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.

Carrots, Unleashed (Carrot Butter?)

Carrot Butter is a weird sounding food, unless you’ve been to Sage’s Cafe in downtown SLC. Then, it sounds heavenly

The first time we went to Sage’s we had no idea it was a vegan restaurant and we were, quite honestly, relatively unimpressed with one exception. This was many years ago. We have been back many times now, and while the food is always tasty and we try something different every time (or the same thing we had before but forgot how we liked it), we always go back for the same thing. And every time I recommend Sage’s or someone asks what is good, I always say they must, MUST, get the Carrot Butter.

And what’s the deal? Apparently, it’s pick your favorite animal week here at GCF. We have two rat-bags and a “green” frog. This totally works though, because in my house, my five year old insists that we always choose an animal to be for the daywhen we wake up in the morning. So, today I pick a copy-cat (love your creations Chef Ian – I just need them family-sized!). So, with a bit of internet searching and a little tweaking, I’ve mastered this beautiful, NEON ORANGE creation. I sent my husband a picture of the Vitamix full of orange stuff, and he told me it might freak people out to know this was food. When he got home and saw the Vosen’s seeded baguette, he knew dinner would be amazing. At least for the grown-ups. (This is not a kid-approved recipe, which I totally don’t get because it’s sweet. And neon orange. What’s not to like?)

Then I brought some down to Somer’s for her post-birthday bash. It seemed to go over pretty well. (Her text tonight said this: Can’t. Stop. Eating. Carrot. Butter.) Erika was a bit thrilled with it as well, and told me I HAD to post it soon. I sorta wish I’d taken pictures today since we made lovely open-faced sandwiches with fresh garden vegetables on crusty bread. So, so good.

So, here is the scoop:

Sage’s Carrot Butter

1 ¼ lb. (about 6-7 medium) carrots, peeled, small dice
¾ c. macadamia nuts
¼ c. safflower or canola oil
2 T. maple syrup
½ T. salt
½ – 1 t. vanilla, to taste

Directions:

  • Steam carrots until very tender, 20-30 minutes depending on how small you dice them. Reserve about ½ c. of your steaming water
  • Place carrots, nuts, oil, maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and ¼ c. reserved water in blender or food processor. Let it rip until the texture is very smooth, almost the consistency of fluffy frosting. A Vitamix or Blendtec will do the job handily, but I make no claims to the performance of other apparatuses – consider soaking your macadamias if you’re ripping without super-blender.
  • Serve on crusty seeded baguette with cucumbers, or on a spoon. It also makes a delicious sandwich spread or cucumber spread (that’s how Erika ate hers since she’s giving wheat the crusty eye these days).

Off the Beaten Path & Happiness in a Cookie Bite

Maybe I’m crazy… maybe I’m strange… but I have to say that this morning, I was unimpressed with the local morning news show. In fact, I was about ready to throw a shoe at the tv screen. But THAT would have been crazy, and destructive.

On the news roll:

Diet Coke: For 10 minutes I was told about the miracles of diet coke and the genius of new flavorings. Since EVERYBODY drinks it, now I will want to drink it even more because of said flavorings. The speaker even went far enough to compare this diet coke with a refreshing glass of cold water after a long run. Say what?!?

Party Decorations: Cut up a ton of plastic tablecloths to make tassels for balloons, the more tassels the better. Sure, a waste of plastic, but that’s not what irked me. They then went into the helium shortage saying that I need to search all over to find the helium and then use the VERY LARGEST balloons I can find because they are all the rage. So shortage= increased consumption. Awesome.

Diet coke: again! Every report included more comments about the miracle of diet coke. Over and over. Best part, the name of the recipe was the “DIRTY COKE.” Go figure. If only it were for the right reasons.

How to fill small empty spaces in your home: if you have an empty corner, fill it! Must have more stuff!

Eat more hotdogs: Garnishes. Where to buy the best ones. How to cut them creatively. Not a huge deal, people eat meat. But once again, not applicable to me.

I don’t drink diet coke. I would rather use fresh cut flowers than super-size helium balloons. And I am always on the hunt for more things to purge from our home in the name of simplicity. And hot dogs? Bleh.

I know I am not “normal.” But am I really THAT strange? So I’m mormon, vegan, running, nature loving momma. Honestly, I’m ok with that. In fact I feel like I am living true to myself and what I believe. It’s a good thing. No regrets.

