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Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

  1. I Know Your “Chicken”

    December 21, 2015 by admin


    12341322_10208364235247228_2027019583423696611_nWinter is soup season, as much at the TR Home as anywhere.

    Chicken noodle soup is a classic that many people remember fondly from childhood, and treasure on a chilly day, or when they are a bit under the weather.

    But we’re a vegan/vegetarian house!  How can we have all the yummy of goodness of chicken noodle soup while staying within our dietary guidelines?

    Enter: “Chicky” Noodle Soup, a delicious version of the classic that can be made vegan or vegetarian while keeping all the yumminess you expect and remember.

    “Chicky” Noodle Soup


    1 Package Beyond Vegan Chicken Strips (or equivalent)

    2 Carrots

    2 Celery Stalks

    1 Onion

    2 Garlic Cloves

    4 -6 Cups Veggie Broth* (or Water)

    1 teaspoon Oregano

    1/2 teaspoon Rosemary

    Salt & Pepper to taste

    2 Cups Noodles**


    1.  Partially defrost vegan chicken strips, enough so they can be diced.

    2.  Saute Onions, Garlic and Carrots in bottom of soup pot for six minutes or so.

    3.  Chop or grind rosemary in a spice grinder or with a mortal & pestle.  Add to sautéed vegetables.

    4.  Add diced vegan chicken.

    5.  Add broth or water and bring to a simmer.

    6.  Add noodles and cook 10 minutes until soft.

    7.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.


    Invite a friend over to share!

     *  Make your own veggie stock:  The next time you chop onions, peel carrots or use celery, take the peels and bits you don’t want (so long as they are not spoiled!) and boil in water for 45 minutes to an hour.  Things to include in your veggie broth: onions, carrots, celery, parsley.   Thing to avoid in your broth: potato peels, pepper innards, beets.   If you don;t have veggie broth, you can use a vegan vegetable bouillon, available in most groceries.

    **  What noodles to use:  For a more traditional ‘Chicky’ Noodle Soup, use egg noodles.  But these are not vegan.  If you like a vegan soup, we like to use bowtie pasta.  As it gets very cooked, the bowties partially unfold leaving large, flat noodles of deliciousness.

  2. Confessions Of A Mostly Vegan

    July 12, 2015 by admin

    80841_asparagus_mdQuite a few months ago TRMom decided to embrace a switch from vegetarian to vegan.  The decision was 20% political and 80% dietary.  The main push was that TRMom just wasn’t feeling well and wanted to try and figure out why.

    And it worked!  We finally discovered after years of exploration that TRMom can’t digest carrageenan.  (If anyone else suffers from a similar fate, please share as TRMom feels rather isolated.)  Many new and delicious vegan foods were uncovered, and many new recipes tested out.  And the dedication to vegan eating helped her drop a few pesky pounds while feeling better overall.

    But TRMom isn’t 100% happy being a vegan.  It is restrictive in a way that is hard to currently balance.  And life is too short to suffer through something entirely under your own control.  TRMom has decided to be a “mostly-vegan.”

    And not to feel bad about it.

    This means that she won’t actively avoid dairy products or eggs. If there is a veggie burger on a menu, that is good enough for TRMom.  There won’t be a five minute ask and response with the server on whether or not the veggie burger has cheese or eggs in the recipe.

    And if TRMom feels like ordering a slice of pizza, then bring it on.  But there won’t be any compromises with vegetarianism.  The choice she made to not eat meat has been holding over three decades long and is a true part of what defines TRMom.

    No matter what your dietary choices from Vegan to Kosher to Meat lover, it should make you happy. As with most things in life, moderation can be the key to successful change and happiness. TRMom looks forward to maintaining a lot of her vegan ways- just not exclusively. And that is the right thing for her at this point.



  3. Come Kale Or High Water

    July 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1266We are always looking for ways to introduce nutritious snacking option to our kids.

    Kale chips are a low calorie, super easy, and very tasty choice that you can make at home in less than ½ hour.

    Pick up a good bunch of Kale from your local farmer’s market or favorite grocery store.  Wash the leaves and then dry all of them thoroughly.  Next, cut the leafy green away from the stalk.  But don’t just throw out those stalks!  You can save them for soup stock!  Or chop them down and saute them into your next stir fry.  Or feed them to bunnies!IMG_1263

    We hear kale is pretty easy to grow in your garden.  We haven’t tried that yet, but we’ll let you know when we do!

    Tip1: If you fold the kale along the stalk, you can easily cut straight down to separate both halves from the stem.

