Posts Tagged ‘vegan

06
Nov
11

On Board the Crazy Train of Inspiration

Inspiration. I love that word. I love the idea of inspired thoughts and action. As human beings we are inspired by our world around us, every day, every moment. We just have to be aware of it.

For example, a few weeks ago as I was quickly breezing through the produce department on my way to the time clock, I overheard a snatch of a conversation between two co-workers. They were talking about Ozzy Osbourne. Bam! It hit me. I knew what I was going to be for Halloween this year. It was that simple and inspired.

Vampire Gran as Ozzy

Ozzy as Ozzy

A little scary

I’m not the only one lookin’ a little old

This was everyone’s favorite shot

Looking at some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl this morning, I knew some baking had to occur today. Would it be muffins or waffles? I’ve fallen in love with two recipes lately and have been making them weekly. The muffins won the mental coin toss, so I commenced to prepare the pan, mash bananas, and gather my ingredients. The last time I made these muffins I added some sweetened flaked coconut. Everyone raved. I always put chopped nuts in the muffins, usually walnuts or pecans. Inspiration reared up and the bright light came streaming in. I heard the faint angelic voices in my head sing out in unearthly splendor. What if I add cocoa powder today? Chocolate, coconut and pecans = German chocolate goodness. German Chocolate Banana Muffins!

 

Holy breakfast break though, Batman! These are some fantastic treats. But are they really muffins? Or are they naked cupcakes? Cuppins? Muffcakes? (oh, that sounds kinda naughty). Breakfast cupcakes? Whatever we call them, they are inspired goodness. You be the judge.

German Chocolate Banana Muffins

1 ¾ cups spelt flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt (Kosher or sea salt)

¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted

1 ½ cups ripe mashed bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)

2/3 cups pure maple syrup

1/3 cup canola, sunflower or extra virgin coconut oil, melted

½ cup chocolate chips (use dairy free if making vegan muffins)

½ cup chopped pecans

1 cup flaked coconut

Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375° Prepare 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or light coating of oil

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cocoa powder in large mixing bowl.

In a smaller bowl mash bananas, oil, and maple syrup together.

Stir wet into dry ingredients until just mixed. Add chocolate chips, pecans and coconut.

Divide evenly into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Store in airtight container for up to 3 days. These freeze beautifully. Double wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in a freezer Zip Lock baggie.

Crazy full of chocolaty coco nutty Germany goodness

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14
Aug
11

Where’s the Beak?

The Artful Dodger hipping Oliver to street lingo

“You do know what a beak is, don’t cha?” “It’s a birds mouth, isn’t it?” “For your information, a beak’s a magistrate.” That line from “Oliver”never made sense to me. Where is the connection? Anyone?

The Spanish word for beak is pico. I had a friend in Mexico nick named Pico because he was blessed with a hooter resembling that of Ringo Starr.

Pico de gallo is a popular salsa we like to pour over our tacos and enchiladas. But why is it called “rooster’s beak?” Again, where is the connection?

I consulted the “Food Lover’s Companion”, my first go-to book when I have a culinary connected conundrum. According to that source, “Pico de gallo [PEE-koh day GI-yoh] ….is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients like jicama, oranges, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and cucumbers along with various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak.” Ok, I guess that makes some sense.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo inSpanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho“) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.

However, neither theory can be considered definite, as they assume the use of hot chilis. In many regions of Mexico the term “pico de gallo” refers to any of a variety of salads, condiments or fillings made with sweet fruitstomatoestomatillosavocado or mild chilis — not necessarily with hot chilis, or any chilis at all. Thus, the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce.[2]

The pico de gallo I am used to seeing and eating in California and the Pacific Northwest is more of a salsa or salsa fresca. Tomatoes, onion and garlic are the staple. And it’s chunky yet a bit on the soupy side, so I can’t imagine trying to peck that up with your dedos (that’s Spanish for fingers).

