Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cookies and Carbonara

I really enjoyed reading about all the vegan products you'd love to try. There's so much variety out there these days, it's crazy!

Yes, I know. I suck at blogging like a MoFo. But hey, I've got exam block on right now, so at least I have a semi-legitimate excuse, right?

Actually, I've been under a lot of stress with these exams. In the long term (as my mother and principal keep reminding me) they don't count for anything, but I'm a perfectionist - so I tend to make stakes seem way higher than they actually are, in my head. With all my studying/worrying/Gossip Girl-ing (note to self: exam block is a BAD time to decide to finally give in to curiosity and peer pressure and watch trashy yet addictive tv shows) I've been neglecting my blog pretty badly. And to make matters worse, next week I'm going away - for two whole weeks - to theatre residency week (which is lots of fun, and this'll be the first time I go as a vegan so it'll be interesting to see what they dish up for me) and then to Sydney for a week (I promise to take a million billion photos and visit Funky Pies at least once). 

But I digress. Tonight (or today, or even yesterday, depending on your time zone) I want to share with you two wonderful discoveries of mine.

The first one is breakfast-related (is anyone surprised?) and I can't claim credit for the idea at all - I found it here on Fitnessista. Yes, the wonderful magical Breakfast Cookie.
I basically followed the Fitnessista's recipe guide, using Chocolate Nature's Way Soy Protein Powder and a few sultanas, plus a dash of stevia and vanilla essence, to flavour my lovely creation.

It was fantastic - although not really like a cookie, since I got lazy and just kept it in the bowl I made it in, rather than flattening it on a plate. O-veg sis also made one and enjoyed hers just as much. I ate mine with a healthy dollop of organic natural cashew butter and a few frozen raspberries on the side. Highly recommended, kids :)

And now to the big guns. So, in relation to my self-induced stress fits, my principal called me into his office and chatted with me about a bunch of things. Somewhere in our discussion, I mentioned that my favourite food was dried fruit - all kinds. Later that day he presented me with a bag full of dried fruit salad, apricot bites, pecans and almonds and told me not to do any work that night or after midday on Sunday and eat all of the food he'd given me - by Monday.

Yes, I'm aware that my principal rocks. I was, however, a little apprehensive - eating dried fruit salad and apricot bites in two days is child's play in my eyes, but all those nuts? How am I going to do this? I wondered. 

And my predicament is of such epic proportions that I'm going to give it a super official name:

Operation: Pecalmond.

Okay, not the most creative name... but whatever. Operation Pecalmond commenced this morning, with some French Toast that I actually did crust with chopped pecans - and instead of fresh fruit, I ate it along with some dried fruit salad (pears, apricots, apples, peaches).

My pecalmond pursuits continued at lunch time, with my usual Hugh Jass salad that consisted of baby spinach leaves, red bell pepper, raw corn kernels, cucumber, celery, dried cranberries, steamed zucchini & baby carrots, couscous, chickpeas and - pecans. Yup.

And I could have had a peca-licious afternoon snack but instead ate a Cocoa Mole Larabar. I liked the spiciness, but otherwise not my fave - definitely nothing wrong with it though.

The question of dinner was becoming imminent. I felt a little guilty at my pecan-lovin' antics whilst blatantly ignoring the lonely packet of almonds in my cupboard. A bit at a loss, I opened my fridge and met nose-to-carton with some SoyaToo Topping Cream. I stared at it. It stared at me. I looked down a few shelves and spotted an open packet of Sanitarium "Bacon" Rashers. I pushed aside the abundance of cos lettuce and silverbeet another shelf down and grabbed the brown bag of mushrooms. Then I ran to the cupboard and snatched some rice & corn spiral pasta and my pecans.

We were going to have pasta carbonara.

Now, I never really ate creamy pasta dishes all that often, in my pre-gan days. But carbonara was one that, although I'd eaten a total of two times, I loved. So by gum, I was going to veganise it. I wasn't too sure if the SoyaToo would work as a savoury cream, and my mum did deem it too sweet - so feel free to use whatever non-dairy cream substitute you like. Same deal with the "bacon". I usually don't like to use so many "fake" ingredients in a recipe but this was, in my humble opinion, way too good to keep to myself.
Pasta Carbonara - Serves 4: 425 cals per serve
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
90g button mushrooms, sliced
4 rashers Sanitarium "bacon"
150ml (half a box) SoyaToo Topping Cream
50g pecans, finely chopped
1 packet Orgran Rice & Corn Spiral Pasta (or any pasta packet that contains four servings)
1 tsp. coconut oil
Cilantro (coriander), as a garnish

