Somer Breaks Up with Good Clean Food

What do I say? It’s not you ladies here at Good Clean Food, it’s me. This is a decision you know I’ve been wrestling with for a while. You’ve given me all the love and support a girl could ever want. I love your guts.

I’ve started my own site,

Vedged Out

I hope you’ll come visit me there.

xoxo-

Somer

ETW: Kneaders Bakery and Cafe

I used to LOVE Kneaders! What’s not to love about gourmet crispy artisan breads, insane amounts of delicious desserts, scrumptious sandwiches, soups and salads?!? Top that off with a cozy, cutesy, Utah atmosphere (ok, maybe not my style), but our location does have a lovely fireplace.

Um, all the love was before I went vegan. Aside from all the delicious breads, now there are only 3 things I can order off the menu and even two of those I have to customize. Now I just kinda like the place. Especially since during a recent drive thru visit I ordered a sandwich and got home to find it had huge chunks of turkey breast all over it. Boo! Although I have to hand it to them, they did remedy the situation and replace my sandwich.

My visit this week was free of any of that drama. ;) I met my husband there for lunch without the kids. A rare treat! I ordered the Veggie Avocado Sandwich for $5.99 (same one I always order, it’s still a mystery how the turkey appeared on it the last time).

I ordered it on the Hazelnut 12 Grain Bread, which is every bit as good as it sounds. I add cranberry sauce (free, bonus!), and dijon and leave off the kneaders sauce (mayo based) and provolone. If you ask nicely, they will put cucumber slices on it too, but I forgot this time. It’s a really good sandwich, but usually leaves me a bit hungry and wishing I had asked for one of their tasty dill pickles on the side. (Hey, I’m like Amanda, I eat like a horse).

My husband ordered the Large Green Avocado Salad: here’s the menu description:

LARGE GREEN AVOCADO
$7.19
MADE FRESH TO ORDER, SERVED WITH SIDE OF BREAD, CROUTONS OR ROLL. Spring mix, ranch dressing, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, red onions, avocado.
Of course we ordered it without cheese, and we substituted their poppyseed dressing for the ranch. I’ve got to figure out a lower cal-version of the poppyseed goodness, I’ll let you know when I do!
The salad was everything that was described, however it was a bit small, especially for a salad with LARGE in the title, too small for the $7 + bucks we paid for it and it was really quite plain. Kneaders has heaps of veggies and fruits in their kitchen, this salad could really use a revamp since it’s their only salad without meat on the menu. Grapes, orange segments, sunflower seeds, broccoli and roasted bell peppers were ingredients I saw elsewhere on the menu that would have added nicely to this salad. My husband found himself so bored with it that he ended up eating half my sandwich (which is probably why I left hungry).
I really had wanted to order this:
PANINI | PORTABELLA GRILLE ON CIABATTA
$7.59
SERVED HOT WITH PICKLE AND PARMESAN CHIPS. WHOLE SANDWICHES ONLY. A fresh portabella mushroom, zucchini squash, red peppers, red onion grilled with lemon garlic sauce, ricotta and parmesan cheese.
I asked for it without the cheeses and parmesan chips of course, but apparently the Panini’s are pre-made and they were unwilling or un-able to make one as a special order for me. Bummer, sounds stinking delicious.
The other menu item that is vegan that we could have ordered was the No Dairy Berry Smoothie, but we couldn’t be bothered and found ourselves ducking out to Roxberry’s afterwards for double wheatgrass shots instead.
I would love to see Kneader’s get more vegan options on their menu (including desserts PLEASE!). Also, their menu titles could use some re-tooling, their Orange Citrus Salad sounded delightful, but when I asked what was on it, I found it contains chicken AND three cheeses AND bacon, in fact their on-line menu mentions bacon twice…..

One for the Road. Vegan Mini Chocolate Cashew Cheezcakes

Photo Courtesy of Annie at An Unrefined Vegan

Many of you know how much I love Annie at An Unrefined Vegan. When she asked me to develop a chocolate version of this recipe to take with her and feed the masses at her brother Charles’ memorial this weekend, I jumped up at the ready. You see, I’d all ready been planning to make Chocolate Cheezcake from the moment of the first recipe’s inception. It had to be a recipe that would freeze well, since she would be taking it in coolers for a trek to the desert. Indeed, it may even be tastier partially frozen, and as I’m unable to be there physically to support her, creating this recipe was the least I could do. And if I may toot my own horn, they WILL blow you away with how much they taste exactly like chocolate cheesecake, I think they make the original cheezcake “pale” in comparison.

