Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vegan cookbook reviews 101




I'm a bit of a cookbook junkie. I've always been a good reader, but don't really read for enjoyment.  I know there are so many people who get very excited when their favorite author pens a new book, putting all other areas of their lives on hold to stand in line at their local bookstore and sit down for hours on end, turning each page with anticipation.  I would rather wait and see the movie.  I can fold laundry while watching a movie. I can hold hands with my husband and share popcorn laced with peanut M&Ms while watching a movie.  I can slough the dry skin off my heels (yucky...I know!) while watching a movie.  I need 2 hands to read a book. Until that magical day comes when I actually experience that novel concept I hear people talk about...spare time, I don't foresee having the "luxury" of engrossing myself in a book.  Enter my love of cookbooks...not really literature, but definitely a great read.

After watching the film, "Julie & Julia" (again) and thinking that following a cookbook in that manner is an interesting concept  (again), I've decided to do my take on this type of cookbook review. I'm going to take one of my many veg cookbooks at a time and cook all the recipes that sound remotely delicious and post reviews.  Unlike the movie's Julie character, I won't make the recipes that don't sound appealing to me...no reason to waste food.  I recently pared down my cookbook collection by about half.  This experiment should help me reduce that even further. Let the fun begin...

My first cookbook under review will be Chloe's Kitchen by Chef Chloe Coscarelli. Stay tuned...this book looks great!
                                                                   

Monday, June 4, 2012

Today I am embarking on a new mission.  A mission to bring healthy and wholeness into our home and driving the junk and toxins out like St. Michael drove Satan out of Heaven.


DH and I are starting Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Six Week Eating Plan as outlined in his book, Eat To Live and we are also committed to getting junk foods, toxins, preservatives, et al out of our home and lives.


Although I will be following a vegan diet,  6/8 of our children still currently eat animal products and  I feel that I can't post recipes and findings that aren't vegan on this blog. 


So...for at least the time being, I am focusing on my new blog, Real Food (please), which can be found at pleasemakeitreal.blogspot.com.  This blog will cover topics such as healthy cooking with whole, natural ingredients, cleaning and maintaining a healthy, toxic-free home, natural pet care and more. It should be a fun ride.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

 Fuel Your Passion!


Anyone who's nutritionally savvy at all knows
that a plant-based diet is great for your vascular system. It helps the heart to pump great and gets the blood going to all the destinations where it should be in your body. That said, think back to your high school anatomy class...to the one chapter that you actually read and reread...the one on the reproductive system. For everything to work like it should (male & female), there needs to be good blood flow, especially during baby-making time. Now wouldn't it save a lot of money, embarrassing trips to the urologist, and stress to keep up with your Viagra script if everyone ate a plant-based diet instead? It goes down much easier than a pill, helps the planet, REALLY helps the animals and boosts your lovelife...
it's a win, win for us all!

Purple Passion Smoothie
(serves 2, of course) 

1 bag of frozen blueberries
2 bananas
1 T. agave nectar
1 scoop protein powder
 (I used Whey Factor brand unflavored)
1/2 c. pourable yogurt or kefir)
(I would normally use So Delicious brand plain coconut kefir, but dairy was all I had)
1/4 c. ground flaxseeds

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until creamy and very smooth...I bit the bullet a few years ago and bought a refurbished Vita-Mix from their website. This blender is the BEST! It's the brand that many smoothie shops use. It came with a blender container for wet ingredients and another one for dry ingredients, like flour or nuts. This thing can grind it all...highly recommend!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Where's the beef?



Where's the Beef?




For many, a sandwich must center around the meat...ham, turkey, roast beef, whatever. Oh, of course, there's good old PB & J, but that's just for kids or Fridays during Lent when you're sick of tuna or egg salad. But, I've found that sandwiches can be absolutely delicious (or as my son, Henry says, "Dewicious") with just the good healthy stuff.
After a day of birthday parties, speakers at church, TONS of rain and then sneaking off to the afternoon movie with my best friend and hubby (same person!), I had to throw together dinner for all the family and "Family Movie Night." Something quick and "snack-y" but still better than chicken nuggets and fries. I whipped up some french bread pizzas and veggies and dip for the kids and for those of us with discerning palates, a vegetable panini.  The sandwich was really good and really quick to pull together. It was great with the veggies that I used, but I could imagine lots of possibilities here...have fun with it!

Grilled Veggie Panini

*1 T olive oil
*1/2 a purple onion, thinly sliced
*1 roasted red pepper (I cheated and used jarred), thinly sliced
*1 small produce pack of baby bellas (small portabella mushrooms), sliced
*1 clove garlic minced (there again, I cheated and used jarred)
*fresh leaf spinach
*homemade or store-bought pesto (there AGAIN, well you, know,,,I cheated   and used pesto from a jar)
*freshly cracked pepper
*large pinch of seasoned salt (I LOVE to use Urban Accents brand Isle of Capri Seasoned salt- I get this at my local EarthFare)

1 loaf of multi-grain french bread, sliced length-wise

Heat oil in large saute pan or wok. Toss in all the veggies and the garlic and saute until slightly browned and soft. Spread 2-3 T pesto onto halved bread loaf. Layer spinach, then grilled veggies on top of pesto. Top with remaining half of loaf and slice into 2 or 3 sandwich size portions. Grill each sandwich pressing down while grilling, until grill marks are achieved and sandwich if fully hot on the inside.  Serves 2-3.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Louisiana Red Beans & Rice...
vegan style!
It's Mardi Gras season again and it gives me a great excuse to try to veganize all my favorite Cajun dishes. Quite a daunting task when you consider all the butter, meat and cream that go into my favorites...
jambalaya, etoufee, crab bisque and tonight's red beans & rice.

