Oct 1, 2012

Day 1 (Thirty-Day Vegan): Shopping! and Vegan Flatbread

My 30-Day vegan adventure... vegadeventure?... starts today! And a good place to start is with the basics: to eat vegan, I need FOOD! I very cleverly ate my ate through all my non-vegan foods in my kitchen (or used it up as beauty products, more on that later), so I had a lot of room in the ol' fridge for some vegan-friendly vittles! I worked up a shopping list that was mostly foods I know I like, and everything is double-checked for vegan-approval...

  • Vegetables:
    • carrots
    • spinach
    • kale
    • bell peppers
    • tomatoes
    • avocado
    • mushrooms
    • peas
  • Fruits:
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Oranges
    • Grapes
  • Nuts:
    • Cheshews
    • Pistachios
    • Almonds
  • Other/ Packaged:
    • earth balance (butter substitute)
    • apple cider vinegar (used in a lot of recipes)
    • whole wheat flour
    • brown rice
    • udon or yakisoba noodles (fresh)
    • apple sauce (butter/ oil substitute in baking, also yummy)
    • tofu - silken or extra firm
    • fake meat
    • vegan cheese
    • sandwich spread
    • peanut butter
    • rolled oats
    • cereal
    • Ritz crackers
    • almond milk
    • fruit juice
    • coconut water
A lot of these foods I already had, and there's nothing too crazy (well, I'll post about vegan cheese a little later). My grocery total was around $30 - $40, which is pretty normal for me. This round will last me about 2 1/2 weeks total of cooking all my meals on weekdays at home. I also picked up a couple of non-list/ non-healthy items, because not all vegan foods are actually healthy (they're just animal product free) and I don't normally just eat carrots and spinach (so I'm not perfect). I picked up some vegan desserts... ice cream, pudding, brownies... some on the *ahem* exotic side (hemp, moki...) and I'll give them a little taste test over the next few days to report on my findings (how scientific, no?).
Today, well, today is Monday, which research shows to be the most common day for starting a new change like getting on a diet or working out. This means that for a lot of people, Mondays are the days when they have the most positive outlook for lifestyle changes, and go at it with the most motivation. So despite it being Monday in the usual sense of the word ("Ugh, work again.."), I had a pretty good start to my vegadventure (yeah, I think I'll keep "vegadventure"). 
  1. Breakfast: Vegan flat bread + peanut butter and dried fruit, cup of herbal tea
  2. Lunch: Vegan flat bread with spinach, tomatoes, vegan deli turkey, and white wine dijon mustard; carrot coins, granny smith apple
  3. Snack: Ritz crackers with vegan cream cheese
  4. Dinner: Baked breaded tofu, spinach, and balsamic vinaigrette
  5. Dessert: Soy milk chocolate pudding
This was actually a pretty typical day meal-wise. I've been honing my flat bread making skills and I think I finally have a good recipe for 100% whole wheat soft tortilla-style flat bread (or a 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour flatbread, if you wish).

Whole Wheat Vegan Flatbread

Makes 8 rounds, about 8 inches diameter
Things you'll need:
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 1.75 cup whole wheat flour (with a little extra handy for handling and rolling)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp oil (vegetable)
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • .75 cup + 1 tbsp water
Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder). In a separate bowl (I used a measuring cup) whisk together the oil, molasses, and water. Create a well (depression) in your dry mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Mix gently with a spoon or a whisk until it is all wet, no dry clumps (don't overmix or the bread will become rock solid and you'll have gigantic crackers). It should pull away from the sides of the bowl slightly.

The dough will be very wet and sticky. Let it sit in its bowl, loosely covered with a towel, for about 15 minutes. The dough needs to rest so that the bread comes out soft.

Remove the dough from the bowl. You my need to put a little extra flour on your hands and sprinkled on the dough in order to handle it (it will be especially sticky if you're doing the only whole wheat flour version). Split the dough into 8 pieces, rolling each piece into a small ball dusted with flour so it won't stick to the surface. Allow the balls to rest about 5 - 10 minutes.

Heat a heavy pan on medium heat. Spritz a little cooking spray on the pan (I use a spray bottle with water and oil in it, shaking before each use). Roll out one ball at a time to its thinnest possible without breaking (you may need even more flour here if the dough is too sticky and it tears easily). Lay the rolled dough into the pan to heat. 

The uncooked side will bubble as the dough cooks and the flat bread puffs. Flip the bread when the cooked side is just a little bit brown, maybe with a couple of bubbles. Cook the second side until it is also very lightly brown. Allow each piece to cool on a rack or in a plate. 

Store extra flat bread in a sealed freezer bag in the fridge, they stay good for up to one week (which is why I only make 8 at a time...)

This bread is good as a sandwich flat bread, or torn up like Naan with all kinds of dips! Best served warm, but I've also had it in a sandwich after spending the night inside my lunch box in the fridge and it was still good.
* I don't use yeast in this recipe, mainly because the bread already puffs up a lot when it's heated. If it puffed any more, it might become too brittle when it's stored in the refridgerator (which is what we in the biz call crackers...) I also haven't decided if yeast is non-vegan yet. This is a divided discussion: yeast is a single cell organism, so it is not an animal, and it is not a large enough part of bread for bread to truly be an animal product, but it seems weird to split hairs like that... I dunno, I'm divided.

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