Beggin For Brownies…..

18 03 2012

I’ve been on a quest to find the best Vegan brownie recipe in the world. Well, after a number of failed “experiments” I pretty much gave up! My dog even stole one set (that was harder than a hockey puck) out of my kitchen trash. Suitable to be a dog cookie? Enough said! ImageBecause of all of the dry ingredients, the dough just needs some help rising to be edible.

After taste testing a few recipes, I came up with this version of gluten-free goodness! They do have eggs in them, so they would not be considered Vegan. These are great, and you don’t need a very big piece to get a chocolate fix.

The base for the dough is arrowroot. It’s a starch that’s gluten-free and is used in place of flour most frequently to firm up puddings, custards, and in our case here, brownies. The walnut oil is a little pricey but it’s really high in your Omega 3 and 6, so I’m sure that makes it safe to rationalize having a second piece! Both the walnut oil and the arrow root might be hard to find in a traditional grocery store, but you should be able to locate them in a more “health oriented” stores.

Best Brownie Ever

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pecans

6 Tablespoons walnut oil, plus extra for the baking pan

½ cup agave nectar

2 whole omega-3 eggs

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup arrowroot

Sunspire chocolate chips and toasted, chopped pecans (unsalted) for “frosting”

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Oil an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with the walnut oil. In a food processor, grind the pecans to the consistency of meal. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the 6T walnut oil, agave nectar, eggs, cocoa, and arrowroot. Stir to blend. Pour into an oiled 8x8x2 inch baking dish.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Immediately put some of the Sunspire chocolate chips on the top of the brownies just when you pull the pan out of the oven. When melted, use a small spatula to spread. Sprinkle toasted pecans on top. Let cool, then cut into 1 inch squares.

Variation: I used ground almond flour in the dough rather than 1 cup raw pecans; you can purchase the ground almond flour in the baking section at Trader Joe’s.

You could also lose the chocolate chips and dust the top of the cooked brownies with a dusting of powdered sugar.

These are not “vegan” due to the incorporation of eggs, but they are gluten free and dairy free depending upon the type of chocolate chips you use for the frosting.

Adapted from: The UltraMetabolism Prescription, Dr. Mark Hyman available from: http://www.amazon.com/Ultrametabolism-Simple-Plan-Automatic-Weight/dp/0743272560





Classic Comforts

26 02 2012

I had a craving this week for a macaroni salad my Mom used to make when I was a kid, you know the one with the elbow macaroni, peas and onions? One of the challenges of being Vegan is how to get the taste of the comfort foods you remember but in a healthier, vegetable based way. 

Here’s my take on Pea and Onion Pasta Salad – brown rice based elbow macaroni by Tinkyada Pasta Joy (gluten-free), canned organic peas, a little finely diced red onion and Veganaise. Mix and refrigerate for a bit to allow the flavors to blend. Yum! 

That got me on a kick of trying to figure out how to make Vegan Enchiladas. I used corn tortillas (check the label because many brands have some gluten, etc. incorporated) and fried them in a bit of olive oil to soften them, added a mixture of rice and almond based “cheddar” cheeses, and sat them in a bed of homemade enchilada sauce from a wonderful recipe I found online (see: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/easy-enchilada-sauce-recipe/index.html – I just modified this to vegetable broth rather than chicken stock and used organic versions on the canned goods). Place the “cheese” filled rolled tortillas in a baking pan that has some of the homemade sauce in the bottom, cover with a little more sauce, a little “cheese” and place it in a 350* oven for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Eat and enjoy! 

Tabbouleh is a wonderful staple for lunch. In this version I’ve added up about 2 cups (cooked) couscous (not gluten-free! You can substitute cooked Quinoa for the couscous if you are trying to lose the gluten) according to the package directions. The version I used today had some brown rice, lentils and spices already in the mix. I chopped up one bunch of fresh parsley finely. Make sure and dry it thoroughly before trying to chop it up or you will have a big mess! Two Roma tomatoes finely diced and a little bit of red onion diced. Put all of these ingredients in a large bowl with the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and tossed to mix up. 

I’ve been packing up all my food in single serving sized containers so that I can just grab them and throw them in my lunch bag so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking during the busy work week!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Have you experimented with making it more vegetarian friendly? Post your comments below!





Magnificent Menus (it’s what’s for dinner this week…)

29 01 2012

I recently received a new cookbook – ‘Thrive Foods’ by Brandon Brazier.  He is a professional Ironman Triathlete who has developed the Vega Optimized Meal Replacement that I have been using for quite some time now. It uses non-animal based protein sources and adds in everything from your daily multivitamin, complete set of essential amino acids, berry complex, chlorella, etc. all in an alkaline base to allow your body to absorb the nutrients more fully. Since taking it, my skin has become softer, my nails have grown stronger and I just feel much better.

