Saturday, February 2, 2019

An Abundant Kitchen Talk Notes and Resources

This Saturday's event at My Dead Aunt's Bookstore was a successful and fun event.  A big thanks to everyone who came out; it was great to see your smiling faces!  I delivered a talk covering the basics of plant-based eating and we reviewed a few of the many vegan and vegetarian cookbooks from the collection that I had the opportunity to curate for the store.  We also snacked on some samples of a few of the recipes from the cookbooks to inspire everyone to see what they could make at home.   We covered quite a few resources, and I wanted to pull them all together for everyone to reference (plus a few more) .  Even if you didn't have the opportunity to come to the event in person, you will find helpful information below.

We sampled:

Donut Holes  Here is a previous blogpost I penned about this recipe which is from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen (I substituted both dried mango and apricots in the event batch)

Chocolate Brownie Bites were this recipe from Deliciously Ella's blog (without hemp hearts, added cacao nibs) and also a version in her cookbook

Jerk Spiced Tofu - from the cookbook The Vegetarian Grill

Green Smoothie - similar to this one from Kris Karr, subbing frozen pineapple and mango for the apple

Where do you get your protein on a plant-based diet?

Movies about healthy eating

Books about healthy eating/plant-based diet


Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Hot Lemon Ginger Tea

This winter is starting off cold and damp for where I live this year.  It's the kind of weather that makes you want to snuggle in with a good book or movie and a steaming mug.  This tea has the refreshing tartness of lemonade with a slight tingle from ginger.  This delicious beverage offers both comfort and the health benefits of vitamin C and antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting.  If you prefer to avoid caffeine, you can use a decaffeinated green tea or choose an herbal tea like lemon, mint, or hibiscus instead.

Hot Lemon Ginger Tea

1 ginger tea bag (I used Yogi brand)
1 green tea bag (I used Celestial Seasonings brand)
1/2 lemon, washed and sliced
Sweetener, to taste (maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia, or any favorite sweetener)
1-2 slices fresh ginger root (optional)
Boiling water

In a large mug (at least 10 oz), place the sliced lemon and a small amount of sweetener (I used dried stevia from my garden which is what those dark green flecks in the cup are plus a teaspoon of maple syrup).  With a spoon, mash the lemon slices, sweetener and ginger (if using) together to release some of the juice and oil from the lemon.  Add both a green tea bag and ginger tea bag and fill the mug with boiling water.  Let steep for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags.  Stir and adjust by adding more sweetener if desired.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

If you liked this post, check out some other recipes found here.  

Friday, December 28, 2018

Garden Highlights 2018

We have just celebrated the winter solstice in my part of the world, and the seed catalogs are already starting to turn up in my mailbox for the next planting season.  Work and studies have kept me pretty busy, but I carved out a little time to put in a kitchen garden again last year.  Digging in the soil, listening to the buzz of the bees, and working muscles little used while sitting at a desk helped slow time down for while while the stress melted away.  This year had a cool and rainy start which delayed getting the garden started.  I was so excited to see one of my fig trees develop fruit for the first time; however, because of the cool start, it was so late in the season that they didn't get a chance to mature...fingers crossed for next year.  Although I wasn't able to have as much variety as some previous years, I was still able to capture a few glamour shots of the daily (sometimes twice a week) harvests.  Before I turn to dreaming about next year's garden plan, I thought I'd share some of these highlights from my 2018 garden with you.

2018 Garden Highlights

Early spring greens (chard, kale, spinach)

Makings of a strawberry and greens smoothie

The wettest year on record helped produce these giant squash plants in this view of two of the raised beds in the front yard.

