I’ve moved!

Hi friends!

I’ve moved over to blog with my brilliant sister at The Well-Rounded Life.

You’ll still find tons of vegan, whole foods recipes, plus my ramblings on other health-related topics, like sloooow running, fitness and the working mother, and work-life-health balance.

Please visit us!

MegandCait

http://www.thewellroundedlife.com/

 

 

Babies and Soup

Friends, cooking is hard when you have a 7-month-old* baby at home.  Did I mention I went off and had a baby, which may have played a small part in this blog’s dormancy for the last few months?  My apologies!  I return to you a happy mama with even more simple, healthy living advice, borne even more from necessity than before.

On the menu tonight: Creamy Spinach & Broccoli Soup

A testament to this soup’s deliciousness is the fact that I made it for my mother, who is an excellent cook with a discerning palate.  The creaminess comes from potato–no tofu or cashews to mess with here–and it is so ridiculously (and deceptively) low-calorie that you may just accidentally lose weight if you eat it a few times a week.

Bonus: this soup takes all of 10 minutes to prep and just a bit longer to simmer.  I made it on a Monday night before putting my son to bed, which means it is just plain easy.

Here’s the scoop:

Creamy Spinach & Broccoli Soup

Serves: 4 adults with a bit left over

Calories: Less than 150 per serving

1 small yellow onion or 2 leeks (depending on how fancy you feel)

3 cloves garlic

1 big head of broccoli or small bag of florets

1 large or 2 small russet potatoes (though golds or reds are just fine if that’s what you have on hand)

6 cups veggie broth, plus a cup or two of water if you want to stretch this to feed many

8 oz. or so of spinach

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, paprika to taste

1. Start by chopping the onion and garlic.  Saute it for a few minutes in a big pot (with either little water or a touch of oil) until softened.

2. Add the broth, broccoli, and potatoes and bring to a boil.  I like to chop my potatoes to 1” cubes or so, which minimizes the cooking time.

3. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so–just until the potatoes are quite tender.

4. Add the spinach a couple of handfuls at a time and stir into the soup.  Simmer until all the spinach is wilted.

5. Using an immersion blender, puree it all.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can definitely puree this in batches in a regular blender–just don’t fill your blender all the way, and cover the top with a towel to protect your pretty eyes from hot splashes.

6. Once you’ve got it all pureed and in the pot, start tasting and seasoning.  I think I added a bit more than a teaspoon of salt–it will depend on the saltiness of your broth.  I also really like adding red pepper flakes, which make the whole thing just a bit spicy.

Terrible lighting, delicious soup.

Terrible lighting, delicious soup.

Pro tip: This is sooo good with crusty bread, which I (embarrassingly) like to use instead of a spoon.  If you, like me, are cutting down on the stuff, trust that this soup is hearty enough to stand on its own.  If you like a thicker soup or need more calories, add another potato or two.

* When I first drafted this post, this read “5-month-old,” and he’s now 7 months old.  Time flies when you’re not blogging!

An Old Favorite for a New Mama

Image

Well, I can only take partial credit for this one.  Here’s how this oh-so-easy couscous dish came together:

Many years ago, my good friend B invited Wife and me over for a dinner of couscous-and-veggie-stuffed roasted bell peppers–yum!  I refused to leave without the recipe, and Wife and I had the dish several times over the next few months.  The only problem was the labor involved–each bell pepper had to be carefully cut open and seeded, then propped upright to roast, then peeled, then propped upright again, then stuffed, then propped upright for further cooking–all without busting open the pepper. This process was messy and often less than successful, and the difficulty really didn’t do much to motivate me to cook instead of order take-out.

Enter the “deconstructed” version: Instead of roasting whole bell peppers, I chopped them and sauteed them with onion and garlic, then added them to couscous for a dish that is really delicious served hot or as a cold salad.  Still delish, but way less messy.

I made this today for my friends who just welcomed their beautiful daughter into the world!  They need healthful dinners for a speedily recovering mama, so I’m hoping they enjoy this very summery dish.

Couscous Un-Stuffed Peppers

1-2 bell peppers, any color(s), chopped

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

6-8 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup or so dry couscous (boxed & flavored or plain/whole wheat)

water and/or veggie broth

4 cups spinach, chopped

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Saute your chopped peppers, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until slightly softened.  Set aside.

2. Cook your couscous.  If you’re using the flavored kind (Extra Lazy Version!), cook with water according to the directions on the package.  If you bought the non-flavored kind (Trader Joe’s has nice whole wheat couscous), use a water/broth combo. Example: if the package calls for 2 cups of liquid, use 1 cup water and 1 cup broth.  Cooking couscous generally involves boiling the liquid, then adding the couscous and immediately removing from heat.  Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.  So easy, and impossible to overcook!

