Category Archives: vegan


Dinner In A Jar

dinner in a jar

I’m not a fan of plastic for food storage.  While there are times that it’s unavoidable, my preference is for glass.  So I save jars.  Lots of them.  They’re great for dry goods, things like beans, grains, and spices.  But they’re also fabulous for efficient leftover storage.  Take the picture above for example.  It’s ratatouille and polenta.  After the meal rather than packaging up the leftovers into one container of ratatouille and one container of polenta I’ve assembled them into meals in the jar.  Perfect for grab-and-go meals on the road or if I’m trying to save time and energy at home.

By assembling my leftovers into meal containers I avoid having to find a container for the ratatouille, find a container for the polenta, take them out when I want to serve them, put a container with less stuff back in the fridge (which takes up more space).  Repeat with consecutive meals until there’s just a smidge left in all the containers, the fridge is jam packed, there’s no room, but there’s not much food either.  This is much more efficient and I love it.

The two jars in the picture demonstrate the different ways of filling your jar.  It’s important to remember that you want to use wide mouth openings, otherwise it’s more difficult to get stuff out.  Putting your base (in this case the polenta) on the bottom and your saucy stuff (the ratatouille) on top makes a perfect on the go meal.  I can heat and eat straight from the container.  Yes, I’m talking reheating in the microwave oven.  Not my preferred method of heating but when I’m out and about I don’t usually have the option of reheating on a stove top.

The other method, with the sauce on the bottom and the base on top is fabulous when you can dump everything out onto a plate.  When you turn it over the base is on the bottom and the sauce is on top.

This meal was so delicious I know I’m going to be making it again soon in the near future.  And because I know you want to make it too, here’s the recipes.

Ratatouille

1 large eggplant
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
2 sweet bell peppers
5 medium to large tomatoes, cored and diced
1/4 cup olive oil plus more if needed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh basil, minced
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggplant into 1″ cubes
Sprinkle with salt and let sit 1 hour
Rinse and drain eggplant
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan
Add diced onion and saute until starting to soften
Add another 2 tablespoons olive oil and the eggplant
Stir to fully coat eggplant
Turn heat down to medium and add remaining ingredients
Stir frequently for another 10 minutes
Turn heat down to low and simmer 15-20 minutes

I love this ratatouille over polenta, but it’s also great on a baked potato or just by itself.

This polenta recipe is the one from The Pantry Principle, if you’d like you can put fresh mozzarella on top of the polenta after it’s been cooked and then put the hot ratatouille on top.  This will cause the mozzarella to melt into ooey deliciousness and makes the whole meal delightful.

Polenta

So easy to make at home that you’ll wonder why you ever bought it. The homemade version is much more versatile and, by choosing organic cornmeal, can be GMO free polenta.

1 C. cornmeal
1 t. sea salt
3 C. water

Bring water and salt to a boil
Reduce water to a simmer
Very slowly add cornmeal (this is important to avoid lumps)
Cook approximately 20 minutes until mixture thickens
Remove from heat and pour into a pie plate (for triangles) or a cake pan (for squares)
Let polenta set for 10-15 minutes
Cut and serve

Enjoy!

Giving Up Dairy

Dairy Collage

Food Intolerance Journal – Week One
With my recent discovery of food intolerance issues I’ve had to make some changes to my nutritional plan.   Honey is a little tricky and I do need to read the label to make sure that it’s not part of the sometimes cascading list of sweeteners found in some foods.  Berries, and melon are fairly easy to avoid and since they aren’t in season right now I’m telling myself that by avoiding the frozen ones I’m on a journey to heal my gut in time for them to be back in season again and hopefully back on my plate.

Dairy on the other hand?  Well that’s proving to be more challenging.  In my first week I’ve had less than stellar success with my new dairy-free lifestyle.  This is in part due to the need to travel and in part due to all the places that dairy hides in the diet.  When looking at labels remember to also look for casein, lactose, and whey or variants of those since they are a part of the milk product.

I should clarify, I need to avoid cow’s milk dairy products.  Goat’s milk is fine and sheep’s milk (if I could source it here in Texas) would also be fine.  Luckily I like goat’s milk cheese and goat’s milk yogurt is available at my grocery store.  But I’m also looking to alternative dairy (coconut, almond, rice, hemp, oat, or flax milk-based products) to help replace any dairy in baking or drinking as a less expensive and easier sourced option.  The biggest challenge with the alternative dairy is that most products come with added carrageenan.  Made from a red seaweed it’s not a healthy option for anyone, but especially for someone with a challenged digestive tract.  Found in products that come in those convenient containers in the dairy case, in the tetra-pack versions, in frozen confections made with alternative dairy, it’s really hard to get away from carrageenan.  My options are to find brands that don’t have it or to make my own.  Feeling squeezed for time I’m really not interested in making my own at the moment so my current favorite option is to purchase coconut milk in BPA free cans.

For other dairy options I am definitely looking in a more vegan direction.   I’m not switching to a vegan diet, but it does offer some great substitutions for dairy.  One that I was recently introduced to is a fabulous dish called RawFredo.  A raw vegan version of spaghetti alfredo made with spiraled zucchini and a cashew based “alfredo” sauce.  This sauce was so delicious that I can’t wait to make it again.  I’m not ashamed to confess that not only did I lick my bowl, I grabbed my spatula and, ahem, “cleaned” the blender jar.  I’m grateful to my friend and colleague, Primitive Diva, for introducing me to this delicious dish.

While it takes time and effort to make these changes the end result is definitely worth it.  In order to be successful when accommodating any shift in nutritional plans, the key is to find delicious alternatives to what you are used to eating,

 

photo credits:  MaxStraeten, wax115