Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not Your Traditional Ciabatta Bread

Tonight for dinner we are having BBQ Seitan and Coleslaw Sandwiches. You really shouldn't use regular ol hamburger buns for this sandwich...but I was not feeling up to searching in the local markets for the "right" bread. So I thought, "I can do this myself." I used my pizza dough recipe and inadvertently omitted the oil, without consequence!

I think these will be perfect with tonight's dinner.

5 cups whole wheat flour

2 packs active dry yeast (or 4.5 tsp from the jar)
1 tsp salt
2 cups warm water

Mix 2 1/2 cups of flour and other dry ingredients until combined. Add warm water. mix with mixer on high for 3 min. making sure it is mixing well.

Slowly add more flour and mix with a spoon. Then turn out on counter and knead while mixing in as much of the remaining flour as you can until dough is stiff and smooth.

Divide dough and cover with towel. Let rest ten minutes. Roll dough out in a rectangle shape. Not to thin. You want it to be thicker that pan pizza dough.

Spray two cookie sheets and transfer dough. Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 and bake for 20 minutes. Cut into desired sizes. Mine are generous. Slice like you would a bun.

Made 8 generous rolls.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Double Chocolate Vegan Cake

Birthdays can be a little more challenging when you can't fall back on your tried and true cake recipes. It's all new this year, as I seek vegan recipes that are special enough for that special day. This cake definitely fits in this category. Its got a great depth of flavor which makes standard cakes taste like sponges in comparison.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup raw sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup water
1 cup Veganaise (vegan Mayonnaise)
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350F.
First mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and cocoa in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, Veganaise, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Once the wet ingredients are mixed together, add them to the dry ingredients and blend with a mixer for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides as you go.
Once the dry and wet ingredients have been well mixed, pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When a toothpick poked in the center of the cake comes out dry, it’s done. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before frosting.


3/4 cup raw sugar
6 tbsp Soy milk
6 tbsp Earth Balance® Natural Buttery Spread
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)

Melt together the sugar, soy milk, and buttery spread in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute and take off the stove. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Stir in until the chips are completely melted. If your frosting is too runny, let it sit on your counter for about 20 minutes or refrigerate for 5-7 minutes until it's reached a good spreading consistency.

This cake is very rich, moist and full of depth. In the past (pre-vegan), I would usually have to throw out extra birthday cake. This cake was almost gone the night of the birthday. The next day it was polished off!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Some Success, Some Failures, Some Leftovers!

Thanksgiving this year was anything but traditional, and that's ok! We declined a couple of invites and decided on a low key day at home...well, low key for everyone except the person in the kitchen! It was a pretty busy day!
When we decided to have our Very Vegan Thanksgiving, I got busy on making the Thanksgiving dinner menu. I pulled recipes from Isa Chandra's Veganomicon Cookbook, Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore Cookbook and other blogs and Internet websites. I will directly link all the recipes that I can and site the cookbook where I can't.

These pull apart rolls where good. I splurged and made them with all-purpose flour. They were almost too moist. These would actually be good to make the day before and then give them a 10 minute reheat at about 300 degrees. I also had to add much more flour to get the desired consistency.
I definitely think these are worth making again. Next time I will use whole wheat flour. You can find the recipe here.

This recipe was from The Happy Herbivore. It's called Pot Roast Seitan. If I ever were to make this again it would be for roasting...in the fire pit!
Unfortunately, this was the first time my family had ever tried seitan (wheat meat). BIG flop (*note to self...never try to substitute the main dish with something the family has never tried on a day when their thinking of turkey...or ham...or steak..or...).
This was very rubbery. Elijah dropped a piece and it bounced 6 ft...no, I'm just kidding! It was rubbery though! I can't imagine that anyone could like this wheat meat! But I do believe in trying something at least twice (it's two strikes and your out, with food) and I am glad I did!
We went to The People's Market today. They have an upstairs vegan deli. And of course I got my second opportunity to try seitan. OH MY GOSH! The bomb!! It was a wonderful spicy dish that reminded me of  Kung Pao Chicken. I'm in love! I need to get my hand's on that recipe!

This was a tradition dish with a twist! No mushroom soup, but all the flavor you savor. I stuck to the recipe except I used fresh green beans and precooked them before adding to the casserole. I will be making this again! This recipe is here.

 The only thing missing at this table IS the turkey. And yes, it was missed!

 I have decided that parchment paper is NOT my friend! It has messed up too many of my cooking projects. From now on it's me and the foil!
These were supposed to be chocolate coconut macaroons. But the parchment paper wouldn't let THAT happen! It was still yummy. I will make them again..with foil and cooking spray! You can find this Almond Joy treat here.

