Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

It's taken me a long time as a vegetarian to warm up to tempeh. I've wanted to like it for so long, and for some reason I just couldn't. I tried everything, including steaming before I cooked it and I just.never.liked.it (other than Fakin' Bacon crumbled into guacamole......). I had long ago decided I'd stop trying to like tempeh and just give up on it.

Last week when I was doing my shopping the tempeh just seemed to be calling out to me, so I decided I'd give it another shot. I created this sweet and sour version, and lo and behold, tempeh love! You could of course sub in some tofu if you too are tempeh-phobic. This makes a ton of food, enough to feed 6 easily, so scale it back to feed less, or invite a few friends, grab a bottle of sparkling wine (Gruet is vegan) and call it a dinner party.

Sweet and Sour Tempeh

cups fresh squeezed pineapple juice (bottled will work too, but it's not as tasty)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 Tbs. tamari, shoyo, or liquid aminos

2 pkg. plain tempeh (steamed for 15 minutes, then cubed)

1 red bell pepper, large dice

1/2 large yellow onion, large dice

1 bunch baby bok choy, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 9x11 baking dish combine juice, sugar, and tamari. Whisk to combine. Add in temepeh, pepper and onion, stir to combine and ensure everything is covered with pineapple juice mixture. Cover tightly and bake for 45 minutes. Remove cover, add chopped bok choy, stir to combine and continue to cook uncovered for about 15 minutes. Serve hot over basmati rice.

I served this over pineapple coconut rice. 2 cups of brown basmati cooked in one can coconut milk plus 1 cup of water. After liquid is absorbed stir in 1/2 cup diced pineapple and heat through.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hippity Hoppity

Easter's just around the corner, and as a vegan parent that can make you nearly as frightened as Halloween and Valentine's Day. From school parties to well meaning family members, candy centered holidays mean constant vigilance about what your child puts into her mouth. You'll be on a constant watch for Cadbury eggs and Peeps that find their way into your house, hoping to find and toss them before your kidlets realize you've taken away their booty.

Fortunately, as veganism makes it's way into the consciousness of more people, our vegan children can enjoy the holiday in a chocolate and sugar induced mania along with the rest of their friends. With vegan versions of chocolate bunnies, Peeps, and other traditional Easter candies, vegan children needn't miss any of the special treats that traditionally fill Easter baskets. Check out some of these great items to fill your child's basket this year:

Sweet and Sara: Makers of deliciously addicting vegan marshmallows bring to you Marshmallow Chicks and Bunnies (Peepers and Skippers) as well as chocolate decorated marshmallow Easter Eggs.

Divvies: In addition to being vegan, all Divvies treats are made in a dedicated allergen free facility. For Easter they offer 4 oz chocolate bunnies and pastel Easter Jelly Beans. The chocolate bunnies are made in limited supply, so order soon to get one before they are gone.

Peanut Free Planet: Because of Teeny's allergies, I spend a lot of time around candy based holidays researching and finding safe treats for her. Not all of the products on Peanut Free Planet are vegan, but many of them are. These adorable chocolate baby bunnies for instance are completely vegan, as are these totally sweet Easter Egg Lollipops.

There are, of course, many other vegan candies that will fill an Easter basket nicely. Or, if you are so inclined you could try your hand at this veganized version of the famous Cadbury Creme Eggs. I haven't tried this recipe personally (this might be the year), but I've read many people's absolute ravings on their success, so if you are feeling ambitious give it a go. Or better yet, create your own new, favorite, vegan Easter candy.

And let's not forget, a chocolate bunny, or a few cute Peepers and Skippers will be more than enough candy in the kidlets' baskets. I often fill baskets with stickers, temporary tattoos, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, crayons, coloring books, etc. Point is, an Easter basket can and will be just as fun sans oodles of teeth rotting sweets.

In addition to dealing with the barrage of non vegan candy making it's way into your kidlets grubby little hands, there's the extra special bonus that Easter provides.............the opportunity to be the freaky family that denies their children the opportunity to turn hard boiled eggs a multitude of pastels. Don't fret, it's not a big deal, in my pre-vegan experience children bore quickly of dunking eggs in food dye anyway, so there's really nothing lost. Replace this tradition with a new one that you create. Last year we made these "clay" eggs and painted them. Not only was it great fun, we now have keepsakes for years to come.

Holiday's as a vegan don't have to be stressful, with a little thought and a little organization your vegan holiday will be as special and rewarding as your vegan lifestyle. You can celebrate this Easter season and revel in the knowledge that you are celebrating this holiday of new life in a caring, kind, and compassionate way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pizza Crackers

It's pizza. It's a cracker. It's almost raw; and it's delicious. Unfortunately I can't take credit for this genius idea. You see, the amazing Lindsay at Cook.Vegan.Lover came up with this awesome raw cracker recipe, and as soon as she posted it I new I had to try it. And that's no lie. I read this post at about 8:00am and immediately ran to the kitchen to start the quinoa sprouting. I had both red and white, and decided to give the red a go just to add some color to the crackers. Well, after 24 hours NOTHING had happened (perhaps old quinoa.....we don't eat it much and it had been around for awhile). So much for the red. I cleaned out the sprouter and started on the white, pizza crackers would just have to wait another day. Twenty-four hours later, NOTHING. White quinoa was a bust as well. Not wanting to wait until I could get to the store for more quinoa I set about adapting the recipe to accommodate what I had. The result was brilliant. The aroma from the dehydrator was just as if you'd stepped foot in a pizza parlor. The crackers taste exactly like pizza.....maybe even better!!

I will be giving Lindsay's recipe a try as soon as I get some more quinoa, but in the meantime this recipe will suffice:

Pizza Crackers

2 oz chopped sun dried tomatoes, soaked 1 hour

2 cups raw sunflower seeds, hulled

1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 Tbs. Nama Shoyu (can sub tamari or soy sauce)

4 Tbs. Cold Pressed Olive Oil

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup flax meal

1 tsp dried onion flakes

Put all ingredients through olive oil into bowl of a food processor and process until combined into a thick paste. Remove into a large bowl, add basil, oregano, onion flakes and flax meal and stir to combine completely. Spread thin on parchment paper or teflex sheet designed for your dehydrator, and place in dehydrator. Dehydrate for 2 hours at 115 degrees, then lower temperature to 105 and dehydrate for 10-12 hours, until desired crispness.

Store these crackers in an airtight container. They will last for about 4 days at room temperature (although I guarantee you won't have them around that long!!).