Ginger Lemon Tea

My sons were “kind” enough to share their cold bug with me.  One of them hates taking any remedies of any sort and the other one doesn’t mind them, but rarely remembers to take what I tell him he should.  I, on the other hand, start dosing wildly right and left with all manner of healthy things trying to knock the stuffing out of the virus!  Vitamin C in massive doses, oregano oil, echinacea…and now this tea.  I’m not sure which thing did the trick, but I’m almost well with far fewer symptoms than either of the boys who got sick days before me. Continue reading

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Why I Choose to Use Honey and Still Call Myself a “Vegan”

This topic can be a hotly debated ~ something which I will not engage in on this blog.  This post is just to explain why I, personally, choose honey while calling myself a vegan.  Any comments that are confrontational will not be approved.  Sorry.  My blog, my rules.  🙂

I gave up animal products gradually for health and, eventually, allergy reasons.  I didn’t do it to save the planet, or save the animals (both of which I love very much.) Therefore, my decision to use honey tends toward the health benefits it gives, as has my departure from animal products.

Labels that we give ourselves can get sticky over the years as the parameters morph with people’s opinions of what those labels mean.  I do not eat meat, dairy, or eggs.  I do, however, wear leather shoes (again, for health reasons, since it allows for the feet to breathe and plastics do not) and eat honey.  You see, many years ago, when “vegan” first became a term, I understood that it meant not eating meat, dairy, and eggs.  No one put an absolute definition in the dictionary.  So, I “became a vegan.”  Then more people jumped on the bandwagon.  The parameters began to change somehow.  (I really don’t understand how that happens.)  People became angry if you called yourself a vegan and still ate honey, or wore leather, but nobody created a new word to cover what vegan used to cover!  I suppose I could say I’m a plant-based eater, but that is a mouthful.  It’s easier to just say vegan and not bother to explain details.  Most people really don’t care anyway.

Now – the health benefits.  These I have seen for myself.  I know it kills bacteria, because in my younger days I stirred some into a large container of plain yogurt to sweeten it.  It was great the first day, but when I came back the next, it was a runny liquid mess.  It had killed all of the bacteria in the yogurt!  So I know the anti-bacterial effects.  Next, raw honey has been used on a gum infection in my family with a great healing effect when nothing else was working, not even prescription washes.  When people say it’s anti-bacterial, I believe it.

Here are a couple of links that speak to honey’s benefits:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02033065?LI=true

http://www.aces.edu/urban/metronews/vol8no2/HealthHoney.html

There.  I hope that clears up why I use it in my blog.  Feel free to substitute something that meets your personal ethics, or join me in using it.

Gluten-free Pie Crust

I have been very lazy where pie crusts are concerned.  In the past, I have resorted to press-in types, because I didn’t like fussing with rolling them out.  For health’s sake, I also tried whole wheat versions with oil rather than shortening.  No one gave rave reviews over those.  Then during the low-fat craze, my crusts became even less tasty and harder to get out of the pie plate.  Rarely were there pies coming out of my kitchen.  Then I had to give up wheat and figured that completed the demise of pies for me.

Gluten-free Pie Crust 005If any of this sounds familiar, I want to jump up and down and shout that it doesn’t have to end this way for you!  I have found the solutions to my problems.

First of all, let me just say that organic virgin coconut oil is the biggest answer to all of your crust problems, whether wheat or gluten-free.  This stuff is amazing and has many health benefits.  Even though you start with solid coconut oil, as you work the crust you do not have to worry about the warming from your hands melting it and causing it to destroy the crust.  It actually makes it easier to work with the crust!

The second answer to crust problems for those with gluten-free needs is a product called Orgran gluten substitute.  This is made in Australia, but is available through Amazon I am told.  A friend shared a box with me and I was hooked.  PLEASE note, that you do not have to use this in this recipe, as I’ve given another option, but it is the easiest to make when you do.  It is primarily starch-based with some “-oses” and guar gum.  If you do not like to use those things, I’ll tell you how to skip it.

