Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Barbecued Tofu

Well, I got back in the kitchen to prepare today's lunch because I was in the mood to try a new recipe and eat something that I've never had before. After thinking about a few different things, I finally decided on some type of new tofu dish. So I dug out the vegan cookbooks and started searching for a recipe. I saw several that involved frying the tofu in a skillet. Now, I've eaten tofu several different ways, but I've never actually fried it up in a skillet. So before I got started, I went and read the helpful hints & tips on prepping your tofu, before you cook it, in Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa has lots of tips in there and she recommends pressing your tofu real good, for like an hour, before you cook it. This helps get all the excess water out and makes it easier for the tofu to soak up the flavors of whatever you cook it in. So, as soon as I got home yesterday, I took a package of tofu out of the fridge, opened it, wrapped it in a clean kitchen towel and then sat a bunch of weight on top of it and let it press for an hour. Then I was good to go.

I ended up deciding on a recipe for Barbecued Tofu from The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer. This was my first time EVER making my own barbecue sauce from scratch, and it came out really delicious if I do say so myself. But basically, all the recipe involved was making the sauce and then marinating the sliced tofu in it (the recipe said 5 minutes, but I let mine marinate for more like 20 minutes). Then into a hot skillet they went to fry until they were nice and brown. There are actually three pieces of barbecued tofu in the lunchbox but I think it's kind of hard to see them all in the picture because one of them is hiding behind another one.

I ate some of this last night, and while the barbecue flavor is really good, I am apparently not too keen on using tofu as a "meat replacement", as in a big piece of protein that you cut up and eat in the place of meat. I love tofu in Scrambled Tofu, and I even like it when you cube it up and steam it and use it in a stir-fry or Thai food or something like that. Sliced and fried though, even after pressing, it just doesn't have enough texture for me to really accept it as a replacement for something meaty. I tried freezing it once, for a different recipe, and I didn't think that helped it firm up enough either. I guess I just need to accept the fact that tofu is only going to get so firm, and that's it. I guess the only other thing I haven't tried is baking it. Maybe that would give me a texture that I liked better.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is that this Barbecued Tofu tastes good, I just wish it had more texture to it. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had just made it with some nice big slices of seitan, or heck, even grilled tempeh. Just something with a little more bite to it. Maybe I just need to try baking my tofu. Maybe this is just as good as tofu gets in a dish like this. I do love tofu, in other dishes where it is obvious to me that it's just TOFU and not pretending to be anything else. In a dish like this though, where you slice it up and fry it, I guess my mind just expects it to be a meat replacement and is expecting more in the texture department than tofu can deliver. But the barbecue sauce recipe is yummy and it does taste good on the tofu. Perhaps I should have just cubed or crumbled up the tofu and then cooked it in the sauce and put it on a bun. I think I might have liked that better. Maybe next time.

To go with the tofu, I've got a bunch of steamed broccoli there in the green container and then a few Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the little yellow container. I always have to clench my teeth and make myself be good when I pack these two items now because I SO want to fill the BIG container up with potatoes and put the broccoli in the little container. But I made myself be good, once again.

And I have really gotten on a kick here lately with this homemade roll business. I've been making them almost every day. I mentioned it in a post the other day, but all I do to make them is use my favorite pizza crust recipe with the following modifications: I use 1 1/4 cup water instead of what the recipe says, I use 3 Tbsp. of sugar instead of the 1 Tbsp. that the recipe calls for, and I dump in TWO packages of yeast instead of one. I let the dough rise for about 30 minutes in a nice warm place (I usually use the microwave which I get all warm & steamy by boiling a coffee mug of water in it prior to sitting the dough in there), then I just pinch off little balls of dough (about the size of the ball in a pinball machine) and press 3 of them into each hole in a muffin tin which I've sprayed with canola oil. I usually spray the tops with some more canola oil and then cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise until they're nice and poofy. Then I bake them @ 400 degrees until they are nice and brown, usually 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I use the broiler to brown the tops a little more. Gosh, I just love homemade rolls. Always have. Always will.

So that's my lunch for Wednesday. The Barbecued Tofu is good, and if you like tofu fried like this then you will probably really like the recipe, but I think I might like to try this with one, or both, of the other members of the "holy trinity of meat replacement".

Thanks for stopping by. See everybody tomorrow!

BARBECUED TOFUSTEAMED BROCCOLIROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOESHOMEMADE ROLLFORK & SPOON

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. If you came here today expecting to see something fancy, you're out of luck. Because, for today's lunch, after several days in a row of cooking, I resorted to what I like to refer to as the "Old Faithful" lunch of vegans and non-vegans alike, and that's the Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. It all started last night when I was reading through a back issue of Herbivore Magazine (a really cool magazine you need to subscribe to, by the way). I was re-reading the article where Isa interviewed rocker Joan Jett and came upon the part where Isa asked her how she managed to eat vegan all the time when she was on tour and her response was, "I eat a lot of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches." A little bell went off in my mind... ding! LUNCH!

I have actually been meaning to bring this one day, especially since I figured out how I could squeeze up to three sandwiches (if they're nice & skinny) into my lunchbox. And I didn't just bring them because I wanted a break from cooking something new, I also like the things. In fact, if I weren't trying to display an abnormal amount of variety in my lunches for a blog, I would probably bring PB&J sandwiches for lunch about 60-70% of the time. I do eat them a lot at home, and sometimes I even eat them for dessert because I'll eat dinner and want something sweet, only to discover that there's nothing sweet in the house. PB&J to the rescue. They're also handy if you find yourself in a dining emergency at someone else's home and you didn't have time to arrange what you would eat ahead of time or bring your own food. Almost EVERYBODY has peanut butter & jelly at their house, unless they're allergic to peanuts, of course.

I just slapped some peanut butter and grape jelly on some whole wheat bread and into the lunchbox it went. I was tempted to add some "traditional" lunchbox items that might go with a PB&J sandwich, like potato chips, cookies, etc. But I clenched my teeth and tried to do a little better by including some steamed broccoli and some raw baby carrots instead.

There's actually a lot you can talk about when you are talking about peanut butter & jelly. Take peanut butter, for example, crunchy or smooth? For sandwiches, I am a 100% CRUNCHY kind of person. I think it tastes so much better, and it makes it so much more interesting with all of those crunchy pieces of peanuts in there. When I'm making something where peanut butter is an ingredient though, like those peanut butter & chocolate bars I made a week or so ago, then I do use smooth.

Another thing I always insist on now is that it be NATURAL peanut butter. I just think it's sick to squeeze all of the peanut oil out of the peanuts and replace it with some other, less healthy oil and then load the whole mess down with sugar. Who needs THAT?!?! My favorite brand of peanut butter is actually the Kroger store brand natural peanut butter. It comes in both smooth & chunky varieties and there are only two ingredients; peanuts & salt. I have also tried the Smucker's brand of natural peanut butter, but I really didn't care for it too much. I thought it was kinda' dry and it seemed really gritty to me.

