Thursday, October 20, 2011

Enchilada Factory

enchilada factory

I made the potato and kale enchiladas from Veganomicon last week for the Man of Science and my mom and I for dinner (my dad is away travelling, lest you think we just deny him dinner!) Have you made those? They're delicious. Anyway, there were a lot of leftovers, so I froze them in individual containers (four, to be exact) and I am eating my way through them. When I have a place where I can heat up food for lunch, this is the perfect meal. Very filling, healthy, and tasty enough to feel like a bit of a treat. Yesterday my admin assistant was telling strangers on on the phone how good my lunch smelled.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Not So Naked Lunch: A Lunch for Lisa (She Owns A Bookstore)

Note: Before Vegan Mofo began I put out a call to friends asking if anyone wanted me to design a special vegan lunch just for them. I was planning to do one post like this per week, but I ended up with so many requests I'm going to attempt to do two per week. Stay tuned for vegan lunches designed for students, teachers, writers, travellers, small business owners and more!

This is Lisa. I have had many lunches in her presence. I used to work at Octopus Books, the lovely little bookstore that Lisa has owned for many years. It was my favourite job, ever. I actually remember Lisa having trouble deciding what to have for lunch on a fairly regular basis. Once, as I heated up some leftovers in the microwave, she said, exasperated, "You always make being a vegetarian look so easy!" Here are Lisa's needs in her own words:
"So around 11:30 every day, I start thinking about what I am going to have for lunch and wishing I had made it. I don't make it because i don't know what to make, or I feel too rushed. I don't eat any meat, am ok with cheese, kinda queasy on eggs. Prefer not to have to heat things up. Have a bunch of sore teeth which make me scared something will be too cold, or will make my tooth hurt if it's too hard. I also get worried about my weight. I was thinking about yogurt and fruit with oatmeal in it. I don' t really like processed veggie luncheon slices. And these are the reasons I tend towards croissants, chocolate bars and pizza. Not healthy i know, but if i am being honest, those things have passed by my lips!"

Since Lisa's days are sometimes chaotic and she doesn't necessarily have time to sit and eat at the same time every day, I figured I'd compile her a lunch of snacky items so she could eat quickly and easily.

Item 1: White Bean Sandwich Spread

White Bean Spread

This is something I've recommended many times before and will continue to recommend. It is easy to make, keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and is generally kid-friendly. A batch of it can easily be made on the weekend and tucked away in small containers in the fridge that are easily grab-able. It's good with crackers or vegetables and provides protein and flavour without a ton of fat.

Item 2: Spinach Chickpea Triangles


If Lisa had a bit more time for food prep prior to the work week, I'd suggest making a batch of these snacky triangles. I know, from many dinners spent at Lisa's house, that she and her family often make pizza at home for dinner. If you double a pizza dough recipe, you'll have enough dough for the pizza and a batch of triangles. The filling whips up quickly and once these are baked they can be frozen easily. I've done this before and just taken one out of the freezer in the morning to bring for lunch, and it was thawed out by the time I was hungry for lunch.

Item 3: Maple Pecan Granola


Okay, now I'm pushing it, with something else that needs to be prepared in advance. However, these are merely suggestions and this is a fantasy lunch. Why hold back? And since Lisa mentioned "yogurt and fruit with oatmeal in it" I'm suggesting this delicious homemade granola, which goes very well with whatever kind of yogurt you like. It is sweet enough to be almost a dessert, but still healthy and low-fat. I like it with soy milk and peach slices or some berries on top.

Item 4: Fruit, Fruit, Fruit. Nuts, Nuts, Nuts.

Unoriginal, sure, but so easy to throw into any lunch. No need to underestimate the simple things. A bag of almonds, cashews, or pistachios. An apple, orange, or some mango slices. These work for daytime snacks as well as lunch items.

And that's it for Lisa's lunch. I'm still trying to do two of these posts per week (last week = fail!) so hopefully I'll have another lunch post before the end of the week.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Day Off Dressing and The Best Salad Ever

best salad ever

Hey, check it! An actual recipe. We owe this miracle to the fact that I have the day off today, which gives me time to write, sew, take the Man of Science's clothes to the cleaners, do some dishes, walk the dogs, and clean out the fridge. And, most importantly, make myself a great lunch.

