As a kid, my mom used to make BBQ shredded chicken sandwiches. The chicken was tender and the barbecue sauce perfectly sticky and sweet. I ate those sandwiches up.
From plants, grains, and seeds. I make my own tofu. I make my own seitan. I make my own everything. We do not eat a lot of processed foods.
Note: Since this post, we have removed wheat and many other processed foods from our kitchen, but I still wanted to share our story and recipe with you all!
Most nights I like to make dinner from scratch, but Fridays are my, "I'll cook, but not all of the way" days. Naan pizzas are my go-to for Fridays. They are yummy and they make use of the produce in the garden.
I pick up the naan bread from a local bakery, the mozzarella from a small farmer, and the rest is from the garden. The basil. The pesto. The tomatoes. All from the yard.
You are probably wondering how the heck do I grow tomatoes during the winter/spring...Siberian Pole Tomatoes. Look'em up. They are native and grown in Siberia. They can withstand anything.
Make some naan pizzas tonight.
Roasted cauliflower, carrots, and spinach go into this warming red curry made completely vegan and completely good-for-your-soul. When I lived in San Francisco, I was able to stop into any of the hundred Asian market to pick the ingredients, but now, I have to make a solid effort to find these ingredients. In my hunt to make this Thai soup, I was able to source the lemongrass and ginger from a small market with the rest of it from the local market.
So, I always have them in stock. My kitchen is very rustic, Asian-inspired, and a little wacky. This curry is spicy, but in a warm sense and will appease kids and adults. Your entire home will smell of lemongrass, ginger, and meaty roasted cauliflower.
Call me crazy, but I love beets. The red, staining root that is beet is one of my favorite winter treats. Each winter, after the beets have grown big, red, and juicy, I pull them from their cozy homes and make raw red beet salad.
That's right. Raw. Acidic. Surprisingly cleansing.
This red beet salad is loaded with vitamins. I combine grate beets, apples, and chopped celery tossed in olive oil and apple cider vinegar to create a stunning side salad that will detoxify your blood.
Shoot. Okay, so I caved and I made this Shepherd's pie using ground turkey because we had company over and I just knew that my girlfriend's husband would have soiled his freshly pressed True Religion jeans if there was an ounce of tofu in sight.
So, I cowered through Whole Foods (which I hate now, to be posted soon) and purchased a $15 1lb. slab of turkey. Thankfully, the ground turkey was from Diestel Turkey Ranch, a family that I grew up with in my hillbilly home town.
The meal went off fabulously and my little one who is mostly vegan as well, truly enjoyed the meal. So much so that for the last week she has been pretending that everything that she eats is turkey.
Did you know that nearly 50 billion burgers are eaten by Americans each year? Yup. PBS told me so. This statistic doesn't count for alternative meat substitutes...only red meat. Cow.
I brought my daughter up vegan for nearly four years because I felt it was important to establish a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and the like. During that time, she grew like any other toddler and never had a health problem. In fact, she is super healthy and has only had two colds in her life. She has no allergies and she is incredibly bright. I did supplement her with fortified soy or almond milk and a vitamin to be sure. You never know.
I know. I know, where the hell am I going with this-- I did have a point. You don't need to eat animals to survive. However, you can't survive without fortified foods or a vitamin. B12 is an essential part of our diet that tends to come only from animals or through processing. Either way, I am okay with it, but I want to keep our lifestyles as close to the earth as possible.
Okay, back to my point. I never intended to force her into a vegan diet or lifestyle. Honestly, I don't think we should consume dairy often because it is weird and eggs sort of freak me out...so..when my daughter turned four, I told her that if she wanted to try animals, she could.
We started with fish, which she loved. And now she is into turkey. This week we made turkey burgers. But not just any turkey burger! These turkey burgers are loaded with pureed carrots, bell peppers, garlic, and onion. Because even though she is eating a bit of animal, our consumption of vegetables will not wane. Now, our diet includes 1-2 meals per week that had fish or turkey. I'm still keeping most dairy out of the picture, and I don't know if I'll keep this animal-eating practice up, but for now, it is what we are playing with.
My house doesn't do syrup. I could never justify making something healthy only to ravage it with sugar-liquid. If you are going to have sugar for breakfast, you might as well have the sugar come from fruit...or a chocolate bar. I'm not judging you too much though, if you do drench your pancakes/cereal/waffles/french toast in sugar--sometimes, we add little sugar to our breakfast.
