Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015: Favourite Cookbook

I have to admit, I started out with good intentions for MoFo this year! But as much as I want to be creative with some of the subjects, a good functional meal for three hungry kids is all that I have time for.

But for today's theme, I wanted to spend a little time and effort because it is a subject that is important to me!

I went vegan ages ago. This is when you had to buy your TVP from a dusty shelf at the back of a natural food store that only serious tree huggers frequented. Cookbooks? There was the Single Vegan (because no one else was!) and a few macrobiotic cookbooks that just seemed a little *too* weird at the time. But eventually more and more books were published, and I snatched them up with eager anticipation.

One of those early books in my collection was The Everyday Vegan by Canadian cookbook author Dreena Burton. The recipes were great, the food was relatively normal for being vegan food. While some ingredients were not readily on hand, I was intrigued. Hemp seeds?, I thought. If I could have only known then that this cookbook would introduce me to an ingredient that I would consume at least a pound of each week. The As-You-Like Muffins were a staple, as were the Sweet and Sour Neat Balls.

As the books kept coming, you could see a maturity in the progression through the vegan diet. Fewer and fewer processed foods were being used, and her last book, Let Them Eat Vegan, really seemed to be focused much more on whole foods. While I couldn't make everything from Dreena's most recently published book since Kyson was diagnosed with 11 food allergies, I was able to make substitutes quite readily. I was so appreciative for Dreena's healthy recipes as I could still find a way feed a family healthy vegan food without legumes, nuts or soy. Thank goodness for those hemp seed recipes!

I have no idea how it happened, but somehow Dreena asked me to be a tester for her newest cookbook, Plant-Powered Families. I said yes, and warned her of the allergy situation I had that would prevent me from testing her recipes the way that she had written them. I also had a newborn, one that never slept and needed me constantly. But I was excited about having a new slew of recipes.

When the testing pages starting to roll in, I was hooked. Every recipe was so easy, kid-friendly and made from whole foods. And finally - it was vegan food that wasn't reliant on legumes, nuts and soy. There were allergy subs everywhere! This sounds really pathetic, but I had tears in my eyes and the sight of a cookbook that seemed to be made for us and our situation.  I felt like I needed to jump up on the rooftops and tell everyone about this book. I thought that every parent needed this book - they could send their kids to school with super easy, nutrient-dense food with nut-free options abound!

I can't even tell you all of the recipes I've made from this book. And I make them again and again. OK, here is a list, some of which I subbed allergy-friendly ingredients, either suggested by the author or from my own will:

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites
Chickpea 'n Rice Soup
Chunky Monkey Smoothie
Apple Pie Smoothie
Best Banana Bread
Blueberry Lassy Muffins
Double Chocolate Orange Banana Muffins
Artichoke Spinach Dip
All the burgers
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nicer Krispie Squares
No-Bake Granola Bars
Protein Power Balls
Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with frosting
A+ Caramel Apples

Plus it has a section to inspire you when dealing with picky eaters and back to school lunch menus and ideas and a meal plan when you are in a rut and tired of meal planning all of the time.

So even if you aren't dealing with kids, or even food allergies, but are a busy person looking for nice and easy healthy food to prepare, this book is ideal! I'm so grateful for this book and hope that it finds itself in everyone's cookbook collection.

Note: I will post up pictures of my creations of these recipes once I have a way to get them in here, other than sending my pics from my computer to my phone, then logging into Blogger and putting them in. It just doesn't seem so 2015. Why, oh, why, does Apple not like Google products and crash every time I try to upload?

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015: Recreating a Fave Childhood Food

I have to keep this short since I have only five minutes to write up something, figure out how to paste in a pic from my new Apple computer, and get the kids in the bath!

So I'm crazy enough to think that I will have a shred of time this month to officially participate in VeganMoFo. A few years ago I unofficially participated with my 'Hemp Foods' theme, and was amazed at myself for being so dedicated. But this year, the commitment-phobe I am, I decided to take the plunge and sign up my rarely-updated blog, fully expecting to rely on my Twitter handle to provide quick 140-character answers.

But today's challenge, of recreating a favourite childhood food, forced me to write something with a bit more detail. When thinking of the challenge last night, I had such a brain fart that it seemed as though my memories of being a child were long-lost. So I texted my mom, who wrote a pile of ideas (thanks mom! although you never read my blog so you won't take note of my appreciation...). But the first one she wrote stuck out. I forgot about Nutella! The delicious hazelnut-palm oil concoction that is marketed to be healthy with its nuts and skim milk powder.

I actually blogged about one recreation I already made (Hempella), but I wanted to try something different that might be less like a chocolate version of Map-O-Spread, and something like Nutella that had a texture similar to chocolate magic mud (colloidal suspension, anyone?). I haven't read my Hempella post for awhile, but I probably wrote that I ate so much of this stuff as a teen that I earned us a whole set of like 12 drinking glasses from eating the stuff.

As you know, seeing as though you are a loyal reader of this blog and know ALL about our food challenges, we are nut-free. So that eliminated many of the recipes that featured hazelnuts that look so delicious and authentic - as much as Nutella can be considered 'authentic'.

Enter this version with one of my newest fave versatile foods - pumpkin seeds. Not the ones that you scoop out of a pumpkin at Halloween, but the raw, shelled pepitas. So without further adieu, here's what I did and some basic photos since my toddler was having a tantrum at the time.


2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and spread out pumpkin seeds evenly on top. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Pour seeds in a high speed blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend for about one minute, plunging where necessary.
3. Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge. I'll guess it will keep one month, but it only makes one cup or so, so it won't last that long - especially if it was in my house.

This is my fave childhood food - tell me yours!