Monday, February 29, 2016

Really Love Yourself

I am all riled up today for multiple reasons.  First of all, Leonardo DiCaprio's speech at the Oscars last night was awesome...I'm happy that he took time to address climate change.  He helped get Cowspiracy on Netflix by producing a new cut of the film, which is so awesome.

I am also reading a new book called The Starch Solution by John A. McDougall, MD, after seeing multiple things about it on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.  It's a Vegan diet that allows starchy foods but restricts fat.  I will be documenting this for you as I am trying to read the book so I can get started ASAP.

The main thing I want to focus on today, though, is my concern with this whole fat acceptance movement.  What sparked my wanting to address it is reading about the model Tess (Munster) Holiday.  She is a gorgeous plus-sized woman who is a size 22 supermodel.  I am a size 20/22 myself.  Yes I am Vegan, but I have a portion-control problem, I don't always eat the right things, I am only semi-healthy, my body suffers EVERY DAY because of my weight and I am NOT HAPPY with myself.  I think it's absolutely fine to love yourself....loving your personality, being comfortable in your own skin.  But if you are not healthy on the inside and taking care of your body like you should you are going to pay for it may already be paying for it now and don't realize it.  If this beautiful and overweight woman wants to love her body that's great, but it's not sending a good message to tell women/girls to accept obesity as "who you are".   There is no one in the world who could convince me this woman eats healthy food, gets adequate exercise and has absolutely no health or physical problems.  My feet get numb when I
stand, my back hurts constantly, my knees ache when I've been sitting too long, I move slowly, I get winded walking up the stairs, my pregnancies were torturous, my heels are cracked from my weight, my bladder is weak.  These are just to name a few and have nothing to do with my appearance or the emotional issues I have from being overweight.  People are calling this girl a hero.  I just can't get behind that.  If you promote loving your obese body you are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.  Imagine what this girl could do to help those with body image issues if she became healthy, got to a healthy body weight and promoted that instead.
There will be those that play the genetics card or say they are big boned.  This photo of a big-boned skeleton sculpture pokes fun at that ridiculous claim.  There aren't big-boned skeletons so that excuse is bogus.
...and while we are on the subject, you may be overweight, and you may be fine with that, but if you allow your children to be unhealthy as you raise them you are setting them up for a lifetime of struggle.  It's so important to form good eating and exercise habits in them from a young age.  Even before I was a parent I always vowed that I would try my best to raise my kids to be healthy so I could protect them from going through being a fat adult.  As I babysat and was a nanny from age 12-22 I watched parents raise kids on diets of junk food, Kool-Aid, soda and processed foods.  Even the skinny kids had to be super unhealthy on the inside.  My daughter is now 13.  I always built up her self esteem, not not only telling her she was beautiful and teaching her to love her body but also fought through the pickiness and the tantrums, not giving up, not giving in and letting her eat a bunch of garbage all the time.  The one thing we worked through was her body shape.  Just like me and my father's side of the family, we have stocky thighs.  To be honest, I HATE my thighs, but I am overweight.  My daughter, at a healthy weight, noticed her thighs were shapely and that a lot of her friends legs were skinnier.  I told her she was born with strong-sports legs...and while she never got into standard sports, she always remember that and was proud of her shape.
I guess my whole point is that my hope is for everyone to really love their body, but in this case make sure love is a verb....take care of yourselves.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Spice it Up!

I have been planning to do this post for a while now.  If you are not using fresh herbs in your cooking, growing or making your own dried herbs you are really missing out.

Growing Herbs

I don't know about every herb, but I've discovered they are really easy to grow.  I grow basil, oregano and parsley in my garden.  There's nothing like going out to pick herbs from your garden and using them in your recipes not five minutes later.  From what I understand, basil is an annual but for some reason, last year, my basil popped up all over my garden from the year before.  Oregano is a perennial and if you give it room and lots of sun it will get bigger every year.