Thanksgiving plate complete with mashed sweet potatoes, stuffing, baked macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes.

 And of course, the pumpkin pie! This pie was simple to whip up, it's made with fresh pumpkin and tofu. It was a little too sweet for me, although everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

This was an easy whipped cream made from coconut milk. I liked it and thought it was a great compliment to the pie. But not everyone liked it. It definitely has a more distinct flavor than dairy whipped cream. I liked that this kept well in the fridge. It didn't get flat or runny. Great alternative, in my opinion!

I can't wait to give this another try. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream! I say another try because I had an ice cream malfunction. Some of my electrical outlets had blown fuses (from when the oven man was trying to fix the oven on Tuesday), but I didn't know it. So I poured my mixture into my ice cream maker (before I turned it on). When I turned it on...NO POWER! By the time I had figured it out and adapted, the blades froze to the side of maker. I had to essentially start over. Unfortunately, the maker (which started frozen out of the freezer) was defrosting. So my finished product was more icy than creamy. Even though, it is yummy and the kids are enjoying it.

So there is the honest, not always pretty, truth to our Thanksgiving this year. I'm taking votes on how the turkey should be cooked next year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

I am excited about Thanksgiving this year. What better time for a vegan. Thanksgiving tables are full of an array of vegetable dishes and fruit. This year we will be enjoying some new dishes at our table as well as some old favorites.

Here's our dinner menu:

Herbed Scalloped Potatoes
Mashed Spiced sweet potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Pull Apart Rolls
Cranberry Sauce
Coconut Macaroons
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving is wonderful and a time to really realize all we have to be thankful for!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Then and Now

My hubby, Roque, really wants me to post some "Then and Now" photos. I wanted to wait until I have lost the last 13 pounds AND had some better photos. I guess I will post again when both those goals are reached.
When I look back at these photos, part of me wants to burn them. But the other part of me is glad that I have them. A picture really tells the truth. And this is a truth I want to remember. As I get older this weight was getting harder to carry around. I had allergies (probably due to the unhealthy food I was eating). My body had aches and pains. I was going down the road to diabetes and who knows what other diseases of obesity. I need these photos to remind me: Never turn back!
I also learned that not only can food can damage our bodies, but it can heal our bodies too! Learning to eat healthy whole foods and sticking to a plant based diet has changed my life and quite possibly saved my life as well.
Now I am hoping to take my knowledge and help other people on their own journey to health.

Then- Family Vacation 2009

Now- Making dinner for my family

Monday, November 14, 2011

Home Made Whole Wheat English Muffins

I usually buy whole wheat english muffins. We use them to make breakfast sandwiches. I doubt I will ever buy them again. This recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book, Vegan Brunch, is off the hook. Just perfect!
I only made a couple of changes to this recipe. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. and I used raw sugar instead of regular sugar.

1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

Mix these ingredients in small bowl and set aside for about five minutes.

2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine, room temperature (I use earth balance)

A few tablespoons of cornmeal
1 tbsp nonhydrogenated margarine

In mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and margarine. Mix until dough forms. Turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Return dough to bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel (I just use a hand towel). Set in a warm place and let rise for about an hour.
Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 350 degrees. Punch dough down and knead for a minute. Roll out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use a round 3inch cookie cutter (I used the mouth of a drinking glass). Pat both sides in the cornmeal. Preheat a large skillet (I used a cast iron skillet) and melt one tbsp of margarine in it. It shouldn't smoke. Medium heat worked well for me. Cook muffins on each side for one minute then put them in the oven on the cookie sheet for 6- 10 minutes. Do this in two batches. Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not Your Traditional Latke

I've always wanted to try a potato pancake. But I never have run into an opportunity. This traditional Jewish dish is something I have heard about since I was a child. I never understood what all the hype was about but was always curious.
That time of year is almost upon us again and once again my curiosity was peeked. Now that we are eating a plant based diet, potato pancakes don't seem like a stretch for a meal. I had to give it a whirl. I looked up a basic recipe at allrecipes.com and went from there.
This is certainly not a traditional recipe, but I'm not Jewish either. Not only was this recipe off the hook but it was great being able to introduce my kids to a tradition from a different culture.

Makes about 24 pancakes:

6 russet potatoes, peeled
1 yellow onion
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
3 tbsps water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 cup mixed frozen corn, carrots, and peas

In a small bowl mix flaxseed with water. Set aside.

Using food processor (or grate), pulse potatoes and onions. Drain as much liquid as you can.

