Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegan on the Cheap & and Cooking Class

Time has completely gotten away from me recently. It seems like every time I turn around there is another task that has landed on my to-do list. I have come to the conclusion that I am not going to be able to cover everything we have been up to recently. Instead I am going to hit the highlights in the next few posts and then get current again.

First I want to share the “secret” that I have been holding back on. The people that follow me on Facebook already know. The new addition to the family is a sailboat, specifically a 38 foot Hunter. We had a sailboat in the past but our last one was more of a racing sailboat and this one is a cruiser. There has been tons of activity surrounding the purchase of the boat because she is in Grenada now and we have had lots to do from here to get her ready to come home to the Chesapeake.   Before someone asks I have no idea who is in the picture above other than someone who works for the firm that is coordinating everything for us in Grenada.

We settled on the name for the boat “Dolce Far Niente” which is Italian for the sweetness of doing nothing or pleasant idleness which is exactly what we plan to do on the boat. I am sure you will be seeing a lot of food that travels well once the boat arrives. Expect to see pictures of sailing cats as well since the fur children will be going with us on the boat. Something tells me the cats will be less than enthused about the boat but they will need to adapt. *fingers crossed* Let’s hope they decide to see things my way. ;-)  You guys know who is really in charge here right?  Hint, they have four feet not two.

I have been teasing Dan about how many other sailing vegans there will be on the bay.  I suspect we will be somewhat of an oddity at our marina.  Good thing I relish in being different I suppose!  :-) 

We are both looking forward to getting our new family member home.  Once she is here I imagine weekend blogging may be a problem due to connection speed when we are on the bay.  I guess this is something I will find out soon enough.

Cooking Class:

Last week I was back to cooking class. This particular class was “early summer salads”. Sounds like an easy one to make vegan right? Well it was. I am going to show you both the omni and vegan versions to give you an idea of how to make a dinner for everyone in your family since I know most of you have an omni spouse.

The first recipe was a roasted veggie salad. The omni version contained goat cheese.

The recipe for me omitted the cheese and added mushrooms. A simple switch and one dish was vegan and one not.  I would swap mushrooms for goat cheese any day.  :-)

To accompany this salad was a quinoa and garbanzo salad with fresh herbs which was naturally vegan because the quinoa was cooked in veg stock.  You could serve this with both salads and call it a meal.

The second salad was not so easy to make vegan because the star was a poached egg and crispy capicola with cheese crisp (frico).

Instead of trying to mimic egg or pork we substituted artichokes and cauliflower and added olives for saltiness.

The last dish was a salmon and veg spedini (Italian skewer) over a fruit and green salad with slices of avocado and feta.

My version was an all veg spedini over the same fruit and green salad. However my version also contained quinoa, garbanzo and chickpeas. You could also add cubes of baked tofu or tempeh to the skewers. Even the omnis were eyeing this salad which made me giggle inside.

After you have been vegan for a while it becomes much easier to modify dishes so that you have a vegan and omni version without much extra work. I hope the recipes above show you how easy it is to satisfy everyone in your family without making yourself crazy.

Vegan on the Cheap:

A few days ago on Facebook I received a question regarding how to eat a healthy vegan diet on the cheap. Since this question is one that I get often I thought I should write about this sooner rather than later.  Besides who doesn't like to save money?

There are many strategies for eating a healthy vegan diet inexpensively but the most important one is making your own food. What I mean by this is the following:


• Buy processed food (meat substitutes, faux dairy, protein bars, cookies, Kombucha, soda, chips, etc.)
• Eat out at restaurants (unlike us)
• Buy prepared food (salad bar, canned beans, hummus, etc.)
• Get all your produce at Whole Foods (you will go broke)


