Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Cooking

Ah, the holidays are over. If you don't count New Year's. I get to stay home with the kiddos tonight and drink sparkling apple cider and eat popcorn from the movie theater and watch movies. There is freezing rain tonight, so not really a good night to go out anyway. Not that it's important to me. I have been home with the kids all week, and we have barely left the house. Monday I went to the new Trader Joe's that's only an hour away and that was super fun. I have done some cleaning, taken care of sick kids, read, watched several movies, and all around really enjoyed it. Today I need to work on cleaning the kids' rooms.

Christmas was the usual. I made my green bean casserole (again) and I ate the whole thing myself over three or four days. I also made the "turkey" roast (again) and gravy and it was splendid. It does get old bringing my own food to family get-togethers though. There are always people looking at my plate with curious looks, wondering what the heck I am eating. My MIL did make me my own baked potato and sweet potato on the side, though, which was thoughtful of her. I ate way too much food, especially the sweets. I think I gained three pounds. I feel gross and fat. This must change.

Tonight I am making barbecued pork ribs for the family, and the BBQ tofu from Veganomicon for me. The recipe makes so much barbecue sauce that I froze some last time. Unfortunately, I don't believe in such things as labeling all those frozen containers, so I had to open them and smell them. I hope I am thawing out the right one! I am also making mashed potatoes because Grace loooooooves them. And broccoli. We will celebrate the new year together eating a good meal.

But no more cookies. Seriously. I just ate two chocolate chip cookies and I feel sick. I need to stop this lazy eating. I need a freaking salad. I need a few days to detox. I need to try some new recipes. I will let you know how that goes.

Have a glorious and healthy 2011, everyone. Eat well. Be happy. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Protein Power!


It has been too long, I know. The truth is, I have not made anything blog-worthy since the last post. This time of year is always a struggle. I come home from work every day, curl up in my recliner with some cinnamon toast and coffee, and write. Lazy. Depressed. Tired. Craving carbs. As a result of this sugar-filled apathy diet, I actually got a cold. Not a bad one, but still. One day in English class I had a sneeze attack so bad I had to go in the hallway until it passed. I could feel the unhealthiness, and my body was craving something nutritious, a way to fire up my immune system so I could feel better.

I must break the cycle!

We are snowed in today. Even as I type, there is a blizzard going on outside. A real one. Tons of snow falling, lots and lots of wind to blow it around, and ice underneath the snow. Roads and major interstate highways are shutting down and they are pulling plows off the road. Tomorrow we will be lucky if the temperature reaches zero degrees Fahrenheit. We were planning on doing some Christmas shopping tomorrow, but it's going to have to wait.

I am okay with that. I have nowhere to go. I have food in the house, and coffee. I have writing I want to do.

And it seems I have my mojo back.

I found this recipe for a Protein Power Goddess Bowl on Oh She Glows , which is a great vegan website for recipes and inspiring stories of health and happiness. And unbelievably delicious food. She is also a great photographer, making her food look so appetizing it makes me drool as I read about it. This recipe looked kind of strange, but it had a few things going for it right away. First, I had all the ingredients. Second, the tahini dressing. I am completely GAGA over any dressing made with tahini. It is delicious, creamy, nutritious, and filling, and has enough fat to make you feel satisfied. Also, this one had nooch in it. Nutritional yeast and tahini all at the same time? I am all over that. Third, all of the garlic. Enough said, really.

I made a few changes. I used green peppers because that's what I have. Red would have been delicious, and of course, prettier. Also, instead of brown rice, I used a packet of Kashi grains. It was good, but next time I will use rice, or maybe quinoa. I also used sun-dried tomatoes, but ended up picking them out.

The tahini dressing was so creamy and lemony and garlicky. :)




I don't know how I ever survived without my cast iron pan. It was a Christmas gift from my in-laws last year. Makes me so happy!

The final result was sooooo delicious! My husband came in the kitchen and asked what the horrible smell was. The lentils were cooking. He wasn't impressed. I made all sorts of moaning noises while I ate, but it didn't do anything to change his mind. He had frozen pizza for supper.

And I had vital energy and health. It felt so good to be eating this creamy goodness, the spinach, the lentils, everything. It filled me up and left me satisfied. I can't wait to eat the leftovers. I will definitely make it again next time, but maybe change it up a bit with different veggies. Who knows?

Oh my god, that tahini dressing...

And a kiwi for dessert! I forgot just how amazing this food makes me feel compared to the sugary crap I have been eating that makes me feel gross afterward. I must remember this!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful for Food

I spent most of the day yesterday cooking, baking, and doing laundry.

My husband watched football and took a nap. But I am not bitter...not at all.

I had some help, though. I hope Grace doesn't outgrow the desire to help her mommy cook. She is so much fun.

I decided to make myself some sort of seitan "turkey" like thing. I found this recipe and decided to give it a go. Grace helped mix up the dough and knead it. It was incredibly easy to make.






I had some cheese cloth, but I ran into problems there. I had trouble rolling it up and having the seitan fit inside. I also could not find a string to save my life. Eventually I decided to just skip the cheesecloth and let the roll of dough simmer in the water free-form. No problem. After simmering for an hour, I baked it in the oven for 30 minutes. It was kind of crispy on the outside.


Grace and I ate some. It was a little bit blah, so I sprinkled a bit of sea salt on it. We just kept eating it. We couldn't stop! Every time I came into the kitchen, I tore off another piece and popped it in my mouth. Yummy and chewy and delish.

I wanted to make a gravy to go with it, so I tried the vegan gravy recipe from Oh, She Glows Thanksgiving Menu. It was easily the most flavorful yummy gravy I have ever tasted. While making everything else, I kept picking off pieces of the "turkey" and dipping it into the gravy.




By the time we had to leave for the relatives house, I had eaten so much of the seitan, I decided to leave it at home. I made my usual green bean casserole that I just love. I also made the usual pumpkin cheesecake that is to die for.


Garrett had some fun with the whipped cream on his pie.




And Grace was excited about the pumpkin cheesecake that she helped make.



It was a successful meal. I ate my green bean casserole (nobody else touched it). I also had some cranberry relish, pickles, and a bun. The potatoes and corn were swimming in butter, so I skipped them. But I was not deprived. We went to the new Harry Potter movie afterward, and I could barely eat any popcorn, I was so full. We had a good time, though, and there are plenty of leftovers for today. We are staying inside where it's nice and warm, relaxing, and eating. Sometimes, life is good.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thinking Thanksgiving

The more I think about Tasha's post about becoming an omnivore again, the less I like it.

Her post is overly dramatic, and quite frankly, hard to believe.

I don't doubt she was having those health problems. I do have doubts that veganism was the only culprit. And I do doubt that the instant she ate her first steak, she felt better.

It also bothers me that she recently tweeted the praises of bacon and how she can't believe she lived without it. Ewww!

I feel a little betrayed. Whatever. She can do what she wants. As for me, I am busy making myself some vegan pumpkin cheesecake for tomorrow. We are getting together with the hubby's meat-eating, deer-hunting, close-minded, turkey in the deep fat fryer family. Also making my favorite green bean casserole. I really should make a "meat" loaf or something as well. Better think about that...

