Saturday, February 28, 2009

$3.33 a day: End of month stats $1.80 a day!

Balsamic Dijon Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

I'm not sure if you remember a while back I bought some brussels sprouts? Well, I blanched some of them and flash froze them for later use. I browned these up in my cast iron along with the small cut sweet potatoes. Once the veggies got some color, I poured a bit of water and steamed them until they were done. Roasting would have been better, but I don't turn my oven on unless I am filling it. The veggies were tossed with my very low fat balsamic/dijon flax vinaigrette. Considering how low fat (and the fact that stevia was the only sweetener in the dressing) they were quite delicious.

Buying veggies on sale and blanching/freezing them is one thing I do often. Last week, I scored a bag of red peppers on sale for $1.29/lb. I used them raw in many dishes, then sauted and froze the rest. The below wrap was chipotle crusted tofu (dry fried), romaine, red peppers and a vegenaise based dressing.

Cucumber Onion Pickle

Adding a side like this really brightens up a meal. Not only does it make the plate look better, it gives texture and flavors and really completes a meal. I had around 1/4 cup of my chickpea salad and added it to a half cup of the pickle for a yummy 100 calorie snack.

Raw Breakfast Cookie

I made a batch of these. Most of the batter was patted into a baking dish and cut into bars for my kids to grab for breakfast. Their bus comes at 6:45 am, so they don't have time to sit for breakfast. I like making muffins and bars for them. These are so healthy and delicious. Almond butter (which I had in my pantry from Trader Joes 4.99 for 16 oz), oats, stevia, raisins, coconut, cinnamon and golden flax meal. A tasty and VERY healthy start to the day. I feel so much better when I know my kids have something healthy in the morning.

100% Rye Bread and Hummus

The last of the rye bread from the freezer. Romaine, hummus and a tiny bit of avocado made a tasty and healthy sandwich.

I also used 1 cup of the leftover chickpeas to make a huge pot of kale/chickpea/potato clean out the fridge soup. I'll photograph it when we eat it tomorrow. The comfort soup is all gone.

I still have 1 cup of the chickpeas left that are in the freezer.

Soooo that brings me to the end of the month! My goal for this month was to spend $70.00 ($2.50 a day) because of my stocked pantry.

I ONLY SPENT $50.00!! (which works out to around $1.80 a day!)

Since last time I recapped my spending, I spent $2.10 on a small bottle of umeboshi vinegar (that I haven't even opened!), $1.29 on kale and $1.29 on romaine. I took the 20 cents out of my bulk buying fund leftover from that big shopping where I spent $24.80. I am really looking at the value of a penny right now!

I have $20 banked in my bulk buying fund! This is sooo cool! It means when I go visit my brother, I can go to Trader Joes and stock up on cheap tofu or buy some sprouting seeds!

Of course, this month was only 28 days and I still have a lot of stocked basics. It will be interesting to see what March brings.

I lost 2 lbs this month. It's better than the gaining cycle I was on!

I am totally enjoying this if you can't tell!

Finally, I cut my electric bill in half last month. I unplugged EVERYTHING unless I am actively using it. I have barely used my heat (unless the kids were here and even then we turn it off completely at night and only to 62 otherwise)
I won't lie.. my house has been COLD. The temperature is around 52-58 when the heat isn't on. I've been wearing layers and hats in inside, drinking hot tea/water and doing jumping jacks! lol

.. but my electric bill was $44.00 and that includes heat. I have a medium 2 bedroom apartment.

I am very much looking forward to the warmer weather!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

$3.33 a day: Comfort Soup Recipe, Ebook Talk, Pasta and Pesto

Sun Dried Tomato and Green Olive Pesto/Tapenade

I've been busy creating recipes for my Vegan for $3.33 a Day E-book. It is somewhat challenging to write a book while sticking to this budget, but I'm doing it! I do have some recipes written already and most of them are very $3.33 friendly, but the majority of them will be written as I go along each day. I plan on around 120 recipes, so realistically, it will probably take me at least 2 months to write this. May 1st is my target release date.

This spread is delicious and I'm sure it will make it's way into several dishes over the next week or so. Half of it is in the freezer not only for future use, but also as a test to see how it freezes. I think it will be fine.

Raw Italian Kale Salad

I made a big batch of this salad to have on hand. It is delicious and keeps for at least 3 days. In fact, it is much better the second day.

Rice Spaghetti with Simple Marinara

My simple marinara is so delicious... as you can see, I like a lot of sauce with my pasta. This was rice spaghetti and I must be getting used to gluten free pasta because it totally hit the spot. I see a run to Trader Joes in my near future. The closest is an hour a way. It is near my brother's house though, so I can visit them and then hit it up. I'm glad I'm building my Bulk Food fund!
The joy of simple veggies!
Comfort Soup

I created this recipe because I am fighting a cold. It is somewhat spicy, but also very simple flavorwise. You can reduce the crushed red pepper if you are sensitive to spice, but I strongly recommend using the full 2 T of minced ginger.

