Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Eating Vegan On A Budget: Stretching Your Vegan Cheese Recipes

If not all of my vegan cheese sauces - MOST of my vegan cheese sauces seem to be a 'one and done'.  Meaning I throw everything into my blender - wet and dry - make the cheese sauce - and throw it on whatever I am wanting to CHEESE UP.  Especially if I am using cashews or another kind of nut for the creamy base this will be a pretty expensive vegan cheese sauce...considering a pound of cashews are anywhere between $11 and $16.  When I have made Vegan Cheese Sauces in the past I usually use 1 cup of cashews on the average.  So that means 1 cup of cashews for 1 dish.  After Googling this I have noticed that you usually get about 4 cups of cashews in a pound.  So that means that I'm spending between $2.75 and $4 per dish just on the cashews (if they are between 11 and 16 bucks).  WHAT?  OMG!  So...there is a method for all of this MADNESS here, REALLY!  PROMISE!  Keep reading...

I recently came across a recipe on Veg Kitchen and it was a recipe from Miyoko Schinner.  Yes...THAT Miyoko Schinner!  Miyoko...the Vegan Cheese Goddess!  You can see her recipe at the link above.  You know me - I use what I have on hand - so I tried a few tweaks - and they seemed to work nicely!  The first photo above is the aftermath of this recipe my first day.  The second photo is from ALMOST the beginning.  I used my Vitamix.  I can't believe I'm going to say this but I don't think a Vitamix is the way to go with this.  Unless you are REALLY patient and do it 'low and slow'.  If you KNOW ME - you know I'm NOT the most patient person.  It WORKED tho!  This was my first attempt.  There were some clumps but I put individual portion sizes of the dry mix in the refrigerator and then when I took one of them out I put it in a coffee grinder to loosen and 'all was well.'

Here you can see the coffee grinder attempt to 'fluffen' the dry powdery mix.  I have a small coffee grinder that I use for spices and such.  I don't use it as an actual coffee grinder.  When making the actual SAUCE I take 1/3 C of this mixture and whisk it into 1 C of Almond Milk and about 1/3 C Water.  And then you have your sauce.  I was able to get at least 4 batches of sauce with this dry mix.  It's described my many as a vegan equivalent to the dry mix in boxed Mac & Cheese!

So if I was able to get at least 4 uses out of this dry mix - the serving sauce on the cashew part - is between 69 cents and $1 - if the 1 pound of cashews cost $11 to $16.  I know this has been one HUGE blab fest about the cost of cashews and serving sizes but I thought it was interesting.  This will NOT make me stop trying other Vegan Cheese Sauces, flavors, mixtures, etc. but it's certainly something to keep in mind when the bank account it lower than usual.

I will say that it tasted quite good.  It's not a sharper cheese sauce like some of mine are but it more than gets the job done.

In this photo you can see what it looks like as I whisked!  Yes, I know, I'm a messy cook!

What do you think so far?  I have more photos!

In this attempt - the same one as above - I used a tomato based penne pasta.  It was pretty fabulous!  In the photo below I added some Turmeric to the dry mix or even while on the stove top heating and thickening.  It made it more orange/yellow.  I used organic pasta.  The elbow variety of course.  I topped with Wildtree Dill.  It was YUMMY.  At first I thought that there was a lot of sea salt in this but it worked.  And if you think about salt/sodium in those boxed powders it probably levels up!

Here's the recipe I used - including my own alterations...

1 C Cashews
3/4 C Nutritional Yeast
1/2 C Garbanzo Bean Flour
1 T Smoked Paprika
1 T Organic Cane Sugar
3 tea Black Himalayan Sea Salt
2 tea Wildtree Absolutely Onion
2 squirts Yellow Mustard

I put all of these ingredients into a blender/grinder until powdery.

1/3 C Dry Mix
1 C Almond Milk
1/3 Water

Whisked on low to medium heat until desired consistency is reached.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Chowder

It's a NEW Week!?  Are you ready!?  I'm TRYING.

I have to tell you I already have LOTS to share this week but I'm going to try and pace myself so I can post something at least once each day!  I would like to start off the week by sharing this AMAZING Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Chowder I attempted last night!  I combined 2 online recipes and then added a few other things to it.  I altered it so much that I think that I can safely put the recipe here on my blog.

