Meatless Monday Chronicles!

I’mmmmm baaacckk!!! Guess what that means?! More fun recipes. Yes, I know my last food post was about salads, but it only seems fitting that my first post of the year, be about salads. We are all eating better for different reasons: to lose weight, to just eat healthy, for blood pressure, heartburn and any other reason.

I have had to continue to inspire myself and come up with more innovative ways to eat plant based. IT is not easy. I am going on 3 solid months of no meat consumption. I must say, how proud I am of my self.

Check out my lunch I made at work today. Yes, I made this whole salad. with all the components.

 

Anything can be an amazing in salads, you just have to get creative! I made this all at work. I took a whole avocado and cut it, strawberries, cut cucumbers, carrots, walnuts, dried cranberries, avocado, and spinach. It seems so simple, but this is so delicious.

What do you put on your salads? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to here you absolute favorite!!

Meatless Monday Chronicles: Who Say’s Salads are Boring?!

Okay, I’ll admit it, I hate salads. Yes, I said it!! I was a ballerina for so long that I was forced to eat salads all the time. However, going meatless does not necessarily mean you HAVE to eat them all the time. It does mean that you can make them more fun!

I know I have been away for a while and I apologize if anyone is still out there!! I have another post that will explain my disappearance.

Salads, what do you use for the base? Well, anything that is green and leafy. You can use regular romaine lettuce, ice berg lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, and more yummy greens!!

Now, that you have your base, just sprinkle on the toppings!!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Base: I used Romaine Lettuce
  • Morningstar Buffalo Chik’n Patty cooked via package directions (this is the only item we are cooking which takes about 20 minutes)
  • Carrots
  • 1 Mandarin (Orange or any other citrus fruit)
  • Strawberries
  • Golden Kiwi ( I did not even know this was a type of of kiwi until last week lol!!)
  • Chia Seeds
  • Walnuts

Dressing:

  • 2 Tbsp Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Agave
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Process

  • Cook the chik’n patty
  • Lay down the lettuce (or whatever green of your choice) in your bowl or plate.
  • Peel the mandarins and slice the strawberries
  • Add the walnuts, strawberries, mandarins, chia seeds, carrots and chopped chik’n patty.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk together.
  • Boooom! Just like that the salad is ready to assemble!!

 

I hope you guys enjoy the salad!! Let me know about any variations you decide wit the salad toppings!! Check out the pictures below!! Happy Meatless Monday!!

 

 

Last Day of Wetlands Month!

Did you know May is called “Wetlands Month”?!

I wish I knew earlier that it was #WetlandsMonth! My entire passion and reason for going to law school is to protect the Everglades. Once, one of the largest wetlands in the state of Florida and in the world!! While in law school I wrote my upper level writing requirement on the everglades and restoring it. In this blog post I will cite to some excerpts from my paper. (DISCLAIMER: Please do not plagiarize. I busted my butt for two years working on it and intend to be published, okay thanks!) Fun Fact: My logo picture is of the Everglades. I went there 3 years ago to get more information on the Everglades and what is being done to protect and restore it.

Being a native Floridian from Miami, the Everglades is very near and dear to my heart, so are the protections for it. Knowing the south Florida continues to destroy the everglades is one of the reasons I decided politics may be where my career lies. Now, I live in Orlando, but who knew my drive for protecting the Everglades would have grown with the physical distance. I actually live in the wetlands in Orlando. Also, the headwaters of the Everglades is located in Kissimmee, Florida. Yes, the Everglades used to encompass more than a third of the state. Now, it barely covers the south eastern portion of the state.

What is a wetland?

A wetland is an area where much of the land is submerged in water or covered in water. It maintains this state for much of it’s duration through out the wet and dry seasons. A wetland is home to an array of animals and plant life. Many of which are not found anywhere else in the world. More specifically, the Everglades was formed over 100,000 years ago! (Book I cite in my paper!)

Purpose of a Wetland

From an ecocentric perspective, it has a right to exist solely for its on inherent value. Meaning, it is natural and should exist on its own. Wetlands are one of the only ecological systems that brings forth various forms of life into one area to coexist. The Florida Everglades is one of the only places where you may find the American Crocodile and Alligator in the same place.

A wetland is one of the key sources of potable (drinking) water. Rain and run off waters seep into the ground through the marshes and then down into the limestone. This is the purest form of cleaning pollutants and contaminants out of the water. This beautifully, naturally filtered water eventually ends up in our aquifers. An aquifer is underground layer of permeable rock, which essentially acts as holding tank for water. (Over the years the water table has been dredged by huge conglomerates in processing bottled water. (I’ll go off that tangent another day).

Pretty much, wetlands act as a natural sponge to soak up all contaminants and then create purified drinking water! So, why are we destroying it?!

Destroyers of the Everglades: Big Sugar and Corporations

Again, these are people who have no regard for the sanctity of nature to just exist. Further, they have only one goal: money.

