Day 13: OUR VERY FIRST MEAT-LESS AND NON DAIRY THANKSGIVING!

Wow! I don’t even know where to start! This was our very first Thanksgiving being away from family in Virginia Beach. We woke up and counted our blessings. So thankful for many things. God has been beyond amazing to us this year. It was a great day and we made the most out of it! It began with volunteering at our church in San Diego, Horizon, with the homeless people. It was an amazing experience. Being with the needy on Thanksgiving is a tradition for us now and we really felt great helping others. 

After church, we came home and I began cooking up our Thanksgiving meal. Turkey-less roast from Trader Joes. It was the most interesting looking thing I have ever seen! Here is the box..

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I am not going to lie, Travis and I felt very nervous about this, but we wanted to try it out! We are all about being open minded… so we bought it! I cut up carrots, potatoes, and celery and through some seasonings in with it and this is what it looked like before going into the oven…

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I put it in the oven for 60 minutes and then began making the CLEAN GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. Wow! I found this website at: 

http://detoxinista.com/2012/11/clean-green-bean-casserole-vegan-paleo/

Let me tell you… it was unbelievable how long the process took to make it ( I am so use to making the processed, bad for you, green bean casserole out cans and throwing it in the oven )… this bad boy took me about 45 minutes to just prepare to be put into the oven, but let me tell you, it was worth it!!!! Here is the recipe:

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Clean Green Bean Casserole (Vegan, Paleo)
Author: Detoxinista.com
Prep time:  1 hour
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  1 hour 30 mins 
Serves: 9-12
 Featuring fresh green beans and caramelized onions, this homemade green bean casserole is just about as clean as it gets. Rather than relying on a cream-based soup, it’s held together by a creamy puree of parsnips and mushrooms! The caramelized onion topping still delivers the buttery onion flavor that we all love, without the deep-fried grease and flour to go along with it. All of our favorite flavors covered, without the heavy food-coma to follow!
Ingredients
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, or butter
  • 2 cups parsnips, chopped
  • 10 oz. mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
Instructions
  1. Melt a pat of coconut oil, or butter, in a large skillet and add the sliced onions. Saute gently over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until caramelized. Use a splash of water, as needed, to prevent sticking. Once the onions are tender and golden in color, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl for later.
  2. While the onions are cooking, you’ll have plenty of time to steam the parsnips. Fit a steamer basket into a saucepan, and fill with one inch of water. Add the 2 cups of chopped parsnips, and bring the water to boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to low, steaming for about 8 minutes, or until the parsnips are easily pierced with a fork. Transfer the steamed parsnips to your blender container, and set it aside.
  3. Using the same steamer basket and saucepan, break the pound of fresh green beans into one-inch pieces, and toss them into the steamer basket. Bring to a boil, then cover and steam for 6-8 minutes, until the green beans are bright green with a bit of crunch. Transfer the cooked green beans to an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish.
  4. *Note: At this point, cook the green beans to be as tender as you like– if you prefer them softer, steam them longer. The baking process later will not make them any more tender, so this is your chance to achieve the texture you like.
  5. Once the onions have finished caramelizing, you can use the same pan to saute the mushrooms and garlic. Melt another pat of coconut oil or butter, and saute the garlic for about 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for about 6 minutes, until liquid is released from the mushrooms.
  6. Spread half of the mushroom mixture into the baking dish of green beans, and pour the other half of the mixture, along with any liquid, into the blender container with the steamed parsnips.
  7. Into that blender container, add 1½ cups water, 1½ teaspoons sea salt and ¼ cup of nutritional yeast to the cooked parsnips and mushrooms. Blend until smooth and creamy. (This mixture may be a bit salty to taste at this point, but keep in mind that it will be diluted when it’s poured over a pound of green beans!)
  8. Pour the creamy sauce over the green beans and mushrooms in the glass baking dish, and stir to coat well. (You may very well have more sauce than you need for this recipe– I only used about 1½ cups to coat the vegetables well. Save the rest for a future dish!)
  9. Smooth the creamy vegetable mixture with a spatula, and top with the caramelized onions to finish.
  10. *At this point, you could cover the dish and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to heat and serve.
  11. When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes, until bubbly. Serve warm and enjoy!

I followed everything word for word in this recipe, except I cut it in half because it was just Travis, me, and our friend Shelby. It ended up being wonderful! I highly suggest it! It is so fresh tasting and everything in it that I used was organic and fresh out of the garden this week! Amazing stuff! The nutritional yeast really made it creamy and it made me feel satisfied all the way. 