I think it's cool how the peanut oil rises to the top and you have to stir it back in. Plus, if you've ever spread natural peanut butter on a cracker and eaten it, then you know that it normally takes a LOT LESS natural peanut butter to give you the same kick as that highly processed sugar stuff. I didn't know that the first time I tried natural peanut butter, so I just spread what I thought was a normal amount on a cracker and popped it in my mouth. It nearly sealed my jaw shut. Hahahaha

There was an episode of "Unwrapped" on The Food Network a few weeks ago that also gave me an idea for the lunchbox that I never would have dreamed of. Strangely enough, it was a show all about pizza, and they were showing all of these different restaurants across the country that make really distinctive pizzas. Well, they showed this one restaurant that actually made a peanut butter & jelly pizza! It was just pizza crust with peanut butter spread on it and then jelly spread on top of that and baked in the oven. It showed actual customers eating it and they loved it. I never would have thought of doing that, but I guess it would be good. I do like peanut butter on hot toasted English Muffins. So I guess I could see that. It would just be bread, peanut butter & jelly. Really no different than a sandwich. How could that be bad?

So that does it for today's lunch. An easy one, I know, but a yummy one for when you don't have the time, or don't feel like cooking.

Thanks for reading my blog today and I'll see you on Wednesday!
PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY SANDWICHESSTEAMED BROCCOLIRAW BABY CARROTSFORK & SPOON

Monday, January 29, 2007

Vegan Chicken Fried Steak

I never thought I would see those words together in the title of today's lunch, and of course there's really no chicken or steak (heck, it's not even fried), but that's honestly the best name that I could come up with to describe this delicious food that came about as the result of a friend's idea. In case you haven't noticed, I have been obsessing here recently about locating the vegan Boca Chik'n Patties. They make a couple of different versions and one is vegan and one is not. My local grocer used to carry the vegan ones, but for some reason they switched and now carry the non-vegan ones. Well, I finally found a different store which carries the vegan ones and I stocked up this weekend. I ate a sandwich or two this weekend (with Vegenaise & pickles), and figured out something else really delicious to do with them sandwich-style, but I'll share that with you in another lunch. Right now, I have to tell you about this delicious creation.

This is, without a doubt, the most delicious vegan comfort food meal that I have ever had. First, I've got the Vegan Chicken Fried Steak, which is nothing but a vegan Boca Chik'n Patty covered with a delicious vegan brown gravy. This gravy is so good, and it's even fat free! The recipe is really easy, but I did spice mine up just a little bit by adding about 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder along with just a pinch of sage and thyme. It just boggles my mind that you can make gravy like this and it can taste so delicious and be fat-free. Of course, that just gives me all the justification I need to pour it on top of everything. When I first took a bite of this I couldn't believe it. It actually doesn't taste like a chicken patty with gravy on it, it actually tastes EXACTLY like those Salisbury Steaks that come in frozen dinners. Now, I know those things are nasty, and goodness knows what kind of "meat" they are made of, but back in my omnivore days I LOVED that stuff. I am so happy now that I've found a yummy vegan alternative to something that I always considered to be one of my top ten comfort foods. It tastes just like "the real thing" (whatever that means) but it is so much healthier. And the fact that it's cruelty-free, and devoid of any disgusting ingredients, just makes it taste that much better. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I'm the only vegan who used to like stuff like this. If you used to enjoy food like this back in your omni days, I HIGHLY recommend you try this sometime. You won't believe how delicious this is.

I also brought along some standard side dishes that go with a meal like this. I've got some green beans, along with some homemade mashed potatoes covered with some more of that yummy brown gravy. The potatoes are just mashed up with some soy milk, some Earth Balance, a little vegan sour cream and then seasoned with some garlic salt & pepper. Delicious!

To top it off, I even got a wild hair and made some homemade rolls. This may sound funny, but to make rolls, I normally just use my old faithful favorite pizza crust recipe and add two packages of yeast instead of just one, and I add 3 Tbsp. of sugar. It makes awesome rolls. I think I ate four of these last night with melted Earth Balance all over them. It doesn't get much better than that.

This meal is basically vegan cafeteria food. Again, I may be the only one (but I doubt it), but I always loved going to cafeterias when I was an omnivore and dining on all of that meat loaf, country fried steak, vegetables, mashed potatoes & gravy and a basket full of homemade rolls. That's completely out of the question now, of course, but back before I became aware of how unhealthy that food was, and the amount of suffering and death that went into making it, I really did see it as comfort food, and that's exactly what it was to me. Once the curtain was lifted though, and I accepted where that food was coming from, it became obvious that I would never find any type of "comfort" in those foods again.

So imagine how happy I am now to have a vegan version of a meal like that sitting right in front of me. And actually, from what I do remember about the last meat-filled cafeteria meal that I had, I swear that THIS tastes better. Maybe it's just because I know it's vegan, maybe it's just because I used more spices than they probably do in a cafeteria. Who knows? Maybe it really IS better!?!?!?!

So if you're one of the vegans who would enjoy a meal like this (I realize not all vegans are into replicating meals like this) I really do recommend that you try it. This really was one of the best, and most comforting, vegan meals that I have had in a long time, maybe ever!

So I guess that does it for Monday. I am off to heat my lunch up in the microwave. I can't wait until all of the omnivores over in the break area smell this brown gravy and homemade bread heating up. I know they will be drooling. Just another chance for me to show people how delicious vegan food can be. I mean, honestly, even if you were a meat-eater, wouldn't you rather have this lunch instead of a nasty old bologna sandwich?

Gosh I can't wait to eat this...

Thanks for stopping by and I'll see everybody tomorrow!GREEN BEANSVEGAN CHICKEN FRIED STEAKMASHED POTATOES W/ BROWN GRAVYHOMEMADE ROLL (YUM!)FORK & SPOON

Friday, January 26, 2007

Vegan Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna

Today's lunch features one of my favorite things to make, and that's lasagna. I like making it because it is SO easy, and you end up with a ton of food that you can refrigerate and eat on for a couple of days. And I'm all for anything that makes eating delicious homemade vegan food easier and allows me to eat it more often. I remember back when I used to make lasagna as an omnivore. Gosh that was some unhealthy stuff. Just thinking about all that meat in there, and all of that cheese, and all of that fat. It's really not very appetizing. But THIS lasagna is! And it is very, very low-fat. It's my most favorite lasagna recipe. In fact, I think this is about my 6th time making it since I first discovered it online. It is so delicious, and it's even gotten good reviews from meat-eaters that I have fed it to.

