Tag Archives: Vegetarianism

Cookbook Review: Carb-Conscious Vegetarian (71/99)

Carb Conscious Vegetarian

“The downfall of some vegetarian diets is a tendency to rely on white rice or pasta as the focus of the meal. After all, pasta and rice dishes can be quick, tasty, and economical. While it’s true that a little pasta or rice in moderation is harmless for most people, sometimes you can find yourself eating more refined carbs than anything else and ultimately putting on extra pounds — a telltale signal that it’s time to reevaluate what you’re eating.”  — Robin Robertson, Carb Conscious Vegetarian

This, in the proverbial nutshell, describes my approach to being vegetarian for two decades. Rice and (gluten-free) pasta are the mainstays of my go-to meals, and the former has definitely increased since going gluten-free several years ago.

Now, as I’ve mentioned in some very recent posts, I need to focus on reducing my carbs and lowering my cholesterol.  My triglyceride levels are in a super-high range and combined with the cholesterol numbers, I’m pretty sure statins are in my future.  Needless to say, I’m not pleased about any of this. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be many cookbooks that are gluten-free AND vegetarian AND low-carb AND low cholesterol. I feel like I need to create my own repertoire of recipes. Expect to hear more about all this in future posts.

So, I’m trying to embrace this and using the need for new recipes as justification for borrowing piles of cookbooks at a time from our library, which has a very extensive cookbook collection spanning every possible cuisine, device, food group, diet and lifestyle, etc. We’re very fortunate in that regard.

Carb Conscious Vegetarian by Robin Robertson seems to be a good place to start. It’s from 2005, and a bit on the basic side with no photographs, but these 150 recipes “contain no refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice, sugar, or pasta.”  Recipes using soy (including vegetarian crumbles and burgers, tofu, and tempeh) are included. Robertson describes this as a “moderately low-carb/all good carb” cookbook and includes an extensive list of food items and the carb counts for specific amounts.  She also includes an explanation of the glycemic index, including the number for certain foods. Most of the recipes are either already gluten-free or easily modified to be GF.

Recipes I’m interested in trying (none of these have any cholesterol) include:

Guacamame  (9 g. carbs) – avocado with the addition of edamame

Summer Vegetable Bisque (14 g. carbs) – the creaminess of the bisque is accomplished by pureeing the vegetables and stock

Bountiful “Big Bowl” Chili (28 g. carbs)

Victory Garden Stew (23 g. carbs)

Tabbouleh-Style Quinoa Salad (28 g. carbs)

Sloppy Josephines (18 g. carbs) – a variation on Sloppy Joes, with a note that it tastes better the next day. This sounds like it would be good to make ahead and eat for an early dinner, particularly when we are going someplace where we are unsure of the vegetarian food options.

Rich Man’s Pesto (2 g. carbs)

Wintertime Spinach Pesto (2 g. carbs)

Creamy Cucumber-Dijon Dressing (2 g. carbs)

White Wine Vinegar and Fresh Herb Marinade – for grilled vegetables (2 g. carbs)

Spinach-Mushroom “Frittata” – egg free (10 g. carbs)

Carb Conscious Vegetarian: 150 Delicious Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle
Robin Robertson 
243 pages

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #71 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

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feeding the mother of all adrenaline crashes


Holy mother of all adrenaline crashes.

When I tell you that I am in a nearly comatose-like zonked out state from my Listen to Your Mother experience this weekend, I am not exaggerating.

Well, okay, maybe a little. But Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, am I exhausted. I feel like I could sleep for the rest of the week. The month.

Hell, make that the rest of this year.

I don’t know how you people who do things like run marathons or perform for thousands are able to function after this kind of rush. I really don’t. I took today as a vacation day from work and after doing some errands, I spent most of the afternoon in bed.

I know this is the aftermath of an intense week, which included heightened stress — some good (pre-show prep) and some that I could have done without, thank you very much. I’ve had a jackhammer of a headache since Thursday.  I haven’t been sleeping more than a few hours per night nor eating very well. It’s Mercury retrograde. And this weather — steel-gray sky, colder than usual even for Pittsburgh — ain’t helping matters.

No wonder I want to retreat to my bed.

