plant-based

Anytime Biscuits

I love biscuits. My mom used to make biscuits like these, free form and oversized, for breakfast and we'd slather them with butter and honey.

There are for sure things that I just have to accept are going to be "different" in vegan form.

Ice cream. Angel Food Cake. 

Different meaning not as good. And I'm ok with that.

Because honestly, anything you can make, I can make vegan. And it's almost always just as good or better. (If that hasn't been true for you, let me give you some better recipes!)

And the great news is, I don't have to skimp on biscuits!

I saw this recipe last week and started craving them. So Saturday morning, I made them with all 5 ingredients, and they were AMAZING.

While they were cooling I cut up some fresh strawberries from the farmer's market and cooked them into a little saucy-jam. 

So really, I had strawberry shortcake for breakfast.

To be honest, these would be great with soup or throw some sage or rosemary in there and you'd have a lovely savory biscuit. These biscuits are for anytime!

If you love biscuits, try them. If you don't love biscuits, I don't know if we can be friends.

 

Vegan Biscuits

Ingredients

vegan biscuits

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup rice milk (I used about 3/4 C almond milk and filled the rest with water)


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

vegan breakfast

2. Line a sheet tray with parchment and set aside. I cooked mine in a glass dish smeared with a little Earth Balance.

3. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix oil, and rice milk until just combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and combine with hands. Do not overmix.

4. Form biscuits and place on lined sheet tray. I made 10 biscuits.

5. Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on size. Biscuits should have a light, golden brown color.

vegan strawberry shortcake

 

Recipe adapted from VegNews.

Super Simple "Monster" Cookies

You're simple and sweet
Why do they call you monster?
You do not scare me!

tahini monster cookie

These debuted at class last week and somehow I agreed to write a poem about them. I can never resist a haiku!

"Monster Cookies" generally have a bunch of goodies in them with a base of a nut butter and oatmeal. According to a quick google search, they are "the Frankenstein's monster of the cookie world - a mashup of different components."

What I love about these -- besides the super moist texture and perfectly balanced flavor -- is how simple they are to make. Even for the "non-bakers," this one is doable.

 

Super Simple Monster Cookie (vegan + gluten free)

Ingredients

3/4 cup tahini
3/4 cup coconut sugar (I used a little less)
3 1/2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1/3 dark vegan chocolate chips (these are my fav - nut, soy and diary free)

Other optional add ins: 1/3 cup raisins, 1/4 cup nuts
And if you aren't a fan of tahini, try another nut butter like almond or sunflower

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, add tahini, coconut sugar, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and salt and combine until well blended.

Add oats dark chocolate and any other add-in; mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Using a spoon, scoop the batter onto your baking sheet  Bake cookies for 10 minutes and let cool for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!


See other vegan cookie recipes.
See other general vegan recipes.

Photo and recipe adapted from About to Sprout.

 

7 New Habits for Earth Month

Many of us consider every day to be "earth day." Still, it's good to have an even brighter spotlight on ways we can improve.

It's easy to get down about the state of the environment, so I go back to a trusty mantra and tell myself again and again, What You Do Matters. It's all a drop in the bucket. And if we all believe that and do even a little bit, together it makes a difference.

 

In that spirit, here are 7 ideas for Earth Month.

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1. Mail old mascara wands to the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge's Wands for Wildlife program. The brushes are repurposed to help groom rescued animals. How fabulous is that?

2. Choose the right appliance for the job. Electric kettles use less energy than stovetop ones. A toaster oven uses up to half the energy of a conventional electric oven. An electric slow cooker makes soups and stews using less wattage than a stove. It truly pays to pick the right appliance.

3. Buy cardboard-packaged products rather than plastic. Something in a box is better than a bag when you have the choice.

4. Stop junk mail. Technology is making it easy to opt out of unwanted ads and offers. Opt out of credit or insurance offers, one click will cancel catalogs with Catalog Choice and I can't wait to try the Paper Karma app -- just take a picture of the junk mail and it will unsubscribe for you.

5. Plant a pot of Milkweed. It's a favorite of our bee friends.

6. Allow foods to cool completely before putting them in the frig. This saves energy and reduces the opportunity for bacteria growth.

