Tuesday, November 27, 2012

QUICK AND EASY DINNER: Roasted Veggies and Tofu

I needed a fast dinner and had an odd assortment of veggies in my refrigerator. A few potatoes, a big sweet potato, an eggplant and friend had give me from her garden, and a few cups of chopped kale. And I had a package of Trader Joe's Organic Baked Teriyaki Tofu that was just about at expiration date. First I was going to make a stew but then decided I was in the mood for a veggie roast. Of course, everything had different cooking times so this is what I did, and it came out quite delicious. I think an onion, cut into 1-inch pieces, would be good added with the sweet potatoes--I just didn't have one.

Roasted Veggies and Tofu

4 medium yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato, scrubed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 7-ounce package Teriyaki Tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
3-4 cups chopped dinosaur kale
Olive oil
Seasoning herb/spice mix
sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss yukon gold potatoes with enough olive oil to coat them. Place on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with herb/spice seasoning mix and sea salt. Place in oven. Bake 5 minutes. Meanwhile in the same bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, sea salt and seasoning mix. Add to potatoes and bake 10 minutes. Toss eggplant with oil, seasoning mix, and salt. Remove baking sheet from oven. Turn potatoes. Add eggplant and tofu to potatoes to baking sheet. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, or until eggplant is just about tender. Stir in kale and cooking a few more minutes to wilt kale.

Serves 6

Monday, November 05, 2012

Vegan Apple-Walnut Muffins

Some nice person at work has been bringing in bags of apples fresh from her tree so we've been doing lots of baking . . . apple crisps, apple pies, apple breads, and this week's creation: Apple-Walnut Muffins. Spicy, moist and yummy. The perfect fall snack. Make an extra batch too as these freeze well.

Apple Walnut Muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup rice milk (or other nondairy milk)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 medium cooking apples, grated or minced in a food processor (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 12 muffin tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon and ginger. In  medium-size bowl, whisk or beat oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, rice milk, vanilla, and vinegar until smooth. Stir in the grated apples and add to the flour mixture along with the nuts. Stir until just mixed. Divide between the 12 muffin tins. Bake 30 - 35 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out dry. Cool 10 minutes before removing muffins from tins. Cool on a rack or serve warm.

Makes 1 dozen muffins

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dairy-free Ginger Chocolate Ice Cream

A good friend of mine is practically addicted to dark chocolate-covered ginger candies, and he got me thinking about what a great ice cream flavor that would be. In my cookbook Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love, I have a Chocolate Ice Cream and I have a Ginger Ice Cream . . . so with a little tweaking, I combined them into a cold, creamy, chocolaty treat with a spicy ginger burn. And it's just as addicting as those candies, let me tell you. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ginger-Chocolate Ice Cream
We wanted a really strong ginger taste, but if you want it to be a little more subtle, use the lesser amount of ginger.

1 1/3 cups nondairy milk
1/3-1/2 cup peeled and grated ginger (3 – 4 ounce piece)
1 ounces dark unsweetened baking chocolate
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar or agave nectar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place nondairy milk in a small saucepan. Add the grated ginger, squeezing it a bit to release the juice. Cover and heat until just beginning to boil. Cover and steep 30 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl, pressing all the liquid out of the grated ginger. Return the strained milk mixture to the saucepan. Add the baking chocolate and heat enough to melt the chocolate. Let sit. Pour the remaining ingredients into the heatproof bowl. Wisk in the heated chocolate/milk mixture. Chill in the refrigerator for three hours or until very cold. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Makes 1 quart

Monday, October 01, 2012

Book Review: WILD ABOUT GREENS by Nava Atlas

Dark leafy greens are probably the number one best food you can eat . . . and most of us need to eat more of them. But if you’ve run out of interesting and tasty ways to serve them, despair no more, Nava Atlas has “125 delectable vegan recipes for kale, collards, arugula, bok choy, and other leafy veggies everyone loves” in her newest cookbook, Wild About Greens.

Now I thought I had quite the repertoire for cooking greens as it is a specialty of mine, but I still found plenty of new and delicious ways to serve greens to my family. My kids especially loved the White Bean and Greens Burgers (pictured above) and the Sweet Potato and Corn Stew with Hardy Greens. The Leek and Potato Soup with Watercress was a particular favorite of mine. A particularly great thing about this book, like all of Nava’s books actually, is that she is the master of quick and easy meals. This cookbook is really handy for weekday dinners. I was able to whip up the Rosemary Potatoes and Collard Greens with Vegan Sausage (white and sweet potatoes are precooked in the microwave) and the Greens with Polenta Wedges (using a tube of precooked polenta) in less than 30 minutes. And they were as delicious as if they’d taken hours.

For those who prefer raw foods, there are plenty of juices, smoothies, and salads to choose from. I had a little block when it came to trying the massaged kale salads. I just couldn’t imagine that it would taste good. But Nava hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I went for it. Nava gives several methods, but I opted for her favorite, the “olive oil on the palms” method, and it worked beautifully. In less then a minute, the raw kale was soft and green and just like it had been wilted with heat. (Before and after photos to the right.)

The kids weren’t so wild about it . . . but I thought it was fabulous, especially in the Kale Salad with Dried Fruits and Nuts. There are still so many recipes I want to try, like the Balsamic-Glazed Chickpeas and Mustard Greens and Pad See Ew.

Wild About Greens is more than just recipes too. There is a thorough introduction with detailed information about the greens featured in the book, as well as buying and preparation tips. And the insert with full-color photographs of some of the recipes is sure to make your mouth water. This will definitely be residing on my kitchen counter for a long time. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to add more greens into their diet. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Important GE Study Released

It's been all over the news . . .  the first peer-reviewed, long-term study of the effects of consuming genetically engineered corn was recently released. Rats that were fed genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" corn developed massive mammary tumors, liver and kidney disease, and premature death. Of course, some geneticists are criticizing the study and calling it "flawed," but at the very least this should spur on further independent studies and prove the need for labeling of GE foods . . . if only to be able to track any possible ill effects.

If you live in California, it is so important that you vote YES on Proposition 37 to mandate labeling of GE foods. It could set a precedent that other states will follow. In the meantime, to make sure you don't consume GE products, buy organic.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why Use a Slow Cooker?

