Monthly Archives: January 2012

Vegan Black Bean Tamale Pie

Look at me! Two posts in two weeks! I’m really on a roll, aren’t I? I decided I better post this ASAP or my week will get away from me. I made this for a client last week and have been craving it ever since. I finally got around to it tonight.

This can be vegan or just vegetarian, depending on what kind of cheese, milk and eggs (or egg replacers) you use. I chose to make it vegan. This is a really simple dish you can make with a few things you can keep in your pantry. If you have a bit of onion and some kind of bell pepper, that’s about the only produce you need (although I think I did throw some minced garlic in tonight because I can’t seem to leave garlic out of anything).

This got high marks from my better half too — he couldn’t stop himself from taking extra helpings. It’s really rich and filling, kind of like eating chili with cornbread all in one dish. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and very easy to adjust the heat — throw some freshly minced jalapeno or habaneros in the early stages to kick it up a few notches.

• 1 tsp. olive oil
• 1/2 c. chopped onion
• 1/3 c. green pepper (I used yellow because it was what I had)
• 1 15 oz. can black beans
• 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
• 1 c. corn canned, cooked fresh or frozen
• 1 1/4 oz. taco seasoning mix (or throw some cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. in and season to taste).
• 1 1/4 c. cornmeal
• 1 c. grated cheese (I used Daiya pepper jack style grated cheese)
• 1 1/4 c. milk (I used almond)
• salt and pepper to taste (Oops, I forgot this entirely today… it was fine)
•  2 large eggs, beaten or equivalent egg replacer (I used 3 tsp. egg replacer powder mixed with 4 Tbsp. warm water).
• Minced jalapenos or habaneros (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Throw your minced hot peppers in at this point too if you’re using.  (Just before the next step is when I threw in the garlic and cooked for 1 more minute).

2. Add undrained beans, tomato sauce, corn, taco seasoning or spices, 1/2 c. of the cornmeal and 1/2 c. of cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until thickened and cornmeal is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes, then put in 1 1/2- or 2- quart casserole dish.

3. Meanwhile, heat milk with remaining 3/4 c. cornmeal in a small saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly (Well, close enough. I stirred it often…) until all of the milk is absorbed. Remove from heat. Slowly add eggs or egg replacer and stir in the remaining 1/2 c. of cheese.

4. Spread over top of bean mixture and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes or until top begins to lightly brown. Mine didn’t get that far, because there were hungry mouths to feed, but it was 40 minutes and good enough.

I can’t believe I waited this long to make this for my own family — I have a feeling it will stay in the winter-time rotation!

A New Year

When I started the new year, one of my resolutions was to blog more. I know. I realize it’s Jan. 24 and I’m just now posting a blog. But I really do hope to blog more (that’s all a resolution is anyway, right?).

I turned to my childhood friend, Katy (she’ll always be McKenna to me!) Hoffman. Thanks to Facebook, we have reconnected and been able to check in on what the other is doing. Katy lived waaaay out of town, technically closer to another school district. We went to Catholic school together through 8th grade and, since the public high school is even further away, she went to a different high school and we lost touch. I spent lots of time at the McKenna house as a kid, both because her mom was our Girl Scout troop leader and on the weekends for sleepovers. It’s where I was first fed spinach (and didn’t like it) and first encountered beets (though we were painting a tree stump with them and not eating them).

In the last year or so, Katy started commenting on the I Eat Veg Facebook page, letting me know when she used a recipe (“And the kids even liked it!”) and asking me for vegetarian recipe website recommendations (Of course I told her about two of my favorites, The Post Punk Kitchen and The Kind Life. I still have to let her know about a new favorite — Veggie Grettie). Late last year she told me that she has adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, begun exercising and dropped tons of weight.

When I asked myself just why I should want to blog more, I thought of her. I don’t blog for any particular reason. It all started when I was living in Chicago, became vegetarian and wanted to share my recipe and restaurant discoveries as I was navigating this veg world (which I feel like even 5 or 6 years ago was far less accessible). If me posting a recipe every few days (OK, let’s shoot for one a week for now) can help Katy or someone else, or even encourage me to make a new vegetarian recipe, I say it’s worth it.

Here are a few questions I asked Katy just after the new year about what led her to need a change and how she made it. Thank you, Katy for opening up so candidly and for being a true inspiration. Your last line says it all. I have no excuses (like 4 kids!) and need to get my own butt in gear!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012 to everyone! (Even though I’m a few weeks late…)


P.S. I’d like to let my mom know that I’m still disgruntled about having to wear my sister’s hand-me-down dress (seen below) to 8th grade graduation. Please deposit $5 into my therapy fund.

1. Describe how your weight/health has been an issue for you throughout your life.
I remember being in 2nd grade thinking “I’m bigger than the rest of the girls in my class.”  My mom made me join Weight Watchers at 13. It was a temporary fix.  By my junior year of high school I was nearly 200 lbs.  My senior year of high school I started exercising.  By the time I graduated I was 170 lbs.  College was a struggle for me.