Mix all ingredients into the potato/onion mixture, including flaxseed mixture. Heat a cast iron skillet (or other heavy frying pan) with a small amount of oil (I use safflower oil) on medium heat. If the oil starts to smoke, lower the heat. Shape pancakes (about 3 inch circles) and cook about 3 minutes each side, until browned.

I put brown paper bags on a plate and between layers of the pancakes to soak up as much oil as possible. It was also helpful to  keep the first 12 in the oven at 200 degrees. They stayed nice and hot while I made the second half.

Now I've heard that there are quite a few different toppings that people like with their Latkes. We tried applesauce, sour cream (vegan, of coarse), and Joseph's Sugar Free Maple Syrup. The applesauce did nothing to compliment the taste. Sour cream was better. But the maple syrup sealed the deal! I am a Latke fan for life! Would it be wrong to adopt this awesome Jewish tradition on my Christmas day?

Who's this skinny woman in my kitchen?

Well, Latkes rounded out an all star week!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I don't have a photo to share with this recipe. But this has become a weekend treat for Roque and I. At 130 calories per serving, who needs Starbucks? These are a great compliment to the Pumpkin Scones recipe posted last week.

Makes two lattes:

4 Tbsp of coffee grounds
1 Tbsp of pumpkin pie seasoning
2 1/2 cups water
4 Tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
2 Tbsp pureed pumpkin (optional)

Mix coffee grounds with pumpkin pie seasoning. Put in coffee maker and add 2 1/2 cups of water (according to your coffee makers user directions).
Meanwhile, heat almond milk in microwave. In two large coffee cups, add 2 tbsp maple syrup to each. One tbsp pumpkin puree to each. Stir well.
When coffee is done brewing, add 3/4 cup almond milk and 3/4 cup coffee to each cup. Stir well and enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Almost Guilt Free Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin is the flavor of the season and low fat scones seem so elusive...until now! I took a recipe and made some major adjustments. The biggest is substituting margarine for bananas. I have tried this before with just ok results. This time it worked. I believe the key is the banana. It needs to be mostly green. And it needs to be COLD. I actually used 1 and 1/3 banana. I peeled it and cut it much like you would cut cold butter into a recipe. Then I let it chill in the fridge. An hour should do. 

◦4 cups whole wheat flour
◦2 tablespoons cornstarch
◦6 tablespoons raw sugar
◦8 tablespoons brown sugar
◦2 tablespoon baking powder
◦1/2 teaspoon salt
◦2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
◦2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
◦1 teaspoon ground all-spice
◦1 teaspoon ground ginger
◦1 cup pumpkin
◦2/3 cup coconut milk
◦2 teaspoons vanilla
◦12 tablespoons cold pre ripe banana

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a food processor or a large bowl combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice and ginger. Sprinkle the banana slices over the top of the flour and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and there are no pieces bigger then the size of a pea or use a pastry cutter to cut the banana into the dry ingredients; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, coconut milk and vanilla. If using a food processor, dump the contents into a large bowl and fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient until just moistened. Form the dough into a rough ball, try not to overwork the dough, it will be slightly crumbly and very moist. Divide the dough in half. Pat out half the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Use a  knife to cut the dough into 8 wedges. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly brown on the bottom. Place on wire rack to cool.

◦1 cup powdered sugar
◦1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
◦1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
◦1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla to small bowl. Slowly add the non-dairy milk while mixing with a fork or whisk. Drizzle over scones with a spoon.

These where very yummy! The kids loved them as well. I am glad my freezer is well stocked with pumpkin. I will be making these all winter long!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Doing Better!

I shared with you how difficult it has been preparing meals since we have started a plant based diet. I no longer had my "go to" familiar meals. Everything is new and different. It's like expecting to visit the dessert and getting sent to the rain forest.
It used to take me 30 minutes to make a menu for a week. Pick a couple new dishes and throw in the tried and true. For the last several weeks, I would sit at the kitchen table to prepare the coming week's menu and still be sitting there 3 hours later. I am happy to say that this Sunday I had the menu written in 45 minutes!! That's progress!
We also have come up with a system to help me gauge what "works" and what doesn't. If the majority of us like the meal, it gets a star next to it on the menu. The first 2 weeks...no stars! Last week...5 stars! So that is five meals that can find their way inot the monthly rotation. We are making progress!
As a matter of fact, veggie burgers are on the menu for tonight. They are already premade, frozen and ready to grill! That means an easy night for me. Yah!
Are you curious which meals made the cut last week? Here they are:
Chickpea Cutlets
Veggie Burgers
Veggie Pizza w/soy sausage
Lentil Tacos
Tofu and veggies in ginger garlic sauce

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tofu Blueberry Bars

Tofu, Tofu, Tofu....it is finally coming together! I am starting to understand how to use it and how many different ways you can incorporate it into recipes. I have (successfully) used it to replace ricotta cheese. I have used it to create "eggs" for a breakfast sandwich. I made a crust less pumpkin pie with it. And today  I made these yummy, healthy blueberry bars.

