Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Veggie Pasta

Since Winter is now here, and the weather has gotten colder, cooked food has become the basis of my diet once again. And quite happily, I must say.
I think I've decided that raw veganism isn't quite right for me- at least not yet. I feel like I have so much energy now that I eat cooked vegetables and whole grains.

Pasta has long been one of my favorite grain dishes. That, rolled oats, and brown rice.
I especially love pastas with creamy dishes and lots of vegetables!
This recipe is really quick and easy to make, and came out super tasty!

For the veggies:
Swirl sesame oil
3 cloves garlic
1 Chopped bell pepper
2 or 3 C chopped broccoli (I like a lot of it)
1 chopped tomato

2/3 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C plain, unsweetened soy yogurt
2/3 C tomato sauce
1/3 C water
3 Tbsp apple sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp tamari
cumin, salt, and pepper, to taste

1 lb whole wheat pasta

Cooking the pasta according to directions on the package.
Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil on medium heat. Add the garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds.
Add the vegetables and saute until tender.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the sauce. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and adjust for flavor.

When the pasta is done, drain, and return to the pot. Add the cooked vegetables and stir in the sauce. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Raw Apple Cobbler

From Thanksgiving to New Year's, it's really easy to forget about health.
It's the holidays, it's cold, family get-togethers... all of these things make eating sweets very justifiable. Especially on Thanksgiving when the majority of my calories are coming from mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie!

But eat decadently doesn't have to mean eating poorly. This raw apple cobbler was well-liked by family- even the New Orleans-food loving step-cousin of mine.

4 C apples, diced

1 banana
1 apple
1/3 C maple syrup
1 T cinnamon
1 C almond milk

2/3 C almonds
1/2 Tbsp neutral oil (I actually used flax oil for omega-3's, and it came out fine!)
pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp raisins

Chop up the apples and place in a serving dish, I leave the skin on.
Then, add all of the sauce ingredients to a food processor or blender and puree. This will make more than enough, so you'll only need about half of this. Pour what you will use over the apples and toss.
Add the almonds to the food processor and pulse. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well combined. Crumble this over the apples.

It can be eaten right away, but it's better if it's left to marinate a little in the fridge. It's perfect for both dessert and breakfast!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sugar of Choice

It's Friday- 4 days after Halloween.
Yet tonight, tons of children and teens are parading the town in their costumes in exchange for some free candy.


Because Halloween was cancelled.

Or, postponed, I should say. A snow storm on Saturday brought down trees that weren't ready for this heavy snow fall and hadn't lost their leaves yet. Trees brought down electrical wires. We had three snow days this week. Some people in my school still don't have power, despite it already being a week past the storm. And it's only the beginning of November...

But I digress. Sure, a snowstorm in October is sad. It's also sad that an uncountable number of children are going to get high off of sugar after this beloved holiday.
It's one thing to indulge on occasion. But does it have to be on processed, refined candy that isn't fair trade? Made from milk from factory farms and cocoa from unsustainable farming practices that exploit its workers?

The answer is NO!
I've surely proven that you can enjoy sugar, Sugar, SUGAR from natural sweeteners! (Of course, only on occasion should we do this!)

Here's a list of all different sweeteners. They all have their own perks, and all are a big step up from the typical refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup that we see too often in the supermarkets!

Agave Nectar: Agave is less viscous than honey, and falls low on the glycemic index. It's 1 1/2 times sweeter than refined sugar, so only 75% is needed when substituting. Temperatures should be lowered when using for baked goods by about 10 degrees F, since agave browns at lower temperatures than sugar does.
There are 3 grades of agave: light, medium, and amber. Light is sweet with a neutral flavor. The flavor intensifies as the color darkens, and the 'blue agave' is the most unrefined and natural.

Barley Malt: dark, sticky, and with a bold flavor. It's not as sweet as agave or as "assertive" as blackstrap molasses. It falls low on the glycemic index, and goes well with Autumnal recipes and breads.

Date Sugar: Date sugar is ground from dehydrated dates. It has a high fiber content and a variety of nutrients. It can be used in place of refined sugar in a one to one ratio.

Dried Fruit: A healthy choice for sweetening things, dried fruit, especially dates, work well for blended things, on top salads or other main dishes to give a sweetness to them, or just by itself for dessert or snack!

Fruit Juice Concentrate: As the name implies, it is made from fruit juice, which is slow cooked. It is different from many commercial concentrates, which often strip the juice of its nutrition and flavor.

Fructose: It is derived from fruit and has a close resemblance to granulated sugar, but it is more concentrated. It has a lesser effect on blood sugar than does sucrose, but it has little nutritional value. When substituting, use half of the amount called for.

Honey: The debate over whether honey is vegan or not is ongoing, but I decided to include it anyway. Although not a part of my diet, honey is a natural source of sugar that has nutritional value along with healing properties. It is said to be the world's oldest medicine. It's thicker than maple syrup and has a distinct flavor. Whenever buying honey, it is VERY important to buy from a local beekeeper who takes care of the bees!