Comfort Soup:
1 large onion, diced
¼ t cayenne or ½ t crushed red pepper flakes
2 t thyme
1 t yellow mustard
Several grates fresh nutmeg (1/8 t)
2 T freshly minced ginger
6 cloves minced garlic (reserve 1)
¼ t celery salt/pepper
½ c quinoa
1 c red lentils
6 c veg broth or water and bouillon cube
Juice/zest 1 lemon
2 T nutritional yeast
2 T fresh parsley (or 2 t dried)
Salt/Pepper to taste
In a heavy bottomed soup pan over medium heat add the oil, onion, spices, ginger and garlic along with a pinch salt/pepper. Sauté for 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Now add the quinoa and lentils. Toast in the onion/spice mixture for a minute or so and add the broth (or water and bouillon). Bring to a boil uncovered for 3 minutes. Turn heat down to low and cover for 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice/zest, yeast and parsley and reserved minced garlic. Taste and adjust salt/pepper to your liking.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

$3.33 a day: A Chickpea Tale..

Traditional Hummus with Raw Crackers

Dried legumes are your best friends! Trust me on that. I cooked up a pound of chickpeas ($1.59) and put them to good use. I even have 2 cups left to play with after making all of this food!
I made hummus two ways; traditional and spicy red pepper. Siracha and red bell pepper colored and flavored the spicy variation. Total yield: 2.5 cups. (1.5 c traditional and 1 c spicy)

Spicy Hummus

Spiced Chickpea Salad (2 servings)

Here's the recipe:
  • 1 c cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ c diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ c diced carrot
  • 2 T scallions (you can sub red onion or shallot, but reduce to 1 T)
  • 2 T chopped olives (I used green, but use what you have on hand)
  • 1 T fresh herbs (I used basil)

  • 1 t yellow mustard
  • ½ t garlic powder
  • ½ t cumin
  • 1/8 t cinnamon
  • ¼ t oregano
  • 2 t golden flax meal
  • 1 T vinegar (I used white balsamic)
  • 1 T Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 T Water
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Method: Chop veggies, make dressing and pour over chickpea/veg mixture. Allow it to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

Chickpea of the Sea Burgers (before cooking)

Another cup and a half of chickpeas went into these four burgers. I was thinking of different things to do with my pantry staples, and figured I'd try my hand at making Arepas. They came out pretty well. I did split them completely and toast the insides of them on the cast iron skillet while I was cooking the burger. I like that I didn't have to turn my oven on to make them and they are gluten free. Unfortunately, they are pretty refined, so I won't be eating them every day. I have some more dough in the fridge. We'll see if it holds up?

Ok... back to the sandwich. I used the arepa for the bread, covered it in homemade tartar sauce, tofutti cheese (I only have 2 slices left!), cabbage and tomatoes. On the side I had some wasabi slaw that I'll talk about later.

Chickpea of the Sea Burgers on fresh Arepas

As I mentioned earlier, I still have two cups of chickpeas left. I will probably use half of them to make a Chickpea/Basil pasta sauce and freeze the other cup.

Wasabi Slaw with Lentil Sprouts

Cabbage, carrots, red peppers and scallions were dressed with a wasabi/mustard/vegenaise dressing. The dressing was thinned with a little bit of the chickpea cooking liquid to reduce the amount of vegenaise. I have around 2 cups leftover.

Polenta Homefries with Ketchup
Just polenta, cubed and "fried" in my cast iron with cooking spray and spices. I used some of them as croutons as well.
Smokey Potato Kidney Bean Stew with Polenta Croutons

I ended up using the last 2 cups leftover from my the kidney beans (see last post) to make this stew. My friend and I had it for lunch and I have around 4 cups left. I'll probably have it for dinner and then puree the rest of it and put it in the freezer for enchilada bake. Potato chunks do not freeze well, so pureeing it is a must.

My friend surprised me with coffee and soymilk yesterday! She read my blog and took pity on me! The funny thing is that I relented and bought crappy coffee yesterday along with some coffee soymilk to use as creamer. I spent a whole $4.68. I'm set for a while now. I have been drinking black tea and not liking it much.

I also splurged yesterday at the store and bought fresh basil for $2.99, a head of cauliflower and the pound of chickpeas for a total of $10.58. My target this week is to keep it under $15.00 so I can bank another $10 in my Bulk Food Fund.

Total spent this month: $45.38!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

$3.33 a day: Major Comfort Food Post

Thursday evening my X had to go to be with his dying grandmother. As of this second, she is still holding on, but it won't be long. I've been at the house since then. Before I left, I packed up a bunch of food so I could do a bunch of cooking.. I forgot my camera, so these pics are old pics, but represent the dishes I made.

