Monthly Archive: January 2012

A few days of hippie bowls

Going into the weekend I had all my meals ready to go.  Starting with Thursday night, I made a typical hippie bowl.

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If I had to choose a combination of ingredients to eat forevermore it would probably be these: quinoa, carrots, corn, seitan, avocado

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I recently got a question about the ratio of grain to veg to protein in my “hippie bowl” type meals. 

In all honesty, I don’t consciously compose them with a specific ratio in mind, but if I had to guess I’d say it is pretty much 1:1:1. 

Sometimes I use less protein, in which case I add more fat (avocado, nuts, etc.) to give the carb-heavy meal some staying power. 

As an aside, I add nutritional yeast and/or Bragg’s liquid aminos 99% of the time after taking photos of the dish.

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Yeah, this is definitely a meal I could eat seven days a week. 

I made the same thing for lunch the next day. 

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The only change was the addition of teriyaki tofu (because I didn’t have much seitan left).

I also made another tupperware version of the dish to have on standby for either a post-work dinner or bring-to-work lunch.  See?  Prep queen. 

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As you can tell from the picture, it didn’t have avocado at the time, but I added spinach and avocado to it right before it was consumed (which ended up being the following night).  After a long day at the hospital, there is nothing more satisfying than a fabulous meal all ready to go. 

So, back to work food.

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I got this Cherry Almond Two Degrees bar in my latest Lollihop box and as far as I can tell it’s ingredients are totally FODMAPs friendly. 

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The coolest thing about this company is that they are committed to making an impact on childhood hunger.  For every bar you buy, they provide a meal for a hungry child.  What an honorable mission (you can read more about how they work with non-profits here).  What an easy way to support a great cause. 

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The cherry almond flavor kinda tasted like peanut butter and jelly.  It was good and my GI system was a-okay after eating it.  The only FODMAPs are from the dried fruit, which is in a small enough portion that no symptoms resulted.

I will definitely be buying these again.  Who would have thought a delicious snack could do good.  There’s really only 2 degrees of separation between you and a hungry child thanks to this company.

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For breakfast, I made quinoa porridge

After the previous week’s crock-pot steel cut oat success, I decided to try another grain in the slow cooker.

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Quinoa Squash Porridge

[vegan, gluten free]

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 cups water

I added everything together, stirred it all up and let it cook 7 hours on low heat overnight. 

Then I woke up to this…

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Yum!

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Butternut squash gets so so sweet when it’s left to cook slowly over such a long amount of time.  It was already cooked before I added it to the crock-pot, but it was almost caramel-y after slow cooking the night away.  Cinnamon and quinoa and raisins on top?  Yes please.  It was almost like pumpkin pie. 

Needless to say, I got some odd looks when I busted this one out at work.

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My lunch was much more break room acceptable (not that I eat lunch in the break room).  I soaked up the 80 degree weather outside while digging into my lunch leftovers.  After my shift ended I headed home to my previously tupp-ed up dinner. 

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Exhibit A + avocado and spinach.  Dinner.  Done. 

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I stocked up on seasonal Theo chocolate bars (Gingerbread Spice and Nutcracker Toffee) and cracked one open for dessert.  A little goes a long way with these bad boys. 

The next morning was especially lovely. 

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Made even more lovely by the easy peasy breakfast sitch.

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Course deux of quinoa squash porridge with extra almond milk.

I headed off to the hospital, pre-packed eats in tow.

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Weekend warrior.

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My lunch course had spring greens, macaroni noodles, soft boiled eggs, and nutritional yeast on top. 

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I had to refill my nooch stash after making so many seitan logs and quinoa quiches this past month, hence the massive tub from WF. 

The rest of my food (above) is self explanatory, but I did want to mention the Snapea Crisps.  I’ve seen these products before, but I can’t recall where (Ethel, were they yours?).  In any event, I’d never tried them before but they intrigued me. 