Instead of the “freshman 15” I gained 30.  I tried starving myself after college.  I lost 30 lbs in 30 days, but my hair started to fall out and my teeth started to get loose.  I gained that weight back as fast as I took it off.  Shortly after that, I met my husband; comfort, complacency, and 3 babies in 4 years did me in.  In March of 2010 I was 230 lbs, and I maintained that weight for another year.  In March of 2011 I needed a change.  I have lost 85 lbs since then.

2. Did any particular event/way of life/etc. cause you to eat unhealthy or do whatever it was that made you feel unhealthy?

I have pondered this question so much over the last 10 months.  My
parents are, and always have been, very healthy.  They work out, they
eat right, and they talk about being healthy constantly.  My dad is
62, runs 3 miles per day and can do more push ups and sits up than
anyone I know.  I can not figure out where I went so wrong.  They gave
me the tools; I chose not to use them.  Food has been my main focus my
entire life.  I’m definitely an emotional eater.  Happy, sad, mad,
stressed out, I cope by eating.

3. Describe how you used to eat — what your favorite foods were, your former eating habits.

Ahh, a day in the life of “Fat Katy”.  I always skipped breakfast, so by 10 a.m. I was ravenous and would run to the break room for a vending machine donut and a diet coke.  I never packed my lunch (I never planned to eat lunch, because I was always going to start a crash diet), so at noon it was time to hit the Chinese buffet, or McDonald’s, or burger King, or Mexican. I’d wash that down with another diet coke.  As a result of eating junk for lunch, I would be hungry again by 2.  I would grab a Snickers bar and another diet coke from the break room (I NEVER drank water.  I thought I hated the taste.  So silly).  When I got home I would snack on anything we had until dinner.  Before I knew I could cook, we had hamburger helper or boil-in-a-bag rice with cheese nearly every night for dinner.  Once I learned that I could cook, dinner would be something like meatloaf, chicken cordon bleu with cream sauce, pot roast, etc.  If we had salad it was a salad out of bag.  I would snack on cookies (I could’ve eaten
an entire package of Oreos without thinking twice) or chips.  All the while drinking diet coke.  My husband and I were going through a case of Diet Coke every 4 days or so. (Photo taken at the Grand Canyon in May 2010)

4. When did you decide you wanted a change and why?

I had my gallbladder removed in April 2010.  I had a doctor tell
me, in no uncertain terms, it was because I was fat.  However, that
wasn’t enough, I wasn’t ready.  In April of 2011, I woke up on a
Tuesday morning and I couldn’t move my head.  My neck was completely
stiff.  Throughout the day, it got worse and worse.  I ended up with a
migraine for 5 days.  My husband took me to the med center on Saturday
and instead of trying to find out what was wrong with me, they pumped me full of narcotics, gave me a prescription for a muscle relaxer and sent me on my way.  On Sunday the pain was unbearable and I was desperate.  I called a friend that is a massage therapist.  It took her nearly an hour to make it a little more bearable.  When she was done, she said “Katy, you are not healthy. Your body is screaming at you. You have to listen.”  She went on to say that I needed to get moving.  The lymph nodes in your body collect toxins, the only way to release those toxins is to sweat.  The next day I started walking with the kids. We walked every single day.  That led to researching nutrition; which led to eating healthier.  Eventually walking wasn’t enough and I started high impact cardio in my basement.  When that wasn’t enough anymore, I started running.  The first time I ran, I was able to run a 5k without even being winded.  When I was unhealthy I couldn’t run more than 1/4 mile.  It has been a huge snowball effect. I have learned so much about nutrition, exercise, and my body.  The best part for me is that my family is benefiting from it too (my husband started running and has lost 35 pounds in the last 4 months).

5. Describe your diet, health, and habits now.

My diet is so much different now.  Food isn’t a comfort for me
anymore, it’s fuel.  I still enjoy eating, but I know what my body
needs for power.  It’s all about input and output.  I don’t eat meat
(watching Food Inc. and Forks over Knives helped that along).  I
ALWAYS eat breakfast.  I haven’t been out for lunch since March.  My
meals are full of fresh veggies and whole grains.  I have a water
bottle full, and in my hand, at all times.  Processed foods are a big
“No-No” now.  If I can make it, I won’t buy it. I can’t remember the
last time my family had bread from the store. I have tried my hand at
making Cheez Its, Animal Crackers, and Graham Crackers.  We have
cookies in our house, but they are homemade.  I have a company
delivering organic fruits and veggies to my door twice per month.
Exercise is so important too.  Most days I dread going to the basement
to run on the treadmill or do one of my cardio videos, but 6 out of 7
days per week I get my butt down there and do it.  I love how I feel
when I finish a run or complete a tough workout.

6. What are your eating/health goals for 2012?

I reached my goal weight of 145 lbs, 2 weeks ago.  I want to maintain this weight.  I’m want to learn how to snowboard with my two
oldest sons this winter.  I want to run the River Bank Run 10K in May
(my goal for 2013 is the 25k). I want to complete the GR Triathlon in June.  I have about a dozen 5k’s that I am planning on finishing.  I
WILL tackle vegan in 2012.   Eventually, I would like to have a degree in nutrition/personal training.  I would love to help others live a healthy lifestyle.  I have 4 kids, a husband, a dog, I work 40+ hours per week and have a household to maintain.  If I can do it, any one can. (Photo taken November 2011)

My version of fast food!