Sunday, June 12, 2011


Hi! Thought you might like to see a school lunch I'm really proud of from last week. Right now we're using up a lot of the ingredients in the kitchen, since we are soon to be taking summer break. There was enough quinoa on hand to use as a main dish, and I made a citrus dressing with some orange juice and olive oil.

Quinoa salad with pear, golden raisins & walnuts, roasted red pepper hummus, mixed greens, Dave's Killer Bread

The kids LOVE fruit, any kind of fruit, and they always eat all the salad! After my heart, they are....

Ready to serve!!
We bought these greens, but Trillium also has a garden program that needs saving, too, so we're starting to figure out to make the garden program be our supplier, and how to make the garden program make money to support itself. Getting involved in a school you love is dangerous...there is always more work to be done, help that is needed, etc. It's okay, gardening and plant foods for kids are activities I can get behind!

Another simple salad. This one just had tomato & sunflower seeds.
It's funny - the days I am at the school I'm rushing to get the lunch prepped and everything under control so I can dash out and get to work, and I wind up leaving hungry. Of course. Just made food for about 100 other people and I'm famished!! So I whipped up some edamame "hummus" (from La Dolce Vegan) when I got home, toasted up some Dave's Killer Bread and cut up some cukes. This hummus is not really hummus, because hummus is by definition made with garbanzos, but now everything is called hummus when it's a bean puree. But really, who cares? This version is made with edamame, spinach, tahini and some other stuff, but it's so fresh and vibrant it is addictive. We also spread it on corn on the cob the other night, like we do with pesto, and it was AMAZING.

My lunch. Edamame hummus, Dave's Bread & Cukes.
Yeah. My table has a bird on it. This is Portland, put a bird on it!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Food, Farm, Fun

Hi, I'm Ruby. Child floral arranger extraordinaire!
Yeah, I'm her mom, so I know I'm bragging. But please look at this gorgeous flower arrangement she made from what she found in our yard! The girl is an artist, I tell you. Watch out world.

fern, maple leaf, bleeding heart, stones....
Let's talk about FOOD! My oh my, there has been a LOT of food going on lately. Between cooking at home, working on recipes for my book and cooking and arranging recipes, etc. for the school lunch program, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night thinking, "I can use the walnuts with the quinoa!" or some such nonsense like that. It's splendid, I tell you!

Some highlights from the lunch program the past two weeks, for those that are interested:

1. The lentil veggie soup and garlic bread meal was a hit!
2. I got the freezer fixed that wasn't freezing. Thanks to Chad at Food Fight! and Lisa at Sweetpea for the refrigeration reference. We were able to get three refrigerators and one freezer in perfect order.
3. Texas Caviar & Tortillas - a big hit with the upper school kids! Next time I'll mash some and roll burritos for the lower school kids.
4. Tofurky, the most generous company ON THE PLANET -- in addition to the donated pizza for our last day of school party, donated Tofurky roasts and deli slices galore. Now we can freeze them & have TLT sammies all fall long! Seriously, go buy some Tofurky products because they are good and the people who work there are amazing.
5. Trillium kids love hummus, cucumbers and salad. Woo!

For fun, here's this week's menu!
Monday: Texas Caviar, tortillas, salad, fruit
Tuesday: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, bread, tomato & cucumber salad, fruit
Wednesday: Fruity Quinoa Pilaf, salad, fruit
Thursday: Tofurky, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwiches, PB & J, fruit, veggies

I am going to leave a camera at the school so I can have pics of everything to share with you! It's all super simple with minimal cooking, but this summer we are having a FOOD SUMMIT and the program will be more sophisticated and varied.

This was a post-run meal for me. Leftover seitan sausage, sweet potato & mache.

I feel like I need to show you what I'm eating. This was something I whipped up from whatever was in the fridge the other day after a run. I'm always looking for green, protein and veggie all together post-run and this totally hit the spot. I probably also ate some peanut butter toast while this was cooking up, and then some fruit for dessert. I'm kind of simple that way.

We went on a whirlwind trip to CA last weekend to Farm Sanctuary, for the annual Hoe Down. I love the animals, the people, and usually the sun that is there. This time, it was rainy as Portland. Ick. We still had a blast. I only have a few pics here, and none of animals...Josh was armed with his camera so I'll share some of those when he gets 'em to me!
Me & my pal Melissa. That's Cupid behind us, he is a lovely bovine.
We spent some time with the cattle herd in the rain on Saturday. Then, we took a break from the wet in the barn. The two newest members of the herd, Oliver and Elliott, were in there. They could not have cared less about any of us. Ruby & her buddy were desperately trying to get their attention, but it didn't work....

Will you look at that smile? Somebody loves Farm Sanctuary.
SO - I saw a recipe on a friends FB page that I knew needed veganizing. I also felt like I needed to share the recipe and method because it was so dang delicious and easy! Just a bit of chopping and slicing, the typical vegan duties. Heh heh.

