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 later....you 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 buddy...one 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.


INGREDIENTS:

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)

DIRECTIONS:

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.

INGREDIENTS:

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


DIRECTIONS:

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 away...so 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

INGREDIENTS:

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

DIRECTIONS:

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:



INGREDIENTS:

Dough

    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

Filling

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

DIRECTIONS:

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


DIRECTIONS:

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 okay...it 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




DIRECTIONS:

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

Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas


At first I decided not to post recipes from cookbooks that are new but I realized that these recipes are already all over the internet.  This is adapted from the Veganomicon cookbook.  This was super delicious and rustic and made the house smell AMAZING!  It would be awesome served with some nice crusty bread.


INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil + 1 T. divided
2 eggplants, chopped
2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, chopped
1 white onion, sliced into thin half moons
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. vegetable broth (or omit white wine and add 1 c. vegetable broth)
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Toss eggplant and peppers with olive oil, spread onto large baking tray covered with parchment paper and roast at 450 for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, in large pot over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in 1 T. olive oil until golden.  Add tomatoes with juice from can, chickpeas, wine/vegetable broth, tarragon, thyme, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Once this mixture starts to simmer, turn to medium low until roasted veggies are done.   Add roasted vegetables and stir to combine.

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Creamy Artichoke and Lemon Pasta Sauce


I made this recipe a couple years ago and the kids didn't care for it.  Tastes change so I tried it again.  Again, the sauce was tart when I made it, so I added some things to the final product and this time it was a huge hit with everyone.  I don't know where I found the recipe to begin with, and I couldn't find it online, so I can't credit the creator.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. pasta of choice cooked according to directions
1 can artichoke hearts (approx 15 oz.)
1/2 c. olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. fresh lemon zest/peel
2 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper)

1/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. Vegan mayo

DIRECTIONS:

Blend artichokes, olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, zest, sugar, salt and pepper in food processor until smooth.  Pour over cooked pasta.  Add wine and mayo; stir to combine.  Heat longer on medium heat if necessary.

serves 6-8

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Homemade Laundry Detergent


I know this recipe has been passed around the internet and a lot of people have tried it.  I have been making this for three years and I love it.  More recently I have heard around that it just doesn't get your clothes as clean.  Let me tell you, I have been doing laundry for years and I CANNOT tell the difference.  The fragrance is less, but fragrance comes from chemicals and there are far fewer of them in the homemade stuff....not to mention it's much cheaper to make your own.

Within the past couple of months I found out the recipe I was using, which included Fels Naptha laundry bar, contained tallow which is pork or beef fat...EWW!  Not Vegan enough for this Vegan, and I'm ashamed I used it for over two years.  After doing research I found you can use any bar soap.  I have been using Kirk's Castile but this past batch I used Yardley Oatmeal and Almond (no animal testing) and it smells AMAZING!  I also loved that I found it at Walmart for 88 cents a bar.  Also if you have a membership for a bulk store, getting a large pack of Baking Soda for this recipe and other homemade cleaning products is a great idea for the value compared to a single box.

INGREDIENTS:

3 c. Borax
2 c. Baking Soda
2 c. Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 bar soap, grated

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients together and use 2 Tablespoons per load.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cheddar Bay Biscuits (Vegan Copycat)

I don't remember where I originally found this recipe because it's written on an index card in my recipe box.  It was one of those I kept around from before I went Vegan because I knew I could Veganize it.  These are super yum and are similar to those addictive biscuits they give you at Red Lobster.

INGREDIENTS:

4 c. Baking mix (such as Bisquick) or make your own
8 oz. Shredded Vegan Cheddar-style shreds (I used Daiya brand)
1 1/3 c. melted Vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

Topping:

1/2 c. melted butter
2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. onion powder
1/2 t. dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line large rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix together first three ingredients in large bowl.  Spoon dough onto baking sheet in 12 spoonfuls.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Combine topping ingredients into small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds - 1 minute.  Brush spiced butter over biscuits and place back in over for additional 5 minutes.

