A Few New Finds

Happy New Year! And if this is the first day of your Journey (whatever that is) then good for you! I am here for you!

I have been cooking up a storm! Friday, week before last, I was so excited for the weekend I left the house for work without breakfast or lunch. I ate pretzels. Yeah, smart. So when I got home, I was so hungry for protein and carbs that all I could think of was beans and rice. I like beans well enough, but they aren’t my favorite. And I wanted black beans, which are probably my least favorite! So I put a can of rinsed black beans, two cups of rice, a half a small can of tomato paste, half an onion, and some better than bouillion in the Instant Pot and set it for “rice” (12 minutes). And it was SO GOOD! The next night we had leftovers and my kid the omni loved it, too! So much that in the middle of last week he asked me to make it again. I made it third time, but I didn’t like the outcome becasue I added a handfull of diced tomatoes and forgot the bouillion (and the rice burnt, lol) so I didn’t finish it. But I definitely have plans to make it the original way again.

Then this past Friday, I made the best thing ever, lol! I made corn chowder. I glanced at a receipe online that said to use coconut milk instead of cream. So the chowder was:

(all of this was eyeballed, by the way. Do what you want.)

1 10oz bag of frozen corn (I would have added more but that’s all I had)
5 medium potatoes, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp vegetable better than bouillion
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp chipotle powder
salt to taste
water to cover vegetables/fill pot
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp cornstarch


I put it on the Instant Pot “soup” setting (30 minutes high pressure). when done, release pressure, open the pot, and add one can of coconut milk mixed with a tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir, then blend the soup with an immersion blender, or put some in a regular blender then return to the pot.


I mean, damn, it was delicious! And my teenager, who hates soup (becasue it doesn’t fill him up) said it was great, so really there’s no higher praise, lol.

Today I made split pea soup for the second time using this receipe, but I left out the coconut oil. I’ll have that for lunch, every other day. I think Tuesday and Thursday, though, I might splurge and have Gardein chick’n in hot sauce and rice and a veggie. I love that for a meal. But I have no idea what to do for dinner. I’ll have to think about it.

Have a safe and wonderful New Year! I hope to be around here more often in 2018!






Not Enough of This, Too Much of That

I think announcing and apologizing for my absence is getting old, so, hi. I’m back. I am going to try to recall what I’ve been eating for the last two weeks. Good luck with that.

So this week there was soup, which I ate a couple times for lunch this week. I’ve noticed that my soups always taste exactly the same, no matter what vegetables or pulses I use, becasue the base is always the same: Better Than Bouillion vegetable, carrots, onions and celery, garlic, garlic powder (so nice I use it twice), bay leaf, and italian blend seasonings (because I’m boring). Then like, this week I used lentils and butternut squash. It was really good, though. I’m not complaining, I just observed that the taste doesn’t change much from one reciepe to the next.

I made some mashed potatoes in the Instant Pot. Peel them, dice them, put them in a steamer basket, add some water, steam for 10 minutes. I added almond milk, Earth Balance, garlic, salt and pepper. But guess what I learned about that? That there was entirely too much butter. So as of writing this, I am making more mashed potatoes, and I am not going to add any butter, just more salt to replace the saltiness of it?

I realize that I use entirely too much oil and butter. I do. I see Vegans on Youtube cook with tons of olive oil, and I think, “Oh, they look health(ier than I do) so they must be doing something right?” I am the first to admit that I did lose weight the first time I went vegan. I think cutting out animal products will do that. But I also know that not cutting out vegetable/coconut/olive oils is doing me no favors. I don’t know. Do I beat myself over it? Do I use them and just say “oh well this is who I am?” Do I ~really~ try to avoid them (while my hindbrain screams, “fats! my precious!”?)

Let’s move on to what else I ate. I’ve had the Beyond Burger three times since Thanksgiving. I top the burger with sauteed onion, dill pickle, mustard and ketchup. We make oven fries to go with. Very good. Something like 220 calories a burger. It does have saturated fat, becasue it has a lot of plant-based oils in it.

And I wanted to say that my own son, the carnivore, told me to buy tofu (!!!) because he wanted to cook with it. I was shocked. And so he came up with a delicious tofu stir fry! Crumbled tofu and a mix of vegetables in soy, ginger, garlic and brown sugar. The veggies were a frozen mix, but pretty much standard. And it was SO good! He cooked it in the Instant Pot. I ate that a couple times for lunch this week, too.

Last night I made spaghetti sauce with cans of crushed and diced tomatoes. I tried something new, and carmelized the onions first. And I think i could really taste the difference! I ate it for lunch today. There’s some left, which I may have tomorrow, becasue as I said, I’ve got mashed potatoes cooking right now.

