Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ginger Snaps

You ever have a recipe that you would love to master, but for some odd reason, you just never got around to it, or it just fell by the wayside? Well here is just such a recipe. I have always enjoyed ginger snaps. But as I have gotten older, I knew there was something better than what came out of a bag. And yet I never pursued the recipe with any sort of vengeance. I made a few recipes here and there, along the way...until tonight.

Bar none, these are the best ginger snap cookies I have ever eaten. Loved the ingredient list, for those are all things we keep in our pantry. all the way down to the prunes. My son loves them. Always has, and hopefully always will. The girls over at Greener Eating have this glorious recipe that I am now sharing with all you folks.

I don't remember how I found this blog, but they are a joy to read and their recipes look fantastic. Trust me when I say I will be trying out some of the things thy have posted about, and you will see my results right here.

2 cups whole wheat flour (we used spelt flour)
1t cinnamon
1t cloves
1t ginger
1/4-1/2t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 cup prunes + 2T(we pureed our own)
1 cup succanat(we used raw sugar)
1&1/2 T water
1/4 cup molasses
Sugar for dipping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small-medium bowl, mix sugar, prunes, molasses, and water. Add. Add the spices, then add the flour. Refrigerate the dough for a few hours, but can go as long as overnight. I held out only for 2 hours. Roll the dough into balls and dip into dipping sugar. Flatten the cookie in your hand and place on greased cookie sheet. I found the dough to be extremely sticky, so I would suggest a small bowl of water to dip your hands into to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

They will be a bit soft when you take them out of thee oven, but they firm up quite nicely and get them to a cool wire/rack just as you scoop them off the cookie sheet.

I will definitely be making this little gems again, and again, and again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Raw Potato Salad

I am definitely jumping into this raw food thing with both feet. And I am usually up for just about anything new. So to say I was more than willing to try a raw potato salad recipe was another huge understatement. Heck, I am the woman who when she was a little girl would sneak up behind her mother and snatch one of the raw potatoes, that had been cut up in french fry shape on their way to the fryer....oh wait, that was last week.

Anyhow, I loved how this sounded and the book in which this came form, warned the readers, that it had an unusual taste, but heck, I am a vegetarian, we are ready for unusual. So thee only ingredient I was missing was the cilantro. But no worries, today was shopping day and we love cilantro anyhow, so it would not go to waste.

Well, it's not that I love or hate it, it is just like Rita said, it is an odd flavor, I could even put it in the classification of, it's an acquired taste. But I am unsure if I will make this one again. But hey, I tried. I still love raw potatoes

7 medium potatoes, shredded
1/2 red onion, chopped
1T extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime (we used 1/2 lemon)
Braggs to taste (we used tamari)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (we used about 1/3 a bunch)
Peel and shred potatoes. ( I used a box grater, for I broke the grater blade of my food processor) Peel and dice onion. Combine all ingredients. This dish is best eaten the same day otherwise the potatoes will turn color overnight. Let marinate 1/2 hour before serving. This has a most unusual taste.

See the last line I wrote? That is a direct quote from her own cookbook, Rita Romano that is.

Move Over Mayo

Well another one bites the dust. And no, that is not a line form one of Queen's songs. But oh what a group. You are sorely missed Freddy Mercury. Anyhow, on to better things. I have been toying with thee idea of going vegan and am in that process as we speak. As soon as I find alternatives to dishes, condiments, and what not in the world of food, I lose thee old food and in comes the new one.

To say that I am addicted to mayonnaise, is an understatement. And I have to be honest, I have been cutting back recently. So much so that I went form buying a quart of mayo at a time to purchasing a pint sized jar this last shopping trip.

Well, I then remembered Sarah Kramer's (of How It All Vegan) recipe with tofu being the meat (pun completely intended) of this recipe. I am learning to use tofu and in more ways than I could ever have imagined. With that said, today was shopping day and soft tofu was on the list. Knowing good and well that was the version needed for the new mayo recipe. Today was a blitz of new recipes, but this one I somehow knew I would like. And you might look at the ingredients and think you will like a dish, but that is not always the case. But in this one, it was divine. Thee only thing I found a bit unusual was the tartness from the lemon juice. Do not get me wrong, I am a lover of anything involving lemon, but this was just a smidgen too much. I will work out the kins and get it right, but this will be the last conventional jar of mayo that comes into my home. Make this and know egg yolks are no longer needed to slather on to a slice of bread.

