Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hooray for vegan bake sales

This past weekend, my local group, Montclair Vegans, held a bake sale to raise money for Vegan Outreach, one of my favorite groups. My only regret is that I didn't take a photo of the tables and tables of amazing looking baked goods, everything from spinach pockets to personal pizzas to carrot cake cupcakes to chocolate strawbrery thumbprints. I made chocolate chip cookies (photo here) and gluten free muffins (below).

This is an incredibly easy recipe for gluten free applesauce raisin muffins, using Arrowhead Mills gluten-free pancake and baking mix.

Gluten-Free Applesauce Raisin Muffins

2 cups gluten-free baking mix, such as Arrowhead Mills
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups rice milk
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup soft raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil baking cups or well-oil-sprayed paper ones (boy do these stick to paper ones without oil spray!). Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk in the rice milk and oil until smooth and well combined. Stir in applesauce and raisins. Spoon equally into the baking cups. Bake on the center rack until lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin tests clean, about 25 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to cool.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Secrets for a Fast and Easy Tex-Mex Dinner

Tonight's dinner was fabulous. It might have tasted as if I cooked for hours, but I used several shortcuts to get it on the table pronto.

The #1 criterion I use to decide whether to make a Tex-Mex-like meal is whether I have ripe avocados. Those babies have a short window of yummy edibility! Tonight I had 2 perfect avocados and only an hour to cook, so I got busy.

I made several different things, each with its own shortcut.

I had bell peppers and onions, as usual, which are the base for a perfect veggie fajita. I also had sliced portabellos and a big eggplant, so I figured why not. I decided to marinate and oven-roast the mushrooms and eggplant, since they soak up liquid flavors, and quick-saute the onoins and peppers.

My shortcut here? I put the sliced mushrooms and eggplant in a pre-made marinade (I used Goya's Mojo, but any will do) while I sliced up the onions and peppers and got other stuff ready. Later on, I threw the mushrooms and eggplant in the oven and sauteed the onions and peppers in a bit of the same marinade plus a couple of teaspoons of powdered fajita seasoning.

This is super-easy. I always start with a chopped up onion (optional; I just love onions), which I cook up in a bit of canola oil or veggie broth. Then I add soy-based ground "beef" and the secret ingredient -- tomato salsa -- as well as a sprinkle of taco seasoning. The salsa gives it that perfect kick and tomato flavor, and the seasoning keeps it real.

So quick it's almost embarrassing to admit. I just pour canned seasoned black beans into a pot and turn on the stove. I used Trader Joes Cuban Black Beans. I also often use 365 Spicy Black Beans.

The great thing about guacamole is that you can make it without cutting any corners, and it's still quick and easy. My recipe is 2 mashed avocados, juice of 1 fresh lime, and a sprinkle of sea salt. What could be easier, or tastier?

I rounded out the meal with a few add-ins: shredded lettuce (with some finely chopped broccoli hidden in there too for some added nutrition), chopped tomatoes, Daiya pepper jack cheese, Tofutti sour cream, tortillas (whole wheat and brown rice), and chips (baked organic white is a healthful option).

The kids didn't adore everything, but they liked enough of the choices to have a really healthy (and fun!) meal. And we have plenty leftover for tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I can't get enough of this sandwich!

Trader Joes has done it again -- I've been obsessed with this sandwich lately, and every one of the ingredients comes from TJs. (Click on the photo to enlarge the ingredients.) You can get most of them from other stores too, of course (except maybe this particular type of hummus) but I like Trader Joes for their great quality, vast selection (organic produce, organic groceries, and vegan choices abound), good customer service (usually -- this past week I encountered a poor-mannered cashier), and unbeatable prices. The edamame hummus is a great way to get in unprocessed soy protein, and it gives this spread a naturally sweet flavor. It has become my favorite hummus.

This is a perfect lunch for a busy day. It's easy to make, filling, high in protein and fiber, moderate in the good fats (thanks to the avocado and hummus), and bursting with protective micronutrients. It's also quite versatile-- note the list of substitutions below.

You will need:

  • 1 brown rice wrap (SUBS: 2 slices whole grain bread, whole grain pita or wrap)
  • 4 tbsp edamame hummus (SUBS: any hummus will do)
  • 1/2 small or 1/3 large avocado, sliced
  • 2 large slices of tomato
  • 2 large romaine lettuce leaves (SUBS: baby spinach and arugula work well here, or any raw green)

Place sandwich ingredients inside wrap or between bread. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Enough excuses! I'm officially back!

Emily is healthy, school starts tomorrow, my nights are no longer interrupted by multiple nursing sessions, and I'm a new person, new mom, new wife, new worker, and new blogger! I am also super-inspired by the recent Vida Vegan Conference -- a recent gathering of vegan bloggers in Portland, my favorite city (wish I coulda joined y'all! Shout out to Jen G. and all my pals who got to go!). I heard it was a tremendous success.

I've been blogging "in my head" for months now so I have some great ideas I'd like to share. With a family of 4 to feed (and the challenges with feeding one child with no teeth and another with multiple food allergies), I've had to be pretty creative.

A special thank-you to my loyal readers (many who continue to comment on old posts), family, and friends (you especially, JH) who have supported me through a pretty hellish year. Love ya, babes.