• Margaret Ho

Fun With Food

Can I tell you a vegan joke? I promise it won’t be cheesy. 

What does a vegetarian zombie eat? GGGGgggRRRraaAAiiIIIIIInnnnNNNNsssSSS

I hope you’re not lactose intolerant...because this joke is legen-dairy.

How do you kill a gluten-free vampire? With garlic bread.

Are these jokes corny enough for you?

OK, I’m done with the jokes. Now on to the meat and potatoes of this post. Why do you eat what you eat? Do you continue to eat the same foods you grew up with? Did you consciously decide to go vegetarian for health reasons, ethical reasons, or environmental reasons? Were you forced to stop eating ice cream when you realized it gave you the poos? Whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, carnivore, omnivore, pure sugar, or pure pasta, athletes run on all sorts of diets. 

Try switching yours around to see if you feel any different! Go a week or two without meat. Maybe you’ll feel lighter and more energetic, or drained and lethargic. Try going gluten-free for a month. Perhaps you’ll find some new favorite grains instead of pasta, such as barley or quinoa! I don’t recommend an all-sugar diet, but anything goes in times of quarantine. If you really need some assistance nailing down an ideal diet or figuring out which foods work well or don’t work well for your system, I know a gal. Her name is Rachel Turi. While she’s got the Registered Dietitian credentials, I just like to eat, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt (or a heaping tablespoon. I really like salt). 

Experimenting with one’s diet takes planning and effort. Furthermore, many people also have to prepare food for their families, who may not be as enthusiastic to go on an adventure with their tastebuds. What you need is a few key recipes that are healthy, hearty, and easily adjustable to a wide variety of diets. I present you one of my favorites: enchilada casserole. You can make it vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, or however your spirit and stomach move you. 

Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients: 

  • 24 small corn tortillas OR flour tortilla OR rice tortillas OR a few cups of rice

  • 2 C taco blend cheese OR no cheese OR more cheese

  • 4 zucchini

  • 2 C frozen corn

  • 2 cans black beans

  • 8 oz. can diced green chilis

  • 1 bunch green onions

  • 1 bunch cilantro

  • Optional: shredded chicken or chorizo

****You can throw whatever vegetables you want in this casserole. Mushrooms, onions, peppers, whatever you have in the back of your fridge. Bonus deliciousness if you roast the vegetables first, but ain’t nobody got time for that. Actually, you do, because you’re quarantined and working from home and there’s nothing else to do. 

THE ENCHILADA SAUCE. SAUCE IS BOSS. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

  • 2 Tbsp chili powder

  • 2 Tbsp flour OR corn starch OR tapioca flour

  • 2 C water 

  • 3 oz tomato paste

  • ½ tsp cumin

  • ½ tsp garlic powder

  • Optional: ¼ tsp cayenne if you like things SPICY


Directions:

· Combine oil, chili powder, & flour in saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until bubbling. Whisk while bubbling for about 1 minute.

· Add water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic, and salt to taste. Whisk until smooth and heat for 3-5 minutes until thick.

****HIGHLY ENCOURAGE doubling the sauce recipe because it’s f-ing delicious and you’ll want to drink it. And then you won’t have half a can of tomato paste sitting in the back of your fridge until you throw it away two months later. 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan

  • Chop the veggies

  • Roast the veggies (optional)

  • Stir the veggies, chilis, beans, cilantro, and green onions all together in a big-ass bowl

  • Dump 1 cup sauce in the pan. Arrange ⅓ tortillas over sauce. Dump ⅓ of the veggies on top. Optional: throw in dat chick-chick and cheese. 

  • Repeat layers until it’s about to overflow 

  • Bake 40-45 minutes. Put the casserole on top of a cookie sheet in case there’s any bubbling spillage. Put oven on broil for the last 5 minutes for a nice toasted cheese top. 

Say you’re not in the mood for a casserole. You’d rather have a nice rice dish. Well make that shiz into a rice dish! Make an entire bag of rice, then mix in the enchilada sauce and vegetables and heat it up. 

You don’t want a rice dish, you want a stew. Make that shiz into a stew! Dump in a container of chicken or vegetable broth and there ya go. 

You’re not in the mood for Mexican. Italian sounds good. Make that merde Italiano. It’s truly the spices that make a dish. Make the enchilada sauce into a marinara sauce by switching out the spices for oregano, basil, and thyme. Add in a can of diced tomatoes for extra chunkage. Dump the sauce and your veggie mix over some wheat noodles or rice noodles, throw some Italian cheese on top, and bake it into a nice cheesy pasta casserole. 

Have fun experimenting with cooking! There’s no better time than the present when you’re stuck at home with nothing else to do. 

No meal is complete without dessert. From my family cookbook: 

Monster Cookies

Note from the cookbook: “These are super rich cookies. Don’t eat too many or the ‘Hershey Squirts’ will quickly follow!” 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2 C brown sugar

  • 1 C sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1.5 cups peanut butter

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 4.5 C oatmeal

  • 6 oz chocolate chips

  • 6 oz butterscotch chips

  • 2 tsp vanilla

  • ¾ lb bag M&Ms

  • ½ cup nuts (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Combine and mix first 4 ingredients. 

  2. Add remaining ingredients. 

  3. Spoon into cookie-shaped blobs onto cookie sheet.

  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. 

**Notes: they may look slightly underdone when you take them out. Let cool before moving to cooling tray or they will fall apart. Leave in the oven longer if you want a crunchier cookie. These cookie are also extremely sweet and that’s coming from a sugar fanatic, so you can get by with reducing the sugar to taste, especially considering it has chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and M&Ms. 

Gluten-free option: it is gluten free.

Meat-free option: it is meat free. 

Dairy-free option: You can use fake margarine if you want

Peanut-free option: I’m sorry for you if you have to make a peanut-free option, but I’m sure this would also be delicious with any other nut butter. Or you could just make chocolate chip cookies. 

Sugar-free option: Hahahahahaha

Happy fueling!! 

-Margaret

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