Three Random Breakfasts, and Pomegranate Seeds

I’ve been trying to add more variety to breakfast lately.

tofu potato scramble

Here’s my favorite tofu scramble with potatoes, sweet red peppers, and onions. Served with Ezekiel sesame toast and cranberry salad.

 

cinnamon chip pancakes

Maple cinnamon chip pancakes, made for Lance. These were ok. I like the base pancake recipe I use (this time minus the sweet potatoes), and I added maple flavor, brown sugar instead of granulated, and some cinnamon chips (vegetarian). I was not impressed with the cinnamon chips.

 

granola with pomegranate seeds

Cherry flax granola with pomegranate seeds and coconut milk.

I love pomegranate seeds! I have tried pomegranates before, but didn’t love them until I learned how to de-seed a pomegranate without a big red mess all over my (mostly white) kitchen.

 

Thanksgiving 2011

This year’s Thanksgiving meal was very tasty, and we were most thankful that we could enjoy it together. One thing that helped a lot was making a detailed schedule of cooking times and temperatures, scheduling times to add more dishes to the oven so they would all finish on time. Everything was done within a 5-minute window. Everything but the turkey and gravy was vegetarian.

I now consider myself vegetarian. I know that might disappoint some of my blog readers, and I understand if you stop following me. I still eat a lot of vegan food and plan to post mostly vegan food here. I still do not eat eggs. Most meals I eat outside the house are vegan, and it’s still my preference because I know it’s the healthiest way to eat. It’s not that it’s difficult to be vegan, but I did find it difficult to be vegan in a non-vegan family, with some of our food preferences. I’ll still be trying a lot of new vegan dishes and coming up with my own recipes. And as I find more vegan dishes we can all enjoy, who knows? I might go back.

On to the meal!

The Post Punk Kitchen posted a delicious-looking seitan roast stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and leeks mere days before Thanksgiving. It happened to be the main dish I was looking for. The roast was HUGE. It took four hands to roll it up and wrestle it into the foil for baking. It serves 6-8 people. When it came out of the oven, it smelled delicious.

And lo, a heavenly light shone down upon my stuffed seitan roast. And it was good.

seitan roast
It was very good.

Thanksgiving Plate 2011

Raw cranberry salad, seitan roast, stuffing, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes. We skipped dessert. I walked away from the table full, but not stuffed.

This was by far the best seitan I’ve ever made. The roast recipe and technique would work with a multitude of fillings. I think I will try to halve the recipe and stuff it with other things.

 

I put it in a blender. It turned into salad.

First, put the following in a blender (or food processor):

One whole orange with peel, cut into chunks. De-seed if necessary.

orange

 

Two apples, cored and cut into chunks. Any kind. Use what you like, or what you have.

apples

 

Chop these things up rather finely in the appliance of your choice. I processed mine quite a bit, until it was a chunky paste.

Empty this into a big bowl.

Next, rinse one pound of fresh cranberries. Pick out the little stems. Add them to the blender or food processor (no need to clean it.)

cranberries

 

Process until all the cranberries are chopped to your preferred consistency. I used a blender, so mine were chopped rather finely.

Add the cranberries to the orange/apple mixture, stir it together, and add sugar (or your preferred natural sweetener) to taste. I added about 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar. Add some cinnamon. I didn’t measure mine, because I’m crazy like that. I bet it was about 1/2 tsp.

Refrigerate overnight for best results.

Inspired by a Cranberry Relish recipe from Simply Recipes.com.

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

This Lemon Poppyseed Dressing is yet another great way to use my immersion blender. I needed to find a tart, savory, and sweet-but-not-overly-so dressing for spinach salads that contain fruit and nuts. It’s my favorite salad combination, and I’m all over the place with apples, berries, grapes, pomegranate seeds, and all sorts of nuts. Today I was in a hurry, so it was just spinach and red grapes, which was still very tasty.

I used extra-virgin olive oil, which I reduced to 1/2 cup instead of 2/3, and I think I could have used a less flavorful oil like grapeseed. I also added some freshly-ground black pepper because I like that addition, even for a sweet dressing. (Hint: try some strawberries with freshly-ground black pepper. Seriously.)

Chicago Vegan Mania 2011

VeganMania

Last weekend, we packed up the car and made a stop at one of the premier vegan events in the area: Chicago VeganMania. This year, the third Chicago VeganMania was held at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. One of the things that stands out the most about my experience is that they need a MUCH larger venue for this event! It was difficult to walk through the exhibit halls, and next to impossible to find seating and enjoy some of the delicious food offerings.

