So many passions, so little time!

I am new to blogging and didn't want to just pick one passion since I have so many! I love cooking gourmet and ethnic foods for family and friends. I have been low-carbing (Atkins or low glycemic diet) for 15 years. I have four young children ages 8, 7 , 3 and 1. I try to be environmentally conscious. I use cloth diapers, make my own non-toxic cleaners, and have a compost bin in the suburbs. I am a healthcare professional, working part-time, so I have plenty of advice on health, sometimes unsolicited. I also love to save money. I clip coupons, shop at discount stores, and I am an avid online shopper. I can find the best deal around! I am sure that is not all, but if I get the hang of this everyone will be privy to what I am passionate about...(doesn't this thing have spellcheck?)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day seven: 7 day Vegan/Eco- Atkins challenge

Day 7:

Leftover low carb pancakes

Curry grilled tofu salad with veganaise and walnuts

Leftover pizza for kids/ falafel for me

I just bought the grilled tofu at our local health food store-  Feel Rite.  It is so delicious (even if you are not vegan or vegetarian)!  Spiced just right and great grill marks.  For the salad, I just put veganaise, curry powder, salt, pepper, and walnuts together in a bowl.  Done with the challenge... It was really fun and took me out of my culinary box, and I even managed to continue to use my low carb principles as well.  The kids really loved the almond milk, but I told them it was too expensive to drink every day.  Otherwise, they are glad to go back to our "normal" eating habits.  Thanks to my family for doing the challenge with me.  (The kids even brought their lunches to school so they could stick to it!) 

Day six: 7 day Vegan/Eco- Atkins challenge

Day 6:

Soy protein shake (cereal with almond milk for kids)

Leftover nut loaf with broccoli

Leftover seitan tikka masala

No recipes!  Made use of leftovers today.  My husband worked 12 hrs today, so easiest to have leftovers with the kids.  They really liked the tikka masala, and although they (at least the older 2) weren't fans of the nut loaf, I thought it was great and gladly took it to work for lunch.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day five: 7 day Vegan/Eco- Atkins challenge

Day 5:

Cream of wheat for the kids with raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon-  flax vegan low carb muffin  for me

Leftover vegetable soup with wheat crackers (no pasta or crackers for me)

Vegan pizza on whole wheat crust with vegan pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms, onions, and black olives  (Leftover chili for me)

My husband thought the soup aggravated the moving bowels, but I think that our bodies were just adjusting to a very different diet. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day four: 7 day Vegan/Eco- Atkins challenge

The falafel was a huge hit!  By far, this was the week's favorite meal.  Everyone loved it and fought over the leftovers.  I wasn't keen on making homemade baba ganoush, because I thought it would be difficult and time-consuming, but I just charred the eggplant on the grill and it was done in no time.  The vegetable soup really doesn't have a recipe, but I can just make one up, I guess.

Day 4:

Breakfast: Blueberry whole wheat/flax/oat  pancakes for kids with syrup – flax/almond low carb pancakes for me (these were not very good.  I just mixed some flax, almond meal, baking soda, and almond milk, and fried on the griddle.  )  See Day one for pancake recipe I used for the kids- those on the other hand were enjoyed by the rest of the family.

Lunch: Vegan vegetable soup with whole wheat penne (no pasta for me) with leftover corn muffins.
I just sauteed some onion, celery, and put vegetable bouillon in, frozen mixed vegetables,  cabbage, and cut tomatoes.  I made whole wheat pasta for the rest of the family to put in the soup, but I did not eat this.

Dinner: Falafel with tahini sauce, homemade hummus & baba ganoush served with cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes.  Whole wheat pita for the kids. 
Falafel was made according to the box directions (Zyad, I think).  It was inexpensive and delicious.

Tahini sauce:

1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
4 gloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt ( 1/2tsp + 1/4tsp or 3x 1/4 tsp)
2 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoon cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon warm water


Use food processor to combine garlic and tahini. Then add salt, parsley, cilantro, and cumin to the mixture.