    Use your fingers to rip down the leafy parts into chip size pieces and put them into a large bowl.  Toss theKale with olive oil and coarse kosher sea salt and set aside.  Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper.

    Tip2: We put a coat of olive oil on our tinfoil.

    Distribute the Kale in an even layer on the cookie sheet.  Cook at 350degrees for 10 minutes.  Rotate your tray and perhaps flip your kale.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until you’ve got your desired crispness.


  4. Mac & Cheese: Variations

    April 15, 2015 by admin

    IMG_3001 Our TR family loves comfort food!  Our feel-good dishes bring a satisfying end to a hard day or a work great as for rainy day pick-me-up.

    One of our longtime favorites is Macaroni & Cheese.  Everyone in our family can dig deep into a piping hot casserole of cheesy noodles any day of the week.

    We long ago perfected a satisfying, quick and easy homemade mac&cheese.  It tastes fantastic and goes together in just a few minutes.

    TRMom’s recent shift to a vegan diet may seem like it spelled the end of mac&cheese night, but it did not.  We just reworked the recipe a bit and use two separate casserole dishes.  We can easily make two versions of mac&cheese: the traditional favorite and a vegan version that TRMom adores.

    First up, the Vegetarian Version:


    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    1/3 Cup Cream Cheese

    3 T Butter

    1/2 to 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs


    1.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2.  Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3.  Mix in Butter and Cream Cheese, and stir until fully melted.

    4.  Mix in shredded cheddar and stir thoroughly.

    5.  Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.IMG_3002


    The Vegan Version:


    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    3 T Earth Balance

    1/2 Cup Teese

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs


    1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2. Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3. Mix in Earth Balance and stir until fully melted.

    4. Mix in Teese and stir thoroughly.

    5. Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.

    We usually make a much smaller portion of vegan mac&cheese, since it is for one serving.  You can scale down or up as necessary to feed your hungry crew.

  5. Healthful Eating

    March 13, 2015 by admin

    In a recent issue of New Scientist, we read an article about eating that echoed points we’ve made ourselves: if you want you and your family to eat healthy food, have healthy food around you.  Now our point is backed up by Science!

    NEw ScientistThe article, “Easy as Pie” summarized some research by pychologist Brian Wansink.  Dr. Wansink put a lot of study into what people do that helps them eat healthier meals. Even if we don’t always do these things ourselves, it all made perfect sense.

    Although we don’t obsess about portion sizes and such at our house, we do try to encourage healthy eating habits. Too much snacking and too big portions can really add up. Spoiler Alert! We’re not twenty any more, so those extra bits tend to stick with us a bit more easily than they did when we were young’uns.

    Some of the research really triggered our interests in psychology:

    • Plates.  We love our Fiesta plates.  But did you know which color plate you use might affect how much you put on it.  It depends on the food and the plate.  If you have high contrast between your plate color and the food, you’ll take less.  So use light colored plates for dark meals, and dark plates for light colored foods.  It will help resolve any issue with too large portions.
    • Where you serve from makes a difference too.  If you keep your dinner serving dishes on the side-boy or on the stove, you’ll take less than if you pass the food at the table.  Also, smaller serving spoons helps you take a smaller portion.  This could come in handy, if you have unexpected guests and need to stretch a meal.
    • The food that’s in sight is the food you’re more likely to eat- a point we’ve raised in past posts. So fruit on the table becomes a snack, chips stashed in the cupboard- maybe less so. Salad greens that are out at dinner are more likely to be eaten. Sugar on the counter is more likely to go into your coffee than sugar stored out of view.
    • If over pouring alcohol is a concern for you, consider buying taller, skinnier glassware.  Even pro bartenders over-pour when given short, wide glasses of the same volume as tall skinny ones.  The bartenders will do this even after you point out their over pouring.  So if you want to keep the drinks light, use taller glasses.

    These little tips won’t instantly turn us all into svelte gods and goddesses, but paying some attention to where and how food is served and stored in your home might help you stick to whatever healthy eating goals you want to reach.

  6. Seitan

    March 2, 2015 by admin

    Seitan is a versatile and delicious complement to many vegetarian and vegan dishes- especially meals that play off traditional meat-based recipes.  In many areas, seitan is readily available in supermarkets and co-ops.  But it is also fun and easy to make on your own.

