Monday, September 30, 2013

[vegan mofo day 30] baby avocado & broccoli pesto-style pasta and conclusion

This is a pasta dish I made for Baby the other day - the avocado & broccoli pesto-style pasta! The photo doesn't do it justice but the actual pasta has this beautiful green hue from the avocado. With some sprinkles of salt, this will make a tasty meal for adults too. I think I'll have the adult version for my lunch someday.
Last night's meal was a collection of leftovers. The stuffed eggplant that I took home from the farmhouse dinner, the seared tofu, chickpea salad and corn from the previous night, and some rice. Hubby prepared this dinner so I didn't have to do anything :)

This concludes my veganmofo posts this year! phew. With two posts that covered two days, I've managed to write for every single day of the month! yay. I didn't stick to my theme for the last week (because we had guests), but I hope I was able to show you that one could eat a variety of tasty and satisfying vegan food even on a budget. And I hope you've enjoyed seeing a glimpse of what a vegan mama feeds to her baby. At first I was going to just list what Baby and I had but for almost each meal I made, I had something I wanted to say. I'm actually surprised that I have so much to say about the food I make!

Thank you so much for reading my vegan mofo posts. I'm sorry I couldn't visit your blog. I have, though, a full intention of reading all other vegan mofo posts even after September ends, so I may surprise you by leaving you some comments several months later. hehe.

My blog will go back to regular crafting and Mochi related posts. I hope you'll stick around, especially if you are either a) a crafter, b) a vegan mama or dad, or c) a crazy cat lady (or dude). If not I hope to see you at the next year's vegan mofo! Thank you and have a great week.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

[vegan mofo day 28 & 29] Chinese takeout and seared tofu

Day 28
We had a Chinese takeout
We shared several meals but I had Mapo Tofu over rice and vegetable fried rice (asked to leave out the egg). For some reasons I'm fond of those Chinese takeout boxes. They're so cute :) We don't see this type of Chinese takeout very much in Japan so my parents also enjoyed it. Takeout is great especially with a little one.

Day 29
The omnivores ate some non-vegan main meal so I made seared tofu steak-style. I didn't add any seasonings, just splashed some soy sauce before eating, but it tasted great. The side dishes were chickpea salad, corn on the cob, sauteed asparagus (not shown in the picture) and rice, made by my mother. Baby had the same seared tofu but he hasn't tried any of the ingredients in the side dishes yet, so he had broccoli and carrots instead. I thought the amount of rice was too much but he ate it all! I can't believe how much he eats now. The amount increased a lot even during this month alone. It's fun to be able to see the changes in his diet from the pictures I took and for that also I'm glad I joined vegan mofo this year.

Friday, September 27, 2013

[vegan mofo day 27] the farmhouse

Since my parents kindly agreed to watch Baby, my husband and I went out to have a lovely dinner. I know we're on a budget but we've been doing pretty well so far and I think we deserve some treats ;-)

Husband chose the farmhouse because they were one of the few who offered a vegan option, and it did not disappoint. The staff was friendly and explained to me that their stuffed eggplant was vegan. Ah. The joy of offering something off the menu without changing anything! It's probably not a big deal for big city people in this day and age but the places where I've been in the past few years, this is very rare.

We shared their farmer salad with the non-vegan items on the side so husband could eat them.

Their food tasted really fresh. I'd probably prefer a little bit stronger (saltier) flavor to my taste, but it might have been better this way so we could enjoy the real taste of fresh ingredients. I love eggplants and this eggplant meal was delicious, fun and filling. The atmosphere was great with the dim light (hence not a stellar photo. sorry). It's been a while since I dined in the midst of the city's bustle. I didn't miss it so much but it's nice to experience city's liveliness once in a while. All in all I really had a good time :)

The farmhouse
300 Delaware Street
Kansas City, MO

Thursday, September 26, 2013

[vegan mofo day 25 & 26] we all ate vegan!

ugh. I couldn't post my 25th mofo post on time, so here's my entry running over two days.

day 25
Apparently, omnivores around me enjoy vegan ground beef style crumbles very much. They do notice "differences" when it comes to vegan chick'n, beef strips and other veggie meats but the ground crumbles, they never complain.