My simple, spicy version of Pico de Gallo

Enough scratching and pecking for the significance of the name of this spicy concoction. Here is my simple version of Pico de Gallo:

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 large jalapeño, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro (optional)

Rough to finely chop the ripe tomatoes

These summer beauties were the perfect ripeness!

chop the onions

make sure they are pretty fine

ditto the jalapenos - keep the seeds if you want the heat or remove for a less heated condiment

Remove the skins from the garlic cloves

The easiest way to remove the skins from garlic is to chop off the hard, woody end and using the flat of your chefs knife, give it a good firm bash with your fist.  Did that make sense?  Place the knife on it’s side over the garlic clove.  Make a fist like you are playing one-potato-two-potato and smash it down on the knife.  One smash is all you need do.

Finely chop all of that beautiful garlic

Place it all in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste,  You can also add chopped cilantro if you like.  I didn’t have any on hand the day I made this, otherwise it would have made it in there too.

Spoon over your favorite Mexican dishes or anything that you like. It's great on it's own with some tortilla chips.

Whether you call it pico de gallo, salsa fresca, tomato relish or Mexican ketchup, it doesn’t get any easier to make.  Team it up with some guacamole and get the party started.  Hmmm….where’s that avocado?

28
Jul
11

Buckwheat is O-Tay!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “buckwheat”? Kid with a funny name on the Little Rascals? Pancakes? Something that pillow you heat in the microwave is stuffed with, perhaps? If you are in the know, maybe soba noodles? I just found out that soba noodles were made from buckwheat. I did preface that sentence with “if you are in the know”, which, obviously I am not. I’d be willing to bet that blueberry muffins and granola might not make it into the top answers on “Family Feud” when they surveyed 100 people about buckwheat usage.

Be that as it may, I’m here to tell you that buckwheat makes both great granola and muffins! And that both are vegan AND gluten free. And they taste great. Who knew? Another tid bit of information that I’d like to pass along is that buckwheat is another one of those power foods that helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fact that buckwheat is so good for us is reason alone for adding it to our diet, and the fact that it makes killer treats is a plus.

Moist, buckwheaty blueberry muffins


Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins

adapted from “Get it Ripe” by Jae Steele

1 3/4 cups whole buckwheat groats (raw, not toasted)

2 cups filtered water (room temp or just-boiled)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 organic non-dairy milk

1/3 cup flax seeds (golden preferred) I used ground flax seeds and they worked great!

1/4 cup softened non-hydrogenated coconut oil or sunflower oil (plus extra for coating the pan)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 organic lemon (if unavailable, skip it)

1 tsp anise seeds, ground (optional) I used cinnamon instead because a: I didn’t have any anise and b: I don’t really care for the flavor of anise

1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Rinse the buckwheat, then combine it in a bowl with the room temperature water and soak overnight (or combine with the just-boiled water and soak for an hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degfrees F.

Prepare muffin pan with paper liners or a light coating of oil (you’ll need tp prepare 16 cups instead of the standard 12)

Poar the soaked buckwheat (along with any unabsorbed water) into the bowl of a food processer or blender; add syrup, milk, flax seeds, oil, lemon juice, zest, anise (or cinnamon)

and salt, and give it a whirl for about a minute, until the buckwheat kernels are broken down. Add the baking powder and baking soda, and whirl again for another 10 seconds to combine. Srape with a silicone spatula and give it another pulse or two.

Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl and, using a silicone spatula, fold in the blueberries.

Portion batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top (I like to sprinkle the muffin tops with turbinado sugar to give them a sweet, crunchy crust) and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan while still a bit warm.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

ready for it's close up

and here's a peek inside

These muffins are seriously good.  I shared one with my friend, Emily, and she made them for breakfast the very next day!

buckwheat groats

Buckwheat groats are hulled, crushed grain.  Some of you may know them by a different name, kasha.  What ever you call them, they are super easy to work with.  You can roast them or cook them like rice.

Here is another easy recipe that makes a low fat granola everyone loves.  Seriously, everyone who has tried this stuff at our house has asked for the recipe. And here it is:

BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA

3 cups raw buckwheat groats

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or other dry sugar)

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

a dash or two of ground nutmeg or a few grates of fresh nutmeg – even better!