When I used the Orgran product, I both pressed in a crust and rolled out a crust.  (Pictured above are both – the press-in in the foreground with no edging and the rolled out in the background with a crinkled edge.)  The crust was so pliable and workable, that rolling it out was easy!  If I tore the crust, it easily patched with a little pressing and rolling.  Warming the ball of dough and kneading it a bit allowed for the best workability.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it was flaky, tender, and the best crust I had tasted in a long time!  Everyone liked it.  Success!  And it popped out of the pie plate without sticking, making for a pretty piece of pie on each plate.

The next time I did not use the Orgran and substituted more oat flour.  The crust still worked, but it was not as pliable and tended to want to stick to my rolling pin.  With some Pumpkin Pie Crust viewpatience and extra warmth/kneading, it still worked well.  When baked into a pumpkin pie, it came out of the pan easily and was tasty, but it wasn’t as flaky and tender.  It had a tendency to crumb a little more.  The crust in this picture of pie is using the extra oat flour, as is the whole pie pictured below.  You can see that it doesn’t fall apart.  I think it is a viable option, and definitely a cheaper one.  I am wondering as I write this if I used melted coconut oil whisked with the water if that wouldn’t help even more with the texture of the finished product and the pliability of the dough.  I will have to continue experimenting.

Another great thing about this crust is that if you want a fancy edge, it will handle the extra grief needed to produce one.  On the other hand, if you want to just bring the crust up even to the edge of your pie plate and hack it off there, smoothing the edge, it works, too!  How can you not love such a versatile crust?  🙂

I have only worked this into a single crust pie.  I do not know how the more fragile no-Orgran crust will behave in a top-crust situation, but the one with the Orgran should be fine.

This makes 3, 9″ deep-dish single crusts with a little left over when you trim the crusts.  (If you saw my pumpkin pie recipe, you know that I have 3 pie plates to accommodate that recipe.  Thus the strange number of crusts.)  You can decrease the recipe to make a smaller amount if you have smaller pans or want fewer pies.

Pumpkin Pie-Whole

Gluten-free Pie Crust

  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c. arrowroot
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1/2 c. Orgran gluten substitute or oat flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tsp. salt (with a sweet pie the 2 tsp. seemed a little too much)
  • 1 c. solid coconut oil (measure and refrigerate if necessary during the summer heat)
  • 10 T. cold water

Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the coconut oil until it is well mixed into the flour.  There should be smaller-than-pea-sized pieces formed when you are done.  Quickly stir in the cold water and knead/squeeze until the dough becomes well formed.  Divide into 3 equal balls of dough.  Onto waxed paper, roll out each circle of dough*.  If using the oat-flour-only option and it sticks to the rolling pin, use a lighter touch and be patient.  Transfer the crust to each pie pan by inverting the waxed paper over the pan.  Carefully peel off the waxed paper and fit the crust into the pan.  If there are splits or tears, just press the crust together.  Trim the top edge, finishing it as you would like.  Fill and bake according to pie’s directions.

*Another option would be to press the dough into each pan evenly and proceed with filling.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie SliceYes, I may indeed be a few months late posting this recipe compared to the rest of the recipe-blogging world.  Pumpkin everything is supposed to be served in the fall, right?  During the holidays, however, I was much too hurried to spend time taking photos before the pies were devoured and life rushed on.  Now, though, with winter swirling mightily around the corners of my home, pumpkin pie seemed like the kind of hearty dessert breakfast that my family needed.

*whispered*  “Did she just say pie for breakfast??”  Yes!  Yes, I did!  When you eat a Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Have you seen this meme on the internet?  Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin(http://makeameme.org/meme/Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have, it’s possible you contemplated not even bothering to come see my new recipe because you are tired of seeing pumpkin in everywhere, too.  But how could I not share a fantastic recipe with you?  Even if it is pumpkin.  🙂

Pumpkin Spice GranolaActually, this was an effort to try to convince my not-that-thrilled-with-granola family that granola can be special and just as tasty as the more expensive boxed cereals.  I think it worked at least for one of them, because I didn’t end up having to eat it all myself!

The great thing about this granola is that you put it in the oven for 6-8 hours and forget it.  Go to work, go to sleep; it will be there when you get back to it.  When you walk in the door, or get out of bed, the house will smell amazing!  Your stomach will begin to growl, and you might just decide to have a bowl of it right then before it has had much of a chance to cool off.

