Recipe Review: Takeout Fake Out Vegetable Tofu Lo Mein and A Personal Fail

018I found this recipe via Pinterest (where else?) a few weeks ago and have been meaning to try it out. It sounded easy (it is) and quick (it is) and delicious (it is).

You can find the full recipe here at Hello Little Home. I took a spin through this very pretty blog, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it housed many vegetarian recipes that look really great. See, there’s a good reason to be addicted to Pinterest!

As I said, this dish was easy to put together, and would be a great go-to for a fast meal to feed a family on a busy weekday.

So, while I’m quite proud of this find and in general, how my take on this recipe turned out, I realized shortly after finishing up cooking that I ended up with two personal fails:

1) I said I was going to try to cut back on my soy intake because I had been eating so much pre-made food that is stuffed with soy … this recipe calls for tofu, which is, of course, soy. I also went and tried to add edamame … which is soy before it is turned into tofu or anything else. Speaking of edamame …010

2) I tried to improvise by adding edamame to my version of the recipe. Unfortunately, never having prepared edamame before, I didn’t realize the outer pod was well … fuzzy and tough. I thought I could just cook them up like regular beans and eat them, pod and all … nope nope nope nope nope. Can’t. Won’t do that again.

Otherwise, the recipe was really delicious, and like I said, really easy and quick to make. I improvised with the veggies because I didn’t have the cole slaw mix that was called for. I did, however, have plenty of – you guessed it – zucchini (who doesn’t have plenty of that this time of year?) and I shredded some carrots and used the onion and broccoli called for.

From what I see, it isn’t important which vegetables you use, because what really makes this dish is the sauce, which is a simple mix of vegetable broth, soy sauce (yep, more soy), sriracha, rice wine vinegar, sesame seed oil and corn starch. The 006flavor combination is savory and smoky with a bit of a bite from the sriracha. So good!

Oh, and be sure to take the time to drain and really fry up the tofu well. I loved the texture, and crisping up the tofu was key in having it kind of “catch” the sauce and hold on to it.

I recommend this recipe highly.

But not edamame in the pod. Don’t do that, unless you know what you’re doing and how to get the pods softer, haha!

So, after this soy-laden dish, I’m going to have to make up another no-soy meal here …. so off I go!

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Camping Meatlessly: Smoky Grilled Eggplant Pesto Hot Sandwich (With suggestions to make vegan)

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I took the kiddos up to my brother-in-law’s camp for an overnight getaway in the wilderness. We had a beautiful time! Nice, quiet time out in the maples and out of the … Continue reading

A Year Of Reluctance: Some Confessions and Goals

Tomorrow will mark a year since I started this blog, and my re-introduction into the world of vegetarianism. I’ve learned a lot about myself in this year, and have a laundry list of goals for myself for Year Two of this venture.

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before I start on my goals and celebrating what I’ve done, I need to make a confession:

This has been really, really hard for me. Like REALLY hard.

It has also been really, really frustrating. Like REALLY frustrating.

I feel as though there isn’t enough of an open and honest conversation in the world of vegetarians about how hard it is to live in a culture dominated by the carnivorous diet.

Maybe it’s because we’re all afraid that we’ll perpetuate some of the stereotypes that the carnivores in our world have about us: That as soon as we smell bacon, steak, or spot a burger, our veggie burgers pale to us in comparison …  that in the dark of night, we sneak tastes of some of the food we are imagined to miss, then in the daytime, put on our “vegetarian faces” back on. Perhaps we’re also worried about being judged harshly not only by the carnivores, but by fellow vegetarians and vegans. Our North American culture is fraught with a very defensive attitude toward anyone who challenges the status quo “American Diet” of meat and potatoes.

All of this makes us be hyper-vigilant and defensive in return, and I think makes us shy away from talking about what I know has to be a very real problem for most of us … but that I *never* hear any vegetarians mention, bring up, or admit to. Not only do we not admit that we miss meat, but we also never, NEVER admit that some of us have popped a stray pepproni in our mouths, or out of curiosity snuck a taste of our kids’ burgers.