First, vegan pizza. I used my leftover raw cashew cheese (oh the blasphemy!) and thinned it out a bit with veg stock and then thickened it up with arrowroot to give it a stretchier and melty consistency. The sauce was made from sun dried tomatoes, garlic, onion and spices and I sauteed red peppers an onions for toppings. In the original pic, I used fresh basil, but since I didn't have any, I topped it with some baby spinach.
The crust was white flour based which he had on hand.

Earlier that day, I cooked up a pound of kidney beans. I took out 2 cups from what was leftover (for the freezer) and brought the rest to the house. . I also grabbed the frozen low fat goddess dressing I have been saving (to test in a spicy noodle dish and to see how it froze).
Cajun Red Beans and Rice

The first dish I made just a Cajun red bean and rice stew. The base was the trinity of course (peppers, onions, celery). I spiced it up with Cajun seasoning, more dried thyme, smoked paprika and cayenne. It was quite delicious. (I served brown rice with mine. The pic had basmati)

Cajun Falafels

This is where getting creative with your leftovers really pays off! I'm not sure why I'm even calling these falafels, but I am, so there! I knew my kids would not want to eat more red beans and rice. They enjoy the dish, but not day in and day out. I used the leftovers and mixed then with some breadcrumbs, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil and parsley and some of the goddess dressing. I let the mixture sit overnight and formed them into balls. I formed them into falafel size balls and baked them. They came out great! cucumber, baby spinach, tomato, onion and some of the goddess dressing complimented them perfectly.
Clean out the fridge spicy noodles. My kids love these and for any of you who have read me for a while know that I used to have a large batch of these in the fridge at all times for snacks. I used whole wheat pasta (on hand at the house) this is again where I get creative with leftovers. Remember the indian cabbage and potato/peas from earlier in the week? Yep! totally freaken delicious. I also threw in several handfuls of TVP for protein and used the rest of the goddess dressing mixed with ketchup and more ginger. Cilantro, siracha and lime juice finished it off along with toasted black sesame seeds. I know it sounds awful, but it was delicious and will give them at least 4 large servings.

Finally, enchilada bake. I made refried kidney beans (recipe is for pintos.) Corn tortillas, salsa, beans and cheese were layered, topped with cheese, spices, cilantro and scallions then baked.

Simple and delicious. I made the bake in a 9 inch pie pan, so there are 4 large servings or 6 regular sized.

I'm having a friend over for lunch tomorrow. I'm not sure what I'm making yet. I want to created a new recipe for my ebook. She is gluten free, so I'm pondering the options.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

$3.33 a day: The weight of it all..

The above dish was a play on a casserole. I made a small amount of polenta to test a recipe for my ebook, figuring I would use it to make polenta croutons, but an idea came to me for this layered "casserole" instead. I saw a similar dish a week or so on someone's blog, forgive me for not remembering, but I liked the look of the layers. Earlier in the day, I cooked up a pot of kidney beans for use in several recipes I have planned this week, so I took a cup of them and pureed them with some salsa and poultry seasoning. I KNOW this sounds like an odd combination, but trust me, experimentation often produces wonderful results! Putting flavors together that aren't an obvious pair can excite the palate and make use of what you have on hand! It was topped with sweet potato mash and cranberry chutney. The only thing I wished I had on hand for this dish was fresh thyme. That would have taken it over the top. Also, black beans would have made a nicer presentation I think.

Here's the recipe for the sweet potato mash:

2 C sweet potatoes (2 small), peeled, diced and steamed until very fork tender (you could bake them and scoop out the flesh as well)
1 t coconut oil
1/2 t creole seasoning
1 t siracha
1/2 t dried thyme (or better yet, 1.5 t fresh thyme, plus more for garnish)
splash soy sauce
1 T sucanat or brown sugar (optional, I did not use it since I try to avoid sugar)
1 t vinegar of choice (I used white balsamic)

Mash the hot sweet potatoes with the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings and allow the flavors to develop for several hours or overnight. Heat before serving. serves 2

Homemade tortilla with arugula, tofu veggie 'cream cheese', tomatoes and avocado. I'm using around 1/8 and avocado at a time and I still have 1 left. Avocado is something I will keep on hand and I am lucky that my favorite grocery store sells them for .$99 usually. This is where shopping around pays off. Most of the stores in my town sell them for 1.5 to 2 times that price! To extend the life of an avocado, buy it very unripe. When it starts to soften up JUST A BIT (not ripe enough to eat) throw it in the crisper area of your fridge. The day before you want to eat it, take it out and allow it to finish ripening on the counter. They will keep for around 2 weeks this way.

Now I'm going to talk about something I've debated bringing up yet again..

My weight.

Since the layoff, I've gained 15 lbs. Or should I say, re-gained. I know a big part of it is that I'm not on my feet all day long, but I've also been depressed and the winter has not been friendly when it comes to getting outside and walking.

