Lemon Ginger Chia Beverage

Hydrating Lemon Ginger Beverage with Chia Seeds
This may just be the most Lenten recipe I post this season. It was supposed to look beautiful and radiant in the sunlight, but I just realized now it even looks kind of swampy sitting in the grass like this. The swampiness isn’t exactly a fair representation, but let it be a warning to you: This is not a drink for the faint of heart.

I have a thing for drinks with a bite. This one, for example, is extremely tart and mildly bitter, with just a hint of sweetness from maple syrup. The chia seeds are added to make it more satisfying, and may also help keep you hydrated (anyway that’s what I keep reading) – important during the very strict fasting days at the beginning of Great Lent and end of Holy Week.

Lemon Ginger Chia Beverage
2 – 3 lemons, or to taste
1/4 C peeled ginger, roughly chopped
2 1/2 C water
maple syrup, to taste
3 Tbsp chia seeds
*optional: lemon zest

Juice two lemons (or more, if you prefer), and add juice to pot with water. Slice the third lemon and set slices aside.
Add chopped ginger and optional lemon zest* to lemon water and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out ginger chunks. Add maple syrup to taste (keep in mind this is supposed to be somewhat healthy…add just enough so the bitter and tart flavors don’t kill you). Stir in chia seeds. Place in a glass jar. Add lemon slices, and place jar in fridge to chill. Drink cold.
This recipe makes about two glasses.

*I carefully sliced the peel off my two lemons – not the bitter white pith, just the yellow peel – and added it with the ginger. Slicing is so much faster than using a zester!

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich

Yes, I am still celebrating Pizza Week, but I’ll be posting my pizza tonight. This morning I want to share a review of VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart. I’ve been purchasing it on Amazon since I can get free shipping with Prime (thanks to my brother for sharing access to his Prime account – did you know you can share access with multiple people??).

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich
It was selling out fast in the beginning. When I first heard about it, it was out of stock at every online retailer I checked, and I have yet to find it locally. After a week it became available, so I ordered two cartons and sent one to a friend. When my carton was running out, it was out of stock again! So a couple weeks later when it became available, I ordered four cartons all for me 😀 I used it to make scrambled eggs, omelets, a quiche-like dish, and even very experimental sunny side up eggs. I also did a very simple egg sandwich just because I love the taste of the VeganEgg with the VioLife herb cheese.

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich
For the sandwich, I poured the mixed VeganEgg into my skillet and let it cook over medium heat until it was firm, then flipped it and cooked a couple minutes longer. I used a biscuit cutter to cut rounds of egg the size of my bagel (I have a lovely antique set with nesting rings of several sizes).

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich with VioLife
I put tons of margarine on both halves of the bagel – I’m not vegan for my health! (but you could sub olive oil or coconut oil sprinkled with a little salt)

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich with VioLife
Then add a slice or two of VioLife herb cheese. But if, like most people reading this, you are in the United States without access to VioLife (YET), try it with Follow Your Heart’s Garden Herb cheese slices. You could also add your favorite vegan deli slices or vegan bacon.

Does it taste like eggs? YES. Okay, I don’t really know firsthand because I can’t remember what eggs taste like, although the consistency seemed right and I thought the taste was familiar. I made a sort of a quiche dish for a dinner party (recipe coming soon) and told everyone up front what it was. They all said it was like eggs, but in case I ruined it by letting them in on the secret ingredient, someone arrived late and took a big scoop. “Mmmm, who brought the quiche?” “It’s VEGAN.” “WUT.” So yes, I think it’s really similar.

VeganEgg Tips
-The instructions say to mix the VeganEgg powder with ice cold water – and they mean it! Put some water in a glass with ice when you get started, and pop it in the freezer or fridge while prep everything else. Then strain the water when you pour it into the measuring cup.

-If whisking, pour the water in gradually. Start with just enough to make a paste, and whisk to break up any lumps. Add a little more water, whisk until smooth, etc.

-Whisk the heck out of it!

-You can add a bit more water than called for to get more bang for your buck with the same great eggy results. Play around to see what works for you.

