Money Saving Monday–Meet Ashley

This is Ashley.
Photobucket

I realize that this is not a “real” picture, but I assure you that the likeness is uncanny.

Ashley and I are a lot alike. We’re both funny, ridiculous people, we both love to sing, we both have worked for one of the circles of retail hell, we have a ridiculous love of karaoke, we went to the same high school, and we were briefly in the same department for college (woo music school dropouts!). We are friends because of these similarities.

The similarities stop there, though. She’s an excellent dresser and I own one pair of over sized dress pants. Her shoe collection is the size of my kitchen, and she eats meat and dairy gladly. Also, she has what I can only describe as a disgusting love of Kelly Clarkson. We are friends because of these differences.

Our dietary differences haven’t caused us any real problems. She’s not particularly picky and we don’t eat out together a whole lot, anyway. Still, I was shocked when she texted me the other day asking for vegetarian recipes. Ashley loves meat, really. It’s not to say that she won’t eat anything I cook for her but chicken breast and tuna might as well be their own food group she likes them so much. So why would she be asking me for recipes?

Turns out, miss Ashley is on Weight Watchers and veggies have no points. Also turns out that she’s realized that as far as healthy proteins go, my can of beans is a hell of a lot cheaper than a chicken breast–a big deal since she recently purchased an amazing new car. So right now she wants to try my way of eating for a little bit. How could I possibly deny her?

There are just a few problems.

1. I have no idea how Weight Watchers works. Seriously, this “points” thing is complete Greek. Thankfully that was an easy enough problem to solve, since there was a handy little calculator on the internet.
2. Ashley has Celiac’s Disease. This means NO gluten. Unfortunately, since I am a vegetarian, that became a bit limiting since I rely on grains quite a bit to get certain nutrients.

Neither of these were impossible problems to deal with and so I bring you–Ashley Week!! (Let the record state that I tried to come up with a better name, but here we are.) For the entire week I will be posting a new recipe each night that will be vegan, gluten free, cheap, and delicious. At the end of the week, Ashley will give me feedback about the different recipes and which ones were her favorites (in theory. It might be more like next week.) Furthermore, for this week and this week only, I’ll be calculating points values for you.

Why this week only, you might ask? Well, because I don’t think any of you guys need Weight Watchers. I think you’re beautiful as you are. I just want you to start treating yourself better by eating better. And I want you to be able to do it without spending tons of money and calculating points or calories for the rest of your lives.

BUT, soapbox aside, if you’re going to do a diet, this is definitely the way to go, because at least it accounts for proper nutrition. Just know that you’re going to have to use this and this to calculate the points of my recipes in the future. I give you full permission. 🙂

So, without further delay, I bring you…

Ashley Week, Recipe 1–Curry Style Chickpeas and Rice

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This is an easy and quick recipe that benefits from the rice being made ahead of time. It should make between four and six servings and the leftovers make an excellent sack lunch the next day, as Mike will attest to, since he ate all of the leftovers. It costs almost nothing to make, so long as you have a few basic spices on hand, and your dollar stretches further if you save the left overs and eat them the next day. You don’t have Garam Masala on hand? Don’t worry too much, just add a little more curry powder and some red pepper. It won’t be perfect, but it should take care of the heat it adds.

2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 servings of brown rice, cooked in vegetable stock
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional but recommended)
1 tbs Braggs liquid aminos OR tamari (thanks Corinne 🙂 )
2-3 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 cup raisins

In a large skillet, add everything BUT the rice and raisins and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the rice and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in the raisins and serve.

I’m legitimately sorry about the almond milk. I know that stuff isn’t cheap, really I do. If you make this recipe without it, it will still be tasty, just less creamy. The reason I added it is for richness, and originally it was going to be lite coconut milk. Unfortunately, that stuff is 2.50 per can. You can get 8 servings of Almond Milk for that price! Besides, at 35 calories per cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk, I think those of you watching for these things ought to give it a try, if you’re able.

If you’re feeling peppy you can add veggies while it’s cooking–some good options are peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. Make sure you give them time to simmer in the tomato mixture until they’re soft enough for your liking. Otherwise, serve this with a salad or some steamed veggies and you have yourself a delicious, gluten free, complete meal that took no time to make and tastes like happiness. My family ate the crap out of this stuff, even Olive. Mike loved it so much that he got thirds and took the rest of it with him to work the next day. I’d call that a seal of approval!

Total time: 20-30 minutes
Points Plus Value: 6

Eat, enjoy, and know that you’re having something that is more healthy, nutritious, satisfying, and tasty than any frozen crap you can get a hold of–and was cheaper to boot! Happy Monday!

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4 responses »

  1. Make sure you use Tamari – not actual soy sauce – soy sauce has gluten in it!!!! If you need any suggestions, I’m happy to offer some of my recipes, I currently can’t eat dairy, soy, or wheat for Alex’s protein intolerances, so most of what I eat is vegan and gluten free.

    This looks delicious, btw, I think I’m adding it to the menu next week.

    • That’s fair. You can’t taste the “hey I’m almond milk!” aftertaste in smoothies. Also, I pretty well exclusively bake with it. If you want, you can substitute coconut milk (the canned kind) for the almond milk or even soy, though the soy might add a weird sweetness.

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