lentils

The Thomas

My mom and I took my great Aunt out to lunch last week.  I googled a few places in Napa (near where she lives) and then passed the decision off to my mom, who chose The Thomas.  Aside from the weird name, the place was great!  Awesome staff, awesome ambiance (we ate upstairs and it was a gorgeous day) and awesome food.

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I got the lentil salad.  My mom got the fried chicken sandwich.

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We both loved our food (and totally cleaned our plates) but my mom ended up getting sick from hers.  🙁

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My drink was fancy fancy with thyme and cucumber.  Not too sweet either.  Our waiter was also the bartender and P LOVED every time he made a drink that required shaking.

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I packed these eats for the little dude (grapes, eggs, avo, banana, and corn puffs) and I think my great Aunt must have commented on his (large) appetite no fewer than 10 times throughout the meal.  She kept saying “are you sure he’s gonna even have room for dinner after this?!?!” – ummmm, yes.  He’s clearly my son.

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Anyway.  Don’t let my mom’s random food poisoning dissuade you from trying this place.  It’s kinda hidden (there’s no sign aside from the name on the door) but is a gem of a place.

While we were in the East Bay we also took P for his first hair cut at a place called Cool Tops in Pleasant Hill.  Highly recommend for little ones (they specialize in kids’ cuts).  They were SO great at distracting him and were pretty quick with the scissors.  Plus P got a balloon at the end.  I mean, is there anything better?!?!  This kid and his balloons.  🙂

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[more] omni meals for the family

Leading up to our trip, I tried to make the most of what we had leftover in the kitchen and freezer.  The meals were mostly huge salads with grains – my effort to be cheap and use up every single perishable item in the house so nothing went to waste.  As you can imagine, these weren’t the most inventive or exciting meals (also they were insanely repetitive) so I didn’t bother taking pics.  I did, however, have photos of some of our dinners from the previous week that I never got around to sharing…so here they are (links to the source included).

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I made a (lot of) adjustments to this crock-pot sweet potato quinoa chili – some inadvertent because my brain wasn’t on.

First off, I didn’t use the slow cooker.  If I’m going to have to brown the meat before I add it to the crock pot, I don’t see the point of using it at all.  I’m lazy.

It was good, but I have a feeling it would have been better had I not totally effed things up by buying tomato SAUCE instead of diced tomatoes,  I seriously don’t know how I did that, but I realized it mid-pour and you certainly can’t un-pour tomato sauce from a big pot of chili.  I tried to compensate by tossing in halved cherry tomatoes that I had in the fridge and amping up the spices, but it didn’t taste as chili-like as the original recipe probably does.

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It was still yummy – just not exactly what I set out to make.  I nixed the garlic and shallot and used an onion and garlic infused olive oil instead.  I also skipped the beans and added lactose free sour cream on top.  Without the sour cream, it was kinda just a tomato sweet potato quinoa dish.  The sour cream really made it great.

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The photo of my meal looks not much like this cover photo, but I am not a food stylist so there you go.  I don’t think I mentioned this yet, but I’m aiming to cook every cover of BA this year.  I already did January, so here’s February‘s chicken and dumplings with mushrooms.

Holy labor intensive!  Bon Appetit needs a reality check with these recipes.  Who has this amount of time??  I read the recipe and decided it would have to be a weekend meal so Kyle could occupy P for a lot of the cooking time.  Good thing too, because I was sweating it out in the kitchen for 3+ hours, so I definitely wouldn’t have been able to work it into the meal plan on a week night.  I have small unreliable windows (read: nap times) to fit in meal prep/cooking now that this kid is all crazy active and mobile, so if it doesn’t fit in there, it’s not happening.  Hi crock pot, I love you.

The recipe was awesome for the record.

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Nachos!  These are the kinds of meals that compensate for the ones with excessive effort (see previous recipe).  Lentils in the rice cooker make my hands-on work <5 minutes.

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Warm Chicken Salad

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This was good, but needed more oomph in the dressing department.  I used pomegranate vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and I added mayo to the dressing too.  I just felt like the extra creamy, fatty flavor would help it out, and I was right.  I liked the fingerling potatoes a lot though, especially with chives.  Chives are a new fave.

