Category Archives: How We Eat

Money Saving Monday–A Crunchy Kitchen Essential!

Readers, I’m probably never going to give you a “What’s in my kitchen!” post, because it will leave you incredibly confused. I live in a household of three adults, one vegan, one vegetarian, and one meat eater. So while some things, like the bunches of kale, or the entire section of my cupboard devoted to beans, will make sense, things like Hamburger Helper, canned ham, and stacks of frozen, ground “beef” will not. I do think, though, it’s important that you know a few items I can’t live without. Since today is Money Saving Monday, this is the perfect day to talk about the one thing I panic over if I can’t find it–unsweetened applesauce.

This stuff is insane, guys! Unsweetened applesauce is more than just a tasty treat to give your kid so she’ll shut up while you try to get the dishes done, it’s an absolute necessity in vegan and low fat baking. Whenever a recipe calls for an egg, you just mix 1/4 cup of applesauce with about 1/2 tsp of baking powder, and voila, you have an egg. In fact, you can replace a good bit of the oil many recipes call for with applesauce and end up with a much lighter, but still moist, baked good. One of my favorite brownie recipes omits all the oil and replaces it with applesauce, and you can’t tell the difference!

Applesauce is a cheap eat, at around $1.80 for a giant jar of it. It keeps in your cabinets for a long time, so when it’s on sale stock up on it for super cheap (I’m a big fan of the buy one, get one sales, myself). It’s good to have one jar opened in the fridge, for immediate use, and one sealed in your cabinet, for when you’re in a bind. All of my cakes and cookies require the stuff, and I think if you’ve baked them, you’ll agree, applesauce does the trick quite nicely!

Watch out for applesauce with added sugar. The sugar is completely unnecessary, as applesauce is naturally very sweet, but companies add it in because it tends to sell better. I promise, though, that you will not know the difference, especially if you are baking with it. At that, if you sprinkle in some cinnamon, your kids probably won’t know the difference either!

Sure, you could mash a banana up and use that as an egg instead, but for $1.80 a jar you get a fake egg that isn’t going to alter the flavor of your baked good AND won’t disintegrate into something unrecognizable on top of your fridge in a few days. Plus, it shuts the little ones up pretty darn fast when they’re begging for sweets.

Is it as good for you as an apple? No. Apples have fiber and more vitamins overall. Whole fruit ALWAYS beats purees and juices. What it is, is a low fat alternative to the oil and eggs you were going to throw into your banana bread, so it’s worth a try. Trust me guys, it’s good stuff.

Happy Monday readers! Yummy recipes are up ahead for the week, but today I want you to think long and hard about how good applesauce is, and then try one of my muffin recipes. It will be your best applesauce experience ever, promise!

Money Saving Monday–Dinner When You Can’t Be Home

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At three fifteen today, Mike came home and found that on the counter. Naturally, he was very confused.

But, before I get into what’s in that pan I’m going to explain why it’s there. Twice a week I’m not home for dinner. Sometimes I’ll have something in the slow cooker, others they’ll reheat something I cooked earlier in the day, and on rare occasion they’ll eat leftovers. Unfortunately, I leave the house at 1:30 PM on those days and won’t be back again until 10PM (since I hit the gym after class, most nights). Sure, it’s only twice a week, but they can’t eat that much slow cooker soup happily, I don’t particularly feel like spending my few free hours preparing a meal I probably won’t get to eat, and Mike usually has thirds of whatever I cooked so we almost never have leftovers. As a result, a lot of the time I leave Mike to fend for himself.

Mike has come up with a few strategies to deal with what has become known as “bad dinner night.” One of them is beans and rice and a steamed whatever vegetable we have on hand. If he’s feeling fancy, he’ll throw some soy sauce on top of it. According to Mike, this is what they eat most nights I’m not home.

Except Olive always rats him out later and tells me that they had what she assumes is “Daddy’s favorite food.”

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This isn’t a picture of their dinner. This is actually a picture of the dinner we had for our two year anniversary. Make of that what you will.

Nice try, Mike.

Don’t get me wrong, as far as fast food goes they could be doing a lot worse than Chipotle. They would also, however, be spending a LOT less, so a solution had to be created if I wasn’t going to spend an hour preparing an entire meal for them and he wasn’t going to spend our life savings (and lifetime quota for sodium) in one quarter.

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I had to get a bit creative.

