Veggie Breakfast Tacos

It’s lettuce week here at Our Chaotic Kitchen, thanks to the four heads of iceberg lettuce that came in our Hungry Harvest, so everything this week has been healthy lettuce wraps. We’ve been trying to do a reset on our diet and use tons of vegetables after getting off course a little, so these breakfast tacos are chock full of healthy vegetable goodness. I know we keep saying it, but these are surprisingly good! A dash of salt, a sprinkle of hot sauce, and you’ll be wearing a chef’s hat and gently kissing your fingertips, they’re so good.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 peppers, diced (we used Anaheim, but bell or jalapeño would work too)

1 package grape tomatoes, quartered

1 zucchini, sliced

1/2 package tofu, crumbled

1 15-oz can beans of your choice

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Salt to taste

Iceberg lettuce leaves

Directions:

Heat oil on medium high heat. Once hot, add peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Sauté about 5 minutes, then add tofu. Sauté another 5 minutes, then add beans, nutritional yeast, and salt. Sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Serve immediately with lettuce wraps, or transfer to fridge and eat it when you damn well please.

Vegan Nacho Cheese Stuffed Peppers

We’ve come to absolutely love vegan nacho cheese. We love making vegan nachos, vegan chilaquiles, all sorts of stuff. It doesn’t taste precisely like cheese, but it’s a wonderful healthy thing on its own and we want to share the recipe with you. Here we’ve used it to bind together a stuffed pepper filling, and friends, it’s as healthy as it is delicious. Here goes!

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 15-oz can beans
1 large zucchini, grated
1 cup raw cashews, soaked
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 chipotle
Salt to taste
Red bell peppers (how many you need depends on their size.
Tortilla chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350º F.In a medium bowl, mix the rice, beans, and zucchini. Meanwhile, put the cashews, nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, chipotle, and salt in a blender. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth. This is the “nacho cheese.” When it is done, mix it in with the rice mixture.

Cut the tops off of as many bell peppers as you’ll need to hold all of the rice filling. Place the peppers in a baking dish with about an inch of water around the bottom of the peppers. Crumble tortilla chips over the tops of the peppers and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and reheat as needed throughout the week.

No waste curry

We all know that parenting can add stresses to our lives. That’s why we like to develop strategies for making it as easy as possible to pack healthy vegan lunches for weekdays. The easier it is to grab an already prepped lunch, the less temptation we have to go out with office mates for what will inevitably be an unhealthy, unsatisfying lunch. If we have healthy, delicious meals ready to go in the fridge, we’ve got no excuse!

The key to this waste free healthy vegan curry recipe is to prep all your ingredients first and save all the scraps and peels from those veggies! It made us six jars, which gives us both lunch for three days. It’s super tasty , super healthy, and surprisingly easy!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 large carrots, chopped

2 medium sweet potatoes, diced

2 large red peppers, diced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 package mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 cup red lentils

1 15-oz can coconut milk

Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil in a medium sized pot. In another pot put all the scraps and peels and cover with water (4-6 cups) and bring to a boil. Sauté veggies in the coconut oil and once lightly browned sprinkle with curry powder. Ladle the stock into the veggies until they’re covered by an inch or so (if there’s extra stock, reserve for another use, if there’s not enough, add extra water). Add the lentils and cook until they’re cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and heat until bubbling. Add salt to taste. Serve with rice. 

Losing Weight While Having Kids

We’ve heard a lot from parents who have packed on some extra pounds after having kids. We were both determined not to fall into that trap, and not to let having kids be an excuse to not be healthy. And you know what? It’s worked! Let me go through a few of the things we’ve done to manage our much busier lives in a smarter, healthier way. Note: This certainly is not to say that losing weight is the only, or even the primary component to being healthy. It’s one of the things we needed to do for ourselves, but please consult your doctor before attempting any kind of methodical weight loss program.

One of the tools we use is the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale. It automatically syncs weight and body fat percentage to the Fitbit app, so we can have a real-time record of our progress. Some people definitely don’t do well with daily weigh-ins, since weight can fluctuate in the short term, and those fluctuations can get discouraging. For both of us, though, there’s something very rewarding in looking at a graph charting our weight over the course of 3+ years and seeing a fairly steady decline (pregnancies excepted, of course, for both mom and dad). More than just keeping track of our weight, looking critically at this data helps us see patterns we might otherwise not be aware of. Does our weight tend to go up around a certain time of the week? A certain time of the year? What can we do to combat that?

Above is Tim’s weight for the last 4 years or so, with the birth of each child noted. It’s easy to see the weight gain during each pregnancy as well as the weight loss after each birth.