I will admit that I am not usually a huge green salad fan. I see other healthy food bloggers writing about devouring giant salads for lunch and I am often mystified. But we really wanted to have some green salads with dinner this week so we could take advantage of our last few amazing shares of fresh vegetables from Roots and Shoots Farm. Even for a reluctant saladist, fresh greens and vegetables make a huge difference. For this salad I started with a bed of mixed greens and then topped them with grated beets, carrots, and kohlrabi. I added some grilled tofu for protein and poured a whole bunch of tahini dressing over the whole mess, then added some pumpkin seeds for garnish because I'm fancy like that.

I've been all over this salad dressing lately. I threw it together kind of randomly earlier in the week and now I can't stop eating it on everything. It's relatively forgiving, so if you want to experiment with flavours that would probably work out well for you. Just be warned: it's mildly addictive. Case in point, I ate lunch at 10:00 AM again today, not because of extreme hunger, but because I really just wanted to eat another salad.


Healthy Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp fresh dill
1 clove of garlic (pressed or grated on a Microplane grater)
a pinch of salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper

Mix all ingredients until well combined and creamy. A fork should do the trick, no complicated blending machines needed.

Eat vast quantities.

best salad ever


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Terrible Pie and Excellent Tofu

I had an annoying morning at work yesterday and also was so hungry I ate my packed lunch (soup and crackers) at 10 AM. I figured this all justified a trip to the Green Door vegetarian buffet which happened to be on my way to my next appointment.

This restaurant has been around forever and people in Ottawa have mixed feelings about it. It's kind of hippie-ish and the food on offer is pretty much the same all the time, but I still like it. On my plate you see their classic tofu broccoli stirfry, which is always delicious, a newer noodle dish, some big beets, avocado salad, and kale salad. And what's that in the background? Why it's the worst vegan pumpkin pie I've ever eaten! Sorry Green Door bakers, but that pie was flavourless and the crust was hard as a rock. The rest of my food was good, though.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tester Lunch


One can't serve a new recipe without eating a bit of it first... right? This was my lunch on this past holiday Monday which was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. I made a nut/veggie loaf that I'd never made before and I wanted to make sure it tasted good before I fed it to my relatives. It ended up being fairly good, especially with the miso gravy on the side. I don't know that I'd make it again, though, since it was a bit mushier than I'd like.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

forks and knives

bamboo utensils

These aren't food, but they are an excellent addition to any lunch. Bamboo cutlery! This set is made by To Go Ware and I keep it in my purse so I never need to use disposable cutlery when I'm eating on the go. The set even has chop sticks with it, in case you're into that sort of thing. And the whole shebang is very light-weight which is great because my purse is already full of piles of food in heavy glass containers.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Lunch On A Bus: A Lunch for Sara

Note: Before Vegan Mofo began I put out a call to friends asking if anyone wanted me to design a special vegan lunch just for them. I was planning to do one post like this per week, but I ended up with so many requests I'm going to attempt to do two per week. Stay tuned for vegan lunches designed for students, teachers, writers, travellers, small business owners and more!

This is Sara. She lives in Montreal, but she used to live in Ottawa and that's how I first met her. Now I see her a few times a year at zine fairs or readings in one city or another. She's mostly vegan and really needed some lunch suggestions for lunches she eats while travelling to and from Ottawa. Here are her needs in her own words:
I am a graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa, but I live in Montreal. Once a week I have to commute by bus between cities. The busy schedule of that day means that when I bring a lunch from home I have to carry it around with me through the morning and early afternoon and then eat it on the bus around 3pm. This presents a few challenges. First, I have a lot of stuff to carry already, so bulky containers and packaging just aren't practical (if it was more than once a week I'm sure I would have to figure out a new bag system, but for now this is how it is). Second, eating on the bus obviously means I can’t do any kind of preparation (heating, assembling, etc.) before I chow down; and since I am often next to another passenger I have to be pretty self-contained and not messy. Because of the absence of containers, a sandwich is usually the best bet, but these can get a bit soggy and sad by 3pm. So I guess what I’m looking for is either a yummy, filling sandwich that won’t get soggy, or an alternative. Also, I always want something sweet at that point in the day (esp. chocolate!), as well as something snacky for the bus ride. I have a refillable water bottle with me all the time.

I can sympathize with Sara about the bus eating. When I was going to university, I used to ride the bus frequently between Peterborough and Ottawa and I got quickly tired of the roadside stop food options. Greasy french fries and stale granola bars can only go so far.

I'm very picky about the sandwiches I take with me for lunch. Sandwiches are always best when freshly made and almost all of my favourite sandwich ingredients get pretty yucky when they've been sitting around in a room-temperature bag for a few hours. Lettuce wilts. Avocado goes brown. Tomatoes make bread soggy. It's all very discouraging.