Add olive oil, lemon juice, and water. If the mixture is too thick slowly add more warm water until you get the thickness that you like.

I make hummus so much, I actually don't use a recipe, but here goes:

Easy Hummus

1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained

1 tsp lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil



In a blender or food processor combine garbanzo beans, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Blend on low speed, gradually adding water, until desired consistency is achieved. Taste to see if extra salt/lemon juice is needed.  Enjoy!  You can add roasted red peppers, cayenne, or any other spice you desire to mix it up.

Baba Ganoush


1 eggplant (large or 2 –small)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil


1.     Char eggplant on gas grill or on gas stovetop.  Cook until soft. 
2.     Peel skin off.   If some char remains, it is OK, it will add smokey flavor.
3.     Place eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds, and garlic in an electric blender, and puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer eggplant mixture to a medium size mixing bowl, and slowly mix in olive oil.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day three: 7 day Vegan/Eco- Atkins challenge

Day 3:

 By this time, our bowels are really moving, which surprises me since we do eat a lot of vegetables and fruits on Atkins anyway, but maybe the meat has an opposing constipating effect that is now unopposed?  As I mentioned before, the whole family participated.  The baby was allowed breast milk.  I figured I was eating vegan, so it was within the rules.  My three year old pooped her pants today, and in the potty four times.  She never has accidents.  I think she thought she was having gas, and had an accident while trying to pass gas.  We are all really gassy. 
The Seitan Masala was loved by all.  The seitan stood up to the low cooker- was still firm and meat-y and the spices of the curry permeated into it, and it tasted great!

Breakfast: Flax low carb microwave muffin (double recipe) with vegan margarine spread – leftover pancakes for the kids

Lunch: Ham (not ) salad with Veganaise and mustard with 1 slice of low carb bread (Gabi’s recipe)

Dinner: Seitan tikka masala made with Patak’s curry paste and coconut milk instead of heavy cream or yogurt.  Indian Broccoli.

See previous posts for muffin and pancake recipes.

Ham (not) was made per directions on package.  This was not really a hit with my husband or kids.  The chicken (not) was much more tasty.  The smoke flavor was imitation tasting or something- maybe too smokey?

Gabi's World-Famous Bread  (from

  • 1 pkg dry yeast (Rapid Rise/Highly Active)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar *
  • 1 1/8 cup "baby bottle warm" water (90-100°F)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Splenda
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 3/4 cup soy flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup coarse unprocessed wheat bran
Pour yeast into bottom of bread machine pan. Add sugar and water. Stir, and let sit. (This is "proofing" your yeast to see if your yeast is alive. If it's not bubbling, it's dead and you can replace it without wasting all of the other ingredients).

In the meantime, mix all other dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add oil to bread machine pan. Add mixed dry ingredients. Set your machine to the basic cycle (3-4 hours) and bake.

Cool on a rack and enjoy.


* The sugar is totally consumed by the yeast and does not contribute to the carb count. I keep a few packets of restaurant sugar on-hand for this purpose so I never have to have a supply of actual sugar in the house.

Makes 16 slices. 3.4 grams net carbs per slice.

ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM LORA: The above basic instructions are Gabi Moeller's original ones. Please remember that your machine may require changes. Refer to the instructions that come with your bread machine — making note of any special instructions for specialty or "gluten" breads. I own a West Bend Deluxe with horizontal baking pan. To get mine perfect, I add water and oil to bottom of pan, then dry ingredients, then yeast sprinkled evenly on top. After initial kneading cycle (about 40 minutes), I stop the machine's kneading paddles so as not to over-work the dough, then finish baking in bread machine. The loaf comes out picture perfect, high and traditionally bread-like. With low-carb bread, I definitely discovered that practice makes perfect.


Follow the recipe in the same order as for the bread machine.

