Thursday, December 30, 2010

NEW True Food Shoppers' Guide

Here's a helpful guide I found that you might like: The True Food Shoppers' Guide to Avoiding GMOs--just updated for 2011. Go HERE to download a free PDF and there are also instructions to getting it as an APP for your iPhone or Android.

Here's a small excerpt:


Other than corn, no GM grains are sold on the market. Look for 100-percent wheat pasta, couscous, rice, quinoa, oats, barley, sorghum, and dried beans (except soybeans).


Bob's Red Mill, organic line
Casbah (Hain-Celestial)
Dr. McDougall's Right Foods
Eden certified organic grains
Fantastic Foods
Field Day
Ian's Natural Foods
Lotus Foods
Lundberg Family Farms
Organic Planet
Rising Moon
Seeds of Change (organic meals)
Sunridge Farms
Trader Joe's store brand
Vita-Spelt pasta
Whole Foods 365

May Contain GMO Ingredients

Betty Crocker meals (General Mills)
Knorr (Unilever)
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese meals
Near East (Quaker Oats Company / Pepsico)
Pasta Roni and Rice-A-Roni meals (Quaker Oats Company/Pepsico)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies

These are a combination of my favorite cookies and boy are they good. They keep well too -- store in a covered tin and they'll keep for a week or more (if they last). They freeze well too.

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon nondairy milk (rice, almond, soy, etc.)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry or unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 cup nondairy chocolate chips
1/4 cup natural granulated sugar (for rolling)

In a large bowl, beat margarine and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and water. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, and spices. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate ships. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until you are ready to bake.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are firm and tops begin to crack. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ginger Pear Cake

Had some pears, some ginger, and came up with this treat that was a big hit with the family. I think it would be yummy with apples, peaches or plums too . . .

Ginger Pear Cake
This European style cake is spiced up with chunks of ginger and topped with pear slices. Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream (or dairy-free alternative below) if desired.

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, melted
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 pear, cut into thin slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8-inch cake pan. Sift the flour and ground ginger together. Stir in the sugar and crystallized ginger. Add the beaten egg and melted butter. Stir just until combined. Press batter into the prepared cake pan. Arrange the pear slices in a spiral on the cake and press them gently into the batter. Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and middle is set. Cool before serving.

Makes 8 servings

The following dairy-free whipped topping is from Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.

Whipped Cashew Cream
Makes 2 cups
Cashews are amazingly creamy and make a wonderful, thick topping similar to whipped cream.

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the cashews in a blender and grind them into a powder. Add the rice milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and process until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until cold and firm.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homemade Holiday Gifts

This year the girls made beauty baskets for their friends. Homemade lavender-orange hand cream made from almond and coconut oil; body mists in a variety of flavors like tangerine-clove, rosemary-lemon, geranium-orange (just water and essential oils which they call "perfume"; and wintergreen lip balm. Very fun gifts that are fairly easy to make. They decorated lunch bags to put their beauty products in.

We also made a bunch of Millet-Crunch Granola using the recipe from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. I made 4 batches (2 at a time) to make 10 gift bags.

Here's the recipe:

Millet Crunch Granola
This healthy granola makes a great topping for fruit or yogurt. You can even eat it alone for a crunchy snack.

2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup uncooked millet
1/3 cup honey, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 250ºF. Place rolled oats and millet on baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour. In small pan, melt sweetener, tahini, and water together over low heat. In large bowl, toss oats, millet, and seeds with tahini mixture until completely coated. Spread on unoiled baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Stir once or twice during baking. Cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Makes 8 servings

Variation: Add 1/2 to 1 cup dried fruit to cooked granola and store as directed. Do not bake fruit.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Caryn Hartglass It's All About Food

I was on the radio show It's All About Food on November 24. We had a great discussion about eating whole foods, nutrition for kids and families and a whole bunch of other things related to eating more healthfully. If you're interested, you can listen or download the podcast here.

Check out this post for books that promote healthful eating.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Borders gives $15 gift cards for public schools with any purchase

Stop by any Borders bookstore Saturday, Dec. 4th or Sunday, Dec. 5th and get a free $15 gift card for to donate to the public school of your choice. Even if you prefer to buy your books from independent book stores, you can still stop by and get a cup of coffee or a bagel and get the gift card.

If you don't have a favorite school registered in the DonorsChoose program, please donate your $15 card to Nipomo Elementary School. We have so many low-income and English second language kids and for many, the school library is the only place they have access to books. Due to budget cuts, the library is getting no money at all to purchase materials . . . these 500 book-loving students would really appreciate your help.