7. For you gardeners... 

  • Sprinkle cornmeal gluten around plants to keep weed seeds from germinating. Just don't use it in the veggie garden -- it keeps all seeds from germinating. 
  • A pinch of salt at the base of a weed will kill it naturally.
  • Use up your old petroleum jelly around the edge of pots and planters to help keep snails and slugs out. (Just don't use petroleum jelly on your body -- it's ew!)
  • Use epsom salts as fertilizer for greener, brighter, more growth and flowers.
  • Grate a bar of Irish Spring soap around plants and sprouting perennials to deter unwanted furry friends. (That one sounds pretty weird, but if it works!)

 

Of course there are the basics -- 

  • buying only recycled paper products (like TP and paper towels, plates and napkins if you have to use them),
  • using non-toxic (which means non-mainstream) green cleaning products,
  • taking your own shopping bags
  • carrying your own water bottle (no bottled water!!)
  • and obviously eating no/fewer animal products :)

But we can do better than basic. Remember, what you do matters.

 

Side note, I signed up for the Sierra Club's Nationwide Hike on Earth Day (April 22nd). You can join a group or do an easy solo walk through the park. It's just a way to use our bodies, celebrate being outside and know we're doing it collectively... all for a cause. Check it out.

 

Resources: Nature Moms, Real Simple, Veg News

Magic Spring Sauce

It's not a pesto, it's not a chimichurri, it's a magic sauce perfectly suited for spring.

Make it and put it on everything. Roasted veggies, toast, pasta, burritos or tacos, a veggie burger -- I mean, anything.

No need to be super precise in measuring...personalize it according to your flavor preferences.

 This is a terrible picture. It's better than it looks.

This is a terrible picture. It's better than it looks.

Magic Spring Sauce

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1-2 bunch(es) cilantro
2-4 cloves garlic
1 avocado
Lime juice (lemon would do fine)
1/2 C (or so) oil (Thrive Algae Oil is my favorite for health reasons)
Optional 1/4-1/2 C nuts -- pistachios or walnuts would be great
Optional jalapeno or chili pepper flakes if you like some kick

Put everything in a food processor or blender and mix it up!

Mine was thicker, more spreadable and sauce-y.
   It could also be a pesto-like dip by adding more oil after blending
     or a thicker veggie dip with less oil
       or a salad dressing by adding a little water.

You know I'm a fan of getting extra nutrients in super sly ways, so you could also play with adding a spoonful of miso or some white beans or a little nutritional yeast...and then adjust the oil/water for desired thickness.

The Magic Sauce has limitless potential!!

Let me know if you try it :)


 

Go-to dinner starter

One of my favorite "basic" meal starters is this base of mushrooms and a green.

I almost always have those two things on hand (they are a given on the grocery list) and I can make them into at least a half a dozen delicious dishes.

Here's one:

Mushroom Chard Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

This was one of those "oops, I didn't plan dinner" nights. Thanks to my loyal mushroom/green stock, it was easy to throw something together.

mushrooms
chard

I used a butternut pasta that I got for Christmas. I had baby bellas and shiitake mushrooms, but any work. The sun dried tomatoes gave it a little sweetness. Walnuts and nutritional yeast pack in the nutrients. Of course a few cloves of garlic while sautéing the onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Greg likes things spicy, so he added chili pepper flakes to his.

The base of this dish is simple:

1. Onion or leek
2. Mushrooms
3. A leafy green like kale or chard

Just that is divine.

saute vegetables

The optional additions include:
Garlic
Nutritional Yeast
Sun-dried tomatoes
Walnuts
Miso
Other veggies like zucchini or carrots
Beans of any kind
Sprouts

I mean, anything would work -- whatever you like or depending on the season. I'm not creative in the kitchen, but I've had a surprisingly good time riffing off of this main idea.

Then, depending on what you have time for, what else you have on hand, your cravings, and a million other things, you can turn this into all kinds of goodness. 

veggie pasta

You can make it into a Buddha Bowl -- quadrants of mushroom, green, a bean and a whole grain. Add some avocado, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and drizzle with your favorite vinegar-style dressing.

Have it with a fresh green salad.

You could turn it into a soup (a miso broth would be delicious).

Or.... burritos!

It's easy and fun to pay around with this one. Let me know if you try it out!

 

vegan baking

Around the holidays I got into the habit of baking for the folks in my Sunday morning class. It was so fun for me (and they seemed to love it) that I've continued to do it, experimenting with recipes and "wowing" people who thought vegan treats all tasted like cardboard.

I keep promising to post the recipes, so here are a few of the favs.

The first cookie is actually a cookie -- sweet and treat-like. The other two are yummy enough to feel like treats, but they are FULL of healthy adaptogens and superfoods. So you can indulge AND feed your cells.

