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Affordable Veganism

First off, my husband has been hard at work making this giant Plex from Yo Gabba Gabba. I wish I could get him to put that much of himself into dishes or laundry, but oh well. A giant robot is the next best thing, right? On to the food…

I’m going to warn you up front that this is a loooooong winded blog but I think you’ll find the info interesting if you stick around to read it all.

I have been working on a feature for this blog titled- you guessed it- affordable veganism. My point is to simply let others know that you do NOT have to spend two hundred dollars a week at your local health food store in order to make this lifestyle choice.

Your first purchase as a vegan will undoubtedly be about four or five cookbooks, like mine was. I have some that I can suggest, but I would also like to suggest others that I do not have, but have researched and my sources tell me they are fabulous. Vegan Planet is awesome and has recipes for stuff like tofu sour cream and little things that you don’t want to have to spend all your money on. Veganomicon is kind of like the bible in that I reference it about 9 times a day and I am always quoting it. It has a few casseroles and one pot dishes that you can switch up a bit to suit your tastes, and they aren’t horribly expensive to make. Eat, Drink and Be Vegan is good, but some of the recipes can get a little pricey or weird. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World is great for sweet treats but you’re going to have to buy things like non-hydrogentated shortening and vegan margarine to make the frostings. The good news is, you only need a quarter cup of each so they will last you a while, but sticker shock may keep you away from them. Don’t let it. Oh, and Smart Balance makes a vegan margarine that is sold at your local chain. Good times!!!

Ah, unfrosted poptarts. The lazy vegan’s best friend for about a month until you get sick of the same three flavors.They are always on sale at my Jewel for like five dollars for three boxes.

My Jewel also carries it’s own line of organic crap so yay me. This soy milk pictured was $2.50 per half gallon. It sounds like a lot when cow’s milk is three bucks for a whole gallon but whatever. It’s cheaper than Silk. Also, this oatmeal (vegan) pictured is two for three dollars right now, so stock up.

I would go on Amazon.com for your cook books. While normally I would suggest giving your money to the authors of these books, we are doing this on a budget, right? And the point is to not exploit, harm, or kill any living being because of the food we eat so we’re not going to worry too much about lining the authors pockets at this point. Although, I guess technically they are living beings as well, but let’s not go there right now. However, if you can afford it, go right ahead. You only make it possible for them to write more wonderful cook books in the future so it is definitely good karma, or feng shui, or whatever.

In the front of most of these books is a “pantry” section where they tell you what you should always keep on hand. Some of the staples include coconut milk, canned pumpkin, etc as well as things you’ll REALLY need like canned tomatoes, beans, pasta, etc. I’m here to tell you scrap the coconut milk and canned pumpkin for now.

One of the cheapest, easiest things I make at least four nights a week is simply this- pasta, veggies, and beans. If tofu was on sale that week, i toss it in there, too. Of course, make sure your pasta is vegan, some of them use eggs. Go to your produce section and buy whatever is on sale this week- zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, escarole, tomatoes, eggplant (although, this can be a little tricky to cook with if you aren’t experienced in cooking), broccoli, carrots, green beans, etc. You can even be super cheap and go to the freezer section and buy frozen. It doesn’t really matter. This also works when certain things are not in season.

Next, go to your canned goods aisle and buy canned, chopped tomatoes. They come in all flavors now including olive oil with oregano, basil, garlic, and/or parsley, so half the work is done for you. Then you scootch down a few feet and pick out cannellini beans or garbanzos or navies and presto. Dinner is done for a couple days. This makes a huge pot of goodies. This picture above is of some spices and herbs that my Jewel carries for a dollar a bottle. They taste just as good as McCormick only without the price that makes you feel like your being violated in some way. Only thing is, it’s back by the dog food. I know, right?? And this giant bottle of pre-chopped garlic was like five bucks when i bought it a few months back. When I’m cooking for other people, I use the real peel and chop stuff, but when it’s just us…there you go. Anthony Bourdain says if you are too cheap and lazy to buy and chop your own garlic then you don’t deserve to eat it, but I disagree. I still love him, though.

Last week at my local Jewel, this hummus was buy one get one free. I bought a box of wheat thins (also on sale AND vegan) and baby carrots and my snack time was taken care of. This seasoned tofu was BOGO, too. The Italian stuff I’m using for tonight’s pasta dish. The Asian stuff went for yesterdays lunch with broccoli and carrots and white rice.

It’s all about looking through your paper and finding what’s on sale and making it work for you. Pre-sliced apples were buy one get one free also. I would never buy those things otherwise.

Each one of the canned goods I have pictured was right around a dollar. I am somewhat health conscious so I make sure my kids and I all get our veggies in, as well as our fruits, and mass amounts of protein in bean form, usually.