So my mother made this tomato sauce based spaghetti with vegan ground beef with lots of vegetables. I'm the only vegan (let alone vegetarian) in my family but we all ate the same vegan spaghetti and enjoyed it a lot. woohoo!

I never expected such a night to come. It may be just one dinner but it seems that just staying vegan does have a positive impact on people around me :)

day 26

I tried this soy meat (100% soy. nothing else. non-GMO) from Japan. It comes in a dried form and when it's soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, it becomes softer and expands a little bit.

The package says you can eat it as it is, but it tastes too much like "soy" to me so I've decided to cook it.
Fried with salt, soy sauce and nutritional yeast, it became pretty tasty :) The texture was just like other vegan chik'n we find on the market in the US, so it made a pretty satisfying meal. But with no additives and isolated protein and other stuff, I might like this one better. I imagine this will make a great vegan schnitzel!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

[vegan mofo day 24] Daikon salad

My mother made this beautiful daikon salad (daikon radish, carrots, cucumbers were dressed in vegenaise, salt and pepper and served over lettuce). So I made daikon "salad" also for Baby - cubed daikon and carrots tossed in olive oil. The rest of the family members had a real thing so I had my veg prawns. I don't think these taste like prawns so much (as I remember) but the texture and that pink color are amazing. Baby had edamame instead.

Monday, September 23, 2013

[vegan mofo day 23] Dining Out

Since my parents are visiting, the last week of my vegan mofo posts will digress from the vegan foods on a budget theme and I guess I'll just journal what I eat this week.

Last night we went to chipotle. I don't think it's necessary to mention that I love this restaurant, when so many vegans are already showing their love. But let me say that it's so nice that I don't have to play a guessing game when eating out. The only thing though is that we don't have sofritas in our region yet! I'd love to try it. When will it go nationwide??

For today's lunch, we went out to an Italian restaurant. We've decided to share our meals so we ordered a couple of non-vegan meals for everybody else but me plus a couple of what I thought were vegan meals. Unfortunately, I misread the menu and the pasta we ordered had cheese in it. Oooops. So I just had the salad that I asked to leave out the cheese from, and the bread. The salad had a few kinds of grilled vegetables and actually was pretty good. Everybody else had a glass of wine but I had to have a non-alcohol drink because I'm still breastfeeding. Too bad :(

I gave Baby some food before we went out, but he looked like he wanted to eat with us. So we shared some bread and the vegetables. He loved them a lot. Now he had a taste of grown up food (as opposed to kinda bland babyfood), I'm not sure if he'll be satisfied with babyfood anymore ;)

What did you do when you misread the menu and what you ordered wasn't actually vegan? Or am I the only one who makes such mistakes? :(

Sunday, September 22, 2013

[vegan mofo day 22] Amy's soup and old-fashioned chocolate pudding pie

I made some dessert (mentioned below) and got too tired to cook so decided to just have this Amy's lentils vegetables soup. Our budget doesn't allow us to buy Amy's very often, but this was on clearance at Target. I got this for $1.12. Great deal. I love that Target sometimes has vegan and/or healthy convenience food on clearance.

I served the soup over rice, adding a little bit of spiciness with hot sauce. It turned out to be a quite satisfying and delicious meal :) The cocoa strawberry muffin finished up our meal nicely.
The dessert I made was this old-fashioned chocolate pudding pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky. My parents are visiting us (all the way from Japan!) to see their oh-so-adorable grandchild, and I wanted to make some treat for them. I can't believe I have to wait for a few more hours to try this. It's sitting in the fridge, challenging me not to eat it.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

[vegan mofo day 21] stir fried vegetables in thick sauce and pickled cucumbers

A kind of a light meal last night. Stir fried veggies (collard greens, napa cabbage and red pepper) in a sauce that was thickened with cornstarch. Hubby got a lot of cucumbers from his co-worker's veggie garden so I pickled a few. They were soaked in sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, crushed chilli peppers and a little bit of syrup.

