Tag Archives: dairy free

Money Saving Monday–Welcome Back Courtney!

I’m back readers. Did you miss me during my vacation?

What’s that? You didn’t know I was taking a vacation? Shame! You’d have heard about it if you liked me on Facebook. Tsk tsk.

In reality, it wasn’t much of a vacation, since it was only a break from blogging. We were so busy, it was stupid. We had a lot going on. Here’s a recap for those of you not in the know:

We went to the zoo.

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I reunited with old friends, and saw some new ones.

We played hide and seek…kind of.

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I started a new job.

We celebrated Father’s Day with giant batches of brownies and our own…unique kinds of presents.

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We wore chef hats and fancy aprons.

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(Thank you Momma Kamper)

Olive made friends with some super heroes.

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I went to Comfest (giant festival we have in Columbus every year) for music, tie dye, and art.

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Someone turned five.

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And everyone ate pink cupcakes. Pink cupcakes that were AMAZING, I might add. Yes, you can have the recipe, but no, not today. I didn’t get to take any pictures of the process OR the cupcakes, due to the frightening speed in which they disappeared. I was enthusiastically told that they were the greatest thing I had ever baked. Later guys, you can have it later.

Besides, a whole week of comfort food and sweets and I’m done. When we grilled our dinner, we kept it simple–vegetables, corn, and baked beans. Easy, healthy, nourishing, delicious. Except there was just one problem. I didn’t have any dessert, energy, or cupcakes (those of you who ate more than one, I’m looking at YOU, jerks! Didn’t you know I was going to have cupcake breakfast?).

So we had apples. Because no matter how tired, broke, or sweet deprived I am, I always have apples, and they’ve never let me down.

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Grilled Apples
Serves Four
2 Apples
Cinnamon, to taste
Ginger, to taste
Blueberries, to garnish
Sugar (optional)

Cut the apples in half. Remove the core with a paring knife OR, if you’re my mother and managed to deeply cut yourself on tongs last week, a dull spoon, some elbow grease, and a lot of determination. A melon baller would probably also work fine.

Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, if using (you don’t need to, I think they’re amazing as is. But for a tart baking apple, a bit might help). Place the apples, cut side up, on the grill until they start to look soft. Turn them over for about a minute to cook the cut side. Remove from grill, fill cavities with blueberries while still hot, and then serve them to your family who ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many cupcakes last weekend, ate waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many chocolate donuts, and had waaaaaaaaay too many juiceboxes. Remind your significant other that apples are a dessert and no we do not need to go to the grocery store to pick up Swedish fish and no, you are not making him another batch of chocolate coconut fudge, and no, the fudge would not be healthier if you put peanut butter in it.

Seriously though, these are yummy, are nothing but fruit and spices, and are full of vitamins and nutrients that round out a meal perfectly. I’m not saying there isn’t a time for pink cupcakes or peanut butter fudge. But that time isn’t today.

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Because if she expects to be this fabulous all the time, she’s going to need the energy. She’s going to need apples.

Oh hell, who am I kidding. I need the apples.

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Potato, Potato

Readers, the name of that post sounds cooler than it reads, I promise.

Recently, I was asked for ideas for eating greens. Unfortunately, my reader was apparently pretty green savvy. She was already sauteing them, cooking them in potato soup, braising them, and eating them with mussels. Whether or not I’ll eat them I have to give credit to a woman for getting creative with something that looks like…ugh I don’t even want to get into what mussels look like. Either way, kudos for knowing a lot of good ways to eat greens.

See, I think that’s so great, mostly because those, excluding the mussels of course, are all ways I eat my greens too. Mostly I saute them, though from time to time I’ll pop them into a salad, depending on my mood and what kind of green it is.

At nearly the same time I was also asked about comfort food. She wanted something healthy, but rich enough to be soothing. Nourishing, delicious, and savory. Sounded to me like potatoes were really the only answer to this conundrum. Potatoes have a horrible rap these days, and it’s just silly. They’re full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. So long as you aren’t drowning them in butter, grease, or gravy, you’re making a good choice having one.

Potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens…potatoes and greens but NOT soup. Well poop, what’s a girl to do but combine them?

Red Skinned Green Potatoes
6 small red skinned potatoes
2 cups spinach or other green (if using a green OTHER than spinach, steam it very lightly until slightly tender)
1 tbs vegan margarine
1 tbs nutritional yeast (Omnivores, if you have to you can swap the yeast for Parmesan cheese, but the yeast is worth your time finding, since it’s just so ridiculously nutrient dense)
2 tbs unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

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Clean the potatoes and stab them with a fork like they’re the jerk who stood you up at the prom. “Bake” them in your microwave for 10 minutes, or until a fork goes through one pretty easily.

When they’re cool enough to handle, cut them in half.

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Then scoop out the innards until they’re as empty as that useless shell of a prom date.

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In a food processor or really forgiving blender, throw the potato innards, greens, margarine, “milk,” and spices and let process until combined.

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Scoop the stuffing into the potato shells and place them on a baking sheet.

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Broil for five to seven minutes, until the tops are just a bit brown. Don’t tell anyone that you used the microwave earlier.

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That can be out secret. Promise. 🙂

Quick, easy, cheap, and yummy.

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Need to get rid of greens? Make a giant tray of these for a get together, or keep them in the fridge to nuke for a quick snack.

I used spinach because it’s what was in my fridge. If you have a farm share, trust me, you will have an abundance of spinach at some point. If, however, you find yourself with collards, chard, or turnip greens no worries. Just steam them for about five minutes before hand and they’ll be just as dreamy in your potatoes.

My family loved it, including Mr. “I don’t like spinach” and Ms. “Eww! It’s green!” They asked for seconds. I was out of spinach.

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Ok…I could always go get some more…

Money Saving Monday–Stay AWAY From the McDonalds Breakfast Menu!!!

Don’t do it readers! I mean it, stop, just stop! Back out of the drive-thru, go home, and eat a real breakfast. I’m not even kidding, stay away from there.

I have a myriad of reasons to tell you not to pick up breakfast on the way to work–donuts, hash browns, breakfast sandwiches and overpriced, overheated coffee (serious McDonalds, my tongue is on FIRE) being among them. Mostly, though? I want you to eat something better and save yourself a couple of bucks.

Fast food restaurants have these clever things called value menus, or dollar menus. Aren’t they smart? They make a semi addictive substance for you at a bargain in the hopes that you’ll buy more of it. If cigarette companies were allowed to do this without being taxed to high heaven, I would probably still be smoking. What you’re getting at your local McD’s though, is tax free…”food.” You can buy as much as you want, they can pocket the entire profit, and you get to feel sick and lethargic all day.

Hooray!

Guys, I have something better and quicker for you, so long as you’re willing to do a little preparation earlier in the week.

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I did not invent the tofu frittata. This is a thing vegetarian and vegan cooks have always made, and you can probably find other recipes for it all over the internet. I’m going to go ahead and tell you that this one is my favorite.

Why? Well, first off, you can pronounce all the ingredients. Go ahead, see what’s in a sausage biscuit with “cheese.” I’ll wait.

Disgusted? you ought to be.

Second, while I’m not a huge proponent of calorie counting, they are a whopping 48 calories a pop. Eat two. Seriously, you should probably eat two with some fruit and a piece of toast (mine was devoured while these were cooking). Besides, what these guys lack in calories, they make up in everything else. These are protein-alicious, so they will keep you full longer, and just one has 29% of your daily vitamin C, 16% vitamin A, 7% of your iron, and is a good source of apparently everything. Try using a nutritional analyzer on this recipe and you will be amazed. Eat two. Heck, eat three. You’re doing nothing but good.