I am so excited to host a guest post by one of my favorite vegan cookbook authors: Robin Robertson. She is about to release a new cookbook called Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker (The Harvard Common Press, 2012). I haven't gotten to see this one yet but from reading her post, I certainly can't wait to get it . . . and you can be sure I'll post a review when I do. So without further ado . . . here's Robin!

Why Use a Slow Cooker?
by Robin Robertson

Most slow-cooker enthusiasts would agree that convenience, economy, and great taste are what keep them coming back to their slow cookers time and again. When you cook in a slow cooker, the longer cooking times allow the flavors of the ingredients to meld into a deep complexity that is often unparalleled in other cooking methods. Slow cooking can be more nutritious, too, since the long cooking time allows the nutrients to concentrate in the food as it draws more flavor out of the ingredients. When you factor in the convenience quotient, you’ve got a kitchen helper worthy of the name.

What could be easier than assembling your ingredients, putting them in the slow cooker, and turning it on? That’s it! Several hours later, dinner is served. For added convenience, your meal can be served directly from the ceramic pot in which it was cooked. In addition, the removable ceramic insert can be refrigerated, so you can prepare your ingredients the night before and refrigerate them overnight right in the insert so it’s all ready to cook the next day. Slow cooking can be a terrific solution for busy people who want to eat healthy delicious meals.

In addition to cooking soups and stews, a slow cooker can be used to do such diverse things as cook corn on the cob, braise tofu, and make seitan from scratch. Its versatility extends to casserole-type dishes such as lasagna or mac and cheese, and even “bake” breads and desserts—dishes usually associated with the oven.  It’s also ideal for making jams, chutneys, and other condiments.

Perhaps one of the most popular dishes to make in a slow cooker is chili. One of my favorite chili recipes in Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker is this Two-Lentil Chili.  Using two kinds of lentils give this chili a great texture — the red lentils cook down and thicken while the brown lentils hold their shape.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Recipe: Two-Lentil Chili

Serves 4 to 6
Slow Cooker Size: 4- to 6-quart
Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours on Low
Soy-free Option

·          2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
·          1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
·          4 garlic cloves, minced
·          1 or 2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
·          1 bell pepper (any color), seeded and chopped
·          3 tablespoons chili powder
·          1 teaspoon dried oregano
·          1 teaspoon ground cumin
·          1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
·          1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over
·          1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
·          1 tablespoon soy sauce
·          1 teaspoon natural sugar
·          1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
·          Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·          4 cups water
·          Diced avocado, minced onion, vegan sour cream, shredded vegan cheese, and/or chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. For the best flavor, heat the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, chiles, and bell pepper and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chili powder, oregano, and cumin and sauté for 30 seconds longer. Alternatively, omit the oil and sauté these ingredients in a few tablespoons of water or combine them in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water, cover, and microwave for 2 minutes.

2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker. Add both lentils, the tomatoes, soy sauce, sugar, cocoa, and salt and pepper to taste. (You may need to add up to 2 teaspoons of salt.) Stir in the water, cover, and cook on Low until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 hours.

3. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve hot, garnished with your favorite chili toppings.

Recipe © 2012 by Robin Robertson and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

End of Summer Minestrone Soup

A trip to the farmers' market this weekend prompted this version of minestrone soup . . . a soup I rarely make the same way twice as it always depends on what vegetables and herbs I have on hand. We really liked this one, however, so thought I'd share.
Minestrone Soup
Minestrone is my kids favorite soup . . . probably because of the pasta. Like most soups, the flavor is even better the second day.

 Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced rosemary, preferable fresh but dried okay
2 carrots, cut into half moons (or quarters if carrots are very fat)
2 cups green bean (1-inch slices)
1 fairly large zucchini or summer squash, cut into bite-sized chunks
3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned with juice)
2 cups chopped kale or other dark leafy green
1 quart vegetable broth or stock
2 cups water
2 cups or 1 (15-ounce) can cooked kidney beans
 2 cups cooked pasta
salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pot and place over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic. Cook and stir 10 minutes, until softened. Add the basil, rosemary, carrots, green beans, squash, tomatoes, kale, soup stock, and water. Cover, place heat on high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Add remaining ingredients and cook a few more minutes until heated through. Stir in parsley.

Serves 8

Note: If I’m not serving immediately, I actually like to keep the pasta separate so it doesn’t get mushy and then add it just before serving. (A trick from my restaurant days.) That’s also why I used cooked pasta rather than adding raw pasta to the soup and cooking it in there . . . but you certainly can add a 3/4 cup of uncooked pasta and an extra cup of water with the vegetables to save a step.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Take a Stand--Support our Right to Know!

In recent weeks, several public interest groups, including the Organic Consumers Association, Cornucopia Institute, Mercola.com, and Natural News, have pointed out the gross hypocrisy and greed of large food and beverage corporations selling billions of dollars of organic and natural food, while meanwhile bankrolling the industry opposition to GMO labeling. These organic and “natural” traitor companies and brands include:

- Kellogg’s (Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms);
- General Mills (Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar);
- Dean Foods (Horizon, Silk, White Wave);
- Smucker’s (R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic);
- Coca-Cola (Honest Tea, Odwalla);
- Safeway (“O” Organics);
- Kraft (Boca Burgers and Back to Nature);
- Con-Agra (Orville Redenbacher’s Organic,
- Hunt’s Organic, Lightlife); and PepsiCo (Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic).

All of these companies are profiting from the sale of billions of dollars of their proprietary organic and “natural” food brands while at the same time funneling large sums of money to the Monsanto-led campaign to defeat the November 6th GMO labeling ballot initiative (Proposition 37) in California. We need to send a clear message to these traitor brands, in the only language they understand: lost profits and lower sales. Today, the Organic Consumers Association and Mercola.com are formally calling for a boycott of 7 organic and “natural” brands.

The above is reprinted from The Organic Consumers Association. Click here to read the full article. And I hope you'll join me in boycotting those brands.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Massaged Kale Salad????