Item 1: A Nut Butter Sandwich


Yes, I'm going back to grade school with this one, but the wonder-bread-and-skippy combination need not be a part of an adult diet. When I make nut butter sandwiches these days, I start with some hearty, whole grain bread. I like Kamut multigrain bread myself because it doesn't taste super whole-wheaty, but it is hefty enough to fill me up. Instead of regular peanut butter I use a natural, unsweetened, chunky almond butter. To compliment the taste of that you can add a bit of agave nectar (or honey if you eat honey, let's not get in a big fight, vegans) and voila! A sandwich that won't get soggy or yucky looking if it sits in your bag for a few hours. If I think I'm going to be really hungry I pack two of these. I always want more after I've eaten one anyways. I actually kind of want one right now.

Alternate Item 1: Chickpea Salad Sandwich

smashed chicpeas

This is one of my favourite sandwich fillings. The recipe came from 'Wichcraft in New York via Smitten Kitchen. The ingredients are simple to find and work with and it also stays quite nice throughout the day. I'm putting it second because a) it can be a bit messy and b) it has raw onions in it. However, if you'd like a different kind of sandwich this is always delicious. To solve the above noted problems I'd recommend pita bread (which keeps the salad elements contained) and either leaving the onions out, buying some gum, or learning to love your onion breath.

Item 2: Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

ginger chocolate cookies

These are here to fulfil Sara's need for something sweet. They are easy to make (add chunks of candied ginger to any chocolate chip cookie recipe, mine is here), always delicious, and an excellent treat, post lunch. And ginger helps with any motion sickness the bus might induce. Bonus!

Item 3: No-Bake Energy Bites

For further bus -snacking, I would suggest a variation of these Energy Bites from the Smashed Peas and Carrots blog. They're a little cookie-ish to be added to a lunch where I've already recommended cookies, but the recipe is flexible and you could leave out the chocolate chips and put in something different to make them less cookie-like. I like them because they fill me up and don't give me a sugar crash. They can be carried around all day and still taste good. Sometimes I keep them in the freezer and just take them out in the morning to put in my lunch. By the time I'm ready to eat them, they've defrosted perfectly.

Pair those items with a piece of fruit or some carrots and celery sticks (or some of the pickles that I know Sara has been making lately!), and you have a lunch for the bus that won't get yucky and, better yet, will reward you for a day of hard work and travel.

Enjoy, Sara!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Canadian Thanksgiveganing

Those of you in Ottawa may have heard me on CBC radio this morning discussing Tofurky, what it's like to be a vegan at Thanksgiving, and what I like about Thanksgiving itself. Or at least I think that's what you would have heard me discussing. I didn't catch the broadcast myself, unfortunately. I'm hoping that they'll put the piece up on their website. We'll see.

On that note, here are some recipes from the past that you might want to make if you're stuck for Thanksgiving dinner.

Vegan Shepherds Pie

Mushroom Gravy For A Crowd

Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Vegan Apple Pie


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lunch on the Road

lunch for the road

Many work days find me far away from anywhere where I might be able to heat up some leftovers to eat for lunch. This is the kind of lunch I bring with me on those days. A peanut butter sandwich, some homemade applesauce, a mix of almonds and chocolate, and a banana-peanut butter-chocolate chip muffin. A bit pasty, all told, but it kept me fed as I drove around from place to place.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lunch Lady: A Lunch for Elizabeth

Note: Before Vegan Mofo began I put out a call to friends asking if anyone wanted me to design a special vegan lunch just for them. I was planning to do one post like this per week, but I ended up with so many requests I'm going to attempt to do two per week. Stay tuned for vegan lunches designed for students, teachers, writers, travellers, small business owners and more!

This is Elizabeth (with grandaughter, Cameron). Elizabeth has known me since I was nine years old because she is my friend Kat's mom. I don't see her very often since she lives way out in BC, but we get together whenever we're in the same city and get caught up. Elizabeth is a busy university professor and she defined her lunch needs as follows:
My needs are that it be portable, energy providing, and give me some badly needed veg servings. I would even tote a green shake, etc. I like tofu, btw. If it is something I could prepare in bulk so I could take it several times for lunch, even better. I like all vegetables. I usually eat at my desk.

Lunch Item 1: Green Smoothie

Elizabeth did the work for me for the first item by suggesting it herself. What I'm bringing to the table is a kitchen hack. Did you know that most blender bases will screw into a standard mason jar? It's true, look!

blender + jar!

