Posts tagged vegetarian

back to the grind

Things have been so busy around here, but it’s hard to believe I haven’t had time to write even one short post. Considering that I’ve spent on average 10-12 hours per day working since last Thursday, I guess it’s not such a surprise. And taking pictures has been pushed even farther down my list of priorities. Mostly this is because at the end of a long day I just don’t even think about taking shots of my food – I just want to eat. But also we don’t have a very camera-ready set up where we live now, and I’m hoping that when we move we’ll be able to fix that.

Meantime I don’t think I’ll give an accounting of what all I’ve eaten since last I posted. This weekend I wasn’t very assiduous because finding places to work outside the house that also offer food I considered acceptable on the diet was pretty difficult. And at the end of the day, I started to get a little tired of salad. But I’m back at it now, and I think Monday was a pretty good day.

Day 15 (of 42)

  • Breakfast: skipped
  • Lunch: some trail mix (made it myself, with: mixed nuts, pistachios, coconut shavings, goji berries, dried mango, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, sprouted watermelon seeds, date pieces), and an apple
  • Dinner: portobello mushroom pizzas, 1/2 c pineapple
  • Late Night Snack: peach crisp with topping of pumpkin spice granola (with pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, and coconut instead of oats)

Day 16 (of 42)

  • Breakfast: 1 c. pineapple, an ounce or so of aged cheddar cheese
  • Lunch: salad (chickpeas, kidney beans, peas, corn, carrots, cheese, hard-boiled egg, spring mix, red cabbage, romaine lettuce, ranch dressing)
  • Afternoon Snack: hot chocolate made with whole milk, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar
  • Dinner: mushroom-chard enchiladas
  • Late Night Snack: chocolate chia pudding (coconut milk, cocoa powder, a spoonful of coconut sugar, and chia seeds)


Portobello Pizzas

(serves 2)


  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 c. pizza sauce
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
  • 4 oz. pepperoni


  1. Scrape gills from portobello caps and remove stems. Drizzle each with olive oil, and broil for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Add onions and cook several minutes, or until fragrant and beginning to become translucent. Add garlic and bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, about five minutes or until vegetables have softened.
  3. Divide pizza sauce between portobellos, then divide onion and bell pepper mixture between them, and finally top with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.
  4. Broil until cheese has melted and pepperoni is crisp around the edges.

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our rationale, and mushroom cabbage wraps

2014-08-27 19.32.42

Honestly, any diet that allows me to serve a fruit swimming in a shallow lake of butter and maple syrup or honey is a diet that I can on board with. And I realized that on Tuesday I didn’t really describe WHY we are doing what we’re doing. At the risk of offending anyone, I’ll admit that we aren’t doing what is referred to as the “paleo” or “ancestral” diet, primarily because the science doesn’t convince me, but secondarily because I think the entire thing is pretty illogical. However, the fact is that our diet–like, I think, most Americans’–has revolved around grains and meat. This is natural, considering that grains are a “staple” food–they make up a fairly large percent of, I think, most diets worldwide. But while some people may not have a problem healthily integrating their grains with large amounts of vegetation, we are not those people.

We, like many, can make entire meals out of macaroni and cheese, or bread and a roast chicken. This isn’t because we don’t enjoy vegetables, though. On the contrary, when prepared properly they can be just as enjoyable as grains, and sometimes even more enjoyable on their own. I guess it’s because grains are easy and we’re so habituated to them being a staple, and because preparing grains, meats, and vegetables all deliciously without restoring always to one-pot meals can get exhausting. And finally, we eat far too much refined sugar.

I wanted to make this a change of habits, not just a change of ingredients. If I just swapped out the ingredients, we would no doubt be eating copious amounts of cauliflower “rice,” almond flour, and coconut flour. And let’s be honest, even if those options are healthier, would it really be healthy to have a diet comprised heavily of those items? I doubt it.

