Thursday, April 29, 2010

Facing Ourselves

I'm not sure what we ate last week, but it wasn't what was on our list! I know we had some beautiful salads a couple of days, and I think I've eaten a whole case of cantaloupe myself this week. Man, I can't believe how good it is right now. I wouldn't normally think it would be this time of year. I will usually eat melon as a mono-meal (only one food on the plate) anyway, but this week it has been my staple for many of my meals.

My brother asked me to make him some cashew cream cheese, so I did that on Monday. I make it a lot, but I usually mix it with raisins for queso dulce. I made it by itself as per his request, and I thought, hey, this would taste good on cucumber slices, so I've eaten that at least twice this week. (Make that three times; writing about it here made me hungry for a batch. Plus I needed a picture. Yeah, that's the ticket. I needed a picture!) One day Darius joined me, and we sliced up mini-plum tomatoes and olives to go with it. It was extremely satisfying and filling. Now when I think about it, cucumbers are related to melons, so there must be something in the melon family I'm really needing.

I think that is the extent of my meals last week, so it's not all that exciting, but my body is loving the simplicity of it. (Of course, I had my morning juice too as per Roger's tender loving care.) Oh, yeah, one night when I was eating melon, the fam had a green spaghetti with shredded zucchini and collards mixed with queso verde. They sliced some tomatoes into it, and it looked like a real feast. Who says eating veggies can't be satisfying?

I guess that means I'll have to move last week's menu items over to this week! Sorry about that. We'll be enjoying some Mexican meals with Elote con crema (corn in a spicy cashew cheese based mayo) and unfried no beans (sprouted sunflower seeds creamed with tomatoes and seasonings). Of course we'll make up tomato salsa and guacamole and crema to go with them. We like the elote stuffed in avocado atop ensalada. We'll probably roll the no beans up in some Mexi-Cali wrappers and make some arroz Mexicano to go with that.

Marinara is definitely on the menu this week. We never got to the Leaning Towers last week; maybe it's too complicated when we're into the work week. Maybe we'll just go with some shredded zucchini topped with marinara and some marinated mushrooms. Hmm. Those mushrooms are pretty good mixed with the zucchini and just about anything else. Think we'll have it with some cashew cheddar too.

Since we've got the cheddar, and we've got some marinated broccoli, we'd be crazy not to make Alicia's favorite meal: broccoli cheddar soup. If there's any salsa left, we can make some taco soup too. That's Darius' favorite.

That's about the whole week except for the desserts. This week we're gonna make some apple crisp because I've been craving it. That is my favorite dessert of all time even from before we were vegan. We also will have some pumpkin pie, and we ran out of key lime pies last week, so we'll make that again. We've started making them in that nice snack size (thanks again, Elizabeth for suggesting that), and they're just the right touch when we want a treat. Yolanda has already asked for cheesecake for next week, so we'll have that to look forward to.

For snacks we'll have some queso dulce around to dip apples and celery into. There's the ever-present honey almond butter for dipping as well. Queso verde and cashew cream cheese will both be great for cucumber dips. We actually use these dips with veggies and/or fruit for our evening light meal. We've got some great fruit which makes great breakfast fodder, but we love it throughout the day and for our evening mono-meal many days, so we're always glad to see the seasons when more fruits are available. We'll probably be having more smoothies for dinner this week too.

How about you? What's your favorite meal this week? I'd love to know what vegan meals you're eating this week. Many of our customers aren't 100% vegan, but they love the feeling they get from eating a couple of vegetable meals during the week, and that's a great thing. I've thought about this alot since I've been working at the market and exposed to so many different ways of looking at this. I know what works for me, and I love the unprecedented level of health that I enjoy now. While there are times when it is difficult, I cannot deny how much better I feel and how much energy I have.