Although, we never use syrup. We never make "pancakes" a la IHOP either. The pancakes made in this kitchen are delectable, nutritious, and dolloped with a healthy spoonful of Lemon Curd ;0) I'm feelin' a little feisty this morning okay. The sun is rising and the coffee is brewing.
Our house has become pancakeville. A few weeks back I made blueberry cornmeal pancakes, topped them with the lemon curd we bought at Farmer's Market, and now I am forever required to serve pancakes for breakfast. Good thing, I'm only feeding one child. Pancakes are complicated. You have to make them. Mornings here aren't timely to say the least...so I make pancakes on Sunday for the whole week and reheat them in the oven.
That makes me "The Best Mom Ever" every single morning.
Okay, back to my pancakes. I don't like the idea of feeding my child "cake" in the morning, so I have never been privy to pancake breakfasts. And when I was a kid, pancakes were a special treat. So now you ask, "Then why the heck are you feeding her pancakes?" Because these pancakes are good for your whole body...and they warm your belly.
I add pulverized hemp seeds to my pancakes. If you don't know what hemp seeds are, you should check them out because they are super duper healthy AND loaded with protein. Complete protein. In this house, where Vegetable is King, that is a big deal. I pile these pancakes with a healthy helping of blueberries too. And kids love blueberries in their pancakes because they explode. I also use cornmeal. The texture is so much better than buttermilk.
Okay, now I'll shut up and give you the recipe:
A lot of hype is surround seeds lately. Chia seeds. Flaxseeds. Hemp seeds. Pumpkin seeds. Seeds are everywhere as if they have never existed until last week. Which, may I point out seems weird because most of the advertising claims that these superfoods have been around for thousands of years.
I've never really thought too much about the hype because we have eaten seeds for as long as I can remember. When you are 99% vegan, you learn to eat certain types of foods. I stir hemp seeds into oatmeal, soy yogurt, and muffins. I grind flax seed into soups, salads, and smoothies. And to appease my salt addiction, I munch pumpkin seeds. Shoot, I throw pumpkin seeds onto just about anything.
But, I haven't used chia seeds so frequently. Because of their high fat content, I reserve them for spare occasions. Until recently. Until I realized that their congealing qualities are excellent for non-vegan desserts such as pudding. Yes, pudding. Or the fact that they make excellent jams. Sure you can put them into a morning smoothies, but the little buggers stick to the side of the blender and it really is a waste. My experiments with chia seeds proves that chia seeds need time to sit within the medium for a while, perhaps overnight.
It's in the pudding.
· 3 tbsp chia seeds
· 1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
· 2 tbsp cocoa powder
· ½ cup packed dates
· A squirt of honey or 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 1/8 tsp salt (I always use iodized)
· Shredded coconut
· Dark chocolate chips
1. In a blender, mill the chia for 15 seconds. Don't worry if they don't break apart too much.
2. Add everything, but the coconut and chocolate chips, and pulverize for 1-2 minutes in the blender.
3. Pour the chocolate pudding into small jars. Top with coconut flakes and chocolate chips.
4. Store in the fridge for at least 8 hours before serving.
Summertime is almost over, but that doesn't mean my latest obsession with making ice cream has to end! This weekend I made blueberry banana vegan ice cream. I know. I know. A mouthful. Just call it ice cream and be done with it, I guess. We mixed some frozen banana and blueberries together and added some chocolate chips to it...because everything goes better with chocolate chips. And woo hoo. Simple vegan ice cream without an ice cream machine. Eventually, I will cave and buy an ice cream machine. It's inevitable.
The first time I made this, I forgot to slice the bananas, and while we were able to blend it all right-- I would definitely slice the bananas before freezing them. The flavor is the ultimate duo of berries and bananas. It really is. No added sugar or anything gross. Just fruit, nuts, and chocolate. Smile. It's ice cream.
I've been on a major sweet potato kick lately. Almost every night, there is a plate of sweet pots of the table. Mmm. Some nights I chop them and other nights, I like to wedge them. A batch takes about 20 minutes to cook under the broiler -- yes, the broiler. Never use the "oven" to bake sweet potato fries because you will end up with half-cooked potatoes or having to wait 1 hour to eat them.