I have to put a stop to this. You'd think limiting my budget would have an effect, but it hasn't. I have still been eating for comfort and not moving enough. For instance, the first dish I talked about here, I ate two portions instead of one.. and an arugula salad.

I know I am like a broken record when it comes to this subject, but I am yet again going to re-commit to being mindful with food and losing the damn weight once and for all!

I feel somewhat pathetic because this is probably the third time at least I've tried to hold myself publicly accountable on this blog.

Winners never lose and losers never quit!

I really believe in the concept of weight release instead of loss.

I guess the question is, am I ready to release this weight once and for all?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

$3.33 a day: Indian Food and Raw Cashew Cheesesticks

Indian Spiced Cabbage and Caramelized Onions

First of all, I want to than everyone for their support yesterday. I am still in shock a bit about Mark's layoff. We knew it was a very real possibility, but I was in denial. It will be very interesting to see what the future holds for our family. Even though Mark and I are getting a divorce, we are good friends and our first priority is our children.

Onto the food! The above dish is highly spiced and so good. I used whole black mustard, cumin and coriander seeds which I toasted in a T of dark sesame oil. I chopped up a bunch of ginger and added it to the spices along with a huge sweet onion, pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. I allowed the onions to caramelize and added the cabbage, red pepper and cilantro after they were good and brown. Dark soy sauce, siracha and lime juice finished the dish off. It is actually what we are having for dinner tonight along with the curried potatoes and peas and some dahl(click for recipe) from the freezer.

Curried Potatoes and Peas

If we have any leftovers, I will mix them together sans the dhal and use them as filling for samosas later in the week. Cold samosas pack well in a lunch box and my kids love them. I will bake the samosas the same day I bake bread to save energy.

Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice

I had two grapefruits that had seen better days, but they were perfect for juice. This hit the spot this morning! I will definitely look for old grapefruits and other citrus on the bargain table.

Raw Flatbread/Tortillas

I turned pulled out the dehydrator yesterday to make a bunch of flatbreads. I have a 4 tray and I made 1 large pizza crust, 4 tortilla shells and 4 large pieces of bread. My older son and I are going to have a big raw pizza later in the week. It's also nice to use these in place of bread for hummus and to top with avocado and greens.
Raw Mozzarella Sticks and Kale Chips

Oh boy were these good! I used my cashew cheese and just rolled in in raw 'parmesan' which I make out of sesame seeds, walnuts, nutritional yeast and spices. They dehydrated for around 4 hours or so and the cheese was warm and gooey! The kale was dipped in some of my balsamic flax vinaigrette and topped with raw parm. The dipping sauce was a marinara made from sun dried tomatoes.
Raw Vegan Goodness!

I initially got this idea from the Ebook, Frugal Raw. It is a great cookbook and you should go buy it!

I have had so many emails over the past year asking me for recipes, so I've decided to get them all together and write my own Ebook. I need the focus and frankly, I need the money too! I started writing down outline today and expect to be finished within 6 weeks at the most! I have been flirting with the cookbook thing forever, but to really measure everything I cook is challenging because my brain doesn't work that way! I just throw things together figure it out as I go along..

The challenge will be creating, testing and writing all of these recipes while sticking to $3.33 a day!

Vegan for $3.33 a Day is going to be the name of it!

Total spent this month: $34.80
Total Banked in Bulk Food Fund: $10.20
Left to spend this week: $0.00

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

$3.33 a day: FEAR and pantry inventory results

I need some heart healing today and my dog is perfect for that. Just look into her eyes. She is truly an amazing little human being. Yes.. I said human. lol

I am afraid today. My EX just got laid off too.

I am not sure what we are going to do. Life is very challenging right now. The fear I feel is just creeping into my body and I feel almost paralyzed. It's hard not to let my head whirl with terrifying thoughts.

I guess all we can do is take things one day at a time and do the best we can.

I want so badly to work in at least a vegetarian environment. Vegan preferable, but vegetarian is OK... I can do photography, but have not heard back from the places I've applied for those jobs. It is a rough market out there. I have spent most of my adult life making food and that is what I know.

So.... I may have to reduce my budget even more. Maybe this will be become a $2.22 a day blog instead?

OK.. now that I've vented about the scary stuff... I did a full pantry inventory and have so much to work with. It's shocking how much food I can fit in an average sized apartment fridge and freezer.

This list is very much represents the staples I have kept in my pantry for years. You can gradually build your pantry and given the amount of food I have, next week, I am going to try to only spend $15.00 on veggies.

