I’m highly enjoying the responses to “what’s your favorite flavor” in yesterday’s giveaway post! As of this moment, 21 folks have participated, so feel free to jump in if you haven’t already – the odds are looking great right now!
Back in September, I did a post called 10 Easy Vegan Meal Ideas, born from my bare and empty kitchen in Fort Bragg, and a desire to share the most ridiculously easy things I’d been eating during the first two weeks of my stay (aside from all the great food at Living Light, of course). I shared my pantry staples and must-have ingredients (Ezekiel bread, almond butter, salt, rice, etc), and what I’d been making out of them.
I still used all of those ingredients in the last two weeks, but had a bag of red lentils and wheat berries to use up as well. I have seldom cooked wheat berries in the past, so don’t ask what possessed me to buy them – luckily, desperate times and empty cupboards have the power to force creativity, and I totally didn’t mind eating wheat berries every day for a week straight. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I swear sincerity.
#1: Tofu Burger
The thing that inspired this burger was actually a craving for ketchup, as strange as that may sound (not pictured were the sweet potato cubes I also enjoyed with ketchup). And it really isn’t a burger so much as marinated and fried tofu slabs on Ezekiel-style English muffins, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was delicious. This is my idea of comfort food, and being so far from home I did desire familiar, comforting meals.
#2: Red Lentil Spread
…but I didn’t only eat familiar comfort foods. Nope, this frugal and waste-hating gal had a big bag of red lentils to deal with, and was determined to get through it all before returning home – and she’s happy to announce that success was had! I cooked the red lentils in some veggie broth with ginger and garlic, and then they broke down and the mixture got all thick and creamy the way red lentils do. So I pulled out my scant selection of seasonings and added miso and lemon juice. The result was a cheesy spread that I enjoyed on bread (rhyme skillz), especially grilled bread that I dunked in ketchup.
#3: Cheesy Kale and Wheat Bowl
#4: Lemon-Mint Wheat Berry Salad
This was another bowl-style meal I created to use up my wheat berries. I happened to have a big bundle of fresh mint and some lemons, which, along with some salt and olive oil, formed the simple seasoning of this salad. The chewy wheat was nicely contrasted by the crunchy and sweet apple and the pungent red onion. The green cabbage was thrown in out of necessity but turned out to be a lovely addition. This salad was bright and fresh tasting and made for a perfect light supper.
#5: Asian Vegetable Grain Bowl
Can you tell I love one-bowl meals? I figured as much. You can also probably guess what forms the grain base of this bowl. Massaged kale, diced carrots, julienned red onions and shredded green cabbage were topped with some raw kimchi and sesame seeds, and dressed in a simple concoction of olive oil, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, crushed garlic and minced ginger. Simple and fresh-tasting Asian food.
#6: Wheat Berry Breakfast Cereal
#7: Brown Rice Breakfast Porridge
#8: Strawberry Banana Smoothie
#9: Green Soup
#10: Chocolate Banana Ice Cream
Well I certainly couldn’t do without dessert, and banana ice cream is wonderful on so many levels. It’s smooth and creamy and surprisingly rich-tasting, and it’s made out of frozen bananas so is therefore guilt-free. Not that I ever feel guilt when I eat dessert. My banana ice cream is more liquidy than I would have preferred, but at least I had a blender – I wasn’t about to complain. With some amazing raw cacao and a few Dandies marshmallows (scored at the Vida Vegan Con!), the dessert experience was complete.
There you have it, folks, some of the simplest meals on the planet, often strange but almost always tasty, and 100% frugal. Deciding not to splurge on a bunch of pantry items meant that I had more money to buy fresh and local produce, and dessert at the Living Light Cafe. I miss those treats already, especially the tiramisu. And the brownie. And everything.