On the 23rd of September in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Conception of the honorable, glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John. From the Synaxarion:
On this day the mercy, miracles and wisdom of God are celebrated: His mercy toward the devout and righteous parents of St. John, the aged Zacharias and Elizabeth, who all their lives had wished for and begged a child from God; His miracle, that of John’s conception in the aged womb of Elizabeth; and His wisdom, in the dispensation of man’s salvation. God had an especially great intention for John: namely, that he be the Prophet and Forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Savior of the world. Through His angels, God announced the births of Isaac to the childless Sarah, Samson to the childless wife of Manoah, and John the Forerunner to the childless Zacharias and Elizabeth. All of these were those for whom He had special intentions, and He foretold their birth through His angels.
Yesterday St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Geneva, NY, shared this brief video for the Feast of the Conception of St. John the Baptist:
Apolytikion of the Conception of St. John the Baptist, Fourth Mode
(to the tune of Be Quick to Anticipate)
Rejoice, O thou barren one who hadst not borne until now * for lo, in all truth thou hast conceived the lamp of the Sun, and he shall send forth his light * over all the earth, which is afflicted with blindness * Dance, O Zacharias, and cry out with great boldness * The one to be born is the blest Prophet of God Most High.
Blessed Feast to you all – see you in nine months for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist! 🙂
Dear All, it’s time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Are you excited??!??!? I am!
Yesterday I won a facebook contest from a local theater for a Beatles movie poster and a free bag of popcorn. Yes I drive 30 minutes roundtrip for a little bag of popcorn. Totally worth it 😀 I listened to the Let it Be album the whole time. Anyway. Let’s begin.
I started off nice and healthy with a small plate of sliced cucumber (sprinkled with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast), and toasted Ezekiel bread with hummus. I prefer homemade hummus, but I had to buy some for an event in a pinch and this was leftover. Hummus is super easy to make if you have the time, but store-bought will do, if you must.
I also had a fat veggie sandwich with hummus and eggplant mousse for dinner. I will share the eggplant mousse recipe with you soon!
Then, as I said, I had my little bag of theater popcorn…plus the refill I got to-go. With extra butter-flavored oil, and salt. Maybe it’s not the same at every theater, but most use a yellowy oil with artificial butter flavor instead of actual butter. It is still really fattening, of course.
And just to round out my flawed diet, I finished up a bag of Lucy’s Triple Chocolate Brownie Crisps – vegan and gluten free! I bought them at Costco. Costco is where I buy my Ezekiel bread, two loaves for $7 (it costs at least $5.50 per loaf everywhere else I’ve found it in town, and and sometimes as much as $7 each!). They also have vegan black bean burgers, non dairy milk, almond butter, and lots of other good stuff at a reasonable price (in fact, that’s where I bought the hummus). And lot of nice produce for salads in case you are more disciplined than I.
What’s your favorite place to shop for vegan food? Tell us in the comments below!
The other day I was looking at a box of Daiya brand Cheesy Mac, one of my favorite brands of boxed vegan mac n cheese. I noticed in the nutritional info it claims one box makes about three servings. THREE servings?! No way, I definitely eat the whole thing every time!!! Granted, I may be a glutton, but… Luckily I found a way to stretch one box of cheesy mac into several servings: Mac n Cheese Stuffed Crescent Rolls.
I stuffed 8 crescent rolls with Daiya mac n cheese, but after doing some calculations I could’ve actually done about 48 stuffed crescent rolls! (I just only had one can of dough at the time, and was forced to eat the leftover cheesy mac on its own) This is very simple to do, and very tasty. My non-vegan dad was kind of upset with me because he only got to try one on his lunch break, and by the time he came home from work I had eaten the other seven.
Did I mention you shouldn’t look to me for dietary advice?
Mac n Cheese Stuffed Crescent Rolls
1 can vegan crescent roll dough, 8 servings*
1 pkg Daiya Cheesy Mac, prepared according to instructions
1 Tbsp margarine, melted
garlic powder, pepper to taste
optional: Tofurky deli slices
Preheat oven to 375.
Add a couple dashes of pepper and garlic powder to your prepared Cheesy Mac, stir and set aside.
Open crescent roll dough, and roll out on work surface as you normally would. Place one tablespoon of Daiya Cheesy Mac near the top center of the crescent roll dough (the wide end), and carefully roll into crescent shape – you will most likely need to fold in at least one side to keep the Cheesy Mac from coming out. Place on baking tray. Repeat until all crescent rolls are complete.