Pantry Ingredients:

1lb Bulgar
1 lb brown rice
1 lb millet
8 lbs wheat berries
1 package tapioca
4 lbs brown rice pasta
2 lbs asian rice/yam noodles
15 oz canned pumpkin
3 lbs sun dried tomatoes
10 veggie bouillon cubes
5 lbs instant cornmeal/flour
1.5 lbs regular cornmeal
2 lbs baking soda (I use this for cleaning as well as baking)
1/2 gallon white vinegar (for cleaning)
2 c chickpea flour
xanthan gum
1 can artichoke hearts
8 oz baking powder
10 lbs nutritional yeast
2 lbs dried, unsweetened coconut
4 lbs golden flax seeds
2 Kal Stevia
8 oz carob powder
1 lb rolled oats
1 lb kidney beans
1.5 lbs split peas
1 lb barley
2 lbs vital wheat gluten
2 lbs white whole wheat flour
Fiber One Cereal
3/4 package raisin bran cereal
4 28 oz canned tomatoes
small amount cocoa powder
white sugar
sugar free maple syrup
teeny bit brown sugar
6 boxes herbal tea
1 box black tea
2 lb dried tomato powder
2 lbs dried red and green peppers
liquid smoke
5 lbs tvp
2 lbs sunflower seeds
1 lb garbanzo beans
1 lb cashews
1.5 lbs sesame seeds
4 lbs black sesame seeds (I need to check these.. they may not be fresh)
1 lb chia seeds
8 oz balsamic vinegar
8 oz red wine vinegar
17 oz white balsamic vinegar
8 oz truffle oil
4 oz EVOO
2 oz sesame oil
16 oz dark soy sauce
2 tubes wasabi
8 oz wing sauce
8 oz popcorn
18 oz fleur de sal
18 oz psyllium husks
2 jars almond butter
1 jar peanut butter
1/2 jar tahini
1/2 jar tahini
Nori sheets
Nori shreds
rice paper wraps
1/3 package soy curls
16 oz grey poupon
1/2 jar marmite
2 oz soy sauce
12 oz coconut oil
3 cans mandarin oranges
24 oz yellow mustard
5 lbs soybeans
15 oz black olives
8 oz strawberry jelly
1/2 c quinoa
1/2 lb lentils


6 c Eggplant/Quinoa Veggie Soup
Leftover noodles/soycurls (saving to turn into soup)
2 C white beans
2 C white bean soup
8 oz pesto
1 lb edamame
1/3 c active dry yeast
1 lb frozen broccoli
1 lb frozen cauliflower
3 lbs frozen pineapple
1 lb frozen peaches
1 lb frozen mango
1.5 lbs frozen blueberries
2 C Dahl
2 lbs walnuts
1 c refried black beans
1 1/2 c spinach/sausage/tofu filling
2 lbs frozen corn
3 c lentil burger mixture
1 lb tempeh
1 c black eyed peas
1 lb mixed veggies
1 lb frozen strawberries
2 c goddess dressing
4 c almond pulp
16 oz cranberry chutney
3 pieces 100% rye bread
6 slices sprouted bread

2 packages soft tofu
1/2 bunch cilantro
4 c split pea soup
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 small head cabbage
1/2 lb brussels sprouts
Vegenaise ( I bought a gallon of it in December for catering and have quite a bit leftover!)
4 jalapenos
16 oz cranberry chutney
kalamata olives
green olives
cashew cheese (homemade)
1/3 bunch celery
4 packages shirataki noodles
3 lavash (pieces)
6 low carb flax/oat bran tortillas
8 oz alfalfa seeds
1 lb dates
16 oz hot mustard seeds (for sprouting)
3 c various sprouts (and 4 jars that are always sprouting)
1 big package corn tortillas
hoisin sauce
2 c thawed frozen peas
2 lb walnuts
1.5 lb almonds
pickled ginger
2 avocados
1 package wholly guacamole
raw chocolate sauce (12 oz)
1 qt homemade salsa
5 small sweet potatoes
3 small russet potatoes
2 onions
3 garlic bulbs
4 lemons
3 limes
4 apples

I finally went grocery shopping yesterday. I bought all produce with the exception of 2 lbs of lentils and 2 rolls of toilet paper. I spent $24.80. I shopped at Market Basket on Lafayette Road in Portsmouth, NH.

I got a lot of loot!
Normally, I would buy organic spinach, but they were out. I really wanted baby spinach so I looked at my options and found the 9oz bag for the same price as the 7oz container. I usually pay 2.99 for 5 oz organic spinach and it's worth it to me. I got 9 small to medium red peppers!

The discounted produce was a huge bag of mixed potatoes and a bag of 4 very large onions. I was going to buy 2 lbs of onions for $1.29, but went with the discounted onions for $.99.

Given my very stocked pantry and the horrible news of my X's layoff (I depend on child support money to LIVE... we share custody of our kids and he is MORE THAN GENEROUS.. but if he doesn't have a job well... uuggghh)...

I digress...

I was saying that given my BEAUTIFULLY STOCKED PANTRY AND FREEZER I should definitely be able to only spend 15 dollars next week on produce. I have so much to work with and I am very fortunate.

Total spent this month: $34.80

Total banked in bulk foods fund: $10.00

Total left for the week: $0.00

Sunday, February 15, 2009

$3.33 a day: Pantry Inventory and Raw Pie!

