Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Friday, September 30, 2011

Vegan McGriddle...Yes it can be done.

I've mentioned before that Matt hates sweet breakfast food, so this past week I decided to throw the poor kid a bone.   I set out on a quest to find a savory breakfast food, hopefully in sandwich form, because I know that's what he likes.

In earlier days, Matt would eat a McMuffin sandwich from a chain that will not be mentioned (despite the Mc in everything) almost everyday.  He lived for those dry nasty things.  I on the other hand, would get a McGriddle because it would give me a little sweetness to go with my savory.

But we needed to compomise.

I saw a recipe in Happy Herbivore for Breakfast sandwiches and although I was HIGHLY suspect of the vegan egg part, I thought I'd give it a try.

And you know what, by golly these were delicious!  

(Man do I suck at taking pictures)

The egg "omelet" part, although I'm pretty sure I do not want to eat it on it's own, held up and had a similar consistency to that egg jello that they put in the McMuffins.

But the real star of the show was the "sausage."   This stuff was FAB.  We put it on everything last bars (ok not serious on the last one, but I did eat a piece of sausage while simultaneously eating a granola's been a rough week, ok?).   The Liquid Smoke definitely hinted at the sausage flavor I remember, but the use of *gasp* MAPLE made all the difference!!!

I know, right?  I'm the queen of hating maple.

Except in this instance (and when making desserts/sweet breakfasts).

It just really worked out well.

Slap a sausage patty and some of that omelet together inside an english muffing (we left out the vegan cheese...didn't want to ruin a good thing), and that's quite a breakfast.  Matt has requested that these become a regular feature in his breakfast life from here on out.

We'll see...

Here's the recipe for the "Nomelet" from Happy Herbivore:


1 12.3-oz. package Mori Nu extra firm silken tofu (although other silken tofu works too, I would imagine)
1/2 tsp. granulated onion powder
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic powder
3/4 tsp. turmeric
2 tbsp. chickpea flour (I used brown rice flour)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. non-dairy milk
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease a shallow 9-inch pie dish and set aside (I used a large casserole dish since I was baking the whole thing at once).
-Blend all ingredients except salt and pepper together until smooth and creamy.
-Add salt and pepper to taste and then reblend.
-Divide batter in half, pouring one half into the pie dish and setting the rest aside for a later use (I put all of it into the casserole dish).
-Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
-Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
-Slice up the omelet into equal squares (I got about 8 total) and set aside for the sandwiches.

I can't find an online recipe for the sausage but from memory it was a tube of Gimme Lean breakfast sausage that I mashed up with 1 cup of cooked quinoa and then added 2 tablspoons of maple syrup and I think 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke.  I formed them into patties and then sauteed them sans oil on a skillet until the browned.  These were DELICIOUS!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Not All Fun and Games, Folks...

I've been working on a grant proposal (news flash, I actually do have a day job), and throughout this whole lengthy ordeal, I have CONSTANTLY been working to stay on message and reflect back upon the mission and goals of the institution I work for.   I have spent probably 30 hours working on this grant and hearing myself and others say words like "outcome," "message," "theme," or "I'm going to pee my pants if we don't take a break."

Not funny?  I'm not even sure I know what funny is anymore...

Anyways, all of this talk of message and theme has creeped into other areas of my life as well.   For example:
-I get frustrated when Snooki does not stay on message with her character on Jersey Shore
-I wonder what Matt's "goals" are when he leaves his dirty peanut butter spoons in the sink
-And I realize I've strayed from my message on this here blog.

Well, not really.

I'm still blogging about vegan cooking and what not, but as of late, I may or may not be editing out some of the disasters because I have been having more successes as of late (I'm giving myself a big ol' pat on the back over here).  But I have a sneaking suspicion that you fine readers only stop by to see me suffer (we all do it...I only read parenting blogs to remind myself why I'm not ready to have children), so I needn't neglect you of the pleasure anymore.

So here's a round up of a few failures:

This was supposed to be a wrap with veggies and rice.   It turned into a depressing salad with no flavor that made a mess of my office.