Having struggled with bad health much of my childhood, it is a real treat NOT to be sick all the time. My health was better after I moved away from home, and we discovered I was sick so much because I was allergic to the cats we always had while living there. While not ill as much once I was an adult, I still suffered from obesity all of my teen years and especially after I started having children. Losing these 100 pounds + since being a raw vegan has been one of the most wonderful things I have ever done for myself - it gave me my life back. Eating the SAD (standard American diet) is NOT an option for me ever again. It destroys me in many different ways (just as all addictions do their victims). While I will always be an addict, I know I need to live my 12 steps and stay out of that pool of disaster.

Some people find it odd to think one can be an addict to food. It was Victoria Boutenko's 12 Steps to Raw Foods that really helped me understand why. I bought it originally because I thought it would be a 12 step program companion, but instead it really helped me understand why I couldn't stop eating foods I knew to be harmful to me. It was very easy to relate to them as having the same effect on me that alcohol would have on an alcoholic and drugs to a user. If there was a chemical effect taking place when these foods were eaten that solicited an emotional response, then of course I'd be hooked. Well, opiates tend to have that effect, so I no longer was surprised that I felt addicted to the foods that contain them. Then the struggle came to "beat" the addiction.

For me, the AA 12 steps help me do that. I have to ask God, my higher power of choice, to help me each day. I have to recognize that this addiction is bigger than me (no small thing when one weighs almost 300 pounds). Well, here's the 12 steps. I hope they can help someone else as they have me. I could write a whole book about each one of these steps and how it changed my life to implement them.

1. I admitted I was powerless over unhealthy foods — that my life had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than myself (God) could restore me to
3. Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God (as I
understood Him).
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.
5. Admitted to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature
of my wrongs.
6. Was entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove my shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons I had harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when I was wrong promptly
admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with
God, as I understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, I tried to
carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all my

Note the motto: "To thine own self be true." That's really the crux of it for me. I spent so much time lying to myself about what I'm doing that I can't see the truth. That scripture in Jonah really hit me: “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy” (Jonah 2:8). I could not be the recipient of all the wonderful things the Lord had in store for me if I could not fact the truth about what I was doing. It is a very humbling experience...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's Swallowing You?

Well, I was thinking I would have a little more time this week, but I think with graduation coming up soon, I'm not going to have much free time until that is done. That is true every year, but it still kicks me in the butt every year.

At the market last week, one of our friends that we haven't seen for a while came by our booth. When I asked her how she was doing, she admitted that her health challenges were getting the best of her. When I asked her how her diet was doing, she said it was not going well, and she was sure that if she could eat better, her health problems would improve. As we talked about why she doesn't eat better, she recognized that addiction to the SAD (standard American diet) was seriously holding her back.

I am constantly amazed at how great a part addiction plays in holding us back from fulfilling our potential here on earth. We see in every area of life. There is more to this than we like to admit.

I had been thinking a lot about addiction as I wrote last week, and Sunday at Church, one of the speakers was talking about people in the Bible who had trials they successfully got through including Abraham with Isaac, Moses in leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, etc. Then he mentioned Jonah, and he asked, "How many of us have whales in our life that are holding onto us until we are ready to fulfill our life's mission?" I had thought about Jonah before and how many corollaries there were to my own life, but that question had me thinking about it again. I cut and pasted the chapters out of the Old Testament, and then I made a chart showing the comparisons. I couldn't believe how much these chapters related to addiction.

I assume everyone has access to an Old Testament, so I won't reprint those scriptures here, but I'll be glad to send them to anyone who does need them if you e-mail me and ask for them. It would definately help you to have them close at hand as you think of these comparisons so that you know where I came up with this.

Here are the points I extracted from Jonah:

