Monthly Archives: December 2013

Raw Vegan “Chocolate” Coconut Date Rolls

I want something sweet.  I’m not really saying that as a present tense statement.  That’s just more of a general statement because I always want something sweet.  I would love to be like those women that say, “Oh…I don’t really like sweets.”  Alas, I’m not that woman.  I’m that woman that loves sweet things like a baby loves its blanket.

I was fiddling with some dates the other night and really wanted a base for lots of sweets, not just one particular thing.  So, when you’re reading this recipe, think of it as a base for whatever you’d like to have at any given time.  The bonus?  It’s healthy, raw and vegan.  It could be love.

First grab some Medjool dates.  They’re sweeter.  I got mine at the local Fresh Market, but I’d say any Whole Foods or even some grocery stores will carry them.  I used 15 and had to do two batches.

First, pit them.  It’s super simple.  Just slide a knife firmly along one edge and then squeeze each end.  It pops open and the pit comes out.  Like this:

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Pit them and then put them in your processor with one heaping tablespoon of organic, unsweetened cocao, and 1/2 cup of unsweetened, organic coconut.

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Mix it until it becomes “dough”.  You’ll know or your processor will let you know.  Mine took about 45 seconds and I pulsed it a few times.

Place your “dough” on a piece of wax paper or whatever floats your boat that it won’t stick to.  Caution:  It sticks to everything like super duper glue that happens to taste good.  And it looks like dog poo.

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You can get a spoon and scoop it up to form small log shapes, but I just tore it off and rolled it up in my hands.  It’s funner that way.  After you form them, roll them in whatever you like.  We rolled ours in more unsweetened coconut and then zested an orange over them.  My hubby tried some lime zest but it was super tart.  You could use walnuts, pistashios, pecans, agave nectar, etc…  Really, anything that you want.  Again, this was a base and the whole point is to have something sweet that you can add to or take away from depending on what you want at that time.  This entire process took less than 15 minutes.  (even cooler!)

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Enjoy!  I’d love to hear if anyone makes these and if you add something that’s super awesome!  We thought peppermint would rock during Christmas.

Kristi  🙂

The Vegan Ranch Dressing that Stole Christmas (Dinner)

We had our very first fully Vegan Christmas at my house this year.  It was a much bigger hit that I’d anticipated. I’ll admit that I hadn’t had very high hopes that it would go over super, duper well.  My family isn’t much for mincing words and I figured that they’d all be lamenting the fact that we didn’t have carcass to chow down on.  We like turkey.  Sue me.

However, the veggie pot pie with cashew sauce (thank you, Terri Edwards!!), the homemade cole slaw with Veganaise, the veggie plate and the fruit plate and even the vegan date and coconut rolls and the vegan peanut butter balls were very well received.  I’ll share those raw vegan date and coconut rolls at some point because they are awesome and just too simple and good to not share.  But…it was the ranch that stole Christmas dinner.  I couldn’t believe it.  All night long as people ran in and out of the kitchen I kept hearing, “I thought you guys were going vegan!  Ranch has milk in it!”  Ummm…not that ranch, folks.

What’s more, I kept thinking, “You have GOT to be kidding me!”  I’d, literally, thrown it together at the last minute when I realized that dip “might be a good idea”.  So, I tossed some stuff in a bowl and it turns out that it was kind of the bomb.  If your kids are like mine, they think ranch dressing is the only dressing and everything else is just stuff to help you eat a salad.  Here’s the throw together, in case you have that kind of family, too, or you just want some dip for that plate of raw veggies.

First, get you some Veganaise (I use reduced fat and I can’t tell any difference, at all).  Put about 1 cup in a bowl. (it’s ugly to look at, but it gets better)

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Then, toss in around 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of both garlic power and onion power and then chop up some fresh chives and toss them into the bowl.

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Then add 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk:

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Stir it well and add black pepper.  Voila!  “Vegan Ranch Dressing”

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No one knew it wasn’t the store bought ranch and every last drop was eaten.