Note: if you don't see the projects to donate, it's because I just set them up last night. They should be available by the end of next week . . . so hold on to your gift card :)

Happy December.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


My daughter made the most delicious sandwiches with our Thanksgiving leftovers . . . tofurkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, lettuce and mayo sandwiches--with a side of roasted butternut squash!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tofurky Vegetarian Feast

The Tofurky people were nice enough to let me try their new Tofurky Vegetarian Feast, which is 100% vegan, cooks in about an hour and a half, and serves six. The feast contains:

- One Tofurky® Roast (made with organic non-genetically engineered soybeans) - now 20% larger
- Savory Giblet Gravy
- Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Bread Crumb Stuffing
- Tofurky® Jurky Wishstix
- New ! Organic Chocolate Cake from Amy's Kitchen
- Happy Tofurky Day card & coupons

Here's our review:

Everybody liked the Tofurky® Roast. I made the basting sauce as directed from olive oil, soy sauce, and fresh herbs and added chopped onions. My casserole dish wasn't big enough to close tightly over the roast so I lined it with parchment paper and foil and sealed it tightly. It came out moist and tasty. The middle of the roast contained stuffing, but it was not enough for my family--especially not for my husband. If you have a stuffing-loving family, you might want to make your own batch on the side. The gravy was delicious and there was enough to put over the roast and our mashed potatoes. We also had roasted butternut squash, veggies, and homemade applesauce, and cranberry sauce for a wonderful feast that everyone raved over.

For dessert, the feast included Amy's Chocolate Cake which was rich, chocolatey and moist, and the right amount for six people (since we are 4, we had 2 servings left over). I served it with homemade coconut ice cream from Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.

The box also contained Tofurky Jurky but I'm sorry to say, none of us liked it at all--at least none of the humans. Our dogs LOVED it and were begging for more.

Stay tuned for leftovers . . .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Books to promote healthy eating

I was on Caryn Hartglass's It's All About Food radio show today talking about helping kids and families to eat more healthfully. She asked me about my job as a library technician at an elementary school library. She wanted to know what books would I recommend to promote healthful eating . Well, the first one that popped into my head was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess--I like the message of not being afraid to try to new foods. Later, as I thought over the show, it hit me that encouringing kids to eat green eggs and ham might have offended listeners who were most likely vegetarian or vegan. I was thinking though . . . since the ham is green, perhaps it's veggie ham???? Anyway, while I stand by the message of encouraging kids to try new foods in that book, here are some more veg-friendly titles you might want to try with your kids:

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmot (not vegetarian but still a good one)
To Market, To Market by Anne MIranda (one of my favorites . . . funny, promotes whole foods and not eating animals)
Making Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert
Grow It, Cook It by Jill Bloomfield
Eat Healthy, Feel Great by William Sears

And for kids' cookbooks, we love Mollie Katzen's books like Honest Pretzels, etc.

I'm sure there are lots more out there, but here are a few off the top of my head. Feel free to comment with other suggestions.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

I wanted to bake something for my writers' group, but make enough that my family would have a treat too so I came up with this pumkin bread recipe that makes two loaves. Perfect! One for my group and one to leave home. It's not too sweet--we liked it with butter or cream cheese (dairy or nondairy versions). This would be great with soup for dinner . . . unfortunately, I don't think there'll be any left by then.

Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup natural granulated sugar
2/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumkin pie spice
1/2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans.

In large mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, sugars, oil, vanilla, and eggs until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together flours, baking soda, salt and spice. Pour flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Still gently just until flour is mixed in. Fold in nuts.

Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Carefully remove loaves from pan. Cool on a rack for 1 hour before slicing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Happy Haulidays with Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books is holding a contest where you can win $500 worth of their books. To enter, you can post a list of books you'd like to win on your blog . . . . or simply comment on this post to be entered in the drawing. Get the details here. Last day to submit entries is December 10th. Winners will be announced on December 13th. GOOD LUCK!

This is my wish list:

Of course I have to start with cookbooks (and they have a great selection--I own several already and love them!)

