Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kitchen adventures: salad spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce (vegan and raw)

  
Salad spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce

The memory of summer is fading fast here, but there are still warm afternoons where you might want something light for lunch or dinner.  These fresh spring rolls come together quickly and can be made with whatever vegetables you like and have on hand.



Spring salad rolls with peanut dipping sauce

Dipping sauce
¼ cup peanut butter or other nut butter
3/4 cup very hot water
1 tablespoon Braggs amino acids or soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
chili pepper, ,pepper sauce or chopped fresh hot peppers to taste

1. Stir together the peanut butter and hot water in a small bowl until smooth.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined. Set aside at room temperature while making the rolls.

Salad rolls
makes approximately 12

12 cucumber spears
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup packed mung bean sprouts
1 ripe avocado, sliced lengthwise into 12 even pieces
12 lettuce leaves or 2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1/2 cup grated radish
¼ c. fresh mint, Thai basil or cilantro, coarsely chopped
tofu strips, plain or marinated in Braggs amino acids or soy sauce, garlic powder and olive oil
12 rice spring roll wrappers

1. Place each ingredient in a separate bowl or plate.
2. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with warm water. Place one spring roll wrapper in the bowl and let it soak until limp, about 5 seconds. Lay the wrapper down flat on your work surface. In the upper center section of the wrapper, place 1 piece of lettuce or small bed of about 2 tablespoons shredded cabbage. You will want to leave at least 1 in. at the bottom of the wrapper uncovered; no need to leave any space at the top. In a compact vertical line, arrange a cucumber spear, avocado slice and tofu strip, small amount (approximately 1 generous tablespoon) of the carrot, bean sprouts  and radish plus a sprinkle (approximately 1 teaspoon) of the mint, basil or cilantro.
3. Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper on top of the filling. Then tightly (but gently) pull the left edge of the wrapper over the filling and the folded bottom edge and then fold the right edge of the wrapper over. It may be helpful to put pressure on the filling with your fingertips to make it as compact as possible while rolling.  Keeping the filling as compact as possible, roll the filling in the wrapper. Press the edges of the wrapper together to close. Repeat until all 12 spring rolls are assembled.
4. Serve with peanut sauce

Any leftover sauce makes a great salad dressing.  

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kitchen Adventures: A secret to fluffy vegan pancakes


Fluffy vegan pancakes

I have been doing quite a bit of experimenting with vegan baking with some success...and some results that were more suitable to the compost heap.  Getting the texture right and enough lift in vegan baked goods seems to be my biggest challenge.  I've had my fair share of flops, but I keep working at it to get things just right.

I've been struggling to get a nice fluffy vegan pancake.  Substituting flax meal and water for the egg in traditional recipes changes the chemistry and you don't get quite the same rising action.  I also tend to put some type of vegetable in just about every dish I make which allows me to reduce or eliminate the oil and add a little more nutrition, but it effects the density and height of my flapjacks as well.  I have found a little yeast is a magic ingredient that seems to give just enough extra loft to make my pancakes as fluffy as I like.


These pancakes have zucchini incorporated in the batter

Whole grain pancakes (vegan)

makes about 8 medium pancakes

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon raw sugar or other sweetener
1 cups almond (or other non-dairy) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 cup whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup uncooked rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup finely grated zucchini, carrot or raw sweet potato
Vegetable or coconut oil for cooking

Dissolve the yeast and sweetener in the 1/2 cup warm water and let sit to get frothy while you mix the rest of the ingredients.  In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flax seed meal, flour, oats, baking powder and soda and salt).  Stir in the grated vegetable and toss to coat the shreds.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients (yeast mixture, almond milk and vanilla).  Mix well, but do not overmix or it will toughen the pancakes.  If the batter is too thick, add a little more almond milk.  If the batter is too thin, add a bit more flour.  Let the batter sit for 10 minutes before cooking.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and grease with a little oil.  Cook the pancakes on the first side until bubbles appear in the batter, then flip and cook on the other side until golden.  Serve with maple syrup and fruit.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Staycation: a week long artist date

Sunflower in the garden

It's nearly the end of summer here in the US.  The summer garden is nearing its end so it doesn't need constant tending, so we had planned a family vacation for the beginning of September.  However, scheduling conflicts, some wallet draining repairs to our car...life, in general, caused us to change our plans.

