Monday, 2 July 2012

Happy Vegan Pizza Day!

That's right, it's one of the very best days of the year. Vegan Pizza Day! I don't know who started it, and I don't know who had the original idea. Frankly, I don't care. Is there any better idea than to have an entire day devoted to PIZZA?? Personally, I can't think of any.

I know that all of the non-vegans among you are thinking, "How can you have pizza without cheese?". Trust me, you can and it can be delicious. If you need cheese than there is the amazing delight that is Daiya.  It's melty, it's stretchy, it's DAIYA! Ask any vegan and chances are they will tell you that this has revolutionized their attitude towards vegan cheeses. Notice I say most. Not everyone loves it like we do, but that is the joy of food. Always something to disagree about. :)

So, how does a vegan enjoy pizza? When super-busy, like everyone else, pizza is an easy convenience food. Call, order, eat. Done and done. The only extra steps for us would be to make sure the sauce has no hidden cheese, like parmesan or romano, and to ensure the crust is vegan (it is unusual for it not to be). A quick internet search can usually answer these questions. Then we order a pizza with extra sauce and no cheese, with gobs of our favourite veggies. It is delicious as is, you would be surprised. But if we have Daiya on hand we just melt it on our slices in the microwave and VOILA! Easy vegan melty pizza deliciousness!

Melina is making her extra special pizza crust, upon my request, for Vegan Pizza Day. She'll tell you how to make it. I'll tell you it's amazing.


I make my 'thick' pizza dough that I modified form another recipe I used to use.

Super Yummy Pizza Crust

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, I check the temp (105* to 115*F[40* to 45*C])
3/4 sea salt
2 tbsp flax meal
1 tbsp  dry italian seasoning
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 - 1/2 cups cornmeal

I make this in my beautiful heavy duty Kitchen Aid mixer.  One of my favourite things in life.

I rinse out the mixer bowl with hot water to warm it. I dry it and pop it in the cradle of my machine, and add the water and yeast. I mix it with a spatula, till dissolved. Then add salt, herbs, flax meal and olive oil, then add in the flour and turn on lowest speed to mix everything together a bit, the mix on speed 2 for about 2 minutes. Add more flour if needed, but it should all cling to dough hook and clean the sides of the mixer.

As it is summer right now and the AC is always on, I let it rise in the oven. This is how, detach the metal bowl from the machine, pull the dough off the hook, and add a little bit of olive oil around the sides of the bowl. Flip the dough ball round in the bowl till it is all covered in oil. I take a clean dish towel, wet it and ring it out well, and wrap it over the metal bowl. Then I stick the lot in the oven and shut the door. I did turn on the oven to just below the lowest setting. BE EVER SO CAREFUL!!!

An hour later, slightly warm, nice and risen, fragrant dough. Yum!

Brush pizza pan with oil, very lightly, sprinkle with cornmeal. Plop the dough on he pan, and press out to the edges of the pans. I rub some oil on my hands before I do this. It's a good idea to do this if you don't want dough stuck to your nails.

Then you just sauce and top as you like. We used canned pasta sauce, onion, kalamata olives, artichokes, mushrooms, all topped with Daiya.

We bake it for 20 minutes at 425*F (230*C).

It was pretty amazing.

-Melina  : D

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Day 11 - We Are Not Discussing Day 10

Day 10 ... la la la, I don't hear you! Of course it was still vegan, don't get crazy. But it was a terrible day and we wanted Daiya. What can I say.

Today was much better. Sometimes it takes hitting a rock bottom of sorts to get your crap together. We had a fantastic talk and have got some great goals set. And we will reach them, oh yes, we will.

Sleep is so much better since I have begun this challenge. Even with all of the stress lately, I have been sleeping like a baby, waking up to cats crawling over me and trying to convince me that they haven't eaten in weeks. FYI - it's a lie, they eat way better than we do.

Not tonight though! Melina is making curry, and curry is one of my very favourite things. I'll let her tell you more about it.

I have to say how much I am enjoying air popped popcorn with sriracha as a snack. Love it! It is totally keeping me from my usual ultimate craving - chips and dip. On Day 31 there will be chips and dip...

~ Denise

Tonight's curry was amazing. I ate so much I was uncomfortable. It was great.

I roasted some red potatoes. Chopped them, added sea salt and a little bit of canola oil. I cooked in the oven at 350* (our oven runs hot) for about an hour, flipping every 20 minutes.

For the curry, it's the same as our earlier post, Eggplant Curry, with the exception of no gardein, and I added peas to mine. Portabello mushrooms give a meatier texture and chickpeas round it out.

We had crushed raw cashews, unsweetened coconut and raisins for the condiments.

It was amazing. Go stuff yourself!

~ Melina  : D

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Day 7 - We Cheated?

Yesterday sucked. We all have those days, right? Where the entire purpose of the world seems to be to make you cry? That was how it was. When we arrived home we wanted to do no cooking. It was the kind of night where you just want to order pizza and be done with it. The thing is that we are also trying to save money, so that option was off the table in more ways than one.

No cooking and no ordering, and we are so emotionally spent that we are off the rails and just don't care. What we chose to do was simple pasta and red sauce.

I was beating myself up. We blew it! I felt awful. But then I stopped to really think about what I did.  What was the awful cheat? I had margarine. Organic vegan margarine. HOW EVIL! Even the red sauce on the pasta was organic and sugar free!

