tvp

Checklist fun

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Who doesn’t love a nice organized to-do list?

This past week was a little different because Kyle was out of town a few nights working.  But he came home to sleep a little bit in between (night shifts).  And he wanted me to pack all his food so he wouldn’t eat crap on the road.  Hence the need for a very mapped out menu.  I can’t stay organized without it all written out nowadays.  My head is too full of other crap (like the tune to head shoulders knees and toes…make it go away!).

Breakfast prep:

  • breakfast burritos <— so easy
  • hash browns (made in the oven, see below)
  • pancakes (pre-made batter so it was ready to go in the AM)
  • hard boiled eggs (also for snacks & lunches)

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Lunch prep:

  • mac n cheese casserole
  • tomato “meat” sauce pasta (with TVP)

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Dinner prep:

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Snack prep:

  • make protein balls
  • chop veggies (for lunch salads too)
  • hard boil eggs

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Not gonna lie, it’s a lot harder now that I’ve got a kiddo.  Nap times are so freakin’ clutch.

I’ll share what I did with all this prep soon.  I also have a vegan crock pot meal plus an AMAZING new recipe that I’m now obsessed with.  Seriously, get ready to have your mind blown.

But for now I’m going to get ready for a Memorial Day BBQ/housewarming party.  I think I’ll start by making a checklist.  😛

Celebrate Soyfoods Month

I didn’t know that April was soyfoods month until a week ago.  That gives me another 15 days to celebrate.  I like tofu, so easy peasy.

Truthfully, the various food holidays kinda make me roll my eyes most of the time.  There’s one (or more) every single day – like grilled cheese day, which was last week.  But we get to honor soy all month long!  Way better than smashing it into 24 hours.

So while I usually avoid making recipes exclusively to showcase holidays (my blog is more “here’s what I ate” than “here’s a list of recipes for you to try on Christmas”), this one just worked out.

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Who doesn’t love a crock-pot recipe?

So you know how I make this really simple gluten free lasagna with rice paper and tofu “ricotta”?

Well.  This is what you call an aha moment.

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Crock pot, meet rice paper.

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Ummm, could the fit BE more perfect?!?!

I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me sooner, but I couldn’t wait to give the recipe a shot in the slow cooker.  No more breaking apart rice paper to shape into a rectangular casserole dish!  In other words, the recipe just went from 15 minutes of prep to 10.

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Crock-pot lasagna with tofu “cheese” [vegan, gluten free]

Tofu “cheese” ingredients:

  • 1 14 oz. container extra firm organic tofu ( I used Wildwood brand made with sprouted soybeans)
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasonings (basil, parsley, oregano, thyme)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Lasagna ingredients:

  • 10-15 rice paper wrappers (Asian spring rolls) or gluten free lasagna noodles (like Tinkyada)
  • 1 cup TVP* (rehydrated with 1 cup water or vegetable broth)
  • spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 25 oz. jar of marinara

Directions:

Begin by greasing the inside of the crock pot with non-stick spray or oil.

Make the tofu “cheese” by mashing all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until you have a uniform and cheese-like texture.

In a separate bowl, rehydrate the TVP (textured vegetable protein) with the liquid.

Begin layering in the crock-pot, starting with a bit of marinara, followed by rice paper(s), then tofu “cheese”, then rice paper(s), then marinara, then TVP, then rice paper(s), then marinara, and so on…ending with a top layer of just marinara.

Cook in slow cooker on low for 4 hours.  Let it cool and “set” for another 4 hours before serving.  [If you serve it straight away after cooking it will be delicious, but it will be lasagna soup.  I learned this the hard way.  The next day’s portion was perfect.]

*Notes: TVP is a vegetarian protein make from dehydrated soy.  If you can’t find TVP in your local health foods store, you can sub grated tempeh or omit the “meat” layer altogether.

I doubled up the rice paper per layer, but if you are using regular lasagna noodles (or GF ones) you only need one noodle per layer.  You do not have to cook them prior to assembling them in the crock.

The amount listed in this make enough for two people and some leftovers.  For a larger group all you have to do is keep on layering.  I recommend doubling the tofu “cheese” and using an extra jar of marinara.  You will likely have extra rice paper spring rolls because most packs come with more than the amount I used, so just keep on layering until you run out of an ingredient.

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Soy isn’t just for veg heads!  I promise this tofu cheese recipe will make a meat eater just as happy as a vegan.  This was actually my first time trying sprouted tofu and although I couldn’t detect much of a difference in taste, the texture was much heartier and dense.  Wildwood Organics is the only company is the US to make their tofu with sprouted soybeans.  The real difference is in the nutritional stats – sprouted tofu contains more calcium, iron, and protein (as well as more fat and calories) as compared to regular tofu.