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I got the sample size in my Lollihop box and based on the photo, I was expecting some kind of “healthy” soy bean fry thing.  Clearly I’m an idiot, since the product name has “peas” in it.  It also says “baked” on the wrapper.  So far I’m 0 for 2. 

Ingredient check?  Wholesome enough.  FODMAPs friendly and vegan. 

They are basically crispy peas that have been baked in oil and salt.  In a blind taste test, I’d doubt I would have known they were peas at all.  They tasted airy, yet left my fingers greasy.  But they were delicious. 

Now I have to go on a semi-rant about the whole 100 calorie pack thing.  It’s so stupid!  First of all, it’s the opposite of environmentally friendly.  Secondly, the idea that calorie-controlled snack bags are somehow healthier is such a lie.  Who cares that there are just 100 kcals in a pouch?  If the pouch is filled with 6 mini Oreo cookies, you’re still eating Oreo cookies.  Hydrogenated fats and HFCS don’t vanish just because you are eating a small amount of them.  I’ve also read studies that people eat several packs at once because one isn’t satisfying enough which results in more calories consumed than if they were eating out of a box and just stopping when they were full.  Rant over.

Snapeas are yummy, but I don’t know how healthy or filling they really are.  I think they’d be a good topping to a salad, to give it some texture variety and crunch, but otherwise I’m not sure if I’d buy these again.

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After work I threw together a hippie plate of spinach, wild rice, soft boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, and avocado.

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I had nuts and chocolate for dessert, laid out my scrubs, packed my food, and then hit the sack.

Shift three started with a cookie.  A double chocolate chunk cookie to be exact.

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A few days ago I got a package of treats by Erin Baker’s wholesome baked goods.  It may seem unconventional to start the day with a cookie, but if you look at the ingredients, they are basically as healthy as a bowl of oats.

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This is the mini breakfast cookie, which has just 100 calories.  I had it on the way to the hospital with my coffee knowing that I’d have another more substantial breakfast in a few hours.  I wasn’t really expecting much but it was soft and chewy and chocolate-y and really really good! 

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I can’t wait to try the granola and other flavors of breakfast cookies next!  Check out the rest of their products…the flavors will have you drooling in no time (gingerbread? yes please!).

Anyway, after I assessed my patients, gave meds, sent labs, hung heparin, yadda yadda…it was time for breakfast number two. 

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Plain greek yogurt topped in another new (to me) product. 

Giddy Up & Go granola is vegan, nut free & gluten free and packed with all my favorite seeds.  The most interesting thing about it was that it had GF corn flakes in it.

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I’ve never thought of adding cereals to my granola, but this was really delicious and might lead to a new home-made recipe. 

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Lunch was essentially the same as the previous night’s dinner (spinach, sweet potatoes, eggs, and Bragg’s), plus leftover quiche and tofu.

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I had a similar dish for dinner with the mac ‘n cheese I ordered to-go from The Veggie Grill

Time for your input:

What are your thoughts on 100 calorie packs? 

Cookies for breakfast – yeah or nay?

Are you content eating the same thing for multiple meals in a row?

Unappetizing names

Pate

When I lived in Spain, my senora made me sandwiches with pate spreads all the time.  At the time I wasn’t vegan, but I already shunned dairy and avoided most meat (chicken and fish were still in my diet though).  I told her over and over again I didn’t like pate – it reminded me of cat food.  But she repeatedly made it for me.  As a result I get shivers up and down my body whenever I see or hear the word. 

This is especially unfortunate because many raw spreads are dubbed “pates” because of the similarity in texture. 

Loaf.

Another item that gave me the heebie jeebies growing up was meatloaf.  Now, to be fair, it wasn’t actually my mom’s meatloaf ground turkey loaf that I disliked, but the ketchup topping.  But either way, I wasn’t a fan of the dish. 

This makes me seem like a really picky eater!  I promise I wasn’t one of those kids.

The fact of the matter is, to me loaf and pate are two of the nastiest sounding foods.