I figured he must be “on” to something and so today I attempted a few of the recipes in his cookbook. I’ve been trying to spend some time on the weekend to prep all my vegetables and fruits for the week and pack everything up in single servings so that I can grab and go during the week.

Clockwise from the top we have roasted asparagus and Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower “Rice,” Red Lentil Patties, assorted fresh berries, Summer Succotash with Garlic Rosemary Sauce. All of these dishes are Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and full of freshness and flavor.

The easiest of all was the Cauliflower “Rice” – shredded cauliflower (about 2/3of a medium sized head of cauliflower using a medium sized grater) is put in a bowl and tossed with a couple teaspoons of curry powder and some sea salt. It’s then fried in a skillet for about 5 minutes with a little bit of melted coconut oil. It tastes wonderful, and makes a great mock grain to go with the homemade lentil patties! Brendan has done well with that one!

What are your favorite veggies dishes? Post in the comments section below. If you want any of the recipes, you can post that in the comments section as well.

I think I’m going to enjoy this book!





Random Acts of Kindness

19 11 2011

Will you help me? I received some really negative news a number of years ago around my birthday. Because of the timing, I was reminded every year when my special day rolled around. In an effort to break that cycle, I decided to try and make my birthday stand for something positive instead. That’s when the idea of “Random Act of Kindness” (RAK it Up!) was born!

What would if we were to start sending our waves of joy into the world by performing simple acts of kindness for one another? What if you were able to reach out and touch someone who is hurting and offer a moment of joy or hope?

My family and friends have been doing this for a number of years now. I ask that they take what they would have spent on a gift and do something nice for someone else. They come up with the best ideas! It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic or involved. Some ideas of things people have done for me over the years:

•Leave flowers on a neighbor’s doorstep

•Visit with residents at a senior living facility

•Guess my weight in pounds and then donate that many pounds of rice to a food pantry (I weighed 300 pounds that year-at least that’s what I told her!)

•Take old blankets and food to an animal shelter

•Make a donation to your favorite charity

•Take a homeless person to lunch

•In a drive through, pay for the order of the person behind you

•Hold open a door for a stranger

•Volunteer to serve holiday meals a shelter

This year it’s time to go big! What would happen if we started a wave of kindness in our communities this holiday season? I challenge you to share this event with all your friends! Get your kids involved! If people ask why you’re doing this, tell them it’s a random act of kindness and ask them to pass it along! Give back in gratitude for the many blessings you have. I promise, you’ll be better off for it! Post and let us know what you did! Your idea might inspire someone else! And thanks for helping me celebrate my day in a positive way! RAK it Up!

Join us on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/195149570566610/   Please feel free to share this with your friends!

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them” (Matthew 7:12a MSG).





Canine Canophilia

31 10 2011

Happy Birthday, Sadie!  Today you’ve been with me for two years. I saw your picture on Petfinder and with a little encouragement from a friend; I dared to make the long trek to Clovis Animal Shelter to get you. I called the day before to make sure you were still there. “Oh, she’ll still be here” was the reply. I didn’t really get what that meant until I got there. You wouldn’t let me pet you but there was a dear volunteer at the shelter that sat with me for hours and gave me some ideas on how to best work with you. I didn’t realize what I was doing at the time, I just knew there was something about you.

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After I took care of the paperwork, there were four shelter volunteers and one regular customer crying because they were so happy that someone was finally adopting you. It was only then that they shared that their boss was going to make them put you down that week if no one came for you. You had been there over 3 months and because you were so severely shy, no one noticed you. They told me they had all been praying that someone would come to get you, someone without a man in the house since you were especially terrified of any male, someone without kids, because they knew you would do best in a quiet environment. It was only then I knew why I had been prompted to travel so far to get you.

And so we started the journey. Little did I know that God would you use you to teach me so many things. Dog is God spelled backwards, after all. If nothing else, you are a reminder of his unconditional love. I remember how long it took to get you out of the car that night and you found your spot in the guest room between the two beds and you nestled in and didn’t come out for four days. I have never seen a dog able to curl their tail so tightly, but I guess it’s your way of protecting yourself from all the crazy stuff you’ve been through.