You can throw all your smoothie ingredients in a jar, attach the blender base, put it in place, and blend away. This makes for super easy portable smoothie preparation. No liquid to transfer to another container, no blender to wash. Just screw a lid on your jar and go. Glass keeps things colder than plastic does and is much nicer to drink out of. If you need a recipe for a green smoothie, my basic one for a spinach-berry smoothie is here. Mason jars also have the added benefit of not leaking if you throw them in your purse. (Unless you don't put the lid on properly, then it's a trip to Slime City. )

Lunch Item 2: Kale Salad

I posted this recipe a little while ago and it has stood the test of time. Kale salads are great because you can dress them and leave them in the fridge and the greens don't wilt like boring old lettuce would. Kale is also a real over-achiever in the vegetable department, so it's a good choice for lunchers who want to reap the benefits of increased vegetable consumption.

kale salad

There's also no need to heat this up, so it can be eaten quickly as a pre or post-lunch snack. I also chose this because Elizabeth wanted foods to give her energy and I know that raw food, especially raw greens, always boosts my energy.

Lunch Item 3: Roasted Vegetables with Tofu

(I'm assuming that Elizabeth has the means to heat up some of her lunch, since this is food that is not very good when eaten cold) This is an dish that can be prepared in bulk on the weekend and brought along for lunch through the week. The ingredients are in season right now and it's great with any variation of root vegetables and herbs. It can be served with some brown rice and some kind of healthy gravy-type sauce (I like this super healthy recipe) but I also enjoy it all on its own. The squash and apples keep the end product from being too dry. A little bit of this goes a long way as far as keeping me full for a while after lunch. My basic recipe is here.

autumn vegetables for roasting

Plus, it will make your house smell all wonderful on Sunday when you're making it.

Lunch Item 4: Dark Chocolate

As I said before, I always feel like a bit of a treat after lunch. A few squares of dark chocolate is always welcome and it doesn't weigh you down like sugary baked goods would. My favourite right now is the Cocoa Camino raspberry dark chocolate bar. Yum.

That's all for this one! More lunch talk tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where Do You Put Your Lunch?

lunch to go

This is my lunch from yesterday. It is somewhat similar to the lunch I recommended for Joe. A small thermos full of warm carrot and parsnip soup, Mary's crackers, a peanut butter and banana muffin, and some almonds mixed with bits of a raspberry Cocoa Camino chocolate bar.

I ate this partly while sitting in the cramped office of the site I was working at and partly when I was driving back to my office. I didn't have to buy any extra food, which always pleases me.

I've had that little thermos for a long time. It has a drinking spout which makes it great for using while in transit. Much less soup in my lap that way. The glass containers are from Anchor. They are reasonably priced and very useful.


Monday, October 3, 2011

You'll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again: A Lunch for Joe

Note: Before Vegan Mofo began I put out a call to friends asking if anyone wanted me to design a special vegan lunch just for them. I was planning to do one post like this per week, but I ended up with so many requests I'm going to attempt to do two per week. Stay tuned for vegan lunches designed for students, teachers, writers, travellers, small business owners and more!
me and Joe

This is Joe, sitting in a diner in Brooklyn beside half my head. Joe is a temp worker, comedy writer, and performer in New York. But he technically lives in New Jersey. I've written about Joe on the blog before, complimenting him for being excellent at being vegetarian-adjacent, even though he's not a vegetarian (though he does like to eat a mostly vegetarian diet these days). It was Joe who gave me the idea to blog some lunch ideas for specific friends, after he sent me an e-mail asking for advice on how to eat a bit healthier at lunch time.

See, the problem is that Joe basically lives in transit. Some days he's working at an office, some days he's taking classes, some days he's performing at comedy nights or at story telling nights or as a part of the band at a really weird cable access variety show. All this means a lot of riding trains to and from New Jersey, and a lot of eating on the run.

In Joe's own words, he's
"trying to work on a high protein diet (to put on a few more pounds to stay at what Wii Fit dubs a normal healthy weight, as well as help me look just slightly less like a target as I run around the city late at night/prepare for the fact that I'm being snippier to annoying strangers in public/will eventually find myself getting beat up), but I ultimately just want to take better care of myself so I'll feel better/have more energy, and actually be kind of a functional adult."