D.I.Y. Delicious Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington
Fast, Fresh & Green: More Than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers By Susie Middleton
Anna Getty's Easy Green Organic: Cook Well-Eat Well-Live Well by Anna Getty
New Vegetarian by Robin Asbell
The New Whole Grains Cookbook by Robin Asbell
Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht
Luscious Chocolate Desserts by Lori Longbotham

Art and Craft Books

Amy Butler's In Stitches More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects By Amy Butler
Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing Patterns and How-To for 24 Fresh and Easy Projects by Lotta Jansdotter
Knitting Pretty Simple Instructions for 30 Fabulous Projects by Kris Percival
Mastering the Art of Beading by Genevieve A. Sterbenz
Squiggles A Really Giant Drawing and Painting Book by Taro Gomi

Fiction (Cause I just plain LOVE to read)

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal $16.99 (We keep checking this out of the library--clearly we need our own copy!)
Chicken Big By Keith Graves $16.99 (Love the premise!)
Day and Night by Teddy Newton $14.99 (Another library favorite)
The Space Between Trees by katie Williams
Sparky The Life and Art of Charles Schulz by Beverly Gherman
Noonie's Masterpiece By Lisa Railsback
The Kid Who Named Pluto And the Stories of Other Extraordinary Young People in Science by Marc McCutcheon
Cats Are Weird And More Observations by Jeffrey Brown
Ivy + Bean Gift Set
Ivy + Bean Boxed Set 2
Erika's Story Creative Editions by Ruth Vander Zee

And I just can't resist this game:
Haikubes by Forrest-Pruzan Creative

Added 11/27/10: To sweeten this great deal for my wonderful readers. If you win the Chronicle Books giveaway AND you are a follower of my blog, you can get an additional prize of your choice of any one of my cookbooks (US residents only). (New followers are eligible as well as long as you are a follower on Dec. 13th when the winners are announced--so become a follower now to qualify.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Banana Molasses Muffins

With the weather getting colder, we've been enjoying lots of soup for dinners and lunches. And what goes better with soup than fresh, warm muffins!

This weekend we made a batch of Banana Molasses Muffins from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. I especially like these because they are sweetened with just three tablespoons of blackstrap molasses (for the whole batch of 12 muffins!). Blackstrap molasses is a good source of calcium and iron so it's a healthy sweetener. If there are any leftover muffins, freeze them to pack in your child's school lunch (they thaw by lunchtime.)

Banana-Molasses Muffins
Blackstrap molasses, and almonds add vitamins and minerals to these moist, flavorful muffins. To make these vegan, use nondairy yogurt and omit the egg.

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds
1 cup whole wheat, spelt, or barley flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 bananas)
1 egg (optional)
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup plain yogurt (dairy or nondairy)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly oil muffin tins. In food processor or blender, grind oats and nuts to a coarse meal. Transfer to mixing bowl and whisk in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Beat remaining ingredients together until smooth. Add to oat mixture and stir just until mixed. Pour batter into prepared tins. Bake 20 minutes, or until tops are firm to the touch.

Makes 1 dozen

Note: For quick preparation, puree liquid ingredients in food processor or blender after removing oat/nut mixture.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vegan Thanksgiving E-Cookbook

Get the e-cookbook A Bountiful Vegan Thanksgiving put together by Nava Atlas with recipes from your favorite vegetarian authors (including a few of mine!). It's a great deal at only $8.95, plus the profits will be donated to humanitarian charities concerned with hunger, microfinancing for women in developing countries, and the alleviation of human trafficking.

Click here for details.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

GE Salmon could be approved!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it will potentially approve the long-shelved AquAdvantage transgenic salmon as the first genetically engineered (GE) animal intended for human consumption. This GE Atlantic salmon is genetically engineered to produce growth hormones year-round which is supposed to make it grow at twice the normal rate.

Each year millions of farmed salmon escape from open-water net pens, outcompeting wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems. In addition, the human health impacts of eating GE fish are entirely unknown, and the scientific research that has been done is alarming. According to the Center for Food Safety, these GE farmed salmon carry with them all of the health hazards of other farmed salmon, but also may be more susceptible to disease than fish currently grown in aquaculture facilities because transgenic fish are identified as “macro-mutants” with a reduced ability to survive. Consequently, the amount of antibiotics given to transgenic fish may be higher than the amount currently given to farmed fish; already farmed salmon are given more antibiotics than any other livestock by weight, threatening the health of those who eat them and the continued efficacy of these antibiotics to treat human disease.

There is a short window of time to let the FDA know you want them to reject these GE fish, or at the very, very least label them so consumers will know what they are buying. Click on this link to tell the Food and Drug Administration not to approve GE salmon.

Rainy Day Baking

My daughter baked up a batch of Everything Cookies from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook for us (though she omitted the raisons and used extra chocolate chips). Tea, cookies, and Scrabble . . . a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

Here I am as Tacky the Penguin from the story by Helen Lester.

