Friday, September 12, 2014

Down Home Cooking Take Two

During MoFo 2011, I created three dishes to imitate a favorite meal a mostly vegan restaurant in Asheville, NC. The place is called Rosetta's Kitchen and since my original blog post, the restaurant has created a gluten free version. The meal is just amazing and when we visit, we usually get the dish at at least one meal. We were in Asheville last fall and got the vegan gluten free version. While I loved it, I started to realize that mine is actually better. Don't get me wrong, their version is amazing, but I like mine a little better. It could be since I put so much work into creating the dish- by tasting and re-tasting. Although, I will admit that it is nicer to have someone else make this meal for me. 

During one of my more motivated days during this pregnancy, I decided to make this meal and surprise John. When pregnant, this meal feels like a lot of work. I was warn out after I made it and to top it off, we had a friend stop by to pick up something right as it was finished. We all talked for an hour, so by the time we got to the meal, I was overly hungry and the food was cold. The meal still delivered! And protein content is very high in this meal, making it a perfect candidate for a vegan pregnant woman and her future little vegan one

I made a couple of changes to the original. The first change was that I made a raw kale salad with red bell peppers from our CSA produce box. The dressing consisted of raw lemon, a splash of tamari, and flax oil. The other change that I made, was that I added a little soy creamer and more than the 3 tablespoon of vegan sour cream. I wanted rich and creamy mashed potatoes! The originals are rich, but I wanted something a little richer. 


As the weather gets colder, I see this dish making an appearance again. Maybe John will even make it, but I won't be holding my breath. I'm still waiting on the cinnamon buns he has been promising me. Hint, hint. Ok, how many times can I keep hinting on my blog about items that I want? Let's see how long it takes to get them or scones. Anyone want to bet take bets?  I mean, sure, he is doing a lot- but I'm incubating a life and I'd like a cinnamon bun. Is a vegan, gluten free cinnamon bun too much to ask for? Or what about a scone? Maybe it is!

Scones, cinnamon buns or not- I still love him to pieces! And he is being a loving and supporting husband- but I still want a cinnamon bun!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Loaded Hash Browns

As I have mentioned in previous posts, eating has been a challenge in my pregnancy. Many times, I have just been eating to nourish myself and the baby. John has had to be the gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, reminder to me that I have to eat. I learned the hard way that not eating can bring on nausea. One of the hardest things for me to learn how to do was to eat through the feeling of nausea. In the past, when I would be nauseated my impulse would be not to eat. When you are pregnant, you have to eat as you have another life to nourish. 

To help make this all easier for me, John has been cooking a lot more than before. Sometimes he asks me what I want and others he makes something and sets it in front of me to see if I could stomach the meal. The tactic turned out to be smart. I do not always know what I want or could stomach until it was put down in front of me. John knew my aversions each week and was respectful of them. 

One of his creations turned out to be a hit with me- loaded hash browns. Potatoes have been one of the few items that have been more appealing than other foods. I think it is the starch that helps settle my stomach. I have always been a huge fan of hash browns, but we usually have made them as side dish. John made them into a main dish by adding different combinations of veggies and proteins. He has added tomatoes from our produce box or garden, spinach, tofu, tempeh, pepperocini, salsa, carrots, vegan cheese, and other items from our refrigerator.

He has repeated this dish for me several times, often with a salad on the side. I smother mine with ketchup. I know, I know, it isn't a nutritious food- but I like it and it isn't too bad of a splurge for a pregnant woman. 

Thank you to John for caring for me and the future little vegan one. The one thing that I can say for sure is that I would not be able to do this without your love and care. Future little vegan one is lucky to have a caring father, like you! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Peanut, Pretzels and Party!

I already told the story of how I told John I was pregnant the day before he left for Turkey on a business trip. That whole week, I was by myself and this fresh news. I do not remember a lot of that week, other than the visit to my primary care physician. I do remember that I was not sick yet and was still interested in eating and cooking. That same week, I had one of my bi-annual clothing and accessory swaps with friends. As I was only five weeks when I had the swap, I was still keeping the news quiet. 

I thought it would be hard for me to keep silent, but I had no problem. I was not ready to start sharing because it was still so new to me and I had not had time to fully process it all. One friend knew, however, because she guessed based on my questions "for a friend". She also did a great job of keeping my news secret. There were even some kid items and maternity clothing that she helped me snatch up without anyone noticing. From the swap I came away with two maternity tops, a toy for baby, and two pairs of toddler/baby jeans. 

