Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easy Sprouting

Let's do a simple DIY kitchen project today. It's super quick, cheap, requires very little materials and the final product is both tasty AND nutritious. It's sprouts!

There are several ways to sprout a small batch at home. I'm going to tell you the method first and then we'll talk about how to make it happen. The greatest thing about this project is that in 4-7 days you will have sprouts- for sandwiches, salads, stir fries and snacking!

The Method for Sprouting:

Basically you want to soak your sprouts for a few hours to start them out. Then once a day or so you need to rinse and then thoroughly drain them. That's it! They sit on the counter and breathe through a screen or cheesecloth during the days and when they are done (they look green and grown) transfer them to a fresh container and keep in the fridge. They will stay for a week or so, just like small lettuces. Simple! (Here is an alternate method I recently stumbled across that looks just as simple!)

How I Sprout:

I put 1-2 Tablespoons of sprouts in a pint sized mason jar fitted with a metal mesh sprouting screen (you can also use a plastic sprouting lid or cheesecloth), fill with water and let sit for 3-6 hours. The I drain it thoroughly by pouring the water out and letting the jar sit upside down on top of a mason jar ring (the idea here is to allow some space under the lid to allow excess water to drain away from the jar). I let it drain upside down anywhere from 15 min to several hours. Then once a day, usually in the morning, I fill up the jar with water, swish it around, and drain it off again in the same way. The jar stays on the counter where it can get a little natural light. After 4-7 days the sprouts are usually done. You can tell when they are green and look like fresh sprouts. Give them a try- they should taste grassy and crisp! If they ever seem slimy or smell sour, toss them out and start again. 

I've sprouted alfalfa (the easiest and one of the tastiest), broccoli seeds, lentils, mung beans, radish seeds, and mixes. Each has a different flavor, texture and look. The picture below has a few more days to go until the seeds are fully sprouted.

It's a satisfying and easy project and you should give it a try!

Friday, March 13, 2015

In the kitchen lately

I've been getting back into the habit of really cooking lately - seems I decided to take a break from the joys of being in the kitchen getting my hands dirty for the past year or so and I missed it! Plus our health has missed it too and it was high time to get back to a routine of home cooking.

I don't have photos for many of these recipes (since I stopped blogging I've been taking less food photos). But click on the links and you can see what I'm talking about. 

What I've been up to in the kitchen lately:  

Pioneer Woman's Waffles

Waffles! Yes. I caved in and bought a cheap waffle maker. And ... Worth it. So fun to make waffles and surprisingly tastier than pancakes for someone like me who likes the crunchy bits. We've tried a few recipes but this one takes the cake.

I was a little concerned that the egg separation business would be too titchy and I was being lazy avoiding recipes like this for awhile but really it's not bad at all. A hand mixer does the job in a minute and the batter is therefore so light and fluffy - it's actually so delicious I was licking the spatula. So give these waffles a try!

I'm obsessed with this recipe. Again, I've also avoided stuffed shells because it was too many steps in my brain (par boil the shells, make the sauce, stuff, bake, ugh!) but again (surprise!) I was wrong. It didn't take very long at all to make because you can make the sauce and cook the shells at the same time and the filling takes about 2 min. Stuffing's not bad either and the final product is delicious. This sauce is so good- it has a healthy amount of red pepper flakes (of course if you don't like a kick you could cut them down) and olive oil- that I will be using it again for all sorts of things (eggs in purgatory is on the menu this week). 

THIS chocolate chip cookie recipe from Slate

I have tried dozens of ccc recipes (see! too Lazy to write out chocolate chip cookies!) and I'm about ready to say this one is the best (unless you want to talk whole wheat chocolate chip cookies which are a different beast in which case THIS one is the best). Two things- all brown sugar and extra vanilla- are key, and if you aren't eating the dough straight, a long rest in the fridge is an excellent idea (though I recently made a giant skillet cookie with this dough and did not rest it at all. Still awesome). 