I still have a lot of cucumbers but run out of ideas for what to do with them. I'm not that much of a fan of cucumbers except for the pickled cucumbers my grandmother used to make. Her pickles were the best. She used to make excellent Umeboshi (pickled ume plum) too. I can't eat any other umeboshi because hers were so good. Sometimes grandma does know the best. Too bad she's too weak to do anything now :(
Baby had sweet potato, zucchini and green bean "salad", and stewed napa over rice. His first napa cabbage, and he liked it :)


Friday, September 20, 2013

[vegan mofo day 20] cocoa strawberry muffins

I made these cocoa strawberry muffins using the cocoa raspberry muffin recipe from Vegan Brunch. I didn't have enough strawberries at hand so decided to add a drop of strawberry jam to each muffin also.

Too delicious for a word.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

[vegan mofo day 19] Collard green rolls with lentils

Collard green rolls. Filling is made by mixing lentils, chopped green beans and red peppers, panko, flax seeds as a binder, water and olive oil. Stewed in tomato sauce. I just used leftover pasta sauce. I thinned it out, drizzled some olive oil and placed two bay leaves to make it more flavorful. 

This really reminded me of the cabbage rolls my mother used to make and I felt good. Although, I put too much flax seeds and the filling ended up being a bit too slimy :( I don't hate the slimy texture but I might try baking the leftovers to see if they will have a more cooked texture.

The collard green rolls were served with roasted potatoes and homemade bread. Trying to mimic the collard green rolls, I made a mixture of tomato sauce, kale and lentils with a dash of olive oil for Baby. He also had mashed potato and bread.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

[vegan mofo day 18] "cheesy sauce" pasta

"Cheesy sauce" pasta with roasted zucchini and lentils salad.
The sauce was made with flour, olive oil, nutritional yeast, soy milk, a little bit of soy sauce, salt and pepper. As soon as he had a mouthful of his pasta, Hubby said "did you make this cheese sauce? Good!" That's a good sign :)

Instead of cheesy sauce, I made a white sauce with thinned out mashed potato for baby's pasta. He also had steamed zucchini and lentils. It's funny he has had and liked pureed zucchini before but he refused to eat this chunky zucchini at first. Same food, different texture, and he didn't look like he recognized it as food lol

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[vegan mofo day 17] potato pancakes, stir fried tofu and green beans

The other day I bought a 5lb bag of potatoes for less than $2. Great deal! So we're having many potato dishes, one of which was the shepherd's pie I made the other night.

And for this meal, I made potato pancakes. I chopped the raw potato and cabbage into tiny pieces in a food processor, mixed in about 1/4C of flour, made it into patties and fry them up. Served with vegenaise and sriracha sauce. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, they were pretty good :) I'd add some seasonings and herbs next time I'll make though. I'm thinking chives, perhaps? Hubby said cilantro will go well. Sounds good!

Baby's potato pancake was made by frying the mashed potato that was shaped into a patty. When it comes to the foods that were on the dirty dozen list, I try to buy organic as much as possible if I'm going to feed them to my son. I'd love it if I could buy organic for us adults too but we cannot afford them at the moment :( Besides, our local grocery stores carry only limited varieties of organic produce, which is way too expensive even for organic fruits and vegetables. Anyways, I didn't want to use the same patties I made for us since our potatoes are not organic. Luckily I had some mashed potato I made using organic potatoes in the freezer.

Other foods on the plates are stir fried tofu and green beans. I dusted tofu with corn starch to make it more crispy. Baby had kale on rice and mashed edamame. Edamame is a bagged frozen one but this is also organic. I'm trying to avoid GMO soy when I can.

How often do you buy organic fruits and vegetables?

