Monthly Archives: April 2013

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars

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Granola bars were always a favorite of mine. I’m guilty of being especially fond of the Quaker Chewy bars, until the whole GMO thing came to light and the fact that they use milk powder in their granola mix (I know, right??). Late last night, the craving struck. I wanted a granola bar and I wanted it right then and there. Knowing I couldn’t eat my non-vegan roommate’s chewy bars, I starting digging around for ingredients to make my own. I climbed up onto the counter to get a better view of the contents of my cupboard. With the excitement mounting, I starting picking different grains and testing their raw crunch factor until I found a suitable mix for a granola bar.

And then I remembered the box of Theo drinking chocolate that I scored at the NYC Green Festival this weekend.

I had the makings for a chocolate chip chewy bar, and miraculously all of the ingredients are organic.

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Now, I’ve dabbled with making my own granola before, but this is my first bar excursion. I have to say that I’m quite pleased with myself.

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So what did I use to make these tasty little guys?

  • 1 cup of old fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Ground Oats, but I think any slow cooking chewy oat will work)
  • 1/2 cup of raw millet
  • 1/2 cup or raw white quinoa
  • 1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 raw honey if you’re a honey-vegan, use a scant 1/4c of agave if you abstain from it.
  • 4 shakes (about a 1/4-1/2 tsp) pumpkin pie seasoning. Apple pie will work as well, but it’s really just a mix of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • 3 tbsp chocolate chips
  • Optional- the Theo chocolate that I used already contains vanilla, but if yours does not add about a 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste or extract.

The breakdown:
In a wide shallow pan, (I used a 12″ nonstick saute pan), turn the heat up to medium high and add your coconut oil. Once it melts spread your oats, quinoa, and millet. Toast them up until they start to smell nutty and get to be a golden brown. Don’t let them start to smell like burning popcorn, if you start to smell that then take them off the heat and give them a stir. If they’re still pale in most places, turn the flame down to medium. Add your salt and cinnamon mix/pumpkin/apple pie seasoning and stir it all up. Now you’ll want to turn the heat down and let it cool until it’s warm to the touch. I know raw honey can be a pain to work with, so make sure the granola is still warm enough to make it easy to distribute the honey but not too hot so as not to denature the healthy properties of it. If you’re adding vanilla, the time to do it is along with the agave or honey. Once your agave/honey (and vanilla, if applicable) are evenly distributed into your granola, wait until it cools a bit further until you add your chocolate chips. I stirred mine in a little too soon and the chocolate melted a bit. Once you’ve mixed all of your ingredients together, line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment or wax paper and press the granola into the pan and let cool. After they’ve set, turn the granola brick out onto a cutting board and slice into 1″ sections.

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Coconut Curried Chickpeas

Not even two weeks ago we were getting warm, sunny, beautiful weather. For the past week though- cold and rainy. What more do you want on cold, rainy days than to cozy up in a fluffy blanket with a warm bowl of something delicious? And a book, of course. In my endeavor to make something hot and yummy, I rummaged through the cupboards to see what I could whip up.

Curry? Check!

Coconut milk? Check!

Chickpeas? Perfect!

And so it began- my experiment with making anything curried. Now I’m certainly no expert, and this is relatively mild in comparison to the curries I’ve tried that are made by others who actually know what they’re doing, but it’s still delicious and hit the spot for me on a chilly day.

chickkypeasWhat will you need?

  • 1 green bell pepper, diced or julienned
  • about a 1/2 dry pint of white button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • a big handful of baby or 2 regular sized carrots, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic, or about 2 cloves
  • 1 13.5 oz can or about 1.5-2 cups of chickpeas (if you’re using bagged, make sure to soak and blanche them first!)
  • 1/2 of a 13.5 can of coconut milk (shake if you’re using full fat, or skim the cream off before shaking, whatever you desire)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (I prefer without ginger, and I used a Jamaican style)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • and the secret ingredient- a pinch (less than a 1/4 tsp) of cinnamon!
  • optional- a few shakes of red pepper flakes or hot chili powder to your taste

First things first, you might want to make a  big ol’ pot of basmati rice. If you’re doing this, start it before you start making the chickpeas so they’ll finish at the same time.

For the chickpeas, start by heating up a 12″ saute pan or any relatively shallow pot. Heat up the pan over medium high heat and add your coconut oil and salt. Once you hear the salt begin to sizzle, add all of your veggies, chickpeas, and your garlic. Saute them until the edges of the onions just begin to go translucent. If your onions are browning, turn the heat down a little- we don’t want any caramel action in here. Once your onions begin to go translucent, add your coconut milk, curry powder, cinnamon, and chili or red pepper flakes. Stir it all together and let it simmer until the liquid reduces to half.