Here is the table before we ate…

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Shelby, our friend, came over for dinner and was a bit scared ( just like we were ) to try a full Vegan meal for Thanksgiving. WE ALL LOVED IT! I couldn’t believe how good it was.The gravy was exquisite! I am a huge homemade gravy gal, I need to figure out how to make it homemade. It came in the Trader Joe’s set. Not only was it flavorful, but it was HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS! I am the first to tell if something did not turn out well. I must say, I am still in complete shock about it all. We were just super excited…

Then it was time for PUMPKIN PIE…

I found the recipe from here: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/desertrecipes/r/tofupumpkinpie.htm

THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST PUMPKIN PIE WE HAVE EVER HAD!! I switched a few things up because it was suggested in one of the reviews… it turned out perfect!!! Here it is…

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FABULOUS Vegan Pumpkin Pie:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound silken (soft) tofu
  • 1 16 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 pre-made pie crust

Preparation:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients, except for pie crust, in a food process or blender and process until smooth. Pour into pie crust.

Bake for one hour.

Chill before serving and top with whipped cream or non-dairy whipped cream if desired.

This is what I changed: I added 2 tbps of honey and used firm tofu drained. I also used a total of 30 oz of plain organic pumpkin in the can. The honey gave it just enough kick to remove the soy after taste. I also added two tbsp of cornstarch to the mix. I placed all of my ingredients into my blender on liquify to make it completely smooth. 

 

TRAVIS WAS SO SHOKED! This is his favorite pie, this time of year. He gives it 5 stars! I highly suggest trying it out : )

We had a great Thanksgiving, missed family and friends back home so so much, but it will be one we remember forever… a Thanksgiving made of compassion, love, and a VEGAN meal : )

 

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Day 10: A world of possibilities

So many people think that becoming a vegan, even just cutting out meat from ones diet, drastically reduces the amount of options that you have when choosing what you are going to eat.   I think that this is a terrible misconception.  The truth is that there are so many fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, roots, and other whole foods that you and I have never even heard of.  The abundance of natural food on earth is incredible!  In becoming vegan, Danielle and I have exercised our creativity when it comes to cooking and thus diversified what we are consuming.  The variety of food that we’re eating has increased so dramatically!  We are having so much fun exploring all of these wonderful foods that we only dabbled in or did not even know existed before.

So yesterday we ate Oatmeal Cranberry pancakes again.  If you have been following our blogs then you have already seen that recipe.  We already told you how good they taste. Our eating them again is testament too that.

For Lunch and dinner we ate my new favorite dish.  I had a feeling it was going to be fantastic, so when Danielle was putting the recipe together she said I’ll just double it for 4 servings.  I said why don’t we quadruple that sucker!  Thats just what we did!

Whole-Wheat Macaroni & Sweet Potato Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cooked noodles (according to package instructions)
  • 1/2 baked sweet potato
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and 1/2 tbsp of olive oil for crust

In a medium-sized bowl combine the sweet potato half, juice of half a lemon, mustard, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Fold 1 cup of cooked noodles into the sweet potato “cheese”.

Place the mixture into a serving-size baking dish.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast over the dish and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. This will allow the top to crisp while cooking.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Serve and enjoy!

It tasted like normal Macaroni and cheese, but with way more distinct flavors.  If I were to eat as much regular Mac n cheese as I did this, I would have had to sit on the couch for an hour afterwards.  Danielle and I both felt great!   I heated up some today and it was just as marvelous!

We found out today that our apartment managers are going to release us from the lease early because of all of the issues that we have had.  I am not going to get into all of that, but this definitely means that we will commence on our expedition across the country in about 10 days!  We are getting so excited!  It will include but is not limited to…

Big Sur

Santa Cruz

San Francisco

Wine tasting in Napa

Yosemite if the weather permits

Hiking in Utah

Josh Garrels concert in Boulder Colorado

honky tonk with Paul Secord

we are bringing our Vitamix and our juicer!

Stay tuned!

We will absolutely keep you guys posted on that!

Day 9… I AM IN LOVE WITH NUTRITIONAL YEAST!!!

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Wow! I can’t even begin to explain my feelings for nutritional yeast. Its SO AMAZING! Thank goodness we have been introduced to this delicious and healthy goodness. Honestly, I don’t have to ever have cheese again! Not only does adding nutritional yeast to things make it healthy because of the B12 in it, but it also makes it creamy!!! Mmmm! I highly suggest buying some ASAP because your life is about to change!!!!

