Tag Archives: beef

Can you be vegan-ish?

5 Apr

I think that’s what I have to start referring to myself as. Vegan-ish. Not 100%, but mostly vegan.

I’m still making the majority of my meals vegan. But I do eat eggs a couple of times a week (fresh from happy chickens at a home in my neighborhood). I have, on occasion, enjoyed a small piece of humanely and sustainably-raised chicken or beef, purchased locally. Not too often, but once in a while. I’ve also been actively searching out sustainable seafood. I downloaded the National Sustainable Seafood Guide (here), which helps me choose seafood that is not overfished, is environmentally-friendly and supports healthy oceans. I’ve always enjoyed seafood and I’m glad it’s back in my diet.

I feel good about my food choices. I’m still eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. And I’m not supporting industrial animal farming in any way except dairy. Though we’ve cut way back on the milk consumption in our house, I still haven’t found a local source for it, so I’m stuck with the grocery store variety for Jason and the kids. Luckily, they like almond milk, so I keep buying it even though it’s more expensive than regular milk. I think that will be one of my goals this summer — locally made cheese and other dairy products.

But let’s get back to the vegetables. I think spring might actually arrive here in southeast Michigan sometime soon! Goodness, this weather is making us all crazy. We are 10 degrees or more below normal just about every day. I’m dying to get out into the garden and get my veggies planted! In the meantime, I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes. Some vegan, some gluten free and some vegan and gluten free. Check back often, because I’ll be posting them!

Here are a couple of recent ones that don’t require an actual recipe.

Sesame Green & Yellow Beans
Rather than the standard old steamed green beans with butter, try these for a quick side dish. Place cleaned beans in a deep saute pan with a little water. Bring to boil, cover and steam them until just barely tender-crisp. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. In the same saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil over medium-high heat. Toss the beans back in and give them a quick saute. Remove to a serving dish and toss with salt, pepper and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Polenta Pizzas
The kids wanted to do make-your-own pizzas Saturday night for dinner. They made theirs on regular pizza crusts, but I wanted something gluten free and vegan. I have a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Dough mix, but just didn’t feel like messing with it. So I stared into my pantry hoping something would jump out at me. And it did! I pulled out a container of instant polenta. I cooked it per the package instructions (which takes all of 5 minutes) and poured it into a foil-lined baking dish. I spread it out evenly and placed it in the fridge to chill while I got all the pizza toppings ready to go. Once cold, I lifted the foil and polenta out of the pan and put it on a cutting board. Using a biscuit cutter, I cut it into 4″ circles and sauteed them in a little olive oil, turning once, so they were crispy on both sides. Then I used these to build my pizzas on. Though they don’t have the texture of pizza dough, they were really tasty and still had all my favorite pizza toppings. I just popped them into the oven with the kids’ pizzas so the vegan cheese got melty. Cut slightly smaller, these would be fun appetizers! Here are my combinations:

BBQ Chicken Pizza (top)
BBQ sauce + Daiya vegan cheese + red onions + sauteed vegan chicken slices + minced cilantro

Mediterranean Pizza (bottom right)
Vegan pesto mayo + Daiya vegan cheese + grilled red peppers + kalamata olives + red onion + dash of dried oregano

Sausage Pizza
(bottom left)
Pizza sauce + Daiya vegan cheese + crumbled vegan Italian sausage


Happy Birthday, America!

8 Jul

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I posted anything here. It’s been a whirlwind 7 days. Last Friday, we packed up and headed north to Devil’s Lake, where we spent a long 4th of July weekend with our wonderful friends, Kevin and Lisa, and their extended family. It was a beautiful weekend to be on the lake and their hospitality was amazing. We filled our days with swimming, fishing, jet skiing, boating, tubing and watching fireworks from the middle of the lake…along with great conversations, great food and lots of laughter.

On the first night, they grilled steaks from the sustainably-raised beef they recently purchased. (They grilled portobello mushrooms for me.) They also made this delicious grilled onion — a large sweet onion cut into wedges, but not all the way through to the bottom, then drizzled with olive oil and seasonings, wrapped in foil and slow roasted on the grill. It was fantastic.