I do recommend picking out one or two of the meals from one of your books so that you can keep your family NOT bored with your food. I could eat the pasta stuff all year long with all the different combos of veggies and beans and it wouldn’t bother me. My kids, however, are a little more fickle. They get that from their dad.

This stuff is leek and bean cassolet with biscuits from Veganomicon. Next we have matzo ball soup from Vegan With a Vengeance. Tasty, but a pain in the ass to make. Then we have cholent, also from Veganomicon. My kids loved this stuff!!!

Next week, I’m going to make something a little more pricey. It has sun dried tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and some other stuff. Oh, and seitan, which i made myself last week and ate with my pasta but discovered that having a gluten intolerance means that eating

something made from gluten is a bad idea. Duh. Eating the pasta is bad enough but that only gives me minimal amounts of pain and torture. So, I’m going to use tempeh from now on.

And here’s one last picture of my little peanut. You know, doctors do everything they can in the emergency room to save lives so that they can say just that- “We did everything we could possibly do.” I don’t have much of a chance to make a difference in the world so I’m going to do it in a way so that I can say to my children some day, “I did everything I could possibly do.”

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Lack of Protein? No Way, Jose!

So , it drives me up a wall, but I constantly get people asking me what i do for protein. Are they serious? I get so much protein i think my kidneys are mad at me. Let me just set the record straight real quick.

First of all…beans! Yes, they are the magical fruit that make you go toot but they are also packed with protein. If you take enough Beano, you don’t have to worry about gas. Or bloating. Or that weird meowing noise your stomach does when garbanzos decides to tear it a new one.

Second…pasta! If you look at those new-agey type pastas they all say “excellent source of protein” and upon further digging, i have found out that apparently whatever your age is, you multiply it by two and there you have how much protein you should be taking in per day. If there are any nutritionists out there who’d like to do battle over this stat- bring it. I’m unarmed. That’s just something I pulled from the net. You would totally win.

The box of angel hair I just looked at says 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving. I looked at my cans of beans, too. Garbanzo beans, 6, red kidney beans, 7, cannellini beans, 8 grams, all per 1/2 cup serving.

Let’s not forget my favorite protein alternative- tempeh. This monster has 19 grams of protein in one four ounce serving. Wow. Tofu, while not the best of them, is still holding steady at about 4.5 grams per ounce. Let’s not forget soy milk, please. I ingest tons of it because I freaking love granola (yes, honey free, my darlings) and one cup of it has 7 grams.

And let’s go there please. Soy milk. It was never my favorite back in the day, but this ugly duckling has really sprouted beautiful feathers recently. I don’t know what they’re doing to the stuff, but it tastes so much better these days. And calcium? It has 30% of what i need in that little cup.

I’m not going to go through and list all the things i eat in a day that have protein and calcium so a clan of carnivores can still find something wrong with the vegan philosophy. Either you feel it or you don’t, and I do. So nyah! Bring on the food!!

This was my lunch yesterday and today. I boiled the aforementioned pasta while sauteeing some cherry tomatoes. I pushed down on the tomatoes to get them to squirt out a bit of juice and then tossed in a lot of zucchini and yellow squash. When it was pretty well caramelized, I tossed in the cannellini beans, a handful of dried parsley, a handful of dried oregano, a crapload of chopped garlic, and some crushed red pepper because I like my shit hot. Oh, and of course, kosher salt ad pepper. This was quite delicious and I’m going to pat myself on the back for this one.

I’m not going to pat myself on the back for this one, however. I sucked hard at making this recipe that I know would have been fabulous if I’d had over a couple of Yentas, but I don’t know any. It’s the Matzo Ball Soup from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra. It started out great- I got the mix together and I refrigerated it overnight, as suggested.

I took it out and made my Matzo balls. I was so excited I almost started speaking in tongues, Yiddish being one of them. I had my water boiling and I carefully placed them inside the pot. I put the lid on and left it alone like she says to in the book. I mean, she used all caps to drive home the point, so i figured I’d better do it or I may get some kind of bad Kabbalic Karma sent my way. Then this happened.

It boiled over. So i had to remove the lid. I was looking over my shoulder the whole time, I swear. What a bummer because I’m sure that had something to do with what happened to my balls. Ahem, Matzo balls.

They looked nice in the pot but when my 40 minutes were up and i went to remove them, well, there was a lot of Matzo meal floating about the pot and a good portion of the balls were falling apart. Very sad, really. I was so looking forward to trying this stuff. ThisĀ  is the finished product. I managed to find few good balls and i ladled the broth over them. It was still heavenly, I’m not going to lie, but until I perfect this soup, I’m not serving it at my next Passover Seder.

You know what? I’m going to have some right now. see you tomorrow!

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