10 ounces silken (soft) tofu
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan.
Blend applesauce, honey, tofu, water and vanilla until smooth (food processor or blender).
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
Pour wet ingredients into a mixing bowl Mix in dry ingredients and blend until mixed. Then fold in one cup blueberries.
Pour into 9x13 pan and bake for 25 minutes.
Cool and cut into squares.

Thick Butternut Squash Soup

Today was a beautiful day in San Diego. The air was cool and crisp. It was a wonderful fall day. We don't get very many of them here, so I have to enjoy them when they come.
Today I celebrated fall by making a thick butternut squash soup. If you prefer more of a soup-soup, leave out the couscous!

1 large or 2 small butternut squash, cooked and pureed.
4 celery stalks/sticks, sliced
5 carrots, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1  14 oz can coconut milk
1/2- 1 cup couscous (depending on desired thickness)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
pepper to taste

Saute onion in 1/4 cup of water
In  large pot combine broth, butternut squash and coconut milk. Add onions, celery, carrots and spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes. Add couscous and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes or until couscous is done. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our Journey Update!

Here's a little update!
I'll start with the good! Roque has lost 20 lbs. to date! Pretty awesome, huh!? He's doing really well and it is starting to show. It's always nice when you (the weight loser) can see the results of your hard work.
I, on the other hand, have only lost 2.5 pounds in the last 3 weeks! I knew the last 20 lbs. might be difficult but, geesh! To be honest (and without devulging TMI) it's been a rough few weeks. Let me just say "magnesium". LOL
There have been other challenges as well. I consider myself a pretty good cook. If you knew me 10 years ago, you may not believe this statement...but a lot has changed since then! All of a sudden cooking has become quite challenging. When you cook plant based meals, THE RULES CHANGE! All my prior knowledge is no longer useful. A whole new set of skills needs to come into play. I have been craving the simplicity of a meat based meal! I miss meat!!! There I said it! And eggs (I don't even like eggs. But they're soo simple!). But, this is a health journey that we are on and we will press on. I do feel like an epic fail in the kitchen. Well, until Thursday night. That was one good meal! And it was followed by another on Friday night! And THAT ended up being my own recipe. So I see improvement.
Tonight we went out to dinner. It's been a while. It was needed! We went to a vegan joint called Evolution. It was great! Roque and I both ordered a swiss mushroom burger with sweet potato fries. The kids had chick'n fingers with regular fries. Yum. Andan says he'd like to go there for his birthday. The kids ate all of theirs. Then I told them..."um, that wasn't real chicken". The look on Andan's face was shock, "Mom, can you do that at home." LOL Maybe I can Andan, Maybe I can.

Veggie Burger

I've been looking for a good veggie burger recipe for a few weeks now. I tried a black bean burger recipe. It was just ok. Nothing I would want to spend the effort on making again. Then I found a recipe that was vegetarian but not vegan. But I thought I could tweek it. Well, I had to tweek it a little more than I planned. And the results were great! So this is a Julie Camacho original! Next time I make these, I will be making ahead of time and doubling the batch. This is going to be a great 'go to' meal on busy nights!

    1 onion
    3 cloves of garlic
    1 zucchini
    2 carrots
    1 1/2 cups rolled oats
    2 1/2 tbsp of ground flax seed
    3 tbsp of water
    2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
    1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 vital wheat gluten

In food processor, pulse onion and garlic and then the carrots and zucchini. In a sauce pan saute the onion and garlic in 1/4 cup of water for about 3 minutes. Add Carrots and zucchini. Continue to saute 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl.

In a small bowl, mix ground flax seed with 3 tbsp of water. Add rolled oats, nutritional yeast and flax seed mix to vegetables. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Mix whole wheat flour and vital wheat gluten into the mix. Mix well.

Form mixture into about 3 inch patties. Place on wax paper and continue, making sure to have wax paper between patties. Put in freezer storage bags and freeze until ready to use.

Grill frozen. Makes 8-10 patties.