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I made the salad first and then added the warm shredded chicken right before serving.  I like warm lettuce because it makes it soggy-ish.  I’m a soggy salad person though.

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I intended to make kebabs with this meal, but ended up roasting the pineapples and red bell peppers separately.  I cooked the beef in a cast iron pan on the stove.  Then I served the whole thing over corn grits.  Baby boy had some too, but wasn’t a big fan.

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Crustless quiche

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Kale, noodle, and sausage stew.

I used TJ’s GF brown rice noodles.  I used the same chicken sausage I used here.  Simple and hearty, but not heavy.

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Big Ass Veggie Lasagna

I don’t have a recipe to link to because it’s just lasagna and I have a million lasagna recipes already on the site.  Let’s be real, layer noodles, marinara, cheese mix, spinach, and repeat.

I didn’t eat any since it had dairy and gluten, but Kyle was all about it.  I had no prob finding leftovers to grub on (mucho stuff stocked up in the freezer).

Other non-photographed meals included: mock Chipotle bowl with crock-pot salsa chicken, portobello fried rice, salmon burger salad, and pesto pasta.

Omni meal plans

I’ve been keeping up with weekly meal planning for almost a year now – with random weeks off due to travel/holidays/etc..  But for the most part, it’s been a very successful technique in keeping our food budget in check. 

I thought it would be way more expensive once we started including meat, but it hasn’t been too significant of a difference because the marginal increase in animal protein is balanced by the fact that we all eat the same thing (thus, a decrease in overall ingredients).  One meal as opposed to three.  At least for dinner.  I pack Kyle’s lunches and they do contain wheat and dairy and (until we run out entirely) nuts, since he’s not nursing and out of the house when he eats them, it’s no big deal.  Otherwise, we are a communal diet family. 

I slipped up a bit this week because I had some mad tempeh cravings, but otherwise here are the allergy friendly dinners we shared.

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Salmon burgers over a huge salad with TJ’s Caesar dressing.

I called and left a message with Trident Seafoods about their facilities and they called me back and were so helpful!  They are all peanut and tree nut free, and one of their two facilities is sesame and free and the other is not but they still clean it thoroughly between the use of sesame products.  The customer service rep showed me where to look up the ID number of the product (on the bottom of the package) to determine which facility it was made at.  We happened to get a package from the sesame free facility!  And since the package is already labeled as gluten free, we are in the clear.  Win! 

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Kale, quinoa and tempeh Caesar salad.

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I can’t get enough Caesar dressing lately.  TJ’s makes a non-dairy version that’s pretty great.  Unfortunately, it’s not vegan, but at least P was spared one allergen (the tempeh is soy, of course).  From now on I’ll probably nix the tempeh or use chicken instead, but since we are on a budget, I didn’t want to let the tempeh that’s been in our fridge for the past month go to waste.  I’ve been eyeing it for far too long and I finally caved.

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It was so good, but not worth the poor eczema flare P had as a result.  I had thought eating it at dinner and waiting 12 hours overnight wouldn’t be too bad, but I think it takes longer to clear out of my system.  At least in that amount.  🙁

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Home-made Chipotle bowl.

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For the rice, I mixed corn, cilantro, and lime juice into brown rice.  For the chicken, I cooked two breasts in the crock pot covered in salsa for 8 hours on low.  It shredded in 5 seconds and made for minimal hands on work.  Kyle demanded a repeat of this meal immediately, so I suspect it will be a regular.

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It was seriously easy so that’s fine by me.  I served the chicken and rice with romaine and avocado.

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I’ve made this broccoli salad previously (both times adding quinoa).  Just as good this time (I had two more huge servings and the leftovers for lunch the next day).

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I actually made us two separate meals this night because we didn’t have very much GF pasta after P ate dinner (his appetite keeps surprising me!).  So Kyle had wheat pasta with this pesto (frozen from our summer produce) and I had the (above) mish mash.

Since you probably can’t tell, it’s TJ’s pasta with kale and roasted veggies topped in an avocado/nutritional yeast sauce.  Despite appearances, it was delicious.