In the meantime, this video rocks. In a disgusting, horrifying, goddamn good thing I'm a vegan way.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Vegan Thoughts

One of the blogs I follow regularly, The Voracious Vegan, posted yesterday that she is no longer a vegan. She has been suffering multiple terrible health issues for a long time, and she has struggled relentlessly to fight it, but she found health again by going back to being an omnivore.

She has, of course, received tons of criticism. She has been told a thousand times that she is just not doing it right. I don't believe these people. I believe that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. Our bodies are all so incredibly different and individualized. The fact that she has found her health and happiness again after suffering so much pretty much means everything for her life.

It got me thinking about my own choices. Are we wrong to think that being vegan helps to save the earth? Are we wrong to think that it's bad to eat meat and products made from animals? It made me think about the fact that I recently ate cheese and I have not been as fussy as I used to be about whether something has a minute amount of milk or eggs inside it. Is it really true that for life there must be death?

I have not suffered any ill effects from my diet. I enjoy being vegan. I love the peace I feel inside when I eat without any animals having suffered. I like the way my body feels when I eat food that is good for my body. I don't want to change any of that for any reason. And I think the diet is good for my body, as well as my mind. My high cholesterol level plummeted to a happy normal level. I think I look better, as a person looks when they are healthy. I also think it's the best thing for the planet, whatever people might say.

I also believe this isn't a contest to see who the best or hippest vegan is. Yeah, I eat honey on occasion, but that doesn't mean someone who is more hard-core is better than me. Everyone makes the best decisions they can at any particular moment in their lives. It's all about me, not pleasing you, or what a label means.

I think Voracious Vegan was brave to post her experiences the way she did, and I wish her the best.

Thanksgiving is next week and I am going to look through some fabulous recipes for this vegan to bring with her. Because this food is delicious, satisfying, and makes me happy. And that is really all that matters.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cooling Rack Full of Love


It's cold here. It's 41 degrees (Fahrenheit) according to my computer. I haven't ventured outside to feel it, because 1) I don't have to, and 2) It's raining.

I bought groceries yesterday and stocked up one some canned pumpkin. It's a generic brand, but I think it will be okay. So after eating my soup for lunch, I decided I needed to do some baking. And wa-la - I Stumbled Upon this website, which has this recipe.

Ah, pumpkin and chocolate. One of my all-time favorite combinations. Does this call for some afternoon coffee? I believe so...

Next time I am leaving out the almond extract. The almond flavor should be more subtle than it is. But they are still great muffins, perfect for the oncoming of a Minnesota winter.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan Meme

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?
Cheese. Despite my recent digression.

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Squash

What vegan dish or food you feel like you “should” like, but don’t?
Raw tomatoes :( They would be so beautiful on a salad.

What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?
Coffee and water

What dish are you “famous” for making or bringing to gatherings?
In the summer- the Mexican pasta salad. For the holidays - the vegan green bean casserole. And cookies.

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?
I really don't like nuts in my sweets. But that's it.

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?
Cookies!

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?
guacamole

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”?
Vegennaise

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?
Big snacker. Have I mentioned my love of cookies? But my favorite snack is probably pistachios.

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?
Mushrooms are a must. Pineapple. Black olives. A bit of Daiya vegan cheese.

What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?
Broccoli. Avocado. Strawberries. Nectarines. It's hard to pick just one.

What is the best salad dressing?
tahini

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?
Peanut butter!

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?
Chickpea noodle soup

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?
Mmmm...probably the S'mores cupcakes from VCTOTW. Frosting? Maybe chocolate. But I'm thinking about something coconut right now.

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
Chocolate chip. Or oatmeal pumpkin. Or chocolate chai.

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”?
Tacos. Plenty of guacamole

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?
Tempeh bacon. But then there's more for me!

How long, in total, do you spend in the kitchen on an average day?
1-2 hours

How many fingers am I holding up?
7

What kind of things are you doing for VeganMofo?
Reading lots of awesome blogs.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Confession

I have not been a very good vegan lately. I don't know what it is. Laziness? Depression? Apathy? Addiction? Whatever the reason, I had a hand in helping my kids finish off their Halloween candy. Even the non-vegan chocolate that contained milk.

Blech!

This stuff used to not even tempt me.

I knew that if I put something bad into my system, I would feel bad. I had no urge.

Now it's like I want to make myself feel bad. Like I don't deserve to feel good and healthy.

And then the ultimate sin. Last night we had pizza in the house and I was craving a piece so bad that I just ate one. With cheese on it. Real cheese.
........
.......

OK, OK, I ate TWO!

It was like eating despair.

But it did something good anyway. It made me feel so yucky that I no longer have the urge. I need to remember all of the reasons I became vegan in the first place. I need to think about my health, and about those animals. Especially the animals suffering for their entire pathetic lives so that we can order a pizza and drink the milk and stuff ourselves with ice cream and cheeseburgers and cholesterol and death.

Karma.

I am not perfect. Not even close.

I do care. Enough not to fall into what is easier and more convenient and more socially acceptable. Enough to say what I think and do what makes me feel like me. Eating that pizza did not feel like me.

Now, if I could get my hands on some more Daiya vegan cheese, that would be me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tomato Soup


Man, I love making soup! Almost more than eating it. Okay, not really. But in the cool fall days, it really warms you up inside. And I love to smell it simmering on the stove.

I made a half of a batch of the Tomato Brown Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans from Veganomicon. Sweet! I had no navy beans, but I used great northern beans and I am pretty sure there's no difference.

This soup was yummy, and comforting. I like tomato soup, but this was different. The rice and beans make it such a complete meal. The subtle spices were perfect. I highly recommend it.

Who knew there were so many things to do with a can of crushed tomatoes? I have used it for barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce, and now tomato soup. Lovely.

I had never roasted garlic before, and it didn't go so well. I think I roasted it too long, although I did the 45 minutes the recipe called for. It was messy trying to squeeze the garlic out of the roasted cloves, but I survived. It was a great addition to the soup, and I will try roasting garlic for other recipes.

My picture doesn't do the soup justice. It was still steamy, and there are shadows, and you can't see the beans, but that's okay. Trust me. I haven't had a lot of time (or energy, or enthusiasm) to make anything too fancy lately, but it felt good to make this soup, and great to eat it. One more bowl for supper tonight, though, and that should be enough. Time to move on to another soup!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crunchy Like That

This weekend was gorgeousness and gorgeosity all rolled into some beautiful, sunshiny weather. I spent the majority of it sitting outside with a book, a crossword puzzle, or my laptop to do some writing. It was pure bliss. Unseasonably warm for October. Still is today. I had nothing major going on this weekend (besides grocery shopping) so I did some cleaning, helped Garrett with his American Indian project for school, and finally got around to making that granola I have been meaning to make.

I admit there was some trepidation in starting this process. Friday night I was sure I had lost all of my mojo, and I was really worried. Everything I made that night bombed, and bombed horribly. I wanted to make brownies, and I had a box mix, so I tried to make it using flax "eggs" instead of real ones. I have no idea what the hell went wrong. I checked on them after ten minutes or so, and the batter was boiling in the pan. It was very surreal. And sad. It all went in the garbage.