Serve over basmati rice with whatever veggies your heart desires.

Enjoy!

 

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Perception of Beauty

I don’t have a recipe for you today, but I’m working on a new cupcake recipe that I’m excited to share with you! Hopefully I’ll have it up within the next few days.

That’s not the reason I’m posting, though. Last night I was dawdling around on Facebook and stumbled onto this video: 

Now I know Dove and Unilever aren’t cruelty-free or vegan, but the message this video gives is so important for people to see. This video is part of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, which is mostly aiming towards women; but I feel the message reaches more widely than just the female audience. Seeing this makes you wonder and try to reflect on how you see yourself, versus the beauty others see.

So what can we do to see the beauty others see in us? Why must we focus so hard on the negatives? The imperfections? Most of us have already come to terms with the fact that media is all photoshopped and airbrushed, but why are we still holding ourselves to that “standard”? Why would we be “more beautiful” if we had a smaller nose; less freckles; fuller lips; no wrinkles etc. Why can’t these features contribute to our own unique brand of beauty? For some reason, we can look around at all of our peers and see their beauty. Sadly, we’re entirely reluctant to see ourselves through the same lens.

What can we do to embrace the looks we have rather than try to come up with ways to wear masks? This video is a start. Instead of focusing on the dark circles you got from staying up a bit too late, maybe emphasize your gorgeous brown eyes. Have a  prominent nose, like me? Maybe it’s time to start embracing it instead of wishing you could afford a nose job (guilty). Maybe you have strong cheekbones, maybe you have a round face, an angular jaw… each one of us has the power to be beautiful. It’s already there, it’s just a matter of opening our eyes to see it.

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A Tofu Scramble and Thoughts on Confidence

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Being a woman, and having female friends, our confidence is something that is relatively easy to shatter, and like trust; it can take a very long time to earn it back again. We can break our own confidence, or it can break at the will of another’s harsh words; simply a look by another, or worse, just by seeing someone walk by. I don’t even mean confidence about only our physical appearance. Society has shaped itself into something that has made every one of us very vulnerable and what we look like, do, or believe is only okay upon receiving the approval of the majority.

Knowing this fact, how many days do you look in the mirror and throw on an outfit that you might like, but are worried someone else might think you look ridiculous? You try a new hair do out, you like it, but you’re afraid you just “can’t pull it off”, you don’t want to wear make-up, or you do want to wear make-up one day; but decide against it because of how other people might react to this different facade? Have you ever stood in front of the mirror in your 2 piece swimsuit and thought for a second “wow I actually look pretty hot!” but decided against wearing it? What about all that “embarrassing” music you have in your ipod? Don’t want people to see it? Collect something that you don’t want people to “judge”
Why?

We’re always second guessing ourselves! Maybe it was a cruel ex who never thought we looked good enough, maybe it was a parent that was just a little too hard on us, maybe we got picked on in school, maybe one friend (as much as we claim to appreciate it) is a little too brutal in their honesty. We can even blame it on the media; dictating what’s cool to do, wear, listen to, watch, speak like, look like, weigh, and what’s not. Where do you think these fad diets come from? It’s all some bologna to get you to fit the cookie cutter mold we’ve been trained to look up to. Everyone in their own shape and size is beautiful in their own way, some are naturally very thin, and some are heavier.

Regardless of whom or what may have kicked our confidence out at the back of the knees; upon talking to several women in recent weeks and realizing just how low our confidence is as a whole, I think it’s time to really sit back and think about why we look upon ourselves with such disapproval, and think of reasons why we shouldn’t. Confidence isn’t really something that just happens. Think of it like getting over a bad break-up. Can you get over someone if you don’t try? No, you can’t. You cry, and you cry, and you cry some more, but if you’re only thinking about how much you miss your S.O., then how on earth are you ever going to get over them? You need to think of why you broke up, and why you’ll be okay. You have to think of what you can do. That’s how confidence works. Why is it gone? Why did I let go of it? Don’t I deserve to have it back?