Monday, September 16, 2013

[vegan mofo day 16] lazy Sunday dinner - instant curry from Japan

I was too lazy to cook last night so I decided to try this instant curry my mother sent me from Japan. I know this doesn't really fit my theme "cooking vegan on a budget" (except that food gifts are always appreciated when on a budget as long as it's vegan), but thought it'd be fun to introduce some vegan goodies. 
It's keema curry with lentils and soy meat. No animal ingredients or sugar are used. Awesome! It says the spiciness level is medium-hot but I'd have loved it if it had been a bit more spicy. Nonetheless, it was pretty good. I'd love to have it again (yes, mom? hehe).

Since this was a lentil curry, baby had lentils on rice, steamed carrots and some soup. All stocked in the freezer.

Japan is, in my mind, not a country I'd think vegetarian friendly, let alone vegan. At least that was the case when I visited there last time. Japanese meals may be healthier and I do think they eat more varieties of food on average, but most of the traditional meals contain meat or fish. The animal-based broth is used in ramen noodles. The broth in miso soup usually contains fish. Even an innocent looking loaf of bread sometimes has gelatin in it to make it soft or whatever (ugh).

But, fortunately, as far as I can see from stories I read online, vegetarianism has been gaining popularity lately. Vegetarian restaurants are popping up in many cities across Japan. My mother has sent me all kinds of interesting vegan products, like mapo tofu sauce, cold noodles, ramen noodles etc. Even mentaiko (roe of fish) pasta that uses amaranth. They may not use the V word in the package (just saying "without animal ingredients"), but that's ok. I'm happy that I will be able to find restaurants that I can look forward to visiting or won't encounter as many confusing looks as before when I say I don't eat animals. Well, maybe not the latter because a lot of people still don't seem to get that I don't eat animals. never. Not just half the time, or 75% vegetarian. But that'll probably change in the future too, I hope.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

[vegan mofo day 15] French Toast

A stale bread has turned into some delicious treats for a Sunday morning. I made this french toast by soaking slices of bread in the coconut milk (the kind that came in a can) and syrup mixture. Then, I sprinkled toasted coconut flakes with powdered sugar. mmmm.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

[vegan mofo day 14] Lentils Shepherd's Pie and Baby Shepherd's Pie

I love shepherd's pie. I think it's one of the most comforting foods. I don't know if it's the mashed potatoes or the fact that it's baked (I love baked foods), or the combination of moist filling and soft, silky layer, but I just like it. On one Thanksgiving, my MIL made a vegan shepherd's pie as a main dish for me. It was awesome. Who needs turkey for Thanksgiving if there's shepherd's pie (well, I don't want turkey if I had only salad and bread anyways but you know what I mean :) ).

I made the filling by sauteing diced carrots, green beans, corn and lentils. I seasoned them with celery seeds, sage, fennel seeds, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, salt and pepper. The fennel seeds added an interesting kick to the taste and I liked it. Sorry I didn't really measure any of the ingredients, so there's no recipe.

I also made a baby version of shepherd's pie. This turn out to be really cute and tasty :)
I happened to have all the ingredients pureed or diced in the freezer already so I just needed to assemble them. Pretty easy but looks... can I say impressive?

Baby Shepherd's Pie 
1 Tablespoon each of pureed lentils, green beans
1 Tablespoon of steamed carrots, diced into tiny pieces
a tiny amount of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of mashed potato
(I'd add some herbs if I've introduced them already)

1) mix the vegetables and lentils with a small amount of olive oil in a warm pan
2) place the vegetable mixture in an oven safe container
3) place the mashed potato over the vegetable mixture
4) baked in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400F
5) Serve at a room temperature or chilled (not directly from the oven. it'll be too hot for little ones!)
 As always please make sure your baby can tolerate all the ingredients and consult with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Friday, September 13, 2013

[vegan mofo day 13] fried rice, seared tofu and a bit about steamed muffins

Fried rice: with green beans, carrots, corn and diced potatoes, cooked in canola oil, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Of course I drizzled a few drops of sriracha sauce over the fried rice :)

I wanted to make some salad with the seared tofu as a side dish but alas our family members were getting too hungry. I had to serve it as it was lol

Baby had a few pieces of the seared tofu, and steamed carrots, turnip and rice.

