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I Am Worth It Too.

16 Mar

The question of the year: Am I Worth It?

Raw vegan 7 years, cooked vegan 1 year, vegetarian 6 years. I am Buddhist. I didn’t want to kill any animals in order to live but my body was struggling. I aged quickly towards the end of my vegan years.

I introduced meats back into my diet in May 2017 and have felt better. My skin is not dry anymore, my eczema is almost none existent, my wrinkles have subsided, I sleep better, my gut is healthier, the atmosphere at home is lighter (i.e. I’m less uptight and more easy going and relaxed), I have gained a lot of muscles, my son doesn’t need his asthma medication anymore… I could go on. I wonder how I can eat animals and still be Buddhist. All I can come up with is this: I say thank you to the animal for dying in order to feed me and keep me healthy. I keep in mind that the Dalai Lama also eats meat. It is ok. I remind myself that I am worth it too.

Edited on 14th June 2018. I wrote the paragraph above as I embarked on my Carnivore journey. I have largely eaten only from the animal kingdom since the 1st of March 2018. What started as a one month experiment has now continued into a new way of eating for me. I love how it makes me feel. I have also found my niche in creating Animal-Based Skin Care and Soaps. Another amazing discovery: we slashed our Vegan food budget by HALF. 

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Turkey Breakfast “Quesadillas”

2 Jun

Here’s a fun test: Vegan vs Keto.

Which do you think is a healthier meal?

PicMonkey Collage

On the left, we have a Vegan meal: baked fries, gluten hot dogs on a whole wheat bun, and sweet coleslaw. On the right, we have a Keto meal: sardines, asparagus in lemon butter, olives, and tomatoes.

Now let’s compare a whole day’s meal:

On a Vegan diet:

On a Keto diet:

  • breakfast ~ Eggs, No Sugar Bacon, and Avocado;
  • lunch ~ Sardines, Asparagus in Lemon Butter, Olives, and Tomatoes; and,
  • dinner ~ Grilled Lamb and a Big Salad with a Mayonnaise Dressing.

Which is healthier? LOW FAT HIGH CARBS or LOW CARB HIGH FATS? Check out this video here for some answers. 

So we don’t need all that carbohydrates after all?

If you are like me, you are just beginning to figure out that of the three macro-nutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates), our bodies DO NOT require a lot of CARBOHYDRATES. Check out this video here for why that is.

Moderate Proteins and High Fats for Breakfast

We just discovered ourselves that our bodies were struggling after 8 solid years on a Low Fat High Carbohydrate Vegan diet. In search for a better diet for our family, we have switched to a Low Carbohydrate, Moderate Protein, and High Fat Keto diet. Our moods have changed, our cravings have changed, we don’t feel “hangry” pangs, there are less aches and pains, our skin is better, and the list goes on.

Turkey Quesadillas

So what did we have for breakfast today? These yummy “quesadillas” that my son just loves.

Turkey Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • no sugar turkey deli meat
  • your choice of cheese
  • salsa
  • green onions
  • avocado
  • eggs
  • sour cream

Place grated cheese and green onions inside the turkey slices, fold over, and bake at 350F for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese melts.

While the turkey quesadillas are cooking, fry some eggs and slice some avocados. Now it’s time to plate breakfast. Top the quesadillas with salsa and green onions. Serve with eggs, avocado, and sour cream (optional). ENJOY!

Turkey Quesadillas 2

For a Paleo option: instead of cheese, place scrambled eggs inside the turkey slices instead.

Vegan Char Siu Bao 素叉烧包

24 Oct

Oh these are so delicious! I usually don’t enjoy recipes that take more than an hour, but these are worth it!

bao-zi-5

Vegan Char Siu Bao

The Filling

Make 2 recipes of the Vegan Char Siu. After roasting the Seitan, chop them into small pieces and place back into the marinade. Make sure all the pieces are coated well.

wheat-gluten-in-char-siu-sauce

The Bread Dough

This takes a couple of hours but you can refrigerate it after the dough rises until you are ready to proceed.

