fridge after and before

refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables

As I’m writing this on Saturday morning, June 16, I’ve just finished putting away my groceries. I love Saturday mornings – my shopping routine, the comforting feeling of having fully stocked fridge, and cleaning up my kitchen after everything is put away.

I’ve been making some gradual changes to my diet since this photo project that I started last summer. I photographed and posted online everything that I ate between August and mid-October, 2011. I was a vegetarian at the time (I haven’t eaten meat, fowl or seafood since 1989), but was eating a lot of junk food, and wanted to establish some healthier habits. The simple act of photographing my food every day helped me make better choices, and over the three or so months that I actively carried out the project (I stopped photographing absolutely everything I ate sometime in mid-October, but I still occasionally post photos of favorite meals), I transitioned to vegan (no longer eating animal products), and cut out the worst of my junk food habits.

Since then I’ve made even more refinements to my diet, experimenting with adding superfoods like chia, chlorella, brightly coloured vegetables, berries and tons of greens, cutting out grains, legumes, processed sugar, and more recently sweet fruit (I still eat fresh berries though). Now I’m making another transition to a low-carb vegan diet, which will also be predominantly raw for the summer (only because it’s too hot to cook in my apartment during the summertime). I was curious to see if these changes have meant any difference in the way my fridge looks, so I found this photo (below) from earlier this year for comparison.

full Frigidaire refrigerator

One change that has nothing to do with my food choices is that I’m actually buying and eating less food (although trust me, I still eat HUGE meals – typically salads that are six cups or more in volume). Sometimes I buy more greens mid-week, because they take up the most room in my fridge. Other than less food, however, you can’t really see the difference in the before and after fridge photos. I’m cutting way back on nuts, which means fewer jars in my fridge door. That’s about it. I’m planning on writing another diet update after the end of June, to report on my low-carb transition (which I’m kind of dreading, only because of the possible symptoms associated with fat adaption – wish me luck!).

vegan breakfast skillet

vegan breakfast skillet recipe

This is what I had for breakfast yesterday morning. I’ve been making a lot of one-dish skillet meals lately; I cook a base layer of root vegetables or other longer-cooking items, and top with tender things near the end of cooking. I’ve also been really fascinated by the long-ish infographics that I’ve seen on Pinterest lately, so I wanted to try my hand making my own. Fun.

I love cooked breakfasts, especially when it’s cooler out. (In the sweltering heat, I usually choose not to turn on the stove in my un-air-conditioned apartment.) This particular combination of flavours reminds me of Italian food – probably because of the tomatoes and the nutmeg.

I like to use coconut oil in my cooking, but you could use any oil you like. Frying the base layer first and then flipping it to cook the other side really adds to the complexity of the flavours. I also like to add a bit of channa masala spice before layering the greens and tomatoes. A few days ago I made a similar dish, only instead of potatoes I used half a sweet potato, one small beet, and a couple of slices of butternut squash. It smelled AMAZING as the sugars carmelized in the pan. I also tend to add a bunch of seeds for protein: sunflower, chia, hemp, pumpkin…

spicy carrot tahini sauce / dressing

carrot tahini dip

I made this sauce / dressing / dip on the weekend, when I didn’t want to eat a bunch of celery chunks plain. I have no clue what the precise amounts of the ingredients are. This is just my best guestimate. I used the leftovers to drizzle on a bowl full of freshly cooked veggies. It was awesome.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of one carrot
  • Heaping spoonful of tahini (ground sesame butter)
  • Juice of one half lime
  • Pinch of chili powder and chipotle powder (or cayenne)

Whisk all the ingredients together, and use as a dipping sauce or dressing.

what i made for supper last night

white bowl of food and cat on table

When I get home from work, the most creative part of my evening begins. Because that’s when I decide what to make for supper.

Last night I did what I always do – started by looking through my fridge. It’s full of all kinds of vegetables. There are more vegetables – ones that don’t need to be kept cold – on the shelves in my kitchen. I think of them like paint colours. Only unlike paint, I can taste and smell and eat them, too. (Besides look at them.)

So last night I looked through my fridge, and then wondered if I wanted to make something with potatoes. I checked my potato bowl, which sits on one of my food shelves (not in the fridge), but I only had two left. I wanted to save them for today, which is a holiday.

I had a spaghetti squash, though. (I also had a butternut squash. Squashy excess, perhaps.)

So here’s what I did.

spaghetti squash scraps

I sautéed one yellow onion, and when it was golden, I added some slices of raw, peeled and cored spaghetti squash. I steamed them with some water in a skillet until the squash was soft, and came apart in strings.

Separately, I steamed some spinach, all by itself. (That was my side dish.)

I also roughly chopped some plum tomatoes, and simmered them in a saucepan with a bit of water and some carrot shavings.