Ingredients for Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Chowder:

1 Small Head of Cauliflower
2 Sweet Potatoes
5 C Water
1 C Cashews
1 T Wildtree Absolutely Onion
5 Cloves Garlic
1 tea Basil
2 to 3 tea Braggs Liquid Aminos

Most of the soups I do - I throw everything into my blender and DONE.  This one took a few more steps.

First I took 3 C Water and boiled.  I added the Cauliflower that I broke up into smaller chunks, added the Sweet Potatoes that I cut up into smaller chunks and too the skin off, and added the Onion, Garlic, and Basil to the pot.  I put them on medium until soft.

While I was waiting for them to get soft - I moved over to my Vitamix and put the other 2 C Water in my blender along with the 1 C of Cashews.  I blended those until it looked like milk.  

I then added the Cashew Milk I just made in my blender to the pot of Cauliflower, Sweet Potatoes, etc that was on the stove and simmered for another 5 minutes or so.  This is when I added the Bragg's Liquid Aminos, too!

I then took about 75% of the contents and put it in my blender again and blended until smooth.  I added it back to the pot and stirred it.  

I just HAD to try a bowl (or two) and absolutely LOVED it!!!!  YUMMO!  I topped the individual serving bowl(s) with a sprinkle of Smoked Paprika and Nutmeg!   WOWZA!  Totally LOVE this soup!  Or is it a CHOWDER?  You be the judge!

It made an INSANE amount so I will surely been eating it for DAYS!  YAY!

It's been a while since I posted any photos of the furkids.  Not sure why.  Here is Riley on the left and Cricket on the right.  They snuggled up on my lap on DH's Recliner (I rarely sit in it).  Luckily I had my iPhone nearby to snap this pic.  This was Saturday Night.  They were touching 'cheek to cheek' and I don't mean the cheeks on their faces! haha!

Cricket was kind of a little terror this weekend.  She's about 4-ish but she still acts like a puppy!  After all the activity of the weekend and her tear-assin' around the house - this was her last night - sacked out on my lap.  She has gained a little weight since we adopted her over 2 years ago but she still only weighs 7 pounds at the most.  She's so small.  Especially when she crawls into a little ball and sleeps!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sleep & Music

The last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with different sleeping habits.  One in particular was the addition of listening to music while I sleep.

I have found that this is helping me get to sleep, get better sleep, and when I wake up - it seems like I can get back to sleep quicker.

I guess in a way I'm pairing this with meditation at the end of the day, too.  So I'm able to achieve 2 daily goals with 1 action.

Where am I finding 8-hours of Meditative Sleep Music?  YouTube.  You can even type in what kind of sleep music.  HERE I typed in for Fibromyalgia.

Friday, March 24, 2017

I Spent Under $3 on Groceries This Week!

This blog post title might be a little misleading but it's TRUE.  Let me explain.

I'm still working on consuming my MASSIVE Haul from about 4 weekends ago where I shopped at Target and the Whole Foods Co-Op in Erie as well as Trader Joe's in Woodmere, OH, and a little bit of bargains found at my local Aldi Store AND Tops Market.

This week I only bought 2 items and those items were 1 Avocado and a package of Tortilla Wraps.  I bought both at Aldi and spent under $3.

I ended up spending more on the Avocado than I wanted to but I was CRAVING one and for the first time EVER I ate 1 Avocado over a 2 day period.

My mother must have bought a bunch of Halo/Cuties last week because she pawned off 4 of them to me.  They came in HANDY because I had all 4 of them for breakfast today.  Freebies!  Gotta LOVE them!

I have been pondering the $30 Vegan Shopping Challenge for a while now.  I know I will do it at some point.  I would like to commit to doing it within the next week or two but it might be unfair because I still have things to eat from my previous shopping trips.  Perhaps I will try and do it and just make a note on what new items I buy.  I'm not sure if I will do a video or not because my area is really weird about that.  Not sure if I could pull off a video at my local Aldi's!  But you never know!  I'll blog about it at the very least!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More Wraps, More Dips!

This is a classic Left Over Wrap!

