Saturday, July 31, 2010

Soy milk

In a few weeks, my son Jackson is turning two, the age at which his pediatrician recommends switching from whole milk to 2%. I've been giving him hormone-free cow’s milk for the past year, but I think now would be a good time to switch him to soy milk, simply because that is what the rest of the family drinks. The thing is, he drinks a LOT of milk. So, I am thinking of buying a soy milk maker. I have my eye on this Soyapower Plus one.

I think it would pay for itself in a few months, and it would be fun to have a new “toy” to play around with and create different milks. However, I am concerned about Jackson getting enough calcium. When you drink Silk, it's calcium-fortified, but I don’t think homemade soy milk contains much calcium. Is it possible (and safe) to add calcium to homemade milk? I’ll have to do some research.

Another soy-related gadget I’d love to try is the TofuXPress tofu press…and Averie is having a contest to give one away! Check it out!

Friday, July 30, 2010

My introduction to beets

The other night I was browsing through my copy of How It All Vegan. Considering how I've owned this cookbook for about 10 years now, I was surprised to find several interesting-looking recipies I had yet to try. We're lucky to have so many vegan cookbooks to choose from these days. But, you know how it goes...a new cookbook comes out and you get all excited about it, and the result is that your old cookbooks get neglected. Until one day you pull them out and go, "Oh my God this looks awesome, why have I never made this?"

The first new/old recipe I attempted was the Garden Vegetable Borscht. Confession time! I had never eaten a beet before! When I went to the supermarket, I had no idea what I was looking for. I wandered around the produce section and finally asked a worker, who informed me that they only sell the canned variety. Uh, OK. So I used canned beets, adding them near the end so they wouldn’t get mushy. And the soup turned out just fine.

It’s so pretty, isn’t it? It tasted really vegetable-y and flavorful. I was surprised that the beets tasted sorta like celery. I thought they would be potato-like.

I had ½ can of beets leftover (I didn't know how much to put in -- a whole can probably would have also worked). I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I also had ½ can of chickpeas that I had been giving Jackson to nibble on. I decided to make some beet hummus.

Beet Hummus
½ can chickpeas
½ can beets (drained)
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. salt.
Puree all ingredients in a food processor. Thin with water as desired.

When in doubt, make a hummus, right? I literally could not get a picture without Jackson trying to get his hands in it! I think the beautiful bright fuschia color attracted him. He loved dipping tortilla chips in it. Winner!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Muffins and more

I’ve never really been a muffin girl...if I crave something sweet, I’d rather go all out and eat a piece of cake. But, I had a bag of flax meal that I bought for some unknown reason, and I decided to put it to use in the form of the carrot raisin muffins from Comfort Food Vegan. I love carrot cake, and that’s basically what these muffins are, because they are so moist and cake-like. Very tasty!

Sadly, Jackson was not interested. With the terrible vision that runs in our family, doesn't he know he needs all the carrots he can get! Maybe if I put a little cream cheese frosting on the muffins next time? He is all about the condiments and toppings.

I’ve been eating them for breakfast and, in today’s case, lunch, along with some avocado-topped Mary’s Gone Crackers and steamed kale and chickpeas with Annie’s Goddess dressing. These products were new to me (the crackers and dressing -- I am all too familiar with avocado and kale). Jackson grabbed the crackers off the shelf on our last trip to the health food store. I guess he knows what he likes, because he has been eating them up. When I first tried them, I thought they were too dry to eat without dipping them in hummus or something. But they’ve grown on me, and now I find myself eating them straight out of the package. I bought the Herb flavor. I like the slight hint of rosemary that they have.

The Annie’s dressing was an impulse buy. I wanted something that would be good on kale, and boy, did I pick a winner. This tahini-based dressing LOVES a big plate of steamed kale. Now, it is rather high in fat, so I will have to try out Mama Pea’s lighter version, because I can feel myself becoming addicted!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making gnocchi

I’d tried a few times to make potato gnocchi and ended up with heavy, doughy chunks that in no way resembled the airy little pillows I devoured many years ago in Rome. But I wasn't going to give I tried a sweet potato gnocchi recipe courtesy of the Urban Vegan's cookbook.