1. Jonah was asked to serve a mission.
2. He ignores the request (tries to hide).
3. The Lord allows the tempest to upset his journey.
4. Others suffer also when Jonah is being chastened.
5. The Lord lets others know the source of their problems was Jonah.
6. Jonah offers to be the martyr; it is easier to be a martyr than to do what he’s supposed to do.
7. Jonah helped others turn to the Lord as they recognize the Lord's power through the seriousness of Jonah’s consequence.
8. The Lord prepared a fish to hold Jonah until he repented. Note that time was a factor; if Jonah waited too long, would the fish's digestive juices kick in?
9. He recognizes that he would not be in this situation if he had listened and obeyed in the first place; recognizes that his relationship with the Lord is threatened.
10. He remembered covenants he has made.
11. “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
12. He recognized that he had forfeited a portion that he would never get back, but he was willing to turn to God to get what he could.
13. Commits to turn to God no matter how painful the envisioned consequences are.
14. The Lord delivers Jonah from the belly of the fish.
15. The Lord repeats His request to have Jonah serve his mission.
16. His journey to Ninevah was not an easy one even though he was doing what he was supposed to do.
17. Jonah gives the Lord’s message; people listen and are preserved.
18. Jonah is angry because the people received this blessing.
19. The Lord shows Jonah that the people of Ninevah were at least as deserving as the gourd plant.

I know that we each have a great work to do on this earth. There are many others depending on us as well. We can allow our addictions to keep us from being productive, or we can overcome them. I believe that the Lord is an important part in overcoming addiction as He would never leave us without the tools we need to do the things He wants us to do.

One of the reasons the 12 step program (A.A. for example) is successful is because it teaches the addict that he must recognize there is a power greater than himself who will help him if he will be humble enough to ask. Our pride is what keeps us from asking for that help.

I'm praying for that help on my journey, and I pray that we as a human race can recognize these addictions for what they are. Our lives are too short to waste them in this way.

A couple of weeks ago, there was someone on a talk show who said scientists have learned that high fat, high sugar foods are addictive because they elicit a positive emotional response (due to release of dopamine).

Here's the definition according to "An addiction is a persistent behavioral pattern marked by physical and/or psychological dependency that causes significant disruption and negatively impacts the quality of life of an organism."

Do foods in the SAD diet fit that criteria? In my opinion, absolutely, at least in my life they have. Unfortunately, just knowing this is not going to change anything. We will take the knowledge unused to our grave if we do not make the changes that must be made. We must have the courage as Jonah did to make the break, and do what we perceive to be incredibly difficult. It may even seem impossible, but of course, intellectually we know it is not.

This week we're excited to have so many wonderful organic fresh fruits and vegetables to eat each day. Spring is such a wonderful time of year!

Breakfast: cucumber juice, green drink (cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, greens), still some grapefruit/orange juice, green smoothies (rejuvelac, frozen bananas, greens).

2nd breakfast: fruit

We try to eat fruit each day until we feel the need for something more substantial. Sometimes we have a whole day of just eating fruit. Other days (and Hippocrates Health Institute recommends this be a once a week habit) we only drink juices and coconut water for the whole day. (Here's a fun thought: for the juice day, they recommend one also abstains from talking. It is amazing how that changes the dynamic in your day.)

Our main meal of the day is around 2:00. This is usually a large salad or some other vegetable based main dish. Here's what I'm thinking for this week:

Chili con crema (We mix marinara with some mushrooms, corn, chopped tomatoes, and sweet pepper along with organic chili powder. Then we top it with cashew cheese sour cream (We call it crema.))

Hopefully there will be some leftovers as we love it tossed with some shredded zucchini for another meal. We call it chili mac.

Save some of the marinara as a base for some Leaning Towers. We put a little marinara on the plate. We have some nice spinach or basil leaves as the base. Then we thinly slice some rounds of zucchini. Put a dab of nut-based cheese on top of the zucchini slices (queso verde, crema, etc.). Then put some nice slices of tomato on top of that. Olives are a nice addition, and then a little more marinara. It is really simple meal, but very satisfying. If you've got some dehydrated alfredo around, it makes a nice parmesan if you'd like to sprinkle that on top. yum yum

While broccoli is still in season, we're going to have a little broccoli cheese soup. We either use marinated broccoli or regular broccoli (depending on how spicy you like it) mixed with cashew cheese cheddar. Nice with some Alicia crackers.