This contains the last little bit of tofu I had in the freezer.  I seasoned it with Wildtree Memphis Seasoning.  I also used left over corn and black beans.

I melted some Daiya 'Jack' Shreds on the wrap and added the rest of the ingredients and that was my wrap!

1/3 Block of Tofu, Frozen, then Thawed
1/2 C Black Beans
1/2 C Corn
Handful of Daiya Shreds
Pinch of Wildtree Memphis Dry Rub (to season tofu)
1/2 Avocado, smashed (with lemon juice)
2 T Salsa

All in a skillet (except Daiya, Avocado, Salsa) with Earth Balance, until done.

For a separate meal/snack I did the remaining multi-colored mini potatoes in a skillet with pumpkin oil until crunchy.  I also made a Lemon Dill Cashew Dip for them.

2 C Cashews
1 C Water
1/4 C Oil (I used Pumpkin)
4 tea Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tea Nutritional Yeast
6 T Lemon Juice
1-2 tea Wildtree Dill
Pinch of Pink Himalayan Seas Salt

This Lemon Dill Dip was AMAZING!!!!  It could simply be watered down more for a dressing.  I tried to do this and I found equal parts Water, ACV, and Lemon Juice worked nicely!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Random Leftovers & Sauces & Wraps

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!  The weather here certainly was more pleasant than the earlier part of the week was.  I'm hoping the snow is done and over with for this winter and we can continue on with your adventure of SPRING!

My post today will be a little all over the place.  I've been eating some strange food combos but everything has turned out pretty YUMMY!  I want to be sure I am not wasting food and using what I have before buying much more.  So far this has been going well.  I'm on a bit of a wrap kick but more on that shortly.

First I need to share with you one of the new dips I created last night.  It's a vegan version of a pink sauce that I saw on Giada.  It was on at DH's Grandmothers yesterday and I knew I could do a vegan version of it fairly easily!

Here is what I did for the vegan version I made...

1 C Vegan Mayo
4 or 5 Mini Sweet Red Peppers (or 2 Medium)
1 T Minced Garlic
2 T Lemon Juice
Sprinkle of Smoked Paprika

It was pretty YUMMY but next time I will be adding more sweet red bell peppers and more garlic!  Because that's the way I roll!

The veggies pictured in the first photo were left over from DH's Grandmothers House...we had a belated birthday for both him and I as our birthdays are only 6 days apart.  I treated myself to a Daiya Pizza and So Delicious Mint Chocolate Ice Cream (both vegan, of course)

The other night I had Vegan Mac & Cheese.  You have probably seen a LOT of Vegan Cheese Sauces I have done here on my blog so I figured I would share yet another one with you!

This one is a Nut-Free Version

2 Mini Red Bell Peppers
1/4 C Lemon Juice
3/4 C Nutritional Yeast
3/4 C Tahini
2 T Minced Garlic
1/2 C Water
1 Squirt of Yellow Mustard
Black Himalayan Sea Salt to taste

Now on to the leftovers, eh!?

I had a very little bit of my Tater Tot Casserole that I froze.  I threw that on top of the stove along with some corn and some leftover tofu cubes.  I took a wrap and warmed it up with a slice of Daiya on it - enough to melt it.  Then I threw the rest of the warm ingredients on top of that and made a wrap!  But not before adding about a tablespoon of salsa on top!

This was super YUMMY and certainly a comfort food for the WIN!

 Like I said I have been on a wrap kick lately so here is another I did.  This is a Vegan Breakfast Wrap.  My main goal here was to use multi-colored baby potatoes I bought at Aldi's not too long ago but needed to start using SOON as well as finish up the Daiya Shreds I had on hand.  Mission Accomplished!  Let me tell you what is in this one, shall I?

Leftover Cubed Tofu
Leftover Corn
White & Purple Mini Potatoes
Daiya Shreds

I also threw in some Egg Trick Seasoning that I had leftover from when I did my Egg Trick Bagel last week!  This worked out VERY WELL!  It was tasty!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Sources!

I figured SUNDAYS are a good time to share some of the research I have been doing lately!  One of the many sources I have come a crossed lately is the PlantBasedResearch.org site.  I don't know why I haven't visited the site sooner!