Now for a recipe!  My fantastically talented step-mom Kim is a kitchen wiz and found a version of this recipe (she has an eye for a good recipe.) I switched to unsweetened coconut, added cinnamon, used almond instead of peanut butter and added sea salt (since we use unsalted nut butters.) I know we have other no-bake cookie options on this site but this is our family’s new favorite. It has been perfect for the kids cold lunches and a great way to get extra protein and omegas into their growing little bodies. The kids happily eat them up in moments, though I may help a little. 🙂

Happiness in a Cookie Bite

1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almond butter
1/4 c. liquid sweetener of choice
1 c. unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. ground flaxseed
1/2 c. chocolate chips (best if chopped into smaller pieces)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch sea salt (to taste)

Mix ingredients in a bowl. Chill one hour. Add a little water or extra almond butter if too dry. Roll with wet hands into 1 inch balls. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

My favorite zucchini casserole and other things to do with all this squash

My mouth starts to water for my mom’s zucchini casserole as soon as we put the first zucchini seeds in the ground. She makes it with loads of cheese and sour cream, then covers it with crunchy seasoned bread crumbs. I had to figure out how to veganize it and I was happily surprised at how well it turned out. My Dad even ate it—twice (he doesn’t know it is vegan).  He just told me it was as good as he has ever eaten! Grandma also enjoyed it, but Grandma tells me everything I bring her is the best thing ever.

Mom’s Squash Casserole

Serves 6

6 cups sliced squash (summer and/or zuchinni)

1 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup chopped onion

2 cups melted cashew cheese (recipe https://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/ode-to-cheese/ I measured 2 cups before it solidified. Make sure if you use solid cheese it measures 2 cups melted)

10 oz bread crumbs (if you are counting calories or carbs, reduce to 5 oz) I like to use Arrowhead mills organic savory stuffing, but you can use just plain breadcrumbs, if you do up the vegi bullion

1 tsp vegi bullion

½ cup earth balance (reduce to ¼ cup if you are only using 5 oz of bread crumbs)

Method: Boil squash, onion and carrots for 5 mins, drain, mix with melted cashew cheese, set aside.  Mix melted earth balance, bread crumbs and vegi bullion. Place ½ bread crumb mixture in 9×13 pan, pour squash mixture over the top, spread remaining bread crumbs across top.  Note: if you are only using 5 oz of bread crumbs, don’t put any on the bottom, place the squash mix directly in the pan and then spread bread crumbs over the top.

Bake uncovered, 350 for 30 minutes.

Updated Nutritional info Per serving, (5 oz bread crumbs) Makes 6 large servings (I had the calories for the cheese too high)

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber
253 10 20 37 7 6

Even with the casserole I still have squash coming out my ears, so I have been trying to incorporate it into some of my “staple” meals. Mountain West Burrito gave me the idea to put it in my burritos (never would have thought of it).

Low Carb Burrito

½ cup black beans

1 onion

1 cup summer or zuchinni squash diced

¼ cup tomatillo salsa optional (costco carries it now)

Costco low Carb Tortillia

4 T Guacamole

¼ cup Salsa (drain the extra juice)

Water sauté onions and squash, add black beans. Warm tortilla in pan, spread guac and salsa, put ½ squash mixture in the middle.

Nutritional Info:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber
334 18 12 52 7 19

I LOVE squash breaded and fried, but that doesn’t go well with my calorie budgeting. I found this alternative online. http://www.thenakedkitchen.com/zucchini-chips/ I like it better! I love how the breading stays on. My version:

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs (I used arrowhead stuffing crumbs)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp black pepper

heaping 1/2 cup white flour

1 cup cold milk (I used soy milk)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)

2 tsp Herbamere (salt seasoning of your choice)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, cheese (if using) and black pepper.

In separate bowl add flour, milk and vinegar.  Gently stir until combined but do not over stir.

Dip zucchini slices in flour mixture and then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.

Place coated zucchini slices on a baking sheet (I line mine with non stick foil for easy clean up!) and bake for 30 minutes, flipping (tongs work best) the slices over once halfway through cooking, or until browned and crisp.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 2 servings.

Notes:

These chips are best eaten right out of the oven.  They don’t save well.

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber

224

10

5

41

4

6.5

Progress Report (if you want the full story of why  you are getting my weight https://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/gah-i-cant-breathe-in-my-fat-clothes/

Nutrition: Stayed within 1400 calorie budget 4 out of 7 days—not stellar, but going to do better this week!

Weight: I weigh in with my trainer every Monday night. I weighed in this Monday at 156, so I am .6 lbs down, which is about right considering I only stayed within my calorie budget 4 days of the seven last week.