So if you've taken one of my workshops, tried a recipe from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook or have just been following my blog for a while, you know I am a big fan of greens--especially kale. So you can imagine how I excited I was when one of my favorite authors Nava Atlas came out with a new cookbook called Wild About Greens. I have really been enjoying her recipes such as the White Bean and Greens Burgers that were such a hit with my kids, Greens and Polenta Wedges (so quick and easy with precooked polenta!), and tonight's dinner of Sweet Potato and Corn Stew with Hardy Greens . . . but the recipe I really want to try is her Massaged Kale Salad. So what's stopping me, you ask? I don't know. Three times now I have gotten kale with the intention of making it but every time, I end up making one of her cooked kale dishes. I guess I just can't believe that my family will like a raw kale salad. So tell me: have you made massaged kale salad? Or tried it somewhere? How is it? Did you like it? Did your kids like it?

I know I should trust Nava . . . she hasn't steered me wrong yet but I seem to have some kind of a block here . . . help me out!

(Pictured is Nava's Sweet Potato and Corn Stew to which I added black beans, red bell peppers, and zucchini and served over brown rice. YUM!)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zucchini-Avocado Salsa

If you have a garden--or a neighbor with a garden--chance are you have a plentiful supply of zucchini right now. Maybe even too plentiful . . .

Well, this Zucchini-Avocado Salsa from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook is one of our favorite ways to serve zucchini. It makes a nice big batch--great for parties or potlucks and, as a friend recently commented, this tastes very much like guacamole but the zucchini stretches those expensive avocadoes. I keep a batch in the refrigerator so there is always a healthy snack on hand. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Zucchini-Avocado Salsa
This a delicious alternative to regular salsa or guacamole. It is great with chips or as a topping for burritos, tacos, or quesadillas.

2 small zucchini, diced (about 2 cups)
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Tabasco sauce to taste
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Steam zucchini and corn together for 2 or 3 minutes until colors are bright. Place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Stir together and chill for at least one hour.

Makes about 3 cups

Variation: Add 1 to 2 cups diced tomatoes

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Quick and Healthy Dinner: Tempeh-Kale Pasta

Here is this month's quick and healthy dinner idea. If you have leftover pasta, it'll take about 15 minutes . . . and only a few minutes more if you are cooking the pasta from scratch. Just start the pasta water boiling before you chop your veggies and cook the pasta while you are cooking them. I didn't include measurements because this is one of those flexible dishes that you can make just for yourself or for a crowd.

Olive oil
Chopped onion
Sliced red bell pepper
Diced tempeh
Chopped kale (I prefer dinosaur kale)
Cooked linguine (hot or cold)
Marinara sauce
Red pepper flakes
Minced fresh parsley (optional)

Add enough olive oil to coat bottom of skillet and place over medium-low heat. Add the onion and pepper and saute for a couple of minutes to soften. Stir in the tempeh and kale. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes, until kale is bright green. Add the linguine, just enough marinara sauce to coat pasta and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir and cover. Cook a couple of minutes until heated through. Serve with fresh parsley, if desired.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Do you plan your meals or just wing them?

So I'm wondering . .. . do you decide what your menu will be in advance and then shop for the needed ingredients?

I've tried that but it doesn't really work for me. Well, maybe once in a while when I am making a special meal . . . but in general, I kind of do things backwards. When I head to the farmers' market or to pick up my CSA box, I don't really know in advance what I'm going to get. I mean really that's part of the fun of shopping at farmer's markets. I don't exactly know what I'll find or what's going to look good to me.

Like yesterday, I stopped at the natural foods store and came home with these beautiful long, slim Chinese eggplants, a head of cauliflower, yellow cherry tomatoes. So when I got home, I had to decide what to have for dinner. I looked in my refrigerator and found a half box of mushrooms and some marinara sauce left over from the girls' pizza making slumber party. Add to that a red onion and a can of garbanzo beans that I decided would all go well with pasta.

I tossed the vegetables and garbanzo beans in olive oil and an herb/spice mix and roasted them at 450 degrees until tender as I cooked the pasta. Then I tossed the veggies into the hot pasta with the marinara sauce and some fresh basil, parsley, and thyme from my herb garden.

That's pretty typical on how meal planning goes for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PRODUCT REVIEW: Rigoni di Asiago organic spreads

The Rigoni di Asiago company was kind enough to send me samples of a few of their organic spreads to try. We received:

1 jar Nocciolata, an organic hazelnut spread with cocoa and milk, gluten free, no trans fat, no palm oil, no artificial flavors, aromas or colors, made with skimmed milk, raw cane sugar and cold-pressed sunflower oil.

1 jar Fiordifrutta Strawberry & Wild-Strawberries

1 jar Fiordifrutta Pink Grapefruit

1 small jar Seville Orange

2 small jars Apricot

According to the company documentation, Fiordifrutta fruit spreads are organic, and each jar contains 3 pounds of fresh fruit naturally sweetened with apple juice. They contain no sugar, and are gluten free, low glycemic index, low calories, certified NON GMO, and have many different flavors available.

So, this morning the girls and I taste-tested the spreads. We spread mutli-grain waffles with each spread and tried them out. Here are our opinions:

Nicciolata (chocolate-hazelnut spread) -- rich, creamy, chocolatey, sweet . . . a yummy treat. We all liked it.

Strawberry & Wild-Strawberries -- Very fresh strawberry flavor . . . Emily said it tasted like wild strawberries. We all liked it very much.

Pink Grapefruit -- Slightly bitter. Emily hated it. Aimie and I felt it was just okay . . . not something we would go out of our way for.

Seville Orange -- Very strong bitter taste. We all disliked it. Aimie (very bluntly) said it tasted like rotting oranges.

Apricot -- OUR WINNER! We loved this jam. Great flavor and taste. Aimie said it was the perfect blend of tartness and sweetness. We all wished we had gotten a large jar of this flavor as the two little jars were cleaned out in short order.

Final thoughts . . . I'm happy to find products made with organic ingredients without artificial colors or flavors, are processed with low temperatures and natural ingredients--and they are gluten-free for those of you watching that--just steer away from the citrus flavors. For more information or to find US stores that carry these products, go to the Rigoni di Asiago website

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Consumers have the right to know!