I’m going to start the honest dialogue here: I CRAVE MEAT, and I have snuck tastes. This is recently, but still, it’s been done. I know I can’t be the only one — I’ve seen on MyFitnessPal.com of all places, vegetarians in one of the community groups I belong to there discuss meat cravings and how to handle them. Without fail, most people say “Oh, well I haven’t had this happen to me BUT …” A rare few admit to having cravings, and NONE admit to ever having tried any meat (at least, not at the time I followed the thread). But you know, YOU KNOW they have. I call shenanigans on all of them!

And PLEASE, to all of you holier-than-thou, please don’t comment about how you’ve never done this and then berate me for talking about it. I mean, I believe some people don’t give in to meat cravings, and maybe a few truly just don’t like meat so never have experienced that gnawing desire to have some. I’m willing to bet, though, that more often than not, a lot of us have. And do. And then are wracked with guilt and self-hatred over it. So much so that we never, never, never talk about it. I’ve read many vegetarian/vegan blogs … I have yet to see one in which any of this is spoken about. All vegetarian blogs I’ve ever seen are about recipes, being healthful, and tend to have a cheery face that belies anything other than beaming pride in their pristine vegetarian-ness.

And I think it’s too bad. Really it is. We should be talking about this issue, because there’s a lot to be learned from our slip-ups, and a lot to be gained, too.

I want to start Year Two of my venture understanding what brought me to craving meat so badly, and what made me do it, and what’s going to keep me from doing this … because honestly, it tasted pretty gross to me. Hopefully, this will help others understand that this happens, and when it does, it’s NOT the end of the world, and it’s not the end of your vegetarianism either. Nor of your intent to cause less harm in the world, nor does it make us raging hypocrites as some would have us believe.

It DOES make us very human. Period. We pick up, learn, and move on.

So here we go:

THE CRAVING

Image courtesy of debspoons / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of debspoons / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

That was the thing that really got me. Anyone who’s been reading this blog at all knows that A) I just like meat (or used to, I’ll come back around to this),  B) I’ve been finding it difficult to find a good, regular schedule to cook — like all families do, and C) I find it super time-consuming to cook vegetarian meals.

So, that means that there were days and weeks at a time when my quick-fix meals consisted of cheese pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, the occasional stir-fry with tofu in it … but mostly, it was whatever I could stuff into the oven or microwave that required little to no prep on my end.

The cravings started around the time when things were getting really hectic, and I was feeling particularly overwhelmed — this time of year (end of school year) is stressful for all involved, but as a public school teacher, I’ve always gotten completely frazzled in May-June. Like I am now.

Not eating properly = craving meat = me trying out taco meat for the first time in for ever. I was picturing me loving the stuff like I always used to — greasy ground beef fried up in reconstituted spice … what’s not to love, right? After about two scoops of it (the first scoop didn’t even touch my tongue, I don’t think), I spit the third scoop out. Let’s forget where it comes from, because that wasn’t even on my mind at this point … it tasted … like blood. Like gross, disgusting, just … blood. I couldn’t drink enough water or brush my teeth and tongue enough to get rid of that flavor.

You’d think that would be enough to keep me from trying again, right?

Not so fast, smarty pants. I went and tried it AGAIN! The last time had to be a fluke, right? Like, I LOVE meat, that’s what makes me the Reluctant Vegetarian, right?

This time, it wasn’t taco meat, but hamburger that my husband made for my kids. My husband makes GREAT burgers, like REALLY good. People beg him to make them at cookouts. I dutifully nommed away at my home made veggie burger (which, for the record guys, I do actually really like), but while clearing the table and alone at the kitchen sink, I snuck a bite of what looked and smelled like the heavenly, juicy greasy stuff that I used to love. One, two bites later … yep, blood again. That taste. I grimaced, rinsed, brushed …

So, from there, I just wondered (and the cravings also compelled me): does it ALL taste nasty now that I haven’t eaten meat in months? Here are my taste-testing results (yes, I’m trying to make myself feel better by making it sound like an experiment):

Chicken: Gamy and gross. How did I ever like this stuff? It tastes like … farm.

