Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cauliflower, Coconut and Chocolatey Crispies

Good Afternoon.

What an incredibly lazy day it is today.  I hit my snooze button for at least 40 minutes.  The prospect of such a cold day kept me cuddled in bed.  I didn't even go for a run!  I figured today could be my "off" day. So, I had a relaxing, easy morning.  I made breakfast of toast with almond butter and jam and a juicy pear.  I finished my schedule for work and even made a healthier version of rice crispy treats!

OH!  I signed up for a 1/2 marathon.  May 1st, here in Eugene.  I felt that I needed to have something to work towards, something in the very near future.  I am also contemplating signing up for the San Francisco full marathon on July 31st.  If I was going to do a full, I wanted to do a destination marathon.  I had never been to California and had always wanted to see San Francisco.  By the end of the month I want to make a decision about it.

Last Friday I had a very tiny dinner party at my house.  It consisted of me and two other people.  But it was very nice.  I love cooking for other people.  On the menu was a curried stew and raw coconut cookies.  Cookies did not last long.  And the stew...awesome.

Curried Cauliflower Stew with Chickpeas
Courtesy: "Clean Start"

1 Head cauliflower
1 Medium yellow onion, sliced into thin slices
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1-Inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 Carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
2 Tablespoons mirin
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 Cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 Cup chopped tomatoes with their juices
1 1/2 Cups cooked chickpeas
2 Tablespoons raisins
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro

Prepare cauliflower by removing and discarding outer leaves and inner stems.  Cut florets into small pieces and set aside.

In Dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute onion, garlic and ginger in oil until soft.  Add carrots and saute 2 minutes.  Add mirin, curry powder, veggie stock, tomatoes and chickpeas and stir to combine.  Bring stew to simmer, fold in cauliflower and raisins and cook until cauliflower is soft.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve topped with cilantro.

We served it over a mix of wild and brown rices.

Raw Maple-Cinnamon Coconut Cookies
Courtesy: http://sketch-freeveganeating.blogspot.com

These cookies are delectable and very dangerous.  They hold best if you keep them in the freezer.

2 Cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
6 Tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 + 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

Maple-cinnamon icing
1/4 Cup packed dates
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
2 Teaspoons coconut oil
Water to thin

Combine all ingredients for cookies.  Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press into round cookie shapes.  Combine ingredients for glaze in a food processor, this may take a few minutes.  Pipe onto cookies and top with nuts, if you want.  Freeze until hardened.

Crispy Rice Treats, Healthy Style
Courtesy: "The Gluten-Free Vegan"

While looking for healthy recipes to make with the kids at the Boys and Girls club I came across this one this morning.  I figured I had everything in my cupboards, why not!?!  And, well, it turns out I didn't have everything.  I used brown rice cereal instead of the puffed rice.  I also used pecans and walnuts instead of the almonds.  And lastly, I used almond butter instead of mac-nut butter.  Still delicious!

2 Cups puffed rice
1/4 Cups sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw, chopped almonds
1/2 Cup currants or raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 Teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 Cup macadamia or cashew butter, or other nut butter of your choice
3/4 Cup brown rice syrup

Place puffed rice, seeds, nuts, currants, cinnamon and chocolate chips in a large bowl and mix together.  In a smaller bowl, stir together the vanilla, brown rice syrup and nut butter.  I ended up heating this mixture a little bit because it was so stiff.  Add this mixture to the puff rice mixture.  Stir until really well combined.

Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with vegetable oil nonstick spray and spoon the ingredients into the pan.  With wet hands, spread the mixture out so it fills the pan.  Refrigerate until well chilled, then cut into bars.

Rice Crispies Chilling in the Fridge

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Good afternoon.

I know that I haven't really used this blog as an emotional/personal outlet much since I started it, I didn't really want it to be that.  But things change.

Lately, I have been very angry.  I am not usually an angry person.  I just feel upset and frustrated with everyone and everything.  I can't seem to calm myself down.  I have also been very emotionally drained.  I live in a city where I have no friends, where I don't fit in and where I feel like I don't belong.  And I am stuck here for another 6 months-my lease ends in June.  I have also been looking into getting a BS or MS in nutrition/dietetics.  I am looking at at least 3 years of school work before I can even apply for a program. I need to take math, chemistry, nutrition, biochem, organic chem, anatomy/physiology, psychology...  Way to go history degree!

On my bike ride home from the gym today I had a lot of thoughts going through my head.  The big word that kept popping up was BALANCE.  I feel out of balance, out of control.  If you ask my mom, she will tell you that this is not a new phenomenon for me.  I am pretty sure that I have struggled with this my whole life, especially when it comes to food/exercise.

As long as I can remember I have struggled with accepting who/what I am and how I look physically.  In junior high I remember restricting my intake of candy to zero.  I would eat cup after cup of Kix because I thought that it was fat free and low in calories.   I also remember bundling up in multiple layers to go out to the garage and use my parents' nordic track.  I was obsessive.  In high school I cut out large amounts of carbs and would run for 6 miles after my three hour soccer practice.  And the funny thing, I wasn't chubby at all.  In fact, I wore a 00 pant that kept falling off my non existent butt.  But I felt fat, I felt chubby.  That is so sad to think back upon.  In college my weight kept bothering me.  I trained for and completed a marathon.  I was strong and lean and fast, but all I saw where the tiny imperfections.  And today...today I am doing okay with how I look.  I no longer beat myself up because I didn't go for a run or hit the gym.  I can exercise four days a week instead of seven.  I still see all my flaws but I am starting to be okay with who I am.  But I need help with food balance.