Pumpkin Granola

  • 10 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant oats)
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts, pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut to find in granola
  • 1/2 c. juice (apple, white grape, or another gently-flavored juice that blends well with pumpkin)
  • 1 14-16 oz. can of pumpkin puree (1 1/2 c. if you are using a pumpkin cooked from scratch)
  • 1/2 c. real maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. demerara sugar, raw sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T. vanilla (or more if you like)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Break nuts into pieces – whatever size you like to chew in your granola.  I break a walnut half into about 4 pieces, roughly.  In a large bowl, mix oats, coconut, and broken nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.

Spread evenly onto 2 large cookie sheets.  (I really need to get another stoneware baking sheet.  It works incredibly well here.)  Put on racks in oven and set it to “warm” or 175°.  Bake for 6-8 hours.  (Note:  I have allowed a similar granola to bake for as long as 12 hours before, but it does get very, very crunchy.  If you choose 6 hours, it will be moist enough that you should store it in a cold location if you won’t finish it in a week.)  Place on cooling racks.  Store in an airtight container only once it has completely cooled down.  What you eat before that is up to you!  😉

This is great served with raisins or date pieces.

Ripe Peach Blueberry Smoothie

Now that it’s fall and recipes are leaning toward pumpkin and apples, I’m going to bring you a blast from the heat of August!  So put on your sunglasses and flip flops and pretend it’s still hot outside.

Our friends brought back a huge basket of ripe South Carolina peaches for us twice this year.  They were so juicy and amazing!  This was one of the things I made with them.  They were so ripe that you could just cut them in half (across the equator of the peach), twist them apart, and scoop them out with a spoon (the skin was very thick and didn’t do well in the blender.)  I threw them in granola, smoothies, fruit salads, cobblers, crisps, and ice cream.

I thought I had posted this during the summer so you could make it with ripe peaches, but apparently I was wrong.  However, if you froze some of the fruit of your summer bounty, you can thaw them now and go from there, remembering the sweet tastes of summer.

Ripe Peach Blueberry Smoothie

Ripe Peach Smoothie

  • 2-3 very ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and scooped out of the peel
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 2 kale leaves, stems removed OR 1/4 c. of loose flat parsley leaves (this gives a peppery taste)
  • 1/2 c. (approximately) frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c. (approximately) frozen pineapple (optional)
  • 3-4″ piece of celery, roughly cut into a few pieces to help the blender
  • 2 T. ground chia seeds (or flaxseeds)
  • stevia or other sweetener, to taste (I use a few sprinkles)
  • non-dairy milk as needed (I prefer coconut) ~ I rarely needed any with the ripe peaches

Place the peaches in the bottom of the blender, because they will become the liquid for the rest of the smoothie.  Throw in everything else and blend thoroughly.

This makes one very large smoothie, or 2 smaller ones.

Anti-Cruciferous Stir Fry

Today was unusually helter-skelter for the whole family.  Everybody is helping to roof a house (except me ~ I’m holding down the fort doing all the cooking, cleaning, etc.)  Due to the heat, they quit early today, so K and I went to get some much-needed groceries once she showered.  It took us so long that once we got home she had only 20 minutes before she and R had to leave for Vacation Bible School, where they are key staff members!  No time for her to even eat, let alone fix something first.  Hubby came home for 5 minutes before he had to go back out for an appointment.  That left N (my son-in-law) and I at home, because J is out of town.

Now, N has unfortunate allergies to all cruciferous veggies, as well as sesame and sunflower seeds.  It makes K pretty nuts avoiding all those things at the grocery store!  And eating out?  Forget it.  Do you know how much sesame oil and sunflower oil are in things?  Bah.