Generously brush rolls with margarine, and sprinkle with garlic powder to taste.
Bake crescent rolls 10-13 minutes, until golden brown.
If using deli slices
To bulk up the snack – and the flavor – cut four vegan deli slices (meat substitute) in half. Fold each half in half. Place in at the top center of the crescent roll dough before adding Cheesy Mac.
*Since each box of Daiya Cheesy Mac makes three 1 Cup servings, or 48 tablespoons, you should be able to fill 48 crescent rolls. Adjust margarine and deli slices accordingly.
I was really excited to find out some Meijer and Pillsbury brand canned dough is vegan. What’s your favorite surprisingly vegan item?
On September 14 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the Elevation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, the day the Holy Cross was discovered by Empress Helen (mother of Constantine the Great) in 326 AD on Golgotha. “When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.” -OrthodoxWiki
On this day we also commemorate the recovery of the Cross from the Persians. After being stolen from Jerusalem in 614 AD, it was recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 627. On March 21, 630 AD, Emperor Heraclius together with Patriarch Zacharios entered Jerusalem with the Cross where it was solemnly transferred to the Temple of the Resurrection, and held up for veneration by the the Christian faithful.
The Elevation of the Cross, also known as the Exaltation of the Cross, is one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Church, and one of two feasts on which is kept a strict fast (the other is the Beheading of John the Baptist).
Apolytikion of the Holy Cross, First Mode
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance
Granting to Thy people vict’ry over all their enemies
And by the pow’r of Thy Cross
Preserve Thy Kingdom.
Readings for the Feast
1 Corinthians 1:18-24
Brethren, the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35
At that time, when the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King!” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.
But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. Then when Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. †
Today is also the Name Day for those who bear the names Stavroula or Stavros (stavros meaning cross). Many years to all who are celebrating today, and blessed feast of the Elevation of the Precious Cross to all!
No matter how old I get, my love for a perfectly browned and crispy grilled cheese sandwich never fades. It seems kind of silly, but even when I found a fancy cheese like Miyoko’s Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse on sale at Whole Foods, the first thing I thought of was making a grilled cheese sandwich!
The round thing that looks kind of like a burger is the smoked cheese!
I grabbed a variety of olives and teeny tiny pickles from the olive bar, and Tofurky Bologna slices. Believe it or not, before I went vegan, I used to love fried bologna and cheese sandwiches (and I also really loved spam). So I think even when I eat vegan junk food it’s a big step up from the way I ate before 😀
The cheese from Miyoko’s Creamery is hardly junk food, though. It’s made with cashews, chickpea miso, nutritional yeast, salt, and cultures to ferment it. Miyoko describes it as “Semi-hard with rich, smoky, sharpness that lingers.”
It’s so good I could just slice it up and eat it on its own. Luckily I saved some for this sandwich, though 🙂
Grilled Cheese Sandwich for When You Adult
2 slices of bread
Approx 1oz Miyoko’s Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, sliced*
5 slices Tofurky Bologna
1/4 C sliced olives
Lightly spread margarine on one side of each slice of bread, and sprinkle that side with garlic powder. Place one slice margarine side down on a skillet. Layer on half the sliced cheese, olives, bologna, remaining cheese, and top with the second slice of bread margarine side up.
Cook over medium heat until bread is browned, then very carefully flip the sandwich and brown the other side.
*You don’t have to weigh the cheese, just make sure it’s enough to cover each slice of bread.
Cashew cheese doesn’t get gooey when it melts, but it does soften and is delicious warmed, no matter if the box says it’s best served cold or at room temp!
What’s your favorite way to dress up a grilled cheese sandwich?
Hey guys, it’s time for another round of What I Ate Wednesday!!! Are you ready?!
This past weekend I was blessed to attend the wedding of a dear friend of mine at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Joliet, IL. I would’ve loved to have taken pictures of the vegan options I had during the reception (kalamata olives, lagana bread, horta, fasolakia, and fresh fruit – all delicious!), but sadly my phone died. Although that did allow me to fully enjoy the reception without getting caught up in trying to take pictures of everything. Consequently, I will instead share some of the vegan food I enjoyed while staying at my sister’s house.
Saturday morning we were treated to a pancake breakfast, and my sister made these vegan chocolate chip pancakes from scratch. The milk-free chocolate chips are from Trader Joe’s. Instead of syrup, I had mine with maple peanut butter I found in the fridge, and added sliced banana to round things out.
