Friday, January 30, 2009

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

It was a long day today. Friday is grocery shopping day and I take the youngest with me after we drop my oldest off at playschool for the morning. Grocery shopping with an almost 2 year old is never fun. Plus it rained here last night (is it January or July?) so my drive way and sidewalk were pure ice this morning. So after putting the youngest down for a nap, the oldest and I spent the afternoon chipping away at the ice (well I did the ice chipping, she made a snowman). I am completely wiped. Still I felt some muffins with my smoothie for breakfast tomorrow so I made up a big batch of Pumpkin Walnut muffins. I only put walnuts in half of them because I want to send some for snack with my daughter of school and there is no nuts permitted at school. Too bad because the walnuts make these extra tasty. This recipe makes alot of muffins (I got 30 out of this batch) so make room in your freezer!

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cup of flax egg mixture (see below)
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup date sugar
3 cups of soy, rice or almond milk
2 cups of pumpkin puree

Dry Ingredients

4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Flax Eggs

1/4 cup flax seeds
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
Process flax seeds in food processor until well ground. Stream in water slowly and mix for a few minutes. Put in a bowl and store in fridge for at least 1 hour before using to "set". Will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Mix together all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Blend wet into the dry, do not over mix or muffins will be tough. Add in walnuts if desired. Fill paper muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 22 - 25 minutes.
These muffins are not too sweet and the walnuts add a nice crunch. I'm looking forward to a hot bath, a good nights sleep (the youngest has molars coming in so we'll see about that one) and a great breakfast tomorow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Product Reviews

I was hoping to do a food post today but I am having picture problems so I thought I'd share my thoughts on 2 products I've tried recently.

First up is Barlean's Omega Swirl Flax Oil supplement. This is a great product especially if you have young children. It's strawberry-banana flavour is a hit with the girls (I'm not a hugh banana fan but even I like it) and it is completely non-greasy tasting. It actually taste like a strawberry banana smoothie. We take it straight on a spoon. One serving has a complete days worth of omega 3's. I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a tasty way to get more omega 3's.

Second is the original flavour hemp protein powder from Living Harvest. Not that I fear that I am protein deficient but I thought a scoop or two might be a good addition to a morning smoothie. I want a more substantial breakfast smoothie and it the summer a smoothie is often a meal for me when its too hot out to eat. I think that hemp protein powder is nutritionally superior to soy protein powder based on the reserach I have done.Its high in fiber, and it has that perfect balance of omega 3's to omega 6's. The taste is ok. I certainly wouldn't be eating it out of the container straight but I mix it with raspberries, strawberries and vanilla almond milk and it goes down just fine. I will say that a serving is 4 tbsp and I currently use 1-2 tbsp. Its really not bad tasting but I think it will take my taste buds a bit of time to adjust so I'm starting off slow. Living Harvest also sells 2 flavoured protein powders, Chocolate Chili and Vanilla Spice. I went with the plain one so I could but it in most any smoothie but I've heard good things about the flavoured varieties as well. Overall I'd give this product the thumbs up. I find I do feel fuller for longer in the mornings. Also makes a great post workout snack.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oh Geez!

Mac Oh Geez that is. I have been wanting to try this recipe since I saw it on Dreena's blog. It did not disappoint! The sauce was easy to bring together and I love that I could just pop it in the oven and 20 minutes later we were eating. The only changes I would make next time would be to cut the lemon juice in half and double the garlic. And there will definitely be a next time although this a very rich dish. I loved it and so did my youngest but my oldest daughter didn't like it at all. She filled up on steamed broccoli and only ate 3 bites of this. So we had leftovers needless to say.

Since the hubby wasn't home for dinner that night I wanted to make an extra special supper for the girls (they miss their dad!) so dessert was definitely  needed. And I knew exactly which dessert I wanted. Eat, Drink and Be Vegan's Chocolate Mint Melties. These cookies are so awesome but I didn't need to tell you that. The picture says it all. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is what happens when you have a menu plan

Just thought I'd share with you some of the meals we've been enjoying lately. It probably looked like the meal planning thing had gone out the window since I have really posted much be rest assured that since I got on my feet again after that cold I've been planning and cooking up a storm. Meal time at our house has become a lot less stressful and we have a lot more variety.

First up is a dish I posted about briefly before in the spring but blogger was giving me some grief when I tried to post a picture. Below is the Mushroom Curry Penne. I always make a double batch of this and freeze a couple of individual portions for lunches for myself. This is a great pasta dish if you like things a little spicy. Not too spicy though, even my toddler loves this one.

