A super simple, EASY, dinner

Ah summertime. Sometimes I love summertime, sometimes I hate it. Somedays is lazy and others it’s crazy. Today, was a crazy. Not sure why exactly, but we seemed to be go go go. On these days I can not express how much I love the crock pot. If you haven’t been using the crock pot during the summer, your crazy. (okay I said it) It’s not just for winter meals people.

Case in point. Black beans. A staple in our world. Some kind of bean every week. I make them early in the week and we eat them for dinner once and then lunch for a few days. This recipe is fantastic. It’s crazy easy and it gives me a little hint of my favorite South of the boarder food during this time when I can’t eat it.

Oh have I told you about this one? Sneaky B, has seriously nasty reactions to 5 major foods, even if I eat them (she is a nursing baby). Those foods, wheat, dairy, soy, corn and apples. Yep… it’s been trying to say the least. Can you imagine not eating those foods? I can handle not eating wheat and dairy, but the corn and soy- that’s another story. First off soy is in everything! Why I don’t know, but if you start looking, it is everywhere. And corn, I love corn. Most gluten free foods are based on corn too…. wait… way off on subject here- we will discuss this another time. Back to the beans!
blackbeans.jpgAbove is my recipe for basic black beans. They are so yummy; and it can’t get much easier than this. The most “difficult” part is remembering to soak the beans the night before. I always forget. Always. So I toss them in a pot on the stove with a bunch of water, filled almost to the top, bring to a boil and let them boil for 2 to 5 minutes. Turn off stove, cover and wait an hour. Then you can toss everything in the crock pot, turn it on low and forget about it.

Half way through the day, your kitchen will start to have a yummy smell. It’s hard to place, but it’s the secret to these beans yum… it’s the cloves. Why or why three little cloves make a huge difference, I have no idea, but I am not going to question it. It works and that’s all there is to it.

blackbeansfinished.jpgTonight we had the beans with lettuce, avocado, green onions and bell pepper. Kiddo ate three bowls full. So good.

If you try them, please let me know what you think- Enjoy!signature

 

 

 

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Sprinklings: breakfast

Breakfast used to be my favorite meal of the day…and then I started eating a vegan diet. Plus I am gluten free. So finding something super yummy isn’t always easy and quite frankly I am done with hot oatmeal with berries. So when I found this recipe on Pinterest by The Joy of Everyday Cooking I was super excited! Peanut butter oatmeal bars- YUM!

I have been making them twice a week for weeks now, but yesterday I had a slight panic…not enough honey!

Okay side note- many vegans do not eat honey, harms the bees or something like that. This is not us- we still eat honey, we are vegans for health reasons and I believe the bees enjoy making honey.

Back to the bars…I had to adjust the recipe to what I had in the pantry and they came out divine. So here you go!

barsI hope you try them outsignature

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Sprinklings: Crock pot Sunday

Sunday seems to be a lazy day in our home. P.J.’s all day, lounging around- well sort of. Usually its the day to catch up on laundry, ironing, dusting etc,  but its done in P.J’s.

Lazy days mean lazy dinners and for me that is the glorious under used crock pot. Today I am making our basic lentils.

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As you can see I’m not big on measuring when it comes to lentils, I guess its lazy measuring too.
crockpot3 Do you use the crock pot? What do you make most?signature

sprinklingSprinklings of my reality: a 31 day challenge- read the all!

A little vegan sweetness

Hello strangers! Well actually I have been the stranger lately.  Ever get into one of those “funks.” You have too much to do and no motivation what so ever to do anything. That was my last week, luckily for me I snapped out of it relatively quickly. Of course the week of not getting much done means that this week I have been crazy busy trying to catch up. The to do list is written and way to long for my own good. Oh well, that’s what I get for feeling blah.

After a fun morning working at pre-school, let me tell you 30 kiddos are loud, really loud, playing with that many kiddos sure does bring out the kiddo in me.  What is better than playing all morning, a special treat for a friday afternoon…we made cookies. Vegan cookies… Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Boy howdy are they delicious.  I will even go as far to say they are good for you, as far as cookies go that is.

Of course I am going to share, these are super simple:

recipecard

For the oatmeal flour, I use old fashioned oats and whirl it in the food processor.

IMG_6037Mix, mix, mix

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IMG_6047Someone is sneaking the chocolate chips, her very most favorite thing. “Mommy your the best” when chocolate comes into our home, which is NOT very often.