Thanks to the yams, the gnocchi took on a warm orange hue and a slight sweetness that paired perfectly with the sweet basil-cream sauce. And, most importantly, they were light, so light! Oh my. I've made them three times now and they always turn out just right.

Since my babies' schedule is somewhat unpredictable, it's important for me that a somewhat involved recipe can be divided into parts, in case I need to drop it and come back later. I find it easy to prepare the gnocchi early in the day (by microwaving the sweet potato, I don't even need to turn on my oven), stick them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and pop 'em in the freezer until I am ready to boil them at dinnertime. Then I quickly saute them to give them a crispy outside, while I am making the sauce, and they are ready to serve.

Yesterday I made a huge tray of these gnocchi, thinking, “I’ll just freeze the rest and eat them some other time”…but of course we've already eaten them all!

Such little beauties...

My other little beauties...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chard on ciabatta

I’ve made many delicious meals from Lauren Ulm’s gorgeously photographed cookbook, Vegan Yum Yum, but her recipe for chard florentine on toast points is my go-to favorite. I change it up by using ciabatta rolls, simply because I’m addicted to the tough chewiness of ciabatta. Yes, I like bread that tries to hurt my mouth. I find that four rolls, each cut in half, is enough to use all of the cheesy, chardy topping.

I have been known to eat this for dinner one night, and then lunch and dinner the next day, and then be sad that it is gone. By the way, last time I made this, I was out of miso and tahini, so I subbed an equal amount of hummus, and it turned out just as awesome.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I love you, tempeh BLT

I have a ridiculous addiction to the BLT sandwich. Some might call it a rut, but I don’t feel bad about eating the same thing practically every day for lunch when it’s something I LOVE.

What’s also kinda ridiculous is how specific I am in making it. The bread must be Pepperidge Farms rye/pumpernickel swirl. I am in love with this bread. There must be Veganaise. There must be romaine lettuce and tomato slices. Until recently, there must be Morningstar Farms fake bacon.

I had tried my hand before at making my own bacon from tempeh, but the slices were too thick. They overpowered the other components of the sandwich. And that is no good. I want balance in my BLT. But the less attached we are to processed foods (even the vegan kind) the better, right? I guess. So I tried again, using the Vegan Brunch recipe.

I cut the tempeh widthwise, using a serrated knife to get VERY thin slices. I got about 30 slices from my block of tempeh. I soaked ‘em in the marinade and after an hour, sautéed them in a little coconut oil in 2 batches.

My BLT addiction has just gotten even worse.

And my son now shares my sickness.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where to begin...

Hi, I'm Sara. Nice to meet you. I am a stay-at-home mom of two awesome kiddos: Jackson, who is almost two, and baby Olivia. They keep me busier than any job I’ve ever had, but I’m grateful to be able to spend so much time with them while they are young. No matter how much other stuff I have going on, I try to make healthy vegan eating a priority. Luckily, I love to cook, so hanging out in the kitchen is almost a retreat for me, it relaxes me (until Jackson starts poking Olivia with the spatula or taking all the condiments out of fridge one by one...then, not so relaxing.)

I’ve been vegetarian almost all my life, and I went vegan after the birth of Olivia in March 2010. It was the result of wanting to adopt a healthier diet in order to have more energy and lose my baby weight, and also reading the book Eating Animals and watching the movie Food, Inc. around that time.

It simply felt like the right time. A year ago, I could NOT give up dairy no matter how much I pictured the little baby cows being taken from their mothers! But as it happens so often in life, something that was a big deal (cheese on my pizza) stopped being a big deal.

After many years of cooking, I’m the first to admit that I don’t have a creative bone in my body and it’s still much easier for me to follow a recipe than come up with my own. I'm trying to relax my perfectionist tendencies and spend more time just playing around with ingredients. Hopefully this blog will inspire me to do that.

So, I hope you enjoy reading my veggie ramblings. Welcome!