Exercise : Running 3 times (about 3 miles each), strength training twice (hour each), and taught one power yoga class

I have been drinking lemon water like there is no tomorrow, cut down on sugar and fat and trying to keep carbs under 100/day—that is kind of hard. But overall I feel good about what I am doing. I am wearing one of my favorite pair of shorts and I can breath!

.

Cows, Disney and Kale Chips

Last week Andrew and I went to Long Beach to meet our friends Colin and Jenn and their 2 year old Liam. Although it was the first time meeting them, it felt more like a reunion. Colin and Jenn are vegan, have been for awhile and have helped me be a better vegan mom to Andrew. It was such a delight  to be around like-minded people and it gave me joy to see Andrew devour everything Colin handed him without question. It must be exhausting for Andrew to eat. He scrutinizes every label, he basically doesn’t eat anything I don’t make from scratch, wait it is exhausting for me to feed Andrew! Colin and Jenn introduced us to a few new favorite things

  1. Veggie Grill. If you don’t have one of these restaurants in your area, start petitioning to get one! I can’t convey how good the food was with words or pictures, but here is one pic to give you an idea. This place will satisfy carnivores!
    All American Stack, steak strips with Onion rings and sweet potato Fries, Buffalo Wings with Ranch dipping sauce

See better photos and like them on Facebook at http://www.veggiegrill.com/\

  1. Colin told me about VegNews magazine awhile ago and I love it


This magazine comes every other month, has great recipes, fun facts like:

Cows have BFFs—really a study measured the heart rate of cows who were isolated, paired with random cows or penned with their preferred partner. Those alongside their best friend exhibited reduced levels of stress compared to those who were with a stranger-cow.

 and excellent articles. You can subscribe and get an online newsletter: http://vegnews.com/ I just got a yummy recipe for Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

that I can’t wait to try, you can see it here, http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/211087/5e7d1eceb2/379000935/f9858e713c/  if you make it let me know how you like it!

3. Ranch Kale Chips. I have made plain ones before and love them, but found these at whole foods and couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I figured out how to make my own—unfortunately I ate them all before I remembered to take a picture.

Ranch Kale Chips (Andrew approved)

1 cup raw cashews

1 bunch of kale, spines removed, torn into 2×2” (about)

¼ cup water

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 tsp rice vinegar

Method: blend everything in your Vitamix until smooth, coat kale with mixture, place on tinfoil lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Cook on 275 for about 20 minutes, or until kale is crispy, I had to turn mine a few times to get it crispy on all sides. Next time I am going to throw the whole mess in a dehydrator for a few hours to get a more even crisp.

We also spent a few days in Disneyland and learned what the vegan options are—not many.

  1. Plain Mickey Mouse pretzel (we had more than 1)
  2. Popcorn (not healthy, but so tasty)
  3. Best Meal was in Carnation Café on Main street, they had a certified Vegan Burger, it was ok, Andrew thought it was outstanding, but that was because he was starving.
  4. I had a “veggie” sandwich in Adventure land and it was GROSS.
  5. We found Vegetarian chili in Frontierland, that you could make Vegan by holding the cheese and sour cream, but didn’t get to try it
  6. Blue Bayou  had a Portabella meal, but we didn’t try it

Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip and Dreamy Agave Cornbread

I have to be honest.  I can’t sugar coat things and say I have had a lovely week of vegan bliss.  This week was challenging, in a knock the wind out of your sails kind of way.  It was HARD to be vegan.  Get togethers didn’t have vegan fare, restaurants had limited options, everything I made at home for 2 days was a flop (grey mush, doughy bisquits, the list goes on) and I can’t even tell you how many people gave me “the look.”  You know the one.  The are-you-kidding-me-you-crazy-non-conforming-health-nut-why-don’t-you-just-eat-like-a-normal-person one.

So I press on, determined to stay positive and 0n track.  I feel healthier and lighter as I eat a plant based diet.  When I have slipped and eaten something with processed sugar or have had more carbs than produce, I feel heavy, weighed down.  I know I am on the right path.  I know without a doubt that my health is worth it, for me and for my family.

Now I share  with you my go-to dish.  All ingredients are stocked in my pantry at all times, minus the produce, but those are staples in our kitchen anyways.  If there is a last minute company coming, I always know I can pull out a colorful batch of Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip.  Add tortilla chips, roll it up in a tortilla, serve with cornbread, or eat as a side.  A very versatile dish.  And loaded with nutrients.

