confessions

 

21 Confessions by Veronica Grace

 
1. I do not actually consider myself a chef, nor do I claim to have any culinary training. I am sell taught, having lived and traveled to some remote areas and had to rely on making my own raw and vegan recipes for myself and others. Ever since I was very young I have always been in the kitchen though. I loved to eat and once I figured out I could bake my own goodies and make my own lunch I was in love with food. I like to eat and so I often find a healthier way to make what I’m craving or something intriguing I wanted to try. I have a little over 4 years of experience since I quit doing office work and started being a homemaker and opening my own business online. I also watch a lot of Food Network, most shows actually lol. So the term chef is used loosely, I’m more of a hands on teacher.

2. My family were quite apprehensive of eating my recipes and not very interested until I started making recipes for my first 2 cooked recipe ebooks Comfort Soups To Keep You Warm and Vegan Comfort Foods From Around The World. For the most part I would say they enjoy my recipes now lol. Now they enjoy eating more plant based because they have had some tasty recipes.

3. I’ve never been a vegetarian. I’ve gone straight from SAD (standard eating) to raw vegan twice and to whole food vegan/plant based. I never did much care for dairy and gave up cheese a long time ago back in my calorie counting days! (Cheese is extremely high in calories and fat and I gave it up on those merits alone.) I also have never successfully cooked a real omelette. Vegan omelettes though I can do!

4. I hate spicy food… Really, if it’s spicy, I’d prefer it not be spicy at all. I’m just not used to it. I used to not even be able to tolerate mild to medium spicy food. Only in the past few years have I grown accustomed to some spice in my food from Thai and Indian cuisine. That’s why I always say chilis and chili powder is optional in my recipes because some people like their food much spicier than me and some not at all. In my world all would be fine without spicy chilis… I will not however give up my smoked paprika, cuz that’s not spicy, it’s just smokey and delicious!

5. I would probably put mushrooms in every cooked recipe if I could. I love mushrooms that much. You may have noticed from some of my recipes such as Deluxe Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo with Spinach and Mushrooms, Rotini Marinara with Mushrooms, Portobello Bean BurritosGourmet Cream of Mushroom Soup, Deluxe Dijon Tofu Scramble and more. But not everyone likes mushrooms as much as I do, so unfortunately I can’t put them in everything….

6. My 3 secret spices are roasted cumin, smoked paprika, and Herbmare (an herb seasoned salt). You can pretty much put them into any recipe and make 2 out of 3 of those work. Roasted cumin goes well in Latin and Indian dishes and smoked paprika can be added as a garnish or a flavor enhancer to almost anything. Instead of salt I like to use Herbamare as it also has some herbs in it which give a nice flavor if you’re the type that like just a little surface sprinkle of salt to your dishes.

7. I don’t drink alcohol. At all. Zilch. I have no idea what wine goes best with my recipes, so don’t ask! LOL. I have used wine in maybe 3 recipes from time to time for flavor, but that’s about it.

8. I stay home a lot…. like most of the time. I’m kind of a hermit, people don’t see me very often. I’m always at home working, cooking or cleaning. Usually I only leave to get groceries or get the mail. I should probably be more social at my age… hmm

9. I used to really dislike tofu. I used to try to avoid tofu because I “heard” it wasn’t good for you, but have since learned there’s no problem eating soy in moderation, especially if it’s minimally processed and organic. See The Truth About Soy. (I just avoid soy protein isolates as they are a processed food). Now I enjoy smoked tofu in stir fries, pressed tofu in my tofu scrambles, and silken tofu in my Alfredo sauce and my vegetable lasagnas. Soft tofu plain in Asian dishes is not my favorite, but I’ll still eat it once in a while!

10. When I don’t feel like cooking I’ll eat a giant bowl of sliced up fruit or a green smoothie. It’s also a great time saver as it doesn’t produce a lot of dirty dishes. (Fruit has more calories than salad or vegetables so I find it more sustaining than just having a salad on it’s own)

11. I actually don’t enjoy eating raw tomatoes or bell peppers… Ketchup, tomato sauce and (mild) salsa are fine, but plain fresh tomatoes in a salad or a sandwich/burger is not for me, I pick them out and just don’t eat them. Bell peppers I can tolerate if cooked, but if I’m making something just for me I won’t use them. I use bell peppers a lot in my cuisine because they are pretty, healthy and most people like them! Growing up we never used these foods and we never got used to eating them. I have made great progress, it’s not a mental thing it’s just a taste. I wish I liked them more but I don’t. My younger sister still won’t eat any of them! (She still avoids tomato sauce too.)

12. I never ate beans, lentils or eggplant until about 5 years ago. Aside from kidney beans in chili and refried beans in burritos we never ate beans growing up. The first time I had lentils was in a recipe I made and I was always afraid of eating eggplant because some people don’t like it. But beans, lentils and eggplant are probably my top favorite foods to eat because they are so versatile, they absorb the flavors of whatever spices you use and they fill out your recipes making them look and feel heartier.

