Vegan Shepherds Pie

Ohh how I love the pie. Not your traditional pie, but vegan shepherds pie. Everybody does it a little differently so I’ll share my own recipe with you.

I’ve never been good at paying attention to measurements, so you’ll have to wing it!

Ingredients:
1 cup brown lentils
2 cup veggie broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp marjoram
3 cloves minced garlic
1 minced onion
3 stalks celery finely chopped
4 skinny carrots finely chopped
4 button mushrooms finely chopped
1 can corn
dash vegan worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
enough potatoes peeled and quartered to fill a medium pot
grapeseed oil for frying

I started by prepping my veggies..
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Then I got the potatoes into a pot of water and started to boil them.
While they were boiling, I got the lentils going. First I added the lentils and broth, followed by the thyme, cumin and marjoram. I stirred it all up to distribute the spices and added the bay leaf, then simmered the lentils for about 20 minutes until the water was absorbed.

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Next I fried the garlic for about 30 seconds on low-medium heat, followed by the onions until fragrant. I added the carrots and celery, and covered the pan to cook the veggies until tender. Then I added the mushrooms and let them cook for a few minutes. Add the corn and cooked lentils, a dash of worcestershire sauce, some salt and pepper and cover it. Cook until thoroughly heated and the flavors are well incorporated.

While the flavors are mingling, mash up the potatoes. I usually add a bit of garlic margarine to mine, not mentioned in the ingredients above. Make them up however you like them.

Now just put it all together. I used small tinfoil pans to store mine in as I made one for a friend and two for myself and needed a reliable way to keep it fresh in the fridge/freezer. Layer in the lentil/veggie mixture, then top with the potatoes.

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This is all that was left on my plate when I remembered to snap a pic.

 

Keep Being Awesome

It can be tough to live a vegan lifestyle; watching everyone around you become sick because of what they are eating but being unwilling to change for their health, the contradictions of people who are so upset about a cat who was abused or a barn fire that kills 40 cows but then they go home and eat their beefy burger or some other carcass. Then there are the environmental “activists” that speak on the pollution of transportation and factories but ignore the fact that factory farms are the primary source of methane emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and so on.

How frustrating it is to listen to these people complain about their health or become passionate about a world issue and only touch on a very very small part of it.. and when you try to provide friendly information in a non-threatening, approachable manner and the door is slammed on your face regarding those topics – it’s no wonder activists experience burn out.

There are ways to affect others without having to go through all of that.

1. Set a great example!
This one is by far the easiest way to influence people around you. If you are a beacon of shining health and fitness, you have amazing colorful appetizing food, and are friendly and open to questions then you will go far.

This is something that I am personally having success with, especially at work. The store I work in is very small, and when I heat up my food (double baked potatoes, masala wraps, rice dishes, etc) in the microwave the fragrant scent wafts through the entire store. As I sit there eating my lunch I can hear customers and coworkers alike discussing how great my food smells. Several coworkers have been drawn to the lunch room to see what it is that I am eating and if they can try some, too! They see that I am healthy and have the energy to get the tasks at hand done, and they often ask me what they can do for their own state of health.

2. Share. 
With so many people curious about what a vegan eats and all of our delicious food, it’s a good idea to bring extra. I do this a lot right now and it feels really good to share a dish that I made and everyone love it, or to see my coworkers eating fresh foods that are so healthy for them. So when I want to bring some grapes in my lunch, I will bring the entire bag and let everyone pick away at them. If I have some vegan candies to make the day a little sweeter, I bring extra to pass out – especially for the boss 😉

3. Be social.
No, I don’t mean you have to stop random people on the street and become the worlds most obnoxious extrovert. Just be open to others. So many times in the grocery store somebody will ask me about a vegetable or fruit that I am buying that they have never tried before. These can lead to really meaningful and eye opening conversations if you remain approachable and let the other person guide the conversation.