MAKES 1 dozen

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fabric Curtain Tie-Backs


I have had the same curtains in my dining room since we bought the house 13 years ago.  It was definitely time for a change so that my curtains could reflect the new color scheme I was using in my living and dining room.  I went with a pretty and simple white sheer curtain from IKEA (NORDIS) so I could use bright colors for tie-backs. 
I looked through the fabric I had on hand and had a bunch of scraps for some bed sheets I turned into curtains for my son's room. This striped fabric also looks super cute with my lamp shades in the house.
So, I feel this is a very easy project and would probably be even faster on a sewing machine, which I do not own or know how to operate yet.  Here are the Steps in photos.






 Then just repeat Steps 1-5 for second tie back.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Shocking Discoveries When I Decided to Go Vegan

1.  There is slaughter even in the dairy and egg industry.  So there is still death behind a Vegetarian diet.

-The egg industry has no use for male chicks they hatch.  The chicks are "sexed" by squeezing their stomachs to make them poop....this opens their anal vent to reveal a bump (male) or no bump (female).  They are then sorted by their gender and the male chicks are either macerated (ground alive) or suffocated.  The female chicks become layers and when they can no longer produce eggs they are slaughtered.

-In the dairy industry, male calves are sold to become veal.  Females, when grown, are repeatedly raped and inseminated.  Their calves are taken away within a few days and instead of being allowed to nurse from their mothers are shackled and kept in rows of huts with other  babies.  The process of separation is heartbreaking to witness since the mother fights for her baby and the two can be heard crying for each other for days.  After the mother has gone through this process with multiple offspring, and is no longer able to give birth again, she is sold for fast food meat or pet food.

2. Animals go through a lot of pain and suffering before they're even slaughtered.

-Animals raised for food in factory farms suffer their whole lives, with not only physical pain but suffer emotionally and psychologically.  There are constantly investigations done by animal welfare groups because workers abuse the animals.  They are mutilated, poked and prodded, beaten and mishandled and when it's time for their death they are still alive after the initial bolt gun to the head (cows and pigs) and sometimes even still alive when their limbs are cut off or they are boiled or skinned.  Fast paced processing lines in slaughterhouses leave room for many errors.  There is a high turnover of workers and many end up with psychological issues and have a high rate of violent offenses outside of work.
http://www.foodispower.org/slaughterhouse-workers/

3. Baby animals raised for food are tortured and mutilated 
 All animals in factory farms go through a processing procedure when they are very young and anesthesia or pain killers are not used.
-Piglets: teeth pulled out, castrated, tails cut off, ears notched

-Chicks (chickens and turkeys): debeaked with a hot blade and toes cut off

-Calves: castrated, dehorned, branded, tails cut off

4. There is immense suffering behind those items you wear.

-When feathers are collected from birds for down (pillows, coats etc.) the bird isn't slaughtered for meat and feathers removed....they pluck the feathers while the bird is alive, wait for them to grow back and pluck them again. This continues until they are slaughtered.  When supporting the down industry with your money you could also be supporting the foie gras industry.
- When sheep are sheared for wool they can be mishandled and injured during the process since speed is the #1 priority with shearers.  Most of the world's wool comes from Australia where temperatures are difficult for sheep to remain cool.  Their skin folds hold moisture and smell, attracting flies so a process called mulesing is done to cut chunks of flesh from their backsides to smooth the skin.  There are companies that have pledged to not use wool from farms that use this practice  (like H&M, Perry Ellis, HUGO BOSS and Adidas) but many still do.

I am only going into these two subjects since these are things that aren't obvious to everyone.  In the fur and leather industries the animals are obviously slaughtered.

5.  The leading cause of deforestation, climate change, greenhouse gasses and water usage (70% of all water consumption) is animal agriculture.
-The earth is sick and we need to do something about it.

6. Those buzz words on packing have nothing to do with how the animal is treated and slaughtered.
 *words such as free range, cage free, organic, grass fed, antibiotic free, pasture-raised, humane

7. People seem not to care
-Because of learned habits, tradition, denial and comfort, people choose not to educate themselves on these issues. The hardest thing about being an ethical Vegan is not giving up animal products, eating out, or acceptance, it's watching others live their lives and refuse to listen to the truth.  Hearing stories and seeing footage of the atrocities in these industries used to only make me sad and ashamed.  After being Vegan for three years I can barely watch this stuff anymore because of anger.  Anger at the government, the companies, the workers and the consumers.

