Kabocha Butter [Vegan MoFo Day 1]

I am so pleased to participate in Vegan MoFo, as my blog comeback, this month. I plan on posting 6 days a week, taking Sunday’s off for the next week’s planning and a rest. I intend on each week being dedicate to a different theme– and this week is going to be all about Autumnal ingredients!

So let’s kick of day of one of the Vegan Month of Food with squash, shall we?

Remember carrot butter?
Sneak some more veggies into your diet with this super easy spread!

And it is soooo easy! Just steam and blend kabocha squash  (or any other squash, for that matter, but kabocha lends a uniquely buttery sweet texture and taste). If desired, add some warming spices, such as ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, all-spice, or cayenne.

Suggested uses: use kabocha butter in place of mayonnaise on a sandwich, in a nut butter sandwich in place of (or in addition to) jam. I made a kabocha butter and cashew butter wrap. Yum!, put simply.

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What is your favorite squash?

Posted in squash, vegan mofo | 13 Comments

Gotta Jet!

When you get the morning/afternoon shift at work three days in a row, you need a good breakfast!

I now understand the inconvenience of having to at work at 9 am. Not sure how all you 9-5ers do it. I get up early, but I enjoy my morning– not used to rushing!

This morning needed a filling breakfast, to celebrate the beginning of fall!

Cold steamed kabocha squash, sliced asian pear, sliced apple, walnuts, oats, raisins, cacao nibs, and a spoonful of a super-thick tahini dressing that my mom made (to use as a dip). I went back for more dressing (<— who doesn’t?).

This was super-filling (a bit too filling at first!). Squash is amazing!

Alright, I’m off to work after some more leg stretches (than it’s off the land of vegan raw food!). I am loving the cafe job– so much yummy food to nibble on throughout my whole shift. Today, however, I am bringing lots of sliced produce to supplement, as yesterday I waayyyy overdid it with the dense nut filled raw stuff, and ended up with an awful tummyache and a slightly nauseating lack of hunger for hours. I wish my system wasn’t so sensitive at times (because I really do want to eat cashew cheese, guacamole, and seed bread by the cupful!).

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Today’s Question

Have you ever had “raw cusine”?

I’m not just talking raw kale here. They can make the most amazing desserts and entree’s out of sprouted grains, nut, and seeds! My favorite, I think, at the cafe is the cashew sour cream. It’s kicks butt. I can eat it by the spoonful.

Posted in breakfast, work | 2 Comments

3 tips for when you fire up the oven

It’s that time of year again.

The leaves turn vibrant. The winds get blustery. The temperatures drop. And you crave fall foods– root vegetables and apples and hot oven food!

Ovens are complicated when it comes to energy consumption– and energy outpouring varies from oven to oven (and the state of that oven when you are using it). A few things are for sure– it’s definitely wastes more energy to cook with foil (hello heat reflector!) and to bake with the oven door open.

We can wish for, you know, a solar oven. Or, indeed, for sun with to power it with. But we can easily reduce, though not eliminate, the energy consumption that an ordinary household oven poses:

1. Pack it in. Seriously people– get a toaster oven if you are going to cook one serving. An oven is meant for large dishes and for cooking mass amounts of food. Cooking a single muffin in a huge oven you took the time to preheat is wasteful. Are you afraid that if you bake multiple muffins you’ll end up eating them all, even if you only need one? Buddy up foods so that you can head off overeating (Because consistent overeating– or in other words, taking more than your share– is wasteful, too). For instance, if you are baking one muffin, do it while you bake vegetables, bread, or toast nuts.

2. Use residual heat. Speaking of toasted nuts, have you heard the good news? Even when you turn the oven off, there is still a hot half hour in which the residual heat in the oven lingers. Use it, people! I often put nuts in to toast or foods that need to dry out a bit (no need to constantly check them either, since the heat is waning regardless).


3. Do you really need to preheat? Most food will start cooking whether the heat is up to a specified temperature or not– roasted vegetables, nuts, potatoes, casseroles, and more are fine without a proper preheat. The only exception to this, is of course, baked goods. In which case you can still put other random food in to cook while the oven is both preheating and cooling down. Want brownie points? Use the rapid preheat button on your oven (ignore this if you live in a 1950’s house) and do center rack baking only.