So now that you have some background info, you may understand why I felt like the hugest hypocrite as I prepared dinner the other night.

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WTF! 

Lentil loaf AND pepita pate in one meal!?!  Who am I?

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Let me assure you, this recipe bears no resemblance to a true pate.

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Pepita Pate

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 T water
  • 2 T evoo
  • 1 medjool date
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Puree pepitas and water together until nearly smooth (chunky texture is fine). 

Add all other ingredients (except spinach and oil) and puree again.

Once blended, add spinach and oil and blend until consistency is pesto-like. 

Serve with noodles, smear on bread, top a potato, or use as salad dressing.

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If you’re a fan of spinach you will like this.

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As for the main part of the meal…

I’ve made a lentil loaf before, so this isn’t a new dish.  I just happened to write down the exact recipe this time.  

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Lentil Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup lentils (dry)
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup water (used separately as 1/4 cup + 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce

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Directions:

Bring water to boil and add 3/4 cup dry lentils.  Cook until they are soft (you’ll know it when they get fatter and start to smell).  You can always taste test a few to see if they are done.  Leaving them slightly al dente is fine since they will be cooked again in the oven. 

Pulse walnuts with 1/4 cup water until they are almost completely ground up.  Chunks are okay.

Puree nuts and (drained & cooled) lentils together adding 1/4 cup water at a time (totaling 3/4 cups water).  You are looking for a well mixed consistency with a little bit of texture, so don’t worry about completely pureeing it. 

Add the nuts, lentils, bread crumbs, chia seeds, and spices to a bowl and combine until everything is uniformly mixed.  Let the chia seeds “gel” for 10 minutes.

Finally add in the ketchup and BBQ sauce and (again) stir together.

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Once the “batter” is ready, pack it into a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.

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Top view vs. side view.

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Then drizzle extra ketchup or BBQ sauce on top. 

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Patterns are optional, but go ahead and get artsy with this!

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Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once cool, slice and serve.

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Kyle swore it was “just like real meat” and told me so several times. 

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Are there any meals you have horrible memories of, which have forever ruined them as foods? 

It took me a LONG time to get over my almond phobia.  I used to be completely anti-nuts, but since blogging my palate has grown and expanded so much!  I now enjoy cashews, peanuts, and almonds.  The rest of the nut family better be really well hidden (ie: walnuts in a loaf).

Kyle’s fancy feasts

The title sounds like cat food, but it’s not where I’m going with this post. 

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Kyle’s parents sent him home from the holidays with a bunch of gourmet cheeses. 

We froze them (because that’s a crazy amount of cheese to have in your fridge) and have been pulling them one by one. 

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#1 Grilled mozzarella with marinara sauce.

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The key to getting that beautiful golden crispy crust is buttering the bread before it hits the pan. 

The other trick to grilled cheese perfection is getting the ratio of cheese to bread just right – allowing the cheese to get super melty while not burning the bread.  Obviously, a thinner layer of cheese will melt quicker, but you don’t want a dry, overly bready sammie either.  Start with one slice of bread on the grill, open-faced with a few really thin slices of cheese.  Several paper thin slices will melt quicker than the same thickness in one fat slab.  Once the cheese starts softening, add the second slice of bread and flip it until the layers are melted together. 

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Voila!

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#2 – Sizzlin’ Swiss

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Same technique as sammie #1 with different ingredients.  This version has Swiss cheese on home-made wheat bread.  The best part about making your own bread is that you can slice it as big as you want.

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Yeah fatty.  

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#3 Brie and apricot preserves.

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The sweetness of fruity jam contrasts the soft, creamy brie to make a nice little marriage of flavors.

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This was a quick one to throw together – no stove, no spatula.  I smeared the brie on one piece of bread, then heated it (in the microwave) until it was semi-melted.  The other slice of bread got a spread of jam and – bam – a sandwich was born! 

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#4 – Goat cheese with dried cranberries.

Sometimes you don’t need anything else, just warm sourdough and fancy chevre.  Done and done.

