Monday, March 8, 2010

Pandora's Easy, Breezy Three Bean Chili

Here is a super fast, easy and tasty chili recipe you can make in your crock pot in minutes!
Serves approximately 6 people.

1 14 to 15 oz can of organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 to 15 oz can of organic Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 to 15 oz can of organic Pinto Beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 to 15 oz can of peeled crushed tomatoes
1 4 to 6 oz can of tomato paste
1/4 cup of water
2 cloves of garlic
onion powder or onion flakes
chili powder
ground cumin seed
hot sauce
dash of salt "cheddar" cheese
shredded soy

Turn crock pot to "high", then gather your ingredients.
Chop garlic cloves well, and add to the bottom of your crock pot. Add tomato paste and water, stir well. Then throw in your beans, and crushed tomatoes. Now here's the fun part. Add the above seasonings to your specific taste. I love chili with a stronger cumin flavor, so I tend to add more of that and the onion powder or flakes. Maybe you prefer a more spicy chili? Add some hot sauce or maybe even Cayenne pepper! Whatever you enjoy, toss it in! Just one word of warning, add these spices a little at a time, stir, and taste. If you don't have these spices, grab a McCormick "Chili" starter bag, and make this recipe even easier!
Turn your Crockpot to "warm" or "low" and let those flavors meld.
This chili is delicious by itself, with cheddar soy chesse, over soy dogs on a bun, or even on top of fries!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pandora's Cheesy, Meaty Lasagna

I made this recipe for my hubby recently just to see how it would turn out. About half way through our meal, he looked at me and said "I thought you'd given up meat and cheese." In fact, it was SO delicious that I made it again when my Father in Law came for dinner!
Its easy, but takes a little time to prepare. I suggest using Teese Cheese Mozzarella for this recipe. Actually, since discovering Teese, I haven't dreamed of using any other Vegan cheese! (Not even Diaya can compare to this cheese substitute!)

Pandora's Meaty Cheesy Lasagna
Serves about 6 to 8

1 Jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (told you it would be easy)
1 Box of 100% Whole Wheat Vegan Lasagna Noodles cooked, according to package (do not overcook!!)
6 to 8 ounces of Bocca meatless crumbles
14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 onion
I package of Mozzarella Teese cheese (about 10 ounces) or your favorite vegan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350

Chop onion and cook over medium heat until tender. Add Bocca "meat" to pan and stir occasionally for 3 or 4 minutes. Then add 1 to 1 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce, cook on low for several more minutes, then set pan aside.

In a food processor, add tofu, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and sea salt. Pulse several times to mix these ingredients well. Tada - you have just made vegan ricotta!!

Coat the bottom of a 13x9 glass pan with sauce, add a layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly. Then add the "ricotta, followed by "meat" sauce, and mozzarella. Repeat until pan is full. Last layer of noodles should be topped with any left over spaghetti sauce and mozzarella.

Cover pan with foil, place on baking sheet and bake for 55 minutes. Then uncover lasagna and continue to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Check on it periodically to make sure the cheese isn't burning. Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving. Viola!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to the Blog

So, I apologize for the long time span between this post and my last. I, like most of you, have been busy with life. I celebrated my 30Th birthday, Drew and I finally spent some quality time together over Valentines weekend, I learned to snowboard, and finally booked our honeymoon to the Caribbean!
AND I have been busy creating more easy and tasty Vegan recipes for you to try at home, as well as doing lots of research for my upcoming blog "the Scoop on Soy"!
I have also been actively seeking out other Vegans in my community as an attempt to gain further knowledge of this life choice. Around the first the of year, I joined a local chapter of the Vegetarian society, and have been exposed to a lot of useful information, including Veg friendly or totally Veg dining establishments, recipes, an amazing short film (Raw for 30 Days), Raw Vegan Chefs, and a host of websites and forums.
As I mentioned above, I have been made aware of another form of Vegan diet called Low Fat Raw Vegan. In an upcoming blog I will briefly discuss the science of cooked foods vs raw foods. I have become very interested in the physical and mental benefits of this special way of consuming my already Vegan diet.
So you're probably wondering if I have felt any positive effects of my Vegan diet so far. YES!!! I have noticed a change in my skin, sleep, my temperament, energy level, "elimination", and even a bit in my waistline! I don't have the breakouts I used to and my skin just looks and feels healthier. I sleep more restfully and have fewer racing thoughts at bedtime. I am less irritable during "certain times of the month", and am able to handle stressful or irritating situations with more finesse. My energy is up and my pant size down (a little). :o) Oh, and my "elimination" has been easy and regular. (I'm sure you were just dying to hear about that! Hahaha!)
One of my favorite effects of my diet, besides saving an estimated 100 animals a year, is feeling full. I can eat a whole meal and not feel tired, bloated, or sick to my stomach. What a difference a Veg makes!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pandora's Basic Hummus Recipe