So ladies & gentlemen, feast your eyes upon Vegan Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna. I found the recipe over at SusanV's Fatfree Vegan Kitchen sometime last year and have been turning out batch after batch of this stuff ever since. The recipe is easy enough as it is, but I normally simplify it even further by just using canned mushrooms. You don't even have to cook the lasagna noodles, you just lay them in there dry and they cook perfectly with everything else in the oven! The only real mess that you have to make is to create the tofu spinach ricotta in the food processor. And talk about tasty, this stuff is awesome. In fact, last night after I made the lasagna, I was using my finger to lick the food processor bowl clean before I put it in the sink and I just couldn't believe how delicious and cheesy that stuff tasted. In fact, I plan on trying it on pasta at some point in the very near future by itself. I might have to thin it out a little bit with some soymilk, but I think this stuff would be delicious as a sauce on pasta. It would be kinda' like a mix between an Alfredo sauce and a pesto, except it would be basically fat-free (except for whatever fat is in the tofu). This would be awesome because I would eat pesto every day if I could, but I don't want to eat that much fat everyday. Modifying the tofu spinach ricotta into a pasta sauce is on my list of things to do, SOON! If you beat me to it, or have already done it, I would love to know how it turns out.

I made a quick salad using some of the organic baby greens that were on sale at the grocery store this week and filled my dressing container with some more Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing.

Then I toasted up a few pieces of garlic toast and brought along my little container with some Galaxy Vegan Parmesan, just in case. There's already some on the top of the lasagna, but you never know when the urge might hit to really cheese things up.

I really like the way that the whole pasta, salad & garlic toast thing fits into the lunchbox. As you can see from several of my previous posts, it looks like this is going to become a common theme.

Well, I guess that just about does it for another week of grown-up vegan lunches. Thanks for checking in on my blog this week and I'll see everybody next week.

It's time to go heat my lunch up! Have a great weekend!ORGANIC BABY GREENS SALADVEGAN SPINACH & MUSHROOM LASAGNAGARLIC TOASTPOPPYSEED DRESSINGVEGAN PARMESANFORK & SPOON

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Vegan Dining Out @ Ruby Tuesday

Well, I decided to go out for lunch today so I left the trusty lunchbox at home. I started thinking about places that I might like to go, and places that I thought might have decent vegan options, when I remembered a cookout that I was at this past Summer. It was an omnivore cookout, so they were grilling hamburgers on the grill. I brought a little cooler with my own storebought veggie burgers in it that I was going to let them fix for me. Well, I didn't know it, but the daughter of the people who were having the party is a vegetarian (she was in town from college) and they keep these awesome veggie burgers in their freezer for when she is in. They showed them to me, and I had never seen them before. They looked awesome, and according to the label, they were indeed vegan, so I let them fix me one.

Needless to say, it was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had. They are made by a place called Veggie Land. The people hosting the cookout told me that they were the same burgers that they use at Ruby Tuesday. These people also own a restaurant so they had an account with the Veggie Land people through which they could place purchase orders, buy them in bulk, pay with company checks, etc. I think this may be the only way to get your hands on these things. I'm not sure that I could just buy some. Although they told me I could get some by tacking some extra onto their order any time I wanted to.

Anyway, I decided that I wanted one of those veggie burgers today. I have also read on other message boards on the internet where some vegans have reported that some Ruby Tuesday restaurants have replaced the Veggie Land burger with some other brand, which is not vegan. So, before I went for lunch, I called and asked them if the veggie burgers that they serve are the Veggie Land brand. I sat on hold for just a minute while they went back into the kitchen and checked, and they came back and told me that they were. Cool! I got in the car and headed that way.

I ended up getting the veggie burger and replaced the french fries with a side salad. The salad is healthier, plus who knows what else gets fried in the oil that they fry the french fries in. They might have a dedicated fryer for french fries, or they might not. But I didn't feel like pestering them, plus I don't need to be eating fried food anyway. So I got the salad with some balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

For the burger to be vegan, I had to specify that I did not want any cheese or mayo on it. I also had to request that they leave the butter off of the bun and just toast it without the butter on it. No problem. And it was all delicious.

These really are probably the best veggie burger that I've ever had as far as the type that tries to copy the taste and texture of a meat hamburger. They are HUGE! 1/3 of a pound I think. I even discovered that they won an award from PETA.

So, if you're ever out looking for a place to eat, and you're really hungry, then you might want to consider pulling into Ruby Tuesday and chowing down on this award-winning veggie burger. It's really, really good. I definitely need to order some of these through my friends with "connections".

So that does it for Thursday. I am SO stuffed.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

The lunchbox and I will be back tomorrow. See you then!VEGGIELAND VEGGIE BURGERSIDE SALADBALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Vegan Sushi

Today's lunchbox almost ended up being a raw one except for the cooked rice in the sushi. I am still very interested in the whole raw vegan thing and am constantly reading up on it. I've even bought all of the equipment that you need to fix all those fancy raw dishes, and I've got the cookbooks. I just never have done it. If nothing else, I really want to try making the raw burgers and pizza (you know, "junk food" things) just to see what they taste like. I guess the main thing that has kept me from making fancy things like that is just the amount of prep time involved. I mean, if you're going to have to sprout grains to make your raw pizza crust, plus you have to dehydrate the whole thing once it's put together, well then you need to know that you want to have a raw pizza 2-4 days in advance. Of course, it's not really hard work letting something sprout or sit in the dehydrator. I just can't get past the "I want it NOW" mindset. I really would like to try making a raw pizza or burger someday though. I need to just DO it. Anyway...

Today I brought some vegan sushi which I just picked up at my local grocery store. I'm not an expert on sushi but I guess this could be considered an avocado roll since it has avocado in it. There's carrots in there too and, I don't think they show up in the picture very well, but there's some yummy toasted sesame seeds on the outsides of the sushi rolls too. Making my own sushi, like making some fancy raw food, is something else that I've always wanted to do and never gotten around to. Of course, I could just combine the two and make some homemade raw sushi one day. Have you ever seen how they make that before? It is so cool, they replace the cooked rice with raw cauliflower that has been pulsed in the food processor. It looks just like rice. So clever.

I've wanted to make my own vegan sushi before because there are just so many more things that you can do when you make it yourself. You can add tofu, spicy tempeh, and just all kinds of things. For example, if you've got a high speed internet connection and 30 minutes or so to spare, here is the first episode of Isa & Terry's Post Punk Kitchen show where they make, guess what, SUSHI! It's super fun to watch and they show you exactly how to make some awesome vegan sushi. Plus, after that, they make cupcakes!