If you have favorite treats or healthy snacks, I love to hear. Enjoy!

 

Soft Pumpkin Ginger Cookies

vegan pumpkin cookies

Ooooh these were good. They flattened out quite a bit, but did stay soft and chewy and had GREAT flavor.

I don't reserve pumpkin just for fall -- to me these are an all-season cookie.

 

(Rose Flavored) Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies with Cashew Cream Filling

vegan cookies

I thought these would be hard/complicated, but they weren't. The man in my house didn't like the sound of rose, so I did NOT make mine rose flavored. Instead I tried a few drops of spearmint essential oil. It wasn't bad, but I didn't love it. Several students seemed to really like it, though. It probably just depends on how much you like mint (tho the mint flavor was really subtle).

Because the original "rose flavored" recipe used pink cashew cream, I thought I'd get creative and make mine blue. Not advised. It clashed with the bright green pistachios.

natural food coloring

 

Just a note about food coloring...conventional food coloring is made with chemicals and is not vegan. I found this brand at our local Co Op, which is totally natural and uses fruit and vegetables for coloring.

 

 

Bliss Balls

bliss balls

I've made two versions of these -- turmeric and basic cacao. The cacao are my FAVORITE. Someone in class said she liked the Thumbprints (above) better because there were not as sweet and rich as the BBs.

So if you like RICH and DENSE (i.e. grounding, satiating), then try these. If you like less sweet, go for the Thumbprints.

They are SO easy to make -- the only note is that some of the fancy adaptogenic ingredients are hard to find. Honestly, just come to class and I'll make them for you :)

 

gingerbread yoga people

If you love ginger, gingerbread, molasses or if you are vegan, these cookies will be your dream come true.

I'd never made gingerbread cookies before, but every year a girlfriend and I have a standing holiday cookie-making date (truth be told, we mostly drink mimosas), and this year I was determined to find delicious vegan recipes.

My neighbors were the test group and the gold stars came in the form of hand written thank you notes. I call that a thumbs up!

I know the holidays are over, but I think gingerbread is year-round. Just change up the shapes and dressings -- you can have snowflakes in January, hearts in February, tulips in March... I will come up with anything to keep the gingerbread cookies alive. And after tasting them, you will too!

Vegan Gingerbread Cookie Recipe by The Spruce

I followed the recipe to the T, including sifting the dry ingredients into the bowl. I refrigerated the dough for about 3 hours and had to add a lot of flour in the rolling and cutting. 

vegan gingerbread cookie ingredients

Remember that sugar is not vegan -- bone char is used in the processing. Organic sugar IS vegan. I use all organic ingredients whenever possible.

A simple powered sugar (organic!) and almond milk frosting got a little pep by adding some cardamom (which I add to pretty much anything that will stand still).

I found some vegan "natural" food coloring at our local natural foods Co Op. I just used a toothpick to add some personality to the yoga folks (hello, fancy yoga pants!). The pose cookie cutters were a gift from a friend a few years ago.

The best part was taking these characters to class and having people Oooh and Aaaah and come back in the building for seconds...and thirds. I cannot tell you how DELICIOUS these are. Seriously. Print the recipe, go to the kitchen and make them.

vegan gingerbread cookies

stewed apples

Why I don't make this for breakfast all year long makes no sense, given how excited I get when I remember that it's fall, the perfect time for a little sweetness and warmth. In Sacramento, we get fresh Apple Hill apples at the local Co Op, which is usually my cue that stewed apples are what's for breakfast.

In-season fruit is always best -- for the environment and your body. A variety of foods throughout the year is ideal.

Because this recipe uses fresh ginger, it's a good way to warm up and get the digestion, which can be a little sluggish in winter, back in gear.

And in celebration of all the other fabulous fall fruit, I've been adding red pear and more recently fuyu persimmons (high in antioxidants and many vitamins including many B-complex vitamins).

In the system of Ayurveda, fruit is eaten separate of other foods (especially dairy -- apologies to those of your who love fruit with your yogurt). Most fruits are somewhat acidic and digest rather quickly. When combined with more complex foods, the fruit can move through the digestive tract too slowly and can cause fermentation, gas and bloating.

I usually put this on the stove and let it simmer while I'm having my warm lemon water, then I'll eat this as a "first course" to breakfast. Sometimes it's enough; sometimes I want some hot cereal for a little more fuel. Give fruit about 30 minutes to digest before eating anything else.

