Clean Monday, 2017: Defender of My Soul

Orthodox Quotes: "Be Thou the Defender of my soul, O God, for I walk amidst a multitude of snares. Deliver me from them, and save me, O good One, for Thou art the Lover of mankind." From the Service of Great Compline | Orthodox and Vegan

Lighten my eyes, O Christ God, that I sleep not unto death, lest mine enemy say: I have prevailed over him.

Be Thou the Defender of my soul, O God, for I walk amidst a multitude of snares. Deliver me from them, and save me, O good One, for Thou art the Lover of mankind.

-Troparia in the Second Mode as chanted in Great Compline on Mondays and Wednesdays of Great Lent

Wishing you all good strength during the Great Fast!

Vegan Pea Protein Porridge

Is there anything more Lenten than porridge? I can’t think of anything. I’ve been working on ways to incorporate pea protein into my diet other than just sticking it in a smoothie (pea protein has a mild flavor that is easy to mask, but when unmasked…it’s rather unpleasant) and this is my first of many recipes for Lent. In this pea porridge, we have plenty of spice and one surprise ingredient.

Okay, it’s a pickle. And there’s peanut butter. It’s like a peanut butter and pickle sandwich, but less weird to eat in front of other people ’cause they won’t know what’s in it.

Lenten Pea Protein Porridge | Orthodox and Vegan
The recipe can also be modified to make a soup for two by adding an extra cup of liquid and adjusting the seasonings, however I made it a single-serving porridge so it would be easy to get a ton of protein all in one meal. Using a fortified almond milk instead of water is another great way to add nutrients.

This is meant to be a main meal on fasting days when we are eating less. So, while it packs 44 grams of protein in one single serving, it also has about half a day’s worth of sodium – just something to keep in mind if you’re watching that.

Single-Serve Pea Protein Porridge
1 scoop pea protein
3 Tbsp green pea flour
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
optional:
1 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp celery seed

1 1/4 C plain unsweetened almond milk, or water
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 – 1 kosher dill pickle, finely chopped

In a small saucepan, add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Whisk together almond milk (or water), soy sauce, and peanut butter, then slowly pour into dry ingredients while whisking to prevent lumps. Over medium heat, bring to a low boil and then immediately lower to a simmer. Continue whisking as porridge thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in chopped pickle and remove from heat. Let sit for one minute before serving.*

*If the pickle cooks in the porridge for more than a minute or two, it will become flavorless.

This recipe is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Have you ever tried the PB&Pickle sandwich combo?

Feast of the Presentation of our Lord into the Temple

Orthodox Icon: Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ into the Temple | Orthodox and Vegan
On February 2 in the Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Presentation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into the Temple, also known as The Meeting of our Lord, and the Feast of Lights. This takes place on the 40th day following Nativity.

According to ancient Jewish religious practices, as set down by the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12-15), a period of 40 days from the birth of an infant must pass before the mother and child could enter the Temple in Jerusalem. This 40 day period allowed the mother of a newly born infant to recover from her pregnancy, become well acquainted with her child, settle into her new role and routine, and subsequently be excused from her religious duties. Furthermore it was the time allocated by the Mosaic Law (Lev. 12:2-4) in which a mother and child would undergo the process of β€œpurification”[4] (spiritual preparation), so that the two could present themselves within the Temple, with the mother reassuming her religious obligations, while the infant being initiated into Jewish religious life. – Mode of Life

This feast has been celebrated by Christians since at least the 4th century, as attested to by a homily written for the occasion by Bishop Methodius of Patara who died in 312. It is also mentioned in the Pilgrimage of Egeria:

But certainly the Feast of the Purification is celebrated here with the greatest honour. On this day there is a procession to the Anastasis; all go in procession, and all things are done in order with great joy, just as at Easter. All the priests preach, and also the bishop, always treating of that passage of the Gospel where, on the fortieth day, Joseph and Mary brought the Lord into the Temple, and Simeon and Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Famuhel, saw Him, and of the words which they said when they saw the Lord, and of the offerings which the parents presented. And when all things have been celebrated in order as is customary, the sacrament is administered, and so the people are dismissed.

In the Orthodox Church, it is still customary for a mother and child to be churched on the 40th day.

Hate taking down your Christmas decorations? While many Christians put away Christmas decorations on the 12th Day of Christmas (which is the 12th day after Christmas), it is also customary to wait until this 40th day. Thus, it would also be appropriate to listen to Christmas music up to this point.

