Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Recipe: Old Fashioned Banana Bread

I always have a bunch of bananas in the fruit bowl for my morning breakfast, but there are times when I can't eat them fast enough and they turn to mush. That leaves me with two options: freeze them for smoothies of make banana bread.


I'd like to share with you a recipe for Option #2!  This is for gluten-free bread, but you can easily substitute the same amount of wheat or spelt flour in place of the all-purpose gluten-free flour and just eliminate the xanthan gum. You can also modify the recipe to make it oil-free by substituting apple sauce for the oil. It tastes just as fantastic and the bread is still moist and lightly sweet.

Enjoy it for breakfast or as an afternoon snack with some chai tea. It will remind you of the banana bread you ate growing up.

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (or substitute 1 cup gluten-free flour, 3/4 cup brown rice flour, plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
1 tsp baking soda1/2 tsp baking powder1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground flax seed plus 1/3 cup water
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup canola oil (or substitute 1/2 cup apple sauce to make it oil-free)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup organic sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour a large loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a food processor, pulse together flax seed mixture, bananas, sugar, canola oil (or apple sauce), and vanilla until creamy with just a few small bits of bananas remaining. Add wet mixture to dry and stir together until no dry lumps of flour remain. (The batter will be thick, but don’t worry!) Fold in nuts. Spread into prepared pan, making the edges and corners higher than in the center. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 20 minutes.  Use a knife to gently loosen bread from sides of pan, then invert onto a cooling rack.  You’ll want to dive right in, but be patient and let cool completely before cutting.

  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Recipe: Dirty Blondies


You'll love this decadent dessert recipe because it's quick and easy and tastes as good as it looks. Plus, you'd never know the secret ingredient is... beans! So it's healthy, too.

Watch how to make it in this quick video and get the recipe below.


Ingredients
1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 15 oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life mini chips)
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Blend all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut in a large food processor until a smooth batter forms. Pulse all but 2 Tbsp each of chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut into batter, then spread into an oiled 8 × 8 pan. Sprinkle reserved ingredients evenly over the top. Bake for around 35 to 45 minutes, or until top is firm and sides are beginning to brown and pull away from the pan. Let cool at least 10 minutes, then gently cut into squares and remove from the pan.  Best after refrigerated several hours or overnight.




Saturday, March 17, 2018

Interview with Bhavani Jaroff on iEatGreen


It was so great being the guest on Bhavani Jaroff's podcast, iEatGreen! We talk about the difference between vegan and plant-based and why I always call myself vegan, how to answer the "what about sustainable meat?" question, what to do when you're the only vegan in your family, and my love of curry. 

Listen here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Developing Resilience


A challenge we often face as vegans is staying positive amidst adversity. We frequently encounter defensive reactions when speaking the truth about animal agriculture, and communicating effectively with non-vegans can be difficult. 

I like to think that every interaction is a learning opportunity as well as a teaching moment, because growth can happen in both directions. Discomfort is often the first step toward real change. It's a signal that prevailing assumptions are being questioned, and that can result in what's known as "cognitive dissonance," or feeling disoriented and confused. 

People often react to this discomfort by doubling down on their beliefs since they're not ready to examine them, and they may lash out defensively with sarcasm, criticism, or anger. Don't be discouraged! Remind yourself that this is a normal reaction and you are not at fault for speaking the truth. 

So why is this important? Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. This is essential for vegan activism. It means seeing every obstacle as an opportunity. When we feel powerless, we need to recognize that this is only temporary and the situation can be turned around so that we can connect with our inner strength.

Struggle builds strength. Know that you have the ability to overcome adversity by thinking creatively to solve any problem. Know that you are never alone in this struggle.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Peas & Love Veganic Community Garden



I recently embarked on an exciting new project: a veganic community garden.  Crops grown will feed people in need in Hartford county through the Manchester Area Conferences of Churches food pantry. In addition, volunteers will learn about veganic farming methods and vegan food preparation through educational events and cooking demonstrations.  We are planting the seeds of peace, love, and justice through veganic farming. 