Mushroom Curry Penne - Serves 4

1 Tbsp -  Chopped green onion
1 - Medium chopped onion
3 - cloves of garlic pressed
1 - large red pepper chopped
6 - medium mushrooms sliced
4 Tbsp - olive oil
1 Tbsp - sugar
2 ounces - maple syrup
3/4 cup - vegetable broth (i use the campbells organic veg broth)
1/2 cup - regular non - sweetened soy milk or creamer (or other non dairy milk)
3 Tbsp - soy cream cheese
7 cups - uncooked penne
3 Tbsp - Patak's Original mild curry paste

Cook your penne. In a very large saute pan lightly sauteed mushrooms in a frying pan. Set aside for later. Saute Onion and garlic in olive oil for approx. 
3 minutes. Add curry paste and sugar and stir till caramelized. Add maple syrup and cook for 1 minute. Add veg broth and milk or creamer and bring to a slight boil for approx. 1 minute till oil and milk start to mix. Then let boil down. Add soy cream cheese and stir until melted and mixed in. Add your red pepper, green onion and mushrooms and mix in well. Turn heat to low. Start adding in your cooked penne and mix well. Keep adding and mixing penne until desired covering is achieved.

Another favourite at this house is tacos. Sometimes we have lentil tacos but I think our favourite ones are the Chickpea Tacos. I like mine with tomatoes, green onion, olives and guacamole (my guac is in the bottom of the taco shell).

Eat Drink and Be Vegan's Black Bean and Orange Hummus. Makes a great lunch spread on some pita with some veggies and dip. 

And finally Veganomicon's Banana Bread. I add some peanut butter to the batter mix and my kids go crazy for it. I think some almond butter or other nut butter in the batter would be good too.

I'll post some more meals tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Soy-Free Vegan Cheesecake

I only have time for a quick post tonight but I made this cheesecake this afternoon and I wanted to do a post about it. I have been looking for a soy-free vegan cheesecake recipe for sometime now and this afternoon I tried a recipe out that I saw here.

I made a few changes to the recipe because I didn't have raw cacao nibs or cherry extract so I left those out. This cheesecake is awesome! My dad is quite the chocolate lover and he gave it 2 thumbs up. For all you vegans out there who are looking for a soy-free cheesecake recipe try this one, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Sorry for the terrible picture. The picture accompanying the recipe in the link above is a much better representation of the cake.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Drink your veggies

Ok as promised here is my post on my vita-mix and my beloved green smoothie. 

I had always wanted a vita-mix. I'm not sure how many 17 year olds sit in their beds at night drooling over a vita-mix brochure but I certainly did (yes I was a bit of a nerd in high school). More than I wanted a car I wanted that machine and I promised myself that one day I would buy myself one. Well one day came 9 years later on my 26th birthday. I had just had my first daughter the previous fall and I felt I needed to buy myself something extra special to celebrate both her birth (and my making it through labour!) and my birthday. And so I purchased my Vita-mix 5000. Immediately after I ordered it I felt guilty about spending so much money and vowed to send it back once it arrived. And when it came I broke down and told my husband just how much money I had spent on it. After he got over the initial, he said if I really wanted it that much then I should keep it. So I told him I'd try it for 2 weeks and if I didn't use as much as I thought I would then I'd send it back.

So I started to use it to make baby food. It was a lifesaver in that department. It was so fast and easy to clean. Then I started making smoothies in it. Just your average frozen fruit and milk/yogurt mix (I wasn't a Vegan back then). It made a pretty darn excellent smoothie. Then I tried my hand and whole food juice and never looked back. Whole food juice simply means that the whole fruit was used to make the juice, nothing was extracted. They say that much of the nutrients are lost in juicing because a lot of the nutrients are in the pulp and fiber.

I can honestly say that whole food juicing has changed my life. I have lost weight and gained a lot of energy and I attribute it to my smoothies/juices. I love them and my kids love them. They cheer for their monster smoothie and inside I am cheering that not only are they drinking their fruits, they are also drinking their veggies. Kale, broccoli and carrots usually. Sometimes I add other greens. The dominate flavour is always the fruits. Favorites are orange/grapefruit an
pineapple/orange. The juice is blended so smooth you would think it was extracted. If anyone is thinking about buying a vita-mix I would highly recommend it. I have never had a problem with mine.  Below is a Monster smoothie with pineapple. kale, broccoli and ice.

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Congratulations.... me on falling off the blogging wagon so quickly this new year! But the year is young and I'm just gonna dust myself off and jump back on the wagon.

The truth is I have an excuse for my absence. I've been sick, and both of my girls have been sick to. We all had this killer cold and I'm not exaggerating about the severity of this sucker. I haven't been sick like that with a cold in many years. I was almost bed ridden if you can believe it. However nothing gets in the way of a day in bed like two sick kids. My husband did a pretty good job of taking care of us until he had to go back to work (earlier than planned) so I had to buck up and drag myself off the couch. Fortunately, we all survived and the cold is almost gone.

Meals haven't been the most exciting around here. I had almost no appetite at all and pretty much sustained myself on smoothies. Not just any smoothie mind you, these smoothies are green and really refreshing. I mentioned before that I have a vita mix. I love my vita mix and a day does not go by that I don't use it. Me and the girls have a green smoothie every morning and usually another one for afternoon snack. I know many people who say that the vita mix is nothing but I super expensive blender but it really is so much more than that. And so to make up for my lack of blogging so far this year I'm going to do a post tonight about my special green smoothie and why the vita mix is my most used appliance.