Thursday, September 1, 2011

Featured Blogger of The Week

 We welcome Jean from Eat Your Beans: A Vegan Mom Challenge  

Guest Blog Questions:

How long have you been blogging, and why did you start in the first place?
I started blogging this June (2011), I know, total newbie! After ordering at least 27 books on going vegan and another 33 on vegan recipes (and in turn upping my library’s circulation numbers), I decided I would go vegan for 3 weeks. The challenge started as a conversation with another friend and co-worker. After reading all of these books on going vegan I thought, well of course they can do it, they are (fill in the blank) rich, single, young, in a city where they can find the ingredients or a restaurant to cook them. Of course it’s easy for THEM! I thought it would be more of a challenge if a 39 year-old wife and mother of two who lives in a small rural town in the South tried to go vegan in a carnivorous household-on the cheap.
Since I am a frustrated writer, blogging about the challenge and how it affected my family was the way to go for me. Especially after discussing it with Carrie and seeing how feasible it was.

How long have you been vegan and why did you start in the first place?
 I was vegetarian for almost a year but went back to eating fish and fowl since it was easier to prepare one meal for everyone instead of two. I decided to go vegan this past June and have remained since I started the challenge.
To sum it up for anyone interested in the difference: a Vegetarian eats absolutely no meat of any kind, but does eat or use animal products such as milk, cheese, butter, honey, eggs, leather, silk, etc.
A vegan does not eat any meat OR any animal products and they typically try to avoid wearing them as well.
As far as why I went vegan, well I didn’t want to eat meat anymore; honestly it made me feel guilty, I still prepare food for my family but I doubt I could actually eat it again. As far as milk and eggs, did you know that we are the only mammals that drink another mammal’s milk, especially after we are weaned as babies? And eggs…think about it.
That’s not to say I don’t miss pizza, but I live without it just fine!

How to plan meal around the non-vegan members of your family?
That was the hardest part initially, but I am getting the hang of it. I try to make meatless meals at least once per week and when I do make meat for my family, I usually have plenty of homemade fake meat or bean protein sources for myself and we share the same sides. I have a ton of recipes on my site for anyone interested in trying a vegan meat alternative. I am also trying to promote Meatless Mondays at my house and on my blog.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
My life is a guilty pleasure! I work surrounded by books and get to play with toys in the children’s area! Since I have so many I will narrow them down to the top three: Watching the ‘Twilight’ series movies with my daughter and making inappropriate comments about the actors, aimlessly riding the Harley all day with my husband when the kids are in school, and making up new and ridiculous ‘Pirate’s of the Caribbean’ sequels with my son when I tuck him into bed. (And I too love stupid B Horror movies, lol)

What is on your blog?
I try to keep it varied. There is the music that I listen to only because I am an absolute junkie when it comes to all kinds of music. I just started putting on recycled crafts since I like to get creative every now and then. I have a ton of recipes for vegans, raw vegans and some juicing and smoothie recipes also. There is my general babbling about my home life and some pretty funny comments about the two challenges that I took, both 21 days long. I also like to put a new quote every day that has to do with my topic, sometimes silly and occasionally motivating or serious. I have a foodie section for those who are interested in what brands I use, I try to keep up with a weekly menu and last but not least a book review section that includes cookbooks and other books.

What do you have for us today?
I wanted to share a great recipe that is cheap and easy and even kid friendly. It is actually a recipe given to me by our coworker friend Pam and I ‘veganized’ it-that really cracks her up. Anyway, I added fake meatballs to the recipe and used only veggies and veggie stock. If you don’t want to bother making the fake meatballs, you can add a ½ cup of TVP (texturized veg protein) they sell it at Ingles grocery store in the baking isle.

Mexican Meatball Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
2-3  tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
s & p to taste
1 carrot, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (or more to taste)
1 Yukon gold potato, skin on and diced (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoon tomato paste or 3 tablespoons ketchup
8 cups of veggie stock
1 cup of your favorite salsa
2 small zucchini, diced or shredded
1 batch of mini meatballs or bean balls
In a heavy large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add the onions and cook until translucent-about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients as listed to the pot except meatballs. If you are using TVP instead, add it now.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Add mini meatballs and heat through for another 20 minutes.
For the Mini Meatballs:
1 clove garlic
1 small onion, peeled (tangerine sized or equivalent)
1 1/2 cups cooked green or brown lentils, rinsed, drained (a 15 oz can is fine)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or whole wheat flour or parm cheese if you're not vegan)
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten flour (in baking isle)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup seasoned store-bought breadcrumbs
To make the mini meatballs:
We’re going to use the food processor fit with a metal S blade for most of the work here, so it should come together pretty quickly. First toss in the garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Now add the onion and pulse until minced. You don’t want any big pieces or they will ruin the texture of the meatball.
With a plastic spatula, transfer the onion/garlic mixture to a mixing bowl and set aside. It’s okay if some remnants are left, just try to get most of it.
Now in the food processor, pulse the lentils, nutritional yeast, wheat gluten, soy sauce, tomato paste, olive oil and water. Once everything gets mixed well, puree them until totally smooth, scraping down the sides to make sure you get everything.
Combine this mixture with the onion mixture and add in the breadcrumbs. Mix really well with your hands for about 2 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Roll the meatballs into cherry sized balls, I got 32 meatballs out of this. This goes very fast if you keep your hands clean and dry (I was averaging one meat ball every 10 seconds.) Preheat a large skillet over medium heat and pour in a thin layer of olive oil. You don’t want to crowd the pan, so pan fry in two batches. You should be able to tilt the pan and have all the meatballs roll around and get coated in oil, cooking until browned (no more than 5 minutes.)
Transfer first batch to a baking pan, cook the second batch, and transfer all meatballs to the baking pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, shaking the pan every once in awhile to toss the balls so that they cook evenly.

Thanks for having me on! You can find me and some more of my recipes at:

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