I thought I’d have tons to add about Christmas, but the truth is we were focused on the stuff that mattered.  The food was great, the ranch was the BOMB, but we had so much fun listening to the kids play Christmas music on their instruments, the Christmas story being read and just visiting with people that we love dearly, that the food was able to remain a sweet accompaniment to that instead of being a total drag and stealing the night.  And I think that maybe, just maybe…that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  (I’m thankful the vegan food was so good it was hardly noticed that we didn’t carve the roast beast…)   Here’s to hoping we can say the same about New Year’s!

Kristi  🙂

Vegan Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast is a huge deal at our house.  All of my kids, as well as my man, roll out of bed saying that they’re hungry.  I tend to want to hang back for an hour or so, but I think they might pass out.  For real.  So, I knew I needed to come up with breakfast options apart from grain cereals, fruit and oatmeal. (Although, they are loving the no cook oatmeal in mason jars I’ve been making! It kind of rocks. Have you had it, yet?!)

Here’s what we came up with and I think they’re pretty fabulous:

First, use a sliver of vegan butter to saute (I, literally, used a sliver and it was enough for five burritos).  Add in a small, diced onion and whatever kind of peppers that float your boat. I used red and orange sweet vine peppers.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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While these are cooking, grab your tortilla and throw some raw spinach and Daiya cheese on it.  We used cheddar because the kids like it, but I think pepperjack would rock this! 

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I added the spinach and cheese before adding my “eggs” and other yummies because the heat from the tortilla and the cooked ingredients will wilt the spinach and melt the cheese to make it all kinds of good!  Next, toss extra firm tofu in your pan and add a touch of sea salt.

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Over the last week, we’ve used tofu about four times.  The key is to get it dry enough.  I finally did that by wrapping it in a towel, then wrapping it in another towel and then sitting it on a third towel and slapping some cook books on top of all those towels hiding my tofu.  In about 15 minutes, it was perfect and cooks up SO much better!!  For real, it needs to be dried well.

Then slap your cooked ingredients on top of your spinach and cheese:

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Fold it up, add some fruit and some salsa and chow down.  This picture is of my youngest daughters burrito, who eats the least amount of breakfast.  (I have no idea why I didn’t use one that was full, fat and overflowing, but I didn’t) 

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Finally, one of THE best things about these is that they can be frozen! That tickles me pink, because sometimes life is hectic in the mornings, right?  Grabbing these and tossing them in the microwave or oven is so much simpler than having to run around making breakfast, plus these can be portable, if you’re brave.  I have these left in my freezer right now.  (I hate the lighting in this photo. It kinda looks like zombie burrito lighting, but I couldn’t get the depth to pick up on the other settings. It is what it is.)

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Enjoy!  Kristi  🙂

 

 

The Plan: From Happy Carnivores to even Happier (and much healthier) Herbivores

We’re having Christmas dinner at our house this year.  I finally told my sister that we’ve made the decision to eat a plant based diet last night and the first words out of her mouth were, “You’re going to make Tofurky for Christmas!?!”.  …you have to say that in a horrified voice filled with dismay and keep in mind that I am a relatively good cook….

My answer, “What in the heck is Tofurky?!”    Seriously, I had to Google Tofurky.  I’d never heard of any such thing and no, I’m totally NOT serving that at Christmas dinner. (or any other time in the history of ever, thank you very much)

But, my husband and I have been discussing what our plan is for really embracing the plant based lifestyle.  We have four kids and we have very busy schedules (we both own businesses, we homeschool our three youngest, our oldest is in college, and I’m very politically active in our State…we’re busy, like most people), so we knew we’d need to formulate a plan and have goals.  I thought I’d share that with you today, mostly for accountability and to get my thoughts down in writing.  We have given ourselves a one year goal, with three month increments that we’d like to see very specific things happen.

The first three months we’re going to step knee deep into the water.  Diving in isn’t an option because I simply don’t have time to study facts, collect recipes, test said recipes and buy everything I’d want to buy to make this happen, so we’re going knee deep.  That means we’re going to embrace plant based eating, but I’m not going to stress over sugar, processed food (although I WILL be reading labels) or if everything is raw, right now.  We think three months is time to make sure we’re fully plant based and get our food back under our control.  The recipes I post will quite probably reflect that, but I hope to learn as I go and eventually create my own recipes like I used to do with a carnivorous lifestyle.

