There was a time when I could whip out a story without much effort and leave you laughing, but somehow I’ve lost my mojo. I swear I can’t think of the numerous stupid and yet hilarious things one of my kids or husband has managed to do in the last few days. Coupled with the fact that I have gotten some honest feedback about this new endeavor into blogging, and I was feeling sorry for myself this morning, but then I realized that I’m not doing this to make money, or become well-known, or even for affirmation (however nice it is). I decided to do this because it’s a way to share real examples of life and how becoming vegan when I could have been the poster-child for the meat, dairy, or cheese industry has taken me down a very different path. At the end of the day, it’s not about perfection for me. I just want to be healthy and eat really tasty food. I want to be able to encourage others to make healthier decisions too, so maybe someone can learn something from my trials and errors. Don’t you think it’s hard to sometimes put away those injured feelings and be objective.

The truth is that my first post sucked. It sucked really badly, enough that one person was kind-enough to point it out to me, and honestly, I think they were right. I decided it doesn’t matter, though, because I’m not a writer. Hell, I’m not a chef, or a fitness pro, or really anything else anywhere near being able to back-up most of what I say, beyond personal experience or whatever documentary or book I’ve read. I’m really great at being an accountant, since that is what I do, but maybe my writing skills leave something to be desired. So, I guess the best I got is don’t read my posts, just try my recipes. I’m a baby vegan, and I just began this journey, so you’re going to get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, OR according to one reader ‘cringe-worthy’ material. That’s why I call this naked veggies. Because you get it all, even the less than perfect parts. This isn’t about being something someone else aspires to, its about simply finding happiness with myself and being your online friend (whom you never talk to, never meet, and only mooch recipes from) So, hopefully, while my writing is going through its adolescent awkward phase, you can just tide yourself over with two pretty awesome dishes. Be patient, and have shove some food in your mouth.

Southwest Cowboy Pie

This one takes some time, but every bite is worth it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs small red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • lime for zest; and then juice
  • pink sea salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cans of rinsed and drained black beans
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 of a large sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 chili relleno pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 8 oz package sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cup cilantro, measure then chop it
  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1/4 cup red wine (I used merlot for its deep flavors)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • soup bowl full of tortilla chips, finely crushed (measure then crush)
  • 3-4 tbsp Cholula hot sauce
  • 1/2 pkg of Daiya shredded cheese (I used cheddar style, but you can use any of them)

Directions:

  1. Put a pot of water on to boil, and cut all the small red potatoes into halves while waiting on it to come to a boil. Go ahead and dump them in once it is boiling and reduce to a rolling boil.
  2. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees then start chopping all the ingredients!
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, put the coconut oil in a cast iron skillet and heat to medium-high. Add the onion and pepper and saute until they just start to soften and turn transluscent. Add in the garlic, mushrooms, and cilantro. These should take about 5-6 minutes for the onion/pepper and another 4 after you add the mushrooms, etc.
  4. Add in the tomatoes, corn, wine, salt, and pepper and give a quick stir to incorporate then put a lid on it.
  5. While the veggies are all cooking up, drain your potatoes and put into a large bowl. Also put the almond milk the zest from about half the lime, and a healthy dose of salt and pepper and then using a hand masher (I couldn’t find mine and actually used my pastry cutter) mash the potatoes until they are thoroughly combined and have a creamy texture but still contain some small lumps. Set aside.
  6. Remove the lid from the cast iron skillet and add in any remaining seasonings as well as the crushed tortilla chips. I turned off the heat at this point and stirred until it was incorporated.
  7. Add in the black beans and carefully fold them into the veggie mixture.
  8. Evenly sprinkle with the ‘cheese’ and then spoon the potatoes on top.
  9. Move to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the potatoes start to brown, or if you don’t want to wait, feel free to give it a quick broil for similar results.

Almond Coconut Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup lite coconut milk, canned
  • 3 tbsp lite maple syrup*
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 2 cups oats, ground (measure first then grind)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 pitted dates
  • handful of unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • handful of dark chocolate chunks
*I use lite maple syrup that isn’t the ‘real stuff’. I know its not as healthy, but I just can’t find a real one I like.

Directions:

  1. Blend everything but the oats, chocolate, and coconut in a food processor or high-powered blender.
  2. Add the ground oats and give another good blend to fully incorporate them.
  3. Spread a piece of parchment paper into an 8×8 dish and give it a light spray of oil.
  4. Spread, evenly, the mixture, then sprinkle with the chocolate chunks and coconut.
  5. Refrigerate overnight before cutting, and store in wax paper or aluminum foil pouches already cut and ready to take anywhere.
Note: My recipe turned out a little softer than planned (I just dumped the coconut milk I had into the blender and it was more than I needed OOPS!) but this recipe should adjust for that. If you find it is too runny you can always add a few more oats unground. If it is too thick, use a tiny amount of almond milk, a little at a time, to get it to a thick, sticky batter. You want it to set-up fully to be able to transport.