Collard wraps are great as we still have a ton of collards. They are still tender and delicious and easy to roll into wraps or burritos. This week, I think we'll spread some queso dulce on them (this is a cashew cream cheese mixed with raisins). Then we'll top it with shredded carrot. Roll. Couldn't be easier. Some of us like to dip this in mock peanut sauce (honey almond butter diluted with water, mixed with some lemon juice, ginger, nama shoyu, and a dash of cayenne or jalopeno pepper), but some of us like them without any dipping sauce.

With all those collards, maybe some burritos would be nice too. We'll just spread some unfried no beans on the collard leaf and roll it with some avocado, chopped tomato, and some of those wonderful hotshotz sweet onions shreds. We'll probably have some tomato salsa for those who want to dip them in something.

Well, that's 6 meals, and I'm sure we'll want to have a huge i Viva La Verde salad ! at least once this week (greens, shredded carrot, minced celery, cilantro, sunnies, dulse, raisins; ranch dressing).

Desserts this week (all plant based, no dairy or animal protein): rawky road, key lime pies, chocolate macaroons, apple crisp.

Our night meal if we have one is usually something light: apple slices and/or celery sticks with honey almond butter; carrot sticks and/or celery sticks and/or cucumber spears with ranch dressing or hummus; cucumbers with olive tapenade or sprouted garbanzo bean hummus; bowl of Hawaiian granola with almond mylk, a nice mylk shake (non-dairy of course!), or just some nice fruit eaten out of hand.

We had a delicious strawberry mylk shake with the last of the organic Florida strawberries last week: almond mylk and coconut ice cream blended with strawberries and a little rejuvelac to get it moving along with a quart of frozen bananas. Life if good!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring is Fast Food Time

I don't have a lot of time to post today, but I wanted to write about a few things I've been thinking about. Plus I really want to keep in a regular pattern of blogging on a weekly basis. I am a firm believer in consistency even though I'm not particularly good at it. Things go better when I am consistent.

I was going to write about addiction, but I think I need more time to do it justice. I saw the results of a few studies this week separate from each other, and the conclusions are interesting to say the least. Maybe I will have some time to develop that this next week.

It's spring break here in our county, so I've got a whole week starting Sunday of not having to get up at 5:00! Yay! It is will nice to be lazy and sleep in til 7:00! We might even get to the beach one of those days. Wouldn't that be a treat? It's probably still cold though, I'm guessing...

Enjoying a strawberry smoothie Darius made for us this morning. He truly is the smoothie king... They are pretty ugly though, so don't look at them. Just stick a straw in them and drink them while you do something else to divert your eyes! hahaha

He made this one with spinach, but we were surprised last week with one we made with collards. We have a ton of collards still being produced, so decided to stick a few leaves in a recent smoothie not expecting particularly good results. We couldn't believe how mild it was. The fruity taste completely won out over the greens. It really is a painless way to get more greens into us. If you haven't read Victoria Boutenko's writings on the subject, you're missing out. I don't drink them nearly as often as she suggests, nor as large an amount, but I know I would benefit from drinking them more. I think having warmer weather helps. I don't drinking cold drinks during the winter.

Our recipe for green smoothie? Easy and fast!

2 cups rejuvelac
1 quart frozen bananas
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup agave nectar
other fruit as desired
fill up the blender with spinach, kale, etc.

This makes enough for our large family of 6, so be forewarned. Cut it down if you don't want this much.

I've really enjoyed having more summer fruits this week. I always miss the citrus when it starts to wane, but how can we have too many regrets when these wonderful summer fruits make their appearances. This week we had a plum called the Larry Ann plum. I'd never heard of that. It is a nice sweet plum.

I always find it odd when people say they can't eat a healthier diet because it takes too much time. Fast food is faster... I'm here to tell you there isn't anything faster than a banana or any fruit for that matter. Pineapple are a little labor intensive (but, boy are they worth it!), but most fruits can be eaten out of hand. All you need is a sink or a water bottle to wash it!

Even salads can be made up in a flash. How blessed we are to have our greens guy who's willing to trim the lettuce and wash it up for us, so all we have to do is clean it up to eat it. Dressing can be made in large batches, or here's a recipe I got from a friend at church. She says all the salads in the Eastern Mediterranean are dressed this way (she's spent many years living abroad and traveling a lot). How delicious, simple, and oh yeah, fast is this?

