Sunday, September 29, 2013

Homemade, Frugal, Whole Food, Gluten Free, Vegan All Purpose Baking Mix


Several months ago, I experimented with a 100% Whole Food, Frugal All Purpose Flour with pretty awesome results!  I wanted to create this mix from whole foods (not tapioca and other starches) for two reasons.  One, because whole foods are better for you and two, it can be VERY pricey to purchase several varieties of gluten free products to create your own mixes.

Here is the link to the All Purpose Mix.  I used my Vita-Mix, but you can use a $20 coffee grinder instead!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

6 Amazing Vegan Lentil Recipes!


I LOVE lentils.  They are so incredibly versatile!  Not only do they make amazing soups, but they are also an integral part in my Breakfast Breads.  Using legumes in baking provides moisture, bulk, protein, fiber.  You can feel good about eating every single recipe I will be linking to.

The first recipe is for my Ginger Breakfast Bread. This makes a great breakfast or snack, or even dessert.  It is a whole meal food and I started using legumes in my baking back when I was on my Vegan for $3.33 a Day budget and I wanted to get some healthy foods into my then teenage sons for breakfast! I was out of protein powder and oil, which were two ingredients in my then breakfast breads... so I improvised with what I had on hand and never went back to my previous recipes!


Next, is a super simple, but flavorful Indian Spiced Lentil Dish. 


This French Lentil Soup is a lovely alternative to the more traditional, Italian - tomato based lentil soups! It has been a huge hit in all of the restaurants I've worked in from a Wine Bar that catered to the Kennebunk, Maine crowd to the Back Bay Boston peeps and customers of the delis in health food stores. 


My African Letil Dip is sooo savory and addictive!  Served with Pita Chips, Veggies or even Corn Chips, it always sold out as fast as I could make it. 




Lentils are such a huge bang for your buck!  I can still them dried for around $.99/lb on sale!  They cook up in no time and as you can see here, are so versatile! I like to cook up a pound of beans at a time to have on hand for quick use in recipes. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

3 Awesome Dal Recipes!


I LOVE Dal so much, so I wanted to share these three recipes with you.  The spices range from super simple to more complex, so you can probably find one that works well for you.

But first, thanks for the feedback about my E-book on my last post! 

The first recipe, is one taught to me by the Matriarch of the family I used to cook for.  She is from Pakistan and this is her simple recipe.  Everyone who has tried it, loves it and it's really good for people who like simpler food.


The second recipe is a one pot meal for sure, with sweet potato and greens.  It has more traditional dal flavors and is my go to recipe! 


Finally, the third recipe was definitely a clean out the fridge deal, but it was soooo delicious.  Make it just once the way it was written and I guarantee you will make it over and over again! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

All about the E-Book.. feedback needed please!


So, I need your input.  You can either comment here or on my Facebook page..

As most of you know, I was going to be releasing an E-Book, but my recovery from foot surgery has been difficult and emotional and I almost took down my blog/facebook for good.

I am feeling much better emotionally and beginning to feel like I can actually stand long enough to do some cooking, so I figured I'd finish testing the recipes for the book...

...but when I look back at the recipes, I am not inspired.  I think part of it is that the season has changed, and I want to focus on hearty soups. stews and one pot meals...  I always do this time of year, but the other issue is that I am looking at a lot of the recipes, and pictures of the food and it just reminds me of being in pain and feeling out of control with my foot issue.  I have been struggling so much the last almost YEAR really with health issues. Before my foot surgery, I was very ill with C - Diff for months and ended up having a surgery in March...  and even though the food and recipes I have created since January are awesome, I look back on them and remember how I was too sick to even eat the awesome Mole, or how I was in so much pain standing while cooking..  and I just feel like I can't use those recipes.

So.. I am thinking of starting fresh.  A whole foods, vegan (or with vegan options) book with 50 recipes that are mostly one pot meals based on legumes, veggies and whole grains.  It would be very similar to what I've been doing, but with a focus on making things a little easier and simplifying ingredients a bit.

HERE is the link to my Pinterest page with the recipes that were going in the old E-book.. there are definitely SOME in there that I will put in the new book like my Lebanese Eggplant Moussaka with Millet - Lentil Tabouli:


and Moroccan Cabbage Rolls with Lentils and Mint, and Roasted Red Pepper Harissa Sauce


... frankly, I can't do something if I don't feel passionate and excited about it and I really DO want to put my e-book out... but I want it to be MY BABY... and something I feel so happy about..

