Spotted in the freezer, and other Sunday musings

Spotted in the freezer by Just Nora
Spotted in the freezer, a photo by Just Nora on Flickr.

Didn’t make it to the market until today. I always feel like I don’t get the best “pickins” when I wait until Sunday, but sometimes there is no choice.

Life is moving back into school mode here in our house. This week, our son had his last “first day” at school. He’s a senior. That means that while we are indeed moving back into predictable rhythms, there is also the frenzy of college applications, waiting and the sick feeling of oh my lord how will we pay for this? running through our veins.

Convenience foods and frozen foods

For crazy week nights, sometimes convenience foods can be a blessing. Is it possible to eat convenience foods as a veggie and still eat well? Yes.

Today in Whole Foods I saw Vegan Fish Fillets from Sophie’s Kitchen for the first time. I’d heard of vegan seafood, but never encountered it. I live in the landlocked Midwest. New stuff is slow to reach us. I’ve not tried them, and would love to hear from you in the comments if you have.

I find that frozen veggies and fruits can be really handy for quick weeknight meals, smoothies and soups. They’re certainly cost-effective, and they don’t spoil before I get around to enjoying them.

We also love Boca Burgers, Gardenburgers and Five Star Foodies’ Artichoke Burgers.

Having a stash of a few quick, healthy freezer items can help you eat well on the run during your busy week. What go-to items do you keep handy for quick meals?

Join Cheap Veggie on Facebook!

Cheap Veggie is going social on Facebook.

Join us there by visiting the Cheap Veggie Facebook page.

Zucchini Banana Bread

Zucchini Banana Bread by Just Nora
Zucchini Banana Bread, a photo by Just Nora on Flickr.

Cooling on my kitchen counter this afternoon are a couple of loaves of low fat Zucchini Banana Bread.

What makes it low fat?

The recipe makes 2 loaves, and only calls for a 1/4 cup of oil, which is 3 tablespoons. Dispersed over 2 loaves, it’s not terrible at all. The recipe also calls for 4 eggs. Skip the eggs and use an egg replacer, or, use Egg Beaters like I did.

The recipe uses white flour, whole wheat flour (I like Whole Foods’ 365 Whole Wheat Pastry Flour) and oats, plus a generous addition of shredded zucchini, applesauce, smashed bananas and raisins. As of this moment, half of the first loaf is already gone – my husband, high schooler and I all sliced warm bread and stood around the kitchen cramming it into our mouths.

What else is on the counter?

I picked up a fab cannonball melon at the Covington Farmer’s Fair yesterday, along with a cantaloupe, some lovely romas, garlic and a pepper. Fresh pasta sauce (the uncooked kind) is on the menu tonight.

The recipe

Let’s face it – zucchini is everywhere right now. Whip up some loaves or muffins of this great recipe and freeze a few.

Here’s the recipe on Food.com.

I still miss RecipeZaar!

Summer Mixed Berry Pie

Summer Mixed Berry Pie by Just Nora
Summer Mixed Berry Pie, a photo by Just Nora on Flickr.

This delicious pie is chillin’ in our fridge this afternoon for this evening’s family dessert.

A tip of the hat to Annie’s Eats for sharing this recipe.

My mods

Annie’s recipe called for raspberries, which I didn’t have, so I substituted strawberries.

I did not have plain graham crackers – just the cinnamon ones – so that’s what I used for the crust.

The original recipe also called for red currant jelly, which I didn’t have. I substituted mixed berry jam.

Click for the recipe.

Nora’s Quick Lemony Garlicky Pasta (vegan)

hearts of palm by Joelk75
hearts of palm, a photo by Joelk75 on Flickr.

This yummy pasta dish is quick to throw together and can likely be made from stuff that is already on your pantry shelves. Put off that grocery trip for one more day and enjoy some lemony comfort food!

Ingredients

1 stick Earth Balance margarine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1-2 minced green onions
7 hearts of palm, sliced into chunks
1/2 a small carton of cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed and halved
16 oz spinach penne, prepared according to package directions
Nutritional yeast or Vegan Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Prepare the pasta according to package directions, rinse and return to pan.

Melt Earth Balance in skillet or sauté pan. Add garlic and onion, sauté until tender but not brown. Add lemon juice, parsley and vermouth. Simmer for 2 minutes, then add palm and tomatoes. Simmer gently until palm and tomatoes are hot.

Toss sauce with drained pasta. Top with freshly ground black pepper, nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan to taste.

Serves 4-6

The 52 calorie sandwich

The 52 calorie sandwich by Just Nora
The 52 calorie sandwich, a photo by Just Nora on Flickr.

Nope – I am not joking. I get the #6 Veggie at Jimmy John’s, have them make it as an “unwich” which is where they wrap it in big iceberg lettuce leaves. I omit the cheese and mayo, but add spicy mustard. The only cholesterol in it is from the avocado spread.

See attached nutrition screen shot – 51.4 calories, 1.7 fat, 2.6 fiber, 204.5 sodium (prob the avocado spread and mustard), 7.4 carbs. Protein is low (2.6), so I also have a Dr. McDougall Low Sodium Split Pea soup cup (you can buy them at online or at Whole Foods) – 200 calories, 1 fat, 9 fibers, 13 protein, 35 carbs.

Whole lunch is 3 fats, 12 fibers, 16 protein, 252 calories. Woot!

**I’m not a dietician. All nutrition calculations are based on using Jimmy John’s web site nutrition calculator and the nutrition information on the side of the Dr. McDougall soup cup. Your mileage may vary.**

Nora’s McVegan Breakfast Sandwich

In my never-ending pursuit of becoming 100% vegan, I wanted to devise a breakfast sandwich that was close to what I enjoyed for years when I was still a meat eater.