• Shop at farmers’ markets to get the best local produce at the best prices
• Make your own canned food from the produce you buy at the farmers’ market (canned tomatoes, no-sugar peaches, pickles, dried tomatoes, etc.)
• Eat in season as much as possible, the food tastes better, has better nutrition and costs less
• Buy from the bulk section of your grocery or health food store
• Shop Amazon Grocery for deals on dry goods will save you the drive to the store, they can be cheaper
• Find a friend with a membership to a warehouse store (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s, etc.)
• Keep frozen veggies on hand for quick meals
• Prepare whole grains and beans (dried) in bulk and stash them in your refrigerator or freezer
• Learn to make your own bread (whole wheat foccacia is very simple and tastes great…assuming you eat bread that is)
• Have a few quick and easy recipes for those nights when you don’t have time to cook (this will save you from processed food and restaurant food)
• Learn to love a variety of salads
• Make a big of soup or stew each week, you can save the leftovers in the freezer
• Instead of kombucha or soda make your own flavored green or white iced tea to keep on hand
• Learn to make your own soy or almond milk
• Make your own nut cheese since the store bought stuff is expensive

I get a lot of questions about eating a healthy vegan diet on a budget. The funny thing is that we spend less of food now that we are vegan than when we were omni. However I don’t but processed food and that helps a lot. We would spend even less if we didn’t go out to eat so often but that isn’t like to happen and we would miss everyone at the restaurant if we stayed home. ;-)

In my mind the bottom line of changing your diet is to improve your health. This improved health will result in lower health care costs and a better quality of life. In the end you will spend less money living a healthy vegan lifestyle even if you do shop at Whole Foods and buy some processed food. A healthy vegan lifestyle can be as cost effective as you need/want it to be.

Happy Thoughts:

• Thursday was another good day for me. I had a very nice 4+ hour lunch with my girlfriend Deirdre. It was good to have time to get caught up since we haven’t seen each other much since she quit work to go back to college for her PhD. Don’t you love that she did that? Talk about chutzpah!

• Friday we had another wonderful day which we capped with dinner out to celebrate. Shocking right? We never go to dinner? Joking! We hadn’t actually planned to go out to dinner but we wanted to see Emily...long story.

• Saturday was a low key day which is exactly what we needed. Dan didn’t go to the office, which was very nice. We had a nice lunch with my parents and lounged around after that. Definitely a nice break from all the running around we have been doing lately.

• Sunday we had dinner with our friend Walid. His wife went to the beach so he had time to come out and play. Yes, we went to our usual place. Walid and Jackie used to live a couple of blocks from us so we have had many dinners there together. We all love Ian’s food in case you hadn’t noticed. ;-) Not to mention Sunday night was Emily’s last night so it was nice to be there for that. We had gone out to eat on Friday in case Walid had different ideas about Sunday. We will absolutely be staying in touch with Emily. In fact Emily is a graduate of MICA and is a wonderful photographer. I can’t wait to see the shots she takes from the boat. :-)

• The farmers’ market was great Sunday morning. We came home with our usual 6 bags of produce. The produce is really starting to come in now. I love having so much fresh local produce in the house. When we were are the market we ran into our friend’s Sue and her husband John. It was good to see them even though I was wearing a T-shirt, yoga pants and no make up. When John mentioned that it was nice to know that I could be casual *gasp* I initially felt a little under dressed but got over it quickly. I am not sure when I got over my need to be “made up” all the time. However it does save me time getting out the door to the market which is a good thing since I am not a morning person.

Signing out:

We just got home from dinner with Walid at 10:30pm. How we ever get up in the morning is beyond me. ;-) That is what happens when a bunch of night owls get together for dinner. We had a great time chatting with Walid and spending some time with Emily.

Both Dan and I are going to miss Emily. Thankfully she lives close by so we will still see her. It will be nice to have more time to chat.  Emily, I am so glad we were there for your last night.  We need to plan lunch when your life settles down and you have more time.  Hugs!  :-)

I hope your weekend was a good as ours. We were able to get in a lot of relaxing and socializing. It was definitely a good weekend for us. Talk to you soon, hopefully tomorrow which is the plan now.  Good night!


  1. Ali, Thank you so much for this post! I am definitely going to take it to heart when I am thinking about meals next week. I just today got around to it because I started school again and had to get ready! Enjoy your evening.

  2. Joline,

    If you need any suggestions on making omni and vegan meals feel free to send me an email. I hope this gave you some inspiration.

    Good luck with school this summer!


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