Mini Chocolate Cashew Cheezcakes, “Milk” or Dark Directions
1/4 Package Pomona’s Pectin, instructions below
1 1/4 C. Raw Cashews
1/2 C. Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Chips
2 T. C. Cocoa Powder (optional, add for dark chocolate version only)
1/4 C. Agave, or for less sweetness, one half of 1/3 C. (however much the heck that is)
1 T. Lemon Juice
1 C. Boiling Water, plus additional cool water for calcium packet in pectin
1/8 t. Sea Salt
6 Whole Graham Cracker Sheets, I used these vegan ones, but hey, there’s no shame in using gluten free substitute or a half pack of Newman-O’s instead ;)
1/4 C. Earth Balance OR Coconut Oil, melted
6 Strawberries, halved (Annie’s brilliant addition)
Shaved Cacao Nibs or Dark Chocolate Shavings (another one of Annie’s brilliant additions)
12 Foil Lined Cupcake Liners
Photo Courtesy of Annie at An Unrefined Vegan
Method: Make crust first. Break up graham crackers or Newman-O’s, place in food processor, then process until uniform and crumbly. Add melted earth balance or coconut oil. Pulse until combined. Using a cupcake tin and the foil liners, put a heaped spoonful of graham mixture into the bottom of each of the 12 cups. Press with the bottom of a spoon to compact it and get a uniform surface. Make calcium water by adding 1/2 C. Water to a small jar, add the calcium powder and shake until combined. Set asidePlace cashews in blender (you may need to pre-soak these for a few hours if you don’t have a power blender), add chocolate chips, agave, lemon juice and sea salt, also add cocoa powder at this point if using. Pour boiling water over the mixture and blend til completely smooth. Add 2 1/4 teaspoons of pomona’s pectin to the mix and blend again til smooth. Quickly shake the calcium water again and pour 2 T. of it into the mix and blend again. (Please save the rest of the Pomona’s pectin for jam making or a 3/4 batch of cashew cheeze!) Immediately pour into the tins, you should have a scant 1/4 C. filling for each cheezcake. Place a halved strawberry on each cheezcake and sprinkle with shaved cacao nibs. Cover with plastic wrap (I like the press and seal variety). Freeze until solid. Defrost for 20 minutes before serving.
Photo Courtesy of Annie at An Unrefined Vegan
Annie has ran the Little Grand Canyon10K with Charles for the last couple of years. Since we’re not there to run it with her this weekend, maybe you wouldn’t mind mirroring her run and joining me for a “Run for Charles’ Memorial” at 6am on Saturday or anytime this weekend to support her.
Love, Somer.

The Truth Behind Erika’s Migraine Diagnosis

Okay, so Erika said angels were singing and all of you were giving me lots of praise.

It’s time to come out with the truth.

Yes, I started really praying for Erika and her migraine situation, she was scaring the crap out of me. Who in the heck has a migraine for 12 days!?!

The next morning, my brother Clint who lives in Switzerland sent me an email, we had been discussing back and forth his family’s transition to a plant-based diet (yay, another conversion!) Then he sent me this crazy You Tube.

Watch it without busting out laughing if you can, when did this dude last wash his hair? Does he smell as bad as he looks? Is he high on wheat grass or something else? Halfway through watching it the alkaline light came on and I started searching for the link between migraines and acidosis, the rest is history.

For more on wheatgrass, check out this post, it’s ridiculously easy to grow.

Peace Out-

Somer

The Adventures, Disasters and Redemption of Bravo!

Let me just preface this post by saying that the review of this poor vegan cookbook was doomed from the start…

It arrived a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to receive a copy to review and left it on the counter-top and meant to give it a proper read through once I put the littles to bed. When the house was quiet, I went to retrieve it and it wasn’t there. No biggie, things often disappear in this house- only to resurface at some later point. Like clockwork, a few days later, while doing doggy doo doo duty in the yard I spied it beneath the kids playset. It was warped with water damage from the sprinklers and the edges were a bit chewed on by my dog, but otherwise it was perfectly legible and usable. I could blame my toddler or my dog, but I really think it was a conspiracy between the two of them.