Pepperoni (which I LOVE[d]): Also tastes bloody. Like blood. Through all the garlic and spices, you can taste it. Nasty.

Ham is about the only thing that tasted good … but it’s not because you can actually taste anything beyond the nitrates and sugar they soak the meat in. And, when my son called it ‘pig butt,’ which is what ham basically is I suppose, it kind of sealed the deal for me.

I haven’t tried with fish (which I love — salmon, tuna, sushi, shrimp …) because I’m afraid of how THAT will taste to me after a year without it.

So, I’ve been pecking at meat here and there … thanks to cravings and curiosity. The result is, I don’t like it any more.

Which makes me wonder: Does this mean that we train ourselves to like meat? Or is it one of those things that eventually grows on us?

Either way, I’m really just not interested in having it any more. So, the next step is …

CONQUERING THE CRAVINGS

So the cravings are clearly strongest when I haven’t been eating properly. When my diet has consisted mostly of cheese and starch, my desire to eat the meat that the rest of my family is consuming has been at its strongest. So, the solution, clearly, should be that I cook more home-made meals based in plants high in protein and iron. Common sense, right?

Image courtesy of KEKO64 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KEKO64 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sure. That, however, doesn’t mean that it’s easy for me to have things ready for myself to eat that will taste good to me, are quick to prepare, and AREN’T necessarily soups or stews of some kind.

It looks as though I need to give up that fight, though. When my weeks consist of working, going to meetings, running kids, myself, and the dog all over the landscape, and then also do laundry, dishes and pick up around the house … it leaves little time (or energy) for me to sit down and make a PILE of vegetable won tons or veggie burgers. The last thing on my mind on a Sunday afternoon is standing in the kitchen cooking for two hours when I haven’t had any down time all week.

So … the solution?

COMPROMISE

My first year of re-vegetarianism has been about me being determined to accept vegetarianism as it is. My philosophy of the “Say No to Meat-replacement” didn’t extend as far as to accept the fact that … well … cooked vegetables are soft and smooshy. So, nothing I make in the spectrum of vegetarian foods is really ever going to resemble steak, roast chicken or burgers in texture. I accepted the taste part of things, but the texture part … not so much.

Textures will be softer, and a lot of what I eat WILL be stewed, soups, or loafs or looser-than-ground-beef vegetable patties.

I wasn’t really fully embracing the difference between the two diets. Yeah, I know I don’t want to eat “facon” or “tofurkey” or fake cheese (I will be talking about my fake cheese ventures soon), but I need to acknowledge that my diet is most likely going to be exactly about filling up on black bean soups, stewed vegetables, and the occasional soft veggie burger. If I want a little bit of crunch, texture or “chew,” I’ll need to accept that it’s going to come from popcorn, fresh fruits and veggies, or bread.

GROWTH

Image courtesy of domdeen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of domdeen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To some more experienced vegetarians/vegans out there, all of this probably sounds like a lot of “duh” moments, but for myself, these thoughts are the culmination of a year of wrestling with my internal carnivore. The one who roared loudly on many occasions, and who could sometimes be silenced with a couple of slices of cheese pizza, but not always.

I’m slowly forgiving myself my slip-ups, and taking them as the learning opportunities that they are meant to be: I don’t like meat. It doesn’t ACTUALLY taste good to me any more.

Not only do I now know that I hate where meat comes from, I now also know that the taste isn’t appealing to me any more. Tasting that ground beef now makes me horrified about what my former-favorite rare steak must surely actually taste like.

Am I still, then, the Reluctant Vegetarian?

