Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Frugal Vegan Meal Plan 1

Since we have recently become a one income family, I thought I would start posting what we are eating as a family on a tight budget. Being vegan can be expensive if you rely on packaged/prepared foods or insist on buying all organic produce. However, if you cook at home from scratch, focus on grains, potatoes, beans and cheaper veggies and fruit, it can actually be way cheaper. Meat and dairy are expensive! I'd like to show that this way of eating can not only be beneficial for your health, but also your budget. Being vegan or plant based is not just a way of eating for the wealthy, but can actually be a great relief for people with limited income. Not to mention the health care costs you will save from adapting a healthier diet. 

I know that food costs can vary greatly depending on where you live. I'm near Seattle, and I have been shopping at Trader Joes and Fred Meyer, usually. I've recently discovered what an amazing place Winco is for all their bulk grains/flours/nuts and other products, and I'm excited to see how much my grocery bill drops next week!

Here is what we're eating for dinner this week:

1. Spanish Rice and Bean Tacos from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, with tofu sour cream, corn tortillas, avocado, salsa, chopped romaine and tomatoes.


3. Brown rice penne, jarred spaghetti sauce with mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper and kale. Add salad.

4. No Fu Love LoafRoasted Sweet Potatoes and steamed broccoli

5. BEST Lentil and Tomato Soup (this mostly for our lunches)

For breakfast, we eat oatmeal with some kind of fruit in it. I made waffles for the kids breakfasts. 
Lunch for the grown ups is soup, leftovers or a veggie sandwich. The kids usually eat a sandwich with veggies (cucumbers, carrots or peas mostly) and fruit. This week, I did one shopping trip and spent less than $125. Up until recently I was allotting like $200/week for groceries and household items, so that was a HUGE improvement! We've had plenty to eat and we love these meals.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Healthy Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes







If your kids will go for a bowl of oatmeal and flaxseeds every day, then good for them. But if they still haven't fallen in love with that idea, try these delicious pancakes made with oatmeal instead!
I make a bunch of these on the weekend, and my kids enjoy them for breakfast all week long. They also taste great with a little peanut butter spread on top and rolled up like a burrito (fun lunchbox idea!!). I feel good about the oats and flaxseeds the kids are getting in these pancakes. Serve plain, with nut butter, maple syrup or date syrup on top. Or top with a bunch of blueberries. The best part about these is that my kid's LOVE them!

Healthy Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:

4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt 
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
6 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk
3 tablespoons applesauce
3 tablespoons sugar, or maple syrup, or 8 medjool dates
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender, like a Vitamix, and blend until very smooth. Allow to sit for 10 minutes so the mixture can thicken. If it is very thick, add water and blend again until desired consistency is reached. I like mine pretty thin, so I added about 1/2 cup of water.

Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Spray the pan lightly with oil if necessary. Pour the pancake batter onto the pan and cook until the sides are dry and the bottom is nicely browned. Using a spatula, very carefully flip the pancake over. Cook until this side is lightly browned as well. These pancakes are more delicate than most wheat pancakes, so be careful when flipping.

This recipe usually makes about 25-28 medium pancakes. Feel free to halve or third the recipe if you don't want leftovers! I stick mine in a large freezer bag once they are completely cooled, and place in the freezer. 
 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chocolate Nut Brownies




After tasting these Chocolate Nut Brownies, you would never guess what's in them. Carrots? Spinach? Squash? Sweet Potatoes? That's just crazy! But that's what's in these wonderful brownies. You can't taste the veggies AT ALL, but they are all there. They're also made with spelt flour, and only sweetened with fruit.

These are not a super sweet dessert, and I wouldn't expect that they taste exactly like a store bought brownie mix, but they are moist, chocolately and delicious. My kids really liked these; I'll definitely be making them often. They are to die for with Macadamia Cream on top, or even a little nut butter on top. YUM. Adapted from www.drfurhman.com.

Chocolate Nut Brownies

This recipe makes two 9 by 13 pans of brownies. You could cut the recipe in half, but I like it this way so I can freeze half. They're nice to have on hand for a quick snack or dessert, especially for kids. 

Ingredients:

2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup steamed baby carrots(or regular carrots)
1 4 oz jar baby food squash
1 4 oz jar baby food sweet potatoes
1 4 oz jar baby food apricots
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup baby spinach
3 cups dates, pitted
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds in 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

1. Mix the ground chia and water in a small bowl, set aside. Lightly spray two 9 by 13 dishes or one large jelly roll pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Mix well. Mix in the walnuts or pecans. Set aside.

3. Add the steamed carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, pineapple, applesauce, baby spinach, pitted dates and the chia seed mixture to a high powered blender. Blend for a few minutes, until very smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and the balsamic vinegar.

4. Now add the pureed mixture to the flour ingredients. Mix by hand but do not over mix.

5. Pour the mixture equally into the pans. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Cool completely before serving for best results. These really do taste much better when they have been refrigerated overnight. Store in the fridge for several days, or freeze some for later.

