Monday, March 23, 2020

MYO Maple Instant Oatmeal Mix, Sugar Free

MYO Maple Instant Oatmeal Mix, Sugar Free
Do you like Maple Instant Oatmeal, but want to control your sugar intake?

Are the Sugar Free Instant Oats on the market too pricey for you?

Do you want to avoid certain ingredients in your Oats?

Making your own Instant Oatmeal is a great way to save money, help the environment by reducing packaging, AND control the ingredients of the food you eat.

It's a win-win-win!

It's also super easy - arguably as easy as finding the right package of the instant stuff on the grocer's shelf.

When I was young, I thought Instant Oatmeal was some sort of magically prepared industrial product that mere mortals couldn't make at home. Then, one day I learned that it's simply the size of the Rolled Oat that governs the time of soaking in hot water. Old Fashioned Oats are largest, and so take longer to cook. Quick Oats are smaller. And Instant Oats are the smallest. It's simply a matter of chopping them into smaller bits, which can be done in a blender or food processor.

For my recipe, I simply use Quick Oats, but if you need them to cook faster, simply run them in your blender for a few spins to chop them smaller (But, not into powder! That would produce Oat Flour)

Of course, if you want to make sugary Oatmeal instead of sugar-free, simply substitute sugar (brown or white) for the calorie-free sweetener. 

This is my recipe:

Sugar Free Maple Instant Oatmeal 
Measure into Canister or Zippered Bag
2 Cups Quick Oats
Sprinkle with
1 Tablespoon Maple Flavoring or Extract
Close container and shake well to thoroughly distribute flavoring

*Pour into shallow microwavable dish, and microwave one minute. Stir and allow too cool about 15 minutes. Repeat. This step dries extra liquid from extract/flavoring, and is not necessary if mixture will be used immediately, or within a short time*

Add
3/4 Cup Non Caloric Sweetener that Measures Like Sugar (Such as Splenda, or a Stevia Product)
3/4 teaspoon Salt
Close Container and shake well to thoroughly mix ingredients

To make one serving:
1/2 Cup Mix
3/4 Cup Boiling Water (more or less, depending how thick you like it)
Stir
Wait three minutes.
Enjoy!

Packets
This can also be measured into individual packets of 1/2 cup each if you prefer.

OR

Instant Oatmeal Cups
Measure individual portions into reusable lidded containers of about 1 1/2 cup capacity, to meal prep grab-and-go for breakfast at the office or on a road trip.

Meal Prep Sugar Free Instant Oatmeal

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Prepping Tips and Pantry Recipes for Vegans

Vegan Prepper Tips & Pantry Recipes
There are lots of great vegetarian, vegan and Lenten foods that can be used in a crisis situation, but knowing what to stock and how to use it is a little different for vegans than it is for omnivores.

If you're vegetarian, vegan or observing Lent, you probably won't want to live off SPAM and Vienna Sausages!

Every prepping situation is different.

We needed certain supplies last year, when a tornado hit our town and we were without power & potable water for a few days.

This year, our needs are a little different as we face a pandemic.

So, versatility matters!

Vegan diets are typically based on Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Legumes. Some Vegans also eat Meat or Dairy Analogs.

I know we usually love our fresh foods, but if you're in a situation in which you need to be aware of germs, then packaged, processed, or peel-able foods may be safer. Other times, you'll have a power outage and a whole refrigerator of produce that needs to be used before it spoils. So, some of these recipes use fresh produce, some use only pantry items.

So, let's look at what to buy, and how to use those ingredients.

Which of these recipes will work for you will depend on your access to condiments, spices, refrigeration, fresh produce, and cooking facilities. Some recipes here will work for each common preparedness scenario.

I'm writing this for the reader who is in an urban or suburban setting and doesn't live self-sufficiently "off the grid." This post is assuming that money and time are an issue, and is full of frugal and quick recipes.

Government websites are very helpful for a general awareness of how to stock for an emergency.

This is a resource from FEMA

And this is one from the CDC

Here are some things to consider when stocking your pantry:


Processed Foods

For a handy list of vegan processed foods, I like this list from PETA.

(Although I strongly disagree with some of their methods and ideology, their info is still helpful)

PETA's List of "Accidentally Vegan" Processed Foods

Don't forget that your Dollar Store can be a great source of all sorts of processed foods that happen to be vegan - everything from cookies & crackers, to breakfast foods and soymilk.


Water

The Government's current recommendation is that every household have enough water to allow for at least three days, and sometimes up to a two week supply at the rate of 1 gallon per person per day. Although that may not be feasible for everyone, it is a good idea to have some water on hand if you can. 


Grains
Whole Grains are much more likely to go rancid, spoil, or attract pests than their refined counterparts. For an emergency food supply, a stock of refined grain products might be in order. But, it's your choice. If you choose whole grains, make sure you rotate them through in a timely fashion, and store them at cool temperatures as much as possible.

