The Daily Dish: Vegan Lasagna Rollups

Here’s a well-known fact about me: I am enamored with all things Italian.  The language, the culture, the art, the fashion, and of course, the food. It’s my favorite way to cook, and I learned to do so from my wonderful ex-family who was half Italian (and half Irish, but more about that later). My “signature dish,” the one I’m known for, the most requested for not only holidays but birthdays & other celebrations: Stuffed Shells Florentine.  Served right after antipasto and  before the salad (to help digestion, they say), with a hunk of good Italian bread to soak up the sauce….delizioso! I’ve delivered this to many a potluck & dropped at the doorstep of several new mamas, so I knew I had to make it for my daughter’s Babymoon Meal Train.

Now, since going vegan I have been experimenting with a dairy-free version of this recipe, trying many different recipes calling for various vegan cheeses, both commercially-produced and homemade, in attempt to replicate the gooey cheesy goodness of the original.  I’m sorry to say, I have not yet experienced complete success. I came close, and wrote about that on my old blog, but there’s still some work to do. In the meantime, I found Brand New Vegan’s amazing recipe for Lasagna Rollups and they are now the go-to meal for all of the above occasions, including the birth of my sweet granddaughter.

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In progress…

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THIS is why a meal train is so important! What new parents have time to clean up this mess?

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Voila! I broke the recipe into two platters so that one can be frozen for a later meal.

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I love the cute labels that Meal Train provides!

Of course I included extra sauce and the ingredients to make our favorite bread, Grandma’s Garlic Bread, recipe by The Jazzy Vegetarian.

Someday maybe I’ll perfect those Stuffed Shells, but in the meantime, everyone is quite happy with the scrumptious substitute.

What’s your favorite Italian meal?

Michele~

Cook’s Note: A typical serving of this meal for my family is two rollups, one serving of sauce, and 1 hunk of Italian bread. This would “cost” you 11 SmartPoints which is a bit higher than I like but certainly worth it, especially for a special occasion!

Nutritional Information, as calculated by Mastercook:

Fat Free Marinara Sauce: Per Serving: 85 Calories; trace Fat (2.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 722mg Sodium; 2 Weight Watchers SmartPoints 

Vegan Lasagna Rollups (sans sauce): Per Serving: 389 Calories; 6g Fat (13.9% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 104mg Sodium; 4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

Grandma’s Garlic Bread: Per Serving: 75 Calories; 8g Fat (89.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 99mg Sodium; 5 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

 

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Menu Planning Monday: Spring Cleaning!

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This week I’ll be focusing on recipes that use up ingredients on hand. It’s time to clean out my pantry & freezer and make the transition from warming winter dishes to lighter springtime fare! That being said, I love my soups & stews so much, you’ll still be seeing those on my meal plan year round. This is Florida, after all, where we often have to “create” our own seasons or it would be all the salads, all the time. Ha!

As usual, I’ll be spending a morning or two prepping and cooking, because I do love a refrigerator full of prepared meals, and would much rather my kitchen look like this a couple times a week rather than every day! 

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03.15.Batch Cooking

Tell me, what’s on your meal plan for this week?

Have a beautiful day,

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

 

 

 

Babymoon

Wow, so much has happened since my last post, I’m not going to try to catch you up all at once! These pictures should give you an idea of what’s been taking up my time & energy the past couple of weeks!

Yes, I’ve become a grandma once again! She is Rosemary Phyllis, the middle name to honor my mom. Of course, we are all over the moon and completely in love with this little angel and I can barely stand to be away from her, Angelo, and of course my amazing daughter. Chip and I have been driving back & forth to visit a couple times per week, bringing goodies for the little family & helping out where we can. When I’m away from them, I have been doing my part by cooking meals, contributing to their “Babymoon” Meal Train.

There have been some important happenings in other areas of my life, but for now let’s just focus on the good stuff, ok? When life is hard or sad, a cuddle with a precious newborn or sweet toddler makes everything better, if only for a moment.

Today I’ll be making Scottish Vegan Cottage Pie and Irish Soda Bread to deliver tomorrow, both veganized versions of family favorites and a nice way to extend the St Patrick’s Day festivities.

I did a test run of the soda bread yesterday, and while the taste was exactly like the original version I know & love, I need to work on size of loaf and cooking times as the outside was done way before the inside!

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Alas, I’ll have to enjoy that “failure” all by myself. *wink*

Have a beautiful day!

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

 

 

 

Menu Planning Monday: Spooky Good Meals

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Autumn has finally arrived here in North Florida, and I couldn’t be happier! The temps have dropped enough so that we can don a light sweater and actually enjoy the outdoors once again.

While most of us were just inconvenienced and uncomfortable by the blistering hot summer, it had a more serious impact on our poor farmers.  Between record heat, tropical storms and a major hurricane, they had their work cut out for them! All the more reason to buy local. 