You’re a quirky girl that is nocturnal. We’ve had countless episodes but it’s so hard to correct you, because you always wait for me to go to sleep before beginning your antics so I never catch you in the act! The list is countless, but you’ve demonstrated a fondness for leather destruction (2 Coach handbags, 2 leather collars, work gloves), my shoes, friend’s shoes, coffee table books, empty dog food cans, BBQ scrubbers (from the neighbor’s house, yes, that means a corresponding hole in the fence), and a number of various and sundry things, basically everything except toys. You wouldn’t eat, drink, or relieve yourself in front of me and you were silent. We’ve gotten over most of those hurdles, though you are still my quiet little girl. I remember the first time your tail started wagging! I know I freaked you out because I was so excited. Sorry about that! You finally let me hear your voice for the first time a few months ago. You have even started running to me when I get home. That makes my heart smile because I know it’s so hard for you. At first you couldn’t be near me, but now you follow me everywhere. You are awesome on the leash and you love to walk and hike.  

In time, people would come to notice the parallels in our two lives; our mutual love of walking, disappointments in past relationships, quiet natures, shyness, hiding from unfamiliar circumstances, etc. It’s as if God was using you to point out things I needed to work on and heal from. Things we oddly ended up working on together.

That first week, you needed some physical attention. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to the local Petco to pick up supplies and saw the grooming salon. I went in and the girls were so kind to offer to work with you late in the day when there were no other animals in the salon. They took such good care of you. They could see the look in your eyes and they went above and beyond to help you.

You were used as a momma breeder dog in a puppy mill situation. You still have your kennel number tattooed on your belly. How many babies did you have? Were you sad when they were taken away from you? So many questions I’ll never have answers for. You were given to a family that neglected you. You still have the scars on your body to prove it. You found your way to the animal shelter and into my home and heart. It took you so long to trust me, but somewhere along the line you got my heart. Not long after getting you, you had a master cell tumor removed, but the margins were clear so we got past that hurdle. Then just a few months ago, the groomers told me they found a lump on you when I came to pick you up.

The groomers were so precious to us; they knew how upset I was with your diagnosis. They took a picture of you, loved you, and gave me a precious card and keychain so that I could always have you with me. We went with a dear friend who is an Veterinary Technician to an Oncologist, Veterinary Cancer Group in Tustin, CA. She thought of all the questions I was unable to ask. Dr. Vancil told us that you had systemic lymphoma, stage IV, with liver and spleen involvement. You were given weeks to live.

We started treatment and you responded well, in fact, your palpable lumps were gone within a couple of weeks of the start of treatment. By week three you were officially declared in remission, though we completed the full course of weekly treatments. Your swelling is gone! You amaze me. Despite being poked with needles every time we go to the clinic, you are still happy to get in the car. It’s like you know they are helping you and you seem somehow grateful. You somehow relaxed even more. Your attitude has brightened just that much more.

I don’t know what the future holds for either one of us, but I do know that even though you are “just a dog” you’ve taught me so many lessons in the past two years.

Wisdom from Sadie

Trust is earned – Day by day.

No matter what life throws at you, be sweet – Beaten up, battered, neglected, no problem. Always be sweet in spirit.

People are inherently kind – People see something in Sadie’s eyes that makes them go out of their way to be kind to her. She has served to restore my faith in people.

Home is a sanctuary – And your bed can be an oasis. I don’t know if it’s because she’s lived so much of her life in a cage, but she snuggles in and bundles up. I love that about her.

Don’t lash out at others – She’s demonstrated the ability to pierce cans with her teeth, and yet she never lashes out at humans or other dogs, even when she’s scared or frustrated.

Live life one moment at a time – Focus on the moment your in, don’t live in the past or the future. Just enjoy the present!

Show off your skills quietly – She’s the best at walking on a lead. She’s definitely been trained, but she never shows off ostentatiously, she lets people figure out on their own just how awesome she is.

Don’t be greedy – When someone offers you a special treat, accept it with gratitude, but don’t snap it up or take more than your share. Always take it respectfully.

You are a special girl, Sadie. My special girl. And I’m so glad you’re with me. Happy birthday, girlie!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

 





Green Goo Goblin Stew

29 10 2011

No boos for you!Ohhhh my lordie! Is this ever good! No boos around the dinner table for you (if you can get past the whole green thing)!! Your friends will be positively green with envy at your culinary skills! Ramp up the scary and put some roasted fingerling potatoes in the bowl before serving! They look just like scary fingers emerging from the goo!

Seriously, this is a fun stew that tastes similar to a Thai green chili base. It is so flavorful. I got the recipe when I attended a recent cooking demonstration at Native Foods given by Chef Tanya Petrovna. She shows you how to have fun and flavor that is beyond measure. One of my favorite restaurants! I haven’t had much experience with Thai cooking and I was surprised at how easy it was to recreate those flavors at home with her recipe. Soul satisfying green goo!

