Vegan MoFo Fail

Ok. I admit it. I got in over my head this year and failed miserably at MoFo’ing. (Yup. Just turned that into an adjective.) mofo 2013 FAIL

I could blame it on moving. I could blame it on – wait – I am going to blame it on moving. But, I probably shouldn’t have been so ambitious in the first place.

So, my apologies to those of you who were looking forward to more than two favorite vegan things last month.

But, I’m going to make it up to you! An apology for empty promises is not enough. Nope, not nearly enough.

So, what about a give-a-way?

Woohoo! A give-a-way!

Come back tomorrow (and yes, it will be tomorrow) to enter to win a copy of a brand new ebook all about everyone’s favorite – green juice!

See you then 😀

 

Vegan Mofo: My Favorite Tahini

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Ok. By now it’s apparent this year’s MOFO has been a major fail. Day 21 and I’ve only posted twice. Wowza. At least I have moving to blame it on. Right? *sheepish look*

I still want to share a few of my favorite vegan things with you this month, and this one is one of my all-time favorites…Max Sesame Tahini Spread. It’s sooooo good!

Max Sesame Tahini Spread

I started using this brand of tahini after reading about it on Carry on Vegan. I’ve been ordering it for a few months, and it really makes all other tahini pale in taste comparison. I can even eat this tasty little seed butter straight out of the jar – something I can’t say for other brands of tahini I’ve tried.

I know these little jars are a bit pricy, but the flavor is very pronounced, allowing you to use less of the product. Also, you can save on shipping if you order a few jars at a time – like I just did 😉

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Vegan MoFo: My Favorite Thing is…Oat Flour!

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Ok, so my MoFo’ing is off to a slow start. Here we are at day 6, and this is my first real post. At this rate, I won’t get to share very many of my favorite vegan things :-/

Regardless to my pace of posting (posting pace?), I wanted to get this month rolling with one of my very favorite ingredients…oats! And, more specifically, oat flour. Why oat flour versus the whole oat? Sometimes I react to whole oats, specifically oat meal. I use make a point to purchase organic, gluten free rolled oats (or steel cut/oat groats), but sometimes, when I eat oat meal, I almost feel asthmatic. I would probably feel the same if I ate an entire batch of whatever it is I make with the oat flour, but I’m usually able to control myself. Usually 😉

Back on track…Why do I love oat flour so much? It’s crazy versatile! I’ve had great luck substituting it one-for-one for in everything I’ve tried. (Given, I haven’t tried it with every recipe.)  But, I’ve great luck with pancakes, muffins, and…cookies! Yummy, yummy cookies.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 c oat flour

1/2 c rolled oats

1 c peanut butter

1 c fruit spread/jelly

1 flax egg (1 TBSP flax meal + 1-2 TBSP water – combine and allow to gel)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking powder

Splash vanilla (about 1 tsp)

Sprinkle salt (if peanut butter is unsalted)

Combine dry ingredients (oat flour, oats, salt, baking soda, baking powder) and stir to combine. (I do this with a fork, but a sifter would work wonderfully. Just add the whole oats secondary.) Add wet ingredients (peanut butter, jelly, vanilla, flax egg). Stir just to combine ingredients. Scoop by large scooper (I used an ice cream scooper.) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten a little after scooping.

Bake at 350F for about 10-12 minutes. (Check after 8 minutes if your oven runs hot.) Time will depend upon your oven and thickness of cookies. Remove cookies from cookie sheet right away (the oat flour will draw moisture and make the bottom of your cookies soggy), and cool on a wire rack.

My batch of dough made 16 large cookies, but don’t let that stop you from making them; they freeze well and reheat great too!

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Notes:

I thought these cookies are naturally sweet from the sweetness of the whole fruit spread, but if you’re feeding these to people who eat ‘traditional’ cookies, you might want to add a little liquid sweetener or your favorite non-nutritive sweetener. Additionally, if you want to turn these soft, cake-like cookies into muffins, try thinning out the batter with a little non-dairy milk. Mix-ins would be good too! Try crushed peanuts, diced pieces of whole fruit, chocolate chips, etc. Go crazy!