Here's Matt making the most bland/soggiest stir fry of our lives.   He wanted me to point out that he was a childhood model (including a childhood HAND model).   Unfortunately, if you look closely on his middle finger, you can see that his modeling career has been cut short (get it?) due to an accident when he was a Carnie is Australia (not even joking..I know...).

Not really sure what happened here.  Pretty sure we each almost chipped a tooth on this Mexican inspired casserole...

These were supposed to be "burgers."  Need I say more?  Yes, well, here is the finished product:

By the time I ate these for lunch, it was definitely just rice on bread.   What a disaster.

And finally, the ultimate disaster:

An attempt at Shells and Cheese that went HORRIBLY wrong.  It tasted like maple syrup and there wasn't even a DROP in there.  I actually got a little ill after eating this and think I may be swearing off nutritional yeast for awhile (BLASPHEMY, I KNOW!).

All of the above has encouraged this:

...only in larger glasses.

I kid, I kid.  Engine 2 says NO alcohol.  I cheat on the weekends though.  Teehee.

Anyways, I'm not going to post the recipes of these disasters because a) no one wants to recreate them; b) I don't want to make anyone look bad; and c) it's very likely I royally screwed something up and the recipe author should not be held accountable for that!

So, there you have it kids.   Things aren't all casseroles and pies in my kitchen.  In fact, what really happens is I make something disgusting, Matt and I force ourselves to eat it, then decide to store it like we do ALL leftovers and then it sits in the refrigerator.  Fermenting.  Waiting to attack when an unsuspecting victim thinks to check inside the tupperware.  And then BAM.  I'm dry heaving as I scrape it into the trash.

Thus is life.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Quest for the Perfect On-the-Go Breakfast

As of late, I've been hitting the gym in the morning.

Crazy.  I know.

But hear me out.

I've realized that if I get into a routine where I just get up and zombie myself through my morning routine and don't actually wake up until I'm already exercising, I can coast through the first half of my spin class without even knowing where I am.  It seriously works!  And then my work out is DONE for the day and I was only aware of HALF of it!

I encourage you all to try zombie gym time.

Anyways, this complicates my life in many ways.

For example:

-I have to lay out clothes to workout in the evening before.  This cuts into my reality television time.
-I have to lay out clothes for work the evening before.  This ALSO cuts into my reality television time.
-I have to make my lunch the evening before (see above...)
-I have to make my breakfast the evening before (I think you get the picture by now)

There have also been a few instances where I get to the gym and realize I forgot hairspray...or have to deal with creepy lady who is putting her wart cream on her foot on the counter where I just had my lipstick sitting...

But ALL IN ALL, this has been going quite well for me.

It's forced me to be more organized and also forced me into a new routine which has me getting to work earlier and therefore leaving work earlier.  Which I like.

But I did need to figure out what to do for breakfasts.  

You can't really take cereal with you (I'm sure you can, I just don't really want to), and you can't really keep a smoothie cold for 3 hours in a car, so I knew it needed to be a potable b-fast.

Enter: baked goods.

I love all things baked for breakfast.  Scones, muffins, breads, all of it.  The more sweetness, the better.  Matt unfortunately, does not like sweet things for breakfast.  

I still make muffins and scones and breads.

He'll just have to suffer.

I came across these Chocolate Zucchini Muffins in Happy Herbivore and am happy to report that even though these are basically fat free and contain a vegetable, they are still delicious and filling.  I cut back on the sugar in the hopes that Matt would appreciate the effort.

He still complained.

Here's the recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Muffins from Happy Herbivore:


  • cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 whole banana, mashed
  • ½ cup raw sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup raw sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin pan and set aside. If using paper liners, lightly spray inside of liners with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. In another bowl, cream mashed banana with applesauce and sugar (use extra 1/2 cup for a very sweet, dessert-like muffin). Add in soymilk, vanilla, zucchini and any other optional add-ins you might like such as vegan chocolate chips or chopped raw walnuts. Stir until evenly combined. Add flour mix to wet mix in 3-4 batches and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan and bake 18-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Super Easy Chalupas

Isn't it funny that prior to becoming a vegan and beyond that, prior to this whole low-fat vegan stuff, I never seemed to eat anything exciting?  Like, a meal with rice seemed "out there" or "ethnic" even if I was eating chicken and broccoli.