The Good Stir Fry

The picture is a repost and I didn't use red pepper or scallions to top my dish. (My camera battery was dying and the lighting was horrible.. I was at my old house)..

I have blogged many times about this dish. It is my kids favorite food. Many years when we lived in Fairfield, Iowa we used to eat at the Thai Deli. My oldest son was 5 when we left, but he still remembers the food! They had a potato/green bean coconut curry that was so delicious along with their spicy noodles (and everything on the menu). I just looked up the restaurant and it's still in business! If you're ever near Fairfield, Iowa give them a try!

Anyway... I digress! My inspiration for this dish was based on that potato/green bean curry and I managed to re-create (and maybe ever better it!) years ago. I serve this over rice and my kids being 6 and 7 just called it a stir fry. The first time I made it they went on and on about "what a good stir fry it is" and asked me to make "the GOOD STIR FRY" over and over, hence the name.

Valentines Day, it seemed fitting to make their favorite dish (and I had the ingredients on hand). I made a big batch of it and left them the leftovers. I will dig up the recipe and post it later this week.

Since it was V-Day, I thought I should make a special treat for the kids. I looked around my kitchen and decided to make chocolate cake with a coconut strawberry filling a raw chocolate
ganache" type topping. I thawed a package of frozen strawberries and mixed it with stevia, chia seeds, balsamic vinegar and a touch of sea salt. I removed some of it and mixed it with dried unsweetened coconut, hot water and just a touch of psyillium husk. I went out for a bit and while I was out decided that I would make a coconut cake instead of chocolate cake... but I didn't really feel like turning the oven on.. (I try to only use the oven when I bake a lot of things to save electricity).. so an idea came to me to make a raw pie! I used the coconut/strawberry mixture as the crust, made a filling out of coconut, coconut oil, cashews, stevia and a tiny bit of honey (I use honey, I know many vegans don't and that's fine for you. I personally and OK with it. I put this in my ice cream maker and added the strawberries. The chocolate sauce was made from water, cashews, cocoa powder, stevia and coconut oil. I froze the mixture for around 4 hours before serving..

Raw Chocolate Strawberry Coconut Pie
I personally had a teeny tiny piece and left the rest at the house for the boys to enjoy. (this was not my piece)

More sprout goodness. I had a teeny bit of arugula left, so I topped this roti with last of the tofu chese, sprouts and 1/8 an avocado. The dressing is the 1000 island I made.

Speaking of sprouts, I sprout on an ongoing basis. I have at least 4 2 QT jars going at all times now. That way, I always have a fresh supply on hand.

I am doing a complete pantry/fridge and freezer inventory today so I can get an idea of exactly what is on hand. I know I have a lot! I'll post it tomorrow.

As of today, Feb. 15th, I have only spent $10.00 on groceries!

I am banking the $10.00 from last week into my bulk buying fund. I plan on spending as little as possible this week too so I can add to my bulk fund. I will be running out of sprouting seeds in two weeks.

If anyone local is reading me, I would love to go in on a $50.00 order of sprouting seeds. $50 dollar orders qualify for free shipping. I'd definitely spend at least $25.00.. so if you're near Portsmouth, NH and want to share an order with me, email me! (you can find a link to my email on my profile page)

Friday, February 13, 2009

$3.33 a day: Dinner for breakfast, Soup and Burger recipes

Fried Rice

I can't believe I still haven't been shopping! It's the 13th and I've only spent $10.00 this month!
I'm going to try to keep it as low as possible and bank the rest of the money in a Bulk Food Fund. I am a big believer of buying in bulk and it definitely saves money (as long as you do your homework and make sure you calculate shipping costs and the like.)

Speaking of funds, I have been paying cash for everything and keeping my grocery money in envelopes. When I get home, I put it away. I do not take my debit card or check book with me when I leave the house.

OK, onto the food. The last time I made brown rice, I cooked an entire pound. I used it in a couple of dishes and froze the rest in 1 cup batches. You want to be careful with leftover rice because it can cause food poisoning. Do not let it sit out for any longer than it takes to cool and use the leftovers within a day or two at the very most. I put half of my batch into the freezer as soon as it's cool. This morning, I had a tiny bit of kale left, some ginger, garlic and peas so I made a quick fried rice for breakfast. I topped it with toasted sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, siracha and cilantro. I would have liked more kale. I have to get to the store soon!

Nutrition facts:
2 T of Nutritional Yeast provide: 8 grams of protein not to mention tons of B vitamins including B-12 (I use Red Star)
1 oz Sesame Seeds provide: 4 g fiber, 5 g protein, 28% RDA calcium, 23% RDA iron

Chipotle Split Pea Soup (click for recipe)

I made a big pot of this soup yesterday. I think it's one of my favorite foods ever. There's something about split pea soup that is just so comforting and satisfying. I also made a foccacia from the freshly milled millet/wheat flour. I wasn't very pleased with it though. Next time I will probably just mill the wheat if I make a big batch of dough because it seemed like the millet grew bitter the longer it sat. Oh well, live and learn. It wasn't inedible, but it was great either.

