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

Matt’s birthday dessert – including the infamous hardshell Choc-Top

I’m about to introduce you to Choc-Top. It’s like the Magic Shell you used to get as a kid (or last year in our case – same thing really) and put on your ice cream, after which you would whack it with your spoon to see if you could shatter it. I think it was one of the best ice cream toppings. Ever. And I even learned to recreate it just before giving up dairy (for the most part, of course). I was afraid my efforts were wasted since I really don’t love most vegan ice cream substitutes. And it hurts to spend $6.99 on something you don’t really love.

That is until last month when faced with Matt’s birthday and his request for something cold and frozen for his birthday cake. Really? Isn’t it bad enough that his birthday is always right before Father’s Day? And I’d already failed in the present department – read: I bought him a belt, a boring brown belt. So, his cake was important. And you can’t just call up Cold Stone and get a vegan ice cream cake. Jerks.

So somehow, while perusing Sunflower with two of my screaming children, the inspiration came. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to buy a treat and I grabbed some Newman-Os. Okay, I get it. They may be vegan but soo not healthy, but since I was failing in present-land, I needed to succeed in treat-land.

And I was shopping hungry again. Fortunately, the soy ice cream was on sale, so I bought two pints with minimal cursing at the price.

To make this short story too long, I made a vegan ice cream cake with a bashed up Newman O crust (with some coconut oil to give it structure), two pints of soy ice cream, and Choc-Top on top in a spring form pan. I let the whole thing set up until singing time and belt present opening.

The results were very tasty, and it made a lovely ice cream cake that could not be consumed in one sitting by our family (thank goodness). But, I also learned a few things:

1 - Put the candles in when you pour in the Choc-Top or they are NEVER going in.

2 - Choc-Top is hard to cut, so if you have an electrically heated knife, use it. And if you have one, I’d really like to know, because I just made that up.

3 (Most Important) – If you try to cut the cake and the Choc-Top stays in place but the rest of it collapses, there may be a problem with your freezer. Take that opportunity on Father’s Day to clean out said freezer and throw a bunch of food away. Then consider that it might not be the freezer, but rather the ground-fault interrupt in the BATHROOM! that your daughter pushed for fun the other day that led to complete and total freezer melt-down. Literally.

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Choc-Top

9 oz (3/4 bag) Ghiradelli Semi-sweet morsels, or other vegan chocolate

1/4 c. unrefined coconut oil

In a heat proof bowl over simmering water (a double boiler, if you will), melt the two together and stir. Remove from heat. Lick the spoon.

Store in a glass jar at room temperature or pour immediately over preferred frozen treat, which will, of course, melt said treat but leave you with a really cool shell of chocolate where your treat once was. To return Choc-Top to a liquid state, place jar in bowl or cup of hot water. Betcha didn’t know it was that easy to have SO MUCH FUN!! You’ll probably start covering frozen bananas and ice cubes, and maybe even a cake. Just make sure your freezer is still working when you do.

Variations: add toasted nuts or coconut; replace unrefined with refined coconut oil and add a teaspoon or two of vanilla/almond/orange/peppermint extracts or a few drops of essential oil.

Why this works (in case you’re wondering): Coconut oil is solid to just above most room temperature, and liquid at 76 degrees or just higher. When added to something cold, it becomes hard, thanks to the solidity of the chocolate combined with the coconut oil. And they’re both super tasty, so why wouldn’t you combine them?

My 30-year old A/C and Grilled Portabello “Burgers”

We live in a two bedroom townhouse, and yes, it feels like we’re walking all over each other, but for several reasons we’re here for a few more years. We moved in between my last two law school finals three weeks before Turbo was born 5+ years ago with the intent to move in 3-5 years. Oops.

That said, my air conditioner is original (1980) and the design of our home makes circulation abysmal. We’re also sort of cheap  frugal, which translates into not running the A/C, thus making stove and oven use problematic. Somehow, the heat from those permeate our house within seconds, but the A/C can take all day to cool this place down – go figure.

