Monday, March 28, 2011

A Week's Worth of Plastic: Round 7

It wasn't that long ago that my entire collection of food storage containers was exclusively plastic. A mish-mash of Ziploc, Tupperware, Rubbermaid with a healthy dose of Chinese food & bulk bin containers thrown in the mix. I only ever use the (intended for) single use containers a few times before they crack, and only ever for freezing things but I still can't bear the thought of throwing them out after their mere single use despite the fact that I have more of them squirreled away than I could ever fit in my freezer. A year or two ago I started buying glass containers when we needed things to carry our lunches to work or school. I figured I wouldn't microwave (this was before we ditched our microwave) my food in plastic at home, so why would I do it anywhere else?

It started with two rectangular containers (the lids are plastic mind you) that would fit a good sized slice of lasagna, and that was it for awhile. Then one day at Superstore they had ALL (!) of their Anchor Hocking glassware on sale for half price! I figured they were clearing out & discontinuing the line, but it turned out they weren't. I snagged these ones along with some others (on yet another occasion when they had it all on sale!) and I LOVE THEM. I've seen them at Canadian Tire as well (if you don't have a Superstore/Loblaws/No Frills/Extra Foods/Atlantic Superstore etc nearby.


For more non-plastic options, this is a BC based site that sells everything from plastic-free ice cube trays to straws & containers. And if you have little ones at home, you'll appreciate that all of their stuff is stainless steel (not glass!).

And here are a few suggestions for non-plastic alternatives in the kitchen. We use a TON of antique canning jars for everything from storing quinoa & raisins to rice & dried beans. I'm always on the hunt for funky lookin' old jars!


1. Garbage bag for the weeks garbage
2. Chocolate bar wrapper
3. 4 Coconut milk fudgesicle wrappers
4. Leave-in conditioner bottle (finally used up!)
5. 2 Bread bags & tag
6. Cracker bag & tray
7. Goat's milk yogurt tub (greek night!)
8. Goat's cheese tube
9. Uncontaminated oats bag
10. Various stickers from fruit
11. Seal from box of dishwashing soap
12. Miss Vickies chip bag
13. 7 pieces dental floss
14. Tortilla chip bag
15. Pasta bag
16. Bunny hay bag
17. Razor blade
18. Steak package- for dinner (not shown)
19. Salad dressing bottle
20. Lid from (glass) bottle of sesame oil
21. Backing from page of labels
22. Individual miso soup package (not shown)
23. 2 bulk bin bags (from my pre-bulk bin bag days)
24. Salad tub
25. Hummus container & seal
26. Rice cracker container
27. Instant soup package
28. Lid to glass bottle of liquid calcium
29. Pasta bag
30. Spatula (broken)
31. Pad Thai noodle bag
32. Mushroom tray & wrap (also from pad thai)
33. Tag from green onions (pad thai)
34. Bag of bok choy (you guessed it...)
35. Produce bag
36. Pull tab from bottle of sesame oil
37. 3 Plastic rings attaching price tags
38. Clothing store bag (too small to use for bathroom garbage; forgot my tote bag at the mall!)
39. 2 baggies from goggles for tanning (I know, I know... I just don't want to end up looking like THIS again!)


Oh, did I not mention that we're venturing out on a tropical vacation next month? 
More details to come!

So last week I made mention of the new packaging that Stahlbush was introducing into the marketplace. I was stoked that there would finally be a source for frozen produce (until spring comes) that wasn't packaged in plastic. Turns out things are not as they seem...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bitlets For You This Past Week: March 21-27, 2011

Meatless Mondays at colleges across the US is certainly a step in the right direction!

Have you seen this new Philadephia product called "Cooking Creme"?? How ridiculous is it when a giant corporation thinks that they need to create a product to replace a 'real food' that has been used for ages in kitchens with some processed junk? If you see it in the stores, take a look at the ingredients... gross. (And why!??!?)

Ever find that when you're stressed out you tend to get sick? Stress affects the balance of bacteria in the gut and immune response.

The only true way to sustain long term weight loss is through a lifestyle change towards improving your health. Not via these funny 1930's era gimmicks.

This is important info if you use Tylenol (acetaminophen) whatsoever. Read it.

 This is kind of ridiculous; an "orchestra" performed by old kitchen appliances!


This is disgusting! One of those times where human "innovation" has crossed the line for sure.

