Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Black Bean Polenta Bake and more good stuff.

So we went back to work today. I guess the summer can't last forever. Oh well.  It's a busy week and then there's a quick trip to Atlanta.  I'm not sure how I'm going to fit in my workout schedule with this work schedule. It's more difficult because I can't really exercise before I play (I'm a musician, if you didn't know) because it makes me very that kind of eliminates workouts/walking before a rehearsal or a concert.  So when??  I can definitely workout on days when we only rehearse in the morning...which is usually at least once per week.  And then on the day off I can do it.....ok that's 2 days.  Hmmm.....I guess it'll just vary from week to week.

No farmer's market this week...

Now for that recipe.

Black Bean Polenta Bake:

3 cups cooked black beans
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 1/2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup pureed/strained tomatoes
1 cup cornmeal
3 1/2 cups water
garlic, onion powder, chili powder, creole seasoning, cloves, black pepper, salt

Place the black beans in a bowl and mash them up pretty well.  They can be a little chunky. Mix in some chili powder, onion powder, cloves (1/2 tsp), black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.  Mix well. Set aside.

Place 2 1/2 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil.  Place the dry cornmeal in a small bowl and add in some creole seasoning.  Add the rest of the water (1 cup) to the dry cornmeal and stir.  When the pot of water is boiling, turn it down to low and slowly stir in the cornmeal.  Stir constantly for about 3-5 minutes. It will thicken up.  Then turn it off and cover. 

Put the chopped veggies in a large bowl and add the pureed tomatoes to them, along with some garlic & onion powder, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix well.

Spray a large casserole dish/pan with oil.  Layer the black bean mash on the bottom...use it all.  Spread it out evenly.  On top of that, layer the veggies.  Finish by adding the cooked polenta to the top.  It won't be totally flat on top or anything, but that's ok.  Do your best to cover all the veggies.  (Optional: add some vegan cheese on top of the polenta.)

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, then turn the oven UP to 400 and bake another 20 minutes.

I guess that's it for today's post.  It's still hot....where's Fall?? Don't forget to see the cool stuff I got in the care package swap!

And PLEASE please please give me suggestions here for good raw/vegan restaurants in Atlanta and Manhattan.  I'm so surprised nobody's given me any.....with so many bloggers in NYC! Times running out!

Kristen over at Kristen's Raw is giving away a whole set of her eBooks!! Check it out.
The Vegster has an awesome CSN Stores giveaway too!

Eat smart,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Care Package Swap!!

The other day I got the most amazing package in the mail! Yup, it was from Lindsay over at Cook.Vegan.Lover.  She hosted a care package swap and I signed right up.  This was my first one ever and I'll totally do it again...who wants to host the next one? I was so excited that my partner ended up being the host :) At first I was a bit overwhelmed and will I ever impress her? My town isn't very vegan friendly.....what am I going to do?  But I figured something out and sent it over.

My awesome package from Lindsay:

This package had the coolest stuff ever. Especially awesome, was Lindsay's own totebag (see picture).  I LOVE totebags and I look forward to using this one a ton.  Also in the box was a big long list of what veggies/grains/legumes have what vitamins and minerals needed, looks like it belongs on a classroom wall and I'm gonna put it up on my wall near the kitchen to have easy access.  There were tons of delicious looking snacks, including my favorite Mary's Crackers and Sticks & Twigs. I'd never tried the Sea Salt flavor but they're really good (yes, I've already eaten some of the snacks.....hahaha!!).  The MultiSeed Crackers are excellent too, made from brown rice flour.  And then there was this stuff called SeaSnax...looks like nori sheets (but with a little oil and salt) and I totally can't wait to try them. Here's to low calorie and delicious snack food :) Then of course there was some Blue Diamond Almond Butter.....seems as though all vegans it almond butter, me included, and one can never have too much of the stuff....keep it comin'!

There was also this stuff called Salba....I'd seen it before but never bought it.  I looked it up...and you know what?? It's chia seeds!!!  Yay....that's good stuff and now I'll have to make all those chia recipes I've seen on all the blogs.

And last but not least....there were two bags of Japanese Kombu meals. Apparently you just add veggies and cook it up.  What's healthier than seaweed? These will definitely come in handy when I go back to work in TWO DAYS!!! Good for a quick and easy dinners :)

So again, thank you so much, Lindsay! Not just for hosting this care package swap, but for sending me the coolest stuff on earth :)

Coming up: Black Bean Polenta bake recipe and more of what I've been eating.

