Making Hard Decisions

It has been exactly 26 days since I have published a blog post. I have not felt inclined to write a post or even look at my blog since that day.

For a couple months I have been questioning my maintenance of this blog. Over two years, I have tried on different writing styles, angles for posts, subjects and focuses for the blog. Non of them felt… right.

I am at a turning point in my life (or so I feel) and am looking at everything I do and have, and deciding what stays and what goes. This not only extends to activities and obligations, but objects and thought patterns. I have been thinking about it a lot and have decided that, at least for now, I won’t be writing for this blog anymore.

Why? I’ve realized that daily writing isn’t my passion. I want to follow my passions… and what my passion is for is food. Healthy vegan allergen-friendly food, which I get to work with every time I go to my part-time job. I have a passion for my rats, and I don’t want any time to be wasted on what feels like a forced obligation that could be spent bonding and being with them. I want to chase my dream of having good relationships with people and travel; share my message with the world.

And I will still be sharing my message! I am thinking to put up a recipe/sustainable/healthy living website that won’t require as much daily writing attnetion. In fact, I already have the domain bought.

But first, I am going to give myself a break. Not have this new project be an obligation, but an outlet for my creativity, when the time comes to launch it fully. I’ll take the gap to actually get back in touch with my creativity. To have joy, without rushing, in creating recipes and photographing them! Give my myself time to collect my thoughts and projects on food.

Now, I am off to play with this adorable face, and live my life effortlessly, with passion, and simplicity.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Best Greens for your Smoothies [vegan mofo, day 14]

Morning used to be my “make a creative breakfast” time.

However, I have been very influenced by Kris Carr (she made a kick-butt documentary about her struggle with cancer, and a book about the diet she combated it with). After reading it, I was intrigued by the 21-day cleanse she proposes, and decided to take it up. I was lucky enough to meet her at a local event she spoke at, too!

(I am the brunette!)

I know I already eat super-healthy… compared to most people. But having found myself unhappy with my diet and how I feeling (a bit sluggish, consuming too much nut butter, too little vegetables, unreliable digestion) that I figured a change would be welcome.

I’ve made a few commitments to stick with for a few weeks (I am about halfway), including eating more raw food, abstaining from sweeteners, and drinking greens smoothies or juices for breakfast……

…. and lets just say I am bad at making green anything. Some mornings I couldn’t even finish the sludge I would pour out of my blender. They were that bad.

Needless to say, breakfasts have not been very creative or interesting while I am simply trying to stay afloat with my attempts at making a palatable vegetable/fruit smoothie. Luckily I have the cafe for inspiration!

The whole idea with Kris Carr’s smoothie/juice breakfast regime is to be easy on the digestion in the morning and let your body continue ‘house cleaning’ on your body– and also to get veggies (nutrition powerhouses) first thing! Considering I would eat about half of my day’s food before noon previous to this, it is a bit of an adjustment with the lighter fare. I have already had a few detox symptoms, and right now I feel a bit funny (not as bad as someone transitioning  from the S.A.D. certainly, but still unpleasant!).

However, a green I’ve discovered that does not impart bitterness to my smoothie is a strange find indeed: turnip greens! The sell them by the pound at my local market and I loaded up for my smoothies, what with their mild flavor and ability to blend nicely, even in my crap of a blender. Lettuce, cucumber, celery, and sprouts aren’t bad in smoothies either. Adding frozen banana chunks (a splurge considering their environmental costs), in addition to local fruits, makes them drinkable. Even enjoyable!

Although, I’ll make a confession: halfway though my second green smoothie this morning, I threw it in the freezer and ate some (no-sugar) peach crisp from desert last night.

Who said rules aren’t meant to be broken.

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What is your take on the “liquids until noon” diets?

Do you abide by smoothies, juices, and teas for your morning, or do you find you are better off with more substantial fare to start your day?

Posted in breakfast, vegan mofo | 9 Comments

Low-Calories, Low-Fat Hummus [vegan mofo, day 11]

The blog world seems to really love hummus. It is, after all, very delicious, healthful; makes for a perfect appetizer spread, condiment, or dip; and packs well for a snack or lunch on the go.

Snack to take to work! Low-cal hummus (recipe below), packed with cucumber, carrot sticks, and apple slices.

 However, if (like me) you find yourself eating hummus by the spoonful (with a very large spoon…), and (like me) find your digestive system protesting at the ingestion of buckets of beans, then you will certainly appreciate this recipe! It is also great for those looking to lose weight, given that it is lower in calories and fat than traditional hummus.

Hummus, tomato, and sprout sandwich on seed bread (gluten-free and raw) that I took home from work.

Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Hummus

Naturally vegan, gluten, soy, corn, and nut free.