I love dessert. Actually, if I weren't dedicated to being a reasonably good role model for my family, I'd eat a candy bar every day of the week. And it would always be between: Almond Joy and York Peppermint Patty. Always. No doubt about it. But, I do have self control and I am committed to eating right.
And you know what else I love? Bloggers. Bloggers who have taken the Paleo+Vegan lifestyle and promoted it everywhere. The recipes these days are darling and so super helpful. I can get a new recipe for just about anything. Although, I've always eaten "clean" and "whole", I do love the current propulsion toward getting a wider audience to subscribe to healthy eating.
(Yes, my rant is coming...hold on)
But, I just gotta say one thing: dessert is dessert no matter how you swing it. Plenty of these "clean eating" or paleo+vegan websites tout their recipes as healthy or good for you because they don't use table sugar, or perhaps they pour coconut oil/sugar/flour/flakes on everything. And the main proponent behind most of these "healthy" desserts is the use of agave or maple syrup or honey or dates in lieu of sugar.
Let's get one thing straight: all of these substances contain sugar...glucose is glucose no matter what product it comes from. I'm pretty sure all of these blogs are getting paid to say how much they despise sugar and love "healthier alternatives", but I can't prove it. I know they do it, and it annoys me, which is why I am dedicated to providing a website that doesn't sell out to the grand scheme of corporate marketing (see, rant...). Do I use affiliate marketing or ads? Sometimes...but I never ever ever ever flood my website with ads, and I would never link to something that I haven't used or doesn't fit my philosophy (or scientific education) on life. Anyways, sugar is sugar; we've established that.
I promise, there is a recipe attached to this rant, but my point must be made first. The latest recipe that is flooding the Paleo+Vegan blogosphere (521,000 in a Google search) is "Almond Joy Bars" and every blogger screams about how healthy they are for you. Yes, almonds are good for you. Coconut in moderation is also good for you. So is dark chocolate (scholarly article link). But taking those good-for-you foods and swirling them with cups of dates, honey, maple syrup, blah blah blah...adds unnecessary quantities of sugary substances to your diet*.
*Diet= Food you eat every day and not that thing where people try to lose weight.
Chili is a great way to have a dinner party. Yes, I'm serious. A chili dinner party. Throughout my undergraduate education, I held monthly dinner parties for friends and classmates. Instead of slaving away over a plate that requires 3 components cooked to perfection (in my tiny kitchen, no way), I made of pot of something delicious that puts a smile on everybody's faces.
Given that some of my friends are vegetarians, vegans, or otherwise, I always made the dish eater-friendly. No meat. No dairy, and a gluten-free side. My three-bean chili with soyrizo always won people over.
It is rich, hearty, and healthy. The soyrizo lends a textured spicy addition to the beans. The chili can sit on the stove for hours, making it a great set-it and come back to get it dish. I make cornbread with the dish, but it does great on its own too.
Green smoothies are a wonderful way to start out a hot, summer morning. Loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and the refreshing cool that prepares you for a sweltering 104...smoothies rock. Many folks are worry about the outcome (taste) of a green smoothie and I can vouch that sometimes, smoothies suck. But you drink it anyways. You tighten your big girl undies, plug your nose and go for it.
Every day, no matter what is going on, my child does this thing, and then I always know what's coming next. She wiggles from the bedroom where's she's been pretending to be a ninja for the past two hours and says, "Mooooooooom..."
"Yes?" (And I know what's coming because she says it)
And what used to ensue after this comment was a fifteen-minute conversation about what she did and what she didn't want to eat. It became too much and decided that I wanted to streamline her afternoon snack so that she only had 2-3 options from which she could choose.
Long story short, I compiled 14 snacks that she loves and I rotate them each week so I know she is eating a diverse plate of food. And the best part is that she knows what her options are and that nothing else is available. Problem solved.
Since you may be struggling with a kid who doesn't know what he wants to eat, or hell, a kid who knows what he wants to eat, but you aren't offering it, I wanted to give you my list of kid-approved snacks.
And while these snacks are geared toward kids, you could totally make them for yourself to take with you for work. I broke these up based on calorie load: 100 calories, 200 calories, and 300 calories.