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil (about six or seven cups of water). Add the pasta, cover and allow to cook.
2. In the meantime, melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the onion and cook until soft and translucent.
3. Add the "bacon" to the saucepan with the onion and cook for 90 seconds, stirring constantly.
4. Put the mushrooms in the saucepan with the "bacon" and onion. Continue stirring until the mushrooms are soft and browned.
5. Add the soy cream to your sauce mixture (if you've used SoyaToo it'll be kind of solid, so stir it through until it's all melted).
6. Once cooked, drain the pasta, empty the large saucepan of water and return the pasta to it.
7. Add the chopped pecans to the cream sauce, stir through, and remove from the heat. Pour the sauce onto the pasta, and stir gently through, taking care not to break the pasta shapes.
8. Serve garnished with cilantro if desired, which you should because it tastes amazing like that. 

Actually, it tastes amazing, period. At least I thought so - my mum loved it except for the sweetness of the SoyaToo, and my sis is not a mushroom fan and discovered she hates fake bacon. Oh well - win some, lose some. I highly encourage everybody to get in the kitchen and try this - tinker with it however you want, seriously! I think it's perfect as is, but let's see if we can rally together and create the PERFECT vegan carbonara!

Tomorrow: Operation Pecalmond recommences. This time, I'm going to try and incorporate almonds into every meal I eat... in different ways, just like how I never ate pecans the same way twice today. I'll definitely keep you all posted, since after midday I'm on a study/homework ban courtesy of my principal and can procrastinate sans guilt :)

But in the meantime, get cookin' those carbonaras, and tell me because I'm curious: What's the nicest thing your teacher/principal has ever done for you?

- VS


  1. hey lovie,
    just found your blog through my sister Maya, and i love it, and will be following you :)
    that breakfast cookie, i always wanted to make it, why havent i? lol it looks so easy and so good! i am def making that very soon, yours looks so delicious!


  2. wow i was just thinking about trying the breakfast cookie soon haha..i have been wanting to make it forever and never have...and i bought a sachet of pina colado protein powder so i was thinking like a coconutty pina colada banana(?) hmm.. breakfast cookie, ;) residency week sounds like loads of fun, cant wait to see photos!

    and that pasta dish recipe sounds so good and healthy, love that u include nutritional info ;) i may have to save that recipe for a dinner.

    hmm the nicest thing a teacher has done for me is drive me to my mom's work when i was having a bad day, she then sat with me as i struggled to eat my lunch as i was having an ED 'nervous breakdown' ahh and then she said she would take me to get my nails done if i completed my meals and snacks and eight gain for that week. so sweet, i guess because it was a small therapeutic school the teachers are very helpful.

    have a great weekend!


  3. No need to apologise about not posting much-- I think that's why we're doing it a month early, so there is no guilt!

    Your principal sounds great, and I love the creative ways you are using up your nuts. I've had some pretty great teachers, especially in uni, so it's hard to think of the nicest thing... once I lost my wallet and a lecturer I had only known for about a month offered to give me money, which I didn't accept but the offer was really touching. And my PhD supervisor paid for my share of a rental car last year in NZ so a few of us could drive around and see the north island without making me broke, and then continued to pay for my dinner that night as well. Mine are mostly money related...

  4. That breakfast cookie looks great. Your nut options are creative. I love nuts in all sorts of things. I eat a handful most days. I highly suspect that if I wanted to eat a whole bag, I would sit down with the bag and a cup of tea!

    In fact, I am missing eating nuts today, because I am babysitting a niece and nephew who are allergic to them. I don't want to have traces of them on my hands with the allergic kids around.

    What's the nicest thing a teacher has done for me? I think that it might have been one of my undergraduate lecturers, who was also the associate dean for postgraduate degrees. I had been a bit of an average student as a law undergrad. After teaching me in a great Equal Opportunity Law class, he persuaded me to apply for the Masters degree, even though I did not have the requisite GPA. I was accepted and did really well in my Masters. I loved the postgrad content and approach. So, thanks to Phil T, if he ever reads this, for seeing my ability and believing in me.

  5. Your teacher sounds awesome - my Mum and Dad met in teacher's college, so I've always had respect for awesome teachers!! I miss my modern history teacher - it's because of her that I can write decent essays! Also, my honours thesis supervisor was and is such a role model. Mmmm breakfast cookie (drool!).

  6. That cookie looks awesome.

    Your principal sounds cool. Don't think any of my teachers or principals did anything specifically awesome for me but I had many great teachers...