Obviously, I didn’t have time to prepare much and I didn’t want to leave something simmering on the stove at 1:30 PM for him to come home to and feel obligated to eat that very instant, but I had time to chop some veggies.

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And leave some instructions.

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Naturally, when he got home he was confused.

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But he figured it out.

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I’m sure you probably wouldn’t have had to actually put the spices in a container with the other ingredients, but I know Mike. They had to at least be in the vicinity of his cooking space or he’d have forgotten all about them, instructions or not. This had the added benefit of teaching him a few basic cooking skills without me hovering around the whole time, ready to “save the meal” at any given moment.

For someone who doesn’t cook often a recipe from a cookbook is a giant, foreboding, mess. Half the time they don’t have the insight necessary to know they need to read ahead in the recipe. This way, each ingredient had a number and an instruction and he could literally go from A to B without needing to prepare something. He also didn’t have to blow a gasket trying to remember how to dice carrots. Yes. This is actually a legitimate concern.

Moms (and dads who cook for that matter) have to work, it’s a natural part of life for most people. Even if they don’t, sometimes they just can’t be home. Why shouldn’t their families still eat well when they aren’t able to be there? I see this as a perfect solution for both the kitchen inept spouse and the pizza ordering babysitter. This time I used soup, but I could see this working really well with casseroles and other foods. Put out a container of cooked rice already measured, some spices with instructions, the proper amount of fake cheese, nutritional yeast, veggies, etc, and a dish with the heating instructions written on it, and within a few minutes you have it prepared, and they can have it cooking. Cooperation goes a long way in a busy, crunchy, and broke house. Though it does hurt the hip factor quite a bit.

After ten minutes Mike had this simmering on the stove, with no help from me at all (that would have been cheating, and this was for science!), and you know what? It turned out pretty good.

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Especially with the cornbread I whipped up. (Yes, that’s a teaser.)

What’s that? You want the soup recipe, too? Ugh, you whiners.

Split Pea Soup of Spousal Assistance
1 lb split peas
8 cups vegetable broth
1 dash liquid smoke
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp poultry seasoning (minus the bird, of course)
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 a sweet onion, chopped

In the bottom of a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and saute until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, of until peas are soft, mushy, and heavenly.

I promise, you won’t miss the ham, especially since we added some yummy smoke flavor. It tastes like happy.

And now, Mike totally knows how to make it without my help.

I think this is a win for household cooks everywhere, yes?

Money Saving Monday: Tofu–Why You Need to Stop Freaking Out About It

How was your weekend, readers? Did you have a nice Holiday? We had a lovely series of events here. Saturday, Mike and I celebrated two years of happiness. We celebrated with ice cream! Then Sunday came and it was Easter! We celebrated with candy! Unfortunately, Easter candy is my favorite genre of candy (and understandably so!) and ice cream is my favorite dessert so I may have…overindulged…a little bit…I never want to look at candy again. Candy, you and I (and my tummy) are enemies! Boo candy!

(I was just kidding baby, I still love you, don’t be like that.)

Anyway, I’m not in the mood AT ALL for sweets, so today, and likely for the week, my blog leans towards savory. Today, I’m going to talk about one of the cheapest dinner (or lunch, or breakfast, or–dare I say it–dessert) options available–tofu. Oh my LORD you guys HATE that stuff, don’t you? I mean, I hear about it all the time. The second you tell someone you’re a vegetarian you get a “Oh wow, I’d totally do that but I HATE tofu!”

Some of you may have noticed the lack of tofu recipes on my blog. A few of you have even asked why there are no tofu recipes when I feature weird things like tempeh. Truth be told, we just don’t eat a whole lot of it in our house. It’s not because it’s expensive (four to five servings is only $2 at most stores), nor is it that I don’t like the taste. The reason we never have it is because it expires, and if I don’t know for CERTAIN that I’m not going to eat something THIS WEEK then I just tend to forget it’s around.

Tofu is so versatile, cheap, and yummy though (when cooked properly) that I’m beginning to rethink my soy policy. I’m beginning to think I could actively plan a tofu meal a week. Maybe I’ll even share a few with you?

So, here are some facts about tofu.

1. There are different types: silken, soft, firm, and extra firm. Silken works really well blended into smoothies, soups, desserts, dips, and sauces. Soft tofu makes the tastiest and easiest tofu scramble in the universe. Firm and extra firm are often what you run into at a Chinese restaurant and want homestyle bean curd (drooooooool). Typically, if you want to stir fry or bake it and serve it with dinner, you’ll be using firm or extra firm. Both are tasty.
2. Firm and extra firm tofu usually have to be pressed. Why? Because they’re packed in water and in order for your tofu to absorb the flavor of whatever sauce or marinade you’re using, you’re going to want to press it to get the water out first. Some people have a fancy device called a “tofu press.” Me? I go old school. Really, really, really old school.

