Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies

I love cookies.  I love cookies even more if they are a little healthier than your traditional cookie.  My kids needed something for their lunches, so I made these last night.  I took a basic oatmeal cookie recipe and changed the ingredients to healthier options.  I love the result. Give them a try!

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 T honey
3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave
2 T flaxseed mixed in 6 T water (or 2 eggs)
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

Mix ingredients together. Put tablespoon size balls onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 11 minutes. Try not to eat all the cookie dough like I did.

Debbie's Pad Thai

I was shopping at Sprouts the other day with my kids and they saw these Asian rice noodles and they just begged to have them. Don't ask why, I guess they just looked cool to them.  Anyhow, I ended up buying a box that said Pad Thai and another box of rice noodles that says Maifun. Pad Thai I have heard of but Maifun, no clue.  It has been a really long time since I have had pad thai but I remember I really liked it.  So I set out to find a recipe for pad thai.  The recipe inspiration came from here http://vegetarian.about.com/od/thaifoodrecipes/r/veganpadthai.htm.  Although my version is quite a bit different since I didn't have all the ingredients, surprise surprise.

Pad Thai rice noodles 8 oz. box cooked according to box directions, drained
1 orange bell pepper, cut anyway you like, I cut into strips and then cut the strips in half
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced and cut
2 T oil, I only had canola but sesame would be better
1-2 T cilantro, optional
2 T sliced almonds, optional
diced Tempeh (I used Tempeh), tofu, or chicken

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 T peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 t red pepper flakes, more if you like spicy

Whisk together sauce ingredients.

In a large skillet saute the onion, peppers, and garlic in the oil.  When it starts to get soft add the chopped cabbage (the cabbage doesn't take long to cook) for another couple of minutes.

Add the noodles, sauce, cilantro, and almonds.

Serve hot.

Veggie Monster approved, children not so much. Steve liked it but said it needed more sauce.  So I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.  The noodles really soak up all the sauce quite fast.  My daughter liked it but said it was more of a side dish and Steve said he would have to agree.  The boys scrunched up their faces and ran for the hills lol. Nolan did end up trying it at least but he just shook his head no. Oh well, I tried.
Needless to say I had plenty of left overs for the next day and the next.  I ate it cold on top of a beautiful green salad. MMM good!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pear-Kiwi Monster Smoothie

I was craving something, something sweet and delicious.  I thought about making cookies or just eating some chocolate chips with peanut butter.  But I knew I shouldn't because I have been actually doing really well about putting healthy things into my body, so why go and ruin that.  So I took some inventory of the things around my kitchen and came up with a fabulous smoothie.  Pear sounded so weird to put in a smoothie but I have seen some other recipes that called for pear so I thought I would give it a try.

1 ripe pear (cored)
1 kiwi
1 clementine (cutie, I love that name)
2 cups spinach (mine was frozen but fresh is fine too)
2 T lemon juice
1 T ground flax seeds
1/2 cup water
a couple of ice cubes if you like it super cold

I was so pleasantly surprised at how delicious this was! Go Veggie Monster.  Hopefully that was just the pick-me-up that I needed.

Tofu Fajitas

The other night I made the lentil quinoa loaf which was quite a process.  So last night I wanted something quick, easy, and delicious.  We love fajitas.  Obviously, I am a new blogger and don't quite got the hang of it down therefore you will have to use your imagination because I forgot to take a picture.  My pictures don't come out so great anyway.

Tofu Fajitas:
1 red, yellow, and green bell pepper sliced into thin strips
1 19oz pkg. firm tofu (drained and pressed dry)
1/2 cup salsa
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil (or any kind)
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream

In a large pan add 1 T olive oil and crumble the tofu into it. Saute for about 15 min.  Add taco seasoning and salt and pepper. We like our tofu to get nice and brown, make sure to stir so it doesn't stick and burn to the bottom.  In a different large pan add the other tablespoon of oil and the sliced onions and pepper.  Saute those until soft. Mix the peppers/onions with the tofu crumbles and add salsa and additional salt and pepper if needed.  Serve on a warm tortilla with cheese, sour cream, and avocado.

