Meet Elaine. She hails from Canada’s capital and her meatless menu sounds both delicious and budget friendly. So often we’re told that eating healthfully is pricier than eating poorly. But much like clean cosmetics, when you know what to buy in bulk, a super-healthy, veg-heavy diet can be cheaper than the cheapest of fast food. Do you have any great money-saving tips for healthy eating?
Name: Elaine Hometown: Ottawa, Canada My dietary leanings: On average, my diet probably balances out to be 60% vegan, 40% vegetarian. And very very rarely (read: a few times a year), I’ll eat fish in sushi form. My favorite vegetables: Carrots and sweet potato. But to be honest, there’s no vegetable I don’t like (though I’ve never had amaaazing asparagus). Disclaimer: I’m a student, so on weekends I try to make massive batches of meals (such as stews, grains, beans) to eat up during the busy weekdays. Trust me though, I don’t always have time to stock my fridge with healthy homemade food!
This morning I….
Ate a bowl of overnight oats topped with almond milk, roasted cashews, cinnamon, and homemade applesauce. I also drank a huge mug of green tea.
Then for lunch I…
Cooked up a grilled cheese (on homemade whole wheat) to go with some reheated homemade tomato, onion & pinto bean soup. While that was cooking, I munched on a carrot with roasted red pepper hummus.
As an afternoon snack I had an apple paired with a handful of roasted almonds.
Finally for dinner I…
Made a stir-fry with cabbage, carrot and edamame, topped with a sauce that I whipped together from tahini, almond milk and hoisin sauce. I had the stir-fry with a bit of quinoa on the side.
Last but not least, dessert…
A perfectly ripe banana, smeared with crunchy natural peanut butter – my absolute favourite!
This is one of those my MMs that totally has my mouth a’watering. We’ve gotten some incredible menus, but—and maybe it’s because Tiffany has kids to cook for as well (um, lucky ones)—I’m particularly digging all the variety in these meals!
My Dietary Leanings: Heavily plant based…fish maybe once per week. Always organic (if possible) and primarily whole, unprocessed foods
My favorite vegetable: How do I chose just one!? I have never met a veg I didn’t like…as a child it was always broccoli!
This morning I ate…
A green smoothie consisting of: spinach, cucumber, celery, broccoli, 1/3 of a mango, 1/2 banana, fresh mint leaves, and a splash of carrot juice. Fresh and delish! To this I added a toasted slice of Food for Life Cinnamon Raisin bread with almond butter and sprinkled with flax seeds.
I went to a great kids bookstore today with an organic coffeeshop attached, so I had a snack of a banana and an organic latte! Yum!
I am a big fan of leftovers! So lunch today was a leftover veggie burger from last night’s dinner. I started with sauteed garlic, green peppers, onion, and carrots. Mixed this with cooked green lentils, pureed mushrooms, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup flax seed meal, seasoned to taste with soy sauce, paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Formed patties and refrigerated for 1/2 hour to solidify. I topped them with muenster cheese, spinach, tomato and avocado on a whole wheat bun. With this I snacked on shelled edemame, organic red grapes (I am SO glad they are back in season!) and a Synergy Cherry Chia Kombucha.
AND for dinner…
I went to my fabulous CSA today so I had veggies to play with!! I roasted new potatoes with onions, basil, salt and pepper in the oven at 425 (which it broke my heart to watch my kids dip in ketchup!). Next I sauteed shelled fava beans, garlic scapes, and garbanzo beans with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. My Texan hubby said it was hearty enough that he didn’t even miss the meat. Finally, I sauteed mushrooms and onions and added kale and rainbow chard. I seasoned it with garlic powder, ancho chili powder and black pepper. Sadly, the kids were not fond of the mushrooms or garbanzo beans, but they ate the rest
We had dessert! And here is where our day went awry… Jeni’s pistachio and honey ice cream for the grown-ups and Graeter’s mint chocolate chip for the kids. Lucky for my family, I am a firm believer that an occasional treat is not the end of the world. Especially on those summer nights when the kids eat Kale without complaining! Thanks to NMDL for this series! I can’t wait to read them!