8. Cholesterol is found only in animal products
-switching to a Vegan diet can help a Cholesterol problem.  You can even clear your arteries of plaque and reverse heart disease. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.  In only eight months of a Vegan diet my cholesterol went from dangerously high to normal.

9. Vegan food is actually good

-Before going Vegan I didn't understand Vegetarians and Vegans, and like a lot of people, thought, "I could never do that"...give up things like cheeseburgers and ribs.  I pictured a hairy-arm pitted, hippy eating twigs and berries, hugging trees and judging the rest of society.  While I may not always shave my pits due to laziness, I am guilty of hugging a tree every now and then, but I eat way more than twigs and berries....Vegans don't only eat veggies and fruit either.  In fact, if not for legumes and nuts, I probably couldn't do it.  There are so many substitutes out there for people transitioning, to make them feel like they are still eating meats and dairy.  I love to cook for guests who are normally carnivores and wow them with delicious foods.  That is one of the reasons I am providing tips and yummy recipes.

10. Veganism as a trend is on the rise

-plant-based food has been named a top trend in 2016  and there are celebrities "coming out" as vegans or vegetarians all the time.  There are at least 16,000,000 people who are either vegan or vegetarian in the US alone, and that number is growing every year.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Veganomicon Cookbook

My hubby ordered me the Veganomicon cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, for Christmas.  We've made five of the recipes and they have all been wonderful!  Just wanted to promote the cookbook.  I don't know how I'd feel if I put out a cookbook, was trying to make money from it and people were typing up the recipes and passing them around online for free, so as a general rule, if I get a recipe from a book, I'm not going to put the recipe online until the book is at least ten years from it's first edition.  Here is one the hubby cooked for me last night....we used regular linguine since we could not find spinach linguine at our grocery store.


Ooey Gooey Chocolate Insanity Cake

My mom gave me this recipe printed out, and I tried it last night.  It is very chocolaty, very ooey gooey, and the insanity part either comes from the amount of sugar in it or the fact that your eyes roll into the back of your head with each bite.  You only need a small piece and it's absolutely delicious (and full of messy goodness).  When researching I found it came from The Slow-Roasted Italian.com.   It doesn't take much to Veganize this...just use Earth Balance instead of the butter, Non-dairy milk and replacement eggs (which I use Ener-G Egg Replacer).  Enjoy!



INGREDIENTS:

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour, plus 1 tablespoon divided
1 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda, divided
1 c. Earth Balance butter
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 c. water
2 replacement eggs
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 c. non-dairy milk
1/2 T. white vinegar
1 t. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small saucepan combine butter, cocoa and water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together  2 c. flour, sugar, salt, 1 t. baking soda, and baking powder.  In separate small bowl mix together 1/2 c. milk, 1/2 T. white vinegar and 1 t. baking soda.  Add heated chocolate mixture to large bowl of flour mixture, stir to combine.  Add milk mixture to batter; stir to combine.  Add replacement eggs and vanilla to batter; stir to combine. In small bowl stir together chocolate chips with 1 T. flour.; fold chocolate chips into batter.

Pour into greased 9x13 pan.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

For icing
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. Earth Balance butter
6  T.  non-dairy milk
3 3/4 c. powdered/confectioners sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt

Bring cocoa, butter and milk to a boil in a small saucepan.  In medium bowl place powdered sugar and salt.  Pour chocolate mixture over, add vanilla and mix with mixer.  Pour over cake while cake is still slightly warm, and serve immediately.

Adapted from Ooey GooeyChocolate Insanity Cake

*Notes:
-Original recipe said to bake 20 minutes, but the cake was still liquid at that point....35 minutes was perfect.

