weekdayvegetarians

Love to eat? So do we!

Month: May, 2012

Good morning!

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Today I thought I would do a running blog of what we are eating starting with my glorious, in-house cappuccino, made by moi (and with a little help from my Nespresso machine). Eating something great today? Let me know or better yet, send me a photo!!!

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This is our green smoothie – this morning my husband made it for us and I almost ended up losing a finger in the magic bullet… true story. Then we had smoked paprika hash browns with scrambled eggs on English muffins! Lunch will be a treat because we are going to a birthday party! Stay tuned!!!

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Well, that was a meat-eriffic day. We had hot dogs for lunch with potato salad and coleslaw and then for dinner (after a couple of hours in the pool) we had delicious hamburgers. All four of us are zonked and I completely forgot to take photos of most of what we were eating while we were out except for the most important part – birthday cake!

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My children were the only ones in the party room polishing off their dessert plates. Their hotdogs they ate quickly and wanted to get back to playing. But dessert was different, somethings in life aren’t meant to be rushed… like beautiful treat-filled weekends – hope yours was amazing!

Fresh rolls.

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Here in Ontario we celebrated our recent Victoria Day holiday with quite possibly the nicest May long weekend we have had in a while. We were swimming all day Sunday and had three full days of being outside and enjoying our recently de-weeded yard. We entertained a lot this weekend, and the one thing I forgot WAS TO TAKE PICTURES of the delicious things we made.

On Saturday, we had family and friends over and we served all vegetarian food. Actually, almost the whole weekend was vegetarian and we were a bit nervous about what our guests might think, but they ended up loving it. So, Saturday we had my Thai Green Curry that I have posted before, with coconut rice, Pad Thai and Mango Salad. Same old, same old. BUT, I switched it up a bit, and made some fresh rolls. I love spring rolls but I also know that deep frying food often is not so good for us, so I decided to try my hand at fresh rolls. The recipe is here. Try it, you will love it. And definitely make the sauce, because separate they are okay, but together they are amazing.

On Sunday we spent the day with different friends at their house and pool and enjoyed our meat quota with steak sandwiches, sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs. We spent the entire day in the pool and cooled off afterwards with a homemade (by me) brownie ice cream cake. I love ice cream and I love brownies, but what I don’t love about brownies combined with ice cream is that you usually put all of it in the freezer and your delicious chewy brownies become hard and cold. So, what I did was put the ice cream in a saran-wrapped cake pan the same size as my brownie pans and put the softened ice cream in that then put it back in the freezer. I baked and cooled the best brownies known to man and kept them out of the freezer until it was ready to assemble. I put the very frozen ice cream on the bottom brownie and then put the top brownie on top and then we ate it and it was gone very quickly. I apologize for not taking photos, but now that I think of it, there was a very small window of opportunity for picture taking!

Then, on Monday we had more friends over and this time we had a barbecue! We served roasted vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, onions, red peppers, asparagus and portobello mushrooms) which we used to make panini sandwiches. I put out pesto and different sauces (mustards and mayonnaises, etc.) and two different cheeses (Jarlsberg and chevre) and then a whole bunch of fresh vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and red onion). Our guests were also served a homemade 4 bean salad and a homemade cucumber-mint-couscous salad. This was the meal we were worried about – we were worried that our friends would want meat. In fact, about 20 minutes before our guests arrived my husband turned to me and said “Should we go out and get some hot dogs for the kids, just in case?” I stuck to my guns (well, it helped that the stores were all closed) and said “no.” The kids ate the food we served but the adults really enjoyed the food we served. They all commented on how filling the food was and how they felt full, but not “gross.” They also said they appreciated the “fresh” factor of the food given that they had spent most of the weekend eating meat. They weren’t looking forward to eating yet one more steak, and we didn’t serve it to them.

It was an important lesson for us. This weekend showed us that we could serve our normally meat-eating guests delicious, simple and flavourful vegetarian food and they could be satisfied and to their own surprise satiated with it. It showed us that even if the stores are open, we shouldn’t rush out to get hot dogs for the kids because they will eat what we serve. And what we are serving is healthy, delicious vegetarian food. What a great weekend!

Dinner tonight.