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Kyle’s dad was in town on Friday night (Valentine’s Day) so our romantic dinner was re-scheduled for Sunday.  I made a stew with veggies, kale, rice, and sausage.

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Saturday was P’s first birthday party, so we treated ourselves to sushi that night.  No pics because I devoured it superfast.  Avocado inari is my fave.

And here are a few more meals that I photographed from the previous week but never shared…

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Pasta with marinara and home-made lentil “meatballs”.  I made extra pasta for Kyle’s lunch the next day, as well as extra GF pasta for me & P.

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He loves pasta with olive oil or chicken broth.  Frankly I can get him to eat anything with chicken broth.  It’s how I shoved brown rice and squash down his throat just yesterday.

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This was a Sonoma “chickn” salad made from Beyond Meat chicken-free strips.  I love their products so much.  They are getting “beefy crumbles” soon which should be interesting.

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I basically tweaked the Whole Foods version of the Sonoma salad that first introduced me to Beyond Meat’s product – mayo, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, celery, salt & pepper.

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Served atop a salad (or on a sandwich the next day).

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In addition to Caesar I’m really into mayo these days.  It’s all about the condiments, baby.

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Rosemary and lemon chicken and red potatoes with mixed veggies.  We all ate this one, no alterations needed.

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Spoon Fork Bacon’s shaved brussel salad with quinoa instead of pretzel bread and bacon instead of pancetta.  So good we made it again for P’s birthday party.

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Brown rice, broccoli, and organic chicken sausage.  I wasn’t too keen on the sausage, to be honest.  The flavor was fine, but the texture weirded me out. 

So there you have it – an assortment meals for our omni family.

Outside eating weekend

We had such awesome weather this weekend (status quo for Nor Cal, but still worth noting) so we really made the most of it.  Lots of outdoor time!

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Friday morning started with Earth Butter-ed toast and a fried egg. <— yup, that’s a bite mark out of the toast

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For lunch I had a big salad with greens, quinoa, carrots, tomatoes, and peanuts with peanut soy dressing.  Since I finished off the rest of the PB I just made the dressing in the jar.

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I broke up P and his girlfriend Sophie for an afternoon walk and by the time I got home I was ravenous.

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I had planned on doing Mexican for dinner (burrito night) so I got things started a little early with chips and guac. 

These chips are so so, but since we shop at the Co-op now, our pantry hasn’t had 365 tortilla chips in a while.  Sad.

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Kyle was still at work and before I knew it my little appetizer hour turned into a full on meal… 

I finished off the Sabra guacamole.  By myself.  Oops!

Fortunately I had another one in the freezer, so I quickly pulled it out and submerged it in tepid water to thaw in time for Kyle to get some on his dinner.  I swear I did not mean to hog it all to myself but Sabra’s guac is SO GOOD!  Kyle even made the same comment out of the blue during dinner.

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Speaking of dinner.

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I ruined my appetite with the chip and guac fest, so I waited until I got hungry later on. 

But when Kyle got home, he had a burrito with cheddar cheese, guacamole, and a rice/lentil/salsa mix I made.

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For the FODMAPs people, lentils are actually considered safe (although canned is preferable because they’ve had longer to soak).  I made these from dried lentils in the rice cooker.  Same with the mixed rice.  Then I combined both with lots of salsa.

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Easy peasy burrito filling (leftovers make a great savory breakfast burrito or you can serve with a fried egg on top).

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I had some of the filling plain and then decided to just honor my true craving (more guacamole with chips). 

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Aaaand so I finished off the rest of the (second) Sabra guacamole.  Game, set, match.  FTW.

The rest of the night we played with our little one.

I wish I could sleep in on the weekends, but I can’t seem to snooze past 7.  I wake up at 6:30 on the dot, which probably has to do with the fact that I go to bed between 9 and 10 pm.  Oh well.

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Eggs for the leftover burrito goods.

After breakfast, Kyle’s parents arrived.  They were in Sac for a few days before they headed over to visit us.

We gave them a tour of our casa and then headed over to the farmer’s market downtown.