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Thank you, Ancient Greek book, for finally becoming useful.

Take a plate, throw your tofu on it, throw another plate on top and find the biggest, heaviest, most pretentious book in your house (we used to use the complete Chronicles of Narnia) to put on top. You can let it sit anywhere from 30 min to 1 hour, but I always prefer to go the hour route to get every last bit of juice gone. Then I drain it off and marinade it.
3. You should probably marinade it. You don’t have to, but it will taste a lot like a sponge if you don’t. I’m not kidding. It will be GROSS. (You could also bread, batter, or deep fry it, but those aren’t really the most healthful options.) So, chop up your pressed tofu to it’s desired size, and throw one of these marinades over it and let it soak in.
Awesome marinades:
Barbeque Sauce (not kidding. It’s amazing)
Taco Sauce (I’m serious!)
Teriyaki Sauce (no brainer!)
Soy Sauce
And more!
Let those marinades soak into your tofu for AT LEAST an hour, or overnight for best results.
4. Bake it! I love baking my tofu. I hardly ever fry it if I can help it, baking it is so easy and healthy. Just pop those little cutlets (or dice, or blobs, or whatever) on a lightly greased baking sheet (they WILL stick) at 350 for about 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Tada! You have baked tofu. Yum, yum, yum.
5. Rice Schmice. You don’t need rice for tofu. You could just as easily…
…eat it in a taco.
…have it as a sandwich.
…eat it with some pita.
…gnaw on it by itself for a snack.
…throw it in a wrap.
…or have it over noodles.
Tofu should NOT be relegated to stir fry!

Seriously, fifty cents a person feeds at least four people a serving of protein and nutrients, as well as whatever fortifications are added, and it is as easy as pressing, picking a marinade, and baking. Give it a try! It’s really not nearly as icky as you think and it keeps great (after you cook it).

Have a good week guys. Expect yummy recipes, soon!

Money Saving Monday–You Need to Buy a Lunch Box

Readers, I’m not going to lie, I hate buying lunch if I’m not going to eat it with other people. I have no idea why this is, though I have some theories.

Theory One: As a former overweight child, teen, and adult, I always assume that people are watching me eat. Judging me. Without my wall of people who love me and are eating far grosser things than whatever I picked out from the menu (Mike) I have no buffer for their criticisms. “Oh, she bought her lunch? And she’s eating THAT? Oh, she should NOT be eating that.” At least when I pack my lunch, the “Oh my god, what is she eating?” question becomes legitimate, since I currently have a snack bag that looks like this: Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
It’s entirely likely that I could sell this to an idiot freshman for like thirty bucks.

Theory Two: Pretty much anything I could buy is either 1.Expensive 2.Unhealthy or 3.Gross. Typically, since I am a college student, it will be any random combination of the three. Oh yes, I could buy that Dorito taco thing all the commercials are talking about it, but the price would be very dear. Very, very dear. To my colon. Owie.

Do you see my problem? It’s not a good problem. I have the options of 1.Going Hungry and 2.Trying my luck at whatever slop is being served in my general vicinity while simultaneously panicking that everyone is watching me eat (because, you know, people do that), which is bad because I’m almost certainly going to have some gastrointestinal distress from whatever it is I’m eating any minute now, making it a bad time for everyone and her mom to be watching me.

I’m a hoot a dinner parties.

That being said, I’m a big believer in packing your own lunch. It gives you the ultimate control over both your budget and you nutrition. When you pack a lunch you get to choose:

1. How much you will spend. The rates for the things you have in your fridge are not subject to anything, so you know how much that lunch will cost you. You have no idea what the cafeteria or local restaurant is going to charge you day to day. Rates at the restaurants change, but your PBJ will be as reliable as the gastrointestinal distress caused by eating anything that combines the words “dorito” and “taco.”

2. What you will eat. It is so, so easy to not eat a Dorito Taco in your kitchen, because you don’t have any. At least, I really hope you don’t. The same can not be said for the real world. Picture this–you are on break and starving and you have nothing to hold you over till dinner later. You duck into the closest restaurant you can find and look over the menu. You find you are somehow craving the spice of a flavored tortilla chip as well as the savoriness of what may or may not be “meat”. Hey, they have just that on the menu! Perfect!

