Moving again

Hey Friends,

I’m moving back here to goodcleanfood.wordpress.com because life is simpler here and right now, I need simpler. If you need a recipe, it should still be searchable and you can always find me on my facebook page. I’ll still be an absent blogger, but my posts will stay put!

Happy summer. We’re off for a long vacation if my kids can get healthy fast enough!

-Amanda

VVP: Herby Olive Tomato Kale Bread (or Rolls)

VVP herbed kale bread 8

Welcome!!! You made it. Are you stuffed yet? You just started and you’re already full? Well this isn’t going to help much since it’s almost like dinner all by itself, but since it’s only virtual, your eyes won’t fill up.  As I wrote this, I realized this is like Prom for food bloggers, isn’t it? Gasp, I speak craziness! But think about it, we’ve dressed ourselves up in our finest attire, spent hours on our hair, posed for pictures, and thrown all caution to the wind. This should be fun…

VVP herbed kale bread 10

In reflection, I wish that instead of going Prom in high school, I’d gone hiking. So today we’re in Bryce Canyon today checking out hoodoos and red rocks and stuff, or so I hope. It’s a last minute, much needed getaway, part of our attempt to make life more authentic, but last minute trips require lots of frantic work I’m hanging out at home with three sick kids, thoroughly enjoying the VVP, but spent the week planning a fun (and at least temporarily failed) family getaway. In the midst of all that planning, I had the shocking realization a few days ago that despite making bread multiple times a week, I had nothing ready to bring to the party. Total party foul. And my husband had already made, photographed and enjoyed his Authentic Ginger Beer and he’s a total blog beginner.

VVP herbed kale bread 1So I closed my eyes really tight and imagined what would be yummy. And I ran out to the front and picked some herbs. And while my kids made tents out of blankets and houses out of blocks, I made bread out of what we had. And doggoneit, it’s amazing!

VVP herbed kale bread 9

Confession: I had great plans of showing how this is done on the grill. I mean, it’s grilling season, hot season, don’t have a good air conditioner season, so I was going to make everyone happy with BREAD ON THE GRILL! But alas, I ran out of propane during the preheat. So, boring oven bread it is. And with that, the whole puffy bread thing failed because I had to re-preheat and well, let’s just say, my timing got off – never good with bread. Anyway, look for grilled bread later this spring. I will perfect it, at least for me.

Herby Olive Tomato Kale Bread (or Rolls)
Yield: Two medium loaves or 18 rolls (or any other combo)

6 c. flour (2 c. bread + 4 c. white whole wheat + 1-2 T. vital wheat gluten to offset the whole wheat flour)
3 T. rapid rise/instant yeast
3 T. salt
2 ½ – 3 c. warm water
2 T. sugar
5-6 large leaves of kale, ribs removed & chopped
Olive oil or water for sautéing kale
3 -4 T. minced fresh herbs (I used equal parts rosemary, thyme & garlic chives)
1/3 – ½ c. chopped green olives
¼ c. chopped sundried tomatoes (rehydrated if dry, rinsed if packed in oil)

  1. In your mixer, mix flours, yeast & salt using the dough hook. With mixer on low, add 2 ½ cups warm water and sugar and mix until the dough just comes together. Without taking the whole thing apart, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for 15 minutes or so.
  2. While the dough is resting, quickly sauté the kale just until it is bright green and slightly tender.
  3. Knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth and elastic, adding more water or flour as needed. The dough should be pretty tacky, but still clear the sides of the bowl. Add herbs, olives, tomatoes and cooked kale to your mixer bowl and knead on low until just combined.
  4. Turn dough out onto a silicone baking mat or a floured surface and knead just until everything comes together in a ball. Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  5. Turn dough back out onto your work surface and deflate it gently – dimple, mash, whatever. Divide into two parts and either roll into rolls, or shape carefully into two tight balls. For rolls, either space on a baking sheet lined with parchment/Silpat, or nestle nicely in a lightly oiled 8×8 (9) or 9×13 (18); for boules, place on parchment or your silicone mat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about an hour.
  6. Preheat baking stone in the oven for at least 30 minutes if possible at 500F. Add hot water to a roasting pan on the bottom rack and put your bread/rolls in the oven on your pizza stone. If it’s on parchment, leave it on there and let it bake that way. Bake at super hot until spotty and golden, then turn your temp down to 400F, baking another 25 -30 minutes until crusty, golden and beautiful.
  7. Let it cool until it’s cool, or not like me and rip a roll off and dip it in calorie laden olive oil. It’s totally worth it.

