Saturday, March 31, 2007

Blossoming Lotus Week

I used the excuse of needing to order a few birthday presents online to order myself a copy of Vegan World Fusion Cuisine.

After borrowing it from the library, I knew it was written for where I am in my current-diet-train-of-thought. It is based on "vegan transitional" recipes, those that contain light ingredients with some raw or partially raw recipes. The first recipe in the book is Radical Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. This is the Sundried Tomato Variation.

And the same hummus in a flax seed wrap with avocado and veggies.

I served the Lotus Live Tomato Sauce (pas de beets) over baked spaghetti squash. I liked this ten times better than any other pasta based spaghetti and I think it will become a staple in our house. I threw in a few dates just for sweetness.

On many days I have cravings for Gracias a Dios Guacamole. I don't add the spices, as I like the natural flavour of the lime and cilantro. We try to minimize the fat content by dipping with baked pita chips instead of tortilla chips.

And finally, a fully cooked dinner. Grilled Tempeh with peanut sauce, Daddy Dread's Jamaican Jerk Plantain and steamed broccoli. I've never had plantain, so I thought I'd give it a go. I wasn't totally impressed, it was too starchy for my taste. I couldn't give up the comparison to bananas enough to make it a fair decision.

Another recipe from the book I tried but didn't photograph was the Grilled Portbellos in Shoyu Marinade. They were excellent, and I'll remember to make them again in the upcoming barbeque season.

If you're looking for a healthy, inspirational, kinda raw vegan cookbook, I highly recommend this one. If you just like beautiful pics of food and the world, it's good for that too.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Colossal Food

I was craving something sweet, so I pulled out my VwaV, recalling that I had seen an interesting recipe I always wanted to try. Since I had all of the ingredients on-hand, I decided to make the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars. I used my homemade raspberry jam, as suggested, instead of going to the trouble of making the raspberry purée.

They turned out great - almost too great. You see, I live alone, and Kyle was working alot of nights this past week. In case you can't tell from the photo, this is a 9x13" pan worth of rich, calorie-laden blondie bars. It was dangerous. I had one, and soon after sampling, knew I had to offload the 30-some servings of these things before I turned into a blob. Fortunately, they kept well in the fridge, and I was able to have Kyle take more than half of the pan to his hungry co-workers on Friday. Phew! Next time, I'll definitely halve this recipe into an 8x8" pan, or even quarter it into a loaf pan.

One note that was weird - I felt guilty making those blondie bars. All week, I was snacking on grapefruits as my nightly snack. It was mildly surprising how much I was enjoying this treat! One night, I ate my grapefruit, then had a tiny piece of blondie bar. It was weird, because I was so mad at myself for losing the sweet, light aftertaste of grapefruit in my mouth, and instead tasting the oil-based, sugary confection I had created. I was mildly disgusted with myself, and hope this is a sign that my somewhat sweet tooth is diminishing.

Today, I modified a Caesar Salad recipe from the Vegan World Fusion Cuisine cookbook. I used soy mayonnaise instead of the silken tofu/water combo. I found it better tasting than another Caesar-style dressing I made before, so I'll be sure to do this again. What I won't do again is double the amount of garlic. I have no idea what I was thinking, but at least I won't have to worry about vampires tonight.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great Start to Spring

It was a good vegan vibe night, as we had dinner at The Table, our favourite local vegetarian/vegan/raw buffet. After a leisurely dog walk in the warm, approaching spring weather while it was still daylight, we stopped by the mailbox to be surprised by the April issue of Vegetarian Times. It reminded me that even though I've made three dishes out of the March Issue, I haven't actually read it. Sarah's African Chickpea and Spinach Soup made me flip right to that page to try it, and then the Napa Cabbage Salad caught my eye, and with so much success with peanut butter, I had to make the Peanut Butter-Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips (but only because it didn't call for any white flour).

The recipe isn't vegan, but I veganized it by subbing 1/4 cup applesauce and 2 tblsp soymilk for the yogurt and egg. And I just used whole wheat flour, not pastry flour. It was da bomb, better than any previous banana bread that I've made. Of course, the chocolate chips don't hurt.

