Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chile-Lime-Cilantro Seitan

 This recipe is for cilantro lovers! Boost the cilantro flavor by adding more of the herb to suit your tastes. Why corn on the cob? Well, what DOESN'T corn on the cob go well with??

Chile-Lime-Cilantro Seitan - serves 2-3

1 c seitan, cut into thin strips
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, diced
1 small chile, minced
1/2 c cilantro, chopped (I used Vietnamese cilantro- try it if you can! I bought it from a local nursery)
zest + juice from 1 lime
1 tblsp lite soy sauce
1 med. carrot, shredded
1 tsp agave syrup
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1. Saute all ingredients, beginning with mustard seeds for a few minutes; then the veggies for a few minutes; then the sauce and seasoning ingredients for a few minutes; then the seitan, until beginning to blacken in spots.
2. Remove from heat. Serve over rice or quinoa. Top with chopped tomatoes, lime, poppy seeds, and extra cilantro, if desired.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mango-Rice-Bean Bowl with Kale

 Cooking for someone who doesn't like greens, but who wants to eat them cuz they know that greens are healthy, can be tricky. A big bunch of sauteed greens is something I could go for, but for others, it's a definite no-go. So, I've realized that finely chopping your green and then throwing it into a dish with a bunch of other stuff is a great way to "conceal" all that healthy goodness and create a meal that even a "tofu-and-taters lover" will enjoy!

   Mango-Rice-Bean Bowl with Kale
- makes  2 big bowls, 4 smaller bowls -
 3/4 c brown/wild rice mix, uncooked
1 15 oz can tri-bean blend or kidney beans
1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 med. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
2/3 c corn kernals
2 c kale (or green of choice), finely chopped
3 tblsp sunflower seeds
1/2 mango, diced

1 tblsp tahini
1/2 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp bbq sauce (Bull's Eye Original is a vegan bbq sauce with no high fructose corn syrup)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the rice 
2. Saute the onion in the olive oil on medium heat in a cast iron skillet until soft, then add the carrots, garlic, kale, and corn. Saute for about 5 minutes, then add the beans. Cook until heated through, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in some water if the saute gets dry or starts to burn.
3. Meanwhile, blend the dressing ingredients in a food processor.
4. Once the rice is tender, mix it with the bean and kale saute, then add the dressing and toss to coat. 
5. Serve in bowls and top with the diced mango and sunflower seeds

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Underestimating Other Animals

Articles in the news that relay scientists' new discoveries of the complexities of other animals' mental lives occur fairly frequently. One today discusses the results of tests done with the famous African Grey Parrots. Other stories abound, and continue coming out.

The moral of all these stories? In general, we are usually underestimating the richness of other animals' mental capacities and subjective experiences. Perhaps this all goes back to the fact that animals can't talk, and humans use speech as a way of evaluating how smart or even valuable other beings are. If you can't talk, you must be fairly dumb, and thus your subjective experience must be something easy to dismiss, from a moral standpoint. Humans don't do this just to other animals, of course- they judge other people in this way all the time (for one example, look up the origin of the word "barbarian").

Given what we know about biology, about where emotions and other features of mental lives arise from, and the frequent studies that fairly consistently reveal how we underestimate other animals, one can take it as a rule of thumb that our (under)appreciation of what animals are thinking and experiencing is a substantially inaccurate representation of reality. It's fairly reasonable to conclude that to the degree that an animal shares our underlying biology, the experience that that biological function is responsible for will manifest similarly across species. Thus if we imagine the pain and distress we would feel being a lab animal undergoing painful procedures, or being caged, beaten, and sick in a factory farm, then it's safe to assume that other animals are going to feel this way too. It's called biology. 

This heightens all the more our moral duties to fellow inhabitants of our planet. They don't just deserve our respect; they deserve to be free from the actions of ours that so frequently cause them pain and distress.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Almond or Coconut Milk Ice Cream

 Homemade Almond or Coconut Milk ice cream

One of my favorite foods is ice cream.  I’ve always loved it!  At grocery stores, they sell it by the pint or by the quart and the price is fairly unaffordable if you purchase it on a regular basis.  So I bought my own ice cream maker and decided to mess around with almond milk and coconut milk. I really wanted to make this easy. I wasn’t interested in cooking the contents before-hand, in which most dairy recipes require. Ice cream makers aren’t what they used to be (unless you are looking for a top dollar maker)…They are more fun and colorful, but with a plastic barrel.  I was a little worried purchasing it at first, but am so impressed with it’s durability.  They average about $20 at any large, regional or national chain.

I am thrilled with my discoveries! And you can make as much as you want. I usually make half a gallon, but the cylinder in the maker will hold twice as much. I’ll share a base recipe with you. I’ll add some suggestions for flavoring your ice cream afterwards.
I’ve made both almond and coconut ice cream.  I like them both evenly.  For those that do not like the taste of coconut milk, the coconut flavor gets lost after the ice cream is made and coconut gives it a creamier texture.

See recipe for creamy and flavored ice cream below.

Basic vanilla ice cream base
6 cups vanilla almond or  vanilla coconut milk (Unsweetened is fine too, it just won’t be as sweet)
1 cup of sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla imitation extract
Generous amount of ice
Rock salt

Pour all contents into the container, place in ice cream maker and use as directed by the instructions it came with. Generally, you fill up the edges with cubed ice and dump a bit of rock salt all over the ice evenly.  When the ice melts half-way down, repeat process.

