Did You Know?

Did you know??
Although using avocados and bananas are all the buzz now to get soft and shiny hair, all it will get you is a messy kitchen and bathroom. These products are great to help your hair for one day, but the proteins in them are way too big for your hair to absorb. And unless you are going to use them each day (yikes!), then you should head to a beauty supply store and check out some Vegan products that use "hydrolyzed" proteins - proteins from avocados and bananas that actually are small enough to help your hair.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hearty Vegan TVP Chili


This vegan chili is meaty without the unhealthiness of vegan fake meats.  TVP, also known by its long name-- textured vegetable protein-- is, you got it, high in protein, and has a similar texture to ground meat.  If you look around on our blog a bit, it's a staple in a few other foods including Mini Tacos and Sloppy Joe's, so it shouldn't be a surprise that it's a perfect fit in something like a hearty chili.  It's football season again, so the chili is coming out!

1 cup celery, chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 banana pepper, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
6 bread & butter pickle slices, chopped
1 cup corn
1 1/2 cups TVP
1 red onion, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 15 oz. can, red kidney beans
1 zucchini, chopped
2 tbsp bbq sauce, your preference (I'm using a homemade Kansas City Style BBQ).
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp steak sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce, low-sodium
5 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil

In a large pot, add olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, frying for 3-4 minutes.

Add celery, peppers, carrots, pickles, corn and zucchini.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Add beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and add TVP, sauces, and spices.

Simmer for at least one hour and enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quinoa and Red Kidney Beans

Quinoa, nature's perfect protein, is delicious. Unfortunately, it's a bit expensive, so we try not to buy it too frequently.  But when we do, it doesn't stay in the house long.  This was something that I had tried when the director of the program I teach invited us over to her house for a Christmas party.  She is gluten-intolerant, and this was one of the dishes she had prepared.  Now, every time I make it, I recall that moment when I had first tried it.  It is a bit strange how certain foods and smells can bring you to a frame of mind that you had years past, and it's interesting how you cannot rationalize when it does and does not occur.

Anyways, this is simple and a great, delicious meal-- especially if you're a first-time quinoa eater.

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1(15 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes.

Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through.

Mix in the red kidney beans and cilantro and again simmer until heated thoroughly.  Serve warm!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cake batter smoothie


This cake batter smoothie was a bit of a challenge to put together-- there were plenty of cake batter smoothie recipes I had seen online, but none of them I really 'bought'... to me they had all tasted like a thick vanilla shake.  This one, however, is a bullseye.  No one will mistake it for something else.  I paired it with David Henry Hwang's M Butterfly for this reason; this novel is about the observation and identification of sex, sexuality, and identity as it exists in its performative stage, much as this shake is identifiable for its flavorative (yeah, I made that word up.  Suck it, Harvard) values in that it is very much what it is not.  So yeah.  Read that book-- it's pretty awesome.  You can knock down a couple of these drinks while you're doing it-- add some Kahlua while you're at it and you'll be in great shape.

2 frozen, large banana, as ripe as possible
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 cup almond milk
2 tsp butter extract
1/2 cup pineapple chunks, frozen
1 tbsp chia seed
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
handful of ice cubes

Monday, August 13, 2012

Israeli Couscous Chickpea Risotto


I know it's normal, but I still always get asked the question, "Don't you get tired of eating salads and pasta?"  Well, yes, it would get tiring, just like how it must get tired of eating steak and cheeseburgers for every meal.  Overgeneralizations can make any logical train of thought seem ludicrous.  I'm sure you've all had those experiences when you've come inches away from taking the nearest heavy object to the skull of the person that refuses to stop bombarding you with questions and accusations about your diet, lifestyle, and sexual habits, but that will never sway stupidity from, well, being so stupid.  On the spot, there are always only a handful of things I can think of that I eat (on those rare occasions that I play along with their arrogance).  And you can't even bring up meat fillers, even if they are home-made, because then the critic will cite that as proof that you can't 'really' give up meat, you're just changing the source.  It's really like a game of chess, except in this game you've only got a few pawns and a queen, and the opponent doesn't have to follow the laws of the game.  To attempt to create a dialogue regarding ethical consumption, unsanctifying human life, and anthropological epistemiology is akin to using a whiffle ball bat to break down a brick wall.

Anyways, this was a conversation I attempted to avoid recently.  It appears the most obtuse folks are almost the most stubborn, and after figuratively and literally cornering me on the subject, I was forced to have this dialogue with a man who scoffed when I mentioned hominoid... ahem, human evolution-- "so you're trying to tell me that you believe in evo-LUTION?  No wonder why you eat grass".  Needless to say, the dialogue turned to the almighty and his rule to give us dominion over all living things (although not said so eloquently).  Attempts to discuss the diet of Eden led to (I'm not kidding) talking about how in the Simpsons when Homer was Eden he ate bacon.