Maple Syrup: My absolute favorite sweetener, maple syrup is boiled down from the sap of maple trees. It has two times the amount of calcium than milk. It's important to buy pure, organic maple syrup to avoid formaldehyde. Also be sure to check if the company uses animal fat in the maple syrup.
Grade B maple syrup has more intense of a flavor than grade A, which has only a subtle maple flavor.

Maple Sugar: This is remains when all the liquid has been cooked out of maple syrup. It has a maple, earthy flavor. It's two times as sweet as refined sugar.

Molasses: Made from the juice of sun-ripened cane. Sulphured-molasses is a by-product of refined sugar, so unsulphured is preferable.Blackstrap molasses is the of the cane syrup after the sugar crystals have been isolated. It is high in nutrients.

Natural, Fair Trade, and Organic Sugars: such as Florida Crystals, are minimally processed cane sugar, usually vegan. The liquid syrup is dehydrated and then milled into a powder.

Rice Syrup: Brown rice syrup is made from rice starch that is converted into maltose. It has the mildest flavor of the liquid sweeteners, but has an almost candy-sweet taste.

Stevia: It is a very sweet pale green powder. It's 200x sweeter than white sugar, so a little goes a long way. Stevia is derives from an herb native to Paraguay.

Sucanat: A product from Wholesome Foods, Sucanat is made from evaporated cane juice, then milled into granules. It retains more nutrients than sugar cane does, and has a mild flavor that has a hint of molasses. Use it in a 1 to 1 ratio for sugar.

And, of course, we cannot forget fresh fruit. The best of the best- you just can't beat it!

So what's you favorite sweetener? ☺

Saturday, October 15, 2011

64 small ways to be Greener

Like nearly every Saturday since June, I went to the farmer's market this morning.

Walking back, I couldn't help but think how funny I must have looked. A girl. A dog. 3 bags- 2 saddle bags, hanging from one shoulder and resting on my right hip, one after the other, and a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag, overflowing with vegetables.

I felt good though. I had done 4 good, green things: I walked to the farmer's market instead of drove; I used a reusable grocery bag and rejected all the plastic bags the farmers tried to put my produce in; I bought local produce as opposed to the supermarket produce; I bought a bag (which is why I had three of them walking bag) from a garage sale I stopped at, doing an easy-green action that put an old, unwanted (and really cool) bag to good use (it carried the jicama I bought).

On top of all that, my dog and I both went on a nice walk. The whole thing took almost an hour and a half- a good way to get in exercise.

It also made me think about what small things we all can do to lessen our impact on the Earth. Walking to the farmer's market hardly seemed like anything. In fact, it was rather pleasant, with the crisp October air blowing the turning leaves.
Buying local produce is always great, since it tastes so good and is cheaper than store-bought organic produce, and using a reusable bag is so much more convenient than using plastic bags.
As far as buying the bag from the garage sale goes, it's just like purchasing something nice from a store, only much cheaper, and the money paid goes to a person rather than a business that runs on very non-environmental practices. It puts an old item to good use, rather than having it thrown out to rot in a landfill.

So I compiled a list. 64 green ideas so far. All are easy and fun to follow, and all make our footprints just a little less. Doing all would be incredible, but we're all human, and it's not always possible to do so. But the more the merrier!

