Tag Archives: vegetables

Leftover Lentils

What do you know? It’s crock pot time!

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When I planned my meals for the week, I knew I would have a lot of leftover veggies, so I knew a lentil stew would be the perfect way not to let it go to waste….

So, all I did was put lentils in the crock pot with some vegetable broth, added two left-over vegan sausages, carrots, celery, and green peppers, plus some spices, and let it do its thing overnight.

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The result: a delicious hearty stew that lasted us for days. During stormy and chilly fall days, this is pretty close to the ideal office lunch. Leftovers made from leftovers — winning.

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Return to the Stove

I know, I know — zero posts for nearly two months, what gives? Well, now that I have a quarter of a year at my new job under my belt, spending more time on my fitness and healthy eating goals may be justified again. And chronicling said pursuits, of course.

What have I been doing aside from working? Well….

My brother visited in October for 11 days and we explored New York, D.C., and State College together. All explorations were naturally accompanied by great food.

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This was a Turkish restaurant by the UN. Such a great night.

… Dave and I ran a 50-mile relay race with five friends. It was an amazing experience — the weather, the beauty of central PA, the company, the running. I am hooked on this event and want to do it every year we live here.

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This is me passing the baton, a shiny purple wrist-band, to my team mate. Who knew that volleyball jacket from 2001 would serve me so well? This was the third chilly-weather race I’ve done in it.

(That guy, by the way, was the best team mate ever. He ran 6-minute miles and volunteered to take the most difficult legs. Definitely made up for my 11-minute mile pace….)

… I indulged in everything fall — Pumpkin beer, apple cider, haunted houses, pumpkin pie/ice cream/lattes, and of course, pumpkin carving.

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We created these beauties with our friends the night before Halloween.

… And, I did very little cooking. I was bad. If I cooked, I just used old recipes I already had. Busy-ness will do that to you. October was seriously insane. So was September. But the insanity isn’t going to stop anytime soon, so it’s time to step it up!

I have a new fitness plan that plans out my fitness priorities from now until I turn 30 (June of 2015). Essentially, this means I have progressive running goals assigned for each month plus an additional exercise priority, like swimming, biking, fitness classes, or Yoga. The plan is to work out six times a week with one rest day.

Then, at the beginning of each month, I actually map out how I will be exercising on each day. This month, I will be running 3 times a week, shooting for 3 miles each time at a 10-minute pace. I expect to reach that closer to the end of the month. Right now, I’m still slow as a snail.

This month, my supplement exercise, if I can call it that, is fitness classes at Kinetik Fitness. I went for the second time tonight and it kicks my butt. I love it though. It’s totally different from what I would do on my own and also from any other fitness classes I’ve done. Each class is different and members never know who will be teaching on any given day and what they will be asking you to do. The workouts combine cardio and strength training and are often done in circuits, with partners, etc.

And, since I’m talking about stepping it up, I also am focusing on cooking new things again. Tonight, I made not one but two dishes without recipes. I know making up dishes may not necessarily sound appealing, but I really want to get very good at intuitive cooking. If there is such a thing.

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The first meal — our dinner for tonight and lunch tomorrow — is a cauliflower/broccoli/potato casserole. All I added to the vegetables was almond milk, garlic salt, pepper, and Trader Joe’s vegan cheese.

Maybe it’s because I was super hungry from my workout, but this was delicious. I went back for seconds for sure.

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The second dish — our dinner tomorrow and lunch Thursday — is a shrimp curry. I was pretty proud of this one since it was my first real attempt at making curry myself. Basically, I was at the store, contemplating buying the glass jar of curry sauce, but the ingredient list turned me off. Too much unnecessary stuff. So this is a basic mix: coconut milk and curry powder.

The other ingredients are: olive oil, shrimp, red and green peppers, paprika, garlic salt, and garbanzo beans. I later added brown rice to let the curry soak in and make it very, very tasty for tomorrow evening.

Here’s to November, fitness, and home-made food!

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Homemade Mashed Potatoes

It all started at the grocery store yesterday when Dave brought three packets of instant mashed potatoes to the cart, proclaiming he wanted to buy them because they are “so good.” I asked if I could look at the list of ingredients, which was about as long as a book chapter. I pointed to some scary names and asked him if instead I could make my mom’s recipe for him. 

This sounds awfully home-maker wife-ish (brrrr), but I really want our grocery cart to be as healthy as possible. Eating out is a different story and we splurge often there. Also, Dave readily agreed when I told him the recipe had cream, butter, and nutmeg in it – maybe the nutmeg intrigued him the most.