VVP Go Back VVP Go Forward VVP Home

Thanks for stopping by! It was lovely having a visit. Next stop, more bread, and then many, many more VVP specialties.

Jammy-Broken Heart Cake

jammy broken heart cake 4

So, this recipe has been in the making for months, meaning I’ve been making it for months. That said, I might have lost that last stubborn baby-five but for this cake. I might also have gotten more sleep. But I WOULD NOT have been happier. You see, there is something wonderful about this unparalleled deliciousness (unless you royally mess it up like I did once, but I blame adding cocoa powder – requested by the birthday girl but NOT GOOD, and substituting frozen strawberries when I found my JUST BOUGHT strawberries were moldy).

jammy broken heart cake 2So, let me tell you about this cake. It started long ago before I “made the change”. It had eggs and sour cream and butter and all of that white flour yumminess, so of course it was tasty. I put blueberries and peaches in the middle one time and almost attacked my husband when he asked for some. And then the recipe got shoved to the bottom of the pile because I wasn’t ready to figure the veganizing of this one out.

jammy broken heart cake 3

Well, I finally did it. And every time I’ve used strawberries because it’s Spring and they get all jammy and yummy. In the past I’ve read about things that tasted jammy, and they didn’t sound good. I don’t really like most jam. But this is different and unparalleled gooey, sweet, strawberryey jamminess. Just believe me, you want some.

jammy broken heart cake 6

Because I’ve tried it many different ways, I’ll include all of the workable options with the best ones first. I’ll even put in the non-vegan ingredients for you omnis, because really, butter just tastes better than the substitutes. They are, after all, “substitutes”. (Apparently my palate is still detoxing and may be for the rest of my life.)

jammy broken heart cake 7

A quick note on fats: Butter, Vegan Butter/Earth Balance/margarine, coconut oil, and coconut butter are all tasty options, but they obviously each have a different outcome. I would stick first with homemade vegan butter, then coconut oil/Earth Balance, then coconut butter. Coconut butter makes a  more dense cake – still delicious, but mixed halfsies with coconut oil, it could be good and cheaper than the subs.

jammy broken heart cake 5

Oh yeah, and it’s a broken heart cake because for the life of me, I cannot manage to get it out of the pan without at least a little break, and sometimes it’s a big one. But when using 100% whole grain, that’s not a bad thing (except when I eat all of the broken parts…) and pretty remarkable that it stays together as well as it does.

Jammy Broken Heart Cake

Ingredients:
1 c. granulated sugar
¾ c. homemade vegan butter, coconut oil, coconut butter, butter
1 c. vegan sour cream or sour cream
3 egg equivalent substitute: 1 ½ T. Ener-G + 6 T warm water; 3 T ground flax seed + 6 T warm water
2 ½ c. flour: 1 ½ c Kamut + 1 c. whole wheat (pastry); options: sub ½ c. oat flour, all gluten free flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ c. chopped walnuts
1 t. vanilla extract
2-3 c. chopped fresh fruit: strawberries, blueberries, peaches, black/raspberries – any combo is YUMMY
1 T. ground cinnamon
¼ c. granulated sugar

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly grease one bundt pan, but DO NOT flour it. (I tried and it does bad things.)
2.  Cream together 1 c sugar with “butter”. Add sour cream and eggs and beat well until light. Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mixing until combined. Stir in vanilla and walnuts.
3.  Combine remaining ¼ cup of sugar with cinnamon.
4.  Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Add fruit and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover with remaining cake batter.
5.  Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 8 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 40 minutes.