If you have young kids and are looking for tips to keep down the Halloween candy consumption, check out my post from last year about The Halloween Fairy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Soup that's a meal

Here's an easy soup that makes a great hearty meal for these cold fall nights (with leftovers for lunch!).

Get a 16-ounce bag of Trader Joe's 17 Bean & Barley Mix. (If you don't have a TJ's near you, I bet your grocery or natural food stores has something similar, maybe even in the bulk bin. This mixture has baby limas, black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, pinto, kidney, navy beans, etc. I put them to soak in the morning before I left for work. When I got home, I drained the bean mixture. Then I chopped an onion and in a large pot sauteed it in olive oil over low heat. Then I added the beans plus 1 1/2 quarts of water (you could also use stock). Cover, bring to a boil, and cooked for about 20 minutes. Then I added 4 carrots and 2 potatoes, diced. Cooked for about half an hour more, or until beans were tender. Then I added a large can of diced tomatoes with the juice, a cup of corn, salt, pepper, dried basil and thyme to taste. We have enough soup for a couple of meals and best of all, my family LOVED it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More butternut squash ideas

I just love winter squash . . . tonight we had butternut squash baked and then mashed with butter (or nonhydrogenated margarine for those of us dairy-free) and cinnamon. We also had baked beans, steamed peas, and the last of the tomatoes from our garden sprinkled with fresh herbs. A great fall meal that left everyone smiling.

Baked Winter Squash
This is an easy way to cook squash – no peeling or dicing is involved. It works for acorn, butternut, hubbard--whatever.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly oil a baking dish or jelly roll pan. Cut the squash(es) in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and pulp. Place cut side down on prepared pan. Add 1/8 - 1/4 inch of water to pan. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until squash is tender. Let cool slightly and scoop squash out of peel into a bowl. Season with butter or olive oil, sea salt, and spice to taste.

1 pound squash yields about 1 cup mashed squash

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Squash and White Bean Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. I made a triple batch for our staff lunch for October.

Squash and White Bean Soup

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 butternut, kabucha, or hubbard squash, peeled and cut into cubes (about 7 cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon tahini
2 cups cooked white beans
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or watercress
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

In large soup pot over medium-low heat, add onion and oil. Stir gently to spread and then cook about 15 minutes without stirring until onions are brown and caramelized. Stir in garlic. Add water or stock and squash. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes until squash is tender. Puree squash mixture in blender or food processor with spices, miso, and tahini. Add water if soup is too thick. Return to pot and stir in beans and parsley or watercress over low heat. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Garnish with roasted pumpkin or squash seeds if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When it's this hot . . .

there's only one thing worth cooking . . . or should I see freezing--ICE CREAM. Or how about this refreshing Raspberry Sorbet from Lick It! Creamy Dream Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.

Raspberry Sorbet
Makes 1 generous quart
Since I like red wine with a hint of raspberries, I thought I’d try raspberries with a hint of wine. Don’t worry if you don’t have any wine on hand; this sorbet is wonderful without it as well.

5 cups raspberries
3/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fruity red wine, such as Syrah (optional)

Combine the raspberries, agave syrup, water, and lemon juice in a blender and process until smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl, pour the blended mixture into the strainer, and press it through to remove the seeds. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until cold. Whisk in the wine, if using. Then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Note: If you use the wine, the sorbet will need to harden in the freezer for several hours, or until it reaches the desired consistency.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

GE Corn at Templeton Farmers' Market

According to the Atascadero News,the North County Farmers’ Market Association passed a new rule last November that would require any vendor selling genetically engineered produce to label the produce as such. Well, according to Jesse Arnold, a member of SLO GE-Free, he was at the Templeton Farmers' Market last Saturday (9/18/10) and genetically engineered corn was being sold--and the only label it carried was "yellow corn." (According to Arnold, the grower told him it was Monsanto BT corn.)

As a consumer, I would be very upset if I found out I'd served genetically engineered corn, which has pesticides engineered into every cell of every kernel, to my family--especially if I trusted the Farmers' Market Association to enforce their ruling.

