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cold weather means hot food- let’s do this

September 16, 2011

I like fall weather, but I LOVE fall food.  Squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, yum!  I also love hot food.  I could never be a raw foodist or whatever they are called, I just love my food to be nice and hot too much.  My husband is looking to try a raw food diet when he comes home, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to join him with it (especially because any change in diet results in him losing a ton of weight and getting in amazing shape while I stay… exactly the same.  Even with running 5 times a week.  And it gets annoying.)

Anyway, my favorite  hot food is definitely grilled cheese.  You would think that going vegan would hamper that, but it doesn’t have to! It turns out my favorite part of a grilled cheese was the hot toasty-ness of it all, so I’ve been going nuts inventing delicious grilled sandwiches.  The one pictured above was inspired by a sandwich my cousin had told me about a couple of years ago.

I took two slices of whole wheat bread, sprayed each side with a tiny bit of Olive Oil in a can (I know, it’s like getting garlic in a jar, but it’s so easy and convenient, and makes it easy to not use way too much oil).  I spread one slice with hummus, then layered on very thinly sliced apple, thinly sliced sweet potato (I microwaved the sweet potato for about 3 minutes first so it would be cooked, but still a tiny bit hard), a whole lot of raw spinach, and then a sprinkle of Daiya cheddar “cheese” (which wasn’t necessary, so if you’re anti-fake cheese, just skip it).  I grilled it over medium-low heat in a cast iron with a lid on it, to help heat the sandwich all the way through.  And the results are above!  So wonderful.  Other additions that are tasty: red onion, red pepper, steamed kale or chard, sunflower seeds, pepperjack Daiya, or tomatoes.

I also really like hot salads, with cold lettuce.

Sounds weird, I know, but something about the juxtaposition is just so perfect to me.  Last night I roasted some butternut squash cubes, purple potatoes, and carrots in the oven and then threw them on some romaine with a garlic vinaigrette.  The salad above is my beyond favorite treat: a BLT salad.  I use Smartlife fake bacon baked in in my toaster oven, and then add fresh tomato, romaine lettuce, mushrooms (or cucumbers or carrots, whatever other veggies are in the house) and top it all with homemade vegan ranch.

This is really simple to make and tastes fabulous.  You put in equal parts non-dairy buttermilk (1t vinegar to 1/2 cup non dairy milk) and vegan mayonnaise (Mark Bittman has a really good recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, or you can buy it in bigger grocery stores) then season it all with A LOT of ground black pepper, garlic if you like, and chopped chives.

So that’s hot lunches, but what about hot breakfast!

Here’s our pan of Baked Oatmeal Squares, halfway through being devoured.  I got the recipe from my favorite new cookbook, Peas and Thank You.  Luckily, she also has amazing recipes on her blog, and this is one of them!

Does it get better than an entirely pink breakfast?  I think not.

BL agrees.  Her little top is part of a set of jammies I made her, and it was so simple, I’ll definitely need to do a post about it.

Now for one more hot meal: Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

I usually make this with soy fake meat, but I’m trying to keep my processed fake meat consumption to 3 times a week (I could never cut it out entirely, yes it’s processed, but sometimes I need something quick) so I made this with seasoned lentils.  I’m sure there are better ways I could have done this, but here is what I came up with:

Here’s what you need:

about 1/2 cup dry lentils, cooked until done

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 a small onion, diced

1 ear of corn chopped off the cob (or about 1/2 cup frozen?)

2 cloves garlic

1T paprika, or ground red chiles, or a combo

1/2 t ground corriander

dash of cloves

1/4 t cumin

2 small golden potatoes, and 1 white sweet potato cooked and prepared into mashed potatoes with veggie broth

Here’s what you do:

When your lentils are almost done cooking, start heating a small amount of olive in a cast iron skillet, and preheat your oven to 350.

Add the onion and garlic and brown for a minute or two, then add the carrots and corn (and any other veggies you’ve decided to add) for a couple of minutes more.

Next add the cooked lentils and the spices (add veggie broth or olive oil as necessary to get a consistency you like).  Stir until the seasonings are distributed.

Spread the prepared mashed potatoes on top, and pop into the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle some vegan cheese on top in the last 7 minutes if you’d like (I did this mainly for looks)

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