I finished out the lunchbox with a bunch of raw food. I've got some broccoli & cauliflower, some baby carrots and some edamame. I didn't cook the edamame this time though. I bought it frozen, and I assume it was packed raw. I don't know if you're supposed to eat it raw? If you can eat it raw? But I thought I would just thaw it out and throw a little sea salt on it and see how it is. And for dessert I packed the ultimate in raw vegan convenience food, a Banana Cookie Larabar.

So that's lunch for Wednesday. Not very complicated, but yummy and healthy. Nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for coming by and I'll see everybody on Thursday.RAW BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWERBABY CARROTSVEGAN SUSHIEDAMAMEBANANA COOKIE LARABAR

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Vegan Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It was kinda' cold here yesterday and those hot vegan chili beans & cornbread that I brought really hit the spot. I knew it was going to be cold again today, so I got to thinking about nice hot comfort food and wondered if there was something else that I could bring for lunch that would be really yummy on a nice cold day. Then it came to me. How about vegan grilled cheese sandwiches? YUM!

I made these using the recipe from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. It's probably my most favorite thing in that whole cookbook. There are actually a couple of recipes in there for grilled cheese sandwiches, and these are the "ooey-gooey" ones, or something like that. I remembered making these a little over a year ago when I was first making the transition to veganism. At that time, it was my first experience with nutritional yeasty things, plus I was still in the withdrawal process from breaking my addiction to dairy products, so it tasted kind of strange to me at that time. It wasn't bad, I just wasn't sure that it was cheese-like enough for me. I know now that all of that had to do with the fact that I was indeed physically addicted to cheese (just do some searching on the internet and read about the opiate effects of milk proteins). Once that addiction was broken though, after a few weeks, nutritional yeast based cheese replacements started to taste just fine to me. And now I love them.

Way back then, when I tasted this, it seemed sort of foreign to me. Now when I taste it, it just tastes like what I remember a big old gooey grilled cheese sandwich tasting like. It's yummy. I will give you a heads up on this though, a lot of the recipes in that cookbook are a little heavy on the lemon juice and/or mustard for me. They might not be for you though. But when I make things from that book now, I cut the amounts of lemon juice and/or mustard in half. It makes it come out just exactly the way that I like it. Now I am just amazed at how you can stir together a few ingredients in a pot on the stove, and sometimes, like in this case, not even add any fat to it, and end up with something that, once you've broken your dairy addiction, substitutes amazingly for cheese.

In fact, the only fat in these sandwiches is in the Earth Balance that I grilled them in. And Earth Balance is proven to improve your cholesterol, so there you go. I also like eating these sandwiches because I know there's none of the nasty stuff in them that is found in all dairy products. I won't even say it here because it's almost lunch time and I don't wanna' spoil my appetite.

The lunchbox was looking kinda' bland as far as color goes, so I just through a couple of lettuce leaves and some black olives up there to liven the place up a little bit. Lame, I know, but I am easily amused. As you can see, I fit one whole sandwich in there on the bottom and then I had to stack the one in the back. That worked out good though because it allows you to get a good look at the cross section of the vegan grilled cheese. These sandwiches are pretty thin, so it was no problem closing the lid. In fact, if you were really hungry, you could even sneak a third sandwich in there on top of the one in the bottom section. Two will be enough for me though.

It's been more than 48 hours since I ate some Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, so I threw some of those in, along with some blueberries for dessert. I actually froze these last Summer after a friend picked them at a farm not too far from where I live. I just noticed them in the freezer there last night and thought the idea of eating blueberries in the middle of Winter seems interesting. Why not?

So there's lunch for Tuesday. It just goes to show again that there is a vegan replacement for just about anything that you can think of. And once you lose your taste for (and addiction to) all of the nasty things that are in the animal versions of these foods, the vegan versions are every bit as yummy, if not more so. Plus, you'll feel better about eating it because you'll know that it's healthier for you and that no one had to suffer or die to make it. How can you beat that?

Thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow!VEGAN GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHVEGAN GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHBLACK OLIVESBLACK OLIVESROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOESBLUEBERRIESFORK & SPOON

Monday, January 22, 2007

Vegan Chili Beans & Cornbread

Well, needless to say, I ended up not trying the veggie burger recipe that had me all stirred up last week (the one I wanted to modify and make "chicken patties" with). The main reason I haven't tried it yet is because I still don't have any chickpea flour. I just wasn't anywhere near the health food store this weekend and my local grocery doesn't carry it. Another reason is because I checked on Boca's website and there are apparently still stores near me selling the vegan version of their chicken patties, just not the store that I go to. So, I am going to check on the other local stores that supposedly sell these things and I might be set then in the vegan chicken patty department. I just love 'em. But I admit, it would be cool to be able to make them from scratch.

Even though I didn't try the veggie burger recipe, I was still in the kitchen a little bit. Something else that caught my eye last week was the chili recipe over at SusanV's Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blog. It's finally cooled down outside here and some hot chili sounded like it would be really yummy. I, of course, had high hopes that I would try making it from scratch, but discovered that I was (once again) short of a few ingredients, plus I located some other items like a tomato that I really needed to use before it was past the point of no return. So I ended up making chili beans the lazy way that I normally do, but with a few changes.

The chili started with a couple of cans of beans from the store. Sometimes I mix pinto beans, navy beans or great northern beans, it depends on what's in the cabinet. Last night though, I just had a couple of cans of Kroger brand chili beans. It's already a mix of beans with the seasonings already in there. First, a chopped onion was sauteed until nice and tender and then the two cans of chili beans got dumped in. I chopped up a tomato that I really needed to use and threw that in there too. Then I added some more storebought chili seasoning (the stuff that comes in the envelopes) just to season it up a little more, and then, for the first time, I tried something new. I added 1/2 cup extra water and 1/2 cup of TVP granules. Then just let the whole thing simmer for a little while and it's done. YUM! Adding the TVP like that really makes it seem like there's meat in there. I will definitely be doing that from now on. I still want to try SusanV's recipe though. Perhaps someday I won't be in such a hurry.

The organic baby greens were on sale at the grocery store this week so I threw some in for a salad. In the dressing container I've just got 1 Tbsp. of olive oil mixed with 1 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar. I just couldn't bring myself to bring that poppyseed dressing again. HA!

I also made some cornbread muffins using my favorite vegan cornbread recipe from over at the Post Punk Kitchen. These are always good. Sometimes I make it in the cast iron skillet, but when I am planning ahead for lunch, I usually make muffins because they fit into the lunchbox so well.

And to finish things off, I just whipped up my own little batch of trail mix by mixing some stuff I had around. There's raw sunflower seeds in there along with raisins and some dried cranberries. I must admit, I have been tempted to make some more of those peanut butter & chocolate bars from last week, but I thought I would give it a rest and try to have a healthier dessert at least one or two days this week. Don't be surprised though when you see me bring those bars again. Those things were so good. You know, the more I think about it, I am really surprised that Reese's hasn't come out with a version of their peanut butter cup that has crisped rice in it (not that I would eat it). Maybe they did and I just missed it. Of course it doesn't really matter because the homemade ones are better and they're vegan.