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)

3/4 – 1 cup dried fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Lightly oil or use silicone liner (my preferred method) on baking sheet

Place buckwheat in strainer and rinse throughly

Place buckwheat in large mixing bowl and add sugar, spices and nuts.

all that goodness in a bowl (the buckwheat groats are underneath)

Spread evenly on baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Bake an additional 20 minutes, or until lightly brown

'till it looks like this

After removing from oven, pour the contents of the baking sheet back into the bowl and add nut butter and mix thoroughly while still hot.

stirring in the peanut butter

Add dried fruit and let cool in bowl to crisp up.

I added dried apricots and dates to this batch

all mixed in

Store in air tight container.

looks good enough to eat

This granola is great as a snack, as a topping on ice cream or mixed into yogurt.  I hope you try these recipes, especially if you have someone in your life who is gluten intolerant.  They will love you for it.

11
Jan
11

The world needs another Kale Salad recipe

The top selling salad at work is the Kale Carrot.  I made a batch of it yesterday.  It will all be sold out by the end of today.  How much kale is in a batch at a busy deli?  20 large bunches.  8 cups of toasted sunflower seeds and about 25 carrots. 

A few posts back I gave you the recipe for the kale salad we sell at work.  Kale is our new green at home.  I used to make dinner salad with romaine, but it has been replaced with kale.  I love it!  Plus, it has to be better for us than romaine or leafy green lettuce, right?

Lots of good nutrition in that bowl

According to Food Lover’s Companion, kale is a member of the cabbage family.  It is a cruciferous plant (having four-petaled flowers, suggestive of a cross) that provides ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.  I knew it was better for us than romaine!

So, last night our salad consisted of kale, shredded carrot, red onion, thinly sliced, a handful of chopped walnuts and satsuma wedges.  The satsumas are in season now and are oh, so sweet and juicy.  Be sure to remove the stems from the kale and wash the leaves.  Slice the leaves into thin strips.

Pretty little citrusy dressing

The dressing is what really made this salad outstanding.   Here goes:

1 large spoonful (2 tablespoons) of vegenaise

1 heaping tablespoon of frozen orange juice conentrate

1 tablespoon of orange muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

zest of one orange

Whisk it all together in a small bowl and dress salad.  Salad is best if the dressing has a chance to soak into the kale for about 30 minutes or more before serving.  I usually make the salad first and then prepare the rest of our meal.

A microplane is a great tool for zesting

If you don’t have a microplane, you can use a cheese grater.  A microplane is just so much easier to use and you get a finer zest.

A lovely salad for any time of the year

I hope you give this one a try.  We really liked it.  What did I serve this with?  Butternut Squash Ravioli in a garlic veloute sauce topped with Parmesan cheese and sweet and spicy roasted Brussel sprouts.  But it would be good just on it’s own with perhaps a hunk of garlic bread.

04
Sep
10

Girls just wanna see 80’s icons

  

Yeah, that’s Cyndi Lauper.  Yeah, we got to see her on September 1, 2010.  And, yeah, she can still rock the house.  Well, in this case, she rocked the Oregon Zoo here in Portland.  My only regret is that I never saw her perform live during the 80’s.  But I’m really glad I got to see her this week.  The fact that she is 7 months older than me and bouncing around like a little kid up on that stage was totally inspiring.  Her most recent song styling is the blues, and baby, she can sing the blues.  I believe she can sing anything.  Her range is phenomenal.  A couple times she apologised to the elephants (the open lawn amphitheater was near the elephant habitat) because she would hit these amazing notes and hold ’em for a crazy long time.  

She still uses some of her old moves from the 80's

We were camped a bit far from the stage, but thanks to Katie and her trusty Nikon D70s and a fancy pants zoom lens, she was able to capture some pretty good shots of the diva.  Actually, it was probably a blessing that we were a bit farther away with our camera.  There was one woman who actually caught the rath of Ms. Cyndi Lauper.  Apparently the woman was videoing the show instead of appreciating the fact that she had a perfect spot to watch all of the action live, up close and personal.  Cyndi wasn’t havin’ it.  She told the woman to get the camera out of her face.  She told her that she was up there singing for her and that she should have the courtesy to watch and enjoy the show, because she was there now.   Later, I guess the woman continued to tape, because Cyndi looked at her in disgust again and said “You’re really pissing me off, girly!”  Tell her how you really feel, Cyndi.  

