Okay! So here we are at day 2 already! I’m still alive, and more importantly, I’m still happy and satisfied and my zeal for my new vegan-ness remains unfettered! I’ll cut right to the chase today…
Yay breakfast! For anyone wishing to replicate this pictured loveliness, it was a super simple make. It’s Steel Cut Oats with Blackstrap Molasses & Vegan Brown Sugar.
Breakfast- First, I went and got a Starbucks soy latte. That’s right coffee fiends, you can still have coffee (thank god).
Steel Cut Oats with Blackstrap Molasses & Vegan Brown Sugar-
I boiled a small pot of water and poured in about a cup or so of dry steel cut oats (Brand: Red Mill, I got mine economy size at Costco. They’re cheap and tasty and healthy).
I simmered the oats, stirring whenever I thought about it. I simmered the oats for somewhere in the ball park of 15 minutes. I just kinda kept an eye on them and when they started to look nice and fluffy I stopped simmering.
They absorbed almost all the water so there was no need to strain. I poured a little almond milk into the bowl (Brand: Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla) and drizzled a little blackstrap molasses and a pinch of vegan brown sugar. That’s It!
A note about sugar: Some sugars aren’t vegan. Whoa. I know. Sorry. Don’t freak out though, vegan sugar is readily available and when all else fails, find a nice grocery store employee and ask. There’s lots of other sweeteners that ARE vegan, unprocessed sugar, raw sugar, cane syrup, brown rice syrup. It’s not that big of a deal.
So how is sugar not vegan? Well my limited understanding as of today, is that processed sugar is processed using animal bone or bone char. I’m going to look into this matter further and I’ll report back but at least that’s some explanation.
So on to lunch! …Oh wait, I had a snack…
It’s Saturday (yay) and a holiday weekend (double yay) so my fiancée and I went out to do a little clothes shopping. For this one brief moment, we aren’t currently broke. While I was reveling in retail glory I guess I worked up an appetite… but I’m in a mall which offers no vegan food that I can think of. So what did I do?
I was smart and brought a snack! The bar pictured above is a vegan chewy granola square made by Earnest Eats, they have lots of lovely flavors! They’re super tasty, and despite their small size, they’re really dense and definitely stop the hungries in their tracks. http://earnesteats.com/
OK now lunch!
Yay! Look at me, out to eat two days in a row! It’s good to know being vegan doesn’t mean you have to be a lentil eating shut-in (nothing against lentils ;)). Fiancée and I stopped into Sweet Tomatoes Soup & Salad & Bakery & Stuff buffet (known in southern California as Soup Plantation). I was definitely faced with a little learning curve when it came time to select a salad dressing. I’ll admit it, I’m a ranch/bleu cheese/anything white & creamy dressing girl. So I piled up a mega salad and ultimately picked a Balsamic Cherry Vinegrette. It was amazing.
Now, if you are faced with a dilemma, wondering what is vegan and what isn’t in a restaurant which doesn’t label stuff, just ask. People will help you. It’s ok. You don’t have to make a big thing about it or feel uncomfortable, a simple “Hey, do you know if this_________ has any dairy or eggs or milk in it? I can’t eat dairy. Thank you so much!” (Politeness is a good thing).
Furthermore, if you’re a salad novice (and don’t worry, you don’t have to eat salad all the time to be vegan) and you don’t know what to put together to make a filling, savory, salad-meal which you will be satisfied eating, here is what’s in my salad:
Lili’s Savory, Spicy, Salty (just the right amount) Salad!-
Greeen Bell Pepper
Sliced pickled jalapeno
Top it all off with roasted Sunflower seeds & the vegan dressing of your choice
Yum! I scarfed down the whole thing and didn’t feel at all like “Oh blah, yeah I had a salad for lunch…ho hum” I felt like “Wow this is so good! Everything tastes fresh and spicy and toasty and so tasty!”
…Anyone notice the little empty spot on my salad plate next to my fork…? That’s where a pile of pickled beets were, I couldn’t control myself and ate them before I remembered to take the picture :).
Second course was soup! Curried Yellow Split Pea! Mmmm! It was rich and flavorful, the peas gave the soup a very substantive, full bodied texture. All and all, a really great lunch!