I am trying to think if I had any one-offs last week. I’ve been eating lots of bananas and oranges and dark chocolate. I made popcorn. I drink a ton of lemonade. We bought iceberg lettuce and I ate almost all of it. I have more, which I’ll eat tonight, I think. I ate oven fries (white and sweet) a couple of times, and some rice. I honestly can’t think of anything else. (I just asked the kid if he can remember, and he said, “Anything we could get our hands on?” LOL)

Sunday Funday

Another thing I’m working on besides what I eat, is kind of cleaning up my life a little. Like, I started doing one thing a day. I call is my Good Deed, except it’s probably not “good” for anyone except me. Like, one morning before work I sorted my “floordrobe” (that clean clothes pile in the basket/on the chair/floor). Yesterday was actually getting out of the house for something other than groceries. Today I offered to help the Kid with his massive floordrobe (more like a closet full of clothes of indeterminate cleanliness). We bagged up give-away and throw-away clothes and did a couple of washes, and I we cleaned out his chest of drawers. He had TWO drawers full of mismatched socks! Then we went into my closet and I got rid of everything I keep hold on to but never wear. You know that feeling, “oh I’ll wear it someday/when I lose weight,” meanwhile it’s old and hopelessly out of style.

For breakfast I ate an English muffin (I honestly don’t know what’s in those) and peanut butter. Then for lunch I ate the dreaded mayo-having buffalo chick’n wrap. I snacked on the “cheese” I made last night (honestly we have to think of a name for it) and chips, and for dinner I’m making vegetable soup sans lentils. I just ate that all last week and I didn’t want it again. But soup is the easiest (for me) to make and transport. This soup was a cleaning out the fridge special and had potatoes (5 small) because they’re the best, two onions, three carrots and three stalks of celery, a ton of garlic (garlic = life), not as much Better Than Bouillon as last time, Tony Chachere’s, basil, Italian herb mix, garlic powder, onion powder, and chipotle powder (I love the kick it gives stuff without being too spicy). Pretty much the same stuff I put in all my soups. Then I added water to cover, gave it a stir, and set the Instant Pot for “Soup” which is equal to 30 minute

I want to pimp/promo something I’ve done twice now and I love and I want to share. Last year I had a grocery delivery service, which was awesome. I don’t hate grocery shopping, but who loves it, either? Plus, I am a complete impulse shopper and most of the time will blow my budget (and my diet) by buying whatever looks good (hello, donuts!). But being able to shop online keeps me focused and gives me more time to think about menus and avoid seeing and grabbing off the shelves. Alas, the service we used charged a monthly fee, and added a charge to all the food. So it was expensive. I am not going to name the company; they pretty much all work like that. But a couple weekends ago, I tried the Walmart Grocery pick up service. I know, there is a lot to deride Walmart over. But I can keep under budget while having a wider selection than Aldi (which is where I shopped most recently and mostly loved), and has a wide selection of international and organic stock. And they don’t charge a monthly fee and they don’t (as far as I know) upcharge the stock to provide this service. So anyway, the gist is you make the order and pick it up at the store, by parking in the designated parking spot and letting them know you’re there (the app/email tells you if you’re order is ready, and from my experience, it’s usually ready early). They bring it out to your car and load your trunk. And the first time we went they gave us a gift bag with a drink and body wash and coupons! So I’m going to give you my affiliate link, which will give you $10 off $50 on your first order. That is here. And really, I am super happy with the service. If they have to make a substitution, they don’t charge you the difference (they were out of store brand so I got name brand for the same price). The app and the site are really easy to use. This is groceries only for the most part, so you can’t like, buy a TV or clothes, lol. But anyway, give it a whirl. I hope you do and you like it.

A recipe for Split Pea Soup

Disovered and adaped from here:

(these all equal about a cup of each)
1 medium yellow onion
3 carrots (I used pre-sliced)
3 stalks of celery

all the garlic you can handle

1lb of split peas (don’t pre-soak)

6 cups of water or veggie broth

1 tbsp vegetable Better than Boullion (omit if you use veggie broth. Or don’t. I’m not your boss. I like tons of flavor. I’m just thinking about sodium.)

1 tbsp oil (it says coconut oil, which I had. Use any or omit if you don’t want fat. The coconut did give a nice aroma, though)

I kind of use the same spices in everything, because that’s what I have and that’s what I like. I try not to add salt, becasue the boullion has sodium and the Tony Charchare’s has salt.

