I’m back! New Year, new blog posts!

Hi everyone!  Well, I am going to try this blog thing again.  I think I just won’t pressure myself to do something every day – kind of got overwhelming quickly!  I am going to make a strong effort to keep this blog going, and improve it, and continue to share my vegetarian recipes and tips.  So, I begin again . . . .

Since it’s the start of the new year, like everyone else, I am trying to eat more healthfully and lose the weight that has crept up on me again.  For weight loss right now I decided to follow the Weight Watchers program.  I’ve followed WW off and on for about 20 years and when it gets down to brass tacks, it is the only plan that really works for me when I follow it to the letter.  Since I love to cook, those plans where you have to eat their food never work for me.  Plus, most of them are VERY limited in the vegetarian area and most are filled with tons of those unpronounceable things I try to avoid! WW allows me to choose whatever foods I want so it is super easy for vegetarians to follow.  In addition, there are very cool apps available now that make planning and tracking super easy.  My favorite is the new barcode app which lets me scan items on my phone, track the points and even add them to my food tracker right from my phone.  It doesn’t have every food on the planet, but it has enough to be really helpful for me.

So, for my first “I’m back” post, I am going to share one of my favorite breakfast treats.  On the new WW Plus Points plan, it has 6 points.  I am a lover of hot cereal and a lover of Nutella and this lets me combine the two for a decadent bowl of yumminess that is pretty low in points too.  Frankly, I usually try to keep my breakfast points to 5 or below so this is kind of a treat but it still allows me quite a bit of points for the rest of the day. Plus it is super easy!  I make it in the microwave but you could also make it on the stovetop – it just takes a little longer and needs more stirring.  I have to apologize for not having a picture this time but promise I will take a picture next time I make it.

Nutella Cream of Wheat (single serving)

3/4 cup milk (I use either low fat almond or 1% organic regular milk)
3 TB whole grain cream of wheat (if you can’t find whole grain, regular works)
2 tsp nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
1 packet z-sweet, or other sweetener of choice (just remember to counts points if you use a sweetener with calories)

In a glass bowl or measuring cup (use a size that allows the cereal to boil up and not worry about spillover), whisk together the milk and cereal.  Place in the microwave and set timer for 3 minutes.  Start cooking and at 1 minute, stir the cereal.  Continue to cook and watch as it begins to bubble up in the bowl for another minute or so.  Start again and let it bubble up again for about another 30 seconds or until desired consistency.

Remove from microwave and place in serving bowl.  Add the nutella and sweetener and stir to combine.  Now enjoy!

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Vegetarian with Kids

Hi everyone!  I became a vegetarian “late” in life, after my two sons were already grown up.  But I have been very interested in learning more about how people can raise children as vegetarians.  Plus, I have had people ask me if I thought it was possible.  I have to admit, I have thought back to how I would have faced the challenge as my kids were growing up and the task seems daunting.  So, I did a little research and found there is a lot of information out there for the Googling.

Here’s an awesome website (just click on the link) I found with a ton of information on how to feed kids and the family as vegetarians.  I would have loved this when my kids were little!

Another great website full of information I found is here.  Again, lots of information about feeding kids and the whole family.

Finally, one of my favorite sites for getting vegetarian information in general is the PETA website.  It was really helpful for me with ideas for making the transition.  Total disclaimer here – this is not a website for the faint-hearted.  It can be pretty extreme and graphic in their quest to protect animals, but if you can get past that (or not, your choice) there is a ton of good information to be found.  I found this article  that is helpful for feeding a vegetarian child, or even if you want some ideas for just incorporating more meat-less meals into their diet.

Hope you find this helpful!
Happy vegging!

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Another Quick Dinner – Easy Oven Fritatta

Hi friends!  Sorry I haven’t blogged for a few days.  It’s been kind of crazy around here.  My husband and I are redoing our master bathroom and I spent pretty much my entire three day weekend working in there.  (By the way – painting sky high walls is NOT fun!).  The walls had been originally wall-papered over just the dry wall so after my son spending days getting that off we were left with walls that were not textured but we decided to paint anyway.  Being the non-professional that we are, it was a “fun” project.  It’s still not even done – we still need to paint the trim and then put in our new faucets.  But it looks pretty good considering.