Finally, these guys are pretty cheap in the long run. Sure, they require some fresh veggies, but buying good veggies this time of year is a snap. Give me a month and I’ll have most of the vegetable components coming straight from my garden. Plus, it contains my good friend tofu, which I’m sure you remember from this post. Some people will undoubtedly tell me that while tofu is cheap (less than three dollars for this particular block and cheaper at some stores), you can sometimes get eggs for less than a dollar. While I would love to explain that those eggs are probably gross (they are), instead, I’m going to counter practically: Yes, a dozen eggs may be cheaper than a block of tofu. However, to make the same amount of frittatas you will probably need the entire dozen, possibly more. If you’re trying to cut out the cholesterol by using egg whites, it will end up costing you even more. And if you’re using quality eggs that you know the source of? Trust me. It’s not cheap.

Besides, these keep you from making that dreaded stop through the drive-thru, which is rife with impulse buys and super hot, overpriced coffee (please, McD’s, just a couple ice cubes or something next time?).

Make these. They’ll keep in the fridge for a few days, are good cold or heated up, are good smooshed between toast, and are healthy. Enjoy!

Tofu Frittatas
Makes 12
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Zucchini
1 Bell Pepper
1 BIG Handful of Spinach (or 1-2 cups)
1 14 oz block of soft tofu
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (don’t remember this ingredient? Read this.)
2 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1-2 tsp Braggs or Soy Sauce
1 dash liquid smoke
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Chop the veggies while you wait.

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Throw everything but the spinach in with the oil and saute till soft.

While those are sauteing, remove the tofu from its packaging and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. That’s right, no pressing required! Then crumble it into a bowl.

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Using an electric hand mixer, blend the tofu with the spices, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and almond milk until smooth…ish. It won’t be perfect, and that doesn’t matter.

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At this point, the veggies should be soft, so throw the spinach in with them and saute until wilted. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.

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Then add the veggies to the tofu mixture and mix by hand until everything is combined fairly evenly. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it’s not exactly rocket science, so you should have a handle on it. 🙂

Pour these into a very lightly greased muffin pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until they are set and the tops are a golden brown.

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Let these cool before you remove them. They are hot and a bit crumbly initially. That’s what makes them so wonderful though. They taste quite a bit like scrambled eggs and are easy enough to make a sandwich out of. They have some moisture, which is necessary because dry, crumbly tofu is…well, gross. All in all, these are pretty awesome.

They keep well in the fridge, and just pop them in the microwave the next day, slap them on some toast, and you’re ready for a health filled, wonderful day.

Besides, how many times have I told you to eat your veggies for breakfast? (Answer: Once, actually.) With these, you will be a crunchy rock star, and your greased out, sugared up coworkers/classmates/children will be jealous of your increased productivity. Yay!

Happy Monday, readers!

Is it the Weekend Yet?

Readers, you’re going to have to forgive my lack of posts recently. It’s been a long few weeks, and I am exhausted.

List of Crap that Happened Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Heavy duty vegetable gardening
2. Unfortunate overgrowth of weeds
4. Four birthdays
5. Two Births…so six birthdays
6. Olive’s preschool graduation
7. Olive’s preschool picnic
8. Obscene heat
9. Three papers due
10. One test
11. A severe addiction to Angry Birds (how have I never played this before???)

List of Crap that Didn’t Happen Over the Course of Two Weeks
1. Immaculate eating habits. We’ve had a looooot of cake lately, and pot lucks at preschool mean we’re downing some dairy out of necessity.
2. Consistent exercise
3. Basic hygiene. Here is what I look like. I have not showered (…in three days…), I have not had coffee yet, and I have to go to my first workout since Monday. If you have a weak stomach, you may want to avert your eyes.
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I’m pretty lucky that this is Memorial Day Weekend. I know right now that I should tell you all about how important it is to remember those who died for our country (it is VERY important) and the sacrifices that some people make. In reality, though, I’m so pooped that the idea of lounging poolside all day tomorrow, seeing a parade on Monday, and eating delicious grilled veggies sounds marvelous.