I suppose you could say that the "American Dream" isn't so dreamy any more... Cancer increasing as nations world-wide adopt Western habits. Surprised? I'm not....

I can't wait to get my hands on some of these!

An interesting read on non-celiac gluten reaction

Some helpful tips for going dairy free. Did you know that many people with gluten "issues" also do not tolerate dairy well? Have you thought about taking it out of your diet?

Obesity rates are higher in those involved with the church. Find out why.

Is a massive child nutrition study really just an attempt to increase dairy consumption in Asia?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Week's Worth of Plastic: Round 6

This weeks tips on Re-Nest.com's No New Plastic Challenge included making your own shampoo, pet waste disposal & using up pantry & freezer stashes. None of which I've done! Naturally we go through items in the freezer and in the kitchen day in & day out, but as these people are on a schedule (No New Plastic For a Month) rather than a lifestyle change, who's to say that they wont just use up all their stuff, and when the month is over, just run out to Costco & restock? Hopefully that's not the case. I would imagine that a month of not buying anything plastic would yield some insight toward the degree that plastic has permeated our culture. After only one week of reducing out plastic output, the exercise certainly increased my awareness of the issue! Now it's like a competition!

Stahlbush Island Farms is in the process of introducing a new biodegradable packaging for its frozen produce. Unfortunately the bag of peas that I bought this week was not the new packaging. It seems that everywhere in this town that sells Stahlbush products only has the biodegradable bag available for the frozen corn. It was enough to make me check out their website to see if it was only the corn that was going to be sold with the new package. Maybe it just sells faster than the other varieties?


1. 7 pieces dental floss (not shown)
2. DQ soft serve ice cream tub
3. Garbage bag from last weeks garbage that I forgot to add!
4. Garbage bag from this weeks garbage
5. Allergen free "Chocolate Chips"
6. Corn chip bag
7. Toothpaste tube
8. Instant noodles package
9. Stahlbush frozen peas bag
10. Frozen corn bag
11. Juice box straw
12. Bread bag
13. Produce bag
14. Almond butter jar seal
15. Windshield washer fluid jug
16. Deceptive inner bag from box of pasta
17. Bandages from donating blood
18. Tray & package from rice noodles
19. Salad tub
20. Miss Vickies chip bag
21. Windshield washer fluid jug
22. 2 Daiya "cheese" packages
23. Tetley tea canister
24. 2 So Delicious coconut fudgesicle wrappers
25. Bread mix bag from this!
26. Kiss My Face coupon & sample lotion
27. Caramel wrappers
28. Mahem chocolate bar wrapper
29. Key lime bag from thisssss!
30. 2 Cups, lids & straws from movie theater beverages
31. Envelope of "cheese powder" from KD-like "meal"
32. Earth Balance dairy & soy free spread leftover from Christmas baking
33. 2 straws from restaurant (not shown)
34. Pull tab from carton of OJ
35. Seal from container of goats milk yogurt
36. Container of fresh herbs
37. Seal from bottle of witch hazel

I made this lemon & blood orange curd last week. Not the tarts, just the curd. As a "curd-virgin" I had absolutely no clue what to eat it with/on. When in doubt? Bust the ice cream out! But we didn't have any (note the lack of coconut ice cream tubs in last weeks plastic post!), so I made a quick trip to Dairy Queen which is dangerously situated closer to our house than the grocery store. I don't think I've ever bought their soft serve in tub form before and I have absolutely no idea what possessed me to do so on that day, but I sadly learned some much needed information in doing so. When you buy Dairy Queen in any kind of package that is not an multi-purpose cup, it lists ingredients. Perhaps you may recall our New Years resolution of cutting out artificial colors AND flavors. Turns out ye ole DQ isn't exactly kosher if ya get what I'm throwin' down...  Sadface. But it's for the greater good. I haven't the slightest idea how I failed to think about this before now. Please feel free to shun me should you catch a glimpse of the lips-shaped logo in my heap of plastic from here on in. On a somewhat related note, Miss Vickies Chips no longer have artificial colors/flavors in them! Jalapeno chips are (occasionally) a part of my life again- Hallelujah!