... so, If YOU are planning on buying my E-book and have your heart set on a recipe I was going to include, could you please let me know which one, so I can include it?

To see the original dishes that were included, please click HERE.

... thanks for bearing with me and the support...

-Melody

6 Awesome Vegan "Cheesy" Veggie Soup Recipes


Yay! It's soup season!  Soup is definitely one of my favorite foods ever and these 6 recipes are super delicious and satisfying.  Here are the links to them.  They are all vegan or have a vegan option and most are gluten free as well.







What are your favorite soups?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Italian Veggie and Tofu Stew with Sprouted Lentils


I just love savory food for breakfast and this clean out the fridge stew came together in 15 minutes or so.  Tofu, onion, garlic, cremini mushrooms, spinach, homemade marinara and a bit of green olive brine, fresh basil and rosemary were simmered for around 10 minutes, then topped with nutritional yeast and a handful of lentil sprouts. Breakfast of champions! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Put the mustard in the brownies... oh yes, I did. Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies.

First of all, thank you so much for the awesome emails and Facebook messages regarding my last post.

Now onto Brownies.  Specifically brownies made from a failed mayonnaise attempt.  Well, actually TWO attempts... but I turned the first batch into some fantastic Chipotle - Garlic - Honey - Dijon Spread (that actually set up like mayo in the fridge.).

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

So, it is pretty strange that I FAILED at making mayonnaise TWICE this morning.  I used to make it on a regular basis when I was the Chef at the Wine Bar.  

I'm still not quite sure what went wrong.  My past mayo making was done in the Vita Mix, in large batches... but I wanted a modest amount... 1 cup of mayo this time, so the first attempt was by hand with a whisk.  FAIL.  Second attempt was via the food processor.  I used a Martha Stewart recipe, which may not be a good one? I would think Martha would KNOW how to make the best mayo out there.... but who knows?


So, it broke and I was kind of pissed off that I had now wasted two cups of oil. I knew there as no way in hell that we'd eat another super fatty dressing/sauce (especially and egg based one, since I probably won't have much of it)...  and I remembered my Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe that uses my Vegan Mayo.. and decided I'd use broken mess of "mayo" as a base for brownies. Now, I have to tell you that I did not come up with the idea of using mayo in cakes.  I think it was a wartime discovery....  I don't know who to give credit to... but I know when I first experimented with it, it was because I had read something, somewhere, probably in some old church cookbook I picked up at the Goodwill or a garage sale.  

I didn't want to make a cake because I only had white whole wheat flour.  I figured, I could make brownies, kind of based on my awesome Vegan, Gluten Free Brownies... but (sooo ironically) modifying my vegan/gluten free recipe to use the broken egg/oil mixture... and what do you know, it worked beautifully!  After I spread the mixture into my baking pan, I was compelled to add around 1 cup of natural peanut butter and swirl it in.

Brownies
  • Mayo Mixture (or 1 cup of mayo)
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325
  2. Mix everything together (Except peanut butter) and spread into a greased 9 by 13 pan. Pour peanut butter on top and swirl in with a fork..
  3. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
  4. Cool completely and cut into 12 - 16 pieces. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Update, explanation for disappearing. Very personal and long.


First, some of the food I've been eating...   after my foot surgery, I briefly tried a VERY low carb diet (20 net carbs per day)..  the food above represented what I ate for a while..  it didn't work well.  Vegetarians are not meant to eat so few carbs..  but I have pretty much changed the way I'm eating and will explain more about that later... (don't worry, I'm NOT eating meat!!)  but first, I want to talk about why I disappeared and give you an update on things.

I feel the need to put a trigger warning for those of you who might be sensitive to child abuse.
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I had surgery on my foot August 30.  My foot situation is complicated and to make a very long story short, the actual surgery I had was to fix damage done to my foot that was inflicted through child abuse.  Due to the abuse and NO medical care for the injury, I have walked very differently my entire life and the stress fractures were a result of the original injury.

The last 4 months or so since I have been actively dealing with this and it has pretty much exhausted every last bit of reserve I have. Mentally, emotionally, and physically.  I have been in pain pretty much non-stop for months. Having to explain to numerous medical professionals the nature of my injury has brought up PTSD.  My foot was getting worse and worse, but I was in extreme denial about it due to both my past AND the fact that my entire profession as a Chef (and walking to and from work) depends on me being able to be on my feet for hours and walk between 3-6 miles a day to get to and from work. 