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Monkey face fell asleep while we picked out some goodies for later that night (green onions and goat gouda). 

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For lunch Kyle got a veggie corndog from The Hotdogger

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I was going to get the same until I checked out the menu at Fat Face.

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Please devote your full attention to the Goat Classic.

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Perrrfection.

I added sriracha too.  I’m obsessed with the stuff lately.

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We hung out for a while before going to the Co-op to pick up the rest of the groceries for dinner.

Between lunch and dinner we didn’t do anything but chat and take a mellow stroll to the park.  Kyle showed his parents his work shop while I nursed, and then we dipped into some appetizers.

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Lots of local goodies, including Fiddyment Farms pistachios, Central Coast Creamery’s goat gouda, Milton’s & Mary’s Gone crackers.

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Enjoyed in the backyard. 

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I just HAD to try the goat gouda, and holy #$%^ was it tasty.  It was salty and flavorful and basically the best stuff ever.  Way back when (like years ago) I planned on seeing how I tolerated goat products because they are noted to be easy for lactose intolerant people, but then I never really did it because I didn’t think I even liked goat cheese.  My sisters are both lactose intolerant and eat (and enjoy) goat cheese.  Now I’m second guessing my taste buds.  This stuff is legit!  And the best news of all is that I had no reaction to it at all (although the amount I had was very small).  I’m super excited to see where these leads me in terms of FODMAPs experiments.  Anyone tried goat’s milk kefir?  Or goat’s milk yogurt?  What a bummer that I’ve been missing out on such yummy-ness all these years…

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Anyway.  In between playing hostess with the apps and vino and nursing my baby, I started to get dinner ready as well.

On the menu…

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Miso Tamari Glazed Salmon
Cold Quinoa Summer Salad
Steamed Green Beans

The quinoa took the longest, considering I had to cook it and then let it cool.  But aside from that, the rest of the assembly is super simple (like everything I make).  Same with the salmon.  The marinade comes together in minutes and it only takes 10 minutes on the BBQ.  I started grilling the salmon at the same time as I started steaming the green beans and they were both done at basically the same time. 

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Cold Quinoa Summer Salad [vegan, gluten free, FODMAPs friendly, nut free]

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 6 green onions (or scallions), thinly sliced (green parts only for FODMAPs people)
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions:

Cook quinoa and then let it cool.  Add green onions and corn to quinoa and mix.  Add avocado, lime juice and tamari and gently toss until evenly distributed.  Salt & pepper as desired.

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Such a light crisp salad, packed with yummy flavors.

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I washed and chopped the ends off the green beans beforehand and then waited to cover them and start boiling the water until the salmon was on the grill.  I like them on the more done side, but most people like them just barely fork tender, so I left them that way.  With a little crunch. 

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Miso Tamari Glazed Salmon [FODMAPs friendly, gluten free]

Ingredients:

  • 4 salmon filets
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp miso paste

Directions:

Combine coconut sugar, water, tamari and miso paste in a small mixing bowl.  Place fish in a pan.  Brush sauce over filets (there will probably be extra so feel free to reserve in the bowl).  Let fish marinate (mine sat for ~30-45 minutes).

Grill fish for ~10 minutes, periodically brushing extra marinade on fish (from either the pan or the mixing bowl).

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Before (above) & after (below).

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It all came together really nicely.

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Yummmmm.

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After everyone finished we just stayed outside drinking, talking, and soaking up the perfect weather. 

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I went to bed before dessert.  No bueno on my part.  But I did steal a few squares the next night. 

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Kyle and I were the first ones up the next morning, even before his parents and the little man. 

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Coffee for three, decaf for one. Wah wah.

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I made a cranberry coconut quick bread for breakfast.

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Good with nothing, but great with Earth Balance. 

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Gluten free and fab-u-lous.  And look at the sun pouring through the kitchen window! 

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We started to go on a walk after breakfast, but it was really windy and P seems to be coming down with a cold so I decided it wasn’t a good idea.  Kyle and his parents forged on, but I turned back with the stroller babe.