It was nice to be able to prep and plan for the party as my life still felt normal. Currently, I'd have a hard time making food, cleaning, and prepping all by myself. The next swap will have some serious modifications. The food that I made for that night turned out well and my friends make wonderful dishes to add to the food and festivities. One of the best of the dishes I made that night were peanut butter pretzel truffles by Minimalist Baker. The truffles took a little time, but the effort level and the number of ingredients was not at all daunting. The recipe is pretty simple for truffles, but the flavor is complex. They were a serious hit that night! 


Since I haven't had a lot of motivation to cook, I have not made these again. As soon as I get my baking/cooking motivation back, I will make these beauties! I would hint to John to make them, but I have already hinted at several other things that I'd like that he has not made (scones, cake, cinnamon buns, etc). I am not complaining, because he has been making dinner most nights....but sometimes a pregnant lady just wants her partner to make her some sweets. 

Ok, so maybe it was a hint! ;-)

Friday, September 5, 2014

McMuffin Cravings


The title of this blog post is a bit misleading. I didn't actually crave the meat filled, gluten filled, dairy filled, egg filled, artery clogging, cruelty ladden breakfast sandwich seen on a popular fast food chain. I craved a vegan version, of course (and crave is a strong word here, I just knew I wanted to try it)! Some omnivores love to ask if I crave meat (more so when I wasn't pregnant- odd, huh?). I'm quick to point out that food is more than just taste to me, it is about the where it comes from, why it is being used, and how it was treated. I cannot ignore the treatment of animals in my meal. Since I was 14, I have believed that an animal should not have to suffer and die for my benefit. There are so many options out there that didn't have to suffer.

When I discovered The Edgy Veg video for the McMuffin, I did start to want this creation! The version on screen was not gluten free, but I knew I could easily make it that way. For the English Muffin, I used Food for Life and for the veggie meat, I used Sol Veggie Breakfast patties. I didn't use an orange vegan cheese, like cheddar, because I had some provolone flavored vegan cheese. If making this again, I'd use cheddar and melt it on the bottom of the bun. Since the muffin and egg mixture was warm, most of the cheese melted. 

This was probably the first thing I cooked after morning sickness set in. I was able to get through making this whole meal without any incidents. I even was able to eat the sandwich.! I had only wished that I also bought hash brown patties to serve with it. The "egg" mixture looked so much like the original. Once it cooked it got bright yellow giving it a real egg look. The texture was interesting and I wouldn't have liked it on its own. I think I would also like to try this sandwich with firm tofu, flavored to be "eggy". It was fun to use the top of a mason jar lid to form the egg. It really made it seem like the real thing.

While I done it yet, this made me want to transform other fast food menu items to be vegan and gluten free. I don't know what because it has been many, many years since I have eaten fast food. I am not even sure I remember the flavor of most products. My parents didn't rely much on fast food when I was growing up, which I'm thankful for. My family focused on home cooked meals with a lot of vegetables! :-)


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Neatball Subs Made with Love


I have generally been the one to cook more in our house. Mostly because I am anal about food groups and what we eat for dinner. We still consistently took turns cooking, but I tended to cook more. Since pregnancy, sickness, and aversions have set in John has become the main cook in the house. Mostly because he is always trying to get me to eat food. Sometimes he makes a bunch of things to see what I'll eat. He is the one who has ended up eating for two (or three or four). I have been cooking more these days, but he still does the majority of the cooking.

I always thought pregnant women indulged in huge meals and endless snacks. Maybe that happens to some, but that has not happened to me. I mostly have to force myself to eat. Making and eating food used to be two of my favorite activities. Now, I have no interest in either. However, I have a sweet future little vegan one on the way and I have to be mindful of eating enough calories.  John has tried to make food more exciting for me or taking something he knows I like that he can add to a meal. 

I must have seen a meatball sub somewhere and indicated that I'd love a vegan gluten free version. Being the awesome husband he is, John got on it. He used Neat to make the meatballs, a gluten free baguette, tomato sauce, and vegan cheese to complete his creation. To add a healthy component, he roasted broccoli with salt and pepper.  He served this all to me and encouraged me to eat it all. Lucky for me, I didn't have an aversion when I saw this. Instead, I was ecstatic to try it!

The sub was exactly what I had been looking for and I gobbled it down. I even had leftovers for the next day's lunch. Me and the future little vegan one are lucky ducks to be able to have delicious meals made with love. :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Celebration Lunch

I found out I was pregnant just as I hit 4 weeks (fast forward now to 19 weeks). I had the thought, "I wonder if I am pregnant?" and then bought a test to confirm. I didn't have a lot of time to think about it. I didn't even tell John that I suspected I could be. I didn't want him to get his hopes up and in my mind I didn't even believe I was. I hear of woman just "knowing". I guess I am not that in tune with my body because the only thing I noticed was an absence of a period, which wasn't all that odd for me. It was because of the absence that I went to the store and bought a pregnancy test. When I came home, I secretly took the test. To my surprise, I was pregnant. 