Then Drew wanted pancakes for supper, and the pancake mix had moths in it, so I attempted to make them from scratch. I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, which is a kick-ass recipe. Where did I go wrong? I don't know. They were horrific pancakes. They, too went in the garbage. I was frustrated, depressed, and exhausted. I told my my kids to feed themselves. I gave up.

Saturday things went much better. :)

A while back I won a free giveaway from the lovely people over at Sunfood. I received sample packs of jungle peanuts, maqui berries, and goji berries. Sample packs because this stuff is not cheap. They are raw delicious superfoods, and I was so happy to win. I ate the jungle peanuts right away. I knew if I made granola, I would not be adding the peanuts because of Grace's allergy. The berries I saved for the perfect raw granola recipe.

I spent some time online searching for the perfect raw recipe, then decided to combine a few and make my own. The oats I added are raw oat flakes that I found at my favorite food co-op. The walnuts pieces are not raw. The cashews are raw, as were the flax seeds and sunflower seeds. I made a date paste, then decided to make a larger batch, so I threw in more oats and added some agave nectar without measuring. I mixed it all together, with the help of my lovely daughter.



We ate some right away, then I dehydrated the rest for what I'm guessing was a couple of hours, but I don't know for sure because I never bother to check the time when I do things. I just dried it until it was the right kind of crunchy for me. Then wa-la! A healthy, delicious, super-packed-with-nutrition snack or breakfast, or even supper for that matter.

Possibly the recipe for this granola, give or take this or that:

1 cup flaked oats
18 small pitted dates, soaked, then processed into a paste
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped cashews
2-3 tbsp raw blue agave nectar
1/4 cup whole flax seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
dash of cinnamon
dried fruit - I used goji and maqui berries. Just throw them in.
Chocolate chips or cacao nibs would have been nice as well :)
I should have added some raw flaked unsweetened coconut

Mix well, place on dehydrator sheets - Dehydrate at 105 degrees for a couple hours or until it reaches desired crunchiness. Or skip that part and mold it into bars. Whatever you want.


Isn't it pretty? I can't wait to try different variations of this. A much better snack than chips or cookies or brownies like I have been eating lately!

Have fun with this. You really can't go wrong.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Warming Up

Boy, it's almost like I have been too busy to blog or something! Imagine that.

The high school where I work is not a very efficient building. The district is also broke as hell, so they won't turn on the freaking heaters until maybe December or something. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. But the nights here in Minnesota have been really chilly, even though the days have been gorgeous and sunshiny, with temps hovering around 70 degrees. During the day, the school stays colder than the part of a witch that would nurse a baby if the witch had a baby. For serious. I am a hot-blooded person, the kind that can hardly even wear a long sleeve shirt because I get too warm, or feel claustrophobic or something. Forget sweaters! I hated wearing sweaters. I couldn't bear to be bundled into one until I began working at this school. Now I need them.

This week in English class the teacher had to teach with her gloves on. I sat in the back with my arms inside my sweatshirt and my legs pulled up under me, trying to keep warm. My nose was cold. Kids were wearing their winter coats. The next day she brought blankets to school so some of the kids could cover up during her lesson. She wore her big warm scarf while she taught. I kid you not.

The thing was, the custodian wasn't going to turn on the furnace when there was an expected high of 70 degrees. Kids were escaping to go outside and warm up. Hell, I was escaping. I went outside during my lunch today to soak some of it up for about 10 minutes.

What's the point of my rambling? There really isn't one. I am getting to the food part, though...

I ate a salad for lunch one day at work, and while it was a good salad full of delicious fresh veggies, it wasn't really a salad kind of day. I needed something warm. There are a few problems to this...

One, I am really low on provisions around here. I do have food, but it's the kind of food that you need to get creative with, and take some time and do some planning with. My life has not allowed for this.

Another, and the saddest part ever, is that I am losing my ambition. Maybe it's winter coming on, and the fact that I have to fight the hibernation urge. Maybe it's because I am so freaking busy I can't see straight. Maybe because it's really getting to me, and I am starting to shut down, little by little. Maybe because every spare second my brain has is used to think about my book.

I made some rice and beans, because that is my back-up recipe. I have written about it before, and I have even written about it in my column. There's nothing that fancy or innovative about it, but it's brown rice and black beans and tomatoes and spices and all that stuff all thrown together. It's easy, the stuff is almost always on hand, it's nutritious, and it's delicious. Most importantly, it's warm...


This time, I had to brilliant idea to slice an avocado and place it on top. I had never done that before, and I didn't know how it would be.

Yes, it was awesome! It's an avocado. Was there ever any doubt?

I threw some corn on top, too. It was fabulous.

Sigh. I really need to get back into the groove of trying new recipes, new foods, new ideas. I am in a rut...

Also, a belated apology for my crappy pictures. I can't find any decent lighting in my house. I wish I was better at photography, but who has time for that when all I think about is writing?

Vegan MoFo is coming up in November. I am not going to participate this year, but maybe with all that blogging going on and the fact that I follow like 40 blogs will help jump start some creative cooking juices for me.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pumpkin Time Again!

I guess it's pretty obvious by my lack of posts on either blog that school has started, and I am back to work. It's not like I work really hard while I'm there. It's just that it takes up so much of my time! This leaves so little time for anything fun, like blogging, trying new recipes, or even cooking a decent meal some nights. I am bogged down by meetings, finding time to write my articles, cooking supper, keeping up on laundry, helping both boys with homework, filling out forms and writing out checks for the school, packing lunches, doing dishes, and sometimes remembering to take a shower.

I also had a party this last weekend that I had to clean and prepare for. I DESPISE cleaning, so this was a challenge for me. My friend is now selling bags, purses, and accessories so I invited a whole bunch of people to come over. I decided to make three different kinds of mini muffins, so people could try different kinds. The kids asked for chocolate chip. I wanted to make them all homemade from scratch and vegan, but life got really freaking stressful (we're talking tears here), so I bought box mixes for the chocolate chip, and found a box of brownie mix for 88 cents.

I did, however, make one kind vegan and homemade. I L.O.V.E. The Best Pumpkin Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance, because they truly are the best.

I have recently learned to get everything ready before I begin. After all these years, I may become organized yet!



They were easily the best in the bunch (I'm sure) because they were homemade. But all the muffins were so cute and tiny! I bought a package of 100 mini liners and used all of them.



Three people showed up. Well, four, if you count my cousin's little girl who tagged along. Well, five if you count my mother-in-law who came early to look at the stuff, then took off. And one was my mom, who pretty much has to come.

I was thinking it would be fun for a change to host something, to make something for people, to have all these people that I like frolicking around my home, visiting with each other, laughing, having a great time, loving my muffins, saying things like, "These are vegan? Really?"

But it was not in the cards. I did have several outside orders which means I will get some good deals when I buy myself a new purse. And I am not mad at anyone who did not make it to the party. I understand there are a million legitimate reasons people couldn't be there. We had a good time anyway, and I had a LOT of muffins leftover! These four in the picture (three now, I just ate one) are the only ones left. This is a good thing because I am going to gain some weight if I keep eating these things!