Not shown in the picture, but I also made some steamed muffins (or cupcakes) ("mushipan" in Japanese) as baby's snack between meals/our dessert. I didn't add any sugar in baby's mushipan, but the banana inside gave a natural sweetness, making it perfect for a baby snack. Ours was chocolate chips and banana mushipan. yum. They need some tweaking, but I hope to write up a recipe during the vegan mofo.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

[vegan mofo day 12] pasta salad

When it comes to food, my husband likes it hot or warm, with possible exceptions being salad (as a side dish) and sushi. He prefers hot noodle soup to cold noodles (like cold soba noodles), toasted bread to non-toasted one, and hot sake to chilled one, for example. So meals like (vegan) gazpacho or vichyssoise will be out of the question. And pasta salad is not appreciated very much.

I, on the other hand, do like chilled meals, especially in hot summer days. Last night's dinner was just for me and the baby, so I went ahead and made pasta salad, which I wouldn't make if I were cooking for two (and a half). Husband will probably be enjoying non-vegan food outside the home. I enjoy chilled dishes when I don't have to cook for him. It's our unwritten agreement, perhaps? :)

My pasta salad consisted of kale, lettuce, cucumbers and lentils, dressed with olive oil, nutritional yeast, some herbs, vinegar, grated garlic, salt and pepper. Simple but tasty. (ETA: I remember I added a little bit of vegenaise in the salad too)

Baby's pasta "salad" had pureed kale and green beans, dressed with a dash of olive oil. He also had lentil spread, which was his first lentils.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

[vegan mofo day 11] how to: super easy and quick lunch "rice bowl with greens"

This is my super easy, inexpensive lunch I usually whip up. It looks simple but, seasoned with soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and garlic, it actually is pretty flavorful and yummy :) If you already have cooked rice and chopped greens at hand (say, you chopped extra veggies at your dinner prep the previous night), it cooks up really fast too, which is a huge plus for a busy lunchtime (or cooks this in the morning to put it in your lunchbox, maybe?).

Since it's so easy, I don't know if I can even call this a "recipe" but I thought of writing down how-to in case somebody's looking for a quick and nutritious lunch. Hope you'll enjoy it :)

Rice Bowl with Greens How to
canola oil*
A clove of garlic, sliced
Chopped greens of your choice, e.g. broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts are my usual choices
1-2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast
garlic powder
salt and pepper
A bowl of cooked rice (leftovers work perfectly!)
soy sauce

* you can use other types of oil too, but I like the flavor that the combination of canola oil and soy sauce creates. It reminds me of egg rice bowls I used to eat in pre-vegan days. More on that sometime.

1) Heat the oil in the pan at medium-high heat. You might want to use a little bit more oil than you usually use to stir fry vegetables as the extra oil will coat the rice later. Place the slices of garlic and heat until they become fragrant.

2) Put the chopped veggies and turn the heat up. Fry the veggies.
I like crunchier and a bit burned vegetables, but if you like softer stir fried veggies, you might want to keep the heat to medium high.

3) In the meantime, if your rice was sitting in the fridge, warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Don't worry if it's not warmed through. It will be cooked again in the pan later. If you've cooked your rice fresh, skip this process.

4) When the veggies are done, add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.

5) Turn off the heat. Add the rice and mix with the veggies in the pan. The remaining heat will cook the rice without frying.

6) Drizzle the soy sauce to your liking.

7) Dig in!