John was working in the office, unsuspecting. I walked up, shaking, and said "We have to talk". I wasn't scared, I was just stunned. One minute before I had found out I was pregnant and I didn't yet know what to think. I told him the news and he jumped up and hugged me and was ecstatic. I calmly told him not to get too excited because it was so early and anything could happen. We took 2 two more tests to confirm. 

It was a Sunday, so I couldn't call my Doctor for an appointment until the next day. In addition, John was also leaving for a work trip to Turkey. I ended up getting an appointment for that Wednesday. The appointment consisted of a pregnancy test and my Doctor talking to me about a few things. And she confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. 

Now, I had my confirmation and I was only 4.5 weeks in. I needed to head back to work, but I wanted a little something to eat- to celebrate. The nausea and tiredness had not yet set in. My Doctor is near Cafe' Love- Live Organic Vegan Eats. I felt like I had to stop by before going back to work. The news had not even set in yet, but all I knew was that my life was going to change and that anything was possible. I had no reason to think I'd have a miscarriage, but I am Ms. Cautious when it comes to risk. 

It was hard to keep the news from people, but I knew I had too for a while. It was even hard walking into Cafe' Love not saying anything about my new news. After looking through the daily options, I picked out avocado and "rice" sushi and mushroom enchiladas. All raw, delicious, vegan and gluten free. There are always so many enticing choices, but I didn't feel like buying the whole menu that day. (And while that sounds like a joke, I have bought every item on the menu before. :-) It did not occur to me that I forgot to buy a raw dessert until I was in the car and on the way home. How could I forget dessert? It seems almost like a crime! Especially since their desserts are just heavenly! I mean HEAVENLY!!!!

I brought my selections to my office to eat after exchanging pleasantries with Jane Howard and Matthew- the owners. They are both such happy and friendly people. I think it is all of the vitamins from the raw veggies they eat! :-)  They also have the knowledge that their food is delicious and nutritious. 

I ate every last drop and enjoyed it to the fullest. I love sushi in raw or cooked form (vegan only though) and any time this is on the menu, it is in my order. I can't pass it up. The enchiladas are simply amazing. The tortillas are dehydrated, but still moist and flexible. The filling and the sauce is decadent. You wouldn't believe how filling raw food was until you tried it yourself. It never looks like enough food until you consume it. The nutrient density and fat from the nuts really fill you up. As I licked the container that the enchiladas came in, I wished I would have bought more of the menu for dinner and snacks. Again, how could I have forgotten dessert?

I will always remember this meal as my celebratory "I'm OFFICIALLY pregnant!" meal!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh Tomatoes, Food Aversions, and Pasta. Oh My!

We continually sign up for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share each season that it is available. This season has proved to be interesting for us now that I'm pregnant. Instead of the cravings you commonly associate with pregnancy, I have had more aversions. Onions have been one of the largest culprits so far. And what do you think we have gotten pounds and pounds of each week? Yep, you guessed it! We have given them away to friends and hidden them in our vegetable crisper, hoping that they'd disappear. 

I always thought that pregnancy was filled with late night cravings for things like pickles, potato chips and chocolate ice cream. I expected to ask John to run out to the store several times a week to meet one of my cravings. That vision couldn't have been further from reality. While I have craved several things now and then (like a specific candy, potato chip, and pickles), it hasn't been constant cravings. What has been constant is my aversions to food. Each day has been different which what turns my stomach. It has taken John some time to understand that if I say I don't want something, I mean it. We have learned the hard way that forcing me to eat something could send me running to the bathroom.  

One of the things I have loved getting and eating consistently is tomatoes. I have quite enjoyed tomatoes. We have made fresh sauce, slow simmered sauce, pasta ponza, added them to vegan GF bagels, had tempeh/tomato/lettuce sammies, and so much more. One of my favorites is a vegan an gluten free version of Giada DeLaurentiis's Pasta Ponza. This dish is still delicious with store bought tomatoes, but I'm not going to lie- garden fresh, organic, farmers market, and CSA tomatoes are the best. 

Pasta Ponza 
  • Olive oil for the bottom of the pan
  • 4 cups (24 ounces) red/yellow cherry, grape, peach or small tomatoes, halved (larger tomatoes should be quartered)
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained 
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning 
  • 1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs, seasoned with about a teaspoon of dried basil and oregano 
  • 1 pound gluten free ziti 
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray or rub the olive oil an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, following the package directions. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the nutritional yeast and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and basil. S
erve immediately
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