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#5 – Grilled Gouda with ketchup.

Gouda is an aged cheese.  There are actually two kinds, though.  The older gouda is creamier but more pungent.  It has a strong flavor, as opposed to the younger gouda (which is softer and doesn’t have as much of an underlying bitterness).  For this reason, it’s a perfect cheese to use in small portions. 

The ketchup kinda brings the “fancy” factor down a notch, but Kyle likes ketchup so who cares.

Anyway.

I haven’t eaten cheese in a loooong time, and I don’t see dairy re-entering my diet any time soon, but if you have pairing suggestions for Kyle feel free to chime in here.

What’s your favorite cheese?  Favorite cheese sandwich?

Quickie dinner

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I have a formula that I use to make dinners in as little time as possible, but it relies on food prep.  I always prep ahead of time.  Have I convinced you to do the same yet?  I feel like a broken record, but the posts that seem the most basic and obvious to me still get the most follow up questions.

So.  About that “formula.”

Carb: usually a whole grain like quinoa or rice, but sometimes I opt for noodles, and sometimes I just turn to bread

Fat: avocado, nut, oil, something

Green: veggie of any sort, but spinach and kale are my faves

Protein: seitan and tofu are my #1 and #2, tempeh is the often overlooked step child, and then I have the freezer supply (think veggie burgers) or the pantry (think canned beans)

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Put them all together, and BAM!

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A meal in minutes.  Sometimes less.

That’s why you MUST MUST MUST keep your fridge tupperware ready.

Here are a few posts you may be interested in:

No more excuses – tips to make meals like the above even when you’re coming off a 12 hour shift

Prep for the work week

Make bring to work meals

BYO lunch special

Tutorials

Mid-week vacation

Well hello!

I keep thinking it’s Sunday night because Kyle and I just got back from an overnight stay in San Juan Capistrano.  We randomly decided to skip town after Kyle’s classes on Wednesday…he only has class one day a week and I didn’t have to be back at the hospital ‘til Friday, so why not?

Kyle’s parents were happy to see us and took us to dinner at a new Thai place that just opened near their house.

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If you think the name is cheesy, you should see the menu!  Thai Juan On is very pun-y.

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We started with an order of Handroll Salad (Salad Mouan) for the table.  The rolls were stuffed with lettuce, bean sprouts and tofu and topped with peanut sauce, avocado and roasted shallot.

The sauce and avo were great, but I could have used more tofu inside.

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It was hard to decide on a main course because the menu was BEYOND overwhelming.  It just went on and on…so I went with the oh-so-standard noodle dish…

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Phat Thai with tofu.  I think the portion grew as I ate it because the noodles and peanuts went on forever.  It was delicious, but I definitely had leftovers.

Kyle got the dish I was considering as my second choice, which looked like a winner too.

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Golden Thread (Ba Mee Phat) with tofu, egg noodles, onion, green onion, cabbage, celery, broccoli, mushroom, carrots, baby corn, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts.

The next day we met up with Kyle’s brother for a round of golf (9 holes) in Laguna Beach.

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Eat your heart out East Coast, this is how we do January in So Cal.  Holler!

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I played on the horrible side, except for one fabulous put.  In my defense, I haven’t even touched my clubs more than twice in the past few years.  Rather than get down on myself for sucking, I just celebrated how much I improved over the course of the day.

After golf we headed back to Santa Monica.  Starving.

Enter Veggie Grill.  We chatted with T.K. while we waited for our food and he told us they just opened a new restaurant in Oregon.  Hear that Beaverton?  You guys can now enjoy this beauty.

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All Hail Kale salad with blackened tempeh.  This dish is simply perfection.  I also got a side of mac ‘n cheese to go.  [planning ahead for my upcoming 3 shifts in a row]

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Kyle got the Bayou Chickin’ sandwich with a side of mac ‘n cheese, too.

And that’s my mid-week vacay (by iPhone).

When was the last time you ditched your normal weekly routine for a getaway?