Vegan Sunshine Linguine

SF Finished in PotThe last few days here in Pennsylvania have been cold, damp, rainy, and cloudy. It’s really putting a damper on my gardening plans and my ability to take the baby to the park. And after being stuck in the house for a few days I was starting to feel a little BLAH. So, I decided to make a fresh and colorful dinner that I hoped would cheer us all up. Well, it did!

This Vegan Sunshine Linguine recipe is not only delicious, but healthy and although it has a very “light” feeling, it’s quite filling! If you aren’t vegan/vegetarian, this would pair well with sautéed chicken or shrimp!

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Here’s what you’ll need to get started…

  • 3/4 lb. Linguine
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (plus a few extra tsp)
  • 2 Yellow Bell Peppers, sliced into strips
  • 2 Orange Bell Peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 Cup Black Olives, sliced
  • 1 Red Onion, sliced into strips
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 Cups Yellow bite-sized Tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Dried Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

And here is how you prepare this delicious dinner… Continue reading

Vegan Spinach & White Bean Soup

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With the recent passing of pop icon Prince, I decided to pay homage to his legacy by preparing a vegan meal. For those of you who didn’t know, Prince was not only a musical genius, but a vegan. I didn’t know him personally, but I like to think that his status as a vegan is a good indication that he was also a kindhearted person who loved animals. Just guessing. Anyway, I immediately thought of this soup because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Orzo pasta, and I had some leftover Spinach from when I made my Better than Panera Quinoa Broth Bowl. This is an easy vegan dinner that can be prepared easily and quickly for a weeknight dinner, but has a flavor profile that can rival dishes at high-end restaurants. Plus, the ingredients are those that I usually have on hand for last-minute meal planning!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced (not pictured)
  • 2 Small Sweet Onions, Diced
  • 1 Can Cannelini Beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Pound Orzo Pasta
  • 3 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 2-3 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 2-3 tsp. Bay Leaves
  • 2-3 tsp. Dried Thyme

And here’s how you make this delicious meal…

Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add onions and sauté’ until they become somewhat Continue reading

DIY Baby Food…Healthy and Frugal!

I’ve known since I was pregnant with my little girl that I wanted to make her food myself. The idea that I prefer fresh and homemade for myself but would feed my baby only store-bought, processed foods didn’t make sense to me. And, since my dear husband had already gifted me a super-awesome Ninja Blender I knew I could do it!

Baby Food Storage Ad.pngAs a side note, making your own baby food really isn’t a very difficult process, but it could be if you don’t have a good quality blender. I am as frugal as they come, but there are times in life when we just have to spend a little more money to have a good quality product. Blenders are one of those products that are worth spending a little more on. I LOVE my Ninja Blender! From pureeing baby food, to smoothie making, to food processing it does it all and does it well! I have a friend who swears by her Brevel, and I’m sure it’s great as well, but I’ll stick with what I know for now.

Before you get started on your baby food project, do your research on foods that are safe for your baby at his/her current age and get an idea of what consistency your food should be. My daughter is 7 months old and still mostly enjoys purees, but at times can tolerate some lumpiness so I make her food accordingly.

My guess is that if you’re reading this, you already have a list of reasons why you want to make your own baby food. Maybe you’re concerned about additives or processing, maybe you want all organic ingredients, or maybe you want to save a little money. Well, if you’re on the fence, let me just push you onto the side of savings. I’ve broken down today’s cost for you in this cute little chart…

Baby Food Cost Comparison

Here I’m going to show you how to make Butternut Squash puree, Apple puree, Apple Baby Bullet Ad.pngBanana puree, and Apple Blueberry puree. I tend to make a nice big batch of Continue reading

Better Than Panera…Hearty Quinoa Broth Bowls

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I am a Panera Bread junkie! I love their selection and can always justify getting myself a danish for dessert! That alone makes it well worth the trip to the restaurant. Sometime recently they’ve added an awesome Quinoa Broth Bowl to their menu and I can’t get enough! But, at around $8.00 a pop, I certainly can’t go there everyday. Plus, I’m always a little unsure if things like that are truly vegetarian, or if they have a chicken or beef base. They tell me it doesn’t, but you never know.