So – I haven’t been doing much cooking in the past few days.  Tonight I worked late and just wanted a quick and easy dinner with whatever I had on hand.  Enter the recipe that follows.  It’s pretty much a basic open faced omelette, oven omelette, frittata, or whatever you want to call it.  Basically it’s eggs, veggies, soy sausage, cheese and seasonings.  I made a simple but, oh so yummy, side dish of roasted zucchini and tomatoes.  Here are the basic ingredients.

Now, I have to say that a “normal” frittata recipe is going to include more eggs that what I used here.  I only had four eggs on hand tonight so I went with it.  I do use organic eggs, in case you were wondering, but you can use whatever eggs your conscious allows you to use (a little humor there – don’t get mad at me!).   This made a thinner dish than usual but we actually kind of liked it better.  It made four servings, but might have been two depending on how hungry we were.  Tonight, it was four servings so I have lunch tomorrow already made!

Here’s how I made this dish:

Heat oven to 385°.

I chopped up a small onion and some tri-colored peppers.  It was about a cup worth of veggies and placed those aside.

Then I prepared the zucchini and tomatoes and started them to roast.  So easy!  Just slice up some zucchini, however much you want (I used two medium).  Toss in some small tomatoes.  I used some really yummy organic sugarplum cherries I got at Trader Joe’s.  (Are you seeing a theme yet in my posts regarding where I shop a lot?) Just toss the zucchini with the tomatoes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Place on a baking sheet and place in the oven to start roasting while you are preparing the frittata.

Next I heated a little olive oil in a 10 inch oven safe skillet on medium high heat.  To the pan add your onion/pepper mixture and some Italian soy sausage. I also added some salt, pepper, garlic seasoning (I use Garlic Garni).  Saute until the veggies are nice and soft, about 8-10 minutes.  This is really to your preference.

While those are sauteing I beat the eggs together with salt, pepper and about a quarter cup of a shredded Italian Blend cheese (I used Quatro Formaggio from, where else, Trader Joe’s!).  Now pour this mixture over your sauteed veggies and sausage.  As it starts cooking, start pushing the cooked edges down while you are swirling the pan around a little to make sure the eggs start cooking all around and the bottom is pretty set.   This will take about 5 minutes depending on how many eggs you used and your preference.  I have to admit here that I personally can’t stand runny eggs so I tend to overcook my eggs.  Sorry – I had to confess!

At this point, place your skillet in the oven next to your veggie dish which is, by now, sizzling away and smelling awesome.  Because my egg dish is pretty thin, I baked it for about 5 minutes, the topped with about a half cup of the same Italian cheese mixture I mixed the eggs with, and baked about another 5 minutes.  Here is what I ended up with:

I have to apologize for not being exact on my cooking times but this is really a dish that you can play with.  Add more eggs for a larger, more fluffy dish and you will cook longer.  You can also add really any kinds of veggies or fillings you want.  For a family, double the ingredients and cook in a larger skillet – really do whatever you want.  You really can’t miss with this!


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Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Sausage-less Sauce

Hi everyone!  I almost hesitate to share this recipe with you because, frankly, everyone can make spaghetti, can’t they?  It’s pretty basic stuff.  But . . . I wanted to share what we eat as vegetarians and this is one of those meals.  As the title suggests it is an easy weeknight meal that’s quick to put together and get on the table when you’re tired and hungry.

I try to make meals that are pretty clean and for the most part try to not use a lot of processed foods.  But, even I have to use some things that are ready made or I would probably not cook as much–especially on weeknights after a long, tough day at work.  Here are my ingredients for my spaghetti tonight.

Next time I might change it up a bit.  I use whatever I have on hand except for a few staples I always use.  One staple is my Garlic Ghetti.  It’s an awesome garlic seasoning with some Italian cheeses built in.  You can find it at the large craft festivals or their website.

Another staple is Italian Seasoning.  I really like this one that I get at Costco.  Also, remember in my post about organic foods where I said buying in bulk helps cut costs?  Well, the organic whole wheat spaghetti, tomato sauce and tomato paste were all bought at Costco in large packages.  They are really affordable and last me a long time.

