Quarantine food game freezer edition

So, how are things going for you?   COVID-19 cases are growing here in Charleston and I think (and hope) a stay at home order is coming.  We need to flatten the curve so we can save lives.

I know you’re not here for news, but for food help.  If you haven’t already seen the pantry and fridge posts, give them a peek. This one is all about what we keep in the freezer and how it helps us get through the busy days and when we just don’t feel like hitting the grocery store.  Believe me, those days were many when my back went wonky a few months back and walking was an ordeal.  Grabbing a bag of veggies and a veggie burger or sausage out of the freezer made meals so much easier.

What are our freezer staples?

  • Veggies – blends, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, greens, and okra
  • Beans – either cooked from dry and frozen in 2-cup increments or store-bought
  • Fruit – whatever happens to be on sale but usually berries, mango, and pineapple
  • Veggie meat – burgers and sausage
  • Vegan meals – occasionally homemade leftovers, skillet meals, and individual meals
  • Tofu – firm and extra-firm

It’s a short list, but these staples paired with pantry and fridge staples result in fantastic meals and snacks all day long.  Sometimes just the frozen options can make nice meals.  These are goodies I’ve made in the past, present, and future.

Smoothies with fruit and greens (or cauliflower rice) make a nice breakfast or snack.  I’ll add oats sometimes to make it a heartier drink or make a smoothie bowl topped with oats, nuts, and fresh or thawed frozen fruit.  Sometimes, I’ll blend tofu and berries to make a mousse as a snack or dessert.  Topping it like a smoothie bowl also makes a nice breakfast – one I ‘ve had a few days this week.  rsz_20200331_120333

A veggie burger with or without a bun served with fries and baked beans is a standard go-to when I’m not feeling creative.  When I am feeling more creative or feel like re-creating my old favorite tv dinners, I’ll turn the burger into Salisbury Steak with mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, and a fruit crisp or brownie for dessert.  I’ve also turned burgers into meatloaf when I want a lof but not lentil loaf.

Vegan sausage is perfect on a bun with sauteed peppers and onions, sliced up and mixed with beans (who didn’t like Beanie Weenies as a kid?), or sitting on the side of red beans and rice.  For a snack, a link with brown mustard and pickles is nice for a lower carb day.  Beyond Sausage and Lightlife’s new Sausage are in the freezer now.  I found them on sale a few months back and stocked up for a rainy day.

Sometimes all I want for dinner are beans, greens, and rice.  Throwing the rice in the InstantPot and thawing cooked beans and greens on the stovetop or microwave makes a healthy comfort food meal easy.   Hitting them with a little hot sauce or bbq sauce always does it for me. And if there’s time, some cornbread will seal the deal. There is no shame in using cornbread mix, y’all.

Frozen planned overs or leftovers help me get a homemade meal ready to go quickly.  Right now there is chili and a black beans and rice casserole waiting for their time to shine again.  When you freeze, make sure to put the name and date on the container. I’m not always up for “Vegan Surprize” after a long day.

Gardein Skillet Meals are a store-bought option that will work well if you’re in a hurry. Keep in mind that these will not feed more than two people.  Or one really hungry person.  I have Chik’n Florentino and Italian Style Rigatoni and Saus’age on hand and am looking at the Porkless Thai Curry as the next one to try.

Frozen veggies are perfect to round out a meal or as a meal in themselves.  I’ll serve cauliflower mashed, as wings (breaded or not), straight up with a sauce of some kind, as 20200308_214605a low carb potato substitute in home fries or salad.  Why? Why not.  Cauliflower rice is also a nice side option some days.  A stir-fry blend is nice for a quick curry or with teriyaki, hoisin, or orange sauce.  Classic mixed carrots, peas, and corn can be a nostalgic side or added to soup, a pot pie, or veggie fried rice.  See where I’m going here?  Ask me for more examples or my recipes and I’m happy to share.

I hope that these last few posts have given you idea for meals that won’t bore you while saving you from extra grocery stops.   Remember, there is no shame in convenience foods.  Do whatever you need to do to make healthy, filling meals that make you and yours happy.   Please be safe out there and wash your hands.

Take care.

 

 

 

 

The quarantine food game pantry edition

Howdy!  I hope that you’re settling into the new routine a little more and feeling less anxious about the state of the world.  I’m used to working from home but hubby (and I’m sure some of you) are not quite sold on working from home yet.  I hope at least that some of those meetings that could be emails are actually emails now.

Last time I posted about some of the staples in our refrigerator and how we turn them and some batch cooked rice, beans, and greens into various meals.  This post is all about the pantry.   A little bird told me that a specific list may be more helpful than paragraphs, so here goes.