-The powder has a very mild/bland flavor on its own because its meant to also be used for baking. Personally, I would never waste it on baking when there are so many cheap alternatives! But due to the mild taste for that reason, I definitely recommend adding kala namak black salt for a sulfurous taste. It’s up to you how much, I usually do about 4 shakes per serving. I also add 1 tsp nutritional yeast per serving.

Overall, yes, this is an expensive little carton of eggs, but it’s totally worth it for a special treat or a shared meal with non-vegans. And it’s super fun to experiment with!

Big Qrunch Plate

Lately it seems like I’m hungry ALL the time. I feel like a big bear bulking up for hibernation! I usually have a supply of Qrunch Burgers in the freezer and try to find different ways to use them, other than just sticking them in a bun. They’re good “filler” because of the quinoa, and because of the great variety of flavors they come in.

Vegan Qrunch Burger Plate

The Qrunch Plate

As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of using recipes, but lately I’ve posted quite a few that have actual measurements. Well, not today. The Big Qrunch Plate is something you can throw together with what you have on hand – assuming you at least have the Qrunch Burgers 🙂 But here’s a guide you might use:

Big Qrunch Plate
2 Qrunch Burgers
sauteed and/or fresh veggies
dollop of vegan sour cream
seasonings to taste

For mine, I sauteed onions, garlic, bell pepper, and tomatoes, then added fresh avocado. I bought some less-than-stellar vegan sour cream from Trader Joe’s and seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, and dill, and it tastes much better. It went great with the veggies and Spicy Buffalo Qrunch Burgers, and was just the right touch for the Chef Ernesto breaded green beans I got from Dollar Tree – that’s what you see bordering the veggies & burger. The meal is gluten free if you leave out the breaded stuff (or make your own with gf breadcrumbs).

I finally felt full after this meal! What’s your favorite thing to eat during the winter months?

Baptizing Dough on the Theophany of Christ

Theophany Icon Decorated with Flowers

An icon of the baptism of Christ, decorated by my friend Carolyn (who points out she had some help from me and Melissa)

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan
Worship of the Trinity was made manifest
For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee
Calling Thee His beloved Son
And the Spirit in the likeness of a dove
Confirmed the truth of His Word
O Christ, our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world
Glory to Thee

Last night we celebrated an evening Liturgy for the feast of Theophany. This is similar to Epiphany, but unlike the West, our celebration focuses solely on Christ’s baptism and the appearing of the Holy Spirit. We talk a lot about the Magi during the festal period of the Nativity, so that’s over and done with for Theophany (which is a Greek word meaning “manifestation of God”). After the Liturgy for the feast, we have the Great Blessing of Water. In some areas, this means going outside and blessing a body of water – maybe we’ll do the Grand River one day! But for now, in our parish we bless spring water in a font inside the church. The people are sprinkled (or splashed, or drenched, depending on the zeal of the priest) with the holy water, given some to drink, and usually get a small bottle to take home. For the days and weeks following Theophany, the parish priest will do house blessings, also using the holy water.

There’s another Theophany tradition I just learned about last week when Father asked me if anyone in the parish knows how to make zalabia. First I had to google it. There are tons of variations, with some people using a wet dough and some using something more like bread dough, various shapes, and different toppings. The first person I contacted is my friend Nadira because I know she’s a great cook and can make just about any kind of Middle Eastern food, and whatever else she dreams up.

Nadira found a Jordanian recipe which is in Arabic. She translated it and whipped up the dough for us and the two of us, with help from her son Mutaz, tried our best to make beautifully golden-brown zalabia with just the right amount of crunch on the outside, soft on the inside, that doesn’t get soggy when the syrup is added.

Zalabia for Theophany
I can’t find any information online about why zalabia is served for the feast of Theophany, but as we were making it Nadira made the observation that we were baptizing the dough. You see, to make these little balls of fried goodness, you squeeze the wet dough up through a hole in the top of your fist, then quickly swipe it with an oiled spoon, immediately flinging it into the hot oil.

Watch the Zalabia King. When the dough hits the oil it sinks straight to the bottom, then shoots up again, rising to the top.

If you haven’t seen an Orthodox baptism, we don’t just pour water over the baby’s head – they are in the water and they get dunked (by the way, it’s also Greek tradition to completely cover the baby in oil, just like our little dough balls)!

