Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Tuna" Salad Sandwich

The other day, I found myself dearly wishing for something tuna-fishy.  Not actual tuna, no no, but just something similar, to soothe my cravings.  Enter blogger, Zucchini Breath, at "Big Raw Vegan Blog".  She is full of earthy, tasty, raw, compassionate goodness over there!   While roaming her web address, I found a wonderful adaptation on this old classic.  Sometimes I get scared off by recipes that appear difficult to put together, but her chickpeas formula looked simple enough, even for timid little me!  :)  And it was well worth the easy effort!  I didn't have any nori, nor dulse, available for my first batch, but still, it was tasty.  For my second trial, I made certain to include the seaweeds and also a dash of relish--it was even more delish than before!  Sandwich heaven!  I admit to using more Vegenaise than some people might like, and I did leave out the vinegar, but really, this recipe is ready to go, hardly an adjustment needed.  I hope you give this "tuna" salad a try-- it doesn't disappoint!  For the ultimate sandwich, pair it with a couple of whole-wheat toasts and some freshly cut, organic tomatoes and lettuce, even cucumber!  Or wrap it up in a leaf of collard greens along with some thinly-pared veggies and homegrown alfalfa sprouts!  Enjoy!  Makes two large servings.

"Tuna" Salad Sandwich

Organic Ingredients:
1 15oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 or 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup Vegenaise
1 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp sweet relish
2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 or 2 tbsp dill weed
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
pepper, to taste
2 tbsp ground nori (equivalent to half a sheet)
1 tbsp dulse, finely chopped

Open the can of chickpeas, drain off excess liquid, and pour into a large, wide bowl.  Use a fork or a potato masher to crush the beans.  Smash them to a consistency similar to tuna, or to your preference.  Set aside.  To finely chop the celery and onion, use a food processor.  If you don't have a fancy machine, no problem, just mince them down to size the old-fashioned way--with a knife!  Add these veggies to the chickpeas.  Now, measure in the Vegenaise, Bragg's, relish, lemon juice, dill, nutritional yeast, onion powder, and pepper.  Stir lightly; set aside.  Next, grab the nori and dulse.  Hopefully, you have these two seaweeds in a dry, flake form, already ground up, and easily measurable.  If not, here's what you do:  For the nori, take half a sheet, roll it up tightly, then gently cut away at the edges of the roll.  It will start to flake apart.  After a few minutes, you should have the approximate two tablespoons.  Add it to the bowl.  To prepare the dulse, pinch a tablespoon sized section from the dry, crinkled mass.  Rinse this small amount under gently running water, to wash away impurities.  Once wet, the dulse will start to break apart, even between your fingers.  Just chop it a little and manipulate it until it is mostly in fine pieces.  Or use your handy food processor.  Add it to the bowl.  Finally, give the mixture a thorough stirring.  Hooray, it's finished!  Ideally, cover and refrigerate for an hour or more before serving to let the nori hydrate and the flavors blend.  But if you can't wait that long to enjoy your "tuna" salad, I understand.  :D

Monday, February 22, 2010

Miso Happy Soup

My blogging friend, Michal, inspired this mild, tummy-warming broth.  She calls it "Miso Happy Soup"!  Cute and clever, huh?!  Me so happy I found Michal!  Me so happy Michal makes delicious soup!  And although I did not follow her list of ingredients or ratios to the letter, the heart of this recipe still belongs to her.  In honor of this, I will continue to call the meal by it's witty nickname!  Thank you for the inspiration, "Earth Muffin!"  Makes four full bowls.

Miso Happy Soup

Organic Ingredients:
4 cups distilled water
1/8 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 clove garlic or 1 tbsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup onion
2 carrots, sliced long and thin
1 russet potato, cubed
6 ounces firm tofu, cubed
1/2 cup peas
4 tbsp mellow white miso
1 tbsp parsley

Heat the water at low simmer.  Season with the Bragg's, garlic, and pepper.  Add the onions, carrots, and potatoes.  (If you're using a leftover baked potato, you can add it later with the tofu and peas, since it only needs to be warmed up, not cooked through.  Same if using leftover cooked carrots or onions.)  Simmer on medium-high heat for 15 minutes.  Now add tofu and peas.  Simmer 5 more minutes.  Add miso and parsley, and give the pot another minute to assimilate the miso.  Now it's done and ready to serve!  Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dr. Oz' Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Who doesn't love the good doctor, Mehmet Oz, M.D., and his self-titled television show?  Yes, I know that he spouts food industry mumbo-jumbo over the airwaves a lot.  But other times, he's right on the money.  And you can't deny it--he has great wit and charm!  I mean, have you seen the female guests on his set?  Why, they practically worship the man!  :)

Well, while I was cruising around the official web site, I happened upon this delightful recipe!  Is it a breakfast food?  Is it a dessert?  I don't know.  But I do know from personal experience that it certainly is a taste treat!  I altered it slightly, completely eliminating the eggs to make it vegan.  I swapped the oil ingredient for applesauce. I also added an extra fourth cup of sugar because I thought the muffins could stand to be a little sweeter, but you could cut it back if you like.  This recipe is moist, chocolaty goodness, wrapped in a pleated paper cup!  Makes 12 servings.