The first 100 people to enter the building scored a goody bag packed with mostly literature, but also some treats like applesauce, an energy bar, and Dandies vegan marshmallows from Chicago SoyDairy. I hope “Meat-Free” Mike enjoyed the sample I brought to last week’s show. It was just enough to make a snack-size rice krispy treat. Lance and I enjoyed our bag over a game of Uno.

There were some good samples offered in the exhibit area. My favorites were Tiny But Mighty Popcorn, and mildly-spicy nacho Teese from Chicago SoyDairy. And both Lance and I tried kombucha for the first time. For those of you unfamiliar with this beverage, it is basically an effervescent, fermented tea. Its benefits (or detriments) to health are somewhat controversial. (Thanks for the video link, Linda.) As you can see from Lance’s reaction, he probably wouldn’t drink it again either.

Lance tries kombucha, picture 1.

Lance tries kombucha, picture 2.

We made our way into the dining area early. Dave and Lance enjoyed lunch from Arya Bhavan. There was a samosa which disappeared too quickly to photograph,which contained black caraway seeds. I had just picked up some black caraway seeds, hoping the universe would show me how to use them. Once again, fate seems to put me where I need to be. There was also some of THE BEST channa masala we’ve ever had – also too swiftly devoured to photograph.

Lance managed to get an oh-so-flattering picture of me nomming on a huge cheesesteak from the Vegan Food Truck / Ste. Martaen. (Thanks.) They were selling some delicious-looking pecan pie too, but I didn’t have room.

Cheesesteak. In my face.

Overall, it was a fun event, and I was pleased to see so many vegan and non-vegan people show up. No rides in the vegan rickshaw, though!

Vegan rickshaw

 

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake: A Review

I’m not a huge fan of frozen dinners. But when I saw these Kashi dinners on sale at Meijer for $1.70 each (50% off!), I thought I would give them a try. They’re clearly marked “vegan” too. Thanks Kashi!

The Mayan Harvest Bake is advertised as “plantains, black beans, sweet potato & kale, Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf, amaranth & polenta, and spicy ancho sauce.” There’s a lot going on here. The photo on the front of the box depicts a neatly-arranged square of layered ingredients, but we all know that’s not what reality holds inside the box (see second photo below). There is no such thing as artful presentation when it comes to frozen dinners.

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

Despite the conglomerated presentation, I enjoyed the flavors in this dish. I would love to create my own dish with similar ingredients, especially plantains and the enchilada-type sauce. From the top down:

  • plantains: delicious any way you prepare them, really.
  • black beans: see above. Can’t go wrong.
  • sweet potatoes & kale: yes, please.
  • Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf: hearty, grainy. Might be better as a side dish.
  • amaranth polenta: worth making at home, since I love polenta. Yay for new grains!
  • spicy ancho sauce: tasty, reminiscent of the sauce on Amy’s enchiladas.
  • pumpkin seed garnish: very nice.

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

The verdict: tasty. Not sure I would purchase this if it had not been on sale. At least I have some new plantain ideas that don’t involve frying! With an apple for dessert, I’m full.

Squirrels on Film

It’s been a while since my last blog update. I’m still very much alive. To prove it, here’s a picture of a squirrel on a bike, spotted on the quad today on the way back from lunch. Wheee!

a squirrel on a bike, for reals!

Did you know that one of our Quad Squirrels here at the University of Illinois has its own Facebook page and a hilarious Twitter feed too?

And in reference to the title, here’s a little Duran Duran to complete your day: Girls on Film.

[youtube]gudEttJlw3s[/youtube]

 

 

What I Ate This Week: Vegan MoFo #20

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodHas it been 20 posts already? Seriously, it will be November already next week! Where did Rocktober go?

It’s been a mostly non-cooking week for me, at least at dinner. Maybe it’s MoFo burnout, or the minor cold I’ve had. Minor it was, due to my Vegan Superpower of Supreme Immunity. When I’m feeling something coming on, I eat more garlic, onions, kale, and miso. I also drink green tea and get regular amounts of sleep.

Without further ado, the food-related highlights:

tomato rice soup experiment #2

Some recipes just aren’t right the first time, or the second. Like this tomato rice soup, Take #2. Dave has loved both takes so far because they’ve been too overly spicy for me to enjoy. We both think there’s something missing. It could be basil.