So that's lunch for Monday.

Thanks for reading my blog and I'll see everybody tomorrow!ORGANIC BABY GREENS SALADORGANIC BABY GREENS SALADOLIVE OIL & RED WINE VINEGARVEGAN CHILI BEANSSUNFLOWER SEEDS, RAISINS & CRANBERRIESVEGAN CORNBREAD MUFFINFORK & SPOON

Friday, January 19, 2007

Naturally Preferred Veggie Burger

Well, I was all stirred up yesterday evening and I was going to try making some homemade veggie burgers from a new recipe that I found on the internet. So I went to the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients that I needed when I discovered that my local grocery store does not carry chickpea flour. Dang it! I think they carry every other product that Bob's Red Mill makes except chickpea flour. So, I will have to make a trip to the health food store to get that. I guess the weekend might be a better time to experiment with a brand new recipe anyway.

So, without the chickpea flour, I knew I wasn't going to be making any homemade veggie burgers, so I walked over to the freezer section and started looking at the veggie burgers there to see if there was anything new, and vegan. That's when I spotted a box of veggie burgers called Naturally Preferred. There's not too much info on the internet about them, although I think I have seen them in the health food stores before (I could be wrong), but this was my first sighting of them in a regular grocery store. I checked the ingredients to see if they were vegan, and they were. Then I noticed something strange about the ingredient list. It basically read like the veggie burger recipe that I was wanting to try last night, which is pretty much just a combination of TVP and vital wheat gluten (along with a little chickpea flour) and some flavorings. I decided to pick up a box of these so I would have something to compare my homemade burgers to so I could see how close I could come to achieving that storebought veggie burger texture.

I ate one of these last night and it was very good. Now it's probably my favorite vegan veggie burger that is supposed to be an imitation of a beef hamburger. It will be interesting to compare the homemade ones to this (once I make them) and see how close I can get. For today's lunch, I just brought one of the Naturally Preferred patties on a whole wheat bun with a couple of pickles. I used to have to bring along some Vegenaise in one of the little blue lunchbox containers, but now I just keep my own big jar of Vegenaise in the fridge at work. For me, there's less waste that way. Mmmmmmm... I love veggie burgers with Vegenasie and pickles.

In the red container I've got some delicious BBQ Soy Crisps by Genisoy. My boss introduced me to these things a month or so ago and I have been buying bag after bag since then. These are so delicious, and so much more substantial than just a regular old rice cake. The BBQ flavor on them is really good too. The only bad thing about them is that it is entirely too easy to eat the entire bag in one sitting.

And then, I accidentally turned today's lunch into a big 'ol soy fest by bringing some edamame. This was actually my first time trying edamame since becoming vegan. In fact, I had never even heard of them until after I became vegan. Now, I think that the ones that are still in the pods are really cute, and it would be fun to pop them out of the pods and eat them, but space is at a premium in the lunchbox, so I couldn't afford to fill up a bunch of space with the pods. So I bought the ones that were already shelled. I just boiled them and then used a grinder to put some nice chunky sea salt on them. I tried some of these last night too and I really liked them. I will definitely be snacking on them a lot in the future.

Dessert ended up being a Cashew Cookie Larabar for the sake of simplicity, and also because it's NOT made out of soy. I was so happy yesterday when I went into the store and the Larabars were still on sale. I stocked up again. I have gotten into the habit here recently though of eating one of these for breakfast every morning on my drive to work, so my stash never seems to last that long anymore.

Well, that just about does it for Friday's lunch. If I can locate some chickpea flour this weekend, I might try making that veggie burger recipe that I'm so interested in (I'll wait until I actually try it before I show you where I got it, I want to make sure that it's good). If I can't find that, then who knows what I might end up bringing.

Thanks for looking at my blog and I'll see you on Monday.

Have a great weekend everybody!GENISOY BBQ SOY CRISPSNATURALLY PREFERRED VEGGIE BURGEREDAMAMECASHEW COOKIE LARABARCASHEW COOKIE LARABARFORK & SPOONFORK & SPOON

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sunflower Seed Veggie Burger

Today's lunch has a homemade veggie burger that I made trying to copy one of my favorite storebought burgers. I brought a yummy Sunshine Burger in my lunch in a previous post and I have been on the lookout for a recipe that might let me make a similar burger at home since then. If you've never had a Sunshine Burger, they are really different, in a good way. Well, for one thing they are green, which kinda' turns some people off. But they are quite delicious and have ended up being probably one of my favorite veggie burgers.

They only contain a few ingredients, the main one being sunflower seeds, and after searching around on the internet, I finally came across this recipe, which was exactly what I was looking for. I altered the recipe a little bit. For one thing, I skip the roasting the nuts in the oven part (I did it once and it just seemed like extra work that didn't seem to affect the finished result much), I also leave out the cashews because they are much more expensive than sunflower seeds, plus a Sunshine Burger doesn't have any cashews in it anyway. I only make these in a half batch each time, that gives me 12 burgers and they freeze really well. The Sunshine Burger contains herbs also, but I don't know which ones, so I just started throwing 1 Tbsp. of dried basil in. It tastes really good. The best thing I can think of to compare the taste of this burger to is Stove Top Stuffing.

To go along with my burger, I brought some more Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. I've almost always got some hanging out in the fridge because I make them so often. Plus, I am starting to really prefer these in my lunchbox over french fries because the french fries always end up a little soggy after you microwave them whereas the roasted potatoes are just fine.

There were just a few baby carrots left in the bag that I had in the fridge so I threw those in too.

For dessert I brought the last of the Peanut Butter & Chocolate bars that I made the other day from the recipe in La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. These are so delicious and I highly recommend making them.

Well, that's lunch for Thursday. I'm already thinking about tomorrow and I can't decide if I want to go out and eat somewhere or try this new veggie burger recipe that I found. Yes, I might have veggie burgers two days in a row, but this new recipe that I want to try is nothing like the buger I brought today. It's a recipe to make veggie burgers that are the texture of the storebought burgers like Boca burgers. I would love to be able to copy the texture of storebought burgers, plus, by changing the seasonings around and breading them you can even make them into chicken patties. That's really what I am interested in since there are no vegan chicken patties here where I live anymore. The Boca brand ones were vegan here for a little while but then all the stores switched to a different version which is not vegan. If I want a vegan chicken patty now I have to drive all the way to Asheville, NC to buy the Health is Wealth brand. So being able to make my own chicken patties would be a lifesaver. I guess I'll probably try the recipe in it's original veggie burger form first though. I guess we'll see.