I LOVE Ramses story, he was an overweight, worn out chef that was presented with an opportunity to work as Executive Chef at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California. This particular health center happens to focus on a very clean, plant-based diet. Ramses calls his food SOS Free (no sugar, oil or salt). I also figured out that the book is pretty much gluten free as well. As you can imagine, Ramses experienced his own personal transformation once he adopted the same diet he was preparing for his clientele at TrueNorth. He lost weight, gained energy and vitality.

The cookbook is formatted well, is easily searchable and has many excellent suggestions for adding flavor to food without the evil trinity mentioned above. There are plenty of color and black and white photographs too, which I find extremely helpful in a cookbook.

Unfortunately I must have been having an off day in my kitchen when I decided to do some major recipe testing. I made the Coconut Vanilla Granola (page 36,) and the fixins’ for Black Bean Tamale Pie (page 106)  which included Tamale Dough (page 34) and Black Bean Stew (page 98). At the end of the day I also made the Orange Cinnamon Rice Pudding (page 125).

So, the Coconut Vanilla Granola, was pretty good but didn’t completely knock my socks off. (I have super high expectations from calorie dense food, even if it doesn’t contain sugar or oil). It had a really long cook time (1.5 hours, due to the amount of liquid in the recipe), I also found that the amount of granola (more than 10 cups) really needed two large rimmed baking sheets that needed rotation in the oven instead of the one recommended in the recipe. It surprised me however, by being even tastier on day 2.

Oh man, where do I start with the Black Bean Tamale Pie? The beans were somewhat lackluster, but this is more likely due to my inability source epazote and kick my very real salt addiction (something discussed here on this page on the TrueNorth site, under “Adjusting to the Diet“) then a recipe flaw. I stuck to the no salt rule though and ended up adding 2 t. crushed red pepper flakes for an additional kick. The tamale dough on the other hand was a complete disaster. It was more like a runny pancake batter than a hearty tamale dough. I tried to rescue it by turning it into cornbread instead, but the cornbread baked up like a bitter-tasting brick. I don’t like to throw things away in my kitchen, but the whole shebang ended up in the garbage. A very sad event.

At 10pm I made a last-ditch effort to make something really tasty out of the cookbook. This is where the Orange Cinnamon Rice Pudding comes in. Since I didn’t want to stand around for another two hours while it cooked, I dumped everything in my crockpot, gave it a taste (absolutely delicious) and went to bed. Of course fate would have it that it was burnt to a crisp the next morning. My poor crock pot may never be the same.

Not wanting to blast a fellow plant-based diet lover, I emailed Chef Ramses Bravo and told him about the tamale dough. (the other failures were all my fault) I wanted to know if the measurements in the book were wrong. Almost immediately, he sent me back this very helpful reply.

“Hello Somer, Thank you for the interest in my book, I really appreciate it. As for the tamale dough recipe, you are correct in that the amount of broth should end up at 4.5 cups after reduction. It should not end up however like pancake batter. The blended sunflower seeds should have a paste consistency. It should not be watery at all. When we make it here at True North it is very much like regular tamale dough. We actually use the same batter to make tamales or the tamale pie. When we make it for tamale pie the end result is somewhat thick, it is not meant to be fluffy. Tamales do come out fluffy, but that’s because they go in the steamer. I’m not sure if this helps or not, I hope it does. You can always email me with any more questions you might have. By all means, review the book as you experience it.”

So, afterwards, I’m standing in my pantry trying to figure out what the heck went wrong, I’m typically fairly competent in the kitchen despite what you might think while reading this post. A light-bulb went on in my head.

Duh Somer, everything in your pantry is in glass containers and NOT labeled. You mixed up the masa harina for the finely ground corn meal.

Anyone who has worked with either flour knows that one is much more absorbent than the other. Hence the pancake batter issue.

Back to the drawing board.

I’m so grateful I gave these recipes another chance. What a difference a day can make!

Orange-Cinnamon Rice Pudding

recipe used permission of Book Publishing Company

4 C. unsweetened apple juice

1 C. short grain brown rice

Zest and juice from 1 orange

1/4 C. raisins

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1/t. alcohol-free vanilla extract

2 C. unsweetened soymilk

1/4 C. almonds, toasted and crushed

Method: The book calls for cooking this on the stove-top, which is too difficult for me while chasing a three year old. I pulled out a different non-burnt crockpot (you know you’re a Mormon when you have crockpots in four different sizes). I added all ingredients except the soymilk and vanilla. I cooked it on high for three hours, then stirred it, turned the heat to low and added the soymilk. I cooked it on low for another hour and then turned it off and added the vanilla. Chill for 8 hours or overnight before serving. This recipe was insanely good!

