My Vegan-ish Adventure · Recipes

Vegetarian Creamy Pesto and Tomato Gnocchi

This is a simple but tasty meal, and one of my favorites! This recipe makes two servings.

8 Table spoons of unflavored cream

1 Pkg of Gnocchi

7 ounces of garlic Pesto sauce

10-15 grape tomatoes

Parmesan cheese (optional & for garnishing)

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Start by putting about five cups of water on the stove to boil. Don’t put the gnocchi in just yet, though. Let the water get to a boil- about 10 minuets or so. While the water boils cut your grape tomatoes into chunks and set them aside. Once the water is at a good boil, carefully drop the gnocchi in and let it boil for about 5 more minuets. Be careful not to over boil it- Gnocchi can get mushy if it’s cooked too long.

Pull the pan off the stove and drain and cover the gnocchi. It should be slightly larger in size than it was before it was cooked and slightly softer. Gnocchi is like pasta: you want it to be soft but with a bit of firmness to it.

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Next, (using a small sauce pan) put pesto sauce in the pan and put it on the stove. Stir in the eight tablespoons of cream. Heat this mixture for about three minuets. Then add your tomato chunks. Stir them in carefully so they don’t turn into tomato mush. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Once the pesto cream tomato mixture is warm, put the gnocchi on plates and pour the pesto and tomato mixture over it. Garnish with extra tomatoes or Parmesan cheese if you like. 

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This is a great meal to take along to work, on a pick-nick or other outing where you’ll be eating. I’ve taken this to work with me many times. However, I would strongly recommend making this recipe the day you’ll need it (preferably  shortly before you leave or are ready to eat). In my experience this meal doesn’t do as well the day after it’s made and it fares horribly if you freeze it and then heat it up later. If you refrigerate it to eat the next day it can get mushy and if you freeze it, thaw and/or re-heat, it just ends up tasting horrible.  It’s a ‘day of’ kind of meal.

My Vegan-ish Adventure

My Vegan-ish Adventure: Setbacks Suck

So, every new road taken in life has set backs. As many of you may know, I’m embarking on a flexitarian, semi-vegan diet. I’m taking it in steps to enhance my chances for success. (I don’t do well with going cold turkey. Ha! Cold turkey, lol!) One of my first steps is to eliminate red meat. I’m doing pretty well so far; I haven’t had beef in a couple of months and I don’t typically touch ham, either. So I’m doing pretty well. Well, until recently. I ‘ve had my first real set back.

There’s a local restaurant I like to go to where you can get burrito bowls. There’s this counter in the store where employees put whatever you want in your bowl, burrito, or taco. They have plenty of great choices like guacamole, sour cream, peppers, onions, tomatoes, other stuff….. and meat. They give you a choice between beef, chicken, steak and pulled pork. The meat is totally optional, but it’s there. So I went in and asked for the burrito bowl. They asked if I wanted chips with it, so I said yes. Then the dreaded question: ‘what kind of meat do you want?’ Uuhhh……

I hesitated, because I knew what I wanted to say: ‘No, I don’t’. But did I say that? Nope. I believe I said ‘uuhhhh, yeah, uumm, let’s do pork.’ I should have said no meat, but since I didn’t, I paid for my poor, tortured before death, dead pig bowl and left. I should have picked the pork from my food, but I didn’t. I ate it. And it was good. I decided that this was just a mistake, and I’d forgo the meat the next time.

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I went in a week or so later, planning not to get the pork in my bowl.  I ended up getting the pork anyway. As I stood in line in front of the counter I was thinking more of the taste of the pork than my reason for giving it up.  Later, I went in again and got the same thing. This was quickly becoming a habit, and I knew I’d need to make a change if I wanted to stay on track.

One of the hardest things about making a major change in diet is giving up things that taste good in order to reach your goal. Your goal is important to you and you want so much to reach it, but the taste thing gets in the way. Taste, and the pleasure it brings is such a powerful thing.  It makes getting off track really easy. 

But today at lunch I got myself back on track. I walked into the restaurant and ordered my usual bowl. But this time when they asked me which kind of meat I wanted, I asked if I could get a vegetarian bowl instead. So I got my usual veggies and stuff without the meat. I felt so proud for passing up the pork. I even felt a bit relieved. I realized that getting the pork in previous visits (and not following my convictions) had been like a weight on my shoulders. It is an impediment to my goal, and it feels great to get past it. Now, I won’t say the bowl tasted better without the pork- it didn’t. But it was still pretty good. But what I’m really happy about was the fact that I succeeded in finally ordering a veggie bowl instead.

I’m sure this won’t be the last set back in my journey towards a new eating style, though. But overcoming one small challenge will make it easier to make more positive choices towards my eating goals as I go along. I hope it will be a bit like inertia- once you get going, you build up speed that helps you continue on. This is good because it gives me more hope for the future success of my Veagan-ish adventure.

 

Photos: Pixabay

My Vegan-ish Adventure

My Vegan-ish Adventure: One Step At A Time

In my first post on this blog I talked about my new venture into a diet with less meat and cheese. I grew up in an area where consumption of animal products was very high. I myself used to eat meat and cheese every day. That changed recently when I decided to alter my diet a bit in response to the cruelty that is used in factory farms. I’m not sure exactly how I want to alter it yet,  but right now I’m embarking on a semi-vegan diet. I am working to dramatically decrease my meat and dairy intake, but still eat a little bit, hence the ‘vegan-ish’ and ‘semi-vegan’ labels. I haven’t decided whether I want to go full vegan or vegetarian, or something different. For now, I’ve been focusing on cutting out red meat and some dairy as a first step. But today I wanted to talk about the red meat part of it.