Please contact Board Chairman Mike Broadhurst at 924-1260 or Market Manager Sandra Dimond at 748-1109 and ask them to enforce their ruling--even better, ask them to stand up against genetically-engineered produce, which is bad for our environment and bad for consumers, and keep GE products out of our farmers' markets.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

pizza problems

Tried and tried but could not get this pizza dough to get round or even square . . . still tasted good though!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I don't usually think of using my crockpot in the summer but it really is handy when I have a busy day and don't want to have to worry about dinner. Today, for example, I knew I'd be running around driving kids to parties, grocery shopping, doing laundry--all those things to get ready for another busy week of work/school. I threw the ingredients for split pea soup in the crock pot this morning and come dinner time, I'll just have to serve it. It'll be nice to have a bit of down time tonight before the week starts.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pizza almost as fast as take-out

We love pizza but takeout pizza gets pretty darn expensive and, I'm sorry to say, I don't really like it much (I'm from Boston where you get really good Italian pizza!)--but homemade can take a while and I'm not usually up for it after a busy day of work and driving the girls to after-school activities. However, thanks to Trader Joes I get the best of both worlds. Take their premade whole wheat pizza dough, a jar of marinara sauce and a bag of shredded cheese (we like the mix of mozzarella, cheddar, and jack--or the nondairy equivalent). Add some veggies and herbs from our garden, and voila . . . a quick and delicious dinner. Better yet, it's easy enough for my kids to make, while I have a cup of tea and catch up on emails!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Search for a Perfectly Ripe Cantaloupe

There is nothing worse than an underripe cantaloupe . . . or an overripe one. And for some reason, I've never been able to determine when a cantaloupe was at the perfect ripeness--so as much as I love them, I stopped buying them altogether because I was tired of being disappointed.

Believe it or not, I finally overcame my cantaloupe block and figured out how to tell when one is at the perfect ripeness for eating. It's been a couple of months now and I've gotten it right time after time so I figure it's time to share my revelation.

I had read that you should sniff your cantaloupe at the stem end and if it has an aroma, then it is ripe . . . but it's a little more complicated than that. If the melon has no smell, it is not ripe. Let it sit out for a day or two. However, don't wait until the smell is strong, by then it is overripe--that's been my problem in the past. The cantaloupe should have just a subtle, pleasant smell and that's when it's perfect.

Try it and see if this works for you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Baking

We are enjoying The Sono Baking Company Cookbook to bake up some goodies featuring fruits and veggies from our garden and farmers' market. We adapted the recipes to use whole wheat flour and a lot less sugar (the original recipes are very sweet).

Emily made the Blueberry-Nectarine Buckle (we added strawberries too). And here is my variation of the Zucchini Carrot Muffins (the original recipe was Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins, which I'm sure is delicious . . . but we loved this version).

Zucchini-Carrot Muffins
This makes 12 large muffins . . . you might want to make these as mini muffins to add to school lunches. These freeze very well.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup natural granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup oil (safflower, canola, etc.)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
3/4 - 1 cup grated zucchini (about 2 zucchini)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan. Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices. In a large mixing bowl, whisk sugars, oil, and eggs together until smooth. Stir in zucchini and carrots. Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Divide batter into the 12 muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out dry. Let cool 10 minutes. Using a table knife, gently remove muffins from tin and place on a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sea Salt Brownies

I was at someone's house and they had these little brownie bit things with sea salt from Trader Joes and they were so good I thought I'd try to recreate them. I used the brownie recipe from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook (I used whole wheat pastry flour and cut down the sugar) and then sprinkled the top with coarse sea salt. They were TO DIE FOR!!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peach Frozen Yogurt

We made a batch of peach frozen yogurt today with fresh, local peaches. We served it with Trader Joe's gluten-free ginger snaps. Yummy!

Here's the recipe from Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love:

Peach Frozen Yogurt
Makes 1 quart
Use ripe, juicy peaches and the peel will slip right off as you slice them--don't worry if you don't get it all though. It's fine to have some of the peel.

2 cups vanilla or peach yogurt (dairy or nondairy)
2 cups peeled and diced peaches
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or agave syrup, if needed

Combine the yogurt and peaches in a blender and process until smooth. Sweeten to taste, if needed. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Approval of GE Sugar Beets Rescinded

Although the USDA had previously approved Monsanto's genetically engineered sugar beets, a Northern CA federal district judge issued a ruling that prohibits future planting and sale of "Roundup Ready" beets. The court found that the USDA had approved the beets without an Environmental Impact Statement. The beets are genetically engineered to resist Monstanto's Roundup herbicide. Other Roundup Ready crops have already let to increase herbicide use, herbicide-resistant weeds, and contamination of non-genetically engineered products. For more information, check out The Center for Food Safety.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zucchini Bread

I don't know how those zucchinis manage to hide but there are always a couple that get HUGE before we notice them. Great excuse to make some zucchini bread though. Aimie made a couple of loaves yesterday using Ken Haedrich's Country Baking. The only change we made to the recipe is to use half the sugar . . . oh yeah, we didn't have any lemons so we used blood orange vinegar instead of lemon juice. They came out delicious.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our favorite summer breakfast

I love the delicious variety of fruit available right now--berries, peaches, plums, etc. When I was a kid, my mom would make big batches of muesli on hot summer days and we'd eat it all day long. My daughters love it as much as my siblings and I did. The following recipe from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook is really general . . . use whatever fruit you have available.