You bet. There are still parts of this vegetarian venture that I am more than willing to whine about 🙂

NEW GOALS

So now that I’ve accepted my fate as a “smooshy food eater,” this opens up more possibilities for me, and opportunities to set some new goals and expectations for Year Two of being a Reluctant Vegetarian.

Here are the goals as they stand now:

  1. Eat more beans and lentils, even if it means they are in soups and stews. They’re really good, and a lot of them are fast and easy to make. They often come together in the same amount of time as it takes to cook a frozen cheese pizza. It takes about the same amount of effort, too: open a few packages, stick them in the pot, stir, add spices, let them heat up over the stove. Done. Advantage: Keeping the inner carnivore at bay.
  2. Try, TRY, to eliminate dairy. This is my last “thing” I want to take care of. Dairy isn’t friendly to my stomach. It’s also not friendly to my bovine friends. Yet, I love, LOVE cheese. And butter. And sour cream.
  3. Try, TRY, to hate fake dairy less. I have accepted and actually like the existence of almond milk at this point and have it most mornings, either in my coffee or on my granola. However, if I’m going to give up cheese and sour cream, I need to come up with something non-dairy that doesn’t make me gag. And the Daiya stuff … does not cut it. That stuff actually, ACTUALLY makes me angry. Again, I’ll write more about that another time.

So, my thanks goes out to those who have followed along with me so far. For my Year Two, I hope to be able to share with you some more original recipes, recipe reviews and just general ramblings (read “whining”) about this stuff.

Maybe in the end, I’ll have to change the name of this blog. 🙂

 

Happy New Year!

My kids and their cousins peek into a fallen tree in hopes of catching a glimpse of a hibernating critter of some kind.

My kids and their cousins peek into a fallen tree in hopes of catching a glimpse of a hibernating critter of some kind.

Well our major festivities for the season have come to an end, and visits from families have come and gone. We’ve had such a great holiday season, which served to remind me how fortunate I really am.

I look back on 2013 with a sense of satisfaction, few regrets, amazingly. There are, though, one or two things I want to focus back on as we get ready to ring in 2014. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, but while contemplating how to better manage time again so I’m not as stressed out about things, I have come up with a couple of goals for myself:

1) Meditate again! I’ve completely stopped, and that’s bad. Bad because I like my ‘meditation mind’ much better than the mind I walk around with otherwise. While I’ve still retained some of the benefits of having discovered meditation a few years ago, I definitely feel the effects of not having practiced it in a while. When I meditate, pretty much everything else seems to fall into place.

2) Exercise again. Not sure why I stopped completely, other than I seem to have gotten back into the “I’m to tired to exercise” mindset. I seem to have forgotten that exercise actually makes me feel more energized, and that counter-intuitively, that it feels better to take a 30-minute walk after a long day at work than it does to sit down and sack out on the couch for the same amount of time.

A little bit of scenery from my neighborhood. Brother in law's barn in the distance.

A little bit of scenery from my neighborhood. Brother in law’s barn in the distance.

3) Pick up my studies again. This time, along with my kids who have expressed interest in learning more about Buddhism, too.

When I’ve got all those activities going, overall, my approach to stress and “too much stuff going on” is so much better. I think remembering that would have helped me a little more when things got really hairy this past fall.

Other than that, that’s it. I have so much that I’m happy about with 2013. I think the biggest change for me this year was my switch back to being vegetarian. There were a lot of important events this year, but rediscovering that again has been like finding an old friend. Coupled with my study of Buddhism, that choice has made so much more sense this time around and has strengthened my resolve to follow this path the way I have.

Have a happy New Year everyone. May 2014 be prosperous, fruitful and satisfying 🙂

Happy Non-Turkey Day, haha!

My plan was to have a clever post all set to go with my idea for a Thanksgiving inspired stuffed mushroom recipe that I had concocted in my head to share with you. Well, it never happened, as you can well see.