There's nothing like pumpkin...with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, molasses, and all that....om nom nom nom...


Happy Autumn - full of pumpkins, squash, baking, Halloween, sweaters, beautiful leaves, soup, and scary movies. Hopefully I will be able to make something blog-worthy soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cupcake Fun


Yesterday was a crazy day. I had an article to finish, pictures to email in, blah, blah, blah. It doesn't sound like much, but when you have three children nagging at you all day long, it gets really hard to get stuff done.

Grace had been begging me all day to make cupcakes. She even found the right cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. So I saved my work and made the basic chocolate cupcakes. I haven't even made cupcakes for many months now, since I am trying to get off all the fat and sugar. But these are the best chocolate cupcakes ever. I licked the spoon when I was done mixing. And I only ate one cupcake, and after that I didn't feel like having any more! Kudos to me!

I also made the vegan buttercream frosting, which turned out a bit too runny, but I was out of powdered sugar, so we lived with it. I made three different colors for the kids, and let them decorate their own. It was a mess, but it was fun.

Grace's masterpiece.





Then I went back to work, and I got it all done by 8:30 last night. Then I had a smoothie, and that was my supper. I ran out of my usual bag of frozen mixed berries, and I had to use some strawberries and blueberries that I bought locally this summer and froze myself. HOLY SHIT! The difference was unbelievable. The taste of the berries was heaven. It was the best kefir smoothie I had ever made. I am fantasizing about one right now.

The other day my mom made a comment that she doesn't really like smoothies. I just stared at her, not sure that I heard her right. Is that even possible? It's like not liking the Beatles. It's just not natural.

I think I will listen to the Beatles while I drink mine today.

What's your favorite thing to put in a smoothie?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cheeeeeezy!


Tonight the kids wanted to go to the park. I told them I would take them if I could sit in the van and read while they played. No pushing on the swings. I still needed to figure out something for supper.

I brought along a few cookbooks and started reading. I thought about the broccoli in the fridge that really needed to get eaten up. I thought about pouring some cheezy kind of sauce over them. And everything else just fell into place.

Grace and Garrett had veggie burgers and I had a leftover black bean burger I froze the last time I made them. I was going to bake potatoes, but I didn't have any, so it was french fries in the oven. And gorgeous, lovely, steamed broccoli.

I found the recipe in The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I almost forgot about this book, so I felt it was time to try something out. The recipe I chose was for All-American Cheez Sauce, and it was heavenly. For the liquid, I used half almond milk and half water (I needed to use up the almond milk, too). Mmmmmmm.....I just want to heat this up and dip everything I can into it. I could have an awesome '70s fondue party, and we could go crazy. Pieces of bread would be great, and for some reason I am thinking sourdough would be perfect. Any kind of cooked or raw veggies. Potatoes. Whatever. I could pout this over an entire plate of food and not have all the fat, calories, and plain grossness that is cheese. And there is a whole bunch of leftovers.

I <3 you Nutritional Yeast! What would I ever do without you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Animals and Activism

I follow a lot of blogs. There is one blog this is all about animal activism. There was a post one time about the author being frustrated that more vegans are interested in baking brownies than really doing any activism.

I am not the activist type. I honestly do not have time to be doing tons and research to spread around, writing letters, attending protests, and the like. I believe in what people are doing, and I admire people who stand up for what they believe, no matter what.

The thing is, I am doing more by being a vegan than just searching for the perfect brownie recipe.

I live in a very small farming community. I don't know for a fact that I am the only vegan, but I would not be surprised. I have heard rumors of a couple of vegetarians. Farming animals and crops is the way of life around here. It's practically blasphemous to some people that someone would choose not to eat meat. I have personally offended more than one person just because of my diet, not by anything I have said. I have been attacked verbally more than once. I know there are people who think I am crazy, because people have said it.

But there are also people who are curious. Every day I am surrounded by students who have no clue what it means to be vegan, and they have no clue what a vegan would eat. I answer any questions they have, and they have many. Some of them just shake their heads at how ridiculous I am. Some of them respect my choices.

There is one guy who graduated, and he came back to visit one day. He had been working on a dairy farm. He said to me, "I thought about you the other day, Jade. Remember when you said something about taking the baby cow away from its mom?" I said I remembered. He shook his head. "Well, now I'm the asshole who does it."

I am not optimistic or foolish enough to believe that he is going to change his diet or the way he lives. But I planted something in his brain that actually made him think about what he was doing, and the effect it has on the animals. I felt sorta victorious that day.

I don't have to preach or protest or be obnoxious or outlandish to spread the word about being a vegetarian or vegan.

This morning I finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals. This should be required reading for everybody. People should be educated about where their meat comes from and what happens to the animal before it gets to your plate. This book is not preachy, it is just what Foer found out about factory farming during his extensive research. His amazing writing skills make it seem like he is just having a conversation with you while you read it. It's very straightforward as he talks about the meaning of suffering, food, family, tradition, culture, and the effects of factory farms (where 95 percent of our meat comes from) on the economy, our health, the environment, and the animals themselves.

When I was a teenager I became a vegetarian because I couldn't stomach the idea of eating a piece of dead animal. I still ate dairy and eggs, because I rationalized that no animals had to die for them. I had no idea the kind of suffering that laying hens and dairy cattle go through. I had no idea that there was a lot more suffering going on in an animal's life than just the end, when they are slaughtered.

Although I have been vegan for more than two years now, this still shocked me and horrified me, and at one point, brought tears to my eyes. I have been able to live without the guilt of eating meat for some time, but now I have another guilt. How can I let my kids eat this stuff, when I know how it affects their little bodies, the hormones and antibiotics, the filthy shitty living conditions, the diseases that have been born from factory farming, the terrible consequences it can have on their health? How can I let my son eat a chicken McNugget when I know that's it's not even food? It's some processed version of factory shit, formed into a nugget with more than 30 ingredients that are harmful to his mental and physical health?

At least Garrett has quit eating meat. And Grace is a vegetarian about half of the time. I don't think she quite yet understands what it means, and I hope that when she is more educated she will make the right decision. Should I be educating her more right now? How much should I tell her about animals and the way they are treated? I don't know. I am working on that.

I am going to read the book again, this time with a highlighter in my hand. There were many parts that I wanted to be able to go back and find. It was brilliant. It may have been the best non-fiction book I have ever read. It hit me hard.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kale and Cabbage Slaw

Oh, so pretty!

I bought the kale at my favorite Amish farm that I always go to. They know me by name, they know what I like, and they go pick it right out of their (chemical free) garden and hand it to me for such a small amount of money that I almost feel guilty.

The recipe came from Ani Phyo, and it was very simple and full of flavor. The Greek dressing was just some apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and thyme. After I mixed it up and ate a big bowl, I found a green inchworm on my kitchen counter.

"Oh, cute!" I said. "He must have been living in the kale!"

He instantly became Grace's new pet. We put him in a container with some grass. I gave him another leaf of kale to eat, and we discovered an even smaller inchworm on that piece. Two new friends! Grace was in heaven!

Huh...

Yesterday I went to eat another big bowl of this slaw and, of course, there was a dead inchworm in there. Maybe more. I don't know. I had washed the kale first (well, ran water over it quickly), but not carefully enough. The whole salad had to go. Inchworms are not vegan.