Here are details about it from Wikipedia.com:

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. It’s sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder similar in texture to cornmeal, and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.[1]

It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein. It is also naturally low in fat and sodium and is free of sugardairy, and gluten. Sometimes nutritional yeast is fortified with Vitamin B12.

Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. It can be used in many recipes in place of cheese, such as mashed and fried potatoes, as well as put into scrambled tofu as a substitute for scrambled eggs. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn. Some movie theaters offer it along with salt orcayenne pepper as a popcorn condiment.[2]

In Australia it is sometimes sold as “savoury yeast flakes.” In New Zealand, it has long been known as Brufax. In the United States it is sometimes referred to as “nooch”, or “yeshi,” an Ethiopian name meaning “for a thousand”. Though “nutritional yeast” usually refers to commercial products, inadequately fed prisoners of war have used “home-grown” yeast to prevent vitamin deficiency.[3] Nutritional yeast is different from yeast extract, which has a very strong flavour and comes in the form of a dark brown paste.

I also found a wonderful website about how to use it in 20 different ways! Check this out!!

 

Taking an odd ingredient and finding even more unusual uses for it.

It’s not so much that the following uses are particularly unusual, but rather that nutritional yeast itself is an odd ingredient. It’s gaining popularity among foodies for its cheesy taste and nutritional benefits, but it still has a way to go in terms of becoming the pantry staple it’s meant to be. Nutritional yeast (nooch) is one of the only non-animal sources of vitamin B-12. It only takes 1/2-1 tbsp of nutritional yeast to get the daily requirement for B-12. Nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, chromium, selenium, and other minerals as well as 18 amino acids, protein, folic acid, biotin, and other vitamins.

And don’t worry about the yeast fermenting in your gut. It’s deactivated, so it will not give you the bloat. This is what distinguishes it from Brewer’s Yeast, which has not been deactivated.

Pop Corn

As if popcorn couldn’t get any more addicting, nooch had to get involved. Sprinkle the powder along with a drizzle olive oil and a dash of sea salt onto popcorn just popped for a cheesy touch. Add other spices, such as garlic powder, dried thyme or dried rosemary for an even more gourmet experience.

Pizza

Skip cheese and sprinkle a light layer of nutritional yeast onto pizza just after it leaves the oven. Cheese is hard to digest, especially when cooked, but that doesn’t mean you have to cede the taste completely. If you top a pizza with diverse textures and flavors, such as a robust marinara sauce, roasted vegetables and nutritional yeast, the cheese component is unnecessary.

Vegan Cheese Sauce

The food blog world is bursting with vegan “cheese” recipes – some simple, some elaborate – with nutritional yeast as the key ingredient. Check out Angela’s Low-Fat Vegan Cheeze Sauce on her blog Oh She Glows for a 5-ingredient approach. Head over to Epicurian Vegan for aheartier vegan cheese sauce that gets some extra bulk from cashews.

Bread Crumbs

Replace bread crumbs with nutritional yeast in any mixture requiring holding power. This cuts down on the carbs and adds an extra bite. Try using nutritional yeast to hold together veggie burgers or any other patty that would normally require bread crumbs.

Kale Chips

There’s nothing wrong with the standard kale chip recipe. But, nutritional yeast takes kale chips to a whole new level – a level that merits obsession and daily consumption. Try your hand at the Spicy & Cheesy Kale Chipspresented by the blog Eating Bird Food.

Macaroni & Cheese

We’ve already given macaroni and cheese a serious makeover, and nutritional yeast was an crucial player in this feat. Not only is this recipevegan, but thanks to nooch, it offers cheesy comfort to a creamy, sweet potato base.

Pasta

Skip the grated parmesan and sprinkle nutritional yeast atop warm pasta along with some garlic powder and a drizzle of olive oil. The combination of flavors makes for a dish that doesn’t miss a thing.

Mashed Potatoes

Stir nooch into mashed potatoes, not only saving calories by nixing cheese but also cutting down on the sodium. Indeed, mashed potatoes can be healthy.

Bean Dip

Emily Malone of the blog Daily Garnish makes a fabulous bean dip using nutritional yeast. If serving this at a party, no one would even be able to tell its vegan.

Roasted Vegetables

One of my favorite go-to meals is roasted vegetables topped with shredded cheese. On days I’d like to skip the cheese and opt for a healthier alternative, I stir nutritional yeast into the finished vegetables instead. When warmed by the vegetables, the yeast smoothens out and creates a creamy sauce with help from the vegetable juices and oils.