  • Grains and pseudo-grains are a must – rice, oats, grits, dry cereal, and quinoa (when I’m in the mood)
  • Beans – dry and canned for quick meals.  I usually batch cook and freeze beans in 2-cup increments
  • Pasta – whole wheat, whole grain, or gluten-free, generally elbows, spirals, and spaghetti unless I’m in the mood for lasagna
  • Onions
  • Potatoes – sweet and red, Russet, or Yukon
  • Shelf-stable plant milk (when I remember to grab some)
  • Nuts and nut butter – usually cashews, walnuts, and a mix for snacking
  • Flour
  • Sugar and other sweeteners (stevia, dates, maple syrup, and Lakanto products)
  • Unopened condiments – barbeque sauce, mustard, salsa, salad dressings, and the like
  • Pickles – cucumbers, green beans, artichoke hearts – Yes, we treat pickles as staples.  Don’t you?
  • Tomatoes – diced and stewed
  • Pasta sauces – We tend to favor Classico
  • Bread and tortillas
  • Crackers (occasionally)
  • Spices and seasoning mixes
  • Vinegar – red, white, champagne, rice, and balsamic are here at the moment
  • Oil – Mostly for the family – olive, corn, and coconut

Our pantry staples don’t seem like much on their own, but pairing them to what we keep in the fridge and freezer (post coming soon) shows that the basics can go a long way.  These meals and sides are pantry- and fridge-based:

041

  • Baked sweet potatoes topped with black beans and barbeque sauce served with a simple salad
  • Stuffed Russet potatoes
  • Pasta and potato salads as lunch or dinner sides
  • Pasta with beans or lentil sauces or tossed with made with whatever veggies are on hand
  • PBJ or nut butter with fruit and a veggie or fruit side
  • Beans on toast (noms and thanks to the Brits for this one)
  • Home fries with a side salad if they’re not full of veggies
  • Chickpea “tuna” salad with crackers, on bread, or on top of a simple salad
  • Mac and cheese with a potato and carrot-based cheese sauce
  • Oats or oatmeal muffins for breakfast
  • Bean or nut-based sausage
  • Lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and whatever green veggies are in the fridge

There you go – a nice selection of meals and snacks for any time of day.  It’s easy to mix and match to suit your taste and cravings.

So, do you prefer paragraphs or a list?  Let me know and I’ll make sure to follow the preferences of the majority.  Sometimes this blog is a dictatorship, but it’s usually a democracy.

See you next time when I talk about the freezer.  That glorious beast!

Semi-wordless Wednesday: Books

You know I have a cookbook problem.

SAMSUNG

A few of my favorites, including books from authors I have a girl crush on. HInt – all of them.

al fresco

I reviewed this book and still pull ideas and recipes from it from time to time.

ice cream sandwiches

Don’t think any commentary is necessary.

Supercharged-Juices-Smoothies

Because your friendly neighborhood Sherrie does not fear the green,

meal plan bb

Meal planning was in full effect here.

 

Raw or cooked, plant-based comfort food rules!

Raw or cooked, plant-based comfort food rules! Noms!

A classic.

A classic.

One of my go-to's for healthy vegan eats.

One of my go-to’s for healthy vegan eats.

HappyHerbivoreLight-2526Lean_FrontCover

I’m digging the recipes here. They help me stick to my eating plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It doesn’t matter if the books are from the library or part of my personal collection.  I have one within reach daily.

By the way, if you’re in or near Charleston, SC, you can meet Happy Herbivore herself, Lindsay Nixon at the College of Charleston on Thursday!  I missed her back in 2012, but will be there this time.  Hope you can make it, too!

Review: Yacon Syrup is delicious!

Hello.   I’m Sherrie and I issues with sugar.  By issues I mean a deep love of it. Too much of it at times.  According to my mom, I went after sugary goodness with a vengeance as a baby. Before I was two, I snagged my Easter basket and took out the chocolate bunny when I was supposedly napping. She said I was working on the jelly beans when I was caught.

See, I told you I had a problem.

I’m on the lookout for low-glycemic alternative sweeteners that will hold up in baking and have minimal aftertaste no matter how it’s used.  I like stevia, but hubs and the kids don’t care for it.  Right on time, I was offered a bottle of V3 Life & Food Pure Premium Raw Organic Yacon Root Syrup.  While hubs was skeptical after hearing the reported benefits, I was happy to give it a shot.

yacon syrupHave you tried Yacon Syrup?