We recently held the first organizational meeting of the Peas & Love Veganic Community Garden to begin planning. Soon this small patch of land will be planted with peas, carrots, radishes, kale, chard, and collards and surrounded by an herb and pollinator garden to attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. 



One of the principles of veganic gardening is creating an environment which mimics the natural ecosystem and minimizes outside inputs. We have a compost pile on site, plus lots of leaves and pine needles for mulch. The only thing we’ll need to be careful about is not being too inviting to the deer, birds, and woodchucks who live nearby! We’ll experiment with row covers and fencing tied with CDs.

Thank you to all who attended, the Unitarian Universalist East for the space, and to Awesome Foundation for the "seed money" to start planting!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Chronic Inflammation

Do you suffer from chronic inflammation? This is a condition where your immune system is over-triggered due to stress, poor diet, lack of exercise, and other lifestyle factors.
Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to digestion problems, mood swings, pain and swelling around joints and nerve endings, allergies, migraine headaches, and many other degenerative conditions we commonly think of as "normal." Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you this isn't fun! But I've learned that these symptoms are really our bodies telling us we need to make a major change and take time for healing.
So what can we do? While medications may offer temporary relief, they're not a long-term solution because they don't address the underlying causes, and they often come with side effects that can lead to other problems.
It's important to realize that we have the ability to control inflammation by making lifestyle modifications, as suggested in this link from the American Fitness Professionals Association. Most of these recommendations will not only reduce inflammation, but also improve our overall health, so they're worth considering doing as part of a healthy, daily routine.
I'd also recommend Turmeric and St. John's Wort, two excellent medicinal herbs that reduce inflammation and support the immune system, but check with your doctor first for any drug-herb interactions if you regularly take medication.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Vegan Valentine's Day

One of the biggest challenges many new vegans face is social situations, and particularly what I refer to as "Dating While Vegan." This was the topic of an article featured this Valentine's Day in the Portland Herald Press.

What I always recommend is to be authentic, honest, and respectful, which is generally good practice anyway, but is particularly important for first impressions when dating.  You can read more tips like this in my new book, Eat Vegan with Me, which is excerpted in this article.


Also featured is one of my favorite dessert recipes for the holiday, Vegan Dirty Blondies, made with chocolate chips, pecans, and shredded coconut. Prepare them in an 8"x8" pan, or make them fancy in a pretty tart pan and drizzle with your favorite sauce. They're best enjoyed chilled where they develop a decadent, fudgey consistency.




Sunday, January 28, 2018

Vegan Food Demo - CT Shoreline Vegans



I feel so fortunate to be able to bring delicious vegan food to people! As a private chef, most of the cooking I do is in my clients' homes, and since I don't have a restaurant, group classes are the only opportunity I get to share my creations with larger audiences.


Such was the case this weekend when I gave a "Very Vegan New Year" food demonstration for the CT Shoreline community at the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society in Madison, CT. The free demonstration included instruction in two of my favorite "crowd pleaser" recipes: Eggless Egg Salad and World Peas Salad.


I discussed preparation techniques and ways to modify the recipes for eating on a daily basis or dressing them up for a fancy occasion.


All those in attendance sampled the Eggless Egg Salad with cucumber slices ("cuke scoops" as one person called them), rolled with fire roasted red peppers and baby spinach into pinwheels, and the World Peas Salad garnished with scallion ribbons.


I'm always thrilled to hear that people enjoyed the food and plan to share the recipes with family and friends. This is how we spread the vegan message of making compassion the main course!

Happy New Year!












Monday, January 22, 2018

Very Vegan New Year Cooking Class



I had a great time cooking up a three-course gourmet vegan dinner at The Weekend Kitchen in Essex, CT this weekend. We wined and dined in a gorgeous 18th century inspired farmhouse kitchen and prepared a delicious menu of fresh, seasonal ingredients.