I am an incredibly emotional person.  I eat.  I eat when I am sad, I eat when I am frustrated, I eat when I am happy, I eat when I had a bad day.  I eat.  Food for me is an addiction, much like alcohol is for many people.  When I had a bad day at work, instead of having a drink, I go home and eat chocolate.  And I know all of this.  I am very aware of my emotions when I put that 5th cookie into my mouth.  I need help balancing my emotions with eating.  I am really trying to force myself to stop and think and make some tea instead, but my will power isn't all that great.  I guess one up-side to my eating is that at least it is healthy vegan sweets that I make!  :)  But honestly, I have always been that way, especially with sweets.  I wonder where it came from.

So...my goal for this year is to try to remain centered and create balance in my life.  I think my first step will be to go back to yoga, but BALANCE it with a little running.  Yoga has been a part of my life since I was 17.  I think it is time to slow my body and mind down a little bit and give it a chance to do some healing.  I will keep you all posted on how things go.

But, since this is primarily a food blog, lets get down to the food!

5 Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Courtesy: http://www.fannetasticfood.com

I found this lovely little blog via one of the other blogs I follow.  She is not vegan or gluten free, but some of her recipes are quite delicious.  I have been wanting to find a healthy, low sugar granola bar recipe for awhile now and she has done it!  Make sure that you refrigerate these or else they will fall apart on you.

1 3/4 Cups rolled oats ( I used certified gluten free )
1 Cup crisp puffed brown rice cereal ( I read this wrong and just got crisp brown rice cereal )
1/4 Cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 Cup sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup chia seeds
1/4 Cup unsweetened coconut
1/8 Cup ground flax meal

1/2 Cup brown rice syrup
1/3 Cup peanut butter
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients together.  In a microwave safe bowl heat peanut butter, vanilla extract and brown rice syrup together for 30 seconds.  Or you could heat them up in a small sauce  pan on the stove.  You want the ingredients to slightly liquify so it is easier to mix.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix really, really, really well.  I ended up using my hands because the wet ingredients were not as liquidy as they should have been.

Pour the mixture into a shallow pan.  Depending on how large/thick you want your granola bars will depend on the size of your pan.  I used a 9x13 inch pyrex.  Using a piece of parchment paper press down on the top of the mixture to flatten it.

Place in the refrigerator until hardened, about 1 hour.  Feel free to wrap them individually for easy grab and go snacking!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Brrr...it is cold outside, and inside!  I am currently wrapped up on my couch with a blanket and my heated rice bag.  Oh, and I am wearing my down booties and my warm winter coat.  Why must it be so cold?!?

As of a few days ago I no longer have a TV!  The other day, while I was making dinner, I had the tv on so I could listen to the news.  All of a sudden I heard some really loud popping noises and then my tv went dead.  Every time I tried to turn it on it would do the same popping and turn off.  I was kind of afraid that it would electrocute me!  When I went to bed that night I told myself that I am going to sell off all my tv stuff and do without tv.  Oddly, that was a slightly scary thought.  Sad.  I figured that I have plenty of other things I could be doing with my time, like reading, blogging, studying and knitting.  So far, so good.  Although I do use the internet to watch free tv shows.  Currently it is South Park.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and SAFE New Year.  It was just another day for me.  There has been something about last year that made all the "holidays" seem less important/exciting to me.  I think it is partially because I am on my own and don't really have close friends or family near me.  And I also think that it is because I have finally realized how materialistic most holidays are.  People buy THINGS just to buy them.  I saw a young woman give another young woman a plain, grey, long sleeved shirt as a present for Christmas.  The receiver could have bought that herself.  She probably already has one just like it.  The present had no meaning, no love, no thought, no creativity.  Watching this exchange made me feel very sad inside.

As I have gotten older I have become less concerned with things.  I have a hard time buying something if I already have it.  I can't remember the last time I bought a t-shirt or pair of pants.  I am buying things when I need them, because I don't have it.  And I am buying better quality things when I do purchase new items.  I guess I just don't want to be burdened by all the things that can clutter my life.  I have become very minimalistic...except when it comes to cooking and my kitchen.

And with that...onto food!

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Courtesy: http://sketch-freeveganeating.blogspot.com/

The original recipe calls for cashew butter, but since I had peanut butter on hand that is what I used.  This is a very yummy, little cookie.  It definitely has a coconutty flavor from the coconut flour, but it wasn't too sweet.  Try not to eat too many!

1/2 Cup roasted cashew butter, or peanut butter
1/2 Cup sucanat
1/2 Cup coconut flour
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Flax egg*
1/4 Cup almond milk/water ( I used hemp milk )
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

*1 Teaspoon of ground flax whisked together with 3 Tablespoons warm water.  Let sit for a few minutes.

Mix together nut butter, almond milk, sucanat, vanilla extract, and flax egg in a bowl.  In a second bowl mix together salt, coconut flour and baking soda.  Slowly combine wet and dry ingredients together.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Form into balls and use fork to create criss cross pattern.  Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Let cool completely before eating.