Also, make sure you store grains in sealed canisters, not in cardboard or paper boxes that they often come in. One package with bugs can infest a whole pantry if they aren't stored properly. And, sometimes mistakes happen in the supply chain, and grains have bugs when you purchase them, so transfer them to a canister right away.

I use screw-top plastic canisters from the dollar tree. Gallon pickle jars with screw-top lids are also popular with some. 

In some crisis situations, you may be without power, and cooking a hot meal that requires long simmering may be difficult or impossible. Several Vegan staples can be prepared by just adding water. Sometimes the water doesn't even have to be hot:

Bulgur Wheat
A whole grain that is pre-cooked. It doesn't have an infinite shelf life, but I find it usually lasts several months in the pantry. You can combine one part Bulgur and one part water, and (ideally) refrigerate for a few hours until water is absorbed. If Hot water is available, then the time to absorb the water is reduced to about 1/2 hour! Then it's ready to eat!

The amount of water needed might vary by preference. Some people prefer one part grain to 2 parts water, then drain and press dry at serving time. But I prefer a 1:1 ratio, just adding dressing to moisten at serving time.

Here are a couple of recipes for Bulgur

A no-cook recipe:
Tabouli



If you have a working stove burner, this one does not require soaking the bulgur in advance, simply follow the directions in the recipe:
Bulgur Pilaf ( Pourgouri )



 Couscous (not the pearl-sized Israeli kind, but the super small Moroccan kind) 
To make Couscous, simply use one part couscous and two parts boiling water (1/3 cup couscous to 2/3 boiling water for a single person). Cover 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. You're ready to add other ingredients to make a meal : )

For a simple instant meal, I sometimes boil a handful of frozen veggies and a handful of canned beans in 2/3 cup water, then add 1/3 cup couscous, remove from heat & cover. 5 minutes later, you can add your favorite seasoning, and a crunchy topping like nuts - and enjoy!

No-cook recipes:
Couscous Fattoush Salad 



Italian Lunchbox Salad 



Southwestern Lunchbox Salad   


 
Couscous can be substituted for Quinoa in many Quinoa Salad recipes, like this one:

Quinoa and Lime Salad




Quick Oats
Quick Oats can be combined with cool liquid and covered for about 15 minutes before eating. Or, with boiling water can be ready in about 3 minutes.

Oats can be used for Overnight Oats when cooking is not possible
Oats, Easy, Cool & Creamy Summer 



or, if you can boil water, make your own Instant Oatmeal!

MYO Maple Instant Oatmeal





Minute Rice
I know it's not as good as the "real" stuff - but in a pinch, it works. Just follow the directions on the box. 

Lentil & Rice Salad (Use canned Lentils if electricity is not available)



Mix & Match Italian Rice Salad



Crackers
Of course, Crackers can be eaten right out of the box, or with a little peanut butter or hummus : )

Pasta
Remember, smaller shapes tend to have shorter cooking times. Whole grain pastas, while wholesome, have shorter shelf life and longer cooking times. And, you may be able to reduce cooking time using this method 

Italian Pasta Salad with Fat Free Vinaigrette



Vacation Soup    (this is very versatile, and can be made with whatever veggies you have - or none at all : )



Flour
I usually stock All Purpose Flour & White Whole Wheat Flour. Remember that the whole grain has a shorter shelf life, and requires a longer baking time. These are great for making bread and making my own mixes. Don't forget to stock other basic vegan baking ingredients such as baking powder, sugar or sweetener, salt, tapioca starch, cornmeal, etc.

If you have a range top or working burner, but not an oven:

Five Traditional Breads to Make Without an Oven






Cornbread, Ten Minute Summer 




From Vegan Whole Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix (JUST ADD WATER! : )
      Blueberry Pancakes
      Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
      Grilled Banana Pancakes
      Strawberry Pancakes 






If you are able to bake, try these:

From Vegan Muffin Mix
      Apple Cinnamon Muffins
      Vegan Pumpkin Mini Muffins
      Banana Walnut Muffins
      Blueberry Muffins, Quick, Easy, Healthy 
      Cranberry Streusel Muffins
      Zucchini Mini Muffins
     


        
From Stir & Pour Yeast Bread Mix 
      Stir & Pour Garlic Bread Sticks 
      Stir & Pour Cinnamon Sugar Bread Sticks 
      Stir & Pour Dinner Rolls 
      Stir & Pour Toasting & Sandwich Loaf 
      Stir & Pour Focaccia 
      Stir & Pour Thin Sandwich Buns 



And, if you have access to a working microwave:
3 Minute Blueberry Muffin for 1 
      Chocolate Muffin for One, 3 Minute, Double Chocolate  




Legumes or Beans

In a situation in which you have no power, canned legumes are best.

They are also the easiest package to decontaminate.

If you do have power, dried legumes certainly give you a lot more bang for your buck!

Make sure that any canned legumes you buy don't have meat (bacon, fatback, etc). I find that many manufacturers use the word "seasoned" to mean "cooked with meat." Check the ingredients.