I decided to take the time off anyway and indulge in a frugal and creativity filled home retreat of artist dates as taught by Julia Cameron in the Artist's Way.  So I could immerse myself in my creative endeavors, I made a schedule to help me focus to get the most of my time. Those who know me, realize that I'm not a sit back and relax kind of gal,  so here is a peek at some of my staycation and artist dates wish list. 
  • morning meditation, workout and walk with the dog
  • fresh pressed juice or smoothie breakfast
  • email and social media break
  • morning creative activity
  • healthy, mostly raw lunch
  • email and social media break
  • afternoon creative activity
  • walk with the dog
  • mindfully cooking a nourishing dinner
  • quality time with hubby enjoying our stacks of books and backlog of movies

 My wish list of creative activities include:  
  • mixed media artwork for the sketchbook project
  • blog post writing
  • recipe development for future blog posts - done while crafting lunches and dinners
  • canning and preserving the garden harvest
  • closet and bookshelf editing 
  • thrifting for fall wardrobe additions (done)
  • dance choreography for fall dance performance season
  • resourcefulcookie.com website updates
  • photo editing
  • excursion to take new photos
  • garden maintenance (done), fall planning and planting
  • day trip with hubby for historic house tours and used bookstore and antique treasure hunting
  • mailing handwritten notes and surprises to stay in touch with friends and family
  • periodic review of my yearly goals for fall through the end of the year
  • girlfriend time at yoga class and brunch (done)
  • excursion to a newly opened neighborhood coffee shop for iced tea and writing time
My retreat is shaping up nicely and I'm enjoying bouts of mindful creativity.  Here are a few highlights of my activities so far.

Rich berry-chocolate breakfast smoothie 

Makes 2 generous servings (vegan and gluten free)

Handful of kale or spinach
A frozen banana or two
About a cup of fresh or frozen berries or additional banana  (I used raspberries)
About 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used dark, raw powder)
2-3 tablespoons nut or seed butter (I used peanut butter)
Coconut water or nut milk (I used coconut water with pulp)
Splash of vanilla extract
Sweetener to taste (agave, maple syrup or a couple of pitted medjool dates)
A generous tablespoon of each maca powder and flax seeds (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.  Add about a half cup of ice if you like a thick milkshake-like texture.  Taste and add or adjust sweetener as desired and blend well.  


Marie Forleo and Chris Guillebeau discuss How to Make Your Life More Meaningful and Exciting in this video which gave me inspiration to get focused and set my intention for my stay at home retreat.


New thrift store adventure at the sweet Charity's Closet Resale Boutique at Savage Mill, MD


This vegan sunshine bowl for lunch kept me fueled all afternoon. A bed of lettuce, sweet red pepper, grated beets, tomatoes, avocado, mung bean sprouts, leftover brown rice with pinto beans and pumpkin seeds drizzled with a tahini, orange juice vinaigrette

I may not get to everything on my wish list, but I have plenty to keep me active and engaged in the activities and projects I relish, but don't always get to spend as much time on as I'd like.  I think this soul enriching break could become a regularly scheduled event each year.

What would you do on your dream staycation?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New York City Adventure: Main Street Vegan Academy

 

As part of  setting my intentions for 2014, I chose the word expansiveness to guide me through the year.  I created a carefully curated set of classes and experiences to help me grow this year.  One of the opportunities that called to me was the Main Street Vegan Academy.  I had read Victoria Moran's book, Main Street Vegan, some time ago and became intrigued when I heard about the associated coaching certification course through a blog post of a local friend and entrepreneur, Kimberly Wilson.  It is a week-long intensive that covers everything from the history of veganism, nutrition, business start up guidance to field trips to New York City vegan businesses.  It sounded like just the thing to help me hone my efforts to promote a healthy, earth friendly and creative lifestyle - so I sent in my application and was delighted to be accepted.

Jenne Claiborne doing a food demonstration, John Joseph lecture, Dr. Fred Bisci radio interview (listen here), me with Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but when the course outline arrived it was packed with guest speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds.  To name a few, we heard from cardiologists, a vegan personal chef (and one of my favorite food bloggers), an animal rights lawyer, a social media guru, a quirky and fun diva nutritionist and a 60-year long vegan PhD who was as fit at the age of 85 as many I know in their 30s.  A powerfully delivered, expletive laced message by a punk rocker/athlete turned author completely captured our attention.  I didn't think I was going to be able to relate to his story, but we connected through a shared birth year and somehow seemed to have arrived to be at the same place by completely different paths.


