Archives for posts with tag: vegan

On my new crusade to save money, I have been scrutinizing my spending habits. A year or so ago, my doctor told me I had high cholesterol. One of the ways I chose to combat that was by adding oatmeal to my diet (it didn’t hurt, btw – my cholesterol dropped 60 points in a couple months, although oatmeal wasn’t the only measure I took). I was buying boxes of pre-made, microwavable oatmeal at the health food store. They were about $5 a box and contained six packets of oatmeal.

At the grocery store not too long ago, I spotted this in the health food section:

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Organic oats, ELEVEN servings for $1.40. That’s right. Twelve cents per serving!! Versus almost a dollar per serving in the packets! I bought the bag.

Obviously, I needed to doctor up the boring oats. I played with a variety of additions that I had on hand until I found a combination that tastes good and keeps me full until lunch. Most mornings, I add a packet of stevia, a splash of maple syrup, some flax seeds, sliced almonds, dried berries, and apple pie spice. The prep takes me all of four minutes, and it’s kind of fun. I pour almond milk over the mixture and let it soak until I get to work. Then I pop it in the microwave for 75 seconds, and voila! My cheap-a$$ breakfast is ready.

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Even if you add the cost of the almond milk, stevia, and other miscellany it is still cheaper than $1 per serving. Who knew saving money could be delicious?

Imagine, if you would, a dystopian future where cheap, careless corporations pollute the water source for hundreds of thousands of people. These people first, of course, turn to government authorities for assistance. However, these authorities also prove to be cheap and careless and massively bungle aid efforts. This leaves these people quite without recourse and trust, but more importantly, without water.

Sadly, this is not the plot of my sci-if graphic novel, but my actual life. My life, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of neighbors, friends, co-workers, and fellow humans who inhabit the part of West Virginia that is fondly referred to as “Chemical Valley”. Even though we were given the go-ahead to use the water normally last week, the water company quickly amended their statement to say that pregnant women should NOT drink or bathe in the water. Then a spokesperson for the statewide pediatrics association spoke up and added that small children should also stay away from the water.

Even though I, like most of my neighbors, gratefully rushed into the shower the moment we were given the go-ahead (the “pioneer days” novelty of bathing out of a bucket of cold water quickly loses its charm), I couldn’t deny that the water did not smell right. Even after flushing the system as recommended by the water company, it does not smell right. Everyone I’ve spoken to since we’ve been given the green light to use the water normally agrees that something is still not right about our water supply. People vary in their degree of reticence to use the water – some people are taking showers, others still don’t trust it enough to even bathe. I don’t know anyone who is drinking it.

That said, I’m certainly not going to cook with it. However, a person can only eat so many Amy’s frozen burritos before yearning for something homemade. I miss my green smoothies in the morning. Yesterday, determined not to live another day on burritos, I made my first foray to the grocery store since the spill. I was ready to cook, dammit.

But even cooking uses water in more ways than you’d think – simply rinsing vegetables takes on a new level of challenge. For this reason, I decided to stick with a couple old standby recipes that were quick, used few ingredients, and required minimal cleanup. Improbably, both of these recipes are for soup. I’m using bottled water! The combined eight cups of water the recipes call for will use only half a gallon of water, and will make enough food to feed the boyfriend and me for the week.

This black bean soup recipe is tried-and-true. The boyfriend loves it and it freezes very well. It’s vegan but a sprinkle of cheese on top is nice!

This cauliflower soup is excellent. Since basil is out of season, I use the blended cauliflower base to make a creamy, hearty potato soup. It’s a very fun recipe to play with.

The lack of potable water has been a very unsettling glimpse into what life is like for people around the world who don’t have regular access to clean water. While it sucks, it does make me appreciate how much we take for granted!

Wishing you all a fun, chemical-free weekend!

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When I was a little kid, one of my favorite toys was my chemistry set. I loved “conducting experiments” with the neatly marked white bottles (of real chemicals! This was the 80’s, folks, we didn’t even have to wear bike helmets), making red liquid turn into blue liquid, making things bubble or crystalize, peering at blades of grass with my microscope – I felt like a real scientist, and I reveled in the magnificent sense of possibility.  My poor parents gazed on, probably thinking one day I’d be running a research lab at MIT.  Sorry, guys!