Two VERY handy sites, and making Coconut Butter

The internet is LOADED with too much information, so much that I have a hard time sifting. Let me sift a little for you. And hopefully, you’re not completely sick of white stuff in jars since I keep posting them. But don’t worry, real food is coming. I’m just setting the stage for future greatness, giving you the tools if you will, to make wonderful things soon.

So first, have you ever found yourself cleaning out your cupboard or pantry and realized you had three cans of veggie broth, or that jar of roasted red peppers you knew was back there had been tucked away for longer than you’d thought – like two years? Did you know that the best by date isn’t always the definitive date? Yes, you probably do, but I still have friends for whom this is new information and so, I share.

Still Tasty

StillTasty.com not only tells you how much longer your canned goods are good for (sometimes two or three years!), but your fruits and vegetables, and well, everything other edible in your kitchen. There is so much information on this site, you could spend days and still probably learn something new, or at least novel. I will confess, there are many items lacking, BUT the catalog is continually increasing.

So, if after checking StillTasty you find you probably shouldn’t use that tempeh that ended up in the back corner of your fridge for six months, there is yet another site I frequent. It is where I go when I realize I am missing what I THINK is a vital ingredient.

The Cook's Thesaurus

Unfortunately, the URL is www.foodsubs.com rather than its name, but I love the URL since it’s easier to remember when I’m looking for a substitute ingredient. It’s not as easy to navigate as I would like, but the search bar is pretty helpful. One of the best parts is that some recommended substitutes have how-to directions!

I wanted to make Shira’s brownies at InPursuitofMore, but I did not have nor had I ever made coconut butter. So I foodsubbed it. This is what I found:

coconut butter  To make your own:  Toast grated coconut over low heat in a frying pan until lightly browned, then whirl it (while still hot) in a blender until it has the consistency of a smooth paste.

There were no pictures, but hey, those are pretty straight-forward directions and I’m not as dumb as I might look sometimes. So, I tossed some shredded, unsweetened, dried coconut and did just that. Heated it and popped it in the Vitamix and started it running. I was surprised by how it transformed from a pile of dried coconut into a creamy, SUPER-HOT, fatty quasi-liquid. It almost had the consistency of what happens when you mix cornstarch and water – a liquid-solid. It was also very much like butter (though very coconutty) and not anything I imagined should have worked.  As it cooled, it hardened much like coconut oil and works like butter in recipes. Cool, huh?

I have since repeated the procedure with more precise measurements to be more helpful. I know I would have appreciated a bit more info when I first tried it. I don’t think a regular blender could handle this, and I recommend a VitaMix because I found the tamper VERY useful. A BlendTec definitely has the power, it just requires more stopping and starting as you stir the contents.

Here are the details in a better form.

Homemade Coconut Butter
Adapted from Cook’s Thesaurus
Yield: 2 cups

4 c. shredded, unsweetened, dried coconut

Over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet, allow coconut to LIGHTLY toast, stirring or flipping frequently to keep from burning. (The goal is primarily to get it hot, but a bit of nuttiness from the toasting improves the flavor.) Quickly add the coconut to power blender, and turn it on and up. Using the tamper if you have one, push the coconut into the blades, adjusting blender speed in order to keep the coconut moving. You may need to stop and start, especially if you don’t have a tamper; pulsing it and shaking the jar will be helpful! This will take a few minutes and the contents will get HOT, as they reach maximum smoothness. The coconut will start moving itself as it begins to liquefy, at which point you’re close. Stop occasionally and check consistency – it should be quite smooth.

When it’s done, it’s done! Pour into a clean container and allow to cool at room temperature. If you’re really ambitious, pour into a muffin tin to get ½ cup portions because it’s pretty tough to break up after it cools.

