let's get crafty
My husband works weekends now, so I have a lot more time to myself. So far I’ve found that I can choose one out of two ways to spend this extra time: (a) Mope around missing him and wishing I had more good friends who lived close by or (b) Engage myself in activites that are productive and/or that I enjoy. The wonderful thing about cooking is that it is both immediately productive, and a lot of fun!
The past couple of Sundays have been my cooking and cleaning days. After busy Saturdays, it’s been nice to have a whole day in which I can clean up from the week before and prepare for the week to come. Now that winter is behind us, I have put my obsession with Crock-Pot cooking on hold for a bit lighter fare. Last week I made a yummy curry carrot dip and tried a Vegan fritatta (made with tofu). Today I busied myself making up a batch of Seitan (SUCH a satisfying form of non-meat protein, and relatively cheap when you DIY) to add to our pasta dish for dinner and the crumbly blueberry scone pictured.
I’ve been checking out cookbooks from the library to get ideas. I finally had to part with the Fix-it and Forget-it Cookbook, one of the biggest treasure troves of Crock-Pot recipes I’ve found yet, after renewing and checking it out multiple times. Currently on my shelf is One-dish Vegan, where I got the seitan recipe; The Runner’s World Cookbook, which gave me the scones and has me excited about savory oats and quinoa for breakfast; Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking (I guess I’m not entirely on hiatus from my love of the Slow-Cooker); and Veganomicon, whose authors are completely hilarious and seem to be on the forefront of turning veganism from mere carrot-crunching to truly rounded, satisfiying meals. I also picked up the Everyday Happy Herbivore, which has a ton of fun smoothie ideas (we tried Oatmeal Cookie!) and interesting ways to use tofu.
In case you couldn’t tell from most of these titles, yes, I am experimenting with plant-based eating. It started as giving up meat and dairy for Lent, and evolved from there once I realized the trove of possibilities that don’t depend on cheese, chicken, and other “staples” I once thought I couldn’t do without. I tend to feel better on that diet and have performed well athletically on it, and of course there’s the whole ethical dimension. I haven’t made the switch completely but am really loving cutting down on my animal protein intake by discovering the beauty and variety of things like:
-Nuts and seeds. We now consistently stock sunflower seeds–what a treat! And we found an amazing, simple recipe for almond/peanut granola bars.
-Beans. We used to primarily eat black beans; once in awhile we’d go out on a limb and buy kidney. Great Northern beans, though, are amazing! And why don’t we buy more chickpeas?! One of my next cooking goals is to soak, cook, and freeze my own beans. It’s cheaper and will expose us to less BPA from canned beans. Plus I can make portions that I’ll probably actually use instead of the half-cans that sit in the fridge until they go bad.
-A wide variety of fruits and veggies. I truly feel that if plant-based eating is to stick, for me or for anyone else, it has to be because I am choosing FOR something, not trying to avoid something. Sometimes when I get in a rut with my lunches, I realize that we have fresh green broccoli, multicolored peppers, maybe some carrots sitting in the fridge, and I center my lunch around that, rather than always feel like veggies need to be on the side. A great resource for learning more about healthily selecting, storing, and preparing fruits and veggies is Eating on the Wild Side (trying to resist a bad pun in telling you that I really devoured this book).
All that being said, I still love eggs and goat cheese. And vegan pizza just isn’t the same.