Try to use organic products wherever you can. Be good to you.

 Ingredients for Paste:

1 Tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

½ teaspoon whole black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1-2 jalapeno, chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

3 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, finely chopped

2 green onions, chopped

2 Tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger (about a 2” piece)

Zest from two limes

2 Tablespoons lime juice

 

Ingredients for Goo Stew:

1 cup chopped spinach

2 cans coconut milk (I use light, just make sure there is no sugar in the one you buy)

1 cup water

1 zucchini, medium, sliced in ¼” half moons

¼ pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces

12 ounce package firm tofu, drained and sliced into ¼“ chunks

1 ½ cups whole cashews (raw, unsalted)

¼ maple syrups (use the real deal, no Aunt Jemima here!)

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper

1 cup fresh basil (for garnish)

Lime wedges (for garnish)

 

First, make the green goo paste:

In a small skillet (no oil) hit the coriander, cumin and whole black pepper to toast slightly.

Grind the freshly roasted spices with a mortar and pestle (get creative with a meat tenderizer or something if you don’t have a mortar/pestle).

Add the salt, jalapenos, cilantro, lemongrass, green onions, ginger, lime juice, zest and continue to mash the mix with the mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste. Set aside.  This makes enough paste for a couple of batches of the stew. You can freeze half of the paste for use another day.

 Turn the paste into a stew:

In a blender put in 6 Tablespoons of the paste, 1 cup chopped spinach, and one can of the coconut milk and puree.

In a stock pot, pour in the spinach coconut milk puree, the second can of coconut milks, water, zucchini, green beans, tofu, and cashews and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup, soy sauce, and sea salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.

I pureed a few cups of the goo, then added it back to the pot to thicken it up a bit.

Serve over a little rice or pasta and garnish with fresh basil and lime wedges…..and maybe those roasted fingerling potato “fingers”……Boo!  

Get creative! Any green veggies will do in the goo!

 

This recipe isn’t available in Tanya’s book, but she’s got lots of other great, healthy options. It’s available from:  Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook

Try one of Tanya’s restaurants:  www.nativefoods.com  





Bread is not Boring!

9 10 2011

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.” John 6:47-48   

I had an epiphany while working through my Bible study today that I would love to share with you. It involved bread. It’s always good to study around food, no? It’s probably why I paid attention in the first place…..

There is significance to bread in Scripture. It was used as a staple for nutrition. It was also used as an offering to God in the Old Testament.

In the case of David, we know that when he fled from Saul, he ran to Nod and visited Ahimelech who was fearful of David because he knew of David’s conquest over Goliath. David told him a lie that he was “on a secret mission” for Saul and asked for something to eat.

“Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here–provided the men have kept themselves from women. David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s things are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.” 1 Samuel 21:3-6

During the time of David, bread was offered to God as a way to remind God of the covenant that he made with his people (Israel). This is the “Shewbread” that we see in Scripture. It was placed on the altar, and it was 12 loaves of what is thought to be unleavened bread. It was replaced with fresh bread each Sabbath.  

David was given bread that had been offered to God. There is some meaning to this, it is a reminder to David by God of his commitment and covenant to protect him.

Jesus also used 5 loaves to feed the five thousand.

“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food. Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14: 13-21

Jesus reminded the disciples and the crowd that he alone is the provisioner of all our needs. He can and will satisfy and sustain us.

  • Five loaves fed David when he fled from Saul.
  • Five loaves fed the 5,000. 
  • Twelve loaves on the altar of the tabernacle as an offering to the Lord.
  • Twelve apostles.
  • Consecrated bread represents the presence of the Lord. It is this bread of the presence that was given to David to remind him of the promise of God.
  • Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life.
  • We use bread during the communion ritual as a reminder of Christ’s body.

In the Old Testament bread is used to symbolize things beyond the obvious of nutrition; the presence of God, unity among a group, wisdom. In the New Testament, bread represents Christ himself, unity of his Kingdom and the Church.

When Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life, he is telling us in short that he is the embodied presence of God. He is wisdom, and unity, and the ultimate nutrition. He alone can satisfy your needs.

Doesn’t that just stir your soul to no end? I hope so! Bread, indeed, is not boring! Grasp at your bread hungrily and greedily….and maybe dip it in a little olive oil and vinegar with some cracked pepper as you do! May it become a reminder of who your Maker is and what promises he has made to us each and every time you have your daily bread.

Reference:

David: Seeking a Heart Like His  (Beth
Moore)

Holman Bible Dictionary 








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