When thinking of what kind of lunch foods would be good for Joe, I tried to come up with easy things that can be cooked in larger batches, say on a day off, and then eaten throughout the week. I also tried to come up with things that wouldn't necessarily need to be heated up, in case he wasn't near somewhere he could do that. And, last but not least, I knew this stuff shouldn't be too expensive, since Joe is trying to save his money right now.

sweet potato soup

Lunch Item 1: Easy Vegetable Soup

This isn't really a recipe, so much as a technique. I make soup this way all the time and it is hard to mess up. Chop one onion and two cloves of garlic and saute them for a minute or two in two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add three or four cups of chopped vegetables (carrots, squash, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, whatever! Or any combination of those). Continue to stir the pot steadily for another three or four minutes. Add two bay leaves and a small amount of salt and pepper, then pour in enough soup stock to just cover the vegetables. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and let cook until vegetables are very tender (between 15 minutes and half an hour, depending on the vegetables you've used). Remove the bay leaves, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, a cup of canned white beans or cooked red lentils, and then puree the whole mess in a blender or food processor or, better yet, with an immersion blender. If the soup is too thick, add some liquid (water, stock, coconut milk, soy milk, whatever you like). Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.

These kinds of soups are great to take in a thermos for lunch because they are smooth and not messy. You can drink them without need of a spoon and you're unlikely to make a mess while doing so.

Lunch Item 2: Crackers

I often throw some store bought crackers into my lunch, especially when I'm doing the soup-and-sandwich thing. If you don't have a chance to sit down and eat, you can snack on the crackers to keep from getting too hungry. Many hunger pangs have been temporarily quelled with a handful of crackers and a few gulps of soup from a thermos. The crackers I like these days are Mary's. Joe would probably like them too, since he is a friend to quinoa, which is a major ingredient in the crackers, which are gluten free.

Lunch Item 3: Avocado Black Bean Wrap

My favourite black bean and artichoke dip/spread can also be made on a day off and eaten for days afterward. It is a great way to add protein to a sandwich. For Joe, I'd suggest a whole wheat tortilla wrap type thing, spread with a generous amount of black bean spread (or any bean-based spread, really, even the boring old hummus you buy at the store). For some added healthy fat, add a chopped up avocado. Throw some lettuce and tomato in there for extra texture and flavour and you've got your sandwich.

black bean artichoke dip

Lunch Item 4: Chocolate Covered Almonds

I like to have a treat with my lunch and I assume other people do too. Chocolate covered almonds are easy to find in stores and lots of varieties are vegan. They combine protein with a bit of sweetness, which means no mega-sugar crash after you eat (too many of) them.

Okay, Joe. I hope this helps. I will be attempting to do eight (eight!) of these posts throughout the month. I have a very diverse group of people who want some new suggestions for lunches.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegan Mofo: Weekend Lunch


I saved half my Saturday breakfast to eat for lunch. A great mix of scrambled tofu, oven homefries, and vegetables, with a side of kamut toast with Earth Balance.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to have my first specially designed lunch post. Assuming I don't fall asleep on my laptop before the post can be completed.



Saturday, October 1, 2011

Let's Do Lunch: Vegan Mofo 2011

carrot soup for lunch

Well, goodness. It's time for Vegan Mofo (AKA Vegan Month of Food) once again! The month where vegan food bloggers from across the globe post as much as they possibly can. And then everyone needs to have a big nap when it's all over.

Last year, some of you will remember, I chose "Comfort Food" as my theme and attempted to post every day of the month about some delicious, comforting vegan food item. It was an ambitious month and led to some of my favourite recipes I've ever created. Like Whiskey Apple Crisp. And Creamy Tofu Wild Rice Casserole.

This year my life is all ass-over-teakettle, what with us just having moved in with my parents. It means a new kitchen, a new rhythm of cooking, and a new daily schedule. It means commuting to and from work and juggling that travel with vet appointments, meetings with the people who are designing and building our house, and maybe some social engagements. In other words, my time in the kitchen has been curtailed.

So here's my theme. Lunch. Let's do lunch, Mofo-ers! I have to eat lunch every day, and lunches are eaten when it's light outside, and are consequently easier to photograph. Plus, I've been a bit of an idiot about my lunches lately, so I'd like to get back to making interesting and creative things to eat whether I'm at home, at the office, or working in the field*.

I'm also hoping to do some posts that will have me putting together lunch suggestions for friends who may need some new suggestions for their own mid-day meals. Stay tuned for that kind of cool stuff.

So, let's all gather around and put our hands together. Vegan Mofo on three.




*FYI, I don't mean a literal field.