Thanks for stopping by. See everybody tomorrow.ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOESPEANUT BUTTER & CHOCOLATE BARSUNFLOWER SEED VEGGIE BURGERBABY CARROTSFORK & SPOON

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Penne with Vegan Pesto & Feta

Today's lunchbox contains one of my favorite things to eat, yummy whole wheat penne pasta covered with pesto. I have always loved pesto, even before I became vegan, and luckily, pesto is one of those things where the vegan version tastes pretty much identical to the non-vegan one. The pesto dish is really two new recipes in one as I continue my quest to try a few new recipes instead of just relying on my favorites that I seem to make over and over again.

The pasta is just a whole wheat penne that I picked up at the grocery store. I did scan the ingredients quickly though because I have been burned on pasta before. Sometimes they will sneak egg whites or something like that in on you. The pesto sauce that I made is Tyler & Phoebe's Perfect Pesto Sauce from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. It's delicious. It's just like making regular pesto except you leave out the Parmesan cheese. Other than that, all of the ingredients are the same. At some point in the future, I would also like to try Isa's pesto recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance because I noticed that it uses walnuts instead of pine nuts. I really need to find a better source for pine nuts than my local grocery store. I get so mad every time I buy them there because they are $5 for this teeny tiny little bag. I know they can be had for less. They are so yummy, but I would like to try making pesto with walnuts sometime too. I have read good things about it on other message boards.

I also threw some Faux Feta Cheese (also from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer) on top of the pesto. It's good, although I think that the next time I make it I will add more salt than the recipe called for. From what I remember from back when I used to eat Feta, it basically just tastes like salt, which I why I liked it so much. This stuff is good, but it seems like more of the flavor comes from the red wine vinegar and the herbs than from salt. I will make it again, but I would like to experiment with it.

I threw in a nice salad with some big black olives on it to go with my pasta. I thought about bringing a different salad dressing than the Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing that I have been bringing all week, but I couldn't think of any that I would rather have so yes, I brought it again.

I toasted up a few slices of garlic toast and this time I remembered to bring my other little blue container with some Galaxy Vegan Parmesan in it. I'll dump that on my pasta right before I eat it.

So I guess that does it for Wednesday's lunch.

Thanks for coming by and I'll see everybody tomorrow!SALAD W/ BLACK OLIVESPENNE W/ VEGAN PESTO & FETAGARLIC TOASTVEGAN PARMESAN CHEESEPOPPY SEED DRESSINGFORK & SPOON

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Vegan Pepperoni Pizza

Today's lunch features what I still consider to be the holy grail of veganism, vegan pepperoni pizza. I brought this for lunch once before, but this time it's a little more homemade. In my previous attempt, I used storebought vegan mozzarella cheese, which is all fine and good except that it costs quite a bit, it can sometimes be difficult to find, and it can be a challenge to find a brand that you really like. Well, I had found a brand that I liked, but I still thought it was a little expensive, plus I don't like driving an hour there and an hour back just to get it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I probably didn't need to spend so much on a nice solid vegan mozzarella when all I was gonna' do with it is melt it on a pizza. When it's melted on pizza, it's really no different than one of the many vegan cheese "sauce" recipes that are out there floating around on the internet. So this time I decided to make my own vegan cheese and see how it turned out.

I ended up using my favorite pizza crust recipe, with the modifications mentioned in my previous post, and my favorite pizza sauce recipe. I made the vegan cheese using a recipe that I found over at Kittee's website in the pizza section. Kittee is a fellow ppk'er and she has some really awesome recipes at her website. It's definitely worth checking out. They finally started carrying Yve's Vegan Pepperoni at my local grocery store, so I have no trouble getting them now. Really, they are the only storebought thing on the pizza. To make a long story short, the vegan cheese recipe that I found over at Kittee's is now my favorite. It's so easy to whip up in just a couple of minutes and it tastes every bit as good, if not better, than expensive storebought vegan cheese. This is what I plan on using every time that I make pizza from now on. It's yummy.

I threw in another baby greens salad with some more Brianna's Poppy Seed dressing. I still can't believe that this stuff is vegan. But I'm glad it is.

For dessert, I wanted to try something a little different. I have been craving a Reese's Cup here lately so I started looking around for vegan recipes that combine the flavors of peanut butter and chocolate. I found what I was looking for with Daniyell's Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bars from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer. EXCELLENT! They're bars made with peanut butter, sugar, puffed rice cereal, etc. And they are topped with delicious chocolate. Very, very good. I highly recommend them.

Well, I guess that just about does it for today. It's time to go eat my pizza.

Thanks for checking in and I'll see everybody on Wednesday.BABY GREENS SALADBABY GREENS SALADPOPPY SEED DRESSINGPEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE BARVEGAN PEPPERONI PIZZAFORK & SPOONFORK & SPOON

Monday, January 15, 2007

Chickpea & Hijiki Salad Sandwich

Today's lunchbox contains all the fixin's for a great big Chickpea & Hijiki Salad sandwich. If you're not already familiar with such a salad, it is basically vegan tuna salad. Back when I used to eat meat, I really liked tuna salad sandwiches, but as long as I've got some of this stuff on hand I don't need to feel like I have to do without. It's a very good cruelty-free replacement for tuna salad, and it tastes delicious on sandwiches, on crackers, or plopped on top of a big bed of lettuce. This particular recipe came from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I've made it a bunch of times, strictly by the book. The next time I make it though, I am thinking about modifying it a little bit by adding some sweet pickle relish. I used to always put that in my tuna salad and I think it would definitely be a plus to this recipe. Of course, it's also perfect just the way it is.

If you've never cooked with Hijiki before, it's a dried seaweed that can sometimes be a little bit difficult to locate, depending on where you live. You can see it in the lunchbox picture as the little black pieces in the Chickpea & Hijiki Salad. You just rehydrate it with a little bit of boiling water. It can also seem like it's really expensive, but it's really not that bad. I picked up a small bag of it over a year ago and was kind of shocked when I saw the price on it. If I remember correctly it was almost $10. I thought, "Ten dollars for THIS!?!?!" I have seen people on other message boards who have found it for significantly less, but that was my only available option. I had really been missing tuna salad, so I bought it even though I thought it seemed expensive. Well, come to find out, that bag of dried Hijiki has lasted me a year and I have made Chickpea & Hijiki salad lots of times. So when you think of it like that, it's really not expensive. It lasts a long time.

I decided to just pack the Chickpea & Hijiki salad separately from the bread so that my bread wouldn't end up being all soggy by the time lunchtime rolled around. The bread is just a big hoagie bun that I snagged at the grocery store. This bun does have sesame seeds on it, and that caused me to check the ingredients VERY carefully, because a lot of times when you have bread with some type of seeds stuck on it, they will use eggs to stick those things on there. I'm not sure what they used on this brand of bun, but it wasn't eggs.