So today during lunch I called my mom just to confirm that I remembered the recipe right – I hadn’t made it in about seven years and never think of it anymore now that cream and butter rarely appear in my refrigerator. Turns out, her version is actually made with milk, so I “unhealthyfied” it in my memory. It was too late though. I had already bought the cream and wasn’t going to throw it out without using any of it.

So after work, I set to making very high-calorie mashed potatoes.

Ingredients:

– 5 small to medium sized potatoes, peeled and cooked in salt water
– 1/2 cup cream
– 1/4 water (my mom recommended this to thin out the cream. Her recipe would take 2/3 cups of milk)
– 1 tbsp butter
– a generous amount of nutmeg

Mash the potatoes up with a fork at first, melt a tablespoon of butter over them, pour in the cream/water or milk, and then use a mixer until you have a nice, smooth consistency. Then add as much Nutmeg as your tastebuds call for (I used a lot). 

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Here is the not so appetizing photo of the result, although I promise the potatoes were delicious. I poured the vegetables over them awkwardly to re-warm them up a bit (I was cooking various dishes at once, so I got a bit distracted). There is also some tilapia pieces on there, which are barely worth mentioning.

Now I have to go and make some dark-chocolate covered strawberries to enjoy during yet another game of Settlers of Catan!

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Race Weekend – Part 3

First order of business when we left the hotel after my shower and Daiya pizza snack was to go back to the village for some free beer and exploring of the little shops.

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Each runner got a coupon for a German beer at the beer hall. I traded mine in for a Bavarian wheat beer. I would say it was moderately to severely refreshing.

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Dave went with Koelsch, a light beer from Cologne, which he later regretted because it gave him a headache. Serves him right – Duesseldorf, my hometown, and Cologne have a huge beer and everything-else rivalry.

We walked around the village….

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And scoped out some Antique shops.

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I found it interesting/disturbing that this shop sold swastikas as World War II memorabilia.

But anyway…

We headed back to State College in the afternoon because I was running out of steam a bit. Although I must say I felt much better than I expected after the race and stayed fit and alert all day. I think that has to do with all the water, gatorade, and Gu I consumed while running. A lesson to remember.

On our way home, we stopped at My Thai to get the red curry shrimp dish I’m obsessed with for carry-out.

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And then several glorious hours of vegging out on the couch with trashy TV followed.

Dave’s headache was getting worse and worse, so we headed to bed around 6. I put a heating pad on his head and read The Dark Monk to him – a book his dad sent us. It is really good and we’ve been reading it together every day since.

Sunday, we did chores, went to the UUs, played some tennis, and enjoyed/prepped some good foodie treats:

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After finishing off the Thai leftovers for lunch, we each had a bowl of Greek yogurt with honey and frozen berries. Freshness delight.

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In an effort to use up leftovers, I made this veggie casserole. I just threw in whatever I had in the fridge. It had spinach, kale, carrots, cauliflower, vegetable broth, and Daiya cheese. I tried a little bit of it and then had it Monday for lunch. It was pretty damn awesome, if I do say so myself. I love when randomness tastes this good. Major credit goes to the Daiya cheeze, of course.

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For our dinners, I made sweet potato wraps. In my effort to be low-carb, I used lettuce instead of actual wraps. The yogurt had tons of mint and lemon zest for a fresh, tangy twist. And I left the peel on the sweet potatoes, coated them in olive oil, and baked them in the oven for 20 minutes.

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Other ingredients were onions seared in sumac and cumin as well as toasted almonds. We had to eat the “wraps” with a fork and knife, but that was the only disadvantage of this combo. Very delicious and a summer-appropriate. Image

Finally, I must admit to a new obsession. These amazing vegetable chips tempted me at Wegman’s on Sunday and I have eaten my way through 90% of the bag since then. They have coconut oil, canola oil, tons of yummy spices, and vegetables, so they are pretty healthy as far as chips go. So currently I have them as an appetizer before dinner and then a few spoons of chocolate coconut milk ice cream for desert every night. Ooops.

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Vegan Curry

I’ve had a mean migraine for the past 36 hours, so I stayed at home today and am feeling pooped.

My mom had really severe migraines before she hit menopause, and she took strong medication for them. I remember her being knocked out for a good three days a month when I was growing up. For the past two years or so, it’s been about a day a month for me. Mine aren’t quite as severe as hers, so it could be that I inherited them from my paternal grandmother, too. Anyways, I don’t want to just take medication all my life and accept living with headaches that frequently.