  • add beans or diced tofu to make it a more substantial meal. Black beans or chickpeas are my favorites for this. Add them after the vegetables
  • add drops of sriracha sauce before you eat to spice it up!
  • add pieces of nori sheets after the heat is turned off (just before adding the soy sauce)
  • add sesame seeds

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

[vegan mofo day 10] kale and tomato pasta soup, black bean, corn & cucumber salad

Soup: kale and pasta in tomato sauce based broth. I made this tomato sauce from scratch. Husband had a chance to get a bunch of tomatoes from his co-worker's veggie garden. They were too mature to eat raw, so I turned them into tomato sauce by just simmering them with a bit of olive oil. Fresh tomato sauce tastes delicious. Since the sauce itself didn't have salt or herbs, Baby had the same sauce over his pasta, with pureed kale.

Salad: black bean, corn and diced cucumber, dressed with cumin, paprika, chilli powder, apple cider vinegar, canola oil and salt & pepper. I'd have added a splash of lime and chopped cilantro if I had them but it was still good. Instead of the salad, baby had black bean spread.

We also had the homemade bread. Baby looked still hungry. So we shared my bread. He can't get enough of my bread. As a baking enthusiast, it makes me really happy. I'm thinking about what to bake for him next.

Monday, September 9, 2013

[vegan mofo day 9] spicy kale soup, steamed bun and cucumber salad

Due to husband's tooth emergency, I had to whip up something soft and small. I figured soup with chopped up vegetables would do so made this spicy soup with kale, cabbage and edamame. Kale and cabbage become flavorful after simmering for a while, which makes a great soup.

This steamed bun was something I found at an Asian grocery store. It says a vegetarian bun but looks like vegan too, including vegetables and soy meat. 
Pork buns ("Nikuman") was something I used to enjoy in a chilly winter day ages ago, picking one up at a convenience store on the way home from school or after a girls' night out, not because of what was inside (I actually didn't like the pork inside very much) but because of its softness, squishy texture, and warmth. So I'm happy to find a vegan version of this. I found that the taste of this bun was a bit bland, though, so made a soy sauce and sriracha dipping sauce.

There's one with adzuki bean paste too, which I really like. Makes a great snack or a dessert.

Other things on the plate was pickled cucumber salad and grits. Baby had daikon soup that was stored in the freezer over rice, mashed edamame and steamed carrots.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

[vegan mofo day 8] homemade no-knead bread and Mochi's Sunday

After a successful introduction of wheat into baby's diet in the form of pasta, the next logical step would be to introduce bread. I, however, am a bit reluctant to give store-bought bread at this stage because of all the ingredients and additives that I often don't even know how to pronounce. So I decided to bake one.

I may not be great at cooking but I think I can say that I'm a pretty decent baker. Or at least that's what my husband told me ;-) But something weird happened during pregnancy (as in many aspects of life in those 9 months), and I couldn't stand the smell of baked goods. After the delivery, I was too exhausted to tackle baking projects, barely having energy even to cook everyday meals. So I'd been away from the oven for quite some time. Well, I guess it's time to get back to baking then!

The above is a no-knead bread my MIL taught me how to bake, who in turn was taught by her friend. So I cannot post its recipe, but it's really easy to make and delicious. I used to bake this every week. I usually sprinkle sesame seeds, poppy seeds or oatmeal on top of the bread but unfortunately I didn't have any of those at hand this time.

With simple ingredients like flour, water, salt, yeast, and flax seeds, homemade bread is more natural, tasty and inexpensive (unless you can find a 99c loaf of bread that tastes ok like I sometimes find at a local grocery store. I don't think I can beat that price by making at home). And you know for sure that it's vegan. No nasty egg or milk or gelatin (or high fructus corn syrup if you're avoiding those).

There's also something about the process of baking. I find it relaxing and rewarding.

And the baby loved it! What's more rewarding than your own child devouring the bread you baked for him?

Well, maybe looking at this cute face can be pretty rewarding too :)
Happy Sunday! 

[vegan mofo day 7] leftover night - roasted vegetable pasta

I don't know what happened, but the post I wrote and published disappeared :( ugh. Just to let you know that I had roasted vegetable pasta using the roasted vegetables on Thursday and the arrabiatta sauce on Wednesday.

Baby had ratatouille (I made a while ago and was stocked the freezer) on pasta, steamed carrots and apple sauce.