Here's a great basic, super easy hummus recipe. You can add whatever other ingredients that you want, like sun dried tomato's, olive oil, etc. Be creative! When I use this basic recipe,e I top pita rounds with hummus and cucumber slices, YUM!

1 Can of Chickpeas (aka: Garbanzo beans)
1/3 Cup Tahini
Juice of one small Lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 Cup of Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 to 3 cloves of Garlic (Depending on your taste.)

Drain and rinse Chickpeas throughly. Chop in food processor, then add all other ingredients, and puree until smooth. I recommend that it stands a few hours, or better yet, overnight in the fridge. Serve with Pita Chips and Veggie sticks! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Dieter's Dilemma

Like most American girls, I was taught by the media to have a negative body image. Early on, it was implanted in my mind that skinny = beautiful, and beautiful = acceptance & success. It was and is everywhere you look, ultra thin models and actors in print and on the screen. There was so much perfection to live up to.
Yeah, I know, its a totally unrealistic to be nearly 5'11" and weight 120 lbs, but when you grew up in my shoes, nothing less was acceptable. Besides, Cindy Crawford did it, why couldn't I?
No, I never weighed 120 lbs, but from high school on, my years were spent obsessing over what size my jeans were. My weight was always a top priority, although I failed at achieving my outlandish goals constantly. My casting director/modeling agent grandmother would comment on what a pretty face I had, and that I needed a thinner body to match it. (I was only a size 10!) All of these factors, as you can imagine, led into a spiraling effect of depression and overeating, dieting, depression, overeating, etc. I was always a happy active person, but I rarely felt good about the way my body looked. I had a distorted self image.
Although I was never obese by any stretch of the imagination, I did start to gain a visible amount of weight in college and topped out at a size 12.
I decided one day to stop starving myself, and change my eating habits. Simple when you think about it, but the media doesn't tell young girls how to eat to loose weight. They insist you starve yourself thin, exercise till you drop, or even purge what you've eaten.
I found an eating plan that made sense (high protein, low carb) and I dropped about 21 pounds. It was not an easy eating plan by any means, but I was back in a size 8 and felt fantastic for the first time in a long while. I kept the weight off for a couple years, but life happens, and slowly the weight came back, and before I knew it, my size 10's were getting a bit tight. So, back to dieting.....
My struggle attaining my "goal weight" continues. Now as a Vegan Ive been told that I CAN eat carbs again, that I should be eating delicious pastas and breads along with fruits and veggies! It seems that I have been given permission to indulge in all of those fantasy foods I know I couldn't possibly eat in the past. What is a Dieter to do? I am terrified that I will gain weight,"blow up like a balloon" as my Grandma puts it. I find myself feeling out of control, frightened and confused. I asked myself, "How do I loose weight as a Vegan?"
Within the last week, I have noticed a visible shift in my weight; and not a downward one. I admit, I have been indulging in soy products, whole grains, and lots of delicious fruits, without any real regard to portion control....ooops. I think I was so excited to eat the foods that have been labeled "BANNED" in my brain for so long, that I over did it. Also, there are the most amazing tasting soy ice creams and pizzas, as well as non dairy cookies and treats on the market. Being new to this stuff, I find myself trying pretty much everything labeled Vegan. I also haven't been to the gym since before Christmas either, oops again. So, in order to make a clear judgment on the benefit of a Vegan lifestyle and its connection to weight loss, I must be diligent about how much I'm putting in my mouth, as well as what. Its a strange new and delicious world out there, and as they say, even too much of a good thing can be bad.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pandora's Mock Shepard's Pie

It dawned on me that sharing my new Vegan recipes may help others with their change to a non meat diet. So below is my first original vegan concoction. It turned out really well, and the hubby loved it. Feel free to add or substitute any frozen veggies that you like in the "pie".