If you are in California and debating on how to vote on the Label GMO Initiative . . . here is some information that may help with your decision . . . and remember, a vote to Label GMOs is not saying your are pro-gentically enginneered foods or against them . . . just that you believe it is our right as consumers to know what is in our food and how it is grown so we have the choice whether to buy and consume those foods.

California’s “Label GMO” Proves Pro-GMO Camp Wrong
Key Argument of the Pro-GMO Camp Dismantled by New Legal Analysis

July 10, 2012 — A grassroots initiative that will be on the ballot in September promises to give Californians the right to know whether they are consuming foods with genetically engineered ingredients. The rest of the country is watching this legislation carefully, since if California requires such labeling, national food manufacturers will likely use the labels in other states as well.

Proponents of the initiative point to the numerous scientific studies indicating that GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, can cause genetic changes in mammal offspring. “Scientists are seeing birth defects, high infant mortality rates, and sterility in hamsters, rats, and livestock fed genetically engineered soy and corn,(1)” said Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director for the Alliance for Natural Health USA.

One of the main charges against the “right to know” initiative, according to the website StopCostlyFoodLabeling.com—the funding for which comes in part from the Council for Biotechnology Information, whose members include Monsanto, Dow, and other GMO companies—is that the initiative would “create…frivolous and costly lawsuits” and would lead to abusive “bounty hunter”–style lawsuits that allow plaintiffs to keep a “bounty” of 25% of civil penalties collected. Critics point to the many abusive lawsuits that were spawned by Proposition 65, a California initiative passed in 1986 that concerns toxic chemicals.

However, a recent legal analysis of the Label GMO initiative has found that it would not in fact spawn frivolous lawsuits the way Prop 65 has.

The paper, authored by noted legal scholar Dr. James C. Cooper, a former Federal Trade Commission official and an adjunct professor of law at George Mason School of Law, found that the Label GMO initiative contains “important differences [which] substantially reduce the potential for Label GMO to foster the type of abusive private litigation associated with Proposition 65.” The paper also determined that the initiative offers California businesses multiple exemptions and greater legal certainty, allows businesses time to cure GMO labeling violations, and does not include the controversial bounty fees found in other California laws.

“The opponents of GMO labeling have been misleading the public and the media,” said DuBeau. “The opposition is playing fast and loose with the truth, and this paper is a wake-up call. Now there’s no excuse for the biotech companies’ misinformation. They are entitled to their own opinions—not their own facts.”

The report’s (http://www.anh-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Prop65-and-GMO-Label-Initiative.pdf) key findings:

- Label GMO provides seven years in which producers can gradually reduce the GMO exposure of their products from no more than 5% to zero.

- So long as food or supplement producers have a sworn statement from their supplier stating that, to the supplier’s best belief, there are no GMO elements in their ingredients, the producer is immune from suit.

- The producer is also immune from liability if the food is certified organic and certified GMO-free by an independent organization. No doubt it will make sense for food producers to help create an independent certifier.

- Once a violation has been identified, the producer has 30 days in which to correct it, in which case there is no liability.

- There is no “bounty” for plaintiffs who initiate lawsuits.

“The Label GMO initiative is very popular with California voters. Opponents know this, and are doing whatever they can to defeat it,” DuBeau noted. “This report soundly disproves one of the opposition’s main arguments, and exposes their campaign’s use of scare tactics.

“It’s all about citizens’ right to know what’s in the food they’re eating,” DuBeau concluded. “Is anything more basic—or reasonable—than that?”

For more information, go to The Alliance for Natural Health.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

More on antibiotics and meat

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the problems of antibiotic abuse on factory-farmed animals. Since the FDA doesn't seem to be doing much about this problem, The Center for Food Safety is hope consumers and retailers will stand up against this abuse. Since Trader Joe's responded positively to pleas to eliminate genetically-engineered ingredients in their products several years ago, they are a great place to start on this campaign. Click on this link to sign a petition urging Trader Joe's to "source and sell only meat and poultry raised without antibiotics."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cooking for One

Though my cookbooks are geared for families, I'm often asked for tips and suggestions on cooking for one, and since this is an issue I too face at times, here are my ideas on the subject.

There are two issues that I see:

1) It often seems too much trouble to prepare a meal (and do all the cleanup) just for yourself.

2) Most recipes are geared for multiple people.

I know that when my kids are with their dad, it can be tempting to fall into a bowl of cereal for dinner or maybe heating some frozen thing--not the most healthy or satisfying dinner, that's for sure. But I have found a solution that works well for me. One that gives me healthy, yummy meals with not too much work.

My solution?

Cook like I would if my kids were there. In other words, make a full meal for 4-6 people. However, the beauty is I can cook foods that I really like that the kids don't . . . like eggplant or mushrooms for example. Or curries and spicy foods. So yes, I have to spend one night cooking a full meal but then . . . leftovers! So for the next few meals, I have premade food that just needs to be heated up. Or you can use the cooked foods to make other easy meals. Like I'll roast a big batch of veggies and then mix them into pasta for one meal or put them in a salad for lunch.

Of course, there are days when I am inventing dishes or trying a gourmet recipe and I hit on something so good, I really want to share. But I've found that usually it just takes a phone call or two before I find someone willing to come over and share a meal with me :) And that's really nice too.

Feel free to share your cooking for one ideas with me as well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Veggie Pasta Salad

In the winter, soup is my staple food. I make a big batch at a time so we have enough to last for a few days for dinners, lunches, etc. Well, in the summer I do the same thing but with salads . . . especially hearty salads made with potatoes, beans, or grains. This pasta salad that I made this weekend that was a such a hit with my kids. We had some for dinner, took some to the beach, and the kids even ate it for snacks. It would be a great choice for a potluck as well.

Veggie Pasta Salad

I basically used all the veggies from my trip to the farmer's market and herbs from my garden, so don't feel like you have to stick to this exact combination. You can also add cooked beans or some crumbled feta cheese.

1 cup asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
2 cups green beans cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups chopped kale (packed)
1 pound penne pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup black currant champagne vinegar (or flavor of your choice)
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Blanch asparagus by putting in boiling water and letting cook a couple of minutes, until bright green and slightly tender. Use slotted spoon to remove asparagus to a colander. Immediately rinse with very cold water to prevent it from cooking further. Repeat with squashes, beans, and kale. When veggies are cooked, use the same boiling water to cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta.
To Assemble salad:
Put pasta in large mixing bowl. Add cooked vegetables and remaining ingredients. Toss together and chill until ready to serve.

