Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Have Your Pasta and Protein Too

I haven't heard it lately, but often omnis call vegans "carb loaders" (in a negative way). I love complex carbs and see no reason not to consume them, but it is always nice to have balance. Virginia Messina has posted several times lately on veganism and protein. Take a look. I wholeheartedly agree with making nuts and legumes their own separate categories and not just lumping them together. We love legumes and nuts! I make a double batch of tempeh sausage and freeze half to use whenever we need a quick meal. I cook up some whole wheat pasta, make a puttanesca sauce, thaw out the tempeh, top with chopped walnuts and voila! It is great for quinoa puttanesca as well. It is a great post workout meal.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fried Rice and Product Reviews

While we were in Charlotte, we did cook a bit, not a lot, but some. My father-in-law doesn't have a decent pressure cooker and no rice cooker so brown rice takes a while to cook, but we can't live without brown rice. We made a staple in our house; brown rice, veggies (kale, broccoli, carrots this time), tofu with a tahini sauce on night. Later that week, I used the leftovers for a fried rice lunch. I don't do fried rice often, but it was really good. I added some frozen peas to the mixture since most of the veggies were gone and mixed the tahini sauce in at the end. Since my father-in-law was home for lunch, I added some processed foods we have never tried before. I thought this might sweeten the deal for him...he never eats with us unless Rob is home. It didn't work, he still didn't join in, but the kids loved it! The finished dish tasted a lot like Amy's Kitchen Brown Rice and Vegetables Bowl, this used to be Parker's favorite treat when he was two or three. We don't buy the bowls now, but I'll definitely try to recreate this again at home.
This was our first time buying Gardein products (I think we've had some at a vegan meet-up). Processed foods are more expensive and usually not as healthy as homemade, but this was an impulse buy at the Harris Teeter Express. I think there were four of these lightly seasoned chick'n scallopinis in the bag. I fried them a bit in olive oil and cut them in bite size slices. I think most meat-eaters would find these just as tasty as vegan do. In fact, the texture may be a little too much like chicken for some vegans.
I also fried up some Tofurky Coconut Curry Marinated Tempeh. We eat tempeh quite often, but we've never tried these pre-marinated strips before. Don't worry if you don't like spicy, these strips are not overwhelming, just the right amount of spice to add to any dish. They were quite good, but I find it pretty easy just to marinate tempeh on our own. If you want something quick or you are new to tempeh, I would definitely recommend this product. Both the tempeh and chick'n scallopinis are high in protein, tasty, and easy to make. I wouldn't use them as staples, but nice to have once in a while for a quick addition to a meal.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What I Like About Charlotte

Many of you know that Rob spent the last couple months living in Charlotte, NC. Rob is from a small coastal (Navy base) town in NC. His brother (and family, including our only niece) and father live in Charlotte now and we travel down there a least once a year to see them. We were contemplating a move to Charlotte so we scheduled a two week trip for the kids and I to check out the city. Typically, our visits are full of the cousins playing together and we don't venture out much. I am pretty happy with our little community here in the Midwest so it was a hard sell to get me to even think about a move.  I have to admit, after two weeks I did find some things to like about Charlotte.

This time we stayed at Rob's father's condo in the Myers Park area of Charlotte. I like this area more than where Marc (Rob's brother) and Stephanie (his wife) live just because I found it easy to walk to a grocery store (Harris Teeter Express) with a small selection of organic produce and some vegan specialty items, restaurants (finally found a Thai restaurant I like in Charlotte, Deejai Thai, and they also offer brown rice), parks, and even an adorable little library. We preferred Healthy Home Market to Harris Teeter, but it was nice to be able to run across the street for a few groceries. If we were going to move to the area, I think we would look in the Southend area or Sedgefield.

 Edgehill Park was one of the neighborhood parks within walking distance of my father-in-law's.
This is what the walk to Edgehill Park looks like.
I like the trees in-between the lanes and you can usually find cyclists along this stretch during the day.
The kids had a great time in the spring (felt like summer to us) weather.
Dema (soon to be seven), Parker (11), and Josie (showing you that she is 3 "a magic number").
Dema had a great time going back and forth on the jungle gym. Believe it or not, he lost his second tooth on this trip. He lost his first on our Charlotte trip back in December.
Josie enjoying the warm sun.

Again, we chowed down at The Common Market. We went to both locations. Breakfast wraps at the South End location. This one had tofu scramble with walnuts, spinach, and vegan sausage all wrapped up in green for St. Patrick's Day. Mmm, mmm, good!
Tofu Benedict at Plaza Midwood, oh my goodness was this yummy! I can't wait to go back just to eat breakfast at the The Common Market. Our wonderful community has many things, but vegan breakfast is not one of them.
We used to frequent the Mellow Mushroom for their Mega Veggie pizza back in our pre-kid days when we commuted to Atlanta from DC and post-kid days in Asheville, NC on the way to Charlotte. Mellow Mushroom has brought it up a notch by offering Daiya vegan cheese, booyah!
We took advantage to Mellow Mushroom being just down the street from my father-in-laws and ate there a few times during our two week visit.
The kids thought it was all kinds of fun to be able to order a pizza with vegan cheese and tofu.

Freedom Park wasn't quite within easy walking distance, but was worth the short drive.
About seven acres of nature, playgrounds, walking paths, etc. it is Charlotte's "central park".
While walking through Freedom Park, Rob confessed that he is really a Midwesterner at heart, southern roots or no.

Thankfully, Rob was offered a job working from home so we don't have to move right now, but it is nice to have some new places to go when we are in NC for visits. I was won over a bit and can see why people move to the Charlotte metro area, but we were all very happy to be back at our home sweet home.