3. Once your couscous has absorbed all the liquid, stir your chopped spinach into the prepared couscous.  You can do this in a big bowl if your couscous pot is small.  Do this while the couscous is still pretty warm so it wilts the spinach a bit.

4.  Add the peppers/onion/garlic to your couscous mixture and combine.

5. If you’re serving this sucker hot, serve it and top with the tomatoes.  If you’re serving it cold, let the mixture cool a bit, stir in the tomatoes, and refrigerate until it’s time to eat.

Note: If you’re eating with lacto types and not opposed to giving them the option, this salad is great with feta sprinkled on top.

Calories: middlin’, Fat: low, Easiness: quite, Awesomeness: 8 out of 10

Mashed Cauliflower Soupishness

Miss me?!  Don’t look at me like that; this Lazy Veggie done got herself a JOB and, well, I’ve been busy.  Now I’m back!  How about you forgive me for going away and I forgive you for not repeatedly hitting refresh on this blog for the last 8 months?  Deal?  Word.

The inspiration for this comeback is twofold: First, and don’t freak out on me here, I got a Vitamix!!!  After years of whining about justifying the expense, my darling family couldn’t take it anymore and all chipped in to make it happen. Don’t worry; I have fun with the new machine, but this blog will remain dedicated to the ill-equipped (and lazy/busy/budget-conscious) veggies out there.

Second, I made this shockingly delicious and easy recipe the other day, and it not only surprised me with its tastiness, it provided me with two dinners and three lunches.  Unfortch, I gobbled each serving before I could manage to take a good picture, so let’s use our imaginations–just picture a giant pot of white mush, not quite as stiff as mashed potatoes, not quite as fluid as creamy soup.  It tastes better than it looks, promise…

Mashed Cauliflower Soupishness

2 medium-sized heads of cauliflower

1 32-oz carton of vegetable broth

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled

salt, pepper, dried basil to taste

1. Chop the cauliflower into 1-inch pieces.  Put it in a big pot with the garlic and the carton of veggie broth.  Add a little water if needed to bring the fluid level up, but no need to make sure it’s all completely covered–the cauliflower will settle a bit (and you can squish it while it cooks).

2. Turn on the burner and get it boiling.  Turn it down to a simmer for 15 minutes or so–they are ready for the next step when the florets are very tender. You want your fork to just slide right through the floret.

3. Drain the cauliflower and garlic, reserving a bit (maybe 1/2 cup) of the broth.

4. Add the cooked cauliflower to your blender (Did I mention my Vitamix?), along with the spices, and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add the reserved liquid if you need to, but I’m thinking you won’t–that cauliflower will be chock-full of broth from the pot.

5. Serve and enjoy!  I stirred in a bit more black pepper with each serving, which was really good and warming.

Extra-soupy option: Instead of draining your cooked cauliflower, leave it in the pot with the broth, add the spices, and puree it using an immersion blender.  Depending on how thick you like your creamy soups, you might want to pull out a cup of the broth before pureeing so you can add it back in as desired.

Calories: low, Fat: zero, Easiness: extreme, Awesomeness: 7 out of 10

 

The Cheese Incident

This post is part of Vegan MoFo, the Vegan Month of Food.  Enjoy, and visit other MoFo bloggers this month too!

Oh, Seattle.  You are such a complicated woman of a city.  At once a bastion of liberal hipster music-making vegan love and a hub of wanna-be-swanky-hotel-loving, fancying-myself-a-foodie business travelers.

Remember that lovely spring trip I took to Seattle to see my in-laws, during which I ate the Best Broccoli Ever Made and enjoyed the prettiest little fruit plate?  Everywhere I went, I was happy to discover that being in the Northwest (even outside my beloved Portland), I could ask for a vegan option and receive something amazing.

The Seattle I once knew

Yeah, this was not that trip.

Our hotel had a “hidden gem” of a hotel bar, according to Yelp.  Every review raved about something–the fries, the Caesar salad, the decor.  So, when hunger hit and we had a schedule to follow, I pushed for a quick and easy dinner at the hotel bar.  (This is me when I’m hungry: “You guys know we’re leaving in ten minutes for dinner, right?” “Ok, that’s a really interesting tweet, but you know we’re leaving in 7 minutes, right?” “Ok, one more drink you guys, but you know we’re leaving in 3 minutes, right?”  It’s not pretty.)

When we finally arrived at the hotel bar (a long journey of one flight of stairs and a wheelchair ramp), it appeared to be everything we’d hoped–a beautiful room with a fireplace and and oak bar, complete with a four-page menu of dinner options.  I can totally find something here!

Three pages of meat and cheese later, I was happy to find they served individual pizzas–usually a veggie pizza with no cheese is a safe bet for me.  I ordered it that way (even reiterated!), and joked with my friends about the odds the pizza would show up slathered in cheese.  I had been very clear with the guy taking our order, though, and I had faith.