Simple Salad

In a clean dry salad bowl, mash a clove of garlic with a teaspoon of sea salt to make a smooth paste. (She suggests using the back of a spoon. I've seen Rachel Ray do it with a knife.) Add the juice from half a lemon and stir until the salt is dissolved. Add three tablespoons olive oil and some freshly ground pepper. Mix well. Add your greens to the bowl just before serving and toss well.

This makes about 1/4 cup, so adjust accordingly depending on how much dressing you need.

I've really got to get cooking (or uncooking as the case may be). Here's what's on the docket this week:

Waldorf salad (This is a specialty salad we make with 2 kinds of apples, raisins, celery, soaked and dehydrated walnuts, and some avo mayo. It is only good when it's fresh, so eat it within a couple of days. We like to put it on mixed greens for a delicious salad main course.)

green spaghetti (mix shredded zucchini "noodles" with queso verde)

chili con crema

lasagna (layer thinly sliced zucchini with crema (or other nut-based cheese) and marinated broccoli in a "bed" of marinara. I top the layers with more marinara and sprinkle with "parm" which is just some dehydrated alfredo sauce. Everyone in the family likes this when it's had some time in the dehydrator to blend the flavors, but it tastes good fresh too.)

chili rellenos (some red peppers stuffed with queso verde), ensalada or Mexican rice

i Viva La Verde ! salad x 2 (at least) (mixed greens including a bunch of cilantro, shredded carrot and celery, raisins, sunnies, and dulse, ranch dressing)

desserts this week (You have Elizabeth and her sweet family to thank for these. Sweet Carl (who's a toddler) loves the pumpkin pie, so we get that every week. Anna Grace, 6, loves the rawky road, and Mama Elizabeth loves the cheesecake and fruit pies. Dad, who wouldn't eat an avocado if he were paid to do it, loves the key lime pie whose base is avocado. Of course, we don't mind a bit, as we get to eat the leftovers! Many of these make for a very extravagant brunch!)

Vanilla sylk blueberry and strawberry parfaits

Fruit pies (a delicious almond/date crust topped with banana and mixed berries)

Chocolate cheesecake

Rawky road

Coconut cream pie

pumpkin pie

Thursday, April 8, 2010

O-tay, I'll Try It!

First of all, our heart goes out to some friends who lost their granddaughter in a tragic accident last week. I can't imagine how difficult this must be for their whole family. Hearing of these types of things always brings back the feelings I had when I was told one of my children had a terminal cancer that would end his life within a year and a half. I was blessed to not have to deal with that particular circumstance, and I feel an overwhelming sense of compassion for anyone who does have to go through this.

I wanted to do a little piece on buckwheat. I am constantly amazed by this plant as it is one that I never had any experience with at all before becoming vegan. All I had ever heard of was buckwheat pancakes; I might have tried them at IHOP once but evidently did not find them too appealing as it isn't something for which I have much of a memory. Of course today I would never want to eat a seed or grain that has not been sprouted. (There was also that little fella on Little Rascals...wonder why they called him Buckwheat?)

Anyway, when I read Ann Wigmore's book on sprouting, she mentioned buckwheat lettuce. I already knew about sunflower greens and wheat grass, so I was intrigued by this other addition to the kitchen garden. I found some buckwheat with the hulls still on them and planted them, and the resulting "lettuce" was delicious. They are very easy to grow, as are all of the kitchen garden greens. I'll do more on that another day.

I'm not sure where I heard about hulled buckwheat sprouts, but now they are a staple at our house. We purchase hulled buckwheat in 25 lb increments! Each week, I soak about 3 - 5 pounds of them for a couple of hours. They become waterlogged very easily, so don't oversoak.

Drain these and rinse the heck out of them. They will have a lot of starch that will be washed away as you rinse. I try to rinse them every couple of hours. Drain well each time. You can use them as soon as you see a little tail appearing, or you can let them go a little longer, but don't let the tails get too long. If you can't get to them, refrigerate until you can.