Summer Müesli

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy or nondairy)
2 tablespoons orange juice (optional)
1 peach or nectarine, diced
2 apricots or plums, diced
1 cup berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or chopped almonds

Mix oats, milk, and optional juice together in large bowl. Let sit while you prepare fruit. Mix in remaining ingredients. Eat immediately or refrigerate for later.

Makes 6 servings

Variation: Replace 1/2 to 1 cup milk with yogurt or kefir.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Amazing Bean Recipe

I've been so enjoying cooking this summer--actually having the time to browse cookbooks and try some new recipes. I was intrigued by a dish I found in Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking for Giant Crusty and Creamy White Beans. I didn't have the exact ingredients she called for, but I did use her idea. Below is my version. Thanks Heidi for the great idea--the beans come out crispy on the outside, but creamy on the inside. My family LOVED these and it was so easy to do.

Crispy White Beans

1 (15-ounce)can large white cannellini beans
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
sea salt
2 cups baby spinach

Empty the can of beans into a colander. Rinse well to remove all the bean juice. Let sit to drain. Meanwhile, pour olive oil into a large skillet—just enough to cover the bottom. Place over medium-high heat. Let oil heat for a minute or two until hot. Pour the beans into the skillet—be careful not to get splattered. Spread them out so that beans are in a single layer. Let the beans cook without stirring them for 4 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms are browned. Use a spatula to flip the beans. Let cook about 3 more minutes, or until browned on that side. Sprinkle the spinach over the beans. Drizzle the spinach with a little olive oil. Gently fold the beans and spinach together until the spinach is wilted. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Monday, August 02, 2010

Backstage Radio Show

I will be on the Backstage Radio Show today at 1 p.m. PST. Go to and follow the instructions to listen live . . . or if you missed it, get the podcast.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Empowered Mommies

Check out Empowered Mommies for an interview with yours truly, plus some of my favorite recipes from my first cookbook. Empowered Mommies is also sponsoring a giveaway here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Soy: Good or EVIL . . .

A couple of interesting commentaries on the debate about whether soy is the EVIL FOOD that Westin A. Price organization makes it out to be or is soy good for you. Check out this article in the Guardian and this Care to Causes article.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Genetically Engineered Chili Peppers!

Looks like the next food on the GE agenda is New Mexico chili peppers, which inspired the award-winning film, “Genetic Chile,” which examines how corporate ownership of genetically modified organisms has changed traditional foods. I haven't seen the film yet, but this article gives some great information about what is happening with GMOs and why we should be concerned. Click here to read the article.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Deja vu

I had a deja vu moment this week. With my first book Simply Natural Baby Food, I took my first royalty money to buy bunk beds for my daughters. It was such a great moment for me when the results of all that work actually allowed me to give something special to my family. Well, here I am seven years later with my royalty check from Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth will Love and I bought a new dining table. Goodbye rickety table and chairs missing rungs!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Almost totally local meal

Romaine lettuce from our garden, eggs from our hens, and everything else from Rutiz Farms in Arroyo Grande. I think the only thing not local is the veganaisse on the potato salad!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Schwarzenegger helping hens

By 2015, egg farmers In California have to get rid of battery cages and allow hens to be able to “stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure.” Just this week, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill that extends this stipulation to any egg producers who want to do business in California. This is progress . . .

Click here for the full article.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I Found Some Great Lunch Boxes

Before I went the online route for lunch boxes, I decided to try Target and I am so glad I did. I found these great lunch boxes in the seasonal section . . . I guess they are meant for summer but they were exactly what I wanted. They are plenty big enough for stainless steel water bottle, thermos, and side dishes; bright and colorful; and they are soft so then they are not in use can be stuffed in a backpack.

I also got some stainless steel water bottles but am not quite so thrilled. They are flip top which the girls like but they do leak a little if they are not straight up. The only flip top bottles I've found that don't leak are from Thermos so I guess I will have to order some from them.

Anyway, hooray for great lunch boxes!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

More on the agave nectar debate

Here's an interesting article on the allegations against agave nectar. It seems to be well researched and along the lines with what I had found when I wrote an article a couple of years ago.