Time to recharge the batteries, starting with tonight’s dinner.

I wanted soup, something hearty and healthy and fast. Enter this bowl of deliciousness, right here.


Tortilla Soup from Cook the Pantry: Vegan Pantry-to-Plate Recipes in 20 Minutes (or Less!) by Robin Robertson.  (Note that the addition of shredded cheddar is my doing.)  I really like Robin Robertson’s recipes for their simplicity and speed.

I couldn’t find the exact recipe online and since I noticed that other bloggers include a publishers’ permission when posting Cook the Pantry recipes, I’ll refrain from posting it here because I’m not interested in being sued. It’s pretty basic; you probably have something similar in your culinary repertoire.

All these ingredients are staples in our house — olive oil; garlic; chili powder; salsa; diced tomatoes; frozen corn (I used canned because our frozen corn has been recalled); vegetable broth (I used homemade stock); and black beans.  I didn’t have scallions and we didn’t miss them.  I did have an avocado and vegetarian chicken strips, which I substituted for the Soy Curls listed as optional in the recipe.

Tortilla Soup and Salad - 5-9-2016It came together quickly, as promised.  I served the soup with a simple green salad (lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with a slight drizzle of olive oil for dressing) which was last night’s leftovers.

The Husband and I liked the Tortilla Soup. The kids, as expected, didn’t want anything to do with this.  Whatever. Their loss. They opted for leftover rotisserie chicken and nothing else. They’re 14 and perfectly capable of making their own dinner if they didn’t like what was offered.

Simple, convenient and fast. Can’t ever get tired of recipes like that.







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Weekend Cooking: Forks Over Knives

“Someone needs to stand up and say that the answer isn’t another pill. 
The answer is spinach.” 
– Bill Maher

Let food be thy medicine.
Hippocrates, 480 B.C. (or something like that)

I confess: I’ve let my low-cholesterol diet slip a bit.

(Okaaaaaay …a lot.)

I wouldn’t say I am completely off the wagon. It’s more like I’m hanging on by one arm while the horse is quickly gaining speed.

When I last went to the doctor in October, she brought up the issue of cholesterol medication. Again. And my high triglycerides. Again.

I don’t go to the doctor. I’m not interested in medication. My doctor wasn’t too interested in hearing about dietary changes, including the admittedly few that I had made. She seems to be the type who is a little too attached to her prescription pad.

Needless to say, I will be finding a new doctor.

He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the time of his doctor.
Ancient Chinese proverb

In the meantime, I’ve been talking via Facebook with one of my very best friends who has some similar issues and who, in that past two weeks with the support of her husband, decided to begin a “plant-strong” diet.

“You need to watch Forks Over Knives too,” she told me. Which I then did, on Wednesday.

Have you seen this documentary? (You probably have. I am the last person in the world to see every movie.) It’s eye-opening and, in my opinion, well-done. A lot of the information I’d already heard, but the way it is put together in the film – combined with real-life stories of people who have adopted a plant-based diet – is fascinating.

I know that there are some controversies surrounding this particular film and that there will always be people convinced that we need to continue consuming meat products and dairy. I’m not so sure. Forks Over Knives advocates a plant-based diet, meaning one that is primarily plant-based (no animal products), consists of minimally processed foods, and no oils.

I watched with my laptop, taking notes, but the statistics were coming too fast for me to type (even as I looked away during the visuals of the open heart operations; those were a little too graphic for my … um, taste). I found it especially interesting to see the historical connections.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Americans started to believe that we needed more protein in our diets. This coincided with seeing visuals of starving children throughout the world and the introduction of convenience and fast foods. Coronary artery disease became more prevalent, and in 1971, President Nixon and Congress declared a “war on cancer.”

Too many of us here in the United States are still fighting that war, especially when compared to other countries.

Awhile ago, my friend also told me how much she and her husband like the recipes in Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore books. This week, I discovered that my library had Everyday Happy Herbivore so, in an effort to recommit to eating better and because of being inspired by Forks Over Knives, I decided to try a few of the recipes and make some immediate changes.

On Wednesday, I made the Tex-Mex Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Everyday Happy Herbivore for dinner.