As I mentioned, the venue was an amphitheater lawn affair.  That means people drag blankets, lawn chairs and food to these concerts.  Thankfully the zoo allows outside food.  The only thing you are forced to purchase (besides the tickets to the show) are beverages.  I saw A LOT of wine bottles being purchased.  And, the sight of A LOT of staggering zombies at the end of the night tells us that the zoo made A LOT of money off the sale of booze and semi expensive concert tickets.  

Of course, Vampire Gran dragged a blanket, lawn chairs and food for the evening.  Our picnic consisted of Spicy Veggie “Chicken” Wraps, watermelon cubes, grapes, bagel chips, hummus and Molasses Ginger cookies.  I had left over ingredients so I made the wraps again for dinner last night.  Here’s how I made ’em: 

First I make a sauce using equal portions of frozen orange juice concentrate and Veganaise.  Then add habenero powder to your desired heat preference. 

three ingredients, could not be easier

 

mix it up, there's your sauce

I sauteed Trader Joe’s chickenless strips with garlic and onion powder, dried oregano, kosher salt and cracked pepper. 

tastes just like.........

Then I mixed it with the sauce to keep it moist. 

The strips soak up more flavor and keeps it from drying out

While the strips are soaking, I thinly sliced some green cabbage, julianned red and yellow bells pepper, small diced some red onion and rough chopped cilantro.  Mix it all together ala salad. 

Ooooo, purty!

Then, in individual shallow bowls, I prepared the innards for these spicy wraps.  I made two wraps hence I used two bowls. 

almost ready to toss

You could actually serve this as a salad at this point.  I tossed it, then added cubed avocado. 

this is making me hungry

Ok, now heat up a wrap on a griddle or wide saute pan.  I used Trader Joe’s 100% whole wheat wraps – mighty good.  Heat until soft and pliable. 

Nice and pliable? Lets get ready to wrap it up!

Now we're cookin'

Mound the filling in the center of the wrap…… 

Step 2....

Fold the bottom up and away from you, sorta burrito style, but only the bottom gets folded. 

Almost done

Fold one side over and then tightly roll until the whole shebang is encased with the top open, showing off the delicious, mouth-watering contents.  This may take some practice, but if you are familiar with making burritos, you will have no problem. 

Mmmmmm.......wanna bite?

Nice!

Oh, brain fart!  I forgot one very important SPICY ingredient.  Jalapenos.  You can use fresh or jarred.  I opted for the jarred in this case.  We do like our food spicy and hot, so I get a little heavy handed sometimes. 

Now we're talkin' spicy

Right, now wrap that all up again.  These wraps make great road food.  Since we didn’t want to haul an ice chest to the zoo, I just wrapped them in plastic wrap and popped ’em into my backpack along with all the other food.  If you’re not going to devour them within, say an hour and a half, I would keep ’em cool in the refrigerator or an ice chest. 

I mentioned Molasses Ginger cookies up there, didn’t I?  These are, hands down, my favorite cookie.  But, guess what?  I’m gonna leave you hanging like a season finale.  And I, like Cyndi Lauper and her band here, am going to take a bow and hopefully leave you wanting more.  Good Night!!!!!! 

 

 

THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT!!!!!!

20
Jun
10

Deli? We don’t need no stinkin’ deli!

And neither do you.  Here is an easy, quick deli style salad that you can whip up in the privacy of your own kitchen.  It features quinoa, one of my personal favorite grains.  If you are not yet familiar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) I strongly suggest that you two should get acquainted.  It cooks up like rice, is packed with protein and it looks pretty cute!

Colorful, tasty Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (I prefer to use the whole pepper including the membrane and seeds, but if you are a light weight, you can ditch them)

2 tablespoons rough chopped cilantro

Bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir and lower heat to simmer.  Place lid on pot and simmer for 19 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir to fluff.  Spread cooked quinoa on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

Once quinoa has cooled, place in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.  Make dressing:

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, if you want more kick to it

Whisk all together in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ready for it's close up, just to make you hungry

I think this is best after the ingredients have had a chance to mingle and marry.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  This will last for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it never lasts that long at our house!