Eat smart,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Post Birthday Post

So yesterday was my birthday!  Ok, it wasn't really all that in some good walking and a good workout session.  Made myself a cake and we went out to Houston's for lunch.  I got the veggie burger sans bun and sans cheese.  It's REALLY good!  And I got a side of wilted spinach sans oil and cheese....topped my burger with it.  Good stuff! Unfortunately, they don't offer soymilk for coffee or any vegan dessert, so I had to wait until I made my cake :)

It's the Simplest Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting from Sweet Utopia.  You can see my review of the book here. The cake was really good. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and I cut down the oil to 1/3 cup instead of 1/2 cup.  I also used almond milk instead of soymilk.  It was a tad dry, but still very chocolatey and tasty!  I added some coffee to the frosting for a mocha flavor, since I always have some sort of coffee frosting on my birthday cake.  Didn't have raspberry jam to put in the middle this time, so I just used the frosting, which was barely enough!

After dinner, I opened up the fridge and found a birthday card under my cake, along with some birthday beer from S.  Thank you :)

Saturday's market: brown rice, shiitake mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, turnips, mustard greens, tomatoes, sprouts, arugula/mizuna mix, peaches, eggplants, jalapenos, okra, and sweet potatoes.

I thought I'd get in an order from Pangea as well, before work starts (in a week!), so I'd be here when UPS arrived.  Here are the goods:
(Primal Strips, Liz Lovely Cookies, Sweet and Sara mini marshmallows, Dr Cow cheese (incl. the new KALE flavor!), Teese (gotta make some calzones), MimicCreme, and the new Dr McDougall's Asian entrees.)

We'll be in Atlanta soon.....and I'm hoping to stop into Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe just north of Atlanta!  If you guys have suggestions for vegan/raw places to eat......let me know and post them on that post please.

And if you have NYC suggestions, please post them there too......I'm surprised nobody's posted anything yet! I know a lot of you have been to NYC and have places you love to eat. But please don't post them here. I want them all in one place, so I know where to find it.

Other stuff I've been eating:

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili:

Raw zucchini noodles with "peanut" sauce:

French Fries (cut up potatoes, put on parchment paper-no oil, sprinkle with Creole Seasoning or other favorite seasoning, put in oven for 25 minutes, turn over, bake for another 15 minutes-on 400 degrees):

More recipes coming soon: Black Bean Polenta Bake and Black Bean Dip (yes, I cooked a ton of black beans).

Upcoming post: special vegan care package swap post!!

Eat smart,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Winner of "Get Healthy, Go Vegan"!!

Thanks to those that entered my bloggiversary giveaway of Neil Barnard's "The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook".

And the winner is........

Jessica from Dairy Free Betty! Congratulations :)  

Wow, that was a short post.  Wednesday is my birthday.  Maybe I'll have a birthday post for you!  I still have to figure out what kind of chocolate cake I'm going to make myself.  

AND.....I got my awesome care package today from my care package swap partner.....I'll post about it soon! 

Eat smart,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Your favorites in Atlanta, GA and NYC

So this will be a quick post. I guess it's more of a poll than a post.  I was going to make a "page" out of it instead of a normal post, but I guess you can't comment on the pages, so nevermind that!

A Tale of Two Cities..........Atlanta, GA and NYC.  What are your favorite vegan/raw eateries in these cities? And perhaps vegan dessert/bake shops too.  My husband hates Chinese food, so please leave those out :)

I have compiled a list for NYC(Manhattan only) and please let me know if you would or would NOT recommend any of these, and of course, let me know if I missed any.

Peacefood Cafe
Zen Palate
Lula's Sweet Apothecary
Dirt Candy
Candle Cafe
Angelica's Kitchen
Sacred Chow
Caravan of Dreams
One Lucky Duck (Pure Food/Wine WAY too expensive)
FreeFoods Cafe
Loving Hut
Whole Earth Bakery & Kitchen
Westerly Natural Market
Chennai Garden
Atlas Cafe


Cafe Sunflower
TAP GastroPub (not all veg.)
Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe (Marietta, GA)

I'm also interested in local beer, so please do tell me your favorites in that category as well :) Beers and/or local bars with great taps! Oh, and of course, great places to get a vegan bagel & cream cheese!

PLEASE contribute....your help is greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: Just got back from Atlanta, so you don't have to give me suggestions for there. But I still need NYC suggestions!

Eat smart,

Butternut Squash "Risotto" and Tortilla Pizzas!