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Vegan MoFo 2013 is Here!

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It’s here! It’s here!

Today is the first day of the 2013 Vegan Month of Food – affectionately known as Vegan MoFo 2013. Woohooo!!

This is my third year participating in Vegan MoFo, and, like last year, I theme for this year’s event. For the next month, yes, the entire month of September, I will be sharing my favorite (vegan) things with you. Some of my favorite things will include products, places, websites, recipes, books, magazines, blogs, and…two give-a-ways. Yes, you read that right – two give-a-ways! Because, c’mon, everyone’s favorite thing is free stuff *wink*

Just in case you’re asking yourself, “What the hell is a MoFo?,” I’ll tell ya. Well, technically, someone from the MoFo gang will tell you, because I’m quoting their “About” page:

VeganMoFo was originally created on the Post Punk Kitchen, as an homage to NaNoWriMo. Because we do want to write novels, but sometimes cooking gets in the way. So why not combine them!

The idea is to write as much as you can all month, about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related – your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu – you get the idea, right? If not, browse around on some of our round-ups and you’ll catch on fast!

And there you have it. And here you have me, posting as much as possible this month and sharing all (ok, most some) of my favorite vegan things. Simple. And exciting!

While it’s fresh in your brain, check out the Vegan MoFo Blog Roll, RSS Feed, and Facebook page. All the cool kids are doing it. You should too.

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Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal

I couldn’t take it any long; I broke down and opened a can of pumpkin. And then I opened another. And all the while, the tiny pie pumpkin I bought a couple of weeks ago sat atop the shelf, staring at me. Don’t worry little pumpkin; your days are numbered!

Pumpkin Chia Oatmeal

2 TBSP chia seeds

1/4 c oat groats, coarsely ground (or rolled or steel cut oats)

1/2 c pumpkin puree (canned or raw)

2 TBSP maple syrup (or your favorite liquid sweetener or stevia)

1/2 c (or more) almond milk (I make my own)

1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract (I use alcohol free)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine everything and let it sit for a few minutes so the chia seeds can gel and thicken the oatmeal. Eat cold, room temperature, or warm. (I eat mine cold like cereal.)

To keep the recipe completely raw, use soaked then dehydrated oat groats (like I did), date paste for sweetener (or raw agave or honey if that works for your diet) or chunks of other dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried cherries, etc), raw pumpkin puree, and homemade almond milk (to ensure it’s raw).

If you’re OK with a higher fat dish, try swirling in some almond butter, coconut butter, or coconut oil. All three would make your oats even creamier!

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Raw Oatmeal Cookies/Balls/Oatmeal

I tried something the other day. I soaked and dehydrated some oat groats and then ground them into flour. Woohoo! Raw oat flour!

I have quite a few ideas for my new found discovery, and to begin my adventure, I started with oatmeal raisin cookies. Or balls. Or oatmeal.

Raw Oatmeal Cookies/Balls/Oatmeal

1 c ground oat groats

3 T maple syrup

1 T water (if needed)

1 T chia seeds + 2 T water (to make a chia egg)

1 T vanilla

1 T raisins

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

Dash salt

Combine the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add chia egg, vanilla, and maple syrup. Stir to combine. Add raisins. Then, either shape into balls and freeze, flatten into cookies and dehydrate (1 hour at 145F and then 3-4 hours at 115-105F or until dry enough to make you happy), or just eat like oatmeal. I did all three!

No oat groats? No problem. Coarsely grind rolled oats or even steel cut oats into flour.

Don’t like raisins? No problem. Leave them out or use your favorite dried fruit (date bits, craisins, cherries, etc)

No maple syrup? No problem. Use your favorite liquid sweetener. Adjust for stevia.

Dough not sticking together? No problem. Try adding more chai seeds, more oats, or don’t add water to your next batch.

Don’t care for the flavors of pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon? No problem. Use whatever spices you like. Or don’t use any.

 

Kelp Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I finally tried kelp noodles!

I bought two bags at the beginning of the summer, but it took me a few months to get try them. I was a little afraid. I had a couple bad experiences with those tofu noodles, and I couldn’t get that out of my head. But, there are completely different! There is no odor out of the package. None! And, although they’re a little crunchy, soaking them in cold water before using helps a lot.

