Thursday, July 17, 2014

Activism: Canned Lion Hunting

I am woefully behind on some of my posting, so here is one for the catching up list.  We had a very busy day this past March.  Down at the State Capitol, about a twenty minute drive for us, there were several activities going on.  SR, GR and I were with our homeschool group's teen group doing our version of The Amazing Race.  There were also two protests going on: one against fracking and the other against canned lion hunting.  GR and JK both had pre-planned to go to the lion one, but GR got caught up after the race, so just JK, G and I went to this protest.  Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the thousands of people who showed up to protest against fracking, but we still managed to find the group.  Not that I was opposed to the anti-frackers - they just made it difficult to find the lion people.


What is canned lion hunting, you ask?  It takes place in South Africa, where people raise lions from cubs, feed them by hand, essentially taming them.  Then, when the lions are good and tame and unafraid of people, the handlers let high-paying "hunters" come in and shoot them in large pens, the "cans" if you will.  The day we went in March was an international day of protest, but I just checked their website, and there are ongoing events.  GR and JK made signs, which JK is holding by his side in the picture above.  Sacramento's small group of protesters marched around the capitol and tried to bring attention to this ghastly practice.  Check out the main website that talks about this at http://www.cannedlion.org/ .  Maybe you can be a voice next year along with ours.

On a side note, our family is going to try and amp up our level of activism.  We used to be much more active, and if I can find a photo of a protest that we did against Proctor and Gamble years ago, I'll make a post about that, as well.  It's so easy to become complacent in our lifestyle, especially when your whole family is either vegan or supportive of you.  But, there are too many animals suffering in so many ways, that complacency cannot be accepted anymore.  I, for one, want to raise the next generation of activists for the animals.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Green Salad with Golden Beets and Raw Pumpkin Seeds

This salad is perfect for a hot summer day.  I got the beets at the Farmer's Market, and they were deeeelicoius!



Green Salad with Golden Beets and Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
8 small or 4 medium to large golden beets
1 - 15oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Directions:

Peel and quarter the beets, and boil for ten minutes.  Rinse under cold water, and slice into bite-sized pieces.  Add the lettuce, beets and rest of the ingredients into a large serving bowl.  Add your favorite vegan salad dressing.  Feeds five hungry vegans.  Simple and scrumptious!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Organic Matcha from Kiss Me Organics

The good people at Kiss Me Organics sent me a code, so I could receive a free bag of their Organic Matcha off of Amazon, a value of $25.  For those of you who don't know what Matcha is, I didn't either.  It is powdered green tea, although the ingredients listed on the bag says "100% Organic Matcha."  So, now I've got to say this: I'm comin' atcha with Matcha!  Like that?  Then keep on reading for the review...

The Matcha is packaged in a sturdy, resealable bag and has four ounces of product.  The front of the bag boasts all the known benefits of consuming green tea, including energy, boosted metabolism, focus, skin health, and antioxidants.

  The back of the bag lists those benefits again with more detail.  They have the recommended daily dose as 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.  Since I'm not a big tea drinker, this powered form would work better for me.  They also suggest using it in lattes, smoothies and baking.  I don't drink lattes, but I do bake, and I do drink smoothies, so we are well on our way to ingesting some of this beneficial powder!


Here's what a spoonful of it looks like.  I dabbed my finger in and tasted it dry, and it tastes like...tea! 

First tester recipe up: Green tea cornbread muffins (recipe below), adjusting my Sweet Cornbread Muffins recipe.  Since I haven't seen any Matcha recipes, I wasn't sure how much of it to add to the recipe.  I made a dozen muffins, so I put in one tablespoon.  That worked out pretty well.  The texture of the muffins didn't change for the worse, and there was a slight tea taste to them.  There was just a slight green hue to them, but nothing adverse that would turn kiddos off to the idea of eating them, although JK did have to be assured I didn't sneak spinach into these like some recent Hidden-Veggies Brownies .  These are muffins I could see me making again. 


So, I made a goof when I decided to add Matcha to my Loaded Cinnamon Rolls recipe.  Since one tablespoon worked so well with the cornbread muffins, surely three tablespoons would work even better here, right?  Wrong!  Too much Matcha did not mix well into the flour mixture.  I would definitely keep it to one tablespoon.  Also, I was out of powdered sugar, so I couldn't do my regular glaze. Instead, I mixed equal parts raw sugar with cinnamon and sprinkled it on top of the rolls.  That was okay but not as good as the glaze.  I'll recreate the recipe below with the adjusted Matcha amount, and have both toppings as options.  As far as taste, again the flavor changed the rolls some, but not in a bad way. 