Since this whole thing began however, a night where I am not using a grain or spice that I cannot pronounce is rare.   My kitchen has seen cuisines from Thailand, Ethiopia, Greece, Lebanon, the list goes on and on.

And people claim vegans are deprived...

Well, this is not that exciting of a post.  In fact, Mexican may be our default cuisine these days.   When in doubt, put it on a tortilla and add salsa.  We'll both be content.

So we were in a bit of a rush and needed a simple meal that didn't feel like diet food.   Unfortunately, Mexican food, when void of things like sour cream and cheese, seems like diet food.   We were nervous, but these bad boys were DELICIOUS!   I think making my own salsa adds a whole new level of amazing to Mexican food because I control the heat and the spices.   By dulling down the salsa with cheese and sour cream, I'd been missing out on this delicate process.

Anyways, try these bad boys out.  Simple.   Delicious.  And Healthy.

Here's the recipe for Chalupas from Engine 2 Diet:

Ingredients for Chalupas:

6 corn tortillas
1 can fat-free vegetarian refried beans
12 cherry tomatoes cut in half (I used a lot more than 12 because they were almost past their prime)
1 jalapeno, diced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and sliced
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 bunch cilantro


Preheat oven to broil.   Place the tortillas on sprayed baking sheet (I used parchment paper) and broil for 2 minutes.   Turn the tortillas and cook for 1 minute, or until crispy.   Spread the tortillas thickly with beans.   Place 4 tomato halves on each chalupa.   Sprinkle jalapenos onto the chalupas.   Broil for 5-7 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to droop.   Divide the avocado slices among the chalupas, and top with the lettuce, cilantro, and salsa.

For my salsa, I basically mixed up a bunch of fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, onion, cilantro, and hot sauce.  Blended to perfection.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Garlicky Cashew Cream Sauce and a Eureka Moment

Although I've lagged on regular blogging these past few weeks, I assure you, my kitchen is getting one HECK of a workout.  I probably spend all of my spare time in that one room and couldn't be more happy about this.  Cooking has becoming something really special to me all of a sudden...

Cooking is a stress reliever, a celebration, a spiritual endeavor, a workout, an homage to good health, and a way to tell people I love them.

Many people already know this about cooking and baking, and to some level, I knew that as well.  But it's only as of late that this has really sunk in.  

Now, although I did cook prior to becoming a vegan, I did not cook all that much.  And when I did cook, I felt way out of my league.  Cooking meat just creeped me out.  I was always afraid of undercooking something and therefore making people ill.  One such moment involved cooking a turkey and a very wise friend of mine who said "these little [insert obscenity]'s are toxic if you don't cook them right."   After allowing it to defrost in my refrigerator, I then felt the need to completely detoxify my refrigerator so as to ensure I didn't kill myself or others after that bird sat in there.

Now that I don't cook anything that could really get me sick, I feel liberated and safe.  I cook almost every meal of the week with the exception of one meal out on the weekends and to many people, this may seem crazy difficult, but I love it.  I love the idea that I pick up all the ingredients I need to sustain myself and Matt for an entire week.  I also love the idea that I know EXACTLY what is going into my body.

I love rules.  I love following them.  I love that they stand for order.  I think they are extremely necessary in life.  Which is why I also am not one to move away from a rule that is set, i.e. a recipe.   In fact, in the world of cooking and baking, I believe one of my strengths is my ability to follow directions.  Unfortunately, this also means that I squelch creativity and avoid taking risks (this bleeds into the rest of my life as well, but that's another issue...), which is a weakness when it comes to cooking and baking.

But lately...

I've been taking more risks.  

I've been venturing into uncharted territories.