I knew I needed to make something nourishing for everybody to eat once they landed back at home ~ but no idea what that should be!  I threw on a pot of rice, because at least that could be simmering while I came up with something amazing.  I’ve been hungry for a rice bowl of some sort (whether Chipotle-style or stir-fry-style, I wasn’t fussy.)  I remembered some chik-style strips I bought on clearance, so began to build an idea from there.  Originally, I was thinking lemony-“chicken”-asparagus, but it kinda morphed from there.  It didn’t seem like it would make enough.  So, while I stood at the freezer door digging for the asparagus, I saw some other bags of frozen stir-fry-esque veggies.  I started tossing this and that in until I had a pan full of yummy nutritious veggies!  Overall, it took more time and effort to decide what to fix than it took to throw it all together.  🙂

In retrospect, one of the new kinds of “veggies” I found on sale at the health food store I would not buy again.  Frozen bags of mushrooms just don’t have a marvelous texture.  I believe I would either skip them, use fresh ones (if I had them on hand), or even open a can of random mushrooms (usually I have portabellas in the cupboard.)

Anti-Cruciferous Stir Fry 003

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-Cruciferous Stir-Fry

  • 1-2 T. organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 5-8 oz. frozen tri-colored peppers
  • 1 10-oz pkg. Woodstock frozen mixed mushrooms (I recommend fresh or canned, actually)
  • 1 10-oz pkg. Woodstock frozen snap peas
  • 1 12-oz pkg. frozen asparagus spears, cut into 2″ chunks
  • 2 c. of your favorite “chicken” substitute
  • 1 heaping T. cornstarch (or arrowroot)
  • 1 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • juice from 1 very small lemon
  • hot cooked brown rice

Melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan.  Toss in the onion and carrot pieces and begin sauteing them.  Open up all of the frozen veggie bags and stir them into the frying pan, along with the “chicken” substitute.  Squirt Bragg’s back and forth across the veggies and stir again.  Turn the heat up to medium-high to get everything really cooking, as frozen veggies take so long to stir-fry.  You should see a fair amount of liquid form in the bottom of the pan ~ this is as it should be.  Stir the veggies often.  When they are to the tenderness you prefer, mix the cornstarch, chicken-style seasoning, and water together, stirring the mixture into the veggies until everything looks a little shiny from the thickened sauce.  Remove from heat and sprinkle the lemon juice over it all.  Stir.  Serve over rice with extra Bragg’s on the table.

Maple Baked Beans

Baked Beans 2I adore baked beans ~ hot or cold.  I can even tolerate Bush’s vegetarian canned ones if I have to ~ like when Hurricane Ike’s leftover wind sheers came through our area and our power was out for 2 1/2 weeks!  I love to try baked beans at potlucks, but my favorite ones are my own recipe…which can be different every time since I rarely follow a specific recipe.  I like them plenty sweet and full of onions; best served with potato salad in the summer or cornbread in the winter.  Usually, my beans come out juicier than pictured, but I baked them a little too long while I was away.  The time-bake feature is great…usually.

I have to thank my daughter, K, for getting this written down.  I have never measured before when making them.  😀  She wanted my recipe, though, so I held a measuring cup under the different things I poured in to catch what I would normally have drizzled over the beans until it “felt right.”  Then I actually poured it over the beans and checked to see if it was really enough.  It felt very strange, but it worked!  lol  Now K has a recipe and my blog has a new entry.  Nice.  🙂  Thanks, dear.

Baked BeansMaple Baked Beans

  • 4 cans of pinto beans, drained (or 6-8 cups of home cooked pinto beans)
  • 1 can of butter beans, drained (1 3/4 – 2 c. home cooked butter beans, or add more pintos)
  • 1-2 large onions, depending on taste  (I err on the side of plenty, because they cook down so much)
  • 1/2 c. ketchup (or more)
  • 4-6 T. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. BBQ sauce (I use Trader’s Joe’s Bold and Smokey Kansas City Style)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 T. nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but adds depth)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. garlic powder or 1-2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 325-400° (depending on how quickly you want to bake them; add extra liquid if you will be baking them for a long time.)  Mix all ingredients together in a 3-4 qt. casserole dish.  Cover with foil.  Bake until onion is soft and translucent.  This will take 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature you use.  Pull the foil back to check on the onion’s condition, or use a glass casserole so you can peek through the side.

These also work very well in a crock-pot!  Since everyone’s crock-pot is different, I can only suggest that longer is better to make sure you don’t have crunchy onions.  I’d opt for 8-10 hours.

Variations:  Replace ketchup and BBQ sauce with tomato sauce and extra maple syrup and more of the other seasonings.  Or replace BBQ sauce with 1/4 c. ketchup and add 1-2 T. mustard and 2 T. more maple syrup.