Now, this my dear is our dishwashing soap dispenser. It was a bottle of wine once upon a time, but for the last year or so it has sat perched beside our sink filled with soap and capped with a liquor pouring spout. This allows us to purchase whatever soap we want, and not have to worry about the container it is to be dispensed from. When we lived in Edmonton, we bought soap in "bulk" from The Earth's General Store (where we could also purchase shampoo, laundry soap, vinegar concentrates etc in bulk). We don't have anything like that here, but we do try to fill up when we're planning a trip out there.


Our "new" health food store is called Ave Maria and sadly they don't carry anything in bulk. But I did find some new dish soap that comes close! As you can see, this 3 liter box of dish soap is the equivalent of three and a half "regular" bottles of soap. There is a plastic bag holding the soap inside the box, but clearly there is much less (80% less apparently!) plastic involved.

This article suggests that plastic is not the problem, but more of how we use it that is. It's an interesting perspective on the topic for sure. I donated blood on Thursday and for the first time really paid attention to the amount of plastic involved in the whole process. From the time I opened the door and handed forth my donor card, to the finger prick to ensure my iron levels are adequate (the machine tests a drop of your blood on a disposable slide similar to one you would use with a microscope), the disposable covers for the oral thermometer, the individually wrapped & disposable gloves everywhere, the bag and corresponding tubes & hoses that hold my actual blood. Then top it all off with individually wrapped cookies & juice boxes. After all that I was glad to pull an apple & my water bottle out of my bag instead! 

Photo: Miha Artnak

This plastic bag monster has taken over the capital of Slovenia! I suppose it puts an image on the excess plastic that is discarded in our society. You can be a part of the solution & live plastic free!



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy (Belated) Pi Day!

No, that's not a typo! Monday was March 14 (3/14) or when taken slightly out of context: 3.14. Ya know, like 3.14159....... Pi!

 

In the (not so) lazy days (because we just moved) stretching through September, my grandmother gave us a box (!) full of apples from a tree in their backyard. Upon getting them home, I thought to myself "What on earth am I possibly going to be able to use all these apples on/in???". Then came the apple crisp, the apple sauce, and I found a website somewhere that had suggested making up an apple pie filling (lining the pie plate with tin foil) and freezing it. Then when you're ready to make pie, just whip up the crust and drop in your giant pie shaped apple-sicle. I figured this was the perfect day to make Pi...

Umm, this happened when the filling was shaped like something!

I was lazy though & used a mix. Ya know, to try out something new. Actually, pies are nestled right beside yeasted bread on the I-don't-make-it-very-often-because-it-kind-of-scares-me spectrum. And it's not Thanksgiving. It's not Christmas. I don't have a legit "holiday" that requires pie, just "Pi Day"- no big deal, right? Sigh...


Psst, this is actually a pumpkin cookie cutter from a set I got cheap after Halloween, but it TOTALLY looks like an apple, right?

Friday, March 18, 2011

French Toast & Grilled Cheese

French toast was always something reserved for special weekends. We didn't get it often growing up, but when we did it was a treat. As someone who regularly pays around $6 for a loaf of bread, french toast certainly isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I'm thinking about what to use it for. We did make garlic bread this week that was amazing, and I thought to myself "What other bread-based items do avoid eating". Naturally french toast was dead on.


I can recall my mother making the "dip" for french toast from a recipe book, but when she taught it to me it was verbal. When I make french toast, I don't measure. One egg, a shake of cinnamon &/or nutmeg &/or cloves (I think she puts allspice in hers) and enough milk for as many people that you're feeding. Today I used coconut milk because we've got a bunch in the fridge & Udi's bread because it's my fave. And we had it with a grapefruit curd that was inspired by Jenna's tarts.


After spending more time this afternoon than is reasonably necessary, we decided what was for dinner & headed off to the grocery store. And then, upon finding a coupon in my wallet (that expired at the end of this month) for this stuff, we decided that we needed to detour (only slightly) to the health food store before we headed home. Imagine- going to the health food store for ice cream. This happens. Upon arriving, we picked up a few other items and noticed that Daiya was on sale- the new Pepperjack Daiya at that (oh trust me, it's SO GOOD). Long story short, we ended up having grilled "cheese" for dinner instead. Vegan grilled cheese. Love.

What have you "given up" since becoming gluten free?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lunch: Quinoa Salad


You've never had Quinoa? "Keen-Wah", not quin-oh-ah ;) Let alone cooked it you say? Don't be afraid, it's not scary at all! Here is all you ever needed to know about cooking quinoa. From a true pro. This is totally something you can throw on before you get in the shower (provided you've got a rice cooker- it can do more than cook just rice ya know!).