What I Ate Wednesday: Vegan Tuna Melt Wrap

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of What I Ate Wednesday! I’ve been experimenting a lot lately getting ready for Lent (just over one month away!), and I think I’ll have some great recipes for you in the next couple weeks. One of them is the Vegan Tuna Melt Wrap pictured below. Guess what I used in place of the tuna. GUESS!!!!! You’ll have to scroll down for the answer.

What I Ate Wednesday: Veggie Soup with Homemade Bread | Orthodox and Vegan
I took my mom to visit my grandparents last week, and grandma made soups and fresh bread for us. I love pouring the soup over torn up pieces of bread, it’s especially satisfying on cold days (and we had an ice storm the day we left).

What I Ate Wednesday: Vegan Egg Omelet | Orthodox and Vegan
I’m a big fan of VeganEgg from Follow Your Heart. It comes in powder form and you whip it up with ice cold water. I usually add a teaspoon of nutritional yeast to the powder first. I put ice and cold water in a glass and pop it in the freezer for a few minutes, then strain it. Some people swear by mixing the powder and water in a blender. I haven’t tried that technique yet, I just whip the tar out of it with a whisk. It’s really important to Whip it Good (a la Devo) to get a the right texture. Anyway, then you can scramble it or use it to make omelets. You can also use it as an egg sub for baked goods, but I think it’s too expensive to waste on that.

This omelet is filled with shredded Daiya cheddar, minced soy, and veggies. I sprinkled a little black salt on it as it finished cooking to give it a nice eggy, sulfury taste.

What I Ate Wednesday: Daiya Cheezy Mac | Orthodox and Vegan
I finally found Daiya Cheezy Mac at Meijer a couple months ago, and I hid it away as if it were my most prized possession. But then I realized I should just eat it. So I did.

What I Ate Wednesday: Jackfruit Tuna Melt | Orthodox and Vegan
My Tuna Melt wrap! I’m still working on an actual recipe, but the main ingredients are jackfruit with seaweed. It wasn’t exactly like tuna, but it was fishy. I will try it again next week.

What I Ate Wednesday: Filled Chocolates | Orthodox and Vegan
And finally, I got this box of filled chocolates for Christmas. So many people are under the impression all chocolate contains milk, and therefore vegans can’t have chocolate. FALSE. There are lots of vegan chocolates out there, and they’re delicious. I tried to show a little self restraint, and it took me an entire week to eat all these πŸ™‚

What are you eating this week?

What I Ate Wednesday: Donuts and Denny’s and MOAR

It’s kind of sad now that we’re past the 12 Days of Christmas. I had to un-decorate my tree and start to take down our decorations (and some that I left on the mantle, my cat took down for me and destroyed in the process!). Yet Theophany comes with vegan donuts, and I still have some other holiday treats. Let’s take a look.

What I Ate Wednesday: Zalabia (donuts) for Theophany | Orthodox and Vegan
I mentioned this last year, in our parish we’ve brought back the tradition of making zalabia for Theophany. It’s just fried dough tossed in a simple syrup. You can use plain syrup, or flavor it with a little rose water or orange blossom. Some people use powdered sugar instead of syrup, or cinnamon and sugar. Do it however you like, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with fried dough!

What I Ate Wednesday: Jackfruit Chili Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
It’s hard to believe it’s still good, but I found a container of my grandmother’s BBQ beans in the fridge leftover from Christmas. I sauteed a can of jackfruit with garlic and onions, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and added it to the beans to make a kind of meaty chili (the beans weren’t the sweet kind). It worked really well, and it was great in sandwiches.

What I Ate Wednesday: Van's Waffles and Maple Veggie Hash | Orthodox and Vegan
We have a discount grocery store nearby, and I found Van’s Gluten Free waffles (which happen to be vegan) for 99 cents! You get six in a box. They’re a little on the small side, so I do three at a time. This is the cinnamon flavor, and I spread a little peanut butter on as well as drizzling with maple syrup. Then I cooked up some soy crumbles and sauteed them with onion and bell pepper, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The soy crumbles/veggie hash got a drizzling of maple syrup, too. Yum πŸ˜€

What I Ate Wednesday: Denny's Fit Fare Skillet | Orthodox and Vegan
We had our family dinner at Denny’s on Sunday, and for once I got something other than the veggie burger. The Fit Fare Skillet is vegan if you get it without eggs. It includes potatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach. I would’ve added avocado, but they were out (ask for it in place of the eggs so maybe they won’t charge extra). To make it extra carbolicious, I ordered a plain English muffin to go with it.

