Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Grease Beast

Today, I would like to present to you Le Petit Beurre,  Little Butter, the inspiration for the title of this blog.  You see, not only is this body powered by plants, my car is too.  Most of the time.

Le Petit Beurre is our 1982 Diesel Mercedes that runs on vegetable oil.  That's right, vegetable oil.  And yes, she smells like french fries, unless she's busy smelling like wontons, because we run her on used vegetable oil.  Dirty old, used up, thrown out, unwanted vegetable oil, commonly called WVO for "waste vegetable oil," powers our car.  Free fuel.  Free from conflict, free from supporting big oil, half the emissions.  I can't begin to tell you how much that turns me on.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Raw Almond Hummus

I have to say folks - I have been in a rut in the kitchen lately.  We've reached the middle of winter in Montreal now, and while it hasn't been too terribly intense, it still has me in hibernation mode.  For the last week or so all I've really wanted to do was lay on the couch and eat bread.  So, I was happy today when I got hit with a little burst of motivation and inspiration.

This is a recipe for a raw hummus that comes from Cafe Gratitude's cookbook, "I Am Grateful."  It's a raw foods restaurant in San Francisco that my friends in the bay area should definitely visit.  I have the book on loan from a friend and am checking out some of the less labor intensive recipes.  All that's really required for this one is the small advanced preparation of soaking your almonds.

Almonds, and forgive me if you already know this, should really be soaked in order for you to get their full nutritional potential.  Basically, when they're dry they're dormant, and they contain an enzyme inhibitor that interferes with digestion.  Soaking them overnight does a couple of things.  First, it wakes them back up so to speak, and converts them from a dormant food into a living food.  They think they're about to become a tree and they get really excited.  Soaking starts the sprouting process and enlivens the enzymes they have dwelling within them.  This makes the nutrient, protein, and Vitamin E,  content of the nut go through the roof (or so I'm told).  Second, it neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors in the brown skin which make digestion difficult.  You can then peel them easily.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Orzo with Roasted Garlic Thyme Vegetables & Tofu

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to spend some time housesitting for new friends who live in the country north of Montreal. Remember the Get Rid of Your Sugar Sugar Scrub? Well the gorgeous bathtub in the photos belonged to this house. The owners of this home, Julie and Stephan, were also the ones who gifted us with the beautiful winter squash we used to make this Delicata Squash and Pear Salad, all before I even met them. Thank you Julie and Stephan!

It was a beautiful, quiet, relaxing break from the city, and a lovely way to bring in the new year. We spent the majority our days snow shoeing, cross country skiing, trying to get our car started, playing bananagrams (best game ever), and eating like farm hands. This meal was concocted to feed three hungry beasts with great big appetites, and it definitely satisfied. You could probably feed 4-5 normal people with these amounts, or two with ample leftovers.

Don’t be daunted by the multiple steps. This dish can actually come together quite nicely in an hour, including baking time, especially if you marinate the tofu ahead of time. Marinate the tofu in the morning, or the night before, and the rest of the execution is a snap.

Coconut Fig Cookies

This is a great little cookie, not too sweet, and it’s actually pretty nutritionally sound. You can get your sweet fix without feeling guilty, and the agave nectar and whole grains won’t spike and crash your blood sugar.

Feel free to experiment with the spices and fruits you use - cranberries and walnuts would be nice substitutions for the figs and almonds.  Happy Baking!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Get Rid of Your Sugar, Sugar Scrub

Sugar's a beast with whom I have a serious love-hate relationship.  Try as I might to date it casually, or break up with it completely, I always end up going back for more and getting in too deep.  We have a few laughs, a few moments of pleasure, and then I get carried away, wake up in a pile of paraphernalia, puffy and groggy, feeling guilty and wondering how I ended up here again.

It's a new year.  Time to clean out the cupboards.

I've done some poking around and while I can't find an exact number, the average American is consuming around 142 pounds of sugar per year.  That means I could eat a personal sugar statue of myself and still have a couple of pounds to spare.  What the what?

We all know that sugar is bad for us, so I'm going to resist the urge to detail it's evils here.  Instead, I'd like to offer something more productive to make with it than no-bake cookies;  the Get Rid of Your Sugar, Exfoliating Sugar Scrub.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Quinoa White Bean and Spinach Enchiladas

 I've recently been doing a lot of experimenting with making enchiladas out of whatever's in the fridge.  A couple of weeks ago we had enchiladas made of left-over lentil loaf with chipotle sauce,  last week we had a slightly less successful but still tasty version with mushrooms and cranberry beans, and now we've hit on the big winner - quinoa, white beans, and spinach.  I love the play of textures and flavors between these ingredients, and the final dish is loaded with protein, good carbs, micronutrients and fiber.

One of the things I like about making enchiladas is that they're versatile and you can make use of odds and ends; a half an onion, a few random potatoes, half a can of tomato paste.  They can be prepared in advance and baked when ready.  AND, as it turns out, enchiladas can actually be a food that you feel good AFTER eating, and they don't need to be covered in cheese. *

One of the key strategies I employ in the kitchen is making extra.  If I'm making brown rice, quinoa, or any other grain, I always cook a cup or so extra.  That way I can add grains to my fruit salad for breakfast, bulk up a salad, or add texture to a soup.  I do the same with dried beans - soaking some over night even if I don't have a particular plan for them,  reserving some of the cooked beans for hummus, soup, salad, etc.  Little actions like this go a long way towards making whole, unprocessed foods more accessible so that a mean meal can be whipped up on the fly in case of a hunger emergency.  Cooking in such a way, a meal like these enchiladas pulls together quite easily, even for those of us who "don't have time to cook healthily."  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Beet Cake!

It occurred to me the other day that if carrot cake is such a shining star on the dessert table, why not go for a beet cake?  Beets tend to be sweeter and they're just so dang purdy.  Sexy red cake without the dye?  I found a basic carrot cake recipe on Steph Davis's site and made some substitutions; beets for carrots, craisins for raisins, and alterations in the applesauce to maple syrup ratio.  Turns out you can make a sweet and delicious cake with only a half a cup of maple syrup as the sweetener and no sugar.  The result of this experimentation was a smashing success - a beautiful, moist, delicious, processed sugar free and vegan birthday cake for my decidedly UN-vegan friend, Mike.  Mike who used to think he didn't like vegetables but made my day when he went back for his THIRD serving of this birthday cake.

Cashew Cream Frosting

This is a slight variation on a great frosting recipe that I found on Steph Davis' blog.  She's an amazing climber, and also quite the vegan cook.  This frosting is rich and sweet while not relying on processed sugars or a whole bunch of fat.  I love it.  It's easy to make and can be altered to suit your tastes.   Next time I make it I think I'll add a bit of beet puree to color it.