Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nomvember is Coming

Nom nom nom nom -vember!
I might be obsessed with Nomvember.  I mean, the pumpkin.  The pumpkin.  There's PUMPKIN! 

I got pumpkin spice k-cups.  I have several cans of pumpkins.  I made some yummy healthy pumpkin breakfast bars.  I even got some pumpkin seeds. 

I realize October is standing between us, but I'll wait for Nomvember.  She's worth waiting for. 

What are you making out of pumpkins?  What are you making out of butternut squash?  Kale is in season.  I made chocolate kale chips yesterday.  

It's like I'm on a high brought on by the promise of cinnamon and spice and everything nice. 

I am going to make some roasted brussel sprouts with craisins.  I'm going to make stuffing.  I'm going smell like roasted garlic for a month. 

I'm going to make another pumple.  You know, an apple pie baked in a vanilla cake stacked on top of a pumpkin pie baked in a chocolate cake, coated in more buttercream than a village needs to survive the long Winter?  That.  I'm going to make that.  Except I've spent the entire year thinking of variations...  Cherry pie in chocolate cake with a walnut-y buttercream (black forest style).  Or pecan pie baked into chocolate spice cake.  That's the perfect Texas translation. 

Nomvember is a typo I made, but it is now what I'm calling all of Autumn.

Nomvember harvest, feast, cornucopia. 

Nomvember is love.

What are you making for Nomvember?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'm a Vegan Foodie, and I'm not Alone

Here's the thing.  I like food.  Not just in the sense that I enjoy the way calories feel when they fuel my body.  I like flavors and textures and color.  I like to cook elaborate meals for my family with special sauces and toppings and an attention to detail.  I think about how flavors come together in new and exciting ways. 

I watch cooking shows and internalize those ideas to recreate in vegan ways.  If I watch a show where a chef adds bacon to a dish for more than "Hey look, it has bacon," then I think about how I could add those flavors to a similar dish.

Tip:  Trying to get the flavor of bacon in something?  "Bacon" is just salt and fat with sweet in the form or honey or maple and smokiness.  My favorite "bacon" replacement in a salad or sandwich where you want the crispy texture as well (because bacon is a texture too) is to make coconut bacon (I should warn you that just like a non-veg at a county fair, you will want to eat ALL THE BACON when you make this).  For a soup, I add smoked paprika, soy sauce, and sometimes a touch of maple syrup (these three are a great addition to a bean soup).  You can also use smoked nuts.  There are delicious Smokehouse almonds that can be chopped up on a salad or blended smooth with water, garlic, soy sauce, and pepper to make a perfect breakfast gravy. 

When I go out to eat, I have been brainwashed by the Food Network to believe that there is a head chef back in the kitchen taking pride in his or her work.  I go in thinking that someone is standing at the pass like Gordon Ramsey calling anyone who puts something sub-par up a useless donkey.  Not that I want anyone to be called names, it's just what they like, because they are chefs, right? 

Because I believe this about professional chefs in nice restaurants, I read the menu with excitement.  Look at the interesting flavor combinations they have come up with!  Oh, who would have thought to use that fruit in a savory dish?!  What a great fusion idea for a noodle bowl!  Inspired!

If it's a somewhat reputable place, they may have a vegan option, but even super high end placed don't all have that.  The hallmark of a truly good restaurant is that they say on the menu to ask for the vegan option.  This means that the chef truly is a skilled craftsman and will make you a special dish that is designed to be vegan and is balanced based on umami, has protein, and is satisfying. 

The other things a menu might say is, "* items can be made vegan."  This means they have asterisks next to things that they have already come up with ways to make vegan.  This doesn't ensure a balanced dish, but is more promising.  It either means they can leave off an expensive ingredient and charge you the same price for an unbalanced dish, or it means they will make a substitution.  Many times when I have asked for avocado in place of the missing cheese on something I get charged more, but I want a balanced dish.  And I'm polite.  And then I tip them...  Talk about zero self-esteem!

Recently I was invited to a group meeting at a place that had actually won an award for "best vegan" in town, but when I looked at their menu it didn't indicate that anything could be made vegan, and it didn't have any vegan items on the menu.  That means you are relying on a waiter or waitress who is going to be getting tipped by you to tell you what can really be made vegan.   Here's how tips work:  the more you spend/order, the more you tip.  So it's in a waiter's best interest to tell you that more options are vegan than actually are.