And now that you have my HVAC history, you will understand why many of my upcoming posts have everything to do with our grill or outdoor cooking or un-cooking. On any given hot day, you might find a Crock Pot or a rice cooker going on the back deck, or the grill fired up to bake bread, grill pineapple, make pizza, cook up fajita veggies, or even make cobbler.

And, since vegan grilling seems to be an undiscovered art, I’m on my way to discover it. We’ve already covered some of the best vegan burgers on the planet, but they’re fussy and I don’t have time for fussy this summer. I need quick – super quick. And I need something that omnivore company can try without needing to go looking for bacon.

Enter the Grilled Portabello Mushroom Burger. Or is it Portabella? Nobody seems to agree, so we’ll not worry about it. Just eat it. It’s hearty, and meaty, and not trying to pretend it’s something else. Matt found the recipe and I veganized it, which didn’t take much effort. After three tries we still love them. Matt’s brave parents even ate them without complaint and confessed to liking them! So feel free to head to your cousin’s 4th of July barbeque with these in tow, and I promise even the most die-hard meat-eaters will look enviously in your direction. (And sorry the pictures are lousy – these deserve so, so much better.)

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Grilled Portabello Mushroom Burgers, Veganized!

  • 2 tablespoons brown spicy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (probably optional, but use 1-2 T, then add water to 1/2 c, then emulsify)
  • 1 teaspoon Real salt (local first!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • Loaf of Somer’s Seeded Sandwich bread, sliced 1/2 -3/4″ thick – see modifications below
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • Lettuce – enough leaves to make it count
  • 1 tomato, sliced thin
  • Any other tasty veggies – roasted red pepper, sprouts, cukes – all would be tasty

Directions

Combine mustard, vinegar, oil or oil and water mixture. salt, pepper and hot sauce in blender, and whiz up until combined, Reserve two tablespoons of marinade and set aside. Place caps into a baking dish and pour remaining marinade over top. Use a brush to make sure all caps are covered with the marinade. Set aside and let marinate up to 2 hours, but 15 minutes will do.

Remove the portobellos from marinade and place gill side down on a preheated gas, electric or charcoal grill over medium-high heat. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side – longer if mushrooms are super fresh, fat and juicy.

In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup vegan mayo and the 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade.

Spread the flavored mayonnaise onto sliced bread and top with portobellos. Serve with sliced onion, lettuce and tomato.It will drip and be soggy, so lean over and keep a napkin handy!

My sweet Mods to Somer’s seeded sandwich bread:

Makes 2-9×5 loaves, a bit squat, but that’s okay. And seriously, this bread is so fast that it’s faster to make than to go to the store, especially with three kids! And cheaper since I don’t buy anything else…

Quick Sandwich Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 4 C. whole wheat flour (I grind organic hard white wheat pretty fine, which keeps it light)
  • 2 C. unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • Scant 1 T. active dry yeast
  • 2 heaped t. Real salt
  • 2 2/3 C. warm water
  • 3 T. vital wheat gluten (extra to make up for all-purpose flour instead of bread flour)
Directions:
In your kneading apparatus or with your hands, combine flours, yeast, salt, vital wheat gluten and water. Knead for 10 minutes or until elastic and smooth. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two 9×5 loaf pans with parchment paper (like a sling) and spray the ends of the pans with non-stick spray. Divide in half and shape into two long skinny loaves, pressing them into the loaf pans so the dough is pushed into the corners and even. Let rest for 20 minutes. Brush top of loaves with a bit of olive oil, and using a serrated knife slash diagonally a few times across the top to keep it from breaking open while baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45, minutes or until crust is golden brown. You can also put some hot water in a pan in the oven to help it rise just a bit more – one of those no-knead artisan bread tricks. Remove from pans and let cool on cooling rack (you don’t want soggy bread). 

Tasty Tuesday Series: Ragnar Recovery

So I’m back at home, rested and over the Cafe Rio fiasco. I’ve been drinking recovery green smoothies with maca like a fool and downing shots of wheat grass like it’s nobody’s business.

