Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to Make Children Happy

Eating muffins in the rain. They are SOOOO Portland.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of two little boys and my little girl, for an entire Saturday. Of course, we all played like mad between rainstorms, silly games like "throw the rag in the tree and get it out with a stick" and "dirty birdbath water soup". Naturally, it necessitated the making of some muffins.

Believe it or not, two chocolate chunks were all this muffin needed.
I'm in the midst of my plant based nutrition class, and we just covered the evils of oil and fat. So I tried these with no oil - and I swear, I never missed it. Sweet enough and perfect texture. I really wanted the kids to be super stoked on the treat, so I put two chocolate chunks in each muffin. It didn't seem cheap or like I was running out of chocolate - it was seriously just enough to make the muffin seem like a real treat. Even Josh said so, and he is way tougher to please than a bunch of cute & spazzy kids.

2 Cups white whole wheat flour (or 1 cup WW & 1 cup AP)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 375º. Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Add the wet ingredients and combine until they are just mixed. Pour into muffin tins. Bake in your preheated oven for about 20 - 22 minutes (test with a toothpick until toothpick comes out clean). Let the muffins cool for a bit in the muffin pan, then twist them out to cool on racks.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whole Food Plant Based Vegan = Herbivore, or, I'm too sexy for this diet

A few months ago I read about this book:
Yes, that says Good Housekeeping. I KNOW - CRAZY!!
At first I thought it was a joke, but then I remembered how the world works. Veganism is now popular enough that Good Housekeeping wants a piece of our vegan pie. Fine by me. It won't clog any arteries and no animal will die for it. Perfecto!
The book looks great, actually. It is perfect for a new vegan, especially one who is approaching this from a health perspective and has access to a basic grocery store. Lots of color photos and simple preparations. The recipes are creative and seriously, I'm gonna make some of them. 

In other news, I am in the process of taking a class through eCornell, the online arm of Cornell University. It's based on Colin Campbell's research including The China Study, plus the work of lots of other influential people who want to use plants as medicine to help cure the woes caused by the standard American diet. It's three classes, two weeks each, for a certificate in plant-based nutrition. I hope to be able to more effectively advocate for a vegan diet, or a more cruelty-free diet, or as it's known in the health circles - a plant-based diet.

So far, I have completed one of the three classes and I am deep into my second. It's eye opening. It's scary what our food choices can mean for our health. I am super motivated and am evaluating much of what I eat and feed my daughter. We do pretty darn well, but there is always room for improvement. The start she is getting will hopefully develop her palate to be one that won't fall victim to mcnuggets, ever. I hope for that so much.

Something that has started to bother me, though, is the simple word "diet." Really, it means "manner of living" but the word has become synonymous with weight loss, fads, pills and exclusionary ways of eating, a la the Atkins diet, South Beach diet, etc. We all know, the word diet has been co-opted & ruined. Today's "diets" are well-executed marketing plans to sell products and make lots of money. That's why there are so many of them. And none of 'em work.

Yet there aren't any vegan / plant-based diets I can think of that come with pre-packaged foods you are required to purchase. You shouldn't have to buy anything in a package, really.  Real food doesn't come in a box that requires you to add water. It comes with roots and is often leafy and green. And those of us encouraging veganism or a plant-based diet don't have any reason to lie to you, we don't even have a product to sell you! On the contrary, we can help you keep your money in your pocket and help you save your own life. So very sexy, indeed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

hey, hello!

Solidarity in Key West. I was so happy to see the word vegan.
Hello! Long time no blog. Family vacation and the ensuing recovery are the culprits. And I'm just not the type to have my camera ready to photograph every meal...I'm old fashioned. Heh heh.

We took a lovely visit with my entire family to the Florida Keys, where for many folks, it's all fish seafood fish fish seafood & fried fish! Not so vegan friendly, or even vegetarian, for that matter. But I did lots of cooking to keep us nourished, and we found one restaurant where we got some yummy sushi and seaweed salads. Plus, a day trip to Key West took us to The Green Republic, which was fun. There we enjoyed a Cuban sammy with Teese - and I love Teese, so that was cool. Otherwise it was tofu scrambles, lots of veggies, simple pastas, beans & rice, mango, pineapple, oranges, apples and peanut butter & jelly. Tasty basics that won't kill ya. You know it.