The point for me bringing this up is that no matter what, you cannot educate those that refuse to be educated.  You cannot let yourself get wound up because of another's stupidity.  You cannot disprove what others believe to be inevitable fact.  And for that reason, I laughed, shook his hand, and left him to live his life.

This recipe, based from an Israeli Couscous recipe I had many years ago, seemed fitting after this discussion.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup chickpeas, either canned or already re-hydrated
1 cup israeli couscous
1 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp fresh ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in large skillet (with lid) over medium-high heat.

Sauté red onion, garlic, and green onion for 2 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients (except salt and pepper).

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Remove lid and stir. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Viennese Potato Leek Soup

  Soups, contrary to popular belief, are both a cool-weather and warm-weather food.  On rainy summer days, a nice bowl of warm (not hot) soup can be the perfect food.  This is a simple recipe that incorporates the potatoes and carrots in season and is a delicious year-round vegan Viennese Potato & Leek Soup.  

This year, with the crazy weather we've been having, has been reeking havoc on our crops, and our potatoes were the one that took the biggest hit.  They survived and were doing extremely well until early-mid July, at which point the stalks started dying off, for whatever reason.  This seemed to be the case with the onions as well, which seemed to just suddenly begin to die off in chunks.  Fortunately, one of the great things about growing potatoes and onions is that even if their greenery dies off, the root is still good to eat and in a safe, healthy store space.  That said, it's always important with potatoes to make sure to cut off any significant green areas on the potatoes, which will be the top part of the potato which has been poking out of the surfice.

The potatoes in this soup were all from our garden, and they were delicious!  Make some of your own and let us know how it is!

7 cups vegetable broth
2 cups onion, sliced
2 1/2 cups sliced leeks
1 tsp dried marjoram
8 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup soy creamer
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 pinch ground cardamom
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced potatoes
1 tbsp extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil

Place 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons broth in a large, non-stick pot over medium heat. Allow to warm, and add onions, leeks and marjoram. Saute for 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes and the remaining broth, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

Add the cream, ground black pepper and cardamom. You can choose to puree some, all, or none of the soup in small batches by placing it in a blender. If you don't have a high-quality blender, you'll end up with a grainy texture, so if this is the case I wouldn't recommend it.

Add carrots.

Remove 1-2 tablespoons of the broth from the soup and place in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the mushrooms to the large skillet and saute until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are golden in color. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the mushrooms to the pureed soup. Stir together and serve.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Peanut Butter and Cocao "Reese's" Banana Smoothie


This smoothie is one of Ashley's favorites and has made it into our weekly rotation.  It is, however, higher calorie because of the peanut butter, which makes it much more filling, so this shouldn't be something like a snack but possibly a meal replacement or an after work-out replenisher.  I should warn you though, it is really, really good.  And I should also warn you that it is a tougher drink to clean from the blender as well.  Even with this battle, it's plenty worth it.  

Which brings me to the book it's paired with, Incendiary Circumstances by Amitav Ghosh.  Ghosh brings to light a first-hand account of the chaos occuring around the Eastern World, with a strong focus on India and Pakistan.  His accounts, during which he speaks one-on-one with those living in places such as the national line between Pakistan and India, offer an uncanny vision of the world as it slowly becomes destabilized.  A tough, enduring read (for that's the only word that I can imagine describes working your way through this collection of essays).

As for the shake:

1 large banana, frozen
1/4 cup coconut, soy, rice or hemp milk
8 big coconut water or non-dairy milk ice cubes
1 Tbsp peanut butter
dash of cinnamon

1 tbsp flax seed 
1 tsp cocoa powder

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Insanity Mid-Terms, Shakeology, and the Power of Focus

Well, it's now been 4 weeks of Insanity, and after the swearing, flailing, and sweating, I've managed to see some decent results.  Shaun T has officially been marked as Ashley's nemesis, and the reality of how out of shape I was after a year off of real working out is starting to hit.  A few nights ago, to take a break from Insanity, Ashley and I decided it would be a good idea to do Kempo X from Tony Horton's P90X-- it would be a good, somewhat fun workout so we wouldn't feel so guilty for taking a night off.  After being used to Shaun T's high-paced chaos/self-mutilation, Kempo was laughable.  Thinking back to before I jumped on Insanity, I remember being fairly exhausted after Kempo.  Clearly, that had changed.  We followed up the workout with smiles on our faces, and we crushed some protein smoothies.  The one pictured below is another smoothie that I have discovered is a great way to cover up the bitter/tart flavors of protein powder-- what we've got here is 6 strawberries, 1 frozen banana, an orange, a cup of vanilla unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp flax seed, and ice.

