What's on the menu at the Leafy today?

Many people ask WHAT DO YOU EAT? I hear this so frequently that I am seriously considering renaming this blog "WhatdoesMiMieat" or just "MiMi Eats"  I thought perhaps I should post a page which has my food diary. Well here it is, an answer to the question that inquiring minds want to know. A day in the life of MiMi's eats or the menu at the Leafy. Most meals depend on how much time I have. If I'm rushing to get out of the house to be at work on time I'm lucky to get anything into my gullet. Its a bit difficult to give the actual menu in advance so I'll just give the idea of the menu.

OK, this is the deal, I stay away from processed food and eat primarily a whole foods plant based diet. I say primarily because there are things that are minimally processed that we use regularly and I'm not perfect so there are some "bad" processed foods that slip in too, like the occasional tortilla chip or Daiya's non-dairy cheese. Silk soy creamer still makes its way into my single cup of morning Joe. I love to bake cookies and make frozen treats so even though these are low in fat, they still contain sugar and we eat them way more than we should. I use the word "we" here but most of this diet/lifestyle choice is all about me. Others around me will eat what I cook but they are by no means on the same track and often pine for chicken and cheese. (you know who you are, David) :-)

First, just keep in mind its all plant-based with no animal products in this kitchen. From time to time when we have guests coming to stay and we must have food for them, I really have to be vigilant about cross contamination. In an animal product-free kitchen, you never worry about this.  Another thing, we rarely use added oil or fat of any kind when preparing a meal but when we do, its either canola oil or pan spray and from time to time, earth balance or nut butters.


Breakfast:
Pretty much EVERY morning starts with Oatmeal.  You can find a great poem by Kinnell titled Oatmeal here thanks to the blog Compass Rose (I love compass roses). If I know I have an early start for work (my schedule is all over the place) I will often prepare in advance. This has been boring at times so I do experiment with other grains, savory rather than sweet variations of oat preparation and the occasional tofu scramble or roasted potato brunch type dish. I have discovered a great resource for Oatmeal recipes from Healthy Slow Cooking including this one for Almond Joy Oatmeal which is Great!!

Since Santa was sooo awesome and on the mark this Christmas delivering a Vita-mix, smoothies now have a place on the Cafe menu. I try to put as many greens in the hopper as I can but the latest smoothies have had red cabbage, fennel, celery, a few dates, a few frozen berries, 1/2 banana & some Pomegranate juice (and H2O) which gives them this beautiful magenta color. This one was even percolating, I wonder what that's about??
 
I can sip on the smoothie as I drive to work, during the course of the morning, or just chug it all at once, especially if I do not have any oatmeal.  A new breakfast discovery, I now occasionally have a piece of Ezekiel bread or 1/2 muffin, toasted with  Almond Butter and a bit of homemade jam. YES, I said almond butter, I use about 1t. if that which might be about 80 calories, all from fat but its plant-based, non saturated fat. Ezekiel sprouted grain baked goods have become about the only breads I eat these days. I love the Bible story about Ezekiel and the Wheel, its one of my faves and I'm sure its about extra-terrestrials!

 
Lunch:
Often a salad, big on greens, usually has a big handful of that already prepared Broccoli Slaw mix which usually contains bits of broccoli, carrots & red cabbage.  No dressing. No traditional dressing that is. I use salsa, fresh salsa, thats the easiest and quickest. Sometimes I will go to the trouble to make dressings from a Fat Free Vegan recipe or use one of Dr. McDougall's recommended store-bought dressings and I use it sparingly. I'm lucky that I'm not one of those people who needs their salads drenched in liquid, never have been.

Salad alternatives? Soups, stews, leftovers from the dinners past. I am making soup stock right now. I save all of the scraps from the veggies we eat, carrot peelings, celery tops and bottoms, potato & onion skins, etc. in a baggie in the freezer until I have enough to make stock. We use a lot of stock here, in place of any oil when we saute, in sauces, soups and stews, in cooking grains. Today I will make Lentil Barley Soup, one of my mom's tried and true recipes for a yummy soup. (she did not have too many, bless her heart). Here is a video of me making mom's lentil barley soup:
 
