once a week vegan – week 2

Missed week 1?? Check it out here. Find out how the once a week vegan challenge works here.

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So it’s week 2 and I am going ethnic! I have three new meals that are – wait for it – super easy. They’re also pretty tasty and can be mighty spicy if you wish them to be (let’s just say, we’ve turned the heat up a notch, and I’m not talking about the thermostat…this time).

These ones are particularly great because they can be lunch or dinner options – we’ve used them all for both :).

And if the husband says, “I really loved that,” then I know it’s good and worth sharing.

I think I’m ready to let you in on the ethnicity options…here we go!

Recipe #1: Pasta and Veggies in Peanut Sauce


Don’t think you’ll like this? Jump to recipe #2!

Serves: approx. 3

Lightly adapted from here (mine makes a much more enjoyable sauce – in my opinion!)

Ingredients (for the pasta):

  • 1/2 box whole-wheat pasta, any type (I used spaghetti)
  • 1 bunch of broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • chopped kale (I used dinosaur)
  • 2 carrots, chopped + any other veggies you wish to use
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 nub of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce
  • Sesame seeds, optional topping once complete

Ingredients (for the sauce):

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 + 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp tamari/soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp molasses –> great source of iron!
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 – 2 (heaping) tbsp of Sriracha


Directions:

For the sauce:

In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, add the first 1/4 cup of water and peanut butter. Once combined, add remaining ingredients, leaving water until the end and adding as much or as little for desired thickness.

For pasta and veggies:

  1. In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta according to directions. Once complete, drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, once heated add canola oil and then broccoli. Let broccoli cook for a few minutes before adding remaining ingredients (ginger, garlic, fresh veggies and tamari/soy sauce). Cook for as a few minutes if you wish to keep veggies crunchy.
  3. Add the completed sauce to the frying pan, along with the noodles and toss.
  4. Once everything is tossed together and coated, add (optional) sesame seeds and serve.

We literally just tried this one out today and it was so flavourful and delicious. I personally liked the adjustments I made to the original sauce, as the original one just lacked in flavour. But, if you’d like to follow the original recipe, totally go for it!

If you are looking for that super easy dinner meal, this would be it! Very little prep time and easy to make with whatever is in your fridge!

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Recipe #2: Curried Chickpeas (Channa)


If you’re not a curry lover, jump to recipe #3.

Recipe found here.

Serves: 4.

Ingredients:

  • A few tbsp of canola oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced –> no vampires tonight!
  • 1/2 chili pepper, seeded and diced (or leave the seeds in like me ;))
  • Big section of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 3 cups water (approx.)
  • whole-wheat tortillas (I used Ezekiel, but they rip fairly easy)
  • Fresh spinach to use in wrap

Directions:

  1. In a deep frying pan (one that can be covered with a lid), heat oil over medium heat, add onions and cook until soft. Next, add in the chili pepper, ginger, garlic and cook for another few minutes. Next, add the spices – you will end up with a paste.
  2. Add the chickpeas and sweet potato, plus enough water to cover everything (about 3 cups), and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 – 50 minutes – stirring occasionally.
  3. Liquid should start evaporating and is done once it thickens.
  4. Warm a tortilla, place spinach in wrap and top with a scoop of chickpea mixture, and wrap.

If I could remember what the name of the pepper was that I used in this recipe and you loved spice, then perhaps I’d be a little more useful – but holy, was it hot! Thank goodness for the wrap and spinach to calm it down a bit, but even then, not that much!

On the other hand, if you do not like spice or like minimal, then control the amount of spice by just adding red pepper chili flakes at the end, more custom to your spice tolerance.

I really enjoyed this recipe, and actually heated up leftovers the next day to eat over salad, which turned out quite good, too!! Nice combo of flavours and also a nice ethnic change!

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Recipe #3: Acorn Squash Soup

Where would I be without one soup?! Especially my own soup recipe!!


It’s one of those good meals you’re looking for that’s quick and easy, too. Minimal prep and even minimal to do while it cooks away.

Serves: up to 4.

Ingredients: (nice thing is there’s only 7)

  • 1 small organic acorn squash (about the size of a small melon), peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the squash in half, scrape out seeds and do your best to peel that skin off (it has deeper grooves so requires more work, and if you can’t get all the skin, it will be a-okay).
  2. In a medium-large pot over medium heat, add a splash of olive or canola oil, add the garlic and onion – saute for 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the cubed squash to the pot, along with the liquids and spices (hold the salt and pepper until it’s time to serve).
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes.
  5. Once the squash is tender (test it with a fork pierce!), remove from heat and either leave the soup chunky or use immersion blender to puree.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.

It really is that simple and – trust me – totally worth it. I don’t know if it made a difference using an organic squash, but the flavour in this soup was spot on.