After you mix and knead all of the ingredients together, put the dough in a clean bowl and set it into a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes to an hour (one option is to turn on your oven for a pre-heat for a minute and a half to get it warm, then turn it completely off before setting the dough in to let it rise in the oven.) The dough should rise to about twice its original size. Afterward, knead slightly (do not over-knead — the gluten content will keep this bread from rising well the second time unlike "regular" bread! You'll want to be careful not to handle the dough too much after it rises the first time.) Put it in a loaf pan, cover and set in warm draft free place for another 30 to 45 minutes, and then bake at 380 degrees until done. (35-45 minutes — depending on your oven, you may have to shorten or lengthen the time.)

Seitan Tikka Masala (made in slow cooker)

Make per Patak’s Tikka Masala Curry paste (available in the international section at most grocery stores and at specialty stores)  I bought 2- 8oz packages of Seitan.  You can also make it (supposedly easily) if you Google a recipe.  I found one at which has many vegan recipes to boot.

2- 8 oz pkg Seitan

2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ jar Patak’s Tikka Masala Curry paste (10 oz jar)

1 large onion

1 cup water

1 cup fresh or canned tomatoes

½ cup coconut milk

Sauté onion and seitan until golden.  Place all ingredients except coconut milk in the slow cooker.  Cook for 8-10 hours on high, 5-6 hours on low.  Right before serving, add coconut milk to make creamy.  You may serve this with basmati rice and/or naan if you are not doing low carb.

Indian Broccoli (I usually make this with cauliflower)

2 broccoli crowns, chopped

1 tsp vegetable or olive oil

¼ tsp mustard seeds

1/8 tsp cumin seeds

1 clove garlic

½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp coriander powder

1 tbsp lemon juice

Salt to taste

Heat oil and seeds in pan until they are popping.  Add garlic, and broccoli, and rest of ingredients.  Cook until desired tenderness.  I like mine a little tender and carmelized (you may have to cover to get more tender).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day two: 7 day Vegan/Eco- Atkins challenge

The muffin was a treat for me, since I really don't eat "bready" -type things (if that is a word).  The older kids didn't really like the nutloaf, but the two little ones gobbled it up & I thought it looked and tasted delicious.  I would make it again even if I wasn't doing the vegan challenge. 

Day 2:

Breakfast:  Soy protein shake w/ chocolate & peanut butter -  cereal with almond milk for the kids

Lunch :  Atkins sweet & salty bar, flax low carb microwave muffin, handful of macadamias

Dinner:  Nut, flax, mushroom, soybean loaf and broccoli, tossed salad with Italian dressing

Flax low carb Microwave muffin

  1 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil

  1 tsp baking powder

  1/2 cup flaxmeal or ground flax seeds

  1 tsp  cinnamon

2 tbsp water or almond milk

  1 pkt Truvia or 1 tsp no calorie sweetener

Mix all in microwave safe mug.  Heat on high for 1-2 minutes or until puffed.  Serve with vegan buttery spread and/or sugar free jam.

Mushroom flax soybean nut loaf (vegan/low carb version)

Of course, you could add eggs as a binder and spices to your preference and even parmesan or Worcestershire sauce (contains anchovies) if you are not making a vegan version.  This turned out very delicious with lots of flavor and the texture was nice as well.  I stuck to low carb, but oats or breadcrumbs could be added as a filler as well. 

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg mushrooms, finely chopped or in food processor
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
1 can black soybeans, drained (optional)
¼ cup vital wheat gluten (binder- optional)

½ cup flaxseed meal

½ cup almond or soy milk
spices to taste, I used a vegan meatloaf seasoning mix with dried onion, and vegetable bouillon
1 tblsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste.

Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté an additional 5 minutes until mushrooms are cooked.
For better flavor, suggest roast nuts before grinding in a pan or oven- take care not to burn them.  I am sure it would taste OK if you didn’t do this.   Process nuts and soybeans in food processor until coarsely ground.  Mix mushroom mixture, nut mixture and remaining ingredients. Spoon into oiled loaf pan. Press the mixture into pan and form into a loaf. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until brown and fragrant, but moist inside. Stand 5 minutes.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day one: 7 day Vegan/Eco-Atkins Challenge

I am very excited for this challenge.  I love to cook and this will take me out of my element and force me to be more creative.  The kids are excited, too.  I went shopping and bought tempeh, tofu (which I do use as a pasta substitute on
Atkins, so I am not so unfamiliar with this), seitan.  I have some vegan/vegetarian items from Dixie Diner that we use anyway in the cabinet, but needed to by vegan cheese, Italian sausage, cold cuts, mayo, sour cream, cream cheese.  The grocery bill was very steep even though there was no meat!  I did most of my shopping at Wegmans.  They have a good selection of natural/vegan foods, but was disappointed with the selection at Feel-Rite.    I usually get my staples (produce, cereal, milk, eggs) at Aldi.  Their prices are great and quality is good too.  The milk is hormone free.  Meat I buy at Tops or a small market called Sloan Super Market, which has super prices and everything is fresh with a quick turnover.

Day 1:

Breakfast: Soy protein shake w/ chocolate & peanut butter – vegan strawberry chocolate pancakes for the kids

Lunch: Chicken (not) salad with Veganaise

Dinner: Vegan chili with ground beef (not), vegan cheese/sour cream, corn muffins with corn for the rest of the family (too many carbs for me), lettuce/tossed salad with Italian dressing

I definitely like the whey protein shakes I use for Atkins better than this vegan kind (Wegmans soy protein powder unsweetened natural vanilla).  They have a smoother taste.  I get my shake mix at WalMart & it is 25g of protein per scoop.

We have had the Chicken(not) salad from Dixie Diner before and it is good.  A switch-up from meat occasionally or on Fridays during lent.  The Veganaise was VERY good and I was raised on Hellmans.  If it wasn’t so expensive, I would use it all the time. Dixie Diner often has 25% off coupon codes which usually end up being a better deal than free shipping.  We have been customers for years.

The chili was a big hit.  I wanted something easy to make since I had to work this day.   The texture of the meat substitute was good, so the hearty flavor of the chili really stood out, and everyone’s plate was clean!

Vegan Strawberry Chocolate Multigrain Pancakes

1 cup  whole wheat flour

1 cup quick oats

1 cup frozen strawberries pulsed/chopped in food processor

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cup almond or soymilk

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat (preferably cast iron) griddle on medium to medium/low.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Let rest a few minutes so oatmeal can soak in liquid.  Take 1/3 cup measure of batter and place on oiled griddle until bubbled/set.  Flip once.

I usually double the recipe so that leftovers are in the fridge and we can just pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast.  I switch up ingredients each week. Eg: banana peanut butter, apple raisin, blueberry.

Soy Protein shake

1 heaping scoop Vanilla or unflavored soy, hemp or other vegan protein powder (sugar free or unsweetened)  - for vegan it cannot be whey protein (a milk derivative)
2 tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp cocoa powder

1 pkt Truvia or sweetener of choice

14 oz water, almond or soy milk


Put all ingredients into blender or personal size shake mixer.  Grind until ice is pulverized (ice makes the shake taste better.)

Chicken (not) salad

Follow directions on package.

Vegan Chili (crockpot recipe)

½ pkg beef (not) or TVP (textured vegetable) protein- enough to make around 2 lbs prepared with vegetable bouillon for flavor

2 onions, chopped

1 cup green pepper (sometimes I omit this)

2 cloves garlic

3 tblsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 large (28 oz) can pureed tomatoes, sauce, or cut tomatoes

1 tsp basil or 1 bay leaf

2 cans black soybeans (they are high in protein and fiber, but low in carbohydrates)

Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle of olive oil (since I thought there wasn’t enough fat from any meat)

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and simmer on low for 8-10 hours (high for 5 hours).  Discard bay leaf if used.  Serve with vegan cheddar cheese, and vegan sour cream.  Serves 8-10

Corn muffins

I made with a package mix without eggs/milk ingredients.  I just used baking powder.  I added frozen corn for texture.