Finally, I made a shake and added the Matcha.  Here, I think the Matcha shined best.  My family's not used to expecting a green tea flavor in their baked goods, but they know that anything can happen in shakes, smoothies, and juices so they were the most accepting of this option.  The shake was excellent, and we felt even healthier drinking it.  I added one tablespoon (I learned my lesson!) to the blender, which made enough for five servings.  I'll include the recipe below.

Final thoughts: It feels good to add one  more healthy choice to our diets, and this is an easy way to do so.  Since I'm not such a big tea drinker, I can see me personally enjoying Matcha in our drinks.  Both SR and GR love tea, however, so they could drink regular green tea or have Matcha in their smoothies, too.  I think this powder is a good option to have in your pantry.  No complaints here.  See below for the recipes.

Green Tea Cornbread Muffins

Ingredients:

Non-stick spray
1 and 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cups vegan sugar
1/2 cup corn meal
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. Matcha or green tea powder
1 and 1/4 cups almond milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cupcake pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder, salt and green tea powder. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Divide batter into the muffin wells. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes about a dozen muffins. Feeds five hungry vegans. 


Green Tea Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

Dough:

2 pkgs. or 1 and 1/2 Tbs. of active dry yeast
2 cups of warm water
4 cups of flour
1 and 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 Tbs. vegan or raw sugar
1 Tbs. Matcha or green tea powder
Flour for rolling
 Non-stick spray 

Filling:
 5 Tbs. vegan margarine, melted and divided
1/4 cup vegan or raw sugar, divided
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon, divided

 Icing:
2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs. raw sugar
 OR
 2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs. and 1 tsp.soy milk

Directions:

For the Dough:  In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.  Let rest for ten minutes.  Combine the remaining dough ingredients in with the yeast/water mixture and mix well.  Cover bowl with a damp towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick spray and set aside.  Dip your fist in some flour and punch down the dough.  Divide the dough into two large balls.  On a large, lightly floured area, put one of the dough balls, and sprinkle the top of it with flour.  Roll out to a large rectangle, roughly eight to nine inches wide and at least twelve inches long. 

For the Filling:  Spread half of the melted margarine on the first rolled out dough with a pastry brush.  Sprinkle half of the sugar over the margarine.  Top with one tablespoon of the cinnamon.  Make sure you spread and sprinkle as evenly as possible.  We want these to be yummy with every bite.  Starting at the short end, roll up the dough.  Cut into seven to eight pieces.  Lay them cut side down on one of the baking sheets.  Repeat with second ball of dough.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Set pans on baking rack to cool for about ten minutes before icing the rolls.

For the Icing:  For a non-traditional topping, you can whisk together the cinnamon with the sugar and sprinkle it on warm cinnamon rolls.  OR for a more traditional topping, you can make the icing.  Mix the sugar and soy milk together in a small bowl. With a spoon drizzle the icing over the rolls, making sure to cover them thoroughly.  Eat immediately.  You can freeze these as well; just don't put the icing on first. Reheat in oven, then ice them.  Makes fourteen to sixteen rolls.  Feeds five hungry, happy vegans.

Green Tea Mango Blueberry Ice Cream Shake

Ingredients:

3 and 1/4 hemp milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup vegan vanilla ice cream
1 Tbs. Matcha or green tea powder

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Makes about five and a half cups, enough to quench five thirsty vegans.  Delicious!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Joe's Special with Beefless Strips

I know, I know, this is one more dish to add to my Joe's Special repertoire.   I made this sausage version in December.   I think I'm trying to recapture a magical time from my childhood.  Anyhow, you can see any of my other variations of this dish to know that I first had this with my father on long-distance bike trips.  He used ground beef, but I've changed it up any number of times.  Here's my latest version.  This is great by itself or served with pasta and fresh fruit on the side.



Joe's Special with Beefless Strips

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
2 pkgs. of Trader Joe's Beefless Strips or something similar
2-3 cups of quartered mushrooms
4-5 cups fresh spinach leaves, large ones torn

3 Tbs. soy sauce
4 to six drops liquid smoke

Directions:

Heat oil in large pan over medium heat.  When hot, add the strips and mushrooms.  Cook for five to seven minutes, until the strips are browned and the mushrooms are softened.  Add the spinach, and cook for another five minutes, until it is wilted.  Add the soy sauce and liquid smoke, turn heat down to medium low, and cook for two to three minutes longer.  Serve by itself or over pasta with fresh fruit on the side. Feeds five hungry vegans.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hidden-Veggies Brownies

