Month: October 2012

My Daily Bread

So I cheated. “What Lorelei? You cheated on day three of pumpkin eating? How could you? How can we trust you for the rest of the month to fulfill your pumpkin duty??” I know, I know. BUT. I cheated with a pumpkin spice latte. And while there is no actual pumpkin in those things, they are one of the most popular pumpkin-flavored food items in the world (source not found). I mean, it’s not autumn until you’ve had a nice hot latte that smells and tastes like melted pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie that wakes your ass up at work when you had yet another night full of weird dreams. Side note, no more reading Dances with Dragons right before falling asleep.

Soy Half Caff Pumpkin Spice Latte. What a mouthful! Made with Torani syrup. The barista let me read the label, because I was curious on what spices were actually in it. Yah, it’s sugar and “natural flavors”. So who knows. But it tasted great!

Yesterday my pumpkin item was my breakfast smoothie. Last year I posted about my daily food intake, and I was surprised to see very little has changed. It’s important to me to try and eat healthy and often (with the occasional latte or cobbler bar, of course), so my food intake looks mostly like this:

  • First thing in the morning: Smoothie! Brought to you by our new Vitamix! Made with non-dairy milk (soymilk if I’ve made some recently, almonds & water if I haven’t), hemp protein powder, kale (from the garden!), a handful of frozen berries, and a scoop of peanut butter. Variations include different fruit, carob powder, and hemp oil. For the pumpkin smoothie, I replaced the berries for 1/2c. of canned pumpkin and added some cinnamon and nutmeg. We’ll drink this smoothie down while making lunches/getting dressed – with it we have a vegan DHA pill and a vegan multivitamin.
  • Breakfast (roughly 10am): Oatmeal. At work we each keep some quick cooking oats, almonds, and raisins. Just put in a bowl, add some hot water and voila!
  • Lunch (roughly 12:30pm): Piece of fresh fruit and either a small sandwich or leftovers from dinner the night before. Sometimes we’ll make a tempeh rice bowl. Sometimes we’ll throw together a salad and bring it if lunch doesn’t look filling.
  • Snack (roughly 3pm): Soyyogurt (we live off Wildwood, but I want to start making our own soon!) with a few frozen berries mixed in. Sometimes we’ll bring a small second lunch.
  • Dinner (roughly 6-7pm): The usual vegan fare – we try to always include a complete protein (we’re big rice and bean eaters) and some kind of vegetable or green. We also try to make something that will produce leftovers as often as we can – it’s a great week when we have time to make a casserole.
  • Snack (roughly 9pm): If I’m not going to sleep too early, I’ll usually have a piece of peanut butter toast, or some air-popped popcorn, or a couple pieces of licorice.

I’m sure there’s some room for improvement, but for two people with crazy busy schedules, we do very well on eating well-rounded homemade goods. It’s funny to see the amount of tupperware I pull out of my bag at work though! We manage to keep it at $70/week for groceries for the two of us (which, considering the oils, vitamins, and other specialty items, I’m totally okay with), and we stay full, healthy, and strong enough to cycle.

Pumpked!

So, beyond blogging constantly, I’ve promised to eat something made with pumpkin each day of October. We haven’t done our weekly shopping yet (I had a cross race on Sunday, give me a break!), so at about 10pm last night, J and I hopped over to New Seasons last night to see if we could find any vegan pumpkin treats. Nothing like cutting it close to the first deadline.

Luckily, they had some Pumpkin Pie Cobbler Bars made by Black Sheep Bakery (their website seems to be down, or I’d link to them) fresh in the deli case.

This is what I look like when I eat? Anyway, you can see that the bar is massive – we bought just the one to split and it was more than enough. Their cobbler bars are soooo good, and this one was very moist with a nice crumble top. I would have preferred a thicker pumpkin layer, but I did also appreciate that the flavor wasn’t totally overwhelming. I’m looking forward to cooking with pumpkin myself, but it’s really nice that Portland has so many vegan pumpkin-y treats available.

Since the picture of my pumpkin smoothie from today is still on my camera, let’s instead talk about the health benefits of pumpkin! Because even though I’m doing this for the kitsch factor, pumpkin is still a pretty amazing squash. And you know, it’s great to learn CUZ KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.