- Original recipe said to make the icing and pour over immediately, but the middle of the cake sunk in to a pool and it was very uneven...better to wait for the cake to cool a little while.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Product Review: Tolerant Lentil Rotini

On my quest to find products made without grains or starchy carbs, I found these noodles made from lentils by a company called Tolerant out of Canada. They have green and red lentil pasta in rotini, penne and mini fettuccine and the same shapes in a black bean pasta.  I have tried the green and red lentil rotini. They are Non GMO, Organic, Gluten-Free and Vegan.  With only one ingredient you don't have to worry about hidden stuff that's bad for you.
I purchased a box at Kroger for a whopping $7.99 because I was super desperate to eat pasta and was on my "no starchy carbs fast".  I had my fingers crossed that I would love it because when I found the same product at Costo for $9.99 for a three pack, (I felt so taken advantage of by Kroger).  I bought them without having tried the first box.
The first recipe I made was mock chicken noodle soup with Beyond meat chicken-style strips, veggies and these noodles.  I really like a thick broth (more like stew) so I was thrilled when I poured the noodles in and cooked them in the broth, without boiling them first, and they made the broth thicker.   Even smelling them and eating them plain, you can't tell they're made from lentils.  Texturally, they are similar to Al-dente pasta, but a little gooier and less sticky than pasta made with flour.
*Note, for this soup I used Imagine brand "Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth" which magically tastes like chicken broth without the chicken and not too vegetable-ish like the standard vegetable broths.  I also used white wine, carrots, celery, onions, pepper, and Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magic Seasoning Blends in the Poultry flavor.

So, I would give this a two thumbs up, and so would the rest of my family.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

How to Organize: Meal Planning and Grocery Store Trips

This topic was on the top of my mind this morning as I prepared to go to the grocery store.  I try to only go once a week.  I know people who shop multiple times a week or even every day.  Raise your hand if you like going that often?....especially with kids.  (I'm not raising my hand)  I also know people who shop without a list or coupons.  I AM NOT an "extreme couponer", but I hold on to the ones I find and I sign up for automatic coupons on the app for the store I shop at.  I am in the Midwest so I shop at Kroger.  I also go to Costco (bulk foods) about once a month and then occasionally I travel up north to a city with a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  For a while I was also going to a produce market, but after switching to mostly organic produce, because they didn't stock much organic, I stopped going, and just get my produce at Kroger.

Part One: Meal Planning

I hate meal planning more than grocery shopping.  The main reason is that I still have picky eaters.  I have a 13 year old who is really flexible and will still politely eat things she doesn't care for (this is only been her attitude for a couple years though).  I have a 10 year old (almost 11) who is an excuse giver, most of the time it's "I'm not hungry", and a 4 year old who just plain refuses to try things, says things are yucky, or spits stuff out.  I try not to make more than two "iffy" meals a week so they don't explode.

1. Start collecting recipes you like

I know in this digital age it's so much easier to collect recipes online than on index cards like our moms and grandmas used to.  So, if you have a Pinterest account and are already collecting recipes start a board with things you've already made and loved so you can easily find them again.  If you just bookmark stuff online shove your favorites in a folder.  Don't expect them to be around forever though...I made this lovely dessert from a blog that no longer exists and I will probably never find it again.  This online way can be easy for collecting, but for me, at least, it's not easy to cook from a recipe using my smart phone.  I've done it when I'm too lazy to write it down, but I think it's much easier to write the recipe on an index card and keep a file box.  That way when you plan your meals for the week, you can pull the cards and have them ready to go.  I keep my recipes clipped up in front of me so I can read them easily while I'm cooking and I don't get them dirty.  I also sometimes even create index cards from my favorites in cookbooks so I don't get the book yucky and I can simplify the directions in my own words.

2. Keep extras / stock up on the things you use a lot
I will be doing a post on "Stocking a Vegan Pantry" in the near future.

3.  Look around in your cupboards and fridge for inspiration and to remind yourself what you have

4.  Figure out how many meals you are going to cook and write them down on a list

I end up jotting down my meals in the same notepad I write my list on so I can refer to it and go over it to make sure I'm writing down all I need on my grocery list.  Usually after my trip to the store I rip it out and pin it up.  My husband, however, got me a roll of chalkboard paper and chalk markers to make a menu on the side of the fridge, so now I can post it in a prettier way.  The kids love running in to see "what's on the menu" for the week.  I actually think the hubby got the markers so he could draw with them (he added the food drawings...I'm not that much of an artist).  I do have to note that my "chicken sandwiches" on the menu pictured are Boca spicy chicken-style patties, I made the "chicken soup" with Beyond Meat chicken-style strips, I spelled "Manwich" wrong (I use Boca crumbles for that), and I buy Lightlife brand veggie dogs for my "hot dogs". We usually go out to dinner on Saturdays, so I usually only plan to cook six nights a week.