 

Pineapple Coconut Larabar bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

It’s race season again – regardless of your sport. It happens every spring and like recent years, I’m feeling left out. It’s my own doing, of course, and I could definitely make running or cycling a priority, but right now, I’m not quite there. Sincerely, though, Cheers to those of you who are on it. I will get there, but I’ll be a few months behind and probably a bit late for the races and events (unless I hit some of the fabulous autumn ones, which is possible).

PCLB 5

Down the Tube

Since it’s race season, I want to share with you my (quasi) famous Pina Coloda Larabar bites. Erika even called me out once, so I’m finally making good on this. They are, of course, a knock off from the real deal, but if you really want to know, these are better. I’m not a fan of most real Larabars. They’re too sweet, too gummy, and too old. That whole packaging thing makes them darn convenient, but not as tasty as they should be.

Freeze-dried pineapple

Freeze-dried pineapple

For this, you’ll need an ingredient that can be a bit tricky to find, I admit. FREEZE-DRIED PINEAPPLE. But it’s worth looking, and I recommend some of the “food storage” websites. I found mine through Thrive when they did a gig at Costco, and no, I’m no affiliated with them at all. But you can also find them on Amazon, and check your local health food store. Everything else is usually found in a well-stocked whole-foods plant-based kitchen. I apparently really like dashes(-).

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

Pineapple Coconut Larabar Bites

I rolled mine into balls. For photography’s sake, probably not my best bet since they look like meatballs, but for convenience’s sake, super handy. My kids love these, though I think they do find them a bit too sweet at times (no, my kids aren’t average),

Larabar Base - almond and dates

Larabar Base – almond and dates

These are Raw, Plant-based, and Gluten-Free if you use GF ingredients, which they should be. And they’re excellent training or race food.

the "Dough"

the “Dough”

Pineapple Coconut Larabars

1 1/3 c. pitted dates
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. freeze dried pineapple
¾ c. shredded unsweetened dried coconut
Water, as needed

Put everything in your food processor and let it rip, pulsing as needed. If, like mine, your dates are too dry, add just a little water (1T at a time) through the feed tube of your food processor to get it moving. It should ball up nicely and be super sticky. Either press into a well-oiled or parchment-lined 8×8 pan, or wet your hands and roll into balls. (I used my 1oz. scooper and these are a bit larger than I’d like.) Chill and cut into 1 ½” squares or transfer bites to an airtight container. Enjoy – they keep for awhile if you forget about them, but I don’t think you will.

Upcycled Rice Salad

upcycledgrainsalad 1

Do you ever find yourself starving at lunch time and the peanut butter and jelly you’re making for your kids looks dreadful? Turning to your fridge you find, well, nothing. Nothing but a bunch of randomness that makes no sense in terms of a “normal” meal? Or maybe I’m the only one. This here salad is the result of such an afternoon and a template for future afternoons, when you know you need the energy and stamina that comes from whole foods but can’t seem to put it together.

I love the word Upcycling. Upcycling describes how you and your partner are more than the sum of the two parts, or how that almond milk box was transformed from future trash into a bird-feeder. Sure, you and your milk carton were both functional before the change, but now you’ve become magical. It’s so much more than just reusing.

upcycledgrainsalad

So, an upcycled salad is just the mixing of ho-hum parts to make beautiful epicurean harmonies in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it works in my house. My fridge usually has a cooked grain and various and sundry vegetables can be found lying around. If you aren’t accustomed to having lots of vegetables around, it’s time for you to give it a try. Buy things you normally wouldn’t when they’re on sale and try them. I generally also have a random salad dressing I experimented with or some sort of leftover sauce. Right now there is a quasi-creamy balsamic and a raw waldorf. And what kind of a hippie would I be without nuts and dried berries stored in the nooks and crannies of my community kitchen (it’s a small community, but a community nevertheless)?