Thanks Tiffany! All I can say is that we’re a wee bit jealous of your family. How much do you wish you had someone making you meals like this for ya?
Meet Lauren. She’s not a full-time vegetarian, but she knows how to eat like one with this nice and simple meatless menu. Don’t forget to send in yours!
Hometown: Los Angeles
My Dietary Leanings: I was a vegetarian for about two years, then earlier this year swung the other way and tried the paleo diet for a while. Now I’m swinging back to a diet that’s meat-selective. So lots of fruits and veggies, some fish and lean white meat, limited dairy and occasional red meat (I have weakness for bacon…). I’ve always baked a lot but I’ve been doing less of that and trying to be healthier when I do.
My favorite vegetable: Asparagus! So versatile.
Breakfast: Homemade banana bread with nuts & raisins, and applesauce instead of butter, made on the weekend, with a smear of almond butter.
Lunch: Spinach salad (spinach, strawberries, avocado, tomatoes, pine nuts, red onion) and a side of roasted chickpeas. This recipe has some nice photos of the process. You can use whatever spices you want and make it in big batches for the week.
Pre-workout Snack: Handful of nuts & dried cranberries
Dinner: Vegan flatbread and fruit salad made with whatever fruit is in the kitchen. To make the flatbread: 1) brush a raw pizza crust with olive oil and bake until golden brown. 2) Once cooled somewhat, spread with hummus or baba ganoush (eggplant hummus). 3) Top with roasted or raw veggies.My most recent version included roasted eggplant, onions, and sundried tomatoes, and sauteed kale.
Dessert: Couple strawberries drizzled with a little honey (they were tart!) and a couple squares of dark chocolate. I got samples from a friend who works here and they make such good stuff!
Thanks for including the chickpea roasting link, Lauren! Also, as a chocolate fiend, I’m very curious about your friend’s company… Has anyone tried these (I just looked and they appear to be vegan)—or do you know of other great vegan chocolates? We still love our Wei of Chocolate, but always up for testing others. :)
More seasoned home cooks in the crowd can probably skip this post and get straight to work on the Summer Hair Challenge. Go on! We’re working on ours.
But for those of you who maybe didn’t use the kitchen until you left Moms, or only discovered vegetables in your thirties (paging my husband on both!), these tips will serve you well.
Ever been to a really amazing Italian restaurant and wondered how they get those simple veggie sides tasting so good? Or maybe you’ve had the experience of perfectly-browned brussel sprouts that turned disdain to devotion in a single bite? Well I have one word for you, and that word is: roasting.
The following method is great for most vegetables but especially the brassica family—like brussels, cauliflower, broccoli and even kale (hello kale chips!)—because they hold up so well to heat. One note: Stick to one vegetable at a time for the sake of simplicity and because combining these types of vegetables can result in tummy troubles for some. So, here goes: the super simple technique that will change your life as a vegetable eater.
1. Olive oil. Once you’ve cut your vegetable to a desired size—know that the pieces will shrink somewhat as they lose their water during roasting—toss them in a decent amount of olive oil. Let’s say about two tbsp for a small head of cauliflower, maybe a little more. If you’re using brussel sprouts, cut them in half. Do the tossing in a bowl with your (clean) hands so that you are certain that each piece is generously covered. Now…
2. Salt. Don’t be afraid of it, and use the good stuff if you’ve got it. When you can’t believe how good vegetables taste at your favorite restaurant, the answer is often salt. We’re told to watch our sodium intake, and for good reason: Most processed foods are ridiculously high in the stuff. But if you generally avoid those foods don’t be afraid of seasoning at home—it’s actually really hard to exceed your daily sodium limit with a salt shaker and whole ingredients (like vegetables!). So salt and toss. Pepper’s good too. And then place your veggies in a single layer on either a pyrex (covered in tin foil to avoid stick and damage) or some kind of sheet pan (nonstick makes things extra easy, though that’s probably thanks to chemicals?). If you’re using brussels, place them flat side down.