As I suggested, there may be a few exceptions to the “no-substitute foods” as time goes on. One is granola, which we are using to top our fruit crisp in the mornings, and which has been made of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pineapple, dates, and coconut flakes. Another is crackers, which I will be making out of lentil and/or chickpea flour. Another is our homemade “Larabars,” since my husband was making a meal out of his Clif bars until now anyway and it’s what works for him. And finally, at some point I will probably dip into the vast pool of grain-free, nut-free bread options, choosing something with as few ingredients as possible (I’m looking at you, sweet potato buns or butternut squash flatbread) to help me conquer those insistent bread snack cravings without messing up what I’m trying to do here…

Which is ultimately to see. Just…to see. If it does anything. If it changes anything.

For day three (of 42):
Breakfast: cup of garlic soup with poached veggies and egg; “baked” apple with maple syrup and butter

Lunch: skipped

Snack: a little of my parents’ leftover chinese food (mostly onions, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms); a half-portion of our leftover pumpkin chipotle chili from last night

Dinner: mushroom cabbage wraps


Mushroom Cabbage Wraps

(serves 2, with some leftover mushroom mixture. might perhaps serve 3 or 4 with additional cabbage leaves. if you don’t have any pre-cooked vegetables, mince or process the same amount of raw veggies, and cook with the onion mixture until softened before adding the mushrooms.)


  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t fresh ginger, grated
  • ~20 mushrooms (enough to fill a 10-c food processor bowl)
  • 2 c cooked vegetables (we used carrots, celery, radishes, turnip)
  • 1/4 c teriyaki sauce
  • 2 T chile-garlic sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 2 t lime juice
  • 1 small cabbage, leafed
  • carrot and daikon pickles, if desired
  • fresh green onion, if desired


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook several minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  2. Meanwhile, add mushrooms to food processor and pulse until chopped finely, about 10-15 one-second pulses. You may have a few mushrooms that stay stubbornly whole–if that happens, remove the chopped mushrooms and re-process the whole ones.
  3. Add mushrooms to saute pan. Stir frequently, cooking until the mushrooms have released their liquid and cooked it off, and are beginning to brown and crisp again.
  4. Meanwhile, add cooked vegetables to the food processor and pulse until chopped, about 2-3 one-second pulses. Add to mushrooms and stir until well combined.
  5. Add remaining ingredients (to taste) into the mushroom vegetable mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it has reached the taste and texture you desire. It should be wet enough to hold together on a spoon, almost like sloppy joes.
  6. Serve with cabbage leaves for rolling, as well as the carrot and daikon pickles, green onion, or any other garnishes you desire. In the picture I snapped, you can see my husband has helpfully added chicken to his, which you can certainly do (although I prefer pork).

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the crust goes… crustless

Here at The Crust life has been going through a lot of ups and downs. Jobs found, jobs quit, jobs found again. We’ve moved three times. It’s no wonder my poor little journal here fell by the wayside. And in the meantime our eating habits haven’t exactly been wonderful. Just four or five posts ago I promised to take my diet in a different direction, but life got in the way again. This time the hubs and I are in it together, and we’re trying it on for six weeks.

The Plan:

  • vegetarian 6 days per week
  • grain-free, refined-sugar-free
  • no soy protein replacements
  • no (well, few) “replacement” baked goods using alternative flour
  • Breakfast: fruit crumble with granola topping of coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. OR soup (miso or broth base with vegetables and poached egg)
  • Lunch: nut-free energy bars for hubs, fruit and nut butters for me
  • Dinner: lettuce wraps, stuffed vegetables, chili, stews, roasted veggie bowls, etc.
  • Snacks: cheeses and lentil/chickpea flour crackers, fruits, nuts

Yesterday was our first day. For me:

  • Breakfast: garlic broth with poached vegetables and stirred in egg (like egg drop)
  • Lunch: apple with peanut butter
  • Dinner: roasted broccoli and sweet potato bowl with beet greens and miso dressing
  • Late Night Snack: pineapple; leftover half-poblano stuffed with corn, goat cheese, and chickpeas

And today:

  • Breakfast: skipped – I still fast when I can
  • Lunch: grapes, apple, peanuts
  • Dinner: pumpkin chipotle chili
  • Late Night Snack: roasted pumpkin with maple syrup and tahini

No pictures tonight, I’m afraid, but I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things gradually. To make up for it, double recipes!