13. I cannot stand to eat olives or olive oil! The taste totally grosses me out, even if it’s “high quality” nope. I will not eat olives, nor can I enjoy anything drizzled in olive oil. Total gag factor. I really do make my Greek and Italian cuisine without olive oil too. I’ve also never ordered a vegetarian special pizza because it comes with all kinds of things like black olives, peppers and raw tomatoes that don’t do it for me. What’s on my vegan pizza? LOTS of mushrooms, pineapple, spinach, caramelized onions, garlic and sometimes tempeh, smoked tofu or artichoke hearts (packed in water.)

14. I had never had real Indian food until about 5 years ago. I had avoided it because I heard it was spicy and assumed I wouldn’t like any of it. (How sad!) Now I love Indian food and could probably eat it every day. I still prefer making my own that way it’s oil and dairy free (for sure) and I can make it less spicy! He he.

15. I first got interested in cooking through baking. As a kid I was addicted to sugar, candy and baked goods and I loved making things myself (you know, for instant gratification). Now I hardly ever bake. Why? #1. If I make it I will probably eat all of it… or most of it…  #2 flour and sugar aren’t health food or necessary for every day recipes and #3. oil free baking isn’t as nice. You can do it… but where do you draw the line? It’s low in fat, but then full of sugar and flour and still not really health food. So I prefer fruit for the most part. Except if it has chocolate, then I might want a bite…

16. I don’t actually cook from scratch every single day. I’m just like everyone else, I get busy with work, house cleaning and errands too. If I cooked scratch every day 3 meals a day and still had to work on top of that I might die of exhaustion… so I try to space it out. I like to make a lot of double meals that way there is leftovers for lunch or another quick meal. I cook brown rice and beans in large quantities as it’s nice to have on hand in the fridge or freezer when I’m short on time.

17. Sometimes I wish I could keep things simple, buy far less groceries than I do and just eat the same thing every day and not have so many different ingredients (you don’t want to see my cupboards… really.) But I do like to try new things and learn new recipes and techniques so I can share them with you.

18. I don’t only cook my own recipes all the time. Although I really do like many of my recipes after I know it’s good I move on and create a new recipe, as there are far too many dishes I will never get to try for me to settle on cooking from my own recipe books every week.

19. I think I’m the only one in my family that loves green peas and split peas. And I mean love! I can eat green peas raw out of the pod or just steamed in a giant bowl with a little salt. I love split pea soup and Kik Alicha (Ethiopian Split Pea Stew). I will never get tired of eating peas. My mom and sister however avoid them like the plague and are horrified by how much I love them lol. Sad…

20. I’m not very good at taking care of plants. If it can go a week or two without being watered, then it should be safe. This is why I don’t buy flowers, don’t plant flowers and don’t have many ornamental plants. If it’s not food related it’s hard for me to keep track of it’s life cycle!

21. I do this because I really like teaching and helping people help themselves and not for the money. I only make it pay check to pay check just like everyone else and most of what I create and share is free. I often care too much about others and seeing people around me suffering is very hard for me and I feel compelled to make a difference. If I can help someone try a new food, learn how to prepare something healthy, enjoy a new recipes or get some confidence in the kitchen where they had none before it really makes me feel good about what I do.

And there’s my little list! I’m sure you learned some new things about me. What are some of your little confessions? 

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Low Fat Vegan Chef's Thanksgiving

 

Our Thanksgiving is already long gone in Canada, but I saved this post for my American readers as many of you have a hard time deciding on what to make and spend a lot of time worrying if your guests or family can survive a meal without turkey or ham on a big holiday. Lol. Well never fear I can help give you some ideas for  filling out your plant based Thanksgiving menu with ease.

 

Low Fat Vegan Chef's Thanksgiving

 

I make everything from scratch and find that whipping up mashed potatoes and mashed yams/sweet potatoes an absolute BREEZE in my pressure cooker. I actually have 2 now, one is an EZ Bean Cooker pressure cooker that I can set manually for cooking anything else other than beans as well, so I fill one with potatoes, one with yams and then I don’t have to sacrifice stove top space and watch the pot. This is a huge time saver and I use my pressure cooker every holiday to makes my potato recipes.

 

Low Fat Vegan Chef's Thanksgiving

 

A few things I’ll mention, I actually forgot about making stuffing this year as I focus more on making my lentil loaf recipe, stuffed peppers and mashed potatoes. No one seemed to mind though and having an alternative side of Greek Stuffed Peppers was actually a healthier option than traditional stuffing.   The other thing is that I ran out of pecans and didn’t have any for my mashed yams but they were still delicious none-the-less. I also just realized that this Thanksgiving dinner was essentially gluten-free as well so everyone with dietary restrictions can enjoy it! And best of all we had so much leftovers for the rest of the week it was SO nice not having to cook each day. (As my lentil loaf recipe makes 2 loaves and I made a double batch of gravy!)