My little bit of tan is fading, and I've been cooking up a storm. More food to come, but in the meantime, Eat Your Greens. Only Kale Can Save Us Now. xo

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quick Dinner: Rice, Beans, Greens & More

Pardon my poor photography. We can't all be as good as Josh Hooten.
I'm not interested in getting food on the table in 10 minutes every night. Quick just isn't a big priority to me, eating real food is - which is why I like to make everything from scratch. It's always better tasting, sometimes cheaper and always more fun. Yeah, our society is now so accustomed to fast food, fast everything, but we've compromised so much to have it quick. Just reading the labels on packaged foods, I automatically put just about everything back on the shelf and make it myself. I don't need all those additives and hydrogenated oils, etc. Just 'cause it's vegan, doesn't mean it's healthy!

So, I relax at the end of the day by chopping vegetables and hosting a dance party in the kitchen, tripping over the dog and enjoying an adult beverage.

But sometimes you need to have dinner, like, NOW. You realize it's 7:30, the kid has school in the morning and hasn't had a bath yet, and the dog has already gone to bed. We had this happen the other night. I was making beans from scratch but they weren't done cooking, and I'd already made the mango salsa I wanted to recipe test. But the kid couldn't wait for those beans! Time for some improv.

We had some leftover homemade guacamole and the baja queso from the Bandito Pizza night, and a bunch of brown rice in the fridge ('causes we always do). Add some of Ruby's favorite salsa from Trader Joe's, some salad greens, some canned refried beans, and dinner was born. We sprinkled some corn chip crumbs on top which made it crunchy good.

This took all of 10 minutes to throw together. And even if the guac had not been made, avocado chunks would have been perfect. Everything is pretty much something we have laying around, except the mango salsa. That can be the item you make "special" and the rest is fast and easy. There were lots of colors and flavors - and we all scraped our bowls clean.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bandito Pizza

We never tire of pizza. We fight over the leftovers, if there are any. But the other night I went for some different flavors in our pie, and it was a success!
Some background. I went to college in Lawrence, KS, and the best pizza in town was Rudy's. Rudy's Pizza makes a Taco Pizza, and I'd get it every now and then. I remember refried beans and lettuce on it...not sure what else, but even with the cooked romaine on top, it was good. Rudy's is still in Lawrence, and now has Daiya cheese, even. Vegans are everywhere. So if you're driving across I-70, you can get a vegan pie in Lawrence. Just so you know.

For this lovely pie, I wanted a creamy cheesy topping, but it couldn't be the classic tofu ricotta style. Instead I used a basic firm tofu (not super firm), cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, lime juice, salt...there was some other stuff too but it's written down at home....it was so creamy good, with a tint of green from all the cilantro. It was thick but melted perfectly in the oven.

Baja crema or Vegan Queso...no matter what it's called, it was good!
 I started with a cornmeal crust, and cooked the pie in my largest cast iron skillet. The bottom gets perfectly crunchy and everything cooks evenly. It's honestly my favorite way to cook pizza indoors. Grilled is the best, but not this time of year!

The sauce is enchilada sauce, which is ridiculously easy to make. I'll share a recipe soon. We had some leftover, so it was a perfect choice. Next I layered some simple canned refried beans, and some onions, garlic and zucchini that I'd sauteed quickly in a pan.

Sprinkling on those vegetables....
 Big bites of tofu cheese and some cherry tomatoes topped it off. There was a good amount of color, whew! Corn would be a natural addition, or any color pepper, fresh jalapenos, mushrooms, or jicama....

I just fold the top of the crust down & spray it with olive oil. It's perfect.

Heading into the 475º preheated oven.

The pie slides right out of the cast iron. I love that.

See how that cheese melts just so?
Full disclosure. Josh ate the last piece the next day, but it was supposed to be mine. I'll get him next time.