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On the left, the rehydrated TVP.  On the right, the layering process.

If your crock-pot doesn’t happen to fit the spring rolls perfectly, you can just dampen them with some water and they will bend to fit into the crock.  Don’t worry about it being perfect.  It all tastes the same, with or without wrinkles. 🙂

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Once prep is done, you can just step away and forget about it.  And since the dish is better once cooled, you can start it in the morning and leave it all day and by dinnertime it will be good to go!

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Of course I wasn’t quite on top of things, so I started it around 2 pm.

This is what happens when you can’t wait to dig in…

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Ladies and gents, may I present lasagna soup.

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Truth: it was freakin’ awesome tasting and neither Kyle nor myself cared what it looked like.  So what if the noodles were too mushy and didn’t hold their form?

This is what it looks like the next day (or when you wait until it has cooled and the rice paper has set)…

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Ha.  Okay, still not great to photograph.

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Yum!

Are you planning on celebrating soyfoods month??

I know there’s often controversy about the role of soy in the diet, but I’m a big fan.  My mom literally raised me on tofu, blending it into my pureed baby food!  It’s packed with protein and fiber and can take on any flavor, making it great for everyone.  Not just vegetarians.  Every time someone tells me they don’t like tofu, I think they just haven’t had it prepared correctly.  Because it’s good stuff.  And SO easy to incorporate into everyday meals (from smoothies and puddings to stir-frys and sandwiches).  Especially in a “cheese” recipe like this one, which has way fewer calories and saturated fat than real cheese.  Plus soy has calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B-12.  Win win win.

 



This sponsorship is brought to you by the Soyfoods Association who I have partnered with for this promotion.

The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) provides information about the health benefits and nutritional advantages of soy.  SANA offers fun recipes and convenient ways to incorporate soy into meals for everyone – from athletes to families.  SANA is dedicated to spreading the word about soy, especially during National Soyfoods Month in April!  

Check out their facebook page for more info and their website for recipes. 

 

Los Angeles Bucket List

Now that I’ve shared the big news, I can start talking about all the last minute things we’ve been up to as our LA residency comes to a close.

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On our drive back down to So Cal, Kyle and I created an LA bucket list.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to hit up all the restaurants we wanted to.  There’s too much food in our fridge/freezer (slash we need to save $$$) to justify going out to eat the way that we both want to.  Which would have to be every night for 4 months straight to actually conquer the massive to-dine list I have.  Yeah, that’s not happening.  We will blame it on the desire to be frugal as opposed to the fact that we have a 2 month old (although I imagine many places are fairly baby friendly if you’re polite and have a kiddo with a good disposition). 

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Like this one. 🙂

Anyway.  The first thing I did was schedule an appointment at Exhale spa to get a pedicure.  I had a gift card from my birthday that has been burning a hole in my pocket.

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Sweet pampered bliss.  I didn’t think I’d become that mom, but I still talked bragged about P for 75% of the time with the manicurist.  She didn’t seem to think I was too obnoxious but she may have just been humoring me.  I don’t normally like chatting it up while getting my nails did (that probably sounds rude but I really just like zoning out), but it was just the two of us, which makes it slightly awkward to not talk. 

I now have pretty toes.  Finally!

The rest of the LA to-do list is mostly seeing all our local family and friends as much as possible. 

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We went to Newport Beach to visit my G-ma last weekend.  We also got to see Kyle’s sis in the same visit.

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I packed lunches for me and Kyle.  My salad had greens, celery, brown rice, hard boiled eggs, and peanuts with a soy-tahini-maple syrup dressing.

I knew my G-ma would have lots of roasted nuts and chocolate on hand for dessert though so I didn’t bother packing us snacks.  🙂

I fell asleep on the car ride home and then had a melt down upon waking up (clearly the lack of sleep and hormones caught up to me) but I kinda pulled myself together enough to go on a family walk with Kyle.  We hit up Starbucks where I accidentally ordered a caffeinated iced coffee and then realized it after leaving…which prompted another melt down.  I’m not sure why I’m sharing this because I’m definitely not proud of it, but I may as well be honest (lest anyone think I’m super mom/wife – ha!).  I had a rough(er than normal) couple of nights that left me sleep deprived and grumpy, which reared it’s head at random times over the course of the day.  Moody Elise = Poor Kyle.  Luckily we are good at communicating (aka Kyle’s good at dragging stuff out of me) and so I went to bed extra early and slept in extra late the next day while Kyle managed P’s diaper changes and only woke me up to breast feed – and all was good again. 