Place in a bowl:

  • 1 c warm water
  • 3 Tbs Sucanat or other cane sugar

Dissolve sugar and add:

  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

Stir lightly and leave for 10 minutes until bubbly. Then add:

  • 2 Tbs grapeseed oil

Mix well and add slowly until incorporated and no longer sticky. You may not need all of the flour:

  • 3 c all purpose flour

OR

  • 2 c all purpose flour and 3/4 – 1 c tapioca starch (I’ve tried using 1/3 whole wheat flour in this dough but my family DOES NOT like it. Whole wheat makes it very dense and a darker brown. Using tapioca starch makes this dough less white flour but does not change the color nor make it denser. In fact, tapioca starch creates even thinner buns.)

Knead until smooth and soft. Grease bowl and dough. Leave for 3 hours to rise. Punch down. At this point you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough if you are not using it immediately. When ready to use, punch down again. Sprinkle flour on your work area. Place dough on your area and flatten it. Place in the centre of the dough:

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Gather up the edges and enclose the baking powder. Seal and knead until well incorporated. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Flatten each piece into a circle and make sure the edges are thinner than at the centre.

Start filling each round with 2 Tbsp of the Vegan Char Siu. Make sure you get some marinade too. Gather up the edges and place on pieces of parchment paper.

bao-zi-2-2

When 12 buns are filled, immediately steam them for 12 minutes. While they are steaming, work on the rest of the buns.

steaming-char-siu-bao

I wish I had better photos of these Vegan Char Siu Bao after steaming but every time I make them, they are quickly devoured and there is little time for artistic photos. Here’s a photo of one while I take a break from chowing down. Don’t these look delicious?

vegan-char-siu-bao-2

If you ever have some leftovers, just refrigerate them until you are ready to serve and simply steam again until hot.

Vegan Char Siu Bao.jpg

Enjoy!

Vegan Char Siu 素叉烧

24 Oct

Growing up in Hong Kong was just a gastronomic delight. Of all the foods available there, I probably miss Dim Sum the most. I rarely visit, but when I do, I don’t usually eat my childhood favorite foods because of the meat content. A month ago, I wanted to eat something that reminded me of my younger days and decided to create Vegan Char Siu Bao. First, I made Vegan Char Siu with beans and gluten and then I wrapped it in Chinese bread dough to make Vegan Char Siu Bao. I have made it a couple of times since then and have loved each bite.

vegan-char-siu

Vegan Char Siu (Makes 1 pound)

This is a flavored Seitan Vegan alternative to the traditional Pork. Place the following ingredients in a food processor with a sharp blade:

  • generous 2/3 c cooked and drained kidney beans
  • 2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbs black bean sauce
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pinch white pepper

Process all together, then add:

  • 1/2 c water

Process together. Then, change the blade to a dough blade. Now add:

  • 1 c vital wheat gluten
  • 3 T tapioca starch

Process until the dough combines and keep processing to knead for a minute or two until smooth. Now form into big sausages and wrap in foil. Sometimes I divide it into 4 sausages, but I’ve also made 2 big ones too. Both work.

Steam for 1 hour. If you have an Instant Pot, you can steam it for around 12 minutes. While the Seitan is cooking, make the marinade.

Char Siu Marinade (enough for 1 pound of Seitan)

Mix all together in a bowl:

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs maple syrup or your choice of sweetener
  • 2 Tbs brandy or Chinese rice wine
  • 2 Tbs black bean sauce
  • 4 Tbs Hoisin sauce

When the Seitan is done cooking, unwrap it and allow to cool.  Place the Seitan in the marinade overnight.

The next day, take the Seitan out of the marinade. Reserve the marinade. Roast the Seitan at 450F for 10 minutes on each side. If you want a crispier skin, you can roast for an additional 10 minutes each side.

Slice and serve with the reserved marinade over rice.

vegan-char-siu

Alternative: you can also use this marinade with 1# cooked and drained kidney beans for a bean version to Char Siu. Simmer all together for a few minutes and serve over rice.

Both the Seitan and the beans can be used in my Vegan Char Siu Bao, but my family much prefers the Seitan because it adds a texture that the beans do not.

Enjoy!