It’s incredibly simple. Instead of oil, I sauteed onions in the juice of canned diced tomatoes. I also added a little bit of garlic. Then, it’s a can of black beans and corn. (I had a bag of steamed corn in the freezer.) Top with mashed sweet potatoes, and that’s it.

I happened to think this was absolutely delicious. The kids thought it was okay but were fans of the aesthetics. (“It’s black and gold … Steelers colors!” Boo said, while he helped me stir. (That’s his hand in the photo above.) “This would be a great Super Bowl meal next time they win.”)  The Husband … well, he hated it. (He’s not quite on board with the idea of a plant-based diet while eschewing cholesterol medications. He’s somewhat of the mindset that, if the doctor says you need to be on a pill, you’re to run to the pharmacy that instant. I’m a bit – okay, a lot – more skeptical.

For Thursday night’s dinner, I made up my own vegan creation: a stir fry with a large portobello mushroom. He wasn’t too happy with that, either.

As my mid-morning snack on Friday, I had a large bowl of fruit that I purchased at Costco: strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and a plum. That filled me up until early-mid afternoon.

For our traditional Friday night pizza night, I still ordered pizza for the family but I added a garden salad large enough to share with everyone. Nobody accepted. I had a decent portion, plus two smallish size slices of pizza. (As opposed to the three slices I typically have.) I just did the same for lunch today.

Part of the issue is that these are foods The Husband doesn’t like. Vegetables, beans, tofu, fruits – not his thing. We’ve both been vegetarian for 14 years, but truthfully, most of the time that takes the form of being pasta-tarian. If there’s a classification called Italian-arian with a diet of pizza, ravioli, baked ziti, lasagna, macaroni and cheese … that’s us. We also eat a lot of vegetarian substitutes – veggie burgers and crumbles, faux chicken, etc., which can get pricey. For me, it’s just getting to be too much. I’m tired of having no energy; I’m tired of my migraines.

So, to each his and her own. I’ve decided that while I’m not going to force the issue – I’m not interested in being a nag or turning this into a battleground – that’s not going to stop ME from making the changes I want to make. There are bigger issues at play here; we have two kids; he just got over having cancer; and if I live past August 4 of this year, then I’ll officially be older than my dad when he died.

Food for thought, indeed.

Weekend Cooking is a feature hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone with a food-related post to share.

I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you! 

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Yes, Virginia, You Can Cook a Tofurky in a Crockpot

Seems that recently there have been quite a few hits here on the blog from folks who are, apparently, seeking some guidance on cooking that vegetarian (and vegan) Thanksgiving staple: the Tofurky

That’s completely understandable. If this is your first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian or a vegan, or if you’re expecting a vegetarian or vegan for dinner, I can see where this could cause some angst. 

It doesn’t need to. 

In the spirit of giving, allow me to try and be of some assistance by reprising part of a post I did last Thanksgiving. 

I’ve never had much of an issue with not eating meat on Thanksgiving. I’m not the Spokesperson for All Vegetarians, but its been my theory that other people experience more agita and stress over what the hell to feed us so-called strange birds than we do. Truthfully, I’ve always been much more into the side dishes, even as a child. (Really. My Pop-Pop’s mashed potatoes were so damn good that I even mentioned them in his eulogy.) 

The Husband and I have been vegetarians for something like 16 or so Thanksgiving dinners now. Over the last few years, we’ve discovered the delicacy of the Tofurky, which makes The Husband very happy and nostalgic. 

Last year, I discovered that the Tofurky can be cooked IN THE CROCKPOT – which, since I am All About the Crockpot, made ME very happy. 

It’s really a very simple process. And it WORKS. I didn’t have the packet of “dry vegetarian onion soup mix”and I didn’t want to make an emergency run to the grocery store. I decided that I would take my chances by whipping up something (anything!) as a substitute. 

I found this Substitute for 1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix recipe on Food.comand even then I had to improvise further because I only had the beef boullion granules, the onion powder, and the pepper. No matter. Toss in some frozen onions to stand in for the onion flakes and nobody is the wiser.  