Zalabia for Theophany
We made a large batch coated in simple syrup. Nadira added a little rosewater for flavor.

Zalabia for Theophany
Then a small batch was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

We did burn some of the oil not thinking about the different smoke points for different kinds of oil (we had a different kind in each pot). We also forgot to bring a thermometer, which would have been super helpful…we burned a few pieces, but I am still going to eat them 🙂 At the end we decided we need a nice deep fryer with a filter and accurate temperature gauge if we’re going to do this annually, and we are going to do this annually because who doesn’t like fried dough covered in sugar???

We will perfect our recipe and technique, maybe figure out how to make all the different shapes, and then I’ll post the recipe here before Theophany next year so maybe some of you can treat your parish, or family & friends, too.

Blessed Feast to All!

No Bake Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie

Vegan No Bake Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie
I have to make this pie again and take a better picture, I was too busy eating this one to put much time into photographing 🙂 A local shop was selling vegan Peanut Butter Pie for Thanksgiving, but I was too cheap to buy one. I planned to make my own, then when I got to Harvest Health Foods they were out of every brand of plain vegan cream cheese. Daiya to the rescue – I grabbed their strawberry flavor and decided to make a PB&J pie instead! I also used Earth Balance peanut butter for the first time (next time I’m going to experiment with their extra protein version).

At first I didn’t think it turned out because as I mixed it, the oil appeared to separate. I’m not sure if it was oil from the peanut butter, the cream cheese, or both. But since I didn’t have a Plan B, I dumped my odd filling into my pre-made pie crust, stuck it in the fridge, and hoped for the best. I pulled it out the next day, and sure enough, it just kinda looked like a pie. Haha. Vegan peanut butter cup garnishes are optional, but wonderful if you have them.

My somewhat picky, non-vegan-but-Nativity-fasting brother-in-law was afraid to try it, but took a piece since it was one of the few Lenten desserts we had for Thanksgiving. I think he said something like, “It’s actually not bad!” 🙂 Serve with a glass of almond milk, or a cup of coffee.

No Bake Peanut Butter & Jelly Pie
graham cracker pie crust
1 C creamy peanut butter, such as Earth Balance
1 8oz container Daiya strawberry cream cheese
1 1/4 C confectioners sugar
strawberry jelly for swirling
optional: vegan peanut butter cups (I used Justin’s dark chocolate)

In a bowl, cream together peanut butter and cream cheese until it’s well blended and relatively smooth. Slowly mix in confectioners sugar. Pour filling into pie crust and smooth it out. Now to make it pretty and extra strawberry-y, spoon a few tablespoons of strawberry jelly over the filling here and there and just sort of lightly swirl it in with the spoon. It should still be smooth on top. Cover the pie and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour or two. Garnish with peanut butter cups just before serving.

Next time I think I’ll try mine with a chocolate cookie crust. What’s your favorite pie filling?

10 Minute 2 Ingredient Semi Homemade Pudding

I don’t know how I didn’t figure this out before, but I could’ve been eating gloriously cheap and delicious vegan pudding all these years! And it couldn’t be simpler. I wouldn’t call this a “from scratch” recipe, more like semi-homemade, but I’m okay with that.

This morning I rolled out of bed and realized I’d forgotten to make something for breakfast (I usually eat at work) and I didn’t have much time to spare. By the time I finished getting myself ready, it was 7:52 and I needed to leave the house at 8:10.

10 Minute 2 Ingredient Homemade Vegan Pudding
I grabbed these two ingredients: Pumpkin Spice coconut milk & cornstarch. That’s it. You can really use any flavor you want, or use plain and flavor it yourself. I used a couple ad-ins, but they’re optional.

10 Minute 2 Ingredient Homemade Vegan Pudding
The pudding is wonderful warm, and when it cools it gets pretty solid and gelatinous. Might even work for a pie filling.

10 Minute Pudding
1 C flavored coconut milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Add cornstarch to pan over medium high and use a whisk to spread it around. Immediately, but SLOWLY, begin pouring in the coconut milk while whisking to prevent lumps from forming. Keep whisking as you bring the milk to a boil. Let is boil for just a minute or so, then remove from heat.
Serve warm and soupy, or cold and thick.