Veggie Shepard's Pie, 6 to 8 servings

1 medium yellow minced onion
1 bag of frozen broccoli florets
1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (I like the asparagus, corn, and carrot mix.)
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 can of organic vegetable broth
2 Tbsp of flour
1 1/2 to 2 tsp of Thyme
1 1/2 to 2 tsp of Basil
1 Tbsp of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
3 or 4 medium organic red potatoes
Shredded Vegan Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375

Chop potatoes into bit sized pieces and boil until tender. Chop cauliflower and steam until very tender, about 11 minutes. While cauliflower is steaming & potatoes are boiling, place the minced onion into a large skillet with EVOO and cook over medium hear until onions are a bit translucent. Mix 1/2 a can of vegetable broth with the flour, then add to skillet, followed by herbs. Add all frozen veggies. Continue to add broth as needed if mixed is too thick. Cook the mixture for 3 or 4 minutes longer. (If the mixture is too thick, add more vegetable stock. If its too soupy, add more flour.) Gently stir in red potatoes. Pour mixture into a large, square, glass casserole dish. Pat down the veggies into the dish. Mash the steamed cauliflower, then scoop it on top of the veggie mixture and pat down. Sprinkle with Vegan Cheddar if desired and bake for 30 minutes. Once the cheese is melted or the mashed cauliflower crust is a little bit golden, remove from oven and let stand for 10 or 15 minutes.
Viola! Happy New Year, and a Happy New YOU!

Please share your thoughts, comments, or recipes!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cutting the Cheese

My first week without eating meat has been relatively easy. I've even been able to persuade my husband to try several vegan entrées, and his response has been quite positive.

My only issue, so far, has been cheese. I didn't realize how many of my favorite dishes contain cheese or are topped with cheese. Really, have you noticed this? Tacos, pizzas, cheesecake, Italian dishes, sandwiches, and even salads.

Today was the first day I ventured out to find something to eat other than salad. I went to Subway and I ordered a Veggie Delight. My first instinct was to add cheese to the sandwich. It was when I realized I couldn't, that I started to think of all the food I wasn't going to eat again. I remembered how much I adored cheese and then it occurred to me - I WAS ADDICTED!!

While my friendly yet simple sandwich artist prepared my lunch, I took some time to reflect on the facts I had recently learned about dairy....

As adults, we do not produce the enzyme needed to break down the lactose from dairy products. When our bodies cant break down the lactose, bacteria grows in our intestines. That bacteria, combined with the acidity of pasteurized milk products, can contribute to a greater cancer risk. Cancer cells flourish in acidic conditions. Thats right people, cancer. We are the only species on earth that drinks another species milk in adulthood. Kinda gross to think we could all still be sucking on our Mom's breast at our age, even worse to think about sucking from a cow's tit, but I digress.

All milk contains a protein called casein. When casein breaks down during digestion it produces an opiate. Opiates in milk are the "feel good" chemicals that exist so that a newborn baby will nurse from its mother; always associating that feeling with the act. So, in a way, I am in fact addicted to cheese, or at least the feeling it produces.

Consuming dairy products have been linked to acne, IBS, ADD, indigestion, heartburn, allergies, arthritis, heart disease, autism, obesity, anxiety, and osteoporosis. Not to mention by eating dairy products you are ingesting pesticides, steroids, hormones, and antibiotics that are in these poor cows.

Coming back to my senses, I asked for a big scoop of avocado for my delicious, nutritious Subway sandwich. I cant remember the last time my "diet" allowed for avocado, can you?

I am still, however, without real, fatty, yummy cheese for a veggie pizza. Fortunately, there are several vegan cheeses at the market. The only one I have found that is acceptable to my discerning pallet is made by Daiya. Unlike other vegan brands, this cheese melts and stretches like real cheese. Its also free of preservatives, cholesterol, trans fat, hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, and has 33% less fat than typical cheese. If you want to try it out, Whole Foods Market bakes a Vegan Pizza in the deli made with Daiya.
My conclusion - maybe cutting the cheese it not such a bad thing after all.