The poor little thing must have drowned in my Greek dressing.

The other two died eventually. I don't know how to keep inchworms alive.

I wonder if I ate any the first time I had the salad...

I have more kale, and I am not throwing it out. I am going to very thoroughly wash it before eating it. Maybe Grace will find a new friend or two.

But I will make the salad again. In fact, I am really into trying my own homemade dressings lately. How simple, delicious, and cheap! And better tasting than anything that comes in a bottle at the store.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baking in the Heat

This week has been unreal as far as temperature and humidity go. Most days I stay in the house where the AC keeps things nice and comfortable. But every so often I venture outside and sit and feel the sauna-like air, try to breathe it for a while. It makes me appreciate the central air even more when I go back inside.

Yesterday I was a total idiot and did a lot of baking and cooking, even though the temps were in the 90s. I recently bought a GIANT zucchini from an Amish farm and needed to do something with it. Thankfully, VegWeb decided to email me a bunch of zucchini recipes, anticipating an issue I'm sure many people have right now: an overabundance of zucchini.

The recipe for Superfantastical Banana Carrot Zucchini Muffins looked wonderful, so I went to work, with my little baker girl right there to help, of course.

I used like a cup of zucchini for these things. I am going to need a LOT more zucchini recipes, or else make a whole bunch of these and put them in the freezer. Hey, that's a good idea. Because they are really, really delicious!

I had to post this picture because it's a rarity these days. Grace tends to go into screaming fits when I pull out the camera, which breaks my heart. But after a little persuasion, I was able to snap this one of her filling the muffin pan.



These muffins were pretty low fat, made with half whole wheat flour, and full of veggies and fruit and happiness. Mmmmm....

In the background my tofu is pressing. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy and heat making the Indian Baked Tofu I love so much. I make it not only because it's crazy awesome, but because Garrett loves it and begs me for it. "Ooh, make those little yellow things!" he says. Then he whines all night wondering when they will be done, because I don't start the pressing, marinating, and roasting early enough and we never get to eat until 8 p.m. But it's all worth it. I also boiled some tiny little red potatoes from the Amish, and threw what veggies I had left into a pan and steamed them. It was very satisfying.

True story: While I was dicing up the tofu, I had to stop Grace from eating all of it. RAW. "See, it's not gross, mommy!" Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Another true story: Grace so desperately wanted to help grate the carrots, even though all I had was some baby carrots. I was afraid that she would cut her finger. She said she didn't care if she cut her finger, and went to get a Band-Aid so she would be prepared. She worked her tiny little fingers hard. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Breakfast


For the past eight months, I have been drinking a soy kefir smoothie for breakfast pretty much every day. But lately I have been switching things up just a bit. On my new fave vegan blog, Oh, She Glows, I found a recipe for Vegan Overnight Oats and decided to try it out.

This recipe is awesome and can be made in many different ways. I added cinnamon, because oatmeal and cinnamon go so well together. And it's so nutritious - almond milk, oats, mashed banana, chia seeds all sitting in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning the oats are mushy and you can add all you want - almond butter is so damn delicious! A touch of maple syrup, raw cacao nibs (haven't tried that yet), canned pumpkin and pumpkin spices, whatever you want. What a healthful, filling, delicious breakfast! And yes, eat it cold. It's great, I swear.

And check out other things on the website. I have found it to be very inspirational. There are a lot of great recipes. I want to glow! That's all I have ever wanted!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Health and Weight and Love

When I was growing up, I was skinny. When my husband and I started dating, I only weighed 115 pounds. I didn't wear a bra because I barely had any boobs (plus, it felt rather liberating). I ate whatever I wanted my entire life without ever once thinking about a calorie or fat grams or what my scale said. I didn't have to try on clothes at the store because when I brought them home, they always fit. I am going to tell you something that normally women don't like to share. Something happened, because when I was 20, I still only weighed 120, and when I got married at age 22, I was at 165 pounds.

Something being my medication? The fact that I was now living on my own with my own money and could buy and eat food whenever I wanted? The fact that because I had never thought about it, I didn't really know how to eat well, so I was eating brownies for breakfast and making Hamburger Helper for our supper? I don't know. A combination of everything, I suppose.

After I had my second child, things got worse, and when I finally joined Weight Watchers, I weighed 176 pounds. Eek, I hate even typing that! I struggled through more than a year of Weight Watchers meetings, losing weight, but losing it slowly and painfully. I will never forget the day I went shopping and had to buy size 12 clothes to replace the size 16 that were too baggy. What a natural high! I had done it! I had worked hard at something and accomplished it!

My goal weight that I was focused on was 135. When I got down to 143 pounds, I got pregnant with Grace. I started eating whatever I wanted again, because I was pregnant and felt it was a good excuse. I gained 30 pounds with the pregnancy. I am still carrying around about 15 of those.

Being in Weight Watchers taught me a lot about my food choices, and just how horribly I had been eating. I learned a lot, but I will never join again.

One reason is that I was way too focused on that magic number, and way too focused on how many points I was eating. It really hit me one day when I realized I was eating the most tasteless piece of crap sandwich I had ever eaten. Low-calorie bread, fat free turkey slices, and fat-free cheese. It was only three points! Blech! How could this be acceptable? I was also drinking diet soda and other drinks with artificial sweeteners. Not good.

These days, Weight Watchers really pushes so many processed meals, snacks, bars, etc. that it is ridiculous. There are desserts, muffins, cookies, all with the Weight Watchers label on them, but still NOT healthy food choices.

I no longer look at fat and calories in my food (if I even buy food with labels). I look at the ingredients. If it has things I don't want in my body, I am not going to eat it.

I work with a woman who thinks she is a big health nut. Her husband has cardiac issues, and she and her family changed their eating habits. This is a good thing...but in my opinion, she is a bit misguided. Every day she eats a Fiber One bar as a snack, and she made a comment that it is delicious, and good for you too! I asked her about the sugar content. She answered, "Only 10 grams." That means nothing to me. I said, "What kind of sugar?" She looked over the ingredient list, and rather sheepishly, answered, "High fructose corn syrup..."

Exactly.

Another thing is, when I was eight pounds away from my goal, I was happy. I was still in the category that was considered "Overweight," but I felt great. I was thin. I looked good. I was a 30-year-old minivan-driving mother of two boys, but I had guys looking at me and totally hitting on me on a regular basis. Not that my goal is to be hot for the guys by any means, but still...how is that not a confidence booster?

I was at a happy weight. I was fine, no matter what the scale said, or what the charts think I should weigh. And my goal was high, too. According to the charts, 135 is the absolute MOST I should ever weigh since I am only 5'3" tall.

Right now, I weigh myself every single morning, and sometimes at night. Some days my weight has gone down a couple pounds, and I feel light and happy. The next day it has gone back up, and I feel miserable and depressed. I really want to stop depending on that stupid number for my happiness.

Nobody else cares what that number is. My husband has loved me through all of my weights and body shapes. My kids couldn't care less. Grace calls me "My beautiful mommy."