Maybe I’ll eat them with a few of these guys?

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Fudge Pops!
Makes Six-Eight Pops
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp salt

Whisk together the cocoa and maple syrup until a thick paste forms. All the cocoa should be fully dissolved (which is why we’re using liquid sweetener). Add the milk and salt and stir until combined. Pour them into Popsicle molds and freeze until set (probably about three hours).

In order to get them out, depending on your molds, you’re probably going to need to use the old water and squeeze method of pulling them out. Nothing is more depressing than an empty Popsicle stick. Luckily, nothing is more yummy than a Fudge Pop!

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It’s drippy!

Make these for your next cookout and they will be a hit, or just make them for you and horde them. I usually don’t brag about calorie count to you guys, but they are right around fifty calories a pop. They also have calcium and whatever vitamins your milk is fortified with. If nothing else, you can feel good knowing that you can pronounce all the names of the ingredients.

So kick back, relax, and eat like twenty of these. You deserve them.

Rain, Rain, Go Away, or at Least Let Me Make it to the Grocery Store

Readers, sorry I haven’t been back sooner. I try to make Wednesday posts most weeks, but to be honest, I was just too excited about the fabulous weather we’ve had. You see, it’s been in the 80’s all week long!

This is a far cry from last Saturday which was cold, wet, and disgusting. It was not even normal “gross” outside, it was Cat in the Hat bad. I felt bad for Olive because I had no idea what to do with our time the entire day. I felt even worse for Mike because he had to go teach in it. I felt relatively fine for me because we had plenty of coffee and tea in the house, but I wasn’t leaving for anything, not even to pick up groceries for our relatively understocked kitchen so I could make my miserable, freezing family something good for dinner. It was gross out there!

Hey guys, I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but I made soup, so shut up cuz’ it’s yummy. *

Note: A thank you must go out to my mother, without whom I would have no basis for how potato soup ought to taste.

Two Potato Soup
2 large russet potatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
1 sweet potato, cut into bite sized chunks
2 carrots, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 dash liquid smoke
3/4 cup almond milk

In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots with broth and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are very soft.

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While the potatoes are boiling, heat one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet. Add the onions and celery and saute until the onions are translucent.

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Unfortunately, I was out of celery and nothing was going to make me run to the store to pick some up. NOTHING.

Add the garlic to the skillet, and saute for another minute. Set aside.

By this time, the potatoes will be soft, so turn the heat down to medium, and using a slotted spoon remove about 2 cups worth of the chunks. Some carrots and sweet potatoes will get mixed in, it’s not a big deal, so just go with it. Put them in a bowl, and mash the bajeezus out of them.

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Add it back to the pot along with the sauteed onions, celery, and garlic. Stir until the soup has thickened and the blob of mashed potatoes has disappeared (You can, of course, choose to mash a few more potatoes if you want the soup to be super thick, though we thought it was perfect as it was). Add the poultry seasoning, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, and almond milk. Bring the soup to a simmer and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the top (this is optional, but delicious).

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Hey, that was easy!

This soup is perfect for gross days because it is so wonderfully warming. It’s comfort food without butter, full of potassium and vitamins, and tons of protein. It is the very best way to eat potatoes, and I love potatoes, so I should know. While it is loosely based on my mother’s recipe (which involved a secret ingredient known as “instant potato flakes”–sorry for ruining the secret, Mom!) and has a similar creaminess, the sweet potato adds a pleasant change of pace to this thick, savory, soup. I really wish Mike hadn’t eaten four bowls of it, because I would have liked seconds.

Oh well, even when it’s gross outside and I don’t have many groceries, I do usually have potatoes.

So I know it is wet, and the sun is not sunny, but soup can bring lots of good fun that is funny. *

*My apologies to Dr. Seuss.