1. Buy Organic (most important produce: peaches, apples, grapes, peppers, potatoes, pears, winter squash, green beans, strawberries, spinach)
2. Use reusable grocery bags, preferably cloth ones made from natural fibers.
3. Eat seasonal, local food as much as possible.
4. Eat whole foods, and buy foods as raw and unrefined as possible.
5. Avoid GMOs.
6. Avoid food colorings in foods.
7. Buy in bulk.
8. Eat a variety.
9. Eat lower on the food chain.
10. Can your own food! Such as tomato sauce, apple sauce, apple butter, etc. Buy tons of the produce when it’s in season, and can for the Winter!
11. Avoid products containing palm oils.
12. If consuming animal products, source from a local, ethical ranch.
13. Support local bakers: store-bought bread, with its packaging, shipment, and long list of ingredients is much less eco-friendly than bread (or any baked good) made locally.
14. Avoid processed foods.
15. Compost.
16. Use reusable napkins, silverware, glasses, and ceramic plates instead of paper, plastic, or polystyrene products.
17. Install an aerator and save water.
18. Use biodegradable garbage bags.
19. Use reusable bottles instead of plastic.
20. Avoid plastic whenever possible.
21. Store things in glass instead of plastic.
22. Recycle.
23. Reuse.
24. Use simpler cooking appliances, like a slow-cooker or toaster oven instead of oven.
25. Unplug appliances when not in use.
26. Use power strips and unplug when not needed.
27. Use rechargeable batteries.
28. Avoid toxic cleaning products.
29. Don’t use disinfectant chlorine bleach (use straight vinegar).
30. Hand wash what you can (never twist or ring animal fibers, use cold water).
31. Hang dry as much as possible.
32. Use cold water only to wash clothes.
33. Move to natural fibers, cotton, linen, organic wool, for clothing, curtains, bedding and other fabrics.
34. Buy well-made, long-lasting products, even if more expensive.
35. Buy secondhand- thrift stores, yard sales, etc.
36. Get rid of old items by garage sale, online, donations, etc.
37. Live simply and without clutter.
38. Grow many house plants!
39. Use paperless invites, or recycled paper.
40. Use eco-gift wrapping.
41. Buy building products as natural as you can buy (No VOC- volatile organic chemicals, or formaldehyde).
42. Up the heat And down the AC (Just 2 degrees closer to air temp year round can save 2000 lbs CO2/yr).
43. Switch to a laptop.
44. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs and use 60% less energy(300 lbs CO2 per bulb a year!)
45. Keep tires inflated well to maximize gas mileage.
46. Rake, don’t leaf blow.
47. Collect rain water to water plants.
48. Shovel snow instead of snow blowers.
49. Avoid plastic deck furniture. Try to get bamboo.
50. Avoid paraffin- based candles. Opt for non-GMO soy or beeswax.
51. Use matches instead of lighters.
52. Repel garden pests naturally.
53. Use natural moth balls.
54. Repel ticks naturally with rose germanium.
55. If it’s yellow, let it mellow… if it’s brown, flush it down…
56. Buy unbleached toilet paper. (Or, for the daring, switch to reusable rags...)
57. Use bikes, legs, or public transportation whenever possible
58. Use herbal remedies, aromatherapy, or other alternative healing remedies before conventional medicine.
59. Embrace natural beauty: Forgo the wasteful make-ups and go natural!
60. Take quicker showers.
61. Take cooler showers- not necessarily cold... just not as hot! ☺
62. Be crafty- turning old clothing unsuitable for donations or other items into new clothing, artwork, etc. is a great way to enjoy crafting and prevent landfill trash!
63. Embrace body hair. It may seem 'gross', but it’s natural. If women were to stop shaving, it would reduce incredible amounts of water and oil for the production, packaging, and shipment of razors, and reduce a great volume of waste in landfills.♀
64. Bring Tupperware containers or reusable coffee mugs when going out to eat or to a cafe instead of using Styrofoam or other disposable containers or cups.


What small things do you do to be just a pinch greener? ☻

Monday, October 10, 2011

Banana Almond Maca Mush

Fruit is great for breakfast. Especially on those hot Summer mornings when it seems all I want is watermelon. But on a chilly morning before a long day of school? I tend to want something more substantial...

This is a tasty bowl of banana-ness, raw, and a wonderful breakfast to wake up to!

☺ 2 ripe bananas
☺ 1 Tbsp raw almond butter
☺ 1/4 C almond milk
☺ 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup (or to preference)
☺ 1 tsp maca powder
☺ cinnamon and ginger, to taste

☻ In a bowl, thoroughly mix the almond milk, almond butter, maple syrup, maca, and spices. Mash in the bananas so that it has a lumpy texture, and voila! Easy, delicious raw breakfast.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

For your Sacral Chakra...

I love Autumn.... It's such a nostalgic time of the year. All the memories jumping in piles of leaves, wearing hats and gloves for the first time in months, apple picking, the holidays coming up quickly...
When I was younger, Autumn, for food, basically meant apple pie and having ice cream that was a little harder to scoop in the cold weather.
Now it means so much more... I'm so thankful I have become such a locavore; how could I live without butternut squash soup, roasted pumpkin, apples upon apples, and all the other foods that mean Autumn?

This is a tasty soup I made when we were shocked with a rather cold day after a string of humid, hot ones. Simple and easy, it makes a delicious, bright-orange soup that will open up your Sacral Chakra along with your nasal cavity!

It is a little spicy, so if you want it to be more toned down, start with small amounts of the spices and work your way up.

Swirl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 C pumpkin, cubed
2 C vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash cayenne
pinch ginger
salt and pepper to taste
Water, to thin, to preference

On medium heat, add the olive oil to a pot and let heat. Add the garlic. Add the onions and peppers and allow to cook for a minute or two before adding the carrots and pumpkin. Pour in the broth and spices and turn up heat to bring it to a boil.
Once rolling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are nice and tender.

Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or so, so it's not too hot. Pour into blender or food processor and puree. Add in salt and pepper to taste, and blend again until it's a smooth consistency.

Double the recipe if you're making it for a family, as it doesn't make bowl fulls. Serve it with salad or over rice, or anyway you like!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Oh sugar, how we love you so...

And maybe a little too much. The USDA estimates that every year, each American eats roughly 156 pounds of added sugar. That's quite a bit... It's no surprise there is such an obesity and diabetic epidemic in this country. What can we expect?
The sugar often comes in the form of junk food, sodas, and candies- not surprising. It also hides in places one wouldn't expect it, like crackers, yogurts, peanut butter, and more.