Makes at least 10 servings

Friday, June 15, 2012

Right to Know on Ballot!

It's official! The California Secretary of State's office announced that the Right to Know initiative to label genetically engineered foods will be on the November ballot for California. This would be the first law in the United States requiring labeling of a wide range of genetically engineered foods.

The initiative requires labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - which are plants or meats that have had their DNA artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds in that food. This type of genetic alteration occurs in a laboratory and is not found in nature.

Polls show nearly unanimous support across the political spectrum for labeling of genetically engineered foods. Nine out of ten voters in the U.S. and in California back labeling, according to recent polls (see Mellman 2012, Reuters 2010, Zogby 2012).

I hope you will vote for this initiative in November. It's not about whether you are for or against genetic engineering . . . but that you believe that we, as consumers, have the right to know what is in the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it was grown. This article has more information.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Quick Hot Cereal Alternative

A few weeks ago, I posted an alternative to processed cold cereal . . . well, today I'm posting an alternative for processed hot cereals. Now, hot cereals are typically less processed than cold ones but the less processed they are the longer they typically take to cook. This hot cereal uses leftover cooked brown rice and is ready to eat in minutes. We call it:

Breakfast Rice Pudding

Place cooked brown rice in a saucepan with enough milk (dairy or nondairy) to cover the rice. Sprinkle on some cinammon and a dash of vanilla extract. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until warm. Serve with fresh or dried fruit. We also like to sprinkle on chopped nuts or seeds.

Tip: Whenever you cook grain or beans for dinner, make extra. The leftovers can be used for future dinners, lunches, and as in this recipe . . . breakfast. You can find lots of other recipes for hot and cold cereals in The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Help stop antibiotic abuse

Almost 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are given to animals on factory farms. Not to treat sick animals, but to compensate for the dirty, crowded conditions the animals are raised in. The routine overuse of antibiotics creates bacteria resistant to known drugs. Illnesses caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill 70,000 Americans every year. If we continue to create bugs resistant to antibiotics, we will be in serious trouble.

Help stop this antibiotic abuse. Sign this petition to stop farm animal antibiotic abuse.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Healthy Cold Cereal Alternative

Store-bought cold cereals are certainly convenient, but not only are they quite expensive . . . they are really not very healthy. Even the organic, whole-grain varieties are highly processed and the nutrition really only comes from the chemically-added nutrients. So, what can you do when you need a quick breakfast in the morning? Well, my mom used to make us muesli--a breakfast she had grown up with in Germany. In fact, in the summer when fresh fruit and berries were plentiful, she'd just make a huge batch and we'd snack on it all day. It's a breakfast I still love . . . and my kids do too. In fact, it was the first meal they learned to make on their own.

Muesli is basically rolled oats soaked in milk (I use nondairy milk and also add yogurt for the probiotics) mixed with fresh or dried fruit and nuts/seeds if you like as well. I also like to add a splash of orange juice if I don't have oranges in it . . . it adds a nice tang. You can even use other rolled grains besides oats. No recipe is needed--this is a meal you cater to your own taste (though for those of you who prefer exact measurements, there are recipes for a winter muesli and summer muesli in The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook).

And the nice thing is you can make it for one, like I did for myself this week with blueberries, strawberries, and sliced almonds. Or make a big batch like my daughter did when she got home from school so we'd have enough left for breakfast tomorrow morning (muesli will stay good for several days). Besides the berries, she added chopped oranges, sliced bananas, and raisins.

Have fun and experiment!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Ah . . . Sundays

I love Sundays for many reasons--one of which it's the day that not only do I have lots of yummy fresh local fruits and veggies from my weekend farmers' markets . . . but I actually have enough time to prepare them.

This was our Sunday dinner this weekend . . . steamed artichokes; roasted red, yukon gold, and sweet potatoes; and salad made with the most buttery butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and snap peas . . . with dressing made from local olive oil and vinegar.

Oh and can't forget dessert! Strawberry shortcake of course. I love spring on the central coast!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Quick and Easy Dinner

We all need those quick and easy dinners in our repertoires for those hectic nights. Here's one that my family gobbled up.

Stir-fry a bunch of your favorite veggies in a large skillet--this time I did onions, carrots, zucchini, bok choy, and spinach--until almost to the doneness you like. Then stir in some diced baked tofu (I like Trader Joe's Organic Baked Teriyaki Tofu) and some leftover cooked spaghetti. Sprinkle on soy sauce and a little mango vinegar. Sweeten with agave nectar or your sweetener of choice if you like. Toss and heat through.

That's it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mediterranean Veggie Roast

I was invited to a birthday potluck this weekend and wasn't sure what to bring . . . but I had this beautiful eggplant, mushrooms, and saw some Mediterranean feta cheese at Trader Joe's (the birthday girl loves feta) so came up with this dish which we really liked. For a vegan version, use toasted pine nuts or dairy-free feta substitute.

Mediterranean Veggie Roast

1 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
8 ounce white mushrooms, halved (or quartered if very large)
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch slices lengthwise
3 zucchini, sliced
1 large eggplant, quartered and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or toasted pine nuts
salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, toss onions and mushrooms with a splash of balsamic vinegar and enough olive oil to coat. Place on baking sheet and roast in oven (stirring occasionally) 15-20 minutes, or until slightly browned.

In mixing bowl, toss red bell peppers with just enough olive oil to coat them. Spread on baking sheet and cook about 20 minutes or until edges are browned, turning once or twice so they don’t char.

In a mixing bowl, toss zucchini with a splash of balsamic vinegar and enough olive oil to coat. Place on baking sheet and put in oven. Roast about 10 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

In a mixing bowl, toss eggplant with a splash of balsamic vinegar and enough olive oil to coat. Place on baking sheet and put in oven. Roast about 10 - 15 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Place roasted vegetables in the mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Serves 8

Monday, April 16, 2012

Easy Greens

I found the cutest little baby bok choy at the Farmers' Market yesterday and rather than adding them to a soup or stir-fry like I normally would, I decided to let them shine all on their own. I had also been wanting to try my new bottle of Mango Balsamic Vinegar from my last trip to Global Gardens so . . . voila . . . . Mango Balsamic Braised Boy Choy!

