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.

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.

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.