Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nutritional Yeast

I'm surprised I haven't talked about nutritional yeast yet. It's a wonderful, delicious source of protein. 

What exactly is nutritional yeast? Deactivated yeast, usually sold as yellow flakes. What does it look like? This...

Ok, it's not much to look at. Especially compared to previous snaps of my fresh garden vegetables. But it's a humble ingredient that I recommend keeping a jar of around.

What is the nutritional value? It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein. (thank you Wikipedia)

What can one do with nutritional yeast? Well...

Sprinkle on popcorn.
Use in lieu of Parmesan cheese. 
Add to vegetarian soups, broths, and sauces to add richness.
Sprinkle on any salad, stirfry, or sauteed vegetables to add protein.

In bulk, nutritional yeast costs approximately $9 a pound. Since it's about as light as a feather, $5 of nutritional yeast will last me a month. Nutritional yeast is available at any health food store, and most major grocery stores now as well. Of course, you can always find it online. Although I prefer to buy in bulk, Bragg is a great, reliable brand. (Later I can talk about Bragg apple cider vinegar, and Bragg liquid aminos)

Although I'm not an expert vegan cook, nutritional yeast is often used in vegan cooking. Such as Vegan Mac & Cheese!

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will take you to Amazon, and if you choose to purchase items, I will receive a small (very small) amount of commission on your purchase. The price is exactly the same for you.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kale...As You Like It

This blog has suddenly taken on more importance for me, as I've just accepted a wonderful job. Thrilled about it, and will share details as soon as I can. However, it's a huge pay cut. Worth it, but not worth sacrificing my or my family's health. So now I'll be increasingly searching for ways to make a vegetarian diet tasty, interesting, and frugal.

So let's talk about kale. Yes, I know, you've heard enough about this superfood. But it really is so versatile.

Just tonight I made kale chips!

Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 275.
Tear off pieces of kale. Any kind works, but curly or dinosaur kale works better than flat.
Toss in a bowl with olive oil and salt.
Spread out in a single layer, if possible.
Stir from time to time, until crispy.
Try to catch before they brown.
Also delicious sprinkled with nutritional yeast afterwards.

One of my very, very favorite salads is the Raw Deal from Wheatsville. I know, I know. You don't have Wheatsville in your town. So stop in next time you're in Austin. In the meantime, this recipe is pretty close, just use kale instead of the chard. And I would cut the salt a bit: The Raw Deal Salad

While I'm not an advocate of extreme cleanses, I have found that green lemonade in the morning makes me feel great, especially if I have been indulging (vegan doughnuts are still doughnuts).

Green lemonade

In a high power blender, blend one peeled lemon, an apple, a handful of lettuce, a handful of kale, and a thin slice of ginger. If you don't like the texture, you can strain it. But if it's pulverized enough, it drinks like a thin smoothie. I use a Vitamix, which a very generous and lovely aunt gave me as a gift.

The easiest way to eat kale: Sauteed kale with garlic. You don't need a recipe for this, it's self-explanatory.

As for the economics of it, I bought two big bunches for $3, and it has lasted me a week

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will take you to Amazon, and if you choose to purchase items, I will receive a small (very small) amount of commission on your purchase. The price is exactly the same for you.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Plant a garden

In this post, I will give you no information about how to actually plant a garden, just tell you to do it. Because that's how I did it. I bought several $1 little plants from outside of Wheatsville, and planted them in our front bed. It was mostly just supposed to be a nature lesson for Atticus.

Whether it is the rich soil, the reused dishwater I use to water them, or just dumb luck, I now have a HUGE tomato plant, and a respectable bell pepper plant.

For $1, I now have more local, organic, vine-ripened tomatoes than I can eat. I literally give them away to my parents, neighbors, and even strangers who stop to peruse our Free Little Library

They are best raw, with some basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Maybe mozzarella if I'm feeling extravagant. However, there are other wonderful options for a bumper crop of tomatoes.

Today, I made a very simple gazpacho.

Gazpacho (a cold, tomato soup)

4 small tomatoes
2 small bell peppers
A handful of basil leaves
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Throw everything in the blender with a cup of water. You might have to add more water as you blend, to achieve the texture you want. I like to throw in a couple ice cubes, since gazpacho is a cold soup.