And there you have it – another week complete. If none of these recipes appeal to you, and you missed out on week one, check out them out here!

Thanks to those supporting this challenge!! I bet there are plenty of once a week vegan’s out there 😉

See you next Saturday!

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7-ingredient acorn squash soup

I don’t know about you, when it starts to look like this outside…


I go into permanent shiver mode, put on wooly socks and a sweater and crank the heat (sorry husband).

Although, I’m well aware that living in Canada means that it should have started snowing in August (I kid, kind of), I’m glad it decided to truly hold off for as long as it could (we’ve practically had very little snowfall, so far).

I promise I will be prepared for the time when that big snowfall comes because snow never hurt anyone – especially if I double up on the socks.

To be prepared, when my toes aren’t in wool sock (or even when they are), I like a big bowl of soup to warm me up on these frigid days.

So, to continue keeping these toes warm, I came up with an acorn squash soup that has only seven ingredients, that’s sure to please your taste buds and your tummy.

The husband might even get lucky and I’ll turn the thermostat down a degree.

7-Ingredient Acorn Squash Soup


Serves: 3 – 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 – 40 minutes

7 Ingredients: (start counting them – minus S&P because it’s more for taste!)

  • 1 small organic acorn squash (about the size of a small melon), peeled, deseeded and cubed
  • 1/2 yellow/sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Start but cutting squash in half and scrape the seeds out. Then begin to peel it (I understand this type of squash has deeper ridges, but just get in there and get as much as you can – a little peel never hurt anyone, either ;)).
  2. In a medium to large pot over medium heat, add a splash of oil (I used canola), add the garlic and onion, and saute for 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the cubed squash to the pot, along with the liquids and spices (hold the salt and pepper until the end of cooking time).
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes.
  5. Once the squash is tender, remove from heat and either leave soup chunky or use an immersion blender to puree it.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.


The simplest soup I’ve ever made (in terms of prep and ingredient list) and the most blown away I’ve been at how something so simple can turn out so good!

If you don’t find me enjoying this soup, then the next best place is to check the sock drawer – I’m sure I could find a way to make myself fit.

Warning: After eating this soup, it might make you reconsidering going to buy those wooly socks – trust me, you’ll still need them…unless you decided to triple or even quadruple the recipe.

Now there’s an idea…

 


once a week vegan – week 1

Unfamiliar with what this challenge is all about?! Find out more here or here!

Ok, so here’s the deal: I’ve left three recipes below, where you can either choose one to prepare this week (or all three ;)) or if none appeal to you, then I encourage you to find one that speaks to you! [If you’re seeking your own recipe to try, I’ve left some good resources to make it easier!]

If you’re choosing to prepare one of the recipes I’ve left below, I left three super easy ones, where you most likely have 75% of the ingredients anyways (veggies, potatoes, garlic, oils).

One thing: don’t discount a recipe because it has something in it that you don’t particularly like. I suggest you make a swap for something more enjoyable to eat (vegan-friendly, of course)!

And for those unsure about making good/healthy swaps (or even what to swap), you could always email me. In the near future, I plan to create a new tab under the once a week vegan page which goes into more details about the types of vegan foods we’ll be working with and what alternatives are available (suitable to taste!).

One more thing: I’ve included one noodle dish and 2 soups – if you feel like soup is not a substantial meal to prepare for dinner, then try it for lunch or pair it with something else (say, a vegan recipe you found?!) to help make it more filling.

Your vegan protein swap-in’s this week are:

  • extra-firm tofu (organic)
  • green and/or yellow split peas
  • red lentils

Are you ready?

Like, really ready?

Start choosing your meal!

Recipe #1: Pan-Fried Tofu, Veggies and Rice Noodles
Original recipe from here.

This recipe doesn’t appeal to you? Jump to recipe #2!!

Note: If you’re in a hurry to make a meal, this one needs 30 minutes for tofu to marinate, so prepare in advanced (ie: place tofu in marinate before work and let it absorb the flavour all day long!)



Serves: 2.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu (buy organic – for one organic package, I pay $2.29, and that feeds 2 people…not expensive)
  • 1 head of kale (I buy organic – $2.29)
  • Any other veggies you like you – I normally add the following chopped ones, as well: 1/2 an onion, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, 1 small bok choy, 1 container of baby portabello mushrooms
  • 1 package of rice noodles (so many varieties, so pick one and try it – last one I used was black rice noodles!)

Tofu Marinade

(ie: this is what you’re going to put your tofu in and let it absorb the flavour for about 30 minutes before actually cooking)

Suggestion: Prepare this and the dipping sauce at the same time as they both have pretty similar ingredients!

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari (I use tamari – $1.00 off coupon on this website for San-J brand)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of oil (I use canola, but any oil should work)
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (found in ethnic section of grocery store usually – around $3)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Sriracha or Hot Chili Sauce (a huge bottle lasts a long time and adds some nice heat, so if you like a little spice add more than 1/4 tsp!)