But sugar doesn't have to be unhealthy. We like it so much because in ancient times, sugar was such a rare treasure to come by. Our desire for it now is a leftover trait from our ancestors who would be driven by their taste buds to work extra hard just to enjoy a sugary natural treat, like honey or sweet fruits. But unlike refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup; fruit and honey are good for us. Being vegan, I choose not to eat honey or any bee products, but there are still plenty of better sweeteners that can be enjoyed.

Dates are the most natural. And then there is agave syrup, rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, stevia, and, my personal favorite, maple syrup (which may or may not be vegan, it's important to contact the company to ensure no animal ingredients are used!). And which of them all is the healthiest?

I have an aunt who is rather adamant about blackstrap molasses. She will eat a spoonful of it, and loves adding it to her breakfasts.
Blackstrap molasses are just one type of molasses, and are by far the healthiest. Out of all the liquid sweeteners, this is probably the least sweet. 'Acquired taste' would be a proper term for it, as it is a bitter, bitter syrup.

The molasses is a byproduct of the cane sugar industry. When sugar is boiled for a third time and the sucrose crystallizes, the nutrients removed from the now-refined sugar concentrate into a thick, dark syrup.

It's rich in manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, and selenium. In fact, it provides more iron than red meat per calorie, and with no fat or cruelty. For just one tablespoon, it provides roughly 20% RDA of iron. Along with 17% calcium for only 50 calories.

It delivers a robust flavor reminiscent of baking cookies during the holidays (or at least for me it does!)

I struggle to eat it straight, for it is not that same delicious, sweet goo that maple syrup is. Yet taste buds grow to accept and love it, as I am doing it. I love adding it to fruit purees for breakfast and to raw pie crusts to give them that extra kick. It may not be raw, and is it in no way a cup of kale, but it's a great way to sneak in extra minerals in places you would least expect it!

How do you enjoy eating your molasses?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rice and Beans...

No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no honey, no artificial colorings preservatives, additives, little, if any, refined foods... yet I feel no dearth in variety of what I eat. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, the occasional whole grain or legume... all making endless combinations of delicious ethical and healthy cooked or raw dishes. But I guess I shouldn't be too surprised when I get asked, "So... what do you eat?" from another.
If that person is serious and interested in learning more about veganism and raw foods, I will answer intelligently. But more often than not, it isn't meant that way, so I answer with a comical, "Rice and beans".

Rice and beans has been something that never really appealed to me... until recently. I've been craving a rice and bean dish all day... So I made one. The weather is getting cooler, so why not make a warming dish to welcome autumn?
Of course, I added a nice amount of veggies to mine. The idea of eating nothing but grain and legume seems boring to me...

Rice and Beans [And Veggies]
1 C brown basmati rice
1 can kidney beans
swirl olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 head broccoli, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 yellow squash, chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp vegetable broth
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp white miso
Cumin, Pepper, and salt to taste

Cook the rice according to directions on the package.

While the rice is cooking, prepare veggies. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and allow to cook for a minute. Add the onion followed by the remaining vegetables.

Sautee for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Reduce heat to low, and add the tamari, broth, vinegar, and miso. Mix well, and add in the rice and beans, stirring to combine.
Add the spices to your preference and enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Raw Buckwheatie Cereal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

But trite expressions aside, eating a raw breakfast is more important that eating any other meal raw. And I need a breakfast that I can anticipate every night. If I weren't trying to be more raw, soy yogurt with fruit and granola, oatmeal, quinoa pilafs, cereal, nut butter on bread with apple slices, or sometimes even pancakes would suffice. And sometimes I don't mind enjoying some oatmeal or soy yogurt for breakfast, still.
But this recipe satisfies any cravings for a non-raw breakfast. It's sweet, flavorful, with a slight crunch, and it's raw!

1 C buckwheat
1/4 C nuts or seeds, chopped up, more or less if you want (optional)
1/4 C raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Soak the buckwheat for eight hours, or overnight. Drain it and rinse well. Rinse once or twice a day until you see little tails, this should take only around one or two days.
Dehydrate them until they are crispy.
Toss them with the other ingredients in an airtight jar or container.

Fill a bowl with fruit. I like to use grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas, but whatever works for you.
Take a small handful of the buckwheaties cereal and toss with the fruit. Pour over some almond mylk like you would pour it on cereal, and add a drizzle of maple syrup.

It's mostly fruit, but it's pretty jazzed up for a fruit salad, and it has been my latest breakfast obsession! ☺

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Creamy Pasta with Chard

"So... what do you eat?" is a pretty common question that not only vegans, but also vegetarians, hear.
It's pretty sad that our society has become so meat-happy that, for some, the thought of losing this precious calorie source is unthinkable.
I find no lack of diversity in my diet. But I can understand that, when growing up on hotdogs, chicken nuggets, and mac and cheese, the thought of no animal products can be difficult to grasp.
I have given up many childhood meals to pursue a vegan lifestyle. 100% willingly, and 100% happily.
Although I do sometimes long for those comfort meals I would eat all the time when I was younger, the thought of eating one disgusts me.
There are, of course, a few things that I can still have. Pasta being one of them.