3/4 cup soft tofu
2T lemon juice or vinegar (we used lemon juice)
1/2 t salt
dash of pepper
2T oil (we used olive)
In a blender or food processor, blend together (on high speed) the tofu, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oil until thick and creamy. Store in refrigerator in a clean, dry container with a tight-fitting lid. Will keep for 7-10 days. Makes about 1&1/2 cups.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Black Bean Brownies

Every now and then you come across a recipe that piques your interest. This is one such recipe. And for more than one reason. I love brownies, but not chocolate. I love brownies, but not sweets. I know I am a wealth of oxymoron's. I still prefer salty over sweet, but once in a while I get a hankering for a little bit of sweetness. Insert Black Bean Brownies. When I first saw this recipe I knew right then and there I was going to make them. Now, you have to remember, that I am not one of those people who crinkles their nose up at unusual ingredients. And I think that is because I have moved away from the conventional way of thinking about food. And once you do that, your possibilities are endless. Open your mind.

I found these lovely little treats at Happy Herbivore. But I had no idea just how easy and good they were. Plus thee ingredient list is something we can all recognize and pick up at our local grocery store. Yes, even thee agave is now in every grocery store I visit. Who knew.

I am going to have to tweak them a wee bit, but not too much that I will post about it. I think that mine were just a bit too soft. So insert more oatmeal or black beans. You see, black beans are not just for Latin Cuisine.

15 ounces black beans drained and rinsed (we make our own)(in bulk so we have them ready to go)
2 whole bananas
1/3 cup agave
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1T cinnamon
1t vanilla
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup instant oats (we flake our own)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 pan (we use coconut oil) and set aside. Combine all ingredients except oats, in a food processor or blender until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats and pour batter into pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes (we needed a bit more), or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing...if you can.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

In A Pickle

I love pickles, sweet and dill alike. Always have-always will. And I know that fermentation is a great way to get foods into our bodies that are more readily digestible. And we here, in this family at least, purchase dill pickles in bulk. I had made my own pickles a while back and due to laziness had not gotten around to making them again and moreso because my last batch called for whey. Now I have talked to a few women about pickle making and they remember their grandmothers making pickles, but never adding whey. So I am trying to understand thee importance of putting into our foods. Enter Megan Telpnar.

This girl is cooky and cool. I lover her quirky, upbeat style of telling you about our foods. And she is how I see myself if I ever got into video making. Food is good for us, if prepared in the proper manner and then eaten as such. With that said, I finally got around to making these little devils only because I was lacking all ingredients at the same time. If you make these and think you will be tasting the same version from what you have been purchasing off the shelf...then stop right here. For that is not what you will be getting. Those are factory processed and nothing like your Granny use to make.

Thee only flaw to my batch of pickles is that hey were not dill-y enough. But no worries, I will just increase thee amount and problem solved. My batch came out perfect other than that tiny glitch, but that is the joy to making your own food, what works for one may not work for another. they are still delicious just not like the store bought kind. Make them, I mean come on. Fill a jar and let it sit on your counter top...really??

Friday, April 23, 2010

To The Tameka's Of The World

This young lady I am writing of, has no idea I am writing about her. But she has grabbed my attention. Not many people effect me the she has. I met her recently at one of my raw food classes. Now you have to remember, I am totally new at this raw food thing, so to say I can whip out factoids on what vitamins and minerals are laden inside of raw food...well I am not quite there yet. I hope to be soon enough.