These tips may sound a bit overcomplicated at first glance. But trust me when I say that they do become second nature, and that you will make mistakes. There will be times, as with me, that you may silently curse when you realize you forgot to put sweet potatoes in to cook with potatoes for breakfast tomorrow.

Also, please don’t think that this makes the oven “carbon neutral”. It does not. The oven is a very wasteful household appliance and these tips are simply meant to reduce the footprint of it. The holy oven should not be taken lightly– and when you cook in it with these tips in mind, it won’t get fired up at every available opportunity. You may develop some weird habits (these are normal, please try these at home) For instance, you may get into the habit of saving the baked potatoes dinner until Saturday when you are baking bread.

 

Posted in baking, environmental protection | 2 Comments

Local Love

Over here, Saturday means farmers markets! There are two of them, one we can bike to and the other is to drive to– yesterday the family decided to go the bigger (and more varied) one. Taking the car in that case means we can bring home more food 😉

And what good spoils there are! Summer produce is still lingering, while the more fall-like apples and squash and greens are returning… best of both worlds. We bought our first apples of the season– cute as a button, and I brought home six (yes, 6!) kabocha squash.

Fellow kabocha inhalers understand.

At the market, I was super hungry, and so munched on a fresh ear of corn, in addition to all the produce samples set out ;).


Now that is a real corn dog!

Mom and dad were feeling charitable, and so we each got a raw Brazilian nut brownie from a local zen/monk center that operates a little raw cafe.


I do not lie when I say this tasted like a traditional white sugar/white flour/eggy brownie, and only the texture was slightly different. The ingredients (as best as I can recall): brazil nuts, maple syrup, cacao, sea salt.

After a long night of work, and some sleeping, my (first) breakfast consisted of our newly purchased produce!


Half of a small melon, scooped out (I was going to eat it but it tasted like cucumbers. Not sweet at all.) and filled with steamed kabocha squash and topped with cinnamon. Accompanied by a TON of fresh fruit (not all is pictured, I snacked on fruit before and after the meal as well ;).


I got ridiculously excited to see all the local stuff we got– the rest of my plate (and snacking) had local plums, apple, asian pear, green grapes, and peaches, as well as free nectarines.

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Today’s Question:

Are your anticipating fall?

Fall is not my favorite season– summer will always have the VIP place in my heart (something about the nectarines and raspberries and sun). However, I can see why everyone loves fall here in Michigan. The summers are brutal here!

Posted in fruit, produce | 2 Comments

Sneaky Vegetables

You’ve heard of apple butter. You’ve probably heard of pumpkin butter. Heck, you may have even heard of mango butter.

But did you know that a creamy, versatile spread can be more than delicious, but pack in the nutrition of vegetables?

It’s called carrot butter.

Want some?

Carrot butter

  • The method is quite simple– just cook some carrots to soft perfection, and blend with the least amount of water needed to make the machine process! No need to cook down, as the flavor is good on it’s own (if you want to concentrate the flavor more, however, feel free).
  • The flavor and intensity of your carrot butter will all depend on the quality of your carrots. Last year, my mom canned quarts upon quarts of carrot butter from baby carrots out of our garden. Incredible!

  • You can add a sweetener is you desire– to me it doesn’t need it, say for a shake of stevia, but agave, brown sugar, molasses, and the like are all options that will impart their unique flavor.  You could add any number of add-ins– such as chocolate chips, raisins, or nuts.
  • Carrot butter could easily be called carrotsauce– as it makes an excellent replacement for applesauce. I love to eat applesauce bowls (my vegan version of the bloggie famous yogurt messes)– topped with anything from chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, oats, fresh fruit, dried fruit (raisins!), etc..
  • You may want to can the goodness– the process of sealing the carrot butter into a sterilized jar will make having a quick spread for toast or a sandwich, a topping for oats or hot cereal, or anything else your creative mind can think up.

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Today’s Question:

Do you “sneak” vegetables into your daily diet?

When I was little, my mom would put seaweed powder into our homemade bread without our knowledge to increase the nutrition! Although it isn’t “sneaky” anymore– I now add the dried seaweed to food to contribute good flavor and nutrition. I remember when she first told me. I stopped mid-bite and looked at her in horror 😉

Posted in nutritional info, recipe, vegetables | 5 Comments

Not yo’ Ordinary Grapes

Do you like grapes?


Because I don’t! Those overly-sweet California orbs at the grocery store have never appealed to me as much as, say… a banana. Or a nectarine. (Mmm…. I love me some nectarines!)