Another way to be social is to get together with other vegans or even the veg-curious through potlucks or hosting a dinner at your house. If you give people an opportunity to learn on their terms, it will happen.

And realize that it is okay to take a break. Sometimes walking away and giving yourself the time to recharge is the best thing you can do for yourself and for others; because a burnt out, frustrated vegan is not nearly as effective as a happy, patient vegan.

It’s another (cupcake) Sunday..

It’s another Sunday, and let me tell you; it’s a good one.
Not only is today going to be beautiful (a high of 9 degrees, yay!) but it is also my oldest sons 9th birthday party; to which 9 children will be attending. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Last night we made really simple cupcakes for his party using this recipe. It took all of five minutes to throw together. Then I tossed on some chocolate icing and let my son decorate them for his friends.

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It’s been a weekend full of cupcakes, honestly. My four year old son was having cupcake day in his classroom so I had written it on the calendar, and when the older two went to school that day they were expecting cupcakes too. So when their Grandma picked them up they shared their disappointment as they realized only their little brother got cupcakes that day. Being the freaking cool Grandma that she is, my Mom decided she would do cupcake day with them on Friday after school while I was at work.

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So on top of some really great cupcakes this weekend, we’re taking a layered chip dip to the party and some veggie dogs. The chip dip was a can of Amy’s refried beans, a layer of salsa, tofutti sour cream, and daiya cheese shreds. It’s so easy and so fantastic. I was even able to make an extra dish of it with the left over ingredients for work tomorrow!

We’re off to party!

Sunday Kid-Free Meal Prep

Every other Sunday, I am free of major commitments. It’s grocery day, and my only real day to relax before another two weeks begins. And today grocery shopping was exciting!

I’m always excited to bring home food, especially whole ingredients that I can turn into yummy dishes. But this Sunday was special because I ran into a vegetarian couple; who happen to be second cousins! We started talking about food and how for him it started as health reasons but the morality of it all sank in. We discussed how some family members are supportive and others are down right hostile. The topic of food cravings came up, and he mentioned that he sometimes misses ribs (but luckily he can get some Gardein products to fill in for the flavor sensations). I spoke to him about my occasional cravings for my Dad’s smoked turkey, and that I just get some tofu and my sweet Dad does it on the smoker for me. And it was all so refreshing.

The cashier rang through the fragrant bunch of cilantro and told me she keeps trying it but can’t seem to like it. How do you store it, anyway? I don’t know, because everything I have tried fails. We agreed that freezing it in ice cubes is the best way to store cilantro, but it’s still not as good as fresh cilantro sprinkled over a dish.

I am telling you all of this because as of late, being the passionate vegan has been discouraging. I gave up talking about it, I stopped posting on my Facebook pages, and if somebody asked me a question about it the door was slammed on me before I could get a word in. So feeling frustrated with the world, I felt alone and withdrawn. And I know that this is the reality for many of you. But hear me, fellow vegans; there are others out there that get it. I mean really get it.

And to make this weekend even more amazing, I have managed to open the eyes of a friend to the contradictions and abhorrent views of mainstream society regarding animal agriculture.

So to celebrate, I did some cooking and meal prep!

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C
hickpea Cucumber Salad, with a homemade citrus and herb dressing. Oil free, too! This will be my go-to snack for work and when I am tempted to eat junk food. 

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Another oil-free delicious meal! These double baked potatoes that are filled with nutritional yeast and green onions will be another meal for work this week. My coworkers are always sniffing around my food at lunch time, and I am looking forward to their questions this week. 

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Mulligatawny soup. Mm’mm! This deeply flavored Indian soup is fantastic. This soup was (for my lazy ass) a labor of love. I was first introduced to it by a couple that opened a little soup shop downtown. They have a few vegan options on hand all the time, either freshly made to eat right there in the shop or frozen to buy and take home. When I saw it in my new cookbook, I knew it was going to be the first thing I made.

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I scored this gem at the thrift store I work in for only $1.00! Might just be the best money I have ever spent.