Extra creamy ice cream
My preference by far (with minimal added calories):  Add ½-3/4 cup of plain or vanilla soy yogurt or ½- ¾ cup of whipped non-dairy topping to base. If using yogurt, increase sugar by ¼ cup.  Again, this is preference.  The ice cream is still very good without as much sugar.

Flavored ice cream
The creamy version works best for any flavored ice cream recipe which helps to hold it's shape.
Powder, liquid and soft substance such as cocoa, peanut butter and extract can be added to base. Solid substance such as chocolate chips and marshmallows should be added halfway through chilling.

Chocolate chip:

You can buy mini chocolate chips if available or grate or cut dark semi sweet baking chocolate. Without removing the canister, remove lid halfway through chilling and pour the chips in.  It doesn’t require very much chocolate to taste just perfect.  Be careful not to overdo it.

Smores: (requested by my children)

Add about ¼ cup of each (add more or less depending on preference):
Chocolate pieces as described above
Hand broken graham crackers
Small sized marshmallows (normal size)
Mix in ingredients halfway into chilling

Chocolate peanut butter   (Adds protein and antioxidents!)

¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup chocolate baking cocoa
Add with all ingredients to base

Suggestions you can try yourself: 

Maple pecan (use maple extract and chopped pecans)

Lemon (using lemon juice)

Chocolate chip cookie dough (maybe quarter a normal cookie recipe)

Chocolate chip mint (use peppermint extract and chocolate pieces.  (If your fine with dye, add a few drops of green for a true color).

Chocolate Raspberry...

Experiment with your favorite flavors!

Enjoy your delicious ice cream for a much lower price!

Peanut Butter Granola

Granola is what I go to when I need to bake something. Why? It's healthy, it lasts a fair amount of time in your pantry, and, well, it's cereal. What's not to love, really?

So, when I was craving peanut butter, this happened...

 Peanut Butter Granola - makes ~1o servings

2 1/2 c oats (not quick-cooking)
2 tblsp flax seeds
3 tblsp wheat bran (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
couple pinches salt

3 tblsp peanut natural butter
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 c raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Mix together the dry ingredients, then mix together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir to coat. Spread evenly on a greased baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray lightly with cooking spray (optional- makes a crispier granola). 

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 20 minutes, until the granola begins to turn light brown. Let cool for an hour before storing in an air tight container. Once the granola has cooled, stir in the raisins.

A great addition would be some almonds or other nuts that you may have on hand!

Happy crunching...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Raisin Breakfast Rolls

 Check out these yummy raisin rolls from My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky. They're like a cross between a scone and a cinnamon roll- perfect for mornings with coffee! Not too sweet, with whole wheat flour and oats, it's a breakfast you can feel good about.

(I'm feeling dizzy...)

...The only substitution I made was, instead of using the white flour that the recipe called for, I tried spelt flour instead. Next time I would add some cinnamon, but otherwise they were a good treat! Especially with some vegan butter...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Vegetarian Shoes

I'm not a natural shopper. Buying stuff just doesn't do it for me. But recently I needed sandals (after wearing my others to oblivion), and I've always liked the "cup heal" of Birckenstocks...

Well, Birkenstock no longer makes animal product-free shoes anymore. Their sister companies make a few, but the selection is not spectacular. However, searching online I found this company from the UK. 

They're called "Vegetarian Shoes," and their products are free from animal products. So, well, I bought a pair of their sandals...

The lining mimics suede, and the shoe resembles one of Birkenstock's. Pretty nice! And comfortable. A little big, but they don't have half sizes. At any rate, I'm happy with them, and happy to support a company who has a bottom line worth supporting!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cherry BBQ Tofu (And How to Bake Tofu RIGHT)

So I had acquired some fresh cherries and was wondering, What could I do with them? Well, most of them just got eaten... but, then I found this recipe for cherry barbeque sauce.

It worked terrifically with tofu. As time goes on, my tofu baking skills are improving... Here's what I've found to be a good way to get chewy, nicely-textured and flavorful tofu:

1. Press your tofu in a cloth to get out excess water (no need to be a stickler about this)
2. Cut or tear the tofu into bite size pieces
3. Spray a baking sheet with oil, then place the tofu on it. Splash soy sauce over the pieces, then spray the tofu with oil.
4. Bake at 425 F (or 400 in a convection oven setting) for 20 minutes. Stir and flip the tofu pieces. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until edges of tofu look hardened. 
5. Put your tofu in a heat-safe bowl with the sauce you plan to use, stir to coat, then place in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through.

Alternatively, after step 2 you can do the following:
3a. Place the tofu in a container and add a marinade. Cover the container with an airtight lid, then turn the container around to coat all of the tofu pieces. Stick in the fridge, turning occasionally, for at least two hours, or overnight.
4a. Bake as directed, reserving any excess sauce in a bowl (otherwise your tofu will be mushy). You can pour the extra sauce over the tofu once it's all done baking. (This is a good idea especially if you're putting the tofu over rice.)

For barbeque sauce, I follow the first set of steps. For "saucier" or more liquid-y marinades, I'll follow the second set.

Onward tofu bakers!