Erika and I at the finish line

Race Lowlights:

Using Honey Buckets for more than 30 hours straight

Getting the ‘runs’ during my 9 mile unsupported downhill mountain leg due to a questionable coconut water beverage I consumed at the first exchange. Let’s just say I was grateful for some bushes to offer cover and that what I used to ahem, clean myself, was NOT poison ivy

Having to have Steve take over for the last 3 miles of said above downhill leg because I couldn’t finish it

Telling Erika gleefully that we were having whole grain waffles for breakfast then remembering she is on a grain restricted diet for another week. Sorry!

Race Highlights:

Hanging out with some of my very best friends while running through some of the most beautiful terrain ever, what could be more fun than that?

Christina getting interviewed by local news while wearing her light up Medusa hairdo

The dude that kept flashing his nipple at us while running as Erika and I made catcalls out to him out of the back of the truck

Finishing with no black toenails and no vomiting

Eating Amanda’s giant homemade Larabar

Sleeping at Steve’s Cabin for a few hours and eating Sue’s spaghetti dinner she makes every year

Eating Oreo’s for the first time in months, because, hey they’re vegan and junk food at Ragnar once a year won’t kill me

Not being crazy sore or stiff after the race (thank’s plant-based diet!)

These Carb-Load Rolls I make every year for Ragnar (sorry, we ate them, no photos)

Ragnar Carb-Load Fruited Nut Rolls

Ingredients: 2 C. white whole wheat flour, 2 C. unbleached organic flour, 2 C. rolled oats, 1/4 C. vital wheat gluten, 2.5 c. warm soymilk, 1 T. coconut oil, 1/2 C. dried blueberries, 1/2 C. dried cranberries, 1/2 C. dried zante currants, 1 C. chopped pecans, 1/4 C. agave, 1 t. cinnamon, 1.5 T. heaped active dry yeast and 1 T. salt. Method: Combine all ingredients in kneading apparatus (I use my bread-maker) and let knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Remove dough, divide into 24 pieces. Place side by side on a large cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place for about an hour. Rolls should be touching. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

More photos and details coming on Somer Saturday

Carb Loading – Somer Saturday

I’ts Somer Saturday and I have been either been intentionally or unintentionally carb loading for my Ragnar Relay Race Next weekend. Not really sure which one, but I am really, really loving carbs at the moment.

Pretzel Rolls: Adapted & veganized from this recipe here.  3 C. White whole wheat flour, 1 C. organic unbleached flour, 1 t. salt, 1 1/4 C. warm almond milk, 1/2 C. warm water, 2 t. active dry yeast, 2 T. vital wheat gluten, kosher salt for sprinkling. In a breadmaker or other kneading apparatus (possibly your hands) knead all the above for 10 minutes. Let rise for 30 minutes. Divide into 12 rolls or 8 hamburger buns (for the best vegan Scott Jurek burger ever). Let rise for 15 more minutes. In the meantime boil 2 quarts (8 cups) water with 1 T. kosher salt and 4 T. baking soda. Poach 3 rolls at a time for one minute, turning over halfway through until all are poached. Remove with a slotted spoon. Slash each roll 3 times across the top with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and some sesame seeds. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes for rolls or 25-30 minutes for hamburger buns. Please use parchment paper to bake on, otherwise you will need a chisel and a hammer and quite possibly ruin your favorite baking sheet. I also made a sourdough version later in the week by replacing 1 C. Sourdough starter for 1/2 c. of the liquid and 1/2 C. of the flour. INSANE.

Kristy’s Vegan M&M Cookies. I baked them for 2 minutes less than she recommended, because I like super soft cookies. There aren’t any left. BOO! I also used leftover dairy free chocolate beans I got for my kids for Easter from a Jewish Kosher online store because the one’s Kristy used are no longer available (I would provide you with a link, but can’t find it). These would also be crazy good with Vegan Chocolate Chips!

And finally….. Vegan Sourdough Pancakes: I did an “In the in the pan shot” because look! I had to show you that they behave like normal (non-vegan) pancakes do! Getting dry at the edges and bubbles bursting when ready to flip. It nearly made me cry! Plus they were the fluffiest vegan pancakes I have made to date!