Some people eat these sprouts as a cereal as is. You could probably put them on salads like you do other sprouts. My favorite application is to dehydrate them. We make buckwheaties by just dehydrating the sprouts at about 110 degrees with nothing added. Once dehydrated, they can be a nutty addition to a cashew yogurt sundae or as a cereal with almond mylk and some dried and/or fresh fruit. Roger loves to dip bananas in them. He can often be seen driving down the road with his jar of buckwheaties in tow along with a hand or two of bananas.

Usually we make a couple of breads with the freshly sprouted buckwheat groats. Everyday bread is a combination of buckwheat sprouts, flax seed, and carrot pulp from the juicer. Chili lime corny chips (corny cause there's no corn!) are sprouts mixed with zucchini and tomatoes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and chili powder seasonings. We also like pita chips which are made with cabbage. You can basically combine the sprouts with whatever veggies you have sitting around to make a unique and tasty bread. We mix them in the food processor to make a dough and spread them on teflex sheets. They dehydrate about 24 hours at 110 degrees. I try to turn them half way through if I can remember.

We also make crispy treats (reminiscent of that treat made with a crispy rice cereal) by mixing buckwheaties with our "marshmallow" ice cream topping. Yummy.

My personal favorite to make with the buckwheat sprouts is granola. I combine the sprouts with sprouted soaked and dehydrated almonds, dates, raisins, fresh pineapple, honey, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and coconut. The first time I made it, I added up the cost of the ingredients, and it was $60! I about had a heart attack, but it makes a lot (unless you're feeding my crowd!). This might be good without the more expensive pineapple and dates, but we really, really like it this way...

Hopefully this will inspire you to try some buckwheat. It is an inexpensive seed and very low in fat. Once sprouted, its chemical makeup is similar to that of a vegetable! How healthy is that! From a website on buckwheat:

"Sprouted buckwheat is an amazing food because it tastes like a grain but is actually gluten and wheat free and not a grain at all. It is one of the most complete sources of protein on the planet, containing all eight essential amino acids. This makes it perfect for diabetics and those who want to cut down on their sugary carbohydrates and to balance their blood sugar levels. It is also known to lower high blood pressure. Sprouted buckwheat also cleanses the colon and alkalizes the body.

"Buckwheat is a wonderful super food for people who have varicose veins or hardening of the arteries. One of the reasons is that it is full of rutin, which is a compound that is known as a powerful capillary wall strengthener. When veins become weak, blood and fluids accumulate and leak into nearby tissues, which may cause varicose veins or hemorrhoids.

"This healing food is also rich in lecithin, making it a wonderful cholesterol balancer because lecithin soaks up “bad” cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed. Lecithin neutralizes toxins and purifies the lymphatic system, taking some of the load off of the liver.

"Sprouted buckwheat is also a brain boosting super food. 28% of the brain is actually made up of lecithin. Research suggests that regularly consuming foods rich in lecithin may actually prevent anxiety, depression, brain fog, mental fatigue and generally make the brain sharper and clearer.

"Buckwheat is high in iron so it is a good blood builder. It also prevents osteoporosis because of its high boron and calcium levels.

"Sprouted buckwheat is high in bioflavonoids, flavonols and co-enzyme Q10. It contains all of the B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, and selenium, as well as many other health giving compounds."

Boy, you can't beat that with a stick. How can you go wrong? Please let us know if we can get some for you either in their fresh state or sprouted and dehydrated. Here's to hoping you have a wonderful week full of juicy deliciousness.

This week besides buckwheat, here's some meals we've planned:

mashed no-taters with marinated mushrooms on a bed of "braised" kale

chili rellenos (sweet ripe bell peppers stuffed with queso verde)

cole slaw (yes, this is a main dish for us when served with a big salad)

super nachos (elotes con crema on top of salad greens; crema, salsa, avocado)

green spaghetti (shredded zucchini mixed with queso verde); sliced tomatoes w/ olives

celery sticks and apple wedges dipped in queso dulce

tomato bisque

Make almond mylk from 1 cup almonds that were soaked overnight (4 cups mylk). Using 2cups mylk, mix it with 2 cups corn, 1/2 an avocado, 1/4 of an onion, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 of an jalape├▒o, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 tablespoon sea salt; blend well.