Agave nectar is one of the sweeteners I use and I really like it for liquids like lemonade and ice cream because it dissolves so well and doesn't change the flavor of the food. As I've said before, any sweetener that is over-consumed is not healthy but in moderation, I think agave nectar is a good choice.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Special Food Groups ezine

If you have food allergies, you may want to check out the ezine Special Food Groups. The new issue was just posted and I have an article on making dairy-free ice cream.

You'll also find a few of my favorite recipes including Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream and Lemon Thyme Sorbet.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Herb Garden Potato Salad

Fresh herbs can transform a dish from ordinary to amazing . . . like in this potato salad. I added a little of all the herbs I found in my garden: parsley, sage, oregano, chives, cilantro, basil. Yum!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Review: Farmer Jane

Women increasingly own their own farms and businesses, are active in their communities and government—and as shown in the book Farmer Jane—are strong advocates for sustainable food. This inspiring book profiles female farmers, chefs, activists, and educators working to change the way we eat and farm.

Click here to read my review of Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BPA-free plastic containers

I LOVE my new Preserve BPA-free plastic containers that I got at my local health food store. I hadn't been able to find stainless steel one I liked for my daughters and forget using glass containers in their lunch boxes (tried it once with very bad results, including a call from the school office . . . bad mother!).

Anyway, these are great and not very expensive. I love the screw-on lid that doesn't leak and is easy for the kids to take off and put back on.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: American Vegan Kitchen

If you like comfort food, you'll love the new cookbook American Vegan Kitchen by Tammy Noyes who writes the Vegan Appetite blog.. Check out my review at

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Need new lunchboxes

School is over for the year . . . YAY! Maybe I'm slightly anal but I'm already thinking about next year. We went through two lunch boxes this year for each of my daughters . . . and I really want to find something good for next year. One that is not too big, not too small and that will last.

A few that I've tried are:

- Laptop lunchboxes: We used these for a couple of years and they were great quality but as the kids got older, the little compartments became too small. Also, my kids most days eat a hot lunch out of a thermos. So, we need something that will hold a thermos, a kleen kanteen water bottle, plus a couple of small containers for side dishes.

- Pottery Barn: We got nice looking lunch boxes from Pottery Barn. They actually looked similar to the case for the laptop lunch (but bigger) and fit everything fine, but they fell apart after a few months.

- Small cooler style lunch boxes: We had trouble our fitting water bottles in these.

Please comment if you have a lunch box you really like.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Dessert

Here's an healthy, easy, and best of all delicious dessert to serve or bring to your Memorial Day BBQ. This recipes if from Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love. It can be made vegan or with dairy yogurt, if you prefer.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Pie

Cookie Crust:

18 crème-filled sandwich cookies, finely crushed (1 1/2 cups) -- (Newman's cookies are vegan and organic)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or nonhydrogenated margarine, melted

Combine the cookies and oil in a small bowl or food processor and mix until well blended. Press evenly into an unoiled 9-inch pie pan or springform pan. Freeze for 15 minutes before filling.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (Makes 1 quart)

2 1/2 cups strawberry or vanilla yogurt (can be dairy or nondairy)
2 cups halved strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or agave syrup, if needed

Combine the yogurt and strawberries in a blender and process until smooth. Sweeten with the sugar to taste, if needed. If the mixture is cold, it may be frozen immediately; otherwise, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Note: If the strawberries are very sweet, omit the sweetener. With fresh ripe strawberries, I usually don’t need it; but sometimes with frozen strawberries, or those at the start of the season, I do.


Spread the frozen yogurt in the frozen pie crust. Top with strawberry halves--or chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or whatever sounds good to you. Cover the pie with parchment paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil and freeze for at least 3 hours, or until firm. Serve with the sauce or whipped topping of your choice, if desired. This is a great dessert to make ahead, but once it's frozen solid, you will need to let it sit at room temperatore about 20 minutes or in refrigerator about 1 hour to soften enough to slice.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celebrate Pregnancy Awareness Month

May is Pregnancy Awareness Month! Check out these cool flags and decals for your car from Sign of Labor! You can publicly celebrate your pregnancy, while raising awareness of your precious cargo. Five percent of all sales go to Pregnancy Awareness Month.

What better way to celebrate by cooking up some healthy food for mommy and baby with recipes from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. How about some:

Sunflower-Sesame Molasses Cookies
These are packed with iron, calcium, and whole wheat goodness. Great with a cup of mint tea.