When I woke up unable to bear any weight on my foot, I ended up in the ER and the doctors took and x-ray and came back and asked me with a very concerned voice, "What happened to your foot."

Initially, I lied.  I said I had no idea, but they pressed me and I finally, for the first time in my life, told someone what happened.  They showed me the XRAY of my foot and how it confirmed exactly what I said..  this was both good and bad, I suppose.  Good because, I have physical proof about something.  Bad because I have physical proof about something I would rather forget about and put out of my mind forever.

Since that day, I have not been able to work. I feel like my life has been stolen from me in many ways.  I struggle with feeling very angry and bitter.  I REALLY struggle, because my main source of coping with stress was WALKING...  and working a physical job.  I have been forced to be so inactive.  I do not have a car.... and really, driving was and is very painful.  (I drive The Boyfriends' car when I absolutely have to)..

So.... why I disappeared.  I had surgery on the 30th.  They attempted to give me a nerve block, so I would be numb for 20+ hours after the surgery. (Because surgery on your foot really, really, really hurts!)  It did not work.  I have a very odd response to many medications.  The nerve block itself, was pretty traumatic...they placed it BEFORE the surgery...  and it resulted in bruising of my leg and no pain relief at all.


My upper inner thigh/knee area was also bruised ....  (the writing on my leg was so they were sure they were operating on my right foot.. I also had writing on my lower leg area.)

The surgery was a day surgery.. and I came home with a prescription for strong narcotic painkillers.  I took the pills as prescribed, and they did help with pain, but they also made me VERY on edge, anxious and agitated...  again, I seem to react to drugs VERY differently than most people.  The first night (Friday night), I was in such SEVERE, horrific pain it did not allow me to sleep.  I was terrified.  I have had 4 other surgeries in my life... but was always in the hospital on IV pain meds for the first couple days after the surgery.  The pain with this surgery took me by surprise and totally terrified me. 

Since I was up, I was on Facebook and put a status up on my MELOMEALS page.. and as is mostly par for the course, I received a lot of support... but 4 hours later, I came back on and received 3 very very negative private messages and saw that I lost over 50 "likes" or "fans" or whatever you want to call them....  and I just pretty much was like FUCK IT.. I AM DONE.. 

Realistically, I realize that most of the people who come to the site are awesome and supportive, but the messages were cruel.. and I have had more than enough CRUEL in my life.  I realized that the whole facebook/blog was actually taking away from my healing...  one of the messages accused me of lying about my foot issue so people would give me money.  The other one said they were happy I was in pain.. because I cause animals pain now that I am no longer vegan.  The third message told me to "Shut up" about my health issues and they are sick and tired of my whining... that they come to my page/site to look at food and recipes not to hear my whine about my foot. 

I think the thing that bothered me the most is that someone might think I am making this up to scam people out of money.  I recently put a donate button my blog because I am pretty desperate for money.  I haven't worked in almost 4 months... and if it wasn't for The Boyfriend, I would be homeless.  That's the reality guys.. it is what it is.  It's embarrassing... mortifying and I hate the fact that I am in this situation. I would NEVER, EVER try to scam anyone ... and I probably don't need to do this, but I feel compelled to...  prove that yes, I had the surgery...  I am not liar trying to scam people out of money.


So, you've seen/heard the worst...  

It has been 3 weeks and 2 days since the surgery.  I am wearing my boot cast almost all the time.  I can't walk or stand for very long...  I start physical therapy on Monday (tomorrow)...  I am struggling every single day with my limited mobility...  I have been off narcotic painkillers for around 2 weeks... but the pain is still pretty intense a lot of the time.  If I have an active day, I am pretty much laid up, in bed with my foot elevated and iced all day.   

This has been really, really hard... and I am not even sure I will keep the blog or facebook page up after this...  if it takes away from my mental reserve, I will not... but I hope that I can just move forward and get back to a happy, productive life. 

Right now, I am not happy.  I hate being so inactive and not able to have a life.  I feel like it has been stolen from me and I don't think I'll ever be able to work again on my feet and walk like I did... I am hoping I will, but right now, I just can't see how I will be able to. 

Hopefully, time will be my friend and I will be walking and working soon... 

So.. there's the explanation.