Ok, nothing all that exciting, BUT, I have been taking more liberties with recipes and have even come up with a few things on my own.   Nothing is worth posting about.  Yet.  But someday in the not so far off future, I believe I may have a few recipes of my own to share with you fine people.

So stay tuned.

Until then, try this delicious cashew garlic sauce that I smothered over some vegetables on a Friday night as I made my way out the door to go to a movie.  Super easy and SUPER delicious.  So what if I smelled like garlic all night...

*Sidenote: I'm pretty sure the plate is sitting on a Victoria's Secret magazine.  This is troubling in many ways because a) I obviously was too lazy to move the magazine in order to take a picture, b) the magazine was in the kitchen and c) I have no idea why this magazine is in my house...never subscribed to it...

Roasted Bell Peppers, Baked Sweet Potatoes and Galloping Greens with Cashew Sauce from Engine 2 Diet


2 large sweet potatoes scrubbed and pricked with a fork (I only had one)
3 red, yellow or orange bell peppers halved and seeded
1 package or bunch fresh mustard greens, rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp water or orange juice (I used water...don't generally have orange juice around the house)
1/2 C home toasted cashews (I didn't toast them myself, use regular canned cashews)
1 Tbsp tamari
2 cloves garlic (I used four...teehee)
water for thinning the cashew sauce to desired consistency


For Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Place potatoes in a casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes, until they indent easily with finger pressure. Set aside to cool. Slice in half and serve with the skins on. (I had to run out the door before these were truly done, I think it takes longer than 45 minutes to roast these)

For Bell Peppers

If you don’t have a gas burner: De-seed the peppers and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Cook on the oven rack, above the potatoes for five minutes, until the skins begin to bubble and blacken. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Under running water, peel away the skins. Slice into 1 inch strips.

If you have a gas burner: Place the pepper directly on top of the burner, turn to high heat and turn pepper until it is completely blackened. This is best done with a long pair of tongs. immediately place under running cold water and peel the charred skin off. 

For Galloping Greens with Cashew Sauce

Place coarsely chopped mustard greens and juice (or water) in a large covered pot over medium heat. Cook the greens for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender. In a blender, mix the toasted cashews, tamari and garlic together adding small amounts of water as necessary until the mixture is the consistency of a smoothie. Spoon the cashew sauce over the cooked greens and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Post, a New Cookbook, and Blueberry Scones

So I'm FINALLY done travelling for awhile.  A month to be exact.  Don't quote me on that.   I'm ready to be at home for a change.  Ready to not live out of a suitcase.  Ready to not wear the same 3 outfits for the majority of the month.  Ready to not go angrily running down to the front desk in search of a can opener while trying to maintain the composure that my hangriness is making OH SO DIFFICULT.

Yea, I'm ready to be at home.

And I'm ready to get back to blogging!

Just to bring you all up to speed about the Engine 2 Diet stuff, we're still going strong.   Matt has lost about 12 pounds and is feeling good and motivated about everything.  I'm not weighing myself, but I do know that my clothing feels a bit looser.  So that's always nice.   We eat a vegan, oil-free, whole grain diet the entire week and then go out to dinner once a weekend to celebrate.  It's been pretty impressive to see how much has changed (at least in Matt) in terms of his appearance, his energy, his mood.

But it's also been hard as HELL to do this when I travel.   Basically I have to cook 8,000 meals and try to bring it with me.  This works when I am driving to my destination, but when I'm flying, I have to research restaurants in the area I'm going to, research where the nearest Whole Foods is, and try to bring along foods that do not need to be refrigerated (hence the scene with the can opener).

All in all, it's a pain.  But I've been trying!

Matt and I were becoming jaded with the recipes in the Engine 2 Diet book and really do not feel equipped to make our own dishes yet, so I took to the internets to see if there was any help.  Thankfully, at just about this same time, I saw that the folks at Engine 2 were doing a giveaway of Happy Herbivore.  This is a cookbook I've been coveting for awhile and so although I did not win the competition (in fact, I did not even that sort of complicates things), I did make a very wise purchase of this book.  And THAT has made all the difference.