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Waiting for the oven….this dough will be thick, so don’t freak out about that. Seems thicker to me than “normal” peanut butter cookies.

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All done, and yum.  Now I am not one with a major sweet tooth. These cookies are sweet to me, you might want to taste the dough (hey you can! they are vegan!) to see if you want to add extra sugar. For us, they are perfect.

IMG_6050A Friday Tip too, in our house, kiddo eats a bunch of apple sauce, especially the ones that come in the little cups. Did you know those little cups hold exactly a half a cup?  I have a small collection of them, we use them for painting and freezing foods. So with the left over can of pumpkin, I fill up those cups, pop them in a zippy bag and freeze. Next time I need pumpkin, it’s already measured out…smart right.

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Someone said she didn’t sneak an extra cookie, I let her get away with it this time, she has been so awesome lately. Would love to know if you try to make these cookies, they are quite yummy.signature

day 27: ONE YEAR

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I am so happy that we, hubby and I, made the switch to being vegan. We ususally say “plant based diet” because we are not “peta people” (sorry peta people) but I just don’t care about chickens (in fact I hate them!). We get “the look” when we say vegan- the look of “oh are you one of those peta people who think no animals should be harmed, do we need to tread lightly around you?” NO! We are vegan for health. Anyway back to our vegan one year awesomeness!

Thinking about how to blog about this day, I was going to share some recipes and vegan tips. But then I thought about all the questions we get asked all the time and decided answering these questions/statements would be the best way to celebrate.  So here we go:

questions1

Well, it’s simple. Health! Really this is the number one reason we switched our food world. We both wanted to loose some pounds, to date combined we have lost 85 pounds! (I still have more to go, but that’s another day). We both watched our fathers pass of cancer, no one should experience this, and we don’t ever want to be in that state.  In my opinion, diet is a huge part of the cancer epidemic. (I am not a doctor or scientist, this is just my theory.) Diet is not the cure for sure, but it does play a huge roll. The easiest way to be healthy is to eat health and for us, that’s plants.

questions2Well, yes you can. But I will tell you, this was a thought that I had too. I used to love cheese. Give me cheese and I was a happy girl. Not anymore. You would be amazed at how your taste buds change, cheese today smells like rotten milk- shocking because in essence that’s what it is.  I will admit, this Christmas I did have a slice of cheese, Jetost. My all time favorite food item during our Swedish Jul Fest.  It was okay, but it messed my tummy up for days, just not worth it, lesson learned.

questions4

Kiddo is almost vegan, let’s call her vegetarian.  She still eats yogurt (sometimes) and cheese on pizza but she is slowly not wanting it anymore or very little at that. We make our own pizza and her favorite is with pickles, broccoli and a little parmesan. She likes odd combinations of food, she get’s that from hubby! If we are out and about and she wants to eat meat or dairy that’s fine, she usually doesn’t feel good the next day, though.

questions5

Okay, don’t freak out, you can get enough calcium from plants. Yep it’s true. You don’t need to drink milk or eat milk products. It’s just not true. In fact there are studies that show when milk products were scarce (like during war time) the amount of Osteoporosis cases fell dramatically. I am not going to get into the details here.  There are many studies about this, if you want to know more, I will list our favorite resources at the end of this blog and you can read it for yourself.

questions7

Yes your body does need protein, but that does not mean meat or dairy.  Beans and nuts are full of proteins. Not to mention soy.

questions8

Really? Are you sure about that. All those people in countries that live on tofu, are there girls really developing too early? Are they having health problems because they eat to many soy products? Do they have higher cancer rates based solely on eating soy? Nope, nope and nope. We have been told this, true, but has anyone actually read about? I thought this before, but after reading about it, from many sources, i don’t believe it anymore. (again see my resources, find your own and form your own opinions)

questions9

Well, all restaurants serve salads of some kind. You might think that’s boring, but for us it’s perfect.

questions10

This is funny to me; Plants. We are Herbivores. We eat plants!  Carrots, lettuce, bok-choy, lentils, broccoli, white beans, kidney beans, tofu, rice, quinoa, apples, bananas, pears, chard, oatmeal, nuts, peanut butter,  butternut squash, spaghetti squash, berries, olives, pickles, leeks, mushrooms,  and avocados. This is just what we have in the kitchen right now. There are so many options.