I remember when I was younger, my dad would make pasta once a week, every week for my sister, brother, and me. I loved it... I would saturate my pasta with olive oil, salt, and parmesian cheese.
Not quite how it is anymore, but the memories are still there.

I still love pasta with olive oil (now with garlic and broccoli instead of the cheese, though), but I love creamy pasta dishes, too. A bit more decadent, but definitely worth having ever so often!
Prior to becoming vegan and finding interest in food preparation, macaroni and cheese and the occasional fettuccine alfredo were the only creamy pasta dishes I enjoyed. Now I've learned to branch out.
Here's a tasty pasta dish that leaves me unsure where exactly to categorize it. Although it has a slight cheesy flavor, it is in no way a vegan mac and cheese attempt. It's just what it is- a pasta dish!

1lb Pasta (I prefer corkscrews, but used rotini... any will work of course :P )

1 Tbsp vegan butter
1/3 C water (Use leftover pasta water if possible)
1/3 C pasta sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp vegan mayonnaise
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 C soy milk (unsweetened, plain), or to preference
Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 (or a whole one if you want) bunch chard

1.) Get the pasta cookin' :D
2.) While the pasta is boiling, mix the mustard with the mayonnaise and add pasta sauce, nutritional yeast, cumin, and garlic powder.
Get the chard washed and chopped up.
Once the pasta is finished, take the needed water before draining and add to the sauce.
3.) Return the pasta pot to the stove, and on low heat, melt the vegan butter. Return the pasta, and mix in the sauce. Add the soy milk to your preference.
4.) Add in the chard. Stirring ever few moments, let the pot sit to allow the chard to wilt.

This pasta reheats very nicely, simply add a little bit more soy milk and heat on low heat over the stove :)


Monday, August 8, 2011

Raw Carrot-Veggie Mush

I think one of the main reasons I get sick of eating raw food is that I quickly fall into a routine. Breakfast goes through cycles, spending a week or so on monkey sandwiches then to raw cereals to fruit salad to smoothies. Lunch is usually a salad consisting of kale, broccoli, carrots, raisins, and either a chopped apple or berries, all tossed with olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice. Dinner will perhaps be a little more varied, sometimes raw pasta, or raw macaroni and cheez, perhaps raw tacos... but it just gets boring.
I once tried a raw chicken salad recipe and found it so delicious, but, like many raw recipes, it required the nuts/seeds to be soaked. Sure, it makes them easier to digest, but it's so inconvenient!
This recipe was just trying to come up with some type of raw vegan meat-like food without the nuts and seeds. Not very meat-like, but still delicious, this recipe can be tossed with a salad, eaten as a little loaf, or on raw crackers or bread. I complemented it with this broccoli mash recipe, and found, with a few modifications, the cheez sauce for said recipe went very well with the carrot veggie mush. With a handful of spinach and raisins (definitely went well with the raisins!!), this was a great lunch!

Carrot Veggie Pate Loaf serves 2-3
3 Carrots
1/2 small yellow onion
3 stalks celery
2/3 C chopped bell peppers (I used red and green)
1 T raw almond butter
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of turmeric
Pinch of cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients in the food processor until well combined.

Cheezy Sauce:
1 T and 1 tsp miso
2 T water
2 T olive oil
2 T nutritional yeast
2 tsp red wine vinegar

Mix the miso with the water, and mix in the remaining ingredients.

This is definitely a recipe I will make again, but for dinner tonight, I might just cook up some pasta and roast some veggies! :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ode to the Farmer's Market

Here’s to the Farmer’s Market
That comes once a week,
It’s hard not to love it
With produce picked at its peak

We grab the reusable bags
Out from the backseats
And soon they begin to sag
With fresh fruit and bright red beets

Purple broccoli and seeded watermelon,
Peppers, plums, and crispy, green lettuce
all the fresh food the farmers are sellin’
And it’s all local, healthy, and completely delicious!

And when the cute organic farmer flashes his smile
It’s no use trying to not splurge
and buy enough zucchini to last quite the while
And eat enough to fall into an inevitable purge

It is better for the body
And easier on the earth
To not buy is folly,
And will lead to certain dearth

Better than organic,
Healthier and Tastier
There's no need to panic
For Local is Superior!


It's been a while since I have lasted posted... between spending a week at my aunt's and uncle's, a two week vacation, my cousin and aunt practically moving in with us, and going through a knitting frenzy, I haven't been doing much experimentation in the kitchen. (well, I have, but haven't been writing anything down).

I'm going to take advantage of the fresh, local produce (and yes, there is now an organic produce stand!) and increase my raw food intake. It has been a while since my maintenance of 80% + raw, and I definitely feel the difference. I still feel great- hyper, energetic, spastic.... but not as great.
I remember reading "Nothing cooked tastes as good as raw feels." Now, I'm not so sure if this is quite true or not... And I'm definitely not ready to abandon cooking and cooked foods completely (I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to that, but of course, I never thought I would be vegan either!). Returning to to at least a 75% raw diet is something I most definitely want to do, though. So here goes!