I don’t remember all the beverage options, but I do know there was almond milk, Califia Farms cold brew, and Chai Tea.
I don’t have a picture of this to share, either, but Monday was my nephew’s name day and we were treated to a breakfast buffet. Along with more vegan pancakes, there was a large bowl of fruit and berries, homemade vegan banana bread, and chocolate peanut butter breakfast bars – also homemade by my sister!
Then she sent us home with a little bag of the banana bread, some apples, and a couple Lara Bars. Isn’t she great?
Pretty much any time I’m in the Chicago area I like to hit up Whole Foods, especially the salad bar. And every time, I end up getting a huge salad that runs me about $15! It’s because I mix all kinds of random stuff together, I like to try everything. This time I tried to be more careful. Here’s what I ate: A mix of salad greens with a ton of proteins – peas, chickpeas, black beans, tofu, sunflowers seeds, and sliced almond – with onions, bell peppers, and beets. I also added a little scoop of Detox Salad. Then I covered everything in apple cider vinegar and olive oil 😀 If you’re lucky, you might find a Whole Foods location that also offers nutritional yeast at the salad bar.
And for a special treat I got half a pound of Buffalo Bites from the Whole Foods deli, made with Beyond Meat. I’m sure these are meant to be cooked in some way, but any time I needed a snack I just ate a few straight from the container, cold. They’re flavorful and pretty spicy, and I bet they’d taste great dipped in Follow Your Heart brand Bleu Cheese Dressing.
And a few other things I couldn’t help but grab during the shopping trip. I admit I can get the Daiya Cheezy Mac at home and just grabbed it on a whim, although I do think it’s a little cheaper at Whole Foods. The Miyoko’s and Leaf Cuisine cheeses were on sale, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them in Grand Rapids yet. I bought vegan bologna along with a loaf of freshly-baked sandwich bread for a quick snack (after dancing for hours at the wedding reception, we got home at 1am and I made a sandwich with just five deli slices and mustard).
The Leaf Cuisine Garlicky Herb spread is great on toast, and within the week I’ll share a sandwich recipe for Miyoko’s Smoked Farmhouse – you could just eat the Farmhouse cheese plain, though.
Overall I was very well fed this weekend. I’m thankful for family and friends that think of me and always make sure there’s something vegan-friendly on the menu. Do you receive the same kind of hospitality when you stay with family and friends?
Well, it’s Friday and the start of a four day weekend. What better way to kick it off than with pictures of Orthodox monastics with animals?? You can find a ton of these pictures floating around on the web, these are just a few of my favorites. The quotes are from St. Paisios, taken from Dionysios Farasiotis’ book The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios.
“When I was in Stomio at the little monastery near Konitsa, there were two large bears who would come to the place where I would dispose of the garbage. The poor things were hungry, so I would go and give them some bread. The animals can recognize your disposition when you approach them, if you intend to kill them or if you approach them with genuine love.”
At this point, the elder opened up his hand and called to a red robin that was resting in the branches of a tree, and the little bird came and happily perched on the elder’s finger.
“The animals enjoy being with man and look at him as their king. In Paradise, Adam called the animals one by one and gave them each a name according to its kind. Animals recognized man’s superiority and were happy in his presence.
After the fall, however, this relationship was destroyed. Man looked at the beasts with the intention of killing them, and the animals became wild. Nevertheless, the wild animals are still more sincere than man is. If you approach them with love, they return to that pristine state.
Man has ruined the animals. Even the dog that lives continually by man’s side has changed, acquiring a police mentality and distrustful character. I used to feed a little kitten around here that would come and rub itself up against my leg and purr. Although it was very tame, when one day, I tossed a piece of bread to it, the animal pulled back in fear. What had happened to it? Someone had thrown stones at it and ruined the animal’s attitude towards people. So you see, this evil state of affairs begins with man.”
Love animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, don’t harrass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent.
-Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
As promised, today I’m pleased to share this Louisiana Okra and Cheese Grits recipe passed on to me by Esther, the dietitian from Rouses Market in New Orleans. All of the necessary ingredients can be found at Rouses, and luckily you can probably find these simple ingredients in your hometown, too!
Esther writes: Here in Louisiana, grits are a staple in many dishes – don’t forget the okra and tomatoes! Usually, these come as sides, but I believe it’s time for them to join forces to become the main meal.
