Practicing Non-Harming Toward Yourself and the World


easy meals

A Few Reviews

Great news!! I got my tax return and it was a little bit more than it’s been the last few years. As soon as I saw it had been put in my bank account this morning, I ran down to Greenlife Grocery. Not for a shopping spree (which I’m sure will come later), but just to grab a few items and look for one in particular – Amy’s new vegan Mac n Cheese. To my disappointment, however, they didn’t carry it.

Since I had planned on having that for lunch, I had to think of something else. I decided I wanted a fresh salad with some kind of pasta. I made a quick spaghetti, just enough for one serving. The sauce I used was Newman’s Own Sockarooni sauce, which is my favorite spaghetti sauce. It’s chunky with tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms, and it has a deliciousness to it I haven’t found elsewhere.

The salad was simple: baby spinach, carrot, celery, red onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper. While I was at the store I stared at the multitude of dressings for at least ten minutes before I finally settled on Drew’s Goddess Dressing. I knew I would like it – Goddess dressing is my favorite, although it’s not exactly good for you.

As a snack, and because I wanted to try something new, I picked up a small bag of sweet potato tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good. I loved the ingredient list I saw upon picking them up: just corn, oil, sweet potato, corn bran, evaporated cane juice, and sea salt. It bothers me to eat junk food because there’s usually a super long list of mystery ingredients and chemical that have no place in your body.

I was a wee bit disappointed, however. They just weren’t flavorful enough. I suspect they would be great dipped in hummus though, because the crunch was perfect.

So that’s what I had for lunch. I also have a stir-fry to share because I don’t think it needs its own post. I made it for lunch for my boyfriend the weekend before last, and both of us thought it was delicious.

The stir-fry was sliced red and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, extra-firm tofu, turmeric, cayenne, mushrooms, onions, and soy sauce served over saffron rice.

There’s the food. Hopefully it’ll get more interesting around here now that I have money to spend on food again. I was getting mighty tired of peanut butter ramen noodles.

Kelp Noodles

In an effort to use up every last bit of food I have, I decided to finally try the kelp noodles that have been in my refridgerator for at least four months.

Kelp noodles might be more well-known to raw foodists than those of us who cook, so here’s some information. Kelp noodles are made from three simple ingredients: kelp, water, and sodium alginate. They are completely raw, low-calorie, and fat-free. For people watching their weights or people who want to consume fewer carbs, kelp noodles might be a great substitute for regular pasta. For a 4 oz serving, there are only 6 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates! On top of all that, all you’ve got to do before eating them is to rinse them, so a great choice for people who don’t like to cook or might not have time.

Having taken into account all of the above, they might not be for everyone. I enjoyed them, but I could completely understand if some people thought them bland and worthless. They’re chewy, which I liked, but for people who are stuck on traditional noodles this is a huge difference. They don’t have much of a taste, which could also be a problem for some. And I’m also sure that there are people who will just never be ok with the simple idea of kelp noodles.

I didn’t really know what to do with them, so after rinsing I basically just threw things together. It was in no way raw though – I thawed and cooked some mixed veggies and corn. I tossed with soy sauce, cayenne powder, and toasted sesame seeds. I really enjoyed eating it.

For those of you who want to try kelp noodles, there is a lovely looking recipe over at the Renegade Health Show for kelp noodles with creamy mushroom sauce. I’ve actually had it bookmarked for a while, but found myself without the ingredients. So if you try it, let me know what you think!

Spicy Sauerkraut Potatoes

I love potatoes. I also love sauerkraut.

Eating cheaply while searching for employment has forced me to become more creative during meals. I don’t have the luxury of buying any ingredient I want, so I use what I’ve already got in the kitchen. To be completely honest, it’s sort of fun.

I wanted some potatoes for lunch, so I diced them up to fry. Then I remembered the half-can of sauerkraut left in my fridge. So I tossed them together, added a few spices, and was pretty surprised that they tasted as good as they did.

This picture fails on so many levels. It's actually quite a nice dish, but having to use a crappy cell phone camera doesn't do it any justice.

Spicy Sauerkraut Potatoes (serves 1, but possibly 2 as a side)

2 medium potatoes, diced
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup sauerkraut, drained
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, chopped coarsely
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Dice the potatoes, with or without peeling them (I prefer to leave the peel on). Fry in the olive oil for a few minutes over medium-high heat. Pour the vegetable broth over them, and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Add sauerkraut, the chopped pepper, liquid smoke, celery seeds, and red pepper flakes and stir. Heat through and serve.

Oops – Something went wrong with the pie crust

In the past when I’ve written about problems I’ve had with recipes, I’ve been lucky enough to receive helpful comments about what might have gone wrong. That’s pretty much what I’m looking for with this post.

Friday night my boyfriend and I couldn’t figure out what we wanted to eat. Finally he decided he wanted a pot pie, and I thought it might be fun to make one since I’ve never done it before.

For the filling we just went with really simple, basic ingredients we already had. We chopped up some baby red potatoes and organic carrots, and tossed in some thawed peas and corn. We used Vegan Brunch‘s Mushroom Gravy (with only 1 Tbs of flour so it would be thinner), and the pie crust from January 2010’s Vegetarian Times recipe for Indian Samosa Casserole.

