With a lot going on in my life recently, I’ve come to realize that I haven’t been the most pleasant to be around (heck, sometimes I haven’t even wanted to be around myself). Let’s be honest, no one likes a crabby person, and I’ve definitely been one over the last few weeks. I’ve had a few procedures in the past few weeks with still no answers, so that combined with a screwed up schedule from all the tests, and my inability to eat and exercise normally has resulted in a crabby Danielle.
I’ve spent most of the last week and a half in what I like to refer to as “a ball of mean.” Thankfully, I’ve been aware of my mood, so I’ve just kept to myself. My mood has improved now that I’m back to a more normal routine, including cooking! Spending time in the kitchen can be hit or miss for me – it’s either really great and helps relieve stress, or it just adds to it. For awhile it’s been more of a burden than a pleasure, but that seems to thankfully be turning around. So, on one of the “better” nights I decided to throw together a polenta bake.
Despite not getting the official “ok” from my doctor, after consulting with nurse mom, we decided I could reintroduce some dairy, as not having it has made no change over the last few weeks. So I’m still limiting myself, but not completely avoiding it. After next week’s final test, we should have a pretty good idea of what’s going on down below. But until then I’m going to make things like this delicious vegan bake that can easily be turned vegetarian or even enjoyed by a meat lover. Make sure to choose your hot pepper wisely, though – this can get spicy quickly!
Vegan Southwestern Polenta Bake
– Serves 4 –
4 Tbsp oil for cooking
1 package of soy crumbles, about 1 1/2 cups of TVP, or 1 lb of ground turkey/beef
4 oz. cream cheese or cream cheese substitute (I love Trader Joe’s “Not Cream Cheese”)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 hot pepper of your choice, diced (I used a dried habanero and it was HOT!)
1 (150z) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package/tube of pre-cooked polenta (again, a big fan of TJ’s)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Adobo
1 cup of salsa
Avocado for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a small pan, sauté onion in 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat until translucent, 5-10 minutes. Set aside.
3. In large skillet, cook your meat/meat substitute about 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add in cream cheese until melted, as well as spices and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add in cooked onion, beans, and hot pepper. Cook till heated through and combined, about another 2 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast.
4. Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch rounds, and layer in a 9×11 sprayed baking dish.
5. Top the polenta with the meat/bean mixture, and top with salsa
6. Bake 20 minutes or until salsa is bubbling.
Serve with sliced or mashed avocado.