Two nights ago, I made grilled tofu using the Asian Marinade from VWAV. I just had to admire the beautiful lines my grill pan left.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Pounds Go Marching one by one...

I haven't posted lately because our menu has been following a rather routine pattern. We have green smoothies for breakfast, combining fruit such as bananas, pineapple, mango, papaya, or berries with greens such as spinach, kale, romaine or parsley. Every day, I try a different combination. For mid-morning snack, a fruit salad and dried fruit and nuts. At lunch, we have a salad, guacamole and/or leftovers from the night before. Dinner consists of a steamed green vegetable, beans, chickpeas or lentils and occasionally, brown rice or pasta. I haven't felt that much of this was worth taking a photo. That doesn't mean that I'm not totally enjoying what we are eating. In total, I've lost 8 lbs, and Pete has lost 10. But more importantly, I have much, much more energy than I've ever had. I don't sleep less, but I feel very positive and energetic during the day.

I tried a new recipe from the same Vegetarian Times article that Sarah last posted about - this one is Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing.

The napa cabbage was refreshing and really pretty after grating with a mandoline. The peanut sauce was out of this world with very little added oil. I could have eaten the whole bowl.

I did make Fat-free Oatmeal Cookies since Pete begged for cookies, but they didn't last long enough for a photo. Super good.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

PB with Tomatoes Sounds Gross, But it's Not

Well, I haven't had time to supersize my Apple Oatmeal Walnut Muffins, but I did have time to type up what I have so far. As I mentioned in the post with the pic, I wanted to use some steel cut oats from my everyday brekkie, but if you don't have any kicking around, I would increase the rolled oats from 1/2 cup to 1 cup, and increase the soymilk from 1/3 cup to 2/3 cup and let them soak together in the applesauce mixture before adding to the flour mixture.

Apple Oatmeal Walnut Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup cooked steel cut oats
3/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup soymilk
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, rolled oats and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine cooked steel cut oats, applesauce, oil, maple syrup and soymilk. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Add walnuts and stir.

Pour into prepared muffin tin, and bake for 20 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.

I did some good eatin' this week. First, I had some leftover pesto from making Isa Pizza over the weekend, so I cooked up some penne, sautéed some mushrooms, red pepper, onion and zucchini, and added Yve's Chick'n Tenders for a quick meal. Tasty!

Still on my Vegetarian Times kick, I made the African Chickpea and Spinach Soup from March 2007's issue. It was part of the 1 Food 5 Ways section featuring Peanut Butter. I was very skeptical about peanut butter in a soup with canned diced tomatoes, but I absolutely loved how the PB gave the soup a rich creaminess that was nicely offset by the cayenne. It was a breeze to put together, and Kyle was very impressed by how flavourful it was. The only disappointment is that it only makes 4 small servings. Since we ate big bowls at dinner, our lunches the next day were pretty pathetic due to having only a few sipfuls of soup.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Not Ugly at All

I wanted to try Fatfree Vegan Kitchen's Miang Kum Rolls. Since Susan's daughter E ate them, I figured Princess might too (bland toppings only). I made them as raw as I could, using raw cashews instead of peanuts.

The sauce was really tasty, once you warm up to the idea that it's not peanut sauce, but tamarind flavoured. Princess was excited by the wrap-assembly process, so I was optimistic that she would eat the one she made. Alas, she picked out the spinach and only ate the cucumber and rice paper. But Pete and I really liked them.

We have been eating bushels of fruit lately, so to increase our dietary variety, we decided to try an "uglifruit". Here's what it looked like.

Inside, we were pleasantly surprised, despite the name.