I know it may not be feasible to make two dishes for breakfast -- although you could make them simultaneously.  I make a big pot and then store two portions in the frig for the following days. In a pinch, if I'm heading out for the day, I'll break some rules and have half of a bagel or zucchini bread to go as my second course.

The recipe is simple and modifiable -- adjust the spices and ratios to your liking!

Stewed Apples

1 apple (choose tart or sweet as you prefer)
1 red pear (optional)
1 fuyu persimmon (optional)
1/2 t fresh grated ginger
1/4-1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 t ground cardamom
drizzle of honey (optional)

stewed apples

Chop apple and put in a small saucepan with 2-4 T of water (just enough to cover about 1/4 of the apples). Add ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. You could also use a dash of clove, nutmeg or other favorite spice.

IMG_5677.JPG

Bring to simmer and reduce heat. Let cook on a light simmer until fruit is just starting to soften. Add other fruit (the pear and persimmon will take less time to cook) and simmer another 5 minutes or until fruit is at desired softness. A couple of dates would be really great in this too!

breakfast

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. You can mash it if you like more of a sauce. I don't add any sugar, but if you use a tart apple, you could use a little honey for sweetness. Eat warm, juice included.

I hope you enjoy this fall treat as much as I do. Remember to adjust the spices to your liking. And this dish isn't relegated to breakfast -- it makes a great snack or dessert. Just make sure you have at least an hour before and 30 minutes after eating other foods.

eat well or exercise?

There is an Ayurvedic proverb which reminds us of the power of food:

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. 
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

Food truly is medicine.

And while exercise and eating well should not be mutually exclusive, if scientists have to pick one as the biggest determinant of your health, it's what you eat.

Isn't that amazing? More than exercise, eating nutritious food determines your health.

The science of Ayurveda agrees -- digestion is the seat of health. It's the first place to look when something is out of balance.

Rather than adding supplements -- or worse, taking medication -- making better choices about the food on our plates is something that is accessible every single day. 

And then, if that doesn't address the issues, supplemental support may be necessary. But Ayurveda always looks at food first (healthy relationships, including with oneself, are second).

 

Portobello Pot Roast

In celebration of fall here in California, I thought I'd share a recipe. 

The mark of a good fall meal is that you have to eat it with a spoon. Our bodies do well with moist, heavy, warm foods to balance the dry cold of the seasonal shift.

I've made this Portobello Pot Roast twice and it's a winner. You know I love mushrooms and this is the perfect blend of comfort and nutrition.

Ingredients

1/2 cup red or white wine
4 large portobello mushrooms sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large onion sliced
2 cloves garlic pressed
3 tablespoons flour if sensitive to gluten use gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon rubbed or fresh sage
1 teaspoon dried or fresh basil
3 cups vegetable broth
4 large potatoes quartered
4 large carrots cut into 3-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or lemon pepper to taste
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (for slow cooker instructions see recipe notes)

In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the wine and add the portobello mushroom slices. Allow them to cook through and brown a bit—you’ll need to keep moving them around and turning them—and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the pan and add the onion and garlic. Caramelize the onions by stirring them until they wilt and begin to brown. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Mix the flour, sage, and basil together in a small bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup of the broth to create a paste, and pour the mixture into the same pan you used for the mushrooms and onions. While stirring constantly over medium heat, very slowly add the rest of the broth so that you create a gravy or sauce.

When the mixture just starts to boil, turn the heat off and add any additional seasonings.

Add the potatoes, carrots, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce to the gravy mixture. If more liquid is needed to keep the vegetables from drying out, add more broth.

Add the mushrooms and onions to the mixture and ladle into a large ceramic or glass pot or casserole dish with a lid, layering in the sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Place the lid on and put into the oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

A side (or bottom layer) of brown rice or quinoa would make this just about as nutritious as possible.

Recipe and photo from A Virtual Vegan.

Let me know if you make it or have any creative additions!

 

Plant-Based or Vegan?

What’s the difference between being plant-based and vegan?

There are a couple of ways to approach this comparison.

First, plant-based, or plant-based nutrition, describes a diet consisting of whole plant foods and minimally processed plant foods.

A plant-based person does not eat animal parts or products such as meat, bone, eggs, milk, butter, gelatin, etc. Generally, the plant-based approach does not include refined or processed foods, which are considered “plant fragments.”

What is a “minimally processed” plant-based food? Salsa, nut butters, applesauce, hummus, vegetable broth, oatmeal and guacamole are some examples of foods that are no longer in their whole food form, but have been minimally altered.

Condiments are generally accepted as minimally processed, as are corn tortillas, whole grain breads and pastas.