Then, I put the Tofurky in the CrockPot (I used a 3 quart), basted it a little every half hour or so as per the recipe, and 3 hours on high later there was Thanksgiving dinner.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it’s not the most aesthetically-pleasing photo. BUT SO WHAT? This isn’t Martha Stewart’s blog. What this is is EASY. Simple. And so much better for you, the animals, and the planet than the traditional turkey. 
And in the end, I’ll bet this is pretty close to what your Thanksgiving plate usually looks like, no? 

StoveTop cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with butter, biscuits, corn,
cranberry sauce, and Tofurky cooked in the CrockPot. 

Hope everyone who is celebrating has a wonderful Thanksgiving!  

(And just so we’re all kosher with the folks at the FTC, Tofurky et al did NOT compensate me for any part of this post.  But, y’know, if they want to toss some cash my way in the spirit of gratitude, I’m not above saying no.) 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

I am an Amazon.com Affiliate. Making a purchase via any of the Amazon.com links on The Betty and Boo Chronicles will result in my earning a small percentage in commission, which will be used to support the upkeep of this blog, as well as the real-life versions of Betty and Boo. Thank you!

photos and text copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Youse Want Dat Philly Cheesesteak Wit or Wit’out Da Turtle?

As seen yesterday in our local Shop n’ Save supermarket here, north of Pittsburgh.

Yinz think someone here in Pittsburgh has a slight issue with Philadelphia?

It’s one thing to dis our sports teams. But, when you start messing wit our cheesesteaks, well … them’s fightin’ words.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Vegetarian Beef Stew

Odd, I know, to cook up a batch of stew for Labor Day weekend. There will be plenty of time in the months ahead for that. No need to rush things, right?

But it’s the kind of holiday weekend here that’s cloudy and rainy with rumbles of thunder on-and-off, and I’ve had a craving for beef stew for the past week (which is a bit of an issue when you’re a vegetarian), and I didn’t get to the farmer’s market this week for any fresh veggies, and we’ll be traveling next Sunday when I usually make a pot of soup in honor of The Opening Day of Regular Football Season (also known as The Official Start of Fall) … and so, beef stew for dinner it is.

The vegetarian version, that is.

I’ve recently discovered the gardein brand of foods and these are now my preferred go-to substitute meat products. The Husband and I are the sort of vegetarians that, even after 15 years of this, we still miss certain foods.  Gardein is pretty damn authentic. (They’re not paying me to say any of this, by the way. I’m just a happy customer.)

I made the homestyle beefless tips over rice with green beans and soy sauce the other night, and that was a big hit in this house. I think that’s what sparked the beef stew craving, because that opened up whole door of possibilities.

I found this recipe for Beefless Stew on the gardein website, and that’s what I made for dinner.

1 package gardein beefless tips
3 tbsp vegetable oil
10 oz pearl onions, peeled  (I used regular chopped, as I didn’t have pearl onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (omitted, as I hate celery)
2 medium carrots, ½ inch diced (I just threw in handful or two of baby carrots)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried rosemary  (didn’t use; The Husband dislikes)
3 tbsp flour
3 cups vegan “beef” broth
(try better than bouillon brand) or roasted vegetable stock  (I used Better Than Boullion)

1 cup dry red wine such as cabernet sauvignon (omitted … but then I remembered I had some leftover merlot and wondered if that would have worked)

2 medium potatoes, ½ inch diced (I used a bit more, as I had some new potatoes to use up from a previous farmer’s market visit)

to taste salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat, add beefless tips and brown on all sides. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Add pearl onions, garlic and celery to saucepan and cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots, thyme, and rosemary and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in flour, then slowly add broth and wine while stirring.Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.Add beefless tips back in and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The Husband and I really liked this. The stew was incredibly thick and filling, just like any regular beef stew would be. The kids originally said they liked it, but Betty changed her mind after several spoonfuls. Boo gave it 3.5 stars out of 4. Not sure why the .5 point was deducted, but I’ll take it.

This goes on the roster of soups/stews that will be making an appearance at our table this fall and winter.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs.