Packing your lunch can take some extra time, but in my house it’s usually as easy as throwing whatever leftovers we had from the night before into some containers and going on my merry way. In a matter of minutes I saved myself $2 and some severe pain from not stopping at my local Taco Bell.

(Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for Taco Bell, but that time is sometime after the bars close and that place is wherever your DD is willing to take you.)

For those of you complaining about the extra dishes from packing your own lunch, I don’t want to hear it! You jerks probably have dishwashers and I’ve been forced to do my own for the past fourteen years! Don’t you talk to me about dishes!

These lunches don’t have to be boring, though! I would be lying if I said I didn’t eat a LOT of PB&J for packed lunches, but I certainly don’t eat them every day! Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Pack up last night’s leftovers. Easiest lunch ever.
2. Make some granola bars to have on hand whenever hunger hits but you shouldn’t buy chips.
3. Try this sandwich filling.
4. Or don’t have a sandwich at all and pack one of these with some nuts, chopped veggies, and fruit.
5. Take a whole wheat hot dog bun. Slather it with peanut butter and place a banana where the hot dog would normally go. Best. Vegan. Hot Dog. Ever.
6. This is the smartest way to pack a salad I’ve ever seen.
7. Pack a boatload of snacks! My favorite lunches are usually things like crackers, veggies, hummus (for the dipping) and fruit. None of those are “meal time” foods, but why should they have to be? A well balanced snack makes for an awesome well balanced meal.
8. Don’t forget your treat. 🙂

Honestly, packing is as easy or hard as you make it, and as boring as fun as you make it. Just make sure that whatever you’re making, it’s balanced, will give you enough energy, and is satisfying. Because god help us, there are Dorito Tacos in the world.

Ashley Week Part Two–or, “Why You Should Marry Your Slow Cooker”

Readers, you may have noticed I don’t usually post on Tuesdays. I have a large number of excuses for this, as Tuesday, without fail, seems to be the busiest day of my week. My last quarter as a Classics student, Tuesday was the day I had class until four (language classes, no less) then came home to a “No Mike” house where I needed to do mom stuff and cook dinner. Also, Tuesday has always been the day my band rehearses. So yeah, you’re not always going to get a post on Tuesday. My apologies.

The one thing Tuesday has taught me to appreciate however, is the beauty of a slow cooker (and which pizza places have friendly drivers). You see, with a crock pot you can just throw a bunch of crap into your pot and come out with very, very tasty food without any supervision. After a long, horrible day, it’s really nice to come home to a heavenly smelling kitchen, knowing you put in absolutely no effort for it to get there.

Crock Pots have kind of a weird place in the vegetarian world. Almost all of us own one, and typically it’s a throwback from the days when we used to buy crappy cheap meat that the crock pot would turn into moist, tender, fall off the bone flesh. These are weird memories for me, because now the previous sentence makes me gag a bit. At any rate, when we were meat eaters our crock pots were our best friends.

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This guy is my crock pot. When I got him, I was most excited that I could fit an entire chicken inside. When I stopped eating anything that used to move of it’s own volition I stopped using my crock pot. That is, until I realized that beans are a lot easier to cook when you don’t have to watch them all day.

So, for Gluten Free/Weight Watchers/Ashley Week, I bring you my favorite bean soup, cooked for six hours while I went about my day and gobbled up by my family when I got home.

Pinto Bean Soup–Slow Cooker Edition
Serves 8
2 cups dry pinto beans
6 cups veggie stock
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 cups brown rice, cooked (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)

Throw everything but the rice in your slow cooker. Set the slow cooker for about six hours. You may notice I didn’t presoak the beans. That is because I am so lazy it causes people physical pain to look at me. If you DO soak those bad boys you’ll cut the cooking time down quite a bit, but it really doesn’t matter. Also, I usually chop up half a sweet onion and chuck that in, too. You can totally do that, but onions make one person in my home and at least one person in Ashley’s home kind of gassy, so I decided not to tempt fate (not that all those beans are going to help matters, any). You could also throw in a few bell peppers as well, but I only like to do that for the last hour so they don’t become mushy beyond all recognition, so if you don’t have time, leave them out.

At the end of six hours it will be soupy, mushy, and so ridiculously yummy. You can eat it as a soup with some cornbread or the “cheese” biscuits I’m this close to perfecting and it will be wonderful.