Drying Herbs

The easiest way to dry herbs is to string them up.   The fastest way is to use a dehydrator.  I was lucky enough to get this one as a gift from my in-laws.  It was around $20 and is pretty good for the cost.  It is cheaper to buy fresh herbs and dry them than to buy them dried...especially organic.  How many times have you purchased fresh parsley or cilantro for a recipe, only used a little bit and had to throw the rest away because it went bad.  I bought a bunch of fresh organic parsley for 79cents, used 1/4 cup for a recipe and dried the rest in my dehydrator and ended up with nearly a container's worth.  Another plus of making your own is that it is better quality and is more flavorful.  I don't know what they do to dried herbs when they process them but you can see just by this photo that the quality is better.

Processing Dried Herbs

Once your herbs are dried it's easiest to use a coffee grinder to grind them.  I keep a cheap coffee grinder around just for cooking and not for coffee beans.  You can also use it to make powdered sugar from regular sugar and to chop nuts and small batches of dried food.  You can also use a mortar and pestle which are super cute and are fun to keep out for decoration in your kitchen.

Making Herb Mixes 

The following recipes are meant to keep around and use multiple times.  Having them mixed up and ready to go is a real time saver when you are cooking.   They are much cheaper to make yourself than spending money on premade mixes, especially if you've made some of the dried spices yourself.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

2 T. cinnamon
2 t. nutmeg
2 t. ginger
1 1/2 t. allspice

Use in recipes that call for pumpkin spice mix, sprinkle in your favorite coffee or cookies

Italian Sausage Spice Mix

2 t. salt
1 T freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/4 T. dried parsley
1 T. garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
1 T. dried basil
2 t. paprika
2 t. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
3/4 t. ground fennel seed
1/2 t. brown sugar
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried thyme

Use this to flavor Meat (I use it on Boca ground crumbles)

Ranch Dressing/Dip Mix

2 T.  dried parsley
1 1/2 t. dried dill
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. onion powder
2 t. dried onion
1 t. black pepper
1 t. chives
1 t. salt

To make Ranch Dressing or Dip add 1/2 T. of this mix to 3/4 c. mayo (I use Vegenase or Just Mayo and 1 T. lemon juice or red wine vinegar.  Thin out with milk (I like almond) to the consistency you'd like depending on whether you're making salad dressing or dip.

Taco Seasoning

2 T. chili powder
3 t. ground cumin (cumin seed is also good but not as flavorful)
2 t. black pepper
2 t. salt
2 t. paprika
1/ 2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried cilantro

Use to taste to flavor meat (I use this on Boca ground crumbles)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cashew Rangoon

I found this recipe on Pinterest and the original can be found HERE.  This is a great recipe to make with a person to fill the wontons and one to fry them...but the result is worth the work!  YUM!  I like to serve this with homemade sweet and sour sauce.  THIS sauce recipe is fantastic and even better with some fruit preserves added in and some orange juice or pineapple juice substituted for some of the water.


1 pkg square wonton wrappers
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon tahini
the juice from 1 lime
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce or chili pepper paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 sweet red pepper, minced

1 qt. cooking oil (I like to use vegetable or canola and flavor it with a little peanut or sesame oil)


Combine the cashews, tahini, lime juice, soy sauce, sriracha, salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add a little water at a time so that the mixture can blend, but try not to add it all if you can help it. 1/4 cup is perfect, but you can use up to 1/2 cup if you need to.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Stir in the scallions and peppers.
Heat the cooking oil in deep pot on the stove over medium heat.
Wet the edges of the wonton, then scoop about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling into the center of the wonton.  Fold the square wonton into a triangle, and press the sides closed.
Wet the two points on the long sides of the triangle, then press them together under the triangle.
Let them cook until the bottom is golden brown, then flip over. Let the other side cook to the same color, then remove them from the pot, gently, with your slotted spoon.
Let the wontons cool on a plate lined with napkins or paper towels that can soak up the extra grease.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Akki Roti

Roti is Indian flat bread that is fried on a griddle.  There are so many different kinds.  I have made this recipe three times.  The first time I was blown away and I didn't change a thing from the original.  The second time I used whole green mung beans and mung bean flour instead of rice flour and they were horrible.  The third time I made it the same as the first and added additional spices which I will suggest in a note since a couple of them are more obscure.