1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (about one can– liquid drained, but not rinsed)
1 1/2 cups (give or take) steamed cauliflower
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini OR two tablespoons ground sesame seeds
Optional: whole garlic cloves (I use 1-2)
Optional: salt and freshly cracked black pepper (I omit salt)

Dump all ingredients into a food processor or high-powered blender, and process until smooth. Adjust ingredients to taste– you may want less cauliflower or more tahini, if you are not accustomed to the lighter taste. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Makes about three cups

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Today’s Question:

Do you find yourself ever eating something, and unable to stop?

For me, it happens with the weirdest things, like hummus, hot cereal (seriously!) and fruit. They are all just so yummy and easy going down the throat that you forget to check if you are full or not!

Posted in oil-free, recipe, vegan mofo, vegetables | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Not Just for Raw Foodies [vegan mofo, day 10]

Of course, not day ten of mofo for me. It’s more like my fourth post. :?

Anywho….

Working in a mostly raw, all vegan cafe, I get a whole lotta good ideas for what I can create at home. The galaxy is the limit when it comes to our highly creative chefs. One super simple and healthful habit I have picked up at the cafe is the raw wrap:

At home wrap with refried beans, mustard, sprouts, and raw carrot,enrobed in two overlapping collard greens. Part of a lunch! 

Collard greens! I love collards (more than kale… sorry loyalists!)

At home I rather un-raw-ify my wraps by replacing nut meat with beans and squirting on liberal amounts of mustard. I suppose that it’s the thought (and healthful greens) that count!

But seriously– if you have trouble eating your greens, using it as a wrap is fun and masks the taste with whatever tasty fillings you employ. Beans, rice, cooked or raw veggies, sprouts, and a vast array of condiments (mustard, tomato paste, dressing, nut butter, tamari soy sauce, vinegar, pickles) are at our disposal for these portable salads.

In other news:

I changed my header. Again. I’m still not sure how I feel about the red text color, but I would love any suggestions to make it better or anything!

Posted in vegan mofo, vegetables | 2 Comments

When Time is Pressed…. [Vegan Mofo, day 7]

Ack!

I missed two days of vegan mofo :(. Not only did my recipe tests NOT work, but I had work, and then last night when I planned on mofo-ing I got called in to cover for someone.

Ahh, the joys of working in the restaurant business (although getting raw vegan food redeems the unpredictable schedules substantially;))

When I am tired and hungry after a day of work, I want a snack that seems like a treat… so I turn to my favorite little puffy friend:

Air-popped popcorn!

This is such a versatile snack, and is fact a valuable part of your diet, given that it is popcorn is a whole-grain. To make popcorn brainless and fast, I enlist my friend Mr. Popper;

He pops my popcorn without the need for oil, which cuts calories and makes a blank canvas for whatever flavors I may or may not wish to sprinkle on top. More often than not, I like my popcorn plain. If I feel like eating forever, I pop a HUGE bowl that I munch on while doing an activity or task. However, if you want some extra pop and sizzle in you bowl, try these healthy options:

  • Sprinkle on cinnamon and stevia for a sweet treat.
  • For savory fare, dribble tamari soy sauce onto your popcorn (I like the soggy bits) and top with nutritional yeast.
  • Mix in some dried fruit (raisins!) and nuts for a trail mix of sorts.
  • Just can’t go without salt? Accompany that with some fresh cracked black pepper for a flavor boost.
  • Feeling super naughty? Drizzle chocolate sauce, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or molasses atop you bowl of crunch for a sticky treat that can stand in for dessert any day.

The above photo is from this past summer, when my little sister and I really wanted to go out for ice cream (vegan for me) but had no money. So we made chocolate sauce, and drenched popcorn in it, along with dried fruit and nuts. Yum yum!

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What is your go-to snack?

Posted in fat-free, suggested uses, vegan mofo | 4 Comments

How to Make (fiber-filled, sugar-free) Applesauce

There are lots (and I mean LOTS) of applesauce tutorials on the web. They may tell to do everything from peel the apples to adding sugar, from blending to mashing. Mine will no doubt be just another apple in the barrel, but humor me, will you?

I love applesauce.

AP and I have had a long relationship. Ever since I was a little girl my mom would make and store homemade applesauce–  I loved it about as much as I loved dairy at that age. Of course, after discovering the plight of dairy cows and veal I ditched my cinnamon-sugar yogurt bowls, but applesauce, with it’s wonderful similarity to baby food, has stayed true.

Summer applesauce bowl, with almonds and pomegranate arils.

It is not necessary to can your homemade applesauce (you can just as easily store it in the freezer or gobble it up right away), but canning foods is a very useful skill to have, especially in the case of, you know, the world ending. I mean, come on– in the midst of a crisis or power outage, everyone on the block will come to your house for a canned applesauce party! Tomorrow, we’ll learn how to can it. But for today we’ll just deal with the applesauce part!

How to make homemade applesauce

Breakdown of steps (in conjunction with above collage)

1. Core and chop your apples. Cut off rotten areas, if necessary. No need to peel– we’ll be blending the whole thing so you won’t even know it’s there (yay fiber!)!