Sprout Salad, Quesadilla with Tofu Cheese

I cleaned out my freezer and found 3/4 loaf of sprouted bread, a pack of flax and oat bran tortillas and some lavash. I also found 2 16oz containers of cranberry chutney I made and froze at the end of November.

Seitan and Cranberry Roll Up (old pic from several years ago)

I made my youngest son seitan roll ups to go in his lunch. He loved them. His only had arugula, cranberry sauce and a smokey dijon aioli .
All American Burgers (pic from a couple years ago)

I made a batch of these burgers. We've been eating them on sprouted bread with a special sauce and arugula and coleslaw. I had to improvise a little bit from my usual recipe, but they were still great.

Here's my All American Burger Recipe. I created this recipe for Cafe Indigo when I worked there ages ago and and have served them at Blue Moon as well. They are delicious and very good for you. They freeze well too.

All American Burgers
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups TVP
1 T garlic powder
2 T onion powder
1/2 t oregano
1 t sage
1 t paprika
2 T flax meal
1/3 c nutritional yeast
3/4 cup ground oats
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
Wet Ingredients:
2 cups boiling water
2 T light miso
1 T braggs or low sodium tamari (you can increase it to 2 T, but start
with 1 so it's not too salty)
1/2 t liquid smoke (even if you don't like liquid smoke, try it once
in this recipe. You don't taste the smoky taste, but it adds an
amazing flavor)
4 T ketchup
1 1/2 T dijon mustard
1 T toasted sesame oil (again, very important to the flavor so don't
subsitiute this the first time)
1 T balsamic vinegar
combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and chill. Use
1/2 cup of mixture per burger and cook in a cast iron on medium heat
for around 4 minutes a side. I like to make mine really flat and thin.
They taste really good if they get a little brown, so don't worry
about that.
Yields around 10
**You may need to add a little more or less breadcrumbs depending on
the humidity and the TVP you use.

Special Sauce:
1/2 cup HOMEMADE LOWER FAT vegenaise or nayonaise (or tofu)
2 t onion powder
1 large garlic clove, pressed
1 T sweet relish
1 T dijon mustard
2 T ketchup
1/8 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
pepper to taste

Total Spent this month: $10.00
Total Left this Week: $10.00

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

$3.33 a day: Perspective

Sesame Stir Fry, Soy Curls and Noodles

Our dinner last night was delicious. My enthusiasm is back for this challenge! It's interesting because I don't really like soycurls. That is evident by the fact I haven't used them in forever and they have been in my pantry. I did not grow up eating meat and obviously have no use for most of the fake meat products out there. That being said, knowing my youngest son likes them, I was happy to make a dinner that he loved. The noodles were in my pantry, from the local Chinese market. (Lo's for those of you who are in Portsmouth or nearby).. I chopped up a bunch of ginger, garlic and onion and used the noodle cooking liquid along with some of my homemade Sesame Ginger Dressing/Sauce for this dish. I rehydrated the curls and let them cook over very low heat for several hours to soak up the flavors. The broccoli was frozen (and from my freezer bought for $1.00/lb)..

My son loved this dish and after cutting the soycurls into teeny tiny pieces, I liked it too. We ate all of the broccoli, but had noodles and some soycurls/sauce leftover, so into the freezer they went. I will use this next week to make a hot and sour type soup.

Part of the reason I'm so excited again about this budget is that my kids are totally on board! They are not upset that there is no milk in the house. They are enjoying the popcorn with nutritional yeast as a snack and muffins for breakfast..

Speaking of muffins.....

Pumpkin Banana Chai Muffins

I think these may be the BEST muffins I've ever made. Seriously... I would not change anything about them. I used my Vita Mix to grind whole wheat flour and added a teeny bit of chickpea flour to the dry mix, along with baking powder, soda, sea salt, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper. I used super ripe bananas, pumpkin, soy protein powder, flax, canola oil, sugar and stevia in the wet mix.

Initially, I was planning on banana bread, but the batter was too thin for that. In fact, I had doubts it would work at all, but I decided to give it a try and make muffins and a cake. I could tell how coarse the batter was from the freshly milled flour... it felt and looked like it had cornmeal in the batter. I was pretty sure the muffins/cake would be horrible..

What a shock! They were PERFECT! How I wish I had written down the recipe. When these are gone, I am going to try to re-create a similar muffin and write down what I'm doing.

My younger son is not a fan of muffins, but he tried this and was blown away and said they tasted better than anything he has had in a NON VEGAN bakery! (He is an anti-vegan when it comes to baked goods)..
The Perfect Muffin.

I had some silken tofu left, so I made a mock cheese spread. Usually I use Ume vinegar and miso in my spreads, but I had to make do with what I had on hand. Green olives added a great flavor to this spread..

