27 November 2012

macaroni + tomato juice: aka a big bowl of comfort

growing up there were a few tried and true lunches my mom would make that my brothers and i would happily gobble up.  her grilled cheese with fresh tomato was always a hit, as were the mini pizzas baked on english muffins, but nothing could compare to a big bowl of macaroni and tomato juice.  nothing.

i know it sounds weird, but hear me out.  it's a bit of an ingell family staple.  my grandma used to make it for my mom and her sisters when they were growing up, and in turn mom made it for us.  i suppose it's some sort of a 50s prairie farm version of a pasta pomodoro - just long before the days of the food network.  there is nothing glamorous about it, and frankly for anyone else who didn't grow up eating it {so likely all of you...} it might even strike you as a little weird.  but i say don't knock it til you try it.   it might just surprise you.

here's what you need:
little elbow pasta {i prefer whole wheat}
tomato juice from a big tin can
vegan cheese of your choosing {my go to is daiya mozzarella shreds}

here's what you do:
cook and drain the pasta, then put the macaroni back in the pot along with a generous cup or two of tomato juice and heat it on the stove until it's hot and simmering.  then pour it into a bowl and top with cheese which will get all gooey and delicious.  a big crack of fresh pepper is the best way to finish it off.  and then, dig in.

prepare to be comforted.

i've been making this quite a lot lately to warm me up and provide a little comfort of home and my mom.  it's quick, easy and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  and it's always delicious but for some reason even more so when someone you love makes it for you.  any day now when our little vegan bun in the oven makes his or her grand entrance, my mom will be making a trip north to meet her first grandchild and maybe if i ask really nicely she'll be willing to make me a little bowl of macaroni and tomato juice...

19 November 2012

apple cranberry crisp

last night i needed to whip up a quick dessert and i couldn't be bothered to flip through recipes, cookbooks or even finding vegan for inspiration.  enter: fruit crisp.  i love fruit crisps because they can be so versatile using whatever fruit is on hand or in season and with a crunchy topping full of brown sugary goodness it's kind of hard to mess it up. 

with only apples on hand my crisp of choice was uncontested but to liven things up a bit i threw caution to the wind and added in some plump, apple juice sweetened dried cranberries.  they add a really nice pop of tartness against the apples and make me want to cook a big thanksgiving dinner all over again this weekend in solidarity with my american friends.

{whether or not this actually happens remains to be seen, but the seed thought has been planted...}

apple cranberry crisp
serves 4 
2 heaping cups apples, peeled, cored & diced (i used 3 organic galas)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp org cane sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
a pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp pepitas (optional, but add a nice crunch)
1/4 cup earth balance vegan butter

mix the filling ingredients together in a bowl and stir to coat everything with the sugar and flour.  divide evenly  among the 4 ramekins and set aside.  in the same bowl add all of the topping ingredients and cut in the earth balance with 2 forks.  divide this again between the ramekins.  bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.  serve warm with a little dollop of coconut yogurt, some non-dairy ice cream or just eat it straight up. 

ps: to all my local sudbury friends -- tomorrow night is the monthly northern vegetarian society potluck!  all are welcome and it's always a delicious feast.  i posted a link to the event on my facebook page & would love to see some new faces out! 

15 November 2012

37 1/2 week mini update

this belly and all the extra weight i'm carrying around turns out to be pretty insulating.  i'm normally always cold, but not so much these days.  which happens to be perfect since my parka doesn't fit over this big belly!  but hopefully i'll be back in it before the real cold of winter hits.  for now i'm all about layering and big chunky scarves.  (namely this chunky scarf which i don't think i've taken off except to shower since i bought it last week.)

m's worked really hard over the last few weeks with getting babe's room in order, painting, moving furniture around, building a few things and just being awesome.  i've been spending lots of time washing and folding wee little clothes and cloth diapers.  and seriously, i can't get enough of these tiny little white onesies.  they're my new favourite thing ever!

lately most meals have been somewhat thrown together last minute and not really blog worthy, tons of mexican meals, lots of quick pastas, kitchen sink curries and diy sushi with packaged miso soup.  i plan on trying to get some kitchen creativity going this weekend so that i can share at least a few new recipes before any blogging becomes consumed by little hands and feet...