You know what’s funny, once becoming vegan we felt that we had to defend ourselves why we eat this way. It’s bizarre.  I am pretty sure that no ones says “Don’t you think eating that animal will cause heart desease?” to you while you chow down a burger. It’s so funny to me. Why do people care so much about what we eat and why we do it. We don’t say “OMG I can’t believe you eat eggs!” but we hear “OMG you don’t eat eggs, that’s crazy! Where do you get protein from?” all the time.  I know the plant based diet is “strange” for some, it’s for sure not the norm, but for us it’s just how we eat.

I hope this doesn’t come across as being “preachy.” I am not one of those vegans who can’t stand it when others eat meat. I don’t care what you eat. Well, that’s not totally true. I do care, but I will never tell you what to eat, but if you ask, I will give you my opinion of a plant based diet. For us, we feel better, we sleep better (in fact hubby stopped snoring!), we have more energy, we are not tied to drinking coffee every morning to get going, our skin is clear and glowing, “blood flow” is amazing, our senses have changed (meat and dairy stink now!) and we are just happy with our choice.

Maybe you will try a few vegan meals? Maybe you think I am crazy to be an “herbivore”? Maybe you are vegan too? We are just so amazed at the difference in our lives, and to us that is the perfect reason to be vegan.

My top four resources for being vegan, plant-based, an herbivore:

  • Forks Over Knives (the documentary and the cook book. We watched this and the next day we made the change, cold turkey (ha ha ha), to a vegan diet)
  • The China Study (great amazing book that reviews studies done comparing diet to heath, cancer and heart desease.  This is a must if you doubt the power of plants)
  • Veganomicon (one of my favorite cookbooks, amazing food in this book)
  • Vegan with a Vengeance (another awesome cookbook, made many dishes from here all amazing)

opinion

This is day 27 of “Improving our little world.”  

day 21: Ginger & Lentils

Alright, is it just me?  I am having such a hard time getting going. Totally not motivated to do anything. Like I didn’t fold laundry for a week (so not the norm!), we all just walked over the mountain until yesterday when I snapped. Yes snapped.  Hubby knows the “look” I rarely get, basically “get the hell out of the way, our place is a freaking disaster and I am cleaning.” Funny that he and kiddo “hide” in our room while I cleaned, dusted, folded, put crap away, etc. It’s all good, it’s not the norm.

We are taking a break today from the canvases, because, well they are not done and I want to share a recipe and a trick I have learned in the past year of being vegan.  Can you believe it, it’s almost been a year of being vegan, amazing!

Do you know what this is?

IMG_5850Ginger! The oh so yummy root… I love ginger! Although I hardly used it before become vegan because it is tricky to work with.  That all changed with I read an great tip about cooking with ginger that works! Freeze it! What? Yes freeze it…

This has been in the freezer for a bit

When you get the ginger home, peal it and cut it into roughly 1″ pieces.  Put all the pieces into a container and pop it in the freezer. When you need ginger simply take it out and grate it, I use a micro-plane, into your dish.

IMG_5852Above you can see grating un-frozen ginger is a bit messy and you don’t get as much ginger.

IMG_5856However frozen ginger… a big pile of yummy ginger! What did I make with all this yummy ginger, Curried Lentils.  I adapted a recipe from Martha, here you go:

Curried Lentils (this makes a ton, we keep it in the fridge for up to a week for quick yummy lunches)

  •  1 pound lentils, cooked
  • 2 cups rice (white or brown), cooked
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder (you can use more or less)
  • 1 large squirt of sriracha (tablespoon-ish)
  • 1 jar/can of tomato sauce, 24 oz-ish ***
  • 1 lime
  • Cilantro, handful
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Red Pepper flake, pinch
  • Olive oil

*** I like to use canned tomatoes, you can find ones with out all the chemicals and sugars added, sometime even the herbed ones and whirl them in the food processor to make a sauce.

Directions:

1. Heat saucepan and add a swirl of olive oil, add onion and cook, stirring frequently until beginning to soften, add ginger cook until onions are starting to turn brown. (roughly 10 minutes total)

2. Add curry powder, cook until you can smell curry, about a minute

3. Add tomate sauce and lentils, stir to combine, let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until thickens up a bit. Add rice, lime zest & juice and chopped cilantro, stir, simmer for about 5 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

I guess I should have taken a photo of the Curried Lentils but I was too busy eating to do that, and honestly they don’t really look all that pretty but they sure are tasty!