3. Oven. You have a few choices when it comes to temperature. EVOO’s smoke point is 405°F, so if you’re concerned about retaining nutrients set your oven a little below that. This is still still plenty high and will get those suckers browned. Sometimes when I’m in a rush though, or after something really crispy, I throw caution to the wind and finish my veggies under the broiler. At around 400, depending on the size of your cut, roasting will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes for anything other than kale. Kale crisps up very quickly so keep an eye on it. After 15-20 minutes, check your veggies and give them a good toss. You will be able to tell if they’re ready just by looking at them. When they start reminding you of french fries you’re done. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Or, take it to next level…Getting fancy: These will be delicious as is, but there are ways to mix it up. There are things you can add to these roasted vegetables and never go wrong (warning: not all suggestions vegan) like a squeeze of lemon, a little more olive oil, a pad of butter (this gives a real yummy richness), parmesan cheese, bacon (that’s been cooked and crumbled separately), some chili flakes, a little balsamic vinegar, some greek yogurt and garlic for dipping, or any favorite homemade vinaigrette. Added bonus if you’re feeding others: Kids, fussy friends, and even super picky manchildren, will love vegetables done this way. Whenever I make vegetables like this for others, they get way more praise than the more complicated items on the table. Not that we cook for compliments. ;)
Are you an oven roaster? What tricks to you have when cooking vegetables? Image via
I mentioned the pesto in passing last week and since I’ve made this dish three times in the last two weeks, for different people and to pretty rave responses, I thought I would share.
First, a word about pesto. EVERYYYYYTHING can be turned into pesto, or perhaps the better way to say it is, pesto can be made out of anything. I’ve made pesto out of every herb under the sun—humble parsley is surprisingly tasty—and they basically all work. Like last night, for instance, I made pesto out of dill and put it on some veggies and halibut, with a little white wine, dijon, olive oil and parm, and holy smokes was it good. It’s hard to mess it up. But this particular pesto is my current favorite, and garlic scapes are cheap at the market right now in the northeast, so here you go.
1/4 lb. of sweet peas, fresh or frozen (ha, “1/4 lb.” I have no idea how much I use; just eyeball it—you want a bunch of peas)
1/2 bunch of asparagus (but maybe just make it all; cooked, it keeps well in the fridge for two days)
a fistful of garlic scapes
1 tbsp Red Star nutritional yeast
good olive oil
salt (gonna fly my pretentious flag and tell you all I live for Maldon)
1 cup fresh arugula, packed but not crushed
brown rice pasta (or real pasta if you are unafflicted)
—Bring water to a boil and throw in your scapes. After about two or three minutes, remove the scapes and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking more.
—Throw your asparagus into the hot water left over from the scapes so as to not waste water, but also because you now have delicious garlic water you won’t want to toss. Remove the spears once they start to get nice and green but not mushy, about 4 minutes.
—If your peas are frozen, do those in a separate pot. The secret to cooking frozen peas? Put them in water before it boils. Once it reaches a boil, you’re done. Turn off the heat immediately, strain and run under cold water, and you will have perfect little peas.
—In a food processor, blender, or a deep bowl with a hand blender combine your scapes with 1/4 cup of good olive oil or more, the juice of one lemon, your fresh arugula, salt and pepper to taste, and some nutritional yeast (or parmesan, if you’re feeling fancy and aren’t vegan). Blend until smooth but no longer.
—I like my veggies to be room temperature when I put them on pasta, so this is when I make my pasta. The fresh noodles will heat up the veggies just enough.
—Cook whatever pasta you like.
—Once done, fold in the pesto and then the peas GENTLY. Add the asparagus at the very end so it doesn’t break up.
—Top with as much cheese or Red Star as you like (and if you’re like me, you like a lot).
C’est tout! What have you made pesto out of? Share, share.