Friday, December 20, 2013

Sometimes I come across a Vegan recipe that I want to make BUT it has all these crazy spices or things I would never buy anyway, so I improvise, like I did when I was a regular cook, and I've got to tell you, I have a winner here today!!
So, it started out as "Chickpea, Coconut, and Cashew Curry" and ended up being Tara's Chickpea, Pepper, and Potato Almond Curry--and it was delish!

3 T olive oil
1 medium onion sliced thin
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1 -2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp ginger--I buy mine pulverized in a jar in the produce dept--makes it simple
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened, or try coconut almond milk--yum, didn't have that one though
1 can chickpeas drained
1 large potato diced
1-2 cups spinach--chopped
1/3 bunch of cilantro, chopped
Ok, this is a guess, because I sprinkle this stuff in and add more if needed:
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp curry
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Heat up oil, add onion, potato, chickpeas, green pepper and brown them all up.  Then add the garlic and ginger, cook that for a few minutes then add the almond milk. Add your spices, and then after the chickpeas and potatoes are cooked and hot, I mashed as many as I could to thicken the broth up.  (Be careful with the potato masher, I have a love/hate relationship with mine, it always slips and I end up with 1/2 my meal on me and the floor).

Now, because this is the way I cook, it needed a little creamy something, so when I looked in my fridge, I saw jalapeno cream cheese (for our bagels) and put about 2 T of that in there--I know, I never professed to be a 100% Vegan...I feel the shame for about 30 seconds...  So it does need a little kick of something, so put a sprinkle or two of chili powder or your favorite hot stuff.

Make some brown rice to pour the curry on and yum, it's done when you say so.

Then, I needed some of the flat bread you get when you go to the Indian food restaurants, so I had to google soda bread because I couldn't wait for any yeast type breads...

So--make some bread to dip in your curry:
3 C flour
1 C soy milk w/ 1 T apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar to sour it up)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour in the sour milk--I had to add about 1/4 c water for mine to get a nice soft dough.
Roll it out in a circle that will fit in the bottom of your fry pan.  Heat up your pan on medium and throw that circle in there and let it cook for a few minutes.  When I flipped mine over I gave it a brush of butter (BAD vegan)and some garlic salt.

Serve with your curry and rice and embrace your garlic breath!!

I always forget to take pictures--I'll do better next time!

Friday, November 29, 2013

I hate going to the doctor.  First of all they have to weigh you.  I would rather tell them what I weighed that morning, naked, on my scale that loves me; not clothed,  on the evil doctor scale that adds the extra 10 lbs every time I twitch trying to balance on one foot to make me lighter.  I wonder what they would do if I started taking all my clothes off?  I already take everything off that isn't offensive, like my shoes, extra sweater, earrings...

Then after the doctor, well the PA since I don't like my Dr very much, asks me if I've been taking my meds, he sends me out and the blood suckers take at least 1000 vials of blood.  There used to be two awesome nurses that took my blood, but one day, there were NEW nurses, who had only taken blood 2 times before taking mine, maybe 4 times, but not much more.  One nurse wasn't too bad, but it hurt like the dickens when she shoved the needle home.  BUT the next time, I got the nurse who looked like she crawled out of bed in her scrubs.  There are just some people that no matter how hard they try, they just look like they were rode hard and put up wet.  Now that probably was a little more graphic than what you want to hear/read, but sorry folks, it was accurate.  That nurse was one of them.  She was a BIG girl, but who am I to say anything, I'm no petite little thing, but she was slovenly.  My regular nurse was nowhere to be seen and "Hulk-a-rella" was closing in.  I figured, how bad could it be...oh snap!  It was worse!

First she had trouble finding my vein, so that hurt.  Then she found it--oh yeah, did she ever--and then a minute or two later said, "Your vein is collapsing."  Ok, that doesn't sound good.  She collapsed my freakin' vein.  I could lose an arm with crap like that going on!  Would that manufacture an embolism that could go straight to my heart?  My brain?  My lungs?????  After that pronouncement, she started taking the needle and digging around in my arm!!  Did she think she would hit another vein that hadn't collapsed? The next day my arm was purple!  And when I went in next, I told my regular nurse that I would walk out the door if that girl tried to take my blood again.  I'm surprised my natural New England sarcasm didn't come out and tell her to take that needle and shove it where the sun didn't shine.  I've become "nice" living in Utah.  Pity that...

My next appointment is December 6th.  More to come.  Hopefully my numbers will be good with all the plants I've been eating!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving will be my biggest Vegan test.  The veggies are drenched in butter, Velveeta, and Ritz crackers.  The fruit doesn't fair much better with the Cool Whip, cottage cheese, with the dry Jello mixed in.  I mean really, who thinks of stuff like that?  It's almost like, who thought that crushing up Advil Cold and Sinus would make Meth??  That is some serious thinking!!

