30 Days A Vegan: Week 1

Day 1:

  • Breakfast: Avocado Toast on Grain Bread and coffee with Califia Farms Almond Milk Creamer – If you’re looking for a non-dairy, low-fat, and/or low-calorie all natural creamer, I HIGHLY recommend this brand. I’ve had all 3 flavors, and they’re delicious. I started using them months ago, so this isn’t a vegan thing, it’s a delicous coffee thing.
  • Lunch: Pasta with Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pesto, and Roast Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Broccolini – I realized after the fact that I inadvertently strayed from full vegan here, as the pesto contains Parmesan cheese. #RookieMistake
  • Dinner: Since it was #PizzaFriday, we ordered from Domino’s. I had a thin crust pizza with double mushroom, black olives, diced tomatoes, green pepper, and onions, and no cheese, and a mixed green salad with simple vinaigrette. – I know, I know, pizza without cheese? Is that really pizza? Call it a veggie flatbread if it makes you feel better, but it was delicious, and I didn’t miss the cheese at all. Seriously.
  • Snacks: Marcoa almonds while waiting for our pizza. Oh, and cocktails. Is it Friday night without a cocktail?
  • Thoughts: This was a rather easy day, and set me up for a good start. What I knew before this, and is even more evident now, is that this type of diet (definition a, b, or c, not d) will require more planning and prep than I’ve had to do previously. Really, not a bad thing at all, but something to take into consideration.

Day 2:

  • Breakfast: Coffee with Almond Milk Creamer
  • Lunch: Zucchini Grillini, no cheese, and Organic Vegetable Soup from Jason’s Deli – This was our first trip to a Jason’s, and we’re already excited to go back. The menu looked awesome, the salad bar was STOCKED with some great options and healthy grain salads to top your greens, and they have free ice cream. That’s right, FREE ICE CREAM. Of course, I couldn’t have any, but what a cool option available for young and old alike as an incentive to finish their meal.
  • Dinner: Portobello Tacos with Vegan Jalapeno Sauce – I’ve “warned” Jim we’d probably be enjoying a lot of Mexican food, as the easiest way to enjoy any vegetable is to wrap it in a tortilla and top with salsa. These were delicious, and my first experiment with cashew based sauces. Great flavor, but I wish I would have had time to soak the cashews longer, our errands that day took longer than expected, and added another jalapeno for kick.
  • Snacks: Chips, Salsa, and Guacamole and Spicy Grapefruit Margaritas – Tequila is vegan, right?
  • Thoughts: Again, I’m pretty early into this experiment, so it wasn’t too tough, but I did find myself wanting a cookie from the jar in the kitchen and ice cream during lunch, but it wasn’t too difficult to tell myself no. I also stocked up at Trader Joe’s on some staples for future meals, as well as some treats such as Honey Roasted Almond slices for salads and snacking, as well their Frozen Coconut Dessert With Chocolate, which basically just tasted like delicious chocolate ice cream with a faint hint of coconut. Highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Day 3:

  • Breakfast: Leftover Portobello Tacos with Jalapeno Sauce and Coffee with Almond Milk Creamer
  • Lunch: Leftover pizza from Friday and veggie sandwich from Saturday
  • Dinner: Snack plate of veggies, hummus, and pita chips
  • Snacks: Prosecco 🙂
  • Thoughts: Anything is doable when it’s enjoyed with bubbles!

Day 4:

  • Breakfast: Peanut Butter & Jelly Chia Pudding, Avocado Toast, and Coffee
  • Lunch: Snack plate of veggies, hummus, and pita chips
  • Dinner: Sautéed mushroom, asparagus, and onions with jalapeños, corn, and kale over quinoa topped with jalapeño cashew sauce
  • Snacks: Republic of Tea’s Coconut Cocoa Tea with Coconut Milk
  • Thoughts: The struggle was real today. I was on my own with the kids for dinner, and I had the idea to go to Culver’s to get take-out. I could have a veggie burger and sweet potato fries, right? Wrong! The veggie burgers contained cheese. Luckily I had looked it up before getting into line. My alternate dinner was good, but I was really hoping for some sweet potato fries. In other news, that PB&J Chia Pudding was AMAZING. Seriously, so, so good. And easy too. I think it took me all of 10 minutes to mix it up into 5 servings for some quick weekday breakfasts. Can’t wait to try other flavor combinations. <runs off to google some more chia pudding recipes before bed>

Day 5:

  • Breakfast: Caramel Latte with Coconut Milk & Fruit Cup from Starbucks
  • Lunch: Panera’s Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with almonds
  • Dinner:  Out with a Friend for Mexican: DIEZ VECES MÁS LOCO VEGETARIANO: Zucchini, red peppers, green peppers, carrots, tomato, red onion, mushrooms, broccoli, with Rice and Beans … and chips, salsa, and table-side guacamole. Obviously.
  • Snacks: n/a … which lead to the massive amounts of chips and salsa consumed at dinner

Day 6:

  • Breakfast: PB&J Chia Seed Pudding and Coffee with Almond Milk Creamer
  • Lunch: Mediterranean Salad from Potbelly with no chicken or cheese
  • Dinner: Vegetable Sushi Rolls with Sesame Miso Kale Salad
  • Snacks: Popcorn and Rosé
  • Thoughts: Real talk. This evening I sniffed the cookie jar like I was part vacuum, but I resisted a bite of the delicious smelling butter and egg filled baked goods.