The improvised raw lasagna I made today has inspired me to experiment further with raw food, and that is what I shall try to do!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Walnut Maple Raisin Granola Bars

A successful granola experimentation... :)

Walnut Maple Raisin Granola Bars
1 C rolled oats
½ C grounded and/or chopped up walnuts
½ C oat flour (ground up oats)
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¼ C grapeseed oil, or any lightly flavored oil
¼ C maple syrup
¼ C raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together all of the ingredients and pour into a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Press them down, and stick them in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
Enjoy! :D

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sunflower Granola

I've been in a granola daze lately... Granola, chocolate, fruit, and peanut butter. It seems like my diet has been based around those four things for the past couple of days. Perhaps not the healthiest diet, but it's better than what most eat, right?

I hadn't actually made granola for some time, and after doing some experimentation with granola bars (with a couple successful recipes, which will come soon!), I wanted just simple granola, so... that's what I did! :D

Sunflower Granola
2 C rolled oats
2/3 C sunflower seeds
1/3 C coconut
1/3 C grapeseed oil
¼ t salt
1 t ginger
½ C sunflower seed butter
½ C maple syrup
A few spoonfuls of brown sugar, if a sweeter granola is desired...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix everything together in a bowl, and bake for about an hour or so, or until it's the level of crunchiness you want. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes while it's in the oven, and enjoy! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Turtle Mud

Nearly every Tuesday, after my sister goes to work, my mom and I go food shopping at (what is perhaps the greatest corporate business there is) Whole Foods. I love it- aisle upon aisle of all sorts of healthy, organic, vegan foods. Not to mention the food bar...
It's pretty amazing how a supermarket manages to give me more options than the typical restaurant can. I just love being able to decide whether I want Thai noodles with sesame tofu, or the vegan Penang with a potato Somosa, or maybe just a sald or roes oats with fruit. And they even have vegan desserts!? Bliss! (It's so nice to have one day a week when I get a break from making my own meals)

Even my brother enjoyed the food they have there. He is nothing like me when it comes to eating habits... I'm the organic lovin', raw-enthusiast, locavore, vegan... He's the chicken nugget guy. 'Nough said.
But he liked the food at Whole Foods- albeit, all he got was chicken, mashed potatoes, and a turtle cake.

Now, I've never had anything Turtle before. But the very idea of mixing chocolate cake, pecans, caramel, and whipped cream enthralled me. I had to make a vegan version of this. I really wanted to try it...

So I did. That following weekend. And it came out wonderful!

Turtle Mud:
1 Chocolate cake recipe (Below)
Sugar sauce (Below)
2 C roasted pecans
1 Tub of Suzanne's Rice Mellow- or any type of vegan marshmallow fluff or whipped cream you want (but, damn, this stuff is good!)
The Cake:
1 ½ C sugar
½ C vegan butter
1 ½ C flour
¾ C cocoa
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ C applesauce
½ T vanilla extract
¼ C agave
1 ¼ C almond milk
1 T vinegar

1.) Preheat oven to 375.
2.) Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to thoroughly combine.
4.) Pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan, and bake for 30 minutes

While that's in the oven, make the sauce:
In a blender or food processor combine the following:
¾ C pitted dates
½ C maple syrup
3/4 C water
½ T cinnamon
¼ C plant milk (I used soy)

When the cake is done cooling, cut it into 1 inch cubes, or whatever size you want. It's alright if it crumbles, after all, mushed cake always tastes incredible!

In a dish large enough, start adding some cake, spoons of rice mellow, spoons of the syrup, and pecans, to get a good mix of everything. And voila! Turtle Mud!

If you're making this for just immediate family, you may want to half the recipe. Unless, of course, you want to be stuck with leftovers ;)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Raw Asian Salad

Chinese food has long been one of my favorite cuisine, although I would always get the same thing (chicken and broccoli- yuck!)from a somewhat-dirty place. I finally began to really appreciate Asian food after going vegetarian and discovering a veg Asian restaurant not too far from me. And, especially after going vegan, I found it so nice to be able to actually look through a menu and have options rather than just getting the house salad or plain pasta.
I was happy to find that making raw vegetables Asian-style was easy and tasty. I decided to take raw Asian food a step further when I found some cabbage and mushrooms in the fridge that just needed to be used.
The outcome wasn't bad at all! My meat-loving dad even rated it a 7 out of 10 as a meal and a whopping 8 1/2 as a salad! (My mom gave it 8 out of 10 for a meal and 9 out of 10 for a salad)

Asian Salad serves 3

1 ½ C shredded cabbage
3 carrots, grated
2 stalks celery, diced
1 C snow peas, chopped
1 C button mushrooms, chopped
1 shallot, diced
2 scallions, chopped