It's an online narrative review of peer-reviewed, scientific research papers, and educational resources that are relevant to plant-based nutrition. Links to the abstract are included with every article, and links to the free full articles are included when possible! A narrative review is a collection of research papers supporting a particular theory - this website is by no means an exhaustive directory of all research on nutrition and disease but presents the growing body of evidence supporting the theory that whole food, plant-based diets offer the best chance for avoiding chronic disease, and in some cases, reversing it.

I'm always interested in learning more and more each day and I think this site is a great way of doing it so I declare PlantBasedResearch this Sunday's Source of the Day!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alkaline Vegan Foods?

Last weekend I mentioned that I was researching Alkaline Vegan Foods!

Here are the 8 MOST Alkaline Foods...and guess what...THEY ARE VEGAN!

I then HOPPED OVER to One Green Planet and found some really awesome vegan foods and recipes that I will have try soon!  Some of them were: 

Za’Atar Grilled Eggplant Salad

Green Pea and Avocado Spread

Onion and Bell Pepper Masala

Cauliflower Cheese Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Spiced Coconut Dal


Summer Zoodle Glow Bowl With Creamy Avocado Lime Sauce

Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions

They seem fairly simple to attempt for the most part.  I have been thinking lately I am over thinking some of the foods I have been looking into eating!    I can't wait to jump into a few of these recipes and soon!  I'm sure I will put my own twist on them and shy or stray from their recipe(s) but it's a great place to start, right?

Friday, March 17, 2017

40 Days of Smoothies BOOK - I WON!

I found out today that I was the winner of Zsu's Book Contest!  The winner was drawn YESTERDAY which was also my BIRTHDAY!  YAY!  Happy Birthday to me!  I was lucky enough to win this book!  40 Days of Green Smoothies by Becky Stiepe!  I can't wait to get it in the mail!

It says KICKSTART YOUR MORNINGS!  That is sooooo what I need!  Check it out...

Kickstart your mornings with this 40 day program designed to develop your green smoothie habit! The ingredients aren't always what you'd expect - discover how avocado can help make a smoothie creamy and how chocolate can turn it into a decadent yet healthy treat. Becky Striepe of Glue & Glitter breaks the 40 days down, week-by-week, with each week offering its own set of tips and shopping lists. Jump in and find out what your mornings have been missing!

Sunshine Week & Snow Storms

Sorry I didn't post twice yesterday like I originally planned!  TODAY I will be posting at least twice so please check back soon!  

This week is Sunshine Week and as a new member of my local League of Women Voters I asked the local board members if they wanted to hold a Sunshine Week event for the first time this year.  I volunteered to head it up and they said YES!  I'm so VERY grateful for this wonderful group of ladies!  The LWV has truly changed my life for the better!  Women aren't the only members of the league - we have men that are members, too!

Anyways...back to Sunshine Week...

Sunshine Week is a national initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. It was established in March 2005 with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.  Sunshine Week occurs each year in mid-March, coinciding with James Madison's birthday and National Freedom of Information Day on the 16th.

During Sunshine Week, hundreds of media organizations, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and other participants engage public discussion on the importance of open government through news and feature articles and opinion columns; special Web pages and blogs; infographics; editorial cartoons; public service advertising; public seminars and forums. The purpose of the week is to highlight the fact that "government functions best when it operates in the open." Unfortunately, in many states legislatures exempt themselves from public-records laws, claiming "legislative immunity." Source: Wiki

What we did for our Sunshine Week Event was visit our court house.  Our Judge spoke with us - as did 2 of our Commissioners.  We then went on a tour of our historic Court House.

Even with the horrible snow storms we had going on this week - we had a completely engaged group of 14.  For it being the first time we've held anything like this AND with the weather I was pleased with the attendance.

February in our snow belt was AWESOME it was like SPRING!  I remember it being 70 degrees towards the end of the month.  March is another story!  It was about 6 degrees this morning when I looked.  And we got about a foot to a foot and a half in some areas.  The wind has been wicked.  There is a lot of ice and black ice on the side of the roads still.

So eventho it was Sunshine Week - we had Snow Storms!  OYE!