Months four through six will consist of us weeding out processed foods, as much as possible.  I’ve run upon recipes for making soy milk, seitan, corn chips, etc…that I’d like to explore, eventually.  And, of course, share them here.

We’ve always had a garden.  Actually, we’ve always had a relatively large garden, but we’ve never planned it well…we just kind of toss things out and hope.  This has been much more successful than it probably should have been, but we’re going to use February to really focus on soil enrichment (We’re doing this naturally with the compost we’ve always used and the worms that my husband and kids have always “grown”), as well as research ways to truly give back to the soil what we take from it.  We’re also going to take some time in January and February to plan the garden space out much more efficiently.  David, my man, has a background in graphic design, so this is right up his alley.  We hope to share the process here and really use this year to learn and experiment and then kick some booty the next year (2015) by applying what we learn in 2014.  I also can food and always have, so that will be shared pretty extensively here, as well.  I intend to double my canning and, hopefully, expand my pantry.

Months seven through nine are going to be dedicated to weeding out most, if not all, refined sugars.  You can imagine me crying on this end and that’s all I’ve got to say about that. (this will definitely be the hardest step for me)

Months ten through twelve will be used to refine what we’ve learned and expand on recipes for more raw eating and more interesting ways to eat a plant based diet.  My husband’s family is in the restaurant business and we’ve noticed a serious lack of vegan foods in our local grocery stores, but vegan restaurants are kind of like unicorns in our area.  They are the stuff of myths, people!  We’re praying about changing that because, seriously, who doesn’t want to be a unicorn, right?

So, there’s the one year plan.  I have no intention of heaping yuck on myself if we don’t reach every single milestone or if I don’t buy organic bean sprouts twice a week (don’t hate), but we are dedicated to enjoying this new change and really thriving in it.  We are also dedicated to finding ways to share what we learn, what we love, what we don’t love as much and how we feel as we go.

Finally, since the holidays are coming up, I probably won’t post as much, but I can’t wait to share our Christmas menu that I’ve planned and my family’s reaction. (I’ve only told my sister!)  We are a little cray cray, so there should be some fun stories to share for the New Year…and who doesn’t love that, right?

Kristi  🙂

Kale Chips and more Simple Vegan Things

A big part of maintaining any lifestyle change, especially in the beginning, is finding ways to make the change less strenuous on the lifestyle you already have.  We’re Southern, so there are certain things we knew we weren’t going to give up.  Mayo on a sandwich, potato salad and “sweet” tea were some of the things we wanted to find healthy options to replace the old, unhealthy ones.  These things sound simple, but like yesterday’s post, these are also the things that help you be encouraged and not become discouraged.

I wanted to see if mayo could even be replaced!  We used to eat Duke’s mayo on summer tomato sandwiches (we grow our own tomatoes and have for many years…we’ll share our garden here this spring, by the way!) like they were going out of style!  Our entire family loved them.  When we have summer gatherings, or even a chicken sandwich, mayo was our go-to condiment.  There is no summer gathering here without homemade potato salad, people. So, I tricked my family by trying out some vegan mayo, but I didn’t tell them they were eating a vegan product.  Turns out, none of the five of them, including my husband, who used to say if it wasn’t Duke’s then it wasn’t really Mayo, had any idea they were eating anything other than the “usual”.  It’s called Veganaise and it’s FABULOUS!! You, seriously, cannot tell a difference.

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I’m getting ready to say something that may be a sacriledge to being Southern, but I don’t care for sweet tea. I only like hot tea. Some Southerner just fell out of their chair…I’m sorry.  My husband thinks it’s the bomb diggity, though.  So, the other night he tossed some honey in it and…SURPRISE…he actually liked it better.  (I’d have never believed it!)  We buy raw, organic honey already, so this wasn’t a huge change for us, but I thought those of you out there who are simply trying to eat better might consider it.  Side note:  The raw, organic honey is MUCH sweeter than the store bought junk, so you don’t need as much.  He sweetened the entire tea pitcher, not just a cup at a time and it was really great.  I even tolerated it.

