But Why All the Casseroles?!?!?

Perhaps by now, after six consecutive casserole recipes, you’re wondering why on earth Farmers Market Vegan has transformed into Farmers Market Casseroles. No, I don’t have a hidden fetish for various mixtures of vegetables, whole grains, and legumes thrown together in a baking dish. However, I will be eating them for lunch and dinner everyday for the next two weeks.

You see, I’m off to Mukwonago, Wisconsin for my sixth year at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp to enrich the lives of children ages eight to fifteen. Serving cheese pizza, traditional lasagna, buttermilk mashed potatoes, ground beef tacos, hamburgers, and hot dogs for some of their staple meals, the mess hall at camp does not necessarily cater to the lone vegan (i.e. me). Last year during my week-long stay at camp, I subsisted on colorless lettuce, limp tomatoes, pre-shredded carrots, unpleasantly pungent onions, and perhaps the occasional cucumber from their less-than-satisfying salad bar. I had enough sense to bring a carton of soy milk, seven baggies of homemade granola, a pack of Lundberg brown rice cakes and a box of flax crackers to account for my breakfast and snacking needs. Did I simply assume that an overnight camp in the heart of Midwest No-man’s-land harbored a mindfulness for an occasional non-dairy, non-meat eater when thinking about what to serve for lunch and dinner? Well, that was stupid. By the end of the week when I returned home, I had unnecessarily lost seven pounds simply for lack of available food.

Thus, this year I’ve made a resolution to properly nourish my body at camp through careful preparation and planning. For breakfast, I’ve pre-packages baggies full of Ezekiel granola, almonds, dried figs and apricots, and kamut puffs to pair with a generous pouring of Edensoy Extra and fresh fruit that camp usually stocks. As you’ve seen during this last week, I’ve baked six casseroles to store in the camp freezer for my lunch and dinner, as well as a ginormous jar of Liquid Gold Dressing to spoon on side salads. Each casserole satisfies my meal checklist by offering whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, and heaps of vegetables in addition to adequate calories and an exceptional nutritional profile, including the two most worrysome vitamins for vegans: B12 and D. I’m set! But just in case, I’ve stocked up on kale chips (Bombay Curry and Zesty Nacho flavors), brown rice cakes, Flax Snax, Larabars, buckwheat crackers, and an order from Twin Cakes Bakery (otherwise known as the Pure 2 Raw twins), containing kale hemp seed flatbread and collard green crackers.

A round-up of my casserole creations and their meal checklists follows.

Barley Casserole with Tahini Dressing

Meal Checklist: Protein–great northern beans. Whole Grain–barley. Vegetables–mixed. Leafy Green–kale.

Curried Almond Butter Farro Casserole

Meal Checklist: Protein–chickpeas. Whole Grain–farro (popular in Italy, farro is known as spelt in America.) Vegetables–mixed. Leafy Green–technically, this one doesn’t have one, but it does have broccoli which is a green nutritional powerhouse anyway.

Good Shepherd’s Pie

Haha, get it? You know, like a regular shepherd’s pie is made with flour and milk and potatoes and stuff? And this one is “good” because it’s vegan? Teehee.

Meal Checklist: Protein–lentils. Whole Grain–quinoa. Vegetables–mixed. Leafy Green–swiss chard.

Leafy Greens and Rice Casserole

Meal Checklist: Protein–chickpeas. Whole Grainbrown rice blend from Lundberg. Vegetables–onions and garlic (not much, but there’s so much kale packed in here that I forgave it.) Leafy Greens–KALE!

Vegetable Biryani

An Indian powerhouse of flavor, this is my second time playing with this recipe and producing wonderful results. I highly recommend it.

Meal Checklist: Protein–kidney beans (Ugh. SUPPOSED to be chickpeas.) Whole Grain–brown basmati rice. Vegetables–mixed. Leafy Green–I suppose there’s not a leafy green in here, either. However, the cauliflower is a member of the brassicas family making it closely related to kale.

Very Vegetable Lasagna

Meal Checklist: Protein–tofu. Whole Grain–since eggplant and zucchini replace the noodles in this casserole, no whole grain! But I’m supplementing brown rice cakes when I eat this meal at camp. Vegetables–cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms. Leafy Greens–swiss chard.

Wish me luck at camp! I’ll see you all again in two weeks.

Until next time, Ali.

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