Monday, May 25, 2009

Vegetarian Chili Pasta Bake

I was going through the freezer and found a large tub of leftover 3 bean chili and I had pasta and cheddar cheese on hand. This dish turned out to be a real hit with the beau and made enough leftovers for another meal for two. The beans combined with the wheat makes for a very nutritious and comforting meal.

You could easily feed four with this recipe if you added a side of salad or steamed veggies.

You'll need:
  • 4 cups cooked whole wheat penne (2 cups dried, boiled for 12 minutes )
  • 4 cups chili - heated through
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Heat your oven at 375F, and In a deep baking dish, combine the pasta with the chili and distribute evenly on the bottom of the bowl. Cover with grated cheese. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Rolled Oats and Chia Seeds - The Breakfast of Champions!

Ever since becoming keenly interested in what I eat, I've been struggling with the first meal of the day. Sure, toast with butter or a bagel and cream cheese is delicious, but it's not exactly the breakfast of champions. It's essentially starch with fat and although can be filling, it doesn't necessary pack a good nutritional punch either.

I turned to oatmeal and quite frankly, it's extremely bland on its own. I've done the instant oatmeal and ended up hungry an hour later. I've also done the regular rolled oats, where you cook it on the stove for 10 minutes in twice the volume of liquid (water, milk (dairy or alternative)) and that's bland too. Unless I pour in a good amount of maple syrup and cinnamon. That will keep me satiated for 2 hours, but not until lunch....

I've added chia seeds to my routine. What are chia seeds? Known as Salvia Hispanica, it's cultivated in Mexico and has been eaten since the Aztec civilization. It packs a nutritional punch with a high load of proteins, polyunsaturated oils and fiber. I use the Chia Goodness – Apple Almond Cinnamon breakfast cereal to complement my oats. By doing this, I delay hunger until lunch time. Hurray!

If you are starting with instant oatmeal, you'll need:
  • 1 cup milk (I prefer soy or almond), divided into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons Chia Goodness cereals
  • 1 pack/serving instant oatmeal
  • Add in sugar to taste and cinnamon or other spices to your liking
In a bowl, add in 1/3 cup of the milk and the chia seeds. Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir contents to separate the seeds from each other. You should start noticing a slight glutinous texture. Add in the instant oatmeal and rest of the milk. Microwave another 2 minutes. Stir to combine and let stand 5 to 10 minutes to cool.

If you are using rolled oats or any other rolled grains - I like to use a 6 grain mix, you'll need:

  • 1 cup milk (soy, almond, dairy), divided into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons Chia Goodness cereals
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats/grains
  • Add in sugar to taste and cinnamon or other spices to your liking
In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil and stir in oats and seeds. Simmer for 10 minutes while stirring fairly often. It will tend to stick to the bottom of saucepan so don't walk away. Then let stand for 10 minutes to let the cereal cool.

Enjoy this breakfast of champions!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vegetarians in Paris Have It Tough

So kids, I'm back from my great French adventure! The architecture, rich history and countless museums made it a fabulous experience. As for the food part, it's a different story.

I learned that vegetarian eateries are a rarity but there are great little places. I thoroughly enjoyed La Victoire Supreme du Coeur on Bourg TiBourg. Their mushroom roast was divine and their cauliflower soup, amazing. There was also a restaurant called "A Little Trendy" in the 16ieme arrondissement that served pastas and pizzas that were very nice. But that's where the line stops.

White flour is pervasive throughout French life in the form of bread. It is eaten morning as butter laden croissants, noon as bread rolls and night as baguette. Plain vegetables seem to be a rarity (crudites are not raw vegetables...!) and let's not mention tofu, it's not found on regular grocery shelves.

In regular cafes, mention that you are vegetarian, and you'll be treated with a basket of bread rolls and a plate of mushy, overcooked vegetables covered in butter and salt. Or disgusting pasta in a three cheese sauce, think lots of nasty blue cheese. *gag*

For example, we went to a posh restaurant called the Procope where I asked the waiter the have the chef prepare for me a plate with only vegetables. I was given a plate with three different kinds of potato, two slices of polenta, and a pile of grated beets. The lot was over salted and covered in butter.

I did manage to gain 5 pounds even though I walked kilometers... But then again, I did indulge in dessert every day..... *hee hee*

My advice for the vegetarian traveller to Paris, bring yourself some food replacements and vitamins and expect to do a detox when you get back because your digestive system will be gummed up with all that white grain!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Cassie's Going to France!

I see London, I see France, I see underpants!

Well, fellow friends, Cassie's taking a vacation in the City of Lights. It will be my first vacation as a vegetarian with all of its challenges. I will be carrying with me my handy copy of Vegan a Go Go and the Paris Happy Cow restaurant listings to help me find friendly vegetarian meals along the way.

I'm very excited!

See you in two weeks, where I'll happily share my experience with you.

Much love,

Cassie xxoo