2. Dump all your prepared apples into the appropriate sized pot for your project. Put a bit of water on the bottom, and crank the pot to med-high heat. Just add enough water to keep the apples from sticking, as the fruit’s juices will be excreted after they have been simmering for a bit.

3. Cook the apples until soft and mushy*. You now essentially have chunky applesauce– and could stop here if you wish (but pureeing it, as shown in the next step, makes it easier to use in baked goods and recipes).

4. Ladle the chunky applesauce into the blender in batches, and puree.

5. If you are canning, prepare you mason jars. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.

6. Pour your applesauce into you container of choice. If you are canning, you will want to put them in mason jars, and fill it to a certain point for the water bath sealing process to work correctly (slightly higher than shown in the photo).

6. If you fill it too much or little, we can use that old abandoned turkey baster to remedy the problem! (Finally, I understand why I kept it around all these years…. just make sure it’s clean, people, please.)

7. Slap a lid on and store your food! This is where we’ll pick up in tomorrow’s canning tutorial!

* If desired, you could add spices or a sweetener to your applesauce. If I do, it’s in the form of stevia and cinnamon. However, I tend to keep it plain so that I can use my applesauce in baked goods without worrying that extra sweetness or spice will be imparted. Honestly, the taste of the applesauce comes down to how good your apples are (and if you get slightly old or bruised ones, you can cut off the offending parts). What better time to get good apples than in fall?

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Today’s Question:

Do you have a favorite variety of apple?

I can’t believe how many there are– and all have their good points. I tend to like apples that are both sweet and tart with a well rounded flavor. But (and don’t shoot me here) I actually like Red Delicious apples :oops:. However, the best apples I have ever had are in Washington (where I lived before Michigan) called Lady Alice. They were dense, crunchy, and had the most fantastic flavor!

Posted in fruit, sugar-free, tutorial, vegan mofo | 11 Comments

Vegan Velveeta? [Vegan Mofo Day 3]

I have never eaten Velveeta before. Nor do I ever aspire to.

Why? Because I trust those who give me a grimacing look when I mention the ‘V’ word. I don’t need any more answer than that!

(Please) enter: my eco-friendly, animal-friendly, people-friendly version of  cheese sauce:

This sauce/spread thing is not Velveeta. (And between you and me, I actually had to research what velveeta was to write this post!) Nor is it cheese. (Well, it’s the Vegan Month of Food. So, um, duh?). My little sauce makes no attempt at being cheese, but fellow vegans (who ate cheese prior to their switch) know that we have this thing known as a “cheese button”.

Not only does this sauce hit that “cheese” button in you (<— even my dad admits it, and he eats non-vegan cheese), but it is low in calories, is highly nutritious, and gets you a serving or two of veggies! I mean, we are on a roll with the veggie spreads…. so you know that seeing orange cauliflower at the farmers markets got my neurons jiggling like crazy!

Vegan [Cauliflower] Cheese Sauce

I’m sure you can replace orange cauliflower with white,
if you don’t mind the color of the sauce being very pale.

½ head (approx. 4-5 loose cups) orange cauliflower, chopped
Up to 2 cups water, depending on desired consistency and dependency of your blender.
1 small tomato OR ¼ cup canned diced tomato
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon cashew butter (OR 2 tablespoons cashews, if you have a gung-ho blender)
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon tamari OR soy sauce
¼ teaspoon ground tumeric
1/16 teaspoon ground ceyanne pepper
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Optional: maca powder* (adds interesting flavor)

Chop the cauliflower and steam until soft. Drain the cooking water into a liquid measuring cup and top it off to get two cups. Add water as needed to allow your blender to process the cauliflower to a smooth consistency. The amount of water you use will give you anything from fondue, sauce, spread, and gel. Blend in remaining ingredients. Store leftover “cheese” in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

Suggested uses: use as a spread in sandwiches or vegan burgers. Make mac ‘n’ cheese. Use as a salad dressing (highly recommended!). Use as a sauce for veggies, and much more. On October tenth, I’ll be featuring some of these uses for cheese sauce as a Vegan Mofo guest blogger on xgfx.org!

*I haven’t experimented enough with maca, which is an expensive powdered ‘superfood’ product, to vouch for a measurement. I used 4 teaspoons in my second test batch of cheese sauce, which was a bit too much. It worked much better the third time around as 1 teaspoon.

I have a new little feature I want to have after each recipe highlighting ways you can make a dish more eco-friendly. I need a cute name for it, so if you have any suggestions, leave ‘em in the comments!

Ways to make Cauliflower Cheese Sauce more environmentally-friendly:

  • Buy cauliflower at the farmers market, and bring your own produce bag!
  • Buy your spices in bulk
  • Use in-season tomatoes (or can them when they are)
  • Make your own raw cashew butter (it’s delicious with everything!)
  • Store you cheese sauce in reusable glass jars, instead of plastic.
Posted in no-bake, vegan mofo, vegetables | Tagged , , | 16 Comments