Wash and coarsely chop the bok choy. Coat skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the boy choy and stir a bit. Cover and cook about 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drizzle boy choy with Mango Balsamic Vinegar and sprinkle on some sea salt. That's it! Easy and yummy.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Perfect French Toast

My family loves French Toast and make it a lot, but sometimes it would come out soggy and custardy, especially when using thick white bread and then nobody liked it. However, I found the secret to perfectly crisp French Toast . . . day (or two) old baguettes! While they are too tough to eat plain, they are absolutely great for making French Toast. So hit that day old rack at your bakery and cook up a batch.

As for topping our French Toast, we're not big on maple syrup . . . I find it too sweet first thing in the morning. We usually go for some homemade jam or applesauce . . . but this weekend as a special treat, we tried a thin layer of Trader Joe's Cocoa Almond Spread (an almond version of Nutella). Yummy . . . and along with a yogurt topped fruit salad, it was still a healthy but special breakfast treat.

So what do you like on your French Toast?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Destressing weekday meals

I love my routine of cooking on Sunday afternoon/evening to make the start of a busy week less hectic. This Sunday morning, I put some black beans to soak as soon as I got up. Then before I went out in the afternoon, I put them in the crock pot on high. When I got home a couple of hours later, they were cooked. We were able to have black beans burritos for dinner, then I made a big pot of soup for Monday dinner and lunches, and still had enough beans to freeze for later on. Mondays are so much less stressful when I have food already figured out.

How about you out there? Any good ideas for making weekday meals easier?

And btw--this soup took about 20 minutes to make. I sauteed chopped onions, potatoes, carrots in a little olive oil. Added broth, chopped caulifower and cooked 10 minutes. Then added black beans, chopped spinach, and frozen corn and cooked another 5 minutes. Seasoned with salt and herbs and spices.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dangers of Monsanto's Bt corn

According to the Organic Consumers Organization, if you're eating the typical American diet, you are most likely consuming a large amount of genetically-modified foods . . . primarily through consumption of animals that were fed GMO crops. In fact, Monsanto's insecticide-producing bacterial DNA survives human digestion and is now found in the blood of more than 80% of North American women - and their fetuses! The health risks of exposure to the GMO Bt genes is unknown, but Monsanto's own study of rats fed Bt crops showed liver and kidney damage.

Monsanto's genetically modifed corn has been engineered to produces Bt insecticide in every cell of the plant. Monsanto alleged that farmers could plant Bt crops and not have to spray them with pesticides, but corn rootworms are now developing resistance. Scientists warn of massive yield loss and surging corn costs if the EPA doesn't act quickly to drastically reduce Bt crops' acreage and force Monsanto to make non-GMO varieties of its high-yielding hybrid corn available to farmers. In fact, France just placed a temporary ban on Monsanto's MON810 corn because of environmental concerns. Check out the full article here.

Let the EPA know they should ban crops that are genetically engineered to produce pesticides.

For more information about the dangers of eating genetically modified foods, check out this Dr. Oz video.

Also, to help get mandatory labeling of genetically engineered products on the ballot in California, click here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Organic food myths video

Today I watched this segment from "The Doctors" which supposedly is debunking three organic food myths. So go watch it and then come back . . . it really ticked me off.

Myth #1: You need to buy organic dairy to avoid bovine grown hormone. So the speaker says that some brands are free of rBGH and that they are a lot cheaper than organic so that is what she recommends.

Well, it is true that you can get non-organic rBGH free milk, like the Trader Joe's brand for example. But there is much more to organic than that. With nonorganic milk, you are still getting pesticides from the nonorganic feed fed to the cows, antibiotics, and the cows don't have to have access to pasture. If you consume dairy products, I think it's worth the extra money for a cleaner product and better treatment for the cows.

Myth #2: Whole-wheat pasta is healthier than organic pasta.

Huh? That's like comparing apples and oranges. Are those the only two choices? Why not buy organic, whole wheat pasta. Then you get the fiber without the pesticides and chemicals.

Myth #3: Cage-free eggs do not mean the hens are treated any better than the caged ones.

While I agree that cage-free is only slightly better for the hens than non-cage-free . .. what does that have to do with organic? She doesn't even mention anything about organic eggs.

What a terrible, misleading video. The only thing I thought was good was the little add-in at the end that with lettuce, you don't need to buy the packaged lettuce to get organic. Of course, that's only if your supermarket carries it as I found out a few weeks ago.

So what'd you think?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Book Review: Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide

Have a vegan friend who’s pregnant . . . or trying to be? Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal would be a perfect little gift. This little book is packed with tips and advice for a successful vegan pregnancy. Written in a friendly style, it’s like having a little cheering section when the questions about where you’ll get your protein or if you’ll raise your child vegan get to be too much. The book gives sources for important nutrients, and suggestions for dealing with common discomforts like morning sickness and heartburn—it even lists which antacids are vegan. While this is not a comprehensive manual by any means, it is the perfect companion to one of those big books, which don’t usually include much in the way of vegan alternatives. It’s a fun, uplifting book that you can read in one sitting.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Roasted Winter Vegetable Pot Pie

When I was at the Farmers' Market yesterday picking up my favorite winter veggies, I was surprised to see signs of spring coming when I was able to buy fresh berries! Wow . . . can't wait to get asparagus--my absolute favorite spring vegetable. But before I skip ahead, I wanted to pay homage to all the great produce available in winter and created a pot pie made from roasted vegetables--and I have to say this is one of the best meals I've ever made. It takes a bit more work than my usual recipes, but I think you'll agree it's worth it.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Pot Pie
Roasting the veggies before putting them into the pie really brings out the sweetness. This is a great one for company. To save time you can use a sheet of puff pastry or a prepared pie crust instead of the homemade crust below. We like it with a winter fruit salad or applesauce.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
pinch salt
1/3 cup vegan butter
4-6 tablespoons ice water