It’s making the rounds as a fantastic metabolism-boosting weight loss wonder.  It’s another new-to-us food from Peru that’s reported to have amazing benefits.

V3 Life & Food Pure Premium Raw Organic Yacon Root Syrup is certified organic, non gmo, soy and gluten-free, and a delicious low-glycemic sweetener.  It contains prebiotics and probiotics that support healthy digestion, has only 13 calories per teaspoon, and reportedly boosts the metabolism.   Other reported benefits include increased fiber intake, lower blood sugar, and  weight loss.  The Dr. Oz Show aired a feature on yacon syrup in November 2013 after looking into the hype and conducting a 28 day experiment.   Of the 40 participants who completed the challenge, 73% lost weight and 68% recommended it as a weight loss tool.   I wasn’t interested in the syrup as a weight loss aid and only tried it as a low-glycemic sweetener.

v3 yacon syrup nutrition label

It tastes like a cross between honey and molasses and adds a richness that honey doesn’t have.  I enjoyed it in hot tea, unsweetened soy milk (hot, cold, and blended with cocoa powder), drizzled on homemade soy yogurt and berries, coffee with a little coconut milk creamer, and in my morning acv and lemon juice drink.  I don’t know if it had an effect on my metabolism, but I do know that the flavor definitely had an effect on me.  I will keep it on hand for use in recipes calling for agave nectar or honey without hesitation.  I have a few muffin recipes calling my name now.  Pumpkin spice muffins are good any time of year.

Get your bottle of Life & Food Organic Yacon Root Syrup directly from Life & Food’s shop or Amazon.  No matter where you get it, give it a try and let me know what you think.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

June already? What’s your plan?

Can you believe 2014 is already six months old?  June is already 11 days old?  Where did the time go?  Are you on track?  Anywhere close to where you wanted to be?  I’ll admit it,  I’m not.   And I won’t let it throw me much.  I’ll tweak my plans and go month to month.

My plan was in part inspired by a dream.  I’ve been back and forth to the doc and specialists (yes, plural) trying to finally figure out what all ails me.   It’s exhausting and frustrating and frightening if I K et my mind wander too much.  More so if I consult Dr. Google instead of waiting to for a specific diagnosis.   According to Google,  cold symptoms could be anything from a cold to a rare syndrome that would put someone just outside death’s door.  No one needs that kind of stress or fear without knowing what’s going on inside them.

So, back to this dream.  Of course I dreamed about a doctor visit.  I mean, it’s been at least 33% of my focus for a while now.  So, I’m waiting for the doc to walk in, and it’s Kris Carr!   You know, the woman behind Crazy, Sexy Cancer.  Her.

I was so in awe and blown away.  I think seeing her was a sign.  Not that a cancer diagnosis is looming, but that I’m doing the right thing by following up with the docs and working on healing.  Another round of physical therapy starts next today   My diet is cleaning up and even more greens are coming in.  My healthier cookbooks are my main kitchen inspiration and I’m eating to live.

There they are, two of my inspirations!

There they are, two of my inspirations!

One of my go-to's for healthy vegan eats.

One of my go-to’s for healthy vegan eats. Lindsay Nixon photo.

A fav dish from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.  Sherrie Thompson photo.

A fav dish from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.  This and the tahini dressing that is.

I'll hit the library more often than the bookstore for new inspiration.

I’ll hit the library more often than the bookstore for new inspiration.

I don’t want to just survive anymore.  I want to thrive, glow, and kick ass.

So, what’s happening with you?  Have any good dreams lately?

I’m in love with green tea!

Oh, Kiss Me Organics, you had me at hello!

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I love tea, especially herbal blends. But sometimes I need a little more kick, and that’s when green tea calls me. It has caffeine, but doesn’t give me the shakes or upset my stomach like coffee does when I overindulge. As for cooking with green tea, that’s new for me. It was, anyway, until Kiss Me Organics asked if I wanted to try their Organic Matcha Green Tea.  Not only did they send the tea, but they included a cookbook and additional recipes.

Why Matcha Green Tea?  It helped me (and others) come out of a coffee addiction without leaving the detox symptoms of quitting cold turkey.  It has antioxidants, boosts metabolism (which helps with the 2 pm slump and calorie burning),

I’ve enjoyed my Matcha hot, iced, in smoothies, and in green tea soy (and almond milk) lattes.  Kiss Me Organics sent an e-book filled with recipes for drinks, cocktails, dips, baked goodies, and more.  If course, I had to put my own spin on the ones I tried. I made the Refreshing Matcha Cooler (page 16) with raw instead of steamed broccoli, raw beet greens in place of the steamed spinach, raw carrot instead of juice, a lime wedge instead of juice, and almond milk instead of yogurt. Oh man, it was fab!