So how did we do it? We lost some weight after each child was born, but as you can see above, we really kicked into high gear over the last 8 months. The answer is 90% healthy diet, 10% exercise. When we say healthy diet, we mean four things:

1 Portion control
2 No added sugar
3 No dairy, with small exceptions
4 Tons of vegetables

Let’s take these one at a time. First, portion control. One way to eat healthy is just to eat less, as long as you’re still getting what your body needs, but it’s way easier than anybody realizes to just eat a whole lot of food in a sitting. We’ve been combating this by planning meals pretty rigorously, and by not keeping snacks around, especially at work. If you know you’re a person who can’t have a big barrel of hard pretzels from Target sitting on your desk without eating the whole thing in an embarrassingly short time, then maybe just don’t get the big barrel of hard pretzels from Target in the first place, to use a totally random example that’s not at all derived from real life.

Second, no added sugar. We’re not religious about this particular rule, but as a healthy guiding principle it’s served us well. A lot of stuff is really delicious without making it sweeter than it needs to be. One side effect of lowering the amount of sugar we put in stuff is that we tend to want less sugar in stuff. The habit of not eating so much sugar is affecting our tastes so that we don’t actually want as much sugar. There’s a part of us that’s a little sad that a donut doesn’t taste as good as it used to, but on the other hand, if that means we eat fewer donuts, then it’s a win.

Third, little to no dairy. When Vivi was little we thought she had a lactose intolerance, so we cut dairy out of our diets (it was easier to just not have it in the house at all, rather than just have one or two of us cut it out). We learned to take our coffee black. Once we found out that Vivi didn’t have lactose intolerance, we had gotten used to a scaled down reliance on dairy, and it’s helped us like crazy. There was a whole lot of less healthy fat we were getting through cream, butter, milk, and cheese, and which we generally don’t miss. We’ll still allow ourselves some indulgences now and then, like a small latte or some feta crumbles on a salad, but this is another one which, once we cut it out, we’ve been shocked by how little we’ve missed it. We eat mostly vegan now, and no longer relying on dairy has really opened us up to a lot of different techniques and ingredients that we never would have considered before.

Fourth, tons of vegetables. This one mostly speaks for itself, but I want to emphasize one thing: even if you think you don’t like some vegetables, give them another try. Cook them a different way. See if you can figure out a way to love them. We used to loathe broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, until we discovered the heathy, life-changing magic of roasting. Now when one of those comes in our Hungry Harvest, we practically jump for joy. We could eat crispy brussels sprouts and cauliflower tacos all damn day.

There are a couple of other little things we do around the edges. We’re vegetarian, which we feel helps us, but isn’t necessarily for everybody. We still have eggs and fish occasionally, but by and large our diet is plant-based and mostly vegan. We try generally to stay away from gluten, not because there’s anything wrong with gluten for us, but because foods with gluten tend to be more calorie dense, so it’s a bit easier for us to have a blanket rule.

Is there anything you’ve done to successfully lose weight since having kids? Let us know!

Inside Out Falafel Wraps

We, like all right-thinking people in this world, love falafel. But we don’t always have time to make it. One workaround we’ve found is to make falafel-spiced patties with chickpea flour. They’re like tiny healthy savory pancakes. They’re not as crunchy, but they’re an 85% solution when we’re craving falafel and don’t have the time or energy to fill a pot with oil and deep fry some (and spatter the stove, and ourselves, with hot oil).

Having used that trick a number of times, we decided to branch out. Since we could make chickpea pancakes, more or less, could we make something closer to chickpea crepes? Could we make ourselves a wrap with falafel toppings on the inside, with a falafel-tasting chickpea crepe holding it all together?

The answer, as it turns out, was an emphatic yes, though it took us a couple of tries to get it just right. So now, without any further ado, we present our brand new vegan, gluten free Inside Out Falafel Wraps!

Ingredients:

Chickpea crepes:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups water
Large handful of parsley, finely chopped
1 Tsp cumin
1/2 Tsp ras al hanout
1/2 Tsp salt (or to taste)
Juice of one half lemon

Tahini sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of one lemon
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp salt (or to taste)
Water as needed

Filling:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Cucumbers, sliced

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Pour a thin layer of the chickpea batter into the pan and let cook until set. Carefully flip it over and cook until done on both sides. The amounts given above made us 5 chickpea crepes.

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt until combined. This will be very thick. Slowly add water, whisking continuously, until the desired consistency is reached. We wanted ours to be thick and spreadable. Spread the tahini sauce on the finished crepes.

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Divide the tomato and cucumber among the 5 crepes, lining it all up in the middle. If you prefer different toppings (like shredded carrots, greens, beets, fruit, honey, etc.), go nuts.

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All that’s left is to wrap it up!

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We wrapped ours up in foil, since we needed to store them to take them along for lunches through the week.