What I Ate Wednesday: Trader Joe's Chocolate Orange | Orthodox and Vegan
And finally, we broke open the chocolate orange I bought from Trader Joe’s a month ago. I used to get one of these every year for Christmas when I was a kid, but it was always made with milk chocolate. This one from Trader Joe’s is dark chocolate, and it is wonderful. You get five wedges in one serving, but we were careful not to eat more than two since we’re trying to be good in the new year.

Are you changing your eating habits in 2017? Lemme know how below!

What I Ate Wednesday: A Very Vegan Christmas

Christ is Born! Merry Christmas!

I know I’m the worst blogger in the world, I just haven’t been able to keep up with posts lately – I’ll have to make that part of my New Year’s resolution! Here’s a quick one featuring some of the wonderful food I had during family Christmas celebrations this year. What did you have?

What I Ate Wednesday: Brie En Croute | Orthodox and Vegan
I bought this cashew-based Brie En Croute (brie wrapped in pastry) at the vegan holiday pop-up shop a couple weeks before Christmas. It was very good, and I’ve decided it’s something I could definitely make at home. I can’t wait to try!

What I Ate Wednesday: Cheesy Layer Dip | Orthodox and Vegan
My dad makes a layer dip he likes to call Mexican Dip, although I’m not sure that’s very accurate. The bottom layer is a combination of cream cheese and sour cream seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. Hot sauce is spread on top, then there’s a layer of minced onion, green pepper, and tomato, topped with cheddar cheese. I usually just buy vegan versions of all the dairy ingredients, but this year I made a cashew cream thickened with tapioca flour for the base. It needs a little work, but overall I was pretty happy with it.

What I Ate Wednesday: Spinach Pies | Orthodox and Vegan
Syrian spinach pies take hours and hours to make, but it’s totally worth it! But…I only do it a couple times year. I use a basic dough recipe, and the filling is extremely lemony spinach with salt, minced onion, and olive oil (and parsley, when I remember it).

What I Ate Wednesday: Christmas Meal | Orthodox and Vegan
My cousin made pulled pork, so I decided to do BBQ jackfruit. I let it simmer in the sauce for a couple hours until it was extremely tender. Two or three people looked at my plate in shock and someone finally asked, “That’s not for you, is it?” I dunno if anyone dared taste it, but at least it *looked* like pulled pork. At the very least it tasted like Carolina BBQ sauce πŸ™‚ P.S. I also made the guac!

What I Ate Wednesday: Chocolate Cherry SoCo Cake | Orthodox and Vegan
And finally, we come to the dessert. A Christmas favorite now, I’ve been making this Chocolate Cherry SoCo cake for years. It’s a modified depression-era chocolate cake recipe with cherries and chocolate chips added in. After it cools I poke it all over and pour on a soaking syrup that includes Southern Comfort. Once that’s all been absorbed, I pour on an additional shot or two of straight up Southern Comfort (we drink 100 proof, but I use 70 for the cake). It’s also good with sliced almonds added.

Next week I’ll share the treats I got from Pangea!

What I Ate Wednesday: In the Womb of Greek Hospitality

Hey guys, sorry I missed you last week!! Tuesday I took the train to Chicago to visit my friend Christina and her husband Tony. I don’t know about everyone else, but here in the Midwest there’s been a terrible cold going around (I managed to get it twice in a month). Poor Christina got it, so we spent most of our time hanging out at home – AKA The Womb of Greek Hospitality – drinking tea around the kitchen table or curled up on the couch watching movies about chefs on Netflix! I also may have made Christina watch Pee Wee’s Big Adventure with me – I LOVE that movie πŸ˜€ And we spent tons of time cooking. I didn’t quite get pictures of everything, but I’ll try to fill in the blanks.

What I Ate Wednesday: Fresh Jackfruit | Orthodox and Vegan
I have the hardest time sleeping the night before I travel, so I basically took a short nap around 3am. The train left here at 6, and I slept most of the way. Then after a tour of Christina’s new home, we both took a very, very long and wonderful nap. Afterwards, I had my first visit to a Cermak Fresh Market and also found fresh jackfruit for the first time ever! Sure looks weird!