That’s all a grain salad needs to come together. And when you stir it together, the creative genius inside you will sing songs of happiness, the writer’s block that has plagued you for 12 years will lift, and your children will behave. Or, perhaps, you will at least feel better than if you’d had that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

upcycledgrainsalad2

Upcycled Grain Salad, this incarnation

2 c. cooked grain – brown rice, quinoa, barley, whatevs.
1-2 c. sturdy diced raw vegetables – carrots, onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, corn, peas, etc.
2 T. chopped nuts, pepitas, or sunflower seeds
1-2 T. chopped dried fruit – cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apples, etc.
½ c. (give or take) Pepita Maple Butter dressing (thinned), or something of your own creation.
*optional: chutney, diced avocado, fresh herbs, random condiments for garnish

Combine everything but your garnish and stir. Garnish, chill (you or your salad, either works) and enjoy.

*You may notice the awesome green stuff on top. It was a rushed, and perhaps failed, attempt to make coconut cilantro chutney from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but on this application, it was AWESOME!

ETW: Zest, Downtown SLC

I did not intend to review this restaurant. It had good reviews on Yelp. How I wish I’d brought a better camera.

Can I just put this out there? Just because I’m an herbivore DOES NOT mean I need small portions. Contrarily, I need MORE food.

Zest Kitchen & Bar

Zest Kitchen and Bar Eat. Drink. And be healthy. (Emphasis on the drink part.)
Menu
275 South 200 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
801-433-0589

mygoodcleanfood.com

Set the scene: I got a babysitter, a miracle in and of itself. I’m paying her by the hour. Located in PF Changs back closet, it’s hard to spot. The only sign is less than a foot in diameter on the glass door. I guess you have to be “in the know” … hard to find joints are hip, right? Fortunately, we’d been to the location when it was a hipster burger joint after I was sworn-in 5 years ago.

Upon Arrival: The space is small and dark. Half is a standing bar with high tables and half is a dining room. We waited about five minutes as all four of the on-floor employees whiled away their time talking to each other. Finally someone greeted us, carded us (that’s weird but cool, I guess) asked us how we found the place, and then ignored our answer. We were abruptly seated with a smile straight off a sitcom. Five minutes later, our hipster waiter with a cartoon character on his shirt, beefy arms and almost no idea what the menu included, asked for our drink order (water) and he left. Five minutes later (or more) he returned with our water – apparently our non-drink buying was a deterrent. His other two tables were getting loaded (read – much better tips).

Upon Ordering: As usual, I asked  for recommendations, and while he couldn’t really tell me, his aloof demeanor was, again, right out of a sitcom. The table to our left (a tipsy older couple on a blind date) just had to tell him during our ordering (because they hadn’t seen him for 20 minutes) that the stir-fry was, “I kid you not, the best I’ve ever had!” So we ordered it. ($7)  He came back 10 minutes later dropped off the stir-fry in cereal sized bowl. After we finished it, he came back to get the rest of our order. Stuffed mushrooms with cashew cheeze ($8), the salad special (7?), and the stuffed avocado w/spicy seasoned walnuts, lettuce salad, salsa & cashew sour cream ($13).

The food took a while to come out. One. Plate. At. A Time. Let’s just say, the service was hilariously bad. It’s like they were trying to be bad because that’s hip.

mygoodcleanfood.comAnd now, the food.

I am not terribly picky, I’m really not, but consider the prices as I give you a rundown.

Stir-fry. $7, probably 1 cup of vegetables. No rice. Tasted like Rumbi teriyaki but with garbanzo beans in it. We kept looking for something to dip in the sauce. DEFINITELY not the best I’d had. In fact it wasn’t as good as the mountain of stir-fry I’d made the night before for the ruffians with the stuff in my fridge.

mygoodcleanfood.comStuffed Mushrooms. $8. Quantity 5. Seriously – five is the worst number for almost any table except one of, well, five. Said served warm, more tepid, and the flavor was uninspiring. And maybe it’s because I make cashew cheeze that I wasn’t blown away by the vegan-ness.