Boy do I feel lazy.  Haven't felt like posting a whole lot.  But I keep taking pictures of the stuff I make....and they pile up!  So here we are...lots of pictures ahead.

But first, don't forget to enter my Bloggiversary Giveaway! Win Dr. Neal Barnard's "The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook". Click here to enter.

Farmer's market purchases: tomatoes, turnips (with greens), mustard greens, brown rice, limes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, okra, peaches, white button mushrooms, and fresh basil.

I made some Butternut Squash Barley "Risotto" the other day. It was really good and so here's the recipe:

Butternut Squash Barley "Risotto":

1 cup hulled barley (you can use pearled, but the cooking time will be shorter)
3 cups water/vegetable broth
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 cup almond milk, unsweetened
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp sage
1 tbsp curry powder

Steam the cubed squash for about 30-45 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.

On medium heat, saute the onion & garlic in a little water until translucent.  Add wine and cook ~5 minutes.  Add the barley & water/broth. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 1-1 1/4 hours until the barley is mostly soft (still chewy).  

Mash up the steamed squash with: almond milk, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, sage, curry & nutmeg. When almost all the water is absorbed by the barley (there can still be some left, it will make it creamier), add the mashed squash & tomatoes, and mix well.  Add 2 tbsp more nutritional yeast and salt/pepper to taste. Cook another 5 minutes.

Yesterday, we wanted pizza and I wanted to use up these awesome sprouted grain tortillas we had (you should freeze them if you're not going to use them within a couple of days):

So I laid out 2 tortillas on parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread some of my tomato sauce on it (pureed tomatoes, minced garlic, onion powder, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes), followed by sliced peppers, mushrooms, onions and fresh basil & chard. I sprinkled on some Daiya mozzarella shreds and topped with a little more sauce.  Put them in the oven for about 10 minutes on 375 or so.  They do get a bit soggy in the middle, whereas the outer edges are VERY crispy.  You could try spraying the bottom of the tortillas with oil before you put it on the parchment paper (I didn't).  They were pretty darn good!

Next up, a Tafajito:

Thinly slice up red & green bell peppers and onions.  Saute the onions in a pan on medium heat with a little water.  Let the water run out and continue dry-frying them.  They will start to burn. Keep mixing them every few seconds while they burn.  After doing this for a minute or two, add in a little water.  It will sizzle, so WATCH OUT!  Then add the peppers.  Do the same thing....let the water run out, dry fry them. Let them burn. As you mix, add in some cumin powder/seeds, coriander powder, chili powder, black pepper, and salt.   Finally, add in a little water and let sizzle again.  Turn off the heat.

Lay out 2 sprouted grain tortillas.  Spread guacamole on them. Then, spread on some of Ani Phyo's "Taco Nut Meat" (awesome stuff!), then the veggies.  Wrap how you want...taco style, burrito style, fajita's up to you!

Then I tried to make Ani's Basic Flax Crackers from Ani's Raw Food Essentials.  I think they were way too thick...I should've spread them on 2 baking sheets.  They never really crisped up except for a few edge pieces.  I baked them on 300 degrees for at least 45 minutes per side. Still good though.  I added garlic powder & onion powder. Note to self: buy Excalibur Dehydrator, when I can afford it and have space!

Since I still had plenty of butternut squash, I decided to make the Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup with Chard from Robin Robertson's "1,000 Vegan Recipes". Delicious!! I left out the oil and used pureed tomatoes from a jar, instead of the crushed.

Other stuff I've been eating:

My black bean burgers with BBQ sauce and a side of my mashed potatoes(mash up some cooked potatoes, add a little almond milk, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, nutritional yeast, and Creole Seasoning)

I tried a Gardein product for the first time and it was really tasty. I try not to eat/buy too much in the way of pre-packaged foods, but I had a coupon and finally broke down and went to Whole Foods:

I bought up a bunch of bulk items: oat groats, buckwheat groats, raw sunflower seeds, raw cashews, and sweet brown rice:

Also got some essential seeds: flax and hemp (plus my favorite falafel chips!)

Ok, I think that's quite enough for now, don't you? Tired of looking at millions of photos yet?

Another giveaway: Chocolate Covered Katie is giving away a TON of Larabars!!

Eat smart,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bloggiversary GIVEAWAY!! [CLOSED]

Ok folks. The moment you've all been waiting for....well, ok, at least one or two of you :)

My one-year blogging giveaway special!

I'm giving away......