I’ve been debating on what sauce to use with my noodles, and I finally decided upon a peanut sauce.

While traveling in Philadelphia, Mr. M and I ate at a Japanese restaurant near our hotel. This, in itself, is very unusual; Mr. M HATES the smell of anything from the sea: fish, shell fish, and sea weed of any kind; I can barely use nori sheets at home without loud complaints and him leaving the room. So, I took full advantage of this opportunity and ordered whatever looked good off the menu. (We ended up with enough food for at least four people, but, to be fair, I was starving – ha!) The tastiest dish I ordered ended up being a sesame noodle dish made with soba noodles and some kind of peanut sauce. I’d never had peanut sauce before, but it was delicious! I’ve been thinking about it for nearly two weeks, and today I finally recreated it. Kind of.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 c peanut butter (or almond butter, but then you’ll be making almond butter sauce)

2 tsp sesame oil (I like toasted)

1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 TBSP lemon juice (juice of about half a lemon)

1 TBSP rice vinegar (or other vinegar of choice – or more lemon juice)

1 TBSP tamari (low sodium)

1/4 c water

Add everything to a small blender and blend until well combined and smooth. (I used a Magic Bullet.) Add sauce to kelp noodles or other noodle of your choice and toss to combine. Let sauce sit on noodles for a while to absorb the flavor.

This sauce makes enough for two packages of kelp noodles. Since it was an experiment, I wasn’t sure how much to make.

Feel free to make this recipe your own. I just kind of threw things together after reading a bunch of recipes online.

Tahini Dressing

I’ve eating huge salads almost every night for dinner for months. I can’t get enough! Typically, I dress my salads simply with olive oil (organic, first cold pressed) that I massage into the greens (usually kale) and a few squeezes of lemon juice. But, on a recent road trip to Philadelphia (shout out to Phili!), I ate the most delicious kale salad from a Whole Foods cold bar. So good! I was sure to make a note of the ingredients so I could recreate the dish at home – and that I have, my friends; that I have.

Tahini Salad Dressing

2 TBSP tahini

1 TBSP tamari (low sodium)

1 TBSP lemon juice (juice of about half a lemon)

1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)

Add everything to a small blender cup (I use a Magic Bullet) and blend until well combined and smooth. If mixture is a bit too thick, thin it with some water. Start with a very small amount and work your way up. (My tahini is very runny, so I haven’t needed to add any water.)

Optional add: Nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.

Assemble your favorite salad greens, add dressing to the greens, and massage dressing into greens until they are wilted. This works great with a sturdy green like kale. Add in your favorite salad mix-ins and toss together.

This amount of dressing makes enough to coat about 4 cups of salad greens, which, for me, is one serving 😉

*Sorry for the lack of photos. Apparently the photos I had saved on my phone looked so good the phone ate them. Ha! Enjoy!!

 

Better than Newtons

I have a serious thing for figs. Always have. Always will. Ok, maybe not always will, but I can’t imagine what would happen to make me not love figs. Case in point: I used to give tours to temporary workers at a local manufacturing facility that makes Fig Newtons. Seriously. After a day at the factory (jewelry-less and covered in hair nets), everyone left smelling like figs. Most people found this sickening. Not me. I relished in it. I looked forward to my Thursday tour group days. That was the only thing that got me through those long three months of employment with that company. (“Why only three months?,” you may be wondering. I got fired. Thank God for small favors!)

My obsession with Fig Newtons (small, squarish fig cookies for those of you not familiar) started in childhood; they were one of my dad’s favorite treats. And, being a fairly obese child, a cookie was cookie; bring it on! Luckily (unluckily?!), I loved the flavor and Fig Newton’s quickly became one of my favorite cookies, too.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I still love figs, and I still love Fig Newton’s (Newman’s makes an awesome version too!), but I don’t love the preservatives, HFC, gluten, and whatever other nasties are floating around in a bag of Newtons. What to do, what to do…I know, make a healthier, vegan version of my childhood figgy treat! Enter, Skinny Figgy Bars ala  Fat Free Vegan Kitchen (which can also be found in the awesome cookbook  Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas), which I made a few (dozen) times last year. But that was last year. This is this year, and this year I’m eating a bit higher on the raw spectrum, so I went back to the drawing board food processor, and this is what I came up with.