We have been packing in as much time with our LA besties as possible.  We went to watch the Final Four games at a friends house.  And the whole next week is booked with visitors, BBQs, and more.

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Ethel and Alene time. 

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Operation freezer/fridge/pantry clean out is going quite well.  It’s not the most thrilling, so I’ve been taking very few photos (I eat such similar meals, the repetition may bore you to stop reading).  But I cook different things for Kyle because he’s not as in love with eating quinoa and veggies for days on end (not too shocking, since I think I’m in a special category for being cool with that). 

That pasta dish above was for Kyle, and had egg noodles, split pea soup, peas, and TVP.  The split pea soup was from a dry soup mix (McDougall’s) which I just bulked up with TVP to get him some protein (both only require added water to rehydrate).  I added frozen peas to get some veg in the mix as well.  Despite it not being a terribly inspired dish, he loved it and it took no time to make.

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Now that I think about it, he’s totally okay with eating mac n cheese and pasta for every meal.  So maybe we all have our “things” that we enjoy day in and day out. 

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Our Costco sells Annie’s mac n cheese in bulk and let me tell you that may have been the best purchase we’ve ever made there.  Aside from baby wipes.  And almond milk.  We go through both of those at alarming rates, too.

All I do is add some kind of frozen or fresh veg (and occasionally TVP too) when I make it.  The Annie’s pack from Costco has white and regular cheddar cheese boxes, as well as shells and macaroni, so there’s a tiny bit of diversity in the pasta. 

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Hippie bowl du jour: quinoa, roasted butternut squash, steamed kale, hard boiled eggs, Bragg’s and nooch.

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I don’t like coconut aminos as much as Bragg’s aminos.  I tried, but it’s not for me.  It’s oddly sweet.  And the fizz weirds me out.  I’m going back to my salty love.

More bucket list items to come (and desperately creative food concoctions no doubt). 

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I took care of this cake already.  Sorry P, none for you yet.

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Vegan Enchiladas

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This is a pseudo recipe because I didn’t measure things and you don’t need to either.

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Green Enchiladas [vegan]

  • 6 tortillas (I used 365 whole wheat tortillas)
  • green enchilada sauce (I used one of the frontera brand packets which was 8 oz of sauce)

Filling:

  • brown rice (~1.5 cups)
  • corn (~1/4 cup)
  • TVP (~1/4 cup, rehydrated with the same amount of liquid, either veg broth or water)*
  • salsa (~1/4 cup)

*You could swap black/pinto/refried beans for TVP. 

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Combine filling ingredients. 

Stuff each tortilla, roll it up, and place it in a greased baking pan. 

Coat tortillas with green enchilada sauce.  [Optional: add shredded cheese on top]

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Bake for ~20 minutes at 350 degrees.  [Only one of the baking pans is shown above]

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Enjoy!

If you have extra filling, it’s good on it’s own, too.  Or save it for a breakfast burrito, huevos rancheros, or whatever.  Mexican food never gets old, right?

What to do with broccoli stalks

Old post alert! This was written a few weeks ago, but somehow got lost & forgotten in the wordpress queue. Still figured I’d share…

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Scraps!

Red lentils, broccoli stalk, carrots, celery, butternut squash soup (and unpictured TVP).

Doesn’t look like much huh. Unless you have a crock pot and a bunch of spices.

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Oh really swan!?!??

Once again this is proof that crock pots love lentils and everything (even crappy messed up bread) tastes good when you make it in the slow cooker.

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Too bad crock pots don’t photograph nearly as well.

I made this for Kyle because I was going to be out of the house during dinner time (I was getting a massage). I had mini meals before and after, but this lentil soup was all for Kyle.

Kyle looooooves lentil soup. He will order it any time he sees it on the menu. My lentil loaf and lentil soups are some of his favorite meals. So I knew he’d like this one, even though it was put together with random odds and ends.

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I don’t have a recipe because I didn’t think anyone would want to re-create this. It’s pretty much the things I listed above cooked in a combo of water and butternut squash soup with a few glugs of olive oil and lots of TJ’s 21 seasoning salute.

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Thanks to the lentils and TVP, it was protein packed, but there wasn’t much in the way of carbohydrates, so I told him to have some bread with butter on the side. It was that or make some brown rice, but I was lazy.

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Promise me from now on you’ll stop throwing away broccoli stalks and use them in soup instead.