I love leftover quinoa cooked up with raisins & cinnamon for breakfast (I've never been a big fan of oatmeal, but I do this with rice too!). It's such a versatile seed (not quite a grain)!


I love a big bowl of quinoa salad, but I can't exactly give you a recipe for it, as it's never the same as last time! This, dear is SO versatile that you can throw just about anything into it! A few ingredients commonly hanging around my kitchen that can be thrown into a quinoa salad?

olive oil
lime/lemon juice
chickpeas
black beans
white beans
kidney beans
green onions/chives
corn
peas
sundried tomatoes
roasted red peppers
S&P
fresh herbs
capers
diced bell pepper
sesame seeds
artichoke hearts
shredded carrot
olives
diced cucumber
hazelnuts
fresh tomato
salsa
microgreens

As you can see, the list goes on and on! Feel free to use any or all of these in your quinoa salad. Or maybe you have an ingredient that I've never even thought of!


Today my quinoa salad included:
1 cup red quinoa cooked with a cube of veggie bouillon
2 tsp lime juice
1 can (19oz) mixed beans
1 can (12oz) corn
3 tbsp salsa from our local farmers market
plenty of fresh ground pepper

Once your quinoa is done cooking, throw it in the fridge (you don't even have to take it out of the rice cooker pot) to cool. Prep your additions & throw em' in once the quinoa is cold. I do recommend that olive oil & lemon or lime juice are included to maintain enough moisture in your salad. Small amounts of Chicken/Veggie stock can be used as well, but keep in mind that just like rice, quinoa absorbs water! You can however use stock in place of water in cooking your quinoa for an extra flavor punch, or just throw in a cube of bouillon when you click the rice cooker on.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Week's Worth of Plastic: Round 5

This is week number five of plastic awareness & reduction in our house. And ladies, perhaps you're wondering... While there are plenty of cardboard based feminine hygiene products out there, there are also plenty more that are plastic and more comfortable by a large margin. If you're not already familiar, let me introduce The Diva Cup. After 3 years or so, I think I'm qualified to give a thumbs up to the biggest environmental savior in my bathroom. I'll throw it in now that I've saved a ton of cash ditching the disposable option as well.

“Not every woman can afford a hybrid car nor easily convert their home to solar power. Yet, by choosing to use a menstrual cup instead of disposable tampons and pads, any woman is able to make an environmentally responsible choice each month. This is no small matter. In the U.S. alone, billions of tampons and pads are dumped into landfills and the environment each year.”

-Carinne Chambers, DivaCup creator


1. 2 Razor blades (not shown)
2. 7 pieces dental floss (not shown)
3. 2 Sample packages face cream (that's all of em'!)
4. Bread bag & 3 tags
5. Bacon wrapping (not shown)
6. Tapioca starch bag wrapper
7. 2 stickers from bowls bought for blog photography
8. Lemon bag
9. Veggie bag (was on sale)
10. Seal from glass jar of artichoke hearts
11. Goat cheese package
12. Daiya vegan "cheese" package
13. 2 Plastic rings from laundry basket & pair of tongs purchased
14. Salad tub & seal
15. Various stickers from fruit
16. Biscuit mix bag (from this post)
17. Pecan bag (from Christmas baking)
18. "Bulk" popcorn bag
19. 2 Pasta bags
20. 2 Juice Box straws
21. Chocolate wrapper
22. RealFruit gummies bag
23. Taco shell wrapping
24. Salsa jar (taco night!)
25. 2kg bag of sorghum flour (as bulk as I can get it around here!)
26. Seal from jar of peppercorns (bulk bags STILL not here!)
27. Butcher paper from package of yak meat (not shown)
28. Caramel wrappers (leftover halloween candy)
29. Instant noodles package
30. Sample cup from farmers market


At the beginning of the month, www.re-nest.com set out a "No-New-Plastic-For-A-Month Challenge" suggesting that participants would:

1. Buy No New Plastic. This means that for one month you will avoid buying any product that contains new plastic.
2. Consider The Plastic You Already Live With. Take an inventory of the plastic already in your home and use this to decrease your use patterns.
3. Recycle Any Unused Plastic. If you don't use it, get rid of it the right way.