When a menu isn't marked with what is or can be made vegan, you are at the mercy of someone who may or may not care about their job or integrity.  Lucky me, I have a dairy allergy, so when I get bamboozled, I get to suffer later.  I can't always pinpoint the cause, and it's not always enough that I realize I'm having a reaction, so I rarely get the chance to go back and insist I know they gave me dairy.

I went to a restaurant I had frequented for a year not long ago.  I had asked EVERY time what was vegan and I ordered a lot of the same things over that time.  After a year of asking and ordering and getting the same answers, I had a waitress who said, "Oh, but I thought you wanted everything vegan?  That can't be made vegan."  It was the samosas I had ordered every time I went there.  I had ordered them while pregnant and I had never associated stomach pain with them because I had stomach upset in such irregular intervals.  I asked her to really make sure.  She went into the back, just as every other waiter I'd asked had done, and came back and reassured me that they were not vegan.  She explained that this was not a new recipe, and that they always made it that way.

I guess my point is that I'd like to be able to go out to eat with friends (also, as a mom to two little ones, I'd like to have time to go out to eat), but I don't want to pay the prices for eating out so that I can socialize over a dry iceberg salad.  If I'm going to pay to go out to eat, going to go to a restaurant where everyone is gushing over the amazing food, I'd like to eat some amazing food too.  I'd like to do it without giving up my belief system.  I know it's not easy to make vegan dishes if that's not what you are used to, but don't promote yourself as "vegan-friendly" if you don't know how to make a vegan dish that is delicious. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kale Chips with doTERRA Essential Oils

I make mine mostly like this recipe, but I cook them in the dehydrator.  I love that there is no salt, and the kids eat them all up!

The recipe is from the Summer issue of doTERRA Living Magazine



Mushroom Jerky (or Bacon?)


I have been having a love affair with my dehydrator lately.  For those who are totally superficial and want to know about its labels (or for those looking to buy one), I have a Nesco with temperature selections.  I used to have a Nesco without temp selects, and that one was in the $40 range, so I think it's probably about the same for this one, but I got my current one through barter... so I'm not sure.  That's right, I bartered for a dehydatrator.  I think I just got another hole punch in my "You are a total Hippie" card.  *Note to self, must make some kind of punchcard or bingo card to indicate crunchy mama status.  Would be delightful hilarious fun for all.*

Anyway, I usually have a batch of kale chips in the dehydrator these days as my two little munchkins eat an entire bunch of kale (which, incidentally, is exactly enough to fill my dehydrator to capacity) in about a half hour.  Some days we go through two bunches of kale.  I also help them because kale chips are universally amazing.  Here's one of my favorite recipes.

Well, we got one of those packs of portabello mushrooms the other day (the four pack- note that only 3 fit in my dehydrator) and I thought that I could make some yummy jerky-type snack.  I wanted it to be a bit chewy, teriyaki flavored, and super delicious.  It worked.

For the marinade:
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 inch of ginger knob, minced
2 Tbsp vegan worchestershire (whichever brand you like, I have tried several and like them all)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (or Braggs Liquid Aminos)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
*optional 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke (you can also used smoked paprika for a smokey flavor and not as many weird chemicals

Mix this up and taste it.  Do you think it needs something?  Add it.  This will be REALLY strong.  One thing about mushrooms is that they will absorb this flavor really well.  One thing about dehydrating is that it INTENSIFIES flavors, so it's easy for something to be too salty/sweet/spicy if you don't dilute your marinade.

So at this point, I added at least 1/4 cup water.  You want it to be a watery version of the flavor you want.  Then slice your mushrooms into thin strips and toss them in it.  I used a gallon ziplock bag and shook it up.  The mushrooms are really the great at soaking stuff up, so I didn't have to let it marinate overnight or anything.  More like as long as it took to shake up- done.

I layered them on my dehydrator sheet and set it at the highest heat and let it go for about 4-5 hours (I may have sampled at 2, 3, and 4 hours, but best results were after 5+  They get a bit crispy, but still have a good chew to them, and then bits of ginger and garlic get crispy- what a treat!