The verdict: My husband said, "is this meatless? It's really good." Really, really, did he just say that! I was so happy he liked it.  My 9yr. old wouldn't come to the table because she said she knew it was t-o-f-u. lol.  She eventually gave in, tried it, and liked it.  My 7 yr. old ate it with cheese and sour cream but no veggies and liked it and of course my 4 yr. old wouldn't even try it (he doesn't like tortillas). Such a fast and easy dinner and super delicious and nutritious.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cranberry Orange Lentil Quinoa Loaf/Roasted Broccoli/Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

I follow a bunch of different recipe blogs and I get new posts on my facebook page.  This morning I saw a post for Cranberry Orange Lentil Quinoa loaf  by Emily Malone of dailygarnish.com.  I thought it sounded a bit weird but I had all the ingredients (mostly).  So I set out to attempt this while the baby was napping.  You can find the original recipe on her blog but below is the way I made it.

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 3 cups water (with 1 teaspoon garlic salt and some pepper)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (I only had raw so I put some oil in a pan and let them brown a bit)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons prepared salsa with 1/2 cup chopped pineapple bits (or pre-made fruit salsa)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Then start by combining quinoa, lentils, vegetable broth, and orange juice in either a sauce pot or rice cooker. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, and the lentils and quinoa are cooked.
Meanwhile, finely dice the mirepoix vegetables – celery, carrots, and onions. Dice them evenly and as small as you can, because pieces too big will make it harder for the loaf to bind together. Sauté the vegetables in olive olive over medium high heat until they begin to soften.

In a small dish, combine chia seeds and 1/2 cup water, and let sit for five minutes until thickened. It should be gel-like after a few minutes, and will serve as an egg replacement. You can also use ground flax seeds mixed with water.  (If you prefer, you can also sub in 3 eggs.)

Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cranberries, sunflower seeds, and apple cider vinegar to the pan. Remove from heat.
Stir in the cooked lentils and quinoa once they are ready, along with the chia seed mixture, add salt and stir the mixture until well incorporated.
Press firmly into a greased loaf pan, making sure to push mixture flush against all the edges
Spoon salsa over the top to form a coating. I used Pace salsa because that's all I had and added chopped pineapple.  You can make your own fruit salsa or buy some pre-made.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Allow loaf to cool slightly before cutting carefully. 

I also made some roasted broccoli that was a nice change from your usual steamed broccoli.  

1 head of broccoli washed and chopped, dry well
couple tablespoon of olive oil
about 2 teaspoons salt, I just eyeballed it
toss to coat
put on a baking sheet and cook at 450 for 20 min
sprinkle with the juice of 1 lemon and some Parmesan cheese. 

Lastly, I made some mashed potatoes with cauliflower for some added veggie goodness and lots of vitamins. I just boiled six potatoes and added one head of cauliflower when the potatoes were almost done.  Then cooked until soft.  Then I drained the water and added 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1cup plain soy milk (can use regular), and salt and pepper to taste.  MMM!
So there you have it.  Dinner is served.

The verdict: I loved it.  The veggie loaf was delicious as was everything else.  The loaf didn't really stay together in loaf form, I might try adding some bread crumbs next time.  Hubby really liked the mashed potatoes and said the loaf was fine.  He also said broccoli is broccoli but he liked it more than the steamed version. He is hard to impress. My 9 yr. old liked it after adding ketchup to it. My 7 yr. old ate each bite of the loaf with a bite of pineapple and finished off his mashed potatoes and broccoli and of course my 4 yr. old wouldn't touch the veggie loaf because he could see it had carrots in it.  He did eat the mashed potatoes and the broccoli and some fruit.  Overall, I have to say this was a success for the veggie monster.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Whole wheat rainbow pizza

Last night I made pizza.  Pizza is normally greasy and filled with calories, probably why it tastes so good.  I was on a mission to make a good and healthy pizza and I think I did just that.  I found this recipe on allrecipes.com

  • For the dough:
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
    3. In a large bowl combine flour, wheat germ and salt. Make a well in the middle and add honey and yeast mixture. Stir well to combine. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for a few minutes.
    4. Roll dough on a floured pizza pan and poke a few holes in it with a fork.
    5. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved.
    6. Then top with favorite sauce and toppings. Cook 5-10 min longer until cheese melts.
    7. I used three different colored bell peppers and artichoke hearts.
    8. For the sauce I just used some tomato paste that I had left over from the night before and sprinkled it with oregano, basil, and garlic salt. 