Tamale Dough and Method

recipe used permission of Book Publishing Company

9 C. vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

1 t. granulated garlic

1 t. granulated onion

3/4 C. sunflower seeds soaked in cold water for 3 hours (I used cashews, I was out of sunflower seeds)

4 C. masa harina (NOT corn meal people)!

2 1/2 t. baking powder

3/4 C. raw tahini (I used up all my tahini trying to make the first batch so I used raw cashew butter), which I think solved the bitterness issue of the first doomed batch.

Method: Put the broth, granulated garlic and granulated onion in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Let cool until lukewarm. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of liquid.

Drain the sunflower seeds (or cashews) saving 1/2 cup of the soaking water. Put the seeds in a food processor and process into a smooth paste, adding the soaking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed.

Combine all ingredients using an electric stand mixer (I used my food processor with the dough blade), mix for five minutes or so until dough is nice and fluffy and combined.


I filled the tamales with the leftover black bean stew from the night before, but you could use vegan refried beans, lentils, or whatever floats your boat. I’m thinking about fajita veggies and pepperjack cashew cheez next time, AND THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME. Wrap them up in corn husks and steam in a steamer basket for 60 minutes. Serve with salsa. I couldn’t wait and ate mine directly out of the husks. Unbelievably delicious, without any of the dryness issues I encountered last time I tried to make tamales without refined oil!

p.s. my husband doesn’t even like tamales (Australians have a hard time appreciating real Mexican food). He worshiped these.

A special thanks to Ramses Bravo for his time and to the Book Publishing Company for giving me the opportunity to review this book. Despite my kitchen failures, (again, all my fault!) I highly recommend it and hope that it will help me break my own salt addiction! I can’t wait to try ALL the salad dressings, the Breakfast Potatoes, the Tortilla Soup, the Mango Banana Pie and more!

See even more on Chef Bravo’s Facebook page here!

GREEN ABE

Forward: This is my brother Abe’s post, but I have to say it was pretty cool to spend a week with him doing the Green Smoothie Challenge. Alcoholism runs in our family, so I can’t tell you how proud I am of Abe that he was able to kick drinking to the curb during the challenge (and hopefully forever). I think this awesome book helped him. No twitching on the bathroom floor involved.

Hiking the tram via Gad Valley and Peruvian Gulch Trails at Snowbird with Abe

Abe here, The green smoothie challenge rocked! The first few days where challenging, [um, yeah Abe, that's why it's called a challenge] but by about day 3 it felt awesome and natural.

Moose Butt

I felt an amazing amount of focus and a big boost in confidence. Also I felt a renewed natural energy that I have not felt in a long time.

As for alcohol – I am done. The only thing that stuff has ever done for me is gave me a headache and a fat ass. I’m even done with caffeine. For now on I’m only getting high on exercise and whole foods! [Abe exercised every day on the challenge, weights, hiking and running].

Menu for the week

Saturday – Green Smoothies with Spinach, banana, and mixed tropical frozen fruit. Raw Veggies and Hummus Dip. Moroccan Lentil Soup.

Sunday – Green Smoothies with Kale, Banana, Lemon and Blueberries. Salads. Leftover Moroccan Lentil Soup.

Monday – Green Smoothies with Kale, Beets, Ginger, Blueberries and Banana (Abe’s Favorite), Broiled Tofu Steaks and Stir Fried veggies

Tuesday – Green Smoothies with Spinach, Peaches and Bananas, Salad with Garbanzo beans, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, farm fresh tomatoes and basil, Cheezy Smoky Spicy Black Bean Soup.

Wednesday – Green Smoothies with Kale, bananas and blueberries, Lettuce Wraps with broiled Korean BBQ tofu, carrot, scallions, cucumber and mint.

Thursday – Green Smoothies with Spinach, Bananas and tropical fruit, Panang Curried Eggplant and Okra stir fry.

Friday – Green Smoothie with lots of beets and kale (Somer couldn’t get it down), and breaking the challenge over lunch at O’Falafel with our parents and our brother Curtis. [Amanda was right], just get the falafel sandwich in the whole wheat pita. It’s the best thing on the menu. Vacation was over for me at that point. But I’m back at home and still plant-based and sober.

Love your guts Abe.

-Somer