Dr. Oz' Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Organic Ingredients:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup plain soymilk
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 cup distilled water, boiling
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners.  Or you can do like me and use none; just be sure to apply a generous coat of cooking spray to the tin, and they'll come out beautifully!  In a large bowl, use a mixer machine or a hand whisk to combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.  In another bowl, combine soymilk, lemon juice, applesauce, and vanilla; mix well.  Pour wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.  Stir in the zucchini, followed by the boiling water.  The final mixture will be thin.  Fill each of the tin's cups 3/4 of the way up and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Bake uncovered for 13-17 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, and the tops spring back when lightly touched.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Vegan Valentine's Dinner!

It was a very enjoyable Valentine's Day!  Jordan and I didn't have the funds available to go out to a restaurant or fundraiser this year.  But we more than made up for any imagined loss. 

Before stuffing our bellies we went on a four mile walk together.  It was such a nice day; it seemed a pity to spend all of it being indoors!  And I must say, it was a good thing we did burn a few extra calories, because we ate far too much later on!  :)

It took us hours to get our holiday dinner on the table; we went all out, tonight!  But it finally came together beautifully... 

I prepared an organic tossed salad of red leaf, red kale, and baby spinach, and all the organic trimmings: tomatoes, avocados, red cabbage, cucumber, carrots.  Oh and I can't forget the dressing of equal parts organic flaxseed oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice, with a dash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos.  It was a dense salad, yet so sweet, flavorful, and refreshing! 

Days before, we concluded that a whole-wheat spaghetti dish would be dinner's main course.  But what kind of sauce would we choose? While cruising the blogosphere many weeks earlier, I chanced upon a tantalizing Alfredo recipe, courtesy of Matt at "My Veggie Kitchen".  And tonight seemed like the perfect setting for Pasta Alfredo!  The only problem was I'd never made this before!  We decided to give it a try anyway.  I quickly pulled up the recipe for easy reference.  It was then I belatedly realized that we didn't have half of the listed ingredients.  Oh well.  We forged ahead without them, forced to make some adjustments on the journey.  Matt's recipe called for cashews, but all we had was walnuts or hazelnuts.  We picked walnuts.  We didn't have shallots, but we an ordinary onion, which we utilized.  We didn't have unsweetened soymilk, but we did have the "original" variety, so we used that.  Lastly, we didn't have the wine.  We didn't sub anything for that.  After all our changes to the actual recipe, it's doubtful that our version tasted anything like Matt's!  But we still liked it!  We did note that it was missing something in it's flavor and texture.  But it WAS missing something--a lot of somethings!  :)  Yet it was warm, creamy, and fun to eat; a buttery, saucy dish, completely out of the ordinary for us! 

We hardly ever bake breadsticks.  But tonight was special so we did!  We followed my sister, Marcy's recipe.  It was fun!  We took turns kneading the dough, and stood at the counter together rolling it into traditional snakelike shapes.  But then I had a brilliant idea...  Bend the breadsticks into hearts!  I pinched them in just the right places and Voila! Breadstick Hearts!  They looked so cute!  Unfortunately, that's about as great as they got.  The recipe originally called for white flour and we used all whole-wheat.  And since we don't bake bread very often, we have little understanding of the repercussions of swapping one flour for another.  In hindsight, we probably should have added more liquid to the dough and slightly shortened the cooking time.  Maybe the yeast never activated.  Still, I'm still not sure that any of these ideas would have been the correct solutions.  Sadly, the end result turned out to be quite heavy instead of light and fluffy; they never really did rise properly.  And they were much drier than we'd have liked.  But we managed to enjoy them.  I remarked to Jordan that they would have made far better pretzels than breadsticks!  At least they looked appealing!  :)

We also added "Wagon Wheels" to the fare!  Jordan peeled and cut the carrots, and set them on the stove to cook.  They almost met a sorry demise, as we did not add adequate water to steam them for the allotted ten minutes; the "wheels" started scalding to the sides of the pan!  Luckily, Jordan smelled smoke and we managed to rescue them before the whole pot of carrots turned black!  Gratefully they still tasted yummy, even after that extra dash of drama! 

To top everything off, with no help from me, Jordan whipped up his specialty dessert, "Jordan's Chocolate Cake"!  Yummy!  He actually baked the cake before our walk.  He frosted it after we got back.  He works so efficiently!  (Unlike me!) 