 

Here are my favorite veganized Thanksgiving dishes to share with you since many of you will be dining plant based or trying to dine mostly plant based this year and still feeding some carnivores too! All of these recipes have been tested on my family and their non vegan friends, so I assure you they are crowd pleasers. :)

 

Some of these recipes are featured in my blog, and some are in my recipe cookbook Vegan Comfort Foods From Around The World has loads more delicious and hearty entree recipes for every occasion.

Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Ideas

Raw Vegan Salads:

Raw vegan Caesar Salad

The Best Caesar Salad

 

Low Fat Raw Vegan Chef's Strawberry Pecan Spinach Salad

Strawberry Pecan Spinach Salad

Vegan Thanksgiving Entrees:

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats

 

Holiday Stuffed Acorn Squash

Greek Stuffed Eggplant

Herbed Lentil Loaf with Miso Gravy

Greek Stuffed Peppers

 

Vegan Side Dishes:

Holiday Baked Maple Yam Pecan Casserole

Cranberry Apple Pecan Holiday Stuffing

Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Brown Gravy

Steamed Vegetables In Cheezy Sauce

Tangy Collard Greens in Coconut Milk

 

Vegan Decadent Desserts (These are not low fat):

Low Fat Vegan Chef's Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

 

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

(mine was based on this recipe here, I skipped the oil and t I put it in a pre made graham cracker crumb to save on time and added more spices to my tastes)


Holiday Vegan Pecan Pie

Vegan Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote

 

Vegan Lower Fat Desserts: 

Fudgey Black Berry Brownies

Vegan Rice Pudding

Apple Strawberry Strudel Pie

There are lots of delicious and healthy recipes to choose from. I hope that I included some of your favourites or gave you some inspiration to try something new. :)
So if these goodies entice you be sure to check out my book  Vegan Comfort Foods From Around The World and grab it before Thanksgiving is here! (Available in digital and physical format.)
What are you looking forward to having for Thanksgiving this year?

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Low Fat Vegan Chef’s Favorites for 2014

October 21, 2014
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Low Fat Vegan Chef’s Favorites for 2014   Here I will share some of my well known and new favorites that I want to rave about. Do any of my favorites make your list this year? Favorite Kitchen Appliance: EZ Bean Cooker (Great for ALL pressure cooker style recipes and not just beans) See my [...]

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Missing Summer Already – Harvest Soup (Butternut Squash, Sweet Corn and White Beans)

September 15, 2014
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Ah summer… I think it’s everyone’s favourite month.  (At least mine as it’s the sunniest/warmest time in Canada.) But now the weather is growing colder already and I can tell I’m missing the heat…. I was looking around the freezer the other day and wanted to make up something quick and healthy and I saw [...]

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Dr. Fuhrman’s Cinnamon Fruit Oatmeal (Eat To Live Recipe)

September 14, 2014
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  Now that’s it’s cooling down, you may be craving something warm and comforting for breakfast these days instead of smoothies or cold cereal. So I decided to make up one of Dr. Fuhrman’s (author of Eat To Live and Super Immunity) ultra healthy nutritarian breakfast oatmeal recipes. This is ultra healthy because it contains zero [...]

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How To Make Raw Almond Milk in a Vitamix

September 14, 2014
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Almond milk is something that many people use nowadays, whether they are vegan or have dairy allergies. Sure you can buy some (non raw) almond milk at the store for your smoothies or cooking, but there’s likely going to be sugar, preservatives and other additives and synthetic stuff in it as well. While it is [...]

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How To Store Fresh Herbs for Vegan Recipes

May 27, 2014

Fresh herbs are WONDERFUL to use in every day recipes, but not all of us have them on hand and even when we do they sometimes (or often) go to waste or are only partially used. I love using fresh herbs in my recipes and if you don’t already have a backyard garden or a [...]

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Low Fat Herbed Tofu Ranch Dip (With Silken Tofu)

April 23, 2014
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Readers often ask if I have a secret recipe for making veggie dip – but without all the fat (and the guilt should someone eat say half or the whole recipes while snacking on veggies…) And so I wanted to share this recipe for Herbed Tofu Ranch Dip from Comfort Foods From Around The World. [...]

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Personal Update From Veronica

April 20, 2014

You might have noticed I’ve been less active lately with my website and my mailings, and I wanted let you know what’s been going on. I feel really badly for not creating as much content as I normally do and it’s because I’ve been dealing with several personal struggles in my life. I hope that [...]

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Slowcooker Vegan White Bean Cassoulet by SkinnyMs

March 16, 2014

I love using white beans, especially in Mediterranean cuisine. They are a delicious addition to soups, stews, chillis, salads or even in place of chickpeas in hummus. They have a mild creamy taste and pair well with almost any herb. I instantly liked this recipe for vegan white bean cassoulet because is jam packed and [...]

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