Now for some Kale chip love.  There are secrets to kale chips that veteran vegans should be sharing!  A girlfriend who’s vegan had already shared that they’ll stink up your house.  That was kind.  They smell like butt is cooking in your oven.  They’re worth it.  Next, do NOT overcook them.  Listen to me:  Do. Not. Over. Cook. Them.  They become super bitter!  (ask yourself how I know that)  Then, don’t burn them twice because then you become bitter.  (ask yourself how I know that)

Kale starts like this.  Isn’t it kind of pretty?

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Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the leaves from that long rib in the center.  They should look like this:

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Then get this stuff together: (simplest thing EVER)

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Then coat the kale leaves with two or three tablespoons of olive oil.  Just dump the oil in the bowl and toss the kale with your hands to coat them well.  Then use about two to three tablespoons of sea salt in the bowl.  The olive oil makes sure it sticks to the leaves.  Then, lay them flat, not touching, on a parchment covered baking sheet.  (ask yourself how I learned they had to be relatively flat and not touching to crisp correctly!)

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Then, toss them in the oven for 6-8 minutes.  Six minutes was our magic number for making them perfectly crisp and yummy!  I was SO surprised at how great these chips were.  I wasn’t expecting them to be that good.  My kids ate the entire first plate of them.  The leaves should still be green with only slightly “cooked” looking edges for them to be done.  Do NOT….do NOT…let them be “brown” all over or they will be burned and gross.  It took me three batches to get my timing down correctly for my oven.

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I cannot say enough how awesome these things are.  They are completely worth the butt smell.  I promise. (How often can you say that, right?!)

Finally, my last simple tip came from my friend, Terri.  She advised me that as I used veggies throughout the week to toss them into a large container in my fridge and save them to make veggie broth of my own.  I’ve always made my own chicken broth, so veggie broth shouldn’t be that big of a stretch.  Every time I chop a veggie, I’m saving the leftovers in my fridge to make my first batch of veggie broth this coming weekend. This include celery leaves, broccoli stalks, carrot ends, etc…  I’ll share it as soon as I can.  (And I’m sharing the vegan “sausage and egg” with onion and peppers topped with homemade salsa breakfast burritos sometime this week, too.  They were so incredibly good that my kids ASKED for them this morning!!  Awesome! Plus, they FREEZE!!!)

Kristi  🙂

Going Vegan…the Simple Stuff

We love food.  I mean, we really love food.  We like butter and chocolate and cream cheese and snacks and cream cheese.  (I know cream cheese is there twice.  Stop laughing.)  Even after reading other vegan blogs, there were some really simple things that we didn’t know, and since we’re busy today and I don’t have time to post the AWESOME breakfast burritos I made this morning (I promise to do that sometime this week because you need to know about them!), I decided to do a quick tribute to the simple stuff that I wish someone had made readily available on their blog.  So, here goes:

I actually mourned coffee creamer.  When it’s warm, or even tolerable weather, my man and I sit on the deck outside our bedroom and have coffee and talk almost every single night after the kids hit the sack.  The truth is, he has coffee and I have some creamer with a dash of coffee.  Guess what I found yesterday at our local store (that is NOT a whole foods place or even a Fresh Market)?  This beauty that actually tastes yummy:

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Totally dairy free and it comes in plain and Hazelnut, as well.  I’m SO happy!!

And then this:

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Vegan BUTTER!!!! I used it this morning when I was sauteing the onions and peppers for the vegan breakfast burritos and it MELTS!  It melts just like butter and tasted fabulous!  We have vegan butter! (I know long term vegan’s are probably reading this and thinking…Bless her, heart…but, I seriously had no idea these things would be easy to find and I wish somebody had written this post somewhere easier to find!)  I have vegan butter and creamer.  Score!

I also thought that chips made out of bean sprouts, whole grains and nothing but things I can pronounce would stink.  I was wrong.  I was just flat wrong.  They are GREAT!  You have to read the ingredients to make sure you’re not getting some weird “diglyceride polysorbate 80 crap” (I made that name up, but it’s close enough), but they are out there in abundance!  They go really well with the homemade hummus I made in yesterday’s post, too!