One last recommendation: do use dark chocolate and shave it thin. I used Trader Joe's pound plus block in dark (70%) and shaved thin (no chunks!) is perfect. But again- lazy! So do use what you have on hand. Here's the dough from the other day:

And that's that for now~ Happy cooking!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Product Love

It's been awhile, but I'm just going to jump right back into this whole blogging thing! We're going to ease in with a simple list (my virgo heart leaps). These are all products I own and love.

I hopped onto the delivery box bandwagon last year and tried out a few, but the one I really love the most is Petit Vour. For $15 a month you get a box filled with cruelty-free luxury goodies. Many of my favorite new products in the last year have been petit vour discoveries! So here we go:

Modern Minerals Eye Shadow

I have two shades: Lola and En Pointe, and they are both lovely on their own or with a darker accent. Also the price point is great for mineral shadow, at $12.50 a piece!

Pelle Beauty Balance Facial Oil

I have tried many facial oils over the past several years and this is one of the best I've tried. They offer several blends and while a bit pricier than your average drug store moisturizer, we're grown-ups now, and spending $29 on hand-crafted fantastic ingredients (all natural, no junk!) is worth it for your face.

Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream

This is the one I am most excited about! I have been making my own deodorant for the past 3 years and love it. Love how it makes me smell and keeps the sweat at bay, love the short ingredient list and the way I can customize it. I have tried several natural brands and none have cut the mustard. But then. I got a sample of this stuff in my box. Oh man, it's great. Great!! The best you can buy in my opinion. If I never make my own deodorant again it will be okay because I have my Meow Meow Tweet!

Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion

I discovered this company over the summer and was floored by the amazing scents and luxurious feel of all the products I've tried. The story is quite moving too, with the origins dating back to the founder's grandmother selling Shea Butter in her African village. This is my everyday post shower lotion. It has an intoxicating smell that is not overpowering and doesn't smell "perfume-y" because it comes from flower essences and essential oils.

Nubian Heritage Mango Butter Hand Cream

A sister company to Shea Moisture, the Nubian Heritage brand has the same all natural ingredients and an array of different formulas and products. I recently picked this hand cream up and it is perfect. It is thick-- excellent for my dry teacher hands. It has a crisp citrus scent which doesn't overpower. Sometimes a hand cream can be oily or extremely smelly and make it impractical for on the go application. Not so with this stuff. My new favorite!

Mineralixirs Facial Cleansing Oil

I've been a Bare Minerals fan for many years-- they are my favorite makeup company and across the board their products are great. Some I like more than others, but overall they are a safe bet and I pretty much try it all! This is their best cleanser I have used. It removes make up like a charm. Because it's oil-based, it takes a bit longer to cleanse in the evenings, but I am loving the spa ritual. It ends up not even taking all that long because I don't have to go back and re-remove my eye makeup :) Basically, you warm a few pumps of cleanser in your palms and pat it on your dry face. Then add a bit of warm water to your hands and rub together emulsifying the cleanser while you massage your face. Rinse with warm water and you are good to go! Depending on your skin type you may not even need to moisturize afterwards.

and lastly.... glassybaby. Because if you know me, you know I believe you can never have too many and they make perfect gifts. I am swooning over this one, called birthday suit :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vegan Banana Blueberry Lactation Muffins

Clearly there is a trend going on here! Since staying in Seattle for my sister's birth, I have been trying to help her out in as many ways as possible. One major way is cooking for her and her family, and one thing every new mother needs is energy! These hearty muffins are packed with energy giving nutrients, they are vegan, have good fat, no refined sugar and can easily be made gluten free.

They are also (almost) endlessly adaptable! For example, you can use up to 5 cups of oats and only 1 cup of flour for a much denser, "baked oatmeal" type of muffin. Leave out the brewer's yeast if you don't have it on hand (if you aren't specifically using these for milk production that is, if you are making the muffins to boost your system do leave the yeast in. Read this post for info!). You can vary the fruit from blueberries to any other berry, dried fruit or omit all together. They'd be delightful with some chopped nuts folded in and/or some nuts, oats, or sugar sprinkled on top. Add in some shredded unsweetened coconut, omit the banana and add an extra cup of applesauce... you get the picture!