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That’s how Ollie ate it, and she downed the entire bowl. Point–Mommy.

But for Ashley, and how we usually eat it out of sheer laziness and ability to conjure brown rice at will (or rather, we keep some in our fridge for emergencies/bouts of ravenous hunger), I suggest ladling it over a half a cup of rice.

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That’s what it looks like after you eat half of it and go, “Oh crap, I have to post that to my blog!” You’ll also notice that I favor hot sauce on my soups.

Either way you eat it, pair it with a steamed veggie or salad and you have yourself a meal!

Mike had seconds, again, and I took an extra bowl to Ashley at her work for her to have for lunch the next day. She loved it! How do I know? Because she sent me back a picture of a completely empty container. I’d say that’s a win!

Prep Time: Five Minutes
Cook time: Six hours in a slow cooker
Points Plus (for one serving with rice): 7

Hey Ashley, I’m gonna need you to clean that container.

A Tale of Two Strange Foods (Currently in my Kitchen)

I try to keep it simple for you guys when I post recipes, honestly I do. Still, when you’re new to the world of healthy cooking, vegetarian cooking, or the terrifying depths of vegan cooking you will almost always run into weird ingredients that you’ve never heard of. The first time I made a vegetarian meal I was stuck for hours looking for something called “Garam Masala.” I had no idea what it was, what it would look like, or where I would find it in the grocery store. Let my downfall be your gain because I come to you older, wiser, and with the knowledge that it is a mixture of traditional Indian spices that you can find in the spice section of most grocery stores before the garlic powder. But we aren’t making Indian food, yet. (Unless you guys want a lentil soup recipe, because I’m completely down for posting that oldie but goodie for you guys whenever you want it).

The truth of the matter is with new recipes, even on my site, you’re going to run into bizarre foods that you’ve never dreamed of encountering in your lifetime. Some of these are worth the time and money to find and have in your house, and others aren’t. Let’s begin with two that are in my kitchen right now, and I in fact purchased today.

Scary Sounding Food 1–Kombucha
Many of you know this about me, but for those who don’t, I know my tea. I can taste right away what you’ve brewed, the quality, whether or not you burned it, and what you sweetened it with. This is not a point of pride, so much as a fact. A fact that I’ve clearly wasted my life. Regrets aside, I’ll try almost anything with the word “tea” in it. Kombucha is tea that has been fermented, which gives it an acidic taste in addition to whatever was added to the finished product (if you want it mango flavored, for instance).

So, after hearing vegan blogger after vegan blogger raving about the stuff being their “essential kitchen item”, I decided to give it the old college try. I found it easily enough at Whole Foods in the drink section. For my first attempt, I went with “guava” flavor. This may have been in part because the bottle was pink, and naturally, pink things taste yummy. No matter, I took a few sips, followed by a few more enthusiastic sips, and left the bottle half full. The remainder is hanging out in fridge. The verdict? It’s not bad. Definitely a bit bubbly, which is great since I almost never drink sodas these days. It reminded me a bit of a wine cooler, um…not that I’ve ever had one of those…or a hard cider. It was good, for sure.

Is it the end all be all of a healthy kitchen? Look, at the end of the day it’s fizzy tea water. The health claims it makes have little scientific bearing so until I see some hard research I can’t justify dropping three bucks for a bottle of the stuff. Oh, did I mention that it was three bucks for an entire bottle? Well…it is! Want something cheaper that’s similar? Buy yourself some sparkling water, brew your favorite tea and combine the two. If you’re feeling peppy you can add a splash of your favorite juice. Is it as healthy for you? I have no idea, but it doesn’t matter how healthy something is if you can’t afford to ever drink the stuff.

Scary Sounding Food 2–Nutritional Yeast
It wasn’t until after I suggested you use it a few times in recipes such as Instant Gratification-role that I realized that most likely half of my readers have no idea what this stuff is. Nutritional yeast is a…thing…that you buy in the bulk food section of a natural foods store. Officially it’s a deactivated yeast that’s had some stuff done to it involving beet molasses and sugarcane. It’s all very, very scientific. It’s full of vitamins and minerals, high in protein (8 grams for TWO measly tablespoons! How great is that?) and most are even B12 fortified, which is great since that is the only vitamin that can be tricky for the average vegan to get. It tastes a bit cheesy and has a lovely “umami” flavor that many people miss when they give up red meat.