A week later, they revisited the challenge to find out what kind of difficulties people were encountering and went over some solutions on reducing plastic usage:

  • Shopped in the bulk section of our grocery store to get our grains sans plastic.
  • Made our own laundry detergent.
  • Consumed less and started working on eating those things in the pantry that have been just sitting around.
  • Made our own produce bags.
  • Made our own bread bags.
  • Took a plastic inventory and recycled more plastic than we realized we had.
  • Recognized hidden plastic sources in plastic coated cardboard, plastic coated aluminum soda cans, in clothing and other places.
  • Shopped at Life Without Plastic.

I'm eager to see what other solutions are discussed this week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bitlets For You This Past Week: March 7-13, 2011

Still working on paying off your holiday expenses? Here's 10 gf budget tips to help you along the way!

A non-stick coating made of minerals? Green-Pan processes used materials into new products to prevent waste!

Some people are really passionate about this stuff!



Treehugger.com's article: Organic Eggs May Have The Same Flavor As Conventional, But They Still Taste Better has some interesting insights confirming my hunches. Yay happy chickens!

Need yet another reason to increase your fiber intake? Reducing the risk of death from infectious & respiratory diseases. But, for those of us with gluten issues, a bran muffin isn't exactly the best fiber helper... What's a girl to do? Keep in mind that fiber is only available in plants. Dairy, meat & eggs in addition to anything white (as in most cases the fiber has been processed out) have no fiber. Vegetables have tons of fiber! Consider adding hummus to your repertoire. Amy Green from Simply Sugar & Gluten Free has just released her first book and it has a great hummus recipe! 

This is the radiation you're aiming at your brain (presumably) several times a day:

 

Despite the trendy "foodie" label, statistically less and less people are cooking their own meals. I work in a restaurant, I see it day in & out. Why is it important to cook? And to teach your kids the value of knowing how to cook? Aside from the lack of "commercially available" options depending on your allergies/food preferences that is...


Oh, and THESE look amazing!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

As much as my chocoholic mother will be displeased, I must admit- I am a lover of oatmeal raisin cookies. I may even go so far as to lose my inheritance say that they are my favorite. I am surely genetically predisposed to love chocolate as much as she does, but chocolate doesn't have to be everywhere. I prefer blueberries over chocolaty morsels in my pancakes and for years as a child I would opt for a fruit sorbet over a creamy fudgy choice at the ice cream parlor. And I'm okay with that.

As much of western Canada has, we too got a ridiculous amount of snow this past few days. There was a foot of it blown up against our door, and my car actually had to be dug out in order to be able to leave the house. I had planned on not leaving the house what-so-ever on Monday since I had the day off, as there was yet another delivery of snow scheduled. That plan stuck around for a few hours. When it became clear that someone was snowblowing our driveway (in a -30 windchill I might add), I decided to venture into the great outdoors and check it out. Sure enough ski goggles, full face mask, snowpants, the works. So I made him cookies.


I would at this point like to clarify that we did the driveway the day before, but there's just so much snow! With the howling wind blowing it all around on top of that, it was in need of a little TLC yet again. It's not that we're lazy, I assure you.


only slightly adapted from this recipe

Preheat to 350F.
Place 1 cup dried cranberries in a bowl of warm water to soak. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl combine:

1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl),  beat to cream:

3/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sucanat
1 tablespoon home made vanilla
2 eggs 
zest of one organic orange

*Typically I'll leave it to your discretion to decide what items your kitchen stocks organic and which ones "aren't worth the cost", but in this case DO go out of your way to get an organic orange. Any fruit where you're using the zest of should be organic. Think about it: conventional oranges have pesticides sprayed on the outside of the fruit. No matter how much washing you do, it's not just going to 'come off'. Do yourself a favor this time around.

Add the whisked dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.

Add in 3 cups gluten free oats.
Mix by hand until distributed evenly.

Drain cranberries well & mix with your hands (trust me, at this point there's no point in fighting with a wooden spoon, just get in there!)

Spray a baking sheet, and place cookie dough on in flattened balls, sort of like small hamburger patties.

Bake for 12 minutes, until beginning to brown.

Let cookies sit on baking sheet for a minute or two before you place them on a cooling rack.