Vegan Banana Blueberry Lactation Muffins
adapted from Knocked Up - Knocked Over

3 c. oats (1 c. blended into oat flour)
3 c. flour (can be gluten-free, whole wheat or unbleached all purpose- I used a mix of all three)
1/3 c. flax seed meal
1/3 c. brewer's yeast/nutritional yeast
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 T. cinnamon
1 banana, mashed
2 c. applesauce
3/4 c. oil (olive or coconut melted is best, I used canola)
3/4 c. maple syrup, agave or honey (to taste)
2 t. vanilla
2 c. coconut milk + 1 T. vinegar (or any alt milk)
1-2 c. blueberries (tossed with a bit of the flour to help them not sink to the bottom of the muffins)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk oats, flour, flax seed meal, yeast, baking soda, baking powder, salt + cinnamon in a large bowl.

Whisk (or blend in batches!) banana, applesauce, oil, maple syrup, vanilla + coconut milk in a medium bowl.

Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until almost incorporated. Fold in blueberries. Fill sprayed muffin tins and bake for ~20 minutes. Enjoy! This recipe makes 2 dozen, and extras can be easily frozen (if you can't eat them quick enough!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vegan Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

It's been awhile! Many things going on, but most importantly, I became an Aunt again! My sister just gave birth early yesterday (was it really only a day ago?) morning to her first son, Dash. He arrived before expected and needs some TLC at the hospital still, but is doing well and they are eager to bring him home when he's ready. She was a rockstar, did the whole thing sans pain medication, and I was privileged to witness the birth. So amazing.

I decided to make my sister some muffins to help with lactation as well as help keep her energy up for a snack throughout the day, and of course I wanted some too. I needed to use what she already had in her entirely non-vegan kitchen. That means no flax seed meal, no coconut oil, no special flours or organic sugar. Oh, and it helps if a two year old can help easily (Thanks Eleanor!) Enter Vegan Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins! Oats are great for nursing mamas, and these also have no refined sugar, no dairy, whole wheat flour and are made with simple pantry ingredients. A win for everyone.

the finished product
using totally fresh nutmeg- I had to crack open the shell and everything!

Vegan Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
adapted from Jamessina

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon 
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 c. oil (I used oil, melted coconut oil would be excellent)
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened

*1/4 c. brewer's yeast or nutritional yeast (optional)
*1/4 c. flax seed meal (optional)

*Brewer's yeast, flaxseed meal and oats are the perfect trifecta for nursing moms! The first time I made these muffins without the optional yeast + flaxseed, but they are great either way. Also I did a lot of research into the difference between brewer's yeast and nutritional yeast for this recipe, and found that they both seem to be excellent for you. I could not locate brewer's yeast in the small time allotted to me for shopping before getting back to my sister's house to help babysit, so I used nutritional yeast. The main difference is that only brewer's yeast contains chromium/selenium, while only nutritional yeast contains vitamin B12. Definitely do your own research though.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk wet ingredients in a small bowl. Add wet to dry, stir only until incorporated. Bake in a sprayed muffin tin for 15 min. Done! Easy vegan muffins that will satisfy anyone. Delicious with jam

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Vegan Links

It has been just about 3 months since I last posted, and for good reason. After several years of un and underemployment I got a full time teaching job! I am so excited about it, it's a great progressive preschool with a fantastic small staff and lots of possibility. But given that big life change, I haven't had the energy to blog or do much else besides work and rest. So with that in mind, I have a quick post today with links to some amazing Holiday appropriate recipes that we made over Thanksgiving.

I had Thanksgiving with my in-laws and at our table we had omnivores, vegans, folks eating gluten-free and some wanting to avoid sugar. We all compromised a bit and came up with a fantastic menu that was almost vegan, often gluten-free, low in sugar and all delicious! A friend came last minute with severe Celiac disease (we're talking weeks of pain with a single bite of anything glutinous) and he was able to eat a full plate of food. It made my heart feel so good to be able to meet his dietary needs without even trying. And heck, if we had known we could have de-glutenized the whole meal!