If I thought my family would go for it, I’d go all out with some of the baked sweets year round.  Come

St.Patrick’s Day, a cake or cupcakes with a Matcha non-dairy icing will grace the table.  I know some Chocolate Rum Matcha Truffles (page 35) will hit the table before then.  Striped Pig Distillery’s Rum and a coconut cream should work nicely here.

Get your bag from Kiss Me Organics on Amazon for $25.  Kiss Me Organics offers excellent customer service and follows up to share additional recipes and tips. If you don’t like it, return it within 30 days for a full, no questions asked refund.

Cheers!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Ahh, Vegg. Nummy goodness.

So I received a package The Vegg Cookbook and a package of Vegg.  I wasn’t sure what I could do with it before I started playing with it, but so far, so good.

Hubby and the Boy don’t always care for my vegan goodness when tofu is a main ingredient, but last night they tore into my experiment.  I had Soyrizo on hand I needed to finish up and wanted a grab and go breakfast besides overnight oats or chia pudding,  A breakfast casserole seemed perfect, so I went for it.

Soyriso Vegg Breakfast Casserole

2 TBS Vegg
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used homemade raw cashew milk)
1 lb.firm tofu, divided
4 oz. Soyrizo (Trader Joe’s version is gluten-free)
3 small or one large potato, diced
1 medium onion, diced

Preheat oven o 350 degrees.  Blend Vegg and milk, then add 1/2 of the tofu and blend until smooth. Saute potatoes and onion until browned.  Add tofu and cook until heated through.  Add potato mixture to an 8×8 glass dish and pour Vegg mixture over it.  Stir to combine, then bake for 30 minutes.

Inhaled by a tofu-hating teen boy and tofu-tolerating husband.  I call that a win.

Semi-wordless Wednesday – all about the food

Nom nom nom

Vegan French Onion Soup from Vegan Nutritionista’s
Cut the Cheese 

Vegan Cheesecake from Cut the Cheese

Same cheesecake topped with strawberries.
‘Twas awesome!

My fav veggie curry from Saffron Cafe and Bakery
 (soon featuring vegan desserts – just ask)

A fab dinner from Sunset Oasis

Black Bean Sliders and Sweet Potato fries from
Sesame Burgers and  Beer

Dinner salad from Runaway Bay 

Are you hungry now?

The year in review and the year ahead

It might not seem that a lot happened in 2011, but it did.  I am coming out of it stronger and more aware of what’s going on and what I need to do.

(Yes, my daughter and I are hugging giant chickens.  It just had to be done.)

Food in 2011 was awesome!   One of the biggest things we did was purchase a freezer.  We can stock up when things are on sale (BOGO Gardein for the win), cook ahead for quick meals, and keep fruit and veggies at the ready no matter how the vegetable bin looks.

New cookbooks were added to my collection and I’ve been giddy.  Decadent goodness from Vegan Diner sits along side Radiance 4 LifeEat to Live, Happy Herbivore’s books, The 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart, Get Healthy, Go Vegan, and Appetite for Reduction.  I’ve been cooking a lot more, reduced my sugar intake, and eat out less.

I’ve also changed my mindset somewhat.  While the scale may not move as much as I’d like, I’ve noticed major changes in my body.  Three weeks ago I bought a pair of size 20 jeans.  Two days ago, those jeans were falling off of me, but the scale stayed the same.  Not long ago I’d be upset about the scale, but now I celebrate the clothing size.  The weight loss will follow the size change.

And it’s easy to change how I think about my body when I can look at how far I’ve come even with the pain. Remember this?  I do, and I still cringe when I look at it.  But that was August, and the chicken-hugging pic is from yesterday.  I knew it would be a full body shot and I didn’t care.  Scratch that, I wanted it to be a full body shot.  I had no fear of it.  That is huge for me.

I think 2011 is ending on a positive note and am so excited about 2012.  Why be exited about the year when something scared the Mayans into ending their calendar? Well, I’m not a Mayan and have plans. Both the daughter and I are graduating in 2012, and those big days will be celebrated.  I’ll hit the big 4-3 and tackle my first big race since my high school track and field days.  The year will kick off on a fantastic vegan note (and another PCRM 21 Day Vegan Kickstart will start on January 2) and the weather in town will be lovely.

I’m sitting here with a silly grin, blogging and smiling at hubby on the desktop ad listening to the kids game in their rooms.  I am a happy wahm this New Year’s Eve and hope that you are happy, too.

For the last time in 2011, peace.