With that said, Tameka came and sat in one one of my best classes, which of course was a raw dessert class, in which I made Raw Oatmeal Cookies and my utmost favorite Raw Chocolate Pudding. But to say I thought I had made was an understatement. I thought I had seen the last of this young lady. She was energetic enough (but then so many who come to my class are and then they fizzle out, and that goes for other food classes as well, not just mine) and looked as if she was truly hooked on what I was trying to sell (which was just a new way of eating). So when my next raw food class came to be, no Tameka to be found. Alas, another one falls by the wayside. Until this past Earth Day. *insert climatic music Dun dun dun*

I was at Liberty Medical and was representing Nutrition S'Mart which is the store where I teach my food classes every month. The lady who is their community director (A fancy name for 'person to get name of store out in the community') was with me through thee entire event. And thankfully so. I would have to guess that nearly close to 1,000 + came by our table. I figured out, the closer we got to this event, that I would need help and that we would indeed be seeing allot of people.

Now mind you that this crowd was not going to be an easy sell to get them to see that organic, healthy, raw food was the way to go. So we figured that if we showed them a simple,easy, recognizable dessert, that we could grab their attention. It work. I am not sitting here saying that everyone who came through our line is going to become a raw food vegan. But we did open some eyes there. And all I kept tell them about my raw oatmeal cookies were just a few things I had to ask them, which of course none of my questions were deniable:

1) Can you turn over your boxed cookies and pronounce all thee ingredients?
Answer: No

2) Would you have said ingredients in your cupboard?
Answer: No

3) Would your great grandmother recognize those ingredients as real food?
Answer: No

That was all I had to say to them. For that got their wheels turning. I was not judging them, I was just opening their eyes to the obvious in a semi-comical manner. I got allot of,"Yeah, you are right about that." Which was a great thing to hear, for you know they had to think about it just a wee bit on the ride home. They may not go home and throw out the boxed cookies, but I but you at least a dozen folks will attempt to make the cookies they ate yesterday and maybe even a small percent will like them enough and have enough curiosity to come and take one of my classes and see what healthier eating is all about.

Well much to my surprise I caught, out of the corner of my eye, a lady I recognized. Low and behold I was looking at Tameka, the young lady who was so enthusiastic at my dessert raw food class. And she stood there, trying to sell these people on my cookies. And took it a step further and boasted on how great the raw chocolate pudding was and they would not believe that avocados were the base of that dessert and they would never know how good it was until they had tried it. For she herself was a non-believer until she tried it, and now she believes.

All she kept doing was touting how great that raw chocolate pudding was and the no one would believe it had been made with avocados. Then I asked her why she had not attended my last raw food class, for I had made this great Raw Cauliflower Cous Cous Salad and my friend Dotty from Nutrition S'Mart came to my defense and said it was awesome. And then you saw the look on her face, it was slack-jaw. She then commenced to tell me the reason she had not shown up was that she thought that the same recipes would be served again. I told her, 'Definitely not." And that it was my goal to change the food each and every class. And as I am teaching these classes, I too, am learning tons of information. But more then they vitamin packed information. I want people to see how easy an inexpensive it truly can be to go raw if one if a percentage of your diet.

And I now see thee enthusiasm she exudes, and the changes she is making in her life. 'She' has been doing it in little steps and that is how it should be done. Unless you are dealing with drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, most changes can and should be done gradually. You alone can set that time table and it should be right for you. And when you find that spot where you are completely comfortable, then stop. You will know. If you were to look up the word change in the dictionary, you would find Tameka's picture, for she is thee embodiment of what we can all accomplish. If we all had more Tameka's in this world, it would be a better place.

What amazed me a bit when we did our Earth Day event was that people were genuine confused by the fact that you could eat raw oatmeal cookies and they could taste good. There was just one person who kind of bamboozled me with her response to my saying, "Try our raw, organic whole foods oatmeal cookie." And one lady cam back with, and very politely I might add. 'I Am watching what I am putting into my body.'

Well needless to say, that blew me away. I mean how much healthier and or better could you get with raw organic whole foods. I was then the one who was confused. I only hope that we cracked open the door for people to think outside of their S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) and see the possibilities out there. And that vegans and raw foodists do not live on twigs and salads.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Carrot Salad

I am a culinary genius. Please do not thank me now, I have a recipe to post. After teaching my raw food class last night, I knew I had to start expanding my knowledge of raw food AND my repertoire of meals.. Suffice it to say I have dug out my cookbooks, raw and vegetarian and I am on a mission, to see what is out there in the raw food world and how easy I can make these dishes...not just for me, but for my adoring fans. *Was thee adoring fans a bit too much?*

I love carrots, and I have always preferred them raw. And I have made the traditional carrot salad that is laden with mayonnaise, and that is all fine and dandy, but move over mayo, here comes a salad that even Bugs would envy.