2 ½ Tbsp Olive Oil
1 ½ Tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp Nama Shoyu
½ Tbso rice vinegar
1 Tbsp Water
½ Tbsp Lemon juice
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp white pepper

Prepare all of the vegetables and mushrooms, and toss in a large enough dish.
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, and pour over the vegetable mixture. Mix well.
You can eat it now, but it tastes better if you let it marinate for an hour or so.
Serve over a bed of spinach.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Granola Bars

Granola bars are amazing. There's no doubt, whether it's an elaborate bar, or a simple, raw, nut & date bar.
But the store bought stuff can get a little expensive... So why not make your own?
My mom likes having granola bars (or cereal bars) around to bring to work or have as a snack. The only bad thing was she would buy Kashi. I do have to hand it to Kashi for getting more people into eating organic, relatively healthy things, but Kashi is just a branch off of Kellog's- one of the largest buyers of palm oil there is. Not to mention the long list of ingredients on those bars, which also includes milk from dairy cows raised on CAFOs (if you would call mass producing a living animal raising...).
To get her to stop buying them, I promised I would make my own granola bars for her.

The first couple of tries did not work. But then I discovered the glory that is parchment paper!

Basic Granola Bar Recipe:
2 C rolled oats
1/3 C oat flour
½ tsp salt
1/3 C nut/seed butter (I like using a mix of different ones)
1/3 C vegan brown sugar
2 T rice syrup
¼ C safflower/sunflower or grape seed oil
¼ C agave syrup

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees
~Mix all the ingredients together, and press into a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

These are delightful with some melted chocolate on them, or with chocolate chips. And it's so easy to add any type of whole nut, seed, dried fruit, or whatever floats your boat.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Very Vegan Birthday Party! (And my Lemon Cake Recipe!)

It's hard to believe, but I'm reaching the end of my sixteenth time around the sun.
To celebrate, my parents actually allowed me to do all the cooking for my birhday party.

I had picked out recipes, made shopping lists, even made an itinerary for preparing the food. I was happy and excited to do this. Of course, nothing really went as planned, as a going-on-17 year old preparing a feast for 15 people, with dessert, can be a little overwhelming. But the results came out wonderful nonetheless, and almost all (except for a couple picky eaters) were impressed! Even my little cousins were eating mugwort soba noodles!
The meal was Asian themed, with some Mexican appetizers courtesy of my sister :)

Here are some of the wonderful recipes I made that are definitely worth noting:

Spring Rolls
General Tao's Tofu
"Beef" (Seitan) Teriyaki
Lo Mein
Raw Wild Rice Salad

I will admit I did not do everything on my own. My aunt prepared a delicious seitan dish and a rice salad, and also helped me make the spring rolls.

And of course, dessert!
Along with my thin mint cookies, I made a raw carrot cake, an igloo cake, cupcakes, a lemon cake, and featured a vegan ice cream cake, too!

Almost everyone seemed to agree that my lemon cake with raspberry topping was the best, so I figured I'd share it with whomever happens upon this blog (which probably isn't too many at this point)

My Lemon Cake:
2 C while whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 C applesauce
2/3 C grape seed oil, or any mild flavor oil
1 C plant milk (I used almond)
1/2 Tbsp lemon extract
1 T fresh lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.
3) Pour into greased cake tins or cupcake pans. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes up clean.

Raspberry sauce:
1 C frozen raspberries
1/2 C vegan brown sugar

Heat the ingredients in a saucepan on medium-low heat just for a few minutes, until the brown sugar has dissolved.
Spread on top of the cake, or on the bottom to let it soak.

The ice cream cake was much easier than I thought. I did try to make my own ice cream, but it was too much work using my little ice cream making ball, so I gave in and bought coconut ice cream from the health food store.
Let the ice cream sit on the counter so it is soft enough so that you can easily spread it in a springform pan. Once you get it to a thick enough layer, sprinkle on cookie crumbs, graham cracker crums, fruit, or what have you, and freeze it while you allow the rest to melt completely. Once the first layer is hard, and the top layer ice cream is melted, pour on the top layer so it's smooth and pretty. Sprinkle on some more of the filling to decorate it, and freeze it, and voila!
Just let it thaw a bit when you're ready to serve it, and take off the top part of the pan.

It was a fun day, to say the least, and I'm certain almost everyone enjoyed it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Thin Mint Cookies! (with a yummy peanut butter variation)

Girl Scout cookies were no doubt the best part of being a girl scout. Sad, I know, but those darn cookies could be eaten by the box they were so good. I loved them all, Tagalongs, All Abouts, but of course, the best of them all, the Thin Mint.
What could beat a chocolate mint cookie with a catchy name like that?

A vegan version, of course!!!