Tour stops to:  Jivamukti yoga and cafe, Vaute Couture, Dual Spice Store, High Vibe raw health food store

Our class was a group of about 15 students that came from as far away as Australia, California and Canada.  There were health care professionals, teachers, lawyers, a flight attendant, a mom wanting to help her child with a medical challenge and everything in between.  Our 10-12 hour days were packed with thought provoking lectures and discussions, demonstrations, field trips and delicious meals.  We had the opportunity to preview the newly released documentary Cowspiracy and attend The Seed Experience vegan conference to hear authors, doctors, activists and chefs speak, screen films and hear from the directors, workout with plant based body builders, sample some of the healthiest festival foods ever and discover small ecopreneurs and their vegan wares.



My home for the week - an apartment in an old brownstone in Harlem, being randomly serenaded on the subway, Tommie our walking tour guide and a few classmates waiting for the train, shenanigans with our waiter at a vegan restaurant

I learned a tremendous amount and it will take me awhile to process it all, plus I made some fantastic new like-minded friends.  Although we were inspired by various primary focuses from animal activism, concerns for our health and that of our planet, armed with our new knowledge, resources and connections, we all are setting out to effect change one step at a time.  


Amazing food during the week at the academy

I enjoyed sharing my adventures earning my certification as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator.  I look forward to sharing more of what I learned on my journey in upcoming posts.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dinner and a steamy summer read

 
Green enchiladas with fresh marinara sauce

If you enjoy modern day romance novels and you are looking for a great summer read while relaxing on the beach or escaping the summer heat, you will enjoy:

The Right Zip Code:  Passion Pleasure and Love on Alaska's Last Frontier by C.B. Stanton

This is pure escapism for the mature reader.  From the first word to the last, you'll be transported to the rugged  vastness of Alaska to enjoy a love story full of passion and personal discovery while learning some of the history and culture of the United States' largest state.  The lead characters have strength, tenderness and imperfections that make the story believable. This book makes you feel as though you are reading a really juicy letter from a good friend.

I have known C.B. since my childhood and am enjoying seeing her fiction writing career take off.  As a long-time family friend, I see occasional glimpses from her personal life woven into her stories especially when it comes to time spent around the dinner table.  One of the dishes mentioned in the book is a personal favorite of mine.  I had collected this recipe from her many years ago and set it aside along with many others from friends and family with the vision of one day writing a cookbook.  I dusted off the recipe card and enjoyed adapting this recipe to a vegan friendly lifestyle.  Below are both the original and vegan versions.

Green enchilada casserole

Green enchiladas

original recipe courtesy of C.B. Stanton

I only made a few changes to the original recipe so it fits a into a vegan meal menu.  The original ingredients are in parentheses.  

2 -15 ounce cans or 3 cups cooked pinto, black or kidney beans or lentils, drained and rinsed (1 lb ground beef, browned and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste)
1 small package corn tortillas or 10 homemade ones
1 1/2 - 2 cups garlic cashew cream, recipe below (small can cream of chicken soup)
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 medium onion chopped
up to 2 cups of chopped vegetables like zucchini or summer squash (optional)
1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheese  (vegan or dairy)

Garlic cashew cream

If you have time, soak the cashews in water for up to overnight.  If you're like me, you'll be pulling this together last minute so just use the cashews dry or even soak them in warm water while you get the rest of your ingredients for the dish together.  Discard soaking water.

1 cup raw cashews (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes or more if you have time)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
sea salt and pepper to taste
water

In a high speed blender, blend cashews, nutritional yeast and garlic with enough water to make a thick, smooth cream the consistency of thick pancake or cake batter.  Salt to taste.

To prepare the casserole
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
  2. Tear the tortillas into 4-6 pieces each
  3. In a small baking pan coated with olive oil or cooking spray, line the bottom with a layer of torn tortillas.
  4. Place a layer of half the beans over the tortillas
  5. Sprinkle half of the chopped onions, chopped green chilies and optional chopped vegetables over the beans
  6. Pour half of the cashew cream over the chopped vegetables
  7. Add the rest of the tortillas
  8. Continue layering with the rest of the beans, chopped onions, chilies and optional vegetables
  9. Top with the rest of the cashew cream
  10. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top 
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through and the cheese is melted (approximately 30 minutes)
  12. Cool slightly before serving. 
  13. Serve with a roasted tomato sauce or salsa on the side.
Thanks for reading!