These days, the mad scientist in me gets unleashed in the kitchen. Things have not changed so much. I still love “conducting experiments”, albeit now my bottles are spices and herbs, and I can be found peering critically into the oven window rather than down a microscope. This week’s experiment was The Loaf. I read about The Loaf in a blog a couple of weeks ago and the name of it – “Life-Changing Loaf” – dazzled me with its promise.  

I began collecting the ingredients excitedly.  “I’m making a weird bread,” I needlessly explained to the kid at the health food store who poured psyllium husks into a bulk bag for me.  He smiled kindly, definitely thinking, “Whatever, weirdo.”

“I’m making a weird bread!” I announced to the boyfriend yesterday before commencing the experiment.  He shot me a quizzical look and went back to his work, immune by now to my “experiments” and behavioral oddities. 

Later, we both peered down at the decidedly unattractive mixture. “It’s a weird bread,” I offered again, this time apologetically.

The Loaf, pre-oven (yes, those are chocolate chips cookies behind it because I am nothing if not a study in contradictions)

So The Loaf, in its nascency, is definitely not cute. When I explained to the boyfriend that the loaf required a full night of sitting on the counter, “resting”‘, he announced that under no circumstances would he be partaking in The Loaf.   

So now it’s just you and me, Loaf. 

Ever the optimist, I popped Loaf in the oven this morning.  Filled with hope, I waited eagerly for Loaf to transform from a slimy mess into a delicious, golden rectangle of nutrition. I waited for it to deliver on its promise. And behold:

The Loaf!

It sort of did!! I was afraid that biting into it would ruin the magic of this victory (it looked sort of like the picture from the blog!), but no! It’s dense, chewy, and pretty darn good!! That’s right! Score one for science today, kids! 

The boyfriend still turns his nose up at The Loaf. More for me. 

That’s right! I couldn’t even come up with a word for a title! It’s that good!!  Unless you hate caramel. Then it’s just sort of “meh”.

I won’t make you read a bunch – it’s vegan caramel! It’s freaking delicious, pretty healthy, and actually quicker to make than real caramel.  I’m filled with excitement right now because I just made it and it so far exceeded my expectations that I’m filled with the evangelizing spirit. I. Must. Share. 

It’s so easy! Dates, vanilla extract, coconut oil, and maybe a sprinkle of salt if you feel fancy (less than a cup of dates + a small splash of vanilla + less than 2 tablespoons of oil, nuked to make it liquid).  That’s it.  Blend them together. Put it in your mouth. Share it with someone you love. Or someone you hate. Just try making this stuff. 

I did a dumb thing. I used a food process instead of my cool blender, so I got caramel-ish.  It still tastes awesome, though! Use a blender. Yours will look much better. 

I’ve taken a hiatus from this blog for a while as I’ve settled into life in Louisville.  BUT! It’s a new year, which means a fresh start!

I’ve got lots of goals this year. Lofty goals. One of them is to run a half-marathon. I’ve already been training for about 2 months, but just went down for over a week when an old Kung Fu injury flared up (true story). Tonight was my first night back, and ouch. Ouuch.

However, I didn’t revive this blog to complain about my creaky hip. I cracked it back open because, on Friday, I’m starting a new venture that I’d like to document for interested parties. I’m doing a 30-day vegan challenge.  I realize that blogging about 30-day vegan challenges has maybe been done before. Also, it’s not really thaaaat much of a challenge for me since I already don’t eat meat or eggs. Regardless, I’ll be posting some recipe ideas and thoughts about how it’s affecting my training.

Even though I start the challenge on Friday (which means tomorrow I SHALL DINE ON BRIE!! Yeah, only sort of kidding…), I am fixing something tonight that may end up on my list of go-to recipes, if it doesn’t suck:  Roasted root vegetables.  I spotted some beets when I was grocery shopping, and then felt a pull towards the sweet potatoes. Apparently my cravings have themes. So, tonight I chopped them up with some carrots, splashed them with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and shook some rosemary and sea salt on them before popping them into a 475 oven.

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Rooty heaven right here. Rooooty heaven.

I’d say it was a smashing success.  It took about 35 minutes for them to cook though, but they are really just what I wanted on this windy January night.

I wonder if anyone else is really trying to stick to their resolutions (GOALS! I’m purposefully calling them goals because sometimes I break resolutions just out of spite)..?