I had to show you the separate ingredients, so pretty!  Here it is all stirred up:

Oh Snap (No Worries) Mexi Bean Dip

3 cans of beans (or 6 cups cooked) rinsed and drained well
3 varieties- black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, be creative!
1 can (2 c. fresh) corn, drained
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 pepper, diced (green, red, jalepeno, mix it up)
1 jar salsa (homemade is best, but whatever you’ve got)
1/2 packet favorite seasoning packet (fajita, guacamole) or individual seasonings to taste
1 avocado, cubed
1 lime

Important:  Save avocado and lime until just before you serve!

Combine all ingredients except avocado and lime.  Gently toss.  Right before serving, drizzle lime juice over avocado and add to other ingredients.  You’re done!

Like I mentioned, this dish is super versatile, so play with it, it’s a tough one to mess up.  That’s saying a lot coming from me. And I have to ask- what’s your go to dish?

Up next, Dreamy Agave Cornbread found on Allrecipes.  I have been craving a moist, delicious baked good lately and finally found one that hit the spot.  They were gobbled up by the family in minutes, next round will need to be a triple batch if I want leftovers!

Vegan Agave Cornbread Muffins

This Kitchen Approved Recipe has an average star rating of 4.8 by 87 voters! a good sign- now 88 🙂

Original Recipe Yield 6 muffins-I made 10 and they were a perfect single serving size for little hands

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (I did closer to 1/3 to adjust for altitude)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (we had homemade in the freezer, the little apple chunks were a nice addition)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (I used coconut oil, yummy substitute, worked great especially since our house is so warm it was already melted for ease of use!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease a muffin pan.
  2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; stir in the applesauce, soy milk, and agave nectar. Slowly add the oil while stirring. Pour the mixture into the muffin pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick or small knife inserted in the crown of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

We topped ours with strawberry freezer jam- delightful.

And finally we put together this little number for dessert, thanks to Aijay at FreeFlowFoodie only hers was much more lovely seeing as I had three hollering, very hungry children needing me to hurry up.  Beauty had to be sacrificed a bit.  We served the fruit with a yummy berry yogurt and it was a hit.  Aijay, my family gives you props for presentation!

Kalmata Cannellini Bean Dip, Ab Fab Bug Spray, and a little Special Sauce

Vegan week 5 and loving it!  Our kitchen is exploding with produce, the crockpot is cooking up a veggie soup, the cuisinart just knocked out “larabars” three ways, fresh salsa on the cutting board and more goodness in the works.   And grilled veggies have been lovely with this old time (since freshman year in college- don’t ask) favorite seasoning.  Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt is amazing on roasted potatoes as well.


Funny thing.  My husband ate olives.  And liked them.  Shhhhh- he doesn’t know it yet.  He swears he never will.  Hates the suckers.  Not that I wouldn’t tell him if he asked, but he hasn’t so neither have I.  They were mixed in this yummy bean dip:

Kalmata Cannellini Bean Dip
(a fresher version of the Engine 2 Diet recipe)

2 cups Cannellini Beans, cooked in crock (or 1 can, drained and rinsed- I like fresh much better)
1 clove Garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tblish lemon juice (to taste)
1 tsp fresh thyme (yay for gardens!)
1tsp fresh rosemary (yay again! rosemary loves UT soil)
1/4 tspish sea salt (to taste)
4 Kalmata olives, roughly chopped

Blend.  I like to see bits of olive so I don’t over puree it.

Serve with pita chips or as a fresh veggie dip.  Or on a sandwich.  Or as an appetizer spread.  Possibilities.

Up next:  Homemade Insect Repellant!  This concoction was born last year as my sister and I perused the aisle with natural bug sprays.  As I read the ingredients and looked at the prices, I knew I could do better.  This is what we ended up with.

Two spray bottles (actually 3, my sister took one out into the field with her- she’s a wilderness therapist.)
Olive Oil– you could use any oil carrier you like.  The olive oil goes on quite nice.  And it looks pretty in a clear bottle. 😉
Essential Oils-
Tea Tree, Lemongrass, and Citronella.

Easiest recipe ever.  Ok, maybe not ever, but pretty close.

2 oz carrier oil
20 drops lemongrass
20 drops citronella
10 drops tea tree

Multiply for larger batches.  Mix.  Pour into bottles.  Yup.