If you forget to soak the cranberries, your cookies will end up looking like this. It's not the end of the world, they'll just be on the dry side. They are however much better, chewier cookies when that added moisture is contributed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why I Got Rid Of My Microwave

Every once in awhile in conversation I'll mention that we don't have a microwave. I immediately catch myself, likely as a result of the sudden change in facial expression of whomever I'm talking to. It seems as though people pity us, or maybe think that we don't have the money for a microwave. In truth, we did have one. But we don't any more.

When I was 14 and entered the workforce, I often spent my paycheques at Ikea with my mom. As most angsty teenagers, I was convinced that I would be moving out just as soon as I finished high school and therefore needed to have an adequate supply of household items ready & waiting when the day came. As it turned out, most of these items were things that live in the kitchen. Although I did ask for a vacuum cleaner for my birthday AND Christmas for several years in a row before it was finally wrapped up with a bow waiting for me. Perseverance paid off in this case. And with my blender, actually.

I've been gifted muffin tins, sandwich makers, springform pans and mugs. Dish racks, toaster ovens, mixing bowls and pots over the years. And yes, a microwave. It was a beast. Likely the biggest microwave I've ever seen, and heavy. And I lugged it around through more moves than I can count. And while I do appreciate all that I have been given through the years, some of these things are no longer in my possession. Like the sandwich maker. And the microwave...

When we moved away from the city we both grew up in to go north to Edmonton, and together for the first time into an apartment, we had some spacial limitations to deal with. Luckily I had most of the "house stuff" to contribute to what would become our first home. It wasn't much of a merger of two people stuff, but more of a "I have everything, so don't worry about it". Just as it was with our first camping trip together, some years ago. Somehow all the boxes of "stuff" I had amassed began to turn into a functioning home. A functioning kitchen more importantly.

Our toaster oven's name is "The Buick". We didn't name it however, it was handed down from Mr.C's cousin who (in their family) have some toast preference issues. Lets just say the Buick wasn't a good fit for them. And so it came to live on our counter top. As the name suggests, this is the biggest toaster oven known to man. It likely has "commercial grade" stamped on the back somewhere. When it came right down to it, our behemoth microwave and the mighty Buick took to battle over what limited counter space we had. In the end mind you, the Buick ended up living on top of the fridge, and the microwave in its box in the storage room. This freed up much needed space on our kitchen counters.

We kept the microwave in its box, lonely and isolated from the other kitchen appliances for 6 months or so and then figured that if we hadn't needed to use it enough to haul it out of storage, we may as well get rid of it. So I hauled it off to Value Village one day so that some lucky NAIT student across the road could give it a better life.

I could tell you about all the "bad", unhealthful reasons that accompany my need for space to cook resulting in the microwave-less kitchen that we now know, but if you've bothered to read this far already you've probably already thought about it. Might I suggest a challenge: Put a piece of tape across your microwave door & write the date (either on the tape, or maybe on a calendar if you keep one). See how long you can manage without really needing to use it.

I can remember my mom shooing us away from the microwave as kids, not to stand in front of it peering through the little window waiting for whatever it was sizzling inside. Life without a microwave IS possible and your body will thank you for not only the higher quality food you're putting into it, but for the decrease in radiation in your environment. The places where you spend your time; your workplace, you car, your bed, your kitchen- these create the environment that your body has to make you healthy in. If you're constantly bombarding yourself with chemical cleaners, radiation and other environmental pollutants that your body has to process you're not going to be functioning optimally. Go natural. Use essential oils, baking soda & vinegar cleaners, put your cell phone in another room at night, take the tv & the computer out of your bedroom. Give your poor body a bit of a break. You might even discover that food isn't "naturally" soggy and lukewarm. It's better...

Baked Beans

This makes a humongous amount of beans. I'm not kidding. But they're so good, you're going to want to be able to whip a container of them out of the freezer for breakfast in the morning. Although you can easily halve the recipe.


adapted from this recipe.

4 cups dried beans of choice, soaked overnight*

1 bulb garlic (yes, the whole thing!)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (optional; color also optional)
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
bacon, chopped (optional)

6 cups vegetable stock
4 tbsp gf soy sauce
2 tbsp molasses
1 can (156ml) tomato paste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
8 tbsp sucanat or brown sugar
4 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cinnamon

*You're going to want to soak the beans as long as you can. If you're super on top of things, you can throw them in a pot to soak overnight. If you missed that small detail, no biggie. It'll just take longer for them to cook, that's all.