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This evening we had a pasta dish for dinner. I am not crazy about pasta for dinner – it just doesn’t do it for me. But tonight my daughter had gymnastics so I knew I had to make something she would eat – even though she had a thermos full of pasta for lunch. Luckily for me, pasta is her favorite and she still ate it enthusiastically for dinner.

We live in a city that is full of Italians and if there is one things Italians do well, it is make pasta. Local friends of ours told me about a pasta dish they make when they want something delicious, but quick, for dinner. So, without further ado…

Pasta with Zucchini and Breadcrumbs

Start by taking some olive oil and heating it up in a skillet. Then you add some finely sliced garlic and fry that up until it is golden. Meanwhile, bring a large pot full of water to a boil for your pasta. Start to cook it, unless you chose an angel hair pasta which is done in three minutes. Back to your skillet, take a zucchini (I peeled mine in an attempt to hide it from the kids) and chop it into your hot garlic oil. Fry this until it is softened and starting to get golden. Then, take bread crumbs and sprinkle them over your zucchini. Fry the breadcrumbs until they start to get toasted and fragrant. Once your pasta is done, add it to the skillet and toss it to coat all the pasta with the breadcrumbs and zucchini. You can add fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan at this time and even some oven roasted or sun dried tomatoes, if you wish. Before serving, drizzle the pasta with more olive oil (only a little) and dig in!

This pasta dish was a nice change from the regular marinara sauce and was flavourful and different. Pasta for dinner is starting to look a little better!

Green Smoothie M.I.Y.

First off: Happy Mother’s Day! I don’t know about you other mothers out there, but I had a wonderful day with my family. I was taken out for breakfast (and finally filled my bacon craving) and then was taken out for a late lunch (and I had ribs). Needless to say, at about 6 o’clock, I had the worst upset stomach I have had in a long time. I think it was my body’s way of saying why are you eating meat!?!!!!?!!? Anyway, lesson learned… it was too much in one day and I won’t be doing that again. My husband has controlled himself much better and has even started promoting our weekday vegetarianism to anyone who will listen. He loves telling people about our green smoothies but he passes them back to me once they ask how we do them – so, for all those who wonder how we make our version of green smoothies, here is how we do it!

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Homemade Falafel

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The past couple of weeks have been a bit busy with me and the kids together almost 24/7 and my husband at work for most of the day. This has meant that we have been eating a lot of different things (some homemade, some definitely not) but nothing that interesting or blog worthy up until tonight. This evening I made homemade falafels (which I will share the recipe for below) and couscous. My husband and I were amazed that a baked falafel with butternut squash could possibly taste as good as a deep-fried version… but it did. I was very skeptical about the butternut squash in the falafel, thinking it might give too much flavour, but as you will see by the other ingredients, you can barely taste the squash at all.

Sometimes after we finish eating falafel, we feel so full, almost as if we have eaten meat. It can be too much. These homemade falafels are filling but not so much so that you need a nap after eating them. The couscous I made was a recent acquisition from Costco. They were selling a 1 kg bag of an orzo/mini-chick pea/couscous mix which, start to finish, is done in about 12 minutes… I like this. I usually leave everything for dinner to the last minute, and then kick myself afterwards for doing that. But this entire homemade delicious meal was started and finished in about 1 hour (or 1 episode of Sesame Street) and it was worth it.

Baked Butternut Squash Falafel
adapted from Vegetarian by Alice Hart

1 small butternut squash, peeled, descended and cubed
3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 can organic or no-salt added chick peas, drained and rinsed
handful of parsley
handful of cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 – 2 tbsp water

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the butternut squash on a parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Allow to roast until tender and starting to get dark.
2. While your squash is baking, place the chick peas, fresh herbs, garlic, cumin, baking soda and water in a food processor and pulse until pasty. *I had my mixture in the magic bullet at first but because of the lack of liquid, it did nothing.* Move to a bowl.
3. Once the squash is done, mash it up and then add it to the chick pea mixture. If you have time, you can chill it for 30 minutes, if not, don’t worry.
4. Make small balls using two spoons and place the falafel on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle the falafel with the other half of the olive oil. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until nicely crisped on the outside. The falafel will remain tender on the inside. Enjoy with your favorite toppings – we had a mint-cucumber yogurt, tahini, hummus and all sorts of fresh vegetables.

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Promised Goat Cheese Tart Recipe.

