocolates, so I had some of those for dessert.

In another life, I want to make fancy chocolates for people. I think that might be fun. These consisted of "Rocky Road" (marshmallow and pecans), coconut caramel, and a salted peanut cluster. Delicious.

(Not pictured, I also took a multivitamin and a DHA supplement, which I do every day.)

For dinner, I stuck with an Asian theme.

I had some asparagus that needed cooking, so I made an Asian-style asparagus and mushrooms dish loosely based on something I found on the Food Network website. I had that with some rice topped with shiso furikake and some Gardein orange morsels. I topped the morsels with scallions and sesame seeds. This was really good.

Being on vacation meant I could clear enough space in my head for this level of cooking, though this is still reliant on convenience food, of course. And these are still not very large portions, and I should probably be eating a bit more. But I'm cooking! It counts! Plus I have leftovers for a few days--a major win.

I'm grateful for a job with paid vacation time. I didn't always have that luxury and it's so nice to just set it all aside for a bit and hide from my troubles. Here's hoping I'll find some recovery in it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Sequestration Meal #293


This wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but it got the job done. I was wanting something different but still not feeling like I wanted to really cook, so I made this rice-and-beans bowl. It consists of cilantro-lime rice (super easy: I cooked my rice in a rice cooker, then added lime zest, lime juice, salt, pepper, and dried cilantro), some canned chili beans, and makeshift guacamole (avocado, salt, pepper, lime juice).

It felt like this was missing something, but when I tried putting things in the leftovers I never hit on what, exactly, it was missing. If I'd had canned picante sauce, though, that would probably have done it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Interlude: Easy Comfort Food

I'm still not fully in the swing of things, so here are a couple of meals I've eaten recently that are just easy things to fuel me through the day.

Pan-fried veggie dumplings with a dipping sauce: It's easy and easily forgotten, but is pretty quick and always tasty.

Spaghetti with Gardein meatballs and garlic toast is another standby, and a pretty simple thing I can always count on to be delicious. I added some Violife Parmesan as a garnish.

This represents more than the bare minimum effort, but it is still really easy (and the reward for the extra effort is totally worth it): A fried peanut butter and jelly (actually strawberry preserves, but who's nitpicking?) and banana sandwich.

Hang in there, everyone! (I'm telling myself as much as I'm telling you!)

Monday, May 3, 2021

A Review of New Things I've Tried #26 (Vegan Proteins Edition)

 It's a world of proteins, some faux meats, some not. Here is my latest round up, which includes nut butter, burgers, and pasta sauce--the trifecta of the refusing-to-cook, emotionally distraught among us all.

1. Smucker's Natural Chunky Peanut Butter

This came by mistake. I actually ordered creamy/smooth peanut butter, but I kept it in part because this was in someone else's order that I piggybacked on and I didn't know if it was their mistake or the store's. I am usually a no-stir peanut butter kind of person, but for some reason lately I'd been having longings for the more rustic sort of spread--after all, I know I prefer the runny almond butter to the no-stir sort! I've been pretty loyal to Skippy Natural for a long time, but it's not been that easy for me to get sometimes, so I branched out. I don't think "chunky" is so nice a descriptor as "crunchy" would be, but nobody asked me. This is good peanut butter, but it is more than just chunky--the smooth part has little bits in it, too. I don't know if the creamy/smooth version of this does, but since I ordered that in the next go-around, I'll tell you when I'm ready to open that jar. (I go through a lot of peanut butter around here, so that's no big deal.)

2. Pure Farmland Plant Based Burger Patties with Dairy Free Cheddar

I had already had the "simply seasoned" version of these patties, so I knew they'd be meaty (which they were). They were not cheesy in any way at all. I liked them just fine as burgers, but if you want a cheeseburger, you'll need to just add cheese.

3. Prego + Plant Protein Roasted Garlic & Herb

This is one of the more unusual items I've found in my sequestered life: pasta sauce with pea protein in it. It's not that much protein--4 grams per serving--but it's a tiny bit more protein than you'd normally get in a basic tomato sauce. Since I was exploring ways to get more protein, it was worth a shot. It tastes about like regular pasta sauce would. I think I prefer adding some TVP or something to my pasta sauce, but I'm glad I tried this out.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

10 Vegan Breakfast Ideas (Compilation #22)

Sometimes, I'm surprised by what I haven't included in this series! There are some classic things here alongside the more inventive things. I had all these meals before I went into the sad place, but some of the photos had to wait a long time for editing and the write up. So here we are, for my absolute favorite thing to post here these days: breakfast, in ten new ways.

1. Banana Nut Muffins

I've found the Minimalist Baker super reliable in her recipes--I've yet to have a fail from her blog. I doubled her recipe for these banana nut muffins and they did not disappoint! They rose beautifully and I loved having the walnuts sprinkled on top instead of hidden away in the batter. I also enjoy how she uses ramekins as muffin cups--somehow they're so elegant that way. I often put margarine on my muffins, but true to the original recipe's promise, these didn't need anything. A muffin plus a glass of soy milk was a perfect breakfast for several days in a row. I never got tired of them.

2. Orange Creamsicle Chia Pudding (Gluten Free)

Chia pudding always looks a bit dingy, especially because I always blend mine up, even though I use "white" chia seeds rather than black. (It requires less prep work and also avoids textures I don't deal with easily.) But don't let that dissuade you from trying them out (I did, for far too long). This one is from the recipe at Create Mindfully. I topped my little pudding cup with mandarin segments, but you could do sliced oranges if you have them. Coconut whipped topping would be great here, too. I will eat anything Creamsicle-flavored, so this was a no-brainer for me. It was, however, on the lighter side, so I had it with idea #3.