Yukon Gold & Zucchini Gratin. OH YES.

Just a bit of Teese or Daiya cheese & you're golden!

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup grated vegan mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons flour (I use white whole wheat)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
4-6 medium sized yukon gold potatoes
2 large yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow or green summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 12 inch cast iron skillet or an 8" square baking dish. Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer 1/2 of the potatoes in concentric circles in bottom of prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Spray lightly with oil. Layer 1/2 of the squash in concentric circles over potatoes. Spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat with rest of potatoes, spray lightly with oil. Then finish with rest of squash and spray lightly with oil. Sprinkle remaining cheese mixture on top. Spray lightly with oil.

Cover pan with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until potatoes begin to brown and are tender, about 25 minutes longer.

This is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Gourmet Magazine. Such is life! Enjoy! This version is BEST!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meat is SO superfluous

BBQ Tofu Sandwich with carrot & mixed greens. Can't see the avocado, but it's there.
It's so easy to forget that people eat animals. Really. When you eat like we do, and when you think about food as much as I do - Real Whole Plant Foods that are yummy - it's kind of sad when you're reminded there are folks out there who just have some chicken or a hamburger and think they're getting a good meal. *sigh*. This sandwich was lunch last Thursday. It was so filling and delicious. Whole grain bun, a tons of vegetables layered in there, and two little slices of BBQ tofu. I love this kind of sandwich.

So yes, we began the BBQ season last week. What a lovely, lovely day it was!
Please pardon this image. It was my second plate when I remembered to take a pic. Sue me.
I rode my bike home from work last Wednesday, and we whipped up some BBQ fast & furious. Boy, was it ever good! BBQ tofu on the grill, asparagus, pineapple, and a big salad with brown rice, tomato, greens, shredded carrot, walnuts, and probably some other vegetables I'm forgetting. It was warm enough to eat outside and we all chowed down. You can see Ruby diving into her seconds behind my plate!

Trillium school lunch last Wednesday!
I'm a bit behind keeping you posted on the lunches. It's going GREAT! Today (Monday the 23rd) we did "hot lunch". Lentil marinara with macaroni, organic greens & cucumer salad, and apples. Sorry I don't have a photo! We served 115 kids!!! There were several who came back for seconds, thirds, and a couple for fourths. I am not kidding. It was awesome.

This pic is from last week. Hummus, veggies, pita, fruit, and leftover chickpea salad sammies. The kids are gobbling up yummy plant foods and loving it. It's so exciting!!

Here's to giving a damn my lovelies!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Day in the Life

Last week, Ruby had a sleepover at her school ( I KNOW!!! ) so cool, huh? Her class voted on an activity they would do as a group and sleepover won. There was to be a pizza party, a talent sharing show, lots of play in the "purpose room" which is the multi-purpose room, pizza dinner, movie, and sleep. I am happy to report that she made it through the night, as did we. I sent her with a calzone since the pizza wasn't vegan. We made some pizza, then, for ourselves.

Shredded zucchini, Teese Mozzarella, walnuts, my red sauce, Yellow Rose vegan parm.
I'm always trying to make something different for breakfast - I adore my peanut butter toast, but it doesn't really fill me up too much if I've gone for a run and then plan to ride my bike to work. I need the toast AND something else. heheheh. I often like to make a big pot of rice to just have around, and so I've incorporated it into breakfast. Check this out!

It's the perfect blend of savory and sweet.
First, I put a bunch of baby spinach in the bottom of a bowl. Way more than you think since it wilts down to nothing. Then i pile on the rice (always brown, never white, this time red & brown combo!). I nuke that for a couple of minutes to get it hot. Then I toss in walnuts, cranberries, and this time some leftover carrot from making Ruby's lunch. I dress it with a bit of flax oil, braggs, nooch (or vegan parm). Toss it all together and it is divine. The cranberries make it a bit sweet and the walnuts & brown rice are nutty good. The green is a great way to start the day and to me, it isn't a meal without green. This would be great any time of day, really!

I will leave you with a pic of my little lady enjoying our Saturday morning scramble. We were also eating this crazy good melon I bought at Fubonn, one of the international markets in Portland. It was a cross between a honeydew & a watermelon. I have no idea what it was called, but I must get more! We all loved it. The scramble was a bit of this and that, and we had our favorite, Dave's Killer Bread. Good Morning Portland!

She is one happy kid. "You are such a good cooker, mom!"
More reports from Lunch Lady Land, coming soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cue the Lunch Lady Song

I am Vegan & I Do Love YOU!

Oh Boy - I've done it now. I'm the new lunch lady at Ruby's school. Hairnet jokes aside, I am thrilled beyond belief and ready to dive in for some serious happy healthy lunch making. The time this takes will work itself out, right? YES it will!