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read them all!
read them all!

day 13: garrr-nola

yummyOh how i am loving a bowl of granola for breakfast lately. So tasty and fills you up! Yummy.  You know what I don’t love about granola…the cost! Geez it’s expensive for what it is… plus being gluten free always adds at least an extra dollar, right?  I thought i should be able to make granola, it can’t be hard at all…and guess what, it’s not. It’s cheaper and it’s better for you.

After searching through our collection of vegan cookbooks, I found some recipes, but nothing that was perfect. So I made one up and I am going to share it with you:

granolaSimple Right. Now let me explain my “ish” measurements.  I say “ish” because this is granola, and really I don’t think you can mess it up.  If you would like less oatmeal, go for it.  More almonds, go for it. Maybe you only have 3/4 of applesauce let in the jar…that will work. Its all good, it’s granola.

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

storageStore your Granola with cranberries and almonds in an air tight container, it only lasts about a week in our house, we all devour it, but I would think it would last up to two weeks.

bowlNot only is this home made granola super healthy, notice NO oil, it’s cheaper to make your own, I have calculated it costs about $2 to make the same amount that you buy in a box for $5. Not a huge difference, but a savings for a better granola.  It’s whats for breakfast in our house.

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Day 13….ready them all here

Improvement day 8: Vegan Cupcakes

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They look good right?

Yep, I finally tried to baked Vegan, Gluten-Free cupcakes today.  At our library, I found a great book, “Babycakes” that is full of yummy looking vegan & gluten free sweets recipes.  This book is now on my wish list at Amazon by the way – you know, just incase you are in need of buying me a gift 🙂

I have always loved to cook, but baking isn’t really my forte. So on this journey of improving our little world, I thought I should attempt to improve my baking skills. Truly, if you haven’t tried baking gluten-free, it’s more like a science than baking, then you add in the vegan factor… well get your high school chemistry skills dusted off.  It doesn’t seem difficult, but you will be surprised at all the odd ingredients you will need.

After a few hours at the local Co-op I found all the ingredients need to make the Chocolate Vegan Gluten Free Cupcakes and the Chocolate Frosting. A few odd ones, I have heard of but never used: Arrowroot, xanthan gum, agave nectar, coconut flour, dried rice milk powder.  And others I have used but not in baking: Coconut oil, rice milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, garbanzo-fava bean flour, plus your basics are needed.  Well not really your basics, no eggs, milk or butter here!

frostingSo to start, you need to make the frosting in the food processor (yes really) a day before or at least 6 hours, so it has time to chill and become more solid again.  We did this yesterday and I had serious thoughts that this was going to be a disaster.  The frosting was runny, like really runny, but I followed the recipe exactly, so fingers crossed it  would work out.

IMG_5756This morning we made the cupcakes with kiddo’s bff.  These two girls crack me up.  While pouring and mixing the numerous ingredients into the mixer, they were talking about eggs. It went something like this:

  • Me: “We need to add the applesauce next, we use this instead of eggs”
  • Kiddo: “We don’t eat eggs”
  • Bff: “You don’t eat eggs?”
  • Me: “No we only eat plants, we are vegan”
  • Bff: “You mean like some dinosaurs, you are silly, your people not dinosaurs!”
  • Kiddo: “Mommy and daddy are herbivores, but I like to eat cheese sometimes.”
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Not so sure about this

It went on and on until I let them (finally) taste the “chocolate.”  I warned them many times that is was unsweetened cocoa powder and that even though it smells like chocolate, it doesn’t taste like it.  They wanted to try anyway.  Shockingly, they both thought it was disgusting! After we added the agave nectar to sweeten it up, they were reluctant to try after the last taste test, but finally did and it was good.  Okay this might actually turn out.

IMG_5771After 22 minutes in the oven, and 20 minutes cooling in the pan and then a bit more cooling it was time to try them out.  They smell like “real” chocolate cupcakes, they look like it too.

IMG_5772Verdict: Delicious, but the frosting needs work.  It’s a bit gritty and I have no idea why? I am going to make an educated guess and say that the rice milk powder and the coconut flour where not absorbed all the way, but who knows really.  I will try again, because I know it must work!

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So I am going to ad another improvement to my list for 2013…improve my making of chocolate vegan frosting. Anyway want to be my taste testers?

This is day 8 of Improving our little world, you can really all the post of this 31 day series by clicking here or here or hereblogimage