I never used to think that I could eliminate beef and pork from my diet, but not long ago, I had the privilege of seeing what sort of progress I’ve made so far. Recently after a particularly long night at work I stopped at a Taco Bell. It was the only place open within a several mile radius, and I didn’t want to go out of my way given how tired I was and the fact that I had a long drive home. Most of Taco Bell’s offerings contain meat; well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that they are based around meat. Since I’m not completely meat free I decided that I’d allow myself some this time. Strangely, I had a craving for beef. This is pretty rare lately; what I mean by this is that since deciding to change what I eat, I haven’t had an especially big craving for red meat like beef and pork. I figured it was probably my body craving protein, so I bought a beef burrito.

After unwrapping my purchase, I hesitated to put it into my mouth. I thought about the horror that the cow my meat came from must have experienced before being slaughtered to feed me. But, I thought, I had spent my hard earned cash on it, so I’d better eat it. Here’s the funny thing: I hated it. The ground beef tasted AWFUL! I even had difficulty finishing it. But instead of sadness, this brought me joy! I always used to love ground beef, and had never hated it-until now. Had I gotten to the point where I was ready to give up some meat? Could I say that I actually disliked it? If so, this would be a big step!

I tested my theory a couple of weeks later when I picked up a sample of a burger at the grocery store I work at. I used to love hamburgers, too, but this time, just like with the burrito, I couldn’t eat it. The taste was so terrible I couldn’t stand it and threw what was left out. My stomach even churned a tad in protest. (sorry to include that disgusting detail; hope it wasn’t too gross.) I figured that perhaps I’d been right, I was ready to give up some meat. Granted it’s not all meat, but it’s a step forward.

So I can now proudly say that I have totally given up ground beef! I haven’t had it since the instances I described, and don’t want it anymore. The only burgers I eat now are veggie burgers! I’m doing pretty well on other types of red meat, too but still eat it (red meat) from time to time. But I’m confident that I can eventually take the step of giving up ALL red meat completely. Now I realize that giving up meat, something I used to think impossible is completely doable- one step at a time.

 

Photo: Free Images/Kaliyoda

 

My Vegan-ish Adventure

My Vegan-ish Adventure Pt.1

I’ve recently begun to reduce my meat and dairy intake.  It’s not for health reasons, it’s because I hate the cruelty of the meat and dairy industry and don’t want to support it. It’s often referred to ‘ethical eating’ if it’s done in support of animal rights. This means giving up the foods that I’ve eaten a lot of my whole life.

I was born and raised in the mid west where meat and dairy are staples of the average person’s diet. Well, acctually, that’s not exactly true, meat and dairy are MAJOR parts of the diet out there. I grew up eating one or both in literally every meal and loved them. It was just normal and I didn’t give it a second thought.

My knowledge of ethical eating was pretty limited for awhile. I was familiar with vegetarianism and it’s rejection of meat products, but that was about all I knew. It just wasn’t well represented in society or spoken of in the media. My only example of someone who doesn’t eat meat was the character of Pheobe on the tv show “FRIENDS”. I didn’t even know that veganism existed till 2007.  Regardless, I thought both were unnecessary.

Last year things changed when I began following a veganism advocate on Twitter who shares information on the animal product industry. It finally opened my eyes to the cruelty of the foods I loved so much and disgusted me enough to make me want to stop; I couldn’t keep eating meat and dairy as much anymore.

So how the heck was I supposed to stop eating something I had eaten my whole life and grown so accustomed to? How the heck was I supposed to build a diet without meat, fish and dairy? No burgers, no chicken breasts smothered with cheese and topped with chorizo sausage (one of my former favorite foods), No milk!? How was this even doable!? Was I going to be relegated to salads, fruits and vegetables? What was I even going to eat?

Luckily I heard about a movement called Meatless Monday that is designed to encourage people to try meatless meals. It seemed easy enough. Just one day a week without meat. My first Meatless Monday was a little bumpy. Breakfast went off without a hitch; cereal and milk. Nothing out of the ordinary. For lunch I stopped by this little Asian food place and got their vegetable and tofu meal. It was pretty good. For dinner I went with the fall back food salad, fruit and bread. It was a good start.

After that first day I began researching different food options to find some variety, brands and ideas. I also got to planning for the next Monday. I figured that if I planned well enough I’d be more successful.  The next Monday I had cereal again, falafel and   went a little better and the next one wasn’t bad either. Now I’m doing pretty well with Meatless Monday’s. I still eat a bit of meat during the rest of the week, but I’m completely meatless on Mondays, and it’s no trouble at all. I figured I’d never be able to go a day without meat, and here I am doing just that. My eventual goal is to go completely vegan on Monday’s. And once I master this I’m planning to adopt a semi-vegetarian/vegan diet. Maybe I’ll only eat meat rarely and heavily decrease my dairy.

These are just my first steps into more ethical eating, and I can see myself taking more steps into a more animal friendly diet. For now I love that I’m making a difference for animals and look forward to trying new foods and a new diet.