So, this week I’ll be focusing on local veggies from Front Porch Pickings , dusting off some old favorite recipes as well as new ones I’ve been dying to try.  Assuming that the crisp fall air and cool breeze will hang around for a bit (pretty please, Mother Nature!), I’ll be cooking up warm & comfy meals, perfect for a cozy night in front of the fire or, at the very least, a pumpkin-scented candle!

My order includes: mini cukes, black garlic, ginger, collard greens, mustard greens, okra, white acre peas, purple sweet potatoes, radishes & roselle. Several of these ingredients are new-to-me so I’m really excited to get cookin’!

Without further ado, here’s my menu plan for the next week or two, depending upon how many ghosts or goblins join us for dinner!

Happy Halloween!

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Monday Menu Planning: Goodbye, July!

Angelo beach

I seriously can’t believe that today is the last day of July! Where has the summer gone? We’ve enjoyed our beach & pool time, but it’s been so ridiculously hot, I’m actually glad there are a few rainy days on the forecast that will hopefully cool things down a tiny bit and give us an excuse to stay inside. (Of course, my adorable grandson doesn’t agree; he can’t get enough of the outdoors!)

With that in mind, I’m planning a couple of rainy day comfort food meals this week, featuring a few of my favorite bloggers.

I’m also cleaning up my “diet” a bit since the past couple of weekly weigh-ins have been disappointing. Groan..

Here’s to a fresh new week and a whole new month! Have a great day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

 

 

Monday Menu Planning: Working the Plan

The past week was a whirlwind of activity and I didn’t make the time to do a menu plan last Monday. We had some out-of-town guests, including my handsome brother!

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We had a wonderful visit, and it was well worth the extra calories consumed while dining out, but I’m feeling bloated & fluffy and craving some semblance of normalcy.  This week things should be calmer (from my mouth to you-know-who’s-ears) so I’m putting my plan into place.

Plan

 

This week’s menu will be based around items that I have on hand as well as the fresh goodies included in my produce delivery service.

What’s on your menu for the week? How do you stay on plan when life “happens” and outside forces threaten to derail you?

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Have a great day!

 

 

 

The Daily Dish: Asian Rice Salad

It’s been so darned hot here in Florida, the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. I’m constantly looking for fast, filling food that doesn’t require a whole lotta cooking. After taking a peek in the fridge to see what I had on hand (ok, I might have done more than peek – that refrigerator sure feels good!), I then searched for recipes using leftover rice and some fresh veggies that were languishing in the produce drawer. To my delight, I discovered this recipe for Asian Rice Salad, and was inspired to create my own vegan, oil-free version.

Asian Rice Salad

 


Asian Rice Salad

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Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha red chili sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
  • 15 ounces garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed & drained
  • 11 ounces mandarin oranges in water, drained
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper — chopped
  • 3 scallions — sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro — chopped, optional
  • salt and pepper — to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds — for garnish
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce — for serving

In a bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients & set aside.

Toss together rice, veggies & cilantro if using.

Gently stir in dressing, serve plated on a bed of lettuce. Top with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of Sriracha for more heat.

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Makes 6 Servings; Nutrition per Serving as calculated by Mastercook: 351 Calories; 4g Fat (9.7% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 365mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

8 Weight Watchers SmartPoints as calculated on the recipe builder.

NOTES : This recipe is quite versatile; you could add sliced almonds or avocado, sub mango for the oranges, peas for edamame, or even top with chow mein noodles for more crunch!

 

Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. At the moment I am also using Weight Watchers to help me reach goal weight.

The Daily Dish: Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

My local produce delivery provided us with some lovely spaghetti squash this past week and I was anxious to use them.

I didn’t really feel like a traditional pasta-ish dish, though, so did some searching and came up with a unique idea that I really enjoyed!

Inspired by Making Thyme for Health, I used my own family favorite chili which I just happened to have portioned out in my freezer.

The recipe is so easy, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



Chili-Stuffed Squash Boats

  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cans canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or Ro*Tel are great!)
  • 1 packet chili seasoning mix
  • 1 onion — diced
  • 12 ounces frozen veggie crumbles (I like the Boca brand)
  • 3 spaghetti squash — cooked

Dump all chili ingredients in slow cooker, cook on low all day, adding a bit of water if mixture seems too thick.*

Feel free to add other veggies such as corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. This recipe is infallible, freezes perfectly and can easily be doubled for large crowds or hungry teenagers.

While your chili is cooking, prepare the “boats.” Grab your spaghetti squash and a large, sharp knife.  I like to microwave the whole squash for a minute or so to make it softer and easier to cut, then slice in half lengthwise & scrape out the seeds and dark yellow stringy parts. Place upside-down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or glass baking pan filled with a tiny bit of water to prevent sticking. Bake in 375°F oven for 30 minutes or so, until the flesh is soft and the “spaghetti” comes out easily with a fork. In this case, you want to leave that flesh in there, just mix it around a little bit.

Spoon your chili into the “boat,” sprinkle on your favorite fixings and enjoy!

*Alternatively, cook the chili on the stovetop for about an hour.