I am thankful for my smart, funny kids who have amazing imaginations and senses of humor. As seen here.

I am thankful for my smart, funny kids who have amazing imaginations and senses of humor. As seen here.

I hope those of you out there sharing this holiday with your families today totally enjoy yourselves. While my plan for making myself a meatless main dish never came to be, I know that I’m going to totally enjoy the meat-free sides that are on the table. And, when you’ve got as immense of a gathering as we always have (we easily gather around 35-40 people or so altogether on this day), there is more than enough of everything to go around.

For a while, I did worry about “Wow, what if stuff has butter in it? What if they made stuff using chicken stock? Or eggs?” and then I remembered, that my approach to going meat-free was going to take control and responsibility only for what I am able to. When we have a huge gathering like this, I can’t a) make a whole meal for myself. Let’s face it, I can barely pull together two dinners a week as it is, I’m not going to reasonably make myself a vegetarian dinner for one in the space of one day; and b) I’m not about to piss off 39 people who took time out of their busy schedules to make a delicious dish. My goal was never to make others change their habits. Just me. And I have, and I still will.

While I am thankful for many, many things, including a patient loving husband, two beautiful, smart, funny kids, goofy chocolate lab and four “too cool for school” kitties, I am also thankful for the change I’ve made in my eating habits. Just in making the change that I have, I’ve positively impacted those around me. They haven’t drastically changed their lifestyle, and I don’t expect or necessarily want them to.

While I skirt around the meated dishes on the table today, I’ll be quietly enjoying and appreciating all the delicious foods that are all around them.

I believe it was the comedian Mo Rocca who pointed out in an interview that, the best foods at Thanksgiving, to him, isn’t the bird. It’s all the amazing sides that people make. I heartily agree. (I tried to find the video clip I’m referring to here, and couldn’t!)

I’ll be happy to have mashed potatoes, stuffing (which we thankfully don’t actually stuff into the bird), green bean casserole, scalloped corn, pies and cakes and best of all — amazing company and lots of laughs.

I am so thankful for what I have. I hope you all find the same comfort in who and what surrounds you on this day, whether you’re celebrating this North American holiday today or not.

Much joy to you all.

What’s Keeping Me Sane …

OK, so it’s October now and I don’t even know how we got here.  My schedule this school year is even busier than I had anticipated, and I’m truly having a hard time keeping up with everything that is going on.

Giant sun flowers in my sister-in-law's fall garden.

Giant sun flowers in my sister-in-law’s fall garden.

Between keeping up with all my usual ‘teacher paper work,’ my daughter’s after-school ballet classes  on Mondays (we get home around 5:45 p.m.), Tuesday and Thursday professional development sessions after school (till 5:30 p.m.), my son’s soccer practice on Wednesday nights (5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.), responsibilities as our local AYSO web master, Sunday afternoon soccer games for my son, and my need to correct papers and plan lessons on the weekends because … well, I like to have a little downtime during the week too … I have had NO time to plan any true meals. My husband is scrambling just as badly as I am, and we’re feelin’ it. He helps as best he can, of course, but being just as harried as I am … well .. not much in terms of housework is getting done around here.

As I write, the laundry is spilling out of the hamper and onto the floor. One untended load festers in the washing machine and one ‘finished’ load sits unfolded on the dining room table. The dishes sit piled up in the sink, counter and kitchen table, and let’s not talk about the state of the rest of the house.

I thought I was so prepared for the onset of our regular school schedule, and quite clearly, I wasn’t as prepared as I’d thought. I haven’t managed to make an official Meatless Monday meal to speak of (which is why you haven’t seen me write about one … *sigh*), and I’m going to admit that my vegetarian eating habits have not been very healthy. Lots of frozen meals like fries or veggie pizzas have been consumed. Oh and potato chips. Can’t forget those … and Oreos.