For the almost 22 years we've lived in Utah, we always go down to see my husband's family for Thanksgiving.  And this is how it would go.  My two sister-in-laws would make one dish, one would make the veggies and one would make the Jello fruit dish.  Someone would brings rolls.  My mother -in-law would make the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and yams.  We would get there early and help get the tables and chairs set up and help make the yams and potatoes and whatever else needed to get done.  And I would bring, from 2 hours away, all the pies and usually some chips and dip.  I would make lemon, banana cream, cherry, chocolate, and apple, and then find a way for them not to get smooshed in the car.

One year, I was tired of making all the pies, and saw that the catering department at USU was taking orders for pie.  I thought--YAY!  No more hours in the kitchen making the 10 different varieties.  I got  a bunch of different ones, mostly the cream pies like chocolate and lemon.  So after dinner everyone breaks into the pie--AND they were horrible!!!  They must have made them way ahead of time and frozen them--they were grainy and disgusting!!  My daughter told me that I ruined Thanksgiving that year, and she still brings it up.  So I make them all from scratch, except that I buy Marie Calendar pie crusts.  Makes it a little easier!

I will let you in on a little secret.  People LOVE my cherry and blueberry pies.  When we would have our yearly pie auction to raise money for scout camp and girl's camp, those pies would get top dollar, sometimes over $30/pie.  I would buy Marie Calendar pie crusts, cherry and blueberry pie filling from the can and make crumb topping with a cup of flour, 1/2 cup of white sugar, and 1/2 cup of butter--and then the secret ingredient--almond flavoring!  People would beg me to make them.  So be the hero at your Thanksgiving dinner and make a cherry or blueberry pie, but don't buy them from USU catering!!  LOL!

Another one of our family favorites is Sour Cream Lemon pie.  My husband's favorite was Lemon Meringue until I found this beauty.  Thank heavens, because meringue is disgusting!!  I make 2 of these and leave one at my niece's house since she's started having Thanksgiving at her home now that my mom-in-law can't do it.  It's a ton of work!!  I keep inviting them to Logan for Thanksgiving, but no one will make the 2 hour trip!  Go figure!
So here is the luscious Lemon Pie recipe...

Sour Cream Lemon Pie
·         Pastry for single-crust pie (Marie Calendar's)
·         1 cup sugar
·         4 tablespoons cornstarch
·         1 cup milk
·         1/2 cup lemon juice
·         3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
·         1/4 cup butter, cubed
·         1 tablespoon grated lemon peel, I usually skip this part and add a little more lemon juice
·         1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
·         1 cup raspberry jam
·         1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped, with 1 T of vanilla and 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Bake pie shell until golden brown--350 degrees for about 10 mins or so.
In a large microwave safe bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk  and lemon juice and eggs until smooth. Cook in microwave for 2-3 mins        at a time until thickened and bubbly.
Stir in butter, sour cream, and lemon peel.

Take some raspberry jam and put a liberal amount in the cooled pie shell.  Smooth it around the sides and bottom.  Add the lemon filling, then put some plastic wrap on top to prevent that nasty film from forming on the filling and cool in refrigerator.
After pie is cool. Top with whipped cream.

Yes, folks, it's not Vegan, but some of the best things in life aren't!  So forget to pack your bags for that guilt trip and dig in!
Have a safe and fun Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

I enjoy cooking again.  Before veganizing, I would go to the freezer after work and ask myself, "What can I make with hamburger, or chicken?"  And it was always the same boring stuff; spaghetti, tacos, stir fry, meatloaf...same old, same old.  But now, when I go to the fridge, I have a medley of veggies that I can cook up in a million different ways! 

Today was a frustrating day for several reasons.  They're changing things around at USU and I feel like they're taking away things from me and my office-mate that help us help our faculty.  Damn "business model."  That's all I'm going to say about that.  Then driving home from work the damn construction is everywhere you turn.  Soooooo sick of the construction!  So I walk in the door and go hug Manuel, my husband, he asks what's wrong and I say,  "The damn business model..."  So I say I'm going to make dinner and he tells me to go relax for a minute, but chopping all those veggies actually makes me feel better.  A little aggression, chopping therapy, just another reason I like what I'm doing with my life.

So I made my first batch of vegan scones and cookies.  They were really good.  Can't put a pic of the scones on here because they're gone.  And I'm going to go eat the last two cookies.  I don't know if I can post other people's recipes on here, but here's the link for the cookies and scones:

So, needless to say I overdosed on carbs this weekend and paid for it last night and today.  Ugh!  I can't believe I ate the whole thing! 

