Monday, June 4, 2012

Kitchen Makeover Part 3: The Finished Product

We finally get to see the results of the kitchen re-org!

It should not have taken me nearly so long to post it. BUT, now that it is summer time I think I will have more time to blog. My daughter is officially out of a family-intensive school (parents have to be very involved) and so I feel like I suddenly have so much time. Good time to blog.

I have so much to say! This summer is so exciting! We've been making homemade nondairy ice cream (Costco is selling cuisinart ice cream makers for $24!!! They are normally about $50 on Amazon!) This ice cream maker is so simple, and the process is simple, too.

We've been using Dreena Burton's "Dreena Dazs," chapter from Let Them Eat Vegan! as a foundation for our ice cream recipes. We've made vanilla, mint chocolate chip, strawberry, and "rice" cream.

The rice cream didn't turn out too well, as my kids didn't like that one and Paul said it had kind of a burnt flavor. But they loved the other ones (all the ones from Dreena Burton's book, which shouldn't be too surprising)! We made a strawberry sauce to go with the strawberry ice cream (also from DB's LTEV) since strawberries are in season right now and are very inexpensive.

These two books are currently my absolute favorite; practically an obsession right now.

You would really enjoy "The Starch Solution." It is a good read, and Mary McDougall put her very best/favorite recipes in it. If your local library doesn't have it and you don't want to have to buy it, you can look here (click for the link) for a lot of Mary's recipes. Although the format is quite a bit harder to sift through, Mary does put a mark next to the recipes that are their favorites.

Our favorite from Starch Solution so far has been the Thai-Style Noodles. Oh my goodness! Delicious, and my kids gobble it up! I add a lot more Asian veggies than she calls for, including zucchini and Bok Choy to make it heartier and healthier. We serve it with Trader Joe's pre-made vegan "egg rolls," and fresh-cut pineapple.

I doubled the recipe last time so I could freeze the other half for a hectic day/evening. Or even just a day when I don't feel like cooking. Let me know if you are interested in my posting that recipe, and if you would like to see how I double and then freeze meals as a way for my family to enjoy fast, easy, convenience meals that are healthy.

Okay, on to the final product!

Isn't that pretty?! So much better than before.

These three pictures are all from that messy lazy susan that was supposed to be a so-called baking center. If you remember discussing the idea of having centers in your kitchen, well this is a much better baking center.

Often people imagine that when they give up meat and dairy they are limiting their food choices. I have often thought about this. A major reason that I had to re-organize my kitchen is because there is such a grand variety of whole plant foods. I had to clean things out to make room! I had to get new containers that would create more space so that I could fit all this stuff in my life. And I still discover new foods and food combinations every day.

Here is an example of what these containers did to open up space in my kitchen. This was my other lazy susan that was stuffed full before the re-org.

You can see how much space I have now. I'm sure I will find a way to fill it up!

This is my dinner center.

In it I include all of my beans, whole grains, legumes, etc. This is only a sampling of the grains and legumes I have. The bulk of these foods are downstairs in a more long-term storage area, and also in my freezer. The amount of plant foods, the variety, is incredible, wouldn't you agree?

It's amazing how we can go for so many years of our lives, cooking the same things over and over again, like beef, chicken, and eggs with cheese, and losing out on nature's variety. I never knew about the amazing quality of lentils, mushrooms, fennel, Kale, etc. And now they are an integral part of my life. Do you have a specific food that you never knew about before, but are now totally in love with? My all time fav has got to be kale. I think I eat it every day now.

This is a closer look at some of the OXO containers I used to contain my grains.

Some of the grains I have here are quinoa, rainbow quinoa, green lentils, french lentils, red lentils, steel cut oats, long grain brown rice, bulgur, corn, etc.

And now I have an organized spice cupboard!

Spices are so important for whole foods. When trying to avoid oils and reduce sugars, spices become essential for flavor. And it's so fun! There are tons of different kinds. Don't ask me why this pic got posted so weird. I made sure it was on CENTER, and loaded it multiple times. Sorry...not working!

Have you had to clear out space in your cupboards to enjoy new foods?


  1. Wow, it looks amazing! I have been itching to organize my pantry and cupboards lately. I never knew about Quinoa (if I spelled it correctly) and really enjoy it. I haven't tried kale, and am embarrassed to say that I am a little nervous to try it. I am not a veggie lover and am trying to ease my way into eating more. I've been told that kale can be a bit bitter.

    I would love to see that recipe you love. And adding that book to my wishlist!

  2. Thanks, Katie! It was really fun to have new cupboards and preparing meals is quite a bit easier.

    I was super-nervous to try kale, too. I just posted a recipe with kale that is good to transition into. Orange Blaster smoothie is pretty good and it can help your taste buds just slowly adjust to kale. You could add a third orange to make it sweeter and yet still be eating kale! Awesome!

    Quinoa is super-yummy! My mom introduced it to me a few years ago.

    I'll try to get that Thai Style Noodles recipe posted soon. Remind me if I forget?

  3. I would love to see how you freeze recipes for your family. I used to do a lot of once-a-month-cooking for my family before we switched to whole and vegan eating, and I just haven't been able to fathom how to do it...

    1. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for commenting -- makes my day!

      I mostly freeze sauces. Cashew cheeses, gravies, and macaroni and cheese sauce. Hummus can also be frozen. They go bad within 3 days of staying in the fridge, and yet there seems to be more sauce than I can possibly use in one meal.

      I also freeze meals after having doubled them. Which I haven't been doing very often lately. Usually soups and pasta dishes are the best meals that can be frozen. Coconut corn chowder, or my Vegetable Soup freeze and thaw very well. So does the Thai-Style Noodles and Artichoke Spinach Lasagna (unbaked!). I use ziploc freezer gallon baggies, and only fill the bag enough to be able to lay it down flat, and freeze it flat. When I freeze soup this way, it provides the maximum surface area to freeze quickly, and thaw quickly.

      A few things I have learned about freezing: 1) freeze only the meals you or your family absolutely love. Otherwise they just sit in your freezer for the next year, taking up space and getting freezer burnt. 2) Freeze meals/food/sauces immediately. The same day you made it. If I wait 3-4 days, the food is on it's way to getting bad. If I freeze food that I know is going bad, I will never unthaw it or use it.

      I can tell this is going to have to be a post. I just don't know when. So I wanted to make sure that I at least answered your question and didn't make you wait forever! Hope this helps! Thanks for reading, Jennifer!