Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meatless Salad

Believe it or not, this is the first salad I've made as a part of my Meatless Month!
I was a vegetarian over a decade (*sigh*) ago when I was in my last years of high school and into University. I ate so much salad that when I went back to my carnivore ways, I declared that I had eaten enough salad for a lifetime. And I still stick by that declaration! Sure, I indulge and have a salad every once in a while but they are full-on, jam packed salads that would make a foodie proud. I was just so sick of your plain lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad that seem to appear in every restaurant and dorm cafeteria buffet.

This salad contains no lettuce. Well...actually it sits on a bed of lettuce, but the actual heart of the salad is a mixture of veggies that include:
  • chickpeas
  • avocado
  • pepper
  • tomato
  • cucumber
The dressing was the juice of one lemon and a few generous drizzles of olive oil finished with salt and pepper. It's that simple and very delicious! I also bought a package of imitation crab (actually pollock, another kind of fish) for some additional protein.

What I love about making salads is that it's very much free form. You can't have "too much" of a certain vegetables. Love avocado? Go crazy! Love tomatoes? Knock yourself out! There's no...imbalance of ingredients. Sure, you may want to adjust your dressing (if needed) a bit but generally you decide how the rules go as you go along.

Nom nom nom

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meatless Eating Out

As much as I eat at home, I do eat out a lot. I think I've definitely exceeded my 'seafood twice a week' rule, it just seems impossible to get a decent meatless meal in a restaurant. I'm finding that doing a menu scan of prospective menus certainly plays a big part in my venue choices. Do they have a decent selection of meat-free choices? Do they have enough vegetarian dishes/sides to combine to make a meal? A lot of the time, I do not want a plate of pasta with mushrooms and tomatoes dotting the top - can I have something more substantial? Evidently not.
I went to a restaurant recently where I opted for the pound of mussels because I simply was not going to pay $20 for penne with mushrooms. Or eat a 'dinner' of edamame and a side Caesar.
I made the poor (but still fun) decision of visiting a smokehouse with a couple of friends to check out their offerings. The smell of smoked meat hit me like a ton of bricks as soon as I stepped out of my car. How was I going to survive this lunch? Would they have anything remotely acceptable for me to eat? Luckily the smokehouse is a shared commissary with other vendors, so at least I knew I would be able to eat desserts.
The charcuterie board made my heart sing with happiness yet my stomach cry with sorrow. I wouldn't be able to sample any of these tantalizing goods, and the extensive selection of sausage and meat rolls did nothing to allay my fears. I scanned the deli selections and noticed that they had two sad salads available, certainly not filling enough for lunch fare. I had to opt with seafood again and go with the halibut hand pie, which was delicious. I was disappointed there was no vegetable-filled pie or even a cheese-filled alternative. As a meat-eater I was thrilled at the selections, but as a temporary vegetarian I was disappointed.

I lamented to my lunchmates that I was having a difficult time finding a "substantial vegetarian meal out" and one of them sagely suggested that I go for ethnic. I had been going out for Japanese frequently but I realized that I had ignored a whole other world of vegetarian options. Paneer, anyone? Eggplant and chickpea stew? FALAFEL??!!!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meatless Breakfast

Breakfast has to be one of my favourite meals (along with lunch and dinner, hehe) - I could easily eat 'breakfast foods' all day, and I have! Sometimes I will genuinely feel like oatmeal for dinner, or eggs for lunch. It's also a 'meal type' that is fairly generous to vegetarians, and even more so if you are eating eggs like me.

I was having a craving for pancakes, so I asked my boyfriend to make me breakfast. A full breakfast!

I actually made the pancake batter (thanks Joy of Cooking!) and added walnuts in for an extra crunch. He cooked them while I made us coffee. He wanted other breakfast goods as well so he prepared hashbrowns and eggs (and maple bacon for him) as well. I added the pineapple as a tropical garnish!

