Sunday, June 12, 2011

How To Eat Like a Vegan (and love it.)

Things I never, ever ate before going vegan:

Swiss Chard

Things I love with all my heart in the present: 

All of the above. Edit: Ok, if I'm completely honest I don't love turnips :) I kinda like them.

Side note on beets: My godmother forced me to eat them when I was 6 or 7. She really, really regretted it. She'd be thrilled to know how much I love them now. But certainly they were canned, or maybe I would have liked them (unlikely.) All I remember is the horrified look on her face when said beets didn't stay long in my veggie hating belly. Dear Marsha, I love beets now. Wheeeee!

In other news, I realize that some of this meal looks Autumn-ish. Strangely, after it was 100 degrees last week, I woke up to a Fall like breeze here in Kansas City. This is probably the last time I'll be able to roast anything. Our tiny house gets super hot when I use the oven in the summer. I thought I'd take advantage of the weather and cook up some of my last finds at the market. I love that a plate of veggies is completely satisfying and filling. I often hear from others who find out about me and the whole vegan thing that they feel that if they gave up meat they wouldn't be "satisfied." I'm finding myself more and more leaving my leftovers to my own personal garbage disposal (i.e. Nate) because a plate of veggies is SO filling. It took me a few months before I didn't miss meat, but I don't miss it at all anymore (and I certainly don't miss the drawbacks of eating meat.) I've learned that when you push away from the table that if you are leaving with regret, you probably didn't choose what you put on your plate wisely. I love seeing all that color on my plate and realizing I did my body good and not harm.

Today, I grabbed almost everything I had in the fridge to make all this. I love Sunday afternoons. We go to the best church on the planet (that also gets out at 11:15 or so which gives me plenty of time to prepare a lazy Sunday meal.) Roasting veggies is so simple. I loved having beets to throw in the mix this time. I added less olive oil than usual. Anyway, this is how I made the above:

Roasted Root Veggies

4 Medium Carrots, peeled and cut in half (Ohhh....I just got a new veggie peeler that actually works. Squeeel!)
6 Small Potatoes, quartered
8 Small Beets, peeled and cut in half
5 Turnips, peeled quartered
4 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1/4 t. Sea Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 t. Basil
1 t. Thyme
4 t. Olive Oil (Starting to realize how wayyy too much olive oil I used on stuff.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour oil and spices over veggies in a 9 X 13 pan. Toss it all together with your hands. Roast for 40 minutes. Perfection.

Super Easy Vegan Braised Greens

1 Bunch of Swiss Chard, cut into strips. I save the stems and cut them up too :)
5 or 6 large Collard Leaves, cut into strips
1 Red Onion, cut into half moons
3 T. Water
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Tamari

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add chard stems and saute a few minutes. Add greens and toss with the onions and oil. Add the water, balsamic and tamari. Cover and cook about 5 or 6 minutes until done to your liking. I like pulling them out when they're still green. Don't overcook your veggies like Julia Child (God love her.) They're so much better for you if you don't. The baby portobellos were just sauteed in a little Earth balance, salt and pepper. Voila :)

Nate's Two Cents: I give my parents credit for the fact that I'll try anything.  But I give Tara credit for routinely making things that test my open-mindedness; fortunately, she makes everything so well that I don't really worry I'll have to pretend to like something horrible.  So, how to describe the personality of these roasted vegetables she made today? Something like a good spy novel, maybe: Snappy, mildly textured, satisfying, and capable of provoking questions long after the last bite. I know I like roasted potatoes, and I know I love carrots and beets. I think I like turnips.  But what I really love is feeling some connection to my European ancestors who huddled in cold houses during the dead of winter in the Middle Ages and ate every last vegetable they had stored up.   That last statements sounded really weird.  Sorry.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Polenta and Greens

Lately my favorite grain of choice is polenta. It's cheap, easy to make, and super tasty in all its forms. I still have a variety of greens in the fridge leftover from my trip to the market last week to use. There's a fantastic restaurant in Kansas City called The Farmhouse. They probably make the best polenta ever known to man. While my guess is that it isn't completely vegan, it is as one of my favorite bloggers would call, "almost vegan." Most of the ingredients at said restaurant are local. The seared polenta cake is to die for, but even more so are the braised mushrooms, greens and carrots. While the polenta is delicious, the greens are what hit the spot for me. The are perfectly braised and caramelized to perfection. I have no idea what they do to make them taste that good, but there is an obvious balsamic reduction element that helps a lot. Tonight I steamed these (turnip, collard and beet) greens, and sauteed the onions and peppers on the side to brown them up a tad. I added the steamed greens to the pepper pan, and added a little balsamic. Pretty delicious if I do say so myself. I love polenta when it's fried in a decent amount of olive oil, but this girl wants to be cute for summer, so I sprayed the pan with olive oil spray to crisp up the polenta. Simple, filling and yummy meal full of nutrition.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lima Beans - Just Can't Ever Get Enough

I realize I have written about Alicia's Summertime Succotash before. The last time I cheated and used butter beans. I'm pretty sure my body is mad at me for not eating lima beans my whole life. I love them so much! I think they nearly top the favorite bean list for me personally. Last year I scored some fresh lima beans at the market. The same vendor said they wouldn't be growing them again this year as they couldn't move them. Travesty! Fresh limas are astonishingly good. These, albeit frozen, are still very good. Apparently I'm one of the few who does actually like lima beans. Poor me. Anyway, I love this recipe. It's so easy to throw together. I had a few bell peppers I used instead of tomatoes this time. The possibilities are endless! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Farmer's Market Bounty - Raw Wrap

I went to the Briarcliff Farmer's Market yesterday. So exciting :) I picked up these big, beautiful collard leaves, glowing red beets, asparagus, radishes, a couple of expensive tomatoes, and yellow cauliflower all for 11 bucks. FUD, the little kc vegan place I love, makes a beautiful raw wrap kinda like this. The owner says eating something like this at least once a week is really great for the system. How could you not feel great after eating every color of the rainbow? I tore off the radish and beet tops and topped it with an avocado. The sauces at FUD are far more amazing than the simple balsamic vinaigrette (is olive oil considered raw?) She also has a few more exotic ingredients, like say, goji berries instead of my humble dried cherries. Anyway, it was delish. I plan to do this far more often during the summer. Did I mention how much I love beets. A-mazing.