I had made the samosa casserole a little over a month ago, and the crust was easy and nicely flaky. You can’t get more basic – just equal parts all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flour, salt, oil and water. I had zero trouble the first time I made it, but this time it wouldn’t hold together at all. I thought I did everything in exactly the same way. The only difference I could think of was that maybe the whole wheat pastry flour was too cold. I had decided to store it in the refrigerator while I was away for winter break.

Piecing the crust together

We ended up having to take little bits of it and piecing it together over the vegetables. It almost seemed like it was too wet, but I think I used less water than the first time I made it.

It ended up tasting fine, but I wish I knew what went wrong so I can avoid the trouble in the future.

The Case for Cooking

There’s a really insightful post at’s Sustainable Food blog about the “new era in American food.” The author, Katherine Gustafson, writes about how fast food chains such as McDonald’s are using new ideas to get their customers to stay longer at their stores, and how this shows a fundamental change in our eating habits. It’s a great article and I urge you to read it.

There’s one particular line that influenced me to write my own thoughts about this topic:

This food is by and large what the American population likes to eat, and we have come to accept the speed as normal.

It’s been years since I’ve eaten at a burger joint, but I can speak for my family and friends that they don’t see places like Burger King and McDonald’s as just something convenient – it’s a legitimate choice for their next meal.  This shows that my family and friends, and I assume a majority of Americans, honestly do not care about how their food is processed, how much they enjoy it, or how it tastes. It all comes down to how cheap and fast it is.

I take a lot of joy in cooking. It’s without a doubt my favorite hobby, and it is a sure way to relieve stress. On the rare occasions where I eat out or order delivery, I end up feeling that I’m missing out by not cooking myself. I have a lot of respect for home-cooked meals not only because are they undoubtedly more nutritious, but because they also taste better. A big part of my love of eating comes from concern for how my meal was cooked and whether quality ingredients were used, something restaurants rarely care about. When you eat out, whether it’s fast food or  a sit-down place, your meal is a product of speed, cost, and efficiency. Taste can be compromised to some degree.

(A simple note – there are certainly restaurants that really do care about the quality of their ingredients and finished meals. I’m writing primarily about popular chain restaurants.)

The majority of people I know hate cooking. To them, it is a chore. So they stock their pantries and freezers with cheap frozen meals and ridiculously processed foods. I feel like such people are missing out, and that they are also passing on an opportunity to easily create for themselves a healthier lifestyle.

I used to live on frozen Amy’s meals and canned veggies. It was by no means an exciting culinary life – and even though I knew that at the time, I figured there was no way I could cook. There were plenty of excuses – I don’t know how, it takes too long, I’m too busy, by the time I get off work I’m too tired, etc., etc.. But then I fundamentally changed the way I ate, and in the process changed my life. Simply by cooking all my meals myself, I shed sixty pounds in less than a year, and I feel amazing. I also discovered I had a love for cooking that will probably last the rest of my life, as well as appreciation and respect for every bite I take.

The misconception that cooking takes too long or that it’s too hard is keeping so many people back. There are plenty of people who hold down full lives and jobs and still find time to cook healthy, home-made meals for themselves and their families.

So here’s a challenge: tonight for dinner, why not skip the dodgy, plastic-wrapped frozen veg patty and whip up a delicious meal yourself? Do you need inspiration? Here’s 10 ideas for healthy, speedy, and delicious meals.

  1. Pizza – whether you use a home-made or good quality whole-wheat pre-made crust, you can any toppings you wish. A few of my favorite ingredients are fresh tomatoes and herbs, olives, mushrooms and broccoli.
  2. Smokey Miso Tofu
  3. Taco salad – just through together tortilla chips, beans, taco seasoning, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa.
  4. Polenta and Tofu Skillet. This is one of my favorites.
  5. Oven-roasted vegetables. Make a tin-foil packet of healthy veggies, a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, and roast in the oven until fragrant. I promise you’ll love it.
  6. Soup! There are thousands of variations and you can use anything you happen to have in the kitchen.
  7. A huge salad. Ideas for ingredients include a variety of greens, seeds and nuts, avocado, raisins, oranges, any vegetable you can think of, and a simple lemon-olive oil-balsamic dressing.
  8. Stir-fry. This is my signature I’m-too-tired-to-cook meal. I use whatever I have, add my favorite spices, a little soy sauce, and serve over rice.
  9. A super-easy and yummy tempeh salad that you can stuff into whole-wheat pitas or serve over a bowl of greens.
  10. And finally, if you absolutely refuse to cook when you get of work, for example, why not cook up a few extra meals on your day off and then freeze them. Then, when you’re too tired to cook, just heat them up! It’s as simple as that!

Raw Banana Ice Cream


I’ve been keeping frozen bananas in my freezer to snack on, but then I found another use for them: ice cream. Gena, of Choosing Raw, wrote about making raw vegan banana soft serve back in June. I tried it out last night for dessert, and… wow. It really was as good as she made it out to be, and I think it’s a great substitute for the much-less-healthy store-bought vegan ice creams (not to mention much cheaper).

I had to let the frozen bananas soften for a couple of minutes before processing them, because my cheap food processor couldn’t handle it at first. But after about 2 minutes, I just blended it up for another minute or so (Gena’s original recipe says 5 minutes – I guess it depends on the equipment you’re using). I also made the chocolate sauce to go with it – delicious.


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