But I still feel disgust when I walk by the mirror and see my big belly, and my fat thighs, and I still wish they were gone.

I have been walking this summer, but I haven't been doing much more than that. And I have been eating really well most of the time, but I still need to exercise more. I still need to stop hating my body and worrying about the number on the scale. I need to throw away the scale and just take care of my body until I am at a happy weight, whatever that number is. Until I feel good in my clothes.

When I go to the swimming pool, I feel a bit self-conscious in my swimming suit. But when I get out there, I look around and see that every single person there is a different size, and a different shape, and that is perfectly okay. They are all beautiful. We need to all stop hating our bodies and feeling that we will never live up to some ridiculous, impossible standards set by media, society, movies, magazines, etc. that are made to make us feel inferior and unhappy. Life is not like that.

I know a fellow reporter that works for another paper and we always visit at meetings. She is in her 70s, and she looks great. She said she always wishes people would listen to her when she tells them to exercise, and how important it is for your health. I told her I would listen, and it really did hit me. This woman has been through many health issues, including leukemia, and she has survived and remained in shape and younger looking. If I don't start taking care of my body soon, I will regret it someday.

I'm going to finish my coffee, and this afternoon I'm going to do a rigorous yoga routine with Garrett. And it's going to feel great. I think I will skip weighing myself tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Raw Scramble


Enjoying a good lunch here and thought I would share.

Ani Phyo again...I love her!

I kind of fell off the health wagon the past few days (we had Oreos in the house). I have found that I really notice how my body reacts to crap, and I don't like it. I feel all bloated and fat and gross when I eat a lot of fat and/or sugar. And I find myself craving the good stuff.

I had to get up really early this morning to drive out of town for a story, so I just had a banana before I left. When I got home I made my usual smoothie. Then I had coffee and then water. For lunch I felt like having something light. I made the Garden Scramble from Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen. Raw almonds and sunflower seeds in the food processor, along with a pinch of salt and some turmeric and water. This is the base called the Love-the-Chicks Pate. When that was done, I mixed in some veggies I had in the fridge; mushrooms, green onion, green pepper, and tomato. I placed it on a bed of my best friend kale. Spinach would have been better, but I am out. I am eating it right now. You should be too.

Tonight is lasagna night. I am making a regular lasagna for the omnis, then a vegan one for Garrett and me. Using Daiya vegan mozzarella. I will make some tofu basil ricotta cheese for the middle. And mushrooms, of course. Lots of mushrooms. Hope it's good!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pizza of the Gods


I have made a lot of homemade vegan pizzas in my day. Most of them were just okay. I have used other vegan cheeses before, and they were just okay. I have made it many different ways. Never before I have I fallen in love like this.

The very best pizza I have ever made. EVER.

Homemade crust. Pizza sauce (from a jar, regretfully). Mushrooms, of course. Black olives. "Pepperoni" crumbles made with TVP. And to top off the magic, Daiya vegan cheese, both the cheddar and mozzarella.

Really there aren't many things that I have missed since going vegan two years ago. Maybe Dove chocolates. But definitely pizza with cheese. And here I have it. Not the healthiest meal, obviously, but good god! A woman needs pizza once in a while. Like Spongebob says, it's good for your soul.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Baking It

I am feeling physically better after hurting my back the other day. There's nothing worse than being laid up on the couch unable to cook for myself or anything. I was so thrilled to be able to do dishes again and try out some new recipes with all my rockin' ingredients. I can't believe I was thrilled to do dishes, but it's true. I don't like being helpless. But thank goodness I have some awesome kids that like to help their mom. They are capable of much more than they let on...

Anyhow, I took some strong drugs the other night to get some sleep...and wow, did I sleep. I slept a lazy, pain free, comfortable, floating on a cloud, swimming in my mind sleep. And while I lie there in my Vicodin-induced stupor, it occurred to me that I am losing my sweet tooth. This is not 100 percent true, but I am losing my craving for processed sugar. At least the "gotta have it now or I will die" kind of cravings. I am also losing my taste for cooked food, although I suspect when winter comes I will get that back. I just LOVE the way I feel when I eat raw, healthful meals. L-O-V-E love it. I feel energetic, clean, pure, radiant

I have been eating mostly raw the past week or so. I try to make the morning and afternoon raw and eat a cooked meal at night with the family. Last night I made stir-fry with fake chicken, and although it was delicious, I don't care to have any more tonight. I am going to try out a new recipe from Ani Phyo, one that involves marinated portabello mushrooms and a broccoli mash.

I have also been eating a ton of fruit, but that's so easy this time of year. I kept track of what I ate the other day and it turned out by the end of the day I had eaten eight or nine servings of fruits and veggies.

Yesterday I made the Black Sesame Sunflower Bread from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. It took about five hours in the dehydrator, then I broke it into pieces and put it in the refrigerator. Today for lunch I made some guacamole and went to raw heaven...


Last night was craving something chocolate, because that has not completely gone away. I also wanted something relatively healthy. I found a recipe for Banana Bread Macaroons that was unbelievably simple. I mean, come on! Mashed bananas, almond meal, coconut, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder. That's all! Other than the chocolate chips, there was no sugar.

While these were baking in the oven, two kids came in at different times wondering what that horrible smell was. Then Grace tried one right away and didn't like it. Too bad. More for me, I guess. I thought they were yummy. And they cured my sweet tooth for sure.



Off to marinate my mushrooms, do some yoga, shower, and try to get some writing done. Happy eating!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pudding and Grilled Cheeze Love

I was sooo excited to discover on Saturday that my favorite health food store is now carrying Daiya vegan cheese. OMG EXCITED! I bought two bags ($4.99 each, ouch!), one cheddar, one mozzarella. I haven't tried the mozzarella but I am planning a homemade pizza night soon. Yesterday I made the most amazing grilled cheeze with the cheddar and some flatbread. Grace got a hold of it and took half of it from me, then made me make her another one. Then Garrett got in on it. Grilled gooey cheeze perfection. I should have taken a picture, but there was no time with all the nom nom nom going on around here. The cheddar tastes unbelievably like American cheese when it melts on a sandwich. This stuff rocks!

Last night I made a recipe from this fabulous web site called "Oh She Glows." I am loving this site so much...I tried the chocolate pudding and it was really good...very rich and sweet. Almost too sweet. I used half the amount of agave nectar called for, and it was still sweeter than it needed to be. My pudding did not look at tasty as hers, though. It was not as dark brown, it was runnier, and it looked like something I won't mention here because it's a food blog. I couldn't taste the avocado, which was a good thing. I once tried an avocado pudding that was really nasty tasting. I love avocados, but I don't want to taste them with chocolate.

The almond butter is what sold me on these. I could taste that, and sweet chocolate. Much healthier, easier, and tastier, than any other puddings. I have made other ones with silken tofu. To tell you the truth, I am getting tired of making everything with soy. This pudding is goooooood stuff!

Now that I have tons of groceries and great food in my house to make whatever I want, I am off to look at my cookbooks and plan my meals for the day.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stocking Up

Sigh. I'm exhausted after a long day of shopping with the kids. I put on a lot of miles today driving all over the countryside and across state lines to get all the food I wanted at the best deals. My first stop was my fave Amish farm, where I spent a whopping twelve dollars. And I got kale! She had kale! She commented that only myself and one other lady buy the Swiss chard and kale.