For a side dish, I brought some Rosemary Roasted Potatoes that were left over from Sunday brunch. It's just some potatoes and onions roasted up in olive oil with some garlic salt and rosemary. I swear I could live on these.

I threw in a Cherry Pie Larabar for dessert. I just propped it up there like that so I could take my picture for the blog. After I took the pic, I just slid the bar in there in that little bit of space between the bun and the plastic container holding the potatoes. It fit right in that spot and I was able to close the lid of the lunchbox with no problem.

There are lots of other recipes out there for making a vegan version of tuna salad. There's one in La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer that I plan on trying very soon. It contains a lot of the same ingredients that are in the Chickpea & Hijiki Salad, but instead of using chickpeas you use tempeh. That would give it a lot more texture, and it something that I will definitely be trying here in my lunch in the near future.

So that's lunch for Monday. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you tomorrow!ROSEMARY ROASTED POTATOESCHICKPEA & HIJIKI SALADHOAGIE BUNCHERRY PIE LARABARCHERRY PIE LARABARFORK & SPOONFORK & SPOON

Friday, January 12, 2007

Brown Rice & Vegetables

Today's lunchbox contains a mixture of both storebought vegan food items and some homemade stuff. As you know, it's difficult to cook from scratch all the time, and that's where all of the new vegan friendly items that you can pick up at basically any grocery store now come in so handy. I guess that's one of the things that I am trying to demonstrate on here. It's not difficult to eat vegan. When you have time to cook something delicious, that's good. I love sitting down to a nice home cooked vegan meal, and I love opening up the lunchbox to find yummy home cooked vegan food. But whenever you find yourself short on time, or you just don't want to eat the same thing for lunch that you just had for dinner, that's where prepackaged vegan food can save you. It's everywhere now.

Today, I am relying on Amy's Brown Rice & Vegetables for my main course. There's lots of brown rice in there, I even think there is quinoa, along with lots of vegetables and tofu. It has this yummy sesame and tahini dressing on it too. It's very delicious and filling. I always like to keep a few of the vegan products from Amy's Kitchen in my freezer for the times when I just can't decide what I am going to pack for the next day's lunch. It's kinda' funny because whenever I think about brown rice & vegetables I always think of the restaurant scene in that movie "Showgirls". I don't know why they didn't like their brown rice & vegetables because these are yummy.

I threw in a salad of baby greens and tossed a little carrot on top there just for a little color. I couldn't decide which salad dressing I wanted, or if I just wanted to whip something up, when I spotted a bottle of Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing in the fridge. Now, I'm not the one who bought this, but I remembered that I used to LOVE this stuff. I started to not even look at it because I figured it was not vegan, I mean, it looks like it's cream based. But I picked the bottle up and read the ingredients and lo and behold the stuff IS vegan. Who knew? I'm really excited now because this stuff is awesome on fresh peaches. Mmmmmm... can't wait to bring that for lunch.

And to finish off today's lunch, I brought a bunch of Ritz Crackers to eat with some homemade Roasted Red Pepper Hummus that I made. I make this stuff all the time and I absolutely love it. It's not an "uncheese" recipe per se, but I think that it tastes just like some type of cheese spread. Actually, I have spread it on bread before and eaten it as a pimento cheese sandwich. To make it, I just dump the following things into the food processor: 1 can of drained chickpeas (save the juice in case you need to thin it out at the end), juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, and 3 Tbsp. Tahini. I mix it all up real good and then just start dropping in roasted red peppers until it turns the color that I like. It looks just like cheese spread. I pause a lot and taste it along the way until I get it just the way that I want it. But it's really easy to make and takes all of 5 minutes. I almost always have some of this stuff hanging out in the fridge for snacking.

Well, I guess that does it for this week. Thanks for checking in and I'll see everybody on Monday.

Have a great weekend!
BABY GREENS SALADBABY GREENS SALADPOPPY SEED DRESSINGBROWN RICE & VEGETABLESRITZ CRACKERSROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUSFORK & SPOON

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Vegan Rib Sandwich

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting tired of those commercials that pop up every few months or so announcing that a certain rib sandwich is "back"? I mean, where did it go? And why didn't they leave it there? Joking aside, that certain rib sandwich, as nasty as it may be, was one of my favorite things back when I used to eat meat. Although I will admit that I had a bad experience with one once upon a time and never ate one again. That experience really should have been enough to convert me to veganism a long time ago, but I'll shut up about that story and start talking about today's lunch.

If you haven't tried Gardenburger's Riblets on a sandwich yet, you don't know what you are missing. These things are so delicious, and they taste just like the sandwich from you-know-where, only they're completely vegan, so you won't find anything nasty in them. They come in a pouch that you just microwave and they have lots of yummy sauce in there. There's so much sauce, in fact, that I didn't want to put it all on my sandwich because I was afraid it might make my bread too soggy before lunchtime arrived. To solve that problem, I simply poured all of the extra barbecue sauce into the little blue container and popped a lid on it. Now all I have to do is reheat my lunch and then pour all of that yummy sauce on my sandwich. Sometimes, I do put some diced onion and some pickle slices on these, but I skipped it this time. Needless to say, I left the top part of the bun off so that I could photograph the "ribs". After I took the pic, I just put the top half of the bun on and closed the lunchbox. It fit with no problem.

I also brought some Ore-Ida Country Style Fries which I baked in the oven in an attempt to make them a little bit healthier. These are my favorite french fries right now. They are really good. Reheating fries at work does lead to a little sogginess, but not enough to deter me. I think they're still good.

Whenever I end up with an empty container in the lunchbox and I don't know what to put in it, the usual choice ends up being baby carrots. I like them, they're good for me, and you can eat them with your fingers. All a plus in my book.

Since I didn't need the fork & spoon today, that left me a little room there on the side for some dessert. I decided to go with something easy, healthy and delicious and just plopped an Apple Pie Larabar in there. The Larabars are on sale at my local grocery store this week and I stocked up. I even turned some lady onto them who was standing there looking at all of the nutrition bars in awe trying to decide what in the world would be good out of those hundreds of choices. She saw me grabbing all of those Larabars and saw how excited I was that they were on sale, so she asked me about them and I went into this big long speech about them and how much I liked them. Needless to say, she started grabbing some. It's fun to introduce people to something that they don't know about and that's actually good for them.

Well, that's it for lunch today. Today's lunch was really easy because it was all storebought. Of course, I love home cooking, but sometimes you just don't have the time to do it. That's why I am thankful that there are so many vegan options available now, even in regular old grocery stores. It really does make life easier.