1 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, or honey
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1 egg or egg replacer
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or yogurt (dairy or nondairy)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil cookie sheet(s). Coarsely chop sunflower and sesame seeds in food processor, blender, or by hand. Place in large mixing bowl with flour, spice, salt, and baking soda and whisk together. In separate bowl, beat together oil, sweetener, molasses, egg, vanilla, and milk or yogurt. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture. Stir until combined. Scoop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes, or until bottoms are golden. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 4 1/2 dozen

Note: If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, use 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Got a kindle????

I just found out that you can get the e-book version of Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love for the Amazon Kindle. It costs $9.99 -- of course, they sell the print version for 10.17 so it's not much cheaper but you do get it instantly and of course there is no charge for shipping. Either way . . . now that the weather is warming up, it's time to start thinking ice cream.

Since it's strawberry season here in CA . . . I'll share this yummy recipe for Strawberry Sorbet.

Strawberry Sorbet
Makes 1 generous quart
This sorbet just bursts with sweet strawberry flavor. Best of all, it’s quick and easy to make.

5 cups halved strawberries
1/2 cup agave syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If the mixture is cold, it may be frozen immediately; otherwise, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Strawberry Daiquiri Sorbet: Replace the lemon juice with the juice of 1 whole lime and add 2 tablespoons of light rum. Serve it soft, like a slushy, or harden the sorbet in the freezer for a few hours.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Whole Grain Sourdough Bread

A friend gave me some sourdough starter about a month ago and I've been dying to use it, but I've been so busy that I hadn't been able to coordinate refreshing the starter and baking when it was refreshed (you are supposed to use it with 24 hours of refreshing). Anyway, I was finally able to get it together this weekend and I am so glad I did. The loaves rose wonderfully and my family is absolutely raving about this bread.

Here is my recipe . . . however I varied it slightly because to use the flour I had from my grain CSA box. My starter was rye starter which made the dough slightly stickier to knead. Then I used 2 cups of wheat flour and 2+ cups of spelt flour. It doesn't really matter which kind of flour you use, just make sure it is glutenous (wheat, spelt, rye are the best, barley has some gluten but is best in combination with wheat or spelt).

Whole Wheat or Spelt Sourdough Bread
I prefer to work with a slightly dry dough and knead with wet hands on a wet board. I find this helps to keep bread tender.

2 cups Sourdough Starter (at room temperature)
1 cup warm distilled or purified water
2 1/2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt
4+ cups whole wheat or spelt flour

Place starter in large mixing bowl and stir in water. Stir in salt. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. If it becomes too thick, mix with wet hands. Place a bowl of water at work station. Wet a large bread board or work surface. Place dough on wet surface. Keeping hands wet, knead for 5 minutes. (Sourdough does not need as vigorous a kneading as yeasted bread.) Wet the board as necessary to keep dough from sticking. If dough becomes too wet, knead in a little more flour. When dough is smooth and elastic, shape into a ball and place in mixing bowl. Cover with damp towel and place in warm, draft-free place. (If it's a cold day, I place my oven on warm while I am kneading and then turn off the heat and let my dough rise in the warmed oven.) Let dough rise for about 2 hours, until doubled in size. Press your finger into the dough. If it does not spring back, it is ready.

Oil two loaf pans. If dough is sticky, flour work surface and hands. If dry, use water as before. Knead dough about 10 times. Divide dough in half and form two loaves. Place one in each pan. Cover with damp towel and place in warm draft-free place to rise. (I rewarm the oven again during this second kneading.) If rising in oven, you may want to set a bowl of boiling water on the bottom.) Let dough rise about 1 hour. The dough should have risen noticeably. Do not overproof or the bread will not rise in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425º. Make sure it is at this temperature before putting bread in. Bake at 425º for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes. You should hear a hollow sound when tapping on top and bottom of bread.

Remove immediately from pans and cool on wire rack. (Tip: If bread doesn’t drop out of the pan, it is probably not done so put it back in the oven and bake it a little longer.)

Makes 2 loaves

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Very Berry Frozen Yogurt

I was planning to make a batch of Strawberry Frozen Yogurt from Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love . . . but didn't have enough strawberries, so I came up with this one and it was GOOD!

Very Berry Frozen Yogurt
The berries can be fresh or frozen.
Makes 1 quart

1 (32-ounce) tub of vanilla yogurt (2 1/2 cups) -- can be dairy or nondairy yogurt
1 cups halved strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
2/3 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or agave syrup, if needed

Combine the yogurt and berries in a blender and process until smooth. Sweeten with the sugar to taste, if needed. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.