Quinoa ad.png     Lentil ad     Olive oil ad     Ramekin ad

Anyway, shortly after trying the dish for the first time I began searching online for a good copycat recipe. I found a few but I am a “little of this, little of that” kind of cook and I’ve created a new and improved version of the bowl that is a little more hearty and makes a great dinner! It’s a quick and easy vegan dish (unless you add the egg, in which case it’s vegetarian) that my husband the meat-eater loves (check out my post on vegetarian cooking for the meat eater here)!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh Baby Spinach (enough for about 2 cups)
  • Kale (enough for about 2 cups chopped)
  • Lentils (1 1/2 cups dried…becomes about 3 cups cooked)
  • Quinoa (3/4 cup uncooked)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (1/4-1/2 cup chopped)
  • Olive oil (2-3 Tbsp.)
  • Vegetable Broth (2 cartons)
  • Onion (1 chopped)
  • Garlic (1-2 cloves minced)
  • Bay leaves, dried (2 Tbsp.)
  • Hard-boiled eggs (optional, 1-2 per person)
  • French Baguette

 

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Now that you’ve got your ingredients together, it’s time to get started! Make sure that you’ve pre-cooked your lentils and this will go very quickly!

If you’re adding hard-boiled eggs to your dish, you’ll want to get those started before you jump into making your main dish.

Start by heating your olive oil in a large saucepan and dumping in your onions. You’ll want Continue reading

A Vegetarian and a Carnivore

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About 8 or 9 years ago when I decided to become a vegetarian, I never imagined that I would marry a man who considers a large enough piece of barely cooked beef a meal. But, the heart wants what the heart wants and apparently I wanted the man who eats enough meat for us both! And although we are happily married and very much in love, mealtimes can be a bit of a challenge. Typically, I do most of the cooking which does give me confidence that I’m not accidentally ingesting something that I don’t want to, but on the other hand I am always stuck between trying to feed my husband a healthy, meatless meal that he’ll enjoy or trying to cook meat without tasting it (I am a cook-to-taste kind of gal). For years I would make the typical 3 course meal consisting of a meat, a starch and a veggie for each meal. A meat substitute from Boca, Morningstar or Quorn would be my meat and my husband would have some poor animal’s backside roasted or fried. But when we decided to try to conceive our daughter I had to give up soy (I’ll write a post about that later) and so I was down to a starch and a veggie each night which frankly got really boring. Pair that with my desire to eat healthier as a family and my love of cooking was re-born!

Did I mention that I love my husband? Even though he would prefer that I fry his every meal in bacon fat, he will try anything I set before him. Quinoa. Lentils. Sprouts. Okay, not sprouts. He will NOT eat sprouts. But, he’ll eat just about anything and only complains on rare occasions when I haven’t fed him any meat for days on end. That fact is the one and only reason why our vegetarian/carnivore relationship works. Otherwise we would probably grow apart, me with a delicious veggie meal in hand, and he with his high cholesterol.

I will post specific recipes, tips and tricks later but I wanted to start with an informational post on how to keep your carnivore happy without frying up a pan of Haggis.

  1. Forget the meat. Seriously. Forget it. You don’t always need to add meat on top or create the allusion of meat with some savory mushroom recipe. Just focus on trying to make the vegetarian or vegan meal that you are preparing really delicious.
  2. Okay, you can’t always forget the meat. Meaties don’t like that. So, when your hubby insists, make some meat. But if possible, go healthy. I make a delicious Quinoa bowl and I occasionally make baked chicken strips for on top of the hub’s bowl. This allows me to be meat-free since the entire pot is made that way, and him to just toss on the meat that he wants.
  3. Substitutes. If you’re not off soy for any reason, Morningstar makes delicious meat substitutes like ribs, chicken patties, corndogs, veggie dogs, and more. If you are soy-free, try Quorn “chicken.” It’s the best! Bubba Burger has even gotten into the action with a veggie burger! But beware. They are processed foods and not likely to be as healthy as you might think. When you can, make your own! I’ll post our homemade black bean burger recipe when I get a chance!
  4. There are some foods that make your meal feel “meaty” without the meats. Everyone thinks of mushrooms, and they actually do work quite well. My husband often says “this would be GREAT with mushrooms” about everything. When mushrooms won’t do, try lentils or beans. I like lentils in particular for their ability to be flavored to just about anything. Another thing that I have found to make a difference is parmesan cheese. It has a savory flavor that really replaces that savory flavor of meat that the hubs desires. Plus, I kind of like it (although I go vegan when I can).
  5. Take orders. No, I don’t mean for you to let someone order you around. I just mean, listen to what the hubs likes and ask him if he would like you to make it again. My husband will often make requests for repeats of previous vegetarian meals, and when he does I oblige. Allowing him to be involved in the process makes it more likely that he’ll continue to be tolerant even when things don’t turn out.
  6. Lastly, just offer meat at another meal. If I have an entire week of meat-free dinners planned, I make sure that the hubs has some meat in his lunch. He’s less likely to notice that it’s missing from dinner if he had his fix earlier in the day.
I hope this is helpful for those of you out there who are in my situation. I know it can be a challenge, but I try to remember why I love my husband and that the decision I have made to abstain from eating meat products is a personal one that I can only make for myself.