These are also mighty tasty if you toss in some chopped up veggie hot dogs or Bacos before you bake them.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Here’s a quick, simple recipe for your veggie “chicken”-style faux meats, like Gardein filets or soy curls made into chicky strips.  Or use it for a salad dressing, if you dare!  It isn’t a low-fat sauce, but it’s nice for a special treat.  I even think plain pretzels dipped in it might be pretty tasty!

I didn’t capture a picture of it.  I’m sorry.  It was gobbled up too fast last night!

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

  • 1 part spicy brown mustard
  • 2 parts honey (perhaps another liquid sweetener would work as well, such as maple syrup or agave)
  • 3 parts Veganaise (mayo substitute)

Whisk all ingredients together and serve with faux chicken strips, chunks, etc., or use as a salad dressing or spread for a sandwich.

Piña Colada Millet Pudding for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOWelcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I have left you my dish to enjoy (ah, the marvels of technology that allows me to schedule a post days in advance), but I won’t be joining you until tonight or tomorrow.  (I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and we spend the day in worship, rest, and family time from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  While this kind of potluck is hardly work, it is something that I focus on intently when I wade through the marvelous recipes, ignoring everything and everybody else completely.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to wait until later.)  Have a wonderful time!  🙂

Most of my pudding recipes are made from non-dairy milk, flavorings, and cornstarch/arrowroot.  While they are extremely tasty, they aren’t as nutritious as they are just plain old dessert.  I decided to mess around with a millet pudding that has some whole grain goodness along with dessert properties.  Then I don’t feel as guilty when I eat a large helping!  And my hungry, hungry teens get more nutrients for their vast calorie intakes.

That being said, don’t think that this dessert is so healthy that it doesn’t taste like dessert…it is wonderful!  You can adjust the sweetness as you desire as long as you use a dry type of sweetener.  Increase, decrease – it shouldn’t affect the overall performance.

Pina Colada Pudding smallPiña Colada Pudding

  • 1 c. millet, rinsed and drained
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz.)
  • 1 can pineapple in it’s own juice, undrained* (20 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I have had good success substituting half of this with 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder ~ and it likely would work with all stevia using 1/2 tsp.)

In a heavy-bottom pan, simmer the millet in the water with the salt for about 30 minutes, turning the heat down as the water begins to be absorbed by the millet.  Cover it with the lid askew to keep it from boiling over.  Keep a close eye on this, because it can all of a sudden scorch – or boil over – if you aren’t turning the heat down soon enough.  If there is any water left after 30 minutes, you will need to continue cooking it for a while.  A lot depends on how hot your simmer is and how heavy your pot is.  If it begins to stick to the bottom, but still seems a bit damp, remove from the heat and cover completely with the lid.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and it will loosen from the bottom and finish cooking, absorbing the rest of the water.  Let cool with lid on for about 15 minutes so that you aren’t trying to blend super hot ingredients.  (Another option is to cook your millet in the oven, covered, overnight at 200°.  It will be perfectly fluffy in the morning and can be blended after a 15 minute cooling period.)

While the millet is cooking, blend the rest of the ingredients in a large capacity blender (56 oz.)  Add the warm millet and blend until the pudding is smooth.  (This makes for a VERY full blender.  If you have a smaller blender or just want to make sure you have enough room in a large blender, you will need to do this in batches with half of the pineapple/coconut mixture and half of the millet.)  Pour into a serving bowl or individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.  Chill thoroughly.

*This makes a soft pudding.  If you like a thicker pudding that is closer to sliceable, drain the pineapple first, but it may take longer to blend this way.

vvp Thanks for coming To visit the blog ~ Healthy Slow Cooking ~ that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here!
~!To visit the blog ~ Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen ~ that follows mine in the Potluck, click here!
To start at the beginning of the Potluck (there are about 170 of us this time!), click here!

IF there are folks who did NOT post for the vegan potluck like they were supposed to, and you cannot find links to the next blog in line, please, please, please, go to the beginning of the potluck (link is just above this paragraph) and you can click on missing links from there so that you don’t miss any of the marvelous recipes of those bloggers who DID post correctly.