  • Pumpkin is one of the lowest calorie vegetables (I’m assuming after lettuce and celery?), but it’s super rich in fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins, making it great for weight loss (just ask my friend’s dog, seriously).
  • Pumpkin seeds are rich in protein! One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains about seven grams of protein. How do you like that, fellow vegans? They’re also rich in fatty acids.
  • Pumpkin is super high in carotenoids, helping prevent premature aging,  cardiovascular diseases, and protecting the eyes from degeneration. Basically, pumpkins are the fountain of youth. Oh, and since this is the same stuff that’s in carrots and sweet potatoes, yes, it can turn your skin orange. Like I said, should be an interesting month.
  • Pumpkin is high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, and Fiber. I feel healthier from my cobbler bar already!
  • “Pumpkin flesh contains L-tryptophan, a chemical compound that triggers feelings of well-being and happiness. Having pumpkin as a part of your daily diet can keep your spirits high and prevent depression.”  You guys! I’m going to be in a perpetual thanksgiving comma! This is getting better and better.
  • Information found at: http://www.bewellbuzz.com/nutrition/pumpkin-health-benefits/ (with some cross-checking on other sites)

Pies!

First 21012 VeganMoFo post! I think it’s going to be a good month, between cooking, eating pumpkin every day (though I’m already finding it difficult – we’ll see how long this lasts), and cyclocross. Although today is the first day of October, this month really kicked off for me on Saturday with a run to Bob’s Red Mill (pantry: stocked!), Dave’s Killer Bread (freezer: stocked!), and ton of pie making.

J said that I should save all my trials and tribulations for the end of my posts, but I do want to note one thing I learned: whenever you estimate cooking time, add an hour. For being a such a timely person, I’m terrible at estimating how long something will actually take to cook (probably because I used to ‘cook’ with pre-made goods that only required heating), and starting to bake pies at 4:30pm for a 7pm party was a bad idea. Needless to say, we were about an hour late.

However, we ended up making some kick-ass food! J loves fruit pies, and made an apple blackberry pie, sweetened only with blueberry juice (seriously, the only sugar was a tiny bit mixed in his glaze for the crust).  We both made a half white/half whole wheat crust with vodka – I had a little sugar in mine though.

The chef mixing the pie crust together. He actually has a great pastry cutter, but I had stolen it at that point. Note his amazing cat apron.

The crust came together so easily and held together great! I really noticed the difference with the vodka and was very impressed with the flakiness. Still not convinced that chilling the dough does anything, but hey, better safe than sorry.

The fruit and juice was stewed together on the stove and left to sit and congeal for awhile. Did you know apples have natural pectin that make this process go very well? Of course, a little cornstarch never hurt.

Blurry, but you can see the pretty colors of the fruit in the crust! Was all I could do to keep from spooning tastes out at this point.

Mr. J glazing the top of the pie with almond milk, a touch of sugar, and cinnamon. Note the crazed pie look. Note the cat apron. Note that we used Vegan Pie in the Sky for the crust recipe and info on baking times.

The final pie. Isn’t she beautiful? Looking at this picture makes me sad we finished it last night. Great job, J!

I decided to go the savory route and the pain-in-the-ass route, and made individual pot pies! I saw it on Pinterest so OF COURSE IT MUST BE DONE. While completely adorable (and way tasty), I don’t know if all the work is worth it – pie crust is not the easiest dough in the world to manipulate, and by #12 (that’s right, I only made 12, deal with it), I was cursing all pies. I may try it again, but I may have to learn some new techniques for rolling out.

My slop. Adapted from the All-American Seitan Pie in the Veganomicon – the biggest differences being no celery and store bought seitan (what’s up, Upton’s!). Using the dutch oven was the best idea I had, this made WAY more than I thought it would. I still have enough filling for a 9-inch pie!

Look at them! All cute and mini! They look like they’ll never come out of the pan, don’t they? I sure spent the next two hours freaking out about that. What’s wonderful about this size though is that they only took 30 minutes to bake.

I need to work at taking better pictures. But you get the idea. They came out! In one piece! Fairly easily! And tasted good! It almost makes the effort worth it.

So there you have it. Most likely the longest post and most baking I will do this entire month.