Part Two: Getting Ready for the Grocery Store


1. Get a notepad and coupon organizer 
I have this 1/2 standard, notebook-sized, spiral notebook and I tape an envelope in the back to hold coupons I'm using for that trip only.  I have found it's easier to have them ready to hand the cashier than to pull the coupons out of my organizer at the counter. I usually don't take my organizer with me, but I have, however, found items on sale that weren't on my list and the matching coupon was at home.   I also make sure to ALWAYS HAVE A PEN with me when I go to the store to mark off items after putting them in the cart.  It's easier than going over your list a million times and forgetting stuff. It's nearly impossible to remember everything even with a list when you're a mom and you're tired and the kids are with you...ugh....so take a pen.

 Note: My coupon organizer only has so many tabs...here are the Categories that worked for me:
-Canned Goods
-Breakfast
-Produce
-Toiletries
-Cleaning and Paper Products
-Frozen Foods and Snack Foods
-Baby
-Bags and Wraps
-Meat and Bread
-Baking
-Pets
-Drinks
-Dairy (which is my old category, but now includes Almond Milk, Soy Yogurt and my Plant-based cheeses)
-Other (batteries, vitamins, greeting cards etc)
-Side Dishes and Condiments


2. Write your list strategically 

I draw columns on my list: "Other", "Nature's Market" (health food section), "Produce" and "Non-Foods" .  This makes it easier when you go to the store and doesn't take much more effort when you make the list.  You can get even fancier and make columns for each aisle, but so far, this way works for me.  I have also, in the past, put a symbol next to the items I have coupons for in case I need to check the coupon for an exact brand, size or number of packages listed on the coupon.  I kind of phased that out but that works too.  I always smile and feel good when my produce list is longer than the "other" list.


3. Add the things to the list you stock up on and are out of

You can even write lists of those items you want to keep on hand and pin them inside your cupboard

4.  Add the ingredients to the list for the meal/recipes you are making and don't currently have on hand.

5. Keep organized at the store too!

I like to pack the cart as I shop in a neat way and not throw things in...it helps things not to get squished and keeps like items near each other for when you unload.  Is there anyone else who strategically puts items on the conveyor belt to get the bagger to bag them properly?  I'm totally guilty of that.  I put the heavy stuff on the belt first, then the "hard stuff" (cans, bottles then boxes),  non-foods, then the produce, and last the "soft /fragile stuff" (bread, tortillas, taco shells, light bulbs).  This subconsciously helps the bagger to not be careless about packing stuff and then keeps similar items together for easier unpacking.

Tips for Saving money:

- if your store has a shopper's card you need for sale items, get one

-check to see if you can load auto coupons to your shopper's card through an app on your phone

-collect coupons and make sure you're on the store's mailing list in case they send coupons through the mail

-check the store's mark-downs and clearance items EVERY WEEK (find out where the store puts the mark-downs in each department)  I have saved a ton of money this way.  These items are usually the only thing I buy that is not on my list. *check dates on perishable items

-if the store has a credit card you can sign up for to earn points, do it, but only if you intend on paying it off every month.  We use our Kroger card for groceries and gas only.  Our points add up, and quarterly we get gift checks to use in store (usually $35 - $45 a quarter)

-join mailing lists for the companies of products you buy the most often in case they might send you coupons (this works great for baby items like diapers, wipes and formula)

-send letters of appreciation to the companies you love...often they reward your efforts with coupons or free items

I hope this helps everyone.  Let me know if you have any more tips, or how implementing these ideas helped you!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Socca

As far as I know, no one in my home has a gluten allergy or intolerance.  I have, however, heard of the benefits of limiting or eliminating gluten from your diet.  I have been on the search for yummy grain alternatives.  Chickpea flour (or Besan) is a great protein-filled substitute for flour.  My favorite recipe I've come across is a traditional Italian flatbread called Socca.  I wouldn't have guessed they used chickpea flour in Italy.  This does not take a lot of time to throw together and it can be reheated easily.  I have been using this to make fork sandwiches or topping it with all sorts of things from pizza toppings to sauteed spinach, tofu scramble and vegan cheddar.  I found this flour at a local Indian market, which is a cheaper alternative to Bob's Red Mill or a similar brand.