Tonight, right after I make some delish "Potato Tacos,"  Bridger, my youngest son, calls me up and asks what's for dinner.  So I tell him he can have pot roast left over from last night or some amazing, delicious, potato tacos.  He makes a good decision and decides against the dead elk meat from yesterday--I make meat on Sunday for my deprived carnivores that I live with...So I drive over to his tattoo shop and deliver tacos and chocolate soy milk, I'm such a good mom, and he's getting ready to tattoo someone.  I ask if I can watch, but it must be the non-tattooed, mother aura because he couldn't get his machine to work.  I figured I was jinxing him, so I left.  I'm guessing it started working after I shut the door.

Yep, folks, this is my vida loca!  ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Addendum to my first post.  I didn't have my Reversing Diabetes book with me while I was typing away on the computer so I didn't put down all the information.  Of course after I posted it, I realized I forgot to fix that part.  So here's the info about my life changing book:  Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes.  
Frankly,  I'm not a true Vegan.  I tell people I'm Vegan just to make them squeal, with indignation, disgust, makes me happy to get a rise out of people!  It shows me their true feelings.

I guess I'm called a Flexitarian.  I usually am a strict Vegan, but if I have a bite of turkey, or a pat of butter, I don't go screaming that the world will end.  I need to cook for my family and friends, and if a little slips past my lips, I'm okay with that.  By my calculation, I'm a 95%-100% Vegan, so with that out of the way, I will explain my journey from a meat and cheese loving gal to someone who has made a drastic change for my health.
I don't want to bore you with my childhood but my Momma was from the South, which puts the word "comfort" in comfort food.  If we were happy, we ate, if we were sad, we ate...cookies, pies, bread, my mother was an AMAZING cook!  She baked and cooked from scratch.  One of my good friends would tell me I made "homemade" hamburger helper, I just didn't like cooking out of a box--yuck!

Anyway, my love of carbs started young.  Unfortunately on my Father's side of the family, Type 2 diabetes was a given.  I'm pretty sure all of my siblings have some version of it.  Right now, I'm insulin resistant and my AC1 is all over the place depending on how stressed I was during the months between my doctor appointments.  I am on several meds for diabetes and high cholesterol.  I hate taking pills!  I hate how I felt, a general blah feeling.  Didn't feel good--ever!  My kids would say to me, "Mom, you are always sick, you never feel well."  And I would think, "That's not true, I believe I felt fine for about 15 minutes yesterday afternoon!"  I was denying it, like we all do when we know what we should be doing, and don't want to do it. 
Then I had the cutest, most amazing, beautiful, grandkids!!  For a long time I watched one of them almost every weekend.  I loved it, but I was exhausted!  Then my daughter got married in September.  Wow, that whole month at work, I could not concentrate or get much done.  The wedding was an excuse, it was mostly because I didn't feel well and couldn't concentrate on anything!  And because I was stressed, I ate my carb-y comfort foods!

After my daughter's beautiful wedding, my oldest brother got really ill.  I went up to visit him because his wife got a job out of state and he was there alone, feeling like crap!  He has had diabetes for years, and after seeing what bad shape he was in and how he struggled, I knew I needed to change my life.  He is only 10 years older than I am, and though he has had more struggles with illness than I probably will ever have, I didn't want to go down that road! 

When I came back from my visit I was telling my friend at work about how ill he was.  Take note, I work in the Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Science Department at Utah State University.  My friend works in a division of the department called "Food $ense."  If I have any questions about diet or nutrition, I just ask anyone walking around our building!
Anyway, she immediately went on Amazon and bought me a book called "Reversing Diabetes" by ...  I decided that weekend to go Vegan. 
After getting the book, the next day was Saturday.  Ok, no eggs and bacon for breakfast for me!  So I had oatmeal with apples, not too bad.  But then for lunch, I wasn't sure what to eat.  I had wheat tortillas and everything to make fajitas, but what are fajitas except for onions, peppers and horror of horrors--MEAT!!  So I cooked up some onions, green peppers, and I still had eggplant from my garden, so I threw some of that in there.  Seasoned it up and rolled it into a tortilla--FAIL!!  It was not very tasty!  I may like it better now, and I know better what to add in to make it taste better, like some beans and brown rice...

So today is my one month anniversary as a Vegan!  I've lost 10 lbs and feel so much better.  I think the thing I love about this lifestyle is when I tell other people who have lived this lifestyle for years that I eat cheese or some meat once in a while, or that by my calculations I'm a 95% Vegan, they think I'm doing an amazing job!  Talk to someone about a diet you're on and that you cheat, the guilt is overwhelming, and then eventually you give up!  Well, that was how my diets had gone for the last 30 years!

I've decided to bring you along with me on my journey.  And probably about all of you will go..."I can't give up my meat and dairy products!!!!" I hear you!  That was me 5 weeks ago!  And I'm not writing this to expect you to.  One of our faculty in our department gave me the idea, so here I go, ready or not!