Combine the other two cups almond mylk with a pint of dehydrated tomatoes and a chopped fresh tomato. Blend well. Combine with the corn/almond mylk mixture. Garnish with dulse, additional chopped tomatoes, etc. Makes about 8 cups. (We always dehydrate our extra tomatoes, so we always have dehydrated tomatoes on hand. If you don't, you could substitute fresh, but your soup will be, well, soupier. Maybe use less water in making your almond mylk?)

For desserts this week, we're having pumpkin pies and apple crisp. I think there's some rawky road in our future as well. We also have some crispy treats.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Greens, Greens, and More Greens - Enjoy Them While They Last

We've been doing some rethinking about our catalogue and the things we have to offer this week, just kind of working it around in our heads. We're thinking we might want to reduce the number of things we offer so that we're not running around so much like chickens with their heads cut off (not such a great illusion for a vegan to use...). I've been thinking of what our specialties are. Certainly cheese falls into that category. We were in raw restaurant for lunch one day, and I asked the manager if they fermented their own nut-based cheeses. (They had quite an assortment on the menu.) She looked at me like I was crazy. She said that was way too time consuming. (Actually, it is a little labor intensive, but in my opinion, so worth it...) So, I'm thinking that the fact that we make all of our cheese indicates we've got that as one of our specialties.

Another thing we're pretty good at is desserts and ice cream. I don't know if I'd consider it a specialty. Most raw places do a pretty good job with it. I'm not crazy about most of them at the places we've gone to, but I think that's just because I'm really fussy about texture and so forth. I keep working at a recipe until it suits me. Of course, not everyone would like what I like... Still, I think desserts are an area that really helps a new vegan get over the proverbial hump from the SAD (Standard American Diet) to a healthier one minus the animal products. I've been reading Skinny Bitch this week. I had no idea this book was vegan oriented. I don't know what I thought it was, but anyway, I was surprised to find out the authors suggest a vegan lifestyle. Many of the foods they recommend are transitional foods, and dessert falls into that category for me. If we are eating a fruit-based diet, we would have little need for dessert, but most beginning vegans don't eat enough fruit. I think you kind of have to build up gradually.

Alicia suggested we ask our customers what they consider our specialties to be. That's a good idea. Maybe we could come up with a survey or something.

Personally for me, I'd be happy with fruit and juices every morning and the early part of the day. I love a nice big salad for lunch, and then I'm happy with snacking if I get hungry later on. I'm not bored with that kind of regime as long as I have a good salad dressing. I wish I were better about eating greens without dressing, but for now, I've got to have a good one. I usually eat my salads with ranch; we make it by the gallon now, but here's the single-size recipe as requested:

Ranch Dressing; the original recipe as it came from; I've messed with it a lot, but this original one is quite good.

Ranch Dressing/Dip

1-1/2 c nuts (cashew or mac or combo) soak them for a creamier dressing (1-2 hr is fine, then drain)
3/4 - 1 c filtered water for blending
3 T lemon juice (translates into approx 1/2 lemon)
1/3 c cider vinegar
1/3 c evoo
3 T agave (or 3 soaked dates)
2 cloves garlic
1 t garlic powder
3 t onion powder
1 t dill
1 T sea salt
1/2 t basil

And to add after it's done:

1/4 c finely minced parsley
another 1/2 t dill, minced

Makes 3 cups. Serving size 2 T. Vitamix blend all ingredients till creamy and smooth except the last 2, then once blended, stir in the last 2 ingredients. Thickens in fridge. Thin to desired consistency if using as a dressing, or toss into wet lettuce leaves as is. Number of servings: 24