This bug oil is absolutely fabulous.  It smells yummy, goes on smooth, moisturizes summer tanned skin, and most importantly, KEEPS THE BUGS AWAY.  One full year of use later, I will never even consider putting the evil DEET on my children.  Remember how I mentioned my sister took a bottle?  It worked so well being out in the woods for days at a time that she came back for a refill.  Ab fab my friends, ab fab.

And lastly, a little flavor for your ears- a little somethin’ somethin’ to put on as you get ready to sauce it up in the kitchen:  Baby’s Got Sauce by G-Love and Special Sauce.

Chocolate Sauce is what’s in the works. This recipe reminded me more of a hershey syrup more than fondue like I hoped.  Amanda’s Magic Shell made with coconut oil (why can’t I find the recipe on the blog?!?) is a thicker chocolate dip than this turned out to be, but still it was tasty with strawberries, even tastier with cherries and extra delish drizzled over Peanut Butter Chocolate So Delicious Ice Cream with sliced bananas.

Once again, found this in the Engine 2 Diet cookbook.  Yeah Rip.

Chocolate Sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 c water
2 Tbl cocoa powder
3 Tbl agave nectar or maple syrup (I used maple agave, thinking I would be doubly awesome, but my awesomely talented taster *Amanda* decided the agave left it a bit bitter- going maple next time)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix the cornstarch with a small amount of water until there are no lumps.  Whisk in the remaining water, sweetener, and cocoa.  Cook in a heavy saucepan over low hear, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Drizzle.

We’ve got sauce.

Dig.

Tasty Tuesday Series: Ragnar Recovery (Fruited Nut Rolls)

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

Tasty Tuesday Series – Ragnar on the Brain (Ragnar Trail Mix)

It’s Tasty Tuesday and while I’m eating lots of tasty foods, I have Ragnar, packing, planning and nervousness on the brain and I can’t focus long enough to take photos or give you any real recipes. But I can offer you some running inspiration in the form of these books (in order of recommendation).

One of my all time favorite reads. Re-reading it right now, laughing my butt off and guzzling chia drinks like a Tarahumara. Radical.

Autobiography of my favorite Vegan super-athlete, Scott Jurek

 Plant Based eating’s newest superhero! I haven’t read this yet, but it arrived on my doorstep via Amazon this week. His name makes me laugh because I can’t think about it without thinking of the Rick Rolled sensation on youtube. Hehe.

And because I can’t really give you a Tasty Tuesday without a recipe, here is a vegan version of  Steve’s Tasty Trail Mix.

Steve’s Tasty Ragnar Trail Mix

Equal amounts vegan m&m’s, raisins and roasted salted cashews. I know, simple eh, but hey look at Steve, it works for him…..

Until Saturday then 😉

A meat eating mother’s despair: my five year old decided he was vegetarian (Mom’s peanut butter candy)

When my son, Andrew, was 5 we took a trip with my vegetarian sister to the Portland coast. Andrew watched Susan eat with interest and about two days into the trip he said “aunt Sue, you don’t eat meat. Why?” I shot my sister a menacing look of “if you convince my son to be vegetarian I will eat your first born!” Somehow she mistook that look to actually mean “go ahead, please, enlighten my son.” And so, as I prodded, threatened and bribed my five year old to eat his highly processed, deep fried fish sticks, that I believed he needed and were good for him,  my sister did enlighten him. Andrew, had never really liked meat since he was small, meal times were usually a nightmare. One time he sat to the table for six hours because he wouldn’t finish his food (this was an experiment in a battle of two control freaks—I lost). The day we returned home from Portland. My five year old, in his five year old voice, said “mama. I am a vegetarian.”

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This is the trip that changed our lives. He is 5 in this picture

Of course I tried to reason with him, explain that growing boys needed meat to get big and strong, but he wouldn’t hear it. He was vegetarian and that was that. I tried to be the responsible mom and say, “you will eat meat.” but short of grinding it up and feeding it to him intravenously there was no way this child was going to eat meat. So I settled in, thinking he would grow out of it, I “supported” him. I made chicken noodle soup for the family and picked the meat out of his bowl (I admit this with only slight shame as I was not vegetarian, not interested in becoming vegetarian and didn’t really understand what it meant to be vegetarian.) He was a picky eater anyway, now it was worse. Everyone gave me advice on what to do, I found the best thing was to support him the best I could. But I remained a meat eater. I did take him to the Dr to see if he could grow ok without meat, the Dr, surprisingly, said he was fine.