You can use it all sorts of ways. In our house we use it to top pasta, in salad dressings, on salads, on top of vegetables, in our mac n’ “cheese”, in various sauces, and sometimes baked into breads (I’m working on those damn cheddar biscuits and SOME DAY by god I will get them right!). I always keep a little container of it on my counter for when emergency cheese themed snacking must occur.

So, is it worth the cash? Well, a pound of it costs around $8, which sounds a bit pricy. What you won’t realize until you actually try to weigh it out is that you will have completely filled a bag with it before you reach that pound. It weighs NOTHING. Enough nutritional yeast to feed a ravenous family of three (more like five if you include the fact that we have dinner guests ALL THE TIME) for a month costs us five bucks. I can afford five bucks for a month’s worth of cheesy goodness.

And those are two of the weird items in my kitchen right now. One, totally worth your money, the other, I’m not so sure. The good news is now you know what they are, and where to find them if you find yourself in dire need of one someday. If you have questions about other scary sounding ingredients that might be on your shopping list, fire away, because chances are I’ve looked for it. And if I looked for it, chances are that I’ve had at least two different grocers tell me where to find it. The things I do for food!

What weird ingredients have you encountered in your quest to eat healthier?

Instant Gratification-role

Sometimes, you want to just give your family twenty bucks and send them to Pizza Hut. At the same time, you aren’t angry with your family…this time…and you still want them to eat well and avoid whatever monstrosity their poor judgement would lead them to. You just really don’t want to cook again. Today was one of those days.

Now, don’t get me wrong readers, I love cooking for my family. It’s not uncommon here to eat three hot meals a day, if I have the time. Food is a priority in my house, and I try my best to create the time necessary to make sure we get to eat a few special meals, even if it’s just me for the night. But damn it all to hell if I don’t live in that kitchen most days, and the idea of cooking AND washing dishes sounded awful.

This morning, I solved the problem with peanut butter toast and fruit.

Time spent in the kitchen: 5 minutes (including coffee)

For lunch Ollie and I had fruit, veggies, and peanut butter sandwiches.

Time spent in kitchen: 7 minutes. Peanut butter ingested: Probably too much.

Dinner was trickier. I knew my family wouldn’t go for any more peanut butter and I really wasn’t up for the drive to Loving Hut or Northstar. (Northstar is a local place, but you might have a Loving Hut nearby. It’s yummy, but I’m not going to lie, the owner might be a cult leader, we’re not sure.) At the same time, the idea of hanging out in my kitchen for an hour meticulously cooking god knows what just to give them a nutritious meal just sucked. I could not get behind getting behind my oven today. Call it late onset feminism.

Back in the old days, I’d have solved this problem by dumping some cream of mushroom soup on some rice and veggies, throwing in a cup of cheese, and calling it a day. We don’t do that any more, and you shouldn’t either. I needed an equally quick casserole that wasn’t going to cause us horrible pain upon leaving our bodies (cheese makes you constipated, it’s a poop joke), I needed some healthy Instant Gratification-role.

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Time in the kitchen: 20 minutes.

Before I tell you the recipe, let me just say this–I wrote this purposefully with the intention of you being able to change it. Want to use dairy cheese and milk? Go ahead, if you need to. Don’t have nutritional yeast? Swap if for Parmesan cheese or just skip it. Use whatever kind of beans you want OR use crumbled tempeh or tofu. Skip the zucchini and chop up some broccoli or peas. Seriously–add whatever you want. This is like a really, really awesome dress. You can pair it with whatever sweaters or jewelry you feel like wearing and it will always be great.

Anyway, enough stupid similes.

Instant Gratification-role
2 cups rice, cooked (use broth instead of water)
1 15 oz cans of black eyed peas
1 zucchini, diced
1/4 cup non dairy milk
1/2 cup non dairy cheddar style cheese (I used Daiya, but Vegan Gourmet is pretty good too. Buy whatever is cheap.)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Ok, pay close attention to all the instructions because this is going to get tricky. Put all of those ingredients in a bowl. Mix them. Put it in a casserole dish or individual ramekins (if you’re fancy). Bake for about 15 minutes.

Give it to the ingrates.
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And savor. You’ve earned it. After all, it took you a whole twenty minutes to make. 🙂
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It’s cheesy, it’s warm, it’s comforting and it’s simple. It’s everything a casserole should be and what’s more–it’s healthy! Hopefully this will get dinner on your plate sooner and your ass out of the kitchen.

Because damn, I spend too much time in there.