If you want to increase the recipe, it’s just 1 Tbsp cornstarch for every cup of milk. You don’t have to use coconut milk, but I like the fat 🙂 I also added a bit of coconut milk yogurt to mine while it was cooling, and today I added a bit of maple syrup.

I started cooking around 7:54, and by the time I took this picture at 8:09 I had already cleaned my mess and had the pudding chilling in the fridge. Doesn’t seem to hurt a thing if you increase the heat and bring it to a boil faster on the high setting, just make sure you whisk the entire time.

It’s vegan, gluten free, oil free, cheap, fast, and perfect for a strict fasting day!

If It’s Vegan, I’ll Eat It: Dog Food Flavor Sprays

Well, this just goes to show I will try pretty much ANY food if it’s got vegan on it. A while ago I somehow came across these flavored dog food sprays. Only one had vegan on the label, but I contacted the company and they confirmed all flavors are vegan. So…I got one of each, except peanut butter because that’s probably more exciting for a dog than for me.

Vegan Dog Food Flavor Spray
These 8oz bottles of Dog Food Flavor Spray from Green Seal Products will probably last me a while, and I can imagine doing all kinds of things with each flavor. At first I tried just spraying the chicken flavor on my salad. It did give it an interesting grilled flavor, but I wanted something more exciting. But what?!??!

Fixing Bad Pizza with Dog Food Flavor Spray
Then the other day my dad ordered a vegan pizza for me. The restaurant puts cheese right in their sauce (WHY? I hate that), so I could only have crust, veggies, and oil. That would be fine if they weren’t skimpy on the oil, and made sure to drizzle over both the crust AND the vegetables. And maybe added a pinch of salt. But…nope. I got this dry pizza with wrinkly vegetables and crumpled spinach. Nice try, though.

Fixing Bad Pizza - Coleslaw!
So Plan A was covering the pizza in my homemade spicy coleslaw (chopped cabbage, grated carrot, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and dill to taste). That was awesome, but I only had enough for two of three pieces. Then I realized I’d been carrying these spray bottles around in my lunch bag. So.

Fixing Bad Pizza with Dog Food Flavor Spray
I went to town on this last slice of pizza. I sprayed it all over with the cheese flavor, then I squirted a little of each meaty flavor all over as if I were topping the pizza. It’s not a very intense flavor. Like, I think if you didn’t know it was there you wouldn’t be tricked into thinking this is a really meaty and cheesy tasting pizza (maybe you have to be a dog to truly appreciate it), but it gave it a good flavor. Kind of smoky and charred, and a little tanginess from the cheese spray that I think probably comes from lactic acid – don’t worry, there is such a thing as vegan lactic acid!

I plan on trying this again on sandwiches, pasta, etc. Oh yeah, I already tried the cheese flavor on popcorn, but I had to use 75 sprays and it just wasn’t quite the same. Might try again combining it with margarine and see how it goes. How would you use it?

Fixing Bad Pizza

Follow me on Instagram! @timetovegan

And friends, please find me on Instagram @timetovegan – I’d love to see your pictures!

Protein Noodles

Protein Noodles
Sooo….sometimes I get a little lazy. I wait until the last minute to make my lunch for work, and then I’m too tired to make a real meal. This is one of the simple, and uh, interesting dishes I came up with. It’s ready in 10 minutes, can have as few as 3 ingredients (totally up to you), and it’s packed with protein. It’s also dirt cheap!

Protein Noodles
1 C prepared & drained elbow macaroni (or noodle of choice)
1/2 C prepared minced TVP
Frank’s Redhot Sauce

Prepare noodles according to instructions. Prepare TVP according to instructions. Season TVP to taste with hot sauce, then combine noodles & TVP. Eat.

You can liven it up by using a broth to rehydrate the TVP, adding more seasonings or nutritional yeast, adding vegan cheese, or minced veggies. But, although it’s not very exciting, I really did like this as it was. Nice and simple! And it’s oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Cheezy Mac Breakfast Skillet

Well friends, earlier this week I shared with you my review of Daiya Cheezy Mac, a vegan & gluten free boxed mac n cheese. As I mentioned, it’s supposed to be three servings per box, but I can’t stop myself from eating the ENTIRE box at once! Well, with just a few extra minutes of cooking I fattened up my cheezy mac and was able to really and truly break it down into three very filling servings. So, while you’re preparing your Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac according to instructions, check this out…

Vegan Mac n Cheese Breakfast Skillet
I sauteed onions and fresh garlic in olive oil, then added and browned Tofurky breakfast links, and threw in a little spinach.