Boil the beans in plenty of water until they're soft. The time this takes depends on what kind of beans you have, how big they are & how long they've soaked for. Be sure to boil them uncovered so that the white foam that forms on the surface of the water can be skimmed off. Removing this foam helps you not be so gassy!

Saute your bacon (if applicable), garlic, bell pepper & onions in a frying pan (or the bottom of your pot if you're not using a slowcooker) until soft & starting to brown (and until bacon is cooked).

Throw the remaining ingredients into your slowcooker or large pot and stir.
Add the beans and stir well for thorough sauciness. Do a little taste test before you abandon your slowcooker & adjust the seasonings if needed.

Cook for (depending on your slowcooker settings) at least an hour. The longer the better, actually. This is an awesome dish to brew in the kitchen all Sunday afternoon if you've got the time.

If you're not using a slowcooker, throw your saucy beans into a casserole dish (or several depending on sizes) and bake at 350F for an hour.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dinner: Vegan Lentil Loaf

At Christmas, I put together a mini index card "cookbook" of our favorite gluten free, vegetarian dishes for my sister. This was one of them. It's better than your mom's meatloaf. In fact, I think it's better than anyone's moms meatloaf. One of our faves for sure.

 

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp gf breadcrumbs
1 cup french lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 cups grated cheddar cheese or Daiya*
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
9 oz button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp gf soy sauce
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
Egg replacer equal to 2 eggs, premixed

*If you're going to use a different vegan cheese substitute, be sure that it's one that melts. Otherwise your loaf will totally fall apart.
Preheat the over to 375F.  Grease the pan with coconut oil, and sprinkle all inside surfaces with dried breadcrumbs.
In a saucepan over high heat, bring lentils, broth, and bay leaf to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and lentils have softened. Fish out the bay leaf.

Turn the burner off, and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Don't be discouraged; it tastes better than it looks.

 

Pour mixture into the prepared loaf pan, and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake uncovered for 1 hour or until golden.

Serve with gravy of your choice, whether it be a stash out of the freezer (like us!) or a packaged brand. You want gravy with this, trust me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vegan Key Lime Pudding

Exciting news! We found this at the grocery store this week! I had heard that it was coming to Canada, and now it's finally here! Can't wait for more products! I spoke to a manager that happened to be in the aisle at the time, and he said that if it sells well, more of their line will be brought in. Vote with your dollar my friends! 

This recipe can easily be a pie or a pudding. With a huge dump of snow overnight and no pistachios in the house, we chose to use what we had in the house & make this a pudding. Be sure to blend well so that you don't get chunks of avocado in your dessert! 




Sourced from here.

Crust:
1 1/2 cups shelled pistachios, ground
2 tbsp agave
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt

Filling:
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup sucanat (more if you prefer it sweeter like conventional pie filling)
1/4 cup key lime juice
1 ripe avocado, mashed

"Whipped Cream" Topping:
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup gf icing sugar


Crust: Preheat oven to 250F. Spray with olive oil non-stick spray. Place crust ingredients into the pie plate and with moist fingers gently press into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes until the crust begins to brown around the edges. Set aside to cool.

Filling: Blend all ingredients until smooth. Fill crust with filling & refrigerate for several hours.

Topping: Chill coconut cream in a cold metal mixing bowl. Beat in icing sugar and chill again. Serve atop your pie!


 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dinner: Curry Lentil Soup

This is probably one of our all time favorite meals. It's vegetarian, its quick to make, it's cheap & we usually have all of the ingredients in the pantry. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, and it's soooo good!



2 cups red lentils, rinsed (unsoaked)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or 1/8 tsp dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp curry powder*
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
4 cups veggie stock
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
S&P to taste


adapted from this recipe.


*curry powders vary greatly, adjust the amount depending on your curry powder of choice & your own preferences.


Heat coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic, sauteing until onion is translucent. Add ginger & spices, then lentils, stock, tomatoes, S&P. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Pour in coconut milk & lime juice. Adjust seasonings if necessary.


As this is a thicker soup, we like to have it with toast. Much like the English eat brown beans with toast. I like it for breakfast the next day.


You can also increase the amount of lentils. We usually put in 4 cups, but we've gone higher at times as well.