Roasted Nuts

Roast nuts that have been tossed in some nutritional yeast. The roasted flavor will be augmented and the nuts will have a slightly cheesy coating on the skin.

Onion Rings

Nutritional yeast has been showing up in onion ring recipes, and for good reason. It helps to increase the nutritional benefit of onion ring batter and adds an edge to each bite. Make the baked fat-free onion rings featured on vegan blog My Whole Deal.

Sauce Thickener

Much like flour and butter are used to thicken a sauce, nutritional yeast can replace the flour to do the same thing.

Gravy

Keeping your health on track during the holidays is all about cutting corners in small ways. Nutritional yeast can redefine gravy. Bring thissimple recipe to the table and the cheer will only heighten.

Salad Dressing

Sneak in your B12 quota is by adding a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to a homemade salad dressing like the Hollyhock Salad Dressing, which you can find on A Passionate Plate blog.

French Fries

Want some added nutrition, crisp, and kick to a homemade version of baked French fries? Drizzle olive oil over cut root vegetables and then toss them in a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast. The flavor is out of this world.

Creamy Cooked Greens

Cooked spinach pairs well with cream and cheese, but you can replace those heavier add-ins with a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast and then watch as the bare spinach suddenly becomes decadently creamy and bold in flavor.

Vegan Quiche

Experiment with this No-Soy Vegan Quiche recipe from blog Triumph Wellness. It’s the perfect example of where just a little bit of nooch makes a big difference.

Dog Food

Dogs need their vitamin B12 too, especially if your dog is on a plant-based diet. Mix some nutritional yeast in your furry friend’s nibbles and he or she will benefit in a major way.

Baby Formula

If a baby is using formula in place of breast feeding, it is recommended to add nutritional yeast to the infant formula.  Nutritional yeast provides B12, iron and folic acid, which are essential to growth.

 

Travis and I are in the process of trying everything on this website! It was so helpful and I can’t wait to explore more amazing ideas with this oh so tasty amazing-ness.

 

The dressing I made the other night, Nutri Garlic, was out of this world! We have a whole jar left and I just add it in with our veggies… I am convinced that Nutritional Yeast is a miracle from God. Amen.

Day 5: Bring on the challenge!!

Wow! Day 5 of this Vegan Fast is a lot more intense than expected. Well, I say that, but we did expect it somewhat. Travis has had a HORRIBLE headache today and we have both been quite moody. We can still power through this though! Drinking a lot of water and staying as positive as possible has been helping us through. For breakfast Travis made a “Tropic Tango Smoothie” and some toast with almond butter. The Smoothie can be found on Vitamix’s website. Very delish!!

We have a lot going on, workwise, recently. So we ran a lot of errands and did a lot of things today, then Travis got super hungry and came home to eat with a headache and very frustrated. Trader Joe’s Veggie Chili and rice was the answer to our hunger and a quick thing to heat up over the stove for a fast lunch. It was very yummy, but I missed sour cream and cheese SO BAD!!!! Then I made the same smoothie I came up with yesterday for a taste after the Chili. I feel like the feelings of missing cheese and sour cream goes away quick when we are gulping down a fresh green smoothie. Mmm!

Travis had a little bit of a breakdown this evening. He said that he needs to eat a burrito and some steak. Now, if you know my husband, you would know that he does not love steak. He never has really… he enjoys it, but never craves it. Well today, he craved a CARNE ASADA Burrito, cheese, quesadilla’s, nacho cheese, goat cheese, gouda cheese, etc. I told him he sounded like Bubba from Forrest Gump, except not with shrimp… with cheese! “Cheese cocktail, nacho cheese, burrito cheese, mexican cheese…” haha. Anyways, I told him to calm down and I would make him a yummy dinner, while he relaxed in bed to get rid of his headache. I also read online that fresh grape juice helps with migraines, so I made some for him and brought it to him in bed. For dinner I was feeling very creative! So I made a Black Bean, Olive, Temph, Mushroom, Onion, Rice, and Cilantro dish. It turned out very good! I sauteed all of it together and just kind of through stuff in as it felt right! Wow… it was tasty and I think Travis’ headache is gone! I also added some nutritional yeast into the dish, to help with vitamin B12 ( thanks Rene!!:) )

I don’t have any pictures to post this evening because we are in a huge rush to get out the door, but I wanted to make sure I did the blog and put down our symptoms. It has been a challenging day, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

Tomorrow is a new day : )