I flavoured the tomato sauce with a pinch of Italian seasoning, a pinch of chipotle pepper, a dash of salt, and a bunch of freshly-ground nutmeg.

white bowl of food

I ladled the tomato sauce over the (salted) spaghetti squash, and that (along with the steamed greens) was dinner. Yum.

white bowl of food

Did I mention today is a holiday? :)

Other stuff I made for supper, on other nights.

comfort – homemade soup for lunch

bowl of soup on table

This is what I ate for lunch last Saturday: Homemade soup with potatoes, yellow pepper, celery, mushrooms and carrots.

(While it cooked, I was working on a design for a patchwork cushion cover.

I appreciate homemade soup.

~

Photo theme for March: Comfort

comfort – warm spices

cauliflower casserole

I love food, and complex flavours. When I cook, I often like to make up my own unique spice mixtures.

This is a photo of a green cauliflower and potato casserole I made this week, with a tomato / nutmeg / fennel seed sauce.

I appreciate spices.

~

Photo theme for March: Comfort

comfort – morning routine

canning jars

I love change, and I also love routines. I balance my need for both by mixing things up regularly. One of the routines I’m pretty consistent about, though, is my food preparation in the morning.

These are some of the foods I eat every day: nuts, seeds, and dried berries. I keep them in various sizes and shapes of canning jars. Some of the jars are antiques that belonged to my grandmother. Some of them are newer jars that I’ve bought myself.

I always feel kind of witchy whenever I make my breakfast and lunch in the morning. All these jars, all these wondrous ingredients – a bit of this, a pinch of that, a spoonful of the other.

I appreciate my daily food preparation rituals.

~

Photo theme for March: Comfort

comfort – vegan, corn-free taco salad

vegan gluten free taco salad

I made this for supper last night. I can’t tell you how amazing it tasted. It was totally dairy and gluten free, but tasted pretty authentic. Yum.

I appreciate good food.

~

Update: A reader asked me for this recipe, so I’ve included it below. It makes one serving (and the amounts are kind of sketchy, since I don’t measure anything when I cook). Adjust as necessary for more servings.

Ingredients:
Coconut oil
1 small yellow onion
1 potato
1/2 sweet potato
1 romaine heart (or about 1/3 to 1/2 a head of romaine)
1/2 cup sauerkraut (optional)
2 plum tomatoes or 1 large beefsteak tomato
Chili pepper or chili pepper flakes
Emeril Lagasse’s Essence (“Bam!”) (optional)
Salt

Chop the onion into a fine dice, and sauteé in some coconut oil until golden. Chop the potato and sweet potato into bite-sized pieces, and boil with the onion in a saucepan until the potatoes are very soft (about 20 – 30 minutes).

In the meantime, wash and cut the romaine into thin (1/2 inch) strips, and put in salad bowl. Lightly salt lettuce, and add some shreds of sauerkraut (optional).

When the potatoes are cooked, drain (save the cooking liquid if you want a runnier “cheese”) and mash. Add finely chopped chili pepper or chili flakes to taste, and add a few dashes of Emeril Lagasse’s Essence (optional – my dad makes me this; he uses it at the dinner table in place of salt and pepper), and salt to taste. Mix well, and then add some of the cooking liquid if you want a runnier texture. Put potato mixture on top of lettuce.

Thinly slice the tomato(es) and quickly sauteé them at high heat in a skillet with a bit more coconut oil until the tomatoes are just starting to soften. Immediately pour onto salad, on top of potato mixture. Salt to taste.

Done!

You can also add guacamole if you like…

~

Other stuff I made for supper, on other nights.

Photo theme for March: Comfort

how to cook rapini (broccoli rabe)

Okay, so in this video I show you how to broil rapini, also known as broccoli rabe (or raap), broccoletti, broccoli di rape, cime di rapa, rappi, friarielli, and grelos.

(I totally Googled that. Just saying.)

Rapini looks sort of like broccoli, only smaller and wilder looking. I normally don’t like it – it can be kind of bitter – but in this recipe it’s really sweet.

For this recipe you’ll need:

one bunch of rapini
some olive oil
and some salt

You’ll also need a baking sheet, a bowl to toss the rapini in, an oven and some kind of timing device (if you don’t want to have to keep checking the rapini every couple of seconds). Just saying.

Set your oven to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzle olive oil over the rapini, toss the rapini in a bowl with your hands to cover everything with the oil, and then arrange everything on your baking sheet and bake the rapini for about 35 to 40 minutes.

When the rapini is done, the leaves should be all thin and crispy and starting to brown, and the stalks should be tender. Ish.

Some benefits of this recipe are… okay, eating greens.

Also: Not a lot of dishes to clean up afterwards.

Some possible ways this recipe could fail:

Cats love rapini. Apparently. So, your cats could eat all your rapini if you leave it unattended before you cook it.

Also: I spilled salt all over my floor when I was photographing the salt.

Also: I put my BlackBerry down on the counter and accidentally got olive oil on it.

The End.

rapini

This post was originally published on my vegetarian cooking blog, frugal vegetarian cooking.

Other stuff I made for supper, on other nights.