Stuffed Poblanos with Grilled Corn, Goat Cheese, and Chickpeas

(serves 4 as a light meal; add a salad or, if you like, some roasted chicken. if you are sensitive to spicy foods, feel free to use bell peppers or even tomatoes or zucchini)


  • 4 poblano or anaheim peppers
  • 2 ears corn
  • 5 oz. goat cheese (herbed or peppercorn work nicely here)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 c. creme fraiche or yogurt
  • 1/2 red onion, minced


  1. Grill corn directly over the heat, turning every few minutes, until well browned–even slightly charred. Let cool and shuck into the bowl of a food processor. Add goat cheese and chickpeas, and pulse several times until it resembles a chunky paste.
  2. Stir creme fraiche and red onion into goat cheese mixture.
  3. Halve peppers and remove seeds. Fill pepper halves with goat cheese mixture.
  4. Grill 10-20 minutes, or until peppers have softened and charred slightly.


Pumpkin Chipotle Chili

(serves 4; in order to make this meal quicker, I “cheated” a little and added a can of refried beans–or in my case a package of delicious seasoned red beans–in order to get a thicker texture and richer taste without an hour of simmering)


  • 1 small sugar pumpkin
  • olive oil
  • ancho chile powder
  • smoked paprika
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small bell peppers, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • chili powder
  • 1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 green onions, diced
  • 2 avocados, diced


  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Peel the pumpkin, cut in half, and remove the seeds and pulp. Set aside half of the pumpkin for another use (I roasted them along with the seeds to eat later). Dice the other half of the pumpkin. Separate the seeds from the pulp, toss with a little olive oil, sprinkle with ancho chile powder and smoked paprika, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake about ten minutes, watching to see that they don’t burn.
  2. Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin and cook, tossing often, until lightly browned on all sides. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook a few minutes, until softened, and then sprinkle with chili powder to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a frying pan over high heat. When hot, add cherry tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan often, until blistered and some have popped open.
  4. Add chipotle peppers, chicken broth, refried beans, black beans, and cherry tomatoes to the pot. Stir until well combined. Heat to boiling, then cover and reduce heat. Cook for about ten minutes, until pumpkin is cooked through.
  5. Divide into four bowls and top with avocado, shredded cheese, green onions, and pumpkin seeds.

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simple tomato sandwich

Sometimes simplicity really is best.  I am a firm believer in meals with only a few ingredients, as long as it’s not a compilation of processed foods masquerading as something more complicated.  High-quality linguine in a sauce of butter, onion, garlic, and fresh-cracked pepper is one example, and this sandwich is another: just one slice of delicious bread, high-quality mayonnaise (in this case, homemade), fresh tomato, salt, and pepper.  Sure, you can pretty this up any number of ways, such as with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a base of fresh basil leaves, or thick, crisp fried bacon.  But the beauty of this sandwich is that you don’t have to.

The only thing that really complicates this sandwich is the homemade mayonnaise, and I will echo legions of food writers in that it is absolutely worth it (though I have made the sandwich before with jarred mayonnaise, and it’s pretty tasty that way, too!).  It’s softer, creamier, and has at once a stronger and more delicate flavor.  I made mine using the whisk attachment on my hand mixer, and a squeeze bottle to slowly drip, then stream, the vegetable oil into the egg yolk for an easy emulsion.  I know this is a process that daunts many home cooks, but I urge that it is totally, completely doable.  Today was the first time I made it, and in about 15-20 minutes, I had a batch all ready to go.

Simple Tomato Sandwich (makes 1 sandwich)


  • 1 medium slice bread – I used my favorite rosemary bread from a local bakery, but any will do, although I’ll say plain white sandwich bread may be a little delicate to hold up to the tomato
  • 3 slices from a small, ripe tomato
  • 2 tbsp. mayonnaise – I used this recipe as written
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Lightly toast your bread slice, and let cool to room temperature, so the mayonnaise won’t melt on the bread.
  2. Spread with the mayonnaise, and top with the tomato slices.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. That’s it!