 

Cactus Grill tofu burrito

Linda was talking about Cactus Grill this week while we were planning Food for Thought. I looked them up on Facebook. The first post on their wall was a thank you to their customers, who have supported a locally-owned shop in a tough economy. So on one of the best days of the week to take a walk around town, I walked over from campus to have a burrito. They have two kinds of vegetarian rice (lime cilantro and spanish) and two kinds of vegetarian beans (black and pinto), plus marinated tofu cubes. I think they have fajita vegetables, but I didn’t opt for those. Nice selections for the vegetarians, and of course you just leave off the cheese and sour cream to make it vegan. Easy.

 

Basil Thai Pineapple Rice

I like Thai food, and I don’t have it often enough. So this week, I had it twice. This is Tropical Fried Rice from Basil Thai in Urbana.

 

Mussamun Curry

This is Mussamun Curry from a restaurant that is now where Basil Thai used to be in Champaign, near Empire Chinese (another really good Chinese restaurant in town). I asked the owner, and they don’t put fish sauce in anything unless the customer requests it. All dishes can be made vegetarian (with tofu or veggies) or vegan (no egg most of the time) upon request. Only the pho broth cannot be made vegan (beef base).

 

mushroom pasta

And to end the week, and bring a little of the cooking mojo back, I threw together a quick pasta dish with some sliced fresh mushrooms and onions, sauteed in a little Earth Balance, with lots of black pepper, garlic, fennel, and fresh parsley.

Now if I just had someone to clean up my kitchen, I think that would get me even more motivated!

 

Look, it coordinates.

Pink sweater. Pink smoothie.My smoothie coordinates with my sweater and scarf today. Yes, I am a big dork.

The lovely red color comes from beets. The smoothie also contains frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, and tahini (for protein and calcium).

Thank you to Linda for the beet suggestion on the Food For Thought Radio Show. I love beets, and they’re one of the World’s Healthiest Foods. They contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

From World’s Healthiest Foods:

Beets are unique in their rich combination of betalain pigments. Both betacyanins (red-violet pigments) and betaxanthins (yellow pigments) can be found in beets. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are betalains that have gotten special attention in beet research.

Beets are also an excellent source of hearth-healthy folate and a very good source of the antioxidant manganese and heart-healthy potassium. Beets are a good source of digestive-supportive dietary fiber, free radical scavenging vitamin C and copper, bone-healthy magnesium, and energy-producing iron and phosphorus.

Beets are in season right now, so go eat some!

 

 

Peace, Love, and Caramelized Onions: Vegan MoFo #19

Caramelized Onion and Delicata Squash Pizza

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodSaturday lunches are often a chance to make something more elaborate and/or experimental. Today I sampled a new vegetable: delicata squash. I sliced it in pieces, unpeeled, and roasted it in a 425 degree F oven with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. The skin is so thin, it’s edible. Easy!

The squash was a great addition to this pizza, along with caramelized onions and sliced mushrooms. The crust is made from King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, my favorite whole-grain flour, and seasoned with a little garlic powder, fennel, and black pepper.

According to Wikipedia, “Delicata squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a winter squash with distinctive longitudinal dark green stripes on a yellow or cream colored background and sweet, orange-yellow flesh. It is also known as the peanut squash, Bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash (because of the flavor similarity to the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)). Although considered a winter squash, delicata squash belongs to the same species as all types of summer squash (including pattypan squashzucchini and yellow crookneck squash).”

And the seeds are edible too, when toasted. I’ll have to save them next time!

Liebster Blog

It’s been a great week, full of good food and lots of love – from the people around me, as well as the blogging world. I’ve received three Liebster Blog Awards from bloggers throughout the week: Mel from Veganise This!, Bethany from Bananas for Smoothies, and Katie from Not Your Parents’ Granola. I’m so honored! Thank you!

‘Liebster’ is German for ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite.’ The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan MoFo! Thank you for visiting I Eat Grains, and supporting both the blog and veganism.

To return the love, I get to name 5 of my favorite blogs for each of these awards. I’ll divide these 15 blogs into the next three posts. Here are the first 5:

JL Goes Vegan – I love her KALE t-shirt. Where can I get one?!

Not a Crazy Vegan – she’s from Chicago, shares my first name and last initial, and is not afraid to post failed dishes on the blog.

Seitan Beats Your Meat – I like Kelly’s blog, of course, but the picture on her About page has so much awesome: funky hair, retro clothing, and cupcakes. (Plus, there’s a bunny.) I’ve been a part-time non-vegan cake decorator too!

Sneaky Vegan has a great selection of recipes and is another vegan in an omnivorous family.

The Vegan Zombie has fun with zombies and vegan food all at the same time.