Lisa also made a huge salad filled with lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes, and fresh corn cut from the cob. It was topped with her homemade poppy seed dressing. I’m not sure if this is her own dressing recipe or one that’s been shared between families, but let me just say — this dressing is to die for! Yes, it’s that good. As a matter of fact, Brady announced quite happily that he had finally found a salad that he loved. What a great start to the weekend!

I took a few of my latest successful dishes to share throughout the weekend — the Creamy Southwestern Dip, the salad with the Apricot Vinaigrette, and the Eating Well White Bean Salad — plus a new recipe for a Black Cherry Fruit Dip, some patriotic strawberries that I dipped in white chocolate and blue sprinkles, and a variety of fresh fruit.

Not only was the food refreshing, so was the conversation. We talked more than once about eating healthy and I was pleasantly surprised to discover I’m not the only one who thinks many of America’s health problems relate to the way we eat. They were curious about my vegan lifestyle and were actually interested in hearing what I had learned about the food industry over the last 6 months of this journey. And I was interested to hear that their entire family chooses fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible, that they had purchased locally-raised beef, and that they were choosing organic products when available. Awesome!

To top it off, it was one of the most relaxing vacations I’ve had in a long time. The kids all got along well and I got to spend lots of time just relaxing by the lake or chatting or reading. I think it was just what my blood pressure needed — no stress.

Now back to that salad dressing…I mixed up a batch tonight for dinner. Though I didn’t have the vegetables that Lisa had, I did cut fresh lettuce from my garden to make a salad. I topped it with cucumbers, strawberries and toasted hazelnuts and the salad dressing was perfect with it. It’s sweet and tangy and clings well to the salad. Luckily, Lisa gave me the okay to share the recipe here. I hope you’ll give it a try with whatever salad ingredients you have on hand. And if you don’t have anything to make a salad with, just dunk a big slab of bread in it. Trust me, you will leave the table happy! 🙂

Lisa’s Poppy Seed Dressing
makes about 2 cups

1 cup oil (I used half olive oil, half canola oil)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
1 teaspoon salt (I used half salt, half salt substitute)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Put all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake until sugar dissolves. Chill and serve over your choice of salad. Enjoy!

Know where your meat comes from.

23 Apr

No, I haven’t gone back to eating meat. But my husband and kids aren’t vegan, and I’m okay with that. It’s a personal choice. But, I’ve learned so much about the meat industry that I will never purchase grocery store meat again. My mission for April was to locate a local farm where animals are treated kindly and raised humanely and safely. A farm that doesn’t harm the environment.

I found one. It’s in Grand Rapids, Ohio, about 45 minutes from our house. Yesterday after school, we packed a picnic lunch and headed toward Grand Rapids. We stopped at Farnsworth Metropark and enjoyed a picnic dinner on the edge of the Maumee River. It was a beautiful location with ducks, geese and fishermen wading through the waters. The kids enjoyed the sights and eating dinner outside.

Afterward, we packed up and continued on to the farm. As we turned on the road, we could see the farmer moving the cattle from one location in the pasture to another. They are moved every 24 hours to a new area so they can enjoy grazing on fresh grass while fertilizing the soil. There were two moveable egg laying structures with moveable fence to house the chickens. These are also moved regularly so the chickens have fresh ground to peck around in.

We were free to roam through the pasture and check it all out. The hens were very clean and healthy looking. They were happily pecking away at our pant legs and squawking at us as we visited with them. And the cattle just stared at us with interest.

We walked back up to one of the barns with the farmer and discovered a pile of eggs a wandering hen had left in a tight spot. Logan was allowed to climb into the space and collect the eggs. Because he didn’t know how long they had been there, the farmer asked the kids if they’d like to feed the eggs to his two pigs. Silly question! They were jumping around with excitement as we headed to the pig pen. He lifted each of the kids in and let them feed them the eggs, some apples and pet them if they wanted. What happy faces — on both the kids and the pigs!

We chatted a while longer and then went into the house to wash up and place a deposit on a split side of beef. They’ll let us know when it’s all ready to be picked up and packed into our freezer.

So refreshing to know where our food is coming from. And to know that there are people out there who truly believe in farming the old-fashioned way.