Better Than Newtons

1/2 lb figs, de-stemmed (I use Turkish figs)

1/2 lb dates, pitted (I use Medjools)

1/4 c raw almond slivers (or raw almonds, crushed)

1 lemon, juiced (about 2 TBSP)

Optional: 1/4 tsp almond extract and/or pinch of sea salt

Place everything in a heavy-duty food processor and process until mixture begins to form a ball. Scoop giant tablespoons of mixture out of the food processor and roll into a ball. (Note: Mixture will be VERY sticky!) Then, you have a couple of options: either (a) place cookie balls on a dehydrator teflexx/paraflexx sheet, flatten, place on dehydrator tray, and dehydrate for one hour at 145F; then, reduce heat to around 110F and dehydrate another 2-4 hours or until desired firmness/tackiness; store cookies in the freezer or refrigerator, or (b) place cookie balls in a container and store in the freezer or refrigerator. Either option is delicious!

I shared one of these cookies with a co-worker who can’t eat chocolate, so I make a special point to share chocolate-free goodies with her, and she said the cookies were the best treat I’ve never shared with her — and she’s even paid for some of my treats before!

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gRAWnola

I finally did it; I made gRAWnola!

After reading a lot of recipes for raw granola, I finally settled on a combination I thought would suit me. And it did 🙂

gRAWnola

1 c buckwheat groats, soaked

1 c almonds, soaked

1/2 c pumpkin seeds, soaked

1/2 c sunflower seeds, soaked

1 TBSP hemp seeds, heaping (not soaked)

1 c dates, soaked

1 TBSP (or more) date soaking water

1/4 c raisins, organic

1/4 c currants, organic

Optional add-ins: cinnamon, dash salt, cacao nibs, vanilla, other seasonings

First, make the date paste by blending the soaked dates and about 1TBSP of the date soaking water. (Use more if necessary.) You want the paste to be thick, but not too thick. It’s going to be used to make everything stick together. (NOTE: If you want to add a touch of vanilla flavor to your gRAWnola, add it to the date paste.)

Rinse and drain the buckwheat groats very well. Add them to a bowl. Add the rinsed and drained almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds to the same bowl. Add the raisins, currents, and hemp seeds to the bowl. Add any additional seasonings at this time. Finally, add the date paste, and stir to combine. Spread mixture onto dehydrator mesh sheets in a thin enough layer so nuts and seeds aren’t on top of each other, but not so thin that mixture isn’t sticking together. (If your gRAWnola contents are too small and fall through the mesh sheets, start your gRAWnola on a teflexx/paraflexx sheet, and transfer it to a mesh sheet after a few hours. To transfer, lay a mesh sheet on top of the teflexx/paraflexx sheet and flip.) Dehydrate for about an hour at 145F and at 110-115 for about 12 more hours.

Taste test your gRAWnola along the way. You might want it a bit chewier or a little more crisp. Dehydrate accordingly.

Oven directions: If you don’t have dehydrator or don’t want to use one, place your mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet (or use a Silpat) and bake at the lowest temperature your oven will accommodate until the mixture has reached the appropriate consistency. Check the mixture after two hours and then at least hourly after that. I haven’t tried this method, but I assume it will take at least 2-3 hours. (Kale chips done this way take 4-7 hours in my oven, which goes down to 170F.) Your gRAWnola won’t be raw anymore, but it will still be delicious!

Store your gRAWnola in an air-tight container. I have the best luck with a zip-top plastic bag (even better than a glass jar or glass bowl). Try eating it alone or with your favorite non-dairy milk.

Nut/Seed Free Options: Change up your add-ins! Don’t want to use nuts? Don’t! Don’t want to use seeds? Don’t! No hemp seeds? No problem! Try chia seeds, flax seeds or meal, sesame seeds, or don’t include any tiny seeds. The extra omega 3’s are nice, but not necessary.

Date Paste

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