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Eating Local – Pepper and Lobster Mushroom Sandwich with Pecan Pesto

Parenting can be exhausting. You always want to expose the kids to new things, new experiences, and aid their development through healthy and edifying consumption, but sometimes you also just want them to go to sleep so you can have a glass of wine and stuff your face with delicious food. This recipe makes use of both of those impulses. On the parenting side, we took our kids to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market. On the food side, behold.

The other day we showed you some pictures from our trip to the Baltimore Farmers’ Market. With the food we bought there, we put together a delicious vegan (not gluten free this time, but easily adaptable) meal, along with a wonderful local wine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 large bell peppers
1 basket of lobster mushrooms
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup basil, packed loosely
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Bread of your choice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F. Chop peppers roughly and spray them and mushrooms with cooking oil of your choice. Place on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, to make pesto, pulse the basil and pecans in a food processor until finely chopped. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream as the food processor runs until everything is incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Toast four pieces of bread, spread some pesto on each, and split the mushrooms and peppers in two portions to make two sandwiches. Serve with a refreshing local Vidal Blanc.

Whatever We Have Around Salad with Making It Up As I Go Dressing

The intersection of healthy eating and parenting tends to get congested quite a lot. Sometimes you look in the fridge on Sunday as the kids are screaming and fighting with each other and defiantly refusing to nap, and you realize that you don’t have enough lunches prepped for the week. At times like those, it’s necessary to think fast and think minimal. Thankfully, jarred salads are both.

This week we roasted some vegetables, whipped up some rough peanut dressing, and topped it with some roughly shredded kale. The time spent working in the kitchen added up to only about 10 minutes, and it padded out our lunch count by two full days. Mission accomplished.

Ingredients:

Green beans, trimmed
Carrots, peeled and sliced
Mushrooms, chopped into small chunks

4 Tbsp creamy natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2.5 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
Garlic powder to taste

Kale, chopped roughly

Directions:

First, I didn’t put amounts for the vegetables or greens because this is based around whatever you’ve got around. If you’ve got zucchini and no green beans, you’re golden. Broccoli instead of mushrooms? Sure. Whatever fills a jar and is tasty and healthy. Same with the greens. If you don’t have or don’t like kale, throw some lettuce in there. Or some arugula. Or some spring mix.

Ok, so now we get down to brass tacks. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Put those veggies on a baking sheet with a small spritz of the oil of your choice, and let them roast for half an hour or so. Meanwhile, turn to the dressing. I’ll outline my process below, but you can probably figure out a more streamlined process if you read between the lines.

Put 3 Tbsp of the peanut butter, the sesame oil, the tamari, and 3 Tbsp of the rice vinegar in a bowl. Whisk together until fully incorporated. Taste, and discover that its way too salty. Add the fourth Tbsp of peanut butter, but worry that the dressing would be too thick without something else. Add the fourth Tbsp of rice vinegar. Taste, decide it’ll work, and then add in some garlic powder because you’re feeling saucy.

Finally, divide the dressing among 4 pint jars. Divide the roasted vegetables among the jars. Then top each jar with shredded kale. Refrigerate, breathe a sigh of relief, and eat a few days from now.

Spanish Tortilla with Sunflower Romesco

We like to have nice healthy vegan breakfasts, but our morning schedule usually precludes the possibility during the week. We get up at 4:45 am, get everyone’s bags packed for the day, get the kids dressed and fed, and all of us are out the door by 6:10. It’s a flurry of activity that doesn’t leave any space for a leisurely sit-down breakfast, so we have to either eat on the go or wait until we get to work.

The weekends, then, become breakfast prep time. We often make vegan muffins or scones or things like banana bread, but sometimes we want to mix it up with something healthy and savory. This week that turned out to be a vegan Spanish Tortilla with Romesco Sauce from The First Mess, though you could choose to top it with avocado, hummus, hot sauce, or whatever floats your boat. Each serving is under 200 calories, so adding a few more with a tasty sauce or spread won’t hurt.

Sorry the picture’s not the greatest, the light in my work kitchen isn’t the best. But trust me, this was super healthy and delicious.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil of your choice
1/2 medium onion, diced (or a whole one, if you really like onion)
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup chickpea flour
1 Tsp tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Heat the olive oil on medium and, when hot, put in the onion and potato and cook well, about 20 minutes. In the meantime, in a medium bowl mix the chickpea flour, tamari, nutritional yeast, and water and let sit while the potatoes and onion cook.

After the vegetables are cooked, fold them into the flour mixture. When combined, pour everything into an oven safe pan and bake until everything is set and the top is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

Makes 6 servings, each curiously satisfying when heated in a work microwave and eaten alone in a cubicle.