I also got a bag of peaches, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, red onions, two tomatoes, and green peppers. I then went to the B&D, where I had fabulous luck finding great things. Not Vegenaise great, but still. TWO bags of almond meal at a dollar a piece! I can't find it in a store for less than $10. I also snatched up some cans of coconut water, some soy flour, organic ground flax meal, and two bags of organic whole flax seeds. Then Garrett and I let out a collective gasp of pleasure when I spotted our favorite chips there for 50 cents a bag. I cleaned them out.

Then it was off to a real grocery store for some other things...tons and tons of fresh produce. Blueberries to freeze, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, bananas, avocados, apples, kiwi, grapes, a few more veggies...and then one more stop that was twenty miles away for a few more things. And the worst (best?) part is, I need to make one more stop tomorrow at my favorite health food store for some raw nuts and seeds.

I'm sure nobody cares what I bought at the grocery store. Blogs are really so narcissistic. But whatever. I am really excited about what I can make now that my refrigerator is full again. I am eager to try more raw recipes and make some new salads. I am eager for my friend to come over so I can make a beautiful raw dessert for us, and I hope that it turns out. I can't wait to blog about the new recipes.

But not tonight. Tonight it's something easy and fast, because now I am lazy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Raw Cheeze



I checked out this amazing book from the library the other day, and I never want to take it back.

I read through it like a novel the first day. And today I tried my first recipe. I was in the mood for some sort of spread or pate. I have never made a raw cheeze before, but I certainly will be doing it again! I found the recipe for Italian Pizza Cheeze and saw that I had all the ingredients. I cut the recipe by 1/4, because I only had 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, but that's okay, because the recipe is for four servings. I used my little baby food processor that I bought years ago for making baby food. Man, I love that thing! It really comes in handy sometimes.

I picked the basil off my plant, and threw in some fresh oregano for fun. And man, was it garlicky! My breath is going to reek for a while, but it was totally worth it.

I chose to eat this with Triscuit crackers. For one thing, it was pretty much all I had in the cupboard. For another, as far as processed crackers go, Triscuits aren't that bad. They only have a few ingredients, and no sugar or HFCS. I would rather have used a raw cracker, but I didn't have any made. Whatever. It was delicious.


I could have blended it longer to make it more creamy, but I was getting really hungry. And it didn't matter. As it was, it reminded me of ricotta cheese. How can blending up some nuts and lemon juice and herbs taste like cheese? I don't know. It is magical. And unbelievably healthy. And fabulously delicious.

I need to buy more nuts!!

Seriously considering another raw food fast, but for a week this time. All I need to do is be prepared, and organized (ah, that sounds so easy!), and I can eat tons of good food without being hungry.

Tonight, a raw banana split, made with frozen banana chocolate "ice cream."

It's so much fun I could burst!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Giveaway!

You must check out this blog, it's very cool. Although it's not always vegan, I still follow it. She likes to post food that is sugar free, gluten free, and dairy free. She is also awesome because she is giving away some really cool stuff. I like that, as you know. Right now she is offering some really wonderful ingredients that I could do some great things with. Small tapioca pearls, organic cashews, chia seeds, and liquid stevia.

I have been meaning to get me some chia seeds. I have heard they are really nutritious and make a great addition to lots of recipes, including puddings.

I really wish that I had access to some young coconuts. They are almost impossible to find around here, and I really can't afford to order them online. I could make so many raw recipes, and I could use them in smoothies, or just eat them raw and get all the nutritional benefits.

The name of the blog is The Spunky Coconut. That's what made me think of coconuts. It wasn't totally random.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Holy Heat Index


Yesterday was unbelievable. The temperature was around 90 degrees and the humidity was off the charts. Thankfully, I have no life and therefor sat in my AC-cooled house all day. Except the time I had to run to the store for a few things...walking out the door felt like stepping into an oven; a wet, steamy oven. It was hard to breathe. I knew that I did not want to cook anything, and especially did not want to use my oven.

I looked up salad recipes for a while, trying to decide what I wanted. I found a few recipes, and decided to wing it and make my own. I used quinoa, because it's awesome, and I haven't cooked any for a long time. In it I threw some of my favorite things: broccoli, red pepper, green onion, garbanzo beans, and diced avocado. For the dressing I just threw together a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and Mrs. Dash.

The result? It was okay. I think it needed more dressing. It was a little bit blah. But I am going to keep working on it.

I ate this salad outside. Then I had to come back in. When I walked in the house, it felt like a refrigerator in here compared to the outdoors.

I'm sure there are people (like Tonya from Texas) who think this heat is nothing. I don't care. I would rather be inside than trying to breathe and function without passing out in that kind of tropical weather.

Today, however, is a different story. The humidity passed with the storm we had last night. I am heading out now to read a book in the shade and eat some fresh pineapple.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Holy Grail


At last the day has come. I have been searching in vain for the perfect vegan brownie recipe. I have made several attempts. Some of them I have mentioned before. Nothing ever quite did it. And tonight I came across the simplest, easiest, fastest, most slap-in-the-forehead why-the-heck-didn't-I-try-this-before recipe ever.

It has everything a recipe shouldn't. White flour. White sugar. Oil. Stuff I usually don't bake with. Herein lies my problem. I threw aside any concerns for my health and just went for pure gooey ecstasy.

And then I added chocolate chips.

Instead of copying someone else's recipe I will just give you the link. Click on it now.

You're welcome.

I am in serious need of a glass of soy milk now.

Sorry about the quality of the picture. They were still really hot and I couldn't wait any longer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Apology

I really hope that last post did not make me sound like a know-it-all douchebag that thinks he/she is smarter than everyone else. That was not what I intended. I don't know everything. I just believe that the average American doesn't know or care about just how bad their diet and lifestyle is for them, or for the planet. I just wish more people really cared.

That's all. Carry on.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vegan Venting

This weekend was full of family get-togethers, food, fireworks, and rain. Saturday was hot and humid, and we had a party at my cousin's house for her birthday, which also coincides with a city-wide celebration that ends in fire works. It was a fun time. I made a broccoli cauliflower salad that was delicious, and brought veggie burgers for Garrett and me. There was also fresh fruit to eat, so I was happy. My uncle, who is a meat-eating machine, grilled burgers and brats and hot dogs for everyone.

At the end of the night, after everyone had been drinking for a while, my uncle started picking on my vegan diet. My uncle is awesome; I love him dearly and he has always been my favorite uncle. He teases me because he loves me. He is a lot like my dad in some ways (they are brothers). He tries to get me all riled up because he thinks it's funny.

He started in about how it's just as mean to kill plants, and he doesn't see the difference. My husband joined in the good-natured ribbing. I usually avoid any kind of discussion about it, because there is no point. They will never see my point of view, they will never even remotely come close to understanding why I do it. I forget sometimes how strange it is to them, how extreme and crazy it must seem. This is how I live, and I am quite used to it.

The people that give me the worst time about my diet are 99 percent of the time one or more of the following: overweight, on medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart problems, type two diabetes, etc.