I haven't tried making a "bacon" version of this, but to do so I would make my marinade with soy sauce or liquid aminos, liquid smoke or paprika, a touch of maple syrup, and black pepper.  I bet it would be good... I wish I wasn't out of mushrooms...  If you try it, tell me how you did it and how you made it your own.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gratitude for all of August

I've selected what I've been told will be the hottest month of the year, in my new super hot home in Texas, to practice a month of gratitude.  I'm tempted to double post it all here, because this is my more popular blog, but I'm really wanting to get my business blog up and running, so I will be tracking my progress primarily on my Mindful Wellness blog, which is my business page.

By the way, I started a business page.  Also by the way, I am only 7 two hour classes from completing my diploma of Hypnotherapy.  Can I get a "whoop whoop?"  I am assuming you are all fist pumping Arsinio Hall style- NOT like on the Jersey Shore, and essentially barking at your computers.

So excited to be completing this schooling, which has been so enriching and rewarding, but also very time consuming.  Sometimes I think I should have just done one of those 5 day programs or a few weekends, but then I realize that I have learned SO much and had over 300 hours of instruction, and I know this was the right program for me.

I also made jerky from mushrooms yesterday, so I'll be posting that as soon as I can pry my phone from the kung fu grip of my daughter who has figured out how to use my Netflix app (the world will never be the same). 

So join me for a month of gratitude.  I'll be posting journal prompts, inspirations, etc to keep you motivated along the way.  When we stop and say thank you for what we have, the desire for more wanes, right?  Let's find out together.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Figs!

We got our first ripe fig off our tree today!

My great grandma loved figs.  When figs were in season, my mom and I would drive around looking for fig trees, and as the cute kid it was always my job to go knock on the person's door and ask if I could pick some figs for my grandma.

Finally, my mom and I got her a fig tree and planted it in the back yard, and were thrilled that it started producing the very first year.  Planting a tree in her yard when she was older and not in great health was an act of faith.  It was a promise of something great to live for.  My grandmother used to say that she just wanted to see me graduate high school, and after that we said to look forward to my college graduation, but that seemed to far off, so figs in the summer were quite possibly what gave my grandmother a few more years.

Sometimes it just takes one small, sweet, beautiful creation of nature to keep us rising each morning.  The thought of daffodils in Spring can always give me hope that things will change and get better.


Also exciting about these figs is that they are yellow calymara figs, which I have never had fresh- only dried.  I've eaten so many mission figs, but this is a whole delicious new ballgame!  

Next to ripen in the yard are my jujubees.  That's right, I have a fruit growing in my yard called a jujubee.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What Does Your Kid Eat?

People are always asking what my kids eat.  Each day is totally unique, so a typical day is hard to find. Some nights, the kids totally shun dinner, last night my son (he will be two in a few months) ate two avocados and a bowl of GF brown rice noodles with sauce and some quinoa and chickpea "nuggest" that I made.

Anyway, my daughter's food choices today cracked me up, so this is a good day to share.  She chose most of these foods on her own (the watermelon blended was something I was drinking and I gave her her own glass of it, and dinner was dinner for the family, so she didn't really get to select much there.)

This is what my 3 year old (almost 4) has eaten today:

  • An apple
  • A Carrot
  • Several sheets of nori (seaweed in sheets like they wrap sushi in)
  • A banana with worchestershire sauce (vegan), balsamic, and soy sauce (this was her own creation)...
  • Watermelon, cucumber, and lemon juice that I blended up- she said it was so good and thanked me but only drank a little.  
  • The steamed artichokes I made for dinner and she found... She loves artichokes
  • Some plain canned garbanzo beans that I rinsed and put in a bowl for her
  • A small handful of chocolate chips
  • Several of these cookies, but I used maple and coconut sugars plus molasses in place of honey. 
  • Dinner, which was porchini risotto with sauteed home grown oyster mushrooms on top, artichokes (I ended up making more) and kale chips.  She ate all her artichoke half plus some of her brother's, a few bites of risotto and a few mushrooms, and a few kale chips.
  • More of those cookies
To drink, other than the watermelon blend, she drank water all day, which is typical for us.

So that's what she eats.