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quick pickled red cabbage

Another post, another “p,” another no picture.  Oh well.  I didn’t make dinner tonight, so there’s that.

Quick Pickled Red Cabbage (makes about 1 quart)


  • 1 head cabbage
  • several tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • fennel
  • cloves
  • white peppercorns
  • mustard seed


  1. Core and shred cabbage.  Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Rinse cabbage and squeeze excess moisture out.
  3. Bring water, vinegars, and spices to a simmer.
  4. Pack cabbage into glass jars, and pour hot brine over the top.  Let sit out at room temperature for 1-3 days, and then refrigerate.

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peruvian potato salad with pepper black beans

Apparently, there is a fantastic Peruvian restaurant in our hometown, slightly less than a mile from our house.  In a neighborhood with plenty of low- or no-frills taquerias, this sophisticated little spot is more than it seems from the outside.  Sure, it’s not as cheap, but again, in a town that has more than its fair share of Mexican food from various parts of Mexico, there’s astonishingly little food from the rest of Latin America, despite the fact that our immigrants are certainly diverse.

Our gregarious waiter recommended the causa, a popular Peruvian cold potato salad.  Usually, the potato salad is made with vegetable oil, lime juice, and aji amarillo (a spicy local pepper), then spread thinly with mayonnaise and layered with avocado slices and a salad of chilled tuna, chicken, crab, or other protein.  Usually it is accompanied by hard-boiled egg and olives.  In the search for a meatless alternative, I thought some saucy, peppery black beans, though untraditional, would be just the thing.  In lieu of avocado slices, I just used a smear of guacamole to make things simpler.

Peruvian Potato Salad with Pepper Black Beans (4 servings)


For the Potato Salad:

  • 8 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or if you want to get really crazy and alliterative, use purple potatoes!)
  • aji amarillo paste or peppers, to taste (I used 4 minced pickled hot wax peppers, but I also hear that hatch, anaheim, or jalapeno peppers can all be used)
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sliced avocado, or 1/2 c. guacamole

For the Black Beans:

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 can of black beans, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Bring to a boil and cook through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook minced onion, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil over medium heat until softened.  Add spices and saute another minute, until fragrant.  Add the black beans and their juices.  Stir until well combined, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Take off the heat before chilling the potatoes.
  3. When the potatoes are cooked through, run through a ricer or food mill (I used the grater on my food processor).  Add peppers, olive oil, lime juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  4. Line ramekins or miniature loaf pans with plastic wrap.  Press potato mixture into the containers and wrap ends of plastic wrap over the top.  Chill until cold, about 30 minutes or so.
  5. Unmold cold potato salad onto plates.  Top with a spoonful of guacamole and spoon the bean mixture over the top.

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custom lentils

Back to the blogosphere, this time with an exercise in simplicity.  This means, simple recipe, no picture because I never managed to remember to take one, and post titles in lower case (okay, that’s because I’m lazy, but still.)  I made this lentil dish for the first time a few months ago, and I have to say, I was totally bowled over.  Usually, I’m not all that excited by lentils, but what a difference cooking them in onion- and thyme-scented chicken broth makes.  This recipe is pretty wonderful because you can vary the vegetables and the spices/herbs and still end up with something super tasty.

Custom Lentils (makes 2 servings)


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. seasonal vegetables, diced (carrots and root veggies are especially good)
  • 1/2 c. lentils
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • splash white wine
  • 2-4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable to make totally vegetarian)


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes, or until beginning to soften.  Add remaining vegetables and saute five to ten minutes, or until softening and fragrant.
  2. Add thyme and stir into vegetables.  Splash a bit of white wine into the pot and cook until it has mostly evaporated.  Add lentils to the pot and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 30-60 minutes, or until lentils are soft.  Check repeatedly to see if more chicken broth is needed.

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