Salad. $7? It was small. The tomato vinaigrette was good. But it was half red onions and to say they were thinly sliced is like that guy at the gym telling you it’s all muscle. Big bites of spicy onion, standard mesclun mix, and three slices of a baby cucumber … three? Really?

mygoodcleanfood.commygoodcleanfood.com

And then, my favorite, the stuffed avocado. $13 Admire the above pictures. There may have been the equivalent of a whole small avocado on the plate. A large tablespoon of walnut stuffing with flavor that didn’t seem to land anywhere. Now, look closely at that awesome avocado. The bottom was cut off and still the big, fat bruise on it was visible. It was cold, always weird for avocado.

And still, after all four dishes, I was starving but unwilling to wait another hour or pay more money for mediocre food. We came home and had dinner.

There is a positive spin … it’s a gluten-free restaurant with raw dishes, and that’s cool, right?

Can I tell you the last part which is actually pretty funny? During the time our waiter took a year an a half drop-off, take and return our check and then return my phone which he’d left by the bar (I still feel uncomfortable with that), the slightly tipsy couple on the blind date  was ALSO waiting for Hipster Waiter guy, so they joined us. Literally, they pulled their chairs up to our table and divided my husband and I – just what I need on my once-every-few-months-date. The lovely woman thought the giant photograph of a cippolini onion looked like, well, it made me uncomfortable. I won’t even hint at her thoughts on the bell pepper.

 

Blossoms and Honey

apricot blossom 2

At our community garden, there are beautiful fruit trees that are loved and treated well and never sprayed. Nothing in our garden is.

apricot blossom 3

And there are bees that visit these beautiful fruit trees.

apricot blossom bee 3

And in August, when one of our local Farmers’ Markets FINALLY opens, you can buy their beautiful honey.

apricot blossom bee 5

The First Spring Honey is pale and lovely and minty and one of the most intensely wonderful things I’ve ever tasted.

apricot blossom 1

Now I know, I KNOW, many of you are strict vegans, and I COMPLETELY respect that, but I have a thing for these little guys and their products.

apricot blossom bee 1

There is something about participating in a very small, small circle of life that feeds us both.

apricot blossom bee 4

This year, in his own small patch of garden, my son is planting flowers.

the big kid

Not so much because he likes honey, but because to him, it is the right thing.

apricot blossom bee 2

Raw Vegan Sour Cream

cute nephew, right?

My nephew is almost 12 now, (5 in the picture above), but when he was 2 and more than a handful (no, seriously, he was tough), we lived in his basement. Sometimes, to give his parents a break, we’d have him down to visit and he’d help us make dinner. One of our common meals was guacamole and chips – super healthy, I know, in which we used just a “dollop” of sour cream.  My husband had a bit of a love affair with sour cream, so he’d always lick the spoon afterward. One time my cute nephew said, “I wike it, Nutsy!” anticipating a taste too, and so we gave him a little spoonful to try. Cute nephew gleefully took said spoonful into his mouth and immediately thereafter did that kid thing of just letting the food fall out of his mouth and said, “I don’t wike it, Nutsy!”

raw sour cream mimi kirk

We all miss sour cream just a little. I am not saying we’d take a spoonful like we used to, but it’s such a useful and versatile ingredient in baking, cooking, and adding just that little bit of tang to things like baked potatoes and burritos. I haven’t been happy with any of the store-bought ones, nor any of the recipes for tofu ones. So, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up Mimi Kirk’s “Live Raw” at the library (and one day I’ll own it) and flipping through found a recipe for sour cream.

mushroom stroganoff strawberry broken heart cake

So, I made it. And I didn’t soak my cashews because I have a Vita-Mix and that’s its job. And the second batch was better than the first for reasons I couldn’t tell you. And I used it a week and a half later and it was still fantastic – I think the probiotics actually make a big difference in curing it. And I only took a few pictures because I’m lame like that. But I have since used it in mushroom stroganoff (angels singing above), a strawberry coffee cake (I made two in three days and ate both of them), and topped potatoes (so good with chives!), burritos, and tacos happily with it. And Mimi said I could share it – thanks Mimi, you’re beautiful!