Day 7:

  • Breakfast: Trader Joe’s Frozen Steelcut Oatmeal with bananas, cinnamon, and brown sugar and Coffee with Almond Milk Creamer
  • Lunch: Leftover Veggie Fajitas with Sweet Potato Chips, Guacamole, and Salsa
  • Dinner: Veggie Sub on Wheat from Subway and a Riverwest Stein from Lakefront Brewery
  • Snacks: n/a
  • Thoughts: Thus ends week 1. Overall, there were difficult parts, but it was easier than I expected. That being said, it was an odd week for our family, without as many family dinners as we usually have, i.e. 6 or 7 rather than 2. Next week should be more of a challenge, as we’re back to the usual routine, and my goal in all of this is to share as little resemblance as possible with a short order cook. Basically, I want my meals to parallel those of the rest of the family, with as few changes as possible to make mine vegan.

 

Now, onto week 2!

Black Bean Burgers


I’ve had Gourmet’s Quick Kitchen on my shelf for quite a few months now, and, I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve only made 1 recipe from it so far. My problem is that I have a VAST file of recipes and very little time to cook lately. So, while thinking about those facts and meals for the week, my eye landed upon the title and I began to thumb through. I decided these Black Bean Burgers would be a great dinner, but since Jim isn’t the biggest fan of vegetarian fare, and I was at a loss for what to make for lunch, I decided I would make a switch, and my Monday thanked me for it.



 

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ tsp Chipotle Powder
  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 soft hamburger buns
  • 4 Slices Pepperjack Cheese
  • 1 4 oz. can Chopped Green Chilies

Directions:

  1. Pulse 1 can beans in a food processor with mayonnaise, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano, and cayenne until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cilantro and remaining can beans. Form mixture into 4 patties.
  2. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook burgers until outsides are crisp and lightly browned, turning once, about 5 minutes total.
  3. Top with 1 Tbsp. of the chilies and a slice of cheese. Cover and set aside for 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Serve on toasted buns.

Chile Relleno Bake

Oh Mah Gawd! Yeah, that’s right. I typed it. All lame-like, but I don’t care. That’s what I thought when I took my first bite of this dish. It’s like a quiche went on vacation to Mexico and had a delicious baby. Wait, was that too creepy for food? Meh, I don’t care. It was worth it. Have you gotten the impression yet that this is delicious and you should make it soon? I have to admit that my favorite part, other than it being crazy tasty, was that there were no complaints about this being night 2 of vegetarian meals. Yes! It was so good we didn’t miss the meat. I think we need an awesome Latin inspired song to celebrate … click here to enjoy … Why did I put that in there? I don’t know, I think I got confused thinking about how yummy this was.


Alright, well, that’s about it for this recipe that I found at Circle B Kitchen. To recap, I think you should make this soon.


Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. Cheese, shredded (a mix of Monterey jack, pepper jack, and/or cheddar)
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1 2/3 cups Milk
  • 3 large Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup Tomatillo Salsa

Instructions:

  1. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Place ¾ of the grated cheese in the bottom of your baking dish. Place the chopped chiles over the cheese.
  3. Beat the eggs and slowly whisk in the flour, salt, then the milk and pour over cheese and chiles.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and then drizzle with the salsa. Bake for 45 – 65 minutes or until the center is set. Cool for 10 minutes, and cut into wedges.

Chipotle Bean Burritos

Oh, the New Year’s Resolution. We all make them. Even if we say we don’t, we’re lying, as I truly believe some part of you gets to thinking that it’s a new year and new chance to make some positive changes. I mean, I really don’t think anyone wakes up on January 1st and declares, “This year, I’m going to drink more, and, while I’m at it, I think I’ll pick up smoking and skip any form of exercise!” Unfortunately, these resolutions have become a cliché, as most of us drop them within the month, which is a shame.

Prior to January 1st, 2011, I resolved, not to start eating healthier, but to go back to the track I was on prior to the beginning of November. Yes, going all the way back to November there was a steady stream of events: Carter’s 2nd Birthday Party, Parents vising from Colorado, Work trip to Philly, Thanksgiving, Getting together with friends, Christmas celebrations, and, of course, New Year’s Eve. These events all included delicious food, cocktails, and, at times, scrumptious desserts. Of course, I could have been “good”, but I wanted to enjoy myself, and for a foodie, that means giving things a try. Also, family get-togethers MUST include wine. There’s really no two ways around that one. J If you follow the blog, please look forward to quite a few new posts on healthy, and delicious, meals to get you on track as well. I added in the delicious part since I believe it’s vitally important that you enjoy what you’re eating, otherwise it will be all too easy to go back to the “bad” foods in full force.