Cucumbers, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, green, wax, and broad beans, peppers and basil

Onions, shallots, cucumbers (green and Asian dragons egg), bell pepper, zucchini, ground cherries, green, wax and broad beans

Onions, eggplant, cucumbers (green and Asian dragons egg), bell pepper, zucchini, ground cherries, green, wax and broad beans, tomato, and lima beans

French market carrots, Asian cucumber, tomatoes, red and yellow onions, shallots, and broad beans

Cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground cherries, green, wax and broad beans, Italian sweet peppers, and lima beans

Cantaloupe and heirloom tomatoes

Eggplant, Italian and bell sweet peppers, tomatoes, basil, cucumber, sage, and raspberries

Eggplant, bell and jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, and sage

Eggplant, jalapeñand bell peppers, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and arugula

Kale, chard, carrots, and sweet peppers

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Kitchen adventure: Carrot cake cupcakes with lemon frosting

Carrot cake cupcakes with lemon frosting

Eating more whole foods is better for us, but sometimes you just want dessert.  I have found a recipe for a cupcake that is moist and decadent without any added processed sugar, oil, or salt.  It's a cupcake that you won't feel guilty about eating with its sweetness and moistness coming from fruit and the creaminess in the frosting from the healthier oils found in nuts. 

This recipe is inspired from a current favorite cookbook and blog, Straight Up Food, by Cathy Fisher.  You'll find the original recipe here, and below is my version with all the changes I made incorporated.

For the best results, make the frosting first, then put it in the refrigerator to firm up while making the cupcakes.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting

Lemon Frosting

9 pitted medjool dates

1 scant cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest from 1/2 of a lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ to 1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped roasted chopped pecans (optional; for garnish)
  1. Place the dates, cashews, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla into a blender. Add ¾ cup of water.  If the water doesn't completely cover the dates and nuts, add just enough until it does. Set aside for at least  15 minutes so the dates and nuts can soften.  If you don't have a high powered blender, soak for 45 minutes or more so everything can thoroughly soften to get a smoother consistency.
  2. Blend until very smooth,  (Add a little more water if the mixture is too thick to blend, being careful not to make it too runny.)
  3. Transfer the frosting into a covered bowl, and refrigerate to cool and firm up while you are making the cupcakes.


1½ cups non-dairy milk
10 pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup pineapple chunks (I used fresh, but frozen or unsweetened canned would work)
1/2 cup mango chunks (I used frozen, defrosted, and fresh would work too)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1¾ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ cups grated carrots grated fine (2 medium)
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  1. Place the nondairy milk, dates, and vanilla into a bowl and set aside for at least 15 minutes (so the dates can soften).
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners
  3. Grind the oats into flour with a blender. Transfer to a medium bowl, and whisk in the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. Place the milk, dates and vanilla mixture plus the pineapple and mango in the blender, and blend until smooth.
  5. Stir the date mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Fold in the grated carrots and nuts.
  6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is medium brown and a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and placing on a cooling rack, and cool completely before frosting. 
  8. Frost with the prepared chilled lemon frosting.  
  9. Keep refrigerated.

Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Garden highlights - 2017

Heirloom tomatoes

This year's garden was about compromise.  Work and studies left me little time to nurture seeds from start to transplant, so I opted for heirloom seedlings from online sources and the local nursery.  I was pleasantly surprised that the selection wasn't as narrow as I had feared.   Happily, I was still able to stock the freezer with tomatoes of about half a dozen varieties for making soups and stews over the winter, and there was usually something available for harvest fresh from the garden on most days.  Sadly, the basil was ready for harvest as I studied for a final and then was away on vacation.  Because of this, I didn't get to stock up on homemade pesto this year, but I think the neighbors enjoyed the windfall.  Another casualty to this year's weather was the garlic, which only yielded a few scrawny bulbs at harvest.  On the plus side, I was able to deter the deer that like to nibble our green bean plants.  This time, I tucked the bean seeds among the prickly leaves of zucchini plants, which the deer avoid.  This seemed to have made our garden no longer on the equivalent of the deer's Zagat guide of best places to eat because they seemed to have been frequenting our neighbor's flowering bush instead.  This year's gardening experience was certainly a bit pared down over the last few; however, I'll take it over not having one at all.  The seed catalogs have arrived in the mail just as we're settling in for a couple of weeks of below freezing winter weather, so it's time to snuggle up to the fireplace and start planning for next spring.

Although I didn't get to share the progress throughout the growing season, I did manage to capture it in photos.  Here are some of the highlights from the garden this year.
Flowers in an urn, a raised bed, a fig tree, zucchini and yellow squash

Daily harvests

Some of the flowers from this summer

Swiss chard, Italian eggplant, tomatoes ripening on the vine, strawberries