Certainly a good way to start the day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meatless Recovery Meal

One of the things I continue to struggle with is trying to replenish and recover my body after a tough workout at the gym. Apparently it's suggested that you intake a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein mix, but it's also proportionate to how much you weigh and how hard you work, so it's a tricky thing to calculate. I've always had a hard time trying to take in protein so going meatless for a month was a concern for me. One option for me was to drink protein shakes but buying a giant tub of powder wasn't that appealing to me.

So what's a vegetarian to do?

What about a spicy tofu and avocado salad and a tropical fruit platter?

Sounds awesome.

Pink grapefruit, pineapple, and mango

Spicy tofu and avocado salad = mix up a dressing of soy, sesame oil, and chili sauce. I wanted to add some natural peanut butter but I didn't have the foresight to warm it up to loosen up the texture.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meatless Mexican

One of my favourite cuisines has to be Mexican food. Let's be honest, I try to be authentic but I use cheddar cheese which immediately renders it "Tex Mex". I make these breakfast or lunch burritos that I freeze and keep in neat foil packages, ready for it's 3.5 minute ride in my microwave. I can't tell you how many times a frozen burrito has saved me - during busy times at work, I would grab a couple (a breakfast and a lunch version) for meals on the go. They're hearty, flavourful, and nutritious.

This was probably the first thing I was thinking of when creating a vegetarian version. Usually the burrito would consist of: tomato-based rice pilaf, spiced meat, black beans, cheese, salsa. A breakfast version would be: steamed potatoes, scrambled eggs, beans, salsa, and cheese. It would be easy enough to omit the meat and just have a rice and beans burrito but I wanted to create a kind of meat substitute where I could still enjoy the substantial texture of a 'mock meat'.

One of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver is La Taqueria, who do authentic tacos using locally sourced ingredients. A staple on my colourful plastic plate is their roasted chili and creamed corn taco - an amazing balance of sweet, spicy and creamy goodness. I decided to do a twist on this and make a creamed corn filling.

As the rice was cooking away (it was brown rice, so it took a looooong time) I made the corn filling:

I blackened a jalapeno and sauteed it in some butter, then added about two cups of corn. I cooked that for a few minutes then added about 3/4 cup of milk to reduce and thicken. I didn't use cream (didn't have any) and the mixture didn't thicken quite as well as I had hoped, so I added about 1/2 tsp of cornstarch. It did come together nicely but it still lacked...something. And that something? Cheese! Glorious cheese!

Oh hellz yeah. 
Next up? A taco-spiced potato hash! A friend of mine warned me that a potato hash would take a long time to cook. And it did. Probably about 30 minutes? Three moderate sized potatoes, cubed, sauteing themselves in oil for about half an hour. But it turned out way better than expected. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside! I kept the heat on medium-medium high and turned them every few minutes. I sprinkled about 1/4 package of taco seasoning to coat and toss in the last few minutes.

Awesome colour on these taters!
The rice was still not done. So it looked like I would have a rice-less plate tonight - which I didn't mind as everything else was awesome. I opened up a can of black beans, washed, drained and strained and tossed it into a small saucepan with about 1/3 cup of water.I let it cook for a bit and mashed the heck out of it. Usually for salads I keep the beans whole, but mashed black beans in a burrito 'holds' a little bit better and acts as a glue for the rice, haha.

My finished plate:
(with a scoop of salsa and a sprinkle of cheese)

Meatless Month has gotten off to a good start!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meatless April

At the beginning of the year, I wanted to try a month of meat-free eating.

At a time where there would be lots of fresh vegetables, but before the BBQ season started.

April, it was decided, would be the month.

So here I am, blogging about my meatless month!


  • Eggs allowed
  • Dairy allowed
  • Fish allowed twice a week (if eating out and vegetarian options are limited)
  • "Picking off" allowed (ie. eating pizza if I've picked off the meat, I'm not going to be all, "but the chicken was ON the pizza" about it)
  • Broths, bases and fats allowed but in moderation
April 1st was a write-off as I had a wedding to attend and if there was meat, I was going to eat it! And eat it I did!
Unfortunately today was the "wedding recovery day" so I had a frozen macaroni & cheese and going for sushi tonight. Tomorrow I'll share my shopping list and some menu ideas.