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Serves 6. Per Serving  as calculated by Master Cook (excluding toppings): 104 Calories; 1g Fat (4.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 443mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable.
4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints as calculated on WW’s Recipe Builder

 
Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.

Monday Menu Planning: Catching Up

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It’s been a long time since my last post, and there’s a lot to catch up on! For now, a quick summary:

Dad has been moved to Assisted Living which is a much better situation for him. He has a lot of activities, had made new friends, and is really benefiting from the structure & routine.

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I re-joined Weight Watchers and have lost 15 pounds so far! I, too, am doing well with the added structure that the program provides. Being a vegan Weight Watcher is a challenge, I admit, but am figuring it out as I go along.

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We have a new family member, a tiny kitten who literally showed up on our front doorstep.

Welcome, Lilo!  9C017943-DC30-46B4-BE6C-A65700A7C8BC_zpsna1y2tsq

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a little more free time now so am working on a new schedule/routine for myself which will include blogging. I’ve missed writing, and think it’s an important part of my weight loss journey, not to mention the mental/emotional benefits.

Without further ado, here’s this week’s meal plan which include both lunches and dinners.

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Have a great day!

 

Happy New Year

Goodbye, 2016, and good riddance! Overall, you were a pretty rotten year. To recap,  in January we became aware of some health issues with my dad, symptoms that his girlfriend couldn’t deal with on her own. In early March, we moved him 350 miles from home, up here with us, and started the rounds of doctors and tests which, in mid-April, lead to the diagnosis: Alzheimer’s Disease/Lewy Body Dementia. 

(In the midst of this, one very BIG, very BRIGHT spot..we welcomed my first grandchild into the world. The amazing, adorable Angelo graced us with his presence in April, and he has kept me laughing & smiling through the darkest parts of this year. What a blessing he already is, what a joy!)

So, we sold Dad’s truck and beautiful 5th wheel trailer and with that went his dream of traveling the country, enjoying his retirement after 42 years with the same company. It was devastating. We were able to move him into his own small home, maintaining some independence,  but he requires some supervision so we hired caregivers to be with him about 75% of the time.

At some point that’s not going to be enough and I will have to make the Big Decision. For now, I’m just treading water, trying not to drown under the worry and overwhelming responsibility that comes with being the only child of an ailing, aging parent. It requires more patience, strength and grace than I possess on any given day.  I’ve discovered skills I never knew I had and dusted off some I never thought I’d need again.  Managing finances, caregivers & general day to day life, doctor visits (and one scary hospital stay), has become  the focus of my life. It has become a full-time job, because even when he’s being cared for by paid professionals, I’m still on call. 24/7, 7 days a week. My phone is far from my side. No vacations, no holidays, no days off where I can just put Dad’s illness on the back burner and focus on ME. It’s sad and stressful and all-consuming. Yet, I keep going. I keep swimming, as Dory advises, hoping that I make it look easier, that I appear more graceful than I actually am. Because it’s not his fault. And I’m not complaining, truly I’m not. It’s just freaking hard, that’s all.

With all of this going on, I moved Dad to the front burner and put everything else in the back. My hobbies, my goals, my health..my weight loss. My fitness. All of it got put on hold. I tried to keep up with my daily walks, but either I was too busy or I was simply too tired or stressed. It was easier to self-medicate with food instead of exercise. I allowed some more junk to seep back into my diet, especially while cooking for Dad who is definitely not vegan but was willing to try some faux meat products, just nothing too “green” or anything that looked like “weeds.” So, more veggie burgers, hot dogs & fries & less kale ended up on my plate for a while. My Fitbit continued to plug along, logging the couple thousand steps that were part of my daily routine. Now & then I managed a long beach walk, and my body & soul thanked me for it but I couldn’t manage to sustain that habit. As a result, my clothes got tighter. The  numbers on the scale started going in the wrong direction. And before I knew it, 10 of the 20 lost pounds had crept back on.

 

Sad & sobering and oh-so-disappointing. But, here I am. It’s a new year, can’t do anything about what happened in 2016. What now? Do I keep heading in that direction, just treading water and surviving? Nah, let’s not. A better idea would be to get myself together, force myself (and others) to put myself first, or at least somewhere near the top. How to do that? Well, I think we have a working system in place, that Dad’s needs are being met..for now.  There will always be adjustments, issues that come up that will need addressing, but I can’t sit around waiting for what might happen. I need to keep living my life the best I can. I have a father to care for, but I also have a partner, children and a grandchild who want and need me around! In order to do that, I’ve gotta take care of myself. I’ve got to do what keeps me healthy & happy because if I’m not around, who’s gonna take care of Dad?

So, I am already working on the new plan. It involves some elements from the past, what worked before, with a few new habits thrown in. I’m excited and hopeful and determined to lose what I gained in weight, and gained what I lost in fitness & mental health.

For the readers who are still with me, thanks for hanging in there. I hope to see more of you in 2017.

Michele~