The white stringy part didn’t have much flavor, but the yellowy part around the seeds tasted a little bit like pineapple.

What I Ate Wednesday: Palestinian Cabbage Salad | Orthodox and Vegan
A few things I put together with Christina instructing me, like this cabbage salad. It’s basically just cabbage, tons of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and sumac. Actually maybe that’s exactly what it is, I can’t remember.

2016-12-21-w-bbq-jackfruit-cabbage-salad-min
So, I butchered the jackfruit (vegan appropriation at work) and ended up cooking it down in BBQ sauce. I cooked it for a few hours until it was very tender. We basically made American dakos, placing a rusk in the bottom of the bowl with a layer of cabbage salad on it, then a layer of BBQ jackfruit, topped with avocado.

I also boiled and peeled the jackfruit seeds and sauteed them in oil with salt and garlic. They’re very starchy and make a good snack, but I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort. They’re super slippery, and the peel is hard like plastic. If they don’t split on their own during boiling, it can be tricky getting the peel off. And if you accidentally leave a bit on and try to eat, it’s pretty unpleasant. But I’m glad we at least tried it. I normally buy canned jackfruit in brine, and it already has the seeds removed.

What I Ate Wednesday: Cretan Salad | Orthodox and Vegan
I think this salad is actually what we ate on the first night. Christina had a Cretan salad at a Greek restaurant during a recent trip to Astoria and wanted to recreate it. She told me exactly what to put in, and it turned out wonderfully.

There’s leaf lettuce, lots of cilantro, capers, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh garlic and lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. In place of feta we had a cashew cheese (it was a soft cheese and sort of melted into the salad when we tossed it, but it gave it a great flavor), and we added a dollop of kalamata olive spread when we made dakos.

Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the chili we ate for at least one meal each day. I love having leftover chili because it’s one of those things that just tastes better and better after it chills in the fridge. I could’ve eaten it for a week.

What I Ate Wednesday: Greek Boiled Beets | Orthodox and Vegan
Whenever I get a combo platter at Little Africa, I’m the one who ends up eating all the beets. Sure, beets taste a little like dirt, but in a good way. These were boiled, and I don’t think much of anything was added to them besides maybe some oil and salt. I ate a huge bowl full.

What I Ate Wednesday: Vegan Seitan Ribs | Orthodox and Vegan
On the last day of my visit I made ribs using vital wheat gluten, also known as seitan. I’ve made them before with another recipe, and I think these were not as good – but once you cover something in BBQ sauce, it’s hard to go wrong. This was my first time having access to a grill pan, it was really fun to use.

What I Ate Wednesday: Kale Chips | Orthodox and Vegan
I also made a couple batches of kale chips and experimented with seasoning them in different ways. Salted, Salt & Black Pepper, Salt & Garlic with Nooch, and Oregano & Garlic…with a pinch of salt. We ate these with the ribs.

Not pictured is the steaming hot bowl of fava we also had with this meal. They were on the soupy side, which was the perfect thing to eat before going out into the freezing cold to catch the train back.

What are you eating to keep warm this winter?

What I Ate Wednesday: Pancakes Can Be VEGAN!

I had another weird week, guys. So after about 6 days of eating almost nothing but subpar cookies, it’s time for another What I Ate Wednesday!!!! The cookies were an experiment in gluten free baking with the most natural ingredients I could come up with. They had an odd taste, but after the third or fourth cookie I got used to it and have now eaten at least 18 of them. However, I think I’ll be re-working that recipe this week, and sadly it may not stay gluten free. Now on to my other interesting meals.

What I Ate Wednesday: Grilled Onion Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
Everyone’s heard of the grilled cheese sandwich, but what about the grilled onion sandwich? I used margarine on the outer sides of the bread, and inside with the onion there’s also tahini, mustard, and a tiny bit of garlic powder and nutritional yeast. I am a big fan of onions.