Big Sugar, refers to the huge lobbying industry in the state of Florida. A lot of the agricultural land near Lake Okeechobee is owned by sugar cane farmers. They are heavily subsidized by our government! Why? Obesity. (again, another tangent). The East Agricultural Area, is all sugar land. Much of this run of water from the pesticides and over use of phosphorus end up in the lake. The lake once connected tot he beautiful “River of Grass”, but has stopped. There are many proponents to release the headwaters back from Kissimmee, but the issue is the pollution.

IF those waters are released from the lake the will transfer polluted water into what is left of the wetlands. High levels of phosphorus allow for invasive plant species to thrive. Additionally, these high volumes are too much for the depleted wetland to clean. This also creates algae build up, which in turn blocks oxygen in the water. No oxygen, then the plant and animal life begin to suffer. Thus, creating a catastrophic chain of events. Single handily we are destroying an entire eco-system that existed long before humans ever “conquered” these lands.

What will you do to help protect our innocent Wetlands? Remember, Florida is not the only place with wetlands, they are found all over, but are being destroyed at an alarming rate by human sprawling and the need to create farms everywhere…for profit.

Profits will not protect the environment, nor will it prevent destruction of innocent sentient beings throughout the world. Will you be a part of the solution? To protect, preserve and restore!!

Meatless Monday Chronicles: It’s Grillin’ Time!

Most of the time people think grilling is only for carnivores. Well, that is not true! Anything and everything can be grilled. I absolutely love grilling veggies. It equals zero fat. No oil, no butter (if you’re just vegetarian or trying something new). It is literally just the fire, some water in a spray or squeeze bottle.

I know I have not been on in a week and I apologize! My life kind of took over and I needed to focus on some outside matters. Trying to get my posts where there recurring frequently on their own! Woot woot, trying to be tech savvy.

Today’s menu: Grilled veggie skewers, grilled corn, smashed potatoes and a grilled veggie burger! Yum-a-licious and protein packed.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Broccoli and Cauliflower cut in big chunks
  • 2 ears of corn (or more if you’re doing a larger group)
  • 1/2 pound of petite creamer potatoes
  • 1 Boca Burger Veggie Burger
  • handful of small baby bella mushrooms
  • 4 wood skewers for shikabobs (Soaked in cold water- the longer the better!)
  • Dill weed (dry seasoning)
  • salt and pepper

 

Process:

  • Turn your grill on to medium/hight heat!
  • Turn the stove on and fill a large pot with water and bring to roaring boil.
  • Add the potatoes to the boiling water.
  • Meanwhile, take the ears of corns and peel the harder husk away, leaving a thin layer.
  • You always want to put the corn first on the grill because it takes a longer time to cook.
    • *cooking tip: If you are pressed for time, boiling corn is the fastest way to cook them!
    • *cooking tip: If you don’t have a grill, but still want to infuse flavor. Peel the corn entirely and coat with olive oil and some seasonings then wrap in foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes!
  • Now, grab your skewers that have been soaking in cold water.
    • *why!? to prevent the skewers from burning! Typically you want over 2 hours of soaking, but a good 15 minutes soak works as well.
  • Take your rinsed, clean veggies and stack them up on the skewer.
  • Now, put them on the grill, near your corn that is still cooking.
  • By now, you may be freaking out because the husk has caught on fire. That is OKAY! Just grab your spray or squeeze bottle of water and saturate it. This will also help with the steam effect to help cook the corn.
  • Also, great time to add your Boca Burger to the grill (spray lightly with cooking spray so it does not stick or fall apart when you flip. Make sure you use a spatula and not tongs-I learned the hard crumbly way lol!)
  • Don’t forget your potatoes that are boiling! (Isn’t cooking fun!)
  • Stab them with a fork to see if they are tender, if so, strain them in the sink! (Good way to get some anger out!)
  • Throw the potatoes back in the pan and get potato masher and just do a quick hard smash. Here, I added the dill weed with a little salt and black pepper. (you can add butter here if you want or some olive oil).
  • Cardio time! Run back out to the grill. Your corn, skewers, and Boca Burger should be done!
  • Best part…ASSEMBLE and Eat!!

 

I hope you find my recipe fun and entertaining. Yes, I do speak the way I type with excitement. It truly is my personality! Let me know how you like this simple, grilling creation.

 

Check out the pics belowwww!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday Chronicles: What’s that Quinoa Thing?!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late start, or late post. It has been one heck of a Monday! I have been a little under the weather, so my food is kind of like comfort food today.

Today,  I used quinoa. I know what is this weird grain thing that all veggie and vegan people eat. I literally put it in everything from, “fried rice”, pancakes, eggs, brownies, I mean pretty much anything. It truly is a fantastic grain. It has a lot of antioxidants, which are great for your skin and fighting free radicals in the body. There is also a lot of protein in this enriched, ancient grain. The ancient people of Peru utilized this grain.

The dark truth of quinoa’s ever growing popularity, is that this food source was once a staple in Peru. However, today this grain now costs more than rice in their country because it is of only high demand in the United States and other more advanced countries. This has hurt the populations because they now lack access to their own natural food source. How do you make the right choice? Look for free-trade brands when you are shopping. It is the best for the environment and the surrounding people. Remember this is all our planet and we all deserve the riches she provides.