24
May
10

The healthy eating will continue

It happens everyday

I can’t believe it’s May.  It’s difficult to believe that May is almost over.  Portland weather is always entertaining.  One minute the sun is shining, then it turns dark as dusk and the sky opens up and torrential rain is upon us.  Then it turns to icy hail. All at once, it comes to a screeching halt and there is that ol’ sun again.  I love Portland. 

Our garden continues to thrive because of, and in spite of, this weather pattern.  And it saves us an awful lot on our water bill.  I have high hopes that our garden will not only save us money by growing in our yard and not having to make constant trips to the market, but will keep us eating happy and healthy meals. 

We’ve been going strong on this healthy eating path.  We started making healthier choices in December, while Katie was recovering from a surgery.  She threatened to start making her own meals because she needed vegetables.  Well, any of you that read this and know me, know that I wasn’t havin’ any of it.  The kitchen is “ours” but I’m pretty territorial when it comes to food and the production of it.  Plus, I couldn’t have her getting slim and healthy and leaving me struggling along, huffing and puffing and being chubby in her skinny shadow.  No effin’ way! 

So I jumped right on that healthy merry-go-round and I have no intention of falling off.  We are slimming down naturally, without effort, and it feels and tastes so delicious.  I’ve lost 8 pounds since January!  No Weight Watchers, no meetings, no starving.  Common sense and a culinary knack are what I have going for me.  And it’s working. 

So, enough of my rambling.  I want to show you something easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s healthy, too.  Here’s a picture of a typical dinner at Chez Tolbert: 

It may look like a lot of food, but it is so low in fat and calories

Green salad (lettuce from our garden), wheat berries with cannellini beans and Field Roast Smoked Applewood Veggie Sausage, and Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” topped with Savory Mushroom Sauce.  Yum. 

I always dug in my heels when it came to eating zucchini.  I never liked it.  At least rarely did I like it.  It’s a texture thing.  People always  over cook it, in my humble opinion.  I discovered it’s not bad when you use thin strips of it as a pasta alternative. 

so simple, so quick

The first time I tried this method, I used my electric slicer.  It’s like the ones the deli’s use, only a lot smaller.  But for the sake of the blog, I decided to use a vegetable peeler this time.  It worked great!  I figured not everyone has a home slicer, but a vegetable peeler, even non cooks have those. 

Really, anyone can make this

See how simple that is? 

Looks kinda like pappardelle, yeah?

I used 2 zucchini for this meal.  Rule of thumb: use 1 zucchini per person. 

So, that’s it.  No cooking.  Set the zucchini ribbons aside and make the sauce. 

Let the sauce making begin!

Thinly slice 1 leek, mince 1 shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot  pan and gently saute until softened. 

Mmmm...smells so good

Next, add some sliced mushrooms.  I used creminis, because we like ’em. 

Looking good

You can use whatever mushrooms you prefer.  A combination is always good. 

Once again, I wish computer screens had scratch and sniff!

Continue sauteing until the mushrooms soften.  Add seasonings to taste:  salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. 

Oh, mamma, these are smelling so good right now

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned a bit, move everything to the sides of the pan, making a circular opening in the center of the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon and then sprinkle in some flour, a couple of tablespoons. 

Does anyone else see a cartoon bear face in there?

Cook the flour for a minute or two, till it starts to brown slightly. 

Stir and brown flour

  I like to add some hot sauce at this point.  It’s optional. 

Squirt in some hot sauce of choice - this is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Now I add some vegetable stock.  You can use home-made or store-bought stock.  I make it every week, so I always have it on hand. 

Add some stock and you have sauce

Add stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  I like to use a ladle for this step. Just add and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This looks, smells and tastes just right

Place zucchini ribbons in a large serving bowl or platter.  Top with hot sauce.  Finely chop some fresh Italian Parsley and sprinkle on top, for a pretty presentation. 

Dinner is served

Then toss gently to combine.  The heat of the sauce with cause the “noodles” to soften, but not get mushy.  It’s fast and easy and best of all, tastes great. 

Damn, that's a healthy looking dinner!




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