Split Red Lentils are the fastest to cook among dried legumes, then other split lentils, then split peas, then various kinds of beans - some taking longer than others. Some of the longest cooking times are Chickpeas and Soybeans. Check cooking times for whichever dried legumes you stock up on, in case cooking fuel is at a premium in your situation.

These are no-cook recipes:

Black Bean and Corn Salad



Black-Eyed Pea Salad



Fruited Black-Eyed Pea Salad

And this recipe that I think I've made every time I've needed a food when the power was out. Almost any kind of bean will work in a pinch : )
White Bean Salad



If you have more ability to cook or simmer, these are great choices:



Black Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)


Chili


Family Favorite Lentil Soup
Lemony Dal
Masala Dal
Red Lentil Soup - Moroccan or Sephardic Styles


Split Pea Soup

Claire's Southern Delight



Fruits and Vegetables

Canned or Dried will be the most reliable supplies here. And, once again, Canned goods are easier to decontaminate, if needed.

When buying canned Fruits and Veggies, take into account where substitutions can be made for foods you normally use fresh. For instance, I use celery for added crunch in a grain or bean salad. But, in a crisis, I might substitute Sliced Water Chestnuts from a can for a similar crunch.


Olives and Capers and Marinated Artichokes are little luxuries that can really make a meal more palatable when fresh fruits and veggies aren't an option.

 This is a favorite Fruit Salad, made from canned Mandarin Oranges, and Bananas and Apples which can be peeled if need be:

Fruit Salad



If you can access a microwave, you can try these:
Three Minute, Three Bite Brownie for One
Easy Microwave Fudge for One 




Nuts and Seeds

If your family enjoys nuts and seeds, they're great for an emergency, as they take little space and provide lots of energy.

Peanut Powder is also good, and can be used to make these great recipes
 3 Minute Asian Peanut Sauce 
Or LOWFAT Lowfat Asian Peanut Sauce
      Asian Peanut Noodles 


      Asian Peanut Rice Bowl 


      Asian Peanut Wrap  

 

TVP

Texturized vegetable protein has a very long shelf life, and can be reconstituted using just boiling water. It takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you add to it. Be cautious, though. It is very high in fiber, and can be gassy for some folks. For this reason, it might be best to use it as an occasional addition to your diet, rather than an everyday staple.

Quite frequently, TVP mince can be used in place of something like ground beef in a fried rice, or in chili.  The larger chunks can be used in place of meat to make a stew.

Like this:
Philippine Style Fried Rice



If TVP is something you'd like to explore, there are lots of recipes to experiment with out there, like these:
40+ TVP Recipes

Aseptic Tofu or Non-Dairy Milks

I buy Soymilk from the Dollar Store. Aseptic Silken tofu can also be handy in a pinch.

If you have access to a blender, and almond butter, you can make your own Almond Milk in just two minutes!

Two Minute Almond Milk




In addition to all these ideas, you might also try keeping a copy of this book on your shelf:

Apocalypse Chow



It has lots of great recipes & prepping ideas. (This isn't an affiliate link - just a product I like)


*SPAM is a Registered Trademark

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Vegan Dump Dinners - Minestrone Soup in Freezer

Minestrone - Vegan Dump Dinner
I love Dump Dinners during Lenten Seasons, since they allow me to keep my focus off of cooking, and still come home from an Evening Service to a ready-to-eat, nutritious, hot meal.

This Minestrone Soup is just perfect.

It is especially attractive because you can throw it together mostly from frozen and canned foods you have on hand, taking just minutes to get into the freezer.

Minestrone
Fill Gallon Zipper Type Freezer bag with the following
1 Cup Chopped Onion (from the Freezer)
1 (12 oz) bag Vegetable Soup Mix (or a variety of Italian Style Veggies to your taste, such as: Green Beans, Peas, Carrots, Corn, Zucchini, Cauliflower, etc) (From the Freezer)
3 Cups Shredded Cabbage (Fresh)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Minced Garlic (from a jar)
2 Cups Spaghetti or Pizza Sauce (from a jar)
2 tsp Oregano (dried)
1 tsp Basil (dried)
1 (15 oz) Can Great Northern Beans, with their liquid (or Canellinis)
2 to 4 Ribs Celery, sliced
Salt to taste (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 Bouillon Cube

Seal Bag, label, and Freeze

Minestrone in Freezer - Vegan Dump Dinner


To prepare:
Add Contents of Bag to Slow Cooker
Pour over top,
4 Cups Boiling Water (or, use cold water & allow about 1/2 hour additional cooking time)

Cook on High, 4 hours, or until veggies are tender

During last 15 minutes, add
1 Cup Dried Pasta (Shells, Bowties, or broken Spaghetti all work well)
(if desired, a cup of frozen peas can also be added at this time, to add some color contrast at serving time)

Serve with Crusty Bread & Salad.

Omnivores might like to add Parmesan to their portions.

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