Well so far, I'm 1 for 1. This dish turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself. Very filling and tasty, with just the right amount of spice. All that was missing was the jazz wafting in from Preservation Hall and a nice tall Hurricane to wash it all down. 
Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Louisiana Red Beans & Rice

6 (15 oz.) cans of red beans, drained and rinsed
1 T olive oil
1/4 c. veg or no-chicken broth (I use Imagine brand no chicken broth)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 large bell pepper, finely chopped 
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. thyme
1 t. oregano
1 T. liquid smoke or 2 t. smoked paprika
1 t. each of cayenne pepper, black pepper & white pepper
1 c. water or veg/no chicken broth
salt, to taste
Tabasco or hot sauce, to taste

Saute until very soft in the olive oil and veg broth: onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic. Mid way through the saute, add in spices, stirring well. Meanwhile, drain and rinse beans. Add 1/2 of the beans to the vegetable mixture and mash until beans are no longer whole. Add the water or broth and stir well, add in whole beans and cook over medium heat for approx. 10 minutes, decrease heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add salt and tabasco to taste. Serve with rice (brown is great here!) and crusty French bread. Makes approx. 8 servings.






Monday, January 16, 2012

Back on the Mean Green Horse


Have you ever had a stomach bug coincide with eating something that you really liked, only to make you not want to eat that again? Maybe it's God's way of getting us off certain foods, but I can't believe that he wouldn't want me to indulge my health with green juice.  I mean there's absolutely nothing bad in it for you...nothing but pure green healthy goodness. I've been putting off getting back on the Mean Green Juice Horse ever since I got sick right after drinking a nice big green juice before church this past fall.  Believe me, I can't think of much nastier to throw up than green juice...possibly raw oysters, but green juice is pretty darn gross coming out, like something Linda Blair would upchuck on the Exorcist.


Today I felt courage and empowerment...ready to take a chance on my green nectar once again.  It went down great and I think I can keep on.  As Joe from "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" says..."Juice on!"

Mean Green Juice
I SWEAR that it tastes MUCH better than it looks (although I love nearly any green veggie, so it doesn't look yucky to me at all)! 
I use a Breville Juice Fountain Plus Centrifrugal juicer at home...love it!
Play around with the amount to suit your taste. In my opinion, though, the lemon and cucumber are essential...gives a really fresh taste.

Makes (2) 16 oz. (mol) juices

1 bunch (approx. 8-10 stalks) of organic curly kale
1 bunch (5 or so stalks) of organic Swiss chard
1/2 organic lemon
2-3 organic green apples
1 regular or 1/2 large organic cucumber
1/2 head organic romaine lettuce

Juice on and enjoy!



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy New Year (a little behind)

Happy New Year! Like most of America, my pledge this year is to lose weight and get healthy. I have spent most of my adult life trying to find that ultimate eating plan that will magically help those pesky pounds melt away...in my sleep, no doubt, and with no exercise and oh... did I mention that it would all happen overnight? I guess that's how it works in LaLa Land or maybe in DisneyLand or on Sesame Street. Low carb, low fat, Weight Watchers, Sugar Busters, vegan, vegetarian...ugh! The diet du jour never really works for me (although I did have a lot of success with a low carb diet during my last pregnancy with diabetes but I DO NOT advocate a low carb diet at all! I was just trying to keep my blood sugar at bay for the baby's sake). I typically spend loads of money signing up for a diet plan, buying the associated cookbooks, the food scale that you HAVE to use only with that particular diet plan, weight tracker journal and the like just to realize that this diet is a bunch of baloney (I've never tried the all-bologna diet...maybe that would work...hmm.)

I really believe that a plant-based vegan or nearly vegan is the answer. The data is just too compelling. When I have followed a vegetarian diet in the past, it was too easy to replace meat with dairy...cheese, cheese and did I mention...cheese? I do love cheese but I am terribly conflicted, as I don't believe that dairy is good for us and maybe even that God does not mean for us to drink the secretions of another animal at all. Tell someone that you don't use dairy and you might as well have said that you are really an alien and Elvis is your cousin. My problem is that when I decide to go vegan, much of what I eat is animal product wannabee food, which although meatless and often organic, is highly processed. Which "poison" do I pick?

Bottom Line (to reduce MY bottom line): I want to get most or all of the processed fake food out of my family's life and diet. I want to totally eliminate or greatly reduce animal products. I want to eat local and/or organic fruits and veggies as the bulk of my diet AND...I want it to be super tasty! Am I asking for too much? I don't think so.

A grocery store visit is in on the agenda for today and then lots of experimenting with recipes and making lots from scratch...stay tuned...it should be an interesting ride.