There’s also Diaya vegan cheese products, which really need their own post.  They melt.  They taste like cheese.  They make…this deserves a pause….VEGAN CREAM CHEESE!  They make plain cream cheese and cream cheese with onion and chives and strawberry cream cheese.  And it tastes like cream cheese!  I’m possibly having a love affair with it.  It’s dairy free and it still tastes good!  …insert a stupid happy dance…   (I told you in my very first post you could laugh at me over cream cheese…laugh away, sugar!)  I’m happy.

Full disclosure:  I could only find this at our local Publix and The Fresh Market.  They are, of course, at Whole Foods, but we don’t have one of those less than 45 minutes away.  The traditional grocery stores that are super close to my house didn’t carry anything but Go Veggie, which is NOT vegan (I didn’t know that when we started our journey, as evidenced by post titled “Day 1”).  Daiya. That’s what you’re looking for!

So, if you’re new to this lifestyle like we are, or you simply think we’re whacked out because you thought we’d only be eating lettuce and juicing, I’m tickled pink to tell you that there are plenty of vegan choices out there that mean you don’t miss out on anything that carnivores eat.  Well, except heart disease, diabetes, and a plethora of other diseases that can be overcome simply by taking responsibility for what you eat. (I personally know someone who had arthritis and the vegan lifestyle has erased that from her life, too!) It’s just not that hard.  I hope this encourages you, because finding these simple things really encouraged me.

Kristi  🙂

Homemade Vegan Hummus!!!

I didn’t learn to be a good cook until after I married, which was 17 years ago. I existed on snacks until I wanted to feed my family.  Now that we’ve dumped meat and dairy, I’m having to relearn lots of what I learned the first time, but I think that I can apply the basics and hopefully David (my man) will eat less food he has to pretend to like than he did the first time around.

Yesterday, we started with the small stuff as far as cooking goes… homemade hummus and kale chips.  I already loved store bought hummus, but surely knowing everything that’s in it is better, right?  So I dumped some garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) in the crockpot around 8am and left them there until around 4.  I started them on high the first hour, but if you work outside the home, just leave them on low all day…. it won’t make a difference.

Sorry for the crappy pic. Turns out, steam is hot!  Just garbanzo beans and some sea salt (this is one bag of dried garbanzo beans).

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Then, you drain ’em…but don’t stress over “drying” them and stuff. You’re getting ready to add water and oil, so no need for all that.

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Then dump them in your food processor/blender (not all of them…just enough that your blades can still do their job) or if you have the patience, I suppose you could just mash them to death until they are the consistency you want.  I’m not that patient.  And besides, this is my precious. (not really kidding)  Ninja’s are awesome!!

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Once you’ve dumped your beans in your baby (whatever its name happens to be), then add some garlic.  This part is tricky because everyone’s garlic preferences are unique. So if you like a lot of garlic, a little garlic or you think Dracula is real and this is your only defense, it’s a personal call.  This is how much I used:

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Then dump some sea salt in:

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Then add about 1/2 cup of water and whatever other spices or veggies you’d like.  We like red pepper, so I used about this much in each batch that I made:

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Then I pulsed them for a while.  This actually took a good while because I like my consistency for hummus to be nice and creamy.  While you’re pulsing add olive oil:

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When your hummus is the consistency you’d like, taste test it!  I added a pinch more salt and then threw some black pepper in for good measure and pulsed it some more.  The end!Image

The first batch is almost gone, so I guess I’ll drag the other one out of the freezer, so it’s ready when the family starts asking for it!  (which thrills me to no end, people!)  One bag of garbanzo beans made four full batches of hummus, by the way.  Each one of these ingredients were used each time I started a new blender full of beans.  The last batch we added some dried pepper flakes that gave it some kick.  It was my man’s favorite, while the kids and I liked the plainer version better.

We’re making some butternut squash soup today, so if it turns out this well, I’ll surely share it.  It not, then kale chips will be a fun post because they make your house smell like dog booty!

Kristi  🙂