The idea that this is cheating just shows how much is changing with my eating. Not to say I will never eat true junk food again, but that I now equate lack of veggies with cheat-eating is revolutionary. Amazing!

So was the day a failure? I'm not convinced.

~ Denise

Monday, 30 April 2012

Day 6 ~ 14 Stiches

Ok, so I had surgery on Friday, but it is still sore. Come on, 14 stitches in my finger. Ouch.

So, we were sort of lazy-ish today. We had leftover chili for lunch, pasta with white sauce for supper. For a treat, I made raw balls. I'll not allow myself to make them again till Friday. I'm not big into self control, so I pace myself.

I'm so proud of us, we came home from working our soul sucking day job, and did a Zumba workout. Wow, did I really not feel like it. But we did it. Because we are awesome. Ha!

~ Melina

We are still doing fantastically well and the energy I had to do the workout after the job all day! AMAZING! We feel awesome and are definitely going to keep going.

~ Denise

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Day 5 ~ Melina Cooks Again!

Today I was able to cook. After a brief bit of not cooking yesterday, due to very high stakes finger surgery, I was back in the saddle again. I made raw balls (from 'The Kind Diet') late last night. Super yum.

We didn't have a proper lunch today, just snacked on raw balls and hummus and pita.

Supper was going to have to be good. We happen to have a lot of potatoes in the house, so I wanted to make sliced potato roasties. But what to have with it? We did notice it was cold outside. Chilly even. Chilly, chili!!! Awesome.

Didn't really follow a recipe as such. Took some onion, garlic, mushrooms, peppers, kale, canned tomatoes, canned kidney beans and romano beans. Added chili powder and salt to taste.

For the potatoes I sliced really thin, brushed real lightly with canola oil and sprinkled with salt. I bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes each side. I like them toasty.

Now I'm tired. And my finger hurts.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Day 4 - Smash That Myth Up!

There is a myth out there that I can't cook. Truth is that I do not enjoy cooking at all, but I love coming up with the recipes that Melina tries out. The fact is that she does not like to allow me in 'her kitchen'. She seems to think I am chaotic. But then today she had a minor surgery on her finger and it was either let me cook or starve. Anyone who knows Melina knows she would never choose starvation.

So sit back and absorb the glory of my cooking today, and let the myth die that I am kitchen impaired!

First was a lovely lunch that looked like this:
Ezekiel Wrap pizzas! These wraps are perfect for this recipe because they get nice and crisp. For these I used an organic tomato and basil pre made pasta sauce. Just make sure yours doesn't have sugar. Then I added some onion, mushroom, red pepper, black olives and kale and threw in into the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until the edges if the wraps are crisp. I started my cooking off well, I'd say.

Far be it from me not to provide healthy snacks. Check it out!
Roasted chick peas. Drain a can and rinse well. Spread them out on a sheet lined with parchment paper. Very very lightly brush with canola oil. Put in the oven at 375. Flip them around after 15 minutes. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Flip them around. Repeat this process until they are nicely toasted and crunchy. Season as you like. We like curry powder and salt. 

Now it's time for dinner, the ultimate test. Avocado Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

This may not look as good as it was, because it was sooooooo good, fresh and yummy. And did I mention how easy this was? Put the juice of 1 small lemon and 4 cloves of garlic into a food processor. Swish about. Add 2 avocados and swirl until really creamy. Add 2 cups of raw spinach and a drained can of artichoke hearts. Swish squish and smash in the food processor. I added 2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast, seasoned to taste with salt, lots of pepper, and dried basil. Tossed it up with some cooked whole wheat penne.

What is that I smell? Is it vindication??

~ Denise

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Day 3 - The Day Zumba Could Have Killed Me

For those who don't know, Melina and I recently attempted this challenge recently and made it to day 11 before falling off the wagon. I figure it's a little like quitting smoking; sometimes it takes more than one try.

I am noticing the same things happening this time as the last, which is just further proof that the change in eating is the reason. The first change we both noticed is how much better we are sleeping. Seriously, I am sleeping like a rock! I wake up with actual energy. It's awesome.

The other thing I noticed today was how much food directly affects working out. I love to Zumba. LOVE! I grew up dancing so it is the perfect workout for me. After 11 days of our last challenge, I noticed how different my body felt when doing a crazy Zumba workout. It felt ... clean. Now today's workout, on only day 3 of the challenge, it felt a whole lot less so. You know the full body ick that happens when you hit the point of exhaustion? Yup, it was there. Like my body was trying to sweat out any remaining chemicals and refined sugar from a few days ago. 

Now, about today's food. Breakfast of nine grain bread and almond hazelnut butter. Lunch was the last of the Mexican Lasagna. I love the meal that gives tons of leftovers. :) And can I tell you how much I love a snack of an apple and almond butter? Well, I will anyway. I love it!

Supper was loosely inspired by this. Yes, we had a scramble, but the seasoning was totally different. And Melina very lightly brushed the sweet potatoes with canola oil (very lightly) to crisp them up.
I like my scramble pretty simple. This one had kale, mushrooms, red and green pepper, onion. I was seasoned with lots of black pepper, a pinch of paprika, salt, and a bit of nutritional yeast.  When it was on my plate I sprinkled some cajun seasoning salt on it that Melina doesn't like but I love. 

That's my day. On to the next!

~ Denise

The only thing I'll add it that the scramble is super, and the 'fries' were amazing. So having those again. Like tomorrow. Ha!

~ Melina