Dinner:
I have already confessed that I rarely use recipes for the food I prepare. I look in the fridge and just combine things that I have on hand to make a meal and often eat leaf-tovers (oops, I mean left-overs). Last night's dinner, (which was YUMBO btw), was a remake of dinner from 2 nights ago. A "lasagna" of sorts with polenta on the bottom, sauteed collards with shitake mushrooms in the center and three bean veggie chili on top.  I don't cook with wine nearly as much as I used to when I was making rich sauces for meat laden meals but I usually drink wine with dinner. Its my signal that the work of the day is done, time to relax, let go and breathe.
Snacks and Desserts:
Not a big "snacker" lucky I guess, but if I'm feeling peckish, I'll nibble on a piece of fruit, some carrots with hummus or guacamole (not much, remember!!) I'm always reminding David that the package of hummus has 10 servings, not 1!! He likes his hummus with bread (not carrots :-()  but this is better than his old snack of bread and cheese or bread dipped in copious amounts of olive oil!! Baby steps honey! Sometimes I'll make a bean dip or have some chips with salsa, Guiltless Gourmet are the preferred chip, if you can find them! Be sure you read the label as not all of the GG products are guilt-free!
Latley I have been making soft-serve "ice cream" from bananas, after reading this blog. As I mentioned earlier, I also make many cakes, cookies and muffins. Most recently I have also made some puddings like this one from The Cancer Project: Chocolate Tofu Pudding.

Well, that's about it folks. As I dive deeper into this wonderful exploration of life, love, food and happiness, I realize it is all much simpler than I ever imagined. I find that really, there is no reason not to have just a baked sweet potato for a meal, or a salad at breakfast!  Or to quote someone else who's name I can't remember "No reason to sweat the small stuff, and its all small stuff"! Be on the look out for future posts about WHY MiMi eats this way and what we like to do up here on the Ridge to BURN our calories, so that we may eat MORE!!!
Slainte!

Celeriac or Celery Root





Here is a variation of what Sandy had to say about Celeriac after she correctly guessed the answer to the Leafy Cafe Meatless Monday riddle: What is in my soup? I'm making Soup from something ugly, hairy & delicious! Can you guess what it is? 

"As a part of the Apiacea/Umbelliferae family, these plants are felt to hold alot of Air as the main element. So the foods(from this group) move fluids and blood and improve circulation and vascular strength. The root being the earthiest part of this plant has more sweetness and subtle warmth but (when) blended in dishes that have starchier vegs like potatos,squash,etc...
Celeriac will bring springiness to the meal."


I promised to post this recipe on TUESDAY but life got in the way, sorry! While we were visiting David's mum in England, she made some delicious vegan soups. I recreated one of these for Meatless Monday using some additional veggies we had on hand. Here are both recipes, both are delicious! Cheers to good taste!


Celeriac Soup with Vegan Chorizo Garnish

Pauline's Recipe
Celeriac Soup.
1 medium or large celeriac.
1 large onion.
3 carrots.
2 pints vegetable stock
1 oz vegan margarine.
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. peel celeriac and carrots and chop into large pieces. peel and chop onion.
2. melt margarine and saute onion until soft. Add celeriac and carrots salt and pepper cover and cook for 10 minuets stirring often. Add stock and simmer for 20 minuets until tender.
Puree in blender . If this is too thick add a little more stock or soya milk to get your desired consistency.


MiMi's Recipe:
Celeriac, Sweet Potato & Apple Soup with Fennel & Vegan Chorizo.
1 med. celeriac, peeled and diced
1 lg, onion, diced
3 carrots, washed and chopped
1 lg. yukon gold or other potato peeled & diced
1 lg. sweet potato, p & d (guess what that means:-)
1 - 2 apples ( I used galas because that is what I had) p & d
1/2 fennel bulb (only because I had to use it, it could be omitted)
4 - 6 cups veggies stock or water

1. Steam-saute onion in a bit of veggie stock or water in large soup pot until tender.
2. Add Celeriac, potatoes, & carrots and cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Add additional stock or water and simmer for 20 min or until veggies are tender.
4. Add apple and fennel and simmer for 10 min. more.
5. Puree with immersion blender or in a traditional blender in small batches, be careful! until desired consistency adding more stock if needed.
Optional garnish: crumbled vegan chorizo and a tiny bit of vegan sour cream. A little goes a very long way! 




















We're just back from a week in England...

Leek & Potato Soup Recipes are at the bottom of the post so you will read this stuff first!

It was a great trip, just some family time to see David's mum's new digs in Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent. Pauline’s condo is a part of the Trentham Estate which dates back to 1086! Her house is part of a revitalization of the estate built for the Duke of Sutherland between 1833 & 1850.  The buildings and surrounding gardens are Italianate style and we loved waking up feeling like we were in Italy each day.

The weather was cooperating nicely on most days so we had some brisk walks on the lane and around the lake at Trentham Gardens. We befriended two silly ponies along the way and fed them apples each time we went by.  
We had high hopes to make a side trip to London to make some business calls and visit with my friend Andrea. Andi is a bit "veganish" these days after reading Skinny Bitch and The Kind Diet  (courtesy of guess who) and she had "sussed" out a great veg restaurant for us to have dinner. A place called SAF.  We are so sad to have missed out on that and a visit with you Andi, next time for sure!