Yup, Neal Barnard's latest book: "The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook"!!

A month or two ago, I was lucky enough to win this book from VegieGail on her blog here. (she's got a great description of the book there) She's amazing and her blog, The Hungry Vegan, is equally amazing.....go check her out, if you haven't done so already.  The thing is, I forgot I had entered her giveaway and bought myself this very same book the day before I won! I offered her to give it to someone else, etc.....but she kindly said she'd send it anyway and allowed me to do a giveaway of this book (thanks to VEGIEGAIL!!).  So thank you, Gail :)

Mandatory Entry:

1. Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect (you'll see it on the right hand side) and leave a comment here telling me you did.

Extra Entries:

2. Follow me on Twitter  and leave a comment here telling me you did, along with your Twitter ID.
3. Tweet about this giveaway (mentioning @TanyaTheViolist) and leave a comment here with the link.
4. Follow me on Facebook, leave a comment THERE saying you'd like to be entered and then leave a comment here telling me you did.
5. Post a link to this giveaway on your blog and leave a comment here with the link.
6. Add me to your blogroll, with a link to your site.

Leave your email in your comments, if it's not public!
Contest is only open to US residents (sorry!).

Good luck!

Eat smart,

Happy Bloggiversary to me!

So today is my one year bloggiversary! And I know I've been lagging in the posting department the past couple of weeks.  I hope to rectify that soon.  Today I have a post of a ton of stuff I've been eating.  I will do a second post with a special GIVEAWAY!! Yup, look for's a good one!

Let's start with last week's farmer's market: icebox melon, butternut squash, okra, shiitake mushrooms, sprouts, tarragon, peaches, tomatoes, limes, mustard greens, asian pears, and cucumbers.

Look, some of my indoor grown swiss chard:

Two weeks ago at the market (Hollygrove), someone had made some Caponata for us to try. It was delicious!  Whoever you are, thank you for the recipe.  I made it:

I served it atop some sprouted grain bread with my swiss chard on it:

Here is the recipe (& my changes):

Open-face Sandwiches with Caponata & Herb Goat Cheese

Chop up 3 small eggplant (I used 2 medium), 4 stalks celery, 1 red onion (I used yellow), 5 baby bell peppers (I used 1-2 regular), 5 cloves garlic, and saute in olive oil (I used water) in a large saucepan.  When almost cooked through, add 2 diced creole tomatoes & simmer, covered til all is cooked through (but not mushy). Add 1/2 cup sliced black olives (I omitted...I hate olives), season with salt & pepper, cayenne (I used Creole seasoning), marjoram (left out, didn't have it), oregano, red wine vinegar & basil to taste. Add chopped herbs like parsley, basil & chives to the goat cheese (I didn't use cheese, obviously) & mix well. Slice up your favorite bread, top with caponata & add the goat cheese and some greens, like arugula & spinach.  

It was really good and quite simple to make!

Then I tried to make Mama Pea's Peanut Butter Cup Shake (like a Dairy Queen Blizzard).  Mine didn't come out quite like hers.  I did replace the coconut milk with vanilla almond milk.  It was way too icy, but still good.  The peanut butter cups were awesome! ( I used Sunbutter in mine).  Maybe next time I'll try coconut milk...

I made my stuffed mushrooms again, but slightly different (always depends what's in the fridge). These were local baby portobellas, stuffed with some cooked brown rice, mixed with tomatoes, creole seasoning, some chopped walnuts, chopped celery, & various herbs (basil, parsley).

Made some Red Wine Lentil Soup from an old Parade magazine (sept 10, 2006). It's so good! And I added more veggies, of course and left out the butter. And used veggie broth instead of chicken.

Also toasted up a sprouted grain tortilla in my little toaster oven. Put it in there on about 300 degrees for 20 minutes or so, flipping it once in the middle.  Then I tore it up so I could dip them!

Sour cream & onion dip:

1/2 cup vegan sour cream
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried chives
salt & pepper to taste

Stir all together.  You can double the recipe to make more.

Made that Raw Sunflower Seed Falafel again, but served it as mock "tuna" on top of slices of tomato and swiss chard:

Then we had guests over the next day and I served it in cucumber tubs:

After the cucumber tubs, I served my Teriyaki Udon noodles but with more vegetables.

Then a version today with no noodles! Just vegetable Teriyaki:

I think I've finally come to the end of this post.  Phew! That was a lot of pictures.

Stay tuned for the upcoming GIVEAWAY post....TODAY!!!

Eat smart,


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