The verdict: Hubby was pleasantly surprised by the thin crispy crust. He thought the peppers were too sweet but that's what I liked about it.  The kids picked off the peppers but at least they had a green smoothie with their pizza. Overall, I think it was a success.

P.S. The brown things on the pizza is seitan pepperoni (meatless).  I won't give the recipe to that since I don't think it was that great.  If and/or when I come up with a good meatless pepperoni then I will post.  

Fruit and Yogurt snack/Smoothies

My 4 yr. old doesn't eat vegetables at least none that he knows of.  He usually gets his daily dose of a green vegetable through a big glass of green smoothie.  He loves fruit so today for lunch he ate a big bowl of blackberries, cuties, and bananas with strawberry yogurt.  Now his little body is filled with good stuff and he ate way more fruit than he would normally have.  So I don't have a picture of a green smoothie but you can picture it I'm sure.  It is vividly green liquid.  My boys favorite green smoothie recipe:

1 banana
1 cup frozen fruit (any variety) we use the kind from Costco with mango, pineapple, papaya.
1-2 cups milk (I like rice milk or soy milk)
2 cups spinach
1 T honey

Blend and enjoy.

My daughters favorite green smoothie recipe:
1 banana
1 cup milk
1 cup spinach
6 ice cubes
1 T peanut butter
1/4 cup oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 T honey

Veggie Monster's favorite green smoothie:
1 cup Dark chocolate almond milk
1 T natural peanut butter
1 t cocoa powder
6 ice cubes
1 banana
1 cup spinach

Veggie Monster Ratatouille

I bought an eggplant the other day because I heard that it has ridiculous good vitamins.  Some of the ways I normally eat eggplant are eggplant parmigiana and an eggplant casserole my mom taught me how to make.  This time I wanted to try something different.  I found a recipe on a vegan blog but changed it since I didn't have all the proper ingredients.  You will learn that about me, I normally will sub stuff in and sub stuff out depending what's in my kitchen that day.  Another thing you will soon learn about me is that I am not a very good planner but I have gotten pretty good at substituting and still coming up with a great version.  So here is my version of a fast and easy Ratatouille.....

1 eggplant, cut into small chunks
1 green pepper, diced or 1 zucchini diced or whatever vegetable you have :)
1 can White beans, drained (can substitute any kind of beans)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbl. basil
1 t. oregano
1 t. thyme
1 Tbl. oil
1/8 t cayenne pepper
2 t agave (honey will work also)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste (can use tomato sauce and omit water)
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta

1) Heat a large skillet with olive or coconut oil spray (or just use a few tbsp water). Sautee the eggplant with the garlic till the eggplant is getting nice and brown (about 8 minutes).
2) Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste or tomato sauce, water, agave, basil, oregano, thyme. Heat through. Test for seasoning, and add more of whatever herbs you like.

The Verdict: Hubby thought it was good.  9 yr. old said, "not bad", 7 yr. old said,"ewww gross stay away from me with that disgusting ratatouille." I said he had to eat 2 bites, he shoveled the two bites into his mouth and then exclaimed, "not bad".  4 yr. old wouldn't even touch the stuff.  I thought the sauce should have simmered a little longer.  Not bad considering it was a super quick meal chock full of nutrition. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Broccoli/Cauliflower Cheese Soup

I love making soup because it's so hard to mess up.  Chopped up broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge = broccoli cauliflower soup.  So this recipe is not exactly vegan because I used regular butter and then my daughter added cheese to her soup.  But like I said before we are taking baby steps.  At least she ate a big nutritious bowl of broccoli and cauliflower.  My hubby said it didn't need the cheese, it was already cheesy enough.