One final note, before I get onto the actual recipe, if you know me, you also know that I enjoy my share of bad foods. I have no shame in that. Though, what I always try to ensure is that these “bad” foods are kept in moderation. So, while I never plan to give up McDonald’s completely, I do my best to limit it to 1 time per month, and then make strategic choices when I do go. My standard order is a hamburger, small fry, and a medium diet coke, which clocks in at 480 calories. You’ll find that most nation-wide restaurants have very accurate nutritional information on their websites, many of which are interactive. Check them out and become educated on your choices. You’ll be surprised to learn just how big of a difference switching your grande caramel macchiato from 2% to skim milk makes (50 calories and 6 grams of fat), or what skipping the whipped cream can do (skipping 130 calories and 12 grams of fat).

When I saw this recipe courtesy of Cooking Light on MyRecipes.com, I knew it would be a great start to kicking things off in the right direction. Not only was it a delicious, healthy, and meat free dinner, the leftovers have provided quick and healthy lunches. I made only minor adjustments to the original recipe: increasing the chipotle powder and adding fresh cilantro to the toppings. Feel free to adjust to your family’s particular tastes.


Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup Water
  • 1, 15 oz. can Black Beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can Kidney Beans, drained
  • 6 Tbsp Refrigerated Fresh Salsa
  • 6 10″ Reduced-Fat Flour Tortillas (such as Mission)
  • 1 cup Reduced-Fat Cheese, Cheddar and/or Monterey Jack, shredded
  • 1 ½ cups Roma Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Romaine Lettuce, shredded
  • ½ cup Cilantro, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 Tbsp Light Sour Cream

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  2. Stir in chile powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in water and beans; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork.
  4. Warm tortillas according to package directions.
  5. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla. Don’t overfill!
  6. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tablespoons cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tablespoon onions, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; roll up.

Baked Tortilla Chips

Do you ever get the feeling when you’re eating something that you could make it yourself and it could be better for you? Well, I get that a lot. Probably too much. Most recently, I had that feeling after paying $5 for a small bag of tortilla chips from the local Mexican Restaurant. After a quick search through my Google Reader I discovered Stylish Cuisine’s post on this recipe and quickly realized two things: 1. That I was right, and 2. They were delicious. Try these soon, very soon.


Ingredients:

  • Twelve 6-inch corn tortillas (preferably white)
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Fine salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Spray both sides of the tortillas with Olive Oil.
  3. 3 to 4 at a time, stack the tortillas and use kitchen shears to cut into sixths.
  4. Spread the chips out in a single layer on two large baking sheets and season with salt.
  5. Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once, about 12 to 15 minutes. Check after 12 minutes, as I found mine were burnt at 13 ½ minutes, but perfect at 12 ½.
  6. Serve with your favorite Salsa.

Tamale Pie

Ugh, daylight savings time is not a friend to my blog at all. Yes, I work from home, but I work, so no blog pic taking for me. The result is at least 4 months of crappy pictures of yummy food. Sorry, thems the breaks!

This recipe from The Parsley Thief was a really yummy weeknight meal. What was nice is that it made a large batch, the recipe below is for a 9×13″ pan, but I made an 8×8″ pan and just froze the extra filling and cut the topping recipe down by half. Now I have a VERY quick meal in the next week or two by simply thawing the filling and topping with half of the cornbread recipe below. Part of me wants to try adding in some black beans, but Jim liked it as is, so that might be a battle not worth fighting here … but we’ll see about that. This isn’t very spicy at all, but has a great savory flavor, so if you want a little more of a kick, I up the chili powder and/or add a few dashes of hot sauce to the filling.


Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ lbs Ground Beef, lean
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 {14.5 ounce} can Crushed Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 {4 ounce} can Chopped Green chiles, drained
  • 1 {3.8 ounce} can Black Olives, sliced & drained
  • 3 ears fresh Corn, kernels removed OR 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup Cheese, shredded, I used a mix of cheddar and pepperjack

Topping:

  • 1 ½ cups Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 large Eggs, beaten
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a casserole dish, either 9×13″ or 8×8″, with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the ground beef, onions & bell pepper. Cook, stirring & breaking up the ground beef as you go, until it’s cooked through & the vegetables are softened. Add in the salt, chili powder & cumin. Cook for an additional minute, or so. Remove the skillet from the heat & stir in the tomatoes, green chiles, olives, corn & shredded cheese. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  3. Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar & salt to a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs & melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry & whisk until just incorporated. It’s okay to have a few lumps. Pour the batter over the filling
  4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cornbread topping is set & the filling is bubbling. Let it cool for about 10 minutes & serve.