I do feel like often times, people try to frame vegetarianism/veganism as this little switch you make and that it’s really no more trouble than being on a meat-eating diet. The reality for me, anyway, has proven to be otherwise. There is a lot of prep work involved, and there are less ‘convenience-foods’ that are easily found, especially if you take into consideration things like cost and ingredients (e.g. pre-packaged veggie patties or other soy-based fake meat meals). Crock-pot meals aren’t as easy, either, as vegetables tend to go mushy if overcooked. When you leave the house at 7:20 a.m. and don’t come back till 4 p.m. at best (often later), it was much easier when all there was in the crock was a roast. Honestly, you could cook a roast with veggies in it for ever and it’s DELICIOUS. When it’s a pile of vegetables, you know what you’ll be met with is going to be a bunch of smushy mush or hard, chewy chickpeas (tried a crockpot falafel recipe — verdict is, don’t do it). Ew.

My son's soccer field, where I spend at least about three hours a week in the fall ... and again in the spring!

My son’s soccer field, where I spend at least about three hours a week in the fall … and again in the spring!

My idea was that I can’t possibly be alone in this issue, so I figured I’d just compile a list of the recipes that I’ve tried to help keep me sane. A friend of mine had a brilliant idea: Find one day a week in which you can afford to devote about 3-4 hours to just preparing meals ahead of time. Either to freeze, or things that can keep in the fridge for a while to be either heated up quickly or just immediately served out of the fridge. I’ve decided that Tuesday would be my day to get my stuff for the week ready. That’s the one day a week that I don’t have to worry about feeding all of us, and dishes aren’t bad because my husband carries the kids off to his brother’s house for a visit during dinner time.

Here’s what I worked on over the past few Tuesdays, and also some of what I bought for groceries that will be keeping me sane AND HEALTHY while remaining meat-free. Links to my (or others’) recipes are privided:

Tray of my favorite home made veggie patties!

Dr. MacDougal’s soups: Vegan, fast, and DELICIOUS. I’ve tried almost all of them, and they are really good. There are also many low-sodium versions of their meals too. The list of ingredients is also not nearly as scary as many other fast-cooking meals that you can find out there. I’ll say that it’s a little pricier than the conventional soups.

Home-made hummus: Including cleanup time, takes me about 30 minutes to make a nice big batch that will feed me and my hubby for lunches AND snacks. Fast, convenient, and super healthy. Plus very tasty. Can’t forget tasty.

Frozen home-made veggie burgers: This was last Tuesday night’s cooking night project. Made a big batch of these and froze them. Watched some reruns of old shows on Netflix while I worked on this project. Now I have a fast, delicious, healthy, filling meal to grab and feed me at any meal, any time! I love this topped with some chutney and a bunch of fresh veggies. Crunchy, tasty, so good!

Marrakesh stew: YUM! Spicy delicious goodness — as in heat spicy AND savory spicy, though you could easily tone down the heat by putting in less cayenne pepper than called for. I put the ingredients in a pot about an hour after I got home and let it all simmer. In the mean time, I did my laundry and worked on a batch of the veggie burgers. Between batches, grabbed bites and watched reruns of Big Bang Theory! Once finished with the home-made veggie burgers, I celebrated and rewarded myself by eating this. Even meat-eating hubby really enjoyed this and took leftovers into work for lunches. SCORE!

The simmering Marrakesh Stew. Spicy and delicious.

The simmering Marrakesh Stew. Spicy and delicious.

Thirty-minute awesome Pinterest find: The 30-minute pasta dish that my friends have been raving about was what I made on one of our crazy Mondays. I tweaked the recipe a bit by using whole wheat pasta instead of the regular, vegetable stock instead of water, and canned tomatoes flavored with garlic and basil. Really great! It wasn’t hard at all to whip this together even though I didn’t get home until pretty much exactly 5:45 p.m. I dropped my bags, threw the ingredients together and put them on the stove. While it cooked my son was happy to help make the garlic toast, and I put together a nice tossed salad. Filling, healthy, home-made meal.