1 large Yukon gold potato
1 sweet potato
2 carrots
1 rutabaga
1 large parsnip
20 medium Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Walnut or olive oil
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 cup vegetable broth or water
2 cups nondairy milk
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
salt and black pepper, to taste

Prepare crust by mixing the flour, cornmeal, and salt together in a food processor or bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons water and mix. Add additional water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pinched. Form into a ball, cover, and place in refrigerator while you prepare the vegetables.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Trim ends of vegetables and peel if necessary (sometimes the rutabaga can be a bit hairy). Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients and toss until vegetables are coated with oil. Spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce. Add just enough oil to a medium saucepan to coat the bottom and place over low heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté 5 to 10 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the flour and nutritional yeast. Whisk in the broth until smooth. Add the milk, spice, thyme, rosemary, and stir or whisk until smooth. Bring to boil over medium heat. Boil 30 seconds to thicken. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

To assemble, place the roasted vegetables in a 2-quart baking dish. Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Roll out the crust to the size of the baking dish and place over the filling, trimming edges as necessary. Use a sharp knife to poke slits in the crust. (Make sure you reduced the oven heat to 375 degrees!) Bake 30 minutes, or until crust is golden.

Serves 6 to 8

Note: This is a versatile recipe. Use whatever root vegetables you like best—they should add up to 9 cups cut up. Also, if you’re not a Brussels sprouts fan (hard to believe that some people are just not fans), substitute 2 cups of cauliflower or broccoli florets. You can also 1 cup frozen peas along with the sauce.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cranberry-Apple-Walnut Galette

How wonderful to have a long weekend to get caught up after this last crazy month. And with having both Friday and Monday off, I even got to do some things I haven't had time for . . . like getting through a whole yoga video, a walk on the beach, going out with friends, and baking! Here's a yummy treat that combines some of my favorite winter foods.

Cranberry-Apple-Walnut Galette

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry or unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons unbleached granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan butter
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

2 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced apples (about 2)
1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar

A little nondairy milk and granulated sugar

Prepare pastry crust by placing flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl or food processor. Mix to combine. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons water and mix until the pastry holds together when pinched. Add additional water, a tablespoon at a time, if necessary to get the dough to hold together. Form the dough into a ball, place in a small covered container or wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baking rack to slightly below the middle of the oven. Mix filling ingredients together in a bowl. Roll dough out on a piece of parchment paper to a 12-inch circle. Place the parchment/dough onto a baking sheet. Spread the cranberry-apple filling over the pastry dough, leaving 2 inches of border around the perimeter. Carefully, fold the pastry edges up around the filling, pinching closed any cracks that appear. Brush the crust lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until crust is golden. Cool about 15 minutes, before serving. (This is best served warm but you can make it ahead of time and heat in 350 oven for about 5 minutes before serving.)

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Monday, February 13, 2012

Which would you buy?--Part Two

So to follow up from last week's big lettuce dilemma of whether to by lettuce treated with pesticides and chemicals or to buy organic lettuce packaged in plastic at 2 1/2 times the price.

This is what I did.

Drum roll . . . .

I bought the organic packaged lettuce. Now like I said last week, even in the checkout line I was still questioning my decision, as I did every time I took that lettuce out of the fridge but this was my reasoning at the time . . .

I felt like by buying the organic lettuce, I was supporting organic farmers and letting the supermarket know that people want organic produce and are willing to pay more for it. I recycled the plastic package--but of course can't do anything about the energy that went into creating it in the first place. Still, it really irks me to have paid that high price when I could get local organic lettuce at the farmers' market or Rutiz Farms' for $2.00. If the supermarket was my only choice for produce, I don't think I could afford to eat organic!

So there you have it. Don't know if I made the right or wrong decision and guess it really doesn't matter. I was so happy to get my yummy farmers' market veggies this weekend and I made a big pot of curry stew. Delicious! There's nothing like fresh, local produce.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Which would you buy?

So last week was incredibly crazy . . . on top of my already too busy schedule, both of my daughters were in two different plays and I was doing all I could just to make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time and that I didn't get too far behind with everything else in my life. So . . . we basically ran out of fresh fruit and veggies, and I could not make it to the farmers' market, farm stand, or even a health food store during the times they were open. The only place open at 9:30 at night when I finally found a minute to shop was the local chain supermarket.

I did okay on fruit--found some organic oranges. But I wanted to make a salad for dinner the next day and my choices for lettuce were conventionally-grown heads of lettuce at $1.99 or organic, washed romaine lettuce in a plastic container for $4.99. I found the produce guy and asked if he had organic lettuce not in plastic and he said no (they go bad too quickly). So I asked if the any local lettuce--again the answer was "no." So maybe my overly-tired and stressed state had me making too big a deal of this, but I just didn't know which one to get. I picked up the conventionally-grown head and then put it back. I picked up the organic, packaged lettuce and then put it back. Did I want to feed my family pesticides or did I want to pollute the earth with yet more plastic and the energy it takes to make the plastic container--not to mention that $5 for a head of lettuce seemed a bit crazy. I went back and forth, and even in the checkout line was still questioning my decision.

So tell me . . . what which one would you buy? (I'll tell you what I did and why next week.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dreamy Smoothie and Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

My favorite place to go in Los Olivos is the store, Global Gardens. They have wonderful local, organic oils, flavored vinegars, and other cool sauces and condiments. Most everything is organic and/or sustainably grown. Several of their products inspired a couple of delicious dishes today and I thought I'd share. I don't have exact measurements, but they're not really the type of recipes that need exact measurements anyway. I'll tell you as best I can and you can use your intuition when making these yourself.

Dreamy Smoothie
I add some "Dream Dust" made from sustainable rainforest, pure 100% cacao, Guatemalan Vanilla Bean, Indian
Cardamon, Clove & Vietnamese Cinnamon to my usual smoothie and it was AMAZING!

Orange Juice
Plain or vanilla yogurt (dairy or dairy-free)
1 large banana
Frozen mangos
Frozen blueberries
Frozen raspberries
Pinch Dream Dust

Puree until smooth. Serves 2 to 3.

Note: If you can't get your hands on some Dream Dust, just add a pinch of each of the spices listed.