1 tbsp Tony Charchare’s (“sa-sher-ees” a Cajun spice blend that is a Louisiana staple you can get it in most stores, or whatever blend you like)
1 tbsp garlic powder (yes, in addition to the buttload of raw garlic, thank you)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp chipolte powder or smoked paprika (depending if you like a little heat, both are smoked, only one is spicy)
1 tbsp paprika (I use it in addition to the chipotle, mainly for color, omit if you already used smoked)
1 tbsp basil or oregano or parsley (I don’t have a ton of dried green herbs, just this and an Italian blend, feel free to add what you want, or omit)

So add all these to a quart pot. Never fill the Instant Pot to the top. Seal, and cook on Manual for 15 minutes, and let the pressure naturally release, which takes about an additional 30 minutes. When you open the lid, everything will look lumpy, but give it a stir, and turns into a creamy soup! I can fill about 4- 5 quart jars with this and it will last me the whole week.

split pea soup
the finished split pea soup


A recipe for veggie lentil stew

Ok I just put a mess of vegetables in the Instant Pot. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I stuck pretty close to the pea soup recipe I did last week (which I can post momentarily). I’ve just found a huge pot of soup split into quart mason jars can set me up for lunches for just about the whole week. Before I was doing this plant-based eating, I made a few batches of beef stew. Anyway, here’s what I put in this thing:

I eyeballed all of this. I filled up at 6qt pot little over 3/4 of the way.

All of these diced:

2 smallish yellow onions
4 smallish russet pototatoes
3 large stalks of celery
3 large carrots
8oz white mushrooms
a sh*tload of garlic (2 heaping tbsp minced?)

12oz bag of green lentils (feel free to omit, but they help add bulk and fill you up)

(About a level tablespoon of each, but I go heavy on seasonings becasue flavor but use your best judgement)

Tony Charchere’s (cajun seasoning + salt)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Bay leaves (2 large)
Chipolte powder (just a teaspoon bc spicy)
Paprika (not smoked but if you have that omit the chipotle, unless you want a little heat)
Black pepper

Almost 2 large tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon veggie boullion (I just emptied the jar, usually I’ll only put about a tablespoon in)

7 cups of water (to cover the stuff)

I set on high pressure for 30 minutes and since it’s the middle of the day I’ll probably just leave it on natural release and let it sit on warm until I’m hungry again.

Instant Pot Update (Day 37)

So far since I bought the Instant Pot last weekend, I’ve cooked five meals in it, and only eaten out twice. I haven’t bought lunch at work, because I ate what I made last weekend all week. We ate out Wednesday lunch and today (Sunday) lunch. Both times we had coupons. BOGO at Perkins and $3 off $15 at McDonald’s.

So last Sunday I made beef stew. I had two bowls for dinner and split the rest between four 1-liter Mason jars. I ate the stew for lunch all last week (except Wednesday, but I was home hence the Perkins). The stew had beef, onions, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, and celery. We didn’t pre-cook anything. It went in for 35 minutes on the meat/stew setting. When it was done, it looks and tasted like it had been in a slow cooker for 10 hours. The meat was falling apart. It was delicious.

Then Monday we made honey/garlic/soy/ketchup chicken thighs. Actually The Kid made those. They took about 30 minutes on the poultry setting and it was also falling apart. Very good.

Thursday we made shrimp and rice with almost the same recipe except it was brown sugar/garlic/soy. I put it on rice setting, and it turned out great, but I forgot that I wanted to add broccoli to it, so I did and turned it back on on manual for ten minutes with about a quarter cup of water. But I screwed up because the rice was over done and stuck to the bottom of the pan and the broccoli didn’t even cook. Oh well, you can’ t win them all. We ate that two times, and then threw it out; it just wasn’t worth keeping.

Saturday I made spaghetti sauce. I added two onions, garlic (tons, of course), a large can of crushed tomatoes, two regular cans of diced tomatoes and one small can of tomato paste, spices, etc. I added maybe a cup of water. So I set it on Manual – 30 minutes and left it. But while it was cooking I was in the living room and could smell it the whole time, which, if it was sealed, I shouldn’t have. So I checked on it and it never sealed. I released the valve and no steam came out. I opened the lid and the sauce was boiling and it was sticking to the bottom. I had no idea what I’d done wrong. So I went on the office InstantPot Facebook page and asked. Turns out that tomato sauce is usually too thick and doesn’t have enough liquid to come to the boil it needs to make enough pressure to seal the pot. I could add another cup or two of water and try again, but really, in my opinion, that would have made the sauce too thin, and it had been boiling for 30 minutes at that point, so I called it done. It wasn’t bad at all, but I was disapointed I can’t cook something so time intensive in the InstantPot.

Today I’m making food for lunches next week. It’s beans and rice. You don’t have to soak the beans, but it helps, so I soaked them for about five hours. I turned the iPot on sautee and added onion, bell pepper and celery (the Cajun trinity) and smoked turkey sausage and a pound of beans (mixed various from a bean soup package, not just plain kidney beans). I added water until it was about 3/4 full and closed it up and set it on the Beans/Chili timer. I’ll let you know how it turns out.