Finally, my last must have for my sauce – Trader Joe’s Italian Sausage-less Sausage.  It’s made of soy and is delicious in my sauce.  Tonight I just chopped up a red pepper and a small sweet onion and combined it with crumbled sausage in my pan.  Once the onions and red pepper were soft and the sausage browned, I added two cans of tomato sauce and a small can of tomato paste along with a tablespoon (or more) of the Italian seasoning and a couple of tablespoons of the Garlic Ghetti, a touch of salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and just simmer while the spaghetti cooks.  I always serve it with some type of veggie.  I love roasted vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, or roasted zucchini and tomatoes. Tonight I made a simple salad of fresh organic Romaine with yummy organic sugar plum tomatoes and a simple vinagrette of champagne vinegar (I love Trader Joe’s Orange Champagne vinegar) a little olive oil, a touch of honey, salt and pepper. Oh yeah – you can’t forget the sprinkle of Parmesan (unless you’re a vegan)!

So this was dinner! Super easy, but super good and, of course . . . . meat-free!  Until next time . . . . . .

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Organic Veggies

This morning, sitting at my front door was my box of fresh organic produce from Nature’s Garden deliveries.  I’ll talk more about how you can get one of the boxes like the one below in a little while.

I do try to buy organic whenever I can. There are several reasons why I think it’s important:

  1.  To support smaller, more local growers
  2.  To prevent huge, evil companies like Monsanto from obliterating farming methods that do not agree with their own money grubbing ways of farming (Google this and you will find tons of information about what they are doing – with the government’s help and what they do to smaller, organic farmers-it’s really horrendous).
  3. To avoid food that has been subjected to pesticides, hormones and other things I really don’t want to eat.

Now, I don’t always manage to get organic, but I do try.  I know a lot of people say they can’t afford to buy organic.  It IS generally more expensive than non-organic but I have found a few things that have helped me keep the costs down. Here are some hints:

  1. Plan menus and buy only the exact quantity you need.
  2. Watch for sales at grocery stores or buy at a farmer’s market where prices tend to be lower.
  3. Buy in bulk and freeze.  I actually will even buy a bag of organic potatoes, cut them into chunks and freeze.  I can then take out the frozen potatoes and cook later.  I buy raw organic almonds in 5 pound bags online from a farm in California.

Now – about that box I had delivered . . . . . .

I love to go to the Downtown Public Market in downtown Phoenix but it’s not really convenient.  And . . . there really isn’t another good farmer’s market with a good selection of organic near my home.  I do buy some things at Sprouts and Trader Joe’s but then I found out about Nature’s Garden.  They deliver boxes of organic produce right to your home or office.  You can get different size deliveries depending on your needs.  The box above is the medium size and costs $35.  There are other sizes and you can choose if you want weekly, bi-weekly, etc.  The produce is truly excellent quality too.  I’ve been impressed.  The only thing I am not entirely thrilled with is that most of it comes from California and I would prefer more local, but at least California is not too long of a haul.  Go to Nature’s Garden for more info.

I’d love to hear any tips and advice anyone out there has regarding buying organic.  Bye for now!

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Last night – Southwest BBQ Pizza

Here’s what we had last night.

As mentioned in my previous post, I am sourdough obsessed at the moment and I had made a couple of sourdough pizza crusts last week.  One was frozen and thawed out for last night’s dinner.  But you could easily make it with any other pizza crust you choose to use.

I have also been experimenting with using my pizza stone on the grill.  We heat up the grill (we have gas) to the highest temp and heat the pizza stone on it while I am putting together the pizza.  By the time the pizza is put together the stone is nice and hot.  It needs to be REALLY hot!  It takes a little maneuvering (and a bit of cornmeal) to roll out the dough, get it on the pizza peel, and then onto the stone but the results are worth it. The crust gets brown and crispy like a wood-fired pizza.  But, if you’re not so inclined to go to the trouble, just use a regular pizza pan and oven.  It will still be yummy.

