Vegan Fun

I’m still ambivalent about the vegetarian-not-quite-vegan-diet. I’m not having any trouble sticking with it – I’ve been eating lots of fresh vegetables for years. I’ve always avoided grains, but when I did have them, I had whole grain. So there’s not much that’s different. I’m just eating less meat and dairy.  I have meat once a week or so, maybe some cheese occasionally. Pancakes on Sunday are a tradition around here, and those are made with buttermilk and eggs. So it will not happen, that I go completely vegan.

But I’m enjoying the food. I’m eating a bit less than usual, and I’m far more satisfied between meals. This means I’m not sneaking prodigious amounts of nuts or sugar throughout the day. I have lost about a pound, which is discouraging since I’ve been doing this for almost a month. But as usual, my exercise is not where it should be.

I’m used to being adventurous with vegetables, so I’m not having trouble finding recipes to try. It’s a big help that it’s just me and Rick. No kids to complain about the food. Rick does not complain, but he would love to have meat every day. Maybe twice a day. But that hasn’t happened in so long, he doesn’t even bother to desire it. He’s not thrilled with the increased cutback, but like I said – he doesn’t complain.

He’s a good husband. But y’know – he’s the one with the heart problem.

Speaking of heart problems, I just coincidently had a blood test done, and my numbers are the best they’ve ever been. I doubt that a month of a mostly-vegan diet is enough to make a big difference, but there it is.  Can’t hurt, right?

Here’s an example of a recent dish:

Yes, it’s basically a pizza. The crust is whole wheat phyllo dough, so it’s called a tart. There are several steps, but this doesn’t take very long to prepare.

1. Place 1 red bell pepper under the broiler, turning every ten minutes until it is roasted on all sides. Let cool.

2. While the pepper is roasting, thoroughly wash a bunch of spinach. Place in a bowl, cover, and microwave for 4 minutes. Place in a colander and run cool water over it, then squeeze it dry.

3. Place spinach and 8 oz feta cheese in a food processor. Blend together, then add salt, pepper, 1/2 cup milk, and 1 tsp rosemary. Blend and set aside.

4. Place 1/2 sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside to soften.

5. Slice 1 onion, 2 zucchini, and 8 oz mushrooms. Sautee in 1/2 cup white wine until softened – about ten minutes. Place the mixture on a clean dish towel to drain. You want it as dry as possible.

6. Peel and slice the bell pepper. Drain and squeeze dry the sun-dried tomatoes.

7. Drain and slice a jar of artichoke hearts.

8. Spray a cookie sheet with oil and place a sheet of phyllo dough on it. (I used 1/2 of a 1 lb package by cutting the whole stack in half.) Brush or spray with oil. Repeat with all the dough and crimp the edges.

9. Spread the spinach mixture over the dough. Add the onion mixture over that, then the bell pepper, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.

10. Back in 375 oven for about 30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Sprinkle the tart with sliced fresh basil and pine nuts.

This is so loaded with vegetables, that its calorie count quite reasonable. You do have to watch the oil on the phyllo dough. I was very stingy, because those calories can really add up. But it’s the only fat in this recipe.

What did I do with the rest of the phyllo? I layered with oil, like the first batch (with a little butter, too). I sliced the raw dough into 12 pieces. Then I baked it at 375 for about 8 minutes, until it was brown.  I’m going to use the squares for a strawberry shortcake (well, tart) on Mother’s Day.

It won’t be vegan – we’re having whipped cream with it.

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