After working in the kitchen for nearly three hours, the meal was at last ready!  I took pictures, Jordan lit candles, we said a prayer, and then finally,

...we stuffed ourselves silly!  

It was a long time coming, but it was worth it!  Good food and good company!  What more could we ask for?! 

I was so happy to be spending the evening with my very own Valentine!  Jordan always works on Sunday night, so it was extra special of him to take work off to be home with me!  And even though he didn't buy me a sparkly Hallmark card or boxes of chocolates or even flowers, none of that was what I really wanted--just him.  His presence made the very best present!  With Jordan by my side, walking and talking, cooking and eating, my evening was complete! Thank you, My Goo! I love you! 

I hope your holiday, at home or abroad, was just as grand, or more so, than ours! 

 Happy Vegan Valentine's Dinner! 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wagon Wheels!

As a child, I remember many of Mom's dinners sporting a side of wagon wheels.  No, not the kind you find on the Oregon Trail, :)  but simply, carrots, chopped into thin little rounds and steamed on the stove top or served up raw.  It's a surprisingly simple dish!  And its fun, distracting title makes it easier to sneak a serving or two of veggies into any kid's meal. 

When I was young, I recall that if the carrots were not cooked, Mom provided ranch dip to daub them in.  But if they were, she always dressed my warmed "wheels" with butter, salt, and pepper, to taste--a very delicious memory!  Nowadays, as a vegan pioneer in my family, I eat a little differently than I used to.  You'll probably find me using organic flaxseed oil, dill weed, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos on my steamed roots instead.  And I no longer require dips and sauces to enjoy a crunchy raw veggie, although I'm not averse to the idea. :

But most importantly, I am grateful for my mom and her strong maternal effort to feed quality food to her growing children in any creative way she could.  What a good Mommy!  :)  She told me that her mother prepared this carrot recipe for her when she was small.  Later, as a mom herself, she served it to me.  And maybe someday, I'll do the same, and carry on this tradition with my own little ones.  I don't see why not! 

Enjoy your Wagon Wheels, everybody!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Making a Statement!

I felt like making a statement today!  

So I wore my bright red Utah Animal Rights Coalition Tee which boldly proclaims on the back, 

"VEGAN!  No animals die for me!"    

I like this simple shirt very much!  I think it sums up my feelings pretty well!

Although perhaps it does so with a little more gusto than I would normally use to express myself...  :

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tacos Grandes

I call this recipe "Tacos Grandes" in my own dubious honor... Whenever I layer a taco together, I eagerly pack it so full of deliciousness that I can hardly lift it to take a bite without half the contents falling out! I mean, just look at the picture--look at the size of that thing! It sure did taste good though!  My eyes are just bigger than my stomach, I suppose. One of these days I'll get my big, fat taco problem under control and rename it "Los Taquitos Poquitos." Until then, enjoy!


your favorite soft taco wraps, corn or wheat
leafy greens, chopped
tomatoes, diced
avocado, sliced
corn kernels, frozen or canned
black beans, canned or cooked fresh
your favorite vegan burger "meat"
your favorite taco seasoning

Heat your taco wraps in the microwave or on the stove. Cut the veggies. Warm the corn and the beans. Cook the "meat" according to the packaging. Then layer in the ingredients to your liking. Roll it up (if you can!) and enjoy. Easy-peasy!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I love this book!

Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food

by Gene Baur, 2008  

While at my local library one sunny afternoon, by chance I happened upon this title, propped up on a book display.  The jacket was very appealing and I was immediately interested in it's content.  And it did not disappoint!  

Farm Sanctuary is one of the most gently written vegan books I've ever read.  I have yet to encounter a piece of literature which introduced me so personally to farm animals, not as some sort of collective, but for the individual souls that they are.  I especially appreciated how the author describes the plight of farmed animals, not only from an empathetic perspective, but from a legal point of view as well. 

Your heart will swell as you discover for yourself Gene's selfless story and that of his rescued animal friends-- their courage, their forgiveness, and their peaceful persistence.  In short, I love this book!  I can't wait to read it again!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Can Sprout!

One of my New Year's resolutions was to learn how to grow sprouts.  I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to do it.  It seemed like it would be so difficult.  But to my surprise, it wasn't.  In fact, it was EASY!  I couldn't believe how easy it was!  I have had great success with simple organic alfalfa seeds!  And I have enjoyed eating the "fruits of my labors" on all sorts of things: salads, sandwiches, tacos, and even all by themselves!  They are a perfect raw food, full of life and high nutrition.  And they taste so refreshing!  Plus, it's far more economical to grow your own than to purchase them at the market!  I hope maybe you'll be inspired by my small measure of achievement and give sprouting a try yourself!  I'll share with you all the tips I used to make my little dream a reality.  Don't be scared!  I can sprout and so can you!  Let's get started!  