This class provided hands-on instruction on  how to create whole food plant-based recipes perfect for entertaining guests or eating on a daily basis. 



Students learned techniques for balancing color, taste, and texture, maximizing nutrition by using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and incorporating foods high in antioxidants and phytonutrients into their cooking repertoire. 



We created eight recipes from my new cookbook, Eat Vegan with MeThese quick and easy recipes taste as good as they make you feel! 



We started with an appetizer of Endive Leaves with Vegan Caviar and Cashew Crema. This savory start whetted appetites for the meal to follow.



The entree included a Pecan Crusted Tempeh that was marinated in a seasoned tamari and tomato paste sauce, then dipped in a gluten free breading of crushed pecans, nutritional yeast, corn starch, and other ingredients. 

 


This was served on a bed of mashed root vegetables, coconut roasted asparagus, and a savory crimini mushroom gravy. 


We finished our meal with gluten free Dirty Blondies made with coconut, chopped pecans, and chocolate chips. The secret ingredients were Great Northern Beans and oatmeal pureed into the batter to create a rich, dense texture.  The dessert was not only delicious, but heart healthy as well. 



The Dirty Blondies were plated with a cinnamon spiced Maple Pumpkin Butter Sauce that added a bright contrast to the dessert. 



Afterward, we sat down at the long farmhouse table to enjoy the meal we had prepared together. Thank you to Nancy, owner of The Weekend Kitchen, and to everyone for attending this fun class! Happy Vegan New Year! 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Recipe: Blueberry Almond Cobbler

When I'm stuck inside on a snowy afternoon, one of the things I like to do is bake. If you have some frozen berries on hand, consider making this delicious recipe. Think of a cobbler like a giant deconstructed muffin.  The batter goes in first, then as if you forgot to add the berries, you just dump them over the top.  They cook and spread and melt together into a nice yummy mess with the moist cake batter underneath. Top with a generous dollop of coconut whip.


Recipe

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (or substitute 1 cup gluten-free flour, 1/4 cup rice flour, plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
12 cup vegan sugar
14 tsp sea salt 
1 12 tsp baking powder 
34 cup almond milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
13 cup vegan margarine, melted
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds 
13 cup organic sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in milk, almond extract, and melted margarine till combined. Pour batter into an oiled 8-inch square baking pan. In a separate mixing bowl, toss blueberries, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract together, then sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until firm to the touch and top is lightly browned.


Eat Vegan with Me book launch



The year ended with the launch of my new cookbook, Eat Vegan with Me, and I officially kicked off New Year's Eve with a book signing at ION Restaurant in Middletown, CT. Thank you to Renana Magee for hosting the event and to everyone who showed up with book in hand or stood in line to purchase one!



In case you missed my talk, I shared my Top Ten Lessons Learned from 20 years as a vegan and read excerpts from my book. Details can be found in Part 1 - Conversations, along with nearly 100 familiar yet fabulous recipes you'll want to share with family and friends.



"Ten Lessons from 20 Years as a Vegan"

  1. Be the vegan you wish you had met before you were vegan (do you remember your first vegan?)
  2. Consider every interaction a teaching moment and a learning opportunity
  3. Ask open-ended questions and seek to understand and connect, not “win” an argument 
  4. Don’t get attached to reaping results; scatter seeds instead 
  5.  Keep a "being vegan" journal, write, reflect, then let go
  6.  Guilt is debilitating; accountability is empowering
  7.  Even vegans are human; be there to help each other
  8.  Be kind to yourself first
  9.  Our movement doesn’t need heroes; our movement needs regular, ordinary people like you & me to take action and speak up
  10.  Change requires discomfort, but it's worth it 

And one more - bonus material - when you speak the truth, you discover you're not alone. Never be afraid to say the word "vegan" or identify as vegan. You may just be that person somebody was desperately looking for. 
I'm here for you. Happy New Year!