Usually this will include bacon or sausage, but not for this vegan dish.
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cups sliced okra
1 14.5 ounce canned (no salt added) tomatoes
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about three minutes. Add okra and tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese grits.
Vegan Cheese Grits
3 Tbsp Daiya dairy free shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grits
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Over the stove, boil water in a saucepan and add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cover allowing grits to thicken – stirring occasionally. Once cooked to desired thickness, add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve grits and top with okra and tomatoes!
Thank you, Esther!!! I shared my meal with two non-vegans, and they both enjoyed it.
I have to admit I used way more than 3 Tbsp of Daiya in the cheese grits, I can’t resist adding more fat to every meal 😀 I may have added something like 1/2 C. I also added a few cloves of finely chopped garlic with the onions in the okra stew.
I appreciated the simplicity of needing nothing more than salt and pepper for seasoning, it really did come out beautifully.
Shout out to Esther and to Rouses Market for taking the time to reply to my email, to send me a HUGE list of every single vegan item in the entire store, and for putting together this fabulous recipe. It’s obvious Rouses cares about their customers, and I greatly appreciate it.
If you’ve got a favorite southern food you’ve learned to veganize, let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to stop by a Rouses Market next time you’re in Louisiana.
Before I go out of town, I spend a ton of time researching the area looking for vegan-friendly bars and restaurants, and for grocery stores in case I need to make my own food. For the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference in New Orleans, I found a nearby Rouses Market to stock up the condo I rented with a group of friends.
I noticed on their website they have a dietitian that put together a couple shopping guides for people with special diets. I emailed the store to see if they could do a vegan shopping guide and maybe a recipe, and pretty soon Esther, the amazing dietician, sent me a list of more than 1200 vegan items available at Rouses!!! Sure, it includes EVERY vegan thing in the store, like beans and fruit juice, but still. It just goes to show how much vegan food people are already eating without even thinking about it.
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to run around the store like a crazy woman taking pictures of every single vegan specialty item I found, but here are some of the things I saw:
-Multiple brands of vegan & vegetarian meats
-Non-dairy ice cream (Coconut Bliss was only $4.49!!!!!!)
-Cruelty-free health & beauty supplies
Of course there is also a big variety of fruits and veggies, fresh bread, an olive bar, hummus, guac, salsa & chips. There are hot and cold cereals that can be eaten with the non-dairy milk. The salad bar isn’t too exciting, but it’ll do (I filled a box with all romaine leaves so I wouldn’t have to spend a ton on a whole package of romaine hearts I wouldn’t be able to finish). They also have locally made kombucha that is delicious.
By the way, I did indeed get a recipe from Esther that can be whipped up using simple ingredients found at Rouses, and probably also at a store near you! I’ll be sharing that Wednesday.
Meanwhile if you’re going to be in NOLA and curious to know if Rouses Market carries a specific item, comment below and I’ll check my giant shopping list for you!
Still coasting along on material from the Orthodox Young Professionals Conference – woot woot! 😀 I was too into the speakers to remember to take good notes, but I did write down a few things in our handy booklet. It looks like they are mostly notes from Archdeacon Saed’s comments about how to pray without ceasing.
I have Matthew 5:16 written at the top of my notes:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Of course our actions are very important. I think of it as our prayers being the seeds that grow into the fruit of our actions. We start by praying with our mouth so the words might enter our heart, and from there flow into our whole being. “We pray so that God can help us to become more like Him in our actions.” So praying with words is the starting point. Here are Archdeacon Saed’s [paraphrased] tips for
Establishing a Rule of Prayer
1. Be realistic. Start small to ensure it’s something you can really keep up with every day. You can always add more later.
2. Be regular. Praying at the same time every day, for example when you first wake up or before a meal, will help you make it a habit.
3. Establish a place. Set up a prayer corner in your home, someplace where you can have a little privacy.
4. Sit quietly before you start, “Be still and know that I am God.” Put away your phone, turn off the TV, and give your mind a chance to focus.
5. It may be easier to start with structured prayers. Use a small Orthodox prayer book that you can keep in your pocket or purse, or keep a photocopy of a certain prayer you’d like to say regularly.
I have to be honest, my prayer life isn’t so great right now, so I’m definitely planning to make use of these tips. Below is one of my favorite morning prayers, good words to start the day with.
The Morning Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow
O Lord, grant that I may meet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will.
In each hour of the day reveal Your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray within me.