Dipping Sauce

(for the tofu once meal is prepared, or if you’re like me, you’ll just pour it on your whole plate!)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp Sriracha (or more, like I do!)

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How to press tofu (the easy way):
If you’re new to tofu, I’m going to make this super easy for you to press it – I never take more than 2 minutes pressing my tofu and it always turns out amazing.

Tofu is like a sponge and it comes vacuumed in water. So when you first open the package, try and squeeze as much of the water out as you can (without breaking it), but it’s firm so give it a little press!

NEXT, take a few good sheets of paper towel (or a regular towel if you’re fine with getting one dirty) and wrap the tofu in it. Now that the tofu is wrapped, press down on it on a flat surface – give it a few good presses! The towel/paper towel should start to get damp as it absorbs the water that was in the tofu.

Voila, tofu is now pressed!
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Now cut up your veggies!

Directions:

  1. Prepare the tofu marinade in a large bowl (so that when tofu pieces is placed in it, there’s room for them all to get covered by the marinade). Whisk it all together.
  2. In small bowl, prepare the dipping sauce (ie: pouring sauce in my case) – same thing, whisk it together.
  3. Cut the tofu into triangles/cubes/circles/whatever! (I’ll normally do 8 large ones, or 16 small ones) and place in marinade. Put into the fridge and make sure to flip tofu to coat the other side about 10-15 minutes later. OR, if tofu was marinating on one side all day, same thing, give it a flip and let other side absorb for 10-15 minutes. Give tofu a good 30 minutes in marinade.
  4. Grab a medium-sized pot (for boiling rice noodles) and a large frying pan (for cooking tofu). Place both on stove.
  5. Boil water for noodles, check label to see how long they should cook for and cook them! Once done cooking, strain and run cold water over them to stop further cooking. Set aside until we’re reading to reheat them!
  6. Meanwhile, in frying pan, over medium to medium-high heat, add a little oil (canola is what I use), then place tofu pieces in it, let cook for 5-10 minutes per side. Along with the oil I add the tofu marinade to frying pan (add half the marinade to frying pan when tofu first put in, then once I flip the tofu, I add the other half of the marinade) – this makes them nice and crispy.
  7. Once tofu is done cooking, let them ‘rest’ on a plate while you fry up your veggies.
  8. To the same frying pan (heat and all) add all your veggies and let them cook for desired amount of time (my frying pan is usually overflowing with kale-which shrinks, like spinach as it cooks-plus, all the other goodies, so it takes about 10 mins).
  9. Once veggies are almost done cooking, add those cooled noodles to the veggies in the frying pan to get them reheated.
  10. Start plating the veggie/noodle combo and then I like to pour the dipping sauce over it, then add my tofu. Plus, use a little more Sriracha to kick it up more!

There you have it – meal #1! If this is the one you’re planning on preparing, please leave a comment or email letting me know your thoughts on it.

Personally, it’s one of mine and my hubby’s faves. We eat it practically every week…no joke!

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Recipe #2: Vegan Split Pea Soup
Found in the 30 Day Vegan Challenge by: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

If this doesn’t appeal to you, then go to recipe #3!

Note: Allow a good hour before ready to eat because the peas need to simmer and soften for about that length of time – go get your workout in while this cooks! 😉

Note: This soup is super easy and so delicious. It’s great if you want something easy for leftovers – sometimes the sole purpose of why I make it!

If you feel like it won’t be enough food for the meal, pair with a salad or anything non-animal based. But I’ll tell you this, it’s pretty misleading – this can fill you up pretty good!



source

Serves: 4 to 6.

Ingredients

Note: it may seem like a lot of spices going into it, but it builds the flavour so well! All I did before I made this for the first time, was go to the Bulk Barn to get them, which didn’t cost me much at all!

  • 2 cups green split peas (sometimes I do 1 cup of green split peas and 1 cup of yellow split peas – use what you can find in the store or if you have one over the other in your pantry)
  • 6 – 7 cups of water or vegetable stock (I prefer using veggie stock as it adds more flavour – try and get reduced sodium if using veggie stock – usually only need one box of it for the soup, if more is needed and you don’t have any, just use water)
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
  • 2 yellow potatoes (I’ve used yukon gold and russet before), diced
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke, optional –> but highly recommended – this reeeeeally makes the soup and I don’t stop at 1/2 tsp; I usually add a few TABLEspoons! (I found mine at my local health food store – here’s a link to get an idea of what it actually is + pic below of the one I use)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste




Directions:

  1. Rinse split peas, checking for any impurities (ie: just rinse in a strainer), such as stones/residue. Place all ingredients except salt and pepper in a large pot, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook under peas are cooked – about 1 hour or longer
  2. Check and stir often to make sure water hasn’t completely evaporated (this has never been a problem for me – just make sure all the ingredients are covered in liquid before you start cooking and it should be fine!)