Enough of my soap box. What do you do with quinoa?! Well, you can cook it as the package instructs with water. This is best when you are going to use the quinoa for some other purpose. Such as pancakes (I’ll teach this recipe soon!)

For today, I used it in its normal form, a grain or a starch for my meal. Let’s start!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Quinoa 1 cup
  • Vegetable broth 2 cups
  • 3 big Idaho potatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of a diced onion
  • half a bunch of asparagus

Seasoning for Potatoes (Perfect side as wedges/fries)

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • you can always add more if you prefer more flavor!

 

Process:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees for the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes long way to make nice even strips or wedge shape.
  • To prevent from turning brown, place potatoes in a bowl of ice water. This helps remove a lot of starch and helps in the cooking process.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Place your wedges on the sheet and add the seasonings.
  • Mix them up with your hands and then throw in the oven for 15 minutes, then flip and return for 15 minutes.

 

  • While the potatoes are cooking let’s move on to the rest.
  • Chop your onion and throw in a medium sized skillet.
  • Peel the carrots and cut on a diagonal and cut the ends off the asparagus.
  • Then rinse the carrots and asparagus.
  • Bring the onion to a nice sauté and then add the rest of the veggies.
  • Meanwhile, in another medium size saucepan. Heat some olive oil.
  • Add the 1 cup of quinoa to the pot and let it get toasted, like you would pasta or rice. Gives it an extra earthy flavor.
  • Then add the 2 cups of vegetable stock. This also adds new flavor to the quinoa, which is a lot like a sponge and absorbs what ever flavors you put in it.
  • Let it boil and then simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

Serve:

  • Throw the quinoa at the bottom of your dish.
  • Add the veggies on top and the potatoes, there is your quick and easy  beginner quinoa meal!!

 

Check out some photos of the process. Let me know what else you like to put quinoa in!

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Meatless Monday Chronicles: Butternut Squash Soup!

I am still figuring out this whole blog website thing…however, I want to create a recipe corner! (Just not sure how to make the menu thingy work). I am always concocting new creations. I have been obsessed with the kitchen since I was five. My mother said the first thing I learned was to push the dining chair into the kitchen and get to the counter. She would catch me peeling and stuffing boiled eggs in my face.

Then elementary school summer break came along, guess who loved reading books of all kinds?! Yup, cookbooks too. Very first, unsupervised thing I made was fudge. Boy was it delicious! My mom was impressed, yet terrified because I was cooking and boiling hot sugar…of course, I did not do that unsupervised again. I did learn to be really messy in the kitchen, which did not go so well with mom either. What can I say, I live by organized chaos! (I’ve learned to clean more haha).

My inspiration for this recipe is my mom. She has been vegetarian for over 30 years, maybe longer. As I got older, I perfected meat dishes for my dad (do not cook meat anymore), but I wanted to create unique things for my mom too. So, I combined a lot of my favorite orange things and thus called it soup!! Yup, as creative as it gets sometimes lol.

My mom is from the beautiful small island of Trinidad and Tobago, so, making a “Butternut Squash Soup” was definitely not a normal thing, but she was excited to try it! I have been making it the same ever since!

# of ingredients: 5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Butternut Squash (1/2 pound)
  • Sweet Potatoes (2 medium size)
  • Carrots (3, peeled)
  • Veggie Stock (homemade or store bought – 3 cups)
  • Olive Oil Spray (or mister if you have one)

 

Directions:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots into similar size chunks.
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  • Place all the orange veggies on the sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Use a long wooden skewer to pierce the veggies. If it goes through, they are ready to come out of the oven.
  • Heat a pot with 1 1/2 cup of veggie stock and bring to a boil.
  • Add all your veggies, (here, you can add some other fresh veggies like onion or fennel to give a different flavor!)
  • Bring to a nice simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Turn the stove off, and get your blender ready! I have a NinjaChef, which was an awesome Christmas present!
  • I used the soup setting first and yes it will look like small lumpy mashed veggies, that is okay!
  • Don’t forget that reserved vegetable stock! Start to add that liquid to your veggies to help them move around the blender.
  • I do it in half portions to not exceed the “hot liquid” warning and to ensure smooth soup texture!
  • Once, all has turned into mush, add the last 1/2 cup of vegetable stock to the blender and put on the puree setting!
  • It is like magic, no more mushy, just silk smooth soup!
  • You can store in a freezer proof container for up to a month! I always divide my portions for lunch, dinner, and a lazy day in the future, i.e. freezer.

Below are some pictures from my Meatless Monday Chronicles! Tune in next week for another fun creation!

Remember, there is nothing to being an amazing home chef! Healthy meals are quick, simple, and low maintenance ingredients, they also do not have to break the bank!

Notice, there was no salt or sugar in this recipe! You get all the natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes and the carrots. Also, the butternut squash gives you amazing flavor and texture. This is a sure fire healthy meal, whether you are on a diet, trying to be vegetarian or vegan, or just want to try something new!

 

Hope you enjoy!! Come back for more Meatless Monday Chronicles!!

 

~Elizabeth Gosein-Vasquez