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 c. chick-pea flour* (also called garbanzo flour or Besan)
3 1/2 c. fresh cold water
1 t. salt
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk flour with water, salt and pepper in bowl until combined well.  Let sit on counter for 2-3 hrs.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover  large rectangular cookie sheet with parchment paper, enough to go up sides.  Drizzle olive oil on parchment paper and use bottom of measuring cup to spread around and cover bottom of pan.  Pour batter over and carefully place in oven (as batter is thin).  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.  Cut into desired shape and store leftovers in refrigerator. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Zucchini Fritters

As you will soon find out, I am a "one photo and the recipe", "cut to the chase" kind of girl.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds it frustrating when they're cooking using a recipe off of their smart phone and the site owner posts 20 pictures of the food and prep...and you're scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, just to find the ingredients and directions.  Most of my recipe posts will contain an intro, one photo, the ingredients and directions.  As a jump-into-the-new-year, and a request of the congregation from my pastor, I started a "no starchy carbs" fast.  (Some people are doing just water, just juice, no meat, no caffeine or something non-food related.)  I did a juice fast in October (more on that later), and it was rough, and I am already Vegan, so I decided to give up sweets and starchy carbs (anything with flour or grains, rice, potatoes, corn etc).  I started before the New Year because I was anxious, so I've been on it for a week and a half.  I immediately started looking for Pinterest recipes and discovered quite a few with chickpea/garbanzo bean flour.  I am lucky to have a local Indian market that sells it cheaply, regular and organic.  If you find the flour at the Indian market it will be called Besan.  These fritters were excellent.  If you don't care for curry or garam masala (a spice mix that can also be found at an Indian market or thrown together yourself), just throw in what you like, to flavor it.  The grill marks on the fritters are from my panini maker, which I used to reheat them.



INGREDIENTS:

4 c. shredded zucchini (I used 2 c. zucchini and 2 c. yellow squash because it's what I had on hand)
1 c. chickpea flour
1 t. dried basil or six fresh leaves
1 t. salt
1 tsp. garam masala
1 t. chili paste (found in the Asian section at the grocery store)
1/2 tsp. curry powder
 Olive oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

In large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except for olive oil together until zucchini moistens mixture. Coat large, non-stick skillet with olive oil and heat up over medium heat.  Form batter into about eight fritters and fry, in two batches until golden and crispy on each side....Add more olive oil as you go or if the fritters are sticking.

-Adapted from the Zucchini Pancake recipe on Just Hungry.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Round Loom Dog Sweater

This is Lucy.  We adopted her on December 8th 2015.  At 45 degrees she starts to shiver so I knew I needed something for those winter walks.  I do not really know how to knit (well) on standard needles, but a couple years ago I acquired a Knifty Kitter loom set, which was super easy to learn and use.  I started off making slippers and hats, and eventually scarves.  This dog sweater project was the most complicated thing I've made so far, but it was worth the time.  As for measurements, I didn't take any...just kept holding it up to her to see if it fit.   I watched this awesome tutorial to learn how.



Intro

Starting this new blog today (I may not have started at least a dozen blogs in the past...some successful, some not).  Wholesome Homestead is the name I chose when I had a Vegan food "business" over the summer, and I can't part with it.  My dream is to live in the country, grow lots of food, have a farm stand and meet lots of interesting people.  Our home will be back up for sale in the spring.  I have always been interested in making homemade things, recipes, cooking, crafts, and since I've been married, add on photography, blogging and networking.
We have been Vegan since February of 2013...story for another time.  I love cooking Vegan and I love serving my friends and family Vegan food and having them exclaim..."This is so good, how is it Vegan?"  Previous to being Vegan I had this blog, which I kept around since the recipes are floating around Pinterest, and if someone asks me for an old recipe I can refer them there, so check it out if you are not Vegan.
The Crafty Culinarian
What this blog will include is Vegan recipes, crafts, stories and rants, family life, Jesus, marriage, parenting, photography, animal rights stuff...basically all my life is about.  I can't really narrow down an interest, so you're going to get it all.