Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Exploding Cereal, Rice Cakes and Dinosaur Kale

I'm continuing to focus on simple, easy vegan meals.  Here are some highlights from today's eating adventures.

Breakfast - Or How I Was Traumatized By a Box of Exploding Cereal
I really like cereal, but cereal often does not like me.  Hidden soy can often turn this treat into a sneeze fest.  But, after careful perusal of ingredient labels, I decided to try Nature's Path Flax Plus Multibran Flakes.  This cereal has a lot going for it - it's got 5g of fiber and 4g of protein per serving.  And, since a "serving" is 3/4 of a cup, and 3/4 of a cup would barely feed a squirrel, I figure I'm getting a lot more than that!  The flax in the cereal also is a source of Omega-3.  It's not vitamin fortified, but since I get my vitamins from a variety of plant sources and a vegan friendly supplement, that's not a big deal.

Milk and I also don't get along, but I've enjoyed experimenting with milk substitutes.  Having tried rice milk and almond milk, I thought I'd try coconut milk, specifically So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk.  This product is fortified with a number of vitamins and minerals, Vitamin B12 (50% DV) and Vitamin D (30%). 

So, where does exploding cereal come in?  Well, this morning, when I went to open the cereal, I found the plastic bag a bit challenging to open.  I got a tiny hole in it, so small that basically a flake at a time was coming out.  So, I decided to try and open the bag a little more.  The next thing I knew, cereal was flying everywhere - the counter, the stove, the floor, my hair, my husband's hair and pretty much everywhere but in my bowl.  It was an avalanche of cereal. 

Five minutes of sweeping later, I sat down to enjoy my cereal with coconut milk and blueberries.  I would definitely make sure you add fruit to this cereal or use a vanilla flavored milk substitute, especially if you're used to eating things that are very sweetened.

Snack - Or Rice Cakes Don't Need To Stay in the 80's
I know.  Rice Cakes.  Really?  If you grew up in the 80's, like I did, you probably have not so fond memories of rice cakes, or as some people called them, diet cardboard.  But, recently, when I saw a fellow yogini snacking at them at a yoga workshop, my curiosity was piqued.  I like crunchy, salty things, after all.

The brand I tried was Lundberg's Wild Rice Cakes.  I like Lundberg's rice products, so I felt confident that these would be worth buying,  I was pleasantly surprised with how good these are - nutty and just the right amount of salt.  It was yummy with my giant fuji apple, and the combination made a good pre-yoga snack.

Dinner - When Dinosaur Kale Walked in My Kitchen
I got home later than usual this evening since I was having fun chatting with friends after yoga.  I was tempted to try one of the frozen meals, but I figured I could cook something very fast.  Since I finished the curly kale I bought on Sunday, I decided to make something with dinosaur kale.

Dinosaur kale goes by many names - laccinato kale, Tuscan kale, cavolo nero, etc.  It's flatter and darker than curly kale, and the texture does look scaly, so the dinosaur name is appropriate.

I had half a yellow onion in the fridge, so I minced some of that up, along with a clove of garlic.  I sauteed those in olive oil on high heat for a minute or so.  Meanwhile, I sliced the kale into thin ribbons and then cut the ribbons into smaller pieces.  When I was done cutting the kale, I added in a can of chickpeas and a few scoops of my leftover rice and seasoned the mixture with sea salt and some generous turns of ground black pepper.  Then, I tossed in the kale, gave it a stir and turned off the heat the second it began to wilt, which was pretty fast.  A few shakes of red pepper flakes and it was done.  Fresh, filling and I have leftovers tomorrow.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Keep It Simple: What I Ate Today

So, one of the reasons I haven't been blogging lately is that I've been a bit overwhelmed by the exercise.  For someone with my Type-A tendencies, I was getting wrapped up in making something different and inventive every night, photographing it perfectly and writing something semi-interesting about it.  If cooking and eating was my full-time job, that would work for me.  But between working, commuting, frequent traveling, yoga and other pursuits, sitting down to cook something, take pictures of it and write about it while eating it was wearing me out a bit.

But, does blogging have to be so complicated, or am I over analyzing the situation?  One might ask the same question about going vegan, actually.  On the surface, it might seem overwhelming to go on a vegan diet.  If you start looking at books and blogs, you'll see a range of choices and advice.  Soy or no soy?  (Well, for my soy-allergic self, that was easy).  Raw?  Gluten-free?  Macrobiotic?  GMOs?  BPA?  Organic?  Low-Glycemic?  Alkaline foods?  Meat substitutes?  Nut milk or rice milk or coconut milk?  Nut cheese?  "Clean" foods?  Sprouted bread?  Convenience foods?  Oil is okay!  Wait, oil is not okay?  Local!  Carbon footprint!  Is your head spinning yet?

Whether it's blogging or eating, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the myriad of options you have in front of you.  And I know that, when I get overwhelmed, all I want is macaroni and cheese.

So, what it comes down to is that the "diet" that works for you is one that you can realistically sustain.  And that looks different for everyone.  For me, maybe it's a nicely photographed, colorful, homemade dish one day, and a frozen meal the next.  

So, as I was standing in line at the grocery store, I had an epiphany.  I can't be the only person out there that's trying to make going vegan work with a decently busy schedule.  What does someone like me eat every day?  Would it be helpful for me to share how I make doing the vegan thing workable, even if it doesn't involve a lot of fancy cooking?

So, hence, for the time being, I will bring you what I ate today.  I'm hoping this will show the variety of ways you can make a plant-based diet work for you. 

On Sunday, I used our rice cooker a huge batch of Rice Select Whole Grain Blend, which is wild rice, brown rice and rye berries.  This grain blend will be in my meals throughout the rest of this week.  By varying the veggies and proteins I incorporate with my dinners, I'll give myself the variety I crave, but still save time by having pre-cooked rice on hand.

In the fridge, I had some kale and red onion leftover from Sunday's dinner, along with cremini mushrooms.  At Whole Foods, I picked up some multicolored grape tomatoes.  I chopped everything in small pieces and gave the veg a very quick saute in olive oil.  I personally like it when my cooked veggies still have a little crunch, so I often don't saute for more than 5 minutes or so.  Good seasoning is also a must for me, so I included sea salt, ground black pepper, Italian seasoning blend and red pepper flakes. 

For dessert, I had a big bowl of grapes.  I'm partial to seedless green grapes, and there was a huge display at the store today for $2.99 a pound.  Sold!