Vegan Mac n Cheese Breakfast Skillet
That’s it! Add it to your cheezy mac.

Vegan Mac n Cheese Breakfast Skillet
Adding the sausages made it very filling without adding too many calories. In fact I entered this meal on My Fitness Pal, and with the oil, veggies & sausages it came to a mere 418 calories. May not be the healthiest thing, but for a special treat (or if you just plan to exercise it off), no big deal.

Cheezy Mac Vegan Breakfast Skillet
1 Box Daiya Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac, prepared according to instructions
1 Tbsp olive oil (or oil of choice)
1/4 C chopped onion*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped*
6 Tofurky Apple Maple Breakfast Sausages, chopped
1 C frozen spinach*
Optional, black pepper

*Or more to taste.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until tender. Add chopped sausages and saute until lightly browned. Add spinach and cook until heated through (if using fresh, cook until wilted). You may wish to add black pepper, but salt is not recommended since the sauce is nice and salty already.
Combine with prepared Cheezy Mac and serve hot.

By the way, this Smoked Vegan Mac and Cheese Recipe from 2 Broke Vegans reminded me of the classic Mac n Cheese n Hot Dogs thing and inspired this dish. Check it out!

Daiya Cheezy Mac Review

I want to tell you about a very exciting experience I had a few months ago. I follow Daiya Cheese on facebook, and there I learned about a new product: Daiya Cheezy Mac. I love Daiya products, and this one sounded particularly interesting because basically all you have to do is boil macaroni, drain, squeeze, stir. EAT. Did I mention the macaroni is gluten free? It’s made with brown rice and rice bran.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
The packaging itself is pleasing to the eye. I didn’t want to throw the boxes away – I’m a hoarder, so I kept thinking, “There must be something I can do with these boxes!!!!!!!” I haven’t come up with anything yet, but one day…oh yes, one day I will.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
“Rejoice,” they say. And I did!
Vegan Mac n Cheese
Now take notice, the orientation of the image and text is different on the front and back. Prefer landscape to portrait? Daiya has you covered.
I tried the Deluxe White Cheddar Style Veggie first because more is better when it comes to cheezy mac.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
These are the contents right here, everything you need but the pot and water. The ready-to-use cheez sauce comes in a handy squeeze pouch.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
The veggies don’t look too impressive at first, but if you have seven to eight minutes worth of patience…

Vegan Mac n Cheese
they will plump right up.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
Now add that sauce! STIR.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
Each box claims to make three servings. This is what one serving looks like in my soup bowl.

Vegan Mac n Cheese
And this is the amount I thought I would actually eat, it’s about half the box. In reality, I ended up eating the whole entire thing, 900 glorious calories, in one sitting.

Basically it tastes like the sauces I’ve made myself by melting down the Daiya shreds in almond milk and seasoning it with salt and pepper (except no pepper in this one). So I have a food blog, obviously I don’t mind cooking, but sometimes even I need a break. Now instead of eating a candy bar for dinner, I can have a real meal in 10 minutes. And it provides a good dose of calcium & Vitamin B12, plus a little protein and iron.

And now you can enjoy pictures of me squeezing the cheez sauce into the macaroni.

Daiya Cheezy Mac

Daiya Cheezy Mac 4
There was *just* enough cheez sauce. The macaroni wasn’t swimming in it, but it wasn’t skimpy either. Now, you only need 10 minutes to have a meal straight out of the box, but if you have 20 minutes you can fatten this up all kindsa ways. Later this week I’ll share my breakfast skillet recipe.

Did your mom ever put weird stuff in your mac n cheese when you were a kid? Mine did, and I’m going to recreate that recipe and see if it’s as gross now as I thought it was back then (sorry mom, I love you!). Have you tried Daiya Cheezy Mac yet? What did you think?