Raw Vegan Sour Cream

Ingredients:

1 c. cashews, soaked for 4 hours (optional if you have a power blender)
½ t. probiotics, for curing – I emptied two New Chapter probiotic capsules
1 t. light miso paste
¼ t. salt
3 T. lemon Juice
¾ – 1 c. water

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water if necessary. Place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Mixture thickens as it chills. To thin, add more water. To thicken add 2 T. Irish moss paste. Use anywhere you would sour cream.

 

FBAH: Slow-Cooker Lentil Soup aka my kids’ FAVORITE meal

lentilsoup3

What a way to launch the new website, eh? I’ve had a rough few weeks realizing that I must be very, very old in technical years (is that like dog years?) since I have no clue what I’m doing. Or maybe I’m technically young? All I know is life has been consumed by the fabrication of this not so fancy website. I don’t know how other people manage, but assume they hire someone much savvier in web skills.

KaleBut today is a big day. I am participating in Food Bloggers Against Hunger, a collaborative effort of more than 200 food bloggers attempting to bring awareness to the realities, and perhaps failings, of the American Food System. My head is full of things I want to say, but nothing is quite right, and so I leave you with this.

I believe not just with my intellect, but also my heart, that the Standard American Diet lies at the core of many of our greatest societal problems. The What AND the How. Do we eat as families or standing by the fridge or in our car? Do we have to play the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game to get our food to its whole and original state? Are the toxins in our food making us sick – not just the ones we put on, but the ones inherent – sugars, processed fats, animal proteins in excess? Do our children even know where food, REAL FOOD, comes from? Do bugs and dirt make them squeamish, do bees terrify them?

lentilsoup1When my kids publicly eat salad, fresh vegetables, or green smoothies with glee, I am frequently told I’m a lucky mom.

I am not a lucky mom. I work my TAIL off teaching my children.

I have spent countless hours growing, buying, and preparing wholesome food. Our most effective classrooms are our garden and our kitchen table. Smoothies are best when green. Farmers’ markets and produce co-ops are a way of life. I have taught them over and over again the most important truth about food, that our bodies are special and a MAGNIFICENT gift, and treating them poorly is wrong.

If everyone believed they were special enough to take care of, we would demand good food. Especially for our children. Everyone would, and it would make a difference.

my kids

My kids are special. So, so very special. My almost 6YO son’s favorite food is a raw red pepper. My daughter who turns three next week sneaks seaweed to the table. My baby knows the blender means food and eats everything I put on his tray, including the first food he happily ate … Lentil Soup. It is easy, totally affordable, homey, makes a TON, and I want to share it with you.

More information about Food Bloggers Against Hunger is below.

 

humble, brown lentil

Easy Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Yield 4 quarts (or more)

Ingredients:
1-2 T. olive oil (option)
2 Onions, chopped
5 Carrots, sliced
4 stalks Celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1-2 bay leaves
1-2 t. dried thyme leaves, or 3-4 sprigs fresh
2 c. brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 quarts broth equivalent:
2-3 T. vegan stock powder
1-2 T. vegetable base (I like Better than Bouillon’s)
1-2 cubes Rapunzel vegetable bouillon
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped (substitute: spinach)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Sauté onions, carrots and celery until soft, but not browned, over medium heat using oil or water-sauté method. Add garlic and cook quickly for 30 seconds. Dump the vegetables in your slow cooker, adding your bay leaves, dried thyme, lentils, and broth. Cook on high for 3 hours. Add tomatoes and salt, add more water if needed, and continue cooking for another hour or two until lentils are soft. Twenty minutes before serving, add kale and cook until just barely tender. Adjust salt and pepper, and serve.

Serve with homemade bread and salad.

*Cooking variations:

  • Without sautéing, add everything but the kale and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Add the kale just at the end.
  • After sautéing the vegetables, add everything but the kale to the slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours.
  • Stovetop: follow directions, but allow soup to simmer on the stove for 30-40 minutes instead of in your slow cooker, adding the kale at the last five minutes.

Use this link to send a letter to congress asking them to support anti-hunger legislation.

And watch “A Place at the Table” to learn more. Trailer here.