Soup should be thick and creamy, with split peas broken down and mushy after cooking for an hour. BUT, if you want creamier soup you could use an immersion blender to really blend it.

I’ve done both and I like it better without using the immersion blender. I like the chunks of potatoes, onions, carrots and celery, along with the mushy peas. Your preference though 🙂

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Recipe #3: Curried Red Lentil Soup
From Vegan Family Meals by Ann Gentry


Serves: 8 to 10 (makes about 10 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 cups red lentils, picked through and rinsed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped (I don’t peel mine)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt (any salt should do)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lemon, halved

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and lentils in a heavy pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the top. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils begin to soften – about 5 mins.
  2. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, ginger, olive oil and the 2 tsp salt and cook – stir occasionally – until most of the lentils are falling apart – about 20 mins.
  3. Stir in cilantro, curry powder and cumin. Cover and cook until vegetables are very tender and soup thickens slightly – about 20 mins.
  4. Ladle soup (unless you’re me and still ladle-less!!) into bowls. Squeeze a few generous drops of lemon juice into each bowl of soup and serve.

The soup will keep for 2 days (mine actually kept longer – but if you don’t wanna chance it and have leftovers, just freeze it!), covered and refrigerated, or 1 month frozen.

To be honest, this one isn’t as good as the split pea but I found I really liked how the flavours developed in this after a few days. It also depends, too, if you like curry flavour (not that it’s overkill here) or a more savory smoky flavour – that’s if you were choosing between the 2 soups.

But, like I said, I’m not going to put recipes on here that I don’t like myself – that’s just cruel!

So, there you have it – your first 3 vegan recipes ready to go!

Remember to have fun while preparing them and leave any comments or questions you may have!

Happy week one of being a once a week vegan!


‘once a week vegan’ challenge

I can’t ignore it any longer; I want everyone to try delicious, vegan foods. So what’s the dilemma that most people think when they hear the word vegan?

It’s limiting.
I can’t eat the foods I want.
Where do I get my protein?

I’m going to challenge all those questions and concerns that people have by offering the:

ONCE A WEEK VEGAN CHALLENGE.

What It Is:
It’s a challenge that gives you a chance each and every week to try one new vegan meal – normally a dinner. And, just to make it so simple and effortless, I will be the one posting a few vegan recipes each week that you can choose from – all you have to do is buy the groceries!

If, say one week, there aren’t any recipes that appeal to you, then I challenge you to look on the internet, in books, magazines, the paper, etc for your own vegan recipe or under the tab for this challenge, look at recipes from past weeks that might inspire you.

None of the recipes will overcomplicate things and I promise to only post recipes that I think are worth it (ie: tried, tested and true).

I’m going to begin with dinners (which can be lunches as well), since I think it’s a great place to start and might even help you in your meal rut!

So if you can do me the favour of becoming a once a week vegan, I promise it is well-worth your time, money, effort and health.

Plus, you get some pretty fantastic and savory meal ideas out of it!


And just a quick note…

Inspiration For It:
I do a lot of reading, especially when it comes to nutrition and more specifically the vegan lifestyle, which is more recent. So when I was reading a chapter from The Veganist this morning, I started thinking about all the people I love; are they eating to maximize their time here with me? Call me selfish, but I want the ones I love to be around me as long as they possibly can be!

I really believe that a plant-based diet is the closest way to maximizing time here – void of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

After finishing my chapter I thought that if I could convince people to try a vegan meal at least once a week, I would be taking a step in the right direction (for them). So, I thought to text my cousin/best friend/closed love one this:

Question…would you consider trying one vegan/vegetarian recipe a week if I sent you super easy ones to prepare?

Her response:

Of course! haha

And that is where I got the idea from.

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If you choose to participate, I totally encourage you to say that you’re a once a week vegan – you making the effort to try new things, especially eliminating animals products for even one meal a week is totally a conscious and compassionate move on your part, which is vegan in essence.

Note: I will be posting the ‘once a week vegan’ recipes every Saturday so this gives you time on the weekend to get the items you need for that recipe for the week.

You can choose whichever day works best to prepare the meal and I encourage you to email me or leave a comment on any post below saying either,
i) a little bit about yourself/why you wanted to do this;
ii) what you liked about the meal;
iii) what you’d like to see in future recipes, and/or;
iv) what was the most satisfying part about the meal.

OR send me anything else you have to say about it!!

And make sure to post any comments each week about the meals you tried, if you want, to help others out!

I love suggestions, so if you’re serious about doing this, send as little (or as many) as you want for me!

charonamission [at] gmail [dot] com

I look forward to meeting all those who choose to participate!