3. Strawberry Avocado English Muffins

Most avocado toasts are savory, but they don't have to be. Avocado is a fruit, after all. So I decided to explore that with this avocado-strawberry combination. It is probably not my go-to--for that, I'd want tomatoes with my avocado--but it was tasty and different.

4. Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowls with Pears (Gluten Free)

I saw this recipe at Forks over Knives a while ago and finally got around to making it. There are two ways you can eat it: Warm, like this, with milk poured over and the pears on top, or you can stir in the milk and chill it for later and then top it with the pears. I found that with it warm the pears seem like they don't really belong, but it was fine to eat them on their own and then eat the porridge. The flavor is like dark chocolate, but it's not very sweet. I topped mine with a bit of maple syrup in the end, and it worked out really well. If I make this again, I'd poach the pears--I think that would be the chef's kiss here.

5. Carrot Cake Banana Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (Gluten Free)

If you have been reading along during this pandemic you know that I've been on a seemingly endless quest to use up bananas. I have either all the bananas, or no bananas. In the situation that led me to make this wonderful recipe from Rachl Mansfield's blog, I had ordered 1 bunch of bananas and the store delivered a bunch, all right--eleven bananas! So after I'd eaten my daily banana until they got too spotty to want to eat them that way, I mashed up three of them to make this cake/bread. This is really more or less a baked oatmeal, since it uses a combination of oat flour and oats for the grains, and since it's packed with all sorts of goodness--bananas, carrots, walnuts, oatmeal, flax seeds--I think it's absolutely legitimate to have it for breakfast. Cut a slice to have with a glass of soy milk and a cup of herbal tea and you'll be raring to start your day (or at least I was). It's a dense but delicious loaf. Don't leave off the frosting, though! That's what truly takes it to the next glorious level.

6. Vanilla Mandarin Smoothie (Gluten Free)

I find it hard to photograph smoothies, so maybe you have to take my word for it: This is delicious! My recipe also involves some soy yogurt so this is a more substantial breakfast than if it were just fruit. I'd still recommend pairing it with some toast, maybe spread with some nut butter, but I'd also be perfectly content with this on a day my appetite is gone without feeling I needed to push myself to eat more.

7. Cantaloupe Breakfast Bowl (Gluten Free)

Cantaloupe doesn't get that much love these days. My mother often served us cantaloupe for breakfast when I was growing up--just cantaloupe and salt with a glass of milk and maybe some toast--and I generally prefer to salt my melons. But I'd seen so many pretty cantaloupe breakfast bowls I thought I'd try one! It's pretty straightforward: Cut a cantaloupe in half, scoop out the seeds, and fill the hollow with soy yogurt and some toppings. The toppings I used were hemp seeds, chia seeds, and chopped strawberries. I found that I ended up eating the yogurt part first and then having my salted melon as usual, but this was still fun and if you were wanting to impress someone at breakfast without much effort this would be a good way to do it!

8. Chocolate Banana Pancakes with Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Bananas! So many bananas! And here's yet another way they became breakfast. The recipe (for both pancakes and syrup) is from Elephantastic Vegan and is not a sugar bomb or anything; in fact, if you're cutting down on refined sugars, this could work well for you because it doesn't have anything but bananas and maple syrup for sweetness. I had to thin my chocolate syrup with some soy milk and added a bit more soy milk to the batter because mine ended up really thick but otherwise made the recipe as written. This is a seemingly decadent breakfast that's actually pretty reasonable.  As with most sweet things, I had it with a glass of soy milk for an extra boost of protein.

9. Mung Bean-Aquafaba Quiche Cups (Gluten Free)

On my continuing quest to use my aquafaba rather than pouring its goodness down the drain, I found this recipe at Damn Tasty Vegan. I already knew that mung beans, soaked and blended up with liquid and seasonings, are an excellent egg substitute. So I made this recipe, although it was written in a somewhat confusing way--it made it seem, at first, as if you were blending up the vegan cheese with the beans, but I don't think that was the intent. Also, I used twice as much cheese as called for, with half in the middle and half on top. The veggies stayed on the bottom so next time I might try pouring a bit of "egg" mix, adding veggies and cheese, and then topping it with more "egg," but it didn't really matter because it was delicious anyway. A slice of toast with margarine rounded out my meal, but if you're avoiding gluten do be aware that you'll need gluten-free bread to keep the whole breakfast gluten free (my bread was not gluten free). This was a great way to use up some aquafaba.

10. Strawberry Cheesecake Oatmeal (Gluten Free)

This recipe from A Duck's Oven was pretty easy for me to veganize. My cream cheese drizzle wasn't as thick or pretty as the original when I used Daiya cream cheese and almond milk, but it still tasted great. I recommend making the oatmeal itself a bit more exciting than cooking in just water--use non-dairy milk and oatmeal will taste a lot better. Although my stash of Bee Free is almost gone, that's what I used for honey here, though I hope to have some other options to report on for you soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Sequestration Meal #292


I haven't had much of an appetite recently, and I've struggled to motivate myself to eat at times. But we've all got to keep going, so here's one of my better efforts of the past few weeks: The last of my Gardein fishless filets and some citrus asparagus couscous (roughly adapted and veganized from this omnivore recipe). I didn't have fresh herbs, and I think that would make a big difference here, but it was still tasty. I think I would have wanted to have cooked the asparagus more so next time I might simmer the asparagus lengths in the broth for a minute or so before adding the couscous, but if you like your asparagus crunchy, then just let them steam for the five minutes off heat like the recipe directs.

I chose this because it was quick and easy, though even quick and easy things seem daunting at times, don't they? You'll generate dishes to wash, for example. Not enough food bloggers account for the aftermath of easy recipes. That may be the reason why sometimes even a really quick meal seems too hard. I'm glad I made this, though. One foot in front of the other until strength returns and we can run again, right?