A Complete Failure

What worked well last week in your meal planning?  Be sure to make time to incorporate that again this week and don’t beat yourself up if the plan wasn’t implemented as well as you would have liked.  Significant dietary modifications are like an ultra marathon – forward progress is still progress, even if it only feels like baby steps.

I was traveling again this week, so meal prep (not just planning) was essential.  I cut myself some slack and built in one night for the family to eat out while I was gone.  Although this did not save time or money, the kids enjoyed the treat, and the hubby appreciated one less night of solo kitchen duty.  I also had one recipe near-failure and another new recipe that I’m excited about that’s not quite ready for prime time (and keep in mind, I’m not holding myself to high standards for prime time).  So it will get another tweak or two before sharing.  A near-failure is when the recipe is not quite right, but the family eats it anyway.  Whether it tastes okay or they’re just scared to complain, it’s hard to know.

I think we’ve only had 3 complete failures in recent years, with a complete failure being a meal that cannot be salvaged in any way.  Only 1 of the 3 is remembered by the family, and they remind me of it regularly.  In the early smoothie days when we were still working out the basic smoothie recipes, I was experimenting with different ways to add protein to the smoothie without using whey (a milk derivative), non-dairy yogurt (pricey), or vegan protein powders (downright expensive).  One of the proteins I tried was chickpeas.  This is where theory and reality diverge as pea powder is a common ingredient in vegan protein powders.  However, some brands of canned chickpeas have a definite tuna-like smell when you first open the can.  I should have known with the first waft that no amount of fruit and greens would cover up that smell, but I forged on, determined to inexpensively bulk up our smoothies.

It was gross.  I tried to finish my glass just to prove that it wasn’t THAT bad, but I couldn’t.  The smell was just too bitter_potionmuch.  And once you start thinking about tuna smoothies, it’s really hard to stop thinking about tuna smoothies.

So whenever my family chides me about the chickpea smoothie, I think of the hundreds of plant based recipes that we’ve tried over the last 6 years, and I remember that there have been way more successes than failures.  The biggest success has been the evolution my family has taken to entirely plant based, and that’s what I’m most proud of.  It hasn’t been easy, but almost nothing worthwhile is.

The next time you make a complete failure recipe, remind yourself of all the successes along the way.  Til then, maybe some of the meals we enjoyed this week will inspire you–

Three Bean Salad

~ 6 cups or 3-4 cans of beans, rinsed and drained (I used black beans, white beans, and chickpeas this time)

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1-2 avocados, peeled and diced

1/4 c cilantro, leaves torn into bits

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

2 T sugar

1.5 t salt

1 t freshly ground pepper

Whisk the apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper together in a medium bowl with a lid.  If you have an over ripe avocado, stir it into the vinegar mixture to make the dressing creamy.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to mix.  Serve immediately or allow flavors to develop while refrigerated.

Sloppy Lennys adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen

Serves 6

1 c uncooked lentils

4 c water

1 yellow onion, diced small

3/4 c frozen stoplight peppers (or fresh equivalent), diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T chili powder

2 t oregano

1 t salt

8 oz tomato sauce

6 oz tomato paste

3 T maple syrup

1 T yellow mustard

In a saucepan, bring the lentils in the water to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Drain the lentils.

While the lentils are cooking, saute the onion and peppers in a little water in a cast iron pan until softened.  Add the garlic and more water as needed to prevent sticking.  Once the garlic has lightly browned, add the chili powder, oregano, salt, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and the cooked lentils.  Stir well and cook over low heat for ~10 min.  Add the maple syrup and yellow mustard (Isa’s ingenious additions) and stir to incorporate.  Remove from heat and if time permits, allow dish to sit, covered, to allow flavors to fruther develop.

Serve over brown rice or in whole grain buns.

Pineapple “Fried” Rice

Serves 6

3 c cooked brown rice

4 c vegetables, chopped (I used stoplight peppers, onions, broccoli, and mixed peas and carrots)

3/4 c diced fresh pineapple

3 T tamari or low sodium soy sauce

1 heaping T minced garlic

1 T minced ginger

1/2 t red pepper flakes, optional

This recipe comes together very quickly, especially if the rice is fresh from the rice cooker.  In a wok or pan, sautee the ginger and garlic in water or pineapple juice, add the chopped vegetables and sautee until veggies are desired texture.  Add the rice, soy sauce, and pineapple.  Continue to cook and stir until heated through.

If the cooked rice is cold from refrigeration, cover the wok or pan and add a few tablespoons of water if needed to soften the rice by steaming.

Fickin Noodle Soup

Serves 4

3/4 c diced chicken substitute (affectionately referred to as “fickin” in my house, as in fake chicken) or white beans (or both)

2 quarts Imagine No Chicken Broth

8 oz whole grain spaghetti, broken into smaller pieces and cooked

1 c diced veggies (I used peas, carrots, celery, and onions)

Add all the ingredients to a soup pot, cover, and heat through.  It is also easy to do Make Your Own soup night where each person puts their ingredients in a bowl or mug and adds hot broth to each serving.  Easy dinner in less than 15 minutes!



Picture Credit:

A Bitter Potion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adriaen_Brouwer_004.jpg