Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Resolutions Underway!

It is a New Year's tradition to eat black-eyed peas, stewed tomatoes and greens on January 1st, here in the South (although we're just below the Mason-Dixon line). I've been doing this for several years now, and although I don't believe in "luck" per se, I do like traditions. This hearty soup from Vegetarian Times (Jan 09 issue), so originally named, Southern New Year's Day Soup, was very good. It had good spice, neat texture from all the different ingredients, and I used dried beans, which was one of my New Year's resolution foods! (something I've never really made - I usually use canned). Two and a half to three stars ***. The funny thing was, my husband thought it was "too watery," and perhaps I agree! We don't eat a ton of soups around here, and they usually tend to be more stew-like. Still, it was warming and filling and lasted a while.
I am trying to alternate my protein sources. In other words, if I eat tempeh for dinner all week, not to have another soy source for lunch. This week, I decided on this Chickpea Hijiki Salad, from Vegan with a Vengeance, for my lunch protein. It was great to use up the hijiki sitting around in my cupboard (another New Year's resolution - to use up what I already have) and it was a recipe that I've had tagged from Isa's book since I first bought it, years ago! The hijiki (a type of seaweed- follow the link to learn more) was very strong and kind of funny looking, but it lent the perfect "seafood" scent and flavor to the dish. I don't think this would fool a SOUL out there (doesn't remotely resemble tuna by sight or by texture) but if you close your eyes, it's like a really moist tuna spread. At any rate, I am not looking for dead-animal analogs, so I was completely happy with this, along with a huge amount of green leaf lettuce and some leftover pieces of raw cauliflower, wrapped up in a huge piece of lavash bread (only 100 calories and contains flax and all whole grains- and vegan! - from B.J.'s). I gave this three stars ***.

Here's a close-up of the salad. It has a bit of Veganaise, lots of shredded carrots, and some other things that are really simple pantry ingredients. I learned from this site that hijiki has an amazing 1,400 mg of calcium per serving, 4,400mg of potassium, more than 3,000mg of Vitamin A, and 10.6g of protein - woohoo!

To use up the tempeh sitting around in our fridge, my husband and I agreed upon this Tempeh Cacciatore, from Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes. It was hearty and savory, but a little too dry. I had to keep adding water. I had it over whole wheat fettuccine. Two and a half stars, maybe only two **. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

Speaking of winning, this unexpected dish was a winner (all week)! Millet-Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes" (also from Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook) is not something that you'd think I would pick out to make for myself. But it doesn't contain a bit of potato. Just cooked onion, veggie broth, cauliflower and millet. A great whole grain, the millet had been sitting around in my pantry, thus its appearance on my plate. Now, I'm also not a big mashed potatoes fan, but man! - these were good! I even made the author's (Robin Robertson) quick gravy, and it was good, too! It was my own invention to toast some pine nuts (you can see they were toasted a little too long) to go on top for some added protein. How yummy! Alongside some sauteed kale (which was also very good with the gravy), I had a pretty plate and a home style meal. As you can see, the green vegetable makes up a good portion of the plate - just the way it should be :) I have been attracted to cauliflower recently, after being reminded of the importance of cruciferous veggies in preventing cancer. Three stars for sure ***, maybe three and a half!
Here's a yummy close up....

Now, onto my true New Year's Resolutions....Brussels sprouts! I always hated these things, being as my British mum would always just steam them in the microwave, with no salt, pepper or other things to take away the intense bitterness. Yuck. They were one thing that even my dad couldn't stand.

But, according to my resolutions, they were on the top of my list for a second try (beets were last year's veggie). I roasted them according to Isa's (Vegan with a Vengeance) very easy recipe (except that I forgot to cut them in half, so they were a little underdone) with lots of garlic and some olive oil and pepper/salt. Wow!!! I can now say that I actually like ALL vegetables (OK, so I haven't eaten all the ones out there, but of the ones that I am familiar with)!! Even yucky Brussels sprouts (which, up until now I thought were "brussel sprouts") are OK in my book. I'm buying some more this week to try roasting again, cut in half this time :) I wouldn't say they taste like popcorn, which is what Isa claims, but the garlic and roasting definitely take the bitterness down a few notches. I felt so gosh darn grown-up eating these! :) By the way, one serving contains 2 grams of protein and 120% of your RDA of Vitamin C! Click here to learn more.

Here they are, alongside the Millet-Cauliflower mash, which has been topped with chives this time, as originally called for (I forgot the first time).

Well, I didn't announce it here on this blog (I don't think), but a more personal New Year's resolution was to give up sugar, or more accurately, break my sugar addiction. I've realized how powerless I am over the stuff. And, I realized how over the summer, when my Sierra Club and Veg Group meetings were on hiatus (and thus I didn't have to make desserts), I didn't have nearly as many cravings for sweets. So, I'm going to try to make fewer sweet things for these occasions, and indulge in dried fruit to quell my cravings.

Of course, I made this decision after I had bought these chocolate cups from B.J.'s and the following Joe-Joe's (candy cane flavor) cookies. So, I made Nori-Mu vanilla pudding (everyone was amazed that it was made from tofu!) and broke open the box, and shared them at my January meetings. Now, the temptation is gone and I can look forward to more healthy treats for my friends and myself!

Hope everyone's first two weeks (almost) of 2009 are going as successfully and if not, remember that it takes three weeks to make a new habit! (or something like that). Good night and good luck.


VeggieGirl said...

BRUSSELS SPROUTS!! JOE-JOE'S!! Two of my favorites - especially brussels sprouts (I get cravings for them, no joke, haha).

Love the soup, salad and other phenomenal creations, as well!!

1800blogger said...

Could you please contact

Lola said...

Trader Joe's? That is the only grocery I shop at