SO - Yesterday was a big deal - we turned on the stove and made beans & rice. WOO! The school smelled delicious as the onion and garlic paved way for the refried beans....the rice was gussied up with some tomato paste and garlic, it was downright "Spanish." There were some corn chips, salsa, bananas and carrots, too. Eighty kids ate yesterday, a record number since the change in the program. Super amazing volunteers are making this happen, giving their mornings for prep and driving to pick up donations or buy food. People are amazing. They care. They make things happen! And, they want their kids to eat a healthy veg lunch which means I am stoked.

I have all kinds of hopes about this food program. I want the kids to eat a healthy lunch. I want to help them feel good and feed their brains. I am so excited to work with amazing Portland people to learn and create recipes, inspire the kids and build awareness about plant based nutrition. I feel like there are so many possibilities and so many ways to make kids lives better. WOO!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Veggie Burger Breakfast

I like savory breakfast most of the time.
Howdy! That pic up there was my breakfast this morning. I am super into making veggie/bean burgers right now. Using all different vegetables, beans, grains and spices, I mix it all up, grill it in a pan and make it a burger or a loaf. This lovely combo was bulgur, kidney beans, sun-dried tomatoes, leeks, garlic, parsley, rutabaga, spices and some gluten flour to bind it all up. I'm working out the recipe because the first batch I made was HUGE. Oops.

This has been a busy and great week for me and food activism. A mom at my daughter's aerial dance class needed help bringing a vegan and gluten free birthday treat to a school party. The mom and her family aren't vegan, but her daughters have all gone to a vegan school. (hello, portland!) So I referred her to the book Health By Chocolate and she made a chocolate avocado mousse that was a huge hit! She told me this as I ran into her at Foodfight  - and I'd never seen her around the mini mall before, so that was a cool coincidence. I coax them into my web and transform them... Mmmwwaaaaaa......

Other super cool news! Josh and I are getting involved in the food program at Ruby's school. The school is in financial straits, like all schools are, and they quit the national school lunch program. It's good they quit, since the program is expensive and laborious, and it was difficult for us to meet the wonky requirements because the meals were vegetarian. It's sad though, because the wonderful hot lunches are no more, but the school is now offering free cold lunch. For the first week it was primarily cheese sandwiches everyday....but this week I got my food handlers card and we added carrot sticks, hummus and pita, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches to the mix. I went in there and made 6 pounds of hummus yesterday morning and they ate it all! So it's getting better! And I have plans/dreams of creating a plant based food program over the summer and bringing back hot lunch. Any ideas you have would be welcome. Here's to giving a damn!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life is a side dish

Hey there! So much going on lately. Bursts of sun in Portland, involvement in the kiddos school, the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, random dinners where I forget to take pictures of the finished product....but here is a fun assortment of things we've been eating, making, selling and doing.

If you're so damn smart, why ain't you rich? It's a weird plate. I know.
These little chocolate chippers are from Julie Hasson's new book, Vegan Diner. Julie is an amazing lady. She's got two fabulous vegan kids, a hilarious vegan husband, a fantastic vegan food cart in Portland called Native Bowl, and she just wrote a beautiful new cookbook! We sell it at Herbivore. The first thing I made were these awesome cookies. They were perfectly soft in the middle and just the right amount of sugar, and I used white whole wheat flour, as usual. Plus, GASP, they are actually low fat. 'Cause honestly, if it has a stick of Earth Balance in it, I'm never making it.

Jackfruit is the equivalent of shredded pork for vegans.
 A couple of years ago, there was a huge jackfruit craze amongst vegan bloggers. At most Asian Groceries you can get canned jackfruit in brine (NOT SYRUP!). Rinse it, shred it, marinate it, cook it up. You can have BBQ, or carnitas style tacos, or any shredded meat flavor. It is an amazing texture and is probably the "meatiest" vegan meat out there. We made both BBQ and tacos the in past few weeks!

Some of the makings of my yellow split pea soup.
A friend of mine who has been moving towards a vegan diet made the comment that there is a lot more prep work when you're vegan. I don't like to think that being vegan is harder to accommodate, or more expensive, or not convenient, etc. But it is undeniable that vegetables take a bit more elbow grease than a slab of meat. They must be washed, chopped or sliced, sometimes peeled, and there are herbs to mince and garlic to chop. So that means you spend more time prepping. Well, okay. To me, that's a small price to pay to eat real, fresh food. It's an investment of time but the payoff is worth it. I like knowing what I'm eating.

Here the sweet potatoes are hanging out with some russets.
At least 2 times a week we eat sweet potatoes. Always skins on, usually baked fries with paprika or chili powder or chopped garlic. Sometimes I use all three spices. I know, crazy!

Brussels sprouts and onions, ready to be roasted.
We like Brussel sprouts - or as my daughter Ruby used to call them, "sprussels brouts"  - an awful lot. Usually I roast 'em up and that's exactly what happened here. I believe this time around, I went with some lemon and garlic to flavor 'em up.

More sides and whole meals soon! Promise! xo