When we moved to Michigan two and half months ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long already!), we discovered some grape vines in our backyard. Yesterday, when I noticed they seemed ripe, I ate some to discover that they are very sour (my sister officially hates them ;)).

However, I appear have alien tastespuds, since the sourness and crunch of the hulking seeds just appeal to me.

They were begging to be popped into a recipe– and since I am the pancake queen, what is more fitting than grape pancakes? (With peanut butter on top, naturally!)

Grape Pancakes

Gluten-free, vegan, oil-free, corn-free,
soy-free (if using water or non-soy milk), sugar-free (if using stevia)

The texture of these pancakes have not explored all their possibilities, given that when I made this recipe I only had one flour left on hand! But they are very good, considering the limiting circumstances– let the grapes shine and do the work.

¼ cup fresh-off-the-vines grapes
Stevia (or other sweetener) to taste
Sprinkle of salt
¼ cup non-dairy milk, water, or a mixture of both
¼ cup brown rice flour
⅛ teaspoon potato flour (you may be able to omit)
1/16 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon vinegar

Begin heating a griddle or pan over medium heat. Lightly mash the grapes as best as you can without splattering yourself too bad! Incorporate a sprinkle of salt to get the juices flowing, and stevia (or other sweetener) to taste.

Add milk/water to grape mixture, then mix in dry ingredients. When your pan is hot, lightly rub it with oil and mix vinegar into the batter to activate the baking soda. Cook pancakes evenly on both sides, and serve with your choice of topping (syrup, fruit, applesauce, nut butter, etc.)

Makes one small serving (if you like bigger meals, you may wish to double this).

Printable Recipe

I topped my pancakes with a peanut butter spread, made with leftover hot cereal, stevia, non-dairy milk, and peanut butter— that way it didn’t stick to the roof of my mouth, but was a creamy, delicious accompaniment!

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Today’s Question:

Does any fruit grow in your backyard?

When I was four, we rented a house that had a little orchard attached, but we were not allowed to harvest the fruit. However, my four year old self didn’t quite understand and was caught on more than one occasion with a peach in her hands ;).

Posted in nut butter, oil-free, recipe, sugar-free | Tagged , | 4 Comments

True Veggie Straws!

Those who have a food dryer know the Ima-try-and-dry-everything-cause-it-seems-like-a-good-idea syndrome.

For instance, my ooh-I’m-brilliant idea of drying green onion stalks….didn’t work out too well. Most rotted before drying entirely :(. However, the ones that did crisp well were delicious!

I can’t actually take credit for this wonderful drying discovery– I think it was my mom who first tried putting broccoli in the food dryer. When it came out, she excitedly handed me a piece.

Oh. my. goodness.

You know those veggie straws?

Um, yeah. These are way better (not to mention healthier!). (Veggie straws are…. weird).

When I get broccoli in my free veg box, I dry it. That way it doesn’t matter if it is starting to flower– tastes just as delicious!

Dried broccoli

This is so simple you hardly need a recipe. However, there are few things you should know before eagerly stuffing broccoli into the food dryer!

  • You must blanch the broccoli before drying it– I am told will otherwise turn into a degrading “broccoli fart” . I wouldn’t want to risk it.
  • If desired, season and/or oil the broccoli before drying it. I am too infatuated with it plain at the moment to consider much else, but there are endless possibilities once I tire of it plain. (Hellooooo BBQ nuggets!).
  • While in the food dryer, each floret and piece of stalk will dry at a different rate. Check your dryer frequently so as not to burn your nuggets. But a few tan/brown ones are inevitable (you can probably see them in the above pictures!).
  • Store your dried broccoli in an airtight container, and make sure they are all dried before storing– one wet piece will infect the rest with moisture and spoil the batch over time.
  • Serving suggestions: eat as crunchy nuggets, with ketchup and mustard for the full “American” effect (because every kid grew up on dried broccoli?). Add it to trail mix (homemade or store-bought) for a nutrition boost. Or rehydrate in dishes for instant broccoli, such as soups, stews, and stir-fries!

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Today’s Question:

Have you ever eaten veggie straws?

I have seen them at parties, and whenever I try one I am reminded of my disdain for them. Yuck!

Posted in suggested uses, Uncategorized, vegetables | Tagged | 1 Comment