This one, I think, comes pretty doggone close.

Ingredients

- Two slices of Ezekiel Bread, toasted
- Two thin slices of tofu
- 1 slice of Galaxy Nutritional Foods Veggy Slices (cheddar flavor)
- 1 slice of Yves Veggie Cuisine Deli Ham
- Cooking spray (1 second spray)
- Earth balance spread, if desired

Method

Toast the Ezekiel bread, spread lightly with Earth Balance if desired.

In a small skillet coated with cooking spray, pan fry the tofu slices until lightly browned.

Place the tofu slices on top of one of the toast slices, add the Cheddar Veggy Slice.

Pan fry the Yves Deli Ham slice, flipping once, until very hot.

Place the Yves Deli Ham slice atop the tofu and Cheddar Veggy Slice.

Top with the other slice of toasted Ezekiel bread.

Cut in half, if desired, and enjoy.

Nutrition (without Earth Balance spread)

270 calories :: 4 grams fat :: 6 fiber :: 30 carbs :: 19 grams protein :: 496 sodium :: 194 potassium :: 0 sugars :: 10% vitamin A :: 4% vitamin C :: 20% calcium :: 12% iron

**I’m not a dietician. All nutrition calculations are based on using myfitnesspal.com. Your mileage may vary.**

Five vegan things to try this week (for the new vegan, or vegan wannabe)

54/365 - details by foreverdigital
54/365 – details, a photo by foreverdigital on Flickr.

In January, my son and I took the PCRM 21 Day Vegan Kickstart challenge. We loved it. When 3 weeks was up, we decided we wanted to keep eating that way, but we’ve found total veganism to be really hard to live with.

Both of us recognize that eating a vegan diet is one of the best things for our health and planet. With that in mind, we’ve been pushing ourselves to eat more and more vegan, and less vegetarian.

Five to try

My food philosophy is that if it doesn’t taste good to me, I don’t buy it and I don’t eat it. Here are five vegan items that I recommend you try that I think you’ll find more than “just palatable.”

Soy Yogurt

It’s taken me a long time to fully embrace plant milk. Soy was one of the slowest for me to be cool with. Silk Soy Yogurt is definitely one you should try. Don’t go for the unflavored or the vanilla. Start with a flavor. The black cherry is one of my favorites. These are easy to find at Whole Foods and Kroger.

Annie Chun’s Vegan Noodle Bowls

I first learned of these from watching Vegan Break, a blog with mini videos about all things vegan.

Here Vegan Break talks about trying out the Miso Noodle Soup. I love these for days when I have more work than I have time for a lunch break. A quick zap and I can enjoy at my desk. Pick these up at Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Kroger.

Dr. McDougal’s Oatmeal

You can’t go wrong with oatmeal in a cup. It’s fast, delicious and it sticks to your ribs. The portion is about double the amount you’d get in one envelope of the instant stuff many feed to their kids each morning.

These breakfast (or hearty snack) treats have other grains, such as barley, in the mix. Order them online at rightfoods.com or I’ve picked them up locally at Jungle Jim’s.

Portabella burgers

No, not a burger with portabellas on top – this is a “burger” that is simply a really large, de-stemmed portabella mushroom. We grill them and baste them with homemade barbecue sauce, then stick them on a multigrain bun with pickle slices and slivers of onion. ‘Bellas are chewy, firm, earthy and substantial. Your omnivore friends will love them, too.

Beans and greens

My cooking has always included a healthy dose of good old Midwest and southern deliciousness. You don’t have to hail from Cincy or points south to enjoy this one though, and it comes together in a snap.

Check out the recipe for Southern Beans and Greens here from NutritionMD.org

Use whatever your favorite green is here – collards, kale, chard – they’re all pretty interchangeable for this recipe. The recipe calls for 3 cups of beans – that is equal to two “soup-sized” cans. Drain and rinse well before use. I mix it up and use two different kinds of beans, such as black and great northern. You can also speed your prep by purchasing bagged collard greens (similar to bagged salad greens, but a bigger-sized bag).

Make your favorite cornbread recipe or steam some brown rice and it’s dinner time! Don’t forget to serve with your favorite vinegar and hot sauce, if you like. Vinegar improves the absorption of nutrients from dark leafy greens like collards, kale and the like.

Quick Ozouni

Quick Ozouni by Just Nora
Quick Ozouni a photo by Just Nora on Flickr.

32 oz vegetable broth (I use reduced sodium) or dashi stock

2 cups water

1 bunch baby spinach, washed, de-stemmed, chopped coarsely

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)

1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

A spoonful of white miso to taste

Generous sprinkling of Triple Blend Flakes Sea Seasoning

4 mochi

Rice seasoning for garnish

—–

Wash and coarsely chop the spinach. Toast the mochi in the oven or toaster oven until puffed and slightly browned on top. Heat the broth, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, miso and Sea Seasoning while the mochi is toasting. Add the spinach to the broth and simmer until wilted. Drop the toasted mochi into the broth like dumplings, heat briefly. Serve garnished with Rice Seasoning, if desired.

Warning – mochi is highly glutenous. A few people die each year from choking on it. Take small bites and chew thoroughly. Ben likes to remove the mochi dumpling from the broth and sandwich it in a piece of sea weed to eat on the side.

Vegan Break – the Trader Joe’s project

VeganBreak is doing a 5-part series on how you can select low-cost, vegan meals from Trader Joe’s for quick lunches.

What is your favorite veg friendly quick lunch for work, school or home?