Comfort Food

Chickpea Cutlets, Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy
Finally! A meal worth writing home about! Thank you, Isa. This chickpea cutlet actually tastes like meat. The mashed potatoes just sealed the deal. This will definitely be a family favorite. Find Isa's recipe here, here and here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

Home baked bread is a real treat! I love the process of watching a ball of dough turn into something warm and aromatic and yummy. I also appreciate controlling what goes into my bread. Did you know that most breads have high fructose corn syrup? Well, now you do. Thankfully many top brands now make a loaf without it. But it is still nice to have your own home made bread from time to time.
I originally got this recipe from Allrecipes.com, but have made changes to it. Another tip for making bread is to spoon your flour into the measuring cup. Don't dip the cup into the flour. Usually too much flour will get into your recipe this way and make a dense bread. If you don't have the grains listed, substitute it for what you do have. I usually don't have sunflower seeds on hand. So I will add an extra tablespoon of quinoa.

 Doesn't this already look great?

 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F (43 degrees C))

 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
 2 teaspoons instant yeast
 6 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
 5 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
 1 tablespoon flax seeds
 1 tablespoon flax seed meal
 1 tablespoon rolled oats
 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
 1 tablespoon quinoa
 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
 1 teaspoon salt
 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1.Pour warm water and maple syrup into a small bowl, and stir to dissolve the maple syrup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the liquid, and let stand until the yeast bubbles and forms a creamy layer, about 10 minutes.

2.In a bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, gluten, flax seeds, flax meal, rolled oats, sesame seeds, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and salt until the seeds are dispersed evenly. Pour the liquid yeast mixture into the flour mixture, add the coconut oil, and mix everything together. Scoop the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead as much of the flour into the dough until smooth and springy, about 10 minutes. Allow dough to rest for 15 minutes, then knead for another 5 minutes.

3.Form the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, and turn the dough over several times to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.

4.Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans. Punch down the dough, and cut into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a loaf, place into the loaf pans, seam sides down, and cover the pans with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

5.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake the loaves in the preheated oven until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans about 3-5 minutes before turning out to finish cooling on racks.

 Doesn't this look yummy?

Bread crumbs. Another reason I make homemade
bread. Send the sliced bread through the  processors
until its crumbs. Season with garlic salt.
 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Spread the crumbs in a thin layer on a cookie sheet.
Cook until dry. Store in a airtight container. I use my
bread crumbs for baked onion rings!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Burritos

DON"T be thrown off by the photo! I know it looks like....something that belongs in the toilet, hhemmm! But if you don't give this recipe a try, you really will be missing out on a great blend of flavors and spices. This recipe makes a lot and freezes well! I never would have thought to blend black beans and sweet potatoes, but it works incredibly well!

6 cups cooked black beans (save some of the liquid)
4 cups cooked sweet potatoes
1/2- 1 cup of black bean liquid (or water if you used canned beans)
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper

Saute onions and garlic in 1/4 cup of water then set aside. In food processor blend black beans adding liquid a little at a time until refried bean like consistancy. Put processed beans in large bowl and repeat until all beans have been processed. Put sweet potatoes through processor until creamy, add to large bowl with beans. Add sauted onions, garlic, spices and soysauce to the bowl. Mix well.

I use whole wheat tortillas. I spread the desired amount on the tortilla and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I fold it up like a burrito and put it in a non-greased skillet to continue heating and creating a slightly crispy tortilla, 1-2 minutes. Super fast, super easy and SUPER YUMMY! Oh...and they're healthy too!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oatmeal Waffles

My friend, Tammy Harris, gave me this recipe just in time! Since we've changed our diet, I have not make our standard Krusteez waffles. Much to the dismay of my seven-year-old, Andan. He's been asking me (daily it seemed), and I just haven't been able to come up with anything. And then Tammy saves the day (or should I say morning :-0). All this recipe consists of is one part rolled oats to one part non-dairy milk (Tammy said Vanilla Soy). She suggests one cup per person. mix ingredients, cover and refriderate over night.
I added to the recipe a little. This is DEFINATELY kid approved! Elijah ate two! That's never happened.
What I love about this recipe is that there is no added sugar, it is super simple, super healthy and SUPER yummy!

4 cups rolled oats
4 cups almond milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp of vanilla

Mix ingredients, cover and refridgerate over night. When I opened it in the morning, I thought, "I can't put that in the waffle maker!" LOL So I sent the mixture through the food processor (blender would work too). Heat in your waffle maker until steaming has stopped. These freeze well and cook well in the toaster.