Thanks for stopping by today. I'll see everybody on Friday.
ORE-IDA COUNTRY STYLE FRIESBABY CARROTS
VEGAN RIB SANDWICHBARBECUE SAUCE
APPLE PIE LARABAR

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Spaghetti & Vegan Meatballs

Today's lunch is a great example of utilizing leftovers that would have normally been wasted and combining them with some new items to produce the exact lunch that I wanted to bring today. Last night, when I started thinking about today's lunch, I decided that I would like to have spaghetti. I didn't really want to fix spaghetti for dinner last night though, so I looked in the fridge, made a few discoveries and this is what I did.

I made pizza the other night so I spotted some leftover pizza sauce in the fridge. Normally, I end up throwing this out. But last night I thought, "Hey, that could be spaghetti sauce!" And sitting on top of the container of pizza sauce was a small container of a few unused sliced mushrooms, also from pizza night. It was all starting to come together. I simply cooked up a small amount of pasta, threw the mushrooms into the pizza sauce, um, I mean spaghetti sauce, and topped the whole thing off with 3 Nate's Zesty Italian Meatballs. They're vegan, and quite tasty. I would like to try making my own vegan meatballs one of these days, but last night I was just interested in convenience. And if you're interested in the pizza sauce recipe, it can be found here. It's my favorite pizza sauce recipe because it is so yummy and so simple to make. And now I've discovered that it makes a good pasta sauce too.

I made a quick salad with some baby greens and filled the small blue container with some Ken's Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinagrette dressing. This stuff is delicious.

I finished the lunchbox with some pieces of garlic toast which I made by simply spreading some Earth Balance on some wheat bread, sprinkling it with some garlic salt, and then toasting it until it was nice and crunchy.

Now that I look at the picture of today's lunch, I can see a missed opportunity. I usually try to make my lunch look as nice as I can because it makes me feel good about my lunch when I can open it and see a nice layout, but it also helps to impress people who might be looking over your shoulder when your standing around the microwave at work and can help you spread the word that veganism can be delicious, pretty and fun. Well, when I do this lunch again, I think that next time I will add one more little blue container (like the one that the dressing is in, I have an extra one) and put it down there in that empty space at the bottom of the toast and fill it with some vegan parmesan "cheese". I have some at home, although I can't recall the exact brand right now. That would really finish this lunchbox off.

Anyway, I was a little later posting today because I'm posting AFTER I ate my lunch. Most of the time I do it before. I am happy to report that everything was delicious and I am STUFFED.

Thanks for checking in today and I'll see you tomorrow.
BABY GREENS SALADSPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS
GARLIC TOASTGARLIC TOAST
RASPBERRY WALNUT DRESSINGFORK & SPOON

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tuesday Vegan Brunch


Well, it's been a while since I brought breakfast for lunch, but this is how it happened. I was craving this meal on Sunday but I ended up not having enough time to make it. So I made it last night for dinner instead. I always really liked having a big 'ol biscuit & gravy breakfast for dinner when I was an omnivore. And even though I'm vegan now, I still really enjoy it, and this is my favorite vegan version of it. I had plenty of leftovers which, of course, make perfect subjects for the next day's lunch. Plus, it's kinda' fun to have brunch at work.

First of all, I've got a couple of yummy Baking Soda Biscuits made using the VwaV recipe. You really can't tell these from biscuits made with milk & butter and non-vegans will eat them quite readily. Sometimes I like to add some vinegar (a tablespoon or so) to my soymilk to simulate the taste of buttermilk, but this time I didn't do that. I also like to spray the tops with canola oil spray (or dab on some melted Earth Balance) as soon as they come out of the oven. It keeps them from seeming too dry. They really are good biscuits. I left out the red container so that I could squeeze two biscuits into the lunchbox.

In the purple container I've got some gravy for my biscuits that has some VwaV Tempeh Sausage Crumbles added in. I make these sausage crumbles all the time and use them in gravy, in spaghetti sauce, in a stir-fry or wherever. They are so versatile. To make the gravy I just melted 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance, stirred in 1/4 cup flour and stirred it around and browned it a little bit on medium-high heat and then started slowly whisking in soy milk until I had the consistency I wanted. I then added 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. sage and a bunch of pepper. The tempeh sausage crumbles finished it off and it is deeeeeeeeeelicious.

In the green container I've got some Scrambled Tofu which is also made from the VwaV recipe. If you don't have this cookbook yet, what are you waiting for?!?!?! I use it more than any other cookbook I've got and I have yet to find a bad recipe. This Scrambled Tofu is so much better than the stuff that you can make with the little storebought package of seasoning. I usually wing it a little bit and add ingredients based on what I happen to have at the time. This batch was especially yummy because I actually had mushrooms, fire roasted red peppers and carrots in my kitchen all at the same time. This stuff is so good, and it's even better the next day. It makes tasty burritos too.

I slacked a little bit on the hash browns and just picked up a bag of frozen Ore-Ida Hash Browns. A quick scan of the ingredient list let me know that they were good to go. You have to check because you never know when they might try to sneak some whey in there on you. These are okay, but homemade potatoes are better. Maybe next time.

I am planning on probably eating the scrambled tofu first. That will give me an empty container that I can then crumble my biscuits up into and then cover with the gravy. YUM! YUM! YUM!

Needless to say, I didn't include any kind of dessert in today's lunch. I don't think I will need it, do you?

Thanks for stopping by. See you on Wednesday!

SCRAMBLED TOFUHASH BROWNSBISCUITSGRAVY W/ TEMPEH SAUSAGEFORK & SPOON

Monday, January 08, 2007

Vegan Lunchcast Rises Again?

Call it a New Year's Resolution or whatever you want, but I am seriously considering starting this whole blogging thing again tomorrow. No, nothing bad happened to me after the seitan tutorial. I wasn't killed in an unfortunate Kitchenaid mixer accident. I just got burnt out the first time around with all of the work involved, and I took a lot of the criticism way too personal (not the comments that you guys post, I LOVE those, I'm talking about other things that you don't see here in the blog). I've missed the blog ever since I quit posting to it, and have thought about firing it back up hundreds of times.

So, here's what I think I will do. I am feeling inspired to begin contributing to my blog again. This, along with the fact that there are still lots of people who look at it every day (I'm not sure if those are new people who are finding it, or some of the regulars who just keep checking back in to see if anything has changed), has led me to decide to begin posting again tomorrow.

I guess word will slowly filter out that I am back up and running again. Please bear with me as I learn how to blog all over again. I am regretting the fact that I added those little pop-ups to my pictures now because I've almost forgotten how I even did it. I WILL figure it out again though, because I thought it was pretty helpful.

Anyway, just thought I would post a quick note to let anyone still hanging around know that I am still here, still taking vegan lunches to work every day, and starting tomorrow I will begin posting them again. I look forward to sharing them with you.