We said goodbye to our weekend guests a bit later.  And then I randomly decided to go for a run.  I was slow as balls and it was pathetic and I don’t really even care.  My fitness has taken a total backseat and it is what it is.  What can I say, my priority list has athlete way way way below mom.  Poor atrophied muscles.  Ha.

It did work up my appetite though (as if I need it, I’m an eating machine). 

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For lunch I made a big salad with the quinoa salad leftovers (on a bed of greens and carrots).

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With Mary’s Gone crackers too.  And almonds.  And then more crackers. 

Kyle headed to work for a couple of hours after I ate, but once he got back home we drove to the fun downtown part of Sac.  Just because.  We didn’t have anything to do, but the weather was so nice and it was the weekend, so why stay in the house all day?

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Kyle got fro-yo at yogurt a go go and we met up with a friend.  Good times.

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On the way home we got dinner at Pluto’s.  I wasn’t that impressed.  Their employees are apathetic and it shows.  Not that it’s normal to be passionate about salad making.  Oh wait.

The ingredients available are hardly impressive.  No avocado.  No tofu.  No egg.  No peanuts. 

They did have candied walnuts on the list, but when I asked for them, she couldn’t find them.  Then she realized it was because the bowl was basically empty.  So she poured 3 nuts and a bunch of sugar dust into my salad and counted that as one of my 7 ingredients.  No fair dude!  I also got potatoes, carrots, strawberries x2, bean sprouts, and corn.  With a carrot miso dressing.  The dressing saved the salad, honestly, otherwise I would have given the whole meal a C at best.  In the end it was fine, but I don’t think I’ll go back.

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I had two bowls of Udi’s GF blueberry cashew granola clusters for dessert.

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Laundry fun to end the fun weekend. 

Mushroom “meatloaf”

I think people come here for photos of P more than recipes now.  I don’t blame you!  I think he’s the most adorable little guy, too.  But I still feel inclined to post about food because that’s why I started HHH in the first place.  In any event, here’s a good one to hold you all over.  🙂

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Lately his smiles are less random and more often the result of us making faces and interacting with him and it makes my heart melt.

I can only imagine how amazing things are going to get from here…

So now for the grub.

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Lentils from the rice cooker turn out way better than when I used to make them on the stove.  They’re never mushy or al dente.  Just right.  Every time.  That’s why everyone should have a rice cooker.  You can use if for EVERYTHING.  Zojirushi should pay me for how much I promote their appliance.

This is 3/4 cup (aka 1 rice cooker cup) of dried lentils.  It yielded just over 2 cups of cooked lentils.  I only used 2 cups in the recipe because I like whole amounts but I guarantee you could use whatever yield you get from cooking the 3/4 cup.

Usually my “meatloaf” recipes involve nuts because I think they add a heartiness to the dish but since I do try to create recipes for people with various food allergies, I nixed the nuts this time around.

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It’s still vegan.  And Kyle took it down in two days.  Any questions?

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Mushroom Meatloaf [vegan, nut free, soy free]

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup uncooked lentils (2 cups cooked lentils)
  • 3/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 8 mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth or plain non-dairy milk (I used hemp milk)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup ketchup + more for on top
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning (or garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt)

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse (cooked) lentils, seeds, and mushrooms until texture is coarse and only some clumps still remain.

Take the contents from the food processor and place in a large mixing bowl, then add in breadcrumbs and liquids and spices (broth/milk, oil, ketchup, BBQ sauce, Lawry’s).

Stir until combined and pack into a greased loaf pan.  Top with ketchup and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Notes:

To make gluten free, sub breadcrumbs with rice or quinoa (and pulse the grains in the food processor too).  Make sure condiments used are GF too though.

This could easily be a veggie burger recipe if formed into patty shapes instead of pressed in a loaf.

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It’s not the most visually appealing dish, but hey, neither is raw meat.  I can promise it’s more appetizing than it looks.

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Did I mention this meatloaf probably cost under 5 dollars and easily feeds a family?  I mean just because Kyle dominated the whole thing in 48 hours doesn’t mean others can’t practice restraint and eat it in moderation.  Or maybe it’s just that good…