My instructions are taken from a photocopy of excerpts from the booklet, "Sprouting For Health in the New Millennium" by Handy Pantry Distributors.  Feel free to follow the links for more information or to order products and seeds.  For clarity, I will put any personal thoughts into parentheses.  And of course, all the photos are my own. 

The Six Rules of Sprouting:
Rinse Often.
Keep them moist, not wet. 
Keep them at room temperature.
Give them plenty of room to breathe.
Don't put too many in any one container.
Keep them covered--no light. 

How To Grow Sprouts -- The Jar Method:

Good sprouting technique doesn't take a "green thumb", just paying attention to four factors: the right amount of moisture, the correct temperature, the free circulation of air, and minimal light.  By rinsing them a couple of times daily, you keep them moist.  You also wash away carbon dioxide and other metabolic wastes that could cause souring or spoiling.  Using cool water when rinsing ventilates and cools the sprouts to prevent overheating.  Proper draining prevents excessive moisture that can cause mold and rot.  The ideal sprouting temperature depends on the seed, but generally lies between 70 and 85 degrees.  To protect the tiny growing things, keep sprouting containers away from cold drafts, direct heat, or any light.  For free air circulation, at least one-third of the container must be empty.  Sprouts expand 6 to 10 times over a few days, so give them plenty of room to grow.  Sprouts are very light sensitive and need to be covered during the early stages of the growing cycle. (Distilled water is the best choice for all soaking and rinsing.  Use it if you can.  The entire cycle will probably take five or six days, from soak to harvest.)

The Seed's Packaging

Step One: Soaking
For a quart-sized (glass canning) jar, start with 1 1/2 tablespoons seeds inside the jar, screw on the fine mesh lid (or just an old nylon stocking and rubber band.  Even having no cover can work! More on that later...) and partially fill the jar with warm water, not hot.  Swirl it around to clean the seeds, then pour out.  Refill with warm water to cover at about 3 times their depth and let soak overnight, away from light.  (I put my jar in the pantry.)

Day 2

Step Two: Draining and Starting
Pour off the soak water.  Find a location that is not exposed to direct sunlight.  Place drained jar propped at an angle (about 45 degrees) to allow any extra water to drain out.  (The mouth of the jar should face down.)  Turn the jar to spread out the seeds.  (The seeds will stick to the jar when they are wet.)  Cover the jar with a dishtowel and leave for 3 to 4 hours. (I often use the dishdrainer on my countertop to prop the jar at the recommend angle, or else a small rolled up towel under the jar's bottom end.  Sometimes I put another washcloth under the lip of the jar to catch the excess moisture that drips out.  Don't forget to cover.)

Day 3

Step Three: Rinsing
Rinse sprouts with cool, fresh water 2 or 3 times each day until they are ready to eat or refrigerate.  (I thought this step would keep me babysitting my sprouts all day long; a very annoying proposition.  Then I realized I usually eat something with about the same frequency.  Now I just make sure that before I sit down to any meal, I first water my sprouts!  Easy peasy!)  When they begin to throw off the seed hulls, let the jar over flow with water and the hulls will float out the top through the screen.  Turn the jar to spread out the seeds each time you rinse.  (Here's a cool tip:  You don't really need a cover for your jar and this is why.  Just fill a clean spray bottle with distilled water and give your sprouts a bunch of gentle squirts, instead of dousing them from the faucet and then having to drain off all that excess water without losing your seedlings down the drain.  You won't need the mesh cover at all, as long as you have a spray bottle on hand.  Also, keep your sprayer in the fridge and you'll always have cool water ready for rinsing!)

Day 4

Step Four: Harvesting
Pour the sprouts into a pan or sink of clean water.  Skim off any remaining hulls that float to the surface.  Other hulls will fall to the bottom of the container.  (All hulls are discarded.)  Pull out the sprouts, gently shake off excess moisture and drain in a colander.  (Rinse the sprouts very well; spend a few minutes doing it.  They will last longer if you do.)

Day 5

Step Five: Greening
Clean the jar and lid.  Place sprouts for greening back into the jar.  Place in indirect sunlight.  Near a kitchen window is fine.  After the sprouts have greened with chlorophyll and carotene's for a day or so, rinse, drain, and eat or refrigerate.

Day 6

Step Six: Refrigerating
Sprouts will stay fresh and hearty for a week or more when refrigerated, if you rinse them every day or two.  You can even give the green sprouts an extra hour of sunlight after rinsing to keep them at their nutritional peak.  Caution: Since sprouts are frost sensitive, don't place sprouts near the freezer compartment. 

Congratulations!  Now enjoy your living harvest!