1/2 c. split (yellow) mung beans soaked overnight in 1 c. water
2 c. rice flour
1/2 c. shredded cococut
1/4 c. shredded carrot
2 T. fresh cilantro, minced
2 1/2 t. green chiles
1 t. cumin
1 t. salt

1/2 c. vegetable oil for frying

Optional spices: amchoor (mango powder), curry powder, garlic powder or minced garlic, fenugreek powder


Drain mung beans but reserve water; place in large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except for oil and mix with hands.  Add back in about 1/2 cup of the reserved water and mix well.  Form into patties (I made about 9).  Heat 2 T. of the oil in medium frying pan over medium heat.  Fry patties in three or four batches adding more oil in between batches.  Serve warm.

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Gardein Meatless Meatloaf

So I found this Meatless Meatloaf by Gardein at Plum Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I was blown yummy!  It came with packets of gravy, but I could tell by the ingredients it was not similar to the tomato glaze I used to put on meatloaf back in the day when I ate cows.  The directions called for pan frying as a preferred method of heating, so I used my pancake griddle so I could prepare eight slices at the same time (two packages).  It only takes about five minutes on each side and I oiled the griddle with a little olive oil.  Here is the recipe for the sauce:

Meatloaf sauce


1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 T. mustard
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 t. tarragon
1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic


Stir ingredients together and heat in microwave for 30 seconds.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is touted as a Cinnabon copycat recipe.  I "veganized" the ingredients and the icing recipe is not included.  Here is the original recipe if you want to make a vegan version of the cream cheese icing, or you can make a simple icing with non-dairy milk, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Here is a super-adorable (but longish) video I made of my four year old making the recipe:



    1 package  or 2 1/4 active dry yeast
    1 cup non-dairy milk (should not feel warmer than the temperature of your finger)
    ½ cup sugar
    ⅓ cup non-dairy butter
    1 tsp salt
    2 replacement eggs (I love Ener-G egg replacer)
    4 cups flour


    1 cup  packed brown sugar
    3 T. cinnamon
    ⅓ cup non-dairy butter


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well.  Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated.  Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx ¼ inch thick.  Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough.   Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.  Cut the roll into 12 slices  Place the cut rolls on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes or until they double in size.  Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions with Spiced Pita Chips

This recipe was a nightmare when I first got my hands on it.  It took nearly three times longer on a higher temperature to bake the onions then the original said.  Also, it took half the time to cook the lentils and rice and it ran out of moisture and stuck.  I have modified this recipe below to make it work for you.  It was super delish...especially if you spooned the lentils/rice over the chips...YUM! Adapted from the Veganomicon cookbook

INGREDIENTS for lentils and rice

3 sweet onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/4  cup olive oil
1 cup long-grain basmati rice (brown or white), rinsed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup red lentils, rinsed


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Toss onions with olive oil and spread on large baking tray covered with parchment paper.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until dark brown nearly burnt (if some of them burn it's doesn't affect the taste) stirring every 10 minutes.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add rice, cinnamon, allspice, and cumin and lentils. Return to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the caramelized onions when they are done.  Turn to low to keep warm while baking pita chips.

INGREDIENTS for pita chips

4 pitas cut into 6-8 wedges (depending on size of pita)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 t. cumin
1 t. garlic
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 t. salt


Reduce heat from baking onions to 400 degrees.  Line large baking tray with parchment paper and arrange pita wedges.  Brush with olive oil.  In small bowl combine spices; sprinkle over pita.  Bake for 10 minutes or until crispy.

Serve with Lentils and Rice, spooning onto pita chips.

Serves 6