    An extra advantage of making your own seitan is that you can add your own flavor accents to the basic recipe and make it into whatever you want it to become.  But before we get into all the many variants you can try, let’s tackle the basic seitan recipe.seitan_spongy_400

    There are two main ways to prepare seitan: boiling and baking.   We’ve had great fun with both techniques, but this recipe will be boiled.  Boiling the seitan gives you two chances to enhance the flavors of your seitan: once when you make the dough, and then again when you boil it.

    Making seitan is a lot like making bread.  You’ll add water and other ingredients to flour, knead it and shape it, and cook it.  Unlike most breads there is no yeast, baking soda or other leavenings.  Also, unlike most breads we will cook it by boiling.   Seitan takes about 10 minutes or less to put together and boils for about forty-five minutes, so the whole process can be done in an hour.

    Tip:  Depending on what you plan to do with it, you should probably make your seitan in advance, maybe even a day ahead.  Slicing chunks of boiling hot seitan is not easy (or particularly safe).


    • 2 1/4 cups Gluten Flour
    • 2 t Fine diced garlic or garlic powder
    • 2 T soy sauce
    • 1 Cup Water
    • 10 cups water
    • 3 T Soy Sauce
    • 1 T Vegan Boullion


    1. Mix flour, garlic, soy sauce and 1 cup water in a bowl.  Knead two or three minutes into a dough.
    2. Shape into a ball.  Try to make it as smooth as possible so it holds together in the water.
    3. Bring 10 cups water, 3 T soy sauce and boullion to a boil.
    4. Put the ball of dough in the boiling water and simmer for 45 minutes.

    Tip2:  Gluten Flour, or Vital Wheat gluten is more expensive than All Purpose flour, but you get a lot of seitan out of each batch, so it will last a long time.  It is available at most grocery stores and food co-ops.  Bob’s Red Mill is one brand that is available in many places.

    When forming your dough (Step 1 above) you can add flavors to suit your needs.  Making a mexican dish?  Add mole sauce or chili powder right into the seitan.  Making Italian food?  Add some oregano.  Do you want your seitan to sub for chicken?  Add some vegan “chicken” flavoring to the mix.  The sky’s the limit- be creative!

    One add in that works for all versions is Nutritional Yeast.  This inactive yeast enhances the flavors of many vegan and vegetarian foods. If you can, replace 1/4 cup of flour with Nutritional Yeast- you’ll like the results.

  7. Stir Fry With Seitan

    January 30, 2015 by admin

    We recently added this dish to our rotation.  It is simple and delicious- two qualities that are right on target for how we like to cook.

    We were inspired to create this dish upon reading about a beef-based version in a British cooking magazine.  We thought to switch out the beef for vegan seitan and go from there.  Seitan is a wheat-based meat substitute.  It’s easy to make at home, or you can buy it at most supermarkets (we like Upton’s).  A few other changes to the original British recipe and we ended up with a family favorite- no leftovers from this one, we’re pleased to say.15-Uptons-Naturals-Traditional


    • 1 T Oil
    • One 12 oz. Package of Seitan
    • 2-3 T Black Bean Sauce
    • 1 T Soy Sauce
    • 1 T Corn Starch
    • 1 Green Pepper, cut into thin strips
    • Scallions for Garnish


    1. Slice the seitan into thin strips. (Some brands/batches of seitan slice better than others.  Don’t panic if your’s crumbles more than it slices.)
    2. Heat the seitan in the oil in a large skillet or wok.
    3. Add the Green Peppers, and sauté 3-5 minutes.
    4. Add the Black Bean sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes.
    5. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and corn starch together.
    6. Pour the starch into the pan and mix.  Cook through until sauce thickens.
    7. Serve over brown rice and garnish with scallions.

    Tip: This whole dish goes together in about ten minutes, so make sure you cook the rice first!

  8. Thanksgiving Buffet

    November 23, 2014 by admin

    54952_cornicopia_mdWe love Thanksgiving!  It’s one of the most popular holidays at the TR household.  We count down to it, decorate for it, and just love it!

    Bluey has been talking for weeks about his plans to watch the Thanksgiving parade and we all love the relaxed pace of the day.  We sometimes watch a bunch of movies, or even a little bit of a football game.  We’ve been excitedly going through the grocery store, taking note of special food items here and there that would be perfect for our feasting.

    One thing that’s not perfect for us?  A big sit-down meal.

    We’re just not into it.  We love food and we love eating.  But we don’t like to force ourselves into a drawn out holiday sit-down meal.