 

The vegan approach is the same in that no animal parts or derivatives are eaten.

But there are a couple of distinctions.

Veganism is a lifestyle and an ethical and political stance against anything that involves the use of animals or animal products.

So in addition to food, vegans abstain from wearing leather, fur, wool and silk, and using products (household, cosmetic, etc.) that are tested on animals.

 

A person can be vegan and not plant-based.

The other distinction is in the food chosen.

Vegan eaters don’t eat anything with animals or animal products in it, but that doesn’t mean they’re eating plants.

Potato chips, candy, soda, and vegan cookies are considered “vegan” as long as they don’t contain eggs or dairy. (However, mass-produced white refined sugar is not considered vegan because of the bone char used in processing.)

Not all vegans eat processed or junk food, but the premise of the vegan approach alone doesn’t restrict those foods, so it is possible to be an “unhealthy” vegan.

 

A person can be plant-based and not vegan.

While plant-based eaters might choose that approach with the environment and animal treatment in mind, it’s possible they are doing it more for the health benefits.

It’s even becoming more common for doctors to suggest a plant-based lifestyle to help manage high cholesterol, heart disease, type II diabetes and hypertension.

So the term plant-based doesn’t usually have the political and ethical pull to it like vegan does.

 

If you are worried that plant-based eating is going to be super boring or taste like cardboard, I have some mouth-watering news for you: Pulled BBQ Mushroom Sandwich.

It’s the new favorite in our household. And it is SO easy to make (and I used to consider opening a macaroni and cheese box “cooking”).

 

If you are interested, for any of the reasons, in learning more about how to reduce or eliminate animals from your diet safely and deliciously, the upcoming Plant-Based Nutrition series is a great place to start.

If you already dabble, this will be an opportunity to expand your recipe base, check in on your nutritional requirements and hang out with some like-minded eaters.

Plus there will be taste tests each week!

If you have any questions, just ask.

Register here.

 

pulled bbq mushroom sandwich

"What do you eat?"

This is a question I get all the time. All the time.

Thankfully, there's a whole world of creative, simple and delicious dishes that don't include animals.

And for someone like my boyfriend, who stopped eating meat about a year ago because of the environmental impact animal ag has on the planet, but loves meat, this sandwich is redeeming!

Mushrooms in general have a more hearty, "meaty" consistency and are a great source of protein, fiber and many important vitamins and minerals.

These trumpet and king oyster mushrooms eerily mimic the texture and look of pulled pork.

What really makes this sandwich for me is the slaw -- kale, carrot and red onion. It's the perfect tang to the spice of the BBQ sauce.

pulled bbq mush.JPG

This recipe is adapted from Chef Chris Rubenstein's of the same name. The original calls for smoking the mushrooms; I marinated them for a few minutes in liquid smoke and baked them. I also decreased the sugar and lightly steamed the vegetables for easier digestion.

The organic fries were a splurge and added the perfectly salty compliment.

I thought this was going to be more work than it was -- it was simple and quick.

Let me know if you make it!

And if learning more about how to reduce or eliminate animals from your diet is your jam (no pun intended), check out my upcoming Plant-Based Nutrition series.

 

Pulled BBQ Mushroom Sandwich

Servings: 4-6
Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound whole trumpet/king oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1/8 cup water
1 each head kale, finely sliced (chiffonade)
2 each carrots, peeled and grated
1 each red onion, julienned
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup BBQ sauce
4 each sandwich rolls

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Clean the mushrooms and leave whole. Toss with the liquid smoke and a small amount (about 1/8 C) of water in a bowl and marinate for 10-15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, to prep the slaw, lightly steam the veggies: the carrots and onion together for 6-10 minutes and the kale for 3-5 minutes. Then mix the kale, carrots, and onion in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

4. After marinating, place mushrooms and any remaining liquid on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until darkened, but do not allow them to burn. When mushrooms are done cooking, allow them to cool slightly, then shred with a fork.

5. Mix vegan mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and crushed red pepper. Whisk to combine, then pour over the slaw and stir. Place back in the refrigerator. 

6. Heat oil in a saucepan, add mushrooms and BBQ sauce, and sauté until sauce is caramelized and has coated the mushrooms.

7. To assemble the sandwich, place kale slaw on the bun and top with mushroom mixture. Option to top with sprouts or microgreens. Bon appetit!


Notes: You can find liquid smoke at health food stores and the flavor/quality of the BBQ sauce will reflect in the dish.