Ingredients: 1.5 C. sourdough starter, 3/4 C. White whole wheat flour, 3/4 C. Soymilk, 1 t. baking soda, 1 t. baking powder.

Method: Whisk until just combined. Cook over medium heat in lightly oiled skillet. Makes 4 giant pancakes or 8-12 smaller pancakes. Top with fruit of choice and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

p.s. if you want to start your own sourdough starter, google it. I’m not an expert. Carolyn gave me mine and I think I nearly killed it. I did recently however convert it to a 100% whole wheat starter and it is currently a normal color and doing well in my fridge at the moment since I have stopped neglecting it.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the most recent nomination for Good Clean Food! Thanks Kristy at Keepin it Kind, for your cookie recipe and the nomination!!! I’m pretty sure she is a fellow runner and carboholic. ;) Love her!

Are you carb loading for any races at the moment too?

Vegan Hot & Sour Soup & The Breadmaker “Aha” Moment

It’s Somer Saturday and I figured 6 days in the raw was plenty. I admit I did end up sneaking a slice a toast, but I will tell you more about that in a minute. Part of my motivation for going raw was that my kids and I got pink eye, a vomiting bug and colds all in one week (maybe it was some insanely mean super virus?)….And my husband was out of town for most of it (lucky him). I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t eaten raw I would have laid in bed most of the week, but instead I was able to function fairly well. Then the icing on the cake, Friday afternoon while playing on the play-set swings in my backyard with my 3 year old, we had a collision of sorts and I ended up nearly putting my tooth through my bottom lip. I shall spare you the gory details, but let you know that I typically handle other people’s injuries amazingly well, I’m like a superhero and always know what to do with a calm and collected manner. However, when it comes to my own blood, especially copious amounts of it, not so much… it’s like kryptonite. I get woozy, and I nearly faint. Anywho….It was this “kick in the head” that motivated me to break the raw fast and eat something warm, comforting and easily slurpable past a fat lip.

Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

4 C. Vegetable Stock

2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)

1 T. miso (I used yellow, pretty sure most varieties will do)

dash or two of cayenne pepper

1 C. shitake mushrooms, slivered

2 T. Cornstarch

1/2 package Mori Nu silken tofu (extra firm) cut into 1/2 inch dice

2 T. finely grated ginger

3 scallions, sliced on the diagonal

3 T. rice vinegar

1 small can bamboo shoots, drained

1 small can water chestnuts, drained

1 t. sesame oil

pinch raw sugar

2 T. wood ear mushrooms (Chinese fungi, if you can’t find them, just omit them)

Method: Add all ingredients to soup pot. Bring to a low boil then let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes over low heat. Great for a swift kick to the head, colds or whatever else ails you.

Now for the Breadmaker “Aha” moment. My friend Emmy at emmycooks.com posted a breadmaker recipe this week. In her post she asked if anyone had a 100% whole wheat breadmaker loaf, and if they would like to share the recipe. Well, as you know I had posted a 100% whole wheat sandwich loaf recipe earlier this week. I decided to scale it down and test it out start to finish in my breadmaker to see how it would fare, on the express function. That’s right folks, 100% whole wheat vegan sandwich loaf in less than an hour flat (58 minutes to be precise). It would take more time, money, stress and gas $$ to drive to the store,  select the loaf, pay for it, and drive home. FOR REALS. Now you know why I had to cheat on my raw food week and have a slice of toast. AMAZING! Here is the scaled down version in case you don’t want to do the math ;)

Breadmaker Express 100% Whole Wheat Vegan Sandwich Loaf

1.5 C. warm water

2 C. whole wheat flour (from hard red winter wheat)

1 C. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

2 T. agave or pure maple syrup

1.5  heaping t. yeast (each measured and heaped individually)

2 T. vital wheat gluten (great for higher rise, less dense bread)

1.5  t. kosher salt

1.5 t. lecithin (make sure yours is soy based, makes bread soft without the addition of oil)

Method: Dump all ingredients into a bread-maker. Press express function. Walk away. Return in 58 minutes for delicious hot bread. Huzzah!