    And here’s why:  we’ve done the big Thanksgiving traditional meal and found that it hampers our day.  A day that could be spent in fun and games, silly TV, and walks in the woods instead becomes a day wrapped around a tight schedule.  In order for all that food to come out at the same time for a formal family meal, it needs to be carefully timed out.  The day is spent prepping food instead of relaxing and connecting with family.  We’d rather be free to look at one another and declare: “Let’s go for a walk!” and not worry about whether that means the potatoes will be done in time.

    And then there’s the matter of satisfying everyones tastes.  Rather than cook up a bunch of food that might not be eaten due to the whims of some family members preferences, we like to present a food plan that leaves everyone happy without any worries about who’s eating what.

    We offer a Thanksgiving buffet.

    Our buffet includes all manners of foods: hot and cold; salty and sweet; filling and light.  We select a wide range of items like homemade bread, cheese and crackers, nuts, various unique dips, chips, salad fixings and a few holiday favorites like mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  We bring everything out in waves, a few selections at a time, whenever we feel it’s time for something new.

    For our family, this plan leaves everyone well fed without anyone being stuck in the kitchen all day.  Our whole family is free to take up whatever activities we like without worries about getting home at a particular time, nor concerns about ‘spoiling your appetite’ before the big meal.  Everyone eats what they want, when they want, allowing us to enjoy our time as a family and appreciate what we have.

    And isn’t that the idea?

  9. Holy Mole!

    November 20, 2014 by admin

    IMG_2505We only just started making this Mexican staple, but we are so glad we did!

    We use this sauce almost everyday to bring a bit of zing to all sorts of dishes.  We mix it in with pizza toppings, add it onto nacho platters, and mix it into other dishes like beans and rice.  And yes, it makes a great addition to chili as well.

    The whole recipe goes together in about twenty minutes and will keep for several weekends in your fridge.

    Here’s our version of this classic sauce, based around Guajilla peppers, which are easily found in grocery stores in our area:


    1 t Cumin Seeds

    1 t Coriander Seeds

    2 Guajilla Peppers, Dried

    2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped

    1 Cup Onion, Chopped

    2 Tomatoes, Peeled and Diced

    2 t Salt

    2 T Sugar

    2 T Oil

    1/4 Cup Water

    1/4 t Cayenne Pepper


    1.  Toast the cumin and coriander in a dry pan for a minute or two.

    2.  Remove the stems from the dried guajillas and place in a spice grinder (we use an old coffee grinder for this purpose) along with the toasted seeds.

    3.  Pulse the onions, garlic, dried peppers and seeds, tomatoes and all other remaining ingredients in a food processor.

    4.  Add a bit more water if you’d like the sauce to be smoother.

    Enjoy!  Let us know how you use your mole!

  10. Chili With TVP

    November 7, 2014 by admin

    IMG_8630There are probably as many recipes for chili as there are cooks.  Maybe more.  After all, with so many ways to enjoy chili, who could settle for having just one recipe?  Not us, certainly.

    We make chili almost once a week these days.  It makes a great dinner and can easily be packed off to lunch or reheated as a snack.  Mix it with rice or pasta, or serve with some home-made bread and you have a full meal.

    Our latest iteration is made with TVP- Textured Vegetable Protein.  TVP is a soy-based product that is sold as a dried item in the ‘natural foods’ sections of most supermarkets.  TVP gives this chili a heartiness that we like, especially on a cold day.


    1/3 Cup Dried Chick Peas

    1/3 Cup Dried Red Kidney Beans

    1/3 Cup Dried Great Northern Beans

    2 T Oil

    1 Onion, Diced

    2 Cloves Garlic, Diced

    1 T Cumin Seeds, Ground

    1 t Chili Powder

    1 T Vegetarian Bouillon

    1 Red Bell Pepper

    4 Cups Water

    1/2 Cup TVP

    2 Cups Diced Fresh Tomatoes

    1 t Tabasco Sauce

    Salt To Taste


    1.  Boil beans to al dente.  (They will cook a little bit more in the chili, but not much.)  We like to cook them all in the same pot, but we give the chick peas a twenty minute head start, so they all finish at the same time.

    2.  Saute onion and garlic in the bottom of a stock pot until clear.

    3.  Add spices and bouillon.  Cook for a few minutes.

    4.  Add pepper and cook a few minutes.

    5. Add water and beans – bring to simmer.

    6.  Add TVP and cook ten minutes more.

    7.  Add tomatoes and Tabasco.  Cook five or ten minutes and taste to determine how much, if any, salt you want to add.  You can add more Tabasco or Chili powder if you like more heat.

    The whole recipe goes together very quickly.  The flavors will deepen if you let the chili simmer on the stove.  Enjoy!