Many people teased him, including members of my own family. Many people thought I was a bad mother for not making him eat nutritiously (they didn’t have kids). His dad threatened, begged, pleaded for him to drop the ridiculous idea, but despite or maybe because of all of that Andrew just dug his heels in deeper and was more determined to be the best vegetarian ever. And, to my pain, he was.  A year or two after going vegetarian he discovered labels and he started reading them. If he didn’t know what an ingredient was he would look it up, this self-educating slowly shrunk his already small menu of things he would eat. He didn’t like vegetables and only ate them under duress. There were a few fruits he would eat, but again only if I forced him. His mainstay was Mac and Cheese, cheese sandwiches, white rice, peanut butter and jelly and black bean, brown rice and cheese burritos. I made two meals every time I cooked.

Over the last three years he has brought up being Vegan and I absolutely forbid it. I told him when he was 18 and could cook for himself he could go vegan. Last August, 2011, at age 12 he went Vegan.  I forbid it. He went vegan. For six months he lived on black bean and brown rice burritos and peanut butter and agave sandwiches—I didn’t know how else to get him his protein.  He continues to self-educate and has discovered a lot of white sugar is refined using cow bone. He no longer eats anything that has sugar in the ingredient list. I had to start making homemade tortillas so I could make him homemade black bean and brown rice burritos. I made everything from scratch. It was a lot of work, and it wasn’t very good.

He is vegan because he can’t stand to think of an animal being harmed in anyway. The more he studied the more he despaired, learning animals are used in almost EVERYTHING humans use.

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Andrew with one of his many pets, Tusken (bearded Dragon)–My house isn’t usually this messy, I was making a costume for the midnight release of Star Wars Episode I

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Here we are nerding out at midnight, yes that is me on the end, in costume

I despaired. I didn’t know how to help him. We got chickens because he will eat their eggs since he knows they are not fertilized and our chickens are super happy.

We milk our goat so I can cook with their milk—I was desperate to do whatever I could to get him his protein.

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This is Penelope, she is still a baby, but will be a great milker

I cooked what limited things I could, but I knew he wasn’t getting the nutrition he needed. He got sick a lot, he was moody and had little energy. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep wondering how I could help my boy—how I could convince him to at least go back to being vegetarian.

My sister has helped a lot. She has talked to him about being tolerant of others choices. This is very hard for him. He is 13. Everything is wrong or right, black or white. My sister introduced me to her friend and animal rights activist, Colin, who actually did volunteer work on “The Sea Shepherd” in Alaska (This is the boat on Whale Wars that goes around the world fighting for sea animals that are being annihilated by fisherman). He wrote a beautiful letter to Andrew that helped me more than it did Andrew. He sent us several Vegan cookbooks and offered real support.

A few months after corresponding with this friend, I met Somer. She told me about how she was eating and why. She was in the middle of the “Green Smoothie” challenge and I decided to do it too. That was March 19, 2012. I told Andrew if he would drink 16 oz of green smoothie I would go vegan for a week. He did it. I was shocked. That was the most vegetables he had eaten in a year. I went vegan. I have been vegan ever since.  Having Somer , Colin, this blog and a like-minded community has changed my world.

Andrew is still a very picky eater. The recipes I have found and love, he usually doesn’t (ie African Peanut Stew). But he always takes two bites—that is the rule. Whenever I find something he likes I feel like I have won a gold medal. A few weeks ago I tried Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna from “Unprocessed” I followed the recipe pretty much exact. He loved it. He ate it four days in a row. He ate it for snacks. He said he wished it wasn’t green as he wolfed down his fourth helping. When it was gone he cried there was nothing “tasty, like lasagna to eat.” I have made it 3 times in the last 3 weeks.  The only alterations I have made is I put the mushrooms in the food processor and blend them pretty small. Andrew doesn’t like chunks, so if I blend it up—no problem. So if I say a recipe is “Andrew” approved you should be able to feed it to a meat eater and they will probably like it. This weeks Andrew approved dishes are

Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna (mushrooms diced very fine) watch the video here: http://www.eatunprocessed.com/dietitian.html#41

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Here is how mine turned out, and it freezes great!

For his treat he has had Somer’s no oil banana muffins and my sister came up with this yummy recipe for peanut butter candy.

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Mom’s Peanut Butter Candy (adapted from a recipe from Linda Smith)

½ cup Natural creamy peanut butter

½ cup honey or agave

¾ cup powdered soy or rice milk

¾ cup quick oats

Method: blend everything in your food processor for about 10 minutes (the longer you blend the creamer it is). Roll into balls.