06 November 2012

my favourite refried beans & more on iron

one of the staple meals in our kitchen is a quick, throw together mexican spread.  it's fast, fresh and always hits the spot.  it also features one of my favourite things:  refried beans.  {although technically they're just cooked once the way i make them...}

i love refried beans.  love them.  i could eat 2 cups of them at one sitting, and frankly if m isn't around to share them stop me, i often do.

here's my go-to bean recipe; one i have been meaning to put it up on the blog for months now which rounds out dinner along with a quick guacamole, a chopped salsa fresca made up of tomato, cilantro & green onions and some daiya quessadillas fried up in corn tortillas, or in this case ezekiel wraps.
my favourite refried beans
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 bpa-free can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1/4 cup salsa verde
a big squeeze of lime
splash of beer (optional, but if mark's going to have one with dinner i just crack it open first and use some)

to make the beans, saute the onion until soft and then add the beans & salt and cook a few minutes. add in the salsa & beer, cover the pan and simmer 5 minutes to soften things up more. then smash the beans with the back of a fork - they don't need to be really smooth, but it's nice to break most of them up and they become creamy.  let them cook down uncovered about 10-15 minutes over low heat.  give them a taste and then you can season them a bit more with salt, a bit more beer or salsa if you want, a dash of hot sauce and they're ready to eat!

as i mentioned in my latest update, my iron had dropped a bit recently and iron is super important as it piggybacks oxygen in red blood cells.  so, in addition to supplementing with floravit, i've been continuing to fill my diet with iron rich foods. black beans are definitely my favourite dietary source of iron but my other favourites include:
  • pumpkin seeds {great sprinkled on coconut yogurt or chia pudding}
  • organic blackstrap molasses {right from the spoon!}
  • organic tofu & tempeh
  • spinach
  • and dried apricots and prunes

here are even more plant-based sources of iron:
  • spirulina
  • quinoa
  • oatmeal
  • prune juice
  • cooked mushrooms
  • soybeans
  • lentils {and other beans & legumes}
  • dried figs

for a bit more in depth discussion of iron needs i definitely recommend this read from gena over at choosing raw that touches on heme vs non-heme iron and daily requirements suggested for women regardless of diet.

what are some of your favourite sources of iron?

04 November 2012

vegan pregnancy: 36 weeks

i'm still here and i'm still pregnant!  36 weeks now to be exact, and for those of you who like months that means 8.  and you know what an 8 month pregnant vegan looks like?  big.  or that's how i'm feeling at least!  the little vegan bean is still growing and taking up lots of space.  movements are changing now too, with lots of rump shifting and early morning kicks to the side.  half the time i look down and it seems like my belly is totally lopsided with babe's butt high in the air.  it's pretty cute and it's hard not to fall in love more and more everyday with this little one growing inside...

i'm still feeling wonderful but lately i'm a little more tired at the end of the day.  i really look forward to putting my feet up at the end of the day and cozying up on the couch.  part of the tiredness is coming from no longer having a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep {yes, i know, better get used to that!} as i have to get up once during the night to go to the bathroom, usually around 4am and i often find it a bit of a challenge falling back asleep because my mind starts to wander and think of baby things or bakeshop things.  on two occasions this week i couldn't get back to sleep for the life of me and instead was up and about, eating toast, reading, making lists, etc.  so i think i might have to soon resurect my first trimester naps...

also now that i'm 36 weeks it means visits with our midwives are going to increase to weekly, which i couldn't be happier about.  i also wanted to mention some bloodwork i've had done in the past few weeks.  i had my iron levels tested at 30 weeks to check and see where my iron levels were at.  it's very common for a pregnant mama's iron levels to drop in their second or third trimester since the total blood volume has doubled, but i always think i'm some exception to every rule, and so i was a little bummed to find out that mine had in fact dropped.  they check iron levels 2 ways: via hemoglobin in the blood {think of that as the readily accessible iron} and the "normal" range is between 120-160, and secondly via ferritin levels {the back up stores} which should be between 10-200.  my levels were at 110 and 8 respectively-- nothing to cause great concern but both just shy of "normal". 

so since then i've been taking a liquid iron supplement called floravit in addition to keeping up with my prenatal vitamins and of course getting lots of iron in through my diet.  the floravit is actually quite tasty {sweet, floral notes} and it's easily digested so i haven't noticed the same unfortunate side effects of iron pills.

and the good news is that it works!  i had bloodwork done again about a week ago and my levels have come up to a point where my midwives and i are all happy.  yippee!  they haven't jumped like crazy, {my hemoglobin is up to 113 and ferritin stores to 21} but what's important is that they haven't dropped any further and there is nothing to be concerned about.  i'm feeling very relieved about that.

oh yeah, and this: it's official -- i didn't manage to escape the curse of the swollen ankles.  oh dear lord. 

thank goodness for boot season to hide them.