Non-fried Beans

Elijah, my three-year-old, loves Roserita Refried Beans. He's at that stage where the same thing for lunch
e v e r y d a y is just fine with him, and preferred. If you know what I mean. Sometimes, when something is working, you just don't want to mess with it. So I've been a little leery of trying to make a healthier version of these...afraid he would reject my beans and refuse any and all beans in the future. I actually did try with a TASTY black bean sweet potato mix (that's a recipe I WILL have to share soon!). It didn't fly! Now we classify beans, "Are those black or brown, Mom? I only want brown, ok?" So I got the message..don't mess with the "brown" beans!
BUT...I found this recipe on www.allrecipes.com called Non- refried beans. The reviews were excellent, so I decided to tempt fate. The results were great! AND....They passed the kid test!!!!!
This recipe is so yummy (and easy), I can't wait to make it for a family gathering...yes, it's that good!

3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
1 onion quartered
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
9 cups water

1 jalepeno, optional ( I didn't add this, but I will when making for someone other than my kids)

1.Place the onion, rinsed beans, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on low for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.

2.Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. I removed the onions as well. Using a food processor blend beans until smooth and creamy. You may need to add some of the liquid until it reaches the desired consistency.

This recipe made about 7 cups of non-fried beans. I cooked my beans overnight. I got up once to check the water level and ended up adding a cup of water

Chickpea Sandwich Spread

This chickpea (garbanzo beans) spread is so yummy and versatile. Chickpeas are a great source of protein as well. The first time I made this, I used cayenne pepper, salt, garlic powder and red onions. It was good and it had a kick to it. Perfect to top with lettuce and tomatoes. This morning I used red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onion, garlic powder and salt. SOOOO GOOOD!
You can used canned garbanzo beans. I like to buy them in bulk, soak them over night and then cook them for an hour. I keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest. Chickpeas are great for making hummus as well!

19 ounces chickpeas
1/4 red bell pepper
1/4 green bell pepper
1/3 of an onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
about 1/2 cup veganiase or non dairy sour cream

Pulse chickpeas in food processor until blended. Add veganaise, salt and garlic powder to food processor and pulse (add just enough for a creamy smooth texture). Put mixture into a bowl. Pulse onion and bell peppers in food processor until chopped. Mix into chickpeas.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vegan Cupcakes

My husband is doing an awesome job. He is losing weight daily. I am sure that some of you can relate, but he has to say no to a lot of temptations to stay on the right path. It seems that almost everytime he goes to work he steps into a junk food zone. Bagels, donuts, cookies and candy to name a few. Well tomorrow is ice cream sunday day. I really feel for him! I wish there were better policies concerning foods in the work force. It would be better for the people and better for corporate America. I'm sure mood and production would improve. But if I can help make it easier for my husband, then I'll try.

This is a great recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/. It is simple to make it your own. These cupcakes turned out very moist and have a nice light taste to them (not too sweet). The original recipe calls for all purpose flour and Coconut oil. I used whole wheat flour. Next time I will try replacing the oil with unsweetened applesauce.

    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
    1 1/2 cups almond milk (room temperature)
    2 cups flour
    1 cup raw sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquid
    1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 12 cup muffin pan or line with 12 paper baking cups.

2.Measure the apple cider vinegar into a 2 cup measuring cup. Fill with almond milk to make 1 1/2 cups. Let stand until curdled, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond milk mixture, coconut oil and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly. These don't rise much so fill about to the top.

3.Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with desired frosting.

I used powdered sugar and wax paper to create these little heart tops. Plus, I wanted to keep these light!

Hawaiian Chickpea Teriyaki

I love chickpeas. I made an awesome chickpea sandwich spread with a nice kick to it just the other day. I also love it as a humus. I don't think I love it as teriyaki. Next time I'm trying tofu! So if anyone has some recommendations for me, that would be great!
This recipe originated from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. Although I made many adaptions and will make more the next go round.

     4 cups of rinsed, drained chickpeas
     1 can chunk pineapple (in pineapple juice) drained
     1 onion cut in wedges
     1 green or red bell pepper chopped in large bits
     1 cup of Annie's Natural Teriyaki Sauce (no high fructose corn syrup!)

In skillet add teriyaki sauce with chickpeas. Allow to marinade for 5-10 minutes. Turn heat to high. Add onions and bell peppers. Continue to stir. Turn to medium-high heat when it starts to boil. Add pineapple during the last couple of minutes when sauce is almost all cooked in. Serve over rice.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegan Chili (Hold the Cheese!)

Chili is always a great dish to make. Usually I make this a little (too) spicy. But this time I didn't add the spice (Cayenne pepper and jalapeno) for the sake of the kids. The flavor was still great! This can be a super simple and fast dish to make (buy canned ingredients). Or you can use fresh ingredients with some pre food prep! When buying canned goods, read labels!! I almost bought diced tomatoes with added high fructose corn syrup! And did you know canned kidney beans can have added sugar??!! Geesh, no wonder we have such an unhealthy nation!