There's still some good cauliflower left until its season dies down, and we haven't eaten nearly as much as we usually do. I'm not sure why, but we did have some cauliflower soup for lunch today. We whirr it in the vitamix until it is nice and warm, and it is truly a comfort food when eaten that way. We don't sell it because cold it is not nearly as good. We have put the ingredients together for our customers that don't do any food prep, but it's an easy recipe:

Cauliflower Soup

2 cups roughly chopped cauliflower
2 - 3 cups water
1/2 cup cashews or pine nuts
2 T lemon juice
sea salt to taste

Put everything in a high speed blender (if you have one) and blend until thick and smooth (and a little warm). We like to put some fresh parsley or cilantro and some chopped green onion in our soup bowls and pour the soup over them. Delicious!

We had to come up with a few main dishes for a customer this week, and decided to make a lasagna. It turned out really good. Because we always have more than enough marinara, we also made a couple of batches of chili and some veggie soup.

Lasagna (this time's - it's different every time)

Pour some marinara in the bottom of a square dish or pan. (I like to use my square springform pan.) Lay in some thinly sliced zucchini. Sprinkle with marinated broccoli. Plop on some cheese. I usually use queso verde, but I was out, so I subbed in crema which was really quite nice. This zucchini/broccoli/cheese layer is repeated 3 or 4 times. More marinara is poured over top, and then I sprinkled on some dehydrated alfredo (we call it parmesan).

I placed this in the dehydrator until time to deliver it to Fred (and our lunch time), and it was a great hit with everyone.

Being out of queso verde created a sense of panic in me, so I made some first chance I got. I just love it with veggies and/or crackers. There is so much cilantro in this batch, it's like eating a green vegetable more so than cheese!

We've started selling our cilantro or parsley for our cost, and we still don't have too many takers, so it is a little discouraging. The parsley left over is not too big a concern as we can dehydrate it, but the cilantro doesn't dry too well in our experience. We love to have it, but we have to purchase 30 bunches. That's a lot of salsa! We thought that by offering it at cost we could get what we want and/or need, plus help our customers reap the benefits at a really good price. Maybe it will work eventually.... Last week we did sell out, but this week, it isn't looking too good. At least the cilantro looks good! It is a nice addition to the salad as well.

This week we also made our delicious olive tapenade to have over some shredded collards. Here's the recipe we used; it actually calls for spinach, but we were out of it, so used some of the still tender collards from the garden.

Spinach with Olive Tapenade

mix together:

9 loose handfuls spinach
2 cubed avocados
handful of soaked and dehydrated walnuts or pecans
generous tablespoon olive tapenade
dice in a few Roma tomatoes
3 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
3 generous tablespoons maple syrup
pinch or 2 sea salt
cracked black pepper to taste
2 generous tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Enjoy those greens! We won't have them too much longer fresh. We'll have to depend on their imported cousins from California!

We also made kale salad which is very similar to the above recipe. The kids love it!

Kale Avocado Salad

1 head kale, shredded
1 c tomato, diced
1 c avocado, chopped
2 ½ T olive oil
1 ½ T lemon juice
1 t sea salt
½ t cayenne

Mix all ingredients together, squeezing as you mix to wilt the kale and creaming the avocado. Serve immediately or let it marinate awhile. Both are good and different enough to seem like different meals. We also like it with a bit of chopped sweet or green onion.

Also made chili this week. This is really good served with crema!


1 quart marinara
1 cup corn
4 mushrooms
1 sweet pepper
1 lb. tomatoes
½ cup Mexican Fiesta (Frontier brand organic chili powder)

The smaller you chop the vegetables, the more this seems like "real" chili.

I'm sure to incur the wrath of the family for giving away so many house secrets. I figure nobody really reads this anyway, right?

Here's the weekly menu items:

Cauliflower soup atop cilantro and green onions with Alicia crackers

Spinach with olive tapenade

kale salad

chili con crema with Every day bread (good over shredded zucchini too for a chili mac)

i Viva La Verde ! salad with ranch dressing (spring mix, shredded carrot, minced celery, raisins, sunnies, tomatoes, dulse)

sweet potatoe souffle, braised spinach


veggie soup