This Mint Cookies:
~1 C white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
~ 2/3 C vegan sugar
~ 1/2 tsp salt
~ 1 Tbsp baking powder
~ 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp cocoa
~1/4 C grapeseed oil (or any mild flavored oil will do)
~1/4 C applesauce
~2 Tbsp agave
~2 Tbsp water
~ 1 tsp peppermint extract

~ Choclate for melting

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Add the oil, applesauce, agave, water, and peppermint, and mix until combined.
3) Mold the dough into small round patties and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or to get them to be crispy when they cool. The time will vary depending on how big you molded the cookie.
4) Once the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate in a double boiler*. Dip the cookies in the choclate and get them well coated. Transfer them onto parchment paper (I like If You Care brand) to cool. Store once the chocolate has hardened (...or eat them)

* You can also use a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, although the bowl can move around, so it's easier to burn yourself by doing that.

Peanut butter variation:

The one combo that is better than chocolate and mint, in my opinion, has to be choclate and peanut butter. But what about all three?
I blended about 1 C of peanuts with 4 dates and a few spoonfuls of store bought peanut butter (unsalted), blended in my food processor, and got a stiff, tasty, peanut butter that could be easily molded into a patty to fit ontop each cookie.
This peanut butter stayed on the cookie when being dipped in the chocolate, and stays in shape when you take a bit of the finished Thin Mint.

My sister likes them a lot, and I'm very happy with how they came out too! I'll be working on a dehydrated raw version, and hope I can get something like that to match up.
Tomorrow, these lil' cookies will be bagged up and placed in a handknit (by me) bag with little knitted bunnies for my mom for Mother's Day,and here's hoping she'll like them too!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MacaRAWne and Cheez

I don't think I have ever had a hard time being vegetarian or vegan. The only thing that makes things a little difficult would be eating out at restaurants that aren't able to comply (Because when I order a baked potato and steamed broccoli-the only two vegan things on the menu- with nothing on them, I mean NOTHING, not melted butter!!!). But other than that, I have had nightmares about accidently eating meat (obsessive?), I have no yogurt cravings, could care less about ice cream or cream cheese, and cheeses kind of gross me out- especially melted.

Although, I did nonchalantly say to my sister that if there were anything I miss, it's macaroni and cheese. I would never eat that again (well, exept for vegan versions, of course), but the dish does hold a lot of memories for me, like lunch at my grampa's, making it for dinner while on vacation, mixing in ridiculous amounts of broccoli to it...

I have tried to find some vegan substitute to match up to dairy mac and cheese, but to no avail... And then I tried a raw recipe for i... I've made quite a few changes to it, and I have to say, of all the vegan mac and cheeses I've had, this is my favorite, despite the pasta being carrots!

MacaRAWne and Cheez: Serves 2-4
6-8 carrots, grated (or more if you want)
3/4 C finely chopped broccoli florets
1 avocado
1/2 C nutrional yeast
6 Tbsp water (more or less, to your preferance)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp nama shoyu
Salt and Pepper, to taste

~Mash the avocado with the nutrional yeast, water, lemon jice, garlic powder, and nama shoyu. Add salt and pepper to taste.
~Mix in the grated carrots and chopped broccoli.

I think it goes best on top of a handful or two of spinach or lettuce! And with some dried basil or oregano sprinkled on top, too... yum!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Italian Veggie Soup (Stew?)

It seems my mom is getting a little more interested in the food I make. Although she draws the line at certain raw foods and rather foreign cooked concoctions (such as anything Indian), she's beginning to have me make meals for her, and even will have juice as meals, too!
And I enjoy it. I'm strange, and packing lunches gives me a sense of pleasure. (I swear, being able to pack lunches is the one reason why I would want kids)

Although this was a few weeks ago, she asked me to make her soup with lots of veggies. Which was fine with me! I've since made this recipe twice, and it's just so good! And it was a great way to use up some of the vegetables that had been in our fridge for some time, too.
Now, I'm not really sure whether it should be called soup, as it was more veggie than broth, but whatever works, I guess...

Italian Vegetable Soup
~Swirl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
~4 cloves garlic, minced
~1 large onion, diced
~1 C carrots, diced
~2 medium potatoes, diced
~3 celery stalks, chopped
~1 medium yellow squash, diced
~1 medium zucchini, diced
~2 C vegetable broth
~2 C water
~1 24 or 26 oz can of tomato sauce
~2 bay leaves
~2 Tbsp dried parsley
~1 Tbsp dried oregano
~1/2 Tbsp dried dill
~1 Tbsp dried basil
~1/4 nutrional yeast
~ 1 can kidney beans
~ 1 can corn
~ Salt and Pepper to taste

1.) In a large pot, heat the oil on medium-low. Add the onions and garlic, and let cook until the onions are translucent.
2.) Add all of the vegetables (carrots, potatoes, celery, squashes), herbs, water, broth, tomato sauce, and nutrional yeast and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for 40 minutes.
3.) Add the beans and corn and allow to simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste (it may be salty enough depending on the tomato sauce and broth used)
4.) You can add some more water or broth if you want it more liquidy.

I love adding some kale to mine once it's ready to be served. The heat of the soup just in a bowl makes the kale crispy and warm! :)