4 large carrots, shredded (mine were smaller, so I used 5)
3 scallions, minced (I used red onion)
Juice of 1 lemon
1t orange rind (didn't have, didn't use it)
1T extra virgin olive oil
3T fresh parsley, minced
1/4 t cayenne (I will cut it to 1/8 next time)
1/2 t cumin
Braggs/Soy sauce/ tamari to taste
Combine all ingredients, toss well and let marinate for at least 1 hour before serving.

I made this and served over basmati rice my daughter had made for veggie sushi she made for her lunch, and oh my stars. This is a keeper and one I will be making for friends and family and definitely at my next raw food class.

I snagged this recipe from a book I got at a used book sale. Do not think you have to spend top money and expensive books. If you have the money and want to, then by all meas do so, but there are so many books out there and many of them have salad recipes. Pick one up for $.50 and see what is inside. This book is Dining in the Raw by Rita Romano

You Don't Need Surgery

Since starting to teach raw food classes at my local health food store, I am searching all over the place for raw food blogs, website, communities. And the one that sticks in my mind most often and who I mention every single class is Phillip McCluskey. If this man can change the way he eats and feels about food, then anyone can. Read about how he came to the realization that he was indeed obese. It is an eye opener.

When I was starting to add raw food to our diets, I began google them everywhere, and believe you me, there are plenty of sites and YouTube accounts on Raw Food. Check them out and see what you like. There are many different styles out there. From the meek and mild to thee In Your Face raw foodists. I like Phillip, he is somewhere in the middle, someone I could find myself talking to and not feel as if he were talking down to me. That is how I like to feel when in someones presence. I like to feel comfortable. And if I would invite them to my backyard BBQ, then they are AOK in my book.

People feel the need to have the quick fix when it comes to weight loss. But bottom line...it did not take you 1 day to get that big, what makes you think you can get thin super-quickly. The whole idea of weight loss is how you 'feel' about food mentally before you actually start the process. For most it is a crutch. I know of a friend who did in fact have gastric by-pass surgery a few years ago. And the night before the surgery, this person went to an All-You-Can-Eat rib joint, and ended up woofing down 3 plates of ribs. Now you tell me what kind of mentality that is? That is definitely not someone who is ready to change their eating habits. Changing the way you think about food is in the mind before it deals with the mouth. And most people do not get it. And, for those who do get the stomach surgeries, there may not be some'one' telling you what to eat, but there is some'thing' telling you how much you can and cannot eat. And that is your stomach. For it is has been taken down to a size that is most unnatural. Talk about butchering the body.

So what is worse, getting to a size that puts you into a morbidly obese classification or having to go under the knife and have major surgery that many cannot adhere to. Last I heard the failure rate in gastric by-pass surgery was a whopping 85%. Hello, that alone should tell you something. It is not a free ticket to eating whatever you want. I believe there should be mandatory food classes for those who are considering the surgery. There should also be cooking classes to show people who to really prepare food and then be able to apply it to their lives. I know folks are working 40 hours plus and many of those people are single mothers. But with a wee bit of planning, you can still eat healthy, it is just a new way of doing things. I myself make my bread from scratch and I go a step further and grind my own wheat. And people look at me like I have 3 heads when I tell them this. But for us, in this house, it has become part of who and what we are. Did we get here overnight? Absolutely not. I do not suggest folks to go cold turkey. Rarely, if ever, do people have the ability to go cold turkey and stick with it. Baby steps. Find something that you want to change, and tackle it and master it. Once you have done that, then move on to the next thing you want to readjust in your life. For us it was food and positive attitude. They seem to go hand in hand.