    1/2 cup TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
    1/2 cup of water
    2 tbsp vegetable powder (bullion)
    2 cups black beans
    2 cups kidney beans
    1 small onion chopped
    1 green bell pepper chopped
    4-5 cups diced (canned or blanched fresh) tomatoes
    3 Tbsp chili powder
    2 tbsp cumin

In small bowl mix half a cup of warm water with tvp and vegetable protein. Set aside. In medium sized pot, saute onion and bell pepper in 1/4 cup of water until onion is translucent. Add all of your other ingredients into the pot including the tvp. Bring to a boil and lower to medium heat. Continue to heat stirring often for about 10 minutes. Lower temperature and simmer for at least 20 minutes.

The tvp in this recipe, tastes like ground turkey! Yields 6-7 servings.

Chocolate Coconut Protein Bars

This is a Jamie Eason recipe that I found and adapted somewhat to fit what I had on hand. It's a great no-bake recipe that is packed with protein. It's also versatile to fit your taste, from chocolate to a less sweet dark chocolate.

     2 cups oatmeal

     4 scoops  protein powder
     4 TBSP coconut milk
     4 TBSP coconut oil
     1/2 cups carob chips or other vegan chocolate chip (ghiradeli is great)!
     2- 4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder (depending on how sweet or not you may want it.)
     1 cup unsweetened almond milk(or other non-dairy milk)

Line a 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper. In a small microwavable bowl combine coconut oil and chocolate chips. Heat in microwave until chocolate is melted (30-60 sec). In mixing bowl combine oatmeal, protein powder, and cocoa powder. Mix well. Add coconut chocolate mixture and coconut milk. Mix again. Add almond milk and mix well. with spatula, spread evenly into prepared dish. Put in freezer for about an hour. Lift out and cut into 9 squares. Wrap individually in parchment paper and store in fridge.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Family Update!

Well we have a lot of exciting things happening in our house, amidst the trials! Some can not be disclosed yet. We'll wait to see what the future holds!
The freezer is emptying out and we are two meals away from being meatless. Matter of fact, next weeks menu only has one meat dinner. You know what that means...lot's of new recipes to try! I am excited to be going meatless. We have also cut out eggs and milk. Next will be cheese. The kids are thinking, *oh no! We're going to starve!* I'll let you all know how it goes. As far as Roque and I are concerned, we've already seen that we don't miss it. I've noticed that the two little ones are trying (and eating) a wider variety of food then they had in the past.
Other great news is that I have lost a total of 57 lbs. to date! Just 23 more to go. I am still losing a steady amount each week (4.6 lbs. this week alone!). I am REALLY enjoying running. I look forward to my 5 evenings a week when I can hit the "track". Roque has gone with me a few times. I have really enjoyed that!
Roque is 3 weeks into his journey. He is starting how I did, with the Nutrilite Weight Management program. Between that and my good cooking (oh yea, and his exercise and determination :-P) he's lost 11 lbs!!

 Somebody's been paying attention! He's got his own routine
going. And NO, we don't exercise in our chonies. It's his
personal preference!

The other great news is that Roque"s blood sugar levels
keep dropping. Thanks to healthy eating, exercise and
these great all natural supplements from Nutrilite!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Bars

These oatmeal bars are a favorite in my house. I usually make one and a half batches and bake it in a 11x16 sided cookie pan. There is sugar in this recipe, but no oil or eggs. I usually keep my hands off and leave this snack to the kids.

This is the recipe for one batch...but you may want to make more!

    2 cups rolled oats
    3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup of wheat germ
    1 cup wheat flour
    3/4 cup raisins (or chocolate chips, or.....)
    3/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup light agave nectar
    1 cup of no sugar added applesauce
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking pan or use parchment paper.

In large mixing bowl  (or mixer) combine all dry ingredients (even the raisins). Add wet ingredients and continue mixing until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake 30-35 minutes until it begins to turn golden on the edges..don't over cook. Cool for five minutes then cut the squares while still warm. Store in an air tight container.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banana Black Bean Brownies

I got this recipe from Lindsay Nixon's, The Happy Herbivore. She calls them Black Bean Brownies. I really don't taste so much brownie as I do banana. They are super moist! But slightly too sweet. I will definitely be making this again, but will tweak the recipe a bit. Maybe omit the agave nectar or reduce the amount of banana. Even thought the main ingredient is black beans, you wouldn't guess it! while this didn't pass the kid test(looks like a brownie but doesn't taste like one), It did pass mine. I think there is potential with this easy recipe.
These are 112 calories each, 0.9 grams of fat and 3.5 grams of protein. Recipe yields 9 squares.