Hello, and long time no see!  Where have you all been?  I'm sure it's you that's been away, am I right?  Anyhow, I wanted to put up this post before another major holiday came and went because I made these brownies for Easter.  (Did I just say that?  Easter?)  Yes, Easter!  Argh, anyways, I'm back, I'm back.  A few years ago, both my mom and SR gave me the same cookbook for my birthday.  I kept SR's because she inscribed hers, and traded Mom's in for something else.  Anyhow, it's by Jessica Seinfeld, ol' Jerry's wife, and she made a cookbook hiding pureed veggies in food for her kids, Deceptively Delicious.  I've tried making several of the recipes, and some have turned out "eh," and some have turned out "yikes!," and some have turned out "mmm."  I will share my veganized versions of the "mmm" ones with you.  I did get the idea for my Banana-Flax French Toast from her.  So, like I said, I've veganized these recipes and adjusted the ingredients to suit our tastes, etc.  One important note on these brownies, she says not to eat them warm; I will go so far as to say, eat them CHILLED.  They are a completely different flavor room temp versus chilled.  Yuck versus yum.  I brought these over to the family at Easter and told none of the relatives the secrets hidden within, and all they could taste was deliciousness and cocoa.  They were very surprised when they found out these were healthy!  Yeah!  Enjoy, and I hope to be more regular here, without Miralax!


  Hidden-Veggies Brownies.  These are the brownies cut into 24 squares, and they are huge.  You can easily make 48 squares and be satisfied.  Serve them chilled!



Hidden-Veggies Brownies

Ingredients:

Non-stick spray
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate baking squares
2 cups of carrot puree (about 4 or 5 carrots steamed then pureed)
2 cups of spinach puree (about 8 or so cups spinach steamed then pureed)
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbs. margarine, room temp or softened
2 Tbs. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking pan with the non-stick spray, and set aside.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring frequently, being careful not to burn it.  In a large bowl or large pot (you'll need something large!), whisk together the chocolate, carrots, spinach, brown sugar, cocoa, margarine and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  You can use a hand mixer on low, if you wish.  Add the flour baking powder and salt, and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.  Pour the batter in the pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.  Can cut into 24 large squares or 48 smaller ones.  Must be chilled before being enjoyed.  Do not eat at room temperature in order to appreciate the full-deception.  Kids and grandparents alike will love these!  Feeds well more than five hungry vegans.
 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Graham Cracker Bar

I made a graham cracker bar for dessert for my family, and they all loved it!  G said it wasn't mustache-friendly, but that didn't stop him from chowing down.  I made this once before, but it was a few years ago.  The response was so positive, we'll have to do this again sooner rather than later.  You can look for Nabisco Original graham crackers for a vegan choice, or my store (Raley's) has their own chocolate graham, which is vegan.  Either way, everyone got to top their crackers just the way they wanted them, and it was fun to boot!

 Graham Cracker Bar:  Chocolate graham crackers (Raley's brand), homemade chocolate and vanilla frostings, vegan chocolate chips, two type of sugar crystals and white sprinkles, shredded sweetened coconut, bananas and strawberries.  The crackers had corn syrup, and the pink sugar crystals had coloring; other than that everything else was natural and free of colors and artificial flavors.

Here are my two crackers and my quota of sweetness for a month!  On the left, a cracker is smothered with chocolate frosting and has bananas and strawberries and white sprinkles.  On the right, a cracker is smothered with vanilla frosting and has coconut, chocolate chips and more white sprinkles.  Flossing is a must to get rid of those sugar bugs!

Graham Cracker Bar

Ingredients:

Vegan Graham Crackers
Various toppings - We used: 
Homemade chocolate frosting
Homemade vanilla frosting
Vegan chocolate chips
Pink sugar crystals
Blue sugar crystals
White non-pareil sprinkles
Shredded, sweetened coconut
Chopped bananas
Chopped strawberries

Directions:

Lay everything out in a fun, accessible way.  Grab a cracker, and get going!  Feeds five hungry vegans in this house!  Yum.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

BBQ Tofu with Scallions and Red Bells

This is a fun way to change up a tofu dinner.  With barbecue sauce and a couple of vegetables, your family can have a complete meal served over brown rice.  I usually call scallions green onions, but I wanted to fancy them up, since they're in the title.  As far as the barbecue sauce, I just recommend a natural one, free of yucky ingredients.  I bought mine at the 99 cent store!  Enjoy this simple meal!


BBQ Tofu with Scallions and Red Bells

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
3 - 14 oz. pkgs. water-packed, extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 red bell pepper, julienned into 1 and 1/2 inch to 2 inch strips
3 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 and 1/2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce

Brown rice made according to package directions

Directions:

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.  When hot, add the tofu.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until somewhat browned.  Turn heat down to medium, if tofu is cooking too quickly.  When tofu is browned, make sure heat is at medium, and add the scallions, red bell pepper, and sauce.  Cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently.  Serve over brown rice.  Simple and yummy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.