Other ideas: slice and put on pizza, simmer down into a pasta sauce, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES!

As an amateur gardener, I have to say that there is something very satisfying about watching your plants flourish and produce so much beautiful fruit. I highly recommend it. Give it a try, it might be worth your $1 investment :)

This guy thinks so...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Texas Vegetarian on Bloglovin!

Bloglovin is a great place to catch up on all your blogs at once! Click below to follow me. The more followers I have, the better chance there is that I'll post on a regular basis.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

And I'll leave you with this...

A black bean burger, sweet potato fries, a local stout...and our charmingly rustic backyard.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grocery List Update

What have we spent so far? These estimates are on the high end, so your total could be a bit lower.

Avocado - $2
Eggs - $5
Flour - $4
Dry beans - $1.16

A grand total of $12.16, but far from a full shopping list.

Next time: coconut oil! (with a bonus recipe for coconut oil deodorant!)

Avocado Love

In a previous post, I mentioned the ubiquitous pot of pinto beans. My coworker speaks lovingly of her mother's frijoles. I could eat them plain, wrapped in a tortilla, or over rice. However, there is one thing that will elevate those humble pinto beans...


When I lived in New York City, I had two great food complaints: no proper tortillas and no ripe avocados. The lack of tortillas forced me to learn how to make flour tortillas, so that actually made me stronger through strife. But there was nothing to be done about small, hard avocados that would never ripen.

Cost of an avocado:
There are many regional and seasonal variables, but to keep it simple, I'll say that I will spend $1-$3 per avocado. They are often on sale, because that's better than the store throwing it all out. However, beware of the overripe avocado on sale. Not worth it.

Buying an avocado:
Choose carefully. An overripe avocado is pretty vile, and tastes like mushy dirt. An under ripe avocado just isn't usable, and you'll find yourself trying to mush it with sour cream just to have some passable guacamole.
Avocados should be firm, but give to pressure. Gently feel the whole avocado, so you don't lose half to some black spot.

My favorite uses for avocado:

1. Guacamole. Skip the extra stuff. A good avocado needs only the juice from half a lime, and some salt and pepper. Mash it all together, and serve it with tortilla chips, pita chips, gluten-free rice chips...

2. Dice and add to salads, soups, tacos...anything.

3. Avocados and eggs are an amazing combination. Tonight I sliced avocado and tomatoes on a piece of homemade wheat bread (see previous post), and put a fried egg on top. So satisfying, economical, and healthy.

4. While I don't do this often because I don't want to muddle a good avocado with other ingredients, avocado adds beautiful creaminess to a smoothie,, or creates an interesting twist on green gazpacho,

5. Finally, something I discovered at an Austin City Limits Festival years ago, at the Mighty Cone food truck ( Fried avocado. Delicious for obvious fried, creaminess reasons. Chuy's Tex Mex also occasionally has a fried avocado dish on the menu.

Don't use for baking brownies...even though it's a good fat substitute. That's a dumb waste of a good avocado, in my professional opinion. Unless you have a flourishing avocado tree in your backyard, and then you should probably just invite me over.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

No chicken, just the egg

Every vegan I know will best me with tofu-fueled wit as to why it's hypocritical to eat eggs but not chicken. So be it. I try my best to get the most natural eggs possible. Someday I would love to have a small coop. As of now, however, I buy them from someone else  and pay a little extra for this crucial protein source. Eggs are versatile, relatively cheap, and delicious.

Cost analysis:
Farmers market, free range, vegetarian (the BEST) = $5.00 (this varies widely, based on where you live)

At $5 a dozen, that puts each egg under $0.50 each. 

Besides the obvious scrambled, fried, and poached, eggs increase your recipe potential (see Flour post).

One recipe that has become a standby is the poached egg on pasta.
1. Cook pasta.
2. Poach an egg.
3. Put the egg on top of the pasta.
4. Include any other parmesan, vegetables, and pesto.
5. Break the yolk, and instant, rich sauce.

You can put a fried or poached egg on pizza...

Adding a poached or fried egg will always raise the net worth of any meal.