And once you make the changes in your life, you will then see how people react towards you, but be ready for many a folks to get defensive and criticize your new way of life. It puzzled me for the longest time why people treated me like dirt (in a manner of speaking) when I told them I was a vegetarian and was on my way to being a vegan. And once a friend of mine explained it to me, it all became so clear. Once you make the changes and talk about it to others, by you being healthy, you make them look at their own eating styles and if they are honest with themselves, they are going to get mad and then defensive. It is a coping mechanism. I stand my ground, but am also trying to let people know they can do it as well, but in their own time frame. I try to put them at ease, saying that I did not get here overnight. But you will not reach everyone. There will be that one idiot in every crowd that will have a come-back to everything you have to say. Do not let yourself get pulled into that argument. Let-it-go. I no longer get angry or defensive about my eating choices. I explain why I have made them and if they continue to try and make me look like an ass, I stop the conversation right then and there. It's not worth it, for there is nothing you can say that will get them to see why we do what we do, so don't waste your breath or time...they are unreachable and comfortable in their own little world.

See, I told you I post more then just recipes. I am learning to be more understanding when it comes to peoples food choices. Years ago I was a snobby vegetarian, but no longer. Most people will never get to the level of eating habits I am at or on my way to having. And that is fine with me. What I do find offensive is that when I announce that I am a vegetarian, many folks start grilling me, not asking questions, about my choices. And yet, I never ask them about their choices. Why is that? They don't question the type of car I drive, why is what I eat so encroaching to them? Because by me making the choices I have, it makes them realize that their choices are not all that great. And most folks will tell you they want the truth, but in reality, they do not.

Glazed Honey Bars

My daughter has a sweet tooth, and she openly admits this. I however am more a salty person, Want to know how I know? Well I used love White Russians, which are sweet and creamy, now a Dirty Martini is more my style. But I can't even remember when I had one last. Anyhow, on to more pressing issues...like food.

I am now thee official Raw Food class person at Nutrition S'Mart. And yes, I am learning right along with my students. I love cooking, but this raw stuff is still new to me, but man oh man am I having a blast. To date, I have not made a dish I have not fallen in love with and for many different reasons. For one, the ease. I taught a class last night and thee only kitchen gadgets I took were: 1) Food processor 2) Cutting Board 3) Knife) Citrus Juicer *manual* 4) Bowl and Spoon for dish, so technically this does not count.

Hello, how simple is that. Heck, if not for my purse I could have carried all of those item in with only my hands. I decided at nearly the last minute which dish I was to make and it cam out grand, but that has already been posted. What I want folks to know is that I am still on a journey, and I am not some super duper extremely perfect person eating perfect dishes. Hence this recipe. My daughter found this via The Food Network and it is from Paula Deen. Need I say anymore?

Granted, we make it as healthy as we possibly can, but there are times that you just are stuck with a decadent dish. Whether it be a salad or a dessert. These were so good, that there were none to be put in a left-over container and be put in the fridge. Make these, they are ooey and gooey, but for a treat they are perfect.

2/3 cup vegetable oil (for baking we only use coconut oil now)
1/8 cup honey(if not honey, then use agave)
1/2 sugar(we use raw)
1 egg(tofu or flax seeds are great in place of eggs)
1t ground cinnamon
1 cup self rising flour(I know my daughter used unbleached white, use what you have)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts(so that's what was missing, my daughter does not like nuts in her desserts)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1T mayonnaise
1T milk (we use almond, soy or rice)
1t vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8 pan. In a mixing bowl, beat the oil honey, granulated sugar and egg until well blended. Stir the cinnamon into the flour, then stir this into thee egg mixture and mix well. Stir in the nuts. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let stand while you are making the glaze. In a bowl, stir together the confectioners' sugar, mayonnaise, milk, and vanilla. Pour glaze over the cake and spread it with a spatula(Paula says spatuler. I love her accent). Let cool, then cut into bars.

Man were these ever good, but I could only eat these in small pieces or only one. And we all admitted that the glaze made them too sweet. See what becoming healthy does to you? Even making things from scratch and you find them too sweet. This is obviously not a dish you eat every day but once in a while is fine. Make substitutions that make it healthier and then serve it to friends, they will love you. And it is simple stupid to make...in the famous words of Paula herself.