Vegan ‘gyoza’ (different from the last ones I made!): These gyoza were different from the ones I made a while back (you can read about that here). Tried a new recipe, and I definitely liked these a lot better, but I will be trying yet another recipe soon. There are a couple things I would do differently with this recipe next time I make this: cut down on the soy sauce. It was way too salty with the amount that the recipe called for. I’d probably cut the 2 teaspoons down to one. I’d also double the recipe — I was hoping to have a LOT of leftovers, but instead I ended up using barely half of the won ton wrappers that I had bought. After eating, I had enough to freeze for about 2 meals. Not bad, but I like having TONS of leftovers so that everyone in the house can have some if they want … and so that I don’t have to think about making this slightly fussy dish for quite some time.

So, posting as regularly as I was over the summer is probably going to be out of the question for a while. I will, however, occasionally write about a few recipes here and there that I tried.

I’m determined to find at least one or two vegetarian crock pot recipes that will work, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to write about those before too long too.

Annnnd, I’m off. Laundry calls … YAY.

Thank You WP Family!

wordpress-family-awardWell I logged in today to find I’d been nominated for an award by a fellow WordPress blogger who follows my blog.  It’s rewarding just to know that I’ve got a small following, but then to have someone think enough of what I’m doing here to include me on a list of blogs they consider to be their ‘family’ is truly humbling.

I was nominated for the WordPress Family Award, and you can find out more about it here: http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/word-press-family-award/

This is an award for everyone who is part of the “Word Press Family” I start this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award

Rules:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your wordpress experience and family

4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them

5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people that have taken you as  a friend, and spread the love

I was nominated by milesforthought who blogs about her experiences as a runner and offers everything from fitness tips and inspiration to delicious recipes that make me drool and are very doable. Her articles are always very informative, and though I’m not a runner, her writing inspires me to try to live a healthier, more active lifestyle (for me … I’m not that active, though I should be). I love the fact that she does a lot of research and is all about sharing knowledge and information. While all her posts are ones that I enjoy, my favorite so far is a short one called “Meatless Mondays to Meatless Always.”  To me, this epitomizes Ani’s ability to combine information and inspiration in one seamless package.

There is a growing number of blogs that I’ve come to follow and look forward to reading. If I don’t see something from one for a while, I definitely notice and wonder how things are going. So, here are just 10 of those I consider to be “part of my WordPress family”:

1. Fueled By Vegetables

2. A Lot On your Plate

3. Move Eat Create

4. Violet’s Veg*an e-comics

5. Poppy’s Patisserie | Bunny Kitchen

6. Don’t Switch Off The Light

7. GG’s World

8. My Favourite Pastime

9. A Happy Organic Vegetarian Journey

10. Vegan Flavorista

Many of the above sites have to do with the vegetarian or vegan lifestly, but not all of them do. I tend to love humor and people who are not afraid to ‘put themselves out there’ in terms of honesty and humor. A lot of the above writers have managed to incorporate an amazing talent to cook, take beautiful photos, be informative and humorous all at once.

I appreciate all of the blogs I’ve found on WordPress so far, and I’m really looking forward to meeting many more family members soon!

Meatless Monday: Crockpot Experiment #1

I’m a little late adding my Meatless Monday post, but wanted to make sure I got it done lest I start to slip!

This photo comes courtesy of http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

This photo comes courtesy of http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

This week’s recipe wasn’t one of my own, but a Pinterest find that I hoped would work … and it did! It was a vegetarian take on the stuffed peppers. It was perfectly satisfying: I always love the chew on wild rice (I used Zatarain’s mix) and the cheesiness was a perfect complement. The blend of spices suggested was perfect. Smoked paprika can be hard to come by (I had to really scour the spice aisle in my grocery store) but I think that if you were to add a little cumin to the blend it would work as well.