Part of why I want to eat a mostly plant-based, semi-vegan diet is that it helps me feel better and seems to help me with migraines, For example, last month, I didn’t have anything, which I considered a huge success. I think drinking tons of water, doing yoga, and running are also all really helpful habits. Finally, I started working with a homeopath in February to address hormonal imbalances through plant-based remedies, which should also affect my migraines. I repeated my base-remedy two days ago, so that could have something to do with this particular migraine, just because the remedy may make the symptom resurface in order to address the cause.

Anyway, last night, I made my own curry for the first time. It was much simpler than I thought!

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Ingredients:

– 1 cup of brown rice
– 1 small onion
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1/4 cup red pepper flakes
– 1 tsp. cumin
– vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and red peppers
– 1 can coconut milk
– 2 tbsp. curry powder
– 4 cups of kale
– salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the rice, either on the stove top or in the rice cooker.

Dice the onions and fry them in olive oil or coconut oil until they are slightly browned. Add the garlic, the pepper flakes, and the cumin. Then add the vegetables in the order of how long it will take them to cook – broccoli and carrots first, carrots later. It may help to cover the pan at this time.

Once all the vegetables have been added, pour in the can of coconut milk and stir in the curry powder.

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Add the kale and cover the pan. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add the salt and pepper and serve it all on top of the rice.

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Very yummy. I made some extra rice, so we’d have enough for lunches today as well.

Since I was home sick, Dave took the bus home for lunch and kept me company for a few hours. We only have one car, so he always takes the bus. It helps make up for the excessive driving my commute requires.

I’m thinking about trying to work out later to see if that might help with my headache. Does anyone have experience with migraines? Does exercise help with yours?

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Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Today was the warmest day in a long time – 45 degrees and sunny. It doesn’t get much better than that for running in early March, and Woolrich looked very inviting with its pine trees and surrounding mountains.

Around 10 a.m., I had a snack to fuel up.

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Just some leftover veggies and apple slices with almond butter. Plus plenty of water.

I did 3 miles at a much faster speed than usual. I would estimate it was a 9-minute pace, but I’m not sure because I forgot my phone and didn’t measure my time. It was definitely hard and I had to focus on my breathing a lot in order to avoid a side ache. But the important thing is that I made it. It felt great to see the improvement my training has brought yet again.

On to lunch.

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Just my standard spinach salad with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chickpeas, pecans, dried cranberries, and goat cheese. Yum, goat cheese 🙂 🙂

I’m still tired from the late-night we had on Monday due to that cooking class. I don’t know if it’s normal to be paying for it for this many days. Maybe I just need to sleep more at night. I am ready to be back at my normal energy levels.

When I got home, it took some self-convincing to get in the kitchen and start dinner. But, I’m glad I did because that meant I got to eat quality food and learned a new recipe, which I found here.

Vegan Roasted Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced [I used two smaller ones]
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar [I used this many, but maybe reduce it a little – the smell of vinegar was quite strong…]
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced [mine was more medium than small]
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced (do not peel)
  • 1 firm red apple, diced (do not peel)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cook quinoa on the stovetop and dice two small or one larger sweet potato(es). Coat the sweet potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; then spread them out on top of a sheet of alu foil and place on a baking pan.

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While the potatoes are roasting in the oven for 20 minutes and the quinoa is cooking, combine the cider vinegar and 3 tbsp. olive oil with salt and pepper and beat it for about a minute until the mixture gets thick.

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Then fry the onions in another tbsp of olive oil on a low setting for 8-10 minutes.

Combine the quinoa, onions, apples, dried cranberries, and sweet potatoes in a big bowl.

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Look at all those colors! Add the onions next.

Finally, toast the pine nuts in the same pan you used for the onions for 3-4 minutes until lightly brown.

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I loved how they smelled once they began toasting.

Then pour the pine nuts in the bowl with the other ingredients.

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Mix all of the ingredients carefully and dinner is ready.

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Dave and I both had two servings and there was still enough for two good lunch portions for tomorrow. I really loved how the flavors worked together and it tasted like rich, quality foods. Much needed after yesterday’s eating out escapades.

To round it all off, I had some chocolaty deserts.

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My usual Trader Joe’s favorites: dark chocolate covered peanut butter cups and dark chocolate covered ginger.

After dinner, I caught up with my German soap and journaled for an hour while enjoying a hot almond milk with cooca powder. I really recommend this creation.

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Double desert night. My work here is done.

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