This book is great because it has recipes that basically all fall within the guidelines of the Engine 2 diet, so we feel like we can try out all sorts of things, but it's an ACTUAL cookbook.  Not a diet/lifestyle book with a few recipes thrown in there.  

It's been great and I've loved almost everything we've made from the book.

Especially these scones:

These were delicious and especially timely because I had just returned from a family vacation where we had "Tea and Scones" in the afternoon and I couldn't participate.  No, we aren't British.

So, here's the recipe from Happy Herbivore.  I also highly recommend purchasing this book if you're looking for a supplement to Engine 2 or are just looking to cook delicious low-fat vegan food.


1 1/2 c. non-dairy milk
2 tsp lemon juice
3 c whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of fine salt
1/3 c raw sugar (optional...I chose not to use this)
1 cold banana, peeled and cut in half
1 c fresh blueberries (you can also use frozen)
dash(es) of ground giner


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.

Whisk non-dairy milk and lemon juice together, then set aside to curdle.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar if using, together in food processor and pulse a few times to ensure even distribution of the ingredients.

Add banana and let motor run until it has been incorporated  and the flour has little pebbles of bananas (my pebbles looked like stones...but I also didn't use a cold banana).

Transfer to a mixing bowl and pour in non-dairy milk, blueberries, and ginger, stirring until just combined.

Using a wide 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop up batter and drop onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm to touch.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cauliflower Soup

Dearest readers, I apologize for my absence this past week. I was traveling for work and then had a quick trip up the North woods of MN to see my family and attend a wedding. Needless to say, my computer access has been limited. Beyond that, my ability to keep my eyes open during a spare 5 minutes has been even more limited.

What I'm saying is, I'm tired. And I have to travel AGAIN this weekend. Remind me why I agreed to travel this much in this job? Oh yea, it's because that's what I do...

Anyways, my cooking has actually not decreased all that much even with all of the traveling because I took a big step and PACKED FOOD for my trips! This was HUGE for me. But now, after all is said and done, I am always going to plan ahead and pack my own food if at all possible. It saves me from a) eating Subway for every meal and b) getting so hangry whilst trying to google vegan friendly restaurants which then causes me to start crying in a hotel room and ordering a bottle of wine that will be my dinner. Neither of those things have ever, not a chance...

Anyways, prior to my departure, I also had to stock up for Matt. Now, listen closely all you feminists out there. I AM ONE OF YOU. And I have no idea how we got to the point where I had to pack Matt's lunch for him. This makes zero sense to me. He loves to cook. And he's 30, so he's obviously survived up until this point. BUT, now that we're on a diet and he can't zip over to McDonald's for lunch. Instead, he stares at the refrigerator and has no idea what to do and ends up eating bread and then acting like the spawn of Satan when I come home after work. So, I've taken pity. On myself. And I pack his lunch.

I'm horrified by this.

But anyways, I had to make a few extra meals prior to my departure to make sure Matt didn't die, and this soup was one of them. (Note to the world: mass quantities of soup are the fixall for all marital least 2 months in). So, I made this cauliflower soup from Engine 2. And it was divine. Creamy and delicious even on a hot August day.

Here's the recipe for Kole's Creamy Cauliflower Soup from Engine 2 Diet:


4 cups chopped onion
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 cups water, divided
3 cups diced potatoes
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 large carrots, diced
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
2 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube)
2 Tbsp cashew or peanut butter (I used almond butter)
2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Heat onion, salt, and 1/2 cup water, then simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes, or until the onions cook down to a nice mush. Check to make sure the water is sufficient, and then add 1/4 cup water as needed, so the onions don't burn on the bottom of the pot.

Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, and cauliflower along with 2 cups of water and the vegetable broth. Simmer until all of the vegetables are soft--about 20 minutes. Add the cashew or peanut butter and tamari.

Mash with a potato masher (or an immersion blender) until the soup is mostly smooth, with some chunks. Season with cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.

Variations: Add one bunch of freshly chopped kale, mustard greens, or collard greens 5 to 8 minutes before serving for a nutritional power punch.