Well, unsurprisingly, the story does not end with me getting a vegan pizza.  Once the server showed up with my pizza–10 minutes after all the other food had arrived–she held it above eye-level for several seconds, apologizing for the wait and allowing us to move plates around to make room for it.  When she finally set it down (to the relief of my friend who was anxiously awaiting the verdict), it was obvious that this “pizza” was basically a cracker-weight vehicle for the pound of melted mozzarella and shaved parmesan on top.

I politely explained that I had ordered it without cheese.  She said “you mean without parmesan cheese?”  I said “No, without any cheese.”  She sighed, looked at me like I was nuts, and started to walk away with it.  I stopped her, realizing it would be another 30 minutes before I’d get a pizza I could eat, and said I’d just have a hummus plate: “That should be quick, right?”

I should have realized something funky was going on when my hummus plate took 10 more minutes to arrive.  YEAH.  What at first appeared to be your average assortment of pita and tomatoes became, upon closer inspection, a running joke for the weekend.  The hummus was served to me IN A BOWL MADE OF CHEESE.  Seriously.

Now, I’ve eaten a lot of hummus platters in my life, and I’ve never had it served to me in a vessel made of cheese.  I wish I had taken a picture of this thing before my friends devoured it (after I ate the hummus, avoiding the cheese–I was hungry).  It was the strangest thing, and we were all sure the cook had played a joke to get back at me for sending back the pizza.  Wife and my friend insisted we should not have to pay for it, and when the waitress came to take our plates, I asked if the hummus always came in a cheese bowl.  Finally, a look of “ohhhhhh” set in on our waitress’s face–it was always served in a cheese bowl, and she didn’t even make the connection.

After questioning me about why I don’t eat cheese (“So you just don’t like it?” was her first question), she finally offered to take my meal off the bill.  DUH.

So, peeps–have you had animal products served to you in the most unlikely of dishes?  I’m guessing hummus in a cheese bowl is a fairly unusual experience.  What are some more common restaurant pitfalls?

Pumpkin Time!

This post is part of Vegan MoFo, the Vegan Month of Food.  Enjoy, and visit other MoFo bloggers this month too!

It’s pumpkin time!  I’m not usually a big pumpkin fan, except when I find them in pie form, but pumpkins popped up everywhere I looked this week–it being October and all–so I’m thinking the universe wants me to expand my horizons.

First, Wife ordered an amazing-smelling Thai Pumpkin Curry from our local Thai joint this week.  It looked like vegetables swimming in a bright, fake, processed cheese sauce, but it smelled and tasted  like vegan coconut curry heaven. I think I might try to copy the recipe, or maybe just order some for myself soon.

Next, I ran across an old Weight Watchers Pumpkin Pie recipe that was quite non-vegan, but very low-cal.  I have found several vegan pumpkin pie recipes online, but this spicy and tofu-free one looks the best to me.

Yesterday, I walked toward the door of Trader Joe’s to find this lovely sight:

Finally, as if reading my mind, fellow MoFo-er Vegan Moxie posted today about a Pumpkin Daal recipe she tried, and pointed out my lack of originality (ok, not directly) in writing a pumpkin-heavy post.

What do you guys think?  Are you sick of pumpkins yet?  Coming soon: a pumpkin muffin (with cream cheese frosting!) that will cure that sickness just fine.

Rounding up the veggie webs

This post is part of Vegan MoFo, the Vegan Month of Food.  Enjoy, and visit other MoFo bloggers this month too!


It’s Vegan MoFo, which means there’s plenty go around on the veggie blogs.  Check out some of my favorite MoFo posts from this week!

Spiralizing (?) zucchini is a neat trick–kinda like pasta with no guilt and extra nutrition!  A Soy Bean has a recipe for nice-looking raw zucchini pasta dish.  If, like me, you’re not raw, you can saute the zucchini a bit and heat the sauce for a little more autumn comfort.

I’m usually either too lazy to carve a jack-o-lantern or too daunted by the clean-up required to get fully into the spirit of things this time of year.  This year, howevs, All You Eat is Vegetables? may have inspired me to jump in with the addition of recipes for spiced pumpkin seeds–yum!

I love this blog’s name, and I suspect I’ll love this dish just as much.  Body by Chickpeas tells us how to make “Bosillos Calientes.”

If you, like me, bought black-eyed peas like a year ago, thinking you were just that one ingredient away from becoming a master chef of the Delta, try Down Home Vegan’s recipe for Vegan Hoppin’ John.

And finally, this little joke arrived in my inbox today.  I share because I care:  A CEO, a tea party member, and a union guy are at a table with a dozen cookies. The CEO takes 11 cookies and turns to the tea partier and says, “Look out — the union guy wants your cookie.