To make it vegan, you could easily leave out the cheese and not lose a darn thing. I actually forgot to include the cheese, and sprinkled some over the top about an hour left in the cooking time, and it was all good. Again, though, if it weren’t there, nothing would have been lost in the flavor or texture of this dish.

My kids picked at it, honestly, but I absolutely loved it and am definitely going to make it again. The kids can love the salad and potatoes I served along side it bahahaha!

Here’s the recipe for the smashing vegetarian stuffed peppers that I used this week: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2010/10/slow-cooker-vegetarian-stuffed-bell.html

I’ll be working with a few veggie/vegan crockpot recipes I come across so that I can have a few ready-recipes on hand for when school starts back up again. Next week, I’m planning a crockpot falafel recipe that I found on one of my favorite craft/cooking/crocheting blog sites.

If you have any favorite busy school night/crockpot vegetarian/vegan recipes you can share, let me know! So far I have about three recipes in mind that look good, and fit my criteria (no soups, nothing too spicy and somewhat kid-friendly although I’m not always super concerned about that as I’m a big believer in “try what’s on the table and eat what is served that you don’t totally hate”), but am coming up a bit short.

So, any suggestions you all have would be really appreciated. Thanks!!!

A Call For Crock Pot Recipes!

It’s August and for teachers like myself and my husband, this officially marks the beginning of the end of summer. We’re no longer in 100% vacation mode. Like millions of teachers around the country, in the backs of our minds is a little inner voice nagging: “I gotta get ready for school.”

We are dwelling on lesson plans, changes we need and want to make to our curricula, and getting excited for decorating our classrooms and buying new highlighters and markers with the little bit of summer pay that we have left. At least, I get excited for that part!

My Pinterest feed is littered with classroom planning pins that my friends and co-workers are searching out … and I’ve been looking around for and pinning the same. I’ve also been trying to think a little ahead to what our schedule is going to look like, and what meal-making is going to be like once we’re back to school. Meatless Monday is going to have to be an adventure in making crock-pot meals as my daughter will have ballet class right after school. We’ll be bolting out of the school doors as soon as I can, rushing to her ballet class (a 30-minute drive), I’ll sit and correct papers (or something) in the lobby while she takes her class for an hour and a half, scoop her back up, rush home to arrive around 5 p.m. or so (if I’m lucky), drop my bags, and throw dinner on the table. I’m really not looking forward to this!

I’ve been searching out some veggie/vegan crock-pot meals, and I’m not sure I’m in love with a lot of what I’m finding out there. This is probably because I’m trying to keep my family’s (and my) requirements in mind while I search. They are:

1) No soups. We are not a ‘soup for dinner’ kind of family. I love soups for lunch, but with a growing boy and meat-eating husband, soup just won’t cut it at dinner. Even when paired with bread and salad. Believe me.

2) None of this ‘meat crumbles’ business. That falls into the category of having the highly-processed, mass-produced soy products in my food, which I don’t like. Also, it’s that ‘meatless meat’ thing that I’m not fond of.

3) Nothing too spicy or ‘too exotic.’ My husband and I love curries and lots of spices, by my kids aren’t as big on it. Whatever I find should be kid-friendly (though oddly, they will eat tofu and other Japanese foods … probably because they’re a little more used to that stuff because of my background).

I think that’s it. I’m going to keep hunting and pecking, but I’d really love some ideas for dishes that some of you all have tried and loved!

Test Tube Meat: Thoughts?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2384715/Rise-Frankenburger-Worlds-test-tube-meat-patty-served-London-today.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

So this story came out. I find it a) gross, b) confusing, c) scary.

Gross because … it’s meat in a tube. Confusing because as a vegetarian who loves to eat meat and misses it, I feel like I should be OK with it, but I’m not. Scary because it makes me think of that sci-fi novel “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley and I worry this brings us that much closer to being able to breed humans (and other life forms) in test tubes.

Is it OK to have meat in a tube?

I really do want to know how others, vegetarian or not, feel about this.

What do YOU think?