Here are some highlights:

Sweet potato & pecan cinnamon rolls, pre-rise

Sweet Potato and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls- For breakfast! I actually used canned pumpkin because we forgot to cook the sweet potatoes in time, but either way they were delicious :)

Tofu Pot Pie filling 
Vegan Tofu Pot Pie- Delicious, hearty and filling, I find this recipe equally appropriate for the holidays or a weekend meal. We added some mushrooms cooked in red wine to add richness and depth, as well.

Amazing crudite spread~ veggies, homemade hummus, gluten-free chips
Sweet Potato Casserole- A vegan version of a staple in our house for the last 13 years. I have to say, I didn't miss the eggs and cream one bit!

The whole meal, Norman Rockwell style
Cranberry Relish with dried cherries, jam, vinegar and Grand Marnier- A few more ingredients than the homemade cranberry sauce I've done in the past, but WAY more flavor. This sauce is so so good and got a lot of compliments. It is also versatile and easy to modify. We used rum for our alcohol and mixed berry jam with apple cider vinegar instead of raspberry vinegar. Also, I completely got ahead of myself and added all the ingredients at once instead of in the cooking order the recipe called for. Still worked just fine.

Tequila, thanksgiving style, cause this is how we roll in the kitchen :)
Chocolate Agave Cream Pie- Oh my. This is possibly the best chocolate pie I've ever had. Very rich and dense. I made it with only 1 box of silken tofu because we ran out which gave a denser feel to it, next time I may try following the recipe exactly for a lighter texture, but honestly this was incredible and I made it again a week later (with just 1 box of tofu) for my husband's birthday.

Gluten free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Pecan Crust, Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie and  Chocolate Agave Cream Pie (from bottom left)
Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Coconut-Pecan Crust- This was the best pumpkin pie I've ever had. And we didn't even make the praline topping! Next time I'd reduce the cinnamon in the crust, but only because I'm a little sensitive to cinnamon.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie- Another winner! The only thing I'd change is omitting the banana and using extra pumpkin and extra sweetener to compensate (I'm not a fan of cooked banana). The texture was brilliant and it was an absolute beauty.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
There you have it! Go, cook, enjoy and hug your loved ones :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Apple Cherry Crisp: sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan

I whipped this out quickly on Sunday for a little get together with some in from out of town friends. Bonus: one of them is a new vegan, too, so we had lots to chat about! I love the challenge of making recipes with less or no sugar, if only to see if they'll turn out. This definitely did work out, it definitely tastes "wholesome" and you actually taste the fruit rather than all the sugar. That's fine with me. Another Bonus: that means I can eat it for breakfast. Huzzah.

evidence of crisp as breakfast food
I had a brainstorm while making this about my grandma's peach cobbler and if I could veganize it and take out all or some of the sugar. So that is definitely in the works!

Apple Cherry Crisp: easily vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free
heavily adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

3 large apples, peeled and sliced*
1 pint cherry preserves (choose any jam flavor you like, can be sugar-free)
juice of 1 lemon (~2 T.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 T. cornstarch (or arrowroot)

*I originally chopped the apples on the chunky side and left the peel on, in the future I will peel and slice as I think it will have a better overall tooth-feel. Although certainly do what feels good to your taste!

Crisp Topping:
1 c. flour (I used barley flour, can easily use gluten-free)
1 c. oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. oil (healthy oil such as light olive oil, sunflower or coconut)
1 tsp.vanilla
2-4 T. maple syrup, honey or agave to taste

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine fruit filling ingredients in a large bowl, set aside. Preferably set this mixture aside for an hour to macerate and get the juices flowing, although not necessary.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add oil, vanilla and sweetener and stir until combined.

In an 8x8 pan add fruit mixture and cover with the topping mixture. Bake for ~45 minutes. Serve with vegan ice cream or coconut whipped cream.

before popping in the oven