What I Ate Wednesday: Pancakes | Orthodox and Vegan
Our bishop visited this weekend for an early celebration of St. Nicholas Day. Saturday we had a pancake breakfast with the Sunday School, and I got to attend since I’m a teacher. These pancakes were made with a Just-Add-Water mix by Aunt Jemima – the Original Pancake and Waffle Mix – that happened to be Lenten (and vegan). If you get a mix that does call for milk and eggs, just use a non-dairy milk and an egg replacer like baking soda + vinegar, flax meal, mashed banana, or Ener-G Egg Replacer.
Pro Tip: Make a double batch of pancakes and freeze half. They can be heated in the microwave when you need a quick breakfast.

Our breakfast also included crockpot oatmeal made with just oats and water. We had a ton of fruit toppings to choose from, and of course syrup and brown sugar!

What I Ate Wednesday: Salata (Syrian Salad) | Orthodox and Vegan
Sunday we had a luncheon. I forgot to get a picture of the green beans & rice, but here are two of the four giant bowls of salata (Syrian salad) we made. I got to do the dressing πŸ˜€ It’s super simple – lemon juice, olive oil, salt. Some people add a tiny touch of garlic, and bonus if you have spearmint leaves to add. In the salad my family usually has lettuce, green onion, tomato, cucumber, and radish, but everybody does it their own way.

You can make a wonderful sandwich by stuffing a pita with hummus and salata. Also, some of us actually drank (in a cup!) the juice left at the bottom of the bowl when the salad was gone. It is wonderful.

What are you eating this week?

Don’t Forget to Leave Your Shoes Out for St. Nicholas Tonight!

St. Nicholas Almsgiving Icon

St. Nicholas brings a dowry in secret


Tomorrow (December 6) is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia in the 4th century. Known for generously giving to those in need, over the years his image evolved (devolved) from that of a saintly bishop, to a gift-giver to children, to a fat little rosy-cheeked imp from the North Pole, jumping down the chimney to deliver presents on Christmas Day.

I don’t really have a problem with having fun with the imaginary Santa Claus, but since he is so far removed from St. Nicholas now I’m glad the Orthodox Church remembers the real man – in fact, he is one of the most popular Orthodox Saints, and the patron saint of my parish. Not only was he very generous, he is also remembered for punching Arius during the Council of Nicea. If you want to know more about the, um, rugged side of St. Nicholas, check out this interesting video I just saw today for the first time!

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day


If you would like celebrate St. Nicholas Day with your family, here are a couple simple and fun ideas:

1. Have the kids leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors tonight. When they’re asleep, slip a few coins in the shoes along with a special treat.

2. Give a gift to someone in need. You could leave anonymous gifts for each other, or for neighbors, family or friends. You could also make care packages for the homeless in your area (great items to include are warm socks, baby wipes, lip balm, band aids, tissues, and a gift card for food).

3. Punch a heretic. …just kidding πŸ™‚

Classic Magic Bars

Happy Friday!! I promised you a recipe for Magic Bars, and a vegan Magic Bars recipe you shall have.

Magic Bars, My Grandmother's Recipe | Orthodox and Vegan
This is Tete’s recipe card, I use a combination of this and the original Eagle Brand recipe. All we need to do is swap out a couple ingredients. For the sweetened condensed milk, you can use any non-dairy version. I bought Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, but you could also make your own. Here’s another option with soy milk.

Sadly, I recently discovered Ghirardelli started putting milk in their semisweet chocolate chips, but don’t worry – Trader Joe’s has vegan chocolate chips for $2!

Tete makes Magic Bars with a corn flake crust, but since I didn’t have any on hand I went with the traditional graham cracker crust.
(Honey is a perfectly Lenten ingredient, but to make these vegan you’ll want a honey-free graham cracker such as Nabisco’s Original flavor)

What I Ate Wednesday: Magic Bars | Orthodox and Vegan
Magic Bars
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs (8-9 squares)
1/2 C margarine, melted
1 C chopped walnuts
1 1/2 C chocolate chips*
1 1/2 C flaked coconut*
1 1/3 C non-dairy sweetened condensed milk (or as close as your can is to that amount!)

Preheat oven to 350.
Pour into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over margarine. Add chopped walnuts evenly over graham cracker crumbs. Next, add an even layer of chocolate chips, and top evenly with flaked coconut. Now drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over on top. EVENLY.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and beautiful. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes before cutting (I like to let mine cool completely).

*Optional: After pouring on the sweetened condensed milk, you may wish to lightly sprinkle on additional chocolate chips covered with more flaked coconut. Whether you wish to reserve some chocolate chips & coconut for this purpose or simply use more is up to you.