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Weekend Cooking: Farmer’s Market, Food on the Table, and Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas

What I bought from the farmer’s market on Friday afternoon.
Photo taken by me on August 3, 2012

Since my first attempt at vegetable garden didn’t do all that well this year (that’s a whole separate post I’m working on), I’ve started doing the next best thing – visiting our local farmer’s market. And by “started doing,” I mean that Friday was the first time in THE ENTIRE ONE YEAR that we have lived here that I’ve gone to the farmer’s market. Which is all kinds of ridiculous, because there’s no reason this should have taken me this long. They set up in two locations: on Fridays, they are in the parking lot where the LIBRARY is (I mean, hello!) and on Saturdays, they are in the parking lot of the township building.

Anyway, so I picked Betty up from gymnastics camp on Friday afternoon and we had some time to kill before picking up Boo. We meandered over to the library and then to the farmer’s market. Betty immediately started yammering to the sellers about how we were going to be doing all of our shopping there from now on because the food is local and tastes better because it doesn’t have so far to travel. My girl. Taught you well.

I was just buying whatever looked good and whatever I knew our family would eat. All the produce in the photo above came to around $30. (What’s not pictured is an additional 6 ears of corn and a couple cherry tomatoes that rolled off the table while I was, as The Husband says, channeling my inner Annie Leibovitz by photographing produce.) I generally spend around $20-$25 in the supermarket for much fewer fruits and veggies than what I got at the farmer’s market.

Meal Planning with Food on the Table
I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about meal planning, given my unemployed status recently. Have you guys tried Food on the Table yet? I’m LOVING this site. Food on the Table integrates the sale items at your supermarket with your menu preferences AND GIVES YOU IDEAS FOR WHAT TO MAKE! And it is damn accurate too. Yes, I checked … because a) I am crazy that way and b) I’d be pissed as hell if the site told me that something was on sale at Giant Eagle and it wasn’t.

But it WORKS and it works beautifully and it is fabulous.

(Food on the Table isn’t paying me to say any of this, by the way.)

I actually had an honest-to-God meal plan last week. (OK, I picked up sandwiches from Sheetz mid-week because I didn’t have anything planned, but hey … 4 out of 5 days ain’t bad!) I have a meal plan prepared for this week, too.

Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas
Tonight’s dinner combined my bounty from the farmer’s market along with my new meal-planning prowess thanks to Food on the Table.  I made Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas, with some changes and one notable addition: I included one package of MorningStar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips.

As I was chopping the veggies, I had water boiling for the beautiful corn that was picked yesterday morning.

Back to the quesadillas:


1/2 (cup) red bell pepper, chopped  (I used one green pepper, which wound up being 1 cup)
1/2 (cup) zucchini, chopped (I omitted; the kids and husband aren’t zucchini fans)
1/2 (cup) red onion, chopped (I used half of one of the large onions)
1 (tablespoon) olive oil
8 (9 inch) whole wheat tortillas (we had flour tortillas to use up)
1 1/4 (cup) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (I may have added a bit extra cheese)

In a large nonstick pan, cook red pepper, zucchini, and onion in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, or until just tender. (This is an untouched, straight out of the camera photo. Don’t these onions and peppers look gorgeous?)

My note: I added the Chik’n Strips in the middle of cooking this. See?

Remove vegetables from pan.

Coat the same pan with cooking spray, and place one tortilla in pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese evenly over tortilla, and layer 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle another 1/8 cup of cheese on the vegetables, and top with another tortilla. Cook until cheese melts, flipping once.

(FLIP ONCE??!! Like, as in the WHOLE QUESADILLA??? That made me SO NERVOUS, yinz. Like, Olympic performance nervous. Because, you know, I do not flip food. This is not a skill that I possess. 

The results? The judges (i.e., my internal critic) deducted some points for movement and shiftiness of the quesadilla, but overall the quesadilla stayed intact.) 

Repeat until all ingredients are used.

The Husband and I loved the quesadillas. Boo’s not a fan of onions, so next time I need to decrease the amount for him. The kids also had a hard time finishing an entire quesadilla along with a corn on the cob; one quesadilla might be sufficient for both of them, with two pieces each.

But, you know, they tried this and ate about half of it. Which is HUGE in this house.

This one goes into the regular rotation … as does a visit to the farmer’s market (which is open until the first week in October!)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!