I wrote about our dinner from last week and promised to post the recipe for the goat cheese tart that I made (not entirely from scratch). It was promised to you the next day, but, as always happens, life gets in the way, and I forgot. But, I finally remembered and am delighted to share it with you! If you like goat cheese, please give these a try, you will love them.

Goat Cheese Tarts with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Yields 6 tarts

Total time, approximately, 1 hour.

  • 1 tomato, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package puff pastry shells
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • garlic clove, grated (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • about 5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tbsp 10% cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F (Please double-check this temperature as I am going from memory).
  2. Place the puff pastry shells on a baking sheet and bake as directed on the box, or until starting to get golden.
  3. In the meantime, place your sliced tomatoes on another baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake these for about 12-15 minutes, or until nicely dried out and roasted.
  4. Heat just a tiny amount of oil in a frying pan on medium and sauté your shallot until golden. If you want to add garlic and thyme, add it just as the shallots are finishing, to make them fragrant but not to burn.
  5. While the shells and tomatoes are baking, take your crumbled cheese in a bowl, mix in the egg and cream (and salt and pepper to taste) and add the shallots, garlic and thyme. My mixture was quite creamy but not liquid.
  6. In this time, your tomatoes and shells will have finished baking. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Set aside the tomatoes to cool. Take your cheese filling and, using a pastry bag (or two spoons), fill in the baked shells.
  7. Place back in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is set but not browning.
  8. Top with an oven-roasted tomato and enjoy while still warm. They are flaky, and cheesy and so flavourful. This is a higher-fat dish and we ate it as our main dish along with a salad and vegetable kabobs for dinner. It was incredibly satisfying and I had one the next day for breakfast too! The tomatoes add a “fresh” and sweet flavour that is wonderful. I hope you give them a try – I think you will like them!
Buon appetito!

Happy 1 Month Anniversary!

50% of all illnesses could be delayed or eliminated by dietary changes. 4 of the top 7 causes of death – heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes – are related to diet.

Well, we did it! We have been Weekday Vegetarians for 1 month! It has been, in a word, amazing. If you’re still sitting on the fence or completely unconvinced, you’re probably wondering why we think it’s so amazing. It’s for a few reasons:

1. It’s so easy – my initial hesitation to become vegetarian was that I wasn’t sure we would be able to keep track of proteins or vitamins or minerals. I realize that as long as we eat well, and balanced meals, we don’t have to fret about each gram. I also wasn’t sure my kids would eat what I made (we’re still working on that) and I wasn’t sure we could do it. And the food that we make is SO easy and quick to prepare. There’s no cooking for extended periods of time and a healthy dinner can be made in no time at all.

2. Our plates are so colourful. I know this sounds weird, but when we ate meat, I always made sure our plates had salad on them and usually a starch (rice, pasta or potato) but our plates were sort of boring. Now, because we use so many different vegetables and new ingredients, our plates are exciting, colourful and SO appetizing.

3. We’re saving money. We stopped buying about $30-$40 worth of meat a week, which leaves room for me to shop! Just kidding. We also haven’t been buying meat on the weekends because the past few weekends have been a whirlwind. However, we have decided that when we do want meat, we are buying free-range, organic meat.

4. We have more energy. We’re not being weighed-down with digesting heavy meat.

5. Our digestive systems are in ship-shape. I won’t go into too much detail, but I can say that the occasional constipation from my children is GONE! We have never been more regular. Our diet has so much more fibre in it now which is helping everyone in that department!

That’s why we love being vegetarian. Today I went to the library and I got yet another vegetarian cookbook for some meal ideas. The book was filled with all sorts of interesting statistics. Keep in mind these are for Americans; however, I think they provide some worthy insight into the benefits of vegetarianism.

Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook. By the editors of Vegetarian times. – 2nd ed.

“In a lifetime, according to the authors of The Animal Rights Handbook, the average meat-eating American will consume 1 calf, 3 lambs, 11 cattle, 23 hogs, 45 turkeys, 1097 chickens and 15, 665 chicken eggs.”

And my personal favourite: “Soybeans contain more protein than beef, more calcium than milk, more lecithin than eggs, and more iron than beef.”

So, if you’re still sitting on the fence, what are you waiting for? Give it a try, even if it’s a start with Meatless Mondays.