 

Mama’s Got Balls: Easy Vegan Meatball Subs

21 Aug

I never knew Meatball Subs existed until my then boyfriend (now husband) and I went to eat at a sandwich place and he ordered a huge foot long Meatball Sub. How can anyone eat such a gigantic meat sandwich? Anyway, I made this Vegan Meatball Sub especially for him in memory of that date so many years ago. And yes, he can eat at least two of these in one sitting. Ummm… actually, so can I.

Vegan Meatballs 3

Easy Vegan Lentil Meatballs

Mix together in a bowl:

  • 2 c cooked lentils, drained
  • 1 c quick oats
  • 1/2 c wheat germ (you can substitute ground sunflower seeds or flax seeds, if you want)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tbsp tomato sauce (depending on what you are going to do with the meatballs, you can substitute this with ketchup or BBQ sauce or another type of sauce)
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Vegan Meatballs 1

Mix together well to incorporate all the ingredients. Form into balls. There will be around 18 – 20 pieces around 1 1/2″ in diameter. You can make your balls smaller for appetizer portions or bigger for burgers, whatever suits you.

Brown the Meatballs

You could roll the balls in whole wheat flour, but I don’t feel this is necessary because they will be dunked in sauce anyway.

Also, both methods (below) work, but I prefer method 1 because of the way they brown and the way they stay intact once in the sauce. If you don’t have time to keep watch over the stovetop, then method 2 works just fine.

Vegan Meatballs 2

Method 1 Sauté: spray a non-stick pan (I use ceramic and stay away from teflon) with grape seed oil. Cook all sides of the meatballs until browned.

Vegan Meatballs 5

Method 2 Bake: bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 10 minutes. Turn meatballs over on the other side and bake another 10 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Easy Tomato Sauce

Place in a slow cooker:

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes with basil (or plain and add 1 tsp dried basil)
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 onion, halved

Cook on low for 3 – 4 hours. Or you can simmer it for an hour or so on the stove. Discard the onions or use in another recipe.

Vegan Meatballs 6

Mix the Meatballs with the Sauce

When both the sauce and meatballs are done cooking, gently combine them to make sure they are heated through. Serve immediately. Do not overcook together as the balls may begin to fall apart.

NOTE: if you want ground meat in the sauce instead of meatballs in your sauce, you can add the meatballs to the sauce in the slow cooker and cook together for an hour or more. The longer you cook the meatballs in the sauce, the more soggy they will get. The sauce will resemble ground meat sauce. Both ways are delicious!

Vegan Meatballs 4

Mama’s Got Balls: Assembling the Subs

You will need:

  • Vegan Meatballs with sauce (from above)
  • big size hot dog buns from Vegan Hot Dog recipe or your choice of bread
  • your choice of vegetables: caramelized onions, spinach or other
  • your choice of toppings and other sauces

Slice buns, add in your choice of vegetables, Vegan Meatballs with sauce, and toppings. Enjoy!

Other Ways of Serving

Vegan Meatballs 7

  • with Pasta
  • over Polenta
  • over Rice
  • small balls as Appetizers served with sauce on the side
  • serve with BBQ sauce instead

Vegan Meatballs 3

This Vegan Mama Cooked Lamb

31 Oct

Photo Oct 30, 18 57 56003

 

I chopped a lamb’s leg yesterday morning. I haven’t done that in over 7 years. It was a weird feeling. I had gloves on, washed my hands really well, and even showered, yet the odor of meat still stuck to me for the rest of the day. I roasted the meat for dinner and the smell pervaded the house even more.  I had forgotten how cooked lamb smells. I had forgotten how much cleaning is involved in preparing fresh meat. I had forgotten how the rubbish smells the day after, and worse, the days after that.

Vegans: don’t judge me.

After three years of Vegan food at home, my family has started craving animal products with an intensity I had not seen before.  It was time for me to be sensitive to their wants and needs too. They have asked for meat once a week. They also asked for more Vegetarian meals. It has been a difficult transition for me. I am relearning how to cook with butter, eggs, dairy, and meats. I struggle having to create two separate balanced meals: one for them and one Vegan for me. At certain times, I have broken down and eaten some of their foods because I honestly had no time left in my day to make any for myself.

As I strive to understand my family and how our kitchen is changing, I remember what my friend Ian told me: it is important that I grow together with my family, and not grow apart.

Yes, this is what I choose to do.