I made a fresh tortilla (from the dough from two posts ago) and topped it with a 1000 island type dressing, sprouts and the cheese spread. Green olives finished it off. I don't think I'll ever make such a round tortilla again! They usually come out very oval shaped.

Thanks for all of your comments and emails! I will definitely be replenishing my pantry one item at a time. I was just throwing a little temper tantrum in my last post.

Total Money Spent THIS MONTH: $10.00

Total left to spend this week: $10.00

Next week, when I can spend the whole $25.00 I will feel RICH at the grocery store!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

$3.33 a day: Starting to feel the pinch

Pumpkin Chia Breakfast Pudding

First, this pudding is delicious. I used 8 oz silken tofu, 1 c canned pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, stevia, lemon juice and chia seeds. Topped with a bit of high fiber cereal, it is a healthy alternative to the oatmeal I've been eating. This made two large servings and my son enjoyed it too. I will probably use the rest of the tofu and pumpkin in a pasta sauce for dinner.

OK.. I will admit that this challenge is starting to get hard. I still have quite a bit of food to work with and I only spent my $10.00 last week. I haven't spent anything yet this week and again, am only giving myself $10.00 to work with.

I'm very low on coffee and silk creamer. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this situation. I really enjoy 2 big cups of coffee everyday with french vanilla silk. My oldest son also drinks a cup in the mornings when he's here. I usually buy fair trade, organic coffee not only for the environmental implications, but I am a coffee snob and it tastes better. I think I spend around 8 bucks a week just on this alone, so obviously it is NOT in my budget. I could cut down to small cup a day or I could drink black tea with vanilla soymilk instead.

I'm also having a bit of an emotional hard time with this for several reasons. As anyone who has read me for a while knows, my relationship with food is quite complicated. I know I use it for comfort and have tried many ways to break this cycle. I also use cooking and creating new recipes as a way to relax. I REALLY enjoy thinking up new recipes and finding fun ingredients to work with. I have come up with so many awesome recipe ideas in my head, but I don't have the ingredients and it is frustrating. I know I can push myself to create fun foods with what I have in the house, but I have run out of some of my GOTO ingredients like braggs, miso, fresh herbs, veggies, umeboshi vinegar and some spices. I would need at least $25.00 to replace what I am missing.

Another thing, my boys are 15 and 17. They eat a lot and I'm trying to feed them as healthy of a diet as possible, so that is a challenge. It's a stretch to be creative and provide a large amount of food with limited ingredients. They are not vegan and I usually keep some cheese and milk on hand for them.

The last thing that is frustrating me is that I had to cut my cable and internet connection. I only had basic, but obviously I can't afford anything at all extra right now. I have been able to pick up neighborhood wireless at least, so that is a huge relief. I can't get any stations at all on TV. I hate to admit, but I really enjoyed TV. I know I'll get used to all of this (and so will the kids) but right now it kind of sucks. That being said, on a larger scale, I see that all of this is a HUGE growth opportunity for me. I am VERY fortunate and I have a roof over my house, I am safe. I live in a country where I feel safe.

OK.. enough kvetching and onto the food!

Arugula, 3 sprout and pumpkin seed salad with ranch

My alfalfa sprouts are finally done! They aren't GREEN yet. They are sitting in the window as I type this. The final process in sprouting is to rinse the hulls away and drying. I do this in my salad spinner. Rinse several time and spin as dry as possible. Next, spread on plates or platter lined with a clean dishtowel or paper towels and set in a sunny place for at least 24 hours. Change the towels when they are and turn the sprouts over. You want them to be 100% dry before you put them in the fridge. The drying process will allow your sprouts to keep for 5-6 days in the fridge. I like to put mine in a Tupperware wrapped in a paper towel (you can re dry the paper towels from the draining process and use it) or better yet a cloth dish towel. (I need to do laundry or I would be using the cloth)

Still drinking the green smoothies. I am out of spinach and only have a tiny bit of kale left. Arugula is pretty good in the smoothies, but I wouldn't give it to a novice green drinker! hehe

We've almost killed off the white bean/sweet potato chowder from last post. I have a 2 cup portion in the freezer for later and 2 cups of the white beans in the freezer. That pound of beans went VERY far and isn't done giving!

I made a quart and a half of salsa using canned tomato, jalapenos, onions, garlic, spices, lime juice and cilantro. It really spicy and delicious and best of all only cost around $2.00 for the 6 cup batch!
White Bean, Bulgar and Kale Chili

I should just give up and re-name this blog SOUP and BURGERS. I am boring myself with the food (this is what I was talking about earlier).. While this was delicious, I am sick of the flavors and ingredients. I used leftover white beans, kale and salsa to create this soup. I topped it with tofu ranch. It was extremely flavorful, but as I said, I'm sick of these flavors.

Total Amount spent this week: $0

Total Left: $10.00