*To freeze: After the brownies cool completely, cut into squares, wrap each brownie in cling wrap and place in a large freezer bag.


Macadamia Nut Cream

1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup OR 2/3 cup medjool dates, pitted

Blend in high powered blender until smooth. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Mix a tablespoon into your morning oatmeal for a real treat. Or dip strawberries in it. This really is the best healthy whip cream ever.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Savory Tahini Dressing


Have you tried a tahini based salad dressing yet? Tahini makes a great base for dressings and sauces. It gives you a rich texture and flavor without needing any oil at all. If you like your dressings a little on the sweeter side, then try my Maple Tahini Dressing. But if your looking for something a little more savory with a garlic kick, then give this one a try. This is great on salads, but I prefer it drizzled over steamed broccoli. I can't wait to try it with cooked kale, the possibilities for this dressing are endless!

Savory Tahini Dressing

Ingredients:

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup low sodium tamari or soy sauce
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/8 cup water, depending on the consistency of your tahini

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients except for the water in a blender (or food processor) until smooth. You could also just whisk all the ingredients in a bowl.  Add water until desired consistency is reached. I used 1/8 cup water and my dressing stayed quite thin and was perfect over steamed vegetables.


 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vegan No Oil Potato Salad




Creamy, classic potato salad. But I've taken out all the "bad for you" ingredients, and replaced them with health promoting ingredients. Instead of eggs and oil (mayonnaise) you get silken tofu and cashews. Tastes better than the SAD (Standard American Diet) version, and it will leave you feeling light and energized, instead of heavy and tired. I took this to a potluck, and it was gone within 15 minutes. No one will know it's vegan, I promise! Dressing for the potato salad adapted a little from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

Vegan No Oil Potato Salad

Ingredients:

10 cups cubed peeled yellow potatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste, optional

1 12.3 ounce package silken tofu
1/2 cup raw cashews
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard, dijon or regular

Instructions:

1. Place the potato cubes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Once they are tender, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. Next, place the chopped red bell pepper, green onions, celery and red onion to a large bowl. Add the potatoes to the vegetables and mix together.

3. Make the dressing: Put the silken tofu, cashews, lemon juice and mustard in a high powered blender and blend until very smooth. Add salt to taste if desired.

4. Pour the dressing onto the potatoes and vegetables and mix well. Add the fresh parsley, pepper and salt to taste and mix until well combined. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Black Bean Brownies



 
I've tried some really awful black bean brownies in the past. The first couple of recipes I tried were barely edible! These are the opposite of that. I'm pretty sure I could eat the whole pan if I wasn't slowed down by kids wanting another brownie. These brownies are perfect, you can't tell they're made with black beans. These are the much healthier version of the fudgey, chocolatey brownies you desire, and they happen to be gluten free. Give them a try! My kids have no idea that these are a "healthy" brownie. Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie.

Black Bean Brownies

Ingredients:

2 cans black beans, low or no sodium, drained and rinsed well
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup quick cooking oats (gluten free if needed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup organic sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 to 1 cup vegan chocolate chips, optional

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9 by 13 pan with oil. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a really good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. This will take a couple of minutes, make sure there are no whole beans left and it is VERY smooth. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in batches. Add mixture to a large bowl and mix in the chocolate chips, as desired.  Pour into the greased pan and add additional chips on top for presentation if desired. Cook for 20 minutes, then let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Apple Currant Confetti Salad



Confetti salad or micro salad, they both refer to a salad that has been pulsed in a food processor into tiny pieces. I love these sorts of salads for many reasons. One, a salad like this makes it super easy to eat a ton of veggies in one sitting that I wouldn't normally eat, such as raw broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. Second, these salads are much easier on digestion since everything is chopped so small. Third, they are quicker to eat which is great when I'm in a hurry at work and have to eat fast. I also love that I don't need any salad dressing with this salad, and I can make a ton over the weekend to eat all week long. This will stay really well in the fridge for several days.

You can eat this as is, or for added nutrition use it as a topping for salad greens, and even add some garbanzo beans for a complete meal. Inspired by Oh She Glows and Dr. Furhman.

Apple Currant Confetti Salad

Ingredients:

2 heads of broccoli, stems removed
1 small to medium head cauliflower, stems removed
3 large carrots, cut into smaller 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsely
1 apple, cored and cut into 4-5 pieces
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup currants
2 medium lemons, juiced or 4-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

In a food processor, chop the broccoli with the S blade until fine, like pieces of confetti. Add to a large bowl.

Process the cauliflower until fine, then the carrots and add both to the large bowl with the broccoli.

Put the apple pieces and the coarsely chopped parsley in the food processor and pulse until they are both in very small pieces. Add this to the bowl.

Stir in the sunflower seeds, currants and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy immediately or store in the fridge for later. You could also put some in individual containers to take to work all week long.