They were very juicy with large wedges the size of grapefruit, but the taste was somewhere between an orange and a grapefruit, with a hint of lime. We ate it like an orange. I would definitely not hesitate to buy one again.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Not-so-Secret Solution

This morning I opened my homepage to read the latest news headlines and recent entries of my fellow vegan bloggers. I was floored by this article:

Diabetes Rate in Ontario Rose Far Faster than Forecast: Study

Ontario is our home province, and here we have publicly-funded health care. It can be a wonderful system, in that if you have a run of bad luck, you don’t need to mortgage your entire future to pay for your hospital stay, surgery, etc. Every person in the province has equal access to health care, regardless of social status or income. The system is funded through income taxes, where theoretically everyone pays the same percentage toward the costs.

One downfall is the migration of good Canadian medical doctors to the US, attracted by more lucrative salaries of the American private health care system. It is hard to find a general practitioner in town that is accepting new patients. If you have a GP, you keep them, regardless of whether you disagree with their approaches or loathe the service you receive in their waiting room.

But the other downfall is highlighted by this recent article. Our health care system is getting increasingly more expensive. In part, it is because good health professionals deserve higher compensation. But much more costly are the thousands of people that are becoming unhealthier by the year. One out of eleven people in the province have diabetes. Probably a similar percentage have heart disease (maybe the same person). And then there are the increasing rates of diet- and lifestyle-induced cancers. And who will shoulder the burden of those increasing costs? Those that take care of themselves and are still able to work. And our children.

The article states, “Rates of diabetes grew most rapidly in people under the age of 50, especially young women”. Clearly this increase is directly related to poor diet and lack of exercise. We are killing ourselves with our forks and televisions. How can we get the message out that meat, dairy, and refined and processed foods are poisoning our society?

The proof that a healthy vegan diet prevents diabetes is irrefutable. This movie follows six people as they adopt a raw vegan diet and get off their insulin (thanks to The Veggie Voice for that link). Many authors/doctors such as Robbins, Ornish, McDougall, Barnard and Fuhrman have written books on the health benefits of vegan diets. I recently borrowed Fuhrman’s Eat to Live from the library on Fat-Free Vegan’s recommendation. It is a well-written book citing study after study about the disease-preventing benefits of a vegan diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables (even more interesting to parents might be his Disease Proof your Child). Many of his patients successfully ended their dependence on insulin.

It is frustrating that many of the people I care about already are, or are at high-risk of becoming one of the increasing number of Ontarians with diabetes. I, as many of us do, hold the “secret” - the knowledge about how to prevent or cure diabetes. But it is useless unless they are willing to listen. They have to give up their attachment to unhealthy patterns of eating the wrong foods in inappropriate amounts. They have to get themselves moving. How can we help people who aren’t willing to be helped?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Not-So-Supersized Muffins

I make steel cut oats in a little mini slow cooker every day for breakfast, and one day, I decided to make extra and put a few cooked oats aside to make some muffins. I was craving an apple-oatmeal-style muffin - one like the fluffy, oversized versions I used to get from muffin stores in the mall food court, but obviously vegan.

I came up with a tasty recipe that incorporated the cooked steel cut oats, applesauce, uncooked rolled oats, walnuts and other tasty goodies. They had the same texture and taste I was craving, but I was hoping for something bigger that would 'spill' out of the tin and make a typical shape with a muffin top. So I'll have to revise my quantities, and will post the recipe once I've perfected it.

I also tried another VT recipe, this time, from March 2007's issue. I've found that VT has been pretty vegan-friendly lately, so I've been making quite a bit of stuff from there lately. Last night, I made the Israeli Couscous with Shiitakes. I made some modifications, as I couldn't find Israeli couscous at Loblaws for the life of me. Of course, when I got home, I re-read the recipe after spending an extra 20 minutes on that task, and discovered that I could have used orzo instead. Argh...

Anyways, I made this without the chile and chives, used corn instead of peas, and used 4 cups of veggie stock instead of the 6 cups of broth that were called for. The recipe also called for tarragon, a fresh herb that I can't say I've ever tried before. I found it smelled like licorice, and it actually gave the dish a great flavour. Although it took a lot of time to stir in the stock like I was making risotto, I would make this again, with chickpeas or seitan chunks for extra protein.