I must confess, I was a bit concerned about food before we left Maine, wondering what we might eat (or not eat) while in the UK. As many of you know, I have been following a plant-based diet for 2 years now. Although I have found its easy to give up meat and dairy, it has not always been so easy to maintain my usual diet of healthy, low-fat plant based foods while traveling.  Another scary thing, David's mother Pauline is a fantastic cook who entertains often. Why is that so scary you say? Because my mother always told us to eat what was served to us, whether we liked it or not I knew we would be mighty tempted to stray from our favorite veggie standards such as salads or baked potato when enticed by Pauline's daily menus a la Le Cordon Bleu.  Most meals would surely contain butter, cream, cheese, bacon, did I say butter, double cream and ham with a bit of meat on the side. Oh, and to balance out the meat, some veggies, perfectly steamed, with a bit of butter on the side.   We arrived on Monday to find Pauline  beavering away at the stove. We were just in time for a delicious lunch!
Pol stirring the pot!
Oh what is she cooking, I thought to myself. How will I ever explain our food choices? OK, here we go, just let it be MiMi, no big deal. After the initial greetings and some time spent chatting and catching up we were informed that there would be a simple Leek and Potato Soup for lunch. Whew, I'm thinking that sounds do-able, if she leaves out the cream and hasn't sauteed the veggies in butter! When Pol served the soup, I inquired about the recipe trying to suss out the amount of cream and butter involved. We were pleasantly surprised to find the soup was prepared vegan style and in fact there were even many vegan ingredients in the house such as soy milk, some English version of Earth Balance, organic oatmeal and tons of fruits and veggies.  All of this to help us feel more welcome in her new home, Pauline really went out of her way. 
I don't know about you but one of my favorite things to do when I visit another country is to go to the food market, grocery store, or whatever the local equivalent might be. This is what we did for most of the week hitting both ends of the market spectrum.  Pol took us to Brown & Green artisan/sustainable market in Trentham Gardens within walking distance to her place and then to the nearly wal-mart sized Tesco. I felt like a kid in a candy store! So many new, unusual or not-able-to-find ingredients. The spice aisles seemed to go on forever and although I don't even usually look for it at home, I felt the need to check out the vegan "junk"  and processed foods section. There were so many interesting and strange things that besides my cache of spices and quick-cook whole grain packets, I did buy some instant "cheez- less" sauce, some vegan mints, and some fake parmesan cheese stuff.  NOT on the plan for sure, but as I mentioned, I don't even know if these things exist in the States so I grabbed them just for the novelty. Pol had a laugh at me, realizing I was buying junk and not real food because even though she cooks foods I choose not to eat these days, Pauline's meals are real, made from scratch, and not processed junk!
                                                         While we were out, mum and son also did some shopping for a few items on their lists:                                   
1. a sound system to keep Pauline singing in the kitchen
2. Valentine Tie for Roy
3. Some new duds for David to help him be more FCUK stylish :-)
singing

shopping









Thanks Pol for being the most gracious and accommodating of hostesses, even if you might not understand or agree with our food choices. And thanks Roy, for your patience, good humor and those challenging games of Rumikub in the evenings! (and for keeping the wine flowing!)
Roy opening wine


Leek & Potato Soup - Two Ways
Pauline's Recipe
Ingredients:
4 Leeks washed and sliced
1. 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1 oz vegan margarine
1. 3/4pints Light vegetable stock
3-4 tablespoons of non-dairy cream (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Method:
1. Fry leeks and potatoes very gently in margarine ,cover for 10 minutes stirring often.
2 Cook gently without browning, still covered for further 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent vegetables sticking to pan.
3.Add stock stir, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until veg. are soft and tender.
4. Puree in blender adding cream if using. Season to taste and sprinkled with a little chopped parsley if liked.
MiMi's Recipe (similar but lower fat)
Ingredients:
1 onion diced
2 -3 leeks light green and white bits,  chopped & washed if needed
2 - 3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped or pressed with garlic press right into saucepan
5 - 6 potatoes (about 2 lbs.) peeled and chopped, I think Yukon Gold would work well
4 - 6 cups of vegetable broth or water
crushed rosemary, salt  & white pepper to taste

Method:




1.Heat a small amount of stock or water in a medium size saucepan.
2. Add the leeks & onion, steam saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion begins to turn translucent.
3. Add the garlic and stir well. Cook for another minute.
4. Add the potatoes and 4 cups of the vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion/stick blender to blend the soup in the pot or ladle the soup into a blender, 1 cup at a time. Blend the soup with the fresh rosemary leaves until smooth and free of chunks. Pour smooth soup into a heat-proof bowl and continue until all of the soup has been blended.
6. Transfer the blended soup back to the original soup pot and warm over low heat until heated through. Add S & P to taste
*this a very simple soup to make and you should feel free to ad lib! 
Every day is Valentine's Day at The Leafy Cafe! Luv Ewes!