I just want to glare at them and say, "Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me? You're giving me a hard time?"

I fell for it, I opened my mouth. Instead of going the poor animal route, one that they don't give a shit about, I went for the health argument. I said, "If you go to the doctor and you are having heart problems, are they going to tell you to eat more meat? Suggest that you aren't getting enough bratwurst? I don't think so!"

There was some laughter and that was that. I know they were not attacking me personally, but it still made me feel sad, and I couldn't shake it. It really reinforced the feeling that there is nobody

NOBODY

NOBODY

around me in my everyday life that gets it. (Okay, Garrett kind of gets it.)

And I felt really alone for a moment.

The part that makes me feel the worst is that these people that I love and are surrounded by are damaging their health in ways that I can see, and they cannot. These family members that love meat and cheese and eat tons of it every day are going to get sick, they are going to love shorter lives, and during the shorter life, they are probably not going to feel well. It kills me that I have knowledge I could share with them about how to eat better, not just pushing veganism or saying I'm better than them, but eating better, taking care of your body, and nobody is interested.

This includes my husband. I would like to have him around for a long, long time. I feel completely powerless.

I believe that food is more than just something to fill our bellies until the next meal, something that we need to survive. The food we eat, and the things we choose to put in our bodies, affect our minds, our mood, our karma, every cell in our bodies, our behavior, our complete and total well-being. We have a choice as to what we can do, how we want to feel, and we need to take notice, pay attention, word hard, and stand up for it. No matter what.

No recipe today. I just needed to vent.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sammiches!


I have been eating these things for a few years now. I got the idea from someone else, who made me a sandwich that probably was nothing like this one. I remember there was cheese, and basil leaves. Anyway, my own version is made with focaccia bread, because that tastes the best. My local grocery store doesn't have much, but they do try. They sold tofu there briefly...They do have Boca burgers if I am desperate. They also have expanded to include more gluten-free flours and grains. They sell a bag of quinoa for almost $12. Shyeah right! Like I'm gonna pay that! But the bakery does make an awesome round loaf of focaccia bread that is sliced and totally vegan. I put it in the freezer, and when I crave it, I put it in the microwave for 20 seconds and spread Earth Balance on it and I'm in heaven.

Garrett loves these sandwiches, too. I was trying to think of something for supper, and I remembered that I have a jar of roasted red peppers at home. I went to the store for the bread and some mushrooms, and here we are.

Veggie Panini or Sandwich or Whatever

Focaccia bread
Fresh spinach
Basil
Mushrooms, sliced thinly
Avocados (of course!)
Roasted red peppers in a jar


Place the spinach leaves and basil leaves on the bread. Then pile on the red peppers, mushrooms, and sliced avocado. You could also mash up the avocado if you want and spread it on the bread. You can do whatever you want. You could add other veggies. You could spread vegan mayo on the bread. Or vegan cheese. Or not. Then place the other piece of bread on top, naturally. Place in the oven (400 degrees) for about 15 minutes or so, until the bread feels dry and crusty. Slice in half and enjoy.

If you are lucky enough to have a panini grill, this would be EVEN BETTER.

A note: I used basil from my basil plant I purchased, which I discovered is actually a lemon basil. While this smells and tastes delicious and would be awesome in, say, pesto or something, the flavor overpowered this sandwich and I ended up picking it out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Green Day


The sprouts were a total success, and the easiest thing I have ever done. The kids loved to watch them quickly grow and fill the jar they were in. In three days (yesterday) they were done, and I rinsed them and put them in a container in the refrigerator. Grace and Garrett went all crazy over them! Crazy! They were grabbing them by the handful, chowing them down like candy, fighting over them. I made chickpea salad sandwiches and put lots of fresh sprouts on them. Yum, yum, yum!

I love it when the kids go nuts over healthy food. But last night we went to a movie and they drank sugary drinks and ate candy and went just as nuts over that. Sigh. I do the best I can. Life is not perfect.

I made this salad today and realized that the only veggies I have left in the refrigerator are green. But that's okay. It was delicious. The salad was delicious, especially since there was avocado and my own sprouts in there. It can be seen here surrounded by the freshly picked chemical-free strawberries I bought earlier. More to eat and freeze.

I ordered some raw cacao nibs for making raw chocolate desserts. I bet I can find something with chocolate and strawberries. If I do, I will share it with you.

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Raw Crackers


So far today:

Tropical Kefir Smoothie- soy milk kefir, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, banana
Coffee - two cups with soy milk and stevia/sugar mix

Big salad made of spinach, green onions, avocado, broccoli, cucumber, red pepper, topped with a bit of Trader Joe's Goddess Dressing
Raw almond meal crackers made in dehydrator all day yesterday
Fresh strawberries and raspberries

YOGA!

SHOWER!

If I could eat like this all day everyday, that would be great. I always start out my day so fabulous, then things fall apart in the afternoon when I get major munchies and cravings. I also am thinking (again) that I need to get rid of the coffee in order to really get rid of the candida issues, and to lose weight. But the very idea makes me feel sad. I know that I would feel great after detoxing from it (and the caffeine), but wow. I have quite an emotional attachment to coffee.

I have been walking with a friend twice a week (when it's not raining!), and it feels good. At first I was really sore, but it has gotten easier, and I can do the same two miles in less time. Now I am starting a yoga routine on days that I am not walking. This is major progress for me, who couldn't walk two blocks without being in agonizing pain less than a year ago.

These crackers rock my world. Alas, I am now out of almond meal, and I don't think I can afford to buy any more, unless I find it at the B&D for 75 cents again. At the HFS it costs about $10 for the same size bag.

I love my dehydrator. I plan to use it even more.

I now have baby sprouts! This is day two and they are growing so fast! I think tomorrow they will be ready to be put in the sunshine to get a little green. Then I can eat them up! It is so easy, I can't believe I was hesitant about doing this. Kefir is way more complicated, and I can handle that.

These crackers are healthy and addictive and raw. Well, if you use all raw ingredients. I used tamari sauce instead of Nama Shoyu because I don't have any of that. And if you keep it below a certain temperature, which I can't think of right now. Maybe 150 degrees? And I used my own parsley! Nothing better than making your food, realizing you need parsley, and getting it right on your front porch, picked fresh off the plant. Yummy! I did not have any tomato so I skipped that part. Same with the cilantro.


Almond Meal Crackers

1 cup sweet white onions, chopped
1 cup tomato, chopped
1 cup almond meal (or ground up soaked almonds)
1 cup golden flax meal
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Nama Shoyo (or tamari, or soy sauce, or Bragg's liquid aminos)
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic

Blend all in food processor. Process until smooth-ish. Spread on teflex dehydrator sheets 1/4 inch thick. Score with a dull knife or pizza cutter. Dehydrate for 5 hours, then flip over onto mesh screen and dehydrate another 2-3 hours until dry and crispy.

I just finished my lunch, but I am craving more food. Maybe more crackers and fruit? Something to drink? A raw sweet treat to curb the cravings? I don't know. I have some work to do, but I think I can do it.

I used a new template for the blog, and my label cloud magically reappeared! I like the fresh new look.

Have a great weekend, and take care of your body and mind. :)