I would like to propose something… So Sweet Tomatoes/Soup Plantation caters to both vegetarians and omnivores alike. Vegetarian dishes are clearly marked “Vegetarian” or “Non-Vegetarian” if the dish is ambiguous. However, there are not yet any indicators of vegan dishes. I propose we make suggestions to our local Sweet Tomatoes/Soup Plantation restaurants that they incorporate clearly labeling vegan dishes. They have vegan offerings (obviously) but I kinda had to play it safe today and only pick dishes that I was 99% sure were vegan.
I relied on staying away from anything that said “creamy”, most dishes with dairy were pretty obvious but with the soup, I chose the Split Pea because it mentioned that the stock of the soup was a vegetable broth. Everything turned out fine but it would have been a little easier if there was vegan labeling. From a restaurant like this, where I assume a large demographic of the customer base is vegetarian, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to give vegans a little love as well.
I think we can make it happen, I’m going to write a little letter to their “Suggestions” box and see what happens. I’d love your help 🙂
Sorry guys, I got tired and lazy last night and didn’t blog what I had for dinner.
This cookbook is great, it’s super easy recipes that even a novice like me can make. The title says vegetarian, however, most recipes are already vegan and those that aren’t can easily be modified.
A great tip I learned about vegan cooking is to make more than what you know you will eat. I made stuffed bell peppers and I made two even though I knew I would only eat one, the other one I planned to take to work with me the next day. Sorry I didn’t take a pic of the actual finished product, but yay, it’s pictured right on the cookbook! I modified the recipe a little bit because I wanted it to be a little spicy (I looooove spicy food). My philosophy on spicy food is: unless it physically hurts me, unless I’m sweating profusely, unless my nose is running, unless I am concerned about giving myself a possible ulcer…it’s not hot enough. But that’s just me. Don’t worry though, my added spices didn’t make this dish too too hot.
Lili’s Slightly Amended Stuffed Bell Peppers By Way of “One Dish Vegetarian Meals
2 Large Green, Orange, Yellow, or Green Bell Peppers (I used one red, one yellow)
1 Tbspn Garlic Olive Oil (or regular, whatever, I stock garlic at my house) OR you could get really bold and use Chili Oil
1 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 Clove Garlic
1 Chopped Roma Tomato
1 Small Chopped Onion
1 Heaping Cup Cooked Basmati, Brown, or White Rice, or whatever rice you want or have on hand (I used a Basmati & Brown Mix)
1 Tbspn Dried Parsley Flakes
A good sprinkle chili powder
A splash of Tapatio (or your fave hotsauce, or if you don’t like spicy, just leave it out)
A little sprinkle cayenne pepper
A pinch of salt
A sprinkle of ground black pepper
Top with your favorite salsa
1. Preheat your oven to 350
2. Start a pot of boiling water
3. While you are waiting for your water to boil, slice off the tops of the bell pepper and cut out the seeds and white membranes. The bell peppers are your little cups, with which you will fill with vegan goodness. Chop up your other veggies as well such as the tomato and onion.
4. Submerge the bell peppers in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until they are slightly softened. Use some tongs and remove the peppers from the water and set them aside.
5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add all your veggies and saute until slightly softened and spinach is wilted.
6. Add your cooked rice and spices to the veggie skillet and saute another 2-3 minutes. (At this point my rice looked a little dry so I added a splash of chili oil, just do what you think is right :))
7. Fill your bell peppers with the rice/veggie mixture and place in a baking dish. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the dish so it will steam your peppers nicely while cooking. Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for 15 mins or so. The peppers and filling are already mostly cooked so don’t bake these to death. Just a little baking action to crispy the tops and make the bell peppers oh so tender. Keep an eye on them, open the oven half way through…If you say to yourself, “Mmm that smells good, I think they are ready to eat” and you look at the timer and you still have 7 minutes left to bake, then I say fuck the timer. Take them out of the oven and eat them. Get instinctual. If your nose says yes, eat.
I topped my bell peppers with my favorite salsa. Yum!
After dinner I had one little Brown Sugar Ginger Peach muffin left in the fridge from my first day of veganism, so I put it in a bowl and poured some soy milk on top of it and ate it like a milk-and-cookies interpretation…whatever, just go with it. 🙂