Balsmic Roasted Vegetables

I tossed asparagus spears, whole white mushrooms, broccoli spears, carrot chunks in walnut oil with a little Blood Orange Balsamic Vinegar. I laid the veggies out on a baking sheet and sprinkled them with Caliterranean Garden Blend (dried herbs and sea salt). Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tender on inside and carmelized on outside.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Vegan Holiday Kitchen

Sometimes it's hard to come up with vegan specialities for holidays that kids and non-vegan family and friends will like, but Nava Atlas's new cookbook Vegan Holiday Kitchen is the answer to that dilemma. With recipes for Christian, Jewish, and nonreligious holidays and special occasions, the whole year is covered. And best of all, you don't have to spend your whole holiday cooking. These recipes are easy to make--but impressive enough to serve for company.

I received this book just in time for Thanksgiving and it's now after New Year's and I still haven't put it up on the shelf. I made the Walnut-Apple Stuffing, Agave and Mustard-Glazed Green Beans, and Cranberry Applesauce on Thanksgiving (my kids LOVED them!). On Christmas, I served the Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd's Pie (amazing!), Challah bread, and Red Wine-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. And though this is a holiday cookbook, I've made several other recipes on just regular old days. The recipes are easy to follow and so delicious--and very family friendly. I made dinner (from this book) for my friend and her kids, and she went right home that night and ordered it. That's how good the food is!

The recipes are organized by holiday which is a nice way to find a good recipe for that special occasion, but makes it just a bit tricky when you want to make a certain dish and forget what holiday it was categorized under (and the index is not terribly user-friendly).

All in all, this is a beautiful hardcover book with lots of beautiful pictures, and, most importantly, great recipes that your family and friends will enjoy. It is fast becoming one of my favorite cookbooks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Super Quick and Yummy Dinner

I'm often surprised that the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare a meal does not always equal how much my family enjoys it. For example, tonight's dinner took me about 15 minutes to make, but the girls loved it so much, they ate every last bit--and I expected to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

So if you need a quick and easy hit, try this Sausage, Onion, Apple Fry-Up.

Heat a large skillet (I love cast iron for this) over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the pan. Cut 4 Italian-style veggie sausages (made nonGMO soy) into diagonal 1/2-inch slices and add to pan. Peel an onion and slice in half-moons. Add to pan. Core and dice 2 apples. Add to pan. Toss everything together. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to brown sausage and onions. I served this over steamed potatoes and squash, but I think it would also be great over mashed potatoes or with rice.

Monday, January 09, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Vegan World Feast

Review: World Vegan Feast by Bryanna Clark Groggan

World Vegan Feast is exactly that . . . virtually a vegan foodie trip around the world with recipes like Sizzling Saigon Crepes (vietnamese moong dal pancakes stuffed with tofu and vegetables), Indonesian Green Curry on Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Rose-Scented Baklava. This is my first Bryanna Clark Grogan cookbook, but I can see why she has such a following. Using her cookbook is like taking a cooking class. I've never read a cookbook with such detailed instructions--she really, really wants the reader to be successful making her recipes. I was skeptical about the no-knead bread but it came out wonderfully--I'll never knead again! My family also loved the Lentil and Rapini Stew with Spicy Vegan Sausauge (though it needed quite a bit more water than the recipe specified). The "index to countries" makes it easy when you want a recipe from a particular region, and Grogan also includes recipes for basics like "chicken" broth powder and worcestershire sauce.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Restaurant Review: Real Food Daily

Years ago, I reviewed the Real Food Daily Cookbook. I liked the organic, vegan gourmet/comfort food so much, I told myself that if I ever went to LA, I was going to eat there. Well, this week my daughters and I took a trip to LA to go to the Museum of Tolerance. I looked up Real Food Daily online and found out that it was between the museum and the hotel, so great!

After spending an emotional day at the museum (don't get me wrong, the museum was great, but the exhibits were about the Holocaust, etc.). Anyway, we left the museum at the 5 pm closing time--exhausted and hungry and ready for a relaxing dinner. Of course, we were now in the middle of LA rush hour traffic. I found what I thought was the right street, but we couldn't find the correct number ... in fact the numbers weren't even close and then the street ended. So we drove around. It was now dark and there was so much traffic and then I got lost. I eventually found a road I recognized and we headed back to toward the hotel ... but further on, we saw the road that the restaurant was on (the one I thought I'd found before) and this time, the numbers matched up and hooray we saw the restaurant. But then we had to find a place to park, because it seems all LA neighborhoods are permit-only parking. As we circled around, we passed Bloomingdales realized that we were back at the corner we had been at over an hour ago! Man!!!!! Anyway, we finally found a metered space and walked to the restaurant. I was stressed, the girls were starving, and then the girls were a bit intimidated by the menu. Although they are used to vegan food, I don't use much fake meat or mock cheese sauces, so it took us another half hour to decid what to get. But I'm happy to say, we all LOVED the food and had a wonderful dinner.

I ordered the special which was the Hippie Love Loaf made with lentils, butternut squash, and millet and covered in a mushroom gravy and came with root vegetables and brussels sprouts. Very delicious but the portion of loaf was HUGE. I would have loved a portion half the size and a scoop of mashed potatoes, but still--yummy.

Aimie went for the pizza made with a herb cornmeal crust (gluten free), topped with sun-dried tomato pesto, tomatoes, spinach, basil, melted cashew and mozzarella cheeses, sautéed daily greens & cannelini beans. The waitress suggested adding avocado which sounded weird but according to Aimie was fantastic. Emily decided to play it safe with side orders of brown rice, black beans, and the house salad topped with a delicious vegan ranch dressing--and was very happy with her choice.

All of the desserts sounded incredible. Emily decided on the Gluten Free Double Layer Chocolate Cake, which I have to say was the best chocolate cake I've ever had. (I'm not a big cake fan, but this was moist and the raspberry was so good!) Aimie chose the Coconut Cream Pie but didn't care for it (though I thought it was fine), and the waitress was nice enough to let her switch to the Blackout Cake, which she liked.

Anyway, we made it back to our hotel without incident and next time we go to LA, we will most likely go again . . . this time I'll borrow a GPS though.