My confidence didn’t used to be what it is today, and it will continue to grow and change. Life is rough, and I’ve had my years in the toilet; everyone has their tough patches. There was a time when I would see my reflection and feel nauseous at what I saw, because of my weight, my face; I would look and see not only my physical appearance, but what a “loser” I thought I was. One day I realized how my being so hard on myself would influence the most important person in my life: my little sister. If I keep doing this to myself, will she pick up on my traits? Will she feel so terrible about herself if it’s okay for me? That day, I forced myself to strip down in front of a full length mirror and say ten things that were beautiful about myself. 5 physical, and 5 personality. I think the first day I did this I was up until 4 in the morning with nothing to say to myself. I forced myself to keep doing this until I started to believe it. In the morning while getting ready I would finally not have to think about it, and a compliment to myself would pop into my head. I encourage you all to try this, male or female. No one has to know that you’re doing this so don’t feel embarrassed… I know it feels silly but I really think this helped to pick me up from a very unhappy place.

I think it’s fair to say that we all have at least one outside person in our lives that tells us how beautiful or handsome we are. I can say this because I already know that we are all beautiful people; inside and out. I was lucky in finding a boy that really opened my eyes to this, and helped to really BELIEVE what I had been telling myself since I was 16 years old: “you are beautiful”, and this means something to me, because he actually knows and believes this, pure and simple.

I’m here writing this to you all right now to be to you; what his eyes are to me.

You’re all on this journey, and we’re all on different levels. We need to learn to accept ourselves and better ourselves on a deeper level than looking like whichever celebrity. I am hoping that you are doing this to please yourself and no one else. I hope that envisioning your final “product” isn’t the only thing keeping you going; because I know that every single one of us deserves to truly love every single facet of ourselves, in progress or not. The journey is the part that really matters, I want you all to sit back and think about what you’re telling yourself to motivate you through this ride: You are already beautiful, and you deserve to be happier.

You hold all the power in the world to make yourself beautiful, and all it takes is the confidence to see it in your own reflection.

Now: On to the food!

Today we have a Tofu Scramble

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I normally don’t like tofu unless it’s marinated to taste like something else. I hate using it in frostings and dessert recipes. I don’t like it in smoothies. To me, it just tastes like mushy beans. Tofu scramble is the main exception for me.

In my pre-vegan days, eggs were my favorite food (that weren’t ice cream.) They’re versatile! They’re filling! They’re delicious! But those days are over, and I have no choice but to try to make tofu taste as amazing as possible- and that’s where this tofu scramble comes in.

The goods (This is how much I use to feed just myself):

  • 1/3 cup of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed, then crumbled
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced or julienne
  • 3 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • a small handful of seitan crumbles or slices
  • 1 tsp curry powder (make sure it doesn’t have ginger! if you don’t have this, just use cumin, coriander, turmeric- about 1/4 tsp each.)
  • a healthy pinch of sea salt (I like to use celtic grey salt)
  • a few cranks of fresh black pepper
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp of water or veggie/mushroom broth
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional!)

First things first, heat up your non-stick skillet. Add your olive oil and start to saute your onions and garlic with the salt, pepper, red pepper, and curry.

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Once your onions start to become translucent, add your mushrooms. They’ll only start to brown on the edges when you want to add your water/broth, seitan, and your tofu. If you don’t like your peppers raw, you can add them in now, but I like to save them for last so they’re nice and crunchy.

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Once the liquid is almost cooked off, add your nutritional yeast and turn off the heat. Mix it in so that the yeast becomes smooth, but you don’t want to keep it hot for too long so as to prevent the vitamin B12 from denaturing. Once that’s all mixed in, toss in your peppers if you haven’t already and eat up!

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Avocado Banana Pudding Fudgesicles

The weather is starting to get warmer, soon enough we’ll be chowing down on fresh produce and sipping yummy smoothies! Some days, though; it just gets too hot. Being a cold weather lover, I know I’ll have to start preparing myself for the heat good and early. April sounds about right.
So what inspired these little popsicles? I actually bought a sack of hass avocados a few days ago, and they’re starting to get a bit too soft. I also ran out of cashew ice cream, and I can’t be caught without when the chocolate craving strikes. Also, Nutiva is hosting a recipe submission contest to win a Vitamix blender! To enter your own recipes, you can enter by clicking:  Nutiva’s Superfood Recipe Giveaway. The link will take you to the giveaway page on facebook.

popsicle

Pinterest has become something of a little bit of an obsession in recent months. I pick some ideas from a recipe here, another recipe there, and love to create these franken-recipes, this one included. We’ve all seen the banana-peanutbutter-chocolate banana ice cream, and we’ve all seen the avocado chocolate pudding. While I love both, the banana version doesn’t lend a creamy “dairy” feel, and the avocado version doesn’t hold it’s structure well enough to make a popsicle- which is where I found this middle ground. The avocado provides a creamy taste good enough to feed to your non-vegan friends, and the banana offers strength and structure in freezing- plus, it cuts down on the fat! This mixture creates a wonderful pudding which can be used in many different applications including just eating it from a bowl, using it in place of sour cream in a chocolate cake batter, you can add it to brownies, you can make ice cream, or you can make pudding popsicles!

