So as you may know I’m trying to go a whole month without eating any dairy products. Now this is pretty hard because not only do I love cheese but dairy is used in so many things you wouldn’t think of unless you read labels while shopping (which you should do. Know what you’re eating!) I’m cutting out dairy for 2 reasons. 1. I may be allergic…it makes me feel sick when I eat it. 2.Dairy is very bad for you and has very little nutritional benefits. Actually it’s been linked to cancers\heart disease\skin problems\obesity and much more. Since I love cooking this challenge is sort of working out for me. It’s like a science project trying to find substitutes for what dairy does chemically in food (binding agent\adds creamy texture). I’m sure everyone is like “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS? ISN’T IT EXPENSIVE? DOESN’T THIS STUFF TASTE BAD?” The answer is simply NO! I haven’t spent anymore money at the grocery store than I normally do and I’m eating wonderful food. Most of what I’m eating is actually vegan (with the exception of some salmon the other day as well as some eggs the other night). There aren’t a lot of foods that are targeted at people who just don’t eat dairy. That’s why most of the dairy alternatives I’ve been eating are vegan items. I feel fuller longer and I don’t end each meal feeling grossly stuffed\greasy\nasty\bloated\gassy\congested\itchy\heavy. Now I don’t really have any plans to go completely vegan but I think adding many vegan or vegetarian meals to my diet is a very good idea.
I have a confession. After many days of doing so well and feeling much better\less sick I ate some dairy. I felt so guilty. I felt like I was cheating on my life and that I gave up caring for myself. After I ate it I felt sick all day long. And I wondered if that’s how I usually felt. Maybe I was so use to feeling like Shit that I didn’t know how much food could effect my moods. I was worried with all of this that I wouldn’t get to be the great cook that I love being and that I wouldn’t be able to share food with my boyfriend or friends. But I really believe I’ve been making some amazing stuff. And Grant is being SOOO supported of this. And he’s even open to trying some of the stuff I’ve been making. The other day I made a vegan pizza with all vegan versions of crust, “sausage”, pizza sauce, cashew cheese, and daiya mozzarella. And I made Grant a regular mini pizza with real cheese. His looked so good. It was so bubbly and pretty and well mine was a lumpy sort of mess. But once I started eating I was soooooo happy. It honestly tasted great. I used olive oil and garlic and lots of yummy herbs so it was seasoned well and I had a nice little side salad. Afterwards I felt great. I didn’t feel the way I normally do after eating pizza.
I know that to be successful in this endeavor I have to help myself out. I need to keep a stock of certain items in my fridge and cabinets that are already prepped and easy to assemble. Fresh washed veggies, fruit, greens, chickpeas, white beans, agave, dairy free tortillas or flat breads, larabars (awesome vegan bars made of fruit and nuts, daiya vegan cheese, tofutti vegan cream cheese, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, olive oil, nuts, and gimmie lean ground sausage style vegan “meat” (this stuff is seriously awesome and the texture is great), panko bread crumbs, a variety of flours (wheat, chickpea, almond, coconut…they all taste great and can be used in a variety of ways), tempeh, seitan, frozen veggies, herbs (fresh and dried), soy milk, and tofu. That’s it. With these 20 or so items I can make just about every kind of meal imaginable. It’s important for me to think ahead so I don’t get to hungry and eat something I’ll regret. I have to plan my meals and snacks. But it really doesn’t take that much time.
Tonight I was honestly stumped about dinner. I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to cook. But I found a little motivation and found my way to the fridge. I wanted to use up some green squash and gimmie lean sausage substitute I had in the fridge that were nearing expiration. At first I thought about a casserole but I knew that If I made a whole casserole it wouldn’t all get eaten. And I don’t like throwing out food. So I decided to make some quiche style filled tortilla cups with a cupcake pan. And oh man. They were delicious.
12 vegan tortillas (I cut mine into about 4 inch circle so I could fold them into my cupcake pans). This doesn’t mean I bought specialty tortillas. I just read the labels and made sure there was no dairy or animal bi-products in the one I bought. They were like 2$.
1\2 cup gimmie lean sausage substitute browned in a pan with a little olive oil or smart balance butter alternative
1/2 cup thinly sliced little green squash (i used my mandolin to get it really thin)
1/2 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 TBS veganaise (vegan mayo substitute)
1 TBS cashew cheese (that I made!)
1 TBS vegan cream cheese substitute
1 TBS panko bread crumbs plush a little for sprinkling
3 leaves chopped fresh sage
pinch of salt/pepper/garlic powder
splash of soy milk
1/4 cup plus some for sprinkling Daiya vegan mozzarella style vegan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a cupcake pan with dairy free Pam. Fold the tortillas into the pan to form little bowls. If your tortillas rip on the bottom just tear a little piece from another one and place it on the hole. Place all the liquid and dairy substitutes in a bowl and mix until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Scoop into tortilla cups. Sprinkle a little Daiya mozzarella and panko on top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is firm and the tortillas are toasty.
I only made 6 and place the rest of my mixture in the fridge for tomorrow. I Thought if I made to many the tortillas would get soggy in the fridge as leftovers. These were soooo tasty. The tortillas was crispy and the filling was savory and had a great texture. I paired them with a small salad. I put two on my plate and went back for a third. So yummy! No cholesterol, no dairy, meat free, and full of flavor.
Everything in the bowl along with some of the products I used.
The assembled cups before I baked them.
The finished product.
I loved that this meal was completely vegan. But you can use the same techniques with real dairy, add an egg, and real sausage and make your own version.