For this pizza I used:
one pizza crust
about 1/2 cp bbq sauce (whatever you like and really as much as you like)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
at least 1 cp of cooked sweet corn (I think I used more)
1 cp smoked gouda, shredded ( I used reduced fat from Trader Joe’s – YUMMY)
chopped cilantro

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until they are soft.  When I have more time and energy I like to actually use caramelized onions and roasted garlic (so good!).

Roll out your crust to whatever shape you like.  (Be sure to sprinkle some flour on your surface so dough doesn’t stick.)  Spread the bbq sauce on the dough.  Sprinkle on the corn, onions and garlic.  Sprinkle the cheese and then top with your chopped cilantro.

If you’re daring and are using the grill method, you only need to bake for about 5 minutes and you need to pay attention as it cooks quickly.  You’ll want to use either a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal to slide your pizza on to.  Then slide it from there onto the stone on the grill.  Close the grill. If everything is as hot as it should be it will only take about 5 minutes so watch it carefully.  If you bake in the oven on a regular pizza pan, bake at about 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.  Enjoy!

Tonight I’m just making a simple stir fry with frozen veggies, Soyaki sauce, cooked brown rice and some scrambled eggs mixed in (after they have been scrambled).  Hey – it’s Monday, been a long work day and I even went to the gym after work so I am taking the easy way out!

Until next time!

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Sourdough Waffles with Raspberry Maple Sauce

Here is my first recipe posting.  Lately I have been a little obsessed with sourdough.  I started a starter (OK I know that sounds weird!) a couple of months ago and have been experimenting with various sourdough creations.  I haven’t yet made a bread I am totally happy with.  I’m using all white whole wheat so things tend to be a bit heavier.

This morning my new creation was a sourdough waffle.  I bought a waffle iron over a year ago and hadn’t used it yet!  This recipe made 3 waffles which was perfect for the two of us.  You can double it if you need more.  They turned out yummy.  Here’s how I did it:

First, the recipes assumes you have a sourdough starter going and ready to use.  It is really pretty easy to do.  If you Google “sourdough starter” a ton of info will come up.  I made a simple starter using whole wheat flour and water.  Here’s the website that had the one I used.  There is a ton of info there so don’t be intimidated, it is really pretty simple.  Click for the starter info.

I had taken my starter out of the fridge last night and fed it so it was bubbly.  (I plan to post a note about how to do a starter and maintain it later on).  Here’s my starter crock:

My starter was nice and bubbly

I measured out one cup of starter (OK I know it is a tiny bit over!)

In a separate bowl I combined 1 cup of white whole heat flour, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, a pinch of salt and 1 TB sugar (you could add a little more if you want a sweeter waffle)

Next I added 1 egg, 1 TB canola oil, and 2 TB almond milk and mixed it together

This then was added to the dry ingredients.  At that point I added enough almond milk to make my batter thin enough to pour onto the waffle iron.  It was about 1/2 cup, but you will need to gauge yourself based on how thick your starter was to being with.  Then I heated up the waffle iron.

I then poured my batter onto the iron and cooked per the iron’s instructions.  Meanwhile, I made the sauce, which is ridiculously easy!  I just poured some raspberries (I had frozen) into a sauce pan, added maple syrup and heated them up.

So, here’s the finished waffle.  It ended up being a light waffle – not too crispy. If you like more color and crisp, you might want to add a bit more oil to the batter.

They were good!  Husband approved!

Here’s the complete recipe.  Hope you like them if you try them.

Sourdough Waffles with Raspberry Maple sauce
Makes 3 waffles

1 cp sourdough starter
1 cp whole wheat flour (I use white whole wheat)
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1 egg
1 TB canola oil
½ cp almond milk (or your preferred milk)
1 ½ to 2 cps raspberries
2-3 TB maple syrup  (this is to taste)
Butter or margarine

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients together.

In another dish or the measuring cup containing the starter, mix the starter with the egg, oil, and about half of the milk.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix well, adding more milk if necessary to make the batter the correct consistency.  It should be easy to pour onto the waffle iron but thick enough to spread it with a spoon.

Pour and spread onto the waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat for each waffle.

While waffles are cooking add berries and maple syrup in a sauce pan and heat until heated through.

Once waffle is done, remove and spread with butter or margarine to taste, and ladle some of the syrup on to the waffle.  Enjoy!

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