A Week in the Raw

It’s Tasty Wednesday Tuesday and many of you all ready know that I live in Utah, what you may not know is that my particular city should be named “Kidville”. There are literally over a thousand children in my subdivision. It’s fabulous and all the kids are always out and about riding bikes, playing at the parks and sharing lots and lots of germsWe get sick more often since moving into this neighborhood than we ever have before. Vomiting, colds, flus, pink eye, rsv, Montezuma’s revenge, you name it, we get it. There are a few nasty bugs going around at the moment and we caught them too :/ so in an attempt to strengthen my immune system and help me heal faster, I have been eating entirely raw for the last few days. I’m planning on eating raw for the rest of the week. I have to say that I don’t think I would be surviving otherwise. Raw foods provide far more nutrients than cooked and give the body more energy. I wish I was cool enough to eat raw all the time, but I’m not, and frankly, I like cooked food, a lot. However, I think eating “high-raw” is sustainable and really good for our bodies.

It’s not really that hard and you don’t need a half-naked Juliano cookbook to do it either (I used to own that book, some of the photos are….well, Juliano nearly in the buff, shopping, playing in the ocean, but not cooking, because that would just be gross).

I’m juicing, eating lots of fruits on their own, making big ol’ salads with raw dressings I whiz up in my blendtec. I’m more than a little obsessed with chia seeds too at the moment, maybe it’s because I recommended Born to Run to a friend, then  I had to start re-reading it again myself because it’s awesome.

Here are a couple of raw chia recipes I’m LOVING right now:

Raw Overnight Neopolitan Oats

Holy Crap, it’s like the best dessert ever for breakfast, this is adapted from this much cuter than mine recipe here, but my adaptation is fully raw.

1 C. oat groats (use certified gluten free for gluten free option)

4 T. chia seeds

2 1/2 C. raw almond or raw cashew milk (I used cashew milk, drool)

2 T. raw cacao powder

2 t. raw agave (or to taste)

1 t. vanilla extract (oops, not raw)

2 sliced frozen bananas

4 sliced frozen strawberries

Method: BEFORE YOU GO TO BED: Blend oat groats in blender or grind in coffee grinder until fine. Get out two pint-sized mason jars. Put half  of the ground oat groats in each jar. Add 2 T. chia seeds to each jar, 1 1/4 C. nut milk to each jar and 1 t. raw agave to each jar. Add the raw cacao powder to one of the jars and the vanilla extract to the other. Now you have chocolate and vanilla. Put lids on and shake until well combined. Put in fridge. IN THE MORNING: get out your food processor and put your frozen bananas in it with a splash of nut milk. Process until creamy. Mmms. Remove half of the mixture and set aside. Add frozen strawberries to the food processor and process the same way. Now you have raw strawberry and banana ice creams FOR BREAKFAST. Layer and alternate ice creams, and chocolate and vanilla overnight oats in mason jars or fancy cups. Serve with fresh fruit. I didn’t because I hadn’t been to the store because we were sick and I only had frozen fruit. This should serve 2, but I stretched it to serve 3. I was sorry I didn’t have any leftovers at lunch time.

Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 C. raw cashew milk (you could also use raw almond milk)

3 T. chia seeds

1 T. raw cacao powder

2 t. raw agave

Method: Combine all ingredients with a wire whisk until cacao is fully incorporated. Let sit on the counter top for an hour or so. I thought this would serve two, I also thought I would take a photo before eating it all. Wrong on both accounts.

I have also been growing my own wheat kamut grass, it’s not all that difficult, but since I’m a total novice and nearly killed it because I hadn’t watered it enough, I shall refer you to this post if you so desire to grow your own.  I’m  absolutely in love with it! The juice of the grass gives me instant energy and clarity and I even like it’s grassy taste. You can almost feel the cells inside your body healing when you drink it. Try it, you might like it.