So anyways, after 4 weeks, I've gained 4 more pounds of muscle than I had the last round through without the protein, so it is clearly making a difference.  I'm thinking that when I level off my lean muscle weight I will try changing proteins and seeing if one is more effective at muscle mass than another.

A quick word on Shaun T's Insanity.  The spectrum of opinions on work-out routines such as this is pretty wide, with some finding it as the only way for people with a significant amount of training to build muscle correctly, while others find the idea of following 12 or so workouts as ludicrous and asking for injury wherever the weak points exist within the work-out regime.  Hopefully, most of you fall in the middle-- as do I.  Of course there are dangers in doing the same motions for extended periods of time (i.e. months, years, etc.); however, it does have its positives.  Programs such as Insanity are developed to improve the physical condition of anyone that does it-- and in a (relatively) safe way.  I personally find a rotation of Tony Horton's Power 90 Series workouts (P90, P90X, P90X+, P90 Master, One-on-One, P90X2), Shaun T's Insanity & Insanity-- Asylum, and a few other workouts, when integrated together, give me enough variety and new stimulation that many muscle groups are worked out in different ways, and most importantly to me, I don't get too bored.  The problem with most of these programs for me is that after 50 days or so you are completely tired of spending an hour a day doing the same routines.  A good mix is perfect-- as Tony Horton himself loves to say, variety is the spice of life!  With that in mind, I'm planning on getting my hands on Tap-out XT-- I'll let ya'll know how that goes!

As for the shakeology, many people are hesitant about drinking what seems to be a chemical/protein cocktail.  While most of them are not vegan (although they've come out with a vegan alternative lately), I completely agree and tend to stay away from the stuff.  My substitutions (such as the above drink) working swimmingly-- I feel refreshed, energized, and I am able to replenish many of the nutrients and proteins needed to allow the muscles to rebuild.

On a final note regarding these programs.  The one thing I pushed aside from the programs in critiquing them above is that they give you a goal-- a set time to achieve that goal, and a clearly visible layout for achieving that goal.  Insanity is 60 days while Power 90 is, you guessed it, 90 days.  The programs provide calendars, calculators, and all sorts of tools to keep you focused.  The gym and the scale don't provide this as easily, and this is so important for so many people to realize that results aren't always clear.  Follow anyone that has truly lost weight or gotten in shape, and it doesn't happen overnight.  There will be pitfalls, but that isn't reason to give up!  Create your own calendar, find some of the P90X forms online that allow you to see the small changes your making, and imagine yourself on a 60 day calendar, which might be followed by a 90 day calendar, or another 60 day calendar.  Whatever you do, don't thinking about the grueling work-out ahead which you won't enjoy until your in better shape and think, "I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life" because if you do, you may as well give up.  Remember to focus on the goals you can achieve, and you'll be better off in the end.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Zucchini Bread

I should start this post by mentioning that I am exceptionally wary of squashes and zucchini. So when Andy proudly came home admonishing 3 very large zucchini given to him by a farming neighbour, I was less than thrilled. They took up precious space in our rather small refrigerator, and I had no idea what to do with them. Andy, as usual, wanted soups and stews, but as it has been 90 degrees here for the last 3 weeks, I wasn't about to let that happen. Our kitchen gets boiling hot if you so much as look at our oven.

Lucky for him, I suppose, he asked then for zucchini bread. My mum loves the stuff, naturally, and she was enthusiastic about me making it. So, with a (very brief) break in the weather that brought us into the low sixties, I turned the oven on, found a non-vegan recipe for zucchini bread, and went to work.

Lucky for you, then, here is the most delicious thing I have ever made with zucchini. (It's a pretty short list, though.)

3 cups AP flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 banana, mashed*
1 c canola oil
2  c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract
2 c grated zucchini
1 c chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and lightly oil two loaf pans. 

Sift all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, in order given, from flour to nutmeg. In a separate (and larger) bowl, mash your bananas, and cream them together with the sugars. Add in the oil, and whisk in the vanilla. Using a large cheese grater with a plate or cup underneath (although I heartily recommend OXO's grater with the measuring cup/tupperware add-on) grate your zucchini. 

Add your dry ingredients to the mashed banana and sugars in three batches, stirring until everything is homogeneous. Then,  Add in your grated zucchini, and finally, the walnuts. 

Using a measuring cup, add your batter to the greased loaf pans, making them equal in amount. Then, bake them for 50-70 minutes (depending on your oven - mine took about 65).

* You can, if you are a banana hater, sub in 1 c of unsweetened applesauce, or merely use an egg replacer. Try Bob's Red Mill or Ener-g, if you are in the market for that.