The goods:

  • 1 small-medium ripe hass avocado, diced
  • 1 small ripe banana, sliced
  • 2 tbsp raw cane sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter/manna
  • 1/3 cup of water

Get your blenders and popsicle molds ready! Just put all ingredients except for your water into a blender and blend until smooth. If your blender isn’t strong enough or your mix seems a little too chunky, add water a tablespoon at a time until it become a pudding consistency. If you coconut butter is too hard to blend smoothly, pop the jar in a hot water bath until it’s spreadable. Once you have your pudding, you can chill it then eat it as is, bake with it, or put it in popsicle molds.

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Jalapeno Rosemary Cornbread

Cornbread always offers a warm familiarity. Sweet, grainy, and crispy around the edges. Sturdy enough to hold it’s own against a big bowl of chili, and stable enough to be a breakfast in and of itself. For vegans, it’s usually something that is missed- who makes cornbread without bacon grease? I know, I know, it’s almost blasphemy to do this- but I did. And I don’t regret it. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even use a cast iron skillet (because I don’t have one.) I adapted my recipe from Closet Kitchen’s Jalapeno Cornbread by switching out the buttermilk for full-fat coconut milk and the grease for some extra virgin olive oil. In vegan baking, I like to use coarse sea salt. When combined with coconut milk, it offers a buttery richness in vegan baking- a factor that is usually lacking. My goal in vegan culinary adventures is to make things taste as not vegan as possible, because as someone once put so eloquently- vegan food is gross.

One of the biggest questions I’m asked about vegan baking is how is it done without eggs? There’s tons of options, and eggs aren’t the key ingredient in non-veggie baked goodies for the finished product to rise- they’re simply there for binding. One of my favorite egg replacements in savory baked goods is the flax egg. Flax eggs provide a good dose of omega-3’s and they provide a nutty, almost almond-y taste to whatever you’re making- and they’re so easy to make! I’ll provide directions on the flax egg with the recipe below.

cornbread

So, what inspired jalapenos to go with rosemary? I suppose in my case, creativity comes when you’re running out of options. You never try anything interesting right after you go grocery shopping. The clever ideas start flowing when you’re running out of food and you have to use whatever you have left. This afternoon, I had a few sprigs of fresh rosemary I wanted to use before they dried up, and I have several jalapenos leftover from the falafel I made on Saturday. Combine those with the bulk amount of organic corn meal I have lying around, and the only viable option is to make cornbread! On to the recipe:

What you’ll need:
For the corn bread:

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c corn meal
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 flax eggs
  • 2 medium jalapenos, diced
  • about 3 tbsp of fresh rosemary. If you’re using dried, reduce to a teaspoon or two.
  • 1/2 tsp or 1 clove minced garlic

To make flax eggs:

Avoid buying flax meal- it never keeps as long. Once the oils from flax seeds is let out, it can go rancid very quickly. Instead, buy your seeds whole and store them in the freezer or refrigerator and use as needed.

To make ONE flax egg, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp whole flax seeds (whatever color you have on hand will be just fine)
  • 3 tbsp warm water

Put the flax seeds in a magic bullet, blender, coffee grinder, mortar and pestle- whatever is available to you- and grind the flax seeds into a fine powder. Add the warm water and use a fork to whisk the flax powder and water together and then put it in the refrigerator for no less than 15 minutes to allow it to set. It will become a gel consistency. For this cornbread recipe, double the flax recipe as you’ll need two eggs.

To make the corn bread:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. If you have a cast iron skillet, I recommend using it (a 10 inch pan would be best). To make cornbread with it, put a little olive oil in the pan and heat it up on the stove top while you get everything ready. If you’re not using a cast iron skillet, get your 9×5 bread pan or 8×8 pan, or 8 in. cake pan oiled up and set it aside. Whisk together in a large bowl your flax eggs, coconut milk, garlic, jalapenos, rosemary, and olive oil. In another bowl, combine your corn meal, flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, and combine until everything is wet. Skillet users- now is the time to turn the burner off, if you haven’t already. Regardless of what your choice of pans is- pour the batter into the pan and spread it evenly, then pop it in the oven for about 35 minutes or until when poked in the center with a knife, it comes out clean.

*Note: If you’re using a very coarse grind corn meal I recommend adding about two more tablespoons of coconut milk and adding 5 minutes to the bake time to help soften those little grains up a little better.

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Filed under Baked Noms, Baking, Vegan Baking