This recipe was so breezy to make in the food processor. I'm in love! I need one. I borrowed my mom's (dad's) while they are out of town ;-). This recipe can be made in a blender....but SOOOO easy in a processor.

    1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    2 spotted bananas
    1/3 cup agave nectar
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    1 tbsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 cup instant oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. grease standard 9 in square pan.
3. Combine all ingredients except oats in food processor and blend until smooth, stopping and scraping the sides as needed.
4. Stir in the oats and bake for about 30 minutes until toothpick inserted int he middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chocolate(er..vegan) Chip Cookies

I ordered a cookbook the other day and it came in the mail two days ago. It's called The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon. Happy indeed! These recipes are low or no fat, super easy and look super yummy! I had to try the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe today. I didn't have chocolate chips on hand, but I did have some carob chips. I also found out that Ghiradelli chocolate in naturally vegan. I will have to check that out! These cookies passed the kid test and we have to watch for one sneaky little 3 year-old cookie monster!

I did double this recipe. Doubled, it yields about 36 cookies.

    2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 cup light brown sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup non-dairy milk
    2 cups whole wheat flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tbsp cornstarch (I found some at Sprouts that is made from GMO FREE corn!)
    a few dashes of cinnamon
    1 cup of vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper
Combine wet ingredients in mixing bowl.
In small bowl whisk flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon.
Mix in dry ingredients with wet in three batches.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop spoonfuls ( I use a cookie scooper) on cookie sheet. Bake 7- 10 minutes

61 calories per cookie, 0.7 g of Fat, 6.2 g of sugar, 1 g of protein

Friday, September 23, 2011

You Can Have Your Baby and Pizza Too

When I was pregnant with Elijah, I remember the OB GYN nurse telling me that one food that I must absolutely not eat was pizza. I never understood why, but she was pretty adamant about it.
Pizza does not have to be an un-healthy forbidden endeavor. Actually it can be quite wholesome AND yummy.

 Start with a homemade whole wheat crust. This is the Betty Crocker
pizza dough recipe. I used all whole wheat flour and coconut oil instead of
olive oil. Sprinkle pizza dough with a little garlic salt  after it is rolled and on the pan.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Then add your ingredients.

Add your tomato paste/sauce to the pizza.
Add your favorite ingredients. Most vegetables should be pre-
sauteed in water (and garlic if you like) until they are tender crisp.
This is a vegetarian/vegan pizza. I knew my hubby wanted cheese.
I wanted to try it without and do without the added fat.
Bake for another 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. 
Well, I wanted to indulge in my vegan pizza without
worrying about all the carbs I was consuming. So I took my
Nutrilite Carb Blocker 2. This supplement uses fermented soy and
white kidney bean abstracts to block the absorption of both sugars
and starches without blocking vital minerals and nutrients. It will block
up to 500 carbohydrate calories! Click on the photo to learn more about
this all natural product. Item #100193

Making Your Own Tomato Sauce

Making your own tomato sauces can be relatively simple and usually cheaper. The other benefit is that you control what goes in your sauce. For me that means no sugars or milk products. If you've never done this before, here's a simple series of steps to follow.
    1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
    2. With a knife, cut a small x into the bottom of each tomato.
    3. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds.
    4. Remove from water (some then immediately put tomatoes in ice water, to stop the cooking process. I skip this step because I will be cooking the tomatoes anyway).
    5. From the x peel the tomatoes completely.
    6. Cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds and juice.
    7. Blend remaining tomato halves in blender until smooth liquid.
    8. Cook in large sauce pan adding your favorite ingredients. Boil covered for 5 minutes. Then lower 
        heat and simmer-boil for about 30 minutes.

 My sauce with lightly sauteed garlic, salt and Italian seasonings.

 Boil-simmering out some of the liquid

 Making a thicker paste is easy. Use a coffee filter and drain extra liquid.

This tomato paste will be perfect on tonight's pizza!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wholesome Pancakes

My kids eat a lot of pancakes. It's pretty much the "go to" breakfast in our house. I admit that before I started my journey to better health, my "go to" mix was Krusteez. Just add water and mix! But now that we are on a path to better health, I whip up a batch of these. Whatever doesn't get eaten goes into the freezer. Makes many easy mornings. Just reheat in the microwave.

    2 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 cup rolled oats
    6 Tbsp flax seed meal
    2 tsp cinnamon
    2 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 1/2 cups almond milk (or your milk choice)
    2 cups of water

Mix dry ingredients together and mix in wet ingredients. Cook like you would pancakes.