 Broccoli nutrition facts: The good: This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, phosphorus and Selenium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.
Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2356/2#ixzz1jftWSt5k

Cauliflower nutrition facts: The good: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Phosphorus and potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6,                                                                                                     Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Manganese.
Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2391/2#ixzz1jftw95v9

So there you have it several good reasons to eat your broccoli and cauliflower.  I omitted the cheese and actually used nutritional yeast to give it the cheesy flavor.  Nutritional yeast is a good source of protein, low in sodium, and zero saturated fat unlike cheddar cheese which is extremely high in saturated fat and sodium.  

The verdict: The hubby said,"good soup, babe".  9 yr. old ate it and said mmm but then added shredded cheddar to her bowl.  7 yr. old had a scowl on his face licked the spoon and spit. 4 yr. old won't even get near it.  The veggie monster likes it of course and the baby well she's not old enough to enjoy this yet.  

Broccoli Cauliflower Cheese Soup
1 head of broccoli and half a head of cauliflower chopped
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 cup nutritional yeast (can use shredded cheddar)
1 cup unbleached flour
4 T butter (or vegan butter)
8 cups water
1T + 1 tsp. salt 
pepper to taste
Steam your broccoli, cauliflower, and onion about 15 min. or until soft.  In a big pot add in your dry ingredients: butter (first let it melt) then add the nutritional yeast, flour, and salt.  Whisk in water and turn heat on med/high.  Put in minced garlic. Put in bouillon cubes and continue stirring until it thickens to desired consistency. Add broccoli, cauliflower,  and onion.  Mix and serve hot.  

Homemade chewy granola bars

So today is Martin Luther King Jr. day and the kids are home from school.  It's cold and cloudy and none of us really felt like doing much today.  My 9 yr. old daughter helped set up the blog, which she is really excited about and then she couldn't wait to invent a good recipe to post.  Since we are trying not to eat processed foods here is our homemade chewy granola bar recipe.  The kids were super excited to help pour and stir the mixture together.  Each child added an ingredient of his/her choice and the result was a delicious chewy granola bar, way better than the store bought kind.

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips/pb chips
3/4 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients until well combined then press down into an 8x8 pan and cook at 350 for 15 minutes.  Then cut and enjoy.  These were fun to make.  You can add and/or deduct anything to customize this recipe to your liking.  I think next time I will double the recipe because we don't have any bars left for tomorrow.

Baby steps

One of the first steps I took years ago was to eliminate the use of red meat.  My husband at first had a problem with eating ground turkey instead of beef but in a matter of months (or maybe it was more like a year :) he actually preferred the taste of the ground turkey.  Eating enough vegetables has always been a challenge but by offering different vegetables and dipping sauces my kids slowly began eating some vegetables.  They are still not super veggie eaters but making progress.  Since the new year began I have been making them green smoothies everyday.  They don't taste like vegetables and my kids really like them.  I feel good knowing that they got some green vegetable goodness into their little bodies.  Stay tuned for some of our favorite green smoothie recipes.


Welcome to my blog. My name is Debbie, aka the veggie monster. I am a mother to 4 young rambunctious children. (2 boys, 2 girls) I have a great husband and a great circle of friends. I have a passion for working out and eating healthy. My whole life I have wanted to be a vegetarian but it has always been so hard since it is not the social norm. Then I became a wife and a mother and my goal of becoming a vegetarian seemed even further away. Steve, my husband, loves meat and so do my kids. Just talking about vegetables makes them wrinkle up their noses. So I made everyone happy by providing them with food they liked. Well, along the way I have been learning more about health and the benefits of eating a plant-based diet along with real food (non-processed food). Along the way I have taken baby-steps in changing the way my family ate. Through this blog I hope to show others how they also can start eating and feeling healthier. I now eat a 90% vegan diet but still provide my family with dairy and eggs. They are still transitioning to this new lifestyle. Follow along with me on this wonderful journey to better health.